Seeing Green

Chapter One

In four years, Betty had grown used to the regularity of her new life. She had rented a nice apartment in the small community of Verplanck, and owned a pastry shop a few blocks away that sold top quality danishes and supplied free decorating classes to the young children within the community. It was a simple life, but she was happy with it. While she was recognized every few months by travels that drifted in and out of the community on there way to the city, she wasn't mobbed by curious onlookers pushing to know how "large and monstrous" the Hulk actually was. After four solid years, she was just Betty, the sweet girl who ran the Pastry Shop.

She fled from New York City after Bruce disappeared. She hadn't planned on spending so much time away from her friend and family, however, after finding an apartment to share and getting to know a few of the locals, she thought it wouldn't be too horrible if she got a job. She had worked off and on for a few months at the local stores; cleaning, working retail, stocking. Finally, when she had saved up her money and worked up the courage, Betty opened a shop of her own. Within a few short months she was well known and it just seemed right to settle down awhile longer. She always said that when it was time to move back, she'd sell the store or hand it over for somebody else to run. But years passed, she grew up, made friends around the town, and found a nice place for herself.

She knew very little of what was happening outside of her community. For the first two years, she received mail from Glenn, her close friend Margaret, and even her father, each giving updates on the city and there life's. Yet, after having not returned or replied, the mail slowly stopped. However, every once in awhile, she would receive a newspaper clipping or magazine article that spoke of her or Bruce or the fiasco that had gone down four years ago in Brooklyn. Thankfully as the years went, the "Bruce Banner was said to be spotted…" writings were all but gone.

Currently, Betty had just returned from her noon lessons of teaching a group of children how to decorate gingerbread men and was set out to rid of her icing coated clothes and flour covered hair through a shower. Dropping her keys, and shucking her coat, she headed towards her bedroom, absentmindedly turning on the television.

She wouldn't admit it out loud but the static and hum of the outdated set soothed her loneliness, filling the empty space of her home.

Reaching the bathroom, she undressed and tossed her clothing into the laundry basket. Standing under the waters spray, her mind wondered, her loneliness giving way to a mild mannered man with a fondness for purple.

She had met Bruce, surprisingly enough, through her father. She had worked under him on a government project to create a new weapon involving radiation, the leading scientist being Dr. Bruce Banner. What started out as friendly companionship ended in discarded clothes, lingering gazes and hitched breaths. It had started when she began noticing little things about Bruce that had more effect on her that a friend should.

She found that the brushing of his calloused hand against her own softer one always made her heart skip a beat, the rich sound of his laughter caused goose-bumps to break out over her skin and sometimes when he smiled she felt her stomach knot up anxiously. Her visits to the lab began to increase, finding more joy with Bruce instead of her father and the young, military hopefuls who were always too friendly in their words and hands. It frightened her, how well she got along with Bruce. Past relationships had always ended with a fizzle; the men becoming boring and predictable. She figured she'd meet a man who could whisk her off her feet, someone who would thrive on exhilaration and uncertainty. When Bruce finally did come along, he brought interesting conversation and intriguing company. And surprisingly, he did bring uncertainty. He wasn't at all what she pegged him to be; boring, uptight, and above all pretentious of his own intelligence. Instead he enthralled her. He was soft spoken; each word held with importance and substance, and always showed enthusiasm towards his work. It was infectious, spreading not only to her, but the whole science division. It was then when it became clear that she had found who she'd been looking for.

Usually Betty was outgoing with men. She liked to think she had a certain allure to her that drew men in, but when it came to Bruce, she floundered. Instead of flirting with him, she found herself displaying the same nervous, jittery, habits she had as a teenager girl. Simple words became hard to say and her courage had all but disappeared when she tried to express her interest in him. Bruce hadn't noticed, thank God, but then again, he'd had always been a bit dense when it came to something other than science. Meanwhile, it was eating away at her. She wanted to tell him, knew she should, but couldn't seem to find the words. She spent four miserable weeks thinking nothing would ever happen and that nobody would ever know. It was then that her bubble burst; realizing she wasn't as covert as she thought and that it had been more than obvious than she even realized.

"Something interesting?" a girl with striking blue eyes asked, her gaze moving from the observation window to Betty who's eyes kept wandering to the far left corner where Bruce sat, his eyes attached to a microscope.

"Nope, just a little preoccupied, is all," she replied, switching her attention to the clipboard in her hand. Being part of the research department meant evaluating their employees, judging whether or not they were making progress in there work. Her evaluation form however was completely blank, the only writing being her name and employee number.

"Busy thinking about ?" the girl—Anne?—asked, staring at her knowingly.

"What? No," she replied, a little too quickly. She tried to laugh as if Anne had said something absurd, but it sounded a bit forced. Dropping her eyes back to the clipboard, she quickly scribbled affirmations of progress, before looking back to the observation window, taking in a small, sickly looking scientist named Jeremy. She wondered how Anne knew. Was she transparent? Did the other employees see it too? Had Bruce? She stiffened, worried that maybe he had known and simply ignored it. She silently begged to any deity that that wasn't the case. Not after the heated dreams she'd had of him. Bruce thinking of her as Betty the boss's daughter, or Betty the best friend was a crushing thought. Especially since she couldn't get out of her mind how nice it would be to kiss him passionately, to whisper in his ear how badly she wanted him to touch her, to be held tightly against him.

"You sure? 'Cause you've got that look on your face again," Anne interrupted, her voice filled with skepticism.

She looked over at the woman, confused. Anne was one of the few researchers around her age—an intern—decidedly going for a degree in science. This internship, as she put it, "a mere stepping-stone on my way to the top."

Betty shook her head. "What look?" she muttered, turning her face forward once more.

"That look that says you'd happily let some man get touchy-feely with you if it meant you could do the same to him," she explained, tilting her head towards Bruce's general direction.

Betty snorted, lifting her brow at Anne. "Bruce and I are just friends," she said, though the words felt bitter in her mouth.

Anne laughed, a true, deep belly, laugh. She frowned, as the blonde threw her head back, her eyes crinkling slightly. All right, maybe she's been a little more obvious than she thought. But it wasn't as if she had been trailing after him like a lost puppy dog! Had she? She might have worn shirts just a bit too tight, and maybe she had been a bit close in proximity, but she hadn't done anything dramatic like stick her hand down his pants! She waited for the laughing to stop, jotting down notes on the clipboard as Anne shook her head knowingly.

"No point lying to me, Betty, I know you have him in your sights," she told her, smirking.

Betty shook her head, wanting to deny it, wanting to tell Anne that there was no interest on her part. There were a handful of reasons why she shouldn't. She was four years younger than him, she wasn't the long-term-relationship type , and she couldn't come close to matching his intelligence.

She sighed, frowning. "He's a close friend, there's nothing there."

"Right," Anne muttered, nodding. "That's why you had Juliana fired when she said she'd love to threw her leg over his shoulder."

Betty felt her face heat up, still agitated even after Juliana had left due to carefully planned sabotage. It was a perfectly reasoned reaction. Get rid of the mouthy girl and hope that the others got the point. But it didn't mean anything. No, she was simple honoring the duty of her and Bruce's friendship. Crossing her arms over her chest, Betty glared darkly at the intern. "She was looking for nothing more than a ride, something that Bruce clearly wouldn't have agreed to," she told her, shaking her head.

"I don't know, he is a full-blooded male," Anne countered.

Betty shook her head again. "What he needs is someone emotionally invested, someone who sees him as more than just a handsome face."

"Someone like, oh, I don't know, you?" Anne replied teasingly.

Betty rolled her eyes, sharing her concern for the inters mental health before leaving her post, the observation sheet now complete. But a seed of doubt had been planted, staying with her throughout that week. Bruce was an intelligent man and would eventually catch onto her intentions. Despite the age difference—which really, four years don't seem like much now that she's an adult—and the possibilities of having her heart broken before it even began to really feel, she wanted him. She wanted the unbelievable man who got her laughing on her bad days and expanded her mind with his little bits of trivia that he spouted. And she wanted to know what his neck tasted like and to run her fingers through his coarse hair.

She just hoped it didn't show on her face any longer.

Ten minutes later she was dressed, damp hair thrown up into a ponytail and berating herself for letting her thoughts wander into painful territory. It's not that she had been alone since Bruce dropped off the face of the earth—she had been on dates and even held a couple of relationships—but nothing had quite felt like it had with him. She had searched for him, traveling to obscene, isolated corners of the world; but the hope of finding him died quickly.

She couldn't spend her time searching for him.

The truth was that she hadn't the money, the stability, or the energy to continue. It had become her obsession and would have continued. It was unhealthy. Agonizingly, she had admitted defeat, and had stopped searching. That's why when she overheard the news she had to pinch herself to make sure it wasn't her own mind tricking her.

On the small, outdated television set was the anchorman for New York City's news. The usually drab, pepper-haired man was talking animatedly, his hands gesturing sporadically as he went. Apparently the city was in near shambles; not that she would know of course. It's moments like this that she wished she hadn't cut all ties to the outside world, the evidence being when the camera cut to a clip of the early morning fight, the reporter giving commentary.

"It's said that an energy source called the 'Tesseract' was activated the night before. From this energy source came an otherworldly man, his name Loki. In his escape, Loki enslaved , a highly skilled scientist and several others, including our very own Clint Barton."

Betty watched in disbelief as they showed a man dressed from head to toe in metal and leather. For a moment she thought she'd gone insane. Yes, there were other worlds spanning across the universe—being a scientist herself, it was hard to believe that a God had only made one solar system—but to have one visit there planet? She had to be dreaming. Or drunk.

"The Strategic Homeland Intervention Enforcement and Logistics Division, known as S.H.E.I.L.D., in response sent the best of their agents to stop this threat."

She quirked an eyebrow at the ridiculous name.

"Agents Tony Stark, Steve Rogers, Bruce Banner, Thor Odinson, Clint Barton and Natasha Romanoff were sent assigned—"

Betty felt her stomach hit the floor, along with her jaw. She reached for the couch as a picture of the so called 'agents' flashed across the screen, the Hulk, as massive as she remembered, standing off to the side, his stance ready for an attack. She listened in a daze as the reporter went on to explain the unfathomable situation, her throat tightening, along with her chest as the story of the leather clad man became worst and worst.

She was almost sure she was going to pass out soon; the couch enveloping her body as she sunk into the plush leather, shock leaving her body unresponsive.

Betty wasn't sure what to do. She felt an overwhelming need to take off; go to New York City and find Bruce. But a smaller part of her mind, a part she had ignored while searching in exotic, leafy climates for him, told her that her appearance would be unwelcomed. The wound of Bruce's disappearance had stung, even more so when she had received her necklace in the mail, no return address or note on saying how she could contact him. Nothing. She'd been angry, an anger that had even surprised her with its intensity at his negligence of information… but maybe he wanted it that way. Maybe he didn't want her in his life any longer.

But than again, she had never been one to take the answers no very well. Definitely, she slipped on her shoes and coat and grabbed her keys.

She deserved answers.

A/N: Hello! I've always had a special place for soft spoken Bruce in my heart, especially after seeing the avengers. This mans gone through Hell in his life, and I believe he deserve more, like a lady friend. And seeing as I've always thought Betty was kick ass in the comics and movies, I've decided to bring her back! This will strictly be a reunion fic, so expect around 3—4 chapters.

Thanks so much for reading and please, please, please review!