There’s an equally dry response resting on the tip of his tongue but he swallows it down when the explosion rocks the bar. His head snaps up and he takes a half-step to his left, his first instinct is to put himself between Maria and the doorway. It isn’t due to doubt that she can take care of herself – he knows she can, has seen it firsthand on more than one occasion. But there’s no reason for the director to take any unnecessary risks.
He doesn’t draw the gun resting at the small of his back but his fingers twitch at his sides, the desire to do so rising rapidly the further south things seem to be moving outside.
The wail of the sirens isn’t a surprise but it doesn’t bode well for them. It simply makes the tension ratchet higher. He’s beginning to develop a headache behind his left eye. He’s guessing it’s not going to go away any time soon.
“Think there’s a back door – ?”
And then suddenly the attention of the group at the front of the bar swings around to them. It makes it abundantly clear that he and Maria were, at least in part, the subject of the high-volume conversation that was just happening amongst all of them.
Jury’s still out on if that’s a good thing or not.
One of the bikers gestures at them and says something, and Clint wishes this was one of the languages on the list of ones he knows. Okay, Google…
Standing at attention like this, elbows cocked, spines all stiff-lined and screaming of military, there’s no way they’re not about to get found out so Maria abruptly softens. Shoulders fold inward, she forces a travel-weary curve to her vertebrae, arms fall to her side, slack. A brisk change to her exterior while she’s inwardly going over a shortlist of weapons on her person. The Glock at her side, a P238 shoved into the side of her boot, a hunting knife in the other. A pair of brass knuckles sits snug at the base of her bra, warmed against her skin.
“Worth a look.” Her words are clipped, terse, hardly leaving her mouth before she’s turning toward Barton, creeping toward the back of the bar.
The men are fanning toward them, bottles clattering behind the bar in the wake of the explosion, while the blue and red lights are splashing in from the front. Maria looks over at Clint, an unspoken exchange.
Until there were weapons, they couldn’t risk blowing their cover.
Voices battered the back of her neck, craggy from years of tobacco and vodka, slipping between vowels and blurring consonants. Their tone seemed casual, and Maria wracked her brain for any memory of Romanian or a close Slavic counterpart. They were moving quickly, and despite the rush she was able to pick out three distinct speakers.
A padlock on the back door ( particle board, nothing fancy, but locked just the same ) makes it very clear that they’re about to be more familiar with the gang already crowding around them, jostling for a better position despite the man with the key being at the very back. They’re louder now, more agitated, and one of them puts an elbow into Maria’s ribs by accident and when she turns away she finds herself facing a mop sink. Without thinking she bends at the waist, index finger jammed toward her molars in an attempt to incite her gag reflex and force the cloudy vodka from the depths of her stomach ( a shot was a shot, but if this was their current scenario she’d rather be clear-headed ).
It comes up a slick, cloudy mixture of bile that leaves an acid sear at the back of her throat and Maria barely has time to watch it slip down the drain before she feels pressure at the collar of her jacket, a jerk toward the door that’s now open and forcing displaced air from the front of the shop through to the back.
Stumbling, guided to a van with the rest of the crowd, she drags a sleeve across her mouth as the doors slam shut and the car hurtles into gear, knocking shoulders with the two large men on either side. Lips press together, eyes find Clint’s in the half-darkness where he sits, brows inching upward.