The house was old and ornate, the complete antithesis to Sanctuary's simple modernity. On the balcony, two men sat at a table sharing a bottle of wine. When they were together, their similarities were more apparent than their differences. Both approaching middle age, of average height, slim build, always dressed in black.
At first their conversation appeared to be stilted, awkward. But as time went on and the wine went down, the two of them seemed to relax.
The one with curly brown hair said something and then they were both laughing. The white haired one leaned across the table and covered the other man's hand with his own.
Shalimar brushed her fingers over Emma's arm and put her mouth close to her ear to whisper, "did he just-"
Emma shot her glance. "Shal, shh! I'm trying to listen!" she hissed. They were both lying face down in the grass some distance away, hidden from view by a well-placed knoll.
Shalimar shook her head. "You're so cute when you're angry," she said, and gave Emma a sneaky kiss on the cheek.
Emma broke into a smile despite herself, then put on her serious face. "I have to concentrate." She closed her eyes and focused again on the two men.
Shalimar watched Emma tense up and then relax as in the way she always did when using her powers. A piece of brown hair fell over Emma's eyes, and Shalimar fought the urge to reach out and tuck it behind her ear. She didn't want to distract her girl. She sighed and smiled.
The two men were standing close to each other by the balcony rail, looking over the landscape. Fortunately, they did not seem to have spotted Emma and Shalimar.
Shalimar watched Emma's brow crease, and wondered what she could hear. Emma gasped. Shalimar wanted to reach out and take her hand, but she also knew that she couldn't distract Emma and potentially stop her from hearing something important.
"Nice of you to finally join us," Shalimar whispered as Brennan and Jesse arrived. "So, you guys were training, huh?"
Brennan glanced at Jesse, who was trying to keep a straight face. "Yeah, we were. Training. Real hard."
Jesse burst out laughing.
"Quiet!" Shalimar said, but she was grinning.
Brennan put his hand over Jesse's mouth.
Emma was still concentrating hard, looking more and more troubled. Adam and Mason were still talking.
"We could be here for a while, good thing I brought a book," Brennan said, finding his place in the Whitman paperback.
Finally, Adam took a few steps away, his body language indicating that he was about to leave. But then the two men came together and embraced.
"Well I guess they could be just pals," Jesse said.
"I wouldn't hug you for that long, pal," Shalimar said with a grin, and a gave Jesse a playful punch on the arm.
"Since when were they pals anyway?" Brennan said, looking up from his book.
Shalimar frowned. "Haven't you listened to Adam talk about him? It's obvious they were close."
"Are close," Emma corrected, opening her eyes.
Shalimar inclined her head at the scene on the balcony. Mason had Adam pushed up against the rail. "Hey, do you think we'll be that touchy feely after so many years?"
But Emma didn't react. She was staring straight ahead.
"Well, looks like they're done talking. What did you find out?" Brennan asked.
"They've been lying to us the whole time," Emma said, a quaver in her voice.
"About what? And you can leave out the bit about them bumping uglies."
"I'll bump your ugly if you don't shut up," Shalimar said.
Emma moved down the hill and sat up. "They're not really enemies, that's a pretence," she said.
Jesse scoffed. "Like we couldn't have guessed that part."
Shalimar moved to sit next to Emma and put a hand on her back.
Emma eyes were wide. "They were talking about New Mutant powers, how it's all a lie. They made it all up because they thought the public would believe that if our existence ever got out. Well, they'd believe it better than the actual truth."
"What is the truth, Emma?" Shalimar breathed, her brow furrowed.
"Apparently, our powers don't come from genetic manipulation. It's actually magic."
"Magic?" the other three echoed.
Emma shook her head, as if not believing it herself. "That's what they said."
"So now what?" Jesse asked.
"Well, Adam might have kept this from us, but does it really matter?" Brennan said, leaning on Jesse's shoulder. "Genetics, magic, what difference does it make?"
"We had to fight all those goons. And they're not even enemies. I mean, I like a good fight, but… why?" Shalimar said.
Emma looked down at the ground. "It kept us busy. I think that's what they wanted."
"We could just carry on like we didn't hear anything," Brennan said, leaning on Jesse and putting his arm around his shoulders. "If this is all a big game, least we know our missions aren't actually dangerous."
"But what else has he lied to us about?" Jesse asked.
"Wait!" Brennan said. "If it's all magic, you think we really needed to strip down to our underwear in the lab?"
The others looked horrified.
"I'm gonna kill him," Brennan said, forming a ball of electricity in his hand.
"Brennan, cool it," Jesse said, putting a hand on Brennan's shoulder to stop him getting up.
"Oh come on man, mutant powers or magic, we could definitely take those two."
"Why not, Jess?"
"Well, have you got somewhere else to live?" Jesse asked.
Brennan sagged and let the electricity fizzle out.
"Yeah, didn't think so."
Emma looked over at the house. The two men were no longer on the balcony. "Er, guys? I think we'd better get out of here."
Back at Sanctuary, Brennan did his best to avoid Adam for as long as he could. But eventually he found Adam strolling over to him, wearing the same inscrutable expression as always. He was carrying something, which he tapped against Brennan's chest. Brennan grabbed it, and saw that it was his Whitman book, now with some dirt and grass stuck to the cover.
Brennan looked at Adam. The older man just raised his eyebrows at him and smiled, then continued walking.
This was not originally supposed to be a silly piece of fluff, it was just supposed to be silly. But it was kinda going that way so I decided to let it have all of the ships. If I was a better writer I would have expanded this idea into a longer story. One of the things that really annoys me on the show is how Emma's powers repeatedly stray from what she is said to be able to do, in a "this is convenient for this episode" kinda way, and not addressed as part of the ongoing plot. I usually like to stick to her using her telempathy in my stories, but well, it was convenient to let her have telepathy/long distance hearing for this story.