I don't own them. I just love them, miss them terribly, and want them back badly.
This story sorta took on a life of its own. I never expected it to get quite this long but… It just kinda happened. It's gets a little D/C toward the end and there are lots of spoilers through out. Also, outside of watching "House" quite often, I have no medical expertise in any way, shape, or form and it'll show. I also have no idea about the level of science that was commonly discussed in I-Man. So I'm sure there are lots of mistakes there too. But hey, this is science fiction. Just let me play.
Please review and let me know what you think. I'm eager to hear just how bad a writer I am. LOL
Chapter 1: Loss
"CCCLLLLLAAAARRRRIIIIIEEEEEE!" Bobby screamed at the top of his lungs.
She came running around the corner to find two paramedics, three agents and Hobbes pushing a gurney with Darien laying on it… blood leaking from holes in his body, including one in his head…
"Bloody hell! Get him in here NOW!" She yelled back, holding the door to the Fort Levitt emergency room wide open. A staff member took her place holding the door as she followed the gurney carrying her friend.
Her mind raced as she and the ER doctors rushed to see if there was any hope at all of saving him.
Bobby hovered at the door desperately wanting to be at his partner's side but knowing he couldn't be of any help and would only be in the way in the room.
"Agent Hobbes! What the hell happened!" the very stressed voice of the Official demanded.
Bobby didn't want to remember right then but knew his superior wouldn't accept that.
"We located our targets, sir. We went in to subdue them but it was a trap. They were waiting for us. Fawkes went see through but that didn't stop the bullets from finding him. By the time the shooting was over and I had a chance to go looking for him, He was on the ground. He caught one in the leg, one in the stomach, and… one in the head…" tears were forming in his eyes as he spoke. He didn't want to accept that Fawkes may indeed not survive… He had rushed his partner to the hospital even though all signs pointed to it being too late. But He had to try to save him… Bobby Hobbes would never give up on his partner…
He and the Official stood in silence watching as the monitors were hooked up. Bobby almost leaped for joy when they started beeping. It was uneven and slow but the sign of life was there. His partner was fighting. Claire, seeing the same thing, fought back tears. Now was not the time for tears. She had a job to do. She had to help Darien in his fight to live.
Hobbes and the Official were told to wait in the waiting room and the door was closed. So there they sat for what seemed like endless hours. They took turns pacing the room. At some point Monroe and Eberts joined them there.
The hours crawled by like days. It was well into the night or very early morning when Claire and another doctor came into the room. All those waiting stood at attention eager for news.
Claire sighed. "He's alive. How? I don't know. But he is. He's in a coma, though. He lost two thirds of his blood. The bullet in his stomach ruptured his spleen. The one in his head was imbedded in his brain…" Her eyes met the Official's with a knowing look. He sighed and bowed his head. The other doctor rattled off Darien's status and a bunch of medical talk that was barely heard by any in the room. Then he departed with a thank you from Claire.
As soon as the waiting room door was closed the Official spoke. "The gland is gone." It was a statement, not a question.
"It took some damage, yes. The bullet went right through it." She replied.
"Can you repair the damage to it?" He replied ignoring the look of horror on Bobby's face.
"No. I can't. There is no point in harvesting it." She replied with an angry glint in her eyes.
"Claire, what are his chances of pulling through this?" Bobby was desperate to know.
She sighed. "Bobby… I'm not sure why he's even still alive… The wound to his head should have killed him instantly… I have no idea if he will pull through or in what condition if he should do so… I'm sorry. I have no answers for you." The tears she'd been holding back since she first saw Darien brought in were threatening to fall. She fought them harder.
Monroe, being the cut-to-the-chase person she is, asked "So what happens now?"
"Well, he's in the ICU. He's on a ventilator to assist his breathing, as Dr. Westen said. We've removed the bullets and patched up what we can. At this moment, he appears stable but that could change very quickly. It's very touch and go at this point. We just have to wait and see what happens. It's really all up to Darien for now."
Bobby stepped forward. "I want to see him." He said firmly.
Claire gave him a ghost of a smile "I knew you would. They agreed to let us in one at a time for no more then 5 minutes."
"Will he even be able to hear us?" asked Monroe in an unusually quiet voice.
Claire thought about that for a moment and then looked her in the eye. "To be honest, I doubt it. He's hooked up to a brain wave monitor. It's showing function but really just enough to show that his brain registers that he's alive. There is no evidence that our Darien is aware of anythin or even… there at all…" a tear rolled down her cheek.
"I want to see him anyway" Hobbes said in an even firmer tone.
So the four of them made there way to the ICU where they could see Darien through the glass wall. Wires, draped around him, several tubes for varying purposes came out of him, sensors rested all over him. His head, stomach, and leg were bandaged. He laid there looking dead except for the subtle rise and fall of his chest.
"Oh my god…" Bobby whispered in a voice that was barely heard, his eyes bright with unshed tears.
He walked into the room first. He slowly made his way to his partner's side, afraid to touch him. "Hey Partner", He said in a soft voice and rested his hand on Darien's shoulder between sensors. "You gotta pull through this, my friend. You ain't gonna let something like a little bullet take you down, are ya? Nah, you're too damn stubborn for that. So come on. Wake up and show everyone how tough you are. Man, will you have a story to impress the ladies or what!" He chuckled a hollow laugh. "Hey, come on, Fawkes. Hang in there. Pull through this. I know you got it in you to do this. Come on, now. Wake up." Darien lay motionless. Bobby sighed and rubbed the back of his hand across his eyes finding it wet afterwards. "Alright, partner. Just rest then. Get some much needed sleep. But if you stop fighting, I swear I'll kick your scrawny ass into next Tuesday." He patted Darien's shoulder not wanting to leave but knowing he had to. "I'll be back soon, Kid. Bobby Hobbes doesn't bail on his partner. I won't be far away." He stared at Darien a minute more and then turned and walked out of the room.
The next several months continued on with little change. Bobby visited every day before and after work. He stayed until the doctors and nurses chased him out. Claire was also there daily. She would spend time talking to Darien even though she doubted he could hear her. But what harm did it do to try? She also made sure he received his weekly counteragent without the other doctors knowledge.
One morning, about four and a half months after that fateful day, the Official called Claire and Bobby into his office, a grim expression on his face.
"I'm afraid we're going to have to pull the plug." He said coldly.
Claire gasped and Bobby just stared in disbelief.
"You can't be serious" Claire said knowing full well he was.
"I am. This Agency can no longer afford to maintain Agent Fawkes' medical condition. He has shown no improvement at all in over four months. He isn't coming back. It's time we realize that and let him go." He was so matter of fact about it Bobby wanted to hit him.
"You haven't given him enough time!" He all but screamed.
The Official turned his cold blue eyes on him. "He's had plenty of time and no improvement. Do you really think Darien would want to be kept alive on machines?" He asked tilting his head to the side slightly.
It was like a slap across the face to Bobby. As much as he hated to admit it, he knew the Official was correct about that. He knew Darien would not want to check on machines forever as a vegtable. However, the thought of loosing his best friend was more then he could handle right then. He got up and walked out ignoring the Official calling him back to his seat.
That evening they were all gathered at the hospital around Darien. It was time. Bobby sat at his partner's side hand resting on Darien's wrist. Claire was on Darien's other side, her hand on his shoulder, quietly crying. Monroe and Eberts stood at the foot of the bed silently. The Official stood in the door way. He nodded to Dr. Westen to go ahead. The doctor started pushing buttons. The whirring sound of the machines started to quiet. The ventilator was last machine shut down and the rise and fall of Darien's chest ceased. The doctor stood back quietly as the tears of Darien's friends started to fall unchecked.
"Goodbye, my friend…" Bobby whispered gripping Darien's wrist tightly.
There was silence in the room except for the occasional sniffle.
Then, suddenly, Darien started to gasp and choke. The Dr. Westen and Claire pushed everyone else out of the way as nurses came rushing in. They removed the tube from Darien's throat and turned the monitors back on.
"He's breathing on his own!" Claire said excitedly.
Although still in a coma, Darien's vitals were stronger then they had been. The doctor and nurses just stared at him dumbly, unable to believe what they were seeing. Bobby let out a "Whoop! Yeah Buddy! That's what I'm talking bout!" as Alex and Eberts hugged each other in relief. Only the Official still stood quietly in the door.
They continued to observe Darien for the next week, Bobby and Claire spending even more time in the hospital with him. But He still didn't wake. Bobby started to loose hope again.
"Why hasn't he woken up? I thought for sure after he started breathing again He'd wake… What's going on, Claire?"
"I don't know, Bobby. I told you already that bullet to the head should have killed him. No one knows why he's even still alive. His vitals are strong and his breathing is regular and unhindered. The only thing we can do now is wait and see what happens."
"I hate waiting…" He grumbled.
Another month passed and it was decided that Darien should be moved into a long term care facility. After much debate and arguing with the Official, they converted Lab 3 into a suite for Darien. Claire remained his primary care taker and Bobby visited nearly everyday before and after assignments.
Darien was left on a heart monitor but all other monitors were removed due to "lack of finances" as the Official put it. So they never knew when a little of his brain activity returned….
Chapter 2: Dream world
He stood there in a blank empty space. He was nervous. It didn't look like the padded room but it was so bright he wasn't really sure it wasn't. Had he gone quicksilver mad? Had he been captured again? Where was he? What was happening? He was afraid to move.
Then he heard a chuckle from behind him. "You look a little lost, Darien." a very familiar voice said. A voice he hadn't heard in such a long time he couldn't believe he heard it now. Slowly he turned to see the source of the voice.
He stood there, tie and sport coat as always but no lab coat. He was looking at Darien using his tie to clean his glasses and smiling. "Hello, brother" he said.
"Kevin?" Darien whispered. Not possible. Kevin was dead. He'd been shot by Arnaud's man and died in Darien's arms. It wasn't possible.
Darien shook his head and then had a scary thought. He looked up at Kevin and slowly asked "Am I dead too?"
Kevin bowed and shook his head in laughter "Nope, you're not dead."
"Then how the hell am I talking to you!" He was getting more and more afraid and frustrated.
Putting his glasses on with a sigh, Kevin asked "Do you remember having my mRNA put into the QS gland?"
Oh yeah, he remembered. In a desperate attempt to get the gland out of his head, he convinced Claire and Hobbes to help him get Kevin's Memory RNA and repeat the "Simon Cole Experience". Much to Darien's frustration, Kevin decided to play the 'I'm your big brother and know what's best for you' card and refuse to tell them how to remove the gland before injecting himself with the shot to dissolve his own mRNA from Darien's body. It took Darien months to understand why Kevin did what he did and even longer to forgive him.
"Ummm, yeah. I remember something about that." He replied sarcastically "But you injected yourself with the anti-peptide shot. You were erased from the gland. So how are you here now?" He asked crossing his arms across his chest and glaring at his brother.
Kevin sighed again. "Evidently I didn't hit the gland with the needle just so. I only erased most of my mRNA, not all of it. But not enough of me was left to manifest myself as you slept. In laymen's terms, what little there is of my memory, my… essence?... Has been trapped in the gland since that day. I haven't been fully aware of the outside world but I have been privy to some of your dreams and even some of your memories."
Darien just stared at him with his mouth gapping open. "So you're stuck in my head?"
Kevin grinned "Basically. Let me just say it's been… interesting…"
"That's not funny, Kev. Geez! I can't get ANY privacy! Not even in my own head!" He started to pace angrily. Kevin just watched him quietly.
Darien stopped and turned to look at his brother again. "So, what's happening now? How come I can see you and talk to you now?"
Kevin thought for a minute "What's the last thing you remember?" He asked.
"Well, Hobbes and me were working a case and it was a trap. I went saran-wrap when the bullets started flying but… I'm really not sure… Maybe I got hit?" That thought worried Darien. Maybe he really was dead…
"It's possible you suffered some head trauma. Possibly even damage to the gland." Then Kevin stated to go into 'mad scientist mode' and started pacing, speaking quicker and more excitedly "If that's the case, the damage to the gland may have released what remains on my mRNA into your brain with quite a bit of quicksilver. And if that's the case, the quicksilver may be affecting my mRNA in a way that allows us to communicate like this." Kevin smiled as he said this as if it were the most exciting thing ever.
Darien took it all in and just shook his head. "My head hurts…" he said simply.
Kevin stopped and turned to face his brother. "Darien, you have no idea how amazing a discovery like this is! Do you have any idea..."
"Stop it! Stop it right now, Kevin! I don't want to listen to your 'amazing discovery" speech! I want to know what the hell happened and how the hell it can be fixed! That's it!" He was angry, scared, and still not one hundred percent sure he wasn't dead or crazy. He wanted answers and he wanted his life back.
"Ok ok. I'm sorry, Darien. It's just… it's been a while since I could talk to anyone… It gets… it's not been easy for me either, being trapped in my brother's head with only my thoughts and your dreams and a few memories to keep me occupied. Why don't we sit and you tell me everything that you remember. Maybe we can figure this out together, ok?" He sounded so much like the Kevin Darien remembered. So sure, so reasonable, so intelligent. Darien felt like he was 5 again, lost in the woods around the aunt and uncles cabin and his big brother was there to help him find his way home. He sighed heavily.
"Where do we sit?" He said looking around at their bright white surroundings.
Kevin smiled. "This is your mind, Darien. Picture where you want us to be."
Darien thought for a second. 'No way could it be that easy' He said to himself. All the sudden they were on a beach with loud music and half naked women all around. Lounging chairs and colorful drinks with umbrellas were offered to them. Darien smiled and looked over at Kevin who was shaking his head.
"Perhaps somewhere a little quieter?" Kevin suggested loudly over the music.
Darien shrugged "You really are a buzz kill", he said and thought of the old cabin in the woods. Suddenly, He and Kevin were on the porch, alone in the serene beauty and quiet of their old family spot.
"Much better." Kevin said and took a seat on a rocking chair over looking the yard. He watched Darien as he also took a seat with a thoughtful sigh. "So", Kevin began. "How have you been?"
Darien looked as him as if he had six heads "Oh just dandy", his voice dripping with sarcasm. "Not like I have a gland in my brain that makes me go insane if I don't get a regular shot or anything. Not like I'm stuck at a job that's blackmailing me with said shot to make me do their dirty work. Not like…"
"Ok, ok. I get it." Kevin said hands raised in the gesture of surrender.
The question that had been burning inside of Darien for so long suddenly burst from his mouth "How could you do it, Kev? How could you just leave me with no answer to the riddle of the gland? I mean, I get that you wanted what's best for me but you have no idea how much pain I'm in what it strikes or how many people I've hurt… even killed… because of the gland. How could you just abandon me like that?" He was pleading with his eyes, begging for answers. He seemed so child like to Kevin.
"Darien… I'm sorry. I thought… I guess… I wanted to see you become what I always knew you could be. I wanted to… I don't know, really… I wanted to see you succeed in something you could be proud of in the future. Something you could look back on and say 'I did the right and good thing'. Darien you've always been so smart, so quick, so… talented. I wanted to see you become the man you should and could be. From what I could tell, the gland seemed to be helping you get there. I just wanted you to be happy and proud of yourself. I thought I was helping…"
"Helping? Kevin, the gland makes me a PSYCOPATH! It makes me hurt and kill people! Do you have any idea how many times I've nearly killed Bobby? Or Claire?" The look in Kevin's eyes at the mention of Claire's name stopped him mid-rant. He looked like he was far away in his thoughts. "Kev?" He said gently. There was a question that he'd wanted to ask Claire since the whole Kevin mRNA thing ended. The looks she'd given him after that were… strange… Like she wasn't looking at him, Darien, but she was looking for something… or someone… else. "What happened between you and Claire?" He asked quickly.
Kevin looked at him with sad eyes. "She and I went to Graduate school together. We dated for a year. One of the biggest mistakes I ever made was not staying in contact with her. I was in love with her, Darien. But we had different goals. So after school she went her way and I went mine. I never saw her or spoke to her again until I woke up in your body. It was… difficult… for both of us." He spoke softly looking away as he spoke. He wasn't saying everything.
"Tell me, Kevin. What happened between you two after you woke up in me?"
He looked at Darien again "She never told you?"
"Would I be asking if she had?" he snapped, getting frustrated again.
Kevin sighed again. "Old feelings burned again, Darien. We… We kissed. Nothing else but a kiss."
Darien stared at him. "Kissed her? You kissed her? In my body! She kissed ME?" His mind raced. When he and his Keeper first met, he'd hated her. She was his jailer, his tormentor, his leash. He loathed her. But as time went on and he got to know her – starting with her real name, Claire – he'd revised his opinion some and even more later. He started considering her a friend, an ally. Someone he could depend on, even… trust… Charles Fogerty had been right. It was like they'd grown up together. Just recently he'd started having other feelings for her but kept them concealed for Hobbes' sake. He'd never intentionally hurt Hobbes. But it didn't change the fact that those feelings were there. And now to find out that she'd kissed him! More then once but that other time didn't count as they'd both been under the influence of outside chemicals. But she'd kissed him with no other influences! Wait, no. She'd kissed KEVIN, not Darien. She'd loved his brother and he'd loved her. Darien was just the medium that reunited them. He looked at his brother and started feeling something else. Jealousy. Then he caught himself up short. No, it wasn't his place to be jealous. They'd been together long before he'd come into the picture. He would burry those feelings even deeper. They weren't his to have.
As all this ran threw his head, Kevin watched him carefully. "Darien", he said when he saw his brother settle something within. "I know how you feel about her." Darien's eyes shot up to meet his, a shocked expression on his face. "I've shared you dreams, remember? And some of your memories too. I know. It's ok. I lost any rights to her affections years ago."
Darien shook his head. "She doesn't want me, Kev. Not like that. Besides, Bobby is head over heals for her. I'd never do that to him. It's nothing but… I guess… a crush. It would never work. Don't worry about it."
Kevin just watched him then bowed his head and sighed. "A fine pair we make, eh?" He said with a humorless laugh. "Alright, time to change topics. I actually have some questions for you now if that's alright." He said in a brighter tone.
Darien nodded in agreement to answer his questions.
Over what seemed like the next several hours they talked about everything that Kevin had gleaned from Darien's mind. Thoughts of a little blue eyed girl calling him "Ralph", more thoughts of a blond haired pre-teen boy and the pain he had in those memories. They discussed Adam at length.
"So He'd been genetically engineered to 'go off' at puberty? And you froze him in a cyro-pod to arrest the process? Genius! Truly a genius idea! That buys him unlimited time to figure out how to alter him back to safety!"
"Problem is, Kev, even if we figure out how to fix him, we still don't know how to safely wake him. Trying to thaw him out could kill him pretty easily. I'm not sure I saved him. More like just found him a new prison." The extreme guilt Darien still felt was openly expressed in his tone. Kevin heard unshed tears in his brother's voice.
"Do you remember any of the science behind his alterations?" Darien looked up at him confused. "Maybe if I knew the properties, I could help… Or maybe if I knew more about the freezing process, I may be able to figure out how to thaw him safely. Worth a shot, right?" He said trying to ease his brother's pain some.
"If I knew, I'd tell ya. That's all Claire's department. You know all that stuff is way over my head." He turned away in disgust. If only he'd paid more attention when Claire had discussed the problem… But he had a habit of his eyes glazing over when she started her science talk. Just like he had as a child when Kevin had started the same kind of talk.
The topic changed again. This time to women. Darien told his brother about Kate, Mei-lyn, Rachel and then Allianora.
"I remember her! At least, I saw one of your memories of her. She's the one who was able to express water at high pressure from her lungs, right! Fascinating!" He looked at Darien's blank expression. "Sorry, continue." He said meekly.
"Yeah, that was her. Aqua-mama."
"What happened to her?"
"She died. See I was up against Chrysalis again. She worked for them. She… infected me… with these nanobug things so they could see everything I saw and hear whatever I said. Long story short, we screwed up their plans again. They got pissed and tried to stop us but they couldn't. I ended up by a pool in a school and ended up getting my butt kicked… again… and in the pool unconscious. Alli saved me. Knocked her own guy out and pulled me from the pool. He boss wasn't too happy about that. So while she stayed with me, her boss came in behind her and shot her. She died in my arms…" More unshed tears in his voice. Kevin reached over and touched his brother's arm.
"I'm so sorry, Darien. I know you cared for her."
"Yeah but it wasn't… it was strange. I didn't love her, ya know? I just kinda… connected with her. Like we were kindred spirits. She was the one person who truly understood what it was like to be a lab rat. I… I don't know. She was the enemy but I still miss her." He wiped moisture from his eyes refusing to cry in front of his brother. Kevin just gripped his arm tighter.
"I'm sorry." Was all he could say.
"Yeah, me too." He cleared his throat. "So! Any bright ideas as to how to fix our current situation?"
Chapter 3: Real World
It'd been a year since Fawkes had been shot. A year since the coma first started. He'd tried to come almost every day after Fawkes had been moved to the Harding Building. But after so long, it had gotten depressing for him to make these visits. So he just didn't do it as often. It'd been about 2 weeks since his last visit. He felt guilty but Bobby was at his partner's side again. It had been one helluva day. However, Bobby Hobbes always gets his man. So with that case wrapped up, he had decided to come down and sit with his partner and fill him in on the particulars.
"The mook never knew what hit him. It's was beautiful, Fawkes. True poetry. You woulda love it." He looked at his partner's face. So peaceful, so pale. It was strange. Almost didn't look like the man He'd been partnered with for more then two years. More like a wax model of him. Lifeless and cold. Unnerving. Bobby shook those thoughts from his head. No. His partner was still in there. He had to be. Why else would he have survived when they removed the ventilator. One day soon Fawkes would open those big brown eyes and smile that smile that had all the ladies clinging to him. They'd be back to their ways of bantering and driving everyone else nuts in no time flat. One day soon…
Bobby sighed. He'd been telling himself that for a year now. Part of him wanted to just slap himself and yell 'WAKE UP! It ain't gonna happen!' But the other part of him HAD to believe it would. Darien had been his friend, his BEST friend. They'd been as close as brothers. Bobby Hobbes would never give up on his brother. As long as Fawkes was breathing, Bobby would have hope. He had to.
Claire walked in. "Hello, Bobby. How are you today?"
"Fine, Keepie. Any change in our boy here?"
"You know I'd call you if there had been." She sniffed, sounding mildly insulted.
"Sure, sure. But ya knew I had to ask." He said contritely.
"I know. I'd expect nothing less." She replied as she filled in the information on his stats.
He watched her for a moment and then looked back at his partners face, silently pleading with him to open his eyes.
His heart almost stopped when he saw those eyes twitch. Thinking He had imagined it, he continued to stare. They twitched again.
"His eyes are moving."
"What?" She came to his side to stare at Darien's eyes with him. They twitched again. "Bloody Hell!" She cried and ran from the room.
"Claire! What's goin on!" He yelled but she was already gone. Turning back to his partner, He stood beside him holding his should and arm. "Come on back, partner." He said softly, encouragingly. "Come on, open those big puppy dog eyes of yours. Come on back." He was almost chanting.
Claire returned with a new piece of equipment. She proceeded to put pads on his partner's head and connect them to the machine. She turned it on and the needle on the paper started bouncing up and down with enthusiasm. "Bloody Hell!" She yelled again. She was at Darien's side in an instant, one hand resting on his face, the other on his shoulder. "Darien? Darien, can you hear me?" She watched the needle as she spoke in his ear.
"Claire, what the hell is goin on!" Bobby was tired of waiting for answers.
"I… I think he can hear us… That twitching is called R.E.M. or rapid eye movement. Typically it's associated with dreaming but in Darien's condition, this monitor" she pointed to the new machine "shows his brain is highly active at the moment. Like he's thinking or responding to outside stimuli. I can't be one hundred percent sure but I think he's aware of us and hears us." Bobby's jaw dropped and she turned back to her patient still watching the monitor "Darien, can you hear us?"
Chapter 4: Connection
The pain was earth shattering. Darien was down on his knees grasping at the back of his skull trying desperately to rip the gland out from the back of his head. The screams that came from his throat were enough to shatter glass, worse then nails on a chalk board. Kevin had never before experienced one of Darien's attacks so vividly. It was total and complete hell. No wonder Darien hated and feared the gland so much! The sensations dribbled through the connection the brothers shared. Kevin felt as though his blood was boiling, the ringing in his ears was nothing compared to the lancing white hot pain that burst through the back of his head, over coming all his senses, over coming everything so completely it was as though nothing else existed but the pain. He wanted to rip out of his own skin and run away screaming. But he couldn't, he was trapped. Just as quickly as it had struck, the pain was gone, replaced with a sense of euphoria, complete and utter relief. The counter-agent. Claire must have given them the counter-agent. Darien lay gasping on the floor of his own mind. Kevin was in much the same condition not far from him. Slowly the scene changed back to the family's cabin and the brothers were on the front lawn, laying on the cool grass as they tried to gather their senses.
"Sorry", Darien whispered in his exhale. "Tried to stop it from hitting you too. Can't seem to do it as well anymore."
Kevin couldn't understand what he meant. His mind was far too rattled. "Is that the way it's always felt?"
"Yeah, pretty much." Darien moaned.
"I'm so sorry, Darien", Kevin said finally sitting up and looking over at his brother. Darien looked very worn, extremely tired. He looked older then Kevin ever thought possible. This was what Arnaud had sentenced him to. A life of agony.
'Damn you, Arnaud,' He thought to himself. 'Damn you for trapping my brother like this. For tormenting him with your ungodly mutation. Damn you to hell.' A new level of hate burn in Kevin. He'd never felt that particular emotion so strongly in his life. But he felt he would not hesitate to kill Arnaud if they ever met face to face again.
"Not your fault, Kev. You didn't know he'd done what he did." Darien replied as if reading his brother's mind. Kevin wasn't convinced he couldn't read his mind. The bond that had started when the gland had been damaged had gotten stronger day by day. As the two exchanged knowledge, it was more as though they were of one mind then two separate people. Kevin had started adopting Darien's mannerisms and expressions and Darien had started adopting Kevin's. It was strange. The two had never been on the same wave length in their lives. Not even close. More like polar opposites. But now… things had changed. That's when it struck him.
"Darien, what did you mean you tried to stop it from hitting me?" He felt he already knew the response but wanted to hear it from his brother to confirm it.
Darien sat up and looked over at him, still rubbing the back of his neck, with a confused expression. Obviously he was still feeling the effects of the madness. He hadn't quite unscrambled yet.
"You said that you had tried to stop it from hitting me. That you couldn't seem to do it as well anymore. What did you mean by that?"
"Oh. Ummm I'm not sure how to explain it." He hesitated.
"Try." Kevin insisted.
"Umm, well. It's kinda like I put up a wall between us. So you don't have to deal with the madness. I know you see it but I didn't want you to have to feel it too. Guess I was protecting ya." He said with a weak, almost self-conscious smile.
That made Darien nervous. "What are you thinking, Kev." It wasn't so much a question as a demand to be informed.
"What do you think I'm thinking?" Kevin inquired.
"Huh?" Darien was totally confused.
"Try to feel what I'm thinking." Kevin pushed, trying to hide his excitement.
"Kev, you aren't making any sense," Darien replied, getting frustrated again.
"I'm making perfect sense. Listen, this bond, link, whatever you wanna call it seems to be getting stronger, deeper. It's almost like we're on the same wave length sometimes or even thinking the same thoughts. Or even reading each others thoughts. I want to test it."
Darien groaned "So you're back to playing mad scientist with me."
"No, Darien. If what I think is happening is happening, there may be a way for you to wake up involved. So tell me what I'm thinking."
Darien looked at him for a minute processing what Kevin had just said. "Alright, I'll give it a shot."
Kevin smiled. "Don't try to do it. It happens most when you're not paying attention. So don't try, just do it."
"Easy for you to say" he mumbled under his breath.
Darien sat there with his eyes closed practicing his breathing techniques. He added one new exercise, he tried to open his mind to everything around him. At first he felt like a fool and almost gave it up. But then a slight inkling came through, something he felt the need to investigate. So he focused more on it. Digging deeper into the vastness. All at once he had the answer.
Darien's eyes snapped open to meet his brother's "You think that the bond is getting so deep we're actually kind of melding together?"
Kevin smiled in wonder and pride in his brother. "Exactly right. It's almost to be expected. After all, I'm already in your mind and we've exchanged so much information that we practically share the same pool of knowledge."
"So what will happen to you?" Darien cried. He was NOT prepared to loose his brother AGAIN!
"I'm not really sure…" Kevin replied suddenly uncertain. "A few possibilities. One : I'll simply cease to exist, much like I would have if the anti-peptide shot had been used correctly with the exception that you'd now have my knowledge. Two: I'd still be here but more of an under current, almost non-existent. Three : We'd sort of blend together into a single person rather then two people. You may even inherit my good taste in clothes and I your witty charm." Kevin grinned.
"You're talking like a split personality?" Darien asked not quite understanding.
"No, the exact opposite in fact. More like a cohesion of two personalities into a single one."
Darien thought about that for a minute and smiled. "Man, we'd be a force to be reckoned with! Your brains and expertise. My brawn, good looks, and charm. Nobody would be able to resist us!" They laughed together.
"True enough, Darien. True enough."
"Would that mean I'd inherit all your memories too?"
Kevin thought that one over. "Possibly. Why? Is there one you wanted to know about?"
Darien thought for a moment and turned away. "I want to know why you pushed me out of the way. I want to know why you chose to save me and sacrifice yourself." There were tears in his eyes. It was too much for Kevin. He got up and went to his brother. Pulling him into a hug He rocked Darien back and forth like he had as a child after their mother died. Tears held in for so long finally were released.
Kevin didn't have that memory because it happened after he donated his mRNA to the project but having seen Darien's perspective on the event in his dreams and memories, he knew the pain and grief that his brother had carried since that day. "You were always the stronger one, Darien. You were always the one who could survive anything. I had left you, abandoned you for so long. I couldn't do it again. You deserved a chance at life, not to be killed for my foolishness. I had to protect you as I hadn't done before." Kevin's embrace tightened as Darien sobbed into his brother's shirt.
Chapter 5: Contact
Bobby had called Claire as soon as the tears had started. Darien, still in his coma, was crying and neither knew why. They couldn't seem to comfort him. The monitor said that his brain was practically in over drive. Even the Official had agreed to let her get some brain scans, MRIs, and CAT scans done to figure out what was going on. All she had learned was that the gland had somewhat healed but it had become so deeply imbedded in his brain it would never be removable. Nothing explained the ongoing coma or, more currently, the endless flow of tears. What ever was happening within his mind was causing him a great amount of distress. She felt helpless. She wanted so desperately to comfort him, to sooth whatever hurt he was experiencing to cause these tears but she hadn't the faintest idea of the cause. Maybe it was just frustration that he could hear them but not be able to respond? Maybe it was one of his many recurring nightmares – though the scans showed too much activity for him to be truly asleep at the moment. Or maybe he was in physical pain though she couldn't find it. The brain is just still too much of a mystery. There was no telling what had happened to cause those tears but she wanted desperately to stop them. So she picked up his torso and laid him against her chest and shoulder rocking him and cradling his cheek against with her hand. She whispered "shhhh, It's alright, Darien. There is no need to cry. Hush now, sweetheart. There, there. Shhhhh". She continued to gently rock him hoping that she was helping in some way.
Darien stopped crying as he heard her voice.
"shhhh, It's alright Darien."
He looked at Kevin wondering if he heard it too. He did.
"There is no need to cry…"
"Claire", they whispered together
"You must have been crying externally as well." Kevin said releasing the tight grip on his brother to face him fully.
"Hush now, sweetheart. There, there. Shhhhh…"
"Yeah but we haven't heard her or anyone else before. So what does this mean? Am I waking up?"
"Seems so." Kevin replied, looking around as the scene of the cabin started to fade a bit.
"So what happens now?" Darien all but yelped. He felt light headed and dizzy.
Kevin looked back at his brother. "Why do you keep asking me that?"
"Cause you're the one who always had all the answers." Darien shrugged, the woozy feeling getting stronger.
"Well, not this time, Darien. Sorry. I already laid out the possibilities. You know as much as I do now." The scene around them faded even more.
"Not likely." Darien grumbled but gave up the line of questions. He could feel Kevin's nervousness. He wasn't ready to die… again… "It'll be option three, Kev."
Kevin looked at him again. "And how do you know that?"
"Cause I won't have it any other way." Darien replied confidently. He wasn't ready to loose his brother again, either.
Suddenly Darien felt shaky, almost high like on prescription pain killers. He looked at his brother and watched as the image of Kevin who he'd had by his side for so long now started to fade away.
"NO!" Darien yelled and latched on tightly to him. "I'm not letting you go! Not this time!" He cried.
Kevin latched back onto him and pulled him into a brotherly embrace. "Hang onto me, Darien. Never forget everything we've talked about. Everything you've learned. Maybe it'll help you with those situations we talked about. Like Adam Reese or even the madness itself. Get the facts and information from Claire. Learn from her too. You have to knowledge, now, to fix these things. Do it! And never forget how much I love you and how proud I am of you." Kevin smiled at his taller brother who was crying again. "Stop crying, ya big wuss. It's ok. As long as you remember what I taught you, I'll always be with you. Got it?"
Darien couldn't speak. It was happening again. He was loosing his brother again. He could feel Kevin fading from his mind. That comforting presence that He had grown so use to having there was leaving him alone again. He choked back a sob and nodded. "I'll never forget, Kev. I'll continue to learn. I promise."
Kevin smiled again. Hugged his brother tightly and was gone a moment later.
"Darien? Darien, can you hear me?" a bright light was being flashed in his eyes. A blurry face was just beyond the light.
"Darien? Can you hear me?" a light feminine voice inquired.
"Hey, Fawkes! Come on, partner! Can you hear us? If you can, blink or something so we know."
Darien blinked in response to Bobby's request.
Claire and Bobby both let out a sigh of relief.
Bobby patted his arm "Welcome back, Kid! Have a nice nap?" He said with a smile that covered his face and tears in his eyes.
Darien blinked again to clear his vision. He was awake. How long had it been? Far too long judging by how weak his body felt. He stated to look around, trying to figure out where he was.
"Darien? Do you know who we are?" Claire again. Always the doctor.
He cleared his throat and swallowed. He hadn't found his long unused voice yet. So he just nodded. That action was enough to exhaust him.
"Ok, Darien. Look, we'll run through the tests later. For now just sleep and recover some strength, ok?"
'Bless you, Claire', he thought to himself. That was exactly what he needed – sleep.
Chapter 6: Recovery
He was sitting up in his bed in lab three. It had been two weeks since he'd awoken from the coma that he'd been in for one year, three months, and twenty seven days. That was a large amount of time to loose. He no longer had an apartment; Bobby had made sure all his belongings were locked away safely in storage. He no long had any muscle tone in his body. They had tried to keep some by doing physical therapy on him while he was in the coma but he was no where near as fit as he'd once been. At least his hair had grown back from when they'd shaved it to remove the bullet from his head. Still, things in his world were so upside down that all he could do was sit there and wonder where to start.
After running every test known to men and a few less known, Claire had deemed him surprisingly healthy. He was able to feel and move his whole body, his memory seemed intact, his speech and motor skills where unaffected. Really the only thing to do was regain his muscle tone so he could walk and return to his life. But that was so much easier said then done. He looked over at the books and magazines Bobby had brought him from Darien's storage locker. He'd gone through them but none seemed to hold his attention long. He saw his chart at the foot of his bed. So he leaned forward and snatched it before collapsing back into his pillows. Oh yeah, he had some serious rehab to do to get his fitness back. He started flipping through his chart and reading what had been written. Detailed notes on his stats and vitals from his time in the coma, observations by Claire or her assistants, medications they'd used, a record of counter-agent use. That caught his attention. He was studying it when Claire walked in.
"Good morning, Darien! How are you feeling today?" She asked with a bright smile.
Claire, beautiful, sweet, caring, loving Claire.
"I'm alright. Still weak. It's driving me insane." Darien replied with a smile of his own.
"You'll get it back in no time, I bet." She replied and checked his pulse. "What are you reading there?"
"My chart. It seems you've been increasing the number of counter-agent shots over the past year. Is there a problem?" He asked looking up at her.
Her smile was replaced by a sad sigh. "Actually, yes. I was waiting until you were more recovered to talk with you about that. It seems you've started developing a tolerance to the counter-agent…" She hesitated, knowing this news would upset him.
He sighed "We know it was going to happen one day…" He nodded looking back at his chart.
Claire was surprised that he didn't react more but she continued. "I've been working on a few different options but none have been successful yet… I've got…"
"Can I see the research? Your notes too, please." He interrupted, his eyes never leaving the chart.
She looked at him with surprised eyes. He felt her stare and looked up at her again.
"I may have learned a few new tricks. I had to do something with my time while I was comatose." He said lightly trying to break the tension in her stare.
"What haven't you told me, Darien? How would you have learned 'new tricks' while in a coma?" Her stare intensified.
Oh how he use to love catching her off guard like this. He would drop her tidbits and have her undivided attention back in school. It led to many an interesting night… Wait. That wasn't his memory… He didn't know her in school… Wait a second…
He looked back at the chart turning to one of the more complicated print outs. He read through it and actually understood everything that was written there! He smiled and thought to himself 'option three…'
"Trust me, Claire. I may be able to help figure out a few of these puzzles now." He said turning his smile to her again.
"I want to know how, Darien. Tell me everything." She insisted.
"You are still just like you were in school, still thirsting for knowledge" he said before he could stop himself.
She stared at him in shock. "K…K… Kevin?" she said in something between a gasp and whisper.
"Not entirely… it's complicated. I promise to explain… if you give me the information I requested…" He smiled devilishly at her.
Claire had to shake herself out of the shock. "A..Alright. But only if you explain it fully to me."
He held up his fingers "Scout's honor" he said giving her his most charming smile.
She couldn't help but laugh as she went to get the information.
Chapter 7: Solutions
Six months after he woke, Darien was in the Keep with Claire waiting for the newest batch of counter-agent to finish synthesizing. She was sitting at her microscope and he was leaning on the edge of the desk watching her quietly. 'So much like she was in school…' He thought to himself. She leaned back and started making notes with one hand while rubbing the back of her neck with the other. He smiled to himself as he walked over and took over massaging her shoulders. She groaned in appreciation.
"Oh, that feels lovely." She sighed.
"Glad to help." He grinned and kept rubbing.
She put her hands on his and gestured to the seat next to her. He obliged her by sitting and she turned to face him, her eyes on his.
"I have a question for you." She started, unsure of just how to ask it.
"Just ask, Claire. Its ok." He said, leaning forward to rest his elbows on his knees and took her hand in both of his.
She looked at his hand holding hers and sighed. 'Such a Kevin thing to do…', she thought.
Looking back at him she asked "What's it like? I mean, the two of you are one person now. What's it like to be both of you?" She looked as though her own question confused her.
He looked at the floor in thought for a moment and ran one hand through his hair.
'Such a Darien thing to do', she thought to herself.
Taking her hand in both of his again he looked back into her eyes. It made her heart skip a beat.
"It's like… I know who I am, I know who Darien is, and I know who Kevin is. But it's all the same person. I remember what I was like before the coma. The street smart punk, thief, turned super agent. I know I'm very different now but I don't feel very different. I just feel like me only… better? I'm not sure I can explain it any better then that." He said with a grimace.
"Do you have all his memories?"
"All? No. Many of them, though. That, I think, is the oddest part. It's like I have the same memories from two very different perspectives. Or memories from the same time period of two people that were involved in two very different lives but they're both me. It's very strange but interesting at the same time." He bowed his head and chuckled to himself before looking back at her smiling brightly. "I always did want to get to know my brother better…" He laughed again and she giggled with him.
He rubbed her hand between his and smiled coyly. "So what now, Keepy?"
"Well, we have a least two hours before the counter-agent is ready…" she replied and as she spoke on of his hands made it's way to her cheek, cupping her face tenderly and stroking her cheek with his thumb,
"Two hours, huh?" His grin was pure charm.
"Don't even go there." She said but didn't remove his hand from her face or her hand from his.
He just smiled again. "Whatever you say, Keepy" gently squeezing her cheek before withdrawing both his hands and standing.
A sigh escaped her lips before she could catch it and he just grinned down at her. She rolled her eyes and turned away from him but couldn't stop her heart from pounding.
Two Hours Later
As she drew a syringe of the new counter-agent as he tightened the band around his bicep and cleaned the crook of his arm with a swab. Bobby chose that moment to enter the keep.
"How's it going?" He said cheerily.
"Just about to get my shot" Darien replied.
"The one you helped make?"
"Yep", he said with a big grin.
"And it's really gonna work?... Totally work?..." Bobby said in a lowered voice looking from Darien to Claire and back.
Darien locked eyes with Claire. She drew a deep breath and replied "I do believe so", sounding confident. "At least, that's what all the tests say…"
"Not to be the downer or anything but I've heard that before, Claire. It worked for a bit but the madness came back with a vengeance…" Hobbes said, looking very unsure of the whole thing.
"I appreciate your concern, Bobby, but Arnaud's cure was just that, Arnaud's. This one is by Claire's and my design. A bit more caution was used to produce it. All the tests are showing very promising results. There is only one step left to take to find out if it truly works." And with that, he handed his arm over to Claire.
She smiled and gave him the injection.
"You and your new science talk there, Fawkesy." Bobby said with a grin.
Darien smiled back "I always told you I was above average."
Bobby laughed "Yeah, yeah, yeah. Rub it in why doncha."
Darien chuckled and looked back at Claire who was carefully watching him for any reaction.
"I feel fine," he said and turned his arm to show her his tattoo. It was completely green for the first time in months. She sighed a happy relieved sigh and Hobbes clapped him on the shoulder with a grin.
"Well, that appears to be one problem down", Darien said happily. "What about problem number two?" He turned to look at Claire.
"Problem number two?" Bobby looked between them confused.
"He means Adam Reese", Claire supplied.
"Ahhh ok. Now I got ya. You still hung up on that kid, Partner?"
"Always have been. Just chose not to show it", he replied sadly. "I can't just leave him in that ice box, Hobbes. I just can't. I have to save him." He met Bobby's eyes.
Hobbes nodded. "So let's save him. How do we do it?" He looked from one to the other, no doubt in his mind that between them, Adam would be cured and brought back to the land of the living.
Less then four months later, he was.
They were all there as Claire and Darien, both in their safety suits, thawed Adam out and gave him the cure they had designed together.
A week later, Adam was in lab three – which was still set up as a hospital room from when Darien had been in his coma- happily playing video games with Eberts… who was kicking Adam's butt.
Darien walked in to hear Eberts cry "Oh, Who is the man, sir!" and see Adam put his head in his hands and shake his head in grief at loosing yet again to the Official's lackey. Darien chuckled to himself at the scene. Adam heard him and said "Hey D! Wanna Play?" holding out a control to him.
Chapter 8: Epilogue
Bobby and Darien were at their favorite bar having a couple of drafts and relaxing. Bobby had just wrapped up another case and was sharing the details with Darien, who still hadn't been cleared for active duty.
"One day, partner. One day she'll cut the cord and let you come back to the action." Hobbes smiled before taking a swallow from his bottle.
Darien just smiled. "Yeah, maybe. I can honestly say that I miss being in the field. I've always been an adrenaline junkie. Working in the lab has been interesting and even, at times, fun but it's just not the same kind of rush."
"Yeah, no one shootin at ya, no car chases, no runnin down and catchin bad guys, no all night stake outs. Gezz, man. I don't know how you deal with that boring stuff." Bobby said with a smile.
Darien laughed. "Well when ya put it that way, the lab does seem a whole lot friendlier!" and he laughed again joined by Bobby's chuckle.
After a quiet moment Bobby looked away from Darien and said "So? When you two gonna make it official?"
The question caught Darien by surprise and, with his bottle half way to his mouth, he stared at Bobby.
"Aw, come on, Fawkes. You know me well enough to know nothing gets by Bobby Hobbes," he said with a sly grin. "I know she and the new part of you have a history together. It's obvious to any one who glances your way that you two still have the hots for each other. I'm just wondering when you're gonna make your move."
Darien continued to stare. When he spoke, his voice was filled with guilt. "Bobby… I didn't… I mean… I never…"
"Can it, Fawkes. It's alright. I just want her to be happy. And you deserve a little happiness yourself. Treat her right and I ain't got any issues with you two. Got it?"
A slow smile spread across Darien face. "Got it" he said. "Thanks, Hobbes."
"Hey, what a friends for? Now are you gonna go to her or do I have to drive you there too?"
Darien laughed again. He pulled out his wallet and threw some bills on the table. "Tonight's drinks are on me, my friend", he cupped Bobby's shoulder and he got up to leave.
"Bout time you paid." Hobbes replied with a grin. "Now get out of here." And with that, Darien left with a smile, ever grateful to his paranoid partner.
Not twenty minutes later, Darien was ringing the bell to Claire's home. It was after eleven. She opened the door in her robe with worry in her eyes. "Are you ok?" she asked quickly.
He smiled. "I'm fine. May I come in?"
She stared at him for a moment and then allowed him in.
"What's going on?" She asked as she closed the door behind them and was very surprised to find herself quickly and fully embraced by Darien.
The kiss lasted only a short time but left them both breathless.
"Darien", she gasped. "What's gotten into you? I thought we agreed…"
"I don't care what we agreed, Claire. I only know what it is I want." And he kissed her again.
When he released her she had to hold onto him because her knees felt as though they may buckle on her.
"I thought you were concerned about Bobby?" she whispered.
"He gave his blessing as long as I treat you right." He chuckled and smiled at her astonished look.
"Darien… You're my patient…" she started only to be interrupted.
"Claire, don't. Don't try to use that excuse with me. We both know I'm more then just your patient or your 'kept'. I remember what things were like between you and Kevin. I remember as if they were between you and me. I inherited many things from him, including the ability to recognize my feelings and the inspiration to act on them. I know what I want, Claire. I am willing to throw caution to the wind and give this a try. The question is are you?" He stared deeply into her eyes, willing an answer from her.
He reminded her so much of the man she'd 'kept' and had grown to care deeply about for 3 years but there was more to him now. Memories flooded to her of a love she had so long ago. Is it possible that the man she loved long ago and the one she'd grown to care so very deeply for over these past several years were both now combined into something near perfection and now longing to be with her? What made her worthy of such a man? Would it actually work out between them?
Tossing all cares and concerns aside, she reached up and kissed him deeply, allowing her robe to loosen and fall to the floor.