Three Broken Hearts Chapter 1
Disclaimer: Wow, welcome to a new story. This is a crossover – Avengers, and Harry Potter. VERY AU. And it's going to be darker than most, hence the explicit rating. Within these digital pages will be graphic violence, child abuse, mentions of past child abuse, trauma, PTSD, and I'm not sure what else, but the tags will change as they come to me. PS – I tend to write long flashback scenes, so you have warning for that.
They were in England, helping a recovery effort as an assist to Captain Britain. He rarely called for help from any of the 'spandex set' as Tony snarkily called the superhero set. But this time, the request had been made less for heroes, and more for scientific help.
Flashback, 48 hours:
"Mr Stark, call coming in from SHIELD, and it is not Director Fury," JARVIS intoned suddenly, simultaneously dropping the volume on Tony's music. Tony had stopped his experiment, setting a pair of pliers down on the worktable. "Oh? Interesting. Put it through, JARVIS," Tony spun his wheeled task chair from the table to face a piece of blank, white wall. His curiosity was sufficiently piqued to call for all of his attention. Usually Coulson called the Team together. Rarely did Agent Hill or Director Fury bother. If SHIELD called, something BIG was going on.
The wall darkened as a translucent screen flickered into being. Tony made a mental note to check the projectors later. The newly formed screen brightened as JARVIS made the connections to bridge the video call from SHIELD. The image of a sterile lab, and white-coated scientists appeared, the foreground dominated by a head full of messy, salt and pepper curls that Tony knew well. "Bruce?", he asked softly, knowing that if his partner had lost immediate interest in the call, startling him wouldn't help. It'd likely summon the Hulk. The head jerked a little anyway, making Tony wince. "I..." he started.
"No, my fault. New readings came in as I waited for JARVIS to connect. You know how easily distracted I get," came the subdued reply. Bruce was definitely deep in 'science mode', as even though he'd lifted his head to talk to Tony, his eyes were still on whatever information had come in.
"What do you need, Big Green?", Tony queried, reverting to 'public mode' as this was an open call. That helped Bruce focus, "Yes. A call came in from Brian Braddock earlier. There was a rather large explosion in a suburb of London last night." Tony's eyes widened, but he waited. If they'd been needed, they'd have been called already.
"At first, it was assumed that it was a gas main, or possibly terrorists. Brian thinks it's Something Else," and the capitals were obvious. Tony snorted, it meant magic, he hated magic. "He's been forced to go outside to ask for help. Thus the call to me this morning."
Tony remembered that call. They'd only been fiddling with yet another new setting on some tracking gear for the Hulk when JARVIS just abruptly patched that call through. Tony'd threatened dismantling if JARVIS was that high-handed again. A few brief exchanges and something he'd overheard about radiation and Bruce disconnected the call. He'd turned to Tony to tell him that SHIELD was sending a Quinjet to the tower to collect him. He had been requested to assist in getting through a pile of anomalous readings. They shared a brief kiss and fondle before Bruce had left the lab to clean up and change.
"And what did you find?", Tony asked, concerned and curious. If it was radiation with a normal answer, even terrorists, Bruce wouldn't have called him, except to say he was going to England.
"The readings are just that, anomalous. Bunny suits on the ground have been sending us new reports every 4 hours and the rapid change...no, that's not right."
Tony was completely intrigued and starting to get a feeling, "What, Bruce?" he interrupted, practically demanding clarification.
"It's complete deterioration, Tony. The levels of Beta radiation were off the scale when they first noticed, then exponentially sharper drop offs since then. It's still there in sufficient quantities to warrant full protocols. Brian wants us to come and see for ourselves," Bruce finished.
Tony had half listened to this last part. "Ok, I'll get an aide to pack you a bag," he started to say, completely misunderstanding.
"You didn't hear me, did you, Tin Man?", Bruce practically growled, voice deep and rough, as if Someone was about to appear. Though when Tony looked, his eyes were still soft, and very much brown, if worried by the information he'd been reading, "WE are going," he emphasized, "Go get 2 bags packed, plus the new haz mat additions for the IM suit."
"Oh," Tony said, dumbstruck, then he cracked a huge smile, "Okay, I can handle that. Are we taking an SI jet, or?"
"Quinjet. More equipment available," they shared a frown at that, having to stay public for so long. It was easy and hard at the same time.
"You've got an hour. I hope that's enough time?", Bruce said, beginning to wrap the call.
"Aside from my armor, what else do we need?", Tony asked, preparing to go back to work, or at least clean up his workshop mess.
"Bring the Hulk's toy box, would you? And remember my iPod this time!", Bruce grinned and they disconnected the call. Tony spun back to the table, picking up the pliers, "JARVIS, send a couple robots to get the toy box, and another to find our suitcases. Not the matched sets either," he commanded his AI.
"Yes Mr. Stark. Will there be anything else?", JARVIS replied. Outside the lab and unseen by anyone, at least three robot functionaries propelled themselves on their assigned tasks.
"Yes, set up the haz mat gear for my armor. And you're off the list for dismantling. Good job," Tony replied, placing the pliers in the tool box, and snapping the lid shut.
"Thank you sir," JARVIS says, knowing that was all the apology he would receive on the incident. Tony left the lab, heading upstairs to their bedroom to pack a few days' worth of clothes, and some spares for Bruce, before calling Pepper and giving her a head's up.
The jet had landed them in England, and they'd taken an armored SUV to the site in Surrey. Both looked over new readings that had been handed to them just after landing.
"Dropped off another 40%, just like the last reading. Steady decrease at least," Bruce said, scanning the tablet he held.
"Mhm," Tony agreed. They were waiting while corpsmen assembled another decontamination tent. Except this one was larger, roughly 20 by 30 feet. It was strictly for Iron Man, the Hulk, and their gear alone. With the protocols in place for handling radiation exposure, they moved from the SUV to the end of the tent that was their de-facto lab and started working.
A few hours later, and another radiation reading.
"All right, let's suit up," Tony said. He turned from the bank of computers and reached for a thick, metal briefcase. Bruce steps up beside him and opens his own case.
"Hulk Shorts?", he asked his partner, lifting a pair of silky, black board shorts from the opened case.
"Nothing else worked, we tried! Big Green needed something easy," Tony responded, pulling an identical, but larger piece of fabric from his own case. Both pieces faintly sparkled from some bit of metallic thread that made of part of the weave. They moved into a separate curtained area, set aside for changing in and out of 'uniform'.
"Oh sure, he's just being stubborn," Bruce said, rolling his eyes and stepping out of his shoes. He unfastened his belt, suddenly gaining Tony's undivided attention. Tony's eyes became half-lidded with desire, and his tongue quickly darted out to moisten his lips. Bruce's hands stilled on his waistband.
"Later lover, I promise," Bruce whispered hotly, "Business before pleasure." Tony reluctantly and slowly nodded, tearing his gaze off his lover's body. He turned away slightly, eyes on the ground, to hopefully control his reactions. Or at least, put a damper on them.
They finish changing in silence, but made time before stepping back beyond the curtain for tongue dueling that left them a little breathless. With soft, promising smiles, they went to work, stepping out of the changing area. Tony wore a full body suit of the black material, looking remarkably like a starry night sky, while Bruce just had the stretchy shorts. Being a gamma beast had some benefits, though he usually ignored most of the effects.
Tony reached for a familiar red and gold flat pack briefcase, and simply pressed a thumb to a small indented circle near the simple, detachable handle. Locks clicked, motors began to whir, and the briefcase unfolded for Tony to begin stepping into the armor that made him Iron Man.
Meanwhile, Bruce went back to the computer for one final look. Satisfied, he grabbed a pocket dosimeter that he clipped to a bungee cord for himself. "JARVIS knows to monitor the levels of Beta, down to the millirad?", Bruce queried as he walked back to Tony.
"Yes, now help me with the balaclava. Damn thing scrunches on my neck!", Tony huffed, holding out the final piece before the armor sealed itself up. Bruce chuckled, and took the offensive piece from Tony and waited for him to take a knee. The armor made his lover quite a bit taller than Bruce without shoes in preparation to "Hulking out". Settling the offending fabric in place, Bruce took a risk and staring hard into Tony's eyes, kissed him full on the lips.
A few seconds later, they heard voices and footsteps getting closer to the main entrance. With a grumble not entirely his own, Bruce reluctantly backed away from Tony and went to a here-to-fore ignored black crate settled off to the side, like a squat, legless crab. Tony smirked, pulling the balaclava's face covering over his now over-sensitive lips and has the suit's face shield slide down and lock into place. The eyes power up as three people enter the tent while Bruce opens the crate to display an organized carrier of oversized gear. He's handling a few bits, having slung the bungee cord across his shoulder and chest to free his hands for the work of prepping the Hulk's equipment.
"Ah good to see you nearly ready, my friends," said one of the newcomers, his accent thick, but obviously telling of a cultured background. Tony turns, a little slow and cumbersome at first as the suit whirs to life, to face the newcomers. Two are scientists, white lab coats, black slacks, loafers and glasses on otherwise nondescript personalities. The other, stands out like Stars and Stripes back home. Covered neck to feet in an armored body suit much like Captain America's, where they diverged was the flag design. This gent's screamed "Rule Britannia" to anyone with sight.
"So you are Captain Britain?", Tony queried, voice clipped and tight. Bruce heard the tone of voice and turned to see that Tony was faced off against the two nerds and a hero. He shrugged. Stark would be fine, otherwise he'd call for back up. He went back to testing the equipment he'd need in the field.
"Yes, Brian Braddock, at your service. These fellows are Doctors Sam Coulter and George Medi and are in charge of nuclear oncology at Kingston Hospital," the overly large and heavily muscled male waved at the two lab coated gentlemen trailing after him. "If you have a moment, I'd like to speak with you about this case?", he asked Tony directly.
"We might have something to spare, sure," Tony thought out loud, his voice synthesized by the armor. One of the doctors moved forward, "Mr. Stark, it's critical we figure out what exactly is going on here. This rate of decay could well mean a new element!" Excited scientist was a good expression. It usually made Tony and Bruce very happy, but something about this trip, well, they'd find out.
"Is that Dr. Banner?", the other man asked, curiously, turning to see the rest of the tent. Bruce turned from his equipment, hearing his name. He waved, but still made no comment or effort to join the conversation. Most of the time, other people treated him as a curiosity, or avoided him all together. Braddock looked at what Bruce was doing and wanted to ask questions. None of the equipment he was working with seemed to fit the situation, but what did he know of advanced technology such as Stark made? Instead he broached his own ideas. "Gentlemen, there is another possibility at work here," he began.
This got Bruce's attention, or seemed to. He came over to the small gathering and handed Braddock a radio and earwig. "Oh? We ought to know about that now. Take these, you'll be able to communicate with Iron Man while we're in the field," he said as he passed the pieces over. He had to help Braddock fit the earwig properly into one of his ear canals, then tune both to one of the frequencies Iron Man would use that day.
"Yes, I believe magic could be involved," Braddock ventured. He knew men of science often scoffed at the idea, but these two were different. Or so he'd been told. Various members of the Avengers worked magic, giving them some knowledge that he hoped would help today.
The English doctors began to protest, prompting Tony to raise a gauntleted hand to halt their tirade. "We've heard stranger things. Open your minds to new possibilities or get out," was all he said. The scientists' mouths snapped shut and they shared a look between themselves. Medi nodded first, then, "We will hear what Captain Britain has to say."
Tony smiled inside the suit but outwardly said, "We're wasting time. My colleague needs to change before we head out." The red, articulated gauntlet formed a fist, index finger pointing towards the tent flap.
Bruce spoke up, before the trio left, "Captain, finish explaining your theory to Iron Man via radio. We'll give it due consideration."
Braddock nodded, "And yourself?"
Bruce smiled a small, half smile, "I'll be otherwise occupied."
After Braddock left with the doctors, Bruce called upon the Hulk, allowing the transformation to ripple throughout his stocky form. Tony watched avidly. The change overtaking his lover's body never ceased to amaze him. It had taken a long time for Bruce to ever begin to accept that the Hulk wasn't a monster. It helped that Tony had never seen either of them that way. He shook his head, dispelling the memories of their early days.
With the Hulk now fully present, they could get to work.
"Hey Jolly Green, ready to go?", Iron Man asked his partner, hopeful note threading his voice. Hulk swung around and laid eyes on the red and gold armor.
"Gear first, then go," Hulk replied, suiting actions to words and going to the box to gather up several bits. One piece got hooked over his head, a soft pad settled over his right ear. A black piece of hard plastic with two long, velcro straps goes around his upper arm, fastened snug. A toggle switch on it, small in comparison to Hulk's great size, is thrown, and a small, green light blinks on. Now he can hear Iron Man's voice no matter how far apart they might get, and answer back, though his voice easily carried.
He reaches back into the container and grabs a video recorder. In his hands, it looks like a normal digital camera. In Banner's, it resembles a movie camera in size. The controls on this are simple push buttons, everything else was handled remotely. This gets clipped to the bungee slung across his shoulders, alongside the dosimeter Banner had snapped on earlier.
Something resembling a cross between a hula hoop and a Frisbee hung off the door of the crate, and Hulk grabbed that object next. As his hands touched this, light flared on all across the shallow convex disk. Hulk heard the Iron Man armor clanking around and left the equipment container to head out on their objective.
"We go now," Hulk firmly told Iron Man, tossing the disk to the ground. It didn't hit, instead it began to hover once released and rested about 8" off the paved road they'd set up on. Hulk stepped on it, and as expected, it sank about 2" lower, taking his bulk. The repulsor disk hesitated, then compensated, regaining an inch before following Iron Man out of the tent and into the air, pulled along by a weird combination of magnetics and radiation tied between the suit and the disk.
They followed the trail of Beta radiation to a hot spot determined to be the source. A blasted area centered on a suburban street in Surrey. A bent and twisted sign declared it either Privet Drive, or Wisteria Walk.
"Map calls this 'Little Whinging'. Makes me wonder what they have to 'whinge' about," Iron Man quipped when they landed. Hulk grunted a gravelly laugh, hopping off the disk when it got within 5 feet of the ground. He'd chosen a wasted yard to land in, leaving a small impact crater in the dirt and torn grass.
"Here, set the camera on the tripod, we'll let it go full auto on the disk. Looks like we'll be shifting through wreckage here," Iron Man told his large, green partner. He extracted a folded up, metal tripod from a storage pod on the right leg of the armor. With a snap of his gauntleted hand, the tripod unfolds and the Hulk approaches with the camera to attach it. Hulk pressed the record button and aims it at what they assume to be ground zero.
AN: This is not a period piece (not happening in the 80s). It is occurring in an indeterminate time period, and rather modern, for a mention of an iPod (which that trademark belongs to Apple, Inc). The tech here is a mix of Banner and Stark, which becomes important as time goes by. Radiation stuff is completely made up, again.