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), J.A.R.V.I.S., Steve Rogers (Captain America), Natasha Romanoff (Black Widow), Thor, Tony Stark (Iron Man).
Quest stars: Jane Foster, Nick Fury, Happy Hogan, Darcy Lewis, Pepper Potts, James “Rhodey” Rhodes (War Machine), Betty Ross, Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross, Erik Selvig.
Pairings: Bruce/Tony, Happy/Pepper, Jane/Thor (also: Clint/Natasha, implied past Pepper/Tony, past Bruce Banner/Betty Ross, implied/off-screen Betty/Leonard Samson)
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.
Complete. 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.
“Sir, Miss Potts is on the line for you,” J.A.R.V.I.S. told Tony while he was waist-deep in a Quinjet engine.
“Take a message,” Tony ordered with a grunt, trying to wrestle open a bolt.
“Miss Potts says she’ll hold if you’re busy, sir.”
Tony sighed, glared at the bolt and wriggled back out from under the aircraft, looking for the nearest screen he could use to take Pepper’s call, seeing as she wasn’t going to leave a message or call him later. Tony could take a hint, and he knew it was better to get these things over with.
He walked to the other side of the garage/hangar beneath the Mansion’s lawn and sat down in a chair, motioning for J.A.R.V.I.S. to take her call to the screen sitting on the desk in front of him.
Pepper’s face appeared a few seconds later and she gave him a polite smile. “You’re working,” she noted.
“Don’t sound so shocked,” Tony mused and rubbed at his cheek, which was itching – only to realize he was covered in oil stains. “What can I do for you, boss?” he asked then. Tony couldn’t recall her sending over any paperwork lately, and she didn’t look like she was having a fit over a deadline Tony had forgotten.
“I want to schedule a date,” Pepper announced.
“A what?” Tony blinked and wondered if he had oil in his ears, too. Unlikely, but not impossible either.
“A date,” she repeated. “With you and Bruce.”
“I know you went on a double date with Thor and Jane Foster,” she added, as if that were some kind of valid argument. “Happy and I want to sit down with the two of you for one evening.”
Tony wondered if he had inhaled something while inside the Quinjet, his chest tightening. “Is that a good idea?” he asked.
“Tony,” Pepper started with that soft tone she’d used whenever Tony was starting to act like a spooked animal – her description, not his. “I want to make things right between us. We have done our… own things for a while now, and I think it’s time we try to mend our fences. So, tell me when you’re available and I’ll make the arrangements.”
“Pep, wait,” Tony hurried to interject before she could start scribbling down notes on the calendar that lay in front of her. “I don’t think it’s a good idea.” She frowned at him and Tony was aware that he was doing more harm than good right now, so he went on explaining: “The last – and only – time Bruce and I went out in public on a date, it didn’t end very well. Plus, that happened less than a week ago, so I’m fairly certain I won’t be able to talk Bruce into it even if I wanted to.”
Pepper nodded, considering it. “At the Tower, then. Is that acceptable?”
“It’s better,” Tony agreed, realizing he was running out of excuses. “And you’ll have to take into consideration that if there’s some kind of attack or the world starts to come to an end, we have to assemble with the other Avengers,” he listed, because he knew how much Pepper hated whenever anything they’d planned was ruined because Tony needed to get into his armor and be somewhere else.
“When was the last time I didn’t take that into consideration?” she challenged him, which was also a good point; Pepper hadn’t liked it, but she had dealt with it. “Do you think you’re free this weekend?”
“We should be,” Tony replied.
“Then we will see you at six this Saturday,” Pepper decided, and Tony could see her pen moving as she made the reservation.
“Unless the world ends,” Tony reminded her.
“Unless the world ends.” She actually smiled at him, and Tony smiled back just before the screen went blank.
“You could have at least asked me before you said yes,” Bruce mused.
“What would you have said, had I asked?” Tony asked from the wardrobe where he was clearly trying to decide what they would wear for their double date with Pepper Potts and Happy Hogan. It was only Thursday, but Tony was acting like he was meeting the President.
Hell, Tony probably stressed less about meeting the President.
Bruce supposed his answer wouldn’t have differed from Tony’s, seeing as he would have tried to be on good terms with Pepper. Tony still had feelings for her, so that was all the reason in the world to keep things civil between them, at least. “What should I wear?” Bruce asked, uncertain how formal things would be. In light of their most recent attempt at a date, Bruce’s confidence was at an all-time low. Well, not ‘all-time’, honestly, but he wasn’t feeling great about his lack of control and it made him uneasy, especially at the prospect of such an important event.
Tony looked away from the contents of the wardrobe, measured Bruce up with his eyes, then looked back at the clothes. He heaved out a heavy sigh. “I have no idea.”
“Maybe you should ask her,” Bruce suggested gently. Seeing as Pepper was clearly in control of the date preparations, she probably set the standards for the dress code, too.
“How about you ask her,” Tony snapped, closed the door and threw himself onto his back on the bed beside Bruce, covering his face with his hands.
Bruce reached out to pat his thigh and supposed they would either be told what to wear or they would figure it out on their own since neither of them wanted to ask Pepper. “Do you think we’re making a big deal out of this?” Bruce mused after a bit.
“Probably,” Tony admitted from behind his hands.
“We should just relax and have fun,” Bruce added.
“Not a chance,” Tony huffed and lifted his hands above his head, looking at Bruce. “I’ve barely seen Pep and Happy since… you know. I know they’ve given me the distance they think I need, to get over it and not to rub it in my face, but I’m not sure if I can just sit in the same room with them, watch my friend and my ex rub elbows – or worse, something else.” His face scrunched up like he had just swallowed something exceptionally bitter.
“You’ll have to face it one day,” Bruce reminded his boyfriend. “Pepper and Happy are doing well – unless you know something I don’t. It’s unfair to expect them to hide it from you for the rest of your lives.”
“I’m not expecting them to hide anything,” Tony snapped, but clearly he got the point. “What if all I want to do is strangle Hogan for making a move on my girl behind my back?” he asked. “Wouldn’t that make you upset?”
Bruce dared to chuckle. “You know you won’t do that.”
“Well, I’ll keep you from doing it because it would be embarrassing.”
Tony scoffed, pursed his lips and stared at the ceiling. “I don’t want you to feel weird,” he added after a while. “I go way back with these people. Hogan used to have my back, and Pepper and I had a lot of history even before romance entered the picture. I might want to punch Hogan – as much I want to punch myself for not seeing it happen – but you’ll have to sit there, smiling pleasantly…”
Bruce was glad to hear that Tony was considering his feelings in this situation as well. After all, he had been there to pick up the pieces even when Tony claimed he wasn’t broken up about Pepper leaving him. The whole training accident with the Hulk was a result of that event, and it had given Bruce a lot of grief.
It had also given him this relationship with Tony, for which he was glad, even with all the crap it entailed.
“I’ll be fine,” he told Tony and rolled down to lie beside him, settling his head on Tony’s shoulder. “We’ll both be fine. In fact, we’ll be so fine that it’s the other two who are probably going to be shifting uneasily all night.”
Tony laughed and turned his head to kiss Bruce’s forehead, his left arm moving down to hug Bruce’s body closer to his side. “That sounds like a good plan, Doc.”
Plan or no plan, when Saturday arrived, they were both nervous.
Pepper hadn’t graced them with any further instructions when it came to dress code, so Tony opted for well-cut suits, ties, and black shoes. Bruce kept fidgeting with his tie, brushing his hair over and over until Tony finally took over, added some gel to his curls and then nodded with satisfaction.
“There,” Tony decided as he smoothed down Bruce’s jacket. “Someone’s looking handsome.”
“If I didn’t, it would be your fault,” Bruce pointed out wryly.
Tony laughed, styled his own hair with swift brushes of his fingers, then washed his hands, dried them and took a look at himself in the mirror. “Ready or not…”
They drove to the Tower, Bruce switching between radio stations the entire way without finding anything good to listen to. Tony didn’t comment on his nervous activities, knowing that calling Bruce out on it would only make things worse. The other man had been a perfect gentleman concerning the idea of this date, even though Tony would have understood if Bruce was less than inclined to show up.
When Tony parked the car beneath the Tower, he noticed at once that Pepper and Happy were already there. It didn’t surprise him, but Tony couldn’t completely shake the feeling that he was walking into some kind of trap, which was absolutely ridiculous.
Bruce glanced at him, fingers drumming soundlessly against his knee. Tony tried to detect whether there was some kind of code hidden in the rhythm, but he couldn’t find any. The fingers stopped eventually and Tony stared at them for a while longer, then looked Bruce in the eye. “Ready?” the scientist asked him. He looked calm, all of a sudden. Like he sometimes did right before transforming into the Hulk in the middle of a fight.
Tony wasn’t certain whether that was supposed to make him feel confident or edgy about tonight.
“It’s not getting easier, the longer we wait,” Tony finally decided and got out of the car so fast it might have been considered escaping a highly unpleasant situation. Bruce followed him at a more leisurely pace – another sign that he had found that strange place of inner calm in the midst of all the rage. Not that Bruce probably had a lot of anger directed at the date night ahead of them, but Tony knew the man had issues – a shitload of them – and that kind of burden didn’t magically vanish no matter what the situation.
They walked to the elevator that was waiting for them. “J, do you know where Pepper plans on having this party?” Tony asked as he straightened his clothes, eyes on the elevator mirror.
“The common floor, sir, seeing as you are the only occupants in this part of the Tower.”
Bruce’s eyes found his in the mirror, and Tony turned to brush the other man’s clothes into perfection. “You’re fussing,” Bruce commented.
“I am not.”
“Oh, you are.” Bruce’s hands slid to capture Tony’s, holding them firmly. “It’s going to be okay. All of us feel equally awkward about the situation, but Pepper asked for this chance anyway.”
Tony nodded. He knew that.
“Think of how well the night with Thor and Jane went; this could turn out to be just as good,” Bruce added.
“With a better ending, maybe,” Tony dared to suggest, and Bruce leaned in to kiss him. That took Tony’s mind effectively off any kind of fussing and last minute adjustments – up until the elevator stopped, the doors opened, and Tony could just feel someone staring at them.
Bruce relinquished his hold on Tony and drew back, throwing an uncertain smile over Tony’s shoulder. “Mr. Hogan,” he greeted.
“Hi,” Happy replied from behind Tony, who, knowing that any chance at a casual entrance had now been ruined, turned around and nodded at his former bodyguard.
“What’s up?” Tony asked, sensing Bruce following him out of the elevator. The doors closed soundlessly behind them, leaving them in awkward silence.
“Not much,” Happy replied, clearly uneasy. “You know, work.”
“Uh huh,” Tony nodded along.
Soft music began to play from the speakers all of a sudden – the romantic kind that bordered on really annoying, but was absorbed by the room nicely enough that it didn’t drive one insane. “Thank you, J.A.R.V.I.S.,” Pepper’s voice carried over.
“My pleasure, Miss Potts,” the AI replied.
Pepper walked into the room, draped in an elegant dress that wasn’t too flashy, given the occasion. Happy was wearing one of his better suits, now that Tony took notice of the fact, which meant dressing up had been a wise choice. “Hi,” Pepper smiled as she came over to greet them. She gave Tony an extremely brief hug, then shook Bruce’s hand; both of them looked uncertain at how to go about it, so the simple gesture of greeting was even shorter than the hug Tony had received.
“Shall we sit down?” Happy offered after a bit.
Tony went along with it, even though this was more Tony’s home than theirs. Happy brought in some chilled drinks and they sat on the round couches, one couple facing another, a table between them. The silence that followed was incredibly awkward, in between Bruce complementing the low-alcohol drink and Happy going on to elaborately tell everyone how they’re made.
Pepper sought Tony’s eyes a moment later, and everything that was happening around him felt like it was drifting away. “Can I talk to you for a moment?” Pepper requested then, voice soft.
“Sure,” Tony agreed, got up and followed her into the kitchen.
There was food lying around, some of it warming in the oven while other dishes sat ready to be served. Tony paid them no mind for now, looking at Pepper instead. “You look good,” he complemented. She really did: her hair was shining, her skin looked healthy, and there were no dark circles under her eyes. Pepper looked revitalized in a way she often hadn’t while she was with Tony, and it was as if he saw the effects of his work as Iron Man for the first time – or the lack of said effects, to be precise.
Pepper offered him a smile. “You look… happy,” she concluded. Tony supposed it would have gone too far to say he looked fantastic, in between working, building and avenging.
“I am,” Tony confirmed.
“Bruce looks great, too,” she noted.
Tony chuckled. “When you get him cleaned up, you can actually take him outside the house.”
Pepper’s lips pursed as if she weren’t sure whether to take it as a joke or not. “So, I take it things have stayed good between you?”
“Reasonably so,” Tony agreed. He wasn’t sure how much she had heard of his and Bruce’s argument over the armor modifications – which was now in the past – or Tony’s little run-in with General Ross. Either way, things were good in the middle of all the craziness in their lives. “What about you and Happy?” he asked politely, although he wasn’t sure he wanted to hear the answer to that.
“We’ve been taking it slow, like in the beginning,” Pepper admitted. “I’m still trying to function without you constantly around,” she added, which was a surprise. “It’s harder than I thought it would be, but I’m not regretting my decision.”
Tony nodded. He told himself to be happy for her and that she had found the strength to leave Tony while she still could – before his life swallowed her up completely. “I’m not sure if I’ve ever said it, but I’m glad you’re safe,” he mused. “Away from all this.” He vaguely motioned at the surrounding building, but Pepper knew what he meant.
She bit her lip before moving her hand, sliding it down Tony’s arm before stopping near his wrist, holding onto him. “I still keep watching the news,” she confessed in a whisper. “Every time you’re out there… Things haven’t changed as much as I thought they would. I’m still afraid for you, and mad whenever you get hurt.”
“But you don’t have to be there for me,” Tony concluded.
Pepper looked at him and stepped closer, sliding her other hand to his waist, grasping onto it tight. “You know that I will be there, though, right? When you need me… I’ll be there.”
Tony nodded, feeling his throat tighten as if squeezed by some invisible force.
Pepper leaned in towards him, letting go of his wrist in order to hug him, and Tony returned the gesture after a bit, holding her tightly, all of the tension slowly bleeding out of his body.
“I will always love you, Virginia Potts,” he told her.
She didn’t answer, but the way her nails dug into his back even through his suit jacket was more than enough of an answer.
“What do you think they’re doing?” Happy Hogan voiced a very valid concern after Tony and Pepper had been gone for a good twenty minutes.
“Hopefully not getting into a fight,” Bruce noted.
The two of them didn’t have a lot to talk about, so most of the last twenty minutes had been spent in an odd silence. Happy had fixed himself another drink but hadn’t drunk all of it yet, as if he were holding back.
“Pepper wanted tonight to be special,” Happy confessed. “She spends so much time thinking about Tony I sometimes feel like they’re still in a relationship.” Their eyes met and the man lifted a hand as if expecting Bruce to Hulk-out on the spot. “Not that they are, but her feelings for him run deep, and the way they split up…”
“It was rough,” Bruce agreed. “I know Tony was worried about us coming here – both of us, really.”
“Yeah?” Happy offered him a rueful smile. “I’m sitting here with a… you know,” he gestured at Bruce. “An Avenger.”
Bruce had a feeling he had intended to say something else, but he let it pass.
“It was weird when Tony started fighting with you guys. Now all people talk about are the Avengers, as if a little while ago it wasn’t just Iron Man keeping the peace,” Happy went on.
“Do you miss those times?” Bruce asked.
“Sometimes,” Happy confessed. “Life was simpler. Not that anything was simple after that whole mess in Afghanistan, but at least I saw more of Tony. Of course, after everything…” He grabbed his glass, fiddled with it but didn’t drink it down. “He has every right to be mad at me,” he admitted with a heavy sigh. “I just keep waiting for him to take his revenge.”
“I think Tony’s glad it’s you, of all people,” Bruce told the other man. “He knows you, trusts you, and he and Pepper… I think he was always waiting for the other shoe to drop. Not for the right reasons, probably, because he’s not…”
Happy chuckled as if he knew what Bruce was talking about. “For someone whom people think is completely egocentric and selfish to a fault, Tony’s one of the most insecure people I’ve ever met. Not to mention deluded when it comes to his own happiness; he’s been looking for it in the wrong places for so long I thought he might be incapable of actually being at ease with himself.” Happy shook his head and absently sipped his drink, then put the glass down again. “I think being with you has actually given him a lot more than anyone realizes. And I’m not saying it’s because you’re a guy, because he most certainly did fuck other men back in the day…” He caught himself before going on, giving Bruce a wary look.
“Yeah, he’s said as much,” Bruce let Happy off the hook. “I think Tony’s somewhat aware that the things that make us click are not… They’re not all that obvious.”
“You’re smart, so that definitely helps,” Happy told him, honestly and bluntly.
Bruce smiled and relaxed on the couch, guessing that the night wasn’t such a bust after all – if and when Tony and Pepper showed up again.
On cue, laughter erupted from the kitchen as the two approached the living room, carrying appetizers on three large plates.
“Need help?” Happy volunteered at once.
“We’ve got it, thanks,” Tony smiled at him, put down his load and then sat in his spot next to Bruce, giving him a look. “Okay?” he asked in a low voice, just as Pepper sank down next to Happy and actually gave the man a brief, dry kiss on the lips.
“Yeah, actually,” Bruce nodded and looked at the finger food. His stomach growled a bit at the sight and smell of it.
“Dig in,” Pepper encouraged. “I tried to go a little exotic with the choices, knowing that you’ve been around.”
Bruce nodded, selecting one cocktail stick with some meat, cheese and a grape skewered on it. The others followed his lead, and they talked about the food easily for the next few minutes.
From there on out, the discussion moved through safe waters that left no room for great arguments; Bruce and Tony shared some Avengers stories that could be considered funny, whereas Pepper had many a tale to spin about her time helming Stark Industries. By the time they had stuffed themselves with the actual dinner and dessert, Bruce decided the date had been a good idea.
As more drinks were served, the discussion unerringly moved towards Tony’s past.
“I mean, that woman,” Happy described some one-weekend dalliance of Tony’s. He gestured with his hands, implying big breasts had been involved.
“She had the most amazing tits,” Tony agreed. “Real, too.”
“No, they weren’t!” Pepper disagreed loudly.
“Oh, trust me on this one because I know this stuff,” Tony said right back, a grin on his face. “Plus, I conducted a very thorough research experiment on the subject over those few days.”
Bruce snorted, too amused to even pretend he was offended.
Pepper shook her head and sipped her drink. “She was such an idiot, though.”
“I didn’t take her to Aspen for her IQ,” Tony pointed out cheerfully, then checked Bruce’s face to make sure he wasn’t crossing a line.
“How was it that Pepper ended up working for you?” Bruce dared to ask – not at all implying that Pepper’s breasts had won that position for her.
“With smarts,” was Tony’s immediate reply.
“That’s how we met, actually,” Pepper gestured at Happy with her wine glass, then laughed, trying to hide it behind her hand. “Oh my God, that was so embarrassing!”
“She was working in accounting at SI,” Happy explained to Bruce. “So, one day, she finds some mistake in Tony’s calculations, wants to make sure he finds out about it and demands to meet him in person.” Pepper let out a high titter at that, as if the good part was coming up soon. “So, she forces her way in to meet him – with pepper spray.” Happy’s grin suggested he had been present when that happened.
“After that, I was called ‘Pepper’,” Pepper explained and smoothed a hand across Happy’s shoulder. “I doused him and Tony’s other bodyguards with the spray when they wouldn’t let me in, and Tony hired me as his PA afterwards.”
Bruce would have doubted the story’s credibility, but all of them seemed to be in agreement and he deduced that it had to be true. “That’s so like you it’s actually not even funny,” Bruce told his boyfriend.
“Yeah, well, back in those days people weren’t actually actively trying to kill me, so I could let it slide,” Tony admitted. “She was fierce!” he added, grinning at Pepper, who tried hiding behind her hand, still giggling. She was drunker than the rest of them, but not by much. Bruce reminded himself that he should watch his own alcohol intake, just in case, but the mood was easy and nothing so far had set him off even a little.
“Can we talk about someone else for a change?” Tony asked as he plucked a biscuit from a bowl and put some blue cheese on top of it.
“You are our common denominator,” Bruce pointed out. “Besides, your embarrassing past is far more interesting than the three of ours combined.” He shoved his shoulder against Tony’s lightly, to let Tony know he was joking, and Tony gave him a good-natured look.
“Okay,” Pepper snapped her fingers. “Can we talk about Kim?”
“He-Kim?” Happy grinned.
“Who is He-Kim?” Bruce asked.
“Oh, he was the sole reason Tony learned to suck cock,” Pepper claimed, which kicked off another fit of giggles.
“Pepper didn’t actually work for Tony back then,” Happy pointed out.
“Neither did you,” Tony reminded his friend. “You’ve both heard the story from Rhodey!”
“So, does He-Kim even exist?” Bruce asked.
“The data suggests he was very real, indeed,” J.A.R.V.I.S. butted in.
“Thanks, J,” Tony rolled his eyes. “Kim,” he stressed the name, “was a brother of a fellow student at MIT. They were from Thailand, and Kim was the epitome of a ladyboy: effeminate, cute as a button – and he had the prettiest cock I had ever seen. So, we struck a deal, and I spent half a semester practicing my blow job technique with him.”
“You never told me about that,” Bruce mused.
“Never came up. It wasn’t as big of a deal as everyone makes it sound.” Tony pointedly looked at Pepper and Happy, who were having way too much fun with the story. “We both got stuff out of it, and if I sometimes bought him ridiculously cute stuff, that didn’t mean anything – other than that I was very grateful for the lessons,” he added with a grin and leaned closer to Bruce. “As I may demonstrate to my boyfriend later tonight.”
Pepper scoffed. “Okay, enough.”
Tony stuck his tongue out at her.
“It’s not the only technique you mastered early on,” Pepper shot back, then got up a bit unsteadily. “Ladies room,” she announced and walked off. She had taken off her shoes, which made her walking look a bit steadier than it otherwise might have been.
Happy watched her go then chuckled and shook his head.
“So, how are things going between you?” Tony asked his old bodyguard.
Happy glanced at him then down at the table. “As well as I dare to hope for. I’m not going to spill any dirty details, though,” he added, pointing an accusing finger at Tony as if he had tried to manipulate him into doing so.
Tony lifted his hands up, palms forward, and tried to look innocent. “As long as she’s happy,” he decided.
Pepper rejoined them a few minutes later, half-sitting in Happy’s lap. They looked happy, and Bruce dared to slide his hand over to hold Tony’s. The answering grasp he received was reassuring – as was the fond smile Pepper gave them, all the way until her eyelids began to droop.
“I think it’s time for bed,” Tony decided.
“You’re not going to drive back to the Mansion, are you?” Happy asked.
“Nah,” Tony shook his head and glanced at Bruce. “Might as well spend the night here.”
“We could still party for a bit,” Pepper suggested, but she was ready to nod off if given a chance. “Have a night cap.”
“We’ve all had a few too many,” Bruce replied smoothly and rose to his feet. “I, for one, should call it a night.”
Tony got up after him and they took some of the remaining food into the kitchen and put it in the fridge. In the living room, Happy was telling Pepper they were going to bed – then Bruce spied a glimpse of Happy lifting the red-head into his arms and carrying her off while Pepper giggled and kissed his jaw.
“Is she always like that?” Bruce asked, mildly amused.
“When she’s not stressed or angry,” Tony confessed. “She doesn’t get to relax often enough.”
“I assume it depends on the people she’s with, too?”
Tony met his eyes steadily. “More often than not.” He took a step towards Bruce and slid his arms around his waist. “Tonight was great. Thanks for being such a good sport about everything.”
“How could I not?” Bruce teased. “Besides, you promised me something nice…” Tony smiled at him wickedly and started sliding down his body, but Bruce caught him after a few inches and pulled him back up. “Maybe tomorrow,” he offered. “I think we’ve both had a bit too much to drink.”
“It isn’t science, you know,” Tony rolled his eyes, but didn’t pick a fight over it, instead leading the way towards the elevator so that they could go to Tony’s floor.
“Science I could handle while drunk. You, naked? Not so much,” Bruce teased, and once they got into the elevator, Tony proceeded to kiss him and steal the air from his lungs until they reached the bedroom.
Far as dates went, in Bruce’s limited experience, this had been a good one.
to be continued…