Trick and Treats

pairing: Brennan/Jesse, inferred Shal/Emma

rating: NC-17

spoilers: none. This is for JenCat, you rock, girl! ;)

feedback: would be a wonderfully appreciated treat, so I suppose that makes flames the trick, lol

summary: Just a bit of holiday party fun... ..with both tricks AND treats...

warnings: holiday fic for Halloween (duh) Pretty much a humorous PWP.

disclaimer: Mutant X belongs to Marvel & Tribune, not me. If they were mine, I prob'ly wouldn't share, lol

"Pleeeease, Adam?" Emma begged, batting her eyelashes at the leader of Mutant X in her best "hopeful-daughter-who's-so-cute-and-nice-you-can't-possibly-disappoint-her-if-there's-any-option" imitation.

Shalimar had to give Emma points; she actually got a reaction from the man. The amused-yet-stern expression on his face barely changed at all, but his deep brown eyes warmed slightly, and Shalimar noticed one of his cheeks twitch the tiniest bit as he almost smiled at the young red-head.

Adam's eyes slowly closed and re-opened as he carefully spoke his reply to Emma:


Emma pouted, her lower lip sticking out severely, and Shalimar laughed, because Emma wasn't breaking out of her schoolgirl-character routine, and probably wouldn't until Adam relented. Which would leave the psionic crabby and irritable when she wasn't around Adam, which certainly wouldn't do Shalimar any good, and she wanted Adam to agree just as much as Emma did, so the blonde feral stepped forward.

"Oh, come on, Adam, you never go out with us. It's not like we're asking you to go clubbing with the four of us..." Shalimar paused, watching Adam's face, hoping he might finally change his mind about that in light of Emma's and her new request. Adam's singular expression change in response to Shalimar was to raise one eyebrow, the rest of his face still remaining motionless in a clear declaration of 'And-?'

Shalimar huffed and rolled her eyes. "You never go out with us unless it's some political maneuvering or some other mission-related thing! You never go out with the four of us to Have FUN, and we really think you should!" The short blonde glared into the scientist's eyes, but refrained from flashing her feral gold glare at him. She was accusing him, of being a stick in the mud, not threatening him. "Hey, you're our father-figure, right?" she challenged. "Well, holiday parties are a family event, and you should come! Most of the Mutant Underground in the city will be there; you'd be a welcomed guest of honor!"

Adam finally gave in, raising his hands in surrender as he closed his eyes and bowed his head to one side in admission of defeat.

"All right, all right, Shalimar, I admit, it's wrong of me to only go out with the four of you on business, and never for pleasure." He straightened up, looking into her pleased expression, and meeting Emma's hopeful one. "But I'm afraid I'm still not going to your Halloween party with you." Shalimar's eyebrows rose in hurt surprise; Emma's face fell in disappointment. "I'm sorry; I'm sorry, you're right, I should, but I'm afraid I can't. I have a very important meeting scheduled with one of my more at-risk contacts Saturday night; there's no way I can responsibly get out of it. Otherwise I would, and I promise I'll come with you next time. Just give me a little more advance notice so I can clear my schedule, and I'd be happy to join you." Adam smiled at the women, hoping he had reassured them. "Or we can all go out to dinner sometime next week, my treat, to make up for not socializing with you more."

Shalimar and Emma exchanged grins.

"Well, okay...." Shalimar said warningly.

"But you still should really think about coming," Emma added. "Who knows when the next Underground sponsored party will be, and we all know you'd rather pay for dinner for five at an exclusive restaurant downtown than go clubbing with us!" the taller woman grinned as Shalimar smiled and stuck her tongue out at Adam, laughter in her eyes.

"Okay, okay, you two; point taken!" Adam said, shaking his head and closing his eyes again in defeat as he backed away. "I said I'd join you if I could, and I mean it. I'm not a huge fan of Halloween, but I appreciate your points and the fact I would be welcomed at this party. I will join all four of you for dinner out next week, on me, and I'm sure we can have a movie night or something of the sort in the near future. Okay?" the older man asked with affectionate sarcasm, meeting the women's eyes as he reached the door to his lab.

Both smiled back at him cheerily.

"Okay!" they replied in unison, then fled down the hall towards their rooms to begin discussing costume ideas for Saturday.


Brennan peeked around the corner of one of the support columns under the dojo, watching from the Serenity Garden as Jesse approached his beloved computer workstation from the upper walkway. The tall elemental rubbed his hands together in anticipation, grinning gleefully as Jesse sat down and lowered the workstation chair's armrests into position.

Brennan had been working with both Jesse and Adam on some of the computer systems in Sanctuary, and had come up with a deviously delicious plan. Everyone knew that Brennan had a wicked sense of humor and a love for practical jokes, and so naturally expected the worst out of him when it came to "tricks" for Halloween. Brennan grinned to himself again as he remembered last year; he and Emma had still been relatively new to Sanctuary, and Brennan had nearly gotten himself tossed out with his various antics. The only worse time was April's Fools Day, but the rest of the group had teamed up against him then. He shook his head as Jesse began typing, remembering how much fun he'd had trying to get back at all of them in the space of one evening.

The ex-thief watched as the younger mutant typed away on his keyboard, ignorant of his partner's presence. Brennan's grin widened; he had successfully used the workstation to set up his "trick" program in the dojo, and had managed to hide it well enough that Jesse had not immediately discovered it as he began working. Jesse had shown Brennan how to configure the dojo programs, with the intention of letting the elemental train more diligently, obviously, but he was looking forward to using those same techniques to shock his young partner. Adam had been working with him on the ways his electrical powers could interact with various electronic systems, both how he could both use that to his advantage and as a mentorly warning about accidentally damaging any of Sanctuary's advanced technology. Brennan had naturally enough practiced these new skill uses in the dojo, which was designed to handle such stresses, and when Jesse had shown him some of the more advanced applications of the dojo's systems, a wonderful plan was born.

It had been simple enough, Brennan thought to himself as he watched Jesse work, appreciating how focused the shorter man was, how fluidly his fingers flowed over the keyboard, his blue eyes never leaving the screen. Jesse had shown him how to manipulate the holographic images the dojo produced, so that they could be configured to represent any type of person desired. This included the body language and fighting style of the construct, so that they could practice against a variety of opponents, large and small, graceful or powerful, or whatever combination the operator programmed into the dojo. Brennan had to admit, it was a lot more interesting than the faceless, generic GSAgent holographs who not only literally all looked the same, but pretty much all fought the same as well.

So, when Adam had shown him how he could more or less operate the dojo systems by remote with his powers, Brennan's plan was conceived, and he was now ready to put it into action, less than a week before Halloween. Close enough to the date for the point to come across clearly, but early enough to catch Jesse by surprise. Brennan knew his lover expected him to be up to something, and of course the blond man was correct, but the dark haired new mutant was greatly looking forward to surprising his partner despite the other man's well-founded suspicions.

Brennan watched Jesse a few seconds more, to be sure he was focused on the computer screen and wouldn't notice his lover's presence below, then turned and gently pulled on a small thread hanging from the edge of the dojo above his head.

The thread was attached to a mousetrap, which Brennan had carefully placed atop one of the orange holographic projection ribs surrounding the dojo. Brennan grinned as the hard 'snap' of the mousetrap echoed from the high ceiling some thirty feet above his head, and sent a carefully modulated electrical pulse into the dojo's systems, triggering his hidden program.

Jesse's gaze shot up to the ceiling, startled by the sudden sound, just in time to be caught in the face by the harsh light and sound of an apparently massive electrical short circuit arcing between the two holographic projectors. Jesse shielded his eyes with an upraised forearm, and watched in horror as Shalimar's limp form fell bonelessly to the dojo floor, landing with a dull thud.

"SHAL!" Jesse screamed, flinging up the workstation's armrests and leaping from the chair. The young molecular dashed forward, sprinting for the edge of the workstation balcony, rendering himself intangible as he leaped from the edge, phasing through the guard railing and flinging himself at the dojo platform a few yards away. Jesse inhaled and concentrated as his body flew through the air, increasing his mass and thereby his inertia and momentum as he entered freefall. The added force carried him over the edge of the dojo, where he landed in a shoulder roll, to avoid damaging the platform with his ultra-dense form.

"Shal!" he cried again, coming out of his roll and scuffling forward to her side on his hands and knees, reaching out to grasp one inert shoulder with a trembling hand.

Brennan's eyes had widened at Jesse's cry; he had intended to startle his lover, give him a momentary shock, but it was only supposed to last an instant, not to terrify his partner by messing with his head. He had programmed the dojo to drop a blonde female of Shalimar's height and build after generating a spectacular short-circuit explosion. The hologram systems were capable of creating realistic looking images, even reproducing someone's exact features, like when Adam had used the dojo to convince Daniel he was Mason Eckhart, but Jesse should have been able to tell a randomly generated image from the real Shalimar simply by looking. The fact that he was rushing to her "rescue" and called her name again suggested to Brennan that Jesse had not seen through his ruse as intended.

Tears filled Brennan's eyes as he raced for the dojo steps from underneath, buttonhooking and sprinting up them, calling himself all kinds of stupid as he scrambled for his lover's side.

"Jesse!" Brennan called out as he raced up the dojo steps, cursing himself more for the way his voice choked with guilt, rendering him unable to call out and reassure the man he loved that things were actually okay, despite the appearances to the contrary. Jesse's blue eyes snapped up to meet Brennan's worried dark ones, bright and glassy with fear and shock. Brennan winced at those eyes, knowing he was responsible for them, and could have clawed his own out when Jesse's expression fell further, interpreting the look of anguish on Brennan's face as confirmation of the worst.

Which only lead to greater confusion as the real Shalimar sprinted into the Sanctuary commons and covered the length of the massive room in a single second, calling Jesse's name as she too sprinted up the dojo stairs to his side.

"Jess, Jesse, I- I'm so sorry..." Brennan gasped out, reaching shaking hands out to Jesse's shoulders. The guilt was tearing the older man apart inside, far worse than any of his criminal deeds in the past, because this had been done to the man he loved more than life itself, this had been just incredibly stupid, and how he could have ever thought such a plan was a good idea...

Jesse's confusion simply grew worse as Brennan seemed to be choked with emotion over Shalimar's sudden death, only to have her appear over his shoulder. For a split second he wondered if he was seeing her ghost, since Brennan hadn't seemed to have heard her voice, or be responding to her standing over him as the big man clutched Jesse's shoulders, until he heard Adam and Emma crossing the commons and approaching the dojo as well.

"Jesse?" Emma called out, her voice strained. "Brennan? What's wrong? Shal heard you yell, I felt panic..." the telempath stammered as she and Adam rushed up the dojo steps, to stand behind Shalimar as she watched Brennan fold in on himself, taking one of Jesse's hands in both of his own and holding it to his cheek, saying 'I'm sorry!' over and over as he curled into a ball, hunched over his knees with his head practically in Jesse's lap as the younger man looked up at their teammates, confusion painted plainly on his face.

Shalimar stepped to one side, closer to Jesse, but away from the disturbing sight of her lifeless eyes lying on the floor next to him. Her feral senses were on screamingly high alert, her protective nature brought to the fore as she heard the man she considered her little brother scream her name in desperate panic, and clearly saw the uncertainty on his face as well as the confusion on Emma's as she tried to reconcile what she was seeing with what her empathy was telling her, and the sudden partial understanding that appeared on Adam's.

"End Program!" Adam called out sternly, and the false Shalimar's lifeless body vanished from Jesse's side. Brennan gasped and shuddered, moving closer to Jesse, almost crawling into his lap as his frame shook with sobs. Jesse glanced from one of his teammates to the next, still completely confused, but instinctively pulled his hand free of Brennan's grasp to wrap his arms over the larger man's back, pulling him close and rocking him, trying to settle him down.

"Jesse?" Shalimar asked, kneeling down and adding her own hand to Brennan's back. "What happened?"

"I-" the younger man started, then glanced around before meeting Shalimar's eyes again, both of them still rubbing Brennan's back. "I- was working, and then there was an explosion, and you fell onto the dojo... ..Brennan came running right after me, he was upset, too..." His blue eyes shifted from Shalimar's to Emma's hoping the telempath could explain what Brennan was feeling.

Emma's expression cleared slightly as she realized part of what had happened. "For a different reason..." she told Jesse, then smiled hopelessly, the concern never leaving her eyes as she met his still-confused gaze. "Jesse, he's upset, he's feeling guilt over this, over tricking you..."

Brennan gasped out another choked cry from Jesse's lap, wrapping his long arms around Jesse's torso and holding him tight, wordlessly begging for forgiveness as his tears fell onto the other man's thighs. Adam's expression swiftly darkened, shifting into true anger as his brilliant mind fit together the pieces of the puzzle and realized what had happened.

"That..." the scientist began, his voice as dark as his angry eyes, only to be brought up short by the three sharp gazes that suddenly skewered his own, Shalimar's protective of her hurting pack-member, Jesse's concerned for his lover's emotional state, and Emma's warning their leader that he was on thin ice, that Brennan could not be any more upset than he already was with himself, and that angry belligerence from their leader would not help. Adam closed his eyes, shaking his bowed head in frustration at life's unfairness as he stepped forward, crouching beside the two men as well.

"..Was incredibly foolish, as you are no doubt already aware, Brennan," Adam said, his voice much softer, and sympathetic to Brennan's guilt as he lay a hand on the trembling man's shoulder. Goodness knew he had enough experience dealing with self-perceived guilt that he of all people should be able to understand Brennan's position. "I take it you programmed a surprise for Jesse into the dojo's hologram projectors, and used the techniques we've been going over to trigger it?" the older man asked gently as he gave Brennan's shoulder a soft squeeze.

Brennan didn't answer verbally, but the choked sobs he had been making into Jesse's legs stopped as he nodded his head.

Jesse threw his head back, his voice exploding in peal after peal of giddy laughter as he slipped his hands under Brennan's arms and scooped him up into a hug, pulling him close into the embrace as he murmured into the startled man's ear: "Oh, Bren, I'm sorry; I'm not laughing at you, really; actually I'm laughing at myself..." the molecular managed to gasp out between chuckles, then giggled again as he looked up and saw the confusion running rampant on the faces of their teammates.

"It was a good plan, Brennan; it was my fault it didn't work right..." Jesse said with another chuckle, laying a kss on Brennan's temple.

Brennan jerked his head back in surprise, both at the unexpected contact, and at Jesse's statement. "Wha-?" he asked incoherently, staring into Jesse's eyes.

Jesse grinned. "well, it was an evil plan, trying to scare me out of my skin, but honestly, I've been waiting for something of the sort for a week. We're getting down to the wire, Halloween's less than a week away, and the suspense of waiting for your trick was starting to get to me." The younger man smiled and laid one hand along Brennan's cheek and jaw. "You used the holographic template modifications I showed you last week to set this up, didn't you?" Jesse asked softly, staring into his lover's eyes with a mixture of admiration, pride, and amusement. Brennan nodded dumbly and Jesse grinned again, his eyes crinkling as he chuckled.

"Well, that's why it's my fault. You never expected me to believe it was really Shalimar for more than a second, right? You expected me to flip out, then realize what you'd done and come looking for you to take it out of your hide, right?" Jesse asked, the amusement still showing on his face.

"Um, yeah, moreorless..." Brennan mumbled, glancing over his shoulder at the others and wondering what exactly Jesse was getting at, but by the looks on their faces, the other members of Mutant X didn't have any more of an idea than he did.

Jesse snickered. Shalimar arched one suspicious eyebrow and shot a look at him, knowing he must have his reasons for his amusement, her feline curiosity dying for him to get to the point and reveal them already.

"Well, I had a few ideas of my own when I showed you those. I've spent the past few days modifying the software interface and graphics processor for the dojo so that it can modulate photo-accurate images in real time, not just paint them over a non-holographically generated subject. I just finished yesterday; you named your little trick-program "Shal" or "Shalimar", didn't you?" Jesse asked, looking into Brennan's eyes for the confirmation he knew would be coming. Adam closed his eyes in a grin and barely suppressed a laugh as he realized what had happened. Emma looked from Adam to Brennan in confusion as the elemental nodded, still staring into his lover's amused gaze, glanced at Shalimar to see that she was still waiting for the joke to be explained, and finally turned her gaze to Jesse, lips pouting slightly as she frowned, waiting for him to finish his explanation.

Jesse laughed outright at Brennan's confirmation of his hunch. "I also programmed in a few shortcuts. If we enter the subject-name of a program as the name of someone who's data is already in the dojo's holographic system-banks, it automatically configures the holo-matrix to be an exact replica of the real subject. It's not your fault I really thought it was Shalimar, Brennan, I told the computer to do that!" Jesse cracked up, delighted by fate's larger-than-life coincidences, and hugged Brennan to himself tightly, gripping the larger man's back and letting him know he was forgiven and there were no hard feelings.

The rest of the team relaxed as Brennan let go of his guilt, Shalimar smiling wickedly that her faith in Jesse's off-center sense of humor had born out, Emma smiling in relief that the maelstrom of emotions had subsided and been resolved, and Adam continuing his soft smile as he turned and made his way back to his lab, shaking his head at the irrepressible antics of his "children".

Shalimar softly cuffed both men over the backs of their heads.

"So everything's fine now? As normal as it ever gets around here, especially where you two are concerned?" she asked with fond sarcasm, watching the boys as they continued to sit on the floor and smile into one another's eyes, ignoring the world around them.

"Uh-huh," they both said at the same time, paying no attention whatsoever to Shalimar or Emma. Shalimar rolled her eyes as Emma stepped forward with a giggle, placing an arm over the feral's shoulders.

"Come on, Shal; I suddenly have another costume idea, but you have to help me see if it'll fit..." Emma said, guiding her friend away from the boys and down the dojo steps.

"Oh, goody!'" Shalimar declared as a pink tinge appeared high on Emma's cheeks.

"You're such an evil, evil man," Jesse proclaimed as he continued stroking Brennan's face with the slightest movement of his hand.

"I am" Brennan replied, and Jesse smiled, unsure from the way Brennan said it whether he was agreeing or questioning.

"You are," Jesse reassured him. "You'll have to make it up to me," he declared.

"Oh?" Brennan asked, his normal jocularity returning as he arched one eyebrow at his shorter lover. "And how would I do that?"

"Oh, I have a few ideas..." Jesse replied, smiling more broadly as he dropped his hand from Brennan's face to take the elemental's hand instead, drawing the taller man to his feet as he stood himself. "But it was such an evil plan... ..you're gonna have to start making it up to me right away..." he continued, pulling Brennan down the dojo steps and leading him toward their quarters.

"Okay!" Brennan replied cheekily as he followed Jesse, reaching out with his other hand to pinch his lover's firm ass. Jesse yelped in surprise and turned to glare at his lover in mock anger.

"Evil!" he proclaimed, and dragged the taller man into the bedroom.


Brennan surged forward into Jesse's arms as the shorter man pulled him into the bedroom. Kicking the door shut behind himself as he wrapped his arms around his lover, he let his arms snake over Jesse's back as he pulled the younger man close. Brennan's lips opened to meet Jesse's own as they parted, the blond head tipping back to meet Brennan's kiss as his eyelids lowered. Brennan moaned into Jesse's mouth as they kissed, feeling tensions and passions he hadn't even been aware of flowing into their kiss. Jesse grunted in turn, sliding his hands up Brennan's back, to cup the back of his neck with one and thread the fingers of the other through Brennan's hair, pulling his head down into the kiss.

Their tongues slid past one another, exploring the other's surface, licking teeth, the insides of the other's lips, the roof of the mouth... They finally parted with a wet gasp for air, Jesse turning within Brennan's arms, leaving his hands around the taller man's head as he dragged him across the room to the bed. Jesse kept going as they reached the bed, tripping them both over the side, collapsing into the bed amid a fit of giggles as Brennan began kissing the side of Jesse's neck, nipping and sucking and rubbing at the sensitive skin with his stubbly chin. Jesse groaned his delight and stroked one hand through Brennan's hair in encouragement, sliding the other down Brennan's neck to his chest, cupping and stroking one firm pec with his palm, gasping as the larger man nipped the sensitive spot beneath the corner of his jaw, seizing Brennan's nipple through his tee shirt and twisting as he pinched, both of them arching into the sensation, then collapsing onto each other, gasping.

Jesse rolled atop Brennan, fingers kneading his shoulders where they met the base of his neck, leaning in to kiss his forehead, his lips, the soft spot inside his jawbone behind his chin, then licked a wet stripe from the darker man's adam's apple all the way to the tip of his nose. Brennan stared up into Jesse's eyes, his own dilated nearly black with passion as they looked into the younger man's bright blue gaze as it smiled down into his own.

Their eyes closed as they leaned in to kiss again, long, slow, drawn-out kisses that declared their love for one another even as they slowly stoked the passions in their blood ever higher. They gradually drew tighter and tighter together, Brennan's biceps pressed against Jesse's underarms as he wrapped his arms over the younger man's back, one hand between his shoulder blades and the other pressed against his side, stroking the molecular's ribcage. Jesse shifted his own arms to lay his forearms along Brennan's upper arms, fingers woven through the muscular man's thick dark hair and gripping his head, pulling him into the kisses. Brennan spread his legs beneath Jesse's form a bit, letting forth a pleasured cross between a groan and a hum into the blond man's luscious lips as their groins were pressed more firmly against one another. The taller man wrapped his legs over his shorter partner's, rubbing their calves together as much as their hips as he slowly but firmly pulled his lover's upper body back and forth with the movement.

Jesse broke their extended kissing to moan aloud as Brennan shifted his hands to Jesse's ass, pulling his entire frame into the strokes and grinding their throbbing erections together through the multiple layers of fabric between them. Brennan latched his lips onto the side of Jesse's neck, sucking greedily, noisily, as Jesse groaned at the sensation of his cock grinding against the rough denim of Brennan's jeans. Brennan was not so lost in the moment that he wasn't paying attention to his lover's responses, and noted the way Jesse was pressing the head of his cock against the tautly stretched fabric of the jeans he was wearing. The ex-thief nipped playfully at the side of the younger man's neck, shifting his hands to both get a better grip on Jesse's firm and flexing rump, and to check a theory.

Brennan grinned against Jesse's neck as the molecular gasped and shivered with passionate reaction, the shorter man was indeed going commando beneath the sweatpants he had been casually working on the computer in. Brennan squeezed more firmly, closing his own eyes as Jesse groaned again and thrust against him all the harder. They rocked together a few moments more, the pace of their movements, heartrates, and breathing all increasing steadily.

"Bren... Brennan..." Jesse finally gasped, sweat streaming down his face as their necks and cheeks were pressed tightly together. "I... ..we gotta... ohh..."

"Yeah, Jess..." Brennan moaned. "Do it... ..too many clothes, here..."

Jesse threw himself back, sitting up and stripping his shirt off, up over his head and tossing it aside. Brennan's eyes shone with desire as he ogled the red flush of arousal on his lover's chest. Jesse rose up on his knees, grabbing the hem of his sweatpants with one hand and gripping both Brennan's shirt and his pants and underwear with the other. With a moment's focus, he exhaled steadily, flinging their intangible clothes above and behind himself, where they regained corporeality and fell to the floor unheeded when they left his grip. Brennan gasped at the sensation of immaterial fabric passing through his body, providing its own unique stimulation to his already hyper-sensitive nerve endings, and groaned in pleasure as the naked weight and heat of his partner's body returned to his thighs.

Brennan sighed happily as Jesse stretched out full length along his body, both of them groaning in eager anticipation and satisfaction as their red-hot cocks slid alongside one another. Jesse threaded one hand through Brennan's hair again, lacing the fingers of their opposite hands as Brennan cupped the back of his head, pulling him into another passionate kiss as Jesse scrabbled at the bedsheets with his toes, seeking purchase to rock his length atop his partner once more.

"Ah..." Jesse said, flinching in surprise, then pulling back from an equally shocked Brennan. "Bren..." Jesse complained, sitting back on his knees once more and turning away from his lover.

"Wha-?" Brennan managed to stammer, confusion plain on his face as his body shivered in reaction to the loss of contact and stimulation.

"..You're still wearing your socks and boots. Not a turn-on when we're already in bed..." Jesse proclaimed as he lifted up slightly, bracing himself on one arm to lean over and grab Brennan's offensive footwear with the other hand. Brennan pouted at the interruption, but watched with interest as Jesse's naked ass rose into his line of sight, observing the way his lover's rosy cheeks spread as the younger man leaned over, exhaled, and tossed Brennan's footwear aside with the rest of their clothing.

"What?" Jesse asked, turning back around to discover a curious expression on his lover's face, and wicked amusement in his dark eyes.

"Just contemplating how talented your fingers are, gripping all sorts of different things at the same time so you can phase them all at once..." the older man stated neatly, reaching out to give a caressing stroke to Jesse's thigh with one hand.

"Well, aren't you one with the witty rejoinder..." Jesse commented as he leaned forward, peering into Brennan's eyes with amusement of his own as he placed his hands on the larger man's sturdy chest, supporting his weight to slide back down Brennan's long legs, shifting his own legs out of his lover's reach. "My tongue is fairly talented, too..." the younger man said with a self-satisfied smile of his own as he lowered himself onto the bed between Brennan's legs, sliding his nimble hands under his lover's ass, squeezing the firm muscles as he breathed hotly over the darker man's balls before licking them and sucking them into his mouth.

Brennan gasped and writhed against the bed and in Jesse's grasp as his lover worked the impressive mouthful with his tongue. Brennan's already rock-hard cock twitched with excitement, and he groaned loud and long as Jesse moaned his appreciation directly into Brennan's genitals.

"..Yes... ..yes, Jesse, suck me... ..do me... oh!..." Brennan gasped as he thrust his fingers through Jesse's hair with one hand, scrabbling blindly alongside the mattress where it met the wall with the other, pulling a tube out of the narrow gap and pressing it into Jesse's wrist where it disappeared under the top of his thigh.

Jesse's lips slid off of Brennan's scrotum with a wet slurp, taking the tube from Brennan with one hand and using his teeth to uncap it. Jesse's other hand slid down the back of Brennan's thigh as he slid forward a bit, licking a broad band up the length of Brennan's even broader cock, narrowing his tongue to a point as it licked into the V of Brennan's engorged head, sending a spine-wracking shudder through the man as he cried out from the intensity of sensation. Jesse closed his lips over the head of Brennan's cock, sucking hard and nodding his head just the slightest bit up and down, driving the larger man nearly crazy with desire and pleasure as he lifted the back of his knee, drawing the long leg up until Brennan's foot lay flat on the bed. Jesse's nimble right hand simultaneously squeezed a hefty dollop of gel out of the tube and onto his fingers, rubbing his fingers together until his thumb and first three fingers were coated with the slippery substance.

Brennan continued to moan and pant, slowly wriggling his hips in a light thrusting with the motion of Jesse's head, groaning as the younger man's left hand returned to his groin, bending sharply at the wrist to both encircle the base of Brennan's thick cock with the thumb and forefinger, and kneading his heavy balls with the remaining three fingers. The groan faded into another pant, then shot up into a cry of surprised pleasure as Jesse expertly slid one slick finger through Brennan's anus and began rotating it. The elemental felt both incredibly relaxed in the amazing hands- -and mouth- of his lover, while simultaneously drawn taut as a bowstring from the sexual tension Jesse was drawing out of him. Brennan gasped out his breath in a rush, willing his internal muscles to relax even as his limbs tensed, foot pressing down against the mattress, thigh flexing in the crook of Jesse's arm, his own arms stiffening as he gripped the side and back of Jesse's head.

Jesse couldn't help grinning as he felt Brennan relax internally, and began sliding his finger back and forth, as well as rotating it from side to side to entice the tight ring of muscle into accepting its presence. Brennan's moans increased in volume and frequency as Jesse continued stimulating him, and pitched to a sharp cry once more when Jesse suddenly deep-throated him and exchanged his index finger for his thumb at the same time. Jesse bobbed his head to the same speed as the plunging strokes of his thumb, steadfastly ignoring Brennan's desperately incoherent cries. Brennan gasped a few more times before Jesse eased off with his mouth, tasting the bitter yet salty-sweet flavor of the other man's pre-come as he shifted his tongue to Brennan's sac once more, sliding his thumb out and his first and second fingers in without breaking the tempo he had established.

Brennan sighed deeply as he was filled more amply than before, his cock throbbing both pleasantly and urgently as his balls were subjected to an assault that was so intensely delicious he was nearly overwhelmed, the nervous connection from his testicles to his stomach making him feel like he was on the wildest roller coaster ever. The shout that erupted from Brennan's lungs when Jesse's rotating fingers found the hidden bump of his prostate and squeezed it said that the best amusement park wasn't even a distant third, much less a close second.

Jesse's other hand closed over Brennan's cock, stroking slowly, more slowly than the tongue working at the delirious man's balls, slower than the fingers scissoring inside him, flicking and rubbing starbursts of pleasure up and down his spine, exploding behind his eyelids... Brennan cried out in agonizingly pleasurable frustration and attempted to wrap his own fist around Jesse's, to urge him on.

Instead, Jesse caught Brennan's hand in his own, squeezing the other man's fingers in reassurance as he groaned his disappointment at the loss of contact. He quickly moved his tongue from Brennan's balls to his cock once more, licking up its length and all over the head as he let go of the other man's hand and grabbed the tube of gel again. Brennan's free hand rejoined its partner on Jesse's head, trying to urge him into touching his cock with more of his mouth than just his tongue, but Jesse resisted, smiling as he ran the tip of his tongue under the purple ridge of Brennan's cockhead.

Brennan groaned in frustration again as Jesse squirted some gel into his hand and quickly stroked his own cock with it, slicking himself up as he scissored and rotated his other fingers inside Brennan one more time. Brennan gasped in surprised delight as Jesse finally took the head of his cock in his mouth again, cried out in disappointed surprise when Jesse pulled his head away after only an instant, grunted in shock when both the fingers inside him pressed firmly into his prostate, then shouted, stunned when the fingers were suddenly removed to be replaced by something much more fulfilling. Jesse's cock filled him far more deliciously than even his talented fingers as the talented fingers of the blond man's other hand wrapped around his cock.

Jesse grinned and grunted at the same time as he sank home, Brennan's shout fading into a drawn-out groan as he shifted his other leg to wrap them both over Jesse's back, hooking his ankles together over the younger man's tailbone. Jesse panted as he thrust, beginning with a slight back-and-forth wriggling as he used a cleverly placed handi-wipe from behind the headboard to clean the fingers of his right hand. His single-handed fine motor skills swiftly decreased as the wriggling rapidly escalated to out-and-out plowing while Brennan used every muscle he could to urge him onwards, yanking and pulling him into the thrusts.

Trembles shot through Jesse's body as the hot, tight, slick sensations quickly overwhelmed him; he had come too close before they had even gotten their clothes off, and hadn't been touched since. He felt Brennan's body answer the shakes beneath him; he had done a marvelous job of stimulating his lover right up to the brink, then continually changing tactics to keep him there, without pressing him over the edge. Brennan's frustrations were obvious in the way he rocked and thrust beneath Jesse, swaying in counterpoint to each of the molecular's thrusts, crying out as Jesse's cock slid over his prostate with every stroke, clutching at the younger man's back with his heels and gripping him under the arms to pull him harder and farther into every stroke.

Jesse grinned wildly to know that he had driven Brennan to the point of so brazen a lack of self-control, knowing that he had done that, that he had filled the man he loved with so much pleasure he literally couldn't stand it. Jesse couldn't stand much more of the same himself, he knew they were both dancing on the very edge of the precipice over a chasm of pure ecstasy. Jesse could feel the orgasm swiftly building within him, rushing and roaring forward to be released, gaining volume and momentum with every stroke of the sweet spot in the groove of his cockhead over the sweet spot of Brennan's prostate...

Jesse's pants became gasps became grunts became cries as he stroked Brennan's prodigious cock with the same frantic speed he was thrusting into his lover. Brennan's shouts were no less as he writhed beneath Jesse, both feet flat on the mattress once more as he flexed his legs to hump himself back and forth beneath Jesse, crying out as the slight position shift made things so much better, and they'd already been unbelievable to begin with...

Their screams and orgasms were simultaneous, eyes screwed shut and foreheads pressed together as they rode out the shockwaves together, tumbling end over end into that abyss of bliss. Jesse collapsed against Brennan as they both lost track of what up and down and light and dark even meant with the starbursts behind their eyes, much less which one was which. They rolled to one side and wrapped their arms around each other, pulling the man they loved more than life itself close as they both sank into the blissful unconsciousness of sensory overload.


The next few days passed unbelievably quickly, even without any new mutant crises to complicate their schedules. A truce was called on the front of practical joke "tricks", but this did not prevent the rest of the team from teasing Brennan about it, who simply postured and wisecracked back, as usual. The unspoken agreement was that it was good everyone could laugh and Brennan was not holding on to any residual guilt. He and Adam had more than enough of that to spare the rest of the year, anyway.

Shalimar and Emma took great delight in taking advantage of Adam's newly admitted lack of celebratory experience, and gleefully decorated most of Sanctuary in orange, black, fake cobwebs, dry-ice fog, white sheets, black cats, and pumpkins of every size, shape, and description. Brennan and Jesse found it amusing, since Sanctuary would obviously not be receiving any trick-or-treaters, and the only parties would be their own, of which they hadn't planned any since the four of them were going to a Mutant Underground party Saturday night.

Nonetheless, the girls were enjoying the autumn holiday spirit, and jubilantly seized Adam Friday night when he emerged from his lab stating he needed a break for a few hours, and would be honored to spend it with the four of them. The girls dragged Adam into the Serenity Garden, which was anything but serene as they screamed for the guys to hurry the hell up and join them. Jesse and Brennan hustled into the commons to find Emma grinning a manic smile of delight at Adam that was anything but reassuring as Shalimar approached with a number of bowls and various pointy and edged implements clutched in her hands.

"Come On, Boys; Jack-O'-Lanterns! Grab some pumpkins! HURRY!" Shalimar declared as she dumped her armload of supplies between Emma and Adam, helping Emma sort them out as Adam continued to blink in confusion.

Eventually, the five had removed the tops of the pumpkins Brennan and Jesse had fetched, removed the gloppy guts, which Emma had proclaimed they could not possibly throw away, and all five members of Mutant X were studiously carving their pumpkins as the smell of roasting pumpkin seeds began to fill Sanctuary from the kitchen.

Shalimar's tongue peeked from the corner of her mouth as she worked, eyes intent as she frowned at the masterpiece before her she was constructing. Adam had followed Emma's declaration concerning the pumpkin seeds with one of his own, dictating they would remove the excess flesh from the insides of their pumpkins and freeze it to be saved for next month. If he was going to put up with carved pumpkins rotting in his home, they were at least going to make use of them and have fresh pumpkin pie from scratch to go with their Thanksgiving dinner in a few weeks. He had smiled as he said this, and then proclaimed, in his role as the father-figure of Sanctuary, that they were to each carve their jack-o'-lanterns into parodies of themselves, however they saw fit, to make an amusing "family portrait" for Halloween. Shalimar's pumpkin now had a cat nose as well as eyes, a pouty-lipped smile, and a great deal of yellow straw glued with pumpkin guts to its top and sides for "hair". She continued frowning studiously as she carefully scraped away at the inside of the pumpkin, to create hairline-thin "whiskers" that would only truly show when the creation was lit from within.

Emma peeked at Shalimar from the corner of her eye as Jesse and Brennan discussed how much fun it was going to be to fling the rotting jack-o'-lanterns over Sanctuary's cliffs and watch them splatter on November first. Emma smiled as Adam joined the boys' discussion, recommending which cliffs would be most suited for such a purpose, and made her move. Her jack-o'-lantern was pretty much done; she had carved a simple, cute face into it, with gigantic manga-esque eyes to suggest her empathic sensitivity, and carved away the inside of the pumpkin behind its "forehead" right up to the skin, so it would "glow" when the candle was placed inside, just like her own power. She was now idly carving a hairdo into the sides of the pumpkin, and considering staining the cuts red with food coloring. She watched Shalimar's tongue for a moment more, glanced to be sure the three men were engrossed in their destruction conversation and wouldn't give her away, then dipped her fingertip in the stickiest part of her pumpkin she could find and reached out to stroke the tip of Shal's tongue where it still peeked out from her lips.

Shalimar squawked, sputtering as she dropped her sharp spoon inside her pumpkin, then turned on Emma with a wicked smile and a golden gleam to her feral eyes as she slowly raised her gooey hands. Emma "eeped", then grinned and attempted to leap to her feet and flee, but had done no more than uncross her legs before Shalimar had tackled her, gleefully rubbing her pumpkin-beslimed fingers thoroughly through the younger woman's hair. Emma fell back beneath Shalimar's onslaught, laughing and protesting, then sitting up with a grin after Shalimar gave her a quick smack of the lips on her mouth, then sprang back to her cat-o'-lantern and went back to work as if there had been no interruption whatsoever. Emma shook her head, knowing she had gotten what she deserved, and enjoyed it, combing sticky fingers through sticky hair that was no redder than her face.

The boys chuckled at the girl's antics as they continued working, also all nearly finished. Brennan's jack-o'-lantern had a fair rendition of his eyes and nose, complete with a cockily arched eyebrow to match its smirking mouth. Its spiked "hairdo" had been carefully carved out of small lightning bolt-shaped zig-zags, and Jesse had helped him carefully figure where to punch a small hole in its face to create Brennan's beauty mark. Brennan had insisted he was a man and therefore had a mole, never a "beauty-mark"; Jesse had smiled and said moles were ugly and Brennan's mark was beautiful, then kissed it. Brennan smiled back and insisted moles were not necessarily ugly, and kissed the one on the edge of Jesse's lip. He was now randomly punching holes in the bottom of the pumpkin with an awl, in a pattern to suggest a shadowed jawline.

Jesse snickered as he finished up on his jack-o'-lantern; he had taken Adam's concept of a parody and sprinted a marathon with it. Being the sensitive artistic member of the group, he had quickly carved an elaborate hairdo into the pumpkin, giving it tremendous bangs that "flopped" all over its "face" far more than Jesse's ever had in reality. The blond man had determinedly picked an ugly pumpkin with a bumpy surface that was mottled bluish-green in places, and carefully selected a spot with two level bluish blotches to be the eyes. The nose was carved normally enough, if not looking too particularly like Jesse's actual nose, but he had done a fine job of giving his Jesse-o'-lantern his signature lips, pulled to one side in his sarcastically signature smirk. Jesse had proceeded to give the jack-o'-lantern a suggestion of cheekbones, one side obviously made out of "bricks", with jagged lines in the shape of his massed power-signature stretching back across the pumpkin's side. The other side, with more bangs and the corner of its smirking mouth, had been painstakingly hollowed out on a gradient on the inside, so that when lit the features would fade away to one side, in a suggestion of phasing. Adam smiled and complimented Jesse on the science he had applied to his carving.

Adam's own jack-o'-lantern was a surprising study in art, rather than science. The deft skill of his scientist's fingers were obvious in the features, and would be more so when the carving was lit; Adam had thought out the manner in which he had hollowed out the pumpkin's face so that the transparencies would suggest his own bone structure when the candle was placed inside. The older man had done a remarkable job of recreating his features on the jack-o'-lantern's face, even if they were slightly exaggerated. The crinkled set of his eyes and the bridge of his nose were evident, as was the shape of the line signifying the pumpkin's "mouth", and the two creases leading from the sides of its nose to the corners of its mouth. Adam had even accurately suggested his slightly shaggy curls in the pumpkin's top. To cap the caricature off, he had carved "E=mc2" above one of the jack-o'-lantern's temples, and "a2+b2=c2" above the other. Adam had actually grinned and turned his pumpkin around to show the others his efforts before carving the hairdo around his pumpkin's "thoughts"; Jesse had smiled and laughed, Brennan had chuckled and informed Adam that his pumpkin was "a square".

Adam chuckled back, and informed the group there would be pictures momentarily, when they were all finished, and he expected the artists to pose with their creations, not to mention a "traditional family portrait." Emma squealed again and shot out of the room, to drag a sopping brush through her sticky curls a few dozen times and blow her hair dry until until it was neither wet nor curly anymore. Jesse and Brennan chuckled as they stood and began clearing the garden's platform, making room for a small table to display their masterpieces. Shalimar straightened up momentarily and breathed deeply through her nose, her eyes shifting to golden slits as she checked the scents coming from the kitchen, fifteen feet above her head and across the length of the commons area.

"Seeds'll be done in just a sec, throw the junk in the big bowl an' I'll get 'em," Shalimar told the boys as she finished scraping away at the last whisker inside her pumpkin, spooning the debris into her bowl of raw pumpkin flesh to be frozen for the next holiday. She dumped all five bowls of pumpkin meat into one larger bowl, transferred the implements from the other large bowl into the empty bowl on top as she placed them all into the big bow, then grabbed the bowl of orange vegetable matter and headed for the kitchen. Brennan set up the table as Jesse retrieved the candles and matches, and Adam returned to his lab for a quick moment to fetch a digital camera with remote, and a flashlight.

Emma returned with a black satin bedsheet they used as a tablecloth, and the group quickly set up their first shot. A brown wicker hotpad went beneath the baking sheet of salted pumpkin seeds, each of them filching a handful or two as the jack-o'-lanterns were placed around the centerpiece. The four new mutants stepped back as Adam snapped the first picture, their five jack-o'-lanterns gathered as a small family around a feast of their own former innards. Emma O'Lantern's soulful eyes stared into the camera over the slightly cannibalistic scene, next to the wild, prickly yellow hair of her sister Shalimar O'Lantern. Studious father Adam O'Lantern was in the middle, lost in his mathematical thoughts and apparently undecided whether Shal O'Lantern was his eldest daughter or the family pet. Next was Jesse O'Lantern, as the favored son who had arrived first, despite Brennan O'Lantern being the elder, the both of them obviously being brothers with their matching smirks.

Shalimar laughed out loud at the amusing "portrait", then took her place, grinning broadly behind her creation as the others moved into position as well, each smiling on command as Adam pressed the button, capturing their grinning faces above the orange smiles of their pumpkin-clones. Two more shots followed, this time with the candles lit inside the jack-o'-lanterns, then a shot with the lights off, then individual shots of each of them with their creations. These were followed by shots of the artists with their carvings in the dark, the flashlight shining up out of a black plastic cauldron, under their chins and dropping their smiles into spooky shadows. Everyone agreed that Shalimar's darkened shot with her feral eyes gleaming gold in the darkness had turned out the best.

Adam declared that he had not had this much fun since before he had ever joined Genomex, and said he would not be returning to his lab that evening, instead joining his four proteges for a late night of Freddy and Jason movies over roasted pumpkin seeds and popcorn.

Many hours later, Adam smiled sleepily as he looked over the living area, Shalimar's feet in his lap and her head in Emma's, both breathing so deeply in sleep it bordered on snoring. Jesse was curled against Brennan on the loveseat, both of them canted sideways on the small couch, Brennan's head propped in one hand, elbow braced against the armrest, and the back of Jesse's head nestled in the crook of the taller man's neck and other shoulder. The scientist gently moved Shalimar's feet, "shh"ing softly as she opened one eye to peer at him, smiling softly and happily as it closed while Adam stood. He plucked an afghan off the back of the couch and spread it over the girls, quickly tucking it under Shalimar's head when she lifted it up so he could cover Emma with it as well. She said not a word, but the smile remained on her face as he fetched a pillow and blanket from the nearest spare bedroom. He draped the blanket over the younger men, and carefully whispered Brennan's name as he gently grasped the man's wrist and eased his hand out from under his head.

"-wha-?" Brennan muttered as his head slipped forward, his eyes opening groggily as Adam smiled down at him.

"You'd wake with a stiff neck and sore arm if you slept like that all night..." the scientist said with a smile as pushed the pillow into the gap behind Brennan's head as it moved.

"...thanks..." the tall man muttered sleepily as he lay back against the pillow, shifting the slightest bit to get it under his shoulder so that his arm wouldn't be forced to keep working while he slept, careful not to disturb his sleeping partner as he slipped the arm under the blanket, draping it over Jesse's chest.

Adam smiled again as he looked over his team, his proteges, his students, his family, as he turned off the blank blue screen of the television and retired to his own bedroom.


The next day passed by even more quickly than the rest of the week, with the four younger members of Mutant X waking only slightly stiffly to the smell of bacon and eggs wafting down to them from the kitchen. There was a flurry of blankets as the four shot off in separate directions to the bathrooms, and swiftly joined Adam in the dining area a few minutes later for fresh coffee, croissants, bacon, and omelettes.

"Wow, Adam this is amazing! Thanks!" Brennan commented as he sat down, surveying the amazing breakfast before them.

"Yeah, thanks, Adam!" Emma chimed in with a smile as she added a piece or two of bacon to her omelette and a buttered croissant to her plate.

Jesse murmured a groggy something that might have been a thanks of some non-morning-person sort as he poured a large mug of coffee; Shalimar frowned at Adam, a smile dancing behind her eyes.

"How'd you pull this off, Adam?" she asked as she piled bacon onto her plate, absently adding a bit more to each of the men's plates before she cleared the platter. Adam smiled as she tucked several of the pieces into her ham and sausage omelette. "You've got way too much meat cooked here for it to have taken me so long to smell it, even in my sleep. I'd almost think you drugged us to keep us out so you could finish, or at least me anyway, but obviously I'd know if that had happened!" she said with a real smile of thanks to their mentor, the laughter in her eyes replaced by curiosity.

Adam grinned. "Shalimar, do you have any idea how many completely original patents I had to file to fund this place?" the scientist asked, gesturing out at the vast expanse of Sanctuary in general. "To say nothing of the Double Helix. There are some very good, very quiet fans here in the kitchen, if anyone ever decides they want to cook privately."

Jesse snickered over his mug as he set the coffee down. "Plus, you had no idea if the cooking skills of any of the teenagers you would begin training to become Mutant X might be enough to drive you from your lab or potentially even burn down the kitchen otherwise," the blond man said as he salted his eggs, his blue eyes clearing as he woke more fully under the coffee's reviving effects, and sparkling with amusement at a fond memory.

"True enough," Adam conceded, smiling and glancing to Shalimar as he remembered a teenage feral and molecular attempting to secretly make a frozen pizza at around four in the morning without turning any lights on. Shalimar studiously ate her breakfast and didn't meet the eyes of anyone except Brennan, ignoring the curious and interested expression Emma was directing her way. Shalimar was very glad Emma could not actually read thoughts and would not be picking up the memories of pot-holders on the very back of the stovetop over the oven vent, and smoke detectors, and brilliant angry geneticists at a quarter after four in the morning.

Breakfast was eaten, dishes were cleared, weekend chores were performed as rapidly as possible, and Adam retreated to his lab to prepare the resources he would need for his meeting that evening. The other four took turns exercising in the dojo, emailing, phoning, and video transmissioning replies to everyone who needed to know the four of them were coming to the party that evening, checking the various monitors to make sure no emergencies were popping up, and sneaking through Sanctuary to snitch another handful of the candy they were going to drop off for the children of the Underground before the party. Eventually Adam emerged from his lab for a very late lunch, and took the four baskets of candy back into the lab with him, leaving the rest of the salted pumpkin seeds in their place instead.

A bit more than an hour before the party was scheduled to start, the four field members of Mutant X met in the common living area to discuss their plans.

"Very simple," Emma stated authoritatively as they convened. "None of us know what the others are going as, so we all go separately and surprise each other when we get there. And no waiting around the kids' safehouse to see the next person drop off their candy!" she insisted with one eyebrow arched in superior expectation, and the other drown down in a frown signifying what her displeasure would be if her expectations were not met.

"Waitasecond! You know what I'm going as! And I thought you were going as a fairytale princess!?" Shalimar exclaimed in protest. Emma rolled her eyes.

"I changed my mind, Shal. And we ALL know you're going as a cat, but we don't know what specifically, so this still works," she insisted.

Jesse and Brennan exchanged a glance and shrugged. "How do you know we don't what the other is going as?" Jesse asked Emma, cocking his head and considering her curiously. Emma rolled her eyes again.

"Because, you've both been full of gleeful anticipation every time anyone has mentioned the costumes or party for the last few days, including each other," she replied as if that had been obvious. Which, Jesse supposed, it was to her, which they should have thought of.

"Okay," Brennan said agreeably. "Mine's fun; I have no problem driving myself and showing it off."

Jesse grinned. "Me too, actually."

Shalimar raised an irritated eyebrow. "Well okay, but I object to being classified as predictable!" she declared, staring defiance at each of her friends.

Brennan and Jesse exchanged another look. "You don't really want either of us to reply to that, do you?" Jesse asked, shaking his head at Shalimar.

The feral merely stuck her tongue out at them both, and strode for her room. Brennan laughed.


An hour and twenty minutes later, Shalimar was prowling the party, growing frustrated that she had yet to catch any of her teammate's scents, much less sight of them. She slid through the happily gyrating press of bodies on the dance floor, knowing that her tail would be twitching if it weren't a simple accessory on her costume. She was wearing a skin tight leopard-print shirt, and black leather pants with three lurid orange tiger stripes on each thigh. Her glossy boots came up to her knees, and her brown suede gloves came up to her elbows, where they were trimmed in shaggy yellow fur. Her tail was attached to the back of her belt, a long tube of black felt that matched the triangular ears she wore on either side of the top of her head. The tip of her nose was painted black, matching the three whiskers painted on each cheek. Seeing some of the elaborate costumes that passed by her, including other ferals dressed as the animals they emulated, she felt a bit underdressed.

Then she felt that perhaps her look might be better as her eyes shifted to feral gold, but that was a moot point, because the shift was in response to the gloved hands that suddenly dropped over her eyes.

"Guess who!" a young voice proclaimed, younger than Emma's. Shalimar frowned, knowing the voice sounded familiar, then inhaled, checking the stranger's scent. Which was also familiar, but it took her a moment to place it.

"Tina!?" the blonde woman questioned, spinning to confront the youngest member of the Benedict family. Shalimar spun to find herself face to green face with the blonde girl she remembered, except for the pink princess gown, complete with silk scarf-topped hat, and the green skin and strange rubbery balloon that protruded from the dress' neckline. Shalimar frowned and peered closer to be sure.

"Tina?" she questioned, then snickered. "What the hell are you?" Tina smiled and held out her arms, displaying more silk hanging from her costume in medieval fashion.

"I'm a Frog-Princess! I have to find a handsome prince to kiss me! But all I have is Daniel," she laughed, pointing at a young knight in chrome armor standing on the other side of Shalimar. Shalimar grinned.

"And let me guess. Your father Steven is the King?" she asked, turning back to the younger feral.

"Of course!" Tina and Daniel replied in unison, pointing. Shalimar turned to see the head of the Benedict clan a few yards away, dressed as an atrocious Elvis impersonation, complete with fur-lined red velvet cape and a gem bestudded crown. Shalimar laughed out loud; the experienced telekinetic had both a toy electric guitar and a "goblet" of punch hovering near his hands.

"So, how have things been for you guys? It's been awhile," Shalimar said to Daniel as he raised his full-face visor and smiled at her.

"Pretty well," the junior telekinetic answered. "Mom and Dad officially adopted Tina a few months ago," he told her. Shalimar spun back to beam a brilliant smile at Tina before sweeping the frog princess off her feet in a feral hug.

"That's fantastic!" Shalimar cried, turning to take Steven's hand in both of her own as he approached, shaking it warmly and congratulating him. Her costume worries were forgotten as she got into the true spirit of a Mutant Underground party.

A short while later Shalimar found Brennan at the snack table, near the punch bowl, and doubled over laughing when she spotted him. Brennan turned at the familiar sound of Shalimar's amusement, and grinned broadly at her. "Hey, the Cat-Lady made it!" he proclaimed, grabbing a fresh cup of the suspiciously orange punch and handed it to her as he approached. Shalimar straightened and took the punch with one hand, mouth open as she carefully wiped tears of laughter away with her other hand before they could interfere with her makeup. Brennan was wearing what looked suspiciously like pajamas, decorated in broad alternating stripes of horizontal faded black and pale grey that looked like it was supposed to be age-faded off-white, complete with numbers on the left lapel. It wasn't just the fact that Brennan was dressed as a convict that amused Shalimar however, but the fact that there were wooden boards strapped under his forearms and across his shoulders. Metal straps at the wrists and elbows held the boards to his arms, which had wires running to a metallic headband across his forehead. The band had curly telephone cord wires attaching its sides to the board across his back, which had a large Frankenstein's lab looking lever on its back

Brennan grinned hugely at Shalimar's reaction, and held his arms out as if they were resting over the arms of a chair. He proceeded to electrify himself, blue lightning crackling along his costume's accessories, and allowed his jaw to fall slackly open as he crossed his eyes and twitched his arms and head, slowly letting it loll to one side as the electricity continued. Shalimar worried she would kill him by getting him wet while using his powers when she nearly sprayed her drink all over him as he hammed it up.

"Now that is classic!" Jesse smirked as he stepped forward, giving Shal a nod as he leaned up against Brennan, taking one of the tall man's arms and draping it over his own shoulder. Both Shalimar and Brennan stared at Jesse speechlessly as he smirked from Brennan's side, helping himself to what was left of the cup of punch in Brennan's hand he had captured.

Jesse's costume was neither elaborate nor extensive, and yet it was both. He wore black patent leather motorcycle boots, complete with sterling silver chains over the front of the ankles, and skintight black leather pants. He wore a black fine mesh shirt, just a single step shy of skintight, casting fascinating shadows over the lines of his musculature. The outfit was completed by a small silk shirt, deep scarlet and unbuttoned, clinging to his biceps and the lines of his back as he casually leaned against his lover. The costume had only three accessories, relatively simple: a black leather wrist cuff with a silver watchface embedded in it, a slender leather grip with one of those hideous fire-engine red plastic children's pitchfork tops attached to it, and a realistic looking pair of crimson horns peeking out from beneath his wild-yet-coifed bangs. Brennan's jaw dropped as he realized the "handle" of Jesse's "pitchfork" was a black leather riding crop. The whole costume was subtle, while simultaneously screaming sex-on-legs, yet screaming it discreetly enough it could be overlooked at a party with teenagers present. Mostly.

Shalimar raised an eyebrow at Jesse as she noticed he was wearing black eyeliner. The eye she was looking into winked at her. Shal smiled wickedly as Jesse finished draining the last of Brennan's drink, then placed the empty cup back in the hand dangling in front of his chest. The feral wasn't sure precisely what had gotten into the little brother she never had, but she was enjoying watching the results. Brennan leaned over Jesse's shoulder to peer into the cup with a frown, contemplated for a split second, then allowed his hand to go slack, not dropping the cup, but allowing it to tip enough to let the dregs drip out over its edge. Jesse didn't even bat an eye, simply phased and stepped backwards, smirking again as Shal laughed and Brennan cursed, backpedalling quickly to avoid spilling the orange drops on his own leg. The elemental Death Row Convict found himself stepping back into his lover's waiting arms, which casually wrapped around his middle and patted his abs, "accidentally" almost slapping the tall man in the groin with business end of the riding crop, just as if Jesse had planned it that way the entire time.

"And you said I was evil..." Brennan commented as he turned to put an arm over Jesse's shoulders once more, which was much more comfortable for both of them considering Brennan had a board with a giant metal switch strapped to his back.

"You are evil," Jesse replied. "You're a Death Row Convict, you must be evil, even if not as bad as your sentence suggests..." the molecular went on airily, twirling his pitchfork so the end flipped over and teasingly slapped Brennan's hand where it rested on Jesse's collarbone. "I happen to be Satan. I'm evil's Boss," he finished with another superior smirk, and the knowledge showing in his eyes that he had come out the winner in this little battle of wits game, set, and match.

Brennan shook his head in admiring defeat and followed his lover's lead as Jesse led them back to the punchbowl to retrieve fresh drinks for the both of them.

Emma smiled at Vince and Allison as she entered the safehouse, nodding cockily at Allison's regal bow and accepting the cup of punch Vince offered her with both hands and a bow. Allison was dressed as "gold"-dripping Cleopatra, and Vince was her loyal servant in very fetching Egyptian toga ensemble, complete with headpiece and ancient-looking sandals. Emma headed for a quiet corner, and waited for the mood of the party to hit the right pitch, and keep watch for her teammates.

A few minutes later Emma spotted Shalimar dancing energetically with Vince, almost keeping up with the Asian molecular's super-speed, while Allison grinned and struck Egyptian style Vogue positions around the both of them, sashaying her hips and her head from side to side to the beat of the song. Emma grinned as she saw Brennan and Jesse dancing together; both their costumes were amusing, and Jesse had his forefingers hooked through the cables on Brennan's arms, forcing the taller man closer as Jesse dirty-danced in front of him, the switch of his riding-crop-pitchfork hooked through one of the wires coming from Brennan's headpiece and adding that much more of a dominating air to their presence. The two walked a narrow line, not really caring if anyone thought they were "together", since they in fact were, but maintained a wickedly funny plausible deniability through the fact that Brennan acted completely as if he had no choice but to be there, the comical look of horror on his face screaming the devil was making him do it, even as said devil continued to dance with abandon, smooth and sensuous and apparently completely unaware of the tall convict he was forcing to follow his movements.

Emma blushed as she got hits off her male teammates, and looked around for people enjoying the party in a manner that would compliment her entrance a bit more readily. She was ready to project the emotions she was "receiving" as a broad band emanation, reflecting the party's enjoyment back on itself in a self-propelling spiral that would leave everyone in an emotional endorphin high. She didn't think projecting her teammate's wicked sensations of libido would quite have the same effect, no matter how much they were enjoying themselves in the process.

*Emma? Is that you!?* a voice projected in her mind, and she turned, instinctively homing in on the psionic emission, and spotting Ruby through the crowd. The chubby bookstore owner was dressed as Dionysis, complete with a large white toga, wine-red sash, golden goblet, and wreath of fern leaves over his temples. Emma snickered when she realized the traditional ancient Greek laurels were attached to the stems of his glasses.

_Ruby?_ she thought back at him as she met his eyes. _How are you?_ she smiled.

*I'm good!* he projected back to her. *Your costume's perfect, and you can make everyone happy just like she does!* he projected to her telepathically, smiling across the room. Emma smiled back.

_Well, yeah, that's my plan actually, but I need some revelry to project first. Think you can intervene as a deity on my behalf?_ she asked. The young psionic smiled as she heard his chortling laugh from across the room, over the sound of the dance floor and people conversing.

*Absolutely! One revelry distraction, coming up!* the safehouse operator replied with a toast of his goblet in her direction, then raised it high.

"All right, Everyone!" he called out, stepping up to his role as both the ancient Greek god of celebrations, and as the administrator of the central division of the Mutant Underground. "What are we here to do!?!" he cried joyously, raising his other arm as he threw them wide in ecstatic supplication.

"PARTY!!!" the room cried back, laughter breaking out throughout the room as the DJ launched into another energetic song, Ruby throwing his arms up and swaying to the beat of the music, to be quickly surrounded by fellow dancing participants.

Emma basked in the glorious sensations of joy washing through her empathic senses, unused to feeling so much joy and harmonious emotions, a near-total lack of disturbing emotions in a crowd so large. She allowed the joy and happiness to flow through her, projecting it back out into the people it was coming from, only to feel it heightened as it was added to the happiness they were continuing to feel. She flavored it with the giddy excitement she was personally feeling at the experience, letting that confidence radiate out from her as well, the manic glee she felt from her three best friends as they enjoyed themselves, and stepped forward to make her entrance.

"Hi, Everyone!" she shouted as gleefully as she could, stepping forward into the lights of the dance floor and propping one hand cockily on her hip, and tilting her head to one side as she considered the party before her. "I'm Pippi Longstocking!!" she proclaimed, and thrust both fists into the air as various people cried out with delight and laughter at her comically in character entrance, euphoria washing over them all, particularly the psionics who knew the story and recognized what she was doing. Emma had her bright red hair drawn into two tightly braided pigtails, with enough gel and hair spray to get them to stick straight out from the sides of her head. She was wearing a hideously red checked flannel shirt of Jesse's, with the sleeves pinned up above her elbows, and an ancient pair of overalls that Shalimar had outgrown only a year or two after arriving at Sanctuary. She finished the costume off with a rough pair of ankle boots that would have looked underclassed at a Salvation Army surplus sale, and a pair of green wool "socks" that came up over her knees, only an inch or two short of the hem of the overalls. There was a careful dusting of artificial freckles applied to the bridge of her nose, and the girlish delight in her liquid grey eyes was one hundred percent natural.

Shalimar screamed laughter and made a beeline for "Pippi" from the center of the dance floor, seizing her hands and jumping up and down, squealing in girlish glee. "Oh! It's perfect! You're Perfect! That's HYSTERICAL!!" Shalimar cried as she and Emma grinned into each others faces. "Ohmygod, I loved that story as a little girl, my mom read it to me, I was gonna grow up to be just as strong and have adventures..." Both women doubled over in hysterical laughter, still holding both of each other's hands as they giggled at how perversely true that particular childhood fantasy had come to be. "God, you're doing this, aren't you!? EVERYbody's giddy! That's fabulous!" Shalimar snickered as more tears of laughter rolled down her face, unmindful of the potential damage to her "whiskers".

The party continued, blasting into full swing as hot hors' devours were delivered from the kitchen, everyone snacking, dancing, conversing, laughing, and generally having an outstanding time. Emma stopped projecting when Shalimar tackled her, not wanting to flood everyone in the room with the emotions of a single person she was focused on, but by that point the party had more than enough "good vibration" steam to continue on its own for quite some time. Several people came up to Emma to congratulate her on her costume and entrance, many of them sharing how the books had meant so much to them as a child, or how she herself had seemed to bring a joy to everyone she met, just like Pippi did. Shal grinned hugely every time that happened.

Eventually, the four members of Mutant X were having a slightly less grand time of things, because people kept asking them where Adam was, or if he was coming, or when he was coming. They had gathered together by the relatively quiet apple-bobbing tub, which Tina and the other amphibious ferals had made short work of, and discussed how they might answer such questions along the lines of "someone has to fight the good fight while we all party" when the question of their answer was answered for them.

A murmur swept through the crowd, coming from the direction of the entrance. The crowd parted as Ruby hurried toward the DJ's booth, miming a finger across his throat in a signal to cut the music, while simultaneously projecting a babble of excitement into the man's mind that made him hesitate in confusion until the chubby Dionysis reached him and snatched the microphone from its stand.

"Ladies And Gentlemen! Your Attention Please!" he cried excitedly as Shal, Emma, Brennan and Jesse pressed forward, trying to see what was going on. "Ladies and Gentlemen of the Mutant Underground, it is my extreme honor and pleasure to present to you a guest of the most extreme honor! The man who has made all of this possible, in most cases including our lives, or at least their quality of health, Dr. Adam Kane!" The crowd parted all the way to the DJ's booth, murmurs of amazement, surprise, hope, and laughter echoing through the crowd as the man made his way to the front of the room.

The laughter increased as Adam crossed the dance floor, growing uproarious as he glanced about in apparent confusion, finally reaching the DJ's booth and walking right past it, still looking about for something, then buttonhooking around the booth and coming to a stumbling stop before the DJ. The DJ grinned as Adam blinked in confusion and Ruby handed him the microphone.

By this point the crowd was in hysterics. Adam was wearing the traditional long white labcoat of a scientist, over a pair of pale blue pajamas and a navy blue bathrobe. A pair of horn-rimmed glasses were sitting on top of his head, upside-down, and a clipboard with the words: "MY NOTES" printed in large black letters across it dangled against his back, somehow caught in the loop at the back of the coat for hanging it by the shoulder blades, if anyone would ever want to do such a thing. There was clear plastic tubing wrapped around Adam's left elbow, which led both to and from a complicated-looking arrangement of flasks, bottles, and other tubes on a cart behind him. The clear containers were filled with various brightly colored liquids, several of them bubbling and some of those producing clouds of vaporous smoke. There was a screen on the bottom of the cart, with a giant bright red question mark repeatedly flashing on it. The entire cart was dragged behind Adam as it was pulled along by the tube attached to his elbow, jostling the backs of his feet with every step, which were unexplicably clad in bright red galoshes. Adam kept looking around, turning to peer behind him, apparently trying to see whatever was striking his feet, but the tail of the other side of his coat was also tangled up with the cart, so every time he turned, the cart swung around to remain behind him. As if all that weren't obvious enough, he had a large plastic pocket-protector clipped to the lapel of the coat, which stated his name to be "The Absent Minded Professor".

Adam smiled genuinely as he took the microphone from Ruby.

"Thank You! Thank You Everyone; Thank You for being here, thank you for your applause, and thank you most of all for your support over all the years. We have made great strides in the fight to keep New Mutants free to live their own lives, especially in the last few years, and all of that is more in thanks to you and your efforts than to me and mine. So my thanks to you, and to four special people who have done the most dangerous of that work. Get up here, you four," Adam said with a radiantly proud smile, waving his team forward. All four exchanged glances with one another and seemed a bit embarrassed, but then Emma murmured 'he means it!' and Jesse and Shalimar strode forward, followed by Brennan and Emma.

The audience cheered and clapped as they approached the impromptu stage, and the four heroes turned to smile and wave at the people they had helped in ways large and small over the last year or so, or more in Jesse and Shalimar's case.

"My friends," Adam called out over the continued cheering and applause, "I give you the reason all of us are here today, the reason that the Mutant Underground is a success and will continue to be one, no matter what the future holds. I give you: Mutant X!" their leader declared, stepping back, pushing his cart ahead of him with the hand holding the microphone, and raising the other high, palm up, to present his "family" to the rest of his genetic "children".

The crowd went wild, the DJ restarting the music at a more frenetic pace than ever as the team stepped forward, waving and smiling, partly in gratitude for the reception, and partly out of embarrassment. Brennan reached out and caught Jesse's hand, turning to meet Emma's gaze and taking hers as Jesse grabbed Shalimar's. All four smiled triumphantly to the crowd and bowed deeply, then began clapping themselves as they rose.

"Okay, Everybody, Let's DANCE!" Shalimar shouted out with all the strength of her feral diaphragm, and leapt forward into the mob. The other three grinned and waved one last time, following Adam to the side of the DJ's booth.

"Adam, how are you here? I thought you couldn't get away?" Emma asked in confusion as their mentor smiled proudly at them.

"Well, I couldn't," he replied. "But then my meeting fell through. Two hours ago my contact emailed me, apologizing that he couldn't make it tonight, and asked to reschedule." A smile of genuine pleasure filled Adam's face, settling in his eyes as he met his "children's" gazes. "He had to take his daughter to a Halloween party, and Family is more important."

The End