Addiction

Disclaimer; okay, so this was originally gonna be a *short* story, but, well, uh, this is part 1. I think that explains it all. It is no longer short. Lol. But yus, enjoy. And let me know wotcha think, I like reviews, flames, criticisms, etc etc. or hell, just say hi! Let me know there are peeps out there! N e way, toodle pip! (wow that phrase is tacky! Roflmao!)

Part 1;

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Standing up and stretching, Emma yawned.

"Well guys, I think it's time I headed to bed." Waving as she walked away from the lounge area where they'd all been talking and dozing, she tried to maintain a normal pace as she went towards her room.

Passing the laboratory, she peered around the door. "Night Adam. Sleep well." Startled he looked up from his research.

"Wha? Oh, night Emma. You too."

Reaching her room, she stepped inside, closing then carefully locking the door behind her.

She could feel her heart pounding, blood rushing as she quickly moved over to her bed. Sitting down, she opened the drawer of her bedside cabinet, reaching into the back until she found what she was looking for.

Fumbling, clumsy in her desperation, she finally got the locked tin open and pulled out the small vial from inside. Taking the needle that was next to it, she carefully filled it, gently pulling back on the syringe until the entire contents of the vial were in it. She then turned the needle, sliding it deftly into the vein in the crook of her elbow. Gradually she pushed the syringe down, watching, fascinated as always as the liquid disappeared into her arm; imagined it travelling up her arm and around her entire body via her blood stream.

Gently removing the needle from her arm, so as to leave as small a mark as possible, she put the sheath back onto the needle, rubbing the tiny hole it had left behind. Throwing everything back into the container, she threw it back in the drawer and slammed it shut, leaning back into the bed as the effects began to occur.

Breathing deeply, she felt the tension leaving her body, the worries of recent events vanishing. She'd been so busy helping her friends deal with their fears and problems that she hadn't dealt with hers. And she had no wish to. This had always been the way she'd handled her problems; ever since she'd discovered her telempathic abilities. Usually she could handle the constant barrage of emotions she was confronted with, she could tune them out. But in events of high stress or pressure, the burden became too much for her to bear. Just like recent events.

She used to hate her reliance on the drugs. At first she'd lied to herself; telling herself that she was in control, she didn't *need* the drugs, she just *chose* to use them. Now she'd accepted the fact that she was an addict. Even accepting that, she still tried to occasionally deceive herself; saying that she only took them when she couldn't handle all the emotions thrown at her from the people around her. But even that wasn't true anymore – now she took them whenever she had problems of her own that she didn't want to face.

Nobody knew. Not even Shalimar, the person who she was closest to in the world, or Adam, who knew some of the darkest secrets of her past, knew about her drug problems. Sometimes she'd thought of telling him, but then she'd think, how? Just waltz into his lab and say 'Hey Adam, what you working on? And oh, by the way, I'm a drug addict and I need help?' No, she couldn't do that to him, to them. They had enough problems of their own without adding hers to it.

As the drugs took their full effect, she slid down on the bed; her mind closing in on itself, shutting out the background hum of emotions from those around her. In the silence of her own mind, finally alone, she closed her eyes; falling into a dreamless sleep, a dark oblivion.

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Waking late the following day, Emma groaned as she opened her eyes, closing them immediately to block out the harsh light flooding her room. Rubbing her hand across her forehead, she slowly opened her eyes again, gingerly sitting up. Sighing, she knew what was going to come next.

Crawling out of her bed, she staggered to her bathroom, arriving just in time to be severely sick in the toilet. She threw up the entire content of her stomach, then continued to retch violently for a minute or so, pulling her stomach and back muscles in the process. Collapsing back against the toilet, she shut her eyes, breathing heavily, waiting for the nausea to pass.

When she felt able to move again, she climbed to her feet, using the sink to pull herself to a standing position. Reaching for her toothbrush, she vigorously brushed her teeth, causing her to retch a few more times. This done, she stripped off the clothes that she still wore from the previous say, and clambered into the shower, moving stiffly.

Leaning against the wall, she relaxed as the steaming hot water pounded against her bare flesh, soothing her sore muscles. Letting her head fall forwards, she soaked her hair through. Standing there, she began to tremble, silent tears running down her face, lost amongst the trickles of water from the shower. Shaking uncontrollably, she slipped down the wall, sitting with her head on her knees on the floor of the shower, the water continuing to pound mercilessly against her.

Shaking herself out of her despair, she stood and quickly washed herself of. Stepping out of the shower, she swiftly towelled off her body and hair, then grabbed a pair of jeans and a top.

Dressed, she examined herself in the mirror. There wasn't anything she could do to conceal her bloodshot eyes, but she applied some makeup to cover her pale complexion. Deciding she was as presentable as she was going to get, she walked out of her room and down to the main living area of the complex.

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Walking through, she found Brennen and Jesse sitting down to an early lunch.

"Hey Emma! Alarm broke huh?" Brennen grinned. "We saved you some lunch – it's in the kitchen."

Forcing herself to smile, Emma nodded thanks and walked into the kitchen. Pouring herself a glass of milk, she slowly sipped it, hoping it would stay in her stomach.

Strolling into the kitchen behind Emma, Shalimar patted her on the back as she walked past to the fridge. Emma, surprised at her sudden arrival, began to choke on the milk she had been drinking.

"Hey darling, did you have a good sleep? You missed a briefing – we tried to wake you but figured you needed the sleep" Taking her meal from the fridge, she turned back to her friend.

"Hey, you alright?" Concern replaced the casual tone as she took in Emmas' appearance; leaning on the counter with her eyes closed, breathing heavily, face pale beneath her make-up. "Here, come on, sit down." Guiding her to a seat, Shalimar crouched down in front of her, resting one hand on top of her thigh, the other holding her hand.

"It's alright Shalimar, I'm fine."

"No, you're not. Have you eaten today?"

The thought of food made Emma pale even more, her stomach protesting at even the idea of eating. Shaking her head slightly, so as not to encourage the dizziness she was already feeling, she looked away; unable to look her friend in the eye and lie to her.

"No, I'm not hungry. I'm fine Shalimar, honest, I just didn't sleep very well is all." Glancing up, she hoped her friend had bought the lie. Shalimar didn't look too convinced, but stood up, maintaining the grip on her hand.

"Okay then, but I want you to eat something later, alright? And if you feel any worse then go see Adam."

Emma nodded in agreement. Satisfied, Shalimar gave her hand a comforting squeeze before picking up her lunch and going to join Jesse and Brennen.

Sighing in relief, Emma slumped back in her chair. She hated lying to her friends, but the fear of what would happen if they found out was too great to combat. Her greatest fear was that Adam would decide she was too much of a danger, an unreliability to the team, and would make her leave. She didn't know what she would do if that happened; she'd have nowhere to go; she'd be alone, without the only people she had that she considered family.

Feeling the fear and panic once more beginning to rise within her, she walked rapidly back to her room, avoiding the areas where she knew her friends were. Softly closing the door behind her, she once again grabbed the small tin box from her drawer. Repeating the same steps as she had last night, she emptied another vial into her arm. Closing the box, she pushed it into the drawer and lay back on the bed, dragging the covers up and over her head.

Encased in the darkness and oppressive silence of her bed, she succumbed to the darkness of her mind.

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Strolling into the living area where Shalimar, Brennen., and Jesse were watching television, Adam looked up from his notepad.

"Hey guys, have any of you seen Emma around? She was supposed to meet me quarter of an hour ago, to help me with some research. I tried hr com-link, but I didn't get any reply."

Brennen turned to him. "I saw her a few hours ago- she'd gotten up late. You don't think she's just forgotten do you?"

Shalimar turned to him, worry on her face. "Emma forget a research meeting? Not happening." She looked back at Adam. "I saw her earlier as well – she wasn't feeling very well though. She might have gone back to bed, to sleep it off." Standing, she walked up to their sleeping quarters. "I'll go check, see if she's in her room."

Knocking softly on the door, Shalimar opened it a crack.

"Emma, you in here? You okay?" Stepping into the darkened room, her senses heightened, she padded across the bedroom to the bed. Her feral vision enabled her to see clearly in the darkness, and so she could see a form huddled, unmoving, on the bed.

As she approached, she felt uneasy. Something wasn't right – she could smell a strange odour in the air near the bed. Pausing, she listened carefully for any unusual sound. All she could hear was her breathing and that of Emmas'. Focusing on that, she thought it sounded unusually slow, even for someone in deep sleep.

Turning on the bedside lamp, its' soft glow illuminating the room, she could see that Emma was completely covered by her quilt. Reaching out, she pulled the covers down slightly. Gently shaking Emmas' shoulder, she called out softly to her.

"Emma…. Emma wake up, it's me, Shalimar." Getting no response, she shook her harder, more forcefully.

Stepping away from her prone form, she called into her ring. "Adam! Get up here now! Emmas' not answering me, you need to get here quick!"

Responding to the urgency and fear in Shalimars' voice, Adam sprinted to their location, closely followed by Jesse and Brennen. Entering Emmas' bedroom, Shalimar stood aside to give him access to Emma.

Kneeling in beside the bed, Adam reached over and checked Emmas' pulse on her neck. Lifting up one of her eyelids, he stared into her unresponsive eye.

"Shit" he cursed softly to himself. "Brennen, Jesse, carry her down to the medical lab. I'll run ahead and get it ready for her."

Shalimar grabbed his arm as he walked past. "Adam, what's wrong with her?" He shook his head.

"I don't know yet. I want to get her down to medical and stabilise her, then we can set about finding what caused this condition." Continuing past her, he hurried to the lab to prepare it for Emmas' arrival. Picking Emma up, carefully holding her in his arms, Brennen swiftly followed.

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Sitting down on the bed, Shalimar looked up at Jesse, a bewildered expression on her face. Sitting next to her, Jesse wrapped an arm around her shoulder, pulling her close.

"It's okay Shal, she's with Adam now. She's gonna be fine. Whatever's wrong, Adam will find a way to fix it." Standing up, he left the room to follow the others. Sighing, Shalimar stood and turned to follow. Moving forwards, she knocked into the corner of the open drawer unit by the bed.

"Damn it!" she cursed, turning to kick the drawer shut. Before she could do so though, a glint of metal caught her eye. Opening the drawer further, she picked up the small tin box, turning it over in her hand. As she turned it, the lid opened and a small glass object fell out. Crouching down, she picked it up, putting it under the light to examine it closer. She gasped aloud when she realised what she was holding. Shaking slightly, she looked back at the tin, opening the lid wall the way. Sure enough, there were more of the glass vials in there, a few full, but mostly empty. A few needles lay open beside the vials, residue visible within some of them.

She sat back on the bed, stunned. Surely it's for medical purposes? Adam will know, he's sure to have prescribed them to her. Standing, she picked up the tin, walking towards the door to ask Adam. But what if it isn't medication? She paused, the voices within her warring as she debated over what to do. Just then, Jesses' voice came over her com-link.

"Shalimar?"

"Here Jesse."

"Adam wanted you to know that Emmas' fine. She's not awake yet, but Adam says she's just sleeping. He doesn't yet know what was wrong with her, but he says it's okay for her to have visitors – if you're quiet." Shalimar smiled – Adam knew her too well; she always stayed in the lab with any of them if they were injured, at least until she knew for herself that they were fine.

"Thanks Jesse. Tell Adam I'm just gonna pick up a few things, then I'll head down." Walking out of Emmas' room, still carrying the small box, she walked up the corridor to her own room.

"Okay Shal, he says he'll have your usual chair ready." Shalimar could hear the laughter in his voice as he cut the link. Yep, Adam definitely does know me too well she thought, smiling with relief at the news that Emma was safe. Entering her room, she stared at the tin box in her hand. Deciding to keep it to herself for now, she hid it in her room, resolving to question Emma about it later. That should be fun she thought sarcastically, as she grabbed a book and went down to the lab.

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Opening the door, she walked over to Emmas' bedside, sitting down on the chair beside it. Adam walked up behind her, laying a hand on her shoulder.

"Hey Shalimar. I don't quite know what was wrong with her, but she's sleeping now. She should wake up sometime this evening, so you may be in for a long wait." He patted her on the shoulder before walking away. "Call us if she wakes up, or if you want a break." Even though he knew Shalimar wouldn't leave until Emma was awake, he still offered. Shalimar smiled back at him, then settled back to read her book.

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Slowly waking, Emma kept her eyes shut as she tried to figure out where she was. She knew she wasn't in her room, that much was certain. Opening her eyes slightly, she winced at the bright lights shining down from the ceiling, identifying it as the medical laboratory in Sanctuary. Feeling the customary nausea returning, she staggered to her feet and ran out of the room into the adjoining bathroom; not even noticing Shalimar laid out reading on the other medical bed beside her.

Leaping to her feet, Shalimar followed her, finding her retching into the toilet. Crouching down beside her, she rubbed her back, speaking soothingly to her until she'd finished. Collapsing back against Shalimars' steady grasp, she sobbed into her shoulder. Holding her tightly, Shalimar embraced her shaking form, waiting for her to calm. Gradually her sobs subsided, her hold on Shalimar weakening. Pulling her head back to look down at her, Shalimar stroked the hair back from her face.

"Come on, let's get you back to bed." Helping her walk back to the laboratory, she steadied her as she lay back on the bed. Calling Adam, Shalimar sat beside her, holding her hand as they waited in silence for Adam to arrive. Emma was confused, as far as she knew she hadn't done anything to annoy Shalimar, but she could sense that the feral was extremely pissed off with her. Her thoughts were interrupted as Adam walked into the lab.

"Hey Emma" he spoke softly, looking her over to make sure she was alright. "You gave us quite a scare there. How you feeling?"

"Yeah, I feel okay. Bit of a headache is all."

"Bullshit." Shalimar spoke up vehemently. "I don't call chucking up your guts okay."

Yup Emma thought She's definitely pissed off with me A thought suddenly flashed across her mind. Oh crap. She hasn't found it, has she? That would be a reasonable answer to why Shalimar wouldn't look her in the eye. Cautiously scanning her mind, she stopped as Shalimar gave her a filthy look. Uh oh

"Emma?" Tuning back into the real world, she realised she hadn't heard what Adam had been saying.

"Oh, sorry Adam, I didn't hear you."

"I was asking if it was true?"

She nodded. "Yes, I was a little sick, but I feel alright now. I just want to go back to my room and sleep, please?"

Adam looked doubtful for a moment, but agreed. "On the condition that as soon as you wake up you come back down here for a check-up. And then eat something." Emma nodded, sliding off of the bed. "And make sure you drink plenty." He called out as she left the room.

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Hurrying up to her room, Emma closed the door behind her before pulling open her drawer. Rifling through it, she stopped as she heard the door open behind her. Turning, she found Shalimar leaning against the wall.

"Wouldn't be looking for this would you?" She asked, pulling out a small tin box from behind her back. Horrified that she had been found out, Emma tried to cover herself.

"It's for medical purposes Shal. Adam gave it to me when I joined, to help…." Shalimar angrily cut her off.

"Don't lie to me Emma! I *know* what this is. I didn't believe it myself at first, I tried to convince myself that it *was* for medical purposes." She began pacing the room as Emma sat down on the bed, head down. "So I checked on the database, to reassure myself. But there were no records of any prescriptions given to you. That's when I decided to run tests of my own."

Emmas' head shot up, fear in her eyes. "You didn't tell Adam did you? Please, Shal, tell me you didn't tell Adam…."

Her tone softening, Shalimar sat down beside her. "No, against my better judgement, I didn't tell Adam. I thought id give you a chance to explain for yourself first." A hint of despair crept into her voice. "Emma, do you know what this could have done to you? This could have killed you! What could possibly be worth taking that risk for?"

Looking down at her hands, Emma stayed silent. Shalimar stood, then knelt down in front of her, taking her hands in her own.

"Emma, please, just talk to me. You can tell me anything, you know that. Why were you doing this?" Looking away, Emma still didn't answer. "Emma! Just tell me why, please!"

Finally looking at her, tears streaming down her face, she answered her. "You can *never* understand what it's like Shalimar! You don't know how it feels…." She stopped, looking away again.

Leaning forwards, Shalimar tenderly put her hand on the side of Emmas' face, turning her to face her. "Then *make* me understand, Emma" she whispered. "Show me – I know you can."

Looking up into Shalimars' eyes, she saw the concern, fear, love reflected there. Bracing herself, she opened her mind to the feral, sending her the images, sensations, feelings that she felt constantly around her. Gasping, Shalimar fell back onto the floor, shocked by the intensity of emotion that Emma was directing at her. Stopping the flow, once again closing her mind, Emma murmured to her.

"That's why." Her voice shook. "All day, every day that's all I hear, feel. Sometimes I can't even tell which emotions are mine and which belong to complete strangers, people I've never met, never *will*meet." Staring at the floor, she couldn't look at Shalimar, afraid of what she might see in her eyes. She heard the feral leave the room, calling for Adam via her com-link.

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Closing her eyes, she knew this was it. This was the day she'd been dreading ever since she first joined. Shalimar was going to tell Adam, and then she'd be expelled from the group.

Standing, she grabbed her bag and threw in the bare essentials. Turning to leave the room, she caught sight of a group photo they'd taken one day, after they'd celebrated her and Brennen joining Mutant X. Picking it up, she stared at it before throwing it in the bag with her other possessions and hurrying from the room.

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Walking up the stairs to meet with Shalimar, Adam and her walked back to Emmas' room, talking as they went.

"So she's been taking drugs to deal with all of these 'background' emotions?" He sighed. "Why didn't she just come to me? I could have helped her block them out."

"I don't know Adam, but I guess the important thing is that we know now, so we can help her, right?"

"It's not that simple Shalimar. Sure we can help her deal with blocking the emotions she's receiving from other people, but she may be addicted to this drug by now. Getting her off it will depend on how long she's been taking it for." Hesitating outside her bedroom door, he let Shalimar go in first.

"Shit!" she exclaimed. Rushing in to see what was wrong, he found Shalimar standing in an empty room. She turned to face him, shoulders slumped. "She's gone."

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