5:14 am, Level 2
Brennan and Shalimar split up. There were two entrances to Level 2, Brennan took the left one and Shalimar took the right. They were immediately greeted with blood and gore and they saw some mutants and some GSA agents lying dead. They were obviously taking no prisoners at this level. The first band of agents was ready for Brennan as they had been informed by their mates outside. The moment Brennan came in sight, they opened fire. Only these weren’t normal bullets, rather sedative darts .. that’s much worse. Brennan the electrical was needed alive.
// Dream on. //
And he opened his own fire… zapping the entire metal door they were hiding behind.. electrocuting and dazing half the team. They wont be getting up anytime soon. The other half moved backwards and continued to fire… this time real bullets.
// Now that’s more like it! //
Shalimar cleared her way through the tin men with minimal effort. While some were too damn slow in reacting, others were simply too stunned by her feral beauty and agility to react at all. After the last agent went down, she moved further up the tunnel. And there, she saw four agents huddled behind a wall… looking at something or someone… who was further up at the end of the tunnel. Shalimar didn’t have to strain too much to see and hear that it was Jesse trapped at the T-section between the tunnels and that these agents were about to move in towards him.
And then they opened fire.
Brennan was riddled with anxiety as he reached the curve in the tunnel through which he could see two agents fast advancing upon the T-section just ahead. And what he saw caused him to feel rage like he’d never felt before. The agents were shooting at Jesse!
He switched on the comlink same time that Shalimar did to warn Jesse about the agents.
“Agents Jesse … be careful” That was Shalimar, who obviously did not know about his loss of mutancy.
“Jesse get out of there! Run towards the tunnel behind you!”
That was Brennan.
And Jesse would have run, towards the third tunnel.. towards Emma, just as bullets rained on him from the two directions. But when he stood up to run, he saw Shalimar fighting the four agents, all four of them having two kinds of ammunition. While one was still shooting at Jesse, the other three were fighting her. And there was no way she could take all of them at such close range!
And Jesse ran towards the second tunnel instead, into the line of fire.
Brennan panicked to see Jesse run in the wrong direction. Just then the one of the agents having heard his scream turned toward him while the second one continued to shoot at Jesse. With one hand he zapped the agent coming at him and with the other, he pulled out the gun he didn’t wanna use and shot the guy shooting at Jesse.
Shot him dead.
Meanwhile, Jesse was running toward Shalimar, toward the shooter and as Shalimar noticed now.. without phasing out.
And the inevitable happened.
A bullet caught and wedged itself in Jesse’s right shoulder, just as he dived to knock the shooter off his feet. Shalimar knocked one agent unconscious and turned to the other two still stalking her. But her attention was on Jesse.
“Jesse you okay?”
“I’m fine” He grunted.
“Never felt a bullet before.”
He added as he grabbed hold of one of the agents, pulled off his helmet with his left injured arm and with the right, delivered a solid box to the nose. The agent didn’t go down. He boxed him again, and again. He finally decided to faint and Jesse dropped him on his ass. Shalimar meanwhile took care of the other agent just as Brennan and Emma came rushing toward them.
They looked around for any more surprises but there were no GSA agents to deliver any. Emma ran toward a mutant who was really dead, to check his pulse. Shalimar turned to Jesse.
“Jesse you’re hit.”
Jesse wanted to sink to the floor but something came in the way. He looked up to see Brennan holding him into his lap, stroking his hair lovingly.
“You’re okay Jesse.”
And Jesse smiled. Shal and Emma were at his side in no time. And Shalimar brought up the big question. “Jesse why didn’t you phase?”
Emma stayed quiet, not saying a word.
Shalimar was holding his head and kissing him but now she looked at him doubtfully.
“Oh Jess don’t tell me you’re still feeling the effects of the serum!”
Brennan and Jesse looked at one another, then Brennan spoke up.
“Hey we’ll discuss this later, we gotta get out of here now.”
Everyone agreed and Shal and Brennan helped Jesse up, who was getting weak from the blood loss. Everyone except Shalimar headed toward level 4’s exit where Adam was waiting with the aircraft. Shal went back to get the mutants still blocking the front door and on their way back, they destroyed whatever property there was that could possibly lead GSA to the rest of the underground. They all got in and flew off… took one last surveillance of the region. Didn’t look like they had left any mutants or evidence behind. Once satisfied, Adam headed for the other safehouse where they dropped the mutants who had been so very helpful in countering the siege.
When it was just the five of them, they flew towards the Sanctuary.
They were on their way to the Sanctuary when Adam turned his full attention to Jesse. He was sitting leaned up against Shal because that’s where she wanted him to be. He had been given first-aid and painkiller shots and the bleeding was under control. It was only on close examination that Adam realized the bullet was still inside.
“How the hell did you let a bullet get to you at all?”
Shalimar was voicing her concerns.
“Adam I think he was not able to phase in time, something might be affecting his mutation. You think the serum is still in his body..?”
She didn’t notice Jesse closing his eyes wishing he could just wish this whole mess away. Now he owed an explanation to everybody and that might reveal what had transpired between him and Brennan earlier that night.. morning.
Brennan was sitting farthest possible from Jesse. He wasn’t even looking at him.
Adam, piqued by what Shalimar had just told him, “can you phase now.. so the bullet might come out? And keep your bandage on please!”
// Uh-oh //
All eyes were trained at Jesse, making him edgy. Brennan turned around to look too. He looked and felt like a convict awaiting sentence. His moment of justice had finally arrived. And tears welled up in eyes at the thought of the worst that could have happened, all because of his thoughtlessness.
// I’m so sorry Jesse… //
Jesse closed his eyes.. against the pain.. against the fear.. the helplessness.. against everything he thought was important to him, but wasn’t. The only thing he’d wanted was what he couldn’t have. And nothing else mattered. Not anymore. He took a deep breath, and focused.
Jesse ghosted. The bullet fell with a clonk onto the floor.
Brennan blinked. He looked down at his watch and smiled. 5.27 am.
// Huh... maybe not so accurate after all! //
Relieved, he looked up and smiled at Jesse, who smiled back.
“okay Jesse.. that’s good. Now can you morph to solid form as well for me?”
Jesse did what he was told. Rock solid. Shal was surprised but also hugely relieved. Emma smiled reassuringly, and stayed quiet.
“Jesse you scared me for a moment there.”
“Ugghh! S-Sorry Shal.. but please.. can you not hug me so tight?”
Adam gave the verdict, “He seems fine to me. Maybe there were way too many bullets flying around to keep a count. It happens.. “
He patted Jesse’s hand and got up.
Shalimar kissed his forehead. And Emma kissed his cheek.
“Oh come on girls! Stop fussing, its just a bullet hole.”
Not that the girls were about to listen anyway. Jesse tuned out and looked at Brennan, who sat against the aircraft wall… one knee trapped between his hands, staring back at him. And he saw something in those brandy brown eyes he hadn’t seen before…