I couldn't let Chalie's 'Rotten Darien' have the last word, so here is Hobbesy's POV on 'Sex, Lies and Star Wars'. Be warned, it's heavy going

Spoilers: none

Rating: R for language and angst

Blame this one on Chalie, whose Darien pushed all my buttons. Just ask her! I ranted at the punk through the whole rough draft of 'Sex'

Thanks to Chalie for painful inspiration and permission to indulge it, here's the link to her fic: http://www.fanfiction.net/read.php?storyid=56100

Thanks to the Best-est Betas: check out their fics if you haven't seen them yet.

Devyn Lyonesse http://www.qsarchive.net/archive/1/deepblue.htm

Dawnwind for secondary beta duties http://www.qsarchive.net/archive/1/shadesofblack.html

"I Know"

Invisible man

By Suz

I can tell you exactly how long we've been a thing. Days, hours, minutes, hell, even seconds. And I know the exact minute we stopped being one, too. I remember lying there in the dark, my eyes closed, waiting for him to turn off the friggin' TV and come to bed. I felt him sit down on the mattress, take off his socks, the whole routine, and finally lie down. Only he didn't get under the sheets.

He knew I wasn't asleep, like I knew he wasn't. I never sleep until I know he's beside me I guess I won't be sleeping anytime soon, now. It's an over-rated activity anyway. Waste of my time. Like I have so many other, more important things to be doing with it. Like trying to figure out how to keep a smile on my face, keep from biting off a bullet, jumping off the Coronado bridge. That kinda thing.

When I'd given him time to settle in, I reached for him. And got a handful of sheets. I remember rolling onto my back with this sick feeling in the pit of my stomach, knowing the old Bobby Hobbes whacko-ness had just killed another relationship.

I told him up front what he was letting himself in for, and he laughed. He held me and he laughed like a nut, and then he told me it was okay. I knew it wouldn't be, but he thought it'd be different. Different than Viv. Believe me, I wish it was.

I lay there in the dark trying not to think, trying not to feel, trying to tell myself that I was wrong, that I was blowing things outta proportion. I knew the minute he went to sleep for real, like some change in the energy from his side of the bed or something. It musta been about three in the morning or so, and I got up and put on my sweats and some shoes and left him lying there with the light of a full moon flowing over him like the quicksliver does.

I must've walked for hours along the marinas, out to the beach, just trying to shut off my brain. I watched the moon set and the sun rise and I knew this was gonna be the first day of the rest of my life. A life I didn't want. A life without Fawkes in my bed. A life spent looking out for him, watching him, protecting him, and loving him, with him not feeling the same way about me.

You sure know how to pick 'em, Hobbes, I told myself. What gets me is, I swore I wouldn't let this happen. I wouldn't fall for another young, beautiful kid with better things to do then cater to my paranoid whims. I kept telling myself that all the way up until the night I first told him I loved him. We were doing the pretend-to-be-asleep thing, and I had him snug up against me, my arms around him, my nose buried in that crazy hair of his, and I ached with it. Hurt with it. Prayed he'd forgive me for saying it, and knowing I had to, because it wasn't something I could go on pretending not to feel. I know he's got a streak of schmaltz a mile wide, when he's not feeling all threatened and trapped and all, but this was like some cheesy romance novel or something and I knew I was screwing things up. But I said it anyway. "I love you." Quiet, into the back of his neck, hoping he'd miss it, knowing he wouldn't.

But he didn't say anything about it the next morning, just fucked my brains out over the back of the couch before he'd let me get ready for work. So I let it alone. It didn't change the way I felt. Feel. But I was cool with him letting it slide, not turning it into some big deal. Okay, so maybe I even let myself believe that was his way of saying it back; hot sex that made us late for the meeting with the Fat Man that was supposed to start another wonderful day at the agency.

Shit. Life is totally fucked, you know?

We went on pretty much as usual until we got into it over shower privileges one morning, and I said it again, not really meaning to, but it just popped out, I was so pissed off with him, and it was the only thing I could think of. The kid takes for freakin' ever in the shower, for chrissakes, and we were already late. True to Fawkesian form, he blew it off like some big joke, treating it like this off-topic non-sequitor, and then stole my towel and went in and locked the door behind him. And took forever, like I knew he would. I swear, Fawkes takes even longer to get ready in the morning then my ex-wife.

The next time was chick-flick awful, me balls-deep in him and so damned in love I couldn't help myself, hurting with it, wanting to know it was okay, knowing it wasn't, might never be if I didn't start keeping my damned mouth shut. He was seconds from coming, panting with it, just wanting me to finish the job. "I love you," I told him, whispered up against his cheek, knowing it would piss him off.

"That's not exactly breaking news," he came back at me with, and it hurt, like I didn't already know he doesn't feel the same. Like it didn't mean anything here, now, with him getting himself fucked within an inch of his life. I know he saw that, know it registered as at least a blip through the self-centered haze he surrounds himself with these days where I'm concerned. But I nailed him like he wanted and shut the hell up, and for a while, things were still okay.

Until he started making excuses to go out alone.

I followed him. I couldn't help it. I knew it was pointless, would only end up making me feel worse, but I couldn't let it alone. He went out tom-catting, like I figured he would. I followed him from bar to bar, watched as he smiled and flirted and chatted up anyone - anything - that showed interest. Acting like a slut.

Shit. I even watched when he took his conquests to a sleazy motel for a little by-the-hour entertainment. Theirs, not his. I'll give him that, at least. He never fucked any of them. He did everything else, but not that. I know he knows I followed him. He always went out of his way to make sure I got a ringside seat, the punk. Made sure curtains were open and that there was enough light that there wouldn't be any doubt about what was happening. He's always been an exhibitionist. When he did it in my company, it used to turn me on. Now it just makes me sick. I guess that's what he had in mind. He knows me better than I know myself, sometimes. Can tell I'm around even when I do my spy thing and pull out all the stops, tailing him like he was a known terrorist. He shouldn't be able to, but he can. Hell if I know how.

I get the message, though. It's a pretty straight forward way of telling me to fuck myself. That I don't mean that to him much beyond being a casual lay. Except I know there's more too it then that, the little prick. He may be able to fool himself, but he's not fooling me. I love him. I know he feels more for me than he's willing to let on. Maybe more than he knows. At least, I'm praying that's the case.

It still hurts, though. Knowing he's doing it on purpose, trying to send me a message I don't want to hear, and don't want to believe. That what we have is a friendship with fuck-buddy privileges, not a relationship.

The next time I told him I loved him was about three weeks ago. We'd had a crappy day. Everything that could go wrong, did, and I wound up with a QSM Fawkes on my hands, trying to keep him distracted until Claire could dart him and give him the counteragent. I know he remembers everything he does when he goes red-eye. Know he beats himself up for it for hours, sometimes days afterwards. See, that's what I don't get. It's like he's got some sorta split personality goin' on or something, sometimes. I mean, when we're Hobbes and Fawkes, on the job, he'll do things, stupid things, things that tell me he's gotta be feeling things he doesn't want to. Like knocking me on my ass to keep me outta the line of fire when the bad guy du jour opened up on us. We didn't even know he was armed until the nine millimeter slugs started peppering the sidewalk, kicking up cement chips.

Fawkes did it without even thinking about it. Just grabbed me and shoved me down, dropping on top of me and doing the disappearing act on us both. He kept his hand on the back of my neck the whole run to the condemned apartment building we'd tracked the guy to, and when we were in, he let go, moving behind the jerk and clubbing him over the head when the bastard took aim at me as the quicksilver flaked off. That was the first time I realized Fawkes'd been winged. It was a scratch, nothing major, more a powder burn-type close call than anything else, but I freaked. It's my job to protect him, not the other way around. The only thing keeping me from going totally ballistic was the red snaking across his eyeballs. I got on the cell to Claire to give her our twenty and a sit-rep, and then moved in on Fawkes to try and get some restraints on him before he went totally out of his gourd.

He was too far gone. He wouldn't stay still, dancing away from me, crowding me, that sarcastic, smug supercilious sound in his voice as he told me exactly what he thought of me. It wasn't anything I hadn't already figured out; I'd have to be the moron everyone thinks I am not to have gotten the big picture by now. That doesn't keep it from hurting, though. To be told I'm so far from the great Darien Fawkes' relationship criteria that I don't even make it onto the list of also-rans. Short, bald, paranoid, manic-depressive, hyperactive, male, and the icing on the cake - too damned old for the boy wonder. I know when he gets like this the stuff coming outta his mouth is aimed to hurt, to humiliate, and usually I don't let it bother me. But this was kinda personal, know what I mean? What made it worse was that Claire got an earful while she was looking for the moment to take her shot.

I'll give her credit, though, she didn't say a word about it as she gave him the counteragent, just gave me this worried look as she packed up her med kit and helped me get Fawkes into the van. He was quiet all the way back to my place, doing that brooding thing while he waited for the worst of the QSM headache to die down. I wondered what he was thinking about, whether he was beating himself up for what he'd said under the influence, or whether he was relieved that he'd finally gotten what he had to say off his chest. Not that it mattered either way, because none of it changed what I felt. Nothing ever will. And I said it again. This time picking a moment when he couldn't run away, didn't have the energy to fight it, and just had to sit there and hear it.

Not that he wanted too. Man, the look he gave me said it all; this trapped and panicky expression in his eyes like any other guy whose casual girlfriend has just said she wants a ring. Which I guess was sorta what I was telling him, in a weird way. I'm committed. It's gone too far for me to pretend this never happened, that he hasn't gone from partner to lover to whatever it is he is to me now. And it's not like I meant for it to happen like this. I mean, for starters, what're two guys supposed to do about the forever thing? It's not like I could ask him to marry me or anything, geeze. The world just ain't that liberal. Not yet, anyway. And not considering the sorta work we do. But if I could, I would. And I know he'd turn me down, too, the punk, because he'd have to be dragged kicking and screaming into something that serious. The kid doesn't know the first thing about commitment. The only thing he's ever been committed to was the state pen. I wonder if he screwed around on his girlfriend, the Casey dame, the way he does on me.

Me, on the other hand, I'm all about commitment. Commitment to my job, my country, my wife ex-wife, to Fawkes. And it scares the shit out of him, me being that intense about him. I've spent a lot of time wondering why it freaks him so bad, and the only thing I can come up with is as twisty and complicated as the brain between his ears. My guess is, his whole punk routine was designed to keep people from getting close to him, 'cuz the people who should have been close, been there for him growing up, weren't. So my guess is, he figured what the hell, I don't need anyone, screw 'em anyway. In my humble and uneducated opinion, Darien Fawkes was the invisible man way before his brother ever put that gland in his head. I think he's spent most of his life flying in the face of convention, flouting expectations just to keep the people who got too close from sticking with him. But he's never gone rounds with Bobby Hobbes before, my friend, and if he thinks being a punk gets him off the hook with me, he don't know nothin'. So I said it again, making sure he'd hear it this time, wanting to get some kind of damned response outta him. "I love you."

The silence was like this weight in the air, and I remember the rabbit-in-a-trap look he shot me, then watched the anger flame up over the fear. "I know," he said, smart-mouthed, punk-ass kid.

I gritted my teeth and the grip I had on the steering wheel was tight enough to snap the plastic if I'd wanted to. "What's that supposed to mean?"

"What do you think it means?" The same surly tone he'd had in his voice when he went QSM earlier. I wanted to slug him for being such a prick.

"What is this, twenty questions?" I asked him, my own voice going all snarky. I can play that game too.

"Sure, if you want. Animal, vegetable or mineral, Hobbesy?"

"Fawkes. Fuck you. What is 'I know' supposed to mean?" I'm not letting him get away with this bullshit.

"What does Han Solo mean when he says it at the end of The Empire Strikes Back?" He had that 'leave me the hell alone' look on his face, not going to answer the question, little- kid stubborn. Okay, fine.

I didn't say anything else and we hardly spoke three words to each other the rest of the night, but while he was sitting in front of the TV, I was thinking about what he'd said, wondering if he even remembered what Han Solo had said and why. I thought I did, but I wondered why he picked that half-assed way of answering. It took a couple days for me to track down a copy of Empire, but when the local video store got their copy back in, I fast-forwarded through the whole movie till the carbonite scene. And watched Harrison Ford, with the same cocky jerk-of-the-week smirk tell what's-her-name, Carrie Fisher, "I know," when she tells him, all teary-eyed, that she loves him. Except Han had this look in his eyes, like this was the last time he was going to see someone he loved more than anything, someone he'd die for, was about to die for. And Fawkes hadn't had that look when he'd said the words, just this punky brat expression that made my stomach twist up in knots every time I thought about it.

But still, I figured I owed him for that whole fiasco in the van, so I dropped the video tape on his breakfast a few days after and said; "Han loved Leia," knowing he was going to think I was gloating. "He said it because he loved her."

"Then he got frozen in carbonite," he pointed out without looking at me, and opened the morning paper. Subject closed.

I thought about it for the rest of the day. Hell I've been thinking about it since. And I think I've finally figured something out. I went to talk to Claire that afternoon while Fawkes went out and picked up lunch. I asked her to up my meds.

"Oh, Bobby," she sighed, giving me this sad look as she leaned back in her chair and turned away from whatever she was working on. "Is it Darien?"

"It's a lotta things, Keep. But I've blown it big time, here, and if the Fat Man expects to get his money's worth outta me or Fawkes, I think it'd be a good idea if you took the drugs up another notch. We all know I'm a little single-minded when it comes to certain things. Certain people. All's I'm saying is, something to take the edge off would probably be a real good idea about now."

I knew she could see through the casual act, but she nodded and got up, taking out her keys and unlocking the drug cabinet, getting a bottle out and handing it to me. Paxil. Great, another pill to take. "Can't you just up the Zoloft?" I asked her, glowering at the bottle in my hand.

"The Zoloft is an excellent anti-depressant, but it isn't as effective as Paxil in controlling obsessive-compulsive tendencies," she answered. "I want to wean you off the Zoloft and onto the Paxil. It will take about three weeks before we can tell how effective it's going to be. Decrease your Zoloft by half, and take one of those-" she jabbed a finger towards my new medication - "instead, starting today. By the end of the week, I want you on two of the Paxils and to have reduced your Zoloft to a half tablet. We'll give you a week at that dosage, then discontinue the Zoloft altogether and up the Paxil to thirty milligrams. It's a seratonine re-uptake inhibitor, and you'll probably notice several side effects," she went on. "You may be sleepier than usual" she paused and glanced at me, then away, a little bit of a blush in her face. "And there are some sexual side-effects," she told me quietly.

"Such as?" I asked flatly, just praying the stuff wasn't an aphrodisiac.

Her hesitation was almost unnoticeable. "A loss of sexual appetite and an inability to achieve orgasm is fairly common," she told me, busying herself with locking up the drugs.

"Fine by me," I answered and pocketed the stuff, walking out of the keep without a backward glance. No great loss there, I guess. Not after I finish up what I have in mind.

I've told him I love him maybe a half dozen times since the carbonite thing, and I know better than to expect anything back. It's just not in him. But I want him to know. Need him to know. I only wish it mattered a damn to him, one way or the other.

The Keeper was right. The Paxil knocked me for a loop, and sleeping suddenly became less of a problem. Fawkes started going out alone more and more, and I let him, not even bothering to follow him anymore. It's probably just as well he's out getting off with the riff-raff, 'cuz I couldn't get it up if my life depended on it. I feel like I'm walking around in a fog a lot of the time now, and I know I'm not as sharp as I ought to be, which is why the Fat Man has Monroe riding shotgun for the moment. Claire told him she was changing my meds, and even my partner has started noticing my zombie impression. Amazing. I was starting to wonder if anything I did registered with him these days. Sometimes, when he thinks I'm not looking, I catch him staring at me, this worried look hovering around his eyes. Nothing concrete, just a little concern.

Which is better than nothing, which is what it's going to be tonight, and all the nights that come after. Because I can't handle the fuck-buddy thing. It's never been my style, and I'm way too old to change now. And I can't turn off what I feel for him any more than I could with my wife. I love him. I always will. But it's going to have to go back to the way it was, before we staggered into bed together and I remembered what it felt like to love someone this much. While he was out last night, I dragged all his books down off 'his' shelf and stuck them in a box, picked up all his junk that found its way over here in the past six months, and emptied out 'his' drawer, then put the whole thing in the van in a back corner where he'll never notice it. The only things I kept are the Philosophy For Dummies book, since I bought the damned thing, and his toothbrush. He has one at home, and some desperate, stubborn little part of me is still hoping he'll come back and use it someday.

Someday. If he grows up enough to figure out that loving someone doesn't mean you have to stop being who you are, doesn't mean an end to freedom. Because I think, to him, that's all love has ever been. The people who've loved him always attached strings, strings they used to trip him up, tie him up, force him to do what they wanted. One thing I have managed to figure out is that Fawkes hates feeling trapped. So I'm setting him free. And maybe, someday, he'll get lonely, tired of not connecting with anyone. And then maybe he'll stop seeing being loved like being frozen in carbonite, trapped and powerless and under someone else's control.

Maybe. Someday.

I drop him off at home. He gets out of the van, hands in his pockets, head ducked down to peer in the window at me as I get out the drivers' side door.

"Uh, Hobbes? I didn't know you- uh, I sorta had plans for tonight," he tells me.

"Don't worry, I'm not planning on staying, kid. I'm just gonna give you a hand with a few things," I say as I open the back of the van and grab a box, handing it to him. He takes it, startled, recognizing his stuff, his books, and I take the second box and lead the way into his building, using the key he gave me long before things ever got complicated between us.

"Hobbes? What's going on?" he wants to know, that little whine creeping into his voice.

"Nothing," I say over my shoulder and keep walking. "That's kinda the way I thought you wanted it," I add as I balance the box on one raised knee and unlock his apartment. I walk in and put the box on his table, heading for his bathroom to grab the few things I have here. I don't know why I never figured it out. Well, yeah, I do, but it's just another one of those things I didn't want to see. He never made a space for me, any of my stuff, in his place. No socks, no underwear, no clothes, pictures, any evidence that I spend time at his place, except the toothbrush. Because that'd have made the whole thing too real.

I toss my toothbrush in his trash, along with the spare razor and the deodorant. I have my own at home, so it's no big deal. I try to ignore Fawkes watching every move, ignore his "Hey, Bobby? Man, talk to me, okay? Whatcha doin', tossing your stuff?"

"Have a great night, Fawkes, and I'll see you in the morning. Remember, the Fat Man's got some mook from the ATF coming in for a demo of our invisible super agent tomorrow, so don't party all night," I tell him as I walk out of his front door and back into a solitary hell I had hoped never to see again.

It's about 2 in the morning when the pounding on my door wakes me up and I know it's Fawkes even before my feet hit the floor. I changed all my locks yesterday, and his keys won't work. Now he's standing on my doorstep, trying to batter his way in, by the sound of things. I shuffle to the front door, sleepy, drugged to the eyeballs, meds that don't do anything to stop the dull ache behind my breastbone. "Go home, Fawkes, we gotta work in the morning," I mumble through the door.

"Open the fucking door, Hobbes," he demands, each word punctuated by the thud of his fist.

I sigh and unlock the door. He staggers inside, reeking of scotch and god knows what, too drunk to stand up without grabbing hold of something. Me, in this case, and he stands there, weaving, staring down at me, pissed off and sniveling and with the same old trapped look in his eyes. "You're drunk," I state the obvious. Not just drunk, but blind, stinking wasted. Worse than I've ever seen him.

"No shit, Sherlock," he snarls, rubbing a forearm across his teary eyes and almost falling over. "Why'd you change the locks? Huh? I thought we were partners!"

"We are." I sling his arm over my shoulder, reach across to grab my car keys, and start to walk him out the door.

"Where're we going?" he slurs.

"I'm taking you home, buddy. You'll never get there under your own steam in this shape. You know, the Keeper's gonna come down on you hard if she sees you like this," I tell him as I get Golda's passenger side door open and maneuver his long body into the seat.

"Don' wanna go home. We need to talk, Bobby," he complains, still sniffling.

I belt him in and walk around the front of the van and get into the driver's seat. "Feel free," I say as I start her up.

It's usually fifteen minutes from my place to his. We make it in about ten. No traffic this time of night, and I'm really not up for a long drawn out scene at this point. In spite of the claim that he wants to talk, Fawkes doesn't say a word the whole way to his place. I get him unloaded and upstairs before he says anything.

"Bobby." His voice is soft, so soft I can barely hear it. But I can hear the wavering in it that tells me he's losing it, that he's gonna start bawling on me any second. There's a little part of me that's glad, a part of me that wants him to know what it feels like to hurt, a little part of me that I hate. Because Fawkes has been hurt more than his share. Just because I have, too, doesn't make it okay to wish more of the same on him.

"Yeah, kemosabe?" I ask as I struggle to get his shirt off.

He makes a choking noise, and I look up at him real quick. Shit. He's about to toss his cookies. I hustle him into the bathroom and drop him on his knees in front of the toilet, holding his head while he heaves up the last six drinks he had into the porcelain.

It takes a long bout of dry heaves before his stomach settles down and he slumps, forehead resting on the toilet seat. I get up and find a wash cloth, wetting it in warm water and wringing it out, then wiping his face for him like the little kid he acts like most of the time. "Feel better?" I ask.

He stares up at me, his eyes dark and liquid in the dim light that filters into the bathroom from his livingroom. His eyes are terrified. I don't think I've ever seen that kind of fear in his face before, and I can't breathe, looking at it.

"Bobby," he says, voice thick and sticky with grief. Grief.

"C'mon, let's get you to bed, big guy," I coax, interrupting whatever he's about to say.

He lets me drag him to his feet and steer him to his bed, falling down onto it like an inflatable doll that's had all its air let out. I yank his pants off and swing his legs up onto the mattress, pulling the blankets over him. I can feel his eyes on me the whole time, eating away at me, stripping away every reason I've told myself this won't work, him and me. "Bobby," he starts again, looking up at me, the fear worse then before.

"Get some sleep, kid," I say, looking away.

"Bobby." The silence is about a million years long before he finishes. "I love you."

I turn around and look at him, hurting, for him, for me, knowing nothing's changed. Not with that terror in his eyes. And I nod at him anyway. "I know," I say. Just not enough.

And turn away, letting myself out of his apartment as I switch off the lights.

end