Alright! A very, very late update, but I have been gone for three weeks, and have been so tired. I am so very very veryveryvery sorry to all those who reviewed before this chapter, because I have not answered them this round. I have slapped myself for every comment that I will not answer, because my inbox is literally flooded. You are all more AMAZING than Spiderman, more INCREDIBLE than Hulk, and more BADASS than Tony. I'd say more sexy than Loki, but seriously, have you seen the sauna scene yet? I love you all, and I promise to answer this time around. This chapter is dedicated to sick sad world,1337kitsune, Lenna Hatake, Brucy, and Fujosune-WilloW. You rock!
This chapter has been requested constantly. The proposal! :)
The first part was written to "Fine by Me" by Andy Grammar. Second part written to "One Thing" by One Direction. Third Part written to "Without You" by David Guetta & Usher. Fourth Part written to "Bubbly" by Colbie Caillat.
He proposed two and a half times.
The first was the worst proposal in the history of the world. He also had the second place spot, for the half time he tried. The second was awful too, but by no fault of his. Numbers and stats that he wished he didn't remember.
They'd been working in the lab for well over two days, and both were in the bizarre state of mind between awake and asleep, where everything is funnier than it would be if one was slightly more coherent. Tony sometimes likened it to alcohol, without a "shitty hangover in the morning". Tony made some comment about Bride Wars—which, seriously, he'd never watched, honestly—and compared it to Pepper's upcoming anniversary. Pepper was with a S.H.I.E.l.D agent, which was still pissing Tony off two months after she told him. "—and how the hell is that any different from being with me? Seriously, 'I need time with you, your job is too dangerous'! And now she's marrying what's-his-face—"
"Hamish," Bruce supplied helpfully, not looking up from his notes.
"Hamish, and I'm gonna have to write a whole new program for better background checks, 'cause I swear to God, Bruce, if he even has a parking ticket I'm using that as an excuse to test my new repulsors!"
"Those aren't ready yet, Tony. Think you'll have to wait another week before you hunt him down. Hamish, who makes Steve look like a villain, because he's one of the nicest guys out there and who's job in S.H.I.E.L.D is to bring pets to traumatized victims. Honestly, I don't even know why they call him an agent, but I'm not one to judge." Bruce finally looked up, quirking a brow at his lover, smiling slightly at the mock-horrified expression on Tony's face.
"If he's so great, why don't you marry him?"
Bruce outright laughed at that point. "Tony, the man works with fluffy animals. Somehow, I don't think 'danger', 'science', and 'green rage monster' are words he'd ever associate with his future partner. Besides," a goofy smile graced his face and Tony stared for a few moments at Bruce's lips imagining taste before focusing again. "How could I stray when that would mean no more us?" He gasped and spun around dramatically in his spinning chair. I think we're tired, Tony mused. "Isn't there some kind of scientific law that says something about Tony Stark and Bruce Banner having to be together or the world implodes, or Loki ends up ruling everything and makes a decree that everyone has to grow a moustache and eat copious amounts of pudding?"
Tony burst out laughing at the ridiculous thought, and apparently his sleep-deprived body felt that it was necessary to make him collapse on the ground in a boneless heap of giggles, while Bruce slumped over the desk and laughed until tears streamed from his eyes. "What the fuck is wrong with us? We need to go to sleep. Now." Tony tried to convince himself that sleeping was a wise course of action, but when Bruce protested and said he just needed five more minutes to re-learn how to walk, he decided his lover was just too damn perfect to let the moment pass.
"Hey, Bruce. Let's get married."
The laughter died faster than his first goldfish. Bruce stared at him, and Tony grinned, thinking he had just rendered Bruce speechless with happiness. He was very wrong.
"What?" Bruce asked quietly.
Tony rolled his eyes and gestured between them. "You. Me. Matrimony. You must be more tired than I thought."
Bruce just looked at him for a few more seconds before shaking his head. "I think you are, too." Tony frowned, his exhausted mind trying to make sense of that. "Uh, we should sleep, yeah? Come on, let's go to bed."
"Okay," Tony agreed easily, trying to read Bruce's face. Did Bruce not want to marry him? That…sucked, if it was true. And where were these sudden thoughts of matrimony coming from? He'd told himself at the beginning that he'd marry Bruce is that's what he wanted, because he loved him, but since when was he so ready to tie the knot?
After they'd climbed into bed, Tony pulled Bruce against his chest and mumbled, "M'serious, you know. I love you, n' you are the best. Don't want anyone else."
He felt Bruce smile, and couldn't tell if it was sleepiness or trepidation in his voice when he replied. "I know that, Tony." Tony fell into uneasy dreams where those words weren't true, and Bruce didn't know that.
It took Tony almost three weeks to recover from the self-loathing that made a grand re-appearance when he woke up and remembered his very, very not awesome way of proposing to Bruce. Nice, Stark, simultaneously asked him to marry you and insulted him. You have just royally fucked up.
For his part, Bruce didn't seem to be bothered by the failure of a proposal, but there were small signs to the contrary. He was more hesitant to spend long hours in the lab with Tony, though he didn't stay away for long. He flinched minutely every time the word 'ring' came up, and he was talking to Natasha more often. The assassin and the scientist didn't converse often outside of work and meals. There was no dislike or distrust between them, rather the opposite, but if put in a room together, there wasn't much to be said. They were both introverts by nature, and enjoyed the mutual respect for quietness that they didn't get from the rest of the Avengers. Anything that was spoken aloud was brief, and to the point, and the rest they communicated through their silence. Tony would never understand their bizarre friendship.
But they were talking more often, sometimes even disappearing into the gym or the Green Room, despite the fact that Natasha was wary of that room. Tony wasn't jealous; not at all. He knew Bruce's devotion lay entirely with him—a fact he marveled over and often was the source of a wide smile—and that Natasha and Clint were like two peas in a fucking pod. Literally and figuratively.
So he needed to figure out what was going on, and how he could fix it. Because he knew it was his fault. He knew what caused it. He didn't know how to fix it. And that's something that no inventor—genius or not—ever should have to admit, he snarked to himself disdainfully.
In the next few days, he came up with a game plan. Clint was helping him out—with no small amount of glee. It was perfect, it was fool-proof (and Hulk proof), and he soon realized he'd forgotten to account for Tony proofing.
"Tony, seriously, we've been walking for almost an hour, and you said you wouldn't let me run into anything."
"I haven't," Tony whined.
"My shins tell a different story."
"It's not that much far—"
"You said that twenty minutes ago," Bruce said cheekily, laughing when Tony sighed dramatically. "If you're going for romance, try not to let Clint drug me next time, okay? 'Creeper love is deeper love' does not apply anywhere but the internet."
"Oh god, you're the one teaching Thor how to use Tumblr, aren't you?"
"Unfortunately. I think he picked me because I'm more patient than Jane, but I can only hear the phrase 'Re-blog all the things!' so many times before I need a break in the Green Room. Steve was a much quicker study," Bruce mused with a smile and a shake of his head.
"You should be sainted, Brucey-boy. Or knighted, or something. Speaking of which, we're here."
Tony unknotted the blindfold and smiled when a moment passed and Bruce slowly blew out a soft breath of amazement. "That's…you're crazy, you know that, Tony?" The man in question chuckled at Bruce's indulgent, amused expression.
"'Course. But it'll be fun! A rush!" Tony waggled his eyebrows at the scientist and handed Bruce a parachute. Bruce took it, protesting weakly.
"A rush is the exact opposite of what I should be exposed to. I may have a few things settled with the Other Guy, but somehow I think that 'falling out of a jet' is on the list of things Hulk assumes he should be present for."
"Nah, he knows you're with me, so he'll be chill." Tony was now pushing Bruce to the jet that waited for them in the field.
"Hulk embodies everything that isn't chill, Tony."
Eventually, after much hassling and puppy eyes on both sides, they were twelve thousand feet above the ground, and about to descend all twelve thousand feet back down with only cloth to break the fall. Bruce knew the physics of it; knew it was usually safe. Usually wasn't a word a scientist took lightly. He couldn't die from the fall, thanks to Hulk, but Tony…Tony was not something he ever wanted to risk. Especially when he'd refused to bring the suit. But Bruce trusted Tony to know what he was doing, so he'd let it go and was now looking at the extremely far distance between him and the ground. Formulas and calculations were buzzing through his mind about trajectory and gravity and what happens when a penny falls from the Empire State Building, much less from twelve thousand feet. Hulking Out was not a good option today.
"You ready?" The manic gleam of reckless excitement was evident in Tony's eyes and for a moment Bruce idly wondered if the gleam would brighten further were he to sarcastically suggest they have sex on the way down. He snorted helplessly at the mental image and choked back his giddy laughter before nodding and taking Tony's hand. He didn't jump so much as Tony did and dragged Bruce out of the plane with him. The rush and howl of wind stinging against his eyes was one of the most amazing feelings he'd ever felt. He could feel each beat of his heart pounding through the adrenaline, and he immediately wished he could be half-present like Hulk was with him, whenever the Other Guy defied a few laws of gravity. His laughter was swallowed by the air, but Tony's beaming expression told him that his enjoyment showed clearly. They fell for a few minutes before Tony squeezed his hand.
"We'll have to pull our chutes on the count of three!" His lover shouted over the rush of wind. Bruce shouted back his agreement. "One…two…three!" They both tugged the straps, the cloth expanding and becoming fuller as it caught more air. A clang was heard, and Bruce's world was jarred, oddly off balance, only supported by Tony's hand and one strap of the vest. Tony's laughing expression was suddenly abject horror. "Holy shit!"
Bruce didn't panic in the midst of adrenaline. Before the adrenaline hit: that was when he panicked. Right now, his medical trained mind was processing as rapidly as it could. But his expression was calm as he quickly shouted up to Tony. "It's okay, Tony, don't freak out. Keep a hold of my hand for a second; let me think."
The strangled sound that his hearing barely caught was clearly at his choice of the phrasing, but he'd already decided what to do. They were plummeting too fast, even with the parachute, so he smiled up at Tony reassuringly and shook his hand free. He pretended not to hear Tony scream like a girl and focused on the transformation, trying to instruct the Hulk to attempt landing in a deserted field or the water of the lake he could see.
When he came to, his entire body ached as it always did when he Hulked Out: muscles and bones angrily protesting growing and breaking in unnatural ways. But other than that, he was no worse for wear. He closed his eyes and inhaled ten deep breaths. Please, please, let no one have gotten hurt.
He looked to the side, and wasn't all too surprised to see Tony there. They always stayed by each other when one was injured. He was surprised at the glass of scotch the man seemed to be contemplating like a long lost lover. His stomach clenched a little, but he reached out to take the glass from Tony. His lover's eyes snapped to his face. There was a tense moment of silence before Bruce frowned and took Tony's hand. "Tony?" He jumped when Tony suddenly exploded to life.
"What the fuck was that, Bruce? You fucking let go of my hand!"
"You knew I wasn't in any danger, Tony," Bruce immediately defended, already knowing that his argument was weak, but still valid. There hadn't been time to think. "If anything, it was the terrain and other people who were in worse danger."
"Shut the fuck up right now, Banner! I know that, it doesn't mean that's what I was thinking of when it happened!" With that, he slumped forward in the chair to grip Bruce's hand, the fight going out of him faster than Bruce had ever seen. "Christ, don't ever do stupid shit like that without warning me," he muttered into the sheets. Bruce reached a hand out to comb through Tony's hair, the softness of was soothing against his palm.
"Like you don't do 'stupid shit' without consulting me all the time," he teased, smiling warily. He sighed when Tony laughed a bit weakly and nodded, talking into the sheets.
"Fair 'nough. Let's both just sit in the tower and never go out again so we don't do stupid shit."
Bruce laughed until his eyes started to water. "Tony, we do more stupid shit in the lab than we do anywhere else. I think venturing outside more often might actually be beneficial." Tony turned his head to smirk up at him, before leaning in to kiss Bruce. Their mouths were intimately acquainted with each other, but it seemed that every time Tony didn't kiss Bruce for more than twenty-four hours, his lips forgot the taste and feel and needed to get re-introduced. Not that he had a problem with that.
Tony leaned back to connect their foreheads. "I love you. Marry me."
Bruce groaned, slumping back against the pillows. "Tony," he drew out the end, in not-quite-a-whine, but close enough to display frustration. "Don't." Tony scowled at the rejection.
"Why not? I'm serious! I've proposed three times!"
"When was the second?" Bruce asked, confused. "When I was drugged?"
"No! I was going to on our trip down from the sky, until your chute broke and my heart decided to get cozy with my lower intestines. So, a half proposal. That's two and a half times. I'm serious."
"I know you are, Tony, but—"
Tony stood. "Nuh uh, if you're about to go into a self-deprecating speech, I don't want to hear it." He raised a brow when Bruce smiled softly and shook his head, bemused.
"Thanks for not allowing any self-loathing I might be capable of, but that's not what I was going to say."
"I was going to say that you're going to have to wait a week."
"…Wait a week to propose?" He hated sounding like an idiot.
A week is a supposedly short time in the scheme of things. Tony wanted to punch whoever decided how long a week went.
He'd had the ring for months, just in case, but it had been a constant, distracting weight in his pocket for a few weeks now. He would go into his pocket for his wallet, and suddenly someone would have to ask him if he was alright. He didn't know if they were concerned by the quickened breathing or his stupidly wide grin.
When he woke up on the day of one week and six hours from when he was instructed to wait, he found the bed empty. Brows furrowed, he pulled the covers off to go search for Bruce when the door opened to the person he wanted to see.
"Morning, Tony! Uh, fair warning, I think the others have just broken into your alcohol collection."
"WHAT?" He leapt out of bed and flew to the door, disappearing down the hall, shouting threats and curses as he went. A devious smirk was replaced with a neutral expression that didn't want to stay put as Bruce trailed behind him at a leisurely pace, counting down.
Nodding, he walked out towards the kitchen where the supposed alcohol heist was going on. He came into the room to find Tony struggling against the ropes tying him to a high wheeling chair. Bruce let out a low whistle. Not even twenty seconds. God forbid he ever upset Natasha. Even the Hulk wouldn't stand a chance.
"What the hell is going on? Bruce! Get in here, there's been a goddamn security breach!"
Bruce stifled a chuckle and slipped quietly behind Tony. People mistakenly assumed his only skills lay with the Hulk. But when you'd been on the run for a better portion of your life, skills were a must. "Or maybe there's a traitor in our midst," he said dramatically into Tony's ear, laughing when Tony yelled like he was on fire.
"Holy shit! Bruce, what the hell?" Tony tried to spin his chair around to see Bruce, but couldn't get it turned. Bruce obliged him.
"Sorry Tony, didn't mean to freak you out. Just didn't want you to have a chance to beat me to the punch, again," he said, smiling. He held up a hand when Tony started to ask him questions. "So, now that I have you tied to a chair—which is fair play, since you drugged me, just so you know—I have a proposition and a proposal for you."
Tony eyed him with no small amount of interest that was bordering on his 'Screw the world, I'm going to screw you' look. "M'kay, shoot."
"The proposition is easy enough. I'd be very happy if at six tonight, we go to the congratulations party Steve has so graciously set up for us. Then, afterwards, I think we'd both be very happy if we started that project we talked about last month."
Tony's throat constricted while he tried to swallow. That project. Shit, when had Bruce learned how to nearly undo him with his voice? 'That project' involved him, Bruce, and every surface of every room in the entirety of the tower. I need to stop being such a good influence. He didn't know if he'd last until the party was over, the way Bruce was talking right now. Speaking of…"What congratulations party?" he asked, clearing his throat.
Bruce smiled, this one heart-achingly soft and decidedly less sultry, but not lacking in intensity. "That's the proposal part." He walked behind the chair to undo the knot and pulled Tony's hands into his. Leading him down a few halls to the Green Room silently, they went in. Bruce pulled his lover to sit with him at the waterfall in the center. The quiet rush of water was the only sound for a few minutes.
"Sorry, just thinking. I forget that the longer I wear bravado, the quicker the threads unravel. I'm actually terrified right now." He shook his head at himself, but before Tony could ask what he was talking about, Bruce leaned in to kiss him. "Ought to take a page from your book, then, and jump head first." They kissed again, before Bruce asked quietly, "Marry me?"
The 'Yes' was probably too prompt and said in a higher-pitched voice than Tony would have liked. Still, he figured it wasn't so bad to lose what remained of his dignity when they exchanged rings that had been bought months ago (neither having had the courage to use them before now) and he looked at his like a freakin' star-struck bride.
Bruce proposing meant more to both of them than they could have explained. If the asking-to-marry was difficult, they were not at all prepared for the big day itself.
Admittedly he thought Bruce's proposal was beautiful…
But he most definitely enjoyed the proposition as well.
Read and Review! The chapter that would come after this is my other fic, "Bubblegum Saturdays and Whispered Names". On another note, I now have Tumblr! My username is SwOvrTheBifrost. I also have a DeviantArt account by the same name. Look me up, lovelies!