Timelined the day after the London Hellfire Club instances
<Shaw> The company car pulled up outside their Boston residence and Sebastian leaned to give the clock tower a look. Both Yukio and Sum's people reported everything was secure. Widget had confirmed this as well. "Well. Home sweet home, yes?"
<Jessica> Jess offered him a smile and reached to take his hand, "I can't wait to sleep in our bed again."
<Shaw> "Agreed. You need to sleep, full stop." He smirked at her and lifted her hand to his lips, lingering for a moment.
<Shinobi> Across the back seat of the limo, Shinobi's nose wrinkled and he looked away to watch Hope's profile. You too. Sleep is a good thing.
<Hope> Hope's face was priceless as she turned to look out the window, away from their gross display. She had shit to get together, a trip to plan, and a life to save. She started at his voice, nearly shoving him from her mind. I sleep.
<Jessica> "Should be easier now," she shifted to lean against him, "In theory..."
<Shaw> "The house is secure." He turned his head and kissed her through her hair. "We can go in, and relax."
<Shinobi> He frowned a little at her chilly response. Not enough.
<Jessica> She nodded, "Let's do that. I'm sure I'll feel a lot better with a cup of tea in my hands."
<Shaw> Sebastian opened the door himself, offering her his hand. This time, he was more than willing to let the driver handle their bags.
<Hope> Hope sighed, softening. I'm sorry. I'm stressing out about all this. She got the car door, wanting out and away from that display.
<Jessica> Jess took the hand and unfolded herself from the car, running a hand through her hair before she stretched.
<Shinobi> He didn't have the opportunity to open the door for Hope, but he followed her out of the car quickly enough, heading for the trunk. The driver was slow to open it so he thumped a hand on the metal to get his attention.
<Hope> It got Hope's attention too. She moved to the back of the car, sliding her hand to his arm. I'm sorry, she repeated.
<Shinobi> It's fine... just... wearing off on me, I guess. He took her hand and waited more patiently for the trunk to open with a soft beep.
<Shaw> Sebastian's enjoyment of his wife's stretch was interrupted by the noise and he raised his brow at Hope and Shinobi loitering at the back of the car. He quickly dismissed it. Taking Jessica's hand, he started for the door.
<Hope> She flashed him a soft smile, lacing her fingers with his. Then we need something better to focus on.
<Jessica> Jess went with him, giving his hand a gentle squeeze, "Let's order take-out for dinner."
<Shaw> "You'll have no arguments from me," he laughed, stopping at the door and placing his hand on the biometric lock. Widget opened the door immediately and greeted them with an excited-sounding whistle.
<Jessica> "Widget!" Jess smiled and hugged the robot, "I missed you."
<Shinobi> Maybe they won't notice if we hid in the basement for a few days? He was only half joking, and picked up one of her bags from the trunk.
<Hope> Sold! She smiled at him, actually laughing. And binge watch something on Netflix.
<Shaw> Sebastian refrained from robot hugging, but he smiled indulgently at Jessica, pleased to see her excited about something.
<Jessica> "Come and help me make tea and coffee and maybe we can bake a cake?" She suggested to the robot, going on inside and smiling at the burbles.
<Shaw> "Does this mean I may choose the takeout?" he teased, glancing over his shoulder to check on the children.
<Shinobi> "Sounds good," he said with a quiet laugh and slung the strap of another bag over his shoulder. Maybe, now that they were home, things would just settle themselves.
<Hope> Hope paused everything, glancing at the house. Did you just hear that? She's talking about baking a fucking cake!? "Who does that?!"
<Jessica> Jess heard the outburst but assumed it was something to do with something outside that she couldn't see. She continued up the stairs with Widget.
<Shinobi> He nearly dropped the bag. "What?" Baking a cake? "Jess? Um... she does? All the time?"
<Hope> Hope crossing one arm across her chest, the other resting against it and holding her head up. You'd think these people had never faced danger before. They acted like nothing at all was wrong, like nothing was happening.
<Shaw> Catching a few words of that, Sebastian turned back to look at them. "Is there a problem?"
<Hope> "Oh no, everything is just peachy keen!" Hope rubbed her forehead.
<Shaw> He leaned on the doorway and crossed his arms, staring her down.
<Hope> Hope shot him a glare.
<Shinobi> "Hey, come on. Let's just go in." He retrieved her hand and started for the doorway.
<Hope> Captured, Hope followed him, trying to calm herself back down.
<Shaw> Sebastian stepped inside, holding the door for them. His eyes were still on Hope.
<Shinobi> He followed his father in, but pointedly stepped between Hope and Sebastian, meeting his father's eyes for a moment before starting for the stairs. Then, he realized something and instead turned for the basement steps.
<Jessica> Hearing footsteps in the hall, Jess called down the stairs, "Shall I assume everyone wants coffee?"
<Hope> It took Hope far longer to realize the shift. Once she did she brightened and tightened her hold on Shinobi. "Always," Hope called back up to Jess.
<Shaw> "Yes, love, thank you." He closed the door, watching them with a neutral expression. "I assume we won't be seeing either of you for the rest of the evening now."
<Hope> If we're lucky. "Perhaps," Hope flashed him a smile.
<Jessica> "Coffee's on," Jess called down, "Any preferences for type of cake?"
<Shaw> Sebastian tilted his head. "Whatever you'd like, koibito. I don't know if Hope and Shinobi will be joining us."
<Shinobi> His mouth twitched sideways. "Only if Hope needs anything from her old room."
<Hope> That made Hope's smile grow. "Good point. And we wouldn't want to intrude on this lovely evening you two have planned."
<Shaw> Turning to arm the security system, Sebastian paused. "Old room?" He rotated slowly on one heel to stare at them both. "And her new room is where, pray tell?"
<Shinobi> He met his eyes, chin lifted. "I believe you know."
<Hope> She tried, really she did, but Hope could only smile at Shinobi. "Well, since we're pretending everything is fine and nothing is wrong, we might as well just... go on with life."
<Shaw> "Everything is fine." He crossed his arms, attention now focused back on Hope.
<Hope> "Absolutely!" She smiled at Sebastian, tightening her grip on Shinobi.
<Shaw> "I'm handling it, little Stark." He bared sharp teeth. "Or is that your vote of no confidence in my abilities to handle my own security?"
<Shinobi> He recognized that tone of voice, and brushed his thumb over Hope's. Is this worth it right now?
<Hope> Yes. Yes it is. You don't have to stay for this. "Hmmm who was it who was nearly eaten alive? Was that... oh wait! That was you! And your security."
<Shaw> "Hope," he started, tone warning.
<Hope> "Dad." She settled her eyes on him, questioning him with her eyes. "You refused to believe there was a threat to begin with. Somebody leaves a snack on your bed and suddenly, you understand."
<Shaw> "It's not that I didn't believe there was a possible threat, love." He glanced at Shinobi, who seemed to be stuck with the baggage. "But, there is no cause to overreact. Threats and retaliations are a normal part of the club's business."
<Hope> "You didn't believe me." She told him, shaking her head very slightly. "You didn't believe me at all."
<Shaw> He shook his head. "I certainly believed you overreacted."
<Shinobi> "It scared her. Is that so terrible, to have somebody who cares so much she's terrified to lose you." He snorted, and looked his father over. "Of all people."
<Hope> "I think you underreacted to me and overreacted to a snack on the bed."
<Shaw> Sebastian turned his stare on Shinobi for a moment, but addressed Hope. "That was a direct intrusion on my property - on Jessica's property. That is our home. Surely you understand the difference."
<Hope> "It was a direct intrusion on my body," she countered.
<Shinobi> He gave her a perplexed look, letting go of her hand to catch the luggage strap before he dropped her bag.
<Shaw> "That's... a tad dramatic as well. You overheard a nebulous threat, from an unseen assailant... of some variety." He shook his head. "When a threat is truly made, you know."
<Hope> "Oh of course. You know. You know best right?"
<Shaw> "In this? Yes." He took a few steps closer.
<Hope> "And when you're wrong? What then?" Without Shinobi to hold her back, Hope stepped forward to meet Sebastian.
<Shaw> "I will not be wrong." He stared down at her, eyebrows up in half-amused challenge.
<Shinobi> Looking up from the bags, he pursed his lips and debated interfering.
<Hope> Hope laughed at him. "Is that what you said before you were chewed on too?"
<Shaw> "I would like to think I've learned from previous mistakes." He smirked, gaze flicking to his faux son and back. "Unlike some of us."
<Hope> She knew what he was saying. That was a direct slam at Shinobi. Hope smiled darkly at him. "Don't worry. If something happens to you, Jess will bake you a cake. Don't expect her to go find you though. She'll stay safe and warm here."
<Shinobi> He knew what it meant as well, and dropped both bags with a soft thud to move closer.
<Shaw> "This isn't about me and Jessica, or your relationship with... him." Sebastian spared a glance for his clone, warning him away.
<Hope> "No it's about how you never fucking listen to me!"
<Shaw> "I listen to you when you're being reasonable, which you are most certainly not at the moment, nor were you last night."
<Shinobi> "And maybe it would be better to argue about it in the morning?" He realized he couldn't sense Hope's obvious anger and stared at her.
<Hope> Hope was very calm when she spoke next, letting out one steady breath. "I am being reasonable. I'm not some pawn on your chessboard that you can can move out of your way because it's inconvenient for you to deal with me." She debated quickly, finally giving in and going for her bag.
<Shinobi> When Hope pushed past him, he turned on his father, matching his stance. "What the fuck? It's really that hard for you to just listen to her?"
<Shaw> "Stay out of this, Shinobi," he started and moved around the boy to block Hope.
<Shinobi> "No, I don't think so." He shook his head, moving between them again. "You know, I don't get it. You act like it's such a fucking inconvenience to have people care about you. I've seen you do it to Hope and Jess and... why?"
<Hope> Bag in hand, she slung the strap over her shoulder. "It doesn't matter," she told Shinobi softly, approaching his back, hand on his upper arm.
<Shinobi> "Yeah, it kind of fucking does." He shrugged her off and stepped into Sebastian. "I don't think you're worth it, but she does, so don't treat her like she's a piece of shit." He punctuated this with two fingers pressed into his father's sternum.
<Shaw> Sebastian looked down at the offending fingers.
<Hope> Hope tried to swallow down the lump in her throat. Obi...
<Shinobi> "No!" He turned his head just a little to respond to her, but kept his eyes on his father. "I'm done. You've done nothing but worry since last night and the Lord Imperial can't be bothered."
<Shaw> "Shinobi. Move." He leaned into the pressure on his chest.
<Hope> Hope jumped a bit at Shinobi snapping at her. She had the presence of mind to set her bag down. Don't ruin your relationship with him over me.
<Shinobi> "I don't have a relationship with him. I'm only here because of Jess. He can't even demean himself to tell me about my mother." Eyes narrowing, he realized something. "Did you do this to her too? Is that what drove her off?"
<Shaw> "I will tell you when I can, and not a moment before." He met the younger man's eyes. "The situation is complex, and frankly you weren't ready to know-"
<Shinobi> What he was more than ready for was this - another excuse, couched within an excuse. Enough. He swung, altering the density of his fist just before impact.
<Hope> She caught the thought before she saw the impact. "Shit!" Was all she could say.
<Shaw> The blow rocked him back on his heels and Sebastian gave Shinobi a wicked grin. He swept the boy's feet out from under him with a kick before he could phase, knowing he would only get one blow in. So, he moved with lightning speed to make it count.
<Hope> Objects in the nearby rooms began to rattle as Hope moved to Shinobi. Her hand gently touched his face, looking down at his stomach where he'd been punched.
<Shaw> Sebastian backed away, his blood still up, but knowing this was over.
<Shinobi> He coughed, barely stopping himself from phasing when he realized it was Hope touching him now.
<Hope> "Are you okay?" her voice was shaky, the rattling intensifying.
<Shinobi> "I'm fine," he coughed again, easing himself into a sitting position.
<Shaw> What was that sound? He touched his jaw, hissing at the tender spot and willing to give Shinobi credit for that much. Looking around for the source, he realized the coat rack was shaking. Hope.
<Hope> Hope stood to offer Shinobi a hand up, blinking as she saw her hand shake.
<Shinobi> He saw it as well, taking her hand in both of his and giving her a questioning look. "Are you okay?"
<Shaw> He moved in on the coat rack and caught it, holding it still, although the shaking continued.
<Hope> She sank back down beside him. "No."
<Shinobi> "I'm sorry, I shouldn't have lost my temper." He shifted to put his arms around her, though he still felt vaguely like he might throw up. Their link was back and she felt... frightened?
<Shaw> An umbrella and several hats fell off the top of the rack. "Hope, you need to control yourself."
<Hope> She held onto Shinobi as his warm arms wrapped around her. Then she heard Sebastian. "You control your own self!" Hope snapped at him, barely registering as something flew at Sebastian's head.
<Shaw> It took him a moment to realize it was a framed art print when it whizzed by his head and shattered against the wall.
<Shinobi> Shinobi watched this and looked down at Hope. "Hey, it's okay." Her mind was a mess, and he was having a hard time separating his own anger from hers.
<Hope> It was a satisfying smash really, but he was right. She just didn't want to be told to control herself, especially when she was working on that. She focused on him, feeling herself calm. Her body stopped shaking and the room with it. "I'm okay."
<Shinobi> He held her closer, urging her to rest her head on his shoulder. "We're both okay. It was stupid, so let's just forget it."
<Shaw> Sebastian bit back his response and let go of the coat rack. He turned and watched the couple.
<Hope> Hope nestled into him, exhausted. "I'm sorry," she mumbled against him.
<Shinobi> "You don't have anything to be sorry for." He gave his father a defiant look.
<Shaw> He raised a brow.
<Hope> Hope smiled just a little, holding onto him. "I should have made like Elsa and let it go."
<Shinobi> "But I know that's tricky for Ariel." He brushed her hair back and nuzzled her, rocking them slightly. Let his father watch.
<Shaw> And watch he did, but only for a moment. Sebastian shook himself and started for the stairs. They could continue this later.
<Hope> Hope giggled just a little, nuzzling him back. "Very tricky." Calmness washed over her, settling her.
<Shinobi> He just held her for a while, watching Sebastian's retreating back. "Hey," he finally said. "Let's go downstairs."
<Hope> She nodded, stealing a soft kiss before she moved to get to her feet.
<Shinobi> Stifling a groan, he pushed himself up and offered her his hand to assist her.
<Hope> "Are you sure you're okay? Do you need some ice? Heat? Epidural?" She took his hand, getting to her feet.
<Shinobi> "I'm fine," he laughed a little, though he tested his stomach with his free hand. The old man hit hard.
<Hope> She picked her bag back up and wrapped her free arm around him. "How about a nice, hot bath?"
<Shinobi> "Now we're talking." He smiled, picking up her other bag. "So long as you stay Ariel. No Elsa."
Read our instance transcripts here for hot character sessions!
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