AN: Last chapter, can you believe it? Hopefully you are not disappointed by the ending. When I finish my other stories, I plan on going back through and editing and cleaning them up. Especially this and Aftermath suffered from being my first few fics.
Thank you for your patience, reads, reviews and encouragements throughout the writing of this story, I sincerely could not have done it without you. Minor thanks to Adult Swim and their new Joe movie, as that's what made me get back in my groove again.
Again, thank you.
O o o o o o o O
Turn the light out
No thinking for a little while
Let's not try to figure out everything at once
It's hard to keep track of you falling through the sky
The National – Fake Empire
O o o o o o o o O
Snake Eyes met Duke at the door of Shana's apartment above her dojo. "Thanks for coming over," Duke said as the other man entered.
"Is everything ok?" Snake Eyes signed, his eyes flicking to the door of Shana's training room.
Duke smiled, "I think so. She just wanted to see you and work on more memories. She's trying to keep a lot in her mind right now and I think she's getting frustrated." Snake Eyes frowned and looked back over to the door. Duke hesitated, then figured Snake Eyes would find out from her, so he might as well come out with it. "I proposed to her last night."
Snake Eyes wasn't exactly a fidgeter to begin with, but he froze like a statue when Duke said that, finally managing to sign, "Congratulations." It wasn't the most sincere movements he's ever made, but at least he was trying.
Duke nodded slightly, knowing this was an awkward situation. "She's still thinking." He shrugged slightly, "It's hard for her to think about, which is why she wanted to have your help." He paused, then said, "I'm sorry. I know…"
The ninja cut him off with a wave, "Don't." He looked around the apartment, his eyes finally resting on Conrad, "I knew it was never me. And if it's not me, at least it's you, and not Clutch or Shipwreck." He shrugged and there seemed to be a hint of smile in his eyes.
Duke smirked. "Thanks for rating me higher than Clutch." Snake Eyes made the gesture for 'little bit', easily ducking the playful punch thrown by Duke afterwards, moving past him to Shana's training room.
O o o o o o O
Snake Eyes watched Shana move gracefully through the fluid movements of Tai Chi, sighing softly to himself. What he told Duke was true, but it didn't mean he never wished things were different.
"Are you going to come in or just stand in the doorway?" Shana said, not deviating from her rhythm at all. When he finally entered the room fully, she turned around and opened her eyes.
He watched her as he saw the disorientation flash across her face, and made the sign for 'bullet' and 'computer' at her and then automatically she looked for and found her PDA with all her info on it. The first things they had worked on together were remembering that she was injured and her PDA had the answers. They found it worked better if there were physical cues built into the things she was supposed to remember. He was pleased at how well it was working. Now when she 'reset', she wasn't nearly as scared or upset by it.
When she finally looked up from reading her notes, he signed, "How are you doing," watching her body language carefully.
"Ok, I think. A little overwhelming." She gave him an uneasy smile, which he returned. "Conrad proposed last night," she blurted out.
"I know, he told me when I got here. He said you wanted my help?" After signing, he took off his mask, going to check the plants on the edge of the room.
Shana sighed, "That's what I wrote. I guess my next task is to be able to remember he proposed so I can properly think about it." She sat down cross-legged on a large pillow.
Finished with his circuit, Snake Eyes sat down across from her and looked at her face intently, "Is that what you really want?" She frowned in confusion when he said that, so he continued, "I mean, it's not an exact science, you remembering things. Are you sure that you just want to remember that he asked, not your answer, or down the line, that you're married?" He smiled at her, continuing, "I mean, if we get it in your head that he proposed, we'll have to redo it all when you say yes." It was easier to lie around her somehow, to be easy and natural and the friend she wanted.
"I shouldn't say yes though." She sighed, running her fingers through her hair. "He shouldn't have to be saddled down with me. It's not fair to him."
Snake Eyes reached up and touched her face softly, "What about you though, what do you want? That matters more than anything else, and I know that Conrad would agree with me."
"We've only been dating for three months!" she said in exasperation. "Ok, plus another year and a half that I don't remember, but does that really count?" she amended. Snake Eyes gave her a questioning look, prompting her to answer her own question, "Yes, of course it does."
"I can't tell you what to do, neither can anyone else. If you really think this needs to be a task for your memory, we'll work on it. If you just wanted someone to talk to, I don't mind that either." Snake Eyes moved over so his back was against the wall, patting the floor beside him, and Shana scooted over to sit next to him and lean on his shoulder. "You know I love you." He could feel her tense slightly and start to pull away and he continued, "Wait. I love you, and I want you to be happy. If that means staying with Conrad, then that's what I want you to do and I'll be by you, every step of the way. If you want to leave, I'll still be by you and support you. You're my best friend, the one person who puts up with my moods and psych issues without too much bitching. You just have to find what's best for you."
She took his hand, bringing it to her face to feel her tears, and then they embraced. "I'm so sorry Snakes," she said tearfully.
He pushed her back so he could sign again while shaking his head. "No, that's not why I said that. I just wanted you to know I'm always in your corner." And then to lighten the mood, he smirked, "And I expect you to find me a nice redhead as a replacement, ability to sign a definite plus." He got the desired laugh out of Shana with that.
"Ninja skills optional?" Now they were both laughing. "Thank you. I don't deserve either one of you in my life."
"Damn straight." He grinned as he signed it, feeling better himself.
O o o o o o o O
Over an hour after he went in, Snake Eyes emerged from the room, mask securely in place. Duke was sitting on the couch, watching a football game; he looked over at Snake Eyes and nodded to him when he came out. "Everything ok?"
"Two resets, cues worked both times." He knew it wasn't what the other man was asking, so he continued, "I think she wants to talk to you."
Conrad got up in a hurry, "Thank you, for everything." And then Snake Eyes let himself out of Shana's apartment as Conrad moved to the door of her training room. "Shana?" he called to her as he entered the room.
"Hey. Were you out there the whole time?" she asked.
He nodded, "Watching the game. Trying to be patient." He moved over to stand next to her, slipping his arms around her waist. "Session went well?"
She smiled at him, "We just talked about stuff. Now I need to talk to you." She motioned to the floor pillows and he joined her, sitting on the floor. "You asked me to marry you."
"I did," he confirmed, returning her smile.
"I wanted to think about it. Which I have been, as much as I can think about anything." Conrad looked like he was going to contradict that negative assessment of her skills but she stopped him with the palm of her hand. "I'm scared. I'm scared that in 6 weeks, 6 months, 6 years, you might get tired of dealing with my problems, no matter what you say now."
"Shana, I'm not going to get tired of - " he began.
"Let me finish," she said sternly, and Duke's mouth immediately closed. "But it doesn't matter. Every morning, I'm going to wake up, in love with you. It makes me happy to be with you. If you ever decide to leave, I can deal with it then, but until then, why should I make myself miserable and make you miserable?" She smiled and held out her left hand to Conrad, "Yes."
Conrad's face broke into a wide grin, pulling out the small velvet covered box from his pocket and slipping it on her finger. "I love you, don't ever forget it," he said, pulling her into a passionate kiss that she eagerly returned.