|Bruce Banner (wontlikemeangry) wrote in avengers_logs,|
@ 2019-06-10 12:12:00
|Entry tags:||-backdated, -complete, bruce banner, natasha romanoff|
Who: Bruce & Natasha
What: Checking In
When: After the missions/before the wedding
Of all the memories Bruce gained from his recent dreams, the worst by far was the moment he’d returned from 2012 and discovered Natasha hadn’t made it. They’d come close to something, almost, but circumstances prevented them from ever actually trying. Even though he still held on to a sliver of anger over her actions in Sokovia, he felt more guilt over the fact that the Other Guy had taken off and left Earth behind for several years.
They’d never really had a chance to talk about what almost happened between them since his return given the whole Thanos thing and now she was gone and Bruce never got to apologize.
Except he could here. And he could also apologize for his failure to bring her back when he used the gauntlet. It may not mean much, but it was something. He also wanted to make sure Natasha knew that despite everything, he was her friend and was here to provide whatever support she might need.
He showed up at her door carrying a few containers of homemade food. They were freezer safe, so she wouldn’t have to eat them right away, but it would be good for her to have some healthy options available. He knocked, hoping she was in, since he hadn’t called first.
Since the dreams had hit, Natasha had been dealing with everything but what had happened to her. She wasn’t trying to stay too busy to think about it, but between SHIELD reforming and Clint getting his heart torn out yet again in a way he still couldn’t fix, there wasn’t much time for her in the grand scheme of things. She was good at compartmentalizing after all.
What kept worrying at her was wondering what had happened...after. She assumed they had from the variety of posts that popped up on the network. The details were vague. Everyone dealing with the emotional aftermath of the dreams in their own ways offline where the ugliness couldn’t be seen by more than a select few.
It hadn’t felt like she’d done enough in that other world. She’d stepped in and kept the fires burning and the machine running, but was that enough? She didn’t know how to put back together that family any better than she knew how to put back together the one here. In the end, had she balanced out the scales enough?
Natasha was staring into the depths of her laptop screen, pondering this, when there was a knock at the door. She stared at it before setting her laptop aside and moving to the door. The sight of Bruce on the other side made her blink. There was much left unsaid between them, for better and worse, and he was one of the last folks she expected to see right now.
She pulled the door open and gave him a slight smile. “Hey, Bruce. What’re you doing here?”
“I wanted to check on you,” Bruce said, shoving his hands in his pockets and managing an awkward almost smile. Part of him wanted to hug her, but neither of them was really the huggy type and he knew that his being here was going to be uncomfortable without making it worse.
There was a lot he wanted to say, a lot he wasn’t sure if he should say, but what did come out was, “I’m so damn sorry, Natasha. I tried to fix it.”
It didn’t even occur to him that she would have no context for his apology. Unless someone had filled her in on everything that happened after the time heist.
Natasha blinked at his apology. She knew they’d won in the end after asking Steve on the network, but the rest of the details were unclear. She hadn’t wanted to press anyone on them yet as everyone else seemed intent on checking in on her or dealing with their own reactions to the events.
She reached out to squeeze Bruce’s arm. “I’m sure you did your best.” She tried to keep the confusion off her face, but there was a lot going on right now and she wasn’t in the best frame of mind.
She stepped back and waved her arm in offer. “Why don’t you come in and we can talk about whatever happened.”
Bruce pulled one hand out of his pocket and covered her hand with it when she squeezed his arm, but nodded at her offer. “Yeah, okay, if I’m not interrupting anything,” he said. They probably should have talked long before this, he knew that he owed her more apologies for the things that happened in and after Sokovia.
Better late than never, he figured. They were friends and teammates first and that was still important. “Looks like you’re settling in well,” he said, glancing around once he entered the apartment.
Natasha shrugged. “Nope, nothing going on here, but the usual of keeping an eye on things. Did you want something to drink? I think I have some soda, juice, or the regular standby of water.”
It was strange how normal things were after everything they’d left unsaid between them. She didn’t think either of them had escaped that situation unscathed. She’d made mistakes in that regard. So many mistakes but there was no taking them back now.
“Oh,” she glanced around the apartment, “some of that was the previous mes doing. It’s a weird kind of deja vu I have to admit, but it comes in handy.”
It was a little weird to think about previous versions of him being around and Bruce was glad that no one really talked about that with him. “Oh, no thanks, I don’t want to stay too long,” he said. He figured that she probably wouldn’t want him to stick around too long.
“I just… I needed to apologize,” he said. “For everything. And I’m not expecting forgiveness or anything. I hope we can be friends again though.”
“You’re welcome to stay, if you’d like, really.” Natasha had missed Bruce as a friend, but she’d figured that door was closed to her after he’d unceremoniously left the universe on the Quinjet the last time they’d had a face to face meeting.
“I think we both equally share blame in a lot of things. I apologize too for everything I did wrong that made things more difficult.” She gave him a tentative smile. “I hope we can too. I’ve missed that.”
That was more than Bruce was expecting when he came over, so he returned her smile, relieved that this hadn’t been a total mistake. There might be a lot of baggage between them, but there were good memories too.
“I don’t suppose you have any tea,” he said. “I wouldn’t mind a cup.” He really did want to spend some time with her and get a better sense of where she was with all the insanity that came along with their new memories.
Natasha wasn’t the best at dealing with baggage. Usually she found it was better to leave it in the past and move on, but she was finding out that most people usually dealt with it in some shape or form. She wasn’t sure what Bruce wanted to deal with eventually, but when the time came she promised herself she’d do her best to go through the process with him.
“I think I might. It might only be store bought packets if you’re okay with that?” she said as she moved to the kitchen and rummaged through her cabinets to find some tea. “I haven’t gone out to replenish my stock of tea leaves yet.”
“That’s fine,” Bruce said. He generally preferred loose leaf, but tea bags would do in a pinch. “So what are you up to these days?” he asked, following her to the kitchen. “Did you end up with SHIELD or the Avengers?”
He hadn’t paid close attention to where everyone landed. Though it did remind him that he and Christine needed to double check that they’d seen everyone for a baseline.
Natasha did manage to pull out a box of tea from the back of her cupboard. Once Bruce indicated his choice, she dropped it into a cup and then turned the kettle on to boil some water. “Actually both. Sorta a throwback to how things used to be, but with both sides fully aware. I’m a defacto liaison between the two teams. It should hopefully make things easier this way.”
She shrugged. Tony and Fury had seemed fine with it though she wondered if Steve had wanted her to choose one side over the other. But that wasn’t her.
Bruce nodded. That actually made a lot of sense for her and he wasn’t surprised to hear that she was doing both. If anyone could manage that balance, it was Natasha. After all, she’d been the one who kept them going for all those years after the snap.
“Good for you,” he said. “Though don’t forget to take some time for yourself.” He knew that she was the type to throw herself into her work at the detriment of a personal life. Not that he had a lot of room to talk on that subject, but since she had an opportunity here that she wouldn’t have at home, he wanted her to take advantage of it.
Natasha shrugged and poured herself a cup of coffee. “You know me, I’m always okay.” Which they both knew wasn’t always true, but there was plenty to keep her busy and that would make things okay. The kettle went off as she placed put sugar, milk, and honey in front of Bruce followed by his cup of tea.
“I’m assuming you chose the Avengers side? Picking right back up with Tony and everything?” The two of them had this synenergy when it came to science and giving the team equipment upgrades it was astonishing to watch in action. She also thought it was great they had that friendship between them. They were matched intellectually in a way that few others could come close to.
It definitely wasn’t true, but Bruce opted not to call out the blatant falsehood at the moment. He’d just make an effort to keep an eye on her and do what he could to encourage her to do things outside of work.
“Actually, I haven’t chosen either,” he said. “I am working with Tony in his lab, but I’m also working with Dr. Palmer on the clinic. That seemed like a better use of my skills.” Especially since when he’d first gotten here, he didn’t have any way of getting the Other Guy to cooperate.
He was willing to help out wherever he could though, for either side.
Natasha wrapped her hands around her coffee mug and leaned against the kitchen counter. “That’s fitting. I’m glad you have that option instead.”
Bruce had been more than useful in the fights they’d gone into as part of the Avengers, but it’d never been something he was truly comfortable with. He was a scientist and doctor at heart, whose skill set had been pushed aside because of the Other Guy. It wasn’t fair to either of them.
“We could use a good clinic and good doctors who know what it’s like doing what we do.” Especially since SHIELD was nothing but operatives and Fury. Good for the prevention of infiltration but bad for keeping everyone in functional shape.
“That reminds me, you haven’t been by for your baseline exam yet,” Bruce said, giving her a mischievous grin as he fixed his tea. “Don’t think you’re getting out of that.”
It didn’t surprise him at all that Natasha hadn’t come by yet. He figured that she would be one of the more stubborn ones. Of course, he also figured that she’d be more comfortable seeing Christine given their history. That was fine, as long as she didn’t try to completely avoid their services.
“Hopefully we won’t need to do much more than routine care.” That was a very optimistic and unlikely hope.
Natasha made a face at him. She was in perfectly fine health and didn’t need to go into the clinic. She only went to doctors when she absolutely had to. There were a million small things she could handle on her own or had handled with Clint’s help. The docs should spend their time on the people that needed them more.
“Mmm, we can hope, but somehow I doubt that.” It wasn’t the nature of their work. If they wanted a job that let them go home safe and sound at the end of every day they wouldn’t be who they were.
Bruce recognized that face, but opted not to argue the point at the moment. He’d recruit Christine’s assistance for that. “Just promise you won’t make any hasty decisions here,” he said softly. Yes, he understood that under the circumstances, there was no other option she could have chosen, but hopefully it wouldn’t come to that here.
“You know I can’t,” she returned equally as softly. It wasn’t like she’d made that decision over there hastily. It was the best for everyone involved there and Natasha would’ve made the exact same one herself if it had happened here. She was never above doing what had to be done no matter the cost. People needed to stop worrying that she’d done it for any other reason than the right ones.
“Every situation’s going to come with its own risks and rewards and I can’t guarantee anything until that moment comes.”
There really wasn’t an argument against that and Bruce simply nodded, taking a sip from his tea. They had all agreed to do whatever it took and he couldn’t change what it took from Natasha and Tony to accomplish their goal.
Bruce was quiet for a moment and then smiled. “So I’ll see you in the clinic sometime this week?” he asked. That was a slightly safer topic they could argue amicably about.
Natasha made a face at him again and then sighed. “If it’ll make you happy, yes, I’ll be by the clinic later this week.” She wouldn’t be thrilled about going in, but if it’d make him less worried about her mental state or her well being, she would. It wouldn’t mean that she wouldn’t drag her feet and put it off until the last minute though. As for everything else, well, like she’d said that would be decided on a case by case basis.