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Circles of Pain.

Not so internal dialogue.

Norman Osborn

Oh?

Not so internal dialogue.

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Triptych
"She's our responsibility, Norman."

"Yes, of course she is."

"Therefore, so is he."
  • "Is he, now?" She's in the doorway, watching him. Her voice is gentle, careful. Not afraid, but... cautious. This is a new development, and should be treated with caution.
    • "Which he?" Oh dear. Is this the Norman you're looking for? "Harry? No, Plaine." He shakes his head, trying to shake something off. "My eyes itch."
      • "Plaine?" A soft brush of green against his mind, as she goes to him, sitting. Can she be there, Norman? Can she listen to your thoughts?
        • He draws her close, and it's not quite his touch, or quite his smile. His thoughts are deliberately wide open. No... their thoughts. Two in here, such very different shades.

          Amber, be careful.

          But they're willing to share, the worry about Sophia and her reckless associations.
          • She shivers, realising. But doesn't pull away. Oh, Norman... She doesn't pull away. If anything, she curls closer, wanting to see mor, th origin and the nature of this newcomer in her fiancee's mind. (Or was it even new?)

            "Plaine." Searching... "Oh." Her stomach turns, sick fear and dismay. "She's -- gotten involved with him?"
            • He chuckles, and the fingers combing through her hair feel ever so slightly clawed. Not entirely new, no. But it's been some time. A year, and then some. Maybe just before her time, that last time this mind surfaced, that entertaining fight with the masked man.

              "Inadvertantly, but she won't break things off."
              • She remembers vaguely, the way she does anything from when she was still Norman. This fresh reminder, the stark reality of those claws in her hair, makes her shiver, and she doesn't hide the fear from him. Or that it isn't enough to make her flee.

                Another unhappy sound. "She probably thinks she can pull one over on him. Hell."
                • There's a green chuckle in her mind, running deliberately down her spine. This voice is very pleased with what Norman has done for himself in its absense. Mostly.

                  "She probably could. No, she's too young."
                  • She shivers yet again at that green chuckle, and it isn't so much with fear this time. Oh. "Too young, and too cocky."
                    • "So much like my boy. No, smarter. Not him." Can she tell, who's speaking?
                      • Not as much as she would have thought she'd be able to. And that scares her, yes. "Norman..." Her hand on his arm, squeezing.
                        • He catches her hand, squeezes back. Still here, Amber. The new-old part of his mind finds her fascinating.

                          "She told me that she would talk to us in her time, but..." But an Osborn doesn't trust an Osborn.

                          "We may need to take more direct action. Take responsibility."
                          • She doesn't let go, her fingers wound in his. A lifeline. This is still the man she loves, damn it all.

                            "With him, or with her?" Sophia, it would be so easy for her to just reach in and...
                            • "Her, our daughter." The green curls around her, affectionate. "He's a lost cause. Diminishing returns."
                              • Nod. "No argument there." She wouldn't touch that mind without very good reason indeed. But doing something terrible to his body...

                                ...no. Sophia is the only real concern, here. "I can meet with her. Or you can, and I can come after..." It shouldn't be hard. But he would be good to have around, just in case she protests too much.
                                • "I have, I can again. She's in the Sanctuary often." He'll meet her there, and bring her here, if Amber doesn't want to go out?
                                  • Here would be best, yes. More familiar, the threads twist better for them both. "Mmmyes." She leans against him, getting more comfortable again. It's alright. She's still safe, even with this new development. Her Norman is still in there.
                                    • Yup. Right there, just the same as he's always been. The other has always been there two. But latent, where now he's awake. And playing with her hair.
                                      • She hums at the petting, and lets herself smile just a little. "You scared me, you know."
                                        • A rumble of amusement.

                                          "Did I?"
                                          • "You did. I thought something bad might have happened. Nexus, hm?" And the last time she was caught in an LOL, the madness and the hunger, not caring what she did to him...
                                            • "Mm." He nods, but he's smiling. "Not everything that happens in the Nexus is unwanted, Amber."

                                              Griiiin.
                                              • A gentle chuckle. "And this is a group consensus?" Just making sure. Just making sure...
                                                • "Mm." A not-answer both noncommital and amused. "Close enough."
                                                  • "I think you'll want it to be." A touch of frost in her voice, in the green of her touch inside his head. Don't think she can't, won't just rip you out, if you make things too difficult for them. Or for her.
                                                    • Oh, it likes her. They have so much in common, products of their makers' egos. Indulgances.

                                                      Would you really, darling? When I'm what you love most about us?
                                                      • If you make me, darling. She did it to her maker, to save her own skin. If she needed to tear Ulti apart, put him back together again exactly how she wanted him, to save either of them... well. There wouldn't be very much hesitation, let's just say.

                                                        She ignores, doesn't acknowledge that 'what you love most' comment. No matter how much she suspects it might be true.
                                                        • I wouldn't dream of it. Not yet, anyway. Give it time, let it explore what Ulti's become...
                                                          • You had best pray you don't. The green is closed-off now, cold with unsaid threats, and she's tense in his arms, eyes fixed on nothing at all.
                                                            • He kisses her temple, and then disappears with a twist of green that invites her to follow if she'd like, but promises nothing. Just as closed off as she.
                                                              • She snarls, cursing under her breath. But --

                                                                She isn't so good at transport-by-thread as he is. So it takes a few minutes, and her PINpoint. But she does follow him, this stranger in hier fiancee's body. God damn him.
                                                                • Busy! A bright, daylit crowd on a broad street, one lined with grassy medians, black iron fences, and the occassional small white building flanked with guards. Tourists swarm everywhere, in this sunny afternoon, many trying to take pictures through the fence of the very familiar building beyond.

                                                                  1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
                                                                  • Oh, Hell -- Her hands clench into fists as she fights down the panic, casting her mind about for the taste of Norman's mind as she weaves briskly through the crowds. Find him, make sure he doesn't do anything stupid, oh God please don't let him have done anything stupid...
                                                                    • Have some faith, darling. The thought comes out of nowhere, and then he's right there, through a gap in a crowd of school children, just leaning against a light post.
                                                                      • Her lips pull back in a snarl, teeth bared at him for just a heartbeat -- and then gone, everything hidden under a calm veneer as she joins him. I don't know you well enough to have any kind of 'faith' in you, just yet. What are we doing here?
                                                                        • He welcomes her with a mile smile, offering memories through that wall. This vista, a landscape of burning tanks, corpses, and rain. Harry. And herself, quiet sly green in the dark bedroom and Ulti's teeth on her skin. But you've known me all along.
                                                                          • She closes her eyes, trying not to show how much she likes that, the dark-bloody taste of those memories. How much she likes it, and how much she knows he's right.

                                                                            Her eyes are still shut when she replies, a green tendril twisting around him. You didn't answer my question. There are no claws yet, no thorns. But there could be, very easily.
                                                                            • He offers more of those rich, dark memories, and darker speculation, even as his own green slides into her skin, close-fitting and warm. If she opens her eyes, his are watching her, amused and shot through with gold.

                                                                              I came for the memories.
                                                                              • Norman... Her power coils inside his mind, trying to find her fiancee, hold onto his voice. See if he'll hate her if she lets this one... And she doesn't move against those ethreal touches -- why would she, when it wouldn't do any good -- but she doesn't push them away, either. Wavering, and since when has an Osborn been able to resist their Goblin?
                                                                                • It's hard to find a boundary, isn't it? Norman, her Norman, is only half an observer to his other side's thoughts and opinions. Hate her? No. Be thrilled about it? No. You see, what applies to her, applies to him.
                                                                                  • She winds her green around him, half to restrain and half to reassure. Oh, please give her an excuse... We should leave, before someone recognises you.
                                                                                    • Perhaps you're right.

                                                                                      There are, after all, black suits dotted liberally through this tourist crowd, and more subtle survelliance is inevitable.
                                                                                      • Of course I am. She wraps her power around them, and they fade from the notice of everyone that might be watching. "Take us back."
                                                                                        • Mm. He tugs her close, for ease of transport (obviously), and then they fall through the threads, disappearing away home.
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