Bruce’s eyebrows quirk at the strong reaction, and he thinks he might’ve just stumbled upon what some might call a button. To be used sparingly and carefully to be sure, but it’s sort-of nice to know there is one. Not that he would ever use it in spite – his lips close against yet another facet of Maria that she’s let slip for him ( intentionally or no? ), collected and coveted in his mind like treasures. 

       His mouth opens but the line is dead ( definitely a button ), but it’s no matter, there’s only a few more seconds before he rounds the corner, feels the shift in the air and sees the door open. 

      “Would you rather I just followed you?” 

In the privacy of the hall he risks brushing past her through the door, reaching for her hand but not closing on it as he steps out onto the balcony; he’s surprised by how chilly it is outside. And continuing the conversation from before: 

                       “Winner’s choice, isn’t that how it goes?” 

      There’s a smart reply on the tip of her tongue, just waiting to press past slightly parted lips when she pauses. The sweep of cool air around them, the lack of any pressure from partygoers and expectations inside, his hand on hers– she moves with him step for step. Brows flick upward, there’s a smile curling the edges of her lips.

                      “Oh, is that how it goes?”

      A hand has drifted upward, catching the edge of his jacket again, keeping the space between them minimal ( the chill’s not all that bad considering the amount of heat he’s putting off ). She tips her chin, doesn’t even try to bite back the now fully-fledged smile. 

              “You seem to be much more knowledgable on the subject than I am, Dr. Banner.”


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