Hank’s normal approach didn’t work here. Because when it came down to it, there was nothing logical or rational about his decision making process. When it came to this, there was no reliance on the scientific method, no consideration of other variables. It was unexplainable. Hank hated that. He promised himself that this time, he wouldn’t give in. Hank had better things to do with his time than that and he was strong enough to resist. Hank knew that he was. And yet, somehow knowing it wasn’t enough. Because once it was late in the evening, Hank left his reports behind, and slinked out of his room in the mansion. And found himself heading for Tony’s.
Of course, Tony was awake. Smug bastard had probably been expecting him. It wasn’t that Hank hated Tony, because he didn’t. Disagreed with what he used to stand for, sure. Disgusted by a seemingly callous disregard for his fellow man, most definitely. But there was something to be said for the fact that Tony did appear to be trying. There was something to be admired for the fact that Tony was changing himself. Hank knew it couldn’t be easy. But while he didn’t hate him, while he did respect him, he also couldn’t actually say he liked him either.
There was a gulf there, that Hank couldn’t quite breach. Tony had the potential and all the makings of a decent person. And when he tried he could be remarkably intuitive about the needs of others and even go so far as to build up that point. Tony didn’t try as hard as he ought to sometimes, which was where Hank supposed that things broke down.
He didn’t like Tony. He didn’t hate Tony. But he definitely wasn’t indifferent to the man. Hank closed his eyes and bowed his head. And calloused, warm fingers were on the back of his neck. And it felt like absolution and Hank couldn’t figure out why.
“We can’t do this.” Hank protested. Like he had last night. And the night before. Like he probably would the next night. And repeat, ad nauseum. Tony smiled at him anyways, hand squeezing against his neck, flesh dimpling beneath the firm press.
“You said that last night.” Tony’s tone was smug and Hank... well, he wanted to protest. Instead he just felt something like resignation. Hank kept his eyes closed and head bowed. Tony’s hand didn’t move.
“I know.” Hank replied after a moment. Then he finally looked up and met Tony’s eyes. He’s not sure what this is, he isn’t sure there is even a name for it. It might have been friends with benefits, except they weren’t friends. They weren’t close enough to be lovers. There was no commitment, not even this, if Hank could make himself stay away.
Tony kept his gaze steady and Hank closed the gap between them and pressed a kiss to Tony’s lips. He wasn't in love, but it didn't feel right without a kiss. Tony didn't kiss him back, but he didn't pull away either. This wasn't new. Hank wasn't sure how he felt about it. Sometimes it felt wrong--other times, he thought of it as a matter of course. Sometimes, he just thought it was Tony Stark being Tony Stark, not knowing how to respond to other human beings.
Hank wanted to tell him he should kiss him back, but he couldn't find the words. This wasn’t something that Hank understands. But Hank didn't question it either, just accepted it as fact, like gravity, or the moon’s pull on the tides.
They never made it to the bed. Hank never stayed the night.
When he returned to his own room, Hank felt something like regret. Hank promised himself he wouldn’t do it again. He made the same promise to himself again.
He intended on keeping it this time. It was easy, in the hours afterwards. Hank could only hope that his resolve didn’t falter when the next night came.