Timelined a day after False Realities
<Bobby> The elevator was on the move, which sent an alert to Bobby's phone. According to the ID entered into the security pad, it was a Shaw, and Bobby had never been so goddamn happy to go greet one in his life.
<Bobby> In fact, when the door slid open, he was waiting, and put his finger to his lips to shush the man, making broad gestures and shoving him back into the elevator.
<Shaw> Perplexed, Sebastian tolerated this and watched Drake jab his finger into the close button a half dozen times until the machine complied. Once it did, Sebastian crossed his arms and raised a brow at the guard.
<Bobby> "Don't give me that look." Bobby blew out a breath and ran both hands through his hair. "Hope is... no, Hope isn't!"
<Hope> Oblivious to the elevator, Drake, or even Sebastian, Hope continued to sit at her seat in the window, staring down into the park below. It had been hours... hours since Obi had left. The emptiness inside her own mind was overwhelming.
<Shaw> "Hope isn't what?" Sebastian prompted, now getting somewhat alarmed himself. For hours he'd called and texted her and hadn't received a response, and now that he was within her range, her mind was... blank.
<Bobby> "Hope isn't Hope. She's... like... a vegetable! I called Paige, I tried to call you and I almost called Tony but I knew that would be a bad, bad move. She hasn't even moved for hours! I tried to talk to her, I tried to annoy her, I thought about dropping my goddamn pants just to get her to punch me or something!"
<Shaw> Sebastian's lip curled at that mental image and he reached past Drake to press the button to open the door. "I'll have a look."
<Hope> The only sign of life was a delicate hand pushing some loose strands of red hair back behind her ear.
<Shaw> Hope, love? Sebastian pressed gently, moving into the suite and locating her quickly in the window seat.
<Bobby> The silence meant he was using telepathy, which still skeeved him out on several levels, so Bobby followed in the shark's wake at a safe distance.
<Hope> She heard him. She felt him. She just didn't have the energy to respond. She pulled at the sleeves of her MIT sweatshirt, trying to make it fit more snugly around her as her arms wrapped around her body.
<Shaw> Sebastian stopped behind her and looked over his shoulder at Drake. "Make some coffee," he said, then after a moment, added a "please."
<Bobby> He gave the shark the eye for a moment, then looked at Hope and nodded, starting for the kitchen.
<Shaw> Hope, I'm going to touch you. He rested his hand on her shoulder.
<Hope> She allowed it, though unable to hide her flinch.
<Shaw> Where are you? He probed her mind, aware now how much more powerful than he she had become.
<Hope> She slammed another layer of shield up, just in case he pushed harder. Here.
<Shaw> He felt that and smirked. And where is here?
<Hope> She didn't answer him, instead ignoring that stupid question.
<Shaw> Irritated, he pressed further against her shielding.
<Hope> She almost smirked at his attempt, knowing her own were firmly in place. Maybe he'd get bored and leave. She could only hope.
<Shaw> Hope, what purpose does this serve? You're frightening Drake.
<Hope> This was remarkably easy to do. He screamed at Scooby Doo.
<Shaw> He smirked. Why am I unsurprised? More to the point, you're also frightening me, and that just won't do.
<Hope> Then go home. She pushed that stubborn piece of hair back behind her ear again.
<Shaw> No. He moved a pillow and sat down beside her.
<Hope> Why are you here? She adjusted herself a little, sighing.
<Shaw> To see you, of course. He leaned back against the window, watching her impassive expression.
<Hope> Nothing exciting happening here. She barely cast him a glance before looking back down at the park below.
<Shaw> So I see. He looked over his shoulder to the park.
<Hope> When was Obi going to be home? It was draining, trying to do this without him. I'm fine. She gave him a look finally.
<Shaw> Clearly. He returned the look. So you were willfully ignoring Drake? He nearly called Tony.
<Hope> I was willfully ignoring you too, she pointed out. Nobody takes the hint.
<Shaw> And why are you so averse to company? He tilted his head.
<Hope> Hope actually looked at him, blinking. You've met me, right?
<Shaw> Sebastian rolled his eyes. "Drake is making coffee. Have some."
<Hope> She shook her head at him, resting it back on the glass. "No thanks."
<Shaw> His eyebrow quirked. "Come now..."
<Hope> She offered him a shrug of a response, tucking her hair back again. She did, however, let her knees slide down, her leg barely touching his.
<Shaw> Sebastian felt it, and laid his hand on his knee, palm up, in offer.
<Hope> Hope looked at his hand for a long moment. She swallowed down a lump in her throat as she remembered wanting him to save her from that hell hole. And he had. She relented, taking his hand and resting her head against his shoulder instead of the glass on the window.
<Shaw> He smiled softly and let her be, considering that a victory for the moment.
<Hope> "Obi went to class," she told him finally.
<Shaw> "Yes, I know. He went to see Jessica yesterday." Which wasn't so surprising, but the conversation with his wife last night had been... informative.
<Hope> She fell quiet for a moment, finally speaking again. "I'm not going to graduate... am I?"
<Shaw> "Why would you not? You have some time before the end of the term."
<Hope> Not bothering to point out she didn't even want to leave the hotel room, let alone the hotel, Hope sighed. "Nevermind."
<Shaw> He wanted to pick at this point, but decided it had best wait. "Michael told Jessica you haven't been eating." Sebastian placed a slight emphasis on the name. He was willing to honor the boy's request, it would just take a bit of adjustment.
<Hope> Hope stared up at him blankly. Michael? Was that one of the detail that she hadn't bothered to learn the name of?
<Shaw> He took her lack of response for avoidance until he caught her expression and tilted his head in question. "You do seem to have lost weight, and while I understand, you hardly have any to spare, little Stark."
<Hope> She blinked at him a few times, mulling that over. Unable to process it entirely, she kept coming back to one point. "Who the hell is Michael?"
<Shaw> His eyebrows met his hairline. Oh, dear. "Shinobi," he said slowly. Well, now would be the perfect time for Drake to appear with coffee, wouldn't it?
<Hope> Oh right. Obi's name before he became Shinobi... Michael Essex. She made a face. Why was Sebastian calling him that now? She'd have to press that point later. She was in the hot seat. "I'm fine."
<Shaw> Ah, deflection on many levels. This he was accustomed to, but he wondered if perhaps there was trouble between the lovebirds. "No one expects you to be fine, love."
<Hope> "Then why is everyone making such a damn fuss?!" she snapped.
<Shaw> "Because recovery involves necessities of life such as eating." He smelled no alcohol at least, which was more than a minor miracle.
<Hope> "I eat just fine," she countered, easing back to her spot on his shoulder.
<Shaw> "Of course," he said in his patented flat baritone.
<Hope> Obi was Michael... and he'd been talking about her to Jess? And telling her that she wasn't eating? She couldn't help but feel betrayed by that. "Just fine," she repeated.
<Shaw> Sebastian gave a noncommittal hum. "Then you wouldn't object to sharing lunch with me, correct?" He watched her from the corner of his eye.
<Hope> "I already ate."
<Shaw> "Oh?" He smirked, eyebrow raised. "And what did you eat?"
<Shaw> That only made his smirk grow into a crooked grin.
<Hope> "So I'm not hungry," she emphasized.
<Shaw> "Well then, at least humor me for some coffee?"
<Hope> "Just... a peppermint," she relented.
<Shaw> "I'm honored." He squeezed her hand and stood, tugging her up.
<Hope> She went, though she was none too happy about it. She had to pause, the sudden change and lack of food causing her to feel slightly dizzy.
<Shaw> He steadied her, watching her with a concerned eye.
<Hope> "Thanks. Stood up too fast."
<Shaw> The corner of his mouth twitched. "You're welcome, little Stark."
<Hope> All the same... she kept his hand. Just in case.
<Shaw> They walked to the small kitchen area, and Sebastian was unsurprised that Drake had retreated. He pulled out a chair for her at the bar.
<Hope> Carefully, Hope eased herself into the chair at the bar, eyes watching him.
<Shaw> It was amusing how closely she was watching him, so he ensured she had something to watch and picked up a mug with a flourish.
<Hope> Unimpressed. Hope slumped on her hand, elbow resting on the bar.
<Shaw> He filled a mug for himself and got one for her despite her protests. Locating her ever-present peppermints wasn't difficult either, so he picked up the bag and brought his spoils back to the bar.
<Hope> Hope ignored the mug and went for a mint, slowly opening the wrapper.
<Shaw> He picked up his own cup and took a whiff, then drank. "Acceptable," he judged.
<Hope> She tried to smile a bit at him. "Yeah. It's not bad."
<Shaw> "Drake has his uses." He smirked and snagged one of her mints.
<Hope> "Sometimes," she did smile a little at that one.
<Shaw> He surveyed her from his seat across the bar, the mint clicking against his teeth as he worked it.
<Hope> "Why are you here?" she asked him finally, looking up.
<Shaw> "To see you. To see how you're doing." He smiled softly, the expression genuine. "Is that so odd?"
<Hope> She shook her head no. No it wasn't odd. She reached out for his hand again. "Thanks."
<Shaw> "You're quite welcome, little Stark." He took her hand and gave it a squeeze. "Have you spoken to your father?"
<Hope> "Texted him. I have to..." Otherwise he might show up.
<Shaw> He hummed. "Probably wise. As oblivious as Tony can be, it is best not to risk the possibility he have a fit of insight during a prolonged conversation."
<Hope> Hope nodded. "Texting is easier." She squeezed his hand a bit, not wanting to let go now that she had him. She sensed a familiar mind enter her power range and she smiled a genuine smile as her link with Shinobi reformed. Relief washed over her both physically and emotionally. It was so, so good to have him back.
<Shaw> "For future reference, if you would like to avoid surprise visits from me you could answer my texts as well." He smirked, noticing her smile.
<Hope> "I didn't want to talk," she reasoned, but sat up straighter.
<Shaw> "Talking is optional, I suppose, but I wanted to ensure you had a pulse, love." He picked up his coffee with his free hand.
<Hope> "Drake would have called you," she pointed out, smirking. "All in a dither, I'm sure."
<Shaw> "For that, I would not fault him," he said with a raised brow and took a sip, squeezing her hand.
<Hope> She snickered a bit, squeezing his hand back. Obi was getting close. She felt lighter, like the weight of her stress melted off at his return. It helped that she had to keep so much back behind her mental walls so as to not overpower him. It helped.
<Shaw> Interested by her sudden change of demeanor, he ran his tongue over his teeth. "I am hungry, love, and of a mind to order something. Are you quite sure you won't join me?"
<Hope> She shook her head no. "I'm fine. Go ahead." She smiled though.
<Shaw> Poker face in place, he sighed internally. "I'm uncertain if I would prefer room service or takeout. Chinese sounds tempting..."
<Hope> "Might offend the staff with take out." She smirked at him. "Like you care."
<Shaw> "Well now it's positively required." He gave her a winning grin.
<Hope> Hope laughed and moved to him, wrapping her arms around him. "Yeah.... yeah it is."
<Shaw> Surprised, he chuckled and returned the hug, first with one arm and then more firmly. Raising a hand, he smoothed it over her hair.
<Hope> That was too much. She nestled down into him, holding onto him tightly.
<Shaw> Smiling, he closed his eyes and held her.
<Shinobi> The elevator dinged and he shifted the backpack on his shoulder, ready to drop it by the door so he could more easily conceal his surprise. When the door slid open, he quickly scanned the suite and the surprise was all his.
<Hope> Maybe some rice wouldn't be so bad. Obi would be home any minute. She'd have to eat anyway. "Maybe... some rice? Fried rice?"
<Shinobi> He put out a hand to stop the door from closing, but took another moment to step into the room.
<Shaw> Hearing the movement, Sebastian looked up at the young man and loosened his hold on Hope. "Yes, rice it is, if that's what you want." The boy had impeccable timing. "Michael," he greeted with a nod. "We were thinking of ordering Chinese, if you'd like something for lunch?"
<Hope> Hope tried not to cringe at the name as she turned to see Obi. Her smile was slow, but wide when she realized what he was carrying. She left Sebastian to cross the room to Shinobi, moving to slide her arms around him instead.
<Shinobi> Too surprised to respond to Sebastian, he dropped his bag and wrapped his arm around Hope, his other hand still full of the sunflower bouquet he'd brought her.
<Shaw> Sebastian smirked and looked down, turning his attention back to his coffee to give them a moment.
<Hope> You're here,. She tightened her grip on him, nestling into his chest. And you brought me flowers?
<Shinobi> And so is he... He couldn't help but look up at Sebastian, irritated, before he relaxed.
<Hope> You're the one who told them I wasn't eating, she pointed out. He was worried.
<Shinobi> I did because I'm worried. Closing his eyes, he bowed his head to kiss the top of hers and brought his other arm around her, flowers and all.
<Hope> She smiled as her heart fluttered. He was worried about her? I'm fine. Better when you're here. You wouldn't believe how annoying Drake was.
<Shinobi> Yes I would. He keeps trying to talk to me. He laughed just a little, shifting the flowers into her line of sight.
<Hope> Her face brightened genuinely, smiling at and for him. "They're beautiful, Obi." She reached to take them from his hand.
<Shinobi> "Just like you, right?" He grinned, pleased at her reaction, and passed them over happily.
<Hope> Did he always lay it on that thick? Hope smirked a little at him and leaned up to steal a soft kiss. "I'm glad you're back," she admitted softly.
<Shinobi> "I missed you." His hand slid into her hair and he pressed another kiss to her lips.
<Hope> "Missed you too," she mumbled against him, lingering just a little.
<Shaw> Smirking into his cup, Sebastian attempted not to listen.
<Shinobi> He closed his eyes and held her in place for a moment, then let go and straightened.
<Hope> Hope turned her attention to her sunflower bouquet, pressing her nose into them and breathing them in. "You remembered." She moved to set them on a nearby table, her fingers lingering on the petals before she let go entirely.
<Shinobi> "Of course I remembered," he said with a laugh, watching her fuss with the flowers before he turned his attention to Sebastian.
<Shaw> Taking his time, Sebastian put down his coffee and stood, smoothing out his suit jacket and holding out a hand for Shinobi to shake.
<Shaw> Shinobi> After a moment, he accepted the hand and nodded. "This is a... surprise."
<Hope> You shouldn't be surprised. Hope pointed out, moving to pick up the cup of coffee that was intended for her, offering it to Shinobi.
<Shinobi> He shot her a curious look. Did she really think he wouldn't be concerned?
<Shaw> The speed of the boy's head snap bode for only one thing and again Sebastian suppressed a smirk.
<Hope> Well you shouldn't. You knew he'd come. She held out the coffee to him again.
<Shinobi> He loves you. One shoulder hitched slightly up and he accepted the coffee with a faint smile. "Thanks."
<Shaw> "Well, I wanted to see how the two of you are getting on," he started, wandering back to the far side of the counter to give them a modicum of space.
<Hope> Yeah... She reclaimed her seat, unable to quite meet Shinobi's eyes. It was still somewhat hard to accept that Sebastian had fully accepted her. "We're fine," Hope answered automatically.
<Shaw> Sebastian hummed. Of course they were. "How was class?"
<Shinobi> Just stopping himself from retorting with a fine of his own, he sighed. "I will need to catch up. I don't really have to, I guess, since it's an audit, but I may as well. It will get me prepared for the summer term."
<Hope> Hope was allowed a moment of peace with the attention off of her. She relaxed in the chair, sinking a bit as she recovered from her energy display for Shinobi. "How many hours are you taking this summer?"
<Shinobi> "I don't know. Six or eight probably. And I still plan to test out of some of the general courses." He shifted his weight, trying not to think about how he may have acquired his previous education.
<Shaw> "Good." Sebastian nodded, giving a slight smile. "And I hear Jessica may join you. I'm pleased you were able to draw her out." His expression became more genuine and he inclined his head at the boy in thanks.
<Hope> Of course Jess would follow them to MIT. Hope couldn't help but feel annoyed by this, though she couldn't blame her. Xavier's was a death sentence. She swallowed and reached for another peppermint.
<Shinobi> He felt the flash of her annoyance and swallowed, giving Hope a sideways glance. "I thought it would do her good to get out of the house."
<Hope> More annoyance. Oh yes. Let's worry about poor little Jess. Everyone worried about poor little Jess. She felt sick. It wasn't fucking fair! She couldn't respond. She chewed the peppermint in lieu of speaking. It'd buy her time at least.
<Shaw> "I believe so," he said, taking another sip of his coffee and aiming a pointed look at Hope. "The first step in recovery is taking a step at all, after all."
<Shinobi> Uncomfortable, he could only agree.
<Hope> How is it that no matter what happened, Jess had a way of making everything all about her. Without really thinking about it, Hope moved to the bar for the scotch. All she'd done was kill a person. That thought surprised her. All she'd done? A shaky hand picked up a glass and set it down on the counter, pouring the amber liquid into it.
<Shaw> Sebastian's eyebrows rose and he stopped his next words mid-formation, watching Hope. Perhaps he'd been too optimistic about the boy's soothing effect.
<Shinobi> Fuck. Feeling the roller coaster of emotions rolling through Hope, he put down his coffee and went to her, stopping behind her and placing both hands on her upper arms. Hey... you don't need that.
<Hope> I do because I have a feeling you're going to keep talking, she snapped, icing the glass and setting the bottle down.
<Shinobi> He wasn't sure how to fix this and bit his lip. I can ask him to leave? Gently, he rubbed her arms.
<Shaw> Was this reaction because they'd discussed Jessica? It was likely, considering their contentious relationship.
<Hope> She took a drink out of spite. Having been so long since she drank, she nearly choked on it, forcing her to drink more. Why don't you go check on Jess some more? The liquid burned her throat, but she knew she'd get used to it. It was better than sober, that was for sure.
<Shinobi> "Hope!" He snatched the glass from her hand, smacking her on the back when she coughed.
<Shaw> Echoing Shinobi's exclamation, he took a step toward them and stopped himself.
<Hope> Coolly, she calculated. Logic dictated that he wasn't giving that glass back. Ass. She bet he'd give it to Jess. That thought made her more pissed off. She iced over another glass and filled that up instead.
<Shinobi> He swore and thumped the mostly empty glass to the table, taking the new one as well.
<Hope> Quickly, she took the discarded glass and downed it. Damn that burned! It took all her willpower to not make a face at all, staring Shinobi down.
<Shinobi> White hot, his temper flared. "Goddammit Hope!" He pushed past her and swept the bar clear with his arm, smashing the glass into the mess before he rounded on her.
<Hope> Hope watched in disbelief, staring first at the liquid and glass on the floor and then at him. The unfairness of it all mixed with her frustration. Tears threatened her eyes. She pushed around him to pick up the little trash can and sank down to the floor, picking up the glass piece by piece.
<Shinobi> "Just leave it!" he snapped, reaching to pull her up.
<Hope> She flinched, dropping the glass in her fingers as she was pulled back to her feet. She couldn't stop the tears anymore, though they fell silently, her gaze anywhere but on him.
<Shinobi> Hope... please... She wouldn't look at him and he tried to take her hands, checking for cuts.
<Shaw> Sebastian cleared his throat, putting down his coffee and moving around them to assess the damage. It would be simpler if he cleaned it up himself, he supposed, than to call to the front desk.
<Hope> Her eyes reluctantly looked up at his face. Her hands were perfectly fine, though they did shake in his.
<Shinobi> Satisfied, he blew out a relieved breath and moved to take her into his arms.
<Hope> The last ounce of resolve broke. She slid her arms around him and sobbed into his chest.
<Shinobi> "I'm sorry," he said, though he wasn't sure what he was apologizing for. Shinobi stroked her hair and rocked them in place. I just don't want you to hurt yourself.
<Shaw> Sebastian bent and carefully picked up the largest shards, depositing them in the small basket.
<Hope> She nodded, not able to speak. Scotch isn't going to hurt me.
<Shinobi> Too much of it will, and you haven't been eating. It'll make you sick. He kissed the crown of her head.
<Shaw> Giving up once he'd stacked all the large pieces in a wet pile that filled the decorative bin, he got up to locate a larger wastebasket and towel and quietly went back to work.
<Shinobi> He watched Sebastian with one eye, surprised the man hadn't interfered.
<Hope> I don't care if I get sick, she argued defiantly.
<Shinobi> I do. He squeezed her more tightly, his tone solemn.
<Hope> That gave her pause, her head tilting up to see his face. She brought a hand to her eyes, wiping away her tears. Of course he would care. She sighed. It was the only way I could handle that discussion.
<Shinobi> About school? He could guess at the other portion, but wasn't going to mention it. Sorry.
<Hope> About one more thing that I have to share with Jess. No wonder all those people complained about having twins. This was like that. It was so not cool.
<Shinobi> He looked down at her curiously. She was really jealous of Jess?
<Hope> Just forget it. She pulled away from him to go for the coffee.
<Shinobi> Finding himself alone, he sighed and dropped into a crouch to inspect the floor.
<Shaw> Sebastian paused in his work to give Shinobi a speculative look, then a faint smile. Women.
<Hope> The thought of actual coffee made her stomach turn. Frustrated, Hope went back to her window seat. It wasn't like it was going to matter anyway. She wasn't going to graduate. What did it matter if Jess was at the school she was supposed to go to?
<Shinobi> "I can get finish cleaning it up," he offered quietly. It was his temper that had caused this, after all.
<Shaw> "No, I've got it." Sebastian looked over his shoulder at Hope drifting by and turned back to Shinobi. "You should go see to your Stark."
<Hope> She found her knees, pulling them back to her chest. Everyone around her was recovered and going on with life and she was just... stuck. She didn't want to be stuck, but she didn't want to go back to the way it was either.
<Shinobi> Surprised, he just stared at Sebastian for a moment, until the man nodded. Uncomfortable, he mumbled his thanks and got up to go to Hope. "Hey..."
<Hope> "I don't want to talk about it," she tried heading him off. She didn't know how to talk about it.
<Shinobi> "Okay." He sighed and ran both hands through his hair, then realized he was still wearing his jacket and took it off, tossing it onto the seat.
<Hope> Hope took it, placing it over her front like a blanket.
<Shinobi> He watched her with a bemused smile and sat down beside her, admiring her profile.
<Hope> "Sorry," she muttered.
<Shinobi> "It's okay. I'm sorry I lost my temper." He leaned back against the window and willed her to look at him.
<Hope> She did glance up at him, resisting the urge to shrug. "It's fine."
<Shinobi> He gave her a lopsided smile and moved a little closer, opening his arms in invitation.
<Hope> Hope hesitated, debating that before finally moving sideways into his arms.
<Shinobi> He shuffled to make them more comfortable and kissed her through her hair. Damn she was wearing a lot of clothes, and now his jacket too.
<Hope> Couldn't she have gone to Harvard? Hope whined at him, snuggling closer.
<Shinobi> He blinked and held her, trying to sort that out. I don't think she's really decided to go anywhere for sure. We were just talking about it and I said she could take some classes with me if she wanted.
<Shinobi> He blinked and held her, trying to sort that out. I don't think she's really decided to go anywhere for sure. We were just talking about it and I said she could take some classes with me if she wanted.
<Hope> That's exactly what pissed Hope off about Jess: how she made a million excuses and had to have her hand held before she did anything. Then that left Hope as the bitch for not holding her hand and expecting the woman to actually be an adult. She sighed in frustration. Well good then I guess.
<Shinobi> Okay? He smiled faintly despite the situation, because it really was confusing.
<Hope> It was then that Hope remembered the glass. Quickly she was up and moving back to Sebastian. "I can help with the glass."
<Shaw> "It's done, love." Sebastian was mopping up the last of the scotch and gave her an appraising once-over.
<Shinobi> Now alone at the window seat, he frowned down at himself. Had he done something?
<Hope> "I'm sorry..." she ran a hand through her stringy red hair. "I should have helped sooner."
<Shaw> "Not to worry." he smirked. "I'm sure you can make it up to me."
<Hope> She smiled, just a little, but a smile. "Maybe."
<Shinobi> He watched them for just long enough. Right. Of course. Getting up, he went into the bedroom and shut the door.
<Hope> Hope startled at the door slam. What now?! Slowly, she looked back at her dad. "Maybe he shouldn't have stayed here."
<Shaw> Sebastian looked at her curiously, though he supposed he had a good idea why the boy had huffed off. "Where would he stay?"
<Hope> "With you and Jess." Curiously, she looked through the bar to see if he had left anything unsmashed.
<Shaw> "I'm not sure he would feel comfortable there," he said, finishing up with his cleaning. "With me, at any rate." Sebastian straightened and watched Hope. "And he wants to be with you."
<Hope> That's why he was hiding in the bedroom, right? Because he wanted to be with her? She scoffed. "Right."
<Shaw> He tilted his head. "Yes, I am right."
<Hope> She glanced at him, then looked away to the bedroom door. It clicked. So he could be jealous about Sebastian, but she couldn't have issues with Jess? Another flash of frustration washed over her. "Why don't you go ahead and order lunch?"
<Shaw> "I will order your rice, and something for him as well." He dropped the trash can by the elevator with a rattle. Smirking to himself, he pulled his phone from his pocket. Perhaps he'd see if Drake wanted something...
<Hope> Hope sighed. With Sebastian dealt with, she moved to the bedroom door. She paused, leaning her forehead against it. Can I come in?
<Shinobi> He stood at the window, staring out at the city with his hands in his pockets. It is your suite, he pointed out.
<Hope> Our, she corrected him, sliding through the door.
<Shinobi> Not wanting to argue the point, he closed his eyes and leaned his forehead against the glass.
<Hope> She moved to him, sliding her arms around his waist from behind.
<Shinobi> It felt good, and he swallowed down the lump in his throat, covering her hands with one of his.
<Hope> "Obi..." she spoke softly against him, nuzzling his back. "Talk to me..."
<Shinobi> "Hope..." He squeezed her hands, not opening his eyes. As real as it felt, there was still that horrible doubt. She'd always known he was just a copy.
<Hope> She waited patiently, the side of her face pressed against his back. She tried to put a name to his emotions, something to help them both understand them.
<Shinobi> She wasn't going away, and she wanted to talk about it. Now she wanted to talk, about his issues, but never hers.
<Hope> "Please, Obi," she half begged him.
<Shinobi> "I'm not him, you know... I'm just some copy, so I'll never be-" He cut off when his voice caught and bowed his head, clenching his fist in his pocket.
<Hope> "You're not-" she cut herself off, processing what he was really saying. She was somewhere between amused, furious, and baffled now. Now wasn't the time for her own thoughts on that subject matter though, no matter how amusing. No, she needed to figure out what he needed. "Obi... do you want to be him?"
<Shinobi> "No!" He pulled away from her to turn around, needing to see her face. "But... do you want me to be him?"
<Hope> "You do realize I call him dad... right?" She reached her hand up, stroking his cheek. "I love him... because he's family. He's as much of a dad to me as Tony is, maybe moreso at times. But I love you and want to be with you. Didn't I just agree to spend my life with you?"
<Shinobi> Looking down, he nodded. Even with their link, it was hard for him to tell what was going on in her head. Did he just believe her because he wanted to? Did she believe it herself?
<Hope> She leaned up, kissing him softly. "You're not a copy. You are so much more than that."
<Shinobi> He wanted to return that kiss, but found himself unable to relax. Yes, he supposed he was. He was half Oyama, too.
<Hope> She immediately noticed the lack of the kiss return. That, coupled with that thought... she pulled back.
<Shinobi> Shit. "Hope," he started, reaching for her hand again. "I'm sorry... but it's... true."
<Hope> Her hand jerked back, moving to her chest. "I know who you are. Do you?"
<Shinobi> His attention was on her hand, his eyes slow to track up to her face. Fear. It had taken some time, but he'd identified what he felt from her, finally. She was afraid... of him? Obi swallowed, convulsively. "No..."
<Hope> She was scared of him. His outburst and identifying as being an Oyama had certainly gotten to her, but that wasn't who he was. She knew that. She did. She swallowed hard. She was supposed to support him through this. She could do that. Hope dropped her hand, reaching out for his again. "Then we need to discover that." And fast.
<Shinobi> He took her hand in both of his and raised it to his mouth, pressing his lips to her skin. I'm sorry. She hadn't been afraid of him in so long. Once he had enjoyed it - reveled in ways to irritate her and keep her off balance, but now, it just made him sick.
<Hope> She felt sick too. And dizzy. She tightened her grip on his hands, easing herself down onto the bed. "I want you Obi," she emphasized.
<Shinobi> That was when he realized the sickness he felt wasn't all due to his emotional state. "Hope, are you okay?" He sat down as well, working a hand free to brush her hair back from her face.
<Hope> She nodded, sliding her arms around him and holding him close this time. "I'm okay."
<Shinobi> Like hell she was, but he just sighed and pulled her into his lap. "I love you." I'm not like them, not anymore. He hoped she could see that, because he couldn't take her fear.
<Hope> Hope nestled into the crook of his neck, holding onto him. "I love you too," she told him, closing her eyes. I know you aren't. I trust you, Obi. With my life.
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