Hulking out was always a huge ordeal for Bruce. The transformation broke every bone in his body and stretched his muscles beyond what they should have been able to endure. Beyond that, the Other Guy burned through energy like fire burns dried grass. His high metabolism combined with the smashing and leaping burned a serious number of calories.
To say he was exhausted after a transformation would be a huge understatement. He usually only had enough energy to regain his modesty and then stumble to a safe place to sleep. Since joining the Avengers he had been lucky in that he never had to find clothes, as Tony always brought him some after the battle, and he trusted them enough to fall asleep in their presence once the boarded the Quinjet.
Today the battle had dragged on and on, and Bruce was so exhausted that he barely finished getting dressed before he fell asleep; right in the middle of the crater Hulk had created. Tony smiled at his friend fondly and picked him up to carry him back to the Quinjet.
Cradling the sleeping physicist against his chest, he sat down on one of the benches, and before he even realized he had drifted, he was being awaken by a smirking Clint.
“You and the doc seem quite cozy there,” he jeered as he indicated the way Tony’s arms were still wrapped around Bruce. “Is there something the two of you aren’t telling us?”
“You’re just jealous it isn’t you,” Tony shot back, before waking the slumbering scientist, and heading into the Tower.
2. 50 hour lab marathon
Bruce and Tony were different in many ways, but one way which they were all too similar was that when they were on to something in the lab they hardly slept or ate until they saw their idea through. It was far from healthy, but they would claim that the science was worth it.
After one such instance where they were finishing an experiment that had kept them awake for fifty hours, they found themselves seeking the first soft surface to crash into after the copious amounts of caffeine they had consumed wore off.
They were in fact so sleep deprived they didn’t even realize that they had both picked the same location to get some desperately needed sleep. They just both laid down on the lab couch oblivious to each other’s presence.
As they slept, the need for warmth drew them together, and soon they were a mess of tangled limbs as their unconscious minds tired to pull their bodies closer to the source of warmth next to them.
When they awoke, it was to a clattering in the air vents followed by the snapping of a camera phone.
“Wait ‘till Nat sees this,” echoed from the metallic duct-work overhead.
“Hey, Birdbrain, mind your own business, or I’ll have JARVIS booby trap the ventilation system,” Tony yelled at the ceiling in annoyance.
3. Movie Night
Thursday nights were movies nights in Avenger’s Tower. Steve thought that the activity was good for team bonding, and Tony thought that it was a good opportunity to teach Steve and Thor about the modern world, (and if sometimes the movies made Steve incredibly uncomfortable, well, that was just a bonus).
Steve and Bruce walked into the common living room toting several large bowls of popcorn, and set them down on the coffee table.
“Come join me, Brucie,” Tony called from the love seat. “I reserved this space for awesome, genius, science bros.”
Bruce rolled his eyes, but smiled fondly, as he joined Tony. Clint opened his mouth to make a comment, but Natasha shot him a deadly look, so he kept his mouth shut. Steve made his way to the couch and sat between Thor and Natasha, and the movie started.
It was Thor’s week to pick the movie, and he had chosen Homeward Bound, because he had heard it was “the epic tale of three brave warriors who came together to fight their way back to their home.”
Nobody could deny the movie was cute, but it failed to keep either scientist’s interest. A mere thirty minutes into the film they were both snoring. Tony was resting his head on Bruce’s shoulder, and Bruce had his head leaned on top of Tony’s.
“I told you something was going on between those two,” Clint whispered to Natasha from the arm of the couch.
“They’re just tired. There’s nothing more to it. If they were together I would know it,” she hissed back.
“They do seem to do that a lot though,” Steve contributed under his breath.
“They are merely comfortable with one another. Is that not how brothers-in-arms should be?” Thor boomed; earning a round of shushing from the other three.
“Ten bucks says they’re sleeping together less innocently before the end of the month,” Clint challenged.
“You’re on,” Natasha replied.
“Two months,” Steve countered, causing the assassins to stare at him surprise. “They’re going to dance around each other a while. I think it’ll take them two months.”
The three shook on it, and then returned their attention to the movie.
4. Flu season
Tony was miserable. He felt like he’d been run over by a train. A train with at least fifty cars loaded to capacity. He also felt like he’d been drenched in sweat and then thrown out onto the Arctic tundra in the middle of winter. To make matters worse, he jostled his arc reactor every time he coughed, causing jolts of pain to surge through his chest.
The others gave Tony a wide berth. He was far from pleasant when he was sick. Bruce was the only one who dared enter into Tony’s apartment because a, he couldn’t get sick, b, he was the unofficial team doctor, and c, Tony’s whining didn’t bother him enough to overwhelm his urge to take care of the other man.
“Feeling any better?” Bruce asked as he peeked into Tony’s room.
“Have you eaten?”
“Yes,” Tony indicated an empty bowl on the nightstand that Bruce had brought earlier filled with soup.
“That’s a start,” Bruce approved.
“It would be a start if I didn’t feel like Wile E. Coyote after he got smashed by an anvil,” Tony snipped.
“Sorry. Not much I can do about that. Rest and time,” Bruce answered evenly. “Speaking of which, you should probably try to sleep.”
He turned to leave, but a pathetic sound behind him stopped him.
“Couldn’t you stay?” Tony asked nearly pleadingly.
Bruce turned around and looked at the billionaire. Tony truly looked like he was in pain; his eyes were bright with fever and were practically begging Bruce to stay. Unable to leave knowing how sick Tony must feel if he was willing to actually ask him to stay, Bruce made his way over to a chair in one of the corners and sat down.
“Come on, you can’t get sick thanks to Big Mean Green. Get over here,” Tony urged.
Bruce hesitated, but crossed the room and sat on the edge of the bed.
“Besides, all that radiation makes you really warm and I’m freezing,” Tony said as he curled closer to Bruce.
Bruce sighed as he realized what Tony wanted, but he still slipped off his shoes and slid into the bed. He let Tony scoot closer, and wrapped his arms around the other man. To be fair, he seemed really sick, and other people had tried to use Bruce for far worse things than “human hot water bottle.” What’s more, Bruce’s presence seemed to help Tony relax, and soon his soft snores filled the room.
Bruce smiled to himself as he looked down at the sleeping mechanic and allowed himself to drift off as well.
5. April 12
Bruce wasn’t quite sure why he had reacted so strongly, all he knew was that he was since JARVIS told him the date he had been shaking and sobbing on the floor, his mind flooded with terrible memories. He was pretty sure he couldn’t stand if he tried, but at the moment he didn’t much feel like trying.
There were soft but rushed footsteps behind him that paused at the door to his bedroom.
“Bruce? Are you okay?” Tony asked softly.
He tried to answer, but all that came out were choked sobs made worse by his frustration at being unable to communicate. He tried again, but this time all he could manage were little breathless gasps.
In the blink of an eye Tony crossed the room, sank to the floor, and enveloped the other man in his arms. He held him tightly, running one hand up and down his back in an attempt to sooth the wracking sobs that were overtaking Bruce’s body. He hugged Bruce tighter as his shaking became more violent; trying to still the broken man as his own heart broke a little from witnessing his best friend fall apart.
“He killed her,” Bruce mumbled brokenly into Tony’s shoulder. “We were finally going to be free, and he killed her… He killed her.”
Tony nodded sympathetically, not knowing what else to do, and continued to cradle the physicist against his body.
Bruce lifted his head and pulled back slightly so his red swollen eyes could meet Tony’s.
“He wouldn’t stop hitting her. She fell to the ground, and he knelt over her and grabbed her by the shoulders. He shook her, and her head bounced of the pavement. I closed my eyes. I couldn’t watch, but I could still hear it. I could hear him smashing her head against the pavement… .and . . When I opened my eyes … She was so still …and there was so much blood,” Bruce confessed in whisper as he looked simultaneous at Tony and through him into the past.
“I’m sorry Bruce,” Tony said, not at all certain that was the right thing to say, but feeling like he should say something.
Silence filled the room with it’s suffocating presence, and Tony wondered if he had said the wrong thing.
“No, I’m sorry. I have no idea why I reacted like this. I …I’m sorry,” Bruce returned.
“It’s okay to be upset, Bruce,” Tony responded, slightly shocked, well maybe not so shocked given who he was talking to, that the other man felt the need to apologize for what he felt was more than reasonable reaction to what he had gone through. Hearing what Bruce had been through made him feel sick, and a little like crying, and he hadn’t had to live through it.
“I just … I … I haven’t thought about it in so long. I’ve been so focused on running for so long. All I had time to think about was staying one step ahead of Ross and his men. … Keeping hidden and under control… .Finding my next meal and place to sleep. …Most of the time I only had a vague idea of what the date was … But this morning I woke up feeling safe in place I’m lucky enough to call home . . And when JARVIS told me the day … I just couldn’t help it … . It just all came back … It was all so clear … Like it was happening all over again. I just … . I can’t … It’s … . . ”
Tony briefly squeezed the trembling man in his arms as his explanation faded into weepy babble. He had absolutely no idea what to say, but he hoped his presence showed Bruce just how much he cared. He wanted nothing more than to wipe away each one of Bruce’s tears and promise him that everything would be okay, but he knew he couldn’t do that. So instead he held the other close and gently rocked them both back and forth until Bruce calmed down and the pair made their way to the kitchen for breakfast, (at Tony’s insistence that Bruce eat something).
+1 ; )
“Why haven’t we been doing this all along?” Tony panted as he rolled onto his back on the soft bed.
“Because we were too dumb to realize that we both wanted it?” Bruce said with a shrug as he turn onto his side to face the other man.
“I resent that. We’re both geniuses!” Tony countered, his breathing now closer to normal.
“Apparently not when it comes to this,” Bruce smirked.
“What? It wasn’t good for you?” Tony countered mock offended.
“That’s not what I meant, and you know it,” Bruce returned and gently leaned over and planted a quick kiss on Tony’s forehead.
“Hey, stay over here,” Tony said as he captured Bruce in both arms and pulled his retreating form towards himself until the other man was partially on top of him.
The pair snuggled together and fell asleep with their limbs intertwined unaware of the soft scraping noise above them of the nosy archer on his way to tell the others that somehow Steve had won yet another bet, (two months to the day! He had to be cheating somehow).
Bruce and Tony sprawled out on the couch in Tony’s workshop on New Year’s Eve, watching the ball drop on a display screen. Tony is mockingly counting down the time, not really enthused, but when the timer hits zero and the people on the television start celebrating like crazy, Bruce drops a quick kiss on Tony’s cheek and whispers, “Happy New Year”.