Categories > TV > Invisible Man > Busman's Holiday

Part 2

by OneEye 0 reviews

For the Invisible Man, even a simple vacation can go horribly wrong.

Category: Invisible Man - Rating: PG - Genres: Action/Adventure, Drama - Characters: Bobby Hobbes, Claire Keeply, Darien Fawkes - Warnings: [!!] - Published: 2006-07-20 - Updated: 2006-07-21 - 2287 words

Part 2

"Hobbes!" The Official shouted from his office doorway.

"Yeah, boss?" Bobby replied casually, pausing at the end of the hallway, sipping his morning coffee.

"You seen Fawkes yet this morning?"

"Nope. He's probably down talkin' to the Keeper."

"Well, go get him and get your butts in here, we've got work to do." Without waiting for a reply, the Official retreated back into the office and shut the door.

"Aye-aye, sir." Bobby muttered to the empty corridor. Turning a corner, he headed down to the basement.

Claire looked up from her computer screen as the lab door slid open. "Morning, Bobby," she called. "What brings you down here?"

"And a happy Monday to you too, Keep. Lookin' for Fawkes."

"I haven't seen him. He's shouldn't be due for a shot for another two or three days."

"That's odd...wonder if he overslept." Picking up the nearest phone, Hobbes dialed his partner's number. Ten rings later, he hung up, bewildered. "If he's there, he's not picking up. Wonder where he could be?"

"Maybe he's on his way." Claire said.

"Yeah, maybe. Hope so. Fat Man's gonna have a fit. Anyway, thanks for the help, Keep!" Hobbes said as he headed for the door.

"Bobby?" Claire called after him. Hobbes stopped and turned. "You do have permission to call me by name, you know."

Hobbes flushed bright red, and tried to talk around a tongue suddenly tied in knots. "Re..really? Well...I guess...I mean...I'm honored. Thanks....Claire."

"You're welcome."

An hour later, Darien still hadn't showed up and still wasn't answering his phone. The wireless service informed Hobbes that Darien's cell phone was either turned off or out of the service area. The Official was seriously pissed, ranting to anyone who would listen about the trials of working with an irresponsible, disrespectful punk kid who belonged in prison and was just begging to be sent back there with these stunts.

Bobby, on the other hand, was becoming convinced that something dreadful was wrong. Any of a dozen things could've happened to his partner, none of which were pleasant to contemplate. It wasn't like the kid to just disappear, at least not anymore. A few months ago, sure, he'd have pulled something like this just to twitch the boss' tail, but he'd settled down recently and started getting into his work. In the last couple of weeks, Fawkes had actually expressed eagerness to return to the job, just to escape the tedium of his extended, house-bound vacation.

By late morning, Bobby convinced the Official to let him go check out Fawkes' place.

After some tentative knocks, Hobbes unlocked Darien's door and peered into the apartment. A few months earlier he had kicked this door in, for what seemed like a good reason at the time. When it turned out otherwise, Hobbes had paid for the repairs by way of apology. In return, and to show there were no hard feelings, Darien had given him a key. For emergencies, he'd said. Hobbes hoped this didn't qualify.

The apartment was dark, quiet, and empty. After a few minutes of looking around for a clue, Bobby realized what was missing: the white rat. The cage wasn't in it's usual place on the counter. That implied that Fawkes' had left of his own accord, at least. Bobby remembered Fawkes mentioning a neighbor kid who took care of his pet when he was away, so he walked across the hall and knocked on the other door.

A small Hispanic woman answered. "Si?" she queried.

"I was wondering if you could help me, ma'am, I'm looking--"

The woman waved him to a stop. "Lo siento, señor, no hablo anglais."

Oh, crap. While Bobby's Spanish skills were adequate for most situations, he was by no means fluent, despite the months he'd spent in Mexico, and now he was out of practice. "Um...Buenos dias, señora., hell, what's the word for 'looking'...buscar...buscando...Señor Fawkes?" Bobby pointed over his shoulder to indicate who he was looking for.

"Ah, si, él fue a visitar a su tía. Él no se ha vuelto todavía?"

No, Bobby answered her in his broken Spanish, he didn't seem to have come back yet. 'Tía'...that was 'aunt', he recalled. Went to visit his aunt? That made sense; the guy had been sidelined for the past month and had missed Thanksgiving. Guess he wanted to make it up to her.

Bobby thanked the woman for her help and went back to the office. Now he knew where Fawkes had gone, but still didn't know why he hadn't come back, or at least called in. Something was still very wrong.

Following up on the neighbor's lead, Hobbes found the number for Mrs. Celia Donovan at the Marymount Retirement Home in Cold Springs. He called her around lunchtime, hoping to find a logical explanation for his missing partner. Unfortunately, Mrs. Donovan was just as worried about her nephew as Bobby was. Seems he'd promised her a trip out to their cabin and a picnic the day before, but never showed up. She'd called the sheriff's office, but they'd told her she needed to wait 48 hours to report a missing person. Celia complained that they seemed a bit distracted and hadn't really taken her seriously.

Bobby reassured the woman that he'd do his best to track Darien down. Hanging up the phone, Bobby felt his stomach clench with worry. Where could Fawkes have gotten to? Cold Springs was a small town, kind of hard to get lost in. Could Arnaud have made another try for the gland? Or the Chinese? Bobby knew he had to get up there and try and retrace his partner's steps before the trail got cold.

Fortunately, once he had all the facts, the Official agreed. Eberts made the arrangements; and by mid-afternoon, Bobby was on a flight to Sacramento, with Claire, a dose of counteragent, and some odds and ends of equipment in tow. By early evening they were driving a rental car up the main street of Cold Springs.

As they passed in front of the sheriff's office, Bobby noticed an unusual amount of activity. Police cruisers from several nearby jurisdictions lined the street, along with vehicles belonging to the state police and the FBI. Parked on the lawn were two trucks from Sacramento television stations, their bright camera lights bathing the scene in a surreal glow. In spite of the cold rain that was falling, several small groups of curious onlookers were standing on nearby street corners, watching the show unfold.

"Looks like something serious is going on around here," he commented to the Keeper.

"And do you think it's a coincidence?" she asked, almost rhetorically.

"I don't believe in coincidence. At least now we know why Mrs. Donovan thought the cops seemed distracted." Hobbes found a parking space about a block away, and he and Claire walked quickly towards the station, holding their coats over their heads to stay dry. Neither had thought to pack an umbrella.

Both Claire and Hobbes came to a startled stop just inside the station doors. The station was small, designed to accommodate fewer than a dozen officers. At least five times that many people were now rushing around within, jostling for space and shouting to be heard over the din. The two visitors paused, not sure who to approach, or how.

After a minute or two, one pair of eyes glanced up from its work across the room and noted their presence. Fortunately, it was Sheriff Pizzetti, who recognized Hobbes from their previous encounter. Waving to catch their attention, he beckoned the two back towards his office.

Once the two agents were inside, Pizzetti shut the office door, cutting the commotion outside down to a dull roar. Turning, he paused a moment as if considering his next move, then offered his hand to both of them. "Welcome to our little corner of chaos, folks. Can I help you with something?"

"Looks like you've got a bit of a situation on your hands here, Sheriff," Bobby commented.

"Yep, 'fraid so," Pizzetti sighed, looking out at the mob that had taken over his station. "We had an armed robbery at the grocery store here yesterday. Bunch of overgrown adolescents calling themselves a militia group, but they're just thugs in camouflage. They've been hitting towns all through the mountains here in the past few months and no one's been able to do much about it. This time we got to the store before they were finished, and they took a hostage. Rose Egan, a seventeen-year-old girl who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. They got away clean, because we just didn't have the manpower or firepower to stop them. Now we've got Feds and Staties and cops from every town for fifty miles here sitting on their thumbs because no one's got a clue where to start looking. You folks come all the way up here from San Diego just for this?"

Hobbes shook his head. "No, actually we came for a different reason, but it could be related. Our associate, Darien Fawkes, was up here this weekend, visiting his aunt..."

"Yeah, I ran into him yesterday. Said he was taking her on a picnic or something."

Claire spoke up. "Yes, but he never showed up. Mrs. Donovan hasn't seen Darien since Saturday night. You say you saw him yesterday-could he have gotten involved in the incident at the grocery store?"

The Sheriff's eyes widened. "Yeah, he was there, now that you mention it. He's the one who called me, from his cell phone, while the robbery was still happening. That's how we got there so quick. I'd forgotten that, with all that's been happening since. He must've gone out the back of the store, because he never shows up on the surveillance camera footage at the front, and I didn't see him during the witness interviews afterwards."

Claire and Bobby looked at each other, both thinking the same thing. Bobby turned back to the Sheriff and asked, "Would it be possible for us to take a look at those surveillance tapes? We may spot something that you missed, since we know what to look for."

"Sure, knock yourselves out. Tape's in the machine right behind you; I was watching it myself, earlier. If you don't mind, I'll leave you to it...I've got a few thousand things I still need to take care of out there."

"Thanks. We'll be fine. Let you know if we spot anything," Hobbes assured him. The sheriff nodded and slipped back out into the main room.

Claire and Bobby watched the surveillance tape carefully, looking for things no one else would see. The scene was pretty standard hold-up stuff. A dark-colored four-by-four pulls up to the front of the store, blocking the entrance from view from the street. Four men rush in, waving guns. Terrified clerks empty out cash registers and collect other items together as directed. After several minutes, two cop cars pull up outside. A stand-off ensues, broken only when one of the thugs grabs a young girl and walks out holding his gun to her head. The two cops are outnumbered and outmaneuvered; they have no choice but to let them drive away. One cop gives chase, while the other comes into the store to reassure and question the remaining witnesses.

There was no sign of Darien Fawkes anywhere in sight, at least not that most people would notice. What Claire and Bobby saw on the screen, however, was the tailgate of the four-by-four opening and closing, seemingly by itself, just before it took off down the road.

"Damn it, Fawkes," Bobby muttered, seeing that. "Just had to play the hero, didn't you?" He'd known, from the minute the sheriff had mentioned the kidnapping, that Fawkes couldn't have just walked away from the scene. This was a guy, after all, who'd once been arrested while giving CPR to one of his own burglary victims. "Kid's got more conscience than brains."

Claire nodded, both disturbed and unsurprised. She, too, had suspected they would see something like this.

Suddenly, the timbre of the voices outside the office changed, from frustration to exuberant celebration. Looking out into the main room, they saw that more than half of the officers in the crowd were rushing for the doors. Exiting the office, Bobby and Claire caught the sheriff before he could follow and asked what was going on.

Pizzetti grinned. "Rose Egan, the girl who got taken yesterday? We just got a call from a gas station about seventy miles from here. She showed up there about half an hour ago, wet, half frozen, and exhausted, but safe. Looks like she escaped and hiked down through the woods to the nearest road. Guy at the station managed to get her name out of her, remembered it from the news, and called us right after he called the ambulance."

"Was Darien with her?" Claire piped in.

"Fawkes? No, why would he be?"

Hobbes cleared his throat. "Um, we have reason to believe that Agent Fawkes may have concealed himself in the perpetrators' vehicle before they escaped."

Pizzetti frowned, confused. "I didn't see anyone anywhere near that car on the tape..."

"Well, let's just say that Fawkes has some...special abilities."

"More of that parapsych-whatever crap?"

"Something like that."

"Well, I'm afraid the guy didn't mention anyone being with her. She arrived at the gas station alone. If Fawkes did follow her up that mountain, he didn't follow her back down again."

Claire and Hobbes looked at each other wordlessly, both of them getting a sinking feeling.

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