sometime around midnight | bruce + maria


      There’s something wrong.  It takes less than an instant to realize that, because it’s apparent in every motion and movement she makes. The disassociated drift of her head, the widened eyes, the distrust of the visual inputs they’re sending to her brain; the struggle to sort through reality and imagination, the far-fetched suddenly becoming very close and possible – nearly tangible, but serving only to make the fog murkier. His fingers curl around the edge of the frame and squeeze. They’ve drugged her, and he’s ready to rip into the nearest medic when she speaks, soft and focused and entirely too deliberate. 

‘Of course you don’t,’ he wants to seethe, and he steps into the room quickly, pushing at the bags running through the IV with a forceful finger (they’re the most likely culprits) – one name catches his eye, the combination of letters fresh in his mind. It was in her fucking file.    “Fuck,” he grinds out, choking the flow on the tubing and pulling the line free of the painkiller – it’s likely done it’s job in that department, but he’s more worried about any other effects. 

              Dropping the line on the bed, he steps in close, taking her head in his hands, peering at her eyes for more severe reactions. “Maria, hey, can you look at me?” he requests gently, his voice calm and controlled through years of practised bedside manner – and it’s the only thing keeping him level right now, the only thing keeping him from stalking the halls with deadly intent – he’s got to make sure there’s nothing worse coming down the pipe. Warm fingers slip behind her neck, his thumb coming down to press lightly against her carotid artery, measuring out the beats of her heart while his other stays to cradle the line of her chin. 

     “I took the diamorphine out – it’s just you’re head, right? Nothing worse, just the –” there’s hundreds of ways to describe it: metaphors and technical terms, long words and rambling complexities. Bruce goes with the simplest one: “– the way everything goes weird?” 

        Another blink; darkness and then the brightness of the room again, colors and shapes shifting into focus. Bruce is upset. He shouldn’t be upset, something bad will happen, but she can’t grasp WHAT exactly that is, just that he shouldn’t be. Maria traces his passage into the room, swift motions and then angry motions at the medicinal bags to her right. And then he’s close, warmth on either side of her face, the press of his palms and she inhales. He’s worried, and angry, the combination of the two making each feeling hard to discern, especially up close like this. He’s talking to her in that gentle way that people talk to animals when they’re scared– the way people talk to other people before they’re about to do something dangerous and she dips her chin a quarter-inch, eyes never breaking contact.

        The agents that’d been in the room, lurking near the edges, had scattered at Bruce’s muted outburst. Gone at the first twinge of green ( they would say later, even though it wasn’t true ), left their Director to fend for herself. Such bravery, but Maria’s too distracted to notice.

        Her right hand has drifted up, trailing plastic cables, and encircled his wrist with her thumb resting on his pulse. “I’m okay,” she assures him, because she IS. Or will be. A minor mishap, in the scheme of things, but you can sure as hell bet that that medic will be out of a job tomorrow. It’s not an allergy, there’s no other side effect than the obvious DETACHMENT she feels from the world– like she’s drifting along with her toes scraping the floor, hovering just above it. Sound is dulled, things swim in and out of focus. Like being drunk but without the HUMOR that goes along with being this loopy. Maria nods slowly, just once. “Everything goes weird.”

             “I need to leave,” she says, after a beat. Insistent, decisive ( still, even in THIS state ), and the agent moves toward the edge of the exam table, toes pointed and intent on meeting the ground. “Will you help–” A one handed gesture toward the IV and its tubes. She wouldn’t make it far wheeling that thing, and it’d all but done its job. In her half-aware state it became clear to Maria that she had to get out of here as quickly as possible, before anyone ELSE fell witness to this spectacle. “Can you help me with these?”


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