After #fixit and Nuts Ruin Everything.
<Shaw> A shower had done much to improve his outlook and wash the alcohol from his system. Sebastian stood under the water for some time, eyes closed, debating if perhaps he had done a few rounds with his punching bag before the shower.
<Jessica> Jess was still somewhat apprehensive about being home but she let herself in anyway, putting Sharky and her bag down in the room at the bottom of the stairs before she headed up. Maybe she'd sneak a look in on Miriam before she tried to find anyone else.
<Shaw> He sensed her before he cut the water, but gave her privacy. Wrapping the towel around his waist, Sebastian stepped out and stared into the depths of his reflection. He still needed to shave.
<Jessica> She climbed the stairs to the first landing and slipped quietly into the nursery, stopping short when she found it wasn't just occupied by her daughter. "Oh..."
<Shinobi> He looked up at the sound and smiled. "Jess!" Obi was seated in the rocking chair, letting Miriam chew on his fingers and one of her toys in turn.
<Jessica> "Hey..." she returned the smile, closing the door behind her, "You look better..."
<Shinobi> "Yeah! I'm good." He turned Miriam around to face the door. "Hey, look. Mommy's home," he told the little girl.
<Shaw> Listening in, Sebastian shaved quietly, wondering if they had any eye drops in the cabinet. He looked much like he still felt - as if he hadn't truly slept.
<Jessica> Jess crossed the room, reaching to stroke her baby's head, "I'm glad you're okay...." she glanced up at Michael, "Hope made it sound... well... like you weren't... I was worried....."
<Shinobi> "She did?" Miriam dropped the toy and reached for her mother, making excited noises.
<Jessica> She nodded, reaching to take Miriam from him, "How's Sebastian?"
<Shinobi> "He's..." Well, probably listening. Obi scrunched his nose and shrugged at her. "Taking a shower." Finally. He happily handed over the baby and stood.
<Jessica> Jess cuddled her baby close and pressed a kiss to the top of her head, "That's not what I asked..." she frowned at Michael.
<Shinobi> He stepped in close and lowered his voice. "He misses you." Obi smiled and leaned in to carefully hug her without squishing Miriam. "We all missed you."
<Jessica> "I was only gone for one night..." she muttered back, wrapping her free arm around him.
<Shinobi> "Well, I think it's because of... why you left." He closed his eyes and gave her a squeeze. "Yesterday was awful for lots of reasons."
<Jessica> "Yeah..." she sighed, resting her head against his shoulder, "I needed a timeout..."
<Shinobi> "Yeah, I understand." At least, he thought he did. Miriam found his collar and tugged and Obi laughed.
<Jessica> "I still feel like I need more time but..." she shrugged a shoulder, "I'm here anyway."
<Shinobi> "I'm glad you are. What did Hope say, anyway?"
<Jessica> "Lots of things... largely that she was jealous of you... which was weird... and there was some yelling... but we're okay now... hopefully for good this time... we worked some stuff out..." she offered him a small smile.
<Shinobi> That made him pull back a little to see her face. "Jealous... of me?"
<Jessica> "Yeah... about how much I look after you... so I explained how it was before... and how weird it is that she calls Sebastian 'dad'... it works both ways." She wrinkled her nose. That was never going to not be weird.
<Shinobi> "It is weird," he agreed with a soft laugh. Then, he just studied her face.
<Jessica> She cocked her head on one side at the look, "I told her I'm your mom."
<Shinobi> "I know." Once upon a time, he'd been set to take her from Sebastian. Just because. "And I couldn't have picked a better one."
<Jessica> Her expression softened and she hugged him again. She wasn't going to cry.
<Shinobi> He knew that face and wrinkled his nose. "Don't cry," he whispered. "He'll think I did something terrible to you."
<Jessica> She laughed a little, "No one would ever believe that." She turned her head and pressed a kiss to his cheek.
<Shaw> Now shaved, dressed in casual clothes and unable to locate any eye drops, Sebastian stopped in the doorway to the nursery and watched them together.
<Shinobi> "Oh, he totally would," he laughed harder when Miriam squealed and added another collar tug to their embrace.
<Jessica> Jess laughed too, "Be glad you're not wearing a tie - she looooves those." They were her favourite chewing toy. The shape in the doorway registered with her subconsciously and she turned, her expression sobering noticably when she saw him.
<Shaw> Sebastian gave her a nod in greeting, and a faint smile. "She does indeed."
<Shinobi> He looked up at his father in the doorway. "Hey, it lives." Obi smirked.
<Jessica> "Hi..." Jess attempted a small smile in return but it felt awkward. Now... what to do with Miriam while they talked... she looked at Michael.
<Shaw> "Indeed it does. No thanks to you." He returned the smirk, managing not to sound annoyed, but his eyes slid back to Jessica. "Hello, koibito."
<Shinobi> After all the nonsense Sebastian had put them through last night and this morning, he was totally justified in needling the man. Grinning to himself, Obi held out his hands for Miriam. "We can go to Starbucks, right?"
<Jessica> "Sure you can.... if you promise to smuggle me back some cookies." She passed Miriam over, "I need them."
<Shinobi> "Of course!" He fussed with the baby, settling her against his shoulder. After a moment, he gave her a smile and moved past Sebastian at the door, meeting the man's eyes.
<Shaw> "Enjoy, little love," he said, pausing them to kiss Miriam on top of the head and grip Michael's shoulder for a moment.
<Jessica> Jess folded her arms loosely and shuffled on the spot, looking down at the floor. She leaned to peer under Miriam's cot and spied a pacifier hiding under there.
<Shaw> Farewell to the children complete, Sebastian turned and watched his wife. "How are you?" he asked quietly, taking a few steps into the room. Unable to decide what to do with his hands, he slid them into his pockets.
<Jessica> She shrugged a shoulder, "Doing better..." she bent to pick up the fallen pacifier and went to put it on the window sill for washing later.
<Shaw> "Good." He followed her, at a loss for words at the moment.
<Jessica> "Hope and I talked... so things should be better now..." She turned to lean against the wall and stuffed her hands into her pockets, "At least between the two of us..."
<Shaw> "I heard. At least, a bit of it, from Hope's perspective." He watched her. "I did not send her after you," he said, then paused, throat bobbing with a heavy swallow. "That implies things are not well elsewhere."
<Jessica> "You did send Yukio after me..." she pointed out, "When I wanted to be alone... to decompress...."
<Shaw> "She was only meant to ensure you were... well." He looked down. "Anything done beyond that was of her own accord." Sebastian had heard about their little adventure, in vague terms, and while he wasn't terribly pleased Yukio hadn't followed orders, perhaps it was good for Jessica.
<Jessica> "She brought wine... we got really drunk... then Hope woke me up early... so it was good up until then."
<Shaw> "Well, then I'm happy she improved your evening... if not your morning." Sebastian flashed her a smile.
<Jessica> "I could have done with more time than I got..." she admitted, though her gaze went to the floor.
<Shaw> He swallowed again and also found the floor fascinating. "I'm sorry, then."
<Jessica> "Hope said some things... made me come home... so here I am..." Wondering what the hell she was supposed to do with herself again.
<Shaw> "But you don't wish to be here." Sebastian went to the rocking chair and sat, propping his elbows on his knees to cover his face with both hands. Keeping their link shielded was becoming more and more difficult, but he was sure she didn't need it to see his thoughts on this.
<Jessica> "I didn't say that...." she sighed, "I just... you know I need a break - we were literally just talking about it yesterday before Hope came home." She leaned her head back against the wall to look at the ceiling instead, "I have no life outside of this house... and life inside this house has become incredibly stressful lately... it's taking a toll on me..."
<Shaw> "What would you like to do? Granted, it's already had an unconventional start, but we have hired a nanny, and you'd said before you wish to pursue your education once we did." He worked to keep his tone even.
<Jessica> "I don't know..." she frowned, "I need to do something that isn't sit around here all day... I was looking at courses but I haven't picked anything, I miss my job... I miss working with the school and feeling useful out there," she gestured vaguely toward the window.
<Shaw> "I see. And is there anything I can do to help?" He pressed his fingertips into his eyes, rubbing viciously.
<Jessica> "Stop worrying about me? Or, I don't know... check up on me sometime - ask me instead of cheating... you know I'm not okay... help me... I don't know who this person is that I've become. This isn't me, Sebastian.... I'm this anxious ball of reactions right now and I don't know how I got to this..."
<Shaw> That made him stop what he was doing and look at her. "You just asked me to stop worrying when you say I know you're not okay. I do know, but I don't know what to do to help. Nothing I have tried seems to help, and frankly at the moment I'm terrified to so much as touch you for fear of driving you away again." He hadn't at all intended to say all of that, but...
<Shaw> He heaved a shuddering sigh, trying to regain control of his emotions.
<Jessica> She sighed, going to him and crouching in front of the chair, placing her hands on his knees, "You've forgotten who I was when we met... just like I have. I can look after myself - I have a lifetime of training. You don't need to send people to watch after me. If you're worried about me - tell me. Be up front about it because you know it drives me crazy when people hide things - I always know it's happening."
<Shaw> "I don't think Yukio was hiding terribly well, anyway," he noted, but covered her hands with his own.
<Jessica> "No... but you hit the desperation button for some reason..." She sighed, "If you want to help me... ask me what I need... sometimes I won't know... that's just how it is."
<Shaw> "I am asking, and, frankly, I wasn't truly attempting to hide anything from you."
<Jessica> "You're filtering our link a lot lately," she pointed out, though her tone wasn't accusatory, "I know it's probably in some kind of effort to protect me... which is why I didn't bring it up... and, yes, you're asking now. But on a regular day? I'm in the background, hiding behind cleaning and cooking which I'm also not doing like I used to. I feel like an afterthought..."
<Shaw> "You are not an afterthought," he said, meeting her eyes. "You're my wife, and I thought you knew you could tell me when you need help. Yes, I have tried to keep my emotions from overwhelming you when I know you're struggling with a new ability. As you're aware, I'm doing it right now. Would you prefer I didn't?"
<Jessica> "I don't feel like I can tell anyone when I need help - everyone relies on me to be okay all of the time. I have to be okay because I have to look after the house and Miriam and make sure there's dinner and the cupboards are stocked and the dishes are washed. By the time I've done all that I'm too exhausted to make anything of my own feelings."
<Jessica> She looked down at their hands, "And then I try to sleep and all the things I don't say haunt my dreams... and then you're here and you're hiding your feelings from me and I know... I know you're doing it because you're trying to help but there's always going to be some small part of me that worries... I can't make it stop."
<Shaw> He shook his head. "Well, perhaps now having Miss Jones here will help with some of that. I'm afraid I don't understand what you want from me. I know you don't sleep well, and I can sense your nightmares if not the content..."
<Jessica> "Don't you see that somehow that's worse? I want help around the house but now I'll have more free time... and I don't know what to do with it... I don't know what you'd be willing to let me do with it."
<Shaw> Sebastian frowned. "What do you mean?"
<Jessica> "You want to protect me... I appreciate it, I do... but I don't need it. I'm not a child - I'm a grown woman. At this point I think protecting me is actually doing more harm than good... I've been letting you do it."
<Shaw> He nodded, once, and squeezed her hands. "I'll restore our link. Perhaps that would be a first step?"
<Jessica> "I think it'd help," she offered a small smile, straightening up and getting to her feet.
<Shaw> He kept one of her hands and closed his eyes. It went counter to his instincts to let her feel all the uncertainty he was currently experiencing, but he lowered his defenses and squeezed her fingers.
<Jessica> She squeezed back then quietly climbed into his lap and curled up there, "I told you yesterday... this is my home. You don't have to worry about me going anywhere - if anything good's come of all the drama over the past couple of years it's that I've outgrown my tendency to run away."
<Shaw> "I'm glad," he said, wrapping his arms around her and nuzzling her hair. "I don't think I could bear it if you did." The waver in his voice was unavoidable.
<Jessica> She snuggled and lifted her head to press a kiss to his jaw, "I won't. I would never leave you or Miriam. Not unless I had no other choice... and I'd have to be dragged away kicking and screaming."
<Shaw> "And that is part of the reason why I do things like send Yukio to check on you, love. It's not that I don't trust you. I don't trust others." He turned his face toward hers and brushed their noses together.
<Jessica> She stuck her hand into her pocket and pulled out a small jewelry bag, passing it to him. "Trust me not to be a moron."
<Shaw> He accepted the bag and shifted her just enough to allow him to look inside at the tracking device. "Ah," he said with a slight chuckle. "I knew you had it, actually, as we're in the spirit of full disclosure. Thank you for carrying it."
<Jessica> "So you don't have to worry all the time," she pointed out, "I'm capable of looking after myself - you know that... so just... believe it."
<Shaw> Sebastian nodded and leaned his forehead against her, folding the jewelry bag into his hand. Having her here, and so close, was doing wonders for his own anxiety at least.
<Jessica> She shifted to wrap her arms around him, "Remember, I can knock you on your ass and feel sorry for anyone who tries to make me do something I don't want to do, okay?"
<Shaw> "Yes, ma'am," he said with a smirk, not opening his eyes.