Disclaimer: I do not own these characters, they are the property of their creators, nor am I seeking to make a profit from this.
Bruce woke with a feeling of excitement tinged with annoyance. The annoyance came first, for he knew that it was still early because when he looked over to the bed next to his he could just barely see the blurry outline of Tony sprawled out across his bed. Then the excitement came because Natasha and Clint had promised to take them ice-skating a few days ago.
He laid his head back down and tried to fall back asleep, but the muted excitement, for almost all of his emotions came muted, though he didn't know why, was just enough to keep him awake. But he was never one for wasting an opportunity to be in a comfortable bed, so he stayed where he was, smiling softly and thinking about how fun the day would be.
A little while later, Bruce heard Tony start to move around and stretch. Then he went still for a moment before jumping up onto his knees. "Ice skating!" he cried, loud enough to make Bruce jump in the previously silent room. Steve also jumped, sitting upright and dazedly looking around. Loki groaned, and Bruce looked over and saw a very angry look on his face and quickly looked away. Thor was still snoring.
Tony jumped off his bed and ran out of the room. "I don't know how he's so excited when he just woke up," Steve said, tiredness still evident in his voice. Bruce decided it was time to get up, as he swung his legs over the edge and hopped down.
It wasn't long before everyone was awake, Pepper in the kitchen with Tony and Steve turning last night's mashed potatoes into potato pancakes, Clint and Natasha in the shower – and he thought they were together, which made him feel. . . weird – and he, Thor, and Loki were in the living room.
After breakfast they all got dressed in their warm clothes and piled into the elevator to head down to the parking garage. The traffic was pretty bad at noon on a Saturday but eventually they reached the mall that housed the biggest ice skating rink that Bruce thought he had ever seen – though he didn't think he'd seen many. . . if any at all. . . he couldn't be sure.
They found a parking spot fairly far from the entrance and everyone unloaded from the car, Loki complaining loudly that he was hot, and started towards the mall entrance.
"Loki keep your sweatshirt on, it'll be cold inside," Natasha said, grabbing his arm so that he couldn't pull it out of his sleeve.
"No it won't! I never get cold!" Bruce looked at Loki and then at Natasha, who hesitated for a moment. She looked like she was thinking something over. Bruce didn't know why, he was freezing. He could even see his breath!
"Ok, you can take it off, but put it on if you get cold, okay?" she entreated, and Loki nodded sincerely. At least he thought it was sincere. He had found that one could never really know with Loki.
"How can you be hot, it's November!" Steve cried incredulously, his hands shoved in the pocket of his pullover. He had on a hat and gloves, same as Bruce.
"Loki's always been that way, but I can't remember why," Thor said to Steve and Bruce. Thor also had his hands in his jacket's pockets but he didn't seem very cold, he wasn't even wearing a hat and his long blond hair was pulled back so it wouldn't get in his face while he skated. He looked mildly frustrated, like he thought he should be able to remember why Loki never got cold. Bruce pulled his hood up to help keep his ears warmer. He looked ahead and saw Tony in Pepper's arms, talking really fast about something. Bruce smiled, it always amused him how energetic Tony was – Bruce thought he was funny.
Once they finally got inside it was crowded, and much warmer. Bruce pulled his hood down and he saw Tony unzip his jacket. Bruce looked around at all the noise and felt his smile falter – it was extremely loud in here. He hoped he could tune it out at the day wore on. Clint noticed and picked him up. "Pick one sound and focus on that, not on the chaos of all the sounds here," he said into Bruce's ear. So Bruce looked around and decided to focus on Tony's constant chatter to anyone and everyone who will listen about everything that came to his mind.
Clint walked, holding Bruce, next to Natasha with the boys and Pepper with Tony right behind. Soon enough they made it to the rink, and Bruce smiled when he saw that there weren't very many people skating. Clint bought, with Tony's money, five kids passes, and three adult passes, and then moved to the other side of the benched area to the skate rental and rented eight pairs of skates. Natasha helped Bruce and Loki put their skates on, theirs being the only ones that they guessed correctly. The others had to go back and try a different size.
Stepping out onto the ice for the first time was scary, Bruce decided. He clenched the sidewall, and felt his heart speed up. He took a deep breath and took Natasha's offered hand, still holding the wall with the other and started forward. Steve was in front of them a ways, struggling but trying his hardest to not look like a fool in front of Loki and Thor, who were skating as if they had been doing it all their lives. Tony kept up with the two, but he fell every few seconds. He was undeterred, however, and got back up and kept going. Bruce glanced back and smiled at the comically alarmed look on Pepper's face as she skated behind he and Natasha, watching Tony.
It took him a couple laps around the rink, but eventually he got the hang of it, and let go of the wall, and eventually Natasha's hand.
"Come on Bruce!" Tony called as he stumbled past him, still going as fast as he could and falling every few feet. Bruce smiled and sped up as much as he dared, finally catching up to Tony (who had fallen once again). He grabbed Tony's arm.
"Do it like this," he said, demonstrating taking strokes just like he had seen Natasha doing it. Tony looked down at his skates and tried to do as Bruce did. He got the hang of it after a moment, and soon they were cruising right along.
"Let's go faster!" Tony exclaimed, shaking Bruce's hand off of his arm and taking it in his own. Slowly they started speeding up, until Bruce laughed at the cold nip of the air rushing across his face.
Just when he thought that they couldn't get any faster Tony fell. He had been expecting it, and landed on his hands and knees, but Bruce hadn't. His skate wobbled as Tony went down and caught the edge, sending him flying forward. He hit his forehead and everything flashed white for a second. Immediately someone was picking him up and pulling him to the side. He blinked blearily and saw Natasha's concerned face staring back.
"Are you okay Bruce?" Suddenly his forehead exploded in pain and he couldn't help but start to cry. His pulse sped up and he could feel himself starting to get worked up. He was mildly embarrassed, and his forehead hurt. "Oh honey, it's okay."
Natasha picked him up and skated across the rink to get to the entrance. "You're okay, it's just a tiny scratch." Bruce sniffed and tried to stop but all he felt was a brewing anger – anger that he had fallen, anger that he had hurt himself, anger that he couldn't stop crying. He took a few breaths and put his arms around Natasha's waist as she set him down on the bench and sat down next to him. He squeezed and tried to breathe and calm down – a small voice in him told him he had to calm down, bad things would happen if he didn't. Natasha put her arms around him and pulled him onto her lap. She patted his back, and put her cheek down on the top of his head and started singing a song that he didn't understand.
Eventually the feeling of Natasha around him, and her voice soft and soothing in his ear calmed him down. He stopped crying and pulled back to wipe his eyes. "You okay, buddy?" she asked. He nodded and scratched at a spot of blood on her sweater from his forehead. "Don't worry about that, it'll come out. Wait here, okay? I'm going to get a Band-Aid." He slid back down to the bench and Natasha stood up. He watched as she walked over to the ticket window and asked if they had a first aid kit. The lady behind the desk nodded and reached for something under the desk and handed it to Natasha. She came back over, sat down and opened it.
"There are not nearly enough supplies in here. . ." she muttered. Bruce sat up straighter and craned his neck to see inside. It was practically empty.
"You should tell a manager," he said helpfully. Natasha smiled.
"Yes, I should." She picked up a Band-Aid and held it up to his cut. She pursed her lips and put it back down. She picked up an alcohol wipe, a packet of gauze and medical tape and set about to taping the gauze to his cut after wiping it with the alcohol. It stung, but he got through it with only a little whimpering. "Such a trooper," Natasha said as she put the gauze on. When she was finished she balled the trash up and put in the garbage can as she walked over to return the first aid kit, stopping to let the woman know that they need to restock it immediately. Bruce laughed a little at the intimidated look on the woman's face.
"So, do you want to skate some more?" she asked when she walked back over. He thought for a few seconds, but ultimately the idea of going back out there had no appeal for him and he shook his head. "That's okay, I don't really want to either. Makes me think of Russia. Want to get some ice cream?" Bruce nodded enthusiastically, the pain in his forehead almost forgotten.
Oh my goodness you guys I am so sorry that this one took so long. I got hit with some major writer's block, and then I got attacked by a plot bunny for another story. As such, this is definitely not the last one, but it will probably be the last one for a while as I throw myself into the other project (which I will hopefully start posting soon-ish). Please keep sending me things you want to see though! I may get struck with some inspiration and crank another one of these out. I plan on doing a chapter for each of the boys, I just have no idea when those will be happening.
Please review! They make me so happy!