Playing God

Pairing:Jesse / Brennan (more or less...)



Series/Sequel:Follow on from 'For The Greater Good' (Yes...  You will
need to read that one first! <g>)

Disclaimers:Not mine and I've already returned them to Tribune
Entertainment as I no longer feel any need for them.

Summary:Emma's emotions in relation to her powers and what she did to
the others in the previous fic.

Notes: Narrated by Emma.  Self-beta'd in fit of boredom at work and
written for Nancy, who suggested I do a fic explaining Emma's side of things in the first place...

Playing God
by TalithaX

Ever since I was a little girl I needed somewhere that I could call my own, somewhere I could go and chill when things got too much for me.  Up until I joined Mutant X and moved into Sanctuary, it always used to be my bedroom. It didn't matter where -- parents' house, foster parents' house, children's home, flea infested apartment, wherever -- so long as I could call it my own.

Here in Sanctuary I have my own room.  What's more it's a perfectly wonderful room.  When I was young I could only dream about having a room as cool and as equipped to call my own.

I love my room and I couldn't imagine living anywhere other than Sanctuary.

That said, it's not the same as my old rooms.  Not really.

Barricading myself behind the shut door of my bedroom these days is the equivalent of issuing forth with a press release stating that I'm sulking. Or pissed off.  Or, as whoever that old actress was once said, and I'm talking way back in the days when there were still actresses and not just actors here - 'I just want to be alone.'.

And, well, it's all just a tad more trouble than it's worth.

Don't get me wrong.  I'm touched and honoured and full of warm fuzzies over the fact that everyone cares enough about me to check up on how I'm feeling. Honest.  Despite never having experienced it before, it's like being part of a real family.  It's just that, well, you know, when I want to be on my own, I *want* to be on my *own*.

So, not wanting to give anyone cause for concern, I've learned to hide in plain sight.

Like now.

Although I'd really like a door or six between me and everyone else I'm sitting in my new favourite spot on the mezzanine.  From my cross-legged position on the beanbag I can keep an eye on what's going on and, should anyone be looking for me, I'm easy to find.  It's not an ideal situation, but it'll do.  All being well, given that I'm more or less on show for everyone to see, I'm even giving the impression of being more with it than I feel.

God.  If I happen to look like I feel, if the black abyss I can feel circling my head is somehow coming through in my expression then I simply don't want to know.

Ignorance, as they say, is bliss.

Let's face it, I should know.

Others might just think it.  Me, I can dish it out.

'Would you like a side serving of denial with that, sir?'

'Not to worry, madam.  I can make that nasty experience go away for you. Trust me.  It's not something you want to remember anyway.'

Some days I don't like myself very much.

Others I scare myself.

Today, just for something different, I'm feeling weighted down by the whole kit and caboodle.

Fear.  Dislike.  Contempt.  Worry.  I'm a regular barrel of laughs.

Oh, and yeah, it goes without saying that I've been happier.

Sensing movement below, I plaster what I hope passes as a vacuously content expression on my face and peer over the edge.  Shalimar and Brennan, both moving with obvious pain and far slower than usual, walk along the corridor engrossed in what looks to be a light hearted argument.  Despite their injuries and dismay at everything (they believe) has happened, they both appear to be in a reasonably high spirits.  For a second I'm actually jealous and can literally feel my mask slipping.

Not that I want to forget the truth.  I can't.  It would be too dangerous.

Oblivious to my presence above their heads, Shal and Bren come to a stop just before the living area and, laughing, play a quick game of 'Rock, Paper, Scissors'.  Shalimar wins and the happy, triumphant smile that lights up her face is as blinding as it is unexpected.  Smile?  I doubt I'd have it in me at the moment.  I mean, what have I got to smile about?  The truth? The cold, clinical knowledge that I did what I did -- allegedly -- for the greater good?

But I don't want to think about that.  Watching is far easier.

Ruffling his hair, Shal pokes her tongue out at Brennan before, dare I say *gleefully*, skipping off in the direction of the kitchen.  Grinning, Bren watches Shal disappear before making his way into the living area.  Jesse, who's sprawled out on the sofa listlessly watching television, looks up as Brennan enters the room and smiles shyly.  He looks both younger and frailer than he's got any right to and I flinch as, struggling into a sitting position, I see the extent of the bruising on his arms and wrists.  His grin wavering, Bren flinches too.  Noticing his lover's expression change, Jess lowers his eyes and visibly folds in on himself.  I don't need to read him to know he feels ashamed, unclean.

If I could have, once I accepted that I really didn't have a choice, I would have erased all his memories of being assaulted.  God knows it's what I wanted.  There being no other viable explanations for his injuries I couldn't though and, on top of everything else, I hate it...  I hate that I could only do half a job.

Narrowing my eyes, I glare at Brennan, mentally willing him to wake up and get with the freakin' program.  To my relief -- and his credit -- he shakes his head and hurries over to the sofa.  Settling down next to Jesse, he drapes his arm around his lover's shoulders and hugs him tight.  Relaxing against Brennan, Jess lifts his gaze and they sit in comfortable, understanding silence, totally in tune with how each other is feeling.

I did the right thing.

It mightn't feel like it, but I did.


I'm saved by my thoughts once again turning inwards by the return of Shalimar.  Carrying a tray containing fresh mugs of coffee and a plate of cookies, she glides into the living area and, laughing, performs the role of hostess to perfection.  Once her tray is empty she dumps it on the coffee-table and turns her attention to the DVD player.  Within seconds Lord Of The Rings is coming up on screen and she's squashed on the sofa next to Jesse.  Surrounded -- literally -- by the two most important people in the world to him, colour returns to Jess' cheeks and the smile that breaks out across his face reaches his eyes, almost making him look carefree.

Seeing him happy, I can't help myself and a small smile tugs at the corners of my protesting lips.

"I told you it was the only thing to do," Adam comments softly, walking onto the mezzanine behind me.  "It was a hard decision to make, yes, but given the options it had to be done.  Because of you the three people down there still have faith in each other.  You may not see it the same way as I do,but I'm proud of you, Emma."

"Proud of me?" I whisper dully, turning around and glancing dismissively at Adam.  "You've got to be kidding me."  Proud?  Call me misguided but how could I possibly be proud of fucking with peoples' memories?

If, God forbid, I felt proud of what I'd done I'd have passed the point of no return.

Not that Adam needs to know that.

"I'm not kidding you, Emma," Adam replies, his face a picture of
seriousness.  "What you did last night, and I can't stress this enough, *saved* Mutant X.  Now, thanks to you, we once again stand a chance against Austin.  Again, I know it was hard, but..."

"It wasn't hard," I interrupt, the words slipping carelessly -- and truthfully -- out of my mouth.  Who knows.  Maybe it will help to talk.  I doubt it, but it might.

"The memory swap itself, maybe not," Adam responds, flashing me an
understanding smile.  "The decision though, I know that had to be hard. It's okay, Emma.  I know I put you in a spot last night and I want you to know that I'm here for you."

"It wasn't hard," I repeat flatly.  "Sorry to disappoint, Adam, but the decision was an easy one.  As you said, I didn't really have a choice."

"Of course you had a choice," Adam murmurs, looking at me strangely.  "I never would have forced you into it.  If you'd disagreed or refused I'd have left it at that.  I hope you don't feel as though I railroaded you into doing it."

"Your argument was very persuasive," I mutter, shrugging.  "And I agree, we need to operate as a team if we're going to be able to get Austin.  That's not why I did it though."

Adam nods.  "I understand.  You did it for your friends.  To be completely honest with you that's a better reason than mine anyway."

Okay.  Here goes nothing.

... Forgive me Father-figure for I have sinned.

"I didn't do it for them either," I confess quietly.  "I did it entirely for myself."

"For yourself," Adam echoes.  "Emma..."

"Mmm-hmm...  I did it for me," I reply matter-of-factly.  "Just call me selfish, Adam, but there was no way I could have lived with all their confusion and hurt.  Jesse and Shalimar...  Hell, it was like they were being pulled apart.  And I didn't need Brennan to wake up to know he would have simply added to the racket.  The noise in my head was indescribable." Pausing, I glance down into the living room and shrug.  "They're still hurting, especially Jess, but it's bearable now.  Like you said earlier, their faith in each other has been restored and, together, they'll get through it.  I don't want them to hurt, Adam, but I can't deny that I did it
for me.  It's hard enough tuning the pain of the world out without blocking that of my friends."

"You should have said something," Adam murmurs, sounding concerned.  "Emma, if you're experiencing changes in your powers you should tell me.  Maybe I'll even be able to help."

"I've done it before," I whisper, ignoring Adam and deciding that I may as well get it all off my chest.

"You've done *what* before?" Adam queries.  "Emma?  Is there something you want to tell me?"

"I've done it before," I repeat, glancing down and talking to the floor. "I've wiped Jess' memory before."

"Go on," Adam prompts, his tone of voice curiously neutral.  "I'm sure you had a good reason for it."

"Yeah, I wanted him to forget something," I retort drily.  "Guess what?  It worked too."

"What was it you wanted him to forget?" Adam asks simply.

"It was while we were in Kovakhstan," I sigh, resigning myself to the fact that talking about it isn't helping in the slightest.  "In order to push back the oncoming troops I... I had to use my powers in a way that I didn't want Jesse to remember.  Yes, I used my powers to protect, but, again, I wiped Jess' memories entirely for my own selfish reasons.  I didn't want him... you... anyone... knowing what I was truly capable of."

"Do you regret it?" Adam murmurs gently, no doubt mentally crossing his fingers for a reply in the affirmative.  I don't even have to look up and meet his disappointed gaze to know what he thinks of me.

"No," I respond plainly, "I don't.  I did what I had to do to protect myself.  I'm not proud of my actions but nor do I regret them."

"Then, if you're as comfortable with your actions as you claim to be, why are telling me this, Emma?" Adam queries softly.  "Is it because you're not quite as comfortable as you think you are?"

"Sometimes my abilities frighten me," I mutter, hesitantly glancing up at Adam.  "You don't know what I'm capable of, Adam.  Let's face it, if I hadn't just told you you'd never have known what I did to Jess in Kovakhstan.  And...  Think about it...  If I kept that from you I could keep anything from you.  Hell, for all you know I regularly play with you head. Again, let's face it, it's not like you'd either be able to stop me or ever know the difference."

"I have faith in you to know the difference between right and wrong," Adam replies firmly, not seeming at all perturbed by my out of left field confessions.  "Your power is incredible, Emma, but I have every confidence in you being able to control it."

"I'm glad you do," I mutter, shaking my head.  "Instinct is to protect those you love, right, to do whatever you can to take away their pain and misery. Well, knowing that I can do that literally, where do I draw the line, huh? Should anything ever happen to Brennan we all know that Jesse is going to be devastated.  Now, because he's my friend and he'd be hurting like nothing on earth I could take it upon myself to go into his head and remove all his memories of Brennan.  By the time I'd finished he wouldn't even know that Brennan had ever existed let alone that they were lovers.  Because of this he'd be happier, yeah?  What's more it could be argued that I'd even done a kindness for him.  But, would I have?  Or would I have simply been playing God for no other real reason than I could?  Listen to me Adam, listen to what I'm saying...  What if there comes a time when I can't differentiate between right and wrong and simply mess around with peoples' heads because, in my own twisted mind, I *think* I'm doing the right thing!"

My piece said, I rub my hands across my face and sigh.  All my deepest, darkest fears are now out in the open and, sadly, I don't feel any better for having shared them.  A weight hasn't been lifted, I can't see the light at the end of the tunnel, and -- damn it! -- I'm no closer to knowing what it is I'm going to do with myself.

"That time will never come," Adam responds soothingly, walking over and placing his hand reassuringly on my shoulder.  "Emma, while I know it's all very well hearing that I've got faith in you, you've got to have faith in yourself.  Your powers are incredible but they only make up a part of you. The fact that you worry about them getting out of control in itself should be a source of reassurance to you.  I'd only be worried if you *weren't* concerned.  I have to confess to being a little shocked over what happened in Kovakhstan, but I suspect, put on the spot, you didn't have the time to fully think your actions through.  It goes without saying however that I'd like to hear more.  In particular I'm interested in hearing what it is that you didn't want Jesse to remember."

Have faith in myself?  That's his answer?  I mean, what happens to me when faith is no longer enough?  Already feeling connected with those around me is getting harder and harder.

So much for the delusion that talking to Adam would help.  Obviously this is something I have to see through on my own.

"Why?" I whisper, knowing what I have to do and hating it.  "It's not something I really think anyone else needs to know about.  Don't worry though, Adam, nor is it something I use lightly.  I think, well, I think it's better kept secret.  Thanks for the offer though, and the chat, it's... It's helped."

"Emma," Adam replies softly, "I really think..."

It only takes a second.  I don't even have to think about it.  To use Adam's argument, it's for the best.  He doesn't need to know what I'm capable of. No one does.

"Emma," Adam murmurs, shaking his head and looking just a little befuddled. "What are you doing up here on your own?  The others are watching a movie in the living area.  Why don't you join them?  After the events of yesterday you all deserve some quality mooching time together."

"I was just going," I smile, standing up and giving Adam a quick kiss on the cheek.  "Why don't you come too?"

"You know, I just might," Adam replies, dutifully following as I start down the steps.  "Maybe a couple of minutes of sitting will help get rid of the rotten headache I've suddenly got."

There being nothing I can really say, I don't reply.

Entering the living area, Shalimar grins with obvious delight and points at the television screen.  "Perfect timing, Em, the midget ass Hobbits are about to meet Aragorn and things are about to get a hell of a lot more aesthetically pleasing."

"And there I was thinking you had a thing for hairy feet," Brennan retorts, leaning across Jess and smirking at Shal.  "You know, what with being a Feral and all that."

"Just 'cos you look in the mirror and see all Orc, all the time," Shalimar replies, smiling sweetly before cracking up laughing.  Despite it being just about the last thing I thought I felt like doing, I start to laugh too.  The miffed expression on Brennan's face is just too precious for words.

"Do you lot of laughing hyenas mind?" Jesse mock complains, rolling his eyes.  "Regardless of the fact that I've seen this... ah... yeah... however many times before, I *am* actually trying to watch the movie."

Catching Shalimar's eye, we both go through the motions of pretending to zip our lips and this, of course, makes us laugh even harder.

It feels good.

And, because it feels good, I realise something.

What I have here is worth fighting for.  I may not have faith in myself, but I definitely have it in those around me.

So long as they're by my side I may even be able to make it.