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Acceptance
by
TalithaX
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Rating: NC-17, occasional rude words

Status: At the moment complete, don't quote me but may possibly turn into a series.

Archive: Yes to WWOMB, anywhere else please just let me know

Feedback: Would increase the possibility of it growing into a series.

Disclaimers: Borrowed from Tribune Entertainment

Notes: Self beta'd. Narrated by Brennan.

Summary: Brennan's new to Mutant X and he has to come to terms with his conflicting emotions towards Jesse.

*****

I find him exactly where I expected to. Not, I hasten to add, that I'm looking for him.

God no.

I'm just killing time by wandering around aimlessly. You know, minding my own business, getting a feel for my new digs, that sort of thing. If I'd actually been looking for him -- which I so wasn't -- I would have said something by now instead of just standing here flat-footed and completely clueless in respect to what it is I think I'm doing.

Not that I'm doing anything in particular or, for that matter, even have plans for doing anything particular. I mean, as if. We may be equals in Adam's eyes, and for the sake of the team we most likely are in terms of our skills and suchlike, but I know my place. What's more it's a place I'm more than content with, thank you very much.

"Whatcha doin' Jess? Downloadin' porn again?"

I speak, shattering the silence and scoring myself a startled glance in the process, without thinking.

"You know, I'm beginning to believe you all but live in this chair," I continue, opening my mouth and issuing forth with crap for no other real reason than I can. "Hate to say this, but, well, have you ever contemplated getting a life? While Internet porn is all well and good I think even you'd be able to score some of the real thing."

Blue eyes look at me impassively before flicking back to the computer screen. I feel as though I've just been dismissed. "Are you wanting to use the terminal?" he asks mildly.

I pretty much call him a loser and he reacts by asking me a polite question? Yeah. Right. Of course. Silly me.

"If you want it, just say. What I'm doing can wait." Another glance, this time through downcast eyes, like I'm not even worthy of looking at.

Damn him. Stuck up yuppie.

Drawing myself up to my full, far superior height, I snort dismissively and stride past him. "I have better things to do with my time," I state arrogantly, realising too late that I should have added a snide sounding 'thanks for the magnanimous offer though' to the end.

Damn. Again. He throws me. I can't help it. Sneaking a glance behind me, I find him looking at me, a curious expression on his face. Not knowing him well enough to be able to read him, part of me thinks he looks oddly hurt, like my presence has somehow wounded him.

Or disgusted him. It's hard to tell. Different class. Different league. Different fucking universe.

I turn around quickly, hoping my expression doesn't mirror his and feeling the sudden urge to go and find the others. At least with Shalimar and Emma I know where I stand.

~*~

Without warning, hell I hadn't even known she was back at Sanctuary let alone in the room, Shalimar lands in my lap, her legs straddling me, her face barely centimetres from mine. Literally. One second I'm resting a book -- that I've studiously been pretending to read for the past thirty or so minutes -- in my lap and the next it's been replaced Shalimar. One thing's for sure, I'm glad I've got good nerves. If I didn't I suspect Adam would be needing to pay someone to scrape me off the ceiling. Either that or be in need of a good defibrillator.

"God Shal," I mutter, struggling to get my breath, the breath she just pushed out of me, back. "Give a man a heart attack why don't you."

Shalimar grins, clearly not all bothered by her somewhat unusual method of getting my attention. "Look, if you must, but don't even think of touching," she comments, flicking her hair in my face as she glances over her shoulder towards the Dojo. "Trust me Bren, I say this as a friend."

"Huh?" I grunt, leaning back so as to avoid getting a mouthful of hair. "What are you talking about? I'm just sitting here having a read." Well... That's what I had been doing until, oblivious to the fact that I was here, Jesse decided to drag himself away from his beloved computer to work out in the Dojo. Then, yeah, okay, the written word suddenly became a hell of a lot less compelling.

I tried to ignore him. Honest. Cross my heart and hope to die and all that. What can I say though? I'm male... and I'm quite partial to other males... and he's not exactly unpleasant to look at... and...

Well? What was I supposed to do? There's no harm in looking. It's not like I'm stupid or deluded enough to get ideas above my station.

"You know exactly what I'm talking about," Shalimar replies, her gaze serious as she momentarily stares into my eyes before effortlessly bounding off me. "Take my advice and don't even think it."

"Yeah, yeah," I sigh, knowing there's nothing to be gained from continuing to play ignorant. Shalimar may not be Psionic but I swear she can already read me like a book. "Like I don't know he's in an entirely different league to me."

Shalimar shakes her head. "It's not that."

"No?" Could have fooled me. Although I've been here for weeks now we still skate around each other, our interactions taking place only out of necessity and never lasting any longer than they absolutely have to. Mind you, I think we're both to blame for this state of affairs. I avoid him. He avoids me. I know my reasons and reckon I could take a good guess at his.

"No. It's more that I don't want to have to hurt you," Shalimar states solemnly.

Okay. This is just getting stranger and stranger by the second. When Adam said there's never a dull moment around here he obviously meant it. "Excuse me?"

"Mmm... Let me put it to you simply Bren, you ever hurt Jesse and I eviscerate you. Full stop. End of story. It's not that I don't like you, I do, it's just that Jess comes first. If you knew him like I do you'd understand."

I nod numbly, there being no doubt in my mind that she means it too. "Uh-huh," I mumble, deciding against adding that she really doesn't have anything to worry about. "Got it."

"Knew you'd understand," Shalimar smiles, ruffling my hair before, her piece said, bouncing off. I watch her until she disappears around a corner. Turning back, ostensibly to continue reading my book, I find Jesse sitting on the steps of the Dojo. Unless I'm mistaken he's looking straight at me, his expression an odd combination of interest and, unless I'm mistaken, pain. I stare back, mentally berating myself for the thoughts going through my head.

Blushing, he looks away first.

~*~

One... Two...

Fuck it.

Far too many to be considered fair odds.

We're screwed. Oh boy are we screwed.

"Ever get the feeling we've been set up?"

Go Jess. The first time he opens his mouth since leaving Sanctuary in the Helix he has to state the freakin' obvious. Maybe I'm just narky because of the wall of GSA goons standing in front of me, but... Sheesh. Money and brains obviously don't go hand in hand then.

"No shit, Sherlock," I grind out exasperatedly as, suddenly, it's on for one and all.

Ten against two? Oh yeah. Bring it on. Trust Eckhart to know I'd just been hanging out to have shit kicked out of me this afternoon.

Not.

Behind the eight ball from the very get go, the fight is neither graceful nor even. To my extreme disgust I take as many as I dish out. Too focussed on going down kicking, I don't have time to see how Jesse's faring and can only hope that they haven't captured him already. When the bullets start flying I get my answer.

Shit. Now is so not a good time for my knees to come over all dithery. Near misses and me do not get on well. Never have, never will.

If not for the massed body suddenly materialising in front me I'd have been history. Just another GSA statistic. No question about it. Whatever we've done to piss off Eckhart must be serious if he's authorising deathly force.

Demassing as the goon pauses to reload, Jesse spins around and grabs my arm. "Let's get the hell out of here," he states agitatedly, pushing his sweat-dampened fringe out of his eyes and pulling at me to follow him.

"Reckon that's the most intelligent thing I've ever heard you say," I retort, shaking off his grip on my arm and taking off at run. The Helix not being an option thanks to the GSA rock-apes blocking the stairs that lead to the roof, we make our way out of the warehouse, goons and bullets in hot pursuit.

While not usually a fan of SUVs the black one that no doubts belongs to the GSA that's sitting in the carpark is like a sight for sore eyes. Spotting the vehicle at the same time as I do, Jess makes a beeline for it. Sparking up, which is well and truly a learned art while running for your life, I yell at him to get out of the way, that I need to unlock the doors. When he doesn't and remains directly in my path I almost zap him anyway.

"What the hell do you think you're playing..."

Oh.

Smart ass.

Why waste electricity when you can just phase through the door and unlock it that way...

By the time I'm scrabbling into the backseat he's already got the SUV hotwired and, tyres squealing, we're moving even before I've had time to pull the door shut. Ten minutes later -- during which time I've learnt first hand just how painful it is to have car door handles sticking into places that they've got no right to be courtesy of being thrown all around the backseat -- our pursuers give up, meaning Jesse's able to pull over and I'm able to untangle myself from my coat and drag myself into a sitting position.

"Nice moves," I mutter, smoothing down my hair and using the rear vision mirror to glower at Jess. "I didn't think they taught hotwiring and how to drive a getaway car at the poncy school you went to." The words, like so many times before, exit my mouth without seeking approval from my brain.

Cold blue eyes meet mine in the rear vision mirror.

"It was actually because I was so busy with those two classes that I failed the course on how to deal with assholes."

Okay. So maybe I deserved that.

~*~

Now this, this is more like it. Simulations I can deal with. The adrenaline and the moves required are the same; it's just the all-important risk factor that's different.

Practice, practice, practice. Can't get enough of it. After last week's debacle with the GSA agents in the warehouse I know now that I never want to be on the side that stands a chance of losing ever again. And... Fine. Just perhaps my moves aren't as shit hot as I've always thought they were. I prefer to think of it along the lines of I was just having a bad day but, well, practice never hurt anyone. Hell, some mental genius even once said that it makes perfect.

Ha! Take that you piece of simulation scum!

And you!

And...

Hey. Where'd they go?

Annoyed that someone dare interrupt my playtime, I whirl around, all set to complain. When I see Jesse walking up the steps of the Dojo my vitriol gives way to a sigh. Now what? Another reason I like working out here is because it gives me some quality time on my own. Away from, like, distractions.

"What do you want?" I mutter querulously, wiping sweat from my forehead with the back of my hand and wanting to get back to the sims.

"Adam says that we need to train together," he replies flatly, not bothering with eye contact. "So, here I am."

I snort derisively and shake my head. "No way. Adam's got rocks in his head if he thinks we should train together. Sorry Jess, but it wouldn't be a fair fight."

My arrogance, not surprisingly, earns me a sour look. "I can look after myself," Jesse scowls, narrowing his eyes and folding his arms across his chest. Sour and defensive. Wow. I think I've just pushed me some buttons.

"I'm sure you can, but..." Trailing off, I shrug. "I don't want to hurt you."

"Fuck you Brennan."

"Oi!"

"Let's fight."

Fine. Whatever. "Don't say I didn't warn you."

"Just remember that when I'm having to help you off the floor."

"Tough words for a pipsqueak."

I tell myself the blow he responds with only reached its target because I let it.

The fight that follows, to my considerable surprise, is a good one. It's almost, not that I'm exactly in a hurry to admit this verbally, a fairly even one. My confidence in Jesse's abilities growing, I give up any pretence of holding back and throw myself fully into the fight. A second later it's all over, a far too forceful kick to the chest sending Jesse sprawling to the mats. When he doesn't immediately get to his feet, and stares at me with a wounded expression on his suddenly pale face, any sense of victory deserts me and I start to feel dreadful.

"Hey, Jess... Shit... I'm sor..."

"Leave it," Shalimar snaps, cutting me off as, materialising once again out of thin air, she bounds up the steps to help Jesse. "I think you've done enough, don't you?"

Knowing when I'm not wanted, I grab my towel and trudge down the steps. Emma's waiting at the bottom, her eyes wide.

"I didn't mean to," I sigh miserably. "I... Shit. I never meant to hurt him."

Emma puts her hand on my arm. "I know you didn't," she murmurs simply. "Now, c'mon, let's get you out of here before Shalimar comes back down to sort you out."

Oh well. I suppose not being hated by one out of three is better than nothing.

~*~

Okay. I can do this. Uh-huh. I'm not procrastinating. No sir.

I'm just being silly, that's all. And, yeah, there's a difference. Maybe. Or maybe, and I suspect this is more like it, I'm just being pathetic. I mean, what's he going to do, bite me?

Actually...

Ahem. There's no help for it. I have a dirty mind.

Enough is enough! There's a fine line between loitering with intent and just lurking like a sad loser. I should know because I'm currently staring said line intently in the face.

Taking a deep breath for luck, I straighten my back and, before nerves get the better of me, knock on his door.

"Come in."

Damn! So much for hoping I'd waited long enough for him to be asleep already.

Plastering what I sincerely hope to be a contrite expression on my face, I hesitantly open the door and step into his room. It's the first time, despite having been calling Sanctuary home for the past six week, I've been in here. My first thought, before I see him and momentary regress to the age-old male custom of thinking with my cock, is that the room barely looks lived in. Compared to mine with its clothes, books, and other accumulated junk that I can't bear the thought of living without scattered everywhere, it looks like an advertisement for a stylish motel. Clean lines, pale colours, not so much as a cushion out of place, it's impersonal to the extreme. A framed photograph of a small boy who could only be Jess and an older man I assume to be his father sits on the desk, but even that's half hidden behind the flat screen of the computer monitor.

My inventory of his room complete, I turn my attention to Jesse himself. Sitting on the bed, a magazine spread out in front of him, he's wearing what looks for all the world like a pair of pyjamas. Pyjamas! My God. I didn't think anyone other than geriatrics and hospital patients wore pyjamas. Mind you... Given how good they look, black silk, the top unbuttoned and hanging open, I suddenly feel as though I may have to rethink my position in respect to the whole pyjama issue. The only thing marring the picture is the livid bruise on his chest, the bruise I caused.

Oh boy though.

Is it just me or has the temperature suddenly risen in here?

"Brennan."

"I..." Blasted cat's got my tongue again.

"Is there something I can help you with?"

My no doubt dazed and quite possibly lusty expression getting to him, Jess surreptitiously pulls his top closed, his eyes watching me warily.

I nod, forcefully telling myself to get a fucking grip. "About... ah... earlier, I'm sorry, okay? I didn't mean to hurt you and I just want you to know that I'm sorry."

Woo-hoo! I did it. Go me.

Jesse shrugs dismissively. "It's okay. There's nothing to apologise for. I wasn't focused enough and I paid the price."

"I'm still sorry though," I repeat, smiling wanly. "It won't happen again."

"I don't mind if it does," Jesse murmurs dully, avoiding my gaze and looking down at his magazine. "I'm not saying I'm into having my ass kicked but I'm willing to risk it if you're prepared to take me seriously again."

What the?

"Jess... I..."

"Goodnight Brennan."

In other words, thanks for stopping by but you can go now. No. Really. Just go.

Fine. Whatever. I've said what I wanted to anyway.

"Night Jess."

I walk out of his room even more confused than I entered it. Oddly enough it doesn't even surprise me.

~*~

When the knock on my door comes for all of a split second I kid myself that it's Jesse. Stranger things have, after all, happened.

Just not tonight however.

"Hey, Shal," I smile with as much forced cheer as I can muster. Here we go. If she's going to eviscerate me I hope she does it quickly. Obviously she's missed the point that there's a reason I've been avoiding her ever since the 'accident' in the Dojo. "What's up?"

"We need to talk," Shalimar replies, calmly crawling onto the mattress and stretching out alongside me. Within seconds she's perfectly settled and looking as though she's been lying there for hours. I take the fact that she hasn't lashed out at me yet as a good sign.

Long may it last too.

"Mmm?" The fact that she's lying on my book doesn't seem to be bothering her in the slightest. I wonder if she even knows it's under her. "What do we need to talk about?"

Like I need to ask.

"Jesse."

He shoots, he scores!

"There's no need. I didn't mean to hurt him like I did and I've already apologised. It won't happen again, Shal, I promise."

"That's not what I want to talk about."

"No?" Oh-oh. Now why don't I like the sound of this? If Emma's been reading me I don't think I want to know about it.

"No."

This is both going nowhere fast and going to get old very quickly. "C'mon Shal, spit it out. I'm a big boy. Whatever you want to say to me I can take."

I hope.

Shalimar blinks at me slowly, a look of amusement crossing her face. While I know she's the cat I'm suddenly left with the feeling that I'm currently playing the role of the mouse. It's not really what you'd call a pleasant feeling. "Sure you're ready for this?" she teases.

I sigh. "Very ready. Now, c'mon, let's have it so I can go back to my book."

"Have it your way," Shalimar replies, stretching languidly before fixing me with a look that clearly says what she's about to say is deadly serious. "Listen up, Bren. I'm only going to have this talk with you once and I want you to know that I'm here not because I want to interfere but because I take the life's of the people here -- and this includes you -- very personally. While not in blood, you are all my family. I love you and my instinct is to protect you. If you're hurting, I'm hurting. Having known him the longest, this goes double for Jess. It's just how it is."

"As I've already said, I'll be more careful next time. It was an accident, one I feel awful about." Christ. What more does she want me to say?

"It's not what happened in the Dojo that I want to talk about," Shalimar murmurs, reaching out and lightly touching my arm. To the casual observer we'd probably look like lovers. "It's Jesse. I want to tell you what I know about him in the hope it'll make things easier for the pair of you."

"Huh?" Where'd that come from? We may not be bestest buddies but we're not exactly sworn enemies either. Our relationship is like Jesse's room, uncluttered and impersonal. "I don't understand."

Shalimar sighs and rolls her eyes. "I didn't expect you too. You're too busy quashing how you feel and keeping him at arms length too see it. Same goes for Jess. While I hadn't thought it originally, you two make a good pair."

Help. This is just getting stranger and stranger.

"Excuse me? Hate to break this to you Shal, but you're not exactly making a lot of sense here," I mutter, sounding, even too my own ears, just a tad defensive. "Jess is a team mate, someone whom, although I don't have a lot in common with, I respect. We may not always see eye to eye but that doesn't mean we have issues with each other."

Oh, and by the way, although he's far out of my league and would never lower himself to fraternise with someone of my level, I think he's exquisite and would love to get my blue-collar hands on his very well put together body.

Oddly enough, true though it is, I decide to keep this particular side of the story to myself. Self-preservation, you know how it is.

"You don't think you have issues?" Shalimar snorts. "Wake up to yourself, Bren. You've been with us for what, six weeks now, and you and Jess are still skating around each other. Sure you work together, if Adam decrees it, and, no, you don't fight but, come on! What gives? If you've got a problem with him then I think it's better for all of us if you just come out and say it."

"I don't have a problem with him, Shal, and I'm sorry if you think I do." I'm also somewhat sorry that we're having this conversation, but there you go. Win some, lose some. "For what it's worth, I don't doubt Jess' abilities for a second. He's very good at what he does. Hell, I trust him with my back, okay. We're good. Trust me."

"Then why aren't you friends?"

"We are..." Sorta. Kinda.

"Are not!" Shalimar exclaims, shaking her head. "Despite living under the same roof you're little more than acquaintances. I doubt you've even ever had a proper conversation. Tell me Bren, what do you know about Jesse? Oh... And if you tell me he's a Molecular I'm going to punch you."

It goes without saying that I believe it too. What do I know about Jesse? Christ. Good question. Um... Attractive. Lithe. Looks equally as good in pyjamas as he does covered in sweat. Has a voice that is capable of doing funny thing to my insides.

"Er... His family are loaded?"

Fact of life - just 'cos I'm thinking it doesn't mean I'm in a big rush to say it.

Shalimar arches an eyebrow. "And?"

"You know Shal, no offence, but I really don't know why we're having this little chat."

"And?"

Well I'm glad to see my little attempt at wriggling away from this failed spectacularly.

"Okay. Fine. You win. I don't know anything about Jesse. Wanna know why it is that I don't know anything about him, huh? News flash, Shal. We. Have. Nothing. In. Common. Him poor little rich boy while me lowlife street scum. Got it? Never the twain shall meet and all that bullshit."

There. I've said it. And, no, I don't feel any better for having got it off my chest.

Shalimar shakes her head again and smiles. "For a dreadful second there I thought I was going to have to reach for a tissue -- which I can't help but note are kept close to the bed here -- 'cos your little tale of hard done by woe was tugging so greatly at my heart strings." Pausing, her smile gives way to a fully-fledged grin. "Hate to break this to you Bren, but you don't half talk some crap at times. So Jess is loaded, what of it? Have you ever seen him lord it over any of us?"

"Nooo..."

"Has he ever made a malicious point of referring to your less than shining past?"

God help me. I feel like pouting. "No..."

"So in other words you've got this bee in your bonnet that just because he's got access to more money than the rest of us can hope to see in a lifetime he somehow thinks he's superior to you," Shalimar murmurs drily. "Have I got it right?"

"You don't understand," I mumble. "We're just two entirely different people. Dominant chromosome and new mutant abilities aside we have nothing in common. Again, it's not an issue. You know, we can work together without having to be back slapping buddies."

"Betcha wouldn't push him outta bed if he just happened to find himself there," Shal retorts, her eyes twinkling as she watches me blush and twitch. "Interesting reaction there, Bren. Wish I had a camera with me."

"Is this going somewhere?" I grind out, idly wondering how pissed off Adam would be with me if I suddenly shorted Sanctuary's fuses. Right now I could really do with a spot of pitch-black darkness.

Shalimar laughs. "Yet again I'm struck by how similar the pair of you are."

"Don't tell me, let me guess, you've had this particular gem of a chat with Jess as well? Wow. Lucky boy. How'd he take it?"

"I'm talking to you, not Jess. He doesn't know I'm here. And, while I'm at it, I'd appreciate you not telling him about our little chat either," Shal replies flatly, her expression once again turning serious. "To put it bluntly Brennan, what I want from you is to wake up to yourself. Your issue with Jess not wanting to associate with an ex-crim like yourself is bullshit and you know it. If you got off your misguided moral high horse and gave him a chance you'd realise that you don't need a hundred and one things in common to be friends. Give him the time of day, talk to him. Even if you don't become friends it might give you the opportunity to work though some of the unresolved sexual tension you're both generating at a great rate of knots. It's getting to the point where Emma can't be in a room with the pair of you without blushing. Don't tell me you haven't freakin' noticed?"

Um... Ah... Oh dear God. I hadn't freakin' noticed.

Hang on. Stop. Rewind. Did she just say 'you're both generating'? Both as in the two of us?

All of a sudden this conversation has just become a hell of a lot more interesting. Not, mind you, that I'm going to let on.

"I have no idea what you're talking about," I mutter, managing to inject just the right amount of huffiness into my voice. "You been getting at the catnip again, Shal? Not content with wanting to ensure that we're friends you're now wanting to get us into bed together? What happened to making me wear my entrails around my neck if I hurt him? I know it's a female prerogative and all that but I wish you'd make your mind up here."

Shalimar narrows her eyes and fixes me with a look that would make the Artic seem like the holiday destination for fun in the sun. "Pull your head in, Bren," she states softly. "I'm not here to play verbal games with you. Believe it or not I do have better things to do with my time." Pausing, she sits up and shrugs nonchalantly. "In answer to your question though, I don't think you have it in you to hurt him. Not intentionally anyway. Don't forget I've had a further three weeks of keeping an eye on you since that promise. Besides, as you say, female prerogative. If I want to change my mind I will and you just have to deal with it."

Help. I'm beginning to feel as though I've just woken up in a world being directed by David Lynch. Hello Eraserhead. Hello Laura Palmer. If either of you can help me I'm looking for the White Rabbit to take me home again.

"Okay, Shal. Fine. You win," I sigh, sitting up and running my fingers through my hair. "I accept that as a male I can be slow on the uptake but, for God's sake, will you just get to the freakin' point here? Just when I'm thinking you're wanting me and Jess to friends you suddenly veer entirely off course and, forgive me if I'm wrong here, start on about us becoming lovers. I mean, huh? Do you have any idea how much you're confusing the hell out of me?"

"If I'd known it was going to be this difficult I never would have bothered," Shalimar murmurs, rolling her eyes. "Fine though, whatever, if it's the nitty-gritty you want then it's the nitty-gritty you'll get. How does that sound?"

"Just peachy," I smirk. "Now, the floor's all yours. Nitty-gritty away. I'm all ears."

Shalimar nods, her gaze never leaving me and once again giving me the impression of being some form of hunted rodent. "Okay, here's the condensed version for your benefit. Although you hardly talk to him, peer down your nose at him when you're stuck together, and entertain delusions that he views you as little more than street scum, you've got the hots for Jess." She wags her finger at me as my mouth drops open in amazement. "Don't feign shock Bren, it doesn't suit you. In fact it makes you look kinda simple. Oh, and don't deny the attraction thing either. Emma senses it and, although I wish I couldn't, I can smell it."

"I..."

"Can it Bren."

Okay.

"Now, where was I? Ah, that's right, I'd sorted you out and was up to Jess. For reasons best known to himself, and despite the crappy way you treat him, Jess feels the same way about you."

And Mason Eckhart's going to be the latest Calvin Klein underwear model.

"There's no way..."

"What did I just say?"

"Can it."

"So do it."

"Yes ma'am."

"Watch it Brennan, I'm not in the mood."

"There's no way Jess would be interested in me. Think about it, Shal. You have to be imagining things."

Round and round the Mulberry Bush we go.

"I know Jess and I know he's interested. As for why? You'd have to ask him for the specifics but I think I can hazard a guess."

"Mmm? Go on. Astonish me."

"You're -- and I swear if you smirk at this or puff your chest up with macho pride I'm going to slap you -- good looking and, stupid class issues aside, you're like him, a new mutant fighting for the rights of other new mutants. You know what he is, Bren. He doesn't have to hide himself from you. You're also, despite your stupid posturing, inherently kind. I trust you and it's because I trust you that I'm willing to trust you with Jess."

"I..." The damn tongue kidnapping cat's back again.

"Don't." Shalimar shakes her head. "Don't say a word. I'm nearly finished and soon I'll leave you in peace. You're right about one thing though, Jess is different to you. He's also different to all of us. He feels things so keenly that sometimes I think he was meant to be Psionic. Unlike the rest of us cynics he wants to believe the best in people. Because of this people try to use him as a doormat. He's also easily hurt, the heart he wears on his sleeve being too open to knocks. I've lost count of the people who have hurt him in some way. I think however, assuming of course you wake up and smell the coffee, that you could be good for him. Hell, that the pair of you'd be good together. Give him an inch Bren, and he'll give you back a mile. The ball's in your court though. He'll never make the first move so it's up to you. I'm not saying go jump him, in fact if I were you I wouldn't even contemplate it, but I am saying that you should at least consider making a move towards friendship. Let's face it, what have you got to lose?"

I stare at Shal as the imaginary aroma of freshly brewed coffee well and truly assails my olfactory senses. While I'm still not buying the whole returned attraction thing I can at least say that, yeah, the class thing may not be such a big deal after all. We're here now. The past, I suppose, doesn't really have to matter.

"Nothing... I've got nothing to lose." I whisper this more to myself than to Shal.

Grinning, Shalimar bounds off the bed, her lecture for the evening over and done with. "You know Bren, maybe you're not so stupid after all."

I decide to take that as a compliment.

~*~

Believing Shalimar's little heart-to-heart as being the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth is one thing. Actually extending the olive branch of tentative friendship is, however, another thing entirely. Four days have passed since her up close and personal chat and I'm still no closer to making any inroads with Jess. If by chance Shalimar took the time out to say anything to him he's doing one hell of a good job hiding it.

What I have noticed though is that, yeah, Emma is prone to blushing and stuttering when she's in a confined space with the pair of us. This in turn gives credence to Shal's theory of Jess liking me.

Which... Yeah... Er...

It's all just kinda on the surreal side.

Do I want it to be true? Oh shit yeah. Not to be delicate about it or anything.

Is she right in that -- although I've been unwilling to admit it to myself -- I do actually fancy him? Again, oh yeah. I want him. No doubt about it. Not wanting to overstretch myself I'd even settle for being his friend. If nothing else it's a start in the right direction.

A start that I keep baulking at.

Every time I go to say something nice he looks at me warily, his expression a mixture of caution and hope, and I just choke. What if Shalimar's wrong and I unintentionally hurt him? She wouldn't even have to teach me the error of my ways as I wouldn't be able to live with myself. It's not his background that makes Jess shine, it's just how he is. Money plays no part in his genetic makeup. I look back on my misguided ideals for the past six weeks and feel ashamed. It would serve me right if he cut his losses and simply decided I wasn't worth the effort.

Not that I want to give him the chance of reaching this particular conclusion.

Once again, enough is enough! The time has come and all that. Contrary to the way Shalimar's capable of making me feel, I'm a man not a mouse!

It's with this thought in mind that I stride up to the computer terminal, my heart beating a nervous tattoo in my chest...

He looks up at me, the familiar expression on his face.

"Hey Jess, I'm going to workout in the Dojo. Do you wanna join me when you've finished whatever it is you're doing?"

"Sounds good."

The shy smile that accompanies his response delights me in a way that is really quite sad and pathetic. "See you when you're ready then."

There's a spring in my step as I walk away.

Perhaps even a song in the air.

Nah. Too soppy. Think I'll just settle for the springy step.

Either way though, things, I think, are suddenly looking up.

~*~

I'm bored.

There's just no other way of looking at it.

Sure, I appreciate the whole 'it's for your own good argument' but, sheesh... A couple of hours I can just about handle. The whole freakin' night though? Give me a break. I don't even have anything to read. Given the effect boredom has on me I think I'd rather be out there trying my luck against the insane power chomping Elemental that's out there causing havoc at the moment. Risking possible pain and death versus slowly going out of my mind with boredom? There's no competition. Bring on the risk factor, baby.

It's just a shame Adam doesn't share my point of view.

"Shut up. Stop whinging. Sit tight and think happy thoughts. We're working on it."

He then discontinued the link and implemented manual lockdown on the safe house before I so much as had time to open my mouth. Rat in a trap had nothing on it. Bored and trapped. Honestly, I have no idea how come I'm so lucky.

Sighing dejectedly, I stop pacing and turn my attention to Jess. Much to my considerable annoyance he's asleep on the sofa. Okay. Not really annoyance, more envy. I'd love to sleep but, no matter how hard I try to nod off, just can't. Lying awake, staring at the ceiling is even worse than the relentless pacing. I can't even use the computers because the safe house is offline and operating on emergency power only. I'd wake Jess only that'd be selfish. It's not his fault he was able to doze off.

Do I need to repeat that I really don't do boredom well?

Slumping down in the chair opposite the sofa, I sigh again and stretch my legs out in front of me. If Shal and Emma are unsuccessful in tracking the rogue Elemental tonight then, God help me, I'm breaking free of this place. To hell with my best interests. It's just not fair. Why couldn't he have flipped out while I was at Sanctuary. I could handle being stuck there. But, oh no, he had to wait until Jess and I were out and about checking out the safe houses. Of course he freakin' did. Bastard.

There not exactly being a lot of options open to me, I settle back and watch Jess sleep. He looks so peaceful that I can't help but smile. Damn do I want him bad. It's a pity that we're still in the tentative stages of becoming friends otherwise I could think of quite a few pleasurable ways we could kill time together.

Oh...

Now is neither the time nor the place to think such thoughts. If he woke up and found me...

Oh God. Let's just not go there.

Um...

Think unpleasant thoughts. Think unpleasant thoughts.

Eckhart in a g-string.

Oh yeah. That did it. And how. Quicker than a cold shower any day.

My blood flow back under control, I repress a shudder and go back to watching Jesse, my mind dragged kicking and screaming from below my belt. While not really the sort of thing you'd want to brag about, we haven't argued or glowered at each other for over a week now. Albeit slowly, things are going well. And, yeah, life's certainly better off for it. Hey, when he smiles at me now it reaches his eyes. Okay, so perhaps I need to get out more, but every time he smiles thrills me. I look back on my early attitude and quite frankly feel disgusted with myself. I judged him solely on his background when I had absolutely no right to. Christ. If his mind operated the way mine does we'd have been screwed before we even started.

Bored.

My kingdom... Okay. So I don't exactly have a kingdom. Fine. My poetry collection for something to take my mind off this infernal boredom!

Shit. I take it back.

Jesse having a nightmare wasn't really what I had in mind. Damn! I didn't even know he had nightmares.

Bounding up, I quickly make my way over to him and gently place my hand on his shoulder. "Hey... Hey Jess, wake up. It's just a nightmare. You're safe, everything's okay," I murmur as, gasping, he snaps to consciousness. Too bright blue eyes blink at me before, pushing himself up into a more upright position, he glances away. I could take my hand away but don't, choosing to leave it there as I take a seat on the sofa next to him. "You okay?"

"Peachy."

Ask a dumb question, get a dumb answer.

"Wanna talk about it?"

If in doubt, try again.

"No."

"Okay."

Don't however push your luck.

Sighing, Jess relaxes against the back of the sofa. He makes no attempt to shake off my hand. "I'm fine," he whispers, tilting his head back and staring at the ceiling. "I'm sorry, okay. I didn't mean to wake or concern you."

"There's nothing to apologise for," I reply matter-of-factly, "and I don't want you to think that there is. For what it's worth I wasn't asleep and, anyway, I'm used to nightmares."

"You have them too?"

"No..." Now what? Do I tell the truth or just kill the conversation dead? Oh, what the hell. It's not like I have anything better to do with my time. "My mom used to have them and I used to have to wake her up and look after her."

"Oh." Jess glances at me, his expression one of compassion. "I thought your mom died..."

"When I was ten, yeah. I suppose you could say I had to grow up pretty fast. She tried her best but she was never really able to cope with the loss of my father. The doctors put her on just about every happy pill imaginable but none of them ever managed to stop the nightmares. God Jess, they just tore her apart, you know. The way she used to scream and cry..." Unable to continue, I trail off, the memories suddenly too painful.

"I'm sorry," Jess whispers, placing his hand on my knee, squeezing it. "For both of you. It can't have been easy."

"It wasn't," I murmur, shrugging wearily, "but we, well, up until the cancer came along, managed to survive. Besides, it's in the past, a long time ago. I only told you because I don't want you to be ashamed of having nightmares. They're not your fault and you don't ever have to suffer them alone."

Jess nods, accepting unquestioningly my need for a change of topic. "I haven't had one for ages," he replies dully. "Silly me, I thought I was finally over them. Apparently not though, huh."

"Are you sure you don't want to talk about it? Maybe I can help." You never know if you never ask, right?

"With what? Replacing my childhood with a happy one?"

"Oh..." Help. I don't know what to say. "I'm... ah... sorry. I didn't know."

"There was no reason you should have," Jess mumbles. "It's not something I feel compelled to share, you know. Not to mention most would find it hard to believe anyway. Let's face it, even you think having money automatically equates to happiness."

"You telling me it doesn't?" I murmur, embarrassed at how clearly he's read me. "Look Jess, you don't have to talk about it. Not if you don't want to."

"You told me about your mother."

"Because I chose to. If you don't want to then..."

"It's okay, Bren, I don't mind," he interrupts flatly. "Maybe money can buy happiness. Maybe it could have even paid for a cure for your mom. I don't know. What I do know however is that it can buy both others willing to do your dirty work and selective blindness. My parents were used to getting what they wanted and it goes without saying that they wanted a perfect baby. When it became clear that I was far from perfect, that I wasn't even normal, they all but washed their hands of me. If not for the all important happy family photo shoots for the media I think they would have simply got rid of me."

"Jess, I..."

Jesse shakes his head. "Please Brennan, let me finish." When I nod my acquiescence he continues, his voice never rising above a whisper. "Because I didn't fit their picture of the perfect son they let the staff look after me. Some were better than others. Some were even kind, others though all but crossed themselves before coming anywhere near me. One in particular I swear hated me. I have no idea why. I was never any trouble, you know. I did as I was told, when I was told. If not for the fact I was freak I would have been the perfect child." Pausing, he flinches. "John though... He had it in me for me from the very beginning. He was supposed to be my tutor but all he ever taught me was fear. Loneliness and misery I was used to, but he added terror and nightmares into the hell as well. It's because of him that I'm claustrophobic, why my greatest fear is being trapped in an enclosed space like a coffin or a pod. Get this, whenever he felt like it he used to lock me in a closet and just leave me there for hours. Even though I could have phased through it and escaped, I stayed put, convinced that he'd live up to his threat to tell my parents that I'd been misbehaving. One day he forgot about me and I fell asleep. I was missing for so long that my mother called the police. When they got there they found me in the closet and laughed it off. My parents weren't amused though. Believe it or not they even told me off for not phasing through the cupboard. The next year I campaigned successfully to be sent off to boarding school. As I suspect you can imagine though, the damage had already been done. I thought I'd be able to make friends at school but, because I had to have my own room because of the nightmares, I still wasn't accepted. Until I met Adam I thought I was just going to have them every night for the rest of my pitiful existence."

His tale finished, Jess slumps against me with a deep, shuddery breath. "There you have it. Now you know why I sometimes have nightmares and why having money isn't all that it's cracked up to be."

"Shit, Jess, I'm so sorry," I murmur, placing my arm around his shoulders and hugging him to me. "I... I had no idea." All of a sudden my own childhood doesn't seem so bad after all. At least, until mom passed away anyway, I knew I was loved.

"Doesn't matter. As you said, it's in the past, nothing we can do about it now." Pausing, he catches my eye and smiles softly. "You know, I think this is the first proper conversation we've had. Crap topic, yeah, but it feels kinda good."

I return his smile. "Tell me about it. Now, relax and go back to sleep. I'm here and I'm happy to hold you. You have friends, friends that you know will do anything for you, and you're not alone now."

"No. I'm not," he whispers, settling against me with a sigh of contentment. "'Night Bren."

"Mmm... 'Night."

Sleep continues to elude me but, my mind full of thoughts of Jess, his past, the fact that he's snuggled against me, I'm no longer what you'd call bored.

There's just no help for it. Life sure has a funny way of operating.

~*~

"C'mon Bren, open up. Sulking about things ain't gonna help, you know."

If Shalimar keeps pounding on my door she's going to bust right through it. Oh well. Shit happens.

"Brennan! Open the Goddamn door!"

Hate to break this to you Shal, but tetchy isn't going to get you anywhere. While I'm at it, news flash, I'm skulking around behind a locked door for a reason.

"Fine! Be childish then. See if care. You're gonna have to come out at some stage though."

Yeah. When I'm good and ready and feel up to dealing with the heinous fuck up I made today. Until then, sorry, I ain't getting off the bed.

"Look Bren, I know you're blaming yourself, but it wasn't your fault."

No offence Shal, but...

"Fuck off!"

With one last violent thump on my door she fucks off.

Breathing a sigh of relief, I roll over onto my back and stare morosely at the ceiling. Jet's death may not entirely be down to me but it sure feels like it is. If I hadn't gone in alone... If only I'd waited for backup. Jesse and the Helix were only minutes away. I should have waited... If I'd stopped focussing all my attention on the GSA I would have noticed Jet's bolt to the roof sooner... If I'd ran after him quicker I would have been able to stop him... If only I'd listened to him when he sensed the GSA was coming and said that we should go...

If... fucking... only...

His last words were that he'd rather be dead than captured by the GSA again. I was still screaming his name when he jumped. I wish I hadn't looked, that I hadn't seen what the impact did to him. It's one of those things that will haunt me for the rest of my life.

"Hey, Brennan... Are you sure you don't want to talk about it?"

Wonderful. Now Emma's having a go.

"You've gotta stop beating yourself up over Jet. His death was a horrible accident, that's all. He made his choice alone. It's not your fault."

"Leave me alone. Please." Go figure. Telling Em to fuck off would be akin to swearing at my own mother.

"Remember Bren, we're here for you."

Yeah, yeah. Like I was there for Jet. So much for helping the plight of new mutants.

Wallowing in self-misery, I ignore the knock on my door when it comes about an hour after Emma gave up trying to get through to me. While it's nice knowing everyone cares I wish they'd just leave me the hell alone.

"Brennan? I know you're in there."

Jess.

Well I never. Given that he too had the misfortune of seeing what was left of Jet I'm surprised that he's bothering. Albeit only through email, I think they'd been friends too.

Like we are now.

Close to a month has passed since that night we were stuck in the safe house together and we're now at the point I suspect Adam hoped we'd be at from the very beginning - friends. When we go out on assignment together now it's because we want to, not because Adam has told us to. We also talk, like, really talk.

Not that I want to talk now however.

"Go away, Jess."

"Make me."

"Jess..."

Too late. Once again, why open a door when you can phase through it?

I sigh, keeping my eyes firmly fixed on the ceiling. "That was locked for a reason."

"Tell someone who cares. I'm not leaving you in here to drown in misguided self-blame. You want me to leave, Brennan, you're going to have to make me."

"Have it your way then," I mutter flatly. "You're out of luck if you're looking for scintillating conversation though."

"Who said anything about being in search of conversation?" he replies quietly, crawling onto the bed. "Talking is good, yeah, but there's more diversionary tactics out there than just talking."

Huh?

His words making incredibly little sense to me, I look down from the ceiling just in time to watch Jess straddle my waist.

Oh. Dear. God.

Brain. Heart. Rational thought. All stopped. Brain mush now.

Jess laughs. "Hey! What's with the stunned look? I'll have you know that I don't weigh that much."

He picks now, the one time my mind couldn't be further away from the thought of sex if I wanted it to be, to try to seduce me? There's no help for it. I just so don't get this boy.

That said. I want to. Very much so.

Please God don't let me be drooling.

He's wearing those black silk pyjamas -- top very much unbuttoned, pale, perfectly formed torso very much exposed -- again and I wonder if he as any concept of the effect they have on me. Although... Going on the look in his eyes I'd hazard a guess that he does.

Beautiful. The world beautiful doesn't suit many men but it definitely suits Jess. Incredibly beautiful.

When I try to speak I stutter and stammer like some sort of idiot. "Can... I... ah... h-help... you?"

"Depends," he smiles, giving a delicate shrug. "You're depressed and I want you to snap out of it. Because of this I'm willing to do whatever it takes to cheer you up."

"Even going so far as to choose now of all times to seduce me?" I murmur, mentally congratulating myself for getting a coherent response out, my eyes drawn to his.

"If I have to, yeah," Jess replies, still smiling. "Your call though. It's not like I'm not used to waiting. Whatever you want, Bren. I'm all yours."

"Y-you... ah... are?" Damn. Stammering again.

"If you want me to be. We've had our ups and downs in the limited time we've known each other Bren, but I just can't help what I feel for you. I... I thought... well, hoped, really... that you might... kinda... feel something for me too."

What a relief. The stammering appears to be contagious.

As, oddly enough, does the need to smile.

"Oh, I feel something for you too," I admit gently, reaching up and taking Jess' hand in mind.

"Despite our differences?" he murmurs hopefully, squeezing my hand back.

I nod. "Our differences aren't so great."

He smiles, relieved. "No. No they're not. What do you say, Bren? Think we'll make a good pair? I'm sure you already know that Shal reckons we will."

"There's no think about it," I grin. "I know we will." And we will too. What I feel for Jess is already unlike anything I've ever felt before. Why? Good question... Because there's something both fragile and innocent about him? Because I want to protect him? Because he's beautiful? Because he makes butterflies flutter in the pit of my stomach whenever he's around? Because he's here straddling me because it's where he wants to be? Hmm... I'm thinking it's probably a case of all of the above plus more reasons that, 'cos of the last point in particular, I'm currently unable to think of.

"So... Gonna take me up on my offer?" Jess whispers coyly, leaning forward, brushing his lips against mine. "I meant it. I'm here to take your mind off today. Just say the word."

Goddamn it! It just goes to show that there's first time for everything. While the spirit is -- more than -- willing the body just doesn't want to play ball. Tired, sore from my run in with the GSA goons... It's not fair. All of a sudden I just want to sleep.

"Trust me, you've already taken my mind off what happened earlier," I murmur, patting the mattress next to me. "There's no need to rush things, Jess. How about just spending the night next to me? Don't think I don't want you as I do -- understatement -- but I'm too damn tired to make the most of it. And, believe me when I say I have every intention of making the most of it when the time comes."

Jess mock pouts. "Oh well. I s'pose another night of waiting won't kill me," he mutters blithely, clambering off me and stretching out on the mattress. The initiative all his tonight, he settles around me, his head resting on my chest. I have to put my arm around his shoulder to keep him in place. Not, I hasten to add, that I'm complaining. Hell, far from in fact.

"Thinkin' happy thoughts now?" Jess yawns sleepily, his body warm against mine.

I kiss the top of his head.

"Very happy thoughts."

Without a doubt, life moves in mysterious ways.

Wherever you are Jet, I'm sorry that I couldn't save you and I hope you're at peace.

I know I am.

~*~

I wake in the exact same position I went to sleep in, flat on my back, Jess using my chest as a pillow. Unlike most mornings -- I am so not a morning person -- I don't begrudge being awake. In fact, for a change, I'm all for it.

Corny as it sounds, knowing that what happened last night wasn't a dream?

Wow. Just wow.

Looks like good things come to those who wait after all.

Being this happy at... urgh... just past six in the morning is unnatural.

Long may it continue however.

Oblivious to the fact that the grin spread across my face would give the Cheshire Cat a run for its money, Jess sleeps on. He looks so peaceful that I doubt I could wake him even if I had to. Again, corny, yeah, I know, but I feel like the luckiest man alive, I really do.

Shifting slightly, Jess blinks open his eyes and yawns. If he's surprised at where he's woken up he gives no indication of it. "Mornin'," he mumbles sleepily, yawning again and giving me the impression that he's no more of a morning person than I am. My mind jumping ahead of the game, I can see many mornings spent cuddling in bed together and my grin broadens.

"Good morning," I murmur, sweeping down and planting a kiss on the tip of his nose. "Sleep well?"

"Mmm... Like a log." Stretching, Jess looks up at me, his expression a picture of innocence. "How about you? Feeling all refreshed and recovered from last night's tiredness?"

"Oh, you could say that," I answer, knowing an open invitation when I see it and RSVPing with another kiss, this time on the lips. To say my response is greeted enthusiastically would be an understatement of monumental proportions.

Oh boy... If Jess did everything as well as he kisses he'd be able to take over the world without even breaking a sweat. Talented doesn't come close to doing his skills justice. Oh yeah. Definitely the luckiest man alive. No question about it.

Time loses all concept of meaning as we kiss, our hands still, our mouths doing all the work. Slow burning passion tinges my vision and -- big surprise, I don't think -- hardens my cock. I start to imagine what's to come and very nearly learn what it's like to suffer from premature ejaculation.

Control. Must make bid for control.

While this is easier said than done I somehow manage it and, with extreme reluctance, pull back from the kiss.

Pouting, Jess blinks at me. "I was enjoying that," he complains quietly.

I laugh. "And you think I wasn't?"

"Then why..."

"I thought perhaps the time had come to move things along. That is, of course, if you want them to..."

Jess blushes. Somehow this achieves the impossible and makes him even more attractive. "You want me?"

"Does Eckhart share a scary resemblance to Andy Warhol?" Well... If you ask me the whole 'is grass green' thing is becoming passť.

"Anyone ever told you that you have a gift for words?" Jess murmurs, shaking his head and laughing as he gracefully stands up.

"I try," I retort, watching transfixed as he balances on the mattress, towering above me. For a second I don't know what it is that he's doing, whether he's waiting for me to stand up and join him. He then shrugs out of his pyjama top and once again my brain turns to mush. When the pants are untied, dropped, and stepped out of, I...

I...

Okay. This time I know I'm drooling.

Having seen my fair share of them, I accept that very few men actually look good naked. Jess however is one of the rare exceptions. I could stare at him for hours without being able to find a single solitary fault.

"Bren?" Jess shifts uneasily, his eyes downcast. I get the impression that he doesn't quite know what to do with his hands, that he doesn't like being the only one who's naked. Shit. I don't believe it. Despite looking the way he does he's embarrassed by his own body.

I make a mental note to do whatever it takes to rectify this situation.

"Shhh..." I whisper, clambering far less elegantly to my feet than Jess did. Standing, I quickly kiss him before making short work of throwing off my clothes. His eyes never leave me as I undress, an appreciative smile tugging at his swollen lips. This time it's my turn to blush. "Come 'ere you," I murmur, closing my arms around Jess and pulling our bodies together. He comes willingly, a small sigh of relief escaping his mouth.

Flesh against flesh. The heady scent of arousal. Hello. Things are getting better already.

Our lips once again drawn together, we kiss until, really, we can kiss no more. Jess passive in my arms, I know it's up to me to continue to move things along. With one final, lingering kiss, I kneel on the bed, sliding my hands down Jess' slim hips and legs. He watches me through blue eyes glazed with desire, whimpering slightly as I skip touching his cock and pat the mattress, indicating that I want him to lie down. Wordlessly he does just that, settling himself on his back and stretching languidly.

My eyes devour the fine sight of his body. I don't think I've ever wanted anyone as much as I want Jess.

His cheeks flushing pink again, his gaze seeks mine, imploring me to get on with it. Something in his eyes tells me that he's unsure, that he thinks I might be expecting something from him, that he's going to disappoint me. My mind flashes back to that talking to Shal gave me so many weeks ago.

"I've lost count of the people who have hurt him in some way."

Looking at him, I now believe it. The thought, not exactly surprisingly makes my blood boil. He'd beg if I wanted him to. Submissive to the point of being used like a toy, he'd do anything I told him to. Not that I'll ever power trip my way down that route. Just thinking it makes me feel ill.

I grin wolfishly. "Ready for this?" I murmur, staring into his eyes as I straddle his hips, leaning in close.

Jess laughs and strokes my cheek. "Oh, rock my world, baby," he retorts facetiously, blue eyes twinkling with amusement, the uncertainty momentarily banished.

"Famous last words," I smirk, lowering my head and, finally getting down to business, lapping at his collarbone. He squirms beneath me silently, one hand clutching the comforter, the other tracing lazy, meaningless patterns onto my back. I haven't said that I want him to, so he doesn't beg or plead for me to hurry up. I like to think that this is the real Jesse I'm seeing, not an act that he's hiding behind.

His body mine to use as I see fit, I take my time familiarising myself with it, first with hands, then by mouth. By the time I've wriggled down to the foot of the bed I think it's pretty safe to say that I'm intimately acquainted with everything laid out before me. To my utter delight he tastes as good as he looks. All of him. Oh, and he's sensitive too. Real sensitive. I suspect quite possibly ticklish too. Wanting to draw the moment out though, I use great restraint and don't bring him off with my mouth. Given that this wouldn't have exactly been a huge ask, it's hard to say who this disappoints more.

With the risk of sounding like Oliver Twist here, more, I want more.

Skipping the niceties of a warning, I gently kiss his forehead and flip him over onto his stomach. He starts to say something but my tongue coming in moist contact with the nape of his neck silences him save for a groan of appreciation. It's hard smiling when you're licking your way down someone's spine, but I manage it. I'm pleased to note that his back tastes as good as his front. When my tongue reaches his butt I flick it teasingly between his cleft, causing him to arch off the mattress. My hands in need of something to do, I place them firmly on his shoulders and go to town. He starts to moan. The sound is like music to my ears.

Just as I begin to sense that he's close, I sit back, my own erection suddenly feeling all unloved and demanding attention.

"Jess?"

"Mmmph...?"

I could be wrong but I think whatever it was that just came out of his mouth was a question.

Sliding my hands down his back, I gently knead his ass. "Can I?" I refuse to take him for granted.

"You have to ask?" he murmurs, craning his neck and looking over his shoulder, his expression one of quiet amazement.

I nod. "Yeah, I do."

Rolling over, he sits up and trails his fingers lightly down my arm. "Please. Does that answer your question?"

"Gratifyingly so," I grin, grabbing his hand and kissing the palm. "How? Your call."

Jess blinks, a slight frown worrying his forehead. "You don't have to pander to me, Bren. I'm a big boy. I've been around the block. You'd be surprised at what I can take."

"You and me both," I reply, shrugging. "It's still your call, Jess. I just want it to be good for you. Me, and don't laugh, I'm easy."

He doesn't laugh. Fortunately. He does however smile. A slightly wise, calculating smile that goes directly to my cock.

"'Kay. Sit with your back up against the wall then," he commands, flicking a stray strand of sweat drenched hair out of his eyes. "Oh... And sit still."

Pausing only to grab a condom from the drawer in the bedside table, I do as I'm told, my nerve endings tingling with anticipation of what's to come. "Like this, you mean?"

"Mmm..." Taking the condom from me, he deftly rolls it over my cock. It's the first time he's touched me and it almost enough to make me come on the spot. "Now... Don't move." Control now his, he straddles my lap and, nearly shocking the life out of me, phases. When he's solid again his ass is pressed tight against my lap, my cock embedded deep within him. The sensations coursing through my body are like nothing on earth.

"Neat trick," I gasp, one hand reaching blindly for his cock, the other holding onto his hip.

His smile broadens as he rests both hands on my shoulders. "I've always wondered how it'd work in practice," he murmurs breathily, clenching just enough to make me want to scream my pleasure out to the world. "You're the first person I've been able to try it on, the first person to know what I am."

"Mmm... Beautiful and talented and sexy and now very much spoken for." I punctuate each and every word with a kiss. Chest, neck, chin and finally mouth.

As connected as we can be, we lose ourselves in the simple act of pleasure. Sanctuary could be disintegrating around us and we wouldn't even notice. Jess sets the rhythm and the pace, all I have to do is go with the flow. How either of us lasts as long as we do escapes me. When release comes it comes both simultaneously and forcefully. Throughout it all our lips remained locked together. Only once we're both drained to the point of exhaustion do we separate. Sticky, satiated, happy.

Repeating his earlier trick, Jess phases to release me before collapsing on the mattress with a contented sigh. Panting, I take the condom off and discard it in the conveniently nearby bin. "Think my brain might have just leaked out my ears," I mutter drily.

"Mmm... Tell me about it." Clambering off the bed, Jess walks around to my side and extends his hand. "C'mon. Let's shower and go back to bed," he smiles warmly, the happiest I've ever seen him. "Sound like a plan?"

"A good plan," I reply, feigning a pained expression as I drag myself upright. "Sure you couldn't bring the shower to me though?"

"I see we're going to have to do something about your stamina," Jess laughs, grabbing my hand and pulling me to my feet. "Come on. Move it."

I move it. Neither with speed nor grace, but I move it. Hell, I even manage to beat him to the bathroom. Not that I know how.

We shower together, Jess still firmly in charge. His turn to explore, he washes me thoroughly, pampering me. All I have to do it lean against the tiles and concentrate on remaining upright. Strangely enough I think I could get used to it. Although the water soon tires me I make no attempt to hurry Jess along. Eventually though he puts two and two together for himself and swears softly.

"Shit Bren, why didn't you say something?" he mutters, shaking his head.

"Enjoying myself too much," I murmur weakly, cursing my inability to linger in the shower. "'S'okay. Honest."

Jess shakes his head again and turns off the water. "Don't be silly. It's not okay. I should have known better. I'm sorry, Bren. It won't happen again. Now, c'mon, let's get you back to bed."

Not really being in the position to argue, I shrug my acceptance, willingly allowing myself to be guided by Jess. Once he's towelled me dry he leads me back to bed, helping me into it before pulling his pyjamas on over still damp skin. "You're leaving me?" I pout, watching him walk towards the door, this time to choosing to unlock and open it as opposed to simply phasing through it.

"I think we could both do with some coffee," he replies with a grin. "Don't worry, I'll be right back."

"You'd better be," I mumble, rearranging myself under the comforter and making myself comfortable. Within seconds I'm asleep. When I wake up I do so to the sound of footsteps entering the room.

"Jess?"

"Try again, lover-boy."

Oh God. Shalimar.

Shit.

I cautiously open my eyes and smile wanly. "Hey Shal. I thought you were... ah..."

"No shit, Bren," she interrupts, running her fingers through her hair and yawning. "Just thought I'd drop by while Jess was in the kitchen. Apparently the coffee in the pot wasn't to his liking so he's brewing fresh."

"Oh..."

"He looks the happiest I've seen him in ages," she continues matter-of-factly, watching me closely.

"Oh..." Again.

Shal grins and moves towards the door. "I knew I was right to trust you with him." Pausing, she fixes me with a look that'd cut through brick. "Word of advice Bren, don't prove me wrong."

Yay. Something I can finally answer.

"I don't plan too," I murmur, struggling into a sitting position. "Trust me."

"I am," she states solemnly, walking out of the room, her piece once again said.

I'm thankfully saved from dwelling on Shal's impromptu visit and thinly veiled warning by Jess' return. In his hands he carries two steaming cups of coffee, the aroma of which cheers me almost as seeing him does. Handing me a cup, he steps onto the bed and sits down cross-legged. After savouring a mouthful of coffee, made just how I like it, I reach out and finger the hem of Jess' pyjama top.

"You always wear these to bed?" I query softly, unable to remember the last pair of pyjamas I owned. Part of me thinks that I may have been nine and they may have shared a scary similarity to Spiderman's costume.

Jess shrugs, his expression bemused. "Gotta wear something."

"I suppose you're right," I murmur, fighting the urge to laugh. Maybe it's a boarding school thing.

"Besides," he adds lightly, "I like the feel of silk against my skin."

Now that I can't argue with.

"Hey Jess..."

"Mmm?"

I have to ask. "Happy?"

"Mmm..." he smiles, seemingly utterly at peace. "Very. You?"

I return his smile easily. "Oh yeah. Very."

While I may not be Psionic I can suddenly see a great future ahead of us. It may have taken us time to reach this point, but by God was it worth it.

~ end ~

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Created on ... April 29, 2003