Author's Note- Oh look, more Science Boyfriends! This is just some angst and fluff I wrote with TheMorticiansDaughter (who has a lot of wonderful stuff you should read).
Awww thank you. But anyway. I'm casually writing in italicized boldness like a boss. We really hope you guys like it and it plays with your feels as much as it did with ours. xD
Note: We don't own the Avengers (unfortunately, or Tony and Bruce would have hooked up ages ago) and we'd really like reviews if you have them! Thank you!
The six Avengers, seated around a round table, barely looked at one another. Fury stood a few feet from the table, back to them all, but it was obvious what this was about. He was angry, and it radiated from him. Even Tony, who would ordinarily be making some stupid comment about this, something involving the phrase 'team bonding', was silent. When Fury turned to them, his face was as hard as ever, the one visible eye roving over all of them.
"We have a problem." No elaboration, no information. The eye settled itself first on Tony and then on Bruce, seated across from one another and not even making eye contact. "A security problem."
"A security problem?" Natasha's mouth pinched at the corners and opened again, as if she had more to say, but Fury pressed on.
"My intent in forming the Avengers Initiative was to bring the six of you together to fight things we have no other way of fighting. This requires a certain amount of...trust and reliance on one another." Dramatic pause. "However, I've recently discovered that two of you are placing yourselves and the rest of the team in danger." The eye traveled back and forth again. "I cannot tolerate this. You, Mr. Banner, should know better than to so personally involve yourself with a team member that it could interfere with your judgement. As for you Mr. Stark, I am finding myself realizing that I should have expected something like this."
"But wait." Natasha's voice began just as Fury's cut off, and she leaned forward on the table. "Doesn't that increase 'trust and reliance', being involved with someone?" She stole a quick glance at Clint before returning her gaze to the man who stood at the head of the table.
"I agree." Clint nodded.
"It's not a question as to whether or not you agree," Fury snapped. "This is a problem. You are a team. You are going to solve this problem as a team. I have a meeting with the Directors. I want this fixed before anyone else hears about it."
As soon as he had swept out of the room,Thor began to speak.
"I see not his purpose," he said quietly, his eyes on the table. "I cannot fathom why he would seek to break bonds between us...whatever those bonds may be."
Natasha shook her head and rested her forehead on her fist. "That's what Fury's all about," she replied. "He doesn't want any of us involved. He wants us assembled to save the Earth or whatever, not fall in love." She looked at Tony, who, despite this conversation about his love life, had remained unusually silent.
Clint nodded again. "I can't see what he wants us to do here, really."
"He wants us to end it." Bruce finally spoke for the first time, sending the others into silence. "That's what he wants, isn't that obvious enough? He wants everything between us to be over. He doesn't care about our special 'bonds' or any of that. He wants platonic relationships and nothing more. That's it."
Clint, who was sitting next to Natasha, narrowed his eyes. "You could have been more...discreet, yes, but that doesn't mean-"
"Discreet?" Tony had finally snapped. "I don't think all of you showing up unannounced at my house is a lack of discretion, Bird's Eye."
"Then maybe you should have done it in a more private place," Steve snapped. "Fury's right. We're not going to get anywhere with our duties with this... distraction."
"This isn't the 1940s anymore," Natasha reminded him.
"I didn't say whether or not I find it wrong." Steve continued. "I'm merely saying that a romantic relationship between team members is distracting and unnecessary."
"How is it distracting to you if it's between us?" Tony inquired, his arms crossed over his chest as they had been the entire time. "A relationship is between two people, Steve, and last time I checked you weren't one of them."
"I refuse to let my safety be compromised by yours and Dr. Banner's relationship."
"Safety?" Tony repeated, chuckling humorlessly. "Your safety? Are you afraid that the intensity of our romance will shatter the building and you'll be crushed by the pieces? What safety?"
"Is that what it's called these days? Romance? Because what I saw looked nothing like romance."
"What do you know, Captain I've-Never-Been-On-A-Date?" Natasha put in.
"You said love was for children!"
"Enough!" Thor brought his hand down on the table. "As I see it, we have many choices before us. We must pick one and be united by it."
"I'll leave then." Bruce was quiet. "I put you all in danger anyway. If anyone goes, it should be me."
Tony fell silent for a moment, ending his death glare at Steve to look at his partner. "No. Nobody's leaving."
"Then what are we left with?" Clint asked. "I don't like the idea of anyone leaving, but it does seem to be the most practical. But I don't think it would necessarily have to be Dr. Banner!" he added, noticing the angry look on Tony's face.
"It has to happen eventually, Clint." Bruce stood up and paced slowly towards a window. "Didn't I already say it once? Fury called us a team. We're not a team. I told you all, it's only a matter of time until it all falls apart. We're a time bomb."
"That doesn't mean you have play martyr," Natasha snapped. "Conflict is inevitable in a group, but this isn't our conflict. This is Fury's problem that he's forced on us."
"It's not even a problem," Tony said. "It's... disapproval."
"And it's not without base." Steve began again. "As I said, I do not want to be endangered by the entanglements of others. We are charged with the duty of protecting this world, and I will not let it all come apart because of your hormones, Mr. Stark."
"Then you leave." Natasha was on the warpath again. "If you object so much, walk away now."
"I have a duty to my country. I cannot just turn my back on this, not when so much is at stake for the U.S.A."
"You did your duty back in the 40s," Natasha retorted, her eyes aflame. "It's time to step into the twenty-first century, Steve Rogers."
"Why are you so inclined to defend this, Miss Romanov? It puts you in just as much danger."
"What danger is there?" Clint demanded. "I can't see any."
"I guess he's under the impression that if more aliens decide to invade Manhattan, that Bruce and I would be too busy to help save his red, white and blue ass." Tony huffed. "We're not that stupid. We know what we have to do."
"I do not say that! But there's an issue with favoritism I find unsafe." Cap shot back.
"Favoritism has no value," Thor said, having only been listening intently to the debate. "Favoring one over another does not affect what one must do. Loki is my brother. I did not favor him when it came to defending Midgard."
"But if it came down to it, would you save Dr. Banner or the world, Mr. Stark?" Steve asked calmly.
"Saving the world would be saving all of you as well," Tony answered. "Clearly you have logic issues."
"Would you save Dr. Banner before you would save me? Or Miss Romanov? Or him? Or him?" He indicated Thor and Clint in turn. "That is where the danger lies."
"Well, since that hole in your face hasn't stopped moving and obnoxious words haven't stopped flowing, yeah, I'd save any of them before you."
Ignoring him, Steve turned to Bruce. "And you, Dr. Banner? Would you save Mr. Stark before you saved all of us?"
"I'd save whoever needed it." Bruce's voice was quiet, and he didn't bother to turn away from the window. "But yes, Steve, I would save Tony first."
"There you are!" Steve was livid. It looked rather odd on him, the mild-mannered blond soldier. "You see how this is dangerous! We're a team, we have each other's backs, everyone's backs. We can't just choose who to support and who not to."
"No, we can't. We're not capable of that, not consciously," Bruce replied, finally turning around to face the others. "Love does that. Do you know what that is, Steve? Or should I sound it out for you?"
"I know what love is, Dr. Banner. I'd prefer you kept it off our team."
"Really." Bruce paused. "Then what's your definition?"
"Romantic or platonic?"
"The former." Banner walked towards the table, stopping behind Tony's chair.
"Commitment to one another. Shared morals, shared values. Mutual respect and understanding. Desire for that person above all others. Partner of the opposite gender."
Bruce clenched his jaw, his fingers tightening on the top of Tony's chair. His vision went blurry for a minute as he stared at Steve and he exhaled heavily through his nose. No. Not now. Fight it. He couldn't hear the other's voices through his infuriation, but somehow felt Tony stand up and grip his shoulders.
"Don't." Tony squeezed in his shoulders. "Don't, Bruce. No. It's okay. You can fight it."
Banner took a breath, and tried to focus his mind on the hands that were on his shoulders and not on Steve being an asshole. He thought about every color of the rainbow, trying to skip over green. He thought about how satisfying it would be to remember punching Steve in the nose.
"Asshole," Natasha muttered in Steve's direction. "Now look what you did."
"Natasha. I'm fine." Bruce turned to her. "Really. Just took a minute."
"You sure?" someone asked, and it wasn't Natasha but Tony. Through narrowed eyes, Steve watched him put his hand on Bruce's arm, and noted the way Bruce sort of leaned into Tony, like they needed each other to be close to be okay.
Bruce gave a slight nod. "Yeah," he whispered. "I'm okay."
Tony smiled, and though he was conscious of the four pairs of eyes on the both of them, he leaned forward and placed a tender kiss on Bruce's lips, lasting only seconds before he pulled back. "Good." He turned back to Steve, looking defiant. "Your move, Rogers."
Steve looked around the table, at Thor, who was holding Mjolnir in his hands, to Natasha, her arms crossed, to Clint, who mirrored her, and finally to Bruce and Tony, who were holding hands, pressed to each other's sides.
"You're all going to have to give me a minute," he said finally, because that was the only thing he could think of at that point.
"Okay, sixty seconds starts now," Tony threw in. "Get your words in fast."
He took a deep breath, trying to focus all of this thoughts into that short time. Tony was an asshole sometimes.
"I don't know what to say," he admitted. Under his breath, Tony muttered something about 'all brawn and no brains', but Steve ignored it. "I can't pretend that this is my favorite thing...but if you all are for it, and this is what happens when I object-"
"I don't want your approval just because it's what the majority thinks," Bruce cut in, uncharacteristically sharp.
"Come on, there's nothing more American than that." Tony muttered, more audibly this time. "Captain America."
"I saw what happened between you and Dr. Banner just now," Steve continued, "And it looked more like what I think love is than I would have expected."
"So this means we have your blessing now?" Tony asked, sarcastic. "Since you're on board, am I allowed to propose now?"
Bruce squeezed his hand a bit, both out of affection and in warning. "Thank you, Steve."
"If only Fury had been here to witness such a touching moment," Clint said, sighing.
"Yeah, Rogers figuring out how the 21st century works," Natasha laughed. "We're teaching you how to use a cell phone next, Steve."
The door swung open, and Fury stormed back in before anyone else could say anything. He eyed the room, and made a face seeing how Tony and Bruce were holding hands.
"Have you all reached a decision?" he asked, ignoring the couple before him. "I expect a tolerable verdict from you all, and not some stupidass reason that I will most likely ignore."
"We do have a verdict, sir." Steve glanced up at Fury.
"We all agree that whatever relationship Dr. Banner and Mr. Stark have is unimportant to our ability to function as a team."
Fury simply stared at Steve for a moment, then narrowed his eye. "Is that so, Captain Rogers? Out of all of you, I had expected you to be the reasonable one."
"I am reasonable, sir. My disagreement with your reasoning does not make me unreasonable."
"Then I want to know your reason, Captain. Or all of you."
"I feel like we're overusing the word 'reason' here," Tony muttered. "Anyone got a synonym? What? No one?"
"Cause. Grounds. Rationale." Fury spat out. "Continue, Captain."
"I don't understand much from your century," Steve looked Fury in the eye. "I don't understand your technology or your slang or your clothing. I don't understand why a man would fall in love with another man. But I do understand love, Mr. Fury, and what I have seen of Dr. Banner and Mr. Stark has convinced me that what I see is genuine and important."
Fury blinked the one eye he had. "Well." He paused to clear his throat. "That certainly was not the answer I was expecting."
"With all due respect, sir, it's the answer I believe to be right."
"Very well, Captain. If you want the members of your team to continue making stupidass decisions and it doesn't interfere with your abilities, I'll leave you to your work then. But don't think I won't be watching you very carefully."
He stormed out again.
"How much can he really watch us with that one eye?" Tony asked.
"Tony," Bruce warned but he was smiling. He turned his head towards his boyfriend for a moment, but stopped. "Hey, Rogers. Thanks."
Steve nodded curtly. "You have me convinced."
"Good," Tony smirked and then kissed Bruce again.