DISCLAIMER: I do not own Mutant X, or any references/songs/etc in this fic. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: As you read it may become apparent that I have only seen most of the third season, and one or two eps of the first two seasons. I apologize for the possible OOCness in advance - 'tis unintentional. I'm also sorry for any typos, and if something doesn't make sense just lemme know and I can explain. Hopefully... been a while since I wrote this.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
There's got to be a morning after...
By Billy Rose
The feral began to stir on the couch with a quiet moan and Lexa smiled as she looked up from her book to the blonde then back again. Shalimar twisted to face away from the cushions and ended up rolling off the couch and onto the floor. Lexa held her hand over her mouth in a feeble attempt to keep from laughing out loud but when the other woman's head poked up from the other side of the coffee table she couldn't hold it in any longer -the expression of sleepy confusion was just too cute.
The blonde blinked a few times to clear her eyes before her sleep addled mind processed that A-she was on the floor and B-she had fallen off the couch. It took her a few minutes to realize that she was on the couch because Selene was gone. Taken. Possibly hurt.
Tears sprang in her eyes and she lay back down on the floor before springing back up with her eyes glowing as she headed for the door.
"She's in the med lab Shal." Lexa lazily flipped a page of her book as the confused and irritated feral stared at her.
"What-," she paused. The blonde ran straight toward the medical lab and burst through the doorway anxiously. As soon as she saw her girlfriend lying unconscious on the cot, she was by her side almost immediately.
"Shal, take it easy, she need to re- Don't you glare at me." The blonde forced her eyes to stop glowing before pulling herself up next to her and Jesse just sighed. "Be careful with her at least. She's weak and from what Brennan an-"
"Brennan saved her?" This genuinely surprised the feral.
"Yeah, I'm as shocked as you are but they did. You should thank him you know, he's off in the game room playing Resident Evil again I think." She nodded as she slid off the bed.
"When will she wake up?"
"A few hours or so, I gave her a sedative-"
"You gave me one too, didn't you?" She glared playfully at him and he smiled sheepishly.
"You were ready to rip them limb from limb Shal, I couldn't let you risk getting yourself captured and having both you and Selene trapped in the Dominion."
She sighed and ran a tired hand through her hair. "I guess... I'll be back soon." She waved her hand behind her and he shook his head at the gesture before turning to his desk drawer. As he opened it Adam stepped into the room with a cheery smile, which faltered slightly as Jesse produced a hypodermic needle.
"What's that for?"
"Selene. I'm going to run a blood test-"
"Let me do it." The older man stepped forward and snatched the needle from Jesse before the molecular could protest. "You need to rest. Now go go go- I can work the machines just fine without you and besides, I know more about what Dominion's been up to than you do." Jesse suddenly felt like he was missing something, something big, but shrugged it off as his trust of Adam came to the fore along with a well-timed yawn.
"I suppose you're right. If you need me I'll be down the hall, wake me when she's up ok?" Adam nodded absently as he approached Selene and after a moment's hesitation Jesse left.
"Oh come on you prick! Why won't you die?" Brennan switched to his item cache and equipped his shotgun before going back to game play and blasting away one of the Los Illuminati he'd shot in the head earlier. Several of them fell to the ground and he grinned triumphantly. "Take that!"
The door opened quietly and he was so wrapped up in the game he didn't know someone had entered until a soft 'Hey' caused him to jump and knock over his soda. He paused it quickly before his head snapped to the doorway.
"Jesus Shal, you scared the shit out of me."
"You went in for her-for Selene." It was a statement and he suddenly felt like he was on thin ice.
"Why?" He glared minutely at her.
"No thanks?" She sighed and sat in the chair next to his.
"Of course I'm thankful -it's not even a question of that Brennan. I just want to know why. I mean it's not like you two knew each other more than a day -hell you didn't even like her."
There was silence before he muttered something she didn't catch and he had to repeat himself.
"I said, I don't know why. I just... I knew I had to. Something felt like it was pulling me there, like I couldn't stop myself even if I tried." She regarded him warily before nodding in acceptance.
"I see. Well... thank you Brennan." She stood up then bent over and hugged him tightly. "You should get some rest, you know? You look like hell. Not to mention if you can miss something that close with a shotgun you're runnin' on empty." He smacked her on the arm playfully and they both felt the coldness between them lift for the time being before she left to go back to the lab.
Adam was capping the needle when the feral walked in. He turned to her and smiled warmly.
"Hello Shalimar. How are you?" She couldn't help but smile back at him.
"I'm fine, little tired but fine. What about you?"
"Oh I got a nap in earlier..." He noticed her eyes flicking between the needle and Selene and a protective gleam shone in her brown orbs. "Blood test." She nodded slowly but cautiously.
"Why does she need them?" He refused to fidget under her gaze.
"She was in there for a few hours Shalimar, that's long enough for them to do just about anything to her. From what Brennan and Lexa said about her when they found her I'm pretty sure they did do everything they could to her in that short time." He broke off that train of thought and stepped closer to the lost looking blonde. As he enveloped her in a hug, she began to shake with tears forming in her eyes and he stroked her hair soothingly. The blonde buried her face in his shoulder and he whispered comforting words in her ear.
Lexa watched all of this from the doorway with a smile on her face before looking over at the sleeping redhead. When her eyes met Selene's she nearly fell over in surprise before rushing off to get Jesse.
Selene had been pacing the apartment anxiously when they came. A knock on the door made her pause midstride.
"Who is it?" There was no answer and suddenly a feeling of terror ripped through her and she ran down the hallway and locked herself in Jesse's room. There was a crash in the living room and she ducked into the closet while biting back a scream. Heavy footsteps sounded down the hallway and she could hear voices getting closer while talking to someone still in the living room. She silently prayed they wouldn't find her but as the closet door was ripped open she knew it was just in vain.
She remembered blacking out, then waking up in pain. A man with long white hair and gross fingernails stood across the room from her and she felt herself begin to shake silently.
"Well well well... what do we have here? I thought you were dead Miss DeLauro." The name tugged something in the back of her mind but she shook it off.
"Who-" She cut herself off with a scream as currents ran through her body turning the pain into agony.
"Don't speak just yet." He stepped closer to her and stroked her cheek and she wanted nothing more than to call for Shalimar even though it wouldn't help. "Simply amazing what you've become my dear. Simply amazing..." His stare burned into her and he suddenly grabbed a mirror from a nearby table and held it up for her to see her reflection -only the person staring back at her was someone else.
Blue eyes, dark red hair, not brown eyes and red-orange hair at all. Darkness overtook her as she fainted, the overwhelming circumstances just too much for her.
And now she was here, in another lab but she knew she was safe here.
'Had it been a dream?.. or- or a trick?' She decided it must've been because she knew that person in the mirror wasn't her.
Her eyes met Lexa's and the molecular backed from the room quickly, which in turn caught the attention of her girlfriend and the man who was hugging her. Shalimar exclaimed something loudly but Selene couldn't hear her because of how focused she was on the other person as he all but ran from the room with his hand blocking his face partially from view.
Shalimar was suddenly placing kisses on her all over and when she finally pulled back all Selene could say was, "I know him."
Adam stared at the computer screen and was only mildly surprised at the blue eyes, flaming red hair, and engaging smile of the woman that stared back at him.
He had known almost instantly upon seeing 'Selene' to know she was Emma- he was, after all, the person who had arranged it all. But to see her here, now, with the team again -it was overwhelming and extremely alarming. She wasn't supposed to be there. She was supposed to be safe, but no -the team had split up and somehow Shalimar found her way back to Emma.
He ran a hand through his hair as he let out a frustrated sigh. Footsteps echoed down the hall and he clicked Emma's face from the screen before tossing the lab results into the shredder next to the computer. Jesse paused just inside the door with a frown on his face as he pointed to the shredder.
"What was that?" Adam felt like a deer in the headlights but managed to quell the urge to look like one.
"The test results for Selene. She's perfectly all right so I-"
"So you shredded them?"
"It's become habit over the years, sorry."
It was the molecular's turn to run a hand through his hair in frustration. "No, no it's ok. It's fine. I'll just redo it later-"
"I said she was fine." Adam winced inside at the sharp tone of his voice and managed to fight back the tinge of panic inside him. "I'm sorry but if you don't trust me-"
"No!" Jesse scrambled to apologize to Adam. "No it's not that I don't trust you it's just nice to keep records, you know?" He stretched his arms a little bit before gesturing towards the lab with his thumb. "I'm gonna go check on her now ok?" Adam nodded and when the younger man left he let out a sigh of relief and pride-guilt tripping still works.
Shalimar leaned back with a confused look on her face.
"What do you mean? You can't know Adam."
"But I do I swea-" she cut herself off with a yawn and Shal smiled in understanding before kissing the redhead's forehead and walking towards the door.
"You're tired, not thinking straight. I'll get Jesse in here to see you ok?" Selene sat up to protest but froze as she began to move. Her face turned pale and Shalimar pushed her back down on the bed. "Don't move, just lie down and let me get Jesse." The blonde left before Selene could try to protest again.
Selene leaned back into the bed with a wince and stared straight up at the ceiling out of boredom.
'I do know that man... I could never forget him...'
The woman's eyes blinked open slowly only to shut as the lights overhead nearly blinded her.
"Selene, can you hear me?"
'Is that me? Am I Selene?'
"If you can hear me Selene, open your eyes." Her eyes opened momentarily and she found it seemed less bright. Brown eyes stared into her own eyes and she found herself feeling calm and comfortable in this unfamiliar place.
"Where am I?" Her voice was slightly scratchy and for some reason it felt foreign to her, which confused the redhead for a moment before she shrugged it off.
"You're in the hospital, you were in a nasty car accident but you're fine now." She was tempted to believe that but tears welled in her eyes as she tried to think.
"No, it can't be right. I didn't remember who I was just a few moments ago, not until you told me anyway." He frowned slightly and picked up his clipboard.
"Well you were hit in the head pretty hard... I suppose you might have amnesia, though your cat scan certainly didn't predict it..." He walked out of the room muttering about tests and she was left alone again. Music was suddenly coming over the speakers in the room and everything flashed past her eyes -her parents, her school, moving to San Francisco, even the accident. The doctor came in a few moments later with the clipboard again.
"I suppose more tests are-"
"No, no. Its fine now, I can remember again." He looked at her quizzically and she blushed. "I guess it was just a momentary thing." He smiled warmly at her before nodding and leaving the room.
Jesse bumped into Shal on his way to the med lab and she nearly dragged him the rest of the way there.
"She's delusional. She says she knows Adam, like they met before." He squirmed uncomfortably as she turned him to face her. "Will she be ok? She's ok, right?" Her panicked gaze burned into him and he placed his hands on her shoulders.
"I'm positive. She'll be just fine." A voice in the back of his mind reminded him that he actually hadn't seen the test results; therefore, he couldn't be completely sure she was all right, but the part of him loyal to Adam squashed that thought immediately. Shalimar nodded but still looked worried and he led her back to the room by her elbow.
"Jesse, if she isn't ok... I want you to tell me right now." Her eyes burned into his and he felt cornered.
"Well... Adam was the one who ran the test and he says she's ok so I belie-"
"You don't know the results?" Her eyes widened slightly then narrowed in anger. "Then you don't know for sure, do you? You're just taking his word."
"Shalimar, this is Adam we're talking about. He wouldn't try and trick us about this."
"How do we know? We haven't seen him for years, we have no idea what he could or would do."
"Shalimar, you're tired, not thinking straight." She noted cynically how ironic it was that he was repeating the words she said to Selene to her but didn't mention it. "This will all pass soon, ok?"
"But she sounded so sure when she said it even though I know it's impossible... But then it could be from- from the-" She cut herself off by biting her lips and blinking rapidly. He could feel doubt creeping into his mind and momentarily indulged it.
"He was off doing something before he started contacting you... Maybe... No." He shook his head to dismiss the thought before leading the worried and still guilty feral to the lab.
Adam leaned back into the room and let out a breath he didn't know he'd been holding. A hand ran itself through his hair as he decided to just let them do whatever while he slept in one of the rooms in the new Sanctuary.
'They'll find out eventually anyway... Might as well be now...'
Jesse hummed tunelessly as he got another sample of Selene's blood for testing. The woman in question was currently sleeping soundly before him, more than likely still working through the damage her body had received from the Dominion. His teeth gritted unconsciously but he forced himself to calm down before turning to the computer behind him.
He squirted the needle full of blood into a small vial before throwing the needle in the bio-waste bin and placing the vial inside one of the holders in the expensive machine before him that would analyze the sample. It hummed to life after a second and Jesse turned away to finish a program he'd been working on earlier. Minutes later the printer spat out the report and he reluctantly left his work to pick it up. The computer attached to the expensive machine was currently blue with an hourglass turning over and over on it to show it was loading.
"What the...?" Jesse frowned and looked down at the paper he was holding and read it over as the computer continued to search.
'What the hell is this? That shouldn't be doing that...'
The computer was programmed with a database for mutant DNA to better aid in identifying possible enemies and he was pretty sure Selene wasn't one of those mutants.
'But what if what Brennan said was true..? What if she is a mutant -an illusionist.' The molecular shook his head. 'No, that can't be it. Even if that were the case, why in the world would she turn into Emma of all people?'
He shook his head again in confusion and continued to scan the sheet, pausing when he read the words 'Subject Identified: 0001.' Jesse knew that number by heart.
When he had first gotten the machine, it had sat in its box for about a week before Jesse figured out something to do with it -the database. He had been excited and started collecting what DNA samples he could from willing mutants in local bars and clubs he went to but he reserved the first entry -the test entry that would determine whether it would work -was for Emma.
His throat worked to swallow the sick feeling he had rising in his throat. Brennan had seen her, Lexa had seen her too apparently, and Adam was obviously trying to hide this from him-
'Am I the only one who didn't know?' After thinking about that for a few seconds he firmly decided no on that. If Shalimar had known she would have told him as soon as she saw him, of that he was positive. His 'little sister' had always been close to Emma, best of friends; even, as he had recently begun to suspect what with Selene being a girl and all, more than friends.
His train of thought broke when Adam stepped through the doorway.
"Jesse, could I talk to-" His eyes landed on the screen and he froze completely. "Oh..." Jesse blinked in disbelief.
"Oh?" Adam remained silent. "OH! All you have to say is 'Oh'!" The molecular seethed in anger and hurt that Adam didn't tell them. "How could you not tell us? How!" Adam flinched minutely at the tone in Jesse's voice before sighing in defeat.
"Jesse... It's not that I didn't want to tell you-"
"Then why didn't you?" the blonde demanded.
"She asked me not to..." The younger man scoffed at that and Adam shook his head. "She did. Jesse there's a lot you don't understand about this there's a lot Emma didn't want you to know."
"Don't you mean 'doesn't'? She's not dead Adam," Jesse accused.
"No, I mean didn't. Emma is Selene now..." He ran a hand through his hair. "It's hard to explain."
"Explain anyway." Adam paused only momentarily before straightening up.
"Its not that it's complicated -it just may be more than you can understand. Something was happening to her Jesse. Something no one could have foreseen -except maybe the Creator. That's why I told you and the rest to leave without me; I needed to stay with him as long as possible to get what was needed."
"And what was needed Adam?" Jesse had calmed down on the outside but his mind was racing.
Adam was at the computer station as the team was out on a mission -well, most of the team. He had made Emma stay home. Lately she'd been having headaches like mad and he was beginning to get worried about her -especially when her eyes began to change colors randomly. He'd confronted her about it about half an hour before the team left and after arguing for a while, she finally gave in.
Currently the psionic in question was off meditating and he stretched as he stood, prepared to go find her. He stepped through the doorway and the words died on his lips as he took in the woman lying on the ground where Emma usually sat. Her hair was red-orange, not flame red, she was pale, significantly shorter than Emma was, and -though her eyes were closed-, he bet her eyes weren't the blue orbs they all knew so well.
"Emma?" He rushed to her side and as the woman stirred the image around her flicked back into Emma. The redhead blinked up at him in confusion and he smiled warmly though worry shone through his eyes.
"Wha-?" She held her head in her hands for a moment and he could see blood trickle from her nose before he scooped her up and carried her to the lab.
"Emma why didn't you tell me about this?" Tears were in her eyes as she shook her head.
"Tell you about what?"
"Emma, you're... you're evolving."
Jesse sat down in a chair and could feel his chest clench tightly as the gravity of what Adam said sunk in.
"She was... changing?"
"Yes. Her powers were growing -she began to practice when everyone was out and we discovered she had developed limited precognition as well as illusionist powers."
"Well... Why didn't she tell us? Did she think we'd be afraid of her?" Jesse's hurt voice caused Selene to stir slightly on the bed but she didn't wake up.
"No... She didn't want you to worry." Confusion clearly showed on Jesse's face.
"Worry? About what?"
"Jesse... She was dying." The tense silence that followed was only broken by a 'thud' from the hallway. They only had to glance at each other for a moment before rushing out to find the blonde feral had fainted outside the doorway. Jesse groaned and rubbed his temples before bending over and picking her up to carry back to the bedroom he had reserved for her.
When Shalimar woke again she found herself lying on a bed in a strange room. Figuring it was just the hotel, she shrugged and turned over to pull Selene too her and was met with empty space. She bolted upright with a frown before everything came back to her and she lay back down on the mattress.
Her frown deepened slightly as she tried to think back on how she got into this room in the first place when it hit her -the conversation in the lab then the floor rushing up to meet her face. Her chest constricted painfully as the conversation floated back to her.
"How could you not tell us? How!" Shalimar froze in her steps at the sound of Jesse's voice. She had simply been on her way to grab a bottle of water from the kitchen when she heard it begin. She had simply meant to slip on past but now curiosity got the better of her and she pressed herself against the wall to listen.
"Jesse... It's not that I didn't want to tell you-"
"Then why didn't you?" Now that she knew Adam was hiding something from them she couldn't leave -it might have something to do with the test Adam did on Selene he didn't share with her.
"She asked me not to... She did. Jesse there's a lot you don't understand about this there's a lot Emma didn't want you to know." Shalimar suddenly felt like all the air had been knocked out of her. She clutched desperately to the wall and only lessened the grip as the initial shock wore off.
'Why would they talk about Emma?' ran through her head and a million answers popped up to her but she shrugged them all off to listen to them again.
"Don't you mean 'doesn't'? She's not dead Adam," Jesse accused. Shalimar's legs suddenly couldn't support her weight and she slid down the wall to the ground.
"No, I mean didn't. Emma is Selene now... It's hard to explain." She suddenly couldn't breathe. The room was too small, not enough air despite how well ventilated the place was, and she felt numb on the inside, like she couldn't feel anything but the painfully fast beating of her own heart.
She listened numbly to the rest of what Adam and Jesse had to discuss and knew more than felt the tears coursing down her cheeks. After Adam's recounting of what had happened when they were away, she forced herself to stand up on shaky legs.
"Worry? About what?"
"Jesse... She was dying." Suddenly gravity had become too much and Shalimar felt -somehow -completely exhausted and passed out with the words still ringing in her ears.
Now the feral sat up, the feeling of helplessness replaced by hurt and betrayal that she wasn't told about any of this. She threw the covers off of her and jerked the door open violently as she set out to find Adam.
The entire team sat on the couch and chair in the living room -minus Shalimar of course, as she was still asleep in the bedroom -with Adam standing in front of them. Jesse sulked on the couch next to a confused Lexa while Brennan lounged in an armchair off to the side.
"So what's with the meeting Adam?" Lexa suddenly cast a worried glance at him. "Is something wrong with Shalimar? Is that why she isn't here?" Jesse placed a hand on her shoulder to calm her down as the older man shook his had with a sad yet warm smile.
"No no, she's perfectly all right-"
"Then where is she?" Brennan cocked his head to the side while waiting for an answer from Adam but Jesse beat the scientist to it.
"She's in her room. Sleeping."
'Or rather, out cold, same difference...'
Brennan nodded at that and mused silently to himself why the feral would spend even a few seconds much less have a nap away from her girlfriend but didn't bring it up. He made a mental note to check on the two of them after the meeting was over before refocusing on Adam.
"Now Jesse tells me you two saw something while in the Dominion, something... impossible?" Both Brennan and Lexa sat up at that and nodded gravely, suddenly feeling the gravity of the situation. "You two claim you saw Emma on that table for a time?" Another nod from them and both guessed as to where the conversation was going.
Adam sighed, ran his hand through his hair, and silently debated the best way to go about this: gentle and calm, or blunt and to the point. "Emma is Selene. She's alive." Blunt won.
A pin could drop a mile away and it would sound like a roll of thunder in the silence left in the wake of the announcement.
"What?" Brennan had heard what he said but for some reason it just didn't register to him. Lexa nodded energetically to his side indicating she didn't get it either but Jesse remained oddly silent. Brennan decided he didn't like that at all.
Moments later Adam was stumbling through the explanation of the time he had discovered what Emma had been hiding from him -from everyone.
Lexa sat on the couch in a haze. She hadn't really known Emma -the only reason she recognized her in the first place was from research at the Dominion before joining up with them- so she couldn't really relate to knowing of her strange behavior towards the end of her life -or, the beginning of Selene's life as it were. It was all so confusing.
She glanced to the elemental to see him quietly seething with rage, guilt, and disbelief, not that she could blame him. Adam had kept the fact that his best friend was still alive a secret from him for years and didn't tell them until after he had made himself out to be an asshole to said friend.
After a worried glance at her boyfriend -'Well, fiancé now...' -she was surprised at how emotionless his face looked.
"You knew about it?" slipped from her mouth unbidden and Brennan's head snapped around to pin Jesse with a heated glare.
"Did you?" he demanded. Jesse was silent and Brennan took that as confirmation of it and stood up angrily. "I just- I can't believe-!" He stormed from the room and Lexa watched him go sadly before turning to both of them. Jesse stood to follow Brennan but she yanked him back down.
"Oh no you don't. You two are going to stay here and finish explaining this, even if it's just to me." They hesitated before Adam prepared to continue with the story of Emma's last days as herself.
Flashback... (From Emma's POV)
"Adam, I have this under control," Emma said crossly as she walked away from the scientist in question.
"No, you don't Emma." He grabbed her arm and spun her around. "The headaches are getting worse, aren't they." It was a statement, not a question and Emma just looked at him coolly before he continued. "And now with the nosebleeds -Emma you need my help." The redhead's mood worsened and she yanked her arm from his hand.
"No, I don't. It's under control." She stalked around the corner, muttering under her breath about him, and ran straight into a worried looking Shalimar.
"Emma? What's wrong? I heard-" Emma's eyes flashed black briefly and the feral forgot what she was going to say -along with what she had overheard between her and Adam. A slightly glazed look came over the blonde's eyes before she smiled warmly and -after glancing around -pulled Emma to her and placed a kiss on her psionic's neck. "Hey sweetie..." Emma smiled in relief before wrapping her own arms around Shalimar's waist and pulling her closer to her.
Shalimar suddenly put space between them and Emma -already used to being interrupted during the times they could squeeze in a heated moment together -leant against the wall casually.
"Emma I just think- Oh, hi Shalimar."
"Hey Adam. Whats goin' on?" Adam hesitated before shaking his head.
"Nothing important." Emma watched amusedly as they began to chat, every once in a while Shal's eyes would glance at Emma longingly -whether to continue from where they were interrupted or for Adam to stop speaking in Science the redhead couldn't tell.
"So she wouldn't accept your help?" Adam sadly shook his head.
"No, she wouldn't, and it only got worse as time went on."
"How so?" Jesse asked as he sat up, all his attention focused on Adam.
"Well, let me put it this way... Mutants can evolve at any time -Jesse, you have phasing and massing down to an art form now that you've practiced at it for all these years, but there's still a slight chance you can evolve.
"With psionics it's a sure thing that they'll change and grow as time goes on. Since their minds are being used and developed -and since to begin with people only use about 10 percent of their brainpower -they have to evolve the rest of their brains before they finish evolving completely. There has not been one case of a psionic -or any mutant for that matter -evolving completely and wholly before they self-destruct. It just becomes too much and for psionics, this happens much faster because they're always thinking, always using their powers even if it's unintentional. You, Lexa, Brennan, even Shalimar, you can all turn your powers on and off but psionics can't." Lexa sat up slowly and only hesitated slightly before asking.
"So you're saying... Emma was dying because she was getting stronger?" Adam nodded sadly.
"Her mind couldn't handle it so the evolution acted like a tumor or something inside her brain. The brain is delicate and when you evolve as fast as she did it can be deadly."
"How fast we talkin' here?" Brennan asked from the doorway with Shalimar leaning on the wall next to him with angry tears in her eyes. Adam sighed in resignation.
"She was developing two powers at once while at the same time her empathy was still growing. She was gaining the traits of an illusionist and a precog. The precog would have been enough to make her go crazy but to have three different powers running simultaneously in her mind was stressing her mind far too much."
Silence descended for a few moments while each person in turn thought Adam's words over. Shalimar felt slightly sick and somehow proud -proud that she had found Emma again but sick as she realized how much her girlfriend had kept from her. The words 'Did she not trust me?...' kept running through her head.
Lexa was fascinated by all the information Adam gave her. She hadn't really actually known Emma but from what Adam had said -and from what Jesse continually told her whenever Emma was mentioned -the brunette had a feeling she would have been friends with an amazing person had she known the redhead.
Jesse was calm, thinking over the way Emma had acted at the end of her life. Suddenly every little bizarre thing he had seen her do made absolute sense to him and at the same time no sense at all.
Brennan's mind was whirling with the info, not able to comprehend what Adam was saying. Emma was his friend -his best friend. Why wouldn't she tell him this? She told him about her crush on Shalimar, her fear that she would lose control and be kicked out of MX as soon as Adam found out about it. It just didn't make sense that she didn't trust him enough to share this burden with her. He suddenly had a glimpse of the emotional weight that would have had to have been on Emma's shoulders before she died and a shiver of self-disgust ran through him for not being able to help her.
All heads jerked up as the sound of squealing tires met their ears before Shalimar -first to realize what it was -took off towards the garage with the others following her. When they got there Jesse's car was gone, all that was left of it was black skid marks and a watermark from the exhaust. Dread weighed in Shalimar's mind as she ran to the med lab only to find it completely empty. Selene had run.
When Selene had woken up, she was surprised to find herself alone. She knew that it was the med lab and not the most popular place in the world but she figured at least Jesse would be here working on something or Shalimar would be waiting for her to wake up. A frown graced her face before she sat up carefully and slid onto the bed.
She hadn't noticed it earlier but apparently she was barefoot and she shivered as her feet met the cold floor of the lab. Quick glances around made her notice her clothes in the corner and she padded over to them quickly - hospital wear was something that never sat right with her. After changing into her clothes -minus the shoes as she just didn't feel like getting them on -she set out to find where everyone had gone.
She didn't have to look far it turned out because she saw Adam standing before them all in what looked like a meeting. She started to back away, not wanting to interrupt, but stopped when she heard that other name -Emma. Curiosity got the better of her and she edged quietly forward.
"You two claim you saw Emma on that table for a time?" That was Adam talking and then there was a pause. Selene stuck her head forward a bit and saw them nodding. Distantly she noted Shalimar wasn't there before tuning back into the conversation. "Emma is Selene. She's alive."
Selene whipped back out of the doorway, not sure what she had heard. No -she was sure, she just didn't understand. She wasn't this 'Emma.' She was Selene.
She listened absently to Adam continue to explain, both about how he knew something was wrong with Emma to how they would argue about whether she was ok or not. She didn't really hear them. She stared straight ahead of herself but couldn't see anything except the vivid picture in her mind his words painted for her.
Her mind was working on overtime as the older man explained and she couldn't make heads or tails of what he said; all she understood from it was the fact that Emma was imploding on herself.
The building felt too small, too warm despite the fact that it was temperature controlled. Her breathing quickened and had she been thinking properly at the time, she might have discovered she was having a panic attack. All she knew at the time was she couldn't breathe and she had to get out. She quickly backed away from the room and went back to the lab to grab her shoes before running down to the garage. She felt mildly guilty for doing it but when she paused to think the room shrank and she was gasping for breath so she hopped into Jesse's car and grabbed the keys from the coin compartment. She stepped on the gas and gunned it from the garage and into the real world -the world that made sense to her.
"Why would she go?... Where would she go?" Jesse had asked it despite the fact that he knew everyone was already thinking it. Shalimar shrugged helplessly while Brennan paced, thinking as hard as he could on where he thought Emma might go. 'After all,' he reasoned, 'Selene is Emma apparently...'
"If Selene is Emma why can't she remember? Why is Emma Selene but Selene isn't Emma?" Adam sat down and stretched his neck out before preparing to answer.
"Well, as you know, Emma was-"
"We know," Jesse cut him off.
"Right. Well, when you were all away I would find her as Selene more and more often. I never thought much of it, figuring she was just practicing. Then when the headaches got worse, I noticed she was Selene almost all the time you guys were out. Finally I confronted her about it -several times if memory serves me..." He frowned as he remembered his suspicions of her being able to wipe things from people's minds. "After about the fifth time she finally told me why -Emma might have been dying, but Selene wasn't. She would become Selene whenever she could because it made the pain fade away. Selene might just be an illusion -a very real illusion mind you -but Selene was also perfectly healthy. She never had so much as a cold as Selene and Emma needed that - needed a reprieve from the pain in her head. I assume -and this is only a guess on my part -but I assume that she was staying healthy because of how much Emma was grasping onto that notion. Emma forced Selene's health to be perfect and used it as an escape."
"So... Selene is a temporary fix for whatever was destroying Emma, but somehow it became permanent?" Lexa asked Adam, still trying to fully understand everything. The scientist nodded.
"Yes -but not on accident. You see, when you all saw Emma died, Selene was already partially triggered. Emma and I worked for a long time on fixing things for her, fixing things so she could be free from the pain and the danger being Emma meant. However, it came at a price -all of you. Emma had to give up Mutant X, her home, her friends, everything she was in order to become Selene. She didn't want to," he said softly to Shalimar as she started to cry again, "but she had to. She knew the only way that she could ever come back to you all was to get rid of you. It hurt you, but I'm sure it hurt her more."
It was silent in the room for a while. They all paid a moment of respect for Emma's sacrifice.
"I saw her die though... Didn't I?" Jesse murmured in the quiet.
"No. You saw Emma projecting a vision of herself dying, but she never died. The -for lack of a better word -program Emma and I had created was set to start after a very traumatic event. We had no idea how perfect that explosion was until the moment arrived. I faked her death along with mine and moved her comatose form to San Francisco where she would start her new life as Selene until I could help her."
"But wait..." Shalimar glanced confusedly at Adam. "How could she have just woken up and been Selene? I mean she had an entire lifetime of memories. There weren't any gaps from what I could see. She had details about things that are just too real -like describing how she had broken her arm when she was 11 after she fell out of a tree. It's just- it's hard to know they're all just lies..."
"There's an explanation for that too. You see when she woke up she was Selene but Selene had no idea what that meant -kind of like amnesia. Emma had foreseen this and knew it would pose a threat so we decided on another trigger. She would be sitting in there, lying on the bed and tell me eventually she didn't know who she was. I would leave the room and click a button that would activate a song to play over special speakers I had placed in her room. The song was the trigger and as she listened to it everything -every fake memory she created -would just fill itself in." He smiled wistfully. "She chose 'Reflection' by Christina Aguilera. I can remember laughing with her over how true that was." He saw everyone wasn't amused so he cleared his throat.
"Anyway, after she remembered I gave her her personal effects: Clothes, purse, money, and her com-ring on a necklace chain. When I gave it to her, she told me, 'This is the ring my dad gave me when I was 13. He said I shouldn't wear it and told me anyone else who wore it was my friend -someone I could trust.' I was baffled by that but had nodded and smiled nonetheless."
"So she was the extra signal I got when I contacted everyone?" Jesse asked, stunned.
"More than likely."
"Wait, why have I never seen it?" Shalimar demanded.
"She might have kept it hidden somewhere. I don't know otherwise. Somehow, I think she knew the danger it posed as well as how useful it could be. She must have seen your ring and just stuck with you." Adam shrugged.
Jesse was already out the door before Adam said 'you' having been struck by an epiphany.
'The ring! Of course!'
Lexa trailed after him and dragged Brennan with her after sharing a look with Shalimar. As soon as they had gone Adam moved toward the feral, attempting to pull her into a hug, only to be slapped across the face.
"How dare you keep this from me - us. We loved Emma and-... and you couldn't even tell us."
"I couldn't. She-"
"Don't you tell me forced you into not telling us- that she did or said something to threaten you because we both know its bullshit." She stepped away from him as she moved slowly toward the door. "I didn't listen when Emma told us you kept things from us -not completely anyway. Maybe she was right."
He took another step, this time careful to stay out of reach. "Shalimar, please listen-"
"For all I know you suggested becoming Selene to her so you could get her out of the way. As far as I know you might not have ever saved Emma -you would have let her be Selene until the day she died and none of us would have known." Her eyes flashed at him and he backed up a bit. "You better hope Selene -Emma... is ok when Jesse finds her." With that, the feral stormed from the room to find information from Jesse, leaving Adam in her wake.
Jesse's fingers pounded the keyboard relentlessly as he searched for Selene's - Emma's - com-ring signal. He had tried to find out what her pulse was -thereby locating her -but she didn't have it on so it didn't work. He tried zeroing in on it and it alone but that didn't work. Now he was restarting the program to turn on all their com-rings at once and just guess as to where she was and where she was going as soon as possible.
A quick glance to his left showed him the program he would use to locate her was ready and waiting on the next computer. Lexa and Brennan stood watching over his shoulder and he fought down the urge to ask them to back off a bit. It wouldn't matter anyways -they'd just come right back to that spot after a couple minutes after forgetting in their worry over Emma. Selene.
He shook his head to clear the little internal debate that he knew could start if he continued with that line of thinking.
"Lexa, get on that computer and be ready to hit 'go,' ok?" She nodded and sat on the chair with tense anticipation. Brennan was still leaning over him but not as close now because he was trying to see both screens at once and from the angle he was in he'd have missed the location completely.
"Ok get ready in three," Lexa focused on him and prepared to click the mouse. "Two." Brennan started to tap his fingers restlessly on his pants. "One." There was an almost simultaneous click as they hit their mouses and the program was off. They idly noticed their rings had again blinked at them. Jesse hoped she didn't try and disrupt the signal again.
Five red lights shone on the screen and the cursor turned to an hourglass as Lexa's program began to work. Moments later the signal still shined brightly on the screen and Jesse felt his shoulders relax minutely.
"Find her yet?" Shalimar's unexpected voice made Jesse jump.
"Uh, no. Not yet, but soo-"
"Got her," Lexa interrupted.
Jesse shrugged. "See? Soon."
"Just tell me where she is Jesse," Shalimar demanded lightly but firmly. He nodded and turned to Lexa who had a slightly anxious look on her face.
"So... where is she?"
"Attention all passengers boarding American Airline flight 102 to San Fransisco, California are now boarding. First class is now boarding the plane."
Selene was sitting in one of the benches in a state of agitation. Her mind was whirling around and around. She couldn't make heads or tails of anything.
'Is that the only reason why Shalimar was with me?... because she thinks I'm her precious Emma?...'
She stood up abruptly and went to the bathroom to freshen up quick - she suddenly felt sick. When she went in there someone had her face shoved in the mirror and was apparently attempting to pluck her eyebrows into some sort of arch. Selene took a sink towards the end of the line and turned the faucet on cold full blast.
She stared at herself in the mirror for a bit before sticking her hands in the water and scooping it up to splash it into her face. She didn't care that her mascara would run, she'd just re-apply it.
She scrubbed her face vigorously while ignoring the looks the plucker was giving her. She reached blindly for a paper towel to wipe her face with and when she did she patted her face dry.
She absently noted the other woman had left the room before she glanced back into the mirror only to bite back a scream. There, staring back at her, was a blue-eyed redhead Selene could only assume was Emma.
"You can't escape me you know." Selene backed from the mirror with terror evident in her eyes. The woman in the mirror stepped with her. Selene twisted and shut herself in a stall.
"It was just your imagination, it was just your imagination..." She repeated that to herself for fully a minute before braving a glance outside the stall. Her own face met her and she almost cried with relief before she moved to leave the restroom.
She kept her head down as she walked out and mumbled an apology to the person she had walked into.
"Sure, you can run, but you can't hide from me." Selene let out a gasp and backed away from the taller woman. People looked at her funny as she nearly bolted from the bathroom entrance.
"I'll always be here." Suddenly she was in front of Selene.
"You can go to the ends of the earth -places where the word 'primitive' falls short of its description -and I'll still be there." It came from the right.
"You on the other hand, were supposed to be a band aid." From the left.
She was everywhere! Selene roughly pushed past them and ran blindly through the airport whenever she was met by another Emma.
"A quick fix."
"You've existed for too long Selene."
"I want my life back." Selene backpedaled as Emma reappeared in front of her, this time by herself.
"Well you can't have it!" The other woman smiled sadly at her, almost pityingly.
"Of course I can. May I remind you, you never existed in the first place. I did. I want to live again." Emma reached out for her and Selene screamed.
Her eyes snapped open with a gasp and Selene looked wildly around for the apparition that haunted her dreams. A glance at the clock slowed her frantic heartbeat down.
'Just a few more minutes and this will all be over...' She leaned her head back with a sigh as she waited for the announcement that her plane would be taking off.
'But what about Shalimar? Are you just going to leave her? Without even a good bye?'
Selene shook the thought from her head almost violently. She couldn't think of Shal now. Now was the time to- to...
'To what? Break her heart twice over now that she won't have you or her precious Emma? Face it Sel, this will crush her.'
Selene stopped herself from thinking of it. If it was a clean break it shouldn't hurt her that much. She planned on getting her stuff from their apartment and getting the hell out of dodge as quickly as possible.
'Like ripping off a band aid...' For some reason that thought irked her the most.
Papers flew into the air, people crashed to the ground, and others dove to it to avoid the blonde rocket-fueled tank heading for them. Shalimar had been in a frenzy ever since Jesse had told her that Selene had actually taken his car to an airport. An airport! She didn't know how much longer the flight would take but she knew in the back of her mind that she'd never have enough; which was why she was currently posing as a steam roller on an acid trip trying to get to the terminal all the while silently praying she wasn't too late.
"Ma'am! Stop right there!" Shalimar ignored the overweight security guard and kept right on running. The cry of the guard let her know Brennan had probably shorted the walkie-talkie before he could report her in before he started keeping up with her again. Jesse and Lexa were going to the terminal the longer way around but Shalimar had opted for the quickest route, not wanting to risk both of her loves -in one body no less -leave her. Possibly forever.
"Right! Right!" Shalimar didn't even think, she just turned right at the next corner only to stop in her tracks. Brennan ran into her from behind and fell to the ground, panting heavily. He didn't ask her why she had stopped. The waiting area was empty. There was only a little Japanese woman waxing the floor nearby -and doing a very poor job if he did say so himself -and the overly cheery woman at the ticket counter. There was a quiet thud as Shalimar sank quickly to her knees. Her face was blank but he knew she must be hurting -you didn't have to be a telempath to see how she was on the verge of breaking.
Her shoulders started to shake violently and he gripped her harder as tears began to flow freely from her eyes.
"She's gone... She's gone!" Shalimar buried her face in Brennan's shoulder and pulled him to her so tightly she didn't hear the steps that approached.
"Hey, you. I'm supposed to give you this. Lady said give it to you. So here you are." The Japenese janitor shuffled back to her crappy floor waxer and Shalimar turned the package over in her hand. Something was wrapped up in a piece of notebook paper and the feral opened it carefully.
By the time you get this, I'll already be gone. I'm sorry this had to happen, I really am. There's just too much going on in my head right now. I need time to think this through. I mean, I'm not even me anymore.
I don't know how long we'll be apart. I know it won't be an hour, a day, or even a week. I might never sort through all of this... I expect it will take a while to figure out whoI really am. If you don't think I'll ever come back to you, I want you to move on.
That might sound callous, or heartless, but believe me when I say I'm having trouble even writing it but I have to. You need to be happy after all. If you can't be happy with me, I want you to be happy however you can.
Despite what I've said in this letter I do love you Shalimar. I know you might hate me right now but I really do love you and I want you to know I'm sorry for this.
Love Always, Selene.
Brennan helped the stunned feral to her feet and led her away with his arm protectively around her. Shalimar shook silently, all the while clutching the com-ring that had been wrapped in the paper tightly in her hand as if it were the last link to Emma and Selene.
As soon as they were out of sight the custodian shut off the floor waxer and slowly walked to the bathroom. Moments later a taller, redhaired, brown-eyed woman stepped out of it. Tears shone brightly in her eyes as she stared off where Shalimar and Brennan had left. Her heart was breaking but she knew in the long run it would be the best thing for both of them.
She could feel Emma reaching out to Shalimar, could feel Shalimar's anguish pressing at her from all sides - making it hard to breathe - and Selene silently vowed that she would return to Shalimar either as Emma or herself.
The ride home that night had been silent aside from the occasional sob from the feral sitting in the back seat. Brennan was driving the car with Lexa riding shotgun. As soon as Jesse had seen how upset Shalimar was he immediately crossed over to her and swept her into a tight hug, muttering apologies into her hair as he did so. He was still holding her when they arrived at the car. They all piled into the SUV he had brought and he made a mental note to arrange for a tow truck to pick up his car tomorrow and drop it off at his apartment.
Shalimar was led straight to her room again when they got back. Brennan recounted the entire story from their point of view, from plowing through the crowds to receiving the ring from the custodian. He felt exhausted by the end of telling it and made to go off to bed had Adam not requested their presence in the lab. They waited patiently while he typed some commands into the computer. Jesse had his arms around Lexa's waist snugly and they stood their silently, not wanting to talk about the recent events at all. Brennan stood looking sullenly down at the floor where Boris was wrapping his tail around his leg. He scooped the cat up and murmured a thanks to Jesse for picking him up when he and Shalimar had gone to get Selene from his apartment.
"Brennan?" They looked at the computer screen where there was a list of Japanese custodians in a row on the screen. "Which one was the janitor?" Brennan looked at the pictures hard, trying with all his might to find the one who had given them the package but to no avail.
"Adam, what does that mean?" Jesse demanded quietly. Lexa placed her hand on his arm to calm him down some and he pulled her to him tighter.
"It means, that you were duped. I'm pretty sure that 'janitor' was Selene using Emma's powers." He ran a hand through his hair. "Which means she's long gone by now..." They were silent for a while.
Brennan shook his head slowly in self-disgust that he hadn't thought more about the crappy wax-job the woman was doing on the floor. Jesse and Lexa were thinking about what could have happened had they continued on the long way to the terminal and possibly surprised the illusionist in the act.
"Let's not tell Shalimar..." Jesse felt sick to say it but when Lexa nodded against him he knew he was in the right.
"We can't lie to her Jesse," Brennan said firmly as he scratched Boris behind his ear.
"If we tell her Selene was right in front of her -had actually spoken to her and everything.... I mean we feel bad right now, right? Imagine how she'll feel. Betrayed, confused, self-hating." That last one he directed at Brennan especially. "It'll hurt less if she thinks Selene leaving was totally out of her power."
Brennan sighed and muttered a 'whatever....' before walking off to his room with Boris held securely in his arms. Adam nodded at Jesse, glad he didn't have to say it himself, before going off to his own room. Jesse and Lexa stayed in the lab a while longer enjoying the brief moment they had to themselves while it lasted.
"We should have kept going."
"But we didn't," Lexa added.
"We didn't... and now she's really gone." Lexa only nodded before leading him by the hand out of the lab.
3 months later...
A lone figure fell to the floor in the darkened corridor soundlessly. The figure was dressed all in black, and you would never have seen her if her eyes weren't casting a golden glow around the room. Once a sweep was finished the figure grabbed the pendant around their neck and whispered into it. "All clear."
Two more figures dropped behind her almost as soundlessly but at the same time had nowhere near the gracefulness and made two small plopping sounds as they hit the ground.
The woman with the glowing eyes helped them to their feet before leading them to a little alcove coming off the corridor and clasped her hands over their mouths to get them to stay quiet.
"Go down the hall and take a right. Its the one with the water bubbler fountain thing in it." They all cracked a smile as the man in the spoke before they pressed through the darkness towards the hallway. The next hallway was dark and one of the figures -the tallest -walked down it with a frown.
"I don't see any- ow-!" He found the bubbler with his hip and the first woman had to clap her hand over his mouth to keep him silent.
"Found it." They continued on, the tall man limping slightly as he did and thinking of complaints to make about it later when the feral pulled the others into another alcove. A walkie talkie crackled as a guard passed the door and they all remained perfectly still until he was gone.
The blonde -you could see her hair now in the light -took control of the situation and led the group to the doors the guard had passed. "Brennan?" The man nodded and approached the door with electricity flowing from his fingers. In seconds he had fried the alarm in the handle and they scurried through it to another alcove. Brennan was struck by how convenient it was that the building's designer had a total lack of imagination before refocusing on the task at hand.
They other two moved to leave the alcove but the blonde held them back.
"Shalimar?" She shushed them and pressed against the wall after grasping the brunette woman's hand tightly. Brennan grabbed her other hand and they were gone from sight. The guard who had passed them before now walked past with an annoyed look on his face as he wiped at the coffee stain on his once crisp white shirt. Shalimar grinned before tugging on the hand she held and leading them to follow the guard. At the end of the hallway he went right while the man who directed them told them, "Left."
Another dark hallway -though not as dark as the other one -was traveled down carefully and cautiously as possible. At the end of it was their destination: a records room. Brennan once again made to the door but not before someone passed the view window on the inside. The man on the inside was busily looking at papers and didn't hear a whispered, "Lexa!" before he turned his gaze out the window. He frowned a bit and they held their breath but let it out when he licked his hand and smoothed down the hair that stuck up from the cowlick on his head. Satisfied that it would stay down, he opened the door and walked back in the direction they had come from.
The feral caught the door with her foot quickly before it shut and they slid silently into the room. "Jesse, we're in the record room. Where is it?"
"There should be seven file cabinets along the right wall when you walk in. Its the top cabinet in the third from the door labeled, 'Assets.'" They quickly made their way to it and opened the drawer right up. "Check to make sure first."
"What are we looking for?" Brennan asked as Shalimar flipped through the folder.
"Uh, Lexa? You wanna help them?" The brunette moved from her place at the door and Shalimar handed her the file before taking the position at the door.
"This is it alright." Brennan nodded and opened his waterproof bag. Lexa slipped the folder in but another folder caught her eye as well. It was labeled 'Assets' as well and she decided to grab it too. They moved toward the door after closing the cabinet only to run into Shalimar.
"Make us invisible, now!" Lexa just grabbed them both and led them against the wall near the door as the saliva guy from earlier re-entered the room. He made straight for the back of the room -presumably to change his shirt which now was covered in coffee.
'What is with these people and their coffee?' ran through all their minds. They shrugged it off as he disappeared into the closet in back. It only took them a second to get out of the room and begin moving back toward the entry point.
The mission had been a success. Jesse waited for them in the Helix II -just called the Helix for short -and took off when they got in.
They walked into the building casually. Shalimar stretched her hands over her head in a very cat-like way and Brennan watched with barely restrained interest. Jesse and Lexa headed straight for the labs to find Adam; Jesse's arm stole around Lexa and brought her in for a kiss as they walked. Shalimar noticed and walked into her room without a word. Brennan just sighed before heading off to play video games.
Things had changed over the past few months. They were officially a team again. The Dominion was still around but the attack the formerly prisoned mutants had made on their HQ had severely damaged them. Every now and then they tried to capture more mutants but every time Mutant X was there to stop them as well as all the other people who sought to destroy the mutant and non-mutant world. Just like old times.
Well, almost like old times. Shalimar had sunk into a depression after Selene had left and was only recently coming out of it. Brennan felt mixed emotions during those months. The desire to finally get with Shalimar constantly battled his respect of both Emma and Shalimar. Shalimar had clearly chosen Emma over him and it would have been a cheap shot to try and sway her while she was so distraught, so he opted to just be her friend. For then at least. Granted, he knew he'd never be able to live up to Emma or Selene in the feral's heart, but he could at least pretend he did and try to make her at least less miserable. He shook the thoughts from his head as he sat down in front of the TV with the control paddle and sighed when Boris hopped up onto his lap.
Shalimar fell face up on her bed as she got to her room. Her room... It didn't feel right. Over the years she had gotten used to calling it 'our room.' Referring to it as just hers made her feel all the more alone. It was like advertising to the world, "This is Jesse and Lexa's room. They'll be married soon. And Brennan sleeps in the one at the end of the hall - his nights are usually spent with many slutty women he finds in clubs. This room belongs to Shalimar. Just Shalimar." She sighed as she looked around the room.
Much of the things that had been in the apartment were here now or in storage in the basement levels. Selene hadn't taken much -in fact, Shalimar suspected she didn't take any of her things with her and Shal didn't have the heart to throw it out. It was the only way to be close to her now even if the pictures of them together and other little trinkets tore at her heart every time she saw them.
She reached blindly over her head to grab her pillow before slamming it over her face to fall asleep.
"So you were successful I gather?" Adam greeted with a cheery smile at the engaged couple. Lexa nodded and handed over the bag with the files in it.
"There were two so I grabbed both." Adam's smile only suffered a fraction before it was going full force again.
"Excellent intuition Lexa." He turned from them and made to go back into his office/bedroom.
"Adam-." Adam stopped and turned to Lexa.
"What were those files for anyway? I mean, granted, I'm thankful for the easy job for a change, but why did we need them?" His smile twitched but didn't falter.
"The Dominion has many ways of getting back on its feet Lexa. If we take out some of their bigger money makers, they'll have a harder time of doing it. These assets," he waved the bag back and forth, "tell us of their biggest money making ventures that are out there. If we can stem or just stop that flow, they have less funding. If they have less funding,-"
"They just dry up and leave?" Lexa asked hopefully as she thought of her upcoming wedding. Adam's smile only got impossibly wider and he left the room humming some tune.
"Well he's certainly in a good mood," Jesse commented.
"I'll say.... Now let's talk flower arrangements." Jesse groaned internally.
"Do we have to? I mean isn't Shalimar more equipped to help with this than I am?" he hastily added on as Lexa gave him a look that said, 'Don't you start.'
"Normally I would ask her to help me but you know how she gets whenever we start talking about the wedding. I'm even afraid to ask her to be my maid of honor because she might start crying or just get way to enthusiastic. Have you seen that episode of Buffy after Riley leaves her? Scary stuff."
Jesse laughed and shook his head. "You've been watching too much TV lately sweetie." He wrapped his arms around her waist.
"And you've been working too much dear." She pecked him on the cheek with a grin. "Besides. You're a part of this wedding too and you should be more involved."
"All right, I'll help you choose flowers ok?" He mentally made a note to kick himself later as she practically started to glow. She bustled out of the room and was back in almost an instant with a big book of flower arrangements. She flipped open to page one. He made another note to kick himself again.
Adam opened the file with grim determination written on his face. He had told the team another little white lie. The files were so they could stem the flow of money into the Dominion, but there were also groups he knew about that were of particular use to him and the team. For instance, there was a group of hit men they hired every now and then that they could interfere with, and there was a lawyer firm they used whenever they overstepped their boundaries that they could incriminate. Not that they'd do anything illegal to fix these problems. The law firm was as crooked as they come and the hit men were- well, hit men.
However, there was another motive behind Adam's request. The Dominion was in the business of studying mutants these days, the cells at their former HQ proved that. But that wasn't the only way. They also sought to influence developing mutants into controlling their gifts, thereby gaining their trust and allowing them the chance to ask the mutants for help on certain things. Anything ranging from asking a feral to break into a compound to steal or sabotage something to asking a psionic to act as a lie detector during an interrogation.
The thing he was most worried about, though, was their interest in Emma. He had known that Emma was becoming the subject of a few discussions between the Dominion officials. When Emma began evolving it was clear to him he wasn't the only one in danger of being killed or captured.
Somehow, he had the feeling something wasn't right with the fact that the Dominion had calmed down over the months -and that they didn't know where the psionic was to make sure she was ok only added to his tension.
He spread the contents of the folders in front of him and sighed. He'd have to do a lot of reading tonight. He only hoped he wouldn't find what he thought he might.
Shalimar was woken hours later by her door opening and closing quickly. The pillow was still on her face so she couldn't tell who had entered her room until they either spoke or she threw the pillow at them.
"Shal! Hide me!" It was Jesse. She took the pillow off her face and fixed him with a slightly amused look at his panicked expression.
"Shhhh! Just please." He gave her a puppy dog look and she sighed before pointing to her closet. He muttered thanks to her before ducking into the cramped closet.
She replaced the pillow on her face and sighed in annoyance when footsteps down the hall made their way towards her room. Moments later Lexa poked her head in the room.
"Is Jesse in here? I need his opinion on what type of cake we should have." A suppressed groan came from the closet but Shal guessed only she could pick it up with her hearing.
"Sorry, haven't seen him." She pointed to the pillow on her face.
"Oh, right. Sorry. Didn't mean to wake you. If you see him, tell him I need to talk to him." Shalimar gave her a thumbs up and Lexa leaved the room to go check in the game room with Brennan.
Jesse came out of the closet moments later with a relieved expression on his face but it fell once Shalimar's annoyed gaze met his.
"If you don't want to help, just tell her. I'm sure Brennan or I could help her out." Jesse laughed.
"Brennan? Come on, Shal. He's a guy; he probably hates this stuff as much as I do. And you... well you get moody every time me and her so much as hold hands," he finished guiltily. Shalimar shrugged.
"Doesn't mean I can't pick out one dress over another. Really, all you have to do is nod and smile with what they like and agree with what they hate. Knowing how strong-willed Lexa is she might not consider your opinion for long anyway if you were to give it." She stretched out on the bed a bit before standing and shoving him out the door.
She had barely shut it before she heard him scramble away as Lexa walked out of the game room after talking to Brennan. She smiled as she thought about how those two would work out despite their fights and everything. Not for the first time she wished she still had that. Her smile faded and she went to grab something to eat from the kitchen even though she wasn't really hungry. She just needed some time out of the room.
Brennan stared stupidly at the catalogue of wedding dresses in front of him. He still wasn't sure how the hell he had gotten here. All he knew was the bridesmaid dress Lexa had picked out -while a design that would maximize the amount of cleavage, which he was thankful for -was a hideous color.
"Lexa... are you going to make curtains from that?" Lexa blinked at him before frowning.
"What do you mean?"
"They're disgusting. Honestly, what made you think they were all right?"
"Well, Jesse agreed with me earlier...," she said in reference to when she had cornered Jesse and he had nodded to what she said.
"Then he's colorblind. Why bright green with pink trim?"
"I was going to dye the pink ok?" she said defensively. He shook his head before turning to another page.
"This one." He left it at that and exited the room before they could get into a debate.
"'This one.'" She muttered under her breath before realizing that he was indeed right. The dusty-rose colored dress - although having a plunging neckline - was perfect. It looked old but form fitting and came with elbow length gloves she found she absolutely adored.
She tore the page out of the book and - after only a second of hesitation - tore after Brennan to get his opinion about the flower arrangements.
Shalimar was half-heartedly eating some cookies when a slightly pale scientist walked in.
"Adam? What's the matter?" She hopped off the countertop as he looked up at her startled. He quickly adopted a smile but no color returned to his face making him look slightly terrified of pissing her off or something.
"Nothing's the matter Shalimar. Just... saw something scary." He mentally groaned.
"Scary?" Her brow furrowed. "Do you need some help with somethi-"
"NO!" The yell even startled him and he smiled apologetically. "No, just an unexpected ending to an E-mail. One of those ones where the picture is cute then turns horrifying." She smiled crookedly and patted him on the shoulder.
"There there Adam, the big bad internet won't hurt you." She left the room to wander around the Sanctuary, not noticing how agitated Adam had been the entire time.
Thunder crashed overhead and lighting bathed the expanse in instantaneous clarity before fading away to blackness once again. The woman ran, danger dogging her every step. She didn't know what the threat was or why she was running at breakneck speed. All she knew was it was a danger she couldn't face. Couldn't fight - well, fight and win anyway. So she kept running.
The wind whipped her long blood-red hair around her face and she struggled to see in the night. Lightning illuminated the field again and the desperate woman could see the tree line in front of her. She suddenly tripped on the gravel that somehow got under her but pushed herself up and running again. A smile briefly crossed her face and she moved faster toward it only to see several pairs of gleaming eyes appear and disappear in the brush. She stopped dead in her tracks and backed up only to feel the other danger begin to close in on her.
She had no time for this. Her mind began to tingle and she closed her eyes. She concentrated on light - light was the one thing this enemy feared. The only thing really. It thrived in the dark but was sent scattering like a cockroach in the light.
She had to make it to daylight. She focused all her energy and when she heard the loud clatter of the enemy on the stones behind her, she released a flare of white light. It yelped in sudden pain, terror, and surprise and the woman started going to the left. The eyes trailed her easily in the brush, only staying away because of the thing pursuing her.
Her breath came in short rasps as she ran and though her legs complained about the exertion, she kept pushing herself on with the fear as her energy.
Lightning flashed overhead followed by the low rumble of thunder and there was a boulder in front of her. At one point in time, there had been a rockslide in this place next to a high cliff but the woman didn't stop to care about that. She paused just outside the apparent landscape of rocks before her and only hesitated a second more before plunging herself into it. Pebbles made her slip and fall but she got up again despite the stinging in her palms. Tears sprang into her eyes as she remembered how close the evil had gotten.
Lightning flashed and she was covered in shadow. Terror gripped her as she realized that in this place - despite the difficulty she would have in crossing it - would provide shelter for the pursuer. She pressed on.
There was a loud crash and an angry roar behind her. She didn't turn around but bolted unthinkingly across the unsteady rocks. Some of them shifted as she charged through, and more often than not, she - and the one behind her - fell to the ground harshly. She tripped once more and braced herself for more sharp stones digging into her already bloody palms only to find her hands met with grass.
She'd made it! A smile of relief crossed her face before she remembered why she was here and bolted once again. Her muscles strained and protested but didn't dare stop despite how they were locking up from the constant falling. She would have bruises tomorrow for sure.
There was a small light ahead - about a hundred yards. She couldn't clearly see in the dark but she could just make out the silhouette of a small house. A house meant people, and people meant the evil would back off at least for one night. She wiped her hands on her pants and sprinted towards the house.
As she got closer, her pace slowed. Something wasn't right here. She crept forward slowly and placed her throbbing hands on the windowsill. The people inside were dead. She backed from the window with her shoulders slumped in defeat. This was it. She was done for now.
The evil behind her was closing in quickly. She could hear it slow down, as she didn't move. It took slow, confident steps towards her and grabbed her shoulders roughly. The woman felt tears course down her cheeks as she awaited the inevitable-
"Emma." Blue eyes blinked open in confusion and stared at the dark haired man above her. "You can't just give up like that." She sighed in exasperation.
"I know..." He decided to take pity on her and helped her to her feet. The rest of the room came into Emma's sight and she blushed to find all her 'peers' thinking something along the lines of 'They are just so cute together.' That was so far from the truth it was comical but she did not feel the need to correct them.
Her balance faltered for a second as a headache came on. Brian led her over to her seat on the bench by the window.
"Rest here for now." She nodded and squeezed her eyes shut. "Ok, who's next?" A dozen hands went up - most of the girls -and Emma smirked at the eagerness they always showed him. He was around six feet tall with curly black hair, eyes just as dark, and a slight Israeli accent that drove the girls wild with lust. When he smiled, he showed off two even rows of pearly white teeth and the girls swooned. Well, all except Emma of course.
He brought one eager woman to the front of the classroom and laid her down on the bed. He moved to her head and whispered words of comfort to her before moving his hands to either side of her face. Her eyes closed almost instantly as his hands grew bright white and she was sent into her subconscious.
Emma had found these people about a week after Selene had left Shalimar. Though she had hated Selene for it then, with the progress she had made Emma could hardly blame her anymore. She sure as hell needed it. Besides, it made it possible for Emma to take over for good again.
She smiled slightly as she remembered being in her own body again, how Selene had just readily given it up. It had surprised her at first, but somehow she knew Selene always knew when to do the right thing.
The years she had spent as Selene had strengthened her mind in ways not even her or Adam could have predicted. They thought it would only put a damper on Emma's powers and then she could return to herself once she got a cure. She was sure wrong on that.
Now she could stay as herself as long as she wanted; the headaches only came after these mental exercises but she didn't mind. The exercises further stretched her mind's limits and she knew she was gaining more and more control over herself than ever before.
The only thing she didn't like was the nightmares. Every night for a month or so, she'd been getting nightmares -much like her last exercise. She'd be running from something and then just when she thought she was safe -BAM! She'd get captured. What happened after that she didn't know, and that was why she participated in the sessions -to find out what happens after. But she could never continue that long to find out. So she had to keep starting over. It was a pain in the ass but she didn't mind. It gave her more time to just... be. She spent most of her time studying people she met.
Like Tal for instance. He was the powerful illusionist in the front of the room with the volunteer. He was well built and though he could just get by in life on his looks alone, he was a gifted mentor to the younger members of the group and always went out of his way to help struggling mutants if it was in his power. She trusted him deeply because of what he'd been doing to help her and they developed a close friendship -though not all that close.
She never told him about Mutant X, Genomex, the Dominion -any of it. Tal was carefree and knowledge of any of those groups would only create havoc in his life. He'd also never trust her again.
When they met, she was crying in the empty waiting area outside her missed flight. He had sat down, offered her some help and a place to stay for the night. He had assumed she was sad about her flight. She had shrugged him off and told him she didn't need his help but he was standing in a circle around her suddenly and she couldn't move. She was stunned and when he gave her his sales pitch, ("Come with me -the Titans Among Mortals can help you develop your powers like you've never guessed.") she had readily accepted.
Titans Among Mortals -TAM- was just as it sounded. The only people in it were mutants, and the main thing taught there was mutants were better than humans. That mutants were titans among the mere mortals that the humans were.
Emma didn't really agree with that logic, but then again she had nowhere else to turn. If she hadn't gone with them she had no idea what she might have done -broken down and returned to Shalimar and Adam for her 'cure,' or just left and never returned.
After a few months here, she realized she didn't actually need the cure anymore. Tal had explained what non-mutants think a cure for mutation is -a dampener of powers. All they wanted to do was stop the evolution inside a mutant even if it meant retarding their growth so much that the powers they already had would become flawed.
Despite him not knowing Adam at all she knew he had a point. The emotions in his voice didn't hurt either. He was deeply against 'cures' that weren't natural, and Emma assumed he must have had some experience with them to speak with such vehemence.
The girl at the front of the room began to shake and sweat; every now and then she would utter a moan. She'd leave the trance soon and then it was someone else's turn. Tal would keep doing this because he felt it was right. He didn't care that it sapped his energy greatly, he strongly felt that internal peace and calm was one of the main components to living with total control over ones powers. Emma sort of believed that herself -she spent at least an hour meditating every day -but she also knew that Tal had no idea what she could do. Her powers were far beyond his comprehension and despite this, she needed him. He had control and she needed to gain it herself -only then could she truly be ready to return to Shalimar.
Shalimar... The name still brought a goofy grin to her face. Shalimar was her entire motivation for being here. She could have returned to Mutant X months ago -incomplete, confused -but her love for Shalimar overruled that. She couldn't allow herself to be a constant burden to the feral and the rest of the team. It just wasn't in her.
A scream ripped through her thoughts and Tal quickly brought the girl from her trance. Emma sighed and left the room silently in favor of her bedroom.
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