This is a 'What if?' story in which Jessi is the first one to escape from Zzyzx instead of Kyle. I always liked the Nature vs. Nurture theme of the show so hopefully I can expand on those ideas here.

The names of the chapters will roughly correspond to the episode(s) of the show in which the same events of that chapter happen. I say 'roughly', because most likely some episodes will be combined into chapters, some episodes won't be relevant at all, and some chapters will be entirely new events that have no direct counterpart in the TV show. I will do my best to avoid having any completely copied scenes, since that would be redundant. On that note, I will not be redoing every single scene from the show. If a scene from the show did not directly involve Kyle or Jessi or result from their actions, you can probably assume that it would have gone down the same way.

Even though I'm listing Kyle as a main character here, he won't be showing up until later, just like Jessi in the TV show.

I do not own Kyle XY

My first memories were of waking up in the woods, as a bright light from above made me want to open my eyes. Although I did not understand what I was seeing, I was eager to figure out what the shapes and colors I saw meant.

The girl who had been lying down in the woods slowly sat up, her dark eyes moving back and forth with wonder as she tried to make sense of her surroundings. She was completely naked and every part of her, including her long dark hair, was soaked in a thick, pink liquid. At first, she looked up at the treetops, gradually tilting her head back and forth to get a sense of their size and shape. Then she looked at her own hand, carefully moving her fingers against each other to feel the texture of her own skin, the consistency of the slimy substance that covered her, and the roughness of the dirt that had stuck to her.

A rattling sound filled the air and the girl looked up from her hand as if she could sense danger. Her eyes darted around rapidly until they fixated on something that stood out. A large snake lay coiled near her, sniffing the air with its tongue and angrily shaking its tail.

Even though I didn't know exactly what my senses were telling me, something inside me told me this creature was my enemy and it intended to cause me harm. I felt some sort of tingling run through my body, as I first experienced the desire for self-preservation.

The snake struck with lightning speed, but the girl was faster. She caught its head in midair and pulled it close to get a better look. Her big eyes glared at it, as if she were warning it to stay away. As she let go, the snake turned around and quickly slithered away.

The girl stood upright and walked through the woods, still studying the strange world and listening closely to everything around her. Although her eyes were still filled with wonder, they shifted from side to side slightly more cautiously since the encounter with the snake. In the distance she could see tall structures, something that stood out in contrast to the green of the trees.

The forest had already made me feel threatened and I knew that I didn't belong there. I didn't like the tingling I had felt in response to danger and I desperately didn't want to feel it again. Perhaps I belonged in this other place I could see off in the distance. Perhaps there, I would never have to feel that tingling feeling again.

The girl had found her way out of the woods and into the city. There were all sorts of strange and unfamiliar shapes, lights, and sounds. The girl, still naked and covered in the pink fluid, walked through the streets gazing curiously at everything she saw.

As she walked into the middle of the road, cars honked their horns as they screeched to a stop to avoid hitting her. Parents walking by shielded their children's eyes in disgust and groups of young men began to gather as they ogled her and started to whistle and give catcalls. Finally, red and blue lights began to flash and sirens filled the air as the police arrived.

"Alright, Miss, what's your name?"

She didn't know how to respond to the officer and simply stared back at him in confusion. The man in the uniform approached her with a blanket.

"You're coming with us."

The policeman promptly covered her up with the blanket and turned her around to handcuff her. Although confused, the girl did not resist, as she was curious to see where she would be taken.

I arrived at a new place that was small and fenced in rather than open like the forest. Although the other people seemed to think I belonged here, I could tell that this was not a happy place.

After being given a shower and new clothes, the girl walked through the dining hall and got a tray of food. Noticing how the other inmates knew to how form small groups with one another, she felt a sense of loneliness and rejection as she realized that she did not know how to do the same. The girl found a table with no one else and sat down, still unsure as to what to do with the plate of food in front of her.

Her dark eyes glanced back and forth, studying the other people in the room and how they dealt with the strange objects they were given. Her gaze fixated on one boy with a tank top and buzz cut, who picked up the pieces on his tray, put them in mouth, and gradually moved his jaw back and forth before swallowing. Still watching him, the girl picked up a muffin and took a bite, slowly going through the same motions. The new sensation of taste and satisfaction was overwhelming at first, and she eagerly took one bite after the other.

"Hey man, that girl was staring at you."

The boy looked around. "What? Which one?"

The other boy pointed. "That one. The one that acts all weird."

"She's kind of hot though."

"Dude, go talk to her."

The teenager stood up and walked over to the girl's table. Not sure what he was about to do, her eyes followed him every step of the way as he came closer.

"Hey little lady, what's your name?"

The girl didn't respond, she just stared back at him.

"Come on baby, don't be shy." The boy put his hand on her shoulder. "I could show a girl like you a good time."

Just like it was with the snake in the woods, something told me that I was in danger. This creature was my enemy too.

The girl forcefully stood up and grabbed the boy's neck as she glared into his eyes. The boy, shocked and overpowered, gasped for air and grabbed at her hand, fruitlessly trying to free himself.

"That's enough!"

A middle-aged man wearing a button-down shirt ran into the room to break up the fight. Seeing him try to pull the struggling boy out of her grip, the girl finally let him go.

"What the hell, man?" The boy clutched his neck as he caught his breath. "That chick is psycho!"

"Leave her alone," the man told him. "She can't understand a word you say."

The boy shook his head and angrily walked away as the man turned back to the girl and gave her an understanding smile.

"Josh! Lori! I'm not going to call you again!"

Nicole was beginning to get frustrated with her kids and started walking up the stairs to see what was taking them so long. Suddenly, the phone started ringing. Nicole sighed and walked back down the stairs to see who was calling.


"Hi Nicole, it's Lou Daniels."

"It's nice to hear from you, Lou, but I'm sort of busy over here."

"You'll want to make time for this, trust me."

"What is it?"

"There's a girl here that I know you'll want to meet."

Nicole moved the phone to her other ear. "Why do you say that?"

"I think you should see for yourself."

"I can come in tomorrow."

"Can you make it today?"

Nicole sighed. "I'll be there as soon as I can."

The girl sat at a table with a box of crayons and a piece of paper. With one color she would tap the paper to make a seemingly random pattern of little dots before switching to a new color.

Nicole and Lou went over the girl's file at the other side of the room while she drew.

"Jane Doe?" Nicole read the entry for her name. "What's a pretty girl like that doing with a dead woman's name?"

"No one knows anything about her." Explained Lou. "She shows up in the city without anything on her or any clue about who she is. She hasn't said a single word."

"You don't even have a name for her?"

Lou thought for a moment. "She reminds me of this girl Jessi I dated in college. She was really pretty, just like her."

Nicole looked up at the girl across the room. "Jessi," she called out.

The girl put down her crayon and looked up. Her eyes were wide apart and something that resembled a smile slowly spread across her face.

Lou grinned at Nicole. "How about that? The girl doesn't know a single word, but she responds to the name 'Jessi'."

As the girl went back to her paper and crayons, Nicole walked over to her table, hoping to get a closer look. Although the dots seemed random at first, a picture slowly began to form.

This woman was trying to understand me and I wanted to help her. Maybe if I could tell her where I came from, she would be able to help me.

As the girl finished her drawing, she held it up so that Nicole could see. All the different colors had blended together to show a near-perfect image of the forest in which she had woken up. Nicole gasped in amazement as she looked at the detail of the picture. Happy to see this response, the girl smiled at Nicole, finally feeling accepted for the first time.

"Has she shown any violent tendencies since she arrived?" Nicole was going over a few more things with Lou as the girl looked out the window.

"There was a fight with one of the other inmates, but to be fair, I think she felt threatened."

"I can imagine. This must be a scary place for someone who doesn't understand the world. I'd like to spend to spend more time with her."

"Before you do, there's one more thing I think you should see."

Lou walked up to the girl and turned her around. He lifted her shirt enough to show Nicole that she had no belly button.

Nicole was confused. "Why doesn't she have a belly button?"

"You know as much as I do."

"Are you sure this is a good idea, Nicole?" Stephen and his wife stood in the kitchen later that day.

"The juvenile detention center isn't a good environment for her. She's like a child still exploring the world. I think she'd be much better off somewhere like here."

"Uh oh," said Josh with his eyebrows raised as he and Lori walked into the room. "What's it about this time?"

"Josh, what have I told you about eavesdropping?" Stephen scolded.

"Stephen, it's alright," Nicole calmly said. "We're going to have to tell them sometime."

"Tell us what?" asked Lori.

Nicole walked up to her kids, hoping they could keep an open mind. "I have a new patient. She's very special, but she doesn't have a good home at the moment. I was wondering if it would be alright with the family if she could stay here for a few days, at least until they find a better home for her."

"A new patient?" Josh seemed intrigued. "Is she hot?"

"Josh, grow up." Lori gave her brother a shove.

"I especially want to make sure that you're ok with this, Lori." Nicole looked Lori in the eye. "I have a special favor to ask of you."

Lori cringed. "What is it?"

"She's going to need a place to sleep. I'd like her to stay in your room."

"Mom! This is so unfair!"

"You're just mad that you won't get to hook up with Declan." Josh gave Lori a mocking look.

Lori's eyes widened. "Josh… shut up…" she said between her gritted teeth.

"Declan?" Stephen arched his eyebrows. "Who's Declan?"

"He's just a friend, Dad."

"Yeah." Josh rolled his eyes. "With privileges that is."

"Josh!" Lori snapped.

"Stop it, both of you," Nicole sternly said. "I was trying to talk to you about my patient and whether or not you'll be ok with her staying here."

"Whatever, Mom," said Lori. "It's not like I have a choice anyway."

Nicole smiled. "She's a very special girl. I'm sure you'll like her if you just give her a chance."

The next day, Nicole's car pulled onto the side of the road and Nicole got out to open the rear door.

"You can come with me, Jessi." Nicole extended her hand. "I'd like you to see my home."

Jessi carefully stepped out of the car, being sure to look around at the new surroundings. The suburban street with bushes and sidewalks was still all unfamiliar to her.

Jessi's gaze fixated on a green sedan parked on the other side of the street, her eyes widening as though she could sense danger. The car promptly pulled out onto the street and drove away. Jessi's eyes followed it until it disappeared around the block.

Nicole put her hand on Jessi's shoulder. "Is something wrong?"

Jessi turned back to Nicole, her mouth open as though she wanted to say something, put she couldn't yet put the words together. Thinking it was just nerves, Nicole smiled to reassure her.

"Everything will be fine, Jessi. Just follow me."

Nicole opened the door for her and Jessi slowly walked into the Trager house. The family pictures hung on the wall caught her attention first.

The images I saw were like the drawing I had made to describe where I had been. Surely this woman had once been with these other people I saw on the wall and she had drawn these to show me where she had been. I noticed that the images were smoother than mine and had no imperfections. Were her abilities superior to mine?

Jessi gave Nicole an uneasy look, but Nicole just smiled back.

"Why don't you come over here to the living room?"

The first thing Jessi noticed in the living room was the screen saver of the computer. She tilted her head to the side as she studied the pattern on the screen.

Seeing how thousands of tiny pixels on the screen formed an image, I realized that a device such as this one might have made the images on the wall. Perhaps this woman did not draw them herself after all.

"Do you want to see the computer?" Nicole noticed Jessi's interest. "A lot of the kids like this game."

Nicole clicked the mouse and the screen saver pattern disappeared to show an animated interactive children's game. Jessi sat down and started to move the mouse, understanding that it corresponded to the pointer on the screen.

"You can stay right there, I'm just going to call my husband."

While Nicole walked into the other room to get the phone, Jessi continued to click at the various images on the screen, easily moving on to each next challenge.

The mathematical pattern I had seen before was complex and elegant, but these new puzzles were simple and completely uninteresting to me. I wanted to learn more, and I wasn't going to waste my time with this.

Jessi stood up from the chair and gradually walked back in the direction of the door, still studying at various objects she saw. Nicole's back was turned for a moment as she talked with Stephen so she didn't see Jessi slip out the front door.

When Jessi reached the sidewalk, she turned to see a shorter, blond girl by the house next door. This girl had stepped outside to pick up her mail and as she sorted through it, she looked up to see Jessi staring at her.

The girl smiled. "Hi."

Since I first came in contact with other people, I had been listening to them communicate and I was trying to piece together their language. I did not yet have a full understanding of it, but for now I could provide this girl with a simple response.

"Hi." Jessi said it slowly, making sure it sounded right.

"Are you visiting the Tragers?" The girl pointed to the Trager house.

Jessi looked at the house and then back at the girl. Her mouth opened as if she wanted to say something, but no words came out.

The other girl seemed confused, but she continued to smile. "I'm Amanda. What's your name?"

I could tell she wanted to know who I was, something that even I didn't know. But there was still one answer I could give.

"Jessi," she managed to say.

"Well, I live next door. Maybe we'll see each other again."

A slight smile began to form across Jessi's face.

"Jessi!" Nicole burst out of the front door. "There you are! You had me worried."

Jessi turned around, confused as to what she had done wrong.

"Come on, let's go back inside."

"So this is the girl you were talking about?" asked Josh. "Not bad at all. You should bring more of your patients home."

Josh had just walked into the kitchen as Nicole was preparing dinner and watching over Jessi.

"Josh! Jessi is a guest in our house. I'd appreciate that you not be making those sort of comments to her."

"Why not? She can't understand a word I say." Josh walked up to Jessi and stared her in the face. "DO YOU UNDERSTAND ME?"

I could tell that he was trying to make me uncomfortable, and I wanted to retaliate in such a way that he would understand. I could not yet form my own sentences, but I thought back to my time at the detention center. Some of the phrases there had made me feel threatened and perhaps I could use them as well.

"Hey little lady, what's your name?" Jessi said to Josh with a mocking tone.

Nicole looked up at Jessi, so shocked that she dropped the plate she was carrying, which smashed into a hundred pieces. Josh's eyes were huge as he stared back in stunned disbelief. Jessi stepped closer to Josh as if to challenge him.

"Come on baby, don't be shy. I could show a girl like you a good time."

Josh turned back to Nicole. "You said she couldn't talk!"

"I haven't heard her speak a word until just now."

"So she learned how to talk in one day. And the first thing she does is insult me."

"Hi Nicole, hi Josh." Stephen walked into the room. "And you must be Jessi."

"Dad, Jessi just learned to talk!"

"Really?" Stephen turned back to Jessi with a quizzical look. "Nicole told me that you weren't saying anything. Is it true you can talk?"

Jessi didn't say anything, but she smiled at Stephen, enjoying the attention that she was getting.

"Don't put any pressure on her," urged Nicole. "She'll talk more when she's ready."

"Well then." Stephen extended his hand to Jessi for a handshake. "It's nice to meet you, Jessi."

Jessi looked at Stephen's hand for a moment and then extended her hand as well, but didn't shake his. Stephen paused and then took Jessi's hand and shook it.

"Where's Lori?" he asked.

"She's still upset about having to share her room with Jessi."

"Don't worry, she'll come around. It's only for a few days."

The next day, Jessi, Nicole, and Lori left the house to go take Jessi to get tested.

"She's already taken over my room," complained Lori. "Why does she have to take up my free time too?"

"Lori, please. Not in front of Jessi."

Jessi was not listening. All of her attention was on the green sedan parked exactly where it was the day before.

"Let's go, Jessi." Nicole opened the car door for her.

Jessi was still uneasy about the other car, but she followed Nicole's instructions.

Jessi sat the desk filling out pages upon pages of answers to the tests Nicole provided.

"Are you even reading the questions?" asked Lori.

"How's she doing?" asked Nicole.

"No wrong answers so far."

"Are you sure?"

"Ok, Mom, you were right." Lori actually seemed impressed. "This girl is smart."

Jessi's eyes confusedly darted back and forth as she was locked into the MRI machine. Behind the glass, Lori stood next to the two technicians as the results came up.

"No, this is all wrong."

"What is it?" asked Lori.

The technician pointed to the screen. "The MRI is supposed to show the active area of the brain. Look at this."

The image of Jessi's brain on the screen was illuminated with all different colors.

"So she's a genius. Yeah, I got that from seeing her written tests."

"No, it means the machine isn't working. No one could show these levels of brain activity."

Lori looked at Jessi through the glass and then back at the results on the screen. Her eyes narrowed, not quite sure what to make of this information.

That night, Jessi quietly lay awake in her bed. Nicole and Stephen had already gone to sleep, but Jessi was still going over the events of the last few days in her head.

Hearing a noise, Jessi looked up to see Lori sneaking out of the room. Curious, Jessi quietly stood up and walked over to the door to see where Lori was going. Lori walked down the stairs with her purse and snuck out of the house while Jessi followed.

Lori walked through the streets and Jessi stayed several yards behind her, not catching Lori's attention. Jessi's eyes widened and she turned around to see the green sedan from earlier slowly inching up the road behind her. Jessi glared at the car until it sped off into the night.

Jessi continued to follow Lori until they came upon a house filled with teenagers and loud music. As Lori disappeared into the crowd, Jessi became distracted by all the blinking lights and sounds. She gazed around the room with a look of fascination on her face.

"You came to my party a little bit underdressed."

Jessi turned around to see a shorthaired teenage boy smiling at her jokingly. When she returned a confused look, he pointed at her shirt.

"Your clothes," he explained. "Most girls dress up a bit more before they go out."

Jessi looked down at her clothes, which was the same generic set of shirt and pants she had received from the juvenile detention center. She looked back up at the boy, still confused.

"I'm Declan, by the way. And you are?"

Jessi didn't say anything, but a smile slowly spread across her face.

"That would usually be the part where you say your name."

"Jessi," she finally said.

"Well, it's nice to meet you, Jessi."

They were interrupted by the screams of partiers running in all directions. A cop had arrived to bust the party and the room quickly cleared. He was a tall, imposing man and he grabbed the first teenager he could get his hands on—and it happened to be Lori.

As Lori struggled with the officer near the pool and tried to argue that she didn't do anything wrong, Jessi instinctively ran outside to face him. Everyone else at the party stepped back and all eyes were on Jessi and cop.

"Go home, little girl," the officer growled at Jessi. "You don't want to get involved."

Jessi didn't back away. Finally, the policeman pushed Lori to side.

"You'll be sorry," he muttered.

Like the one who grabbed me in the detention center, this creature was trying to challenge me. The tingling I had felt before in response to being threatened was still there, but at this point I had realized something else—my abilities were superior to those of other people. This creature was larger than any I had seen before, which would make my victory that much more impressive to those who watched.

A smirk spread across Jessi's face as her eyes challenged the cop.

The officer tried to put his handcuffs on her, but Jessi easily dodged each attempt, leaving him to stumble over himself. The partygoers gasped in amazement at the sight.

Growing annoyed, the cop whipped out his baton and raised in the air, ready to strike. Before he could even take a swing, Jessi snatched it right out of his hand. She mockingly held it in front of his face as the cop writhed with anger. When he tried to grab it back, Jessi threw it over her shoulder and into the pool.

Confused and a little bit nervous, he didn't know whether to continue the showdown or to back away. Jessi glared into his eyes as if to ask him his next move. Finally, as the rest of teenagers cheered, the officer reluctantly turned around and left.

The next night at the Trager house, Nicole was serving dinner to the family. Jessi was not at the table yet, but Nicole had something important to ask the others.

"Lou Daniels can't find anything for Jessi." Nicole explained. "She has nowhere to go."

Stephen, Lori, and Josh exchanged looks.

"I know it may seem like a lot to ask, but I'd like it if Jessi could stay with us a little while longer."

At that moment, Jessi walked into the room. The Tragers looked up at her as she sat down in her seat.

Giving Jessi a smirk of respect, Josh picked up the juice pitcher and filled her glass. Lori and Stephen smiled as well and joined in by serving Jessi her food.