by: Akiko, Keeper of Sheep
Also Archived on Tumblr and AO3 under stop-the-fading
The first time Bruce became aware of Tony's blog had been something of an accident. He'd been Googling 'French press' after an interesting coffee debate that morning, and had stumbled upon a photo post he really wished he could erase from his memory.
The blog itself didn't surprise him, really; the pages of endless puns, half-naked women, and what the genius(-billionaire-playboy-philanthropist) liked to call 'car porn' which had a lot to do with specs and nothing to do with porn (so far as Bruce could see) were hardly out of character for Tony. Neither was the theme, which was 95% Tony's face and 5% Tony's name. Bruce supposed the world was just lucky none of it was Tony's ass.
"You should start a blog yourself," his teammate had said when Bruce had mentioned it, a suggestion that Bruce had shot down with a simple quirk of an eyebrow. "No, really," Tony had insisted, "it'd be a great way to keep up with each other. We can reblog each other's stuff to boost the notes count, start a shipping war, troll Cap's tag..." he'd trailed off when he received only a blank stare in response. "Kitten gifs," he'd tried tentatively, pouting a bit.
Bruce had merely shaken his head, not altogether certain he wanted to know what a 'kitten gif' was.
He'd found out two days later, when he'd received a link from Tony to a post on his blog featuring a little brown animated kitten turning into a very large green cat and the blinking caption 'HULK PURR'. He'd laughed a bit, not sure how well he liked the thought of people likening The Other Guy to a chubby feline, but he'd appreciated the humor of it anyway, tamping down the inevitable irritation delicately.
#join me, the tags read, #you know you want to #we can be tumblr bros #and live happily ever after in cyberspace #the ladies love bloggers #haven't you seen sherlock?
So Bruce sighed, rolled his eyes, and signed up, because it was that or endure months of nagging and dozens of links clogging his E-mail inbox. He pretended he wasn't being snarky when he chose a green theme, and spent a good hour or so reblogging all of Tony's favorite kitten gifs just to be annoying.
'HA,' Tony wrote in his Ask, 'I KNEW YOU'D CAVE. HAHAHAHAHA.'
'I thought the generally accepted term was "LOL". Also, fix your Caps Lock,' he replied.
It wasn't long after he'd joined Tumblr that Bruce had found the Hulk tag. He'd managed to scroll down a bit before he'd had to exit the tab entirely and check the online physics journals to calm himself, and he hadn't been back. Tony would post and reblog Hulk-related things occasionally, but they were always innocuous for the most part, and never centered around contemplating what else grew when he Hulked out (or, God forbid, illustrating the point in full color).
After that debacle, he should have known better than to delve into anything Hulk-ish on Tumblr, but even brilliant men make mistakes. The first thing he posted on his own was a text post along those lines, a direct result of seeing a Hulk action figure being advertised on television. It was terse and opinionated, true, but since he was the Hulk (after a fashion), he had figured his opinion mattered.
According to what seemed like far too many people, his opinion was offensive and unwanted, and there was soon a long column of blue strips on his Dashboard containing snippets of people's comments on his post. It wasn't a nice column, more often than not, and the people who did agree with him tended to be just as ugly and hateful and Caps-happy as those who disagreed.
Then a new little strip of blue had appeared.
starkly-proven-2-b-red-hotreblogged your post: So, no one is at all concerned ab...
OMGWTFBBQ11!1 U GUYZ ARE ALL WRONG BROOSE IS TOTES RITE & HULK IS DA BEST WTF U ALL MAD ABOUT LOLZ LOSERS GET A LIFE &...
Bruce had shaken his head and scrolled down to see what new kitten gifs Tony had found - he had the distinct feeling that the man only kept reblogging them to poke fun at Bruce, but they were pretty cute, so he let it slide.
It hadn't even been a month since he'd started his blog (which was, at that point, mostly reblogs of scientific articles and amusing things Tony had reblogged first) that he found out what his eccentric teammate had meant by 'trolling Cap's tag'.
The first was a photoset of grainy old Captain America publicity shots, beneath which many teenaged girls had typed 'OMG HAWT' and 'DARLING!' and long strings of less-than-threes. At the bottom, Tony had commented, 'LOL HE IS SOOOOOO DREAMY LIEK IDEK SPIDER-MAN IS TOTES MY FAAAAVE SUPERHERO'. Bruce had snorted, his mouse hovering over the little reblog arrows for a moment before he decided that you only live once and clicked.
As though he'd only been waiting for the invitation, Bruce's Dashboard was soon overwhelmed by page after page of trolling. It got so that he couldn't see a picture of poor Steve without snorting. Then it migrated to the others.
On a picture of Natasha, he would see, 'LOL WUT SHE IS TOTES HAWT I LIEK TEH FRENCH CHIX.' Nick Fury's tag was suddenly inundated with pictures of pirates in eyepatches, and Clint's with gifs of Alan Alda in M*A*S*H. The poor Thor fans were subjected to Aladdin and the King of Thieves gifs in the comments of all of their posts.
It wasn't as though any of the other Avengers knew about their respective tags on Tumblr - Bruce was fairly certain none of them even knew about Tumblr at all - but he felt a bit sorry for their droves of fans, none of whom seemed to realize that they were, in fact, being trolled by Iron Man. Still, it never failed to brighten even the most emotionally wearing days.
Discovering the Iron Man tag was only slightly less traumatic than discovering the Hulk tag had been. It was dominated by some extremely graphic "doujinshi" involving Tony. One, which involved Natasha utilizing Clint's bow in a very impractical bondage scenario, rendered Bruce incapable of looking either assassin in the eye for days. Another, which depicted Iron Man as a Care Bear, was the reason Bruce now had the Care Bears theme song as Tony's personal ringtone, which delighted his friend and utterly bewildered everyone else.
It was at about that point, when he'd finished downloading the new sound file and changed 'Stark' to 'Tony' in his contacts, that he realized that the billionaire wasn't just a teammate anymore. Somewhere between 'YOLO' and 'Ridiculously Photogenic Guy', Tony had managed to become more than just a teammate and ally, he had become Bruce's friend.
So when Tony posted his 'Follow Forever' with Bruce's name as the top three, the reluctant superhero clicked the little heart in the corner, then opened a new text post.
Tony hummed to himself as he scrolled through his Dash, wondering idly if 'FeDude-26' had gotten around to posting that Iron Man/Loki drabble he'd promised. Then he paused, blinking at the screen, before a wide grin stole across his face, his eyes lighting up gleefully.
'BROOSE's Follow Forever:
- starkly-proven-2-b-red-hot '
...OR IS IT?