“I get to be Captain America,” the boy said with confidence, adjusting his shield.
“No fair, you always get to be Cap,” the other pointed pushing thick glasses up his nose. Sighing the youth looked at his slightly smaller companion, although they were the same age, he felt so much older than his companion.
“Ok Bruce, you can be Cap this time,” he sighed handing over his shield, watching as hazel eyes lit in happiness behind the thick frames.
Laughing the slightly shorter boy hurried off, "You have to give me a head start Tony!" he yelled. Chuckling Tony went the opposite direction thinking to cleverly cut off his friend. Sneaking through darkened hallways he paused at the sound of raised voices through a half-opened door.
Frowning Tony stopped dead, recognizing his father’s voice raised in anger, a voice he was all too familiar with.
“I don’t want theories Banner I want goddamn results,” the words dripped with venom, Tony recoiling instinctively.
“But the results in the rats are promising,” He recognized the voice of Bruce’s father; Brian.
"That lab, the money…the security….it can all be taken away, Brian."
The tone was threating, low, Tony gulped throat dry, knees weak as he coward almost reflexive.
“I…I, just need more time,” he pleaded, Tony heard the dry, mirthless chuckle that sent chills down his spine.
“There is no more time Banner, you will give me results.”
Tony heard a small shuddering gasp beside him, Bruce had apparently found him instead.
Far wiser than a boy his age should be, Tony, pulled him gently away from the door, helplessly watching as the tears fell from wide eyes.
“Come on now Bruce, you’re Captain America, the Cap is always strong and brave.” Gently he wiped the tears away, the smaller boy giving him a watery smile. Tony returned it, bury down his own feelings of helpless fear and rage.
“ANTHONY!” he heard Howard bellow, knowing what would happen if he made him wait Tony accepted the shield from his friend as he hurried to his father. Head bent Tony hurried to his side a cuff to the back of his head his reward. Howard was not in a good mood.
Sneering his father shook his head, “Trying to be a hero Anthony?” he spat, no doubt referring to his shield.
“Yes Sir,” he responded dutifully.
His father grabbed his arm hard enough to bruise, steering him out of the house, Tony glanced back, see hazel eyes behind thick frames peaking at him. Tony shot him a small smile, faking the confidence he didn’t feel, as he hurried after his father.
"Dad, why are we here?" Bruce hurried after his father, trying to keep up as the moved swiftly through the silent hospital corridors. It was late, far too late to be in a hospital.
“We’re here to visit a friend,” his father said absently, eyes darting as they all but ran.
They hurried into a quiet hospital room, Bruce pushing up his glasses as he looked around at the machine filled room curious. A steady beep could be heard and on the bed swathed in bandages, but vaguely recognizable….
”Tony!" Bruce breathed hurrying to the bedside. "What happened?" Bruce asked.
His father busied himself fussing with something near the IV.
“His father tried to kill him,” he said shortly. Bruce gasped, trembling as he gently took his friend hand.
“Will he be ok?” his dad took his time answering, Bruce looked up in time to see his dad syringe in hand. It looked vaguely green in colour.
“What are you-” his dad cut him off with a hiss, “Helping,”
He poked the needle into the IV bag, pressing the plunger, the faintly green liquid emptied.
Completed Dr. Banner quickly disposed of the needle, motioning for his son to follow as the made their way out again. Young Bruce Banner is more than a little uneasy as to what he'd just witnessed.
“We go live now to Harlem, where some sort disturbance it in progress.”
Bruce looked up from his papers curiously, as the smiling news anchor cut to a jiggly out of focus footage. Frowning Bruce stood moving closer to the TV, just in time to see something huge a green tackle another equally huge something.
Bruce pulled his glasses off rubbing them vigorously with his shirt before pushing them back on. The footage suddenly came into focus, a large, angry, green man in the middle of the frame.
Bruce Banner found it suddenly difficult to breathe, “Tony…”
"We go live now to the press conference in progress where CEO of Stark Industries, Bruce Banner will be addressing the rather mysterious recent events that took place at the Stark Industries building."
Tony turned to the TV curious, his grilled cheese sandwich forgotten. Soft steps brought him closer to the set, brown eyes ringed with green watched curiously as the curly-headed man grinned wirily from behind his glasses.
“The truth is….I am Iron Man.”
The people at the press conference were going nuts, questions were flying, and Tony felt the corner of his lips curl.
"Well, how about that."
New York City 2012
“Sir, you have a visitor,” the automated voice cut in across his music. Frowning the man looked up from his suit repairs.
“I do?” he asked pushing his glasses up his nose.
"Agent Coulson and Director Fury are on the way up."
Bruce sighed, what on earth could they possibly want now?
Warily he shrugged on a hoodie, zipping it over the pulsing blue glow in his chest as he headed up to meet his would-be guests in the common area. Bruce had some serious reservations about this confrontation, the last time he'd seen those two it hadn't been pleasant. In addition to dying from palladium poisoning, Fury had dropped the bombshell on him about his father's ‘pet project' and Howard Stark's true involvement with SHIELD.
Crossing his arms across his chest he waited as the elevator dinged, and the pair stepped off.
"Fury, Coulson," he nodded in acknowledgment.
“Banner,” Fury said it his typical deadpan manner, as Coulson nodded that annoying smug smirk on his face.
Sighing Bruce pulled off his glasses cleaning them compulsively, “To what do I owe this security breach?”
Fury had moved to stand before the large window overlooking the city, the New York skyline glittering in the night.
“Do you believe in the impossible?”
Bruce slid his glasses back on, frowning. Coulson handed him a thick black folio, curious he strode to the halo screens. With a deft flip of his wrist, he sent the data skittering across the screens eyes widening as the images appeared. A women with red hair and a bow, back to back with a blond man who looked impassive at the oncoming foe. A big man with a hammer that crackled with lightning, and grainy black and white footage of a man that time forgot.
Bruce blinked in shock…there was no way… he turned to Fury feeling a little off-kilter.
“I didn’t once,” Bruce finally answered Fury softly, “But times change.”
Fury chuckled, “They do indeed, and the times are changing faster than even we thought.”
Bruce looked back to the screens, he saw himself his Iron Man suit as he sped across the sky.
"There is an impossible idea Banner, one that may be our last hope." He turned from the window then to look at him, "Some big and ugly is rearing its head."
Bruce frowned, and Fury continued, "We were hoping to meet it head-on with something big and ugly of our own."
A giant green Hulk roared across his screen, heaving a tank with ease, Bruce looked grim then.
Closing his eyes and heaving a sigh he turned to Fury, “How bad Fury and, don’t bullshit me.”
Fury looked equally grim, “As bad as it gets.”
He silent apologized to Tony, “He’s up North, as far as he can go.” He grinned mirthlessly at Fury then, “He won’t come for you though, hell he won’t come for me either.”
Fury crossed his arms, “Who then?”
Bruce turned to look at the console again pausing the feed, the screen filled with black and white footage; man in a cowl, jaw set and a determined look in his eye.