Part 6


Darien and Bobby were halfway across the compound when gunfire erupted somewhere off to their left.
All four of their escorts reacted by turning towards the sound, including Benkin, who should have
known better. Bobby didn't hesitate, grabbing the loosely-held gun of the man to his right and
ramming it into his stomach, causing the man to double over. He followed up with a vertical swing
to the chin with the butt of the gun, putting the guy down for the time being. Benkin turned his
gun on Bobby, only to have it kicked expertly out of his grip. He then followed with a punch that
Bobby managed to block. It was a sudden hit by something unseen that sent him to the ground, where
Bobby put him out with a chop to the back of his skull.

Looking about, he saw the two that had been supporting Darien were napping peacefully on the
ground. "Fawkes, show yourself," he ordered to the empty air. "It's not like you can walk without
help. We might as well work together."

A grunt of pain was the response as Darien appeared in a shower of quicksilver flakes a few feet
away. He was poorly balanced on his hands and knee, putting no weight on his bad leg. He collapsed
onto his side as the pain worsened, his head trying to rip itself apart from the inside. For a
seeming eternity there was nothing but the pain, nothing beyond the demands the gland was placing
on his system, nothing but the wish for it to finally be over.

When his eyes opened to look up at the Bobby's concerned face a few minutes later, they were
blood-red, and Hobbes knew his partner, his friend, was gone now, replaced with this madman who
would find pleasure in causing pain, destruction, and death to anyone who got in his way.

Bobby stripped all the gear he could carry and that he felt would be useful from the four men,
including several weapons, a set of keys, and a radio. He'd be able to listen in on what was going
on around the camp and maybe, with a little frequency juggling, get a message out to the good guys.

"Well, well, Bobby-boy, together again." Darien tried to get up three times before he became
convinced that his leg wouldn't support him, even though he was feeling little or no pain at the
moment.

Bobby just tipped his head to the side and looked down, watching Darien's vain attempts to stand
and walk. "You gonna cooperate, or should I just knock you out and shove you into the cell until
the Keep gets here?" At the worst, Bobby figured, he could lock Fawkes in their cell and keep him
out of harm's way until it was all over.

"No thanks. I'm not real big on cages. Even if I should be in one." The grin that overtook his face
was deadly and not the least bit amused. When Bobby held out his hand to help him to his feet,
Darien took it, but made a point of squeezing far tighter than necessary.

Bobby didn't react visibly, knowing it was a challenge. Darien wanted to be the one in control of
the situation, and Bobby couldn't afford to let that happen. Shifting his hand once Darien was
upright, he nailed the nerve between the bones in the back of the taller man's hand, making him
yelp in reaction. "You wanna play games, do it when you can stand on your own two feet. We have
things to do."

"Hobbes..." Darien practically whined. "You are no fun."

"You want fun? Then behave, and maybe we'll get the chance to make some things go 'boom' in a big
way." Bobby was getting the hang of how to manipulate Fawkes when he was like this, but he knew he
was going to need every trick to get him to cooperate.

"Well, that has potential, anyway." Supporting himself on one leg with a hand braced on Hobbes'
shoulder, Darien looked over the armament the man was carrying. "What, no play-toys for me?"

"Uh, no. Even I am not stupid enough to temp fate that far. Now, think you can do the see-thru
routine before someone comes to make sure we're secure in our cell?" This was not going to be fun
at all, based on the attitude Fawkes was sporting. Keeping Fawkes' mind on the right track was
going to take a lot of work, but at least it would help to keep Hobbes' own mind focused.

"Well, why the hell not? It's not like I'm gonna go mad or anything." Darien crowed with laughter
at his own joke and let the quicksilver flow across the two of them. With a slight change of
position, Bobby got them moving towards the building where he was pretty sure the weapons for this
little group of nuts were squirreled away.

The encampment was waking up and the gunfire was increasing; it seemed to come from at least two
different areas now. There was only one pair of guys left stationed to either side of the building,
the activity of earlier this evening having been completed and the visitors out in the woods having
drawn off at least some of the men here. With a little creativity and help from Fawkes, they were
able to disable both guards. Hobbes left Darien by the smaller human-sized door, which was set
within the huge double doors, handing him the keys to get the padlock open while Hobbes dragged the
bodies off into a shadowed corner. Hopefully they would remain out of sight and out of the line of
fire.

Darien went through all ten keys and none of them worked. "Crap," he growled. Bobby's glowing form
appeared beside him then, so he went to Plan B. Setting a hand atop the lock, he let the cold the
quicksilver generated frost the metal, coating it completely with a thick layer. "Hit it."

"What?" Hobbes asked, not quite sure what his less-than-sane partner was talking about.

Snatching the pistol from where Hobbes had stuffed it in the front of his pants, Darien shifted his
grip on it and smashed the butt into the now-fragile metal of the lock, effectively shattering it.
"Viola."

He was moving to stick the gun into his own pants when he felt the sharp point of a knife in his
back. "Hand it over, Fawkes," Bobby said coolly. There was no way in hell he'd let Fawkes run
around with a loaded weapon. First off, he was very likely to use it, either on himself or someone
else, and second, Hobbes did not need to deal with the down-in-the-dumps or perhaps suicidal Fawkes
who would emerge afterwards if he did successfully manage to use the gun. "Now."

Darien grumbled for a moment about 'never getting to have fun anymore' but finally handed the gun
over to Hobbes.

"Good, now get yer ass inside and let's see what they're hiding in here." Hobbes slid the heavy
door aside and felt Fawkes' hand settle on his shoulder as he hopped forward and into the darkened
interior. Seconds later, the quicksilver coating Bobby flaked away, leaving him visible. His
shoulder started getting cold mighty quick. "Hey, drop the frosty routine or do me again. I like my
arm."

"Huh? Oh, yeah." Darien appeared as his own quicksilver showered the solid floor. "Are you seeing
this, buddy?"

"Yeah, Fawkes. Logan wasn't kidding -- he's prepared to go to war." Hobbes was staring about the
dimly lit room in astonishment and dismay. The red emergency lighting only made the scene even more
dramatic and horrifying. The floor sloped down from where they were standing into a huge cavern that
was stocked with not only crates of weapons, but vehicles. Jeeps, Humvees, and even what looked like
an armored personnel carrier, complete with gun mount on the roof. Moving deeper into the room,
Hobbes noted the contents of the crates. Guns of course -- handguns of different makes, the P-90's
he'd seen, AK-47's -- plus cases of ammo for all of them, grenade launchers, mortars,
shoulder-mounted surface-to-air missiles -- small but effective, as their crash had proven -- land
mines, and grenades of every type imaginable, from flash to the big nasties that could spread
shrapnel over nearly a city block. Moving in deeper, they found the gas canisters containing sleepy
gas, tear gas, and all the way up to some even nastier ones that would eliminate any chance of
survivors quickly.

It was the cases of helicopter parts -- more than enough to build several birds entirely from
scratch -- that decided Hobbes.

"Well, you up to helping set up a little surprise? Get a little payback on Logan and his gang?"

"Payback? I like the sound of that." Darien was looking over the crates with more than a little
greed in his eyes, probably plotting the potential uses. Luckily for Bobby, he was far, far down on
the list of those Darien wanted to hurt right now. Well, unless he started pissing him off, that is.

"You do what I say. Got me? Or I'll tie you up till I'm done." Hobbes led him over to one set of
cases he'd noticed. Good thing he kept up on military coding for their weapons. Using the butt of
the AK-47 he'd taken from one of the guards, he banged the top off the crate and then removed the
packing material to reveal what looked like tightly-packed blocks of clay.

"We taking a pottery class, or what?" Darien was getting bored and cranky. Not that it took very
long in this state of mind. On a whim, he decided to try and get out of there. He set his bad leg
down, figuring it couldn't be that bad, only to end up on the floor with his entire leg screaming
at him. The muscles of his calf and thigh twitched in pain and his knee screamed bloody murder at
him.

"Fawkes, sometimes you are a complete idiot." Hobbes shook his head and left him lying there on the
floor, hoping it would teach him a lesson and maybe force some common sense into that
quicksilver-mad head of his. Within a couple minutes, he found what he was looking for and dragged
over a couple more crates.

"Bobby...."

Hobbes looked up from removing the packing material to see Fawkes staring at him with those red
eyes of his. For the moment, it appeared his partner had control back. "Yeah, Fawkes."

Darien tried three times to get the words out, fighting with himself, fighting through conflicting
wants and impulses that seemed to fire randomly through his thoughts, through the whispered ideas
and suggestions the gland seemed to be insisting he carry out. "Just... r-remember what you
promised."

Bobby hadn't forgotten. "I do, Fawkes. Now you gonna help or what?"



Alex had taken out two more guards they had come across, while Jane and Lily had gotten another
one. Alex had to give them credit: they'd put the guy down with barely a sound when he'd stumbled
upon their group. The sounds of gunfire had increased, but none of it was anywhere near them. The
kids led them to a dry creek bed that was set a good ten feet below the forest floor. At some
point, according to Jane, Logan and the others had diverted the creek to create a source of power
for the camp. A good old fashioned water wheel turned the turbine, which generated all the power
the camp needed as well as supplying them with fresh water.

Now the creek bed led through the perimeter security, going unnoticed for some reason -- one of
those blind spots that sometimes happens even with the best of people. The kids had discovered that
it let out into a gully that had once contained a pool fed by the stream. The depression had since
gotten overgrown with wild grass and become a small glade among the old growth forest they were in.
It was far enough away from the camp that the kids had been able to play in relative peace, and they
had made it their own over the months. There was even a clubhouse of sorts, made from woven-together
fern fronds and items swiped from the camp itself. This would be a perfect place for them to stay
till rescue arrived, with the creek providing an easily-followed landmark for rescuers.

Once Alex had everyone settled -- they actually knew these woods much better than she did -- she
assessed her condition. She could feel the distant and dull ache that was her abdomen, while her
head both throbbed and tried to float away due to the morphine trying to steal her concentration.
She could feel the sweat running down her neck and sides as her fever rose again. The weapons were
handed out among the adults and several took up guard positions around their hideaway, making it
appear that they, too, had been military at one time. Perhaps they'd chosen to leave once getting
married, or maybe some had simply absorbed enough of the training over the years to have decent
grasp on what was necessary.

"Jane, if anyone comes along, surrender. Don't risk yourselves. Hopefully it'll be the good guys."
Alex adjusted the P-90 she'd taken in exchange for the AK-47 for and looked over the area.

"You're going back?" Jane sounded astonished. They'd gotten out, why go back?

"My partners are back there. I have to go back," Alex told her.

"You'll kill yourself. Just because the morphine's dulled the pain doesn't mean it's not there, or
that you're not causing more damage," Jane insisted.

Alex shook her head, not sure how to make her understand. Bobby Hobbes might be certifiable most
days, but he was right about a few things. You don't bail on your partner. Ever. "If I'm not back
by dawn and no one's found you, head down the mountain. There will be someone looking for you, I
can guarantee you that."

Jane shook her head. "Just be careful."

"Always." With that, Alex headed back to where the stream used to empty into this glade and
followed it back to the encampment. She still had a pair of irascible partners to find, and maybe
rescue.



"How you holding up there, Fawkes?"

Darien snarled through the gag and tried again to stand up. With no success, of course, seeing as
his good leg was tied firmly in place to one tree while his hands were behind his back and tied to
another. Hobbes knew Fawkes was going to be pissed, but he'd been backed into a corner. They'd
finished setting up the first surprise without too much trouble and, with the aid of a little
quicksilver, they'd made their way over to the power station to set up a second one. The gunfire
was louder, closer, but still on the far side of the compound. Where they were was fairly quiet --
once they had taken out the lone guard, that is. He was also tied and gagged, but still snoozing
peacefully from the blow Hobbes had given him.

Hobbes had ended up tying Fawkes to the tree when Darien had gotten bored again and remembered the
women here, including -- or maybe especially -- Monroe. He'd tried convince Hobbes they needed to
'rescue the fair maidens', then went on to detail exactly how. In graphic and less-than-chivalrous
terms. Though the jousting references had to be some of the most unique Hobbes had ever heard.

Hobbes quickly got annoyed, due to both the subject matter and the fact he really needed to
concentrate so as not to blow both their asses into little pieces, so he'd grabbed some more of the
rope he'd used to restrain the guard and tied Fawkes in place. The rope was good quality and would
take a lot of work to go through, even with the quicksilver to frost it. Fawkes then proceeded to
rant about what he wanted to do with the 'fair maidens' at the top of his lungs, including several
less-than-tasteful comments about Hobbes and his abilities with the fairer sex. Stripping a section
of the sleeping guard's shirt off with the knife, he'd shoved it into Fawkes' mouth and tied it in
place. The silence was more than worth the cost of a bitten finger.

"Just about done here, and then we can go find Monroe."

Darien mumbled something behind the gag, something Hobbes was sure was more lewd commentary
involving positions and lessons in how a woman should really act, which he dutifully ignored. While
Fawkes was undeniably attractive, Hobbes knew he was not Alex's type, and not because of his looks.
It was partially the 'company pier' issue -- Monroe felt the same way about it he did, business and
pleasure should not mix. It was also because of more personal issues -- she 'd dropped a few tidbits
about herself while they were both stuck together in the SWRB dungeon. Like why she was more than a
little freaked to be locked up in a small, dark room, and a bit about why she had stayed with the
Agency even after they thought her son safe.

Monroe had burned a lot of bridges, and pissed off some major players in the business, when she'd
gotten both herself and the Agency reassigned over a personal issue. Sure, they'd rescued a lot of
other kids, even reunited some with their parents, but at a high cost to her. Oh, she could
probably transfer to any other agency she wanted with a few polite phone calls, but there would
always be those who would look askance at her because of what she had done, because of the way she
had thrown her power around.

Being who and what she was made her almost as big an ... oddity as he and Fawkes were. In some
ways, she was a perfect fit for the Agency: another unique and rare individual who had a hard time
finding her place. With them was as good as anywhere else, and better in some ways. And besides,
where she went, her money and high tech toys went. Might as well keep them where *he* could play
with them.

Hobbes finished the last connection and then double-checked the entire rig, before flipping the
switch on the control to arm the device. A press of the button on the hand-held control and 'boom!'

He turned around in time to see a headless Fawkes shatter the frosted gag.

"Look out!" Darien shouted.

Hobbes didn't have time to think, he simply reacted. Spinning around, he spotted the guy who was
about to cold-cock him. Aiming the gun he hadn't even consciously drawn, he fired it at point blank
range. His attacker went down and stayed that way.

"God damn it! Untie me before another one comes along! Fricking sitting duck. Trussed up like a
freaking Christmas goose." Darien began to squirm, ignoring the pain that shot through his leg and
head. He wanted his freedom, even limited as it currently was. "Now, damn it!" he screamed. Hobbes
unfroze and moved to Darien's side, cutting the ropes that held him in place. Darien thanked him by
wrapping one long-fingered hand about Hobbes' throat and squeezing for a moment. "Don't ever do that
to me again," he snarled, then shoved Hobbes away from him. Bracing himself against the tree he
managed to get to his feet and glared about him.

Hobbes pushed himself up, rubbing his throat. He'd been right: Fawkes was pissed. At least he was
holding it together enough to not kill Hobbes outright, though it was damn close. He moved over to
the guy he'd shot and frowned when he realized that, although he was nearly as tall as Darien, he
was only a kid. Maybe sixteen, seventeen years old.

"Oh, shit." Hobbes knelt down beside him, hoping he'd be able to do something -- anything -- to
help, but it quickly became obvious he could do nothing. His aim, even in a knee-jerk reaction, had
been impeccable; the kid had taken the hit just to the left of his heart. His breath was wheezing in
and out with every short shallow pant, and his eyes were already doing that faraway look, beginning
to glaze over. "Ah damn, kid, I'm sorry." Hobbes had no idea whether or not the kid had heard him
as he shuddered and then relaxed completely. The battle Hobbes knew to be coming would no longer be
any of his concern.

With a sigh of frustration and anger at himself, he shut the kid's eyes and began dragging the body
away from the building. He didn't want to think about what he'd done -- not now. He'd deal with it
later, with his shrink most likely. Pour out his guilt and heartache to those uncaring ears and try
to ease the burden he knew he'd just placed on his soul.

He then dragged the sleeping guard out of the way as well. He wanted to give the guy at least half
a chance when the place he'd been guarding went up in a ball of flames.

Darien watched all this, somewhat disconcerted. Really, what did it matter if he was dead, kid or
not? One less enemy to have to deal with. Right? Then why was it, even as deep as he had fallen,
part of him was almost as upset as Hobbes appeared to be?

"Come on, Fawkes, someone is sure to have heard that shot and will be by to check it out. We need
to be out of range." Darien didn't say a word as he set and arm about Hobbes' shoulders and allowed
himself to helped away from the power building.

"What now?" Darien asked, his attention having already swung away from the death of a young life
he'd watched moments before, wondering how much more of this boring crap he was going to have to
endure before having some fun.

"Monroe and the kids, Fawkes. Time to get them out of here," Hobbes answered, leading them through
the edge of the woods towards the building. They weren't using the quicksilver at the moment,
finding it was not all that necessary around the fringes of the camp. As they neared their target,
activity in the camp itself increased and the sounds of gunfire moved closer. Several men broke off
to head towards the power center where the agents had been just moments before. That's when they
heard their names being shouted by Logan.



Alex had retraced her steps back to the compound with little trouble -- at least not from the bad
guys. Her body began to rebel, though. The nausea came back with a rush, forcing her to double
over, with her hand clapped over her mouth to keep the sounds from escaping as she gagged and
coughed and choked. She was successful, not only in keeping the little food and drink she'd had
down, but also in attracting no attention to herself. The bout of nausea had a less-than-pleasant
side-effect, though: the pain in her abdomen and head returned. Not yet severe, but no longer the
faraway dull reminder. No matter how quickly she wanted to move, she was forced to slow down now,
and to make choices that would give her the best chance of success in this endeavor.

She made it back through the perimeter security and headed towards the building she and the other
women had been housed in, being careful to approach from a different direction than the one they
had left by. No need to run into an unhappy guard just returning to consciousness, or his friends
who may have found him. She couldn't help but notice the gunfire was growing nearer and nearer to
the camp itself. The battle line was being pushed back, as well as spreading out. Soon the place
would be surrounded, and then things would get really hairy. With the majority of the women and
children gone, that left only Fawkes and Hobbes to bargain with. The Official would probably make
every effort to get Fawkes returned to him undamaged, but she suspected that these guys would be
far more likely to kill them, maybe even kill everyone who wasn't part of the original team, in
order to make their escape. From what Jane and Lily (through Jane) had told her, they were... not
desperate, but determined to have things go their way, even if it meant leaving and starting over
again.

Alex was fully aware of what people in that frame of mind would do to achieve their goals --
anything.

She was edging her away around the camp, heading for the cell Jane had described to her as where
Fawkes and Hobbes were being kept, when the sound of a gun being cocked made her freeze in place.

"Good girl," a deep voice said. "Care to explain how you got out?" The owner of the voice appeared
a moment later, wearing dark green camouflage and pointing his handgun casually at her. A look of
confusion crossed his face when he realized he didn't recognize her, but it cleared quickly. "You
must be Agent Monroe. One of the prizes that was going to save us."

Alex knew she'd have one chance at this; she swung her gun in his direction and pulled the trigger.
He dove to the ground almost as if he'd been anticipating her move. Alex re-targeted him, only to be
rudely poked in the back with the muzzle of a gun.

"Slowly. Logan still would prefer you unhurt," a smooth voice said, almost in her ear.

Alex cursed herself silently as she allowed them to take the gun and search her for any other
weapons. Even knowing she wasn't on top of her game, she hadn't compensated nearly enough to keep
herself from being caught. The guy frisking her caught her flinch as his hands ran over her
abdomen, but he still found the knife she'd stashed under the heavy sweater and removed it with a
dark chuckle.

"Brave thing, aren't you? Even hurt, you try to escape." He was actually somewhat gentle as he
pulled her arms behind her back and secured her wrists with one of those plastic quick ties.

"Escape?" Alex commented. "I already did that. I was on my way back."

That got the attention of both men, as well as the third who suddenly appeared out of the darkness.

"Shit," the new guy snapped out. He tipped his head to the side and spoke into the radio. "Check
the Nursery. Our guest got out." Then he focused on Alex, and his look was not pleasant. "Bring
her."

Alex didn't fight them -- there was little point unless she wanted herself hurt or killed -- but
they made a point of being less than gentle, especially after the voice wafting across the radio
reported the Nursery was empty. She could feel the anger radiating off all three men and was
careful to do nothing to antagonize them. She knew that being a woman and one of Logan's 'prizes'
would gain her no consideration at this point, and she happened to like her tongue right where it
was.

She was shoved rather violently into a large room, one that was probably used for gatherings, but
which had been turned into a war room due to the situation at hand. She kept upright, but only
because she fell against Logan himself and he, instead of allowing her to fall, caught her and held
her in place.

"Did you at least get them somewhere safe?"

Alex nodded, surprised at the actual concern in his eyes for the women and kids he had done his
best to terrorize since bringing them here. His gaze was pulled away from hers by a voice coming
out of the radio.

"Shots fired within the compound. Repeat: we have shots fired within the compound. Near the power
station."

"Send Miller and Gorman to check it out. Where the hell is Benkin?" Logan didn't sound overly
concerned, but he kept a secure grip on Alex's arm. It took five minutes for him to get his answer
and it wasn't one he liked. "So your friends have been loose all this time. Good thing I have the
pretty little piece that should draw them out of whatever hole they've crawled into." Pulling Alex
along, he headed for the door to the building, barking orders as he went. "Call them in. It's time
to end this. Killian, get your men and get the vehicles ready. It's time we show them exactly how
serious we are."

Killian and three others ran off while Logan, Alex and four more moved to one of the few open areas
outside. "Hobbes. Fawkes. Come out. I have Monroe."



Almost as one, Hobbes and Fawkes muttered, "Oh, crap."

"Now what?" Darien snapped. "Let's just leave her. Get the hell out of here. There are better
things to do."

Hobbes elbowed Fawkes in the ribs, making him grunt in pain. "You are such an asshole. I hope like
hell the Keep gets here soon, or I'm gonna tie you up again."

Darien fought with himself as Hobbes kept them moving. When they reached the edge of the building,
Hobbes peeked out to see Logan and a group of men in profile standing in the open area. Logan
shifted then, and Hobbes could see Monroe was looking okay considering everything, but was
restrained. Hobbes ducked back around out of sight and looked up into the reddened eyes of his
partner. "All right gland- man, think you can be useful?"

"Give me a good reason to." Darien wasn't in the mood for following orders, though the possibility
of getting some of that payback held the potential of some fun.

"You get to rescue the fair maiden."

That got Darien's attention; his eyes narrowed even as a slight smile crossed his lips.



"Agent Hobbes, I know you are still here. I would highly recommend to show yourself or I will make
sure she is the first casualty on your side." The gun he held against Alex's head was not for show,
as she well knew.

"Don't do it, Hobbes. Remember what I told you." The last word came out with a grunt of pain, as
Logan jerked her backwards by her hair and then shoved her to the ground, where she lay panting in
pain for several minutes. The blood pounded in her ears as she fought the urge to faint.

Hobbes appeared off to the left and slightly behind, the quicksilver flakes falling away and
catching the eye of one of the group, who spun about and raised his weapon. "It's over Logan, you
can't win this one."

The entire group shifted so that Logan could focus on Hobbes, leaving Alex still on the ground. She
slowly shifted up onto her knees.

"You're right, I can't win, but I can get away. I'll use you to guarantee our safe passage," Logan
stated with a dark look.

"You mean in those trucks you have hidden away?" Hobbes made sure to hide his reaction to the frown
that crossed Logan's features. "'Fraid you won't be going anywhere in those." Pressing the button on
the first control, he waited for the sound of the explosion to be heard. It took a few seconds
longer than he'd expected, but the ground rumbled and a flash of light and fire appeared from the
direction of the underground weapons depot. "Fawkes, now!" Hobbes dove for the trees, knowing he
was going to be a target in seconds. He was right -- bullets impacted the ground, following him to
the tree-line, where he did his best to lose himself amongst the foliage.

"Cease fire. Cease fire!" Logan bellowed as he tried to hear the voice shouting out of the radio on
his shoulder. "Killian, repeat."

"Sir, they collapsed the entrance. We're unhurt, but trapped inside." Killian sounded more than a
little pissed off about the situation.

"Hold your position and make sure everything stays secure," Logan replied, sounding more than a
little frustrated himself. Three agents from some cheesy, nearly-forgotten sub-department had
somehow managed to screw up everything he had built here. "Find him," he snapped, and two of the
men with him headed off towards the direction Hobbes had taken.

Alex watched all this, hoping she'd continue to be forgotten, then shivered as the temp seemed to
drop dramatically near her. "Fawkes?" she asked sotto voce.

"Surprise," he purred in her ear. Setting hands on her shoulders, he let the quicksilver flow over
her. Once she was glowing with his own golden aura, he tugged at her. "Get up. I still can't walk
on my own."

Alex didn't say a word, wanting to remain unheard by Logan, who was still far too close to them.
With her hands still tied behind her back, it wasn't easy to maneuver, but somehow they managed.
Darien used her to balance and alternated between a severe limp and hopping on his good leg until
they were back around behind the building where he and Hobbes had come up with this plan. Hobbes
was across the way, still drawing off the mooks, and hopefully.... There was another explosion,
this one far louder, since it was not underground. All around them, the lights behind shuttered
windows dimmed and went out, leaving them in near-total darkness.

"Alone at last," Darien growled softly as he changed his hold upon her.

"Fawkes, get off." Alex tried to shove him away with her shoulder, but his grip only tightened and
they ended up on the ground, with her partially underneath him.

Darien grunted in pain as his knee connected with the ground, but didn't release his grip on Alex.
Allowing the quicksilver to fall away, ignoring the shouts and sounds of gunfire all around them,
he reached up to caress her bruised cheek. "What a shame, your pretty little face looking less than
perfect."

Alex tried to shift away, but his weight was more than enough to hold her in place so long as her
hands were still tied behind her back. Even in the dim light filtering through the clouds, she
could tell his eyes were fully red. "Fawkes, don't make me hurt you."

Darien laughed softly. "And what do you think you can do, Miss-Five-Star-pain-in-the-ass? Cry for
help?" Sliding his other hand lower, he pressed on her abdomen, causing her to shriek in pain. He
clapped his other hand over her mouth and rubbed his cheek along hers, feeling the dampness of the
tears that had sprung to her eyes. Turning, he licked them away then trailed lower, moving his hand
away to kiss her.

Alex snapped at him, trying to bite him, but missed. He was damn fast. "Fawkes, damn it, don't do
this."

"'Fawkes, don't do this'," he mimicked in a mocking falsetto voice. Then his tone changed, becoming
harsher. "Give it up, Monroe. How big a fool do you think I am?" He shifted his good leg, forcing it
between hers and then wiggling it from side to side till hers were parted. "If you'd just drop that
wall you put up for once, I know you'd enjoy yourself. You pretend to be so high and mighty, so
above the rest of us, but you aren't. Are you?" He moved in closer, making his slow way back to her
ear, where he spent a moment sucking on her earlobe before biting it hard enough to make her gasp.
"Tell me you never thought about it -- you and me. Tell me you never woke up panting for air,
sweating, and wishing for release. Tell me you never once wanted this."

Alex bit her lip and did her best to not react, not only to what his lips and tongue were doing,
but to where his hands were wandering. She wished she could tell him no -- she should be able to
tell him no. She was fully capable of lying straight faced to anyone, but now... now the drugs, the
pain, and his words stilled her tongue. "Fawkes." This time she was unable to hold back the groan of
combined pain and desire that rolled across her. "Fawkes? Darien, damn it, untie me at least."

Darien's head came up from the hollow of her throat. "So you can hit me and run? I think not. You
seem content as you are."

Alex did the only thing she could think of, that one thing she'd wondered about for weeks now --
she kissed him. He seemed surprised at first and then went right along with it. For long minutes,
Alex led him right where she wanted him, while enjoying every precious second of it. For she knew
this would be her only chance, her only justification for doing something this foolish with this
man. When she had him groaning in reaction at last, a reaction she could also feel given their
current position, she tried again. "Come on, it'll be lots more fun with me untied." She shifted
her hips upwards to encourage him a bit more.

"Mmm, yeah. That'd be good 'bout now. I have some plans for those hands of yours." Shifting off of
her, he got them both sat up so he could reach behind her and frost the plastic tie. The tie was
keeping her hands from doing any of the dozen or so things he had in mind. With a swift jerk, he
snapped the restraint and then slowly drew her hands in front of her. He was wary, expecting her to
try and fight, to try and get away, and while that might be fun for a time, he'd rather use his
energy enjoying her than catching and fighting with her. Instead, she slid her hands up his arms
and across his chest, causing him to draw in a surprised breath. As her fingers wandered up into
his hair, he threw caution to the wind and just let good, old-fashioned, gland-encouraged lust take
over.

They spent several long minutes tasting and touching each other. It was when the quicksilver
flowed, Darien groaning in reaction to what her hands and tongue were doing to him, that she made
her move. Darien's hands were busily working their way under her sweater to find and cup her
breasts, while one of hers played teasingly with the muscles of his stomach, slipping along the
edge of his slacks, and making him draw in a sharp breath and shudder in reaction. Her other hand
played with the curls at the back of his neck while slowly working the other syringe loaded with
sedative out of her sleeve. She'd almost forgotten about the damn thing, but having it jabbing into
her back, and by some miracle not breaking, had given her the idea of how to get out of this
situation with both her virtue -- so to speak -- and his honor intact. If nothing else, she had
learned that Darien Fawkes was an honorable man, in his own way, and she knew he would regret what
was happening now -- what might still happen, if this didn't work.

Finally freeing it from her sleeve, she carefully shifted it until she could, with a string of
kisses and nips along the side of his neck, grip the plastic cap between her teeth and slide it
off. His hands suddenly made her gasp in reaction, and for an instant she was tempted to let it
continue, to follow through with this bit of lust, to act upon those desires she'd been unable to
deny to him. It was his soft-spoken words that drew her back to the reality of the situation.

"Come on, baby, give it up for me."

Alex did. With a soft moan, she stabbed him in the thick muscle joining neck to shoulder and felt
him stiffen, holding her painfully tight. Withdrawing the empty syringe, she held on to him as he
snarled at her.

"Bitch. I should have known you'd do something like this." The last few words came out slurred as
the powerful sedative took effect. The quicksilver fell away, even as his body relaxed completely.

Shifting both of them, she laid his head in her lap and gently ran her fingers through his hair.
"Sorry, Darien."

When they were found sometime later by Hobbes, Alex had fallen asleep as well, her arms curled
protectively about Darien.



-- Two Weeks Later --

The wooden double doors to Alex's office stood open as dark green jump-suited men made their way
out, carrying a variety of boxes and furniture. This was Darien's first real chance to talk to her
since they'd been rescued. Not that he remembered a whole lot of that experience. He'd woken up in
a hospital with both Claire and Bobby hovering over him, though not for long. Near as he could
tell, they'd knocked him right back out and he hadn't woken again until his unceremonious arrival
at Leavitt. Whereupon he'd been poked, prodded, and run through any amount of torture before they
found an orthopedic surgeon with the necessary clearance and skill to put what was left of his knee
back together.

The Keep had finally turned him loose yesterday, allowing him to go home and fumble about his
apartment on crutches. His leg was encased in one of those annoying Velcro-strapped braces to
prevent him from doing anything outrageously stupid. Being chauffeured about by an Agency goon
wasn't all that much fun, but his one failed attempt at driving had made him realize that he was
going to need the help. For few weeks anyway.

So he was doing okay. Back to being his sane, remorseful self. Bobby had proved to be just as tough
as always, even with the bullet wound he'd taken in his shoulder playing dodge-em with Logan and his
crew. The good guys had ridden in on their black, nearly-silent helicopters and dropped down on
lines into the encampment to round up those they could. The fire-fight in the woods had been
nothing more than a distraction, designed to give Hobbes and him a chance to disable the power to
the camp. No power meant limited sight and no communications. The fact that they had also prevented
a full-blown, if small, war by collapsing the entrance to the underground weapons storage had made
it even easier. Logan and his men had not been able to access their bigger guns -- literally.
According to Bobby and Eberts, they'd had quite a collection in there. The Agency was following up
on the situation, trying to track down exactly who had been getting them access to military
weapons. Some of those crates were officially listed as being in various weapons storage depots
around the world, even though they had actually been in that cavern on a lonely mountain in the
Cascades.

Logan and three others from his original unit had managed to get away. The rest... well, the
military had stepped in and claimed jurisdiction over them. Bobby had tried to find out what
happened to them, but with no luck. It's like they'd just vanished off the face of the earth.
Darien knew better, though. Being an experiment himself, he was willing to bet they'd just been put
back in storage, waiting for a time their talents would be useful again. He couldn't help but be
sympathetic, even after everything. They were stuck in a life they had never planned on living, and
had done what they could to make the best of the situation.

It had taken Darien a long time, and a partial week of unplanned freedom from the gland to realize
that he *was* the invisible man. Giving up the remainder of his week without the gland's effect,
risking his life again to save Bobby... he'd admit it made him angry at first, but it was worth it,
he had since realized. Those few days on that mountain had made him think and realize a lot of
things. Like, maybe he did have something more here at the Agency than he thought. And that maybe
what he needed wasn't to get out of here, but to see that he wasn't really trapped anymore, not
with the friends he had made. That maybe instead of fighting the life he was in, whether blatantly
or subtly, that maybe it was time to just live it.

The workmen had moved on, leaving the doorway free. Darien moved forward to knock on the doorframe,
and was pleasantly surprised when Alex lifted her head and smiled at him. She waved for him to come
in and then continued packing the box she had sitting on her desk.

"How are you doing, Alex?" He looked her over. It had been more than long enough for the swelling
on her face to recede and the bruises to begin to fade, much like his own. His recovery from
surgery was taking a bit longer than hers. Either that or she was twice as stubborn as he thought
she was. He was here to apologize for what he'd done, or tried to do, to her while quicksilver mad.
But he was unsure how to go about it.

"Not bad, Fawkes." Alex was very glad he'd come through everything all right. She watched him as
he carefully settled into the chair on the far side of her desk and leaned over to set the crutches
on the floor. While she'd been recovering, she'd kept tabs on him, and had helped get Dr. Trilane
the clearance he needed to perform the surgery. He was the best of the best, and exactly who Darien
needed and deserved to have fixing his leg. From what she'd been told, Darien was going to be just
fine within a few weeks. Back to his old trouble-making self in no time at all.

"So, I heard you had appendicitis of all things?" He chose to examine the cuticles of his nails
instead of meeting her eyes. He wasn't sure he wanted to see what was there -- fear, anger, hatred,
or maybe even pity. He wasn't sure why, but pity would be the worst.

"You heard right. The crash just sped up the process a bit." She'd spent a week in an Olympia
hospital recovering after an emergency appendectomy, among other things. At least it explained the
'stomach' pains she'd been ignoring for a over a month. Turned out she'd been working on one hell
of an ulcer as well, which was why she'd been coughing up blood during their hike through the
woods. She hadn't been real big on trusting doctors after the mess with the fertility clinic,
James, and Stark.

Still not sure how to broach the subject he wanted to discuss with her, he chose something a little
more obvious. "What's with all the packing? Taking over a bigger office?" Darien made sure to put
humor in his voice; after everything, especially with what had happened at the end there, he didn't
want to upset her. Maybe he wanted her to realize she that didn't have to remain an outsider among
them any longer. Maybe he wanted her to realize that he wanted her here.

"I'm leaving, Fawkes." She shifted the box, wincing slightly. The stitches were out, but she was
still quite stiff and sore.

"Leaving? What do you mean? I haven't been that out of the loop, have I? Or is this one of those
'need-to-know' things?" This had to be over what had happened. He couldn't really blame her. How
could he expect her to want to stay after he'd done his damnedest to rape her? "Alex?"

"I realized something out there, realized I had my priorities all wrong." She put a few more items
in the box and then met his eyes. He looked sad, confused, and worried all at the same time.

Sitting here in this office, she'd pored through records, tried to get into Chrysalis' mainframe,
followed every stray lead and vague tips hoping she might find out where Stark had hidden her son,
while at the same time playing the good soldier here at the Agency. She didn't regret staying,
truly liked working here in fact, but she now knew that, when word of Eleanor Stark's treachery had
become known, she should have left. Should have gone after James -- her son, damn it, and not theirs
-- instead of trying to take down all of Chrysalis. The Agency could handle Chrysalis well enough
without her -- she hadn't contributed that much, just given them another reason to be at odds after
the discovery of the camps and the youth program they were using. Nothing they couldn't have done
without.

"I thought I could use my job, my position, to find my son, and still do the work that was required
of me." Alex moved around the desk and stood before Darien. For once, she didn't bother trying to
hide what she was feeling. "I was wrong." She gave him a small smile. "Those women -- Jane, Lily,
Carrie Sutherland -- they stayed to keep their children safe, to protect them. Hell, Carrie faced
down Logan and then walked down that mountain to make sure they'd be safe in the end. I gave up
James to make sure he'd stay safe, have a chance at a normal life. I think giving up this job to
guarantee that happens is a small sacrifice to make. Don't you?"

Darien was more than a little stunned. Miss Five-Star-A, Miss Wonder Woman herself was leaving? He
realized he must be misinterpreting what she was saying. "So where to? CIA, FBI, NSA? Oh, I know,
Secret Service."

She shook her head. "None of those. I'm getting out. A leave of absence, if you will. I have more
than enough money put away, and more than enough resources to try and track down James on my own. I
still have all my contacts, as well." She saw the look of dismay on his face. "I'll be fine." This
time she meant it. She finally felt like she was on the right track with her life. She'd miss this
life, this secret agent business, but it was time to move on, like she should have when she'd
decided to get pregnant in the first place. Promises she'd made and unplanned losses had encouraged
her to take the steps she had. Maybe they'd not been the best choices she could have made, but they
were hers, and now it was time to make sure those promises were kept.

Darien pushed himself to his feet, balancing carefully without the crutches. "Alex, if this has
anything to do with what happened..." He stopped, knowing he was doing this all wrong. "I'm sorry.
I... I can't say I didn't mean it, 'cause, well...." He shrugged. "I like you, Alex, and I don't
want what happened to be a reason you're leaving."

"No... Darien, it isn't." She could see he didn't believe her. "It isn't, and if the situation
were different, I might consider discussing certain things with you. When you're not quicksilver
mad, that is." The smile she gave him was genuine and unreserved. "I... like you as well. You were
certainly the last thing I expected in my life." Bending down, she picked up the crutches and
handed them to him before he fell over in surprise.

Taking them from her, he leaned forward on the pair instead of shoving them under his arms like he
should. "Does that mean no 'company pier' issue?" Though his voice suggested he was joking, the
look in his eyes was very serious.

"Darien, I won't be here. Not much, anyway. I have no idea where Stark hid James; they could be in
Istanbul for all I know. I can't afford to be tied to one place until I've found him." She leaned
back against her desk to look up at him. "And I was never exactly the stay-at-home type anyway."

"Or he could be right here, living half a block from you," Darien added, and watched her look
sober. She was really serious about this. She was leaving, and he might very well never see her
again. "If you ever need anything..."

"You and that neurotic partner of yours will be the first on my list to call." She set a hand on
his forearm and squeezed gently. "Thank you."

One of the workmen poked his head back into the room. "Miss Monroe, is there anything else?"

She held Darien's gaze for on moment longer, and then turned to face the uniformed man. "That
should do it. I'll be down in just a minute."

The man nodded and left the room, shutting the door behind him.

Turning around, she tossed the very last items in the box and picked it up. "Darien Fawkes, I'm
glad I got the chance to meet you. You're one hell of an agent. I hope you get what you want in
your life." She stepped away carrying the box and made it to the door before Darien found his
voice.

"Alex." She turned back around to look at him. "Bring James by when you find him." Not if, but
when. Somehow, some way, she would find him. Darien truly believed that.

"I will. Promise."

Alex opened the doors and walked out of her office at the Agency for the last time, as Darien
watched. Just another woman in a long list to walk out of his life.




// "There are no mistakes. The events we bring upon ourselves, no matter how unpleasant, are
necessary in order to learn what we need to learn; whatever steps we take, they're necessary to
reach the places we've chosen to go." -- Richard Bach, The Bridge Across Forever //


Finis
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~