Her fingers are tingling, she thinks in a disconnected way. Her fingers are tingling, her heart is racing, her ears are still ringing as the sirens blare past her on the street. She is more connected with her anger then what just happened.
She pushes herself to catch up to Ben without breaking into a run but when she can't, she resorts to shouting after him. He pauses in his step for half a second to glance at her and the attention she's drawn before carrying on.
She grits her teeth and hurries to make up the distance between them, ignoring the people who stopped to look at them. When they turn the block onto a less crowded street, she tries again. "Would you stop for a second?" she demands, anger biting in every syllable.
"We have to keep moving," he tells her, barely deigning to look over his shoulder.
Shaking her head, she stops, steady. "No, you have to keep moving. Big difference."
He finally stops, pivots to face her and her stubbornness, and sets his jaw. "Sam. We have to keep moving."
She tilts her chin up, defiant. "Why?"
He closes the space between them until he's inches from her face and points behind her. "That is not over. You think they blow the place and leave? They are trained operatives Sam. They will keep coming until we're dead."
She tenses to hide her shake. This is a movie plot, not her life and she refuses to just go with it. "Why the hell would they want me dead Ben? Why do they want to kill you for that matter? What the hell have you done that's pissed them off so much?"
He closes his eyes and sighs through his nose. "This is not the place to have this conversation," he tells her, grabbing her hand and pulling her along.
She digs in her heels, glaring. "Damn it Ben!"
"Sam, please " His words end when he looks past her and his face hardens. She catches a glimpse of the same couple from the restaurant before Ben pulls her into the narrow alley and doesn't stop until they reach a building two blocks back and over. She'd yell at him again but she's preoccupied with trying to get her heart to stay in her chest because it's fast, too fast, and she thinks maybe she might be panicking just a bit. The air is thin as she gasps it down and her fingers are trembling and her knees don't want to support her anymore and oh my God there was an explosion and someone wants her dead and she knows nothing about the man beside her apparently because all he tells is lies but his hands are steady on her shoulders and his voice is calm.
"Breathe in and out Sammy. Nice and slow." His own breathing is a perfect example of his suggestion and she follows it thoughtlessly, wide-eyed, because focusing on this simple act is so much easier than focusing on everything else. "You're going to be alright," he tells her firmly right before the rat-tat-tat of bullets hitting pavement echoes around them and they're running again.
The water tattoos comfort against her skin as she sits in the tub, waiting for the world to reassert itself and make sense. She scrubs her hands over her face and wills herself to stand up, to go out and face him and to get the answers she wants. She sighs, resting her head against the wall; sitting here forever seems easier.
There's a knock on the door. "Sam?"
"I'll be out in a minute," she answers, turning off the water. She takes her time to dry off and dress, to squeeze the water out of her hair and twist it into a braid, to steel her nerves. She's not sure she wants to deal with this but she will.
She stares at him when she reaches the end of the hall. His back is turned to her and she can hear the clatter of a spoon as he stirs something but the only thing that really registers is the streak of red on the sleeve of his white shirt. She blinks, swallows hard, pulls her hands into fists because her automatic reaction is to go to him but she can't, not after everything, not until she can trust him again. Instead she turns back around and digs out the first aid kit from under the bathroom sink. When she sets it on the island, he's facing her, cautious smile on his lips and a mug of something in each hand.
"Is it bad?" she wonders, gesturing to his arm, and he shakes his head, pushing a mug toward her.
"It's just a graze. Drink this."
She looks down at the drink, asks: "What is it?"
He doesn't seem all that surprised by her sudden questioning of simple things, just answers: "Tea." When she doesn't take the mug in hand, he pulls it back and pointedly meets her gaze as he takes a drink from it before sliding it across the counter back to her. "It's just tea. Promise."
Reluctantly, she wraps her numbed fingers around the glass but doesn't take a sip just the same. "You should take care of that," she says, eyes continually drawn to the red of his sleeve.
He makes a sound of agreement, unbuttons his shirt to reveal the tank top underneath, and Sam promptly moves the few feet into her living room. She sits cross-legged on the couch and tries not to hear what Ben's doing in the kitchen but every sound is invasive in her silent apartment. She wishes she had something to do and almost misses the running-for-your-life from earlier.
The couch dips on the opposite side and she glances at him sidelong through her bangs. There's a white bandage on his bare bicep and her gaze follows the lean lines of his arm quietly.
"You had questions," he states suddenly and she looks at him straight on, eyes wide, before she looks away, shaking her head.
"I don't want to talk about it."
"It's better to get it over with," he counsels.
Her lips twist into a frown. "Funny," she mutters to her mug. "You didn't seem to feel that way when we met."
His sigh fills the room. "I didn't know you'd be important to me when I met you Sammy." She doesn't speak and he continues: "Besides I don't think my last job is all that important."
She whips around to stare at him. "You were a spy Ben. How is that not important?"
"You're thinking about it the wrong way Sam. It wasn't like the movies," he tells her. "It wasn't jetting around the world, getting the girl and having an epic showdown with the bad guy. Sure, I had that kind of training but I sat behind a desk. Everything you know about me is still true."
She searches his eyes, for the lie, for the truth, she doesn't know which anymore. She puts her doubts aside and puts forth a question. "Why were those people trying to kill us then, if you just sat behind a desk?"
"I don't know," is his reply and her frustration builds. "I can find out though."
"Good." She stands, regards him. "I'm going to bed. It's time for you to leave."
His eyes drop from hers and she knows she won't like what he says next. "I'm not leaving Sam."
"Why not?" she demands. "Because they know where you live?" she suggests with a harsh laugh.
"Probably," he counters softly. "But it's because I need to know you're safe."
She doesn't say anything in turn but rinses her mug out in the kitchen and then opens the hallway closet, returning to the couch with an armful of linens and a pillow. She drops them where she'd been sitting.
"There's a spare toothbrush under the bathroom counter," she informs him and then disappears down the hall into her room, the door closing behind her with a firm snap.
She wakes in the morning to the buzzing of her alarm clock and the normalcy is jarring. She has spent the night restless, unable to shut her brain down, to stop thinking about the day for hours at a time. She is a wreck but so help her, she'll go to work and drink in all the normalcy she can because she has a feeling it won't last.
She creeps quietly down the hall but the apartment is silent and she frowns. The couch is neatly made up and on the kitchen island sits a vase of yellow tulips and a cup from a nearby coffee shop, looking as though they've always been there. She fights the upward twitch of her lips at their cheerful presence and reads the note beneath the flowers.
"I'm sorry," it says simply but she notices there's writing on the back and flips the card over. "It's just coffee. Promise."