Title: What If
Author: keadeblue264
Pairing: Tony/Bruce
Summary: Tony Stark does not deal in what ifs. Tony/Bruce.
Disclaimer: Avengers belongs to Marvel. I make no monetary profit from this fiction. This written work is my own and may not be copied or reposted elsewhere and permission will not be given for either.
Warnings/Notes: slash, angst, mentions of suicide attempts, sexual content.


Bruce Banner is the most awkward yet fascinating person Tony has ever come into contact with. He laughs nervously sometimes when he's feeling uncomfortable or out of place, and maybe even that's just another method to keep himself calm, but he is also capable of leveling an entire city in a matter of hours. Granted, the latter is possible due to this whole other part of him, a part he fights to keep under lock and key as much as possible.

A part of Tony doesn't understand why Bruce doesn't utilize this thing that just fell into his lap by accident. Though, while Tony would call it a happy accident, Bruce would call it a horrible mistake.

Tony is sure there is some way to use the Hulk so that Bruce turning into him doesn't end in millions of dollars in property damage, even though Bruce denies such a thing is possible. And even if there really isn't, Bruce himself still has his uses. Bruce is one of the smartest people alive, had even taken part in breakthrough research while he still worked as a scientist. He also talks with his hands, but that's more of an observation Tony's made and not an actual skill.

Either way, Tony thinks it's wrong of Bruce to take all this potential he has and hide it away like something bad. If there's one thing Tony is big about it's using whatever you have at your disposal to make something of yourself. That and shiny gadgets.

He couldn't see himself living the kind of life Bruce had before. He's not sure how Bruce could stand it for so long. He can't go a day without making something new and fancy, or at least sitting down to start up the blueprints for it. But Bruce is here with him now, and they can both build and create and experiment to their heart's content.

oOo

Stark Tower took months to rebuild after the battle with Loki. It's probably only because he had Bruce around as personal motivation that made the work get done faster, and he's still surprised he actually convinced Bruce to stay. Tony really couldn't let him go off to some out of the way country after everything, not when he just knew they could do so much by working together.

Working with Bruce is fun for him. It's nice to have a sounding board for his ideas, especially some of the more eccentric ones. Tony likes it when he can make Bruce smile and shake his head at some inherently ridiculous vision he has for Stark Industries. And even Bruce's smiles are awkward. They're crooked in a way that makes it seem as if he doesn't actually want to smile but he's doing it anyway. It looks almost forced, but it's genuine at the same time.

Bruce is kind of like his own little contradiction. He's serious most of the time, but he's more than willing to play into the banter Tony eggs him into. He has this almost steel enforced calm about him, but there's the Other Guy living inside him, who is the embodiment of disorder and chaos. He's come to somewhat accept the Hulk inside him, but he would absolutely jump at the chance of getting rid of his curse.

He wouldn't tell Bruce this, but Tony thinks he better with the Hulk inside him. To him, Bruce wouldn't be Bruce without the Hulk.

oOo

Sometimes Tony watches Bruce from across the room as they work together in a comfortable silence. He has his reasons for looking, and thankfully Bruce doesn't really notice, too absorbed in his own work to pay any mind to where Tony's eyes are straying. It's through this that he picks up on a few things about Bruce.

He fiddles with his hair constantly, whether it's brushing some off his forehead or just running his hand over it. He also takes his glasses off and puts them back on repeatedly, sometimes to rub at his eyes if it's been a long day. Like Tony, he keeps his shirt sleeves rolled up near his elbows, and he thinks it's a habit for people who do a lot with their hands.

All in all, he enjoys watching Bruce work, likes knowing that Bruce is working with him and not out hiding from the rest of the world because of a green rage monster dwelling inside his body.

But, mostly, he watches Bruce just to make sure he isn't about to take a fancy to having a gun in his mouth again.

Tony was more shocked than anything that time when Bruce admitted he attempted suicide once. People who have ever been that desperate to end their own life don't just hand out that information easily. But, at the same time, Tony understood how Bruce felt. That's all he could really think at the time.

Now, though, the thought of Bruce trying to commit suicide again leaves this burning throb in Tony's head that can't be quelled unless he's in the same room with Bruce, seeing with his own eyes that he's still alive. Bruce would never do something like that with Tony nearby, but Tony is also afraid that one day he'll go to Bruce's room only to find a corpse. And he hopes with everything he has and everything he is that it will never come to that.

Because, despite all the quips and smart ass comebacks and sarcasm and ego big enough to fill the Hoover Dam twice, he is still a human and he still has feelings. And putting on a metal suit will not do much to safeguard his emotions when they're in danger of being hurt. And Tony knows he'll be hurt big time if something ever happens to Bruce.

He thinks about how the world would be without Bruce when it's nighttime and there's nothing else better to do than let his mind wander and try to get some sleep. It's at times like these that he's insanely thankful for the Hulk.

oOo

He remembers Bruce saying he's always angry, and Tony can't help but wonder what Bruce is so mad about. Maybe he's angry with the world. Maybe he's angry with himself. Maybe he's just angry. Maybe the Hulk makes him stay angry. Maybe it's every one of these things.

Tony can understand being angry. Everyone can understand being angry, in fact. But nobody has to live with it constantly like Bruce does. It's something he can't even imagine experiencing.

oOo

Tony believes that certain people are just born for science. Bruce, for one, was definitely born for science.

Even though science was what made the Hulk, even though science had a hand in the rage and chaos that's a part of him today, Bruce still invests himself in science. It wasn't until the world became endangered that he actually got to use his science for the first time in years, and it had came as naturally as breathing to him. Bruce was flawless. Tony liked that more than he let on.

Tony feels a kind of kinship with Bruce. They are who they are today because of science. They're both smart enough to keep up with the other in conversation, which is an extreme relief for Tony and maybe even for Bruce too.

He puts his faith in science more than any kind of deity or force of fate, so it's fitting for him to believe that science is the thing that brought them together.

oOo

The first time Tony allows himself to openly express his more than friendly interest in their relationship to Bruce is more like stepping into a minefield without knowing where the bombs are. He's lucky he didn't end up with the Big Guy on his hands.

It had started out as a normal day, or as normal as it can be in Stark Tower. Once again they were working on something together, this time within a five foot distance of each other instead of at different sides of the room. He actually got Bruce to laugh a few times and he took them as private victories he would hoard to his grave. Tony felt good, better than good actually. His confidence was at an all time high, not that it was ever really low, and he figured it would be okay to drop the whole "I really like you, we should date" load right then. Bruce had been living with him for almost half a year now. Tony mentally said what the hell why not.

So, he mentioned it as casually and in straightforward a manner as he could, thinking Bruce would appreciate honesty. In retrospect, this was probably his first mistake.

Bruce's face turned blank, and it was like when the needle on the record scratches in the movies. Everything exploded after that.

Tony had expected a few things to happen in this kind of situation. What he hadn't anticipated was Bruce flat out yelling at him.

He tried to stay calm, and he could tell Bruce was trying much harder than he was to remain on the passive side of his anger, but they began yelling at each other nonetheless. Bruce threw out nearly every excuse in the book for why it was a bad idea, most including a variety of scenarios where Tony could end up dead for no real reason. Tony countered each and every one with what he thought were convincing arguments to Bruce's worries, because he was dead set on Bruce at least trying to be something more than a friend with him. Then Bruce tossed out a comment of how Tony's endangering himself by just having him around now, and it wasn't the first time he had said that, but it got under Tony's skin in a way that felt wrong at the time.

What he said next was, "Well, maybe you should accept who you are and stop thinking you're going to hurt everyone around you because that's just going to guarantee someone winding up hurt."

The mistake count went up to two. He could almost hear his foot stepping on the bomb that wasn't there.

Bruce stared at him for a long moment, then stormed out of the room in a rush, and Tony doesn't see him until the next morning. Bruce walks into the kitchen to get his coffee, but he doesn't say good morning.

oOo

Tony can't remember feeling so awkward in his entire life, and it's not even the type of cute awkwardness Bruce carries around with him all the time. Bruce is still here, though, and he wants to think he's left enough of an impact to make Bruce stay despit what happened the week before. Their conversations are short ad clipped now, and Bruce hole himself up as far away from Tony as he can possibly get when he's doing his work.

But if Tony Stark is one thing it's definitely persistent. When he decides he wants something, he goes after it until he gets it, no ifs, and, or buts about it. And what he wants is one insanely adorable yet awkward scientist by the name of Bruce Banner.

Not even Loki himself could stop him from pursing this relationship.

He has to salvage some of their friendship first before he can truly stake his claim, though. Tony slowly worms his way back into Bruce, and he can tell the other man is wary by the way he eyes him, but he doesn't really care. Bruce willingly allows him into some of his space, shoulders noticeably tensed, and Tony just plays it off like nothing ever went wrong in the first place.

If he's lucky, maybe the act will become the truth.

oOo

When they finally tumble into bed together, after weeks of working to reestablish the trust between them and some subtle hinting here and there, Tony isn't sure what to expect. He knows he has to be careful, more for Bruce's piece of mind than any sort of responsibility on his part. He knows Bruce is fiercely concerned about losing control, has had the fact shoved in his face all the other times he tried to get where he is now with Bruce. He also knows that he wants Bruce to lose a little control.

"Tony," Bruce breathes, and some of that hesitancy still lingers, as if he expects to turn into the big green rage monster at any moment. And maybe he will, but Tony isn't too worried about that. If Bruce does change, at least it'll give Tony an interesting story to tell later.

Bruce is laid out on his back on Tony's bed, Tony himself placed at Bruce's hips. Tony leans down and takes hold of Bruce's shaved chin, connecting their lips together hard. Bruce makes a short whimpering sound as they kiss, as if he wants to protest but can't find the right words to use.

Nothing new happens for a while, just lips and tongues and shortened breath, his relocated hands in Bruce's hair and Bruce shifting on his back. Tony breaks their kiss with one final lick into Bruce's mouth and sits back.

He takes off his black shirt and flings it carelessly over to the side, but he stays upright, wanting Bruce to look at him. The arc reactor glows in the dimly lit bedroom, and Bruce's eyes dart to it, pupils reacting slightly to the blue light. His right hand comes up and his fingers skim the edge, brushing over metal skin, and Tony really wants him to just touch it already. He pushes his chest out enough for Bruce to get the message, and that nervous laugh makes a small comeback, the sound one Tony hasn't heard in a while. He could almost say he missed it.

Fingertips tap at the glass of the arc reactor, and Bruce is almost transfixed while touching the very thing that keeps Tony alive. His eyes glance back up to Tony's face, a little shy, a little awkward, but everything in them is Bruce. And that's all Tony wanted was Bruce. All his anger, all his awkwardness, all the pent up rage that came with the Hulk inside him; he wants it all.

Tony works the buttons open on Bruce's shirt, his lips finding another pair almost on instinct. There's a sigh against his mouth when his fingers slide over Bruce's newly revealed chest, and it makes the throbbing in his pants that much worse. He scratches at a nipple with his blunt nails, just to see what will happen, and the arch and moan that follows is almost too good for him to stand. He's always pictured sexual activity with Bruce as something amazing, but the reality doesn't even compare to the hundreds of thousands of fantasies he's had over the months.

Tony sits up again. His hands go for his own belt buckle, fumbling for the button and zipper of his pants once the belt is gone. He doesn't take his jeans off once the front is fully undone, but merely pushes them and his boxers down past his ass. Another heavy kiss and he somehow undoes Bruce's pants without giving it much thought.

Bruce gasps sharply into his mouth as he slips the man's cock out from the confining underwear. The cock is pulsing in his hand as he wraps his fingers around the flesh and begins to stroke. He's leaning over Bruce, using his other arm to support his weight, watching every twitch and sign of pleasure on Bruce's face. Tony shifts his legs, his pants going further down his thighs, and adjusts until he's got both of their erections in his hand, stroking them at the same time, grinding himself up when his hand moves down.

Tony says all the things he wants to do to Bruce in the man's ear, and it's filthy and dirty and hot and Bruce is nearly incoherent under him, unable to reply with anything else other than groans and gasps, and it just boosts Tony's already super inflated ego. Bruce jerks his head away by the hair, and he has no time to dwell on the sharp pain in his scalp before they end up sharing a wet kiss, messy with need and saliva and Tony's facial hair scratching at Bruce's skin.

Tony is still stroking them both and grinding himself into Bruce, and he wants Bruce to help out down there but he's too busy with his hands in Tony's short hair to really do anything else. Bruce's eyes are hot, his mouth open with the sounds he's making, nostrils flaring in an attempt to breathe. Tony's lost his breath as well, but it's for an entirely different reason Bruce doesn't fully know about.

Bruce goes tense, his fingers gripping tighter in Tony's hair. "Tony," he groans, arching up into Tony's hand.

When Bruce comes, Tony can't think of a single moment in his life that was more perfect.

oOo

Tony is already up and about by the time Bruce joins him in the kitchen. He grins at a dressed and prepared for the day Bruce, even though he notices Bruce isn't all that thrilled to see him. He brushes it aside and walks up to Bruce, a coffee mug in each hand, and he's leaning in for a kiss, but is stopped by a hand on his chest. He's never seen Bruce look so conflicted.

"What, I don't get a morning kiss?" Tony remarks with jovial glee despite all, his face still stretched with a grin. At the moment, he honestly could not be any happier. "I think I earned it after last night, don't you?"

Bruce doesn't answer, but his cheeks tint a light pink and Tony counts it as several points in his favor. This time when he leans in for his good morning kiss, Bruce lets him invade his space all the way. Tony hums in the back of his throat as he kisses Bruce, pleased to feel those lips hesitantly moving against his own instead of staying still like he dreaded they would. He disconnects them and gets out of Bruce's personal bubble with a smile.

"Here," Tony says, handing over one of the filled coffee mugs to Bruce, who takes it quietly and looks down at it as Tony turns back to the counter. "We've got a big day ahead of us, and I don't want you falling over because you're tired or something strange like that."

"Wait, Tony," Bruce says, and when Tony turns back around, he sees Bruce's hand gripping at the coffee mug and his eyes are staring into it like his very life depends on its contents. He takes several deep breaths, clearly struggling to make the words he wants to say.

And when Bruce finally lifts his head, he looks visibly torn, tensed at his shoulders and hands, hands that Tony can remember the feel of against his skin.

"What if I'm not the person you think I am?" Bruce poses the question with a soft sort of uncertainty, as if he doesn't even know who he is anymore and doesn't really think Tony knows either. "What if I end up not being the person you want?"

If this were any other person, any other situation, those questions might have sounded a bit too preemptive, maybe even a little clingy. But Tony knows Bruce is a little insecure with who he is on some level. He expects everyone to treat him like a monster because he thinks he is one, which is why Tony treating the Hulk like something cool baffles him to no end. He thinks no one will want him around if they know what's lurking inside him just waiting to come out and smash a couple buildings or ten.

But there's one little flaw in Bruce's argument, one tiny thing that makes all his excuses and fears null and void.

Tony scoffs. "You're kidding, right?" he asks in a playfully disbelieving tone, and Bruce just looks at him as if he's grown a second head through some means he can't possibly wrap his scientific brain around. But Tony smiles like he's got the secret to the universe right in his back pocket and says, "We'll be perfect science boyfriends, Bruce."

Tony Stark does not deal in what ifs.


/screams because that just happened and oh my god I can't believe I did this I'm gonna be shot for even attempting to write this pairing oh god what have I done glaaaaaaaah

So. Like. I burn so hard for Tony/Bruce. So hard. Science boyfriends for life. ;w;

Also, uh, this is my first time writing anything for a movie. I'm way more used to my anime and video game territory, and I didn't even write anything during my obsession with Inception, but then the Avengers came out and all I've been able to think about since is science boyfriends. Yeah.

Review please. [Be gentle. ;~;]