Poor Doctor Banner

March 14, 2018:

After bringing Doctor Banner back from THE HULK, Natasha goes to see him to help him come back to reality and give him peace of mind.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

The panic is just on the edges, it doesn't just go away. Suppresed, like so many other things have to be. Denial. Banner is familiar with lots of those techniques. It is really difficult for him to just say nothing, though, to breathe, and allow himself to be led away from the hangar playpen. He understands why, though. Why he has to have some water. And breathe. But the questions are slamming to the front and he can't hold back forever.

"What attached to me?" Blurted, finally.

Banner was now seated on a sofa in what is affectionately referred to as a 'Pilot's Lounge' off of the hangar. Its basically a room with concrete floors that have a few rugs tossed down and some sofas / chairs resting ontop of them, there's kitchen area and a ping-pong and pool table.

After he'd had a chance to get cleaned up, he was ushered into here to relax for a bit. Natasha was in here when he arrived and she was standing in front of the refrigerator… retrieving a couple of drinks and carrying them toward where Bruce is seated now. "Here." She says softly, giving him a fresh bottle of water and herself a red/white can of Coca Cola.

Nat sits down across from him, her black leather jacket being adjusted some around her waist with one hand while her other opens the can of soda against the coffee table in front of her. "It was a Red Lantern Ring." She replies to him in a soft voice. "The Justice League has been fighting off a Red Lantern invasion for the better part of the past six months. The rings are fueled by emotion, the red ones? Rage." Nat sips from the can of soda and then sets it down ontop of her left knee. "You were a… deep fountain of rage for it to pull from."

Bruce listens, accepting the water and slowly removing the cap with the soft little crack sound of breaking the plastic seal. The only sound for that moment. It's so quiet now, it will seem, without the constant thundering in the hangar, the roars, the metal being crunched and concrete slammed. Their big occupant has left. Or, well. Is napping.

"It's …very confusing. To be in a coffee shop one minute, an alien thing trying to eat my hand, and suddenly… here. I'm missing the whole 'between'," Banner explains, embarrassed. "How'd you get it away from Hulk, the Lantern Ring?" he asks.

"Its probably for the best." Natasha says back to him after hearing him speak of missing the 'between' aspects of what he just went through. "We have it on video… Most of it at least, but its also probably for the best that you don't look at it." Her fingers on her left hand gently turn the 99% full can of cold soda around slowly ontop of her knee while she stares at him.

"I asked for the ring back." She told him then. "I told him that it was tricking him into doing its bidding and that if he allowed it to do so, he'd be allowing the evil ring to beat him." And for a little moment Natasha's lips move into a left-sided smirk. "He's not a fan of losing fights, so that seemed to convince him the ring needed to go."

And with that said, she takes another tiny little sip of the soda, the caffeine was kind of a treat for her now and then.

"The last thing I clearly remember, was yelling at these poor strangers to cut it off of me. Because I felt the mind of the thing. The awareness. It's sort of a heartbeat of pressure, like a migraine. An emotion that's just climbing into your throat when you're trying to stay calm. All of that. And the sheer hatred of the thing. I fought, but evidently lost," Bruce says, lifting one hand to rub his eyes and eyebrows: the motion also hides behind his hand a little bit, avoidant.

"I will probably have to watch the videos. It's my responsibility, too." Heavy burden. This thing he tries to control.

"And, good. I'm glad that didn't go the opposite way, if he realized keeping it kept him in control. For obvious reasons." A softened laugh.

Natasha sets the can of coke down on the end table beside the sofa she's seated on across from him and then she sits up a little higher on the old sofa that has worn-out springs in its foundation. "Obviously you can find the video on your own terms when you want to, its rather popular on Youtube right now for instance…" She says that last part with a bit of grimness.

"You're back now, Doctor, so thats what matters. And really what you should be looking to do is relax and not worry about that sort of thing. Those of us in position to know the situation know that what happens when you're in that… state, is not your doing. Those of us of sound mind can look at the evidence and see that you're unable to stop it… And we're the ones who're trying to help you through it."

The flinch is as if she'd smashed him with the information physically, he shuts his eyes. And rubs his fingers up against the sides of his cheeks again, into eyes. It's hellishly heavy, and he doesn't quite know what to do with it. He never really has. It's worse lately, though naturally she has nothing to compare it to, having only recently met him and his unusual case.

"Yes. Logically I know." He smiles a little bit. She's smart to approach him that way. And his own intellect is not an asset here, because he can sense he's being handled, to a degree. Which isn't wrong: and he can choose not to fight it. Still.

"I really hate inflicting this on anyone. The only control I have is to work towards better prevention. But preventing it seems to cause bigger issues when it does surface. There isn't a best case scenario that I can see."

"I would say that the best case scenario is that the Green Guy doesn't ever take over the Doctor again." Natasha softly respond to him, then shows him another sly smirk indicating that she's just teasing him a little… that she has a sense of humor, albeit a dry one. With a slight exhale then, Natasha crosses her legs at the knee, left over right. "We want to help you accomplish what you need to make sure that you don't have anymore of these episodes. Mostly for the collateral damage reasons, but also because we know that you… Bruce Banner… are an asset to humanity. Your intellectand the skills you've piled up upon itare something this world needs to be a better place."

The agent tilts her head gently toward her right shoulder then as her green eyes remain on his face. "So what do we need to do to help you stay the cool, calm, collected… Doctor? A lifetime of solitude on a Hawaiian beach front property? Lord knows thats what I want, but they're not as quick to give me that." And then she grins a little again. "I guess I'm not as needed…"

Bruce's honest laugh is warm, to her dry humor. He's genuine, with an honesty to all most of his reactions and responses. He is reserved, sure, but open with positive things. Emotionally driven, and aware, though his own emotions have never been something he has mastery of controlling fully. If he did, Hulk wouldn't be what it is. "I do often go out into the middle of nowhere by myself. I feel like I probably should, again. I had had a full year of no episodes, and I felt maybe I'd gotten somewhere. And I wanted, I was helping with projects, to save lives. With Stark, and SHIELD. But where is the balance here: with the safety risk I pose, to what I can do to help? It's a balancing act." A pause. Speaking of balance.

"Hulk's closer to the surface than he's ever been. It's hard to explain. But I feel like I'm walking on a curb, which seems easy enough to balance on: it's not a tightrope, it's nice and wide, before suddenly it isn't as smooth as I thought, and there's the street right there." Bruce drinks about a third of the water in one go.

"I haven't ever done it, but I think I could just - step into the street, if I chose. I don't know what version of the big guy that would summon, since it's usually reactionary. I don't know. In a way I fear it would be worse, just being less predictable or familiar. Can always count on the hulk to just- smash."

A flush explodes. "Sorry, I'm rambling. Must be the built up words over however long I was out." A smile.

There's a part of Natasha that greatly empathizes with the Doctor, though her 'secrets' aren't all out on the table here this afternoon so its harder for her to bring them up and out into conversation with a man she doesn't know all that well. "I'm sorry you have to walk on that edge, Doctor." She says to him, her voice is filled with a very sincere sounding tone when she says those words too.

"And you're more than welcome to ramble to me." She continues, drawing in a breath between her lips. "I'm not a psychologist but I am a person who's done a fair share of things that she's not proud of in her life, things that make me lose sleep when they creep back into my thoughts at night."

Natasha shakes her head gently once then. "I need to ask you another question though…" She lingers her gaze on him for a second. "Why were you meeting with Scott Summers at that cafe in Mutant town? Mutant town is a dangerous place and Scott Summers is a mutant that a lot of trouble follows after. You were… setting yourself up for an, episode, with the Mean Green."

Oh. That. "I… have a hard time saying 'no'," Bruce admits, and then laughs suddenly. "To things that I do want to do," he amends. He taps his fingers slowly on the bottle. "He asked for a meeting, and while I didn't like the spot, I didn't have a better suggestion. I thought he wanted consultation on a biological issue, which I'm more than happy to give. But it turned out to be more of a, ah, recruitment. I think they'd like me to teach, and be on hand. Used to helping and working with 'people dealing with mutations' they said, but. I'm certain they didn't foresee the, um, severity."

A depth of sorrow lances in, and he swallows the tightness in his throat. "I don't know that I can accept the, um, offer, as I'd pose a danger to those in their school. But I suspect I had the worst interview in the history of all interviews by turning right in front of them," a sudden self-deprecating laugh comes. "—-so I don't know that it's something I have a choice in the matter in anymore anyway. But that's why I was there."

While he explains things, Natasha just sits perfectly still across from him with her hands on top of her left thigh, fingers folded together between one another. When he finishes, she shows another faint smirk. "You might be surprised by that school." She says back. "They have a tendency to take in some rather… troubled… cases." But she shakes her head side to side once, dismissing that thought. "If they do return to you, Doctor, looking to bring you in for teaching classes, then might I suggest you take them up on the offer… under the condition that your classes be performed via Skype, while you're far away from their facility. Preferably in a floral pattern shirt and flip-flops on your feet." And with that said, she shows a more open grin at him.

"Doctor. I'm going to recommend that you stay close to SHIELD, in some capacity. I think we have the best facilities for you to do your work… and we need to be close to you incase another episode does occur. I feel its best for us, and its best for you."

"Skype, eh. I thought for a second you were trying very hard to get rid of me, and out of the city entirely," Bruce jokes, but it also isn't a joke. He does think people usually are trying to get him to leave. At least, that is always the pattern after the Hulk rips something up. He can only guess how bad this particular episode was. VERY bad, he is guessing. Flip flops on his feet bad.

"Well, I did leave off a reason I was staying with SHIELD. I was, mm, being stalked around, followed, and there was a kidnapping attempt. One time they sprayed me with something that didn't do anything to me, and they scattered. I don't know who the group is, and I don't exactly know what they want, but I think it has to do with me, not the big guy. I could be wrong. I wouldn't have stayed as long as I did without that factor in there as well. It seemed a little ludicrous to me, to try to irritate me, so I've stopped trying to guess what that is about."

Natasha shows him another little smirk at the first part of what he says, but its the second part that makes her head straighten and her mind focus more in on his situation. "Stalkers?" She asks. "Brucenappers?" This seems to displease her and her chin dips gently in a single nod toward him. "Then this is something that you're going to need to give us as much information as you can on, because an issue like that? Thats where I come in… I find the source of those people and I make them stop."

Nat's head shakes side to side again once. "Not everyone knows who you are when you're not in Rampage Mode, Doctor. Very few do, actually. So if there is a group that knows you are him and their whole sole purpose is to turn you in to him? Then they're a large priority that needs to be dealt with."

"Agent Barton was originally placed on the case, by Agent Coulson," Bruce explains, openly. "I gave what I knew about the subject at the time, but they have been dormant for a while. I am unsure where that ended up, and— honestly, I'm also unsure what DAY it is today." He pauses, and guesses, "—Sunday?" with some vague hope. It probably isn't Sunday, his expression knows, but, well. He can dream.

"Actually, one of the events happened just outside Stark Tower. I think there's about eighty cameras over in that area. Which worries me more than anything: like it wasn't about actually getting me. But something else. Maybe trying to get me out of the tower, to leave. It worked: I did leave."

"Its Wednesday." Natasha responds to him and her eyes glance over to the wall where there's a good old fashioned clock. "Just a little after five in the evening now." She knows how uncomfortable it is when she's woken up from one of her wild missions and not known what day or hour it was, people were conditioned to rely on that since they're creatures of habits. "What would you like for dinner, Doctor?" She asks him then. "I can place a call and have it brought here. We'll need to get you someplace later tonight though, a place you're comfortable going to."

The Agent's legs uncross and she sits forward on the edge of the sofa. "I'll dig up the camera footage from that day, I'm sure that in Stark's systems its already flagged and filed so it shouldn't be hard to pull up. Perhaps I'll be able to find something on it that will give me something to work with. Agent Barton has fallen busy on more pending issues unrelated to you or to the Hulk."

Bruce isn't upset about the tangent of work for Agent Bardon. He gets priorities fine. He rolls with it with an understanding shrug. Much of the time he bends over backwards to please. The alternative is getting angry or annoyed, really. So there's some habit here, to give way, often. He's more upset over the 'Wednesday' thing. He tries not to scowl, but some of it leaks out. At least it isn't green.

"I expect I'll be taken wherever is easiest to keep an eye on me for a few days. I know how this works," Bruce says, without judgement. Hulk brings him some time of being stared at fearfully. It's normal. It's life.

"If I were to vote, either Stark Tower or my SHIELD lab are fine and stable." He considers the dinner offer. "Would you like, say, Mexican?" Bruce says, in a tentative way.

Natasha would certainly understand the frustration of finding out that the agent assigned to your kidnappers/antagonizers case had been unceremoniously removed from your case without telling you… but thats the nature of this job, its hectic and unpredictable and the slim number of qualified 'pieces' get moved across the game-board to unpredictable places all the time.

She shows a faint smile at his question about Mexican and she hadn't intended on eating -with- him, but if he took it that way then she'd accept it and not counter it. Nat's pointed chin nods once to him. "I'll make that happen, let me get a menu and I'll have something brought over within the hour."

The redheaded Agent would move to rise up to her feet. "I'll see to it you go to your lab at the SHIELD facility as well. Since you were attacked at Stark Tower, I find that to be a security risk for the time being. At least until after I've reviewed the tapes of what happened that day. If that sounds alright?" She asks him then, raising a dark eyebrow up over her left while staring at him from her full imposing height of 5'3".

Bruce has mostly collapsed inward emotionally, she could be 3' and still find she could look down on him at this point. It is such an entirely opposite change from the unabashed space the Hulk occupied. "Yes, that would be fine, Agent," Bruce says, with some extent of relief. Being told how things are going to be is part of the routine. Although, well, there is a sense that he's agreeing, and is aware he doesn't HAVE to. He could step off the curb, or do a vanishing act. He has done it lots of times before. But it's better for everyone to just stay in line now. Until he decides it isn't best for everyone.

Natasha is an expert at seeing the mental condition that people are in, she's studied people for a very long time (longer than she'd like to ever admit) and she can see the inner turmoil in him, its rightly there since his actions inadvertently got him here, but its sadly there at the same time. She feels bad for him.

And because of that, Natasha steps over to him, right next to him and she looks down at him from that high altitude of hers (joking!). "Natasha." She says to him, extending her right hand. "You can call me Natasha. I know it seems like SHIELD is a cold organism that doesn't 'care' about the singular person, so much as it does the 'greater good', but I assure you… we do care. I'm here to help you. IF you'll let me."

"You got the big guy to stop destroying things, and I got to have a Wendesday. I'm in YOUR debt already-Natasha," Bruce says, carefully with the name, as if cautious about saying it. He doesn't really meet her eyes. There's a sense she can read off him of retreating from the connection. Either shyness, or guilt? Or a broiling mixture of all of the above. And awareness he's a dangerous thing she's assigned to keep tabs on. Hard to not see all of that.

"Really, thank you. SHIELD has been straight with me lately, I appreciate it."

Another little grin is shown down to the man after he says these things to her. "Not everyone in SHIELD Is as caring as I am." She tells him then before she turns around and starts to walk back toward the kitchen area where there is a glass door with dark tinting over it that leads to the outside. "I'm one of SHIELD's nicer agents." And then she glances back over her shoulder at him. "Until someone makes me not nice."

And with that said she moves toward the door and pushes it open. "Get your Hulk hunger on, Doctor Banner. I'll have some good eats here for us both in just a few minutes."

END

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