Timelined right after The Best of Frenemies.
<Shaw> Sebastian most certainly needed a drink after the drink he'd had with Rogue, and was just contemplating another.
<Jessica> Jess had noticed the absence of her husband and, now that he had appeared again, she wound her way toward him and the bar. "Where'd you wander off to? Being smiley and pleasant all day too stressful?" she gave him a small grin.
<Shaw> "As a matter of fact, I believe it might have been." He flashed her his teeth and slid his arm around her waist to pull her in tight. "The maid of honor had words for me," he said into her ear, voice low.
<Jessica> "Words?" An eyebrow went up, "Nice words or scary angry punchy words?" She too kept her voice low and wrapped an arm around him.
<Shaw> "Well, there was only one actual punch." He tapped his nose, though the swelling was minimal and the bruises under his eyes already fading.
<Jessica> Her eyes narrowed a little, wondering if she needed to have words with Rogue. "What the hell for?"
<Shaw> "Essex." At that, he wrinkled his sore nose and ordered another drink.
<Jessica> Now she was even more confused, "She decided now was the best time to have that discussion?"
<Shaw> "I believe she promised to behave so long as Drake and his bride were here." He waved his free hand. "The newlyweds have departed, so it was open season, so to speak."
<Jessica> "But it's been weeks since Bobby had his freak out... what are they doing? Spacing it out so we get one a month for a year?" She frowned.
<Shaw> Sebastian shrugged and accepted his drink, giving the bartender a generous tip. "I can't wait until Miss Jones takes a swing at me over breakfast next month."
<Jessica> "Oh don't even joke..." she shook her head. They'd have to get a new nanny...
<Shaw> He chuckled, low in his throat, and took a healthy swig of scotch. No... she's the least of our concerns.
<Jessica> I don't want any more concerns. We're supposed to be looking forward to a holiday.... She wrinkled her nose at him.
<Shaw> "I know," he said aloud, tone every bit as put-upon as her mental voice. Are you quite sure you don't want your bracelet, and a drink?
<Jessica> Not anymore... She fished in her purse, Scotch me.
<Shaw> He only blinked once, then raised his hand for the bartender, rubbing his other over her back in soothing circles.
<Jessica> Let's find somewhere quiet to talk about this... she picked up her drink when it arrived and shifted to hook Sebastian's arm with hers.
<Shaw> "Of course, my lady," he said, lifting her hand and kissing the her knuckles as he led her back outside. That gazebo was lovely, after all.
<Jessica> She let him lead, taking a careful sip of her scotch and trying not to let her mind race ahead to this potential new drama.
<Shaw> Shhh. It's not something we can directly control. Unfortunately. When they reached the gazebo, he nodded for her to sit on the bench before him.
<Jessica> She sat, holding the glass in her lap between her hands, "What are we dealing with?"
<Shaw> Sebastian sat and ran his tongue over his teeth, debating how to put it. "Essex is, for lack of a better term, still alive."
<Jessica> Jess took a healthy gulp of scotch before she responded to that, "What?"
<Shaw> He couldn't blame her for that one. "Well," he started, trying to organize Rogue's story. Then, he thought better of it. He took a drink. "Would you like the short version, or the long?"
<Jessica> "The version where no one gets kidnapped and experimented on."
<Shaw> Sebastian barked a laugh. "Well, that I can't tell. Yet."
<Jessica> "Damnit... why don't we know any mutants with prophetic powers? There must be at least one out there..." She needed more scotch. She finished off her glass.
<Shaw> "Oh, I've wished for one for years," he admitted, looking down at her glass and offering her his. "Perhaps I should get the bottle?"
<Jessica> "Yes." She took his glass and emptied it too.
<Shaw> Impressed, Sebastian stood and pressed a kiss to her forehead before he turned to go back into the building.
<Jessica> Jess stared around at the scenery, sure she'd enjoy it more if she wasn't a bundle of nerves. The day wasn't even over and they were already onto the next thing that would be taking over their lives because there was no way this wasn't going to become a thing.
<Shaw> Jessica's nervousness bled over into his own as he waited for the bartender, barely stopping himself from snapping at the man. Once the bottle was secured, he rushed back to her.
<Jessica> Jess held out both glasses for him to fill, "So... what are we going to do now?"
<Shaw> "Well," he started, pouring the amber liquid. "I should tell you the circumstances. Rogue and her merry band of militant X-Men did kill Nathaniel Essex, but due to the woman's abilities, he managed to live on - in her mind."
<Jessica> Jess nodded, "I know this part. She went all crazy for a while and the X-men had to track her down." She gestured with her glass for him to keep going to the top.
<Shaw> "Indeed." He raised a brow at her, then topped off her glass, finally setting the bottle aside to take a sip himself. "Essex must have had a crystal ball, however, to plot out this next step, as apparently the bastard had prepared a clone of himself."
<Jessica> "Of course he did." She rolled her eyes, "Just our fucking luck..."
<Shaw> "Oh, it gets better, since apparently the methods he perfected on Michael he turned to himself. His new body is female." He knocked back a healthy swallow.
<Jessica> Jess joined him in that drink, "This is crazy. Even for us, this is crazy."
<Shaw> "Mmm." Sebastian nodded in complete agreement.
<Jessica> "We should tell Michael - he has a right to know... and Meggan too, I guess..."
<Shaw> "I agree." He took a drink. "Conveniently, Rogue didn't remember any of this until quite recently. And she has not told anyone." Sebastian met her eyes. "Including Drake."
<Jessica> "... well that's just fucking stupid! He's been running around out there doing God knows what and she didn't think she should tell anyone?" Sometimes she really wondered about the people in their lives and whether or not any of them actually had a brain.
<Shaw> "After I more or less convinced that stubborn, skunk-headed woman we were on the same side, she agreed to tell Drake and Lehnsherr, though I believe I should have a meeting with Erik as well. Essex is a serious danger to everyone at that school."
<Jessica> Jess nodded, "Um... should we tell Hope?" She wasn't sure that was a good idea, "Or should we let Michael do it?"
<Shaw> Sebastian sighed and took another drink. "I don't know, love. Perhaps tell them together?"
<Jessica> "... I don't know if I can deal with two meltdowns at the same time..." she pouted, "You do it."
<Shaw> He chuckled and reached out, sliding his palm along her jaw and to the back of her head to pull her close enough to kiss. "As you wish, love. We can talk about it... later."
<Jessica> "I'll talk to Meggan about it and you can talk to Hope and Michael.... and we'll do it all at the same time. Rip that bandaid off."
<Shaw> Sebastian just nodded. "I've already contacted Yukio, so she can be more alert." He sighed.
<Jessica> Jess nodded, "Yeah... I'd feel much safer if I knew where Viper was...." She was pretty sure Viper could find anyone given enough time and the appropriate resources.
<Shaw> "I never thought I would agree with you on that matter," he said with a laugh. Closing his eyes, he leaned his forehead against her. He let Rogue live for a reason, so it's either as his herald, or because he truly has a future use for her. Either is worrisome.
<Jessica> "Maybe he was hoping there'd be two of him running around..." It probably didn't even matter because they wouldn't know the reason until it was too late anyway.
<Shaw> "Or that," he admitted. "I doubt we're terribly high on his list of priorities, so there is that."
<Jessica> "Yeah... hopefully...." she sighed, "Stupid bad luck magnetism."
<Shaw> "I don't intend to do anything to put us higher on that list." Sebastian sighed as well.
<Jessica> "I know... but something'll happen anyway. That's our lot in life... and this is not me being paranoid or pessimistic. This is just recalling the events of the last two years. There's a pattern."
<Shaw> "Well... maybe." The alcohol in his system made him far more agreeable to her assessment.
<Jessica> "Maybe we should ask our new alien friends if they could build us a home on the moon." She slouched in her seat and took another deep drink from her glass.
<Shaw> "Mmmm. Don't think I haven't ruled out an alternate dimension." He glanced over at her. "Although, there you're married to Agent Sum..." That deserved another drink.
<Jessica> "Yeeeeeah but here I'm married to you and that would never have happened here even if we weren't," she prodded his arm.
<Shaw> "Well, that's at least reassuring." He gave her a tired smile and caught her hand to give it a squeeze.
<Jessica> She returned the squeeze and gave him a small smile, "Sometimes I wonder what would my life would be like if I hadn't gone to that school... but I never imagine that."
<Shaw> "I'm grateful you went to that school, though I know you and many others have suffered there as much as they've prospered." He sighed and took another drink. "Sometimes because of me."
<Jessica> "So... that I want to go back... crazy? Not crazy?" She cocked her head on one side.
<Shaw> He barely stopped himself from choking on the next sip of scotch. "Pardon?"
<Jessica> "Crazy. Gotcha." She nodded slowly to herself and took another sip from her own glass, "I can't help it... I miss them. It's mad there... but it was the first home I had."
<Shaw> He kept her hand and gave it another squeeze. "No... well, yes. It is a little crazy, but I understand. That place has a target painted on it, but to be amongst others like ourselves..." Sebastian's mind wandered and he looked off across the lawn. "That's valuable."
<Jessica> "It's not just that..." she looked down at her drink, "My world is so small now... but I'm afraid to go back out and get a job... I want to... but I'm not ready yet... so I thought maybe if I went back to the beginning... got an actual degree instead of dropping out... might help, you know?"
<Shaw> "You of course still have the option of getting a degree from somewhere... else, you know?" His gaze tracked back to her.
<Jessica> "I know... and I did think about it - you know, you saw the mess I made of the kitchen table... but I don't want to go somewhere else. I want to go there."
<Shaw> Sebastian just stared at her for a long moment, drinking in her face. Finally, he smiled, though it was a little messy. "As you wish, koibito. I'm afraid you still can't take any of my courses, however."
<Jessica> "That's okay... they all sound really really boring." She bumped his shoulder with her own, "I'm thinking of taking psychology."
<Shaw> "Boring!" Sebastian scoffed and gave her a playful leer. "I'm terribly sorry I bore you so. Perhaps you'd find Sum more diverting?"
<Jessica> "Only because it would be more rewarding to smack him."
<Shaw> "Oh, come now. You enjoy smacking me." He leaned his head on her shoulder.
<Jessica> "Yeah... but it doesn't get me anywhere... you enjoy it too much." She settled against him and sipped her scotch.
<Shaw> "Mmm, indeed I do." He twitched his nose, which no longer ached, and straightened to let his wife get more comfortable. With his arm around her, he let out a more contented sigh. "But only when you do it."
<Jessica> "Well good. I'm special." She smiled and cuddled into him a little, "And a tiny bit crazy."
<Shaw> "Mmm. My kind of crazy." He turned his head to brush her hair with his nose.
<Jessica> "I will drink to that," she raised her glass into his eyeline.
<Shaw> "Excellent!" Sebastian carefully lifted his glass and clinked it against hers, trying not to slosh the liquid. "There's so much to drink for, after all."
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