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Contrary to popular opinion, Tony was not thoughtlessly reckless -- he was a genius, remember? -- so when it was just him and Hulk in the rubble of his living room the decision to actually get out of his armor was neither.

No, really.

The armor was damaged after all, the helmet was completely trashed, thanks to a certain thunder god's interpretation of loosen the clothing part of first aid. (Not that Tony didn't appreciate the effort, but did Thor have to rip the faceplate completely off its hinges?) The rest of the armor was in slightly better condition and was at least technically still operational, but it looked -- and felt -- like it had been through a war (probably because it had!). Besides, it was of limited use without the helmet and the HUD anyway so he might as well take it off now that the fighting was over.

It wasn't like there was a potential threat in the room with him, no matter what anyone else might think.

Something big and green, yes. Potential threat, no.

Between the damage to the suit and the damage this level of the tower had taken, Tony figured it was best not to risk the disassembly array (because he wasn't thoughtlessly reckless, remember) and instead he was using the emergency overrides to take it off manually one piece at a time.

All while the Hulk sat in the middle of the room watching him.

Tony eyed him back casually; his big green guest seemed content to just sit there, seeming even almost calm, but showed no sign of changing back into Bruce.

"How you doing, big guy?" Tony asked as he placed the last piece of discarded armor on top of the haphazard pile that had grown beside him as he removed it. He'd have to see about carting it all to his lab, but later. Even he knew it was rude to ignore someone and just leave them sitting in your living room while you went about your work. Granted, mostly because Pepper kept pointing it out to him, but still.

The Hulk gave a small grunt which probably meant something profound in Hulkspeak which unfortunately was not a language Tony was fluent in. But given the lack of destruction, Tony figured the grunt didn't translate as anything bad.

So of course Tony took it as encouragement to keep talking. "Anything I can get you? A drink or something? Although, come to think of it, I'm not sure I have a cup that is appropriately Hulkmongous enough for you to use. Not that it matters -- if you want a drink I'm sure we can improvise something. Like... the ice bucket for champagne -- that might work as a Hulk shot glass in a pinch. Though... do you even drink? Or eat -- or are you all smash all the time and leave those pesky survival details to your Ban-"

"Tin Man talk a lot," the Hulk rumbled in a voice that was more than half growl and holy shit, those were actual words. He and the Hulk were having an honest to god actual conversation and just how cool was that?

"Yes, yes, I do," Tony admitted cheerfully, grinning at the Hulk. "Believe it or not, you are not the first person to point that out. Though it's usually a lot more judgmental, something along the lines of 'Oh my god, why won't you shut up?'" He paused. "Unless that's what you meant. Are you trying to get me to shut up, Big Guy?"

Hulk gave a quick emphatic shake of his head. "Hulk like sound of Tin Man's voice."

Tony grinned. "That's because you are a Hulk of impeccable taste." He moved closer, fascinated by the chance to really look at the Hulk now that they weren't in the middle of an epic battle to save humanity.

He realized there weren't many people who'd had this chance, and even less that would want it, but he wasn't most people. They were all stupid anyway, unable or unwilling to see beyond the angry smashing. Which, granted, there was a lot of when the Hulk was around, but it wasn't the only thing. If it was, Tony wouldn't be here to be having this conversation.

"Thanks, by the way," he said, realizing he hadn't said that before now and if there was one thing you should remember to thank someone for, it was saving your life. "For catching me when I was falling," he clarified when the Hulk gave him a puzzled look. "That would've been a really crappy end to my... well, everything if you hadn't."

Hulk nodded solemnly at that. "Hulk not want Tin Man to be smashed. Hulk like Tin Man. Banner like Tin Man too. Tin Man smart. Tell Banner Hulk not a monster. Banner listen to Tin Man. Let Hulk out on purpose. Maybe... not so afraid of Hulk now." Green eyes met Tony's with more earnestness than Tony would've expected. "Hulk owe Tin Man for that."

"There's all kinds of hidden depths to you, aren't there, Big Guy?" Tony observed, grinning with delight. Not that it should be surprising; the Hulk was part of Bruce and Tony had already figured out that there was nothing simple about Bruce Banner. "And you don't need to call me 'Tin Man', especially when I'm not wearing the suit. Anyone who's saved my life gets to call me Tony, okay?"

"Tony," Hulk repeated, his great rumbling voice sounding pleased. He paused and then asked, "Tony want Banner back now?"

"If that's okay with you," Tony replied, surprised again at the question, though maybe he shouldn't have been. It stood to reason that if Bruce could let the Hulk out on purpose, the Hulk would be able to let Bruce out on purpose. "Not that I'm not enjoying talking to you, just so we're clear."

"Hulk know." Then he closed his eyes and began to shrink.

Tony watched with avid curiosity. He'd been a little distracted by the giant space worm so he hadn't been able to pay his full attention when Bruce had Hulked out, but what he had caught it had seemed fast and fluid and even majestic in a way. The transformation back was just as mesmerizing. A little slower maybe, but that could just be the fact that Tony wasn't needing to divide his attention between watching the transformation and attacking giant worms from outer space.

And it wasn't just the scientist in him that was fascinated. There was something about Bruce that had drawn him from the beginning and this was something that was an integral unique part of the man so of course it was able to catch and hold his attention like very few things did.

When the change seemed completed -- Bruce was now Bruce-sized and Bruce-shaped and there wasn't even a hint of green tint to be seen -- Tony scooped up a blanket off the back of a nearby couch and then closed the remaining distance between them to wrap it gently around Bruce.

Bruce's eyelids flickered and then he was blinking up at Tony dazedly. "Easy," Tony said, pulling the blanket more firmly around Bruce's shoulders. "I've got you."

"Tony?" Bruce reached up to clasp the blanket tighter to him as he turned his head to look at their surroundings. "Where-"

"My place," Tony replied before Bruce could finish the question. "Alien army's defeated, Loki's in custody, city's been saved," he continued, not sure how much Bruce remembered from when the Hulk was out.

"The rest of the team...?" Bruce asked, then frowned and answered his own question. "They went to SHIELD."

Interesting. So Bruce remembered at least some things that happened when he was the Hulk. "Yeah," Tony confirmed. "Debrief. We figured everyone would be happier if the Big Guy sat it out and since I rate SHIELD debriefings only slightly higher than SI board meetings on the fun scale, I volunteered to keep him -- you -- company."

If anything, Bruce's frown deepened. "You don't have your armor on."

And Tony knew where this was going, but sometimes, he figured, the smartest thing to do was to play dumb. "Nope. Contrary to popular belief, I don't usually wear it unless I'm fighting. Or, occasionally, going out for donuts when I'm hungover. Either or."

"You took it off while you were in a room with the Other Guy," Bruce said, still frowning at Tony, and yeah, Tony should've figured that Bruce was too smart to get thrown off his point by Tony playing dumb. "And... did you offer him alcohol?!"

Tony shrugged, deliberately making a show of it being no big deal. "I was going to have one," -which he still hadn't managed to get- "It would've been rude to drink in front of him and not offer."

Bruce was looking at him like he was crazy. "You offered the Hulk alcohol."

"Don't make such a big deal out of it. I offer everyone alcohol. I even offered Loki a drink and I like the big guy a lot more than I like Loki."

"You don't have an ounce of self preservation, do you?" Bruce shook his head, his expression that particular mixture of exasperation, disbelief and affection that Tony was more used to seeing from Pepper and Rhodey. "He could've killed you."

Tony sighed. "Is the Hulk capable of turning me into nothing more than a damp stain on my living room floor? Of course he is, he's the Hulk. But he wasn't going to do that -- not when he'd put all that effort into saving my life an hour ago."

Bruce blinked. "Wait. What?"

"Really? You remember me offering you a friendly drink, but you don't remember catching me when I was falling from outer space and then roaring at me till I woke up?" He peered closer at Bruce, but Bruce's expression remained one of confusion. "Really? Nothing? Because I would've thought that would've left a much bigger impression than a casual drink invitation."

"I don't exactly get to pick and choose what I remember," Bruce pointed out logically, even though he still looked a little befuddled in a bemused sort of way. "I- He- I caught you? What do you mean falling from outer space?" Before Tony could respond though Bruce figured out the answer on his own. "Wait. You didn't go through that portal did you?"

God, it was so nice to talk to someone with a brain. "Got it in one," he confirmed. "I was trying to get rid of this nuke and that was the only safe place I could think to put it."

"For a specific definition of 'safe'," Bruce said dryly.

"That's pretty much the best you can hope for when dealing with nuclear weapons," Tony said, smiling a little at Bruce's wry humor despite the subject matter.

"You know that goes double for the Other Guy, right?" Bruce's voice was soft and serious in spite of the faint smile he still wore.

Tony sighed. "I know you believe that," he replied, matching Bruce's serious tone.

Bruce made a face at that. "It's not just something I believe, Tony. He's dangerous. He's always going to be dangerous every time he comes out."

"We're all dangerous, Bruce," Tony said quietly, then took a deep breath, thinking it was probably time to drop it for now. "But this conversation is getting awkward and I refuse to have awkward conversations in the rubble that used to be my living room."

"Sorry," Bruce said with a grimace, looking around them.

Tony waved the apology away. "That's not what I'm talking about. I regularly destroy my living rooms worse than this just doing experiments, this is nothing. No, what's awkward is that I'm fully dressed having a conversation with a good looking super smart guy with no clothes on." Bruce clutched his blanket tighter and turned red. "No, it just won't do. We need to equalize things. So either I can get undressed..." he said, moving to pull his t-shirt off.

"Tony!" Bruce exclaimed, reaching out a hand as if to stop him.

"Or you can agree to go out with the team for some shawarma and let me put you up in a room that hasn't been redecorated by gods and Avengers and I'll lend you some pants," Tony continued as if Bruce hadn't interrupted him. "I'll even throw in shirt, socks and underwear for free. Shoes might cost you though."

Bruce was starting to smile now even if he wasn't agreeing. "Tony, I don't think it's a good idea if I stay-"

"Okay, fine! I'll throw in the shoes for free too." Tony clapped a hand companionably to Bruce's blanket clad shoulder. "You drive a hard bargain, my friend."

He watched as Bruce visibly thought about continuing to protest before blowing out his breath in a long sigh. "Fine," he said finally. "But only for a few days."

"Sure thing," Tony agreed cheerfully. "We can renegotiate then."

Bruce shook his head with a disbelieving fond smile, the same as the one he'd given Tony back on the helicarrier when Tony had poked him. "You're psychologically incapable of taking no for an answer, aren't you?"

"Only when it's a stupid answer. You can argue with me about it when your few days are up." Tony grinned. "If you still want to."

Bruce gave him a look that was strikingly similar to the ones that Pepper gave him when she was secretly amused but didn't want him to know it. Tony took it as a good sign. "I definitely will if you don't hold up your end of the bargain, Stark. Pants me."

"You do realize that that actually means the exact opposite of what you want me to do, don't you?"


That sounded remarkably like Pepper in tone as well and may have made Tony get up and start towards his bedroom to get the requested garments just a tiny bit faster as a result. He didn't like to admit it, but the woman had trained him well.

He thought about what the Hulk had said to him -- the Big Guy was right on the money on Bruce's feelings and Tony was determined to try and ease that -- broker some kind of truce if he could between the two sides of Bruce's psyche. It wasn't going to be easy, making someone deal with things that scare them never was, but nobody could say Tony didn't have staying power when he put his mind to something.

Besides, the Hulk (who was just another side of Bruce) had saved his life. How could he do anything less than save theirs in return?