DISCLAIMER: The Avengers are not my bitches. They're nobody's bitches. Not even S.H.I.E.L.D.'s though Nick Fury's being eyeballing them for a while now.
WARNING: Includes the word people use to describe their lives. Clue: #fml Plus, some minor classical and Crazy Frog bashing
A/N: So every fic I've read assumes that Bruce prefers classical or other soothing music to Tony's heavy metal because he doesn't seem the 'type' and because of his big, green issue. And I righteously and indignantly take offence cause I'm shy, reserved and a total science geek in real life and people are surprised when they learn I like hard rock. So I whined and bitched about it, then this happened.
Oh, and, no offence intended to all you classical and crazy frog lovers out there, all music is lovely, I just don't think Tony Stark will agree with you.
Also, please note that I haven't actually managed to scrounge up 101 worst things about Tony, I don't think I could even if I tried. Feel free to add any more in that big box all the way down there. *hint, hint* ;D
The worst thing about Tony Stark was his impulse. Or so says Pepper, Rhodey, being supported in their claims by JARVIS and Dummy, and everyone else contributing to the book of '101 worst things about Tony Stark' not excluding his fellow Avengers who were only too eager to give their input.
Sure, if the definition of impulsive was coming on to very hot, very blonde reporters, coming out to the world as Iron Man, inviting, and browbeating till accepting said invitation, a certain scientist with a tendency to turn into a big green rage monster when things got a little too exciting to his R&D facility in Manhattan, the city central of excitement. Tony might as well have his picture with the Stark logo in the dictionary next to the word impulsive. And also in the aforementioned 'worst things' book.
Said book wasn't exactly a famous publication, since it's not in fact published, or even written, except in Tony's head, where it stayed an inside joke between Tony and, well, Tony.
The second worst thing was his taste in music. Now playing Led Zeppelin. Volume to the maximum point.
If anyone thought there was a long and complicated back story on his love of heavy metal, they were wrong. His mind was a busy crossroad of mathematical formulae and theories of physics and philosophical thoughts crossing in all directions at the same time. Hard rock and heavy metal acted as a musical Adderall for his hyperactive mind, and did nothing whatsoever to subdue his hyperactive personality. It may have in fact made it worse, but who's taking notes? Apart from JARVIS and Pepper, that is.
And maybe the silence bothered him a little. Not much, mind you. It was just too quiet, too empty...too lonely. Sometimes when the silence in his head got too deafening that he would get sucked into this big black hole of nothingness. However much like poetry it may sound like now, trust him, it was not a fun place to be.
Okay, so it was all a bit more long and complicated than Tony let people believe.
It was not that he couldn't work without Metallica, Motorhead or AC/DC blaring through his speakers; it was just that years of habit were hard to break. And hey, it was not like anyone else came down to work in the workshop other than him, right?
When Tony had invited, i.e. faked a flight delay, made a 'wrong' turn to Stark tower and it's late, I insist. No, no, it's just the one night-ed, Bruce, impulsively he might add, he had not given much thought to the scientist's lodgings or labs or research or, as it turns out, his favorite type of music. The prospect of sharing his toys with the shy new kid in class made him forget to wonder if the other kid might actually like them.
The third worst thing about Tony Stark; he was a selfish bastard.
Ignorant too, blissfully and blatantly ignorant of all this until JARVIS subtly hinted at the issue. Tony was pretty sure subtle hinting wasn't a part of JARVIS' initial programming. Then again, a lot of things JARVIS was now hadn't been in his initial programming.
"Sir, is there any special preference in today's music in relation to Dr. Banner's presence in the workshop?"
"Nope, not really, unless you wanna pull out the trumpets and red carpets-or green, he'd get a kick out of that" Tony chuckled. He was mid-process of fixing Mark VI which by all rights hadn't even completed yet, before it was destroyed almost completely, thanks to creepy-ass aliens from outer space, not in the least excluding Thor.
"It is to my belief that Dr. Banner may appreciate that a lot less than you would"
It then struck Tony that, in spite of their similarities, he and Bruce were in no way the same. It should've been a clue to what was coming next.
"Sir?" JARVIS probed just as Tony stuck an electromagnetic thermo-nuclear-regulator in his mouth while he tried to push back the face plate Thor had not-so-gently ripped from the rest of his suit days before. Tony made a metal note to show the Asgardian how to remove the faceplate without damaging the surface structure for future reference.
"WadrrrnaJhrrrss?" The regulator vibrated between his teeth. He switched the faceplate with the regulator from hand to mouth. What? He's had worse things in his mouth.
That's what she said.
"What I meant was whether Dr. Banner himself had any specific preference"
JARVIS to Pepper translation; your new buddy may not appreciate the ear drum bursting noise you call music.
"OH!" The faceplate dropped from his mouth and slid across the floor. Dummy tore after it, bumping into other tools sending them scattering across the workshop, which Tony ignored for the time being.
"Oh, okay. Alright then, put on something Banner likes"
"How exactly am I supposed to acquire that information, sir?" JARVIS was the only person who could put that much emphasis on how much of an idiot he thought Tony was all while sounding perfectly neutral. Some people might make an argument that an Artificial Intelligence system cannot be classified as a 'person' and Tony thought some people were just plain stupid.
"I…don't know, you've got SHIELD's files on him, don't you?"
"The section solely dedicated to musical preferences was unfortunately missing from the information collected on the Hulk" JARVIS deadpanned back at him.
Dummy whirred back and dropped the faceplate at Tony feet proudly, which-ouch! by the way. Tony patted his bot's sensory detector absentmindedly. He couldn't get so worked up. It was just music, for crying out loud!
"Sir? Dr. Banner is en route to the workshop as we speak"
Fourth worst thing about Tony Stark, he swore like a sailor on crack.
Fuck. Fucking fuck, fuck, fuck!
"Stop the fucking mullet rock!" Tony ordered and the pounding bass line was cut off abruptly. The resulting silence made him wince. Him and silence didn't really bode well together since the end result was usually panic attacks and flashbacks and just not good shit, alright?
What would Bruce like? He was a scientist, right? Tony's been to science conventions, mostly on Pepper's nagging and once there he amused himself by ribbing off all the other scientists and showing off his engineering genius, but the music was always the same type, boring, generic and so, so classical.
He relayed this to JARVIS who complied with a very dry "Very well sir"
The doors slid open, and Tony in his haste to get back to work tripped over the faceplate at his feet and fell onto the battered and broken Mark VI suit. To add insult to injury, somewhat literally, Dummy proceeded to meticulously extinguish the non-existent flames from his body.
His life was just one ridiculous crisis after another, Tony realized from his rather undignified position on the floor covered in foamy white fire extinguisher, his head throbbing from where it hit the armor's chest piece and to top it off there was god-awful classical music now humming from the speakers.
"Stark!" And Bruce was at his side, stopping short of actually touching him, like maybe Tony wouldn't want to be touched by him. Tony rolled his eyes at that and held out his hand determinedly in what he hoped was Bruce's general direction. It kinda hard to tell, there being more than one Bruce swaying from side to side on his vision and all.
Bruce, unable to resist his ever-present instinct to help people, pulled him into a sitting position slowly and cautiously.
"Are you-?" He started to ask as Tony started to pull sticky clumps of fire extinguisher out of his hair, all while glaring at Dummy.
"I'm fine" He reassured Bruce, putting on his trademark Stark smile ©Copyright Stark Industries.
Bruce wasn't buying it. Perhaps that had a little something to do with why Tony wanted him to stick around. If Bruce saw through his expert bullshitting in mere minutes (what would've taken most people years and years of knowing him) maybe, just maybe, he saw the Tony Stark underneath the armor and the corporate image. He saw the frail and flawed human being, and still respected and liked him, then it was good enough for Tony, because he respected and liked Bruce back.
"In my profession, I've come to learn that those two words have no meaning at all"
"I'm great. Brilliant. Fantastic!" But Bruce still looked unconvinced. "Trust me, I've had worse" And what was sad was how undeniably true it was.
"How many fingers am I holding up?" Which had to be literally the oldest gag in the book.
Four blurry appendages swam in and out of view. Tony resisted the overwhelming urge to blink as it is sure to give him away.
"Two" Tony had practice lying through his teeth since he was 7. He made to stand, but Bruce's hands had made their way to his shoulders, gently but firmly keeping him seated.
"Woah, woah, woah, hold on"
"I passed your test, didn't I?"
"I was holding up one finger, Tony"
He eventually stood, regardless of Bruce's disapproving expression and his aching body from where the armor had pressed against him.
"You!" Tony pointed an accusatory finger at Dummy "I swear to God I'm dissecting you with a can opener and pulling out your circuits one by one with a spoon"
Behind them You twirled in distress, misinterpreting the direction of Tony's annoyance.
"No, not you You, Dummy!" He touched the bump forming on his head and winced "I need ice-no Dummy, I didn't mean you! Don't you dare-"
He gave up and settled for mouthing curses at the heavens when Dummy brought over the entire freezer and dropped it. Tony had to jump back in order to avoid having it crush his bare feet.
"Good boy" Tony sighed. Bruce, bless him, looked as bemused as the next person when it came to Tony's interactions with his bots.
"When I was a kid, I wanted a dog, my dad wouldn't buy me one, so I started working on robotics and here we are" Tony gave in form of an explanation "The shape wasn't quite right for a dog though, because I kept installing more and more new things that no dog should be able to do and upgrading… "
Bruce gave him that lopsided half smile of his and let Tony ramble on about coding and CC+ after kneeling to retrieve ice from the freezer and held it with light pressure against the side of Tony's head.
"I had a dog once, three in fact" Bruce seemed surprised he offered this information voluntarily, which in turn surprised Tony.
Uh oh. Wrong route. Tony sucked serious balls at talking about feelings and shit like this. He usually let Pepper handle things when it got too out of his hands. Yes, he should probably call Pepper right about now. He opened his mouth to tell JARVIS to disrupt the annual general international Stark industries meeting and get the CEO on the line when Bruce stirred the conversation back to a less awkward direction.
"What's with the fire extinguisher?"
"Dummy's paranoid about fire, which was not in his start up programming, but I have programmed learning protocols and I'm bit of a pyromaniac so he…" And Bruce let Tony blather some more about programming and even jumped in to add alternatives Tony could have used, because he's just awesome and science-y like that.
Now the throbbing eased under the cool pressure of the ice, he could hear the slow, nausea-inducing classical music JARVIS has picked. He grimaced. This, what he was hearing right now, had to be the worst possible song ever to be recorded in classical history. For a moment there, he almost preferred dead silence to this.
But this was for Bruce, so he was gonna endure it, and be pleasant about it, even if it kills him in the most painful and violent and bloody ways.
Worst thing number #5 about Tony Stark, he had a tendency to be overdramatic.
"So, where do you want me?" Bruce questioned a little hesitantly, after Butterfingers and You cleaned up the workshop, Dummy sulking in the corner he'd been confined to, in no uncertain terms, for the rest of the day and Tony had come back from his post-Dummy fire extinguishing-shower, which had become a sort of ritual by now.
Tony waved anywhere and everywhere, not trusting himself to open his mouth without ordering JARVIS to hack into and forcibly remove every classical song from every network in Britain. Because JARVIS can and will most certainly do it. Bitching about it in the most respectful yet snarky ways, true, but he'll still do it for Tony.
Half an hour in, and Tony was already hoping for a giant meteorite to come crashing through the window of the tower and put him out of his misery already or for a another alien attack so he could use it as an excuse to shut down the damn music.
It wasn't that Tony actively detested classical music per se, but he was picky by nature and when there was something he liked he usually stuck to it and ignored pretty much everything else. He liked heavy metal, mullet rock, loud, raucous, dirty, you get the idea, he ignored every other genre ever to have existed.
For good reason, as it turned out now.
Tony gritted his teeth behind his lips and tightened his grip on the wrench dismantling the suit so hard that his skin stretched taut and white over his muscles, but at least he wasn't holding a press conference and announcing his intent of bringing down the classical music industry. So bonus points for him.
Tony chanced a look across the lab and surprising saw that Bruce's reactions mirrored his, actually they mirrored Dummy's who motored in a circle mournfully in the corner, and since Bruce was not in the same disgrace, Tony could only assume that he had serious issues with the music.
Now that won't do. That won't do at all. Tony suffering alone for Bruce's sake he can take, but both of them suffering for no real reason was simply unacceptable.
The sixth worst thing was that Tony Stark is a child. A very stubborn, whiny, annoying, bratty child.
"Oh my, will you look at the time! We should get something to eat"
"I really don't think it's time-"
"Tony, I'm in the middle of-"
"Food!" He risked sounding like petulant as opposed to sending a tape missile to the classical composers. They're probably already dead. To their graves it is then.
"Fine!" Bruce retorted, and then looked sheepish for dropping down to Tony's level. It seemed to Tony that the universe had a pretty sick sense of humor to make Bruce, who was the kindest, politest, smartest, best man Tony's ever known, into someone-thing-one that was the far opposite of everything Bruce was.
"I got Happy to drop down Indian cuisine for us, thought you'd like that, being a hermit in India for god-knows how long. I've never tried it before, but I've never tried Shwarma before either and it wasn't the worst thing I ever tasted-that's what she said!-so I thought …" Tony kept his narration flowing as he not-so-discreetly lead Bruce to the door.
"I'll be right behind you"
Bruce quirked his brow briefly but nodded and made his way out the workshop.
Tony heaved a sigh of relief when JARVIS changed frequencies without even being asked to as soon as the doors shut after Bruce. Ah, the sweet bliss of hard rock. And yes, innuendo intended.
The seventh worst thing about Tony Stark is he manages to make crude sexual references to pretty much any and every thing that crossed his path.
"Classical music is evil!" he announced to no one in particular. "And Stravinsky is Satan"
Dummy rocked his head in agreement, though Tony suspected it was mostly to get back into his good books and be allowed back on fire duty.
"Dr. Banner seems to agree with you on that front sir" JARVIS intoned. "And the musician happened to be Strauss, Richard Strauss" And did Tony ever regret downloading James Bond into JARVIS' memory banks.
"So classical music is a no go then?" Trying to sound disappointed was extremely difficult in this particular context.
"It seems so at present" His AI agreed helpfully.
Tony didn't bother hiding the shit-eating grin spread across his face. If he and Bruce couldn't love heavy metal together at least they could hate classical together.
"But perhaps a second experiment is in order to increase the reliability of that conclusion" And there the helpfulness ends.
"You are evil!" Tony informed him.
"He may have disliked the song specifically and it may not reflect his thoughts about the genre as a whole"
Tony made a sound that was half groan and half moan. For Bruce, for Bruce, for Bruce, he repeated like a mantra inside his head.
"For Bruce?" He said out loud as confirmation, though it came out more as a question.
"Then what are you waiting for? Bring it on!"
After the impromptu brunch break, JARVIS had planned a playlist of the most excruciatingly, mind numbingly dull classical songs starting with Stravinsky, just to be annoying. Tony bravely and valiantly trudged on through the day, getting little work done. Bruce, ditto.
The scientist was working on a cure for his big, green problem and didn't seem to be getting too far along in his cause. Which Tony had learned when he peeked surreptitiously over the Bruce's shoulder. The only option on the table right now was waiting for the gamma radiation to decay over time. The only catch was that it would take a good part of a millennia for that to happen. At least according to Bruce's calculations of the gamma wavelengths used in the experiment/accident and half life of the radioactive sample. So unless, there Bruce knew the secret of a very, very long lifespan that Tony didn't or he scored an F- at maths, the process of radioactive decay was not helping.
This classical shit sure wasn't.
After they broke up for dinner, which Tony would usually miss being too busy or pass for a drink, Tony sat up in the workshop alone with rock 'n'n roll and JARVIS trying to figure out how to up the ante for tomorrow.
Bruce had no family or friends that Tony knew of except for, well, the Avengers, and Tony almost laughed at the prospect of calling Captain fucking America about Bruce's taste in music. He could draw a flow chart on all the different ways that one conversation could go downhill, starting with 'hello'.
"Sir, may I suggest we embark on a trial and error way of determining the music genre Dr. Banner favors"
"You actually may be on to something there Jarvis"
"Flattered, I'm sure, sir" JARVIS said sounding anything but. Then Dummy set the blender on fire. For someone so enthusiastic about preventing fires, he does his fair share of starting them as well.
Over the next few days he tested Bruce to every genre of music ever invented from country to hip hop to rap. He even explored lesser known brands like house, techno and some-whatever the fuck-thing called trock.
And don't even remind him of the agonizing 30 seconds Crazy Frog before he snapped and arranged another impromptu snack break. This experiment was doing wonders for his otherwise detrimental eating habits, Tony must say.
Bruce's reactions varied, from mildly uncomfortable to very uncomfortable, but never able to completely relax and actually enjoy any music playing. And it had to be the music because Bruce was relaxed enough in general in the tower and completely at ease in Tony's company.
Conclusion; there was not a single brand of music that Bruce Banner actively enjoyed.
"JARVIS, any bright ideas on what I'm supposed to do now?"
JARVIS was silent. JARVIS was never silent. JARVIS was one smarmy talkative bastard and had database entries on how much Tony hated the silence and he…
"Shall I provide you with verbal instructions through the course of the session, sir?" In the same gentle tone he asked Tony to call Pepper when he was riding the nuke into space through the portal. And Tony was 400% certain that pity was definitely not something he had programmed, or ever wanted from anyone. But his mind, as huge as it was, often blurred the lines between pity and sympathy or compassion. Though Tony was sure he hadn't programmed those in either.
Tony knew JARVIS was trying to help Tony in his own way, but this, for once in his egotistical, self centered life, wasn't about Tony, it was about Bruce.
"Nah, thanks anyway, J" Tony muttered softly, and then switched to his smug persona. Just for practice. Or maybe because it was easier. "Don't worry, I'm on it"
"With all due respect sir, that's what you said when you were attempting to dislodge the debris from the turbine routers of the SHIELD helicarrier"
"With all due respect JARVIS," Tony mocked the AI's droll tone "I vini vidi vici'd the hell outta those suckers" Conveniently declining to mention almost getting shredded to tiny gold titanium pieces in the process.
"Sir, Dr. Banner-"
"Yeah, got that, thanks" Tony took a deep breath "And the music special for the menu today is; silence with panic attacks as the side dish.-Oh, and just to be on the safe side, you're on mute, got that, buddy?"
No answer from JARVIS. Mute, right.
"What's up, Doc?" he greeted his friend enthusiastically as he entered the lab.
"Did you spend the night here?" Bruce crinkled his forehead reminding Tony a lot of the failures of paper cranes he had made out of his business memos "Again?"
Taking in his faded Black Sabbath T-shirt Tony had worn for the 4th day in a row and the pancake size black circles around his eyes no doubt, but Tony had hardly had the chance to get any work done because of this whole music fiasco so inevitably he's been forced to pick up the slack by pulling all-nighters. Though it's really no different from his usual behavior when there were no fiascos at hand.
"I really like this shirt" It wasn't a lie, so hopefully Bruce's 'Tony Stark lie detector' won't pick it up.
But his 'Tony Stark deflect-o-meter' sure did.
"Tony, it's not healthy, and as a doctor-"
"PhD., not M.D." Tony interjected because he had never grasped the concept of shutting the fuck up so why start now.
"-As a friend! I'm morally obligated to drag you kicking and screaming to bed!"
"I think you're stretching a bit from friend to kinky lover there, big guy"
Bruce palmed his face, though Tony could see underneath the hand, he was fighting a smile. Tony decided he liked seeing Bruce smile and liked being the cause of it even more. The man was so tense and jumpy and well, angry 98% of the time that moments like these were all the more worth it.
"Shall we play, doctor?" And they quickly fell into their usual routine with the new addition of silence.
Tony was actually fine with it, the silence, for about the first few seconds of it. Tony was regretting ordering JARVIS to mute, he was regretting not wearing a damn pair of Stark Industries ear phones and getting it over with, he was regretting ever being born, scratch that, conceived in the first place.
He couldn't breathe. He was drowning. No, sound waves travelled through water, they didn't travel through vacuum. The air was being sucked out of his lungs. He was dyin-
Tony gasped in a breath, and holy hell, let's never, repeat, never, do that again, yeah?
"I'm fine!" He protested almost reflexively "I'm great. Fan-fucking-tastic-"
Bruce apparently hadn't noticed his lab partner dying at the next table and had simply called out to him because;
"I…er, just wanted to know if you could put on some music, if, if" Bruce coughed self consciously "If you're… um, okay with it"
Tony stared at him. For days he's been trying to find the type of music Bruce was into, and his conclusion was there was no type of music Bruce was into, ergo he was into silence, ergo panic attacks, and now Bruce was telling him there actually is a type of music Tony-scratch that, JARVIS had missed?
Bruce, misinterpreting his silence, as easily as You misinterprets Tony scolding Dummy.
"I just thought-since you put on a lots of music-different types-every day and none today I-You" He took a deep breath "My father killed my dogs, all three of them"
Tony blinked at the out of way last statement. No, no, no, no, no no, they were heading back to the emotional talk. He should say something. He really should. What should he say? What do people usually say? This kind of shit only happened in movies. That's it, movies! He watched movies! Movies he could do! What was it they say in the movies?
"Oh, er, um, sorry?" he offered weakly.
"He was a mean drunk" Bruce went on, ignoring Tony completely. "He used to fight with my mother. There were screams, and curses and breaking glass" He cleared his throat "And one day, there's suddenly this, silence…. Turns out, turns out my father killed my mother. So ever since then, I always put on music to drown out the silence"
Silence. Dreaded fucking silence. Both of them trying to think of something, anything to say, because apparently they both hated silence's guts in equal measures.
Tony felt like, like-he never was one to talk about how he was feeling- like what he felt in the helicarrier when Bruce admitted trying to blow his brains out.
And Tony, he didn't want Bruce to have to go through all that shit. He was a nice guy, the kind of guy who apologized when his arm accidently bumped into Tony's in the lab, the kind that would come and unleash the Hulk on a flying alien-dragon crossbreed even though it was the last thing he wanted on his To Do List.
Not the kinda guy who deserved to contemplate suicide because of what he was and not the kind who had a phobia of silence because of a shitty childhood.
Bruce wasn't Tony. They were not the same person.
"I can wear headphones if you-"
But they were so damn similar.
"My dad was never around" Tony blurted out "And even when he was, he didn't notice me. It's like I didn't even exist. He may as well never had a kid as long as his had his precious Capt-" Now was not the best time to bring his Steve Rogers issues to the table "The silence eventually got unbearable, so yeah, music" he cleared his throat.
"Take your pick. Anything, anything you want, JARVIS can get for you" Tony tried to go for nonchalant but something told him he wasn't quite pulling it off. Well he never could pull off anything but the truth around Bruce.
Bruce chose Metallica.
The eighth worst thing about Tony Stark was that he was an arrogant ass, who thought he was always right in his scientific theories and assumptions about people, and he mostly was, except for the times he wasn't and was left a stuttering and disbelieving mess on the floor.
"Sorry, don't you like it?" Bruce adjusted and readjusted his glasses nervously. "I'll choose something el-"
"No-yes-I mean, I love it!" Tony tried to contain the utter disbelief he was feeling from his voice "I thought you didn't. So I was trying to find something you did"
Realization sparked in his chocolate brown eyes.
"So that was why-?"
"Stravinsky, Strauss, Mahler-"
"YES GODAMMIT! YES!"
Not complete realization though, because Bruce went;
" 'Cause…" What could Tony say?
Because no one's ever liked it before, no one's liked me. Because I actually like you and want you to like me and not judge me on my music taste.
Because the silence is so much fucking better than being alone.
"It's because of the Hu-the other guy isn't it?"
-Wait, what? What the fuck? What the actual fuck!?
He may have said that out loud, because Bruce flinched like he was slapped, and hastened to explain.
"You're not wrong to think things, little things like that affect my mood, it does, and it's perfectly logical to fear I would lose control"
Oh, okay. That actually makes sense, except the fear part of course, but Tony hadn't thought about that at all, too wrapped up in his selfish thoughts. See worst thing #3.
"Bruce, buddy, hate to burst your big green bubble, but not everything revolves around your alter ego" Said the kettle to the pot.
Bruce raised his hands in surrender and gestured for Tony to put in his two cents.
Tony hesitated because, did he mention he wasn't a talk about your feelings kinda guy?, but Bruce needed to hear it, so he told his manly, macho self to go take a hike.
"You know, when people hear a heavy metal song for the first time, they are immediately put off by it. It's too noisy, it's too explicit, too flashy, too..." Tony took a deep breath and propelled forward even as his brain was hollering 'RETREAT! RETREAT!' and flashing red lights at him. "People don't actually listen to the lyrics because they hate the music so much. If they do, they can understand that, that" Slow. Deep. Breaths. That's the key. Just breathe. "I didn't want you to hate the song because of its music, before you even got a chance to hear the lyrics"
Yeah, that metaphor sort of got away from him. Big time. It was never just about the music.
Bruce stared in silence for a moment, for the duration in which Tony internally freaked out.
"Tony, I think we've established by now that I'm not 'people'"
"Yes, you are" Tony defended his friend from himself instinctively "You're the most people-est person I know, and, trust me, I know a lot of people"
Bruce gave him wry grin, like when Tony said that one day the Avengers will have a fan base that'll dressed up as them and go to Comic Con, humoring Tony but not necessarily believing what he said. Like it was funny, like it was a joke that Tony considers him a person, human.
"I like the song, music and lyrics and all" Bruce said softly, like Tony's the one that needed reassurance. And maybe he did. But that didn't mean Bruce didn't either.
"So Metallica it is!" Because Tony was a moment killer and incapable of a real, grown up conversation as stated as worst things number #9 and #10.
JARVIS put on Master Of Puppets which was…oddly appropriate. Another glaring fact that wasn't in his programming. But there was nothing in any of his bots' programming that made them do stuff Tony wanted them to, made them think what Tony wanted them to. There only ever was choice and free will in their programming. And they chose to be with Tony. Just like they chose to form unhealthy relationships with fire extinguishers and blenders. And hell if that didn't make him feel worth a million bucks, disregarding the fact that he already was worth many millions of dollars.
"Oh, and unmute, JARVIS" Tony tried to go for apologetic, tried being the key word there, but the AI stubbornly refused to speak. He always got a bit offended and tetchy after Tony mutes him.
"Diva" He added and the temperature spiked up several degrees because JARVIS was passive aggressive like that. Wonder where he learnt that from?
He unblushingly took off his vest, then rolled it up and tossed it on to the counter. What? It was near 40 degrees Celsius. Besides, he's seen Bruce naked. Like naked-naked, fully unclothed, completely bare of any modesty or-
"You're a good man, Tony, a great man" Bruce finished his earlier train of thoughts, innocently, not for a single, solitary millisecond guessing that Tony was thinking about him naked.
"That's not what the book says" Tony muttered under my breath but Bruce must have super senses or something because he heard Tony perfectly.
Tony didn't even hesitate in telling Bruce, which was kinda surprising because hello, inside joke!
"The 102 worst things about Tony Stark" In truth, Tony was trying his hardest not to laugh. It's the way he's trained himself not to get hurt, turn everything into a joke, so you can laugh at life instead of cry.
Bruce on the other hand looked like he was having a hard time keeping a lid on his anger. Tony swore he could even spot a tint of green over brown, but it was gone in a flash, and Bruce took a few deep breaths before saying in a low and serious tone.
"For every bad thing about you I could write a 100 good things about you"
Tony blinked in surprise, and made to say that it wasn't an actual book and more like people saying 'That, right there, is one of the worst things about you' and eventually it piled up to make one big hypothetical book that Tony chuckled at when he was bored.
Really, Bruce and You should get a room where they could hold their 'misinterpret-ers anonymous' meetings. However, before Tony could inform his friend of this tiny, slightly relevant fact , he went;
"God, It's so hot in here, I feel like I'm on fire"
"Dummy! NO! Don't you da-!"
Too late. Bruce was introduced to Dummy vigorous fire safety rituals. First hand.
When one fiasco ends, another begins. What was really surprising was that Bruce hadn't lost his cool and hulk-smashed Dummy into dust with that giant green fist of his, considering how close he was before over a stupid book which wasn't even a book. But Banner was inordinately fond of that piece of useless junk. But then again, so was Tony.
Dummy was still confined to the corner for the rest of the week though. Good parenting. Watch and learn.
A few days later, Tony found, ironically enough in the same place he had found Pepper's pedestal for his first arc reactor all those years ago, a book.
The 10,002 best things about Tony Stark, it read, in comic sans no less, because maybe Bruce was a little bit evil too. Written and illustrated by Dr. Bruce Banner (PHD.)
Tony stared at the cover for a good minute and half before venturing forward, convinced it was some kind of hilarious, practical joke. But practical jokes weren't really Bruce's style, which usually consisted of witty one-liners and insults you would only understand next day morning.
It wasn't even simply a list of things numbered 1-10,002 it was practically a scientific case study with full on theories, examples and conclusions.
Bruce must have thought Tony'd get a kick out of that.
There were lots of reasons why he was not a major douchebag, some of them small, some of them huge, but all in perfect seriousness. Which was a new thing for Tony, who didn't do serious.
Tony Stark is funny and creative when he is insulting people. Some that Tony agreed with.
Tony Stark is endearingly (over)protective of his creations. And some that he did not.
Tony expected illustrations of the armor or the arc reactor filed under 'Tony Stark is a genius' and the suit, but they were of Butterfingers, You and Dummy holding up a fire extinguisher and there was no parts or mechanisms labeled, just their names and they were right under 'Tony Stark is human'.
The list went on.
Tony Stark is brave in battle.
Tony Stark is strong-willed.
Tony Stark is one of the good guys.
Tony Stark laid down his life to save the world.
Tony Stark is a hero.
That was the 10,000th best thing about Tony Stark.
Tony hid his face behind the book, because he didn't want anyone, namely Bruce, to get hold of JARVIS's surveillance recordings and see Tony blinking away the…er dust, lots of dust particles, that tickled his eyes and made them tear up and misinterpret it as crying.
Because he wasn't. No, really, he wasn't. He was not!
Dummy tore the book out of his hand because he did that to things that made Tony cry-which he was not doing, mind you-but Tony still had two more to go out of the 10,002, so he chased after his bot all around the workshop, because that's what sane and rational people did.
"Hey you, get back here! You're supposed to be in the corner dammit!" Determined to wrestle the book away from Dummy, colliding with You who had once again misinterpreted what Tony said and had appeared in record time bowling Tony over to the ground, and stayed there clicking nervously, till Tony got hold of his bearings.
"What are you waiting here for!? Go after him!" Tony gestured wildly at the trail of papers Dummy had left flying in his wake "And get that book back" And You whizzed after Dummy, leaving an even worse mess than before. For god's sake, they were supposed to be cleaning up Tony's messes, not making messes of their own!
It was probably not the wisest idea as a parent to set one kid after another, but Tony was not exactly 'parent material' and was feeling decidedly unsympathetic from all the way down on the cold, hard floor.
Whilst Dummy and You reenacted the bot version of Bumping Cars, Butterfingers joining in much too enthusiastically, glad didn't even begin to cover what Tony felt at the fact that he hadn't gone through with his fleeting fancy of installing thrusters to his bots. The last thing he needed was miniature Iron Men-bots having a cat fight in his workshop.
Tony's thoughts drifted back to what the remaining two best things on Bruce's list were. Technically, there should be 10,200 things because if Tony went by Bruce's calculations; 100 best things for every worst thing, there being 102 worst things. So unless, Bruce ran out of awesome things about Tony, which was completely understandable, frankly Tony was surprised he had got together this much, or he really did score an F- for Math, there must be something different about these last two.
When the light bulb went on in the brain, he was indeed ashamed that it had taken him so long to figure out, he was a genius after all.
His taste in music was not the second worst thing about Tony Stark, it was the second best. Tony decided he preferred Thor's and Hulk's 'Metal Man' to the media's 'Iron Man'. Heavy Metal Man. There's a nice ring to it. A better ring than Hard Rock Man had. Hmmm…maybe Rock Hard Man. Oh yeah! He's totally changing his super hero name to that. Although he suspected Fury might have something to say about a flying sexual innuendo being part of the Avengers.
Anyway, moving on to the top best thing ever about Tony Stark. Cue blaring trumpets and red carpets. That honor goes to his impulse. If it hadn't been for that Bruce wouldn't be here staying at the tower with Tony. He would be in Calcutta or Puerto Rica or wherever the fuck scientists with massive guilt complexes go to hide and play doctor.
100 good things for every bad thing, he'd said, but not if the bad thing wasn't really a bad thing at all, at least by Bruce's book, which was currently in the metal pincer clutches of a posse of very hyperactive bots.
Tony smiled face down at the floor, well out of the way of surveillance cameras.
They were still not the same, and that was just fine, but they were more similar than they thought they were, and that was awesome.
A/N: Arc reactor cookies goes to you if you're a heavy metal head like moi! 0_o Oh, and TARDIS cookies if you love Trock!
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