Fandom: Mutant X
Author: Beren (beren_writes)
Pairing: Shalimar/Brennan, Shalimar/Jesse/Brennan
Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned Marvel Studios, Tribune Entertainment and Fireworks Entertainment. No money is being made and no copyright infringement is intended.
Warnings/Spoilers: explicit sexual situation, assumes season 3 did not happen
Summary: The team think Jesse is dead; killed by a fatal shot to the back, only there are things going on they could not possibly have predicted. Jesse isn't dead, but is he really Jesse any more?
Author's Notes: Thanks to Soph for the beta. This fic has been languishing on my hard drive for years, requiring three scenes to finish it, well I finally wrote them :).
Word Count: ~42,360
Links: Ch1 | Ch2 | Ch3 | Ch4 | Ch5 | Ch6 | Ch7 | Ch8
Long Fics | HP Short fics | All Other Short Fics | Series Fics
Chapter 2 The Parts
Jesse felt that he was spending an inordinate amount of time sleeping, but Adam kept trying to reassure him that it was perfectly normal considering what his body was going through. It had been three days since he had woken up properly, but his strength was returning only gradually. At least he could now make it to the bathroom on his own, but that was as far as his exertions went at the moment.
It gave him a great deal of time to think and he vaguely remembered his first awakening in Sanctuary now, but he could no more explain it now than he could then. He remembered the fear, but he did not know what had caused it. It was frustrating to say the least to have a hole in his memory for such a significant part of his life. Jesse would have liked nothing better than to find the bastard who had wrecked his DNA and take his revenge, but he had no information to go on.
His comfort in all this were the other members of Mutant X. Whenever he needed someone to talk to or just some company, one of them would be there. Adam was around the most, often running tests or making sure Jesse was okay. The leader of Mutant X was closely followed by Emma and Jesse had the sneaking suspicion that the psionic was keeping a mental eye on him all the time. The way someone would always turn up to cheer him up was becoming a little suspicious. Shalimar and Brennan had been around less, but for that Jesse was quite glad; they were both a bright point when they did show up, but Jesse did not have enough energy to keep up with either of them at the moment.
Jesse was trying to read a book Brennan had leant him without much success. It wasn't that the plot wasn't engaging it was just that it took far more concentration than he could muster at the moment. Reading required focus and that was not something Jesse had a lot of to spare; his mind kept drifting. After he had started the same page four times, he finally closed the book and sighed, rubbing his eyes as he did so.
"Not in the mood?" asked a voice from the door and Jesse looked up to see Shalimar standing there smiling.
"Concentration is shot to hell," Jesse replied returning her greeting with a half-smile.
"At least you have an excuse," his friend said lightly and walked into the room. "So you want the good news or the bad news?"
From the expression on Shalimar's face Jesse doubted that the bad news was particularly bad, but paranoia was something he was quite good at these days so he frowned anyway.
"Good news," he said a little dubiously.
His companion beamed at him with an I-know-something-you-don't-know grin. She left him hanging for a while, but when Jesse glared at her she caved.
"How do you fancy spending the night in your own room," she said cheerfully.
Jesse's mood brightened instantly; he had been confined to the lab since he had awoken and getting back to his own space would be fantastic.
"Really?" he asked, incredibly pleased.
"Of course, really," Shalimar replied, "Adam gave the okay this afternoon. As of tomorrow you only have to show up here twice a day for a tune up. You're officially free."
The smile that graced Jesse's face now was completely genuine. Then something occurred to him.
"What's the bad news?" he asked slowly.
"You have to get there," his friend replied mischievously.
Jesse found himself laughing at that. That was one hurdle he did not mind overcoming.
"Can we go now?" he asked, his enthusiasm bubbling over.
He felt like a kid at Christmas, but he couldn't help himself. Shalimar nodded.
"Whenever you like," she told him warmly.
Jesse did not need any more prompting and he swung his legs off the couch, dropping onto the floor quickly. It was as he stood up that he realised in his enthusiasm he had taken things a little too fast; his vision popped with stars and he swayed precariously. Shalimar was there to support him instantly.
"Hey, superman," she said quickly, "take it a bit slower; no jumping tall buildings just yet."
As his equilibrium returned Jesse grinned.
"Yes ma'am," he said with mock seriousness.
It took the pair longer than Jesse cared to admit to make it to his room. They had to stop three times for him to rest and, by the time they finally made it, Jesse was exhausted. He sat on his bed gratefully as Shalimar riffled in his draws to find him some of his own clothes. She presented him with a T-Shirt and some boxers which he took gratefully.
"Can you manage or do you want some help?" she asked with a mischievous smile.
"Let me think," Jesse replied in kind, "ah, I think I can manage."
Shalimar laughed and then she headed for the door.
"Call if you need anything," she said as she disappeared.
Jesse looked at the clothes in his hand and considered if he could be bothered to change. A second or so later Shalimar's head re-appeared round the doorframe again.
"Anything," she said with a very serious look in her eyes and then she was gone.
Finally alone, Jesse collapsed back onto the bed and just lay there for a while. It had only been a short walk and yet he was completely wiped out. Adam had explained that the fluctuations in his genetic structure were taking all of his energy and that the more they had those under control the better he would feel, but that didn't stop it from being annoying. Staring at the ceiling, Jesse decided he was not going to give in and slowly he sat back up. With the last of his strength he stood up and pushed down the shorts he had been wearing in the lab. Then he sat back down and slowly pulled on his regular underwear. Unable to make his legs work to stand up a second time, he was reduced to manoeuvring until he had them on properly. Then Jesse pulled the T-shirt over his head and finally relaxed back onto the bed gratefully.
It felt good to be back in a real bed. Pulling his feet up onto the covers, he rolled over, curled up and let the desire to sleep take him. He had no strength to climb under the sheets and he drifted off where he was lying.
As Jesse fell asleep, Shalimar put her head back round the door; she had been waiting for his breathing to even out. Just now she was feeling very motherly and, although she had not wanted to embarrass Jesse by hanging around, she had not been willing to just leave either.
Very quietly she walked back into the room and picked up the blanket that was sat at the end of the bed. Then with great care she covered Jesse with it, making sure not to wake him as she did so. Satisfied that he was as comfortable as he was going to get, she calmly turned and, this time, really left.
It had been nearly two weeks since Adam had released him from the lab and in that time Jesse's requirement for treatment had reduced down to once a day. All that time he hadn't been back to full speed and Adam had made him promise that he would not attempt to use his powers in any way, shape or form. He had basically just been hanging around most of the time. Practicing his focusing techniques to regain his equilibrium had taken up some of his days, but you couldn't meditate all the time, and surfing the net had become old very fast.
The others had been around too, but Mutant X didn't just stop because Jesse was out of action, so they had been busy a lot. Boredom had set in quite quickly. Jesse had been so bored that he had even tried doing chores, but had found out quite quickly that not quite being up to full strength went down to completely zapped if he did too much. Any form of exercise had been pretty much the same; and it had taken patience and time to build back his fitness. That was why he had been incredibly glad when Adam had decided it was time to try out his powers; that was until he actually thought about it in detail.
Jesse stood in the middle of the makeshift lab area he and Adam had constructed in one of the empty storage rooms, looking at his companion dubiously. They had decided that testing Jesse's powers was done best away from the main Sanctuary area just in case. He had sensors stuck to various parts of his body and he was more than a little nervous. He hadn't used his powers consciously since the day he was taken and now that he was here he was very unsure about using them. Adam had told Jesse that the treatments had his genetic fluctuations stabilised, but actually using his powers after such dramatic upheaval was more than a little daunting. There had been great shows of confidence from all his friends, but as his current location testified, Jesse was pretty sure they were as uncertain how this was going to turn out as he was.
"Ready, Jesse," Adam asked with a reassuring smile.
He nodded curtly and tried not to let his anxiety get the better of him.
"What do you want me to do?" he almost said 'try', but he refused to admit the possibility of failure.
"Let's start with something simple," Adam said efficiently. "Mass out for me. Don't try and hold it long, just mass out and then release."
Jesse nodded again feeling a little better with Adam's logical approach. Making his body dense had been easy for Jesse for a long while and he was good at it. He'd done this hundreds of times before, it would be a piece of cake.
Repeating this mantra to himself, he took a deep breath and prepared to use his abilities. The familiar feeling came to him easily and he let his molecular structure become impervious, covering his body with orange rivulets. There was no sudden pain, no barrier to his mutant power and it filled him with an instant joy. This was easy, nothing had changed and he felt he could go on, but then his concentration shattered when he saw the floor. Jesse let go of his powers instantly as he realised that the area where he was standing was also covered with the signs of his ability.
"Interesting," Adam said calmly as Jesse stared at the now perfectly normal floor.
"I did not try to do that," he said pointedly, more than a little flustered.
He had been able to transfer his phasing power to other objects for some time now, but it had always been harder and a different sensation to phasing himself. He had never tried massing out anything other than himself and his power had never "leaked" for want of a better term. The fact that he had massed out part of the floor and not even noticed was a distinct surprise.
"Did you feel any strain from encompassing the floor in your efforts?" Adam asked evenly.
Jesse shook his head, he was too shocked to come up with anything else.
"Then it appears you have had a distinct power boost," the scientist observed with a slight smile. "I suggest we work on this for a while and find your limits. It might be an idea to stay away from your ability to phase out until we have found at what point your powers no longer affect your environment. It wouldn't do for you to fall through the floor."
Adam said the whole last sentence with a dead straight face and it took Jesse's somewhat shell-shocked mind a moment to catch up. When he finally met Adam's eyes the man grinned and Jesse couldn't help but let out a laugh; it was kind of funny.
Jesse was bone tired when he wandered into the rec area and flopped down on one of the chairs. He had showered and changed after the all day session with Adam and had intended to fall into bed, but his mind was too full of thoughts to let him sleep. For the first time in weeks he was finally happy and it gave him more mental energy than he cared to think about, even if his body was begging to rest.
"You look wiped," Brennan commented and closed his book.
"I feel wiped," Jesse admitted with a tired smile, "but my head is buzzing. I think you could power a small town from my brain."
"Next you'll be putting me out of a job," Brennan replied lightly.
Jesse laughed and put his head back.
"Nah," he said cheerfully, "one lightening rod is enough for any team."
Brennan grinned and put his book down on the table.
"I was just thinking about some light refreshment," his friend said conversationally, "do you want anything."
"Coffee would be great," Jesse replied and gave a grateful smile, "at least then my body might have a chance of keeping up with my head."
The taller man stood up with a laugh.
"One coffee coming right up," he said dramatically.
As Brennan moved to fulfil his promise, Shalimar came striding into the room.
"Hey, Jess," she greeted lightly, "I thought you'd be in bed, you look like you've gone three rounds with a bear."
"I tried," he replied and gave her a smile too, knowing that his friends were just worried about him, "but I couldn't sleep, so I figured an evening with you reprobates was better than an evening spent staring at the ceiling."
"Fair enough," Shalimar said with a grin and languidly draped herself in the space Brennan had left.
"Hey, that's my chair," Brennan bantered as he turned back with the coffees.
Shalimar batted her eyelids at him and smiled.
"If you ask nicely I'll let you share it," she said coyly and Jesse had to laugh.
At one time the relationship between the feral and the elemental would have irked him somewhat, but Jesse had quite a new perspective on life these days and he was happy for them.
"Just remember you're not alone," he said in mock seriousness.
"Would we ever?" Shalimar said with complete innocence in her voice.
"Yes," Emma said lightly as she came down from the upper level.
Both Brennan and Shalimar did the best impression of indignant that Jesse had seen in a long while.
"More coffees?" Brennan asked as Emma also took a seat.
"Tea if there's any left, please," the telempath said sweetly.
"Just water for me," Shalimar requested with a fond glance at her significant other.
Jesse sat back and watched the interplay; it was nice to be in the middle of things again. The others had been there for him all through his incapacitation, but somehow now that he had his powers back in working order everything seemed right again. Shalimar was still keeping an eye on him, he could tell, but he felt like a real member of the team again and it was a good feeling.
The chatter was diverting and it was nice just to sit down with his friends and relax again, but as the evening wore on Jesse found that he was becoming a little uncomfortable. The temperature in the room appeared to be going up as if the air conditioning was failing.
"Anyone else think it's getting hot in here?" Jesse finally asked and gained everyone's attention.
"Temperature's fine by me," Brennan replied with a curious glance in his direction.
"Me too," Shalimar responded and climbed to her feet. "You look flushed, are you feeling okay, Jesse?"
She walked over and put her hand on his forehead in a very motherly gesture. It took her less than a second to react.
"Jesse, you're burning up," Shalimar said more than a little anxiously. "If Adam worked you too hard I'll ... I'll ..."
Shalimar was obviously trying to control the fiery temper that always threatened at times like this. Jesse would have tried to placate her, but he didn't have time. Emma was on her feet quickly and Jesse found himself flanked by the two beautiful women. Emma also felt Jesse's head and then spoke quickly into her ring.
"Adam, can you come to the rec area please, Jesse is unwell."
"Coming," came the almost instant, but very calm response.
As far as Jesse was concerned the temperature was still going up and now that everyone was focused on it the increase seemed to have escalated.
"Could I have some water, please," he asked in an attempt to find something to cool down.
Brennan provided a glass quickly and then proceeded to hover behind the two women. Jesse was not sure what was worse; the temperature or the worried looks on his friends' faces. He decided it was the temperature when he tried to bring the water to his lips and the liquid in the glass began to bubble. He simply stared at it stupidly for a couple of seconds and then the glass shattered causing every one to step away from him.
"Oh hell," was the best he could come up with to say.
The heat in his body was becoming very uncomfortable and the palms of his hands felt as if they were burning; it was a very unpleasant feeling. There appeared to be nothing Jesse could do to relieve the sensation and he felt like he was burning from the inside. Surprisingly it was Brennan that came to his rescue.
"Push it out, Jesse," the older man said very firmly and motioned for the women to move out of the way.
Jesse gave his friend a questioning look.
"The heat," Brennan said urgently, "take hold of it and push it out through your hands."
It was an odd thing to say, but it made a strange kind of sense to Jesse that he didn't question.
"Where?" was the only thing that was bothering him.
"Anywhere," Brennan replied earnestly. "Now!"
The word was so sharp and commanding that Jesse just did what he was told. He pointed his hands away from his friends and pushed the burning out of his body. Red light erupted from his fingers and palms and the paint bubbled off part of the wall.
"What happened?" Adam came hurrying into the room just as the whole incident finished.
Jesse stared stupidly at his hands; he had no idea what had just occurred.
"Elemental overload," Brennan supplied the answer just as he had supplied the solution.
Jesse looked at his friend as did everyone else in the room.
"It happened to me a couple of times as a kid, before I got a hold of my powers," Brennan said honestly.
Jesse's mind was throwing all sorts of 'buts' at that statement and he looked to Adam for help. The scientist looked thoughtful, but not surprised.
"But I'm a molecular, not an elemental," Jesse protested as everyone else seemed to accept the situation.
"That's not true anymore, Jesse," Adam said in a very patient tone. "You were a molecular; now you're a molecular that is part elemental, feral and psionic. I thought that by stabilising your genetic profile the other mutations had been reduced to insignificance; I was obviously incorrect."
Jesse stood up his mind whirling with all the possibilities.
"I don't want any more powers," he said a little desperately, "I can barely cope with the ones I have already."
He was in no way happy with the situation. This was insane; he'd almost fried himself or his friends and it could have been disastrous.
"Jesse," Adam said supportively and placed a hand on his shoulder, "we can work through this. I'll run some more test and we'll make sure you're prepared for anything that may be coming."
Somehow the words just made Jesse angry. This wasn't what he wanted; he couldn't deal with this it was too much.
"I don't want to be prepared," he said through gritted teeth, "I want it gone. I want to be me, not some super-freak who might explode at any minute."
"Jesse," Adam tried to placate him, but Jesse was not in any mood to calm down.
"Figure it out, Adam," he said pointedly. "I don't want to live like this."
Then he pushed past the older man and stalked towards his room.
Shalimar watched her friend leave and tried to bury the need to lash out at someone for Jesse's pain. It was not like it was any of their faults and snapping someone's head off would not help.
"I'll go and talk to him," Emma volunteered as Jesse stalked out of sight.
Adam nodded and as far as Shalimar was concerned their mentor appeared almost more tired than Jesse had. This was taking its toll on Adam as much as anyone and the team tended to forget that sometimes. Shalimar's protective streak was very strong and she was not sure who to be more protective of; Adam or Jesse.
"Can you help him?" she asked eventually as Emma followed Jesse out of the area. "Can you take away the changes?"
When Adam met her eyes he looked sad and resigned; it was all the answer Shalimar really needed, but he spoke anyway.
"No," the scientist replied regretfully. "Jesse's genetic structure was dangerously unstable when we brought him back here. I eliminated as much of the alterations as I could and stabilised the rest. If I try and alter his mutation anymore it will most likely kill him."
"Did you really think the other mutations wouldn't show?" Brennan asked after a moment's silence.
Adam looked pensive and Shalimar knew what his answer was going to be.
"I had hoped," the man replied. "The molecular mutation is predominant in Jesse's genetic code and I thought that he'd have at least a few months if not years before any of the other abilities would manifest themselves. It's like the rest of your powers; they will grow and change over time."
"Then we'll just have to help him live with them," Shalimar said resolutely; on this point she was very sure.
The three fell into a momentary silence and Shalimar found herself looking in the direction where the other two had disappeared. Her instincts told her to follow and offer her strength and her support to her teammate, but logic told her that Emma would have a better chance of calming Jesse down without interference.
"So what should we expect?" Brennan broke her train of thought by asking a sensible question; Shalimar was far too wrapped up in her need to help to formulate questions. "What did the nameless bastard who did this add into the mix?"
"Well you've already witnessed the thermal elemental," Adam said slowly, "then there's a mixture of feline and reptilian feral and finally telekinetic psionic. From the way the elements were combined I think the idea was to keep adding aspects of other mutations, but somehow Jesse escaped before they could change his DNA further."
"Man, Jesse is in for a rough ride," Brennan said regretfully and Shalimar had to agree with him.
It was hard enough dealing with one mutation; mixing them was just asking for trouble.
"So any clues as to what's next?" Shalimar asked hoping that Adam would give them some better news.
Their mentor shrugged.
"There's no way to tell," Adam supplied evenly. "It is possible that using his powers today stimulated the emergence of the thermal ability. It may have a similar effect on the other mutations or they may remain dormant. With a cloned body the mutations have had no chance to go through a normal life cycle; every part of Jesse has been forced together. Predicting how each mutation will develop is impossible with them all stimulating each other. I can keep them in check so they don't kill him, but I can do no more than that."
Shalimar found herself looking at the door again and she discovered an anger deep inside her for the person who had done this to her friend. If she ever found out who it was they would remember Shalimar Fox.
It wasn't exactly difficult to follow Jesse, since pure rage was coming off him in waves, and Emma trailed him to his room. When she paused by the open door, he was standing in the centre of the room glaring about as if he was not sure what to take his anger out on.
"You know you're asking the impossible don't you?" Emma said eventually.
Jesse turned rapidly on the spot and it was quite obvious that he had been lost in his own thoughts and had had no idea she was there.
"Someone did this to me," he said hotly. "Adam's a genius, so he can figure out how to undo it."
"That's not fair," the telempath pointed out calmly. "Adam already pulled off a miracle to save you."
Jesse just glared at her; he appeared to have no reply to that.
"Jesse," Emma said sympathetically, "I know you're angry and afraid, but this is not the end of the world. You learned to use your powers once, you can do so again."
A self-depreciating laugh was the first reply to her comment and what worried Emma was that she could feel the beginnings of self-loathing coming from the over emotional mutant.
"Stop it," she said pointedly and gained Jesse's full attention. "Don't you dare decide to hate yourself."
The emotions coming from her companion dimmed slightly and Emma knew she was beginning to get through.
"I don't know what I am any more," Jesse admitted eventually. "What if I turn out like Ashlocke?"
"Ashlocke was a psychopath, you're you," Emma pointed out firmly. "Your powers don't define you Jesse; they're part of you, but they are not all that you are."
"But am I?" he replied a little desperately and Emma knew they were getting to the heart of the problem now. "I'm dead, Emma. You buried me. What does that make me now?"
The telempath moved into the room and stood directly in front of her friend.
"Your original body is dead," she told him evenly, "but you did not die. I don't know how they did it, but someone transferred you, and I mean all of you, from one body to another. I can feel you, Jesse, you're not a copy, you are still you."
The look of relief that flew through his eyes was second only to the feeling that came with it. It occurred to Emma that this had been bothering Jesse ever since he had woken up, but that the incident with his new powers had tipped him over the edge. It was difficult to imagine what it must be like to wake up and find that you were a clone, but Emma was constructing a fair idea from the emotions racing through her companion. She was actually quite surprised he hadn't snapped before.
"I'm still a liability to the team," Jesse said eventually and Emma realised she hadn't quite won yet. "I can barely control my molecular powers and I could have fried someone tonight."
"So you need a little practice," the telempath said making light of the comment, "big deal. I've seen you phase a whole plane, remember, it'll be a synch."
When she grinned at him, Jesse did have the grace to half smile back.
"I could kill someone with my lack of practice," he commented shortly, falling back into his black mood quickly. "I don't even know what to expect anymore."
"Well we know what you're made of," Emma replied, refusing to sink into Jesse's mood, "and so we have a fair idea. We'll all help you when and if any other powers emerge. You can't change what you are, Jesse, but you can deal with it."
"Is that your way of saying 'you're stuck with it so get over yourself'?" Jesse asked after a moment.
Emma gave him a you're-putting-yourself-down-again look and after a small staring contest the frown finally disappeared from his face.
"Is it possible to win an argument with an esper?" Jesse asked plaintively.
"Yes," Emma said with a smile, "just not with me."
"I reserve the right to be annoyed," Jesse concluded firmly.
End of Chapter 2
On to Ch3