A/N: My first Tony/Bruce story :). I'm not sure if I'm entirely happy with it, but it will set me up for the next one I'm writing, which has an established relationship in it. I love this pairing. Bruce needs Tony, and I hope that we'll continue to see them together being Best Science Bro's in the next movies (my life for at least a little bit of Bruce in Iron Man 3...)
Disc: Own nothing, that's why I'm here.
Summary: Bruce is trying to leave, and Tony's trying to convince him to stay.
"Stay," says Tony again, for probably the five hundredth time. Somehow he'd convinced Bruce to linger a few days in the ruined Stark tower, in the guest apartments, and Bruce had had a few calm, easy nights and several very welcome showers.
Bruce sighs, fingering the shiny Stark Industries duffel stuffed with new, and possibly tailored, clothing that Tony had provided him. Even a first class ticket to Hong Kong, where he'd find a beaten down hopper to take him somewhere people needed his help, somewhere deep in the jungle where he could fight disease instead of just himself.
"Please. Think about it. You're great here, we can achieve so much together. A beautiful lab filled with all the coolest toys, not some 'Junior's First Chemistry Kit' scratched from bits and bobs."
Tony's eyes are pleading, and Bruce wonders how hard it must be for Tony to ask for something he wants. Tony's had his life remade and put back together too, ever since they've met, but he doesn't understand that Bruce needs to go, needs to run, before he hurts... well, hurts the man he's falling for, if he's honest with himself, which he usually isn't.
Bruce shuffles back and forth, his desire to hide warring with his desire to be here, to have a life just like he always fantasized about. But reality always put in her two cents. "I have thought about it. Just look upstairs. That's why I can't stay."
"Buildings can be remade."
"And if I kill someone, can they be remade?"
It's Tony's turn to sigh, and his hands wrap around Bruce's wrists, trying to still them. His body is too close, it's making Bruce nervous. When people get too close they get hurt, and the thought of killing this man who has shown him kindness and met him without fear or prejudice makes him sick.
"You won't," Tony promises, his voice soft. Bruce glances up once, to see Tony's burning brown eyes, sees the mutual attraction there, and licks his lips in an anxious gesture.
"You can't know I won't," he says. "There's a monster hiding inside of me."
With that thought in the open he wants to grab his duffel, slip on his shoes, and run for the taxi Jarvis has called, run away from everyone until SHIELD needs him again, not for his intelligence, no, he's bitter about this, but for the Other Guy, the savage demon. Who cares about the innocents he kills, so long as he's pointed in the right, general direction of the enemy?
He tries to turn, but Tony's fingers tighten and Bruce feels his pulse step up for one, too-fast beat and controls his breathing. Tony is not trying to hurt him, or restrict him, he knows, but it's a kneejerk reaction to being held.
"There's a monster right here, too," says Tony, evenly.
Bruce's laugh is sour even to his own ears. "There's a genius billionaire playboy philanthropist here," he says, "your words. Hardly a monster."
Tony shakes his head. "You ever get to see movies when you travel?"
Bruce shakes his head, wondering where he's going with it.
"Alright. What do you call a monster who isn't alive, yet persists in moving about?"
"There's a few of those, I guess, but zombie comes to mind," says Bruce. He has a brief flash of childhood, watching Night of the Living Dead while hiding in a blanket tent on the floor of his living room.
"I already told you what the arc reactor does. For all intents and purposes, I should be dead. I'm a zombie. I'm a monster."
"You don't kill people."
"Maybe not," Tony allows, "but I used to by creating weapons, selling them to the supposedly good guys but all Stark Industries fueled was a struggle that only ever ended in an endless cycle of death for soldiers and civilians alike. And what if Loki had been able to turn me like he'd turned Clint Barton? He tried, you know. I would have killed Natasha and Clint for sure, maybe Steve," he said, his voice turning soft. "And I would have killed many more innocent people. I let Loki get that close, let my guard down."
"Just because you invented weapons doesn't mean you pulled the trigger," retorts Bruce, repressing a shudder at the thought of Iron Man turning on them.
"There's still blood on my hands. My creations did disgusting things, and I was so shallow and conceited, caring only about my next lay or how much money I was pulling in, that it took three months of torture and imprisonment for me to finally see the goddamn light! Sure, I'm trying to help people now, but I watched the world burn because of me."
Bruce refuses to be drawn into that argument. "There's nothing good about the Other Guy. He's like Godzilla - he's just rage that you can point sometimes."
Tony sighs, shaking his head. "You're more like King Kong."
Bruce blinks, surprised now. "I'm sorry?"
Tony looks pleased with the analogy, and steps back just a little. "He's hurt people, yeah, but if there's someone he loves..." Tony's hinting at something, a grin playing over his features, and Bruce isn't sure if he's referring to Betty Ross, or to a more recent save, "he's calmer. And maybe having someone to care about will soothe the beast inside."
"King Kong," Bruce says, thinking back to when he'd seen the movie as a child. A desperate, angry and afraid creature just trying to hold on to the beautiful Ann Darrow. "T'was beauty killed the beast," he quoted, "but you're hardly beautiful." He hopes Tony has enough observational skills to see the crinkling of his eyes prove the teasing in his tone.
"Handsome, suave, debonair, and sexy, though," Tony laughs, and his hands let go of his wrists and ghost up to touch his shoulders. The pressure of his palms is warm and heavy. The laughter fades a little, and he becomes serious. "Give me a chance," says Tony, and Bruce swallows hard. He hears the real words behind it. Give us a chance.
"I could kill you," he says, hardly a whisper past his dry lips.
Tony shrugs, like his life means little to him, even though Bruce is perfectly aware that Tony is far to narcissistic to think that way. His eyes are smouldering, and Bruce feels his pulse jump as the distance between them closes. Tony's lips brush over his, tentatively, and Bruce shivers at the feeling of supple lips that should be rougher, and Bruce has to concentrate to keep his heart even. It's been so long since he's been kissed that he feels like a fumbling, uneasy teenager.
"So what do you think," says Tony, pulling away, resting his cheek against Bruce's, "how about a zombie and a big ol' ape hang out for awhile?"
Bruce laughs, breathy and soft. His free hand traces the metal of the arc reactor for a moment, turning his hand blue from the muted light. "Only if you keep doing what you were doing."
"As a warning," says Tony, pulling him closer, "we might not get to research for awhile."
Bruce tries to shrug nonchalantly and keep his tone blasé even as Tony nuzzles into the crook of his neck, his lips pressing against his pulse, his stubble scraping at his skin. "I could keep myself from my devious experiments for awhile," he replies, hooking fingers into the waistband of Tony's jeans.
"I don't think you need to go that far," says Tony, pulling him in, his clever fingers combing through Bruce's shaggy hair, as he skims his lips higher, to Bruce's ear, "there's a perfectly good devious experiment we can do."
"What are the parameters of the experiment?" He tries to pretend it isn't him that squeaks as Tony's teeth scrape his earlobe.
"I'd like to catalogue sexual responses to various applications of stimuli," says Tony, "all along doing a quick qualitative analysis of piquancy, visual, audio, and tactility."
"Here?" Bruce glances about - they're in a foyer, near the elevators, and there's no horizontal surface but the floor.
"Bedroom," says Tony in a voice which reads as 'duh.'
"Oh." Bruce feels stupid, but it doesn't last long as Tony's teeth sink into his shoulder and he lets out another undignified moan. He tightens his grip on Tony's hips, grinding forward, feeling Tony's hardness grind into his own, and he's trying not to lose himself, but he can't help it. "We'll have to go... slow," he says.
"All the more time for research and proper observation," says Tony, and Bruce lets himself be dragged away from the door, from his luggage, and towards the bedroom. "Come along, King Kong."
"Lead the way, Ann."