Brennan stuck to his promise… he was by Jesse’s side every single moment that day. Jesse had a meek thought that maybe Brennan was actually babysitting him, making sure he didn’t indulge in any depraved activity. And it got him agitated. But Brennan made sure the sulking didn’t last too long, and Jesse forgot about the whole MGM thingie soon enough. The second day however, Brennan couldn’t keep his promise.
Adam stayed away longer than he’d expected. It was two days since the incident in Vegas and MutantX was nowhere close to locating the hypnotist. This morning however, they’d received a message from Adam that she might be in Hawaii.
“Aint she a fast one.” Shalimar had commented. And Jesse had his own questions to ask.
“But how can we be sure she is in Hawaii? As far as I know, we couldn’t find a single clue to her whereabouts in the last two days.”
Adam explained online, “Well I cant be sure but Professor Xavier here, claims to have invented a device called the Cerebro that telepaths like him can use to locate any mutant on earth. New mutants as well.”
The team at the Sanctuary exchanged glances. Emma was particularly keen.
“I requested for a demonstration, and that’s how I know Skylar is in Hawaii. So I need you to get down there and find her before Eckhart does.”
Jesse quipped, “Well I just hope this isn’t some wild goose chase across the continent, not that I mind…”
“You’re not going Jesse. Shalimar and Brennan, you two take this.”
Shite. Jesse was incredulous. Adam was doing this to him again!
“Jesse I don’t have time for this discussion right now, we’ll talk about it when I get back.”
Shalimar took over, and Jesse’s protests were ignored. “That’s fine Adam, we’ll take care of it.”
“Thanks Shal. Stake out the night if you have to. Just make sure you find her. She only steals money, but if the GSA captures her, she could be used for a lot of damage.”
And he logged off.
Brennan looked over at Jesse, who in turn was pointedly staring at his shoelaces.
Jesse didn’t look up. “Go on. Go to Hawaii.”
Emma tried to pacify him by saying she would be here with him too. But that didn’t matter. Jesse was in his dark place again, where he felt everyone he loved and trusted had suddenly turned against him. And even though he was aware of how wrong it was, he found himself wanting to rebel, to break the stupid rules… and do what he knew would hurt them in return. Tuning out the implorings from Brennan and Shalimar and Emma, Jesse walked out.
Brennan spent a lot of time trying to get the boy to talk, but failed. Finally he gave up. He threw his hands in the air and sighed.
“At least say goodbye to me Jess. I might be gone for days.”
Jesse looked up from his computer at that, and finally got up to come into Brennan’s outstretched arms. They held each other tenderly, not wanting to part. Brennan kissed the top of Jesse’s blonde head resting against his chest and lightly rocked him.
“You promised you would stay grounded with me.”
Brennan grimaced. “I know, I am so sorry Jess… I’ll make it up to you when I get back, I promise.”
Jesse slipped out of his embrace and stood a good three feet apart, hands buried deep in pockets of his low-hung jeans. He didn’t wanna quit sulking so soon.
“Don’t promise anything Brennan.”
“Come on Jess…”
“It’s okay just, leave already will ya?”
Brennan sighed. “Okay you might not believe in me or my promises anymore but I still believe in you. And… I want you to promise me something.”
“Promise me you wont do anything stupid. No… I know that you know exactly what I’m talking about. Promise me you’ll stay out of trouble?”
Jesse shifted and squirmed. Finally he offered, “Yeh okay.”
Brennan wanted to close the distance and kiss the love of his life before he left. But Jesse wasn’t interested. Sadly, he walked out and Jesse felt a pang of guilt for being such a jerk. But stubborn that he was, he refused to acknowledge it. Shalimar left Jesse with another set of instructions. And Emma was already starting to get on his nerves with the constant watching over. He escaped to his room and went online.
Technology is an evil commodity. It’s allowed us to access all those deepest, darkest, forbidden recesses that once existed only in hidden depths of our minds, but are now freely available over the Internet. Jesse found a game of poker and spent the day polishing his skills so to speak. But it wasn’t the same. Where’s the fun without the sneaking! The danger of getting caught, the tension of waiting, the thrill of winning against real-life odds!?!
So Jesse might have been telling himself that he was doing this because he wanted to get back at Adam and Brennan. Sure he was angry with them, but secretly he knew he wanted this, he yearned for the high once more. And the fact that there was no one home to stop him… was only to his advantage.
Come nighttime and the boy was pacing furiously. Nothing gave him peace in the Sanctuary anymore. He longed for the feel of real cards in his hands, he thought he’d go crazy if he didn’t do something about it soon.
//There was no one home.//
But shouldn’t he stop himself? Shouldn’t he try and distract himself, maybe helping Emma with… whatever she was doing… no wait she went off to sleep… okay maybe practice simulation combat or… or… read something maybe?
//This is wrong. This is wrong. This is wrong.//
Shouldn’t he NOT think of how much money he had right now, and how he could get out of this place without being discovered?
//Don’t go there Kilmartin don’t even think about it!//
He recalled the inside of the MGM Grand… the lights, the glitz, the rich smell of green… the pride of victory over defeat…
//You promised Brennan you’d stay out of trouble!//
So he did. So he will.
Jesse donned his black leather jacket and quietly slipped out of his room. Mistake number three.
The next morning, Emma video conferenced with Adam, Shalimar and Brennan about the state of the mission. The two hadn’t been able to spot Skylar anywhere. Adam reassured them his information was accurate and that they should keep looking. After he logged off, Brennan asked Emma where Jesse was.
“Catch him on his comlink.” she said.
But Brennan seemed concerned. “I tried, he isn’t replying.”
Shalimar spoke up, “Emma can you please check up on him? I’m sure its nothing. I’m telling him there is no way Jesse will be up this early but daddy here is worrying himself sick.”
Brennan scowled at the laughing girls.
“Hey maybe I just want to see him okay? Is that too much to ask? And do you plan to harass us with your giggling all our lives?”
That brought on another big round of laughter. Emma assured him she would go check up on him soon after the call and get him to call Brennan back.
“How’s he doing? Is he still upset?”
“Umm he was in his room all day yesterday. Came out to grab some pizza, said he was online with a friend, and went back. That was the only time I saw him, but he seemed okay.”
Sure enough, when Emma knocked on Jesse’s door, she got no reply. She went in anyway to find him sleeping soundly on his stomach. She smiled and made to move out, when she noticed something else.
Jesse was sleeping in his jacket. And his shoes. Muddy wet shoes. And it had rained last night. Emma shook her head in dismay. She didn’t need to read him, but she still did it to ensure what she was assuming was correct. And it was.
Jesse had spent the night at a seedy club downtown, winning in poker, and brawling with a sore goon of a loser. He’d also had too much to drink, and returned only at 4 am in the morning. Emma cursed herself for not paying more attention. Jesse had done exactly what he’d been asked not to do.
Shite. I am so not good at this!
Emma wished Shalimar or Brennan were there to handle this, because she was so not gonna enjoy having to confront Jesse, when he woke up that is.
Jesse could not open his eyes till one in the afternoon. He woke up with a bad hangover and a pain in his side where the bastard had managed to box him too hard for comfort. Drinking made him slow he knew that. Yet he’d gone ahead and downed three neat shots of vodka.
//You’re a disgrace Kilmartin. What would Bren say?//
He didn’t want to think about that. A gambler might be nocturnal, but his guilt isn’t, it catches up only the morning after. Jesse’s was no different. He thought of Brennan’s face, his words, his embrace right before they’d parted. //Fuck! Fuck!//
Enough gambling for this lifetime, no more, he resolved.
//I’m not doing it again.//
He stripped and jumped into a long bath, took an aspirin and walked towards his door to go out and confirm his existence to Emma. But then the inevitable happened. On his way out, he happened to glance at his leather jacket… at the red silk lining inside… over bustling with money. Money he’d won last night. Yet another hangover… one he couldn’t … or wouldn’t get rid of.
//Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.//
A deep sigh greeted him in return. “Jesse…”
She knew. Jesse slowly turned toward her. But before she could get a word in, he started off.
“Look Emma, I’m sorry okay? I … I couldn’t help it. I had to do it once. Just once, just so I could get some peace you know. I promise you that was it. Just the one time I swear. It wont happen again.”
Emma was slightly relieved this wasn’t turning into the heated argument she’d anticipated. But she didn’t plan to give in so soon either.
“Jesse you were categorically asked by everyone not to …”
“Em come on don’t lecture me please!?! I said I’m sorry! I really am, I… I don’t intend to do it again.”
Jesse was pleading so adoringly, and even if he wasn’t, there was no way Emma could stay pissed at him for longer than thirty seconds. Slightly shaking her head in the negative, she looked away and then back, trying to hold back a smile. But Jesse caught it and continued sweet-talking her.
“Sweetest Emma, dearest Emma, prettiest Emma…”
“Greatest Emma, magnificentest Emma, benevolentest Emma…”
“ Okay okay cut it out!” And Emma was in splits, reaching out for Jesse and hugging him close to herself. Mission accomplished.
“No more right?”
“Absolutely no more.”
“Good” Emma pushed back his bangs from his eyes and stroked his face while a smiling Jesse held her by her waist. There was just one more thing to do. He bit his lip.
“Is it… is it too much to ask if I… I beg you to… not tell Brennan and others… about last night?”
He was hoping against hope she hadn’t already told them. Emma’s smile vanished as she loosened her grip of Jesse.
“Jesse you know I cant lie to them.”
//So they don’t know yet. Good.//
“Its not lying Emma, you just don’t need to bring it up that’s all. Please Em, for my sake… please…?”
Emma contemplated. It didn’t feel right, but seeing Jesse plead like this was breaking her heart. She always was a soft target. She considered the worst that could happen if she didn’t tell anyone about Jesse’s little escapade. Nothing right? On the other hand, Jesse might be in serious trouble if the others, and especially Adam got to know. And besides, he was promising that he would never do this again. What she didn’t realize was that gamblers are professional bluff masters.
“Okay Jesse but…”
“Yes! Thank you!”
“… BUT… from now on, until everyone gets back, you are not to leave my side.”
Emma raised an eyebrow. “Is that not acceptable?”
Jesse grinned sheepishly. He had no choice.
“Way acceptable. No problem. At your side, always. Absolutely.”
Emma held his chin and shook it slightly, “Stop being melodramatic. I aint that bad.”
Jesse attempted to hide his disappointment and smiled back.
//Damnit. You asked for it Kilmartin. You can forget your plans for tonight.//
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