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The lab was noisy. Uncharacteristically so.

On it’s better days, crowd control was vital because Bruce was tinkering with science as was Tony, and no one really wanted to see green- no matter how well controlled Hulk promised itself to be.

But there was no Banner present, and instead, a very aloof Tony stood at a lab table tinkering at something his science expert partner asked him to check out for him. Which didn’t bother Tony. It was an understandable favor seeing as to how he was more so the engineer, and Bruce didn’t build much.

Tony glanced up from the modified arrows that they’d been working on for at least a week now, meant for Barton, code name Hawkeye.
They were impressive, really, each ones thin structure allowed the arrow to shoot off and launch into its target at much faster speeds- not that Clint wasn’t a good archer to begin with.

But these arrows were susceptible to certain damage, and carried a magnetic charge that trailed back towards it’s shooter- like a tugged thread, with a near microscopic LPSC- or local positioning satellite chip, the size of an infants nail embedded near the arrows head- which found its way back home whenever Clint pressed a certain button near the aiming window of his bows center, thanks to Tony’s personal global navigation satellite system- meaning that the connection or rather response would not be interrupted.

That was Tony’s handiwork, which he meticulously trailed on each arrow he made. Bruce’s input was a small near lethal dosage of different concoctions that would deter their enemy, no matter what race- alien, super human, or human. Some disabled their attackers with a thirty minute lasting paralysis drug, others temporarily froze the target from the inside without killing them- this going with humans as well. Every five arrows from a good thirty had their own effect with seemingly normal drugs- but Bruce was careful as to create things that could not, in any way, be copied.

Pretending to notice something off about one arrow among the safely stacked pile to his left, Tony pulled on a magnifying glass attached to a thin metal pole along the tables body. Apparently, his attempts to look rather busy worked, because he had managed to block out the noise of his other teammates enough to not notice their sudden silence.

Brows furrowed, honestly confused, Tony looked up to the others, wondering as to why it was deadly quiet, but he regretted it when he realized that all eyes were on him.

It took a moment, and he stared as their smiles started to fade.
“What?” He asked, honestly caught off by the sudden disperse of what once seemed like a fun conversation among each other. His brown eyes darted, landing on each face as he waited for one of them to repeat the question he seemed to have failed to catch.

Clint shifted in the lab stool, feet propped onto the metal barring a few feet from the ground, legs parted to allow his hands to rest and press against the black cushioned seat. “Rogers was wondering what kinda guy Bruce is like.” He shrugged. “Seeing as to how the man avoids us like a plague.”

Tony looked back to the arrow with a small smile, brows risen in amusement at Clint’s choice of words. He seemed to consider what was said for a moment, humming to himself in thought. “Well, you guys do manage to aggravate him.”

Although it was Steve’s brows who pressed as if the statement was a far cry from honesty, smile still in place, it was Clint who responded. “That can’t be true Tony.” He cracked a genuine smile. “You piss the green guy off more than anyone else here-”

“Do I?” Tony interrupted with a smile, expression curious. “Last I remember, he turned Hulk in this very room when you all decided to shout at each other-”

“You were involved too, Stark.” Steve interrupted, reminding him with a soft expression and a tone that held an air of indifference.

Staring at Steve, smile lost for only a few moments, Tony decided to consider that statement before acknowledging that the Cap was right, and further argument would be pointless. The smile returned as looked back towards his work in progress, and shrugged with an air of nonchalance.

No one seemed to noticed how uncharacteristically mundane Tony’s behavior was.

When they first came into the lab after Bruce’s departure for some science convention speech, Tony was in no way reluctant to let them invade his ‘sacred place of silence’.
His usual off handed comments would come and go with no hesitation. He wasn’t somber in the very least. But they all assumed his sudden declining interest was due to the concentration on his work.

The idea that it was because they had honed on a rather sensitive subject completely flew over their heads once one topic of conversation turned into another.

The change happened when Thor had brought something up about Bruce’s mental state and how it could effect his overall performance- completely ignoring the fact that Banner was a green frikin tank when needed, and yes, although his speech and cognitive ability was far off from the original man behind the buff transformation, it was still the super genius scientist and doctor Bruce.

Which is what, thankfully, Natasha had countered with just that statement, of which made Tony proud as he added mental points beside her name.

But then Thor had to clear what he had said up, voice booming and loud as ever when he mentioned the word with some reluctance. The word had been ‘suicide’, and Thor was concerned that if Bruce ever faced his dark passenger again, that he’d try something stupid and risky.

But then Clint cut in, joking about how Bruce couldn’t kill himself- as he was told when he returned from the ‘dark side’. Barton had asked if Bruce was as indestructible as rumored, so when the story of the bullet that failed came up, he was partially convinced.

It was Steve who slapped the smug smirk off Clint’s face with a few sharp words that threatened the archer assassin, Natasha following suit, lecturing him on how suicide wasn’t a topic to just throw at the wind without caution. Somehow, the words ‘Throw at the Wind’ became the next topic, about Steve’s first frisbee toss with his shield.

That topic had further eluded the others, the offer for a few beers forgotten. Eventually the exchange of conversation cast Tony out, but it wasn’t without purpose- it was because he seemed busy, but not enough to not at least be a part of their ramblings by ear. They just wanted to give him some company, since he had managed to not see the others as much the past few days, despite temporarily living under the same roof at S.H.I.E.L.D H.Q.

The topic on suicide, that practically darkened the room, had dissipated about twenty five minutes ago, and yet it still stirred something within Tony.

His usual characteristic completely faded to near non-existent.
At this point, he’d probably make a few jokes in lieu of a demand that they ’skedaddle, daddy’s gotta work’. But such vernacular left him, and he was left as the boy he had managed to abandon many years ago, silently taking in the noise with a contained grudge, hidden with smiles, shrugs and short laughs.

Mentally berating himself for allowing thoughts to creep up on him like that, Tony shook his head lightly, blinking rapidly as his eyes burned from being overly exhausted.


Said called individual looked up to Steve expectantly.

“Are you alright? You don’t look so well.” Steve narrowed his eyes as he further observed his friend, face scrunched in concern. “Have you been sleeping much?”

Tony shrugged off his teammates bothersome mother hen qualities that the serum didn’t manage to burn to hell- which was good in a way. Otherwise, they’d have two hulks, only one would be engulfed in narcissistic qualities- wait, he sideways glanced, mentally cursing himself- He was the narcissistic addition. Shaking it off again before he further berated his stupidity, Tony smiled. “Yes mom. I’m fine. I haven’t had much sleep because I’ve been modifying Robin Hood’s arrows,” He paused, lifting one of the arrows. “See?”

If Clint was insulted by the nickname, he made no effort to show it.

Tony looked to Barton, in time to catch the archer assassin glancing at his female partner and love interests breasts, before looking towards Steve, with an expression that asked if the Captain was gonna take Tony’s bullshit words a solid answer.

Slumping in slight defeat as he slowly placed the arrow back onto the table, Tony sighed. “I’m fine. Trust me. And besides, if the time calls for it, I can just send one of my suits on autopilot.” He suggested, leaning against the table, watching them frown- he himself didn’t trust his inventions ability to drive itself and make proper decisions while he worked on trinkets at H.Q. It might end up blowing up a building or something along the lines of chaos.
Slowly, his mind went into overdrive as an idea came to mind. “You know what? It’s kinda late, and yeah,” He paused, dropping his head in defeat, facing the tables tech littered surface as his hand motioned towards the door. “I’m kinda tired. I haven’t slept properly in days.” He stood upright as he walked away from the table, slow in his steps as he kept moving a few gears and arrows with his fingers. Once seemingly satisfied he looked up, hands steepled against his stomach, small smile on his face. “I’m gonna go get some rest.”

There was a bit of shuffling that followed in the others positions as they tried to get comfortable again, throwing confused glances at each other, quick as if to not catch his eyes.

They all bid him with good nights as he walked towards the automatic sliding door, Tony waving over his shoulder. His foot barely got past the exit when Clint spoke up.

“Just promise us you won’t go all quirky and gloomy like Mr. Green.” Clint said rather off-handedly, as if he pulled the additional comment out his ass with no precaution or thought whatsoever. Tony turned half-way, and when Clint realized that his expression seemed impatient, so he continued. “Just saying,” Clint put his hands up in his defense. “You hang out with him too much man. Sometimes, being around people who aren’t mentally stable is unhealthy. Trust me.” He shook his head with a smile that held pitty rather than humor, also with what seemed like the revolutionary sign of concern over someone one being missed.

It took a moment, and Tony continued to stare until he looked away, nodding. “Thanks,” He turned and continued on his way. “I’ll keep that in mind.” All the while maintaining a front for his behavior, seemingly dead tired, when in fact, he could last consciousness for a few more hours.

He just needed quiet. Nice serene silence. He almost tripped over his own feet as the thought came to him, the desire to be alone with no sound, or at least, that of the voices of others- it somewhat frightened him. It was also the sudden realization that he was reverting to his former self.

Cursing under his breath and shaking his head lightly again, he continued towards his room, making a mental note on not allowing his past introverted personality type to come back and greet him.

Because it was in those moment of solitude that he’d face his worst enemies- a few alcoholic beverages, nice tobacco products, illegal substances- He thoughts were cut when the opening sound of sliding doors belonging to his room caught his attention, and he walked in, brown eyes looking towards the large window, -that served as a giant holographic screen as well-, resembling the one at his ruined and abandoned mansion on the cliff in Malibu.

“J.A.R.V.I.S, start up some music.” Tony ordered, belly flopping onto his white silk sheeted bed.

“Any suggestions, Sir?” J.A.R.V.I.S asked.

Tony wafted a hand as his face dug into the pillows. He turned his head, resting it on its side as he stared at the window that was now littered with transparent images, windows, schematics, et cetera. “The usual.” He finally answered.

“Yes, right away, Sir.”

And not a full second later, J.A.R.V.I.S began playing a rather sober song by Led Zeppelin, the A.I perhaps acknowledging that his creator seemed tired and didn’t need pounding head banging music. Perhaps assessing that his creator wasn’t unsatisfied, J.A.R.V.I.S kept silent, as Tony remained still.

His brown eyes stared for a moment towards the window, looking past all the jarble that littered the screen and towards the world outside, the sky a hue of orange, the sun set over his tower, that he could easily spot among the others even from the high and distanced terrain S.H.I.E.L.D H.Q sat, looking towards the city.

Oh yes, he remembered his past self so easily, he wished he could simply forget. But it’s the memories you despise that remain.

With a grunt, Tony pushed himself onto his knees, scooting off the center to sit at the edge of his bed, looking towards the city.

The drugs, the drinking, the mindless sex, the blank gaps of forgotten moments in such events.

He unconsciously glanced towards his arm, mouth slightly agape as he looked towards the paler tissue; scars that were the fault of his own hand. He closed his mouth as he looked up and ahead, swallowing in attempts to loosen the tightness of his throat.

What the team didn’t know wouldn’t kill them, surely.

And they’d never catch on to the reason as to why any enthusiasm left Tony in that lab.

He and Banner weren’t so different after all. Sure, they were both genius’ in the fields of science, but that wasn’t what Tony meant.

With a sigh as he further berated himself for allowing his thoughts to further kill off any semblance of joy that managed to remain, he lay back onto the bed, arms out as he stared off towards the ceiling.

His brows furrowed and his eyes narrowed as another thought crossed him- did Bruce only attempt suicide once?

Because if so, then that was the differences between Tony and Banner.


A/N: This is just an introduction to the story, to kind of get the readers in check with the time and place and flow of things.
Next chapter really taps into the plot.
Sorry, I just tend to do that a lot (an intro).
The reason for it's short length it because I was going to originally post these just as a thread response to the prompt request on LJ, but I'm not too familiar with how that works and I have little drive to actually figure it out.
Again, as said in the notes, I'm pretty new to this site, so I dunno how it all works. But please tell me what you think so far.