The picture on the viewing monitor was fuzzy. Embedding a secret camera in Dr. Marcus’ office had been a decision made on a whim; he’d never thought he’d need to use it.
Then again, for all his planning, he’d never thought of a lot of things.
Despite the fuzziness of the image, the figures on the screen were easily identified. Dr. Marcus, his face kind as he spoke, frequently pointing out details on an x-ray film displayed just for that purpose. Jess Kilmartin, expression grave as he stood and listened to the report on the damage done to his body by inhaling dangerous gas. Brennan Mulwray, standing shoulder to shoulder with Jesse, wrinkles of concerned concentration on his forehead as he heard the diagnosis.
Unmercifully, there was sound along with the picture.
“What’re you saying, Doc?” Brennan asked when Marcus was done. He was the first to speak, even though it was his companion that was most affected by the news. “That damn gas permanently damaged Jess’ lungs?”
As the doctor finished talking, Brennan had wrapped an arm around Jesse’s shoulders. The younger man silently snuggled into Brennan’s warmth as they both waited on the physician’s answer.
“No, not at all,” Dr. Marcus assured them. “You just won’t be playing basketball for awhile. Once the lung tissue has a chance to heal, Jesse will be fine.”
“See, Brennan, I told you.” Jesse grinned up at Mulwray. “Nothing to worry about.”
The love in Brennan’s eyes as he looked back was palpable, even viewed on monitor with a fuzzy picture.
“Yeah, I guess you did,” the elemental responded. He pulled Kilmartin more firmly into his embrace, finally ending up standing behind Jesse, with both arms wrapped around him.
“It’s just a good thing you weren’t phasing when it happened,” Marcus added. “If that chemical had gotten into your molecular structure, it would have caused all sorts of unpleasantness.”
Jesse shivered and Brennan’s arms automatically tightened.
“Been there, done that already.” Mulwray said curtly. Jesse pushed back into the bigger man, not phasing, put pressing as close as possible for the ‘normal’ state of the human body - visibly gaining comfort from Brennan’s presence.
It was too much.
Long fingers jabbed at the necessary controls, abruptly cutting off both the audio and visual feeds. Leaning back against his chair, Adam Kane steepled his fingers, thinking furiously.
He’d known when he left Mutant X to fend for themselves that the possibility existed that one of his team might get hurt. That’s why he’d instructed Lexa to introduce the others to Dr. Marcus. That it was Jesse Kilmartin who’d nearly died, from a gas designed as a security measure by Adam himself AND without Adam there to care for him… that disturbed Adam more than he ever thought it could.
But that was nothing compared to how disturbed he felt upon witnessing Jesse seeking – and receiving – comfort from Brennan Mulwray.
Adam covered his eyes. He’d never kidded himself that there would be no ramifications from his choice to temporarily abandon Mutant X. This consequence, however, had never occurred to him. He’d lost something, something he never knew he wanted, not until he saw it nestled in the arms of another man.
Alone amid the ruins of his scheming, Adam wept silent, bitter tears.
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