The Flood
by vega


CATEGORY: Ensemble with a slight slant on Jesse. Five interconnected, but not necessarily chronological, perspective pieces. Brace for anvils.

SUMMARY: "The beauty of the world and the tragedy of existence is that one needs another to live."

SPOILERS: General Season two. Specific from the Shock of the New, A Fool for Love, and No Man Left Behind.


DISCLAIMER: These characters are not mine. Due to inconsistent characterizations and not enough background information given in the show, I took some liberation with certain aspects of the characters, but all are (hopefully) within what are said of them on the official websites.

NOTE: My inner Jesse voice just wouldn't shut up, so this is my tribute to Jesse and Pure board for its intelligent discussions and the overall inspiring nature. Also, I owe big thanks to Villanelle, Jessica, Chya, and JillW for their beautiful stories, which probably have affected this story to a great degree.

I. Words Needed. (Emma)

The silence is oppressive.

She thinks she might have been missing the silence until now, this freedom from the mélange of emotions and the pains that haunt her every moment of her waking hour. Yet now all she wants is for this silence to go away, this void to be filled with the feelings and even all the agonies that follow.

She hasn't been able to sense Shalimar for a while now, her distinctive feral signature no longer traceable. She tries to follow the echoes of Jesse's presence somewhere, anywhere, in this world, but all she can sense is fog, the snow crash of white spots that dance across nothingness. It doesn't resemble the coldness of death, but she doesn't know for how long that can hold true for Jesse. And Adam...

She takes Adam's hand and tries to feel his pulse. Erratic, but still there. The problem isn't physical. She only senses utter darkness in him.

/God, what a mess./

For a moment, Emma is taken aback by the sudden intrusion of a single thought. She doesn't read exact lines of thoughts, only emotions and presence, but it is an exact thought that she seems to have caught just now, when she can't read anything else. It's certainly not from Adam, who is lying in front of her, so it leaves only one other candidate.

Brennan probably doesn't even notice that she can only watch him, how tense he is, how his arms are tightly crossed, his jaw stiff, fists clenched. He stares at the floor as if there is nothing else he can possibly look at. Not her, and of course not Adam. He's been hidden in a shell that doesn't want to be penetrated, leaving her only with this terrible silence.

Sometimes she thinks she can only reflect the emotions of others, never hers. And with Brennan in a shell, she has nothing left to reflect.

But she doesn't need to use her powers to read him now, does she? She doesn't need to be a psionic to agree with his non-thought.

This is a mess.

The safe house is empty, only a few boxes strewn across the hall like discarded toys that they are. The only conscious occupants -- she and Brennan -- are feeling like comatose because of the shock. The other occupant who is not conscious -- Adam -- is already in a coma.

It isn't supposed to be like this. There should be things and equipments they need in order to set things straight. To get information on things that matter. Like, where they can hide. Where they can find help for Adam. What happen to Shalimar. Jesse.

The bloodstain dyed the sterile floor of the Sanctuary in crimson.

Go, Jesse told her then. Go.

So she did.

"Brennan," Emma says, finally, breaking the dead silence.

Brennan does not move. Adam does not stir.

"Brennan, we need to do something," she tries again, because she no longer knows what to think, what to do. Things have been drawing blank all around and it has already ceased to be frightening. This is just numb, empty.

For the first time since they've arrived here, Brennan turns to her. There's no anger left in his expression any more, and she realizes she prefers Brennan angry than like this, quiet and dejected.

"Like what? What should we do?" he asks, his tone neither bitter nor ironic. It's just a question, plain and simple, asked by a man who has already considered every option that they have.

You're asking me? almost escapes from her lips. Almost, but doesn't. She can't, because this, too, is too much for Brennan. She understands that much even when she can't read him.

They agreed the moment they escaped that the first thing to accomplish was to get Adam well again, heal him and wake him up from the induced coma. Everything else -- like thinking, hoping, despairing -- could come after that. They knew next to nothing of Adam's intricate underground network that could provide them with the much-needed help except for some safe house locations they had sent other new mutants to hide before they settled into their new lives. The only place they knew to have some sort of medical equipment was here, so they came, with all the hope they could scrap. But there's nothing here. Nothing at all.

Suddenly, Emma is wishing that she should have at least helped when Jesse organized the contact files of the emergency underground system. If Adam wasn't, Jesse had always been there to take care of little things.

Neither is here, and Emma and Brennan, only two out of the five, are lost.

"I can try waking him up without the equipment," she suggests finally, quietly, already knowing what Brennan would say.

And he gives the expected answer, "Too dangerous. You can get lost in his head."

"I can nudge him slightly to the consciousness," she tells him, hoping she doesn't sound as uncertain as she feels. It is hard enough to invade one's mind with a full cooperation from the subject, but Adam's complex mind, whose brain might not even be functioning at the moment?

Her hesitation doesn't go unnoticed by Brennan. "It can be also dangerous for Adam. And we don't want him come back as a half-Adam, do we?"--the question part is asked with enough wariness to worry her--"And you're the only one with the power that can be used against them if they come at us all suited up with guns blazing. We can't risk it."

Normally she would see how difficult it is for him to admit the uselessness of his powers in the situation they're in, but they have no time for sentimentality right now. "Tell me what other options we have," she demands flatly.

Brennan meets her eyes. There is silence again. Only this time, they're facing this silence together.

But why does that matter anyway? They have no options. Never did from the moment they took Adam out from the Sanctuary. They had to follow the instinct. To run.

There's a thud echoing through the empty space, and Emma realizes Brennan's fist just came into contact with the wall.

"Goddammit, Adam! You need to wake up! We need you."

If Brennan hoped to get Adam to miraculously get up with his little outburst, he should be disappointed. Emma isn't, because she can only read this void. Nothing seems to be in her any more. Like she no longer knows what to feel. Even disappointment no longer seems to be viable.

So this is how everything goes down, she thinks.

Then, a flash of senses begins to nag her at the back of her consciousness. It absorbs into her mind like an ink drop into a bathtub of water, and she recognizes it for what it is, with a sense of forbidding and dread.

This really is how things go down.

"They're coming," she tells Brennan, her voice dead even to her own ears.

Brennan stands straight, his jaw stiff, his body tense. Fists clenched. One of them is bleeding.

This time, her own thought shatters the silence.

/God, what a mess./

The cruelest lies are often told in silence.
-Robert Louis Stevenson.

For Emma DeLauro, the story of their end slowly dawned on one night, when the various emotions of the residents solemnly echoed through the walls of the Sanctuary like four bells ringing in an empty cathedral.

She lingered at the corridor, listening, wondering, whether she should intrude, whether she should remain only as a listener and not a participant. But the sounds soon became incessant, the need to appease the emotions that haunted her becoming necessary and desperate, and she could no longer just be a listener.

So her first stop was the lab, where the echoes of confusion, loss, determination, and anger were a cacophonic quartet with individual rhymes and rhythms that didn't go together. Adam was hovering over his desk, his fingers working on the keyboard faster than her eyes could see. His emotions were too fast, too huge, too much for her to read in certainty, and she could not read the reasons for them to haunt him now.

"What are you working on?" she asked tentatively, lingering on the entrance long enough for Adam to notice her presence.

Adam sharply turned around, the screen of his computer immediately turned off. He forced a smile into his face, but it was a fraction of a second too late, and she didn't miss the dark something that flickered across his expression.

"Just a little side project of mine," he answered. Nothing told, nothing given away. Just plain Adam. "You all ready for tomorrow?" he asked soon after, quickly covering the silence that testified her disbelief.

Emma wanted to believe Adam was desperate enough to lie to a psionic who knew his complex mindset better than anyone in this world, so she decided to respect this wish. For the moment. "Yep," she answered lightly, "Playing bodyguards for the government bureaucrats. Brennan is less than thrilled."

"Neither am I, but--"

"It's necessary, I know, Adam. Even Brennan knows we need to deal with politics to keep our humble mission afloat."

"But it doesn't mean you have to like it," Adam finished the thought for her. "I agree completely."

He gave her a little, self-deprecating grin, and suddenly she thought she knew what was on his mind.

Do you want to talk about this? Emma asked herself. There was no answer back. Which meant there wasn't a complaint either then. It was decided. She began slowly, "You know, Adam, when I asked the others the question, I didn't mean--"

"I know," he cut her off, not unkindly, but at least abrupt enough to stop her. "But you wanted me to hear it nonetheless."

Had she? Emma wasn't sure why she had asked her friends the question, why she had pushed for the answers when she knew perfectly well Adam had been listening to their conversation. She wasn't sure why she felt she needed to push Adam, who was always the one in control, why she needed to see him shaken and a little lost.

Must be jealousy, she thought. She might have been jealous of Adam, for always having the conviction, for knowing and believing what he was doing.

But now she saw him like this, and she was beginning to think she had been wrong after all.

"You shouldn't pay too much attention to it," she said, by a way of compromise, an apology unspoken.

Adam only grinned faintly. "Go to sleep, Emma. We have a big day tomorrow."

Before she could answer, he turned away, going back to his work and effectively signaling the end of their conversation. She watched Adam for a moment before walking away. Nothing else she could do about this. There were always other background noises, other emotions that begged for her attention.

She pondered which path to follow, but the choice became pretty self-evident; it was either the grief, or the sickening passion that resonated with the laughter echoing through the walls. The Sanctuary was supposedly soundproof--then why could she hear every sound?

She turned her steps and followed the trace of the grief dutifully until it led her to another restless soul.

"That's great, Liam," Jesse was on the phone line, pleasant and all smile. "You made a great progress. Adam would be more than pleased."

On the phone screen, Liam answered sheepishly, //You think so?//

"Of course," Jesse assured him after giving Emma a nod to acknowledge her presence. "Look, I gotta go, but I'll talk to you in a few days, cool?"

The screen disconnected after brief good-byes, and Jesse turned to face her with a smile.

She greeted him with the same small smile. "Hope I didn't interrupt the conversation. How is Liam?" They had come across Liam a few weeks ago, a young molecular with a great potential and in a dire need of guidelines. Right away he'd become attached to Jesse, who had ever since taught him the way to control his powers.

Jesse beamed like a proud teacher he was now, "Great. More than great, in fact, surpassing his teacher."

"I don't think that's possible," she said lightly, but truthfully enough.

"Thanks, but really, Liam's progressing much faster than I ever did. And you know what else he can do. Spontaneous regeneration of some living molecular structure. Makes him a magic healer for us, a rare gift. A unique one, really."

For a second, Emma wondered if this was his source of grief, that he wasn't the best in the field, but she detected nothing but pride in Jesse regarding Liam's progress. She had to probe somewhere else. "So, your leg is really fine?"

Jesse sighed dramatically, eyeing his right leg that had been recently patched up from a particularly rough fight. "It's been weeks already. It would be just fine if people would stop asking every hour or so."

"Grumpy baby," Emma smiled.

He smiled back faintly, but it soon disappeared, leaving no trace of happiness. When he stood up and moved to look down at the empty hall downstairs, she could smell grief from everything that he was, a steady, profound sense of loss flowing through the air like pulse of a warm body. From that, she felt a flash, a quicksilver.

"Who died?" the question came out automatically even before Emma herself could digest the sudden insight.

She froze, waiting for Jesse's reaction. If he felt offended at her intrusion, she couldn't read any of it.

"No peeking, Emma," he said quietly, not turning around.

"I didn't," she answered, feeling slightly defensive. Jesse always broadcasted his emotions like a TV set, the easiest person to read without any effort on her part, probably because he hadn't built a dam around his feelings like others. It was both the best and the worst thing about Jesse. It made her love him and hate him at the same time. "I don't need to be psychic, because I know you," she added unnecessarily.

Jesse said nothing for a moment, and when Emma was beginning to think there would be no answer, he spoke up, his eyes looking down somewhere on the empty hall, "My grandmother."

Emma vaguely remembered hearing from Shalimar that Jesse used to have a whole set of family. A rich family that provided him with everything. It was just that they didn't care for him all that much. She didn't know what to think, what to say. She was empathic, and what was the use? She eventually opted for the empty, "I'm so sorry. You're going to the funeral?"

"I'm leaving tomorrow, after the mission."

"I see," she said, finally. "So you'll be absent for a while."

He nodded.

"For how long?" she asked, suddenly not liking a prospect of Jesse's absence from the team.

"For a while. I need to take care of the estate."

"Estate?" she asked, dumbly.

"Estate," he repeated, his eyes still far away. "The mansions, the businesses, the Kilmartin enterprise that my grandmother took over since my grandfather's death. She left quite a lot to me instead of Noah."

"The Kilmartin Enterprise? The company making computer chips?" *The* Kilmartin enterprise? She had known Jesse was rich--but obviously she didn't know exactly how rich. Why hadn't she made the obvious connection until now?

"And silicon. And other various tech things that this country can't do without," Jesse smiled wearily, "I didn't learn all this computer stuff just from Adam, you know."

She realized she had never seen Jesse like this, never detected any real context of the rich, aristocratic environment he had been brought up in. Even with her empathic abilities, it was impossible to imagine Jesse as the heir of one of the richest industrialists this country had to offer. The subject of their each past was something of a taboo in this team, something none of them particularly wished to discuss with each other, and now it seemed like Jesse's past was going to take him away from them, 'for a while'.

For some reason, Emma decided she didn't like this revelation very much. There was something about this that bothered her like loose shoelaces, like--

"Jesse, you did tell Adam you're going away, right?"

"Would I go anywhere before clearing it up with Adam?"

"But you didn't tell him you might not come back at all."

Her statement hung in the air.

Like a corporeal object that both of them wanted to spontaneously combust right at this moment, it stood between them, defying their wish to ignore it at all cost.

"I did," Jesse said a moment later, his voice emotionless. "Liam is the prospective replacement."

Oh my god, Emma thought. What Adam must be feeling right now. A little more understanding into the state of Adam's mind tonight. "But you didn't tell us," she said, trying not to sound accusatory yet definitely failing.

"I'm telling you now."

"Brennan and Shalimar?"

"They didn't ask."


He sighed, raking his dark blond hair with his fingers. "Emma, nothing's decided. I told Adam my uncle wants me to come back and stay, and he said I should think about it. So I'm thinking."

But it wasn't just that. She could read a kind of absolution from him, like he had already made up his mind. Jesse was carefully avoiding her eyes, and now she had an idea. "That's not it, is it? This is what's bothering you."


Emma thumped the wall lightly with her index finger. It made a hollow, empty sound against the metal barricade. "This, Jesse. This."

If they listened hard enough, they could hear the laughter and the moans and all the things they probably didn't want to hear resonating from a section of the Sanctuary, something they all had been refusing to acknowledge. Even Adam didn't think of lecturing them on the effect of fraternization on team dynamics and just let things be. Certainly it was boosting morals. At least, for Brennan and Shalimar.

Emma could see Jesse immediately understood what she meant, but to her surprise, he only smiled, shaking his head. She had to admit that it had been a while since she'd seen this particular genuine smile of his, and that she'd missed it, even if the occasion that brought it out was not within her comprehension.

She watched his face, not understanding, and just as instinctively, reached out to read him.

As if burned, he turned away from her. "Don't."


"Emma, you don't have to read me. I'd tell you everything you want to know. All you have to do is ask." He stared into her eyes, seemingly recognizing something. "But you don't believe that, do you? You don't believe in words any more. Communication is never a two-way street with you."

She blinked, hard. She didn't understand. She didn't want to. "I don't know what you mean."

"Emma, you think you know everything we feel, but just how much do you know your own?"

For a moment, she was overwhelmed by sadness in his every gesture, every word. This, this whole thing was like a drain with incredible thirst. Emma felt swirling in the emotions that were his and recognized none of hers.

This wasn't what she felt. This wasn't.

"You still haven't answered me," she told him briskly. "I asked you."

"Yes. The answer is yes," he answered simply. He paused for a moment, and almost curiously, he asked, "Does this bother you?"

"No," she answered flatly.

She wasn't lying. It didn't feel like lying.

So it wasn't a lie.

He stared at her for a moment, not inquisitive, not probing, just staring.

He turned away.

He was beginning to walk away, and the answer to all of this came to her mind, the magic words, those that would get him to stay.

And she said them, "Jesse, we need you."

He stopped on his track.

Emma watched him and thought, he's drowning. He was thinking of the forty days of rain engulfing everything around him in terrible, unforgiving blue.

A long moment later, he turned halfway, his voice soft, "No, you don't." At her expression, he only smiled, betraying the air around him that was saturated by grief. "Goodnight, Emma."

She listened to his footsteps until she couldn't hear any more.

She listened inside for noises, sounds. The things that might be her own.



She had loved words, before, for all their beauty and cruelty. That was before she had realized that she could project images onto other people's minds, that she could glimpse into their most secret thoughts without thinking, without wanting. Before all that, she had loved words.

At that time, silence was a strange thing. Sometimes she searched it so desperately as it comforted her better than anything in the world. Other times, she was in hurry to replace it with spoken words. Flowing, living words that didn't hang in the air, that communicated, that kept things lively with their sounds. She would speak as much as she could, as fast as she could, just to fill the silence. Silence could be oppressive.

Much later, Emma's mind could no longer tolerate words. She didn't know why they had suddenly become meaningless in all dimensions. Or maybe she knew. The dissonance. What people didn't say. What people did say and did not mean. What people said with all the words that weren't meant to be uttered.

But she knew exactly when she did realize that they had lost all the meanings for her.

"Wow, Emma, since when are you a Zen master?"

Brennan's casual remark from some time ago still ricocheted.

She had glanced at Shalimar and Jesse when Brennan made that remark, and she saw flashes of images in their minds that they brought up at the time. The images of Emma herself, her first time in the Sanctuary.

"Not a freak like you," she had yelled at them, all edgy and ready to wound anything that she could. Rebellious, violent, even. She had been a confused kid, back then. Confused and lost.

But maybe not. She had known what she was. What she had been.

She could scarcely recognize herself now.

A bit later, she realized that she could blow off people's minds, numbing them and exploding them and at the end, killing them, if she wished. If she willed it.

She thought if pushed too much, she might. All these tides of emotions, all of them haunting at her every footstep, she might.

The words disappeared completely because they weren't needed any more.



//Clear here.//

//Same here, nothing suspicious.//

//That hot dog looks mighty good. Anyone up for pizza after?//

Emma heard Shalimar crack a small laughter at Jesse's flippant remark over the com. //Nice try, Mr. MiB, but that would be a gigantic waste of our outfits,// Shalimar's reply cracked through the comlink, //I say we should go find ourselves a nice French restaurant. Wine, roses and all that.//

//People, the job's not done yet,// Adam reminded them from Double Helix in a rather stern voice. //And I prefer Italian.//

Emma could practically see everyone's smile on their face at the moment and feel their relief that the event had been finished without a hitch, but she kept her position, occasionally scanning the leaving crowd for any danger and thinking about something else entirely.

People were pouring out from the conference room, chattering loudly about the topic. Too many emotions, too many to keep track of.

She had been focusing on negative emotions, something dangerous. Nothing. There had been nothing before the conference, and nothing while the senator was giving his speech. It seemed almost like a waste of time, and she felt a headache from reading too many minds for dark sensations that she particularly didn't enjoy.

She glanced at the direction where Brennan and Jesse stood guard over the long corridor, checking out the crowd.

They were both wearing black suits straight and straight, and although Brennan didn't look half-bad, it was Jesse who seemed alarmingly comfortable in it. The fancy suit fit him like his second skin, and Emma, for all of its aesthetic worth, wished he were wearing his old jeans and t-shirts. What was worse, he was even clean-shaven today, ditching his long suffering stubble, earning a teasing comment or two from Shalimar when they had set to get to work in the morning.

"Finally realized stubble doesn't attract girls as much as I thought," Jesse had answered Shalimar with an exaggerated sigh.

Shalimar had stifled laughter, playfully tugging at his jacket in a vain attempt to set it straight. "Jess, I can tell you with quite authority you're all very pretty, with or without the stubble."

She doesn't know, Emma had thought then, watching their easy banter. Shal has no clue. She is drowning in her own happiness.

And Jesse was content letting her believe that, making the same old jokes and leading friendly banters. Like nothing was wrong with him.

Emma wasn't sure if she should be infuriated or distraught.

"You're staring a little too hard at your friends," a voice interrupted her listless thought, making her jump.

"Senator," Emma turned around, blush creeping into her cheeks.

But Senator Kline waved away her apparent embarrassment. "I can't blame you there, Ms. DeLauro. Talented and good looking young boys that they are. You all are."

Emma gave him a polite smile, reading nothing but the best intentions from him. The senator, to everyone's surprise, had turned out to be a pleasant man with a warm, grandfatherly smile. He had shown no negativity, even knowing what special 'talents' this particular team had to offer. They now had no problem believing that he was one of the few allies Adam had in the government who understood their cause and even sympathized with them. Emma let herself ease off a little. "Did everything go well with the conference, Senator?"

"I hope it did, but I do not expect miracles overnight. Individuals might be smart, but a crowd of people can be ignorant and dangerous at times."

He definitely reminded her of Adam, and the thought made Emma smile despite everything. "For what it's worth, I think you're courageous for attempting to enlighten people on the danger of possessing even larger military power. Some people might not like what you're doing."

Senator Kline scoffed off, "Adam thinks I could be in danger, but who'd want to hurt an old hack like me?"

"Many, many people," as if on a cue, Shalimar appeared right behind him, sporting a causal grin and a not-as-casual dress chosen to 'blend in' with the crowd tonight. "That's why we're here."

"And thanks to you, nothing happened." Clearly, he didn't believe the threats he'd been receiving to be acted upon.

Shalimar took his compliment with a modest nod and a wink aimed at Emma and gently ushered the older man on his way. "Let's return to your suite, Senator. Your staff are waiting for you."

As they headed on their way through the corridor and up to the suite upstairs, Shal inconspicuously came to her side. "You seem pretty preoccupied today. You okay?"

"Just a bit tired."

"That all?"

Shalimar was obviously not buying it. Well, too bad, Emma thought. "Is there supposed to be something else?"

Shalimar put her hands up good-naturedly to gesture surrender. "Nothing at all. Sorry I asked."

Emma watched Shalimar getting back to her bodyguard mode in her way that made everything seem so casually natural to the older feral. Emma was well aware that even if she and Adam couldn't change Jesse's mind and Brennan was out of the question, Shalimar might still have a shot at it. But it felt like betraying Jesse's confidence, even when he hadn't imposed anything such. And for some inexplicable reason, she enjoyed the fact that Jesse had told her first, before Shalimar, before Brennan. Petty, but there it was. Some of her friends sometimes did put her before Shalimar.

She recognized this emotion as bitterness.

She didn't like it. At all.

"Look, Shal--" Emma began, thinking she should mend this somehow, knowing she would regret this.

Just then Jesse jogged along to join them, breathless and in effect stopping Emma from saying anything more.

"Brennan is checking the parameter ahead of us. Everything seems to be in place," he reported, checking out the room with a sweeping glance once again.

"Good," Shalimar nodded, her eyes betraying her relaxed smile with their tight, alert glint. She entered the suite with the senator when they reached his room, leaving Emma to stay with Jesse to guard.

Jesse scanned the corridors, checking for anything out of place. Whether to occupy himself with something to do or to avoid talking to her, Emma wasn't sure.

As soon as this mission was finished, he would leave, she knew.

Emma still didn't know what to think.

When their eyes met, he smiled faintly. Like he knew exactly what she was thinking. And he did. Without any power, he knew her. Even in utter desolation that she knew he felt, he still knew.

His eyes were blue, almost like the terrible blue that he seemed to have imagined himself drown in.

And she still didn't know what to think when the sound of static came through the comlink.


"Brennan?" Jesse clicked at his ring, but nothing came through. "Emma?"

She was already concentrating on Brennan's signature and his emotions. Something felt frantic and she almost stumbled except for Jesse's steady hand that was ready to support her.

"Something's wrong," she said, looking up at Jesse's concerned face. "I don't think he's hurt, but something's off."

Jesse was already running as he shouted, "Adam, can you check for Brennan? He's not answering his comlink. Stay here, Emma. I'll check it out."

He quickly disappeared into the end of the corridor.

A few seconds, or eternity, later, Emma heard a shriek, only it wasn't a sound. There was only silence here, yet there it was, this terrible scream that almost split her mind into half with all of its pain.

Terror swept through Emma's mind as she rushed to open the door to the VIP suite.

"Shal? Senator?" her own voice shook so badly that she didn't recognize as hers.

No answer.

She saw the puddles of blood first. Before she reached two people lying on the floor, she already knew one of them was lifeless.


"That's a load of crap," Brennan declared, his voice low and growling but surprisingly not demonstrating his rage physically. Not yet, at least.

Then again, the night is still young, Emma thought.

"I'm not disagreeing with you, Brennan." Adam raked his hair in frustration, his fingers shaking ever so slightly. "However, that's what they're telling me, and that's all I am getting from every source I have. No one else entered the suite beside Kline and Shalimar."

Jesse looked on in front of the computer screen, looking exhausted like everyone else in the room. "They could've always faked the surveillance records of the corridor and entrance to the suite. If only I can get my hands on them--"

Adam shook his head. "They're not about to hand us the evidence."

"Did you try breaking into the system?"

"Already did."

"Then what--" Jesse stopped himself, realization setting. "Then you saw it, the feed from the surveillance. There was no one else entering the suite."

Adam's silence was all the confirmation they needed.

"The feed could still be a fake," Jesse pointed out, and Emma read denial all over, "We need the hard copy to make certain of that."

Adam shook his head wearily. "They won't hand over the hard copy to us. After all, we are their number one suspects."

"Wow, their logic knows no boundaries." Brennan was pacing the room, seemingly disgusted beyond the threshold. "How are *we* the suspects? We were there to protect the senator!"

"And we were doing such a terrific job protecting him, weren't we?" Emma pointed out softly.

Brennan stopped pacing, clearly not happy. "All right, so we might look suspicious, but how do they explain Shalimar's state?"

"They don't have to," Adam said. "They think Kline could've hurt her somehow when trying to fight back."

"Senator *Kline*? Are you kidding? She could've killed him with a snap of her finger if she wanted."

"And instead there is a desecrated body. So, do we tell them that Shalimar could have killed him without being messy about it, therefore she didn't do it?" Adam asked, clearly not expecting to be answered.

"Senator Kline couldn't have done this to Shal. We all know that," Jesse quietly interrupted the dialogue between Adam and Brennan before it turned into a shouting match. "The facts are, the senator was killed while Shalimar was protecting him. Emma was outside but heard nothing, and me and Brennan were fighting off the pro-militant protesters at the lounge and saw nothing. No one entered the suite according to all the cameras and they didn't have any surveillance inside the room so we can't really check it. And we don't know why Shal is..."

Jesse stopped, looking away. He didn't have to continue, because they all knew what he was about to say.

Emma glanced into the lab through the glass walls where Shalimar was asleep. She was unnaturally pale and had lost her usual glow, much like how Emma had found her and the senator. Whenever Emma tried to read into Shal's mind, she had to turn away, unable to continue in its unfamiliarity. She had lost her feral signature that was so distinctly hers, and even though Emma was certain that this was Shalimar that they knew and loved, it was an impossibility that was happening right in front of their eyes.

"She is going to be fine," Adam promised with as much confidence as he could muster. "It's just that--"

"--we don't know why her mutations suddenly disappeared," Emma finished for him.

Adam nodded. His eyes had bags under them, the proof of his sleepless search for the cure for her condition, if there was one.

"Richard Saunders did develop a serum that reversed the genetic mutations," Jesse reminded him.

Something in Adam's demeanor shook, unnoticed by everyone except Emma, at the mention of the doctor who had been hell-bent on 'curing' himself, someone Shalimar had fallen in love with once, a long ago. But Adam, being Adam, recovered quickly enough before Emma could pursue it any further. He continued with his perfectly controlled scientist voice, "His serum reversed *and* degenerated the mutant genes, even the normal ones. Shalimar is perfectly healthy. I don't see anything wrong with her, except that she's--"

"Normal," Jesse said with finality.


They all digested this piece of information without being able to understand it.

"What about the evidence we collected from the scene?" Jesse asked, his words grasping at straws. "Did you process them?"

Once again, Adam looked sorry even before he spoke a word. "Nothing to indicate there was a third party in the room."

"The police was there before us," Brennan said, very strongly indicating his displeasure about that little fact. "They would've just altered the record and disposed of the evidence."

Adam sighed. "The problem is that all evidence that they do have point toward Shalimar as their--"

Brennan might not be pacing now, but he was close to yelling, "Murderer? Assassin? Killer? C'mon, take your pick, Adam."

"--suspect," Adam finished firmly. "And I don't know what else I could do to convince otherwise. Clearly, they don't believe us."

More because of who we are than because of the evidence, she thought. Emma had plainly heard what Adam did not say out loud. Of course. Of course. They could do so many good things for this country and the world, but they would never be one of them, the normal, regular, people. It was ridiculous, actually. She had usually felt pity for their ignorance, but their ignorance was causing them quite a trouble now.

"There are other possibilities, other angles we could pursue," Jesse said, breaking the silence with his quiet, thoughtful voice.

"Such as?" Adam asked.

"Senator had many enemies. So do we. And so do the people who have done this to us."

Suddenly Adam froze, his expression almost stricken.


Adam didn't stop at Emma's inquiry. He walked straight into his office saying, "I'm going to talk to Beverly."

The door closed, and Emma turned to Jesse. "What is he trying to do?"

Jesse leaned against the chair, looking tired. "If we're framed, and I don't see any other way to look at this, it has to be by someone with grudges on both the senator and us."

"Genius, Sherlock," Brennan snapped. "Any second-grader can figure that out."

Jesse continued, ignoring Brennan, "And we need help from inside right now, the help that Adam's source obviously can't give. But the enemies of the people who benefit the most from this assassination might want to help us figure out the truth for their good, assuming the people who do benefit the most from Senator Kline's death did frame us for it."

"And assuming that these enemies of them are willing to help us, the mutants," Emma added.

Jesse stared at her for a moment. "Yes. Assuming that."

The three of them thought for a while.

"Dammit," Brennan summarized their thought with one simple utterance.

"Yeah," Jesse agreed, like that word said everything he wanted to say.

The silence swirled around them, letting its presence known to them with chilling indifference.

Emma embraced it, welcoming a break from all the emotions emanating from her colleagues in this room, every single one of them fierce and almost vehement in its intensity. But there were people who did not take kindly to silence, people who couldn't just sit and accept it.

Like Brennan.

"Why did you come after me?" he asked, abruptly turning his attention to Jesse.

Jesse looked puzzled at Brennan's sudden anger. "What?"

"You should've stayed with Emma and Shal. I could've handled the protesters myself. I didn't *ask* for your help."

Immediately Jesse's mouth snapped shut, his expression turning hard, harder than his body when he massed.

Emma could tell this was signaling trouble with a big T. She glared at Brennan. "Your comlink signal was all jumbled and we didn't know what was happening on your side. What were we supposed to do?"

"I could've handled it by myself," Brennan repeated, none of the anger defused and with all the stubbornness added. "You should know that by now."

Jesse said nothing. He was now looking at the computer screen, his back to them, and Emma could visibly see his shoulders stiffen. So this was how they dealt with pain. Brennan through anger, Jesse through his stiff grin that tucked away every trace of pain, and Emma...

She didn't know what she did.

She was definitely in no mood for such contemplation, nor had she any time for it. "Look, we're all angry and tired, Brennan. Think about what you're saying before you actually say them."

Before Brennan could answer, Jesse spoke, his eyes intent on the screen, "Liam's in trouble."

"What's wrong?" Emma asked, suddenly feeling the weight of the world. She absolutely could not handle any more problems right now.

Jesse was already standing up, grabbing his jacket. "Don't know. Messaged me to meet him at McGary's, downtown. I have to go pick him up. Beep me if Adam finds out anything. I won't be long."

Anger flashed at Brennan's eyes. "You're going out now? When Shal's like this?"

"I'm hoping you're not suggesting that I don't care about Shalimar," Jesse said, his voice flat.

Brennan said nothing, only staring back.

Jesse's blue eyes were colder than the Arctic, and Emma had to look away.

Jesse walked out, not once stopping on his track.

"God," Emma let out her breath as soon as Jesse disappeared from their sight, "What is *wrong* with you?"

"Don't start, Emma," Brennan's voice was cool as he glanced into the lab, looking at Shalimar with an unfathomable expression.

That did nothing but fuel her anger. "Why didn't you snap at me? I was right there, *and* I'm a psionic, and even then I couldn't stop any of this from happening. Why don't you accuse me and blame me?"


"Don't 'Emma' me, don't you dare. I was *right there* and I couldn't do *anything*. It's entirely my fault, isn't it, according to your way of assigning blames."

"No, it isn't. Emma--"

"Why not?"

Brennan said nothing, his eyes still on Shalimar.

"Want me to answer it for you? Because I'm not Jesse, that's why. You can't just scream at me, because that role is reserved for him first. Adam's second, probably. Then me. My turn hasn't come yet."

He glared at her. "Are you reading me? That it?"

She thoroughly ignored him, "Be honest with your emotions, Brennan. You were always at least that, honest with your feelings. Don't back out from that now."

"What are you saying?"

"What do you think?"

Suddenly all anger had disappeared from Brennan's expression; there was only exhaustion. "What am I thinking? What am I thinking? I don't know what I'm thinking." He turned away again, his shoulders sinking slowly. "The whole thing is so messed up."

She couldn't agree more.

"Dammit," Brennan mumbled to himself. A moment later, he picked up his jacket and turned away.


"I'm going after Jesse. Call us if anything's wrong, 'kay?"

Sometimes she thought she could only reflect the emotions of others, never hers. She could lose herself in other emotions and never recover.

She knew what others felt. She glanced at the disappearing shape of Brennan's back. She glanced at the lab infirmary, where Shalimar was asleep, blissfully unaware of the commotions outside. She glanced at the office, where the distraught Adam was making phone calls to get them out from this situation.

She could tell, with more than ninety-five percent accuracy, what they were feeling.

The question was, how much of them was hers.


General Sperling had nothing much going for him outside his office in the Department of Defense. He mostly assigned projects and called the shots without actually conducting the missions. That was how the Phased Vibration Generator that Adam had created had almost fallen into the use on innocent people some time ago. Emma looked through his profile, trying to find anything useful. The list of the possible allies and enemies, mostly politicians and military men, was long enough for her eyes to become blurry beyond sight, and she reached the point to suggest that maybe she should just go see them one by one, and read them. That would be faster than examining these profiles that gave out next to nothing.

Adam almost smiled at her complaint. "This is the old-fashioned way of researching, Emma. This is what I do. Why don't you rest a bit? The others could help."

"Bren's busy at Shal's bedside, as you already know. And Jesse is going over the system schematics with Liam, something about a glitch where it shouldn't be."

At the mention of Liam, she felt both she and Adam pause for a bit. It wasn't that they didn't like Liam, because they did. She read nothing off from him. A little too eager, maybe, but that served to like him even more, reminding her of Jesse when she'd just become a member of the team. It was just that Liam's presence reminded her of something unpleasant--Jesse had thought about leaving them.

She knew, instinctively, Jesse's mind hadn't changed about wanting to leave, but she felt almost relieved and glad that some good things did come out of Shalimar being incapacitated and the team making into the most-wanted list of the every police station. Jesse would not leave, not now, not like this. It just wasn't something he did.

She didn't know why Adam would find Liam's presence uneasy, though, and like a bad habit, she peeked into his mind, only slightly.

"You didn't stop him?" she asked, bewildered and angry as she recovered the things on the surface of his mind almost immediately.

Adam didn't turn around from his workstation, his fingers still working across the keyboard. "You mean General Sperling? I did try to stop him from getting the PVG. It didn't work, did it?"

She felt absolutely exasperated whenever Adam played dumb knowing exactly she wouldn't be sold on it. "You know he's not the one I'm talking about, Adam."

"Emma," Adam warned. As to, please stop poking through my mind. As to, let's not talk about this now. As to, we have more important things to think about.

"Oh, quit it, you and Brennan going all 'Emma' on me won't do a thing. You didn't stop Jesse. You knew you could. He won't leave if you stop him. You *know* that."

Adam didn't turn around, but his fingers stopped moving. He rubbed his eyes tiredly. "I'm no longer sure if this is the best for him, Emma."

There was no emotion in his voice, yet at the same time it sounded devastated, as if it was from a father who realized the truth a little too late and now everything was ruined.

She felt like she couldn't get a word into his mind at this state, but she had to try, at least. "But you wanted to stop him. You *want* him here. Why don't you just say what you want when you know he wants to hear them?"

Adam turned to look at her. "Why didn't you, Emma?

The question wasn't meant to be cruel, but it stung. "I did. He didn't believe me."

The problem was, she knew why he didn't.

"What are you guys talking about?" a new voice interrupted them.

When they turned around, startled, they saw Shalimar stood shakily at the entrance, supporting herself by leaning against the doorframe. She was still weak from whatever transformation she had gone through, attempting to adjust to life without her feral side, but now her eyes were unquestionably glowing lividly, very much reminiscent of her feral eyes.

Which told Emma that Shalimar had heard everything.

"What. Are. You. Saying," Shalimar repeated, her every word punctuated with anger.

"If you heard everything, Shalimar, you don't have to ask," Adam answered calmly, earning a great respect from Emma.

"Jesse was planning to leave," Shalimar said, and it wasn't a question. "And he didn't tell us."

Well, he hadn't told all of them, but he certainly had told Adam and Emma. But Emma thought it would be wise not to remind Shal when she obviously knew this as well. She suddenly wondered where Brennan was. He should be here, Emma thought desperately, I don't even mind him kissing Shalimar right in front us passionately with all the surround sounds if it could stop her from asking us more questions.

Sadly, Brennan continued to be no-show, and Emma and Adam had a very confrontational ex-feral in front of them, wanting answers.

"I think you should let Jesse talk," Adam tried again, his voice still remarkably calm. "He deserves that much."

Shalimar stood still now, her arms across her chest. She looked calm with this posture, but then again, her eyes were still sizzling. "Try again, Adam. What the hell? And why didn't *you* tell *us*?"

Adam wasn't going to do this, Emma knew. Well, then. "His grandmother died," she offered to Shalimar, her voice carefully controlled.

Shal looked at Adam and got the confirmation she wanted from his expression. Suddenly, something changed in her face, as a flash of memories went through her mind.

"The Bible," Shalimar let the words out slowly, almost painfully. "It was a legacy from his grandmother?"

Emma had no idea what they were talking about, but Adam answered simply, "Yes."

"That was more than a week ago," Shal said, almost to herself. She closed her eyes briefly and Emma was almost afraid that she would fall into some sort of depression, something she couldn't afford in her condition right now. But Emma's worries were entirely unwarranted, because soon Shalimar bit her lips and proceeded to shout loudly, "Okay, that's it! I'm going to kick his ass, power or no power!"

Emma was beginning to think that Shalimar was currently more pissed off at Jesse than at losing her feral side or being framed for murdering a senator. Well, at least it kept her in good spirits.

"Gosh, what did Bren do this time?"

Emma and Adam turned to the new occupant of the room who looked entirely unsuspecting and innocent. Shalimar didn't, keeping her eyes straight. Emma imagined steams coming out from her ears.

"Um, Shal?" Jesse asked, all innocent and curious.

"Think I should go look for...something," Adam said, gesturing the door and already moving away from the ground zero.

"I'll help you look," Emma volunteered, and quickly, both of them left the room.

As Emma closed the door behind her, she caught a glimpse of Jesse's expression. She thought it was like the one that was about to be shattered into a million little pieces.

But she shook that thought away. She was only observing him; she didn't read him. Nothing came right from just observation. So it wasn't going to happen. Shal could change his mind completely. She would kick his ass and get him the answer, whatever it was.

Or so Emma hoped.


Blue, everything was blue. The world trembled and quivered. The look that could shatter into a million pieces with a single touch. The eyes with gray and indigo swirls that stormed inside. They told the truth. They couldn't lie. They couldn't pretend.

Oh, the lies they told. The lies.

"Jesse--" Emma couldn't finish, her hand stopping in midair.

Jesse stopped on his track and turned halfway. He smiled faintly, his smile tucking away so many things inside. Again.

"Someone told me that beauty of the world and the tragedy of existence is that one needs another to live," he said. At her apparent confusion, he added, "You see, all bodies in universe are constantly drifting apart, and if you don't want to drift apart, you need something else with gravity to cling to. It's not exactly true, astrophysics wise, but I think I'm inclined to agree to the sentiment."

He was drowning. He was thinking of the forty days of rain engulfing everything around him in the terrible, unforgiving blue. Again.

He was drowning in the lies that they told him, the things they didn't say.

The drain with the incredible thirst. It consumed her, telling her that she, too, had been drowning all along, but in her own lies.

And she longed for it to stop.

She wanted silence.

"Bye Emma," he said. Like a second thought, he came back and stood in front of her, kissed her on the cheek.

She almost choked at the finality of the gesture, but she couldn't say a word. The words.

Jesse, we need you.

The words died on her lips.

After Jesse left and before the men with the special suits and the blazing guns found their Sanctuary, she realized that they had been all true, that she could've said the words. She could have, but didn't. Because, you see, with words came responsibilities.

Just thoughts were meaningless. With words came responsibilities.

After Jesse left and before the men with the special suits and the blazing guns found their Sanctuary, she realized they were all drowning.

Now the sirens have a still more fatal weapon
than their song, namely their silence...
Someone might possibly have escaped from their singing;
but from their silence, certainly never.
-Franz Kafka, the Parables.

"They're here," Emma tells Brennan, even before the sound of the footsteps outside the safe house begins to be heard. "They know we're in here."

How they know this is the question that they both want answers for, but it's likely that they won't get any.

Brennan stays still for a second, his jaw still stiff and hand still bleeding, before he springs into action. He supports Adam's limp body up. He begins, "Emma, we-"

She cuts him off, "There are too many. It's not gonna work."

"I didn't tell you anything yet," Brennan says, too puzzled to be angry.

"You didn't have to."


Sometimes she thinks she can only reflect the emotions of others, never hers. She can lose herself in other emotions and never recover.

Is that what she is? A mere reflection, an automatic response to others' emotions? Never hers?

"Brennan, why are you here?"

He blinks. "What?"

"Why are you in the team? Why are you a part of Mutant X?"

"Emma, this is hardly the time--"

"Then when is?"

He looks at her and her expression, and his dismayed look softens. "Because this is the one thing I've done in my life that might mean something."

She nods, her eyes still on the door. She knows exactly what he feels, what he thinks, from his words. "Are you in love with Shalimar?"

At this particular question, Brennan takes a longer time to answer, "Maybe."

The word 'maybe' circles back to her a few times. That is an honest enough answer, she thinks, for Brennan.

"Emma," he calls out, hesitantly, her name a question.

"I'm glad we had this talk," she tells him, truthfully.

She might have been afraid of the power she has, hiding behind the silence that the words have left. But now she knows what she wants, what she has to do, and hiding isn't going to cut it. She needs words.

"I'm going to blow their brains out. Fry them all. I'll have to knock you out first, though, since I think you'd want yours intact. Think Adam would be okay, already in a coma and all."

She wants them all back. If what it takes is to blow out the brains of some bad soldiers with her power, then so be it. She won't lose them. She won't.

After the silence, after the lies, there is only the loneliness. This is a profound loneliness that empties the soul of her being, and she wants them all back, the whirlwind of emotions. She wants Adam back, Jesse and Shalimar. Brennan, who is here with her but isn't, not really.

Truly, she is afraid. Afraid that she might not succeed. Afraid she might not come back from the aftermath. Afraid she can't have them all back. Her friends.

And she is glad, because this is the real fear she feels. Her fear.

All hers. Hers alone.

END Part I
Next up, Part II: Creation Myth (Jesse).
(Disjuncture in the structure of this story is intentional, and that's why there are four more parts to go. Whew, four more. Aspirin needed.)