Disclaimer: Not mine.
Yes, it's been a while, but I have not forgotten you! I'm just on a massive Once Upon a Time kick right now =D However, for your viewing (and reviewing) pleasure, here is this delightful little blurb. I know I already wrote a proposal scene in Illuminations, but I thought I should write one that fits with canon as well.
As always, read, enjoy, and please review!
Paton lay in the hospital bed with his eyes closed, idly pressing the buttons beside him to send it creaking upwards and back down again in a repetitive pattern. Allowing the mattress to finally come to rest at its standard horizontal position he sighed and flopped his head back against the pillows, dark hair fanning out across the white sham.
He had been given his own room this time, the city hospital well-accustomed to his particular peculiarities by this point. The arrangement worked well, for he had no nosy roommate and was free to control the lights at his leisure.
Shifting slightly to the right, he struggled to maneuver himself into a more comfortable position. A sharp pain shot through his chest with the movement, and he could not suppress a pained wince at the dull throb radiating from the wound. Though the actual injury was well-covered, he knew that beneath layers of bandages there would be the asymmetrical hole just above his heart, the skin puckered around the arrow's path of entry.
Raising his hand to his chest, he placed two fingers over the injury, feeling the throbbing heat emanating from the wound even through multiple layers of linen. The arrow had gone deep, penetrating his defenses to pierce his vulnerable skin and drive him to the ground. He had awoken to the bright lights and relentless clamor of voices he had come to associate with the emergency room and then had promptly passed out again.
They told him that he was lucky to be alive, that any deeper or much longer and he would have been a dead man. He knew it was morbid, but he wondered if he was lucky. Good had triumphed over evil, but Julia still despised him, and of what worth or significance was a life without her?
Heaving a great sigh, he returned to his exploitation of the mechanical bed frame, creaking it up and down and up and down until the irritated scowl of a passing nurse stilled his fingers in their idle quest. "If I can't have my future can I at least go home and be miserable there?" he asked the ceiling, glaring dourly up at the darkened drywall.
"And what is that supposed to mean?" A slight figure dressed in nurses' scrubs slipped through the door. "What future do you think you are missing?"
Paton rolled his eyes at yet another attempt to "connect." Nurse after nurse had a habit of dropping by to "chat", inviting themselves into his confidence and insinuating trustworthiness, acting as though he were a human volcano preparing for some great emotional eruption. To be quite honest, he was sick of all of it. His business was his and his alone.
"Well," he muttered, knowing he had to at least say something or his unwanted visitor would never leave, "any future without Julia is no future at all, and I do believe I've lost her for good."
"And who is this Julia?" the stranger inquired, voice unusually soft for a nosy nurse.
It may have been the pain medication, or possibly just the erosion of his emotional shell by countless waves of questions, but Paton found himself baring more of his soul to this stranger than he had to any of the previous invaders combined. "She, I—" he stammered, searching for adequate words, finally settling on a murmured, "I love her." He closed his eyes and pretended that he wasn't siphoning off his emotions to a total stranger, letting the despair and loneliness and exhaustion that had been gnawing at his mind roll off of him in thick waves. "She is my life, my everything, but—"
He paused and swallowed, throat convulsing as he summoned the words and courage to continue. "I lived a dangerous life for a time. People—bad people—sought me out and attempted to eliminate me at any cost. When that failed, they turned to a weakness they knew they could exploit—those I love. I thought if I pushed them away I could spare them a painful fate, protect them from harm. I buried myself in the research and fought every instinct to return to them, to her. The sooner I could bring the conflict to an end, the sooner I could work on creating a life with her."
He flinched and gave a sorrowful half-shrug. "Instead, I drove away the love of my life." His voice caught in his chest and took on a tenor of self-loathing. "Instead, she detests me, and is well within her rights to do so. And now, I'm alone."
His companion sat silently all through this cathartic outpouring, her face impossible to make out in the shadows of the darkened room. As his speech came to an end, she finally moved forward, and he could make out the faintest outline of unshed tears sparkling in honeyed brown eyes. "Not alone, Paton," she said thickly, seizing one of his hands between both of hers and bringing it to her lips. "Never alone."
"Julia?" he asked in disbelief, the words tumbling from between numb lips. "How?"
Smiling around her watery expression, she quirked an eyebrow. "The nurses around here are far too careless with their extra uniforms," she remarked, her lips turning up in a mischievous grin.
Paton let out a strangled laugh and reached out to catch her hands in his, pulling her down to sit awkwardly in his lap, her legs sticking out over the side of the bed.
"Paton!" she squawked, laughing despite her cumbersome, inelegant position, "let me up!"
He shook his head, lips pressed together in a broad smirk. "Nope. I quite like you where you are." Julia squirmed in his lap, trying to escape his tight grip.
"Paton, you had an arrow sticking out of your chest not eighteen hours ago," she protested. "You should not be doing anything."
His lips pulled away from his teeth in a flashing smile. "Not even this?" he queried, before darting forward and pressing his lips to hers.
Startled, Julia instinctively jerked away, then settled into his embrace as her body and mind slowly relaxed. Humming contentedly, she wrapped her arms around his shoulders, gripping his back with firm hands and pulling him more tightly against her. How she had longed for this contact! For months now they had been separated, first by his stubbornness and then by her own. She had missed him even more when she had been the force holding them apart, for she had known he was home and safe but had intentionally refrained from contacting him.
They had been the longest weeks of her life, those days spent forcing herself away from him, refraining from checking on him or giving in to her driving desires. Many a night had passed when she awoke trembling from cold and loneliness, or jolting awake with a breathless gasp as she lurched out of nightmares in which she watched Paton hurt, saw him fall and die, time and time again. The love binding her to him had gripped her heart in an iron fist, dragging her toward him with a force that it physically hurt to resist.
This kiss took all of that loneliness, all of that love and longing, and magnified it tenfold, both her feelings and the ones that he so obviously reciprocated. Lips moved together, teeth clashing and breath melding, as Paton unleashed all of the love and agonizing loneliness that had been accumulating within him.
Clever hands dances lightly across his shoulders, tickling his neck and dipping into the hollow of his throat. Grinning wickedly at his depressed sigh as she drew back from his questing lips, Julia turned her attention to his neck and chest, following the path her fingers had already carved out with a lazy swipe of her tongue.
At the slick flick of her tongue against his skin, Paton growled, the sound rumbling up from his chest and emerging as such a wild, uncensored sound that Julia shivered in delicious anticipation.
He shifted his grip form where it cradled the back of her head and dragging it leisurely down through her thick mass of curls to rest at the small of her back. Feeling her tremble in his grasp, he dipped his head down and molded his mouth to hers once again, worrying her lower lip between his teeth.
Julia moaned into his mouth and pressed herself fiercely against him, all but laying atop him on the narrow, lumpy hospital bed.
"Love you," he murmured fiercely against her lips. "Love you so much, never stop loving you." Delving back into her mouth, he slipped his tongue between her lips, drinking in the taste of her like a draught of long-denied water. She was perfection, honey and a warm spice all of her own, soft and pliable in his arms.
Drawn apart by a growing need for oxygen, Julia exhaled, striving to coach her breathing back under her control and regain at least a minor semblance of composure. "I love you too," she told him, brushing a soft kiss across his throat and leaning up to tuck her chin beneath his head.
Paton reached out to wrap an arm around her waist, but the movement tugged at his still-raw chest and he winced, a hiss of pain escaping from between his clenched teeth despite his best efforts to contain it.
Instantly, Julia withdrew, surging to her feet and giving him a wry glare. "Oh, Paton," she exclaimed, fussing over him like a mother hen, "I forgot all about your poor chest!" She ignored his muttered, "Well that was the intent," and turned her attention to straightening out her clothes and hair, smoothing away the rumpled evidence of their affection. "The kinder you are to your injury the sooner you can be released," she chided. "We both know where your thoughts stand on hospitals."
Paton's mouth slid into a thin line, and he acknowledged the accuracy of her statement with a stilted jerk of his head. "But I want you, my dear," he said plaintively. "All of you," he added pointedly, quirking an eyebrow and running his eyes up and down her body.
"And you shall," she vowed, smiling a smile that promised much to come, "once you are discharged."
Paton fidgeted in bed, clearly dissatisfied with his inability to leave or act. Lean fingers fiddled with the fringe of the thin hospital-issue sheets as he disappeared on some stray train of thought, mind temporarily removed from the present in pursuit of some elusive decision. When he finally reached a decision the change was tangible, clarity sparking back into his eyes with a swift jolt.
"I had meant to save this question for a far more…appropriate time and setting," he began, suddenly seeming as hesitating as a high schooler on his first date, "but recent events have served and excellent job of putting everything in perspective." Ignoring Julia's disapproving frown and the insistent flash of pain that shot through the wound in his chest, he maneuvered himself so that he was laying half on his side, supported by his left elbow and knew, the right leg spread out long. Had he been upright, the position would have been akin to kneeling on the floor.
"Julia," he said, his face canvassed with shades of uncertainty and emotion, "I know this is far from conventional, my dear, but…" He released her fingers for a brief moment and slid his hand beneath the sheets, re-emerging with a small velvet-covered box clutched in his large palm. "I've waited far too long to ask you this, my dear," he said, snapping the box open with a deft flick of his fingers to expose a gleaming band of white gold with an elegantly-cut diamond mounted in the center.
"Julia, my love, will you marry me? I can't go another day without you by my side. You are a jewel, everything to me and more, a beautiful, intelligent, compassionate woman who sees something in this flawed old power booster." He broke off, further enunciation escaping him.
Julia gasped, her hand flying up to her mouth. "Paton," she stammered, "how long have you been planning this?"
He looked at her sheepishly. "Months,' he confessed. "I just didn't want the war to put you at risk, and the time was never right, and I was scared that—" He blushed and looked down.
"That?" Julia prompted, her voice tender.
"That you would refuse me," he whispered down to the sheets.
Instead of replying out loud, Julia took his extended hand in both of hers, plucking the box from between his numb fingers and sliding the elaborate band onto her trembling ring finger. "Oh, my love," she breathed, "I could never refuse you. Not in this, not in anything." Leaning toward him, she tilted his chin up with gentle finger and brought her lips chastely to his. The kiss was tender and full of compassion, all sweetness and love and everything they both held dear. "I love you," she whispered against his mouth, breath ghosting over his lips in a gentle exhalation of the simplest, most genuine truth between them.
"And I you," he murmured, tracing one long index finger along the smooth curve of her cheek.
It didn't matter that they were in a hospital, that Paton was bruised and bandaged, that the sun outside had set on a day of violence. They were together, and they were in love. They had each other (forever) and that was more than enough.