You and Me
Word count: 1,502
Chapter Warnings: none.
Story warnings: Um, I don't really know yet. I haven't planned on anything that's really that graphic. This is about two men who love each other, so there'll be adult themes of some sort.
A/N: Songfic to the song You and Me by Alex Day, and from what he's said in his videos I don't think he'll mind me inserting the lyrics at the top of the chapters. I hope you like it!
We knew it from the start
That we would be together in some way
You needed me, and you know I still need you back.
In the first moment that Tony Stark and Bruce Banner met, something magical happened. Or at least that's what Tony would say. Bruce would deny feeling anything right from the start; he was far more interested in not killing everyone on the helicarrier than looking for a potential partner amongst a group of eccentric 'superheroes'. Yet despite everything, there was soon a quick friendship struck up between the two scientists.
"All I brought was a toothbrush"
God Tony found Bruce appealing. It wasn't just the way that he didn't have to dumb down his language or speak at a pace that normal people would have found baffling. Or the general aesthetic appeal of his lab partner. It was that he found someone with whom he could speak openly to, someone that understood what it was like to be trapped, to have been trapped in your own mind and body. The desert. His father. Even his drinking at times had trapped Tony. Add on top of that one arc reactor and voila, he knew at least a little of what Bruce must have felt when he turned into The Hulk. Wait, no, what he must be feeling. It was strange, the sense of protectiveness that washed over him when Bruce was around, quietly trying to take up as little space as possible, trying not to be noticed. He wanted to take out his suit and smash everyone who looked at Bruce sideways, as though at any minute he was about to explode and kill them all. Anyone with eyes and a brain, so only Tony and Bruce himself, could see that that was never going to happen. And he had tested it, just to make sure! Bruce had just flinched and smiled. The guy had a lid on it for fuck's sake! Tony saw how careful Bruce was around people, putting up with their shit and hiding behind a calming smile, hiding what Tony knew was a dry wit and fierce humour.
"You're tiptoeing big fellah, you need to strut"
He wanted Bruce to be able to be himself, to show the world that a brilliant mind lay below the surface, not a monster. The admission that Bruce had tried to end his life shocked him. Even when Tony was dying, he never thought of it, never wanted to.
Tony resolved himself to looking after Bruce, the guy needed someone to after all, whether or not he would admit it. Flying around Manhattan, on the day of the Fight, he couldn't help thinking about the scientist.
He knew that he'd be back, it was obvious. Why were the others even surprised when he mentioned it? And then, when he returned, all rumpled with the quiet demeanour back in place he wanted to go join the guy, possibly even tackle him to the ground with happiness. If he wasn't currently being chased by an alien behemoth.
It all became a bit blurry during Loki's war, just fighting and adrenaline. Hulk smashed and Thor generated weather that he was sure would freak out the local wildlife, while Steve performed Heroics and Natasha and Clint tried to keep a lid on things in the normal way. It seemed that it was his job to take the A- bomb into outer space and fully test the capacities of his suit. He wasn't really planning on dying per say, just… Not existing anymore. It wasn't him being heroic or anything, it was just a job that needed to be done. Philanthropy aside, now that he had survived it, it was extraordinarily good press. And then, in a bizarre (to everyone else but Tony that is) twist, the Hulk had caught Tony as he fell back down, twisting so that he wasn't crushed by the car, and then scared him back to life. He didn't even hit him after too, which was nice.
It was a full circle, and Tony liked circles. From them hanging out in the lab, to Tony looking out for Bruce, to Bruce looking out for Tony, and then back to hanging out, with Shawarma. It was great, hanging out with the gang, sitting down and talking, music playing quietly in the background to distract from the wailing of sirens and people outside. Steve was shaken and Natasha was supporting a minor gash, but it was the most casual that they had been around each other by far, and it was reflected in how smoothly the conversation flowed from one topic to the next, about how they would and would not help fix Manhattan, how they would handle any press, who rooted for which baseball team (it was fun trying to explain the concept to Thor) to, finally, what they were going to do with their down time before the next thing tried to wipe out the human population. Steve, Clint and Natasha were going back to their respective bases, Thor was going back to supervise Loki and ultimately go back to Asguard and Bruce was going to go with Tony back to Malibu if he had any say in the matter.
"No Tony. Look, thanks for the offer and all, but I couldn't, really! I couldn't. I'd probably just break everything." He releases a huff of breath along with a self-depreciating smile that makes Tony want to hug him and find a way to put all the broken pieces of this man together. It seemed suddenly unfair that he could do it to himself, and create a new element in the process, yet it seemed so daunting, so impossible to do it to Bruce.
You know what? No. He was Tony Effing Stark. He did impossible things. Starting with getting this man to abuse his hospitality.
"Don't be such a Debbie Downer. You can totally crash at my place. I don't snore. I promise."
"It's just an expression. But I don't for the record. Not that you'd hear me from my big, shiny, top of the line Scientific Laboratory of Science. Unless you wanted to. Do you want to?" He left the end deliberately ambiguous. Get the man to speak now and define the terms later and all that.
"Giant green rage monster, I know. But I really couldn't care less. And don't give me that look, we both know that you saved my life today. I don't think that he wanted to save it now to kill me later."
"We don't always get what we want."
"I'm Tony Stark and yeah, I think I do."
Bruce shrugged. "I don't"
"Yeah. But I do. Comes with the territory of being a billionaire genius etc. and I want you to come live with me, and I know that you're not going to hurt me, see the part about being a genius billionaire. And whilst we're on the topic of me being a billionaire who is also a genius, I don't think that you have a place to stay tonight. Unless you wish to stay aboard the Mighty Metal Monstrosity in the sky, which I know for a fact that you don't. So come stay with me tonight in my tower, even if the air conditioning's a bit constant right now, and in the morning we can go to my house and you can set up. I really don't mind. At all. Science Labs of Science don't forget. And I'm kind of a genius."
"And you keep mentioning that fact as though it counts for something" But Bruce was smiling at Tony's rant. Or the Bruce Banner equivalent of a smile, where he just didn't look quite as haggard or sad as he normally did. Success for Tony Stark.
"Cool. Let's get going then."
"I never said-" he sighed as Tony opened his mouth 'There's really no winning with you, is there? Fine. Okay. But only for a few days. At the most."
"Just give it up now Banner" Natasha added, watching the two with amusement "Tony never gives up on anything. He's incorrigible."
Tony rolled his eyes while the others laughed, then they dispersed in their various directions. Tony had a car waiting to take them back to Stark Towers, and showed Bruce to a cot behind an x-ray machine in one of the labs, making bad jokes about how he should feel at home there. Tony was in the next lab over, in a cot behind some barrels of acid. In the morning Bruce would question if there were beds in all of the labs Tony used, as well as the health risks of entertaining such a sleeping pattern, but he really could be sleeping outside in the dirt for all he cared at that moment, and it wouldn't be the first time. He was tired and it was a bed. There would be things to do in the morning, apparently.