Everybody Needs Somebody
Summary: the fight is over, has been for some months now. Bruce and Tony have grown close, but what happens when their Friends With Benefits suddenly goes wrong when the Doctor begins to have feelings towards Tony that are more than just lust? Will Tony loose his favorite cuddle buddy, or will a friendship turn into something more than expected?
Bruce Banner laid in the custom made, luxurious bed that was owned by none other than Tony Stark. The bed was twice the size then a king and had more than enough room for at least eight people. But right now it only held one. Normally Tony would be at his side right now, legs entwined, his arm lazily thrown over Bruce's chest, his head buried in untamed curly hair, with Bruce's hand protectively on his hip and his face resting against Tony's gently rising and falling chest as the ark reactor gave off a subtle blue hue.
But no, Bruce was alone, laying on his back staring up at the ceiling with gentle brown eyes, one hand on his bare stomach, the other slowly bringing the cigarette to his mouth every now and then. He didn't smoke often, only at times like this, when he felt cold and empty, and more alone than normal. It wasn't like the cigarettes could kill him anyway; thanks to his gamma radiated cells he couldn't get cancer, or even a common cold.
Bruce looked over at the clock again, 3:45 a.m. shone back at him in neon green lights. How long had he been laying there now, five, six, maybe seven hours? Sleep never did come easy when Tony was gone. He had gone to some press thing all the way in Italy, and Bruce was starting to regret turning down his offer to take him with. He thought over their conversation in his head, remembering it as if it was only a few hours ago, not a few weeks.
"Bruce! How's my favorite cuddle buddy doing?" Tony asked, striding over to stand in front of the doctors desk. Bruce looked up from the notes he was studying.
"I'm fine," he answered hesitantly. Tony had that gleam in his eye that meant he was up to no good. "And I thought I told you not to call me that." he added realizing Tony was back to calling him his 'cuddle buddy'.
"Why can't I call you that? Isn't that what you call people who are your friends that you cuddle with?" Tony mused, sitting on the edge of Bruce's desk.
"I wouldn't know," Bruce said, "And because people might get the wrong idea. The last thing I want is Steve or Clint asking me if I'm gay."
"But you are." Tony pointed out with a smirk, moving the notes on Bruce's desk so he could scoot closer to the doctor. To anyone one else it would have just seemed like Tony was just trying to get comfortable on the hard surface, but Bruce knew better.
"That doesn't mean they need to know that." the doctor said sternly, eyeing Tony's leg as he subtly scooter over another inch.
"But I know," he pointed out, "and I intend to make good use of that knowledge."
"You already do." Bruce said smirking. The snide comment caught Tony off guard, and he laughed.
"Well played doctor, well played." He jumped off the desk, and leaned against it.
"Now, Mr. Stark, if you don't mind I am rather busy here. Is there a reason for interrupting my work?" Bruce asked replacing the notes Tony had brushed to the side.
"There is, I want you to come to Italy with me tomorrow." Tony said. Bruce looked up at him with wide eyes, before removing the glasses from his face.
"Italy? Why on earth would you want me to go to Italy with you?" Bruce asked.
"Because if Pepper goes she's going to make me do work, and not many other people have an appetite like yours big guy," he laughed, "We could taste all the wonderful things Italy has to offer while site seeing, and maybe hitting a few clubs." Tony offered, and Bruce had to admit it sounded like a wonderful offer. He played nervously with his glasses while answering him in what he hoped was a nonchalant voice.
"Tony, I'm sorry but no, I can't. Besides, isn't that breaking some fuck buddy code?" Bruce asked giving a small laugh. Tony flinched.
"Fuck buddy? Banner, don't go making this like your just some fan I'm using for sex. Hell we haven't even had sex. Friends with benefits and fuck buddies are two very different things for me. And I don't see how a few weeks in Italy would be breaking any rules."
"No dates, no kissing, no romantic gestures, no sweet words after sex, no getting into personal lives, no public displays of affection, and absolutely no 'I love you'." Bruce said, sounding like he was reading from some friends with benefits handbook. Tony rolled his eyes, and sighed dramatically.
"Oh loosen up! No one is going to assume this is anything more than just a fun trip unless you give them reason to." Tony said, and Bruce knew he was right. He knew he was slightly over reacting, but lately he had just been so paranoid someone was going to find out about their odd little friendship. Everyone knew they were science bros, and science bros don't give each other blowjobs at two in the morning when they were sleep deprived and working on some project or another. Science bros didn't tease each other subtly during battles to drive the other crazy so they could sneak off afterwards for amazing, adrenalin educed, fucking against a wall in some destroyed abandoned alleyway. Science bros didn't give each other hand jobs during staff meetings just to see the other squirm in his seat and try to keep his cool. No, hormone crazed teenagers and fuck buddies did that. They didn't have sex, because sex implied feelings, feelings more than just friends. They fucked, used each other for release and that was it.
"Alright, your right, I'm sorry." Bruce said, setting his glasses down on the desk and running a hand through his hair.
"So you will go with me?" Tony asked, smiling like he already knew Bruce would say yes.
"no." the doctor said flatly, and Tony's smile fell, his eye brows knitting together in confusion and, was that a look of hurt on his face? Bruce looked away, not wanting to see those caramel colored eyes look at him like that.
"Why not?!" Tony demanded, standing up straighter, crossing his arms over his chest.
"Because believe it or not, some people actually have work to do. Fury needs me to go over this Tesseract information, and I don't want to have him up my ass if he finds out I blew him off to go to Italy." Bruce said, noticing his tone had gotten a bit sharp and he took a deep breath to calm himself.
"Are you kidding? He is still having you study that? It's been months Bruce, Loki is gone, the alien army is dead, the Tesseract is in safe…" Tony paused, "well..It's with S.H.I.E.L.D. so it's in somewhat, safe hands, and we won. What's left to do?" he asked.
"Not everyone gets to run off and party after a war Tony, there are people who still need to clean up the mess." Bruce said, standing up and pushing his chair in.
"Where are you going?" Tony asked, sounding more hurt than confused.
"I need to sleep." The doctor answered, as he began walking to the door of the lab.
"Need a cuddle buddy?" Tony asked softly just as Bruce reached the door. The doctor hadn't come to bed in the past three nights, and Tony's nightmares had been keeping him up. But he would never admit that. Bruce paused, his hand halfway to the door. He turned his head around to look at Tony and gave a small smile. He knew when Tony offered to be the cuddle buddy it was because of the nightmares, but he would never let on that he knew. And he admittedly did sleep better curled up with Tony. So he nodded and waited for Tony before making their way up to Tony's room, for some well needed sleep. When Bruce woke the next day it was late afternoon, and Tony was nowhere to be seen.
Bruce jerked as a sudden hot, burning pain, hit his finger. He looked down to realize it was just the ash from his cigarette. Mumbling a curse he brushed the fallen ash off the blanket and brought the cigarette to his mouth, inhaling deeply, and holding it before slowly exhaling, watching the white smoke rise up, slowly flowing, making gentle swirls and shapes before disappearing into the air. Bruce reached over to the table next to the bed and put the cigarette out in the ash tray. He knew Tony hated when he smoked in the bed, but right now he just didn't care. He felt cold, and numb, tired, and just plain confused. He closed his eyes and asked JARVIS to play his mellow jazz CD, in hopes he might at least drift off a bit.
Halfway through the first song it suddenly shut off, and Bruce opened his eyes to ask why JARVIS had turned off the music but instead was greeted with a bright blue screen illuminated above him, and Tony's smiling face looking back at him. He looked to be in a hotel room.
"Good morning sleeping beast." Tony greeted as Bruce blinked against the sudden bright light. He glanced at the clock before glaring at Tony.
"It's four in the morning."
" Oh please," the billionaire snorted, "not like you were asleep anyway."
"And how do you know that?" Bruce questioned although he and Tony both knew Tony was right.
"Because I'm not there, duh!" Tony shot back with a smirk. Bruce smiled.
"How is Italy?" he asked to change the subject.
"Eh, it's Italian." Tony shrugged his 'I was expecting more' shrug.
"Nooo, really? And here I thought it would be Polish. Silly me." Bruce said sarcastically.
"I have to admit it would be a lot better if you were here." Tony said with a smirk, but it was only half hearted, his eyes giving away his fake playfulness and telling Bruce he really meant what he was saying. For some reason this really struck Bruce and he had to look away to hide a blush that was slowly creeping its way across his cheeks. Why were Tony's words suddenly getting to him like this? Bruce always knew Tony was found of him, the engineer made that clear the first day they met. But he knew Tony would never look at him that way. It's not he wasn't interested in men, which he made clear he didn't care what gender you were as long as you could show him a good time, it was just he wasn't interested in Bruce that way.
"Hey, you okay big guy?" Tony asked when Bruce didn't respond but instead moved into the shadows. Concern was clear in Tony's eyes, although he kept his voice playful. "You didn't get into my liquor cabinet did you?"
"No, no I'm fine, just tired. I finally finished that research paper, and now Fury wants another one on how the Tesseract affects brain waves." Bruce explained, which wasn't a lie, everything he just told Tony was true, but that wasn't the reason he was hiding his face.
"Which means you need to go talk to Clint about his least favorite topic." Tony concluded.
"Exactly. And not even Agent Romanoff could get him to speak too much about it." Bruce added.
"And even if she did she would sooner die than betray Clint's trust like that." Tony added. Bruce nodded. He loved these moments. The times when Tony could read the situation so easily, read him so easily. It made him feel like at least one person out there could understand him. There were times when Bruce wondered if Tony knew more about him then he knew about himself. The idea made his heart beat a little faster and he couldn't decide if that was good or bad. But he was soon pulled out of his thoughts when Tony suddenly remembered a hilarious incident that involved two drunken women and a pizza.
Bruce listened intently to the story, laughing and making funny comments that left both him and Tony laughing to the point of tears. Finally they had calmed down, and there was a knock on Tony's hotel room door. Pepper walked in already listing off their meetings for the day before the door was even fully open. Tony rolled his eyes at the monitor and Bruce laughed.
"As hard as work as ever I see." Bruce commented, catching Pepper off guard as she looked up from her notebook.
"Tony!" she snapped, " I thought I told you not to bring JARVIS ." she sighed and put a hand on her head as if to block off a headache.
"Nice to see you too Miss Potts." JARVIS quipped and the scientists laughed.
"That's new," Bruce noted.
"Added sarcasm to his hard drive." Tony informed him, " He may now use it whenever he feels necessary."
"You know you're going to remove that as soon as he uses it on you." Bruce said with a laugh.
"That is why I intend not to Doctor Banner, I find I rather like the new upgrade." JARVIS cut in.
"Smart." Bruce commented, honestly impressed. Even Pepper raised her eye brows in amusement. Tony only smirked.
"Well of course he is. I built him." Tony said proudly, as cocky as ever.
"Alright, well say goodbye to Bruce, Tony, we need to go or else we are going to be late." Pepper said and Tony sighed.
"Alright, see ya soon Brucey." Tony said with a wink.
"When will you be back?" Bruce asked
"Tonight, hopefully." Tony said looking at pepper to conform it. She nodded her head.
"That is unless we are late to this meeting." She added.
"Alright, alright." Tony pouted. "Pushy."
"Good by Miss Potts." Bruce said as she walked toward the door.
"See you soon Doctor Banner." She said, letting the door close behind her.
"You ever miss being with her?" Bruce asked suddenly, obviously catching Tony off guard. The engineer thought a moment.
"No, not really. She's happier this way, and besides, I think I found someone else who is more," he paused for a moment, "my type." He finished finally before saying good bye and ending the call. The blue screen disappeared, but Bruce barely noticed. ' I think I found someone more..My type.' What the hell did he mean by that?! When did Tony even start seeing someone else? And why the hell was he playing around with Bruce when he was seeing someone?! And why did that make Bruce feel jealous? These thoughts swarmed his head like angry bees. He sat up sharply, his vision blurring slightly from moving too fast. He thought about who Tony had been spending the most time with lately, but he couldn't come up with anyone other than himself.
"JARVIS ?" Bruce asked the always listening AI.
"Yes, doctor Banner?"
"Can I have a list of people Tony has seen since his and Pepper's break up?"
"That would be quite a long list, sir." JARVIS replied.
"Okay true, how about people he has spent the most time with?" Bruce offered, hoping that would narrow the search.
" I recommend you get a pen and paper, sir." Bruce quickly opened the draw of the table next to the bed and grabbed a pencil and pad of sticky notes.
"ready." He said, letting the AI know he could proceed.
"This list is in order of people he has spent the most time with to people he has spent the least amount of time with." JARVIS informed him before reading off the names slowly so Bruce could write them all down. "You, Captain Rogers, Master Clint, Director Fury, Agent Coulson, Miss Potts, and finally Agent Romanoff."
Bruce finished writing down the list then replaced the pencil.
"Thank you." he said, reaching down to the side of the bed to retrieve his shirt.
"May I just point out that you, sir, were by far above everybody on the list." JARVIS informed him.
"Okay" Bruce mumbled, only half paying attention to what the AI was saying. He was too busy focusing on the list. He figured he could cross Fury off the list, but then again, one could never be too careful. And if science taught him anything, it was that you always check every possibility.
Tony walked into his lab, grinning wildly.
"Daddy's home!" he announced and suddenly the lab came to life. Lights flashed on, his handy little robots began setting up for a day of working on whatever schemes work themselves into Tony's mind. Tony paused in his stride, "umm, JARVIS , music? You know I can't work without my music." Tony said and obediently AC/DC began to play throughout the lab. Tony scanned over the variety of screens, pushing them out of his way when he realized they weren't what he was looking for. When he finally found the screen with the notes he needed he smiled. "You know what? How about we let everyone know I'm back." Tony decided, and knowing what he wanted, JARVIS blasted the music through the entire tower. In only a few seconds he already had text messages from Pepper ordering him to turn it down, and Coulson telling him he was trying to work. His smirk grew and he tossed his phone onto the desk and began his work on his latest project. It's good to be back, Tony decided.