Timelined a few hours after Rabbit Season
<Hope> Time had ceased to exist for Hope for some time. David had stood outside her door until even he couldn't stand the silence and left her alone to it. She curled up with her cheek on her legs, knees pulled up as she watched out the window. She kept wondering about the same thing she had thought about all day. What did she want?
<Shinobi> Eventually, Obi and Miriam returned, mostly because the baby was getting hungry. He stopped at Starbucks and ordered two coffees and a package of brownies, nut free.
<Hope> Hope shuddered when she felt his mind, immediately throwing up defensive walls. She didn't know where he'd gone or why, but for someone who had been soooo concerned, he sure had taken off quickly.
<Shinobi> He felt Hope's mind, and then felt her close herself off. Swallowing, he picked up the drink carrier in one hand and pushed his sister's stroller back home. Maybe he should just drop off Miriam and go.
<Hope> Sighing, Hope sat up enough to rest her head on the window, staring outside. She cycled through conversation starters ranging from 'The fuck have you been' to 'well well well' and the ever eloquent 'fuck off.'
<Shinobi> At the very least, he should give her the coffee. He had to try. If she wanted to be alone... well, then he'd decide. After leaving Miriam with Jess, he started up the stairs.
<Hope> With him so close it was hard to keep him shut out. It felt... weird. Wrong maybe. She swallowed hard and hugged her knees to her chest. What did she want?
<Shinobi> Hope? He paused just outside the door, free hand on the knob.
<Hope> I'm in here. She let him know as she dropped the outermost walls.
<Shinobi> Opening the door, he spotted her by the window and smiled, holding up the coffee. Now, he could feel her more; it was a relief.
<Hope> "So where'd you go?" she asked him, sitting up enough to look over at him.
<Shinobi> "Just... a walk. I wanted to..." He shrugged. "I needed to be alone." At that, he tilted his head.
<Hope> Disgusted, she turned to look back out the window. "Then go be alone."
<Shinobi> He supposed he deserved that answer, but it still stung. Placing the coffee on the dresser, he stared down on it, torn.
<Hope> Her fingers found a red curl, twirling it around. "So it's okay when you run off, but when I do it it's not okay?"
<Shinobi> "No." He took her coffee from the carrier, slowly.
<Hope> "Then explain?" She questioned him, keeping her tone even.
<Shinobi> "I didn't want to fight." He took out his own coffee.
<Hope> "Fight about what? What everyone else was yelling about?" She dropped her hair, annoyed.
<Shinobi> "I didn't want to fight with you. I didn't want to fight with Sebastian." Taking out the brownies, he set them by her cup, the wrapper crinkling.
<Hope> "Fine," she snapped. He didn't want to fight? Fine. Just fine.
<Shinobi> Picking up his cup, he moved to the other side of the desk and sat on the edge. "Well, it sounds like you want to."
<Hope> "I don't want to tiptoe around it. If we're going to fight about this, then let's fight. Throwing my own words back at me is a horrible way to avoid a fight."
<Shinobi> "I already said everything I had to say." He looked up at her.
<Hope> Finally, she looked over at him, making eye contact. "I'm sorry I scared you."
<Shinobi> He nodded in acceptance and smiled slightly. "I'm sorry I took off."
<Hope> She sighed, frustrated. "It's just... he brought up all these issues at once. And I couldn't..." she trailed off, sighing again and looking out the window. It was too much.
<Shinobi> What did he say? He'd heard part of it, but not all, and he wanted to hear her side. "Your coffee's going to get cold."
<Hope> Slightly exasperated, but also touched, she stood and moved to him, taking her coffee and hopping up on the opposite end of the dresser. "Where do I even begin?"
<Shinobi> He blew into the little hole in the lid of his coffee. "Wherever you want?" She was closer now, and at least talking, but he tried not to get his hopes up.
<Hope> Hope tucked a bit of her hair behind her ear and took a sip of her coffee. Mmm peppermint. "He told me I'd be a Shaw soon. Like... basically... that it would help you by me changing my name to Shaw."
<Shinobi> Honestly surprised, he looked over at her. "How?"
<Hope> "Because you're just starting to accept it." She looked over at him, watching him.
<Shinobi> "That I'm a Shaw?" He frowned down at the cup. It's not like he had any other viable options, truly. Essex was out of the question. He wasn't an Oyama.
<Hope> "Yeah. Because you are," she pointed out. "So I guess by his reasoning... me not changing or me asking you to change would be out of the question."
<Shinobi> Once again, he looked up at her in surprise. "Asking me to change?"
<Hope> "To Stark." She picked up the brownie, taking a bite and savoring the flavor.
<Shinobi> "You'd... want me to do that?" This was not at all the way he'd expected this conversation to go, so he felt slightly lost.
<Hope> "I... don't know. I hadn't thought about it, honestly."
<Shinobi> "So you left because he was giving you shit about my name?" There had to be more to it, he decided, moving on for the moment.
<Hope> "Oh no. That was just the first thing he dropped on me. I pointed out that Johnny had been willing to take Stark, and he pointed out how he died." She gave him a look, then took another bite of brownie. "Then he said you wouldn't be accepted as a Stark anyway."
<Shinobi> Obi didn't know what to say. His throat worked and he looked back down at his coffee, then studying his hand on the cup and realized it was shaking. He shifted to hide it.
<Hope> "It got worse," she told him softly, offering him an out.
<Shinobi> "Of course it did," he said hoarsely.
<Hope> Hope slid down to rest her head against him. "Could always make up a new last name. Like Awesome. Mr. and Mrs. Awesome."
<Shinobi> Her attempt at humor made him snort softly, but it was her head against his arm that made him close his eyes. "I'd be okay with that..."
<Hope> "You know Stark is a synonym for Awesome." She kissed his arm, then rested her head against it again. "Either way... he was right about one thing. Our marrying would put you front and center in the media."
<Shinobi> He nodded, all his fears swirling around his mind and clamoring to escape. "We don't-" he started. "If you don't want to get married, you can just tell me," he blurted. "I'd rather you just tell me."
<Hope> Sitting up she just sort of stared at him. "Don't you think I'm fucking blunt enough to do that?"
<Shinobi> "Sometimes, yes." He returned her stare from the corner of his eye. "You have to admit things have been different."
<Hope> "Of course they've been different. Sebastian thinks I rushed into the decision. I mean... maybe the timing was a bit accelerated... but I was serious when I said I wanted to spend my life with you. That hasn't changed. It's just marriage that is scary."
<Shinobi> "Are you sure?" He licked his lips and tried to meet her eyes. "I didn't think about your... ex fiance before, but what if Sebastian's right?" Now, he couldn't meet her eyes. "It just... I can't tell what you're thinking, and... it feels like you were happier when we had an expiration date," he said quietly. "...when I had an expiration date."
<Hope> "It seemed I was happier because I made a deal with myself..." she reached for his cheek. "I told myself that I had to be happy for you, but I could fall apart after you died."
<Shinobi> He let her turn his face toward hers and brought his free hand up to hold her palm to his cheek. "Okay," he said, blowing out a relieved breath and trying to turn her words back over in his mind.
<Hope> "Can't we just be happy?" She questioned, nuzzling his hand.
<Shinobi> "That's what I want." He watched her, eyes soft. "We don't have to rush now."
<Hope> That made her smile, relaxing and letting him back in just as much as he usually was in her mind. "No rush now. We can take our time. And enjoy every moment."
<Shinobi> It was a relief, and he leaned in and kissed her forehead, then stole another quick kiss. "That sounds like a plan... marriage is kind of scary."
<Hope> "Totally scary," she muttered, kissing him again.
<Shinobi> "We can just.... keep going like we are," he said between kisses, then grinned. "Or we can just get engaged... leave it at that?"
<Hope> "That's not a proposal," she pointed out, smirking at him. She rested her head against him, smiling happily. "I can handle engaged."
<Shinobi> "No," he laughed. "It wasn't. I'll work on that part." She was back where she belonged, and he slid his arm around her.
<Hope> Sighing, Hope closed her eyes and held onto him in return. Definitely back where she belonged.
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