Welcome to the Invisible Man Altiverse

Author: A. X. Zanier
Title: Aftermath: Twist of Fate (Original post of Aftermath Version 2.0 on 12/11/2000 @ Yahoogroups/IMFanfic)
Rating: R (Language, adult situations)
Disclaimer: I do not own the characters or basic story ideas to "The Invisible Man." Any additional characters or ideas are mine.
Timeline: Follows the fics "In the Beginning" and "Deceptions"
Category: Drama/Romance (and a wee bit of angst)
Spoiler: I blatantly steal from any and every ep I think will be of use.
Comment: This is a major revision of one of my older fics that takes into account Season 2 of the show.

Thanks, once again, to Rebecca(WorkerCaste) for being one hell of a Beta/Editor for me.

Aftermath: Twist of Fate

// "Every person has free choice. Free to obey or disobey the Natural Laws. Your choice determines the consequences. Nobody ever did, or ever will, escape the consequences of his choices." --- Alfred A. Montapert

The problem is, when dealing with mankind, especially in the form of scientists or the government, those 'laws' have this awful tendency to get broken. And the consequences are often left to be dealt with by the poor schmucks those laws were broken on. Trust me, I know. //

White. All-pervasive white. The walls, the floor, the bed-like thing in the center of the room -- hell, even the stitching was done in institutional white. They had even encased the resident of the room in white. A set of white scrubs and nifty jacket with wrap around arms. The jacket did have an interesting set of accessories in the form of leather straps and metal buckles. There was only one spot of color in the entire room.

Her hair.

"Crap, Alyx, if I had known they were going to do this, I wouldn't have left you alone," Darien muttered to himself. He stared through the glass that looked into the padded room, gazing at the rather helpless and fragile form that was Alyx. When he'd left the previous evening, Alyx had been lying on a gurney down in the Keep, while Claire checked her over and removed the IV drip that had kept her unconscious during the plane flight home from Cabo San Lucas.

Claire had ordered him to go home and get a few hours sleep, which, admittedly, he had needed. He had been bruised and battered from their adventure and the subsequent destruction of Arnaud's little hideaway in the mountains of Cabo. The physical injuries would heal with very little worry. It was the emotional ones that might take a bit longer. Alyx had... had... And with, of all people... He still had trouble wrapping him mind around it.

"It wasn't you, Alyx. You'd never to that to me."

He hoped that if he kept telling himself that, kept reminding himself that Heilburg had screwed up her head -- had implanted not just one, but several personalities into her mind -- and that the Swiss Miss son of a bitch had then manipulated her even beyond that, that he would be able to forgive her. To know that the ache in his heart was a temporary condition and that she really cared about him. That when she woke up and he looked into her eyes, he'd see her and not the stranger he'd been dealing with for the last few weeks.

He closed his eyes for a moment and leaned against the glass before him. The image of her curled up in the far corner of the room, her hair, pulled back into a braid, the only real splash of color against the monotone uniformity of the rest of the room, was burned into his mind. Closing his eyes didn't truly cut off the view.

Opening his eyes, he couldn't help but see that she was twitching and shivering in her drug-induced slumber, just like always. They'd learned a long time ago that she not only adapted to some drugs quickly, but that she also fought them even as they acted upon her. Even going into this willingly, her body still made its own choices and went its own way. He could only hope she'd wake up soon. Hope she'd wake up herself and not a stranger.

The door to the padded room opened and he watched as Claire and a man Darien had never seen before walked in. The sound was currently turned off, so Darien didn't hear any of their short conversation before Claire left the room, to appear seconds later in the viewing room with him.

"Darien, you shouldn't be here." Claire moved beside him and flipped on both the sound and the mic.

Turning slightly to face her, he couldn't help but notice how tired she looked. "I have to be."

"This isn't going to be pleasant to watch." She was hoping to persuade him to leave, but knew it was a faint hope at best. He hadn't left when Bobby had ended up in a similar situation, and he wasn't likely to abandon Alyx to her fate. Whatever it may yet turn out to be.

"I figured that. Who's he?" Darien motioned with his chin at the stranger, who was sitting on the bed and looking at Alyx with an intensity that was startling.

"Someone who I hope can help," Claire answered, with only about half her attention on Darien. The two in the room before her were her primary focus.

Alyx had begun to stir in such a way that suggested she was finally coming around, and the man pulled up his legs to sit cross-legged, his attention solely on the small woman before him. With one of her more colorful curses -- in Italian -- Alyx adroitly shifted and sat up. She hated the feeling after being drugged to sleep. Like the world was surrounded by big fluffy cotton balls. It always took way too long to refocus.

"Easy, little one," a soft voice said from nearby, causing her to go completely still in shock. A voice that she hadn't heard in a seeming eternity. A voice that brought memories of pain and heartache surging to the surface. Memories of events she had yet to forgive herself for.

Her eyes snapped open and for a long moment she stared at the... figure before her. She knew it had to be a hallucination, created by either her drug-fogged mind or by the myriad personalities and emotional distortions roiling through her. Maybe even a bit of both. She closed her eyes and shook her head, trying to keep herself stable, to keep herself focused on one persona, on one 'her.' When she reopened her eyes after gaining a momentary stability, he still sat before her. "I think I'm seriously insane."

He laughed softly. "No. Not yet."

Reaching out with her mind, she encountered the reality. He was here, now. His laughter, his presence, both physical and mental, real.

*Do you believe now? Do these senses tell you a truth you will believe?* His voice rolled through her mind, but instead of calming her as it once had, instead of comforting, easing the pain and discomfort she had been forced to endure, it only angered her. Where had he been when she really needed him? Where had he been for the last year? Where had he been when she destroyed everything, when they had forced her hand, when they blackmailed her to work for them?

"You left me," she snarled, her face becoming a hate-filled mask. "You abandoned me to those bastards."

"Alyx," he tried, but she cut him off with a bark of harsh laughter.

"Don't you mean QSX053? That's all I was -- a number, a project. 'Get something useful out of the money we spent on her.'" Her voice rose as she spoke until she was shouting. "Or have you forgotten?"

"I'll never forget," he stated quietly, sadly. "At the time, it was all I could do. I had hoped that without me they would not try the experiments." He spread his hands as a gesture of remorse. "I was wrong."

"Wrong. You were wrong." With very little effort, she got to her feet. "You left, and I destroyed the place. I killed dozens of people because of what they did, and because I had no one to help me." She stalked towards him, no longer looking helpless and fragile. "And now... Now I get the joy of losing myself to the wonderful variety of personalities that Heilburg was thoughtful enough to bestow upon me. Make me more useful to the Agency if they can control who I am. Can pick and choose which 'me' would be most useful on a particular mission." She stood before him, glaring down with rage in her eyes. "Just leave."

"You know it's only going to get worse, don't you? The stabilizing drug has nearly worn off and you still have to go through withdrawal from the neurotransmitter enhancer." He got to his feet, forcing her to back away a half step and looked down at her. "Let me help you."

"And how exactly would you do that? Run away just when I need you most? I don't need that kind of help." The sound of a straitjacket tearing itself apart was startlingly loud in the silence of the room, and she shrugged the pieces to the floor without thinking. "Do you need me to open the door for you, or should I just throw you through it?" Her eyes flared for an instant with a blue-white light that warned him her temper was gone, her anger at such a peak she could and would do serious harm, perhaps even kill, with very little effort or thought, and no remorse.

He backed away from her, edging around the bed towards the door, which was opened from the outside. But he held her gaze the entire time, kept himself calm and showed no fear of her. "I'll be nearby if you need me," he said, just before the door shut to cut off her view of him.

As soon as the door had shut, Alyx flung her hands up, let out a screech of pure rage, and let fly with several small surges of power, frying both the audio and video systems for the room. Then she retreated to the one corner of the room that could not be easily seen by those on the far side of the glass.

He walked slowly into the viewing room, rubbing his forehead and looking distressed. "I wasn't quite sure what to expect, even after your description, but it wasn't that." He leaned against the wall and looked out into the padded room, noting the remains of the straightjacket lying on the floor. She had shredded it into at least half a dozen pieces.

"I tried to warn you. Heilburg completely scrambled her psyche," Claire said with a tired sigh. "When she woke up earlier...." She paused and shook her head. "I had to tranq her. She took out three agents while trying to escape."

"You have no idea. You only see the exterior effects. She is so very lost inside herself. I'm surprised she's able to maintain control over her other abilities." He pushed away from the wall and began to pace the length of the small room.

"Well, she is the most stubborn person I have ever met," Darien commented as he watched this stranger worry over Alyx the same way he was.

The stranger chuckled and paused in his attempts to wear a pathway into the floor, looking over at Darien. "You have no idea."

Darien looked over the man before him, trying to garner some sense of who he was and what exactly he was doing here. He had dark hair that was nearly black, cut short and neat. He stood a few inches shorter than Darien himself, about six foot, and was built a bit heavier. In good shape though, that much was obvious simply by the way he moved. He was in his early to mid thirties at a guess. It was his eyes, though, that were his most startling feature. One was a hazel, with brilliant gold and green striations running through it; the other was half blue, that bright blue of a southern California day, and the other half a brilliant green, the color of new leaves. In many ways, they were as surprising as Alyx's silver eyes. In fact, the guy himself kind of reminded Darien of Alyx, though he wasn't quite sure why.

"And who exactly are you?" Darien asked him as he pushed himself away from the window and moved to stand directly before him.

"Now may not be the best time for this," Claire interjected, moving to stand between the two men. The last thing she needed was for these two to get in to a territorial battle over Alyx.

"No. It's all right, Claire," he said as he broke his gaze from Darien's to look at her. Then he met Darien's eyes again. "I'm Michael. I was her Keeper." He paused to let that statement sink in. "You must be Darien. For all her confusion, you are still very prominent in her mind. You and a snake, for some reason." He shook his head with a small smile. "She was always a little weird."

Darien unconsciously rubbed the monitor tattoo on his wrist, a slightly stunned look on his face. "You're like her? A telepath?"

"You catch on quick. You were right about that, Claire." His focus turned inward for a moment as he checked on Alyx, who was still fuming in the next room. "Can we risk drugging her with the stabilizer again? She needs to be coherent for a while, before she goes into withdrawal, and we are quickly running out of time." He wasn't ignoring Darien's question, just putting off answering for a moment.

"She's that far already?" Claire asked in concern. They had hoped she'd been able to hold it together on her own for a time.

"I'm afraid so." He nodded and moved back to the window.

"Then we have no choice," Claire said with a sigh. "Damn it, I could kill this Heilburg myself for doing this to her."

"It's not your fault, Claire. Even I didn't know he'd done more than just set up the Pattern programming." He moved to the door. "I'll get the equipment and be back in a few minutes."

Once he was gone, Darien stepped in front of Claire so that she was forced to look at him. "Why do I have the feeling he's more than just her Keeper?"

"Because you have a suspicious mind?" she replied, in a vain attempt to deflect his attention away from Michael. She realized quickly he wasn't going to be put off and decided this time the truth might be the way to go. "Because you'd be right. He is more than just her Keeper."

Darien sighed and ran a hand through his hair. As usual, there was one hell of a shoe about to drop, right on top of his head. Living under the Sword of Damocles was never easy. "Just don't tell me he's her husband, or something equally as awkward."

Claire burst out laughing at the dread in his voice. "Oh no. Definitely not her husband."

Darien was getting quite frustrated with the runaround he was getting, even though by now he should have come to expect it even for the simplest of questions. "Claire, what is going on?"

"Darien, Michael is her brother."

Darien shook his head, convinced that his hearing must be going or something, because he could not believe what he had just heard. "Okay, I must have heard that wrong. I thought you said he was her brother."

"I did." Claire was amused by Darien's reaction and did her best to keep a straight face. She could imagine how he was feeling at the moment. Her initial reaction to the revelation had been similar. You'd figure by now they'd be used to the sometimes convoluted associations that seemed to occur at the Agency.

"But she's told me a bit about her Keeper. She never even knew his name." In fact, until recently Alyx had not even known that he'd been her Keeper. She had called him her teacher, since he'd been the one who taught her how to gain control over her abilities, and how to shield, to create that wall in her mind that kept out most of the voices and emotions of others.

"Quite true. At the time, he was the only person capable of helping her. So they altered her memory a bit," Claire explained with a touch of discomfort in her voice.

"That doesn't make any sense; I know she remembers her brothers. She's told me a bit about them." Darien went back to the window, but Alyx was still out of sight.

"Darien, what is the best way to tell an elaborate lie?" Claire asked, seemingly out of the blue.

"Use just enough of the truth.... Damn, they made her forget him so he could help her. Fogged her memory just enough that she wouldn't recognize him," Darien said, the reality of the situation sinking in. "They've abused her from the start."

"Yes. They have," Michael said as he entered the room. He was carrying a tray with several items on it, including a syringe.

"I'm sorry Michael, but Darien is as stubborn as she is. I hope this won't be a problem," Claire apologized as she took the tray and set it down on the ledge and looked over the items.

"It shouldn't. I could walk in that room and tell her who I am, and she wouldn't believe me." He leaned against the wall near Claire and tried to see Alyx. From his position, he could just glimpse her sock-clad toes as she remained sitting in the corner of the room. "You might as well tell him everything. I have a feeling things will go faster if he understands."

"You're sure?" At his nod, Claire turned back to Darien. "You may remember that only five of the original QSX group survived to adulthood."

Darien nodded. "One guy and the rest...." He looked at Michael. "You."

"Me. I was part of the QSX project as well. I'm Alyx's twin brother," Michael told him, knowing that Darien's reaction to this news would set the tone for their association.

"Oh, crap," was Darien's enlightened comment.

Michael turned to Claire. "He says that a lot, I'm guessing." But he was relieved that his reaction was so simply summed up by the words. It told Michael a lot about who Darien was.

"Quite," Claire agreed with a grin.

"Darien, it's not a big deal. Yes, I was part of the original project, and yes, I developed a few gifts as well. Luckily I was already working for the government when they decided to go ahead with Phase II -- made me unavailable for the project." Michael felt the man's confusion ease. "My gift is no more than an extension of what she and I shared as kids."

"What exactly can you do?" Darien asked him, truly curious. He'd thought Alyx was one-of-a-kind. To learn not only that she had a twin brother -- which explained why Michael's looks had been bothering him -- but that he was gifted as well, once again dumped his world view on its proverbial ass.

"I'm a telepath and, to a small degree, an empath," Michael answered truthfully. The fact that Darien was accepting this new information with little or no surprise would make things much easier. "You do realize Alyx is not?"

"We know," Claire answered for both of them. "What did you mean about when you were kids?"

"You know the old saw that twins share a unique connection and can be telepathic with each other?" They both nodded. "Well, I don't know about others, but she and I were. It changed as we got older, but we always knew how the other felt. The year we turned thirteen was horrible -- both of our abilities kicked in. I got voices beyond hers, and she got the migraines from hell and spent that entire summer destroying every piece of electronics in the house." He closed his eyes. "I hope I can help her now."

"And we need to do something soon. She'll be in withdrawal within a few hours at most," Claire commented needlessly. This was something all three of them knew.

"Sooner -- she's nearly there now, and she has decisions to make." Michael turned away from the all-white room and faced Darien. Michael suspected Darien was not going to like this much at all.

"Decisions?" Darien asked.

"How she wants to proceed. We have a few options. We could use Heilburg's Level 1 process, which does work, and give her a stable personality. We could let her fight her way through and develop her own. Or..." Michael left them hanging intentionally.

"Or what?" Claire asked taking the bait.

"Or she could leave the Agency and finish her life," Michael answered.

Alyx pulled her legs in closer to her body and hugged them tightly. She'd been trying, really trying to keep hold of herself, trying to ground and center, but it wasn't her shielding that was the problem. Ground and center did nothing for the swirling confusion her mind had become. That control was just fine. 'Who' was in control was the problem. She could feel at least six more or less artificial personas vying for control within her, and along with those was the amalgam persona that had come about under Arnaud's persuasive tutelage. Then there was the one from before coming to the Agency, the one who had become so good at hiding, so distrusting of everyone and everything, the one who had learned to take a beating, which may or may not have included another round of rape, and still see to it the kids made it to school in the morning with a smile upon her face. And finally there was the woman she'd become since joining the Agency, since learning she could trust again, could be herself again, could be happy and free again even as she became a stranger to herself. Who had betrayed her friends and co-workers, who had betrayed Darien with his most hated enemy.

Getting to her feet with a stifled whimper, she began to pace the room. Tried to ignore the competing identities that tugged her indifferent directions -- some wanting to hide, to defend, others to run, to force her way out of this room, out of this life. Catching her reflection in the mirror, she paused and stared at it. So very deceiving, so innocent and sweet-looking, yet capable of such destruction, such easy deception. One persona surged to the fore. Deceiving. She'd fooled everyone. Gotten the Official to willingly give up all the information Heilburg wanted for Arnaud. Convinced Arnaud that her plan was the better one, to lure and use Darien instead of killing him for the gland. To buy the time she needed to find the solution -- which she had failed at, since not even Arnaud had the necessary information to remove the gland even though she had convinced him he did. Used persuasion and Darien's feelings for her to get him to not only come to work for Arnaud but to find the computer center, buried in the mountain stronghold.

Then had her mind begin to fall apart, to shatter into the myriad people Heilburg had tried to make of her.

Anger flared again, her emotions twisting and shifting along with her personality. "Why? Damn it, why do this to me?" Fighting herself, part of her knowing she dared not leave this room, while the rest demanded she try to escape, she settled for simply shredding the padding of the walls with her mind. Long tears from ceiling to floor that sounded so very loud in the room, stuffing oozing out of the rents to fall to the cushioned floor. Glaring at those she knew to be on the far side of the mirror, she shouted, "Do something, damn it, before I do!"

Stalking away she moved back to the corner and forced herself to sit, to stay in control.

"Damn." Darien muttered as the three of them looked at the mess she'd made.

"And that was just the minimal amount of release she'd allow herself," Michael commented as his eyes opened. "She's got some control for the moment, but it won't last for much longer. We're swiftly running out of time."

Darien found himself unable to tear his eyes away from the sight before him. "What did you mean by 'finish her life'?"

"Exactly what I said." Michael turned to observe Darien in profile, as well as Claire who stood just beyond him. "You both know she wasn't a volunteer for this. She has four children who miss her and need her. Yes, the Agency has promised to keep them safe, but..." Michael stopped. He had no idea how much either of them knew about her life before coming here, how much she had found the courage to talk about, how much she had allowed herself to forget. "I agreed to help only if she was given the option to go home."

"Home? This is her home." Darien turned to face Michael, this stranger who claimed to know Alyx better than he did, and suddenly realized, heart sinking to his shoes, that he might very well be right. She had stayed up until now to see that her kids were protected, because she believed she would be unable to protect herself and them from those that would surely come after her. Alyx wanted no part of more agencies knowing her children might very well grow up to be even more powerful than she. "But her family thinks she's dead," he finally said in a tone of resignation.

"Remember Gloria?" Claire placed a hand on his shoulder. "It can be dealt with."

Darien nodded slowly. "All right, how?"

"We use Heilburg's Level I technique and we rebuild her. Recreate the person she was before she came here. Make her forget about all of this," Michael answered. "We'll concoct some viable story, but in the end she goes home. She'll wake up and pick up her life, just two years later." He turned to look back into the room where Alyx was once again pacing back and forth, her feet kicking up the stuffing and fluff from the walls as she moved.

"What about her powers? Going quicksilver in front of the in-laws would be bad," Darien asked, sounding surprisingly calm.

Claire moved around to face Darien. "Drugs. Inhibitors to keep them from working. We already have them. We just tell her they're for something else."

"It's a moot point right now. Someone has to ask her first," Michael said, looking right into Darien's eyes.

"I'll do it," Darien said in a quiet voice.

"What?" Claire asked in astonishment. She had assumed he would be the person most likely to hate this idea.

"I'll do it," he repeated. He was still facing Michael, meeting his eyes and somehow knowing he'd understand.

"You have the most to possibly lose in this," Michael said to him. Giving him an out.

"Not really. She does." Darien looked out the glass to watch Alyx pace stiffly back and forth in the room, one hand pressed to her forehead. "Most of the time she's been here, she's searched for a way to get me out of this place. To gain me the freedom to make my own choices about the Agency, about the gland. Can I do any less for her?"