Note: I wrote this a long time ago. I think my writing has developed somewhat since then. I always thought I-Man was a show that begged for discipline fanfic. However, I never found any when the show was on the air. I think it might have been the height disparity...
*Set during Season 1 for episode "Tiresias," in which a psychic convinces his victims to kill themselves.
The case with Scarborough had hit Darien hard. Whether or not he was a real psychic, no one could deny that Scarborough had special powers, even if those powers were just an act of persuasion. One thing Scarborough had said was true. There was an evil inside Darien. That evil, whether it be the gland or something far greater, made him capable of killing his friend and partner. Even though Bobby Hobbes escaped without a scratch on him, it became entirely clear to Darien that his actions were not a result of Scarborough's persuasions. It was a part of him that had been waiting to explode.
For the most part, Hobbes wasn't concerned. Even with Darien's hands closing in around his neck, he knew his friend would never hurt him. While it was technically Claire who saved the day with the counteragent, the fact that Bobby Hobbes survived was just another boost to his already inflamed ego.
No psychic was going to tell Bobby Hobbes how he dies.
Hobbes was able to shrug off the entire situation. His best friend tried to kill him – so what? He got over it, the bad guy was captured, and a new day begins. He was not about to let some psychic come between him and his country. But he was willing to accept that his partner needed to disappear for a few days – maybe to try and catch a couple nights' sleep to recover from the exhaustion that was inflicted by his recent nightmares. Or premonitions, as Darien would insist.
But after being summoned to the Official's office for their new case, Hobbes was a little bewildered that Darien was still absent.
"I really don't see the need to go on," the Official stated bluntly as he abandoned his introduction of the case and closed the file.
"You go on there, big guy," Hobbes responded. He leant over the desk and reopened the Official's file, pointing firmly and repeatedly at the text. "I don't need Fawkes on any case. I've solved plenty of cases on my own before he came along."
"Yes, well, the Agency didn't invest 17 million dollars on you. The Agency invested 17 million dollars on an invisible man. I think we should get our money's worth, don't you agree, Agent Hobbes?"
"Yeah, well, that's not gonna happen." Hobbes inhaled sharply, then settled back into his chair.
"And why is that, Agent Hobbes?"
Bobby shrugged and rolled his eyes. "He's still a little spooked about trying to kill me. That's all."
"I know he's made threats in jest but… are you telling me that Agent Fawkes actually tried to kill you?"
Hobbes looked up at the Official with guarded eyes. "...yeah."
The Official looked from Hobbes to Eberts, as if he couldn't believe what he was hearing. "That's a serious offense. Why wasn't I aware?"
"It's all in the report, sir. Don't you guys read what we hand in?"
And as a reflex, one that Hobbes should have seen coming, the Official shouted for: "Eberts!"
Eberts quickly stepped in and took Hobbes by the elbow.
"We're sorry you came in today while your partner is still out of action. While we're not in immediate need of your services, we thank you for your time. At the moment, the Official is very busy but he'll be in contact." All that was spoken in one breath as Eberts quickly escorted Hobbes out the door.
For a moment, Agent Hobbes stared at the locked door and let escape an exhausted breath. He eventually dragged himself down the hall, not at all happy about missing out on a case. And, of course, missing the company of a certain, lanky invisible man.
"I need a pick me up, Keep," Hobbes announced as he entered the medical lab. "Tell me you've been dreaming about me?"
Claire pulled off her rubber gloves and tossed them into the trash.
"Actually," she smiled. "I have."
Hobbes' eyes perked up. "You have?"
"Lovely dreams. You're so generous and thoughtful. You do everything I ask."
Hobbes' lips curled into a mischievous smile. "For example….?"
"Fetch, sit, play dead."
Hobbes' face crinkled back into a frown.
"Well, you are a stray dog in my dreams." It was now Claire's turn to smile. "What can I do for you, Agent Hobbes? You're not usually down here unless you're checking in with Darien."
"I was kinda hoping…"
"I have not seen him in a few days. And since he'd not due for another shot for awhile, I don't expect to."
"That last counteragent you gave him worked, right? I mean, it wasn't faulty or nothing, was it?"
"No." Her response was a little higher pitched than usual, an obvious sign that she took offense. "It's science, Bobby. I don't mix unlabeled substances together, jab Darien aimlessly and hope for the best."
"Then what's with all the lab rats?" he asked, glancing around the medical lab for emphasis.
Claire sighed. "Good day, Agent Hobbes."
"Come on, Keeper. Don't be like that. Just give Darien a call and tell him to come down for his shot."
"No. He isn't due. If you want to see him so bad, just go to his apartment."
"Just call him." Hobbes held his cell phone out to her. If it was just as easy as calling Darien, he would have done it himself days ago. But Darien couldn't even look him in the eyes after he tried to kill him. However, there was a chance he might answer at the sound of Claire's voice. So with a sigh, Claire took the cell phone and immediately dialed.
"Hello, Darien," she hummed into the phone. "This is The Keeper. No, no. I know. You don't need a shot just yet. Um… We've noticed that you haven't been in for about a week and we were wondering how you're feeling."
Claire made eye contact with Hobbes briefly before she shouted. "That's wonderful, Darien! Good news indeed. But we were wondering when you'll be in… Yeah, he's still here."
"What?" Hobbes stepped in closer. "What's he saying about me?" He tried to listen in on the earpiece, but Claire shoved him aside. She covered the mouthpiece and whispered,
"He says he doesn't want to work with you… Ever again."
Hobbes narrowed his eyes, letting the wrinkles form along his eyebrows and mouth. *Ever again* didn't have to sound so malicious. And it was most likely added as a prod.
Hobbes snatched the phone away from Claire and shouted into the mouthpiece. "What do you mean you don't want to work with me? Fawkes? Don't hang up the phone, Fawkes! Don't-"
Hobbes closed his phone and let it drop back into his pocket. Now would be the perfect time to get under his skin. Just one quick little taunt. But surprisingly enough, Claire was considerate.
"I'm sorry, Bobby," she said. "It has nothing to do with you, I'm certain of that."
"I know." Agent Hobbes turned around and exited the medical lab in silence.
Darien sat on the couch. His elbows rested on the coffee table while his hands cradled his head. He was staring straight forward, willing his heavy eyelids not to fail. But a sudden knock at his door startled him. Nothing like a surprise to keep one awake. Darien peered through the peephole and rolled his eyes when he saw it was Hobbes. He leaned against the door and decided not to answer.
"I know you're in there!" Hobbes shouted. But Darien had already made up his mind. An annoying knock was just what he needed to keep him alert and far away from dreamland.
But then Hobbes began pounding. "Open the door, Fawkes!"
Christ, he's persistent.
As soon as Bobby heard the lock click, he pushed at the door. However, the chain lock only allowed him a small opening. He was going to have to sweet talk his way if he wanted inside.
"Come on, buddy, let me in." Hobbes' voice was lighthearted and bouncy.
Darien snorted. He was sleep deprived. Not stupid. "So, now you're pleasant?"
"You know me, Fawkes. I'm always pleasant."
"…right. You take your medication today, buddy?"
"Hahaha. Does this kid have a sense of humor or what? Now let me in. I brought a six pack."
"Hobbes," Darien sighed. "It's just not safe for you to be around me right now… Possibly ever."
"Safe for me?" Hobbes snorted. "Fawkes, if you don't open this door in three seconds, I'm kicking it in!"
"Come on, Hobbes."
"Kick it in? I don't believe this – the door itself is bigger than you."
With a groan, Darien placed his palm against the apartment door and closed his eyes. His body shivered as Quicksilver seeped from his pours and coated the door. The door instantly disappeared into thin air. When Darien opened his eyes, he stared directly at Hobbes.
"Can't knock down what you don't see," Darien shrugged. "You wanna talk, we can talk. But I'm not letting you in."
Hobbes grunted. He made his way to turn around, but then he flung himself forward and kicked down the door. The door ruptured from the wall, throwing pieces of wood and drywall all over. The frame splintered and the force of the blow shook the Quicksilver off the door and it reappeared in shambles.
"Shit, Bobby!" Darien exclaimed. "That was my fucking door!" Hobbes took a threatening step forward. The weight of his body crushed against the shattered wood. Darien involuntarily stepped back.
"What are you gonna do?" Hobbes prodded. "Avoid me forever? I'm right here."
"Hobbes…." Darien spoke slowly and cautiously. "What are you doing?"
Bobby smirked. Then he laughed in disbelief. "My goddamn partner just deserted me. I'm feeling a little neglected over here."
"Hobbes, it's not safe. I just can't be around you. I tried to kill you!"
Bobby snatched Darien's wrist in a tight grip and jerked him closer. For a short man, he sure had a lot of muscle behind him. "That wasn't you, Fawkes. That psycho was manipulating you!"
"I still tried to carry it out!" Darien tried to pull his wrist free from Bobby's grasp, but it was useless. He found himself gasping with frustration. "Bobby, fuck. Let go! You're twisting my wrist."
"Oh, really?" Bobby jerked him forward again. "Why don't you do something about it? Why don't you try to kill me now?"
Darien averted his eyes. Bobby did have a point. His urge to kill someone, anyone, was absent. But that didn't mean that the potential wasn't there. With an experimental gland in his head, anything was possible.
"Bobby, please," Darien begged. "I don't want to hurt you."
"No," Darien pleaded once more. "I mean it. I don't want to hurt you. I can't control myself."
Bobby pursed his lips. He was still annoyed. "So, you're doing this for me?"
"Exactly," Darien nodded. Now they were getting somewhere.
"You're avoiding your job and obligations for me?"
Darien nodded again. "Basically."
"Abandoning me at the agency? By myself?"
Now we're just getting redundant. "Yes, Bobby," Darien sighed in annoyance. He still continued to pull at his wrist, but Bobby wasn't letting go.
"Scarborough manipulated his victims into killing themselves," Hobbes reminded. A hint of worry was evident in his voice. "Is that what you've been contemplating up here all by yourself?"
Darien moaned miserably. He thought the answer was obvious. "Isolation and sleep deprivation have worked thus far, but…yeah, sure… I mean if it comes down to it. I don't have a lot of options here!"
"So, you took it upon yourself to make that decision? No discussing it with the Agency. Or your partner?"
Darien didn't have to think. It was the only way to keep Bobby safe. "Yes, Hobbes."
Bobby, with Darien's wrist still in his hand, moved toward the arm of the couch. He half sat on the couch with his thigh resting on the arm and his foot still on the floor. Bobby pulled Darien face down over his knee.
The first smack landed with an echo. Darien bucked on Bobby's lap and swore at his displeasure. Bobby, however, ignored his cries and continued to spank his vulnerable backside.
"Hobbes, what the fuck?" Darien cried out. He knew Bobby lifted weights, but he was still stunned at his strength. Whatever muscles worked to fuel the stinging pain in his backside, also worked to hold him firmly in place. Darien was so used to only referring to Bobby's size. Whatever Bobby lacked in height, he certainly made up for in stamina. Of course, Darien's body was exhausted from worry and lack of sleep. He wasn't actually prepared for a struggle.
"Fuck, let me go!" Darien shouted. A heavy hand slammed against his backside, causing him to jump further. However, Bobby's other stern hand kept him in place.
"I decided whether or not something is safe for me," Bobby stated, puncturing the sentence with another firm swat. "You do not worry about me. I am the experienced agent here, junior. I protect you."
Darien felt his eyes swell. As the heat built up in his backside, he found himself losing control. But it wasn't just the pain. Bobby was also scolding him. Granted, he and Bobby screamed at each other nearly everyday, but now Darien really felt like the punk Bobby had always referred to him as. There had been times when he teetered from being a reliable agent to a common thief, but Bobby had always caught him in time and set him straight. However, Bobby had always resorted to crazed stalking and obsessive nagging, not some child's punishment.
It had to be test.
Bobby was just testing him to see how he would react. See if his eyes turned red and his murderous rage returned. As another hard smack landed on his backside, Darien definitely felt like breaking Bobby's nose. But his desire to kill? Nowhere in sight.
"You let that psycho get to you," Bobby admonished. "He's not a psychic; he's a professional killer!"
Darien pressed his face tightly against the cushion of the couch and ran his hands through his hair, brushing away some of the sweat. The pain was almost bearable. He had been hurt worse on the job, but his ass still stung and Bobby's hand continued to rain down. It was just his luck to be stuck with a partner with obsessive behavior. Bobby was no doubt used to doing frantic things multiple times. That was why his hand kept falling with consistency. And it wouldn't be as simple as just delivering an even number of swats. It was probably some fucked up math problem he concocted in his head and he wouldn't stop until he saw it through.
"You're a good agent," Bobby went on. "You would never willingly hurt someone. And hopefully not yourself either. I can't believe you would even think that. But that wasn't you. That was Scarborough."
Darien's breath hitched. Bobby had too much faith in him. And he wasn't deserving. "It is me… what's inside… It's the gland."
A particularly loud smack nearly sent Darien flying.
"Ow!" Darien narrowed his eyes at Bobby over his shoulder. "Now that one was just uncalled for!"
"Shut up." Bobby smacked his behind again and Darien groaned. "Your gland is fine. Your brother made it and Keep is keeping an eye on it. I've seen you handle extraordinary things. I know you can handle the whole Quicksilver madness."
"But what if I can't?" Darien's body stiffened when Bobby didn't answer. For a moment, the spanking stopped. Silence was not what he wanted. But then he felt a comforting hand on his lower back; a light, soft pat.
"Nothing's gonna happen to me," Bobby reassured. "We're partners, alright? I trust you."
But that wasn't comforting. "I don't trust myself, Hobbes."
Bobby sighed. Then he lifted his hand and spanked him again.
"Fuck, Bobby!" Darien shouted. "Will you let me up already?"
"No. I don't feel like it."
"You have serious control issues!"
"Yeah. I'm working on that, but we're not talking about me right now. We're here to talk about Scarborough and I know that you know that everything he said was a lie. He's just a manipulative son of a bitch."
"I have a gland in my head that makes me want to hurt people!"
"Keep is working to fix that. And as long as you take your treatment like a good little invisible boy, there won't be any trouble."
Darien moaned into the couch cushion. "I can't be around you or the Keeper. I don't want to hurt anyone."
"Locking yourself away won't help. If you're going to hurt someone, then it might as well be me. Keep and I can handle it. Plus, we need you. Think of all the lives you've saved. I hate to admit it, but I can't do it without the help of my invisible friend. Since you're stuck with this gland anyway, you might as well do something useful with it." Bobby's lips twitched into a smile as he thought of the final argument. "And I do believe that was part of your prison release agreement, was it not?"
Darien felt himself cringe. Of course he didn't want to go back to prison, but it was never a good sign when Bobby Hobbes was right. If Darien gave in now, it would just be a huge stroke to Hobbes' ego.
"And I can stay here all day," Bobby added casually. "The Official graciously gave me some time off. Essentially, I'm back at work when you're back at work."
Darien groaned then hit the cushion with his fist. "Fine! But Keep's going to show you how to use a syringe."
"I am familiar with needles, my friend." Apparently, Fawkes forgot who he was talking to.
"You are going to carry the anecdote with you at all times!"
The Keeper was not going to like that. Bobby was sure of it, but he also knew that Claire had a soft heart. They could work something out without letting the Official know.
"Alright, Fawkes," Bobby agreed. "You and me. Back at work. Tomorrow morning."
"Bright and early, Hobbes," Darien nodded. "You can count on it."
Bobby removed his hand from Darien's back and carefully helped him to stand. Darien groaned pathetically at the pain. Then he caught sight of the broken door.
"I know," Bobby agreed as he followed his eyes. "I promise, I'll fix it. You just go get some sleep. There won't be anymore nightmares."
Darien rubbed his tender backside. "I think I'll have plenty of nightmares for a while."
"Go on. Shoo." Bobby waved Darien towards the bedroom. If he knew his partner, he knew that Fawkes hadn't slept a wink the entire week. He might as well make the demand now while Darien was still compliant. Bobby turned around to face the broken doorframe and surveyed the area. Then he smiled.
"Bobby Hobbes always gets the job done."
Darien inhaled deeply before he finally opened his eyes. It was his first decent night sleep in weeks. To top it off, there wasn't even a hint of a nightmare. For a brief moment, he had felt that Scarborough had a hold on him. Now he knew he was finally free. Well, as free as any experiment-gone-wrong now owned-by-the-government could possibly be.
Darien smiled. He was indeed ready to seize the day. However, when he sat up he was reminded of the events of the previous night.
"Fuck," Darien hissed through gritted teeth as his tender backside pressed against the mattress. The pain had dulled, but he still stood up and rubbed at the remainder of the sting. To his surprise, he wasn't even mad at Bobby. The memory of his hands wrapped around the throat of his best friend had haunted him for days. The guilt weighed on his shoulders. But now his conscience was clear and he could finally put everything behind him.
He also needed someone to smack some sense into him. Darien was actually willing to kill himself based on the suggestion of a serial killer. He glanced down at the tattoo on his wrist and sighed. If he was going to kill someone, it wouldn't be for awhile.
Still rubbing the sting, Darien casually walked into the living room. His head snapped up at the sound of rustling paper. Bobby Hobbes was seated on the couch, reading the morning newspaper as if he lived there. Darien rolled his eyes and groaned.
Bobby looked over his shoulder and smiled. "Hey! Look who's finally up, sleepy head."
"I didn't realize I had to dismiss you," Darien mumbled. Then he looked back at the door. It was still a pile of splinters. He forgot that Bobby did that much damage.
"Don't worry about that," Bobby began. "I'll pay for it. I already talked to the super. He'll fix it while we're at work."
"And what about my stuff? Anyone can waltz right in and rob me."
"I already surveyed the area, my friend. I saw nothing of value."
"Thanks," Darien replied sarcastically. Bobby Hobbes was a friend you can count on. "So, you stayed the whole night?"
"Well, your door is broken down. I couldn't just leave you like that. That's how they get ya."
"They. Come on, Darien. You should know that by now."
Darien sighed. He was not satisfied with that answer, but he also did not care enough to bother. "Whatever."
"No, not whatever," Bobby replied hastily. "You're the 17 million dollar man. You'd think that the Official would step up the security around here. Maybe move you to a nicer place in a securer neighborhood."
"I'm a grown man, Hobbes. I can protect myself… Most of the time anyways."
Bobby shrugged. "Just a precaution. I mean if he invested millions of dollars anyway, what's another?"
"Anyhow…" Darien thumbed his way to the bathroom. He had to interrupt, because Bobby could ramble on all day. "I'm going to jump into the shower and I'll meet you at the Agency."
"That's okay, buddy. We'll drive in together."
"Come on. We'll take my van. I'm here anyways."
Darien was suddenly tired again; too tired to argue. "Alright. I'll take a shower. Meet you at the van. We'll pick up some coffee; no hot donuts. And then off to work we go."
"Attaboy, Fawkes," Hobbes agreed.
With Bobby waiting, Darien thought it would be rude to take his time, so he showered and dressed quickly and then met Bobby in the living room. They walked together to the dilapidated van.
On the drive over to the Agency, it was only typical that Darien had to be in the most unpleasant passenger seat ever. With his sore bottom, duct taped upholstery, and what was probably a loose spring, he just could not find a comfortable position. Gilda couldn't go easy on him for one day?
Bobby watched Darien fidget for awhile. He couldn't help his lips from twitching into a small smile.
"Comfy?" he lightly taunted. He had to admire his handiwork.
Darien groaned. "Yeah, yeah. Laugh all you want. Just wait till you do something wrong and I'm all up in your face."
"I was pretty forceful, wasn't I?" Hobbes gloated. "Does Bobby Hobbes get the job done or what?"
Darien groaned again. He knew Bobby's sense of self would swell, but did he have to be stuck inside a van with him too?
Darien decided he would play nice. "Just keep both your eyes on the road, Kojak."
At the agency, Darien and Bobby entered the Official's office together. The Official was already seated behind his desk and Eberts stood in the corner holding a folder patiently as he waited. Upon seeing Darien, the Official chuckled.
"Look who's back," he grumbled. "It's nice of you to join us."
Bobby and Darien took their seats in front of the Official. Darien's face tightened and he moaned when he sat down. He narrowed his eyes at Bobby, but Bobby just smiled and shrugged.
"What finally persuaded you to return?" the Official asked.
Bobby snickered again. "What can I say? Bobby Hobbes always gets his man."
Darien rolled his eyes and groaned. He was in for a long day indeed.
The Official didn't push. He wasn't really interested in an explanation. When his two best agents got together, they usually never made much sense anyways.