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Long Awaited Bravery

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Bruce took his glasses off and put them into his pocket. It was clearly going to be a while before Tony let him get back to work. "Fine. Get it out of your system."

"So to speak," Tony replied, jabbing a finger at Bruce as though awarding him a point for a joke Bruce honestly hadn't intended to make. "Really it was more like your system. But really really it's about how you were wrong, and I was right."

"You know, there were so many reasons why I didn't want to do this experiment," Bruce said, in no way expecting Tony to hear him. "I can't say I anticipated the level of smugness that even you would reach, but if nothing else it's retroactively on the list."

"Quit being a sore loser, doc," Tony told him. "Embrace the moment. Embrace my rightness. Let's take a second here to marvel at my genius."

"Do you promise it'll only be a second?" Bruce asked.

"I'm not a medical doctor. I'm not the world's foremost expert in gamma radiation or biology. And yet!" Tony hopped up onto Bruce's lab table and spread his arms wide in a grand gesture of Ta da! "I was right! I was more than right. I was extremely right. I was right, let us not forget, from the beginning. As far as this matter is concerned I could not have been more right than the right I currently am. We should celebrate. Hell, we should commemorate. JARVIS, put 'I was right' up on the screens. Actually, no, wait, put 'Tony Stark was right' up on the screens. There shouldn't be any confusion about who gets the credit here. Make sure to use all caps. Maybe even make it sparkly."

Though JARVIS had no body, his tone of voice still managed to convey an eyeroll as he replied, "Yes, sir. Shall I make it neon as well, to ensure it will be noticed?"

"There's no reason to be gaudy," Tony replied. He smiled in satisfaction as TONY STARK WAS RIGHT appeared on the large displays around the lab. "Look at that. Beautiful. Much like me, much like my brain, much like my intellect and - Dummy, no! Put that down! Bruce, you're probably gonna want to - "

"On it," Bruce said as he hastily grabbed a test tube out of the robot's hand. "For the record, this would be another reason why I would've preferred to avoid this experiment if at all possible."

"No, yes, I mean no argument." Tony flicked his hand in a gesture that, for him, was one of agreement. "I mean the thought of any of these guys getting hold of what you leave in a condom is wrong on levels even I'm willing to admit to. So yeah, let's just - what?"

Tony broke off as Dummy made a chittering sound and lowered its hand as though disappointed.

"What?" Tony said again, this time talking directly to the robot. "What were you even trying to do there? Was that your idea of helping? You've been off the plane like a minute. How do you even know enough to try to help? In case you didn't notice, this is a new lab. You're not in Malibu anymore. You need to learn the layout and how to fold a pizza slice without getting the grease all over you. In the meanwhile stop touching things!"

"How long does it take them to learn?" Bruce asked. He assumed all of the robots that had been recently shipped over were of comparable intelligence to each other, if not to a much more complex system like JARVIS.

"This group? Never. They're hopeless. Probably won't happen in either of our lifetimes, if that." Tony pointed to the door that led to his own lab space. "Dummy, go in there with the others and sit and do nothing. If I hear a noise out of any of you I'll put you in the gym and tell Barton to use you for target practice."

In spite of Tony's claim that the robots couldn't learn, Dummy rolled off to Tony's lab without bumping into anything along the way.

"God help us all if they try to clean anything," Tony said as he watched the robot go away. Once Dummy was out of sight, Tony clapped his hands together. "Now then! Where were we?"

"Like you really need me to prompt you," Bruce replied.

"Ah yes, my rightness." Tony paused, his head tilted upward as though waiting for a Heavenly choir to sing his praises. "Specifically the part where I was right that I can suck your cock until the end of time and there's not a damn thing we need to worry about as far as the gamma is concerned. Because I think my rightness on that counts for like a hundred being right on other things. Maybe more. We should probably calculate the factorial off of how long it's been since you've had a blowjob. Which is math I'm doing in my head right now, by the way."

"I'm beginning to regret not just agreeing to let you do it as long as we used protection," Bruce said.

"You're the one who got paranoid about ripped latex and coming in my mouth," Tony reminded him. "I never had a problem with it. And why focus on regret when we can be talking about the future? Specifically, the future of me sucking your cock."

Bruce busied himself with studying the floor. He told himself that he was a grown man, far from an innocent, and Tony did not just make him blush. Even so, "Do we need to have a conversation about it?"

"Oh yes," Tony replied. "Because I think you need to understand what's on the table here, Dr. Banner. I'm not just talking about my mouth on your dick, though that is certainly a part of it. I'm talking about me sucking you off in any way you want."

Bruce adjusted his watchband, which in no way needed it. "Fine. Duly noted."

"No, no, no. Not noted. Not until you get the full picture." Out of the corner of his eyes, Bruce saw Tony spread his arms out as though framing the view in front of him. "I am talking about ending your years long blowjobless spell with whatever scenario your brain or balls can come up with. I'm talking on my knees. In a bed. With toys or without. Hard and fast, light and slow. Deep throating - and I'm talking the real kind, not just the kind where it stops at the back of the mouth and you make up the rest with your hand and oh my God you're looking at me like you didn't know deep throating came in more than one flavor."

"I've heard of it?" Bruce replied, with a quick cough. "Usually when blowjobs happen I'm just glad to be in the room while they're going on. Never really stopped to measure, uh, depth."

Tony looked at Bruce with his mouth agape. "Okay, seriously, have you spent your entire life among the blind? How have you lived this long without people lining up so they could suck your dick?"

"I don't know about my entire life," Bruce said. "But again lately there's been that - "

" - enormous green blah blah blah." Tony waved his hand dismissively. "I don't buy it. It's not like you wear a pin that says 'Ask me about my radioactive anger management skills!' You're hot, you're brilliant, anyone with half a head should be dying to get their mouth on yours. Speaking of enormous green, say hi for me."

Bruce waited for Tony's request to make sense. It didn't. "Do what now?"

Tony rolled his eyes. "Tell Hulk I said hi. We're talking about him, I figure he's got to be listening. He and I are buds. Ergo, I want him to know I say hi."

"It's not like he and I pass each other notes," Bruce said. "Besides, conversations about my sex life aren't really his domain."

"You never know. The Hulk and Tony BFF thing might mean he cares about it on my behalf," Tony said. "Which is actually more about him potentially caring about my sex life, since I'm pretty sure his opinion of your sex life is that you can go fuck yourself. Or it would be if him saying that didn't imply that he cares about your sex life after all, granted in a way that's sort of masturbatory. Not that there's anything wrong with that."

Bruce covered his face with one hand. "Thank you for those mental images. I'm learning all new definitions of the word disturbing."

"Disturbing doesn't necessarily mean it's not hot," Tony pointed out.

"Isn't that the title of your autobiography?" Bruce asked. He was rewarded when Tony gave a bark of laughter, much as Bruce hoped he would.

"Now you're giving me ideas," Tony said. "But fun as that is, and sexy as you are when you do it, let's get back to where I talk about all the ways I want to blow your mind."

"Emphasis on the blow?" Bruce guessed.

"Emphasis on all," Tony replied. "Because I mean it. I will blow you in any room in this building. I will blow you in box seats at the Met. I will do it on stage at Madison Square Garden. I will blow you wearing a suit, wearing handcuffs, wearing leather, wearing latex, wearing a blindfold. I will blow you in a French maid's outfit under the table at a SHIELD meeting. I'll hold still while you fuck my mouth like a bucking bronco. I'll suck you so hard you'll forget how to see. I'll wrap my lips around you and hum everything from Beethoven's 5th to the theme from Sesame Street."

Bruce wanted to joke about how, again, the mental images weren't exactly ones he would've voluntarily come up with on his own. Instead he found himself swallowing and trying to remember how to breathe.

Tony jumped down so that he was now sitting on the lab table instead of standing on it. He looked Bruce in the eyes. "I would blow, could blow, Sam-I-am. Whatever you want. Whatever you need."

"But?" Bruce asked, suspecting that all of this had been leading up to a catch.

"But I need you to ask me," Tony said. "I mean it, Bruce. The answer's gonna be yes, but you need to ask the question. You need to stop being the guy who lives his life like it's an honor just being nominated. You're allowed to want stuff. You're allowed to demand stuff."

"Like a blowjob from you."

"Exactly like a blowjob from me." Tony grinned. "I figure if a Tony Stark blowjob isn't enough to motivate you, nothing will."

"Not to insult the Tony Stark brand," Bruce said, "but you do remember I've gone years without, right? And that I don't exactly deny myself things for the fun of it?"

"I remember you think that's why you deny yourself things," Tony said. "But really the point I'm making here is that part of this scenario is that I am fully prepared to throw the concept of fair play out the window."

Bruce frowned. "Meaning what?"

"Meaning that while touching is on the table, full on sex is not." Tony held up a hand when Bruce started to speak. "And before you point out which one of us is the one who prefers multiple orgasms to meditation, let me hasten to add that during this time I will also become the most orally fixated son of a bitch you have ever seen. I will use everything at hand to remind you of what you're missing out on up to and including popsicles. And if you have to ask me if those are going to be lime flavored, I will need to revise my previous estimates of the greatness of your intelligence."

Bruce pinched the bridge of his nose. He told himself not to think about what Tony was saying. "I need time."

"I'm okay with that."

Bruce looked up at Tony. "I might need a lot of time."

Tony shrugged. "I can wait. You've been worth it so far."

"It's just - it's not just about the gamma," Bruce said. "There's, uh, well kind of an understatement to say mental issues but - "

"I get it." Tony said. "Hell, not like I'm going to complain about you making sure you stay in the driver's seat while I'm going down on you. Fond as I am of Jolly Green, there are some places he's not gonna fit no matter how much prep I do."

Bruce allowed himself a moment to appreciate Tony's understanding. Then he had to ask, "You haven't actually thought about going down on - "

"Do you really want the answer to that?"

"I really, really don't."

Tony mimed crossing his heart. "Secret dies with me then, got it."

"Sir," JARVIS chimed in, "Captain Rogers is here to see you."

Confusion shaped Tony's face. "Why?"

"He says it is in regards to your invitation to view the floor you've set aside for him at whatever time is convenient for his schedule," JARVIS said.

"I gave Cap an open invite?" Tony looked at Bruce. "Does that sound like something I'd do? While sober? And I guess I just answered my own question. Eh, what the Hell. JARVIS, tell him to come on up."

 "At least we had advance warning," Bruce said. He quickly hid the evidence of what he and Tony had been working on. Not that he thought Steve would be able to understand it, but it didn't hurt to be on the safe side.

"Very true," Tony said. "Because nobody is allowed to see how hot you look when I - Cap! Buddy! Long time no see!"

"Did I come at a bad time?" Steve lingered in the doorway to the lab as though hesitant to come in without an invitation. "I was in the neighborhood - "

"Finally decided to hang out in the superior borough, you mean," Tony said.

" - but I could come back," Steve finished. He frowned, and Bruce realized he was staring at the screens around the room, and the message that was still displayed on them. "What were you right about?"

"Nothing," Bruce said, because dear God they were not talking about this with Steve, but at the same time Tony stepped up, all smiles, and said, "I was right about what flavor of popsicle Bruce was in the mood for. C'mon, we can look at your place and then you can tell me everything you hate about it over an ice cream run. I'm buying. Or we'll get you a hot chocolate if ice cream gives you post defrosting stress or whatever."

"I'm sure the space is fine," Steve said. He looked from Tony to Bruce as though that might help to clarify things. "We don't have to go for food if you don't want to."

"Nope, not an option." Tony motioned for Steve to go ahead of him out of the lab. "I have the worst craving. It's horrible. Probably bad for my health to deny it. Plus isn't this like team building or something? Frankly it's a little sad that I'm the one who had to bring it up but that just goes to show how badly and profoundly I am needed. I improve morale. Raise spirits, as it were."

Steve wasn't looking, which gave Bruce the chance to shoot Tony a you-really-can't-help-yourself-can-you? glare. To which Tony replied by bringing his hand up to his mouth in a back and forth motion that he matched with a movement of his tongue in a gesture obscene enough that even Steve probably could've figured out what it meant if he caught Tony doing it. Though, in a stroke of luck that Bruce figured was more Tony's than his, Steve didn't notice.

Bruce told himself that what he felt at the moment was exasperation with a side of bemusement. In no way was Tony's breathless disregard for anything resembling propriety turning him on.

As usual, Bruce's subconscious didn't listen to a word he said.


Working in a lab beside Tony's meant dealing with a lot of things that vied for Bruce's attention. First and foremost was Tony's music, which Tony dictated must at all times be turned up to 11. Which was a setting that Tony had actually programmed into his entertainment systems. Tony had taken delight in pointing this out to Bruce and even more delight when Bruce had appreciated it. Which gave Bruce a very warm feeling inside and also caused Bruce to wonder when he'd woken up in a reality where partaking in nerd humor got a hot guy to flirt with him instead of running in the opposite direction. Not that Bruce was complaining.

It could've been assumed that Tony's music would have disturbed Bruce's rather necessary need for inner calm. However Bruce actually didn't mind it. If anything, it made him feel like he and Tony were connected even if they weren't working in the same space. The sound of Tony's music meant Tony was around, and that at any moment he or Bruce could walk into each other's labs and start sharing ideas.

Also Tony didn't mind when Bruce switched up the playlist. Granted he'd looked at Bruce suspiciously when Bruce had first suggested it, telling Bruce in no uncertain terms that he'd better not be contaminating Tony's perfectly fine speakers with what Tony declared to be bullshit zen Enya crap. To which Bruce had simply smirked and pulled up music by a Japanese band that he liked. Tony listened, then nodded in approval and satisfaction when the drums and shamisens drove just as hard a beat as any of the classic rock Tony usually played.

Bruce was then allowed to put even more of his songs into the mix. Which meant every so often Bruce would look up from his work and see Tony over in his lab tapping his hands or twitching his hips to one of Bruce's favorites. Since Tony tended to work while wearing tight dark jeans and layers of shirts that he stripped off as he worked up a sweat - well, the added movement didn't exactly take away from the view.

This was another aspect of the potential distractions that came from using a lab near Tony. Given Tony's promise to try to torment Bruce with amazing visuals, Bruce hadn't been entirely certain that Tony wasn't purposefully putting on a show for him. But in fact it was just how Tony worked. Sometimes Tony would be lost in thought as he silently flicked and manipulated holograms. But once Tony's attention was on hardware he attacked it like he did everything else - head on, in constant motion, and with no care for how much debris he left in his wake.

Bruce came to understand that it was more than Tony's money which allowed him to be cavalier about the chance that the Other Guy might destroy something of Tony's. Tony himself did it often enough in the course of a normal day, either because he was too focused on what he was doing to realize he'd just knocked an entire cabinet's worth of supplies to the ground, or because his method of testing a new idea tended to be trying it, and then shouting out "I'm okay! I meant to do that!" after the subsequent loud bang! and appearance of smoke.

The addition of Tony's robots added another layer to the noise levels. Unless told not to, they followed Tony around the lab like ducklings and either tried to anticipate his needs or tried to quickly respond as Tony kept up a constant conversation of verbal commands and corrections. ("Hand me the thing - no that thing. The thing to your left. No, not my left. If it was my left I could've gotten it for myself by now - yes that, that - no don't hand it to Butterfingers! Christ, it's like you think I named him ironically.") Admittedly this did sometimes distract Bruce, but only because he found himself watching how the robots reacted and trying to figure out how much of what Tony said actually made an impression on them and affected their learning curves.

And then there were the times when Tony very deliberately tried to distract Bruce. Such as when Bruce looked up and saw Tony running his tongue up and down the sides of a bright green, presumably lime, popsicle as though Tony had all the time in the world.

"You know, I actually thought you were kidding about that," Bruce said, pitching his voice loud enough that Tony could hear him in spite of the distance between them.

Tony's response was to look Bruce directly in the eyes, then tilt his head back as he slid the popsicle all the way down his throat.

That ended up distracting Bruce a great deal.


"This is cruelty. No, not cruelty. Sadism. Not the fun kind either."

Bruce watched as Tony flitted about the lab in a seemingly chaotic ballet of preparation - pocketing his phone, checking test results on a screen, shrugging into a jacket, remembering to button another button on his shirt, patting himself down to confirm he had his phone on him, putting on his sunglasses - and said, "I don't think the definition of sadism includes you having to go to a board meeting for a company you own."

"Oh no." Tony stopped long enough to wag his finger at Bruce in a correcting gesture. "I do not have to go. Pepper is making me go. Which, let's be clear here, is all part of her diabolical plan to get back at me for cheating on her - "

"Which you deserve," Bruce reminded him.

"Which I deserve," Tony agreed without breaking stride, "and will apparently be paying the price for well into the foreseeable future. As though I haven't sent flowers, and jewelry, and a car all of which, for the record, she kept by the way."

"Can you blame her?" Bruce asked.

"What? No." Tony snorted dismissively. "Damn right she should keep them. Don't get me wrong, her creative evil streak when she thinks someone needs to be punished is one of the many reasons I'm glad she's running the company. I just wish she'd stop aiming it at me. It's much more fun watching her do it to one of our competitors, or idiots in government who are trying to deny us permits, and would you hold still already?"

Bruce frowned at Tony, who was now standing in front of him while shifting his weight back and forth and staring at Bruce's - well the angle went to Bruce's eyes but it wasn't quite that exactly. "What are you doing?"

"I need a mirror." Tony cupped Bruce's face in his hands and adjusted him - and by extension Bruce's glasses - into position. Once done he let Bruce go and resumed tying his tie. "There. Hold still."

"Tony," Bruce said after pondering and rejecting a few replies that amounted to "Seriously?" "I'm pretty sure you actually do have a dollar for every mirror that you own - "

Tony laughed. "Okay, a) funny, b) true, c) you keep reminding me of my options as though I've forgotten them instead of having considered them and rejected them in favor of one that involves you, d) I did tell you I was going to be less than subtle about how much I wanted you, which brings me to e) have you made any progress regarding my offer of a blowjob that is yours, quite literally, for the asking?"

Somewhere in all of that Tony's hands had ended up holding on to the front of Bruce's shirt, while Bruce's had ended up making small adjustments to Tony's tie.

"Still thinking about it," Bruce said. He ran his hand down the silk tie. It had green and purple stripes. Tony was, indeed, less than subtle.

"Can I help in some way?" Tony asked. "Because there's a chocolate éclair in the break room that I could remove the cream from in a single swallow if you'd like to watch."

"I'm good," Bruce assured him.

"Do you have opinions on crullers?"

"Go to work, Tony."

"Fine." Tony sighed. "But I'm eating them anyway. Your loss if you're looking elsewhere when it happens."

At which point there were quick kisses on each other's cheeks, and a not as quick moment of Tony grabbing Bruce's ass, and Tony was gone before Bruce could fully process how normal all of that had felt.


"Incoming text from Mr. Stark, Dr. Banner," JARVIS said.

"Oh. Um." Bruce had completely forgotten where he'd put the phone Tony had given him. It was possibly back in his apartment. "JARVIS, I don't suppose you know where my cell is?"

"You left it in your lab coat, Dr. Banner," JARVIS said. "Though if you prefer I can display Mr. Stark's texts on any of the screens."

Bruce stopped searching. "Even better. Thanks."

JARVIS minimized a report Bruce had finished reading hours ago and put up Tony's text.

I am so. Freaking. BORED.

Bruce snickered. "JARVIS, how do I - "

"If you would like, I can send your replies after you have spoken them, Dr. Banner," JARVIS said.

"Thanks." Bruce thought about what he should say, and went with, "Sounds like the punishment is working. Unlike you."

There was a pause, and then Tony's reply.

This isn't work. This is Hell. I should know, I recognize most of the people.

"I'm sure a few of them consider being stuck in a meeting with you to be their own personal Hell," Bruce said, as though he was agreeing with Tony. He wondered if the tone would translate to text, or if he should add something to make that clearer. But then Tony replied.

Ha. They wish.

Bruce relaxed. "Hang in there. You'll be home soon enough, won't you?"

If I was home three hours ago it would still not be soon enough, Tony replied. And to make sure you're not missing the implications, Banner, I mean with the kids AND YOU.

"Oh. I mean, uh, thanks," Bruce said, not sure how much of that JARVIS would pass on. Mostly Bruce was taken aback to realize that when he'd said the word home he'd been thinking of the lab - and that Tony apparently used the exact same definition.


Some time later Bruce asked, "JARVIS, do you think Tony would mind if I used the robots?"

"I cannot imagine that he would, Dr. Banner," JARVIS said. "However I can pass your inquiry on to Mr. Stark if you would like."

"If it's not too much trouble," Bruce said. Not that he doubted JARVIS's answer, but Bruce figured it didn't hurt to be on the safe side.

Tony's reply popped up on the screen.

Go nuts. Assuming you can get them to listen to you.

"Thanks," Bruce said. He didn't have anything too complicated in mind. Mostly he'd realized the extra sets of hands would be useful as he ran some tests. Which reminded him, "Can I borrow one of your LCR meters?"


"Would you mind if I used one of the vacuum chambers later too?"

Yes. Robots, meters, chambers, cup of sugar, W-T-F-EVER, BANNER, YES. JESUS.

Bruce was back on wondering about how much of tone got lost in text communication, and if maybe he'd actually managed to annoy Tony, when more texts came up on the screen, one after the other.

I would very much like your ginormous brain to do insanely intelligent things with my lab equipment.

Point of fact, I find it a turn on.

Use whatever damn things you like in whatever way you like.


Go crazy.

Hell PEE on things if you want to.

To which Bruce felt relief that he hadn't upset Tony, and then genuine curiosity. "How does your mind go there from me asking if I can use your stuff?"

My lab = your lab.

Figured maybe you'd only get it if I said you could mark your territory.

"I think you were just looking for an excuse to talk about watersports," Bruce replied.

Holy shit.

Would've totally lost the bet on you knowing what that meant.

Unless you were actually thinking about boats and lifejackets?

Not that I would turn down the chance to see you wet and in a bathing suit.

Bruce then silently counted down from three. As soon as he reached one, Tony added:

Or out of one.

"I saw that coming a mile away," Bruce told him. "You're becoming predictable."


But then you know my next question.

"Still thinking about it," Bruce said. He ran a hand through his hair. It wasn't that he wanted to keep saying no to Tony. There was just more at stake than Tony realized, not the least of which was how much Bruce found himself enjoying their relationship just as it was.

I'm just saying.

:O <---8

Bruce tilted his head one way, then another. Then he got it. "I suppose I should be glad you stuck with an emoticon?"

Good point. Hang on.

"Not in a board meeting!" Bruce said, because he knew Tony well enough by now.

Course not.

Bathroom break.

Bruce wasn't surprised at all when the next thing that came through was a picture.

"Shall I delete the photo, Dr. Banner?" JARVIS asked in his thankfully non-judgmental tone. "Or would you prefer I save a copy to your cellphone?"

"Don't delete it," Bruce muttered after several long moments of silence. He tried not to feel like he'd just gotten caught trying to buy dirty magazines.


Bruce wasn't Tony, so he didn't feel a need to work for hours on end without stopping. Some time after the sun went down Bruce saved his calculations, thanked the bots for their help, and settled down to catch up on his reading.

He could've gone anywhere, but his book was right there, there was a sandwich in the break room that could pass for dinner, and Tony had a cot in his lab that worked just as easily as a makeshift couch and, well, Tony had insisted that Bruce treat the entire lab as his own. So Bruce made himself comfortable and lost track of time as he read about life in Annawadi.

The sound of Tony's sunglasses hitting a lab table alerted Bruce to Tony's return. A check of the clock showed that it was past 11pm, not that such things mattered to Tony's love of tinted lenses. Next to come off was the suit jacket, which Tony left on a chair, and the knot of the tie which Tony loosened but still left hanging around his neck.

"Welcome back," Bruce said.

"Long ass day. Boring ass day. I have lost years of my life that I'm never getting back," Tony replied. Any attempts Bruce would've made to stand were thwarted as Tony slumped down onto the cot with his head pillowed in Bruce's lap. "Tell me you're reading something good and pornographic."

"Do you want the truth?" Bruce asked.

"Clearly not if you feel the need to qualify your answer." Tony stretched, tilting his head to the left and right so the attempt to relax would reach all the way to his neck. "I have suffered enough for my sins today, thank you very much. Speaking of today, JARVIS said you made an excellent babysitter for the kids."

Bruce looked over at the bots. They'd gathered near the edge of the lab when Tony had come back, clearly waiting for any sign from him that he wanted them to do something. "They were helpful. They make good lab assistants."

"I dunno about good," Tony said. He closed his eyes and folded his hands over his stomach. "Occasionally useful. Stopped clock, twice a day, yadda yadda."

"You made Dummy back in MIT, right?" Bruce asked.

"Yep," Tony said. He yawned. "Feel free to insert your own joke here about how so far it's the longest relationship of my life."

There were implications to Tony's statement that Bruce had both guessed and felt no need to comment on. Instead he asked, "Should you go to bed?"

"I'd say yes if you meant naked time," Tony replied. "But you don't, so I'm gonna say no. Don't mind me. Go back to reading your book about accounting or whatever."

"I'm lowering the lights anyway," Bruce told him. He switched off the lamp that was directly over the cot. JARVIS took care of dimming the rest.

"Fine. Whatever floats your boat. Here." Tony undid just enough buttons of his shirt to expose his arc reactor. "Actual nightlight Tony Stark. Patent pending. Or something."

"Definitely something," Bruce agreed. He hesitated, then moved his hand to rest flat against Tony's chest, just inside of his shirt, half on skin, half on the arc reactor. When Tony gave no indication that the touch was bothering him, Bruce began to rub slow, gentle circles. Nothing sexual, not even to Tony's constantly dirty mind. Simply touching.

Tony muttered something that might have been words, but the sound was slurred into being incomprehensible as he drifted off to sleep.


At some point Bruce fell asleep too, with his head tilted back against the pillow he'd braced between himself and the wall. He awoke when he felt a hand gripping his wrist in a tight vice. Bruce looked down and saw Tony looking back at him with wide, dark eyes. Tony's chest rose and fell in careful, deliberate breaths. Bruce's hand was caught and held centimeters away from Tony's arc reactor.

"What's wrong?" Bruce asked. Deep in his brain he wasn't the only one voicing the question. The Other Guy wasn't fully awake, but he was prepared to be in a second if Tony needed him. Hell, if Tony needed him Bruce was ready to immediately hand over the wheel.

But Tony's grip relaxed, and his breathing returned to normal. "Nothing," he said, though he sounded as though he was surprised by his answer. "It's - it's actually okay."

Tony settled back down against Bruce's leg. He took Bruce's hand and put it back over his arc reactor.

"It's okay," Tony said again, and he fell back into sleep.

Bruce watched him, keenly aware of how his hand was covering the thing keeping Tony alive, covering Tony's heart, and thought that he wasn't sure if okay was the word that described how he felt.


When morning came there was light, and the smell of coffee, and at some point a thin blanket had been draped over Bruce. Bruce had a vague memory that one of the bots had brought it over, but he had no way of saying for certain.

What he didn't have was a Tony. Bruce rubbed the sleep out of his eyes and set out to find where Tony had gotten to.

Bruce found him in the break room, which was also where the fresh coffee could be found, as well as breakfast burritos and a basket of fruit.

"Another advantage of having the kids around," Tony said around a mouthful of tortilla and egg. He'd changed out of his business clothes into a black tank top and sweats that he kept in the lab for just such occasions. He was also barefoot, because it wasn't Tony unless he was ignoring some rule of lab safety. "They can accept deliveries so I don't actually have to talk to people this early in the morning."

Tony handed Bruce a cup of tea. Bruce took a sip. Jasmine. Steeped a bit too long because Tony wasn't fully versed on the correct brewing times for different teas. Mainly because Tony felt that all tea amounted to wet grass in a cup.

Bruce watched as Tony checked his stocks, answered an email, told Dummy to clean up the empty food wrappers, and then realized he finally felt comfortable and confident enough to say, "You know my fantasies aren't the same as yours."

"Hm, yeah." Tony took a sip of his coffee. He didn't look up as he used a nearby screen to flick his way through reports and test results. "There's a newsflash. No offense but I was kinda on that page like ten years ago."

"What I mean is that what I'd ask for - what you want me to ask for?" Bruce paused as he tried to figure out how to make Tony understand him. "I don't think it's quite your thing."

Tony looked up. He tilted his head and looked at Bruce assessingly. "All right. So either you're saying that you have really freaky kinks to the point where you think even I would be weirded out by them - which would mean we're talking something like you, me, forty penguins, chocolate sprinkles, and a bathtub of Vaseline or - "

"Or the exact opposite of that," Bruce said. He held his hand out as far as his arm could reach to indicate being on the other end of Tony's imaginative spectrum. "Extremely. And why penguins?"

Tony shrugged. "Why not penguins? I don't judge. I mean I'm assuming you prefer your flightless waterfowl to be consenting which means beyond that I could both afford it and not care."

"Yeah, but that's what I mean," Bruce said. "To you somebody's wild fantasy involves zoo animals. My wildest fantasies, on the other hand, really don't."

Tony came over to stand beside Bruce, leaning one hip against the counter so he could face him. "I wasn't saying zoo animals were a requirement. If the point you got out of all of this is that in order to blow you I need a brass band and maybe a trapeze then somewhere in this you and I both lost the message."

"You know what my fantasy is?" Bruce gestured around them, indicating the breakfast, the room, and them in it. "This. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying you haven't given me some nice mental images these past few days. But if you're asking me what my deep dark fantasy is, well, you're looking at it."

Tony's gaze followed the path of Bruce's gesture, then returned to looking at him. "Okay, kinda hoping you're not talking about the break room but that's not to say I'm unwilling to work with your needs here."

"Aren't you supposed to be at least a little smarter than I am?" Bruce asked.

Tony smirked. "Depends on the topic."

"It's sex. Wasn't that one of your doctorates?"

"I took that as more of an elective," Tony said. "Which isn't to say I haven't done some teaching on the subject but on a purely voluntary - "

Bruce shut Tony up with a few light, long kisses. It was effective, plus Bruce really wanted to do it.

"Good morning to you too," Tony said, when their lips finally parted.

"My fantasy is having a place where I feel safe and don't have to run," Bruce told him. "A place where I can do some good. Where I'm not alone. What's weird is that my fantasy's become reality. Usually that happens pretty much never."

"Huh." Tony blinked in that way he had that Bruce hadn't yet learned how to translate. "Well not to stretch the suspension of disbelief you've got in your inner porno, but actually these days my kink is kind of the same, only it's you hanging around and letting me get naked with you. So, yanno, clearly you and I both used our genie wishes wisely considering what we want is what we actually have. Except the blowjobs. I don't have those yet. I'd like to. Not sure if I've made that clear to you. Still willing to wait if you need that, though."

"Small problem there," Bruce said. He started to pull Tony's tank top up and off. "I've gotten really curious about how it'd feel to get your mouth on me. Plus I'm not feeling patient. And, uh, not to pressure you or anything but there's this rumor that things don't go well if something puts me in a bad mood. Like having to wait for something I want."

"Okay, on the odd chance you still wonder what I see in you?" Tony tapped his finger against Bruce's chest. "It's that every so often you do things like use the Hulk for dirty talk. At which point not only do I want you but I want you, like, immediately. Luckily we're both on the same page at this particular time."

Tony kissed him, rough and quick, his beard tickling Bruce's chin. Then Tony moved down, pressing his weight against Bruce's body all the way, until he was on his knees and pressing kisses to the front of Bruce's pants.

Bruce might've made an encouraging sound of some sort, but fortunately Tony didn't seem to need much encouragement now that Bruce had given him the go ahead. Instead Tony blew warm air through the fabric of Bruce's fly then slowly - okay maybe too slowly now that Bruce's body was also now on board with the concept of a blowjob in the immediate future - undid each button until Tony could tug and pull Bruce's pants out of the way.

"No underwear, thank you," Tony said, like Bruce had kept him waiting too long on that scale as well. Bruce could've pointed out that it wasn't like he was obsessive about having underwear, let alone wearing it, since the Other Guy ruined clothes so often that any extra item on his body was just one more thing to get torn and replaced. Except that the next thing Tony did was wrap his mouth entirely around Bruce's cock and it was so wet and warm and Tony's tongue - Tony's tongue was doing very, extremely nice things on the underside of Bruce's shaft, and talking or any kind of conversation seemed a lot less important compared to making sharp, gasping noises that hopefully made it clear that Tony should continue.

Which again wasn't encouragement Tony apparently needed, because next on the list was Tony moving his mouth up and down, slowly, way too damn slowly, and with a look in his eyes that even Bruce could tell was pure invitation. Perhaps at some other time Bruce might've second-guessed himself but right now, after what, yes, Tony was right about being a far too long dry spell, Bruce was back down to the baser instincts that said the thing for him to do was thrust, hard, and maybe grab Tony's hair to make sure he didn't get any crazy ideas about stopping anytime soon.

Tony didn't stop. If anything he sucked harder, timing himself so that every time Bruce thrust forward Tony increased his pressure and pulled Bruce in that much deeper and it wasn't long before Bruce realized that the thing sending electric sparks through his entire body was the sensation of the head of his cock hitting the back of Tony's throat. And maybe there was a stray thought in his mind about whether him doing so made it difficult for Tony to breathe, but the thought was drowned out by the urge Bruce had for more, now, right now, because holy fuck was Tony's mouth so damned perfect, just as advertised, better, beyond even Tony's bragging, and Bruce was actually saying all of that out loud because he couldn't stop himself anymore than he could stop jerking his hips forward, and just when it felt so good that Bruce couldn't picture any better Tony hummed and Bruce lost it.

Bruce came with a rough, ragged shout that felt like it was torn out of his lungs. He shook, every muscle twitching as waves of pleasure crashed through him. He was drenched in sweat. His breathing came in sobbing gasps. Even with all the times the Hulk had torn him apart and put him back together, Bruce couldn't remember a time when his entire body had felt so wrecked.

Tony pulled back. He looked up at Bruce and very deliberately swallowed. "Worth the wait?"

"We don't wait that long ever again," Bruce told him. Then he grabbed Tony close to see if he could figure out how to make Tony come apart even half as well.