Don't own them. Wish I did. They'd still be around if I did. But I don't so don't bother suing me. I'm broke and you'd get nothing if you tried.

Went a little different direction this time... Let me know if you think it works... :-) The story takes place two years after Darien got the cure.

Vengeance versus Justice

A guy named John Ford once said "Delay in vengeance delivers a heavier blow." Well, to me, truer words have never been spoken…

{~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~}

He wants to why. He's standing before me with his rigid arms at his sides, hands balled into fists that are spattered with my blood, demanding to know why. I've always loathed him, the little prick, but I have no choice but to answer him this time. "It was business" I say through heavy breaths. "He was a means to an end."

CRACK!

It feels like I was just hit in the face with a brick! I spit out a mouth full of blood and a couple broken teeth.

"He was my BROTHER!" he rages at me and punches me in the stomach again, leaving me unable to draw breath.

I'm extremely dizzy now. The pain I feel is almost mind numbing. I no longer have the strength to fight my restraints. So I'm sitting here, hunched over in the chair that I'm chained to, desperately trying to breathe while he stands over me, and glaring the hate for me that he's built up over the 4 years since his brother was killed.

How long have I been here? I have no idea. It feels like days at least. The last thing I remember was leaving my lab. I turned to lock the door and then I woke up here in what looks to be some kind of warehouse,with it's cement floors and tattered walls and windows, tied to this chair, and him hitting me. I have so many unanswered questions. How did he find me? What happened to my security teams? Where the hell am I? But I have no strength to ask and he's in no mood to answer.

I watch his eyes carefully and I know my end is near… When I first woke up to him punching me in the face, he eyes were just blood shot. Now they're completely crimson. He notices me looking at his eyes…

"Another of your half assed jobs, Arnie", he says coldly. "Your 'cure' only lasted a year! Now I'm back on the damn needle!" He bends over with his hands on the arms of the chair and looks me square in the eye with that eerie gaze. "Guess what, Arnie", he speaks so softly it's barely a whisper. "I'm over due for my shot… and no one knows where we are…" He straightens and crosses his arms against his chest. "Just you and me. Figure we can have a little chat before I kill you, ya swiss miss mutha…"

CRACKCRACKCRACK

I'm barely conscious at this point. I can hear him talking but have no idea what he's saying. My vision is swimming and my ears are ringing. I definitely have a concussion, possibly a fractured skull.

He grabs my hair and forces me to look up at him.

"What's the matter, Arnie? Can't focus?" He asks with false concern.

Though I try to hide it, the look in those red eyes terrifies me… He's not just going to kill me; he's going to make me pay for everything that's happened to him since he was implanted with the gland.

"Fawkes," I gasp, still not able to draw a full breath. "Fawkes, I can fix it. I can take the madness away," I plead. He just laughs that menacing laugh of madness and starts to walk around me.

"Heard that tune before. I ain't buying this time. You're gonna die here. Accept it. But before you do, I'm gonna show you some of what I've gone through these past few years… You took everything from me so I'm gonna take you apart piece by piece." He's standing behind me now and leans to whisper in my ear. "You're gonna beg for me to kill you, Arnie, but the release won't come. No one will save you. No slipping out of this one. And no talking yourself out of it either. You're going to suffer and then you're going to die." He stands and walks over to the table beside me chuckling as I fight to keep my fear hidden from him.

He turns to face me again with a syringe in his hands and a smile on his face that would make the devil himself cower in trepidation. "I've learned a lot hanging with Claire in the lab," he starts in an icy smooth voice that sends shivers down my spine. "I've learned how certain chemicals react in certain ways to the human body." He starts toward me with the syringe. "It took a while to find the perfect one to bring to this special occasion but I finally found it." He squats beside me so we're shoulder to shoulder and holds the syringe of translucent yellow liquid up in front of my face. "I can't even pronounce the name of it, ya know. But, from what I've learned, it'll give you an idea of what your little mutation does to me." I stare at it in horror and try to pull away but I'm trapped. He turns and jams the needle painfully into my jugular vein, injecting the liquid into my bloodstream. Then he grabs my face and says chillingly "Enjoy the ride, Arnie", and walks away.

The pain hits almost immediately. It is a sudden rush of white hot agony flowing through my head. It feels as though someone is pouring scalding hot tar directly onto my brain. I can't do anything but scream. The force of my screams sends me into a coughing fit that has me coughing blood up until sweet darkness envelopes me as I loose conciousness.

{~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~}

I wake with a scream as the tremendous pain of six inch long metal spikes being slammed into the top of my thighs radiates through my body.

"Wakey, wakey!" He orders in an overly cheerful voice. "It's time to parrtttyyy!" The malevolent grin is plastered across his face again.

I'm gasping for air but the pain is so intense I can't quite fill my lungs. The pain in my head isn't quite as intense but it is still burning away at my brain. Part of me wonders if I'll die of shock before he's finished with his 'games'…

My heart just about stops when he connects jumper cables to the metal spikes now imbedded in my legs.

"I saw this in a movie once," he goes on in a conversational tone, "and I always wondered if it would work like it did there." He walks along the cables and I follow them with my eyes realizing they tie into a switch in the wall that his hand is resting on. "Time to find out, eh?" and that malicious smile returns as he flips the switch.

Time stands still. It feels like lightening is coursing through my body. The pain is so incredible I can't even scream. My body locks up so completely I can't even think. And then it stops.

"Oh, ouch. That looked like it hurt." He says snidely as he approaches to inspect the damage.

I'm trembling from head to toe. I can't move, can't breathe, can't even think. My body is still radiating heat from the shock.

"Shall we go again?" he asks as he saunters back to the switch.

"NO!" I cry. "Please, Fawkes! Don't! I beg of you." To hell with pride or ego. I'll do anything he wants to avoid having him flip that switch.

He looks at me with an arrogance all his own. "You beg? Why, Arnie! I didn't know you could beg! Do it again." He sneers knowing he's broken me.

I have tears running from my eyes now, mixing with the sweat and blood on my face. "Please, I'm begging you. Don't turn it back on." I plead to him.

"Wow," he whispers. "That was pretty convincing. Try harder, though. I'm not one hundred percent sure you're really begging." He crouches in front of me again, enjoying every second of this.

"I'll do whatever you want, Darien." I plead again. "Please, I beg of you, don't turn it back on." The tears flow harder now in steady streams down my bloody, swollen face.

He laughs softly, deep in his throat. The sound makes my hair stand on end. It's a sound of pure malice.

"Nicely done, Arnie. I actually believe you." He says and stands up. "But! Like I said earlier," making sure he's meeting my eyes, he drops and softens his voice coldly, "there's no talking yourself out of this one." He turns, strides back to the switch and turns it on ignoring my choked screams of agony.

{~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~}

I slowly open my eyes. I have no idea how long I've been unconscious. 'I can't believe I'm still alive…,' I think to myself. My body is numb from the pain and shock. I couldn't move if I tried.

I look around trying to find where my tormentor has gone to. He's no where in sight. I sigh and sleep takes me again.

{~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~}

"Oh, Aaaarrrrnnnniiiiiieeeee…" He taunts in a singsong voice. "Come on, sweet pea. It's time to wake up," he coaxes.

I grunt in response and he sucker punches me in the gut knocking the wind from my lungs yet again.

"I said WAKE UP!" he roars.

I look up at him and tremble as he returns the gaze with silver eyes.

"So glad you could join me." He taunts and turns to walk back to that cursed table of his. "For a moment there I thought you might have died before I wanted you to." He looks back at me over his shoulder. "Now that you're well rested, shall we continue the game?" He asks as he toys with a nasty looking knife with a wickedly curved blade.

"Please just kill me," I beg.

He stares bitterly at me for a moment and then that horrible grin slides slowly across his face. "I told you, Arnie. I told you you'd be begging for me to kill you before this was over." He says in a voice sharper then the blade in his hands.

"You were right, Fawkes. So just do it. Just kill me." I reply flatly.

He shakes his head and tsktsks me. "No, no. Not yet, Arnaud. I still have a few more toys to play with before you die." And he saunters toward me with the knife in hand. I whimper in fear.

We both flinch as the door to the warehouse is suddenly ripped open and a single armed figured strides in.

"FAWKES! What are you doin, partner?" He yells with a shocked look on his face.

"Hey, Hobbsey! I'm just havin some fun with our ol' pal, Arnie. Wanna come play?" He asks, giddy as a school age child.

The partner freezes for a moment and stares hard at me. "De Freak?" He looks back at my torturer. "Aw crap," he whispers as he catches sight of his partners silver eyes. "Easy there, my friend. Why don't you just put the knife down and you and me take a ride, nice and calm, to see the Keep. Ok? She'll get you all fixed up, alright?" He says holding his hands out in front of him in a soothing gesture and speaking calmingly to Fawkes.

"Nah, I'm fine where I am, Hobbes. If you don't wanna join me, why don't you just head on back to the fat man like a good little boy while I finish up here." He turns back to me with pure menace written all over his face.

"Fawkes, think about what you're doin, here. You don't really wanna filet De Freak, do ya?" Stupid question. He's obviously not the brains in this partnership.

"Yeah, actually, I do. I want him dead, Hobbsey." He replied evenly, never taking his haunting eyes off me. "I want to see him suffer like I have suffered and then I want to see him as dead as my brother. I've been waiting a very long time for this and I will NOT be stopped now. So, you can leave, you can help, or I can kill you too. Your choice."

"Fawkes, you do this and you'll regret it for the rest of your life. I know you, pal. I know you'll never forgive yourself. So why not just stop now while everyone is still breathing? We can arrest him and he'll be locked away for good. THAT is justice, my friend. What you're doing is revenge. This ain't right, partner. You know it. So come on, just put down the knife." His voice getting more intense as he spoke.

Fawkes turns to looks at his diminutive partner. "You want me to put it down? Ok, sure. No problem." He turns and throws the knife at me, hitting me in the left shoulder. I scream at the bite of the blade and he grins that terrible grin at my pain.

"FAWKES!" his partner yells and tries to make a grab at him but Fawkes is too quick, hyped up on the quicksilver madness, and he dances away ending up by the table filled with his 'toys'.

"Uh, uh, uh, Robert. I told you I'm not going with you," he whips a pistol around from behind his back, taking aim at his partner. "Last chance to walk away, Hobbes," he says with ice in his voice.

Hobbes freezes at the sight of the gun, hands up in front of him, palms toward his partner. "Easy there, big guy. I know you don't want to hurt me. Come on, now. You gotta stop before this gets anymore out of control. Come on, Darien. You gotta fight the madness. Think about what you're doing, here." He's slowly inching his way closer to Fawkes.

"Do you remember what happened last time, Robert? You didn't think I'd hurt you then, either. You remember what happened?" he taunts.

"Yeah, I do, partner. I remember. So let's not repeat history, here. Ok? Just hand over the gun"

"Or what?" he snaps "You gonna shoot me if I shoot Arnie? You gonna kill me to save him?" He points the gun at me.

"How about door number three and no one gets shot, k?" He says soothingly, still slowly closing the distance between them.

"Not and option, Robert," and he pulls the trigger.

I cry out as searing pain rips through my stomach.

As he tries to turn and aim at his partner again, Hobbes lunges at him and throws him off balance causing him to fall and loose his grip on the weapon. Before Fawkes can fully register what just happened, his partner draws a syringe of his own out out his jacket and stabs him in the arm with it, injecting its contents into his body. Fawkes growls in fury and kicks his partner off of himself with enough force to send Hobbes in a backwards somersault. His partner regains his feet quickly and takes a fighting stance, eyes intent on his partner. Fawkes stands up gingerly and sways a bit.

"What the…" was all he said before he hit the ground, unconscious and Hobbes lets out a mighty sigh of relief.

A second later he's on his cell phone telling the calvary where to find us. He checks Darien's vitals and reports all is well to the person on the other end of the line, undoubtedly the Keeper. After hanging up with them and setting his partner into a more comfortable position, he turns his attention to me.

"About time," I grumble.

"Be happy I didn't just let him kill you. God knows I want to do it myself," he snaps coldly.

I choose to remain silent as he gives me a cursory exam but does nothing in the way of releasing me or dressing my many wounds.

He returns to his partner's side, and glares at me until the rest of them arrive a short time later.

{~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~}

I wake up in a hospital bed, but not in a hospital, with bandages all over my body. 'I must have passed out again,' I think to myself because I have no memory of arriving at this place. I'm stiff beyond belief but obviously they have given me a large dose of pain killers because it is only stiffness. I try to sit up and then notice that both of my wrists are handcuffed to bed rails on either side.

At that moment the door opened and the woman known as the Keeper strides in quietly looking at a chart.

"Is this really necessary?" I demand, shaking my wrists to cause a clanging sound so she'd know what I was referring to.

She doesn't even glance up from the chart but replies in an hostile voice "Absolutely and they will remain necessary and in place until you are well enough to be taken into custody by the authorities."

I say nothing further. There is just no reasoning with this woman.

She checks all the monitors, replaces my I.V. bag, make notes in the charts, and leaves the room without another word.

{~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~}

Hours later I wake up to the sound of the door opening again.

I look but don't see anyone as the door closes. However, I know exactly who's in the room with me and I start to tremble.

The sound of wind chimes comes from me right side and I turn just as the last of the quicksilver falls from his body.

He stands beside my bed, hands in the pockets of his jeans, shoulders hunched, staring at me with eyes full of hate… and something else… remorse?

He stuns me further by asking "How are you feeling?" in a quite voice.

I just stare at him shocked.

"Ummm, hello? Earth to Arnuad." He waves his hand in front of my face and I flinch involuntarily.

"I'm… I'm just fine… No thanks to you!" I snap.

"Well, you kind had it coming, Arnie," he says, matter of factly.

"Why are you here?" I snarl.

"Just checking up on you, making sure you're still here and all." He shrugs and heads for the door.

"More like admiring your handy work!" I snap again.

He turns back to me with sadness in his eyes. "I am what you made me, Arnaud. That is what your precious little mutation turns me into. Don't like it? Tough. You made it, you gotta take what it does to you. Chew on that while you rot in prison," and he turns toward the door again.

"Wait," I say softly. He stops and looks back at me. "There is something I need to know. Why didn't you just kill me? You were close enough to not have missed with that shot. Why my stomach and not my head?"

He grins a humorless smile. "Maybe I'm just a lousy shot," he replies and walks out the door leaving me to wonder at the truth.

{~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~}

As the door closes behind me, something Charlotte Bronte once said comes to mind. 'Something of vengeance I had tasted for the first time; as aromatic wine it seemed, on swallowing, warm and racy; its after-flavor, metallic and corroding, gave me a sensation as if I had been poisoned.'

Well, I gotta agree with her on that one. I had started to take my revenge on the man who murdered my brother and ruined my life. I had waited four very long and very trying years for that moment. Now while I didn't fully succeed in my plans, thanks to my partner, I did cause a good amount of damage to ol' Arnie. But somehow, instead of feeling better or justified, I feel… tainted… Like no matter how much I scrub at myself to get clean, I'll always have that stain on me. Guess that's what Arthur Schopenhauer meant when he said 'Vengeance taken will often tear the heart and torment the conscience.' Seems they all already knew something I just now learned the hard way…