She wasn't there when he woke up.
He was not surprised.
He yanked his pants on and left the bedroom, determined to find her. They were going to settle things between them if it killed them. He wasn't Raleigh. He wasn't going to let her shut him out.
Chas barely raised an eyebrow at the sight of his brother wandering half-dressed out of Margot's bedroom. "Henry's downstairs." was his only comment, the warning clearly implied. Richie nodded his thanks for the caution. Dad and Chas were one thing, but Henry wouldn't understand. Hell, he wasn't even sure if Mom would understand.
They'd worry about that later. When they decided to... well... whatever they decided to do. He headed straight for the roof. He knew she was up there. He always knew where she was.
She was watching Mordecai. Shockingly, she wasn't smoking.
Margot tensed at his approach but did not look up. He sat down beside her silently, determined to let her do the talking for once. She didn't make him wait long.
"You said it would be just that one time."
"You said you'd be there when I woke up."
She looked at him quickly and he could have sworn that he saw a flash of guilt in her eyes. She quickly averted her gaze. "I guess we both lied."
Richie didn't argue with her. He'd never seriously believed that once would be enough for either of them. But it had been worth a try.
"You made it go away."
He blinked, unsure of how to respond to that cryptic statement. He opted for clarification. "Made what go away?"
"The empty place. Nothing else made it go away, not the smoking, not the sex, not even the writing. But you did."
Richie felt as though the world had come back into focus. For the first time since he saw Margot's file, he felt as though he understood what drove her. The jealousy that had burned in him since the day she met Raleigh began to finally cool. He made her feel whole, no one else. Hope welled within him yet again. Unfortunately, he still had no idea how to answer her.
Margot took no offense at his silence. They sat quietly for long moments, before she continued, "You terrify me."
"What?" The question was out before he could stop it. She was afraid of him? Why in God's name would she be afraid of him? He wouldn't hurt her, could never hurt her...
"Sometimes... You look at me like I'm your life.That's too much responsibility."
"Margot..." He covered her hand with one of his, shocked beyond words. "You are my life." He tightened his hold on her hand when she tried to pull away, continuing in a rush, "You make me happy. All you have to do is sit in a room with me and you make me happy. I just... I want to do that for you."
She shook her head. "I hurt people." She turned his arm so they could both see the scars. "I hurt you."
"It wasn't your fault!" he ground out, desperate to make her see. "I went out of my mind when I saw that file because I thought you were happy. I thought that Raleigh made you happy, that's why I stayed away. I was so jealous and so angry that it wasn't me. I didn't want to interfere. But happy people don't do what you did, Margot."
He cut her off. "I should have known something was wrong. I should have known that you needed me but I didn't. I stayed away from you because I didn't want to see you with someone else. I should have been there, but I wasn't and I hated myself for it. I never knew what Dad did to you. When I found out I wanted to die." He looked at her pleadingly. "I did something stupid, Margot. But it wasn't your fault. I should have known."
"I didn't want you to know." she replied softly. "I didn't want you to know what I was really like."
"Margot..." He cradled her face and looked into her eyes. "I've known you since I was a day old. Trust me, I know what you're really like."
"And you still love me?" she asked doubtfully.
Richie smiled faintly. "Of course. You're Margot." He saw the smile in her eyes and knew that he had pleased her.
They gazed at each other for a moment before she turned away to look out over the skyline. "So what do you want?"
"You." he answered immediately, then hastened to elaborate. "I want us to be together, somehow. Not necessarily like we were today, not... not if you don't want to. It could be just like it was when I was on the circuit. We could find a house somewhere, you could write and I... I'd like to play again. Maybe I could give lessons or start a clinic or something. But I want us to be together."
She quirked an eyebrow. "So you don't want to stay here?"
He laughed a little. "No. Much as I like my tent, I think it's time to go back out there. Besides, Mom and Henry deserve their own space and Chas and the kids are more than enough for them to deal with." He tried to gauge her reaction and met with failure. "Of course we don't have to find a place here if you don't want to. I know this great boat, we could go anywhere. You'd like the South Pole, it's quiet there. I mean we wouldn't want to live there but-" He stopped when he realized that she was laughing at him. "What?"
"You." she smiled. "You've really thought about this, haven't you?"
"Every day of my life." he answered honestly.
Her smile faded a little and she stroked his face. "I think I'll go with the house. I get seasick."
He stared at her, not quite able to believe what he was hearing. "Really?"
"Really. Give me some time though, okay? Today was... incredible but I don't know if-"
"I understand." he said simply. "It doesn't matter." She looked at him wryly and he ducked his head in embarrassment. "Okay, it sort of matters, but... it'll be enough for me just to be near you. That's all I ever wanted."
"Oh, Richie..." She kissed his forehead gently, then wrapped her arms around him. He held her close, gladly. It might not be exactly what he'd dreamed of, but it was more than he'd dared to hope for. And she'd said that she needed time, not that it was out of the question. Maybe someday... Hey, anything was possible.
Margot ran her hands down his arms, for the first time seeming to notice that he was bare-chested. "You must be freezing."
He shook his head. "Not really."
"Let's go back in. I think we have time to check the classifieds before dinner."
Slightly dazed, he followed her inside. He'd won her back. He didn't know how he'd done it but he got her back. It had nearly cost him everything he had, but... it was worth it.
She was worth it.