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.
Author’s notes: I just keep adding chapters to this story. This and the next ones are “extras” that I came up with on the fly in the aftermath of Chapter 17 (because Tony and Bruce needed to get a bit angsty for a change).
Five days had passed since the mission in Chicago. Tony spent most of that time bedridden, allowing his body to heal. Bruce had made sure to slip him enough painkillers and sleeping pills to not let the other man entertain any ideas of getting out of bed and going down to the lab to work on the broken armor.
The other Avengers had sat down daily to discuss what had gone wrong. All in all the mission had been a success – and that was probably the only reason why Fury wasn’t breathing down their necks in person; the Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. had expressed, on various occasions and without any room for misunderstandings, that Stark had to get his act together because he hadn’t founded and supported the Avengers to risk his own career having to babysit one of its members.
“Maybe Stark just needs to hug the spotlight, not matter how he does it,” Clint suggested.
“He was Iron Man long before the Avengers was formed,” Natasha argued. “Maybe he just can’t handle the pressure of performing as part of a team.”
Bruce listened to the conversation but didn’t take part. He rarely said anything – something the others appeared to notice, giving Bruce those long, expectant looks and then quickly moving their attention elsewhere in case he took it the wrong way.
The Avengers were far from being a team. There were trust issues – most of which had nothing to do with Bruce and Tony’s relationship – and that was one of the reasons Tony kept pulling stunts like these. Certainly Tony hadn’t really been part of a team before, either, but he had a mind for action and he could calculate five more people into the equation easily.
No, it had very little to do with being on a team, and everything to do with who Tony was, and how he handled these situations. Perhaps as Iron Man, when it was just himself Tony had to worry about, he didn’t have to consider his actions as much – or their repercussions.
The discussion ceased around him and Bruce inched his chair back, getting up. He headed up to Tony’s rooms, glancing at the time, knowing the other man would probably be waking up in an hour or two – then opened the door to an empty bedroom. To be sure, Bruce stepped inside, checked the bathroom, lounge and every walk-in closet, finding no sign of Tony. “J.A.R.V.I.S.,” he spoke up finally, “locate Tony for me.”
“Mr. Stark is currently in the lab adjoining the armory.”
“Of course he is,” Bruce sighed, closed his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose, then turned around and marched to the door and took the private elevator down. He keyed in his code and waited for the elevator to move and the doors to open, all the while dreading what would be the first thing Tony decided to do once he felt alive enough to leave the bed for something other than a bathroom visit or a quick shower.
The lab was brightly lit by lights overhead and several layers of holographic screens. Tony stood at the far end, an array of damaged and bent armor parts on a work bench in front of him, in the process of being scanned. At least he was taking the damage seriously and working on strengthening the design. Not that Bruce had doubted his lover’s resolve to better the Iron Man suit; he knew it was a constantly evolving process, a myriad of trial-and-error experiments which had the potential to seriously injure him if something wasn’t foreseen.
Well, a giant robot smashing him into buildings and the street hadn’t probably been on the list of things Tony had prepared for, originally, when building the armor, but that was the kind of thing they apparently were facing.
Bruce stopped to observe the situation, feeling a bit calmer now that he had located Tony and listened to him murmur commands to the AI, as well as making notes, calculations and measurements for further use. Bruce’s eyes traveled across the screens, some of them exploded views of machinery so complex he could spend hours searching every detail that Tony’s brilliant mind had put together.
Then his eyes locked on a more familiar shape and he walked over to the projection of the arc reactors – two of them, on top of each other, separated by two thin layers. One of them was the undersuit, the other armor, and there was wiring connecting the arc reactor below the clothing to the armor components – and the other arc reactor. Bruce raised his hand to the manipulable virtual image and rotated it, making sure he understood the functions depicted in the projection.
“Is this functional in your current suit?” Bruce asked.
He heard Tony start – a small inhale, a clang of two solid pieces hitting each other as he was snapped out of whatever he had been doing. “Yeah. It’s… It needs a little work,” Tony called back after a pause – probably checking what Bruce was looking at.
“I want you to remove it,” Bruce stated, stepping back from the screen, removing his fingers from it as if the image burned him.
“Excuse me?” Tony turned to properly look at him, a deep frown on his face.
Bruce walked over to him, removing the bent, golden piece of metal from Tony’s hands and caught the brown eyes with his own. “I want you to listen, and listen well. I’m not going to say this again: take that function out of your suit immediately. I can’t even understand why you would risk your own health like that!”
“Okay, let’s back up a bit,” Tony cut in before Bruce could think of something else. His voice was defiant and hurt, signaling that Bruce had crossed a line. “It’s my suit, my design. While I don’t usually mind your input, I don’t think you’re in a position to tell me what to include in my –”
“You’re allowing your suit to tap into the arc reactor in your chest!” Bruce shouted. “Is that why you were about to have a heart attack in Chicago? Why the arc had to be re-calibrated after?”
Tony’s face adopted that dark, blank expression that hadn’t been there for a long time – especially not with Bruce. Never with Bruce. Tony reserved it for people he didn’t trust, and Bruce had never been in that category before. “You don’t get it,” Tony started, voice biting.
“This…” Bruce cut in, emphasizing the word by placing his palm gently on Tony’s chest – yet it still made the other man catch his breath in the aftermath of his earlier shouting. The blue glow was faint beneath his shirt and Bruce couldn’t actually feel the current running inside the device, but he could imagine it. “This thing keeps you alive. You cannot compromise it. I can’t believe you would think of doing it in the first place.”
“That’s the thing that ran my suit in the past,” Tony snapped, stepping back and away from his touch. “I did just fine back then. I’m doing fine now. I don’t need you to tell me how to do this.”
“Do you think you even grasp what being Iron Man means?” Tony’s eyes narrowed. “It isn’t a game. I’ve almost died inside that armor far more times than I care to count, and what I do to make it stronger is none of your business. What I choose to include in the next upgrade isn’t up for debate, and I sure as hell don’t need you to dictate what I can and cannot do!”
It was clear Bruce had just set the cat among the pigeons and Tony was going ballistic. However, he wasn’t about to back down on this. “I don’t care about the rest of it, but you can’t think that connecting the device that that keeps you alive into your suit is a good idea now that you’ve managed to sever the contact. Find another way to increase power.”
“It’s a failsafe – and I shouldn’t have to defend myself to you, of all people,” Tony shot back, eyes narrowed, body tense. If it had been anyone else, the other guy might have already been surfacing, but for the time being Bruce felt incredibly in control – considering how out of control the situation really was.
“Oh, so we’re going down that road? Well, take it from the pro: don’t do it. Don’t get cocky and kill yourself,” Bruce said flatly.
“You think that’s what I’m trying to do? Get myself killed?”
“That’s what it’s looked like recently!” Bruce hadn’t meant to say it, not really, but there it was and Tony looked even less happy with him and what was transpiring between them.
“Get out of my workshop, Banner.”
“Not before you promise to take that feature out of the suit.”
“Whether I do or don’t, it’s not your call.” Tony went to turn around, to return to the work bench and engross himself in his work again, but Bruce reached out, grabbing his upper arm and yanking him back around, hard.
“You’ll do it,” Bruce said – or growled. Definitely growled. He felt green, felt the itch beneath the skin and a promising heat in his eyes; the other guy was coming out. “You’ll untap your suit from any contact with the arc reactor in your chest or the other guy will tear each and every one of yours armors to pieces until you do.”
Tony’s face betrayed very little, nor did his eyes. He smelled slightly of fear, however – and that Bruce could smell it was yet another sign that the beast was coming to the surface. “Fuck you, Bruce,” Tony finally muttered, trying to shove him away, to get free, but Bruce’s hold on his arm was tight and unrelenting.
“I told you –”
“I fucking heard!” Tony shouted back. “Is this the man you really are? You can’t get the message across so you play the ‘big green bully’ card?”
“I won’t unless I have to. You’re not giving me a choice.”
“You have the choice to drop it.”
“Not going to happen, Tony,” Bruce promised him. The muscles of Tony’s arm tensed beneath his grip but weren’t strong enough to free him. Ordinarily, Tony might have stood a chance, but Bruce was channeling the other guy – which he rarely allowed to happen since it usually led to a transformation anyway – yet he couldn’t back down on this. Sooner or later something would go wrong and Tony would lie lifeless on the ground, inside the suit, the arc reactor dead in his chest and the shrapnel digging into his heart. It wasn’t worth it and he couldn’t believe Tony would take this risk so callously and selfishly.
“I love you, and I can’t let you take yet another step toward killing yourself on the field,” Bruce finally said, trying to reason with Tony again.
Tony flinched visibly, looking away from him. His eyes were wide now but he was trying to mask it, to make himself less exposed. “Damn it, Bruce…”
Bruce knew he had won. He had said the one thing that mattered, which Tony couldn’t deny, and Bruce felt ashamed that he would use the word in this context. He hadn’t meant for it to happen this way, during an argument, although what had the chances been of it happening any other way?
Slowly he let Tony go, who remained standing there, all the fight drained out of him. Bruce knew better than to press for more now, and retreated from the workshop, feeling horrible but knowing that he had done the right thing.
After all, he did love Tony and there was no way he would let the man intentionally put his life at risk – even if it was the means to a better end in a tight corner on the battlefield.
to be continued…