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
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Chapter 7 Confrontation
Something told Shalimar that all was not right. It wasn't that she heard anything or saw anything or even smelt anything, it was just an instinct. She looked at Brennan as he moved down the other side of the corridor and she just knew that they were in danger.
"Back up," she hissed quietly.
Brennan stopped where he was ahead of her and turned with a questioning look. Shalimar shook her head at him and beckoned him back; she had no explanation yet, but she was sure. Her companion looked confused, but he did not argue and he began to make his way back to her. As Shalimar turned around herself, her instincts were proved more right than she could have known.
Two men appeared from the door a few metres behind then and the cat in Shalimar hissed. She had no doubt that both men were ferals and they were canine ferals to boot. Glancing back at Brennan she saw him stand up straight and bring his hands together ready to attack. Shalimar's feline nature was telling her to attack as well, but she was not about to get in Brennan's way and she flattened herself against the wall at the two opponents approached. Her elemental partner drew his hands apart and let the electricity flow between them looking up at the enemy as he did so.
It still felt wrong, but Shalimar could not put her finger on what. They had been discovered and yet the other ferals did not seem to be surprised or afraid of Brennan's show of force. It was as the elemental raised his hands to let free a tesla coil that the sprinklers cut in.
"No!" Shalimar yelled, but it was too late; Brennan's powers turned on him as the water soaked him almost instantly; he fell to the floor writhing as the electricity ran across his body.
This was a trap; something must have given them away. Shalimar had no time to think about it now, however; as soon as Brennan collapsed the two ferals ran for her. Leaping up and over then she landed on the now wet floor behind them; neither man appeared to be as fast as her, but they were both bigger. Taking advantage of their slightly slower reflexes Shalimar kicked one of them in the back and sent him sprawling, bouncing back onto her feet in time to block an attack from the other feral.
They exchanged another few blows until she made it through his guard and side swiped him in the stomach. The man doubled over and she pushed him backwards, but turned to her other opponent barely in time to block a strike coming straight for her head. These ferals were strong, much stronger than the average new mutant with the same powers and Shalimar knew she was in trouble. Her own feral powers were highly evolved, but she was not a match for two opponents who were this strong unless luck was on her side.
Kicking at the man in front of her, she tried to put some space between herself and both attackers. Running at the wall she leapt at it and then pushed herself over backwards to land further up the corridor closer to Brennan. The elemental was lying where he had fallen, senseless, but at least still breathing. Having checked that he was alive, Shalimar focused solely on her enemies.
They came at her at the same time again and she had to dodge under one's reach while trying to avoid a kick from the other. The pincer action was not easy to avoid and the kick landed as a glancing blow on her right leg. She replied with a punch that narrowly missed the other feral's groin.
The fight continued as the three exchanged blows and it was taking all of Shalimar's skills to avoid being beaten to a pulp. Her reflexes may have been faster, but with two against one they were wearing her down. Finally as she pivoted away from one of them the other landed a stunning blow on her sternum which sent her reeling backwards towards the man she had been trying to avoid. The canine feral literally grabbed her bodily and lifting her in the air threw her at the opposite corridor wall.
Disorientated from the blow Shalimar could not stop herself and she collided with the brickwork hard her right arm taking most of the force. When she landed on the floor she was stunned and her arm was numb. The two ferals pounced on her mercilessly and as one pinned her down the other dragged her head up by the hair. Before she could do anything about it one of them fastened a collar around her neck.
That was when the pair backed away and she was left huddled on the floor. Shalimar looked up at them confused and hissed, ready for round two, but as she raised herself off the floor what felt like one of Brennan's bolts emitted from the collar and the world went away.
The idea of going to the lab scared the hell out of Jesse, but the control centre was in the lab and so he had little choice. If they were going to stop Praeteise then turning loose his captive new mutants would be a very good start. Blowing the hell out of the facility would be a good second step, but that was not an option while there were people inside.
Jesse and Emma moved down the corridor slowly, on the alert for anything, but they were unchallenged. When they reached the door, the frosted glass window showed a dark room with just a few blinking lights to indicate where the computer bank was on the other side. Trying to control his almost paralysing fear, Jesse placed his hands on the wall next to the door and phased it. As he followed Emma through all hell broke loose.
"Trap," was as far as Emma got before a stream of some sort of gas hit her in face; she folded like a house of cards.
Jesse was still holding his breath and he dived away from the noxious cloud as the lights suddenly came up. Rolling back to his feet he took in a sight that almost caused him to panic. In the centre of the room was Praeteise with his arms folded, looking smug; to Jesse's left was a woman in a collar that he half recognised; to the other side of the room were two other collared mutants one holding a damp Brennan and one holding Shalimar, whose left arm appeared to be hanging limply. The sight of both his friends wearing the same collars as the others sent cold fear up Jesse's spine.
He barely had time to react, however, as the female mutant to his left caught his gaze. As if someone had snapped the connection between his mind and his body he couldn't move and when he reached for his powers there was nothing there. Now he remembered the woman; she had been in the club the night he was taken; she was the one who had stolen his soul.
"Isn't this nice," Praeteise said as Jesse tried desperately to make his body work, "all back together again and three new recruits as well. Imagine my amazement when the internal sensors alerted me to four mutant intruders, and then when I found out one of them was you, Delta I was delighted. Every scan we did of the test centre convinced us you were dead, I had no idea you were alive until you came back to me."
The man walked towards him and out of the corner of his eye Jesse could see he was carrying another collar. This could not be happening; they could not loose like this. In complete desperation Jesse mentally screamed his need for help at the prone Emma; he was trapped and she was his only hope. Unable to see her, all he could do was pray that she was sentient enough to do something, anything that might give them a chance.
"Your two friends were quite easy to trap once I had identified them," the scientist continued conversationally. "It will be good to have a powerful elemental in our arsenal; the only one we had was subject Beta and she died before clone maturity. You were almost too fast for us, Delta, but we managed to put together this little reception. If you were wondering why your psionic friend failed to warn you of the danger it's simple really; Jaclyn here, among her other talents can create interference fields."
The man was only the other side of a lab bench now and Jesse was petrified. How could this be happening? Jesse had almost given up hope when something bright streaked past his eyes and hit Jaclyn. The woman went down and suddenly he had his body back. He glanced round to see Emma slumping back to the ground and then he turned to Praeteise. Fear slowly turned to anger. The man looked startled by the incident, but as Jesse jumped onto the bench the scientist moved rapidly back to where he had been standing when Jesse had first entered the room. Without hesitation Jesse went for him, leaping off the other side of the lab bench, but as he came close Praeteise held up a small black key fob type device he had picked up off the other bench.
"Come one step closer and every new mutant in this building dies," he said firmly and brought Jesse to a halt. "The collars are rigged to kill if failsafe is initiated; the final solution if you will."
The feelings of rage were hard to control and Jesse could barely hold himself still. The scientist's casual tone was so patronising and he appeared to have no concept of what he was saying.
"You are my first working prototype, Delta," Praeteise said with a total absence of human feeling in his eyes, "I need you back. Let's compromise; I'm willing to let your friends go if you'll just put on the restraining collar. If you resist I'll have to kill them."
To illustrate his point he waved the remote control in his hand and nodded at one of his minions. The man twisted Shalimar's damaged arm. All that he received for his trouble was a hiss of protest from the subdued feral.
"Your genetic structure is incredible," the scientist did not appear to realise that his words were not convincing Jesse to cooperate. "You survived the procedures and you even used your gestalt abilities once and lived. Your DNA is more important to me than you could possibly know."
Everything that he had been going through, every agony to every minor inconvenience coalesced in hatred so pure it took Jesse's breath away. This man had taken away his life and twisted his genes beyond recognition and now he dared to try and hurt his friends and lovers. This scientist had tried to play god and it had killed people. Feral instinct combined with complete fury and rationality left his mind. Bargaining was not an option and Jesse chose action.
The growl started low in his chest and rumbled up through his throat, which should have warned Praeteise what was coming, but the scientist appeared to still believe he had the upper hand. Swiping away the collar and the control from the man's hands in one swift move, Jesse let instinct take over and the growl turned into a hiss as he opened his mouth and spat venom in the scientist's face. Praeteise fell back with a cry and his hands went to his eyes.
"I ... will ... never ... submit," Jesse was barely capable of speech he was so angry.
This man had made him a murderer. This parody of a human being had taken everything away from him and only Adam had given it back.
"Kill it," Praeteise cried and it seemed the scientist had finally realised how dangerous his creation was.
Guns rattled and shots began to fly, but Jesse simply stood there and the bullets sheered away from his body. He was running on a completely different level now and his telekinetic ability kicked in before his imperviousness as instinct took the easiest path.
"This ... stops," he screamed at the world in general and lifted his arms above his head.
There was nothing Jesse cared about more now than preventing this man hurting anyone else. His friends, the nameless new mutants who Praeteise would destroy if allowed to continue; Jesse would not allow this to happen. Here in this place he remembered; he knew the feeling of the power contained in his cells; the sensation of mutations working in harmony and joining together in destructive glory. He reached for that feeling again and he found it, but this time he was in control. This time there would be only one death and it would stop a scientist playing god with forces he did not understand ever again.
Elemental joined with psionic which joined with molecular and fuelled by feral loyalty and fury they burst out of him at his enemy. Mutant powers fed off each other and created something that no human being would have believed possible. Jesse could feel his cells resonating with energy and he knew exactly what he wanted to do with it. A sphere of fire erupted from his body and consumed everything it touched. The bench beside him burst into flames with a level of thermal power he had never shown back at Sanctuary. Guided by telekinetic precision the fire moved outwards and claimed more of the lab.
Jesse knew his eyes would be glowing bright yellow and, when he looked into Praeteise face, he saw a man who suddenly realised what he had created. This was his enemy; the man who must be stopped and the scientist deserved no mercy. He had created an angel of death and he was going to pay for it with his life. The man barely had time to scream as the mutant fire touched him and simply vaporised his flesh.
"Jesse, no!" Shalimar screamed from where she was held and struggled with her captor.
Her words made it into his mind and the fear he heard there cut to his heart, but Jesse also knew it was too late. There was no way to stop this now, all he could do was control it. The forces inside him had been set free and there was no way to cage them now. He had to make sure this could never happen to anyone else; that no one could ever make something as dangerous as him ever again. The fire moved on, melting metal, burning wood, shattering glass and phasing straight through every human being in the room. Jesse was destroying every part of the lab; no one would be able to go on this time. His awareness reached the edge of the room, but he didn't stop; he had to remove every trace of Praeteise's work in the building; every record, every computer and every Petri dish. Jesse could no longer see the lab; all his senses were turned inwards and only his telekinetic spatial awareness combined with reptilian magnetic sensitivity guided his power onwards.
Everywhere in the complex hardware was destroyed even as people looked on in horror, but were untouched by the destruction. This time a mind controlled the power; this time conscious thought prevented death; human beings were spared, but that was all, even the collars on every new mutant split and fell to the ground. Then Jesse's awareness found something it had not expected; it found kindred. Like recognised like, but the other mind was stunted, confused, and unformed. Jesse wanted to know more, but his time was almost spent. The power coursing through his body hurt now and he knew it was over; the toll on his cells was too much and the gestalt was fading. His task was done; everything within his reach was destroyed and his awareness returned to the lab as the fire went out as suddenly as it had begun.
As vision returned, he found himself lying on his back looking up at a distraught Shalimar. Brennan was just behind her holding a groggy Emma on her feet.
"Jesse, hold on," Shalimar said urgently, "we'll get you back to Sanctuary."
The pain burning through every cell seemed to fade as Jesse looked into his lover's eyes and he didn't think there was time for them to take him home. At this point he didn't really care anymore; he had done what needed to be done and there was only one thing left before he could let go.
"Another," he said quietly with the last of his strength, "another clone."
Even as the words slipped out his vision began to fade. Jesse was so tired now and cold, all he wanted to do was sleep. With a small sigh and a regret that he could not tell the others he loved them one more time, he let the darkness take him and peaceful blackness took over his mind.
Jesse opened his eyes and found that he was incredibly surprised; he was still breathing. His reawakening was remarkably similar to his passing out as he looked up and found Shalimar looking down at him, only this time he was not lying on a cold floor he was lying on a padded examination couch and Shalimar did not look distraught she looked determined.
"If you ever do anything so stupid ever again," she said pointedly, the moment he focused on her face, "I will kill you myself; slowly. Do you understand?"
Jesse just blinked at her for a moment and finally nodded.
"Good," she said and then kissed him firmly on the lips.
Then the fact that his whole body ached made it into Jesse's head. He was suddenly of the opinion that if he ever tried that again death, even at the hands of Shalimar, might be the more comfortable option.
"How long?" Jesse asked, trying to distract himself from the discomfort.
"You've been asleep three days," Shalimar supplied helpfully. "Adam pulled off a miracle bringing you back, again."
Jesse could hear the very strong reprimand in her tone.
"And we don't want him to have to do that anymore," Brennan's voice joined the conversation and it appeared that everyone was going to make sure Jesse understood he was never to do anything like his gestalt trick ever again.
"I get it," he promised quietly, "no suicidal explosions, ever."
"Just so we're clear," Brennan said with his most stern expression that cracked into a smile before he could hold it more than a couple of seconds. "We do not want to lose you."
Jesse put his hand on his heart.
"Scouts honour," he promised faithfully.
Only as Shalimar moved away slightly did Jesse notice that he was not the only one in the wars and he remembered she had appeared injured in the lab. Shalimar's arm was strapped up and Jesse was pretty sure she was supposed to be using the sling that was hanging uselessly from her neck.
"Is everyone else okay?" he asked quickly.
"We're all fine," Shalimar promised faithfully. "My bandages are coming off tomorrow, Brennan didn't do too much damage when he fried himself and the gas used on Emma wasn't very long lasting. You're the only one who managed to do anything serious."
She gave him a glare to make sure her point was made and he gave her a repentant look in return. It was then that Emma walked into the room and trailing slightly behind her, holding her hand, was a small blond boy of about seven years old in appearance. Jesse's heart jumped as he found himself looking at a carbon copy of him as a child.
"Hi, Jesse," Emma greeted with a smile, "I'd like you to meet Martin."
The boy looked at him with solemn blue eyes and it was the most peculiar experience.
"You were a cute kid," Brennan observed irreverently, "shame you grew up."
Jesse just gave him a dirty look and Emma led the boy further into the room.
"We found Martin in a stasis pod a level down from the lab," the telempath explained without having to be asked. "They were using some sort of brain inhibitor on him, we think so another consciousness could be transferred in," she did not mention that the consciousness had probably been intended to be Jesse's, "but Adam removed it. We haven't managed to coax him to speak yet, but he appears to have some form of genetic memory about most other things."
With a concerted effort, Jesse propped himself up on one arm to give himself a better view of the boy.
"Hi," he greeted slowly, feeling somehow close to the youngster, but also very strange about the whole situation.
At the greeting the boy smiled.
"He's a cheerful little guy," Shalimar said lightly, "so he couldn't have got everything from you."
It was obviously get Jesse back for making them worry time and all in all he decided he deserved it, but he gave Shalimar a similar dirty look to the one he had given Brennan just to keep up appearances. It would not do to let either of them get away with their quips completely; Jesse had no wish to end up the butt of jokes from here to eternity.
He would have tried to find a comeback, but he was too tired. He found that he couldn't even hold himself up on one arm for long and he had to lie back down.
"You're tired," Shalimar observed in an over protective, slightly anxious way.
It was not difficult to tell that she had been very shaken up by the whole experience; Shalimar did not take well to members of her pack being in danger.
"We should let you get some more sleep," she decided firmly and usually when Shalimar used that tone of voice no one argued with her.
This time, however, Jesse risked it; he was tired, but he didn't think he could sleep again just yet and he was enjoying the company.
"Shal," he said quietly, "I am not going to break and I've been asleep for three days."
Shalimar looked like she was going to argue the point, but Brennan put his hand on her arm.
"Jesse do you promise to just fall asleep if you feel like it?" his male lover asked in as serious a tone as he could manage.
"Trust me," Jesse said with a half-smile, "an earthquake wouldn't stop me."
He turned his wide blue eyes onto Shalimar knowing that she would never be able to resist in her current emotional state.
"Come on," he said cajolingly, "someone has to fill me on what I've missed ... again."
Shalimar put her hands on her hips and her expression said that she knew that she was being manipulated, but she finally smiled.
"Don't think those baby blues will work a second time," she warned lightly. "And don't get used to sleeping through the clean up; next mission I'm going to be the one cosy and warm as the rest of you do all the hard work."
Jesse favoured her with a grin.
"So what did I miss?" he asked, relaxing back onto the couch.
"Well," Brennan provided happily, "Praeteise had fifteen new mutants in his employ, but all of them were very glad to regain their freedom. Those collars are nasty; they play with your mind; I'll take a sub dermal governor anytime."
"We put any who wanted to go into the underground," Emma took up the story, "and helped the others to go home. Praeteise had interfered with some of their mutations, but Adam will stay in contact with them to make sure they're okay."
The news did not surprise Jesse, he would have expected no less of the leader of Mutant X; Adam always seemed to take responsibility for other's mistakes as well as his own.
"And the people running the facility?" the young mutant asked.
"Running scared," Shalimar told him firmly, "it seems that their operation was very black; so black in fact that none of the regular military will admit to knowing anything about it. Since you destroyed everything there are no records to trace back to the money, but it means they can't rebuild either."
The feral patted Jesse on the arm to let him know that she approved of his actions if not the method.
"Your explosion was very impressive," Brennan said with a grin, "every soldier in the place just surrendered when we tried to leave and the scientists were so busy thinking up their excuses that cleaning them out was easy. Adam's friends in the government sent some people to help out once we'd done all the hard work."
"Sounds like sleeping was the best option," Jesse commented and found himself yawning; he recognised the feeling.
He had suffered from an inability to keep awake for extended periods of time last time he had woken up, but Jesse fought off the desire to close his eyes. It would be impossible to fight the desire eventually and was an indication that his genetic structure had fluxed, but he did not want to sleep yet. There was a large stubborn streak in Jesse's nature and he wanted to talk.
"What about Maria?" he asked and stifled another yawn.
"Back home with her SO," Emma replied with a smile. "I think Adam has plans for her if she's willing. Her abilities are remarkable; his words not mine."
"Another recruit for the cause," Jesse said lightly. "Did anyone warn her about our glorious leader?"
"Seemed pointless," Shalimar said cheerfully, "there is no stopping the force that is Adam."
Jesse found himself laughing around another yawn and this time when he blinked he found it harder to open his eyes again. It was a little frustrating, but even Jesse's stubborn streak knew futility when it saw it. He saw a knowing smile playing on Shalimar's face.
"I'm not asleep yet," he protested with another heavy lidded blink.
"Yes you are," Shalimar said quietly, "you're just imagining being awake."
Jesse would have objected again, but it was far too much effort. He made a mental note to get the others back for being so smug and finally let his eyes close. He felt the brush of lips against his forehead and them he drifted back into sleep.
The after effects of the gestalt this time were not as long lasting as they had been the previous time. Adam had told Jesse that this was because his genetic structure was more stable when the event occurred, but that didn't stop it being uncomfortable. He was confined to the lab as before and he tired easily, but there had been hints that he would be set free shortly. When Adam walked in carrying a sheaf of paper, Jesse hoped his time had come.
"Your tests are looking positive," the scientist said evenly, "I'd like you to stay here today, but I don't see why you can't go in the morning."
"Great," Jesse said sitting up from where he was leaning back on the examination couch.
"But," Jesse could have guessed there was a 'but' coming, "we need to have a talk first."
So far everyone else had given him the don't-ever-do-anything-so-stupid speech at least twice; he had been waiting for the same thing from Adam.
"I promise I won't do it again," Jesse said trying to pre-empt the whole thing, but the look on Adam's face told him he wasn't going to get away that easily.
"Good," the scientist said ignoring the hint, "because next time it may be worse than the first time."
That gained Jesse's attention; any mention of the incident at the test facility always gained his attention.
"I ran an analysis of both scenes," the older man explained calmly, "and then I ran some scenarios in the computer. If you gestalt again you may kill more than yourself. Your gestalt power increased significantly from the first incident to the second and although you had more control, if the same increase occurs again, you will lose it and in all likelihood you will go up like a small nuclear bomb."
That sounded like an exaggeration, but looking at his companion Jesse did not think Adam was embellishing the truth. It was difficult to imagine.
"I don't understand," he admitted.
"I've told you that gestalts were unstable," Adam explained. "I thought I had eliminated the possibility that you could ever use yours again. Your powers react together in the gestalt and after a certain point they will turn on you. The thing about your particular set of powers is that the probability is when you loose control completely your molecular mutation combined with your telekinetic mutation will go subatomic."
Jesse just stared at Adam for a moment; it sounded farfetched.
"Subatomic," he said slowly, trying to get his head round the idea, "but then I could..."
Jesse did not finish the sentence as he realised what his companion was implying.
"Split the atom," Adam completed it for him. "Your molecular mutation allows you to control the forces between atoms, you telekinetic power affects forces, if your gestalt goes out of control your abilities could increase to the point where you could affect the bonds between subatomic particles. You could take out half a city in a nuclear explosion."
The idea was hideous and Jesse just sat there, staring at the floor, letting it sink in. Mutant powers could be destructive on the small scale, but this was huge; even when he had had the virus that sent his powers out of control this had never been an option.
"Jesse," Adam said firmly, "this is only a possibility and one which can never happen if you do not use the gestalt ability. I'm telling you this because I want you to understand that there is no situation that could ever be worth the risk."
Jesse gave his companion a nod although he was still reeling from the idea and did not look up at the older man.
"I know you too well, Jesse," his friends said in a much warmer tone, "if you thought you could save the others by using your gestalt even though it would kill you, you'd do it. I've tried to make it impossible for you, but I can't, so I need you to realise exactly what you'd be doing."
Now Jesse looked up. Adam's eyes were serious, but his expression was very supportive.
"I understand," Jesse said steadily.
"Good," the other man said and now he smiled, "I'm glad we have that out of the way. The other thing I wanted to talk to you about is Martin."
It was such a turn around that Jesse's mind had to do a back flip to catch up. He blinked and shook himself out of the apocalyptic gloom that had descended on him.
"He's a sweet kid," Jesse acknowledged.
"And adapting rapidly," Adam told the younger man cheerfully. "I must admit to being surprised by his remarkable progress; technically he should be at the developmental stage of an infant, but he exhibits the prowess of a child of his physical size. I can only reason that Praeteise's technique of using a new mutant to speed Martin's growth caused the partial genetic memory."
A vague memory of the growth process tried to make it into Jesse's mind, but he squashed it with ruthless force; now was not the time for anything like that.
"Emma says he's genetically me," the blond mutant said quickly, "I mean, me as I was before they re-engineered me, not me now."
"Yes," he replied openly, "although his powers are far more developed than yours would have been at the same physical age; which is why I wanted to talk to you about him. Martin has some control, but he is nowhere near as proficient as you and until he has more command of his mutation I do not believe it is safe to place him with a family. I would like you to help him; after all you understand your molecular mutation better than anyone else."
The request caused two emotions in Jesse; one was a great feeling of warmth and pride that Adam thought he was capable of doing this; and the other was a vague fear at the responsibility. He chose to go with the former.
"No problem," he said with a half-smile.
"That's settled then," Adam said with pleasure, "you can start tomorrow. I wouldn't suggest you try and use your own powers for another couple of days, but that shouldn't provide too much of an obstacle with helping Martin."
At the show of faith and the finality in the statement the fear came back; self-doubt was not a good emotion for a new mutant so Jesse stamped on it.
"Adam," he said half to distract himself and half because he wanted to know, "why doesn't he talk?"
The other man had been turning away, but he paused at the question.
"I don't know," the scientist admitted honestly, "he seems to exhibit most other motor skills and he understands what the rest of us are saying. Maybe he just doesn't have anything to say."
It was not exactly the scientific answer that Jesse had been hoping for, but it appeared to be the only theory Adam was going to impart.
"Get some more rest, Jesse," Adam said calmly, walking back towards the door, "you're going to need it."
Of that Jesse had no doubt.
End of Chapter 7
On to Ch8