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So Jesse spent the day hanging around with Emma in the laboratory researching DNA strands. Booooring. But Emma wouldn’t let him out of her sight.
“Where to Jesse?”
“May I please use the bathroom mistress?”
Emma giggled. “Sorry. Go ahead.”
“Thank you oh gracious one!”
Emma sneered cheerily at him and turned back to her work. Jesse was totally vexed now. He went mumbling under his breath as he exited the lab, came down and walked past their main computer dashboard. Just then Brennan came online.
“Brennan!” Jesse heard his boyfriend, turned around and ran back to the dashboard. He was so very happy to hear him, and see him.
“Hey!” he was beaming and so was Brennan.
“Hey Jess, how’s it going?”
“Ugh totally horrible. When are you coming home?”
Brennan didn’t know. Skylar had been spotted once at a club but they hadn’t been able to make contact.
“Well at least we know she’s here. We’ll get to her. I’m thinking tomorrow should be it.”
“Great another 24 hours at least.” The sad drawl in Jesse’s voice expressed it all.
“You okay babe?”
Jesse sighed. “Yeh, I guess. I’m just so bored. Emma wont let me out of her sight. For God’s sake Bren, she’s overdoing it don’t you think?”
Brennan chuckled. “Don’t exaggerate kid.”
“No I’m serious! I just had to ask her to go pee!”
Brennan laughed again.
“Easy for you to laugh and all huh? I swear I can’t deal with this any longer. You guys are treating me like dirt man.”
“Jess come on! This is just until you settle down with the… you know…”
“Sure go ahead and say it… Gambling? Addiction problem?” Jesse was losing it again.
“Look Jess, I didn’t call to fight. Can we please discuss this when I get back?”
Jesse was too busy sulking to reply.
Brennan sighed helplessly. “Adam was so right.”
“Right about what?”
“What? Tell me.”
“Its nothing baby. Okay let me talk to Emma. Maybe you guys could go out tonight, take in a movie or something.”
Jesse brightened up. “That would be great Bren! You’ll do that for me?”
Brennan loved this boy. It was so damn easy to delight him.
“Anything for you babe.”
“Thanks Bren. Oh just don’t tell Emma I sassed off about her, or she’ll make my life miserable!” Jesse put on his best pout that he knew worked every damn time. Brennan fell for it and said okay. They chatted for a while longer, and then Brennan asked Jesse to get Emma so he could talk to her. Jesse went skipping back to the lab.
Later that evening, Jesse sat on the computer with another game of internet poker when Emma came up from behind. He quickly minimized the window.
“What you doing?”
“What’s it look like?”
“Eww you’re playing solitaire?”
“Yeh that’s what its meant for. To be played when in solitary confinement.”
Emma chided him by tugging at his ears gently from behind. “Two isn’t solitary kid.”
“Oh really?” Jesse looked skyward to show Emma his expression of boredom. “Forgive me but you haven’t taken a moment’s break from your research since morning. I’m sure if I hadn’t started screaming and throwing things around like a maniac, you would have kept me in there as well with you.”
“Stop cribbing Jesse and tell me, would you like to go out tonight?”
“I’d love to! Where are we going?”
“Hmm what do you have in mind?”
Jesse was up on his feet. “Lets go to that new joint Buzz? I hear its pretty cool.”
Emma was game for exploring a new place. “Okay. You know where it is?”
Buzz was the newest joint on the block. It was everything and everything under one roof, with very many underground storeys to get lost in. There was the standard clubbing scene, place that Jesse brought Emma to. He told her there was also a cyber bar on the first floor, a coffee-and-smoke-and-jazz room somewhere, bowling alleys further up, a formal ballroom at ground floor, and gothic parties somewhere further down in the basement.
“O-ho no thanks.” Emma chuckled. She was fine here. What Jesse did not tell her was that Buzz also had a casino two floors below… with a cool poker crowd.
The music had swelled the moment they’d entered as if to announce their arrival. Heads turned, emotions soared at the sight of two beautiful people everyone assumed to be a couple. Once inside, they had to yell over the music to understand each other.
“Can I get you something?”
“Uhh sea breeze?”
And Jesse shoved off to the bar. Jesse’s palms were sweaty. His heart was racing with an addict’s anxiety and he wondered how the hell he could get down to the poker tables without Emma stopping him first.
//Patience man. Something will turn up. Something has to… //
He was gone hardly four seconds when he noticed a tall, dark and handsome guy approach Emma.
//… and Jackpot.//
The stranger had established eye contact the moment Emma had walked into the room. Finding her alone, he walked up to her spurred by the obvious coyness he saw on Emma’s face.
“Should I bother with a pickup line?”
Emma liked this guy. Direct, cute, sexy, tall, rugged, sexy, great smile, great bod, sexy.
“You could try.”
The man smiled and pointed towards Jesse.
“He’s just a friend. More like a brother actually.”
A cute nod later, the guy extended his hand to Emma.
“I’m still waiting for the pickup line.”
“Frankly, I forgot all my lines the second I laid eyes on you.”
Emma smiled. “That’ll do.” She took his hand and let herself be led to the illuminated dance floor.
Jesse couldn’t have been happier. Emma on the other hand, worried she might have left him in the lurch since the chances of his hooking up with someone were neither expected nor desired. She asked him about the same telepathically but he smiled assuringly and let her know he was fine, that he had just spotted some friends from school and was going to join them. A handsome man in your arms can be very distracting indeed. Emma sensed some turbulence in his psyche, but that could just be his missing Brennan. She let Jesse go and focused on the guy at hand.
The rebel mutant took the opportunity to sneak out and into the casino, where the poker tables were.
It had been almost two hours since Emma had locked arms with Steve, that’s what his name was, and time flew. Close to nine, she decided to check up on Jesse, just in case. A standing instruction from Adam, along with a fierce protectiveness for family (which they’d obviously imbibed from Shalimar) kept MutantX on high alert for each other. Emma was kicking herself for being so smitten by this guy that she hadn’t noticed Jesse for a long time now. She looked around, nope, Jesse definitely wasn’t here. But she had been able to sense him near all the time, which was good. Now as Steve went off to get them more drinks from the bar, Emma looked to her ring of faith.
“Hey Jess where are you?”
No response came over her comlink she’d taken such care to use, hoping no one saw her doing so. In vain.
Emma concentrated. On Jesse.
Flashes in white revealed she’d been had. Again. Jesse sat on a turned chair, on a table laid out with vodka shots, and poker chips… a rolex, a half-naked girl, and a pile of thrown cards. He had a drink in his right hand, and a hand of cards clutched in his left one, which he wasn’t looking at. No point, pair of jacks, a lost hand. There was way too much money on stake. Why then does he look so smug? Bluffing. He was bluffing. Just like he’d bluffed his way with Emma, and now that she thought about it, even Brennan.
And then Emma noticed something else on the table. Something small and round and shiny… like a… Oh. My. God.
It was Jesse’s comlink ring.
Jesse wasn’t having a very lucrative night. Money was irrelevant, but he so hated losing. Every loss just fuelled his need, his rage, and his fervent desire to go again… win again. A loss spurred him more than victory itself. He had no money left, no watch, and his suppressed sanity was meekly informing him it was time to go home. But Jesse wouldn’t listen.
//One more hand. Just one more.//
And he took off his ring.
“Falling short of resources monsieur?”
“Pure platinum, real diamonds, very expensive. At least nine grand.” A tad more than the amount he needed at that time anyways.
The guy with the fake accent peered at his ring. A real beauty alright. Besides he had a trail of nines. Could have been better but this would do. The kid looked too smug, he was bluffing.
Okay Monsieur Phony had his doubts.
Emma was kicking herself. How could she let him fool her like this? And she couldn’t believe he was actually using his ring, the sacred ring to gamble! This had gotten way out of hand. She immediately regretted not having discussed last night with the others. This would have never happened if… oh damn! This is one big mess. She had no idea it was going to get worse.
Jesse was somewhere in the same building she could tell, but which floor? She came out of the noise-filled club and into the parking lot, wondering what to do next. But she didn’t get too long to do anything.
Steve came out following her. Emma turned to him, a smile about to break through when she noticed movement behind her, and her senses informed her of imminent danger. Something about the way he was advancing toward her… Great. The night just keeps getting better and better. Some psyonic she was! Emma rolled her eyes at the GS agents. Eight of them. Excluding Stevie boy.
Jesse didn’t have his ring on. It lay deactivated, useless and pretty on the poker table, up for grabs. He couldn’t hear Emma calling out to him.
“So what will it be *monsieur*? This is a one of a kind ring. It’s a family heirloom, very dear to me.”
Jesse looked alluringly comfortable in this seemingly uncomfortable situation, making his opponent ponder. He’d put a family heirloom very dear to him worth nine grands at stake… what the hell does that mean? ? Bluffing, definitely bluffing.
The numbers kept going up until the tension was so thick in the air you could touch it. The half-naked girl felt chills running up her spine, wished she were dressed warmly.
Emma was putting to test all her combat trainings, running and luring just one agent at a time so she could flatten them to her satisfaction. But there was only so long she could do that. She’d used her powers to psychically knock one down, but they were coming at her so fast there wasn’t enough time to cast another trance, or even communicate with her careless friend. Gawd she needed someone to back her up. Just then an agent grabbed her from behind and tried to gun her with a subdermal governor. She brought her elbow forward and with all the might she could muster, drove it back into the assailant’s face breaking his nose. He stumbled back letting her go and she made a run for it just as another agent picked up the gun and lunged at her.
//Where are you Jesse?//
“Ten grand. Show.”
Jesse smiled. He took his time with picking up his cards, looking at them intently like he could better them with his magical green gaze. The suspense hung heavy and his opponent was visibly fidgeting. Finally Jesse took the mercy of throwing his cards down on the table.
Trail of jacks.
The guy almost had a heart attack. He got up whaling in perfect Americanese and would have lunged at Jesse if others hadn’t stopped him. Jesse only laughed. The old card-up-your-sleeve trick still came in handy huh. He gathered his loot and kissed his ring and rushed out before things got out of hand. At the counter he put the ring on and was about to turn in his chips for cash when he was startled by a shrill scream over his comlink.
“JESSE damnit help!?!”
Jesse could make out Emma was in grave danger.
//Shit. Shit. Shit!//
Chips and cash forgotten, he ran upstairs in complete panic.
“Emma! Where are you?”
“Parking lot. Agents Jesse, need you now!”
Jesse did not need to be told twice.He phased through unnecessary walls to get out and reach Emma soon as possible.
//You bastard you’ve done it this time! If anything happens to Emma… God No!//