DISCLAIMER: Mutant X belongs to Tribune, Marvel Comics and I think the WB, now. I don't know, they're not mine so don't sue.
SPOILERS: Small ones for 'Inferno' but it would actually make more sense if you've seen the episode.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: I have a very unhealthy obsession with this episode. :P
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Inferno Redux
By Anne

-Let me one you call, if you jump I'll break your fall.
Lift you up and fly away with you into the night…
If you need to fall apart, I can mend a broken heart-

Emma felt Ray leaving her, her mind and her body once again her own. Her thoughts & emotions were clearer, much freer than usual. Glancing up at Brennan, she gave him a reassuring smile, her big blue eyes bright and clear. He held her eyes for a moment, searching for something before his hands touched her face briefly and he let her go, breathing a sigh of relief. He offered a relieved smile towards the other two, letting them know that Emma was Emma again. She was okay.

"Emma?" Shalimar's voice was soft, uncertain. It wasn't that she didn't trust Brennan's judgment; she just really needed to see that Emma was alright for herself.

Emma turned to face her, concern and disbelief on her features as she shifted her gaze between the burning remains of the tavern and the blonde in front of her. "Shal, how did you-" She trailed off, not quite knowing how to word her question and seeing the fear still deeply rooted in golden brown orbs told her that she didn't need to.

Shalimar shrugged, a slight but terrified smiling curving her lips as she met Emma's gaze. "I don't know. I guess my fear of losing you was stronger than my fear of the fire." She told her honestly, holding her eyes in a meaningful stare.

There was something different in the way Shalimar had said those words, something different in the way she was looking at Emma as she answered her. It was very different than usual relief. There was something deeper in everything that Shalimar was giving off at the moment. Emma stepped closer to her and wrapped her arms around Shal's neck. Shalimar returned her hug, holding her tight as she buried her face in Emma's neck.

"All I know is, I don't wanna try that again." Shalimar retorted, squeezing Emma tighter.

The emotions Emma was receiving from Shalimar were many and most of them were too deep and far too confusing for Emma to even try to decipher them. The two that stood out the most, the strongest ones out of the bunch were love and relief. Emma could deal with those ones, they were normal. They were emotions she was accustomed to from the feral.

Emma hugged Shal tighter, nestling her body closer to the blonde's as she closed her eyes and concentrated. Maybe if she focused a little harder and blocked out the other's, she could figure out what Shalimar was feeling. Shalimar gave her another squeeze, a tiny sigh of relief escaping her mouth before she let Emma go and stepped back. Shalimar was aware of the guys standing behind them, waiting for them to finish.

Emma looked at her carefully, her blue eyes never once leaving Shalimar's brown ones until she felt Brennan move behind her.

"Let's go." Shalimar instructed, shaking them both out of the daze they seemed to had fallen into.

The ride back to Sanctuary was quiet; Emma was lost in thought, mourning a person she didn't know but understood better than herself, Shalimar was still dealing with the after effects of her fear and how it had almost cost Emma her life and the guys; they were quiet for once, understanding that the girls really just needed some quiet time.

Arriving home, Shalimar immediately stalked off to her room. She was angry with herself, silently berating her illogical fear of the fire thanks to her feline DNA. If she would have hesitated just a minute longer, Emma would have been dead. That was the only thing that was going through the feral's mind currently. Emma could have died because of her. It was a hard thing to deal with, especially when she was already trying to deal with her fear.

Emma could feel Shalimar's emotions, her conflicting feelings on the events of tonight but at the moment, she had her own emotional issues to deal with. After vowing to talk to Shalimar the next day, assuring Brennan that she was okay and alone in her body, Emma disappeared to her room for the night as well.

The fear woke Emma up from a dead sleep. She must have been exhausted; she usually never slept that deep. The pain, the panic was so real, so deeply embedded into her emotions it drove Emma into a sitting position on her bed, her hands coming up to push her hair back as she rubbed her eyes. She slowly blinked the sleep out of her eyes and looked around, scanning her room for the reason of her disturbance. Finding nothing, Emma shook her head, convinced that it had just been a bad dream. A very realistic bad dream, but still not real. She leaned back; snuggling back under her covers and shut her eyes, feeling the sleep world tugging at her.

It was the soft whimper that caused her to roll out of her bed and pad down the hallway softly. It wasn't a nightmare, the feelings were real, the emotions that were flooding her system were coming from someone inside Sanctuary and Emma knew exactly who they were from. Shaking off her guilt at not talking to Shalimar earlier, Emma paused outside of the feral's bedroom door and listened for a moment before knocking gently. The wave of dread and terror that overcame Emma halted her movements completely and she had to press her fingers against her temples to try and relieve some of the pain. Closing her eyes against the pain, she breathed in and out deeply for a few seconds, pushing it away before she straightened up and shook her head.

Shalimar certainly wasn't going to hear her if she knocked, especially not if those emotions were being fed from her. Emma pushed the door open as quietly as she could, standing in the doorway to survey the room. Shalimar was sprawled out across her bed, the sheets and blankets tangled up around her. The look on her face broke Emma's heart, and the psionic quickly stepped into the room and shut the door after her. Shalimar's whimpers were growing louder, the horror in her dream winning obviously from her state of mind. Emma tiptoed over to the bed, briefly wondering why she was trying to be so quiet when she probably should have woken Shalimar up. Instead, she seated herself on the edge of the bed and reached out her hands, her fingers brushing back Shalimar's sweat soaked waves.

Smoothing her hands over Shalimar's smooth skin in a soothing gesture, Emma used her powers to calm the feral, not wanting to enter her head and invade her privacy. She sent her a tiny psiblast, implanting a calming aura in Shalimar's head as she gently pulled the sheets and blankets free. Unwrapping the knots that she had somehow wound them into, Emma spread the covers out over the feral, tucking her in before pulling her legs up underneath her and leaning back. She sat there and watched the blonde for awhile, waiting for the calming effects to wear off like she knew they would.

Eventually they did and Shalimar started moving around again, being pulled back into her dream world. Emma leaned forward, her fingers sliding over Shalimar's cheeks as she framed the ferals face and slowly connected her mind to hers. She didn't pry or enter Shalimar's mind, she just hovered along the outside of it. Keeping their minds connected, Emma tried her best to picture Shalimar's favorite spot in the woods, right above the mountain overlooking the water. It was a beautiful view and even though it was only a manipulation, Emma found it calming herself as well. She fed the image to Shalimar's brain, letting the serene mood embrace Shalimar's restless mind and soothe it. She only held it for as long as she needed to, feeling Shalimar's body calm as her breathing evened out. Soon, the feral was sleeping peacefully.

Emma released her hold on Shalimar's head and sat back again. For the moment, she was content to sit and watch the blonde sleep. She tried to convince herself that she was just being cautious. She was only watching Shalimar to make sure her nightmares didn't come back. Emma was not there because Shalimar's presence alone calmed her; she was not sitting on the edge of Shalimar's bed, thinking about how gorgeous the feral looked when she was sleeping. Completely natural and unguarded. Those were not Emma's thoughts at all.

Her subconscious teased her about not being honest with herself and Emma shook her head, clearing any and all thoughts from her mind. She had been through an emotional turmoil over the past week and her thoughts and feelings were out of order. That's what she kept telling herself.

Her gaze unconsciously drifted back towards Shalimar's sleeping form and she actually felt the tender smile that curled her lips. Shalimar really did look beautiful when she was sleeping. Not that she wasn't completely stunning when she was awake; there was just something so different about her when she was laying there the way she was. She just looked so young and fragile and Emma wanted to stay there and protect her forever.

Shalimar has risked more than her life tonight saving Emma. The redhead knew that Shalimar's fear of the fire was deep. It was a fear born of her DNA, and even though Shalimar refused to let her fears rule her, fire was the one thing she had yet to conquer. Even tonight, she wasn't over it. She was nowhere close. She had just ignored it, pushed it aside so she could save Emma's life. Shalimar had already proven time and again, that she would do anything for Emma, for any of them. They were her family.

Emma was just returning the favor, staying there and keeping Shalimar safe from the demons in her head. At least, that's what she kept telling herself. Her emotions, mental and physical had been through the wringer lately and the redhead wasn't sure if she could deal with facing the real reason she wanted to watch over Shalimar so she shifted her body, finding a more comfortable position and she shut her eyes briefly, the sleep she was missing out on finally catching up with her. Within minutes, Emma had pushed all thoughts out of her head and was sound asleep at the foot of the bed, curled at Shalimar's feet.

Shalimar woke early the next morning, a first for her considering her late nights. She opened her eyes briefly, feeling unnaturally calm and serene. She usually didn't feel this way until after her mediation and her kata practices. Stretching leisurely, Shalimar let out an after sleep yawn before she noticed that she wasn't alone in her bed. Sitting up slowly, Shalimar's eyes widened as she noticed the redhead curled at her feet.

What was Emma doing in her bed? Pushing the blankets off of her, Shalimar shifted her body and crawled over towards Emma. She watched her sleep for a few minutes, not minding her in her room in the least bit but she was curious as to how Emma had ended up there. Propping her head up in her hand, Shalimar reached over and brushed back the loose strands of hair that had fallen over Emma's face as she slept. Shalimar was just relieved to be able to touch her, to watch her. She just couldn't shake the guilt from last night. One second, one slight hesitation on her part and Emma would have died. She would have died and it would have been all Shalimar's fault.

Emma looked so young and peaceful laying there that Shalimar didn't want to wake her up. She allowed herself to watch Emma at her most natural for a few moments before she realized that Emma couldn't possibly be comfortable the way she was sleeping.

"Em, honey…" Shalimar pushed the hair behind Emma's ear and shook her shoulder gently. "You should move, sweetie."

Emma's eyes flickered open slowly, deep blue meeting light brown as Emma gave her a brief smile before closing her eyes again.

Shalimar let out a soft laugh, before shaking her head. "Emma, wake up!" She was a little louder this time, her shoulder shaking a bit more forceful.

Emma's eyes flickered again, this time staying open as she looked up at Shalimar, blinkingly. "What?"

Shalimar gave her a grin, quirking an eyebrow as Emma tried her best to keep her eyes open. "I said, you might want to move positions. You're going to fall off the bed."

Emma blinked a few more times, the sleep fog clearing from her mind. Seeing Shalimar sprawled along her bed next to her, Emma smiled widely. What a way to wake up. She immediately discarded the thought and turned her head.

She was still in Shalimar's room, in her bed with the feral laying next to her. She fell asleep last night. Running a hand through tousled locks, she sat up slowly. "Sorry." She apologized softly, tilting her head to the side, lifting a hand to rub out the kink in her neck.

Shalimar shook her head slowly, her smile still in place. "You're welcome in my bed anytime, Em." She teased. "You mind telling me why you're in here though?"

It wasn't uncommon for Shalimar to find Emma there when she woke up, it was just usually she had some idea of how Emma had ended up there. Emma came into her room often and Shalimar always woke up at the sound even though Emma made none. Shalimar could feel Emma come into her room; she could feel that something was wrong. Emma's feelings and presence in her room usually woke her up long enough to find out what was wrong with the pisonic.

"Nightmare." Emma responded without elaborating anymore. It was obvious that Shalimar didn't remember and Emma wasn't going to do anything to bring it back.

"Why didn't you wake me?" Shalimar asked, sitting up and reaching over to push Emma's hand away. She gently took over massaging the psionic's neck, her talented fingers quickly easing Emma's pain.

Emma's eyes closed as she leaned her head forward desperately trying to keep her thoughts focused on the conversation at hand.

"Was it that bad?" Shalimar pressed.

Emma was never usually this reluctant to talk about her nightmares.

"Hmm don't know." Emma mumbled, resting her chin on her chest as Shalimar's fingers pushed harder into her neck.

Shalimar's fingers paused, her hand resting on the smooth skin of Emma's neck as she narrowed her eyes. There was something in Emma's tone of voice, something off. Suddenly it hit Shalimar and she moved around to Emma's side.

"You didn't have a nightmare." It wasn't a question, it was a certainty. "I woke you up last night."

Emma's silence was the only affirmation that she needed. She remembered it now. She was stuck outside the tavern, Emma inside and the flames of the fire were everywhere. It was worse in her dream; she didn't get to Emma in time. She couldn't face her fear and she refused to go into the building. Emma had died in her dream. Emma had died because she couldn't save her in time. Emma had died without ever knowing how Shalimar felt. That fear was worse than her fear of the fire.

"Why didn't you wake me up?" Shalimar repeated, removing her hand from Emma's neck as she shifted around a little more so she could see her better.

Emma shrugged as she tilted her head back and than forward, her own hand taking over where Shalimar left off.

"Emma…" Shalimar paused not wanting to ask her question but needing to know the answer.

Emma looked up, dropping her hands and meeting Shalimar's questioning look. "I didn't go in your head, if that's what you're worried about."

"No, I…" Shalimar stopped, catching Emma's look. "That wasn't what I meant…exactly."

Emma just arched an eyebrow as she smiled knowingly.

"Thank you." Shalimar finally offered quietly.

Emma smiled back, shaking her head. "No need." She stood up and stretched, working out her stiff muscles before running a hand through her hair. "I'm going to go back to sleep…in my own room." She took a step away from the bed and turned to look over her shoulder. "I'll see you later."

Shalimar watched her for a second before jumping up and reaching out, her fingers latching onto Emma's wrist and curling around it. "Em, wait."

Emma stopped and waited, turning around to face Shalimar. Shalimar's emotions were so strong that Emma didn't have to use her powers to get a reading. They were bouncing all over the place, confusing as they were.

"The reason I didn't want you in my head wasn't because I don't trust you. You know that I do. I just didn't want you to read me or my feelings for you." The words tumbled from Shalimar's lips and Emma almost laughed at the expression on the ferals face.

It was obvious that she hadn't meant to blurt that out.

Emma took a step closer to the blonde and reached out for her hand, lacing their fingers together and sitting herself down on the bed. She gave Shalimar's hand a gentle tug, forcing her down beside Emma.

"What are your feelings for me?" Emma asked, squeezing Shalimar's hand tenderly, encouraging her to talk.

Shalimar opened her mouth to answer and than closed it again. She was silent for long moments afterwards, her eyes wide as she stared at Emma unblinkingly. She had dealt with her fear of the fire last night, it wasn't gone but she had faced it now she had kept Emma in her room so that she could deal with her fear of losing her.

"Shal?" Emma prodded gently, noticing the dazed look on Shalimar's features.

Shalimar blinked a few times before her eyes focused on Emma's. She held Emma's gaze for a second before looking away. "When you were caught in that fire, I thought you were going to die." Shalimar's words were so soft that Emma knew she wouldn't have heard them if she wasn't so close to the blonde.

Emma leaned over and hugged her close, burying her face in Shalimar's neck when the blonde's arms slipped around her neck. "I'm fine, Shal. I knew you would save me."

Shalimar's arms tightened around Emma's neck and she rested her forehead on Emma's shoulder. "I'm just so glad you're okay." She finally breathed out.

Emma pulled back a moment later, smiling up at the blonde as she reached out and brushed away the loose strands of hair that had fallen over Shalimar's cheek. Shalimar smiled back, her fingers curling around the back of Emma's neck. Taking a deep breath to ensure that she didn't chicken out, Shalimar tugged Emma's neck down before pressing her lips firmly against hers.

Shalimar's lips moved over Emma's softly, slowly testing the water. Emma hadn't pulled away yet so she took that as a good sign. Running her tongue over Emma's bottom lip, she smiled into the kiss as she felt Emma's lips part. Emma's hand tightened on Shalimar's waist, pulling her closer against her body as her other hand curled up into the ferals long hair. Once Shalimar realized that Emma was kissing her back just as passionately as she was kissing her, Shalimar pulled away.

Emma's eyes were still closed, her hands still holding Shalimar close to her and there was a slight grin tugging at the corners of her mouth. "That's why you didn't want me in your head." She teased, slowly opening her eyes to meet slightly terrified brown ones.

Shalimar stayed still in Emma's hold, resisting the urge to snuggle into the redhead as she gaped at her in disbelief. Emma was taking this all in awfully calmly in Shalimar's opinion. She narrowed her eyes and leaned closer to Emma. "Did you know?" She asked. She had expected a much more powerful reaction. If she had known Emma was going to respond the way she had, she would have done it sooner.

"Shalimar," Emma framed the blonde's face and placed a light kiss on the tip of her nose. "If I knew, do you think I would have kept my feelings a secret for so long?"

"What?" Shalimar exclaimed, her jaw dropping in shock.

"You know, your face is going to freeze like that one day." Emma teased grinning. The feral's facial expressions were hilarious and Emma couldn't help but tease even though she found them adorable.

Shalimar stuck her tongue out at Emma, her hand quickly coming up and clamping over Emma's mouth when she saw the teasing glint in bright blue eyes. "As I said before, what?"

Emma shrugged, her mouth still covered by Shalimar's hand before she mumbled out some kind of response.

Shalimar removed her hand, rolling her eyes at Emma. "Now, what was that?"

"I said, no, I didn't know." Emma repeated clearly.

Shalimar digested the information slowly and silently. Emma could practically see the gears turning in the ferals mind as she went over Emma's words and actions, taking them in. When she finally reached the conclusion that Emma had kissed her back not out of reflex or friendship but because she felt the same way, it was obvious by the huge smile that spread over her features.

Impulsively, she leaned forward and kissed Emma's lips chastely. Pulling away, she leaned back on her hands and glanced up at Emma.

"What was your nightmare about?" Emma asked, stretching out along side the blonde and resting her chin in her hand so she could look up at her.

"Last night." Shalimar finally responded, sighing deeply. "I didn't get to you in time. I couldn't face my fear, I couldn't save you. It was so realistic that I felt the heat from the flames, Em. I couldn't save you." She finished in a whisper.

Emma sat up; tugging Shalimar with her as she wrapped her arms around the feral's waist and held her close. Emma's hand moved up and down Shalimar's back, her fingers tracing a soothing path as she whispered soft nonsense in Shalimar's ear. Her goal was to keep her calm before she tried to reason with her. They stayed in that position for awhile, Shalimar's frustrations expelling themselves in her soft puffs of breath. Emma just held her, only pulling away to look at her when Shalimar lifted her head from its place on Emma's shoulder.

"What if it happens again?" The blonde asked softly. "What if…" Emma's fingers gently pressing against her lips stopped the flow of rushed words.

"Don't." Emma ordered softly. "Don't what if. The minute you start second guessing yourself is the minute you're going to mess up. You did fine last night, Shal. You defeated your fear long enough to save me." She soothed, her fingers tracing Shalimar's cheeks gently. "You saved me. If it wasn't for you, I'd be dead right now." Emma pointed out.

"But what…" Shalimar's words were stopped once again.

Emma shook her head, a stern look over taking her features. "No, Shal."

"Okay." Shalimar agreed, pulling Emma's hand down and lacing their fingers together. "I'll get over this but I'm not over my fear."

Emma gave her hand a gentle squeeze. "It's a fear, Shal. You'll conquer it when you have too. For now, you're fine and you shouldn't worry about it. You did what had to be done when it had to be done and everything turned out the way it was supposed too."

"I guess." Shalimar sighed out.

"I know." Emma replied firmly before sliding from the bed and standing up. "No point in going back to sleep now. Wanna go get breakfast before the guys eat it all?" She teased.

Shalimar's smile widened as she slipped off the bed to stand in front of Emma. Closing the small distance between them, she brought her lips to Emma's and kissed the redhead thoroughly.

Pulling back, Shalimar flashed Emma a teasing grin. "I'd much rather stay here and hear all about how you've been in love with me since we first met."

Emma rolled her eyes and shook her head. "Well, you do that and when you're over yourself, you come and find me." She retorted laughingly.

Shalimar's bottom lip jutted out in a mock pout as she batted her eyes at Emma. Emma just grinned, leaning over to kiss her lightly before she ran out of the room. The feral was never far behind.

The End

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