Timelined a few days after Valentine's Day
<Jessica> Jess had taken over the dining room for the afternoon, though not with food. There were books, many books, all about plants spread across half of the dining table, some had bookmarks in several pages and others had yet to be opened. She had a system.
<Shinobi> This time, when he returned from class, he resisted the urge of Starbucks and went straight inside. Hope wasn't home, and wouldn't be for a while, and he had homework. Carrying his bag upstairs, he decided to find something to eat and then decide how much of these reading assignments he really intended to complete.
<Shinobi> He stopped at the top of the stairs and tilted his head at Jess' massive pile of books. "Wow... well, I guess I better find another place to throw my own books."
<Jessica> Jess looked up from her reading, "Hey!" she smiled, "There's still half the table, I can share."
<Shinobi> "Hey," he greeted, circling the table and taking in the covers of the books. "That's okay, I don't need a whole half." Dropping the bag onto a clear area, he pulled a chair around and sat down. "Sudden interest in horticulture?" He reached for an unopened book and flipped it open. Yep, plants.
<Jessica> "Research," she picked up her cup and was disappointed to discover there was no tea in it, "We're going to have a garden to put plants in soon."
<Shinobi> "We are?" He gave her a curious look, attention drawn from the colorful illustrations.
<Jessica> She nodded, "Sebastian surprised me with this plan over a surprise dinner on Valentine's day. He wants to put a garden on the roof space."
<Shinobi> "Oh, that flat spot?" He supposed he could picture that. "That's... surprising, I guess."
<Jessica> "I think it's a great idea," she smiled, getting up to fix the lack of tea problem, "Then I can sit on the roof in the open air in summer and not look like a weirdo."
<Shinobi> "Yeah, I think it's a good idea. Just surprised he was that... thoughtful." He shrugged, putting the book down and opening his bag.
<Jessica> She looked over at him, laughing a little, "Why?"
<Shinobi> He gave her a look that clearly said he wondered why she was wondering.
<Jessica> She gave a small roll of her eyes, Sebastian had always been thoughtful toward her so she never understood this misconception that he was incapable. "Do you want tea while I'm up? Or coffee?"
<Shinobi> "Coffee, please." Her reaction made him smirk and he got up to join her in the kitchen, leaning on the counter. "What?"
<Jessica> "People are always so surprised when they learn he thinks about others... and I don't know why. Especially when it's people in this house who see him for who he really is and not just the face he shows everyone else."
<Shinobi> "I'm not sure about that." He opened a cabinet, trying to decide what he wanted. "Pretty sure I mostly see that face you're talking about."
<Jessica> "Well what to you expect when you project the same back at him? You're both as bad as each other a lot of the time..." she offered a small smile to show she wasn't angry or trying to make him feel bad.
<Shinobi> He shrugged, closing the cabinet to look in another. "I've tried... a bit more."
<Jessica> "I know... And I know it's not easy sometimes, I appreciate that." She offered him another smile, "Is there anything you'd like to see in the garden?"
<Shinobi> Surprised, he looked over at her. "I don't know... that's not anything I've ever thought about. What are you doing with it? Just putting planters up there?"
<Jessica> "Probably... I was thinking some useful plants but I'm not sure how well they'd survive... we'd have to keep them in pots that we could bring inside over winter..." she wrinkled her nose.
<Shinobi> "Useful plants?" In theory he knew there was such a thing, but it seemed very... crunchy granola. Maybe he wanted a granola bar? He searched for one. "Or put a greenhouse up there?"
<Jessica> "That would take up too much room... can't enjoy plants properly in a greenhouse. I'll think of something, this is only phase one," she gestured at the table. "I realise you've never seen what happens when I have a mind to learn something... come to think of it, neither has Sebastian." She poured him some coffee and offered it out, "It'll be a learning curve for both of you."
<Shinobi> "Thanks," he said with a smile, taking the coffee. "You know, there's this thing called the Internet..."
<Jessica> "You can't spread the internet all over the dining table," Jess pointed out, "And I was raised with books, they're friendly."
<Shinobi> "So was I, and I like books. But, you have to admit, the internet is faster." He shrugged, blowing on the coffee and giving up his search for food. "Surprised not more of the textbooks at MIT aren't online, actually."
<Jessica> "Maybe you should bring that up as a suggestion? I'm sure they'd consider it... but I'll stick to my books, thanks. It helps me visualise better."
<Shinobi> "Yeah, maybe when I'm actually a student. This auditing thing is... odd." He jumped up to sit on the counter.
<Jessica> "Odd? How so?" She gestured toward the perfectly good chairs around the table.
<Shinobi> He grinned and made himself comfortable on the counter. "Well, I'm taking business, poly sci, and math, and you can't tell me that last one isn't just a test from my father." Taking a sip of his coffee, he leaned enough to open another cabinet and check for anything tempting.
<Jessica> "I like math," Jess commented, leaning against the counter and sipping her tea, "Math's useful in a lot of things, probably would help with the other classes you're in... why is it odd though?"
<Shinobi> "Oh yeah, math is useful, but I already know it. I've looked through the syllabus and I already know everything they're covering. So, it's just a waste of time, since I'm not even going to get credit for sitting through it."
<Jessica> She nodded understandingly, "I've been there... I was never in formal schooling until I came here. I had to sit in classes with the title of 'remedial' to make sure I knew all the things I was supposed to know. It was sort of humiliating." She sighed, "But I knew all those things so I took some tests and started regular classes.... maybe you can do the same?"
<Shinobi> That attracted his attention. "Never in formal schooling?"
<Jessica> She shook her head, "I was supposed to start but we left England before I was old enough," she had another sip of tea, "My education was a little unconventional."
<Shinobi> "Unconventional how?" She'd been dropping hints for months about her background, but he'd never truly bothered to put the pieces together.
<Jessica> "We moved around a lot... different countries... My father taught me some things, but there were tutors too that he brought in to fill the gaps. I learned normal school topics, languages... and how to defend myself in a multitude of different ways." She set her tea down, "I also learned how to cook when I was old enough... in the same way."
<Shinobi> "But why? I realize I'm in no position to really say that's weird, but..." He shrugged, watching her face.
<Jessica> "Why what?" she pushed her hands through her hair, considering the merits of biscuits for lunch because she'd missed actual lunch.
<Shinobi> "Why not just go to a regular school. Or schools, since you said you moved a lot. Was he in the military or something?"
<Jessica> Jess shook her head, "No... we were hiding... I didn't know what from at the time, just that we had to stay indoors a lot and not talk about where we'd come from. I found out later that we were hiding from Hydra... Viper, specifically."
<Shinobi> "And now she's... okay?" At least to her, it seemed. Hope didn't share that opinion, and Shinobi knew a snake when he saw one, even without benefit of the name as a flashing warning light.
<Jessica> Jess nodded, "She explained the situation to me, showed me letters they'd exchanged... she'd promised him she'd take care of me and she has... even if sometimes her methods are a little odd."
<Shinobi> "Mmm, yeah. More than a little." He took a drink, finally spotting a granola bar and snatching it from the cabinet. "I still don't buy that she got me out of there because my father suddenly wanted me to be part of the family," he said, reading the ingredients on the package. "But... I'm not complaining."
<Shinobi> "Well, not anymore," he added.
<Jessica> "Well we could probably have done that better... you know... legally... but Viper's not really one for waiting... or tact."
<Shinobi> "Yeah, I noticed." Deciding it was safe, he tore open the wrapper and took a bite, chewing for a while before he continued. "It's crazy, really... pretty soon, I'll be legal. I'll have a life." It was more than he'd ever expected.
<Jessica> "Yes, you will," she smiled, going over to him and wrapping him into a hug, "For which, I am very glad."
<Shinobi> "Me too. I know I never would have had the chance to complain about auditing classes if it weren't for you." He leaned down to return the hug, closing his eyes. "Thank you."
<Jessica> "You are very welcome," she pressed a kiss to his cheek, "But I can't take all the credit."
<Shinobi> "Oh, I don't know about that." He smiled, laughing a little, and moved back to look at her. "I didn't believe you either - not at first. There was no way somebody would stick out their neck for a stranger."
<Jessica> "Oh you'd be surprised. Some people really are that crazy," she pointed at herself, "Case in point."
<Shinobi> "You're not crazy." He straightened up and took a bite of his granola bar, grinning around it. "Weird, sure, but not crazy."
<Jessica> She laughed, "I've been called worse things so... I'll take that as a compliment."
<Shinobi> "It's absolutely a compliment," he laughed, washing his granola down with coffee.
<Jessica> "Gooooood or I'd have to zap you." She joked, "Everyone in this house is a bit weird, I'm inclined to think weird is just normal for this family."
<Shinobi> "Touche." He shook his head. "I have an excuse. Sounds like you grew up running from a fucking crazy, and, well, it looks like I should have."
<Jessica> "I didn't run... I was dragged... if it's any consolation, I'm sure Sebastian would have dragged you if he'd have known you existed."
<Shinobi> His coffee mug became suddenly very interesting. "Yeah, I'm not so sure about that."
<Jessica> "He would have... you're his flesh and blood, and that means something to him." She ruffled up his hair.
<Shinobi> Ducking the hand, he fended her off with his own and ran his fingers through his hair. "Okay, okay, you win," he laughed.
<Jessica> "I always win, it's my mutant power." She picked up her tea, "Want some help with your math homework?"
<Shinobi> "I think I got it," he said, cocking his head to figure that one out. After a moment, he smirked. "Do you miss school?"
<Jessica> "Yes. I am that boring." She nodded solemnly because it was true - she did miss school.
<Shinobi> He nodded along in understanding. "Okay," he finally said, breaking on a slight chuckle. "Maybe between the two of us we could make sure to hit the high points on the syllabus and I can test out of the requirement?"
<Jessica> "Sounds like a plan," Jess gave him a grateful smile, "Happy to help!"
<Shinobi> "Happy to have your help," he said with a nod, sliding off the counter.
<Jessica> "I didn't used to be this boring..." she assured him on her way back to the table, "I had a job and hobbies and stuff... now I'm just a housewife with a baby..." she wrinkled her nose.
<Shinobi> "Hey, it turns out I kind of like boring." He moved a few of her plant books to make room for his homework. "What did you do... before? You've kind of mentioned you didn't have the best job..."
<Jessica> "I've had a few jobs..." she sat down and set her mug on the table, "Most recently I was teaching at a dance school... I liked that job... but then there was a car... and some stuff happened... I haven't really been able to bring myself to go back there..." she did miss it though.
<Shinobi> After taking a seat, he looked up at her questioningly. "You're a dancer?" He supposed that shouldn't be surprising. "A car?" It sounded odd, and made him even more curious, although... "Hey, I know I'm kind of prying, but..." He shrugged, giving her a crooked smile.
<Jessica> "It's fine," she waved it off, "I didn't used to be a dancer... there was a whole thing with brainwashing and fake memories before my first Christmas at the school and some of those memories really stuck... in that community, I taught dance and I loved it... so, when we moved to Boston, I thought... why not? I needed a change..."
<Shinobi> He watched her face throughout that story. "Your school has the worst luck," he observed. "I don't know how it's lasted this long." Well, it hadn't, he supposed, then shook it off. "So you taught dance, here, so that's fairly recently."
<Jessica> She nodded, "Before that, in New York, I worked at an old people's home... not as glamorous but fun all the same."
<Shinobi> "An old people's home?" He couldn't help but laugh. "So like a nursing home? Doing what? You're a nurse too?"
<Jessica> She shook her head, "No... I was just.... I don't know, like... a companion I suppose. I went in there and talked to them, played cards or board games... listened to their stories. It was nice..."
<Shinobi> "Nice? Sounds... boring." He wrinkled his nose and flipped open the math text. "And kind of a far cry from the dancing."
<Jessica> "When you grow up without a family, you get it where you can," she laughed a little, "They were like surrogate grandparents... who kept trying to set me up with their actual grand children and who staged sit-ins for cinnamon buns and took mobility scooters on joyrides."
<Shinobi> Grandparents. Shinobi stared down at the book. "Yeah, I suppose I could see how that wouldn't be... completely terrible."
<Jessica> "I worked in the library in New York for a while too... it was okay, quiet..." she gave a small shrug, "That was my first legitimate job."
<Shinobi> The numbers blurred on the page and he rubbed his eyes, looking up. "Legitimate?" The word captured his attention.
<Jessica> She nodded, "My first job wasn't really legal... but I didn't have as many options back then... for example, my lack of formal schooling."
<Shinobi> "Well, believe me, I know something about illegal jobs," he said with a self-conscious chuckle and rubbed his eyes again, glancing back at the equations and then up to Jess. "Thief? I could see that. Your powers... you'd be suited to it."
<Jessica> She shook her head, "No... I knew stealing was wrong." She picked up her tea and took a sip, frowning a little at the eye rubbing.
<Shinobi> "Yeah," he said, frowning. "I knew a lot of stuff was technically wrong, but it didn't matter."
<Jessica> "I didn't know a lot of things I should have known... there were gaps in my education that I suppose he planned to fill eventually but never got the chance..." she chewed her lip, "When I got stranded in Japan, I had no money... I used my powers to get myself safely back to Europe, hitchhiking and convincing people to feed me..."
<Shinobi> He watched her curiously, trying to put those pieces together. "So you were a street kid?" With her looks, that was probably a terrible idea, although she would have been better able to defend herself than most.
<Jessica> Jess shook her head, "Not exactly... I made it to Europe... got as far as Amsterdam... but I didn't have enough to get back to the UK on a boat... or any sort of plan of where to go once I got there so I stayed where I was and got a job I could do..."
<Shinobi> Amsterdam. He looked at her more sharply, wondering if he was coming to the right conclusion. It would answer several questions.
<Jessica> Jess sighed and leaned back in her chair, "Yes... and I'm not ashamed of what I did even though several people have tried to make me so over the years since - including Hope. It tends to come up every so often when she gets angry at me... like properly angry... which hasn't been for a while so maybe soon, I don't know."
<Shinobi> "Yeah," he said after a moment. "I guess we all do what we think we have to do at the time. There's definitely no way I'm in a position to judge."
<Jessica> "I did what I had to to survive... it worked," she gave a shrug, "I'm still here."
<Shinobi> "You are," he agreed with a faint smile. Interesting.
<Jessica> "Never feel bad for surviving," Jess took another sip of her tea, "Especially if you make people happy in the process," she reached over and pulled the textbook so she could look at it.
<Shinobi> "I can't say I ever did that, so you're one up on me there," he laughed a little and scooted closer, tilting his head to see the page.
<Jessica> "I have a gift," she laughed, giving a half shrug, "You're lucky that you have a brain, you can get an actual job."
<Shinobi> "You know that if you're good at this," he pointed at the book. "Then you have a brain."
<Jessica> "I like math... but I wouldn't want to get a job with it. It's not useful to me... I don't need my brain... much."
<Shinobi> Shaking his head a little, he laughed and reached for his coffee. "Okay, what do you make of that then? Compound inequalities. Pretty easy."
<Jessica> "Yes... and completely useless when you're cooking dinner."
<Shinobi> "It's a good thing I don't cook then, right?" He grinned at her and picked up his pen.
<Jessica> "Probably," she laughed, "But I don't think anyone's really a lost cause there, it just takes will."
<Shinobi> "I don't need will when I have take out, or a jar of peanut butter," he laughed, writing out an equation. "So long as Hope's not home," he added.
<Jessica> She laughed a little, "Yeah Sebastian was the same... you should have seen the takeout menus. Probably could have papered a wall with them."
<Shinobi> "Maybe we are more alike than we'd like to admit." He smirked at the paper, blinking when his vision blurred a little.
<Jessica> She frowned again, "Are you alright?"
<Shinobi> "Yeah, I'm fine." He sighed and dropped his pen, pressing the heels of his hands into his eyes. "It's just a headache."
<Jessica> "Take a break... maybe go have a nap and rest your eyes, always helps me." She reached to rub his shoulder soothingly.
<Shinobi> He looked up at her, and everything seemed fine again. "It's annoying. Probably is just eye strain, but my vision's been weird."
<Jessica> "Weird how?" She was worried now but she covered it well.
<Shinobi> "It blurs out every now and then." He pulled the book over and stared down at the page again.
<Jessica> "How long has this been going on?" She closed the book to keep his attention.
<Shinobi> "A couple months, I think." Sitting up, he looked at her instead and blinked.
<Jessica> "And you didn't say anything about it because...?" She was using the mom voice again... she really had to stop that.
<Shinobi> "I didn't think it was a big deal, really." Well, until the last couple of weeks, he supposed.
<Jessica> "Well it probably isn't but still... make notes when it happens, okay? It might just be when you're tired."
<Shinobi> "Yeah, okay." He raised an eyebrow at her.
<Jessica> "What? Don't give me that look..." she prodded his shoulder.
<Shinobi> "So what if it is? I just go drink a pot of coffee? I can't take a nap every time."
<Jessica> "If it is then it's no problem, just get more sleep and take breaks... easy fix. But the only way to figure that out is if you make notes."
<Shinobi> "Right." He pulled over his notebook and picked up the pen, pretending to write. "Three o'clock, feel like someone jammed an icepick behind my eyes," he said, giving her a skeptical look.
<Jessica> "... Did you just sass me? Don't you sass me - I can zap you."
<Shinobi> He sat back in the chair and just grinned.
<Jessica> "Oooh you are sailing some dangerous waters, mister."
<Shinobi> "I think we both know I still like a little danger."
<Jessica> "Well just so long as you remember, I know where you sleep."
<Shinobi> "That you do," he laughed, shaking his head and pinching the bridge of his nose. "Nah, I think I'll just take something for this. It'll be fine."
<Jessica> "Yes, take a nap. I'll call you for dinner," she looked over the table and sighed, "I suppose I should put all this away and make a start on that..."
<Shinobi> He smirked at her a bit, and piled his books together. "Want me to help you?" After all, he had a bottle of painkillers in his room.
<Jessica> She shook her head, "I'll manage... and you'll mess up my system. Go and take your nap."
<Shinobi> "Okay, if you insist. Math later." He shoved the books into the bag and stood, picking up his coffee, and fought a moment of dizziness. The headache was worse than he thought.
<Jessica> Jess frowned as he wavered and reached out a hand to his shoulder, "Are you sure you're okay?"
<Shinobi> "I'm fine." He frowned at the cup, then smiled faintly at Jess. "Nap it is, I guess."
<Jessica> Jess nodded, chewing her lip as he made his way to the door, "Be careful on the stairs... have a nice nap..."
<Shinobi> "Thanks," he said, giving her another smile before he took his coffee and belongings and went in search of drugs.
Read our instance transcripts here for hot character sessions!
1 post • Page 1 of 1