Timelined later in the day after Cookie Conspirators
<Hope> Back from DC and exhausted, Hope washed her face in the bathroom, savoring the feel of the cool water on her face. It was past bedtime, but she didn't have to be up early. She was still okay to take her sleeping pill.
<Shinobi> Already in their bed, Obi was fiddling with her phone, keeping an eye on the bathroom door. "So your dad set you up with any princes this time?"
<Hope> That did make her laugh. Hope turned the water off and dried her face. "Not this time. I guess Harry was busy," she teased him.
<Shinobi> "Ginger heirs must be in short supply." He smirked to himself and glanced back at the doorway.
<Hope> "They really are," Hope smirked and headed for the door.
<Shinobi> He stretched across the bed and deposited her phone back in place. "It sounds super boring, and kind of looked it too," he said, sliding back to his side casually.
<Hope> "Heeeeey," she pouted at him a bit. "I am so not boring."
<Shinobi> "I meant Washington, not you. You're incapable of boring." He smirked up at her and reached for her hand.
<Hope> Hope grinned at him as she took his hand, crawling into bed with him. "Well, that's fair enough. I'm highly entertaining." She leaned over to steal a soft kiss from him.
<Shinobi> "You are." He slid his hands around her waist and pulled her to him, returning the kiss with interest.
<Hope> Her hand slid up through his hair and down to his cheek as she moved closer to him, pressing herself against him. "I missed you."
<Shinobi> He smiled up at her, hands moving to her hips to keep her there. "Of course. I'm entertaining too."
<Hope> "Highly entertaining," Hope agreed, kissing the tip of his nose.
<Shinobi> "I'm glad you agree," he said with a slight nod and arched eyebrow. After a moment, he softened into a grin and reached up to touch her face, smoothing her hair back. "I missed you too."
<Hope> Hope shifted to nestle into the crook of his neck, breathing him in. "I'm sorry I had to go."
<Shinobi> "You needed to see your dad. I understand." He moved a little to get more comfortable, his hand still in her hair. "He still doesn't know, does he? About what happened."
<Hope> "No," she confirmed softly, staying close to him. She traced her finger slowly along his arm, enjoying the touch. "I don't want him to."
<Shinobi> He nodded. The president would blame him for it, so it probably was for the best. "Okay." Picking up a red curl, he wound it around his finger.
<Hope> "So what did you do today? Anything fun?" She nuzzled his neck before settling again, comfortable.
<Shinobi> Closing his eyes, he sighed, feeling her breath on his skin. "I went to class, got some peanut butter cookies - yes, I showered," he interrupted himself with a smirk.
<Hope> That made her laugh, pressing a soft kiss to his neck. "Good. I'd rather not be itchy and red. Not pretty."
<Shinobi> He drew in a shaky breath at the kiss. "No. I don't want to have to use that pen."
<Hope> She laughed softly. "Shouldn't have to for just touching it." But he had a fair point. "What are we having for our bedtime story tonight?"
<Shinobi> Reaching for his phone meant letting go of her with one hand, but he made the sacrifice. "Shakespeare too boring?" He waited dutifully for her reaction.
<Hope> "It might be, but I need to take my pill. Maybe The Tempest?" She suggested, sitting up enough to use her teke to bring her the pill and glass of water beside the bed.
<Shinobi> "Sure." He licked his lips. "I need to tell you something first."
<Hope> Hope lowered the pill, turning her attention to him. Fear rushed through her. Did he know already?
<Shinobi> "Illyana Maximoff called." Panic surged through him again and he paused, unsure of the source.
<Hope> "And?" She asked immediately.
<Shinobi> "They..." He had to pause to swallow, trying to get himself under control. It must be Hope's fear, he realized, and took her hand. "They don't have all the results, but for the time being she prescribed reading glasses for me. I'll need to go pick some out tomorrow."
<Hope> Hope had to set the water down so she could hold onto her pill and wrap her arms around him tightly. Relief just filled her, making her smile happily. "Well that's something! Oooo we can pick you out some that make you look smart and shit."
<Shinobi> "Make me look smart?" He returned the hug and laughed. "I'm offended."
<Hope> She just giggled now. "Yeah! You should at least look smart."
<Shinobi> "Brat." He worked his hand to her side and tickled.
<Hope> Laughter erupted as Hope fell back onto the pillows, trying to escape.
<Shinobi> "I've got you now." He followed, rolling on top of her and pinned her hands with a grin.
<Hope> Hope couldn't stop laughing, her one hand holding onto that pill tightly. "Oh no!"
<Shinobi> Her hair was sprayed out over the pillows and he stopped to admire it. "Whatever should I do with you..." he started, voice lowering.
<Hope> Hope let that pill float back to the nightstand. "Oh whatever will you do now?" She tried to be serious, but couldn't fully stop the smile, watching his face. "You need to take good care of your property," she told him softly.
<Shinobi> He'd been mostly teasing, but her words struck something in him and he met her eyes. "I will," he said, lacing their fingers together. For as long as he had her, anyway.
<Hope> She squeezed his hands tightly, smiling up at him. "I know you will."
<Shinobi> She was his. The first thing that truly was. And the last. He took in her expression, bending down to brush their noses together, then kissed her.
<Hope> Some... undetermined amount of time later, Hope had taken that pill. She lay with her head on Obi's chest, one of his earbuds in her ear as they listened together.
<Shinobi> He traced patterns on the bare skin of her arm with his fingertips, eyes closed as they listened. It was some British guy reading, and while he knew he was a far cry from a Shakespearean actor, he was getting an idea from this.
<Hope> His slight touch brought a smile to her lips as she closed her eyes. It was hard to focus on the story when she'd rather focus on him, but she did give it a try.
<Shinobi> Her breathing was evening out, and he smiled a little himself. Goodnight, Ariel.
<Hope> Goodnight Prince Obi, she smirked to herself as she drifted off, picturing him all dressed up like Prince Eric.
<Shinobi> That made him nearly laugh, but he was careful to hold it in. He didn't want to wake her. After a few minutes, he flicked off the phone and shifted a little to press his lips to her forehead, just at her hairline.
<Shinobi> How could he leave her? This was perfect. They were happy together. They belonged together. Those thoughts chased each other around his mind until he slipped into a restless sleep.
<Shinobi> When he awoke, he was across the room, standing in the corner. Confused, he staggered into the wall, turning to face the room. They'd turned off the lights before they went to sleep, but now the room was lit by some sort of dim glow.
<Shinobi> Slowly, as his eyes adjusted, he made out the bed and the shapes in it. It took a long moment for him to realize he was looking at himself - and Hope - in the bed.
<Hope> It was morning and Hope was just waking up. As the sun shone through the window and onto the couple, she smile and stretched. But something felt wrong. "Obi?" She touched him again and shrieked, pulling her hand back. He felt cold. Reality began to sink in, coming out as a scream.
<Shinobi> He opened his mouth to answer her, but nothing came out. No. This wasn't right! She was pressing her fingers against his chest, his neck, and the scream was heart rending. He was dead. No. Nonono! He tried to call her name again.
<Hope> "No!" She screamed again, laying back down with him, her head against his chest as she clung to him. She knew. She knew it was too late. He'd died sometime in the night and she didn't save him. As soon as the others were up, they'd come take him away. She held onto him more tightly, sobbing softly into him. "Come back..."
<Shinobi> The few steps to the bed were a struggle, and when he tried to touch her he couldn't. He could touch himself, though, and the cold was a shock. No... this wasn't real. It couldn't be. I'm right here, Hope. I swear. I'm not going to leave you.
<Hope> The movement in the house below her alerted her to the fact that it wouldn't be long now. That just made her sob harder. "They can't take you... not yet."
<Shinobi> Her tears made his finally spill over. No! I don't want to go! This was hell, and maybe it was what he deserved, but he couldn't comfort her. All he could see was her red hair spread out over his body and his own slack face. Then, the door opened.
<Hope> That door slammed shut with a very loud, "NO!"
<Shinobi> The pounding started immediately, and he knew who it was. The last person he wanted to see him like this was Sebastian. And he didn't want him in here with Hope like this either... naked and grieving and helpless.
<Shaw> "Hope! Open this damn door before I take the choice from you!"
<Shinobi> Leave her the fuck alone! This is what you wanted!
<Hope> She gathered the sheets around her, pulling the blanket over Shinobi's intimate area. She knew Sebastian was coming in, and she couldn't stop him. "Fuck off!" She lay back over Obi, shielding him.
<Shinobi> He couldn't stop Sebastian, and the door burst open from his kick. Helpless, he turned back to Hope and saw her trying to protect his body. Unable to deal with this anymore, he covered his face with his hands and sank to the floor.
<Shaw> "Little Stark?" Now his voice was quiet and he moved closer carefully, reaching out a hand to touch his son. "Oh..."
<Hope> "Are you happy now!?" She shouted at him.
<Shaw> "No, love." Sebastian checked for a pulse, although he knew. "I'm so sorry."
<Hope> Hope just curled into herself, not willing to move from Obi's body as she continued to cry. She'd held back everything, saying she could fall apart after he died. She could fall apart now. And she did.
<Shaw> Gutted, Sebastian sat on the edge of the bed, eyes unfocused.
<Shinobi> Hope's cries finally brought him back to himself and he crawled to the bed, trying once again to touch her. I'm so sorry, baby. Frustrated, he looked up at Sebastian, surprised to see tears in the man's eyes. They had to be for Hope.
<Hope> "Obi...." she thought she heard him, but of course she didn't. He was... he was... dead. He was dead.
<Shaw> He didn't know how long they sat there, but eventually, he stood and gripped Hope's arm gently. "Come, love. I'll take care of everything."
<Shinobi> Get your hands off her! He climbed to his feet and tried to intervene, but his fist passed through Sebastian. This was a nightmare.
<Hope> "NO!" Hope screamed at him, shoving him away forcefully.
<Shaw> He didn't protest the shove. "You can't just stay here indefinitely." He cast a glance at Shinobi's face, swearing inwardly and covering the boy's eyes with his hand to slide them closed.
<Shinobi> Was this a nightmare? He gasped in surprise at the thought.
<Hope> "Yes I CAN! Go away!" She jerked her arm away.
<Shinobi> But was it his, or hers? Was this real, or a horrible dream? He tried to think...
<Shaw> "Hope, I don't want to do this." Without further warning, he gathered her up, sheet and all.
<Hope> "NO!" Hope screamed, thrashing and trying to get free. "NO NO NO NO NO NO NO! STOP IT! DON'T TOUCH ME!"
<Shaw> He wished he had more energy stored for this, but he was still stronger, fighting to subdue her and starting for the door.
<Shinobi> Don't touch her! Listen to her! But he was right. She couldn't just stay here with a corpse. He swallowed. Hope, baby, wake up. If this is a dream, wake up!
<Hope> Hope reached for Obi over Sebastian's shoulder, sobbing into her dad as she did. "OBI!" But he wasn't coming. She broke. She cried, wrapping her arms around Sebastian and weeping.
<Hope> Everything seemed to shift and Hope found herself on her bathroom floor in her own jeans and Obi's shirt. She had stopped crying and just lay here, silently, feeling the cool of the tile on her face.
<Shinobi> All he did was blink, but now everything was different. It was daylight, and the yellow room was bright even with closed curtains. Their bed was empty. He turned and saw Hope on the bathroom floor. Oh God... not again.
<Hope> She'd moved the fish to the floor with her, and she watched it in silence as it swam around the little tank. She had told Sebastian she'd meet him and Jess at the funeral. She'd lied.
<Shinobi> She wasn't asleep, that much he saw instantly, and she was breathing. She just laid there, staring at Flounder. Oh, Hope... The bathroom wasn't enormous, but there was enough room for him to stretch out on the other side of the tank.
<Shinobi> I'm so sorry. Hesitantly, he slid his hand over and held it above hers, entranced by her long, delicate fingers. He swallowed and rested his hand over hers. It was as close as he could get.
<Hope> "Obi..." did she hear him again? He wasn't even here anymore, but she felt she could hear his echo. His thoughts. It comforted her.
<Shinobi> He pushed himself up on his elbow, redoubling his effort to touch her. Can you hear me? He still hoped this was a dream, but why couldn't he wake up?
<Hope> "Are... are you here?" she whispered.
<Shinobi> Yes! Yes! I'm here! Either he was a ghost, or this was a horrible nightmare. Excited, he tried to concentrate harder.
<Shaw> The door rebounded off the wall and Sebastian didn't slow down on his way in. "Hope!"
<Hope> The whimper escaped as Hope curled into herself a bit. Maybe he'd just go away.
<Shinobi> Fuck! He'd kill the man if he could.
<Shaw> "There you are." He took in her condition and decided she was as well as could be expected. "I thought you were going to meet us there?"
<Hope> "I lied." She told him matter-of-factly.
<Shaw> "It was a lovely service, if small, as you might imagine." He loosened his tie with short, violent jerks. "And a bit smaller for lack of his significant other."
<Shinobi> He looked up at Sebastian in shock, then back at Hope. His funeral. They were talking about his funeral.
<Hope> "The fuck does it matter? He wasn't there." She touched the glass of the tank, trying to make Flounder fight her finger the way Obi had. "He wasn't there."
<Shinobi> No, because I'm right here dammit. It didn't sting, because he understood why she couldn't go. Closing his eyes, he focused, trying to reach his powers, or anything for that matter. Reaching out, he tapped the side of the tank and Flounder puffed up.
<Hope> It made her smile, just for a moment, as she watched the fish. Silly fish. She'd wanted to go to his funeral, really she had. But the idea of people watching her cry... she couldn't handle it. She couldn't handle seeing his corpse in a coffin. None of it. So she'd hid. She wasn't proud of it, but it was what it was. "You can take your lecture to somebody who cares."
<Shinobi> As excited as he'd been just a moment ago, now he felt like crying himself. Maybe he really was dead?
<Shaw> "I know you don't mean that. You care too much and that's the problem in its entirety."
<Hope> "Tell you what? The next person to tell me they know how I feel or what I'm going through? I'm going to punch them in the fucking face!" Why wouldn't he just leave her alone!?
<Shaw> He sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose. "Hope, he was my son. I have no wish to participate in the farce of whose pain is more valid."
<Hope> "Then leave me alone." She told him, more firmly.
<Shinobi> All he could do was stare at Sebastian. He really was dead. Only hindsight could make him want to care.
<Shaw> "For now, but when you want to talk..." Sebastian stood there for another moment and then turned to go.
<Hope> Hope didn't want to talk. The next thing she knew she was in a different shirt of Shinobi's and throwing every single bit of clothing that she owned that wasn't black out into the hallway, down the stairs.
<Shinobi> He stood with his hands over his face, listening to Sebastian and Jess argue over the mess Hope was making.
<Hope> She gave pause at the green dress that Obi had loved her in. She ripped that thing before throwing it over the railing.
<Shinobi> The rip made him look up and his chest squeezed painfully. Not the mermaid dress! So this was the afterlife. It sucked.
<Hope> Hope sank down onto the bed, the only clothes left were his and anything of hers that was completely black. "Obi..." she sobbed out, pressing her hands to her face.
<Shinobi> I'm right here. I guess I'll always be here. He reached out to touch her again, his throat closing on a sob. I said I wouldn't leave you.
<Hope> "I can't stay here," she told him... or the nothingness... while the Shaws argued.
<Shinobi> That made him pause. If she left here, could he follow? What if he was stuck here? He looked down at the bed where he'd died.
<Hope> It took her several minutes, but Hope did get back up. She picked up her suitcase and began packing it. She carefully folded each and every single article of clothing that had belonged to him, placing it into the suitcase. She dropped one and swore, bending down to pick it up. She noticed something odd.
<Hope> Hope reached under the bed and pulled out the last shirt he had worn. She sank back onto the floor, pressing the shirt to her face and breathing him in, the sobs beginning.
<Shinobi> He recognized it, remembering their last night together. This was a nightmare. That thought jogged something again and he more closely examined those memories.
<Shinobi> It had been a while since he'd actively tried to reach her, so he got down on the floor in front of her and focused. Hope, wake up.
<Hope> She heard that. She slowly lowered the shirt, looking up, but not seeing anything.
<Shinobi> That's right! I'm right here! He grinned, trying again and reaching for her. Obi gave the shirt a tentative tug.
<Hope> Hope dropped that shirt quickly, staring at it.
<Shinobi> Can you hear me? He was very deliberate and slowly spoke the words into her mind. The more he thought about it, the more it seemed logical that this was some telepathy mindfuck nightmare. We're dreaming. He hoped.
<Hope> "Dreaming..." she echoed, blinking hard. She wished she were dreaming, that was for sure.
<Shinobi> You can hear me! This time, he tried touching her face.
<Hope> She shuddered at the touch, but then things seemed to click. "I can't wake up. The medicine!" If it was a dream. If it wasn't... well... she was already nuts. Why not have a ghost boyfriend?
<Shinobi> The medicine! That makes sense! I bet we're in a loop or something and your telepathy is keeping me here too. This time, he focused on waking up.
<Hope> "Well that makes more sense than this shit." Hope pulled his shirt back up so she could cling to it. "Wake up Obi... you have to get me out of here. But... but I'm scared that it might be real."
<Shinobi> Me too, he admitted. But we have to try, right? Being dead sucks.
<Hope> She choked on her sob, crying into his shirt. She didn't want him to leave her. "I love you... and... and I'm sorry I didn't go to your funeral."
<Shinobi> I love you too. It doesn't matter. This isn't real. It can't be. Please, let it not be real... He stroked her cheek again and brushed his fingers over her hair before he sat back and rested both hands on his thighs. Closing his eyes, he concentrated again.
<Hope> The arguing downstairs had stopped. Hope hugged her knees. "Please be a dream, please be a dream, please be a dream..."
<Shinobi> Please be a dream. He gasped, jerking awake. "Fuuuuck." Obi blinked at the ceiling, clapping his hand to his chest to feel his own racing heart.
<Hope> She could feel he was gone. She was utterly and completely alone. Hope grabbed her bag and headed down the stairs. "I AM SO OUT OF HERE!"
<Shinobi> Their link was definitely active, and he could feel her grief. Hope was mostly still sprawled across him, and he tried shaking her gently. "Hope, wake up. It's just a dream. Promise."
<Hope> Hope gave no fucks about anything either Shaw said to her as she headed for the door. She was so out of this place.
<Shinobi> He sat up, shifting her off of him and rolling her onto her back. "Hope," he tried, louder this time. He knew the pills put her under since she never stirred when he got up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, but damn.
<Hope> She mumbled a bit, starting to come to. "No."
<Shinobi> "Yes!" Victory was near, and he shook her again. "Wake up, baby, please. It's okay!" The situation was getting to him again now and he felt the lump grow in his throat. "It's okay. I promise."
<Hope> Her eyes opened a bit, seeing him, but not quite focusing on him, "Obi?"
<Shinobi> "It's me." He sniffed and pulled her up into a tight embrace.
<Hope> "Obi." She wrapped her arms around him as tightly as she could, immediately sobbing into him.
<Shinobi> He just held her, relishing the contact. It felt like it'd been an eternity since he'd touched her and he had the presence of mind to look at the clock. Nearly dawn. Had they been trapped like that for hours?
<Hope> It took quite some time for the tears to slow, leaving Hope more exhausted than she had been before going to bed. "I can't do this without you."
<Shinobi> What could he say to that? "It's okay," he finally whispered. "It was just a nightmare."
<Hope> It was so much worse than she had imagined. She couldn't even begin to wrap her mind around doing that a second time. "Dad told me that you can't be my whole world. I didn't realize how big a part of it you are until... until... you weren't."
<Shinobi> "It was my nightmare. I'm sorry." He sighed, resting his chin on top of her head and rocking with her.
<Hope> "Are you sure? Because it felt... God it felt so real!"
<Shinobi> "I'm sure." He found her hand and brought it to his heart. "This is real."
<Hope> She could feel it pumping, pulsing blood to his warm body. She closed her eyes and moved, shifting herself down so that she could press her ear against his chest. She was soothed by the sound, tension leaving her body.
<Shinobi> It made the tears well up and spill over again. "I worry about you," he explained, stroking her hair.
<Hope> She didn't know what to say about that, because he had seen her just as she had experienced it. It had been awful. There was something that was pressing on her mind through. "I... I still want to marry you."
<Shinobi> That was a hell of a change of subject and he blinked, leaning back to look at her questioningly.
<Hope> "I know it doesn't make sense or whatever, depending on the time frame we're given... but I don't care. That nightmare... I want a real life with you while I can."
<Shinobi> "You mean now?" He craned his neck down to better read her face.
<Hope> "Whenever," she mumbled nestling into his chest.
<Shinobi> "We have a real life," he reminded her. It was chaotic and uncertain, but they were together. Once again, surprisingly, he wanted this, but he wanted to be sure. He wanted her to be sure.
<Hope> "Don't argue unless you don't want it," she told him, lacking the energy to argue her point.
<Shinobi> "I'm not arguing," he said quietly. "I'll marry you today if you want."
<Hope> That made Hope smile. "Maybe... maybe we should make some plans then."
<Shinobi> "Don't I need a ring? Isn't there kneeling involved?" He grinned and pulled her back against him.
<Hope> "Yes. Start with that," she laughed, nestling into him.
<Shinobi> "Okay," he said with a chuckle. "I'll get on that."
<Hope> She laughed and sighed, resting in his arms. "Can we stay home today? Please?"
<Shinobi> "Yes. Fuck school." He yawned and nuzzled her.
<Hope> That made her laugh, kissing him softly several times along his chest and up to his lips. "Agreed." She felt like she'd been given a second chance. She was not going to waste it.
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