“Like a champ,” there’s a dry edge to Sharon’s voice that even the noise of the their increasing altitude can’t hide – the Iliad usually maxes out at around ten thousand feet, the sound of ozone thinning out around them mixing with the already dull buzz of anxiety and exhaustion that’s filling Sharon’s thoughts.

The reply is flippant – enough that Maria will know it is, Sharon’s not trying to hide – because it’s easier than going into detail, easier than trying to explain the impasse she and Steve had settled on, how he’d compromised for her in a way she’d never wanted to ask him to do, and how it still wasn’t enough.

How she was still so worried about what this morning held that she was seriously considering just waving goodbye to her breakfast now, instead of topside.

“He’ll be here.”  Hands flex on the controls, even though autopilot is already banking the turn, climbing higher still now that the nose of the Quinjet is pointed southeast, Lady Liberty rising up to meet them.  It’s a strange, weightless feeling, being buffeted by the slipstream off the bay, the panel before her all but useless even under practiced hands as something else calls the shots –

Sound familiar?

“That’s all I got.”

Hands rest idly near the controls even though she doesn’t need to have them there- it helps. Helps ease the thud of her pulse sounding in her ears, magnified by the cup of the earphones that are helping to dull the sound of the jet’s engines. The semblance of control is important to her now- a literal representation of having a hand on the wheel. Despite the Quinjet operating under autopilot, it doesn’t mean she’s completely unable to steer it should she want to try.

         Maria’s eyes snap sideways at Sharon’s response, dry as it is. She reads into the tone ( she feels that she’s allowed to, in a sense- at least to a degree ) and can only imagine the discussions that’d gone on between the pair behind closed doors. Rogers will be here, Sharon confirms, and he’ll sign ( implied, she doesn’t think otherwise ), so Maria hazards a guess that their conversations had gone rather differently than the one she’d endured this morning. A dip of her chin, the barest hint of an incline that might suggest her approval. 

She lets a breath pass through her nose, willing herself to be lulled by the high pitched whine of the engines, ears popping in response to the pressure as they level off. The bay below them is smooth, almost oddly glassy for the time of day. 

        “Fair enough.” The response is clipped, accompanied by a slight movement of her jaw to serve as a shrug. Her fingers move along the panel, finding a switch that will close the channel being transmitted through their headphones. 

( Everything about her is muted today- expressions kept veiled, gestures dulled- purposefully contained in an effort to feel less ( uneasy? helpless? ) about it all. )

                 “Surprised Pierce is taking a raincheck. Not like him to miss a photo op.”


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