Brennan looked at the supportive faces with a vague sense of
shock. "You mean, this whole year I just, I wasn't here?"
Adam nodded and confirmed, "We thought your powers mutated out of
control again, only this time..."
"Only this time, we thought it killed you," Emma finished gently.
Well damn. No wonder they didn't seem to want to let him out of
their sight. The first time he'd nearly overloaded, they'd been
clingy for over a week. Now, he'd probably be lucky to take a piss
by himself for a month.
Not the Brennan was minding the constant companionship, not by any
stretch, but he was dying for some alone time with Adam. Oh shit!
His thoughts stopped short as he finally realized what his year
never happening meant for him and Adam. He looked at the older man
but didn't see anything there except friendly concern mixed with
relief. Oh no, no, no, no, no! "Adam, ah, so this whole year that I
went through, it never happened?"
"Well no, I wouldn't say that," Adam countered. "It happened for
you. It just didn't happen for the rest of us."
"I know it happened to me," Brennan snapped.
Taken aback by his harsh tone, Adam asked, "What's wrong? What
happened that you think we should know?"
Forcing himself to breathe calmly, Brennan tried to find the words,
but couldn't. Dropping his eyes, he muttered, "Nothing. Never mind."
There was a pause, then Jesse questioned, "So how close did this
year parallel what you went through?"
*Aside from you being dead, Adam's betrayal, and then becoming
lovers? Oh not much,* Brennan thought bleakly. He closed his eyes
and asked, "Can I...would you guys let me rest a little? I'm really
tired all of a sudden."
It sounded like there was a jump all around to let him sleep. There
voices were a jumble of as they each took their leave. When it was
quiet, Brennan opened his eyes to find Emma sitting guard on the
chair beside the bed.
She smiled and teased lightly, "I knew you were faking. You want to
talk about it?"
Shaking his head, Brennan answered, "Not really."
"I can feel it eating at you, Bren," Emma said, her eyes
compassionate. "You'll feel better if you talk about it."
Half-grinning, Brennan replied sardonically, "You must have me
confused with Jesse."
"I've been dead for a year, what do you want?"
They were both surprised at his bitterness, and Emma frowned in
earnest, shifting to sit on the edge of the bed. Taking his hand,
she asked, "Tell me, Brennan, please?"
Shaking his head, Brennan pulled his hand free and turned his back
to her. There was no way that he could explain what he was feeling
to himself, never mind someone else. After a long moment, she left
the bed and resumed her vigil on the chair. Eventually, Brennan
drifted into sleep.
* * * *
Adam raised his hand to knock on Brennan's door, but paused when he
heard Jesse's voice coming from inside. They were laughing and for a
moment, Adam leaned against the door, listening to the vibrant
sounds coming from within. He soaked it up like a desiccated sponge,
the warm, rich tones of Brennan's voice, the dry words he couldn't
quite make out. It was a distinct difference from the gaunt and
scarred face they'd been presented with since his return.
"Listening at doors now?"
Shalimar's question startled him and Adam glared at her for a
second, before smiling ruefully and admitting, "Just for a moment.
I'm not actually trying to eavesdrop."
"No, of course not. You've got machines to do it for you," she
Adam grinned at that and agreed, "Very true."
She leaned against the opposite wall. "You should just tell him how
you feel, Adam."
Shaking his head, Adam replied, "I can't. He and Jesse...well...I
saw them together the other day."
Shalimar's eyebrows arched in shock. "Excuse me?"
"The first day Brennan returned," Adam confirmed. "They were.it
would have been sweet if it hadn't been so personally heartbreaking."
"But, Jesse?" Shalimar demanded, incredulous. "Adam, Jesse's
The door opened unexpectedly and Adam fell backwards. Strong hands
caught him up and for a moment, he rested against Brennan's broad
chest and looked up into amused, dark eyes.
"Something I can do for you?" Brennan asked with a grin.
Straightening up, Adam shook his head and answered, "No. I was just
coming to tell you that supper's on."
Jesse frowned. "Comms broken?"
With a minor flush at the slightly peevish tone, Adam again shook
his head and explained, "Just thought I'd give it the personal
Brennan's hand, which was still on Adam's shoulder, squeezed and he
smiled. "Thanks. We were just working up an appetite."
Shalimar started coughing and Adam gave her a warning look before
saying, "Good. That's great. Let's hurry before Emma burns it."
They trooped down the short hall to the main room that was both
living room, dining room and war room. Emma already had the pizza
out on the short table in the center and everyone sat on a cushion.
She jabbed Adam in the side and said, "I do not burn food,
especially not pizza."
He grinned and reached for a slice.
"I don't know, Em, I think I saw a warning sign in the kitchen that
specifically barred Emmas from cooking in it," Shalimar teased.
"Any and all Emmas, not just you," Jesse chimed in.
Brennan snorted and started eating.
Grinning, Emma questioned, "What? No comments from the rest of the
Smirking, Brennan looked at Jesse as he observed, "I think there's a
height restriction to be in the peanut gallery."
Adam watched an impromptu pillow fight begin when Jesse swung a
nearby cushion at Brennan's head. Shaking his head, grinning at the
youthful behavior, Adam took his plate and backed away from the
group as Shalimar and Emma joined in, shrieking with laughter.
* * * *
It was over an hour later that the wreckage had been cleaned up and
everyone was sacked out on various spots around the room. Shalimar's
head rested on Jesse's lap. Emma had stretched herself between Adam
and Brennan, her legs across Brennan's and her head on Adam's thigh.
Everyone was quiet, just enjoying the moment and each other's
Yawning, Emma looked up at Adam and asked, "When will you hear back
from the Senator?"
"Tomorrow," Adam replied, his fingers lightly stroking through her
hair. "She's still grateful that we were able to get her daughter
back and willing to say so in public, which is more than most."
"Nothing on the new laws, though, right?" Shalimar questioned.
Adam sighed. "Not yet. The House is really divided, but the
conservatives are still holding the floor on adding the Mutant
status as a protected one."
"Wait, you mean people are still talking to you?" Brennan demanded
Frowning, Adam answered, "Why wouldn't they be?"
"Aren't you public enemy number one for unleashing us onto the
Adam's lips quirked as he confirmed, "I am. But I also have the best
team out there for covert-ops and the government knows it. You're
saying that in your reality, this wasn't so?"
"No. No one would even take your call after Eckhart's press
conference," Brennan explained slowly. "We were completely on our
Astonished, Adam didn't at first reply. Lips pursed, he said
carefully, "I think it would be a good idea for you to explain
exactly what is, and isn't, different from the reality that you've
Brennan's jaw tightened and he looked away from everyone. "It was
rough. You and Emma were working for Eckhart, trying to get the time
line back on track, but I didn't know that. I just knew that he had
you. Jesse was dead. Shalimar was injured and we were living hand to
mouth, hiding from everyone. Then, well, I snapped. I couldn't take
it anymore and gave Eckhart an ultimatum."
With a frown, Emma asked, "What kind of ultimatum?"
"To give you and Emma up or I'd blow the whistle on everything...and
take out one of his major weapons' sites."
"By yourself? Brennan, that's not possible," Adam replied.
Snorting bitterly, Brennan replied, "Sure it is. My powers mutated
twice over the last year, each one giving me more and more juice. I
can now blow up a building that covers two city-blocks. That and,
apparently, power a nuclear reactor when it loses power. How do you
think I got here?"
Adam blinked in surprise, then admitted, "I don't know. I hadn't
really thought about it. I've just been too relieved to have you
"Well, that's how," Brennan explained. He gently pushed Emma's legs
down and got to his feet. "Look, it was a bad time, for all of us.
I...never mind. I'm going to bed."
Adam stared after Brennan and wanted nothing more than to go after
him, to offer comfort about what had obviously been very traumatic,
but it wasn't his place. Sighing, he looked down at Emma and
asked, "How is he? Really?"
"It's, it's like he's lost, Adam," Emma answered finally. "Like
something vital's been ripped away from him and he doesn't know how
to get it back. He's screaming silently inside, on the edge. I don't
know what to do."
"He just needs time, to get some distance," Shalimar suggested,
Glancing at Jesse only provoked a helpless shrug from the younger
man, so Adam nodded. Worried, he murmured, "I hope that's all it is."
* * * *
Brennan eyed Adam warily and asked, "Do we have to do this?"
"Yes, we have to do this," Adam confirmed, tapping the syringe to
make sure there were no air bubbles. "I need to make sure that your
body isn't having any kind of negative effects from the time travel."
"It didn't before, with Ashlocke," Brennan reminded.
Adam looked at him pointedly and stated, "It also didn't stay stuck
in limbo for a year."
Sighing, Brennan held out his arm and closed his eyes.
With a faint grin, Adam plunged the needle as gently as possible
into the arm outstretched before him, and injected the sedative.
Then he pushed Brennan down on the exam bed and ordered, "Count
backwards from twenty-five."
"You couldn't think of a better way to knock me out than a needle?"
Adam started to reach out and brush the dark bangs off the younger
man's forehead, but checked the movement and replied, "Old fashioned
in this case is best. I want your body just to think it's going to
sleep. Start counting."
Sighing, Brennan counted, "Twenty-five, twenty-four, twenty-three,
twenty-two, twenty-one, twenty...uh...nineteen, eighteen, fifteen,
Adam waited another half-minute to be sure, then nodded to himself
and brought the imager close and scanned Brennan's body. He'd
already gone through Brennan's genetic makeup with a fine-toothed
comb and was a little frightened by what he'd found. The elemental's
powers had mutated twice in the phantom year, according to Brennan,
and the power was resonating through the cells he'd examined. More
than enough power to, as Brennan had claimed, level a building all
Thank God it was stable, that Brennan hadn't gone the same route as
Ashlocke, though he still didn't know why. It was a miracle that
Adam would be grateful for the rest of his life. Not just because he
loved Brennan, but because he was vital to the team as a whole. They
could, and had, survived without him, but the fun and spontaneity
had just seemed to go out of them all. Brennan brought that to them,
he brought an irreverent attitude of mischief that kept everyone on
The scanner beeped at him and Adam frowned, leaning forward to
examine the anomaly. Minuscule but pervasive cracked bones spoke of
serious pressure buildup, as though Brennan had been deep-sea diving
a little too deep and the pressure had been too much for his body.
Not good, not good at all. How was he even managing to move around
at all, let alone not show any strain?
Manipulating the scanner, he switched from x-ray to tissue and his
heart dipped even further at the damage visible throughout the
musculature. It was an impossibility that Brennan was able to move
at all, considering the depth of the destruction to the body.
Frowning, unable to reconcile what the scanner was telling him with
the man himself, Adam switched the machine off.
He stared at the young man lying oblivious on the exam bed and
satisfied the urge to brush the hair from Brennan's forehead. It was
a good thing that he loved puzzles, because there was definitely
something going on here that just wasn't right.
* * * *
Adam glanced up at Emma's hesitant query and forced a smile. "Emma,
come in. What can I do for you?"
"You can tell me what's got you so worried," she replied, closing
the study door behind her. Crossing the room, she leaned against the
desk and continued, "I know it has to do with Brennan, and that it's
Rubbing his eyes, wishing that Emma wasn't quite the night-owl that
she was, Adam sighed. "I haven't even figured it out yet."
"Figured what out yet?"
"Why he's alive."
Emma's jaw dropped. "Excuse me?"
With a grim smile, Adam nodded and informed her, "I ran every test
on Brennan that I could and they all say the same thing. He should
be crippled with pain and confined to a fetal position, if not dead
outright, and yet he's walking around like nothing's wrong inside.
He's walking, and running, and working out, and having pillow fights
as if he were the picture of good health."
"How's that possible?" Emma questioned.
"I don't know," Adam admitted. "I haven't got a clue."
"Is it to do with his mutations?"
"Maybe. I've been thinking that the mutations were in response to
the constant life and death struggle he and Shalimar was in."
"In a word, yes. From what little he's told me, and I'm still trying
to get it all out of him, there was a near-constant state of
adrenaline, which had him on edge and amped, all the time," Adam
Shaking her head, Emma murmured, "What a way to live."
"So, what now?"
Adam sighed again and replied, "I'm just going to keep a close eye
on him and keep running tests. If he's not feeling any pain, and his
body is working all right, then there's nothing really to do. For
all I know, it had nothing to do with his powers, but with the
travel through time and his disappearance over the last year. Or
maybe it was both. There's just no way to tell."
"But he's okay for now?"
Nodding, Adam agreed, "For now, yes."
"You should get some sleep, Adam."
"No, you're not," she stated firmly. "You're tired, upset, and not
thinking clearly any more. You need to rest if you're going to be
any use to Brennan and the rest of us."
Adam looked at her for a long moment, then half-smiled. "You're
right, of course. I'll go to sleep in a bit."
Her eyes narrowed, but she nodded and allowed, "All right. See you
in the morning."
After the door closed behind her, Adam groaned silently to himself
and thought, I'm never going to get to sleep. Not with my head going
a million miles a second about Brennan.
* * * *
Brennan yawned and stretched, groaning in contentment at the feel of
a real bed under him, even if he was the only one in it. He was
pretty sure that he'd never take sleeping in a bed for granted for
the rest of his life. It was early yet, but he knew that the others
were already up and about. They were all insane enough to be up at
the crack of dawn if given the option. Personally, Brennan was happy
never to see the morning hours, if at all possible.
Ever since his return, since he'd put things back on track, Adam had
been skittish around him. It was bad enough that Brennan was in
withdrawal from not having his lover, but even worse that, the other
man was avoiding him. One of the reasons he wasn't making more of a
fuss over all the damned testing; he was desperate for any kind of
contact with Adam that he could get.
Rolling out of bed, Brennan grabbed a t-shirt and padded barefoot
across the chilly floor. He remembered the look that had been on
Adam's face when he'd come around the day before and shivered a
little. There was something about the results that the older man
wasn't sharing with him and it was making Brennan distinctly
"Hey Bren," Jesse called from behind.
Brennan smiled and turned to meet his friend. It was still such a
relief to see Jesse any time that he wanted to. "Hey yourself. Sleep
"Yeah. You?" Jesse questioned, falling into step with him.
Shrugging, Brennan answered, "Okay."
Brennan hesitated, then admitted, "I got used to not sleeping alone
over the last year. The bed feels too empty now."
Jaw dropped, Jesse exclaimed, half-irritated and half-admiring, "You
dog! And you didn't even tell me? Who was it? Shalimar, or Adam?"
Snorting, Brennan replied, "A gentleman never kisses and tells."
"Good thing you're not a gentleman, then," Jesse scoffed. "Who was
Brennan flushed, reluctant to part with the information.
Eyeing him narrowly, Jesse said, "It was Adam, wasn't it? No way
that Shalimar would make you blush like that. You'd be bragging."
Flushing even hotter, cursing his seemingly uncontrollable
reactions, Brennan nodded. "Yeah. It was Adam."
"And? C'mon, Bren, details, man!"
"God. You're never going to drop this, are you?"
"Not a chance in hell, my friend."
Brennan groaned at the playful tone, but really, he was dying to
talk to someone about it.
* * * *
Adam stopped short upon hearing Jesse and Brennan's voices in the
hall ahead. He glanced around the corner, his heart tightening with
jealousy as he saw how close they were. Jesse was smiling broadly
while, oddly enough, Brennan was flushed and awkward. Hmm. He would
have thought things would be the other way around.
Shrugging to himself, Adam sighed faintly, taking in the sight of
Brennan leaning casually against the wall. He was a head taller than
Jesse, and nearly made another of the blond in breadth, but there
was something almost shy in his expression as his voice dropped and
he continued to explain something to Jesse.
That was the word, Adam suddenly realized. His heart ached a little
more fiercely as he saw just how in love Brennan was. Unable to
watch a moment longer, Adam turned around and went back the way he
He no longer had an appetite anyhow.
The GSA, in its newest incarnation, was a busy entity these days.
Mason's new office was as pristine as the old one, but with a far
better view. Beneath his dispassionate gaze was the city itself,
alive and unaware of the cunning and discrete wars going on within
her borders. The cops now had new criminals to find, but the city
offered refuge for those who knew how to hide in her shadows, as all
new mutants seemed able to do upon inception.
It would take more than a simple announcement about the existence of
mutants to effect their imprisonment and eradication. Mason knew
that. It didn't lessen his impatience, but then, Mason knew how to
control all aspects of himself, including the overwhelming drive to
erase the mutants from the face of the earth.
Mason glanced up at Michael with a smile. The other man looked good,
dressed in black, better than his brother, actually, though of
course he was now the younger and black always looked good on the
young. "Good afternoon Michael. Settled in?"
Nodding, Michael headed for the window and said, "It's a nice place.
Thanks for that."
"Well, I couldn't very well have my most valuable employee out
searching for a place to live while his time could be better spent
elsewhere now, could I?" Mason replied lightly.
The subtle probing provoked a smirk as Michael said, "Of course not.
And just so you know, I have their location narrowed down to outside
the city. That burst of power I felt.I can still feel it, Mason.
It's not nearly as strong, so it's taking me longer to get a bead on
it, but it's there. I don't know how, but the power is definitely
connected to Adam. It feels almost..."
Quirking an eyebrow when Michael's voice trailed off, Mason
Michael flushed slightly and finished, "Intimate."
*Really. Now that is interesting,* Mason mused. Aloud, he said, "Do
you think you can give me an estimate?"
Shaking his head, Michael answered, "I wouldn't want to give you
false information. But I'll find him, Mason, you don't need to worry
about that. It's just a matter of time."
"Very well. I trust you," Mason stated. "Have you finished going
over the MutantX profiles?"
Michael snorted. "My brother always did need a guiding hand when it
came to picking his friends. Talk about a bunch of psychos. The
Psionic is the one who makes me nervous. Is there any way to just
take her out of the equation altogether?"
"I'd prefer not. I'd like to get a governor in her and study her
powers personally. Ms. De Lauro presents a unique opportunity in
that I'm sure she's more...talented...than she lets on, even to
Adam. Fear holds back even the most powerful," Mason observed dryly.
"The other two? The feral and molecular?"
Shrugging, Mason said, "Dispose of them however you see fit."
"Ah yes. Adam. What are we to do with your brother?" Mason
speculated aloud. "What would you like to do with him?"
Michael's jaw tightened with anger. "Kick his ass. And forgive him.
I don't...I can't kill him, Mason, even as pissed at him as I am.
Maybe that first day when you rescued me, I could've, but not now.
Not in cold blood."
Mason nodded, having expected such an answer. The Kane's were too
genetically predisposed to protect and serve for any real hatred to
exist between them. He was rather surprised that Michael had made it
as far as he had and killed as many `enemies' as evinced by his
record. Though, he supposed, the other man had probably rationalized
it as protecting his family and his country as a form of pre-emptive
Funny what the human mind could come up with to reconcile actions
Returning to the present conversation, Mason questioned, "What will
you do if he tries to kill you? Because I'm fairly certain that he
"He can't have changed that much," Michael said, dark eyes restless
as they stared out the window.
Michael finally replied, reluctance etched into every word, "I'll
defend myself with deadly force if necessary, but I'm going to do my
best to take him alive."
Mason easily hid the smile trying to get loose. Things were
definitely going according to plan.
* * * *
Emma's head was whirling as she tried to fend off the emotions
coming from Adam and Brennan. Normally, it wasn't too much of an
effort to filter any of her friends out, they were more like white-
noise than anything else. This evening, though, Gods it was near
impossible for her to think straight.
"Em? You okay?" Shalimar asked softly.
Shaking her head, Emma closed her eyes and whispered, "It's a little
hostile in here."
Shalimar grimaced, though of course she had to suspect that was the
answer she'd get when asking the question. Her eyes flickered over
to the men and her jaw tightened with a decision. Getting to her
feet, she strode to them and snapped, "The two of you are going to
work this out or I'm going to knock both your heads together to give
Emma some peace!"
Obviously startled, they both looked at Emma and had the grace to
look ashamed and irritated with themselves for not noticing.
"Adam, you first. Spill. Brennan has a right to know what's going on
with his own body," Shalimar ordered.
A mutinous expression surfaced, but lasted only a few moments. Then
he sighed and said, "I have no idea what's going on, Brennan, and
that's the truth."
"But you're scared. I know you, Adam, and I know that look you're
trying not to show," Brennan stated.
A bit surprised by the announcement, Adam hesitated then
agreed, "Yes. By every test that I've run, you...you should be dead."
Brennan blinked at him for a long moment, taking in the shocking
news more calmly than Shalimar would've credited him with. Then
again, she hadn't gone through what he had and it had become
apparent over the last couple of weeks that Brennan wasn't the man
they all remember. He was more than before; more patient, more
quiet, more thoughtful, more gentle. It was as though he'd seen the
worst and was determined to go in the opposite direction.
"What's the problem?" Brennan asked.
Eyebrows arching, Adam exclaimed, "The problem is that you could die
at any time and I don't.there isn't anything I can do to heal you. I
don't even know what's causing it, let alone what's allowing you to
breathe and walk around!"
"No, Adam, I mean...what's the problem?"
There was something odd about Brennan's voice and the way he was
staring so intently at Adam. It was as though he had some kind of
knowledge on the inner workings of the scientist to which the rest
of them weren't privy. What was even more interesting was the way
Adam's eyes lowered and refused to meet the other man's gaze.
"You've been avoiding me."
Adam shook his head. "I have not."
"Yes, you have," Brennan countered almost sadly. "But that's okay.
Look, Adam, I can't give you what you want. I can't tell you...no, I
*won't* tell you what happened to me this last year. I'm not telling
any of you because it's too personal. I love you, I love all of you,
but I need this, okay?"
When Brennan's dark eyes met hers, Shalimar nodded silently. There
was a sheen of despair to his eyes and all she wanted to do was pull
him close and soothe him, but knew she'd be rejected.
Brennan's gaze returned to Adam, but the older man was looking
stubborn. "Please, Adam, don't ask me. Give me this, please."
The whispered plea seemed to drive right into Adam and he slumped,
all defiance vanishing. A moment later, Brennan turned and left the
common area, hunched in on himself. Shalimar felt her own headache
coming on from all the emotions, but sat back down beside Emma,
pulling the slight woman into her arms and rubbing her back,
soothing her through the quiet sobs.
The noise finally penetrated whatever fog Adam seemed to be mired in
and he crossed swiftly to them. Crouching down, he took a deep
breath and released it, closing his eyes. Several long moments
later, his eyes reopened and he touched Emma's knee. "Better?"
Emma drew in a shuddering breath and nodded, wiping her face with
the back of her hand.
"What the hell happened here?" Jesse's voice demanded
harshly. "Where's Brennan?"
Shalimar was shocked at the depth of anger and worry in her best
friend's voice, even more so as it was aimed at Adam. Maybe the
scientist was right. Maybe Brennan and Jesse were actually together,
even as bizarre as that seemed to her.
"Adam, what did you do?"
Adam flinched upon the near-accusation.
"Jesse!" Emma exclaimed.
Withdrawing his hand and getting to his feet, Adam assured her, "No,
Emma, it's all right. Brennan's fine, Jesse. We just had a
disagreement. He probably returned to his room."
"A disagreement that brought Emma to tears?"
Sharply, Shalimar warned, "Jesse, back off."
Scowling at her, Jesse didn't reply, instead leaving and heading for
Her hand still rubbing Emma's back, Shalimar exhaled forcefully. "I
don't know what the hell's going on here, but this has to stop,
Adam. The three of you need to sit down and settle things, once and
for all. Much more of this and Eckhart won't have to lift a finger
because there won't be a MutantX."
Troubled, Adam nodded.
* * * *
*Okay. So. Overreact much, Jess?* Jesse sighed to himself as he
continued down the corridor. But the first thing that he'd thought
when he saw Emma crying and the other two around her was that
something had happened to Brennan. And since Adam had been testing
the shit out of Brennan the last couple of days, well, his mouth had
opened before he could edit the words.
Reaching Brennan's door, he tapped hesitantly on it, but didn't get
an answer. Frowning, he knocked louder, but still got
nothing. "Brennan? I'm coming in, man."
He opened the door and immediately knew that the other wasn't in
there. Glancing around the bedroom showed that drawers had been
hastily opened and clothing taken out. When he found Brennan's
communicator ring on the night stand table, Jesse's heart stuttered
in shock and fear. Bringing up his own finger, he shouted, "Adam!
Adam, he's gone!"
Immediately, Adam demanded, "What? What are you talking about!?"
"Brennan's gone! He grabbed some clothes and left his ring!" Jesse
explained. He rushed forward and grabbed the ring before running out
of the room. "I'll meet you at the Helix."
"We'll be right down."
*God, Bren, what the hell are you thinking!?* Jesse demanded,
fearful for his friend as he'd never before been. That entire day
had been spent talking because, once Brennan had started, he hadn't
seemed able to start. He'd told Jesse about Sam and about Adam and
about the running and starving and told him how it all seemed to
link together. That he wasn't meant for a happy life. That for him
to have a measure of goodness in his life, others had to suffer.
Skidding to a halt outside the flying vehicle, Jesse keyed in the
code, but had to do it twice because his hands were shaking so
badly. He'd never really considered Brennan suicidal before, but
after everything that he'd found out about, Jesse knew that it would
take less than that to break anyone else. Maybe whatever Adam and he
had fought about had pushed him over the edge?
*No, Kilmartin, think about it. He wouldn't have taken his clothes
if he was going to kill himself,* Jesse reminded himself almost
Running through the startup sequence automatically, Jesse accessed
the computer and found out that the mustang was missing from the
garage. Figured. Even emotionally upset, Brennan went for the
classic. Snorting softly to himself, he flipped on the tracker that
all the cars had and got an immediate lock. It was stationary about
fifty miles away. Damn. Brennan had practically been flying himself
if he'd gotten that far, that fast.
The others came rushing onto the bird just then and Adam
exclaimed, "Do you have a lock?"
"Yep. Firing it up now," Jesse said, suiting action to words as his
hands ran over the various keys with assurance.
Sitting in the co-pilot's seat, Adam buckled in and asked, "Where is
"About fifty miles away, but not moving anymore."
"Good, good," Adam muttered.
Once in the air, Jesse engaged the stealth mode flying towards the
mustang and, hopefully, Brennan.
* * * *
The car turned out to be in an abandoned parking lot in the less
savory part of an outlying suburb. The buildings all around were
abandoned as well, thankfully, and the only one to see them get out
of an invisible airplane were a few drunks that no one would believe
Adam saw a piece of paper in the mustang's windshield and tugged it
free, opening it.
I'm sorry for all the chaos I've brought. I don't want to hurt any
of you, ever. And yeah, I know leaving's going to do that, but trust
me. You're all better off without me around. Ask Jesse, he knows
what I'm talking about. Don't worry about me, I can take care of
myself and I'm not looking to get myself killed or anything. I'm
just going to lay low and figure out my head.
Well. If I can.
So yeah. Take care of yourself and - - take care of yourself.
"Damn it, Brennan," he hissed, crumpling the paper without thinking.
Jesse came up next to him and asked, "What's it say?"
Adam stared at him for a second, then held out the wrinkled paper
and answered, "He's going to clear his head and make sure we're all
better off without him."
"What the hell did you two fight about, anyhow?" Jesse demanded,
passing the note to Shalimar.
"I was trying to get him to open up about what happened. He's just.
he's so different now, you know? I thought it would help if he could
talk to someone about everything. I could tell he was reaching a
breaking point," Adam replied, suddenly bone weary with the
certainty that he'd driven Brennan away.
Jesse's head dropped forward and a harsh bark of laughter
escaped. "The two of you are so alike, it's scary."
Frowning, Adam asked, "What do you mean?"
"I mean, Brennan talked my ear off all God damned day about what
happened in that phantom year," Jesse explained, a wry smile teasing
his lips. "The reason he didn't want to tell you was because most of
it centered around you. He wanted things to develop, or not as the
case might've been, naturally. Without alternate universes and drug
lords and you working for Eckhart."
Adam was still confused. "Wanted what to develop?"
"You! The two of you! God, Adam, do I need to draw you a graph and
chart? Brennan's in love with you!" Jesse shouted.
"But, no! That's not right, he's in love with you!" Adam exclaimed.
Jaw gaping open, Jesse demanded incredulously, "Where the hell did
you get that idea?"
"The two of you," Adam replied uncertainly. "You've been inseparable
since he got back. And I, I saw you together the first day he
returned. He, he wouldn't let go of you."
Eyes rolling, practically screeching in frustration, Jesse
explained, "That's because I'd been *dead* for a couple of years!
God damn it, Adam, the man is soul-deep in love with you and
nothing's ever going to change that. The problem is that he's all
confused and thinks that he's some kind of danger to you. That
you'll be safer if he's not around. All of us, for that matter. The
Adam was still having trouble wrapping his mind around Jesse's
insistence that Brennan was in love with him. "He's really in love
Jesse looked at him and sighed, exasperated, but not angry anymore.
A smile finally surfaced, the expression too natural to stay away
for long. "Yes, Adam, he's in love with you. Really."
Shalimar, who'd been silent up until then, nudged Adam rudely with
her elbow and grinned. "Told you so."
"That doesn't help find him now," Emma pointed out. "No comm link,
no way to track him."
Adam thought about it for a few seconds then said, "He'll go to
ground. We'll just have to look for him the old fashioned way."
"No, we will. You shouldn't even be out here," Shalimar stated
One look at the blond woman's determined face and Adam knew there
would be no changing her mind. It didn't help that Emma and Jesse
wore similar expressions. Holding his hands up, he gave in, "All
right, all right. I'll coordinate from Sanctuary and keep working on
a way to keep Brennan alive in case something goes wrong with him."
Shalimar nodded and said, "Good. We'll drive the mustang back and
get started first thing in the morning."
Adam wanted to protest, but knew that it was too late to start any
serious searching that night. "Okay. We'll see you back at
Following Jesse back to the Helix, Adam paused on the ramp, sensing
something, feeling like he was being watched. Frowning, he paused
and looked sharply around the area, but saw nothing out of place. A
few drunks littering corners, broken windows and graffitied
buildings. Shaking his head, Adam crossed the threshold and the
vehicle closed up behind him.
* * * *
Brennan watched as Adam paused to look around, grateful for his
concealing place. Jesse would have to go and spill the beans.
Sighing to himself as first the Helix and then the Mustang left, he
uncurled from the bench and grimaced at the smell of the bum's coat
that had rendered him invisible in plain sight. He tossed it and the
promised ten bucks to the old man lying on the pavement beneath the
bench and said, "Thanks, man."
Grinning to reveal several missing and rotted teeth, the man
replied, "No problem. Good luck, kid and don't let the aliens
Laughing softly, knowing the old man had no idea how that had
actually almost happened, Brennan repeated, "Thanks, man," and
started walking in the opposite direction of the city. He didn't
know where he was going yet, but away was the best plan he could
come up with.
Brennan knew that something was going to happen to him, he could
feel it, and he knew it was going to be bad. He didn't want any of
them around when it did.