Author: Del Rion (delrion.mail (at) gmail.com)
Fandom: The Avengers & Iron Man (MCU)
Era: Post-Avengers movie, after “Blue Glow” fic.
Rating: M / FRM
Characters: Bruce Banner (Hulk), Clint Barton (Hawkeye), Jane Foster, Nick Fury, Happy Hogan, J.A.R.V.I.S., Darcy Lewis, Pepper Potts, James “Rhodey” Rhodes (War Machine), Steve Rogers (Captain America), Natasha Romanoff (Black Widow), Thor, Tony Stark (Iron Man)
Pairings: Bruce/Tony, Happy/Pepper, Jane/Thor (, Clint/Natasha, implied past Pepper/Tony)
Summary: It starts with a dream and ends with something that resembles strutting more than tiptoeing; in other words, Bruce has a new-found obsession with Tony, Tony finds that endearing and wants to take it further while everyone else – including Bruce – seems to think it might actually be a very bad idea.
Work in progress. Part of the “Turquoise” –series.
Warnings: Slash (m/m relationship) and some sexual content, past and current het (f/m), superheroes vs. villains violence, language.
After Pepper’s visit Bruce could sense a change in Tony. The man didn’t divulge any details of what they had talked about and Bruce was too polite to ask J.A.R.V.I.S. about it in case the AI would be more helpful. It was impossible to ignore the minute changes in behavior that drove Tony on afterwards, compiled mostly of a haunted, startled look and an obvious need to hang around Bruce – usually within touching distance – as if reassuring himself that their relationship was real.
He never said it out loud but Bruce got the feeling Pepper had questioned what was between them. The notion, surprisingly, raised the other guy’s hackles a little and Bruce chose to meditate on it instead of trying to find a way to broach the subject with Tony.
When had their relationship become a sore spot for the monster inside him? Or was it merely the idea of someone coming between them, threatening the closeness Bruce had found with Tony? He had never thought that the Hulk would care for any of that, although the other guy clearly got along with Tony – at least when it came to protecting him and Iron Man.
Tony snapped out of it a few times, noticing the new pattern in his own behavior and backing away visibly, brooding in some quiet room of the tower, pointedly staying away from Bruce. Perhaps he was trying to make a statement that he was and would be dealing with this on his own, whatever it was. There was frustration in the air around him, perhaps even a whiff of fear although Bruce couldn’t fathom why.
They still shared a bed, although Tony would more often than not disappear some time after lying down and Bruce would fetch him from one of the labs much later. One night Tony even fired some Iron Man weapons, almost blowing apart one of the underground spaces designed just for that; apparently his weapons of choice had a little more kick than the room had been designed for.
“You’re making the entire building shake,” Bruce complained as he came down, J.A.R.V.I.S. opening the last door for him that could have perhaps contained anything short of an atomic blast on the other side.
The armor turned to look at him, dust still in the air and a fire burning at the opposite end where the explosion had taken place. The ceiling hadn’t caved in, though, and an automatic fire extinguishing system was already putting out the last of the flames. “How did you get in?” Iron Man asked. They were Tony’s words, of course, but the voice and tempo were different; it was more pronounced tonight and Bruce could tell he was in a mood.
There were days when you could tell it was Tony in the suit, and on particularly bad days – like tonight – it was like being in the suit changed him into another being.
“Through the door,” Bruce replied.
Iron Man cocked his head. Bruce guessed he was having a discussion with J.A.R.V.I.S. inside the suit and didn’t bother to let him in on it. “Right,” he decided then, popping up the faceplate. “J.A.R.V.I.S. shouldn’t have let you in. Hazardous conditions and all that.”
“Maybe he saw that you were done demolishing the room,” Bruce raised an eyebrow. He knew the AI was more than capable of counting the odds of Bruce ending up in the line of fire if he was let inside.
“I’m testing weapons,” Tony made sort of a shrugging motion which could go completely unnoticed with the suit on. Bruce, however, had watched him in it for so many hours that he could tell when it happened.
“No,” Bruce gracefully disagreed, stepping closer. Pieces of rubble lay at his feet as he crossed the distance between them. “You’re blowing stuff up.”
“Which is part of weapons calibration,” the other man insisted.
“I don’t see any equipment here,” Bruce shot down the façade. “And don’t tell me the sensors of the suit are enough to record whatever needs recording, because that’s bull. You need several separate sources to track and analyze reliable results. J.A.R.V.I.S. isn’t one of them.”
“Although I am quite capable of such recordings,” the AI said in its own defense, “tonight there was no request for me to partake in this test.”
Bruce gave Tony a pointed look.
It was impossible for Tony to slump in the suit, but Bruce was pretty sure he did that anyway. “Fine; I was blowing shit up. It’s my property, I can damn well do what I want.”
“Don’t be a brat,” he told him flatly. “Get out of the suit and back to bed.”
“I’m not sleepy and this needs finishing.”
“Are you planning to bring down the entire Tower? With me sleeping in one of the top floors? I thank you for that in advance.”
Tony flushed. “I wasn’t going to bring down the Tower.”
“It sure didn’t feel like that.”
Perhaps the idea of putting Bruce in danger – or within danger of a Hulk-out – finally made Tony take off the suit and follow him up to their shared bedroom, which of course was Tony’s bedroom since it had a bigger bed. Not that Bruce’s bed was small by any usual measurements.
“Relax,” Bruce ordered after they were done settling in.
Tony was sweaty, eyes flickering, jaw working. The restless energy was contained within the room, in their bed, and made it impossible for Bruce to even pretend he might be able to sleep with the other man beside him.
“Will you tell me what you and Pepper talked about?” he asked.
“I don’t want to talk about it.”
“It’s bothering you and maybe talking would help,” Bruce observed. “I promise I won’t judge –”
“You want to hear about how I designed some of the weapons Ross used against you?” Tony’s voice was filled with venom but it was worse that it was all turned against the man himself. Bruce guessed this was the first time he actually caught a live glimpse at how Tony had been after Afghanistan – around the time he first became Iron Man. Filled with new purpose which was fuelled not by repulsors and arc technology, but his own feelings of self-loathing and inadequacy.
A need to rise above his own actions and erase them from the memory of the living generations.
Bruce thought about that. He could say it didn’t matter, that they hadn’t known each other then, nor had Tony probably even known what those designs would be used for. None of that would put Tony’s mind at ease, though. It was just scratching the surface of the guilt he had forced so deep down his own throat that no amount of retching would bring it back up. Something Bruce wasn’t able to change in one night, and perhaps not in a lifetime.
He took another approach instead; what had Pepper said? What had her visit reminded Tony of that made him seem so unbalanced suddenly? Of course their break up was still a painful memory and Bruce’s presence wasn’t supposed to mend the pain or fill the crater it left behind. Whatever she had said, though…
Bruce tried to turn a fresh wave of anger some place else because he knew Pepper was still important to Tony and he didn’t need to feed the other guy with unwanted ideas in case they took hold somewhere in the rage monster’s psyche.
“You talked only about weapons used against me?” Bruce asked, wanting to get Tony talking because it was one of the best ways to unwind him. Safest, too, since it didn’t include blowing things up.
Tony turned his head to look at him, his features highlighted by the shining circle in his chest. The shirt he wore was stretched thin over it and failed to mute the glow. “She was worried,” he finally admitted. “She shouldn’t be. She made you sound like some kind of… monster.”
“Which I am, in a sense,” Bruce reminded him.
The look that came over Tony’s face would forever make his heart ache; the other man pushed himself up on one elbow, looking down at Bruce almost furiously. “You are not a monster. Trust me, I know what a monster is and you don’t qualify.”
Bruce wondered what he meant by that; no one could use the m-word after they had seen the Hulk on his worst day – or even on an off-day – but Tony’s troubled eyes clearly saw something worse than what Bruce or his greener half could ever do.
It broke his heart, just a little, that Tony could believe something like that – and believe it he did, that much was obvious. It was the conviction on his face, which wasn’t something that was born overnight. It grew and festered, burning a memory in one’s skull, embedded so deep that nothing else would compare for a very long time.
“Well, it’s nice to not make the list in someone’s head, for a change,” Bruce mused.
Tony snorted and looked away at some dark corner of the room. After he had stared at it a while Bruce turned his head to see what it was Tony was trying to burn holes into with his eyes and saw a mirror on the far wall. In the darkness of the room the only thing that could actually be made out in the reflection was the arc reactor and its shine reflecting in Tony’s eyes.
Bruce looked, wondering if he saw what Tony saw – if Tony was actually even looking at his distorted reflection – and then he realized that was the only thing Tony saw. “You’re not a monster,” Bruce said, turning back to look at the man, not the glow in the dark. “Tony, look at me.”
Slowly, grudgingly, Tony lowered his eyes. They were dark although the arc gave them an almost manic glaze. Bruce reached out, touching his face, feeling the flinch but not backing down.
“You made weapons to protect,” Bruce concluded. No doubt it was a phrase Tony had heard a hundred times since he became Iron Man and dropped out of the arms race. Every American knew that Stark Industries had had the most advanced, perhaps the most destructive weapons on the market, especially when Tony was in his prime; Bruce may not have had love for the weapons themselves, but the technology put into them showed up in several other fields, advancing so many other areas. Had Tony forgotten all about that? Was the body count, which wasn’t his fault, the only thing he could remember of those years? Was that something Pepper’s visit had made him think about?
Tony’s eyes left his face again, back on the mirror. There was hard desperation in the dark gaze, the kind Bruce was all too familiar with when he looked at himself while listening to the news detailing havoc his latest transformation into the other guy had wreaked.
To see it on someone else’s face – someone like Tony Stark, who was the successful version of himself in so many ways – was unacceptable and felt like someone had just kicked him in the gut.
He reached out, fingers unyielding as they grabbed Tony’s jaw, pulling his face back down. He felt the silent protest but didn’t yield to it, instead raising his head slightly, his lips meeting Tony’s tense ones. He felt the quick breath on his upper lip, imagined the lashes fluttering at the sudden proximity of his face, but he didn’t stop. Even when Tony tried to jerk back, which was unlike him, Bruce slid his hand to the back of his head and held him there, wondering if he would have to smother the fight out of him.
There was no changing Tony’s basic mentality, though, and he didn’t really have it in him to deny Bruce’s sexually-laced attempts for closeness; his jaw relaxed, breaths easier, a small moan escaping him as Bruce’s fingers dug into the hair and skin at the base of his neck. When Bruce opened his eyes, Tony’s stared back at him in a bit of wonder and the hardness was gone for the time being.
“Banner,” he finally muttered, their lips not an inch apart, Bruce’s hand still in his hair, fingertips scratching deep, kneading the tension. He felt it as Tony swallowed, dulled by the spine and bone but still there. If he shifted his fingers he could follow his pulse, but there was no reason to count it.
No matter what his mood or the amount of tension in his body, Tony wouldn’t turn into a rage monster.
“Lie down,” Bruce ordered.
Tony didn’t fight him. His eyes never left Bruce’s face, waiting, almost dreading, but Bruce’s voice was as tender beneath the determination as his actions were filled with love and care – and Tony knew that, deep down. Bruce wouldn’t punish him, wouldn’t hurt or shame him.
Once Tony was on his back, still restless but his attention on Bruce rather than the mirror, he knew there was no backing away now; there had been lines they hadn’t crossed, that Bruce had kept taut and unyielding, but it would serve him well to push past them now.
Bruce maintained eye-contact while his hand took a bold path downwards, settling across Tony’s stomach with zero hesitation. He had touched him there, had felt the skin, but now he went further and there was no way Tony wouldn’t notice. The dark eyes stared at his face, jaw set, breaths shallow and as quiet as possible, as if Tony were trying to gauge his motives to guess what was happening. As Bruce’s hand slid over the heat of his crotch, the lips opened slightly but Tony didn’t speak.
He wanted to bow his head and kiss him again, to usher away that look of uncertain tension that was taking over Tony’s features, but Bruce knew he would just distract himself and perhaps allow himself to pull away entirely, forgetting his true goal.
No; tonight he would cross the line he had been dreading for years. It didn’t mean smashing through several walls and stripping every layer of his hesitation at once, but this would be the first stride leading to a whole new level of intimacy with a man he trusted despite Tony’s machinations and attempts to test his self-control.
His fingers traced the flesh through the underwear. The pulse grew stronger, leading blood towards a new priority, increasing the arousal Tony had been keeping a lid on until now. A breath escaped them both, almost simultaneously, then Bruce told himself there was only so much bashfulness he was allowed and he moved his fingers up, tugging at the top of the tight boxers and slid the material down. Tony inched up his hips to help him, face still wary as if he were suddenly the one suspicious of the other person’s motives.
It was nice to turn the tables, Bruce thought; he had always been the one to second guess Tony’s attempts to bring them closer. They had been circling each other, rotating closer and more firmly together, and things were just beginning to fit the right way. Bruce was finally almost comfortable in his own skin after such a long time and he had a feeling Tony felt the same although he would never admit being uncomfortable in whatever scenario someone wanted to throw at him.
Touching bare skin was so much more intimate than any caresses through clothing, no matter how thin or revealing. Until now they had taken care of their needs in private – which of course had made their make-out sessions feel a bit pointless. As long as they weren’t ready, though…
Bruce was ready, or that’s what he told himself – and that was all that mattered in the end, of course. Brain could be distracted, unpleasantness tricked into acceptance and all that truly held him back was his own fear.
He wasn’t afraid now. Not when his fingers touched Tony, finally bringing a real sound from him, and it wasn’t for show or mocking him; this was not a game, there was no way to cheat and they both knew that. Their eyes locked, making it almost impossibly intense. Bruce could feel Tony’s pulse in his grip, saw his chest heave, careful and measured breaths holding Tony’s concentration together.
At that moment he was glad for Tony’s practice when it came to bed-partners; they could finish like this, with no theatrics, and it would be comfortable and safe. Tony would keep looking at him, layers that still stood between them stripped away until he was laid bare and arched to his touch. A flicker in his eyes, a twitch of his lips, and Bruce shifted his grip, pushing closer to the other man, seeking Tony’s lips with his own as he felt wetness on his fingers, Tony’s hips rising up to seek more friction until he was done and one of his hands touched Bruce’s, moving his fingers away from the sensitive flesh.
They broke the kiss and lay there, just a tad awkward, Bruce’s hand hovering between them, sticky as semen cooled on it. Tony chuckled then yawned and Bruce got up to wash his hands. By the time he came back, Tony’s eyes were falling shut and they didn’t speak as they settled down on the bed, closer than most nights. Bruce allowed one of his hands to settle on Tony’s naked flank as he drifted off, cherishing the heat of his skin and the firm closeness of the body next to his own.
Tony was the first to wake up. Not unheard of, seeing as he had made it a habit to get out of bed before its other occupant for years. Usually he would skip sleep altogether or nap in his workshop, but once he fell into a habit of sharing a bed with Bruce, it was easier to just sleep there instead.
It had long since stopped having anything to do with being rude or potentially hurting the other man’s feelings.
He turned his head to look at Bruce’s sleeping face, relaxed and serene. Not poetically innocent, but just… not so guarded. Tony glanced at the clock, itching to get up and start running a few bits of new programming for the suit, or a new weapon for the War Machine armor that would make Justin Hammer weep, but Bruce was still sleeping and he didn’t want to bail on him – not after last night.
Tony knew he had been in a mood ever since Pepper visited. He had thought he might be able to explain things to Bruce, but when it came down to it, admitting his biggest failures as a human being was hard. He didn’t want the other man to know. He didn’t want anyone to know. Tony Stark didn’t give a shit about his past but focused instead on the future. He was Iron Man – it didn’t matter that he had been a Merchant of Death for years.
Only it did.
It did matter that he had wasted so much of his life.
It mattered that he had designed weapons that were used against the man sleeping beside him. A man who was so much better a person than he could ever be, even with all his faults; Bruce wasn’t perfect, of course not, but he had found some kind of inner peace while traveling the world – the kind Tony would probably be forever too impatient to achieve.
“You’re going to fry your brain if you keep abusing it like that at this hour,” Bruce’s voice interrupted him.
Tony blinked. “You think so?”
“Yeah. I know the expression by now.” Bruce stretched slightly and kept watching him.
Tony bit the corner of his lower lip briefly, twitched his nose then settled down. They looked at each other for a moment and it reminded him of last night. How could it not? It made his stomach feel as if he had swallowed a hundred butterflies, his chest tight around the arc reactor.
“Are you thinking about it?” Bruce asked almost in a whisper.
“Is it so obvious?” Tony asked back. He had enough self-control to not have a raging case of morning wood right now, but that could be arranged should Bruce feel like repeating what he had done just a few hours ago.
Bruce smiled. “You stopped thinking of the depressing stuff. Can’t be sure what you replaced it with, though.”
“Rest assured, you’re at the very top of my list,” Tony smiled and leaned forward, claiming a kiss from those clever lips. “And for the record – J.A.R.V.I.S., are you getting this? – you’re welcome to repeat such handling of my private parts at any time you want. The only thing I demand in return is to be allowed to return the favor.” He paused, searching Bruce’s eyes again. “When you’re ready,” he added.
“I will be,” Bruce promised him with another kiss. “Soon.”
“Will that be all, sir?” the AI asked.
“Not by a long shot,” Tony grinned.
to be continued…