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The Essence of The Hulk

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She was going to kill him.
Well, not literally. In fact, it was becoming increasingly obvious that he couldn't be killed, but she still had the thought ringing through her head. He had left her! He had run away again, disappearing into the wide world!

Betty Ross finished packing her satchel. She remembered everything he had said before about what she could and couldn't bring. No cards, no ID, no cell phone, no tablet. She had spent a few weeks quietly gathering cash from various sources. She sold some of her things, cashed out some options, but did not close her bank account. She even left some money in it, and used her debit card to buy things like gasoline and groceries, just like normal. But she was quietly amassing a wad of cash. During this time she had also continued her search for Bruce.

Her dad had asked her about it, asked her if she was going to try to find Bruce. She feels very proud of the way she performed under his scrutiny. Major Ross was an experienced interrogator, but she had deflected and then cried a little and told him that it killed her to admit that he was right, and that she just wanted things to go back to the way they were before the accident, before her boyfriend became a monster. A friend of hers, a theater major, had once said that acting just requires that you make yourself feel the thing you're trying to convey. She started with the truth but presented it how she wanted him to see it. She didn't even tip her hand by hugging him or calling him "Daddy", or anything. He gave her a stern lecture about the whole thing and then let her go on her way.

She noticed that he had still been keeping tabs on her after that, but not as much as before, and the tail was easy to lose if she chose to do so.

She picked up her satchel. She had water in there, and some protein bars for emergencies. She had some spare underwear, one of those deodorant stones, a toothbrush and tube of toothpaste, a lighter, matches in a waterproof container, a small but very sharp penknife, a comb and brush, a flashlight, some jewelry she had bought with part of her cash-wad. Sometimes when US dollars don't work as currency, diamonds and gold might do the trick. She was briefly glad of the side-effects from her Depo shot; no need for hygiene products for the next three months. The fake IDs and the cash-wad she had acquired were tucked into a body pouch against her skin. She laced up her hiking boots, put on her hat and sunglasses, and headed to the airport. She wanted to keep the knife and the water, and didn't want a record of her journey, so she had found a private airport and managed to make a deal with one of the freelance pilots who frequented it.

The impatience was maddening. She had finally found him, or at least thought that she had. She’d been very creative with some of her searches, and knew better than to follow any false trails he might leave for the sattilites. She’d gotten a blip in a steaming jungle somewhere, and she would have her work cut out for her once she landed, since she was only aware of his general area. But she at least knew where to look, now. She wanted to be there instantly.

She practiced the breathing techniques he had taught her. Patience, Betty. The flight seemed to take forever, and she tried to nap when she could.

---

The look on his face was priceless.
She had discovered where he was buying his supplies, and had just resolved to set up a stake-out to watch for him. He was negotiating with a spice dealer in the large open-air market when she walked up right behind him and loudly asked the dealer for Phuket powder.

He was staring at her, and he looked like he might start babbling or crying but then his features smoothed and she saw him breathing and counting.

"If I hug you, will you hug me back or just run away from me again?" She meant it to be sarcastic, but it just came out genuine and soft.

"Oh, Betty." He darted toward her and wrapped himself around her. She hugged him back fiercely.

"Why did you run?" She couldn't keep her voice level.

"After I wrecked Harlem? I couldn't stay after that. Your dad..."

She cut him off, "I know why you ran from Dad. I know why you ran from Harlem. Why did you run from ME?"

"It's not safe, it's important to keep you safe and I'm not-"

"Bruce!" she drew out the word with a little hiss at the end. "I'm never safer than when I am with you. You abandoned me!" She held him at arm's length. "But I won't abandon you."

He just stared at her and she guessed that he was focusing on his breath instead of answering.

She laughed and touched his arm, softly. "Just finish your shopping and take me home."

He did.

---

When they got back to his little hovel, she expected him to kiss her, to just grab her and not let her go, but he seemed a bit guarded now. He gave her the brief tour, showing her the water pump and his privy, and the one room where he did his cooking, eating, sleeping, and meditating. He had a table and a single chair, a mat on the floor, and a cabinet for dry goods.

"I'm sorry for the lack of mosquito netting. They don't really bother with me anymore."

She nodded. "I bet you're not tasty to them now."

He gave a little wry grin and rubbed his face. "So um... I have a mat that I sleep on, and I don't really have guest accommodations..."

Betty was just... angry. After everything they'd been through together, he was going to treat her like a guest? Like a stranger? She considered snapping at him but then decided to play it another way. She closed her eyes and held out her hands as though she were meditating and took a deep breath through her nose. She was even more exaggerated about the exhale, letting it whoosh noisily back out of her, and letting one eye crack open at him.

"What? Are you..." He started to reach toward her but then dropped his hand.

"I am trying *deep breath* to contain *exhale* my own rage monster, here." She said. "It's not big and green but it is terrible and fierce."

"I'm sorry." He says it almost reflexively.

“Sorry’s a good start.” She continued her elaborate parody of meditative breathing.

"I know you're angry with me. I just couldn't risk you... you're too important. Knowing that you're safe is part of how I keep... it... under wraps."

She rolled her eyes. "Now you sound like my Dad. He always said stupid crap like that to me, too. It was his explanation for why he was never there for me." His face had gone very still and she couldn't read anything through the mask. "Don't be him, ok? Don't be like my Dad."

The mask held but his eyes slipped past her. She cursed herself silently. Apparently she hit too hard with that one, but it was important that he understand! "Bruce, I am not afraid of you. I'm not afraid of... of... your greener self. Remember? He likes me. He protected me. He and I shared a rainstorm, and that was possibly the best moment of my life."

The mask was still in place as he started putting away the few food items he had brought back with them. "He's still dangerous. A monster." The words were wooden.

She considered how to answer that. After all, statistically speaking, using her bathroom at home or crossing the street on a busy day were more dangerous to her than an encounter with the Hulk. Heck, these days just teaching at Culver could put her in mortal danger if some idiot got ideas from the incident at Virginia Tech.

But Betty knew Bruce. She knew a little bit about his demons, and realized that it really wasn't her father, but his own father that he feared. She also knew how to communicate with him when he wasn't feeling talkative.

She came up beside him, knowing that if she grabbed him from behind it would scare him. She reached out and took his hand and just held it, running her thumb over his knuckles. He looked up, but not at her and started the breathing exercises again, and this time she joined in, letting herself sigh a little on the exhale.

And she wasn't sure when the kiss started. She kind of came back to herself in the middle of being kissed fiercely by the love of her life. He growled a little, broke the kiss and leaned his head down onto her forehead. "You always could erode my control."

She was dizzy from the kiss and his closeness and curled her arms around him, sighing. He growled in response. "That little noise always undoes me."

She kissed him, then. She felt greedy and just tried to devour him from the mouth down. He picked her up bodily and set her behind on the only table. She pulled at his shirt and found herself saying, "You could just get big and tear these clothes off both of us..."

He jumped and pulled away from her, panting. "Don't say that! Ugh!" There was panic on his face and his eyes flickered green for a brief second. He walked shakily to the little mat and dropped bonelessly into his meditation position.

She felt a spike of anger as he retreated, but in her frustration, realization dawned on her. "Oh! Oh, Bruce. That's why you ran! That's why you left me, isn't it?" She remembered making out in that cheap hotel room and how he had pulled away with regret when his heart-rate monitor beeped. Things had moved so quickly after that and she hadn't really considered the ramifications.

His eyes were closed and he was clearly struggling for focus as he said, "I'm pretty sure I can't do this with… you… without risking an... incident."

Her mind whirled into action. Betty knew full well that she was smarter than Bruce, and was not hindered by his own peculiar blind spots. She remembered the feel of him shifting underneath her when they used that weird serum tried to cure him of his... problem. She remembered talking him down and bringing him back to her. She also remembered him speaking, as the Hulk, afterward. Ok, he'd only said, "Hulk Smash" but those were words, but before, when they shared that storm together in the cave, the Hulk didn’t seem to have any words. The Hulk had terrified her at first, but she had already had some time to get to know the gentle giant.

"And how long has it been since the last incident?" She asked carefully.

"6 days, 14 hours, 33 minutes." He didn't even check his watch.

"And what set that off?"

He opened his eyes then and ducked his head, guiltily. "I did." When she didn't say anything to that, he continued. "I... I've been experimenting with control. I'm retaining more memory of what he does, and I feel like I can almost... talk to him."

She grinned. "That's amazing! Bruce, I want to help you with that." She hopped down from the table and crouched down in front of him. "And I have some ideas that you might not have considered, Doctor." She leaned over and kissed him, slow and soft.

The wound up in a tangle on the mat and she moved slowly and deliberately. She hoped it didn't come across as timid or cautious. She kissed him and petted his hair, the way he always liked it. She rolled on top of him and straddled his waist. "I think I can handle it if he slips his leash." She leaned forward and put a hand on either side of his head. "But if I can't, I can at least get away if I'm on top," she smirked.

She *had* taken that class on Tantric practices, and she put them to use. Breathing together became an erotic exercise. She peeled out of her shirt and put his hand on her ribs, just under her breast. "Focus on me. Focus on my skin. Not on my arousal or yours, but just my skin." She kissed him while he stroked her side with his callused hand.

Soon it turned into a game, where he was petting her and tracing patterns into her skin. At one point she opened her eyes and saw him with a look of thoughtful concentration. She made eye contact and asked, "Was that a formula you just wrote on me?"

He leaned back down and murmured, "Yeah, I'll do it again. See if you can figure out which one it is..."

"All science classes should be taught like this," She sighed and he chuckled. She'd missed that chuckle. "So, can I start to focus on you, yet?" He closed his eyes, and after a few moments nodded slowly. She started to pet him the same way, tracing patterns and drawing circles and swirls. She knew to keep her touch firm and not tickle him.

She was the first one to cheat. She tweaked one of his nipples and he growled in startled appreciation. His own hand wandered to her breast and he buzzed his fingertips past her own stiffened nub, still in her soft cotton bra. It was like an electric current had passed through her from his fingers to her groin. She sighed and heard him growl again in response. She lifted herself off of him and reached to slide her shorts down, along with her underwear.

"I... I need to slow down again." He didn't sound bothered, in fact his voice was a little bit slurred.

She was still in the middle of shimmying out of her shorts and pulled them back up. "Ok, but I have a nifty idea for intermission." She crouched down to carefully remove her boots, being slow and deliberate with each motion. She thought about Japanese tea ceremony and made her movements ritualistic and measured.

He sat up and did the same with his battered running shoes. Slow movements, the whole process done as a ritual. He smiled at her and caught her eye. "Tea ceremony?"

"Remember when we went to the Japanese Festival?"

"Of course. I think of that day often."

"It was very peaceful." She stood up, shoes set carefully aside with her socks tucked neatly in them. She stretched and then looked into his eyes. "My ceremony's not done." She unhooked the button on her shorts, carefully, as though the button were fragile and might break if she forced it. She smoothed her hands over the shorts carefully and then reached for her fly. She peeled the fly open, slowly, revealing the zipper.

Bruce had gone very still, but it was not the mask of a stranger that watched her.

She lifted the zipper pull carefully and hinged it back and forth to make sure that it would move freely. She then smoothed down the front of her shorts. She brought her hand back to the fly and peeled it open again, and lifted the zipper pull, this time easing it slowly down in as graceful a motion as she could manage. Once it was down, she once again smoothed her hands down the front of the shorts.

He was still sitting so still but his gaze was intense and not the slightest bit green.

She then carefully slid the shorts down with careful, ritualistic movements. Once the shorts were down she stepped gracefully out of them, then knelt down like a geisha and picked up the shorts, smoothing them again and folding them precisely, bending and repeating motions with ceremonial grace.

She looked at him after she set them down next to her. His eyes glittered and he gave a little nod. Remaining on her knees, she reached behind her to unhook her bra. She allowed it to fall from her shoulders, and carefully smoothed and folded it, even though she wouldn't normally do so with a plain cotton bra. She stood up and repeated the process with her underwear, finally sliding them down and then kneeling to smooth them and fold them and place them in the pile of her clothes. For good measure, she also retrieved her shirt from where it had been carelessly thrown and folded it to add to the pile.

He absorbed the whole performance and was doing the breathing exercise but watching avidly. Then he got up, himself, and did the same performance for her, except that he wasn't wearing underwear. He never used to go "commando", but it occurred to her that tripling in size would make the whities awfully tight. His movements were graceful and she was also struck with the ridiculous idea of opening a strip club for sexy scientists doing tea ceremony with their clothes.

She expected him to kneel down opposite her, but he walked to her and reached out his hand. He was hard, but only partially. She resisted the urge to just grab him and lick him like candy, took his hand instead, and let him pull her to her feet.

"I think I'd like to focus on you some more," He said. He led her over to the table and helped her hop onto it.

"On the dinner table?" She asked, giggling. She remembered other times and other tables.

"I think it's only appropriate since I'd like to have you for dinner." and then he kissed her. He leaned over to push her on her back and then started up with the swirling touches. His hands traced over her body again and she reached her arms above her head to give him full access to her torso. She tucked her arms behind her head and settled a bit. He petted her on her stomach and sides and chest, and then started to swirl over her breasts with feather light touches. He swirled over her nipples, too, but treated them like the rest of her body, not tweaking or paying them special attention. She cooed and arched against him. He drifted his hands lower, over her legs and started a sweeping motion inward on her thighs. She let her legs fall open naturally and tried to continue the breathing exercises.

His "dinner" remark was not a tease. She felt his tongue slide between her folds and flick her clit with uncanny accuracy. They had been familiar with one another once, but it had been such a long time. And his style had shifted, though that might be an extension of the game they had been playing; he was slow, deliberate, and would move and then pause. She offered noises of encouragement but no words. He explored her, carefully, and only when she started to wiggle a little did he bring a hand up to touch her.

This, too, was slow and careful. He touched her with a single finger, sliding through her folds and mapping her whole area; lips, folds, examining her clit in a way that was almost clinical, and then finally seeking entrance to her.

As soon as he had slid two fingers in, his mouth was back and he was dragging his tongue across her clit while he stroked her from within.

Betty had never come so easily in her life. It caught her off guard, even, rolling over her like a wave and crashing against her.

She cried out and bucked and gave a long groan.

"That's new." He said, with a smile in his voice. "Are you OK??

She gasped for breath and then managed to find her voice. "Um... well, I'm not sure we ever did so much build-up before..."

He nodded and said, "Yeah, we've been at it for a couple of hours, now..."

She sat up and pinned him with a dark look. "Actually, Dr. Banner," She put on her Sexy Scientist voice, "As far as I'm concerned, we started this in that ratty hotel room, months ago." She couldn't believe that he didn't get it; they'd had a hot make-out session, which was interrupted, and then were on the run for their lives and then he'd been gone. Of course the sexual tension was going to be high.

"I'm so sorry..." Bruce looked genuinely distressed. "I mean, yeah, it was like that for me, too, but..."

"Don't believe that stupid lie about women not liking sex, Bruce. I've told you before; they disproved that. With Science. We have a sex drive, we get horny, and stay horny, too."

"No, no, I'm not saying that..." He got that contemplative look again and chewed his lip. "I guess I really thought that by retreating from the world I was making the best choice for everyone, making things easier for you. Like, that I was the only one with a price to pay for it."

"Bruce Banner, you may be a brilliant physicist, but you are occasionally epically stupid."

"Call me stupid again," he said with a wry smirk. "It's helping me tame the raging hard-on."

"Speaking of that hard-on..." She slid off the table. Geez, she was so wet that "slid" really was the right verb, there. "Lie down on your mat."

He looked as though he might protest, but she pointed to the floor and gave him her best smile. And then sighed, artistically, for good measure. He smirked again and stretched out on his back on the mat.

"Do you want to discuss this first, or should I just take the lead?" She wasn't sure where to go from here. She knew what she wanted, but needed to be sure he was with her, and would stay with her.

He stretched, then closed his eyes and breathed. His voice rose up, distant and relaxed. "I want you to just take the lead. Whatever you want is fine." He continued to breathe like that and she saw the way his face relaxed.

She stepped over him and then knelt down, straddling him. She tilted her hips and rubbed up against him, and then slid her hand between them to cup him softly and slide him between her folds. She hadn't taken him into herself yet, was just sliding him through her wetness.

His eyes flew open and he groaned, but it wasn't a bad sound. She saw his eyelids flutter a bit and then he was back to the breathing.

It suddenly occurred to her how she might be able to handle things if he went big and green in the middle. Just this, what she was doing now, might be enough for the Hulk. She resisted the urge to say so, but vowed to discuss this with him later.

And discovered something else that startled her; the thought of doing this, with the big green version of Bruce... it was exciting. She slid back and forth, fondling him softly as she did so, and in the back of her mind, part of her was doing calculations. She had decided that she would probably need more lube if she was going to seriously consider doing something like this with the Hulk when Bruce locked eyes with her and said, "Stop," very softly.

She stopped, but smiled. "Ok. Stopped." She didn't move, but didn't get up, either.

He licked his lips and said, "I know I told you to take lead but..."

"Just because I'm leading doesn't mean you can't tell me where to go." She touched his chest. "Tell me what you need."

He nodded and said, "Just breathe with me for a minute." As she followed his rhythm, she noticed that they were approaching a place of calm together.

He settled his hands on her hips and they breathed in together. As they breathed out, he shifted his hips and slipped inside her suddenly.

"Oh!" she cried out and then, "Bruce! God, Bruce" she curled down to his chest and just moaned.

He had been quiet and after the initial thrust he was still again. "I... I think I can keep going." He said. It was a breathy whisper and she responded in kind.

"Yes, let's keep going." She put her hands on either side of his face and shifted her position slightly for better leverage, and suddenly it was like that first wonderful summer together, years ago. No words, no awkwardness, just perfect, enmeshed movement.

She was ready to come again, but didn't want to throw him off. She looked into his eyes, thinking that she should say something but then she was drowning in his eyes and the wave crashed into her again, stronger this time and unwilling to roll away so quickly. She heard him growl, and the growl turned deeper this time. Just as quickly as he had entered her, he slid free and rolled, pulling her with him.

"Bruce?" She gasped, still feeling aftershocks and trying to restart her brain.

"S'ok..." he said but his voice was so much lower, and she could see his shift of color.

Betty was at a complete loss for a few seconds. She realized that she wasn't sure whether she wanted him to transform... or not. She lay on her side facing him and decided to just go along with the flow and deal with what happened next, regardless of what it was.

Bruce rolled onto his back again, eyes squeezed shut and breath stuttering in his chest. He looked at her, helplessly and his eyes had shifted to an electric green. "Betty." It could be a prayer, or a cry for help, or just recognition. She wasn't sure.

"I'm here." She said, and pulled his hand into hers. "I'm not scared, and I'm not leaving."

He nodded and then there was a shuddering roar. The hand she held grew too large for her, so she grasped a finger instead. Bruce's face grew and flattened, and his body grew larger and everything turned that shade that she'd come to think of as "Hulk Green."

The Hulk huffed and looked around, his eyes focusing on Betty. She petted his finger with her hand and said, "Hi there."

He blinked a few times and peeled his lips back from blunt teeth in a smile or a grimace. "BET-TY"

"Yeah, it's me, Betty. I found you."

"BET-TY CAME."

Betty's mind whirled. Bruce had said something about playing with control, and so she suddenly wondered if the Hulk was saying that he was glad she was here, or if he was commenting on her recent orgasm. She had no idea how to convey this to Hulk in a question he could understand.

"Yes, I'm here."

Hulk frowned. "HERE FOR BAN-NER."

"Well, yes, I'm here for Bruce but for you, too." As soon as she said it, she realized it was true.

"HULK..." The Hulk looked confused for a minute but palmed his erection with one meaty hand.

Betty swallowed hard. That was one big erection in that giant hand.

"HULK WANT..." Hulk looked at her again. "BET-TY TOUCH."

She wasn't sure what he was actually asking for, but she nodded anyway, "Sure. Yes. I can touch you, Hulk." She started by petting his arm a little bit, with a firm hand like Bruce liked it.

The Hulk huffed. "NGH. TICKLES."

So she scratched with her nails instead. The Hulk made a purring noise, which was possibly the weirdest thing she'd ever experienced, and there had been that Tantric class.

"Hulk," She said softly. "Do you want me to touch you anywhere else?"

"ELSE." Hulk nodded.

She reached out and put a hand at the base of his cock. "Here?" she grabbed firmly.

"HULK LIKE." he said. Then, "BET-TY CLIMB ON BAN-NER."

Betty sucked in her breath. "Yes. I climbed on Bruce. Do... you want me to climb on you, too?" She wasn't sure this was a good idea, and it briefly felt like cheating to do this, but then the Hulk made a face that was so like Bruce that she remembered that they really were the same person.

"BET-TY CLIMB ON HULK. HULK NO SMASH."

Oh, God, she thought. He was thinking just then, that's why he looked like Bruce. "Ok, But I might need some help. Can you pick me up?"

Being lifted one-handed was surreal. She had been goaded into riding a mechanical bull once at a dreadful bar with her friends from college. The hulk was wide like that and she found that it was hard to get purchase. And she was face-to face with the largest erect penis she'd ever even imagined.

"Um." She looked past it to the Hulk's face. "Do you want to do what Bruce and I were doing before?" She remembered how brazenly cocky she was, thinking that she could do this.

The Hulk grunted and said, "BET-TY LEAD. HULK NO SMASH." and looked at her expectantly.

She slid forward over his cock. It wasn't as big as all that, now that she was working with it. Maybe the size of Bruce's forearm, but a bit thicker. She did her best to wrap herself around him and slide back and forth. She realized that not only was she wet enough to pull this off, but that she was getting wetter by the second.

"BET-TY SLIPPERY." Hulk noticed, too. He gave a soft growl that was almost Bruce's sexy growl.

She slid forward until she was snuggled up against the head of his cock. He grunted louder and she decided that while there was no way this was ever going to fit inside of her, sliding back and fort on it had its own merits.

But leverage was tricky. "Hulk," She panted. "Can I lean against your hands or something?"

Hulk put his hands up and pushed against her, gently. She leaned forward and pressed her head against his surprisingly soft palm. "Yeah. That's... yeah. Ok." She reached up with one hand to steady herself and used the other to slip between them to cup the other side of his cock as it slid back and forth under her. Hulk was starting to move.

"NO SMASH." Hulk said but shifted his hips slightly to slide back and forth. Each time he did, the ridge of his cock rubbed against her clit and she dizzily thought to herself that penetration was seriously overrated.

Back and forth, slip and slide. Betty was no longer even really thinking. She did curl his thumb forward and lick at it, realizing that his fingers were like the size of most guys' cocks. She licked and sucked at the green thumb and the Hulk growled again.

She was sucking that thumb into her mouth now, and working with Hulk's rhythm, which was surprisingly like Bruce's. This time she could almost see the wave approaching her, and could feel her toes start to tingle.

"BET-TY HOT." Hulk is the master of understatement. "BET-TY COME."

One tiny corner of her mind laughed hysterically because now she was pretty sure that his earlier reference was a *double entendre* and that's when the wave slowly crested over her.

She cried out against his thumb and just let him rut up against her while she rode the wave back down, but then he gave a larger thrust and roared...

She was covered in Hulk-come. So was the Hulk.

"NGH. HULK HAPPY." The Hulk lolled his head to the side. "HULK LIKE BET-TY."

She released his thumb and replied, "Betty like Hulk." Great, now she was talking like him.

Hulk patted her back softly and then sighed. "SEE BET-TY SOON?"

"Yes, I want to see you again soon. I'll talk to Bruce about that." She wasn't sure if Bruce would be willing to let her anywhere near the Hulk again but suddenly felt secure in her powers of persuasion.

"HULK SLEEP." And immediately after that, he gave a buzzing snore. He also started to shrink down and lose his green complexion. The next thing she knew, Betty was laying on a sleepy Bruce and they were both covered in gluey goo.

"Whazzat... ngh. What... happened?" Bruce was still trying to focus on her face. "Why are we sticky?"

"Um..." She tried not to laugh. "Heh. Um. Essence of Hulk?"