There’s a momentary fall in her expression, the appearance of something he’s not used to seeing – pain, he’s hurt her somehow, and the aching realization douses the steady rise of frustration that’s been building since she’d called his name. It’s an argument by any means but the goal had been to convince and explain, not to cut, and if that flash hadn’t disappeared so quickly and decidedly, it wouldn’t have settled as an insidious thought over the coming days.
“I do – but something like this needs to have checks from the other side too. That’s how checks and balances work – otherwise there’s not a long way to fall before things become a dictatorship.” If it was structured less like an army – they weren’t all Captain America, denied three times from joining the war effort; they were scientists and engineers, diplomatics, foreign leaders and nerdy bookish folk who had no business having their hand forced.
It doesn’t seem like she really does get it, and his hand goes back to curling around his bicep, fingers pressing into the growing muscle there, tension through his arm. Maria does have to go, there’s no question in that, but he realizes why he’s reeling once she turns to the door, and he has to voice it ( there’s no why she can’t have realized it, is there? ):
“I didn’t realize I was doing this alone.”
He came back here – came back to Maria – so he wouldn’t have to do it alone. Come back to New York, where there are a handful of people he trusts, so he wasn’t alone or leaving them open to dangers he might be able to prevent.
It’s too much to unpack right now, not when they’re both running hot while barely scraping the surface of the larger issue, not to mention the additional stressors weighing on her side of the playing field. It’s not a good time, Maria recognizes that, and had she been less frustrated she might have wanted to sit down and take the time to talk it through ( calmly, maybe with tea ). Not an option at the present moment and it might be the biting worry that’s gone acidic in the back of her brain that has her pause at the door, head cocked over one shoulder.
She hears him and doesn’t register the hurt that blossoms in her throat ( a thing that she imagines to be like blood in the water, that telltale bloom that’s indicative of a flesh wound ), or if she does she hardens against it, walls sliding up proactively. Maria’s hand rests on the doorknob while a number of frustrated responses welling up at the back of her throat–
( One that would have been acceptable, perhaps, was that he’s not alone, and that she hadn’t meant it to be taken that way, but.. )
In lieu of adding more fuel to a fire of things she’s already beginning to regret, she decides that silence is the best option, and the knob turns easily in her hand, lock snicking closed at her back after she slips through the opening. If there’s a pang of emotion regarding how they’ve left things, it’s already buried beneath the myriad of work-related responsibilities she has to deal with before she arrives on-site.