( he needs to buy a kettle – )
It’s too much to try moving his head and so he tracks her with his eyes, his focus flitting down somewhere around her elbows as she drifts over; – – it’s cold, cold stone cement metal
– the hum of the microwave is monotonous but human, and his eyes close with the gentle pressure of her knee at his leg, the tickle of fingertips along the soft, exposed skin of his arm; the gentle movement provokes a shiver – or was it the cold – and his inhale is shaky. His eyes open to the grainy, cheap tabletop wood, and Maria’s face at the corner of his eyes, and he swallows and shifts his gaze to her.
It takes a two tries to meet her eye, and he’d claim to be distracted by the soft, smooth slope of her shoulder, or the hollow of her elbow, extended to reach his arm, but they wouldn’t be true. Tender warmth follows her route along his arm, melting into his pores like butter through corn, but it’s a pleasant sensation, one he refuses to think lingers for too long.
“Yeah. I know.”
Appreciation and genuine comfort coat the drawn line of his lips, and his head falls into her hand, a solid, forced inhale giving him an air of attempted relaxation. A grimace coincides with the chime, the lack of hum making the room feel empty; just empty, though, and he watches her but she doesn’t disappear, doesn’t dissolve into a swirl of indistinguishable scents, or a firework display of noise, and he nods, willing himself to believe it :
“I am.” or, rather,
“I will, be.”
It worries her, the distress- or his version of it. Maria notes the amount of time it takes for him to meet her eyes, the rattle of breath in his throat, the way his head lolls in her hand. Compliant, tired. She moves her thumb along his jaw, the expression on her face softening as her hand shifts closer to the back of his neck. Leaning in, already halfway out of her seat, Maria presses her lips to his temple.
She moves away from him, fingertips lingering at his hairline before drifting across the room, back toward the microwave and the glass dish of water. There’s a mug on the counter, the one she’s noticed in the drying rack more often than the rest. A few drawers and a cabinet before she locates the tea and selects what appears to be a floral, herbal variety. Water and tea bag combined, Maria picks her way back across the kitchen, sliding the cup onto the table in front of him and taking back the seat she’d vacated, nudging the chair a few inches closer.
“We can stay up for awhile,” she says, tucking a foot behind his heel, her knee resting against the underside of his beneath the table.