Title: The More Things Change

Author: Beth Green

Disclaimer: These characters don't belong to me; more's the pity.

Summary: Darien's thoughts one year after his brother's death. This was my contribution to the I-Man fanfic list's Kevin Fawkes memorial stories.

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The More Things Change

Introduction: For being a generally all around brilliant kind of guy, my brother never really could figure me out. He truly believed in the old saying, "The more things change, the more they remain the same." At least, he believed it applied to me.

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Scene: Kevin's Grave

You know, I always thought that graveyards were a really morbid waste of space. I figured, when I die, I just want somebody to toast what's left of me in some crematorium, and scatter my ashes somewhere where they can provide fertilizer for something new to grow.

The past year has given me reason to rethink that. I've been spending of hell of a lot more time in graveyards than I ever thought I would. Well, one particular graveyard; in one particular place. I find myself tracing the letters with my finger tips: "In Memory of Kevin Fawkes." I've been doing that for a while now, kind of mindlessly over and over, not at first noticing how I'd been steadily increasing the pressure until my touch has become painful. I stop and stare at my hand. The fingers are raw and reddened from the repeated contact. I shake my hand, pleased at the tingling sensation as the circulation returns. I look at the plain black headstone, not really seeing it. I don't need to, as its image has been permanently burned into my brain. I begin to trace the lettering again, needing to feel something, even if it's only the touch of cold stone.

It's been exactly one year since Kevin died. I should be feeling something, right? God knows, I've gone through enough feeling this past year. First, the painful shock at the reality of his being shot down in cold blood right in front of me. Then, the second shock, when he willfully took his memories away from me.

His second death, his goddamn suicide, that's the one that really got to me on a level I'm still trying to figure out.

Kevin and me, we've had a kind of rocky relationship over the years. It's not easy to like someone when you're constantly being told he's better than you. Being the younger son, I got the dubious pleasure of being taught by person after person who'd had my "brilliant" brother as a student before me. Sometimes subtly, sometimes not so subtly, I'd pick up on their disappointment once they realized I was never going to follow in my Junior Einstein brother's footsteps. Despite what people think, I'm not stupid. I figured out that I was expected to be an underachiever, a screw-up. I found it easier to live down to their expectations. I'd tried a time or two to do the absolute best that I could, but soon realized that there was no point. I'd always get the message that it wasn't quite good enough.

The only one who never gave up on his too high expectations of me was my brother, Kevin. He took his older brother responsibilities way too seriously. As I told him more than once, he wasn't my father, and sure as hell shouldn't try to be. I admit it; I'd sometimes get a perverse thrill out of doing something so against all things Kevin, that I'd get my reward: the famous Kevin "look", where his eyes would bug out, he'd raise his eyebrows so high they'd disappear into his hair, and his mouth would open and close a few times, like a fish, as I'd manage to render him speechless. However, the speechless part never lasted very long, and then he'd treat me to Kevin lecture number two thousand and one, and I'd tune him out, then yell just to shut him up, and around and around we'd go.

It took a lot of years, and one too many arrests, but after my second conviction, my brother finally gave up on me for good, or so he said. He informed me that, if I continued my criminal behavior, I would not see him again, unless he needed someone to use as a bad example after I'd get sent away permanently for a third strike conviction. My response was a one finger salute, and I figured he could take my sendoff with him to his grave, the little prick.

As I sat in my jail cell, contemplating life in prison, I remember wondering what twisted part of myself insisted on proving Kevin right. He'd kept his promise, and I'd not heard from him since our nasty little parting of the ways. That's why I was surprised when I received the get out of jail offer from him. I soon found out his one little condition: I'd have to let him put a gland in my head.

I should have told him to go to hell. He'd always thought that I wasn't right in the head, and now he saw his chance to try to put in a fix.

Now he's dead, and I'm sitting here, my ass going numb from the cold, hard ground, while I'm trying to get in touch with my feelings. I should be sad, right? I mean, the guy is dead. But, instead I feel nothing.

Okay, I'm lying here. I guess I do feel something. I feel pissed. But, I'm trying not to, because if I'm going to feel anything at all, it shouldn't be anger. At least, not directed at Kevin.

I can be angry with myself, 'cuz it was my assinine behavior that ended up with me facing life in prison. I can be angry with the Official, who doesn't give a damn that I've got a gland in my head that's turned me into an addict, who, when he doesn't get his "fix" of counteragent, becomes an evil, sadistic, soulless bastard. I can be angry at my Keeper, who hasn't been able to figure out a way to get the damn gland out of my head that doesn't involve killing me.

But, no, it's Kevin I'm mad at. Hell, I'm furious with the son of a bitch! I wish he was here, so that I could tell him to his face. When he took his memories from me, that was the most cruel, heartless, unfeeling thing he could have done. He should've just put a bullet through our shared brain, but he didn't have the guts. Instead, he writes me some stupid-ass note, letting me know that Kevin always knows best.

Somehow, I find myself kneeling in front of his grave, my fists pounding the unforgiving granite of the headstone. You goddamn stupid shit! You think you're so smart. For once in your life, you were as wrong as it's humanly possible to be. You fucked this up so goddamn bad, and you can never make it right. Never!

You asshole! I didn't change because you put a fucking gland in my head! I changed because I lost my family, my only brother, and it hurts so bad, and oh, god, you were so wrong. And, I'm so pissed, but you're not even here for me to tell you so, and it's not fair. And I can't be mad at you 'cuz you're dead, and I miss you, and I really loved you, but you were WRONG!

I don't even realize that I've been yelling out loud. I'm not realizing much of anything right now beyond a soul deep agony that sears through every part of my body. My numb legs give out, and I fall on my face, my fisted hands, now bloody, thrust out in time to break my fall. Heedless, I continue to pound, this time at the very earth. I can no longer see through the tears that flood my eyes. I'm choking on the pain, as sob after sob is wrenched from my raw throat. If I could just sink through the earth and join Kevin in his grave, I would.

Eventually I run out of tears, and lay unmoving, a part of the lifelessness that surrounds me. When I finally regain awareness of my surroundings, I notice the familiar form of my partner, Bobby Hobbes, crouched at my side. Dispassionately, I note the tears which line his face. Ignoring them, he hands me his handkerchief. I make a half-hearted effort to mop up the evidence of my breakdown, and clean up the mess I've made of my hands. When I finish, he offers me his hand, which I need to pull myself off the ground.

Thank god, he reads all my nonverbal "No Trespassing" signs, and doesn't try to get me to talk, or to tell me how he was worried about me, today being what it is and all, and thought he'd better check up on me. Why say what we both know? Scuffing his shoes back and forth a few times as I stare off at something he cannot see, he finally says, "Hey, Fawkes, how about I take you home?"

Home. That sounds like a good idea. Especially as there's nothing for me here. I simply reply, "Okay." As we make our way towards the exit, I take one last look over my shoulder, at the past.

I step out into my future.

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~end~