labcoatgirl: (thinking deeply)
It was only the second night she was staying over. The day had gone rather well, she had met Tony finally and the three of them had gone for dinner at a place where the prices made her head spin. Bruce even seemed to enjoy himself, though it was hard to tell, Betty knew he did.

They had worked on a bit of research before turning in for the night. Bruce kept insisting she take the bed till she couldn't say no anymore. She felt bad for having him sleep on the couch but he seemed like he would take it badly if she didn't accept the bed.

Soon, she was fast asleep, her arms around the pillow under her head.

Date: 2012-06-11 12:00 am (UTC)From: [identity profile]
It took longer for Bruce to fall asleep.

In the last six years, he'd made something of a habit of getting as little sleep as possible, making sure to keep himself balanced on a knife's edge between too tired to function and too awake to remember his dreams, and that hadn't changed much since he'd started living at the Tower. Not really, not entirely. Maybe his reasons were a little different now, his sleep loss having more to do with late nights in the lab, working on one project or another with Tony and less to do with conscious effort, and maybe he'd been having more nightmares now when he did sleep, that sort of thing common after he'd had an incident, willing or not, but the fact still remained that he didn't really have normal sleep patterns anymore. And why he didn't quite know what to do with himself, now that he had the chance to establish them.

Eventually, finally, his mind wound down enough to let him make an honest effort, however, and when it did, he didn't try to fight it for once. He would likely regret this decision later, if only because the second he slipped under -- or so it would feel to him in hindsight, anyway -- he was immediately facing down Blonsky, fully transformed into the Abomination, and without the ability to "suit up," himself.

He'd blame the project he and Tony were working on for it, when he woke up. For now, he just made a soft, strained noise in his sleep and rolled over languidly, curling into a ball in an effort to protect himself from his ghosts.

Date: 2012-06-11 12:02 am (UTC)From: [identity profile]
ext_1359443: (thinking deeply)
The soft noise he makes prods Betty awake. She half opens her eyes sleepily, wondering if she imagined it. In the dark, she blinks at him on the couch, watching him for a moment or two to see if he was alright.

Date: 2012-06-11 12:08 am (UTC)From: [identity profile]
Bruce remains still for a moment, then curls further in upon himself, his breathing growing steadily more heavy and labored. He makes another small sound in between slumberous attempts to catch his breath, and tilts his head to one side slowly, his eyelids fluttering wildly in the gloom.

Overhead, there's a moment of heavy silence, one Betty may or may not have come to recognize as JARVIS trying to decide whether or not to input his two cents, and then lowly, the AI puts in, "I could attempt to wake him, if you'd like."

Date: 2012-06-11 12:11 am (UTC)From: [identity profile]
ext_1359443: (thinking deeply)
Betty sits up with a worried frown as Jarvis speaks, her hair a bit messy from being against the pillow. "...does this happen often?" she asks quietly, watching him.

Date: 2012-06-11 12:20 am (UTC)From: [identity profile]
"In the time that he's been here, Doctor Banner has had approximately one nightmare every one point four weeks." The span between disturbing dreams has increased the more distance and time Bruce has put between himself and what happened on the helicarrier, but they haven't tapered off entirely. JARVIS has no point of reference to tell whether or not they ever will, either, though he can't say he's hopeful. It's been three years since Tony's time in Afghanistan, and he still has the odd nightmare, of course. "It has become ... standard procedure to wake him before they progress too far."

Likely because the first time it happened, back when Bruce and Steve were still living out of the guest rooms, no one thought to try to wake him up until it was too late, and the Hulk had unceremoniously put Steve through a window.

Date: 2012-06-11 12:23 am (UTC)From: [identity profile]
ext_1359443: (lovely hair)
"Oh Bruce..." she sighs to herself. "It's ok, Jarvis, I can wake him." Hopefully.

Betty gets out of bed, taking the blanket with her as she comes to kneel next to the couch. "Bruce...Bruce, wake up," she runs a hand through his hair, trying to be gentle about waking him. "It's only a dream."

Date: 2012-06-11 12:29 am (UTC)From: [identity profile]
There's a moment's pause, an almost audible nod filtering through regardless of whether or not JARVIS says anything, and then true silence descends as the AI retreats to let Betty try and wake Bruce. If things start to go downhill, he'll let Tony know what's going on; for now, though, he just keeps a metaphorical half and eye on the situation and hopes for the best.

Bruce, in the meantime, recoils from the touch lethargically, still asleep, and all but whimpers. He'd be embarrassed if he were awake and knew that kind of sound could come out of him.

Date: 2012-06-11 12:31 am (UTC)From: [identity profile]
ext_1359443: (lovely hair)
When he pulls back, she settles to sit on the floor next to the couch so she can reach him better. Betty puts one hand over his, still fingering his hair to prompt him awake. "Bruce," a little louder and urgent. "Bruce, wake up." Shaking his hand a bit under hers.

Date: 2012-06-11 12:37 am (UTC)From: [identity profile]
That's enough to wake him, and he scrambles into a sit abruptly, trying to get away from her -- or, more specifically, the phantoms of unreality that have threatened to follow him into this world. He sucks in a sharp breath through his teeth, his eyes wide and wild, ringed in incandescent green, and then clenches them shut tightly, trying to will his breathing back to normal in an effort to calm himself down before things get out of hand.

"Sorry," he mumbles hurriedly, eyes still closed. "Just -- I need a minute ... "

Date: 2012-06-11 12:40 am (UTC)From: [identity profile]
ext_1359443: (lovely hair)
She wasn't expecting that abrupt of a wakening. Betty tenses, moving back a bit when she sees the green in his eyes. But she doesn't leave, nodding when he says he needs a moment. She doesn't say anything, just sits there in the blanket on the floor.

Date: 2012-06-11 12:48 am (UTC)From: [identity profile]
Swallowing thickly, he forces himself through a long unused breathing exercise, his mouth moving as he counts out his pulse. What happens to him when he gets upset may be adrenaline fueled, but in cases like this, waking up with a yell caught in his throat, his heartbeat is still a good indicator. It's just not the end all, be all that it once was.

When he feels at least somewhat more grounded -- though, he's pretty sure that yell he didn't manage upon waking has filtered down to his stomach and turned to lead there -- he opens his eyes to look at her, fear and brightness both gone from them. He looks away almost immediately afterwards, embarrassed despite the fact that he kept himself from making the situation any worse. "Sorry."

Date: 2012-06-11 12:53 am (UTC)From: [identity profile]
ext_1359443: (I don't want to hear it)
She breathes her own sigh of relief, seeing his brown eyes again. And then he was retreating in on himself again, apologizing. She's quick to shake her head. "No, no Bruce..." Betty gets up slightly to slide in next to him, sitting on the couch. "It's ok, I understand." It was something to do with the Hulk, she didn't need to understand more beyond that. But this was the first time she had been aware of his nightmares.

Slowly and carefully, she reaches for one of his hands to interlace their fingers together, giving him the option of pulling away if he wasn't looking for comfort at the moment.

Date: 2012-06-11 12:58 am (UTC)From: [identity profile]
He lets her take his hand and uses them as a focal point, staring down at them with a frown. He thinks about explaining for a moment, or trying to, then decides against it. He's not sure he wants to talk about what he'd been dreaming, and well, she'd been kind enough to give him an out.

"I'm ... " Kind of surprised that JARVIS wasn't the one to wake him up. He's not sure he wants to cop to that, either, though, and so he just lets that start hang there between them, lamely.

Date: 2012-06-11 01:02 am (UTC)From: [identity profile]
ext_1359443: (lovely hair)
Awkward silence, it does seem to crop up now and again despite their best efforts.

She keeps her hand in his, just waiting. When he doesn't continue, she finally volunteers. "...Jarvis was saying this happens often."

Date: 2012-06-11 01:05 am (UTC)From: [identity profile]
Despite his best efforts, he can't entirely hide a wince.

"It's happened a couple of times," he says, trying to understate just how often this has happened in the last couple of months. He doesn't want to worry her and he hopes JARVIS had the good sense not to do the same. "Usually he wakes me up before I decide destroying the Tower's a good idea."

Date: 2012-06-11 01:10 am (UTC)From: [identity profile]
ext_1359443: (lovely hair)
"That's...that's good." She smoothes a piece of hair behind her ear and out of her face. Not sure what she could say next that would help. Nightmares weren't something anyone could really help with directly.

"...what do you usually do after one?" Maybe sticking to a routine would help, she may be grasping at straws. Right now, she wishes she could just hug him but there's still a hesitancy between them. One borne of them being away from each other for so long.

Date: 2012-06-11 01:25 am (UTC)From: [identity profile]
"Avoid everyone for a couple of days?" he answers, vague, dark humor written on his face. "Drown myself in coffee? Avoid sleeping until I'm falling asleep in weird places?"

Date: 2012-06-11 01:28 am (UTC)From: [identity profile]
ext_1359443: (lovely hair)
"Oh." Another pause, though it's apparent she's hiding a sad smile of her own. "Those sound" In a not so fun way. They also didn't sound very good for him.

Betty tilts her head, leaning onto his shoulder with a sigh, rubbing one of his fingers between her thumb and forefinger absently. "...I wish I could help more."

Date: 2012-06-11 01:34 am (UTC)From: [identity profile]
"Weird definition of fun," he mumbles, a sigh on the heel of the words. In spite of his sarcasm and the fact that he's pretty resolved to fall into his old habits of avoiding people until he feels less like a maniac on the verge of an episode, however, he leans back against her, slowly, tentatively.

"It ... gets better," he continues a little louder and after a long moment. "The fact that I wake up like that, I mean."

Not how he deals with it. He hasn't quite gotten to the point where he can act like a sane person after a nightmare, despite Tony trying to assure him in a backhanded sort of way that they happen to everyone.

Date: 2012-06-11 01:38 am (UTC)From: [identity profile]
ext_1359443: (Default)
She knows he's probably saying that just to make her feel better. But she lets him for now. She's glad he's not pulling into himself just yet, she always feels so helpless when he keeps everyone, including her, at arms length.

"...I could sit up with you for a bit?" He's probably not going to be able to sleep for awhile after that. She'll just be looking over at him, worrying anyway.

Date: 2012-06-11 01:44 am (UTC)From: [identity profile]
He doesn't plan on sleeping at all, to be honest. Nor is he sure he'll be the best company. " ... I'd probably keep you up all night."

Date: 2012-06-11 02:02 am (UTC)From: [identity profile]
ext_1359443: (thinking deeply)
A faint smile. "I don't think I could sleep much either." Not necessarily the truth but not a lie. "Maybe we could make some coffee...or hot chocolate?"

Date: 2012-06-11 10:55 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile]
He frowns at her for a long moment, considering protest, then decides to give up before he starts, reaching up to rub tiredly at the corners of his eyes. A sigh follows, and slowly, he nods. "I think I could use some coffee."

Date: 2012-06-11 10:58 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile]
ext_1359443: (lovely hair)
Betty nods before getting up, blanket wrapped around her shoulders, and going to leave the room. It's a moment with Jarvis to figure out where the coffee pot is and by the time she gets there, he's already brewed up a fresh cup. Decaf, of course.

Soon, she's carrying two mugs of coffee in to him. She's not fond of decaf but enough cream and sugar, she'll drink anything.

Date: 2012-06-12 11:57 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile]
Briefly, he thinks about following her down to the kitchen -- he's just had a nightmare, that doesn't make him an invalid -- before thinking better of it. Maybe she wants to get away from him for a few minutes, he wouldn't blame her, and well, he's not sure his legs would carry him that far, still unsteady under him even as he sits there. All that in mind and the potential for running into Stark somewhere between here and the kitchen keeps him glued to his seat, vague guilt at making her wait on him needling at him, and he's still sitting there, wrapped in his blanket and looking like a refugee when she comes back a few minutes later. He looks dimly surprised that she came back at all, feeling sorry for himself.

"Thanks," he murmurs, reaching for one of the cups with a faintly trembling hand. He curls up around it almost immediately, the cup a shield from the rest of the world. "Leaded or unleaded?"

Regular or decaf?

Date: 2012-06-13 04:26 am (UTC)From: [identity profile]
ext_1359443: (sitting with Hulk)
"It's decaf, don't worry." His shaking hands have her more concerned as she watches him drinking the coffee. Betty sits down close to him, just wanting to be near and help him through this, the blanket pooling around her.

She reaches to put an arm around him, rubbing his back lightly in small circles.

Date: 2012-06-13 04:40 am (UTC)From: [identity profile]
He'd been hoping for regular, caffeine enough to keep him from sleep half the reason he wanted coffee in the first place, but he doesn't let that show on his face. Nor does he admit as much, raising the mug to his lips to take a sip, caffeinated or not. He sighs, calming further both at the taste and the touch of her hand at his back, as unused to the latter as he's become in the last few years.

Lowering the cup back to his lap, he glances at her briefly, then away, to the floor. "Sorry for waking you up, by the way."

Date: 2012-06-13 04:42 am (UTC)From: [identity profile]
ext_1359443: (Default)
She smiles fleetingly back at him, he shouldn't apologize for having nightmares. "It's ok, I wasn't sleeping." Yes, she's lying to help him feel better.

Date: 2012-06-13 04:43 am (UTC)From: [identity profile]
He looks up long enough to make a face at her. "Somehow, I don't exactly buy that ... "

Date: 2012-06-13 04:46 am (UTC)From: [identity profile]
ext_1359443: (hello Bruce)
She ducks her head sheepishly before coming back up to meet his eyes. "No good for playing poker, I suppose." Or he knows her too well even after all these years. "It's ok, really it is. I have the odd nightmare too sometimes." Especially after the gamma incident when she was first injured, but those nightmares were all but gone now.

Date: 2012-06-26 05:43 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile]
Again, he looks up at her, tempted to ask what she has nightmares about. It doesn't take him too long to decide he doesn't want to know -- he has some wild, deep seated fear that he wouldn't like the answer much -- and looks away again when he does, his lips pressing into a thin line as he tries to come up with some other response to that. Finding his words takes longer. Much longer.

"Everyone around here does, I guess."

Date: 2012-06-26 05:53 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile]
ext_1359443: (lovely hair)
She still has a scar under her hair on the side of her head from that incident. But that had healed a long time ago, not knowing where Bruce was all of that time was much more painful.

"Bruce..." she tries to comfort him, he still seems distressed by this. "...anyone would in your shoes." She could only imagine their roles being reversed. How he has dealt with the change in his life for so long without going insane.

Date: 2012-06-26 06:09 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile]
"Yeah," he answers, something uncertain in his voice as if even he's not sure if he's agreeing just to agree or if he actually believes that.

A sigh follows and he wets his lips with his tongue as if he plans on saying something else, only to give up on it a second later, and he brings his cup up to his lips to take a sip. Silence follows, but on the plus side, it doesn't take him long to stop inspecting the carpet and look up at her fully without looking away again near immediately. It's progress.
ext_1359443: (come home with me)
She keeps looking at him, wanting to help but feeling like he's still keeping her at arms length. It's not surprising, given their forced separation. But it still hurts.

A smile when he finally looks at her. "You can talk to me, Bruce. Anything you want to say, I'll listen." He should know that by now.
"I'm actually not sure what I was going to say," he says honestly, something small, sour and directed only at himself creeping onto his face.

He's still not used to people caring about how he feels, even though he's been here with people who, bizarrely, consider him a friend for a few weeks now. Even though there was a time he felt like he could talk to Betty about anything and, theoretically, he should be able to, still. Human contact is a foreign country to him anymore and he can't remember how to speak the language. Nor is he sure where he'd start, even if he did, still feeling as addled as he does now, in the wake of the nightmare.
ext_1359443: (come home with me)
It does look like it's up to her to make first contact, as it were. Since she knows him better than anyone...or she used to. Betty loops her arm around his, putting her hand on top of his own to interlace their fingers. Leaning her head on his shoulder as if to say you don't even have to say anything.
He tenses briefly, like all the other times they've touched since she's been here, and then relaxes, deflating with a sigh. If he tightens his fingers around hers, almost clinging, he doesn't really realize.

"... thanks."

lol :p

Date: 2012-06-26 07:52 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile]
ext_1359443: (hugging Bruce)
She doesn't mind the clinging. If anything, it reassures her that he still cares for her very much, even after all this time.

Their coffee is left to go cold as they sit together. Not saying anything but understanding.
Edited Date: 2012-06-26 09:26 pm (UTC)


labcoatgirl: (Default)
Elizabeth (Betty) Ross

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