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“She’s just like the others.” Darling said, unable to keep the disappointment out of his voice. “I had thought. Well.”

He cut himself off before he said it aloud, wondering at himself privately. It was hardly scientific to simply believe Jesse wouldn’t succumb to the altered item because she wouldn’t . Because Darling had learned to bet on her instead of against.

Of course, if he was looking at it statistically, nothing had bested her yet. Why should he believe this would?

“.morf emoc yeht erehw si siht oS” She said, looking around the lab like she was seeing it in color, or for the first time. Her pupils were pin pricks, dark drops in her manic gaze and Darling wondered if it was a drug that did this to them. Something like what ‘Meadow’ caused.

“Take a blood sample.” He asked a nurse. “Run a toxicology report. Mark it urgent.”

“Yes, sir.” New-Emily said. Darling didn’t like him half as much as regular Emily. Too quiet, and not very respectful, which would be fine if he was ever on time .

“.mih ekil dnuos uoY” Jesse said, and Darling looked down at her, attention sparked by the venom in her tone. She was still just staring up at him with those wild eyes. “.gnilraD gnikcuF”

He frowned at her. This AI was so strange. Just like the first agents to explore The Mirror, she’d had no trouble crossing into the Mirror, her body disappearing from view a second before the last instance of her reflection did. Terrifying and fascinating. They’d only planned a short trip, but as with every other time, she was gone longer than the allotted time. 

This time it was for three hours .

She returned through the Mirror in different clothes, wide-eyed and panting. Blood smeared across her cheek even though medical couldn’t find a cut on her. 

He also swore her hair was longer when she’d gone in, some kind of temporal displacement maybe, but since nobody else had noticed he hadn’t put it in the report. 

Something in the way she watched him. 

She was watching his assistant now, coming cautiously toward her. Caution seemed prudent. She hadn’t liked being cuffed at all. He watched those eyes focus on the needle.

“Careful-” Darling shouted, but Jesse moved faster than he would have thought possible. Her arm ripped free of it’s strap, summoning a chunk of House from behind Anna, fuck Darling thought it was Anna, she was screaming like Anna even if she was down before he could be sure. Debris smashed into the back of her skull, dropping her to the ground. A fine mist of blood sprayed his shoes, coated her face like a net.

“.rotcoD, seldeen etah I wonk ouY” She told him and then grinned, quick and fierce. Darling felt frozen in horror, god, not like Dylan, never again, not Jesse - and then his brain came back online. He leaped for the call buttons, hoping to set off the alarms, alert security.

“.emit siht toN” She said coldly. He could feel her power in the air like the weight of potential, and when she raised her hand, it moved around him, crushing against him to lift him into the air. Darling kicked uselessly. “.em dna uoy tsuJ .uoy evas ot ereh seinorc ruoy fo enoN”

“You aren’t Jesse.” Darling said and the thing unbuckled itself from the chair, threw her head back and laughed. It felt so obvious now, that this wasn’t his Jesse.

“.tsrif nuf evah s’teL .siraloP ,seY” She said, and then flicked her hand up, sending him flying. Darling heard himself scream before he crashed along his desk. Pain bloomed in his back and his flailing arms sent the contents of the desk to the floor or would have if the raw psychic power didn’t have everything floating on an unearthly current. Cups and pens and papers drifting to an unmeasured tide. She bent as he struggled, unsecuring one ankle and then the next. He had to get to the security button. If she made it out of this building-

He struggled weakly against the pain from his back and shoulder, trapped by his coat and the door of the filing cabinet that had fallen sideways. She was already on top of him as he sat up, and her eyes shivered strangely, sparking as she looked at him. He thought of the blood on her cheek- on the mirror already resealed behind Black Rock, no way to come back through-

".era you diarfa woh kooL" She said, something wondering in her voice, and Darling shrank away from her when she reached for him, his pulse thundering in his throat. Let himself fall back to avoid her, and she laughed again, fucking delighted, apparently, by his terror. Let himself keep falling and hit the floor on the other side of the desk, scrabbling away from her.

There was no escape, she could kill him in an instant-

The desk rose, straight in the air, like a magic trick, and the other Jesse sent it away with a wave of her hand, plunging it into the plaster, still striding toward him. Her long determined steps ate up the distance between them. Darling's back was pressed against the wall, trapped between the uncontrollable swell of her power and the house.

Behind her water began to spray from a struck pipe, chaos in her wake, soaking the pages still cartwheeling in midair.

".gnilraD ,won big os toN" She said, and something about her whisper was intimate, making Darling's eyes narrow, try to decipher the expression on her familiar face.

And then she flicked her hand again and Darling choked as his bowtie ripped from his throat, joining the rapidly soaking mess on the floor. Another flick, and this time it was his clothing, shredded, shirt and coat peeling from him. The snapping fibers stinging his skin, buttons pinging off and Darling screamed again. Shouted 'Stop!' but she just stepped forward, pressed the blunt tip of her wet boot into the crotch of his pants and leaned. The sudden exposure was frightening, the pain immediate.

" F-fuck ." Darling cursed, pressed back helplessly, unable to stop the pressure, the pain. Water dotted his chest, soaking into the seat of his trousers only faster as he squirmed. "God, why?"

"!nam elttil ,mriuqS" She shouted, and Darling's breath caught as her sharp boots caught sensitive skin, tears pricking in his eyes. She had to stop. He couldn't-

-couldn't help slowly thickening under the pressure.

Whimpered as she pulled her foot back, glaring at him and Darling could easily read her expression now. Disgust.

".ereh neve ,doG" She spat. "egnahc reven uoY .nam dlo ytrid uoY"

Kicked out at his thigh, forcing him to widen the gap of his legs and then pressed the flat of her boot to him again, trapping his length cruelly between his body and his zipper. Ground down and Darling cried out, back spasming.

She was saying something else- 'epacse on s'ereht' and 'dlrow krad rehtonA'- but Darling's mind was half on his desperately hard cock, and half on Jesse, his Jesse rising smoothly from the mirrored surface of the water, covering the floor. His Jesse, the one wearing Emily's ID because she'd forgotten her own this morning, blood staining one garish gold suit sleeve.

And even as he wanted to cry out for her, for Polaris, God, he'd never wanted his Director to see him like this. Pinned like a bug under her shoe.

Jesse didn't shoot. Just strode up behind it, looking pissed, and clocked herself across the back of the head with her pistol, a single devastating swing and Darling pulled his legs together immediately. Tried to pull the tattered bits of his clothes back over him.

"Backwards bitch." Jesse said, and Darling took in a shaky breath at the wave of relief he felt upon hearing her speak. Upon him understanding . "You okay, Darling?"

"Mm. Mhmm." He said. Cleared his throat. "We should. Um. Tie her back up."

"I can do it." Jesse said easily, looking down at herself with distaste. Her eyes flickered over to him and away. "So you can uh… have a minute."

"Thanks Director." Darling said, feeling small where he sat and Jesse nodded, turning her head to survey the wreckage of the room, cheeks flushed above her pursed lips. 

"It's okay." She said kindly. "Just you and me."