A/N: Sorry, this took a little longer than I thought it would. I recently got swamped with a ton of work, and I pretty much broke one of my fingers in basketball. You can imagine how hard that makes writing. But enough complaining! Enjoy, faithful readers. :)
Disclaimer: I'm just writing this for fun. I don't own anything, sadly.
A New Addition
"Clint, I swear, if you drop one more thing on me from those freaking vents, I will kill you and make it look like an accident!" Bruce hears Tony shriek from the kitchen. Bruce walks in and tries to keep his amusement off his face when he sees Tony drenched in what he hopes is a safe liquid. Although, Bruce thinks wryly, it wouldn't be the first time something that made you itch for a week was put either intentionally or not on someone in the tower. Not with people like Tony and Clint around.
Bruce smothers his smile as he hears Clint's cackles from the vents above as Clint shuffles away. Tony turns to Bruce pleadingly. "Can't you give me, like, a humongous sedative to put him down for just a couple seconds? Please?"
Bruce holds his hands up in surrender. Last time he had gotten in the middle of one of their wars, he'd been on the receiving end of too many "get even" plans. He says as much to Tony.
"But aren't we supposed to be Science Bros or something?" Tony whines.
"I have a hard time believing that this man is a genius," Steve says as he enters the kitchen, plucking a banana from its cluster. He had gotten better with the whole teasing thing after he realized that that sort of thing was the norm; in Avengers Tower, it was how you showed affection, apparently.
After the Battle of New York, things had been tense between everyone. In fact, when everyone decided it'd be good if they all moved into the same tower to show the world that yes, they were a united team with no problems whatsoever, Bruce was sure the tower was going to implode in a matter of days. It had been everyone's surprise when they had started clicking and understanding each other. Of course, it helped when they saved each other's lives on a daily basis. Their job kind of required them to be close, even if they didn't want to.
Yes, they still fought. Yes, they still got mad each other for what they later realized were stupid reasons, but they were a team. And, more importantly, they were beginning to become a family. A family that watched out for each other and was there for each other when needed. Bruce had the feeling that one day, they would be really close. They were about three-quarters there, anyway. They could be the family that almost everyone on the team had never had. It was both terrifying letting someone get that close to you willingly and relieving that someone else had your back. They weren't alone.
"You wound me," Tony says, clutching his chest dramatically. Bruce thinks it would be more effective if that Mysterious Liquid wasn't dripping its way into his eyes.
"Tony, you really need to go clean up before you contaminate the tower with God knows what," Natasha informs Tony, her eyes sparkling with humor as she sashays to the table to sit, her usual grace making itself known.
Tony groans long-sufferingly and stomps his way out of the kitchen like a petulant child, snatching the tail end of Steve's banana on the way out. Steve sighs resignedly, obviously used to the amount of stealing and good-natured corruptiveness in this tower.
"What's on the agenda for today?" Bruce asks.
Thor walks into the room wearing a shirt that is supposed to be baggy that somehow manages to hug his skin like spandex. Bruce huffs. One of these days, they'll find a shirt that is big enough to actually fit the thunder god. "We have an agenda?" Thor asks confused.
"It's a figure of speech," Clint explains as he drops down from a vent, dusting himself off. He places the cover back on carefully. "Bruce is just asking what we're going to do today."
Thor's face clears, and he nods, no doubt chocking it up to funny little mortals and their funny little habits. He walks over to the cabinet and pulls out a s'mores flavored box of pop tarts. He fumbles with the toaster for a moment before finally adjusting it to a setting that won't burn his pop tart to a crisp. Which Bruce can unfortunately say has happened before. Several times, in fact.
Tony saunters back into the kitchen and leans against the counter, glaring at Clint. "What even was that?"
Clint grins. "My own personal concoction," he says vaguely.
"What are we doing today?" Bruce repeats, tactfully steering the conversation away from something that might develop into yet another Prank War.
Steve shrugs. "I don't know. It's not like we have a meeting today or anything."
"Fury doesn't want us to do something?" Natasha asks, eyebrows raised. "That's a first."
"I think I'll go for a walk, and we can do something later tonight," Bruce suggests. Thor's pop tart springs up, scaring him like it does all the time. Thor recovers quickly, though, and is soon gulping down his pop tarts in no time.
"We can watch a movie or something," Tony agrees easily. It was one of the Avengers' favorite things to do to wind down. "Hey, Thor, you wanna come charge up my suits?"
Bruce exits the kitchen to Steve's exasperated face and Natasha's scolding that no, Tony, you can't keep charging your suits on the roof via thunder god because one day people will see and then what do you think Fury would say?
Bruce smiles fondly. His team is crazy, but he wouldn't have it any other way.
It's a good thing Bruce goes on a walk, in the end, because it's beautiful outside. It's been a while since Bruce has gotten some time to himself that wasn't inside the tower between Tony's stunts in the lab and the missions Fury sends them on. Bruce sighs in contentment. He could get used to this. The sun shining brightly, the birds chirping cheerily, the smell of fresh air, and the practically glowing green grass. It is peaceful, and no one's bothering him, for once.
"Excuse me, sir, do you have a moment?"
Bruce closes his eyes for a moment, counting to ten mentally to gather his patience. Of course he had to go and jinx himself. So much for no one bothering him.
"Yes?" he asks politely as he turns around. He frowns as he observes this guy for a moment. He's learned to be really good at remembering faces, and Bruce is sure he's never seen him before. The guy has on Bermuda shorts and a Hawaiian print shirt. His twinkling sea green eyes crinkle at the edges, and his skin is tanned, like he spends a lot of time out in the sun. He has salt and pepper hair and a beard. He looks like a nice guy. There is something about him that was weird that Bruce can't put his finger on, though. Maybe it's the unassuming aura of power around him?
"Sorry to bother you, but I need to talk to you," the man says.
Bruce blinks in surprise. "Uh, do I know you?" He pushes his glasses further up his nose, a nervous habit he's developed over the years.
"No." The man seems to think this is funny from the way the laugh lines around his eyes scrunch up. "But I really do have to talk to you about something important, Bruce."
Bruce feels a chill go up his spine and automatically starts thinking about potential places to run to if things get serious. He doesn't want to Hulk out right now. "How do you know my name?"
"Walk with me," the man invites. Somehow, it doesn't seem like a suggestion, but a command. Bruce falls into step next to him.
"I came to give you a warning," he says amiably, like he's talking about the weather. "Things are going to be getting quite crazy soon, and I thought you should have a head's up for a change."
"What?" Bruce asks intelligently.
"I can't tell you much, unfortunately. But I can give you a few tips and hints." He smiles warmly, and it reminds Bruce of a warm summer's day on the beach. It doesn't help that he can smell the beach right now. Bruce shakes his head slightly so he can concentrate on what this guy is saying. "I advise you to trust your new member that you'll be getting soon. He's more than meets the eye, as the saying goes."
"New member?" Bruce repeats dumbly. "We aren't getting a new member." Bruce mentally berates himself. Are you sure you're a doctor? he asks himself, rolling his eyes internally. What would his professors have said?
The man nods. "Even your director doesn't know this yet, but he will soon. Like I said, you can trust him. He is extremely loyal and has a very strong moral compass. I have a feeling you and your team will like him. He will help you save the world. It will be a mutual help-help thing. You both give a little something of yourselves," he informs Bruce.
"It took a while for us to get used to each other," Bruce finds himself saying. "We aren't very good with being close to new people."
The man laughs. "Believe me, he manages to worm his way into your heart whether you want him or not. I can honestly say I've never met anyone like him before."
"What sort of trouble did you mean?" Bruce asks, remembering that sentence from earlier. "You said trouble earlier. And how are we supposed to help him?"
The man stops walking, and Bruce does the same. Bruce frowns in confusion when he hears thunder. There isn't a cloud in the sky, and he has a funny feeling that it wasn't Thor this time. Bruce hears the guy sigh. "That's my cue," he tells Bruce ruefully. "It's time for me to leave. Have a good day."
"Wait," Bruce says suddenly. The man, surprisingly, does for a moment. "Who is this new member?"
The man smiles. "My son." Then, he disappears.
Bruce's mouth drops down in shock as the man just vanishes. Bruce shakes his head. "I refuse to be surprised by this," he says to himself with conviction as he starts toward the tower on reflex. "I refuse to be surprised by this, I refuse."
Bruce mutters a curse in Arabic. He so totally didn't see this coming.
"Guys," Bruce calls when he enters the Avengers' Floor. "Guys, you wouldn't believe what happened when I went for a simple walk."
Tony pokes his head into the living room where Bruce is, his hair disheveled from running his fingers through it. "Please, please, tell me some random guy who looked like he was from Hawaii didn't come up and tell you to trust his kid who's going to help us save the world," Tony pleads, like it's his last lifeline.
"You, too, huh?" Bruce asks sympathetically.
"How did he just vanish?" Tony mutters, walking to his normal spot on the couch and dropping onto it heavily. The others pile into the living room and take their usual seats.
"So, we all came into contact with the same guy, on the same subject matter, on the same day, around the same time," Steve says. "Any revelations, guys?"
"Do you think he was telling the truth?" Tony asks.
"Yes," Natasha says, confident that she's right. Bruce doesn't doubt her. "I could tell that he was either saying the truth or what he believed was the truth."
"And since he didn't look gullible or stupid," Clint chimes in, "we think it's the former."
"What do you think he meant by we would help each other?" Steve asks. "How could we help him?"
"Your guess is as good as mine, Cap," Tony says, sinking lower into the cushions, deeper into thought.
Bruce nods in agreement and notices out of the corner of his eye that Thor is acting strangely quiet. "What do you think, Thor?" he asks.
Thor starts and looks up almost guiltily. "I beg your pardon?"
"What do you think this is?" Bruce says again.
"Ah," Thor says, looking uncomfortable. "I do not know." Bruce and the others might have believed him if he hadn't said it like a question. Plus, Thor's as easy to read as a book most times.
"Thor," Steve hedges.
Thor sighs. "I cannot tell you. It is forbidden of me. However, things will come to light within the week, I predict."
Clint squints at Thor. "What do you mean it's forbidden?"
"I can say no more, even if I wish I may," Thor says. Bruce feels bad for the poor guy. He looks genuinely distraught that he can't tell the team something.
"That's all right, big guy," Tony says, no doubt picking up on Thor being upset and sitting up straighter. "We'll just have to be patient for our apparently new teammate."
Thor brightens after that, and they decide to watch some action movie Natasha and Clint pick out.
Sure enough, in a week, things speed up considerably.
"Tony! Come on!" Natasha shouts. "Get in the meeting room!"
"Yes, ma'am!" Tony calls back cheekily.
Bruce feels a little…apprehensive. He isn't sure what to expect of his new teammate. He just really hopes he isn't a jerk or an annoying kid. The Other Guy doesn't handle jerks or annoying people too well.
Tony finally walks into the formal meeting room where they almost never go. Bruce isn't exactly sure why they chose this room, of all places, to meet their newest addition to the Avengers. He thinks it's because Fury just wants to intimidate the poor guy. Fury glances at his watch. "He should be arriving any second now. Be prepared."
When the kid pops into thin air in front of them, Bruce couldn't be more surprised. He has messy black hair and bright sea green eyes and tanned skin just like his father. Which they later learn is Poseidon. Bruce tries not to think about that very much. He knows enough gods to last him a lifetime, thanks. The kid couldn't have been more than eighteen, nineteen. His eyes dance around nervously, and Bruce takes the time to study him for a few moments.
The kid doesn't look like a jerk or bratty or annoying. He could have been a normal teenager. Except Bruce noticed something weird. The kid's eyes dart around like he's scanning for exits and making plans almost instinctively. His body isn't frail by any means, but it seems like it's been through trauma. A good deal of trauma. His body is fully healed, but sometimes a hand strays to a part of his body where Bruce guesses he got injured once. Bruce doesn't think the kid realizes he does it at all. The kid meets his eyes, and in that moment, Bruce feels himself empathize with him. His eyes look old, pained, if you look close enough. Like he's seen things no kid should ever have to see, especially at his age. It looks like the team's found yet another kindred spirit.
When the teenager doesn't flip after he learns Bruce is the Hulk and instead blows it off with a joke, Bruce knows he wants to keep him. And he can tell from his fiercely protective teammates that they start warming to the kid almost immediately after he says that.
Percy Jackson tells them his story, or a very short, summarized version, and then they eat pizza when it arrives at the tower. He tells them a little more about himself at Tony's wheedling, and Bruce can't help but be really impressed by what Percy's accomplished at a young age. After it all, Percy leaves to go to bed, and the team immediately gathers for an impromptu meeting.
"I like him," Tony says.
Bruce nods. "I second that."
"I think we all like him," Natasha says. "He doesn't brag, and he's just as adorably awkward as a normal teenager without all the usual drama and tediousness."
"Yeah, poor kid's been through a lot," Clint says. "I think he'll be a good asset to the team. And not just for his fighting skills."
"Agreed," Tony says.
"I also am in agreement," Thor says. "I truly think we will all grow to like him a great deal."
"Definitely," Steve yawns. "I'm going to bed now. Big day tomorrow, kind of. 'Night guys."
They all say their goodnights to each other and go to their separate bedrooms. Bruce slips into his bed and thinks of his new neighbor next door. He smiles. He has a really good feeling about the kid.
Bruce certainly can't complain about being bored for the next days to come. Of that, he can be sure.
A/N: Yeah, so this isn't exactly a prompt, but I really wanted to do this as a kind of prelude to everything. Next chapter starts the prompts! Remember, the prompt box is still open! I'm not sure when I'll close it, but I'll give you a head's up of a few days. This won't have regular updates until school slows down and my finger isn't the size of a sausage, however. I won't abandon it, though. Promise. Let me know what you thought!