Timelined after Testing the Waters
<Jessica> After several hours of time to herself, largely spent driving around nowhere in particular on her bike, Jess was feeling a little less pissed off than she had been earlier. She was now attempting to unwind with a good book. It was getting late and the temperature was dropping but she'd be damned if she was going back inside yet so she curled up under a blanket and had helped herself to a glass of wine.
<Shaw> Sebastian ventured out of his workshop when the tense discussion from Hope's room ceased. He didn't intend to listen - in fact had located earbuds to work to music and drown out the conversation. While he was on some level pleased they'd worked things out, he had no desire to block out their makeup sex as well.
<Shaw> Once in the master bath, he showered and changed, then stared into the mirror. He needed to shave, but it would wait. Eventually, he wandered to Miriam's room to check on her. The baby was sleeping peacefully after her outing.
<Jessica> Jess was unaware of the movements of the others in the house as she was wearing an inhibitor for the benefit of the wine. She took a sip before she turned her page and settled back in her chair.
<Shaw> Sebastian reached into the crib and rubbed Miriam's foot. "I wonder what you and your brother talked about... hmm?" Shinobi alone in the city with Miriam had been nerve-wracking as well, but he kept his mouth shut. And, as it turned out, they both returned in perfect health.
<Jessica> The voice over the baby monitor drew her attention and she peered at it over the top of her book.
<Shaw> "I'd best be careful. He's probably planting subliminal programming against me, hmm?" His tone was wry.
<Jessica> Jess frowned at the baby monitor and went back to her book.
<Shaw> He sighed. "It's likely accurate, unfortunately." Sebastian stared at her, stroking her back and hair.
<Jessica> That made the frown deepen. He would never give Michael the respect he deserved. Always expecting the worst. And now she was annoyed again.
<Shaw> "Is it only easier to speak to you because you don't yet speak back?" The baby and the dog were at least able to tolerate him.
<Jessica> Of course that was what he liked. Miriam wasn't yet able to argue her own point. He preferred it when people just did as he ordered. She closed her book and set it down, picking up the glass of wine and burrowing deeper into the blanket.
<Shaw> Sebastian sat in the rocking chair and covered his face, scratching his jaw with another hefty sigh. "If I'm not careful, someday you'll resent me as well."
<Jessica> Yep. Jess took a large sip of the wine.
<Shaw> Shinobi had been made to resent him, yet just days ago asked to be his son in truth. "My father... died never knowing what I became. It's probably for the best."
<Jessica> That made her stare at the baby monitor again. What the hell was he saying now?
<Shaw> "Your mother is right," he muttered, staring out the window.
<Jessica> And she rolled her eyes. Of course she was right. Eventually he always figured that out but it would be nice if, for once, he would follow her advice before the explosion happened.
<Shaw> That was when he noticed a reflection of a light in the window and turned his head, only then noticing the baby monitor.
<Jessica> Jess topped up her glass and adjusted her blanket, unaware her accidental spying device had been discovered.
<Shaw> He had no way of knowing if she had the monitor with her, but it was a safe bet. Without their link, he also didn't know where she was without concentrating on the presence of her mind. Closing his eyes, he got up and started up the stairs for the roof.
<Jessica> The long silence earned the monitor a questioning look then she picked up her book again. Oh well.
<Shaw> Sebastian opened the door and stepped out onto the roof, locating her quickly. He moved past her to the edge, looking out over the city. "It's getting chilly."
<Jessica> "That's why I have a blanket," she didn't look up from her book.
<Shaw> Glancing over his shoulder, he located the monitor.
<Jessica> Jess took another sip of her wine and frowned, "Did you want something or can I read my book?"
<Shaw> Sebastian turned and slowly strolled to the chair beside her. "I want to apologize," he said, sitting down with a sigh.
<Jessica> "You do?" She raised an eyebrow, closing her book over her thumb.
<Shaw> "I do." He drew in a deep breath, gathering his thoughts.
<Jessica> "For what?" She settled back in her chair and crossed her legs.
<Shaw> "My behavior today," he started, wishing he could gauge her mood better.
<Jessica> Just today? She put her book down on the table beside the baby monitor. "I'm listening."
<Shaw> "I've been... unhelpful, I suppose, at times, since Shin - Michael came. And especially so since Hope and he became involved." Sebastian glanced down at his hands.
<Jessica> "I've been saying this for months..." she said through a sigh, "How are you only realising this now?"
<Shaw> "I'm not just now realizing this. You do know that while I felt a certain responsibility for him, I was not... attached. Not as you became."
<Jessica> "You're attached to Hope." The statement was just that but the implications were clear.
<Shaw> "I am." He glanced up at her, curious about her tone.
<Jessica> "So what's the difference?"
<Shaw> "Between my feelings for Hope and Michael?"
<Jessica> "Between your attitude towards them.... so yes. He tries so hard and you don't seem to care..."
<Shaw> He tilted his head. "You weren't talking about him just a moment ago. What are you implying about my attachment to Hope?"
<Jessica> "You treat her better than you treat me a lot of the time. You go out of your way to protect her, get her whatever she wants... even when she'd rather you left her the hell alone. You listen better to her too. I've been telling you the same thing day in and day out for weeks and all it takes is for her to say it once and you realise I'm right."
<Shaw> Sebastian stared at her in shock. "I treat her better than I treat you? Where did you get this idea?"
<Jessica> "You realise you pretty much gave me an order earlier today, right?"
<Shaw> "And you threw several things at me, I don't believe either of us were acting rationally."
<Jessica> "I throw things when I'm angry. I know I shouldn't but I can't help it. But that's not the point, Sebastian. I've been angry for days but I sit on it... I always do... but today... today I hit the limit of my patience with this. So, yes. I threw things. But you gave me an instruction like an employee and it's not the first time either."
<Shaw> "Yes, after you threw things at me," he said, tone cooling.
<Jessica> "That's not the point! How is it you continually miss the point when it's right in front of you? Do you do it deliberately? Nothing is ever your fault, is it?"
<Shaw> "Yes, it is. I realize much of the current situation - most especially this conversation - is entirely my fault."
<Jessica> She rolled her eyes and got up from her chair, gathering her book and the baby monitor to go back inside.
<Shaw> That wasn't at all his intent, and Sebastian winced, then closed his eyes. "Wait, please."
<Jessica> "Why? So you can blame me for something else?" She didn't turn around but drew the blanket tighter around herself.
<Shaw> "I don't mean to blame you, for anything," he said quietly.
<Jessica> "Then stop it... and stop ignoring my advice because you're better at building robots than I am."
<Shaw> He nodded, but realized she couldn't see him. "Alright."
<Jessica> She turned back to face him, "So where does this leave us?"
<Shaw> "You tell me." He looked up at her and swallowed down his heart. "Can you forgive me?"
<Jessica> "Will it make a difference? Every time something like this happens I let it go... and it just happens again. It's wearing me down..."
<Shaw> Sebastian nodded, unable to answer her as he considered the implications of her statement.
<Jessica> Jess watched him, wondering whether her words were actually making headway for the first time ever.
<Shaw> He stood, slowly, and walked toward her, trying to gauge her mood without their link.
<Jessica> Her posture shifted slightly toward defensive, he still hadn't answered her and she wasn't sure of the impact of her words without their link or her empathy.
<Shaw> That reaction made him stop and he held up his hands, then covered his face. She didn't want him near her, was disgusted by him, perhaps was even afraid of him. It hurt, incredibly.
<Jessica> "Sebastian... things need to change around here... I can't keep going like this anymore..."
<Shaw> Nodding again, he drew a shuddering breath.
<Jessica> She turned to set her things down before she stepped towards him, "You have to promise... and you have to mean it this time."
<Shaw> "I can't..." He felt the hated tears coming and pressed his fingers into his eyes. "I can't do this without you," he whispered. "I promise. I mean it."
<Jessica> She sighed, going to him and wrapping her arms around his shoulders, folding him into the blanket with her. "Sebastian... I love you... and I've forgiven everything... I always forgive and I let it go... and I do the same with things Hope does and says... I'm just so exhausted from defending myself and everyone else all the time... I want to be able to feel happy for more than five minutes at a time...."
<Shaw> "Koibito..." He clutched at her and held on. "I'm sorry..."
<Jessica> "I know... and I'm sorry I threw things at you... it worked though...."
<Shaw> It made him laugh a little, as intended. "I liked those trousers, too..."
<Jessica> "Be thankful you just lost your trousers." She gave him a squeeze.
<Shaw> He sighed. "I don't... intend to complicate things."
<Jessica> "I know..." she looked up at him, "But your meddling does tend to do that.... You just have to try and be patient. Let them work it out on their own - they're both more than capable."
<Shaw> "It's not just her who concerns me, you realize, right?" He moved back enough to see her face.
<Jessica> She gave him a questioning look because it really didn't seem like that much of the time.
<Shaw> Sebastian met her eyes, still a little off balance by his inability to read her. "Sometimes, when I try to speak to him... I don't know how."
<Jessica> She sighed, reaching up to gently stroke his cheek, "Just... treat him like a person... stop challenging him all the time... not every conversation has to be a battle, you know..."
<Shaw> "It's... almost ingrained, you realize, to react in that way. And as he's come to expect the worst of me, he becomes defensive. Then it's easy to justify my reactions." He closed his eyes and leaned into her.
<Jessica> "I know you can't help it... but you can't just react all the time. Think first, consider the impact of your words... and your posture. You're all threatening all the time... it's like you're in a war for dominance or something..." her nose wrinkled, "I don't want to fight with you over this, Sebastian... but it's going to happen if we keep going this way."
<Shaw> "I am... it's always been a war for dominance... in the Club, in business, in life. With you it was easier to lower my defenses... as with Hope." He swallowed. "And not for the reasons you seem to believe. She is Tony's daughter."
<Jessica> "And you're friends with Tony... so what was different about that? Why can't you do the same with Michael?"
<Shaw> He sighed. "I don't know. I need to try... but he is always on the defensive now. And yes, I realize I created that conundrum."
<Jessica> "So make an effort to put him at ease when you talk to him. He'll see you're making an effort... that'll help."
<Shaw> "How?" He met her eyes, sincere in this concern.
<Jessica> "Well... for starters... you need to stop towering over him and staring him down." She took his hand and pulled him over to the chairs sitting him down and standing in front of him where she drew herself up to her full height once she'd disposed of the blanket.
<Jessica> "This is threatening. Put yourself in his shoes. You talk down to him all the time, you give him orders about his personal life. This is our house. He knows that. You're already in a position of power over him and I'm sure he resents it just as much as you would if you were in his position - like you were when we stayed with Viper. He's been in this position for months now and I've done my best... but it's hard work."
<Shaw> He looked up at her and sighed. "He asked to be my son."
<Jessica> "Yes he did. So treat him like one. Treat him as you'd treat Hope, or as close to it as you can muster...."
<Shaw> "I'm unsure how he would respond." Sebastian rubbed his hands over his thighs, feeling the denim and watching the light reflect from his wedding band.
<Jessica> "Well he'll respond a lot worse than he would have done if you'd started this way... but you can't afford to get frustrated with him..." She crouched in front of him.
<Shaw> "I do realize I will drive all of you away if I'm not cautious." He looked up at her with a faint smile.
<Jessica> "It'll take a lot to get rid of me... but I will throw more things at you."
<Shaw> Sebastian smirked and reached for her hand.
<Jessica> She took his hand and pressed a kiss to his palm before holding it to her cheek, "You think I'm joking?" she returned the smirk and allowed the link to reopen.
<Shaw> He closed his eyes and let out a sigh of relief. "There you are," he smiled.
<Jessica> "I'm always going to be here... just sometimes you really don't want to know how pissed off I am... especially not when I'm pissed at you."
<Shaw> "I believe we do both... absorb the other's energy. It sometimes exacerbates situations such as these."
<Jessica> "And my new ability probably doesn't help in the slightest... I wish I could control it..." she held up the wrist with the inhibitor on, "For my own good...."
<Shaw> "I know you haven't had much opportunity to practice control." He took her hand and examined her wrist, then pressed a kiss there.
<Jessica> "No, I haven't... too much going on. I need a stable environment... and this house is not that."
<Shaw> "Well," he said, resolving himself. "We'll need to work on that."
<Jessica> "Yep... and we still need to find a nanny." She leaned to pull the blanket over again then climbed into his lap.
<Shaw> "Yes, we do." He helped her with the blanket, nuzzling into her hair. "First, I'll speak to Michael, and try to straighten things out."
<Jessica> "No you won't. Not today. Today you will leave them alone and we're going out for dinner."
<Shaw> Sebastian smiled against her ear. "Yes, ma'am."
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