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 8 Living On
Martin was a nice child and from the times he had visited the lab with Emma he seemed to like Jesse, but that didn't stop Jesse from feeling nervous. The boy spent most of his time with Emma and Jesse felt vaguely like an interloper when he walked up to where the pair was sitting cross legged on the floor after Adam set him loose from his confinement.
"Hi Jess," Emma greeted brightly, "Martin and I were just practicing our focusing. Would you care to join us?"
"Only if you promise not to show me up," Jesse replied, hiding his anxiety behind humour.
"Oh I think we can arrange that," Emma replied as if she had no idea what was really going through Jesse's head.
Emma always tried to keep her powers to herself, but strong emotion usually made it through to her somehow and Jesse had no doubt he was emoting now. Doing his best to calm himself, the blond mutant took up position the opposite side of Martin to Emma and sat down.
"We were working on breath control," his friend explained calmly and Jesse followed her lead.
They spent a good half hour practicing various focussing techniques before Emma turned around and smiled at them brightly.
"Well there are things I've been neglecting," she said cheerfully, "so I'll leave you boys together. If you need me I'll be in my room."
And with that she was gone before Jesse had any time to adjust to the idea. It didn't really help that the short kata they had just been doing had left him tired. He looked at Martin and the boy gazed back with identical blue eyes: Jesse wasn't quite sure what to do.
"Guess we get to do what we want," he said after a few seconds. "Had enough of the focusing?"
The boy smiled at him and nodded.
"Hungry?" Jesse asked, knowing that he always seemed to be peckish these days and suspecting that Martin would be too.
That gained him an even bigger smile and a very enthusiastic nod.
"Good," he said in a conspiratorial whisper, "so am I. Let's find food."
It didn't take long to track down some bread and an obscene number of fillings, after which Jesse and Martin bonded while making a mess. The boy did not speak, but he communicated so well on other levels that Jesse didn't really feel as if he was talking to himself the entire time. Whatever genetic memory Martin had, it seemed to include some of Jesse's mannerisms as he recognised a lot of himself in the child.
Once they had made their creations, they tidied and then retired to the upstairs table to eat. Jesse was amazed that such a small frame could put away so much food as Martin then proceeded to demolish his sandwich about twice as fast he did. Of course the fact that Jesse was talking and the boy was not probably had something to do with it as well.
"So, Adam says you're having a little problem controlling your powers," Jesse said eventually as Martin finally took a breather.
The boy looked at him a little unsure and then gave a small shrug.
"Let me guess," he said quietly and leant towards the child, "you try to phase and it makes you feel like you're going to vanish forever and then you get scared and forget what you're supposed to be doing and bits phase back in even though you don't want them to?"
Martin's eyes grew wide with surprise and he nodded slowly.
"Used to happen to me all the time," Jesse said honestly with a smile. "Now all the focusing stuff Emma's being showing you is great, and you do have to concentrate, but I have a secret."
His companion looked intrigued.
"You know that tight feeling you get just as you phase out?" he continued.
Martin frowned for a second as if thinking about it and then slowly gave the affirmative.
"You have to hold on to it," Jesse explained calmly. "When you feel it, you need to grab it, and then when you phase out it helps stop the feeling that you're turning into nothing."
Martin thought about this for a few moments and then he slowly smiled. Looking at Jesse his grinned, and then he phased. Jesse was impressed: the boy held it for a good few seconds before his arm phased back in, quickly followed by the rest of him.
"Not bad," Jesse told him supportively, "you'll be phasing through walls before you know it."
Martin beamed at him.
Emma walked back into the main part of Sanctuary not sure what she would find and she didn't quite expect the sight which greeted her. Martin was sitting on the floor in the rec. area holding an apple in front of him. He had an expression of supreme concentration on his face and he was phasing his hand and the apple in an out at regular intervals. Jesse was sprawled in the chair behind the boy completely out for the count.
As Emma walked towards them, Martin looked up and smiled: he put his finger to his lips and glanced back at Jesse. Emma couldn't help smiling: it was just too cute.
"Hi, Martin," she said in no more than a whisper, "have you had a good afternoon?"
The boy nodded solemnly and held out the apple, phasing it as he did so. He kept it phased for at least ten seconds and then let it return: Emma was impressed.
"That's very good," she praised honestly; the previous day Martin had not even been able to hold a phase for more than a second with any degree of control.
"Jesse taught me," Martin said frankly and went back to practicing.
Emma just stood there for a moment with her mouth open: okay so she definitely hadn't expected that.
Jesse watched Martin as he massed himself out and walked calmly across the room. Moving and phasing or massing was actually a lot more difficult than it may have appeared and Jesse was pleased when Martin made it over a metre. Over the past two and a half weeks the boy had made very good progress and was more than what Jesse would define as proficient. Martin still didn't talk much, but he had proved on a couple of occasions that he was quite capable of doing so if he wished.
From the nervous start he had made, Jesse had progressed to enjoying his role as mentor enormously. The additional powers he had gained sometimes made him feel as if he had shifted back to square one, but being able to teach someone else all he knew about his molecular mutation had given him a real ego boost. These days Jesse and Martin spent a good percentage of the day together and Jesse could not help thinking of the boy as a younger sibling.
"Jesse," Adam said walking into the room, "may I have a few moments of your time please?"
Jesse turned and smiled.
"Sure, Adam," he said lightly. "Martin, see if you can work on phasing the table. I know it's big but you almost managed it last time and I'm sure you can do it."
The child nodded with a confident smile and then Jesse gave his attention to Adam. The two men stepped outside the room, but Jesse kept one eye on Martin through the open door. The kid was trying very hard to phase the table and a couple of times he almost had it.
"I wanted to tell you first," Adam said when Jesse glanced at him, "I believe I have found a home for Martin."
The news caused Jesse to focus solely on his mentor and his first instinct was to tell his companion that there was no way he was letting Martin go. Feral and human emotions joined to insist that the boy was part of the Mutant X family now and they would not let him leave. However, common sense also told him that this was the only good and fair thing for the youngster.
Taking a deep breath Jesse tried to suppress his outrage at the suggestion and listen to the rational voice in his head instead: it was not the easiest thing to do.
"I see," he said slowly giving himself time to come to terms with the news.
"I'm sorry, Jesse," Adam said sympathetically, "but he needs a home that may not come under attack at any second."
Jesse nodded and tried to clear his head.
"It's alright, Adam," he said slowly, "I've always known this was coming: it's just difficult to deal with now it's here. I'm sort of used to the way things are now."
Adam smiled supportively: the older man seemed to understand.
"Do you mind if I break the news to him?" Jesse asked before his companion could speak.
"That was what I was going to suggest," the scientist admitted, "I think he will take it better from you. They're a good family, not too far away and they've taken younger mutants before. He'll be with good people."
Jesse glanced back at where Martin was still trying hard to phase the table: part of him felt as if he was loosing his own child. The fact that the boy would be much safer and more secure was a faint comfort against that.
"How long?" he asked eventually.
"Just under a week," Adam replied calmly.
With a nod Jesse turned to walk back in to the room.
"I'll tell him this evening," he said quietly.
Putting on his best smile Jesse went back to Martin, trying to figure out how he would deal with this.
"Hey, squirt," Jesse greeted lightly as he found Martin playing a game on his workstation.
The boy had taken to computers like a duck to water and after dinner he could often be found playing or surfing. Almost as if he sensed that something was coming, Martin did not smile his usual greeting and continue playing, he shut of the game and looked at Jesse seriously.
"We need to talk," Jesse said and offered the child his hand, "about your future."
Martin slipped his smaller hand into Jesse's and climbed out of the chair; perfectly willing to follow wherever Jesse wanted to go. The calm, soulful eyes the boy turned on him almost made Jesse's heart break.
"You know I love you, right?" Jesse asked when they finally reached a quiet spot where they were unlikely to be disturbed.
"I love you too," Martin replied, which made Jesse smile.
The whole team had come to love the boy; he was part of their family now, but Jesse felt a special connection.
"Well sometimes," he continued to explain, "we have to do things for those we love that we don't want to because we know it will be best for them."
He really didn't want to give up Martin, even if the youngster did curb his sex life and make him worry about the most ridiculous things. If he had not known quite how dangerous his life was and quite how impossible it was for him to live like a normal human being, he would have seriously considered leaving Mutant X and trying for something where he could have kept Martin.
"You're sending me away," Martin said with the uncanny perception that made him such an extraordinary child.
"Not far," Jesse said, not even trying to deny it, "and I will visit all the time, we all will, but somewhere you'll be safe and be a regular kid. Adam has found a really neat family for you and they already have another kid about your age so you'll have someone to be friends with."
He was trying to be upbeat, but the sadness in Martin's eyes mirrored his own and on impulse he dragged the boy into a hug.
"I will never be more than a call or an email away," he promised, holding the small version of himself close. "You're my little brother as far as I'm concerned and nothing will ever change that. I'm feral and you can never shake us."
Martin clung to him as hard as he was clinging to Martin and he did not want to let go. How a child he had found disconcerting on their first meeting had crawled so completely into his heart he wasn't sure, but it had definitely happened. Eventually they had to break apart and he could see unshed tears in Martin's eyes.
"Hey," he said, brushing away the dampness gently before the tears could fall, "we have a week before you have to move and we're going to have a great time. We'll visit your new family as well and if you hate them I'll make sure Adam tries again. I'm not leaving you, okay?"
The small boy took a deep breath, swallowing the hurt and then nodded at him, trying to smile. It was clear that Martin could see this was as difficult for Jesse as it was for him and that made it all the harder.
"Come on," Jesse said, refusing to give in to the melancholy that threatened, "let's go have some fun."
This had to be, it was what was right for Martin and Jesse refused to give in to his selfish desires. He was not losing Martin, he was just gaining more extended family and that was how he was determined to look at it.
Staring at a wall was not exactly the activity of choice for most individuals and normally Jesse would have found it very boring, but he was trying to think and it gave the rest of him something to do while his mind worked. He was so wrapped up in his own thoughts that he didn't even notice Shalimar walking up to him until she was no more than a few feet away. These days that was unusual.
"Hey, Jess," she greeted warmly, "we're just about ready to take Martin to his new home, are you coming?"
It was that very event that had started Jesse's mind spinning and he nodded absently.
"I'll be there in a minute," he said with a small frown and did not turn to look at her.
Jesse really didn't expect the feral to let him get away with such a vague answer and he was not surprised when his companion sat down beside him.
"What's up, Jesse?" Shalimar asked openly. "You look worried."
"Not worried, just not sure what to do," he admitted after a few moments.
"If you're worried about Martin, don't be," Shalimar said in a supportive tone, "he's only going a few miles down the coast. I'm sure you can visit him any time you want."
Now Jesse turned to look at his companion and she stopped talking when she saw his face.
"It's not exactly Martin," he admitted with a sigh, "but he did get me thinking. As far as the world is concerned Jesse Kilmartin is dead and buried, I was trying to decide if it should stay that way."
Shalimar's sympathetic smile disappeared and her expression became very serious.
"You have family, Jesse," she said slowly, "and I know you've not exactly been close lately, but family is family."
"Mutant X is my family," Jesse replied evenly, "you've been my family for a long time now and you are the only ones who know I'm alive."
With calm certainty Shalimar took his hands and made Jesse look at her.
"The only reason Adam didn't tell your family you were alive was because he wanted you well before you had to go through that," she said firmly. "I saw your mother at the funeral; she was distraught. She needs to know that you are still with us."
"You don't know my family," Jesse said and pulled his hands away, turning back to the wall. "It's easier for them this way. Jesse the freak is dead and they can remember him fondly without having to worry that he'll show up at a family gathering. I like to pretend I have great parents, but you already know that's not true. Maybe it's time I face reality and just leave things as they are."
Jesse knew his tone was bitter, but he couldn't help himself; his childhood had been less than straightforward and coming back from the dead had made him face a few home truths.
"Jesse," Shalimar said evenly, "a mother who loses her cub is never again whole."
Then she stood up and began to walk away.
"We leave in ten," she added as an after thought and left Jesse to his musings.
Shalimar might have been right, but Jesse was not sure he wanted to take the risk. It was equally possible that his mother would turn around and refuse to believe the truth, after all Jesse was technically not the same person any more. His DNA was different, his fingerprints were different; just about the only thing he had to prove who he was, was his mind. Would that be enough for a family who had really not known how to deal with him in the first place?
Totally undecided as to what to do, he picked himself up off the floor where he was sitting and wandered towards the hanger bay.
It was late and everything was quiet, even Shalimar couldn't hear anything accept the quiet running of Sanctuary's infrastructure. She was lying in her alcove in a post-coital haze between Brennan and Jesse and she was quite content. Sex had been good, but quite frankly this was the part that meant the most to her. Brennan had fallen asleep behind her as she was cocooned in his arms and she was holding Jesse in the same way in front of her. Shalimar felt loved and happy.
Jesse was not yet completely asleep and she gently stroked his hair as he dozed lightly. Letting Martin go had been quite hard on him, but he seemed pleased to re-establish the relationship with Shalimar and Brennan that had been on hold while the child was around. The feral had been unsure that Jesse would have wanted to leap back in quite so quickly, but it had been Jesse who had initiated the encounter.
This was not the simplest of relationships and all three of them brought quite a lot of emotional baggage with them, but Shalimar did not really care about that. This was good; it felt right and she was not going to let anything change that.
She and Brennan had talked a lot since the trio's first afternoon together and she had no doubt that her original lover was in this for the long haul. The protective team leading instincts that Brennan had always displayed had not taken long to morph into much more personal ones where Jesse was concerned and the two men were completely comfortable in each other's presence. Brennan would always be the alpha male, but Jesse seemed to have adjusted to that; in fact since his feral had emerged, he seemed better adjusted to it than he ever had before.
It was not always easy to understand Jesse; he was such a mixture of human and feral that his reactions were strange to both sides of the equation. When it came to sex he was all feral, when it came to emotional response he was somewhere in between. Shalimar doubted that half the time Jesse knew how he'd react himself and the conversation they had had that morning had surprised her. Jesse was no longer close to his family, especially after the debacle with his father, but suggesting that he might never let them know he was alive seemed contrary to his nature; Jesse would never let someone suffer if he could do something about it.
The conundrum that was Jesse was very complex these days and, although Shalimar was confident that they would work through any problems he may have, she was definitely going to keep a close eye on him for some time to come. Hence one of the reasons she was still awake. Falling asleep tucked between the two men she loved most in the world would have been easy, but she was not going to do so until Jesse fell asleep first.
Shalimar thought that he was about to drift off when suddenly he spoke.
"Shal," he said quietly in a tone that indicated he had been pondering a subject for some time.
"Yeah, Jess," she said equally as quietly.
"You know Adam thinks I killed Praeteise accidentally?" Jesse continued softly.
"Uh-hmm," Shalimar replied, still stroking his hair.
"You know I didn't, right?" he said in little more than a whisper. "You know I knew exactly what I was doing?"
"Yes, love," she reassured him calmly, "I know. It was the only thing to do."
Adam had not actually asked Jesse why Praeteise had died; the scientist had assumed that since the young mutant saved everyone else he had simply not been able to control his gestalt that soon after initialising it. Shalimar on the other hand had been there and she had seen the fury in Jesse's eyes. She did not know what Brennan thought about the incident, but she doubted the elemental believed as Adam did. Their scientist leader was an idealist; several of his team were not. Adam would have tried to save Praeteise, redeem him somehow, the way he had tried to redeem Ashlocke, but Shalimar was of the opinion that the only safe option had been the one Jesse took.
After her reply, Jesse relaxed completely again as if her words were all he needed to set the matter to rest. He was close to falling asleep, Shalimar could tell, but he was not quite there yet. It would not be long now and then she would be able to fall asleep certain in the knowledge that her mates were safe. This was not simply another relationship for Shalimar; this was forever.
End of Chapter 8
Jesse sat behind the wheel looking at the house through the half open driver's window of the car. It was a large impressive house and it had been in his family for three generations. Technically it should have been his home, but since his parents had split it had not exactly been a cradle of love. Coping with a marriage split and a rebellious child who could phase through things must have been difficult, but Jesse was pretty sure his mother could have done a better job than she had.
The easy option was to start the car and leave his past behind forever, but Shalimar's words would not let him go; 'A mother who loses her cub is never again whole.' Jesse knew his mother deserved better than that. So far he had been sitting in the car for nearly an hour and still hadn't scraped together enough courage to go up to the house.
Jesse had turned the radio off and taken the keys out of the ignition ten minutes before, but he hadn't yet opened the door. After all he'd been through the past months this should have been the easy part, after all it wasn't as if he hadn't known his mother all his life. He decided suddenly that he was being ridiculous and he'd come this far so he might as well get on with it. Before he could change his mind, Jesse pressed the button to close the window, grabbed the door handle, climbed out of the car and slammed the door behind him. He barely registered the bleep of the central locking as he walked resolutely towards the gate.
He was halfway across the road when he decided that the gate was a bad idea and shifted direction to the garden wall. The high structure was designed to keep intruders out, but then most intruders couldn't walk through it like it wasn't there. It took Jesse only a couple of seconds to phase straight through the wall and then he was in the copse of trees at the end of the garden. The house had security, but Jesse knew where all of it was; he'd even hacked into the supplier's records to make sure it hadn't been updated. Moving to the other side of the house was easy and he intended to slip in the back door to check out the lay of the land before he actually made contact.
What brought his plan to a sudden halt was the sight he found in the back garden. There was a fishpond halfway down the garden with a stone bench in front of it; it had been one of Jesse's favourite places when he had lived there. He could have been found watching the fish on many occasions when he needed to get away from his family.
Sat on the bench staring at the water was the motionless figure of his mother. She was dressed all in black and she was staring at the ripples on the pond's surface. Jesse could not see her face from his vantage point and almost silently he moved closer. The woman did not react at all even when Jesse ended up standing just behind her and he was reflected in the water. Now he was here he really didn't know what to say.
"Hi, Jesse," his mother said suddenly still staring at the pond, "I knew if I'd find you anywhere it would be here. That dismal cemetery just isn't you; I knew you wouldn't stay."
After the initial shock of being spoken to so calmly wore off, Jesse started to realise that his mother wasn't really talking to him. Her voice held the dreamy quality of someone talking to something that wasn't there; she thought his reflection was a hallucination. Jesse had never seen his mother like this and for a few moments he was frozen in place. Eventually he reached out his hand and put it on her shoulder.
"Mom," he said quietly at a loss for anything else to say.
His mother looked round sharply and stared up at him as if she didn't really see him at first. Then she blinked and her eyes filled with tears as her expression became one of wonder.
"Jesse?" she said hesitantly, as if she was afraid this was a dream.
The question was so desperate and confused that Jesse found his heart in his throat. He had never expected this. The other members of Mutant X had told him how distraught him mother had been at the funeral, but he had not really believed them. His family were of a stoic breed and big shows of emotions were kept behind closed doors. Looking into her eyes now, Jesse had a revelation; his mother loved him with all her heart.
"Yes, Mom," he told her in no more than a whisper, "it's really me."
With a heartfelt sob the woman stood up and enfolded Jesse in a tight hug. It was stunning to him; his dad had been a hugger, but his mother had never been one for outwards signs of affection and the move took him completely by surprise. Slowly he returned the gesture. It was the first time he could remember since he was a small boy that his mother had taken him in her arms, since before his powers had first shown themselves. It was then that it occurred to him that maybe he hadn't been the only one afraid of his mutation. He also considered the idea that his 'death' might be the perfect excuse to wipe the slate clean and start again. His mother had obviously changed and for once it felt, if not good, then at least okay to be home.
Eventually his mother pulled back and just looked at him. Tears were rolling down her face and she looked so genuinely joyful at seeing him that he could find nothing to say. Jesse had no previous experience with his mother in this state to know how to react, but she didn't seem to care.
"My little boy's home," she said and enveloped him in a hug again.
Shalimar turned to Brennan where they were hiding in the bushes and they shared a surprised look.
"Well that was not what I was expecting," Brennan said slowly.
Shalimar had to nod, she for one had not expected the meeting to go in quite that manner. Hysterics had been a definite possibility, but from her viewpoint all she saw was completely genuine emotion. It had been she who insisted that they follow Jesse on his return home, but it wasn't as if Brennan had taken much persuading. Sneaking around behind people's backs was not something Shalimar always approved of, but when it came to Jesse's welfare she was quite happy to do anything necessary. At the moment paranoia was her middle name.
"If she hurts him I'll rip her heart out," she said succinctly and turned to head back the way they had come.
"That would be difficult to explain," Brennan commented as he followed her, "maybe you should let me electrocute her; much easier to cover up."
Shalimar glanced back to give her companion a long hard look. Brennan did not look as if he was making fun of her.
"What, I'm not allowed to be protective as well?" Brennan said with a half smile.
It had been a long tense morning, but at that Shalimar finally grinned.
"I still think the ripping the heart out is more epic," she replied and went back to crawling through the undergrowth.