"Not going out tonight?" Adam asked as he entered the control room to see Jesse sitting at his favorite console, working.

The young man glanced up momentarily before returning to his task. "No. Not quite feeling like it," he said, his voice toneless.

Adam watched the young man for a moment, noting tension and the self-imposed isolation that shrouded him. "Are you feeling alright Jesse?" Adam asked, coming over to him, his presence demanding the younger man's attention.

Jesse sighed, annoyed that he was once again being distracted from his work, but still, he turned to look at his mentor. He knew from experience that Adam was not one to be ignored. "I'm fine. Nothing's wrong. I've just been working on this stupid thing all day…."

"Which stupid thing?" Adam asked, not fully buying Jesse's excuse. It was probably an overreaction; leftover sensitivity from Hillview, but Adam was sure that Jesse's current sullenness was due to a disagreement between he and Brennan. Rather, another disagreement. It seemed that the two had been butting heads a lot lately. Although, truth be told, they barely spoke to each other. It's just that when they did speak, it usually was an argument.

Jesse, while now fully recovered physically, was still tense whenever Brennan was near, and Brennan, whenever close to Jess, seemed nervous. It was like the two danced around each other, unsure what to do about their emotions or thoughts. Adam had been hopeful that they could put things behind them, especially when it had appeared to all that Jesse had forgiven Brennan. Apparently, that was a fool's hope. Jesse did not seem to have quite moved on.

Jesse sighed and glanced back at the computer. Adam could sense his desire to withdraw back into his world of logic and data. That was unnerving for the mentor; seeing Jesse retreat into his head again. Especially when he and Jess had worked so hard to break down those walls.

"The safe house security updates. I've gotten behind on them. I'm almost caught up, it's just taking awhile," Jesse finally said.

Adam sighed, wishing he had the time to sit down and talk with Jesse, convince him to open up. To find out why he was so focused on his self assigned task. To discover why he didn't want to spend time with the others, not even Emma or Shalimar. To reassure him that he did not have to prove himself to anyone. That the reason Brennan said what he had was because he knew that it would get to Jesse; not because he believed it.

But Jesse was stubborn and proud, and no amount of pressing would get him to talk before he was ready. "Alright Jess… I have an engagement; I'll be back late. Try and get some rest, or at least take a break?" Adam said preparing to leave.

Jesse didn't respond. He turned back to the monitor and was absorbed in the screen the moment Adam had dismissed him; more than happy to build the walls of isolation. He didn't even notice the look of sorrow Adam gave him as he left.

It was an hour or so later when Jesse slammed his hands down in frustration. One of the safe houses' computers wasn't responding. They weren't even operating. And of course, this was the last safe house he had to update before this stupid project was done. With an aggravated sigh, Jesse glanced at the time, nine thirty.

By now, Shalimar and Emma would both be at one of the clubs, and chances of getting them on the comm. were slim to none. Brennan was out with friends or whatever and Jesse had no desire to call the older man and ask for his help. He didn't want to contact Adam either, knowing that his mentor didn't get opportunities to relax too often. That left only him to go and check the safe house.

"Fantastic. Just…" Jesse chewed his lip and rolled his shoulders, trying to ease his frustration. He didn't know why he was so worked up over something that didn't warrant such aggravation. He could assume that it had to do with his nearly constant state of tension, but even still, he was letting this get to him way too easily.

"Maybe I should take over the dojo tomorrow," he mumbled to no one as he pushed himself out of his chair. After typing a message on his console, just in case he didn't make it back before the others, Jesse left the control room for the garage.


Safe house twenty-nine was, and always would be, Jesse's least favorite. It was an underground cave like apartment in the slums of the city. It was dark. It was cramped. And it smelled musty. Walking into the main room, Jesse had to give himself a moment to adjust to his surroundings so that his claustrophobia wouldn't rear its ugly head.

He took the opportunity to study the place, looking for signs that anything was out of place. The room was small, with a kitchen and living space. There was a wooden table set off to a side to divide the two areas, kind of a makeshift dinning area. On the far side of the room, was the computer and just to the left of it was a hallway that lead to the bedrooms and bathroom. It could have been a nice little apartment, if they could just get ride of the smell and do something about the low ceilings.

Seeing nothing out of place, Jesse shut the main door and climbed down the stairs. Before moving farther into the room, he tried to turn on the lights. Alarm bells went off when flipping the light switch failed to turn them on. Shifting into a relaxed defensive stance, Jesse took another look around. This time he was more careful than with his cursory look, and now he noticed all the little things that were out of place… Things like semi opened drawers in the kitchen, and the computer being unplugged.

Jesse, cautiously, made his way towards the back hallway. His plan was to make his way room-to-room, searching. He was too well trained to panic and instantly assume that he was in danger. This could have easily been, however unlikely, a robbery attempt or the result of anyone of Mutant X's underground "Conductors" moving people. Some of the long serving ones operated on instinct and moved people to safe houses for quick stops without notifying Adam right away. It could have easily been either option, until a massive blur rushed him as soon as he cleared the wall. Jesse was knocked back, into the futon in the living room.

Instead of fighting his momentum, Jesse used it to roll over the back and stand quickly. By then, his attacker had already disappeared back into the shadows. Jesse, now in full defensive mode, moved towards the safe house door, eyes scanning. His eyes had fully adjusted to the darkness but he couldn't see or hear anything, which didn't surprise him. He was already assuming that he was fighting a new mutant, just what type, he couldn't say. Not yet.

Movement to his left caught his attention, and Jesse managed to block a punch aimed for his head. When he moved to return it, however, his attacker was gone. Jesse spun, trying to locate the intruder. He was convinced that they couldn't be too far from him, and he was right. A blow to his back sent him staggering forward. Again, Jesse didn't fight his momentum; he used it. Falling forward he caught himself before he hit the floor, and kicked out. This time he made contact, and earned a grunt for his effort.

He didn't take any time to congratulate himself before he was up and running for the door. He never made it. The intruder tackled him from behind, and together they crashed to the floor. Jesse used his powers to quickly break free from his attacker, and roll away. He ended up close to the wooden table. He had barely managed to climb to his feet when he was picked up and slammed on top of the table, knocking all the breath from his body.

Before Jesse had a chance to recover, his attacker pinned his arms above his head and drove a metal stake through the palms of his hands, embedding the tip, and a portion of the shaft, into the wood. Jesse screamed, his back arching, as black spots danced before his eyes. Wave after wave of pain coursed through him, robbing him of his ability to fight. Then, just when he was able to think again, his attacker stabbed a second spike through his right thigh, again embedding it. That was all that Jesse could take; he blacked out.


The smell of rotten eggs reached his nose, nearly making him retch.

Jesse jerked, causing a new sharp wave of pain in his hands and leg. It also informed him that his captor had added a new restraint. What felt like a belt had been wrapped around his neck limiting his airflow. He was now blindfolded and gagged, and had been stripped of his coat, shirt, socks, and shoes. It was an incredibly vulnerable state for Jesse, and he couldn't stop himself from panicking. Unfortunately, that meant aggravating his injuries, an act that threatened to make him pass out again.

A strange hand pressed down on his chest, forcing Jesse to still, and an unfamiliar male voice said, "Shhhh, easy there. You don't want to hurt yourself." The overly cheerful tone and the clearly helpless state he was in did nothing to reassure Jess, but he had a point. So, with great effort, Jesse forced himself to relax as best he could.

Once he was sure that his victim had calmed down, the man gave him a pat and then continued on with his preparations. He set aside the smelling salts he'd used to bring Jesse back and picked up a skinning knife. He smiled wickedly at the blade, before turning to examine his prey.

The blond molecular was exactly the member of Mutant X he had hoped to lure out. Not only did he suspect that Jesse was the weakest member, but he was also the one who was guaranteed to have all the information his employers would need. Security codes, the location and layout of Sanctuary, and, of course, all the information pertaining to the underground network; he couldn't have wanted more. Well except for maybe Dr. Kane. Still, he didn't see the good doctor breaking as easily as the whelp before him, but what a whelp.

The young man was stretched in a stress position, his back arched slightly to relieve some of the pain in his hands and strain on his throat. This also served to show off his finely tuned athletic physique. Despite the coolness of the evening and lack of heat in the safe house, Jesse had a fine sheen of sweet forming on his torso, making his skin shimmer in the dim light. The scent of fear and pain mixed with blood in an intoxicating bouquet, a fact his feral mind loved.

He smiled. This was going to be an enjoyable assignment; easy, dirty, and quick. And maybe when I'm done, he though to himself as he eyed Jesse's body, I can spend a couple of hours with the whelp before I kill him.

Running his hand through Jesse's hair he said, "Name's Heath. You're Jesse and I know all about you and Mutant X. About Emma, and Shalimar, and Brennan, and Adam." Heath moved his hand lightly down the side of Jesse's face, dragging his fingertips along his throat. A feral smile graced his face when he felt the shudder run through his prey. "I know what you do and all the like. But what I don't know, and what you're going to tell me, is the how and the where. You're going to give me Sanctuary, Jesse."

Heath ever so carefully ran the tip of the knife along Jesse's waistline, again causing the blond to shudder. It amused him at just how easily his prey was frightened. He could only imagine how he would react when the real torture began. "Make no mistake, Jesse-o. You're dead. I'm going to kill you tonight. But, I'm giving you this one chance to make it easy on yourself. Come clean, and it'll all be over. One quick stab through the heart; no pain. But if you think you're tough…"

Heath applied a small amount of pressure to the knife blade and cut into Jesse's side, leaving a shallow cut along Jess' lowest right rib. Jesse hissed in pain from the wound. He flinched away, but that only caused a new wave of pain in his hands and leg. This was going to be hell.

Heath, amused with Jesse, continued on, "So, what do ya want pretty boy?"

Unable to vocalize his reply, Jesse simply stiffened his body, and did his best to stare straight ahead. Not that he could see anything, but he tried. He was a molecular; his whole life had been lived in constant pain from his powers. He could take whatever this bastard dealt him. He would not break. Help would come…eventually… he could hold on.

"Good," Heath said, as he began cutting into Jesse's side, "This is more fun."


"Gotta hand it to you, pretty boy, didn't think you'd last this long."

Heath was taking a break. Jesse could barely smell the cigarette smoke over the stench of his own blood. He drifted in and out of awareness, never lucky enough to approach unconsciousness. Heath was too good at torture.

Had it been an hour… two? Jesse didn't know. He'd lost track of time, hell he'd lost track of a lot of things. Like, when the gag had been removed so that Heath could listen to him scream. Or when his blood had dried on his skin, making it feel funny when he breathed. Or maybe those were the knife wounds? He wasn't sure. Hell, he wasn't even sure what he had been subjected to. He just knew it hurt and he had lost a lot of blood.

"You alright over there? Still with me?" Heath called, demanding Jesse's attention.

The molecular moved his head in the direction of his torturer's voice. He was still blindfolded, so he couldn't see him, but he could hear him all too well. Heath liked to laugh when Jesse screamed.

Jesse sensed Heath approaching him and he shied away, earning a chuckle for his effort. "Naw, don't do that," the twisted bastard taunted, reaching out and groping Jesse. Not long into his torture session, Heath had learned that was the quickest way to take control of his prey. He smiled as, once again, his victim froze and the scent of fresh fear reached him.

Intoxicated on the scent, Heath leaned in close to Jesse's neck and inhaled. His eyes flashed silver as his feral mind awoke briefly, and he couldn't resist a taste. His eyes roamed Jesse's torso, examining the many jagged and careless gouges that marred his flesh until he found one that would suit his purpose. Almost tenderly, he licked a wound on Jesse upper groin, earning a whimper from Jesse. He growled a laugh before he forced his tongue into the wound, causing it not only to reopen, but also to widen.

Jesse screamed at the invasion, both from pain and violation. "Stop," he choked out, "Please!" Jesse's already painfully raw voice was made worse by sobs of pain and shame as he tried to twist away from his assailant, once again feeling the pain from his injuries reawaken.

Sensing Jesse's rising panic, and unwilling to risk the blond passing out, Heath stopped drinking Jesse's blood and released his hold. He covered Jesse's mouth, muffling his sobs, and kissed Jesse's forehead. "It's alright now, you're alright," he said in that same sickening cheerful voice. Still though, Jesse calmed.

"There ya go, pretty boy, there ya go," he taunted as he pulled his hand away, leaving Jesse to pant. Heath frowned, noticing for the first time how tight the belt had become around Jesse's neck. He had wanted it tight enough to prevent the use of Jesse's powers, not tight enough to strangle him, but he could see the signs of bruising and the leather cutting into the skin.

"You're going to crush your windpipe," he grumbled as he loosened the belt enough to slide a finger in. To Jesse it felt like an elephant had been taken off of him. He could breathe! Granted, it still wasn't enough to allow him to free himself, but the oxygen did help to clear away some of the fog in his head and ease his pain. He could only guess at how long that would last.

Heath studied Jesse for a long minute, wondering what he could do to the blond now. He had, apparently, underestimated the molecular's pain tolerance and was at a loss for what to do. After three hours of constant torture, surely the blond couldn't have all that much fight left in him? Then a very wicked, and very pleasing, idea entered Heath's mind and made him laugh.

There were other methods of torture that didn't involve skinning your prey; ones that had already proven useful in controlling him. One that I'm going to enjoy, oh so very much, Heath thought as he unzipped his pants.


Adam walked through the halls of Sanctuary, a frown firmly on his face. He had, had an exceptionally pleasant evening sharing the company of an especially pleasant woman, only to come home and find Sanctuary empty of all his 'children'. He hadn't expected the others to be home from their evenings out yet, but he had expected to find Jesse still at his computer or, at least, in the dojo. The message his 'youngest' had left had eased some of the worry, but it had been five hours working on one computer.

Repeated calls to Jesse's comm. and the safe house had failed to receive an answer. This wasn't unusual if Jesse was caught up in his work, but Adam couldn't see what was taking his resident tech expert five hours to get a computer up and running. Especially in a safe house he hated.

But the question was, did he risk going to check on his youngest protégé for nothing, thus furthering the rift Jesse was creating. Or did he risk letting Jesse come home on his own, though he could possibly be in trouble. Adam sighed; he just didn't have the answer. Until his comm. chimed, that was.

"Hey Adam," Brennan's voice came over his personal comm. channel. The older man sounded tired, maybe a little tense.

"Yes Brennan?" Adam asked, hoping that nothing was seriously wrong.

"Uh… I'm just checking… Jesse's not still up… is he?"

Adam sighed, apparently the fight between the two men was more serious than he first thought if Brennan was asking him if it was safe to come home. Maybe this was the perfect opportunity…. "Jesse's not here at the moment," Adam answered, the wheels in his mind turning.

"Whew… thanks. I'll be home soon."

"Actually, Brennan, I need you to do me a favor," Adam said, his tone leaving no room for argument.

"Yeah?" Brennan sounded less than thrilled by the order.

"Jesse is at safe house twenty nine. He's supposedly fixing the computer there, except he's been there five hours and he's not answering his comm. On your way back, can you check on him please?"

Adam could hear the groan on the other end of the comm. and he had to shake his head, semi-amused. "Adam," Brennan began, "I am the last person that Jesse will want to see."

"It doesn't matter," Adam interrupted the elemental, now determined, "I know things have been tense between you. And I know you had a fight today -"

"He phased me through the wall when I went to ask him a question about the IDs…"

"I know Brennan. I reprimanded him. But, you two still need to work together. And I need you to do this. It's probably nothing, and you can blame me."

"Yeah, and what if he phases the floor this time?" Brennan grumped, resigned to his fate.

"Then you have my permission to lightly shock him. Lightly meaning less than taser strength."

"Brennan out," came the chuckled reply.


Jesse wished he could retch. He'd rather taste vomit and bile than what was currently in his mouth. But, since Heath had shoved the gag back into his mouth to ensure that he swallowed, retching would mean asphyxiating. That was not high on his list of ways to die.

So, instead, he fought very hard to still his shaking body and keep his stomach from ejecting the foul substance currently coating his throat. This while his mind screamed in shameful rage for him to give up, his inner voice begging him to make this stop. Isn't this enough? He heard himself say, haven't you given them enough?

Heath, more than satisfied with his latest torture technique, ran his hand through Jesse's hair. "You know, pretty boy, you're wasting your talent as Mutant X's tech bitch. You'd make a killing as a whore," he taunted, his smiling widening as Jesse turned his head away from him. "Oh, what's the matter? You didn't enjoy it? Or are you mad that you didn't get some?"

Heath shoved his hand down the waistband of Jesse's pants, groping his penis. Jesse instantly started to struggle, too panicked to feel pain as he tried to dislodge the invading hand. He tried to scream through the gag, but the words were so muffled that Heath couldn't understand them. Amused, he pulled the gag from his victim, allowing him the ability to be heard.

"Please…" Jesse whimpered/sobbed, "please, no more. I… I… can't… please…."

Heath relaxed his grip, but didn't move his hand away. He was thoroughly satisfied with himself as he watched the molecular break in front of him. He was finally starting to get somewhere. "You going to tell me what I want to know?" he asked, lazily toying with Jess.

"I… I… can't… I… please… don't make me…." Jesse hiccupped. He was losing his senses quickly. As a molecular, he was highly susceptible to sensation and the light teasing, after so much pain, was threatening to rob him of his fragile grip on reality.

"If you're not going to tell me what I want to know, then I'm not going to stop," Heath replied, his tone mocking, a he resumed stroking Jesse.

"No… no…" Jesse increased his struggles with such force, he nearly ripped his hands free.

Instantly, Heath growled, and moved his hands away from Jesse's privates to pin his arms down. "Hold still," he snarled, his eyes flashing silver once again. Jesse, recognizing the tone as one similar to an angry Shalimar, froze in fear. Regaining his composure, now that he had control again, Heath straightened.

"How about this, I'll make you a deal," he said, "you name any one of your team mates. Anyone. You call them here to come and take your place. Then, once they're here, I'll let you go. I'll end your pain."

Jesse whimpered. He knew full well Heath was saying, 'chose some one to take your place and then I kill you in front of them.' And he knew full well that he couldn't do it. He wouldn't do it. He knew that he was going to die here, that help wasn't going to come. He was resigning himself to that fact. But that didn't mean that he was going to allow this bastard to torture his family. Just because he was in hell, didn't mean he couldn't be stubborn.

Jesse was about to tell Heath to fuck off, when the gag was suddenly shoved back into his mouth. "Looks like your time is up. The choice has been made for you," Heath hissed in his ear.


Brennan sighed as he walked toward the safe house like a man walking the plank. He so, so, so very much so, did not want to do this, especially since there was no way for him to gauge Jesse's mood. If he were lucky, Jesse would simply be annoyed at his presence and therefore shoot him icy glares and snide remarks. If he was unlucky, they could have a repeat of that morning.

Or, maybe a repeat of the fight before that, or the one before that one… Brennan sighed.

He and Jesse had always had a tedious relationship. Things just never seemed to be smooth sailing for them. Every time he thought he was getting close, making a connection, getting through… Jesse would pull away. Things had just gotten worse since Hillview. Brennan was at the point of just giving up, except for the fact that every time he saw Jesse his heart beat would speed up. Or when Jesse smiled, a real smile, one that actually reached his eyes, his heart would do a little back flip. Or, when Jesse laughed or said his name (when he wasn't angry) his stomach tied itself in knots.

Yeah… he was crushing. Hard. And it was that fact that made him keep trying, even though Jesse seemed to want nothing to do with him. Running a hand over his face, Brennan sighed. All he could hope for now, is that Jesse had calmed down since this morning.

As Brennan approached the safe house, however, something else drew his attention. A new wave of tension was sweeping up his spin and it had nothing to do with Jesse. Weather it was his street kid senses or his experience from Mutant X, as he approached the entrance to the safe house Brennan was suddenly on high alert.

Shifting into his "fighting" mood, Brennan opened the door. He took the time to carefully examine the interior, instantly concerned that the lights were off. While he couldn't see clearly what was around him, he could hear someone who was dangerously close to hyperventilating. Brennan suspected that the panicking person was Jesse, and his first instinct was to rush over to help him. But training took over, and so he cautiously eased into the apartment.

His eyes scanned every inch of the main room, trying to locate any signs of danger. For the moment, he forced himself to ignore the haggard sounds of Jesse's breathing, but it was hard. He hadn't seen Jesse yet, but he knew that the younger man was injured. He could smell blood and hear him whimpering. However, Brennan also suspected that they weren't alone, because he could also smell cigarette smoke.

Unable to see any sign of immediate danger, Brennan finally turned his attention to Jesse. He had assumed Jesse was in rough shape, but he was ill prepared for what he saw. He literally froze, all his training, all his experience meant nothing in the wake of what he was seeing. Parts of Jesse were missing; patches of skin had been removed along his ribs. Marring his abdomen, were deep and jagged lacerations that still bleed sluggishly. His chest had numerous, shallower cuts that were coated in dried blood. Worse though, were the two stakes that protruded from Jesse's hands and leg.

How is he still alive? Was the first thought Brennan had when he was finally able to move again.

He rushed to Jesse, forgetting about the possible intruder. Brennan held his breath when he saw the belt wrapped around Jess' neck, how it was cutting into his throat and turning his lips blue. Jesse wasn't hyperventilating he was suffocating. That was the first thing that would have to come off, before the blindfold, before the gag; so Brennan sought about loosening the belt and removing it. Except, his sudden presence and actions caused Jesse to panic.

The blond shouted into the gag and twisted when he felt hands reaching for his throat. He had no idea what was happening and his common sense was dulled by pain. It didn't register that the hands were trying to help him, only that they were near his throat and he couldn't breathe. So he twisted and struggled, and cried out, even as the belt was removed.

"It's alright Jess, it's me," Brennan whispered as he silently cursed himself. Of course Jesse was going to panic. He'd just been tortured for god only knew how long, why wouldn't he panic? But the belt had to come off before he strangled. Once it was off, Brennan gently restrained Jess' hands with his right hand and with the free hand he pulled the blindfold free of Jesse's face.

"Jess, Jess… It's okay, I got you…. It's okay…." He whispered, running a hand through the blond's tangled hair. It took a long moment, but Jesse's brain finally recognized friend from foe. As Brennan came into focus above him, a new sense of fear filled him, and once again, Jesse started to struggle, but this time to speak.

Brennan, seeing this, released his hold on Jesse and pulled the gag from his mouth. "What is it? What's wrong?" he asked, feeling like it was a very stupid question.

Jesse, while trying to get his voice working again, looked franticly around him. He was panicked, a fact that put Brennan even more on edge. Jesse didn't panic. "He's…still here…" Jesse choked out the words as his body shook with pain and fear.

Instantly, Brennan was on alert again. He stood up, eyes scanning the shadows, he shifted into a defensive stance. He kept his back to the wall and placed a hand lightly on Jesse's arm, which he hoped would keep the younger man semi-calm. It seemed to be working, as Jesse's breathing was evening out. "Can you phase?" Brennan asked.

Jesse took a deep breath and let it out slowly, in an attempt to trigger his power, but the attempt soon turned into a coughing fit that left him gasping and shaking. "Don't… think… so…" he wheezed.

Brennan, again swallowed a curse. Eyes still scanning, he raised his comm. to his lips, but didn't get the chance to activate it. From his right, Heath came charging. Brennan saw the movement and turned to face him, firing off a bolt of electricity as he did so. The shot went wide, but it made Heath pause, thus giving Brennan time to draw him away from Jesse.

Once repositioned, Brennan was better able to aim, and began firing off more electric bolts in an attempt to incapacitate his attacker. Brennan could tell from the glowing silver of his opponent's eyes, that he was facing a feral. It was a realization that explained how Jesse had been impaled and why he was successfully dodging all of Brennan's attacks.

Heath moved quickly, not nearly as quickly or gracefully as Shalimar, but still quicker than Brennan could aim. In a mater of moments he had managed to close the distance between he and the elemental making Brennan's electric blasts an unwise attack. Instead, Brennan was force to change tactics and go with hand to hand, which meant things were going to be difficult. Ferals, no matter how untrained or unskilled, always had the advantage in a fight.

This was no exception. Heath was a boxer, all upper body strength and a little sloppy with his footwork. But he was still quicker and more intuitive than Brennan, which meant he could dodge or block nearly all of Brennan's punches. It also meant that in the process of dodging he could get a good hit into either Brennan's mid section or face. For every shot that Brennan got in, Heath got in two, thus it didn't take long for him to over power the elemental.

With one last blow to his jaw, Brennan stumbled back into the wall and fell, dazed. Heath pounced on the opportunity and struck Brennan two more times, rendering him unconscious.


After securing Brennan, Heath had come over to check on Jesse. His main concern was to make sure that the molecular wasn't free of the stakes, which he wasn't. He wasn't concerned that Brennan had removed the blindfold or the belt. He doubted that Jesse had the strength left to try and escape and the lack of a blindfold just meant that he could watch as Heath tortured him. And that was exactly what was happening.

Jesse sobbed and whimpered, no longer able to scream. He was sure that he was going insane; that there was no way his mind could survive what was happening to him. Heath, still in his feral state, had once again begun to lick Jesse's blood. He was currently forcing his tongue into a fresh wound on Jesse's hip while digging his fingers into another wound near his groin. What made this worse was that Brennan was watching.

After knocking Brennan out, Heath had bound the elemental to a chair at the foot of the table, where he could clearly watch Jesse being tortured. Brennan had since regained consciousness and Jesse could hear him struggling with his own restraints. This did nothing to reassure the blond who was now being molested as well as violated. Jesse moaned from pain, and squirmed in an attempt to dislodge Heath. It was futile, but it was all he could do.

Brennan growled into his gag, his anger growing. He wanted nothing more than to free himself and rip the throat out of the bastard who was all but raping Jess. But, try as he might, he couldn't loosen the ropes, and against ropes, his powers were useless. All he was doing was rubbing his skin raw, and aggravating the injuries he had received from the fight.

Jesse cried out in pain, stealing Brennan's attention away from his own plight. Brennan looked over at his teammate just in time to see Heath remove a chuck of skin from Jess' with his teeth. Brennan felt bile rise in his throat as his stomach threatened to retch and he shouted a curse at Heath through the gag.

Heath, licking his lips as he swallowed Jesse's flesh, looked over to Brennan, a devious smile on his face. Pausing in his assault on his unfortunate prey, he took a moment to study the new comer. Breathing in deeply, Heath discovered an all too amusing fact, his new toy was aroused. Under the scent of anger, fear, and blood was this distinct order of desire; the dark haired man wanted the blond. That was too good a discovery to be ignored.

Sliding his hand up the length of Jesse's body, Heath taunted Jesse, "You know what I smell pretty boy? I smell your blood… I smell your fear… but ya know what else I smell?" Heath used Jesse's chin to tilt his head back, so that he could look in the blond's eyes. Currently, the normally bright blue orbs were glossy and unfocused as they stared up into the still silver eyes of the feral. "I smell sex. Somebody wants to fuck you, pretty boy, and it's not me," he sneered, looking over to Brennan.

Brennan felt himself stiffen, he could swear his heart had stopped beating. This was not happening. Please, tell me this isn't happening… Never, never, had he ever wanted to tell Jesse about his attraction, and especially not like this. He stared, wide eyed, almost in horror, at the younger man. He couldn't see Jesse's face, only the damage that Heath had inflected, so he had no way to gage the younger man's reaction or thoughts. But the possibilities of what they could be terrified Brennan more than Heath.

Heath, continued on with his taunts, completely aware of the effect he was having on both men. "That's right, pretty boy, he likes seeing you like this," Heath said leaning in close to Jesse, "It turns him on."

Whatever Heath was trying to accomplish, weather it was to humiliate them or not, it didn't have the exact desired effect. At least, not on Jesse. The younger man actually felt something close to hope when he heard Heath's taunts. Brennan… attracted… to me? It was a very surreal thought to have when he was in more pain than he thought he could ever tolerate, but it gave him some sense of strength.

"Lying…" Jesse chocked out with a cough, loud enough to break Brennan out of his horror shock. He looked once again to Jesse, and this time he was able to catch a glimpse of his eye. And he saw… infatuation?

Heath frowned slightly, not expecting Jesse to talk back to him. He changed his grip, this time wrapping his fingers around Jesse's throat and squeezing slightly. "You think I'm lying? I can smell it. He wants you. Seeing you like this turns him on."

"Not… this…" Jesse coughed out, closing his eyes as he gasped for air.

Heath growled, not enjoying Jesse's challenge. It was then that he got a whiff of another scent from the younger man, not fear or pain, but yearning. Jesse was, apparently on some level, as equally attracted to the other man as the other man was to him. That made him laugh. He released his grip on Jesse's throat, much to the molecular relief, and nearly doubled over.

"You want him… oh that's great… you both want to fuck each other…" he said, when he could finally speak again. Then, growing serious, he added, "But do you think he'll want you now? After I've fucked you?"

Jesse felt his heart stop. He shut his eyes, unable to look at anything as shame colored his world. He could feel Brennan's gaze on him, and it hurt worse than a physical blow.

"You should have tried his mouth," Heath continued, looking over to Brennan, "I told him he should have been a whore."

Brennan, once again, felt his blood boil, and he nearly dislocated his wrist trying to break his bonds. The only thing he wanted to do in that moment was kill this bastard.

Heath, completely aware of Brennan's thoughts, smiled wickedly as he unzipped his pants. "Settle down Sparky, I'll let you have a turn, just as soon as I finish," he taunted, forcing Jesse to turn his face towards him.

Jesse struggled to free himself, though he knew it was pointless. Heath had a secure grip on his jaw and was already working to pry open his mouth. What it came down to was either Jesse surrendered or Heath broke his jaw. However much it shamed him, Jesse wasn't willing to have a broken jaw. Besides, his mind was already working on way to turn this to his advantage.

Heath forced his way into Jesse's mouth, much to Brennan's horror and outrage. Jesse, however, remained as calm as he could. He had a plan, and that was what he focused on while his body was once again violated. When Heath reached his climax and began to cum in Jesse's throat, instead of swallowing as he had previously been forced to, Jesse forced himself to retch. It wasn't that hard, and it had the desired effect.

Heath released Jesse with an angry growl. Jesse continued to retch, unable to stop until his stomach was empty. Even then, he dry heaved, for a moment, until he was too exhausted to do anything except shake. Heath, now covered in vomit, could care less about Jesse's exhaustion.

As soon as the molecular had finished vomiting, Heath punched him in the face. Heath's fist made contact with Jesse's jaw, and the molecular saw stars. Heath yanked Jesse's head up by the hair, further making his head spin, and spat, "You will pay for that." He then allowed Jesse's head to drop and retreated into the bathroom, fuming.

Jesse lay still, head spinning. He was dangerously close to passing out and he fought desperately to remain consciences. This was his only chance, if this didn't work, than he was dead. Gathering his strength, and pushing himself to focus, Jesse inhaled several times, filling his lungs with air. He then exhaled slowly, managing to trigger his powers briefly. But briefly was all he needed in order to fall through the table.

He hit the floor, and had the wind knocked from his body. For a moment, the world went black and he lost his sense of space and time. He didn't know how long agony consumed him, robbing him of precious seconds that he could have been using to get to Brennan. He just knew that he finally managed to regain enough control to flip over onto his stomach and begin to army crawl towards Brennan's chair.

The older man was only a few feet away, but he might as well have been miles. Each movement he made sent fiery shock waves of pain through out his body as well as reopening all his injuries. He had to bite his lip to keep from crying out, though he could do little to stop the tears that blurred his vision. All he could do was push forward and try not to think about the damage he was doing to his body.

After what felt like years, Jesse finally managed to reach Brennan. He was breathless and shaking from the movement. Sweet dripped from his brow as he panted on the floor by Brennan. Tears streamed from his eyes, and blood from his lip where he had bitten completely through. He had no idea how he was going to do this. He was exhausted and in agony. His focus was sketchy at best, and breathing was difficult. He just couldn't see how he was going to make it.

That was until he heard the bathroom door open.

Jesse, took a deep breath and held it. With the last of his strength, he pushed himself up and extended his arm towards the rope that bound Brennan. He was disturbed, but not surprised, to learn that he had no control of his hand. He couldn't extend his fingers, so he had to rest his hand on the rope, which made him feel awkward and clumsy. It didn't help that his vision was tunneling and he could feel his focus slipping away.

Sucking in a lung full of air and letting it out slowly, Jesse attempted to phase the ropes and failed. Jesse panicked. Any second now, Heath would be back and it would be over.

"Jess," Brennan said, well, more mumbled through the gag, but it was enough to get the blond's attention. Jesse looked up, pain filled, tired eyes met reassuring and calm ones. There were no words exchanged, just a nod. Brennan trusted him. And now that trust was going to be put to the test.

With one last deep breath, Jesse focused as best he could and phased. In order to phase the ropes, he had to phase his whole body. A dangerous move, since he barely had enough energy to keep from phasing into the floor, but it paid off. Not that Jesse would know. His body had, had enough; it had given all that it could, and now Jesse lay limp on the ground by Brennan's feet.

Brennan reacted instantly, as soon as he felt the distinct prickle of Jesse's phase, he pulled his hands free. Just in time too. As soon as he was free, Heath rounded the corner of the hall. Brennan didn't hesitate, as soon as he saw the bastard he sent off a blast of sparks, catching the feral by surprise. The feral stumbled back into the wall before falling to the floor, unconscious.

For a moment Brennan stood there, completely unsure about what he should do. Then he saw that Jesse wasn't moving. The older man fell to his knees by Jesse's side, his eyes roaming him, searching for signs of life. They were there, barely. Brennan could see a steady, if shallow, rise and fall of Jesse's chest. When he touched his fingers to Jesse's neck, he could feel a pulse, again faint but steady.

Breathing a sigh of relief, Brennan activated his comm.


Exhausted didn't even begin to cover how Adam felt. How everyone in Sanctuary felt. The last five hours had been a whirlwind of organized chaos. From the moment that he received Brennan's call until now, the scientist had been running a marathon with Brennan's chilling words to hurry him on.

"Jesse…Adam, he's been tortured…He's bad. I need help."

Adam would never, as long as he lived, forget the sight of Brennan cradling Jesse's motionless body. How pale Jesse had been. How red his blood had been. How much of it was covering just about every surface in the blasted safe house.

Adam shook himself, and forced his mind to focus on the present. He didn't want to remember the haunted look on Brennan's face when he answered Adam's questions. He didn't want to remember the coolness of Jesse's skin or the sounds of the young man's whimpers when Adam examined his wounds; the fact that, even unconscious, Jesse could still feel pain.

Looking at Jesse now, Adam could let himself breathe a sigh of relief. After a transfusion, Jesse's color had mostly returned. He was still pale, but he no longer resembled a ghost. An ugly bruise marred Jesse's neck where the belt had been. It was one of the reasons for the breathing tube Adam had been forced to insert, that and the fear Jesse would stop breathing on his own just from exhaustion. Then there was the fact that it was added reassurance, since Adam had found vomit and blood in his lungs. The blond's body was swathed in bandages covering the numerous marring gashes that obscured his chest, as well as the skin grafts.

Eight… Adam's mind hissed, eight skin grafts. How did he survive?

Once again, Adam shook the thought out of his head and continued his examination. The wound to Jesse's outer thigh had, fortunately, been soft tissue and muscle damage. Painful and tedious to repair, but it was better than trying to deal with an injury to the bone or artery. Jesse's hands were another story. The tendons had all been damaged and Adam would have to call in a friend to perform the necessary surgery. With treatment and Jesse's body's desire to be whole (a side effect from his abilities), Adam believed it would be possible to restore the molecular's movement. But it was going to take a frustratingly long time for the young man to recover.

"You're going to be alright, Jess. I promise. I'm going to make this alright," Adam whispered, brushing a strand of stray hair out of Jesse's face. The young man didn't stir. Adam didn't expect him to, not with the amount of morphine he had been forced to give him.

A light knock on the door snapped Adam to attention. He looked up to find Brennan standing at the door looking exhausted. "Emma said you wanted to see me?" Brennan said softly, eyes locked on Jesse. Emma had warned Adam that Brennan wasn't processing what had happened and now Adam could see first hand what she was talking about.

Brennan looked like he was in shock. His eyes were wide, his coloring was off, and bruises were forming on his face. He had showered and changed since getting home, Shalimar had said it took him three hours. She had been ordered to keep her eye on him while Emma and Adam tended to Jesse. She had stopped by when they were wrapping up with the surgery to give a report and check on her 'cub'. After hearing, in detail, Jesse's injuries, she said something about going to talk with their guest. Heath was currently sitting in a holding cell inside Sanctuary. It was disturbing to see Shalimar so calm while in her feral state, so Adam had asked Emma to keep an eye on her after fetching Brennan.

"Yes. I wanted to look you over," Adam said, answering Brennan's question and snapping the younger man from his thoughts.

"I'm fine," Brennan said, though he sounded anything but.

"Humor me please," Adam replied, used to the stubbornness of his protégés. He gestured to the empty bio-bed next to Jesse, his expression and stature leaving no room for Brennan to argue.

With a tired sigh, Brennan reluctantly obliged. He eased his aching body onto the bio-bed and, without being prompted, removed his shirt to reveal an array of ugly bruises. Adam hid a flinch as he set about programming the bio-scanner. He was sure that Brennan didn't have any broken ribs, simply because he was moving around so easily, but the bruising was horrid.

"Besides your chest, does anything hurt?" Adam asked as the scanner began its cycle.

"My head. He knocked me out," Brennan confessed, knowing the scans would pick up on every injury. Besides, he was too busy watching Jesse breathe and trying very hard to ignore the tubes and bandages. "How is he?" Brennan asked after several minutes of silence.

Adam looked up from the scan results, again taking note of the haunted look in Brennan's face. "He's stable, and he's going to be fine," Adam said, coming over to Brennan. The mentor pulled a chair up, just to the side of Brennan's gaze so that the younger man would have to look away from Jesse to see him. "Tell me what happened, Brennan. Please," he prompted softly.

The elemental sighed, again, and shifted in the bio bed. He leaned against the backrest and closed his eyes, trying to gather himself. Adam wasn't asking what happened to Jesse, he already knew that. Brennan knew that his mentor wanted to know what had happened to him, but he didn't want to talk about it. He didn't want to remember what he had witnessed or imagine what else Jesse had gone through before he arrived. But Adam was waiting, and he wasn't going to let Brennan off the hook.

Opening his eyes, Brennan rolled his shoulders, before meeting Adam's gaze. "He made me watch, Adam. He… I don't know even how to describe it. He used his tongue to... lick the blood out of the wounds… I… he ate a part of Jesse's skin…."

Brennan looked sick. Adam didn't blame him; he himself had felt his stomach flip when he found the traces of saliva in the wounds and the teeth marks where skin should have been. "Sometimes when ferals are in a feral state, they revert to primal needs…"

"It wasn't that Adam. He knew. He knew exactly what he was doing. He looked right at me… " Brennan exhaled and shook his head. He didn't want to remember.

Adam allowed him to take a moment; gave him the time to collect himself, before he pressed on. "What else happened, Brennan?" Adam asked, knowing that there was more to Brennan's state of shock than just being forced to witness cannibalism.

Brennan was silent for a long moment more after Adam's question. When he did speak again, he couldn't look at his mentor or at Jesse. He stared blank faced at the wall and replied tonelessly, "he raped Jesse. I watched him."

Adam sighed internally. He had suspected that was the case. Shalimar had already alerted him to the most disturbing fact of Jesse's torture. The feral had smelt the scent of semen on her brother's face. That was one of the reasons why she wouldn't be allowed near Heath alone. In her mind, the bastard was dead.

"The thing is… Jesse let him," Brennan continued, snapping Adam back to attention, " And I don't mean that how it sounds… I mean… how we escaped… Jesse used it to his advantage. He… vomited while the bastard came… It's what got him out of the room."

Adam nodded; he expected nothing less of Jesse. It was the one thing the blond had on all the others; survival at all costs instincts. No matter the situation, Jesse would use his keen mind to create a situation he and his family could survive. The molecular had the unusual ability to turn, even the worst circumstances, to his advantage. This was an unfortunate example.

"It wasn't your fault Brennan. None of this was your fault."

"Don't you think I know that?!" Brennan snapped, finally looking at Adam. The elemental was angry, truly angry, but Adam knew it wasn't with him.

"I know you do. But I will say it again; it is not your fault. You are not responsible for what happened to Jesse. None of us are. The man responsible for this is in our holding cell -"

"Why is he still alive?" Brennan asked, his voice a harsh whisper and his body tense. It took every ounce of self-control that he had not to go down to the cells and kill Heath.

Adam sighed, apparently, Brennan wouldn't be allowed near Heath unsupervised either. Not that he could blame him. "I need to know who sent him, why they sent him, what they want, and where to find them. I also need to know if they know where any of our other safe houses are. He has the answers."

"What are you going to do with him once you get those answers?" Brennan asked, looking back at Jesse who was now beginning to stir.

"It will depend on what Emma recommends when she's done," Adam sighed, "now, let's get you bandaged."


Shalimar stalked the man in the cell. She moved silently back and forth in front of the cage, her golden eyes never leaving her prey. She was, in this moment, more lion than human and every fiber of her being spoke of a lioness ready to strike. The graceful blonde was a fusion of territorial, protective, and anger; it showed plain as day in her aura. It also made Emma's head hurt.

The empath stood in the shadows, just off to the side. She wasn't interested in the sadist in the cell. She would be getting all cozy and personal with him tomorrow. She was more concerned about keeping one of her best friends from committing justifiable homicide.

As for Heath, he too was prowling. His less fluid but equally graceful steps mirrored Shalimar's. There was the faintest hint of silver in his eyes, the subdermal keeping his power in check. Yet he was poised to strike, and even handicapped, he looked like he could give Shalimar a fight. He reeked of aggression and testosterone.

Emma sighed, she was exhausted and it didn't look like the two ferals were going to calm down any time soon. She was going to have to get Adam to come play baby sitter soon if she was expected to read Heath's mind tomorrow.

You mean rape his mind….

The thought made her shiver. Emma was having serious moral dilemmas about what she was about to do. Heath was a monster, she knew that the moment she laid eyes on him. When she saw what he had done to Jesse and felt the torment in Brennan… when she heard Jesse's mind cry out in pain… She wanted to kill Heath. She wanted to break his mind into a thousand pieces and leave him stranded in a perpetual nightmare. And she could. But entering another person's mind, imposing her will upon him… it felt too much like sinking to his level. No matter how evil the bastard was, he didn't deserve that.

"Want me to describe what he tasted like when I tore his skin off or tell you how he moaned when he sucked my cock?" Heath snarled at Shalimar.

The feral lunged at the cell glass with a roar. Emma was there moments later to reign in her friend while Heath laughed.

Then again… maybe some people deserve some pain….


A month later.

"Damn it!" Jesse shouted as his hand failed to clasp the coffee mug. It fell to the floor and shattered, spilling coffee everywhere. The blond hissed in anger as he stared at the mess.

It had been three weeks since Mark, a long time friend of Adam, had performed the surgery to repair his hands. Already, he had made a miraculous leap forward in healing by regaining nearly seventy percent of his grip. It was mostly due to his powers, but his stubbornness had helped. He was not going to let Heath destroy him. He couldn't stop the nightmares. He couldn't hide the scars. But he could and he would get back to full strength.

"Jess? You okay?" Brennan asked from the doorway to the kitchen and Jesse sighed.

Great… he's home early.

Currently, it was just Brennan and Jesse in Sanctuary as the others, including Adam, had been called away on a mission. Brennan had been out that day to check over some safe houses and Jesse hadn't expected him back until much later in the evening.

"I'm fine," Jesse said as he crouched down to try and pick up the pieces of the mug. Except that his hands still refused to work and he couldn't quite get the grip he needed.

Brennan watched him struggle for a moment, then wordlessly walked to the sink and got a sponge. He came over to Jesse and handed it to him, again wordlessly, then gave the blond no choice but to mop up the coffee while he picked up the mug. When the task was done, Brennan poured Jesse another mug of coffee and handed it to him.

This time, the molecular held it with both his hands. He glared at the object with out drinking, feeling completely childish. Brennan ignored Jesse's sullenness and poured himself his own mug. "Planning to be up all night?" he asked his teammate, noting that Jess had managed to make a full pot of regular coffee.

Jesse sighed and finally took a sip of the still steaming liquid, "I have to do some updates." Or at least try to do them.

Brennan hid a sigh by taking his own sip of coffee. Jesse wasn't fooling him; he wasn't fooling anyone. The blond hadn't had a full night's sleep in weeks, not that anyone would expect him to. They all expected nightmares, and they all knew he was having them. Nobody blamed him for that, or for his short temper and frayed nerves. They just wished that he would be easier on himself.

"What are you updating tonight?" Brennan asked, before Jesse could leave. Before he could retreat back into the world of isolation and self-loathing he was creating.

Jesse, who had been trying to make a hasty retreat, turned back to Brennan but didn't meet his eyes. "I'm fixing the loop hole that he used…" the blond whispered.

After trying to question Heath had failed to produce any results, Emma had managed to find the answers that Mutant X, more importantly Jesse, needed. Genomex had been behind the attack, although they had never sanctioned Heath's tactics. They had told him to capture and bring in Jesse, according to Ekheart, not torture him. Reluctantly, Adam believed him; Jesse was too rare and valuable a mutant for Genomex to just kill. Heath had taken it upon himself to torture Jesse for the information simply because he liked the way Jesse looked, at least that was what Emma could tell.

After Emma had gotten the answers for them, she and Adam had a long talk about what to do with Heath. Since Jesse was still in the med lab and both Brennan and Shalimar wanted to kill him, they didn't get a say. Eventually, Adam decided to put the bastard into a specialized group home (one he had set up for situations like this), but only after Emma 'neutered' him. She never explained exactly what she did to him, but when Heath left Sanctuary, he had the IQ of a seven year old. That they were sure of.

Jesse would have preferred that he was dead, but he couldn't change that. He couldn't change any of the past. He could, however, keep it from happening ever again. That was his goal.

"Do you want company?" Brennan asked, trying very hard to be as neutral as possible. Not only did the older man not know where he stood with Jesse anymore, not after what had been revealed at the safe house, but he was watching Jesse slip away. Everyone was. It wasn't that he was locking himself in his room and refusing to speak or be seen, but they could feel it. He was withdrawing, hiding… Emma said he was ashamed, not for what happened at the safe house, but for still being scared; for feeling weak and useless.

Brennan watched Jesse carefully. He saw the inner monologue that the younger man was having, trying to answer Brennan, and in his head he kept saying, come on kid. Let me in. Don't push me away.

"Brennan… I…." Jesse didn't finish. He didn't really know what to say. Part of him didn't want to be alone anymore. He wanted someone to hold him; to tell him it was going to be alright. That he was safe. But another part of him told him he was being childish. He was a coward. That if he couldn't put himself together, than what good was he?

"It's alright. I'll stay out of your way…" Brennan said, trying to hide his disappointment. He moved to pass Jesse, to exit the kitchen. He tried not to show the blond how sorry he was. How he too still had nightmares of that night. How he spent hours these past weeks in the dojo beating holograms of Heath to death. Jesse didn't need to know; he didn't need to feel guilty for Brennan's emotions on top of everything else he was feeling. Except, that he couldn't hide it from Jesse, the blond was too intuitive not to notice. Especially in that moment, when Brennan was the closest to him he had been since that night.

"Brennan…" Jesse called softly, stopping him.

"Yeah Jess?" he answered, not looking.

"I don't want to be alone," Jesse said, and he felt his body shake. He heard his mind scream at him coward. No one wants you anymore. Not after what he's done to you.

So, it surprised him when Brennan gently turned Jesse to face him, rested his forehead against his, and said, "you don't have to be. I'm here."