People start appearing around them and for the first time since Maria disappeared, she allows herself to be hopeful. Pepper grabs her arm tighter, needing someone to hold on to. It's like all those months ago when they were clinging onto each other's bodies with so much strength they left bruises. The pain, they thought but never said, tells me you are still here. Please don't disappear.
Natasha remembers the dust clinging to their clothes, skin, lips, the feeling of utter despair whenever they would lose contact for even just a second. Missing the same woman, the same love they still shared.
People are screaming and the cries of the past mix with the relief of the present. No sound crosses her own lips and her eyes wander restlessly over the crowd. Every strand of brown hair stops her heart just to let it start beating with disappointment a second later. Natasha can feel Pepper's breath hitch in sync with her own. Only two hearts, two breaths, two lovers. Standing in the same spot, wounds as fresh as on the first day, they wait.
The place changes. The waiting goes on forever.