Categories > TV > Invisible Man > Busman's Holiday


by OneEye 3 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 - 2723 words


Darkness and silence -- an eternity or an instant, there was no way to judge. His first awareness was of sound in the distance, as if heard from under water, with no sense or meaning. Gradually, the noises differentiated into mechanical beeps and human voices. He focused on the voices, latching onto the familiar sounds and dragging himself to the surface inch by inch.

He wanted to open his eyes, try and connect the here and now to the chaotic jumble of memories. Flashes and images without connection or comprehension. Trees. A grocery cart. Standing in a dark room, with a gun in his hands. Sitting on a beach. A girl, tied to a bed, staring at him in terror. Lying on the ground, pain searing through his shoulder. He saw all of this in flashes, but with no sense of connection between the images.

Quicksilver madness. It had to be; it explained both his disjointed memories and his current state of semi-consciousness. Please, God, he thought, tell me I didn't hurt anyone...

After a while, the voices grew nearer and he began to recognize words. Echoes from his memory combined with the ambient sounds.

"Claire, are you sure he's gonna be ok?" You're wrong there, my friend. "Shouldn't he be awake by now?" /Dead wrong. /The voices in his head and in his ears melded together until he couldn't be sure which was real.

"He'll wake up when he's ready, Bobby." That voice, too, conjured up whispers in his memory, almost as if from a dream./ He's alive, just barely. "Between the hypothermia, the bullet we took out of his shoulder, the infection he got in the wound, and the advanced state of quicksilver madness he reached before I could give him the counteragent, Darien's body has been through quite a lot...he needs time to recover." /If I never hear it, then I won't be disobeying. "Just keep talking to him. I don't know that he'll hear you, but it'll give you something to do besides worry and obsess and pester me."

As if the words were a magic spell, he felt his eyelids twitch open, flooding his vision with blinding light. Squeezing them shut again, he let out a small noise, almost a whimper.

"Darien?" Claire called out quietly, alerted by the sound. He felt a familiar, feminine hand grasp his.

"Mmph," was all the response he could muster. He cracked his eyelids open again warily; the room still seemed over-bright, but it was no longer painful. The sun was shining in the nearby windows, warming the room quite pleasantly. The room itself was unfamiliar. Without moving his head, Darien could see several plastic IV bags hanging over his head, with tubes presumably attached to his body at various points. His shoulder registered a dull, burning hurt, but the pain was distant, unconnected somehow.

"Hey, Fawkes," Bobby said from somewhere on his other side. "Welcome back, kid."

"Wha' happ'?" Darien muttered groggily.

"You're in the hospital, Darien," Claire began gently.

Darien interrupted before she could explain further. "Did I hurt anyone?" he asked desperately, sounding more awake by the second.

"Hurt?" Claire echoed, confused. She looked across at Hobbes.

"He must think he went quicksilver mad and went on a rampage. After all, that's the usual reason when he wakes up like this, with us hovering over him. Fawkes, you didn't hurt anyone. You took a bullet in the shoulder and got a bit chilled, that's all. In fact, you saved a girl's life. Don't you remember that?"

"Girl..." Darien tried to wade through the fog of recent memories. Bits and pieces, nothing coherent, until suddenly a vision surfaced. Hobbes, crouched beside him, crying, speaking words about friendship and trust. The memory seemed both unreal and incredibly powerful at the same time. "I...." He fumbled for words.

Claire gripped his hand and gave it a comforting squeeze. "Relax, Darien. The memories will come back. Your body's been through a rough few days. All you need to know right now is that everything is fine. The girl is back home with her mother, and the men who took her are in custody. Now get some rest; that's what you need most right now."

Darien nodded in wordless acquiescence . Claire released his hand and, with a final reassuring pat, turned to leave the room. As the door swung shut behind her, Darien shifted his eyes back to Hobbes, who was still sitting in a cheap plastic hospital chair near the foot of the bed.

"You want I should go, too, and let you get some shut-eye?" he asked.

Darien didn't answer, just gazed at his partner for a moment in silence. "You saved me," he finally said drowsily -- a statement, not a question.

Hobbes' jaw dropped, as he realized somehow that Darien really meant him personally, not the searchers in general. And maybe something even more than that, something deeper than mere physical rescue.

There was no way he could know that.... Before he could respond to the half-mumbled yet entirely accurate comment, however, Fawkes was sound asleep.

A week later, his arm in a sling to support his healing shoulder, Darien Fawkes sat on a bench and leaned against the wall of his uncle's cabin, watching in weary bemusement as Claire and Hobbes fluttered around in the primitive kitchen area preparing the mother of all indoor picnics. His aunt Celia was sitting across the table from him, laughing at his friends' antics and offering the occasional embarrassing anecdote about Darien's childhood.

Darien just took it all in, enjoying the familial atmosphere. Outside the windows, a light dusting of snow covered the ground. By this time tomorrow, he would be back in San Diego where the weather was still warm, sitting in the Official's office with Hobbes and Claire while they all got lectured for every infraction, real and imagined, that his boss could think of. For that reason, if nothing else, he was determined to enjoy these last few hours of peace and tranquility.

The sound of tires rolling up the gravel drive outside caught everyone's attention. Bobby moved cautiously over to the door and peered out. Almost instantly, however, he relaxed and threw the door open to welcome the visitors.

Darien could hear people approaching, muffled voices answering Hobbes' greetings, but it wasn't until the two new arrivals walked in the door that he recognized them. One was John Pizzetti, dressed casually in civvies for once. "Pizza!" he called out. "Glad you could drop by!"

"Hey Fawkes," Pizza said. "Good to see you up and around again, you looked like hell last time I saw you."

Darien was about to make a smart-ass reply to that, but was cut off as the second new arrival stepped inside the door. The moment she laid eyes on him, she squealed, "Darien!" and dashed across the room like a whirlwind. Somehow, in spite of her enthusiasm, Rose managed to throw her arms around her hero in a way that didn't hurt his still-tender shoulder, although it did almost knock the breath out of him.

"Hi Rose," he whispered in a strangled voice, surreptitiously spitting out some of her hair that got in his mouth.

"I had to bring her, Fawkes," Pizza said from across the room. "They wouldn't let her come visit you in the hospital for some reason, so she begged and pleaded with me to track you down and let her thank you in person."

The girl finally released him from her choke hold. "I'm so glad you're all right, Darien, I was so worried when I got back and no one had heard from you and you were up there all alone and hurt and it started to rain..." Rose's babbling continued for several minutes in that vein, expressing gratitude and relief in equal measure and recounting her own experiences with the woods, the hospital, and the curiosity of the media in incredibly long run-on sentences.

Thanks to some judicious words from Bobby Hobbes before they left, Rose had not revealed the identity of her rescuer to anyone but the police and FBI. The news hounds had been going wild for the past week, trying to track down her mysterious savior, but with no luck. Some of the more spiritual commentators were attributing everything to a "guardian angel". Amazingly, news of the search and rescue effort for Darien Fawkes had not leaked out to any of the networks or papers, so no one had made the connection.

The rest of the afternoon was a pleasant interlude of camaraderie and laughter. Bobby Hobbes, king of the calzone, soon chased the Keeper out of the kitchen. She might make a mean counteragent, he teased, but she couldn't boil water. He then recruited Rose as his assistant, much to the amusement of the rest. Claire -- who actually was a fairly good cook -- understood that her expulsion was simply a ruse perpetrated for that very purpose, to get the girl busy and concentrating on something besides smothering Darien in adolescent adoration.

Darien understood too, and flashed a very grateful look in Hobbes' direction.

After the meal, which was roundly praised by all the participants, Pizzetti and Claire took up the task of distracting Rose by taking her outside to build a snow man. Celia was dozing in a chair in the corner, leaving Darien and Bobby essentially alone. They both sat silently for a long time, sipping coffee and watching the revelry outside through the windows.

Finally, Bobby broke the silence. "Fawkes...back a few days, when you first woke up in the said something to me. I've been meaning to ask you about it--"

Darien looked down into his coffee cup, uncomfortable. "It was nothing, Hobbes. I was all mixed up from the drugs and stuff, didn't know what I was saying."

Hobbes snorted derisively. "Don't give me that crap, Fawkes. Bobby Hobbes knows from confused, my friend, and that was not what I was hearing. Whatever else it was, you knew what you were saying. I just want to know what you meant by it."

Darien was silent for several moments, gazing longingly out the window. Just as Bobby was becoming convinced he wasn't going to answer, he spoke up in a muted, almost dreamy voice. "Saw some strange things while I was out there, Hobbes. Keep tells me that hallucinations are a common side-effect of severe hypothermia, and I suppose that's all they were. I saw Arnaud, taunting me. And you, urging me to keep going. I remember talking to Kevin, and seeing you ride to my rescue on a white horse. Well, actually, it was a gray horse, but same difference."

Hobbes was staring at him intently, eyes narrowed at that last comment.

"It's all jumbled up in my mind, even now, and I know none of it was real, but I did know I was dying out there. And at first...I didn't much care." Darien glanced over at his friend to gauge the reaction to that statement, but Hobbes' face was unreadable. "I've had the gland and this job for months now, Hobbes, and they both still scare the shit out of me. I mean, it's been even money whether I was going to get my head blown off during a mission or die of gland removal either at the hands of the Agency, Arnaud, or somebody like the Chinese. But out there in the was peaceful, and I could be satisfied that I'd gone out doing something good. And it was a relief to think that the gland would die with me, because as much as I want it gone, I also don't want anyone else to have to go through what I have."

Hobbes murmured, "And you say you saw me on a horse?"

Fawkes grinned sheepishly. "Yeah. Weird, I know, but what can I say, my imagination has always been a bit twisted. I mean, hell, I was hearing Kevin at that point, clear as I'm hearing you, that's how far gone I was. Anyway, Kevin said some stuff, and you said some stuff, and hallucination or no, it got me thinking that there might be something worth fighting to live for after all.

"Don't get me wrong; the good doesn't outweigh the bad, not by a long shot. I think I'd give almost anything to get this gland out of my head and get my life back on my own terms. But it was strange to realize that there actually is something in my life that doesn't suck."

"And what's that, Fawkes?" Hobbes asked. "The regular paycheck?" Bobby tried to joke around like usual, to cover the fact that Fawkes' 'hallucination' had been far too accurate to be dismissed. He had been on a horse when he found Darien, and the horse had, in fact, been gray. And yet, Darien had been unconscious, bare millimeters from death at that point. There was no way he could have known that. Was there?

Darien smiled ruefully. "No, that pretty much sucks, too. I've had odd jobs that paid better than this. No, the one and only good thing this frickin' gland has given me is a real friend."

Hobbes searched his partner's face, looking for the punchline, but Darien gazed back at him with utter seriousness.

Darien continued in a soft, sincere tone. "It took me a while to realize it. I didn't much like you at first, thought you were this crazy, gung-ho government robot whose only purpose in life was to keep me from having any fun. And I'm sure you weren't any fonder of me at first, with my attitude and lack of training. But sometime in the past few months, that changed.

"I've had partners before, Hobbes. You remember Liz Morgan, and there were others. But I never really trusted any of them. They weren't friends; they were tools, extra hands needed for things neither person could do on his own. Every one of them would have sold me out in a heartbeat if it had been to their advantage. You learn not to trust, and it's a hard thing to unlearn. I never had a partner I could trust, until you. You're my friend, now, probably the only real friend I've had in a very long time."

Hobbes was frozen with shock. Not so much at the sentiments, but at the words. They were /his /words, or close to them, words he'd spoken to what he'd thought at the time was a dead body.

He and Darien both broke away from the intense looks on each others' faces and turned their attention back out to the nearly completed snow man. Or, to be more accurate, snow dwarf. There wasn't enough snow on the ground out there to make the thing more than two feet tall. The scene out there was much safer than the one going on inside. The words had been said; they'd both said them, and both heard them, but neither of them was quite ready to deal with the implications. Not yet.

They sat that way for a long time, strained silence, their coffee getting cold in their hands. Finally, Bobby spoke again.

"That was a slick move out there, Fawkes, with the mooks and their dogs. Pretending to be a ghost -- priceless." Hobbes smiled at the memory of the tale he'd heard from that kid, Davey.

Darien grinned in response, grateful for the change in subject and relieved at the break in the tension that had been vibrating between them. Nothing more needed to be said today. "Well, just don't tell the Fat Man about that, okay Hobbes? I don't want him getting any bright ideas."

The great inventor, Alexander Graham Bell, once said, "When one door closes, another opens, but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us."

It took me a long time to look away from the closed doors of my old life. It was a difficult process, one that required years of pain and regret, of loss and discovery. But the first step -- the most important step -- was when I recognized the gift I'd received in the friendship of Bobby Hobbes.

The End
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