Impossibilities - Part 1 @rubberduckiez
Learning to Say Sorry

Learning to Say Sorry

Nora sent Max and Flash into the manor ahead of her, choosing to sit in the car a moment to gather her thoughts. As they drove back, the nagging feeling that she should apologize to Leo had gotten stuck in her head and wouldn't go away. At first she was a bit surprised by it, but as she sat and stared at the steering wheel, she started to understand why.

She had been rude this morning - avoiding him. And even though part of her thought he might understand why, another part of her was slowly convincing the other that she should explain.

But that might open her up to more conversations that she didn't want to have with him. She was still embarrassed that she had opened up as much as she had already.

Closing her eyes, she took a deep breath and slowly let it out.

"You can do this, Nora," she whispered to herself.

She then opened her eyes, took a look at herself in the rearview mirror, nodded and then got out of the car and started towards the house. Regardless, she needed to give Ian the photos and video that she got. She almost wanted to do that first - a tongue-lashing from Ian was much easier to handle than talking to Leo.

"Was wondering where you got to," Ian said as she walked into the library.

Nora stopped, seeing Max with him, as well as Leo. She met Leo's eyes for a moment and then focused on Ian. She walked up to him, holding out the glasses.

"Got some more footage of foot soldiers," she said lightly.

Immediately, Ian frowned as he took the glasses. She calmly waited for him to start railing into her.

"Max mentioned that you went back out," he said, moving to plug in the glasses to the computer. "Do we really need to get into this again?"

"I was perfectly fine and they are none the wiser as to who I am," she said breezily. The sharp look Ian gave her told Nora that he obviously didn't agree.

But for whatever reason, rather than yelling he just took a deep breath and focused on uploading the footage so he could run in through his facial recognition program. Slightly shocked, Nora walked over and sat in a chair, watching calmly though she couldn't help but feel a bit twitchy. She could feel Leo watching her even though she was careful not to meet his eyes.

"These are new ones," Ian said as the footage came up.

"Hence why I thought it would help to get the footage," Nora said, now focused on the screen.

"Very well. Going to take awhile for the program to run. Might as well get something to eat," Ian said resignedly.

Nora hopped up and started towards the door.

"I'll come with you," Leo said, moving to follow her.

She paused for a moment, looking over at him. Of course she had planned to get him on his own to talk, and should have expected him to want to talk as well. Though rather than say anything, she just nodded as they fell into step together, leaving the library.

The walk down to the kitchen was silent and awkward, the both of them randomly glancing at each other here and there. Once they got there, Nora went to the fridge and pulled out leftovers, setting them on the island as Leo gathered plates.

"So… about last night," Leo started.

Nora stopped in heating up the food a moment, her back to him, steeling herself. She then turned to face him, finding that he was staring down at the island, playing with a fork.

"I'm sorry about… well… the awkwardness, I suppose," Nora said, causing him to look up at her. "I don't really… that was… I was drunk."

"Yea… guess I could tell," Leo replied.

Nora furrowed her brow, struggling to come up with what to say next. She had apologized. That's all she had intended to do. But why did she feel like she should say more?

"I don't like to talk about my past either," Leo said. "Ehm, well… about what happened, at least. Not with people I barely know. So I understand how you feel. But… I'm… it's okay to tell me... if you want."

Nora stared at him a few more moments without speaking, seeing the sincerity in his eyes. And being completely flabbergasted about it.

"I…" Nora stopped and turned around, watching the food in the microwave and finding it easier to speak when she wasn't looking into his eyes. Those blasted eyes that she felt could see into her soul.

"When Hobbs got us… his people… they experimented on me," Leo said quickly, almost as though he had to get it out before he changed his mind.

Nora sucked in a quick breath, turning to look at him again. It was Leo's turn to look away.

"It wasn't much - they didn't have us for long - but it was enough that I know I don't ever want anyone to try it again," he said hollowly. He looked up, meeting Nora's eyes for a few moments before looking down again. "They experimented on all of us, though Fred the most. Left him too… damaged. We had to keep him turned off and somewhere safe so they couldn't track us through him."

"Fuck," Nora breathed. She knew that Leo had grown up with him - saw him as a brother. Leo sighed heavily and leaned against the island.

"They wanted to know how to replicate my father's work, obviously," he continued. "They were interested in conscious synths and how to make more, but more than that, they wanted to know how it worked with me."

"But… it's your brain," Nora said, taking a step towards the island, feeling safer that it was at least between them. Leo nodded, a rueful smile appearing.

"Yea, wasn't so keen on strangers tinkering around in my head," he replied as he looked up and met her eyes again. This time he didn't look away.

"Reckon my brain is just one of many things," Nora said, leaning against the island as she looked down, studying its tile surface. For some reason, the words wouldn't stop, even though she was internally shouting at herself to do so. "Mostly my genetic code… though Beauchamp… he wanted to study it all…"

She frowned as unwanted memories flashed through her mind. She shook her head, as though she could shake them out.

"When I was younger… I didn't understand any of it. Didn't really until after he died and I figured out what I was," she said. "But… back then… he said it was for my mother… that all the tests and poking and prodding and… everything… it would help my mum. Told me that I needed to be a big girl and not cry because it was for Mummy..."

"Christ," Leo breathed. She glanced up at him, finding there was no pity in his eyes, just disgust for Beauchamp. "Did he have a story for her?"

"No… just that she died," Nora replied. "I assumed that I had something to do with her death… maybe giving birth to me or… something… so I sucked it up and took it. Thinking that it was all my fault and this was how I could make up for it." She huffed and rolled her eyes. "I wish I could blame that on him - that it was just another of his manipulations, but I did that all on my own…"

"Still doesn't make it right," Leo said quickly. "It wasn't your fault at all."

"Yea, but it's not like I knew that," she said just as quickly.

"And it was his fault that he didn't correct you. Or tell you the truth," he said vehemently. "That was on him. All of it. He never told you what you were. And even if he did, it doesn't excuse treating you the way that he did."

Nora stared at him, unable to speak. She could feel tears starting up and the last thing she wanted to do was to cry. She looked away, blinking rapidly as she felt her chest tighten slightly. Suddenly, all she could think about was getting out of the room. She didn't want him to know everything that Beauchamp had done to her.

"Yea, but that's what I am, isn't it? A fucking science experiement," she found herself saying, a bit more harshly than she intended. There it was. Her tried and true method of defense.

She took a deep breath and got herself under control before she looked back at him.

"No. You're a being with thoughts and feelings worthy of dignity," Leo said. "You deserved to know the truth and not be strapped down to an exam table for God knows what experiments he did. You deserved to have a life."

For a moment, Nor wasn't sure if Leo was talking about her, him, or the both of them.

The two of them stood there longer, just starting at each other, neither moving or speaking. Nora was the first to look away, finding Leo's gaze too intense. She could feel the tears again and cleared her throat.

"I, ehm, I just remembered something… to do," she mumbled, walking to the door quickly.

She wasn't sure if she was surprised or not, or if she had wanted him to or not, but Leo didn't follow.

Leo sighed and dropped his head into his hands after Nora left. Part of him knew that he was pushing her, but the other part felt as though he was pushing himself. All he could think about was the fact that Nora had so many walls up - just as he did - and perhaps there was something to the idea that they could help each other break them down.

But at the same time, he found the idea ridiculous. He didn't need any more people in his life, right? He had his family. The Hawkins - wherever they were. That was enough. Or so he had thought.

And Nora had made it abundantly clear all she needed was Ian and a purpose. One that she was already throwing herself into wholeheartedly. So why did he have this overwhelming desire to keep pushing?

Sighing again, he lifted up and made his way over to the microwave, pulling the heated leftovers out and starting to make up a plate. After he had finished with his own, he stopped, wondering if he should make one for Nora as well. He knew that there was no way she'd see him now, but he didn't like the idea of her getting hungry.

"Ah… figured you'd be here," Ian said as he walked in. Leo looked up at him, not saying anything. "Making up Nora's plate? I can take it up to her."

Leo nodded wordlessly and continued on with his work. Ian then stepped over and picked it up with a fork once he had finished. He paused as though he was going to say something, but instead smiled wearily and nodded before turning and walking out.

Nora chewed her lower lip as she stared out the window in her room over the back grounds, the moonlight glowing over the garden. Over and over again, she thought about Leo's words. That she was worthy of dignity and a life.

"I have a life," she said softly to no one.

But what kind of life was it? Running around helping synths. Trying to stay ahead of Qualia. Hell, she didn't even know what they could even do up against the massive company. It was just her and Ian, for the most part. Sure they had a few more now, but was it enough? She wanted to take Qualia down, but she didn't have the first idea how to do so. Sure she could write an article, but that would involve outing conscious synths and she wasn't if that was something she wanted to do.


She turned and looked to the door of her room, seeing Ian standing there with a plate of food.

"Though you might be hungry," he said, walking over and putting it down on a table.

Nora looked at it and then back at him, clearly seeing that he was going to make her talk.

"So he found you watching the videos," Ian stated. Nora nodded. "What did you tell him?"

"Why do you care?" Nora shot back. Ian sighed and rubbed his forehead.

"I wish you would stop fighting this," he said, not looking at her.

"Fighting what?"

"Talking," Ian said firmly.

"What do you think that we're doing now?" Nora said dryly.

Ian sighed and sat down at the table, fixing her in a stern stare.

"You won't talk about it with me-"

"And you think I'm going to magically open up to Leo Elster?" Nora scoffed, her cheeks heating up as she remembered what they had spoken about last night.

She had told him almost more than she had told Ian.

"You need to talk to someone, Nor. If not me, then why not him?" Ian asked. "What did you tell him?"

"It's none of your goddamn business," Nora replied.

"Obviously it's something. You've been avoiding him all day."

"And have you stopped to think about why? Because I'm not ready to talk about this!" Nora shouted. "About what he did!"

Ian didn't speak, just stared at her a few moments, several different emotions flying across his face as Nora continued to stare at him defiantly. Finally he sighed and leaned over on his knees, rubbing his face.

"What I don't understand is why now?" Nora continued. "We've been together for years and you never pushed me on this. So why are you doing it now?"

"Because I don't want to lose you, Nor. And I am," Ian said simply.

Nora's eyes widened as she took a step back, slightly shocked by his admission. Immediately, she was overwhelmed with guilt. Since she was 13, Ian had been there taking care of her. Standing up for her. Protecting her. First it was from bullies. Then from her father. And now he was trying to protect her from herself. And she was yelling at him.

"I'm not going anywhere, Ian," she said weakly.

"Not physically, no. But it's been getting worse. You're getting more reckless. Doing more dangerous things. And I know it's because you think you've dealt with all this and you haven't. You just keep bottling it up," Ian said. "And you obviously won't or can't talk about it with me, but that's okay. You just need to talk about it with someone."

Nora continued to stare at him, letting his words sink in.

"For some reason, you're opening up to him. And I think it's a good thing. Not something you should be afraid of, Nor," Ian continued. "I think you can help each other."

"I'm… Christ, Ian. I'm a…."

Nora couldn't say it - that she was afraid. It took a lot to let him in all those years ago. Letting someone else in - even if it was Leo Elster - was terrifying. Even the bit she had already let him know was scaring her.

"I know you're afraid, Nor. But don't give up on this," Ian pleaded.

She looked back over at him, meeting his eyes. The emotion there caused her heart to break as her chest tightened yet again. Nora struggled to take deep breaths. Finally, she walked over to him as Ian stood from the chair. Still unable to speak, Nora wrapped her arms around him and rested her head on his chest as Ian returned the embrace.

"I'll try," she whispered.

"Good. That's all you need to do," he replied.

With one last squeeze, Ian let go of her, offering a smile before he turned to leave the room.

"Ian," Nora called out, stopping him. He turned to look at her. "Thanks."

"Anytime, Nor."

Hester watched from down the corridor as the tall ginger man left Nora's bedroom, shutting the door behind him. Even after he had gone downstairs, she remained, processing the conversation she had just heard.

She knew the woman - Nora - was unstable, but that appeared even more clear to her. There was no way she could stay focused on the mission if she were in such an emotional state. Even though Hester herself often felt overwhelmed with the new things flooding through her, she did not allow them to affect her ability to think, work and plan.

Humans were complicated creatures, Hester thought as she made her way downstairs to find Leo. She did not understand why they allowed their emotions to affect them so strongly. Leo had said that something in Nora's past caused her to be the way that she was and Hester supposed in that sense, it was similar to bad programming. However, logically she knew that you could not simply re-wire a human the way that you could a synth.

Max and the other human - Ian - seemed to believe that Leo and Nora were similar. Try as she might, Hester could not see how. She had spoken with the others. Knew that Leo was part synth and had been committed to protecting them for years. Nora was completely human as far as Hester was aware. And far more volatile, though she admired the fact that Nora was not afraid to fight if it was needed.

But none of that explained the sharp pain that Hester felt whenever she saw Leo and Nora together. Or the way that they would look at the other when they thought no one was watching. Hester could sense things that they did not realize were being sensed. How their heart rates picked up around each other.

Hester's mind had been made up - Nora would be more a hindrance than a help. And Hester needed to keep Leo focused.

"Leo," she said, upon finding him in the ballroom, checking in with Max.

He turned and smiled at Hester as she approached, though she noted that his heart rate stayed even. He looked weary - much wearier than he had earlier.

"Yes, Hester?" he asked.

"I feel that we are losing ground. We should go back out tomorrow," she stated. Leo nodded almost immediately, which filled her with a strange sense of calm.

Hester wondered what this feeling was called.

"I agree," he replied. "We can set out after lunch."

"Why not before?" Hester asked, frowning slightly.

"Well… most people don't go to pubs before then. Though we could probably stake out the research complex in the morning before we go to the pubs and search for workers," Leo suggested.

"Perhaps you should take Nora as well," Max offered.

Hester gave him a sharp look, though both he and Leo seemed to miss it.

"I think it's best that just me and Hester go," Leo said quickly. "Don't think Nora's up for being around me right now."

"Did something happen?" Max inquired. Leo sighed and rubbed his face.

"Not now, Max," he said, his voice quieter. "I'll go speak to Ian - see if we can get some surveillance equipment for tomorrow."

He then turned and started out of the ballroom, Hester on his heels.

"I feel it will be far more fruitful with just the two of us," Hester said. Leo glanced at her, though didn't react at first.


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