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Coda 2: Water

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Hulk unfolds into being, naked on the beach, and he grins at his lovies before he tears off towards the water, running, splashing in the shallows, then gleefully submerging himself once the clear blue water gets deep enough. He races imaginary opponents out to some barren rocks, hoisting himself on top of them and then roaring with glee.

He swims back and forth for a while, stretching out, using his great muscles, savoring the freedom and the emptiness. But then he comes back up the beach, eyes bright and gleeful, finding the other two and holding out his great wet hands.

He hoists them both up onto his shoulders and swims out again, at a more relaxed pace this time, enjoying their company and the murmur of their conversation and their hands in his hair. Clint and Phil have their hands laced with each other at the back of Hulk's neck, and they're discussing places they've seen on missions, places this reminds them of, but that they never got to relax and enjoy.

"Glad we had a reason to come here," Clint murmurs, other hand stroking across Hulk's cheek.

"Agreed," Phil answers, his other hand deeply involved in massaging Hulk's scalp with his fingertips. "I'm good at working. I'm not so great at taking vacations. Until there's a specific objective."

Clint laughs. It's a sound Hulk loves. Hulk smiles and puts up a hand to pat Phil's knees.

They jump down to swim beside him, then, and even the Hulk's lazy strokes challenge the other two a bit to keep up with him, and after crossing the lagoon twice, they're breathing hard. Hulk lies back to float, and the other two climb on top of him, like a raft, rising and falling with the great deep breaths of his lungs. Clint's face is in the crook of his neck, an arm reaching around to play with the drift of his hair underwater, and Phil is lying face up across Hulk's belly, feet trailing in the water.

Hulk just loves having them there, feeling them relax in his presence, fall into a doze right there against his skin. It's so important.

After that they go back to the beach and Clint and Phil freshen up each other's sunscreen. Hulk turns it down, after a moment's thought. "Sun doesn't burn me," he says. But the way they rub lotion on each other reminds him of a thing he likes, but only remembers as Banner. "Massage later?"

Phil and Clint look at each other. "We probably won't be able to do much for those Hulk-size muscles," Clint says warningly. "But yeah, you can get rubbed down with nice-smelling oil, maybe we can do one o'those things where I walk on your back, get as much force as possible." Clint finishes rubbing sunscreen on Phil's neck, then kisses him lightly on the lips before turning back to Hulk. "So what now? Wanna build sandcastles?"

Hulk settles in to watch as Clint makes a basic sand structure, a couple of towers and a wall, until Hulk gets the idea and begins to move vast amounts of sand and small rocks up from the bottom of the lagoon and onto the beach, building an epic construction that is rough, but certainly impressive, and is not a classic sandcastle so much as a swooping, stylized mountain range or other natural landscape. He asks Clint to help him smooth out and put in some details too small for his enormous hands.

Phil watches, caught up in thought.

Hulk likes his huge wooden blocks back home, which he uses as a sort of modular furniture, stacking them into abstract shapes against the walls of his room and covering them with blankets for his smaller teammates to climb over and lounge on top of. It reminds Phil of an artist he had once known and her insistence that creation and destruction were two sides of the same coin, inseparable concepts, one impossible without the other, and he's wondered if Hulk would find satisfaction in expressing himself with any other kinds of art.

Phil hadn't gotten it at the time; he'd told her he'd seen too much aimless destruction to believe in their being tied quite that closely to each other. Now, he thinks maybe he owes her an apology. So many people look at Hulk and see only that violence and chaos. Even Phil had, at first. But that was a lack of perspective. Hulk is so much more.

But this? This is beyond what he's ever seen in the great green Avenger. And he's sorry he missed it before.

He's sorry he hasn't spent more time getting to know this phenomenal fourth person in their extraordinary relationship.