This is the last chapter of his life, Bruce likes to think. Hands mending broken bones, smiles lifted in his honor every time he ducks his head shyly when they bring him gifts. He knows they have hardly enough to eat, and yet they offer it to him freely? It is a gift he finds hard swallowing.
"They want you to eat it," Harry says, and Bruce turns to him, dirty apple in hand. The intensity of his green stare almost makes Bruce drop it. Bruce looks away, oddly flustered. As if Harry's stare was something to balk at.
"I know that," Bruce says softly, turning the fruit in his hands, wiping it clean as best he could with his torn shirt. (He does not like to think of what caused it.)
"Then eat it," Harry says, as if there weren't starving children outside, as if Bruce seriously needed the extra food. Maybe he doesn't understand, Bruce thinks, hopes, because although he does not like Harry, he does not detest him either, and maybe he just really really wants a companion (friend, if he's pushing it).
"No," Bruce replies, "they need food more than I do. Look at them, Harry."
Harry doesn't. Merely tilts his head.
"Are you not allowed to be hungry, as well?"
Bruce frowns then, not liking the turn of conversation. "No. I mean yes."
"Then eat," Harry dismisses, "You have been looking rather pale, as of late."
It's better than green, but Bruce dismisses the thought. He knows self-pity gets you nowhere. He sighs, and takes a bite, and surprises himself by chewing with enthusiasm. The apple is rather bland. He remembers a better taste, but he swallows.
"There," Harry says, smugness colors his tone, "Don't you feel better?"
Bruce does not answer, but he grins, and that seems to satisfy Harry. He blinks at the cracks in the ceiling again, furrowing his brows in thought. An old woman waits outside, supported by a slim young man, and he steps outside to help.
He does not notice Harry scowl.
Bruce does not doubt anymore. He is fine like this. He meditates everyday, inhaleexhale, and banishes the thought of broken furniture and bones under green fingers. Harry eyes him warily every now and then, mouth pursed, dissatisfied.
"What?" Bruce says, and Harry only looks away.
"What?" Bruce repeats sharply, and Harry sighs.
"Eat," the man says, "You are getting too thin."
Bruce complies, only because he is hungry and he does not want anymore soup. Belatedly, he notices Harry never eats. He entertains the thought of bringing it up, but sharp green eyes appraise him, and he abandons the thought.
More often than not, Bruce turns a blind eye to strange bizarre occurrences regarding Harry. He tells himself it's not his business, but mostly, he wants Harry's image to come out unscathed. So, when the other man grasps his broken glasses in stiff hands, and hands it back mended, and clean, he smiles and thanks him.
Some part of him wonders if Harry is a freak, an experiment gone wrong, but he quells the thought.
Harry's green is the prettiest and most appalling color he's every seen.
"I get my eyes from my mother," Harry comments one day, watching the women gather herbs in their baskets.
"Good to know," Bruce replies, wipes his hands in his make-shift towel.
"Where do you get your eyes, Mr. Banner?"
Bruce hesitates. "My father, I suppose," he says carefully, turning to Harry who didn't look like he particularly cared.
"What color would you say your eyes were?"
"Blue," Bruce answers easily, and Harry only hums.
The 'agent of SHIELD' gist is starting to dull in Bruce's mind, although he supposes Harry never claimed the title. He never denied it either.
Bruce's head is starting to hurt.
Inhale, Exhale, remember to breathe.
One day, Bruce forgets to breathe. It is nothing serious, at first. It is just hotter than usual, and he finds the heat irritating. His heart beat spikes, and he closes his eyes in an attempt to soothe it. Something rustles in the bush by him, and the click of someone's tongue is the last thing he hears before the dart hits him.
Then everything's greengreengreen and a world of hurt.
This was supposed to be the last chapter of his life.
He wakes up to fear in his throat, and loose pants in the other. He glances at the pants, and his eyes widen in understanding. The rubble underneath his feet only make his stomach drop, and he works to cool his temper.
"I found your pants," Harry drawls from behind him. Bruce's 'thanks' dies in his throat. He knows that SHIELD already knows about his condition, hell, that's why they were even tracking him. So why did he feel weird?
He straightens, and catches the eye of the little boy from before. A woman's arm is wrapped around his neck. The little boy recoils in fear, tugs the woman away from his vision. The action leaves a dull ache in his throat.
He breathes, slowly. "Who?"
"Unfortunately, I don't know."
Bruce shakes his head in bitter mirth. "I thought SHIELD knew everything?"
But he's not SHIELD, is he Banner? No, Mr. Banner, he's not.
Harry doesn't answer, shuffles closer, giving him a narrow-eyed inspection. Bruce shifts from his vision, uneasy. Harry feels different now. When he turns, he spies the debris he left the village in. He falters, eyes wide. He caused this. An abomination.
"What happened?" Bruce says, vaguely, voice faint.
"An accident," Harry says, "it happens all the time." It shouldn't happen all the time.
"Accidents happen," Harry repeats, and Bruce can hear the frown in his voice. Bruce counts to ten, as if it helped.
"You don't understand," Bruce says, voice heavy, "people died."
"Yes, that's what people do," Harry replies, unperturbed.
Harry can't understand, because he won't. There is blood everywhere (maybe it's just him), and Bruce changes his mind. Red is not prettier than green.
"Don't," Harry warns, scowling.
Harry doesn't understand. Bruce needs to change this vicious cycle of moving and fighting and burning. He can't do it anymore. He feels the burden on his shoulders sag, weigh him down suddenly. He takes a deep breath.
He comes to a decision.
"No," Harry says, like he could read minds, which Bruce knows isn't true (is it?).
"Banner," Harry snaps, "Do as I say."
Bruce deflates. "Okay."
"You're lying." And it doesn't matter, Bruce decides, on what he says. Actions speak louder than words.
"Maybe," Bruce concedes.
Before Bruce recognizes the touch, Harry's hands are around his head. The touch is cold, and Bruce finds himself recoiling from it. He stares into greengreen eyes and suddenly the world isn't what it is anymore. There is nothing but ink and skeletal fingers around his skull, drumming along the hollowness.
"I tried," Harry says, ancient and so sorry, that Bruce starts to get scared. And the other guy pumps along side him.
"I helped," Harry says, as if he were trying to convince himself, and suddenly it isn't green but dull and nothingness. Death.
"Consider it a curse," Harry says, finally, and there is something sharp in his head, digging and blinding, and the pain bursts against his mind like a budding flower. No, not SHIELD material.
"The next time you see me," Harry says, "you're dying." It is a statement not spoken with malice, nor ill contempt. Just a fact.
The other guy roars and screams and Bruce closes his eyes against the painful red spreading across his vision.
When Bruce wakes, Harry is not there.
When Bruce walks, Harry is not there.
When Bruce remembers, he cannot recall the taste of soup, nor where he misplaced his glasses. The little boy still cowers, and Bruce moves.
Over the months, Harry is not there (maybe, he was never there), and Bruce starts to forget. The only thing he can cling to is the greenness of Harry's eyes. Bruce decides it's better to forget. For all he knows (he has an inkling) he might just have encountered the Grim Reaper. He is not entirely sure what to think of that.
So, he forgets and mends and smiles at new faces, and they call him a miracle worker here too. SHIELD still covers him, and he still runs. It is getting repetitive.
And then he wakes up with his glasses in his hand that he knew he lost in a land far far away. Is it a threat? SHIELD? Someone following him?
Instead of pursuing the topic, Bruce puts them on, and continues his normal life, without green monsters and vague smiles.
Life is full, then.
The weight is heavier today, and Bruce chokes under the pressure. They offer him concerned looks, ask him if he needs help. He stares at their faces, looks at their brittle bone, and acknowledges how easy it would be to die, to go away.
He says he's fine.
Is it any surprise when he has a gun by the time the sun falls?
He does not want to hurt anymore. And maybe he's selfish and making this about him, but it's about all the other people he surrounds himself with. They don't deserve this either. And he is the other guy, so the only person losing today was him.
That does not prevent his fingers from shaking. He manages to hover the gun in front of his mouth, which was open. It does not matter if he is ready, he thinks.
This is the quickest, easiest, painless way, and if anyone deserves it, it's Bruce (right)? Before he regrets it, he pulls the trigger.
And there is no green anymore, just ink.
The other guy wakes up.
"I put a bullet in my mouth-"
And it burns- is this death? The afterlife? Perhaps. Burn for your sins, comes to mind. But then he remembers the pain, the hurt, and he remembers why and the when and how.
"Consider it a curse," he had said, hurting and binding and killing Bruce, in the head, up in his skull.
"You are not dying yet," he had said, implied, whispered. The other guy had screamed and roared like he was dying, and maybe he was-is- because sometimes, Death can be excruciatingly slow, and the other guy had screamed like Harry was killing him.
"The next time you see me, you are dying," Bruce remembered, and this is death- isn't it- because he wakes up to greengreengreen under burning eyelids, except- (the other guy had screamed, hadn't he? Harry did something, Death did something)
It is a very different green.
The other guy wakes up- and spits it out.
A/N: Thank you for all the reviews, favorites, follows, and C2 admissions.Sorry for the long wait everyone! This was supposed to be the ending, but I'm going to add an epilogue. There's a chance for a sequel, but this is a good ending, yeah? At least, I think. My writing style is a little different, isn't it? This will be my first multi-chaptered fic that's going to be complete. This was always going to be the ending, (inspired by Banner quote in Avengers), but I'm curious as to what the readers thought it was going. Did you like it? Unexpected? Confusing?
Thanks for reading, and as always, reviews, or flames (I know this ending will infuriate at least half of you, sorry) would be adored!