Who: Bruce and Thor What: Bros being bros and catching up When: Last weekend Rating: Green
Thanks in large part to the memories/dreams/whatever that he’d gotten from his other self, Bruce was fairly certain he would be able to transform into the Other Guy if it became necessary. He had yet to test that theory, though he was thinking perhaps his visit to New Asgaard today with Thor might provide the perfect opportunity to do so. If it didn’t go well, he knew that Thor could keep his alter ego under some semblance of control, and the sight of a giant green rage monster would not be nearly as likely to inspire a riot or other issues there as it would be in Manhattan.
He was a bit concerned that he’d end up stuck in that weird halfway space which, while interesting, he was not terribly inclined to do. Doing so made sense in a post-Thanos world that lost so many. It was not necessary here. Bruce thought he had adjusted the variables though and could potentially shift between forms at will and maintain some sort of connection between his two halves.
Traveling by bifrost would never stop being weird, but he was smiling when he emerged just outside the village and saw Thor waiting for him. “Good to see you,” he said, clapping the other man on the shoulder.
Thor smiled widely at his friend, and enveloped him a huge hug, forgoing the shoulder pat back. “Banner! I am pleased you have arrived and are able to visit Asgard.”
While he knew it was technically called Tonsberg, none of the people used that word. For all intents and purposes, it was Asgard.
Pulling away, Thor’s smile only deepened. He’d invited many to join them but with all the strange time jump that had occurred, it was understandable that there was a confusion . He sitll hadn’t fully spoken to Loki about anything realy, hadn’t even seen his brother. To be fair, he knew there would be something to deal with, considering his size, his beard..his hair.
By the Norns, did he miss his hair. He should have grown it out sooner.
“Come, allow me to show you to my home. From there, we should be able to walk around the village and you can see the other buildings. How long do you believe you can stay?” Thor didn’t want to sound too eager … even if he was.
Being engulfed in a Thor hug wasn’t all that surprising, even if there was a bit more of him to be engulfed by than Bruce was used to. He smiled and returned the hug, appreciating how affectionate his friend was.
“It’s beautiful,” he said, taking a moment to look around once Thor stepped back. “I can stay for a few days.” He’d had to bargain with Christine and agree to the… experiments she got it in her head to perform on him in exchange. “I look forward to seeing everything.”
Maybe at some point he’d open up to Thor about everything else that was going on. Or he might just enjoy drinking with the Asgardians.
“There is much to see!” Thor was always enthusiastic but when it came to Asgard? Well, it was doubly so. “Come. Let us see the village square.” The entire walk, Thor chattered around to Bruce, waved to his people, stopped occasionally to talk to the odd villager, and basically didn’t allow Bruce much opportunity to talk.
It wasn’t until Thor brought Bruce into his house that he finally let his friend speak. “So? Is it not amazing? Asgardians are resilient,” he said proudly. “We have taken what was given to us and fully made it ours without losing our culture, our language or our way of life. In a way, the jump forward was a gift. I can feel more content knowing we have not lost ourselves and had in fact prospered.” There were unavoidable parts, like all the Netflix, and Spotify and other streaming services that were influencing their young, but it was like with any other culture in the world.
Regardless. Thor was proud.
Bruce was used to spending time with Tony, who also chattered incessantly, so he didn’t feel the need to say much. He preferred to listen and take in everything that Thor said along with what he was observing on his own.
“It’s incredible,” he said. “Very impressive.”
That the Asgardians were resilent was no surprise. “Everyone seems to be doing well.” What they’d gone through, losing their home and so many of their number, had been difficult and would have thoroughly defeated a lesser people.
“They are lucky to have you as their leader.”
Thor shook his head. “It is I that is lucky.” And he truly believed that. This life, it felt like a second gift. Even though his mother was only here for a brief period, it was enough to give Thor the confidence and love he needed from her. With Loki alive, Val here, Sif back...and of course, Jane, Thor felt undeniably blessed by the Norns, the Fates, and yes, by Odin himself.
He didn’t say all this though. Instead, he only smiled.
“The children have learned to speak the local languages without allspeak and it’s very interesting to see the interactions. We will thrive.” Leading Bruce into a spare room, he motioned to the bed. “You can stay here. This house is far too big for just I, so I welcome the company. The entire house is at your leisure, so please do not feel like you are a guest. You are a friend, a dear one, and I am thankful you are here. Is there anything in particular you would like to see or accomplish during your visit? Or would you rather rest?”
“I want to see everything,” Bruce said, knowing it was a vague answer. He didn’t know what all was here to see though and didn’t want to limit his options, trusting Thor to select the most relevant things.
He appreciated not being treated as a guest, though he would take care not to exceed the bounds of Asgardian hospitality. If such bounds existed. “Does Jane live here as well?” he asked. He’d like to see her while he was visiting, if possible, to say hello and see how she was doing in remission.
Thor was going to encourage Bruce to see what Eir had done in their healing hall, but at Bruce’s question about Jane, Thor made a face. “No, she continues to live in New York. With her health, it was better for her to remain close to her doctors and medical team. Although I can transport her wherever, it can be exhausting to travel by bifrost, and only the most hale should accomplish it. Now though, with time moving…well, you surely saw her network post. She is healthy and well and in a stage of remission.”
He couldn’t hide the tooth grin of happiness that crossed his face.
“We will see what happens next. I am hoping she will come here sooner rather than later ...or that I can be by her side.” He hadn’t confided in anyone yet about what he wanted to do, to take a well deserved break from ruling. He hadn’t even told Jane. But there was a twinkle in his eyes when he mentioned this. “It will be nice to have her there. I miss her when she is not around.”
It did make sense that they wanted to keep her close to treatment though Bruce was confident that it would be safe enough for Jane to move at this point despite not having looked at her future charts yet.
“I imagine she would prefer to be at your side as well,” he said. “I can talk to her when I get back to New York. Run some tests if she likes.”
He’d be happy to help the two of them however he could.
“Dr. Palmer looked at her files as well. It’s amazing, this future life. Did you think your life would be like this if you simply skipped through it?” Thor really liked it. He’d already started losing some weight, nothing too noticeable, and he found that he honestly wasn’t in a rush. He was happy and it had been far too long since he could say that.
“At times,” he confessed, “I expect to go to sleep and everything reverts ...but not in such a way as to a few weeks ago. I expect to relive Ragnarok again. Or even Thanos … and not how we did in this timeline. I do not wish to have such significant loss again.”
Bruce understood that all too well. He still had occasional nightmares about the early days of the Hulk and some of the destruction he wrought, not to mention Ultron and Thanos. It was a lot. “Neither do I,” he said, resting his hand on Thor’s shoulder again. It would be nice if they could have some genuine down time, a chance to simply live their lives.
“I’m not quite as content as you are,” he admitted. “But I’m trying to figure that out.” Maybe his experiments with Christine would help.
Thor nodded and clasped his friend’s hand. He’d never shied away from physical affection, and wouldn’t start now. “Figuring it out is a brave step, my friend but one that should be looked at. Growing up, I had never considered happiness as a motivation, although, to be honest, I was never unhappy. Crown prince, favoured by all. Loki would have many choice words to say, I’m sure, but for my own purposes, I was nothing but happy.” He stopped for a moment before sighing. “And it was for my own purposes. It wasn’t until my exile and meeting Jane that I truly understood what it meant to be humble and acknowledge the smaller victories that life may present to me.”
A hard lesson and yet a very necessary one.
“There is no glory in fighting for the sake of fighting.”
“That’s a lesson a lot of people could stand to learn,” Bruce remarked. Too many people were caught up in fighting for the sake of it. The world would be a far better place if everyone would relax a little. Maybe the hippies were onto something.
He paused for a moment, considering, before speaking again. “Do you ever worry that you’ll hurt Jane? Because of your strength, I mean?”
“Hurt Jane?” He shook his head. “No, why would I worry about that? I am in control of my own strength, as I am at all moments of my life.” He looked around the room and picked up a book at random. Tossing it in his hands, he continued talking. “I can gently juggle this book as easily as I can crush it.” At which he demonstrated. With no effort, the book was pulverized with a loud pop, and pages flittered around the air.
“I suppose there are times when I am not fully aware of my surroundings, and it could be a worry?” His eyes widened. “Oh yes, when she was ill, I did take more care to be aware of how frail she was, but for the most part, no I do not concern myself of it. It is a fact of life. I really am the strongest Avenger.” Take that, Tony Stark.
Thor gave Bruce a curious look. “Why do you ask?”
If Bruce had the same confidence in his control as Thor, he wouldn’t have these questions. “Just… wondering, that’s all,” he said, trying to shrug it off. He certainly had no interest in arguing over who was the strongest Avenger, though he was pretty sure Carol would beat them both handily.
“I haven’t done the relationship thing in a long time because of the Other Guy,” he said. “Thought maybe you could understand those concerns better than anyone else.”
Wait -- was he talking about ….
Asgardians were naturally very private people, especially the royal family. With so many skeletons in the closet (and siblings, apparently), information was meted out carefully and purposefully. There was no idle chit chat or gossip -- at least not from them.
“It can be a ...challenge,” he said slowly, wording things as carefully as he could without sharing too much. “Especially when emotions are high…however, I find that once one discovers that balance and keeps one’s boundaries in mind, it can become second nature. Because that’s what it is at this point -- second nature. I am surrounded by delicate Midgardians. I do not wish to break any of them. If I am to live here, I must adapt, one way or another.”
He thought for a moment. Bruce’s life sounded solitary. Friendships, while enjoyable, did not replace companionship. If Bruce chose to live this way, well, that was one thing. But if he didn’t?
“There are hardy Asgardian women here who would be pleased to reintroduce you to the pleasures of carnality. Would you like me to invite them over?” He had no problem doing that. During feasts, all appetites had to be whetted and the host had to ensure his guests left fully satisfied.
Bruce’s face immediately felt like it was on fire at Thor’s offer. “No, no, that’s not necessary,” he said quickly. “I… you know what. Forget I asked. Why don’t we go and have some of that Asgardian mead I’ve heard so much about?”
Alcohol was not something Bruce typically used as a coping mechanism, but it sounded like a really good idea right about now.
Thor piped up immediately.
“Yes! Let us drink to our heart’s content and fill this house with music and merriment!” If there was alcohol to be had, Val would find her way over as well. Maybe all the Revengers could be present. Korg was around somewhere, and Loki...well if Val came, maybe Loki would.