So strange. And. Yeah, Bruce can’t quite get his head around it yet. Something actually affected the Hulk, scared him, scared him so badly he hid inside, so deep and dark inside their head that Bruce can hardly feel his usual presence. God, the strangeness of it all. He’d almost become used to being invulnerable, invincible.
Should’ve known that was asking for it, Banner.
The quinjet is so quiet. His teammates shaken, battered. He’s. He’s not quite here with them. No-one is quite here, he thinks. Steve is staring straight at Natasha’s face, but Bruce doesn’t think he actually sees her. He’s just looking through her. Like a mirror. Like glass.
She almost shattered.
Tony has taken off the battered armour, and is gripping a gauntlet so tightly that his knuckles are white stripes, the tendons ropy and clearly visible over the bones. His normal wit is gone. The pale blue light from his chest is clear and unwavering, and Bruce can’t stop staring at it. Can’t. It nearly. It. Tony nearly.
It’s amazing. So strange. That a man who so carefully and meticulously avoided becoming entangled, becoming involved (“You’re in the wind,” Fury had said, and oh, what an irony that turned out to be)...
These people, though.
Clint is holding onto Natasha as though she is the only stable thing in a freewheeling universe. But now, of course, they all know that’s a lie. Her flawless face is scraped, red lines and gashes, and an ugly bruise is forming over her brow. Clint sits on the floor of the quinjet and only holds her foot, just one foot, and only lightly. His rough, bloody hand is placed over her boot like a drifting leaf searching for stability. She is motionless, like a doll. Like a puppet.
The other guy, so far down in the dark, whimpers.
They are so hard to look at – god, the ache of it. Bruce can’t stop, though. He has to. Has to know they’re here. He’ll look, and look again, no matter how much it hurts to see their blankness, their hurt. None of them are any good at expressing this. This. Whatever this is. Bruce least of all, Bruce with a gag made of his own rage, Bruce with a volcano inside him. The others might not match his level of ability, but they’ve got talent at holding it in, pushing it back, denying. Bruce looks and looks, and recognises it, and it hurts to recognise it, the repression that is his air and his food and his water in the faces of these people. They sit in their own small worlds of remembered pain and shiver, just like the other guy shivers, hiding behind his condemned memories and worst fears. So. So they sit, blank and hurt, and raw, raw, raw, and it aches.
But Thor. No. Thor doesn’t live his life like that.
He isn’t a shiny, witty, glossy surface and a penance and a wound inside, like Tony. He isn’t war and loss emblazoned across a flag, like Steve. He isn’t a furnace of despair and rage inside an incomplete shell, like Bruce. He isn’t smart words and smart moves that hide a desperate need, like Clint. He never lost himself in a maze of whispers and death and cold promises like Natasha. No. Thor blazes, Thor burns, and always has. Thor is redemption and nobility and arrogance and a black hole where his brother was. And he lives on the extreme outside of his skin.
And now Bruce knows it - knows them - more than ever. They got under his skin, and he got under theirs. And now he knows it.
The others are lost in their remembered worlds, repressing like talented amateurs, and it’s painful to watch. Bruce is no great actor, but he has eaten repression for so long now that it’s effortless; no-one can see how galling it tastes to him. These people, though. They can’t hide it from him, not him. He’s a professional.
But Thor’s heart is as open as a child’s, and like a child, he lives in the present, not in his own past. It doesn’t hurt quite so much to look at Thor, and see him actually looking back. His eyes are full of tears and rage, and Bruce knows that feeling too, oh, how he knows it.
They pile out at the Tower. Fuck the debriefing, fuck Fury. They’re too raw. This one stripped them of everything, skinned them until there was nothing left but soup bones and meat. Bruce doesn’t have a shirt, and he’s freezing in the wind as they cross the landing pad to the elevator. So cold. The trousers he was wearing are completely destroyed, stretched as always, only just this side of indecent, and he has to hold them up with one hand to stop himself from committing yet another crime. His hand is shaking.
Clint is limping.
So strange, to see Clint limp.
(Bruce now knows that Clint would rather cut out his tongue than betray a weakness to an enemy.)
They follow Tony into the Tower like ducklings, dazed and drained. Bruce looks and looks, and the knowledge of them, of their lives, is burned into his brain. No doubt his is burned into theirs.
Tony heads straight for the bar and picks up a decanter. He picks up a glass briefly, hefting it, before turning and throwing it against the corner of the wall.
(Tony can’t bear to have anyone know that he cares so much, so, so much. He was wearing armour long before he built it.)
Bruce sinks down into Tony’s soft couch and puts his head into his hands. They know, too. They all know about him, now. What he is. How.
He wonders how much of their individual private worlds are dedicated to despising him.
“Friend Stark,” Thor says, soft and stern.
(Thor wants to protect everything and everyone. Thor wants to save the world. Thor’s enormous heart is all-encompassing and breakable as porcelain. It shatters every time he loses something – to death, to darkness, to doubt.)
“Hey, it’s my glass,” Tony says, with a brittle little smile. “Go smash your own.”
Natasha walks like a ghost, her eyes still unfocused. Clint limps beside her, directing her to the sinfully soft carpet, where he tugs her down. He has to stop. Actual pain in his eyes.
“Here,” Bruce hears himself say, “let me take a look at that.”
Clint turns his face away. “No, it’s cool, Doc.” He shrugs one shoulder, and lowers himself down gingerly. Beside him, Natasha sinks like a stone. Blood still covers his hands. “It’s fine.”
(Clint smirks and snarks and pushes people away even as inside he screams, “please don’t leave, please, please don’t leave me as well.”)
“Clint,” Bruce hears himself say. “Please.”
“Oh, for fuck’s sake, let him look,” Tony snaps, and swigs from the decanter.
“You got any of that for us?” Clint says, and his hand alights on Natasha’s bruised forehead. She doesn’t move, eyes staring at the ceiling.
Steve just stands, lost, so lost. He’s so lost here, in this place. In this time. And now Bruce knows it. They all do.
(Steve tries. Steve has always tried. That’s what Steve does.)
Bruce watches himself drift over to Clint, and he kneels down beside him. Blood is matting the leg of Clint’s uniform. “I have to cut this away,” he says.
Abruptly there is a knife in front of him. Bruce takes it carefully, and Natasha’s hand sinks slowly down, a feather in water. Her eyes haven’t even moved from the ceiling.
Cutting away the wet fabric, Bruce looks at the skin, the gash. “I need the first-aid kit,” he says to the air. He knows how Clint must be feeling, right now. The shame, the uselessness, the horror of the past repeating itself. Loki played with his brain, and now it happens all over again. And all of them know how it feels.
(Natasha was created that way, cut open, malleable, her self written over like some hard disk, programmed by cruel and calculating minds. Natasha hides, Natasha pretends, Natasha is a perfect chameleon who slunk into the shadows and never came out. Natasha created a self she could be, and now it is exposed.)
There is a first-aid emergency medi-unit in the cupboard, Doctor Banner.
“Thanks, JARVIS,” Bruce says absently, and lays a hand on Clint’s to comfort him. Clint’s fingers are stone under his.
“Here,” Steve says, and hands him gauze, tape, needle, thread. Bruce works in a haze, sterilising and stitching.
Tony drinks and drinks, his eyes haunted.
Bruce finishes, and then stares stupidly at his work. Neat stitches, Clint’s flesh. “You know what to do now,” he mumbles. Clint takes the bottle Tony hands him.
“You bet I do,” he says viciously, and upends it into his mouth, swigging half the thing in a few seconds.
“Clint,” Thor says (implores). “Please, my friend...”
“Look at her,” Clint says, sharp and harsh. “Look what they did.”
Natasha is so still. She moved to hand him the knife, Bruce thinks, and then he hates himself for it. Of course she did. That was built into her long before she knew who she was.
“Natasha,” he says, soft. “Natasha, come back.”
“Leave her alone!” Clint hisses, and awkwardly (hand full of bottle, leg unwieldy, painkillers dulling his reactions) lunges at Bruce. “Just... leave her the fuck alone!”
“No, just,” says a voice. Bruce thinks it might be his.
“Clint, just give him a chance” says Steve, and they all know he is really saying another name, speaking to someone else. Another year, another age.
“Natasha,” Bruce says, and in a dream he watches himself take her hand and press it to his face. Her palm is cold and marble-smooth against his rough jaw. “Natasha, you’re not there. You’re not her anymore. You’re Natasha. You like to play Tchaikovsky’s ballets when you work out, and you know all the words to every Queen song ever written. You make perfect cherry tarts, and you hate people who interrupt. You know me. You can feel me. You’re not her. You’re not there. Natasha, come back,” he says, and drops a kiss onto her perfect fingers.
Steve’s short intake of breath is very loud in the silence.
“Natasha,” Bruce says again, and drops his head onto his chest. Her hand is unresponsive in his.
Then it grips his.
“Bruce,” she says, like someone speaking from the end of a long tunnel. “You’re Bruce. You hate yourself.”
Bruce’s heart stops, and then it snaps. What’s the point in denying it? They all know, now. “Yes, that’s me,” he whispers, and kisses her hand again. “Please come back.”
“You shouldn’t,” she says, and her eyes blink, once, twice. “You mustn’t.”
“Natasha,” Clint breathes, and then he looks at Bruce like he resurrected her, like he set the stars in motion. “You...”
And Clint lunges across the prone body of their teammate, grabs Bruce’s face and covers his mouth with his.
Bruce is cold, so cold. But Clint – Clint is stone, and stone remembers fire. Bruce almost cries out in surprise, and then Clint’s mouth is moving on his, stone on ice, and somehow they make something warm.
Clint tastes like the alcohol he was drinking, and like blood, and sweat, and anger. Clint’s lips are thin and Bruce’s are full, but they meet and match anyway. Clint’s face rasps against Bruce’s (he’s never kissed a man, and it’s weird to feel stubble rasp against stubble), and he threads one hand into Bruce’s curls and tugs. “You,” Clint says, and Bruce finally unfreezes, melts a little. He lets Clint kiss him, following the archer’s lead easily. He touches Bruce’s face with callused fingers. He touches Bruce like he is precious and not a misshapen abortion of science – like he is breakable, instead of the most indestructible thing in the world.
“Aye,” whispers Thor. “Aye.”
“You’ve got to stop,” Natasha says, her eyes blinking, focusing. Her hand shakily strokes his knee. Clint’s mouth doesn’t cease roving over Bruce’s, and the silence is warm too, now. Comforting. “Bruce. You’re such a good man. Please stop hating yourself.”
And. Yeah, a comforting silence now, warm and welcoming, a silence that lets them all share. They all know, now. And of course that’s terrifying. He never wanted them to know – never wanted anyone to know - what it was like to be him, what he lived, one monster ruling his childhood, another monster ruling his adulthood. No-one else should have to feel that dark current, the never-ending rage, the monstrous wrath he carries in his head - or the crippling guilt and shame that weighs him down. No-one else should have to know what it’s like becoming Hulk, loving it, hating it, hating Hulk and hating himself and hating the fractured Hulk-and-Bruce pieces that together make a whole – but now they do. Perhaps that’s a good thing, having people who know, really know him. They’ve been inside his head, and he’s been inside theirs. And there’s a certain freedom in that too.
“Such a good man,” Natasha says, and oh, Clint can kiss. Bruce is almost lost in it, the slow soft parting of lips that gradually turn from stone to something else. Natasha is smiling, he can hear it in her voice. “God knows how your life hasn’t ruined you, Bruce...”
“Thank you,” Clint says against his lips, and Bruce can only attempt a smile. He’s sure it comes out strangled, half-choked, all mashed against Clint’s mouth.
“My friends,” Thor says, and tears stand in those unnaturally blue eyes. So alien. His whole life, so alien to them. “”Oh, you are so human, my friends, so very human....”
Clint is stone, but behind him is the warm blood and electricity of Thor, and Thor’s hand rests on Bruce’s shoulder now. He gently tugs Bruce away from Clint, and pushes a hand over his curls, riotous no doubt, a tangled mess that takes forever to tame. “They speak truly,” says the god, “you are a good man.”
Thor kisses him.
Natasha struggles up, and immediately clings to Clint, her mouth opening under his. Clint kisses her like he is searching for answers, faded blue eyes closing and squeezing tight against tears. “Tasha,” he says. “Oh, Tasha, I thought you’d gone, you were gone, gone all over again...”
“Shut up,” she says, all business, all Natasha. She isn’t fooling anyone. Her hands still quiver as they touch Hawkeye’s hollow cheeks delicately, tenderly. The fingertips brush him as though he might disappear. “Stop right there, Clint. I’m here, no-one’s leaving you again. I’m here.”
Clint bites off the anguished noise that is climbing up his throat, and kisses her again.
Thor doesn’t kiss like Clint, thinks Bruce dazedly. If Clint is desperation, then Thor is dominance. He masters Bruce’s mouth, like a prince, like a king. “Thor,” he mumbles, and cannot believe this is happening. They know, they all know. “You can’t... but I’m...”
“You are needed,” Thor says gently, and kisses him again. Bruce muffles a cry – a cry that feels almost thirty years old. “You are wanted,” Thor says, and kisses again. “You have a place. You are no monster. Doctor, you are a good man.”
The exhalation is quiet and fervent, and Bruce peers over Thor’s huge shoulder to see Tony gripping the neck of his decanter and staring at the group on the carpet with huge wide eyes. Steve, standing to one side, is equally stunned, and gradually turning red. “Jesus,” Tony says when he sees Bruce’s eyes on him. “You guys look like a wet dream. Please, if there is any justice in the world, JARVIS is getting this in glorious HD.”
“You are not...” begins Clint hotly.
Tony smirks. “Glorious, glorious HD.”
Actually, Sir, I gathered that events of a rather personal nature were occurring, and I surmised that many of your teammates would not be pleased to find that they had been recorded. All visual devices have currently been deactivated, and audio is restricted to name-recognition only.
“Your A.I. has better manners than you,” says Steve.
“JARVIS, you traitor,” Tony mutters.
Yes, insulting me will make it better, Sir.
“It’s not too late to reprogram you,” Tony threatens. They all know it’s a hollow threat. They all know that Tony builds friends so that he won’t feel the lack.
“Shut up,” Natasha says sternly. Her hands have almost stopped shaking.
“And get over here,” Bruce says, his heart pounding in his chest hard enough to shake his ribs loose.
Tony pauses. The slight hesitation would have been completely unnoticeable to anyone who didn’t know it was there. Then he grins and almost stumbles on his way over, and crashes into all four of them, his limbs coltish and eager, hands needy as they reach for someone, anyone. Tony needs, always needs. Tony craves and reaches, Bruce now knows. It’s the only way to prove that he’s worth something. It’s the only way to remind himself that he isn’t dead.
“You idiot,” Natasha says, and then she smooths his hair back. It’s sticking everywhere, thinned out with sweat. Such a surprising gesture from Natasha – almost motherly. Definitely affectionate. Loving. Then she leans her scratched forehead against his. “Tony. Oh Tony, I’m sorry.”
He pulls back, and looks at her with suspicious eyes. “You said the what which now?”
She smiles, her eyes sad. “You’re good enough. You were always good enough. I’m sorry I ever said otherwise.”
Tony gapes for a moment, and Clint laughs at his expression silently, heavy shoulders shaking. “I...” he starts, and then pulls himself together with a pathetic attempt at his usual jaunty head-toss. “I knew that. I mean, of course I am...”
Natasha just rolls her eyes. “Somehow I’m not as sorry for sedating you, though.”
Tony scowls, and she grins. Actually grins at him, before launching herself, sinuous as a ribbon, over him. Her legs wrap around his waist, and she catches his ear in her teeth, and he sucks in a breath. Thor chuckles, watching with bright eyes. “Okay,” Tony says in a much more interested voice, “okay, this is good, oh wow, yeah, I can work with this...”
“Does Pepper work with this?” Bruce wonders, and Tony smirks – and it is close to his usual smirk, a ridiculously beautiful redhead tonguing his ear.
“I have a note,” he says smugly. “I’m allowed.”
“You need to be quieter,” says Natasha, and she plunges her tongue into his mouth. Natasha kisses like a challenge, and Tony kisses like a question, and Bruce can feel his heartbeat pulsing in his neck and in his chest but he isn’t afraid because they know. They look beautiful together, impossibly beautiful. Thor smooths his hand over Bruce’s hair again, and Clint leans up to kiss the god. Stone struck by lightning. Bruce leans back to watch, and oh, beautiful, that’s beautiful too.
“We’re missing one,” whispers Clint against Thor, and Bruce looks up at where Steve is sad and awkward and red as red as red.
“Cap?” says Tony, and his eyes are dancing as his hands move to clasp Natasha close, curving around her, sensuous and clever and practiced. “C’mon, ear nibbles all round?”
And no, Bruce isn’t ice, that isn’t right. Bruce is the bottom of the ocean, deep and dark and huge and full of mysterious pressures. Steve is ice, locked up and rigid, unable to thaw, unable to move, tossed into the currents and melting slowly under too-bright skies. Steve hears music in his dreams, and fights his sadness, and drifts through his days. Steve still wears a stranger’s body, Steve draws people and places that disappeared along with everyone’s parents and grandparents, Steve hates the new money and the new music and the new buildings because it all reminds him of what it used to be. Steve believes in good but never saw too much of it. Steve’s so young, and Steve’s so old.
Thor stands, giving Bruce’s shoulder one last squeeze, and beckons to their Captain. “Come,” he says.
Steve looks down at them, hesitation all over his face, and they all know, they all know. Half-remembered revulsion, half-curious longing. A dark head of hair, and a cheeky grin, and a long fall with a sudden stop.
Bruce can’t help but blurt, “Steve. We all know. You know all of us. It’s okay. It’s just us.”
Steve meets Bruce’s eyes, and between them passes those thoughts, those terrible thoughts. The ones that Bruce has thought: A mistake, a mockery, a badly-made forgery, a laughing-stock compared to this, this pinnacle of human perfection, you fool, Banner, you arrogant fool... And Steve – feeling so stupid, all the time, feeling like an imbecile, an ape, a dancing monkey next to this, this titanic mind, a babbling fountain of brain, a supergenius, a prodigy.
Steve knows. Bruce knows.
Steve takes Bruce’s hand, long strong fingers stroking the inside of his wrist. “You’re not,” Steve whispers.
“And you’re not,” Bruce echoes, and then Steve’s strength is hauling Bruce up from the carpet. Steve is so tentative, so cautious. Shy as he flicks his eyes to Bruce’s mouth, and then up to Bruce’s eyes for permission.
And. Well. Sweet, but still. Fuck that noise. If Bruce is the ocean and Steve is the ice, then they were always going to touch.
Bruce threads the fingers of his other hand though Steve’s, and raises his chin. Waiting.
Steve doesn’t kiss him, not at first. Warm, huge hands, the solidity of muscle against him, and oh, the comfort of it, the warm reality of thick arms and Steve’s enveloping steady presence. Steve hugs him, tight. Bruce’s back complains, and deep inside the other guy grumbles. Bruce tenses. “Shhh,” Steve says, and then laughs, rusty and real against Bruce’s hair. “Just me, Hulk. There’s no-one else here. Only us. ”
And to Bruce’s amazement, the other guy actually rolls over in his mind and falls asleep.
“He went to sleep,” he says, stupidly.
Steve pulls out of the hug to smile down at Bruce, who blinks up at him in astonishment. “He’s pretty good at following my orders, now,” Steve says. There is a trace of their Captain in the quirk of his mouth, and Bruce can’t stop himself, couldn’t stop himself if he tried, from reaching up on his toes and chasing that trace with a hard, thankful kiss.
Steve jerks backwards, and his eyes meet Bruce’s. Bruce has no idea what his are saying, but Steve’s are lost, lost. Then the blue snaps back to the present, and he lowers his head carefully. The second kiss is tentative, chaste and yet full of purpose, and Bruce treasures it.
If Clint is desperation and Thor is domination, then Steve, proud and broken, is determination.
“Shit, that’s gorgeous,” Clint whispers.
“Verily,” says Thor, hoarse.
“Come on,” says Bruce gently, and he takes Steve’s huge hand and leads him to the carpet.
Tony, greedy Tony, reaches for them and tugs them down. Bruce laughs softly at Steve’s face, and Clint is smiling. “It’s okay, Cap,” says Natasha, and her hands smooths down his torn and bloodied uniform. “You belong here now. You belong here with us.”
Steve looks around at them all, and his face is a mixture of disbelief and hope. Thor, impatient as always, pulls the other towards him and his mouth descends, powerful and demanding. They’re almost too beautiful, Bruce thinks ruefully – two golden heads, the one neat and proud, the other untamed and leonine, two godlike and powerful bodies drawn together. Tony nudges Bruce’s arm.
“Hey you,” he murmurs.
“Hey,” Bruce says, and Tony grins at him.
“Is this science, do you think? Think it could be for science?”
“This isn’t science, Tony,” Bruce says, and Tony’s hand is trailing along Bruce’s bare chest, tickling the hair there.
Thor looks down at Natasha and Clint, who are wrapped around each other like eels. “This is no science,” he says in his deep, commanding voice, and he smiles at Steve, who looks like he thinks he might be dreaming. Thor’s smile is bright and golden, just like the rest of him. “This could be some sort of magic.”
“But I hate magic,” Tony complains, and Bruce rolls his eyes.
“Corny,” he says, right before Tony leaps onto him and begins to kiss the living daylights out of him.
Tony is fire and explosions and questions, Bruce thinks in a haze. Tony is need and want and desire. Tony is sharp and Tony can cut like knives and Tony understands why genius is both blessing and curse. Bruce loves that about him, loves that they have that in common. Their minds knew each other long before this mission, and that is a comfort too. The arc reactor presses through his shirt into Bruce’s bare chest, and Bruce can feel Tony’s erection pressed against his thigh.
“You’ve got a head start on everyone, Doc,” he murmurs against Bruce’s jaw, and Bruce can’t help but smile into spiked black hair that is crusted in sweat.
“Well, you know me. Exposed.” Like a nerve.
“No,” Tony breathes, and Bruce can feel someone (maybe Clint?) running a hand underneath Tony’s shirt. “Not exposed, not like that.”
“No more than I am,” says Steve, and his head drops onto Thor’s shoulder. Thor holds the other man gently.
“We all are, now,” says Natasha, her eyes dark as they land on the others each in turn. “We’re all exposed, now.”
Yes. He knows now what it is to be an assassin brainwashed practically from birth who rebuilt herself from scratch. He knows what it is to be a man, skilled beyond all comprehension, who loses everything and so fights and fights and fights until he has built a fortress of sarcasm around himself. He knows what it is to be a prince with the expectations of a whole species on his shoulders whose family is far, far away, or lost forever to him. He knows what it is to be a lonely billionaire whose spectacular mind is not enough to fill the gaps in himself and whose money cannot pay for the choices he has made. He now knows what it is to be a man marooned in a strange land clinging to the shreds of his old one.
And they know what it is like to be a man haunted by monsters who can never run fast enough to escape his mistakes.
There’s a short silence. They all lie or sit on the floor, and some of the feeling, that horrible numbness from before, sets back in.
“No,” Tony growls, and then sits up on Bruce’s chest, yanking his shirt off. “No, I’m not having this.”
Clint makes a savage noise of agreement, and his hands reach around Tony’s chest - one to play with a nipple, one to cover the arc reactor’s pale blue glow protectively.
(They all know, now, what it was like to have your heart pulled out in front of your eyes.)
“Never again,” Clint snarls into Tony’s ear, pressing against his back. Bruce watches them from below, and then places his hand tentatively over Clint’s.
“If anyone tries to get it, ever again,” he says, and then looks up into Tony’s eyes, “they’ll have to get through the other guy.”
Tony looks down at their hands, and his mouth is open. Since it’s there, and handy, Bruce hauls himself up onto his elbows and kisses Tony again. Clint’s hand is rough under his, the arc reactor cool and smooth.
There are hands everywhere now, and Bruce is lost in them. Someone is lifting his torso, and Tony’s mouth is hot. There is bare skin against his back, and open-mouthed kisses are wet against his neck. Thor is behind him, he discovers when he turns his head, and the prince seizes his mouth, sliding underneath him with that prodigious strength. His armour and shirt have also been discarded, and Tony’s hands are wandering past Bruce to touch those inhuman muscles.
“Jesus, Point Break,” he says worshipfully.
“Thor,” says Bruce, and his pulse is juddering, but the other guy still sleeps, rocked safely between the people he trusts. The people who know.
“I am here,” Thor says, and Tony presses his chest to Bruce, leaning over him to kiss Thor roughly.
“And so are we,” Tony says, as serious as Bruce has ever seen him. “Thor, we’re here. We’re safe. We’re all safe.”
(Because Thor can’t bear it when the people he loves are hurt. Thor knows that betrayal is just as painful for the betrayer, and that injury doesn’t always happen to the injured.)
Bruce feels Thor stiffen under him, shocked, before he groans aloud. Thor lifts his hips effortlessly, prodigious strength making it so, so easy, and the both of them above him move – Tony pressed against Bruce’s thigh, Bruce pushing up into Tony’s stomach. Behind Tony, Clint moans.
“Jeez Louise,” Steve says, and Natasha laughs under her breath.
Bruce has Clint’s hand entwined in his, and Tony’s collarbone beneath his lips. Bruce is sandwiched between Thor and Tony, and Clint is sitting on his legs (he thinks). Bruce is breathless and squashed and cannot actually remember being this happy ever in his whole miserable life.
He blinks up at where Steve is gently tugging Natasha’s uniform down. Her skin is impossibly smooth, impossibly perfect. The serum did strange things to them all. Steve is tentative but curious as he helps her extract her arms from the ruined fabric, and then smooths his big hands over her shoulders. Her breasts are white with the very palest tint of rose at the nipple, inhumanly perfect. He takes them each in a hand, watches them spill over his fingers. She smiles at him, and then spots Bruce’s hot gaze.
“Look,” she says, and Steve turns to see Bruce watching them even as Thor bucks upwards again. Bruce actually muffles a cry against Tony’s shoulder, and Clint swears loudly.
Steve gulps, which is something Bruce thought people didn’t actually do any more. “Y’think he likes the view?” he says.
“Oh, I think so,” Natasha says, and there is an arch glint in her eye. “Shall we give him more to look at?”
Steve’s breath speeds a little as Natasha’s hands, quick and clever, pull down the red, white and blue. Steve’s eyes never leave Bruce’s, and oh, Bruce is hot now, the ocean is boiling. Inch by inch, a body at the pinnacle of human perfection is unveiled, and it’s all one piece, that uniform, and so all of it has to come off. There are briefs, but they don’t leave much to the imagination, and apparently Steve is very interested in the proceedings despite his hesitancy.
“God Bless America,” Clint chokes, and crawls from where he was slowly moving against Bruce’s legs, Tony’s back, to touch that skin and see if it is as soft as it looks over the heavy slabs of muscle.
Steve doesn’t blink, but holds Bruce’s gaze as Clint mouths down one side of his broad chest and Natasha mouths down the other. Bruce’s hips jerk upwards of their own accord, because fuck, and Tony sighs into Thor’s mouth.
“Do that again,” he mutters, and immediately Bruce thrusts upwards with a strangled grunt, feeling Thor beneath him as solid as the earth, Tony fluttering above him like the wind.
“You need to be naked,” Natasha tells Clint in a husky voice, and he bites at Steve’s torso.
“Fuck yes, that needs to happen,” he says, and rolls back to rip at his clothes.
“Careful of your leg,” Bruce says, and is distracted by Steve taking the initiative, leaning down and licking a stripe up Natasha’s preternaturally pale torso. Oh, god.
Clint is wiry with the huge shoulders and arms of a man whose physique was built by the bow. He has tanlines and little scars pepper him. He isn’t glorious, like Steve and Thor, and he isn’t unreal, like Natasha. He’s more like Tony: compact, with human muscles and human flaws. His erection bobs eagerly as he crawls back to Steve and Natasha, and he begins to pull down the rest of Natasha’s uniform over milk-white hips and thighs even as she grinds hard against Steve. It’s nice, Bruce thinks distractedly. The contrast – two people so dreamlike, so fantastically fashioned, and then the utter realness of Clint with those perfect imperfections.
“I’m beginning to think you’ve got somewhere better to be,” Tony chuckles, and Bruce looks up at him and smiles, before thrusting upwards with his hips and pushing his hands into the back of Tony’s jeans.
“Nope,” he says truthfully. “I’m never running again.”
That makes both Tony and Thor pause on a short intake of breath, and then they are all over him and Bruce is being driven pleasantly insane. Tony rips off the hopelessly-stretched and ripped trousers, and Thor reaches around to stroke him from root to tip, root to tip, and then Thor’s erection is pressed between his thighs, the tip hard behind his balls, and Tony is sucking at his nipples and grinding hard against his hip, and Bruce is a skinny, hairy, fucked-up, indestructible little scrap of humanity, and these people know it and want him anyway.
“Now,” growls Tony, and Bruce fumbles at the jeans until he can push them down Tony’s hips to his knees, and then reaches down to feel his cock, hot and hard in his hand. First one he’s held that wasn’t his. Still, they all work along the same principle, he thinks, and plunges his tongue into Tony’s mouth while his fingers press all the places he himself likes. Tony makes a strangled noise and his body presses forward eagerly, because Tony is greedy and Tony is proud of it. All the while, Thor is moving, deep rumbling noises, fucking gently between Bruce’s thighs and that’s not something Bruce ever thought he’d enjoy but he is. He really is.
There’s a movement in the corner of his eye, a shift of gold. Steve’s head tips back, and Bruce looks over and nearly comes. Clint is sucking at Steve’s erection with practiced, smooth bobs of his head. And Natasha has two of her fingers in Steve’s ass, and where the fuck did she get the lube, Bruce wonders through a mist of arousal. Steve’s thighs are shaking, and his eyes are closed, and a flush is staining him from his chest to his neck.
“Oh god, look, just. Just fucking look at him,” he whimpers against Tony’s mouth, and Tony sits up on Bruce’s thighs to peer over and then suck in a sharp breath.
“Okay, they’re officially beating us, can’t have that,” he says shakily, and Bruce lets his head fall back onto Thor’s brawny shoulder and laughs.
“What’re you using?” Tony pants, and Bruce squeezes gently, feeling the pulse in Tony’s cock jump in his palm. “Ohgod please, please, tell me there’s more,” he gasps.
Natasha gives them a small smile, and nods to the tube lying on the carpet. Cream from the medi-unit. “Ten points for creative use of the available material,” Bruce manages, and Natasha’s smile turns wicked.
“Come here, and I’ll show you how creative I can get,” she promises.
“No fair,” Tony breathes. “He’s busy right now.”
“Oh, I didn’t mean just him,” Natasha says, and presses down on something inside Steve that makes his eyes snap open. A whine escapes his throat. “That’s an open invitation.”
“He’s almost ready, huh?” asks Bruce, and she looks down at her fingers buried inside their poor lost leader, and nods, the smile hovering in her eyes.
“Fuck,” Tony spits, and gnaws at Bruce’s shoulder to give his mouth something to do.
“That’s... the. The idea,” says Steve, and then gasps, writhing. Clint bobs and bobs, and his thin lips are stretched and round and red.
“That is a very enticing offer, Lady Natasha, and a very. Very eloquent invitation,” Thor says, throaty and deep and his hand tightens over Bruce, who swears loudly and buries his face in the cloud of soft gold hair.
“I am all over that,” Tony says, and then kisses Bruce, hard and hot, before practically collapsing towards the other three, undulating in the soft afternoon light. “Fuck, I love my country.”
Steve hisses a bit when Natasha removes her fingers, and just like that Tony is kissing Steve and cradling that huge, strong body as though it is still the frail thing it once was. Clint pulls off and wipes his mouth, and Bruce sits up to watch as Tony whispers gently in their Captain’s ear; watches Steve nod, watches as Tony presses into him, looks after him.
Thor, behind him, sits up and pushes back Bruce’s mad curls. “You feel slighted?” he asks quietly.
Bruce watches them, and smiles. Tony is being so careful with Steve, and Steve is still shuddering, still shaking. His cock stands out before him, hard and wet and red. “Nope. How could I? Look at that.”
They’re very beautiful, after all.
Clint flops down beside them. His mouth looks obscene. “God damn. One of you fine gentlemen feel like looking after me now?”
Bruce shares a look with Thor, and then grins. “After you, sir.” And Thor inclines his head graciously, and there was three thousand years of court etiquette, and they all know what that’s like.
Thor thumbs along the archer’s lips, and Clint sucks it in, his blue-grey eyes dancing. Thor huffs a laugh, and then Clint is being covered by Thor’s bulk and the cap on the little tube is being unscrewed and Clint yelps and then hisses and then moans.
Natasha crawls over, and leans back against Bruce. Her body is so small after Tony and Thor, but Bruce knows better than to think her delicate.
They have something else in common too – they were both brainwashed by cruel men, and they were both unmade.
“What about you, Doc?” she whispers. “Anything I should know?”
Oh. Right. He’d nearly forgotten, in this mist of knowing and feeling and touching. Of course. He can’t ever forget his poisonous body, he can’t ever let down his guard. Not really.
“Um...” he clears his throat. “Well. Saliva’s fine, negligible radiation levels, just background, really. Semen’s really, really not. Blood’s worst. Don’t break my skin, no matter what, or we’ll have to get a hazmat team in, and there’d be some really awkward questions. So. This is good, anyway. This is enough.”
Clint, writhing underneath Thor, gasps out, “hear that, everyone?”
“Fuck yes,” Tony says, rocking gently with Steve, taking care of him. “Leaves absolute fuckloads we can do. JARVIS? Where’re my condoms?”
Bruce stops, and then shakes his head. “But, anyway. Moot point. My heartrate...”
“Oh please make him stop with that shit,” Clint manages, and arches back onto Thor’s questing fingers.
“Your heartrate’s been jackhammering for half an hour, and you’re still here,” says Natasha, and smooths her hand over his chest. “But just in case.... Captain Rogers?”
“Hulk?” Steve commands distractedly, pushing back onto Tony and sighing. “Everything is fine. Stay asleep.”
The other guy doesn’t even stir from his safe slumber. Bruce is nonplussed.
“Doc,” Natasha says into his ear, her fingers dancing through his chest hair and tweaking a nipple, hard, “we know the danger signs now, just as well as you do. We know it all.”
Bruce feels completely lightheaded. He chokes on this for moment – it doesn’t feel real - it’s a dream, nothing but a racy dream and he’ll be facing his teammates with slightly downcast eyes in the morning. But Natasha pulls on his chest hair, a sharp tug, and it hurts... and it has to be real. He’s not even aware of tears until her hand runs over his cheek and comes away wet, and then he turns around to wrap Natasha in a hard embrace. She bites at his ear and his neck and he is going to be very colourful tomorrow after all Natasha and Tony have done.
She’s soft, and he wasn’t expecting that. Her pale breasts press against his chest, and her legs snake around him as he pulls back her fiery hair and buries himself in that delicious spot where neck and shoulder meet, thumbing her nipple. Her head jerks against the hold he has on her hair, and she growls in satisfaction. He looks up, meets her eyes.
“It’s like that, then?” he breathes.
She takes his balls in her hand and squeezes. “It is.”
He gasps, pleasure-pain washing over him, and waits for the inevitable interest from the other guy.
He slumbers on.
Natasha’s eyes are languid, half-closed. She squeezes again, and Bruce fights the instinct to move away even as he bucks a little. His reactions are torn between fucking and fleeing, and Natasha obviously likes it. She hums a bit under her breath, watching him.
“Ffff...” says Steve, somewhere a million miles away.
“Eat me, Bruce,” Natasha orders, and he bends his head and obeys. She doesn’t taste like other women – there’s salt, of course, and slick, but then she’s not a normal woman and Bruce should remember that. It’s not bad.
Then there are hands on his hips, and he jerks away. Natasha pulls on his hair, reminding him who’s in charge and what the matter at hand is. He returns obediently, though he begins to taunt her in retaliation, nosing around her clit but avoiding touching it with his tongue, swiping from her vulva up to the little knob and stopping, drawing patterns in the slick skin just underneath, pushing against the vein that curls around it on the right side.
“You fucking bastard,” she pants, pleased.
The hands are fairly strong, fairly clever, and Bruce can feel them stroking down his back gently. “Just me,” says Clint. Bruce reaches back and grasps one of the hands. The archer squeezes back. “Well, with that pretty ass of yours up in the air like that...” Clint says breathlessly and then grunts, and Bruce realises that Thor is inside Clint even as he speaks, “couldn’t let something that pretty go to waste.”
“Oh, oh, oh...” Steve is saying, broken and wet and always so lost.
“Do it,” Bruce mutters, and his face is burning against Natasha’s cunt, and they know it is, because they know everything now.
There’s a pause, and no doubt Clint and Natasha are having an entire conversation over his head through their eyes. Then Clint’s hand squeezes again, and lets go.
There is the snap of latex, and the click of a lid, and then two fingers are massaging his ass and Bruce hasn’t ever even touched himself there. It doesn’t feel good – it doesn’t really feel anything. He relaxes against the fingers though, because the slickness is pleasing at any rate. Then one dips inside and he tenses again.
Weird. Weird. Doesn’t hurt, not just one, anyway. But weird. Feels a little uncomfortable, to be honest, and he now understands the snap of latex. Clint is wearing one of the gloves from the medi-unit, and Bruce blesses him for thinking of that. Minimise the chances of contacting any of his--
Ah, god. Two fingers stop him from thinking about that, and Jesus fuck. Tight, and, oh. The stretch of the sphincter is an actual burn. Not like the burn of tired muscle, but a real burning sensation, and Bruce accidently bites down a little on Natasha’s clit. Apparently she’s a fan of that, though, and she writhes and hisses and says something completely incomprehensible in Russian, and Bruce never learned that much, so he has no idea what she said. But Clint is turning him inside out, and so he whimpers against her lovely cunt and presses into her with a finger, searching for the rough spot just inside, and when Clint gives him a third finger, he bites down again and presses up and Natasha comes. She flutters around his finger like a bird, and her teeth are bared in what looks nearly like a snarl.
“Boizhe moi,” she manages when Bruce lifts his head. “God, Doc. You’ve got... a real gift there.”
She reaches for him and wipes slick and tears off his face, before kissing him hard. He kisses back even as Clint opens him a little more, a little more, and she swallows his hitching breaths.
“You ready, Bruce?” she says against his mouth, and he whimpers.
She scoots backwards and stands, and he nearly collapses onto the carpet, Clint’s fingers still toying, still burning. The burn and stretch is beginning to become a necessity, and he pushes back onto those clever fingers seeking more and he is kind of embarrassed by the noises he is making.
“Getting greedy, Banner,” Clint huffs, and Bruce huffs back.
“Here,” says Natasha from somewhere. “Give him what he needs.”
There is a rip and a snap, and Bruce recognises the noise of a condom being taken from its packaging. Natasha is rolling it onto Clint, and from the sound of it they are kissing. Then the fingers are gone and Bruce can’t believe how the lack actually makes him whine. His ass rises off the expensive carpet, begging, and fuck. He is now completely embarrassed, and that from a guy who fifty percent of the time makes it out of the battle naked as a jaybird.
“Daisy, daisy, give me your answer do,” Tony chokes and then laughs breathlessly, pumping into Steve furiously. Steve’s face is scrunched and his mouth is open, and any minute now, any minute.
Well, whatever, Bruce thinks defiantly at his own embarrassment, when in Rome. Apparently there were orgies there too, though maybe not so much the alien mind-rape beforehand. And rises up onto his hands and knees to take Steve into his mouth, and Steve actually curses.
“Shit, did that happen?” Clint says, stunned, and Tony is laughing for real now, his rhythm off-kilter.
“Fast learners all,” Natasha drawls.
So. This is what a dick in his mouth feels like. Bruce sucks experimentally and carefully keeps his teeth away. It’s hot, and heavy – and it tastes sort of funky, but hell, he’s eaten Durian in Cambodia and this is nothing compared to that. Steve can’t help but jerk into Bruce’s mouth in response to Tony’s renewed pumping, and he gasps Bruce’s name helplessly. Those big hands land in Bruce’s curls once more and tug and then soothe - and Christ, what is this fascination with his hair?
“This way,” Clint mutters, and there is shuffling behind him, and then Bruce’s achingly open ass is dabbed with more of that cream and something thick is slowly, torturously, pushed into him.
Bruce jolts forward in surprise and oh, fuck – fuck, oh god. Oh god.
Steve’s cock hits the back of his throat, and with a strangled shout Captain fucking America is coming into his mouth and swearing like a sergeant.
“Ah, ah...” pants Bruce. Full. Ow, ow, full, good so good but oh god – how the fuck is the other guy still asleep through this, oh god, oh god...
There’s come in the corners of his mouth because he didn’t swallow fast enough, and he just knows the tears are still on his cheeks because Steve is babbling, “Bruce, please, Bruce don’t cry, it’s okay, I’m sorry, I’m sorry...”
“Steve. Shut up,” Bruce dredges up the energy to say, and he swallows again. “I’m fine, ah, unh, I’m fine... I... oh god please... ah, ah, just... oh god fuuuuck...” and he can’t say any more, just keeps panting, just keeps pushing back onto Clint because now his cock is dragging against something inside that sends sparks racing through his body (prostate, says the doctor clinically inside him but that doctor is small, so tiny now) and if he doesn’t keep going he honestly thinks he might Hulk the fuck out in frustration.
Steve is oversensitive and overstimulated, and so Tony pulls out of Steve carefully. Their Captain falls to the carpet and runs a hand through his sweaty hair. Bruce blinks up at his friends through blurred wet eyes, and Clint is spitting him, spearing him. He can feel the more-than-human strength of Thor even through Clint’s body. Thor thrusts and it echoes through Clint and then Bruce moans and it is like a chemical reaction, like a chain of atoms linking and unlinking to form new compounds.
“Fucking hell, Banner, you’re a mess,” Tony says, eyes bright.
Bruce can only moan some more, and he wants to rub against something because his dick is so fucking hard it could drill through walls and he hasn’t come in six years.
And they all know it.
“Best kind of mess,” Natasha says, and she kisses Tony gently. “Are you up for more?” she asks.
Tony grins like a shark. “I’m sorry, have we met? I’m. Tony. Stark.”
Clint laughs, and it throws the rhythm out, and Thor’s thrusts are growing ragged and desperate. Bruce pushes back and Clint is taken off guard (for once) and then Thor is shouting, roaring to completion and Bruce is practically mashed against the carpet. The friction against his neglected cock is delicious and he claws at the floor a little with shaky hands.
“That is almost too pornographic to look at,” Tony comments, and he strokes himself a few times lazily, smiling at their three-man pile-up and cocking his head. Steve is lying back, chest heaving, his eyes heavy-lidded and his limbs limp as he gazes at them with something a little like wonder.
“Mmm,” Natasha agrees, and her smile is wicked again. “Let me go and fix that.”
Thor is moving away, and Bruce can breathe again. He can feel Clint pulsing inside him, close, too close to the edge, and Bruce feels like he’s been standing on the precipice for years. Clint hauls him up by the shoulders, and then Natasha is sliding underneath him and taking him in hand, her movements graceful and insanely fluid, and he stares down at her.
“You’re going to like this,” she says, and she is rolling a condom onto him with one practiced hand.
“Oh,” he says, and if there was ever a poster boy for having his brains fucked out, it is Bruce Banner.
And Bruce is the ocean and Steve is ice and Clint is stone and Thor is lightning and Tony is fire, but Natasha is the darkness, the dark - and the ocean is dark and the dark knows the depths of the ocean, and so the ocean and the dark belong together. As she takes him in and he is buried in her sweet hot darkness, he hears Tony’s voice from somewhere, blurred, as though it is coming from underwater. “Okay, now it’s officially too pornographic. Christ, that’s. Christ. Room for me?”
“Almost,” says Clint, straining, so close. “Give me a moment here, and you can finish him off.”
And that. What, oh god, oh fuck. Bruce is going to Hulk the fuck out, he just knows it.
“Stay with me, Doc,” Natasha says, gentle, but she twists around (how does she do that) and bites down on his nipple and he can’t stop the howl that is half a roar, and there is a monster in his voice and they all know how it is and how it feels and he is being turned inside out by the drag of Clint’s cock in his ass and the velvet of Natasha around him and how the hell has he not come.
“Uhn!” Clint says in response to Bruce’s howl, and pushes in, and he’s coming, and Bruce can actually feel the other man lengthening inside, the pulse and the twitch. Clint pulls out, businesslike, and Natasha wipes at Bruce’s face again and clamps down on him before she kisses him, biting at his lips.
“Hey you,” says Tony in his ear. Crinkle of another condom packet.
He can feel Tony’s hands on his hips where Clint had been, pressing into the bruises, and then Bruce is being moved, being pushed up onto his knees and Tony is reclining under him and propped up against Thor, and he’s sinking down onto Tony’s cock. Tony’s thinner but longer, and the drag inside him is different, the angle is different. He slumps back onto Tony, the arc reactor pressed against his back, and Tony looks after him, moving slow and sure and cradling him just like he did for Steve. Tony looks after the things that are his, after all.
Natasha climbs up to sit on his thighs, agile as a squirrel, and takes Bruce back inside her. Her legs wrap around him and then around Stark, who sucks in a breath and says, “love a ballerina.”
She grins, brutal and raw. “You know as well as I do, Stark, that I was never a ballerina.”
“Whatever,” he says, and kisses her savagely over Bruce’s shoulder.
Their kiss is a battleground, a fight for dominance, a war. Bruce can feel the heat it generates against the side of his face, and Natasha’s legs tighten and pull herself even further onto him and Bruce makes one of those terribly embarrassing noises again. God, his dignity, did he ever have any?
“Holy smokes,” Steve says, and Tony giggles into Natasha’s bruising kisses.
“Shall we?” she says, and Tony presses up into Bruce again.
“Oh, I think so,” he replies.
And then hands are back on Bruce, his nipples, his belly, his face. Tony is savaging his neck again, and shivers are sent to pool at the base of his spine where Tony drives up into him. At the same time Natasha clamps down, her hands busy, and Bruce is held immobile by this, this punishing pace, and he can’t, he can’t...
“Let go,” she whispers. “Bruce. Stop denying yourself, and let go.”
But he can’t, he can’t... the precipice is climbing, growing and he’s spiralling, and he’s about to Hulk the fuck out, he is, he is, oh god.
“God, can’t keep this up much longer,” Tony puffs, and his clever fingers creep around to where Bruce and Natasha are joined. He finds that little button, and presses.
Natasha throws her head back and comes again, and that’s it. Bruce dives. The precipice drops away and he’s coming and he doesn’t know if he’s green and doesn’t care and he’s being held by these people and they’re here watching him sob and pant and fall to pieces and he doesn’t care. Just doesn’t care. Because they know. Everything.
And he trusts them.
It sets off Tony, and he swears and swears as he pours himself out. Bruce is shaking like a leaf as Natasha slides off him, and Tony pulls Bruce back, fingers digging into the bruises that Clint made, uses him like a rag as he comes. Then Tony lets out an explosive breath and flops down against Thor, his hands releasing and smacking onto the carpet. “Fuck. Okay, when can we do that again?”
Bruce can’t move, and Steve has to help him crawl off Tony. He’s shaking. His hands are tinged green, but that’s it. That’s all there is. No more than that.
“Told you,” says Steve, and his baby blues are dancing with delight and affection. “He’s gotten good at following orders.”
Bruce looks up, and his lips are numb from kissing them. His face is sticky, and so is the rest of him. Sweat has created channels in the hair on his chest. Steve opens his arms, and Bruce slumps against him gratefully. He’s very sore. His brain is spinning.
“I didn’t get to have much of a go at you,” says Steve to Clint, and he chuckles.
“For that matter, I didn’t get the divine experience,” Tony says, and grins up at Thor. Clint’s hand is buried in Thor’s golden hair, and the god looks relaxed and boneless.
“Mayhap next time,” he says, and there’s that dazzling grin.
“Hells yes. I bags first go at Thor next time,” Tony says, and then yawns.
“I did not pay enough attention to the lady, either,” says Thor apologetically. Clint waves his hand lazily.
“She was looking after Steve and the Doc this time. They needed the attention. Next time.”
“I could go in for some international negotiations as well,” Tony says. Natasha just smiles, tucked against Clint, the afternoon sun staining her whiteness with gold.
Bruce lies back against Steve, sinking into the thick, expensive carpet. Steve kisses his head absently, dropping it onto his brow. Tony’s flailing hand lands on his foot, and then rubs it fondly. Clothes and weapons and half the medi-unit and Christ, condoms and gloves and fuck knows what else are scattered around them. They all look wrecked. Everyone’s lips are bright as berries, everyone’s skin is littered with marks. And there's going to be a next time.
Bruce has never, ever been so happy.