Title: You Might Just Like Him When He's Happy
Summary: AU thought experiment. Hulk turns into Bruce Banner when he's happy. Oneshot.
Tony finally decided he was getting sick of this.
He flew directly towards the sky, and a giant green fist slammed into the concrete wall behind him.
The dust from the shattered stone flew high enough to block his sight, and he activated his internal flood lights. He looked down to see the Hulk, growling beneath him, blocks of concrete looking like rocks in his massive green hands. He crumbled them like two silver brownies, the obliterated debris raining down around his feet.
"Would love to tango with you right now, Green Guy, but I've got a hair appointment at 3, and I've been waiting months to get into this salon...I'm sure you'd understand."
Hulk bellowed and swiped towards Tony, almost grabbing a hold of his left foot.
"If it's not too much trouble, I could even slip Jorge an extra $50 and maybe get you in for a pedicure."
Tony evaded the Hulk's grasp by suddenly lowering himself to the floor, his face inches away from Hulk's toes.
"Definitely time for a pedicure. Those cuticles have been taking over your nail beds, friend."
Tony flew directly forward, enabling the thrusters in his suit. His shoulders hit the Hulk's shins, and Tony throttled forward. He wasn't strong enough to knock Hulk over, but it was enough to encumber him for a short moment.
Hulk retaliated by regaining his balance and grabbing Tony by his ankles. Hulk lifted Tony and hung him upside down by his ankles.
"Whoa. Whoopsie daisy," Tony said, now able to see the annoyed rage on Hulk's face. Hulk raspily exhaled and a jet of mucous landed on Tony's visor. A small windshield wiper mechanism neatly scraped the Hulk snot off of Tony's vision.
Tony waved, while dangling from his feet. "How's it hanging, big guy?" He felt the murderous grasp on his ankles, despite the cold steel doing its very best to maintain its composure, not to become malleable under the hot, heavy choke hold.
The Hulk roared once again, and Tony shrugged. He figured he should probably do something sometime soon, or else he'd end up in pieces like a cracked, shattered iPod abused by a small child, or maybe a pair of new Christian Louboutin shoes chewed into pieces by a happy, oblivious pitbull puppy.
He's been through this several times before, and is now running out of creative ideas to run past his Giant Green Friend.
He's straddled Hulk's shoulders as he ran through the streets, rode him like a horsey, had Hulk ride him piggyback while he flew through the skies; had Hulk swing-catapult him in the sky when his suit boosters were in the shop, being repaired. Tony also played dead a few times, resulting in a concerned Hulk carrying him away like a rag doll. Tony would wake up spontaneously and scream, spooking poor Hulk, which would result in Tony wriggling free and flying away, Hulk roaring in confused anger, flat on his large green ass below.
Their play dates came far and few in between. Tony might have even thought of it as a friendship. He hoped Hulk felt the same way, at least he didn't think Hulk had the decency to do this with any other living creature.
Still dangling upside down, Tony felt the suit push in, and indeed it did, by about a millimeter. He figured the suit would not be entirely Hulk-proof, as no material on Earth probably was.
"Sorry, big guy, but I think you're getting a little slippery in your old age." Tony then activated his newest installation in his iron suit - a gel-based lubricant that seeped out of "pores" in the forged hard material. Tony then whipped upright, and with the activation of a strategically-timed booster, he jolted - thankfully with both of his legs - free of the Hulk's grasp.
Confused at the mess, Hulk wiped his hands sloppily on his torn purple pants. Tony chuckled and looked down at his friend, now more bewildered than angry.
Tony figured it might be a good time to perhaps leave Hulk be, but realized unfinished business was on the table. Before this meeting, he had cooked - yes, he cooked, a nice large New York strip steak, which he figured might have been Hulk's favorite. He also found a nice field of flowers - all sorts of sweet smelling blossoms, a few peonies, some daffodils, some cheerful white daisies. He arranged a fairly handsome bouquet and tied the stems together with a green ribbon.
Tony touched back down to the ground, the steak and bouquet in his hand. He walked casually towards Hulk, who had now spotted him, and was seething through his flared green nostrils, teeth bared. Tony smiled when he then saw Hulk barreling - no, charging towards him, his massive arms thrown to the side in a display of fearless rage.
After coming within a fairly close range, Hulk froze dead in his tracks to glare at Tony, now proudly holding the steak in his left hand, the bouquet in the right.
"You're going to have to put out now, Big Guy," Tony said with a smirk.
Hulk's breathing slowed down. He tilted his head to the right out of confusion. A long, thin, string of drool stretched from the corner of his lips and started to pool on the ground.
"Hungry, Big Guy?" Tony mused, presenting the steak.
"Hulk...hun-gree." Hulk fell backwards as if somewhat defeated. The ground around them shook as Hulk landed on his ass, a small groove indentation
"Also got these for you, too. Organic, free-range, hand-picked." Hulk stared at the gifts in Tony's hand, focusing on one, then the other, dumbfounded. His breathing became even slower and more laborious.
"You know, you're the best friend I have, right?" Tony said, taking off his helmet. He smiled cheerfully, placing a hand over Hulk's pulsating green one.
Hulk's body suddenly jerked to the right. His skin tone began to turn from an emerald, radioactive green, to a pale kelly green, to then a lighter spring grass green, to a soft, mellow seafoam, with spots of pink peppering his chest.
He also began to shrink; the bulging muscles smoothed themselves out to reveal a smaller, cut yet muscular human frame. Hulk's massive skull also began to shrink - to reveal a cut jawline, sculpted human cheekbones, and fluttery brown eyes with long brown lashes.
Hulk also grew back into his pants. His body continued to convulse as the massive green body had finished its atrophy into the diminutive yet handsome form of Bruce Banner.
Bruce put a hand on his head and shook it around a bit, blinking and readjusting to the light, as if waking up for the first time in a long while. He then ran the hand down his pale pink chest, covered with a patch of dark, downy hair, as if to affirm it had really existed.
"Hi," Tony said sheepishly, placing the medium-cooked steak right at Bruce's feet.
"Hey," Bruce said smiling, sitting upright. He took the steak into his hands. "My favorite. How'd you know?"
"I have my ways of finding things out about you, Banner."
Tony sat down beside Bruce in the grass, and presented him the bouquet.
Bruce gasped a bit. "They're...beautiful."
"Yeah, yeah," Tony muttered, smiling. "Peonies, daffodils, and daisies, your favorite."
"This is great," Bruce said, a hand on Tony's leg, picking a daisy out of the bouquet and tucking it behind Tony's ear. "I'm happy."
"Oh, I know you are," Tony said, holding the daisy behind his ear. "You're the Other Guy right now."
"Do you like me when I'm happy?" Bruce asked.
"Yeah. I like you when you aren't, too," Tony said, looking at the sky.
"I wish I could be happy all the time," Bruce said, looking down at the triangle of grass between his legs.
"Well, maybe you can. You don't have to be just a secondary personality," Tony said, running his finger down Bruce's bare calf.
"I wish it were the other way around sometimes. I wish I was permanently who I am right now," Bruce bit his lip, but still smiled, his eyes peeking out at Tony under his long, brown lashes.
"You're still my friend regardless," Tony said, "and the happier I make you, the more I get to see you."
"You do make me happy," Bruce said, not looking up. "You make the Other Guy happy too, and that's not an easy task."
Tony cocked his head to the side. "What makes the Other Guy happy?"
"Companionship," Bruce said, picking again at the bouquet. "You care enough to see him. Then he gets to the point where he's so happy, then that's where I take over."
"Must suck to turn into an entirely different person right when you think you've found contentment," Tony said.
"I think he appreciates you. I know I do," Bruce looked up at him, his eyes shining.
"Thanks, buddy," Tony said, standing up and stretching. "Anyway, I've got somewhere to be. Still up for that pedicure?"
"Actually, an eyebrow wax might be ideal," Bruce said with a chuckle, standing up with Tony, the Hulk's pants almost falling off his slender hips.
"Then let's get the hell out of here," Tony said, slipping an arm around his friend's shoulders.
Hope you stay around a while, Tony thought to himself.