|Dr. Banner (yogammagamma) wrote in thedoorway,|
@ 2014-08-11 11:39:00
|Entry tags:||!log, bruce banner / hulk (616), peter parker / spider-man (616)|
Who: Bruce Banner & Peter Parker (616)
When: August 11th
Where: Horizon Labs
AVENGERAWKWARD SCIENCE THINGS
As cool as the interior of Horizon Labs was -- with its concrete and steel meets technology meets boho coffee shop decorating scheme -- there were only a few places where sunlight was able to find a way in. It was intentional, of course. No one wanted the extra variable to factor into temperamental experiments because explaining away why there was a crater in the middle of South Street Seaport with the insistence that sunlight happened was just not gonna work. And the fact that this Horizon Labs wasn’t a currently crater placed it miles ahead of the one back home, Peter often reflected.
He was just banking the corner of the corridor that led from the labs, humming tunelessly as he swept around into the open lobby area with its vaulted ceiling and tall windows. Sometimes a little reassurance that the world was still spinning and the sun hadn’t gone out went a long way. Besides, for it being well into summer, he was still pastier than Edward Cullen, and that meant he could afford a quick 15-minute break up front. Maybe he’d call MJ, see how things were going…
Or maybe he’d awkwardly hop sideways in a quick pivot to avoid Max Modell, who was leading someone back towards the labs. One downside of a spider sense: it never warned you about walking into people or things when you were off in lala land; Peter stuck his landing, straightening up and offering his best apologetic smile. “Hey, boss. Sorry about…” He stopped, eyes widening a little at the guest beside Max.
“Oh, that’s alright, Pete. Caught me by surprise. But here, let me introduce-- ” But Max trailed off as he noticed the way that Parker and Banner were looking at each other. It made sense, he realised after a moment, they were both refugees so that probably knew each other through whatever programs were set up. “Guess I don’t need to do that, do I? Hey, I was just showing Dr. Banner here around, but if you want, why don’t you take over?”
Bruce didn’t say a word. His expression only shifted from one of surprise, to interest and then apology as he tightened his lips into an uncertain smile. Trying, desperately trying to give away nothing, though his peaked eyebrows and thin mouth probably let on more than if he’d just started jammering away about how he knew Peter. Or how he thought he did, anyway.
Max seemed to take Peter’s stunned silence as an affirmative, and tapped Parker on the shoulder as he walked past him to get back to other business. “You come and find me, Doctor Banner, you come and find me after and we’ll talk, okay?”
“Sure, yes. Of course -- of course, Max.” Bruce said, stuffing his hands into his pocket and holding his breath as he glanced back at Peter once Max had turned a corner and disappeared out of sight. “Peter Parker.”
Peter watched Max retreat, but then it was back to looking at Bruce Banner, and all he could do was keep that awkward smile plastered on. It was hard to tell where this was heading, but he couldn’t pretend to blend in with the wall and vanish now.
So, he did the next best thing: he cleared his throat, trying for a lower voice register as he nodded. “Dr. Banner. Uh. So, this is the lobby. Pretty great lobby, isn’t it? Sometimes the light hits that corner and a rainbow projects onto…”
Peter swallowed, waving a hand at the floor. “The floor. Here. Kinda here-ish. Let’s move on!” The tail end of that came a little more enthusiastically than he meant, almost in a ‘let’s go to Disney World!’ way, but the cringe was masked by a quick pace off the spot towards the labs before Bruce could ask about any such rainbows.
Bruce followed behind him, walking at a deliberately slower pace, just to make Peter have to match him, or at least meet him halfway. He didn't focus on Peter exclusively as they walked into the labs.
"You know, I've heard a lot about you." He admitted, admiring the equipment that greeted him on his left the moment they stepped into the more-sterile environment. It reminded him of the SHIELD labs that Maria Hill had set up for him beneath a burned out former nuclear testing facility. Everything was clean, well taken care off; loved. It was a clear indication that the people who worked here took pride in their projects. Which both delighted Bruce and made him a little nervous. After all, no one was going to want to see their pride and joy smashed to ribbons because Dr. Banner stubbed his toe.
"I kept up with Horizon back home, that's how I knew to look for it here. One of my assistants, when I was at SHIELD recently, Daman Veteri, he almost took a job with them instead of me. Nobel Prize winner. I still haven't managed that one." It was a bad attempt at a joke and it fell about as flat as he expected it to. He wasn't any better at humour than he was at lying. "But. Heard a lot about you."
Bruce’s slower step succeeded in forcing Peter to slow down, which was actually pretty hard for someone whose gear was almost always jammed into the highest setting. Still, consciously slowing down meant pausing to think on how terrible it must look to the esteemed doctor that his tour guide was just about running away.
When Bruce started to talk again, Peter whipped his focus around, brows hoisted. And then eyes faintly narrowed as the other man issued more of an explanation. “Oh -- oh, yeah. I remember Veteri. Met him, y’know, back home. I mean, he was…” Peter notched a hand up over his head. “Up here. Not that this place isn’t crawling with big brains, but sometimes I realize just how behind-the-curve I am when someone starts waxing poetic about molecular engineering.”
The spotlight shifting his way was neatly nudged away, as Peter nodded towards his own lab’s entrance, keying in, and casually ignoring the bait Bruce had dangled. “You thinkin’ about joining the team here?”
“I was, actually, yeah. I was definitely thinking about it.” Bruce said. But a lot went into considering a place to work, and unfortunately too much of that had little to do with the business or the employees and more to do with him. More specifically: the Hulk. If he was somewhere, and couldn’t get out in time, if he hurt people or destroyed a business because he couldn’t keep the other guy out of his day shift, things would be a problem.
That’s why he’d taken up a job with SHIELD to start with. He figured they were the people who could use the Hulk, point him in the right direction when he needed to be let out. Channel his destruction and turn him into the weapon he already was. It wasn’t ideal, Bruce didn’t really care for violence or how much of it he had a role in, but if there was no cure of the condition that plagued him, it just made more sense to focus on how he could contribute to the world instead of how he could keep failing at fixing himself.
And things were better now, since he was given Arno Stark’s version of Extremis. They weren’t perfect, and becoming the Hulk still meant blackouts, but at least the Hulk didn’t rage as mindlessly as he usually did.
“Have you been here long?” Bruce was started to put the pieces together about Parker. He had a good feeling that he knew those maneuvers and mannerisms from somewhere very specific. He wasn’t going to poke too much fun at him, of course, but he did assume that if Peter was who he thought Parker was, he might have a different response than most people, if say -- Bruce started to look like he was getting angry about something. A theory he planned to test in a moment or two.
Peter made a loose-armed framing of his lab at the entryway before ushering Bruce inside. “This one’s mine. Figured I best not meander us in through someone else’s workspace when they’re working. Kinda standard issue far as the basics, but after that we all hoard the equipment that speaks to us.” Another gesture was directed toward an impressive amount of glassware -- beakers, graduated cylinders, pipettes -- situated on a large countertop. “I usually speak chemistry, myself.”
It was hard to stray too far. There was an innate fear that if he stepped far enough back, Bruce would poke into just the right part of the lab that triggered something big and green. Without knowing when the other man was from, it was a total crapshoot, too. And to ask would be a giveaway, right? Right.
“I, uh… geez. Been here since November of 2012. One of the first from what I’m guessin’ is our world. I mean, you… you, ah, look like the pictures I’ve seen in the paper. Maybe a little taller, actually. Better skin tone, too. Do you moisturize?”
“I’ve had a little... a little help, Actually. I think I discovered Tony Stark’s secret.” Bruce said with a half-hearted shrug, before turning and smacking the side of his knee against the corner of a table as he brushed past it to take a look at the graduated cylinders that lined one of the back shelves. “Ah, Damn it.”
He put his hand on his knee. It didn’t hurt, he’d faked it, and he wasn’t even all that good at pretending it did. But this was a simulation he was used to. Seeing how people responded to him when his stress levels rose said a lot more about them and what they knew than they realised. Someone who didn’t react or got closer? Those people probably didn’t know what they were getting into. The ones that started to back away while punching the numbers 9 and 1 into their phone (and then waiting), well -- that said something else.
“Geez.” Bruce hissed, rubbing at his kneecap and shaking his head, and tugging on the material of his jeans. “I can’t believe I just walked right into that stupid thing...”
“Hey, are you --” Peter already had his hands out, as if to cushion the air or brace against some unseen threat somehow. “You okay?” It was impossible to mask the cautious step forward. Knowing what could happen, the best bet had to be soothing the doctor, not fleeing out the door and letting Horizon Labs fend for itself. It wasn’t his style to cut and run, anyway. Great power, great responsibility for any rampaging green Hulks.
“I conk myself all the time. Total klutz, here,” Peter continued, making sure his voice was reassuring and calm. He’d dropped the act of trying to distort it by now; he took another few steps in and paused, waiting to see if this was going to fizzle out.
Bruce snapped his hand down on Peter’s shoulder, smiling slightly to himself as he used Parker for leverage. Of course, Peter wouldn’t run. But the response was, soft but not so muted that it wasn’t telling. He patted the other man once he’d straightened up, “Yeah, yeah, it’s -- are you sure I don’t know you from somewhere else, Peter? Because...”
He let it trail off, it was enough for now. It was proven enough for his standards at the moment, and there was a lot of more important work to do, things to learn about this new world and jobs to acquire. So maybe what was where this conversation should go. “Because -- well, what do you think? Do you think I’d be a good fit for an office like this? Or do you think it might be dangerous?”
Good thing he was used to tense situations, as the hand clapping on his shoulder almost didn’t faze Peter at all. At least so far as Bruce could tell. He offered up a sideways smile, but shook his head. Something about the other man’s tone was telling, but that didn’t mean he was gonna get a full confession.
“The Daily Bugle? I used to be a photog for Jameson a while back. Been published, too. Or maybe you heard about Parker Industries -- aaaaand if you didn’t, let’s just leave it there,” Peter answered, clearing out from Bruce’s space now that it seemed everything was upright and safe again. “Dangerous? I mean, Max gets that us refugees sometimes gotta book it. Real accommodating guy. You give him a promise that you’ll get your work done without making a new entrance to your lab via…” The shortest of pauses. “Concussive force, and he’s happy as a clam. Which… never really got that phrase, but let’s roll with it.”
“They look like they’re smiling. Clams. That’s why people say that they’re smiling.” Bruce drew a crescent shape in the air with his finger to illustrate his point. “I’ve never understood the phrase ‘the world is your oyster’. But then, I’ve never really liked oysters.”
Too much time underwater, dealing with ocean-based threats to ever have a taste for anything involved with the life aquatic.
Bruce pinched his bottom lip and pulled on it as he looked around the lab. It was nice, the set up was nice and the layout of the place was already giving him ideas. It was like the lab was set up in some kind of mega Science Feng Shui layout, promoting creative synergy or something. Banner was sure that he already liked the place. “But, that’s not something I can promise, you know? That’s where the danger is.”
“That… that actually makes sense. I’ll fess up to not being a seafood fan, though.” Peter raised both hands to plead his case. “Bad experiences. Multiple times. Just… tentacles, and -- anyway.” He nearly swung around and hopped up on his desk, but a quick second thought stopped him before he even made half bended knee to get some momentum.
Besides, Bruce was doing that thing where people talk about serious stuff without actually saying proper nouns. A hand was reached behind Peter’s neck, habitual when he was thinking. He rubbed at where his hairline started, faintly grimacing at his feet. “Well, what’re the odds on you channeling Cookie Monster’s cousin who works in the renovation business?” Was that too forward? Shoot, maybe that was too forward. Peter forced himself to shut up just a moment too late, but he watched the doctor carefully. Just in case.
"Cookie Monster's cousin." Bruce's face flashed an aggravated grimace over the quality of joke, not the fact that Parker had made one. He ran a hand through his unevenly chopped hair (he almost always simply cut it himself) and looked at Peter inquisitively. "You know, I've heard a few of them over the years. A lot of them, but that's a new one. That is definitely a new one."
What most of the Avengers either didn't know or didn't fully understand, was that while the accident with Rick Jones and the Gamma Bomb might have been what was responsible for turning him into an enormous unstoppable monster, Hulk's rage and his anger was in Bruce long before. The personality was there, they all were. Maybe because of the tragedies that he'd suffered in his youth, or maybe just because his father had always been right: he had been born with something wrong with him.
"You know, it's been okay. It's been better lately. But back home, there is --" He shook his head. Once he'd learned that Tony didn't know what had happened, he vowed he wasn't going to explain it to anyone else. No one had to know. He could just pretend all of it was a bad dream, like he wished it was anyway. "Stuff. That happened, but -- listen, you know, I just -- you're here. Right? Not that, not that this is your problem but if anything did happen..."
Peter blinked, but it looked like the moment had passed. This was always so much worse without the mask on. He felt almost naked right now. No wonder jokes were falling flat.
“I didn’t get to prep my routine before you got here, so… uh…” He cleared his throat. “Not that I kid around a lot. Very serious guy, me.” Peter’s eyes wandered down to his desk, where a few print-outs and a book opened to a chapter on retroviral hyperplasia sat. He nudged the set around in back of him, and softened up his expression when he looked back up at Bruce.
“And I got experience with emergencies. I…” A small hand gesture was made, as if it would supply the words without Peter having to figure out how to put it. Everything felt uncomfortably exposed right now. “Wouldn’t let anyone get hurt. Guess you can take that on faith if you want, but that’s the best I got.”
“Yeah. No, I -- I’d take you on faith before I’d take a lot of other people, Mr. Parker, I mean that. And this company, it -- well, it offers a lot of freedom, which is what I’m looking for right now.” He didn’t want to be a part of someone else’s plan. And as much as maybe Stark Resilient would allow him the freedoms and creativity he wanted, there was something about operating on Tony Stark’s dime that didn’t sit well with him right now. Owing someone a life debt felt like reason enough not to keep going. Besides, Stark could infuriate him like no one else, and that would never be good news. Especially not when it involved a corner office in a skyscraper.
“Back home, I was working on ways to contribute to the world. Just make it better. End as many global problems as I could. Not for the glory or the profit, but maybe just to tip the scales, or at least balance them out against all the hurt and damage that -- you know, that exist.”
He could tell that Peter was uncomfortable, or nervous, and he understood. This was probably not an environment where Parker usually had to get his guard up about anything, and now they were talking and tip-toeing around some pretty scary topics of conversation without a safety
Peter kicked out his feet, leaning against the edge of the table and crossing his arms as he shifted through the words. It was an easy answer: “The best place, if you want my humble opinion.” But that didn’t mean it was easy telling the keeper of the Hulk that he should be a next-door neighbor. Sure it was better that Spider-Man was in the area, but there wasn’t any pretending like Spider-Man could more than subdue and distract the Hulk if things got heated. Still, probably better here than most places. Max had to know that Bruce Banner came as a package deal, too, and if he opened the door and extended the invitation… well, that saved one awkward conversation.
“Max’s MO is basically ‘I have a lot of money, you have a lot of ideas. Let’s forge an awesome future.’ That’s paraphrased, but. Y’know. He doesn’t mind that I occasionally take commissions for guys like Spider-Man, since the tech and concepts end up benefitting a lot of other people.” Peter twisted around, jabbing a thumb over his shoulder at a medium-sized box on a shelf. “Back home those Cryo Cube 3000s ended up stopping Hydro-Man, but they can preserve living tissue without damaging it. Paramedics love ‘em.”
“I was working on -- I built a prototype for a purification system that, if mass produced, could eliminate waterborne diseases. I was trying to make it work faster, actually, and it’s something that I think I could reverse engineer with the technology we have here. I don’t know, I saw a documentary about bottled water which really hit home about the need for clean, safe water, so I wanted to do something about it.”
Bruce reached for the glasses in his front pocket that weren’t there. He sometimes forgot that he didn’t need them at all anymore, since being given Arno Stark’s extremis, but it was still such a habit. He placed the same hand on Peter’s desk next to where he was leaning and bent slightly to take a better look at the Cryo Cube. “Hey, wow, that is -- that is nice. How is it with neurosuspension? How long-term is the storage?”
Maybe the earlier smiles were various shades of uncertain and nervous, but Peter’s was presently genuine and breaking the limits of his face. “It’s great with neurosuspension. Haven’t had anyone report any funky tingling afterwards -- I mean, some cases you have troubles because, er… detachment doesn’t always have a full recovery of sensation and things of that sort, but it’s a leg-up for sure. No threat of tissue die-off within an eight-hour time frame per cube. One starts to get depleted, hit up the next. Guess you could freeze living tissue indefinitely if you really wanted, but it hasn’t been tested to that extent.
“Next step would be getting this cheaper and maybe gel form. I can solve problems, but… can’t solve the problem of money.” Peter craned his neck to look at Bruce. “Get a feeling you know that one all too well,” he added, before pushing off his desk and nodding for Bruce to follow. “But you get something going with safe drinking water, and I think Max’ll be over the moon along with most of the world.”
“That’s incredible work, Peter, that’s really incredible.” Bruce said, he tapped the side of the cube, resisting the urge to poke at it any further. There would be plenty of time of that if he was hired and brought on board, until then he didn’t want to stick his nose too far into another company’s projects. It was just just good manners. But Parker was a bright kid, and it would be nice to be around that kind of talent. It helped him stay focused knowing there were others who he could depend on and who could depend on him.
“Yeah, I mentioned to Max, sorta what my aims are.” Bruce explained, rubbing the back of his neck. “I didn’t want to throw too many pitches in his direction, you know, right off the bat but I tossed a couple his way, you know. I wanted him to have an idea of what I wanted to do here.”
It was honestly exciting him a little bit, the idea of working in this place with Peter and the others at Horizon. Maybe it would be nice to take a step away from the Avengers, from SHIELD, from the superhero game. There were other ways to help the world that didn’t involve smashing evil with big green fists, and that’s what he wanted to do.
“Oh, it’s…” This was a little surreal. A compliment from Captain America to Spider-Man seemed pretty par for the course, even if it still made his heart flutter, but big brain extraordinaire Bruce Banner giving Peter Parker a thumbs up? “Thanks,” Peter managed, pausing at the entry to his lab to make sure he didn’t fumble the word.
“Hey, how ‘bout I show you the Atrium? Max likes to say it’s where all the cross-pollination happens.” A grin shaped up on Peter’s face as he led on. If it weren’t Bruce Banner in question, there would’ve been a friendly elbow nudge along with it. “Hope you know how to tango.”