Author's Note: I know I'm sort of taking a bit of a different direction than I was at the end of the last chapter, but it's been over half a year since I wrote anything on this, and I have to get them out of the mess I've put them in somehow!
Four Mutants and a Baby - Chapter 8
"You know, for such a little person, you sure do a lot of business," Brennan remarked, gingerly picking up the loaded diaper and dropping it in the pail. Siobhan cooed and grabbed her toes, then pushed a hand into her mouth and began to suck noisily. "How in the world did you manage to get it up your back?"
"Not a bad job, for your first time," Shalimar said, patting Brennan on the back. "Wasn't so bad, was it?" Her voice was cloyingly condescending.
Brennan gave her an annoyed look. "Just don't expect me to make a habit of it. And I'm not the baby here, okay?"
"Really? I'd never have known. Though, come to think of it, you are rather tall for a five-month old. And hairy."
"Ha ha. Very funny."
They had not yet replaced Siobhan's diaper, and she looked steadily up at him, utterly without shame or modesty, and Brennan, looking down at her, felt a new emotion stirring within him as he looked at her, lying there in her nakedness. There was no element of sexuality there; just a sudden realization that Siobhan was more than just a baby; she was a little...a little woman. Someday she would be a beautiful green-eyed charmer andgrown men would look at her with desire...A sudden surge of fierce protectiveness welled up in Brennan, an empathy for her innocence and the life that lay ahead of her, full of happiness and pain. She would learn and she would love; she would struggle to control the strange abilities of her genetic legacy. He felt a kinship between them. In that moment, Brennan's heart opened to a moment of pure, unselfish love.
The spell was broken. Shalimar was looking at him expectantly, holding out the new diaper with a bemused expression. "Some of us do want to get to bed sometime tonight."
The next evening, the bleary-eyed team met once again for a strategy meeting, and there were no smiling faces among them. Siobhan had been fussy all night and all day, and Emma had been the only one who had been able to calm her, projecting feelings of safety and comfort to the tiny Elemental.
Adam ran a hand through his disorderly mop of brown hair and sighed heavily. "Well, if ever there was a road that led nowhere, it's the road I've been following today. Whoever designed Siobhan's DNA was a master of their craft – I'll never be able to sort out who the various Elementals were whose genetic material was used to create her. Certainly not before tomorrow."
Jesse nodded in agreement. "Shalimar and I have been searching the databases almost nonstop, and we've come up with nothing. Fort Knox is an open-air market compared to these guys. There are no records of the project at Genomex, none on anything we could think of to search for. Everything stops the day Anne and Mike walked into Genomex."
Brennan scratched absently at his healing foot as he shifted positions in his chair. "So what do we do now? We can't wait to let them attack us; we can't give Siobhan to them; we can't trick them; we can't use their research against them; we can't attack them at the meet; we can't go to their lair and sneak in. What can we do?"
Adam sighed. "Actually, going after their lair while they're on their way to meet us would probably be the best route, if it were feasible. I would bet most of Sanctuary that they won't bring Anne to the meet. But we'll never be able to find it."
Emma, bags under her eyes from staying up most of the night, was chewing on a strand of her hair, something she would never do if she were not so exhausted. "Ummm...actually, that might not be totally true."
Four heads turned to her. Even Siobhan, awake but quiet on Shalimar's lap, turned questioning eyes towards her. "The reason Siobhan's been so unhappy these past few days is that she's picking up on her mother's fear."
"How is that possible? They're both Elementals," Brennan asked.
"I don't know how. All I know is that Anne and Siobhan have a bond. It's not as strong as the one Joshua Valentine shared with his mother, but it's definitely there."
"So what are you saying, Emma?" Adam asked. "Do you think you can use this link to find Anne, the way you did with Joshua?"
She rubbed her eyes, then let her shoulders sag again. "I don't know. Joshua's mother was a Psionic who had been linked to her son for over ten years. Siobhan's only a baby, and she's not a Psionic. I don't know if I'll be able to use their link."
"But you want to try," Jesse said. Emma nodded.
"Okay, Emma, I think you've given us a good chance here. But I don't want you trying anything like this until tomorrow. You need rest," Adam said. He looked at each team member in turn. "You all need rest. Go sleep. Whatever happens day after tomorrow, we need to be ready for it."
The next morning, after breakfast, Emma slipped quietly into the room where Siobhan slept fitfully, closed the door, and gathered her in her arms, trying to wake her as gently as possible. When the child's eyes opened, Emma gave her a bottle, burped her, then sat her on her lap, facing her, and took both of her little hands in her own.
"It's okay, Siobhan," she said quietly. "I'm going to see if I can find your mama." Focusing, Emma allowed her eyes to drift shut, and when she reopened them, they were blind and unseeing, as the mind behind them searched elsewhere.
The first thing Emma sensed was softness.
She was surrounded by softness. She was wrapped in a blanket, and she was warm and content. Someone was holding her, and she felt safe.
But something was wrong. The Someone who was holding her was Good, but she wasn't the One, the Loved One. Something was wrong, the Loved One was frightened, and she couldn't see her. Why didn't she answer? The self wanted the Loved One. The self kept looking at the Other Ones, waiting for the Loved One to come back, but she never did. She was far away...
Emma pounced on the half-formed thought, the feeling of distance Siobhan associated with her mother, and grasped the slippery thought, trying to follow it to its origin, hoping to find Siobhan's psychic link with her mother, but it slipped away; Siobhan was still too young to pay enough attention to it to hold it steady. Emma found the attempt to immerse herself in the baby's mind a novel experience. Siobhan still recognized only a few words, and didn't yet use them internally in her thought, and her preverbal thought processes consisted primarily of emotions, sensations, and above all, a ravenous curiosity about everything around her – Emma marveled at how quickly Siobhan was absorbing information and making sense of the world. Were all babies' minds like this?
The Self notices the New One, recognizes her as one of the Other Ones, but now inside, talking to her. Joy! The New One can hear the Self! Only the Loved One can her the Self...
Where is the Loved One? Asks the New One. Sadness! The Loved One is gone!
Help me to find the Loved One. Look for her, talk to her.
The Self is searching for the Loved One; finds her! Oh, the Loved One is sad again. She is always sad, and afraid, except when she is alone at night with the Self. The Self knows she makes the Loved One happy. She wants to make her happy now. The Loved One wants the Self too – The Self is here! Come, Loved One, the Self will make you happy, and The Loved One will return to the Self!
Emma felt a surge of triumph as at last she was able to help the child direct her infantile yearnings to a real psionic connection with her mother. It was only a split second, but it was enough. Emma would be able to find her again on her own now. She sent happy encouraging thoughts to Siobhan and put her back in the crib, soothing her back into a light sleep with gentle empathic touches.
Emma slipped back to her own room and slipped into a light meditative trance, focusing on the mental 'path' Siobhan had shown her, following it to Siobhan, trying to get some sense of location. She was far away, outside the city. She was frustrated, frightened, worried about her child, but unhurt. Emma tried to steer away from the emotive aspect, tried to get a feel for distance and direction, though she was so far away, it was difficult to get anything precise.
Finally she opened her eyes, rubbed her temples, and went to find Adam. It wasn't perfect, but it would have to do.
"No. I'm not staying behind. You need me, Adam."
Adam's eyes flashed as his voice grew harder. "I need you here."
Brennan crossed his arms across his chest belligerently. "To do what? Babysit? Mind the store?"
"If you must put it like that, yes. Someone has to stay behind, Brennan, and right now, I don't see anyone else with an injury bad enough to keep them from fighting."
"I can still fight, Adam. It's barely a scratch. And what about Jesse's ribs?"
"Jesse's ribs were just bruised. They'll hurt for awhile, but having to fight won't permanently injure him. As it might you – please, Brennan, let me be the Doctor here. That wound in your foot is a full-fledged bullet wound. If you were in the army, you'd be sent home for that wound. I'm not going to let you risk further injury. You're not going on this mission, if I have to sedate you. Is that clear?"
Brennan's voice was cold. "Crystal." And he turned his back and stalked away from his mentor, trying very hard not to limp.
End of Chapter 8. Next chapter will have more action, hope to finish this in Chapter 10.