Timelined a day or two after Reassurances
<Shinobi> It didn't look anything like the lab where they'd been held, but it still made him more than uncomfortable when he walked into the school's medical facility. He clenched Hope's hand tightly.
<Hope> Mindful not to wince at his tight grip, Hope tried to give Shinobi what she hoped was a reassuring smile. It's going to be alright.
<Illyana> Glancing up from her work, Illyana smiled as they entered the medlab. "Ahhh, hello. I'm Dr. Maximoff." She moved to greet Shinobi and offered her hand to shake.
<Jessica> Jess followed Hope and Shinobi into the medlab but hung back a little bit to give them some room and also so she could be close to the door.
<Shaw> Sebastian brought up the rear of their party, nearly bumping into Jessica. He knew she was still nervous, and rested his hand on the small of her back, watching the children with the doctor for now.
<Shinobi> The smile he gave Hope was more of a grimace and he worked to smooth his expression when he shook the doctor's hand with his free one. "Michael Shaw. It's nice to meet you."
<Illyana> Smiling, Illyana nodded and greeted the rest of the party. "Why don't you come on in and have a seat?" She moved aside so they could get to the chairs by her desk.
<Hope> Hope squeezed Shinobi's hand back, trying to be calm for the both of them.
<Jessica> Jess wrapped her arms around Sebastian for some security and nuzzled his shoulder.
<Shaw> He sent her a surge of reassurance and returned the hug, then led them to the chairs. "Thank you for seeing us on such short notice, Illyana."
<Shinobi> Nodding stiffly, he waited for Hope to sit. Unfortunately he had to release her hand for it and he swallowed.
<Hope> Hope took her seat, holding out her hand for Obi again once she was seated. "Right. Thanks," she finally spoke up.
<Illyana> She waved them off as she took her own seat. "That's what I'm here for, isn't it?"
<Jessica> Jess sat beside Sebastian, carefully near the door.
<Shinobi> He took Hope's hand again, sliding their chairs closer together. "Yeah, thank you," he echoed.
<Shaw> Sebastian gave Jessica a faint smile at her choice of seat. "Still, it's most appreciated, since this is a somewhat... complicated an unusual situation, yes?"
<Illyana> Smiling, Illyana nodded. "An understatement. I will do all I can to help and find out as much as we can."
<Hope> Hope laced their fingers together, finally getting just a little nervous herself.
<Shaw> "Thank you, love." He looked over at Hope and Shinobi, then back to Illyana. "I confess, I don't know quite where to begin."
<Pietro> "Wherever you like," Pietro commented as he stepped into the room, "Apologies for being late, there was a tiny fire..." he bent to press a kiss to Illyana's forehead.
<Illyana> Nodding, she started typing something on her computer, pulling up certain files when Pietro appeared. She smiled up at him. "I will need some tissue samples to run different tests with. Really, until I see what we're working with, I can't give much advice."
<Shinobi> Tissue samples. He knew this was coming, yet he had to work to crush the surge of panic.
<Hope> Hope cringed visibly, not able to accommodate that rush of fear.
<Illyana> "Just a little blood, not much," Illyana assured them, catching Hope's face.
<Pietro> Micro expressions were Pietro's specialty and he frowned a little bit at Shaw-kid and Hope's reaction confirmed it, "She's a pro, you won't even feel it."
<Shaw> "As I mentioned, I've had extensive blood testing completed, as has SHIELD, when he was in their custody." He nodded in greeting to Pietro, standing to shake his hand. "That was how our unique genetic relationship was discovered, after all."
<Shinobi> He wasn't even listening to Sebastian now. Instead, he was fighting not to slide into the memory of Arnim Zola bending over him.
<Illyana> She just smiled. "I'm sure they did their best."
<Hope> Hope tried to move into Shinobi's gaze so he could see her.
<Pietro> "It might be helpful to have those results as a baseline, if you can get your hands on them again," his gaze slid to Illyana as he returned the handshake.
<Shaw> "Of course." He chided himself for not thinking of it sooner and slid his phone from his inner jacket pocket to tap out the request. "The general finding was of course that he's my clone, though he also carries DNA from Yuriko Oyama. There is only one known sample of her DNA on record, and unfortunately it's quite old."
<Shinobi> Slowly, his eyes tracked to Hope's face, but he didn't see her, instead sliding back slightly in the seat.
<Illyana> "Clone with DNA splicing. Interesting. Interesting." Illyana leaned back in her chair, thinking.
<Hope> Hope pulled his hand to her hair. Obi...
<Pietro> "Well... you're at least talking to the right people to help. DNA splicing is something I have knowledge of..." even if he hated the reasons why.
<Shaw> "Indeed." He smirked at Pietro. "Those records should be transferred shortly." After a quick glance at the children, who seemed to be occupied, he continued. "More recently, they both were... acquired by the Oyama clan. I have no access to any records from that time."
<Hope> Obi. Hope tried again, more firmly.
<Illyana> Illyana glanced to her husband for that one. She knew that name.
<Pietro> He frowned and nodded, "Well we can work with what we have here..." he glanced at Illyana, "Though... getting a less degraded sample of the other contributor would be helpful." And he'd been thinking about it since Yuriko's mention.
<Illyana> "Sounds like a good task for you," Illyana smiled at him warmly.
<Pietro> "It does a bit.... got an address?" he could be there and back faster than anyone.
<Shaw> Sebastian raised a brow at Pietro, then smirked at Illyana and turned to his phone again. "Oh, I'm certain I can manage that much."
<Jessica> The phone's appearance again distracted Jess from her own thoughts about how much scarier the medlab looked these days and her gaze drifted to Hope and Michael. Something was off... she shifted her chair a little closer and leaned to tap him very gently on the shoulder, "Michael? You okay?"
<Shinobi> He jumped from the sudden contact, not stifling his strangled shout in time.
<Jessica> Jess withdrew her hand, "Sorry..."
<Hope> Hope shot Jess a nasty look. Why couldn't she just mind her own damn business? Obi. It's Hope...
<Shaw> Sebastian paused, looking at them in concern. "Shinobi?"
<Shinobi> Belatedly, he phased to escape the threat, backing up partway into the chair.
<Hope> Hope wanted to choke Sebastian, but she pressed that urge down. Instead she focused on the best memory of Shinobi she had. She picked the snowed in, with them measuring the snowbank with bananas, and projected that to his mind, pushing it over whatever he was seeing.
<Illyana> Sitting up a bit, Illyana looked on nervously. "Is he alright?" she asked softly.
<Jessica> Jess shot Sebastian a glare, sort of like a visual choking. "It's hard to say..."
<Shaw> "He, ah, underwent conditioning when SHIELD lost track of him and William Stryker used him as part of his program." Sebastian took a step toward them, debating if he needed to insert himself between Hope and Shinobi.
<Hope> Hope continued to project. Them measuring with the five bananas... the kisses and selfies that followed.
<Shinobi> At first, he'd fought the memory. It couldn't be real. Most of his memories weren't, after all. Hope. Yet this one was, and he relived it with her. The photos had been on his phone until the day Yurei Oyama had taken them.
<Shinobi> He kicked the chair backward out of his way so he could solidify.
<Jessica> Jess yelped and dodged the chair, pulling her legs up into her seat.
<Hope> Hope got to her feet, not taking her eyes off of him. I'm here. Come back to me... Obi... She tried to refocus on what she showed him, digging for another memory. She cycled through several quickly, not sure what would work. She got stuck on one though, after the hospital. The kite. The picnic. It was the happiest she had been in forever. Maybe it would be for him too.
<Pietro> Pietro had stepped in front of his wife when Shinobi got to his feet and now he glanced over his shoulder at her, eyebrow raised.
<Illyana> The doctor slowly got to her feet, wondering if he needed a sedative. She shrugged at her husband, though couldn't help but smile just a little. Always protecting her.
<Shaw> Sebastian moved between Jessica and the couple, his hand on her knee. "Are you quite alright, koibito?"
<Shinobi> I'm here. He straightened up, slowly, trying to shake off the horrible memories and join her in the happy ones. Yeah, but I crashed the kite.
<Jessica> Jess nodded to Sebastian's question, looking around him at Shinobi, "Michael?"
<Hope> Hope couldn't help it. She giggled. Crashed it and you had to roll on top of me. She moved to him, reaching for his hands.
<Shinobi> Well, of course. Why pass up an opportunity? He took her hands and pulled her in. "I'm okay. Sorry."
<Shaw> Sebastian pursed his lips, watching them.
<Hope> Hope slid her arms around him, sighing with relief as she pressed her cheek against him. You should take any opportunity to do that.
<Jessica> "It's alright," Jess assured him, "As long as you're okay."
<Shinobi> I do. He closed his eyes and held her.
<Shaw> "As I was saying, it's a work in progress." He turned back to the Maximoffs with a polite and toothy smile.
<Hope> Hope smiled, staying just where she was. Are you okay now? What can I do?
<Illyana> Smiling, Illyana nodded and took her seat again.
<Pietro> "Oh don't worry about it," Pietro waved it off, "Really... we're used to... weird," he gestured vaguely.
<Shaw> He smirked. "That's quite fortunate." Sebastian righted Shinobi's chair and then returned to his own.
<Shinobi> This all just... makes me nervous. It was an understatement, which he was sure she knew. Blood samples are just where it begins.
<Shaw> "As I was saying, we're looking for evidence of degenerative conditions, or any instability in his DNA."
<Hope> Hope looked up, touching Shinobi's cheek gently. You don't have to do any of this. If you aren't comfortable, we can leave.
<Pietro> "Well we can look into that for you, no problem," Pietro offered a small smile, "But I'm assuming you wouldn't want us just to look if we did find something?"
<Shaw> "No, we most definitely want to seek a course of treatment if you should find something." He gave the children a sidelong glance again. "I don't want to leave a single stone unturned."
<Shinobi> I do have to do it, he said with a mental sigh and covered her hand with his own, pressing her palm to his cheek.
<Hope> Then the least I can do is stay with you, she reasoned, smiling softly at him.
<Illyana> Nodding, Illyana smiled at Sebastian. "I'll do what I can."
<Pietro> "We'll do what we can," Pietro restated, because he'd be damned if he wasn't going to go poking around in his father's research. He wouldn't be able to help himself.
<Illyana> She raised an eyebrow at her husband, but didn't say anything, instead jotting some notes onto the computer.
<Pietro> Pietro wasn't sure what the look was for but now that things had calmed down a little bit, "Speaking of stones, any luck on that address?"
<Shinobi> Grateful, he nodded at Hope and sat down, deciding he wanted her closer than the next chair and pulling her onto his lap.
<Shaw> He smirked at the tense exchange between husband and wife and checked his phone. "Ah, yes. I have it." It would seem he'd missed Emma's text in all the excitement. With a few taps, he sent the coordinates to Pietro's phone.
<Hope> Hope had no issues being in Obi's lap. She smiled, relaxing in her new chair.
<Pietro> He nodded, "Okay, back in twenty minutes..." he headed for the door.
<Illyana> Illy smiled warmly at the couple, moving to the coffee machine. She poured them each a cup before taking it over to them, offering them the hot beverages. "Sebastian, Jess, would you two like a drink?"
<Jessica> Jess retreated her chair back nearer the door and shook her head once she was seated. "I'm fine, thanks..."
<Shaw> "Yes, please." He smiled at Illyana, silently sending Jessica a bit of reassurance. "I know this isn't the most pleasant conversation, but I do feel it's good to be prepared."
<Shinobi> Coffee was always a good distraction, but Sebastian's words made swallowing difficult.
<Hope> Or he just likes to be an ass, Hope quipped to Obi, taking a sip.
<Illyana> Illy teleported back to the machine to get Sebastian's cup, handing it to him happily. "Of course. I just want to be realistic. While I want to help, I think reality needs to be set."
<Shinobi> Yeah, but he's right, I guess. He took a deep breath. "So what is reality? What are the options?" He closed his eyes to force out the words. "I was told by one of the Oyamas that things like me weren't made to last."
<Shaw> Sebastian sighed and accepted his cup with a quiet thank you. "You are not a thing, Michael."
<Jessica> Well he'd used the right name this time... Jess put her feet on the edge of her seat and hugged her knees to her. She wasn't sure she wanted to hear all of this but she had to if she was going to be any help to Shinobi.
<Illyana> Illy gave him a bit of a sad smile. "I concur. You are not a thing. I won't speculate, because I need to see your DNA for myself. There are infinite possibilities. I trust nothing SHIELD did at this time unless confirmed by my own tests."
<Shaw> "There is another potential wrinkle..." He looked to his faux son. "The recent introduction of a third party's DNA..."
<Illyana> "It will certainly be interesting, to say the least. Michael... do you think you are ready to begin the testing? Or do you need some more time?"
<Shinobi> Obi sucked in a deep breath and rested his head against Hope. "Just a minute..."
<Illyana> "Of course. Take all the time you need." Illyana took her seat again, smile back on her face.
<Hope> Hope rested her head on top of Obi's, pulling his arms more tightly around her.
<Jessica> Jess drew herself into a tighter ball.
<Shaw> He watched them for a moment, then lowered his gaze to his cup.
<Shinobi> It'll be okay, he tried, holding her close and breathing in her scent. It had to be.
<Hope> Hope held out her hand to her purse, smiling when a small peppermint landed in the palm of her hand. She pressed it into his hand. Maybe this will help. Super mint.
<Shinobi> He laughed a little, closing his fingers over the mint. It definitely will. Drawing back, he touched her face and gave her a soft kiss.
<Hope> Smiling in the kiss, Hope touched his face with her fingertips. You're not alone anymore. Just focus on me. It would at least keep his attention off what was happening.
<Shinobi> Thank you. When they broke the kiss, he squeezed her tightly, still not ready to go. This was the beginning of the end, he was sure.
<Hope> Hope just smiled as she lingered, savoring the moment as she did so often these days. At least soon they'd know for sure. Maybe they'd have a timeframe.
<Jessica> After the silence became unbearable, Jess cleared her throat, "I'm, um... I'm going to go wait in the hall..." she uncurled to make a quick exit.
<Shinobi> It broke the spell and he straightened, taking Hope's hand to help her get up. "Okay, I'm ready." As ready as he was going to be, anyway.
<Shaw> Attention divided, Sebastian gave Jessica a curious look and then stood as well.
<Illyana> Smiling and rising to her own feet, Illyana gestured Obi back to a more private area. "Right this way please."
<Hope> Hope got off of Obi and squeezed his hands before she dropped them, crossing her arms around herself instead.
<Jessica> No one tried to slow her down so she fled for the hallway and sat down on the floor to wait. I'm okay, she sent to Sebastian, Let me know if you need me.
<Shaw> He stepped between Shinobi and the desk for a moment and reached out to squeeze his shoulder. "You'll be fine," he said with a nod.
<Shinobi> Unsure what to say, he just nodded in return and took a last look at Hope before he went with the doctor.
<Hope> Hope gave him one last reassuring smile before he disappeared from her. She picked up her coffee and carefully took a sip, watching Sebastian.
<Shaw> Alright, love. I'll stay with Hope. He took a drink from his own cup, trying to decide if he should listen to the conversation between his son and the doctor or not.
<Hope> Hope shot a glance to the doorway. "Why is she even here if she's not going to wait with us?"
<Shaw> Sebastian sighed, then moved closer to Hope. She wished to start an argument to distract herself, and he wasn't in the mood.
<Hope> "Don't give me that look," Hope gave him a look back, bumping him carefully because of the coffee.
<Shaw> "What look?" He was the picture of innocence now, one corner of his mouth quirking up. "The light in here, it's just terrible."
<Hope> "Yeah yeah," she smiled though, leaning against him. Jess was there for Obi. Not her. She swallowed hard, pushing those feelings down with a drink of coffee. Daddy was there. That was enough. "Just... want a time frame. However long."
<Shaw> He moved his coffee from one hand to the other and slid his arm around her. "I know, love. He certainly seems healthy enough now, and he's recovered from his injuries quite well, so I don't believe it's an immediate concern."
<Hope> "So you drop that bomb on us, but you don't think it's immediate. Geeee.... thanks for the bomb?" She scoffed, taking another sip as she leaned against him.
<Shaw> He raised a brow at her. "I never said I believed he was at death's door this moment, little Stark." Clearing his throat, he glanced at the doorway they'd taken into the lab. "His headaches are a concern, however. So, I was attempting to exercise an overabundance of caution."
<Hope> "Keep your overabundance of caution to yourself because basically he thinks he's dying tomorrow."
<Shaw> Sebastian swore softly. "I was afraid that was the case. He and I... still have problems with communication."
<Hope> "Noooo not you!" Hope laughed at him, grinning up at him.
<Shaw> "It's entirely possible," he sniffed, smirking down at her. "Perfection takes a bit of work, after all."
<Pietro> Mission accomplished, Pietro had stopped by the kitchen on the way back to the medical building. He found a Shaw in the hallway and offered her some cookies before joining her on the floor.
<Hope> Hope patted him on the back. "Best get started then."
<Shaw> He chuckled and took a sip of his coffee. "So, how are you holding up under this additional and inadvertently worrying situation?"
<Hope> Hope just gave him a look. "How long do you think they'll be?"
<Shaw> "I have no idea, love. I don't know if they're require more DNA than a simple blood test will provide, or if there will be a need for other tests this soon."
<Hope> Hope nodded, chewing her bottom lip a bit. "I told myself I could fall apart when he's dead."
<Shaw> He paused and looked at her, then carefully put his coffee cup on the desk to fold her into an embrace.
<Hope> She set her own cup down so she could hold her daddy tightly.
<Pietro> "So... floor's good but, I'm gonna go get you a chair..." He set the cookie plate in Jessica's lap, "You can keep those."
<Jessica> Jess offered him a small smile of gratitude and picked up a cookie, "Thanks..."
<Shaw> He'd warned her of this possibility, but now wasn't the time to point it out he suspected. "With luck, you won't need to worry about making any such plans."
<Hope> Hope laughed at him. "Yeah because the odds have so been in my favor so far."
<Pietro> Trying to be quiet so he didn't disturb them, Pietro slipped into the office and set the container down on the desk before turning to pick up a chair.
<Shaw> "I know, he sighed, watching Pietro over Hope's head. Was that the sample? His eyebrow arched.
<Pietro> Pietro returned the look and offered a small grin before he picked up the chair and turned for the door with it.
<Hope> A sigh escaped, Hope pulled away to get her coffee again. "And you have me working on a stupid final project instead of spending what time I do have with him."
<Shaw> "Well, it is good to come up for air from time to time," he said, watching her drink her coffee with a knowing smirk.
<Hope> "Because if you thought Jess was dying, you'd be worried about a project?" She gave him a look.
<Shaw> "Little Stark, he cannot be your entire world." The truth was she had him there, in many ways. Although, he had Miriam.
<Hope> Hope looked at him again. "You're dodging my point."
<Shaw> "And you are dodging mine."
<Pietro> And he was glad to have an excuse to hide in the hall with the other Shaw. He set the chair down and helped her up so she could sit in it then leaned against the wall and snagged a cookie.
<Hope> "He's not. He is right now because he's going to fucking die any day now."
<Shaw> Clearly, he should have clarified his point far sooner. "Love, does he look like he's going to die any day?"
<Hope> "You can't tell by looks, dad. And if you didn't think he was, you shouldn't have let him think that. So... totally your fault I don't want to do my project. You should exempt it."
<Shaw> Exasperated, he reached for his own coffee and took a swallow. "You'll both be the death of me," he complained.
<Hope> She laughed and nuzzled his shoulder. "You love us, really!"
<Shaw> "Apparently, you're correct. I'm still unsure of these damned attachments in life." He sniffed in mock disdain.
<Hope> "You're unsure?! Look where it's gotten me," she nudged him a bit, wrinkling her nose. "Just don't leave me unsupervised with Tony and I think we're okay."
<Shaw> "Of course. Tony is in constant need of adult supervision." He smirked and watched her over the rim of his coffee cup.
<Hope> Hope laughed and moved to sit, sighing as she did. "Yeah. He really is. But who is going to babysit you?"
<Shaw> "You, of course." He chuckled and pulled over a chair beside her to sit. This could be a long wait, after all. Sebastian slid his arm around her shoulders.
<Hope> Hope rested against him, laughing at him. "Guess we're all screwed then. I'm not good at adulting."
<Shaw> "Oh, as good as most. It's a work in progress for all of us, yes?" He sipped his coffee and sighed.
<Hope> "Yeah, something like that." Hope sighed with him, and fell quiet for a moment. "What am I going to do, dad?"
<Shaw> His faint smile slipped and he rubbed her upper arm, turning to kiss the top of her head. "If there is anything that can be done for him, we will do it. Should worse come to worst, you will do what you've always done - carry on. One day at a time."
<Hope> "Yeah... carry on." Hope let her mind wander to what that would entail. How much loss she'd have in her life. Would she ever be whole again?
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