The Truth Shall Set You Free

A night of studying is in order. Exams will be coming up soon, and as Hope is not the type to venture out too far after dark, studying beats watching repeats of television shows. She's curled up on the couch, a blanket over her legs, knees bent to prop up the book she's reading from. There is soft music playing on the stereo, just there for the background noise. The local radio station to be exact, so it's not exactly thrilling or concentration breaking.

There's still some time before his so called shift has to start. If he goes in at all. Judging by the appearance of Bobby that might not be a possibility. He walks out of his bedroom wearing jeans and a black wife beater. He's not been home long but returned sooner than normal thanks to being stood up. There's something about him this evening that is far more serious than usual. He takes a seat next to Hope and she immediately has his full attention. "Am I interrupting?"

Only a brief, startled glance up gives any indication that she's aware he's there. Until he sits on the couch. Hope closes the book, leaving a pen in it to mark the location she was making notes from, and then shakes her head. "Just getting some early studying in." Pause. "Don't you have work tonight? It's Thursday…"

"They're still not too big on the idea of me working with the cast after what happened so I'm not sure if I'm going in or not." It's a simple truth, really, even if he is leaving out the emotional aspects. Bobby looks to Hope rather squarely and actually reaches out his good hand for one of hers. "Can I ask you something? Well, other than what I already asked."

"Are they at least paying you for your time off? If not, why won't they let you work the door?" Hope seems a little confused by that. Checking IDs won't hurt his hand any more than it already has been. Taking his hand, she shifts on the couch so that she's more beside him than leaning against the arm of it. "You can ask me anything, Bobby, you know that."

So he wasn't the only one who thought that. "Well, they will for tonight if I don't go in. Last night I worked the door most the night. It's boring but a steady flow of income is nice, especially now that I have Mellie downstairs." He does seem to be spending more now than in recent weeks. Bobby sighs before giving her a soft smile. It may be slightly nervous but it's the type of smile he generally reserves for only her. "So I wanted to ask you just what you meant by someday." Beat. "I mean, Chloe offered to donate some books on wedding planning and I wasn't sure what exact stage you were in."

Speaking of Mellie… "She was up here the other night. I bought her a housewarming gift. I hope she's not going to be too much trouble for you when I go back to my own apartment." Which, if things are still going well for him by the end of next week, will be soon. Hope blinks at him, and then gives his hand a small squeeze. "Someday. I mean, I know Ivan is going to run off spouting that we're engaged because he saw the ring and all, but I'd like to finish school first, you know?" Grin. "Though I did ask Mellie if she'd be a bridesmaid when the time comes."

He blinks. Yes, he just blinks. "She was up here? She didn't do anything I'll regret, did she?" Mellie does have that way about her. "I'm sure that she'll be fine. We're all just doing the best that we can." Chloe's activities will not be mentioned. Robert relaxes slightly at the gesture and word combination. "That's good to know. But I have to tell you something and I want it to come from me, not someone else." He pauses for only a moment, trying to think of a good approach. "Last night, at the bar, some drunk chick started spouting off about random stuff, including me wanting to make out with someone else." Beat. "Ivan's twin sister." Beat. "Which I will admit that I know, and will admit that she's flirtatious. And that she's been comforting to be around lately."

"Nope, she just helped me in the kitchen for a bit, then took the coffee pot downstairs." Hope smiles at that, figuring that so long as she and Mellie can be nice to one another, things will be good. There's never really a good approach to that. Hope doesn't draw away until the last bit, yet she still remains seated beside him. "That's good," she says gently, "You need comfort in your life right now." Then she gets a sick feeling in her stomach and glances over at him. "If it's innocent, why are you telling me about it? I don't mind if you have friends."

In the kitchen? He raises his eyebrow as he looks in that direction. "I'm starting to believe that there's hope for her yet." No pun intended. It may take a while but Hope does draw away from him and all Robert can do is sigh. "I'm telling you because I'm certain that it will get blown out of proportion. I won't lie to you Hope, not ever. Scarlett is a good person and I'm getting close to her. Was getting. We openly flirted a bit but that's it. I just think that since that woman went off about more than that that she'll avoid me now. It would be easy for me to not tell you at all but you deserve better than that. You deserve the truth."

In so far as Mellie can fetch a broom and laugh at Hope's dilemma, there is much hope for her. "If she's Ivan's sister, I don't have any doubt that it will. Because he likes to make things up in his mind and have himself come out looking squeaky clean." No, Hope does not feel sorry that the video got leaked, except insofar as it could hurt her sister. "How serious a flirtation?"

"If my sister went through what she might, I might blow up, too. We're both protector types, but yeah. I wouldn't be surprised if he calls you." Robert doesn't actually appear nervous at all about Ivan. He's simply speaking his mind. "I didn't think anything of it at all until yesterday. She calls me Slugger, but because she assumes I slugged her brother in the face." It would be easy to smirk at the memory of striking out against Ivan but he remains quite calm. "I got some jewelry from her and as part of the payment she asked me to teach her how to defend herself. So we got close at the gym. I honestly don't know what happened but she wasn't there tonight. It was just…" He really isn't good about talking about his feelings. "… I don't know. I feel comfortable around her but it isn't anything to cause me to not want to be with you. But it's not fair of me to not tell you. You obviously have a say in this."

"I doubt Ivan will call me," Hope says with a shake of her head. "I dumped strawberry ice cream on his head and he exploded. I don't suppose you've seen the video? It's going around the campus email now." She lets him babble on about it, and then looks down at the ring. "This?" Well he did mention jewelry. "I see. I think." She doesn't but he's been through so much she can lie to him that little bit. "I'm not going to tell you who you can and can't be friends with. That's just not who I am. I guess… well do you /like/ her?"

Even though this is a serious conversation the man can't help but laugh. "Yeah, I saw it. He likely deserved it. Heck, he should be happy you did that. /I/ split his head open." That said, Robert immediately goes back to the topic at hand. "Yes. It's supposed to help protect you. You've been through so much that I just was trying to look out for you." It sounds lame even to him so he looks away as soon as he says it. "I thought it was a good idea, and it got me to tell you how I feel. I don't deal well with that stuff." Her last question is difficult. "Well, yeah. I mean, she reminds me of you. The type of woman who is respectable. You know, that doesn't fling herself at men just for the attention. I don't know many women like that. I'd like to be her friend but I don't want to make things uncomfortable for anyone."

Hope wouldn't necessarily agree that he deserved it, but he was making her so irate she couldn't help herself. "I think he's allergic to strawberries though. He was a lot more red in the face than normal." Which she does sort of feel a little guilty for. "Oh, it's a protection ring? I've never heard of that before." Furrowing her brow a little, she plays with the ring on her finger. "So I totally had the wrong idea, and I sort of forced you into this situation." Now he wants out, it would seem. "Bobby, I love you and I want you to be happy. If you think you can be friends with someone who's interested in you, and not… you know… have it go anywhere, then I'll trust you."

"If that's the case, he'll get over it. If anything he'll do it for Faith." That's at least what Bobby would do, but then again he is being called a douche these days. "Yeah, it is. But please…" He reaches back for her, his expression gentle and almost hurt. "Do not say that you forced me into this. Just don't. It wasn't my intention but I don't regret it. You're the only woman I've actually loved. I'd walk down the isle right now if you really wanted to." He would, too. "I don't think we have to worry about it now, really, but that's no reason for me to not tell you. And in the event that I do actually speak to her again I want you to know that it will be just as friends. She's interesting but she's just… not you." Something he's thought about since last night quite a bit.

"I honestly don't care if he gets over it or not." Hope has given up on her sister, really. Taking a page from Mellie's book on the not-caring department of things. "But I /did/ force it on you. Me and my silly notions when I saw you like that…" The ring is fiddled with again, twisted back and forth on her finger. "Bobby, we've not been together all that long, and I mean, it's not uncommon for people our age to… have mulitple interests…" And here she is, forcing an engagement due to her own stupidity. The ring slips over her knuckle, then is twisted back and forth again, a sort of nervous habit.

He watches the way that she moves, that she removes the ring. Rejection he can handle, he honestly can. Heartbreak at this point might send him off the deep end but he'd recover. He's more worried about her. "No, you didn't. You didn't force anything. If I didn't want any of this I'd tell you. The truth is that between my place and yours, it's been nice living together." Robert hasn't ever really lived with anyone other than his family. All he can do is shake his head, ever so slightly. "I think I was just taken in by the fact that there is someone else out there that I consider a quality person. Working where I do I don't see a whole lot of them. I'm really new to this whole relationship thing but I don't want to screw it up."

Not fully removes the ring, just toying with it on her finger. "No, I /did/. You asked because you felt cornered by what I thought." Hope gnaws on her lip, glancing at him. "I'd ask if you were asking me to move in, but I hardly think that's appropriate, all things considered." The fact that he's met someone else that he thinks is a quality person is enough to put doubts on the relationship. "If something like this hadn't happened, were you going to tell me what you were up to on Thursday nights?"

It's not fully on her finger, that's all he sees. "I don't like to feel cornered and I react poorly when I do. I don't want you to think that I don't want this. I'll admit that I don't know if I'm ready for marriage right now, but then again I'm dealing with way too much right now. It wouldn't be fair to you to get you into it." Talk about family issues. "And I do want you to stay here. Maybe it's some sort of unhealthy dependency or whatever they call it in that psycho babble, but it's just nice having you around. I'm not used to feeling like…" Robert just watches her, that last question hanging for a moment. "Yes. Much like I'm talking to you right now. It just all happened so quickly that I didn't have a chance to tell you." Beat. "I'm sorry Hope. I really am. I mean, I know that nothing happened but I still feel like I've let you down."

"You asked what you thought I wanted to hear when you were cornered. You just said you're not ready for it." Hope is silent for a bit, mulling over what he's said. "I don't want to force you into anything, Bobby. I really don't." The ring is twirled on her finger again, and she just sighs. "Why don't I go home for a week? Just a week. It'll give you time to think on everything, and then you can let me know what you want." A quick smile shot in his direction. "If you say nothing happened, then I believe you."

Now he's confused and it's starting to show. "But I thought you weren't ready for it either, not right now." This is exactly why he doesn't talk about his feelings. Robert rubs the back of his neck as he tries to piece it all together. "I'm not saying that I don't want to marry you. I'm just saying that right now isn't a good time. I mean, I always hear horror stories about mothers-in-law but mine really is a real beast." He's not trying to be mean but rather is telling the truth. "I…" He finally lowers his head and sighs. "I won't try to keep you here, you know that. Even if I don't want you to go." It's reassuring that she believes him and he certainly doesn't appear to be lying. Still it seems like he has something else in his life that is going wrong.

"I'm not, but I still think I forced you to ask in the first place," Hope says quietly, giving him a reassuring smile. "I just don't want us to move too quickly, and I really don't want you to feel I'm pushing for anything." Her hand moves up to cup his cheek in a loving manner. "I love you, but you need to figure some stuff out. I get that. What you're going through is rough. Besides, I wouldn't be going anywhere, not really. Just giving you some space when you're at home."

He should be happy that things are going as well as they are but he isn't. There's still that feeling that every female in his life that he cares for, family included, is turning away from him. Except for Mellie. Robert only looks her in the eye once she touches his cheek. A weak smile is forced more for his sake than anything. "I don't feel like I'm being pushed. I feel like everyone's lea… you know, that doesn't matter." No more depression, not around her. "I'm really lucky, though, to have found you. I don't know if I say that enough. You could be the last positive thing left in my life."

"I am /not/ leaving," Hope says firmly. She may not have caught the full word, but she knows what he's getting at. "I just think, well we've been sort of sharing space since shortly after we met. Don't we owe it to ourselves to see if we can work if we're not sharing every waking moment of our lives?" Plus, that way if he's having doubts, Hope won't get her heart broken too badly.

Her response earns her a look filled with doubt. Every attempt is made to counter that statement immediately but he just can't do it. "I know it's been fast in some ways." Not like Rose and Ivan fast. "I'm just not complaining, not really. But I understand." Robert's tone indicates he may be reading too far into things. "What happened is wrong. I can't expect you to stay."

"Oh for crying out /loud/, Bobby!" Hope very neatly, very playfully swats him with her heavy text book. "You said you didn't do anything, and I believe you. But I don't want to end up like my sister and her… well whatever the heck he is. I don't want to move in here and just take over your life, or have you take over mine. You're allowed to have friends, yes even female ones. I /trust/ you. But at the same time, I forced you into an engagement, just because I came in at the wrong time and misunderstood. I don't want to wind up hurting you or pressuring you into anything."

There is a small pause and she leans up to kiss his cheek. "And I'm not dumping you. I just want to give you some space to see if you still want me to move in after a week."

It's encouraging, it really is. At least he isn't running for a beer so it is a good sign. "I don't like that word," Robert says out of nowhere. "Forced. Let's not use it, okay?" This time he actually smiles, a real smile. "And we're not them. Don't get me wrong; I believe that Ivan does care for her. I just don't know if he really knows what's going on or what is best." Or how serious they really are. That part does not need to be spoken. Bobby reaches out for her hand, not seeming to mind the playful swat. It's far better than what he's been getting lately from other people. "One week, okay? I mean, more if you decide that you really do want to run away from me." As he says this he offers that cheesy, charming smile. "But I can handle that. I do love you and I'm glad you trust me. I promise I won't hurt you."

"You better not go breaking my heart, Bobby, or I'll become very cross with you." As everyone knows, Hope is /really/ good at holding a grudge. Hello, hatred of vampires, remember? "One week. You'll have space to muddle out what's in your head, I can focus on my end of term project, and then if you still want me to share a place with you…" Hope pauses, giving his hand a squeeze. "/If/ you still want me to, we can discuss the intricacies of moving in together…"

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