labcoatgirl: (hugging Bruce)
[Pencil stub. Notebook. Formulas going everywhere.]



[He's completely lost in his work, he's oblivious to the point of putting himself in danger. An idea for a cure though has struck him and he can't sleep, not until he writes it down and goes through a few preliminary proofs on paper. His nose is inches from the page, glasses on as he scrawls furiously, working from memory.]

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[Betty's seen him like this before.

Before the gamma incident, he would get these bursts of inspiration. Usually she would leave him to it, but he seemed so stressed...she couldn't help but worry.

She quietly moves around the lab behind him, working on brewing some new coffee. And stifling a yawn in her fist. He likely wouldn't stay long but she wanted to stay awake to help.]

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[There's a coffee mug on the table near him, but purposely placed where it's unlikely to be hit in his flurry of ideas. It also means it's out of sight and long gone cold. The smell of new coffee brewing is so far from his mind though, even that doesn't interrupt the flow of thoughts.

The pressure of being near Betty and knowing he has to make the visit as short as possible, and trying to make certain he writes down everything finally gives him writers cramp.]

Ow. [He's forced to stop, dropping the short pencil and flexing his hand. His mind is still running though, as he looks over what he's written.]

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Here. [She hands him a fresh cup of coffee, taking over the pencil. He can dictate, her shorthand is faster than his anyway.]

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Huh? [He looks up, that far-away glaze to his eyes, but then he's back and he smiles at her as he nurses his hand.] Oh, thanks. What time is it?

[He takes the cup, holding the warmth against his aching hand and takes a breath. He'd been so deep in his concentration he didn't realize how tense he was making himself. He stands with a sore stretch and leans on the table.]

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[She smiles once she has his attention again. Poor Bruce, he works so hard.] Late. Very late.

[Betty slides into the chair next to him, pulling the paper of figures over and carefully deciphering where he left off.] ....this is brilliant. [It has to be said]

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Only if it works. [He shakes his head, picking up one of his earlier pages and proofing it for errors that might have carried into the following pages.]

I've had a lot of ideas...[He bites gently on his lip, trying not to let his past failures haunt him. Not tonight.] I'll help get a place to keep this so the General won't find it. We can't transfer it any of the computers.

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Of course. [Not much use if it didn't work, brilliant or not. Betty hoped this would be the breakthrough he was looking for.]

You should sleep, you've been working for five hours straight. [She looks up at him from the chair with a worried expression.]

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[He shakes his head, then takes a sip of the hot coffee.]

No, I can't stop now. If I don't get it all down before morning it'll be incomplete. I can send letters but I don't trust them not to go through your mail. If they find any of this they'll know what we're up to. They'll put a stop to it.

[He actually sounds worried about what extent they'd go to in order to keep Betty from 'destroying' that part of Bruce that General Ross wanted so badly.]

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[She nods, not liking the rush on it, but it couldn't be helped. She moves a lock of her hair back so it's not in the way, settling to write.] If you dictate, you can save your hand.

[At this point, she would think anything of her father. He seemed like he would stop at nothing.]

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[He flexes the sore appendage with a shy smile and then turns to look at the windows. All the shades are drawn tight, but that still doesn't mean he won't be nervous. He's turned all the lights so at least his shadow won't throw itself where a sniper might be able to catch him off-guard.

Even so, he moves over to a window to take a peek outside. He stays still, watching, and satisfied he comes back to Betty and leans on the desk across from her.]

Right, where were we?

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[That worried look is back, watching him. He was so paranoid all the time. She understood it, but it still pained her to see him like this.

Betty manages to wipe the worry from her face and smile reassuringly.]

X to the square root of the molecule's spin....the radiation coefficient after that?

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Okay, so, going by the data from the original experiment, we used about...how many units... [He closes his eyes and then pulls the figure from his head. He goes on for a bit, giving Betty opportunities to catch up to his mad rambling when he needs to reorganize his thoughts or look over the pages. He's not paying attention to the clock and eventually he's sitting down next to her, his hand recovered and scrawling alongside her.]

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[Betty keeps up, word for word as she writes, her small neat handwriting underneath his long scratched out words he was writing previously.

She keeps up as long as she can before he's back at it. Betty works on proofing some of the math while he continues. She stifles another yawn, reaching to sip his mug of coffee since hers is too far away.]

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[Fortunately he's looking for his coffee at the same time and looks up, surprised that it's gone. There's a moment where he nearly stops her, but then remembers she's kissed him, and didn't appear to suffer gamma poisoning.]

You should get some rest. I know you have work in the morning. [He smiles.] I won't leave without waking you up, first. [And then he regrets the words as soon as they leave him. He has to leave soon, but even if he was cornered, he'd still wake her up to make certain she'd know he was alright, and to see that she got away from him safely. Still, there's a sting to saying it out loud and there's instant apology in his face.]

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[At this rate, she'll gain an immunity in no time.]

[Her smile is sheepish up at him and his apology face.] It's alright, I'm not tired. [Despite the fact she's blinking a few more times than necessary.] It's only one night.

[This was more important than work. And...she didn't want to wake up and him be gone. Even if it was inevitable that was the way it was going to happen.]

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Alright. If you say so. [He sighs with a smile and then leans over, giving her a quick kiss on the forehead before donning his glasses again. He picks up a page, pursing his lips, feeling that almost pleasant tingle that he gets when he has an opportunity for silly little things like that. It's better than all the coffee in Java and he attacks the problem again with renewed vigor.]

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[Glad that he got his second wind....or third, it was hard to keep track...she falls in to continue checking his work behind him.

Fifteen minutes later, she's fast asleep, her head on an open textbook with a page of his scribbles under her. She tried Bruce, she really did.]

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[He just smiles when he realizes he's missing a page and then sees that she's out cold. He stays quiet but locates a clean lab coat and drapes it over her. He lets her sleep, the only sound in the lab the scratching of his pencil until another hour later, as the light grays and purples of dawn are starting to creep through the drawn shades, lighting the room.

He gathers the pages together, leaving a spot for the one she's sleeping on top of before stretching with a quiet groan. He hobbles over to the coffeemaker, trying to stretch out a little in case this morning turns eventful. He's stayed much longer than he should and will not have the cover of darkness to escape. He turns on the machine and then moves back over to Betty, watching her sleep. He leans over and gives her a gentle kiss on the forehead again, lingering this time as he sets a hand on her cheek.]

Betty?

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[Her eyes flicker open, sitting up abruptly when she feels his hand on her cheek] M'awake, where were we? [It's a half awake and automatic response as she tries to wake herself up. Then she realizes it's morning.]

Oh. [Oops.]

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G'morning. [He gives her a tired, but happy smile. He's reaching his limit as well, but just being around her keeps him going. He dreads the thought that this might be the last time for a while. He hopes it isn't, but even he can't predict that.]

Coffee?

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[She runs a hand through her messy hair, making it even messier.] Yes...sorry. [Betty tries to apologize for falling asleep. She can see he got a fair bit done while she was out.

He could have left without saying goodbye so in a way, she's relieved he woke her. Betty straightens a few things, closing the textbook and picking up pencil shavings to throw away. She checks her watch with a squeak sound, she'll have to shower quickly to be at work on time.]

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[He just laughs a little, she has nothing to apologize for and then retrieves her mug, filling it up.] Don't worry, I'll clean up. Go get ready for work. I'm going to stick around for a little longer before I leave.

[He figures he can leave after she goes to work. Anyone watching her would follow, leaving him with less chance of a direct meeting with a tranquilizer dart, or a gun. Light makes things more difficult, but he's done it before.]

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[Almost like they were a normal couple. Her leaving for work, him cleaning up...

Betty smiles giving him a thank you kiss on the cheek and hurrying off to jump in the shower. Soon, the water and her faint singing can be heard.]

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[Downstairs he just laughs to himself, cleaning everything up, finding a folder and tucking all his work into it and reorganizing her books back where they belonged.

He nearly walks into the kitchen, like he used to with the shade up and then freezes just outside the rays of sunlight spilling onto the kitchen floor. He looks up, glad Betty isn't there to see the depth of his paranoia as he carefully sneaks around and lowers the shade so he can do dishes with less worry about being easily spotted.

By the time she's out of the shower he has a meager breakfast thrown together. Her time's short so he's made toast, something she could have thrown together herself. Walking out with a full breakfast in hand might indicate someone was there.]

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[She's redressed, toweling her hair with a hair tie in her mouth as she comes to the kitchen. There's a smile at the breakfast, he was really endearing himself to her more and more all the time.

Betty removes the tie from her mouth to tie her hair back in a slightly damp ponytail. Cornering him with a hug around the waist] You're going to spoil me this way. I usually eat a poptart on the way.

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[He flinches a little from his exhaustion combined with nerves, but still smiles as he turns in her embrace so he can hug her.]

Mmm, I can make a poptart if you really want one. [He laughs into her hair.]

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[She probably smells like peaches from her shampoo. Betty laughs as well, shaking her head and unwilling to let him go yet.] No, toast will be fine. I can splurge for today.

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[It's heaven, no matter what it is. He stands there a moment, greedily drinking up her entire presence before smiling back at her with a look that seems truly happy. It feels odd, and he hopes it doesn't look too awkward.] It's going to be cold toast, at this rate.

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[She loves that smile when it crops up, which is rarely. Betty smiles back, reaching around him to grab a piece of said toast and ripping it in two, she pops one side in his mouth and the other in her own to chew on it.]

Mm, I got to grab my books. [She finally lets go, quickly gathering her things, putting them in a bookbag and mentally going over what she'll be teaching today] ...fluid dynamics applies to liquids as well as gases...

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Mmph. [He mocks surprise at the sudden toast but munches anyway. He leans in the doorway as she bustles about.]

Your Junior level text is on the second shelf, left side. [He smiles smugly. Leaving today was going to hurt more than usual. He never left after her, it was always in a hurry and often enough, with the military on his heels. He hopes the calm lasts until she's left. It would at least prove the General could learn to take measures to protect Betty, instead of sticking her in the middle of danger.]

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Thank you. [She grabs that last, putting the bag over her shoulder and grabbing her coat and cellphone off the charger.

And pausing.

Of course, this was goodbye, even if she didn't want to admit it. Betty walks back over, another hug around his middle.]

...I could call in sick? [It would raise too many flags, she couldn't do that. But it was an idea.]

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Heh, you could. [But his tone says exactly what she already knows, that while he'd like her to, it would draw too much attention. He takes a small breath and then abides his greed, holding her face gently in his hands and kissing her. He can barely bring himself to utter the words, but he just manages, his voice croaking.]

Bye, Betty.

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[Confound you, Bruce. She gets choked up trying to reply and just kisses him again.] Not the last time. Okay? [She could live with it if he came back someday. In fact, she's insisting on it. Even if they had to pretend.]

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Okay. [He purses his lips, biting back how much it kills him to think that it just might be the last time. He gives one last, quick kiss before loosening his grip so she can leave, and he gives her a parting smile.] Don't be late.

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[She looks relieved, even if he's lying, she doesn't care.] I won't.

[kiss]

Be safe.

[kiss]

I'm going.

[one more for the road, this was getting laughable but she needed a little silliness sometimes. Betty finally grabs the last of the toast, heading out the door before she can change her mind. Getting her car keys out as she climbs into the car.]

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Mmph. [Is all he can manage between her kisses and he tries not to smile too much, in laughter and at how happy the attention makes him.]

Bye. [He slides carefully away from the door when she leaves. He won't vacate the house for another hour, and when he does, it's blessedly without incident. Whatever stars or forces had to align, he's just thankful for a calm parting. The first he can remember since the accident.]

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[Betty is completely composed driving all the way to the campus.

It's only when she reaches the parking lot and turns off the car that it catches up with her. She tears up, dabbing her eyes with a few tissues and letting herself have a weak moment where no one can see.

He'll be alright, she keeps telling herself. It was just so hard. It always was.

Next time. She will hope for next time. Right now, she had a lecture to give.]

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[Cue the Lonely Man piano theme.]

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Elizabeth (Betty) Ross

April 2014

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