Angry Awkward

June 04, 2018:

Betsy sees an angry Banner and tries to help him.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

Dr. Banner isn't really dressed to go out hiking around in the woodland areas that surround the school, or even really to be out at the lake. But he's headed out there all the same, with a dark cloud of emotional instability over his head as he carries some invisible but extremely heavy chip on his shoulder out towards the lakeside. It is late afternoon, the June sun is warm still: a radiance to it over the surface of the lake. Banner's out there without his usual bag or anything else, just his usual 'drop everything and take a walk' thing that he does now and then. There's a level of emergency to it, while his emotions bubble and fester.

Bruce slows near the east bank, talking to himself a little, in a soft undertone, ignoring the area around him: in fact he rubs across his eyes and eyebrows with one hand, as if he could pinch the difficulty down if he's just not looking at it.

The emotional turmoil is hard to ignore as Betsy sees Bruce striding past and heading for the lake. She takes the last bite of her granola bar and tosses the wrapper in a nearby receptacle, rising and following him curiously, but at a distance at first. She is in a neatly-tailored plum blazer dress and matching heels, but the shoes don't seem to slow her down. She gains on him as he pauses, and she slows.

"Everything all right?" she asks softly as she approaches the man talking to himself.

Dr. Banner was in his own little world, very clearly. He jumps a little and whirls around as she speaks up. He manages not to make a fool of himself otherwise, doesn't trip on anything or fumble too badly, which are great. He still has his glasses on, and he squints at her a moment as if puzzled or unsure exactly who she was. It is a piece of him just being buried in his own problems.
"I —- hello. Ms. Braddock. I…. sure," Bruce decides to say, with a deep release of breath, summoning a smile that isn't going to win any confidence contests. He's a terrible liar. It's not okay, but he wants her to think better of him than that.

"Bruce," she begins softly. "I can't help feeling what you are…I wish I could say otherwise. I keep my mind to myself, but what you're feeling is so strong, it just….sort of radiates," she explains in her unique lilted accent. "I know everything isn't okay. But it is okay to admit that." She steps closer to face him, tilting her head, those violet eyes searching his, possibly invading his bubble. "Would you like to talk about it?"

The possibility of intrusion hasn't even crossed her mind. He isn't the only one lacking in social skills.

Bruce isn't embarrassed or shy at the moment, at least not yet, because his other emotions are still king over anything else. So he isn't flushing red or pulling away. He presses his eyes shut for a long moment, rubbing his eyebrows again, above the level of his glasses, and then finally just takes them off and looks down at them. Something to fiddle or stare at that isn't her or just the landscape. He pulls part of his shirt up to clean them, even if they didn't need it, rubbing in a slow circle on one of the lenses.

"There isn't much to say. Minor things blow up into major things, for no reason, sometimes. Just… something that happens, when I've been doing well," Bruce explains. There's no lie there, but a frustration level, yes.

"Can I help?" Betsy asks, reaching out to rub his shoulder slowly. "You need to calm these thoughts, yes? You don't have to face it alone. And you don't have to hide it. It is a part of who you are." She tries to be reassuring, but there is a modicum of helplessness in her voice. She isn't used to feeling helpless. It isn't her style. Maybe they're both out of their comfort zone here.

Dr. Banner is flinchy. He flinches from her reaching out to him, but then immediately looks guilty about doing so. "I—- no, it's safer if I do go it alone. If I get worked up further, I endanger others. That's not something I want to have be part of who I am — dragging anyone else in." He gives her a tense smile though.

"I don't know. I want to come up with something, some way to vent the tension off, or keep some control to come back /from/ it, because knowing it just takes over —" He's helpless too.

"Meditation? Physical exertion?" Betsy asks, trying to come up with ideas to help. She lowers her hand to his, when he finches away, and she gives his hand a squeeze, even if he will probably pull it away immediately. "Hey, I'm here if it's exertion you need," she smiles, then quickly realizes what she said. "I mean, working up a sweat. Er…" She fumbles with words, and swears, using a word that sounds Japanese under her breath.

Bruce already did his flinch, so he doesn't pull away immediately. He's uncomfortable, though, and fidgets some. He failed to drive her away. But there's an angry voice of anxiety gnawing in the back of his head. It says he should drive her away, for her own good. He's not able to be helped, and he'll end up dragging her under. But to some extent, that's the Other Guy trying to surface. He swallows, a mix of upset thoughts and feelings. "I don't — you should go. I'm too unstable now." Another warning, and honest.

Betsy shakes her head slowly. "That's not how I work. I'm not afraid, Bruce. And I'm not going anywhere." She senses his comfort level and releases his hand, but she doesn't back away. "I'm here. I'm already involved. Don't you realize how it would make me feel to fail you now? I care—" she tries to filter her thoughts from her words, so as not to make him more uncomfortable. "I'm here. But it's up to you to let me in, if you'll allow me there." A pause. "If you want me there."

Bruce gets irritated with her for no good reason, other than that he feels like she isn't /listening/, doesn't /know/. His warning was realistic - he IS unstable. He can sense when he's going to blow. He has had a lot of practice over the years of knowing what he feels like right before he stops being able to remember much. His anger sometimes has as much logic as a petulant teen.
"Fear is realistic. /I'm/ afraid. For others," Bruce says, trying to clamp down on his irritation: he can recognize it's not reasonable.

Betsy's voice is becoming more stern, as she replies, trying to gentle the tone as much as she can, as she explains herself. "I know there's danger. I know that you're afraid for others. But I know that you cannot do this alone, and if there is ever to come a moment of intervention that will change the whole game, it will be at the behest of another. If you could learn to control this alone, Bruce, don't you think you would have by now? I am here. I have put myself here. I can handle whatever danger is involved. Others may not. I am not afraid, but they WOULD BE. Better to have someone by your side to help. Help control it. Help YOU control it." Her tone is urgent but not angry. And unmoveable.

"Why /aren't/ you afraid?" Bruce asks, with a frustrated annoyance reading in his tone. As if she weren't reacting like he expects. Which, well, she's not. She must just not get how severe his problem really is. "I've —- I've had people talk him down before. It's never a sure thing. Helpers sometimes work. I know that." He's partially trying to remind himself, too. "I've also flung a helper through a wall, I'm told. I don't want that."

"Maybe I'm not wired the same way as others," Betsy replies with an offhanded shrug. "It's not your fault. You're doing everything you can to drive me away, and keep me at arms' length. I don't have to simply talk him down. I have other tools in my arsenal. I don't even have to be close. You know this. Please, Bruce," Betsy pleads. "Please let me stay with you. Let me be your constant…"

"I'm not doing /everything/," Bruce assures her in a dark, mutinous way. But he tries to stop being so challenging. He drops his gaze back to his glasses, and slowly folds the ear pieces in, and deposits them into the pocket of his button up shirt. Some breeze filters through, and he tries to focus on the sense of it ruffling through his hair and across the collar of his shirt. Don't get drawn into just being emotionally explosive. "I'm sorry."

"You don't have to be sorry, Bruce," Betsy encourages. She turns her gaze out on the gold glinting off the water. "Maybe I just don't want you feeling alone. Any more than I want to feel alone. Don't be sorry. Just try and understand…"

"It's just the way it is," Bruce answers, his voice a little lower in volume. He's trying to tame back down on his explosiveness, to ease back from that line. "And I know that my apologies for the things that happen… really don't begin to cover it."

Betsy nods quietly and steps back half a step. "As you wish then, Bruce. I won't push your boundaries. I will never push you for anything that you don't want. But I do want to be here. And I won't stop trying…I dont want to be outside…"

Does the man really know what he wants? To some degree. Things he wants, and doesn't get to have. Friendship is still sort of a thing that's wanted, but also needs to be kept at bay. He 'should' be a hermit out in the middle of nowhere, yet he's at the school teaching. Around the people he wants to be near. Even if he 'knows better'.
So yes, Bruce is pushing her away hard. But still suffers when she steps back, he seems to deflate some. He had to push her away, but he doesn't /want/ to. "See you around, okay," Bruce suggests in a low voice, and makes himself start to walk towards the trees.

Betsy sees the look in his eyes when she steps back. If there is anyone more confused than he is about what he wants, it is Betsy.

She doesn't respond as she stands there abandoned her companion. Not aloud, anyway. Sometimes it'd be easier if she would just read his mind. But she respects him too much for that. Instead she imparts a thought - an image - to him as he leaves. The image of the two of them at sunset in this very spot, with the lake painted in all the hues of twilight. The two are entangled in an embrace, and a kiss that is hard-won. She doesn't need to respond aloud. A picture's worth a thousand words, after all.

Well, that derailed Bruce from his sad little moping escape. He stops, turns, and then looks at her, totally baffled. If she does decide to read his mind, it is really a big question mark! Belatedly, he blushes, heavily. Is she teasing him? It does strip some anger away, to be startled in this manner. Bruce really doesn't know how to react or what to say.

"Aww it takes is letting go of your fears, Bruce." Betsy approaches him slowly and reaches out a hand to him. "I won't read your mind, but I will show you mine." She smiles warmly at him, then, adding, "You're adorable when you blush."

"This doesn't —" Bruce begins. 'This doesn't happen to me usually' is where that train of words was heading, but he isn't sure he wants to actually say that, and cuts himself off. He blushes still, and pushes his palms together slowly, rubbing the back of one hand with the other. He looks at her hand. It isn't a lack of bravery with him, it's more this distance he seems required to try to hold. He may be incapable of reaching out to anyone. Years of solitude bred that. "Why did you show me that?" Bruce asks, instead.

"Because it was what I saw when I closed my eyes. How I could have seen our conversation ending, instead of you walking away." Betsy shrugs slightly and shakes her head. "I felt your pain when I approached, and your pain when I stepped away. And none of it was my intention. When words fail me, I just…share."

"Oh," Bruce says quietly, his awkwardness returning as the irritation from before takes something of a back seat. Not for long, really: he is a lonely man, but emotionally in trouble when he gets anxious. "We have just met, so I hadn't, ah. Thought of that." It's usually not on the table at all for Bruce.

"I wasn't asking for it, Bruce. I just…wanted you to know that I didn't want to step away. I didn't want to hurt you. I didn't want you to walk away. And I didn't know any of the right words to say because I am shite at communication."

"I know that… SHIELD thinks I should just stay alone and well away from everyone. Isolated. I mean, I've been advised on that. Just taking the danger out and away. Yet others that I consider my friends believe the opposite— like Tony— I mean, I know there's some selfishness there, with getting to pick my brain when he needs it, but I still think that he does like me around. I want to do some good, to try to balance the bad that comes with me." Banner's smart, and his social issues lend more to shyness and being repressed.
"I'm trying just to say, that even those with a lot of experience with my issue still get hit by it. Because there's just no control. I… do want to try to learn more about how to manage coming back from it. Because if there was SOME reliable way to handle it, I'd be… safer to be around. But my learning can't come at a price for anyone else."

Betsy smiles softly. "Sometimes the price comes with -not- learning. You know what I can do with your mind. What if I can do the same for his? Or what if I can still reach your mind when he is in control? We'll never know unless we try. I have ways you might never imagine, of evasion in confrontation. Not to mention the ability to know every move before it is made." She gazes intently at Bruce for a moment, letting him take that in. "There could be so many possibilities that you've never dreamt of. If you'll trust me." His trust issue is with himself. But she knows that he'll have to trust her to take care of herself, too.

"If he does come forward, though …. I have to ask that you be safe. Don't pull his attention if you can avoid it. I don't want anyone harmed." He pauses. "Puppies seem to work okay sometimes. Have a puppy on hand," Bruce says, deadpan, but quirks a little smile. "Just… I'm good on my own right now. Really. Another time," Bruce asks quietly, withdrawing, and starting to move away. He needs his space.

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