Adam was busy keying away his final calculations into the computer while Jesse hovered impatiently about him.
“Relax Jesse. Its only a matter of half an hour more.”
That was Emma who was helping out Adam in his tasks. Jesse wasn’t convinced.
“Easy for you to say when you haven’t been injected with an experimental mutation subjugator serum!”
Adam gave him a half-stern half-assuring look which succeeded in stopping Jesse from pacing furiously.
“Jesse sit down you’re giving me a headache”
Emma chided him and he gave her one of his looks.. upset looks. But he did as he was told and sat down on the hot seat that every member of MutantX was now fully familiar with. He let his legs dangle and drummed the seat with his fingers impatiently.
Jesse was worried alright. What if the serum had adverse side effects? Sure he trusted Adam but .. without his mutant abilities Jesse felt thoroughly prone. Even inside the Sanctuary.
Brennan and Shalimar walked in right then.
“Oh hi Brennan .. you’re back!”
He’d been away for two days… helping an old friend in trouble. Emma greeted him pleasantly and so did Adam. Jesse looked up.
Brennan caught both the genuine gladness to see him and the hesitation on his face. It excited him.
“Hey everyone.. What’s going on?”
Adam took off his glasses and turned to them.
“We’re testing the mutation subjugator serum on Jesse and he’s fidgeting.”
“Subjugator?” Brennan queried. He didn’t know.
Adam began to explain.
“Well.. to give you a heads up.. considering how common it is for new mutants to suddenly start mutating and losing control of their powers.. few weeks ago I started working on developing antidotes for you all so that if.. and when.. this does happen to any of you.. we can arrest it on time.”
“But isn’t such an antidote unique for every type of mutant?”
“Yes it is. And I happened to start on Jesse’s first.”
This earned the test subject looks from all four people standing around. Jesse looked like he was sulking.
“Jesse you have to trust me. You will be fine in another .. 25 minutes or so”
“What’s wrong with Jesse?”
Shalimar was concerned.
“Well, I injected him with half ml of the serum..”
Adam held up an innoculator with a small vial attached to it. The vial had a measurement scale printed on it and contained a liquid in beautiful blue. Adam continued..
“The serum took immediate effect, within two seconds of application. But since he’s not mutating right now, its caused him to lose his mutant abilities temporarily.”
Four voices ringing out did nothing to mellow him a bit.
“Actually according to my calculations, his abilities have been neutralized for exactly four hours and six minutes. That’s how long it will take for his true genetic make-up to fight the antidote’s normalizing effect and regenerate to its original self. Half ml is the minimum amount Jesse, I cant help it. You’ll just have to trust me on this one.”
Jesse sighed and nodded. Shalimar went to him and gathered him into her arms. She had always loved him more than anyone else on the team. He was like a little brother to her. Jesse often teased her by calling her “Mom” but she didn’t mind. In fact she kinda liked it.
“Stop worrying Jess, you wont lose your powers”
Jesse smiled at her sweet words. He’d always listen to Shalimar no matter what. He too felt a strange affinity to this woman and would do anything she asked of him. He visibly calmed but..
“No powers eh?”
Brennan was having fun at Jesse’s expense. He pretended to guffaw loudly.
“Brennan” Shalimar chided him.
“Ahem!.. so Adam..”
Brennan deftly changed the subject though not entirely.
“You sure there will be no side-effects to this.. Subjugator?”
The stress on the last word clearly exemplified. He looked at Jesse who in turn was pointedly staring at him.
They were at it again. Some cat and mouse game where each tried to show the other down, jeer at the other for some reason or another, no matter how silly or how serious it might be. But the response from Adam startled them both equally.
“I hope not”
Adam chuckled. “Relax everyone. I am sure there will be no adverse side-effects of the drug. Jesse I know you might be feeling weak and vulnerable right now, but you don’t have to worry okay? Tell me you’re okay with this.”
Jesse let out a huge breath while Shalimar rubbed his back lovingly.
“Yes I am Adam. And anyways its only a matter of.. “ looked at his watch.. “23 minutes and .. 24 seconds”
Smiles all around.
“Good. Now you stick around, I have to run some more tests after the stipulated time period is up. I’ll be right back.”
and Adam left the room. Emma left with him. Shalimar turned to Jesse.
“Yeah Yeah..” Jesse didnt mind being fussed over by Shalimar too much. But right now, Brennan’s presence and his sneering expression were making him edgy.
“Hey why don’t you guys freshen up? You just got back from a long trip right?”
Shalimar looked at Brennan and then turned back to Jesse.
“Are you sure you don’t want me to stay with you?”
Before Jesse could get a word in, Brennan spoke up.. “Oh come on Shal.. Jesse isn’t a child. So what he feels a little Weak and Vulnerable right now..”
That sneer again. Jesse scowled angrily at him. Shal had to ask.
“What’s up with you guys these days?”
Jesse replied quickly.. a little too quickly.
“Nothing that’s important enough to discuss Shal.. you go on.. I’ll be outta here in no time.”
Shalimar turned to walk out. But not before glaring at Brennan who’d made no move to move whatsoever.
When she was gone, Brennan straightened up from where he was leaning against the wall and walked towards the bench where Jesse still sat, his legs dangling. But he wasn’t fidgeting anymore. He was deathly still. Brennan was coming towards him.. slowly.. it was like the world was in slow motion.. until he reached him.
And Jesse froze.
Jesse recognized his name being hissed out in that deep baritone voice with such deliberate seduction.. and felt the hairs at the back of his head standing to attention.
“I don’t think you’ve ever looked so tempting all your life Jess… “
His voice dropping to a hoarse whisper with every word as he leaned in .. his face.. his lips.. precariously close to Jesse’s.
“I want you.. right here.. right now.. do you know how much I want you? I’m sure you do..”
A hand snaked out to reach under Jesse’s tee and gently stroke his abdomen.
Jesse stared blankly into those impassioned brandy brown eyes .. for the longest time, he said nothing… and then he used deadpan.
“I have a date tonight.”
Brennan blinked. Brennan stepped back.
His anger welling up at having being rejected once more. But he didn’t let it out. He looked sideways to hide the bitter disappointment on his face and was about to turn back when he was delivered a bigger blow.
“With this guy.. we met at the bar Saturday night.”
Brennan’s voice dropped even further, if that were possible.
“Who is it?”
Not like it mattered, but that was all he could think of at that point.
“He’s a student of literature at UCLA. Name’s Daniel.. he’s.. he’s nice.”
Brennan didn’t bother to curb his irritation anymore. When he looked at Jesse he saw nothing but a vacant look on his angelic face. A face he wanted to smack real bad right now.
“So this isn’t about the gay thing then right?”
Jesse didn’t say anything.
“Man what is your Problem? I thought you chickened out cos you didn’t wanna be gay. But now I see you Are going out with guys after all. What is your problem with me?”
Jesse still said nothing. He looked at his feet while Brennan exploded.
“What is it about me that repulses you anyway? I’d really like to know Jess cos.. you see its never happened to me before and.. and it might at least turn out be an educational experience for me you know..”
Jesse got up and made to move out. Brennan blocked his way.
“I told you Brennan. Its not working. “
“How many times do we have to go over this?”
“Lets go once more Jesse.. indulge me”
Brennan could be really sarcastic when he wanted to. And right now, he was real motivated.
Jesse glared at him and began.
“Brennan …things are complicated as it is. In case you forgot, we’re mutants. We’re freaks! And.. “
“And you don’t wanna be a second kind of freak is that it?”
“No! I.. its just… we lead dangerous lives, we’re responsible not just for us but for thousands of other people on this planet! And we .. we have to work together.. being involved would only make things worse.. its.. it might ruin our work relationship… “
“Oh yeah? Enlighten me cos I didn’t see us losing any battles or slipping up.. I thought I’d made it crystal clear to you that what we do in our personal time will not affect our professional responsibilities whatsoever.”
“Yes but… “
“Maybe it is.. maybe.. its not possible to separate business from pleasure at all.”
“If that ever happens Jesse we can work through it together.. we could..”
“Brennan stop it. I… I don’t wanna complicate things any more that’s all.”
“End of discussion.”
Brennan wasn’t convinced. But he decided to leave it at that. To hell with this.
He turned around and walked out, leaving Jesse to stare after him.