Fandom: The Invisible Man
Spoilers: All two seasons, baby.
Email: wishfulaces @ hotmail.com
The Ubiquitous Patented Darien G. Fawkes VO: There once was a tale about a guy who could turn invisible. I thought it was only a story… till it happened to me.
OK, so here's how it works: There's this stuff called 'quicksilver' that can bend light. My brother and some scientists made it into a synthetic gland, and that's where I came in. See, I was facing life in prison and they were looking for a human experiment. So we made a deal; they put the gland in my brain, and I walk free. The operation was a success... but that's when everything started to go wrong.
The Invisible Man, as done on the Sci-Fi Channel back in 2000-02, involved ex-thief Darien Fawkes getting roped into the Quicksilver Project by his Overly Intelligent Scientist Brother Kevin (who dies in the pilot, leading to much angst and plot points later). This project is under the purview of the unnamed Agency—“the welfare office of all intelligence agencies” that moves from federal bureau to bureau whenever it becomes too costly to keep them around. (Some days, it’s all they can do to keep the photo copier functioning.) Darien is not impressed with the place, or his boss the Official, but he’s chained because of a need for counteragent (the quicksilver gland has an unfortunate side effect of sending him into madness if he doesn’t get a shot every so often).
He’s also not impressed with the guy he has to work with as his partner. Not at first, anyway.
Oh yeah, that’s exactly what I need. A nutcase on a nut mission.
Robert E. Hobbes has been around the governmental security agency block a time or two. FBI, NSA, CIA, Marines—whatever it is, he’s probably done it and gotten kicked out at some point or other. Mockingly known as “Lithium Bob” by many and with a slight case of ADD, he’s gone through more shrinks than the number of products Fawkes uses on his hair. Also, Bobby’s paranoia is sometimes just a leetle over the top. Just a smidge. That said, he really is a damned good agent—loyal, determined, smart in a fundamentally practical way (if not in a bookish sense), quick on his feet and capable of all sorts of out-of-the-way Super Agent skills, like some forms of martial arts and an interesting line in olfactory detecting. He also, in a way entirely unlike Doctor Daniel Jackson, worries about getting paid.
And at first, he’s not very impressed with his new partner either.
Hobbes: “I’ve got crime-scene experience.”
Fawkes: “Yeah, well so do I.”
Hobbes: “I’m talking about AFTER the fact.”
Darien’s a punk with a chip on his shoulder that’s even bigger than his hair. He’s whiny, he has no respect for authority figures or serving his country, and he’s better paid than Bobby. He also has a little something of an oral fixation, has read Bartlett’s Quotations too many times, has far too much conscience to be a good thief, is more interested in philosophy than one would expect, and he’s smarter than he usually likes to let on. (My personal hero complex also grooves on the fact that he rarely carries a gun and even more rarely does he shoot one to kill somebody.)
In their very first meeting in the pilot, Fawkes and Hobbes get shot at by Canadian terrorists (don’t ask, just don’t ask) and Bobby threatens Darien with his gun because Darien won’t hand over the cell phone.
This does not bode well. On the other hand, it does make things that much more fun.
* * *
“Yeah you will, you'd die for me, Bobby. See, that's what I know; not just because it's your code, or your job. It's 'cause I'm your friend and if you think that is an illusion, then you're just plain ignorant.”
~ Fawkes, “Flowers for Hobbes”
One of the wonderful things about this show is that especially throughout the first season, the characters evolve. Darien and Bobby are both initially pissed off about being paired with each other—Fawkes thinks Hobbes needs Prozac; Hobbes despises working with an ungrateful amateur—but pretty quickly their relationship starts changing as they listen to each other and have an effect on each other. By the middle of the second episode, “Catevari,” Hobbes is questioning his superior about what exactly it is he and Fawkes “need to know” (whereas earlier in the episode, he was berating Fawkes for wanting to know more than it was deemed he needed to know).
“Tiresias,” a couple episodes later, is about a blind “prophet” named Scarborough who tells his customers they’re going to kill the ones they love most if they don’t kill themselves first. The episode starts with Darien dreaming he’s gone quicksilver mad, trying to kill Bobby, and elements from the dream keep popping up throughout the episode. Nobody believes Darien, however, and he becomes more and more freaked out by the possibility that he’s going to kill his partner.
Fawkes: No you…you…you don’t understand. I mean I’m…I’m really going to kill him…I just…You know what, I…I…I need a new partner…No! I need a new job! I can’t be here anymore, not if he’s going to be here! I can’t be here! You see what I’m saying?!
The Official: Man, and I thought you two were finally starting to get along…look. Look! Partnership is like a marriage; it’s not always going to be easy.
At the end of the episode, Darien does indeed go quicksilver mad and threatens Bobby with a gun—and then he points the gun toward his own head, but before he can pull the trigger, Bobby aims a well-thrown trash can lid at his arm, knocking the gun out of Darien’s hand. Darien tries again to kill Hobbes, but the Keeper arrives in time with the counteragent. What’s interesting is that this second time when he tries to kill Bobby, it’s not from a distance with a gun—he lands on top of Hobbes, straddling him, and is trying to strangle him, a disturbingly physically intimate act. And this physical intimacy keeps popping up, not always in this violent way.
Trust necessarily takes a while to build up between these two characters—Hobbes is especially distrusting at first, because Darien was a thief (and hasn’t quite given up on the lifestyle just yet), and because Fawkes has that unfortunate time bomb ticking away inside his head, likely to send him into quicksilver madness at the most inopportune moments. Fawkes in the beginning certainly feels totally isolated and, worse, lacking all control over his own life, and expects Hobbes to side on his boss’s side, not Darien’s. But the barriers are slowly breaking down between these two characters throughout the season. They fall—but they pull themselves and each other back up again, and prove themselves to each other, getting to know each other throughout in ways that other people simply aren’t given the opportunity to. Already by the episode “The Value of Secrets,” Hobbes knows Fawkes well enough to know when he’s lying, “...cause you use these one word answers. You don’t think I notice but I do! If...the...of...check.”
The episode “Separation Anxiety” starts with Bobby following his ex-wife’s car after she leaves the grocery store—he has a “shepherding” thing, as she tells Darien, and Bobby hasn’t given up on her yet. She’s moved on, however, and has a new fiance, and by the end of the episode even Bobby (who can be a right stubborn little tiger when he wants to be) seems to have accepted this, even if he’s still having trouble putting the “ex” in front of “wife.” A telling bit here is the very last scene, as ex-wife Vivian says good-bye: Fawkes joins the other two characters and leads Hobbes away, putting an arm around Bobby’s shoulders, and the episode ends with them frozen in this position, Darien looking down into his partner’s face.
In the next episode, “It Hurts When You Do This,” while on a case Darien accidentally causes Bobby to fall off a fire escape and get some serious brain damage, so that his short term “working” memory is shorted out. He can remember what happened a week ago, but he can’t remember what happened twenty seconds ago. The look on Darien’s face when he sees Bobby fall is one of horror, and the next scene starts with him pacing in the hospital, his guilt practically leaping off the screen. Throughout the rest of the episode, Darien is extremely protective of Hobbes, especially when he discovers that the unfortunately-named Dr Carver has done a procedure on Hobbes without Darien’s knowing—Fawkes chews the doctor out for not getting anyone’s consent, and when the doctor responds that they received Hobbes’s consent, Darien retorts that Bobby was in no condition to give it and the doctor should have come to him.
In a smaller and more intimate moment, upon entering a sleeping Hobbes’s hospital room, Darien sits down next to him, soothingly placing both his hands on Bobby’s arm and saying, “Hey buddy, you doing okay there?”
These guys really do like touching each other. Whether it’s Darien throwing his arm around Bobby’s shoulder, or Hobbes holding Darien down in the middle of a quicksilver madness seizure, or a low five when a case goes their way, they have no problems with being physical with each other, and they have no problem invading each other’s personal space. And while just about everyone in the main cast takes on some of their most prominent mannerisms—Darien’s infamous “Aw crap” and Bobby’s habitual “my friend”—they are the ones who pick up on each other’s mannerisms most quickly and use them interchangeably most often. In fact, in a second season ep when Darien has amnesia and all his enemies are trying to take advantage of this fact, Darien realizes that Bobby is his friend because he is the only one who uses Darien’s catch phrase. And like the Official’s and his sidekick Ebert’s double act, Darien and Bobby have a great line in working seamlessly together, whether it be dialogue or physical action.
Official: Fawkes & Hobbes are a well-oiled team.
Eberts: Each one anticipates the other’s thoughts.
In “Reunion,” Darien goes home without telling anyone at the Agency, after hearing his dead brother has supposedly come back to life. Along the way he gets arrested, which sends Hobbes scurrying after him (remember Bobby trailing his ex-wife? Yeah, he has a tendency to follow Darien around a lot too). When Bobby confronts Darien, and Darien asks him what the hell he thinks he’s doing, Bobby replies: “Listen, I saved your life, you saved my life...I know about your spider hang-ups, you know about my ex-wife...we tell each other everything.”
At the end of the episode, after discovering his brother’s “return” was all a ploy by Darien’s arch nemesisisisis Arnaud De Ferhn—the man who added the little extra something to the quicksilver gland to send Darien regularly into madness, and who killed Darien’s brother—Fawkes has to rebury his brother. (As part of the ruse, Arnaud relocated the body so that it really would seem like Kevin had come back to life). Darien sends away the graveyard caretakers to shovel the dirt back over the casket himself. Hobbes shows up and quietly starts shovelling too, proving that Bobby Hobbes really doesn’t bail on his partner.
Now comes the biggie, the real moment that says it all about this friendship, this partnership, no matter how you view the relationship between these two characters. In the episode “Flowers for Hobbes,” Bobby is accidentally infected with a retrovirus that sends his intelligence through the roof. This same drug, administered to Darien, would kill him due to the quicksilver gland lodged in his brain. In an episode that starts with Bobby and Darien on top of their game—bantering with each other, answering each other’s thoughts, everything we’ve come to know and love from their partnership—by the climax of the episode, Hobbes has completely changed. It’s a gradual process—even as his perception and intellectual abilities are increasing by leaps and bounds, he’s still watching out for Fawkes. But he feels more invincible and empowered by his new-found genius-ness, as well as more contempt for his friends and co-workers who simply don’t understand what he can now comprehend, and he finally quits the Agency, shocking Fawkes, who runs to bring him back.
Fawkes: Would you just stop? You’re not thinking clearly here, okay?
Hobbes: Oh, I’m thinking very clearly here, Fawkes. For the first time I can see that I’ve sabotaged my career and my personal life for…insecurities I may have had about my abilities. But I see past that now.
Fawkes: Yeah, well, Hobbes, the thing you’re forgetting here is…they’re not your abilities.
Hobbes: Were you born with the quicksilver gland? It’s a gift, Fawkes. It’s a beautiful gift…And I have this gift now.
Fawkes: Yeah. Yeah, well I’d like to be free of my gift, friend, okay?
Hobbes: I understand things now. Things that you’ll never, ever…ever understand.
No one ever respected me here, really. No one ever really cared about me here. No one.
~"Flowers for Hobbes"
In one way, their positions are reversed—Bobby’s the one who’s sick of the Agency and trying to leave, while Darien’s the one trying to bring him back. On the other hand, Hobbes is—as always—trying to tell Fawkes to understand that what he has can be good, that he doesn’t have to look at it as a limitation, as a cage. At the same time, this conversation, while semi-public (taking place in the hallway, with the Keeper and the Official watching from a distance), is intensely personal, solely between Darien and Bobby. Their voices are hushed, urgent, as they try to communicate and make each other understand; the camera is close up on their faces, panning back and forth, keeping it intimate.
Other people who’ve been infected with this same retrovirus have gone into comas and died—the knowledge they’ve absorbed is simply too much for them to handle. Darien and the Keeper manage to drag Hobbes back into the Agency (with Bobby yelling at Darien, “Get out of my life!”), putting him in a straitjacket in the padded room, stuff of Darien’s nightmares. Darien goes in to persuade his friend to tell the Keeper what she has to do to close down the newly-opened neural pathways and put him back to normal. Hobbes refuses.
Hobbes: Friendship is an illusion, Fawkes. A cultural expression of the pack mentality for survival.
Fawkes: What's wrong with survival?
Bobby: It's just another illusion. The weak survive. The strong evolve.
Fawkes: Yeah, you ready to die?
Bobby: We both know that can't harm me now, Fawkes.
Fawkes: See, you don't know everything, Bobby… [Here Darien gets a peculiar, inward-gazing look on his face] I'm pretty sure there’s one thing about me you don't know.
~"Flowers for Hobbes"
And that’s when Darien injects himself with the agent, knowing full well it will kill him.
Bobby stares at him in shock for a long moment, before turning to the two-way mirror where he knows the Keeper is watching, yelling at her the process she has to go through to block the super-intelligence gene. And then turning back to Fawkes, tears glistening in his eyes and voice cracking, sounding more like himself than he has in a long time, he says, “I can’t believe you did that, partner.”
Now Bobby, my friend, Darien Fawkes doesn’t bail on his partner either.
* * *
I could keep going through just about every single episode with examples of how much these characters care about each other, but I only have so much space here. I will point out a couple more episodes, however.
In “Sense of Community,” a lovely little episodic bow to the 1960s’ The Prisoner with some winks to a number of other spy shows, while Darien is checking out the office building to the Agency of Sequestered Seclusion, Bobby’s at the front desk, distracting the young lady left in charge of the office by flirting with her. Fawkes rejoins them after finding nothing, looking irritated in much the same way Illya Kuryakin would have looked irritated at his womanizing partner Napoleon Solo in Man From UNCLE. (Hey, it’s an episode about spies, okay?)
Fawkes: What is it with you and the ladies?
Hobbes: It’s amazing, isn’t it?
Fawkes [sounding less than pleased]: Yeah. Amazing.
~“Sense of Community”
Later in the same episode, Hobbes is once again getting the moves on, this time with Helene Loew, the female agent who “wrote the book on temptation and seduction in operational procedures.” The first time they meet, she’s less than interested, but later after Bobby and Darien have been making waves trying to escape the community, she suddenly seems to want to get to know Bobby better.
“Do you have a special girl out there?” she asks, to which Hobbes responds, “Well…no, not exactly.” Soon after that, she starts nibbling at his ear, progressing to kissing him on the lips, and Bobby seems very interested. But he soon becomes indecisive and torn and keeps pulling back. “I can’t I can’t I can’t,” he pants, pacing back and forth, “I really want to, but I can’t.” She persistently asks him, “Why?” and finally he says, “I’ve got a responsibility to get me and my partner outta here.”
Helene Loew: You ask me? I think he’s gay.
Fawkes [smirking]: Really? Ahhh…
~“Sense of Community”
In the very last episode of the series, Darien Fawkes has apparently finally broken all ties with the Agency—he no longer needs the counteragent, the Official has screwed him over and tried to control him one too many times, and he’s accepted a position with the FBI. Hobbes comes to visit him at his apartment, unaware of Darien’s new assignment. When the FBI guys come to collect Fawkes, Darien adds another stipulation to his agreement to work with them—that Hobbes comes with him, that they keep their partnership going. Hobbes refuses, telling Fawkes, “When Bobby Hobbes returns to the majors, it's gonna be on my own average, my friend.” Interestingly, throughout this scene when Bobby knows Fawkes is leaving, he still calls him his partner.
In the end, neither partner deserts the other. Fawkes leaves the FBI and goes back to the Agency—on his own terms…maybe—and if the future doesn’t look exactly bright, at least our two characters are with each other, exactly where they belong.
* * *
“It’s about relationships, Bobby. It’s all about relationships.”
~Alex Monroe, “Father Figure”
In case I wasn’t blatant enough while going through the canon above, I’ll explain why I love these characters so much, and why the idea of them together is such an attraction.
It’s that scene in “It Hurts…” when Darien’s rubbing the sleeping and vulnerable Bobby’s arm. It’s that scene in “Going Postal,” when Hobbes is locked up in a padded room and the only one who believes in him and knows he isn’t psycho is Darien. It’s that scene in “Perchance to Dream” when Hobbes and Fawkes are fighting about picking up coffee which made my first-year college roommate say “They’re like an old married couple,” and the one in “Invisible Woman” when Darien hands over his handkerchief without even having to look at Bobby to know the other man was having an emotional moment, and Darien’s “Starsky never drew on Hutch” line in “Possessed,” and amnesiac-Darien’s recognition that Bobby is a friend because Bobby says “aw crap” in “Flash to Bang.” It’s that scene in “Flowers for Hobbes” when Darien is willing to give up his life and Bobby is willing to give up super genius-hood—and death—for each other.
It’s the whole partner thing again, like so many partner-pairings before. They have the banter, they have the mutual understanding, they have the complementary skills, they have the deep caring for each other—hell, the only people they have left are all at the Agency. They are equals, and they’ve been through a lot with each other which has built up and cemented their relationship, as I hopefully showed earlier in this article. And they never, ever get sappy. They get angsty, and they get angry, and they get snarky, and they also get bitchy like an old married couple. They’re flawed as hell—but they know each other’s flaws and still stick around anyway. They’ve seen each other’s madness. Darien respects Bobby where no one else would, and Bobby was one of the first people to point out to Darien that he has nowhere else to go after the Agency and that he might as well make the most of it.
"Fawkes, you have found the one thing you can do and you will always be the best at it. Why don’t you just do it, instead of just wasting your energy—and mine!—trying to find a way out?"
~Hobbes, “The Value of Secrets”
Even now, when I devour slash fics and have gotten around to writing some myself, the idea of a first-time for these two characters often still eludes me (I even wrote a story about this fact. Thankfully other writers don’t have the same problem). They’re either partners, the best of friends, going bowling together and watching each other’s backs—or they’re partners, the best of friends, going bowling together, watching each other’s backs, and also shagging like rather sexy rabbits (you might not think at first that Paul Ben-Victor is hot—but wait for it, and oh boy you’ll come around). It doesn’t really matter if the sex is there or not, because the love is.
Something that should be pointed out—a circle of women revolves around both characters. Casey O’Claire, Darien’s ex; Kate, the youthful super-genius; Vivian, Bobby’s ex; Allianora, another human experiment; Alex Monroe, the five-star female agent who joins the team in the second season, to name just a few. And there is occasional, embarrassing mention made of Darien’s lack of a sex life since getting the gland, as well as Bobby’s frequent flirtations with women.
One woman is a rather more special case. Darien’s Keeper, Claire, has a pretty complicated relationship with both our male heroes. As early as the episode introducing Claire, there was a hint of possible involvement between Darien and Claire (“All you really want to do is touch her”). Later it turns out Claire had something going on with Darien’s brother Kevin back in grad school (“Brother’s Keeper”), and still later Darien and Claire (both while under the effects of some major brain-tripping stuff, so, give ‘em a little credit here) actually did the dirty (“Three Phases of Claire”). Meanwhile, also since fairly early on in the first season, Bobby has been indicating interest in the Keeper himself—and when he finds out that Darien and Claire had sex, he is not a happy camper.
Personally, I find the dynamic between these three characters all the more fascinating and fic-worthy when you take all this extra tension into account. After all, these three people do all care about each other, and if that caring steps over a line or two, in some combination or other…?
Then again, I really am a sucker for the angst.
You can’t deny or ignore any of the canon, anymore than you can deny the canon of Darien’s and Bobby’s tight, close relationship. Hell, you can’t really ignore Bobby’s frequent assertions about “not fishing off the company pier” either. But the degree to which you want to take their relationship—well, I suppose that depends on how you view the subtext in conjunction with the canon. And if you’re looking at it at all through slash-coloured glasses (which, you know, just have to be rose-tinted), then there’s no way you can avoid the fact that these two characters are fricking made for each other.
And now for the Ubiquitous, Patented Darien Fawkes VO that comes at the end of every episode: Lord Byron once remarked in a letter to good ol’ Mary Shelley, “I have had, and may have still, a thousand friends, as they are called, in life, who are like one’s partners in the waltz of this world—not much remembered when the ball is over.” But I think he would have added, and I think I would too, that sometimes you find a partner… that you just wanna keep dancing with.
* * *
First off, grateful appreciation to http://www.geocities.com/invisible_man_show/Scripts and http://www.imaniacs.org/main.htm for transcribed scripts and MST3Kings of other scripts, without which I wouldn’t have found the exact wording of many of the scenes I quoted. (And the episode riffings really are quite funny. Really. *ahem*)
Now, I admit I’m pretty damn snobby about what fic I read, so I shall only name a few authors here for you to check out.
http://www.geocities.com/slashcorrupted/fic2.html Chalie Ruocco's site: I suggest starting with “Seven Minutes of Heaven,” ‘cos it is Teh Funneh. (Closets are prominently involved.)
http://www.squirreltail.net/lucyhale/im.html Lucy Hale's site—I don’t actually remember if her reworking of the episode “Flowers for Hobbes” told from Bobby’s pov is slash or not, but as she has it listed under the slash category, it works for me and it is a story I highly recommend.
http://www.fanfiction.net/u/119132/ suz2's profile—After you read Chalie Roucco's “Sex Lies & Star Wars,” read suz2’s sequel, “I Know.” It’s heart-breaking.
http://www.trickster.org/vids/ Seah and Margie's vids—I know, I’m only reccing one whole music vid here, but this is a great vid showcasing the partnership between our boys. Scroll down to get to “Kryptonite.”
And, because at heart I am a feedback whore, I’ll also leave links to some of my own stories on ff.net. I haven’t actually written that much slash-specific stuff, though a lot of it is Darien-Hobbes centred.
http://www.fanfiction.net/s/1888423/1/ --“Transitioning,” in which the line between partner and partner gets blurrier and blurrier.
http://www.fanfiction.net/s/1595850/1/ --“Unrealized Realities,” in which I show I’m actually really a pairing slut. You’ll have to dig down to the D/B, but I promise it’s there.
http://www.fanfiction.net/s/2056593/1/ --Short almost-drabbles, for the most part, many of them of a slashy nature.