Hehehe. I'm sorry, that was mean. Don't worry, this chapter is better.


Oh, and I still don't own characters or actors. But I do continue to do the Dance of Happiness.

Tony had been around hospital rooms enough in his life. He hated the white. Everything was sterile, unfeeling. The smells of medical supplies were enough to do his head in, and he was surprised that he could even stand being there at all.

But the man he was there for made it worth it.

Even if he hadn't woken up yet. Even if he'd been waiting three days, so far.

Tony didn't believe in God, at least not the conventional sort. He certainly didn't deny that Thor was real, for example. He once lost an arm wrestling match with him, while suited up, so any doubts about the legitimacy of Norse gods were nonexistent. And he didn't think that any deities were watching over him or anyone else. Pop tarts, tiny kittens, and viral videos, for example, entertained Thor. He, for one, wasn't exactly spending his time guiding humanity towards a brighter future.

And it wasn't a god that saved Bruce Banner. But if it gave Tony Stark some more karma points or something, he sure as hell would thank Jesus for that one.

The one vial didn't stop the other guy from coming out. It just stinted him a little. When Bruce had pulled the trigger, the Hulk came out, but just a little slowly. The explosion had dislocated Bruce's jaw but in the split second before it could penetrate his skull and tear through his brain, the Hulk came forth, but not in his entirety. It was like Bruce had half-transformed: he still looked like himself but he had grown by a quarter of his regular height and was rather green. As it turned out, the Hulk's skin was able to stop the bullet, for the most part. It certainly stopped him from dying instantly, but left a wound, which had knocked Bruce/The Hulk out instantly.

Tony stood there, half in shock, half in relief (because he could see that Bruce was definitely alive but did just witness his best friend/lover/whatever the hell they were stick a gun in his mouth and pull the trigger). He could panic later, though. He knew a desperate situation when he saw one. It took him only a moment to put his helmet back on and talk to Jarvis.

"Jarvis? Get SHIELD on the line, NOW!"

"Right away, sir." The AI responded.

After thirty long seconds of waiting, he had Fury on the line.

"Stark. It is four-thirty in the morning. What could you possibly need?"

"Fury, it's Dr. Banner. I need emergency medical attention in Kolkata!"

"Banner? Did he lose control again? I trace no Gamma flux-"

Tony wished he could be clearer without saying anything. Why were they taking so long to care? Didn't they understand the situation?

"Fury, Banner just shot himself. He took something to stop him from hulking out and he's here! He's bleeding, Fury!"

There was a momentary pause. "Okay, I'll track your coordinates, get a local emergency service to make sure he's stabilized. SHIELD agents will transport him back to New York as soon as they can get to Kolkata. How badly is he injured?"

"I don't know." Tony looked over Bruce's body. He had shrunk back to normal size and was crumpled in a small heap on the floor. He looked tiny, his jaw was shifted oddly, and blood was flowing from his mouth, but there wasn't enough of it for Tony to be immediately worried about death from blood loss. And he was still breathing. "He's alive, and I think he'll be okay if he gets medical attention soon."

Fury mhmm'd a sound of approval. "I'll see you soon, Stark," he said, and the comm switched off.

Time progressed both very slowly and very quickly at the same time. Tony remembered elevating Bruce's head and legs, so he would be able to keep breathing, while his blood would stay circulating.

After both forever and no time at all an ambulance picked Bruce up. Entertained by him being Iron Man, they let Tony ride along (which was good, because he wouldn't have taken no as an answer, anyway). Bruce was hooked up to a number of machines that were apparently sustaining his life, but he looked tiny. Tony watched him as he rested.

After several hours of hearing the constant beeping of the heart monitor he wondered how long it would be until SHIELD agents actually arrived, or if they ever would at all. Natasha and Clint took this moment of doubt to walk through the door.

Tony was startled. "Fury put you two on this one?"

Natasha glared. "We wouldn't have it any other way." She ushered to what turned out to be a couple more medics outside the room who started wheeling in a gurney and shifting Bruce over.

Clint nodded. "We heard over the comms what happened. Bruce is our friend. We're the best SHIELD has now, and we weren't going to let any other idiots collect him."

And so that was that.

They flew him back to a new (and fully intact) helicarrier and there, medics started treating him. Fury, and Tony for that matter, didn't want him in a regular hospital. There were always the crazies that would try to hoard his blood for covert operations, and then plenty that would still be afraid of him. They wanted doctors that were familiar with Bruce Banner and could be trusted completely.

Bruce got a room to himself, it being neither a conventional hospital nor he being a conventional patient, and that helped Tony feel less awkward staying there all the time. The room was surrounded with flowers, cards, and gifts. It had gotten around SHIELD that Bruce Banner was in hospital and, as it turned out, was thought of fondly by many an agent. Clint and Natasha each had brought huge bouquets, as did Steve. Tony himself had gotten Bruce an obnoxious bouquet with stupid heart balloons scattered throughout. Thor, who was currently on Earth visiting Jane, had left a few pages of particularly unintelligible poetry that somewhat translated to a "get well soon" card. And then there were other notes and flowers and cards from SHIELD agents Tony'd never met. One card in particular caught Tony's eye. It was from a Betty Ross. "Get better soon, Bruce. Know I'm here if you need to talk."

That was nice, thought Tony. He was genuinely please that there were people who had taken a liking to Bruce that cared how he was doing.

On the fourth day of waiting (Bruce had a number of drugs being pumped into his system that were keeping him somewhat sedated, though there was a possibility at any time that he could wake up), it seemed Bruce was recovering well. Several days ago, his jaw had been realigned. It wasn't so bad that it needed to be wired shut, and as it turned out, the Hulk part of him was healing him rapidly. The partial open wound was barely more than a bruise. And considering he'd been waiting four days, Tony decided it was time to take a shower. He'd barely left Bruce's room since he'd arrived.

An hour later, clean, and considerably better smelling, Tony returned. He hadn't expected to find Bruce propped up in bed, eyeing the room groggily.

Tony smiled at him and sat down. "Hey, babe. How you doing?"

Bruce blinked a few times. "Where am I?" he asked, before wincing.

"Sorry! I forgot. Jaw. You dislocated it. It'll be fine but I expect it'll be a bit painful. Try to move it as little as possible." Tony paused slightly. It was probably stupid to tell a doctor how to take care of himself. "Oh. And you're on a helicarrier. Thought it was best to keep you away from regular hospitals."

Bruce raised an eyebrow. This time when he spoke, he spoke more carefully. "What, in case I got angry and killed everyone?"

"Nope," Tony smiled. "Because your case is unique and we wanted only the best taking care of you."

Bruce closed his eyes slowly and grimaced. "Well, from this conversation we're having, I gather I'm alive. Isn't this the bit where you're supposed to be crying and asking me why I did it and telling me you can get me help, all punctuated by awkward, painful silences?"

Tony shook his head. "Yeah, you're alive, but I don't see why now wouldn't be a good time for me to instead tell you I love you and maybe cuddle you a bit. Oh, and ask if you want cake. I think I can order in cake."

Bruce stared at him blankly. "You love me?"

Tony brushed it off. "I know why you did it." He paused, choosing his words carefully. "I know why you think you needed to. I don't think it's right, and I don't think you're right, but I'm happy you're alive and maybe at some point you will be, too. But I think it's pointless to guilt trip you and make you feel like shit, cos if I'm right, which I almost always am, you already feel pretty shitty."

Bruce was still for a while, but then nodded. "Okay, Tony."

Tony smiled. "Okay."

Aww. Things are getting better for the boys.

And I have no intention of actually bringing Betty Ross into the story, I just felt she should get a namedrop.

The next chapter may be a few days because it's a little bit difficult knowing where to go from here. BUT. Expect at least one more chapter, and probably an epilogue. :3

Thank you!