Timelined the day after Tainted
<Shinobi> After Sebastian went on to the new garage, Obi found himself alone. Shockingly, the man had been almost sympathetic - a sentiment he still wasn't sure he trusted. He's told Sebastian he was sure he needed time to think, but now he wasn't so sure it was good to do it alone.
<Shinobi> And how could he tell Hope about this? Not yet anyway. They'd just been getting back to something more normal and she'd told him how happy she was to spend her life with him. How could he shatter that?
<Shinobi> In Japan, when they'd told him the truth, the old man had spiced the story with all the extra horrors. Clones are not made to last, you see. He could still hear Oyama's laugh. You are a tool. You are made to be used, then you are tossed aside.
<Shinobi> Wandering the house, his feet took him to Miriam's nursery and then her crib. She was almost able to sit on her own now, and she leaned against the side of the crib, munching on a toy. After a moment, she looked up at Shinobi and blinked with wide green eyes. There was a line of drool between her lips and the bright toy ladybug.
<Hope> Hope had spent a great part of her day texting David about how awful Viper was. At some point Shinobi and Sebastian had been talking, so she had been careful to avoid that. A quick sweep told her they were no longer together. Yet... Shinobi wasn't back. Intrigued, Hope sat up on her bed.
<Shinobi> Miriam squealed and dropped the toy, raising both arms toward him. Despite his mood, he smiled a little and reached into the crib, lifting the girl gently.
<Hope> She shouldn't go find him... she shouldn't. It was nosy and rude. He knew where she was. She should give him his privacy. Hope lay back on their bed and smiled a bit. He hadn't told her to leave him alone though. She got up to go search.
<Shinobi> If he was Sebastian's clone, Miriam was almost his, after a fashion. It would be as close as he would ever get. Swallowing hard, he held her close, rubbing her back and talking to her softly.
<Shinobi> Sebastian told him they needn't define their relationship, saying he didn't want to pressure him into any decisions. He wanted him to be his own man. More and more, Obi thought he wanted to define it. After all, he'd believed Sebastian was his father for years. So, if Sebastian was his father, Miriam was his sister. "Hey, sis," he said.
<Hope> Hope began on the ground floor. She lingered in front of the basement steps and shuddered. NOPE! If he was down there, he was on his own. She searched the ground floor instead.
<Shinobi> He should enjoy having a family while he could, right? Shielding against Hope was strange, but right now, if he saw her, he wasn't sure he could control himself. "Oh, Miriam... I promised her a life together..." Closing his eyes, he nuzzled the little girl.
<Hope> After a systematic search of the house, Hope spotted him on the last floor she would have ever looked. She moved to the doorway, staying outside the nursery. Miriam.
<Shinobi> She smelled good, like some kind of wash and laundry detergent, and just... new. "You're lucky," he informed her softly.
<Hope> Transfixed, Hope stayed where she was, watching him with Miriam. She couldn't speak, couldn't think. All she could do was stare.
<Shinobi> He sighed, moving toward the rocking chair with the baby. At least he wasn't alone now.
<Hope> She swallowed the lump in her throat, watching him still. It wasn't Miriam's fault that that would never be them.
<Shinobi> It wasn't until he sat down that he saw her and stilled. "Hope..."
<Hope> She gave him a bit of a sad smile from her spot at the doorway. "I can go," she offered gently.
<Shinobi> He tried to tell her no, but his voice broke and he just shook his head. "Stay," he said after clearing his throat.
<Hope> She nodded, but couldn't bring herself to step further into the nursery yet. She searched his face for clues, not getting much through their link.
<Shinobi> "You don't have to, if you don't want..." He knew how she'd been around Miriam before, but now that he saw Hope he felt like he needed them both.
<Hope> "I know," she told him softly, but stayed where she was. For once, words escaped her. What was she supposed to say?
<Shinobi> He sighed and bowed his head, holding onto Miriam. The baby babbled and played with his hair, grabbing a fistful to pull.
<Hope> That made Hope smile, swallowing another lump. "She likes you."
<Shinobi> "Apparently so." He tried to untangle her fingers, but gave up, just enduring it. "I like her."
<Hope> "Well that's a good thing," Hope told him, smiling a bit more.
<Shinobi> "That I like her, or that she likes me?" He looked up at her with an answering smile. Miriam had quite a grip and he winced.
<Hope> "Yes." Hope gave him for an answer, smirking at his wince.
<Shinobi> His mouth quirked in response. "Help? Maybe?"
<Hope> "You are so totally on your own for this," Hope informed him, not stepping a foot into that nursery.
<Shinobi> He laughed, but couldn't shake his head. "Okay, Miriam, this is up to us," he said, working to loosen her grip.
<Hope> Eventually, Hope started laughing as she watched him struggle.
<Shinobi> "Thank you, so much." He smirked and grabbed a toy, finally distracting the baby. Success, at last. He settled Miriam in his lap and let her gum the toy.
<Hope> "I told you.... worst girlfriend ever," she reminded him, smirking.
<Shinobi> "She doesn't bite, you know. She doesn't even have teeth." He bent his head to watch her. "I guess that's what she's doing there though... trying to grow them."
<Hope> Hope just stared at him. Did he think that was the problem?
<Shinobi> No, he did not, but he looked up at her with a sad smile. "If we're staying here, you should at least try."
<Hope> That got her to raise an eyebrow at him. She should, should she?
<Shinobi> He closed his eyes. "Try, for me?"
<Hope> A mix of anger and anxiety flooded her. That was not fair. That was so not fair it wasn't funny. She debated on her answer.
<Shinobi> Pressing his lips together, he let out a shuddering breath.
<Hope> "That's not fair," she finally got out.
<Shinobi> "No, I know." Miriam was distracted now and he got up, placing her back into her crib and staying there, hands braced on the rail as he tried to keep control.
<Hope> "Then why would you say that?" she asked, more desperate than anything else.
<Shinobi> "I just... I'm sorry." He drew in a deep breath, then another. How could he tell her?
<Hope> "Why?" she pressed, keeping her voice soft. She wanted to go to him... move to him and wrap her arms around him. Something was clearly wrong, and she had no idea what. "I thought we were done hiding shit from each other." The words slipped out before she could stop them.
<Shinobi> He stiffened. "Yeah. You're right."
<Hope> She waited for him to continue, to explain what was going on.
<Shinobi> "Have you noticed the headaches I've been getting?"
<Hope> She had to blink, caught off-guard by that one. "Well... yeah."
<Shinobi> "Why would I get headaches when I have this healing thing right now?" Too bad it wasn't stronger.
<Hope> "You aren't fully healed," she pointed out.
<Shinobi> "I am." He swallowed and turned around to face her. "Sebastian... he..." Fuck, he couldn't do this. Not with her looking at him like that.
<Hope> "What do you mean you are?" She took one single step into the nursery. "Obi... just... just tell me," she pleaded with him.
<Shinobi> "Oyama told me clones aren't made to last," he said softly, looking down at her feet instead of at her face.
<Hope> "And you believed him?"
<Shinobi> "Sebastian just told me the same thing."
<Hope> Hope just stared at him again. Did she believe it? Was that all there was? "What does that have to do with headaches?"
<Shinobi> "I get headaches when my eyes blur out."
<Hope> She just wasn't seeing the connection. "Your scar still isn't gone. You aren't fully healed."
<Shinobi> "Sebastian said I need tests." He didn't want to be this far from her anymore, so he went to the door and nearly tackled her. "When I told him about my eyes he said I needed them soon."
<Hope> "Then we'll get you tested," she told him calmly, holding onto him as tightly as she could. "And we'll get you whatever you need."
<Shinobi> "Apparently, if my genes aren't stable, there may not be anything anyone can do." He buried his face in her hair. "I promised you our whole lives... I'm sorry, Hope... I'm so sorry."
<Hope> "You're not dying," she argued stubbornly, pounding a fist into his shoulder. "You aren't dying," she repeated... but the thought of losing him now got to her. She lost it, burying her face against him and trying hard not to cry. It was a hopeless battle.
<Shinobi> "I don't want to leave you." He held her tightly, feeling his own tears fall. "He said he'd do everything he could... I don't think he's lying."
<Hope> He would whether he wanted to or not, but Hope kept that to herself. Instead she clung to him, savoring the way he felt and smelled. "This doesn't change anything," she whispered to him. "However long... I'm still yours."
<Shinobi> "I don't deserve you." He sniffed. "You don't deserve this. Why can't we just be happy?"
<Hope> "We are happy," she whispered to him, resting her head on his chest.
<Shinobi> He laughed, the sound a little crazed. Oh yes, this was happiness. What a horrific joke. "I don't know what to do..."
<Hope> Hope thought about that, really thought about that. What would she want to do were it reversed? "We live."
<Shinobi> Obi held onto her, breathing her in and forcing himself to calm. "Okay," he said quietly, taking her chin and urging her to look up at him. He cupped her face in his hand. "Okay."
<Hope> Her eyes found his, needing very little urging. Despite the fresh tears that threatened her eyes, Hope tried to keep them at bay for him. "Together," she emphasized. Every moment now was precious. It could be their last. No more stupid fights. No more jealousy. There wasn't time.
<Shinobi> He nodded. "Together." Leaning in, he hesitated for just a moment, then tilted his head and kissed her.
<Hope> She leaned up, meeting him in the kiss. Her grip on him lessened a bit to a more comfortable, though still tight, hold. No, there was no time for anything other than enjoying her life with him while she had it.
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