Timelined over Labor Day weekend
<Shinobi> It did, yet didn't, look like the place he remembered. Obi stood in the driveway of the main building, looking up, his hand in Hope's. "This is... weird. I shouldn't have memories of this place, but I do."
<Hope> Nodding, Hope wrinkled her nose a bit at the building. She gave his hand a squeeze and pressed into him a little. "Yeah... I..." she stopped. "It's weird."
<Shinobi> "It's... seen better days," he chuckled, rubbing his free hand over his mouth. "Dr. Essex... his office was up there." He used the hand to point at a broken window, then realized it was trembling.
<Hope> Wordlessly, Hope dropped his hand to shift and stand behind him. Her arms wrapped around his waist and held him firmly and tightly. Telling him it would be okay would be useless, but maybe her being close would help. She rested her cheek against his back and breathed him in. He can't hurt you now.
<Shinobi> He rested his hand over one of hers. That's the thing, he never did hurt me. His mouth twisted. At least, in my memories.
<Hope> She wished she could say the same. Maybe she was telling herself and not Obi. Good. Nope. He couldn't. Nope. Nope. Nope.
<Shinobi> He was... brilliant, but distant. He wanted all his wards to succeed in life. Of course that was a charade. Wasn't it? Now that he was back, would he try to find him?
<Hope> Of course he wanted them to succeed... on his terms. She kissed Obi's back before resting her cheek against him again. If Essex found them again... somebody wasn't walking away from that alive. I love you, Obi.
<Shinobi> I love you, Ariel. He smiled and turned around to hold her. "Let's get outta here. I want to see if something else is where I remember it."
<Hope> Hope paused to hold onto him for a moment before finally nodded. "That sounds like a better plan," she laughed a little, though still a bit uneasy.
<Shinobi> It took some driving around, but a few miles away he spotted it, and circled around the hill, glancing over at Hope. He didn't think she had seen it, so he stopped the car.
<Hope> She gave him a bit of a crazy look. "Where are we?"
<Shinobi> "Well... you'll see." This whole area outside of Omaha was nothing but cornfields, half-abandoned towns and the old orphanage. For once, he was thankful for the accuracy of his fake memories. He'd remembered playing here as a child, and just admiring it when he was a little older.
<Shinobi> The car slowly crested the hill and he idled there, looking over at her to see her reaction to the enormous field of sunflowers in the valley.
<Hope> Hope looked from him to the view in front of them and went speechless. Sunflowers. So many sunflowers! She swallowed hard and looked back over at him.
<Shinobi> Her face made his grin bright. "I thought you'd like it."
<Hope> She just pointed. He'd know to drive closer. Of course he'd know. He brought her here.
<Shinobi> That brought a laugh bubbling up and he did as he was ordered, getting as close as he dared with the car and then shifting into park. When the car stopped moving, he looked over to her with a smirk.
<Hope> She so wasn't looking at him. She was unbuckling her seat belt as quickly as she could to get out of the car and to those amazing sunflowers!
<Shinobi> Her scramble to get out of the car gave him a little extra time to reach into his bag and pocket something as he got out to join her.
<Hope> The smile was slow, but it was bright as it spread across her face. She held out her hand for his, staring at her favorite flowers. An entire field of her favorite flower.
<Shinobi> "You know... somehow I thought they'd be smaller than I remembered..." If anything, they were bigger. These were some seriously enormous fucking flowers, and he led Hope right into their midst.
<Hope> "I'm glad they aren't! They are perfect. Absolutely... perfect." Hope followed his lead, staring at the sunflowers and little of anything else.
<Shinobi> In the late summer sun, the flower heads were nodding down at them, and Obi found himself wondering how the stems held them up. "They're... impressive."
<Hope> Picking up on that wondering, Hope smiled softly. That's the beauty of them. They find the light in any situation... and they hold their heads up even when you think they shouldn't be able to. Somehow, they do. They are resilient. They come back each day to face it all again.
<Shinobi> He squeezed her hand and looked down at her with a smile. "Sounds a lot like somebody I know."
<Hope> She smiled back up at him, leaning up to steal a kiss. They are my favorite for a reason.
<Shinobi> The kiss was stolen back, and he moved his free hand into her hair, stepping close to deepen it.
<Hope> As usual, Hope felt slightly like putty in his hands as she held him close and returned the kiss.
<Shinobi> Glad you like the surprise. He grinned against her mouth and gave her one more kiss, leaning his forehead against hers with closed eyes. She smelled fantastic.
<Hope> She grinned with him, eyes still closed as well. I love the surprise. I think we should live here. Just be free spirits in the sunflower field.
<Shinobi> The farmer might shoot us. He laughed a little, kissing her nose and then straightening up to look around. "But we might as well explore while we can."
<Hope> She laughed and smiled up at him. "As long as we can?"
<Shinobi> "Sure. Maybe you can take some home, too." He took her hand again.
<Hope> "I bet David can make that happen!" Hope laced their fingers together.
<Shinobi> He laughed, and led her deeper into the field.
<Hope> "Hey. We should take a picture! I want it for my profile pic."
<Shinobi> "Okay," he said, still laughing, and waited for her to find her phone. A very discrete tightening of his shields was in order, he decided, and checked his pocket again.
<Hope> Preoccupied by finding her yellow phone, Hope didn't notice the shield change. She pulled it out of her pocket and found the right setting for the light. "Okay!" She moved to him with a big smile on her face.
<Shinobi> Obi leaned in close and put his arm around her, checking over his shoulder for the right amount of giant flower background without one thunking him on the head.
<Hope> With a press of a button, Hope had several pictures to choose from... and that was going to take a moment.
<Shinobi> She was in her little world of social media butterfly, so he wandered down the row, looking for just the right flower.
<Hope> Nope, nope, nope... That one? Maybe. She kept looking, trying to make sure they both looked perfect before she updated her profile picture.
<Shinobi> Obi found the perfection he was looking for and reached into his pocket to get things prepared.
<Hope> "I think this one's perfect!" Hope let him know cheerfully, uploading it.
<Shinobi> "Great!" He wasn't sure if this was perfect or not, but he was going with it. Obi wiped the sap from his hands onto his jeans - he hadn't thought that part out. "Hey, when you're done, come look at this!" He attempted to sound casual, hoping he sounded better than he did in his head.
<Hope> "Onnnne second...." she told him as it posted. She smiled at how cute they looked and took the phone to show him. "You have to see how cute we look!"
<Shinobi> "I found something pretty cute too..." No, he didn't sound better. He winced, but managed to keep his back to her until she got closer.
<Hope> "What'd you find?" Hope asked, now curious. She even lowered her phone as she slipped up to him.
<Shinobi> Instead of answering, Obi turned around with a sunflower head laid across both hands. He knelt down onto one knee, ignoring the stems digging into his skin. "Hope," he started, looking from the canary diamond ring sitting in the flower's center to her face.
<Hope> The phone dropped from her hand, landing on the earth below as her fingers went to her mouth. He was on a knee. He was on one knee and there was a ring. There was not only a ring, but a ring with a canary diamond in it. Her brain struggled to process what was happening. Where was Pietro's power when you needed it?!
<Shinobi> Her eyes were huge, and he hadn't even finished. Should he finish? He opened his mouth, then closed it, then tried again. "Hope, I know you're surprised..."
<Hope> Very. She was able to send him as she caught her breath. There was a ring. There was a ring! This was happening! She couldn't stop the smile, though her hand did hide it for the most part.
<Shinobi> That reminded him to lower his shields. It was more than reassuring and he returned the smile. "Hope, will you marry me?" he managed, and held the flower a bit higher.
<Hope> She nodded, swallowing before she pounced on him in a manner that would have impressed Paige. "YES!"
<Shinobi> He laughed and nearly dropped the flower - shifting the ring - to catch her. "You had me worried for a second there, Ariel."
<Hope> "I... wasn't expecting this!" She laughed and planted kisses on him.
<Shinobi> "We talked about it," he laughed, getting in a few kisses of his own.
<Hope> "I know... but... I wasn't expecting this," she told him softly, smiling and nestling into him, giggling just a little.
<Shinobi> "Too soon?" He nosed her hair, breathing in the peppermint.
<Hope> "No." She reassured him, smile stuck on her face. "Though you probably should have asked Tony... maybe? I'm not sure if he'd want that or not."
<Shinobi> "Well," he said, moving the flower to hand it to her. "I did." Obi smirked. "He let me twist in the wind for a while before he gave me his blessing. Starks like to play with their dinners."
<Hope> Hope's hand shook as she picked up the ring, smiling at it as his words sank in. "You... you asked Tony?!"
<Shinobi> "Yeah," he chuckled a little and helped her line up the ring on her finger. "After I talked to Sebastian about it."
<Hope> Both her dads. Hope felt something in her eyes that she hadn't thought possible. She felt tears. Rather than let that be too obvious, she leaned in and kissed him instead. You thought of everything.
<Shinobi> He raised a hand to cup her jaw, tilting his head into the kiss. After a while, he broke the kiss and grinned. Except that these flowers are tough, and sticky.
<Hope> Laughing, Hope sniffed and wiped her face quickly. "Well. Maybe not that part. But this? This was perfect." She tore her gaze away from him to stare at the ring again. "Perfect."
<Shinobi> Was she... crying? He smiled softly and brushed his fingers under her eye. "Definitely perfect."
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