Disclaimer: Mutant X and its associated characters, locales, etc. are the property of Tribune Entertainment et al. and no copyright or other legal infringement is intended by the writing of this story. However, this story and all non-canonical characters are my own. Please let me know if you wish to use them. The lyrics which begin certain chapters belong to Michael W. Smith's song "On the Other Side" from the album I 2 Eye and are used here without permission but in hopes that no one will sue me.
Summary: A short piece involving faith and Brennan's struggle in breaking away from his old life into the new. This story sends a Christian message – if you're inclined to be put off by that, best you know it now. Please don't flame – if you don't like it, for heaven's sake, don't read it.
Relationships: none to speak of. It focuses on the three guys; the girls won't show up very much.
Timeline/Spoilers: Set approximately three or four months after Brennan and Emma join up (first season). No effort has been or will be made to conform to the canonical timeline of the series beyond that we're still in the good ol' Genomex days. There should be no spoilers beyond ep 102 (I Scream the Body Electric), but it will refer back a lot to the events of the first two episodes.
Crisis of Faith
Jesse was out of bed on Sunday morning almost before his alarm clock had a chance to go off; he had declined to go out for a drink with the others the night before and he knew they wouldn't be up for quite some time yet. Quickly he jumped into his clothes, eager to use the opportunity to get some solo time in the dojo to work on the holographic novel he had been writing in secret for weeks now. He checked the clock: 7:15. Perfect. Surely no one else would be up for at least an hour.
When Jesse reached the corridor, however, he instinctively quieted and moved back slightly into his room. Brennan, contrary to everything Jesse had learned in the past six months about the man's sleeping habits, was up with the sun and obviously on his way out. Jesse watched silently as the dark-haired man finished pulling his black t-shirt over his head as he walked down the hall, then followed him discreetly to the end of the concourse. Brennan reached the door to the garage, then stopped and looked around him furtively, causing Jesse to melt back into the wall to avoid being seen. Finally he shook his head, shrugged on his jacket, and left Sanctuary, taking for once one of their few less conspicuous rides – an old Ford that had obviously seen better days.
Jesse scratched his head in confusion. Where could Brennan be going on a Sunday morning? He obviously didn't want to be observed – he'd made himself about as unremarkable as a 6'3, ridiculously good-looking man could be.
Mentally Jesse reviewed what he knew about his newest teammate: he was a reformed criminal, supposedly, raised on the street – whatever that really meant. Jesse was having a hard time adjusting to the man's presence, certainly, but he had been sure that they were becoming friends. But now, only a few months after leaving his criminal life behind, he was sneaking out of Sanctuary at the one time of the week he was most likely to be unobserved. Why?
Brennan remained kneeling long after the Mass concluded, his eyes tightly closed. He wasn't sure why he had started coming here. His mother had always insisted that he come to church with her every Sunday, but after she died and he entered the foster system, he had soon lost touch with that side of himself. When he was on his own on the streets, he avoided the church; the thought of it made him uncomfortable with the life he was leading, and reminded him too much of her. Now that he was beginning to try to find a new life for himself, he found himself drawn back here every Sunday, and he found that the words of the service impressed on him in the way they never had when he was a child, and could still repeat every response by heart, and singmost of thehymns without looking at the book.
Finally, he gave up on his unsuccessful attempt to pray – he didn't know what to say – and, automatically forming the sign of the cross, he opened his eyes and sat up on the pew, only to find Father Awa, the kind old Filipino priest of the small parish, sitting there on the pew in front of him, watching him.
"I didn't want to interrupt you, but you looked like you had a lot on your mind. Would you like to talk about it?" His accent and his age gave his voice a kind of easygoing warmth that made Brennan like him instantly – it was one of the reasons he had kept returning to this parish.
Brennan smiled and shook his head. "Thank you, Father, but I…I don't think I can right now," he answered, a little clumsily. He wasn't sure how to respond; he wasn't accustomed to being treated with open kindness.
Father Awa just smiled gently and nodded. "That's okay. I've seen you here the last few weeks; you're new to the parish, aren't you? I'm Father Awa." He reached out his hand, and Brennan hesitated, then took it.
"It's good to meet you, Brennan. How do you like our little church?" He asked, gesturing as if his hands' movement could take in the entirety of the little building with its little stained-glass windows and dark-stained pews, the mismatched flowers decorating the simple stone altar.
Brennan looked around and said, "I like it a lot. It feels…I don't know. Kind of homey."
Father Awa's gentle smile opened to a likeable grin. "You know, that's how I felt the first time I came here, too. There's something about this place that just feels…what is the word…real."
Brennan couldn't help smiling back. "Yeah, that's it."
"Do you have any family here in the city? You're welcome to bring them with you, you know."
Brennan shook his head ruefully. "Nah, I'm pretty much a loner. But thanks."
Father Awa stood up, and Brennan did the same. "Well, you know, we have lots of activities for young people to get involved, if you're interested. I will see you again next Sunday?" the little priest asked brightly.
Brennan nodded – what else could he do? "Yeah, sure."
Brennan sat cross-legged on the bed, trying to read, and failing miserably. He read the same paragraph again for the fourth time without really absorbing any of it, and then, sighing, finally had to give up.
Raising his eyes from the page, he looked around at the bedroom Adam had shown him to on his first day at Sanctuary. Despite the fact that he had been sleeping there almost four months, he had a hard time really feeling like it was his.
The extra-long double bed was the first bed he'd ever had on which his feet didn't have to dangle over the end, and the few changes of clothing he'd brought with him to Sanctuary filled barely a quarter of the spacious closet. His few personal possessions, mostly books and a few tattered photographs, utterly failed to fill the huge space. On the dresser, a little potted ivy plant, Shalimar's welcome gift, struggled to survive. Looking around at the sheer size of the room, Brennan mused, not for the first time, that his old apartment could easily have fit inside this one room.
Though Adam had indicated more than once that Brennan should feel free to make himself at home, that there were funds available for him to do some shopping if he wanted to, he had never done so; what was the point, when he knew it could never last?
Deep down, from the day he had first put the ring on his finger, he had been waiting for the inevitable, for the day when Adam wand the rest would finally realize their mistake, that Brennan couldn't be the hero they thought he was, no matter how hard he tried. That day they would come to him and say, "Brennan, this isn't working out…" and their voices, their eyes, would betray their disappointment. He was a fraud, and he new it.
Suddenly, he was startled by a knock on the door, followed immediately by Shalimar, bounding energetically into the room. Without waiting for an invitation, she came over and plopped down on the bed beside him. "Whatcha doing?" she asked brightly.
Brennan hurriedly closed the book and set it, cover-side down, on the bed on the opposite side of him from Shalimar. "Nothing, really," he said. "Just reading."
"Well, what are you reading?" she asked, trying to peek over him at the book, but he blocked her view as subtly as he could.
"Oh…just some genetics stuff Adam gave me," Brennan instinctively lied, then instantly regretted it. Why had he not just told her the truth? For the same reason, he answered himself, that he had chosen the earliest Sunday Mass he could find, and never told the others where he was going. And Adam had given him reading to do. "He said I'd need to master at least an elementary level of genetics knowledge to keep up with what the team was doing."
Shalimar's face betrayed that she knew he wasn't telling her the whole truth, but she didn't press it. "Yeah," she said, "Emma got that too. And what Adam calls 'elementary' most people call 'senior year university'."
Brennan chuckled. "You got that right."
"You know, Jesse's helping Emma with hers right now in the lounge. Why don't you come out and join them? I'll help you too."
Brennan shook his head. "Thanks, but…I don't know if…."
She gave him a mock-hurt look. "Hey, I'm good at this stuff," she protested. Adam's been drilling it into me since I was fifteen." She grabbed his hand wand jumped off the bed, dragging him with her. "Come on, don't be such a hermit."
Brennan couldn't help but laugh and allow her to pull him along. "Okay, okay." With his free hand he quickly scooped up the genetics book from the nightstand. If Shalimar noticed that it wasn't the same book, she didn't say anything.
"Hey," Jesse greeted them when they reached the lounge. His eyes flicked down to the book in Brennan's hand, and took on a mischievous twinkle. "So, you're getting ready for the big exam too, hey?"
"Exam?" Emma and Brennan repeated as one.
"Oh, yeah," Jesse said casually. "Didn't Adam tell you? You can't be a full member of Mutant X unless you pass the written test."
"Jesse!" Shalimar rebuked him, laughing at Emma and Brennan's discomfiture. "Stop that. Don't believe a word he says, guys. There's no test."
Brennan forced a little laugh, but then a slight movement drew his eyes up to the upper level, where he could see Adam standing, watching the group.
Oh, yes, there is a test, Brennan thought. It's just not a written test. And it's one I'll never pass. Then, returning his attention to the situation at hand, he realized that Shalimar, now ensconced in an armchair with his book open on her lap, had asked him a question.
"What pairs with Adenine?" she asked again.
Brennan sighed and sat down across from her. "Cytosine?" he guessed.
When he looked up again to the upper level of Sanctuary, Adam was gone.
End of Chapter 1.