what we lost in the fire, we’ll find in the ashes ; bruce + maria


The shift of her hands prevents his from pushing up the bottom of her shirt, and he pauses momentarily as his gaze rises back upward to meet her eyes, still narrowed slightly with a question. That wasn’t a nothing, and it wasn’t necessarily a fine either ( though a part of him is starting to suspect a breakdown in terminology… )

      He’s getting qualifiers, words of reassurance, but not a specific reassurance that nothing happened –

It’s foolish to think she might have escaped without a touch, and the continued deflections are only solidifying his suspicions.    “Maria…”

As desperate as he is to touch her and rectify the unpleasant note they’d left their last encounter, he needs to know what’s causing the skirting around; there’s part of him that’s inclined to believe her while the other half fears of what the outcome might be, given their particular brand of luck.

    Soft stubbornness is prevalent in the challenge he issues next – either way, he needs to know:

             “Let me see then, if it’s fine.” 

It’s a call on what he hopes isn’t a bluff, the regained freedom of his hands sending them pushing her shirt up again, tilting his head to the side and landing a kiss on her chin, dipping down to continue a gentle trail downwards, lips soft against her neck until he has enough of the fabric bunched up he can start tugging it upwards and off.

          She knows it’s bad, and that’s why she’d initially planned on keeping it from him. It was a bruise, nothing serious. Her own little sliver of pain, perhaps, stashed away for her own personal reckoning- a reminder of their collective failure ( tinged with the sour taste of betrayal ). But it’s also not as bad as it looks, and that’s saying something. Maria wishes that she didn’t feel like she was treading on eggshells ( even now, after all seems to be well ) and that she could spare him the frustration because she knows that she could have told him outright, she should have- and she doesn’t really have an excuse for why she didn’t ( anger, maybe, with a dash of pettiness or maybe the belief that– ).

The dredges of tension lingering from their discussion a day and a half prior is still wound tight between her shoulder blades, in her throat, in the coil of her abdomen. But Maria can feel it start to slide away beneath the warmth of his mouth and she allows herself to drift, briefly, until the starkness of the cool air meets her skin when he’s hitched the fabric up far enough.


              “It looks worse than it is,” Maria explains immediately, watching only his expression because she knows what the site of impact looks like. The nebular swath of purple bruising has darkened since the initial incident, she knows because she’d looked that morning. It runs the gamut of violet to indigo while pooling black in a few spaces. Swirling seemingly like a storm around the obvious eye- a stark dot of red surrounded by yellow where the slug had hit. Not a hematoma- that had been the initial concern. It looks awful, but to Maria it looks a hell of a lot better than being dead, so she’ll happily take the W.

She catches the hem of the shirt ( an orphan of Sharon’s that she’d claimed in the chaos after the carrier went down ), keeping it from going up and over her head because the motion is painful and constricted by stiffness in her left side, but holds it so that he can continue looking if he wants.

                “Agent Simmons did an ultrasound around the site to confirm that there’s not an internal bleed,” as if this will somehow be helpful, placating news.


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