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Title: How Many Scientists Does it Take to Screw in the Stark Tower?
Fandom: Avengers
Pairing: Tony Stark/Bruce Banner
Rating: PG, this part
Word Count: 1,963
Status: Chapter 4 of ?
Summary: Honestly, Bruce hadn't gone into this looking to form any lasting attachments - if he was honest with himself, he knew better.

Tony Stark seems intent on giving Bruce one 'normal' week, which possibly means more to Bruce than he could ever express. He had been at a stage in his life where he was just willing to live as he was. Strangely, he'd never really consciously decided that he as living the way he intended to for the rest of his life. He had just settled into it, like a rut. Like it was the only possible place for him.

Part of it had been the day-to-day nature of abandoning any self-interest and acting as a doctor for anyone who could use one. And there were a lot of needy people in the world, which had led him place to place mindlessly. At the beginning, that had really helped. Bruce had run from one emergency to the next - never slowing down. It didn't give him time to think, time to realize how angry he was.

That had helped. Where he would say the experience of running until he collapsed, then picking himself up again had matured him, Tony might rightly say that it had aged him, instead. Both were probably true.

For six days, they don't speak about the other guy. Tony doesn't look at him like anyone but Bruce Banner, and they discuss all sorts of things. Theoretical physics, childhood heroes, movies that Bruce had missed. Movies that Tony had somehow missed. And the sex, which Bruce found equally more surreal and more grounding each time it happened. Tony was impossible.

"Not impossible," he argues, leaning back in bed with his shirt off, while Bruce catches his breath and debates if actually tying Tony down would work and if that would be a breech of trust or not.

"No, I'm pretty sure you're actually impossible," Bruce disagrees. "You're still wearing pants."

Tony of course has no argument, because he is, so he just looks amused. He likes to be contrary to expectations - which affected Bruce, even though he was only barely familiar with what those expectations were. Because the world believed that Tony Stark - billionaire, genius, playboy, philanthropist - was mostly out for himself in life. Because they believed he'd shuck his pants for any pretty face with female genitalia (neither of which Bruce possessed), Bruce was stuck fighting an uphill battle to actually return any sexual favors.

He hadn't even seen Tony naked. Most of the way, sure, when they were swimming or dressing. Stark wasn't shy or hiding anything. He was just distracting and insistent. Bruce was still working out exactly what that was supposed to be leading (or pushing) him toward. In his own way, Tony's being patient with him.

And Tony hardly lives the usual executive lifestyle, either. Bruce discovers how much of a day Tony actually spends working - not just thinking about working, but actually with his hands on a project. He has no idea how the man keeps it up. He doesn't hide anything from Bruce - not even 'top secret suit stuff' as he puts it, which, smart as Bruce is, isn't his field. Tony just seems to appreciate that Bruce can keep up if Tony explains and Bruce asks enough questions.

The week is normal enough to allow a round of golf, which Tony hates, but he does every week anyway to keep up public appearances. The reporters that show up are kept roped away, reduced to taking pictures with long distance lenses and shouting questions between players setting up their shots. Tony studiously ignores their very existence.

"You're not going to play?" Tony asks him, at the first hole. "It's better if you're drunk, I'll admit but - show a little team spirit."

"Tony, I've never played golf in my life," Bruce defends himself, but he knows he's not getting out of this. Stark looks at him like he's a unicorn, and Bruce picks a golf club at random.

"What kind of doctor are you?" he asks in disbelief. "Never played golf."

Bruce misses on the first two swings before he understands the dynamics of motion that are really required in order to hit the ball and not the ground. Then he misses again - serenely - before he launches the ball almost fifty yards into the rough. Tony just watches, wordlessly, over his sunglasses. If he hadn't believed Bruce before, he did now.

"You're on," Bruce challenges back, unashamed. The truth is, it feels so natural and human to be learning something so - practically useless. He doesn't mind being bad at it.

"Come here," Tony tells him, fouling the photographers chances for any incriminating evidence by leading Bruce behind the golf cart. "Here, hold your club Captain Caveman. I'm not even going to get into what's wrong with just grabbing the biggest iron out of the back, let alone the Freudian implications there. But at least you're going to hold it right."

Bruce lines himself up like he's about to take a shot, and Tony rearranges his hands, tips his shoulders, straightens his back, and then steps in behind him. Tony's hands on Bruce's wrists and his breath practically pushing into Bruce's ear, he shows Bruce the proper twist and dynamics of a swing. "That'll at least get you started," he murmurs.

The proximity gets something started, anyway. Up close, Tony Stark feels like he's all kinetic. He gives no sign of it, but the arc reactor put out a lot of energy, and it seemed to almost hum with it. Tony's heartbeat was almost hidden under the subtle vibrations that the reactor put out. In a way, it almost was his heartbeat, and it suited him. From any distance, it was imperceptible but with Tony's back against Bruce's chest he could feel it. It transferred through contact, and it's so uniquely, intimately Tony that Bruce has another moment of irreality.

Tony takes his silence for its exact meaning and laughs - stepping back and patting Bruce encouragingly on the shoulder. It's then when Bruce realizes how much he actually likes Tony. Not just as a friend (who happens to be divine at the art of finding secondary applications for his overly clever mouth) and not just as a fellow scientist or teammate. His first thought is to wonder how dangerous that is.

His second is that they'll probably find out. Tony isn't going to drop this or let Bruce retreat from it.

"Smile when you miss," Tony coaches him. "Or look pissed, I guess. Nice to make the reporters a little nervous now and then."

"This game is never going to end," Bruce promises, but he laughs. "Hitting a golf ball is one thing, but there's no way I'm going to be able to make it go where I want."

"I'll help. We'll work it out." They play abysmally, but laugh the entire time. Bruce is sure that whatever pictures wind up on social media sites or even in the newspaper are going to look ridiculous, but he adopts Tony's policy of not caring.

What matters is Tony isn't afraid of Bruce's failure, isn't nervous about doing something potentially frustrating. He isn't afraid to win - which he does, handily. But by the last hole, even Bruce has to admit he's getting better. The game takes all day, and probably other tee time groups are piling up behind them and getting canceled, but snubbing snooty golf club members is just part and parcel of friendship with Tony Stark. Even the press has gotten bored of watching two minor celebrities play bad golf, so Tony helps him putt the last hole when Bruce manages to get the ball onto the green.

"Well we only went through like -six - cans of golf balls, but on this hole at least you'll be in at less than double par." Tony's constant talking is starting to be so familiar its comforting. "So that'll be probably - triple par for the course."

"I have never," Bruce answers, focusing and stretching his words as his attention goes away from speaking them and down to his and Tony's hands together on the golf club. "Actually heard that term used in its intended context."

Between the two of them, because Bruce relaxes his arms and lets Tony take over, they sink the putt. It's a minor victory, but Bruce feels it distinctly, and can't help his smile.

"Here's another one for you. That's a hole in one... hundred or so. Give or take. I don't think the one that hit the duck counts." Tony straightens up, looking after the golf clubs. "I'm pretty sure there's some kind of waterfowl mulligan rule."

Bruce claims the scorecard off the golf cart to discover the entire record of their game apparently consists of a stick figure doodle of Iron Man (the helmet is distinguishable at least) repulsor blasting a group of stick figures into a water hazard. The group is helpfully labeled 'bad'.

Bruce snorts.

"That's an early Picasso. You'll see," Tony brags, over Bruce's shoulder to see what has his attention. "I could sign it for you."

"Is this a good score or a bad score?" Bruce laughs, giving the paper back to Tony.

"Hopefully an improving score. In two weeks we'll be missing for charity, doctor. You'd better hope Lightning or Romanov sucks worse so we can have an appropriately functioning bell curve of awful."

"We'll be - doing what?" Bruce asks, as they finish loading equipment and climb back into the golf cart. Tony obviously hates the golf cart - probably because its top speed capability appears to be about two miles an hour. "What's in two weeks?"

"Avengers publicity piece," Tony says casually. "I said I'd tell you. I told you. Now you've been told. We're going to play a nice friendly round of super-golf for things like Greenpeace and children's hospitals. I jockeyed for 'Strippers with Babies', but apparently we don't get to pick our own. I think the legalese under that clause was pretty much: 'so Tony Stark doesn't pick something inappropriate'."

Bruce is equal parts amused and horrified. "So which one did I get?"

"Susan B. Komen foundation. They couldn't give it to Romanov, it would look sexist. Don't worry, buddy, we traded." Tony reaches out to pat Bruce's shoulder affectionately, like he doesn't mind making the sacrifice.

"You- of course you did," Bruce's surprise fades quickly. Tony was perhaps the second biggest advocate of a healthy pair of breasts behind Susan B. Komen herself. "So what do I have now?"

"World Wildlife Federation."

"Wild, un-tamable animals," Bruce observes wryly, "Sure."

"Could have been People for the Eradication of Thoughtful Actions," Tony argues. "I hope that wasn't an actual option."

That would make two of them. "Well I'm actually kind of sorry that I'll be playing so poorly."

"It'll work out. We have two weeks to make you a respectable player. That means no more playing a whole course with the eleven wood, but..." Tony parks the golf car and tosses the keys to the attendant without completing the statement. "Besides, I have the feeling that no matter how well the rest of us play, Barton will make us all look like idiots with sticks."

"He plays?" Bruce asks - he really doesn't know the rest of the team very well. It turns out that saving the world and eating shawarma together still left you a lot of personal ground to cover.

"Safe money, even if he doesn't, is 'yes'." Tony answers, making some sense. Aiming projectiles - seemed to be Barton's thing.

"So what's - which charity did he get?"

"Let's Re-Build New York."


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 2nd, 2012 02:10 am (UTC)
Awww. That was a lovely chapter. I was totally sucked into it. I love the relationship you are building between these characters, and I adore Bruce realizing that he's starting to have real feelings for Tony. Had to giggle over Tony still not getting naked yet. I would love to know what his issues are.

Loved the golf! That was a great scene. I could see it very clearly and it was all kinds of sweet and fun.

Dare I hope this story is going to make it all the way to the Charity Golf outing? ::fingers crossed::

Jun. 2nd, 2012 04:47 am (UTC)
The Golf Outing has become a separate fic in the same universe, but it is being written. I felt that it kind of diverged too much from the Scientists storyline, and I also wanted to write it from Tony's point of view. So yes, there is Avengers golf and it is in the works! That fic will be forthcoming. :)
Jun. 2nd, 2012 04:56 am (UTC)
Yes! And from Tony's POV? Woohoo! I guess I am going to have to friend you so I know when you post it. :-)

I'm new to the Avenger's fandom, so I'm still not sure where all the good fic is...
Jun. 2nd, 2012 11:06 am (UTC)
I'm new to the fandom part myself, though I've been a fan since Iron Man. Um, there's a rec-list, but I find the best place to start looking for fic is usually AO3.

Here's the rec list:

I never mind new friends either!
Jun. 3rd, 2012 05:03 am (UTC)
Jun. 17th, 2012 12:08 am (UTC)
ahahahah barton got the Let's re-build new york lololol
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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