between now and
the world's end
“Anytime between now and the worlds end remember?”
She smiled for a secondthe scent of the pies belatedly invading her nostrils and stirring her returned appetite, but only for a second before his earlier opener came to mind. Circled around the surprise of his standard arrival style to push itself back at the forefront.
“Wait .. you said we had to hurry?”
A time between now and the world’s end was inarguably somewhat vague, he nodded, smiling faintly himself despite the hesitated beat that spanned in its own vague cosmic fractions of nanoseconds before he stepped inside as invited.
He’d come prepared with a few jokes, but it was also true that the cave had been left unattended, the floor of an empty west wing littered with tealights around a mathematically calculated ‘haphazard’ spread of about (exactly) five sleeping bags unzipped into an overlapping makeshift carpet cum picnic mat.
The ‘haphazard’ made it all look quite... Cushy.
Whatever the case, the time outside of his skull was ticking tremendously quickly, hurrying him as always. To be somewhere, to do something, to... Just keep moving. As if the more distance placed between the past and the now might keep a man’s monsters from catching up to him.
Around her, though, Bruce wanted to freeze time.
No matter the surroundings, the surrounding circumstanceshe kinda just wanted each moment to be the only moment to have ever existed, to ever exist.
A trap, maybe, yes.
Bruce blinked around at the living room. His eyes avoided the television and so much so that he physically turned, angling his body to be faced away while still keeping her in view.
“Hurry, right. Yes.. Uh... You’re ready?”
He made a more pointed glance over her attire, as if wondering aloud (but of course not quite) if that was her chosen...casual.
And then he nodded. As if of course. As if perfect. As if let’s go thenas he angled his wrist forward, as was becoming quite habitual.
Something about teams.
Something about how the watch was already set to zap them underground, a west wing of the cavenot on the cush because shoes but just off to a side; and not on any of the fire either, obviously.
The level of urgency didn’t quite match his demeanor. At least not in the life or death way she might’ve feared. Unless his solution to life or death situations involved living out a hidden fantasy of being a pizza boy
Alas her thoughts were always making their way to his fantasies. Real or the ones she made up on the spot to tease him about. Partly due to appease her own odd amusement but mostly because she wanted to know. His answers never proving dull and never what she had imaginedand she had imagined from time to time when fires weren’t hailing from the sky or freak rain storms or spending time adjusting to her new fight club existence.
First rule of superhero fight club is.........
She found herself trying to relax againor at least what relaxed looked like now which was far different from before.
And if she ever forgot for a second the root of its origins she need only to take a deep breath to feel the ache that lingered deep in her chest.
On the mend.
She would continue to heal in that painful slow human way but it wasn’t the physical assault that bothered her anymore. The after effects that would linger in her mind was far more detrimental as it seeped through the cracks of the locked doors she had tried to instill like parental locks for her host. A last ditch effort to protect when all else had failedand all else had most certainly failed.
He’d said it wouldn’t happen again. She’d said it tooloudly even but she wasn’t sure she believed either of them deep down.
Not when she went to sleep at night. Not when she tried anyway.
The question about her readiness was met with an easy shrug before she followed his gaze, lowering her chin to look at her tucked in top. The skirt. All consequential of earlier events before he’d suggested they eat.
Because people had to eat.
Not because of any special date on a calendar that she couldn’t have known that she’d even be around for.
A coincidence is all it wasright?
It wasn’t like she was going to shower so that her claims of heavenly smells wasn’t so far fetched and change into a million different combination of Maya’s clothes to find the rest of the least flashy ones in which she was slowly trying to incorporate into the overall wardrobe like a slow take over.
It wasn’t like she would’ve tried to spend a considerable amount of time trying to put it all together in a way that didn’t look as if she had tried so much to be the perpetual cool kid even when it was completely unnecessary. He’d already seen her at her worst and most broken and there was no coming back from that. No matter how much she might’ve wanted to erase it from his memory.
Her eyes bounced from her own middle to his, beyond the carried boxes and his own clothes.
The lack of khaki’s made her smirk again without even realizing it.
It was what she was looking at when they left. The location familiareven though intimidating in scope and capabilities.
She couldn’t help but think about the last time she’d been there though.
The hobbled steps.
The x-rays containing hidden broken parts.
The stupid tears.
Not again, she heard some part of her whisper as she tried to blink herself out and away from the dark reverie.
Past exploration made the terrain easy to navigate even when barefoot but she wouldn’t have to go anywhere to notice the flickering lights. The sleeping bags that she didn’t recognize to be sleeping bags just blankets of some sort.
“Damn.” She muttered as she moved closer, wondering how the few small additions had almost converted the scene entirely. “Not bad, doc.”
(Somewhat unfortunately, given the possible fact that people just needed to eat, it was by no accident that the scene they arrived into was set as far from the cave’s more familiar conveniences as the space allowed.
The kitchen facilities, the bathroom facilities, the ease of exitsthey were all a little more clustered to the east side of the connecting caverns, while the chamber they were now in kind of a bit of an excess, even to a guy who could easily be surmised to have been collecting techie junk and probably all the spare parts of a nuclear warhead or two over a few decades.
Deal was, Bruce still wasn’t sure what exactly Misty’s personal coping mechanisms were like, but his personal trick of the trade was avoidancesurprise, surpriseand the provision had perhaps extended into his...totally casual plans.)
“Does a little something to the place, doesn’t it?”
Tilting his chin up to the raw ceiling of natural stonemuch lower in height than the main chamber, though still significant in contrast to a regular household’sBruce’s gaze lingered with a wry bit of his own appreciation for the way the candlelight danced gently with its soft shadows to the invisible drafts from perhaps just their presence or their breaths (albeit more likely from the cave system’s nature-installed ventilations).
Strange, it occurred to him.
Despite all his talk of tealights and now having attempted to make good on those silly, spontaneous jokes, he hadn’t paused to realize that he hadn’t actually done anything like it before.
Which seemed a waste, really, seeing now how the empty space could’ve beenperhaps should’ve beenused more often.
“You might want to take off your”
The drop of his gaze to her still-bare feet interrupted his fairly needless concernneedless since she could’ve greeted him dripping in mud (or blood, to be more realistic in the present world and its affairs) and he probably wouldn’t have really minded.
Probably would’ve just skipped past the detail to toe out of his own faux-leather loafers, as he was presently doingand maybe with his fingers crossed that the selected footwear was a step up from soaked grandpa New Balances...
“The, uhm… It’s not paved. The ground. Uneven.”
(Because, y’know, she hadn’t already noted the cave floor she was standing on, Bruce thought it wise to inform her.)
(In case she wondered why the cush, too.)
“That’s why the… The sleeping bags.”
smirked slightly in some acknowledgment of his own awkwardness and absolutely incapacitating desire to do literally anything at all with her from that moment forward,
“Do we need Tabasco? I think I have some in the refrigerator over Over on the other side.”
He made the unnecessary gesture of his chin towards the tunnel that connected back to the main chamber. The rest of him seemed to have other ideas though, and in that same moment he was balancing the boxes in one arm, his right hand freed to… Make some gentleman-type offer.
One might presume.
As if she couldn’t climb that massive ledge of a makeshift rug on her own...
Because, y’know, everyone was just about as handicapped (socially, etc.) as geniusstress on the geniusmad scientists.
Christ, what would he even do if or when she took his hand, accepted the gesture and whatnot
Pirouette her into a dipped kiss?
Lean her gently into some relaxing recline?
What would he fucking do, seriously.
Of course, to start with, he could’ve asked if she’d like a drinkto go with the foodbut for all he knew, she’d turn that into an interrogation about whether the sleeping bags were less obvious substitutes for plastic sheets, and
“I’m sorry. I have to ask. Are we planning to make out? Casually or otherwise.”