This is a sequel to Secrets and Shadows. A lot of will make no sense unless you've read that one first. -AU, crossover with The Pretender and The Listener.
I'll try to post every other day or so. The first half of the story is done, the second is mapped out. Reviews may encourage me to keep to the posting schedule.
Four weeks was long enough for most of the physical injuries to heal. Long enough for things to start getting back to normal. Long enough for Sanctuary, large as it was, to start feeling like a cage.
It wasn't long enough to heal the mental and emotional wounds. They were starting to heal. There was definite progress. But they had only healed so far.
Roslin rubbed her biceps as she paced and looked around her room. How one place could be a haven and a cage at the same time was something she hadn't worked out yet. It was the one place where no one bothered her, her retreat from whatever she couldn't deal with at the moment. But she was so tired of looking at the same four walls, of not being comfortable outside of them.
At least the nightmares had mostly gone away.
The EM field made her room one of the few places where the pressures of everyone else's thoughts and emotions were barely noticeable. And that was something she should probably tell Adam about. The EM field should have kept everything completely out - not just mostly out. Her telepathy had continued to mutate, more rapidly than Adam or Roslin were happy with, but the fluctuations did seem to be slowing down at least.
Roslin wasn't sure she wanted Adam to know. He and Jesse would try to find a way to strengthen the field. That might be a good thing, but she'd lose her ability to tell when most of the others left Sanctuary. That knowledge was one of the few things that was keeping her from going stir-crazy.
She had to keep her defenses up fairly high when everyone was around and that almost always gave her a headache. If Brennan was in Sanctuary, Roslin had to be doubly careful. He was loud, vocally, mentally, emotionally. And he only remembered to bring his own mental shields up when Emma was around.
But he, Emma, and Shalimar were all out for now. Roslin had felt it when they left. That only left Jesse and Adam. Adam would be in the lab or his office - both of which she intended to avoid. Jesse would probably be at his computer. With both of the men concentrating on their work, Roslin could let her defenses down a bit.
Not only would that minimize the chance for a headache later, but it would give her enough of a sense of where they were to keep her from flinching away if she encountered them. Four weeks and she still flinched from Adam, Emma, and Jesse if they startled her the least bit. She knew the truth - she'd watched the videos almost obsessively the first week. She should be past it by now.
Roslin shook her head causing auburn hair to settle out of her eyes. She blew out a sigh and reached for a hair tie. A session in the dojo was the first thing on her list for the day. She was rehabbing her shoulder for the second time and while she'd regained almost full range of motion, strength was still an issue. Besides, she needed to think, and to work off some of the frustration that was building up.
A last check told her no one was nearby and Roslin opened her door, stepping out into Sanctuary's halls. She didn't let herself even glance in the direction of the kitchen. The dojo was waiting.
I typed a new command into the computer, but I barely saw the results when they came up. Though Roslin didn't know it, I'd seen her come out of her room. After everything she'd been through, I couldn't help but worry about her.
All the trust issues Roslin had when I first met her had come back even stronger. She was trying, and things were getting better, but Roslin was fighting her own instincts. I'd been the person she trusted most, and the false version of me that Paragon had shown her only made things worse.
And because of what Paragon had done to her, I couldn't keep a personal eye on her like I wanted to. Not without making things worse. So I was using the security systems. I had a suspicion the only reason I hadn't heard from Adam about it was because he was doing the same thing.
She was headed away from the kitchen, probably to the dojo. She spent a lot of time there, usually in Shal's company. Of all of us, she seemed most comfortable with my "big sister" now. But Shal was out with Brennan and Emma.
I frowned, rubbing a hand over my jaw as I watched the feed. I knew, from Adam, that Roslin was working on rehabilitating her shoulder and it was still giving her trouble sometimes. I wasn't sure I liked the idea of her in the dojo by herself though. It would be far to easy to re-injure herself.
Before the GSA and then Paragon had gotten their hands on her, Roslin had started to realize there were people who would help her when she needed it. Since we'd gotten her back, she seemed to have mostly forgotten she didn't have to keep everything to herself.
It seemed she might be talking to Shal, at least a little. The two had grown close over the last month. Close enough that I wouldn't have worried about Roslin being in the dojo if Shal had been around. But she wasn't. And I was pretty sure Roslin was getting frustrated.
Roslin wasn't the only one frustrated, though none of us blamed her. It was clear to all of us that she fighting what Paragon and Juliana's people had done to her. And she was succeeding.
But it wasn't a quick process. Certainly not quick enough for her, though, even remembering what Jarod had said, I was surprised she'd come as far as she had.
It wasn't until she'd been back a full week that Roslin could even stay in the same room with Adam, Emma, or me. And then it hadn't been for more than a few minutes, and not without someone else there. Now she'd stopped flinching away when she saw us, but after even a few minutes in our company, Roslin would be a bundle of nerves, almost shaking.
The only thing I wanted to do was protect her, soothe that fear, and that was the very thing I couldn't do. Because I was what Roslin was afraid of. If Adam hadn't found things for me to do outside of Sanctuary during the first couple of weeks, I would have asked him to.
I couldn't watch her and not want to do something. But the something Roslin needed me to do was to give her space and time to work things out. I didn't need Emma to tell me that much, though she had. I could try to make things a little easier on Roslin though. So I kept my mental walls up, made myself scarce when it was clear she was feeling uneasy, and did my best not to startle her when we crossed paths.
I almost switched camera feeds when I realized Roslin had disappeared while I'd been thinking. After a moment, I sighed and minimized the window instead. Worrying about Roslin wasn't helping anyone and it wasn't getting the security updates done. I really needed to focus on that or Adam would start in on me about watching Roslin on the security feeds. There would be plenty of time to worry later.
I'm not sure how much later it was when I installed the last patch, but my coffee mug was empty. I typed in the command for a scan of the security system and stood up to stretch. It would take some time for the scan to run and it was time for a refill and maybe a snack while I waited.
That was what I told myself, anyway. I wasn't going to the kitchen because I thought I heard someone, or because I thought it might be Roslin. It was just time to refuel. Even so, I found myself whistling quietly as I made my way to the kitchen.
Jarod had stayed for week after they'd pulled her out of Paragon. There were times Roslin wished he'd stayed longer - or that she'd gone with him when he left. But he couldn't leave the Centre to run itself.
That first week had been when she'd needed him the most. She'd barely been able to handle even seeing Adam, Emma, and Jesse the first few days. After watching the videos four or five times, she'd at least stopped flinching when they crossed her line of sight.
She'd spent most of that first week in her room or with Shalimar. The feral was more patient with her than Roslin had expected and provided a buffer between her and the others. Brennan tended to avoid her, though Roslin wasn't sure why. Still, she wasn't as comfortable with him as she was with Shalimar, so it was probably better that way.
The last day or two before Jarod left, he and Shalimar had started bringing Adam into the lab with them. At first, she'd been unable to think past the instinctive fear that rose just being in the same room. But Adam didn't touch her, didn't even come close. He'd stayed by the computers, run the scans, and barely spoken to her. If there was need, it was Jarod or Shalimar who adjusted sensors or drew blood.
By the time Jarod left, Roslin didn't feel like she was going to panic just being in the lab with Adam, as long as she wasn't alone with him. It was still the worst part of her day though. And at the same time, it was the most necessary.
Her telepathy was still mutating, whether because of what Paragon had done or whether it was just the natural course of things. And every time it mutated, it affected her empathy as well. Scans and tests were they only way they were going to be able to counter the changes, or at least figure out what was causing them.
Roslin finished the strength exercises, but she wasn't ready to go back to her room, or deal with anyone else yet. She still had some thinking to do. She started a kata Shalimar had taught her the previous week and let her mind work things through.
She wanted, more than anything, to go back to before Paragon had grabbed her. Back to when her instinctive reaction to Jesse had been one of trust, back to when she'd been coming to trust the rest of Mutant X as well. Her instinctive reaction now, to everyone but Shalimar and Brennan, was fear.
And that was the problem. Adam seemed to take it for what it was - probably the scientist in him. But he didn't take it personally. Emma had the advantage of being able to feel the internal battle Roslin went through each time. So the instinctive reaction might hurt the other empath, but she didn't take it personally either.
Jesse, though, didn't have Emma's advantage. Every time Roslin flinched or moved away from him, it hurt him. He did take it personally, yet Roslin knew he didn't blame her for it. It was more as if he were hurting for her. And it hurt Roslin to know she was hurting him.
The nightmares were coming less frequently, and unless they startled her, Roslin no longer flinched just because one of them came into the same room. That was a good thing, since both Emma and Jesse tended to lurk nearby whenever they could do so without being too obvious. Neither of them pushed her. Jesse was just there. Emma projected a general feeling of calm and safety. It helped, a little. What helped more was that the tele-empath didn't push to let her help. Roslin wasn't even close to ready to let someone else inside her head again.
Still, it bothered her that she still couldn't get past the instinctive reactions when she knew the truth. She still watched the videos whenever she felt the doubt start to creep in. She'd even seen the file on the psionic who'd planted the damn memories. There was no doubt those memories were fake and after four weeks of reinforcing that knowledge, Roslin should be able to get past the instinct to shy away.
A vague burning sensation in her shoulder worked its way through her thoughts, demanding attention. Roslin stopped the kata, rolling her shoulder with a wince. The problem with allowing her mind the freedom to work through things was that she tended not to pay attention to the signals her body sent her. She sighed and rolled the shoulder again.
It didn't feel like she'd done any permanent damage, but it was going to take at least an hour or two before she was going to be able to use her arm normally again. Not the way Roslin had wanted to start the day. It was going to cause Adam, if no one else, to ask questions she didn't really want to answer yet.
Hiding out down here wasn't going to fix anything though and she really could use some coffee. With any luck, she'd be able to avoid anyone for a little while longer.