Who The Hell Is Joe?

February 19, 2016:

Melody and Bruce hang out for a while.. and.. okay I don't know what the fuck just happened..

Kenway's Brownstone

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: Reed Richards, Shift, Captain America and Deathstroke

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

Bruce Banner came in late and crashed on Mel's couch last night. He'd clearly been drinking, even more than usual, and had bags under his eyes. A bit of a wreck, no doubt. He snored and seemed pretty out of it. This morning, he's woken up slowly, walking into the kitchen and shoving his face into the sink, cold water slapped onto his face as he tries to get a grip.

"Mel, can I smoke in your house or do I have to go outside?" he calls out, not sure where the owner of the place is. He seems on edge somehow - not on the verge of a rage, just…off.

That was an unexpected visitor. She didn't expect Bruce to remember where she lived, but it was a welcome surprise to see him at her doorstep. She hasn't seen him in a while, so it was a matter letting him in and.. well, remaining speechless. But, he was there, she was there, showered and hair washed, blow dried in the bathroom, nearly unable to hear him over the racket.

"You can smoke.." She calls out. There wasn't much of a conversation when he came.. and now? It kind of seems like it'll be the same.

Bruce Banner calls out, "Thanks!" as he makes his way back to the kitchen. His head feels foggy. There are parts of last night he can't remember and not in the 'I was drunk' way. But he hadn't hulked out either - no torn clothes, no waking up naked in an alley. This was something new. Not something he'd experienced before.

He felt something he hadn't felt in a while. He was scared.

He lit his cigarette and sat on the couch, doing what he does best - repressing. Waiting for Melody to come out so he could pretend everything was okay.

"I haven't seen you in a while." She manages to say. Fresh from the shower, hair kind of sorta dried yet curling into spirals as natural hair would do. She's gotten it dry enough so that it wouldn't drip, her skin slightly pale.. the obvious dullness that would make her look almost dead if people didn't see her walking. And she seemed weak. Like everything she did took effort. Her hands were even shaking as she moves towards the coffee pot to make sure that everything was filled so that she could start the brew.

"Soda can is in the garbage.. can use that for an ashtray until I find one online." She smiles a little, then takes the pot towards the sink to fill it with water. "You been doing okay? Tell me something new.."

Bruce Banner hops up to retrieve the can, setting it on the coffee table and tapping his first bit of ash into it. /Well, I've been having strange blackouts and violent thoughts and occasionally hearing voices. How are YOU?/ Nope, not gonna say that. He'll deal with it, whatever it is, Mel's always got enough on her plate. Focus on something else.

"Ended up getting…I guess teamed up with some people. Shift invited me along on a mission with Captain fucking America of all people and now I guess I'm…working with them? I don't know, it just kind of happened."

"Whaat?" Melody asks, she was interested, for sure. Once the coffee was set to brew, she picks up her brush and settles down upon the chair nearby, one leg crossing over the other, her shoulders slumping a little as she eyeballs the coffee maker, wishing it'll hurry the hell up.

"So.. you're on a team, with Shift and Captain America.. and a few other people you probably don.." It almost sounded like Melody was a little bit bitter, but truly she was just tired. "So no more Authority for you?"

Bruce Banner sighs and considers, "I dunno. I wanna be there with you. I don't really care about the others. But I fuckin' hate Deathstroke. That guy just…" he takes a longer inhale on his smoke, "Makes me want to let -him- come out and play. All over his one-eyed face," he sighs. "That's not good. Hell, it's bad for the team if there's a chance in the middle of a bad situation he pushes me too hard and we get disrupted by Hulk pounding him into cat food," he sighs.

"Yeah, there was some bitchy secret agent chick and a talking cat person and some flying teenager…I dunno. Probably won't last. Never does."

Melody frowns just a little, reaching over to carefully pluck the cigarette from his fingers. She takes a little inhale, then coughs, immediately handing it back over, rethinking the entire thing. "Well.." She sighs out, the smoke soon following. "He means well. He's trying to help me be.. not me." It sounded a little self loathing, and it was. She didn't much like herself after Shift died.. she didn't like being weak.

She does smile in a little amusement, then shrugs her shoulders. "If it wasn't meant to last then it won't. But.. I don't know. I just don't know why the world is the way it is where there is a need for it but.." She shivers a little. She's seen some things. Some things she could talk to Bruce about.. but she doesn't. "Slade has us changing phones every now and again. I don't know if it has anything to do with the recent attacks on me but.. he thinks Jericho is trying to find a way -in- to get at Deathstroke because he kidnapped some SHIELD person. But for safetys sake, I have to turn off my nanites. It feels like a slow death. Which, it really is, but I'm managing."

Bruce Banner frowns softly, "I like you. You don't need to change just to satisfy Deathstroke's idea of what you have to be. There's more than one way to accomplish any goal. I've only just started getting to know Captain America, but he's just as formidable as Deathstroke with none of the bad attitude," he says. He rather suspects Melody responds to Deathstroke's methods because her father, too, likes to belittle and cajole and humiliate her. Fucking psychology.

To the last, he narrows his eyes, "Maybe we can find another way - some sort of cloak or firewall we can install to keep this Jericho out of your head. That or we can hunt him down and I'll let the Hulk turn him into porridge. Heh, might even be fun," he says. His voice changes a bit at the last statement, a little snort and an almost…wicked grin that fades back to his usual blank expression in a moment.

"I know.. I just.. didn't like me." She gestures at herself. "I felt weak. Like.. everyone needed to go out of their way to make sure that Melody was shielded from the bad in the world, even though I was born in it. Grew up with it. And, all I did or do was just cry. I couldn't fight, I couldn't do anything. I felt useless. Like I was just living to live. I mean now at least I have some sort of purpose.." Even if she felt like a whipping post at times. But, it was something. "..like when I put my neck on the line and no one seems to no and no one sees. But, Deathstroke sees me as useful. Someone does. I have that at least." She frowns a little, then trembles, the slight chill getting to her.

The brush was soon discarded as she stands, moving towards the coffee pot to pour herself and him a cup. She shakes her head quickly, "No no no. Jericho helps. I like him. He's.. alright. He's there when I need him. I just rather him not know what I'm doing. He's like that one big brother that has the power to shake his head and make you feel bad about life and you want to suici-.." She pauses, then looks at Bruce.

"Are you okay?"

Bruce Banner shakes his head, "Protecting you never had anything to do with your personality. It's just…there are killers and monsters and superhuman beings throwing fireballs and shit. Even with your nanites, that shit isn't exactly easy to handle and some of us are better suited to deal with it. If other people condescended to you or acted like you were too weak, that's their fault. It's not weakness it's just…humanity. Not everyone regenerates limbs," he says.

When she asks if he's okay, his eyes dart down for a moment, "Fine. Same as always. Head full of monsters, bad road and code."

"I.. know." She hesitates just a little, "It's the way I feel.." She doesn't pour a cup. She just stands there for a moment, troubled and weak. Tired. "I just want to feel like I can be more, do more.. not just lay down and take it. I know there's monsters and killers and.. one of them tried to take me. Not me but.. no. Me. From the inside. And it was strange.. how it just hijacked me and.." She was scared. Truly scared, but she tried not to let it show.

She didn't want to talk about it anymore, but focused on Bruce with a frown, then moves over towards him to wrap her arms around his neck, hugging him tightly. "There's no such thing as bad roads." She was lying. "Want to talk to me about it?"

Bruce Banner considers for a moment. He'll let the whole thing about wanting to feel like she can do more aside - to him, that lead down dangerous roads where you end up, I dunno, performing experiments on yourself. And taht's speaking as a man who currently had a plan to try and see if he could hook himself up to a gamma radiator and somehow overflood his cells to see if he can make them bleed out the excess and give him an idea of how to deactivate the Hulk. But, I mean, what could go wrong with that. At least, that hadn't already gone wrong.

"It's…nothing, probably. Just some…blank spots. Lost time. Things like that. Waking up in strange places. But not like with the Hulk. I didn't rage out and I didn't…well, sometimes my clothes weren't great, but…not torn, y'know, not like when I transform…I don't know what's going on."

For some reason, she wanted to pet him. Pet his hair, something. But, she still kept that tight hug upon him as he spoke, dropping down til she was cheek to cheek with him then lets go. With a pull of her chair and settle near, she looks at him earnestly. "Do you think it's about time for us to see Mr. Richards? I don't know if you two are friends or not but.. I think it'll do you some good."

Bruce Banner considers, "I…maybe…" he says. The idea of going to Reed Richards for help kind of stuck in his craw. Bruce had a certain amount of pride and Reed Richards was, of course, one of the scientific golden boys - him and Stark alike. While Bruce skulked in the shadows and had to…

"I wonder if he uses that rubber dong of his fer anythin' amusin', or if just crawls up inside o' him, gettin' all absorbed an' shit like silly putty," he says, his voice different, gravelly and sarcastic. He glances over fo ra moment and he's got that smirk again, "T'ween him, firecrotch and rockface, gotta be a lotta weird dick hangin' around dat tower," he says. Then there's a twitch for a moment and he shakes his head, lowering his eyes and taking another drag on his smoke. When he looks back up, nothing but regular Bruce again.

"I suppose Richards might be of some use. He's brilliant, I can't deny it."

Melody reaches out to take Bruce's hand, squeezing it ever so slightly. She was trying to be supportive, but her support meant lots of hugs and attempting to get him to cry while confessing his sins.

But.. something strange happened. Something that made her nanites immediately flare on, her skin sparkling and showing off all signals and signs as she listens to him.. not him.. what..

She was left with her mouth slightly ajar, her eyes even a shade of green as they never were. What.. just happened. Did he even know?

"Uh…" Beat. "Okay?" Did. did he even know that happened?

LOGNOTE: REmove the first 'Did he even know?'

Bruce Banner nods, obviously oblivious to what had just happened. "I…don't know how to get in touch with Reed, but I know you do. If you want, I'll…I'll come along," he says. He's never let anybody else really examine him, not trusting anyone else not to just make things worse. But Reed was Reed. Even Bruce had to admit that Reed was probably smarter than him - much as he might be loathe to admit it.

Deep inside, that other self just chortles a bit, but listens. He's always listening.

"Bruce.." Melody murmurs in between his words. "Okay but Bruce.." Her hand reaches up to grasp his shoulder tightly, possibly tighter than she's ever held someone. "You.. you don't know what you said?" She couldn't believe it. She leans back within her chair, her skin still glowing brightly, her gaze turning away from him to allow the picture to come to light.

Her eyes project a scene, him sitting there.. his face and voice changing as he rips bout.. stretchy Reed and what he does with his stuff. With a hiss, she closes her eyes, rubbing her eyeballs with the pads of her fingers. "Maybe we should find a psychologist too because you got some bipolar shit going on there.."

Bruce Banner narrows his eyes, "What do you mean? Said what?" he says. He's confused, that brief moment of his other self rising up like a blink of an eye to him, as if no time had passed. When the playback is displayed, he stares, flummoxed, "I…what…I don't understand, I…that's…". He presses the heels of his hands to his temples, bending forward on himself, "I don't remember."

"I…I'm not very comfortable with…psychiatrists. I saw a lot of them after…" he says, and there's another twitch, but he doesn't fully shift this time, "After my father killed my mother. Lots of time sitting in offices, being asked how I felt. As if that was a mystery."

Melody frowns. He doesn't remember.

"You mean, you don't remember saying ANY of that?" She was bothered, perhaps by this whole thing. She never really saw Bruce unsure of himself, so helpless. Even then, he always kept his emotions in check and never let any of it bother him. This was different. He was even stammering.

"Yeah, I get that about your father but.." She places her hands upon the table. "This is a whole new brand of crazy. If you don't remember saying that then I think after we talk to Mr. Richards you.. probably should maybe ask if he knows someone that can help you. I know pills or any other of that stuff wouldn't work but perhaps talking about it? What wrong could that be?" She pauses a second, then throws her hands up.

"Well.. you are talking to me.. you can continue to talk to me.. alls I gotta do is research how.."

Bruce Banner shudders for a minute, pulling at his hair, "You don't understand, it's…I've always been wrong…messed up. I tried to hold it together for so long, I tried. Don't feel anything, don't let it show. Nod and agree and play nice…and then the Hulk came and I thought that was everything…

There's a twitch for a moment and he sits and straightens up. The look on his face is different. Smug. Eyes narrowed. He lights a fresh cigarette and flops back on the couch, "Jesus, fuck, that pussy is annoying. There won't be no pills and there won't be no Richards, least while I'm in the driver's seat. Maybe Banner can get his chickenshit ass over there to sniff at Richard's rubberized sphincter, but I ain't got no interest. I do the fixin', I ain't never need bein' fixed," he says.

"Nice to meetcha, sugartits. My name's Joe," he says. "An' I do remember."

Melody looked sad for a moment. Hell, there were almost tears. Almost. She could feel herself getting there. Wanting to hold and coddle and tell him it'll be okay, take him out for breakfast and send him packing happy and full of a good hot meal that she didn't cook..

But then the tables turn, which leaves her all the more.. flummoxed, to say the least. She stammers a moment, her hand lifting.. dropping down again, lifting once more then settling to rest it upon her cheek to rub harshly. She.. what the hell..

"Uh.. hi?" If he remembers.. "You.. okay. Uh.. Joe.. I don't want to talk to you right now. Think you can bring Bruce back? We were in the middle of something important.." She speaks this slowly, pronouncing every word. "So… if you could make that happen, that'll be greaaaaat.."

Joe shrugs, "I mean, I could, but why? Seriously, what do you even see in that nerdy little pissant? Wah wah, people get hurt 'cause of the Hulk, boo fucking hoo. Meanwhile, you've got Green Genes down in there going "Me Angry" like the fucking Cookie Monster," he says, shoving up off the couch. He heads towards the kitchen, pulling open her fridge.

"You got anything to eat? Cold pizza, maybe some Chinese. I'm fuckin' starvin'," he says, taking a drag on a fresh cigarette. "Just not salad shit, I ain't no rabbit," he says. Realizing she's being quiet, he leans back and looks back over at Melody, 'You followin' me so far, toots?"

Yeah. Real quiet. Melody just sat there, her hand rubbing at the back of her neck, giving Banner a weird look and just.. lets out a sigh. Of course she didn't have anything to eat. Most of her meals were had on the Resolve or.. elsewhere. Pancake house or some side corner restaurant with some new fangled dish that needed to be had at that moment.

"Yeah.." She murmurs to the last part. "I'm following you."

"And really, I kind of like the green angry dude and the pussy nerd over you right now. Can I talk to either one of them? I don't know how this thing is supposed to work but.. seriously. Let one of them out."

Joe sighs and rolls his eyes, "Fine, fine, go ahead, have your nerd back. I'm still resting up from last night. Make the fucker eat something, though, for god's sake," he says. He comes back in and slumps onto the couch, a quick quiver running through him and a gasp before he opens his eyes again.

"What…what?" Bruce says, feeling fogged and drowsy. He couldn't perceive what Joe was doing, what he was saying, he just knows that he was suddenly lost, fugued, empty…almost frozen. "I…Melody, I don't know what's happening to me…"

At least the training from Deathstroke worked. She was persistent! She didn't give in! She didn't even cry or freak out, not in the slightest! And.. now she was thinking that it was a damn good thing that he wasn't with the Authority. Maybe he would have killed them all. By accident.

She shakes those thoughts loose as Bruce finally sits and 'comes to', her steps careful towards him, crouching down upon the ground which causes her toes to tense just a little. She looked stern, her gaze nearly vacant, her eyes suddenly refocusing upon him as she puts on a reassuring smile. "It's okay. We'll figure it out. You just get some rest and I'll go get us some dinner. Guess you're saying with me for another night, eh?" There was a thought.. maybe Reed would make a house call. She just had to find the number to the Baxter building without bringing herself online fully again…

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