As the dust cleared after yet another alien invasion (seriously, didn’t they have another better to do with their time than get their asses handed to them by the Avengers?), Tony looked at his exhausted teammates and realized he had no idea where the Hulk had gone.
“Uh, guys? Anyone see where Oscar the Grouch went?” From the way everyone’s faces paled, Tony guessed they had no idea either.
“Shit,” Clint swore. He was peculiarly fond of the big guy (and vice versa, And no, Tony wasn’t jealous, of course not. There was only one green-eyed monster on this team, and it definitely wasn’t him, okay?) “He was just here. He couldn’t have gotten far.”
“Let’s split up then. Tony, you search from above. Clint, you and Natasha head north. Thor, you’re with me.” Captain ordered, taking charge as usual. And as much as it chafed Tony to be taking orders from Princess Aurora, he was pretty worried about the trouble the Hulk could get up to by himself, so he took off without protest.
Tony scoured the streets of Brooklyn, straining for that telltale glimpse of green. “JARVIS, can you trace Banner’s gamma signature?”
“One moment, sir. Calibrating sensors.”
Tony tried not to think of what could befall his huge green companion if the Avengers didn’t find him quickly. Post-battle, the Hulk’s destructive tendencies were mostly sated, but the local law enforcement (not to mention the Navy Seals they’d called in to help) didn’t know that. This could be the public slip up that Bruce had been fearing for so long.
Oh god, Bruce.
“JARVIS, the signature!” he barked.
“I’m sorry sir, but the sensors are untested, and they are proving problematic in locking onto-“ JARVIS was interrupted by a new voice.
“Hey, Hawkeye here. We found him.”
Rogers’ voice came next. “Does he need to be tranquilized?” Tony recognized the worry underneath Cap’s “perfect soldier” voice and resolved to cut him a little slack next time. Maybe.
“Nah.” Clint sounded oddly amused for the situation, Tony noted suspiciously. “In fact, I think you’re going to want to check this out.”
“Trust me, you’re definitely not going to want to miss this,” Romanoff added wryly. Was that the Hulk… laughing in the background?
She gave them the address of where they were (the complete opposite direction Tony had gone in, of course).
He spots the Hulk first, and swoops in to land next to Barton and Romanoff.
“Isn’t it fucking adorable?” Barton asks, a (more than) slightly manic grin on his face.
It… was, actually. Really fucking adorable, even. The Hulk had settled next to the ruins of what looked like a party supply store, and someone (the owner?) had set up roughly a dozen bubble machines. He was having the time of his life, snapping at the bubbles with his mouth, poking at them with his enormous fingers, and laughing like a child.
“You little sneak,” Tony scolded, grinning. “You had us all going with the tough guy act, but you’re actually just an overgrown puppy, aren’t you?”
“HULK SMASH!” the big guy shouted, bringing two massive hands together in a thunderous clap, popping tens of bubbles at once. He laughed again.
“What the hell?” Rogers had arrived, it seemed.
“What a wondrous device!” Oh, and there was Thor. He peered at the spectacle, seemingly more impressed with the bubble machines than the fact that the Hulk was playing with bubbles. Next to Tony, Barton was nearly falling over with laughter. Natasha was- was she recording this on her phone? Good call.
“Very well, sir.” JARVIS responded, sounded very world-weary.
“He reminds me of a dog I once had,” Steve mused, looking fond and bewildered.
“Let me guess, a golden retriever?” Tony asked sarcastically.
Steve rolled his eyes and turned his attention back to the giant teddy bear masquerading as The Incredible Hulk. “It’s nice to see him happy.”
“Yeah.” Tony turned back to the Jolly Green Giant too. “Oh, jesus,” He muttered. Thor had apparently decided to join the Hulk on his “quest” and was now joyfully swinging around Mjölnir at the bubbles. The Hulk laughed even harder and clapped his hands in appreciation. It was kind of unbearably cute.
“Banner’s never going to live this down, is he?” Steve sighed, probably seeing the look on Tony’s face.
Tony just smirked.