sometime around midnight | bruce + maria


It’s like she’s somehow gotten stuck in slow motion, working through things fine, only a little delayed and off. She’s not okay, but she will be, and the reassurance makes him realize that it’s the memory of his own entrapment that he’s reacting so viscerally to. Oh, the rage at her subordinates is still there, for this colossal and potentially deadly, inexcusable fuck up; it simmers brightly and barely contained, threatened to burst forth and manifest itself in a way he hasn’t felt since Betty for a long time. But it’s not helpful right now, and he tries to push it aside in favour of supporting her, the same way she’d done for him not hours ago. 

      Her hand’s warm against his skin – or, not cool, and he nods in understanding. “It’ll go away,” he says, more to himself than her, as she seems at terms with it already. Bruce won’t leave her side until it does go away (he should’ve never left, he would’ve noticed). 

He moves with her, dropping his hands but barring an arm near her waist to keep her from jumping off, in case that’s her intent.   “Okay.”   It’s good she feels that way, because if he doesn’t leave soon, he’s going to start destroying shit and that’ll be before the Other Guy shows up.  “We’ll go.”

“I got it, I got it,” he murmurs softly, easing away to take care of the various lines. His jaw clenches as he stoppers the other bags, frustration setting in once again at the sight of the offending liquid. He pulls it off the rack and tosses it at the sink, where it bounce-flops before slowly starting to leak down the drain.    It’s oddly satisfying. 

        “That was unnecessary,” he acknowledges with a quiet calm when he comes back to her, taking her hand and carefully pulling the IV out, dabbing some gauze at the spot delicately.  “But it felt good.”  And now I’m satisfied.  There aren’t any bandaids close at hand, but they aren’t needed. He leaves the gauze on the bed (unsanitary, yes, but he’s beyond annoyed with SHIELD medical at the moment and they can deal with it) and steps up in front of her, leaving just enough space for her to stand but no space to fall.  “Slide off?” he requests, encouraging her to put some weight on the hand he’s still holding with a gentle squeeze and tug. 

       The anger is there, of course it is, but it lies dormant and just out of reach; a RIPTIDE beneath an otherwise smooth, glassy sea. She won’t feel the full effects of it until tomorrow, clear-minded and regretful. Flooded embarrassment at reaching this state in front of him, the slant of relief at it being ONLY him. There will be a definite reorganization amongst the medical staff sooner rather than later, but for now there’s nothing she can do about it– aside from remove Dr. Banner from a situation that’s clearly causing anxiety. ( Because this is now her mission, see. )

   His fingers are deft and practiced with the IV catheter and she’s thankful for it. The bag flopping into the sink incites a laugh- quick and clipped before she rolls her lips between her teeth, eyes still glinting. This isn’t funny. It’s not supposed to be funny. Very serious matter, this. A long night, and she can feel exhaustion beginning to creep back inward in the wake of the surge of adrenaline. “Good.” The press of her mouth does little to hide the fact that she found it all humorous. He’s got her hand and she curls her fingers around his.

       Weight is shifted forward, she slips off of the table, pressing a palm against his side to steady herself. “I’m sorry. This is ridiculous.” A sigh, expelled through her nostrils, the soft shake of her head as she withdraws her cast, tucking it in safely along her midsection. Still- despite the situation, she can’t help but lead, and she takes a step around him toward the door, the tug he’d offered previously returned to encourage him to follow. “We’d better get you out of here,” spoken slowly ( SLYLY, like a joke but she’s almost too afraid to risk it in her state ). Once past the threshold, however, the connection is broken. Lab coats are milling about, trying not to act like they’re keeping an eye on the door they’ve just passed through.

   It’s a straight shot to the staircase, a simple flight of stairs between them and the drive outside, and she moves carefully so as not to appear abnormal. There’s one intersection and she pauses at the crossroad, attention trained on a slight bit of activity at one end. A frown, there’s a part of her that feels an urge to move toward it, to neutralize the situation, but Bruce’s presence at her side reminds her- it’s best that they leave. Maria tips a look over her shoulder, hazy as it is, and aligns herself with the handrail in order to scale the stairs.


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