the night descending ; bruce + maria


His breathe is caught mid-inhale at the moment of connection, trapped in his lungs as the bubble of pleasure rises up along the sides of his chest, expanding through his body in a brief flash of euphoria– at the same time he feels the calm crash of his mind, a tumble down to the depths of his soul that utterly consumes him as he tries to press closer against her. 

    Never mind touch – the taste of soft lips and that electric glow had been knowingly and irrefutably forfeited when he first decided isolation was the best course of action for him. And even as they stood together now, the pessimistic, hated slice of his mind was trying to push through with a mute warning of: danger.  But it lacked the conviction to curb the moment, scattering instead like a dandelion caught in a crosswind.   

         ( a weed, seemingly snuffed, its return ensured by the current disregard, and its comeback promising to be exponentially worse because of it )

In that moment his entire being is wrapped around the pair of them, pressed together and connected. His arm shifts up her side, palmed pressed flat against her back, bringing them both closer;  his inhale finally completes when she breaks away. 

   It leaves Bruce understandably winded; it’d been a few seconds if not less, but it carries the weight of every second in the years he’s been waiting for the wisps of this, for the drips of water to gather and gradually build into a formidable rush.   Except he’s somehow missed ( hedged his bets against, dared to hope for ) this particular stream’s creation, and now he’s well caught up in the current, tugged downstream when he hoped he might still be soaking his toes   – but he’d been well past that point for a long time, now, hasn’t he?  

Maria pulls away and he holds out for an instant, the vulnerability and assurance he sees in her shy smile calling him closer.   The gall of her, when all he can manage is  “Mm’hm.”  

            His nose tips forward, grazing her temple and the brush of hair that sweeps across it, his forehead following right after; not sure if he’ll be able to stand another kiss, even one as chaste as the one they just shared, but wanting one.   A moment of weakness has him dropping his head to her shoulder, to the nook of her neck, turning slightly into the warm skin, his lips gently gliding across —

     someone’s talking to them and he groans, quietly, pulling his face away because even though they’re nameless foreigners in a crowd, they’re still on the sidewalk

                      “… what?”  

A strange moment for any couple- for any pair crossing the threshold of uncertainty into certainty made possible by the simple press of their lips, the collision of two entities ( how obvious had their trajectory been? or had it been clear at all? ). Maria finds she doesn’t regret it in the slightest and the contact elicits a thrumming pulse at the base of her jaw, a surge of contentment at the outcome. And yet- there’s disappointment for a split second when there’s space between them, which he closes with the brush at her temple, jaw, the skin at her neck–

    Fingers tighten at his back, her arm slipping upward and curling a hand over the fold of his collar. An inhale is caught in the back of her throat and a jolt of electricity at the top of her spine until he moves away she’s left to pull in air with her chin over his right shoulder. Huffed out laughter accompanies the quiet tone of her words, a sidelong glance at the woman approaching and her borderline-frantic hand motions.


        “Our table’s ready.”

     The timing is fitting, Maria thinks. Irony, considering the arc of their stutter-step relationship thus far. Fitting, it seems, because it’s unusual that she’d let someone get this close and not regret it. Unusual, and maybe she’s a tiny bit surprised ( which also doesn’t come freely to the spy- a woman who reads and catalogs every action and reaction within a five-foot radius ) that they’ve reached this point, despite the variety of contradicting factors. These thoughts tumble slowly in her mind until she grinds them out beneath a hypothetical heel. Shelved, tabled, whatever. It’s really not the time nor the place to be dissecting the threads that connect them to here from there. 

Exhale, she turns her head and unwinds her arm from his back, letting it fall to graze the side of his palm. Bemusement flickers in her expression at the sound and it comes to a point in the purse of her lips, quirking at the corners.

    Her hand drifts upward, places pressure by way of closing fingers at his elbow. Maria nods toward the building, where the hostess is already catapulting toward. She’s putting up a valiant fight against the lingering amusement, tipping a glance toward him while they navigate the pavement to reach the doorway. 

The restaurant inside is bustling and crowded, but they’ve been blessed by the seating rotation chart gods and are given a table off to the side, tucked into a corner where they’re walled in by two partitions on either side. There’s a two-top directly to the left and right, one more toward the line of windows from which theirs is shielded. All of the tables are situated so that the diners are seated on the ground, with the raised table between them, and they’re almost all packed with what appears to be club-goers attempting to make their way home and sober up. 

   Maria slips into the farthest seat, her back to the wall while she’s facing outward, with clear sightlines of the entrance and kitchen doors. Another tilting glance when he takes his seat, a gentle knock of her knee against the side of his and she’s leaning on her elbow, palm catching the jut of her chin.

                   “This place is authentic.” A brief scan of the room before her gaze lands on him again, glinting. “You know, had you not stopped by I think my evening would’ve been much less fun. A lot more sad in a room-service sushi, foreign subtitled monster movie kind of way.” 

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