A/N: Like Bruce Banner, I own nothing but my toothbrush.
Mojito in hand, Tony was enjoying the view from an open air sun deck near the top of Stark Tower. It was not an intentional sun deck, but one that had been created by the recent gouging of the building, either by interdimensional aliens or by one Mr. Bruce Banner, who, also with a mojito in hand, was both the aforementioned view and Tony's new favorite partner for drunk science.
It was a nice sun deck, Tony thought as he watched Bruce's adam's apple quiver oh so temptingly as the wild haired man threw his head back to get the tiny bit of mojito mixed with melted ice at the bottom of his glass. Maybe he'd keep the deck, when he rebuilt the tower. That obviously hadn't been a load-bearing ceiling, anyway.
Bruce flashed one of his trademark I'm-a-shy-physicist-who-has-no-idea-of-my-effect-on-you smiles. Tony wasn't buying it. Bruce knew. No one that smart could be that stupid. No idea how to be close to people, maybe, but no idea when someone wanted you? Not a chance. Oh well, they'd scheduled the whole afternoon for drunken science projects. And experimentation, well…
Tony's innermonologue double entendre was interrupted by Steve Rogers plopping down on the soft not-meant-for-the-outdoors designer sofa. Sitting directly between them. Tony sighed.
"We've got a meeting with Fury and the press in an hour," Steve announced.
Tony sighed, "Look, Steve, we've got a busy afternoon. We're building a cannon that shoots watermelons, powered by the explosive force of sublimation of dry ice in a confined space."
Steve looked put out, "The public wants to see an Avenger. We're heroes to these people."
"Just one?" Bruce asked innocently.
"Just one what?"
"Just one Avenger," Bruce pursed his lips. "That's an important choice. Who to represent us to the American public…" He looked off, deep in thought.
"Well, I guess I thought the more the merrier?" Steve replied.
"No, we should definitely send one person. To give us a figurehead," Bruce brainstormed, "a leader. Someone the American public can look to…" He looked as if he'd just seen Steve for the first time. "You should do it."
"Me?" Steve seemed startled.
"Him?" Tony surprised himself by suddenly caring about the conversation.
"Well, I can't go. I don't know if you noticed, but I have a giant green PR problem," Bruce addressed Steve ignoring Tony's indignant cries. "Clint and Natasha aren't really even super human…"
"And what, I don't have a TV face?" Tony shot his best come hither look to an invisible camera.
"Frankly, Tony, you're rude and snarky, and I'd rather not have you representing me." Bruce said flatly.
"I'll have you know people find me charming."
Bruce continued on as if he hadn't heard. "And Thor… Thor doesn't understand this realm or its people. He'd probably say something ridiculous to the press. Besides, you're our Captain. You're the first Avenger. You're our natural leader."
Tony tightened his grip on his glass. Bruce was supposed to be his special eye candy friend, and here he was chumming it up with Steve? He was half way to the accidental sun deck's bar for a refill before he remembered that he hadn't even wanted to go to the dumb press meeting. Bruce glanced back over his shoulder as Tony mixed another pitcher of mojitos. A slow, inebriated smile spread over the scientist's face, and he mouthed "Got you" with those plump lips of his.
Steve was still staring out over the landscape of a troubled country that needed him, and missed the whole interaction.
"Are you sure? I mean, sometimes I feel like I'm as bad as Thor, with just not understanding this world anymore."
"What? You're doing a bang up job," Bruce patted Steve on the back as he accepted a refill on his mojito from Tony.
"I'm really not…" Steve protested.
"I didn't want to say it, but you're right," Tony broke in. "The way you talk to women, they consider insulting in this day and age."
Steve's eye widened. "Yeah? What do I say wrong?"
"You can't go around calling women 'doll' or 'little lady' any more," Bruce nodded. "They find that demeaning."
"Yeah," Tony added, "ever since the sixties, to make a woman feel respected, you have to call her 'Tits McGee'."
Steve scowled at him, "I'm not an idiot, Tony."
Bruce's pout as he shook his head at Tony looked suspiciously like a smirk. "Too much" he mouthed as Steve glared at Tony.
"Steve, you know I'll catch you up on anything you want to know, right? It's the least I can do," Bruce purred. Tony stared at his lab partner, trying to figure out what his game was.
"Well… there is one thing," Steve opened up, spurred on by Bruce's sweet guileless expression. "How does the internet work?"
Bruce took a deep breath, "That's a really good question, Steve. Not dumb at all. The answer is that we really don't know all the details, but basically the internet runs on something called 'The Force', which is an energy field that surrounds us and binds the universe together. Does that make sense?" Bruce asked the last question with an air of didactic concern, which would have made Tony reflect that he'd probably been a great college professor if his mind hadn't been so busy reeling from the fact that under that sweet slightly rumpled exterior beat the heart of a stone cold troll.
"Yeah… I guess…"
"Now, some humans have special abilities to control the Force, and they're called Jedi. They're very powerful, and very good. You should actually see if you can get Fury to give us a couple for the team. I'd ask myself, but…" Bruce gestured at himself self deprecatingly, as if daring Steve to say Fury would pay attention to the ideas of a tipsy scientist/monster in a mismatched second hand suit.
I look of doubt crossed Steve's face the moment Nick Fury's name was brought up, "I don't know if he'd listen to me any better."
Bruce paused for a moment, then reflected thoughtfully, "Or at least some of their weapons, which are called lightsabers. Would you like a lightsaber, Tony?"
"Yes, yes I would," Tony answered truthfully.
Steve shifted his gaze evasively, "I'll see what I can do."
"Have you been having problems with Fury, Steve?" Bruce asked. Tony could have killed himself. Who knew that when you exude a caustic, egomaniacal persona people don't trust you the way Steve was trusting Bruce right now?
"I want to be clear, I really respect the man," Steve started. Bruce nodded supportively. Tony lay back on the couch's chaise lounge, forgotten by all but his mojito. "He's my C.O. and I respect that. And I'll follow his orders. And back in WWII, I served with all kinds of people…" Tony's eyebrows shot way up. This was about to get interesting. "It's not that I think I'm any better than him. I just… don't know sometimes when things have changed…"
"Steve, what'd you do...?" Bruce prompted, gently as Maury Povich might talk to a reformed out of control teen.
"I just saw him use the same drinking fountain as… and I mentioned it was strange… I didn't mind! I just mentioned it! …and apparently it got back to him, and I didn't know okay?" Steve bunched up his face and his fists in embarrassment and regret. "How could I know?"
Tony sprayed mojito all over himself in the largest spit take ever, taking more joy than he thought possible in the idea that he might only be Fury's second least favorite Avenger.
Bruce, however, was tapping on whatever ocean of calm he used to repress the Hulk. "I see. That is a problem."
"How do I, y'know, take that back? How do I show him I really respect him, and want to make it right?"
"I know just the thing," Bruce said. "I'm going to teach you a traditional greeting used during the civil rights movement in the 1960s, to show you wanted equality for African Americans."
"Sounds perfect," Steve breathed.
Bruce raised his fist in the air, "Black Power."
"That's it?" Steve asked. "I'll definitely be able to remember that. Thanks Bruce, you're a life saver."
"Well, you know, use it as much as you can," Bruce sipped his mojito thoughtfully. "Hey, when were you frozen? Was it after we ended the war with the Japanese, or before?"
"Before," Steve answered readily.
"So has anyone told you about the weapon we used to end the war?" Bruce asked omminously.
"Whew. I'm sorry to drop this on you. It's tragic, but it's my duty to tell you. So we and the Nazis were both developing a super weapon… a gas that turns anyone who breathes sufficient quantity into a homosexual."
Steve was stunned. Tony stunned that Steve was stunned. Tits McGee was too much, but this he'd buy?
"We dropped it on the Japanese first. It was devastating. Their birthrates are low to this day. What we didn't expect was that it would get caught in the upper atmosphere and make it's way into global wind patterns. It wrecked the environment. Wiped out whole species. Even today, 90% of the global population is gay."
Steve took a moment to process this information. "Are… you guys homosexuals?" he asked tentatively of the two men he shared the outdoor but not meant for outdoors couch with.
"Of course," Bruce replied, "I know it's just a mind altering chemical," he looked past Steve to lock eyes almost confrontationally with Tony and licked his lips, "but I can't help it. I love having sex with men."
Tony, for his part, tried not to look too flustered. "You know, my preferences are flexible." Tony gave Bruce his best wicked smile.
Steve was already processing too much new information to take in this new level. "I have to go now if I want to make that meeting. Thank you so much Bruce, this has been so helpful. Any last things I should know?"
"Yeah, in the '90s we cloned some dinosaurs on an island, but they got off the island and started breeding, and are making their way through South America," Bruce explained.
"How did they get out? They're slow enough we can stop them, right?" Steve's eyes widened.
"No, it turns out dinosaurs were mostly smart and fast and warm blooded," Tony chimed in.
Steve rolled his eyes, "Everyone knows dinosaurs are slow, Tony."
"What? I'm being serious!" Tony protested a universe where anything he said would be perceived as trolling, while Bruce's soft spoken charms let him get away with murder.
"It's a tough issue," Bruce continued, "so politicians are afraid to talk about it, but if you really want people to know that the Avengers are on top of the world's crises, I'd tell people we're going down there, to contain the dinosaurs."
Steve nodded, then pointed to a helicopter circling Stark Tower, "That's my ride. Thanks, Bruce! Bye, Tony!" Steve jogged off toward the elevator.
Tony clinked glasses with Bruce, "A toast: to your pretty face. May Steve spare it, when he figures out what you've done to him."
"Pfft," Bruce rolled his eyes and refilled his drink. "He's not even going to yell at me."
"You know… the other guy. I kinda get to say whatever I want."
Tony paused to consider this, "So why don't you do this more often?"
Bruce shrugged and stared at his hands. The shy scientist was back. "I guess it's just not in my nature."
"Bull. Then why'd you just pull the best troll in the history of trolls?"
"Just trying to impress you, I guess."
Tony chose his next words carefully, "So, that bit about liking men…? Trolling? Not trolling?"
Bruce smiled one of his tiny enigmatic smiles.
A/N: Hey, I just want to be really clear that in the segment where Steve doesn't understand that segregation has ended, the joke was not on Nick Fury, or on the civil rights movement, or the black power movement, but about the idea that being racially insensitive is one of the quickest ways to look like a raging asshole there is, which makes it the worst prank ever. I really didn't want Steve to be a racist asshole, just a product of his upbringing (probably one of the best case scenarios for a product of his upbringing). I am deeply sorry if it offends anyone, respectful criticism on this or any other subject will always be taken seriously.