AN: This is more or less a tester chapter, just to see if I can do anything with this damn plot bunny and see if it can go anywhere.
Came about after having a chat with Sleeping Moon and seeing 'The Avengers' for the third time, and really, Bruce needs more love. As of now, it'll stay gen. I have no idea if I want to add a pairing or not.
I'm imagining this taking place not too long after 'The Incredible Hulk.' Marvel stalkers, keep in mind I know nothing about the comics and, while I will do my best to research, I am probably just going to make shit up as I go.
Prologue - In Which There Are Radishes And Wrackspurts
It was the voice that attracted him, first.
Okay, well, no. That sounded far too Harlequin Romance, so...no. More specifically, it was the language. He'd been traveling for only God knew how long now, always to the most remote of countries and villages. Which, coincidentally, also meant they were usually the most destitute and least traveled by tourists. So, hearing clear and precise English filter through the hustle and bustle of the Paraguay marketplace was a novelty that immediately caught his attention.
Tense and on alert, because English speakers usually seemed to mean that one of his military tails had caught up to him again, Bruce turned and scanned the area, quickly catching sight of the commotion.
A young man, no older than twenty Bruce would guess, was being accosted by a shopkeeper. The merchant was letting loose a string of obscenities, waving his clenched fist at the boy, who simply stood there, looking more than a little dazed and confused. The young man held out something in his hand and tried to negotiate, once more in English, clearly not understanding a lick of the Guarani profanity that was being hurled at him. All this seemed to achieve was a second round of verbal abuse.
It was the young man's expression, Bruce decided later.
He shouldn't. He really, really shouldn't, because when one was Bruce Banner, fighting, yelling, stress, and anger were all things that were meant to be actively avoided these days. But, that little-boy-lost look on his face and the fact that Bruce hadn't heard his native language in what felt like years now had Bruce making his way over to the pair, where a circle of onlookers had surrounded them.
"What's the problem?" He asked, trying Spanish first, because he really didn't want to try to diffuse the situation in the broken Guarani he's managed to pick up.
"The little cheat is trying to give me fool's money," the shopkeeper yelled, glaring at the boy.
He turned to face the boy, who was staring intently at Bruce's...ear? "Hey," Bruce said, waving his hand a little to try to get his attention. The young man continued to stare for a moment longer, before blinking and finally focusing on Bruce. "What are you trying to use, euros? Because this village is too small, you need guaranies."
The boy said nothing, only blinked once more and held out his hand to give Bruce a coin. A gold coin. A heavy, solid, gold coin, he realized when it was dropped in his palm. It was Bruce's turn to blink, as he stared, shocked, at the precious metal that would likely equal a small fortune around these parts. The merchant, obviously, didn't think it was real, which was lucky for the boy. And what was he thinking, trying to use this for currency?
"What did he want to buy?" Bruce asked the shopkeeper, who simply held out a white clay figurine of an owl, with a large and obvious crack down its right wing. Looking back at the boy skeptically, he saw, in place of the flighty look that hadn't left his face during the conversation, a sharp and hungry gaze that was fixed on the owl.
With a sigh, he asked for a price and dug out the required amount of coins from his pocket.
After the crisis was averted and the crowd dispersed, no longer interested in the foreigners, Bruce was able to relax a bit and bring his full attention to the boy he played good samaritan for.
The first things he noticed were the...turnips? Two of them, to be precise. Miniature sized and hanging from the boy's ears. That was...well, strange didn't quite cover it, and it took him a moment to recover enough to observe the rest of his companion. He was brunet and slender, much like Bruce himself, and he was pleased to note the rare occurrence of actually being taller than someone, having an inch or so on the boy. His clothes looked like little more than oversized rags on his body, and the satchel he was currently stowing the owl figurine in was patched over in multiple spots and worn down.
After carefully ensuring the owl's safety and security deep in the bag, bottle green eyes found Bruce and, once more, focused in on his left ear. Unless— As casually as possible, Bruce slowly turned to look over his shoulder and check for whatever the boy may be staring at, while also keeping an eye on his strange associate. The boy didn't react, except to lean to the side as Bruce turned, trying to keep his ear in sight. Bruce turned back and the boy straightened up.
Pointing to the space next to Bruce's head, the boy said, "You should really do something about those wrackspurts." British accent, Bruce noted. His words were measured and careful, as if he wasn't quite used to having conversations aloud.
Bruce was starting to get a sneaking suspicion, but his mother always said first appearances often weren't what they seemed, so he reserved judgment. Instead, he gave the boy a look that he hoped was less nervous and more reassuring. "Right, I'll get on that. So, what might your name be?"
"Harry," the boy said simply.
Bruce waited, but nothing more was forthcoming. "Harry...?"
"Just Harry?" He questioned with narrowed eyes.
Harry didn't seem to mind his confusion or suspicious expression, and nodded at him decisively. "Just."
"Okay." Wary, but deciding he hadn't gone through all this trouble for nothing, Bruce offered his hand. "Just Harry, my name's Bruce."
The young man took his hand without a moment's hesitation. "Just Bruce?" He questioned seriously.
Lips quirking upwards in the closest thing to a smile he's been able to muster in months, Bruce nodded back at him. "Just Bruce."
"Just so," Harry said conclusively, turnips bouncing as he shook Bruce's hand.
Unable to help himself, he motioned to the strange earrings. "You do know you're wearing turnips, right?" He asked, just in case someone had managed to sneak the root vegetables on Harry's person without him knowing.
Harry stared at him for a moment, uncomprehending, before recognition lit his eyes. "Radishes," he corrected.
Bruce accepted the correction, he'd always sucked at grocery shopping, but it certainly didn't clear anything up. He stared at Harry expectantly, after the silence continued for a couple more moments.
"They're from the moon," he said, as if it explained everything.
This was right around the time Bruce decided his new companion probably wasn't entirely sane.