sometime around midnight | bruce + maria


If it’s not Timmy, then Lassie’s set off a rockslide, and he hopes that’s not the case. There’s nothing unwonted in Maria’s words, but the following backtracking suggests otherwise; traces of something he doesn’t expect to see on her face, in the way she holds her head, and it has him genuinely pocketing a smile, turning his head the other way in a token attempt to hide his amusement. “None taken,” he says warmly, and if there’s a hint of a tease in his voice he can’t be blamed. “I would say the same, but it’s… an upgrade, compared to Skrull hospitality.“ Although present company is a substantial contributing factor. 

It might be morbid, bringing the Skrulls back up again like that – but it’s true, and coming to realize where he really was instead of where he thought he was had saved them both a fair amount of crushing and grief. And there’s a part of him that wants to prove his delicacy on the subject lies solely with the situation, in the cluelessness and frustration he’s been experiencing across the board. Captivity itself is something he’s begun to process, started to deal with in the twisted, self-effacing way he instinctively turns to. It’s not a topic they need to tip-toe around; current circumstances excluded.     ( or so he’d like to think )

Bruce braces against the wall, watching the mussed strands near the top of Maria’s head with careful focus, keeping himself steady. Now’s not the time, he tells himself, but the evidence is quickly pointing back to good ole’ Timmy and his crew, coming to retrieve them, and he tries not to wince at Maria’s shout. Necessary, yes, but there’s an irrational part of him that fears domino-like repercussions at any change to the current variables, noise levels included.   Solid impacts with what might be the only sturdy structure in their small rubble encasement, included. 

“We’re keeping you away from avalanche zones,” he mutters, forcing levity as he attempts to deal with the creaks and scrapes and the pounding steps and– 

       Bruce groans, jerking forward to cover her only to be stopped by the material pinning his arms down; but it’s fine, it’s just the fixture, and his hand slips back properly into hers, gripping and holding, making it out the only thought on his mind, they’re so close  

Maria’s fingers slip away and he gets half a second of panic; the next moment she’s pressed flush against him, and he realizes what’s happening, the whispered apology unnecessary as rubble slips in behind her, a chain reaction that frees his left arm. He’s regained a fraction of the muscle he’s lost over the past few months, but he tries to help as best he can, giving her a boost as the agents above manoeuvre to bring her over the edge. 

Alone in the space, it feels more claustrophobic, and he blinks the dust out of his eyes to see exactly what he’s got to work with. Right arm still pinned, but the keystone for that rests just behind Maria’s back – it’s a precarious setup, and he slips on the mountain of crushed concrete they’d been standing on. “One sec,” he calls up to the agent inquiring after him, pushing himself forward, nudging the pipe off it’s ledge. The rocks come toppling down and he pulls his hand free before his arm gets too bruised.

He’s coughing as they haul him over the edge, one brave ( strong ) soul gripping his hand and pulling him to his feet. The others keep a distance, though it’s still tight. Bruce thanks the guy, who retreats, and when he looks down to straighten his jacket and shirt ( and to avoid the agents eyeballing him ), he notices a blotch of blood on the plaid. A quick check tells him it’s not his, and he instantly looks for Maria – she’s not  fine. 

She IS fine, on principle. Even the most minor head wounds like to be DRAMATIC, hence the dried blood caked in her hairline, splotchy around her ear, and making a near-topographic pattern along the curve of her jaw. Still, there’s an agent on her left, dutifully pressing a scrap of fabric to staunch it, though it’s all but dwindled now. There’s incessant movement all around them, a swirl of activity and she’s kept a keen eye on the situation not eight feet away, Bruce being helped to his feet and then promptly ignored for fear of the underlying repercussions. Agent Selden is in front of her, doing his best not to tower ( she’s told him time and again that she doesn’t like it, as if there’s something he can do about his RIDICULOUS stature– but damn it if he doesn’t try ), relaying the details of what had happened.

Maria has an uncanny ability to absorb information whilst appearing UNCONCERNED ( or distracted ), and she catches the key words like bomb and remote detonation and militant Inhuman teenagers and casualties. She knows the number and the extent of the injuries being taken care of at nearby hospitals and Selden’s doing a fantastic job of communicating this information quickly and efficiently, but the agent buzzing near her head is getting irritating ( she’s been subtly turning her arm inward to avoid being knocked ). “Enough-” The word slices through the taller agent’s beautifully delivered statement about the MTA’s apparent press conference that’s happening at this very moment.

     “Please go give Dr. Banner a once over, I find it frighteningly alarming that I even have to ASK.” Disappointment and disdain drips from each syllable- and every agent in range hunches their shoulders like a scolded pet. The medic hesitates, hands her the shred of gauze, and squares her shoulders toward Bruce, marching toward him as if going into battle.

Exhaustion has begun to creep over her, settling in on her shoulders and the upper part of her spine and pressing down. Her bones ache from being jarred and jostled ( thrown? Maria isn’t quite sure WHAT exactly occurred in between the bomb detonating and awakening, crammed into that crevice ), and she’s very aware of the throbbing pulse in her elbow. There’s a sigh, shoulders rising stiffly and then falling. 

     “I’d really prefer we take this conversation above ground, Agent.”

“Right, oh, of course–” He stutters and then looks disappointed in himself for doing so, just the slightest pinch between his brows. An abrupt about face and he’s heading toward a stairwell lit up by caged construction lamps. The space is small enough that they’re passing by Bruce and she uses the opportunity to shoo away the medic ( again ), who’s telling him very earnestly that he should go back to the S.H.I.E.L.D. base and get properly examined, but Maria motions for him to follow, offering an escape from the press and murmur of agents milling about and attempting to mend a catastrophe. “You okay?” An aside, though it’s merely conversation fodder at this point- they’re both quite familiar with the result of their situation.

     “I expect I’ll have all of this in digital format by the morning–?” she asks, the question pointed at Selden as he leads them up the stairwell, hanging close to the open edge while casually herding Maria toward the inner wall. His monologuing is getting tiring. 

     “Yes ma’am.”

     “Good.” She’s stifling a yawn with her shoulder, away from Banner and the agent. “We’ve been instructed to see medical. Email me the documents when you’re finished. We’ll debrief in the morning.”

Selden frowns, but nods, gesturing toward an idling SUV, heaving one of the doors open. She hesitates, angling so that Bruce can slide in first, because there’s a part of her that knows she needs to stay– needs to see this through. There’s always work to be done, it won’t ever go away. There will always be something that needs to be handled, and she knows that caving now will only stack more for her to catch up on in the morning–



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