Timelined after Stolen Moments
<Shinobi> As distractions went, it was an excellent one. He pressed a kiss to her bare belly, raising his head to look up at Hope with a smile.
<Hope> Hope sighed and ran her fingers through his hair, smiling back down at him. It was still weird to be naked in front of him, but the things he did distracted her from that.
<Shinobi> Unable to resist her, he moved back up her body, brushing his against her, and captured her lips for a quick kiss. I love you.
<Hope> Hope wrapped her arms around him, sliding her fingers through his hair as she kissed him. I love you too, my Obi.
<Shinobi> He grinned into the kiss. My Ariel. All about making up for lost time, he broke their kiss with a nip and planted soft, open-mouthed kisses over her jawline and down her neck. He'd missed her so much. Missed this.
<Hope> She grinned right back, keeping him close to her as he started his kisses. As long as she didn't think about being naked, she enjoyed everything he was doing. Her fingers played with his hair, never growing tired of that.
<Shinobi> He kept moving, ever downward, and sought out her hand to lace their fingers together. If it was true they may not have long together, he wanted to make every moment count. She would remember him, he hoped.
<Hope> She took his hand, holding onto it tightly. She wanted to make every moment count just as much. She whispered his name, laying her mass of red hair back onto the pillow.
<Shinobi> Brushing his nose and lips over her hipbone, he heard her. "I'm here," he responded, just as quietly.
<Shaw> Sebastian paused in the hall by the elevator, tilting his head and smirking.
<Hope> He was there... where he belonged. She closed her eyes, smiling and relaxing. "I like that," she whispered again.
<Shinobi> "Good." He tightened his fingers on hers and kissed her, moving again.
<Shaw> Pushing the cart to the door, he didn't need to pause to listen this time. Without preamble, he twisted the knob and went in. "Well, well... and a good morning it is, for some of us."
<Hope> Hope shouted in surprise, her free hand trying to shield her chest. "Don't you knock!?"
<Shaw> "Knock? Whatever for?" He gave her his most charming grin, eyes on hers. "It is my house, after all."
<Shinobi> He jerked upright, scrambling for a sheet and covering Hope, only then turning a glare on Sebastian. "What the fuck! It might be your house, but this is her room and you could have some respect instead of being a raging asshole about it!"
<Hope> And she was suddenly very aware that she was naked. With a flick of her finger, the rest of the covers flew up to cover them as well. "Don't you have other lives to ruin today? We're busy."
<Shaw> With that, he snagged the cart with a long reach and rolled it inside, the right back wheel squeaking in the silence.
<Shinobi> "Are you okay?" He wrapped a protective arm around Hope, uninterested in Sebastian's antics. If he'd managed to put her back in her shell...
<Shaw> "Oh, but I'm not ruining lives, today, I'm saving them." He pursed his lips, considering this. "Well, that's a tad dramatic, but at the very least, I'm preventing them from setbacks."
<Hope> Hope focused on the warm arm around her. I'm okay. She tried, distracted by Sebastian and... hey! "What are you doing with my project?!"
<Shinobi> Okay, good. He's a jackass. It worked by way of reassurance he figured. Only then did he turn his attention to the cart. "Your project?"
<Shaw> "Well, as you won't come to the school to work in it, I brought the school to you." He smirked. "You would like to graduate, yes?"
<Hope> "Yeah I'd also like you to not walk in on me. So..." she trailed off, glaring at him.
<Shaw> "This seemed the most expedient way, little Stark." His amused gaze flicked between Hope and Shinobi - Michael. "There's no way to tell when the two of you might come up for air, so to speak." He smirked at Michael.
<Shinobi> His eyes narrowed.
<Hope> "Knocking also works," she pointed out. "Or leaving it outside the door. Or just graduating me. All are more acceptable alternatives."
<Shaw> Sebastian's answering smile was bland. "Now, it would hardly be ethical to simply graduate you without completion of the coursework."
<Hope> "Because ethics are your biggest concern."
<Shinobi> He snorted, in complete agreement.
<Shaw> "Tsk. I'm wounded."
<Hope> Hope rolled her eyes at him. "Are you done then?"
<Shaw> "No," he said after a moment's contrived thought. "I could, of course, simply pass you."
<Shinobi> "Yeah, but why pass up this golden opportunity to waste our time?"
<Hope> "Yeah why do the nice thing?" Hope rolled and pressed her face against Shinobi. How much time did they even have? A week? A year?
<Shinobi> He held her closer, sensing her unease.
<Shaw> "It's not that it would be the nice thing, love, more that you would benefit more from the learning experience of completing your project."
<Hope> She had to hold it together. She couldn't cry on him. She'd made the deal with herself that she could fall apart after his death. It took several seconds for her breathing to calm again. "The project will be there."
<Shaw> Sebastian's eyebrow arched. "There until when? The stars align properly?"
<Hope> She couldn't answer him, but she did manage to look up at Shinobi.
<Shinobi> He closed his eyes, bowing his head to rest against hers. Don't think about that. He's right... you need to graduate and think about your future. Her future without him, he thought with a swallow.
<Hope> Hope stroked his cheek softly, positive that if he cried she would too. There was no future without him. Who needs to graduate anyway?
<Shinobi> You do. He bit his lip to keep himself in check.
<Shaw> Sebastian watched all this with growing concern. Why were they so very quiet?
<Hope> I can do that whenever, she dismissed the thought, snuggling into him, swallowing hard.
<Shaw> Of course he had his hunches, but was this really about his recent conversation with his faux son? "Michael," he finally said, voice quiet.
<Shinobi> It took a moment for him to look up. "Yeah, what?" His voice wasn't as steady as he'd like and he brushed his fingers through Hope's hair, holding her tight.
<Hope> Hope closed her eyes and steadied herself in his arms, comforted by the sound of his voice.
<Shaw> "Perhaps this isn't the best time, but I believe it's already on your minds anyway." He paused, gauging their reaction.
<Hope> Hope swallowed hard, touching Obi's face gently. "What, dad?"
<Shaw> "Have you given any thought to what we discussed yesterday?" He looked between the two.
<Shinobi> He met Hope's eyes, staying there instead of looking at Sebastian.
<Hope> "Thought about what?" she asked, her eyes back on Shinobi's.
<Shaw> Perhaps he had miscalculated and Hope didn't know? Doubtful, however. "Good," he prompted. "And?"
<Shinobi> "Yeah," he said, swallowing thickly. "I have."
<Hope> Hope gave Obi a questioning look, not quite grasping what they were talking about.
<Shinobi> Now, he looked away from her and up at Sebastian. "I want to do whatever it takes."
<Hope> She buried her face into his chest, pulling him closer. Of course. Of course that's what they were talking about.
<Shaw> "Good." Sebastian let out a breath and nodded, smiling grimly. "Well, you have the choice of several doctors. Do you know where you would like to start in choosing one?"
<Shinobi> "I... don't know." He tangled his fingers in Hope's hair again. "What do you think, Hope?"
<Hope> How was she supposed to even know? She stammered a bit, trying to voice that and stopped. She did know someone! Or know of someone. "Maximoff. Pietro's wife. She... she was doing something with genetics. She might be able to help or know someone who can.
<Shaw> Sebastian nodded. "Yes, she and Pietro were on the short list to start. Doctor McCoy as well, if you'd like."
<Shinobi> "Wasn't Maximoff's father... well, let's just say I knew his work." Or, had been programmed with that knowledge, most likely. He still hated it - this bizarre existence.
<Hope> "Illyana and Pietro are about the nicest people you can find. Dr. McCoy is too. I feel comfortable with them... But I understand if you don't."
<Shaw> "Pietro is a far cry from his father, and what's more, he assisted me greatly in reshaping the Hellfire Club. I do trust him, and his wife, by extension." He glanced at Hope. "And your Doctor McCoy is also quite brilliant, and most ethical."
<Hope> Hope glanced up to see Shinobi's face, touching it softly. "And they won't do anything to you without your consent and knowledge."
<Shinobi> He closed his eyes, tipping his cheek into her hand. I don't want to leave you. I'll do whatever it takes.
<Shaw> "Well, I'll give them a call and see what we can schedule, yes? The sooner the better, considering."
<Hope> I don't want you to leave me either, she swallowed hard, stroking his cheek with her thumb. "As soon as possible," she told Sebastian.
<Shaw> "Considering the threat on the horizon, I agree." He reached into his pocket and pulled out his phone, searching for Pietro's contact information.
<Hope> "Now if you don't mind..." Hope waved her finger and the door started to close slowly.
<Shaw> "I still expect you to get to work on your project, you realize." He found the number and fired off a text.
<Hope> Hope shut the door faster. "I still expect you to KNOCK."
<Shinobi> When the door closed he blew out a shaky breath and looked at Hope.
<Shaw> He stepped back from the door lest it flatten his nose. "And it's still my house, love," he chuckled.
<Hope> Hope locked the door, sticking her tongue out at the door. "I'll tell your wife next time!" She turned her attention back to Shinobi. Well that mood was gone. She pressed her forehead against his, breathing him in.
<Shinobi> He hooked one of her red curls and wound it around and through his fingers. "It'll be okay," he tried.
<Hope> Her own breath was shaky, her grip on him tightening. "I can't... without you. I can't." There was no point without him.
<Shinobi> He swallowed. "Yeah, you can. You're strong." And she'd been through it before. This wasn't fair.
<Hope> "No I'm not!" She moved to hide her face against him, holding on tightly. This was why she didn't like attachments. Never again. Never the fuck again!
<Shinobi> "You are." He moved back, catching her chin and forcing her to look at him. "You are."
<Hope> "No," she argued, but looked into his eyes. That made it ten times more difficult to keep her emotions in check. "You're my soulmate... it's not supposed to end like this."
<Shinobi> She'd said that before, but now... he compressed his lips and just nodded, unable to speak. His hand slid over her jawline and through her hair to the back of her head, cradling her against him. For the first time, he believed her, and it made this so much worse.
<Hope> One single sob was all that escaped. She swallowed, burying the rest. She was not going to spend what time they had left crying about it. She closed her eyes, counting her breaths as she nestled into him, clinging to him. "I just hope he's wrong."
<Shinobi> "So do I." He closed his eyes and kissed the top of her head, lingering there. She smelled so good. Always. Taking a deep breath, he licked his lips and hoped his voice didn't crack. "I want you to be happy..."
<Hope> "I am when I'm with you," she mumbled against him, kissing his chest.
<Shinobi> "You're not right now," he pointed out.
<Hope> "I was before dad came in," she pointed out, smiling to herself.
<Shinobi> He laughed softly. "Yeah. Me too." After a moment, the smile faded and he kissed her crown again. "But you know what I mean, Hope. If he's right..."
<Hope> "One day at a time," she cut in. She couldn't handle more than that.
<Shinobi> Experimentally, he shared his feelings with her through their link, hoping she understood. Someday, he wanted her to be able to move on.
<Hope> "No." The word slipped out as she pressed against him. She wouldn't. Not this time. Not after this.
<Shinobi> "Please, baby." He didn't want to press her too far, but she was scaring him, more than the idea of his own fate did at the moment.
<Hope> She forced a smile, looking into his eyes and stroking his hair back from his face. "You just focus on fighting. On whatever it takes for you to live. I'll worry about me."
<Shinobi> "You know it's not that easy." He hesitated for a moment, then tilted his head and kissed her.
<Hope> She returned the kiss, fingers in his hair again. No... but if you're okay, I will be too.
<Shinobi> He broke the kiss, regretfully, catching her chin between forefinger and thumb again. "Hope."
<Hope> She met his gaze, staring back into his eyes. "Obi."
<Shinobi> "Promise me," he started, searching her face and her mind, to his best effort. "Promise me you won't hurt yourself, if... if."
<Hope> "I'm not going to go suicidal," she told him softly. "I won't hurt myself." There just wouldn't be much point to living.
<Shinobi> He closed his eyes. "Promise me."
<Hope> "I promise you, baby... I'm not going to hurt myself," she told him, closing her eyes again as she pressed her forehead against his.
<Shinobi> "Okay." Obi breathed out a sigh of relief. "Okay, good." He moved just enough to kiss her. "I want you to be okay without me. But I'm not going to leave you."
<Hope> "Could you? If it were me... could you?" She asked him, pulling back enough to see his expression.
<Shinobi> He couldn't meet her eyes. "That's different."
<Hope> "No. It's not. It's exactly the same."
<Shinobi> "It's not the same, Hope." Irritation was enough to allow him to stare her down. "And you know why."
<Hope> She glared at him. "It is the same. And I don't want to argue."
<Shinobi> He sighed. "Neither do I."
<Hope> "Then let's not. Just... just hold me. Please."
<Shinobi> Obi slid both arms around her and laid back, bringing her with him and settling them among the pillows of their bed. If their positions were reversed, he wouldn't be able to make the promise he'd asked of her, because he would join her in a heartbeat.
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