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Strongest Avenger, Bravest Avenger

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It started innocently enough.

Thor’s so powerful and strong. His arms are so muscly he could topple a tree with his bare hands.

Stuck on the Asgardian refugee ship for about a month so far, Bruce had had more time to consider his slightly eccentric godly friend than he ever really had before.

He could lift me in the air like I were a flower.  Hell, he could pick up the other guy if he really wanted to.

Back when they were on Earth, as Avengers, he’d always liked Thor, but thought that they didn’t have much in common.  Bruce was a scientist, he wasn’t too great socially, he spent all his time trying to stay calm, stay harmless, keep himself from going green.  Thor embraced his power in battle, used his rage as a tool when needed. 

His new hair’s nice.  It suits him short. He scoffed.  I don’t really think there’d be any hairstyle that would look bad on Thor. 

The haircut had subtly changed the way that Bruce saw him, though.  Even though Thor had finally assumed his role as king, the short hair seemed less regal to Bruce, helped him see his friend as kind and clever man he was, rather than the brash man of legend that Bruce had first been introduced to.

Is it possible that having an eyepatch suits him? It makes his eye seem even more bright and blue, the same color as his lightning.

Bruce did a double take at his own thoughts.  Thor was attractive, sure, anyone could see that. 

I mean, I’m not exactly sure what the beauty standards are on Miek or Korg’s planets, but I’m pretty sure that amongst fleshy humanoid species, Thor being attractive is just an objective fact.

But there was something about the way that he felt around Thor nowadays, like it he was a ray of light brightening Bruce’s day as soon as he entered the room.  Bruce couldn’t remember feeling that way before, not since his college days when he’d make any old excuse to go and see Betty, and feel a little more cheerful for a few hours after.

Oh. That’s what this is.

So, he had a crush.  Bruce realised it would be silly to ignore the evidence and deny it but he still wasn’t sure whether he had romantic feelings for Thor.  Could you have a platonic crush?  Bruce was sure such a thing was possible but given the frequency with which his thoughts returned to Thor’s arms, Thor’s eye, Thor’s voice, Bruce had to conclude that it wasn’t just friendship he was feeling.

Have I always been attracted to men? Is it just Thor?

Bruce had never really considered it before.  He’d avoided romance until Betty found her way into his life, and then totally avoided any thoughts of love after the other guy made his first appearance.  With Natasha he had finally let himself consider love again. Nat had made him feel like less of a threat, less like he was something to run from.  In all his life Bruce had never really been given a moment of rest, a moment to think about himself rather than his father, his research, his safety or his team.  Since they left in this ship, it had been quiet, left Bruce with more free time than he had ever had in his life.  Sure, he made himself busy by learning about space, helping Thor and the Asgardians where he could, but there was no overloading pressure forcing his thoughts away from himself.

Bruce would eat with Thor most days, spending their evening meals together in Thor’s room, often joined by Val, Heimdall, Loki or some other friend of Thor’s.  Since Bruce became himself again after Ragnarok, Thor has been taking a real interest in Banner, asking him about his research back on Earth, his interest, all things that they had never really gotten the opportunity to discuss on Earth.  Bruce thought that Thor was just trying his best to make up for asking the Hulk to join the fray at Asgard, feeling bad that he’d wanted Banner to lose himself in battle, not knowing whether he’d be able to make it back.  Bruce assured Thor time and time again that it was his decision to fight that enormous wolf thing, and Thor should stop apologizing when he wasn’t at fault but Thor would persist, holding Banner’s hand and telling him profusely how much he had come to value him in the past month.  Bruce was sure he had blushed at that.

For the week after Bruce realised his feelings for Thor were more than just amicable, he set about collecting evidence, just to be sure.  That’s how he justified it, at least.  When Thor walked passed his people to assume his throne every day, Bruce would note how his heart rate elevated.  When they brushed hands passing cutlery over dinner, Bruce noticed how his fingers felt inexplicably warm where they touched.  

One day Bruce was sitting across the room from Thor as he was giving council to some of his people.  Bruce was zoning out, listening to Thor and wondering whether there was a way of measuring whether his pupils were dilating, when he felt the bench he was on lower significantly due to the weight of Korg, who had just sit down next to him. 

“Hi, Bruce!”

“Hi, Korg,” he replied, smiling slightly at the gentle giant.

“Appreciating the king, I see,”

“I – What? No, I –“ Bruce was taken aback.  He knew he was attracted to Thor but he hadn’t quite thought that it was this obvious.  He tried looking out the window, at the stars, trying to make it not seem as though he had been staring at Thor for several minutes.

“- Not really my type, personally, I prefer my men to be a bit crumbly, have nice, good jagged edges on their shoulders but I can see the appeal.” Korg didn’t seem to have noticed Bruces interruption. “Thor’s very strong and he’s got big eyebrows.”   Bruce was intrigued by the things that Korg found attractive in men, but thought better of asking about it.

After that, Bruce became worried that his attraction to Thor was becoming too obvious, that it would lead to awkwardness between them.  Sure, he’d figured out that he was attracted to Thor, but that didn’t mean that Thor would ever return his feelings.  Probability would suggest that Thor was probably not attracted to men.  And if he was attracted to men, there was no reason to think that Bruce was his type.

Bruce’s thoughts shifted a little after a rather funny, if awkward, conversation with Valkyrie and Loki.  Bruce had been talking about his friends back home, about Tony, and how far he’d come over the past 10 years.  He mentioned how he used to be a famous womanizer, a ladies’ man, and was now in a committed relationship with a woman he adored, and Valkyrie interrupted him.  She was confused by what he meant by ‘Ladies’ man’.  Bruce explained, talked about how Tony had liked lots of women, and lots of women liked Tony.  Valkyrie didn’t understand, Tony only bedded women? Why not men as well, didn’t they like him?  Loki made a comment about Midgardians being narrow minded and not open to different kinds of pleasure, and for once, Bruce found himself somewhat in agreement.  

It seemed that Asgardians gave little thought to the gender of their potential lovers.  And Thor was an Asgardian, so, it was possible - probable, even – that Thor thought about things the same way.

Somehow, knowing this made Bruce even more anxious in his interactions with Thor.  Theoretically, he could ask Thor out, that would be the course of action that would most likely result in him and Thor actually becoming romantically involved.  And, knowing Thor, the worst-case scenario would be Thor consoling him and telling him that they should just remain friends. Theoretically, Bruce knew his next step, but it was so difficult in practice to act on his feelings. 

“Then it turned out Heimdall had been watching us the whole time, of course, so there was no use in lying to father – “ Thor was recalling another childhood story to Bruce over dinner.  They were eating alone again, and despite Thor’s wonderfully animating actions and voice to match, Bruce was zoning out again, just screaming to himself This is your chance, you could tell him how you feel now

“So then we had to explain why I had been fighting some giant’s grandmother and why the sea levels had dropped -  Banner, are you alright? I don’t think I’ve seen you blink in some minutes.” He looked concerned.

Bruce jumped to attention upright in his seat, making a ‘ummmhmm’ noise of agreement and nodding.  He tried to push his glasses higher up his nose but in his frantic movement he snapped one of the hinges back, causing them to fall down his face.

“Don’t worry,” said Thor with a smile, bending down to pick the glasses up.  He twisted the screw of the hinge a little, fixing the mechanism.  He reached over to Bruce’s face, placing the glasses over his nose, and gently tucking the ends around his ears.  His hands lingered over the skin of Bruce’s cheek, almost as though he was admiring his work, admiring me, Bruce thought.  “All better now, Banner.”

There was something in the way Thor was looking at him, the way that the focus of Thor’s remaining eye flickered between Bruce’s, that gave Bruce courage.  He leant forward, capturing Thor’s lips in a soft kiss.  He was about to pull away when Thor shifted his hands to the back of Bruce’s head, pulling him closer, kissing him back, soft but with purpose.  Thor’s kisses were addictive, tasting so unfamiliarly masculine, so undefinably of Thor that Bruce found it difficult to break the kiss once they had started.  He tried to deepen the kiss, but as he did his glasses jarred with the bridge of Thor’s nose, making them both jump back.

“Bruce,” Thor murmured, taking Bruce’s glasses off as gently as he had put them on. 

“I think that’s the first time you’ve called me ‘Bruce’” He smiled at Thor, disbelieving that he had been this lucky.

He laughed softly to Banner and pulled him in for another kiss. He pushed them back, edging to the back of Bruce’s seat as he deepened the kiss, brushing Bruce’s lips with his tongue. They were lost in each other for a moment, before Thor pulled away.

“I must admit, Bruce. I have had feelings for you for quite some time, but I never imagined that you would be the one to act on them.  I may be the strongest Avenger,” He gave a cheeky smile, centimetres from Bruce’s lips.  “But you are the bravest.”