Arnaud de Fohn's Incidents




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Invisible Eve

Invisible Eve

Author: Bladewind
Rating: R
Notes: Damn right this is an Arnaud fic.  What else?  Many thanks to Gwenyfahra, who came up with this idea, and to LoganLover, who was always behind me on this. 
Disclaimer: yappa yappa, the usual.  This is a TIM fic.  Arnaud and Darien are property of TPTB, everyone else is my own fevered creation.  I’m not making any money off of this, just read it!
Music:  Possum Kingdom, by the Toadies

Part 1

We were in an underground lab somewhere in the Swiss Alps.  A white, clinical hallway stretched away in front of me, leading to two closed steel doors.  Suddenly a machine gun shoved me in the small of my back, and I stumbled forward. 

“Walk,” a harsh voice commanded.  I walked.  We proceeded down the hallway until we reached the doors, and then one of the men behind me reached out and punched in a security code.  The doors slid open to reveal a vast room, whitely lit.  I saw that a section of it was set up like an operating theatre, and that another part was set up as a lab.  The walls were brushed steel and white tile, and the floor was concrete.  And standing calmly in front of it all was a man I immediately recognized as Arnaud de Fohn, a white lab coat over his clothes. 

“You finally made it here,” he said to the guards, a hint of annoyance in his voice.  “Glad to see you could follow your orders.  Venez,” he said, turning.  The man behind me pushed me, and I resisted him, hoping to break free.  Arnaud heard us scuffling, turned to look at us, then continued walking.  The man shoved the gun into my shoulder blades, and I reluctantly walked forward. 

“Look around you,” Arnaud said to me conversationally.  “This is my little lab.  I’m sure you’ll find it much to your liking after you’ve stayed here for a time.”  As he talked, we walked through the room.  Passing the operating theatre, I struggled violently to break free from the black-clad Neanderthal holding me, but he wrenched my arms around so roughly that tears of pain sprang to my eyes.  Arnaud stopped talking, walked back to me, and grabbed my hair, twisting his hands in it until me pulled my head back.  He put his face very near to mine and said softly, “Stop it.  You really won’t like the consequences if you continue to try to break free.  I don’t want to have to hurt you.”

“Go to hell,” I told him. 

He nodded to another guard, who deliberately drew his hand back and slapped me hard across the face. 

“Alright,” I forced out between clenched teeth.  “Alright.  Oh, God, stop.” 

Arnaud abruptly released me, and I nearly sobbed with relief.  He nodded at my captor, who let go of me roughly.  I stumbled forward, the stood, chin set in defiance.  “Call off the guards.  I promise you that I won’t try to escape as long as you call them off.” 

He considered me for a minute, then nodded.  “Allez,” he said, waving his hand imperiously.  The guards turned and disappeared out through the stainless doors.  When they closed again, the sound had the ominous hint of finality to it. 

“Let me introduce you to the members of my team,” Arnaud said to me.  He took my upper arm in a grip that was deceptively gentle.

“Whoa, whoa, wait a second, Monsieur de Fohn,” I said hotly.  “I want to know what in God’s name the meaning of all this is.  Who gave you the right to kidnap me, drug me, and bring me here!” 

“Sorry about that,” he replied, sounding none-too-apologetic.  “But you were about to travel overseas, and that didn’t fit into my plans at all.  I had to get you while it was still easy to do so.”

“What?”  I exclaimed.  “How did you know that I was going overseas?”

“Oh, it was simple, really,” he said laconically.  “We completed all the work on this project yesterday, except the last stage, and so I’d been checking in on you for the last week to make sure that you wouldn’t slip out of my grasp.  I noticed that you’d withdrawn a large sum of money from your bank account, and the rest was simple detective work.”

“Excuse me,” I said starkly.  “But what the hell do I have to do with this project of yours?” 

He ignored my question and said instead, “This way.  Come meet my fellow scientists.”  His hand tightened its grip on my arm. 

I tossed my hair angrily.  “Fine,” I said, and pinned my green gaze on his broadly muscled back, hoping to bore holes into it.  It didn’t work. 

Arnaud “escorted” me through a small door on the left that I hadn’t noticed.  We passed out of that glaring white room and into a small, softly lit, carpeted waiting room.  Standing around in it were about five people, four men and one woman.  They all had a hard, dangerous look about them, a look not belied in the least by their scientist regalia.  All of them were lean, muscled, and unsmiling.  It was hard to believe these people were scientists, despite their getup of labcoats and ID’s. 

Arnaud said, “May I present to you Andrea Kanovfara, our test subject.  I traveled with her on a train from France to Germany about a year ago, and we had quite a nice time passing the time together.”

I looked at him and said sharply, “Don’t get any ideas in your head, buddy.  All we did was talk.”  I knew that he had to know who I was, but it was a shock to realize that he’d remembered me from a single train ride a year ago.  But then again, I had recognized him at first sight, too. 

He continued, “Mademoiselle Kanovfara, may I introduce to you Monsieur Thibaut--” a tall, blonde man came forward, “Monsieur de Montpar--” a hawk-nosed man, “Herr von Waldenhaus--” a raw-boned German man, “Monsieur Lewis--” an ebony-skinned, stunning black man, “and last, but definitely not least, Demoiselle Bretagne.”  A woman in her mid-thirties came to stand beside Arnaud and placed a hand possessively on his arm.  She looked me over in a slow, contemptuous way, then stood back again.  I was wary of all of them, but I was immediately afraid of her.  Although she was quite attractive, her eyes were flat and dead…but for a moment I thought I caught a glimpse of crimson flame in them. 

“Now,” Arnaud said.  “I think that you should rest for a day before we proceed.”  Bretagne shot me a murderous look, but the others nodded in consent.  “If you please, walk this way then,” he said, steering me out through another door into a small hallway. 

We walked down the hallway, passing doors on either side, until Arnaud stopped beside on and opened it, pushing me into the room.  I found I was in a small bedroom with no windows.  No television, either.  All there was was a bed, a small closet filled with various clothes and a bookcase containing books of all genres.  Off to the side was a small door leading to the bathroom. 

I flopped onto the bed and looked expectantly at Arnaud.  He shut the door and sat down on the side of the bed.  I continued to stare at him, and he reached out and pushed a strand of my dark–blonde hair back.  My heart fluttered, despite my anger. 

“Would you mind telling what the hell you’re doing, Monsieur de Fohn?”  I asked.

“Well, first, you can start by telling me what you know about me,” he ordered. 

“You don’t mean to tell me that you can’t remember what you told me?”

“Oh, I do remember,” he said, “but I want to know what you know.”  He saw that I was about to protest, and said, “Remember, I can always call the guards back in, and we can do this less pleasantly…”

“Alright,” I said quickly, knowing discretion had just become the better part of valor.  I looked at him for a moment, admiring his green eyes, then shook myself.  What was I thinking?  This man had had me accosted, drugged, and brought here at gunpoint.  Still, his eyes hypnotized me…

“We were on a train from Paris to Munich.  We were in the same compartment together, and so we started to talk.  I told you I was going on to Vienna to do a study on classical-period orchestral instruments, especially the Viennese oboes and bassoons, and you told me that you were going to see some friends in Munich.  You said that you were hopeful that they would agree to work with you on a research project of yours, but you weren’t specific about what.  You still haven’t told me, either,” I added darkly. 

I continued, “You said that you were a scientist interested in researching cutting-edge optics, and we got into a discussion of fiber-optics and the latest telescopes developed, the ones with so-called ‘corrective optics’ technology.  From that, it went onto outer space, the various European aerospace programs, and the creationism versus the big-bang theories.  That ran to theology, and then it was time for dinner, so that ended that.  After that, we discussed various musical ideas--tonal columns, evolution of musical instruments, composers, all that.  You asked me about my life as a child and how I became interested in such diverse topics as music and aerospace.  Then I told you how it worked perfectly, because there is a music to the spheres, and you were silent on that.”

“Yes,” he said.  “You really surprised me with that.  I admire your insight on the subject.”  He gave a tight little smile.

I ignored that.  “Then yesterday in Paris I was accosted by some Neanderthals who had broken into my apartment.  They drugged me, and then three hours ago they woke me up.  I suppose it was so that they didn’t have to look suspicious on the tram for carrying an unconscious woman,” I commented dryly.  “We took the tram to a little village and then skied the rest of the way here.  Now can you please tell me what is going on?” 

“No,” he replied, getting up off the bed.  “Now I advise you to go to sleep for a while.  Dinner will be served at eight.  Monsieur Lewis will get you.”

He walked out the door, and I heard the distinctive sound of a key in the lock.  “Dammit,” I swore, then kicked at the space where he had stood.  I decided to take a shower, then climbed into the bed, figuring I would need some sleep.  I still had no idea what was going on, but I did know that whatever it was, I would find out soon enough. 


I woke suddenly.  I looked around the room and had no idea where I was.  Then I remembered the past day and felt my anger flash hotly.  I looked at my watch—seven-thirty.  I had half an hour before dinner. 

I got out of bed and walked to the closet, figuring I could at least see what kind of clothes I was going to wear.  I looked at the sizes, and wasn’t surprised to see that they would all fit me.  Sweaters, Oxford shirts, blue jeans, a pair of leather pants…?  I raised an eyebrow.  What the heck was a pair of leather pants doing in the Swiss Alps?  Then I grinned.  Hey, if it was in the closet, I would wear it. 

I pulled on the pants and tossed a lilac lambswool sweater on.  At least there wasn’t a lack of good clothes around…now for makeup.  I went to the bathroom and looked at the cabinet behind the mirror.  I wasn’t surprised this time, either, to see that the makeup was perfect for me. 

I knew that these things were designed to put me at ease and buy me, but they weren’t going to work, precisely because I knew what they were here for.  But…it has always been my creed to take advantage of anything that’s come my way, under any circumstance.  So, I donned the clothes and makeup with pleasure. 

Suddenly I heard the lock of my door opening, and Lewis walked in.  He had taken off the lab coat and had on black pants and a cream-colored shirt that contrasted nicely with his dark skin.  “Come on,” he said, and grabbed my wrist. 

“Where are we going?”  I asked, although I knew. 

“Dinner,” he replied shortly.  “You know that.” 

Damn, I thought, I’m not going to get anything out of this one.  I sighed, and walked hurriedly to keep him from dragging me down the hallway. 

We arrived in front of yet another door, which opened to a small chamber.  It resembled an English manor dining room.  A fire burned in the fireplace, but something seemed wrong with it.  I looked at it and realized it made no sound, and looked wrong, somehow. 

“It’s an advanced holographic technology,” Arnaud spoke up.  “It’s not a real fire.  Besides, how would we vent one?”

“Nice,” I muttered, impressed in spite of myself.  “You really are interested in optics.”

That comment drew a cold laugh from everyone around the table.  “Mademoiselle Kanovfara, that is not our real research,” Thibaut spoke up.  “For us, it’s a little distraction, nothing more.” 

I looked at them, puzzled.  “I thought that you were researching cutting-edge optics…?” 

“Oh, you make me sick.  Eat.”  Bretagne gave me a look of disdain.  Arnaud shot a tense look at her, then steered me to the table. 

Everyone else already had food on their plates.  Arnaud took my plate and served me.  I noted with relief that he stirred each dish before he put some of its contents on my plate.  I was served pot roast, complete with mashed potatoes, carrots and broth, and cranberry sauce.  I realized that I was famished, and at my food with zest.  It was surprisingly good, and I took seconds, although no one else did.

Suddenly, I felt my limbs growing unnaturally heavy.  Too late I realized that I had been drugged by the food.  The last thought I had was that they must have drugged the food after they had served themselves, and that stirring the dishes ensured I got a good dose…


Sound was restored before sight was.  I heard a male voice commanding, “Wake up, Andrea,” and identified the accent as Swiss.  The voice continued, “I know that you’re coming out of your long slumber.  Open your eyes.” 

I slowly slitted my eyes open, and saw a man standing over me, his dark hair mussed.  I realized that it was Arnaud and quickly turned my head away from the sight of him…then I groaned in pain.  I realized that the back of my skull was throbbing and tender.  I stiffened, which only made the pain worse.  Tears sprang to my eyes, but I refused to cry. 

“Damn,” another voice said.  This one had a German accent…it was von Waldenhaus.  “Give her some codeine.  The pain should have been gone by now, but…”

A needle pierced the inside of my arm.  I started to feel detached from my body, which was, under the circumstances, a good thing. 

“Why isn’t the pain gone yet?  It’s been three weeks,” a third voice said.  It had to be de Montpar. 

Lewis chipped in, “We did an exceptional job.  Minimal loss of blood, minimal rearrangement of tissue, superior grafting…” 

“Would you all just shut up?”  I groaned.  “And turn those lights off, please,” I beseeched them.

A heard a snort.  “You look like death warmed over,” a cold female voice said.  Bretagne.  “I see I did well.” 

Silence.  Then, “What?”  Arnaud asked quietly, dangerously.  “Do you mean to say that you intended that this happen to her?” 

Bretagne stiffened.  “Yes,” she hissed.  “Yes, Denise Bretagne did this.  You must be more idiotic than I thought not to expect it."

“Take her away,” Arnaud said, fury tightly controlled.  “I’ll deal with her later.”  To Bretagne he said coldly, “It’s over, Denise.  You have stepped over the line.” 

The other four men surrounded Bretagne and disappeared with her out a door.  I had the feeling that she wouldn’t survive for much longer.  Arnaud stared at the closed door, his fury evident on his face.  Finally he gained control of himself and sat on the edge of my bed.

“How do you feel?” he asked me. 

“Honestly?”  I asked him.  “Honestly, I rather wish I were dead.  Every muscle of mine is stiff, and the back of my skull is killing me.  Are you happy?”  I spat out the word.   

“No,” he said shortly.  “This was not supposed to happen.  I wanted the operation to be perfect, and I thought it was.  Obviously Bretagne did some sort of damage to you or the gland, and now I have to find out what she did.”  He paused; continued, “And then she will pay for tampering with the project.”  He got up and strode out the door the others had disappeared through. 

I had the feeling that I was missing something, something big, but I was still too drugged to figure it out.  My strength had drained away, and I fell into a dreamless sleep. 


            “Wake up, Mademoiselle Kanovfara,” an unfamiliar male voice said.  I cracked an eye open and saw Thibaut standing over me.  “You need to eat, wash, get some exercise.  Come.”

I groaned.  “There is no way in hell that I’m getting up.  None.” 

“Yes you are,” Thibaut said, voice growing hard.  “You’ll do it yourself, or I will make you do it.  It won’t be pleasant.” 

“Son of a bitch!”  I said angrily.  “I am so sick of you people playing God with my life!”

I felt two arms beneath me roughly lifting me off the bed and standing me on the floor.  Thibaut’s supporting arms let go of me, and I collapsed to the floor.  I had no sense of balance, and my body was frighteningly weak.  My head hit against the floor and I gasped in pain.  Rivers of molten lava poured through my skull. 

“Now,” Thibaut said.  “Get up.  Walk.”

I tried to lift myself off the floor, but couldn’t.  My body refused to move and my head had turned into a fiery mass of pain.  All of the events since my kidnapping weighed down on my spirit, and something inside of me snapped, destroyed.  I suddenly lost my will to fight.  “I can’t,” I whispered, tears finally tracing their way down my cheeks.  “Help me.”

Thibaut stood, looking down at me, letting me wallow in my pain and helplessness.  Finally he bent down to me and pulled me roughly upright.  I bit my lip in pain.  He propelled me across the room and out the door leading to the rest of the complex.  Even though he did not let me fall again, every step jolted agony through me.  Finally, we came to the door of my bedroom.  He pushed me though and then closed the door. 

I fell to the floor and buried my face in the carpet, letting my tears flow freely, trying not to sob.  Any movement caused claws to dig into my skull.

I heard footsteps approach and look up.  Arnaud sat on his heels beside me, a look of concern on his face.  “Don’t move,” he told me.  I felt his arms around me, lifting me up and then placing me gently on the bed.  Then I felt a needle prick, and something flowed into my veins. 

“Morphine,” Arnaud said quietly.  “As much as I can safely give you.  It will start to work quickly.”

I closed my eyes and lay as still as possible.  Soon the pain started to dull, just enough that I was no longer incapacitated.  “Thank you,” I whispered, grateful beyond words.

“I’m going to have to bathe and feed you,” Arnaud told me.  “I know that anything will cause the pain to recur, so don’t fight me.  Once you’ve eaten and been cleaned up, we’re going to anesthetize you again and perform another surgery to correct the grafting flaws Bretagne purposely made.”

He moved away and returned a minute later with a basin of water, a small bottle of liquid soap, and a sponge.  He gently washed my arms, legs, and face, then cleared his throat.  I opened my eyes to look at him.  His strong face had an unidentifiable look on it.  “I’m afraid I need to take off your gown.  I need to ensure that you’re totally clean before we perform surgery.” 

I closed my eyes again, aware only of the pain.  “Whatever,” I said.  “Fine.”

I heard a snipping noise and dimly realized that Arnaud was cutting the ties of my surgical gown.  He gently lifted it off of me, and I felt air on my skin.  He washed my back and torso, carefully avoiding my undergarments.  He said softly, “Last thing.  I’m sorry to do this to you, but it’s imperative that your hair be clean.” 

I tensed in anticipation of the agony washing my hair would bring. 

He carefully lifted me up, pulling the bedspread up with me and wrapping it around me in one quick motion.  He carried me to the bathroom where he wet my hair and lathered it as gently as possible.  Still, stars exploded in front of my eyes.  Then he rinsed my hair out and combed it through.  “You have such lovely hair,” he said softly. 

“Thank you,” I said faintly, “but I’m about to pass out….”

Arnaud took me by both arms and steered me back out to the bed, where he told me to sit.  I did, and then he swung my legs onto the bed.  “Thank you,” I said gratefully. 

“Now to eat,” he told me.  He put two more pillows beneath my head so that I was reclining, then brought a spoonful of…baby food? to my mouth.  I looked at it quizzically. 

“Eat,” he commanded.  “It’s nourishing, and you can’t chew anything in your present state.” 

I opened my mouth, and he fed me.  After I’d finished eating, he pulled a syringe from his jacket and said apologetically, “I need to drug you now, Andrea.  When you wake up again, I promise you things will be better.” 

I nodded, trusting him, and he stuck me with the needle.  The last thing I saw was his handsome face looking down upon me. 


Arnaud thrust Bretagne into a small, empty room, harshly illuminated with arc lights.  She stood in the middle of the room, a hostile, determined look on her face.  Arnaud closed the door angrily and stalked over to her.  He circled around her like a hawk circling prey. 

“Why did you do it?”  Arnaud hissed angrily.  “Why did you tamper with the implantation of the gland?”

Bretagne stood silent, defying his anger.  Arnaud stopped in front of her.  “Answer me!” he yelled. 

Bretagne spat at his feet.  He looked at her, eyes blazing with fury, then slapped her once violently across the face.  She let her head hang, hair straggling across her face. 

“Answer me,” Arnaud whispered, fury barely controlled.  “I gave you one final chance at life, and you lost it.  Tell me what I want to know, and you’ll be eliminated relatively painlessly.”

Suddenly Bretagne looked up, crimson madness flaming in her eyes.  “Yes!  Oh, you offered me so much, didn’t you, de Fohn?  Such a wonderful position.  A lackey, a nobody, working under you, fawning to every word you say.  So you saved my life once, and now you are going to take it away.  You know what?  I don’t care.  Do you think that I care about pain anymore, de Fohn?  About you?  You bring in this girl, some cocky Americaine, and expect me to perform everything perfectly for her?  You’re a fool, de Fohn.  I despise you.”

Arnaud stood silent under the attack.  Now he grabbed Bretagne and kissed her, one hand going to her back.  She struggled to break free from him, then went limp.  Arnaud pulled away from her, disgust clear on his face.  He pulled a now-empty syringe from her neck. 

While she was unconscious, an unidentifiable look came to rest on Arnaud’s features.  Then he smiled slowly and whispered, “Bretagne, you have, through your own jealousy, given me the perfect way to make Andrea mine.” 

Bretagne twitched, and Arnaud composed his face into a look of concern.  In a moment, her eyes opened and he bent over her. 

“Are you all right?” he asked her kindly. 

“What happened?” she asked groggily.

“You passed out for a second; I think you had a small seizure.  I’m sure you’ll be fine in a minute.”  He waited for a moment, then saw her pupils dilate. 

“Now,” he said quietly.  “I applaud your work on the gland, Bretagne.  Tell me how you did it.”

Bretagne’s disoriented face looked up at him.  “It was simple, really.  J’ai pris un peu de ma chair…” she continued to speak in French.  Arnaud listened intently.  


A surgical saw buzzed and monitors beeped.  The scientists gathered around the prone form on the operating table.  One reached up to move the surgical lamp to illuminate the incision. 

“Damn,” one scientist muttered.  “Would you look at that.” 

They all peered at the brain tissue exposed.  A silver growth was implanted on it.  Its extensions spread throughout the surrounding tissues.  The brain was healthy, as was the growth, but where the two interfaced it was dark red and inflamed. 

“Huh,” another muttered.  His dark hand pointed.  “The gland is healthy, and the rest of the brain is doing fine, but look where the grafts are.  The brain is rejecting the tissue…how?  The gland was grown using her cells.” 

“Bretagne,” a German said.  “How did she manage the delayed tissue rejection?”

“Simple, really,” another scientist said.  “She grafted a bit of her own flesh into the gland.  As it grafted to the brain, the body recognized her foreign tissue in the gland and started to attack it.” 

“I assume we will just cut the tainted tissue away,” one said.

“Yes, then repeat the grafting process….”


“She’s coming out of it,” a voice said tensely. 

“Andrea?  Can you hear me?” a Swiss voice asked.  “Come on, come on,” he muttered to himself. 

I twisted my head to get away from the voices.  All I wanted was to pass back out into unconsciousness. 

Suddenly cold water hit my face.  I gasped in shock and my eyes flew open. 

“Good,” one of them said. 

“How do you feel?”  Arnaud asked me.

“I feel like a shot-up Mafioso,” I said weakly. 

“Your head, girl,” de Montpar demanded.  “Is the pain gone?”           

I slowly sat up and looked around me.  I was in the huge white room, on a pallet.  I tentatively touched a hand to the back of my head and discovered a large bandage there.  “No pain,” I said, smiling with wonder.  “You did it.”  I held out my arms to Arnaud, and he hugged me. 

Arnaud withdrew from the embrace and motioned the other four men out of my earshot.  They conferred for a minute, and then von Waldenhaus walked over to me. 

“Can you stand?” he asked me.  I stretched my legs out and felt how weak they were.  “No,” I said helplessly. 

He nodded.  “Didn’t expect it.  Your body has been completely inactive for four and a half weeks.  I have to wash and feed you.  Come on, back to the room.”  He picked me up and carried me through the side door, the waiting room beyond, and down the hallway.  We came to the door of my room, which he opened.  He placed me on the bed. 

“There’s been rather of lot of my being the helpless female recently,” I cracked wanly.  Von Waldenhaus turned to look at me, surprised.  Realizing I meant no hostility, he smiled tentatively. 

“Well, come on,” I said.  “Feed me…just please, please, no baby food this time!” 

His smile turned into a full-fledged grin.  “Actually,” he told me, “They’ve graduated you from baby food to…veal Parmesan.  Feast,” he smiled, and brought a forkful to my mouth.   

I sighed with pleasure.  It tasted marvelous, and it felt so good to eat again.  I smiled at von Waldenhaus, who gave me a little grin.  “Wonderful,” I informed him.

“Yes, well, we just went out back and killed the cow,” he said, then laughed.  “Just kidding.” 

I made quick work of the meal.  “I feel better than I have in weeks,” I told him.  “Thanks.”

“Well, I have to bathe you now, unless you feel like you can take care of yourself,” he said to me.  “Are you able to stand now?” 

“Help me up,” I asked him.  He grabbed my hand and pulled me up.  I stood, my legs still weak.  “I don’t know…” I let go of his arm and tried to stand, then quickly grabbed it again. 

“Not quite yet,” I said ruefully.  “If I have something to hold onto I’ll be all right.” 

“Just lean against the shower wall,” he told me.  “I’m going to take these dishes away and be right back.” 

I started my shower and heard von Waldenhaus leave.  Soon I heard him come back in.  I called out, “Glad you’re back.  Wash my hair for me, please?” 

“Certainly,” a voice said.  It wasn’t von Waldenhaus…it was Arnaud.  His hands buried themselves in my hair and he lathered it carefully, then rinsed it out.  He combed it straight with his fingers.  Then he took up the soap and washed my back for me, slowly caressing my shoulders and massaging my muscles.  His hands traced my old surgical scar down my back and along my hip.  I closed my eyes in pleasure.  I could feel the heat in his hands, and smiled in satisfaction. 

I turned the tap off and said, “Towel, please.”  Arnaud handed me a fluffy white towel, which I wrapped around myself.  He put his hand on my shoulder and turned me around to face him.  My strength finally gave out and I collapsed forward.  He caught me and guided me over to the bed. 

“You need to rest,” he told me.  I lay back on the bed, still wrapped in my towel.  “Wait, though—” he paused.  “You must dry your hair and get dressed.  Here,” he said, walking over to the closet and pulling out a pair of flannel pajamas.  He turned back to me and saw that I had already closed my eyes.  He sighed, and pulled the bedspread over me.  Then he turned out the light and left me to sleep.


I was in a white space.  Lying in front of me was a slaughtered, mutilated cow, its blood spilled everywhere.  Its ribs were exposed, its guts torn out.  And then I noticed the bugs.  Camel crickets jumping, crawling, seething everywhere.  Roaches crawling inside the cow.  Tiny, tiny spiders scurrying everywhere—across the cow, the other bugs, and onto me in a cold wave.  I screamed…


I sat bolt upright in bed.  I ran a hand through my hair, then realized that I couldn’t see my arm, not even an outline.  I waved my hand in front of my eyes, but couldn’t see it.  That didn’t make sense, because light was coming in from under the door.  I got up, feeling panicked.  I walked to the bathroom, stood in from of the mirror, and switched on the light. 

I wasn’t there.  I didn’t see myself.  At all.  It was like I was invisible. 

I screamed, and then there was a flaking noise.  Something silver shimmered to the floor and disappeared, and I could see myself again.  I realized that I wasn’t wearing a thing, and since my scream was loud enough to wake the dead, someone would be in my room very soon. 

I hurriedly got dressed and was just buttoning the last button of my shirt when Lewis burst through my door.  “What is it?” he demanded. 

“I had a nightmare,” I said breathlessly.  “I woke up and realized I couldn’t see myself, and then I looked in the mirror, and I wasn’t there.  Something silver fell off of me, and then I could see myself again.”  I looked at him, frightened and bewildered.  “What’s happening?” 

“Come with me,” Lewis said.  “It’s time you learned what’s happened.”  He pushed me forward and I stumbled, my legs still weak. 

We walked down the hallway to the dining room I’d been in once before.  A fire was again burning in the fireplace, and everyone was seated around the table.  Thibaut, de Montpar, von Waldenhaus, and Arnaud at the head.  At his left was an empty chair, which he motioned me to sit in.  Lewis sat down next to de Montpar. 

“So,” I said, looking around at everyone.  “Obviously you knew that this was going to happen.”  I waited for a moment, but nobody spoke.  “Would you mind telling me is going on?”

Silence.  I turned to von Waldenhaus.  “Can you tell me?”  I asked him.  “I thought at least you were decent.” 

He looked back at me, a pained expression on his face.  I turned my head, disgusted.

“Anyone?”  I said.  I turned to Arnaud, hoping he would tell me.  “What is going on?”  I asked.  “What did you do to me?”  I held a hand out to him beseechingly. 

He sighed.  “To make a long story short, we implanted a gland in your brain.  That’s— ”

“What!”  I yelped, jumping up from my chair.  “Excuse me, did I just hear you correctly?  Did you just say you put a gland into my brain?”  I started pacing, feeling a little nervous.  Ever since I’d had scoliosis surgery as a child, I’d been leery of anything surgically put into my body. 

“Yes, you did.  We constructed a biosynthetic gland using your cells for the tissue, and grafted it into the back of your cerebrum.” 

By now I was feeling panicked and frightened.  Suddenly I felt what seemed to be a wave of icy spiders crawl over my body and…I turned invisible.

Silence.  Then, “Fantastique,” Thibaut said quietly.  De Montpar murmured, “It works.  It actually works.”  Lewis wore a small, satisfied smile, and von Waldenhaus looked on, well pleased. 

Arnaud spoke.  “As you see, gentlemen, the quicksilver gland is working beautifully, just as it did when I helped implant it in Fawkes.  You see she is completely invisible to the naked eye.  Andrea,” he spoke to the room at large, “quicksilver will not harm you in any way at all.  You’re completely safe.  Now, I want you calm down, lower your heartrate.  I know you can do that, you told me that you’ve practiced biofeedback since you were twelve.  Are you calm now?” 

I heaved a large sigh and did as he commanded, willing my heart to slow.  I started to feel calmer.  “Yes,” I told him.

“Alright.  Now I want you to give your arm a flick.  Go on.  Do it,” he told me. 

I shook my arm, and suddenly it became visible as that same silvery stuff fell off of it.  I flicked my other arm, then my legs, and then my head.  More of that shimmery silver fell off of me, and I became completely visible.  I realized that I felt much…freer after I became visible. 

“Dammit, Arnaud, tell me what you’ve done to me.”  I sat back down in my chair. 

He drew in a deep breath.  “What you’ve just experienced is the result of the gland we implanted in your brain.  Stay calm,” he told me as I tensed.  He continued, “It secretes a substance called quicksilver, which bends light and renders anything covered in it invisible.  When your adrenaline levels are elevated, that tells the gland to secrete a large level of quicksilver, which then comes out the pores of your skin, covering you, and turning you invisible.”

“Oh, okay, thanks.  I completely understand now.  Can you put that into English, please?”  I stood back up and glared at him.

“It might work better if you ask the questions and we answer,” von Waldenhaus spoke up.  Arnaud shot a warning glance at him, but nodded.

“How does this quicksilver do its thing?”  I demanded.  “I mean, you said it’s activated by increased adrenaline levels, so does that mean that every time I become frightened I’m going to disappear?” 

“Yes, it’s activated by increased adrenaline, but it can also be activated through biofeedback.  Once you learn to control it, you can become invisible at will.  The nightmare you had was evidence of the adrenaline-trigger.  Mutilated cows make such a wonderful dream, hmm?” 

“Whoa, wait a second.  How did you know that my nightmare was about a mutilated cow?” 

Thibaut spoke up.  “We put a very, very small amount of LSD into the veal you ate, just enough to cause nightmares.  Von Waldenhaus made the comment about killing the cow, and that ensured you would have a nightmare, which would trigger the gland.”

“Oh, that was nice,” I said.  “Actually…” I paused, thoughtful, “that was beautifully simple.  Very nice,” I said appreciatively.  “So.  Let’s start at the beginning.  I assume that the reason you accosted me in Paris was so that I could be your test subject for this gland.”  Arnaud nodded.  I continued, “You drugged my food the first meal I ate.  I’m assuming that in the time between that and when I woke up with a splitting headache, you implanted the gland in my brain.  However, there weren’t supposed to be any side effects to the surgery, but there were.  Now, first of all.  How long was I unconscious, and what did you guys screw up so that I had a hot poker stabbing through my skull?” 

Arnaud said, “Well, you’d been unconscious for three weeks when you first woke.  By that time, your body should have healed enough that so that you could, with a little care, act normally.  But Bretagne did not intend for that to happen.  She implanted some of her own tissue into the gland’s outer extensions.  After a week or two, once the gland thoroughly grafted with your brain, your body recognized her foreign proteins and started an autoimmune response against it.  The pain caused in your head was due to severe inflammation.  We preformed a second surgery to excise the tainted gland tissue from your body and re-grafted the rest of the gland back onto your brain.  A week and a half later, you woke for the second time.” 

“Why?”  I asked, disgusted.  “Why did she do that, and what happened to her?”

Lewis spoke up.  “Bretagne’s always been a bit unstable.  It seems that she took and immediate dislike to you and decided to cause you some agony.  We really don’t know why she did so, considering that she knew she would be…eliminated from the team.” 

“Ah,” I said.  “I see.”  I was silent for a second, thinking about Bretagne’s betrayal.  And all the physical pain she had caused me.  “Bitch,” I whispered.  “I wish you could have let me have at her.” 

“Yes.  Well, she has paid the ultimate price for it,” Arnaud said softly, walking over to me and enfolding me with his arms.  I leaned against him. 

Then I pulled away and from his comforting embrace and paced.  “So.  Then what?” 

Von Waldenhaus quirked an eyebrow.  “More specific, please,” he said.

“This quicksilver.  Explain it to me.  Tell me how it works.  I want to know about this.  Tell me about the gland.” 

Arnaud spoke up.  “You will know all about it, I promise you.  But first, you must eat, keep your strength up, and you’ve got to get a shot of antibiotics, as preventative.” 

I looked at him.  “Sure, as long as you promise me not to drug me again.”  Then I grinned.  “You know how useful this little gland could be?” 

He nodded his head slowly.  “Exactly.  I’m glad you can understand that…Fawkes never did.” 

“Food, please,” I reminded him.  “And let’s get this shot over with, too.” 


“Now I want you to control yourself.  Calm your heart.  Relax your hold on your body,” Lewis coached me.  “Now shake off,” he said. 

I shivered and shed my second, invisible skin.  Quicksilver flaked off of me with a slight metallic sound and disappeared on the floor. 

“Good,” Lewis said.  “By now you should be feeling comfortable in activating the gland and stopping the flow of quicksilver.  We’ve practiced enough,” he added under his breath. 

“I want to move on to a faster way to silver and desilver.  Most of it is just going to be practice.  Just remember that strong emotions, especially those of guilt and anxiety, will interfere with silvering.  Anything with your ‘fight or flight’ response will cause you to silver unless you maintain control.”

“Okay,” I nodded.  “I’ll remember that.  You said there was a faster way to desilver?” 

“As I said, most of it is just going to be practice in biofeedback, getting a handle on your body faster and faster.  You may eventually learn to trigger and stop the gland mentally.  You’re just going to have to experiment to find what it is that works for you.” 

“Alright.  I can work with that.  Thanks,” I told Lewis. 

Arnaud walked into the room.  “Been working on quicksilvering?” he asked me. 

I nodded.  “I’m getting better.  Lewis has really helped,” I said.

“Good,” Arnaud said.  “Come outside and show me what you’ve learned.” 

He and I walked through the room, out the two steel doors, and down the long hallway leading to the outside, the first view I’d had of the inside of the compound.  I reflected on my reactions of then and now.  I’d really changed.

"You know, Monsieur de Fohn,” I said, “When I was brought here, I was angry and upset over being kidnapped, and in such a manner.  And then I was shocked, horrified and enraged to find out that you had implanted a gland into my brain without my knowledge or consent.”  I paused.  “But, Arnaud, as time went on, I realized that this gland was one hell of an opportunity and I should take advantage of it.  It didn’t make any sense to waste such a gift.”

“Very good,” he said approvingly.  “You understand the gland.”   

I continued, “My initial impressions of the scientists, all of you, were wrong.  You know, I really am thankful for your kidnapping me, now.  You knew that I would never have gone along with the gland if I knew about it, so you did me a favor and put it in for me.”  Arnaud smiled at that. 

We reached the outside doors and walked through them.  It was about sixty degrees outside—nice weather to work in.  The sun was shining, and an early spring wind was blowing.  We stopped under a pine. 

“So.  Show me what you’ve learned with quicksilver,” Arnaud prompted. 

I obliged him by quicksilvering from the head down in a slow wave.  “That was warm-up,” I told him, becoming visible from the feet up. 

“Can you silver faster?” he asked me.

“Sure,” I told him, and immediately disappeared.  I walked silently to him and jumped to inches away from his face, simultaneously desilvering. 

“Nice,” he said, smiling, admiring the ‘view.’ 

I walked back away and held out a hand, silvering first the tips of each finger, then working my way up my arm as if I was pulling on a glove.  I trailed my invisible hand down my other arm, leaving 4 lines of quicksilver and then trailed it up to my pointer finger, wrapping a line of quicksilver around it like a snake.  Then I shivered my skin and it fell off delicately. 

Arnaud looked on appreciatively.  “You are an artist,” he told me. 

I flicked quicksilver at him, which jeweled his hair like diamonds.  He caught my hand and stared into my eyes.  My heart beat faster, and I was about to quicksilver out of sight.

I got to my upper arms, and then it stopped.  I was left as an armless visible woman.  “Damn,” I swore quietly. 

Arnaud quirked an eyebrow at me, silently laughing to himself.  He regarded me frankly.  I recovered the best I could—as I shed the quicksilver I sprinkled it over him, working from the tips of my fingers up my arms.  He gave me a look.  “Well done,” he said. 

“Oh, I have to stop.  I don’t know if you realize it, but it is work to go see-through,” I sat down abruptly. 

“Come on,” he said, pulling me up.  “I’ve got to give you a shot.  Unless you receive certain trace elements, your body is going to develop deficiencies.  And you’re still on anti-rejection drugs, just to make sure that the gland will graft thoroughly to your cerebrum.”

“Ah.  Marvelous,” I said dryly, and strode beside Arnaud as we walked back to the lab.


We were in my bedroom.  Arnaud had walked me there from dinner, where we had been discussing quicksilver and the gland. 

“So why did you pick me to be the lucky one given the gland?”  I asked him.

“I’m glad to see that you’re so enthusiastic about it,” Arnaud said, reaching out to touch my hair.  “Fawkes wasn’t, ever.  I made a mistake about him—” 

“Who is this Fawkes I’ve heard you talk about?”  I asked. 

“A long story, one I will tell you eventually.  But as to why I chose you, I knew that you would accept the gland, use it.  You’re intelligent and beautiful…and our natures are the same,” he said softly.

“I thank you,” I replied, placing a hand on his.  “I owe everything to you.” 

And then I quicksilvered his hand.  He looked, startled, then tumbled me onto the bed, grinning.  We tussled, and his hand abruptly became visible again.  Arnaud ended up flat on his back and I leaned over him.  Then I held up a hand, silvering only my fingertips.  I traced a finger slowly across his ear, his jaw, his neck, leaving a thin, glistening line of quicksilver.  My other hand, warm, followed.  Arnaud’s eyes locked with mine, darkening to the exact same shade as the Atlantic. 

“You have my eyes,” he whispered.  I held up a quicksilvered palm, reflecting his eyes, my eyes, back at him before it went invisible.  Then I flicked it off casually.  

He closed his eyes at the sensations as my hands, warm and cold, continued to wander lightly over his body.  He brought up his strong hands to bury them in my hair, then slid them down to my shoulders, my back, and came to rest at my hips. 

Suddenly he flipped, and I landed on my back, Arnaud over me.  He bowed his head to plant a line of feather kisses along my collarbones, and then nipped lightly.  I closed my eyes and sighed in pleasure.  It had been so long since I’d been treated like this…

I placed a hand on his chest and quicksilvered the front of his shirt to reveal his muscular pecs beneath.  Then I let thin streamers of quicksilver flow over me.  I glittered in silver.  Arnaud looked on, a smile on his face.  I placed a warm hand on his shirt, playing with the invisible fabric.  I could feel his heart beat faster in anticipation. 

Slowly, oh so slowly I unbuttoned his shirt, planting my lips on the hollow of his throat and following my hands.  I traced an invisible fingertip on the cuts of his muscles, and he shivered.  His hands cradled my back and drew me nearer to him, and I flicked a bit of quicksilver over him.  It landed on his hair, dappling silver.  He kissed the skin of my throat, tongue darting out to tease me.

“You taste like cloves,” he told me.  I bit his shoulder, and then kissed away the pain.  He traced a finger down my side.  I placed a finger to his, quicksilvering each of his fingertips, and he traced them along my ear, following it with his hot mouth. 

Suddenly I pulled him to me, wanting his mouth to be on mine, wanting to taste him, wanting to feel him.  He kissed me, tongue thrusting searchingly to discover the secrets of my mouth.  Our breath mingled as we melted into each other, desire overwhelming us.  Arnaud’s hands were everywhere, and his touch burned like fire.  I let my hands wander south to his pants and started to tease with his belt. 

Arnaud broke away from me, chest heaving.  He drew in a deep breath and collected himself, struggling.  He stood up and drew me with him over to the mirror.  We stood in profile, him behind me, naked to the waist, passion on his face, and me, fully dressed, hair tousled.  His hands, wrapped possessively around my waist, took the hem of my shirt and pulled it up slowly off of me.  Then his hands caressed me, trailing up to my bra, teasing me. 

I tried to turn to face him, but he held me still.  His hands trailed down the inside of my arms to my hands.  He caught my hands and then turned me to face him.  He brought his mouth down to the pale skin of the inside of my wrist, and oh-so-lightly licked me there.  His tongue traced my veins lingeringly, and I made a line of quicksilver follow.  Soon I was a latticework of silver and skin all the way to my collarbones.  I could feel the heat of Arnaud’s body on mine.  I placed a hand on his thigh, moving my pressure upwards. 

Suddenly Arnaud pushed me back onto the bed, landing between my legs.  His mouth kissed my stomach, my thighs.  My quicksilver followed his mouth.  I was turning into a crystal of silver and invisibility. 

I could feel our rising desire for each other pushing to new heights.  We kissed desperately, hands everywhere, quicksilver shimmering on our bodies…