Who: Sebastian & Nell What: Explanations Where: Sebastian's room at the Bellagio When: Friday night, after this conversation. Warnings/Rating: Lots of feelings.
The television was on low, some late night drama that meant very little to him, just noise to fill the air as he worked away at the laptop perched on his lap, propped up on the bed by a mound of pillows behind him. It was a rare moment of seriousness and concentration that few got a glimpse of, and he had only dove into it after Nell didn’t appear shortly after the text as a way to fill the time until she did arrive. He was dressed for bed in a pair of dark blue plaid pajama pants and a grey shirt, bare feet crossed at the ankle as he typed away, made notes on a pad of paper to his right. Business, particularly the sort needed to acquire a large piece of property, was not as entertaining and fun as some might have a made it out to be. But still, Sebastian was finding he had a flare for the act, and that’s how he knew it was the right path for him.
But what other path was correct? This brought his thoughts back to Nell, as they had traveled time and time again over the past days. There was a sort of nervous energy that filled him, the simple prospect of doing something that felt this right making his blood rush and his nerves tingle, and that was what had him feeling as though this was the right decision. Serena, he loved her, but never did she ignite him the way Nell did.
Perched on the fire escape outside his window high above the street, Nell watched Sebastian for a while. There was something fascinating about observing someone with their guard down, and Nell couldn’t help but stop and enjoy the view. He looked so relaxed, dressed for sleeps, his brow furrowed in concentration as he worked on whatever it was that had brought him to town. He had mentioned buying a casino, which to be honest, sounded like fun. Nell wondered why she had never thought about it. She’d have to talk to Orin about it later.
Right now, there was another conversation waiting for her. A conversation she was absolutely dreading, a conversation she hadn’t even had with her best friend yet. But if Sebastian was on his way to give up everything for her, the least Nell could do was give him the whole truth. He deserved that. And if after everything was said and done he decided against going through with it, Nell knew she couldn’t blame him either. If he was going to choose to give this... thing between them a try, he had to do so of his own accord, and no decisions was ever truly free unless made in light of all the information.
Taking a deep breath to steel herself, Nell leaned forward and tapped at the window. She had thrown a thin black coat over her Archer outfit to keep from being spotted from down below, but with the hood worn up to cover her hair, she was starting to sweat in the hot Vegas night. She knocked on the window again, slightly louder this time.
His attention was focused on the door, expecting a knock, a rap on the door with her knuckles, perhaps even a hiss of his name to call his attention. What he was not expecting was a tap on the window, and when it came, there was a jolt of surprise and immediately, the laptop was on the bed and his bare feet were on the floor, turning towards the window with a look of surprise that did not belong on his face. Clad as she was, he didn’t recognize her initially, but as he sought out her face beneath the hood that concealed the blond, Sebastian realised he knew this woman. Knew her, but not how she got out there.
Crossing over the room, he opened the window, pushing it outwards carefully so as not to dislodge her from her perch on the fire escape. “What in the hell are you doing out there?” Sebastian asked as soon as glass did not separate them, stepping back and extending a hand to her to help her through.
Nell’s lips automatically curled up into a smile, and she couldn’t help but try to make light of the situation while she still could. “I told you I was going to stop by. So I’m stopping by.” Her grin grew cheekier, and she pushed back her hood slightly so that the light from the room hit her face. “Can I come in?”
Jumping down from the windowsill once Sebastian made way, Nell pushed the hood down completely, idly running her fingers over the slightly wrinkled bedspread. “Are you busy? You looked like you were working on something important.” Now that she was here, Nell wasn’t sure going through with her plan was the best idea. She was looking for a distraction, any distraction. Anything to make Sebastian forget she was here to say something important.
“I didn’t expect for you to come through the window,” Sebastian said as he watched her land on the carpeting, shaking his head as he closed the window behind her. “I expected a knock. Like a normal person. Not...” He waved a hand in the air, unable to find the words, finally settling on a helpless grin as he took a seat once more on the bed, one leg pulled up with him. “And it was just work. Something to pass the time until you got here with whatever it was that you wanted to say to me.” Sebastian paused then, glancing at her, and then towards the window, his brows raising. “Let me guess. Part time aerialist or some such? A performer here in Vegas? Is that the big secret? If so, the costume is a little on the sedate side.” He reached out towards her, snagging a bit of her coat to drag her close, head tilted up towards her. “Talk to me.”
“Yeah well that’s the thing.” Nell stopped, swallowing hard, trying to look for the right words. Her instincts had her twitchy, and if it weren’t for Sebastian’s grip on the edge of her coat, she’d be pacing. “I couldn’t exactly walk through the lob-” No, that wasn’t where she wanted to start. “I’m not a performer-” Nope, still not it. She took a deep breath, forcing herself to concentrate on the air going in and out of her lungs. “I’m sorry, I’m terrible at this. What I have to tell you, only a handful of people know. Not even Maddie Kate knows.”
Nell looked down at Sebastian, looking up at her from the bed, the smile on his face lighting his eyes. She had to this. She had to. “I think it’ll be easier if I just show you.” Nell reached for the buttons on her coat, suddenly shy about what lay beneath the black cloth. Her hands fumbled like those of an inexperienced girl’s, working off her clothes for a boy she really liked. She was being ridiculous she knew. Tugging at the buttons harder, she finally un-snagged the material and let it slip off her shoulders, folding it in her hands as she waited for Sebastian to say something. “So now you see.”
Her explanation didn’t give him a lot to go on as she fumbled and stumbled on her words, but Sebastian could appreciate the seriousness of whatever was coming when he was told that this was something that not even Maddie Kate knew, which honestly surprised him. The smile faded from his lips as she worked, taking in the reveal as it happened, and whatever it was he was expecting, what was shown to him was not that. An expanse of red and black, material that clung to her curves. Not a performer, she had said that, but he couldn’t piece together what else it could be.
Sebastian’s brow furrowed slightly, and he gave a shake of his head, his confusion written clearly over his face. “I’m not sure I understand, Nell,” he said, giving a look to her garb once more before his gaze returned to her face. “Fetish wear?” The words sounded stupid even as he said them, but he could get nothing more out of this than that. “It’s fine, whatever you’re into. But -” Sebastian trailed off, letting his confusion settle over him.
Nell took a second to give him an incredulous look. “Fetish wear? I’m showing no skin, and the material is -” her words fell into a laugh, short and amused. “Is that something you’re into?” She shook her head, realizing they were getting off track. “Here, look.” She reached into one of the pockets of her belt, pulling the mask that had been neatly tucked away. “I’m a mask, Sebastian.”
“God, no,” Sebastian replied emphatically, shaking his head and giving a laugh of his own, but the expression and sound died off soon enough as she handed him the mask from one of her pockets. He got to his feet, looking at the piece of fabric in his hand, looking back towards her time and time again, her words echoing in his head. The term was unfamiliar at first, something he had to reach into the past to, but once realisation dawned, it had him turning towards her. “A mask?”
“Back in Seattle, the vigilantes? I was one of them.” She kept her voice carefully measured, not wanting to give away her anxiety as she waited for his reaction. “I have been for most of my life.”
Sebastian sat down heavily on the edge of the bed, the mask spread out between his hands, and things started to make sense. Different worlds, impossible to be together. It made sense with her working the side of justice, and his family living a life of organized crime. “And you’re still doing this?” he asked softly, not looking up towards her.
Nell bit her lip, fighting the urge to reach out to him, to touch him and try to see what he was thinking. “Yes.” She sank down onto the bed, giving him enough space not to crowd him. “In a way it’s what I was born to do. I’m good at it. I help people.” She shook her head, pushing the strand of hair that had escaped from her ponytail behind her ear. “That’s not the point. The point is that I wanted you to know before--” she trailed off, not wanting to say the words in case he had changed his mind.
His attention was focused down on the mask, running his thumbs over the fabric. “They were ready to kill the masks back in Seattle, Nell. That’s all I can think of,” he said quietly, looking back over towards her as she tucked that hair behind her ear, his expression open, not upset, not accusing.
“Yes, they were. I stopped for a while. They put Orin in jail and then the cops were following me. They were corrupt and broken, and they wanted to blame their failings on us.” She looked at his face, forcing herself to keep her head up until he looked her way. “They were wrong, Sebastian. All we did was help.”
He was quiet for some time after she spoke, finally letting out a breath as he offered the mask back to her. “I’m not entirely sure what to think right now,” Sebastian finally said, getting up to his feet and pushing a hand back through his hair, stepping over towards the window to look out over the city. “I don’t doubt that you believe yourself to be doing good. I don’t think you’re capable of hurting people like that so. I believe you. But...” Turning, he folded his arms across his chest, shoulders shrugging up slightly. “I worry.”
“I can’t tell you not to worry, the same way I can’t tell you that I never get hurt.” Nell leaned forward, elbows on knees, as she tried to put her reasons into words. “But I’m careful. And I’m good at it. And it’s the right thing for me to do. I don’t hurt people. I don’t try to pass my own sentences. I just help people who need it, and help the cops get around the god damn bureaucracy.” She closed her eyes, knowing what she had to do next, and not wanting to see the thoughts on his face as he reacted. “If this isn’t something you’re comfortable with, I understand. And if you change your mind about-- giving this a chance, I understand that too. I just wanted you to have all the facts before you made up your mind.”
There was a conflict stirring within him at this bit of information, but it didn’t rile him up the way it might have years ago. It was the sincerity in her words, and the simple fact that it was Nell telling him all of this that had him believing that what she had to say came straight from her heart. “I’m not comfortable with it, but...” Sebastian let out a breath and dropped down to sit beside her, close enough for their legs to touch. “I kind of get it. The why, I mean. You’re doing what you need to do, just like I’m trying to do what I need to do. Different situations but, you know what I mean.” An arm was wound around her and he pulled her in towards him, turning to rest his chin atop her head. “Does you telling me all of this mean you’re giving what I said serious thought?”
Nell released the breath she hadn’t known she had been holding, and allowed herself a small smile as she felt his arm around her. “I do, and I’m glad you’re doing it. The thought of people getting hurt--” But that was neither here nor there. “I guess, yes. A lot of people aren’t going to be happy about it, you know.” She opened her eyes, and reached out to smooth the fabric of his gray t-shirt. “And I’m scared.” There, she said it. It was out. The thought of being with Sebastian scared her out of her god damn mind, and the only thing that scared her worse was the idea of not being with him. “I’m fucked up and I’m broken and I don’t think my heart could handle being broken again, Sebastian.”
“What other people think about it doesn’t really matter in the long term. If they love you? They’re going to be happy if you’re happy. This all comes down to what you want.” His fingers gave her arm a rub, a small smile tugging on his lips as she smoothed her hand over his shirt. Reaching up, he covered her hand with his own, tangling fingers and giving them a tight squeeze. “I’m just going to have to be very careful not to break it again, aren’t I?” he asked, softly and sincerely. “Do you want this? It’s not going to be easy. But- it could be worth it.”
“I hope you’re right,” Nell said quietly, letting the quiet fall around them. She pulled away to look up at him when he took her hand, and laughed, soft and sad. “When has anything about this - us - any of it been easy?” She looked at him for a long moment, taking everything about the softness touching the hard edges of his face, memorizing it for if things fell apart in the future. Then she smiled, bringing the back of his hand to her lips, a gesture that was always his to make. “I guess this means I should go.”
There was nothing to refute in her words, so Sebastian didn’t say anything for a moment, matching her gaze, and in his own way, memorizing everything about her face. There was something special in her, something he had not allowed himself to think on for so long because before now, he could not have it. Now, with it dangling in front of him, tempting and dangerous, he wanted nothing more than this in his life. “Or you could stay,” he responded as her lips touched the back of his hand. “Nothing questionable. Just stay. Sleep.”
“If we’re going to do this, I want to do it right. Besides, I need to get out of this gear anyway.” She leaned forward, brushing her lips across his cheek before getting to her feet. She crossed back towards the window, pushing it open and leaping back on to the fire escape. “Talk to Serena. You know where I’ll be when you’re done.”
He knew that she was right in what she was saying, but that didn’t mean there wasn’t a twinge of disappointment as she rose and moved back over to the window. Getting up, Sebastian moved after her, hand resting on the frame of the window as he watched her on the fire escape, the wind rustling her hair. “Be safe, Nell,” was all he offered in lieu of a farewell, his smile a strange thing that had many emotions littered in it. “I’ll talk to you. Soon.”