Bruce finds out Coulson is dead after the world doesn't end. Dozens dead, hundreds more injured. One man shouldn't matter. "Just calm down," Tony says, leaning close. "I mean it was fun and all, good show, will watch again. But maybe not today."
"I'm fine," Bruce says. And for the most part he is. Grief is a strange, delicate thing. More difficult than anger, which is easy enough. He has that in spades, with plenty to spare. "I'll be fine," he says again.
Tony says, "I have a jet, Bruce. Where do you want to go?"
"Weren't you there the last time I was in something that flew?"
"It's fine, we'll be too busy having sex for anything bad to happen."
"Wait, what?" Bruce says.
Tony gives Bruce a handjob, right there in the car. Bruce tilts his head back because he's not done this in a while, he's not done this ever since. Wait, he wants to say. Shouldn't you be more careful, you've seen what happens and this is a really nice car, after all. He also wants to say: Slow down, you need both hands to drive, what if someone glances over.
He says none of those things.
And nothing happens except that at some point he comes, and it's nice, it's pleasant. If messy. "I don't do clean-ups," Tony says unsympathetically, and hands him a tissue from the glove compartment. "The reciprocation can come when we're in the air. I can wait. Paris?"
"Calcutta," Bruce says, after managing to successfully wipe himself off. "I would like to go home."
"Eh." Tony makes a face. "We'll compromise. LA's nice this time of the year."
"How's that a compromise?"
"Lots of Asians?"
Bruce laughs. They've just saved the world. It should probably count for something.
In the air, Bruce says, "What if I lose control."
"Your anger management issues are no excuse not to be polite," Tony replies, pragmatically enough.
Bruce can't really argue with that, and again, he's not done this in a while. Remembers, faintly, he enjoys it. Jury's still out on Tony, but there are worse options. "Turn the plane to India first."
"You can't renegotiate the terms." Tony narrows his eyes.
Bruce shrugs. "Worth a try," he says and gets on his knees. Tony manages to look surprised, which makes Bruce smile.
Turns out LA is just a pit stop for sushi and a meeting which Bruce isn't invited to, which is fine except Tony comes out of it annoyed and then says, "We'll go back to Manhattan. After lunch. There's this place."
"I told you already the big guy doesn't like sushi."
"Convenient," Tony replies, but there's no smile on his face.
Bruce shrugs. "It's fine."
Over lunch, Tony laces his fingers together and says, "Power balances shift. The people in charge now may not be in charge tomorrow. So you should stay for a while. I have a mass spectrometer and a fully equipped lab that comes along with it. I can protect you."
"You've seen him, right? He's not a - he never goes away."
"I'll build him a cage. A nice one. He likes me. Everyone likes me."
"You're a terrible liar."
"No it's true. People just don't know how fond they are of me."
Tony is very persuasive. He says things and they make utter sense even though they're nonsense. It's annoying. Not enough for Bruce to get angry over. Angrier.
He tells Tony, "The other guy doesn't always agree with my actions."
In Calcutta Bruce had locked him up tight. Learned how to meditate. Clean living among the dirt and the dying.
But he's out now, and Bruce gets the impression this particular genie doesn't want to go back into its bottle. Not only that: he's useful. Defending the earth and all that.
"I like you," Tony says.
"S.H.I.E.L.D. says I'm volatile. Self-obsessed. An asshole, basically."
"And are you?"
"Yes." He leans over and kisses Bruce on the lips. In full view of everyone, which is the waiter and the maître d'. Tony cleared out the restaurant. There might be cameras outside if someone catches on they're here. Screaming people. Just smile, keep your head down. The man next to you is not Tony Stark, he just looks like him.
What's a superhero without any fans?
Bruce is used to keeping his head down, but nothing even remotely like this.
"You'll stop looking over your shoulder constantly after a while," Tony says.
"Until the world changes, once again."
Tony raises his glass of water, his grin flat. "Until then."
Tony gives a blowjob like he's a) done it many times before and b) is intent on proving that it will be the best blowjob of Bruce's life.
Considering Bruce's sexual history, which he will describe as sporadic as best even before the mess that is his life right now, it might well be. Not that he tells Tony that. Instead Bruce buries his fingers into his hair and drags his head back, comes on his face.
Tony looks: not inconvenienced exactly. Amused. He laughs, in the end, and swipes at his cheek with the back of his hand.
Tony doesn't sleep. Or perhaps he does, when Bruce himself is sleeping, or when no-one is looking. Or when Manhattan doesn't need re-construction after an alien attack.
Bruce wakes up in the middle of the night, and Tony's sitting somewhere, glass of juice in his hand and an array of holograms surrounding him, talking quietly to Jarvis. Bruce assumed earlier on that it would be rather like talking to oneself, but he was soon disabused of that notion: Jarvis is not at all like Tony. For one thing, if Jarvis had a body that required sleep, it would probably have a regular rest cycle. Tony runs on: brilliance, hot air, and the blinding light of a collapsing star trapped in his chest. "I know you're awake," Tony says now.
"No, I'm not. It's three am. Everyone sane is asleep."
"Clearly sanity's left both of us behind a while ago."
This might well be true. Bruce yawns, and drifts back to sleep.
Fury calls at some point, suspicious and probing. "What are you doing with Banner, Stark."
"Right now, nothing? Earlier there was fellatio though. That was fun. Bruce is still in bed. Wave, Bruce."
Bruce waves. It's instinct at this point, he knows when Tony's about to do something embarrassing just to do it. At least he's got a sheet wrapped around his waist, or. Guess it must have fallen down during the night then.
"Is this safe? I don't even - I need to erase the last five seconds of my life." Fury pauses. "What else are you doing?"
"You went there, wow. Didn't think you would."
The screen goes blank.
"We should," Tony says thoughtfully, "Be up to no good."
Bruce says, "Perhaps tomorrow."