between now and
the world's end
When he looked up so did she. It was nice. Nicer than she had expectedand she hadn’t expected a lot.
It was sometimes difficult to determine when they were speaking truths or hypotheticals or truths masked as hypotheticals or jokes. Convenient cushions to fall back on if the thinly veiled truths weren’t well received. She didn’t even know why she did it. Why she bothered speaking in confusing codes when time was never on their side and couldn’t afford to be wasted. For all her so called frankness and tendencies to ‘keep it real’ here she was trapped in some purgatory type cycle doing the very opposite of that.
It was stupid and she knew iteven while she was actively engaging in it. Incapable apparently of saying what she meant when it came to feels directed towards the mad scientist.
“You could be on to something. Flipping caves. Team up with Batman. Come up with a catchy nameBruce and Bruce. The two Bruce’s.” Misty chuckled. Entirely too proud of herself and still looking at the shadows and the ceiling when he started to instruct her to be careful.
She wasn’t wearing any but it wasn’t the first time she’d arrived there incomplete.
She nodded slowly in apparent understanding while the corner of her mouth twitched with bemusement not left over from her blending of superhero’s just before but his explanation.
With her bionic fingers she briefly flashed the universal sign for a-ok with the silver tips of the thumb and index finger touching.
Her thoughts shifted briefly to the deep consideration of Tabasco sauce. Torn between the idea of adding to the perfection that was a slice of pepperoni and cheese pizza and well Tabasco sauce.
It went perfectly with everything didn’t it?
It was the sort of thought process that could only been held by someone’s whose last memories of food had been considerably lacking. First by means beyond her control and then her own doing as she became increasingly repulsed by the slop being served. Her stomach shrinking till she’d convinced herself she didn’t need much.
Didn’t want much
Except pain medication.
That had all changed when she woke up a few days ago wanting bacon.
It was kind of a funny story but one she stopped short of telling due to his question regarding herhis, their plans.
As loaded as it was with its comedicbe it unintentionalweight she didn’t laugh. Nor did she immediately respond with a quick quip to later pat herself on the back about.
Instead she reached for the boxes that he juggled in one arm to take. All but blatantly ignoring the hand and seemingly the question entirely in the process as she moved to place them in the center of the sleeping bags for temporary safe keeping.
Careful in her steps as mentioned.
Careful in her crouch both because of the physical lingering limitations and the skirt that clung tightly to her knees.
Facing him again she encroached the understood personal space between themacting on a fleeting sense of emboldenment that was sure to dissolve into complicated second guesses if she waited a second or two longer.
There was a knot in her stomach all of a sudden that matched the one in her throat.
A conspiracy of some sort she’d figure if she allowed herself the luxury of thinking about it.
Instead she curled her fingers around the back of his neck. This time not to bury her face against shoulder to weep uncontrollably but to press her lips against his almost tentatively
half suspecting that it might trigger something.
An accidental response from those whose bodies they shared.
A dangerous consequence considering his reveal the month before and yet she had done it anyway in a selfishpossibly reckless, haste.
The new world rattled and shook and imploded from its shared cosmic core with certain subterranean, recently flipped caves in the Southwest, and everyone died happily.
(Yes, that would’ve been how Bruce may have actually wanted things to go from that hanging point of contact, but alas, something about people in hell wanting ice water
And the following was what had to happen instead.)
Almost tentatively, though in the haste of a suddenness, his every regulatory function stalled.
Some rapidly escalating disbelief having subdued all other responsiveness beyond the flickered dimness of his eyes finding themselves too soon quite helplessly shut. However momentary, however momentarily prolonged as his lower lip parted in a half-effort for that lacking oxygen and his neck under her possibly steadyingpossibly reininggrasp leaned that unbidden quarter-inch forward.
An existential Oliver Twist with another twist.
Whatever that was, wherever it came from.
It was almost funny, were it to be given thought, how easily a man could slip from modern day genius into the mildly ironic Stone Age caveman only beginning to translate the direction of his pointing fingers into grunts and then eventual, referential words.
‘Fire,’ his internal language had defaulted to when concerned in some fluster with the candles; and among a healthy dose of other examples, now it was simply ‘more.’ A word, or a want, or a want so stifling in its basic nature that it left neither room for a hyperdrive of thoughts to dwell nor for other referents to take its place.
Was there a synonym, any substitute, for whatever the feeling was that his lips were parting furtherleaning forward that fraction fartherto speak?
Speak into existence.*
*He’d heard her whisper.
In a volume, volumes, that no one might hear.
Was it being said in the way his hands moved without his thinking?
Like the lighting of one and a half bags of 50-count cheap candles, his thoughts unrecallable, perhaps even so silent that they wouldn’t be found recorded on any of his subprocessed logsthe way his hands had unconsidered why they’d been freed of their perhaps boxed excuses for celebration or closeness, dragged independently of his somewhat careened mind to the sides of her hips where they almost tentatively, almost tremblingly in their thoughtless boldness thumbed little reaches for that pair of secret sloping concaves of her turtleneck’s sides.
Like even without the encumbrances of thought, they were undecided.
Hips or waist. Salsa or queso.
The availability of choice was, statistically, one of the presiding sources of all mankind’s internal agony.
If the people in hell had no knowledge of ice water, would they still be in want of it?
If there was no other word for the feeling other than to refer to it as ‘a feeling,’ would those hands trying to refer to it still be grasping?
Bruce Banner was a man of many thoughts...
Rarely ones that involved the foresight into fantastical futures, having learned a long time ago that not only was it a bit of unnecessary self-torture but that it also clouded his regular judgments and decisions no matter how strictly contained such thoughts were kept.
Case in point being the way he’d blurted out the questionunintentionally comedic, as was commondespite how his primary vein of thoughts had been elsewhere, more strategically considering all of those other consequentials such as what the suggestion of drinks might invariably lead to.
He wasn’t entirely sure, frankly, if he’d imagined the present scenario in any particularity.
...what with those missing gaps in his logs while lighting 75 candles.
He did know, though, that he’d given quite a bit of thought to indomitable wills and superhumanly enhanced strengths of self-restraint; which of the two (that he still noticed himself in questionable supply of) might be more advantageous for the maintaining of his distance from those things in his headthe people, or the person, he was quite pathetically struggling to stay apart from.
After the collective events of the prior month.
After it’d been assured, with no comforting reassurances, that as much as his theories may have been accurate regarding the other guy’s unwillingness to be ‘out,’ it hadn’t stopped him from making an accidental appearance, felicitous or triggered.
After he’d outright said, too frankly and far too impractically, that he might never let her out of his sight again.
How in the hell had one throbbing stir of affection resulted in such entirely conflicting conclusions?
And which was more…
Promising. Preferred. Palatable.
He checked his pulse.
His first recorded thought in…a brief while, seemingly.
(If he wasn’t already flung by then, curled in some corner nursing wounds to his skull or his ego, then it seemed safe to maybe stay kissing her for a little while longer. Little bit more.)
They weren’t allowed to have nice things, as her host said often. As she found scribbled on a bit of paper once on top of the small desk in the corner of the shared bedroom.
Misty expected the worst because the worst always happened.
This world wasn’t built as a reward. A beacon for enjoyment. It was no heaven for them to spend the rest of their days lounging on white chairs and learning how to play the harp while being fed grapes.
This place was about struggle and painjust the same as any of the others and she had accepted it.
Brooded about it but accepted it.
The solitude. The possible extraordinary levels of danger that could befall heralthough it was just as likely that she be kidnapped by some otherworldly villain as it was her host be racially profiled and killed during her off time, were to be expected.
What she had never planned on was him.
Him and his preceding reputation.
His caves and theories and grandpa sneakers.
She had spent a lot of time trying to connect the dots of just how people found each other in this new place. Often finding coincidences in relation to proximity. Ororo’s host sharing a blood tie with that of her own made the mutant easy to spot and she’d heard tales similar with others.
Friends in one world and also the next.
Lovers as well.
None of what she had surmised seemed to fit why they had been put in each other’s paths.
It felt like a glitch in the system that he not be more closely aligned unknowingly to Stark and she to Colleen. An oversight that no oneeven the all knowing fucked up powers that behad expected
and it made it all the more dangerous.
She wasn’t supposed to have butterflies causing chaos on her insides or feeling a little lightheaded and overwhelmed by his scent. His taste.
It’s why she expected the earth shattering, world ending boom when she crossed the line she’d been teetering closer to for a whilemasking it all crudely with pee interrogations because that was her way.
And she might’ve been okay with that too but she was equally pleased with the alternative. With the being left alone part that she liked to imagine meant that they slipped from somebody’s radar long enough to have a moment.
Course now that she’d been granted permission she wasn’t entirely sure what to do with it.
Her human hand trembled while she struggled not to grasp too tightly with the artificial one. It would be just her type of luck to accidentally break him with her sloppy desperate maneuvering.
They still had three days.
There was for oncetime.
Never the amount she might have started to want but it was there. She didn’t have to panic. Didn’t have to rush.
Don’t panic. Don’t screw this up.
Definitely don’t break him.
She pressed herself against his front, forgetting about past injuries until she was reminded by the lingering vibrating ache that was provoked from the shift. Penetrating her haze long enough to remind herself that she needed to breathe.
Maybe he did too. Maybe he had also forgotten the basic human body requirements.
When she drew back it was only a matter of inches. Keeping her forehead angled in a way that it was boldly held against his, her thumbs traced his jawline with her eyes still closed as she filled her burning lungs and she wondered randomly if it felt strange to him. Her bionic limb against his bare flesh in a way that was intimate and not intending to instill the most pain possible.
She’d never asked Rand. Or Sam for that matter but she’d always wondered if they wanted to secretly recoil from the unnatural sensation it provoked. Maybe too unprepared for the complicated response it could have warranted
She intentionally bypassed his lips to kiss at the corner before whispering an answer finally to the question that had inspired it all.
“I don’t know. Maybe? Is this ..casual enough?”
Whatever that meant.
Casually make out.
Only he would think to ask that.
As if in preparation to include on the itinerary.
Had she answered more straightforward would it have been included before the meal or after?
They’d never know now.*
This time Misty did laugh a little at the absurdity though it was small, light and she still didn’t let him go.
(*Neither, by the way.)
(In the event that anyone might wonder about Bruce’s granted constant itineraries, he would’ve scheduled it neither before nor after the meal.)