Author's Note: Okay, bad news: I cannot write Tony Stark. It's like pulling teeth, as much as I love him. I think it's because I've got self-esteem below sea level, so trying to actually fit inside the brain of someone so confident (*cough*arrogant*cough) is just beyond my ken. However, I did give it a fair shake, and now I have 2,000 words of Tony POV that I really, really want to burn.

Before I do so however, I am going to post it in a separate story and watch the flames roll in. When the story's nice and crispy, I'll probably take if off. A very nice reviewer requested this story, so I'm trying for them. I'm sure they'll regret ever asking and I'll lose what few reviewers in the aftermath, but I never go back on a promise, so... "Heeeeeeere's Tony!"


Tony Stark has always been the smartest person in the room—hell, the whole building, Maybe the city, depending on the area code and if Tony has had his coffee that morning.

Point being, he's not really used to having anyone outsmart him. It just doesn't happen.

And it doesn't happen this time either, although it comes a little close for comfort. When he glances at the security feed being hacked from SHIELD of the longhorn, he at first thinks that SHIELD's image quality just sucks. Okay, so does everyone's, when compared to his, but still, shouldn't a spy network be on top of this.

He looks away, because he's got bigger, Phase 2-y fish to fry, but then he looks back just in time to see the blip.

It's a fucking feedback loop. Someone's conning SHIELD and it's not him. This just will not fly.

He stalks down to the so-called god's pickle jar, easily getting past the door lock's security. It's like these SHIELD people want Tony to screw with them.

The door slides open silently, and Tony feels his mouth go dry.

Hopefully this particular SHIELD person wants Tony to screw him.

He looks a little younger than Tony, with slightly curly chestnut hair and brown eyes big enough that Tony can tell their color from here. He has an earnest, open face and lips that Tony bets look a million times better when they're smiling. They still look pretty damn good with that frown. He has long, restless fingers that are playing endlessly with the fabric of his perfect little white lab coat.

Tony wonders what else those fingers could play with.

He only tears his mind from the gutter when he realizes that his walking wet dream is, in fact, conversing rather intently with a crazy-ass murderer with daddy issues.

"Therapy's over, Doc Phil. Back away from the crazy." And back towards me.

"I think Doctor Phil might qualify as the crazy, in the scientific community at least." The man says without looking. He has a really, really sexy voice, sort of hoarse but also really soft and mellow. He sounds like he's just had the night of his life and now he's basking in the afterglow.

The man says something else, but Tony is a too busy fleshing in that scenario mentally to register it. He smirks, but makes an attempt to pay more attention to that voice. "What's the problem exactly?"

Other than the fact that you're not naked and we have an audience?

"The problem, doc, is that you're screwing with the security. Only I'm allowed to do that. And a feedback loop? God, that's so medieval. It's like you were trying to get caught." The brunet does this little head dip thing, cheeks blooming red, and that is fucking adorable.

"Well, I, uh, was sort of counting on the proximity scrambler to jam any new surveillance data acquisition to replace the loop—you know, innocent until proven guilty without the proving option?" He admits, ever busy hands tucking an errant curl behind his ear. Tony's hand itches, but his chest throbs.

He makes a note to check the arc reactor when he gets a chance, because that cannot be a good thing.

A proximity scrambler to jam any new surveillance data acquisition.

Tony might have the slightest crush. The thought actually brings him up short for a moment, before the ludicrousness of him of all people having a crush hits him and he can't help but laugh. Although he tries to curtail the response as soon as possible when he sees He of the Baby Deer Eyes's face fall. God, he can't think Tony's laughing at him, can he?

Proximity scrambler, for Christ's sake.

"Scrambler! I like you." A lot more than I should for someone I want to bang. He only says it to see the man's face brighten again, and that is dangerous, so he adds, "How did you sneak one of those on board without Big Bad Fury blowing the whistle?"

It's actually pretty easy, because although Fury is The Spy, he's also The Spy of a bygone age, and although he owns a lot of tech that doesn't mean he actually knows shit about it. But that's coming from him; he's curious about how this meek little man went about sneaking behind his employer's back.

"I built it after I got here, actually. I don't, ah, like being watched too much."

Baby Brown Eyes looks sort of uncomfortable here, sort of reminiscent of the worst kind, so Tony hums and sticks out his hand to get the scientist (doctor?) to focus back on him. Nothing cures what ails you quicker than a heavy dose of Stark.

Still, the smaller man goes for a handshake, and if Tony gets ahold of those long fingers he's not going to want to let go, which could look a little odd, so he bullshits something about brofists and watches as the man goes all adorably blinky and befuddled. Awwww…

Tony can sort of forget about the cute man when he's looking at the scrambler, because technology is his zen. He still feels his eyes on him, so intent and anticipatory, and he maybe takes a little longer than he absolutely has to inspecting the device in order to keep those eyes focused on him. So sue him, he can't appreciate the attentions of a hot guy through nefarious means?

Maybe if he says he likes it the man will like him? Nah. Brown Eyes will appreciate the honesty.

"Entirely rudimentary, utterly lacking in any finesse, and completely butt-ugly." The man looks like someone just ran over his puppy and then backed up. Okay, yeah, honesty is once again proven to NEVER be the best policy, especially when trying to score a date. "But for someone who isn't me, not too shabby, so don't look at me with those Bambi eyes like I shot your mama deer."

Which is actually also honest. Why hadn't he lead with that instead of the ugly comment…?

"…Bambi?" The man rasps, looking like his namesake after wandering into some high-power headlights. So. Fucking. Cute.

"Indeed, and I am your Prince Charming, here to rescue you from a life of mediocre technology!" He gives his best megawatt grin. Bambi blinks at him.

"I think you're mixing Disney films…" Aaaaand he watches Disney movies. Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a winner for Most Adorable Creature Alive.

"Oh please, have you seen Bambi? Gayer than a rainbow-shitting unicorn. Totally waiting for a hot slice of stag to sweep him off his feet—hooves, whatever."

Oh, score! He sees that smile Bambi's trying to hide.

"Well that's effectively, irrevocably and irreparably tainted a childhood classic."

Tony grins. "Oh, so you're a vocab vixen, hmm? Sexy."

So he's hot, brilliant and well-read. Okay. As long as he doesn't cook I think we're still safe.

Tony has long ago decided that his future partner, if ever he should be desperate enough to settle for just one, must be a genius in the kitchen to balance Tony's ability to burn… everything, both in the lab and on the stove. And every genius outside of the kitchen tends to be a disaster in it. Since Tony's future partner must also be able to keep up with him in the lab and in conversation, he's never met anyone who fits the trifecta.

Never.

Right, conversation.

"And all psycho-babbly. You actually a psychiatrist-unlike Doc P-then? With a kink for tech, 'cause I can work with that."

Oh yes, how he can work with that.

"Uh, no. No. Well, I am a medical doctor, but that's not really—"

Of course he is. But he doesn't cook, so it's fine. It's just a crush with a side of blistering sexual desire.

"Ooh, wanna play nurse?"

Bambi makes a little helpless sound that bypasses Tony's ears and heads straight south of the border. God, imagining that sound on a bed, and with his mouth-

"Do you need me to defend your honor then?" Oh, that coat rack did NOT just ruin Tony's fantasy.

"Cool your jets, reindeer games. Not much defending's going to go down with you stuck as a lab rat." But this does remind Tony that he can't really ogle Bambi properly with Creepy McCreepers watching, so he turns to the adorable man and says, "And cuteness is a pass for many things, but having an unauthorized gal pal chat with a unstable war criminal is not one of them. You're with me, Bambi."

There's that squeak again, which what he was going for, and he can't help but take the excuse to 'help' Bambi out of the room. He's just a helpful guy, what can he say?

It feels like holding a bird's wing, all slender delicate bones and warmth.

…But he can't cook.

"Say goodbye to the nice psychopath."

Bambi shoots him a surprisingly wicked smile. Woah. That's… okay, that's pretty sexy. Not really any way to talk around that one.

"I'll bring you some pillows and a blanket next time for your bench friend!" He calls to the psychopath. Huh. For a twitchy guy he's got some balls, bantering with a man who probably wants to rip his throat out.

Note: Do not think about Bambi and balls together in a sentence, under any circumstances, unless there are nearby means to shield one's lap from view.

"A key would be lovely as well." Smarmy bastard. Tony's supposed to be the only smarmy bastard around here. Luckily then they are alone, which means that Plan: Be the Hot Slice of Stag that Sweeps Bambi Off His Hooves can fully commence.

Second order of business: consult Agent Coulson for tips on catchy acronyms.

First order of business:

"Right." He whips around. "ASL?" Bambi looks charmingly befuddled (what, has he been living under a rock for the entirety of the 21st century?), so he clarifies: "Age. Sex. Location."

"Um, 35, no thank you, and two feet away from you?" Which, okay, ouch on the sex part, but he can work on that.

He chuckles a little bit thinking about the results of working on it, and Bambi looks at him nervously. Seriously? Why is he so sure that Tony is going to laugh at him?

Right, because he's Tony Stark.

"Are you for real?" He asks, because no one is this smart and this innocent to the workings of the Internet.

"Reality is only an illusion, albeit a very persistent one."

Aaaand he quotes Einstein. Screw taking it slow.

He steps close enough that he can see the working of the shorter man's throat when he swallows, but he's not pushing Tony away. He's just looking up at him with those big doe eyes, like he's waiting for Tony to make the move.

Perfect.

He opens his mouth to tell Bambi so, but he doesn't get a chance because the embodiment of America's nosy, overbearing big-brother nature chooses that moment to appear and insinuate that Tony was forcing himself on the scientist.

As if he ever had to force himself on anyone. Bambi was totally with the program.

Right?

He looks over for confirmation of this fact, but then Bambi's watch is beeping and he's ditching Tony in the middle of the hallway with the good Captain in full-on lecture mode.

Tony stares after the retreating back of the scientist before it disappears around the corner.

What just happened here?

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And later Tony will discover that of COURSE Bambi is actually Bruce Banner, whose theories Tony has actually substituted porn with because really, which one is more stimulating?

And of course he saves the whole fucking planet even though he ISN'T on the super powered super awesome rescue team that Fury dreamed up.

And of course he's so fucking likable that not only do two trained assassins, the entire population of a top secret spy organization, and a Norse god think he's the best thing since sliced bread (which, admittedly, awesome); oh no, he's got the bloody villain singing his praises and giving up a life of crime to go braid daisy chains on Asgard for the rest of his immortal days.

The world must be punishing him, because he just seems to keep finding ways that Bruce is perfect, and yet he has yet to discover how perfect he looks under those fugly shirts. And, the universe laughs, he won't be able to because Bruce is going to pull an Ilsa and get on that plane—airship, whatever.

Tony is not nearly so selfless as Rick. Then again, Bruce probably doesn't have a dapper husband waiting in the wings to swoop in and reclaim him, so Tony's pretty sure he's not completely in the moral wrong here when he guilt-trips Bruce into living with him.

He's not sure what he's going for here. He still wants to sleep with Bruce (God does he want to sleep with Bruce), but he does not do 'living together'. That's only a step away from tying the knot, a thought gives Tony hives whenever he thinks about it. So when(if) he does sleep with Bruce, where does that leave them? Awkwardville, that's where.

So he sort of resigns himself to just being friends with Bruce, with maybe a consolatory one-night stand in there somewhere with a stranger to alleviate tension. Great, just two science bros working together to make the world a more awesome place. Great.

He definitely doesn't tell Bruce that he would have sent a full centurion of doctors to Calcutta to make him stay. He doesn't want to come off desperate.

Of course, he already must come off as drunk, because okay, he drinks when he's nervous and what is more deserving of nerves than asking a total (glorious) stranger to live with you?

Yeah, thought so.

Still, he may not be strictly as drunk as Bruce seems to have the impression he is, but he thinks that any man in his position would do the same when offered a chance to hang off Bruce Banner like a limpet. Okay, maybe any gay man, but Tony's pretty sure that Bruce might be enough to sway some straight ones too.

Besides, he gets an unobserved look at Bruce and JARVIS's first meeting, which goes perfectly might he say. Bruce handles it as though he's had a sentient AI butler every day of his life, and later when he's telling JARVIS to wish Bruce a good night the AI says to him, softly,

"Master Bruce has already done so, sir." There is a note of something almost warm in the voice, and if any human could inspire loyalty in an AI that they didn't create, it would be Bruce Banner.

"Of course he did." Tony says, smiling into his pillow.

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The death knell comes in the morning, when Tony fails once again to make something edible. They make pizzas on the grill! Why is Bruce looking at him like making pancakes on it is so ridiculous.

It's Tony's fault. He makes the mistake of retorting that it's not like Bruce can do any better, because somewhere in his mind he's already decided that Bruce can't cook, because no god would be that cruel, to dangle Tony's perfect man in front of his face and then say 'look, but don't touch'.

Except apparently there is, because Bruce smiles bashfully at him and says that he can make a few things, yeah.

No. This cannot be true. He is lying to save face. He'll make Bruce put his money where his mouth is, and then he can let this stupid, stupid crush go and just be friends with the not-perfect-after-all Bruce Banner.

A half hour later, Tony bites into a crepe that rivals the ones he's gotten in France and tries valiantly not to start screaming.

He's can outnerd Tony on particle physics, snark with Tony in his worst mood and Jesus, can that man cook.

It's the fucking trifecta.

Bruce makes a happy sound and licks a smudge of jelly from his lower lip. Tony wants to both hit his head against the table until the image is dislodged from his brain and lean over to lick it off for him.

He might be in trouble here.