Disclaimer: The following work is fan fiction. It is not intended to infringe on any copyright or to make a profit. Mutant X belongs to various people who are not me, but the story itself is mine. Please do not copy, post, or sue without the express permission of the author.
PG-ish for language. Feedback and constructive criticism welcomed at the email link at the bottom of the page.
Jesse's ability to increase and decrease his mass gave him a huge advantage when it came to staying in one piece. Anyone trying to hit him was in for a nasty surprise, and he'd yet to find a bullet that could pierce his natural armor . . . as long as he knew it was coming.
Silencers sucked, he reflected as he tried to push himself out of sight behind the dumpster he'd been using for cover a few minutes before. And bleeding . . . definitely sucked. All those times he'd let bullets just bounce off him, secretly a little amused at their impotence, he should have known there was one out there with his name on it, just waiting to get revenge.
It was almost funny, in an ironic kind of way. Funny that a bullet had finally found its way through his defenses, funny that now, when it did no good, his mass seemed to have increased a hundred times, funny that he was so cold when he'd just been complaining to Brennan that it was too hot for this time of year. Or was that yesterday when he'd talked to Brennan? It seemed like a long time ago.
One of his legs seemed to be asleep, which made it really hard to scoot the last few feet to the dumpster. He'd tried to shake it out a couple of times, but it still wasn't working. Lying down on the job, he thought, and would have laughed except he suspected it wasn't really funny. The last time he'd tried to use his arms to move, something wrong had happened inside, and he'd wound up making a horrible whimpering sound that shamed him all the more because it took him so long to stop. He'd been glad then that no one was around to hear him--well, no one except the sniper on the roof down the street, but he . . . or she, equal opportunity employment . . . was the whole reason he was here, and Jesse didn't figure he-or-she had any room to complain. But it was hard enough trying to appear as tough as Shalimar or as cool as Brennan without making noises like a stepped-on puppy.
//. . . is for horses . . .//
"Hey, you still alive down there?"
He. The sniper was a he. The answer to the $64,000 question . . .
"I haven't seen you move in a while. I hope you're not dead; dead worms make lousy bait."
Jesse hadn't ever been fishing, but he was willing to take the sniper's word for it. They'd had a remarkably honest relationship so far, unless you counted the whole issue of sneaking up and shooting someone in the back as being dishonest. He thought about telling the sniper he was alive, he'd just forgotten he was supposed to be moving and he'd get right on it as soon as his legs started working again. It seemed like too much effort, though, and honest or not, Jesse didn't see much point in making the sniper's job easier for him.
"Where's your partner, anyway? Shouldn't he be trying to rescue you or something? Doesn't seem like much of a partner who'd leave you out in the middle of some alley to bleed to death."
//He had a pressing appointment. Had to get his hair done. It doesn't just poof like that naturally, you know.//
"I saw the two of you messing around down there, trying to sneak up on me. You could learn a thing or two about stealth, kid. Like not kicking aluminum cans around and raising a ruckus."
//That was Brennan's fault. If he'd said something before he stopped walking . . .//
"But then I guess just 'cause you're freaks doesn't mean you're all that bright, does it, kid? Hell, if you had any sense, you wouldn't be lying out there bleeding to death. Or at least you'd pick a partner who'd watch your back."
Freaks. It should have made him mad, but he was just too tired to get excited about it. Too cold, ice on his bones and fire somewhere in his back . . .
"Maybe I should just finish you off and go after your partner instead of waiting. Doesn't look like he's coming for you, does it? There's no need in you suffering all this time, freak or no freak. What do you think, kid?"
//I think I want another blanket. Adam always keeps this place too cold. Maybe it is good for the plants, but I don't want frostbite.//
"Hell, maybe you're dead already, and I'll just be wasting a bullet. But just in case . . . Well, what do you know, look who's finally decided to show--"
Two screams, one terrified and one furious, startled Jesse into opening his eyes, and he thought confusedly that he wasn't in Sanctuary after all. But what was he doing lying in a filthy alleyway with a soda can not two feet from his nose and someone manhandling him like he was a drunk getting rolled?
Hands on him everywhere, pulling him upright and making that wrong thing happen again, and he was embarrassing himself, he couldn't help it, couldn't stop the horrible sounds any more than he could stop shaking. Whoever it was pulled him in and held on tight. He breathed in soap and leather, his face hidden between Brennan's neck and the collar of his jacket. Brennan's throat vibrated against his cheek, but he couldn't hear anything over the screaming flames devouring his back and chest.
It had to stop. Had to. There'd be nothing left of him if it didn't. He had to get away. Brennan was holding him down, holding him in the fire. God, why was he being punished like this? He hadn't meant to be bad. He had to get away . . .
And then he was floating, resting on cool water, drifting lazily, his hair ruffled by a faint breeze scented with soap and leather and Emma's perfume.
This time when Jesse woke up, things stayed more or less in place. He felt remarkably more there than he had in a long time. He could actually feel the ache in his chest, rather than just knowing it was there under a fuzzy blanket of painkillers, but it was a manageable pain, and he welcomed it for the fact that it proved his head was clear enough to notice it.
Clear enough, too, to notice that he had to get to the bathroom about two minutes ago. With a grunt, he pushed himself cautiously upright on the bed--his bed, he realized--and swung his legs carefully over the side. Onto his floor, in his room, which wasn't what he'd been expecting, but at least meant that the bathroom was straight ahead, and he could find it even if he was dizzy and beginning to realize that standing up had been a bit optimistic of him. He could either obey momentum or gravity, though, and momentum would keep him from doing something he hadn't done since he was three.
Luckily the bathroom door was open and the sink was handy to lean against as he got himself free of his boxers. Relieving himself did wonders for clearing his head, even if his hands did still shake as he washed them. By that point, though, his eyes had settled on the shower, and the idea of being clean was so enticing that there was no way he could get back in bed until he'd washed off all the grime he could suddenly feel accumulated on his skin.
His hands moved almost of their own accord to turn on the spray. He glanced down at the scabbed over wound--at least the part he could see, he assumed there was a matching hole in the back, two for one deal--and decided it looked healed over enough not to start bleeding again if he got it wet. He hoped.
The first blast of hot water felt so good that he moaned, arching his neck to let it run freely down his back, pounding out aches he hadn't even realized were there. The water swept down his back and over his buttocks and thighs and down his calves, washing away pain and tension and the feeling of too many hands touching him when he couldn't say no. He leaned forward, resting his arms against the shower wall and letting his head fall onto his crossed wrists. It felt so good, he wasn't sure he was ever going to come out. Maybe Adam could figure out a way to mutate his mutation so that he could grow gills or something . . .
A sudden blast of cold air hit him, startling him so much he slid back. Strong arms grabbed and kept him from falling, pressed him against a chest that was breathing too hard for serenity.
"What the hell do you think you're doing?" Brennan demanded, too loudly and right in Jesse's ear. "You have no business being out of bed, much less standing in a hot shower. Are you trying to pass out and bust your head open?"
Jesse twisted against Brennan's now soaking shirt, trying to get in a position where he could glare at his friend without falling flat on his ass.
"I was doing just fine till you surprised me. Since when do you walk in on me when I'm showering, anyway?"
Which wasn't to say that he'd object, under normal circumstances. But since Brennan probably didn't have intentions of doing anything more interesting than arguing, Jesse would just as soon not waste the hot water.
"Since you damn near died once, and now you're apparently trying to kill yourself," Brennan snarled.
His eyes, Jesse noted absently, were nearly black with . . . well, he would have said rage, but unless he was mistaken, Mr. Mulwray had just checked him out. And hadn't looked all that displeased with what he saw. Even if Jesse was about to freeze to death in spite of the hot water pouring down the drain not a foot away.
"I just wanted a shower," Jesse said, not trying to look pitiful. Much. "I was feeling grungy."
Brennan didn't look impressed. "You couldn't have waited? I was only gone ten minutes."
Jesse raised an eyebrow, but didn't pursue the information that Brennan had been here before. While Jesse slept. Interesting though that was, Jesse did feel a little wiped out--okay, a lot wiped out--and the water wasn't getting any warmer. He wanted to finish his shower before it went completely cold on him.
"Well, you're here now, aren't you?" he said reasonably. "Why don't you just take a seat, if you want to watch that bad, and let me finish."
Brennan's eyes, if it were possible, went blacker. "How about I just join you? Make sure you don't fall and bust anything open."
It had to be the light-headedness, Jesse thought vaguely. Although that didn't explain Brennan.
"There's plenty of room," he agreed.
With a tiny smile that Jesse wasn't quite sure what to make of, Brennan helped him back into the shower.
"Don't fall over," Brennan warned softly, then started unbuttoning his shirt.
He wasn't exactly slow, but he wasn't rushing either. Jesse stared unabashedly, ready to blame recent injuries if Brennan called him on it--although how getting shot in the chest would explain his sudden desire to watch his teammate undress, he hadn't quite figured out. Brennan pulled off his wet shirt and dropped it in the sink, then unbuckled his belt, undid the buttons on his jeans, and slid them down just fast enough that Jesse's mouth didn't completely dry out. Off with the shoes, off with the jeans, and . . .
Damn it, the boxers were staying on. That wasn't fair. Although Brennan more than made up for it when he stepped into the shower and pulled Jesse back against him, taking some of Jesse's weight and giving him a center of balance. Jesse sighed, relaxing as the hot water hit him and started its pain-removing journey down his body once more.
He could feel Brennan shifting behind him. It was too much trouble to open his eyes, so he just let his friend move him slightly from side to side to reach whatever it was he was after. And then he felt what might just have been the best thing he'd ever felt in his life, a warm, soapy washcloth running lightly over his left shoulder, down his arm to slide between his fingers, then back up over his chest. The cloth skirted wide around his wound, ran over his right shoulder and arm, then Brennan pulled back to glide the cloth across his back.
"Hold on to the wall for a minute," Brennan said softly.
Jesse opened his eyes, reached out to catch the wall, and watched bemusedly as Brennan knelt down to wash his legs and feet. Jesse thought of the times he'd pictured Brennan in that position under different circumstances, and felt--mostly--grateful that he was apparently still too worn out to respond. Much. He wasn't real sure where Brennan was going with this, and it was kind of nice not to have his cock declare his feelings before he'd figured it out.
Then Brennan stood and pulled him back around to lean his own back against Brennan's chest. He ran his fingers slowly through Jesse's hair.
"Close your eyes," he said, his breath tickling Jesse's ear.
Jesse did as he was told, and in a moment felt cool liquid being combed through his hair, then as gently rinsed away. The hand continued stroking, though, and he could have stayed there, drifting slightly, pretty much forever. Except he shifted slightly, and realized that he did know where Brennan wanted to go with this after all.
His own cock suddenly remembered what it was there for as he felt Brennan's pressed against his ass, and he shifted again experimentally.
"Stop that," Brennan said. His voice was gratifyingly breathless, but he didn't sound like he was kidding.
"Why?" Jesse asked, doing the same wriggle he'd just done. Yep. That was definitely a gasp.
"Because I'm not a total sadist, you moron, and you're in no shape to be fucking someone in the shower."
"We could just jerk each other off," Jesse said reasonably. He started to wiggle again, but was thwarted by Brennan grabbing his hip firmly. So close, and yet so far, Jesse thought, and swallowed a giggle. No point in giving Brennan the wrong idea.
Brennan sighed, sounding decidedly exasperated. "My idea of hot and sexy somehow doesn't involve my partner passing out in my arms." He paused for a moment, but before Jesse could say anything, he added firmly, "From blood loss, Jesse."
"Oh." Jesse frowned. "I'm not going to pass out."
"Yeah, right." Brennan's hand moved from his hip to rest flat against his stomach, but the move was somehow more friendly than erotic. "Look, Jess, it's not like I'm not interested. As you can tell. But there will be other times when you're not fresh off three weeks in a sick bed."
"Other times?" Jesse said, then frowned again. "Three weeks?"
"Three," Brennan answered shortly. "And if you ever . . ."
His voice choked off as his arms tightened. Suddenly alarmed, Jesse wriggled around until he could see Brennan's face. His eyes were black again, but this time Jesse was sure it wasn't desire.
"Bren . . ."
Brennan pulled him close, for once not careful of the bulletholes, and Jesse felt his chest and back protest the tight hold. He stayed silent, though, his head resting against Brennan's shoulder as he felt his friend tremble.
"I thought you were dead," Brennan said finally, his voice calm again. "I couldn't get to you or that bastard on the roof without him shooting you first, I couldn't get any kind of angle on him to hit him with an electric bolt, and all the time I was waiting for Adam and Emma and Shal to get there, I kept thinking you had to be dead. I couldn't see how you could have lost so much blood and still be alive."
"I'm alive," Jesse said, wanting to reassure his friend even though it was obvious. Kind of needing the reassurance himself, as Brennan's words brought back pain and fear and the stink of an alley he wasn't sure he'd ever get out of.
"I know." Brennan's grip loosened slightly, shifted so that the fingers of one hand threaded through Jesse's hair. "I wanted to get to you sooner, Jess. There was just no way. I tried."
"I know," Jesse said, pressing his own hands against Brennan's back as if he could force that truth in. "I knew you were there. I knew it all along."
They stood silently for a long moment as Brennan's trembling eased and the water grew cooler. Jesse had rested most of his weight against Brennan, but he was still beginning to feel oddly heavy, his chest and back aching in time to his heart's beat. He hated giving up this moment, but . . .
"You know that passing out thing you mentioned?"
There was a pause. "Bed?"
In a dizzyingly short time, Jesse was out of the shower, dried off, and tucked into bed. He was feeling warm and nicely drowsy, a shot had taken care of the throbbing in his chest, and Brennan seemed remarkably content for a man who probably still had a raging hard-on. Unless, Jesse mused sleepily, he'd managed to lose some time in there and Brennan had popped back into the bathroom to take care of it. In which case, it wasn't fair and Jesse would have to remember to be irritated with him in the morning, when he could hold a thought in his head for more than two minutes at a time.
Brennan sat now on the side of the bed, watching him through eyes that had lost their disturbing darkness. A thought drifted through Jesse's mind and actually managed to latch on to something long enough for him to study it for a moment.
"You said other times."
Brennan grinned. "I did."
Jesse gave him a sharp look. Well, tried. It was remarkably hard to skewer someone with your gaze when your eyes didn't want to stay open. "Times. That's plural. More than one."
"Go to sleep, Jess."
"I just wanna know . . ."
And as much as he didn't want to, he couldn't help it any longer. He thought, though, as he was drifting off, that he felt Brennan's lips press gently against his.
It was good, knowing Brennan was there.