A/N: Hi everyone! I know, I know I'm a little late on the uptake. Everyone is in love with the Avengers, and everyone has published faster than I have- but I hope this is good enough that I'm slow start won't matter.
This is based on not just the Avenger's universe, but the entire Marvel one. I hope you enjoy it, however, and hopefully it's well enough knit together that it keeps people interested.
Thank you, by the way, for reading! You're so awesome-
And now, to the story.
She was late- oh she was late. Her flight was leaving soon- why hadn't she just woken up ten minutes earlier? They were probably calling boarding right about now and she had barely gotten through security.
Stephanie Haven slipped her shoes on, tossing her book bag over her shoulders and hauling her carry on duffle bag off the security conveyer belt. She tugged her blond hair out from under the straps of her book bag after she slung it over her shoulders, making for the escalator up to her terminal, scuffing one shoe to get it more firmly on her foot. She didn't have time for shoe laces- she was going to miss her flight-
She booked it up the airport escalator, hauling her carry on through the crowd and called apologies after her as she made for her gate, bumping into almost everyone she saw on accident- was there no one safe from her today?
And slammed right into a man with a coffee cup.
Coffee spewed everywhere, sinking into her clothes and burning its way to her skin. She hissed under her breathe.
Apparently no one was safe. Including herself.
"Oh my - , I'm so sorry," the man said, but she barely heard him, trying to wipe the stuff from her clothes. It was too late- they were already ruined. Her new white shirt she'd bought was stained for good.
"It's ok," she told him automatically. It would be ok- she had a spare outfit or two in her carry on. Ever since she lost her luggage on her trip home last summer, she knew to bring something along with her. "Don't worry about it-," his hand darted out, trying to use a napkin to get rid of the coffee, dabbing it away. She looked up at him for the first time.
He was stooped, concentrating, wearing a pair of respectable glasses- and underneath those glasses-.
She blushed immediately, backing out of his reach. He looked up at her, met her eyes with those eyes.
"Really, its fine," she told him awkwardly, backing farther.
His brow furrowed, clear concern on his face, his dark eyes still holding hers.
She had to go; she was going to be late. "I'm sorry about your coffee!" she told him, turning, catching one more glimpse of those eyes, before heading towards terminal A, half running.
His eyes, those dark, bright eyes- who knew that black eyes could be light, kind?- looking up into them had been- she was still processing everything that had just happened. He had been so attractive, and she had just shied away. She was really good at shying away, so she supposed it didn't matter. She would never see him again anyways-
And they were boarding- right as she skipped to a stop at the gate, panting. The ticket lady looked at her disapprovingly as she got in line, but she didn't care. She had made it. She was heading home.
Home was in Germany at the moment. Her father was in the military, which meant home was where the Army sent them. Now in college, it meant separation for her mostly. That was normal, she guessed, but she was only supposed to be an hour or two away, not a day, or more.
Now she was traveling home for her brother's high school graduation. She had a plane transfer in New York, and then on to the Frankfurt airport. She was jittery with excitement. Seeing her family again put the smile right back on her face.
It was a pity she didn't have time to change her outfit though. The smell of coffee gave her a head ache. She would just have to block it out for the next few hours, until New York where she had a four hour layover. She could do her hair there too. It was up in the messiest bun she'd ever created.
The lady took her ticket, and gave her another disapproving look. Stephanie smiled apologetically, ducking past.
Sighing, she stepped into a very familiar tunnel that led to the plane, relieved. Home again, home again, On the road again. She smiled to herself, sleepiness already stirring in her. Planes always made her tired. It was her natural instinct to sleep on planes, car rides, trains, anything after more than an hour of travel. She loved take off too much to miss it though, and Frontier airlines had some of the worst pilots. It meant more excitement in the take-off and landing.
There was probably something psychologically wrong with her thinking that. Freud in his time would probably have loved to examine her. She liked dangerous situations too much, and she often feigned fear in order to fit in. For example, wincing at the sight of blood. She didn't mind it really; it was just how she was supposed to react.
She shook her head, moving up in the line, looking up to see people filing into the aisle of the plane. She had seat A12, according to her ticket stub. Over the wing probably.
It was a small plane, but most Frontier planes were, with seating from A to F. She shoved her carry on duffle in an overhead bin, and slung herself into the seat- there was no one in B or C, unusual, especially since she was one of the last people on. Not that she minded. She'd been crammed against grandmothers and overly large men with tattoos and snoring habits akin to a monster truck more often than she could count. As it was she stretched out, pulling her book bag off her back and reaching for her drawing pad. It'd be a long time before they were off the tar mat.
She got to sketching. It was her past time, something she loved dearly to do. It let her escape easily, let her capture an idea permanently. She was drawing a pair of black but light eyes when someone sat down next to her. Holding a Styrofoam coffee cup.
She looked up, startled, and met the eyes she had been shaping on her sketch pad.
Those eyes were still there, no longer shrouded by glasses. She hadn't just been seeing her drawing page double.
"Hi," he said awkwardly, his mouth quirking to one side.
"Oh my gosh," she shook herself into reality. "I-."
"Hey, there," he smiled more fully, and she felt herself beam and blush, ducking her head away. "Wow-."
"It's, a small world," she laughed lightly, forcing herself to look back up into his face.
"It is," he agreed heartily.
"I'm sorry about your coffee earlier," she said, glancing at his new cup. "I probably should have paid for that."
"Oh, no-," he looked at it, "it was me, I was not paying attention to where I was going at all-."
"I was running, and not paying attention, so, I think I'll take the blame for this one," she smiled cordially.
"Not a chance," he smiled, his black eyes sparking. They paused, and she took him in- his button up shirt, his hair black and mussed. He had taken off his glasses, and stuck them in his front pocket. He had some stubble, as was the style these days, but underneath that was a rugged jaw-
What was she doing?
"I'm Bruce, Bruce Banner," he told her, a smile on his face. She liked his smile immensely. An alliteration name, she thought to herself. He switched his coffee cup into his other hand, and stretched out his hand to her.
She put her pencil down and took it, "Stephanie Haven," she nodded, beaming. "It's nice to meet you."
"Again," he gestured at her shirt as he let go.
"Again," she shook her head in embarrassment.
He grimaced in concern, "I'm sorry about that."
She put her hands up, "No, don't be. Trust me, it happens all the time," she assured him truthfully. It did happen all the time. She wasn't exactly the most graceful human being.
An older gentleman sat down next to Bruce Banner, holding his cane as he eased into the seat. Bruce Banner grabbed his jacket from it, and helped the man down.
"Thank you son," he said croakily.
"It's not a problem sir," Bruce Banner said politely.
Stephanie couldn't help but smile.
They were interrupted by the voice overhead, demanding their attention for the safety procedures. She heard Bruce Banner chuckle under his breath, and mutter something along the lines of, "As though crashing were the biggest problem on this plane."
She glanced at him sideways, before looking out of the window. It was not her first flight, and it most definitely would not be her last. She knew the safety procedures backwards, not that she had ever needed them or been particularly interested, but she'd heard them so many times it was firmly ingrained in her memory.
Next to her though Bruce Banner was tensing up. Not a frequent flier, she guessed. She felt the plane backing up from the gate. He made to grab the armrest, but her hand was already there. She let go of it instantly, as though shocked, and folded her hand back in her lap. She still didn't dare look at him. He made her nervous. Not in a bad way, but in a way that made butterflies appear in digestion organs where they should not be.
"They always have to say those precautionaries, don't they?" he grumbled anxiously.
"Yep," she said, turning back to him with a half smile. His shoulders where hunched. She felt her smile widen, "Don't fly much?" she queried.
"I haven't been on a plane like this in years," he breathed, closing his eyes as the plane's engines revved, and taking a seemingly swig of his coffee, before crumpling it in his hand. A plane like this? Was he used to first class or something?
"How come?" she asked. Flying was something she enjoyed. She was pretty comfortable with it.
"I get a little green," he smiled, as though it were an inside joke.
"You're not going to throw up on me are you?" she wanted to know, balking, her stomach twisting uncomfortably.
He chuckled, "No, probably not."
"I have motion sickness pills, if you need them," she told him, making to dig in her book bag, shifting her drawing pad next to her. Her grandmother had given her everything she could possibly want pill wise- motion sickness, head ache, cold and flu. Be prepared for anything, she'd told her.
He touched her on the arm, and she looked up, to see him smiling with that inside joke gleaming in his eye, shaking his head, "No, but thank you."
"You sure?" she affirmed, sitting up.
"Yes, I'm sure," he nodded. "Pills, don't really affect me."
"Would you mind if I took a couple of those, sweetheart?" the older gentleman smiled at her from across Bruce. "I get a bit queasy, and those knock me right out."
"Of course," Stephanie smiled, and went back to rummaging in her bag. She found the pills, and handed over her tiny, unopened water bottle that she had snuck in through security. Water bottles in airports were expensive as heck, which was why she'd brought this one, but she didn't mind giving up the bottle. She knew how much dry swallowing pills bothered people.
"Thank you," he smiled gratefully through his wrinkles, taking his old fedora off, and putting it in his lap where his cane rested between his knees. He took the pills from her, and the water bottle, and she tried to keep from touching Bruce Banner as she handed them over. The gentleman smiled, unscrewing the cap, "Nice wife you got there," he gestured at Stephanie with the bottle, looking at Bruce suggestively.
"Oh no," Stephanie said immediately, eyes wide, putting her hands up.
Bruce shook his head quickly, "We're not-."
"-I'm not his-," Stephanie pointed to herself as the old man's bushy brows raised higher and higher.
Bruce pointed at her, still shaking his head, "She isn't my-."
"We're not-," she gestured to both of them.
"Together," they ended together in unison, and looked at each other in surprise, before Stephanie ducked her head, sure she was blushing furiously.
The man chuckled heartily, popping the pair of pills and swallowing. "I know, it's just always so fun to make you young people squirm," he said cheekily, which only made Stephanie titter forcefully, and Bruce smiled hesitantly.
Oh how embarrassing, Stephanie thought to herself, sitting back in her seat, covering her mouth with her hand. She was wondering if the flight could possibly get anymore convoluted just as the plane turned into the runway, pausing as the engines revved loud. Take off. Stephanie smiled as the plane rumbled underneath them.
They were rocketing into the sky, and Stephanie continued to gaze over the mountains, scattered with houses. Though she definitely wasn't the biggest fan of heights, being in an airplane never scared her. The clouds were always a comfort, and the land was so far below that she didn't have to think about it really. She'd always felt pretty safe in an aircraft. Well, her dad did fly helicopters for a living. Maybe she had got it from him.
She looked over to see Bruce breathing shallowly, his eyes closed.
She stared at him in alarm. "Are you ok?" she asked him over the roar of the engine, and a wan smile appeared on his face, but he didn't say anything, and it looked forced.
The airplane finally reached its altitude, steadying, and she watched as his breathing steadied as the fasten seatbelt sign overhead binged off.
"You ok?" she repeated, wanting to know, looking into his face.
He opened his eyes grudgingly, and only slightly. "No, not really."
"Do you want a sleeping pill? You could just dream through it," she smiled half heartedly. It was an odd concept to her, to be afraid of airplanes.
"Pills don't work," he told her through gritted teeth.
"Are you sure?" she was concerned, leaning farther forward.
He just nodded, closing his eyes again. She bit her lip again. "You're going to be alright," she told him gently, but over the airplane's engine she was sure he couldn't hear it.
It surprised her when he responded, "I'm not so much worried about me, as the rest of you." That really surprised her, but before she could ask, he muttered under his breath, "I'm going to kill Stark."
"Who?" she asked before she realized it was probably impertinent to ask.
It was his turn to be startled, not knowing he'd been overheard. "My friend I'm meeting in New York."
"Oh, yeah." Sometimes she forgot that not everyone would connect out of New York. The question had seemed to calm him down a bit, so another question then? "So what are you planning to do in New York?"
"Business," he answered vaguely.
"So not just traveling," she smiled encouragingly.
"You couldn't get me into one of these things just to go sightseeing," he told her, his tone was relaxing and wonderfully sarcastic.
"I don't know. I hear it's a great place to visit," she thought aloud. She'd always wanted to visit, since the last time she had been sightseeing in New York was when she was four.
He opened his eyes to glance at her sideways, "I wouldn't say that, not after what happened last year."
She hadn't forgotten the invasion of Earth that had happened in New York last year, where a god from another planet, a super soldier from the 40s, Iron Man, and the green monster that was known as the Hulk had protected Earth from the invaders, along with a few unidentified people. It had made alien life forms a reality for one thing, but also? It had combined some of Earth's biggest heroes together to make a team called the Avengers. Iron Man had been very public about the whole thing, and she'd followed the entire thing. She'd helped put together and send care packages to New York with her church all that summer, and through part of the fall. She had wanted to go to New York, to volunteer as with the Red Cross, but, her grandmother had died, and she had stayed for the funeral. The invasion in New York had been a detriment to the world for a while, like what had happened September 11th on steroids, and a lot of good people had died that day.
And despite all that, she had wished she had been there to see what had happened, to have lived it.
"I don't know. It sounds- adventurous," she tilted her head at him with a quick grin.
He shook his head, "I was there that day."
"You were?" she gasped, instantly intrigued.
"Yes," he grinned slightly at her enthusiasm, but looked distant as he said, "It wasn't as exciting as you're thinking."
"Says you," she told him, sitting up eagerly. "What was it like?"
"A lot of flashing lights and screaming," he replied, "Buildings collapsing around your ears. You know, the regular," he was being sarcastic. The light glint in his eye was back.
"The regular," she repeated, rolling her eyes. "So did you see any of them?"
He raised his eyebrows, "Of who?"
"The team- the Avengers," she wanted to know.
"Yeah," he nodded casually, pulling a face. "All of them."
"Seriously?" she was amazed, "You must have been in the middle of the action!"
"I was, as a matter of fact," he turned a bit to face her more fully, an inside joke in his eyes again as he half smiled.
"You saw Captain America then?" she realized too late that she sounded a little like a fan girl. She was nearly twenty five. She didn't need to sound so ridiculous.
"I did," he nodded at her, eyeing her apprehensively.
She smiled dreamily, "I heard he's been frozen in ice for something like 70 years, and that he still loves a girl from then." It wasn't exactly strictly her fault that she was infatuated with the Captain. Her father, a WWII expert, had taught her most of his exploits against Red Skull as he had grown up.
Bruce faced forward, his expression calculated, "That about covers it."
"Sorry," she made a face, leaning forward subconsciously, "Hopeless romantic."
He nodded, and then shook his head with a smile, "Yeah, I don't get that." She laughed with him for a minute.
"So," she moved the conversation on, since he seemingly didn't want to talk about last summer. Maybe it had been too horrifying to really remember. She should have been more thoughtful, "What do you do for a living?" Stupid question, she chastised herself too late.
"I'm a doctor," he smiled appreciatively.
Not a stupid question, she acknowledged. "Oh really? What kind?"
"The kind that fixes people up," he said, his black eyes sparking.
She rolled her eyes sarcastically, "I meant pediatrician, or something like that."
"Oh, well, I used to research gamma radiation and its effects, but," he shrugged, and then he looked to her. Gamma radiation. She knew only what her few physics classes in college had had to say about it, and that was all.
She nodded, as though she understood, and then shook her head just like he had, "Yeah I wouldn't get that."
"What do you do?" he asked her politely.
"I work at a high school as an aid," she looked at the backs of her hands, "I work with the post high school students."
"Special Education?" he asked her.
"Yes," she nodded, surprised that he knew what post high really meant, feeling a bit morose as she gazed down. Her hands were scarred from one of her student's abuses, and they still had yet to fade. Some of her wounds were still scabbing over, and the place she'd been bitten was still plainly obvious.
"What happened?" he asked, taking her hand to examine it.
Her answer caught in her throat for a moment, before she managed to say, "I have a student who doesn't understand- how to communicate, or anything else- except for hitting, and, occasionally-."
"These look like bite marks," he was disturbed, she could hear it. She made to tug her hand away, but he held it tight, but gentle. How was that possible? "If I had -."
"I promise, Neosporin's fine," she smiled, tugging again, and he let her hand go. "Thanks anyways Doc."
He smiled at that, but he was still perturbed, "Why do you stay?" he wanted to know.
She looked at her hands again, "I really like it-, and it's only temporary until I graduate."
"Graduate?" he questioned her, his brows furrowing.
"I'm still a student," she proffered uneasily.
"Oh, you're young," he winced away from her with a grin.
She twisted her mouth, "Not really- I'm getting my master's degree."
"In what?" he inquired politely.
"Psychology," she answered automatically.
He gave her a crooked smile, leaning in, "And how do you feel about that?"
"I-," and then she laughed as she realized his joke in his eyes. He laughed with her, and she liked the sound of it.
"How come psychology?" he wondered.
"Well, I just have always been interested in how the mind works. Emotion intrigues me," she said with a shrug, "And how it all figures out in the end. People have been telling me to go into it for ages."
He nodded slightly, looking forward. "The mind - holds great power."
She agreed whole heartedly.
"You're not going to ask me about my childhood now, are you?" he smiled teasingly.
"If it comes up, maybe," she teased right back.
"Oh I hope not," he settled back into his chair.
Next to him the old man had clocked out, leaning towards Bruce's shoulder. She was feeling sleep stir again. Traveling really was something she did best when she slept. But she didn't want to sleep now. She was enjoying talking with Bruce, but even as their conversation continued she felt her eyelids drooping, and she yawned, though she tried to hide them.
He was grinning broadly as she came back from her last yawn.
"Tired?" he asked teasingly.
"Sorry," she told him apologetically, stretching in her seat slightly. "I normally sleep on airplanes."
"You can still sleep, you know," he smiled.
"No," she said, sitting up straighter, pulling herself together. She was sure as heck going to stay awake. She was not going to sleep through this flight. She could sleep later. "You could sleep too you know- it'd be easier-." But then she looked at the coffee cup. "Or, maybe not."
He followed her train of vision, "Oh that?" he raised his eyebrows at her, and then smiled, "That's," he chuckled, "that's decaf."
Another inside joke, she could tell by his eyes. She wondered what it was. She liked that he had them, but she still wanted to know.
After a while, the drink cart came along, the flight attendant asking them if they would like anything.
"Water," Stephanie told the flight attendant with a nod.
"Orange Juice, if you have any?" Bruce said tentatively, his face quirking. Stephanie smiled as the attendant assured him they had some. Bruce shrugged at her over his shoulder, and she laughed quietly.
The sun was setting out the window quickly. Traveling forward in time did that. She leaned to look out at the clouds, peaceful as the world began to change colors. Bruce tapped her shoulder, handing her her drink.
"Thanks," she smiled, taking a sip and opening her tray table. "So why don't you like flying? Are you afraid of heights?"
Bruce snorted into his drink, "No," he said, "I'm not afraid of heights," he smiled again, that inside joke again, and she wanted to know what it was.
"So what is it?" she asked, setting her cup down on her tray table.
He looked at her her sideways, "This isn't you psychoanalyzing me, is it?"
"No. I'm not even certified," she rolled her eyes, and pressed on, "Really, what is it?"
"Claustiphobia, I guess?" he made a face, obviously uncomfortable. "It's – complicated."
She nodded, "Keep going."
He laughed, "Why are you so comfortable with flying?"
"My dad's in the military so I travel a lot- oh, I see what you did there," she narrowed her eyes at him, "Reverse psychology."
"Something you should know about," he said before taking a sip. "You're dad's in the military?" he asked, suddenly wary, "What branch?"
She sat up proudly, "The Army, the only way to go."
"Spoken like a true Army brat," he acknowledged.
"Hey," she twisted her mouth at him. He was chuckling though. She took another sip of her drink, looking out of the window again. It was almost sun down, the clouds gilded gold. She was suddenly sleepy again. "What about your parents?"
"Ah, I thought we weren't going to get into childhoods," he reminded her, looking at her sideways.
"Parents aren't childhood," she pointed out.
"Close enough," he responded.
"Fine," she made a face, "How about what you're going to do in New York?"
He just smiled at her. All enigma then.
She covered a yawn, and then half joked, "If you're going to be this talkative, I think I will fall asleep."
"I think, that it might do you some good," he told her.
That surprised her.
She was bothering him, she realized too late. All her self confidence from a moment ago crumbled under that sentence. He wanted her to sleep, so he could have some peace, probably read a book or something on gamma radiation or whatever. She was distracting him. She'd been so one minded the minute she'd seen him she hadn't even considered that he could be annoyed.
"Right," she nodded to herself, settling herself back in her seat leaning away from him, looking out of the window. "See you on the other side then, Bruce Banner."
"Oh," he said, "See you there."
She closed her eyes, and she was almost instantly asleep, travel mode taking over almost automatically, though her last thought was one of regret. Oh well. They would get off the plane and she would never see Bruce Banner again.
She awoke to the plane dipping down, waking her like it always did. She blinked groggily, and then realized too late that she was leaning on Bruce's shoulder. She straightened immediately, horrified. She had never, in all her flying years, done that before. But Bruce didn't seem to notice. His own head was tilted back, and for a moment she thought he was asleep, but really, he was concentrating, his eyes shut closed.
G force was carrying them down, down, her stomach rising with each dip. She knew that probably did not help Bruce at all, especially if he was afraid of flying. She sat up to look at him, but something slid off of her- she caught it before it slid to the ground. Holding it up, she realized it was a jacket. Not her jacket she realized- she had folded it away into her carryon luggage.
Bruce's jacket. She smiled.
"Flight attendants prepare for arrival," the pilot said through the overhead mike as the plane sailed downwards.
Turbulence rocked the plane as they descended, and. Curse Frontier's bad pilots, she thought savagely as Bruce gritted his teeth.
He opened his eyes the minute the airplane slowed to a smooth stop at the gate.
"Hey, how are ya there?" she wanted to know, touching his shoulder. "You ok?" she prompted when he didn't respond.
"Yes. Yes," he was telling himself more than he was telling her. "Let me get off this ride," he grumbled as the cabin depressurized.
She laughed, "Almost there. I think this is yours?" she said, holding up the jacket.
He stared at it for a moment, and then nodded, "Oh- yes." He took it from her, and she smiled at his kindness.
"Thank you," she told him.
People were standing up, pulling their bags out of the overhead compartments as the flight attendant said, "Welcome to the JFK airport in New York, we hope you had a nice flight, and hope to be flying with you again soon."
"Not likely," Bruce muttered under his breath.
Stephanie laughed quietly, pulling her book bag up out from under the chair in front of her. She stood up, and knocked her head against the roof. Wincing, she looked to see if he had been watching. He had, he looked at her with worry, but she shook it off, rolling her eyes at her own stupidity when he looked away.
Filing out of the airplane was always one of her least favorite activities. She bumped her way down the aisle, following far behind Bruce to where he looked back at her as though to hurry up, but she didn't want to. She'd fallen headlong down one of these aisles before, and crashed her way into someone. She was not going to chance it now.
He waited for her in the tunnel, his bag slung over one shoulder and his other arm holding his jacket with his hand stuck in his pocket. He looked up at her when she stepped out of the plane and she smiled broadly at him. They began to walk together up the ramp.
"Glad to be off?" she asked him.
He nodded fervently, looking at the ground, and then a smile cracked and he was half laughing.
They were emerging from the tunnel, and Stephanie felt her heart pang. She'd never really done this before, made friends so fast on an airplane. Normally it was a couple she got acquainted with, or a family, but this. This was completely foreign. She didn't want to say good bye, but she knew perfectly well how irrational that was. She was going to see her family in Germany. She was never going to see Bruce Banner again.
They stopped near one of the walls of windows, and she knew full well they were going to have to say goodbye. He was a perfect stranger, albeit a perfect stranger that had nearly crushed her hand twice, but, a stranger none the less. She didn't need to get all choked up about it.
"So," she smiled sadly, turning to face him as the glaring overhead lights, and the dull yellow lamps outside the window conflicted on his face, "It was nice to meet you, Bruce Banner." She held her duffle bag in front of her, feeling it swing against her legs.
"It was nice to meet you too, Stephanie Haven," he had been looking at his feet but when he said her name he met her eyes with his, "And I'm still sorry-." He gestured at her shirt again, "If you were staying in New York I'd have it dry-cleaned."
"No, I'm heading to Frankfurt, so," she motioned towards another part of the airport, "But I'm glad I bumped into you. I probably wouldn't have been brave enough to talk to you otherwise."
"Brave enough?" he questioned, his eyebrows rising.
She'd said too much. Well, she never was going to see him again anyways, she mentally shrugged, so why not? "Well, good looking guy sits next to you on a plane? I can't ever think of good conversation starters as it is."
He laughed, obviously embarrassed, "Well, thanks," he added, looking out the huge window.
"Oh-," she didn't know what she was being thanked, "It's- not a problem," she smiled, and offered her hand. He took it warmly, and for a split second too long she got caught in his eyes, the black bright eyes.
And then, the glass from the window shattered around them.
The air seemed to slice apart before her eyes, and she was tumbling, falling- someone was helping her fall, curling her head down, to the side-
Too quickly Stephanie fell flat from the blast, and something rocketed over head, followed by another, sleeker sound. Her hair blew over her head, so she could only see through the blond strands, and she was keenly aware that Bruce had fallen on top of her, was covering her head with his hand. She looked through her hair and up to see a man with a jet pack being chased around by-
"Iron Man!" she gasped in amazement.
"What the hell is going on," muttered Bruce, standing up more fluidly then she would have guessed he could, his question sounding much more like a statement. He helped her to her feet as screams and shouts started to resound in Stephanie's ringing ears, and handed her his carryon bag, and jacket, "Get somewhere safe," he told her, meeting her eyes firmly, before running forward.
"But!" she called out, stepping forward, but then he was lost in the shrieking crowd. A security guard grabbed her arm, was hauling her away.
She stooped out of the security guard's reach to grab her duffle, gathered both those bags, and with one on her back, along with Bruce's jacket, she followed everyone as the security tried to get them out. She was forced into following the crowd else get trampled, but she kept looking over her shoulder, trying to see what was going on. She couldn't see Bruce anywhere.
There was a boom the rocked the ground underneath her. She wasn't the only one who fell forward, but immediately she was being stampeded on as a fresh wave of people shrieked, surging over her. Panicked, she shoved to get out of the way, making for the wall- grabbing the bags she dragged them into a bathroom, and collapsed against the wall. She'd lost Bruce's jacket in the mayhem-
She gasped as she clung to Bruce's bag. What the heck was going on?
She glanced out around the wall bravely. Almost everyone had evacuated, leaving her and a few stragglers- and Iron Man.
He was hovering seven feet in the air, obviously scouring for the first person on a jet pack, gleaming red and gold in his metal suit. An Avenger, right before her eyes. The most popular Avenger, she could even dare say. She couldn't believe it.
"Come out, come out wherever you are," Iron Man called, the automated voice dead panned and rather more menacing than when he was out of the suit, in Tony Stark form, levitating over a moving walk way. "You can't hide in here forever."
"I see you came to pick me up early," - was that Bruce? It was! He was on the moving walk way, leaning against the side as it brought him towards Iron Man, speaking to him as casual as could be. She couldn't process- how did they know each other?
"You know, got bored waiting in the lobby- area, so I brought the party to you," and the helmet came off to reveal the face of Tony Stark. He hovered lower, "How've you been?" he asked quickly, like it was an afterthought.
"I've been better," Bruce said casually, hands in his pockets as he stepped off the walk way, "Have I mentioned how much I hate airplanes?
"Yeah, but this couldn't wait," Tony Stark said off-handedly.
"If it were that important S.H.I.E.L.D. would have flown me out here," Bruce harrumphed, gesturing out.
"S.H.I.E.L.D. didn't need you- I did," Tony said, his eyes flickering around the room.
Bruce shook his head with a smile. "What for?"
"Pepper and I are getting married," Tony Stark said with a half smile thrown in Bruce's direction, though he wasn't looking at him, "Thought you'd want to come to witness, or, whatever."
That obviously had caught Bruce off guard, "Married? You?"
"Why does everybody sound so surprised?" Tony Stark seemed miffed, "I'm sorry I didn't get you one of my planes- it would have taken it longer to fly out there. I probably should have bought you one there on the spot but, didn't think about it."
"Yeah, I thought I'd at least get first class or something," Bruce said sarcastically.
"Red Eye ticket," shrugged Iron Man distractedly. "I'll get you a better flight home."
"No, thank you," Bruce sounded like he was going to be sick, but his friend was still searching the room with his eyes. "Need help?"Bruce reached for his glasses in his front pocket, but they had snapped- in two from the looks of it. Bruce made a face.
"Nope. I don't think an enormous green rage monster- got him," the helmet shut over his face as he lifted off, having found the target.
"You owe me a new pair of glasses," Bruce called to him as bullets tinged off of the Iron Man suit.
"Four eyes," Iron Man's metal voice saying it made Stephanie laugh, catching Bruce's attention.
He looked at her, wide eyed, his hand coming out of his pocket, "Stephanie-"
A bullet caught him in his chest- Stephanie felt herself cry out, leaping out of her hiding place just as another explosion shook the floor. She fell over, looked up immediately to see Bruce getting off the floor- she gasped- she'd seen him collapse just a moment ago- she'd been sure he'd been shot.
He was kneeling on all fours, shaking. The muscles in his forearms bulged-
Stephanie scrambled to get to her feet-
Something seared her leg- she heard a scream, her vision blackening- she felt herself collapse again as she clutched at her leg, her mind filled with the fire that had lit on her thigh. Her hand came away bloody-
A roar unlike anything she'd ever heard before wrecked the silence. She looked up as something massive shadowed over her, barreling towards her. She gasped, covered her head, but it ran past, big and- green.
She stared in disbelief, looking from where Bruce had been to where the Hulk was now, put two and two together-
"Really?" she asked aloud as she watched the person with a jet pack be plucked out of the sky by one of the Hulk's huge hands, not ten feet away. She felt her mouth tilt upwards. The Hulk slammed the terrorist with the jet pack into the ground, and tore the jet pack off with a roar.
"Incredible," she breathed, making to stand, and then her leg spasmed in protest. Gritting her teeth, she stood, holding her wound. By the looks of it shed only been grazed, barely grazed, but her pant leg was still gruesome looking. It burned- but she couldn't miss-
"Alright, there buddy, I think you got him," Iron Man said, setting down next to the Hulk, picking up the bad guy by the scruff of the neck, but with a whack, a giant green hand sent both Iron Man and the unconscious man flying, knocking into a metal pillar. Iron Man panged against it, and if the jet pack guy hadn't been unconscious, he certainly was now.
With a bellow of rage, the Hulk began to tear up the terminal, and people that had been cowering or crowding around with camera phones now screamed, making to run.
Stephanie blanched. Those people-
Iron Man was in front of the Hulk, corralling him. "Power down there big guy-"
But the Hulk made to thwack him out of the way. Iron Man dodged, "Perfect," she heard him grumble, just before the Hulk grabbed him by the leg and slammed him down through the floor into the cement, before the giant turned to wage war on the rest of the airport.
Iron Man was pulling himself out of the debris with a groan when Stephanie found herself passing him, running even, despite her leg.
"Bruce!" she called as he pulled apart a trash can and threw it across the terminal into a wall on the far end.
"BRUCE!"She flung herself in front of him, and realized too late how incredibly stupid that decision had been, arms spread to stop his assault.
He roared, looking down at her, meeting her gaze.
She leaned forward, touched his knee with both of hers- and mid roar he froze. His eyes fastened on hers, and she locked them there. She wanted that bright black gaze, with the sarcastic glint. She knew it was in there.
And suddenly he was shrinking, his skin color changing. Her hands dropped from his knee, but she continued to gaze. He was still staring at her when his eyes were back, bright and surprised- he staggered forward, grabbing her arms near her shoulders.
He was blinking in amazement, and all too soon she realized he was completely naked- she blushed furiously. "Stephan-,"
And then his eyes rolled up into his head and he collapsed on her. She yelped, making to hold him up, when Iron Man set down next to her.
"Sorry," he said easily through the suit, "he normally keeps his pants on at parties."
That didn't help her blush at all as she grappled to keep him standing.
Stepping forward, he looked her up and down with his mask still on. It was more than a little eerie, but she couldn't back away, with her arms full of Bruce Banner. She was already cracking under the weight of him, her leg making her quaver unsteadily. Iron Man's mask came up to look at her more fully, Stark's big eyes calculating.
"Um, help?" she asked timidly, her voice shaking, before her knees buckled and she fell backwards, her head smacking on the floor.
"Who are you?" Tony Stark asked quizzically, leaning over them as she gazed skyward, the world tunneling to black.
A/N: Alright guys, what did you think? I know it was a lot to read, but I just couldn't see anywhere to cut it off…
Anyways, feedback would be whole heartedly appreciated!
Thank you so much for reading again!