Timelined after Shark Talk
<Hope> How much time had passed, Hope didn't know. She'd gone through her folder of reminder memos numerous times, yet she was still upset. She still couldn't stop crying as she watched Obi read her The Little Mermaid over and over and over. She continued to sit in the dirt, legs crossed at the ankles and knees pressed to her chest as she rocked slightly forward and back.
<Bobby> After the first couple attempts at touching her ended badly - for him, Bobby gave up. Of course she'd dragged them out to the most remote place she could miraculously find on the eastern seaboard, where signal was a thing of 1997.
<Bobby> Bobby even created an ice pillar to take him through the forest canopy, then turned in a circle, phone held high. No service. Fuckadoodledoo.
<Hope> Obi was dead... he was gone. It was her fault. She hit play on the story again.
<Bobby> Unfortunately, by the time he gave up and got back to the ground, he could hear clone voice. Again. If he heard The Little Mermaid one more time... "Hey, babe... Hope?"
<Hope> She glanced up at the voice through her tear-filled eyes.
<Bobby> "Awww, babe... don't..." By now, he knew better than to try to touch her, so he parked his ass just a few feet away. "Are you really hearing me?"
<Hope> "He's gone..." she looked back at him reading. That was why he'd read those books... for when he was gone. But not like this.
<Bobby> He looked around at the disgustingly cheerful spring woods, his nose twitching as he debated a half dozen things he could say. "Umm... we don't know that..."
<Hope> She couldn't even argue with him. Half the time she was aware that he was dead, and then for some moments... he was shooting her again. Those moments were when she restarted the playlist. She considered that now... but she looked down at his chocolate eyes instead. And cried.
<Bobby> "Holy fucking shit..." he muttered, edging just a little closer to her when the sobs started again. "Hope... babe... are you gonna hit me again if I try to hug you?"
<Hope> This time, she didn't pull away from him. She rested her head against Bobby, continuing to cry.
<Bobby> He held her loosely, completely aware of the video still playing. Shinobi Shaw reading Disney fairy tales to his princess. Fuuuuuuuck. Karma hated him.
<Shinobi> "Thanks, Jarvis," he said, pulling in beside Hope's bright yellow Corvette and jumping out of the car. "Any idea which way she went?" He circled her car as he spoke to his watch, using his keyless entry to check inside it. He could smell her perfume, but his Hope was nowhere near.
<Jarvis> "If I had legs, I would try up, sir."
<Hope> "What do I do?" she finally asked.
<Shinobi> "Up. That's helpful, thanks," he said in a tone equally as tart as the artificial intelligence's. Obi opened the trunk. Her bag was missing, and there were the remains of clothes. At least Drake was still with her. He supposed that was a good thing.
<Bobby> "Well, babe... first thing? We gotta check in with... anybody really." He looked up at the trees to avoid her phone. "We're in the dead zone here."
<Hope> Dead. Fresh tears fell down her face as she sobbed harder.
<Bobby> He cringed. Fuck! Great job, Drake! Where the hell was Paige when he needed her? "Shit! Babe! I didn't mean it like that! We just... we're gonna have to check in! There're probably people lookin' for us right now."
<Hope> "I don't CARE!" she shouted at him.
<Shinobi> He looked up the mountain, catching the faint sound, and he supposed that decided which of the trails he would follow. Obi started up what seemed the most obvious one, then paused, closing his eyes. Hope?
<Bobby> "Babe..." He drew the word out.
<Hope> The voice in her mind made her sick to her stomach, remembering him again. Of course he'd chastise her for hiding and running. But she just couldn't. "Then go check in!" she shoved Bobby. "Just leave me here."
<Shinobi> There was no answer. He kept moving up the trail, ducking a spiderweb. Of course she would go to the woods.
<Bobby> He rolled with the shove, expecting it by now and half anticipating it, if he was truthful. "Yeah, like I can really do that." Bobby sighed and pushed his hand over his short hair. "Like I really would?"
<Hope> "What are you protecting me from out here? Bears?! Just... go. Call David. Or Tony. Or whoever." She hit replay on the video, curling back up to watch it as fresh sobs spilled out. "I don't care anymore.”
<Bobby> "Fuck me, babe! Like I really know? Yourself?" Ah, hell, there she went again. Bobby liked to think of himself as a romantic, but clone shark took the cake. He closed his eyes.
<Shinobi> Hope? Obi tried again, picking up his pace and sidestepping a root in the trail. I think I know what happened.
<Hope> Hope grabbed an acorn and threw it at Bobby. "Myself?!" Herself. Maybe he should go too before she got him killed as well. The voice in her head was a little louder. It made her heart ache. Obi. She crumpled, the little bit of anger gone.
<Bobby> He sensed the shift after ducking the acorn. "Hope?" He moved just a little closer again.
<Shinobi> She either couldn't hear him or wouldn't answer, and he didn't know which it was. Obi fought the urge to punch the nearest tree.
<Hope> "Just go!" she shouted at him again, curling into herself... and realizing her phone was nearly dead. She hit replay.
<Shinobi> The trail seemed to peter out and he swore, wondering which path to take. Hope? Can you hear me at all? He just wanted to feel her, to know she was really here. On impulse, he started up again.
<Bobby> He stifled a groan when that fucking voice started over again. "You know I'm not going but I'll just... be over here." He got up and looked up at his ice pillar, willing it to dissolve.
<Hope> Obi's attempts paid off, though Hope was unaware of it. It was so automatic to connect to that mind that she wasn't even aware that she had. So overwhelmed with her own grief, she tried to focus on the chocolate brown eyes in front of her before the battery died.
<Shinobi> He stopped walking. She was back. Hope? When he didn't feel a response, he picked up his pace, now completely certain of his path.
<Hope> The voice was more clear than before, making her pause. Was this another flash back? With Bobby not hovering, she felt a little more able to grieve. "Obi..." she whimpered.
<Bobby> Hovering or not, he rolled his eyes.
<Hope> The book ended. She hit replay. Again.
<Bobby> Oh, for fuck's sake...
<Shinobi> The first thing Obi heard to clue him in that he'd found them was his own voice.
<Hope> The crying was no longer hysterical, just slow tears as she tried to calm herself, listening and watching him. She'd never see him again.
<Bobby> The pillar was gone, but he sensed a new disturbance in the force. Again, he turned in a slow circle, but this time without the benefit of cellular technology. He spotted motion and warmth and skidded on an ice slide to the source.
<Shinobi> Now he could feel her, if not quite the same way as usual. Her grief was overwhelming, and when he realized it was for him he tried to reach her. I'm okay. I know what happened.
<Hope> She indulged the voice. What happened? What could it hurt? Could she get crazier?
<Bobby> He halted, scanning for weapons. Finding none, he walled off the path and ignored the wash of relief. "So you aren't dead." Bobby crossed his arms. "Do I need to kill you?"
<Shinobi> Obi raised his hands and phased just enough to be untouchable. Drake was fairly fucking nuts, after all. "Somebody sent her the video of me..." He swallowed, trying to meet the other man's eyes. "Afterward... after that day..."
<Bobby> "Another threat?" He jumped off the ice slide. It kinda made sense. People were always fucking with her.
<Hope> Of course the voice didn't answer back. Why would it? It was in her head. She found a bit of hair and twirled it as Obi continued to read to her.
<Bobby> Shifting to ice, he moved just a little closer. "She said you had a gun."
<Shinobi> "I did, but it was her gun. I found it in a drawer, and I was surprised she wasn't carrying it. I gave it to Sebastian." His hands were still up and he licked his lips, attempting a smile at her bodyguard.
<Hope> She thought she heard him... which just brought the crying again. Her Obi... She rubbed her injured arm, wincing. Maybe... maybe just one more time watching it. She hit replay.
<Shinobi> He could hear her, and what was worse is he could feel her. "Just let me go," he said, not even looking at Drake.
<Bobby> The thermal scan he'd run on the clone proved he was unarmed this time. He rolled his eyes and dissipated the ice. "I'm watching you, mini shark."
<Hope> Her fingers found a curl, staring at it as her heart sank further. Obi had loved those curls. She looked back at his face, wanting to smile at his cute dimples and glasses.
<Shinobi> Obi ignored Drake. He bolted up the trail, searching for her. "Hope! Come on, please!" He was drawn to a tall tree. It was in the brush, which of course it would be. Obi thought of the ticks.
<Hope> That wasn't part of the story. She blinked, reaching over to pause her playback and sat up. "Hello?"
<Shinobi> Finally, he felt her attention. Not bothering to answer aloud, he saw her, just a bit off the trail, her back against a large walnut tree. Obi stopped short, hands up again. "Hello."
<Hope> Obi? She closed her eyes tightly, then reopened them. Still Obi. "Obi?"
<Shinobi> "It's me." He smiled, just a little, and attempted to project calm across their bond. "I promise. It's really me."
<Hope> "But... how?" she asked, swallowing hard and wiping her face.
<Shinobi> "Drake sucks." Obi smiled, and didn't look over his shoulder, even though he knew the bodyguard was right behind him.
<Hope> Sniffling, Hope smiled a little. She pushed off the ground, slowly getting to her feet. "Like a wet blanket?"
<Shinobi> "A cold, shitty one." His smile was stretched thin, but he held it for her. She looked terrible. The fuck had happened in her head since she'd seen that video?
<Hope> She went for him, still not sure he was real... but it was better than any other thing she'd seen that day.
<Shinobi> It was all he'd wanted, all day. "Hey," he said, quietly, catching her. Obi fell to his knees, wrapping her in an embrace and closing his eyes.
<Hope> She went with him, clinging to him as he held onto her. Nope. Not a flashback. Not her mind. He was real. She lost it, squeezing him and crying into his chest as relief washed over her.
<Shinobi> "I promise, I'm real." Obi bowed his head and kissed her hair. He knew her, and how her mind worked. "I found your gun, but I gave it to Sebastian." He took a deep breath, drawing in her scent. Everything is okay. Okay?
<Hope> Okay. She tried to calm herself back down, which was much easier considering she was exhausted and the real Obi was there. I'm so sorry, Obi.
<Shinobi> He raised his hand to the back of her head, feeling her soft hair and stroking it. Somebody fucked with your head again. I would never... Yet he knew he had. He'd hurt her before. I'm the one in control, not Stryker. Never again. You know I would never hurt you.
<Hope> I know.... I know that, she emphasized, her breathing calming as she stopped her sobbing. I just... I thought it was real.
<Shinobi> No. But this is real. He gave her a squeeze, bending to kiss her forehead through her messy hair. From what he could tell, her mind was a mess.
<Hope> She nodded, sniffling a little. I thought I lost you...
<Shinobi> Obi shook his head. That's never going to happen.
<Hope> I'm so sorry, Obi. So, so sorry. She pressed her face into him, breathing him in.
<Shinobi> Can you tell me what you actually remember? He couldn't deny that it still hurt - that she wouldn't listen to him at all, that she shut down their link, that she so clearly didn't trust him...
<Hope> I... got some videos. On the way home... And then... it was like... she struggled, trying to piece it back together.
<Shinobi> Jarvis showed me which video... He pulled back to see her, taking her face in his hands to force her to look at him. That was me, but it wasn't, you know? Even now that I can remember it... it's distant. It was the conditioning, and Cortez.
<Hope> Once she could see his eyes, Hope locked onto them. They calmed her further, her fingers finding his cheek. I kept seeing you aiming at me. Then I walked into the room... and you were readying the gun. I just wanted to run. I never wanted you to get hurt.
<Shinobi> I found it in your drawer. Now he felt foolish for fiddling with it, but he'd been surprised at finding it there. I was reloading it...
<Hope> So... it was just a horrible mix up? She pulled him closer, pressing her forehead against his.
<Shinobi> Yeah. Not on Drake's end of it, but then the man did what he was ordered to do. ...you wouldn't listen to me. He hadn't meant to say it, not yet, but there it was. He bit his lip.
<Hope> It was a good thing she wasn't looking him in the eyes, because she couldn't have after that. She shrank into herself, swallowing hard before the tears came again. I'm sorry!
<Shinobi> Fuck. He stopped himself from swearing aloud at her expression and tucked her head back beneath his chin. "Shhh... don't cry..."
<Hope> She always felt better wrapped tightly in his arms, but it only helped a little this time. I was scared.
<Shinobi> I know. I didn't mean to scare you... He swallowed down the rest of his thought and kissed the top of her head, lingering.
<Hope> Hope took some time to stop that round of tears, sniffling as they dried up. Are we going to be okay?
<Shinobi> It gave him more pause than it should. Were they?
<Hope> His hesitation made her pull away to look up at him.
<Shinobi> Obi licked his lips, and met her eyes. If she didn't really trust him, what was the point?
<Hope> "Just... take Bobby back to town," she told him finally, softly.
<Shinobi> "What?" He really couldn't process what she meant.
<Hope> "Just take him. He's going nuts without a signal." She wiped her face with her shaky hand.
<Shinobi> "And what? Leave you here alone? Is that what you're saying?"
<Hope> "I'm already alone!" she snapped at him, getting to her feet.
<Shinobi> He recoiled at that, too stunned to get up. "You attacked me! Drake could have - if I hadn't been phase shifted... you would be alone, not that you'd know, since you shut me out!"
<Hope> "This shit right here is why I have to be so fucking perfect all the damn time." How many times had Jess fucked up and Sebastian readily forgave her? She shoved the jealousy down and picked up her bag. "So you finally get it. I'm a shitty girlfriend. Congratulations! It was only a matter of time."
<Shinobi> "You don't have to be perfect! Nobody said that." Shaking off his shock, he stood, slowly. At least this time she hadn't cut their link - yet - so he could feel her anger.
<Hope> "But I do!" She looked up at him, swallowing hard. "Do you think I wanted to lapse like that? Do you think I enjoy not knowing who the fuck I am, let alone you? I can't make a mistake because when I do, they are huge. And you nearly died because of it. So take Bobby. Go back to town." She ran her fingers through her red hair, trying to keep her emotions in check.
<Shinobi> "No." He crossed his arms, staying close to her, but wary of touching her at the moment.
<Hope> "Why?" She asked, watching him.
<Jarvis> Jarvis buzzed on Obi's watch, displaying Hope's vitals.
<Shinobi> Startled, he looked down at the watch, then frowned.
<Hope> Hope waited for his answer, eyebrow raising as she watched him.
<Shinobi> She was panicking, and with the realization, his anger dissolved. "Because, I'm not leaving you."
<Hope> "Aren't you? I just ask if we're going to be okay and you blank me."
<Shinobi> He rubbed his face, fingers lingering at his lips. "You freaked out. Well, I did too."
<Hope> "We can't freak out at the same time!" The anger started to leave her, however.
<Shinobi> "I know." He took a step toward her and dropped his hand, offering it to her again.
<Hope> "So you're not leaving me?" she questioned him, hesitant to take that hand yet.
<Shinobi> "I think you were the one telling me to leave..." Obi wriggled his fingers.
<Hope> She took his hand, giving him a look for his pointing out the truth. "I guess so."
<Shinobi> The look made him smirk and he pulled her in.
<Hope> She wrapped her arms around him and pressed her face into his chest, focusing on him and calming herself down.
<Shinobi> I don't want to lie to you. And I'm not going to hide things, so yes, it hurt that you didn't believe me, that you cut the link... Obi held her close, rocking them and rubbing her back this time. But I get why you did it.
<Hope> I'll spend the rest of my life making it up to you for that, she admitted.
<Shinobi> It made him chuckle slightly.
<Hope> "That's not funny!" she poked him.
<Shinobi> "It's a little funny." He sent her a surge of affection and caught the poking finger.
<Hope> She laced their fingers together, nestling into him. "What part?"
<Shinobi> "I don't know... it's just a crazy situation," he said, raising their hands to kiss the back of her knuckles. “All of it.”
<Hope> She smiled at that, watching him. "As long as we're together... it's going to be okay. Right?"
<Shinobi> "Right." Obi returned the smile, catching the way the light filtered through the trees to highlight her hair.
<Hope> She dropped his hands in favor or wrapping her arms around his neck and leaning up to catch him in a kiss.
<Shinobi> He was more than happy to respond, cupping her jaw with his palm and tilting her into the kiss.
<Hope> She all but groaned into the kiss, pressing herself into him. Her fear was long forgotten by now.
<Shinobi> Are you ready to go home now? He certainly was, his fingers threading back into her hair to keep her close.
<Hope> Sniffling one final time, Hope nodded, searching his eyes again. Think I can make Bobby drive himself? I... I don't want to go without you.
<Shinobi> Obi gave her a smile of reassurance. I was going to suggest that, actually. Then his nose twitched. I don't want him driving my car.
<Hope> He can take mine, she grinned at him, kissing him softly again.
<Shinobi> Good. His smile slid into a smirk and he nipped her lower lip. And is he wearing my pants?
<Hope> Yes... it was better than him in no pants, she pointed out, biting her own lower lip in her grin. They look better on you.
<Shinobi> Obi let her feel his shudder at no-pants Drake. Well of course they do. He raised a brow at her.
<Hope> They look better off of you and on the floor... so.... she cleared her throat and looked for Bobby.
Read our instance transcripts here for hot character sessions!
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