"You know, I'm kind of pissed that I'm having to do this again," Bobby said conversationally as he rammed his shovel into the earth again. He'd been digging for about half an hour by lantern light, and the dark silence was starting to creep him out.
"Sad thing is, I was on your side," he continued, throwing more dirt out of the hole. "Stupid, huh? Me, of all people. I should have known better."
He'd placed tarps on either side to catch the dirt; it would make it easier to cover his tracks later. There was a roll of sod in the back of the van. Bobby Hobbes was prepared for anything.
"You Fawkes guys are all alike, you know that? Making decisions for other people's good. You, your dad -- your brother, too. You know how I told you he risked his life to save me? What I didn't tell you is, I didn't want to be saved."
At least the soil was still fairly loose. The digging wasn't hard; there was just a lot of it.
"It's a long story, but basically I was going to kill myself, and he stopped me. And he had to almost kill himself to do it. And you know what? I never told him this, but the whole time I was sitting there waiting for Claire to come in and give me the antidote, I was cursing his name. I thought, what right did he have to make that decision for me?"
It was a cool night, but he was working up a sweat. He stopped to pull off his jacket and set it at the foot of the grave, out of the way of the dirt that was piling up.
"Later on, I realized he did the right thing. So I told him you were trying to do the right thing for him, too. But see, that's where I was being an asshole, Kev, and so were you. Faw-- Darien had to make that decision because I couldn't. I was too whacked out on that retrovirus. But when he asked you to take the gland out -- he knew what he was doing."
Even without his jacket, he was getting hotter. His hands were slick with sweat and kept slipping on the handle of the shovel.
"I don't think you ever understood your brother. He doesn't need you and me lecturing him about the gland building character. He doesn't want it out so he can go back to sitting around on his ass. He wants it out so he doesn't kill anybody. So he doesn't rape anybody, OK? So he doesn't do something he can't -- " his voice broke slightly, "can't live with."
In a swift motion, Bobby raised the shovel over his head and swung the blade down like a sledgehammer. It made him feel better, so he did it a few more times. Tiny clods of dirt sprayed everywhere, hitting the tarps and the grave marker and Bobby. His eyes stung.
He fell silent again. The digging was getting harder, and he concentrated on keeping a steady rhythm. Drive the shovel into the ground. Pull the dirt free. Lift it, toss it up onto the tarps. Over and over, until his muscles burned from the exertion.
When the hole was nearly waist-deep, he hit the top of the coffin. He sucked in a sharp breath; his gut felt like a clenched fist. "Only for you, Fawkes," he muttered as he cleared the remaining dirt away.
He picked up the lantern and checked out the latch on the coffin. There were slight wear marks from the last time they'd opened it hastily in the middle of the night. He reached for it, then hesitated. "I guess I should say I'm sorry or something, but you know what, I'm not. We need you. He needs you." He popped open the latch. "You owe this to him." With that, he opened the lid.
And immediately scrambled out of the grave, gagging, trying not to throw up as the smell and the reality of a corpse, a corpse he'd just dug up hit him. He lay with his head in the grass, panting, breathing in the clean scent to chase out the rot. The neat piles of dirt sat on either side of the grave, and it was easy to imagine just dumping them in and leaving, going home and pretending that everything would be OK, that this might not be Fawkes's last chance, that Claire would pull off another last-minute miracle.
Bobby Hobbes never bailed on his partner, though, so he took another minute to compose himself. Then he collected the lantern, pulled his T-shirt up over his mouth and nose, and gingerly climbed back down to examine the body.
It lay in a pool of dark, foul liquid. The abdomen had caved in, and bones were easily visible under pale, mottled skin. The face (Kevin's own face, he had to remind himself, not the face Kevin had been wearing when Bobby had met him) was unrecognizable.
He must have asked Claire a dozen times, and she'd always said no. That any RNA sample they might get would be nothing they'd want to put into Darien's body. She'd been right, of course.
Bobby sighed heavily. Closing the lid, he murmured, "You win."
Now that he was no longer exerting himself, it was cold standing there in the middle of the night in sweaty clothes. He needed to go. Morning was coming, the security patrol would be back soon, and there was nothing for him here.
He took one last moment to face the gravestone. Reaching up, he trailed his fingers over the letters carved in the black granite. F, A, W …
"I'll take care of him for you."
He'd make sure Fawkes didn't hurt anyone.
Bobby reached for his jacket and slowly put it back on, his muscles stiff and protesting. He climbed out and started to fill in the grave.