Title: Blame
Author: A.j. (Aj2245@yahoo.com)
Rating: Err. PG. I think.
Archiving: Want? Take.
Spoilers: Last eppy! This little vignette takes place smack in the middle of the series finale and won't make any sense what so ever, unless you've seen it. Well, it'll make some, but there's no resolution of plot without it. Really.

Notes: This is the last (DAMMIT!) of my little 'B'-titled series of episode vignettes. This one is less lyrical than the others, but somewhat better stylistically. It is Claire POV and not hugely D/C, although you can read undertones if you really look.

Dedication: To Kossi for kicking me until I made this better. And for encouraging me to write more I-Man fic even though I was all "I don' wanna!" This last one's for you, girl.


By A.j.


There are days when telling which way is up can be a real challenge. Those days
were not always so regular as they are now. I can remember a time, not too long
ago, when I knew what I was doing. I knew my place in the world.

I can remember when I trusted my superiors to look out for my welfare.

It all seems rather naïve now. Hindsight is a guilty pleasure that serves no
real purpose but to confuse and depress. My gran told that to me two weeks
before she died. I'd been twenty-one and high on the promise of a returning
scholarship paid for by the United States Government. I couldn't understand
what she was telling me then. She'd had a lifetime to see the sense in her
words. I'd only my tiny little frame of reference.

It's strange to think that I can now see the wisdom in her tired little rant.
Frightening even.

Nine days ago, my superior ordered me to sentence Darien to permanent madness.

Two days ago, against those orders, I injected him with a cure. Two days ago,
he walked away from us. And I don't think I have it in me to blame him.

It's hard, you see. Knowing that in some small way, this is all my fault. I
should have known. I should have seen. I should have listened to the voices
screaming in my head much, MUCH earlier. But I didn't, and I can hardly blame
him for feeling betrayed.

That doesn't stop me from feeling just as hurt.

I did it for him. I've been doing it for him for a long time. Longer than I'd
really care to admit. It burns to have my lack of immediate compliance hurled
in my face. And I am angry beyond words because he expected it. I don't know
if it's with myself or with him.

Anger. Rage. Pain.

They're all the same aren't they? All part of one dark spectrum. Should I have
waited as long as I did? I injected him anyway. I've put that needle to his
veins so many times... Why did I hesitate with this?

I lied to him because I was scared for his life. It sounds so simple, doesn't
it? So straight forward. I wanted to save his life. I'm a doctor. Doctors
save lives.

But I did it anyway. Because he needed me to. He needed me to stop his
pain, and when faced with the choice between his possible death and his descent into madness... there really was no choice, was there?

No, I take that back. There was a choice, and it was his. It was his choice alone. Not mine, not Bobby's and not the Official's. Just his. He deserved that because, in the beginning, he had no choices. None that really mattered.

Then again, none of us really have many choices in the long run.

But Darien...

He and I have been talking more lately. Over the past few weeks, he'd taken to
staying later and later at the lab. The frightening reality of counteragent
resistance played heavy on his mind, and it showed. I watched him try and deal
with it. But he never talked about that, really. Instead we talked about everything else. Movies, music, and, of course, books. Always books. We've had good times recently, he and I. He even persuaded me into trying to explain all of the laws of physics using sock puppets. I don't think I've ever laughed quite so hard. But under all of it, we both knew that this was just a delaying tactic. He was aware of it, and I saw it. I just knew because when
Bobby would ask if he wanted to go out for a beer or a movie, he'd decline. Oh,
he'd do it jovially enough. Bobby would always leave snickering, his mind only
slightly troubled. So Darien would stay and read or talk. Or badger me with sock puppets. And sometimes, we even danced.

He didn't want to go home because he wasn't sure when he'd need to come back.
This place was becoming more of a prison every day. But he wouldn't show it.

Some people say that bravery is the overcoming of fear. That's not entirely
true. To me, bravery is living with fear and being able to overcome it enough
to function. My gran was brave. She did things her own way, even when she was
sick. Darien? He's the same. He was slowly losing his mind, but he never
pushed. He pleaded and waited and prayed, but he never pushed.

God knows I would have.

I'm going to miss talking to him. Under all that hair and self-deprecation lies
a mind he can be proud of. He actually convinced me to read the Brontës again.
And Dumas. I'd always disliked the sisters' style of writing, and Dumas only
seemed to make sense when he was drunk. But the way Darien described them, and
the passion in his voice and face was indescribably attractive.

It was with the image of his animated face in my mind and the sharp bite of his wit in my ear that I prepared the suicide gene. In the end, it was all rather anti-climactic. One needle, one shot, no more madness. Nothing but his own thoughts. No fear, no pain. Just Darien.

I'd like to think that he'll thank me some day. Once all the anger and the hurt
clears, maybe he'll know that I did do it for him. Maybe he'll even remember
the dancing and talking and the puppets. Maybe he'll remember the way my own face lit up in his presence.

Maybe one day I'll forgive him for doubting me. And maybe the look in his eyes
when he turned away won't haunt my dreams.

I don't know how or when his opinion started to matter so much. All I do know
is that whatever place out of time we had is gone. I'm leaving this place, just
like him. I'm getting my dream job and leaving this all behind.

I used to think that I wanted this. It was my dream. But that's different now,
isn't it?

I want to stay here. I want to have Bobby drag me out to a bar with him and try
and feed me buffalo wings. Or snicker quietly with Alex about some inane female
thing or even beat Eberts at Hearts. Most of all, I want to twirl around my lab
in the arms of a man who's just a little bit cracked. A man whose brother I
once thought I loved.

But that isn't to be. We've made our choices, all of us. Some may be better
than others, but there's no help for it. This thing, this place it's done now.
Darien, the heart of us, is gone.

And I am SO angry. At myself. At him. At the Official. At Kevin. We're all
to blame, really. But that doesn't make this vacant lab any easier to bear.

It's emptying now. All my little experiments and flights of curiosity. The bits of color and personality stored away in boxes or sold to the highest bidder. It's all so fleeting. Everything is.

Life, relationships, love.

Kevin told me something once, a very long time ago. We'd been debating some theorem or another over some sort of alcohol at a local pub. I have no idea how we got on the subject, but I remember how dark his eyes seemed in that smoky room. Besides his mind, Kevin's eyes were always his most striking feature. So brown and beautifully perceptive.

"Claire," he'd slurred. He'd never been good at holding his liquor. "I have a secret for you. There is such a thing as perfection, but it never lasts any longer than a second. It never needs to. It's the moments, girl."

And it is. Galling as it is, Kevin always seemed to be right. So all-knowing. Damn him.

Because there were so many moments of perfection in the last two years. Bits and pieces of happiness in this strange little existence we carved out for ourselves. And the star of nearly all of them was one Darien Fawkes.

So I wish him all the luck and joy this world can offer. I just wish I could share in it. I want more moments with him. Warm and so achingly beautiful. Because this place I've exiled myself, this dream... It's cold comfort. We saw so much in the last few years. Were so many things to so many people. To each other.

But we aren't now. We're all of us just broken little pieces of a busted puzzle. So I pack my copy of Wurthering Heights into my carry-all and wave goodbye to this. Smile, I think. Smile because it's ending and a new door is opening. After all, it only hurts when you breathe.