Hi all! I'm sorry, I can't hear your cries for Tony/Steve over the sheer awesomeness of another Tony/Bruce, because I will go down with this ship! Or as Thor would say, "-crash- ANOTHER!" Lol. This one is dedicated to the fabulous reviewer Roaslie 1.0. Oh my goodness, your review inspired! So this one is another humor/romance fic bordering on crack. It was written to Sara Bareilles's "King Of Anything", and should be read with the music. Otherwise it won't be nearly as much fun.
Disclaimer: Do not own Marvel, etc. etc. Whatever. I do not wish to be reminded of how utterly I do not own.
Bruce sat at the small table in the coffee shop on the corner of seventh, staring out into the streets of New York.
The man across from him was chattering on and on about this or that program for stress relief and how it would benefit his control over the 'condition that was so unfortunate.' He chuckled under his breath, tuning out the guy who's name he couldn't really remember because the moment he saw him, he knew he'd be just another faceless date. Tony would have been cracking up by now at this guy's dramatic gestures and eager tone of voice. Hero worship, man. It's a bitch. He had to agree.
It had been an entire year since Bruce had moved in with Tony at Stark Tower, and it had been the most interesting and eventful year of his life, including the year he first turned into the Hulk. He didn't call him the 'Other Guy' or 'the monster' or 'beast' anymore. No, he and Hulk had finally accepted each other. In the course of the year, Bruce had discovered a mental state he could slip into through mediation where he could actually talk to his other half. He was a little disgruntled to find just how bad Hulk's grammar was, but the fact that he had an opportunity to reason with him was enough to make him giddy. The first few 'conversations' with, well, himself, hadn't gone well, since he couldn't hold the state of mind for long, but eventually they talked for longer periods of time. And the conclusions were life-altering!
He and Hulk agreed on a lot of things, surprisingly. They didn't like most women (Bruce because of preference, and Hulk because they screamed too loudly), they liked the taste of shawarma, they hated cages, alcohol, needles and spiders, and they adored Tony Stark. Hulk vehemently stressed that point, which pleased Bruce to no end. Tiny Tin Man not scared of Hulk! The giant crowed gleefully. Tiny Tin Man good for Bruce! That was another thing he'd learned. Hulk actually had Bruce's best interests at heart. Just like Tony had said. And even though his methods were, well, more often not helpful, Bruce found he could forgive, er, himself? Or whatever Hulk was. He was still working on whether Hulk was a manifestation of his ID, or if they were two separate beings. Either way, Hulk was constantly pressing him to tell Tony how he felt, and Bruce often dissolved into laughter at the thought that the Hulk was like some sort of girly roommate. Life was so weird.
But he hadn't told Tony as of yet. They were best friends, and honestly, the whole 'don't want to ruin what we already have' was a legitimate fear for him. How could it not be? They were science bros, they did everything together, and the thought of more had probably never crossed Tony's mind. So, after seven months of chats with the Big Guy, he'd felt stable enough to try relationships. With people who were not Tony Stark.
The Avengers knew that he and Hulk had come to a few 'understandings', but no one else seemed to understand that he was finally, finally in control of himself. In return for not freaking out at every other turn, Bruce would let Hulk have his say in battle and in the Green Room Tony had built every other Thursday. The scientist hid his grin behind the hand holding his head in a lazy posture that screamed bored! and did nothing to stop his date from droning on. It was like he and Hulk had appointments, and that amused him to no end. They had also easily concluded that Tony Stark was always priority in battle, and that both of them would sacrifice themselves for him. Another agreement reached was that Hulk would never, ever evereverever interfere in the bedroom, and in return, Hulk could pet the kittens Pepper brought home on a regular basis. The Big Guy was overjoyed. Bruce sometimes wondered if he'd been on something when his alter-ego had developed.
But even still, people were either terrified or at least wary of him, even when they were on a date with him. Why would you date someone who makes you nervous in a bad way? He wondered.
An observation he barely heard drew him out of his musings, and he turned to the other man. Tall—taller than him, at least—with honey-brown hair and blue eyes, and well-built. A beautiful specimen of male, and not at all Bruce's type. Not because of his looks, which had never been a requirement for Bruce, but because of his personality. Perhaps he was kidding himself to think that he knew this guy, but he was like all the rest. He was here, thinking Bruce was like a lost puppy that needed saving, and telling him how he could get rid of his 'problem.'
He didn't want to get rid of Hulk, not anymore, and none of his friends did either. Tony never had. He had never tried to make Bruce something he wasn't, and he had never forced his opinion on his friend. He was supportive and helpful and he didn't judge. Anyone who said Tony Stark was arrogant or selfish was as wrong about him as they were about Bruce. Tony did nothing but give, and Bruce loved him for it. His endless talking and cocky personality were altogether different from these other men, because he actually knew how to be witty, and he also listened. He heard everything Bruce wasn't saying, and he knew when Bruce wanted a problem fixed or when he just wanted to rage for a while. Tony could read him in ways he couldn't read himself, for Odin's sake, and there were no secrets between them.
Or…mostly none. He consoled himself to think that his love wasn't a secret, just that it was being interpreted differently—incorrectly—by Tony. He was fine with that.
All of these things were sorely lacking in all of his dates thus far. Tony would say he was trying too hard, and should just shag them and be done with it, but that wasn't how Bruce worked. He was a 'mate for life' kind of person, and he knew all of this was pointless. He had already met his match, and now it was just a matter of time before he dropped the charade and attempted the impossible: persuading Tony into monogamy.
"So, what do you think? Do you want to give it a go?" the man finally took a breath and smiled at him, though it had an edge of nervousness under it. Bruce looked down at his hands and smiled.
"Actually, I'm quite in control of myself these days. Me and the Hulk have been on 'good terms' for a few months now, so I don't really need the program, although I'd be happy to try it out to see if it is a worthy program for other people,' he said, not wanting to outright shoot the guy down. No matter how ignorant people were, he was slowly starting to like people. Instead of fearing them, he could now develop friendships and camaraderie with individuals outside of the Avengers. It was such a strange thing for him, but he was happy about it nonetheless. Unfortunately, a lot of people didn't feel inclined to get to know him beyond his 'condition', so he rarely achieved anything beyond acquaintances. One step at a time, Banner. They'll come around eventually. He reminded himself. It stung to be so unaccepted, but steps were being made, and that was all he cared about.
The blond stared at him like he'd grown a second head, before stammering, "B-But, the mon—Hulk doesn't really listen to reason, does he? I mean, I read about—"
"No, no, he does. It just took a long time for me to figure that out. And you shouldn't believe everything you read, he said gently, taking calming breaths, though it was more routine at this point.
This time his words are met with a frown. "Don't you think that the person who has a problem probably isn't the best person to call themselves 'cured'?" Bruce's heart clenched in pain at the callousness of the words. This was the thing he hadn't gotten good at: letting comments slide off. He knew the truth, his friends knew the truth, Tony knew the truth, so it shouldn't matter that others still looked at him disdainfully. But it was a difficult habit to break.
"Yes, I do think that. But I am not the only one who has deemed me stable," he mumbled, embarrassed by the people he knew were listening to their conversation. "But, I'd rather hear about you. What do you do for a living?" he knew it would launch the man into another long-winded speech, and that was fine. He would patiently wait for the date to be over. Tony would have walked out a long time ago, but Bruce wasn't brave enough to do that.
"Oh, well I'm a doctor at the hospital two blocks down. I work in the children's cancer patient ward," the man said, clearly proud of his job. Bruce smiled and tried to engage, now that they were on common ground.
"It sounds like you're making a difference there. I've been by a few times to visit one of the kids. Jordan, is his name. He was on the Wishes list, and he wanted to meet Clin—er, Hawkeye, because he used to do archery. I drove him there, since he kind of has a bad case of road rage, and Jordan was so excited to see him. You're very lucky to work with such great kids," he said, grinning at the memory of Jordan asking Clint when he was going to 'grow a pair and ask Agent Romanov on a date'. The archer's face was priceless. It was only four days later that Clint did just that.
The blond didn't appear to give a damn. "Yeah, I guess. They can be so whiny though, and they need constant attention. No rest for the weary, right?" the man joked, and Bruce's brows furrowed.
"Well, they have good reason to, since their cells are under a constant flux of both physical and chemical mutation, and it's painful. And they would certainly need attention since, from the cancer cell's point of view, neglect allows the cell to shift its biosynthetic priorities - it allows it to change from making mitochondria themselves to synthesizing DNA and making the cell proliferate," he said, more to himself, trying to keep from berating the other man for his indifference.
When he looked back up, he was being stared at again. Ah, he'd just broken out the science and he was already miles ahead. He sighed and chuckled softly, before waving a hand vaguely and was about to change topics when suddenly, Tony Stark entered the coffee shop. In his Iron Man suit.
"Tony!" Bruce said, eyes wide and he stood, immediately in alert mode. "What's wrong?" Everyone was frozen, staring.
"You need to suit up, Big Guy, city's under attack again. Giant slugs from space," his friend informed him, before turning to his date and said snidely, "Looks like you'll have to cut your fabulous date short." He gestured to Bruce, before they both ran from the building and towards where Tony was saying the slugs were. Bruce was getting ready to let Hulk go nutty when suddenly he was pressed into the brick of a building and kissed within an inch of his life. By Tony Stark.
"Wha—?" his eyes widened, and his half-unfocused mind was trying to comprehend what the hell was going on. Tony pulled back, grinning, before diving back in and rendering the rest of Bruce's mind useless. Their lips moved in abandon, before Hulk realized he was unneeded, and purred once before receding back into Bruce's mind. Now, he could think more clearly. "Tony—mmf!" Tony didn't give him a chance to overanalyze (or analyze at all) and slipped his tongue into Bruce's mouth. The moan Bruce let out was almost embarrassing, but he couldn't care at the moment. When air became necessity instead of just a passing notion, Tony pulled back with that same grin and chuckled quietly. "Wh…what the hell?" Bruce gasped, trying to get his breath back from an almost-transformation and the ohgodamazing kiss. From Tony Stark. Why his brain insisted on reminding him of that was a mystery.
"Sorry if I freaked you out back there. I had to come up with something that would be believable so you wouldn't have to stay on your 'date'," Tony laughed, and Bruce could hear the quotation marks. "Jesus Christ, Bruce, you sure know how to pick 'em. How many times did he let you talk? Twice?" Bruce frowned.
"You were listening? And how is 'giant slugs from space' believable? I mean, for us yeah, but…" he trailed off, losing his train of thought at the warmth in Tony's eyes. Another kiss was pressed to his lips before he could protest.
"Yeah, I was listening. I, er, sort of have been on most of your dates. I know, total creeper, but I wasn't about to let you be with some fucker who didn't know the difference between Hydrogen and a baboon, so yeah…well, in my defense, I figured out why I cared so much mostly on my own. Aren't you proud of me?" Tony's laughter was mesmerizing.
"Yeah, I drove Clint to the hospital a few days ago to visit a kid named Jordan. Guess he said he wasn't going to take his meds until he knew Clint and Natasha were going to get married at some point, so Clint went back up after he and Natasha, well, you know, and I had to drive him."
"Uh…" Bruce was used to feeling smart, so his mind pulling a blank was unnerving.
"Right, the point! So Jordan takes one look at me, and points and says, 'You! Ask Dr. Banner out! Am I the only one who gets how these things work?' It was kind of like one of those little light bulb moments." He shook his head. "What's the world coming to when the world's greatest genius-billionaire-playboy-philanthropist has to get love advice from an eleven year old?"
Bruce was speechless. Love? "I—I don't…"
"Oh my god, Bruce! Get your head in the game! You went on dates, I was jealous, and now I'm not standing by for a second longer. I'm crazy about you, Bruce. It's gotten to the point where I'm not even afraid of the L-word and weird shit like cuddling after sex and stuff!"
Bruce can't help it, he breaks down into helpless laughter at the mock-horrified tone Tony took while saying that, and he leans his head against Tony's shoulder, trying to stop the half-stifled giggles coming from his throat. "God, do you have any idea how fucking adorable you are?" Tony mutters, before Bruce's laughter is swallowed into his mouth as their lips meet again, grinning at the difficulty of kissing while your partner is laughing. Challenge accepted.
Bruce finds himself pressed once more against the wall of the building and his breathing stutters as his neck is assaulted by warm lips. "Whoa, hold on…should…shouldn't we go back to the tower for this?"
"Mm, yeah, you're right. As much as I am all for right here, right now, I think the team would get pissed if the news channel suddenly sports our asses as their lead story." Bruce's entire face is on fire with a blush as Tony leans back up and snorts. "Can you picture Steve's face? We should do that later, just to see."
"Um…no, I think I'll pass."
"You say that now, but victory shall be mine."
They stumble out of the alley, ignoring the homeless guy who's looking at them with entirely too much interest and it's seconds before Tony grabs Bruce around the middle of his waist and his suit propels them back towards the tower.
Five days later, Steve bangs on Tony's bedroom door, before deciding now is not the time for decorum and opens it. "Tony! There are giant slugs from space attacking the city! We need to—OH MY GOD!"
It's apparent what 'project' Tony's been 'immersed in' for the past five days, and why no one has seen Dr. Banner.
When the door bangs shut again, Tony cackles, "And we didn't even need a news reporter team!"
Read and Review! In case you haven't noticed, I usually freak out over reviews and end up writing more because of them. ;) Either way, there will be more.