The jet was headed due west, as far away from South Africa as possible. With stealth mode activated, Clint was certain there was no way Ultron or the Wonder Twins could be tracking them. Nevertheless, he wanted to get out of the sky and off radar as soon as possible. He checked the gauges again to make sure they weren't being followed.
The silence in the cabin was deafening. Experiencing the mind control powers of Wanda Maximoff was too much for the team to deal with at the moment. The only sounds were the hum of the engines and Bruce's sharp, measured breathing. At this rate, they would reach Rio before anybody said anything.
After a few more minutes, Clint broke the silence.
"We need to figure out where we're going," he said quietly.
There was no response. He glanced around after a moment and looked at the faces of his companions. Every one of them was too busy reliving the visions Maximoff conjured to pay him any attention.
Clint sighed silently and turned back around. He knew only too well what they had just experienced, and was grateful that nobody had been taken over so completely as he had been by Loki. They deserved some time alone with their thoughts.
Off in his own corner, Bruce tried not to relive the past few hours, or days. As much as the others might thank him for turning into the other guy, Bruce never liked doing it. There was always a trail of destruction, and a trail of bodies, that was left in his wake. Thor could congratulate him all he liked, but Bruce knew he was never meant to be a warrior.
For a brief moment, Bruce allowed himself to reminisce about the days before the experiment went awry. He had such a good life then. He had his work, his friends, his family…
"I know where we can go," Bruce suddenly said, his words filling the air. The others were jarred out of their reveries by this unexpected outburst. He instantly regretted speaking.
What if they don't want to see me? Bruce thought. I wouldn't blame them; I'd be putting them in danger just by being there. It's best if we avoid them altogether. The farmhouse should be empty, though. It's too early in the year for them to be at the farm…
"So where am I heading?" Clint asked.
Though Clint kept his gaze forward, Bruce could feel the eyes of the others boring into his back as he walked up to stand behind the pilot's seat.
"Head to Ohio. There's a farm just outside of…" Bruce trailed off as he thought of his hometown.
At this Clint looked over his shoulder at Bruce's face. Something he saw made his brow furrow, but he didn't comment. Instead, he adjusted their course to head northwest.
"I know where you mean. We'll be there by morning," Clint replied.
As he returned to his corner, Bruce glanced up and caught Natasha's eye. Being his recruiter and a member of SHIELD, she also knew where it was there they were going. She raised an eyebrow at him, wordlessly asking if he was sure about this.
Bruce wasn't sure, not at all. So in response, he shrugged one shoulder and sat down. His head gently thudded against the metal wall as he leaned against it. If Natasha thought to question this decision, there was a reason behind it. After all, she had likely seen his family more recently than he had. So they are at the farmhouse, he thought to himself. What would they think about me showing up out of the blue? Alongside the rest of these people? Bruce moved a hand to set on his suddenly sour stomach.
Thinking about his family was one of the tricks he used to lower his heart rate and keep the other guy from coming out. This time, though, thinking about them made his heart beat a little too fast. The adrenaline being released into his bloodstream was building up, so Bruce closed his eyes and held his breath to calm down.
One, two, … He didn't want to change again. Five, six, seven, … Once a year used to be his limit, or rather his goal; now he was just trying to cut back to once a day. Sixteen, seventeen, … Being part of the Avengers made life both easier and harder all at the same time. Twenty-four, twenty-five, … On one hand, he had a team to work with, a lab to conduct any kind of research projects he wanted, and safeguards in place in case he unexpectedly turned green. Thirty-six, thirty-seven, … But the safeguards didn't work – Johannesburg proved that. They'd be cleaning up his mess for weeks. Forty-eight, forty-nine, … As for the team, there were times he just wanted to run off and be on his own. Fifty-four, fifty-five, … Alone was safer. For everyone. Fifty-nine, sixty.
After reaching sixty, Bruce swiftly let out the breath he had been holding through his nose. Then he slowly breathed in and repeated the process. Inhale, count to sixty, exhale. Inhale, count to sixty, exhale.
Within six hours, he would see his family again.