A/N: Okay. So. Anyone reading this has probably seen The Avengers - at least I hope so. If not, be warned for spoilers ahead. And anyone who has seen The Avengers knows that fanfiction for it is not only inevitable but 100% necessary. This is my first attempt at writing for this fandom or these characters EVER, so any concrit, especially in the area of OOCness, is craved.
Warnings for spoilers and plotlessness. It's just Tony and Bruce being science-bros and having random conversation. Takes place approximately one year after the film ends.
Bruce Banner didn't look up, his attention fixed on the microscope and samples that rested on the spindly wooden table before him. "¿Si, Marco? ¿Que es?"
"You have a visitor, señor."
"A visitor?" He looked up with a frown. "Who is it, a patient?"
"No, señor. It is an American. He says his name is-"
"Stark," a voice interrupted, waifing up the stairs behind Marco. "He said his name is Tony Stark and he's coming in now."
The doctor blinked in incredulous surprise as the voice was followed up by a dark haired man who bounded up the stairs and entered the room, waltzing past a very frazzled Marco and stopping mid-floor with a sweeping 'ta-da' motion.
"Stark?" Bruce stammered, laughing a little and staring at the other man as though he had two heads. Of all the people he had expected, Tony Stark was definitely one of the last.
"The one and only," Tony grinned.
"What are you doing here?" the surprised scientist asked, not rudely but out of serious bewilderment.
"Do you know how hard it is to find you?" Tony asked, ignoring the question to instead point an accusatory finger in Bruce direction and grace him with a scolding frown. "Better question, do you know how long it takes to reach you once I have found you? I literally had to fly to Buenos Aires and then take two jeeps and a burro to get out here. I get the need for solitude, big guy, but come on. This is a little much don't you think?"
Bruce gave a lopsided grin and shrugged. "Yeah, well. Less out here to break, y'know?"
"More like nothing to break, nothing to do, nothing to see but trees and mosquitos - how have you survived out here, anyway? No women, no telephone, no toys. Do you even have electricity?"
Bruce rolled his eyes, not bothering to grace Tony's sarcasm with an answer. The two men stared at each other and there was a moment of awkward silence before Tony smirked, his eyes glinting mischievously. "You don't look very happy to see me."
"What? No, it's not like that," Bruce answered with another shrug. "I just didn't expect to see you out here. I mean, a S.H.I.E.L.D agent maybe, but this isn't exactly your side of the tracks, after all."
"Well of course you didn't expect me. That would have ruined my surprise entrance," Tony replied airily.
"Surprises aren't usually a good thing when it comes to me, remember?"
"Yeah, well, I was actually kind of hoping that you'd go all rage-monster on me, maybe smash in a wall or tear down a tree or ten. You really let me down."
Bruce snorted. "Sorry to disappoint. I'll try harder next time."
Shaking his head, Bruce stared at the other man for several long seconds, pleased at the his presence and yet finding himself more than a little suspicious about it. "What're you doing here, Tony?" he asked again.
The billionaire played innocent. "What, I can't just pop in for a visit with my favorite fellow genius?"
"You could. But somehow I get the feeling you didn't fly, jeep, and ride a burro out to my remote shack in Argentina just to talk science with me."
"Well see, that's where you'd be wrong. No, actually, you're right. I really flew all the way out to here to your... very lovely, very, very remote shack in Argentina for the sole purpose of kidnapping you and dragging you back to the new Avengers HQ so we can talk science there."
Bruce laughed and turned back to the table with a shake of his head. "Good luck. I told you before, Tony, I don't go to New York."
"Yeah, yeah, I know, the last time you were there you broke Harlem."
"Actually the last time I was there we destroyed half of Manhattan."
"Uh, technically we had help with that," Tony reminded, "And to be honest those alien guys did most of the destroying. So your argument is pretty much invalid."
"Well, valid or not I'm still not coming back to Manhattan with you."
With a sigh Tony feigned intense disappointment, slumping his shoulders in a comical manner. "Fine," he said quickly, perking right back up again. "I'll just stay here and chat it up, then."
"Suit yourself," Bruce said with a shrug.
"Always," Tony replied, leaving Bruce to shake his head with a chuckle.
Grinning smugly Tony looked around, occasionally peeking over Bruce shoulder with only minimal interest in the other man's work. "Cap and Thor said hello, by the way. Thor wants to know when you're going to come around. He's actually kind of annoying about it. I had to convince him not to zap himself out here to pester you."
"Oh, you mean pester me like you're doing?" Bruce asked, with a grin to show that he was - mostly - joking.
"I'm not pestering. I'm conversing."
Bruce shook his head again and looked back down. "How long has Thor been back?"
"A few months now. Apparently the Tesseract allowed his daddy-dearest to rebuild the magic rainbow bridge, so he can come and go whenever he wants.(1)"
After that they both fell silent for a while, Bruce attending to his work and Tony wandering around the top floor of the hut in casual boredom, peeking down the rickety stairway on occasion without any purpose. Bruce allowed him to wander for a while before looking up again. "So, you ready to tell me what you're really doing here, or are you just going to keep wandering around staring at my non-existent stuff?"
"I told you, I came to talk science," Tony said. Then, after receiving Bruce's clearly expressed I-don't-believe-you look, he shrugged. "Plus, you know, it's been like, what, a year? since anyone's heard from you. I was in the area so I figured I'd drop by, make sure you haven't completely Hulked out on us or anything."
Bruce smirked laughingly. "You'd probably have heard by now if I'd 'Hulked out', don't you think?" he asked. "Sorry, though. I get busy, and... I just didn't think there was any reason to call."
"Other than to make sure I get some halfway intelligent conversation now and then, you mean?" Tony asked. "Trust me, my reasons for being here are completely selfish. You're one of the only people I know who I can talk lab-chat with without feeling my IQ drop at least ten points."
Bruce laughed again and Tony grinned cheekily before looking around. "So you got anything to drink around here or what?"
"Err, no. The, uh, the other guy doesn't really like alcohol too much."
"Ah. And therein lies the real curse of your condition," Tony said mournfully. "Oh well, I'm sure we can find something else to do to make this reunion more exciting." Leaning against an old desk, one of the few pieces of furniture aside from the bed and the table which Bruce already occupied, he crossed his arms. "What are you working on? Anything good?"
"Mm... just medical slides. One of the smaller towns down near the river had an outbreak of some fairly serious food and water poisonings a while back. I've been trying to figure out where it's coming from."
"Sounds fascinating," Tony said distractedly, and it was hard to tell if he was being sarcastic or just wasn't paying all that much attention. Bruce could hear him move up from the desk and open one of the drawers. He stifled any annoyance, reminding himself that this was Tony. If there was one thing he'd learned in the few short days they'd spent in the S.H.I.E.L.D labs together, it was that they playboy wasn't much good at standing still. He had to have something in his hands to mess or fiddle with at all times. "Any leads?" Tony went on, and Bruce sighed.
"No, not really. There are toxins in the water but it seems to just be a natural sort of spillage. The villagers say this happens every few years or so, so there probably isn't anything to do but figure out some way to counteract it. Regular antibiotics work alright, but there's always something more I can do."
"Well, you know if you ever need anything you can call. Stark Pharmaceuticals is always willing to help out in researching for good causes. So if you run out of meds or anything you have my number."
"Thanks, that's generous of you," Bruce said, completely sincere. "It does get a little tight out here sometimes. The shipments don't always make it out in one piece, or in time to do any good."
"Well I think I could probably personally guarantee your supplies get out here in decent time. And by the way, that goes for anything," Tony continued. "Like booze. I know the 'other guy' doesn't like it, but seriously, it probably wouldn't hurt either of you if you loosened up a bit."
"Normal people get 'loosened up', Tony," Bruce answered, turning to lean against the wooden table and looking across the small room at the other man. "I just turn green."
"Okay then, no booze," Tony conceded. He went to poking through one of the half-opened drawers again, flicking papers aside and skimming over some of Bruce's random algorithm notes, the ones he worked on when it was late and the 'other guy' just wouldn't let him sleep. "But any thing else," he went on. "Seriously, anything you need."
"Thanks, Tony. That's sweet," Bruce joked, turning back to pack his slides away.
"Well, I try," Tony said with false humility. "After all-"
When Tony didn't continue Bruce looked up with a frown, turning to glance across the room and catching the blank, startled look on the other man's face. He was staring into the open drawer, eyes locked downwards. Bruce's frown deepened. "Tony?"
The billionaire's jaw clenched once before he glanced up, reaching into the drawer and lifting a handheld object that Bruce immediately recognized. Tony's face went from startled to calm and curious as he looked at Bruce, deceptively relaxed as he leaned against the desk again. He was silent for a moment, hefting the gun in his hand almost contemplatively before looking at Bruce again. Something passed between the two, a moment of memory, a confession made back in a lab just over a year ago, back when they'd first met.
"You, uh- keeping this around for protection?"
Bruce's eyes flitted to the gun and stayed for a moment before looking up to meet Tony's. "You wanna know the truth?"
"Well, yeah, that's always preferable," the billionaire replied in a tone of light sarcasm, not cruel, but covering a layer of concern that he refused to show outright.
"No, it's not for protection." An obvious answer - they'd both know that already. "I don't use it, though," he added. " For anything. It wouldn't even do any good if I did. Sometimes it just nice to know it's there, you know? Like... it's an option, even if it really isn't. But I don't use it. I haven't, not since the first time. To be honest I'd half forgotten it was even in there. So... you know." He sighed. "I'm not that desperate, Tony. It's just there because I haven't gotten up the guts to give it up yet."
There was a long moment of silence that was so heavy it was almost palpable. Just when Bruce thought the hut might implode with the weight of it, Tony shrugged. "Okay."
"Okay?" Bruce blinked. Okay? What was that supposed to mean.
"Yeah, okay," Tony nodded, placing the gun back in the drawer and sliding it closed. "Look, as long as you're not planning on trying anything stupid that would result in my having to save the world with no one but the the old guy, the demigod, and the two assassins, then it's all good." He grinned cheerfully, shoving off the desk and clapping a startled Bruce on the shoulder before leaning over to look at some of the still exposed slides.
"Uhm... okay then," Bruce said, a little hesitant as if he wasn't sure whether or not Tony was serious.
Tony hummed in purposeful distraction as he peered into the microscope with apparent interest. Silence settled over the room again until it was shattered, several minutes later, by a ringing from playboy's back pocket. "Ah, and that would be Miss Potts," he said, turning from the table and answering the call with a flourish. "You've reached the phone of world class genius and all around perfect man Tony Stark, how may I help you today?"
Bruce rolled his eyes and turned his back on the conversation, quickly putting away the rest of the specimen slides. By the time Tony had finished the call he had done and everything was packed away.
"Well, it seems that I have overstayed my leave of absence," the playboy said as he ended the call. "My boss wants me back at the airport."
The doctor laughed. "I thought you were the boss."
"You haven't had a girlfriend in a while, have you?" Tony quipped.
"It's been a while," Bruce agreed, a little solemnly. "But I remember."
Tony paused with a look of real sympathy, clapping a hand on Bruce's shoulder again. He stared, almost searchingly, at the other man, eyes flickering to the desk drawer again before seeming to accept that Bruce meant what he said before.
After a moment he turned and walked to the stairs, followed after a moment by the other man. At the door the billionaire stopped, reaching into his pocket and pulling out a small, sleek, silver item. "Here," he said, passing it to Bruce, who looked it over. "It's a comm.-unit, directly linked to every member of the team. We all have one, so if you need anything or if you run into trouble just call and we'll all get the message."
"Wow," Bruce asked, glancing up, "This kind of makes it official, huh? As if our saving the world didn't already do that." He looked the item over. "So what's the signal for 'help'? 'Avengers Assemble'?"
Tony blinked at him and Bruce shook his head, laughing at himself. "Sorry, that was really bad."
"No," Tony said thoughtfully. "Actually that sounded pretty cool, in a totally ridiculous sort of way. Avengers Assemble... hm..."
"No, come on, Tony. Don't do anything stupid. I was kidding."
The other man just grinned and winked mischievously and Bruce groaned. With a sigh he looked down at the comm-link in his hand again. "You think we'll need this?"
Tony turned serious. "Don't you?"
"I keep hoping we won't. Wouldn't you prefer to not fight aliens again?"
"Eh, I don't know. I thought it was kind of fun."
Bruce rolled his eyes - why is it that he only did that when this guy was around? - and Tony smirked. "If it makes you feel better it's just a precaution. This way we can get a hold of you without S.H.I.E.L.D having to send someone to 'ask nicely' again, alright?"
"Yeah, alright," Bruce nodded.
"Great," Tony said brightly before heading out the door into the muggy Argentinean evening. Bruce followed him as far as the waiting jeep - he knew the playboy had been lying about the burro.
"One of these days I am going to drag you to the new Avengers headquarters, you know," Tony said as he climbed behind the wheel of the waiting vehicle.
"I'll make you a deal," Bruce said. "You figure out how to make New York smash-proof and one of these days I'll drop by."
"Ooooh, a challenge. Promise you'll come?"
"Cross my heart."
Tony nodded. "Then you're on."
Bruce gave a lopsided smile. "Good luck. I'm sure the city will thank you."
"You know, I could just bring about another alien invasion. That'd get you there."
"I doubt the city would thank you for that one."
"They'd get over it," Tony said with a shrug as he started the jeep. "Don't forget to call about those supplies," he reminded.
Bruce nodded. "I won't."
"Good. See you around, Banner."
"See you, Stark."
With a low rumble the jeep backed out of the tiny yard and Tony spend away, going more than just a little too fast for the unpaved dirt roads that led away from the hut. Bruce watched him leave before turning to go back inside. As he closed the door behind him he once more examined the small silver comm. unit, noticing the sleek "A" insignia that covered the back.
"Avengers Assemble, huh?" he muttered to himself as he headed back up the stairs. "Good one, Banner. He's never going to let you live that one down."
Then again, it was kind of catchy. And didn't all heroes and teams have some sort of battle cry or catchphrase? Maybe it wouldn't end up as a bad thing after all.
(1) - I don't know if this would actually work, but it sounded good to me!
Also, I know that in the movie Bruce didn't live in Argentina. I moved him there post-movie because of reasons.
Personally I'm torn between love and hate when it comes to this fic... review and let me know what you think?