He looks so surprised. I suppose he should; after all, for most of his life he has believed that nothing could touch him while he is massed. Pain and surprise make him look much younger than he is as his teammate gently lowers him to the pavement. He doesn't understand what happened obviously, cannot figure out why he suddenly feels so weak that he can't stand on his own.

I smile, it was too easy. They are so predictable. Brennan never walks away from a challenge even if it's from a half dozen intoxicated bikers. I knew he would encourage the fight just as I knew Jesse would be drawn into it. Shalimar's entrance was a little off, I really expected her to get it in motion a little sooner but I suppose something in the bar kept her from leaving with the boys.

Still, she reacted as I knew she would, calling a warning to the other two and moving Jesse into the line of fire where I wanted him to be all along. As usual, Jesse stepped in front of the projectile, massing and thinking that he could keep his friend safe by being a human shield. It's going just the way I planned it. The bullet hit him square in the chest and the genetic scrambler worked perfectly opening him up like a clam. There isn't any blood, not even a hole in that perfectly white shirt he's wearing, no outward show of the damage that's been done. The bikers scatter, they've done what I paid them for and the witnesses only see a young man who has partied too hard and it has caught up with him. Were it not for the looks of horror and concern on the faces of his friends I might myself believe there was nothing terribly wrong as Jesse appears to fall asleep in Brennan's arms.

I lost him years ago but I know more about him than anyone – not even Mason and Adam have the intel on Jesse that I have. His closest ally and his most dire enemy and they know less about him than someone that Jesse has more than likely nearly forgotten. Not that I left him with much in the way of memories of the time he spent with me.

I know what is happening to him right now, I know it as well as if I were standing right beside him. The projectile has lodged just under his ribs, between the pleural cavity and the intercostal muscles. A difficult place to reach, even for a skilled surgeon. By now, they have discovered that they cannot remove it because it has tapped into Jesse's powers and can resist any attempts to take it out. I will of course inform them of the consequences of tampering with it. The resulting explosion would not only kill Jesse but take out a large portion of whatever structure he is in too. Death and destruction, it's almost a shame I won't get to see it.

Of course, there are side effects that if I'd had more time, I could have eliminated but unfortunately for Jesse the scrambler will cause his vital organs to mass and it will eventually kill him in an excruciatingly painful manner.

Oh, I wish he were still in my custody! So many experiments left untried, so much I could have learned from him.

It will kill him eventually and that's too bad. Such a waste of information. I wonder how much Jesse remembers of our sessions. I am certain he would never voluntarily submit himself to me again but after… no. No, the possibility of his surviving this is almost nil. Too bad, I would have liked to have learned more from him.

Oh the days when he was mine to experiment on. He was just a child when Eckhart got him, not far into his teens by the time I got him. He thought he was so tough, so strong, trying to keep from screaming but I broke him. It was I, not Mason who wrung the tears from him until all that was left was blood and rasping whimpers.

I feel like a proud father when I see him. No matter what other people say, I know that I had a hand in making him the man he is today. Steel is tempered by fire, made stronger than the base mineral taken from the earth. He has lived up to most of my expectations, though I am disappointed our time together could not have been extended. I have no illusions that he would feel the same, while he had little strength to aid in his liberation from my lab, he did seem more than willing to leave with Adam.

I have kept an eye on him as much as possible in the last six years. They aren't as low profile as they like to think they are. Just look for trouble and you will usually find Mulray. Where there is Mulray there is often the feral and with her … is him.

She is part of the problem and now she will be part of the solution.

I created the scrambler, set its protocols to synchronize with Jesse's DNA. I know in detail exactly what it will do, what it is capable of. He will mass, thinking to protect his helpless friends. The bullet will take him down no matter what he does. If he masses, it will phase, if he phases it will mass, there is nothing he can do to avoid it. I know Mulray will let Jesse take the hit, he always does. Jesse is their human shield and you can see how they appreciate that.

I am not certain what it would do to Mulray if by some misfortune it were to impact with him instead of the intended target. Make rather ugly hole no doubt, but beyond that, nothing more. When Jesse is massed, the components will sense it and will phase, passing harmlessly through his clothing and flesh. It will create some bruising of course; there is no avoiding that and it will no doubt be quite painful, more so than a regular bullet. The nerves will be intact, tissue will swell with no place to go, and this will put pressure on the surrounding tissues the pain will be excruciating. Jesse will go into shock, his blood pressure will drop and he may even lose consciousness. When he begins to shift, it will affect his breathing but his heart is young and strong, he will last long enough to get me what I want. It is possible that it could cause some fibrillation but no doubt that whatever doctor they manage to get him to will be able to correct that.

My night hasn't gone that well, I suppose that's why I'm taking such delight in needling Bren about that last girl he tried to charm the pants off of. Needless to say he failed – crashed and burned, she slapped him so hard I think people outside heard it. Still it's been fun, danced, talked, drank. It's getting late, or early I guess it depends on how you look at it. Is 2 a.m. early or late? It thought Shal and Lexa were right behind us; Brennan reminds me that some goon was hitting on Shal; she's probably having to teach him some manners before leaving.

Speaking of goons, the bikers I had barely spared a glance for seem to be converging on us. Oh, they wanna fight huh? Well lucky them, I am in the mood for some exercise. I let them have their free punch and then I'm on them. It's like old times, Brennan and I taking them down, laughing like maniacs. I hear Shalimar shout a warning and I pull Brennan behind me, standing as tall as I can, trying to cover him as much as I can as I mass. Guns are stupid, people who use them are stupid and mean. The gun makes a strange sound and there is no pain as the bullet hits me but it hits so hard that it knocks the breath out of me and if it weren't for Brennan catching me I'd hit the ground. I can't breathe and now I feel pain like nothing I've ever known. I can hear them talking, Brennan and Shalimar begging me to stay awake and pleading with me to say something but I can't draw in enough of a breath to talk. I'm so cold. The ride back to Sanctuary is a blur and I barely feel it when Shalimar sets up an IV in the crook of my left arm. I silently thank God that she remains with me, staring into my eyes and talking softly. I don't want to die alone. I can't breathe; my chest feels like I'm being crushed. The pain is unbearable; I'm ashamed of my tears and bite back the screams.

She's cutting my shirt and Shal and Brennan are pinning my hands down, this time I can't stop the scream.

There's someone here, a woman I've never seen before, and she reminds me of Emma. The pain eases some and I feel like I'm trapped in a soft heavy blanket, it's a little easier to breathe and I stop fighting it. I ask Brennan what happened, I can't remember anything except being knocked down.

He stares at me, worry plain on his face. I'm ashamed to cry in front of him as I tell him it hurts. I can't focus on anything else but trying to drag in another breath past what feels like lungs full of lead. Brennan and the doctor move out of my line of sight, I can't move to see what they are doing, things must be bad if they don't stay with me. They come back in a few minutes and she tells me that she is going to do surgery to remove the bullet; the catch is that she can't give me any anesthetic. Do it, I scream past gritted teeth. I feel the laser scalpel make the incision and Lexa screaming at them to stop. The pain turns everything black and I fight to breathe again.

I'm dying. I know I'm going to hell, there's a swirling fire beneath me and hot winds tearing my hands from the wall I press against. Suddenly Brennan is below me, calling out to me to hang on, to climb up. If he is with me then maybe I'm not going to die. His voice distracts me from the pain, makes it easier to breathe and I follow him as he encourages me to climb to ward the cool light above. I'm so tired. I just want to let go, let it all be over so I can rest but Brennan won't leave me alone. Just when I think I can stop, he's back again, hounding me to try harder, to push myself higher and I do. He gone again and I feel an itching in my chest, aggravating the pressure that makes it harder and harder to breathe. Suddenly the pressure increases and I can't draw any air at all. Fire touches every part of me and the pain blinds me I want to scream but I can't. I'm falling and there is no one to catch me.

Brennan catches me, apologizing, saying he screwed up. I'm too exhausted to say much to him, just try to give him some absolution. I don't know what he's done, but whatever it was, I don't blame him for anything.

Brennan tells me that the girls have talked to whoever it was that shot me. The guy says he knows everything about my mutancy and it makes me sick to realize it could only be one person. Dr. Harrison I tell Brennan, hoping that he can't see the memories I have of the time I spent at Genomex.