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The Amazing Dancing Physicist

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Bruce Banner did not like Lady Gaga.

Well, okay, she wasn't the worst thing he'd ever heard. But he was more into early rock. Like, pre-1970. Beatles? Sure. Buddy Holly? Definitely. Lady Gaga?


So, when he walked into the lab at 8:30 on a Tuesday morning, and opened his music library, he was rather upset to see that every song had been replaced with Lady Gaga. Well, first he was puzzled. Then upset.

He hadn't even known Lady Gaga had that many songs.

Bruce did know two things, though. First, this was unmistakably the work of Tony Stark. Second, he knew that Tony would not have deleted all of his other music. It was probably just hidden. So it was just a matter of finding it.

As he scrolled through folders and sub-folders, he tapped his foot to "Bad Romance." He didn't realize he was doing it.

Four hours later, a bit after noon, Tony Stark decided it was finally time to get up and face the day. It was good to get an early start, sometimes, he thought.

He was currently working with Banner on making some adjustments to the suit. He'd never realized how useful it could be, having a nuclear physicist on staff. He liked having someone to bounce ideas off, someone who spoke the language and appreciated his endless drive to tinker and improve.

The first time Banner had said, "Well, don't you think it would be better if...", his expression rapt as he imagined some far-fetched possibility, Tony knew they would have a long and fruitful relationship.

They were mostly working on the 76th floor of the Tower. Tony decided he'd head down that way and see if Banner was around.

The labs were soundproofed (to stop Pepper from coming running every time something blew up), but as soon as the door to lab 2 slid open, Tony was almost blasted off his feet by the noise. Lady Gaga was playing at top volume. Considering how much Tony had spent on the sound system, that was impressive.

Tony had completely forgotten about pranking Bruce's music collection.

"I'm sorry, sir," JARVIS said, "But you do not have access to that folder."

Bruce figured that meant the folder contained either extremely sensitive government contract information or his music files. "Can you at least tell me what's in it?"

"No, sir. Mr. Stark was very specific that you were not allowed to view this folder. Opening it will require voice authorization from Mr. Stark."

So it was his music. Bruce fumed. "What if I just do a really good impression of a jackass?"

"I'm sorry, sir," the AI replied, polite as ever, "But no impression of a jackass could ever come close to the reality of Mr. Stark."

Bruce snorted, wondering if Tony had intentionally programmed his AI to be that sarcastic, or if it had just come to be that way from listening to its creator for years.

With a sigh of acceptance, Bruce set his new music library to shuffle and repeat. If Gaga was all that was available to him, Gaga it would be. It was better than working in silence, he supposed.

For the next few hours, as he worked, he occasionally increased the volume. He didn't realize he was doing that, either.

When Tony walked into the lab, Bruce was standing at one of the tables, screwdriver in hand, making adjustments to one of the suit's repulsors.

And he was singing along to the music blasting from the speakers, foot tapping to the beat, looking on the verge of breaking into dance. "I'm just a holy fool, oh baby it's so cruel, but I'm still in love with Judas, baby..."

"JARVIS," Tony said, "I hope you're recording this to my personal drive. If you're not, start." Bruce couldn't hear him over the music, but the AI could.

Bruce continued his singing, and on the next chorus, he gave in, and did break into dance. It was exactly the awkward kind of dancing one might expect from a physicist, with lots of shuffling and very little regard for the beat. He continued in that vein for a few moments, then he executed a graceless spin.

And found himself face-to-face with Tony, who was about two seconds from hyperventilating, he was laughing so hard.

All the color drained from Bruce's face, then returned in a bright, violent blush. "Mute," he choked out.

Tony's hysterical laughter seemed very loud in the silence. Tears were streaming down his face. "Oh my God," he gasped. "I'm dying. I am literally dying." He took a few deep breaths, trying to regain his composure.

Then he saw the half-mortified, half-pissed off look on Bruce's face, and lost it again.

"I'm glad you're so amused, Stark," Bruce growled. He could feel the heat radiating off his face, and knew his reaction was only fuelling Tony's mirth. Still, he couldn't help muttering, "Shut the hell up, Stark."

Tony showed no signs of complying with that request. Instead he said, "Oh, Banner, this video is going to go viral. 'The Amazing Dancing Physicist," it'll be famous. You'll be famous!"

Bruce narrowed his eyes. "You put this on the internet, Stark, and you'll regret it. I can guarantee it."

Tony took that as a personal challenge. "I'll do whatever I want, Banner. 'I'm a free bitch, baby.'"

Bruce ground his teeth together. If that's how Tony was going to be, well, so be it.

He'd been warned.