Impossibilities - Part 1 @rubberduckiez
Processing

Processing

Nora couldn't help but be a bit jumpy as she made her way downstairs the next morning, a bit later than usual. Leo had stayed the night in her room, the two of them falling asleep after talking a bit, but then left to go to his and get ready for the day shortly after waking up.

As soon as he walked out of the door, Nora had been assaulted with all the memories of the night before. How he had touched her. How she felt. She had gotten a bit lost in it while she took her shower, but then the implication of what they had done took over and now she was an antsy mess.

They had decided not to mention what had happened to anyone. Not until they sorted it out themselves, but she couldn't help but wish she could talk about it with Ian. She wasn't even sure just what it was that she was feeling towards Leo.

They had slept together.

While normally this particular action wouldn't cause her any worry, this was different. Before it had been one-night stands or casual flings. She hadn't really felt any sort of way about the blokes. But this… she knew that whatever it was with Leo, it went deeper than just casual. Fuck, and she had told him about what Beauchamp did to her when she was 16. Had told him before how she thought she had caused her mother's death and Beauchamp let her think that to manipulate her. She hadn't even told Ian, though she was sure he knew some of it since he had poured over Beauchamp's research.

"Morning, Nor. Having a bit of a lie-in?" Ian asked lightly as she walked into the breakfast room.

She stopped, freezing as she felt heat pool in her cheeks. He was sitting at the table with his tablet in front of him, likely going over the morning news. But then he looked up at her and she was sure he knew. He did have the room next to hers, though she didn't think they had been that loud and their rooms were separated by the sitting room. It was just the once, but then they had lay together, wrapped in each other's arms, talking until they both fell asleep.

"I… yea… couldn't sleep," she muttered, quickly making her way to the table and sitting down. She started to fill her plate, still feeling Ian's eyes on her, studying her.

But before he could answer, Leo walked in and stopped, his eyes widening as he saw Ian and Nora.

"Morning," he then said, dropping his gaze as he shuffled over and sat next to Nora. She jumped slightly, feeling the electricity between them even though they weren't touching.

"Have trouble sleeping as well?" Ian asked. Nora looked up, seeing a slight smirk on his face.

Christ, he knew.

"Just a bit," Leo said quickly as he filled his plate.

Thankfully, the conversation turned to what Hester had gleaned from the guard added to everything they already knew about Qualia and ventured nowhere close to the slight awkwardness between Nora and Leo. She was sure Ian had picked up on it, but bless him, he didn't mention it at all. Though she knew it was only a matter of time.

Sure enough, just as soon as Leo had left the room, saying he was going to check in with Max, Ian leaned back in his chair, a large smile on his face.

"So… noticed things seemed a bit… different… with you two this morning," he said casually, reaching for his teacup.

"Really?" Nora asked, attempting to play it off.

"Yep… just a bit…"

Nora stared at her coffee mug and then looked up at him, seeing the smug smile across his face. She then huffed and shook her head.

"We weren't going to tell anyone until we sorted out whatever… this… is," she admitted. Ian chuckled.

"Really? Pray tell, what is it you're not meant to say?" he asked teasingly. Nora was sure he knew that she was going to come out with it soon enough.

"So we… well, yesterday…" she stopped, unsure of where to start with this. "We slept together."

She didn't look up for a few moments, but when she did, she found Ian still smiling.

"And…" he asked. She huffed.

"I don't know! It might mean something… it might not," she confessed.

Ian's smile lost its smugness as he leaned forward and concern entered his eyes. Nora sighed, sitting back in her chair.

"I don't really know what to do with this," she confessed. "You know me… I don't do relationships… if that's what this is…"

"We both know that's nonsense. You have a relationship with me. With Martha," Ian said sensibly.

"It's different and you know that," Nora said, frowning. "This is… I'm not even sure if I want this… It's, it's…"

"Terrifying?" Ian finished for her. Nora met his eyes. "Reckon it is. Relationships usually are."

"It's like… part of me wants to let him in. To… experience this. Let him closer. And I did that, but I'm afraid of what this means. Of what comes next… I'm not like others. I'm not… normal," she said.

"And neither is he. I feel like he'll understand that. Already does," Ian said softly. "It's okay to let others in, Nora. There's always room for more people in your heart." Nora stared at him a few moments, unsure of how to continue. "I mean… I have been pushing both of you to open up to each other. I figured it was bound to happen one way or another. Granted, wasn't expecting you to sleep with him so soon."

"Ian!" Nora nearly shouted, frowning. He just chuckled.

"Seriously, Nora. We both know he understands you in a way I can't. That others can't. And from what I've seen, he does really seem to care about you. This isn't something casual or passing with him," Ian said. "I also suspect that he's going to need time processing it as well."

"Likely," she replied. "Christ… even when I was trying to push him away, he didn't stop. He didn't turn away. He… stayed…"

"See? I think that's a good sign," Ian said, his smile back.

"You honestly think this is a good idea? Me and Leo?" she asked. Ian nodded.

"If that's what it takes to make you realize that you deserve to have a life… a happy life, then yes," Ian replied. "I'll be here for you no matter what, but… we both know that there's only so much I can do. You need him, Nor. And I'm fairly certain he needs you too."

Nora sat silently a few moments, thinking it over. Perhaps Ian was right. Yesterday had been a rollercoaster, that was for sure. And a part of her wondered if things happened the way that they did just because she had been upset and confused and all. But at the same time, she remembered how she had felt with Leo.

How she felt safe. Wanted. Dare she say it, perhaps loved.

"I still need to… think about all this," she said, looking back up at her best friend.

"Think about it. But don't overanalyze," Ian said, standing. "Sometimes you just have to go with it."

"Funny hearing you say that. Thought you didn't like it when I went with it," she replied, a hint of snark in her voice. Ian chuckled.

"In this case, I'm advising it," he said.

She nodded as he walked out of the room, but not before telling her they would have a briefing soon to start going over their next step with Qualia.

Nora needed to figure just what she wanted… and soon.

Leo couldn't help but feel distracted as he stood in the ballroom with Max and Flash, the latest newcomer brightly going over how she was learning to tend to the massive garden out back. He smiled and nodded at the right times, but his mind was elsewhere, wondering where Nora was.

He kept glancing towards the doors, wondering if she would come in. He knew they needed to talk more about last night. About this thing between them. But at the same time, part of it scared him. What did he want from this?

He knew it was more than just a fling. And definitely more than just a one-time shag. He had felt something with Nora that he had never felt for anyone else. Perhaps he had started feeling something similar with Mattie, but never this intense. And now he really only saw her as a younger sister type.

"Leo," Max said, getting his attention.

Leo looked over at his brother, realizing that Flash had wandered off.

"Sorry about that," he said, a light blush coming over his face. "Must have gone somewhere…"

"I could tell," Max said. "Is this about Hester? Because I assure you, I am dealing with her."

"No, it's not… well… maybe part of it," Leo said.

He had truthfully nearly forgotten about that mess. In the midst of the emotional ups and downs he had been going through with Nora, the synth and her actions had slipped his mind.

"We did get good information from her," Max admitted. "But I am still not happy with the extremes she took."

"Neither am I, to be honest," Leo said.

"Ian believes he can put together a plan. But I am not so sure that we should willingly go into danger," Max said. Leo frowned.

"Don't you want to get them from Qualia?" he asked, surprised.

"Yes, but… Ian does have a point. There are still a lot of unknowns. And I don't like the idea of putting anyone in harm's way in order to get into Qualia," Max said reasonably. "But I sense there is something else that bothers you."

Leo's eyes widened. Though he shouldn't have been surprised. Max was his brother. Knew him better than most. Of course, he would pick up on something.

"Well… something else did happen last night," Leo started. But then he wasn't sure just how to explain it. He knew that he and Nora had agreed not to tell anyone about them until they figured some things out.

But in that moment, he desperately needed to talk to someone about it. Specifically,6 someone who knew him. And he was fairly sure that Nora would break down and tell Ian if she hadn't already. That promise was as good as broken the second they made it.

"Between me and Nora," he finally said, deciding that he didn't need to go into details. "We… talked and… things happened… and I'm not exactly sure where they leave us."

"I see," Max replied, though Leo could see a small smile appearing. He groaned and started pacing around. "I think this is a good thing."

"Really? Are you sure? Because… it's not like I'm a normal person," Leo replied, his anxiety starting to well up.

It had been building ever since he left her room and the full weight of what had happened settled in. While he had wanted her to open up to him, to open up to her, to see where things could go, he hadn't been expecting to sleep with her. But at the same time, where they both seemed to struggle with their words, they managed to communicate physically.

Leo felt as though he were far, much too far, into the deep end with this. And he wasn't sure how long he could keep treading water.

He was far from normal. Didn't even think himself capable of having anything that closely resembled a normal relationship. So why was he so drawn to Nora? He had told her last night that he wanted to start living. That he wanted to do so with her. But what did that entail? It wasn't as though they could just have a normal life. Go out on dates to the cinema and such. Romantic dinners at restaurants. Live happily ever after.

Leo was sure whatever happened in his life, there was no happily ever after there.

But somehow, there was now a small hope in him. That things could work out. That he didn't have to leave the shadow of his past hanging over him. But where did that leave his family? He had Max, Mia and Niska to think about. As well as all the other conscious synths. And the ones currently trapped at Qualia, who was doing god knew what with them. Where did Nora and a possible relationship even fit it with all of that?

"She understands, Leo," Max said gently. He stopped pacing and looked over at his brother. "And I think… there could be a future - a happy future - if you allow yourself the chance."

"But what about our plans?" Leo asked, frowning. Max chuckled and looked around the room.

"We can still help them - the others like me. With Nora and Ian. We can stay here. I think we - yourself included - would be happy here. Much happier than being on the run all the time," Max said sagely. "Don't you want to know what that feels like, Leo? Happiness."

"I know what it feels like. I was happy with you all," Leo said.

"Yes, but didn't it always feel like something was missing?" Max countered.

Leo opened his mouth to tell him that he had never felt that way, but then stopped. Now that Max had mentioned it, he realized that it was true. At the back of his mind, he had always felt as though there was something not there. But he had never been sure of what it was.

He turned, seeing Nora walk in. She stopped and looked around, but then almost as though she were somehow naturally guided towards him, their eyes met. A warmth filled Leo as she smiled slightly and started towards him. It was then that he knew it was true. Something had always been missing. And it was now walking towards him.

"If you aren't busy, Ian wants us to go over some things in the library," Nora said. Leo nodded.

"Of course," he said quickly.

He and Max then followed Nora, moving through the house to the large library at the other side. While she spoke, his mind wandered back to last night. Holding her in the lab. At the time, he hadn't really thought much about what to say or do after she had confessed what Beauchamp had done to her. All he wanted was to make her feel safe. To assure her that no one would harm her again. He wasn't sure what had possessed him to reach out and pull her into his arms, but he had done it all the same.

And had been happy when she didn't pull away at first.

Then he thought about her lying in his arms in her bed. How it had felt right, even though his mind was still reeling. Leo didn't completely understand it all, but he could tell. Nora was that something missing. And he didn't want to let her go.

Leo couldn't help but continue to glance at Nora throughout the briefing. While Hester's information helped, it still hadn't brought them closer to breaking in to save the synths. At least not to a point that Ian felt comfortable with going through with it. Surprisingly, Nora hadn't fought him on it, rather agreed.

It had shocked Leo, though he kept his expression neutral. Ian had been visibly surprised, shooting a look at Leo that had him squirming a bit. He had figured Nora would say something to him, but he wasn't sure how he felt about it.

Once the briefing was over, Nora was up, coming up with some sort of excuse about checking on Martha before she left the room. Leo had started to leave as well, noticing Hester approaching him when Ian asked if he'd stay a moment. Apparently he had something to ask him about. Leo agreed reluctantly as a smiling Max took Hester out of the room.

When it was just the two men, Leo turned to Ian, waiting for the inevitable.

"So… Nora told me some things," Ian started.

"Yea?" Leo asked, unsure of just how much she had told her best friend.

Ian smiled and chuckled.

"Christ, you look like I'm about to bring out a shotgun and threaten you if you ever hurt her," he joked. Leo's eyes widened. "I'm not about to do anything of the sort."

"Oh," Leo said, finding his words failing him. Ian motioned for him to sit and he did, watching as Ian did the same, though he couldn't help but tap his foot nervously. "So… she told you." Ian nodded.

"She said that you weren't going to mention it until you had figured some things… sorry," Ian said, seeming genuine in his apology.

"Truthfully, I may have mentioned something to Max," Leo confessed. "Just… this is all… new… in so many ways."

Ian sat back in his chair, studying Leo closely.

"I assume it would be," he then said. "For both of you. Nora, she's… she's strong, don't get me wrong. But she's unsure of how to handle this development. As I assume you are as well." Leo nodded. "Suppose the only way to go about it is to learn as you go…"

Leo looked down at his hands, trying not to wring them. He felt altogether uncomfortable speaking to Ian about this. Just how much had Nora told him about last night?

"I'm okay with it," Ian said. Leo looked up at him. "I felt that you should know that. Whatever it is with you and Nora. I've been pushing her to open up to you, after all."

Leo nodded, once again looking down at his hands.

"I wasn't sure how you might… take it. I'm not even sure what this is, to be honest," he found himself saying. Ian chuckled.

"She said the same. Suppose you'll need to talk to her about that," he said.

Before he could say more, Ian's tablet buzzed. Leo looked up as Ian reached for it, scrolling through it.

"Got another who picked up our transmission," he said, frowning slightly. "Not far from here, actually…"

Leo stood and walked over, looking down at the screen. With everything the way it was, he felt the overwhelming desire to get out of the manor. Clear his head a bit before he tried talking to Nora.

"I can get it," Leo offered. Ian looked up at him. "It's not far and well… kind of need to do something to…" He trailed off, unsure of how to finish that statement.

Ian smiled in understanding before standing up.

"Suppose I can understand that. Alright. I'll get you the keys to one of the cars. I'll send them the coordinates where to meet," he said, already walking over to his desk.

"Alright…"

1. Runaway 2896 0 0 2. Rescue Me 3659 0 0 3. Discoveries 4352 0 0 4. A Whole New World 3549 0 0 5. Mr Sandman 2912 0 0 6. Awkward Silence 3542 0 0 7. Ghosts of the Past 2895 0 0 8. The Art of Letting Go 3386 0 0 9. Maybe You're Right 3071 0 0 10. Learning to Say Sorry 3242 0 0 11. Blooming 3723 0 0 12. To Make the Hard Decisions 3344 0 0 13. Do the Ends Justify the Means? 3646 0 0 14. Breakthroughs 3940 0 0 15. Processing 3160 0 0 16. Setbacks 3857 0 0 17. Closing Time 3569 0 0 18. Decisions Made 2842 0 0 19. Helpless 3154 0 0 20. Not Over Until It's Over 2701 0 0 21. The Day the World Changed 3998 0 0