Who: Sharon Carter and Bruce Banner What: Checking Sharon’s stitches When: After her coffee meeting with Mobius Where: The Clinic Warning: discussion of woundcare Status: Completed via Gdoc
Well, that had certainly been interesting. This Mobius fellow brought forth a lot of confusion for Sharon. He was all over the place, but she felt like they’d reached an understanding.
Now… Bruce. Bruce Banner, without the danger of the Hulk breaking through. And not Doctor Hulk? This was certainly a change from her original reality. She was thankful, though, as she worried that her stitches were weeping, and though she’d had a lot of stitches over the last few years, she wasn’t a doctor. She’d read Bruce Banner’s file at SHIELD and knew that while he had PHDs in things like physics and chemistry and the like, he also had a medical degree. She trusted him to know how to help her with her stitches more than she trusted to know what to do about it herself.
She might need to go back on the antibiotics. She hadn’t finished her regimen when she was brought here, and of course the pills were at her hotel room in DC. The other DC.
She headed up to the Clinic to meet up with him, feeling sore and a little cranky. “Hello? Doctor Banner?”
“I know it’s not Agent Carter these days,” Bruce said. “Is it okay if I call you Sharon? And you can call me Bruce?” They weren’t terribly formal around here, so that seemed the most reasonable solution.
He could tell that she was in a little pain when she entered and he suspected that she was also very tired, though he knew well enough not to say as much. “Hop up here,” he said, patting the exam table. “Where are your stitches?”
Sharon moved further into the infirmary, glancing around curiously. The equipment was state of the art--but what did she expect from Stark and SHIELD combined?--though it had a sterile or clinical feel to it. Bruce Banner’s voice was a bit of warmth, though, which she savored.
“Fine, then. Bruce,” she agreed with a smile. It’d been a while since she’d taken any painkillers, so she winced as she climbed up onto the exam table. “Here,” she added, leaning back and lifting her shirt to expose the bandage. It was just at the waistband of her trousers, far to the left side.
Bruce bent down to take a closer look at the wound, frowning as he did. The stitches looked like they’d been hastily done and the whole area was red and angry looking. “I’d like to remove these, clean the area, and put in fresh ones, if that’s okay with you.”
He hadn’t actually touched her yet, hesitating because he’d picked up on her slight discomfort at being in a room with him, he assumed due to her concerns that he might not have as good a handle on his alter ego as he’d claimed. If she declined his suggestion, then Bruce would at least give her the materials to clean the wound herself.
Sharon had to lean back on an elbow and tug the waistband of her trousers down just a little so that he could get a good look at the stitches. They were kinda burny at the moment, and she’d been experiencing an alarming amount of discomfort. Okay, pain. She was in pain.
She’d read his file. Back at SHIELD, when she was undercover, she had to be informed about all of the Avengers. She knew that The Hulk was one of the strongest and most indestructible dangers that humankind had ever produced. She also knew that Bruce Banner was a lot of things: brilliant, honest, generous, kind… but he was no liar. When he said that he had it under control and was no danger, she believed him.
“All right.” She said, letting out a gush of air. “I didn’t finish my regimen of antibiotics before I ended up in this world. I might need some of those. ...and possibly a painkiller.”
Her candor was both surprising and refreshing. Bruce was used to dealing with patients who lied about their symptoms and tried to get away with as little intervention as possible.
“I can do that,” he said. “Give me a minute.” He walked away and rummaged around in a supply closet before returning, carrying scissors, sutures, gauze, medical tape, and saline solution. After setting down those items, he turned and opened a drawer, pulling out a small bottle of lidocaine.
Bruce gave her a smile. “This is probably going to sting a little,” he warned before dousing a gauze pad with saline solution to clean the area. His actions were as gentle as possible, but with a wound that was so likely infected, any sort of pressure was going to cause discomfort.
After he cleaned it, he looked up to see how she was doing before he moved on to the next step.
*** Sharon nodded. The... solution stuff--antiseptic?--was undoubtedly better than whatever it was she'd used back in her world. Still, it burned when he used the gauze to clean it. She gave a little hiss and whimper.
And then she caught him looking up at her to check her reaction. She chuckled softly. "I'm okay. It stings, but I'm a big girl. I can take it."
Her eyes moved back down to the wound, with the jagged, black stitches. It was an angry red, but it wasn't weeping. At least, not yet.
"How long have you been here?" She asked, making conversation while he worked.
That was actually a complicated question and Bruce needed to stop and think about it before he could answer. “Well, it was April of 2019 when I first arrived,” he said as he poured some lidocaine on a fresh gauze pad and gently swiped it over the affected area to numb it before he removed the current stitches, cleaned it again, and then restitched. It was going to be a bit of a process.
“At some point, we skipped five years,” he said. “I guess to catch up with our universe?” They’d never really understood exactly what happened there. “I also ended up going back there for a few months.” All in all, it meant he wasn’t sure exactly how long he’d been here. “So, two and a half years? Ish?”
Sharon knew the process pretty well. She didn't have a lot of scars, but the ones she had were from this same process. It wasn't her first time at the rodeo. This time was lucky, though, as it was her first abdomen gunshot wound and it hadn't hit any vital organs. She hoped it would be her last abdomen gunshot wound.
"Jesus," she said, staring at him in shock. Tony had said he'd been around for years, too. This place certainly liked to fuck with people.
"...how did you go back there? Stark said there was no way back."
Bruce shrugged as he carefully cut away the stitches, trying to remove them without bumping her skin with either his fingers or the tiny scissors to avoid causing any undue pain. “No idea,” he said. “I didn’t remember this universe while I was there, I just… wasn’t here anymore and then suddenly I was and it was a few months later.”
None of his seven PhDs gave him insight to how any of this worked.
He was so incredibly gentle. Sharon was in awe, actually. When she'd had the stitches put in, it'd been super painful. (And she might have self-medicated with rather large gulps of rather strong liquor.) This was nothing in comparison.
She shifted on her elbow, adjusting for maximum comfort--it was gonna take a while to get those stitches out, and then new stitches, too.
"This place certainly is a mystery." She offered, almost apologetically. "...My credit cards from the other world work here."
“A mystery is one word for it,” Bruce said. The words Tony used were generally more colorful. “But having access to your accounts is a bonus.” He supposed they were all lucky that Tony still had access to Stark money or they wouldn’t have this tower or all the other supplies that he provided.
It was slow going to remove the stitches and, when he finished, Bruce looked up at her again. “I’m going to clean this again. I’m guessing these were not done by a medical professional.” If he had to guess, he would suspect that whoever stitched her up hadn’t bothered to clean the wound at all, so it was no wonder she was in pain.
"I imagine after two and a half years here, you might have some other words for it," Sharon responded, giving him a smirk. "It makes me wonder what other things exist here, too." She was going to have to call contacts. Get her hands on some burner phones.
A little chuckle escaped her. "You guessed right. More like a field medic. I wasn't exactly in a position to go to a hospital." Don't ask how she got the antibiotics, Bruce.
"You've been so gentle. I appreciate it." She smiled a bit more shyly. "How bad do you think the scar's gonna be? Am I saying goodbye to bikinis forever?"
The way she asked the question made him think of Bobbi. It sounded like something she’d have said. Actually, it might have been something she said at some point. He didn’t think about her often, preferring to focus on his work, but every now and again he felt a pang of loneliness.
“I think if you’re wearing a bikini, no one is going to be looking at your scar,” Bruce said, almost absently, as he got the materials to clean her wound again before restitching it. From most anyone else, it would come across as a skeevy pickup line, but it definitely didn’t sound like that coming out of Bruce’s mouth.
That was the kind of line that might have come across as lecherous if delivered in a different way, from a different person. As it was, the frankness of the compliment, delivered in such an absent-minded way, was so genuine and sweet that Sharon felt her icy exterior melt just a little. She almost couldn't believe that it'd come from Bruce Banner of all people. The Hulk himself, who was so carefully and gently taking care of her wound. She'd never noticed before that he was quite handsome. Probably mostly because she spent so much time making fucking googley eyes at Steve Rogers. Barf.
Heart beating a little faster, she broke into a wolfish grin. A mischievous glint twinkled in her eye. "Is that so? And what would they be looking at?"
Bruce looked up from cleaning the wound at the question, realizing suddenly that what he’d said might have been inappropriate, and his cheeks turned pink. “Uh… sorry,” he said, his awkwardness shining like a beacon. “It’s just… you know… you’re an attractive woman.” For a man with so many advanced degrees, he sounded something like a teenager in the moment.
Turning his attention back to his work, he finished cleaning out the site and picked up the needle and thread so he could begin the suturing. “If you need me to use more lidocaine, let me know,” he said before beginning.
It may have been inappropriate considering he was acting as her healthcare provider in the moment. But Sharon didn't care about that, she was more amused by the pink on his cheeks and the tone of his voice. "Well, thank you, Doctor Banner. --Bruce," she amended quickly. "And you're cute when you blush."
Then she hissed slightly at the stitch. She could handle it, but it did sting.
*** The compliment only served to make his cheeks go pinker and Bruce nodded once in acknowledgment of it, but immediately focused on the hiss of pain and stopped what he was doing so he could reach for the lidocaine again. He swiped a bit more over the wound and then said, “We’ll give that a minute to take effect,” he said. “Should numb the area enough that you don’t feel too much pain.”
It was much easier to talk about medical things than personal things.
Oh, Sharon was very amused by the pink on his cheeks and the fluster in his movement. She smirked as she watched him put the lidocaine on her wound. Should she feel bad about flirting so blatantly? It was so entertaining, though.
"Thank you," she said, softly, conceding this one. They could definitely talk about medical things instead. "It's gonna smart later, isn't it?" The stitches stung like mad when she'd first had them done.
“Probably,” he said, his tone apologetic even though it wasn’t in any way something he could control. “I’ll give you some painkillers. And some antibiotics.” He paused. “And you need to take the entire prescription.”
Bruce gave her a stern look as he admonished her. “This could very easily get infected,” he explained. “It’s in a spot that your clothes are going to rub constantly.” That made it more susceptible to problems.
That brought a grin to Sharon's lips. "Yes, Doctor." She said it with a tease in her voice. "Really, I would have finished the antibiotics. I was just... y'know... pulled into an alternate reality against my will and left the bottle in my hotel room."
She lowered a fingertip to press on the skin near the wound. It felt hot, but the pain was gone now.
"I'll keep a clean bandage over it, if you think that would help." She paused, then added a line just to provoke a reaction, "Or I could just not wear clothes."
As excuses went, ‘yanked into an alternate universe’ was pretty valid, so Bruce wasn’t going to give her too hard of a time about not finishing the meds. He watched as she poked herself and, when she didn’t wince, he started to stitch the area again, though he faltered at her comment.
“That’s… certainly an option,” he agreed, cheeks flushing again. “There’s no surveillance in the private apartments. I’ll give you gauze though, in case you need to go out.”
Sharon laughed, and then winced. The wound was still sensitive, even though he was likely able to put the stitches in now. She almost covered it with her hand. Almost. Putting pressure on it sometimes helped with the pain.
"I'm sorry, I was... teasing. I got carried away by your blush," she admitted, smirking. Then she settled back down on her elbow again, shifting to become comfortable. "I promise I won't do it again."
Bruce looked up at her, his lips turned up in amusement. “Somehow I don’t believe that, Ms. Carter,” he said in a more playful tone than he’d been using previously. “I know your type.”
He made quick work of re stitching the wound, not wanting to draw out her discomfort longer than necessary. When he finished, he covered the area with a clean gauze pad and used some medical tape to hold it in place.
Hey, at least he seemed to be enjoying their interaction, too. Sharon bit down on her lower lip to stop herself from laughing again. "And what type is that?" She asked, watching him with the stitches now, and trying to hold as still as she could so they'd be straight and easy for him to finish.
Once he was done, she shifted and straightened her clothes to cover the bandage once more, then pushed herself up to a sitting position.
“The devious type,” he said with a small grin. While she straightened her clothes, Bruce gathered some supplies for her - a stack of individually wrapped gauze pads and a small bottle of saline solution. “Here’s some more bandages. You should try to give it at least an hour of air a day and change the covering every eight to twelve hours.”
He went into the other room and returned a couple of minutes later carrying two bottles of pills. “Here are your antibiotics. One pill, three times a day, for ten days. And this bottle has five pain pills. Use them sparingly. If you notice any blood or foul smelling ooze, let me know immediately.” He was in full clinical mode now.
Sharon grinned softly to herself. The devious type. Oh, if only he knew. She climbed off the table and shifted her weight. The wound already felt better. Probably just the numbing agent he used before the stitches.
"Thank you," she accepted the bandages with a nod. Eight to twelve hours. One hour of air per day. She tucked them into the pocket of her blazer, then pulled it on while he was getting her the medication.
"I will." The pill bottles went into her other pocket. Now she was thankful for having large pockets. Good purchase, this jacket. She paused. "The pain pills. How loopy am I gonna get if I take one?"
“That’s going to depend on your tolerance,” Bruce said. “Though I’d recommend against driving or operating any sort of heavy machinery. Try to take them with food. There’s a few places where Tony has accounts set up. You can ask Friday and she’ll take care of it.”
Living in a tower with a full service AI had its perks.
“Not a problem as I don’t have a car,” Sharon said, softly. She didn’t bother driving in Madripoor, either. She had a driver for that. But knowing to take it with food helped. “All right, sounds good. Is there a kitchen around somewhere? I bet there is. Just… I’ve spent a lot of time living on takeout. It might be nice to have a home-cooked meal for a change. Not that I’m much of a cook, but I make a mean bowl of cereal.”
Bruce nodded. “Each apartment has a small kitchenette, but there’s a bigger one on the 36th floor.” He paused for a moment, considering if this was a good idea or not, and then added, “If you want a home-cooked meal, I can make something. What do you like?”
“I guess I’ll have to get used to my little kitchenette if I’m going to be lounging around resting.” Naked. It went unsaid, but it was there. Lingering. Hanging on the end of her sentence, teasingly.
“Oh, you don’t have to do that, Bruce. You’ve already helped me so much. And thank you, by the way. Have I said it yet? I probably should have said it a thousand times today.” The smile was genuine. The words were heartfelt.
Surprisingly, even as oblivious as Bruce usually was, he did pick up on what she left unsaid. And wisely chose not to comment on it. “Friday can arrange for a grocery delivery too,” he said.
“And you’re very welcome.” It was basically his job, so he didn’t think thanks were necessary, but he knew better than to argue. “Also, I enjoy cooking and do it at least a few times a week to make sure Tony is fed anyway.”
"It'd be nice to have a few staples in my kitchenette pantry," Sharon admitted. "Pop Tarts, Red Bull, Cheetos..." She was teasing. Well, mostly teasing. She did like some junk food.
Mobius had said something about forgetting to eat, too. What was it with this place and people not eating? Sharon grinned an almost shy grin and nodded.
"Well, if you're feeding Tony already? I wouldn't say no. I'm not picky, I'll just have a bite of whatever you make for him."
Everyone around here liked junk food. Bruce had mostly given up on trying to get any of them to have proper nutrition. “Any food allergies?” he asked. “I’ll bring something by in the next day or two.”
He could just ask Friday which apartment she was in. “If you need anything though, send me a message.” He didn’t want her to be in pain or have any other difficulties with her wound.
“You’re not gonna say anything about the Cheetos?” Sharon asked, grinning. She didn’t actually eat Cheetos. “Should I have said Flamin’ Hot Cheetos instead?”
Then she gave her head a little shake. “No food allergies. I… Thank you. It means a lot.” Sharon Carter would never have guessed she would have enjoyed hanging out with Bruce Banner so much. It caught her completely off guard, but she liked it. He’d been very helpful, and flirting with him was so fun when he went pink.
“I will. I’ll use the Network. Scout’s honor.” She held up three fingers in the Girl Scout symbol, before taking a few steps toward the door. “Thanks again, Bruce. Now I’m gonna go lay down.”
Bruce laughed. “I gave up on policing anyone’s nutrition around here. It’s hard enough getting people to come see me with gunshot wounds.” He shrugged. “Go get some rest. Let me know if you need anything.”