Science Bros Headcanon #121

Tony's vision is not 20/20 and he wears prescription sunglasses. Tony hates that he needs glasses because he's aging, and Lasik's right out (he has a phobia of lasers near his eyes when he's not in direct control). Although Tony wears contacts when he's not wearing sunglasses, he'll occasionally forget to put them in. Bruce was the first to discover this when he caught the engineer squinting at some of his notes, and grabbing Bruce's glasses for a quick once-through (Bruce wears his glasses for small print, too). Now, Bruce has begun leaving an extra pair of glasses around just for Tony. Tony hasn't caught on yet.

A/N: This fic took a ridiculous amount of research i.e. googling from "prescription sunglasses" and "contact lenses" and "Lasik's eye treatment" to "The most hard and complicated physics theory" to "Does pepper make your eyes water?"

Thanks to the headcanon-er for headcanon-ing and sciencebrosheadcanonsDOTtumb lrDOTcom for pitching the prompt.

Cookies to my awesomely awesome beta, Riverdancer17, who stopped me from committing title-slaughter and has been a pair of Bruce specs to my Tony's eyes.

DISCLAIMER: If Tony and Bruce belonged to me, they'd belong to each other, if you get what I mean ;)

That's an A, definitely an A, it certainly looked like an A, but only...Tony squinted at the notes he had jotted down about the armour's repulsors last night over pasta with Bruce and kinda looked like an E too, or maybe even an O...

The pasta sauce sure didn't make it any easier. Nor did the fact that it was scrawled barely legibly on a 4x4 folded paper napkin.

Drunk was a good excuse-wasn't it always?-so was overworked, injured or just plain tired. Better was aliens or magic, or even Loki, which was basically a combination of both.

But no, he, Tony Stark, multibillionaire, genius inventor, playboy and (behold the new tag) superhero, was longsighted.

Cue shocked gasps and frantic whispers.

Not that it was a real problem per se considering, Hellooo? Multibillionaire! So he can afford the top of the line prescription sunglasses, a cheerfully coloured variety, and by top of the line he meant that they looked less like visual aids and more like a vain, flashy devices to boost his ego and PR cred. Also, genius inventor here! so he can modify the thinnest, softest corrective contact lenses without breaking a sweat.

Like he said, not a problem, except for his aging issues. He wasn't dying of it. And it seemed like nothing when compared to certain other aspects in his life, in most of which he actually was dying. And he couldn't even dream about comparing it to one Bruce Banner's big green issue.

A, E or O? Tony rubbed his currently contact-less eyes and stared at the blurred version of his own handwriting. He should've written bigger, Tony finally decided, and/or more clearly. Or not forgotten to bring his contact lenses. That certainly would've helped considerably.

The fact that it was his own fault why he was in this situation didn't make it any easier for him. If it was someone else's screw up he would've forgiven them for it-teased them mercilessly, made fun of them 'til they begged for mercy, no doubt, but also forgiven them instantly. Himself? Less so.

It was not the first time he had forgotten his contacts in the lab. However much less irritating and uncomfortable his own were compared to other contacts on the market, he always preferred to have his own naked eyes opposed to silicone layers when he was working, so he frequently found himself trying and failing miserably to read notes, mostly his own, since he didn't bother referring to anyone else's unless it was to publically humiliate them; it was a Tony Stark thing.

When this happened, he usually had JARVIS read it out loud for him and then proceed to spend the rest of his time at the workshop griping pathetically about how his kids could see better than him and how it made him feel so. Damn. Old.

But this time was not like any of the usual times. Oh no, because Bruce Banner was in the lab with him. Did he forget to mention that part? Oops. His bad.

He gave what he hoped to be a subtle wink-nod-point at the sauce stained notes, hoping JARVIS would pick up on this and raise him from this hell of staring at a single word for a quarter of an hour and counting.

JARVIS didn't notice, seriously; worst AI ever, but Bruce sure did. He glanced up from his own notes, written in a perfect manuscript so much more neater than Tony's messy scrawl, taking off his own pair of reading glasses, and raised an eyebrow expectantly.

When Tony failed to follow up with anything, he pressed.

"Tony, if you need my help with anythi-"

"No, no, I don't, I really real-"

"-You know you can ask -"

"Banner, there is no need-"

"-I know I'm not an expert in your field but sometimes a fresh pair of eyes could give a different perspective, a clearer vision-"

Tony really needed Bruce to shut up about vision sometime today. He admits he was getting quite touchy about his decreasing eye sight. It's the first sign of middle age he's had, since he never got to see his hair graying. Dyeing it in a variety of colours over the years before settling on a darker shade of brown, he'd continued with the process simply because he could. Some, namely Pepper and Rhodey, might say he was in denial about his approaching age seeing how he acted, and is still acting, in that place between childhood and adolescence.

"Just a little fuzzy about quantization of the electromagnetic field" He lied glibly because a) he was good at lying, b) lying was good and c) he didn't have the faintest inkling what else to do because lying was practically his automatic response.

Bruce looked doubtful at this, but gamely dropped what he was doing and refreshed Tony's memory which did not need refreshing in any way whatsoever.

Somewhere between the concept of creation and the annihilation operators of particles, Tony decided Bruce would make an extremely good professor. Patient, knowledgeable, and quite frankly, able to put up with Tony's insanity, which added up to all the craziness of a lecture hall full of Physics majors.

Job done, Bruce turned back to his experiment and Tony, after nodding his thanks, blinked back at the notes about repulsor speed and power output in his hands. He should've known better than to write it on a damn napkin. God knows where the world would be if Archimedes had written down his theory on a bar of soap instead of running all around Greece, naked from top to bottom, while Eureka!-ing.

But there he, Tony Stark, had been, fully clothed, and randomly spouting the equations and half sentences over dinner, none of which contained 'Eureka', but Steve had glared at him in a way that suggested that dinner in the 40s consisted of the sounds of cutlery and chewing only.

Tony had rolled his eyes but lapsed into silence. He then ensued to steal Bruce's napkin since he hadn't bothered to get one for himself and between the smudges of tomato sauce written everything that had come to his head because he had this inclination to forget everything he had thought of the night before. Usually he rambled on all night and had JARVIS replay the clips in the morning. But, thanks to Steve, that was no longer an option. Oh, you lost your earth shattering breakthrough? Gee that's too bad, but hey, at least there's peace and quiet at the dinner table. But really, what should he have expected when he invited Captain America to dinner?

E? No, It couldn't be an E since the second letter was an E too. That is, at least it looked…

He rubbed his eyes vigorously and tried again. Now…now it looked more like a C...Fuck this shit. He knew he should've taken the Lasik's eye surgery option but the lasers aimed at his pupils in the direct control of some idiot med student who'd done a beginner course in Ophthalmology made him uneasy, well, paranoid would be a better word and played hell with his trust issues, which were worse than his aging issues. Right now, it was ranking top on his list of stupid decisions, and that was saying something because he made an awful lot of stupid decisions. For a genius.

Frustrated, he kept rubbing his eyes until they started to throb and water. But it only made the scribbles harder to read.

Some indeterminate amount of time later, Bruce glanced up briefly only to visibly balk at the same time as taking a step forward. Yet another example of how Bruce Banner was living proof of a study in contradictions.

"Tony, you-are you…are you alright?"

Tony realized what exactly he must look like to Bruce with streaming red eyes held over a napkin. Great, just great.

"Pepper!" He improvised, and then winced. The last thing he needed was Bruce to think he was tearing up over a lover's feud. "Not my Pepper, but pepper pepper, you know. That thing you sprinkle over food to make it spicier"

"It was in the napkin" He added because Bruce was still looking at him like a puppy that was watching his best puppy buddy being kicked. "The napkin was too close to my eyes"

Fortunately Bruce didn't ask why exactly it was too close to his eyes or why Tony would have it with him at all, because Tony had run out of excuses, good or otherwise, like yesterday.

They spent hours working-correction Bruce spent hours working, Tony spent hours staring at the same orange crusted spot of the paper napkin.

He was very well on his way into admitting defeat, that he, who could take out dragon-alien-crossbreeds from outer space, was outdone by a paper napkin covered in tomato sauce and his own handwriting, when Bruce announced that it was getting late and he was going to go to bed.

Tony was, of course, heartbroken.

"But why?" he whined and pouted like the mature and successful entrepreneur slash part time superhero he was.

"To sleep" Bruce supplied "What else could you do in a bed-wait, don't answer that!"

Tony grinned, but it went as quickly as it came when he realized Bruce was serious.

"Why?" he repeated. Like a broken Billy Carrington record. Why, why, why?

"Like I said, late" Bruce nodded significantly at the traitorous digital interface clock flashing 12.09 in bright blue. Tony didn't even know why it was there since time meant as much to him as gay men do to lesbians.

"But that's normal, boring people-late, not late for you!" It was true; Bruce's average late was around 2-3 a.m. There was currently a competition as to who can stay awake the longest. Tony's leading, obviously, his average being hardly going to sleep at all.

Bruce chuckled. Tony sulked.

"Fine, fine, go on ahead" Tony knew he was acting like a teenage drama queen on prom day when her boyfriend wanted to leave early, but couldn't bring himself to care. "See if I tell you about inventing teleporting in the morning or, or discovering time travel or…"

"Good night, Tony"

"Hope you lie awake for hours feeling guilty about leaving me all alone in a cold, dark lab of misery and pain and…"

Bruce just waved cheerfully on his way out. It was only then, when Bruce was out from seeing range that Tony allowed himself a smile and well out of hearing range that he muttered;

"Nighty night, Brucey"

He then sighed and half opened his mouth to ask JARVIS to transcribe what was on the napkin when he spotted Bruce's wire rimmed glasses on the workbench opposite him.

He shouldn't. He really, really shouldn't. Not because Bruce would mind, because he wouldn't, Tony was certain of that. It was just that he shouldn't.

All the more reason to do it.

So just like that, he slipped on his teammate, housemate, and science buddy's pair of wire rimmed spectacles and mentally made a note to make the edges smoother and the glass a lot less thick. It wasn't at all close to the comfort of the sunglasses or contacts he was used to. It felt foreign with its slightly damaged wire frame rims and the nose pads kept digging awkwardly into his nose.

But, to quote a great philosopher, something was better than nothing, so Tony turned his attention to the napkin.

Not A. Not E. And certainly as hell not O. Q-what the fu-Q-what does Q even stand fo-oh-oh right!

QED. He had scribbled. Quantum Electrodynamics. As in quantum mechanics. Quantum theory. Light and matter. Repulsors. Of course! It all made sense now! Crazy wasn't it, how one teeny tiny letter could change the course of history?

What? He certainly planned on hitting the history books at least once every other page..

Steps. Footsteps. Fuck! Banner. Tony scrambled to replace the specs in their case, which seemed much harder than normal when the prospect of getting caught loomed in the not-so-distant distance, frantically trying to remember at what angle they had been strewn.

Bruce wouldn't care that Tony borrowed his glasses. Hell, he'd probably even give them off his own face if Tony asked him. But that wasn't the point, it was the principle. Why go through all the trouble of hiding his long-sightedness only to get caught red handed over stealing-borrowing a pair of glasses?

Tony may or may not have made a desperate, ungainly leap over the table. He wasn't committing to anything. Although there was always plausible deniability later.

"Tony, I think I left my specs up here" The physicist froze half way entering the lab. Tony scoped around looking for things that might have tipped Banner off to what he had been up to, but no, it was just Bruce being Bruce in his adorably awkward scientist way, and feeling torn between entering and not entering and getting stuck rather literally in the middle. "Have you seen them?"

Tony nope'd and let his gaze travel all over the lab except the specific place where he knew the glasses were. Bruce found them quickly enough, smiling sheepishly and attempted to withdraw from the lab.

"You really should get a new pair of glasses" Tony blurted out "or I could fix these for you, they felt-uh, look kinda rough round the edges and need a little polishing up and I could repair the wire rim, or replace it entirely with…"

Bruce regarded him with appraising spectacle-less eyes. At times like these Tony was reminded that Bruce, on top of being a genius physicist, was almost scarily perceptive of people, despite his self appointed mission to avoid them.

"You're right"

"…Huh?" Very eloquent there, Stark.

"I think you're right. I should get some new specs"

In all fairness, Tony Stark wasn't used to people saying he was right even when he was actually right, which was far less than he thought he was right, so he couldn't really be accounted for not thinking it over.

"I'll have them delivered by morning" It was a simple enough equation to him. He could afford it. Bruce literally didn't have a penny in a pocket, mostly because he hulked out of his clothes on a near regular basis and it probably wasn't the smartest idea to keep important things like money or credit cards, or anything really, in his pockets.

"Thank you" Bruce said with just a hint of a knowing smile on his face.

Tony shrugged because he honest to god had no idea what to do with heartfelt gratitude. And Bruce usually went for the whole 'No, I really don't need a walk in closet of clothes', 'You really don't have to buy me a racing car, I can't accept it, it's too much', 'You built me, the hul-the other guy an entire smash room? I-I-I don't know what to say' shebang. Besides he felt like he's the one who should be thanking Bruce, not the other way around.

"I'll leave these here then, since I won't be needing them while I sleep" Bruce replaced the case in the exact same spot he took it from with too much precision, too much care "or ever again"

Tony was not a touchy feely kind of person but he seriously wanted to hug Bruce, right then and there. But he went for the safer, nonchalant route instead.

"Uh, sure, yeah, go ahead, knock yourself out" he waved a hand dismissively.

Bruce, still smiling knowingly, let himself out of the lab, door whizzing shut behind him.

"Good night" Tony wished a little belatedly and then realizing Bruce didn't hear him-there were times he regretted making each room sound proof- proceeded to bellow over the intercom "GOOD NIGHT BRUCE!"

He put on the wire rims like they were shades and extended his arms, waving and bowing to an imaginary crowd. It would be so much easier and a hell of a less complicated to buy himself a pair of glasses and get it over with. But then they'd be 'Tony's-glasses'. These beauties, on the other hand, were simply classified 'Bruce's-extras-that-Tony-sometimes-used-for quick-once-overs'. See the difference?

He could all but feel JARVIS rolling his eyes, which was a bit bizarre considering JARVIS didn't have eyes to roll or a basic action code. On a more positive and slightly disastrous note, Butterfingers did his best to imitate him, which Tony would've cheered on if it wasn't with a laser scalpel aimed at Bruce's array of test-tube experiments.

After preventing the imminent destruction of Bruce's fortnight's worth of work, the intercom projected Bruce's amused voice, without flaring to life with an annoying buzz or hum. Please, it was a Stark Industries manufacture.

"Night, Tony"

A/N: Reviews are like your fire extinguishers to my Dummy,or your laser scalpels to my Butterfingers or your poisonous milkshakes to my You…

Basically, all things good! ;P