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.
Darcy couldn’t believe she had just been dumped at the Avengers Mansion to spend the evening while Jane and Thor went off with Tony Stark and Bruce Banner. Not that she had exactly planned on interfering with their date night, since she didn’t have a date of her own to bring along, but…
Well, things could have been worse. She was, after all, in the Avengers Mansion – where there were supposedly three more Avengers lurking about. The evening may yet become worthwhile.
After freshening up in her room, Darcy descended back to the main floor, walking hallways and peeking into rooms. She systematically went over the place until she heard voices from the kitchen.
“It’s not weird,” a soft female voice was saying – Natasha.
“You’re not becoming a believer, are you?” a man asked – Clint, the archer, Darcy recalled from a very brief introduction Thor had provided during their tour. “You’re smart. You know how it might play out.”
“Maybe it won’t,” a third voice argued.
“Come on, Cap. You know better than that, too. Just because they’ve had a good, solid roll and just one argument doesn’t make it a done deal. It’s Stark, after all, and –”
“Hello, Ms. Lewis,” Steve Rogers cut Clint off as Darcy peeked in from the doorway, immediately caught. “How are you settling in?” the blond went on.
“Just fine. Call me Darcy,” she added and stepped in. It was clear they had been talking about Tony and Bruce, and it sounded like things weren’t as perfect as they seemed. “So,” she ventured, taking a seat at the kitchen island with the others, “what’s new in superhero gossip?”
Steve frowned, while Clint and Natasha feigned ignorance.
“Come on!” Darcy urged. “I’m in this with you guys. I’ll tell you all the naughty stuff about Jane and Thor if you spill on your science duo.”
“That’s… not appropriate,” Steve argued, looking so genuinely offended Darcy wondered if he was scandalized by a little dirty talk.
“You were hashing it out when I walked in,” she pointed out.
“That’s different,” Clint argued.
“We’re their team.”
“I’m Jane’s team,” Darcy reminded them.
“Then you should have her back, and not… gossip,” Steve noted.
“Like you’re having Tony and Bruce’s backs?” Darcy raised an eyebrow.
The Captain actually flushed a little and averted his eyes, body tense.
“What’s the big dealio with the science dudes being together?” she pressed. “They looked happy.”
“You haven’t seen them argue,” Clint replied. “One of them has an arsenal of weapons that could level a small country. The other one turns into a monster.”
Darcy guessed their domestic spats were interesting, to say the least. “Okay, so it’s bad when they fight. Do they do that a lot?”
“Just once,” Natasha revealed, then fixed Darcy with a hard look. “Once was too much.”
“But no cities were leveled and people didn’t die, right? I’m pretty sure that would have been in the news,” Darcy tentatively stayed on the subject.
“Not this time,” was all the red-head said.
“So, basically you’re all just waiting for the big disaster to strike?” Darcy pressed. Silence met her words, accompanied by hardened expressions. “And what if that never happens? What if they have it under control?”
“The Hulk’s never ‘under control’,” Clint made air quotes. “Banner says as much, all the time. And everyone knows how Stark is.”
“Yeah: a hero,” Darcy grinned. “Are you sure you guys aren’t just jealous of their smooching? Are any of you in a relationship?” Another set of hard looks was directed at her, and Darcy thought she was sensing a pattern. “Is there something to eat?” she changed tactics, and soon enough food was being brought out – that’s probably why they had all been in the kitchen before Darcy interrupted them.
The four of them settled down in the living room in front of a huge TV screen – or rather, the three Avengers moved to the living room and Darcy followed them, making herself comfortable – and Clint flipped channels until they landed on some reasonably good game show. Steve was pretty good at some questions that revolved around the 30s and 40s, but it was painfully obvious he either had a huge hole in his general knowledge – or the rumors were actually true.
“So, Steve,” Darcy ventured after a while, “is it true you’re actually the Captain America, from World War II?” The man looked exactly like the famed super-solider in the old pictures and news reels. There hadn’t been all that much debate on the subject in the media, which was really weird and suspicious – and probably meant someone was holding back information, somewhere.
“I’m not sure that’s –” Steve started.
“I’ll just ask Thor,” Darcy cut him off. “He’ll tell me. He tells me everything.”
Steve frowned, then eventually shrugged. “Yeah. I’m the same guy.”
“Huh,” Darcy leaned back and studied him a bit more carefully. “You look… really good for your age.”
Clint guffawed on the side. “He does, doesn’t he?”
“I was in the ice for almost seventy years,” Steve snapped; clearly this was a touchy subject.
“Wait, ice?” Darcy leaned forward again, sticking her spoon into the bowl of ice cream in her hands. “Did they, like, stash you in a freezer or something?”
“I fell into the ocean,” Steve explained. “Then I woke up… here.”
Darcy was pretty sure he meant the future, and obviously it was more complicated than that. Since the situation needed some lightening up, she thought it over some more. “I’m pretty sure no one can survive as an ice cube for seventy years. Are you a zombie? Like, you know, the living dead,” she explained and made a fairly good zombie impression, in case there hadn’t been zombie movies in Steve’s time.
“I’m not a zombie,” Steve balked at the idea.
“Are you sure?” Darcy pressed. “Do you ever have a weird craving to gnaw on human flesh, or eat brains? You don’t need to feel ashamed.”
Clint was hiding a smile and Natasha rolled her eyes, yet she looked sufficiently amused. Steve, on the other hand, looked like a lost puppy whom someone had kicked for good measure – and rather annoyed, too. It was an amazing mix of two opposite emotions. “I’m sure,” he replied shortly.
“I would still keep an eye on this one,” Darcy stage whispered at Clint and Natasha, pointing a thumb at Steve.
“Can we talk about something else?” Steve begged, exasperated.
“Sure,” Darcy said brightly, taking another big spoonful of ice cream – honestly, the most amazing ice cream of her life, and there was a whole freezer of it! – and looked around the room. “What’s the Hulk like?” After all, she hadn’t met the green Avenger yet.
“He likes to smash things,” Clint answered.
“Tear people apart, limb from limb,” Natasha added. “I’m pretty sure he could kill someone by sitting on them.”
“You’re no fun,” Darcy told them. “I should ask Tony; I’m sure he likes the big guy.”
“Oh, for sure,” Clint snorted. “He’s versatile with his affections, I’ve heard.” He gave Natasha a meaningful look.
“Spill!” Darcy encouraged, feeling like she had just hit a jackpot.
“What do you mean?” Steve leaned forward.
“You know what he means,” Natasha gave Steve a look, but as the blond still seemed confused, she tilted her head. “I told you about the kissing, right?”
“Tony and the Hulk?” Steve’s frown deepened.
“That must be quite a sight,” Darcy decided, trying to envision it and failing. “How does it work, anyway? I mean, the Hulk’s big, right?” She had only seen the green monster on TV, but he had looked big.
“Stark’s creative,” Clint snorted.
“I’m pretty sure you didn’t tell me about that. When did it happen?” Steve pressed.
“When they blew up the lab,” Natasha explained. “I talked to Stark about it, it’s not…”
“He knows he’s playing with fire, right?” Steve mused, looking thoughtful.
“If he does, he won’t admit it to anyone else,” Natasha shrugged.
“I’ve been wondering, can it be considered cheating?” Clint mused, opening another beer for himself and leaning back on the couch. “I mean, they’re the same guy, sort of, but they act like they aren’t. They don’t like each other.”
“At least they both like Tony,” Darcy offered.
“The last thing we need is Bruce and the Hulk fighting over Tony,” Steve mused unhappily. “The Hulk is unpredictable as it is.” His eyes snapped towards Darcy, as if she wasn’t supposed to hear that. “The Hulk is very easily distracted, and doesn’t really…”
“Control his impulses well,” Natasha finished tactically.
“We don’t know whether to treat him like a kid or an animal most days,” Clint summarized, “but one thing’s for sure: you can’t put a leash on him, and if you put him in the corner for almost killing one of us when he gets annoyed about something random, he’ll smash the corner.”
“Has he tried to kill you often?” Darcy asked.
“Most of us at least once,” Clint shrugged and took a sip of his beer. “He went after Natasha before our first big battle together. Butted heads with Thor, too. I don’t think anyone dares to guess how that would have ended if allowed to go on.”
Knowing that Thor more than packed a punch, that was saying a lot. “But if he and Tony get along really well now, surely that makes things easier?” Darcy mused.
Clint snapped his fingers and pointed his finger at her as if Darcy had just said the right thing. “Before the whole dating thing? The Hulk smashed Tony’s chest in. Literally. He almost died. So, that’s officially the weirdest get-together story I’ve ever heard, and it’s a real one, too.”
Darcy gawked at him. “Seriously?”
“Yeah,” the archer nodded. “We were all there. Tony had just broken up with Pepper – you know Pepper Potts, right? – and he decided to piss off the big guy. Didn’t end so well for him. Or, you know, I don’t know how they got from that to this, but it seems to be working for them, strangely enough.”
It sounded like straight out of a movie or something, and Darcy wished she could actually see it for herself. Then she realized maybe she could: “Is there footage of that?”
Three pairs of eyes blinked at her.
“Yes, I think so,” Steve replied hesitantly.
“We need to watch it,” Darcy decided and got up from the couch, looking for a computer. “Do you have a computer room or something?” Then she remembered the ‘war room’, which Thor had mentioned, and took off towards it. Diligently, the Avengers followed her inside, but Steve still looked hesitant.
“I’m not sure we should do this.”
“Don’t sweat it, zombie-dude,” Darcy teased. “Consider it an educational film. ‘Don’t Harass the Hulk’.”
“J.A.R.V.I.S.,” Clint called out to the room, “do we have video from… you know, the incident?”
“Would you like to review it, Agent Barton?” the electronic, although very human, voice asked.
“Guess so,” Clint shrugged and raised the beer bottle to his lips.
A large screen on one wall lit up and showed some kind of training area. All six Avengers were there, in full costume. “Stark, Banner, you’re up,” Steve commanded.
Darcy raised her eyebrows as Bruce began to strip a moment later – and then it looked like he was growing like a green balloon filled with air, only it was muscle and raw power as he turned into the Hulk. Beside him, Iron Man rose into the air and they started an awkward dance of repulsor blasts and swings, the Hulk looking like a child trying to catch a fly.
A deadly child, because a few minutes later the Hulk caught Iron Man, enduring more shots – then slammed the metal-covered body into the floor, hard, and hauled his hands up to bring them down. Darcy grimaced and the image froze before the screen went blank.
She could admit it was hard to see how someone could build a relationship from that.
Looking at her companions, it seemed she wasn’t the only one feeling squeamish, so she looked for a keyboard or something. “I need adorable animal babies stumbling around after this – or LOLcats.”
“What is LOLcats?” Steve asked, blinking.
“Oh, you’re in for a ride,” Darcy grinned. “J.A.R.V.I.S., be a darling and educate Captain America.”
And that was how they ended up looking at cute cats with often funny and, at times weird captions. And continued on to America’s Funniest Home Videos – during which they got rickrolled, and Darcy proceeded to bribe J.A.R.V.I.S. into giving the original creator of that bait-and-switch the worst virtual STD of their life. It was clear the AI disliked the Rick Astley song, but was still hesitant to actually go and follow Darcy’s plea for revenge.
In the meanwhile, Steve kept looking at the music video and seemed to be enjoying it, so Darcy let it play while she kept negotiating with J.A.R.V.I.S. about the computer bug.
That was when the two couples returned from their date, walking into the war room with varying degrees of dread on their faces. Tony took one glance towards the screen where Steve was watching another YouTube video, and J.A.R.V.I.S. promptly cut off his latest refusal at creating a horrible virus to deliver to all those Darcy disliked.
“Hi!” Darcy whirled around with a bright grin on her face. “How was date night?”
“Fine,” Jane replied. “What’s going on here?”
“We’re educating the resident zombie,” Darcy pointed a thumb towards Steve. The blond scowled at her.
“Should we ask?” Bruce murmured.
“Sometimes I find it wiser not to,” Thor replied.
“Now that you’re here,” Darcy plunged on, moving away from the screens and towards the new arrivals, “I want to see something.”
“What?” Tony asked, eyes already narrowing.
“A Hulk kiss.”
Bruce froze, which was kind of odd, considering it was just a request for a kiss.
“Why?” Tony asked, tone sharp.
“Because you guys had a nice night and he didn’t get to be there,” Darcy pointed out.
“That’s not how it works,” Bruce cut in before Tony could form a reply. “It’s not like that.”
“I heard it’s exactly like that,” Darcy grinned. “Come on, the big guy deserves a little love, right?”
Tony’s eyes moved to the side, away from her, and Darcy followed his gaze, landing on Natasha. The red-head’s expression was unforthcoming. Tony didn’t look happy, either. “From whom did Ms. Lewis hear that?” Tony finally asked.
“Me,” Clint raised his hand. “But I heard it from Natasha.”
“It doesn’t matter who told whom,” Darcy insisted. “The important part –”
“Okay, stop,” Bruce snapped, much harder than what Darcy had heard from him before, and which commanded the attention of the entire room at once. “The other guy’s not coming out to play – not for kisses nor for your entertainment,” he added, casting a look at Darcy. He looked at Tony next, eyes softening a fraction, but there was still a guarded look on his face. “I’ve had enough for one night. I’m going to bed.” It wasn’t a question, but rather a statement. An angry statement, too.
“I’ll be right there,” Tony replied, softer, and watched Bruce leave the room.
“No kisses, then?” Darcy observed.
Tony turned his gaze on her and, okay, that was intimidating on a whole new level. “No,” was all he said before glaring towards his three teammates. “Have a nice night, did we? Rehashing my relationship with Bruce much?”
“We didn’t –” Steve started.
“J.A.R.V.I.S.,” Tony called out, arms crossing over his chest. “Did the occupants of the mansion talk about me and Dr. Banner in our absence?”
“Extensively, sir,” the AI replied promptly.
“We didn’t talk just about you,” Clint defended them, because clearly this was becoming an argument of some kind.
Tony simply huffed and turned to leave. “Whatever. Good night.” He didn’t slam the door as he went, but he might as well have.
“Okay,” Darcy said cautiously after a while. “That didn’t go well at all.”
“Bruce Banner is quite… conflicted when it comes to the beast inside him,” Thor observed.
“Maybe if he got a little less conflicted, he might get to enjoy life once in a while,” Darcy mused.
Thor gave her a soft, indulgent smile, and the room fell into an uneasy silence until everyone decided, almost in unison, that it was time to go to bed.
Tony finished washing up and the bathroom lights dimmed and went dark as he stepped into the bedroom. Bruce was already in bed, back turned towards him, and Tony sighed. He had hoped the evening would end on a better, brighter, sexier note, but he knew that the chances for that happening had been lost.
It wasn’t as if he regretted the moment of intimate closeness between himself and the Hulk. Far from it. However, talking about it in front of Bruce seemed a bit insensitive, especially when the issue wasn’t yet completely resolved between the two of them. Sure, they had arrived at a relatively pleasant middle ground, but Tony wasn’t stupid or naïve enough to think that just because Bruce didn’t bring it up, it didn’t bother him.
He slid into bed, beneath the sheets, and was fairly certain the other man was still awake, because his breaths sounded uneven and strained. “Do you want to talk about it?” Tony asked, voice low.
“Why I didn’t want to let the other guy out tonight?” Bruce said back.
“No,” Tony replied and reached out to slide his fingers along Bruce’s shoulder, lightly. It felt better to talk about this when he could touch the other man – tell himself that Bruce wasn’t going anywhere.
“Then what?” Bruce turned around jerkily, almost angrily, but Tony had seen him angry and this wasn’t it.
“Does it bother you that it happened?” Tony ventured to explain. “I know we talked about it before, but…”
“Just, stop,” Bruce begged, and raised one hand between them, settling his fingers on Tony’s lips. “I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I can’t stop it from happening. Obviously, I’m not in control of things when the other guy’s around. Also,” he added, when Tony opened his lips to say something, “you are you, and if you want it to happen, whether or not it’s a good idea, you’ll do it. There are things you can’t fight, and while I’ve tilted at windmills for much of my life… I’ll be smart about this one. I won’t fight it; I’ll just let it happen.”
Tony tugged Bruce’s hand off his face. “That makes me sound like a horrible person.” It really did.
“It’s not like that,” Bruce reassured him, the tension slowly leaving his face. “I’m not there, Tony. I’m not part of that experience. Much as you tell me about it, describe it – show me, on video – it’s not the same. But I understand you’re trying to create a rapport between you and the other guy, because when I’m not there, he is, and I should… let it happen. Doesn’t mean I have to like it, because I’ve told you a hundred times that it won’t end well.”
“And I’m telling you, again, that it just might,” Tony said earnestly, and shifted forward to lay a soft kiss on Bruce’s lips.
“Just don’t be sad if it doesn’t end the way you planned,” Bruce told him, and then moved his arms around Tony’s body to pull him into another kiss, encouraging him afterward to settle down and sleep.
As Tony lay still, safe and secure in the other man’s hold, he wondered if he would have chosen to have the Hulk in his life should that have been an option. As it was, there was not one without the other, and he would take the rage monster with Bruce any day, without question. That was all he needed to know about it, really – all that anyone needed to know about it.
to be continued…
Author’s note: In case anyone was wondering (although you shouldn’t be, if you’ve read the previous parts of the series), the Hulk-smashing-Tony incident was featured in “Smashed Heart”.
And no, Captain America isn’t officially a zombie. Although maybe someone should check, just in case.