Bruce sat alone at the island in the kitchen, eating his breakfast, if you can really call eating food at one in the afternoon breakfast. He unfolds the paper and reads his horoscope for Sagittarius, it says: 'Love is written for you in the stars Sagittarius. You will find love in an unexpected place today. This may seem strange, but just go with it Sagittarius, this may be your true love.' Bruce scoffs at how unlikely it is he will ever find love. Bruce takes the last bite of toast between his teeth and gulps down the remainder of his orange juice and goes on about the rest of his day. An hour of meditation and yoga to focus his mind, and a quick shower before Tony finds him and steals away for the day to work in his lab. Tony and Bruce had been hard at work redesigning Jarvis' security protocols and upping the mainframe with some rather nasty virus programs that would activate if a hacker tried to get in, taking all their information and wiping out their network before alerting the authorities to their whereabouts. Bruce had just finished the last line of the defense program and glanced at his watch. Six hours. Six hours he had been tinkering around in the lab, helping Tony get the program just right. He stood to leave as he finished up.
"Leaving so soon Doc?", Tony glanced up at him from behind the arm of the newest Ironman suit he was working on.
"Bruce takes his glasses off and rubs the bridge of his nose before placing them back on, "We've been down here for six hours Tony. I'm done for tonight. You should at least take a break, maybe see if you can find Steve to hang out with for awhile." Bruce turns to leave but stops, turning back to tony and adding, "There's still so much you haven't taught him yet. Much more I'm sure you could traumatize him with. Has he seen the movie 'Dahmer' yet?"
Tony goes slack jawed for a moment before a wicked grin tugs at the corners of his mouth, "You... you are an evil genius. Truly diabolical Banner." He puts away his tools and leaves to find Steve.
Bruce is sore from sitting for so long, he stretches and rubs his neck, trying to decide what to do next. He opts to get some fresh air and heads to the roof to be alone. He is startled to see Barton up there already, laying on the asphalt gazing at the stars. Bruce feels his heart quicken at the site of the archer, his curiosity peaked.
"Clint?" Bruce's voice is a soft, sweet song that shakes Clint out of the cosmic spell the stars hold over him. His name sounds foreign to himself, Bruce is the only man who bothers to use it anymore, and the archer doesn't even flinch to so much as look to who's calling his name.
Clint inhales the crisp air, padding the space next to him as he speaks, "Hey Freckles. Come join me."
Anyone else but Clint referring to him as Freckles, would cause Bruce to become overly annoyed. Somehow though, it just seemed... right, oddly comforting in a way that Bruce had never expected. Tony had called him that before, mockingly in an attempt to ruffle him. When Clint said it, there was no malice behind it, no intent on trying to stir the beast within him. It was just simply an observation, and if Bruce wasn't mistaken, he thought he heard a tone something a kin to fondness, whenever the younger man spoke it.
Bruce allowed himself a quick,fleeting smile, before sinking down in the spot beside his friend, acquaintance really. Bruce felt he hadn't yet spent enough time with Clint, gotten to know the man on less of a superficial level. "So, what brings you out here tonight?"
Clint pulled two arrows from his quiver beside him and handed them to Bruce, "Just testing a few of my new arrows. I designed a sonic shock arrow, and improved my grappling arrow for increased range and made it reusable."
Bruce looked them both over and marveled at the sophisticated design, "You... you made these?" Bruce's voice sounded more shocked then he had meant it to be.
Clint shrugged, "Yeah, no big deal. Look I may not be a genius like you or Stark, but I got a brain too ya know."
Bruce sat up, throwing his hands up in defense and looking down at his team-mate, "I'm sorry. I didn't mean-"
Clint sits up and cuts him off, "So kay, I was just messing with you a bit there Doc. You... well the other you, Hulk, he's the only one who doesn't view me as inadequate. I'm used to it."
"I don't think you're inadequate. I think you're a very smart man, and perhaps the bravest of us. You'd have to be to do what you do everyday. I hold you in high regard Clint."
Clint sat up to look Bruce right in the eyes. He was sincere and that made Clint a little uneasy, unsure of how to respond, not use to people
actually believing in him and praising him. "Uh, thanks. So, um, yeah, I tested a few of my arrows and thought I'd spend some time looking at the stars. My older brother and I used to do that when we were little."
Bruce found himself becoming interested in the other man again. Clint had never talked about his childhood, much less even mention he had a brother, but Bruce was a man who valued privacy, so he didn't press him for more info. Instead, he clears his throat and asks him when his birthday is.
Clint is slightly reluctant to answers, but is curious to know why Bruce asked and figured if he really wanted to know, he could simply look it up in the files anyway, "January 7th." Clint responds as he looks off into the skyline.
"Capricorn." Bruce responds to clint's answer.
Clint looks confused, "I'm sorry, what?"
Bruce blushes slightly, his right hand reaching up to self consciously scratch his cheek. "Capricorn, the sea-goat, it's your astrological sign."
"Sea-goat? Is that even a thing? Isn't it just a regular old goat?"
"Yes and no,"
See those group of stars over there, just above the left corner of that billboard? The ones that almost look like they form a triangle? That's your birth sign, Capricorn." Bruce pointed int general direction of the stars and Clint nodded.
Bruce replies and begins to tell Clint the story behind the constellation, "In Greek mythology, Chronos, the god of time, created the first sea-goat, Pricus and shared his ability to manipulate time with him. Pricus was the father of the ancient race of the immortal sea-goats, they were intelligent and could think and speak. He had many children, but his children were drawn away from the safety of the seas to the shores of man. They'd use their front legs to pull themselves up onto shore, but the longer they stayed on land, the more they evolved into the goats we know today. They lost their fish tails and grew hind legs, and lost their ability to think and speak, and would lose their immortality. Pricus weeps for the lost of his children and uses his power to shift back in time in attempt to stop his children from becoming mindless creatures. However, no matter how many times he goes back and pleads with them to stay away from the shore, his children are always doomed to be lured in by it. Eventually, Pricus resigns himself to his loneliness, no longer trying to reverse time in an attempt to stop his children, instead choosing to let his children live their own lives and achieve their own destiny. Pricus is consumed by despair and begs Chronos to let him die, as he can no longer bear to be the only sea-goat left. Chronos takes pity on the sea-goat and instead places him up in the night sky as a constellation, so that he can live out his immortality in the sky, as what we now refer to as Capricorn, keeping watch over his children from near and far."
"I never knew the stories behind them. Heck, Barn and I could never even figure out how to find the constellations. So what's yours?"
Bruce figured Barn must be Clint's brother, he stored that information and responded, pointing just to the other side of Capricorn, "Mine's Sagittarius, the archer." Bruce laughed a little, "I know, would've made more sense if you were the archer and I was the old goat. See those group of stars over there that resemble a tea pot? That's actually the archer. Sagittarius represents the immortal centaur Chiron. Most of the centaurs were regarded in myth as bestial, they were, after all, half horse. However, the ancient Greeks had a great deal of respect for the horse, and so were reluctant to make the centaurs entirely bad. In fact, Chiron was renowned for his gentleness. He was an excellent archer, musician, and physician, and tutored the likes of Achilles, Jason, and Hercules. Chiron, however, was accidentally shot and wounded by Hercules. The arrow, which had been dipped in the poison of the Lernaean Hydra, inflicted great suffering on Chiron, so great, in fact, that even the talented doctor could not cure himself. In agony, but as an immortal unable to find release in death, Chiron instead offered himself as a substitute for Prometheus. The gods had punished Prometheus for giving fire to man by chaining him to a rock. Each day an eagle would devour his liver, and each night it would grow back. Zeus, however, had at the request of Hercules agreed to release Prometheus if a suitable substitute could be found. Chiron gave up his immortality and went to Tartarus in place of Prometheus; in recognition of this act, Zeus placed him in the stars."
Clint smiled, "Chiron kinda sounds a lot like you Doc." and then Clint's smile turned to a deep frown, "My brother Barney would've loved to hear these stories. Who knew the stars were as tortured as us. Ya wanna know the real reason why we spent so many nights starring up at the stars." Clint didn't let Bruce respond, it was more of a statement than a question, "We'd go out and hide in the woods behind our house, trying to get away from our father and nurse our wounds."
Clint took a deep breathe, the icy September air piercing his lungs as he continued. All the while Bruce sat in awe waiting, like it was the best damn thing he'd ever hear, "Guess he thought whatever he was chasing at the bottom of a bottle was more important than us. But Barn would try his best to protect me from it. First chance he saw, he'd grab me and we'd run and hide in those woods, just starring at those stars. Wondering if somewhere, sometime things would get better, and come morning, they always did. Dad had passed out and turned into a freakin' saint, buttering momma up and trying to buy our love back with stupid shit like toys or candy."
"I'm sorry," Clint apologized, "You don't wanna hear this shit. Just... just forget it. I don't want things getting weird between us now. Don't want you seeing me as some lost little boy. I, I can't have that. I can't have you, and 'him' thinking of me like that."
Bruce grabbed Clint's hand, before the archer could stand up to run away, "I wasn't always like this you know. Him and I, we- he, he didn't use to exist. Everyone just assumes I created him, that I'm his 'father'. But the truth is, he's my 'brother', he was born out of an experiment my father performed on me as a child. My father feared me and tried to kill me, to kill us. And my mother-" Bruce blinked back the tears and tried to keep his voice from wavering, "My mother gave her life to protect me from him."
Bruce's hand is still gripping Clint's, and Clint squeezes firmly, letting Bruce know, he is there for him. Clint feels a spark between them. Maybe it's love. Maybe it's just shared anguish. But Clint definitely feels a bond between himself and the scientist. He leans over, grasping Bruce's jaw and pulling him in for a sweet, lingering kiss that makes Bruce's head spin.
Bruce hasn't allowed himself to love in such a long time, he panics and springs to his feet, "I, uh- I should go, it's getting late." And before Clint can even protest or apologize, he's already gone and racing towards his bedroom. His heart pounding. The Hulk on the verge of taking over. He can hear Hulk's amused voice, 'Cupid likes you. I like Cupid. Puny Banner should be with Cupid, then Hulk can be with Cupid too.'
Bruce reaches his room, just in time to retreat into his mid and appear before Hulk, "No. No. No. You're wrong. He- he doesn't like me like that. That was- I don't know what that was, but you're wrong. And even if you weren't, it doesn't work like that. You can't just force yourself into a relationship with him. He has to have a right to choose who he wants to be with."
Hulk snarls his disapproval at Banner's words.
"Fine. Fine. In the off chance you're right, and he does like me, and we were to become closer... if he wants to be with you too, I'd share him. But only with you. And only if he consents. I know people see you as a monster, but you're far from it, and certainly not that kinda of monster."
Hulk nods in agreement and goes to sleep, leaving Banner to lay in bed, replaying his roof-top rendezvous with Clint, until he finally drifts off to sleep.