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afterparty (aftermath)

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Tony's kissing everyone tonight, or at least everyone who'll let him. Surprisingly, this includes Natasha (who puts her hand on Tony's throat and backs him against the wall, but keeps the kiss going) and Thor (who picks Tony up and twirls him around, laughing), but not Clint (who ducks away, grinning, and flees to higher ground) or Pepper (who places two fingers against Tony's lips when he tries and whispers something in Tony's ear that makes Tony shiver, before she turns him around and smacks his ass). It's just a thing Tony does, the way he knows how to interact with people, a challenge to keep his mind busy. The team these days is, generally, kind of . . . affectionate. With each other. Like that. Bruce tries not to watch the way Tony's mouth moves eagerly against Natasha's, the way he laughs against Thor's lips, just like he tries not to pay attention to who comes out of whose bedroom wearing whose shirts in the mornings.

Bruce is standing off in a corner with a drink in his hand - his third - and wondering why he doesn't just go to bed. Tony tends to throw these parties every time they defeat yet another giant snake or whatever, and Bruce is almost always too tired to stay, too worn out by the transformation and the fear that comes with it. His adrenaline crash is kind of epic.

When Tony finishes his absurdly slow wet peck-on-the-lips with Steve and comes up to him, Bruce holds out a hand, giving his best wry smile. "I don't need my tonsils cleaned, thanks."

Tony grabs Bruce's arm, a little tipsy, and half-collapses so that they both sit down hard on the little steps down into the sunken living room. Bruce lands with his hip pressed up against Tony's, with Tony's fingers still tight around his arm.

"Why so sad, wallflower?" Tony asks, and it's teasing, but there's something dark behind it, too.

Bruce rolls his eyes. "I'm just tired. You put on and then lose 900 pounds in a day and see how you feel."

Tony scowls. "Ugh, I hate how you break the law of conservation of mass. Like, don't even talk to me about it. I'm so freaked out just thinking about it."

"I know what you mean," Bruce sighs.

Tony lets go of Bruce's wrist and slides his arm around Bruce's shoulders, holding him tight for a second and then loosening his grip, like a sideways one-armed hug. "Don't worry, we'll figure it out," Tony says. "It'll just lead us to a new understanding of matter and energy, that's all."

Bruce wordlessly holds up his glass, which Tony clinks with his own, and they both drink. Tony's arm is still around Bruce's shoulders, a warm steady weight.

"It's not just the physical transformation, though, is it." His tone is casual, like they're discussing the weather or the latest alien attack on New York City, not Bruce's bizarre destructive illness slash superpower.

"Nope," Bruce agrees. He thinks about elaborating, but there are so many other things he could say, and each of them makes him feel just a little like there's a weight on his chest, big and green, keeping him from taking a breath.

"Losing control, becoming yourself but not yourself anymore. I think I'd want to be unconscious afterwards too." He takes a long pointed sip of his drink, and Bruce takes the hint and does the same. "There are . . . other ways to lose yourself, though," he says, this last in something more like his usual arch tone.

"I'm sure you've tried them all." Bruce smiles at him, and is rewarded with a long, serious, appraising look.

"I have," is all Tony says, but he maintains eye contact.

Bruce leans in and presses his mouth to Tony's, letting himself stay soft and yielding and everything he's not when he's huge and green. Tony kisses back slowly, almost thoughtfully, his tongue licking in easy unhurried little touches against Bruce's lips. Bruce pulls back an inch and then moves in again, another slow soft kiss, and then another, a whole series, broken by brief pauses for breath, for the moment when Tony cups Bruce's face in his palm before tilting his head to meet Bruce's mouth again.

With their faces still close together, Tony grins and says, "Now I just need Clint for the whole set." Bruce smacks him in the chest. Tony bounces to his feet only somewhat unsteadily, then offers Bruce his hand. Bruce takes it and lets Tony pull him to his feet.

"Seriously, come by later. We should talk." And since they're already at Tony's home and Bruce already lives two floors away, what Tony really means is come by my bedroom, we can fuck. Bruce nods, considering.

"Maybe I will," he says.