One of Doom’s henchmen went flying down 5th Avenue and landed, hard, on top of a bus stop.
Tony sighed. He cut the thrusters and brought himself down to street level. He flipped his helmet up since, well, why not at this point? “So that just happened.”
Clint came over. “Tell me that guy didn’t just - “
“Oh he did,” Tony told him. He watched as Hulk grabbed a car and used it to swipe three Doombots down like bowling pins in a street-sized alley. “He very much did.”
“What, again?” This from Natasha, who’d appeared from who knew where.
“For the record I had nothing to do with this,” Tony said.
A Doombot went flying past. One of its arms flew by a moment later.
“Other than the usual,” Tony added.
Natasha sat down on the hood of the car next to Clint and Tony. She folded her legs up underneath her as she made herself comfortable. “How do they not know better by now?”
“If it was me?” Clint brought a hand up to shield his eyes from the sun as they all watched Hulk stomp his way towards Doom’s henchmen. Most of the henchmen tried to scatter before Hulk could reach them. “That’d be, like, lesson one in the minion training manual. Maybe two after stuff like not giving away the location of the secret hideout.”
“You’d think,” Tony agreed.
One of the henchmen gestured towards Hulk, clearly trying to say something. It was too far away to hear what it was, but -
Tony, Clint, and Natasha all winced when the henchman went through a plate glass window.
“There’s a pain that’ll linger,” Tony observed.
“How do they not learn?” Natasha asked.
Coulson walked up. “What the hell is going on? Why are you all just standing around?”
A police car, thankfully unoccupied, tumbled past.
“What, again?” Coulson asked.
“Yep,” Clint said. He drew the word out slowly, popping the last P.
“If he throws one more of those I’m going to have to have lunch with the mayor,” Tony said. “I can’t express how much I’d rather be fighting the Doombots.”
“How does this keep happening?” Coulson asked, but he didn’t bother waiting for an answer. He walked off, putting a hand to his ear to activate his comm as he said, “Director Fury, one of Doom’s henchmen tried - yes again - “
“To be fair, it wasn’t one of Doom’s guys last time,” Natasha pointed out.
“I’d still spread that information,” Clint said. “Common courtesy. Honor among evil and all that.”
“Maybe it doesn’t count when you’re all competing for global domination,” Tony said.
There was an explosion two blocks down. Hulk roared in triumph.
“Looks like you own another Starbucks,” Natasha told Tony.
“I think if I buy two more the next one’s free,” Tony said.
The ground trembled underneath them as Hulk tossed a van at some Doombots, taking out another storefront in the process.
“That one was abandoned,” Clint said, helpfully.
Tony facepalmed. “No. It’s fine. I needed to buy more space. I’ll build a really big closet and use it to store my out of season clothes.”
“Clothes have seasons?” Clint asked. To which Natasha gently patted Clint on the arm.
A shadow fell over all of them. They looked up to see a plane with a familiar 4 logo on the side hovering above them.
“Oh this day just keeps getting better,” Tony said.
There was a crackle on the speakers, and Reed Richards’ voice came over the comms. “What happened?”
“One of Doom’s guys tried suicide by Hulk,” Clint explained.
“Are we sure he didn’t do that on purpose?” Tony asked, to nobody in particular. “Maybe Doom needs to get more therapists on staff. Have a company picnic. Give out free t-shirts. Something to improve morale.”
Reed’s voice broke in again. “Whatever the guy did can’t have been that bad.”
“If you wanna try explaining that to Hulk, by all means,” Tony said, gesturing towards where Hulk skipped a Doombot down the street like a stone over water. “He looks like he’s up for a friendly conversation.”
“This can’t keep happening,” Reed said.
“Try telling that to the bad guys,” Natasha suggested.
“Or maybe Stark could try getting control of his boyfriend,” Reed shot back.
“He’s kidding with this bullshit, right?” Clint asked.
Tony gave a casual shrug. “Reed’s just jealous that even with the stretchy power he’s not man enough to take my boyfriend.”
“I heard that, Stark.”
“Oh, did I leave my comm on accidentally?” Tony replied, with false sweetness.
“Dr. Richards, considering the current situation, you may wish to park elsewhere,” Natasha suggested.
“Aw, c’mon, Nat,” Clint said, as he saw the Hulk looking in their direction. “It’s been entire days since we watched Hulk toss a plane.”
“Wasn’t that when he thought someone was looking at you funny?” Natasha asked Tony, even though she knew full well what had caused the incident in question.
“Not so much look as tone,” Tony said, keeping his comm on. “But hey, if Reed wants to hang out here and bitch at me for no reason I’m sure the big guy will know the difference.”
“You’re going to have to deal with the cleanup, Stark,” Reed said before flying the plane away.
Clint watched him go, then turned to the others. “Anyone hungry? I could grab us some sandwiches, long as there’s nothing else to do.”
Natasha shrugged. “I could eat.”
“Grab some pizzas for Hulk while you’re at it,” Tony said. “Put it all on my tab.”
“What if he changes back?” Clint asked, though he was already heading in the direction of the closest deli.
“Then it’s dinner for tonight,” Tony said, not overly concerned.
Another police car flew past.
“JARVIS, book me a lunch with the mayor.” Tony sighed. “And maybe an appointment with a cyanide pill 30 minutes beforehand.”
“Yes, sir,” JARVIS replied.
“In a way it’s kind of cute how he watches out for you,” Natasha said, still keeping her eyes on the Hulk.
Tony watched as Hulk leapt one block closer and took out two Doombots by smashing them into a group of Doom’s henchmen. “Your definition of cute is somewhat more disturbing than most people’s.”
“I had a unique childhood,” Natasha agreed.
Another shadow came into view, this one closer to man-sized.
“How is this a battle worthy of those who would call themselves heroes?” Doom asked.
“One of your men threatened Tony’s life,” Natasha told Doom.
Doom blinked. “In Hulk’s hearing?”
“Do you really need us to answer that for you?” Tony asked.
Doom folded his arms and watched the destruction taking place. “Why would they do something so stupid? They know that when trying to kill you they should give no warning!”
“You’d think,” Tony said.
“Why are you agreeing with him?” Natasha asked.
“I had defense systems I wanted to field test today,” Tony said. He gestured towards Hulk. “Obviously those plans are out the window.”
Natasha rolled her eyes. “Yeah, like he really would’ve let you get shot at too.”
“Doom sent a lot of bots, he could’ve been distracted,” Tony said. Though deep down he knew Natasha was right.
Doom shook his head. “This group is clearly too stupid to live. Do what you want with them.”
With that Doom left.
Clint came back with a bag of sandwiches and sodas. “Pizzas are cooking. What’d I miss?”
“Doom’s using this as a teachable moment for the rest of his minions, and I have to have lunch with the mayor unless I can think of how to avoid it,” Tony said. He tilted his head thoughtfully. “Do you suppose Phil’s got recommendations on a good doc to use to get a medically induced coma?”
“Right, ‘cause the other doctor in your life would love to hear you talk like that,” Natasha pointed out. She reached over to rummage in the bag for her sandwich.
“I’m kidding,” Tony said. He grimaced. “Mostly.”
“Not that I’m complaining about the sudden gift of free time,” Clint said, “but you’d really think that by now the bad guys would understand that if they come after one of you the other’s gonna - “
“Hey, asshole!” Tony aimed an arm-mounted missile at a henchman who was trying to shoot at Hulk from behind. “I am standing right here. Back away from the rage monster.”
The henchman dropped his weapon and was immediately taken into custody by SHIELD agents.
Tony put the missile back. He relaxed his posture and saw Clint grinning at him.
“Oh shut up,” Tony said.
“You two are adorable,” Clint replied, far too cheerfully.
Natasha took another bite of her sandwich. “I said cute.”
“A) Fuck you,” Tony told Clint. “B) you’d have done the same thing if it was Phil. And c) fuck you.”
“Yeah but Phil would actually feel it if somebody shot at him,” Clint pointed out.
“Hulk would... totally feel that too,” Tony said, though he knew he was fighting a losing battle.
Clint put an arm around Tony’s shoulders. “I think it’s sweet that you’re so protective. It’s almost like you’ve grown a soul.”
“Funny,” Tony said. “Most people joke about a heart.”
Clint shrugged. “I didn’t want to go for a cliche.”
“I appreciate that,” Tony said, and meant it.
Coulson came back over. “Think he’s winding down?”
“He’s got less to smash,” Natasha said, though with Hulk that wasn’t always a guaranteed answer.
“Huh.” Coulson watched Hulk for a moment, then turned to the others. “So anybody watch Teen Wolf last night?”
Natasha covered her ears. “No spoilers!”
Tony looked around. “There’s a few video displays I could hack into. We could watch while we wait.”
Clint nudged him. “Tony.”
Tony looked down the street. The henchmen and Doombots were all either disarmed, gone, or in custody. Hulk walked back, his dark green eyes on Tony the entire time.
“Metal Man okay?” Hulk asked.
Tony pushed away from the car and walked over to Hulk. He held his arms out so Hulk could take a good look at him. “More than okay. The suit didn’t even get dusty.”
“No one hurts Metal Man,” Hulk said.
“I think you’re making that abundantly clear,” Tony assured him.
“Good.” Hulk grunted. Then there was the shrinking and contortions that came as Hulk turned back into Bruce.
Tony reached to help Bruce stand. “Welcome back, gorgeous.”
Bruce took several long blinks as he observed all the destruction around them. “What happened?”
“One of Doom’s guys threatened me,” Tony said.
Bruce’s mouth hung open for a moment. He frowned at Tony in confusion. “Don’t they know better by now?”
“You’d think,” Tony agreed. “C’mon, Clint got pizza.”
Bruce followed him back to the others. He sighed. “I can’t believe they keep doing that. You know, I liked that shirt.”
“I’ll buy you a new one,” Tony promised.