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Another late night at the Agency. Claire put a beaker in the fridge as she thought about the happenings of the day. Another close call with Darien. He and Hobbes had been hunting down a terrorist and Darien had used a little too much quicksilver. Hobbes had gotten his partner there just in time. She had injected the counteragent right as the last segment of his tattoo had turned red.

Claire smiled as she remembered the look on Hobbes' face when he had brought Darien in. His previous panicked appearance had vanished the moment he had seen her standing inside the Keep, syringe in hand. Claire knew about Bobby's crush on her, and she always noticed how he acted a little more confident when she was around.

Now, she was alone in the lab, working on synthesizing a new batch of counteragent. She sighed as she thought about Darien and his dependency on this solution. As much as she hated to admit it, she could not help feeling that Darien *was* a chemical-filled lab rat. Day after day, she feared learning about his growing immunity to the counteragent. She feared coming to work one day and finding Fawkes insane and on a murderous rampage. Most of all, she feared losing her friend.

Claire closed up her equipment and gathered her things to go home. Hitting the lights on her way out, she walked out of the lab, punching in the lock code to the door.

With the natural chill of the lab and the surrounding hallway, Claire did not notice the cold of a presence that was following her.


As she drove up to her house, Claire noticed a familiar van parked in her parking lot. She got out of her SUV and saw Hobbes standing at her door.

"Bobby, this is a surprise. To what do I owe this honor?"

Hobbes shifted from one foot to the other. His hands were shoved in his pockets but he kept eye contact with her. "I wanted to talk to you outside of the lab, away from Fawkes and such."

"Is everything ok?"

"Yeah, yeah it's fine. I just wanted to thank you. You know, for being all ready and such."

"Bobby, that's my job."

"And you do really well at it." Only now did Hobbes break eye contact and look down at the ground.

Claire smiled. Bobby was cute when he got embarrassed. "Well, you're welcome. Is there anything else you wanted to talk about?"

Hobbes opened his mouth to speak, but then changed his mind. "No, that's it."

"Okay, then go home and get some sleep. You had a rough day today."

As Bobby turned to leave, Claire unlocked her door and walking inside. As she started to close the door, she watched Bobby get into his van and start the ignition.

The sound of her dog bounding down the stairs drew her attention. "Hello Pavlov. Have you been a good boy today?" Her only answer was a bark and vicious tail wagging. Claire picked up her pet and walked into her kitchen. Opening her freezer, she pulled out a frozen dinner and prepped it for nuking. She hit the buttons and put Pavlov down on the ground. While her dinner cooked, she headed upstairs to change. A comfortable pair of sweat pants were calling her name.

She kicked off her heels as she walked into her bedroom. She moved to her drawers to grab her comfy clothes, but all desire to change vanished when she heard Pavlov start barking hysterically downstairs. A quick yelp of pain and then everything was silent. Claire moved to her night stand and pulled her gun from the drawer. Carefully and quietly, she headed downstairs. When she reached the foot of the stairs, she saw her dog huddled in the corner, shaking. She went over to her pet and felt his fur, which had a footprint frozen into it.

"Hello doctor," a thickly accented voice spoke from behind her.

Claire whipped around to face the empty air. Then, the air lashed out and hit her across the shoulders, and Claire blacked out.


She was not out cold for long. When she opened her eyes ten minutes later, she found that her hands and legs had been tied together. From the feel of the restraint on her wrists, she realized that her captor had used the belt from her terry cloth robe. 'I liked that robe,' she thought to herself.

Claire's thoughts were broken as a knife floated into her path of sight. Literally. Suspended by air, the tip of the knife pointed right at her. A slight chuckle escaped from the emptiness before her.

"Good morning, Claire," the accented voice spoke.

"Arnaud. What in the bloody hell do you want?" Claire could not hide her anger.

"Blunt and to the point. I admire that in a woman." The knife floated back and forth as he tossed it from hand to hand. "I just realized that instead of working so hard to steal the information about the gland, I could just torture it out of you. It's easy, a little messy, and I get to have fun with it too. And as a little added bonus, in case you decide to stay tight lipped, a dead Keeper would definitely hurt a certain prick that I know and despise." Arnaud's voice took a dangerous edge as he spoke that last part.

The knife stopped being tossed from hand to hand, and Claire watched as it moved closer to her.

"Shall we start with the interrogation?" The voice seemed to come from the levitating weapon. "Now, why don't you start talking about everything you know and I'll just..." the knife slashed to the side, making a slight noise as it cut the air. "...steer the conversation."

Claire steeled her jaw and closed her eyes. She imagined the look on his face as he spoke again. "No?" The sarcastic questionable tone was more than apparent in his voice. Then, his vocals lowered to a harsh growl. "Then I guess I get to play."

She kept her eyes shut but was able to sense her attacker step sloser to her. The knife was merely centimeters away from her face. Anticipating the pain, she instinctively flinched when her front door banged against the wall as someone kicked it open.

"Claire!" Hobbes' frantic voice was a wonderful sound to her ears. She snapped open her eyes in time to see him enter her living room, gun drawn and thermal glasses covering his eyes. He immediately aimed at the air in front of her, but his aim moved as his intended target shifted. Finally, Hobbes fired, but Claire assumed that Arnaud had jumped behind the couch, because the bullet merely tore into the cushion. Another shot fired, and this time it lodged itself into the wall. Suddenly, the window in Claire's kitchen shattered outward as Arnaud crashed through to safety. Hobbes ran to the window and peered into the darkness, but his target was gone.

Bobby picked up the knife from the floor where Arnaud had dropped it and walked over to Claire. Carefully, he cut the ropes that were holding her down.

"Claire, are you ok?"

"Yeah Bobby, I'm fine. Just a little shaken up."

"Come on, let's get you out of here for a little bit."

"Bobby, it's not like I'm ungrateful for the rescue, but why were you still here? How did you know I was in trouble?"

"Golda's got the hiccups. Saw someone pull an invisible breaking-and-entering, so I grabbed the thermals and headed in."



It was four days later before they let Claire return to her home from the animal friendly motel that they put her in. During that time, the Agency found some way to install a new security system in her place and thermal sensors in the hallways of the headquarters. Darien was less than pleased with this at first, because they put a damper on the fun he could have while at work, but he knew that it was for the best, so he did not complain--much.

When she finally returned home, Claire put Pavlov down on the floor and locked her door. Entering the security code, she felt a little safer.

Exhaustion hit as she climbed the stairs to her room. She entered through the door, intent on crashing onto her bed, but a surprise stopped her. Lying on her pillow was a wilted rose and a CD. The rose looked as though it had been without water for days.

Realization hit her and she smiled. 'That's why he had been here that night. He must have been waiting in his van to see how I reacted.'

Claire went over to her stereo and inserted the CD. Hobbes' voice came from it first.

"Um, hi Claire, it's me. I, uh, I just wanted to let you know that this song pretty much sums up everything I feel. And I know that you're a punk music fan, so I think you'll like this song at any rate. So, enjoy."

The CD switched to track two and an electric guitar filled the air. As Claire listened to the words, her smile grew. This was worth it all. She would have to thank Bobby properly tomorrow.

The Glory of Love

By A New Found Glory

Tonight it's very clear
As we're both lying here
There's so many things I wanna say
I will always love you
I will never leave you alone

Sometimes I just forget, say things I might regret
It breaks my heart to see you crying
I don't want to lose you
I could never make it alone

'Coz I am a man who will fight for your honor
I'll be the hero that you're dreaming of
Gonna live forever knowing together
That we did it all for the glory of love

You keep me standing tall
You help me through it all
I'm always strong when you're beside me
I have always needed you
I could never make it alone

'Coz I am a man who will fight for your honor
I'll be the hero that you're dreaming of
Gonna live forever knowing together
That we did it all for the glory of love

It's like a knight in shining armor
From a long time ago
Just in time I'll save the day
Take you to my castle far away

I am the man who will fight for your honor
I'll be the hero that you're dreaming of
Gonna live forever knowing together
That we did it all for the glory of love