sometime around midnight | bruce + maria


The sudden grasp at his shirt is unexpected, and he frowns until he puts together what’s happening. The blood stain, on his shirt, the one that had caused him an initial flurry of worry much the same way it was doing for her. And so he stills, patiently, with a knowing smile, waiting for her eyes to run over the points they need to run over, using the moment to make sure the cut at her temple isn’t weeping. 

      Bruce shakes his head – not her fault, bleeding all over him – and the concern she shows over it is worth much more to him than a shirt already well past retirement. It settles the uncertainty he has about… them, into something a little less murky – Maria doesn’t rebuff his attention, and in fact offers some for his own wellbeing outside of a situation where it’s necessary.   That’s more than enough for him, for now. 

“Hmm.”  He’d just wanted one, to make sure the nerves were still firing and the muscles hadn’t been too badly damaged – so her ambition is met with fondness, and the slightest token disapproval at pushing it.  The car rolls to a stop but he doesn’t let go, instead winds his fingers between hers for a brief moment; it’s undeniable, what it is, and there’s no ulterior purpose behind it other than he wants to.  The door opens, his back obstructing the agents view – a gentle squeeze, and he eases the arm down, back to her lap, letting his fingers linger:     “A+ – for effort.”

    Nothing short of an x-ray and the notes on her file are going to suffice, and as he scoots backwards his hand slips free of hers. Bruce isn’t the most elegant man to ever get out of a car, and he hovers by the door in case she needs a hand, makes a note to get a sling in case she doesn’t have one handy. 

Almost immediately the agents try to separate them, but he shakes his head with an instant veto, and staunchly avoids the elevator, as he’s not quite prepared to tempt fate again. Why he ever thought taking the subway was a good idea he wasn’t sure, but it does bring up the interesting question of why Maria had been there. And how she ended up so close to him, how they ended up so close to each other.   Curious.

    Someone tries to redirect him to a medical examination room, but he politely ignores them, instead riding along in the peripheral of fussing being directed at Maria. And the Director of SHIELD garners quite the fuss, as he steps into the exam room she’s directed to, keeping to the walls, meeting every single request for his departure with a stoic stare. It seems no one’s willing to actually challenge his presence, and in this instance he finds his reputation for an… excessive, reaction beneficial. They’d evidently been notified of Maria’s arrival beforehand, the room prep’d and ready to go; he picks up the medical chart hanging near the bed, glancing at Maria, his intention to peruse it without a staying remark from her, clear. 

   The fussing bothers her ( not HIS, necessarily, but in general ). It always does. She doesn’t LIKE being reminded of her fragility as a human– her abilities lying in the efficiency of this quarter’s latest tech device or the competence of her agents. The first squeeze of his hand was for him- the next two were for her, a display designed to imply WELLNESS and hopefully stave any subsequent fussing. It’s a deep-seated thing, her denial of attention ( even deserved ); something she’s either aware of and doesn’t mention, or it’s even murkier than that: a lingering memory or instilled habit, the root of which she no longer dwells on.

   Fingers interlacing, though, she interprets as something else entirely that cannot be neatly contained within the realm of well-checking. It incites a smile, albeit a short lived one that vanishes with the inward rush of air as the car door is opened. With her feet on the ground she finds herself missing the seats they’d just left- getting going again after sitting is always much harder with the full CRUSH of exhaustion upon you. Maria misses the subtle shake of his head, the finality of it, but to her credit there’s a lot going on when they arrive. They circumvent the elevators, thankfully, and she doesn’t miss the impassive stares her agents receive upon suggesting Banner be directed to an adjacent examination room.

   He smartly positions himself out of the way and snags her medical file. It’s not entirely INVASIVE ( likely a pared down version with only the more recent and most important notes, as opposed to her expansive chart nested within her S.H.I.E.L.D. file ), and yet he’s clearly asking her permission, which she waves off with a slight hand gesture and small shake of her head. She doesn’t mind. 

           “You realize you don’t get to leave here without seeing a medic, right?” she tosses over her shoulder, now propped up on the edge of the exam table, toes pointed toward the floor. A lab coat ( they’re all indistinguishable at this point ) wanders in with a hand-held x-ray machine. The plastic cast is snapped off and laid gently to the side, open at the hinge like an oddly shaped oyster. The Director is unconcerned with all of this- her eyes remain on Bruce while he reads, brows coming together as she attempts to discern and interpret his expression. 

   The lab coat passes the wand-like device over the arm in question and they all wait for the images to appear on the screen. A few more passes to attain the correct angles and they confirm the suspicion. Still broken. Not terribly shifted out of place- the cast had done most of its job, but this’d likely tack on a week or two more healing time. A sigh, she lifts her brows at Bruce. See? they say. She dials back the smugness. 

           “Painkillers?” she reminds the coat, growing impatient ( the incessant THROB at the base of her elbow isn’t helping ). He nods vigorously and taps something out on the tablet in his palm. “Yes ma’am,” as if he’d been intending to administer an analgesic all along. Maria redirects her attention to Bruce, solving the problems in the room one by one. They’re slipping her arm into a sling, tucking two ice packs on either side to keep the swelling down- the cast will be reapplied tomorrow or the day after, and one of the medics clips it closed and sets it back near her hand. “Bruce-” His first name, she doesn’t care, the environment is sterile enough already without them throwing around titles and surnames. Her tone isn’t intrusive, in fact it’s borderline gentle as the lab coats begin to slip away aside from the one preparing a drip ( fluids and what she hopes is something to numb the pain ). “-please go get looked at. Even just a once-over. I can’t let you leave here until you do.” Ah, yes, the mild ‘mom-threat’ that she so likes to employ. It’s clear she won’t be leaving for another half hour at least, and she gives a nod of encouragement toward the door.


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