"Can I Be Your Prom Date?"
"Sorry," Bruce muttered, clutching his books to his chest so he wouldn't drop them. He ducked his head and skittered away, the skin of his arm tingling where it had brushed against Him.
Blushing, he hurried down the hall to his locker. Jane was already getting her lunch out from the locker beside his, and he noticed her tilting her head back.
"Again?" she remarked. "You really do lose all coordination around Tony Stark."
"Shut up, Jane," he said, and he elbowed her. "Don't tell me you didn't do the same thing around Thor when you met him."
"Mmm." She shut the locker door, and leaned back against it. "I still do, sometimes."
She nodded, and once Bruce had his lunch in hand, he shut the door and they walked down the hallway to the cafeteria. Both were health-conscious, and Bruce was a vegetarian, so they never bought school food if they could help it. It wasn't hard to find their group. Thor and Steve were super tall, although with Steve that was only a recent thing after an insane growth spurt. Mr. Coulson, the English teacher, had stopped to talk with Bucky and Peggy, seated at one end of the table, and Mr. Selvig, the science teacher, was chatting with Darcy. Bruce and Jane sat with her and joined the conversation.
After both teachers had gone, Jane told the others all about the embarrassing incident.
"It wasn't that bad," Bruce protested meekly. "He stepped out at the wrong moment – o-or I stepped forward at the wrong moment – and we just bumped into each other. I said sorry and… and I ran off." He took out his sandwich. "That's all."
"If you keep doing that he'll think you're stalking him," Darcy said, kicking him under the table. He nearly choked on the bite he'd just taken.
"Loki would explain that it was a mere unfortunate happenstance," Thor said. It wasn't that helpful. His adopted brother was the only connection Bruce had to Tony. Occasionally Loki sat with them; it was a good thing he never brought Howard Stark's son, or Bruce would look like he had sunburn on his cheeks the entire time. If Tony even tried to speak to him, he'd probably pass out from nerves, and God, wouldn't that be even more embarrassing?
"I'm not stalking him," Bruce said. "The corridors just aren't wide enough, or there are too many people around, or I just have the worst luck in the world."
"Or the best," Peggy said, giving him a sly smile from the other end of the table. He poked his tongue out at her.
Of course, that would be the moment he noticed Tony Stark across the room, looking at him. Mortified, Bruce shoved more sandwich into his mouth. The sooner he was finished, the better. Maybe Mr. Selvig would let him work in the labs for the rest of the lunch hour?
Minutes later, while Bruce sped through his bottle of juice, an announcement came over the speakers. It was Principal Fury.
"Prom will be held in six weeks' time," he said. Fortunately, he somehow knew how long to wait for the cheers to die down before continuing. "See this week's newsletter for more details. Also, I need volunteers to help the school council put up posters. Those interested in volunteering, or being on the prom committee, come to the office after school. That's all."
The cafeteria was overtaken with noise and Bruce winced. His nerves had been fraying over the last half hour, and they were close to snapping. It took one glance to see people already flocking to Tony to send Bruce to his feet.
"See you later," he said, grabbing his rubbish. He ignored his friends' questions and threw his garbage into a nearby bin. At the door, he risked a look back, and could barely see Tony for all the boys and girls around him, all of them probably asking him to prom, and being fended off by his friends, Pepper, Rhodey, Clint, Natasha, and Loki. He wasn't going to stick around to see Tony accepting someone who just… wasn't Bruce.
Prom was a week away, and Bruce still hadn't even dared to speak to Tony. They'd bumped into each other in the hallway a few times, and Bruce was barely apologising anymore, just in case he did something ridiculous like ask Tony to prom. He couldn't face the rejection, nor the embarrassment of being laughed at by everyone within earshot.
It was strange. From what Thor had told him, Tony didn't have a date yet. Nearly every single person in the school had invited him, but he'd turned them all down. Bruce found it hard to believe, and steadfastly ignored the little voice in his head telling him that he had nothing to lose by speaking.
He sighed as he approached the classroom for advanced science. It was the only class he shared with his crush. Because they were among the best in the class, they were usually paired with someone else. That was how he got to know Jane; they were both frustrated with their partners and bitched to each other about it across the aisle between the benches. Afterwards they met at their lockers, and agreed to have lunch together.
The problem was, the one time Bruce and Tony worked together in class they got so far ahead of everyone else – working without even needing to speak, which is just as well since Bruce was pretty much tongue-tied – that they experimented with chemicals until they nearly blew up the bench-top. They stopped an explosion from happening using a method which apparently defied physics. Mr. Selvig praised them both between ingesting about half a dozen pain killers for his headache, but also forbade them from working together again, at least on school premises. Bruce was both disappointed and relieved.
Today, as soon as he stepped into the room, he was surprised to see streamers entwined around the equipment, balloons taped to the desk and benches, and a large streamer with the words 'Can I be your prom date?' written on it in dark green paint. He saw Jane grinning, and smiled back at her automatically.
But then, to his everlasting amazement, Tony Stark walked up to him. He stopped right in front of Bruce, and pressed a bag of blueberries into his hands. Bruce's tongue was stuck to the roof of his mouth, and still didn't come unstuck as Tony curled his fingers around the bag.
"If you say no, you can still have the berries," he said. "But I really want to be your prom date, so I hope you say yes."
Jane's pointed cough snapped Bruce out of his shock.
"I didn't think you noticed me," he blurted out. "I mean, there was the time we worked together in class." Tony smiled encouragingly. "And sometimes I run into you in the hallways, b-but that's the only time we even come close to talking."
"I know," Tony said. "That's why I… uh…" He turned a little red. "I'm the one who runs into you. I don't get any other chances to speak with you. But you always run away before I can say anything." Bruce laughed to himself nervously. If only he'd known. "I was starting to think you didn't want to talk to me. Still, I figured I had nothing to lose by asking you to prom." He shrugged. "The hallway thing didn't work, so I gave up on subtlety and just went with… this." He gestured to the rest of the room.
"I just thought I was getting clumsier," Bruce said quietly. "Or had the worst – or best – luck."
"The best luck, in my opinion," Tony said, grinning.
Bruce smiled. "So. We're going to prom."
Beaming, Tony pecked him on the lips. It might have been longer, except that Mr. Selvig cleared his throat from behind them.
"Very sweet, but it's time for class, and we have to clear up first. Get started. And you're still not working together yet. The school can't afford the insurance required to cover a class with you two as lab partners."
It was okay. They could sit together at lunch, hold hands under the table and hook their feet together, and talk about prom with the others. Because Bruce was going to prom, and he was going with Tony.
(And all the other people around school would be green with jealousy.)
Green with jealousy. Geddit?
Another prompt fic, because I can't get enough of `em, or so it appears.