As soon as the Double Helix had come to a stop, Adam marched up to the collected trio of Mutant X members, which formed the welcoming committee. Jesse followed on his heels.
“Anything happen while we were gone?”
It was three days since the events that transpired in the dojo — and the repeat performances in Brennan’s bedroom, beside the pond, and on the floor of the Helix before it left to pick up Adam and Jesse. Shalimar had wanted to test the tables in the lab too, except Emma refused, saying it would feel like sacrilege. When Brennan agreed, Shalimar had settled for the Helix as a location.
“Nope. Nada, nothing.”
“We would have called you if it had.”
“Quiet as a grave in here.”
“Good.” Adam nodded as he strode out of the docking bay and into the main hall of the Sanctuary.
Jesse watched in silence when his teammates exchanged a glance before they turned to follow Adam’s departing back.
“Okay, guys. What did we miss? Spill.” Adam might be oblivious to the undercurrent, but he wasn’t.
They turned back in Jesse’s direction. Brennan chewed his lower lip in an attempt to keep his face in check. Shalimar made no effort to hide the smirk. And Emma gave him her most innocent look, the one he had seen her use on GS agents numerous times. It never failed to pull the wool over their eyes; however, he wasn’t as dumb as the average GSA muscle.
“Nothing!” three voices said in chorus.
Jesse raised an eyebrow. “Ri-ight.”
“It’s good to have you back, though.” Emma embraced him, breaking the silence that followed.
“Yeah. Life just wasn’t the same without you.” Shalimar winked and swatted his head playfully.
Brennan snorted. Yet, when Jesse looked his way his face was passive. “Boring, you know.”
Something was going on. Something they weren’t telling him. He was more curious than anything and decided he would find out eventually. One of them would spill the beans, no doubt about it.
Shaking his head in disgust, Jesse hoisted his pack on his shoulder and made his way to his room to sort his dirty laundry.
“Think he knows?” Emma stared after Jesse.
“Jesse? Nah.” Brennan raised a dismissive shoulder. “He just thinks he knows something’s up. Nothing to know, right?”
“I’ll miss us,” Emma said pensively.
“Why would you say that?” Shalimar was earnestly confused.
Emma looked at her friend and lover. “We can’t continue, not with Adam and Jesse around. What if they find out? We agreed not to tell, remember.”
“Uh huh. But we didn’t agree to stop.” Brennan exchanged a grin with Shalimar. “C’mon Emma. It’s been fun, hasn’t it? There’s no reason we can’t get together once in a while.”
Emma still looked doubtful.
Over the next couple of days, Jesse kept a careful eye on his teammates. He made sure to be near one of them at any moment in time. Even a blind man couldn’t have failed to notice the furtive glances, the light touches, or the secretive smiles they exchanged when they thought nobody was watching. Although at first it amused him, after a while it made him feel insecure and left out. They obviously had a secret they didn’t want to share.
One night, long after everyone had retreated to their rooms, Jesse lay awake, thinking about the signs he had witnessed and what they could mean. He heard a door open and close, softly, as if the executant was afraid he’d wake anyone. Instantly, Jesse was on high alert. Who would be sneaking around in the Sanctuary in the middle of the night?
He perked up his ears, straining to hear what would happen next. He recognized footsteps, softly tapping on the hardwood floor. Someone on barefoot. A muted knock on the door to one of the other rooms. Emma’s, Jesse thought. Or maybe Shalimar’s. Muffled voices, a suppressed giggle.
He let out a breath and relaxed.
Okay, someone was being hush-hush about their liaison with another member of the team. Probably Brennan and Shalimar. Could that be the secret they wouldn’t let him in on? But why would they try to keep it quiet? It was obvious that Emma knew. And Adam would certainly give them his blessing.
He was still mulling over possible reasons, when he heard another person tiptoe past outside his door. “Okay,” Jesse muttered, “this thing is getting weirder and weirder.”
He hopped from his bed and cautiously pulled the door open a notch, just wide enough that he could peer out.
Although the hallway was dark, it was impossible to mistake the tall shadow for anyone but Brennan. He frowned. If Brennan was slinking around in the dark now, who had snuck around before, then? Jesse shook his head in confusion and leaned out a little further, careful to make no noise.
Brennan rapped his knuckles against Emma’s door. From the room came a thud and a giggle before the door was opened and Emma stood in the doorway. She clutched a sheet around her, holding it up between her breasts. Jesse blinked. Was she naked?
Emma’s face lit up when she recognized Brennan. Her mouth widened in a smile and she opened the door a little further, reaching out with one hand to grab Brennan’s and pull him in. “You’re late.”
In the background Jesse heard Shalimar complain she was getting cold.
Jesse locked his door and slid down to the floor to rest his back against it. It didn’t take a genius to understand what was going on. Secret midnight visits, the looks, the smiles. That was the secret they kept? A love triangle? Now that he knew, the muffled sounds drifting through the wood walls were unmistakable.
Jesse rubbed his face. He wasn’t sure what he felt. Disgust? Envy? Hurt?
Definitely hurt, he decided. They were a team, the quartet that stood strong against the forces of Genomex, with Adam as their intrepid sensei. And tonight Jesse suddenly found out that he was no longer a part of the team. Officially, sure. But not really, not anymore.
He wondered if Adam knew. After a moment’s thought he decided Adam wouldn’t. For all his brilliance, Adam could be quite ignorant in the matters of the heart. The way he had explained Shalimar’s attraction to Richard Saunders to her — no, Jesse thought, Adam didn’t have a clue.
Jesse pushed the cereal around in his bowl with a spoon, dunking the grains beneath the milk and watching them pop back up. He had not slept at all that night, and he wasn’t really hungry. He still hadn’t figured out what to do about his discovery — or even if he should do anything at all. Perhaps he should simply pretend he didn’t know.
“Morning, Jess.” Shalimar joined him with a bright smile. She reached for the orange juice. “What’s with the long face?”
Jesse grunted something about not having slept well.
“Good morning!” A chipper Brennan entered the room, a spring in his step.
No wonder, Jesse thought glumly. Whereas he had been too agitated to sleep all night, Brennan got to make out with two girls at once. That would be enough to put any man in an excellent mood.
Emma followed on Brennan’s heels. “What’s the plan for today? More training? Computer lessons? Jesse?”
Jesse pushed his bowl across the table with enough force to make the milk spill over the rim. He stormed off without a word. He couldn’t take this. How could they shut him out so completely, after all they’d been through together?
“What’s his problem?” Brennan stared after his friend.
“He said he didn’t sleep well.” Shalimar brought a glass of orange juice to her lips but didn’t drink. A small wrinkle of concern appeared between her eyebrows.
“Uh oh.” Emma flopped down on a seat. “He knows.”
“What?” Brennan exclaimed. “How could he? Did you tell him? Shal?”
“Wasn’t me.” Shalimar put the glass back on the table. “Are you sure, Emma?”
Emma didn’t reply. She wore the intense expression that told the others she was using her power. “He saw us last night,” she muttered without meeting the others’ eyes. “I guess my room was a bad choice for a rendez-vous. He’s very upset.”
“Why?” Shalimar wanted to know. “It’s not really any of his business, is it?”
“Isn’t it?” It was Brennan who spoke. “Jesse’s a part of Mutant X too. He’s family.”
“He’s hurt,” Emma agreed. “He thinks we feel he’s not good enough for us.”
“That’s crap!” Shalimar hopped up. “I’ll go talk to him.”
“No.” Emma again. “Talking won’t do any good. He won’t believe you. Maybe, if we had told him at once…” Her voice trailed off.
“So, what are we going to do?” Brennan asked.
They were silent for a long time. “What if we show Jesse how much he means to us?” Shalimar suggested hesitantly.
“How?” Emma looked sideways at her friend. “Oh… Like that.”
“Yeah. Like that. Anyone have a problem with that?”
“No, not me,” Emma said. “Brennan?”
The male member of the threesome wore a pained expression.
He looked from one woman to another, then rolled his shoulders in an ‘aw shucks’ gesture. “No. No problem. When?”
“Tonight. The sooner the better,” Emma suggested.
The others nodded in agreement.
After long hours of tossing and turning, Jesse finally drifted into an angry, fitful sleep. He had stayed in his room most of the day, not up to meeting his teammates and pretend everything was peachy. He feared another sleepless night. The worst part was, he couldn’t ask Adam for a sleeping aid. Adam would want to know what was wrong, and this was something Jesse could never tell. It simply hurt too much to admit he was an outcast, an outsider whom the others didn’t want around in their happy little circle.
It didn’t come as a surprise when he dreamed of soft, warm, pliant bodies snuggling against him. Caressing hands began to travel across his body. Jesse murmured something unintelligible.
“We’re sorry, Jesse,” said Emma to his left.
“We love you.” Shalimar on the right.
This was some dream.
“Hey man. We were afraid you couldn’t handle it.” Brennan’s voice.
Jesse’s eyes flew open.
Hands ripped away his T-shirt. A warm mouth kissed his chest. Other hands pulled down his boxers.
“Tell us to stop, and we will, Jesse.” Shalimar’s touch was warm on his stomach. Her fingers grazed his skin as she trailed them around his belly button
“He doesn’t want us to.” Emma giggled against his throat where she was busy kissing a wet path. “Do you?” She raised her face to meet his eyes.
Jesse shook his head. His voice was failing him, except to cry out in shock and pleasure when a large hand wrapped itself around his erection. And when had that occurred, by the way?
It was Jesse’s last coherent thought for the night.
The next morning he woke up nestled in a tight spot between Emma and Shalimar, with Brennan’s strong arm flung across his waist.
“Brennan? Emma?” Adam’s voice drifted in from the hallway. They heard him knocking on doors. “Hello? Shalimar? Where is everyone?”
“Uh oh.” Emma raised her head and fixed her gaze on the door, waiting. Her eyes sparkled with mischief. “Adam is going to be so shocked.”
Final Author’s Note: No. No, no, no. En – Oh. Got it? The story stops here. No Fivesome in the works. Never, ever gonna happen. No matter how much you beg or threaten me 🙂 This two-parter story was hard enough to write as it was, and the thought of Adam… *shudders* I do have limits, you know. But if anyone else feels inspired, go right ahead!