"I'm very, very mad at you!" Bruce pointed a finger at Charlotte accusingly. 'Very!"
He'd finally escaped his lab, and the company of Tony Stark, on a mission to find the person responsible for his misery. He hadn't had far to go, just up a few floors to her Manhattan residence in Stark Tower.
"Hours! Hours I'll never get back. Tony telling me all about his psychic wounds. Elevators in Switzerland. Angry ficus trees. Did you know he had a nanny when he was fourteen? Well, now I know it too!" And he'd never get the images out of his mind. That was her fault too! "And when I asked why he was telling me all of this, do you know what he said? Do you?" He didn't wait for an answer. "He said that you told him he needed to have professional medical supervision if he wanted to experiment on himself! And that you suggested me!" His voice had been rising through his account. Then he stopped, pushing his glasses up on the bridge of his nose. "I'm really mad at you," he repeated.
She looked at him innocently, glancing over at Natasha who was sipping from a china teacup. Teacup? He finally noticed that the low table in front of the sofa had a full tea service set out on it, complete with plates of little sandwiches and iced confections.
"Terribly sorry to hear that, Doctor Banner," she replied with just a note of contrition.
"You are not," he reproached. The twinkle in her eye had ruined any attempt she might have made to seem like she was sorry for Bruce's suffering.
She shrugged one shoulder. "Maybe a little." Next to her Tasha swallowed a smile. "Tea?" She waved a hand at the table.
"The petit fours are delicious," Tasha offered.
Tea? She was offering him tea? Like that would make up for his psychic pain, listening to Tony Stark unburden his soul for what had seemed an eternity.
He was about to tell her 'no', and leave in high dudgeon. That's when he saw them. "Are those cucumber sandwiches?" he asked hopefully. He loved cucumber sandwiches.
"They are indeed." Then Charlotte was holding the plate out and he found himself sitting down and taking a tea sandwich, admiring the fact that the crusts had been cut off so neatly.
He took a swallow of the tea that had been placed before him, recognizing it as Nilgiri. "I used to drink this in India." He ate another cucumber sandwich, then a few more. More tea. This was really good. He wondered if there was any watercress. Then he looked up, feeling as if he were being watched. Both women were gazing at him serenely. "I'm still mad," he asserted. They better not forget that.
"Of course you are, Doctor Banner. But you can be mad and have a lemon tart, can't you?" Another plate was proffered, this time holding dainty bite size lemon tarts with just a dollop of meringue. Lemon tarts? He loved those.
Popping one in his mouth, he savoured the tartness of the lemon as it melted against his tongue. Okay, he might be ticked off, but that wasn't going to stop him from enjoying some of his favourite things. Whoa. Wait a minute. He pushed at his glasses again, sitting up straight. "You set me up!"
"So you've said," Charlotte replied with a smile.
"No, no—" he waved a finger "—I mean this, all the things I love, the tea, and the food. How did you know?" he demanded.
Tasha and Charlotte looked at each other, and then burst into laughter. "Spies, Doctor," Tasha answered, before looking at Charlotte and beginning to laugh all over again.
"Softening me up! You did set Tony on me, you knew!"
"I never said I didn't," Charlotte pointed out reasonably. "Now, Bruce, don't pout. It really isn't attractive." Next to her, Tasha honest to god giggled. It freaked him out.
"You're mean," was all he could think of.
"I'm sorry, Bruce, but when it comes to Tony sharing, it's every man for himself. New friend on the block needs to take one for the team. You'll figure it out after you've known him as long as I have."
"Why me?" he grumped. "She's a new friend." He pointed at Tasha.
Eyes dancing, Charlotte looked at Tasha, then back to Bruce. "She's scarier than you are."
"I am?" Tasha was practically preening. "You say the nicest things." She shoulder bumped Charlotte with a grin.
He sighed in defeat. He'd been totally outmaneuvered and wrapped up with a bow. "Let me guess, Charlotte, you've heard the nanny story before."
"You have no idea," she said dryly.
"Yeah, I probably don't, and for the record, I'd like to keep it that way."
"Duly noted, Doctor Banner." Charlotte picked up yet another plate. "Cream Puff?" Cream Puffs? He loved those!