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 3 Acceptance
Jesse walked into Adam's office and came to a halt in front of the older man with his hands on his hips; he looked upset. Adam had not been expecting him yet this morning.
"Jesse," Adam greeted with a smile even though his companion did not look in a mood to reciprocate, "is there a problem."
Rather than replying, the young man just frowned and appeared to be considering something.
"I've lost my voice," he finally said in no more than a whisper and he winced at the same time.
It sounded like a very bad attack of laryngitis and Jesse did not look happy about it. Adam climbed to his feet and walked over to his young friend.
"It's probably just that your immune system is low and you've picked up an infection," he said with a reassuring smile. "Let's go to the lab and I'll take a look."
Jesse seemed to want to express his opinion on the situation, but he didn't argue and Adam assumed speaking was too painful to bother. They walked out of the office together.
"Come and sit down," Adam said as they entered the lab and indicated the couch on which Jesse seemed to be spending an inordinate amount of time lately, "this shouldn't take long."
Jesse looked very non-plussed about the idea, but did as he was asked. Adam went for the low-tech solution and picked up a small torch and a wooden spatula.
"Okay," he said lightly, "open wide."
With a resigned sigh, Jesse obeyed the command and Adam shone the light on the back of the young man's throat. The area around Jesse's tonsils appeared decidedly inflamed and it did not take long for Adam to find the cause. He stood back from Jesse trying to maintain a neutral expression and wondering how he was going to break the news to his companion. Jesse looked at Adam hard when the older man didn't say anything and the question was obvious in his eyes.
"Your throat's been irritated by a foreign substance," he started slowly, dancing around the issue, "I'll give you something to reduce the inflammation."
Adam turned away to place the instruments down, but Jesse caught his arm.
"What substance?" Jesse asked in what sounded like a very painful manner.
"Venom," Adam said eventually.
Jesse's eyes opened wide in shock and then narrowed again in anger; he looked very upset. He was not taking the changes to his body well and Adam had a suspicion that he was dealing with raging feral emotions as well as everything else. He gave his companion his best sympathetic look, but it did nothing to help.
"I'll give you something to reduce the irritation," he said before Jesse could storm out. "Your body should adjust in a day or so. The inflammation is minor and the venom sacks look perfectly healthy; the leakage is most probably due to their development."
The tension in Jesse's body was almost painful to look at; he sat there rigidly as Adam walked to one of the supply cabinets. When he turned back with an anaesthetic spray in his hand, his companion had not moved and was glaring at the world in general as if he was about to explode. Jesse appeared very similar to Shalimar when she was in an extremely bad mood.
Adam walked back slowly and knew that what he had in mind was probably going to be received as well as a bullet in the head, but he had to make it anyway.
"You'll need to spray this into your throat once every four hours or so until the irritation goes away," he said evenly and gave the small bottle to his companion.
Jesse went to stand up, but Adam calmly put himself in the way.
"There's just one more thing," he said slowly as Jesse frowned at him, "I need a sample of the venom."
Anger and indignation filled Jesse's expression and he grunted an incomprehensible reply and tried to push past Adam. If Jesse had wanted to, there would have been nothing that Adam could do to stop him, but as it was he managed to prevent Jesse leaving. Jesse was angry, but at least he wasn't irrational.
"Jesse," Adam said firmly, "I need to know how dangerous the venom is. Do you really want to hurt someone by accident because you don't know what you're capable of?"
It was a little below the belt given Jesse's current emotional state, but it was the truth and Adam's words brought the younger man up short. The fury in his face turned to hurt and confusion and Adam wished there was something he could do to take away all the pain. Jesse had had the most trouble adjusting to his new powers after his growth spurt and now he had more to bear than most people would ever dream of.
"It will only take a second," Adam promised faithfully. "Just sit back down, I'll take a swab and it will be over."
Jesse just stood there for a moment with one foot on the floor, half on and half off of the couch and then he slowly nodded. Adam turned away to retrieve the necessary supplies as the young man sat back down. The whole situation was very hard on Jesse, but at least when Adam looked into his face there was one thing he didn't see; despair.
The spray seemed to be working and Jesse felt the pain subside as he walked towards where he could hear the other's having breakfast. He had gone straight from his room to see Adam and he had not yet bumped into the other three today. Jesse was still angry at the whole situation, but with the irritation in his throat lessening he was beginning to calm down. Emma had been right; there was nothing he could do to change things so he really had no choice, but to just get on with life. Jesse wasn't happy about it, but he had a strong practical streak.
It was only as he reached the entrance to the other room that he came to a halt. It suddenly struck him that if he spoke to the others he was going to have some explaining to do and he felt irrationally embarrassed about the whole situation. He was considering going back to his room when Emma turned around and smiled.
"Morning, Jesse," she greeted brightly, "come join us. Shal was just explaining why a female feral will always be more dangerous than a male."
"It's true," Shalimar said lightly, "in nature the female of the species is always more deadly than the male even when she's smaller."
Jesse was pretty sure that wasn't true, but he was in no mood to contradict her.
"Well with all those hormones," Brennan chimed in, "I'm not going to argue with you."
There was going to be some repercussion for that statement, Jesse could tell and he really had no choice now, so he put on his best smile and sat down. Brennan and Shalimar spent a good five minutes verbally sparing over the point with Emma prodding the conversation every so often before anyone noticed that Jesse was not joining in.
"So what's Adam have lined up for you today, Jess?" Brennan finally asked in a very unsubtle attempt to bring him into the conversation. "You will warn us if you're going to phase the whole mountain, right?"
Even in his current mood Jesse had to smile at that, but he knew a shrug would not satisfy the other three.
"Don't know," he went for the shortest answer possible and although his throat was nicely numb his voice was very croaky.
"Trying to impress the ladies with a husky new voice?" Brennan chose to make light of the problem.
Jesse gave him a thank-you-so-much-for-that-comment smile.
"Sore throat," he said shortly.
"Tell me that on top of everything you don't have flu," Shalimar said taking the whole thing a little more seriously.
When the feral was in protective mode she took many things seriously and although Jesse appreciated the support he hoped she would snap out of it soon.
"No flu," Jesse promised and out of the corner of his eye he could see Emma looking at him.
He just knew that the telempath could tell he was hiding something. Both Shalimar and Brennan were also waiting for more and Jesse knew he was not going to get away with this one. Taking a deep breath he took the opportunity for what it was.
"Venom," he said eventually.
The other three just sat there for a moment as if they weren't sure how to take the news.
"You're venomous now," Brennan said eventually, "and you're allergic to it?"
The way it came out of Brennan's mouth struck Jesse as kind of funny; when put like that it sounded faintly ridiculous and much to his surprise he found himself half-smiling.
"Get used to it in a few days," he said expressing his point in as few words as he would manage.
A mischievous glint appeared in Brennan's eyes and Jesse knew he was about to be the, butt of a joke.
"And until then you can barely talk?" the other man said innocently.
Jesse didn't believe it for a second and just looked at his friend.
"This could be fun," the elemental concluded with a wicked grin.
"How'd you fancy falling through that chair," Jesse threatened playfully, although his voice almost gave out completely before he finished the sentence.
"How'd you like electrified cornflakes?" Brennan shot back.
Jesse saw the two women give each other a look.
"Boys!" was Shalimar's concise opinion on the matter.
It was just after lunch when Jesse walked back into the lab. He had been practicing with his molecular powers all morning and the success he had achieved had brightened his outlook considerably. His powers have evolved somewhat, but they had not changed that much and it had been fun testing them out. However, the exercises had also given him time to think and his musings had brought him back to the lab.
Jesse knew that Adam had a complete breakdown of all the additions to his DNA and they had discussed it briefly, but never in detail. Since two quirks of his new genetic makeup had already made themselves known, Jesse guessed that others would most likely be on their way. This time he was not just going to let them happen; he was going to be proactive about this.
"Ah, Jesse," Adam greeted cheerfully, "I was just going to call you. I have finished the analysis of your venom."
Talking was not the most pleasant experience just now so Jesse chose not to answer and simply walked over to where his mentor was standing.
"You'll be pleased to know you are unlikely to accidentally poison anyone," the older man told him. "Your venom appears to be akin to those of some spitting snakes, designed to incapacitate an attacker by blinding them rather than for predatory purposes. It's an irritant and will burn on contact with skin, but unless you spray it in someone's eyes you shouldn't do any lasting damage."
Well at least that was good news and settled one of Jesse's worries.
"Is there anything else I can do for you?" the older man asked calmly.
"Breakdown of mutations," Jesse said shortly trying to make his point without saying a great deal; the spray was wearing off, but he wasn't due for another dose for at least half an hour, "please," he added as an afterthought.
Adam looked surprised.
"You want my file on you?" the scientist asked openly.
Jesse nodded; it was so much easier than talking.
"Well of course you're welcome to see it," Adam told him willingly, "but may I ask why?"
"Pro-active," was his response and Adam actually looked pleased, "no more surprises."
A smile graced the other man's face and Jesse was now sure he was doing the right thing.
"I'm very happy to hear you say that," Adam said honestly, "I was beginning to think maybe you were going to try and ignore all the possibilities."
Jesse shrugged, after all that is exactly what he had been trying to do.
"Some of your mutations are dormant," Adam continued explaining as he stood up and led Jesse over to another terminal, "but I no longer believe they will stay that way for long. You can't force them, but there are some exercises you might like to try to stimulate their evolution. The sooner they appear the sooner we can make sure they are completely stable."
Jesse had not been quite sure what to expect, after all he had only ever dealt with powers that had made themselves known before, but Adam sounded confident, so Jesse tried to be as well. He had the feeling that he was in for a busy time over the next few days.
Shalimar walked into the rec. area and just stopped at the peculiar sight in front of her. Jesse was sitting at the table with his hands flat on the surface and his chin directly on top of them staring at a plastic cup just in front of his nose. He did not appear to be doing anything else.
"Is this a private party or can anyone join in?" she asked lightly as she once again started to move.
"Pull up a chair," Jesse offered and his voice sounded a little more normal than it had that morning, "but I warn you it's as boring as hell."
Watching her friend curiously, Shalimar walked further into the room and came round so she could see his face.
"What are you doing?" she asked, as she saw the look of concentration on his face.
"Telekinesis," he said shortly, the frown between his eyes growing.
Shalimar sat down.
"How're you doing?" she asked conversationally.
"Badly," was the terse response.
It appeared that Jesse was not in the mood to communicate, so Shalimar sat and watched him in silence for a few moments. He had been right; it was boring. When Jess continued to stare at the cup and ignore her, Shalimar decided that she might as well leave him to it. Standing up, she wandered over to the coffee machine and poured herself a cup. Emma was helping Adam, Brennan had disappeared off somewhere and so that left just Jesse, but he appeared to be busy, which added up to not a lot of fun as far as Shalimar was concerned. She considered her options for a moment and then glanced down at the coffee; maybe she could bribe Jesse with caffeine, she was not in the mood to be alone.
Putting her mug down, she wandered back the way she had come and stood behind her companion for a moment. He really did appear to be concentrating hard. Reaching out she tapped him on the shoulder and the cup in front of him went shooting off the table. Jesse sat up rapidly and turned to her with a startled look on his face.
"Looks like you're doing better now," Shalimar said with a grin.
"Yeah and all I need is you to scare the living crap out of me every time I want to move something," the younger mutant shot back as an answering smile broke onto his face.
"That can be arranged," she replied lightly. "Can I tempt you away with the offer of coffee?"
"Since you asked so nicely," Jesse replied and his voice was sounding very husky again, "but I don't promise a lot of conversation."
Even though Jesse could not stop himself, he knew there was only one way to describe what he was doing; he was prowling. So far he had walked from one end of the complex to the other and back again five times and if he'd been able to, he would have been climbing the walls. He felt caged.
The others were out; Emma and Brennan were checking out a new mutant who was causing trouble down on the waterfront by flooding out several boats. Something to do with extortion; pay up or your boat sinks as the sea gains a mind of its own. Shalimar was checking out a possible witness to Jesse's kidnapping, but no one was holding out much hope, and Adam was meeting one of his government contacts. That left Jesse all by himself going stir crazy in the empty base waiting for the others to come back.
Everything had been going fine to begin with. Jesse had been practicing with his powers using the exercises Brennan had shown him to give his elemental side a work out. His thermal abilities were not huge; he could set small fires and heat up conductors, but neither were they non-existent, so he was trying to understand them as instructed.
Jesse was beginning to realise that each power had a very different feel to it and although the ability to expel heat from his hands was nowhere near as well developed as his molecular abilities, it was quite engaging. He did not have to hold his breath to use it, which was a nice change and it came much easier to him than the telekinesis. Moving things with his mind had not been overly successful, although, over the last two days, he had managed to mostly remove the need for someone to scare him half to death for his psionic power to work.
It had been while he was attempting to boil a small cup of water in a controlled manner that the problems had started. Jesse had been calmly sitting on the floor with his hand positioned over the heatproof bowl when he had smelled something. At first it had not really bothered him and he had continued with the exercise, but soon the smell had distracted him. It was a strange smell that Jesse could not quite identify and it had slowly drawn his concentration away from his task.
Eventually he had stood up and quite literally followed his nose as he tried to identify the source of the smell. He had ended up outside Brennan's room quite bewildered by the whole experience. Since he could not identify the smell and he was not going to invade his friend's personal space without a very good reason, he had been left somewhat frustrated. That was when he'd started prowling.
He was confused and annoyed and pacing up and down was really not helping. His sense of smell was now picking up random things and he had an overriding desire to get out of the confines of the mountain and into any open space. It was quite difficult to control the urge to just leave. It was on his sixth lap of the base that he smelt something familiar and found himself unconsciously headed for the entrance. He was so intent of following his nose that he almost bowled Shalimar over.
"Hey, Jesse," she greeted cheerfully.
For some reason her good mood annoyed Jesse and he glared at her, his sense of smell sharpening even more for a few seconds and the world took on a vaguely surreal quality. Shalimar's eyes widened in surprise and then understanding flashed into her features.
"Feeling a little wild, Jesse?" she asked in a calm reasonable tone.
"Need to get out," was the most articulate phrase he could manage.
"Know the feeling well," Shalimar said lightly, placing herself between Jesse and the exit, "and I'll see what I can come up with, but you have to do something for me first."
Blocking him from his means of leaving annoyed Jesse somewhat, but this was Shalimar; she was one of the pack and hence on his side. The conflicting desires to flee and remain within the group left him in a state of inaction.
"What?" he asked tersely.
"Take a deep breath," she said slowly her body language relaxed and neutral, "and let it out slowly. Try and remember why you want to get out; if you can tell me I can help better."
It seemed stupid and irrelevant, but she was offering to help so Jesse did as he was asked. The deep breath assailed his sense of smell with all sorts of new scents, but he tried to ignore them and concentrate on why he wanted to leave. It took him a good thirty seconds to figure out that he didn't know why he wanted to leave at which point his anger just sort of evaporated. Jesse found himself looking at Shalimar a little lost for words.
"Feeling better?" she asked with a half smile.
"I..." he said slowly, but was unable to come up with anything sensible to say. "What just happened?" he asked eventually.
"Feral," Shalimar said lightly, "you gave me the old yellow eye and everything."
"Oh," was all Jesse chose to say.
The female feral put her arm round his shoulders with a grin.
"I think you and me need to have a talk about how brooding and ferals do not go together," she said cheerfully, "and how to take out feelings of frustration on inanimate objects."
Jesse let himself be led as he tried to sort out the details of what had happened to him. Shalimar seemed to be totally unconcerned, which was a blessing, and once again Jesse was very glad of his friends.
"So can you tell me what set all this off?" she asked conversationally and Jesse dragged his mind to the present.
"Smell," Jesse finally decided, "I smelled something and it distracted me."
"Any particular thing?" Shalimar asked as if she was just curious.
"I couldn't identify it," he admitted thinking back, "but I think it was coming from Brennan's room."
"Probably dirty socks," Shalimar said with a grin.
That made Jesse laugh; his friend's mood was infectious.
"So your sense of smell has kicked in," she continued lightly, "we'll have to work on that; you could find it very useful."
On that point Jesse was not so sure, but he nodded anyway. The least he had to do was learn how to cope with suddenly being assailed by overpowering smells.
"So where do we start?" he asked evenly.
"Feline feral emotions 101," Shalimar said with a smile, "we don't want you suddenly phasing off just because you have a desire to see open sky."
End of Chapter 3
On to Ch4