Timelined around the end of February
<Hope> Classes completed, homework accomplished, and snack devoured meant Hope was free to join David for their afternoon training. Hope had already ran and lifted her weights. Thinking she was done, she grabbed her water bottle and took a long drink, eyeing David as he wrapped his hands. "Oh no."
<David> Grinning at her, David tossed her the tape. "Wrap up."
<Hope> She caught it with a sigh. "Fine." Water bottle set aside, she wrapped her own hands. "I wish I had known this before I did weights."
<David> David clapped his hands together and took his position on the mat. "Oh just borrow some healing. It's good for you to train hard."
<Hope> "Says you," she muttered, tossing the tape onto the ground a safe distance away. "Aright. I'm ready." She got her hands up as she approached him.
<David> "Chin down, shoulders up." He moved in toward her, waiting for her to make the first move.
<Hope> "If we're going for realism, wouldn't you be grabbing me in some dark alley?" she asked as she made the first swing.
<David> Blocking easily, he used her momentum to push her away from him, punching her stomach at the same time. "You aren't ready for a surprise attack," he pointed out. "Block me with your elbows. Not your forearms. Hands up! Chin down! Protect your face."
<Hope> She coughed a bit at the punch, rounding on him for a kick. "Good to know."
<David> He caught her leg and sent her down to the mat, hard. "Move faster. You have no muscle, so you need to be precise and fast. Aim for a weak spot."
<Hope> She let out a hard breath as she fell, slowly pushing herself back up as she listened to him. Hope nodded and got back into position. This time, she circled him, taking her time. When the moment was right, she struck at his throat, landing her hit.
<David> "Good!" He told her, once his throat had healed quickly. "Always look for an opening. Look for a tell." He punched at her face this time.
<Hope> Hope was paying attention and blocked that one, side stepping at the same time. She took her own punch at him.
<David> Blocking her hit, he swung back, hard, knocking her off balance.
<Hope> Staggering, she quickly righted herself so she could face him for the next round of blows. These were much faster, and harder than before. She fell on her ass, which thankfully got him to back off.
<David> "Really, Stark? Really?" He crossed his arms across his chest. "Get up."
<Hope> Breathing heavily, she glared at him. "Just... give me a second."
<David> He knelt down to be in her face this time. "If someone is trying to take you or kill you, are they going to give you a second?" He waited for her answer, but the silence told him all he needed to know. "That's what I thought. Now get up off your ass," he told her, but did offer her a hand up this time.
<Hope> Back on her feet, Hope moved quickly as they sparred for some time. She was holding her own until she felt a rush of thoughts and emotions that could only be Shinobi reaching her ability range. Distracted, she failed to see David's fist as it collided with her face, sending her back to the mat.
<David> "You should have blocked that," he pointed out, watching her. "I should be kicking you while you're down too."
<Hope> Hope coughed a bit, wiping the blood from her nose onto her hand. "Yeah," She worked to get herself back to her feet.
<Shinobi> For Shinobi's part, when he reached Hope's range, he felt a surge of adrenaline and a half dozen other emotions he couldn't name. He jerked the wheel of the black BMW - the boring Shaw Industries company car his father had allotted to him - but kept it under control and finished the last blocks to the house.
<Shinobi> Whatever was going on, she didn't seem to be afraid, and so he could guess from the few other flashes he picked up that she was training with David. Parking the car, he grabbed his bag and headed inside.
<David> "Hands up," he wasted no time in his assault, easily blocking her own attempts to hit him. She managed to get a hold of him and knee him in the stomach a few times. He grabbed onto her and half pushed half tossed her onto the mat.
<Hope> Hope rolled once and lay there for a second. Maybe she could play dead.
<Shinobi> He felt that - an impact, some pain, shock. What the fuck were they doing? Shinobi picked up speed and ran up the stairs to the gym, dropping his bag at the door and skidding to a stop just inside the room, taking in the situation with Hope on the mat and David standing over her.
<Shinobi> "Everything okay?" He itched to tackle the bodyguard and wipe that smirk right off his face. At his side, his hand tightened into a fist.
<Hope> "Fine," Hope groaned out, trying to push herself off. She couldn't be a wuss in front of Shinobi! Back on her feet, she wiped her nose. Again.
<David> David looked from her over to Shinobi, unable to hide that smirk at the kid with his fist. Cute.
<Shinobi> "You're bleeding." His tone was halfway between accusing and concerned, and he stared at David, moving toward Hope to help her up.
<David> "She can heal," he reminded Shinobi, unable to resist the eye roll.
<Hope> Hope held onto Shinobi as she steadied herself. "Just training," she told him, wiping her nose again.
<Shinobi> He frowned and wiped his thumb under her nose, disturbed by the sight of her blood. You sure you're okay? I think you should use his powers if you haven't yet.
<Hope> Hope swallowed hard, her heart rate managing to pick up. She pressed her hand over his, taking it into her own. I just tapped in. I'm fine. This was why they tried to do this when Shinobi wasn't home.
<Shinobi> Nodding once, he leaned in and kissed her forehead, then her hand. Letting go, he backed off a little and gave David a once over.
<David> Giving Shinobi much the same look, David raised an eyebrow. "Problem, Shaw?"
<Shinobi> "We'll see." He flashed teeth at the old man and strolled over to the wall to lean against it, arms crossed.
<David> Eyeing Shinobi, David turned back to Hope. "You good, or you wussing out?"
<Hope> Hope looked between them carefully. She touched her nose again, checking her healing. "I'm good." She moved back to the mat, getting her arms up.
<Shinobi> His own nose twitched sideways, but otherwise Shinobi stood still, watching.
<David> He went for the punch first this time, grinning as she blocked it. "Good."
<Hope> Hope grinned and kept moving, trying not to look like an idiot with Shinobi there.
<Shinobi> It didn't look so bad, and he was relieved enough to take a lazy look around the room, his gaze lingering on his father's punching bags and Jess' practice swords.
<Hope> That was, until Hope went for another throat jab. This time, David caught her wrist and had her on the floor again in seconds.
<Shinobi> That brought his attention back and he tensed, feeling her shock and pain again. Fuck! Maybe he should shield from that somehow? He looked at his hand, rubbing his fingers over the blood stain with a wince.
<Hope> Back on her feet, Hope recovered from her embarrassment and got her hands back up. She needed to land something, damnit. She tried to be faster, feigning an attack and landing a good one to his jaw. Her victory was short lived. David took the opening to deck the side of her head. She stumbled back, falling on her ass again.
<Shinobi> He could see it when she hit the mat - the red mark on her cheekbone that would become a nasty bruise if she didn't heal it away. What was worse was he felt it, and his fingers twitched. It was practice, he reminded himself. Training. He'd done it himself, countless times.
<Shinobi> But this... felt different. He could see the blood, hear gunshots, and feel the kick of the rifle against his shoulder. Rolling that shoulder, he tried to calm his breathing.
<David> He noticed the mark too and stopped, stooping down to look at her. His hand touched her chin gently so he could inspect her face. She'd be fine, if a little sore. "Where's Drake when you need him," he joked.
<Hope> Hope laughed a little, wincing. That hurt. She touched her cheek gingerly. "Jeeze, David." Something felt off, but she wasn't sure what. She glanced over at Shinobi.
<Shinobi> Now he was close, too close, his hand on her face, and how easy would it be for him to grab her throat. He could snap her slim neck. Although, why would he? Shaking his head, he tried to dismiss the thought.
<Hope> Hope pushed herself off of her butt, and with David's help, got to her feet. "Please say we're done..." She wanted a hot bath and an ice pack.
<David> Nodding, he lifted the side of her shirt to check her side where he had gotten another good hit in. "Yeah... I think you're done for one day. If that doesn’t go down with my power, I need to know immediately."
<Shinobi> Her ribs were dark with bruising and he made a sound in the back of this throat. "The fuck did you do to her, you asshole?" Before he could think better of it, he pushed off the wall and headed straight to David.
<David> Not thinking he should be too concerned, David kept inspecting Hope's ribs. He'd have to toughen her up or pull his punches on her. She bruised so easily.
<Hope> Hope, on the other hand, jerked her head up at Shinobi's voice. "It's fine. I should have blocked."
<Shinobi> "Yeah, sure." He swore. "You're supposed to be teaching her, right? Not just beating the shit out of her." Shinobi took one look at David's hand on her side and shoved him away from her, stepping between them.
<David> Holding his ground, David looked up at Shinobi, glaring at him. "I am teaching her. You, of all people, know that there are others who want to kill her. Kill her for who she is and what she is. I'm hard on her so she can take it, God forbid they get through me. They'd have to get through her too."
<Hope> Hope rested her hand on Shinobi's back, tapping into that healing as she pressed against him. "Obi..."
<Shinobi> Of all people. He sneered. "Yeah, isn't that what you're supposed to be for? The whole reason she has two basically immortal bodyguards? Without powers, it doesn't matter how hard on her you are because there's only so much a human can do. And yeah, I would know."
<Shinobi> He took a step closer to the bodyguard to stare down at him. "Or maybe you just like hitting women. Easier."
<David> Cracking his knuckles David sneered at him. "I prefer hitting punk ass kids who don't know their place and get in my way. You want to be one of those?"
<Hope> Hope tugged at Shinobi. "Or both of you could calm the fuck down."
<Shinobi> He laughed at the knuckle crack, shaking his head.
<Hope> Hope slid her arms around Shinobi, pressing her face against his back.
<David> "That's what I thought." David went to start cleaning up. "I go easy on you because you don't heal.”
<Shinobi> "I don't need to," he said, but rested his hand on Hope's, still watching David.
<David> "Then let's go hot stuff. You think you have what it takes?"
<Shinobi> "Who said you were the only one going easy, old man?" He smirked.
<David> Glaring through his smirk, David moved back to the mat. "Stark you should go ice your face."
<Hope> Hope rolled her eyes, trying to pull Shinobi with her.
<Shinobi> He turned and looked at Hope, giving her a reassuring smile, and started to shrug out of his jacket. "I'll be fine. Heal up."
<Hope> "This is a bad idea," Hope pointed out. "I'm not getting ice until you come with me."
<Shinobi> "Why? Why was it a good idea for you and bad for me?" He turned to her and delicately touched her face.
<Hope> Because she'd have to feel it too? Because she was supposed to protect him? Because this was more of a grudge fight than training? There were so many reasons to choose from. She winced slightly at his touch, tapping back into David's healing. "Obi..." but he had a point. He had as much reason as her to train. She closed her eyes, annoyed.
<Shinobi> Leaning into her, he kissed her forehead and stayed, lips pressed against her skin. I want you to take care of yourself. Those ribs look bad. His hand settled on her hip, but he watched David.
<Hope> Yeah he may have hit too hard. It happens. And we stop. He's not abusing me, Obi. I said not to go easy on me. I meant it. But I don't want to see you get your ass kicked too.
<David> David sighed. "Are you two love birds done? Are we training or making out?"
<Shinobi> Who says I will? He moved back and gave her a crooked smile, knowing that was likely bullshit. Or, at the worst, we'll be a little bruised together until you heal up.
<Hope> You're an idiot, she told him, matching his smile and stealing a kiss. But I love you.
<Shinobi> Love you, too. He gave her another for good measure and finished taking off his jacket, tossing it to the side and unbuttoning his shirt.
<Hope> Oh like hell was she leaving now. Hope took a seat on the weight bench, smirking as she watched him strip. Now if only he didn't get his ass handed to him, this wouldn't be so bad.
<David> "About time." He tossed Shinobi the hand tape.
<Shinobi> "Yeah, yeah." He caught the tape and gave Hope his shirt, picking up the jacket to hang it beside her as well.
<Hope> Hope couldn't help herself. She smelled the shirt and smiled. She set it down on the bench behind her. "Kick his ass," she told Shinobi with a grin.
<Shinobi> "That's the plan." He smirked at her, kicking off his shoes while he wrapped his hands. Like hell was he wearing those on the slick mats. Once ready, he joined the agent and cocked a brow.
<David> "You want no punches pulled. That means no running to mommy and telling her I beat you up." David got his hands up.
<Shinobi> He rolled his eyes and got into position, keeping his distance.
<David> David started moving, circling Shinobi and looking for his weaknesses.
<Shinobi> Shinobi was doing much the same. He knew the agent had the advantage of experience, but he at least had a greater reach, and he was getting back the speed and endurance he'd lost in prison. It might be enough.
<David> David also had the advantage of being his teacher. He knew how Shinobi fought. He moved in closer, eliminating the advantage of reach.
<Shinobi> Yeah, whatever. Shinobi backed off, pretending he was distracted by the agent's move, but he was getting impatient. Finally, he saw a moment and took it, striking out to test the old man's defenses.
<David> David actually grinned as Shinobi landed his hit on him. "Good." He quickly repositioned himself, moving back in close.
<Hope> Hope shifted uncomfortably, picking up Shinobi's coat and slipping it on. Oh that smelled like him too. She snuggled down into it.
<Shinobi> Shinobi ignored the praise and kept his distance. After a feint and a pretended slip he closed again, this time aiming for the shorter man's head.
<David> David was waiting for that. He caught the arm and moved to bend it behind Shinobi's back.
<Shinobi> Spinning with the move, he used his greater weight and momentum to twist free. He bounced back into position, planning his next move. Damn old man.
<David> Letting him go, David kept close to him. He'd be damned if that little Japanese shit got the advantage of those giraffe legs on him. He toyed with Shinobi, aiming one fist high and the other low quickly.
<Shinobi> He grunted at the hit to his ribs, twisting away and striking out immediately to keep David at bay.
<David> The hit landed with a slight grunt of David's own. Shinobi was getting better. He grinned. "Keep it up." He circled around Shinobi again, watching him closely. He struck with his fists, in a one-two motion, then brought his knee up to Shinobi's stomach.
<Shinobi> Although he'd managed to partially block, he was winded thanks to the punch to the ribs and the knee to the gut. Who'd have thought he could get his leg that high? "No problem," he bit out with a grin.
<Shinobi> He went back on the attack, aiming for the agent's head.
<David> Laughing just a little, David was quick to dodge that hit, grabbing the arm and bringing it down behind Shinobi as his leg went to trip the younger man.
<Hope> Hope winced at all this. This freaking hurt as bad as her own beating! Her hands shoved into Shinobi's pockets, making a face. What was that? She pulled out a beautifully wrapped soft peppermint. She smiled slowly, glancing back over at him to watch.
<Shinobi> Shinobi twisted, and since he was about to lose his own balance decided to take the old man with him with a vicious headbutt.
<Hope> What the heck just happened there? Hope sat up a bit as the men went to the mat. She popped that peppermint into her mouth.
<David> He went down, but he went down swinging to Shinobi's stomach.
<Shinobi> This time the punch had little effect and he rolled to stay on top of the agent, delivering his own hit to his kidneys while he could.
<David> He was having none of that! He quickly moved his leg over Shinobi, putting him in a scissor lock.
<Shinobi> The angle was painful, and he hissed, bringing his own leg up to force the agent's knee out and away and giving him enough room to escape.
<David> He sprung back to his feet, moving before Shinobi could escape. His fists flew before he was even well balanced himself.
<Shinobi> His cheekbone exploded with pain and he lost his footing, coming down hard on his ass and swearing. Fucking hell!
<David> Backing off finally, David looked him over carefully.
<Hope> Fuck that hurt! Hope got to her feet, going to check on Shinobi before she even realized she was doing it.
<Shinobi> He tasted blood and raised a hand to his nose, hoping it wasn't broken, and dragged himself up. Catching movement that wasn't David, he looked at Hope, surprised.
<Hope> Are you alright?! She shot David a glare, touching Shinobi's shoulder so his blood wouldn't get on her or his jacket.
<David> He raised an eyebrow at Hope. "He said not to go easy on him."
<Shinobi> "I'm fine." He sniffed, regretted it, and debated spitting, preferably on the agent.
<Hope> "That doesn't mean you should," Hope muttered, pushing at Shinobi to get him moving to the bathroom. Of course he was 'fine.' Like he'd admit otherwise. She knew what it felt like, and it was fucking painful.
<Shinobi> "Hey, we're not done," he protested, wiping his nose again and evading Hope's grasp.
<David> David nearly smirked, but one look from Hope stopped him. "Rematch when you heal up," he promised.
<Shinobi> He watched David warily for a moment, then nodded. It did hurt, so he decided to quit while he was ahead. Or, at least at a partial draw – he'd gotten in his own hits on the healing old bastard.
<Hope> Hope prodded him again to get him to move before the blood got on Jess' floor. She was so getting away with bringing a maid in.
<Shinobi> "You feeling better?" He went with Hope willingly this time, unraveling the tape around his hands and using that to pinch his nose shut, which hurt.
<Hope> She cringed at the pain that caused. "Stop worrying about me. I'm fine. You're the one with a possibly broken nose. Most likely broken nose."
<Shinobi> "I don't think it's broken." He let her precede him into the bathroom, since he was in no rush to see the damage that little fuck had inflicted.
<Hope> She shrugged out of his jacket and laid it down outside the bathroom, flicking the light on inside once she got through the door. Hope immediately started looking for washcloths.
<Shinobi> While she was distracted, he disposed of the wraps and then looked in the mirror. "Motherfucker."
<Hope> She winced a this words and handed him a dry cloth, taking a second one and putting it under the running water. "What was that about?"
<Shinobi> "What was what about?" He thanked her for the cloth but wasn't entirely sure where to start. Also, he was fairly certain he'd bitten a chunk from the inside of his cheek. Practicality won out and he tapped her aside and spit in the sink.
<Hope> Rubbing his back, Hope sighed and watched him. "That with David. I'll get you some salt water." She pushed off the counter and headed for the kitchen.
<Shinobi> He was saved from answering by her departure, and straightened to look into the mirror. Prodding around his nose and cheek, he winced, then started working on cleaning up the worst of the blood and the small split in the skin over his cheekbone.
<Hope> She didn't take long, pausing in the bathroom doorway when she returned. "What was that?!"
<Shinobi> Unfortunately, with the water running as he tried to wash away the evidence, he didn't hear her return and she caught him spitting again. Fuck. After a moment, he straightened up to look at her in the mirror. "What? If he can knock you around, he can do it to me too."
<Hope> "Except five minutes later and I have no marks on me." She moved to him, moving to touch his cheek, but stopped her hand mid-air. "Obi..."
<Shinobi> "Doesn't matter." He caught her hand and brought it to his other cheek. "I'll be fine, too." The fact was, he knew he'd done fairly well against the agent, considering he was still getting back into condition himself.
<Hope> Her thumb stroked his cheek softly, pressing herself closer to him, her other hand on his chest. "Will you?"
<Shinobi> "Yeah, of course... why wouldn't I be?" His hand slid around her waist and came to rest on her hip. Meeting her eyes for a moment, he pressed his lips together and looked away. "I just... I didn't like seeing him hurt you."
<Hope> "I wasn't particularly fond of that part either, but that.... with you..." was worse. She pressed her forehead to his chest.
<Shinobi> He frowned, a little surprised. "I'm okay. He didn't get me nearly as badly as you." Although, as he said it, he felt his nose still dripping and had to step back to grab the washcloth.
<Hope> "My nose didn't break," she grumbled at him. "The worst I got was a little blood and some bruises."
<Shinobi> "He broke your ribs." He pointed out, wishing the bleeding would just stop.
<Hope> She paused, watching him for a long moment. "I know..." she said softly after a bit. The peppermint in her mouth, dissolved after she crushed it with her teeth. She let out a harsh sigh, pressing her hands over her face. "It was worse watching. It was worse."
<Shinobi> Dropping the cloth, he moved to hold her, pulling her against his chest. "Yeah, it was, that's what... set me off." He sighed and rested his chin on top of her head, looking at their reflection. "And I felt it, through that link."
<Hope> "Yeah. Yeah that's how I know it was just as bad as the beating I got." She wrapped her arms, pulling him securely against her, snuggling into his chest.
<Shinobi> He winced, but was quickly distracted. "Wait, you felt it too? You didn't... shield? Or something? Block the link?" Shit.
<Hope> "I didn't think about doing that... and besides, you felt mine!" She pointed out. "I'm a really, really terrible telepath."
<Shinobi> "You just don't know how to control it yet," he reasoned. "I guess we should work on that?"
<Hope> "Yeah... yeah I really should work with it more," she admitted, sliding her fingertips over his bare skin.
<Shinobi> He closed his eyes at the contact. "Yeah..."
<Hope> "I love you," she told him softly, stroking his skin with her fingertips.
<Shinobi> "I love you too," he said, chuckling a little and bowing his head to kiss her forehead. Finding the edge of her shirt, he brushed his fingers over the bare skin of her side, hoping she really was healed. The memory of the ugly bruises on her skin was hard to shake.
<Hope> She bit her lip as she smiled, shivers running through her body from his touch. She looked up at him finally, suddenly reminded of his nose. "Are you sure you're alright?"
<Shinobi> "It's not broken. I've... broken it before," he admitted, clearing his throat uncomfortably, since it was one of the X-Men who'd done it.
<Hope> "We could drive out to the school... get it healed," she offered.
<Shinobi> "It would save some trouble." He smiled a little and brushed his fingers over her side again. "Getting out of here sounds good anyway."
<Hope> She leaned up to kiss his cheek, lingering just a little. "We just need to get in range really. I can do the rest. If you don't want to actually go in, that is."
<Shinobi> "Eh, we could decide when we get close? Got a reason to go in?" The kiss made his smile grow and he turned his head enough to catch her lips for a quick return kiss.
<Hope> After returning his kiss, she borrowed another cloth to clean her nose off. "Not any reason in particular. We'll have to hide his mess from Jess. She will likely freak out and stuff." Not that Sebastian would be much better, but he didn't flip shit as easily... right? Maybe?
<Shinobi> "Yeah, you're right. She freaked out when I had a headache the other day." He shrugged and picked up the cloth, finding a clean corner to wipe a red smudge from her cheek then looking into the mirror. His nose was still bleeding.
<Hope> "Thanks... She was concerned over a headache? Remind me not to tell her about menstrual cramps then." She handed him another washcloth. "I'll grab my keys."
<Shinobi> That wasn't something he wanted to hear about either, and he made a face at his reflection, taking the cloth.
<Hope> She caught that face, laughing at him. "Come on! You know it happens!" She laughed more, going in search of her keys.
<Shinobi> "I know," he laughed. "And I hope you continue to have them, if you catch my meaning."
<Hope> "That makes two of us!" She called back to him. Definitely, definitely made two of them.
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