42_souls, table 3, theme 42: "would you go with me?"
I... kinda wanted to do more for Indulgence, so... eh heh.


He slipped on his shirt, the fabric rubbing roughly against his skin. It was a gray morning, and the light that filtered in was dusty. Tired. He glanced lazily to the side. Marie remained in a sound state of slumber, her blond hair mussed and curled against the pillow. She lay on her side, arm draped over the comforter, perhaps soaking up the last comfort such accomodations could provide before they would have to rough it. With him.

Stein turned back to the chair, lifting his white coat and slipping it on, weighing the dull morning's possibilites.

He could leave without her, for her sake. Of course he could. He'd considered it numerous times so far, but more than any other, this seemed to be the crossroad of their journey. Their designated inn budget had run dry. Stein and Marie had had a full twelve day's worth of inn stays in the budget, along with seven hospital days, three train rides, and enough ration money for a vagabond's feast. There was always a chance that Sid would end up finding them and provide them with some spare change, but they had agreed not to depend on it, and had merely taken the edge off of their food money at a roadside convenience store, and eleven nights at out-of-the-way inns, saving the last night for an emergency (in the case that hospital service was not an option).

He could conveniently forget a third of the train budget on the table, leave her while she slept, and retire to an isolated location, where he could die alone, old, and insatiably insane.

But...

Stein slid the chair out from under the desk, straddling the back in favor of facing the bed.

But that would always be a 'could.' Of course he could leave Marie. That had always been his decision. Marie had never given him a "leashed" feeling, and Stein was almost certain that if he left, she would not stop him. She would likely respect his choice to leave. He could even go so far as to assume that she would not end up following him.

But.

But there was that pathetic, greedy little part of him that always seemed to reach for the light in her. The part that liked to gaze openly at her soul while she slept; that indulged in the perverse enjoyment that came with watching the warm soul quiver with delight at the dreams she immersed herself in. Stein would admit it: his selfish tendancies were showing.

He could leave her. But he wouldn't. He could say he was merely waiting for her to decide to abandon him for his lack of doting, attention, love. But that would be a lie. He knew she would never leave him for such reasoning. She was too sentimental. Too sweet.

Marie rolled onto her back. She made a tiny noise, as if to ward off the inevitable, but it was not meant to be; consciousness won in the end. The Mjolnir weapon lifted a palm to her face and sat up. Her hair hung in a curtain around her head, draping over her shoulders like a blanket. It took her a moment to notice his stare. If Marie found it odd, instead of saying so she graced him with a drowsy smile. "Good morning, Stein."

He tilted his head to the side and smiled back.

"I'm thinking of getting breakfast downstairs. Would you come with me?"

Marie nodded absentmindedly and threw the covers off, intent on following Stein wherever he may go; this time, down a flight of stairs to the cozy dining room below.

"Just let me straighten up. I must look like a mess."

"You do," he agreed with finality, watching her gape, glare, huff, and stalk off to the bathroom where he just might have heard the faint sound of laughter.

She did, but Stein had long since conceived a certain favor for the messy.