Summary: Darien's friends rally around to help him when he suffers a loss.
Disclaimer: No copyright infringement is intended.
A bleary-eyed Darien Fawkes sat disconsolately in the dingy, smoke-filled bar studiously examining the droplets of condensation sliding down the beer bottle on the counter top in front of him. It was his sixth drink of the night yet the pleasant numbing sensation he was seeking continued to prove elusive.
"Want some company?" a quiet voice behind him enquired.
"Hey Claire," Darien responded wearily without turning around. "What're you doing here?"
"I was worried about you," came Claire's concerned reply as she placed a comforting hand on his shoulder. "How are you holding up?"
"I'm fine - no big deal," Darien assured her with an unconvincing shrug of his shoulders. "It's like the man said, 'Nobody gets out alive'."
"Yes, and we all know that, but it doesn't stop us grieving when we suffer a loss," the Keeper pointed out reasonably. "You cared about him and that in itself makes it a big deal."
"Yeah, I guess," Darien admitted grudgingly. "It's just…I dunno…I feel a little stupid 'cause I never really realised how much I loved the little guy until he was gone. He kinda snuck under my radar, ya know?" The hint of a smile touched Darien's lips as he admitted, "He could be a real pain in the ass sometimes and, oh man could he be aggressive and annoying when the mood took him, but he was always there in the background, making me feel a little less lonely."
"I know sweetheart," Claire agreed, extending her arms around him to offer a consoling hug. "You know, you were responsible for making sure he had a good life outside the Agency. An immeasurably better life than he could have expected before you arrived and I have to admit, he lived longer than I ever would've believed possible, especially given the circumstances."
Darien nodded in reluctant agreement, leaning towards her as he accepted the welcome support she was offering.
"Aw, c'mon guys, have you started the Wake without me?" Bobby Hobbes complained as he made his way through the late evening crowd. "I've been busy making all the funeral arrangements and here you are enjoying a drink and reminiscing about the dearly departed before I get here!"
"Funeral arrangements?" Darien asked, his confusion and slightly slurred speech evidence of the night's excesses finally beginning to catch up with him.
"Sure," Bobby replied with forced joviality, surreptitiously eyeing his partner with concern. "Yours truly has used his legendary charm and ingenuity to arrange the best damned funeral you're ever gonna see!" He paused, enjoying the bewildered glances of his friends. "The Official's donated a beautiful little spot in his rose garden for the interment - south facing with a delightful aspect," he added, sounding for all the world like a man selling burial plots. "Eberts has offered the perfect high class casket courtesy of the box from his brand new Gucci loafers and there's a lovely soft lining provided by a designer silk scarf from the wardrobe of Miss Alex Monroe."
"Oh man," Darien muttered emotionally. "I don't know what to say!"
"Nothing to say partner," Bobby assured him, gripping his arm tightly for a few seconds before breaking the intensity of the moment by smiling broadly and beckoning to the bartender. "It's kinda strange having the Wake before the funeral, but I guess I can go with it," he observed as a young man approached them for their order. "Hey there pal can we get three cold ones over here? We gotta give a good send off to an old friend."
Fresh drinks were quickly placed before them and Darien rose unsteadily to his feet, raising his beer in a toast. "Here's to one of the best roommates I ever had," he declared as Bobby and Claire followed his lead. "Goodbye buddy, from one lab rat to another. I'm gonna miss you!"