Banner Retrieval

November 14, 2015:

With the help of Peabody, Rant tracks down H.. actually, Hulk called for a ride.

Some place in a small town


NPCs: Diner people



Mood Music: [*\# None.]

Fade In…

Bruce Banner sits on a beach along the coast of New York, a couple of hundred miles north of the city proper. The morning is cold, with a brisk wind and a bit of drizzle, fitting with Banner's mood. He washed up in the middle of the night, nude and pulling himself together in the wake of last night's transformation. He'd trekked into town, swiping an outfit out of a dryer at an unattended laundromat. Small towns are trusting that way.

He has on a grey Syracuse hoodie and a pair of drawstring pants. The hood is pulled up to hide his face. The shoes don't fit him very well, but they were good enough to get into the library this morning and use their computer - it let him ping Melody as to where he was at so he could get a ride. He didn't linger long - they didn't have a lot of homeless people here and he didn't imagine they loved the idea of the drifter who just wandered into town, salty and grizzled, hanging around too much. Best to get gone before the local fatboy Sheriff showed up to try and run him out of town. That shit never ended well.

He also managed to beg five bucks, enough for a pack of cigs and a cheap lighter, taking a long drag and blowing a plume of smoke into the damp air as he looks out at the surf. And waits.

Sitting with Peabody was boring.

He really didn't do much save for yammer on and on and on about the programs that were outfitted with the little Wilson and the location of Banner which soon popped upon the screen. It wasn't long before Melody was gated down to her home shared with the ever elusive, in which clothes were gathered up and the proper shoe size acquired, fitted into a bag and on her bike she goes. It wasn't a long ride by any means, thirty minutes upon her brand new Kawasaki, burning through the streets at break-neck speeds because.. who knows how Bruce is after he turns into the Hulk.

Her arrival was met with the roar of the small engine, which was soon cut off as she drops down the kickstand to lean the bike to the side, one leg swung over from the bike as she approaches him.. not afraid but.. she was stiff. It was cold.

"So. Go to public forums and Hulk out often?"

Bruce Banner doesn't look up, just taking a long drag on his cigarette, holding it for a long moment. "Not in a while," he says. "They just…they killed that kid. Right there on stage. Like no one would do anything about it. I just…I couldn't hold him in," he says. "Worse. I didn't want to. Those people deserved what they got. Worse," he says.

He doesn't really remember exactly what happened - he can sometimes remember the Hulk's actions, but usually vaguely, as through a fog. It's mostly just a feeling, more than anything, and it makes him queasy to remember it. All that hate. All that rage. Too much. He shoves it down and packs it away where it belongs, inside the monster. It just leaves him cold and a bit sad.

"How big of a shit did Deathstroke take when he heard?" he says.

The bookbag was slung from her shoulder and offered as he begins to speak, leaving the fresh clothes and shoes in his hand as she draws her fingers into her pocket. "I.." She really didn't know what to say. Usually Bruce is stoic, but this was something entirely different. "I'm sorry." That's all she really could say, after all.

"He didn't put up much of a fuss. His orders were to locate you, bring you in and give you something to eat. I guess that's his hard assed way of saying he cares? I don't know. I don't think I want to make you anything to eat because it'll probably make you mad. Not good at cooking." She giggles just a touch. "But something else went down, there's a clone of him running loose and I haven't heard from them since.."

Bruce Banner shakes his head, "I'm not hungry. Don't worry about that," he says. He lights another cigarette off its predecessor, tossing the filter onto the beach and shoving sand over it with his foot to make sure it's tamped out. "I'm not…I don't cry. Not anymore," he says. "I just…seeing those people, cheering, all that…bile gathered together, vomited up. For a moment, it made me understand him. Why he hates the human race. How he feels. That's how everyone seems to him. The way everyone reacts to the sight of him. He's a monster, yes, but…I don't know…" he says.

He's never really felt sympathy for the Hulk before, comfortable in his hatred for his alter ego. Finding a crack in that wall of mutual self-loathing seems to have shaken him.

"I think you should eat either way." She murmurs, taking another step back as he lights a cigarette. Even though she can't be hurt by the smoke, the smell still bothered her and often times triggered a sneeze that annoyed her for days. She shifts just a touch, her jaw tensing.. her gaze flitting off towards the ocean as she tries to make sense of what he was saying. "I.. I don't know what to say or do for you right now.." She starts off, then looks towards him.

"I don't know if I should give you a hug or something, or tell you everything is going to be okay but its going to be a lie." She reaches out to awkwardly pat his shoulder. "But.. I guess sitting in this funk isn't going to help unless you can get drunk or smoke some weed for a while. Neither of which I have.." So.. there was only one thing left, she just.. gives him a sideways hug after stepping in, laying her head upon his shoulder. "Do you think never going outside again will help?"

Bruce Banner doesn't quite smile, but he doesn't draw away from the hug either. Which, in a way, was something. No one's hugged Bruce Banner in a long, long time. Not since Betty and, well…he didn't like to think about Betty anymore. That was all a long time ago, back when he was still just Bruce Banner. He'll never be that again, not really. He's lonely, but never really alone.

"I think I've tried that on a few occasions, but I always end up going out again in time," he says softly. "But getting back and having some of my stash will probably help. And you're right, I likely should eat something. Transforming hits my body's protein reserves fairly hard - I'll be aching for a day or two,' he says.

That hug was tight around his waist, she even turns a little bit to draw her other arm around him to hug him as well. Surely, it wasn't returned, but it seemed to work, right? Lately.. she's been sinking into that robotic way of thinking and feeling. Losing herself by focusing more on improving her nanites than anything else. In a way, it was sad.

"Well. Let's go and get you fed in town. You need to get dressed first so you can look like a regular person. I don't know what you got going on with shoes but if you're going to steal something at least make sure it fits." Her nose wrinkles a little as she takes a step back, her head lowering in which soon her eyes were covered by her hands. "G'on. I ain't watching."

Bruce Banner changes efficiently, shaking his head a little as she hides her eyes. Soon, he's clad in a Dragonball Z t-shirt, brown corduroy jacket with matching pants and socks to go with his own shoes. He pulls on a stocking cap, drawing it out of the pocket of the jacket, a dull brown to match the rest of the gear except for the bright yellow hair of the overmuscled figure on his shirt.

"Looked like there was a nice diner on the edge of town. I like diners. Coffee's usually good, there's always bacon and the waitresses never ask too many questions," he says.

Now, Melody wasn't dead. She did lift her head a little and shift her fingers so that she could peek through the cracks to watch him change. And then, fingers snap closed again until he was dressed all the way, her hands dropping as she lets out a wrinkle of her nose.. "Perhaps I should have gotten you another shirt.. but whatever!" She does nod a little, then moves towards her bike to settle down upon it, tilting it just enough to draw away the kickstand and fire the small engine to life.

"Get on. Pretty obvious I'm buying. Or Deathstroke is buying. Or maybe I'll get reimbursed for the pancakes.." She doesn't bother with a helmet, she was fine. But it was starting to get cold, eventually she'd have to shelf the bike all together.

Bruce Banner is completely oblivious, of course, to any peeking. Never even crossed his mind. He goes over to the bike and climbs up behind her, wrapping his arms carefully around her midsection. "I can always repay you. I have a variety of bank accounts. None in my name of course and most of the money is stolen. But stolen from people who deserve to be stolen from. Plus, I imagine my couple of months worth of STAR Labs salary must be accrued…somewhere," he says.

He doesn't bother with the helmet either. It wasn't as if an accident could truly harm him and, even with the helmet, the chaos of a collision would create the natural consequence. Or unnatural, in his case.

Melody totally peeked. She saw it all. Well most of it, anyways. But the bike lowers just a touch as he settles himself upon it, the arm wrapping around her waist is glanced at as she leans forward to take hold of the handles to rev the engine. "No need. I'm practically rich. Hood rich is what they call it. But no, I have money too. All legit, thanks to Daddy Warbucks." She shakes her head a little then begins to fly, not going as fast as she did when she had gotten to that small town, but taking in the sights at a slightly slow crawl, until the aformentioned diner was met.

"Is this the place?" She murmurs, turning around in the street and backing into the spot.. parked at an angle. She waits until he gets off of the bike so she could draw up the kickstand, then shuts the engine off. "We have to be quick and get back. Apparently, Deathstroke has a son who's in lockup."

Bruce Banner shakes his head as he climbs off the back of the bike, "Of course he does," he says with a slight snort. "Yeah, this is it," he says. Missy's Good Eats, according to the sign above the place. The door does the customary jingle as they go in, letting Bruce angle them quickly towards a booth with a view towards the bike and the outside. That way, he can go through the glass if they have to make a quick escape.

"Coffee, bacon, scrambled eggs, french toast," he says to the woman who comes up to serve them, a chipper looking blonde who can't be more than a year or two out of high school. He doesn't look at the menu, largely because he can't imagine a place that doesn't serve those things. He does miss smoking sections, though.

Once she settles in, she really doesn't look at the menu either. Diners like these are a dime a dozen, favorites, but a dozen all the same. "I'll have what he's having. Orange Juice, no coffee." She pushes the menu aside, then watches him carefully. "I know it's been a while since we've last hung out. But.. Shift is alive." Bomb dropped, moving on.

"I don't know how. I didn't ask why.. but.." She shrugs her shoulders just a touch. "And this thing with the Authority, I.. I think it's really serious. That.. clone person sawed some police woman in half with just one blow."

Bruce Banner leans back for a moment at that. Wow, he was really missing the smoking section now. "Well…that's good. I know things had gotten complicated even before, but…dead is better than alive. In most cases," he says. He has no ability to comment on her feelings regarding Shift, for good or ill - he's a bad therapist and a bad patient.

To the latter, he runs his hands over his face, "Seems to be a bit of that going around,' he says. "Does Slade have any idea how to track this clone down? And is he actually letting us help, or is he on some sort of one-man redemption crusade?"

"Everything is always complicated.. but we manage." Melody doesn't even look at him when she says it, she barely believes it herself. She practically shut herself off from the world, emotionally mostly at least. At this point, she didn't want to deal with herself, and settles for the food that was soon put in front of them.

"No, I don't think he's handling it alone. He went with Lunair and Lux to go handle the situation as we speak, I don't know what's going on but he gave me a clear order to bring you back." She frowns a little. "I don't think I'd be good out there, so he mae the right call. To me at least.. Lux and Lunair are way more experienced and I think I'd just get killed or get in the way."

Bruce Banner shake his head, 'I think you're more capable than you think you are. I know they have powers that assist them more directly in fighting things, but that doesn't mean they can't screw up. Nobody's perfect. Not even Slade," he says.

"You're all likely to be killed. That's the nature of operations like this. Casualties are part of the equation - I'm sure Deathstroke expects one or more of you to die. He even has replacements waiting in the wings, no doubt," he says. "What you have to decide is whether you think whatever it is we're fighting for is worth maybe dying for. If it is, then the risk doesn't matter. And, if it isn't, then you shouldn't be involved in the first place."

"Not in most ways." Melody was almost over the self loathing bit, but something he did say manages to catch her attention. "I know no ones perfect, not even you.. really."

"You pretty much excluded yourself from the dying.. I mean.. I know that I'm going to die one day, if not in the field it could be because of my addictions.." She frowns just a little, then shakes her head.. "But why you? Why did you join the Authority? You have nothing out there worth laying on the line I don't think. Me and you.. we're barely.. well, you're the only friend I have but I'm sure you didn't join for me. So why?"

Bruce Banner considers for a moment as the waitress arrives, bringing their food. He gets some juice, as well, to go with the coffee, a little counterpoint as he adds cream and sugar in relatively large proportions to his drink, then eats a few forks of eggs before answering. "I don't think I can die. Anymore. I tried. Nearly a hundred times over, I tried to kill myself after…he happened," he says. "It just makes him come out. Usually pretty pissed off at me for trying to kill him. Rightfully so, maybe," he says. He's re-thinking a lot of things lately.

"I joined because I have to face the possibility that I may not ever be able to cure myself. I may never be able to go back to being just Bruce Banner. And if this is what I am…what I have to be…then I need to find some good use for it. Some purpose. Otherwise, I'm just a disaster waiting to happen, adrift, like a…a nuclear weapon just wandering through the world. I'm not sentimental or emotional, but I do have some semblance of a conscience."

"You probably haven't tried everything." Melody jokes, but it was a very, very quick one.

"At least you joined for something substantial, I joined because I feel worthless and I'm not doing anything worthwhile with my life." She smiles, but goes silent again. "And I was just tired of being the one that needs protecting.. even though still.. I am." She pushes her plate towards him as she slowly slides from the booth. "Eat up. I'm going to the bathroom and I'll wait outside for you to finish." She takes the orange juice, drinking it down until there was nothing left. Once the glass was placed upon the table, she retrieves her credit card to leave behind, making sure he could see it. And without another word, she heads straight to the bathroom.

Bruce Banner watches her go and considers what she said. He wasn't a sugarcoater by nature, but he didn't think she was being fair to herself either. Probably some sort of parental issues - her father certainly seemed to have diminished her in some way, made her feel less valuable. Not that he could talk about Daddy issues - even the briefest memory of his father made the beast in his belly roil.

He nods to the waitress as the credit card is taken, feeling a bit of judgment for letting the lady by for their meal. But this wasn't a date, after all, and he could always repay Melody later.

He finishes off his french toast and sits back, fingers itching a little bit for a cigarette and glancing towards the bathroom. He couldn't help Melody be more formidable - at least, not normally. Could he perhaps invent something, some upgrade, some…technology that might be able to help her? Maybe…he'd have to think about it.

He didn't have the best track record with such things, after all.

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