labcoatgirl: (come home with me)
I'm sorry, sir. Another dead end.

Iron Man came to rest on a dingy rooftop, somewhere in a small town at the edge of Seattle. "You are really starting to sound like a broken record, Jarvis. Can't you find another song?" Tony had been looking for Bruce ever since he disappeared. He had been in Switzerland when the news reached him that he'd escaped. Or rather the other guy had taken him for a joy ride through the whole U. S. of A. nonstop for a week. Tony'd left a thousand investors still sipping gourmet coffee and flown back but it was too late. Bruce and the Hulk were gone, not one trace of them.

A month later, he was still looking. Pepper was getting on his case about this but he was a stubborn man. Bruce was his friend, one of the few he had, and if he was beating himself up somewhere because his girlfriend was....was dead, then Tony needed to at least be there for him. He honestly wasn't sure what he'd say when he found him, but one thing at a time. Tony was used to winging it anyway.

"Okay, lets go over that range of warehouses in the back, boost the scanners up to maximum. Don't give me any lip, Jarvis, I am not going home empty handed today." He took off, flying as slowly as he dared through the low rent district. He hated that little voice that kept popping up to tell him this was a waste of time. Bruce was probably in another country altogether. Or trying to off himself again. Or...

Sir, I'm picking up a faint trace of radiation from the second floor of that abandoned apartment complex.

Ten minutes later, Tony was forcing the door open, his helmet retracting so he could see the room. His jaw set, hoping that he wasn't seeing this for what it was.

Bruce was sprawled out on the dingy bed, a case of drugs at his side and a needle in his arm. A really big needle. A really big empty needle. Tony didn't even move for a moment or two. "...Jarvis."

He is alive, however he appears to be in a medicated coma. Tony let out the breath he didn't know he was holding and quickly moved to Bruce's side to pull out that syringe. He didn't know what Bruce had shot himself up with, he could only hope it was reversible. That Bruce wouldn't be a vegetable for the rest of his unnatural life. "Jarvis, scan all the paperwork in here and the drugs, send someone to pick them up." He gathered the 98 pound scientist into his arms, the helmet sliding back into place. "I'm only going to say this once, Bruce. Don't go green on me yet."

The flight back to Stark Tower was tense but uneventful. Tony had a medical setup waiting for him and Bruce when they got there. Doctors and nurses going to work on him to find out what had happened. Considering what was known about dreamsharing and what Tony could dig up from Shield that was classified, it wasn't too hard for him to figure out what Bruce had done. He was still in REM sleep and didn't show any signs of waking.

When the doctors couldn't find a way to wake him after a day, Tony took matters into his own hands. It was just the way he did things. Starting where people said "Impossible!" and making it happen. He shooed out all but two of the medical personnel for this, knowing he was risking their lives as well as his own if he pulled this off. Another medical bed was procured next to Bruce, Tony preparing to jump into whatever dreamscape he had come up with. Considering it was the Hulk in there too, Tony hoped this wasn't going to be as painful a trip as he thought it might be. With Pepper looking on nervously, Tony gave her a mock salute before going under....

Date: 2012-08-04 05:56 am (UTC)From: [identity profile] mas-stretchy.livejournal.com
Bruce was beyond content and long lost in the world his mind had created. He'd moved in with Betty, he was madly in love again and seriously contemplating taking a step he knew he should have made in their lives a long time ago. The Hulk had long ventured off, leaving the happy couple to themselves while he went off in search of his own inner peace.

He'd even started teaching again, helping Betty with her lectures and even giving his own. He was leaving the campus coffee shop, a smile on his face as he held two steaming cups and was making his way across the lawn, jogging lightly as he tried to make it back to Betty before her first class of the morning. He was so intent on keeping the cups from spilling he nearly runs into Tony, taking a gentle spin in his step as he looks up.

"Sorry!" He smiles and then nearly trips up as he stops cold, looking at this very unexpected arrival. "Tony?" He looks completely incredulous. He hadn't invited the man from New York, what was he doing at Culver?

Date: 2012-08-04 06:04 am (UTC)From: [identity profile] labcoatgirl.livejournal.com
ext_1359443: (sitting with Hulk)
Honestly, Tony had expected it to be a whole lot more....weird in here. This was actually pretty normal. At first, it was just him walking down the sidewalk of Culver, passing random students and wondering where he would find Bruce. He really shouldn't have turned to check out one blonde passing by, he nearly ran into the man in question.

It takes Tony a whole minute to find english words again, something he's never had a problem with. Comparing what Bruce looked like in here to out there was a vast difference. "Dr. Banner...coffee, you shouldn't have." He relinquishes one of the cups and takes a sip, as if Bruce had brought it for him. "You, my friend, are a hard man to find."

Date: 2012-08-04 06:10 am (UTC)From: [identity profile] mas-stretchy.livejournal.com
Bruce gapes at Tony, and when he takes a sip, he looks downright dejected.

"That was Betty's." He looks down at his own coffee, and then holds it in both hands. Then he's looking back up at Tony, almost annoyed. "What are you doing here? I know you didn't come all the way from New York to get coffee." He motions for Tony to follow him as he continues heading toward the building. Betty doesn't mind decaf, so Bruce can at least give her his.

Date: 2012-08-04 06:17 am (UTC)From: [identity profile] labcoatgirl.livejournal.com
ext_1359443: (Default)
Tony's usual laid back humor screeches to a halt.

So that's why Bruce was here. He was spending time with his dead girlfriend. Tony rolls his shoulders and harumphs awkwardly, not sure how to approach this.

"I should have guessed I'd be interrupting something like this." Tony catches Bruce's arm before he can take another step. "Bruce, we're in New York right now. I found you out cold in some apartment and I was hoping to find that you weren't entirely gone by this time." At least Bruce was still dreaming, Tony had heard of cases like this but never thought one of his friends would willingly go under for this long.
Edited Date: 2012-08-04 06:25 am (UTC)

Date: 2012-08-04 06:34 am (UTC)From: [identity profile] mas-stretchy.livejournal.com
Bruce looks at Tony like he's gone crazy and then motions around him briefly as if to say 'We're in Culver, not New York'.

"What?" For Bruce, it's been almost three months under, willingly forgetting where he'd been, and just letting himself get lost in the dream. To him, this was the real world now.

Date: 2012-08-04 06:39 am (UTC)From: [identity profile] labcoatgirl.livejournal.com
ext_1359443: (thinking deeply)
Tony's been called worse than crazy before. And he knew if he tapped the arc reactor on his chest right now, that it wouldn't feel the same as if it were real. His own personal totem, stuck right in him.

"Sorry, did I inadvertently switch over to Japanese or something? Let me try again. We're. Not. Here. This is a dream." Tony's eyes follow another girl student. "...not a bad dream really.." He brings his attention back to Banner. "But still. Not real. I can see how you would want to be here but you can't bury yourself here forever."

Date: 2012-08-04 06:45 am (UTC)From: [identity profile] mas-stretchy.livejournal.com
Bruce just stares at Tony a moment, conflicted and then he shakes his head as memories of those last waking moments flood back to him. He closes his eyes for a few moments and then looks back up at Tony, the expression on his face is anger. Clear, though calm, that was the only word to describe it.

"You should have left me where you found me."

Date: 2012-08-04 06:50 am (UTC)From: [identity profile] labcoatgirl.livejournal.com
ext_1359443: (lovely hair)
Instead of backing off, a smile curves Tony's face. Bruce wasn't gone yet. "There he is. Now, the doc's are having a hard time pinning down what you used to put yourself..."

"Bruce?" Betty apparently had come out to see what was taking him so long to come back from lunch break. Dressed in a white lab coat and looking very much alive, she stands in the doorway for a moment, giving Tony a mistrustful look.

"Oops, busted," Tony says, more to himself than Bruce.

Date: 2012-08-04 06:56 am (UTC)From: [identity profile] mas-stretchy.livejournal.com
Bruce keeps his eyes locked on Tony, even as he moves toward Betty and hands over the cup of coffee.

"Hey, sorry. He took yours, I'll be inside in a moment." Though, he really wouldn't mind her staying here with him. It helps anchor him to the dream, and the reason why he's here in the first place. She also reminds him to calm down too, the angry expression on his face mellowing, though only barely.

"You shouldn't be here. Just, go back and let me do this."

Date: 2012-08-04 07:02 am (UTC)From: [identity profile] labcoatgirl.livejournal.com
ext_1359443: (thinking deeply)
"Can't do that, Bruce." Tony has his serious face on now. No jokes, no sarcasm.

"What's he doing here, Bruce?" Betty sounding worried, even as she takes the coffee from him. She slips a hand around his arm protectively. The other students were starting to give Tony dirty looks as they pass but nothing more. Tony has the feeling he's getting into a dangerous area here.

"I'm just here to talk. You've been in here possibly a month already, do you think you could spare five minutes to talk? I'll buy the tequilla and you can tell me how many ways I'm wrong for doing this." He will dream up a bar if he has to, but he's not leaving till Bruce knows he's still got friends out there.

Date: 2012-08-04 07:09 am (UTC)From: [identity profile] mas-stretchy.livejournal.com
Bruce hugs at Betty's arm, already feeling that familiar tension coming back into his shoulders, something he thought he'd left behind him. Bruce shakes his head.

"No, I know what you'll try to do. I won't let you take this from me." Bruce was pouring on the stubborn, anything to keep Tony from taking him back from that reality he'd run from. He'd been running for so long from Ross, it wasn't all that hard to run from his own pain. Not when he had Betty to run to. He turns, trying to guide her back inside, away from Tony.

Date: 2012-08-04 07:18 am (UTC)From: [identity profile] labcoatgirl.livejournal.com
ext_1359443: (I don't want to hear it)
"Did I say that?" Tony squints off to the side as if trying to remember, ignoring the glares from the other shades. "Don't think I did. What I did say though was asking to have a drink with a friend." Oh yes, Tony can play the guilt card too. And he saw correctly that if he didn't smooth this situation over, these figments of Bruce's imagination were going to take him down with any weapons they could get their imaginary hands on.

"And...I wanted to say I'm sorry." Something Tony doesn't say nearly often enough. He walks up to the two of them, looking more to Betty than Bruce. "Sorry I wasn't here for you when you found out."

Date: 2012-08-04 07:25 am (UTC)From: [identity profile] mas-stretchy.livejournal.com
Bruce balks, he doesn't like having that guilt card played against him. He tucks a little further into Betty's arm, almost like a crutch. Then Tony was apologizing. Tony rarely, if ever, apologized.

At a loss, Bruce looks up at Betty, as if asking her to make the decision for him.

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Date: 2012-08-12 09:12 am (UTC)From: [identity profile] mas-stretchy.livejournal.com
Tony had been more than obliging to Bruce's needs, whether it ranged from coffee to the use of his high end research labs. Bruce had caught himself dozing after two and a half days without rest, and realized he was almost afraid to sleep. He was starting to pick up again, but some of that was the dazed state of restlessness he was currently experiencing. However, what he didn't want to do, was use Tony's equipment to make a new dose to put himself to sleep. To be honest, he was fairly certain he didn't need it this time.

Leaving a verbal note with Jarvis to wake him if his vitals reached a certain point, he slogged his way to the bedroom he'd never used and flopped onto the bed. He let his heavy lids close, and blessed darkness came for him.

When he opened his eyes again, he was back at Culver. Either it was a Sunday or a holiday, because the campus was quiet and void of students. He already knew Betty would be here, so he started at a calm pace for the door. They needed to talk, and he wasn't entirely certain how it would go. Hopefully, he wake to Jarvis if things went downhill.

Date: 2012-08-12 09:15 am (UTC)From: [identity profile] labcoatgirl.livejournal.com
ext_1359443: (lovely hair)
Instead of being at her desk, Betty was notably absent. All of her notes there, coffee still warm...but she wasn't. In fact the whole dream was starting to feel a little empty.

But she wasn't too far away, just uncertain about coming out again. It's a long moment before she's standing behind him quietly. "...hi."

Date: 2012-08-12 09:21 am (UTC)From: [identity profile] mas-stretchy.livejournal.com
He turns, almost startled by that quiet approach and the sound of her voice. He looks at her, suddenly uncertain.

"...hi." He responds a bit dumbly, and then looking down at his shoes.

Date: 2012-08-12 09:30 am (UTC)From: [identity profile] labcoatgirl.livejournal.com
ext_1359443: (come home with me)
She's not exactly looking at him either, more like his chest area instead of his face. Really, was there much more to say? Silence hung heavy over them.

"...I'm sorry." Betty says before giving in and reaching for Bruce to hug him. Burying her face in his shoulder. It's almost the reversal of when this mess began.

Date: 2012-08-12 09:34 am (UTC)From: [identity profile] mas-stretchy.livejournal.com
He's not pulling away, in fact he's grabbing her up in his arms, still strong unlike his waking self. He holds her close, tangling his fingers in her hair and kisses the side of her head.

"It's okay." Another kiss, this time to where he knows that scar is on her temple. "I'm sorry, but it's going to be alright."

Date: 2012-08-12 09:39 am (UTC)From: [identity profile] labcoatgirl.livejournal.com
ext_1359443: (hugging Bruce)
The change is immediate. The paranoia and fear of losing him falling away, if he says it's going to be okay, then it will be. Betty smiles sadly, her eyes wet and staying close. "I want it to be alright for you." That was true of both of them.

Date: 2012-08-12 09:12 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile] mas-stretchy.livejournal.com
Indeed it was true and Bruce just kept her close as he nodded gently into her hair.

"Me too. But Tony was right, this way is better. This is okay." He'd been thinking of all the things he had to say, and he has to tell himself at least one truth before he tries to make this up to her. "I want to see you, but it can't be like before. You know how dangerous this is, but I promise, I will always come back." Unlike the waking world, he can promise that here.

Date: 2012-08-12 09:33 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile] labcoatgirl.livejournal.com
ext_1359443: (hugging Bruce)
It had never been 'okay'. Not even 'fine' for Bruce. Betty frets again, leaning against his chest. "...I won't be perfect." She was only a shadow of Betty after all. But if Bruce was going to be okay....she could live with that.

"You'll tell me what you're up to? Things you're working on?" Like it should have been. At least until he doesn't need her anymore.

Date: 2012-08-12 09:45 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile] mas-stretchy.livejournal.com
He could certainly play at being okay. He was fairly certain Tony knew that was exactly what he was doing, but for the moment, Bruce was just trying to get back on his feet and seemed to be getting away with it. He couldn't fool his own subconscious, but he could pretend.

"You're always perfect." He sighs, loosening his grip but only because it feels like his arms are straining. "And I will. Even the boring parts."

Date: 2012-08-12 09:50 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile] labcoatgirl.livejournal.com
ext_1359443: (come home with me)
There's a soft chuckle finally, Betty looking up at him. "You're never boring." It would seem they now had a common goal. Trying to be okay with each other not being real.

Date: 2012-08-12 10:10 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile] mas-stretchy.livejournal.com
He smiles, faintly and uncertain, but he still smiles at her.

"I know at least one person who'd beg to differ." He just keeps his eyes on her, the sight of her is enough to remind him of all that he's fought for since the accident and he leans forward to his forehead against hers. "I think your coffee's getting cold."

He did owe her a cup since last time, after all.

Date: 2012-08-12 10:13 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile] labcoatgirl.livejournal.com
ext_1359443: (goodbye kiss)
She smiles too, leaning up to kiss him softly. "Coffee will just keep us awake..."

The dream slowly fading away as she says it. Leaving Bruce with the faint impression of being held as he wakes up on the bed.

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Elizabeth (Betty) Ross

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