Timelined for after [Instance]The More Things Change.
<Shinobi> It was hard to tell how much time had passed since Hope had left, and he was still savoring the return of their link. Even with her who knew where on the base, she was with him.
<Shinobi> The Hydra base made him nervous, and what made him even more nervous was whatever Viper was putting into his IV line.
<Jessica> Jess had heard that Shinobi was awake but she was still in two minds about whether or not to see him. She wanted to but she wasn't sure if her visit would be well received and that would be just awful... plus there was still the fear of looking at his face. She started with knocking on the door and trying not to run away.
<Shinobi> He knew that wasn't Hope, since she was busy locating some peppermint shampoo, which he expected to be a trick in this place. Viper didn't knock. "Yeah?"
<Jessica> Opening the door a crack, Jess peeked in, "Hey... is it okay if I come in?"
<Shinobi> Well, that was one of the other two options. "Yeah," he said with a sigh, and rubbed his eyes, sitting up a little higher with a wince and a bitten-off hiss.
<Jessica> Jess managed a smile, stepping in and closing the door behind her, "I heard you were awake... I wanted to see how you are..." she managed a brief glance at his face but largely found other places to look.
<Shinobi> "I'm awake all right." He watched her not looking at him with a raised eyebrow. "Feeling... high, actually."
<Jessica> "Well that's... good?" she moved to the foot of the bed, "I'm really glad you're okay... hate being proved wrong...." she was talking to his feet... She attempted to pull herself together.
<Shinobi> "Proved... wrong?" She was acting weird, and he didn't think it had to do with his painkillers.
<Jessica> "I told Hope you'd be okay..." she offered a small smile, moving around the side of the bed and sitting down in the empty chair. "I was worried about her..."
<Shinobi> "Oh." He still wasn't so sure about that, but nodded and picked at the blanket covering him. "She's taking a shower now."
<Jessica> Jess reached tentatively to take his hand while it was there, hoping he didn't notice that she was shaking a little.
<Shinobi> He shifted his hand away, pretending to smooth the blanket.
<Jessica> Jess bit her lip and withdrew her hand back to her lap. "What has Hope told you since you woke up...?"
<Shinobi> It was quiet for some time, a muscle in his jaw twitching. Finally, he decided and looked straight at her. "You let me believe I was his son."
<Jessica> She sighed, "We wanted you to have a chance at normal... I wanted you to have a chance at normal...."
<Shinobi> "I'm not fucking normal!" All the frustration he'd bottled up overflowed and though the shout hurt, it felt good. Better. "I trusted you!"
<Jessica> She bowed her face into her hands, "Would you rather we told you the truth when you came to us? Instead of trying to make you feel welcome? One of the family? Because I don't think I could have done that..."
<Shinobi> "Yeah, and I'm trying to figure out what kind of fucking joke that was! One of the family? I'm not!"
<Jessica> "It wasn't a joke!" She looked at him then for the first time since the rescue mission, "I wanted that! I wanted you to be happy with us, that wasn't a lie, it wasn't said just to make you feel better. I wanted you to be part of our family..."
<Shinobi> "Why?" He dashed his forearm across his eyes and met her stare for stare. "I'm a thing or something -- I don't even know what the fuck I am!"
<Jessica> "That's why! Do you think we wanted to do that to you? Make you feel like that? Of course we didn't... We wanted you to feel safe, comfortable... have a future ahead of you...."
<Jessica> "Because you deserved a fucking chance at being a human being instead of some asshole's puppet!"
<Shinobi> "Right, so I could be your puppet instead."
<Jessica> "No." She shook her head, "And I hope that's just you lashing out right now and not because I made you feel like that... if I ever did I'm sorry because I didn't mean it. I would never do that to you."
<Shinobi> "Maybe not you, but my father?" The word came out as a snarl. "I'm sure that was his plan all along, to keep me right under his thumb since I just happened to share DNA with his greatest enemy?"
<Shinobi> "I might be a monster, but I'm not stupid."
<Jessica> "Shinobi..." she reached for him again, wishing she could find the words to tell him that Sebastian was just coming around without making it sound awful.
<Shinobi> He jerked away from her hand. "I don't want your fucking pity."
<Jessica> "It's not pity..." she got to her feet, "I love you and Hope. You are my family whether you like it or not. And you can say what you want to say and try to hurt me and I'm sure it will but I'm going to keep coming back."
<Shinobi> "I would suggest you learn from your mistakes and don't," he sneered.
<Jessica> "You can suggest all you like," her voice shook a little, "But I'm going to come back anyway because family doesn't give up on each other."
<Shinobi> He stared at her, expression unreadable.
<Jessica> "If you don't believe that I care about you, I could show you how it felt to see you hurt... or maybe you can ask Hope what I did to the man who did that to you because I'm sure you don't care to hear it from me." And she would rather not think about it anyway.
<Shinobi> They hadn't talked about it, at all, and he frowned, the fight going out of him. It was replaced with something darker. "What... I don't know how I'm supposed to deal with this," he said quietly, and stared at his lap.
<Jessica> "Of course you don't... do you think we had any idea the best way to tell you? This is the last thing we wanted to happen... we were so worried you'd react badly and run away and get into trouble and we wouldn't be able to help you... and now everything's worse...."
<Shinobi> "I don't even know where I'd go..." And then there was Hope, who he tried to reassure he was alright, when he wasn't at all sure of that himself.
<Jessica> "Well... don't worry about that now... just focus on getting better, okay? When you're well again... if you decide you want to leave... we'll do what we can to help you get on your feet...." Even though it hurt her to say and the pain registered in her voice again.
<Shinobi> He flattened his hand on the mass of bandages on his stomach. "Just because I have his DNA doesn't mean you're responsible for me."
<Jessica> "I know... But I want to help you, Shinobi. I keep telling you - you're family. DNA isn't what makes a family... it helps... but what really matters is that you care for those people and would do anything for them. And I would. Family is more important to me than anything else. I can live without anything else but not that."
<Shinobi> "I wanted to have a family," he admitted softly, head falling back against the pillows and his eyes fluttering closed.
<Jessica> "You do have a family... you just have to let us back in..." She took a step toward the bed, "I'm not going anywhere. If you want to talk to me, you can any time."
<Shinobi> Lips pressed together, he squeezed his eyes tightly shut. "No wonder he hates me," he finally said, but his traitorous voice betrayed him with a crack.
<Jessica> "Sebastian? He doesn't hate you..." she tried again, reaching to brush a hand over his hair in a soothing gesture, "He's just not sure what to make of you a lot of the time..."
<Shinobi> This time he didn't resist her, but he didn't know how to respond.
<Jessica> "I'm sorry it took so long for him to realise what he was doing... it was just twelve hours too late to do anything about it... I feel like I failed you..."
<Shinobi> Confused, he opened his eyes to give her a questioning look.
<Jessica> "I set out to give you a home where you felt safe... somewhere you could build a future for yourself... and I didn't do enough... You suffered in our house and you didn't need to... and I'm sorry for that..."
<Shinobi> "I tried," he said with a sniff, staring at nothing in particular. "And I have Hope..." Who hadn't believed his reassurances and now he couldn't tell whether what he was feeling was from her or his own misery.
<Jessica> "You did try... and I tried... but sometimes other things get in the way... things that don't matter, things that aren't even there... but not anymore.... now everything is in the open," she sighed, "Maybe not in the best way... but at least it's not there in the background anymore... If there's anything I can do to help or tell you... just... ask..."
<Shinobi> "I... don't know." He reached up and took her hand.
<Jessica> "You don't have to ask right now," she captured the hand that had taken hers between both of them, "But the offer's there... any time you want to take it up."
<Shinobi> "But this is just you... his opinion hasn't changed." He held onto one of her hands.
<Jessica> "It has..." she bit her lip, taking a breath to steady her voice, "He's just really... hopeless at this stuff.... he doesn't mean to be... and I don't think he realised it until that night... and then you and Hope were gone..."
<Shinobi> "Because of him," he pointed out.
<Jessica> "Yes... well... I suppose we were all a bit to blame for that.... we all could have handled it better."
<Shinobi> He frowned, but decided not to comment.
<Jessica> "I keep thinking... if I hadn't gone upstairs, maybe things would have been different."
<Shinobi> "I don't know," he said, clearing his throat. "That was... a long time coming." But now, all that righteous indignation he'd been nurturing? It was a lie. "It was all a lie..."
<Jessica> "No, how many times do I have to say it? It wasn't all a lie."
<Shinobi> "It was! My entire fucking life is!"
<Jessica> Jess flinched at the sudden shout and withdrew her hand, "I wish there was a way to make it better..."
<Shinobi> "There isn't, though, is there?" He wasn't sure if he was relieved or disappointed that she cringed away from him. Either way, it hurt. "Where did these memories come from? Where?! I remember growing up in the home! Wondering why the fuck my parents didn't want me!"
<Jessica> "I don't know... I suppose someone put them there... and I wish to God they'd given you some happy memories..." she bowed her face into her hands.
<Shinobi> "It was him," he said, finally breaking down into a sob. Covering his face, he stopped trying to control his response. "Essex. Why give me happy memories? He wanted me to hate Sebastian Shaw!"
<Jessica> Jess got out of the chair and wrapped her arms around him for a hug. She didn't know what else to do.
<Shinobi> The bastard was right - he'd been used all his life. Not even his name was his own. He surrendered to Jess' hug, breaking down into heaving sobs.
<Jessica> She climbed up onto the bed beside him, holding him tightly and stroking a hand over his back soothingly.
<Shinobi> He felt a stabbing pain in his temple and cringed, pressing his face into her shoulder.
<Jessica> She felt an echo of it and gave him a squeeze, "What was that?"
<Shinobi> "I-I don't know..." His breath hitched again and he raised a hand to press it to the spot. Now his stomach hurt as well.
<Jessica> Jess gently stroked her fingers through his hair, "Do you want me to get someone?"
<Shinobi> He gasped, the link cut off and along with it the headache. "Hope..." No. Nononono...
<Jessica> "Shhh, don't worry about her..." She hugged him a little tighter and pressed a kiss to the top of his head.
<Shinobi> "She's hurt!" He struggled to reach her, but the link was gone. Hope! "She's gone!" Trying to wriggle out of her grasp, he whimpered when he felt his abdomen pull.
<Jessica> "She'll be fine," Jess kept her grip on him, "You need to stay here and rest, you're not fully healed yet."
<Shinobi> Hope! Fuck. She'd felt all of that. He swore, struggling against her.
<Jessica> "Shinobi, calm down!" She held on, resorting to empathy to try and soothe him. "You're going to hurt yourself..."
<Shinobi> The link returned, along with the massive headache, and he sagged. "Fuuuuuuck..." Hope! Are you okay?
<Jessica> Jess sighed, shifting to sit more comfortably and pulling him some way into her lap. "Maybe it would help to send for some painkillers?"
<Shinobi> Her response didn't do anything to help his frame of mind but he just nodded. "She's hurt... she won't tell me, but she is..."
<Jessica> "David's here, she can fix herself up." She reached a hand over to press a call button.
<Shinobi> "She felt... all of that." He sniffed, resting against Jess.
<Jessica> "The pitfalls of a link... it happens..." she stroked a hand over his hair and back, "She'll forgive it."
<Shinobi> "She's the only thing that makes me feel better... feel... normal... and I'm hurting her." He closed his eyes and worked to shield himself.
<Jessica> "You're not doing it on purpose, Shinobi. Don't blame yourself for this..." She mouthed painkillers at the agent that answered the button.
<Shinobi> He paused. "That's not even my name..."
<Jessica> "What would you rather I called you?"
<Shinobi> "I... don't know." Drained, he just allowed his mind to drift.
<Jessica> "Then let me call you that until you think of something else, okay?" she nuzzled him gently as the agent injected the painkillers into his IV.
<Shinobi> He didn't like that idea. "It was the name of the project..."
<Jessica> She sighed, "I have to call you something... is there anything that'd be acceptable?"
<Shinobi> It was Hope's voice he heard, but not that... that was for her alone. The drugs were starting to make him fuzzy now.
<Jessica> "Think on it and get back to me," she suggested, "I'll just sit quietly."
<Shinobi> His nod was hardly perceptible.
<Jessica> Hearing his breathing change to the steady rhythm of sleep, Jess settled him back on his pillows carefully, tucking him back in. Once he looked comfortable, she returned herself to the chair and curled up to keep an eye on him for a while.
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