2/13 Instance: With a Snap

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2/13 Instance: With a Snap

Postby Slarti » Sun Feb 14, 2016 1:30 am

Timelined after/during the bug invasion, a few days after Sweet Ride

<Hope> The letter was in a large envelope, and it made Hope gulp as she stared at it from her spot on her bed, one long leg dangling off the edge and the other crossed in front of her. It was from MIT. This... was the letter she had waited for. This was the letter that would determine everything. She physically shook as she stared at it, unable to open it.

<Shinobi> From his perch sitting on the desk, he watched her. "Do you... want me to open it?" Her nervousness was making him nervous and he pushed out the chair and propped his foot on the seat.

<Hope> Her eyes darted from the envelope up to him, the sight of him instantly calming her to some degree. She swallowed hard and looked down again. Even though she wanted to... she was shaking too much to be able to open it. She handed it to him.

<Shinobi> Surprised she'd actually taken him up on the offer, Obi got up and grabbed a letter opener from the desk. Taking the envelope, he joined her on the bed. He picked up her leg, then replaced it on his lap, giving her a reassuring smile as he slid the opener through the paper. The sound seemed very loud.

<Shinobi> Surprised she'd actually taken him up on the offer, Obi got up and grabbed a letter opener from the desk. Taking the envelope and his reading glasses, he joined her on the bed. He picked up her leg, then replaced it on his lap, giving her a reassuring smile as he slid the opener through the paper. The sound seemed very loud.

<Hope> "Well?" she asked impatiently, fingers in her red hair and twirling it.

<Shinobi> "I haven't looked yet." He watched her from the corners of his eyes as he slipped on his small glasses. "Are you sure you want me to do it? It's... kind of important, right?"

<Hope> "If you don't... I think I'm going to be sick," she admitted, her hand going to his thigh for support.

<Shinobi> "Okay." He turned his head to face her and tried a reassuring smile. Taking the letter from the envelope, he unfolded it without looking and rested his hand over hers. "Ready?"

<Hope> "No," she blurted out, gripping his thigh (mindful of how tightly). "But please read it."

<Shinobi> Nodding, he read through the first paragraph, a smile spreading. "Dear Miss Stark, on behalf of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology community, I am pleased to announce your admission..."

<Hope> Immediately she grabbed the letter from him to read it for herself. "I got in!?"

<Shinobi> "You got in! Congratulations!" He grinned, unable to suppress his excitement for her.
<Hope> After confirming that she had indeed been accepted, Hope pounced on him for a happy hug and kiss. I got in!

<Shinobi> You got in! He repeated it, catching her and laughing.

<Hope> Hope planted happy kisses all over his face, grinning at him. "And I did it without Tony."

<Shinobi> "Good job," he laughed, happy for her and letting her knock him over onto the bed. Obi managed to get a couple kisses in, too.

<Hope> She had him pinned down now, and Hope grinned, adjusting herself to straddle him. "So... your girlfriend is simply amazing." She kissed the tip of his nose with a smile.

<Shinobi> "Oh, I already knew that." He grinned up at her, his hands on her thighs. Her wild red hair and bright smile made his chest ache. "And so did she," he added, giving her legs a pet. "Just needed a little reminder."

<Hope> Hope leaned down slowly and kissed him, taking her time and lingering there. Best. Boyfriend. Ever.

<Shinobi> His lips twisted into a smirk in the kiss. I. Do. Try. One hand slid up her side to her hair, stroking her curls.

<Hope> She nuzzled him and rested against him, stroking his cheek softly. I don't know that you'd even have to try.

<Shinobi> You're right. I'm amazing too." Obi gave her a wink and played with her hair, sighing happily.

<Hope> "You are," she murmured, shifting to lay on top of him and get comfortable, just enjoying him for a moment.

<Shinobi> He shifted to help her, tucking her into his side and kissing her forehead. But, he kept that bit of hair.

<Hope> That made her watch him. She smiled, nestling closer into him. "I should text my dads."

<Shinobi> "You know Sebastian is downstairs, right?" he laughed, his eyes on the red curl he was twirling around his finger.

<Hope> "Do [i]you
want to call him in here?" she questioned, her gaze back to his face.

<Shinobi> "Point taken." His nose wrinkled and he stopped winding her hair for a moment.

<Hope> Hope snickered at him and pulled out her phone, sending a text to both Tony and Sebastian that she'd been accepted to MIT. "I should put something on my Twitter too!"

<Shinobi> "The adoring masses need to know?" Amused, he entertained himself with her hair, watching the light play through the red strands. It was relaxing, hypnotic. He took off his glasses and parked them on the bedside table to better appreciate the view.

<Hope> "My public awaits!" she laughed and brought up her feed... but she had an awful lot of notifications. An awful lot. Had she posted anything really clever? She went in search of the post with so many comments.

<Shinobi> "Well maybe once you've sated the beast there we can go get some celebratory coffee?" He hummed to himself, still happy with his toy. Pressing his lips to her forehead, he lingered and half watched her scroll through her feed.

<Hope> "Yeah sure," she told him, only half paying attention as she finally found the post. But it wasn't her post... it was from someone else. A video? It simply read "Watch this." Curious, as any engineer is, she clicked it with her finger.

<Shinobi> He'd quit paying attention again until the audio started. Something sounded... familiar.

<Hope> The video was a camera phone, capturing video from beside a platform. There was a loud pop... screams... and an Asian with longer hair in a very nice suit aiming right at them. The camera got shaky as a woman with a mass of red hair fell onto the stage, blood running everywhere. A man screamed something familiar.

<Hope> Tony. It was Tony! And that meant... oh God. That was her. The video replayed that short segment again. Her eyes locked onto the Asian man. Shinobi. Her breath shortened, sitting up as the video kept replaying. She didn't need it to replay. She was there. The look on Shinobi's face... picking up the speedster's power to take the bullet for Tony... blood. Blood everywhere. Her blood.

<Shinobi> There was a brief snatch of speech, too fast for him to even catch, and sounding amplified, as if through speakers. He stared at the phone. The quality was bad, but he could see everything clearly. "Oh... God..." It was Hope, and it was him, on the worst day of his life.

<Hope> The shaking over the letter was nothing to compared to her whole body shook now. She dropped the phone, but the screams and the pop from the guns still rang through the air and her mind. Her hands moved to her stomach as she tried to get to her feet.

<Shinobi> The pops echoed in his ears and he felt the reverberation of the shots in his arms. No. No, no, no. He didn't recognize his own face, but he did Hope's - all wild red hair, and then she was falling, bleeding... it didn't even register on him when she dropped the phone, so intent was he on the images repeating there.

<Shinobi> Then, there was an almost audible snap.

<Hope> Sick. She felt sick. She leaned forward, holding her stomach where she'd been shot, one hand grabbed onto the dresser. She tried to stabilize herself, but the lamp on the edge crashed to the floor as she pushed it off with her hand. Obi... her Obi... it had definitely been him.

<Shinobi> "Hope!" He scrambled off the bed, knocking the phone to the floor and now he didn't hear the repeating screams. Obi was to her in a moment, his hand on her shoulder and his other moving her hair as he tried to see her face.

<Hope> The instant he touched her she screamed. She screamed as loudly as she could, trying to back away from him, though the wall blocked her from going far.

<Shinobi> She was reliving it, he could tell - he could feel it from their link. "You're okay, Hope, I promise." He was terrified to touch her again, but he stayed close, running one hand through his hair and looking around the room. What should he do?

<Hope> She sank to the floor, her hands back over her phantom wound. "Dad...." Blood. She was covered in blood. She screamed again.

<Shinobi> "Your dad is fine." He followed her down, then jumped when he heard a shot and scrambled to stop the playback on the phone.

<Hope> Her 'blood covered' hands went to her ears to block out the sounds from the guns and the screams. So many screams. Were they from the crowd? Or her?

<Shinobi> Phone handled, he went back to Hope, trying to see her face. "Hope? Please..." He could still feel her lost in that memory. How many times had she done this for him? "Hope..." He touched her arm. Come back to me.

<Hope> "Bobby... I'm dying..." Where was Bobby?! She should have used his power!

<Shinobi> Bobby? He would have been offended, normally, but this was anything but. Obi crouched in front of her, and since she'd allowed his touch he grasped her other arm. You're not dying, I promise. Please come back to me.

<Hope> "I saved him... I saved Tony..." she tried to focus on the face in front of her. It took great difficulty, but she began to manage that. She knew that face... she knew him. Obi.

<Shinobi> "You did." He almost smiled. "I'm so sorry for that day..." It was the worst day of his life, and he still saw it mostly as a spectator, mostly because it really wasn't him in control that day.

<Hope> His hair was shorter than the one who had shot her. A shaky hand reached for it, touching it. It wasn't him. Not this Obi.

<Shinobi> That did make him smile and he caught her wrist gently. "I love you-" Obi's voice broke. "So much." He knew she was still confused and tried to focus. "You're okay, Hope."

<Hope> He loved her? She had just enough clarity to ask for one thing. "Phone..." she needed her phone.

<Shinobi> "Okay." He nodded and reached for it, handing it over.

<Hope> She unlocked it with her finger and pressed on a few icons. A playlist began to play with several recorded messages. The first simply stated her name and that she lived in Boston with Sebastian, Jess, Obi, and Miriam, and that Tony Stark was her father. Her voice began to calm her, reassuring her of what Obi was saying and who she was.

<Shinobi> Obi had the sense to remain quiet, but he swallowed heavily. Oh, Hope... He watched her face as she listened, guiding her hand to his hair again.

<Shaw> He had grown accustomed to tuning out the sounds coming from a particular portion of his house, so it took a while for Sebastian to realize something was wrong. Once he did, however, he was at the door within a few moments. "Hope!" He pounded on the thick wood.

<Jarvis> The robot puttered over to the door and opened it, bowing at Sebastian. "Good afternoon, Mr. Shark. Can I get you a drink?"

<Hope> Hope shuddered at the noise, the pounding. She recoiled into herself, trying to focus on her own voice on the phone instead.

<Shaw> The hell? "Not at present, thank you," he told the robot, reminding himself to take a closer look at its programming.

<Shinobi> "Shhh, it's okay..." Fucking great. Obi looked up at Sebastian with an exasperated expression, shushing him as well. He moved to Hope's side and carefully placed his arm around her.

<Hope> She shuddered, but relaxed into him. Her own voice had told him he could be trusted... so he could, right? Her eyes looked up, seeing Sebastian. Dad. She got to her feet, going to him and wrapping him in a hug.

<Shaw> After the distraction of the robot, he'd quickly taken in the broken lamp and the two huddled together on the floor. Hope's hug took him by surprise, but he accepted it and held her. "Little Stark... what's going on?"

<Shinobi> Obi watched her leave and scooted his back against the wall, pulling his legs up to hug them.

<Hope> She shook as she calmed, trying to find her voice. "Obi..."

<Shaw> Sebastian turned a hard stare on his faux son. "What?" he asked, his voice hard.

<Hope> "Obi..." she repeated, searching for him. Maybe he could explain. She certainly couldn't.

<Shinobi> Curled into himself, Obi barely heard her. He looked up. "Someone posted a video to her Twitter account," he said, surprised at how raspy his voice sounded.

<Shaw> "Oh?" At that, he relaxed. This was what this was all about? Apparently they both were in need of extra visits to the therapist if this was the result of an unexpected post. "Of?"

<Hope> "He shot me," she whispered, just barely. The shaking stopped finally, reality finally becoming clear. She started toward Obi again.

<Shaw> Still lost, he let her go, though hesitantly. "Hope?"

<Shinobi> Yes, he had definitely shot her. Though he couldn't exactly remember the moment, the video was clear enough. "I'm so sorry... I didn't mean..." She was his world, and he'd told himself, over and over, he would never hurt her. It wasn't me... I'm so sorry...

<Shinobi> But, it was him.

<Hope> It wasn't, she echoed, sitting with him again. That's not you anymore. She sniffled and wrapped her arms around him.

<Shinobi> He turned toward her, his breath hitching on a sob he couldn't stop. I'm so sorry... he repeated.

<Shaw> Watching this, Sebastian stifled his sigh. They were communicating telepathically, that much he knew. So, someone sent her a video of the assassination attempt? Wonderful.

<Hope> His sob set hers off. She sobbed and clung to him, nodding. "It's not your fault... it wasn't your fault."

<Shaw> He crossed the room, scooping up the lamp and giving it a glare as he set it aside. "Hope. Phone." He held out his hand for it.

<Hope> She fumbled around for it, finally offering it up to him once she had it. She was careful not to move so far as to leave Shinobi again.

<Shinobi> "Cortez..." Memories he didn't want were bubbling up. "He left Anne Marie to rot with the rest of us, and when Stryker got her he used her..."

<Shaw> Interested, he listened to his son's ramblings while he located the video.

<Hope> Head against him, Hope listened patiently. She shuddered at the mention of the name, trying not to recall her own memories with Cortez. "He used her on you," she finished for him.

<Shinobi> Obi nodded, miserable in his recollection. "I'm sorry..." His face pressed against her shoulder, his voice came out muffled. He had to stop, had to get himself together.

<Shaw> At least he had the presence of mind to mute the sound as he watched the video. Still, Sebastian found his eyes welling. Madelyne...

<Hope> Was was she supposed to do? She looked up to Sebastian for help, but he looked in no better shape than they were. Hope rested her head against Obi's, sniffling and wiping her eyes. "It wasn't you."

<Shinobi> It wasn't... but it was... His throat closed and his breath hitched again as he curled tightly into himself.

<Hope> It was your body, but did you choose to do that? Is that what you wanted to do? She tried to tilt his head gently to see his face.

<Shinobi> Obi didn't resist, though he was ashamed of the tears streaking his face. No... it was Anne Marie... I can still hear her in my head... At that revelation, he clawed at his left ear, where the earpiece had been, where she'd given him the order to shoot.

<Hope> Hope took his hand firmly in her own and pressed her forehead against his. She didn't think, she just reacted, pushing more into his mind, trying to find those memories to push them aside. She could use her own shields to protect him. He'd pulled her out of her nightmare... she had to pull him out now. She had to. It wasn't him. Not him.

<Shinobi> He gasped and stilled, knowing she was doing something. Eyes wide, Obi could see nothing but her green eyes, still bright from tears. "Hope..."

<Hope> "It wasn't you," she repeated in barely a whisper, focusing on his shield mostly. She closed her eyes, concentrating. Any moment of peace she could give him was entirely worth it the focus it required.

<Shaw> Tearing his attention away from the video, Sebastian looked over at the young couple. "Hope?" He sensed... something.

<Shinobi> "I wish it wasn't..." His tears spilled over again and he pulled away from her to wrap his arms around his knees and bury his head.

<Hope> All it would take would be a little effort and all those memories could go away. No, she firmly told herself, shaking her head. He had so many fake memories as it was, what he needed were real ones. She barely registered Sebastian saying her name, glancing up at him as she fumbled for a memory. Any memory.

<Shinobi> How could she forgive one of the monsters who'd taken her from the school and from her boyfriend? He hadn't personally been part of War's training, but he'd been there. Even when Nur's ideas became increasingly insane he'd stayed, hoping this would give him power and revenge.

<Shaw> Hope was up to something, and since the boy was having one of his spells, things could get dangerous quickly. He pocketed her phone and moved closer.

<Hope> Her eyes stayed on Sebastian as she fumbled for that memory. She thought about attacking Sebastian for Obi... about the way he kissed her on the rooftop in the snow... how he protected her in the club. He was always protecting her. He was constantly redeeming himself. Wasn't he?

<Shinobi> The trial had been a nightmare, and then he was collared, locked up, used as bait, abused, then simply... lost. He didn't want to remember what Stryker had done to him, but he remembered Anne Marie... He remembered the order to fire. His only will was to obey, after all. He remembered a bright streak, a flash of red hair... her face... then blood.

<Shaw> What are you doing, little Stark? He looked at his son, who was shaking now, huddled against the wall.

<Hope> Why do you assume that's me? she snapped, trying to concentrate. There was something Obi was overlooking. Something key. Obi my love... you didn't shoot me on purpose. You weren't aiming at me. I got in the way. All you've ever done on purpose is protect me... save me. I'm alive because of you. Why did everyone try to kill her?

<Shaw> Because you are the telepath. Slowly, he descended into a crouch just a few feet from them.

<Shinobi> He shook his head, barely hearing her. No, he'd been aiming for her father. How was that any better? It didn't matter how hard he tried, how much they worked to change their fate, this horrible video showed the real truth.

<Hope> She'd always been able to pull him back before. She'd been able to get through to him... to make him see reason. But she was failing. Obi... she begged him, trying to shut Sebastian out. Why did he have to use the damn telepathy every time she was trying to fix Obi? It was hard enough to concentrate!

<Hope> She swallowed the lump in her throat. Maybe she couldn't fix this. But... But Obi... what happened right after that? Right after that video ends? What happened? It had been something she had only thought of recently, but she was so thankful she had. Maybe... maybe he'd make the connection. Maybe. She looked to Sebastian again, her eyes pleading. Couldn't he do something?!

<Shinobi> After the video ends? Screaming. Fire at will. There had been so much screaming - from the crowd, from the stage, and in his earpiece, even in his head. Cortez had called for slaughter... Shinobi drew in a breath and gasped.

<Shaw> Concerned, he looked sharply at Michael, but his attention quickly went back to Hope. He held out his hand for her.

<Hope> Hope choked back her sob. She couldn't leave Obi. She may not be able to fix him, but she couldn't leave him. She rested her head against Sebastian's leg, crying finally against him as she left her leg touching Obi. How much could one person be expected to cope with?

<Shinobi> His shots had gone wild, his hands shaking too hard to aim and he looked at the stage again. Zazel, his red skin blending with the blood, and the redhead - they were mutants! Why would they kill their own kind? Anne Marie's voice rose in his earpiece as she barked orders, then she screamed. The scream echoed in his mind and he dropped his weapon, hands going to his ears.

<Shinobi> In the waking world, Obi screamed too, covering his ears and scrambling back into the wall and nearly through it.

<Hope> This was too much. Hope curled against Sebastian and tried to block out the screams. This was her fault. This was why he couldn’t have a normal life.

<Shaw> He shifted to curl his arms around Hope protectively, debating using his own gift to see what was going on in Michael's mind. Cut the link, love... if he drags you into madness with him...

<Hope> Hope clung to her dad, shaking as she sobbed. Cut the link? No! She knew what she could do. Flailing or not, she grabbed for Obi's hand. He didn't have to do this alone. That was what they had now... each other.

<Shaw> Sebastian swore. Clearly she was not cutting the link.

<Shinobi> Amid the hail of bullets, Shinobi Shaw had one moment of clarity. This was wrong. Why were they killing mutants? Memories of a different mission bubbled up just out of reach, but they were there. They belonged to Stryker, but that wasn't right. Was it? Pull out. Go! The order echoed in his mind and he went but not with his team, and he left his weapon behind.

<Shinobi> The weeks that followed were a haze. Anne Marie Cortez' voice warred with others in his head. He woke up in cold sweats in back alleys some days, others he found himself in five-star hotels, lying his way into the penthouse suite.

<Hope> She hadn't really known what happened to him, only that he had gone nuts. He has gone nuts after shooting her, even though he wasn't aiming at her. Her fingers gripped him, her resolve firm. He wasn't alone anymore.... but she didn't interfere beyond that. She didn't know how.

<Shinobi> Dr. Nathaniel Essex slid the photo back across the desk with one long white finger. "I would say that resemblance makes for compelling evidence... I know someone who can help you."

<Shinobi> En Sabah Nur wanted to find the strongest of the strong and bend them to his will. "We are the rightful masters of this world, never forget that." When he was the master, he would make his father pay.

<Shinobi> But General William Stryker had a mission as well. "Your kind are an abomination - a plague on this country and it is your sacred duty to wipe out the mutant menace."

<Hope> Hope's heart broke for Obi. He was a pawn... a pawn to everyone. Just a piece to be moved and manipulated. What if he was too broken to come back now? She peered at him through her tears, but couldn't stand it. She buried her face into Sebastian and clung to him with the hand not touching Obi.

<Shaw> Little Stark? He was powerless. Rubbing Hope's back, he watched his son. The boy still shaking, still weeping.

<Hope> "Dad..." she squeaked out, sobbing more. I can't save him, she finally admitted.

<Shaw> What is going on? He made a soothing sound, not unlike he would for Miriam, and kissed the top of her head. After a moment, he sighed. Can I do anything? Should I try to reach him?

<Hope> I don't know... he's... I don't know. Remembering. Kind of. But it's awful. She calmed a little in his arms, comforted by her dad.

<Shinobi> Too many voices; each asking, demanding, expecting something else of him. Nothing made sense and nothing mattered, but he had a mission. There was blood on his hands - literally - and destruction. It was a blur of rage and pain, all muffled by a bizarre numbness.

<Shinobi> And then, it was over.

<Hope> She wanted it to stop. She wanted it to be over. Waiting was agony... and so was not knowing if he'd ever come back to her. What if he was gone for good? She felt sick.

<Shaw> Remembering? That very likely was not good. He swore softly, then sat up a little when Michael jerked.

<Hope> Her grip failed, causing her to pull her arm into herself. She couldn't really sift through everything that was in their minds or link, leaving her stuck. She should have cut the link. She should have listened... but she hadn't wanted to leave him. She still didn't want to leave him. She wanted him back!

<Shinobi> His hands crept from his ears to his face, rubbing over it. Forgiving yourself is the hardest part. Though that therapist had said it a thousand times, he'd never thought it was possible. But, maybe it was. Obi drew in a deep breath, exhaling slowly. Hope was right. That wasn't me.

<Shinobi> Uncurling, he was still shaky when he pushed himself up to look for Hope. Obi swallowed when he saw her.

<Hope> Still buried against Sebastian, Hope choked on another sob, his words not really registering.

<Shaw> His arms full of Hope, Sebastian met his son's eyes. Micheal?

<Shinobi> A little crease marred his brow for a moment, the last of the fog lifting. He focused on Sebastian. Yeah?

<Shaw> You've given us quite a scare. Are you all right now? Quietly, he tried to assess the boy's mental state, but felt only surprising calm.

<Shinobi> Obi swallowed, his gaze tracking from Sebastian's face to Hope. She was crying, shaking... She's right. I'm not who I was before... I'm not him.

<Shaw> He sighed, giving Michael an approving nod. No, you're not. Sebastian turned his attention to his daughter. "Hope..."

<Hope> Her name got her attention, and Hope looked up at Sebastian, sniffling. She didn't know what to make of that link, but she looked to Obi anyway once her attention was caught, assessing him as best she could in her current state.

<Shinobi> Hope. He managed a weak smile at her and tried to send reassurance. It's me.

<Hope> Hope leaped for him, wrapping her arms around him the moment she could and holding onto him fiercely. Her face buried into him and her eyes closed.

<Shinobi> He laughed a little, though it sounded choked, and held her just as tightly. "Sorry..."

<Shaw> Sebastian sat back on his heels with a sigh, rolling his eyes heavenward in relief.

<Hope> "You don't have to be sorry," she muttered, nestling into him. What happened? Are you okay?

<Shinobi> He folded his legs around her, keeping her close and nuzzling her hair and cheek. "Are you okay?"

<Hope> "I don't know," she admitted, but only continuing to hold onto him tightly. Sebastian tried to get me to cut the link.

<Shinobi> He swallowed, but couldn't muster any anger. He was protecting you. Obi stroked her hair, rocking them slowly.

<Hope> He was... but I couldn't leave you alone. She calmed more back in his arms, snuggling into him as he played with her hair.

<Shinobi> Thank you... He glanced over at Sebastian, who was watching them openly.

<Hope> She was still nervous, still trying to process, but for the moment she was safe in his arms. I just couldn't... even though he thought it was safer for me. So I wouldn't get pulled in too.

<Shinobi> Picking up on her nervousness, he swallowed. What did you see?

<Hope> I don't know if I saw everything... but enough. She looked up at him finally, stroking his cheek.

<Shinobi> That wasn't good. I wish you hadn't had to see that... In fact, he hadn't wanted to... wasn't sure he wanted those memories back now that he had them. What she must think of him...

<Hope> She pulled his forehead down to rest against her's, eyes closing as she breathed him in. It wasn't you, she reminded them both.

<Shinobi> It really wasn't. He closed his eyes too. It's weird... it almost feels like it was someone else now... It wasn't, he knew that, but the overwhelming guilt had lessened.

<Hope> That caught her attention, making her smile. Good. You've done nothing but be an amazing boyfriend, she pointed out.

<Shinobi> He smiled a little, holding her tight and kissing her through her hair. Sighing, he closed his eyes. We need to know who sent that.

<Hope> Normally I'd volunteer to dig... but... she left it at that. She couldn't. Not yet anyway. She needed someone else to deal with that. She trembled just a little, holding him tighter.

<Shinobi> David will be all over it. And you know your dad will have a half dozen other agents on it too. Tony had to be expecting things like this, right? He couldn't rescind the pardon, could he? Then a worse thought came to him.

<Hope> She relaxed at his reassurance. David will find them. And maybe taze them. That was a comforting thought.

<Shinobi> What if this was a threat? What if they wanted to finish the job he'd started and failed at completing...

<Hope> Her face went whiter than usual as she backed up enough to look at him, his horror reflected on her face.

<Shaw> Sebastian's attention returned to them at Hope's sudden movement. "Little Stark?" He reached for her, in case Michael was having some sort of lapse.

<Shinobi> "No. No! I won't let that happen!" He held onto her arm.

<Hope> "Someone is going to try to kill me," she whispered to Sebastian, not about to move from Obi's arms.

<Shaw> It was sad that this news allowed him to relax. It wasn't Michael. He touched her shoulder, rubbing her back. "Michael is right. We won't let that happen."

<Hope> "Why is it always me?" she asked, looking to her dad this time.

<Shaw> "It may not be you, point of fact... it could be a threat against Tony. You are much more accessible, however." He kept rubbing her back soothingly, glancing at Michael. The boy looked determined.

<Hope> "It could be... but it was on my media feed..." she shuddered, resting her head back against Obi. "Either one is bad."

<Shinobi> "Yeah, but your dad doesn't have a Twitter account that's really him. You do." He met Sebastian's eyes and concentrated. We'll keep her safe. We have to.

<Shaw> Sebastian heard the boy, loud and clear and nodded. "Perhaps we should increase your security detail..."

<Hope> "Talk to David," she told him softly, head still resting on Obi. "Whatever you guys think."

<Shaw> "I think, perhaps, you both need more security." He rested his other hand on Michael's arm.

<Hope> "Yes," she said immediately. Nobody was about to take him out either. Not on her watch. Not again.

<Shinobi> He sighed, but nodded. "Whatever we have to do."
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