"Banner, please. It's beautiful out, we cannot give up the chance to enjoy the water." Thor pleaded. Bruce sighed behind his book.
"It's really not." Bruce said, peeking out at the mostly cloudy sky.
Tony had rented out a row of beach houses for them, for a week of 'fun'. Tony, Pepper, Peter, and even Stephen, were staying in the first house. It was a mystery how he had gotten the wizard to come along.
Well, not really. It was a mystery how they were being quiet enough with their weird threesomes to get away with it while Peter was just in the other room. Maybe Stephen was warping them away somewhere. He just knew Tony hadn't wanted Peter with Thor and himself after Thor tried to give Peter beer. Twice.
Steve, Bucky, Natasha, Vision and Wanda were in the other house. Steve and Bucky has not been a surprise when, during one of Buckys late night terrors, the screams turned to cries for a certain man. Steve never slept in his own room again. After that, they could be seen giving quiet appreciation, touching hands, and gentle kisses in the early morning that Bruce pretended not to see before making an unnecessary amount of noise coming into the room.
Natasha and Wanda were... another story. He was caught completely off guard, when one day he came back to the compound earlier than everyone else and they were making out fiercely, with Nat in Wanda's lap and her hands in her hair.
Vision sat beside them, just running hands through Wanda's hair. He had said something about being asexual before. Apparently he was fine with sharing his partner as well. Bruce just nodded, and waved at them before escaping.
The only ones who hadn't had any real relationship change after the war was... Thor, and himself. And in Tony's mind, that meant they had to have the last house to themselves and not just each take a couch in Tony's ridiculously large rented house, because they wouldn't have to "be around the make out sessions". The problem being, Tony had no idea Bruce was smitten with Thor.
It had just sort of happened, after being together on the space ship and coming back to earth. He saw how sweet the king was with his peoples children, how kind with the parents. How he settled arguments and calmed nerves. How he was such a good person, bearing the weight of his world.
He had walked in on Thor once, quietly mourning, a few tears falling down his face. He sat down beside him and patted his hand, and surprisingly, Thor had taken it completely and laid his head on Bruce's shoulder without uttering a word. He was sure as he felt his whole body warm and a small smile grace his face that it was the moment when he started to have a problem.
"Banner? Are you listening? I've never seen a dolphin up close. Do you think I may see one today?" Thor asked. Bruce took off his glasses and rubbed his eyes.
"To be honest, I highly doubt you'll see a dolphin here, but feel free to go look." Bruce said. Thor nodded and disappeared into the other room. Bruce took a breath, thinking he may finally get to finish his book, when a pair of swim shorts was held out to him.
"Tony left this apparel to be worn into the water. You should get dressed at once. The sky is starting to cloud over, and it isn't me causing it. I would hate to miss our opportunity." Thor said. Bruce sighed but he couldn't help but start to chuckle.
"Alright, I give up. Go get dressed." Bruce said, closing his book and taking the shorts. Thor muttered some form of success under his breath and trotted off towards his bedroom. Bruce chuckled and headed to his room as well.
"Come on Banner!" Thor yelled, running down the beach.
His ponytail bounced and his muscles practically rippled under his skin. Bruce couldn't help admiring it, as Thor ran into the water. He stopped around his knee depth and bent over, before sitting back up, hands on his hips.
"That is brisk!" He yelled back, ridiculously large smile on his face. Bruce actually laughed, which in turn made Thor positively beam. The next thing he knew, Thor was running towards him, and Bruce didn't have time to brace himself before Thor was sweeping him off his feet and running towards the waves.
"Cannon ball!" Thor yelled, toppling over as he got as deep as he could while holding him. Bruce laughed, despite being shocked by the freezing water. It was the end of summer, on a mostly cloudy day. What did he expect?
"You know that's not how you do a cannonball right?" Bruce asked. Thor shrugged as well as he could while staying afloat. That's when Bruce realized he was in fact, floating.
"Tony told me to yell it when I jump in a body of water." Thor said. Bruce nodded, distracted.
"What's the matter?" Thor asked.
"Hold your breath." Bruce said quickly, just in time for a larger wave to break right on them. They both popped up, somewhat stunned.
"Thor, we're too far out. The current is going to carry us out into the ocean. We need to get closer to the shore- another one." Bruce warned. This one was stronger, and he felt Thors leg hit him. As he came up, he realized with horror that Thor was even further out then a moment ago.
"A large strand of sea leaves wrapped themselves around my feet!" Thor chuckled.
"Thor, can you swim back?" Bruce asked, starting to try to backstroke.
Thor started to try, but another wave came, and Bruce watched as it sucked him out further as he tried to go forward. He didn't even hold his breath, too horrified by the thought of what was happening.
As the wave hit him, water filled his eyes and ears, and he struggled to breach again. When he did, he coughed, and looked around. Thor was struggling against what was apparently a hard current under him, because he was paddling hard. He was starting to look nervous, coughing and sputtering.
"Just hang on! I'll..." Bruce stopped.
No one was there. Tony and his housemates had gone to a casino. Peter had been excited to be able to get in under age. Steve and his housemates had gone to the boardwalk to shop and sight see. They weren't around either. Bruce knew he wasn't a strong enough swimmer. He couldn't get to him in time.
"Thor, can you... can you manipulate the water? Or something?" Bruce called. Thor shook his head, not able to answer, as he kept getting sucked under.
"I'll get to you! Don't panic!" Bruce called.
"Bruce-" Thor gurgled, before submerging once more. Thunder rumbled above him and a deep feeling of terror engulfed him as he realized Thor wasn't coming back up.
"S-Shit!" Bruce swore, looking around frantically.
Another wave crested over him, and he sputtered as he went under and came back up, starting to hyperventilate. He tried to dive, and he kicked frantically, but when he came up he realized he didn't have a clue how far Thor could be out now. He was just gone. Where was he? He couldn't-
"Hulk! Come on out! You have to. Come on." Bruce yelled, straining his muscles. Another wave hit him and he physically felt the green guy growling at him as he resurfaced.
"Please!" Bruce yelled, looking at his fingertips turning green, before the voice ripped out of him.
"Please! Don't you see how I feel?! There's no one around! It's not a fight! You just have to save him! Please!" Bruce begged, tears springing to his already salty eyes. As he went under another wave, his mind was overtaken, and he lost control.
Green muscle ripped through him, as his bones popped, and suddenly Hulk was there, able to touch the bottom. He walked forward and dove, flailing until he hit a large object. He pushed off the bottom and breached, holding the god in his arm. He was unconscious already.
Hulk pushed back towards the shore, something stopping him. Thor was attached to the bottom. He yanked him up, and startled straining against the current, but not as much as Bruce had. As he walked up the shore, he dropped Thor on the beach, and started to give up control. He didn't want to be out. As soon as Bruce started to take over though, he stopped him.
"H-Help him. Carefully." Bruce said, voice still distorted a bit.
Their skin was tinted green but not completely. They were both conscious, just for a few moments. Hulk raised a fist over Thors stomach, and Bruce steadied him. Combined, they threw down their fist on him.
Thor convulsed and rolled over, spitting water. Somehow, Hulk took back full control instantly. He crouched over him and waited until he seemed to be breathing normally, before turning him onto his back and picking up the blondes head in his palm.
"Small god ok?" He grunted.
Thor struggled for a moment to answer, before just nodding. Almost hesitantly, he brushed the sandy hair off of Thors forehead, and Thor patted his hand weakly, trying to give him a smile. Hulk, seeming satisfied, gave up control, and started to shift. As he shrank, Bruce began to appear, straddling Thor, completely naked, with Thors head still in his hand.
He breathed hard, trying not to panic, but it was difficult. He knew Thor was drowning, then he punched his stomach, probably not the best idea. Then he was here. He realized he was shaking, but he couldn't stop it. The mixture of cold wind picking up and his anxiety was too much.
He sucked in a breath as Thors hand found its way to his back, and held him as they laid there. If anyone were to come back and see them it would look like quite the scene, but Bruce couldn't find it in himself to care. Thor seemed to come back to himself a bit, lifting his head to look down.
"A net? Not sea leaves?" He questioned. Bruce managed to sit up at that, and looked Thor over. His ankle was completely tangled in an old fishing net, ripped through by the Hulk probably. His ponytail had come undone, and given that they just fell on the ground, he was sandy. Otherwise, he seemed perfectly fine, not a scratch on him.
"W-What hap-" Bruce broke off, choking on his words, as they turned into a small whimper. A wave a sheer anxiety tore through him, and he just bowed his head, trying to breathe.
"What happened?" He said finally.
Thor took a deep breath and pushed on Bruce's back with a large hand. He laid back down on his chest, not really caring that it was completely ridiculous, for Thor to be rubbing his back, as struggled through a panic attack, when Thor was the one who almost drowned.
"I thought my leg was caught in sea leaves, until... I realized it was not soft like a plant. It was rubbing my skin. And then I went under. I couldn't rip it through the... distraction. The waves." Thor said.
The word 'fear' hung heavily in the air, but Bruce wasn't about to correct him, or try to get him to talk about it. He was probably beating himself up about it already. He had never seen Thor hesitate in battle once, and by the look on Thors face, he felt the same.
Besides that, if anyone knew how trying to avoid the real meaning might help you cope, it was him. It's why he didn't like people asking him about his anxiety attacks. He just rode it out and smiled when they put a hand on his shoulder and gave him something to drink.
"We need to go inside." Thor said, coughing. Bruce nodded and shakily stood up, grabbing one of their towels and tying it around his waist. Thor had sat up, but was just breathing. He reached down and grabbed the other towel, and then helped Thor up to his feet, where he clutched his stomach.
"I do not feel well." Thor said.
"Did you-" Bruce started, not even able to finish his question as Thor bent over, starting to heave.
"Yep, ok, you swallowed the water." Bruce confirmed, holding his hair back.
He sagged, hands on his knees, trying not to fall over. As stood back up, he took deep breaths, and didn't say a word, just nodding and starting to walk forward. Bruce kept his hand on Thors back to support him, but also for his own comfort. He didn't really want to let Thor out of his sight until he knew he wasn't dry drowning, or dying of sodium intake.
As they walked the steps up to the porch, they both moved slowly. Thor because he was weak at this point, and his ankle was still wrapped in tight rope netting, and Bruce because he was on the edge of falling down from his anxiety ridden, trembling body.
They got inside without incident, and headed to the kitchen. Bruce broke away from Thor reluctantly, and opened a few drawers, until he found a large enough kitchen knife. He bent down and cut through the rope netting around Thors ankle, and he grimaced when he saw the angry red marks. Next he pulled a bottle of water from the fridge and hands it to the god.
"I know you probably don't want more water, but you need to drink this. Come to the bathroom with me." Bruce said.
Thor dipped his head and lead them to his connecting bathroom, sipping it along the way. When they shut the door, Thor immediately turned on the bathtub water, and grabbed the liquid soap on the counter, squeezing some into the stream of the water. He put a hand on Bruce's back, and Bruce looked up at him.
"Get in, while I clean this sand off in the shower." Thor said, voice scratchy.
"What? No, you need to be in the tub, you're barely standing." Bruce said, coming out of his almost calm trance.
"I disagree, you have had a difficult twenty minutes, and you are in need of soothing." Thor said, putting a hand on his cheek. Bruce couldn't help leaning into the touch, despite his face going red. He wasn't sure what Thor was thinking, but he definitely didn't mind.
"It was only a few minutes wasn't it? God, it felt like an eternity." Bruce said. Thors thumb stroked his eyebrow, smoothing it down, but he shook himself from the soothing thoughts.
"Your internal temperature needs to rise. You need to get submerged in the water." Bruce said quietly. Thor nodded, and stepped into the tub, keeping his suit on. He waved a hand, and Bruce looked at him, confused.
"Join me. You are very cold as well. I will keep my clothing on." Thor said. Bruce's jaw opened a bit, and he wasn't able to come up with a good response.
"What about my clothes?" Bruce asked finally.
"It's alright, I have already seen your body and I am not embarrassed." Thor said kindly.
The words somewhat calmed him, despite not actually being helpful to him. It was his embarrassment that worried him. But Thor looked completely calm, holding his arms out a bit like an invitation for a hug. Bruce caved in and stepped into the tub with him.
As soon as he was in, Thor motioned for him to sit, so he slipped the towel off as quickly as he could and sank into the soapy water. Thor sat as well, and before Bruce could even think rationally, the god was putting his legs on either side of him and pulling him back on his chest.
They sat like that for a few minutes, until the tub filled, and Thor sat up, keeping a hand on Bruce's shoulder to keep him close, as he turned off the water. Bruce pressed the jet button, and Thor hummed pleasantly as a jet hit his back.
As they settled back into a peaceful state, Bruce's body betrayed him as the trembling came back. It was just anxiety, feeling Thors body pressed to him and realizing he almost lost that, and never would have even told him how he felt.
"Bruce, please don't cry." Thor said quietly, his voice wavering.
Thor lifted his hand to take Bruce's lightly, and when he didn't stop shaking, Thor put his hands on Bruce's shoulders and turned him so he was laying against his chest. Bruce didn't dare say anything. He didn't want to say he wasn't crying, because in all honesty he felt like he might any second.
With his face pressed to Thors neck, feeling his pulse, he started to relax again. Thor held him without any signs of letting go, and Bruce realized suddenly why exactly he was feeling his pulse. He was pressed so close, his lips were on Thors neck.
"You called me Bruce. Not Banner." He said quietly. Thor swallowed.
"I-I realized, when I couldn't get back to the surface... I was not going to get a chance to tell you." Thor breathed.
It was carefully collected, the way he spoke. Like he was gauging the reaction. He could feel Thors heartbeat start to hammer in his chest. He moved his lips in a daze, just enough to actually kiss Thors skin. He could pass it off as an accident, but judging by his hitched breath in was exactly what he was hoping for.
Almost immediately, Thor pulled him up, and looked him in the eyes. Bruce was now on his knees between Thors legs, and Thors hands found his. He just sat like that for a moment, before clearing his throat.
"Do you ever feel... attracted to someone, without being confident they would like you the same way?" Thor asked. Bruce almost laughed at how obvious the question was. Instead, he just gave a small smile.
"At this moment, I'm pretty confident they do actually." Bruce murmured, face heating up.
"Good." Thor beamed slowly, leaning in to capture his lips. Bruce leaned into it completely, until his lips started to curl in disgust and he had to pull away.
"Jesus, Thor. How much salt water did you actually swallow?" Bruce asked, coughing a bit.
"Probably a few beers worth."
"You mean pints?!" Bruce asked, alarmed.
"Is that bad?"
"Yeah, we might have to go get your stomach pumped." Bruce said, breaking into a laugh at Thors sheepish face.
"Maybe we can wait, to see what occurs-"
"Thor, even your kidneys could shut down. Your body can't handle that much salt. I know you threw it up a little, but not nearly that much. And I have a feeling that no one on earth would be a match for your kidney transplant." Bruce said.
"Alright." Thor relented, giving him a small smile when he saw Bruce was satisfied.
"One more time? Before you transport me to the stomach pump?" Thor asked, putting a hand on Bruce's cheek.
"Yeah, ok." Bruce chuckled, leaning in to meet him once more.
"Someone is going to have to tell your counterpart about this." Thor spoke up, making a thoughtful face.
"That's nothing. Someone will have to tell Tony, and he will never stop bragging that he was the one to set us up by putting us in this house." Bruce said.
"I don't mind his boasting. As long as you are not embarrassed by him, and will stay by my side." Thor smiled. Bruce just shook his head at how unbelievably sincere he was, and leaned in one last time.