Every pairing in order of importance: Steve/Tony, Bruce/Clint, Deadpool/Spiderman, implied Tony/Bruce, Pepper/Natasha
Steve comes back from his long mission to find two things: The Avengers Initiative and Tony's anger. Why is Tony so furious with him? And who is this Bruce Banner and why does Tony seem to infatuated with him? Has the Captain's shine worn off already? The kind doctor with the monster inside could be just what Tony needs. But does that mean Steve's out? Can he admit that he loves Tony, or will he lose him forever?
Meanwhile, back in New York, Peter is growing into his new identity. He learns the hard way that with great power comes great responsibility, and the underground fighting circuit is just the place to do it. Will he die in the ring with the mighty Rhino or the unyielding Tombstone? Or will his new protector, this mysterious 'Deadpool', drag him out in the nick of time? Could this rough-edged smartass be just what he needs?
Author's Note: This story has a main focus on Stony, but this first prologue takes place before the second one so it gets to be posted first. The second prologue will show you what's up with Steve and Tony. Trust me when I say this first chap is important, this relationship shapes a lot of what happens later on. Bruce's motivation, how they find out about Hulk, Clint's recovery, all that. Be patient, all our boys will get a chance.
Bruce lit a few of the candles in his shack. The little run down place had become his home for the past month or so. When he had arrived in this dirt-packed part of the country he'd found the house on the edge of some woods. With a quick look at the sick town a mile away, he'd decided to take it for himself. These poor people were dying and there wasn't' a single doctor within ten miles, this was where he needed to be – at least for a while. This place was war-ravaged, troops filing through occasionally on their way to larger cities.
Bruce could never stay long in one place, military presence or not.
It was late into the night, a young woman in town had passed and he'd spent some time with her family showing them how to prevent their younger one's from suffering the same fate. He was starving but he needed to make notes, some of the symptoms he had seen tonight were new. It was a strain the population in the US had never seen, mostly because they were doped to the gills with antibiotics and couldn't pick it up.
Bruce was digging through his bag for a pencil when he smelled it. It was earthy, a metallic tang infused within it. Like pennies sifted up from dark, deep soil. His hands stilled their journey, the hairs on the back of his neck standing on end. It was one of the few advantages of having the Hulk carved inside him, his sense sensitivity had almost tripled.
Bruce tilted his head back, inhaling loudly to catch a whiff of fear. Just a snatch. Whoever was out there, they knew they'd been caught.
A clatter came from the window, the beaded curtain were pushed away to reveal a young man. His hair was a mess of burnt gold, finger-less gloves stretched across his hands as they grasped the windowsill. Simple black clothes, unassuming but for the strong limbs they adorned. From what Bruce could see this man wasn't a normal customer, this man was a fine tuned machine. He wore a plain rucksack, a weapon probably stowed away inside. A shot of adrenaline went through his chest, the heart monitor on his wrist blinking obnoxiously. He'd turned the volume off earlier and now he was glad, the sharp beeping would've only made the situation worse.
The man suddenly smiled, relieved, "You're a hard man to find, Dr. Banner."
"I try" Bruce said off-handedly, studying the other.
"You know, in America, this would be the point where you invite your guest to sit down" the younger man stated, still showing white teeth.
Bruce nodded tightly, "Make yourself at home."
The man slipped inside, the bottom of his pants and shoes stained with tan dirt. There were dark circles under his eyes, an air of 'agent' all around him.
"You have me at a disadvantage, friend" Bruce set his bag down, never looking away "You know my name but I have yet to catch yours."
"Clint. Clint Barton" the younger man started to walk the length of the shack, checking subtly for bugs. It had taken him nearly two months to track this man down and he'd spent a week in the doctor's shadow, more to see if anyone else was tailing him rather than to watch his movements. He'd seen the footage and he'd read up on Dr. Banner before he'd taken the mission, he wasn't worried about the man losing his temper in a place like this. Yes, there was war and death all around – but Dr. Banner had more control than that. A man with a handful of degrees was smarter than that.
"Well, Mr. Barton, if you're here for a check-up I think I can pencil you in" Bruce watched a little too closely when the younger man crouched down to peek under behind one of the raggedy chests "Or maybe you'd like to donate some blood. I'm fresh out and some of my patients would thank you."
Barton found nothing but little insects and dust, "I could stand to lose a few drops."
"Then your timing is impeccable" the older man watched the other rise to his feet "I was about to close down for the night."
"No guests?" Clint inquired, raising an eyebrow.
"I'm afraid not" the doctor backed up toward the window, peering out into the darkness but finding no one else "I prefer to be alone."
"A handsome man like you? A doctor, on the edge of a forest, alone in an exotic land?" Clint was barely teasing "This is the kind of stuff romance novels are made of."
Bruce smiled tightly, moving on to the next window, "You obviously don't know my condition or you wouldn't be surprised."
"You're Dr. Robert Bruce Banner" Clint grinned, going for charming "You can level cities. And you're only man in the world who can help me."
The older man's brow furrowed, "And what do you expect me to do for you?"
A trickle of arousal bled through Clint's groin, that rich tone getting to him, "What are you willing to do?"
Bruce chuckled low in his throat, "You're a cute boy. But I've been around a little too long to fall for lines like that."
Clint shed his rucksack, knowing he'd made the wrong move when the older man tensed. He purposely set it on the chair, stepping away on good faith. Bruce's eyes were dark and unafraid, staining every inch of him like coffee on his skin. Goosebumps cropped up on his arms, but not from fear. That voice...nothing had prepared him for that voice, the head tilt, the crooked smile.
Bruce caught a whiff of something he hadn't for a long time, a spicy scent he couldn't place. The younger man tensed when he saw his nostrils flare, fists clenching at his sides to show off the muscular curve of his arms. The doctor started wringing his hands together, the only nervous tic he had left.
"Are you here to kill me, Mr. Barton?" Bruce inquired, the light on his wrist flickering in warning.
"Like I could" the archer snorted, gesturing at the bag "Do you want to check it out? There's a quiver and a bow in there."
The doctor's brow drew, "That's all?"
"It's all I need for anyone but you" Clint tried not to sound like a fanboy and failed "Your other side is a little too impressive for the likes of me."
"The likes of you..." Bruce mused, shamelessly looking the boy over "And just who do you represent?"
"I'm with S.H.I.E.L.D." Clint replied truthfully "I wasn't lying, you were hard to find. They keep tabs, they don't stalk you. That was my job."
Bruce ventured just a few steps closer, surprised when the man didn't back down, "And now that you've found me?"
"I was hoping you'd come back to HQ with me" the archer strapped his gloves tighter, rubbing away some of the dirt that clung there "We need your expertise."
"And if I say no?" Bruce offered.
Clint shrugged, trying not to show his disappointment.
The older man pressed palm to his chest, "What if the Other Guy says no?"
Clint pulled out his phone, waving it pointedly, "At least let me show you why I'm here."
Bruce nodded, relenting. The agent brought up the picture of the tezzeract he'd snapped up before he'd left, holding out the device for the doctor to take. Bruce looked at it like it was a bomb, making no move to take it. Clint smile reassuringly, wiggling the device to draw attention to it. With an air of reluctance, the older man pulled his glasses of his pocket and slipped them on to get a better look. He took the phone, both men sucking in a soft breath when their fingers overlapped. The touch was warm, lasting only a few moments but memorable enough to send little tingles up their arms.
"It's my job right now to watch that thing – the tezzeract- and the team that's testing it. I'm doing the usual scour, keeping check on the team's outgoing to make sure none of them are playing for another team. The usual info seal" Clint nodded to the phone, the other studying the tezzeract as best he could "But lately it's been acting up, the head doc down there calls it stuff like 'hiccups' and 'misbehaving'. It's sending out gamma rays. They're pretty weak but they're constant."
Bruce looked up from the phone, surprised.
"Like I said" Clint grinned "You're the only man in the world who can really help me keep this thing safe, being the top dog when it comes to gamma radiation and all."
"You don't seem like the science type" Bruce handed him the phone back "Why do you think I should come in?"
"Officially? I'm just the messenger" Hawkeye drifted over to another window, pulling the curtains shut when he caught movement of an army jeep outside "It's Fury who wants you. Off the record, I think something bad's going to happen. I watched the tezzeract for two weeks before I came here. They have a gaggle of scientists working on it, not one of them half as intelligent as you. That device has enough power to wipe out the entire planet if it wanted to. So personally...I'd rather have someone there who knew what the fuck they were doing."
Banner was flattered, "You know about my work?"
"I'm not a genius, but I can spot one when he's in front of me" Clint hesitated "There's a S.H.I.E.L.D file on you, I read it before I came here. I saw the doctorates, the schools, I even tried to read some of your published work. It's above my head but I can appreciate it."
Bruce bit the side of his lips, looking down at his hands, "It's been a while since...the Other Guy...he usually gets most of the attention."
The archer felt his heart swell up in his chest, something like sympathy and admiration weighing it down, "It's not all about him, is it? You're still here."
"Barely" there was a hint of bitterness, a bite creeping into his calm tone "He's what people expect."
"It's what Fury wants, isn't it?" Bruce insisted "He's after the monster."
"What would it matter if he was? One sigh of danger and – bam" Clint snapped his fingers "Just like that, you're gone. You can split anytime."
The doctor didn't find it as amusing, he removed his glasses and set them back in his pocket, "You think it's that easy?"
"I don't see why not" the agent replied.
Bruce's lips pursed, his eyes drifting along the floor to trace the patterns of dirt there, "What do they call you at S.H.I.E.L.D.?"
"Hawkeye" he admitted "I'm the only archer sniper in the world."
"A hawk?" Bruce nodded slowly, passing the table so they stood face to face, only a dozen feet separating them "Have you ever been caged?"
"Yeah" Clint swallowed thickly, thinking of his days in the circus under Swordsman's thumb "But just once."
"Every day I'm alive, someone wants to cage me" Bruce explained, his voice a shade darker and rougher than it had been a moment ago "I eat, sleep, and treat the sick knowing that at any given moment someone could be setting me in their scope. Do you know how hard it is to live knowing so many people want you locked up? Or worse, dead?"
Barton faltered at that, eyes dropping for the first time to the floor. The doctor saw the weakness for what it was, an opening. He moved too quick for Clint to react properly, throwing the younger man into the wall with a burst of strength the agent didn't know the other had possessed. Clint went limp against the brick, shocked and maybe even a little turned on.
Bruce got in his space, grabbing him by the neck and revealing the bright green his eyes had gone. Clint went for the knife in his belt only to have his wrist snagged and wrenched up behind his back, the doctor effectively pinning him and pressing their bodies close.
"I won't be caged" Bruce growled, chest to chest with the younger man.
"I don't want to do that to you" Clint tried not to moan as the warmth from the man's body bled through their clothes, doubled now with the Hulk so close to the surface "If I thought this was a trap, I wouldn't have taken the mission."
"Then tell me the truth, little hawk" Bruce pushed his arm up higher, driving it nearly to the top of his back. Clint arched to relieve the pressure, driving his body right up against the older man's. It didn't hurt, not yet, but grip around his wrist and neck told him it could be. He tried to break the hold only to find Bruce had more strength than he let on, he moved like he'd been trained in some sort of martial arts.
"Fury would prepare in case you transformed" Clint confessed, going on speculation "Maybe a room or something that could stand your strength. He didn't tell me anything definitive."
Clint relaxed once the grip let up, ignoring the fullness of his cock pressing up against his pants zipper.
Bruce watched the boy sag in his arms, for the first time seeing the tint of his eyes instead of their intent. They were gorgeous, dyed the color of storm clouds and holding a heated promise. This boy was like heat lightning, brilliant and sharp. He didn't smell like he was lying. Bruce felt compelled to believe him, but he had to push. He always needed to know the limits and this agent was different, the mixed signals throwing him off.
"If the Other Guy came out right now" Bruce started tightening his grasp on the younger man's neck, feeling the pulse beneath his fingers flutter while his own flashed on his wrist "If I crushed your windpipe...who would save you? How many should I expect to come baring down on me?"
"No one at the moment" Clint didn't regret it either "I'm here alone."
"Would you defend yourself?" Bruce asked, eyes dancing over the other's handsome face "You look fast...could you reach your bow before I transformed?"
"There's no point" the archer tried to shrug, the fingers around his wrist flexed warningly "If you decide to kill me, doctor, I'm pretty sure you'd get your way."
"I never get my way" Bruce replied under his breath, beyond surprised that this young agent would come here alone knowing what he was "You wouldn't hurt me?"
"No" Clint couldn't quite catch his breath, the green fading from the older man's eyes "Do you want to hurt me, Bruce?"
If Clint was dry lightning then the energy crackling between them was the equivalent of a thunder storm. It was palpable, the almost violent thrust of their bodies much more lustful without the threat of the Hulk making an appearance. Clint flushed, the doctor released the arm behind his back but not his grasp on the arch of his throat. Their breathing picked up, the green fading even as the heart monitor flashed quickly in time with his racing pulse.
"No" Bruce admits, sounding wrecked even to his own ears "Not at all."
It was a natural progression, their storm breaking to let the tension flow away like water. Bruce pulled him closer, going slow as if to ask for permission. Clint let instinct take over and parted his lips, hoping this was going where he thought it was. His last partner had been almost a year ago and that had been some Swedish blonde brat who got off on being pinned face-down-ass-up. This was a man who was about to kiss him, someone just as filthy as he was from this country. Bruce was as far from his normal type as he could get. Salt-and-pepper hair, rough stubble, dark curls peeking up from the part of his shirt...and most of all stronger than him.
It was new and exciting.
Bruce brushed their lips, just a soft pressure, but it was enough. He moaned, the sound ripped from his throat without his permission. It had been years since he had kissed someone, even longer since he'd touched another man. He broke the contact before he could embarrass himself further, finding the younger man looking just as entranced as he was sure he himself looked. The boy's eyes had darkened to a deep blue, fathoms deep, full of uncertainty and need.
No, he didn't want to hurt this deceptively delicate hawk.
Bruce shifted his hand to the back of Clint's neck, no longer threatening but pulling him into another kiss. This time it was real, firm and wet from seeking tongues. Fingers sunk into his hair, the archer groaned into his mouth at the sensation. He grabbed Clint by the waist, spreading one of his hands across the dip of the man's lower back. With only a little firm pressure, every inch of their bodies met. They slotted together like puzzle pieces, the doctor's eyes fluttering shut when he found that missing piece. That scent from earlier, the spicy one, was arousal. They both stank of it and it was glorious.
The real missing piece, what he'd been aching for all this time, was intimacy.
This agent (this stranger) was sinking into his arms and pulling his hair, and he loved it. This person trusted him, was kissing him, letting him touch his body...it was so human. Bruce kissed the archer with all he had, taking whatever he could in case it was about to end. Clint's hand found his side, fingers firm across his ribs. How long had it been since someone had touched his ribs without the intent to break them? When was the last time someone had bit his lip like this?
Bruce ran his thumb up to the younger man's ear, brushing it along the shell. He felt something smooth for just a moment inside his ear, catching the edge of a bump and instantly realizing it was a hearing aid. He dropped his hand back to the archer's neck, ignoring that little fact for now.
Clint broke away first, letting his fingers flex in the doctor's soft curls, "I'll tell Fury you got away."
"No one will question you?" Bruce couldn't let go, not yet "I don't want you to get in trouble."
"They think I'd rather pull out my own teeth than admit I failed a mission" Clint grinned, face still flushed "I'll just tell them you were too smart for me."
Bruce chuckled, hesitating just a moment before taking another kiss. The archer responded favorably, Bruce sighed in relief and took a few more moments to take this contact.
"I don't know what I'm doing" Clint confessed against his lips, refusing to break the kiss completely "I don't do this with all my targets, I promise."
"I would hope not" the doctor actually smiled, another first in a while "I don't usually maul my patients like this."
"You'd have a hell of a lot more if you did" Clint sounded a little like a swooning girl so he cleared his throat and tried again "You mentioned something about taking my blood?"
After some reluctant parting, they settled down at the rough table side by side. Bruce went throught eh meticulous task of cleaning the syringe, the needle, the lid, and finally the archer's skin. Clint leant back into the seat and watched the doctor go through the routine, suppressing a fond smile. This was the big bad Hulk? Banner was nothing like he'd expected.
Clint reached up and touched his throat with his free hand, sighing at the phantom feel of the doctor's fingers. It was a heady mix of a thrill and a threat, the most effective interrogation he'd ever been under. It wasn't every day he knuckled under like that.
Bruce noticed this, preparing the syringe to connect directly to an empty vial, "I'm sorry about that."
"Don't be" Hawkeye assured him, taking the tourniquet he was handed and tying himself off just above his elbow "If I were you I would've kicked my ass the moment I got in the window."
"I've learned to suppress those urges" Bruce gently took the man's arm and laid it across the table, brandishing the syringe "Are you ready?"
Clint nodded, not even wincing when the man pierced his skin, "Blood must be like diamonds here."
"Like you wouldn't believe" the doctor made sure the blood was flowing smoothly before he looked up "Just so we're clear, I'm not going to S.H.I.E.L.D. for any reason."
The assassin shook his head, "I don't expect you to, Dr. Banner."
Bruce ran his thumb across the agent's wrist, praying he wasn't being too forward, "I think you can call me 'Bruce' now."
"I don't know, 'doctor' suits you" Clint tensed up when the sting became an issue. Bruce picked up on the signal and adjusted the needle, his movements careful and calculated to alleviate the pain.
"Better?" the older man asked after a moment. Clint nodded, touched by the notion.
"I won't tell them I found you" the archer's voice was soft, barely a whisper "But you should move on soon, just in case. It only took me a month to find you but I was determined."
Bruce's eyebrows shot up into his hairline, "How determined?"
"Pretty damn determined."
Bruce ran his tongue his tongue over his teeth, something in the back of his mind demanding he push just a little bit more, "So how much can you hear naturally?"
Clint froze up, fingers curling up into a fist just beside the doctor's arm.
"I'm sorry, that was out of line" Bruce started to released his arm but the archer grabbed him, keeping him from moving away "I felt your hearing aids earlier."
"I know, I felt it too" Clint confessed softly "I don't like to admit it. No one knows about them except for my handler and Nat."
The doctor looked confused, "Nat?"
"She's my...I don't know. My ally, one of my only friends" he couldn't really explain it properly, Nat and him "And the story behind these things...it's not exciting or anything."
"I'd like to hear it."
Clint blinked rapidly "Whoa, headrush."
"Hold still" Bruce gently removed the needle and put the supplies away quickly, stopping up the vial and setting it aside. He took a piece of cotton out of his medical bag, putting it over the little wound before he released the tourniquet. Clint let the doctor work, admiring the determined set to his brow, as if he were afraid to actually hurt the archer.
"I appreciate this" Bruce stated, eyes still on the other man's arm "It'll give me a control substance to test on. I'm still not sure what they have."
"You'll figure it out" Clint assured him, pumping his arm up and removing the cotton to see the bleeding had stopped "You still want to hear about...you know?"
"I'm about...eighty percent deaf, naturally."
Bruce spoke with his hands, the archer surprised to find the doctor knew ASL, You don't sound deaf.
"These things are pretty good" Clint reached up and tapped his hearing aid "I catch almost everything and I can read lips. They aren't waterproof but they get the job done."
Bruce pulled out his glasses once more and slid them on, "May I see one?"
Clint hesitated, but one look into those inquisitive dark eyes and he couldn't say no. He carefully slipped one out and handed it over, watching nervously as the doctor examined the device. Sure fingers took it apart, picked through it to examine all it's features.
"How did it happen?" Bruce inquired, praying he wasn't prodding at a sore spot.
"There was this douche bag controlling super heroes with hypnotic ultrasounds" Clint began waving it off like it hadn't been one of the bloodiest battles he'd ever seen "He was forcing them to kill each other. Me and Mockingbird, one of my friends, we managed to take him down."
Bruce began to assemble the device once more, "And how did you manage to escape?
There was a pregnant pause, the archer trying not to cringe at the memory.
"I..." Clint rasped, closing his eyes to fight off the phantom pains shooting through his head "I took a sonic arrow and I shoved it in my ear...then I did it again."
Bruce's eyes widened.
"Yeah" Clint's smile was weaker, more defeated "You're not the only one who doesn't like being controlled. I'd rather take my own hearing than let some bastard lock me up in my own mind."
The doctor seemed to soften around the edges, "There's a lot more to you than meets the eye, Agent Barton."
His smile grew stronger, "I could say the same for you, doc."
"It's a nice piece of machinery" Bruce commented, handing the aid over "I'm no engineer but I'm sure I could create something even better. The range isn't wide enough to cover all the ground an assassin needs. I could make it waterproof and I could increase it by a hundred feet."
Clint brightened, "Seriously?"
"With the proper lab, I could" Bruce corrected himself "That kind of technology is miles from here."
"Maybe one day" the archer caught a glance at his watch "I should go, let you sleep."
"I don't think I can sleep now" Bruce confessed "But I won't keep you."
The archer raked his teeth across his lower lip, scrambling for reasons to extend his visit, "When was the last time you had chocolate?"
The doctor brightened, realizing the man wanted to stay, "Too long."
"I've got some snacks in my bag" Clint thumbed at the rucksack "Since I'm technically done with my mission, there's no reason not to gorge ourselves on it."
Bruce stood, "I'll put on some tea."
Clint wasn't really into that hippie-drink crap, but as he watched the older man's ass while he walked away he thought maybe he could grow to to like it.
Next prologue should be up next week, all depends. Now I'm off to do homework