Timelined after Ritz Crackers
<Shinobi> He dozed on the sofa, half listening to the television and unwilling to open his eyes. He was actually comfortable, and he didn't want to move.
<Hope> Hope lay on top of him, one arm along his side and the other tucked under her chin as she stared blankly at the television. She wasn't sure how long they'd been like that, but she knew one thing. She hadn't slept. Nope. She wasn't doing that.
<Shinobi> Attempting to stretch, he stopped with a hiss of pain. "What time is it?"
<Hope> She winced at his pain, shrugging a bit. "Afternoon?"
<Shinobi> Obi pried an eye open and squinted at one of the windows. The sun was still up, and afternoon was a good guess. "I think I need my meds..."
<Hope> "Where are they?" she asked, reluctantly sitting up a bit.
<Shinobi> "I think they're still in my bag." He hadn't bothered to unpack after Sebastian and David left. And now, Drake was making himself scarce as well, though he was close by in the suite's second bedroom.
<Hope> "I'll get it," she told him, moving carefully around him to get to her feet.
<Shinobi> "Thank you." He watched her, feeling warm.
<Hope> She kissed his forehead softly before going for the bag. She knelt down to pick it up and had to pause as her stomach cramped up.
<Shinobi> His smile slipped at her pain and he found himself rubbing his own stomach below the bandages in sympathy. "I still think you should get somebody to look at that..."
<Hope> "I'll be fine," she assured him, taking deep breaths until it passed, then pushed herself to her feet with his bag in hand. She made her way back over to him on the sofa, setting the bag down. "Where is it?"
<Shinobi> "I don't know," he admitted with a quiet laugh. "I just kind of threw things in there..." Sitting up, slowly, he rubbed her back when she sat back down.
<Hope> "Hmmm..." she unzipped the bag, searching for it. With some effort, she pulled out the small pill bottle with a bit of an accomplished smile. "Found it."
<Shinobi> "My hero." He smirked, reaching for the bottle of water on the table. It took him a moment, but he took the pills and downed two.
<Hope> Hope curled up next to him, running her fingers through her hair. She looked down at it, frowning a bit. It was stringy. She hadn't curled it.
<Shinobi> He recapped the bottle and put it aside, sliding his arm back around her and playing with her hair.
<Hope> Nestling against him, Hope dropped her own hand from her hair and let him play with it instead. "When are you going back to class?"
<Shinobi> "I suppose I shouldn't drive high," he admitted, laughing a little as he wrapped a lock of red hair around his index finger.
<Hope> "No, you shouldn't," she admitted too, sighing just a little as she relaxed next to him. "Was just wondering." She glanced over to watch his fingers with her hair.
<Shinobi> "I don't know. I guess whenever I can." His mouth pulled sideways at the thought he was already behind.
<Hope> She nodded. "I wonder if I can even still graduate now."
<Shinobi> "You haven't missed that much," he said, turning his head and craning his neck a little to try to see her face.
<Hope> Yet. She didn't turn to look at him. She had very little intention of finishing out the semester. Her project would likely pass. Surely Sebastian could waive her finals.
<Shinobi> "That school is made for chaos, so I would think they'd understand if you took a week off..." Why wasn't she looking at him? She felt... off.
<Hope> She stayed silent, not wanting to point out that she needed a good deal more time than a week. She was spared answering by a sudden stomach pang, tensing up.
<Shinobi> He winced and set his hand on her lower stomach, closing his eyes. I'm sorry.
<Hope> She waited until it passed before she spoke again. "Not your fault," she pointed out.
<Shinobi> "Yes and no." He smiled faintly to himself and rested his head against hers. They were a fucking mess.
<Hope> "Definitely not," she closed her eyes, breathing heavily as she steadied herself.
<Shinobi> Slowing his own breathing, he hoped she would follow suite and calm. Definitely yes, he silently disagreed.
<Hope> She did follow his lead, falling in with his pace. Once she was fine again, she sighed. "I won't be going back to school."
<Shinobi> He stiffened.
<Hope> She winced at his shift.
<Shinobi> After a long pause, he licked his lips. "Why not?"
<Hope> She pulled away so she could look up at him. "Why would I?"
<Shinobi> "What happened... it wasn't the school's fault."
<Hope> "I know that. For once, it had nothing to do with the school. I just... I can't."
<Shinobi> "Why? You're almost done."
<Hope> "Because I can't!" She snapped, moving to leave him and go to the window.
<Shinobi> Surprised, he sat up and hissed at the pull of his injuries.
<Hope> The hissing made her wince, though her back was to him. She stared at the window, watching the people down below. "I can't," she told him more gently. "I don't feel safe anymore." Which was stupid and absurd and something she was sure Jess would give as an excuse.
<Shinobi> "Where..." He paused to gather his thoughts and catch his breath, sliding to the edge of the sofa to watch her. "So where do you feel safe?"
<Hope> She thought about it, shrugging a bit. "Here."
<Shinobi> "Here?" They couldn't stay here indefinitely. He looked around and slowly pushed himself upright.
<Hope> She shrugged again, her arms wrapped around her stomach as she stared at the clouds.
<Shinobi> He caught the shrug and frowned. "Why here?"
<Hope> "I don't know... I always came here."
<Shinobi> He liked the hotel just fine, but... "I don't really know where is best..."
<Hope> "Well when you figure it out, you can go there."
<Shinobi> He flinched.
<Hope> She tightened her hold on herself to keep herself from shaking. "Nobody's forcing you to be here," she told him softly.
<Shinobi> This change confused him, and since his pain meds were finally kicking in it wasn't becoming any easier to think. "Right."
<Hope> Her steel resolve caved as her stomach cramped up, causing her to cry out as she went down.
<Shinobi> "Hope!" He didn't feel his own pain and made it to her side within a few strides.
<Hope> She reached for him this time.
<Shinobi> Carefully he went to his knees and took her hand. "Baby, you need to go to a doctor, or call David back here..."
<Hope> She swallowed the lump in her throat, looking up at him. "I want you to do what makes you happy," she clarified to him, squeezing his hand tightly. "I will be fine... I will."
<Shinobi> "You make me happy. You." He blinked rapidly, moving closer. She was so far from fine. So was he.
<Hope> She moved to him, pulling him to her. "I love you. So much."
<Shinobi> "I love you, too." Biting his lip, he held her close and sniffed back his own tears.
<Hope> "I just want to stay here with you. I don't know how long. Just... just for now." She told him through her tears. "I don't want to go back there. Or to New York. Or DC." Or the Shaws for that matter.
<Shinobi> "Okay, we can do that." He stroked her hair gently.
<Hope> "I can't be who I'm supposed to be," she confessed, her head dropping onto him. I don't have to pretend with you.
<Shinobi> "You're Hope Stark, so you're already who you're supposed to be." He on the other hand...
<Hope> He didn't get it. She sighed, wiping her face and closing her eyes. "That's... not what I meant. It doesn't matter." She nestled into him. "I should get you back to the sofa."
<Shinobi> "No, it matters." He settled more comfortably. "What do you mean then?"
<Hope> Hope shifted to get comfortable against him. "When I'm with Tony I have to be the First Lady... At the club I have to be the Black Rook. At school I have to be, I don't know, former x-man, student, Stark. I'm not used to all this. I was nobody. But here? With you? Its just... us. No airs. No pretenses."
<Shinobi> "Ahhh... exactly then. You're Hope." He smiled, winding her hair around his finger. The question that had been burning in the back of his mind for days made him bite his lip.
<Hope> "Just Hope with her Obi," she clarified, smiling just a little. She relaxed against him, calming.
<Shinobi> It made him smile a little. "Can I ask you something?"
<Hope> She looked up at him, giving him a bit of a look. "Of course."
<Shinobi> That expression on her face made his smile grow and he cupped her face in one hand. Did he want to know? Really?
<Hope> She closed her eyes briefly, nuzzling his hand. "What is it you want to know, Obi?" she asked softly, opening her eyes again.
<Shinobi> "When I was, um, hurt... I remember something..." Why was he asking this? Wasn't it enough that she loved him? That they were together?
<Hope> "Lots of screaming?" she asked, trying to make light of it.
<Shinobi> Despite himself, he huffed a silent laugh. "I had a good excuse."
<Hope> "So did I," she assured him, placing her hand over his.
<Shinobi> He snorted a bit and kissed her palm. "No," he said, drawing out the word and then blowing out a long breath. "I meant I remembered that you... asked me to stay. You said..." Swallowing, he looked down. "You said you wanted us to get married..."
<Hope> The color drained from her already pale face as the memory flashed in her mind. I love you! We can get married! We can have kids! Just please don't leave me... Don't go... She agreed to marriage and kids. "So... so you remembered that?"
<Shinobi> He chanced a look at her and then closed his eyes. Of course. He'd expected different? She was terrified and she'd have said anything. "Yeah," he said, clearing his throat when his voice betrayed him with its hoarseness.
<Hope> Of all the things to remember... "So... what's the question?"
<Shinobi> "It doesn't matter." He shifted away from her and grabbed a chair to pull himself up.
<Hope> "...Yes it does!" She protested as she watched him.
<Shinobi> "It's..." He set his jaw and stood, slowly. "No, it doesn't. We're together right now and... I can't ask for more than that."
<Hope> "So you get to decide what's important or not?!"
<Shinobi> He turned and looked down at her, surprised by the sudden outburst. "What?"
<Hope> "Nothing. It's not important remember?" She grabbed the small pillow from the window seat next to her and chunked it at him.
<Shinobi> He swatted the pillow aside and turned to lean on the chair. "Fine," he bit off. "I want to know if you meant it."
<Hope> "What the hell kind of question is that?! Of course I meant it."
<Shinobi> Her tone was hardly reassuring and he just sighed, turning his gaze to the skyline outside.
<Hope> With great effort, Hope pushed herself to that window seat so she was off the floor at least. She looked up at him, actually trying to read his thoughts this time rather that just passively receiving them.
<Shinobi> His thoughts were fairly dark at the moment and he closed his eyes. Did he enjoy torturing himself? Why the fuck had he brought it up?
<Hope> "Can we at least talk about this?" she asked him softly.
<Shinobi> "Sure." Though he wasn't sure what there was to talk about, and his tone was flat.
<Hope> Hope swung her feet a little as she looked down, trying to piece her thoughts together. "It's just... bear with me. Because you want no secrets... so you need the whole story."
<Hope> Sighing, she ran her fingers through her red, stringy hair, making a face. "First... back in Alaska... there was Johnathan. Yeah I know, I dated two of them. Anyway he was an abusive asshole. I really should check to see if that restraining order is still in place..." she trailed off, wondering how to check on that.
<Shinobi> Surprised, he looked up at her sharply, watching her. Restraining order?
<Hope> "Should have Drake check on that...." she finally decided, shrugging. "Anyway. Then I started dating Johnny. He... never actually proposed. I found the ring when he was being eaten by cannibals. And afterward, I offered to give it back and he told me to just keep it. You're kind of the only person who knows that."
<Shinobi> "Just keep it?" he echoed, not sure what that meant.
<Hope> "Just keep the ring. No actual proposal."
<Shinobi> "Weird." He realized he'd just insulted her dead fiance, and made a face. "Sorry."
<Hope> She waved him off. "It was. We never actually talked about getting married. Or setting a date or... anything."
<Shinobi> It really was, and he carefully crossed his arms, covering his mouth with a hand.
<Hope> "Then he died... and there was no way I was ever going to marry Chris. Then I wound up pregnant... then lost it..." She ran her hands over her face. "Anyway." She couldn't talk about that. Not even with him. "Anyway... then I met you."
<Shinobi> "And... our relationship has hardly been what anyone would call normal." He cleared his throat again, rubbing his fingertips over his lips. It didn't matter what he wanted if this wasn't what she needed.
<Hope> She smirked a little. "No... but... you changed everything."
<Shinobi> He smiled a little. "Yeah, I guess so." In good and bad ways, he was sure.
<Hope> "I changed," she emphasized. "Six months ago I never wanted to get married or have kids or anything with anyone. Ever in my life. Of course I loved you before... but hearing you scream... and seeing you... and then dying because of me." She choked a bit, standing and moving to him.
<Hope> "In that moment, nothing mattered. Nothing except you." She reached for that hand on his mouth, looking up at him. "I don't want to go get married like, right now... but... I could... maybe.... see it... possibly..." She shifted uncomfortably. "I'm not as opposed to the idea as I once was."
<Shinobi> He let her take his hand and searched her face. Analyzing what she'd said and what he imagined she was trying to say would take time and he swallowed.
<Hope> "But whether we get married or not, you're right. We're together. It's more than I could have hoped for." She reached up, stroking his cheek gently. "I mean it when I say you're everything."
<Shinobi> "I don't think either of us is really ready to get married," he said quietly, meeting her eyes. "I love you, and you know I'd do anything to keep you safe, to try to make you happy..."
<Hope> Relief washed over her at his words as she looked back into his eyes. "You don't have to try very hard."
<Shinobi> It made him smile. "Neither do you." Oyama's taunts still niggled at the back of his mind, however.
<Hope> At that smile, Hope moved to wrap her arms around his neck, leaning up to kiss him.
<Shinobi> Happily, he returned the kiss, one hand finding its home in her hair. I want to give you everything you want...
<Hope> Everything I want is right here, she told him as she deepened the kiss.
<Shinobi> He groaned into her mouth, losing himself. How did he get so lucky to win her? But could he keep her if her priorities had changed so much?
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