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



Bruce’s lips press together momentarily as he thinks of Maria being given an uncertified ‘tester’ and the potential dangers of that – but clearly the piece worked well. Not well enough, for his liking, but now’s not the time to chase curiosity, nor wondering about specifications and potential modifications to prevent this from happening again.

With the worry of future complications sated for the time being, the source of the injury takes up responsibility for the consternation that lingers on his face. Who shot her is information he’s not sure would be beneficial to him right now. The ambiguous and yet decisive answer at what caused her prolonged absence sends a cold stab of unease through him.

      “So you were worried about… -”

It’s as much of a question as it is a leading conclusion, as he steps into her legs with the pull of her touch; his hands curl around her knees and slide up her legs with the self-comforting pressure he can’t put on her torso – whatever had happened, was enough that her absence was justified and necessary. The thought of Maria in a position that makes her question her personal safety fires up his seldom-felt indignation, and he rests a hand on top of her hip, curling around it protectively.

His thumb brushes over the defined curve of her cheekbone, tender where his palm is possessive – her fingers find rest in his hair, and he meets her eyes, the touch reassuring; and yet he’s still unable to ease the pinched down-turn of his mouth, as he leans forward to kiss her gently, as his hand slips off her hip and slides across her back, as his body angles carefully to avoid any unintended discomfort.

   “I have some cream for that,” he tells her when he pulls away; he’s reluctant to disengage so he doesn’t, leaning his head against hers and slumping into as close a hug as he can.

It’s a question she’s not sure she wants to think about- she’s spent so much time entertaining the thought already that it’s gone stale in her mind. Acrid at the back of her throat and it washes away when he steps in close ( shelved; shoved to the back of her mind to be reviewed later ), an exhale and her hand at the base of his skull gives her leverage to lean into the kiss. Already she’s feeling leagues better, turning into the embrace as he retracts, unable to let his proximity fully fade.

              “I’m okay,” she breathes, as if he needs another affirmation- as if she thinks Bruce will actually accept it. A nudge forward on the countertop has her sliding back to the floor, free hand coming to rest somewhere around the small of his back. “I’m just tired.”

Despite being off-duty for the past however many hours, Maria hasn’t really had a chance to actually rest and it’s as if her body has sensed that she’s home ( safe ). It’s starting to tighten up, the soreness settling at the junctions of muscles and ligaments, an all over ache that she’s almost thankful for ( with each thud she’s reminded that she’s here- she’s alive). The television continues to flicker, it hasn’t escaped her that it’s on and that he was camped in front of it when she arrived. He’s tired, she’s seen it in the lines of his expression, seeping into the mask he’d been trying to keep up since she arrived, since he’d discovered the injury.

       The gentle shift doesn’t hurt- or rather, it doesn’t hurt more– and she’s pressed into his side, arm snaking around his back. “Come to bed with me,” she murmurs, nose dusting the curve of his jaw, moving slowly in the direction of the living area, heading toward the bedroom that they’ve been sharing for the past few months ( dare she call it ‘theirs’ and run the risk of shattering the illusion-).

She can deal with the fallout of all of this tomorrow- it’ll all still be here, a full email inbox, voicemails piling up. The stress of the immediate weighing on her shoulders like a second skin she’d rather shed, if just for a few hours.


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