Damn – he’s gone and done it; it’s too late, it seems, to keep the restless wakefulness to himself. It feels selfish now ( though he’s never claimed to be selfless ), to have caved into the instinctive desire to find comfort in her presence, and he tries to escape out the door in the hope that she’ll write it off as an idle trip to the kitchen, but her voice catches him mid-step and he sighs – since she’s already awake, there couldn’t be any harm in it, could there?
— – there’s Christmas lights in his memory, but he knows he can’t see them, knows they’re not actually there, dangling strands of multi-colored icicles that force his muscles to seize with sharp, snapping, paralyzing bouts electricity –
Bruce’s arm flinches from the shoulder with phantom sensation and he inhales deeply as his fist clenches, fingers digging into his palms and staying there. “You should go back to sleep,” – but it’s a token effort, and he knows she won’t, even before he hears the movements ( he just needs to get to somewhere with a light, somewhere warm and he’ll be fine ). A slight pause and she’s right there, and it’s too hard to shed the heavy cloak of anguish and desolation, too hard to pretend that everything’s okay, so he sheds his resolve instead, folding his head into her body and wrapping his arms around her waist.
“Just a dream,” he tells her; a nightmare, but it’s better to leave it nameless, pretend it doesn’t have a lingering hold on his mind and body ( and sanity ) –
Memories he’s spent months wrestling, memories he can win over more often than not. If he hadn’t been confident in his ability to stay them, he wouldn’t have come back, but he can’t deny that this helps, this contact helps – that Maria helps, and that sometimes… sometimes they don’t seem like just nightmares.
There’s a dark cast to the room- sheets and shades of navy and black, pervaded only by the filtered light through slats in the blinds, dull-orange sodium glow cast off from the streetlight sentry on the corner. Through it she can see the flinch, a flickering movement through the hazy atmosphere of a room still caught between sleep and awake and it serves to bring her more sharply to the present moment where he’s murmuring, attempting to get her to go back to bed. Maria exhales when his arms come to rest around her waist ( she’d felt the tension in his tendons and no one can blame her for the surge of relief that comes when he relaxes ), the weight of his head somewhere just off of her shoulder.
Her fingertips brush the middle of his back, arms encircling his torso while she inhales, head turning just enough to find a space of skin near his jaw to press her lips to. When it becomes clear that going back to bed isn’t going to be the best course of action, she shifts into the logical next best step.
“Come on,” it’s just a brush against his ear before she pulls away, keeping the contact linked at the palm of their hands. The door snicks open at the press of her fingertips, the large room just past it is dark, save for a single bulb burning in an outlet just off of the kitchen sink- enough to provide passage to someone familiar with the interior of the unit but not quite enough to be impeding to unadjusted eyes. Maria directs him to a chair at the table before flipping on the light, squinting against the harsh fluorescent and scraping a hand through her hair.
He can choose to talk to her about it- or he can choose not to, either way isn’t of any consequence. Maria’s well aware that coping mechanisms differ greatly from person to person- she’s witnessed many times the stoic silence of a combat-weary agent or the incessant babble of a person simply trying to make sense of what they’ve just encountered. She fears that these wounds might run far deeper than that, however ( if they’re related to what she’s assuming at all- ).
“Tea?” Maria’s already at the faucet, swinging open cabinet doors on either side in an attempt to locate the glass handled dish that might serve her purpose best.