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Handling Pointy Things • Chapters 1-2






Story Info




Title: Handling Pointy Things

Author: Del Rion (delrion.mail (at) gmail.com)

Fandom: The Avengers & Iron Man (MCU)

Era: Post-Avengers movie, after “Blue Glow” fic.

Genre: Drama

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.
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.

Disclaimer: Iron Man and Avengers, their characters and everything else belong to Marvel. The movie versions belong to Marvel Studios, Joss Whedon, Jon Favreau, Louis Leterrier, Kenneth Branagh, Joe Johnston, Paramount Pictures, Universal Pictures, Walt Disney Pictures… in short: everyone but me. This is pure fiction, created to entertain likeminded fans, no profit made.

Beta: Mythra

Feedback: Appreciated and cherished.


About Handling Pointy Things: In “Blue Glow”, Bruce had a dream that threw him a bit.

Before that, in “Smashed Heart” and “A Hulk-shaped Aegis”, he created a closer relationship with Tony (bordering on over-protective).

Even before that, in “Sleeping It Off”, Bruce felt drawn to the other man.

(Yes, all of the above is pimping for the previous parts in the series which you may or may not want to read before getting acquainted with this story.)

Between almost killing Tony, saving his life, trying to protect him and having some disturbingly nice dreams, Bruce can finally start admitting to himself that something’s going on that he hadn’t planned for when he joined the Avengers. This story aims to delve into that situation and what follows it for Bruce, Tony, the team and some assorted worried friends.

Parts of this story were inspired by prompts, comments and art:
Chapters 11, 14, 15, 16, 25 and 26 were written for separate prompts at avengerkink.
A scene in chapter 17 was inspired by Brilcrist’s art.
Chapter 19 was written in response to spocktacular’s (AO3) comment.


Chapters and statuses: Below you see the writing process of the story’s chapters. If there is no text after the chapter’s title, then it is finished and checked. Possible updates shall be marked after the title.

Chapter 1: Breathing In
Chapter 2: Dreamscape
Chapter 3: Tiptoeing
Chapter 4: Eye-catching
Chapter 5: Strutting
Chapter 6: Reality Check
Chapter 7: Handling
Chapter 8: Reality Check 1.2
Chapter 9: Pointy Things
Chapter 10: Reality Check 2.0
Chapter 11: Conditioning
Chapter 12: Reality Check 2.5
Chapter 13: Breathing Out
Chapter 14: Confirmation
Chapter 15: Reaffirmation
Chapter 16: Heart-stopping
Chapter 17: Offbeat
Chapter 18: Tapping
Chapter 19: Dreamscape 2.0
Chapter 20: Untapping
Chapter 21: Breathing Easy
Chapter 22: Super-dating
Chapter 23: Meet Miss Lewis
Chapter 24: Conferential
Chapter 25: Imprints
Chapter 26: Table Manners
Chapter 27: Heart-to-heart
Chapter 28: For Future Reference








Author’s note: Some heavy references to the earlier parts of the Turquoise –series included in this fic so I recommend reading them before tackling this story.

Now, finally, it’s time for some Bruce/Tony. Enjoy!





Chapter 1: Breathing In




Avengers Mansion
Manhattan, New York, NY, USA


“Breathe in for me,” Bruce said. His voice was steady and quiet, calming even though his patient of the day wasn’t afraid or in a panic over a rotting limb or something equally gruesome.

Tony took a deep, slow breath, his ribs moving, the arc reactor shifting. There were still a few faint scars but they had healed exceptionally well. All the swelling and bruises had vanished. Bruce focused on listening to his lungs then shifted the stethoscope to take a listen to his heart as well, out of habit. In the background there was the steady whirr of the arc, which he had to drown out; another thing he did out of habit by now.

The body on the examination table shifted after a moment, prompting Bruce to lift his eyes. Tony gave him a quick smile, waggling his eyebrows. “Is there anything else you would like to take a look at, Doctor?”

The flippant comment was nothing out of the ordinary; examinations made Tony nervous and uncomfortable, so he tried to break the tension by faking nonchalance. Throwing in a sexually-laced comment was a trademark move on his part. Until recently Bruce might have raised the stakes with a comment of his own or just told him to leave with a fond smile, but now he froze, his brain making a U-turn in a very different direction.

The body on top of his, rocking, rising and falling in steady rhythm; his hand on top of the arc reactor, blocking its light, the blue glow illuminating his skin…

“Doc?” Tony’s voice snapped him out of it.

“We’re done,” Bruce hurried to say and cover for the momentary lapse of focus.

Tony, of course, didn’t miss it. “Is everything okay?” he asked. “You’ve been acting a bit strangely for a while now.”

“It’s nothing,” Bruce said, turning to put his instruments away. Well, the ones that Tony had gotten him since his old things never came back from India; hopefully someone else could find a use for them there in his absence…

He thought about Asia, about how much simpler his life there had been. Horrible and restricted, maybe, treating the never-ending line of the sick and dying, hiding from any and all government agents – no matter what country they represented – but at least there he didn’t have to dread each night in his comfortable bed, pondering whether he would dream of another body joined with his and then try to look Tony in the eye and not let it show.

Bruce hadn’t thought he would ever come to miss the nightmares related to the other guy.

“It’s nothing,” he muttered again, trying to convince himself.

“I’m sure it’s something.”

Bruce started; he hadn’t thought Tony was still seated behind his back. The man usually wasted no time getting out once they were done. He turned to look at him, his friend still shirtless, the arc reactor bright even in the well-lit room, and he could only imagine what it would be like in the dark. Too bright, maybe. Not glowing softly in shades of blue as in his sensual dream.

A dream that wasn’t real.

Couldn’t become real.

Would not become real because he knew better.

Tony shifted on the table and then slid down, barefoot, just wearing a pair of pants and potentially nothing beneath them. His shirt was thrown across a chair by the door where he had chucked it off. “Bruce,” he said carefully, advancing on him. He usually called him by his surname which made this much more intimate. Bruce allowed his eyes to fall down the ribs he had traced in his sleep so many times, the hips he had grabbed and caressed.

Yes, it had been multiple dreams now. They kept coming back, almost every night and even when he took a nap which made him wary of doing it anywhere other people might see him, just in case it drew a real response from his body.

It usually did.

He hadn’t jerked off this much since his teenage years.

“I’m all better,” Tony said, mistaking his long looks as something else, “and I think we’ve established it wasn’t your fault.”

Bruce looked him in the eye again, finding it easier. In his dreams he didn’t always see Tony’s face although he knew it was there. It was other details his mind decided to focus on.

“We can keep this routine if it makes you feel better,” Tony said and Bruce knew it was a big gesture from him since he had no affection for medical prodding and poking even when it was necessary. “But I also want you to start moving on,” Tony went on. It was all kinds of wrong that Tony had to sound like the reasonable one; it was usually someone else having this discussion with him.

“Move on?” Bruce swallowed.

“Yes. You almost killed me – or the other guy did, that’s just details. It was horrible, more for me than everyone else, but you can’t keep living in that moment. We’re getting better on the field,” Tony went chattering on.

Yes, the Hulk, far as Bruce had heard, was actually letting Iron Man partake in the action again. If the situation got too hot, though, the other guy tended to intervene, and Bruce was secretly pleased. He wondered if even a lifetime of new memories would erase the vision of Iron Man’s broken form lying at his feet. Knowing that Tony was encased in the broken metal, dying…

“Bruce,” Tony said again, snapping his fingers impatiently.

“I’m working on it,” Bruce promised.

“Good. Great. That’s awesome,” Tony smiled hurriedly then turned to fetch his shirt. Bruce’s eyes followed, watching the lines and bumps of his spine; he never saw it while asleep, so he wanted to take it all in. The round curve of his ass, looking rather nice in those pants that rode low yet not too low.

“Are you checking me out?”

Bruce started; of course Tony had noticed, and of course he would be grinning. “Uhh…”

“Maybe it’s a good thing you’re not a real doctor, although it’s still pretty kinky,” Tony cracked then winked and left, his tone already changing as he started talking to J.A.R.V.I.S. in the hallway, going over some piece of coding that had been giving him trouble for a few days.

Bruce leaned against the table beside him and sighed, rubbing the bridge of his nose. He felt like taking a nap – an old habit from when he was still on the run and had to find rest wherever he could – and wondered if he could get through it without having some new ideas in it, including Tony’s backside.

The dreams bothered him for a few reasons. One of them was a worry about their origin, although he could admit he had been lonely for a long time and being around the same people was a big change. Tony was perhaps his closest friend on the team and he felt a kinship to him. Tony’s past had included plenty of unabashed attention from and for other people, and although he had slowed down considerably after becoming Iron Man – and after getting together with Pepper – he had that playboy air about him and it wasn’t a stretch to imagine him… well, in any way a person wanted to imagine him.

Another point of concern was the other guy. Bruce didn’t know how dreams like these would affect him and for now there had been no incidents. Perhaps they wouldn’t even trigger a transformation since there was no sense of danger and he had a better handle on the other guy. The only problem was the soiled sheets and clothes; he really had to get on with the tests to find out if only his blood was poisonous, or did the same apply for other bodily fluids like semen, sweat and spit? Well, he could rule the last two out as very unlikely to have an unhealthy dose of radiation but there was no room for error in that area.

Not that he planned on making a move on Tony and putting that data to good use or anything. It was bad enough J.A.R.V.I.S. had caught him having the dreams and was aware of them, but far as he knew, Tony was still oblivious – and there was no way either the AI or its creator could know whom it was his dreams focused on.

Dreams were relatively harmless. Actual interaction with a person, however, could trigger a transformation, not to mention other dangers, and he had never even felt attracted to men.

He closed his eyes, picturing Tony putting on his shirt. He had seen more of him naked than that but he was healthy and alive now, not lying unconscious in a bed, so it was different and this was the way he wanted to remember him. And perhaps he had never been attracted to men but his dreams were convincing him that he might just feel something for Tony Stark.

Opening his eyes he set out to clean up the medical room and left to make himself some tea. Perhaps it would calm him down so that he could have a perfectly normal nap with no dreams concerning dark rooms and glowing arc reactors.





to be continued…








Chapter 2: Dreamscape




Stark Tower
Manhattan, New York, NY, USA


The light burns his eyes. Something he can’t rub away. He blinks and strikes out at where the light’s coming from, hot and sudden. It’s already gone, the light’s not directed at him anymore, hovering in the air. An annoying fly. He strikes it, holds it, smashes it down.

He hits the bright light as hard as he can.

The world goes dark, and then there’s a hospital bed. His eyes burn again, but this time they feel dry after too much crying. The light in Tony’s chest is gone, an empty black hole remaining and he’s too still –

Bruce jerked violently, sweat coating his skin under the covers. His heart hammered painfully in his chest and he lunged towards the bedside lamp. He hit it with his hand, trying to find the button – anything to stop the darkness around him and bring him the rest of the way out of the dream – but he struck down the lamp and it rolled to the floor with a crash.

“Sir?” J.A.R.V.I.S.’s familiar voice interrupted his frantic grappling on the edge of the bed.

“Lights,” Bruce managed.

The room slowly lit up, no doubt to allow his eyes to adjust instead of going into full brightness at once.

He sighed, lying back, kicking the sheets the rest of the way off his body.

“Do you require something else, Dr. Banner?”

Bruce wondered about that. Usually when he had a nightmare – flashes of what the Hulk saw mingling with his own memories – he had no luxury, not even a fire to light, but this was different. “Where’s Tony?” he asked, voice still rough. The image of the hospital bed sat seared into his brain; the sensation of too much crying all too familiar and recent. He had expected the dreams would have stopped coming now that Tony was better.

“Mr. Stark is asleep in his room. Should I wake him up?”

“No, thank you,” Bruce said hurriedly.

J.A.R.V.I.S. waited silently.

Bruce peeled himself off the mattress, not feeling sorry for getting up. His skin was overheated and yet he shivered from the sweat, smelling it – a smell of fear, of despair; two potent emotions that could trigger a transformation because that was an easy way to deal, but right now he didn’t want to risk it and pushed the other guy deeper and further. He knew it wouldn’t be enough, though. He wasn’t calming down fast enough, the images still rolling around in his head. It was perhaps the clearest vision he’d had of the Hulk’s experience with Iron Man – before he smashed his chest in; almost killed Tony who was recovering from a break-up with Pepper and was trying to get himself hurt, although he perhaps wasn’t thinking of it consciously at the time. A little extra pain to cover the agony inside him…

Bruce was all too familiar with that, of getting low, of seeing no way out but the final way. Tony, however, was not the type to hold a gun to his mouth just to ride the adrenaline rush a bit further from the pain. There was no monster in him to spit the bullets back out.

He left his room, wandering the quiet halls of the Stark Tower where he and Tony had come to play in the R&D labs. They had plenty of space like that at the Avengers Mansion but the Tower was fully equipped for their current experiment and the two places weren’t that far from each other should something happen that required the Avengers to assemble.

Dim lights lined the hallways, the graceful shape of a waterfall on one living room wall giving it an unreal feeling. Bruce passed all that, not at all soothed by the beautiful harmony that usually caught his attention at least for a little bit and lured him into doing some yoga. Instead he chose another set of steps and followed them to a room he had acquainted himself with on the very first night they stayed in the Tower after the Chitauri attack; Tony’s bedroom.

He opened the door carefully, searching the darkness. The comforting light of the arc reactor shone dimly through the covers and he had an itch to step in and tug them down further to see it completely; to bask in its light, maybe discern the faint sound as it worked to keep Tony alive, to keep his heart beating and shrapnel-free…

Tony twitched, shifted, turned and opened his eyes. He lifted his head slightly, squinting, then sat up. “Banner?”

Bruce didn’t know what to say. Sorry for waking him up? He hadn’t even made a sound.

“Bad dream?” Tony tried, yawning, shaking the rest of the sleep from his face. The cover fell away and the room was washed with light blue.

Another dream invaded his mind and for now it was a blessing although it felt more distant than usual. The nightmare still persisted – a memory of something horrible which he hoped he could one day forget. “Yeah,” he finally breathed. “I just… had to see that you’re okay, although rationally I knew you would be.”

“Well, it was horrible, I hear,” Tony replied, guessing which incident his dreams had focused on. “Do you want to sit down for a bit?”

“It’s okay,” Bruce started.

“I get lonely, too, you know?” Tony mused, looking at his lap, then at the empty spot on the bed. Well, he was hogging most of the bed but maybe he did that to avoid the feeling that Pepper should still be there.

Bruce figured he could sit here a moment, push the dream the rest of the way to the back of his mind. He stepped in, closed the door – even though it was just the two of them here – and wandered over to the bed.

Tony scooted over a bit and Bruce sat down. The mattress was warm where Tony’s weight had previously been. He could smell his aftershave, a bit of cologne and what he had learned was simply Tony beneath all the oil, grease, fine linens and the smell of metal. Tony had once said something about coconuts…

“Wanna talk about it?” Tony asked.

Bruce stared at his chest, looking deep into the arc reactor, stripping layers with his eyes, knowing what lay inside; complicated and yet so very simple.

“Bruce?”

He looked up, snapping out of it. “It was a fraction of what the other guy saw and felt. They come floating back sometimes. That’s something I haven’t grown used to.” Mostly because there was no preparing himself against some of the horrors, the animal rage and reactions. Things a human mind didn’t need to cope with on daily basis.

“I used to wear a shirt to bed,” Tony started suddenly and Bruce realized his eyes had fallen to the arc again. “But I would wake up in the middle of the night, afraid, and tear it off. I used to wear one for Pepper although she didn’t think it was such a big thing, but you don’t want a night light shining in your face all night,” he mused wryly. “I guess she, too, felt it was a sign that I was still alive.”

Bruce nodded. “It’s… yeah, it does that. If you’d seen what happens without it. If it’s broken…”

Tony gave him a rueful smile. “I’m glad I wasn’t awake for that.”

“Me, too.” Bruce could somehow deal with the parts his human brain recalled perfectly, but the flashes from the other guy were unbearable. It wasn’t as if the other guy had wanted to hurt Tony, but the Hulk had just forgotten in the sudden stab of pain with whom he was dealing.

An error Bruce wasn’t going to let happen again, and so far it seemed the other guy agreed.

Tony glanced at the clock on the side. “It’s still early. We should sleep.”

Bruce nodded reluctantly, feeling stupid for barging into Tony’s room in the middle of the night like this.

“You should stay,” Tony added suddenly. “It’s a big bed and we’ve kind of shared it before.”

Bruce flushed, just a little. Only then did he notice that he was still wearing only a shirt and boxer shorts, his skin smelling of sweat and his hair all rumpled from the dream. He must look like a mess. “You remember that?” he muttered after a bit, looking away.

“Yeah,” Tony shrugged. “Look, it’s not… Like I said, I get lonely, too – we all know why, no reason to elaborate on it beyond that or I’ll spend the rest of the night, day or week in front of the liquor cabinet. Maybe the dream won’t come back to haunt you if you’re, you know, close,” he said, tapping the arc lightly. “I know you won’t try to steal it.”

What on earth made him say that? It jarred Bruce’s brain; had someone tried to steal it? Was that why Tony had such a low-key love life with strangers these days, not just because of the sudden lack of Pepper’s presence? “I won’t try to take it,” he affirmed.

Tony gave him a smile then moved around, his back to him and lay down. Bruce sat there stupidly, then slid down, too, a safe distance from Tony. Even as the lights dimmed – J.A.R.V.I.S. must have slowly switched them on as they talked – he could make out Tony’s side, the curve of his spine, the dip of his hip above the dark boxer briefs he wore. The blue glow was softer when he was turned away from him but he could tell it was still there.

“Are you holding your breath?” Tony asked with laughter in his voice.

Bruce inhaled sharply.

“I won’t bite,” Tony said in a lower tone. “Unless you want me to.”

“I would advise against that. Poisonous blood and all that,” he attempted to joke to lighten the mood. He itched to run his hand up from Tony’s hip to his shoulder but knew better than to give into that particular desire.

“You just can’t take a joke,” Tony noted. Bruce bet he was rolling his eyes even if it was behind closed lids.

“I just made one.”

Tony shifted and turned around. The arc reactor glowed between them. Maybe his eyes were adjusting because it didn’t seem so bright anymore. Tony looked at him for the longest time which had to be some kind of record for him not talking while he was in the room with another person or an AI.

“Someone tried to take your arc reactor from you,” Bruce finally stated. “Stole it.”

Tony’s face flinched, eyes snapping away from his face. One of his hands twitched as if to move over his chest to protect the device. “A man who worked to build the company with my father. He was the one who ordered the hit on me in Afghanistan, but was happy to get a suit prototype instead. He took my arc reactor to power his own design.”

“Took it?”

“Took it from my chest, leaving me to… you know, die,” Tony shrugged like it didn’t matter but he looked troubled. This time his hand moved to cover the rim of the arc.

Bruce felt a sudden stab of wrath, of anger so deep even the other guy didn’t do more than growl in unison. Someone whom Tony had obviously trusted had turned on him and taken the thing that kept him alive. Had tried to kill him. Yes, he had heard of the capture of Tony Stark and the greatest phoenix metaphor walking Earth to this day, but they had never talked about it before; first there had been the business with Loki, the Cube and the Chitauri, and later they worked on being a team, getting settled in their new life.

He shifted his hand, covering Tony’s with his own on his chest. “I will never take it from you, and as long as I’m here… they’ll have to get through me – and the other guy – to take it again.”

Tony’s eyes were wide and dark and he blinked rapidly for a few seconds. “Thanks,” he finally managed. “I’m sure I have it covered, though…” he tried to weasel out of the moment.

“Well, if the day ever comes when you’re off your guard,” Bruce mused, shifting a bit closer, wanting to be a protective wall of flesh between anyone who would try to hurt Tony. They were friends, after all, and if Bruce could do something to make Tony feel safer, he would.

Tony smiled briefly then closed his eyes. His hand slid off the arc but then moved up, pressing Bruce’s hand more firmly against it.

Bruce fell asleep with a blue glow on his face and the slight whirr of the arc reactor beneath his palm, Tony’s skin warm and alive against his.

- - -

Their hips press together. The drag of hot, wet, and tight against his cock creates a pressure low in his stomach.

He wants it to go on.

He wants it to end.

He’ll want it again when it’s over.

The blue glow moves above him, the dark room even darker around it. Nothing else matters.

“Bruce,” he whispers. It sounds different although it’s not – that’s the way everyone says his name but it means so much more.

Heat pools in his groin.

Tony’s hips press against him, rolling, seeking –

He was chasing down his orgasm when the dream ended. He could tell it was gone, the sensation suddenly dulled and gone, but there was still heat left; there was still friction. He could cling to the memory of the dream, ride the wave and come. It would feel so good, almost as good as in the dream.

“Morning.”

Bruce jerked awake – which had the unwanted effect of pressing against the solid warmth in front of him.

“Look, I’m not going to be traumatized or anything, but –”

Bruce moved as fast as he could. Somehow in the middle of the night they had moved and rolled so that Bruce ended up spooning behind Tony and his cock was currently pressed very close to his backside.

Tony rolled onto his back as Bruce tried to escape the cocoon of the sheets he didn’t remember drawing on top of them.

“It’s okay. Bruce,” Tony said, a grin on his face. “Morning wood is not rocket science. Not even science fair science.”

Bruce panted, tugging off the sheet, then realized that when he did, Tony would actually be able to see how hard he was and it felt like the entire front of his boxer shorts was wet with anticipation. So he froze there, clutching the sheets, trying to will his rigid flesh to go flaccid again.

Tony sat up, staying a safe distance from him, not wanting to crowd. “I would take it as a compliment but you were having such a nice dream – I don’t know it if was me after all,” he mused as if they were talking about the day’s project and not Bruce humping his back.

Dream.

Tony.

Not the train of thought he needed in order to get rid of his erection.

“What’s with you these days?” Tony asked then. “Even J.A.R.V.I.S. is worried although I convinced him that dreams like that are not, in fact, something to be alarmed about although he said you treated them like reoccurring nightmares. What’s with that, by the way?”

Bruce froze, looking at the other man. “J.A.R.V.I.S. told you?” Yeah, so the AI had found out and Bruce had attempted to blame it on a nightmare yet apparently the smart artificial intelligence had figured out it wasn’t that at all.

“I created him,” Tony said, a little offended. “He tried to be very discrete about it but when you make such a big deal out of it –”

“I don’t!” Bruce argued. “It’s not a… problem.”

“Good, because it isn’t; it’s completely natural. But if you want my advice, you should take care of the problem at hand because your brain is trying to tell you you need to get laid. Seriously. So your own hand is your best friend right now instead of having a death grip on it. That usually doesn’t work unless you’re into that sort of thing, and considering how long this has been going on, you’re not.”

Bruce had a hard time following, trying to think of something other than Tony and Tony’s voice and Tony talking about his hard-on. His mind kept getting dragged back into the dream he had just had, and the first time Tony ever spoke in it.

“Bruce.”

God.

He looked at the other man helplessly. The way he said his name, even awake… Well, it was the same, only it wasn’t a whisper roughened by sex. “What?”

“Is there something you want to talk about?” Tony asked a bit more seriously. “Because I get the feeling this has something to do with me and the way you kept ogling my ass the other day at the doctor’s office –”

Bruce bolted upright before he could finish. Tony had noticed. How could he think Tony wouldn’t have noticed? The man ate sexual innuendos for breakfast, it wasn’t as if Bruce’s rather open admiration of his body was going to go unnoticed.

“Hey, I didn’t mean it like that. Come on!” Tony started after him, scrambling to the edge of the bed to follow, then reached out to grab Bruce’s arm. Bruce wanted to break the contact, striding to the door, but Tony didn’t let go and there was a slight crash as Tony fell off the edge of the bed, still hanging onto him.

Bruce stopped and turned.

“Ouch,” Tony commented from the floor.

“Are you okay?” Escape and erection forgotten, Bruce crouched down just as Tony shifted to sit up, rubbing his shoulder with his free hand; the other was still firmly wrapped around Bruce’s forearm. The sheets were mostly on the floor beneath them as Bruce knelt and they looked at each other.

“This is stupid,” Tony said.

“Stop clinging to me.”

“It’s not clinging but… trying to stop you from leaving before you talk to me.”

“I can’t.”

“You can’t talk?”

“I can’t talk about it with you.”

Tony frowned. “Robert Bruce Banner,” he said slowly. “I need you to talk to me about this because… I know this problem is with me. For weeks you’ve been acting weird – but only with me. It’s never been strange between us, and at first I thought maybe you were thinking of leaving and I tried to think of a way to make you stay, but then J.A.R.V.I.S. told me about the dreams and I noticed how your eyes just sort of lingered every time we saw each other.”

Bruce looked away, flushing. “I tried not to…”

“Look, my ass can tell when it’s being watched,” Tony said, humor back in his voice for the time being. “It has its own radar, refined by years of practice. I don’t care, it’s nothing new, but it’s you and suddenly it’s a problem. So, tell me… I’m just going to ask you because it’s easier if it’s out there: are you having sexual dreams about me?”

The color didn’t drain from Bruce’s face. He just stared at Tony’s face, the dark eyes that weren’t as wide as last night but waiting for his reply with quiet reserve. He could lie but they both probably knew the real answer. “Yes,” he finally confessed.

“Okay,” Tony said, letting out some of the air he had clearly been holding. “Great. You and half of the globe’s population; it’s nothing new because I’m awesome like that,” he cracked a smile.

“Half?” Bruce shot back because it was easier to take the sarcastic road.

Tony shrugged. “An argument could be made for a little less, but let’s face it, I’m the public face of this team so I get the girls the rest of you are pussyfooting around.”

Bruce dared a laugh. True, Tony was out there with his own name and was more real than the rest of them who stayed behind masks and codenames. “I always thought masked vigilantes were the symbols to get people’s dreams going, not the unmasked ones.”

“Pfft, overrated. Besides, it works for you, doesn’t it?” he winked again, then allowed himself to get serious again.

Bruce shifted uncomfortably. Now that it was out there, he wasn’t sure if it would get easier or worse.

“It’s just dreams,” Tony said after a bit. “It’s harmless. You can apologize for this morning if it makes you feel better, but at the end of the day you know it’s not real. No harm done.”

“That’s the problem,” Bruce said dryly. “The dream and reality are getting mixed up and I can’t really tell them apart anymore. It’s turning into an obsession and I can’t seem to turn it off. Every day I have to face you and remind myself of which version of you I’m looking at.” He looked at Tony to make a point and although he knew he wasn’t sleeping right now, the unclothed state of the other man made it hard to not let the dream seep through to his thoughts.

“So I guess then there’s no harm in it if I kiss you?” Tony mused, leaning forward, his hand leaving Bruce’s arm and moving towards his neck to pull him forward.

Bruce leaned back fast, stopping Tony. “I can’t.”

“You can’t?” Tony blinked. “It will be better than a dream, I promise you that.”

“I can’t,” Bruce repeated.

Tony sat back, almost pouting as he thought. “Why?” he asked then.

“The other guy. It’s not a dream. It’s you and me.” It was like a list in his head, only mixed up and tangled in what ifs and wistful thinking.

“It’s just a kiss. I don’t think the big guy is going to make an appearance just from that,” Tony arched an eyebrow. “Plus, we’re friends, and we both know it’s not a dream.”

“And what happens after a kiss?” Bruce asked.

Tony grinned, then cleared his throat and forced the smile to recede. “What do you want to happen?”

Bruce should have known Tony wouldn’t shove him out of his room and call him a creep. For all he knew, Tony had done this before – only not with Bruce, and that made a huge difference to any other man who had ever been in his bed. And even if there had been men, what did Tony do with them? Bruce had a very clear idea of what he wanted to do.

“Just a kiss,” Tony tried again. “Then you can go to the bathroom and take care of your hard-on, after which we can go and have breakfast and talk this through.”

“You always talk things through with your night guests?” Bruce asked.

“None of them are you. I never wanted to keep them around. You, however, are going to be around and…” He fell silent, as if just realizing all the implications of this. Bruce opened his mouth to agree but Tony shook his head. “No. A kiss won’t be a problem so don’t try to weasel out of it.”

“I’m not, because we’re not going to kiss and I really should go.”

But maybe he wanted the kiss because when Tony leaned over and framed his face with his hands, he didn’t back away or panic. He was perfectly calm and savored the pressure of another person’s lips against his own. Tony didn’t go deeper which probably showed a lot of restraint on his part, and he even pulled back after a few long seconds. “How was that?” he asked then, voice low. “Better than the dream?”

“We never kissed in any of the dreams,” Bruce replied.

Tony blinked at him slowly then smiled. “I tell you, it would be better.”

“I’ll have to take your word for it.”

His body was surprisingly calm in the aftermath, even the hardness between his legs. He didn’t tell Tony in case the man would take offense.

“Breakfast in half an hour,” Tony told him when Bruce left the bedroom.

The shower he took was long and cool. He managed not to finish off his morning wood, leaving himself a bit tense but it couldn’t be helped. He remembered Tony’s lips, though, and the way he looked right after, savoring it, too.

Something more to add to his dreams…

- - -

“J?”

“Yes, sir?”

“What did you make of that?”

Tony was lying back on the bed, the pillow smelling a little of them both. He still had twenty minutes to get himself up and into the kitchen if he judged Bruce’s need to shower correctly.

“It seems complicated. Dr. Banner’s vitals suggest a great amount of nervousness and apprehension towards the situation.”

“How about before he woke up?”

“When he was dreaming?”

“Mmm…”

“He seemed fairly relaxed. Just like the moment you kissed him, sir.”

Tony opened his eyes. “Well… that’s something.” He had noticed it but wasn’t sure. Perhaps Bruce had just gone kind of limp in order to not stir the other guy. Or maybe he had actually liked it.

“Shall I start the coffee?”

“Yeah,” Tony replied and rolled off the bed, throwing the fallen sheets back on it and moving towards the shower.

“Are you planning on following this through?” J.A.R.V.I.S. asked while he was under the spray.

“Is there a reason why you’re interested?”

“He is the first person who has been in your bed since Miss Potts left.”

Tony froze. “He just needed some company after a nightmare.”

“Yes, I am certain that was it, sir.”

“Don’t get cocky on me.”

“I wouldn’t dream of it.”

Tony leaned against the tiles and looked at the small droplets of water raining down from above. Some of them flew at his eyes but he blinked them away absently. There was only so much time for him to decide what to do about this before he would join Bruce for breakfast. Sure, he could just let it be – which was probably something the other man expected to happen – but Tony didn’t leave things half-way.

“If I may make an observation?” J.A.R.V.I.S. spoke up again.

“Shoot.”

“You haven’t slept for so many continuous hours since Miss Potts’ absence as you did last night, not counting the time you spent in the hospital healing from your injuries.”

“Gotta get my beauty sleep some time,” Tony noted.

“Dr. Banner seems to have a good effect on you, at and outside work.”

“Your point being, Romeo?”

“You should pursue this, sir.”

Tony wondered if J.A.R.V.I.S. had been taking lessons from too many romantic reality TV shows.

“My main objective is your wellbeing, sir,” the AI went on.

“One good night of sleep doesn’t guarantee a relationship,” he only half-joked.

“Certainly not, but seeing as your usual style of losing sleep with your romantic companions hasn’t proven itself functional, perhaps this approach will work better.”

That was certainly something to think about while eating breakfast.





to be continued…



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