Timelined directly after Friends and Enemies
<Shaw> The Lord Imperial was the highest authority in the Hellfire Club, meaning there really was no one capable of initiating a Lord Imperial. As the Club was an organization made up of the most power-hungry and narcissistic elite on the planet, it was therefore rather fitting that the Lord Imperial initiate himself.
<Shaw> Sebastian did plan to build an improved Hellfire Club, but a good start was always well-rooted, so tradition could stand for a tad longer. The incense was as cloying as ever, and the droning of the Lords Cardinal in Latin as monotonous, but this was the dawning of a new age.
<Hope> Hope played her part well, for her. She stayed in her assigned position, recited the words she was meant to, but otherwise, just stood still. The first thing she was going to do would be to alter her new robe to have silk lining. She caught herself fidgeting ever so slightly and stopped abruptly.
<Jessica> Jess' nose was in a permanent state of wrinkled beneath her mask. The incense was awful. But, she supposed, this was a necessary evil to appease the old blood before they pulled the rug out from under them.
<Shinobi> Dressed in a robe and mask that were not his own, Shinobi felt Hope's restlessness and smirked. This sucks. I'm not so sure anymore why everyone has such a hard-on for this club.
<Hope> Well this part is boring as fuck. she pointed out. I like the other part. Cute guys... scotch. So basically I can just stay home with you now. She resisted the urge to smirk herself.
<Shinobi> Then next time let's just do that. He'd been taught all the proper calls and responses, in Latin, but he was mostly half-heartedly mumbling along.
<Shaw> The chanting ended and he waited for the final echoes to recede, brushing Jessica's mind in their link. It was time to end this, and usher in their new era. He held out his hand to her, urging her to join him on the dais.
<Hope> That caught Hope's attention. Maybe we will. But things might just get interesting now. She pulled herself back to attention, watching not Jess, but the rest of the membership.
<Jessica> Jess stepped out of the crowd, her walk confident as ever, and she took his hand as she stepped up beside him.
<Shinobi> It was mostly impossible to tell who was who in the dark and with the robes and hideous leader gargoyle masks, but he followed Hope's example, searching out the white robes of the old man primarily. He should have been easier to spot, in theory.
<Shaw> Sebastian reached up with his free hand, removing the mask and throwing back the deep velvet hood. He kissed Jessica's knuckles and then raised their joined hands. "As I am your Lord, so you too shall have a Lady."
<Hope> There was no memorized Latin verse for that. She kept herself from smirking again. Next time, he should make up some Latin phrase for Hail Lady or some shit.
<Jessica> There were some rumbles in the crowd but Jess kept her features smoothed in an impassive mask. She was not going to look as nervous as she felt and she was going to ignore her stupid new power.
<Shaw> "Alligata est legi - bound by the law – it is part and parcel of these rites, yet we are the Hellfire Club. Fay ce que voudras." Sebastian bared his teeth. "We do as we please, and this pleases me. Ego legem."
<Jessica> They have no idea what to make of this... Jess' eyes flicked to Sebastian.
<Shaw> Good. He kept his eyes on the crowd, waiting for a challenge.
<Shinobi> Okay, my Latin isn't great, but did he say what I think he said? He abandoned his search to stare at his father, adjusting the mask when it slipped.
<Hope> I'm pretty sure he just said fuck you in Latin... Hope had to look down, she couldn't hide the smirk. He's got some balls and the power to back it up now.
<Jessica> Jess gave Sebastian's hand a small squeeze, Well I hope someone does something soon, all this tension is making me dizzy.
<Shaw> "Constat." The voice came from near the back of the room, the Latin word sounding oddly accented and Sebastian recognized the voice as Tanaka's. Better? He returned the squeeze, hearing the affirmation echo in other voices. Most, he recognized, and not all repeated the refrain.
<Shinobi> I'm assuming there's no such thing as a majority vote. He let out a breath he hadn't been aware he'd held, and rested his hand on Hope's back.
<Hope> Hope steadied at Shinobi's touch, waiting until the end to give her own affirmation. Her own was a given anyway, but now wasn't the time to make waves.
<Jessica> Somewhat... It was still tense and she found in the crowd a void to focus on, glad that her suspicions were confirmed. Much better now.
<Shaw> It's fine, koibito, he assured, launching into the closing formulary and listening for that irritating gong.
<Shinobi> Since he wasn't a member, he wasn't entirely sure if his support was necessary, or wanted. Since everything seemed to be coming to a close, he took the opportunity to look around again, rubbing Hope's back to feel the velvet under his fingers.
<Jessica> I'm okay... just my powers... but I fixed it. She gave his hand another squeeze as she couldn't give him a smile right in the middle of serious time.
<Hope> Though she wouldn't admit it out loud, she let Shinobi know through their link that she was glad he was there. He kept her nerves at bay with his hand at her back.
<Shinobi> The warm surge of emotion made him smile, turning his head to see if he could even find her eyes through the mask.
<Shaw> You fixed it? Though curious, he had larger concerns, but he brushed his thumb over hers in reassurance nonetheless. We should be finished, he sent at the final sounding of the gong.
<Jessica> Excellent, let's get off this thing and vanish for a bit.
<Hope> The gong allowed Hope to look up at Shinobi finally. These masks were so stupid. She slid hers up to reveal her face.
<Shinobi> He couldn't get the mask off fast enough, dropping the hood as well and scratching the top of his head. The itching had made him wonder about the original owner of the robe.
<Shaw> Sebastian was in complete agreement with his lady, and stepped down from the dais to lead them further into the shadows behind it.
<Jessica> As soon as they were out of sight for a moment, she pulled him to her and kissed him. Proud of you.
<Shaw> Thank you, koibito. Sebastian tilted his head to deepen the kiss and wrapped his arm around her, pressing her body to his to feel her through the thick robes. I'm proud of you, and I cannot do this without you.
<Jessica> You'll never have to. She slid her arms around him underneath his robes and let her thoughts of what she'd rather be doing right now bleed over their link. It definitely didn't involve spending the next few hours surrounded by ridiculous people in robes.
<Hope> Hope laughed at his flailing. "Ready to get a drink?" She held out her hand to him as a man bumped into her shoulder. His words were soft, swift, and barely audible. "Beware the ides of March." By the time Hope turned to see who had said it, she only saw a sea of tacky velvet robes, each the same as the one beside it.
<Shinobi> "Yeah, more than ready. I think I got fleas." He tried to order his hair again, then sensed a shift in her mood and looked back at her questioningly.
<Shaw> Growling into the kiss at the images she shared, Sebastian walked her backward, deeper into the alcove behind the dais. Don't tease, love. He was already high on adrenaline, and now she was fueling his fire.
<Jessica> Not teasing. I fully intend to follow through... later. Though she drew him closer as she grinned against his lips.
<Hope> "Someone just bumped into me... and quoted Shakespeare? What is this, amateur night? Doth mother know you weareth her drapes?!" Hope asked, snickering, but took Shinobi's arm rather than his hand.
<Shinobi> "Shakespeare? What did they say?" He moved to accommodate her and touched her hand on his arm, pausing to look at the crowd again. "They're all dramatic so I'm not surprised."
<Shaw> Not later. Now. He fisted his hand in the hair at the nape of her neck and pressed her to the wall.
<Hope> "Beware the ides of March." Hope settled in with his pace.
<Jessica> She laughed softly, Whatever would you do if I said no? She hooked a leg around him, like she would ever do that.
<Shaw> I know you, koibito. With a groan, he bent to kiss her throat.
<Shinobi> "Beware the ides of March," he repeated it, consideringly. "Right, because his ego needs more stroking." Some of the people around them were still wearing their masks and suddenly it bothered him on some level. He shied from the nearest when the fixed leather face turned toward him.
<Hope> "Whose ego?" Hope asked, pausing at his odd behavior.
<Jessica> She tilted her head back to expose her neck to him and slid her hands up under his shirt as well. It's a good thing we have these robes on...
<Shaw> There are deeper tunnels. Robes were entirely unnecessary there, after all, and he gently nipped her pulse point to drive the point home.
<Shinobi> "My father's," he said, giving her a confused blink. "Sorry, the masks..." Shaking his head, he tried to share his unease. Hard to explain. Either way, he was over it, so he sped up to pull her along up the carved passageway.
<Jessica> Why move? We're almost entirely alone down here anyway... No one'll miss us for a little while. And the older tunnels were creepy.
<Hope> "Obi if you need a minute, we can take a minute," she assured him while his words bounced around in her mind. "Wait, how would that boost his ego?" Her feet stopped moving. Everything stopped moving. It was a warning.
<Shaw> Or a longer while... smirking, he found the opening of her robe and slipped his hand inside.
<Shinobi> Hope stopped moving, and he felt her mind shift. Turning back to her, he frowned. "Yeah, Caesar. Exactly."
<Hope> "It's a warning," she echoed her own thoughts aloud, looking up to Shinobi's eyes.
<Shinobi> "Well..." he hedged, looking around for a moment, then back to Hope. "It could be, yeah, or just... somebody being dramatic, because..." Shinobi waved a hand to indicate the drama all around them.
<Hope> "It was a warning to Caesar. It's a warning to Sebastian given to the person closest to him outside of his wife. It's a warning."
<Shinobi> "Wait..." He pressed his finger to his lips and led her the rest of the way up the tunnel, taking the first hallway he saw into a side chamber. The giant gold-plated statue of Anubis gave him pause.
<Shinobi> "Anyway," he said, shaking it off. "It was said to you? Or you just overheard it?"
<Hope> "I...." she stammered a bit. "Somebody definitely ran into me. And they said that. Then they were gone." She could feel her hands shaky, sweat starting to form.
<Shinobi> She was really upset, and he took her hands to try to steady them. "Hey, look at me." He smiled a little. "It's okay. Just think... was it a man? A woman?"
<Hope> It took her several moments before she managed to look up at his eyes. "I don't... a man. It was a man. The voice was deep. Soft, quiet, but deep."
<Shinobi> "Okay." He crouched a little to bring them face to face. "Any accent? I'm guessing it was in English."
<Hope> Hope tightened her hold on his hands, trying to stop the shaking. "I don't know... I don't know! I didn't know I needed to remember it! He's going to die! He's going to die! They are going to betray him and kill him."
<Jessica> And suddenly Jess felt a panic that was not her own. She tried to ignore it but she felt her heartrate quicken for reasons entirely other than what she was doing.
<Shinobi> "Hey, no... just... it's okay." He pulled her to him and enclosed her in a tight hug. Was she overreacting? Maybe they should find Sebastian.
<Shaw> Sensing Jessica's distraction, Sebastian was not best pleased. What's wrong?
<Jessica> Nothing, Jess assured him, trying to ignore the rising anxiety, At least... not with me...
<Hope> She latched onto Shinobi, holding him tightly as she shook. She'd been too close to Sebastian for too long. "I'm the angel of death... it just follows me."
<Shinobi> "Hope," he stroked her hair soothingly. "Don't talk like that. You're not."
<Hope> Hope shook her head, trying to steady her breathing, but it was a futile attempt. "You don't understand."
<Jessica> Jess' hold on Sebastian tightened as her echoed anxiety levels climbed.
<Shaw> Sensing this was a lost cause, Sebastian halted and rested his forehead against hers. What is it, koibito?
<Jessica> I don't know... She closed her eyes and tried to focus on locating the source of her distress.
<Shinobi> "Hey. Yeah, I do." He drew in a deep breath and tried again. "Breathe with me, and just... let's calm down. Panicking won't help anything."
<Hope> Hope made it to two breaths before she started sobbing against Shinobi's shoulder. "You'll be next."
<Shinobi> "Shhh, no I won't. Nobody is hurt, Hope. Everything is fine." He wasn't sure what else to do but hold her now, staring up at the statue of Anubis. There was certainly no help there.
<Jessica> And she was crying now. What the hell? "Shut off the link... I don't want this getting you too..." she tried to pull herself together.
<Shaw> "Love, I'm not severing the link." He tried to straighten up her robe, pulling her close to comfort her although he would be lying if he said he wasn't already affected. For several reasons.
<Hope> "Not yet! It's a matter of time! In case you haven't noticed, we're actually IN March. It could be any day now! Anywhere! They could be killing him now for all I know. It's just a matter of time." She pressed her face against him, shaking.
<Shinobi> "Or, you just overheard somebody being a pompous jackass and thinking quoting Shakespeare made them look clever." He was fairly familiar with that type, after all, having worked for and with several.
<Jessica> Jess forced herself to stop shaking, "If we get caught in a feedback loop you better cut it off." She felt out again to find the source and withdrew from him to head toward it.
<Shaw> Sighing, he adjusted his robe and moved to follow his wife.
<Hope> "These people are intentional. The bump was intentional. Nobody runs into me! Are you kidding me!?" She tried to push her red hair back from her face, but it kept sticking because of the tears.
<Shinobi> "Okay, maybe. But stop and think... you can just ask him if he's okay." He freed a hand to help her with her hair, tapping at her temple with one finger and trying to catch her eyes. She looked a wreck.
<Hope> "I can't... I can't!" She didn't know where he had disappeared to, and she certainly wasn't calm enough to reach out to anyone's mind. She looked up at Shinobi's dark eyes finally, trying to focus there. Nope. She sobbed again, hiding her face against his chest.
<Jessica> Jess steadied herself against a wall when the feeling intensified again then sped up.
<Shinobi> Her panic was starting to bleed over a little, but he fought it, crouching a little to grab her by both arms. "Hey - look at me!"
<Hope> She startled at his touch and tone, but looked up at him again.
<Shinobi> "This? Isn't helping, is it?" He willed her to keep her attention on him.
<Hope> Swallowing, she closed her eyes briefly, opening them again with a shake of her head.
<Shinobi> "Right. So, breathe." Shinobi demonstrated with a slow in and out and nodded. "If there's really a problem, we need to be calm, and then go check it out. Okay?"
<Jessica> Jess felt the startle too and reached for Sebastian's hand. They were getting closer, she knew that, and she could hear voices now, the echoes of the tunnels not making them so confusing this close to the exit.
<Hope> "Breathe," she repeated, trying to match his breathing pace. First calm down. Then investigate.
<Jessica> Finally she found the source, coming to a stop, "Hope...?"
<Shinobi> Startled by the new voice, Shinobi looked up over her shoulder and saw Jessica and his father... alive and well.
<Shaw> Hope was crying. "What in hell is going on here?"
<Hope> She didn't have to turn, knowing those voices. But she did. Hope turned enough to see them, causing a fresh new wave of anxiety to wash over her. "Someone's going to betray you!" she blurted out.
<Shaw> "Pardon?" He blinked, looking to Jessica and even Shinobi for more information than this.
<Jessica> Jess was no help, having to steady herself against the doorframe. "Hope... please calm down..."
<Shinobi> "She overheard somebody say something and she took it as a threat," he explained, giving Jess a concerned look as well. Trying to keep Hope calm was impossible. He knew this the hard way.
<Hope> "It was a threat, damnit! Nobody runs into me and says shit like that without meaning it!" She ran her hand through her hair, still shaking and frustrated.
<Shaw> Sebastian searched for a chair for Jessica, and locating one, slammed it down and helped her to it. "And what was this threat? The Hellfire Club is made of threats, little Stark."
<Jessica> The slam of the chair startled Jess, especially with her hearing, but she sat down and gripped the seat as she tried to shut out Hope's emotions and find her own in all the mess.
<Hope> Startled by the chair herself, Hope backed up, but couldn't go anywhere. Shinobi was there. The thought of the floor swallowing her up was very tempting. Could she get away with that? She certainly didn't want to tell him what was said now!
<Shinobi> He was feeling a little jumpy now himself, and caught Hope by the shoulders when she backed into him. "Aren't you going to tell him?"
<Shaw> Crossing his arms, he raised an eyebrow and stared Hope down, expectant and feeling more irritated than was likely warranted.
<Hope> She swallowed, shaking her head quickly no. No she did not want to tell him. "I already told you. Someone is going to betray you."
<Shinobi> Shinobi stared down at the top of her head, confused.
<Shaw> "Of course someone is going to betray me, love. That's expected in this position." Realizing his robe was still askew, he started to straighten it and then swore, ripping it off altogether.
<Jessica> Jess took a few deep breaths, searching out the blank space she'd felt earlier to get a hold on her own emotions. "Okay... yelling is not going to help in this situation."
<Hope> Hope tried to back up more. Damnit, Shinobi! "Okay then."
<Shaw> He gave Jessica a look, then turned his attention back to the children. "What, exactly, did he or she say?"
<Shinobi> "It was a man," he said, sliding an arm protectively around Hope's chest and pulling her back against him.
<Hope> She sighed. There was no getting out of this. She felt some relief with Shinobi's arm around her and his body against her back. She could do this. She knew what she was doing after all. She knew war tactics. "He ran into me on purpose and used a line from Shakespeare. Beware the ides of March."
<Shaw> Sebastian looked over at Jessica, then to the heavens for guidance. There was none forthcoming, so he stared at Anubis. "Beware the ides of March," he repeated flatly.
<Jessica> Jess had a hold of her own emotions now so she worked on using her empathy to calm things down a little bit, fixating on the blankness to stabilise herself.
<Shinobi> He shifted his weight uncomfortably, resting his chin on top of Hope's head. "It is kind of suspicious," he attempted.
<Shaw> "Well, it is a classic," he scoffed, tossing his robe across the back of Jessica's chair. Christ.
<Hope> Oh just kind of? Really? Really?! Hope took a deep breath. "And appropriate."
<Jessica> Jess was only half listening, still sending out calming vibes and following the blank space.
<Shinobi> He could sense Hope's shift in emotion and winced. "But why would they target Hope for making a threat against you? Why not make it directly? Or to Jess, or even me?"
<Shaw> "If it was a threat." He shook his head, surveying Hope from ruffled head to toe.
<Jessica> "It could have been a bluff maybe? Just designed to shake you up?" Jess offered, now that she was feeling better.
<Hope> "Or it could be exactly as I said," Hope pointed out.
<Shaw> "Well, to shake one of us up."
<Jessica> "It's too ambiguous to be taken that seriously..." she frowned, glancing at Sebastian.
<Shaw> "Precisely, especially when delivered here, of all places." He shook his head, reaching into his jacket pocket for his phone.
<Hope> "Which is exactly why they would," Hope was just annoyed with these people now.
<Jessica> "Or they just wanted to ruin Sebastian's big announcement for us."
<Shinobi> "Well, the announcement was already over, so I'm not sure how that would work." He rubbed Hope's arm lightly.
<Jessica> Jess raised an eyebrow at Shinobi briefly then leaned back in her seat, "We should be happy right now. Instead, we're holed up a room and Hope's freaking out."
<Shaw> "Little Stark, while I appreciate your concern, I do believe you're overreacting." He looked up from his phone and gave her a half smile.
<Hope> "And when you end up dead?" she questioned, looking up at him.
<Jessica> "Hope... no one's going to assassinate him at the club in front of everyone. Can we worry about this tomorrow?"
<Shaw> He sighed and stepped closer to her. "Jessica's right. We must always be cautious, yes, but we can look into it later. We should rejoin the reception."
<Hope> She held her ground this time, knowing she couldn't retreat. "Enjoy your reception."
<Shaw> "Hope," he said, tone softening. "Just take a moment to pull yourself together and come."
<Hope> "I intend to." She had people to scope out after all.
<Shaw> He moved in just enough to catch her eyes, searching her face, then nodded. "Well then, be discrete."
<Jessica> "I'm going to stop doing the empathy thing now... please don't make it backfire on me..." Jess got to her feet, reining her powers back in now that she had her control back.
<Hope> "Always," Hope smirked a bit. Like she needed to be told to be discrete.
<Shaw> Sebastian's eyebrow quirked and he raised his gaze to meet his faux son's eyes for just a moment. After a brief nod, he turned and returned to Jessica, retrieving his robe and offering her his arm.
<Shinobi> "We'll be there in a few minutes," he said after contemplating that strange exchange.
<Jessica> Jess took Sebastian's arm, glancing at the other two one last time, "See you soon."
<Hope> "Yeah, see you soon." Hope watched them, relaxing somewhat as they left.
<Shinobi> His grip tightened to turn her around to face him. "Okay, we can look around. See if you can figure out who it was. That's the plan, right?"
<Hope> Hope looked up at Shinobi for a moment. Her hands slowly moved to the back of his head, gently pulling him down so that she could press her forehead against his. Yes. Yes that's the plan.
<Shinobi> Okay. I'm with you then. He met her eyes with a slight smile and pulled her back in for a hug. It was fine, he wanted to get a better look at the Oyamas anyway.
<Hope> She nestled into him, collecting herself as she breathed him in. She smirked slightly to herself. He had a hint of peppermint on him. Thank you. For everything.
<Shinobi> Of course. He gave her a squeeze. You've done it for me, and we're in this together, right?
<Hope> Always, She told him, leaning up to kiss him softly.
Read our instance transcripts here for hot character sessions!
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