Timelined after Cheat Sheet
<Hope> David was back... Hope had a phone again... but nothing really seemed normal or the same. She had sat and stared at the lock screen on the phone after David left, just watching the minutes tick by as she sat beside Shinobi. Tick tock, tick tock, tick tock. She didn't unlock the phone, but she did watch those minutes tick.
<Shinobi> He awoke from a light doze, unsure how long he'd been out this time - or how he'd slept at all, considering... everything. Raising his hand to rub his eyes, he winced at the pull of the IV.
<Hope> Oblivious, Hope kept staring at the lock screen as another minute ticked over.
<Shinobi> Of course he knew Hope was there, so after a moment of investigating his once-black eye he rolled his head to the side to watch her.
<Hope> The screen tried to darken, but she gently tapped the home button on the device to brighten the screen again. Another minute ticked by. She adjusted herself slightly in the chair, but didn't take her eyes off the phone.
<Shinobi> She was completely engrossed in that phone, which must be new. David. He focused on their link and swallowed. So alone...
<Hope> She was still fixated on it. The lock screen was right. Thank you icloud. She and Obi looked so happy in that picture as another minute ticked over their heads. She swallowed and glanced over at the real Obi, surprised to see him awake. She lowered the phone to her lap slowly.
<Shinobi> "Hey," he said, working up a smile.
<Hope> Smiling weakly, she slid her hand to his. "Hey."
<Shinobi> "New phone, huh?" Nodding at it, he took her hand, intertwining their fingers. They hadn't had a chance to talk since... earlier. He brought her hand to his lips and kissed her knuckles, watching her.
<Hope> She nodded, watching their hands. "David's back. He brought it." She looked over at his face finally, resting her gaze on him. "How are you feeling?"
<Shinobi> Lost. He shrugged one shoulder with a slight smile. "You?"
<Hope> That made Hope grin at him. "Same. Kind of had... issues. While you were asleep. And before that."
<Shinobi> "Yeah. About that..." He studied her fingers... so pale and delicate.
<Hope> She cringed at his words, watching him and preparing herself. "Yeah?"
<Shinobi> "What happened?" His eyes were still on their hands.
<Hope> "I should be asking you that too," she pointed out. "You were upset... I got upset..." She shifted uncomfortably. Damn her agreeing to no more secrets. "So I might have made it rain in one of the bathrooms..."
<Shinobi> It was because of him... "I'm sorry, Hope..." Wait. "You made it rain in the bathroom?"
<Hope> She started snickering a bit. "Yeah.... yeah I did. I hid under a shower curtain, but I was already soaked."
<Shinobi> Meeting her eyes, he smirked. "Not what I meant by 'go take a shower,' Ariel."
<Hope> She laughed softly, squeezing his hand and realizing when she could look into his eyes again. "Yeah... Sebastian came and rescued me. He tried to help with the shielding, but he tried too hard. That's when we got cut off."
<Shinobi> "Yeah... you scared me." Sitting up a little with a cringe, he reached for her temple with his free hand.
<Hope> She shifted, leaning into him so he could reach without straining himself. "I'm sorry, Obi," she told him softly. "It's hard having powers all the time."
<Shinobi> He brushed her hair back and frowned at the cut. "You should use David's power..." At least he didn't have the headache anymore, which meant she must not either.
<Hope> "Oh..." she nodded, focusing in on it. "I forgot."
<Shinobi> "Yeah... a lot going on, I know." He threaded his fingers into her hair and pulled her closer, kissing her forehead and nuzzling into her.
<Hope> She let out a sigh, moving closer to him and kissing his cheek gently. "Yeah... Sebastian fixed his shielding... And then you went quiet on me. I thought something had happened to you."
<Shinobi> "Sorry," he said quietly. "It... hurt."
<Hope> She winced at that, backing up to look down at him. "Why didn't you tell me?"
<Shinobi> "It was just... too much." This time, it was an effort to meet her eyes.
<Hope> It didn't matter. She couldn't meet his. She eased back in her chair, swallowing hard. "I'm sorry."
<Shinobi> Her withdrawal hurt as well and he blinked, finding wrinkles in his blankets to smooth out.
<Hope> She used her free hand to pick up her phone again, her thumb finding the home button. They had been happy right? She hadn't dreamed that in the endless nightmare she was stuck inside? "I'm sorry," she repeated.
<Shinobi> It caught his attention again. "It's not your fault," he told the blanket.
<Hope> "Don't try to placate me. It is my fault. Jess was kind enough to point that out about 50 times too."
<Shinobi> He looked up at her in surprise. "What?"
<Hope> "I blamed Jess for upsetting you. She blamed me for not shielding properly... and she's right."
<Shinobi> "You're just learning though, so that's... not fair." Not that anything in life was. He'd already known that, before, growing up as an orphan. Now, he wasn't even that... the entire basis for his kinship with Hope was gone. The realization made his throat close and his chest ache.
<Hope> She moved to him quickly, hand on his chest. "It wasn't fair. But it's my fault you freaked out more. All of this is my fault."
<Shinobi> "This is just a fucking terrible situation," he said, covering her hand with his own. It was impossible to meet her eyes.
<Hope> "I tried to get her to leave so I could just... just calm down and think. And she wouldn't. She promised you that she wouldn't. so she wouldn't." She just kept spewing words at him. The same thing had happened when she had talked to David. They just kept coming.
<Shinobi> "I sort of... went off on her." Of course, she knew that, since that was what caused her to make it rain in a Hydra bathroom. "We... can't do this..."
<Hope> Alert now, Hope stared at him. "Do what? You have to be specific. You can't... you have to be specific."
<Shinobi> "I... it's my fault you were so upset in the first place. You got hurt." He closed his eyes. "Because of that link."
<Hope> "I got hurt because I can't focus my power. So what if I whacked myself?" Did she still have blood on her head? She rubbed the spot awkwardly.
<Shinobi> "You got hurt because of me. I... never wanted that."
<Hope> Her mind raced behind her shields, finally setting on a conclusion. she tried to make eye contact. "What are you trying to say, Obi?"
<Shinobi> He could almost feel her gaze, but refused to open his eyes. "I think you should sever the link."
<Hope> Her mouth opened to protest, but she closed it immediately. Her own words bounced in her mind. What was best for him. She moved back to her seat and away from him, hesitating, but severing the link as gently as possible one no part of her was touching him. Alone. Empty, alone, and nothingness.
<Shinobi> He felt it, and bit down on his lip. It was for the best, he told himself. She would be safer without him in her head.
<Hope> Everything that she had worked on suppressing to spare him came flooding back to her. Alone. Her last person. Her last shred of hope. She could feel the tears. He wasn't looking away. She pushed the chair back and moved for the door. Not in front of him. No. No. No. No. NO. Not there.
<Shinobi> Hearing her move, he watched. All he'd wanted was to make her happy, to be happy. How could he do that now? Maybe if he had a little time... "I'm sorry."
<Hope> She paused at his words and choked on her sob as she moved out of the room. Once she could close the door behind her... she broke. Back to the door she sank slowly, and sobbed. She could no longer hold anything in or anything back. She pulled her knees to her chest and cried into them.
<Shinobi> He heard that too, and pushed himself upright with a hiss. Fuck. No. There was no way he could just sit there and listen to her cry. Swinging his legs over the side of the bed, his feet touched the floor.
<Hope> It was too much for him. She was too much for him. What was she supposed to do now? Wasn't this why she didn't let people in to begin with? How stupid she had been. She pressed the heel of her hand into her eye, trying to stifle her sob, which only served to make it worse. She couldn't feel him. Couldn't touch him, not without restarting the link.
<Hope> She didn't trust her own abilities to be able to at least. She wrapped both arms around her legs again, balling herself up tighter, pressing her face into her thighs. She'd allow herself to break... and then she'd find a way to get up and fix the pieces.
<Shinobi> The sounds coming from the other side of the door brought a new ache to his chest. Shinobi tested his weight on his legs and once he was upright locked his knees. Fuck! That hurt! He reached for the IV pole to steady himself.
<Hope> Her chest ached along side his, but for a different reason. It ached for him. It ached for the family she never had. It ached for the life he should have had. Hope kept her back pressed against the door, letting the loneliness wash over her and wallowing in it.
<Shinobi> There was an easier way to do this. He closed his eyes. Hope? After taking several deep breaths - in, out, in, out - he took a step toward the door.
<Hope> I'm fine. She pushed at him automatically. She wasn't fine, not by any stretch of the imagination, but that's what you told someone when you were falling apart. It's what was done.
<Shinobi> No, you're not. Come here. Step by slow step, and using the pole as his crutch, he inched toward the door.
<Hope> I can't. She couldn't risk it. There was no way she could dam back up the tidal wave of emotions that had hit her enough to touch him.
<Shinobi> You can. He reached the door and pulled it open.
<Hope> The sudden loss of her back support startled Hope. She nearly fell backward onto him, but caught herself just in time, slamming her hand down to brace herself. She couldn't stop her sobbing enough to speak. What are you doing?! She began scooting away from him.
<Shinobi> I can't get down to you... There was no way. He watched her, and when he wavered caught himself with a hand on the door frame.
<Hope> No. No you can't, she confirmed. She stared up at him, sobbing calming to a steady stream of tears instead. "Go back to bed."
<Shinobi> "Not without you." He gave up and leaned his weight into the frame, the guilt overwhelming him.
<Hope> "You can't handle this, Obi. I can't. You couldn't handle before!"
<Shinobi> Confused, he just stared at her. His stomach and back felt like they were on fire and he really needed to sit back down.
<Hope> She wiped her face with a shaky hand, staring up at him. "You shouldn't be out of bed. You should be in bed."
<Shinobi> "Then help me." It was something, right?
<Hope> She pressed her lips into each other, struggling with that. "I can't!" Didn't he get it! She pressed her hands over her face. He had been what was holding her together.
<Shinobi> He closed his eyes, trying to think. "Why are you so upset... you didn't even fight me over it..."
<Hope> She swallowed, trying to calm down enough to really speak. "Because I'm too much for you. Because you're going through way worse than I am so I'm trying to do the right thing. Because I had it under control when I was shielding it from you. And everything just... crashed down."
<Shinobi> "You're not too much for me... you've got it backward. I asked because I upset you so much you blew out the pipes." He swallowed, licked his lips, fought a wave of dizziness. "Was trying to protect you from me..."
<Hope> "Obi..." she stared at him, processing what he was saying. "You were what was holding me together. I can't do this on my own. Not this." She used the wall to push herself up carefully.
<Shinobi> Finally he opened his eyes, tried to focus on her face. "I expected you to argue... when you didn't I figured it was for the best. That it was what you wanted too."
<Hope> "Never," she clarified, wiping her face. "I didn't argue because it's what you wanted." She pushed off the wall, walking slowly toward him.
<Shinobi> "It's not what I wanted." She was getting closer now and he tried a smile, one corner of his mouth hitching up.
<Hope> She stopped just short of him, looking up at him. "Then don't say you think it's a good idea."
<Shinobi> "I wanted you to argue." His expression slipped a little when she stopped. Taking a deep breath, he straightened up and held out his hand for her.
<Hope> She couldn't help it. She smiled and carefully slid her arms around him. "The first time in my life that I don't..."
<Shinobi> "Yeah... you have great timing." Laughing would hurt, so he snorted softly and tried not to lean on her. At least she was being remarkably gentle in her hug. So may I have it back now?
<Hope> She took a deep breath, nodding. She swallowed and shoved as much emotion as she could down deep before gently reopening the link.
<Shinobi> It didn't matter, because he could still tell she was a wreck. They were sort of a matched set in that. But it was still better than being alone in his own head. So much better. He blew out a shaky breath. Thank you.
<Hope> Thank you. She clarified for him. You make this more bearable. I... "I need you," she whispered to him.
<Shinobi> "Lucky me..." He'd never understand why, but he wasn't going to argue. Despite his determination, his healing body had hit its limit and he sagged.
<Hope> "Obi!" Duh Hope! She carefully pushed into him to help keep him up, but then had a better idea. She tapped into Sebastian. That powerset felt... good. Familiar. She carefully scooped up Shinobi and took both him and his IV stand back to the bed.
<Shinobi> He couldn't even protest, since it was a relief to not rely on his own shaky legs anymore. "I'll be embarrassed about that later," he said, wincing as he got into a more comfortable position.
<Hope> "Don't worry. I won't tell anyone," she teased, smiling as she set him down carefully, as gently as possible.
<Shinobi> He scooted to the side and caught her hand to pull her in as well. "My dignity thanks you."
<Hope> Relief washed over Hope as she slid into the bed with him. "I don't like it when I can't feel you," she admitted, getting comfortable as she dropped Sebastian's power.
<Shinobi> I'm right here. He kissed her knuckles and placed her hand over his heart, then covered her hand with his own.
<Hope> Smiling to herself, Hope snuggled into him and closed her eyes. She was exhausted and he was warm. And safe. Right where you belong.
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