Changing for the Better

June 07, 2018:

Betsy and Banner meet again, with less stress.


NPCs: None.



Mood Music: [*\# None.]

Fade In…

Dr. Banner has been relatively scarce through the weekend. Truth being, he left to do some business with SHIELD. But this Monday, as a school day, saw him back at the school to teach. He was up late, though, having difficulty sleeping, and has found his way back outside, even in the bleak hours just past midnight, taking a walk. He's warm in his jacket, hands deep into the pockets, fearless in the woods. And not exactly quiet: Bruce is no ninja.

Betsy -is-, in fact, a ninja. But this time she isn't even stalking Bruce when she hears him rumbling through the woods like a herd of…Bruces. In fact, she is just out for a late night run to clear her head (good luck with that). An immediate scan of the area comes up with only one psychic signature. "Bruce??" She sounds genuinely surprised.

The leaves and grass crunching underfoot stop, since Bruce halts, unsure who is calling to him at first. It's dark, and he doesn't have any type of superior vision or senses. In fact, most of his time is spent being entirely normal in terms of powers or abilities. "Yes?" Bruce calls back, listening better this time to orient towards where the voice is coming from, and perhaps to identify it now that he's less in his own world mentally.

"It's Betsy," she replies, hastily adding, "I swear I'm not stalking you this time!" This time? As opposed to all the other times when she might have been stalking him? <Brilliant, Bets…> Oh…that went to him too. She sighs and rakes her fingers through her hair, now utterly flustered
Bruce figures out where her voice is coming from, but it's dark, so he can't really see well. He fishes his phone out, considering using it as a flashlight— but no, that'd just burn out their night vision probably; he decides instead to just move to an area towards the lake out of the trees where he's clearly visible. And mentally does try to send a little amused: <I'm used to it>. It's not really a joke, but he means it somewhat as a joke.

"You're used to being stalked? Or used to my errant thoughts just flying around all willy-nilly?" Betsy breathes a laugh, panting lightly from her run as she closes in to stand facing him. Here in the clearing, at least the moonlight affords them the ability to see each other. "You're out late. Everything all right?"

"Yes. It's just a nice night," Bruce says, gently, though she may not fully see his smile in the dark, it's still a 'tone' on his return thought. <To being stalked> Bruce mentally clarifies. He is all right, to some degree, but he's rarely actually fully 'right'. There's always that little angry thing under everything, or at the least, some anxiety that it will reappear. "Jogging? Don't let me disrupt your exercise."

"It's no interruption. I just needed to clear my head. Guess you sort of know how that goes. Do people usually stalk you?" Blunt and right out there. The only way her mind works. "Do I need to bust some kneecaps for you?" She senses his smile and it makes her smile to know he is more at ease.
"This is a good spot for head clearing," Bruce chuckles softly. "Though the library isn't bad either, particularly at this time of night. I'd imagine that's where I'll end up when it's winter, if I'm still around here then." He quiets at her question, sorting out the best way to answer. "A few months ago I was being followed around a great deal. It is what led me to stay with SHIELD for a time. I was nearly kidnapped off the street at one point. Some other heroes helped protect me. I don't think they're interested in coming around here, at least."

Betsy's eyes darken a bit at his answer. She's hopeful that he can't read the change in her expression, but even her voice takes on more of an edge as she speaks. "Well, I'm glad that they were there to help protect you. I hope you know that I would do the same, and will, should the unfortunate opportunity present itself."

"Some of us are interesting to some… less than awesome people," Bruce sighs. "I'm not sure what exactly they wanted me for - me, or the big guy, but neither was a good direction for me, I'm certain," Bruce chuckles ruefully. "One big bad day." A smile follows. "If you're done jogging, would you like to walk with me?" Bruce asks, somewhat shy, gesturing with an elbow towards the path near the lake.

"Absolutely! It's so beautiful tonight, I wouldn't dream of being anywhere else." <Maybe that was too enthusiastic.> <Maybe.> From somewhere in the hollow to their right, an owl calls out, and is answered by another, farther on, as she follows Bruce's lead toward the path. "Bet you make less noise on the path…"
"I was being noisy?" Bruce asks, actually surprised. He didn't realize, really. "This is my quiet side," Bruce teases with a little nudge towards her with that same elbow, before starting to walk slowly. He isn't in a hurry, turning his head some towards the owl, and a soft smile. He likes the animals.

"You weren't any noisier than anyone else, I guess," Betsy replies with a sheepish smile. "I strive for silence when I run. It helps me hear what's around me. But I think if someone WAS out here stalking you, they'd have had no trouble finding you. Not that I was stalking you, because I DEFINITELY was not."

"I also wasn't /trying/ to be quiet," Bruce points out, lifting his shoulders some, despite still leaving hands away in his pockets. "I don't really see a reason. Besides, hopefully others around here know not to run at me to startle me." He chuckles at her, "Like you did, calling out. Much better than spooking me."

"Wouldn't want to get on your bad side. Honestly, I wasn't even sure who was out here, except I got a few vibes that pinged off your mind. Keeping in mind everyone who's around here, it's always better to announce oneself in dark situations. Otherwise it could end very badly for all involved." She pauses then, looking out over the lake, at the way the moonlight rides the little ripples all the way to the shore, where the ripples lick and lap at the dark clay. "It really is beautiful out here at night," she says wistfully.

Bruce sneaks a sideways look to her. "Yeah, I think so," Bruce agrees, then following her eye direction out to the shore itself and the movement of moonlight on the water. "I'm sorry I was agitated the other day," Bruce begins, as if apologies were just something that comes naturally to him these days. Always something to be sorry for.

"Don't be sorry, Bruce. I was pushing too hard. I felt your struggle and I wanted to help. But sometimes there's nothing that I can do to help, and that just makes me push harder. I shouldn't have been so insistent. And…well I should have found words instead of pushing that image on you. I was just so desperate to get you to stop, and know that I didn't WANT to walk away…"

"I mean, I thought about it after. This weekend." Bruce pauses. "I didn't think about the weekend, more like I thought about the image this weekend." That was lame, Bruce. So lame. He draws a hand out of his pocket to rub his eyes some, dismayed at himself. For a smart guy he sure doesn't have the best social instincts of what to say. "I can't really afford to do something like that."

Betsy nods quickly, looking back out over the lake. "Of course, I understand. Completely. I mean, you have plenty on your plate, and you don't need some -woman- knocking things out of balance. I didn't expect you to entertain the idea, it was just the thought that was in my head at the time, and I certainly don't act on every thought I have, otherwise I'd have a pink motorcycle and a poodle." She exhales slowly, realizing that she's rambling. "I meant what I said, Bruce. I'll help you, if you'll let me. No caveats. I don't ask for anything. Just maybe to help you, if you can use it.

Bruce goes silent at her explanation, nodding his head simply, also looking towards the lake. She diffused his own awkwardness some with just talking. He isn't sure entirely how to reply, or why exactly he's blocking help so much. The usual reason is to try to protect others from himself. Better to suffer alone and quietly.

"I'm gonna break through that wall one of these days," Betsy states matter-of-factly. "And once you let me help you, well…then you'll wonder what you ever did without me. And why you waited so long to let me knock it down. Maybe THEN you'll reconsider that kiss." She smirks playfully, nudging him with her elbow.

Bruce actually laughs. It isn't embarrassed, more of a shy reception to that. And then the sadness edges in. "The wall is up for a reason," Bruce reminds her. "And while I appreciate the sentiment — ah, about helping me — I hope you won't dishearten if it fails."

"Aw…Bruce." Betsy turns to face him, her expression earnest and sincere as she looks into his eyes. "You say that like there's any chance it could fail. You don't know me well enough yet to know that I -never- fail. If we have to try it a dozen different ways, it's a learning process that leads to the one that works." She smiles and links her arm in his. "This is going to be SO MUCH FUN."

Bruce tightens up, she'll sense it from the linked arm. It isn't the linking of arm, he was reacting more towards the suggestion of a dozen failures. "The—- problem is that mistakes with, uh, this, are really dangerous. I can't afford to be wrong with a particular test. It could mean lives. I have to take this seriously," Bruce says, a dismay in his eyes as he looks back to her.

"Bruce," Betsy begins calmly, "I promise you. I promise. No one will get hurt. I know it's hard for you to trust me with that, but trust me with that. I don't fail. And I won't let -you- fail. You're going to take control of this, and find a more normal life. So for now…breathe." Her violet gaze is set on his in the moonlight, intently and confidently, as she shares the strength of her conviction with him. Not in an attempt to change his own thoughts or emotions, but to show him how certain she is that this -is- the right way.
Bruce turns some to weigh her, his expression more cloudy than the night's nearly clear sky. His brows lower just a little, a worried tension in them. His disbelief and his history of causing damage is too strong. If she peeked in his head she'd see a flurry of images of learning about the suffering his alter ego caused, something he just has no ability to stop. The apologies that fall on people that have lost so much to the destructive angry force. "How can you know that?" Bruce asks quietly.

Betsy's smile tugs gently at the curve of her lips, and she looks reassuringly into his eyes with the slightest of nods. "I think that's the one thing you actually DO have to trust me with. Because my determination is fierce. But I'm using my heart to do this, and that is the strongest part of me.
"Earlier this year, I thought I'd really had something together. I'd kept things in control for about a year or more. I'd figured it out. I was wrong then," Bruce says. "I'm not against trying to make this easier to live with. I'm really not. I just don't have much faith anymore."

"Bruce…that's because you were trying to do it all by yourself. Things are going to change. Drastically. And always, ALWAYS for the better."

"I don't /always/ work alone," Bruce teases her mildly. "Sometimes I've had Tony Stark shooting rockets down the hallway at me by accident." Bruce chuckles softly, his expression distant for a moment but kind enough. His wild friend was, and remains, something of a safety hazard.

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