Title: Through the Glass
Author: Sofia Bee
Category: The Avengers
Rating: T
Pairing: Natasha & Bruce

Summary: Bruce confides his fears to Natasha after he barricades himself in the De-Hulking Cage.

Notes: Id LOVE to see Bruce actually struggling in the de-hulking cage. it would make my damn day.

Disclaimer: I own nothhing.

Bruce was starting to grow fond of the aptly named "De-hulking Cage".

It was by far the only, literally ONLY room in the entire Avenger's Tower that even Tony dared not enter when it was inhabited by the person it was made for. Bruce wasn't entirely sure if they avoided the room out of fear or just to give him some alone time. Didn't matter really, he was very grateful for the solitary time. Any time away from Tony was time well spent.

But tonight was a bit different.

It was 3 a.m., and Bruce was still on the floor of the cage. He had been de-hulked, well for the most part at least, for the past few hours, but he refused to remove himself from isolation. Instead, he sat with his bare back against the glass wall, his trousers the only source of warmth within the cold cylinder he had barricaded himself in. The frigidness of his surroundings didn't seem to bother him that much. Being banished to caves in South America and the bitter winters of Calcutta with not so much as a T-Shirt on your back tend to leave you with thick skin.

It was in these rare moments of real solitude since he joined the Avengers, that Bruce took his time to reflect on his current situations. Tony didn't really believe or care, Bruce would dare to bet his body organs on the latter, of people's personal space. Bruce had been reflecting for hours now on the mission the team had just experienced. Successful by Fury's own admission, and with a lot less damage then they usually tend to cause. No humans died, and Tony's suit did not suffer an unnecessary scratch. Woe onto the poor creature that dares scratch the Suit of Iron.

Bruce sure wished a certain human had died on this mission, and he desperately wished it was by his own hands. HIS hands, not "the other guy's" hands, but his own, Bruce Banner's hands. And it was that specific thought that kept him in his cage well beyond his bedtime.

He wasn't sure how he felt about it.

"I was hoping I wouldn't find you here."

Her words were soft and sleepy sounding, and when Bruce looked up, the tone matched his visual. Sleepy eyelids peeked through tousled curls, bandaged battle wounds partially covered by his oversized t-shirt that she had taken into possession. A few bruises peaked out here and there, but she wore them like a true warrior.

To him, Natasha had never looked more beautiful.

"You coming to bed soon babe?" she yawned, her hands covering her mouth, making her question sound garbled.

Bruce said nothing to her, instead he bowed his head back down and kept his gaze fixated on his ankles. This didn't please her at all. Punching in the code, Natasha unlocked the cage and ushered herself inside.

"I'm still green," Bruce softly protested when she entered, referring to the tint that still lingered on his skin. The other guy hadn't completely dissipated yet. And for good reason.

"By choice it seems," Natasha retorted as she drooped the jacket she was carrying around his shoulders. She frowned at the touch of his skin, icy cold and still dirty from battle.

"Bruce,-" she began, unhappy with his physical state, but Bruce would have none of it. "Just leave me alone Natasha."

The harshness of her lover's tone would offend any other woman, but then again, Natasha wasn't just any woman. Instead of lashing back out at him, or stomping out like Bruce secretly hoped she would, she dropped herself on the floor next to him, assuming the same position as him.

There was a long silence before Bruce finally let out a heavy sigh.

"Sorry," he muttered in her direction, offering her a genuine apologetic gaze and a sad smile. She didn't make an audible reply, she just smiled back and offered some support in the form of squeezing his upper arm softly. As if instinct, he turned and kissed the back of her hand, and the gesture made her relax a little. However, she still wasn't happy about the fact that he still was in his torture chamber.

"You want to talk about it?" she offered after another silence, this one more comfortable than the last. Her hand had now taken over the task of rubbing his arm, silently willing it to give his body some warmth. It bothered her that his skin still modeled a lime tint of green. "Not really," he whispered before planting another kiss on the back of her hand. Knowing that Bruce needed space, she dropped the issue, but didn't move to abandon him. Instead, she leaned back against the glass wall, her thumb now idly rubbing back and forth as the other four fingers still held a gentle grasp on his arm. The gesture proved support and affection, not possession as one would assume. It warmed him extremely.

The t-shirt she wore shifted upwards when she repositioned her legs, causing rather large bruises to be exposed on her thighs. She was aware that Bruce's gaze had since fixated on the bruises. Frowning when his fingers traced the dark blue patches, her other hand rested on the back of his neck, fingers absentmindedly playing with his ruffled curls at the nape.

"They are just bruises. They will fade quickly," Natasha reasoned before Bruce could get any more upset. The words offered him no comfort, and the frown deepened the wrinkles on his forehead.

"They shouldn't be there in the first place." It was barely audible, but she heard him clearly.

"Nothing is broken. They will fade." Her fingers rested on his own on her thigh, stopping his tracing. Bruce didn't seem convinced and Natasha reached for his chin, forcing him to look at her. Her piercing green eyes held his own gaze, and she was confused at the look in his eyes. It registered to her as anger. It wasn't what she expected.

"Hey, they will fade." Her voice was not louder than a whisper.

"The hickeys too? Will they fade quickly as well?" With the question the barriers broke, and all Natasha could hear was hurt in his tone.

"Bruce," she said, but he yanked his face out of her grasp, his eyes back on the floor. His breathing becamr ragged and Natasha could swear his skin turned a darker shade of green. She sighed, finally comprehending his prolonged self banishment to the Hulk cage.

"Unfortunately that's part of my job sometimes. Playing the undercover arm candy and needing to get a little physical to get information. But I promise you, it never goes beyond the kissing and a little groping," Natasha said. Bruce scoffed and shook his head, bowing down lower to hide his face from her. He remembered that mission alright. Remembered watching his beloved dance with that damn British Warlord, and lure him to the bedroom. It was torture for him having to hear and watch as she seduced him and have that pig flip her over and rip her dress, kissing and sucking all over her skin all the while mumbling his war plans to her. It wasn't until 4 hickeys and scratch marks all over her thighs and ass later that Natasha finally had enough information to snap the idiot's neck. At that point the damage was already done and Bruce had been replaced with the HULK and rampaged on.

"Baby, you do know it's all an act with them right?" Natasha asked, sensing his hurt deepening. When he didn't answer, she pulled his face back towards her, forcing him to look at her.

"Bruce?" Her eyes searched his for answers, but found none.

"I don't like other people touching you." His tone was harsher than he would have liked, and his jaw clenched to keep himself from spewing more angry words and from turning another shade of green. To his surprise her hands cupped his face and she rested her forehead against his own, eyes closing and breathing even.

"I know you don't."

"Do you enjoy it?"

Natasha's eyes flew open at the question, shocked at the realization of what he was asking.

"You know, the affection that I can't always provide-" Bruce trailed off, shame overtaking him as his brain replayed all the times he had to endure watching Natasha play uncover whore. Sometimes he wondered if the giggles and the moans that emitted from her beautiful body on these uncover missions were real pleasure from these pigs. Pleasure he felt he couldn't bestow her with.

"I love being with you Bruce, you do know that." Her tone was patient and kind, and bore no judgement or ridicule.

"But I cant always give you that...you know, what they give you. The other guy isn't always nice when you get my heart rate going. So I do understand that our physical encounters are very boring for you." He was past embarrassment at this point, but he didn't seem to care at that point. It was a thought he had for a while now, and he knew it was about time he confessed to her what he felt.

"I get angry when I see them touching you."

"You are always angry." Patience still firm in her words.

Bruce nodded. "I'm always angry because I know one day you will leave for something more exciting. I'm angry because I cant give you what I want to give you."

Before Bruce could register another thought, Natasha was on top of him, straddling his hips. Her lips were on his, kissing him fervently, her hands tangling in his hair. She moaned into his mouth when she pressed her hips down on his, feeling the heat that was finally emitting from his frozen frame. Bruce tried to fight her off, but Natasha refused to move from her position and deepened the kiss, sucking on his bottom lip harshly.

"Natasha, I'm still the other guy," Bruce managed to breathe between her lips, but Natasha didn't relent.

"I don't care," she huskily replied, "Just don't stop touching me."

He couldn't stop if he tried, and his hands slipped under her t-shirt, hands softly roaming up and down her sides. "This," she whispered into his ear, leaning into his touch, "Is what I enjoy. YOU touching me." He moaned softly at her confession and finally returned the kiss with equal passion, grunting when she pushed down on his growing erection.

Natasha smiled against his lips when she saw that the green tint has disappeared and returned to its original color, her complete full human Bruce finally beneath her.

"Hi," she whispered against his lips, to which he chuckled. "Hi," he responded.

"Let's go back to bed," she stated and he nodded. Natasha kissed him once more before wrapping her arms around his neck.

"I love you," she whispered for the first time ever.

For the first time in a very long long time, Bruce felt positively and utterly happy.

"I love you too."

I've grown rather fond of the idea of Bruce and Natasha, although I am still a Clint/Natasha shipper at heart.

Please review.