“Heat loss is reduced due to the high voltage it’s transferred at because there’s less resistance. In fact at just twice the voltage, the power loss will be four times less. Then it can be decreased for safe use with a transformer.
“Of course we use an alternating current. It’d be different if Thomas Edison had his way…”
Bruce tailed off as he turned and found Thor staring at him. He waited for the god to say something but he just continued staring until Bruce shifted awkwardly.
“So, ah, that’s why the wires don’t get hot,” he muttered.
Thor snapped out of his reverie and Bruce cursed himself. Of course he’d gotten carried away with his scientific description and probably bored the god silly.
“Thank you Banner. I… I’m grateful for you spending so much time talking with me.”
Bruce nodded dispiritedly, recognising the subtext of too much time talking to me. Thor was running a hand over his head, clearly at a loss for what to say. Bruce decided he should put him out of his misery.
“I’ve gotta go do… some science… stuff.” He gestured vaguely and began to shuffle to the door wishing he wasn’t so awkward round the gorgeous man.
“Of course.” Thor nodded. “I too have much to do. I must…” he paused in thought, “practise my electrical transference.”
He smiled broadly at Bruce who flushed and looked to his feet.
Thor was just being friendly, teasing him about his lecture. He didn’t mean anything by it. Bruce managed to look up with a smile.
“See you later then,” he replied before fleeing for the sanctuary of his lab.
He just caught Thor saying ‘farewell friend-” before he was out of earshot.
He watched for a few seconds before realising he really should interrupt if they were going to get any work done. Besides which, he was curious.
“So… what did you do?”
Bruce pulled his head up to look at him.
“I mean are we talking get photographed naked in public or made a monster? I’m not judging.” He held his hands palm up. “After all we’ve both done that.”
Bruce dropped his head back down with a groan.
“I bored Thor this morning,” he mumbled. “He asked me about how the toaster worked and I started rambling on about the currents war of the 1800s.”
Stark took a seat and carefully concealed his sigh.
“You don’t bore him,” he said, not for the first time. “If you bored him he wouldn’t keep asking you stuff.”
He took a sip of his coffee and watched as Bruce finally sat himself up.
“That’s not the worst part though.”
“I went back to the kitchen for some coffee and he was still there so I…” He gripped his head in his hands and dropped it back down.
“Oh come on, It can’t have been that bad!”
“I showed him a magic trick,” he muttered.
“That doesn’t sound so bad. Was he impressed?”
“Tony!” Bruce yanked his head back to stare wide eyed at him. “I don’t know any magic tricks! Well… obviously I know one but it’s hardly good. Any kid knows how its done.”
“Well… Thor’s Asgardian. Perhaps they don’t have those types of tricks there.”
Tony moved quickly as it looked like Bruce was going to start banging his head again.
“He must think I’m such an idiot.”
“I’m sure he doesn’t.” Tony briefly gave Bruce a one armed hug. “Now, how about we blow some stuff up to turn that frown upside down huh? Who doesn’t enjoy a few good explosions?”
Bruce couldn’t stop the smile that pulled at the side of his mouth.
Natasha’s voice stopped him in his tracks and he waited for her to catch up with him.
She nodded as she drew alongside and they continued their journey.
“I was talking to Thor earlier.”
Bruce stumbled slightly.
“Yes. He was suggesting you might benefit from trying some new things.”
“New things?” Bruce frowned in confusion before remembering his imbecilic parlour trick and mind-numbing monologue. “He thinks I’m dull doesn’t he?”
“Not at all,” she said softly. “He thinks you might find some activities you’re good at. Things you can do as Bruce instead of the Hulk.”
“Oh god!” Bruce stopped in his tracks. “He thinks I’m a liability?”
“What? No!” She turned with a frown to face him. “He thinks you’re highly capable in your own right.”
“No he doesn’t,” he objected, turning from her and continuing to walk. “He thinks I’m useless. Hulk’s the powerful one.”
“Bruce.” Natasha gave a long suffering sigh. “He doesn’t think that. He particularly wanted to make sure no-one thought that.”
Bruce fell silent as he considered this before nodding slightly.
“I guess he’s right. I mean I don’t want to be a burden to you guys if ever Hulk’s out of action.”
“You’re not a burden,” Nat insisted. “No-one thinks that except you.”
He smiled at her.
“You’re sweet. Thank you.”
“Oh for love of…” She glared at him. “Just let me know if there’s anything you’d like to try alright? Piloting, hand-to-hand, whatever. OK?”
She shook her head exasperatedly and headed back to the gym.
Bruce opened his eyes to find Vision looking with concern at him.
“Hey. Just getting some sun.” He pulled himself into a sitting position and patted the ground next to him. “I sometimes spend so long in the lab I forget what season we’re even in.”
Vision took the implicit invitation and sat alongside.
“It is proven that humans require a certain amount of sunlight to produce the vitamin D necessary for calcium and phosphate production.”
“That’s what I like about you Vision. You talk my language.”
This statement seemed to puzzle his companion.
“I believed all the Avengers spoke the same language. Although I am aware several of them have alternate first languages. Black Widow and Thor, for example.”
“I meant you understood science,” Bruce explained before letting out a defeated sigh. “Thor certainly doesn’t appreciate half of what I say.”
“That seems unlikely,” Vision suggested.
Bruce huffed out a laugh.
“I’m not saying he’s stupid. Far from it. He’s so much more intelligent than people seem to realise. He’s knows what an Einstein-Rosen bridge is for a start.” Bruce couldn’t help but smile. “But that doesn’t mean he wants a ten minute lecture on electronics.”
“That logic is sound, however I do not see the relevance of electronics to an Einstein-Rosen bridge.”
Bruce turned with a smile to Vision.
“And that’s exactly my point.”
He clapped Vision on the shoulder and headed back inside, leaving a very confused android in his wake.
She looked up from her book and smiled as Bruce hovered alongside the sofa. Putting her reading aside she shifted to make room for him.
“Thank you. It’s not a patch on yours.”
He smiled at her compliment and ducked his head awkwardly. She watched as he relaxed back into the cushions.
“Are you coming to the party tonight?”
He jerked upright again.
“Well, more of a friendly get together,” she clarified. She could see him beginning to shake his head and quickly added. “Thor’s putting it together.”
He hesitated but then shook his head again.
“It’s probably not a good idea. Nobody will be happy if the Other Guy puts in an appearance. Least of all me.”
Wanda pulled herself upright to look him in the eye.
“You think you’re the only one who could ruin the evening if you lose control?”
“Oh Wanda, I didn’t mean…” he stopped with a frustrated huff as he considered her.
She decided to press her momentary advantage.
“I love hanging out with you and Thor, because I know if ever I do lose control, you both have the strength to rein me in.”
He reached over and grasped her hand.
“I know. I know. It’s always comforted me to know Thor… and you… will prevent me getting carried away.”
He resolutely met her eyes and they shared a moment of understanding before he released her hand and tangled his own together as he looked away.
“But it’s not just about that.”
She waited as he obviously debated saying anything.
“I sort of have a history with alcoholics,” he blurted out suddenly. “And I’m not always comfortable in that sort of environment. I-”
She quickly grabbed his hand again and waited as he met her eyes.
“I understand.” She smiled sadly. “We’ll all miss you but if you’re going to be uncomfortable then I’m sure none of us would want to put you in that situation.”
He took a calming breath before nodding at her with a smile.
They held hands a moment longer before he coughed awkwardly and stood.
“Well. Guess I’ll go barricade myself in the lab then.”
He’d almost reached the lift before Wanda called out to him.
“If you change your mind…” He glanced back curiously. “We’d all be glad to see you.”
However the partially wrecked living room wasn’t entirely deserted.
Pepper stood giving brisk instructions to the various machines Stark had designed to clean up after him which frankly were worth their weight in gold.
“Hey Pepper. Good party?”
She started at his voice and spun around before recognising him.
“Bruce. What are you doing up? I thought you’d have gone to bed hours ago.”
He picked his way over.
“I got caught up in some experiments. You know what it’s like when you find a promising avenue to explore. I decided to call it a night though when I started seeing two spinner machines.”
He chuckled and briefly pulled off his glasses to rub his eyes.
“You should get to bed.”
“I’m on my way,” he assured her with a smile. “But was the party good? Did everyone have a good time?”
“Yeah. I think so. They missed you of course.”
He smiled indulgently but didn’t rise to the bait.
“I’m glad,” he said instead. “I wouldn’t have wanted Thor’s party to be a bust.”
“He was sorry you didn’t come,” Pepper added but Bruce just yawned.
“Sorry,” he muttered. “Guess I really am sleepy.”
She began to escort him towards his room.
“Come on. Let’s make sure you don’t fall down asleep somewhere you shouldn’t. Speaking of which…” she patted her pockets and then pulled out her phone. “Want to see something cute?”
She didn’t wait for a reply but held the phone screen up for him to see. He stopped and blinked as he saw what it showed – Thor, asleep, curled up cuddling a cushion.
“Tony and Rhodey had to suit up to move him,” she commented but Bruce wasn’t paying much attention.
“He looks so beautiful,” he murmured.
They stood in silence until Bruce felt a wave of vertigo and swayed. Pepper quickly slipped her phone away and caught his arm.
“That’s enough excitement for you today,” she told him as she pushed him into motion again. They made it stumbling to his door before he looked up at her appealingly.
“Will you send me that picture?”
She patted his shoulder.
“First thing in the morning, if you’re a good little scientist and get yourself to bed.”
He blushed at the maternal tone.
“Night Pepper. And thanks.”
As it was, he found Bruce hadn’t even started setting up the equipment. He was sat on a stool, staring at his phone screen. His intense look was enough to concern Stark.
“Bruce? Everything alright? No bad news I trust?”
Bruce jumped and hastily shoved his phone away.
“Tony. I didn’t expect you to crawl out of bed so soon.” He smirked across the room.
Tony glared back and wondered about pressing the issue with the phone before deciding to save it for when he was more awake.
“I may have had a few glasses,” he conceded. “But I know my limits. I’m just not used to sitting up ‘til 3 anymore.”
“I heard you had to put Thor to bed.”
“Pepper told you huh? Yeah, he crashed out like a puppy and wouldn’t wake for love nor money.”
“I’m glad he had a good time.”
“A good time? He spent most of the evening talking about you. Wondering where you were, what you were doing.”
Bruce turned his attention onto getting the day’s experiments ready.
“I must seem like such a miserable hermit to him.”
“No. That’s not it. He knows you don’t like crowds. Especially ones that have been drinking.”
Bruce shot Tony a look of betrayal.
“He knows about that? Great! Now he’s going to be awkward round me.”
“Hey!” Tony stalked over. “You’re not the only one with alcoholism in your past. And you know what? It doesn’t make either of us weak. It shows we’re strong to have moved on. And at least what happened to you wasn’t your fault. Me? I was totally to blame.”
“That’s not true-”
“That’s not important now,” Tony interrupted. “The point is, Thor values us for who we are now. Two devilishly handsome science gods. Am I right?”
Tony held his hand up for a hi five.
Bruce quivered a second before his face broke into a smile and he raised his hand too. Tony slapped their hands together before nodding decisively.
“Right. Let’s make some magic.”
Bruce shook his head fondly and continued organising the test tubes. Tony let out a relieved sigh.
Then Bruce spoke again.
“I’d hardly say we can justify the term science ‘gods’. Thor’s a god. And he’s pretty obviously divine.”
Tony’s next sigh was very much not relieved.
His friend said nothing until he had caught Bruce by the shoulders and started propelling him out of the lab.
“You are coming with me because I simply can’t stand this dancing around anymore.”
“What? But Tony… my sample-”
“Can wait!” Stark cut in firmly with a glare. “Right now, you are coming with me.”
Bruce felt his pulse start to race as he imagined what might have happened to prompt this urgency.
Was there a code green? Wouldn’t Tony have said that by now? What had he said? He couldn’t stand him any longer?
Bruce felt his breath catch and his heart pound. Tony couldn’t be throwing him out could he? His panic only increased as he saw he was being pushed into the kitchen where a very confused looking god was sat.
He was almost grateful to be shoved into a seat because his knees seemed decidedly wobbly.
“Right,” Tony declared. “I am sick of listening to Bruce here bemoaning how out of his league you are while you’re busy bending everyone’s ear about how great Bruce is. I have spent my entire morning reassuring him that you don’t think he’s an antisocial, awkward recluse and I am not about to spend my afternoon reassuring you you’re not too dumb for him!”
Tony stared hard at each of them.
“You are going to sit here and talk to each other for a change.”
He released Bruce’s shoulders and stepped back, still alert for the possibility of the scientist bolting. For a long moment no-one moved or said anything. Then Bruce blurted.
“You like me?”
It seemed impossible yet surely Tony wouldn’t have said that to the god unless…
“Greatly,” Thor admitted to Bruce’s amazement. “I was unsure if you…” he trailed off awkwardly and Bruce rushed to reassure him.
“I like you too.”
Thor grinned and it was like feeling the sun after an arctic winter.
“Then you’ll come on a date with me? Tonight?”
“I’d love to.” Bruce smiled back excitedly before reality struck him and he glanced nervously to Tony. “I do really need to get back to that experiment now though. If I leave that sample out of containment too long-”
“What?” Tony snapped upright. “You didn’t say you had radioactive materials lying about the lab!”
“You didn’t-” Bruce began to protest before Tony grabbed his arm and hauled him back out of the room.
“I’ll pick you up!” Thor called after them.
Bruce jogged along after Tony until they got to the lift. Then he stared bemusedly at his friend.
“Did Thor really just ask me on a date?”
“He sure did.”
Bruce grinned back before suddenly seizing up in terror.
“Oh my god! I have literally nothing to wear!”
Tony rolled his eyes.
“Fine. Soon as we make sure you haven’t contaminated my lab, we’ll raid my wardrobe.” He smiled across. “We’ll have you looking like a god yet.”
Happiness. He felt happy.
Thor liked him. They’d gone on a date. And then… well. Bruce smiled to himself.
He rolled over and found the bed empty of Asgardian gods.
A disappointed frown pulled at his face and he sat up to look around.
Surely Thor wouldn’t have left him left him?
He reluctantly pulled himself from bed and grabbed a pair of sweatpants that were lying about. They were slightly too big on him but he’d long since stopped worrying about that sort of thing. They’d do.
He headed determinedly for the kitchen, knowing he’d find someone there even if not the god. As he approached he heard shocked noises before Thor’s voice carried out to him.
“He does this thing with his tongue…”
The tone indicated Thor was far from disappointed with events and Bruce let out a sigh before quickly interrupting.
The god’s eyes lit up at the sight of him which lifted his spirits. Bruce said nothing else but clasped his arm and pulled him determinedly from the room.
It was only as they were out of earshot that he spoke again.
“Firstly Thor, I’d appreciate it if you didn’t discuss our sex life in so much detail with others.”
“Secondly,” Bruce spoke over him. “It’s generally considered rude to leave a new lover’s bed without any acknowledgement in the morning.”
Thor looked crest fallen.
“I did not mean to offend,” he offered.
Bruce pushed him into the room and then crowded him back towards the bed.
“Thirdly,” he purred. “I don’t believe we finished getting to know one another, did we?”
Thor’s expression lit up.
“No, we did not,” he agreed before catching Bruce round the waist and dropping them both down onto the mattress.