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A Beautiful Journey

Chapter Text

"So what's going to happen now?" Peter asked.

"I did turn back to normal." Bruce said.

"But like always, trouble ran into me." Professor Hulk joked and everyone snickered.

Blonsky put Bruce's bag on the table and noticing Betty's picture, asked Ross and Sparr if it was his girlfriend, to which he replied she was a non-factor. Blonsky then told the two about the huge thing that had attacked him and his men and thrown a forklift truck like a softball. He said he was going to put his foot on Banner's throat and Ross told him the creature was Banner and asked him to pack up so they could go home. He then looked out of the place from where Banner had climbed out.

"Ross doesn't treat him very respectfully either." Steve noted.

"He doesn't treat anyone with respect." Tony said.

"And Enhanced get even worse treatment from him." Wanda snarled.

"Because he is General Jackass." Logan said.

"I got a better name." Pepper said all turned to her, "General Jackoss."

"What?" Thor asked.

"Jackass and Ross combined make Jackoss." Pepper said with a smirk and after a few seconds of processing it, everyone laughed loudly at her wit.

"You're the wittiest woman ever." Hope said as she struggled to control her laughter.

"Wittiest person." Scott corrected.

"Hey!" Tony said in mock offense.

"I think I'm with those two on this, Mr. Stark." Peter said and Tony sighed.

"I won't forget this, kid." Tony joked and all laughed.

The scene changed to a forest area where a naked Bruce woke up near a waterfall as the words  "Days Without Incident: 1"  appeared in white on the lower right corner of the screen.

"And you're back to square one." Vision said.

"I'd be more worried about finding clothes at this point." Wanda said and everyone chuckled.

"It is still a huge problem." Bruce said.

"Not for me." Professor Hulk said.

"Lucky you." Bruce said.

Getting up, Bruce held the remains of his jeans tightly to cover his dignity and walked around until he spotted an oncoming car and stopping the driver, asked if he could help him, to which the driver replied he didn't speak Portuguese. A shocked Bruce asked where he was, to which the driver replied Guatemala.

"Okay what?" Rhodes asked in shock.

"Don't ask me." Bruce said, "I don't remember."

"Well, at least you managed to get out of Brazil." Natasha noted.

"And Ross is trying to gather more resources right now." Clint said.

The driver said he was going to the next town and agreed to help Bruce, letting him inside and putting a blanket over him. He asked Bruce where he was going, to which he replied, "Home." At the army base, Ross and Blonsky walked together as the latter told the former that what they were dealing with was a new level of weird and he didn't feel inclined to step away from that so if they took another crack at him, they needed to be prepared. Ross had an unreadable look on his face.

"He must really think of himself as a real life Tom Cruise or something." Tony joked, "That man does his own risky stunts and this guy wants to fight the Hulk."

"I think you have made a good observation, Mr. Stark." T'Challa said.

"But Blonsky managed to screw himself over." Fury said.

Bruce walked through the Chiapas, Mexico, half-naked and sat around near marketplaces, depressed, when a kid mistook him for a beggar and dropped alms into his hands. That gave Bruce an idea and soon, he had enough money to buy clothes. He got a huge pant and measured it behind a fat man near him and bought stretchy clothes.

"That was smart of you." Hill noted.

"The best I could do." Bruce sighed.

Bruce then walked through a path in the middle of a forest, eager to return home. In the army base, Ross beckoned Blonsky into a laboratory and told him about the Super Soldier program, saying he had got people working on it again.

Steve and Bucky exchanged shocked looks as almost everyone turned to them and Banner in shock.

"What?" Bucky asked, exasperated.

"The Super Soldier Serum?" Tony asked.

"What I was doing, it was an attempt to replicate the Super Soldier Serum." Professor Hulk said.

"Only I didn't know at the time." Bruce told them.

"They wanted to make it again because the formula died with Dr. Erskine." Steve realized and everyone nodded.

"What Ross didn't know was that he was playing with power he didn't understand." Fury said.

"Typical of humans." Loki smirked, only to find everyone glaring at him.

"You did the same." Thor said bluntly and he sighed.

"Well, Ross is giving me more and more reasons to expose his shady actions." Natasha said.

"I will put a few more arrows in him now." Clint said.

"Don't blame you, bub." Logan said simply.

"He was an immoral man." Xavier sighed, 'And now he is an immoral monster.' He thought to himself.

"Let's continue watching." Benjamin said.

Ross said he had made Banner believe they were working on radiation resistance which is why when he was sure what he was onto, he had tested it on himself. It had gone very wrong and very right at the same time. He then said Banner's whole body was property of the US Army.

"WHAT?!" Rhodes exploded with rage.

"How dare he?" Wanda shook with rage as Vision had to put an arm around her.

"And that makes about three more arrows." Clint snarled.

"He made me a fugitive and now he wants to use me." Bruce snarled, "Why am I not surprised?"

"Because he is the worst." Professor Hulk said.

"If anyone supported him after seeing this, then that person is as bad as him." Tony said, feeling guilty for working with him.

"We can make this right, Tony." Steve said and he nodded.

"I will not let him near my boy." Aunt May said as she clutched Peter close.

"I would love to light him up." Thor said.

"Trust me, you're not the only one." Odinson told him.

"General Jackoss. Wish I could have put my claws in him back then." Logan said.

Ross asked Blonsky his age, to which he replied 39. He asked Blosnky why he wasn't a Colonel at this point, to which he replied he was a fighter and if he combined his current experience with his 29 year old body, he would be invincible. Ross told him he could arrange something like that.

"Oh no." Steve said, realizing what Ross intended to do.

"Nothing good came of that." Hill remembered.

"Yeah, made my week even worse." Fury sighed.

"Your big week." Natasha told Fury, "I remember."

"This is going to get even worse." Benjamin said.

"I know." Bruce and Professor Hulk said simultaneously.

At Culver University, Virginia, Bruce hid behind a newspaper, watching students go in and out as the words  "Days Without Incident: 17"  appeared on the screen in white. He started walking towards the university but saw that the guard checked the IDs of the students so he turned away, visibly deflated. That was when he saw Betty Ross walking at the campus, talking to some other teachers with a smile on her face. She sat on a bench as Bruce watched her from behind a tree, his face a mix of happiness and longing on seeing her again.

Bruce had the same expression as his onscreen self. It had been years since he had seen her. And he still loved her even after all this time. What he had felt for Natasha was just infatuation. What he had felt for Betty was true love. [1]

Thor put a hand on his shoulder for support, "It's okay, Banner. Once I light up Ross, you can start something with her again."

Bruce nodded at him with a smile, "Thanks Thor."

"She is still my friend and partner at times." Professor Hulk said as they turned to him, "But because of my condition, it's impossible for us to be together."

Bruce nodded at that, "I will see if I can find a better solution."

"It'll be awesome if you do." Professor Hulk said.

She looked in his direction and he started moving behind the tree when he saw another man walk up to her. She got up and with a smile, kissed him on the lips and the two went away hand-in-hand. Bruce understood though. He couldn't expect her to hold onto him after all these years. But that didn't prevent him from being deflated.

"Snap." Tony said.

At a pizza parlor, the owner, whose name was Stanley Lieber, was about to close up when Bruce knocked at the door. He gestured him to look at the sign but Bruce knocked again and he looked up to see who it was. His eyes lit up and a few minutes later, the two were sitting across from each other. Bruce told Stanley that everything he had heard on the news about him was false and the man said that he never believed in that anyway as he knew Bruce and Betty well.

"Good to have your old friends believe in you even after so long." Wanda sighed.

"I know the feeling." Bucky said as he exchanged looks with Steve and Natasha.

Bruce nodded in appreciation.

"Even I know that feeling." Loki said with a smirk.

Bruce inquired about Betty and Stanley told her she was dating a shrink who was a really nice guy, which Bruce seemed to accept. Bruce asked for a bed and Stanley said he could use the spare room upstairs before Bruce asked for another favor. The next day, Banner rode into Culver University on a bicycle, dressed as a pizza delivery man with a box of pizza on the bicycle.

"Whoa!" Tony said, surprised.

"Dr. Banner, the pizza delivery guy." Sam said with a smirk as everyone snickered.

"I even delivered some of it." Bruce said.

Bruce attempted to sneak past a security guard, claiming someone upstairs had ordered a pizza. The guard refused to let him pass without clearance but Bruce said he risked being fired if he didn't collect payment and offered the guard a box of pizza he had not been able to collect on. The guard accepted it and the two shook hands with Bruce going inside.

"Nice." Natasha said.

"You are very convincing." Hill said.

"Sometimes." Bruce shrugged.

Bruce walked upstairs and remembered the space in which he had worked five years ago just before everything had gone terribly wrong. He then walked into the computer class and started typing on a computer, exchanging a look with a student he had bribed with the pizza.

"Oh my God!" Peter said as he recognized the student.

"What's the matter, kid?" Tony asked.

"Yeah, what happened?" Aunt May asked too.

"That's Roger Harrington. My science teacher." Peter said and everyone was a bit shocked. [2]

"Yup. That's him." Benjamin said, "He was the smartest student in computer class and worked on the computers."

"It's a small world." Professor Hulk said.

"Too small at times." Bruce sighed.

Bruce logged onto the computer using Betty's password and searched for the data, only to find it was gone. He tried to search for his own name but there was no record of that either. Deflated again, Bruce entered his encryption into the computer and called Mr. Blue, telling him the data was gone. Mr. Blue said he couldn't help him without the data and asked what he was going to do now, to which Bruce replied he would keep moving.

"You found the data after that?" Wanda asked.

"I did." Bruce said.

"And it wasn't pleasant." Professor Hulk told them to prepare for what was coming.

"General Jackoss always has to stick his nose everywhere." Logan said and everyone snickered at the nickname Pepper had given Ross.

"You should demand a fee every time someone uses that name." Tony told Pepper with a smirk.

"Nah. I am not heartless." Pepper said and everyone chuckled.

"I remember how bad it was." Fury said, remembering his big week.

At night, Bruce was preparing to move away as Betty and her boyfriend, Leonard Samson, arrived at the place. Stanley let them sit there and the two talked and laughed. Betty looked behind Samson for a moment and saw Bruce coming out of the door. He saw her and immediately shut the door, moving away. Betty, with a shocked expression on her face, got up and moved towards the door as Samson and Stanley looked at her in concern.

"And now it has become even more complicated." Sam sighed.

"Like always." Bucky said.

"Yup." Bruce agreed.

Betty walked out of the place and looked around in the night for Bruce, whispering his name. Bruce hid behind a trash can, his face a mix of emotions. He wanted to go up to her, touch her, hug her, kiss her, and never let go. But he couldn't put her in danger. Samson led Betty back inside and she asked Stanley to tell her the truth. With a sigh, he started telling her everything.

"And now it's out." Tony said.

"Is it a good thing or a bad thing?" Peter asked Bruce.

"A bit of both." He said.

"Sounds like something the Guardians would say." Professor Hulk said.

"The Guardians?" Thor asked.

"Friends of ours." Odinson said with a smile, having fond memories of them.

"We'll tell you later about them." Benjamin said.

Bruce was walking out in the rain, about to leave the city. That was when he heard a car pull up behind him. He turned around to see Betty walking out of the car, her face a mix of shock, happiness, and longing. The two ran up to each other and hugged tightly, not wanting to let go. "Don't go. Don't go." She begged as the two hugged even tighter and she stroked his face and hair, "I want you to come with me now. Please. Come with me. Please."

No one said a word. The scene in front of them was too emotional to comment on. Peter, Wanda, Aunt May, and Pepper, the most sensitive people in the entire group, actually sniffed.

Bruce lowered his head simply, remembering how happy he had felt in that moment. Professor Hulk had the same reaction.

Once everyone had recovered themselves, Benjamin continued the recording.

Betty drove Bruce to her home and shut all the blinds and doors before revealing to him that she had the data with her as she had taken it before they had covered up the mess.

"Yes!" Thor said happily.

"Don't be happy yet." Bruce warned everyone.

Bruce asked her if Ross knew about it, to which she replied she hadn't spoken to him in years. She asked him why they couldn't just go to him together and speak to him, to which Bruce replied that he wanted to dissect and replicate what he had inside him.

"She thought she could still reason with him." Steve sighed.

"He was an evil jackass but he was still her father." Logan said.

"A part of her thought he would do the right thing." Xavier said.

"That part was wrong unfortunately." Benjamin said.

"She found out soon afterwards what her father was." Bruce said.

"And she disowned him completely because of that." Professor Hulk said.

In the army base, Ross entered an old storage area and found what he needed. He unlocked the device and collected the Super Soldier Serum.

"The Serum!" Steve said as everyone watched in horror.

"Your strength in an animal abusing bully." Bucky sighed, "This is not going to end well."

"You will see." Bruce and Professor Hulk again said simultaneously.

At Betty's home, Betty helped Bruce set up his bed and gave him a shaver to shave his beard. He told her he needed to leave the next day, to her disappointment. He asked to borrow some cash for a bus and she agreed, saying she would walk him to the station, to which he agreed. The two later lay on their beds, thinking about each other and their predicament before finally falling asleep. At the army base, a shirtless Blonsky walked into a lab.

"Oh boy!" Tony said, summing up everyone's thoughts.

"He is going to be injected with the serum." T'Challa said.

Ross told him he had to stay disciplined though. The doctor told him they would inject him in the muscles and bone marrow. The latter one would hurt. Blonsky was then injected in the muscles via neck. He was injected into the bone marrow as well and winced in pain, trying not to scream, as Ross watched on.

"And now they have made an evil version of Cap." Tony said in horror.

"I wish you could teach him a lesson." Natasha said to Steve.

"I would if he ever crossed paths with me." Steve said.

"Just wait and watch." Benjamin said.

The next day, Bruce and Betty stood in the Culver University, preparing to leave as lightning cracked in the sky. Betty stopped Bruce and untucked his shirt before taking off his cap and setting his hair lovingly.

"Awww." Sam and Rhodes said as Bruce and Professor Hulk shook their heads.

That was when Bruce saw some soldiers running up and told Betty to run, in spite of her not wanting to leave him. He started running off too as military vehicles drove into the campus, with Ross giving orders in a tank.

"They had to ruin the moment!" Tony said.

"General Jackoss." Logan and Pepper said at the same time and everyone laughed.

"This is going to get serious now." Bruce said and everyone tensed.

Bruce saw Blonsky and several soldiers running up to him and he took off in the other direction as Blonsky managed to outrun the other soldiers but stopped on Ross' order, stopping the others too. Bruce ran into a library as some soldiers followed him. Crouching between two shelves, Bruce took out the memory stick and to his own disgust, swallowed it.

"Eugh!" Peter said in disgust, summing up everyone's reaction.

"I did the only thing that came to my mind." Bruce said.

Outside, Betty ran in front of the tank in which Ross was seated and begged him to stop. "DAAAAD!" She screamed and they all walked out, though Ross told her she couldn't see things clearly.

Everyone's jaw dropped at Betty's bravery and love for Bruce.

"She will see things clearly soon, General Jackoss." Logan snarled.

They noticed Bruce running up in the overpass and the soldiers locked him from both sides before two canisters were fired at Ross' order. As the gas came up, Bruce used his shirt to cover his nose. Betty ran up to him as two soldiers ran after her on Ross' order. She elbowed one hard, making him fall down as his nose broke.

"She has one strong elbow." Hope complimented.

"Maybe you can train her." Scott said.

"Oh even I would love to." Natasha said with a smirk.

The other one grabbed her and threw her to the ground. Seeing that, Bruce's eyes widened and he fell down. A second later, a large hand smacked the glass, cracking it. The hand got greener and bigger as Bruce started transforming, painfully tearing through his clothes. Everyone saw a huge silhouette from outside before it punched the overpass, shattering the glass. The Hulk jumped out of the overpass on the ground as Ross said, "Now she'll see."

"That you are a jackass." Tony snarled.

"Oh boy!" Peter said as everyone tensed, wondering what would happen now.

"I think these guys are screwed." Thor said.

Hulk roared loudly as Ross and Blonsky stared at him in anticipation while Betty stared at him in horror and shock, but not fear or disgust. The soldiers fired at him and he rushed them, unaffected. A humvee came up to him, firing. Hulk changed course and rushed the tank, ramming into its side and sending it crashing. Another one arrived as Hulk stood between it and the soldiers before kicking it, smashing it. He picked it up and crashed it into a nearby statue, shattering the statue and sending the soldiers fleeing as Betty gasped at the scene. Hulk then threw the lump of metal at two other humvees, shattering them into pieces and causing an explosion.

"This is intense." Sam said.

"Oh my God! Oh my God!" Peter was saying again.

"Did you do anything to Ross here?" Clint asked.

"No." Bruce said and everyone deflated.

"But I did do something to Blonsky." Professor Hulk said and everyone cheered up.

Students arrived to take photos and videos of the scene as Ross ordered Blonsky to enter the fray. Blonsky fired tear gas grenades at Hulk which staggered him back before he ripped out two large pieces of the statue and brought them together to defend himself from another grenade before gritting his teeth in anger.

Everyone was a bit unnerved by his expression except Bruce and Professor Hulk.

Blonsky then ran up to Hulk and leapt over him to the other side before firing at him with his gun. Hulk charged furiously but he flipped to his other side and continued firing.

"He's good." Natasha noted.

"If only his heart had been as good as his fighting skills." Steve said sadly.

The gun ran out as Blonsky ducked, rolled or flipped to avoid Hulk who attacked him with the pieces of the statue. Hulk brought a piece down on him but he barely avoided before kicking the piece to slide himself backwards. He then ran on Ross' order as Hulk chased him and two cannons arrived. They were activated. Blonsky tried to leap high but they hit him, sending him flying off as Hulk was hit with the full force of the cannons. He dropped the two pieces and covered his ears in pain.

Everyone watched the scene with wide eyes as Peter almost bit his nails.

"I'm so sorry, Bruce." Tony said as everyone turned to him, "Those cannon were made by Stark Industries."

Bruce looked down and with a sigh, looked back up, "It's okay, Tony. Who would think the US Army themselves would use your weapons like this?"

Tony nodded as everyone turned back to the screen.

Hulk dropped to his knees as Betty begged Ross to stop but he refused. She screamed Bruce's name and Hulk heard. Her voice invigorated him and he picked the two pieces before getting back up. He defended himself with the pieces and threw one at the first cannon, destroying it. He then leapt and embedded the other piece into the other cannon, destroying it too as Ross watched in shock.

"How do you like that, huh?" Peter asked with a chuckle.

"Not very much." Fury said.

"Even worse things will happen to him." Logan said.

"Not as bad as when I get my hands on him." Clint said darkly.

A helicopter flew in on Ross' order as Blonsky fired at Hulk until he ran out. He then walked up to the green goliath and stood face to face with him. Ross ordered him to pull back but Blonsky threw his earpiece off. "Is that it?" He asked Hulk, "Is that all you got?" With a snarl, Hulk kicked him hard as Betty gasped. Blonsky crashed into a tree, breaking most of his bones.

Everyone clapped and cheered at the scene happily.

"YES!" Thor and Peter said at the same time.

"You got what you deserved." Wanda said too.

"Appears so." Vision agreed.

"I'm normally not happy to see others get hurt but he deserved it." Aunt May said.

"He was pretty arrogant right from the start." Natasha said.

"And that arrogance was his downfall." T'Challa said.

"Doctor Erskine told me that on being injected with the serum, "good becomes great; bad becomes worse."" Steve said.

"So his arrogance increased." Bucky noted.

"And he became an even bigger asshat." Logan said.

Ross coldly ordered the soldiers to fall back as Samson arrived at the scene and called out to Betty. Betty walked up to Hulk, unafraid of him. As he turned to her, she called him 'Bruce' and attempted to calm him down. As his anger started fading, the helicopter arrived and Ross ordered it to fire, not noticing how close Betty was to Hulk. The gunship fired and Hulk quickly ran up to Betty to protect her. Ross noticed her proximity to Hulk and ordered the pilot to stop firing but Hulk threw a huge shard of metal and it hit the helicopter, making it crash and explode. He covered Betty with his body as the explosion engulfed them. Ross screamed in horror.

"Oh you actually care about your daughter? Wow!" Tony snarled sarcastically.

"He is the most careless commander ever." Rhodes said.

"I wonder how he became Secretary of State." Steve wondered.

Rainwater poured down as Hulk emerged from the flames, cradling the unconscious Betty in his arms. She had some minor burns. Glaring at Ross, he gritted his teeth and snarled. Ross shivered and backed off, knowing that he had to give up for now. Hulk then turned and leapt away with the unconscious Betty.

"So he does know when to give up. I'm surprised." Sam said.

"No he doesn't." Clint snarled.

"He has a stick up his ass." Logan said.

"I know." Professor Hulk said, "He is the worst person ever."

"Let's see what happens after this." Steve said and everyone nodded.