Timelined a day or two after Identity Crisis and at the same time as Texts from Last Night
<Hope> TV was boring, but at least she was cuddled up as much in Shinobi's lap as she could be without hurting him. Head rested against him, she made a slight face as her phone went off. She blinked and stared at the screen. It was from Chris, of all people. Apologizing? Asking if she was okay? She blinked some more. What was this?
<Shinobi> He tore his attention from the television - though he'd mostly been zoning out anyway - and looked at Hope questioningly. "What's up?"
<Hope> "I.... look." she shoved the phone into his eyesight where he could see the text and who it was from.
<Shinobi> Squinting, he took her wrist and moved it back just a little. Her ex. Obi swallowed. "Oh..."
<Hope> "Why is he texting me now?" she asked, looking up at Shinobi instead of at the phone. Should she even reply?
<Shinobi> "Sounds like the cat is out of the bag that something happened..." That was a good question. He searched her face to gauge her reaction.
<Hope> "Not necessarily... right?" She wrinkled her nose at him, but finally sent Chris a reply to find out just how much he knew. Maybe he didn't know anything. Maybe he was just sorry for being an ass.
<Shinobi> "I don't know." He watched her tap out a response and tried to hide his frown, shifting to tighten his arm around her.
<Hope> She felt that and leaned to kiss his bicep, smiling softly. "I'm glad you're here," she reminded him.
<Shinobi> It made him smile a little in return and brush his nose and mouth over her hair. He was so lucky to have her, and he shared the feeling.
<Hope> Chris' reply caught her attention as she stared at it. "So the staff knows... Carol told them SHIELD extracted us. I guess that's better than the truth."
<Shinobi> "I wonder what they told your dad?" There were another hundred ways things could go wrong there.
<Hope> "Hopefully very little," she replied to Chris again, nestling into Shinobi. She used her hand to pull his arm tighter around her.
<Shinobi> "Or I would think he'd already be here, yeah." He smiled a little at her snuggling and caught her wrist to read the conversation on the screen. Hmm.
<Hope> By the time Hope looked back at her phone, she wished she hadn't. Chris was apologizing for how he had treated her. She looked to Obi. What was she supposed to say to that?
<Shinobi> "He should be," he said, lips pressed together. But if she accepted that apology? Her ex might be a dick, but he was a normal dick... or at least more normal than he was.
<Hope> "Yeah...." But she hadn't exactly been innocent there either. "Still... there's no point in a fight." She sent her own reply to him, sighing. She'd never had to really deal with an ex before. Were they supposed to be on speaking terms? Or hate each other? She wasn't really sure.
<Shinobi> Hope Stark was shrinking from a fight? He didn't like this idea, and watched her profile as she responded.
<Hope> Hope Stark had cleverly diverted the conversation to Kat and off of her. She felt her body relax as she was relieved. "There. A civil conversation. I think." She shrugged and shifted her head to look up at him again.
<Shinobi> He flashed her a quick smile when she looked at him. "Good." He supposed, anyway, and since he'd felt her relax he took a deep breath of his own. This, of course, made his stomach twinge.
<Hope> She gave him a concerned look. "I worry about you still."
<Shinobi> "I'm okay." He brushed back her hair. "Promise. Just... healing." It was surprising he was recovering as quickly as he was, and he knew that was thanks to Viper.
<Hope> She wrinkled her nose at him and leaned up, kissing him softly. "If you aren't okay.... you need to tell me."
<Shinobi> "I'm okay." He moved enough to rest his hand on her cheek and stroke her skin and hair as they kissed. "I have you."
<Hope> "Some might consider that more of a punishment," she protested, kissing him again.
<Shinobi> "Hardly." He laughed a little. "It's a privilege."
<Hope> That made her face flush as she swallowed down a lump. "Really?"
<Shinobi> "Yeah, of course?" Her reaction honestly confused him, and he gave her a look before kissing her once more.
<Hope> Hope closed her eyes, leaning her head against him and lingering. "I love you... so much."
<Shinobi> He smiled, nuzzling her. "Love you, too." That fucking phone kept beeping, unfortunately.
<Hope> She quickly replied and set it down to return her attention to Shinobi. "You were right. Before. We're together and nothing else really matters besides that."
<Shinobi> "Yeah?" He tucked a lock of hair behind her ear and brushed the backs of his knuckles over her cheek. "Good. Every now and then I get one."
<Hope> "I kind of like it when you're right," she admitted. "So long as we aren't severing a link. Or breaking up."
<Shinobi> He swallowed, brow wrinkling a little at her sudden change of topic. Opening his mouth, the phone beeped again. Fuck.
<Hope> She replied quickly and set it back down to look up at him. She hadn't thought Chris cared at all anymore. It was... nice to know he did.
<Shinobi> "Breaking up is the last thing on my mind," he said, trying to ignore the phone now. "Otherwise I wouldn't have asked you about what you said."
<Hope> That made her smile. "Good...." then the rest of his sentence registered. "I never really asked... you... how you felt about... that topic."
<Shinobi> "It's not..." Pausing to think, he bit his lip and stared at her phone. "I never thought about it before, because, why would I? It's not a life that would have been possible."
<Hope> "And now?" she asked him, ignoring her phone for the moment to stare at him.
<Shinobi> "I was just starting to get used to the idea I could have a future." Before this. Before he knew he was a thing created by a mad scientist.
<Hope> She smiled at him, pausing to type one last text to Chris before tossing her phone behind the couch. If he responded, he could wait. "A very bright future at that."
<Shinobi> "Yeah, it was," he said quietly. It wasn't a perfect home or family, but...
<Hope> "There's no reason you can't still have it," she pointed out.
<Shinobi> He looked away, a muscle in his jaw twitching.
<Hope> "Obi..." her hand immediately went to his cheek. "Or not. You don't have to be tied to it unless you want to. It's really whatever you want."
<Shinobi> "But I'm not even-" He swore, and though he wanted to jerk away he clapped his hand over hers. Not even real.
<Hope> "It's isn't that you aren't real exactly... so much as an unconventional birth. You are every bit as real as me." She pulled their hands, moving his to be on top of his own heart. "Do you feel that?"
<Shinobi> He stared down at their hands and shook his head. "I know I'm biologically real, but - the fuck? I remember growing up in a home. Going to school. Playing baseball in the yard. How?"
<Shinobi> "Fucking... where did it come from? How do I know how to read? Drive? Even goddamn walk?"
<Hope> "That I don't know. I'm sure Essex did something..." she licked her lips, looking over at his face. "Obi... I know this is difficult for you. I feel that. But Obi... I have loved you from the start. Okay maybe not the immediate start..." she smirked a bit, remembering that sucker punch.
<Hope> "But I fell in love with you knowing who and what you are. I've stood up to Tony knowing who and what you are. And I've agreed to spend my life with you, knowing all that too." She leaned up, kissing his forehead. "And I'll still be here when you fall in love with yourself too."
<Shinobi> After a moment he was able to meet her eyes. "How?"
<Hope> Hope swallowed hard and pressed her forehead against his. "Because you're my soulmate."
<Shinobi> Shocked, he sucked in a breath. "Hope..." he whispered.
<Hope> "Obi," she whispered back at him.
<Shinobi> "I want..." He closed his eyes to gather his thoughts, wondering how much she could read. "I want to deserve that..."
<Hope> "You don't have to deserve anything. You've accepted me as is, and I you." She backed up enough to look at him, taking his hands in her own. "We're a team now." She squeezed his hands. "I know who you are now, even if you don't."
<Shinobi> "Yeah, but you're you." Licking his lips, he touched her face lightly. "I can't give you what you deserve."
<Hope> "What I deserve depends entirely on who you ask. For example, I'm sure Jess feels I deserve a good shake," she smiled at him, watching his face. "I have what I need."
<Shinobi> He snorted at her assessment of Jess. "I want to be with you," he said, tracing her brow and over her cheek. "To spend my life with you, but... I can't," his voice caught and he wondered why it suddenly mattered so much. Because she wanted it?
<Shinobi> He closed his eyes. "I can't give you a family."
<Hope> She felt her heart sink a little as she mulled that over. "How do you know for sure?" she asked him gently, turning to kiss his hand on her face.
<Shinobi> He couldn't look at her, and he could feel her disappointment. It made him swallow down a lump. "Oyama... he was... pretty happy about it."
<Hope> Hope mulled that over. "Of course he was. Bastard..." She sighed and moved to a better position in his lap, nestling into his neck. "I guess Tony will have to settle for an adopted heir."
<Shinobi> Looking up at her in surprise, he thought about the implications of that.
<Hope> "That's if we can even keep the fish alive," she pointed out.
<Shinobi> He laughed, looking over at the table where the small fish circled his tank.
<Hope> Hope smiled, loving the sound of his laughter. "How... how do you feel about a nap?"
<Shinobi> "A nap would be good," he admitted. If he could sleep now, considering what they'd just drudged up.
<Hope> Hope slid off of his lap, offering her hands to help him up once she was firmly on her feet.
<Shinobi> It took him a moment longer to get up, and even longer to straighten to his full height with a wince.
<Hope> Hope was there to wrap an arm around him to help him steady himself.
<Shinobi> "I'm okay," he assured her, leaning in to kiss her forehead and lingering.
<Hope> "Of course you are," she closed her eyes, smiling.
<Shinobi> "Just achy," he said, wrapping his arms around her. "And itchy."
<Hope> "Want me to grab you another pill?" she offered.
<Shinobi> "Yeah..." He didn't let go, however.
<Hope> Hope nestled into his chest, holding out her hand for his pill bottle. It obeyed and flew gently into it. Pleased, she secured both arms around him. "Got it."
<Shinobi> "That is handy," he said with a chuckle, nuzzling her hair. Now they just had to move. Eventually.
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