Swallowing thickly, he attempted to keep a handle on the raw emotion that was taking him over by storm. She was even more gorgeous than he remembered. The way her fingers brushed over him once more sent a pleasant chill coursing down his spine.
When she admitted to having searched for him, he felt more than a slight pang of guilt. After leaving Bella Coola, he’d fallen out of touch with her in the hopes of keeping her safe. It wasn’t fair to her, but it was easier to do that than it was to try and argue with her. She would have tried to convince him to just come back, or that they’d run together, and with the Other Guy, he just couldn’t risk it. Not to mention General Ross’ nasty habit of getting her hurt whenever Bruce was around.
Even so, he still felt guilty for leaving her hanging. A part of him had hoped that she’d move on, like she had been trying to the last time he’d dropped off of the face of the Earth. But after everything that had happened, that may have been asking for too much. After all, as was mentioned in a book he’d read recently, not everyone has the emotional range of a teaspoon.
He reached up to his left shoulder and laid his right hand gently over hers while cupping her cheek in the other hand, brushing her cheekbone ever so gently with his thumb. He was at a loss for words.
Betty bit down hard on the inside of her lip, squeezing his shoulder softly before layering her hand over the one that cupped her cheek. She truly had never stopped looking. She even stayed in the city, in hopes that he’d come back and she’d be able to find him. And while she knew it was a vain hope, it was a hope nonetheless, and if she’d tried to go on without, there was no telling where she might be now. There wasn’t any moving on after that — she’d been plagued by a twinge of guilt after their previous reunion. Not only for feeling she’d wronged Bruce but because she’d never stopped caring about him, and..
She still felt guilty for Howard.
She gave a small shake of her head and dropped her shoulders slightly, letting her hand slip from his hand to his arm, grasping gently, blue hues never leaving his face, “I’m just.. It’s really you — I —” A smile pulled at her lips, then, a smile that peeked through a few tears that threatened to spill over, “I missed you.. So much.”
Bruce sat quietly for a long time, catching his breath, before finally backing away with a small sigh. He wiped his eyes and stared at the ground. “Uh. Thanks. Sorry, I-I’m sorry, I don’t know what came over me, it was just a bad dream. Sorry…” he said shakily.
Betty shook her head slightly, cupping his cheek and gently tilting his head up, “It’s okay, Bruce.. We’re all allowed to have bad dreams sometimes.. Even heroes.” A not-so-subtle reminder that, yes — that was what he was. And while he may not feel worthy she believed in him. More than anything. She offered a small smile before pressing her lips to his forehead in a tender gesture, heart tightening slightly, “You don’t have to be sorry..”
“I should have been there,” Bruce continued his litany of apologies. “I should have been there for you, I’m sorry, I wish I were better. I wish I were good enough, Betty…” He wrapped his arms tighter around her waist and shut his eyes, hiding in her warmth.
“Bruce don’t say that..” She murmured into his hair, not minding scooting herself closer to him, her hold on him squeezing gently, still tracing a comforting line up and down his spine. Adjusting her grasp Betty pulled him in closer, pinching her blue eyes shut and just holding him for a moment, “You’re good enough.. you’re more than good enough, I know that for a fact..” While there’s confidence in her tone she’s shaking underneath, but she stays strong like she always has. For him.
Reciprocating the embrace in full, Bruce sighed. It had been quite a long time since he was this close to anyone. He was still having a hard time believing she was even here. Stroking her hair, he pursed his lips, not knowing what to say, not knowing if he should say anything at all. He decided instead to just savor the moment and hold her tighter.
Betty pinched her blue eyes tight and squeezed, her breath hitching in her throat. That hand in her hair.. The way he smelled.. All of it was so familiar, so, so beyond any faded memory that she clung to. So, in response, she pulled him a little closer, trying to commit everything — the way his arms felt on her back, the comfort of just.. knowing he was there — to her memory. Just in case.. In case he had to go again. She’d fight him over it, insist it was okay to stay put because, hell, he was a hero and the whole world knew it now, but she knew Bruce. Knew he still didn’t feel.. Betty shook her head slightly, picking her head up from his shoulder, moving her hands to his shoulders, “Bruce I — I never stopped looking.. I couldn’t let myself..”