Bruce has been miserable for so long that he doesn’t know how to handle himself when faced with this newfound happiness. His anger is drawing back - the Hulk is retreating. He’s being left with a calm, productive life and a sense of contentment, and he keeps waiting for something to whip it all away.
Lying on the couch in their shared sitting room is the reason for this unexpected happiness. In sweatpants and a white t-shirt, Steve currently doesn’t look like the world’s first superhero. He still possesses the kind of muscles that most men can only aspire to, and Bruce knows for a fact that it wasn’t the serum that put the spark of intelligence in his eyes or the goodness in his heart. At rest, Steve Rogers is still a hero, but he isn’t Captain America.
At rest, he looks peaceful and entranced by the book in his lap. He hasn’t yet registered that he’s noticed Bruce’s presence in the doorway, but that doesn’t mean that he doesn’t know Bruce is there. Steve is more alert than he lets on. The Black Widow can still put him to shame any day, but Steve is no slouch.
Bruce clears his throat anyway. “You mind if I join you?” he asks.
Steve looks up from his book, a familiar warm smile on his face. “This is your apartment too,” he reminds him. “You don’t have to ask.”
Bruce is still getting used to that: it’s not Steve’s place, it’s their place. There’s something unnaturally nice about that. He comes to sit down at the other end of the couch, letting Steve rest his feet in his lap.
Sinking back into the couch and taking Steve’s feet in his hands, he traces tense muscle absent-mindedly and he allows his thoughts to wander. The Hulk is nothing but a quiet purr in the back of his mind. The rage seems to recede every single day until it is nothing more than an echo of a bad dream.
Sometimes he worries that that dream is going to go back. He doesn’t want to see what the other guy might do to Steve. It destroys everything that he loves. Why would it react any differently to Steve?
He won’t give it a chance. Looking up towards Steve, who seems to have given up on reading his book in favour of closing his eyes with a small moan as Bruce works on his feet. Bruce has to grin at the sight of it, the world’s first superhero reduced to putty in his hands. That is the kind of power most people could never imagine. It’s certainly something the Hulk, for all his strength, could never hope to aspire to.