the night descending ; bruce + maria


Bruce had made it to Japan once before, though he only stayed there for a couple weeks before heading back West. Not in a big city, since a megatropolis like Japan would have caught his face on camera faster than he could take a breath – but a rural fishing village along nestled into a cove, in the southern coast. Treating ailments had quickly turned into teaching the children to speak English, basic math and sciences. Endangering the lives of those so far gone they were likely to die without his help seemed a measured risk, but he’d quickly realized how reckless he was being, surrounding himself with those who had a full life ahead of them. Needless to say, he’d quickly left, and he hadn’t been expecting to ever find himself in circumstances that allowed him to visit the busier, brighter, more crowded, Tokyo.

   He’s just coming in from a walk; the neon lights of the city were tolerable when compared to the dreary, forced (attempted) coziness and isolation of his hotel room. Tony’s gone all out for the trip, but the most recent reminder of his Skrull issues has left him with a merry-go-round of paranoia and upset each time he closes his eyes, a feeling that only intensifies the longer he tries to push through it, making him dizzy and nauseous by turns – and he’d thought the flight over here was the worst it would get. 

Maria’s on a different floor than him, five rooms over on the same side. He knows this only because he’d been checking the list to see who was here and where they were- and not at all because he’d been specifically interested in one person.   Or, not only because he’d been specifically interested in one person. She’d arrived, allegedly, but he’d yet to see her. 

Which is why he’s so surprised to see her in the hallway. Even though this was her floor. And he’d been about to walk by her room. He glances behind him and wonders if she’s gotten the same information he had, and by turn, would know his room was no where near here and subsequently burn the excuse of it. 

    But it’s ultimately unimportant, and when he looks back at her he sees more than just her face, and he can’t help but smile at what’s there; the getup is so wholly different than the typical uniform-like garb he’s gotten used to – like seeing a switchblade in a onesie. His eyes linger on the sling arm, but the amusement and the relief at seeing her well takes his mind off his sleeping troubles:   “Hey.” 

             Until she brings it up again. 

He’s been out for hours, slowly reconditioning his body after getting back enough weight to stop looking a skeleton – but what time it might at the moment, escapes him. “Even less so than usual.” The honesty doesn’t feel as self-defeating as it usually does, with Maria. Out and about, but the prospect of sleep isn’t any more welcoming so he nods. “Lunch sounds nice.” 

“Long flight?” 

She hasn’t bothered with the specifics- the information is in her possession, room assignments, guest list, etc. But among the REST of the literature she’d digested on the way over, including the emails she’s gone through and answered this evening, her mind is aswirl with text and remembering that Bruce isn’t assigned to a room on her floor doesn’t even manage to break the surface to ignite concern. The fact that he’s here and looking well is enough. Recovery is a bitch of a thing ( from anything, but he has a particularly difficult road to travel ). He’s out, about, and participating- at Stark’s request, of course, but participating nonetheless. Her ensuing smile is genuine, the comment regarding sleep is acknowledged with a soft hum.

       “Same as yours I’d imagine,” she counters, factually, the hint of a tease latent in her tone. “I came with Agents Fitz and Simmons, so the flight was a series of INCESSANT science chatter, for the most part. Even if I could sleep I think I’d be dreaming about the latest technology or whatever it was they were trying to tell me about.” A heaved sigh, she keeps moving forward, a hand dusting his elbow as she passes to invite him to accompany her. On a normal day she might be alarmed at how easily she’d just spilled the details of the last several hours– but it was late, and it wasn’t like she was keeping any secrets about it. He’d asked, and she found herself wanting to share.

That frustrating halfway point between sleep and awake, a seasoned traveler might know it well. A mind that knows you’re supposed to be sleeping, it’s night, but a body that won’t quite cooperate. It creates a lull, a space between your subconscious dreaming state and full-bodied awareness. Or maybe she’s just REALLY hungry. Maria hangs a left at the end of the hall, moves for the stairwell. Because a tight concrete corridor is better than a compressed metal box zipping down to the lobby. A shared experience, not ENTIRELY terrible in the end. She tips a half smile over her shoulder. 

In the stairwell, where voices are caught and thrown around by acoustics and cool stone walls, she stays to his left, taking each tread slowly. “Are you okay?” Her voice is quiet, she gets ahead of him by one stair and tilts her head back over her shoulder.

                   ( — Not how are you because that seems so spatial in the relative
                     term of how a person feels and she thinks she knows the answer.
                     Are you okay because it’s more immediate, more about right now.
                     Easy enough to answer without having to filter through the memories
                     of the last several months. How are you seems to be more of a process,
                     and Maria cares more about the NOW than the end result [though where
                     he DOES end up IS a concern, just not presently in favor of his current state]. )



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