Brooklyn, New York City
Quincy Street, Bedford-Stuyvesant
188 Sherwood (Sidewalk)
"Ricky, get back here!"
Yelling at nearly the top of his lungs, Bruce ran at high speed down the sidewalk, attempting to catch up and catch his traitorous canine even as every single alarm rang in his head at the amount of attention he was drawing to himself. Years of survival instincts screamed at him to stop and turn around, duck his head and shuffle on until he blended in enough to be confused with the mass of nameless strangers in the New York City crowd.
Gritting his teeth, Bruce put on a burst of speed. Outstretched fingers came within grabing distance of the wagging tail, and Bruce felt an odd sort of victory whell up in him as he closed his fin- and than nearly tripped and fell flat on his unshaven chin as Ricky abruptly changed direction and ran up the short walk of steps to burst through an opening door, startling whoever happened to be on the other side.
"Shit," Bruce hissed out the word through his teeth. Of all the things Ricky has pulled in his time with Bruce, this is what made the scientist regret taking the mutt with him when Ross had chased him out of Brazil.
No choice, rose up from the subconscious depths of his mind and slapped him across the face.
Bruce grit his teeth. Oh, right. I get to blame you for this.
Taking a moment to gather himself, and hope that whoever his dog was accosting happened to be a dog lover (or at least in an understanding mood), Bruce ran up the steps and passed through the door and into what was apparently a run down apartment building.
Seeing Ricky happily licking away at something on the floor, Bruce quickly began the apologies as he stalked up and grabbed Ricky's collar. "I am so sorry," he said, tugging a little harshly on the red belt, "He normally doesn't do this, he's a very good dog. I-,"
"Um, I'm pretty sure you're saying somethin' but I can't hear you. So let me just..."
Bruce's attention snapped to Ricky's victim and object horror slammed into him. The as yet unnamed man, dressed simply in a pair of jeans, purple shoes, and a purple t-shirt, reached for two purple objects that had presumably clattered to the ground upon being tackled by several pounds of fur. He quickly slipped them onto his ears and smiled crookedly up at the gaping scientist. "There we go," he said from his position on the floor, "What were you saying?"
His dog had body tackled a deaf man. Bruce's shoulders slumped. Fantastic, he inwardly growled.
Ricky barked and, much to Bruce's surprise, the blond leveled another smile at the canine. "Pretty excited there weren't ya boy?" Blue eyes looked down at what Bruce now realized was an overturned disposable plate, a lone fork next to it and a smear of whatever had landed on the floor before Ricky had licked it up. His face fall, and though he was still very much mortified at the entire situation Bruce found it within himself to smile a little at how much the man's whole demeanor suddenly resembled that of a sulking toddler as he muttered, "Aw, pasta, no."
Ricky barked once, tilting his head in a manner that had Bruce glowering at the canine again. It was Ricky's signal that he wanted treats. He sighed, tugging at the collar again. "No, Ricky, not right now," he said, feeling sympathy for his friend as he quietly contemplated the emptiness of his own stomach, "We'll get something later."
Bruce glanced up, an honest expression on his face. "I really am sorry about this, sir, Ricky's normally a very well behaved dog."
The guy seemed to have actually forgotten about him for a moment and looked a little guilty at having spaced out over his forgone food. "Um, no problem?" A hand scrubbed through his hair, messing up the already wild locks. "I have a dog too, so I know how it is."
Something about the tone of voice the other man used had an alarm bell ringing inside Bruce's mind, but he mentally wrangled the paranoia under control. The man couldn't be S.H.I.E.L.D., A.I.M. or one of Ross's men. He doubted any of the three (especially Ross) would take a chance on a disabled man who'd be virtually defenseless against an enhanced person, let alone somebody like Bruce (not unless said person was a mutant with enough power to make up for the disability, but than, the blonde wouldn't have been allowed to live on a normal block full of people, not when they had a nice cell for him with ready and waiting scientists). He also doubted any ones ability to predict Ricky's actions and set up a proper trap.
Shooting another smile at Bruce, the man began moving to push himself up and off of the ground. Bruce, ignoring the instinct telling him to retreat as far away as he was able to, took a step and offered out his free hand.
Apparently surprised at this, he smiled another crooked smile and took Bruce's hand, hauling himself up. Embarrassingly, Bruce almost toppled over as the man stood. And than he blinked.
Oh, he's taller than he looked on the floor. Six-two, or six-three would be a good estimate. The skin on his hand feels more rough than one would think, so that means manual labor. That would explain the shoulders than.
Hulk's voice, silent for the most part during this entire situation, spoke up from those same depths as before, Stop drooling.
Bruce let go of the hand and stepped back out of the others personal space and grit his teeth. Data gathering, not drooling, he shot back.
Hmph. Could've fooled me.
"- but only if it's cool with you?"
The scientist snapped out of his conversation with Hulk, realizing that he'd been accidentally ignoring Ricky's victim. He blinked, feeling more than a little lost. "Um, well- I- uh..."
"Clint, what the heck is taking you so long?! It's only one toy and I didn't see any Tracksuit rejects kicking the crap out of you when I peeked over the- Oh, who are you?" A young girl, looking somewhere in her mid-teens, with dark hair and a purple t-shirt on top of ripped jeans, came bouncing down the steps off to the side, startling Bruce. An old habit of slowing his breathing kicked in and he began counting his heartbeats.
Clint (as he was apparently named) frowned down at the shorter girl, "I can take care of myself."
She raised an eyebrow but turned her attention back to Bruce. "Don't listen to him, he suffers from mild delusions. Did Clint trip and fall on you or something?" Ricky took this moment to gain attention again and barked playfully at the new arrival. A smile broke out across her face and she quickly knelt down to begin petting and stroking the dark fur of Ricky's coat. "Aren't you a cutie?" She laughed.
Bruce let go of Ricky's collar and stepped back again. Clint rolled his eyes. "No, Katie-Kate, I didn't trip on him. That mutt your cuddling smelled all the food we have on the roof and charged over me. He ate my pasta."
"Aw, are you hungry boy? What's his name?"
Focused as she was on Ricky she didn't see Bruce bite his bottom lip for a moment. "Ricky. His name is Ricky." Bruce glanced at the door. He felt bad for Ricky knocking Clint over, but Bruce was beginning to feel uncomfortable at the amount of attention he'd begun to receive.
Clint scratched the tip of his nose. Bruce saw how his forearm was wrapped in a thick bandage. "Yeah he's hungry, he ate my pasta, Kate. But I offered to take him and- uh...?" Blue eyes looked to him, and he found himself a little stunned. People were normally put off by how, well, shifty he looked when they finally got around to notcing him. These two seemed comfortable around him though, oddily enough.
Liking something and still being able to do it on a semi regular basses with a fair amount of success were completely different subjects. Those ideas applied to everything, and that includes lying. It's something Bruce hated to do but had become very adept at over the years. "My name is Joe, it's nice to meet you." As an after thought, he smiled. Hopefully how out of practice he was at it didn't show through too much.
"Hi Joe. Clint Barton. I offered to take Joe and Ricky up to the roof, but you kinda interrupted me getting an answer, Kate." He gently taps the toe of his sneakers against the soles of Kate's own (also, purple) sneakers.
Kate gave a scuff, her hand petting Ricky once more as she stood. "Yeah, like your total lack of ability to talk to any half decent person is my fault, Clint."
Clint, for his part, rolled his eyes and yet again scratched at the tip of his nose. "If I can barely talk to half decent people, Katie-Kate, how come I can talk to you just fine?"
Bruce blunk. Harshly worded as that had all been, he'd expected something of an angry retort from the young woman, yet all she did was shake her head and shove at the man's shoulders. "So are you comin' up?" Kate directed towards Bruce.
Unless you want us to starve, came the low growl.
Unknowingly (or not, Bruce was fairly sure the canine was a traitor of the highest sort by now) Ricky barked, backing up the Hulk's irritating statement. His ears, head and tail all maneuvered in ways to accentuate the full effect of the puppy eyes. The gamma expert sagged his shoulders minutely and gave a nod, hoping yet again that his smile didn't lack too much.
Clint grinned. "Cool. Uh, Kate, lead 'em up will you? I'm going to get the toy."
Kate waved at him, and quickly climbed a number of stairs before turning back around and saying, "Well, come on or all of that food is going to be gone!"
Ricky quickly padded up after her, and Bruce followed, his own attention divided between following the young woman, making sure he didn't step on the canines tail (even if the mutt might have deserved it for this recent stunt) and watching Clint walk out the front door. "Did he just say he was getting a toy?"
Kate continued climbing, occasionally reaching down to pat Ricky's furred head as she did so. "One of the kids dropped her doll over the edge. It's why Mr. Dork left the party." She smiled down at Ricky. "Good boy," she cooed.
The scientist observed the teen, noting how her arms seemed more muscled than what one would expect. Sport fanatic? Or is she just that into fitness?
Everybody looks dangerous to you, Puny Banner, growled Hulk, and Banner again ground his teeth together, forcibly keeping a polite smile on his face. Besides, the alter ego added, at least if anything does happen, it ain't 'cause they know about me.
"Okay, this looks bad," Clint muttered to himself, one hand pressed against his forehead while the other gripped the doll his lodger had dropped. Luckily there hadn't been much damaged caused to the plush doll, just a few dirt specks that the archer knew he could easily smack off on the way back up to the roof.
"Crap," he muttered again, slowly sighing as he brushed a few pebbles from the bright red hair. The red brought up memories of Natasha, and Natasha's sharply worded warning concerning his tendency to help people he came across in any kind of trouble, despite what they might have done to get into the situation in the first place. He winched. "Nat's going to kill me," he said, craning his neck to look up at the edge of the rooftop. "Scratch that, Kate is going to kill me."
S.H.I.E.L.D. hadn't alerted him to any sightings of one Doctor Bruce Banner, a.k.a. The Hulk, or Strike Team Delta for sure would have been sent out against the green giant again.
Clint lifted one foot and put it onto the first step of his building, and remembered how quickly Ricky had lapped up his poor pasta. Clint knew hungry, and Banner's dog and he definitely looked it. I should be calling it in, getting S.H.I.E.L.D. down here fast, but...
"Nat, why the hell did he save us?"
"Don't bother with it too much, Clint. We captured The Hulk, and now he can't hurt anyone while Dr. Samson looks for a cure, all right?"
"...Sure. Yeah, you're right."
Hawkeye stepped up into the apartment complex, choice made. He just hoped Kate took it easy on him (as unlikely as that scenario was ever going to be) when she found out.