Summary – With the Alien invasion over and there literally being no place for the Avengers to stay, the Stark home in Malibu is prepared to house "Earth's Mightiest Hero's" Now that the future of the Earth is no longer on their shoulders, they must work to gain team chemistry and deal with their issues while trying not to kill Tony Stark.
A/N – An exciting and long anticipated chapter! Enjoy. :)
Disclaimer – The Avengers and all affiliated characters, scenes and events belong to Marvel and not I.
Chapter Ten: Hulking About
I'm a huge fan of the way you lose control and turn into an enormous green rage monster
It was lunchtime. Stark and Banner were actually joining them.
"Whoa… I honestly forgot that you two even knew what lunch was." Clint joked.
Tony stuck his tongue out in a childish and truly Stark-like manner. "Hunger does not bring me here today, my friends." Tony sighed, "I'm BORED." He flailed his arms in emphasis. Tony climbed up on to a bar stool and pouted angrily. "I've never not had something to do before. This is a disaster."
"Your science is not providing you with adequate entertainment today?" Thor asked in all seriousness.
"Well it could, but some people…" Tony trailed off.
"No, Tony. That would be the stupidest of your stupid ideas." Bruce said, helping himself to the enormous pot of Mac & Cheese.
"Oh, come on!"
"What? What sort of stupidity is Stark up to now?" Steve asked.
"I have a theory –" Tony started.
"He wants to provoke the Other Guy." Bruce interrupted. "I do not consent."
"But my theory!" Tony stressed.
"Okay," Tony started, excitement rekindled. "I believe that Bruce and the Hulk work more as a team when he voluntarily transforms, like at the battle. He's more volatile when he involuntarily transforms because the Hulk feels threatened, like at the Helicarrier attack. I believe the Hulk can learn. We just need to expose ourselves to a threatened Hulk and prove to him were not a threat."
"Which is a stupid and dangerous idea." Bruce added.
"Just consent! Please." Tony begged.
Natasha shook her head, "But then it wouldn't be involuntary. It's redundant." Natasha continued at their confused expressions. "If Dr. Banner consents, then he would be agreeing to the change, therefore it would be voluntary."
Tony's face fell. "Your logic hurts my feelings."
"Just give it up Tony; I would never consent to something so volatile and dangerous." And with that, Bruce walked away from his friend, unable to put up with it any longer.
"Well then," Tony scoffed. "Fine. According to Natasha, I don't need your consent anyways!" And so Tony began to formulate a plan.
"Um… Tony?" Clint asked from his perch on Tony's roof. He was a couple stories up, waiting above the deck door leading to the pool. "I'm not sure this will even work." He peered into the metal tub Tony had given him. It was filled with icy water.
"Of course it will!" Tony adjusted his bracelet technology on his wrists. "But if it doesn't, we'll just end up with a soaked and freezing Banner." Tony looked up the archer. "Wouldn't that piss you off?"
"Um, yes, but… don't you think he's going to be a bit suspicious if you're involved?" Clint dipped a finger in the ice water and shuddered. Damn that is cold.
"That's why I'm not involved. I'll be out of his sight range." Tony said patiently. "You know the plan, Darcy will lead him out here and you just dump the bucket on his head. It should provide enough of a shock that the Hulk will come out to play."
"Yeah, okay." Clint shrugged and with that, Tony disappeared from his sight, leaving Clint to question whether or not Stark knows morals… or what a bad idea is. This can't end to bad… right?
"Look at you, all locked up in this musty lab." Darcy trilled.
"It's not musty. It's sterilized." Bruce countered, not even looking up from the stream of data on the screen. "And I'm not locked up either, obviously, because you found me."
"That I did, so, phew!" Darcy pretended to cough. "I can practically taste the chemicals in here."
No response from Bruce.
Darcy tried again. "You know what I like to do when the stench of science gets to be too much?"
"Where are you going with this, Darce?"
"Go on a walk with me. Outside. We only got, like, two more weeks here and you haven't spent near enough time on the beach." Darcy was seriously hoping this would work. She had been living with the Avengers all summer; no arrows have been shot, no Mjolnir strikes, Hulk-outs or Stark suits. Which is why she agreed to this stupid plan.
"Really? A walk?"
"Well, yeah! Sand in between your toes, sunset in the distance, the possibilty of a tan. I'm sure you'll find it all very… relaxing." Darcy smiled. God dammit, stop stalling Banner!
"I suppose. It's gonna take another hour or so for these reaction simulations to synthesize. Jarvis, you'll alert me once we've reached a result?"
"Of course, Doctor."
Darcy and Bruce walked side by side and once they reached the door, Darcy had to put serious effort into not looking up. She turned around, walking backwards, and like she had hoped he would, the shy Dr. Banner slowed down. She was out of the splash zone.
The shocking cold caused him to suck in a deep breath of air, which only led to him inhaling water. The cement darkened ominously as the water puddled at his feet. He clutched his head as though he had a horrible and sudden migraine.
It was the most horrifying thing she's had to witness so far.
He began to shake – Though Darcy wasn't sure if it was the cold water or the impending transformation causing this. He fell to his knees as his skin rapidly changed green. Then he began to grow; horrible popping noises, as though his joints were breaking apart as he grew taller, wider and more muscular.
Everything seemed to stop for a moment, and then with a feral and furious snarl, the last bits of Bruce Banner disappeared.
"Hey! Big guy! You made it!" The voice sounded strained and metallic. Darcy whirled around to find herself nearly face-to-mask with Iron Man. She almost wanted to laugh. This was crazy! Iron Man and Hulk were going to have a superhero Best Friend pow-wow!
"METAL MAN TRICK HULK!"
With another roar, the Hulk grabbed Iron Man by his left leg and tossed him like a rag doll. "Shit." Clint cursed from the roof.
However, Stark was at home in his suit. Granted he did not expect to be tossed like the Hulk's plaything, but he was prepared for it. He caught himself mid-flail with his repulsors jet. Darcy was in fangirl heaven.
"Whoa! Hey, c'mon big guy, I just wanted to hang out with you!" Stark was tossed again.
"Hulk SMASH tricksters!"
Darcy was aware that the situation at hand was probably very dangerous, and she was also considering the pros of running the opposite direction. She was also considering taking a video with her phone and posting it to facebook. However, while her mind was screaming "run!", she knew that running would cause more harm than good. If she ran, the Hulk would probably just perceive her as the threat.
"Great beast! We mean you no harm!" And here comes the rest of the crew. Asgardian armor, the Star Spangled Man with a Plan, and (looking all too sexy – and lethal) the Black Widow.
"Stark! Of all your stupid ideas!" Steve shouted.
"Yeah, thanks Cap! A little help would be nice!" Hulk currently had Iron Man by both his ankles and was shaking him violently.
Hulk finally seemed to notice his approaching teammates. He dropped the Iron Ass with little interest and growled at them threateningly.
"Puny god." Hulk spat.
Thor grinned. "Have at thee… beast."
It became very clear that Hulk didn't like Thor and his magical Mjolnir. Thor didn't seem to care for Hulk either. It was a pretty matched fight at first, but Hulk had huge, monstrous hands and he plucked Thor and tossed him around until a glistening Shield made contact with his head. Captain America didn't handle Hulk-punches as well as Thor did. An arrow embedded itself into the Hulks arm with a sickening thunk. Hulk roared and ripped the arrow from his skin.
"Hulk; Stand down!" Black Widow had her gun trained at the Hulks head – as if that would stop him.
"No!" Suddenly, Darcy Lewis put herself between thee Hulk and a trained Russian spy with a gun leveled for her head. And, strangely so, she didn't care. "Don't shoot him!"
"Darcy, get out of there!" Clint shouted from where Captain America was struggling to get up.
"Please move, Miss Lewis, we have this under control." Black Widow spoke coolly and professionally.
"If you attack him, it'll just make him mad!" Darcy held her hands up in a placating matter. "Please." Suddenly, hot and moist air fanned across her neck. Darcy squawked in protest as she turned to face the Hulk.
A strangely curious expression had replaced the anger on his face. It looked out of place, like he wasn't meant to be curious. And he was sniffing Darcy. "Hey there…" Darcy stated lamely.
The Hulk pulled away with a low grunt.
What on earth do you say to the Hulk when you first meet him? "I'm Darcy." And she held out her hand as though he would shake it and introduce himself as the Hulk. Unbelievably, he did move as though they would shake on it. He raised his arm, large beefy fingers uncurling from a fist and holy shit she's actually gonna touch the Hulk.
He completely bypassed her outstretched hand and scooped her up King Kong style. Instantly, the Avengers protested. Thor wielded Mjolnir, a gun clicked and was aimed, and the repulsors whined as they warmed up.
"Drop the girl!"
Hulk did not agree with this.
And suddenly she was flying. All she could do was clutch his neck and close her eyes and pray she didn't die. It might have been peaceful to be in the Hulk's arms; he was so warm and his muscely arms were like a protective casing around her.
Finally the Hulk found a satisfactory cave who knows how far from Malibu. He set Darcy down with such care that she would have been flattered, but Darcy was never one for heights. She stumbled away from the Hulk and vomited her lunch.
"Did I hurt you?"
"No." She heaved one last time and wiped her mouth with the back of her hand. "I've just never liked roller coasters and that was a rough one." She turned to face Bruce – and immediately looked away. "Whoa, hey there."
"Yeah, I know." Bruce blushed. "The nakedness is a… downside."
Darcy, like Tony, deflected things with sarcasm and flirting. "Oh, no. Not a downside at all." She smirked.
Bruce's blush intensified.
Tony landed on the ledge with a clunk. His face flipped. "Brucey! You're back! I brought you some pants." Tony tossed a pair of sweatpants at the naked man. "Hey, Darce. You don't look so good."
"Hey, Tony. You look a little rough around the edges as well." Darcy acknowledged the state his suit was in.
"Tony, care to explain what happened?" Bruce stood up, hiking his new pants over his rear end.
"Whhhaaatttt?" Tony said in his high pitch I'm-lying-and-you-know-it voice. "Don't look at me!"
He did not look up at her from behind the numbers and variables. Because he was done. It didn't matter that no one got seriously hurt. It didn't matter that Tony considered the Other Guy's attraction to Darcy a "victory". The apologies didn't matter either.
Sigh. "That was pretty… crazy…"
He still doesn't look at her.
Darcy, of course, is referring to the explosion of feelings that occurred when they returned to Malibu that day. It had been so intense that S.H.I.E.L.D even got involved. Tony claimed the idea as his and sat down for a thorough ass chewing at the mouths of Agent Hill, Bruce, Pepper… and Steve… and Natasha. It was painful to sit through.
Clint hadn't said anything, because he was guilty too. Jane hadn't said anything, because she had been grocery shopping and vowed to stay out of these crazy things. Thor hadn't said anything because he mostly agreed with their stance against Tony.
The ass chewing Darcy could sit through. She could not, however, stand the look on Tony's face when Bruce declared himself as "done" and that is why she is down in the lab experiencing a sense of déjà vu.
"Listen, um… Could you define a word for me?" Darcy tried again. A flicker of something – interest? Curiosity? – flickered across Bruce's face. "I need to know what the word 'done' means."
"Done. Verb. Past tense. As in; finished; completed; or thoroughly fed up with something or someone." Bruce began, his voice growing louder with each word. Deep breath. "Now, are we done here because I'm feeling a bit fed up."
"Oh, goodie, you used it in a sentence for me." Bad attempt at lightening the atmosphere. "So, I'm not one for defending Tony, but, I have come to love the guy in a brotherly way – though don't tell him that, the word 'love' gives him stomach aches. He made the choices he made today under the illusion that he was doing the right thing. And I helped him – out of curiosity and he bought me new shoes. I'm not proud of this."
Silence, but he's stopped writing things, so he's listening.
"We never stopped to think about how you would feel about it. And Tony would deny it through hell and high water, but he looked awful when you said the word 'done'. I am sorry, Bruce.
"You are not done. I may have not known you for very long and I do intend to change that because I think you're cute and you smell nice, but I can tell on the faces of those who have seen you outside of this house that they are shocked. I think it's because you're happy."
He smiles. Its soft, no teeth, and it makes her stomach flutter.
"Beginning." Bruce speaks softly. "Noun. The point in which something starts. Something new."
When they kiss for the first time, it is not passionate, or rough, or full of primal desire even despite the sexual tension Tony has been rudely complaining about. It is simple and almost curious, like they are asking each other a question by moving their lips in a different way; is this alright, is this okay? It is as simple as two people starting something new.
Thanks again for everyone's wonderful support and love!