Her eyes are closed while she takes a long breath. He can see a pout on her mouth and a hand massaging her neck.

Darien is leaning against the doorpost with his arms crossed over his chest and she jumps when she turns around to find him there.

"God, Darien, you almost gave me a heart attack!" she protests; her eyes are hard and her face is tired and he knows she'll feel guilty about it in less then two seconds.

"I knocked," he replies, calmly, looking around the room, "I need a shot".

Claire's mouth press into a thin line of red lipstick before her face softens.

"Sorry. I guess my mind was somewhere else," she says, gesturing him to come in since he's still standing in the doorway.

"And the rest of you should follow your mind, before you lose it," he means only to let her know she needs to take care of herself.

He sits on the couch and she stands in front of him.

Claire catches a glimpse of care in his eyes, which were usually too busy looking annoyed, so against every prevision she had made for that night, a little smile comes out to play after hours and hours of tiredness and grumpiness.

"I'm almost finished," she tries to reassure him, while rolling the sleeve of his sweater on his forearm.

"I could be wrong here but I'm pretty sure you said that yesterday too," he reminds her. His eyes making a hole through her, demanding her attention and a little grin plays on his mouth.

The word charming slips through Claire's mind so fast that her brain can't really process it.

"I know but this is important, Darien," her tone sounds reasonable and serious, as usual. His keeper is always too busy doing the right thing to do anything at all; aside from lecturing him, running tests and depriving him of blood on regular basis (and saving him from quicksilver induced madness…).

She's working on a vaccine to make the gland immune to common illness that could make him lose control of it. Again. And it's not like he's not eager himself to check this one out but she looks like she's about to throw her head into the wall and he thinks this would not help him that much. He doesn't want to come in one morning and find Fatty ready to play doctor with him.

"I'm not saying you have to stop devoting yourself to the greater good and other boring things but, every now and then, you could at least… I don't know," he said pretending he was thinking about it, "Go home and sleep?"

"Home. What a nice word," she sighs, shaking her head. "Is the sky still blue? Because I seem to recall it was," she jokes. "But I can't check it out for myself, and I can't go home until this isn't over," she sighs again, probably daydreaming of clean sheets and hot tubs. "I can't leave the sample unguarded, it could be very dangerous."

"The Agency's power means can't help with that, I guess."

It wasn't like he really needed to ask. He's still waiting for them to fix the soap dish in the man's room.

She smiles again and lowers her eyes on his arm. The snake has only two green segments, and she cleans his skin before injecting the counteragent serum.

"This is my job, you know," she says turning around to put the syringe away.

His face is mocking because he can't understand how the hell she could choose to actually come into that place every damn morning. He did it only because he had no other choice.

Darien stands up while she turns again "All done, you'll be-"

Her words come to an abrupt stop when she stumbles over her own feet and her legs give out under her.

Claire is ready to the heavy impact of her face on the pavement, and she almost comfort herself thinking that it's a way like another to lay down and rest, finally. The impact comes but it's not her face, it's her waist.

She releases the breath she had been holding and opens her shut eyes. Blinking, she watches Darien's hands holding her waist and when she raises her eyes he's checking her out like he's looking for a sign to be sure he can let go of her without her falling again.

His skull has a nice structure, she thinks. His jaw is very hard, she notice. He's incredibly near and she can see freckles.

It's not like it's an important detail but, she finds herself not being able to look away from those freckles, right at the base of his nose.

"I hope your assurance is really great because if you keep it up…"

Claire snaps out of that hypnotic state induced by semi-invisible freckles on the nose of the usually invisible man when his voice reaches her ears. She tries to still her breath, and to give him her most casual thanks.

She's usually more observant than that, but she's too embarrassed by her weakness to notice that he lost his voice at some point.

Darien tries to process this thing: his own thoughts stumbling all over his brain cells when his eyes fell on Claire's lips, and he can't. Yes, she's the only thing worth being watched in that damn place. Yes, she's actually very attractive, and intelligent, and soft to touch, but there's no need for unwanted epiphanies. Is there?

Life is complicated enough already. There is no need to make dangerous moves like leaning closer to feel lips and caress tongue and-

They break apart, suddenly too self-conscious, not at all aware of the other's thoughts.

"I should get back to work," she says in a rush, licking her dry lips.

Oh crap. It's a bit hard to concentrate right now. But in Darien's mind there's a vague recognition that Bobby would not like this (and that he would, way too much).

"And I have to save the world and buy a new jacket. Not necessarily in this order," he says managing a smile, and pushing his hands inside the pockets of his jeans.

"Of course, of course," she nods looking busy reading the tags on the blood samples placed on her table.

"See you, Keep," he says.

"Yes," she nods. "Bye Darien," she adds, barely looking at him before turning her back on him.

She only turns when she hears the door closing and she lets out a breath raising her eyes to thank heavens for saving her from doing something she could end up not regretting so much at all.

"This is," crazy, really, but, "amazing." she says looking up to the invisible ceiling of her grey, fluorescent lab and watching twinkling stars looking down at her. She can't suppress a little laughter of delight, and Claire has to cover her mouth with both hands while her nose is up to the sky.

She turns and reaches for the door but her hand stops on the knob, because she can't really run after him to thank him. Because she can't really run after him, period, and she's not supposed to indulge in his kindness or little nothings. Darien Fawkes is her job. Coincidently her job happens to have beautiful eyes and really nice shoulders and a boyish charm and to give her night skies on her long hours with glass tubes and solitude; but he is her job, anyway.

She lies down on the couch, taking a long breath while she catches falling stars tracing a shiny pattern in the dark sky.

"Thanks Darien," she murmurs.

Darien is tempted to answer you're welcome but he stays silent, sitting on the chair. Legs outstretched, feet crossed. His eyes move from Claire to the sky and back again, until he decides she can shine a lot more than anything else he ever seen.

Mark Twain once said 'The thing long expected takes the form of the unexpected when at last it comes.' And he totally agrees.