Author: A. X. Zanier
Rating: R (Language, violence, sexual situations, the usual)
Fandom: The Invisible Man (SciFi, 2000)
Disclaimer: a) The characters and basic story ideas of The Invisible Man are the property of others including, but not limited to Matt Greenberg, Studios USA, Stu Segall Productions and NBC Universal. Any additional characters or story ideas are mine. I make no money from this intellectual exercise. b) This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any opinions or views expressed herein do not necessarily reflect those of the author and are used for story-telling purposes only.
Sequel/Series: spin-off of the AS altiverse
Timeline: Post Prince of Thieves and replaces all that followed in the original altiverse.
Spoilers: Probably. Does it really matter after all these years?
Music: Broken by Secondhand Serenade; Anything by Radford
A/N: This is actually a very shortened version of a much longer fic that has been rattling around in my brain for a while now. Basically, I imagined what would have happened if Darien and Alyx had not reconciled after PoT and ran with it.
"Don't," she all but snarled, cutting him off with a glare that could easily melt glass. She'd barely entered the apartment, standing next to the butcher block, coat and bag tossed carelessly on the pool table to reveal work clothes – dress slacks and shirt – instead of her usual comfortable jeans and t-shirt. So much had changed in the last half a year, which shouldn't be surprising. She had done what she always seemed to do and adjusted, made the best of whatever situation had been flung upon her and kept going. That he had flung upon her, if he wanted to be precise.
Damn, was she pissed. Justifiably, he supposed. He could only remain thankful she had agreed to come over at all. It had taken days of cautious overtures just to get her to acknowledge his presence, never mind speak to him. And now… well now he could only hope she would believe him, even if he didn't deserve it.
"Why now?" she asked, hugging herself and shaking in what he could only presume was anger, though he suspected something far more painful lay just below the surface. She'd been confused by his sudden turnabout, his, to her, reversion to the Dairen of a year ago. Lonely and desperate to be by her side. He hadn't even bothered hiding it from anyone, much less her. He'd finally woken up from the nightmare he'd found himself mired in for long, long months and wanted nothing more than for the world that had drifted by while he'd slept to return to it's proper place.
Darien wanted a drink, something stronger than the beer he could see through the glass of his Zippy Cola fridge. However, the good stuff, the strong stuff, the high end whiskey and scotch, bought for him by her, lay out of reach in the kitchen cabinet, for he would have to walk past her to get to it and that was most definitely not going to happen any time in the near future.
Now or never. He gathered up what little courage that remained to him and said, "I want you to stay." His heart lodged firmly in a throat so tight it damn near choked off his words.
She honestly looked confused. "Stay? Stay where?"
He sighed heavily, realizing he'd been a touch vague. She probably thought he wanted her to stay the night, which he did indeed want, but doubted would happen. "Stay here in San Diego. Don't take that job. Please."
She laughed bitterly, eyes flashing fire in the dim light of the room. "What reason do I have to stay?"
He expected more laughter; instead, he got dead silence for long minutes. He could feel the tension building in the room and moved slowly away from her to lean against the back of his couch, one hand raking through his hair and surely making it stand up in wild disarray.
"Darien, there is no us. You have made that quite clear." As she spoke she paled dramatically, her emotions locked down so tightly she shook, but her reaction proved his words had had an impact, though he couldn't be certain if it was the one he wanted them to have.
There could be only be one possible response to her statement for all the truth there was to it. "I was wrong."
"You were wrong?" she repeated, her voice strained. "You hurt me, Darien. In ways I had never thought possible."
He tipped his head down to stare at the floor between his shoes. He had been trying to hurt her. Had gone to great lengths to burden her with every bit of pain that he had endured; wanted her to suffer, and he had apparently succeeded better than he had known, given she had made every effort to not allow him to see... or feel it. In fact, once he'd begun sleeping with anything that moved, she had made a point to be anywhere but San Diego, actually volunteering for outsourced jobs just to get away from him. The less he'd see of her around the office, the more he'd fucked around, and the greater the effort he'd made to make her feel it. He'd used every trick she'd taught him to sleep with as many women as he could. Hell, he'd even taken home the occasional male just to prove he had gotten over her. Sadly, he'd never convinced himself.
He lifted his head to meet her eyes, which showed the pain she'd kept hidden from him for long months. "I know, and... I'm sorry."
She closed her eyes and shook her head. "Seriously? That's all you have for me? You're sorry?" She stalked forward, arms dropping as she approached, but for all that she could hurt him he held his ground, deserving of anything she might inflict upon him. "You ignored me. You insulted me to my face. You slept with anything on two legs, just because you could, but you know what was the worst? You were thinking of me every single time. You wanted them to be me, and yet your bruised male ego wouldn't allow you to simply come back to me."
He hated that she knew that, hated that while he sent her every moment of those dalliances, he also revealed that it was her he wanted to be with. He may have been angry and hurt, but he had never stopped wanting her. "I was hurt too," he reminded her, somehow not allowing said hurt to be heard in his voice. If there were to be any chance to convince her to stay, he would have to swallow it down.
"You walked out on us," she snapped. "You made the choice to end the relationship, and then you proceeded to take it out on me."
Darien bit back the instant response that wanted to escape past his lips at the flare of anger that surged through him. "I just wanted... want to know why."
"Why? This is why." She threw up her hands in aggravation. "Against my better judgment, against promises I made to myself, I got involved with you. You have no idea how very damaged I was thanks to my... my husband. Trusting you with any part of me was so very difficult, and I'll be the first to admit that I hid parts of me from you, but I had to protect myself." She laughed bitterly. "And clearly that was justified."
"Alyx, I just wanted to be with you."
"But only on your terms. Marriage or nothing." One hand came up to run through her hair. "You needed to own me, and I won't allow anyone to do that ever again."
"Not even the Official?" he sneered.
She frowned and he regretted the words immediately.
"The Official doesn't own me. He has pulled every string he can to keep me here," she informed him, not bothering to hide to the twist of her lips that echoed a parody of a smile.
He realized she meant those words, that she had played the game to her advantage and had somehow succeeded in writing her own ticket, no matter what the Official may want. "You want to leave?" He knew how pitiful he sounded, but he couldn't help himself. He feared he had waited too long, and that no matter how this evening ended, he would remain without her in his life.
"At this point? Yes, I do," she answered, not pulling the punch of her words at all.
"But I need you to stay," he stated, not bothering to try to hide his feelings any longer. In fact, he made every effort to project them at her, knowing that she would have little choice but to feel them. Unfair perhaps, but possibly the only way to get through to her. Yes, he had used that very connection to hurt her for weeks... months, but now he simply hoped to persuade her that he meant every word he said.
She closed her eyes for a long moment. "And, of course, this is all about you," she groused, turning away from him to stare down at the felt of the pool table.
One hand came up to rub the back of his neck. She was hurt, he was hurt, hell, they were hurt, but they had to move past it if there were to be any hope of them staying together, even if only as friends. He walked over to her and set cautious hands on her shoulders. "No, it's about us."
"Alyx, I'm sorry." He turned her about, though she did not meet his eyes. "For whatever it's worth, I love you and will do whatever it takes to keep you in my life." He tipped her head up, forcing her to look at him. "I screwed up and I can't promise I won't do it again, but I want... need to try. I... You are the only person who sees me, and I need that. Need you to remind me that Darien Fawkes has value beyond the gland. 'Cause I think you're the only one who has ever seen that."
She stared up at him, an odd mix of astonishment and confusion in her eyes. "Love. I'm supposed to believe this... this proclamation now, when you couldn't be bothered to tell me before all but demanding that I marry you."
True. Very true, unfortunately. Perhaps one of the reasons she had not been able to say yes. Maybe, though she cared, she did not love him. He really didn't think that to be true. She loved him, even if she could not admit it. "Fair enough," he admitted. "I just figured you knew how I felt."
"Nice. Real nice." She shoved at him in an effort to put some distance between them, but he refused to allow her to move. "Dare-"
He silenced her by resting his forehead against hers, and allowing all the confused and desperate emotions he felt say what he clearly could not. It took a long moment, but he felt her shudder and that wall in her mind that had been preventing him from feeling anything she did shifted, allowing gaps to appear in the mortar. His knees wanted to buckle at the force of the emotional storm that broke across his senses. She remained so hurt, in so much pain, so unwilling to trust, and yet under it all, under the sadness and anger and regret, lay that love he remembered. Her feelings for him, her belief in him unchanged even after everything he had done and yet... yet that also caused her the greatest amount of pain. She continued to love the one person who had hurt her above all others. Hurt her even more than her controlling, abusive husband, the one person she had truly given her heart to and who had then simply cast it aside as if it were worthless: Darien Fawkes.
He wanted to say a thousand things, wanted to take it all back and make everything all right again, but he realized it would be impossible. They couldn't go back, there had been too much damage done, but they could start over. He just had to convince her.
He went to his knees before her, taking both her hands into his and prayed he would say this right the first time, because there would be no other chances. "There is nothing I can say or do that will change what has happened, I know that now, but we can get past this, I know it. More, I feel it. You... we just have to be willing to let go of the hurt." He gazed up into her eyes, which gave away nothing as to what she was feeling, her hands, however, told him so very much. She wanted to, so badly it made him want to shiver with the strength of it. He only needed to overcome that stubbornness of hers. "Please, Alyx."
She sighed softly and straightened. "I can't."
Darien felt what was left of his heart shred apart at her words.
She stepped away from him, left him kneeling there on the floor in an emotional meltdown. He'd said the right things, he felt certain of that, and yet she had still walked away from him. How could this be happening? He'd finally stopped being a fool, had screwed up the courage to admit it to her, and she turned away? She loved him. Hadn't denied that. But she didn't want to stay, or admit it apparently. He should leave it at that; let her walk away and get on with her life. That would be the right thing to do. That would be the smart thing to do.
He had never been known for being smart, or for doing the right thing.
With a growl of frustration, he surged to his feet and went after her. One hand on her shoulder to spin her around, hands coming up to cup her face and he kissed her, hungrily. Her hands went to his chest and for a moment made a valiant effort to put some distance between them, but he resisted until she stopped fighting. Her hands instead curving about his waist to hold on for dear life. Christ, that wall he'd managed to put chinks into moments before, fell apart, shattering into dust, and putting everything within her on full display for him to glory in. He could feel that tingle of energy even through his clothes, telling him her control had pretty much collapsed, that roar of thousands of voices throbbing through his mind, but he didn't care. He needed this... they needed this and unless she told him to stop there would be no chance that he would.
Things progressed quickly, clothing tossed aside, as they stumbled their way from the door to his bed. The pain and hurt and unhappiness momentarily forgotten. They fell onto his bed as if the last few months had never occurred, as if their separation had only been a momentary deviation from the path on which they always should have been. There were no words spoken, nothing other than the occasional primitive vocalization, as anything else seemed far too cumbersome and unnecessary. They had each other, wanted each other, loved each other, and nothing else mattered.
After, he lay curled about about her, a pleasant euphoria having stolen across his senses that left him wondering if she'd be willing to stay, and not just for the night, but forever, or at least as much time as possible with the constraints work placed upon them. He knew there would still be hurdles to climb over, but this... this had been a good start. He shifted, slithering down her body to kiss her shoulder, wondering if she had actually fallen asleep.
She sighed softly, pulling up one of his hands to kiss the fingers tenderly. Then she sat up, glanced back at him over her shoulder, and got up from the bed. He figured she was heading to the bathroom, but instead she gathered up her clothes and began to get dressed.
"Alyx, what are you doing?" He pushed upright, back smushing the pillows into the headboard.
"I can see that," he grumbled. "Why?"
"So I can go back to my place without being arrested for public nudity," she told him as she pulled her shirt over her head. Once on, she ran her fingers through her hair, loosening some of the tangles he had made a grand effort to put there.
"You're welcome to stay," he said, his voice barely above a whisper. He feared her response.
She shook her head. "No thanks. Have a ton of packing to do before I leave."
He felt his heart drop into his stomach. "Leave? You're still taking the job?"
She slid her feet into her shoes before turning around to look at him. "Yes, Darien, I'm still taking the job."
"But... I thought..." He trailed off not sure what to say. He'd foolishly believed that this had fixed everything, or at least given them a place to start, but, clearly, he'd been wrong. Nothing had changed for her. And no matter how much they still loved each other, irreparable damage had obviously been done.
She gave him a tiny smile. "Darien, three months ago, this might have been enough, but not now."
"You can't tell me you didn't want this." He'd call her a liar if she even tried to.
She walked back over to him, one hand reaching out, fingers resting delicately against his cheek. "No, I can't. I've wanted this every night since you walked out on me, but in the end it changes nothing." She leaned down and kissed him gently on the forehead. "I'm not leaving for a week, we'll talk some more, 'kay?"
"Alyx, what do you want me to do?"
"Ah, Darien, there's nothing to do. This is what we are now." She stepped back, grabbed her bag and coat, and headed to the door. She had it open before he managed to find his voice.
"And what are we?"
She paused and turned back to meet his eyes. "Broken, Darien."
Then she was gone, the door shutting behind her with a quiet click, leaving Darien alone in his apartment wondering how to fix their personal kind of broken.
"There are many ways of breaking a heart. Stories were full of hearts broken by love, but what really broke a heart was taking away it's dream - whatever that dream might be."
And my dream? Well mine I had foolishly walked away from. So I guess I have no one but myself to blame for how mine came to be broken.