Arnaud de Fohn's Incidents




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The Past is Prologue

Invisible Eve

 The Past is Prologue

Author:  Andrea Dangelewicz, a.k.a. Blade
Rating: G
Notes:  I’ve always wanted to write an Arnaud/Claire fic.  The connection between the two of them seemed so natural.  Arnaud’s dream sequence is a flashback, spanning about five years.
Disclaimer:  I’m not making any money off of this fic, all characters are the property of TPTB.  It’s a freakin’ fanfic!  Shut up and read it! 
Music:  Kryptonite, by Three Doors Down

Darien burst into the lab and sat his lanky, six-foot-something frame onto a countertop.  “Keep, you’ve gotta give me a shot.  Look at the tattoo.”  He extended his wrist, showing the snake was half-red.

“Darien, you don’t need a shot!  You’ve got at least another day if you don’t use quicksilver,” his Keeper protested.  “You know I don’t want you building up a resistance to the Counteragent.”  She spoke with real concern in her voice.

“That’s the problem, see.  I need to go see-through in the next day,” Darien explained, running a hand through his hair. 

Claire asked, “Why?  I know the Official hasn’t given you another assignment, and you know you’re not supposed to use quicksilver just because you don’t want to be seen.” 

Darien sighed.  “Claire, can’t I have any fun at all?”  Suddenly, he quicksilvered his head and said, “See?  Great Halloween stunt.  Scare the crap outta everyone!”

His Keeper sighed and said, “Darien, you’re just using up your time.  Come on, man, be reasonable.”  She heard quicksilver flaking and saw Darien’s head reappear.

“Hey, how have you been coming on research on getting this little friend of mine out of my head?”  Darien asked. 

“Oh, glad you asked!”  Claire perked up.  “As a matter of fact, I was working on that before you came in.  I’ve been analyzing the chemical makeup of quicksilver and trying to modify it to get rid of madness.  I’ve got a couple ideas on how to do that, but…”

“But what?”  Darien asked. 

“Oh, I don’t want to say too much and get your hopes up falsely.  A solution, a real one, is still a long time away, Darien.” 

He sighed.  “I figured as much.  Oh well.  At least you’re getting somewhere.”

Claire came to stand by Darien and put a hand on his shoulder.  “I’m sorry,” she said, “I know how much you want this to end.” 

“Thanks, Claire.”  Darien looked a little black, then changed thoughts.  “So what about that shot, huh?” he asked hopefully.

“Oh, get out of here!”  Claire scolded.


Claire peered through the microscope, looking intently at the slide.  She frowned, pulled back her blonde hair swinging across her cheek, and stood up.  She walked across the lab, drew a sample of some opaque liquid, and put it on to heat over a Bunsen burner.  As she watched it change color, she looked up quickly and glanced around the lab.  Everything was in order; no one was in it except her.

“Darien?” she called, “Are you in here?”  No response.  “That’s odd,” she murmured.  “I thought I felt someone come in.”  She turned back to her work…and then heard a dark chuckle.

 “So, Keeper,” Arnaud said, his Swiss accent smooth.  “I see you are being such an illustrious little girl, Claire.  Searching so diligently for a way to take the gland out, or stop quicksilver madness.” 

Claire turned and then froze, one hand holding the test tube.  She stared at Arnaud.  “What are you doing here?” she whispered, horrified.  Arnaud walked over to her, plucked the test tube from her hand, and stared into her eyes, green meeting brown.  Then he slowly and deliberately dropped the tube from his hand, letting it shatter into a million pieces.  “We can’t have this now, can we?” he whispered.

Claire finally yanked her eyes away from Arnaud’s gaze and walked tensely to the other end of the lab.  Arnaud said amiably, “You knew that I would never let my pet project just be destroyed, didn’t you?  I knew I had to keep watch of Fawkes’ Keeper, make sure she stays in line.” 

Claire said coldly, “Get out of here.  I’ll call security.”

 “Oh, no you won’t, Claire.  You don’t have the heart, and besides, I cut the phone lines and took your cell phone.  It’s just the two of us now.”  At that, Claire gave a little jerk. 

She paced restlessly around the lab.  Arnaud called after her, “Don’t bother, Keeper.  Whatever you’re thinking of doing, it won’t work.” 

“What do you mean by that?” she asked him sharply.  Arnaud simply looked at her with a small smile playing across his handsome face.  After a pause, she said stiffly, “You know that the only thing I do for Darien is to give him shots of the Counteragent.”

“Ah, but you’re lying,” he sighed.  “I’ve been watching you, Claire, ever since the beginning.”  At that, Claire shivered.  He continued, “You obeyed my orders for a while at first, but then, Fawkes got to you with his ‘charm’ and you forgot your purpose.”  He snarled, “The only one who affects what you do is me!”  He gained control of himself and continued in his normal, pleasant voice, “What were you doing just now, Claire?  I know you were trying to find a permanent antidote to quicksilver madness.”

Arnaud strode over to where Claire was standing and stood in front of her, very close.  He put out his arms and pinned her against the wall.  She stared up into his face, fear and defiance warring on her face with…what?  Some other emotion.  All of a sudden all the spine went out of her, and she slumped, defeated. 

 “Alright,” she sighed.  “What do you want to know?  You know I can’t defy you.”  She thought, If only I can convince him that I’m still totally on his side…

“Well,” Arnaud said, “You can start by telling me what you were doing just now.  And don’t lie, because I’ll know.”

“How?”  Claire demanded.  “Have you been reading my files?”

 “As a matter of fact, I have,” Arnaud said easily.  “I know what you’ve been doing for the last three months.  I have all your files…right here,” he said, holding up a cd.  “This disc has all the data that you’ve compiled, all your work.  I know that you’ve not been following my orders.” 

“But I have!”  Claire protested.  “I started by giving Darien a little too much Counteragent each shot so that he’d build up a resistance to it.  Once I developed a less effective Counteragent, I gave that to him instead.” 

“Good,” Arnaud said, drawing the word out.  “Let Fawkes stay just a little closer to madness.  The prick.  I trust you didn’t provide the Counteragent too quickly your first day at the Agency.”

“Why, don’t you know?”  Claire challenged.

“As a matter of fact, I don’t.  I was a bit short-sighted in that my greatest desire was to get out of the country and recover from my wounds.  However, you didn’t know Fawkes then, so I assume you followed my directions.” 

The Keeper sighed.  “No, I didn’t tell the Official I already had it until the right amount of time had passed to seem that I’d synthesized it.  While I was waiting, I followed your theories on how to make the Counteragent less effective.  They were right, quite brilliant, actually.”  

“Thank you,” Arnaud said.  “A compliment from a beautiful, intelligent woman like you.  I’m flattered.”  His eyes met hers again and held.

Again Claire broke the tableau, though it seemed that she didn’t want to.  “What else do you want to know?” she asked. 

“Nothing, right now,” Arnaud said.  “I just wanted to remind you of your true purpose here.  Remember, you work for me.  Don’t fall under Fawkes’ charm.  You are mine.”  He grabbed her arms and held her tightly, his breathing a trifle harsh.  Claire couldn’t move.  “I’ll be back to talk to you again, Claire,” he said softly, slightly menacingly.  And then, all of a sudden, he released her and practically ran from the lab.  Claire didn’t move.  She could still feel his hands on her arms, see his green eyes boring into her.  Then she dropped into the nearest chair and stared blankly into space.  She was clearly shaken.


Arnaud burst into his hotel room.  He stalked over to the table, took a glass and poured himself a double.  He walked over to the window and looked out across the city, agitated.  He took a drink, calmed, and stared away into the distance, his eyes focused on the past.  He was thinking of Claire…

It had been easy to break into the lab one night and install an inconspicuous electronic bug on the wall.  Now, his eyes followed Claire, watching her slim figure as she walked around the lab, working so busily on different projects.  He watched the way she pushed her long golden hair away with her slender hands, and longed to touch her.  He saw the look of concern on her face for Darien when he suffered from quicksilver madness.  He watched her when she gave Darien his shots of Counteragent and suppressed his jealousy. 

Arnaud followed Claire when she left the lab to go to different scientific forums, to make sure that she didn’t divulge any information about the QS project.  And he watched her when it wasn’t necessary…he saw her go home every day, looked at her from a distance when she was running errands.  It was easy for him to get into her house and lab and rifle through her papers, seeing what she’d done.  He’d copied all her computer files on the project and reviewed them.  He was impressed by her ingenuity. 

“Oh, Claire,” he whispered.  “You and I should be together.  We are the same.”  He finished his drink and poured another one.  His first reunion with Claire had left him emotionally drained.  He finished this drink, took a shower, and collapsed into bed, falling into the dark pit of sleep.


In dreams… A lithe young woman walked toward him, tall and golden, with a determined stride.  “Hello,” she said, with a crisp British accent.  “I’m Claire Merridan, and I’ve been assigned by Professor Edalb to be your lab partner.  When do we start to work?”  She shifted impatiently and held up a sheaf of papers.  “The sooner we get to work on this project, the better.”

Arnaud looked into her clear, open face.  He put out his hand, then took a better look, and paused.  He collected himself and said, “Hello.  Yes, I’m Arnaud de Fohn.  Here, sit.”  He cleared off the papers next to him on the bench.  “I’m afraid the professor has given us both too much and too little information to work with,” Arnaud said ruefully. 

Claire nodded.  “Well, when do you want to get started?” she asked, looking straight at him.

“How about now?”  Arnaud suggested.  “Come on, let’s go to the cafeteria and start discussing this over lunch.”  He picked up his papers, put them into his bag, and slung it across his back.  Claire fell into step beside him and they walked across the green, through the high iron gates, and off the university campus.  As they walked, they talked about their pasts.  Claire glanced at Arnaud and smiled, amused at a childhood story he told.  He smiled back, feeling happier than he had for a long time. 

Arnaud stood in the lab, frowning over a complex molecular model.  “Claire,” he called, “come look at this, will you?  I just found something interesting…” 

Claire walked over to stand beside him and rested a soft hand on his muscular shoulder.  “What?” she asked.  “What’s so intriguing?” 

Arnaud turned to look at her, model in hand.  “Look at this, Claire.  Look at the atoms…they’re in the alignment that can theoretically bend electromagnetic radiation.   We have to synthesize more of this and test it to find out all its properties.” 

Claire studied the model.  “You know what?  I think you’re right.  This could prove to be very, very interesting.”  She smiled at Arnaud.

Arnaud reached behind him, put the model down, and said softly, “Yes, but not nearly as interesting as you.”  He caught Claire around her waist with his strong hands and pulled her nearer to his lean form. 

  In the dim restaurant, the candlelight shimmered on Claire’s gold hair and emphasized the strong planes of Arnaud’s face.  Claire’s hand played with her wineglass as she laughed at something Arnaud said, and he looked at her with something like love in his eyes…

 … Arnaud looked up suddenly, startled by a loud thud in the house.  “Fauvene?” he called.  “Was that you?”  Getting no response, he climbed the stairs to the open second story.  Nothing seemed amiss; no vases had fallen, his piano music was still arranged as he had left it…and then he saw the diaphanous curtains billowing outward, heard the bath running.  He walked over the thick white carpet to the bathroom, calling, “Fauvene, why are you getting ready now?  We don’t have to leave for the scientific recognition ceremony for another three hours!”  Still no response.  Now worried, he opened the bathroom door…and was confronted with his sister lying in bath of blood.  She had a knife stabbed through her chest, and on the counter, weighted down by a soap, was a note:

Stop Your Research Now Before We Kill Claire.

            “No!!” Arnaud cried.  “No!  Fauvene, stop this trick!  Fau!”  He gathered her up into his arms, sobbing. …

 “She was the last of my family,” Arnaud said dully to Claire.  “She and I were as close as brother and sister can be…she was almost like my mother again.  And now they’ve finally killed her, too.” 

Claire pulled Arnaud to her, wanting only to comfort him.  “What about Huiclos?” she asked.  “You still have him.”

“Fauvene was the last of the family with the true blood.  Huiclos is a weak-willed little boy who has no concept of family obligation.  And the worst thing is,” he continued, “is that the note threatened you, your life!” 

Suddenly, his demeanor changed.  His eyes became steely hard, and he pulled away from Claire.  “I’m going to kill the bastard who killed my sister,” he said, low and angry.  “He’d better pray I don’t find him, because when I do, I’m going to feed him his body, piece by piece, and make him drink his blood for wine…” 

Claire looked at him.  “I know,” was all she said.

 “Get away from me, Claire.  Leave, now,” Arnaud commanded. 

She looked at him, not comprehending what he was saying. 

“GO!” he shouted.

Claire paused a moment more, then whirled on her heel and strode angrily from the room.  Arnaud watched her leave, a pained expression on his face …


Still in the lab, Claire sat, slumped in her chair.  She felt numb.  And after a while, when she started to come out of her stupor, she felt…too much.  She wanted to kick, scream, curse, break something, and most of all, she wanted to cry.  Into her well-ordered life Arnaud had dropped back in, and it made her head spin from all her conflicting emotions. 

She finally got up, picked up her work, and left the lab for home.  She fed Pavlov, tried to eat a little dinner for herself, and couldn’t.  Her gut was roiling with emotions; there was no way she could eat or sleep until she calmed back down a bit.  So, she put on a jogging suit and sneakers and went out, telling Pavlov, “You guard the house for me, little one.  Don’t let anyone in!”

She ran down the street and into memories…


Remembering… She fumed, remembering how Arnaud had told her to leave at the funeral.  He hadn’t contacted her since, and a week had already passed.  At the time when he most needed comfort and love, he had turned away from her, refusing her.  And still he did not call, or drop by.  And then she shuddered, remembering that cold, hard look in his eyes that was so unlike him.  She remembered his words, “I’ll make him drink his blood for wine…” Claire felt a cold finger of fear trace down her back.  She was afraid for him, and for the first time, afraid of him. 

Claire flopped back onto the bed and stared at the sworls on the white ceiling, feeling numb.  She looked back into the past of a year ago, and remembered how happy she had been with Arnaud.  She remembered the days in the lab, working on the molecule they had coined “quicksilver,” and nights out at the opera or in a tiny restaurant, or just one or the other’s apartment, hanging out together.  A tear trickled down her cheek. 

For a year, now, hadn’t had any contact at all with him.  Her social life had devolved into almost nothing, as she spent almost all her time in the lab or other science-related functions.  “Arnaud,” she whispered.  “Where are you?  Why did you make me leave you like that?  Where are you now?”

Tears rolled down her cheeks…

She strode down the white clinical hallway, pulled out her I.D., and swiped it through the door lock.  It beeped, and the door opened with a hiss as the seal was broken.  She strode into a lab, hardly even noticing the governmental insignia on the wall proclaiming, “Department of Defense Special Research Unit.”  She glanced at her desk, saw that another manila folder had been delivered, and went to open it.  Her eyes inadvertently looked at the framed picture of Arnaud on her desk.  In a sudden flash of anger, she took the picture and turned it face down on her desk.  Curse you, she thought.  Damn you for leaving me and turning me away for all these years.  She turned back to her work, a new look on her face—one of anger and steel will.  Her iron hand had just lost its velvet glove. …

 … A phone rang shrilly.  Claire reached over absently to pick it up.  “Dr. Merridan speaking,” she said.

“Hello, yes, Claire?  Can you come down to my office please?”  She recognized the voice of the head of the DOD Special Research, Jacob Holmes. 

“Of course.  One minute,” she replied.

She strode into the office.  “What is it?” she asked. 

“Claire, sit,” Holmes commanded.  “I have a rather large surprise for you.  You know about Project Quicksilver, don’t you?”

“Definitely, sir.  I was one of the researchers who developed the molecule.  What of it?”  Claire asked curiously.

“Well, we’ve handed that project over to a government entity known only as the Agency.  Right now they’re under the Department of Fish and Game.  They’ve developed a biosynthetic gland that secretes quicksilver, and have implanted it into a test subject.  They needed a Keeper for the subject.  They reviewed about ten scientists, and your name came out on top.  We’re sending you to California to be that Keeper.” 

Claire sat, not moving a muscle.  Finally she recovered and said, “Thank you, sir.  This comes a quite a surprise.  If you could just tell me what I need to know, and when I’ll be leaving, I gladly accept.  Thank you, sir.”

Holmes handed her a folder.  “This contains all our information on the Quicksilver project.  Guard it with your life.  The Agency will give you more information when you get there.”

Claire turned to leave.  Holmes called after her, “Claire… we’ll miss you here at the DOD.  Good luck.” 

She looked back at him, then left without saying a word. …

Claire walked into the tiny apartment the Agency had provided for her.  She had just met with the man who headed the Agency, known as the Official.  He had given her another package of information.  She sat on her couch and reviewed all the information she had been given from the DOD and Agency.  The DOD folder contained a sheaf of papers and a cd.  She then opened up the packet from the Agency and started reading. There was more information on the Gland, the project in general, and a file on Darien Fawkes.  She came to a letter dated three days earlier.

 Test subject Darien Fawkes has finally woken up after three weeks of being unconscious.  He has been awake for three days now and is coming along well with learning biofeedback methods to control the quicksilver.  No adverse effects of quicksilver have been observed…

Claire looked at her kitchen table and saw a small brown box with a letter sitting on top of it.  Odd, she thought.  Well, maybe the Agency left me a little gift. 

She opened the letter first and pulled out a sheet of paper.  She read it once then read it again, shocked. 

Dear Claire,

I know this may come as a surprise to you, but I felt that I needed to contact you again.  This box contains something that I feel you may need to fulfill your job as Keeper of Darien Fawkes.  Included are instructions and notes that I want you to follow perfectly.  Please.  Claire, I know that this comes as a shock to you, and I have no reason to expect you to do as I ask, but…Know that I have missed you beyond words all these years and didn’t contact you because I wanted to keep you safe.  I love you more than you can ever know, for whatever that might mean to you.  


Claire opened the box and pulled out notes and a vial of some blue liquid which had a note taped on it, “Refrigerate immediately.”  Woodenly, she walked to the refrigerator and put it in, then looked at the letter still in her hand.  She didn’t know what to think. 

 … Darien said to Claire, “Yeah, that Swiss douche Doogie Howser Arnaud killed my brother Kevin and destroyed the lab.  I swear that bastard is going to eat a lot of lead from me when I find him.” 

Claire was silent.  Too many thoughts were running through her mind.

Arnaud, my Arnaud, is the same man who cold-heartedly killed Kevin Fawkes and engineered this Quicksilver Madness into the quicksilver formula.  I don’t understand…It must be another Arnaud.  God, I don’t know what to think.  I love him and I hate him.  How can he be like two separate people?  But he knows I’ll follow his instructions.  I don’t believe, can’t believe what Darien says…and the Official has instructed me not to do everything I can for Darien right now.  He said we needed to keep him with the Agency long enough to cement him into it. …

Claire gave Darien just a bit too much Counteragent in this shot and the others during the next week, and then gave him the less effective Counteragent. …


Present time, three days later…It was evening; the sky was aflame with oranges, reds, and purples.  Claire walked into her apartment, glad to get away from a long day in the lab.  “Hi, little one!” she greeted Pavlov, bending her long legs to scratch him behind the ears.  “How has your day been, Pavvie?  Ooohw..” she laughed as Pavlov jumped up on her to lick her face enthusiastically. 

 “How about some dinner, Pavlov?  Would you like that?” She continued to talk to the dog while she puttered around the kitchen, putting together some leftovers for Pavlov and making some spaghetti for herself. 

After dinner, she washed her dishes, took Pavlov out for a short walk, because it was getting dark, and then headed to her tiny living room to watch some TV.  When she flicked on the lightswitch, she was confronted with…Arnaud, reclining casually on her sofa.  He was holding a bouquet of blue-and-gold irises. 

“How did you get in here?” Claire demanded.  She was no longer shocked to see him; her capacity for that had been worn out.  Now she just felt angry at this violation. 

Arnaud simply looked at her, drinking in her face.  He said nothing.

“Well?” Claire prodded.  “Are you going to answer me or not?” She continued, “You have a lot of nerve to just walk into my life again.  I know everything that happened at the lab in Nevada, how you betrayed Kevin and killed everyone.  I know you engineered quicksilver madness into the quicksilver molecule that we helped to develop.  The Agency has told me every thing you’ve done the past seven years, how you became an underground terrorist.  How could you do this, Arnaud?  How could you become like this?”  Her voice started to tremble.  “You had such a vision, such integrity!  You were so different from the rest of your family—you were honest and caring.  And now look what you’ve become!” she cried.

Arnaud stood up, his green eyes looking at her.  “These are for you,” he said softly, holding out the irises.  “I remember that they’re your favorite, that your eyes light up every time you see them.  Whenever I saw them anywhere, I remembered you and how much I love you.”  Claire turned away from him.  He continued, “Seeing the things you loved, and the places we’d gone together, always reminded me how you looked, your smile, your hair..” He heard a muffled cry and walked over to Claire.  She was sobbing silently, one hand to her eyes, shoulders shaking with grief. 

Arnaud moved swiftly in front of Claire and gathered her up into his arms.  He murmured into her hair, his strong hands hesitantly stroking her silky hair.  She continued to cry into his shoulder, her arms wrapped around him.  Finally, she stopped weeping and pulled away from him.  She walked over to her sofa, sat down, and patted the cushion beside her.

“Arnaud,” she sighed.  “I don’t know what to say.  Your coming back into my life has totally disrupted it.  I don’t understand—“

“Claire,” Arnaud broke in.  “I know that you despise me now for what I’ve done.  I can’t say I am proud of all of it, but I had my reasons.”  A flash of steel crept into his voice.  “It all started with Fauvene’s murder.”  A muscle jumped in his strong jaw.  “For years, my family had been involved in black market business, gun smuggling, mainly.  I was an idealistic youth and wanted to break free from the manipulative, murderous cycle—both my parents were killed during different deals.  I got into sciences and met you.  Those years, working with you, were some of the best in my life.”  He smiled, his eyes soft.  “Then,” he continued, his voice growing hard again, “word of our quicksilver research leaked out to various ‘high’ class terrorist circles who understood our work but didn’t have enough money to buy us or develop their own research program.  The FN, Français Nationale, was one of those groups.  They killed Fauvene…unfortunately, they didn’t realize that just because I was idealistic didn’t mean I didn’t have some of my parents’ blood in me, too.  Fau and I were the only two of our family left, besides Huiclos…” Arnaud snorted.  “Huiclos is such a weakling that he would never have helped me avenge their deaths, kill those bastards.”

Claire had sat silent the whole time he talked.  Now she spoke up.  “But why did you push me away?  How come you never, ever, once contacted me during those years?  Tell me that,” she said, half-demanding, her eyes imploring.  

Arnaud ran a hand through his dark hair.  “As much as you may not believe it, I didn’t contact you because I wanted to protect you.  You were the only good thing left in my life, Claire, and above all—even above myself—I cared for your safety.  I couldn’t bear to have anything happen to you.  That’s why I stopped researching quicksilver with you and went underground.  I became what I am now, searching for the murderers of my family and canvassing the world black market for the highest bidder for quicksilver.  You were the only thing that kept me from killing myself in this sea of ruthlessness.”

“Look,” he continued.  He unbuttoned his top shirt and took it off, revealing the thin white undershirt, his muscles obvious beneath.  He pointed to his shoulder, which had a small tattoo on it.  Claire read aloud, “Claire—ma vie, mon amour.”  She swallowed, hard. 

“Alright,” she said, a trifle unsteady.  “I can understand that.  What I don’t understand is how you knew I was going to be Darien’s Keeper, how you knew when and where to contact me, and why you came to the lab three days ago, finally letting me see you for the first time in seven years!”  The last bit burst forth.  She clenched her hands tightly.  “Do you know what it was like, getting the letter and instructions from you, following your directions, and then really finding out what happened at the lab?  I’d just healed from that, and then you come to the lab!  Do you know what that did to me?”  She paused, then said, “A long time ago I gave up any hope of ever hearing from you again.  I became a clinical woman, hard, pushed my emotions behind a wall.  I grew a shell.  Darien started to pull me out of that shell, and now that I’m no longer protected, you come.  Arnaud…” she started to cry again, softly. 

Arnaud pulled her to him again, patting her back, stroking her hair.  He buried his face in her hair, and tears came to his eyes.  He hadn’t cried for seven long years, and now…They held each other, rocking back and forth, taking comfort in the other.  Finally, they pulled away, and Arnaud spoke, his voice rough, then smoothing again. 

“I was on the Quicksilver Project, as you know, when the Agency was put in charge of it.  I knew that they needed a Keeper and I was one of the people who reviewed the list of possibilities.  I knew that you had the best qualifications, and everyone else on the team concurred.  So, I started keeping tabs on you.  And then, I carried out the raid on the lab, killed everyone there.  Unfortunately,” he sighed, “I needed to keep Fawkes alive; that’s why I delivered the little package with the Counteragent right before I fled the country.”

Arnaud continued, “Once I finally returned, I knew I had to keep watch over you to see that you continued to follow my directions.  You obeyed my orders for longer than I thought you would, but then you started progressing a little too far on your research against quicksilver madness.  I decided I had to remind you, so I showed up at the lab the other day.  Let me…ask you a question.  Why did you follow my instructions, and for so long?”

Claire sighed.  “Darien is too good a person to be tortured by the quicksilver madness you engineered, and I gladly work on research to help him.  But when I first got your little package, the Agency hadn’t told me that you had just destroyed the lab.  What little I did know I found out from Darien.  I didn’t believe him when he told me that you were the Arnaud who sabotaged the Quicksilver Project, even though I knew it had to be…and I had a small hope that you were still what my memories knew you as.  I see I was wrong,” she said sadly.  “You’re not the man I knew seven years ago. He’s dead, gone, and my heart is gone with him.  That Arnaud was kind and caring; you…” She paused, and seemed to become stronger.  “You killed everyone at the lab, used me, destroyed almost all the information on quicksilver and the gland, and ruined Darien’s life!”

“I did,” Arnaud said calmly.  “I know.  Fawkes was my final assurance that quicksilver works the way I want it to, that he will always need a Counteragent.  Greed and fear are the currencies of the world now, and everyone’s fear breeds more fear, and that’s fine with me.  And all those petty, greedy people will come back to me for Counteragent.  As Fawkes once said,” he laughed sardonically, “It’s a license to print money.  Isn’t it beautiful?” 

Arnaud looked at Claire suddenly.  “Join me,” he said, his intense green eyes boring into her.  “Together we can rule the world.  Leave Fawkes, leave this pathetic Keepership at the Agency, leave it all.  Come with me,” he said, gripping Claire’s forearms. 

“What?!” Claire exclaimed.  “Excuse me?  Did you just tell me to leave my work, walk out on my responsibilities?  You might do that, but I don’t.  Let me go!”  She struggled, trying to pull away from his powerful grip.  They struggled, and then suddenly Arnaud’s lips were on hers, kissing her, silencing her protests which were rapidly fading anyway.  She moved into the kiss, and then they proceeded to do more than just kiss...


Claire woke suddenly, feeling a faint sickness to her stomach.  It was morning, and the events of the previous night suddenly came back to her.  The last she remembered was a sickly sweet smell of chloroformed gauze held to her nose.  She looked around, and realized she was in her bedroom, on top of her neatly made bed.  She looked at the nightstand and saw the vase of irises.  Under it was a note.  She picked it up and read,

Sorry I had to play with you, but I had to ensure my position.  Also, I’ve erased all your data concerning your research on how to remove the gland and possible solutions to quicksilver madness. Do remember I’ll be vigilant in watching you, Claire.

Claire calmly walked into the kitchen, took a match, and lit the paper, dropping it into the sink.  She watched it burn, tears rolling unheeded down her cheeks.  Then she walked away, got ready for work, and drove to the Agency.  When she got there, she told the Official everything about her and Arnaud, her voice icy.  She was through with her past.  And she was dying inside. 


"I took a walk around the world to ease my troubled mind, I left my body lying somewhere in the sands of time….I feel there’s nothing I can do.  I really don’t mind what happens now and then, as long as you’ll be my friend at the end."  --Kryptonite