“Just taking the scenic route,” he offers, ducking between two people and cutting across the edge of the room, with the intent to circle around. He catches her face ( her eyes are too small to see clearly, but he’s looking there ) through the mass of people, throwing a shrug at her before she slips away. 

         “And making sure you’d be able to sell your play.” 

The second is a teasing dig, and his voice lower as he enters the quieter, less crowded hallway. The catering go-around, and he steps aside as a cart passes by, indicating his phone with a hard-done-by cringe by way of explanation.   “So this is part one – what’s up for part two?” he asks, even though he’s still got a few seconds until he can slip through the access door by her. 

A laugh, sharp and slicing through the otherwise quieted castoff din in the hallway she’s currently occupying. “Sell my play? You really can’t think–” It’s a joke, Hill. She lets it lie, running her tongue over her teeth. Even in jest- this is all supposed to be fun- Maria finds it hard to let herself be played. It’s only the lilt to his voice that keeps one of her feet firmly well within the playing field, and she tilts her head into the phone.

              “Part two? Who said anything about part two? You gave the challenge and as far as I’m concerned, I’ve succeeded. So you tell me, Banner. Or maybe you should just let me know when you get here–”


Maybe ending the call was a little abrupt, but he’s smart, he’ll figure it out. She presses her back into the door handle, feeling the latch engage and allow the seep of cool air in from around the gap in the frame. She purses her lips, gives him vaguely impressed look when he finally comes ambling up.

                   “Scenic route, hm?”


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