2019-06-14 - Thing, meet Hulk


Ben and Bruce meet at a market; a dark secret is revealed

Log Info:

Storyteller: None
Date: Fri Jun 14 04:54:41 2019
Location: Mott Street Market

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Bruce is tired. He was doing a part-time job down at the docks today, making a bit of money. Things were so much easier back when he could openly join a superteam and be paid. Or when he was able to have a normal job that actually used his training. But, life on the lamb is like that. Right now he's wandering through the market, stopping now and then to check out something that catches his eye. He's wearing his usual cheap suit. It's not even purple. He might stand out some in the Chinatown crowd, but not enough to really draw that much attention. Just another caucasian guy trying to buy some cheap seafood.

Ben Grimm has forced himself to go out. It's part of the usual pattern of behaviour fostered by Susan, his next-to-best friend. When he's alone, secluded, the darkness comes. So, heedful of her advice and gentle prodding, Ben has made his way out into the city. He still tries to maintain a low profile, in his trench coat, with his wide-brimmed hat on. Still, the three-fingered hands and massive, bare feet are dead giveaways. Any glimpse of his rocky orange skin is enough to tip off exactly who he is. His sheer size is also attention-grabbing. He is considering some produce when he glances over and sees, at a nearby stall, a familiar figure. He looks over and then trudges in that direction. "Bruce," he greets in his characteristic voice. "Hey… how you doin'?"

Hearing the familiar gravelly voice, Bruce straightens up some and turns towards the famed adventurer. He smiles a little at the sight and nods his head his way, "Ben. Nice to see you again. I'm doing alright. I hope the same can be said of you?" He offers his own currently small, not particularly impressive hand for a shake. There's more callusing there than when he was simply a scientist. Just like there's a bit more tone to him than there was in those days. But he's far from powerfully built. Definetly not intimidating in any way. He'll give a firm enough grip. Though it's probably questionable if the supertough man can even feel it. He glances around the market. "Looking for something special for dinner?"

Ben Grimm reaches forward to take the offered shake, his grip light but unyielding, with rock closing in on both side's of Bruce's hand for that moment, before the shake is done and the hand retrieved. "Yeah, you know, doin' okay. Yeah, I was thinkin' of maybe tryin' some flavours of the world one night." He shrugs his shoulders, vast and cartoonish as they are. "You?" he asks, with a faint nod toward the fishmonger's stall they find themselves at.

More normal shoulders raise and fall in return, and Bruce smiles. "Just seeing what deals there might be." He studies the face of his friend for a time then finally says, "Sooo. How have things been going with you and your pretty new tenant? You talked to her much?" He suspected the answer would be no. He had some familiarity with seeing oneself as a monster. It could make it hard to put yourself out there when it came to social interactions. Especially potentailly romantic ones. Since it didn't seem like something Ben would want to discuss much in the middle of a crowd, he turns and starts out of the market. Giving Mr. Grimm plenty of time to follow him if he wants. Not that there are many streets in New York that are empty at any time of the day.

Ben Grimm lifts a hand to scrape his palm along the back of his head. There is an uncomfortable grating sound. "Uh, I ran into her the other day," he offers, glancing off to the side but starting to follow alongside Bruce, content to meander amongst the stalls. "We checked out a movie at home last night. You know, no hanky-panky or nothin'. Just watched a movie." He glances aside toward Bruce once more, gauging how much to share, but there is a certain freedom in anonymity, so he confesses, "Was thinkin' about that flavours of the world thing so she could experience it. She's… uh… from someplace else." Obviously.

That makes one of the mans brows raise a little. "Oh yeah? Sounds like a fun time, hanky-panky or no. Glad that's working out for you." And he meant it too. It was nice to see that somebody else with a problem somewhat similar to his own could do well for himself. Hell. The Thing was way more publically liked than the Hulk ever was. Even when he was a superhero, people still were afraid of him. Sometimes his own teammates. It might have something to do with Ben not ever going on any destructive rampages. "She seemed like a very… enthusiastic sort of girl. I bet she'd love something like that. Lucky guy, having somebody like that right downstairs." He grins briefly over at the currently taller man.

Ben Grimm snorts slightly at that, though there is a curling of his lips - slightly, anyway, on his stiff and inhuman features. "She's a sweetheart, that's for sure," he agrees. "But… I mean, all the human interactions are real different for her. I'm not sure if getting on the same page about… you know… stuff, is even possibly in the cards, but…" He considers for a moment, looking aside for a moment. "Sometimes it's nice to have somebody new to watch a movie with. Suzie'll do it sometimes, but… it's different." He glances back over toward Bruce, considering him for a moment. "What's your story, though, Bruce? You're a tough guy to get a read on."

Bruce Banner nods his head. "Foreign interactions, you said? I mean. She seems like she's some sort of metahuman, sure. And I have the feeling english isn't her first language. But that doesn't mean she's not human." He reaches over, and pats him on an oversized shoulder. "Give it time. And if nothing else, making a new friend is always good, right?" As they make their way further from the market, Bruce habitually takes a side street with less traffic. There's one guy in the distance, and that's about it. The question makes the skinny scientist tense up slightly for a moment, then he shrugs again in an overly casual way. "Me? I'm nobody. Just a guy who's made a lot of mistakes and is trying to keep on living my life despite it. Nothing special."

"Oh no," comes Ben's reply. "She's from a different world. She told me a bit about it. But… yeah, you're right. New friend is great. Really… I dunno, just getting some female interest is weird, but you're right, I shouldn't over-think it." Another shrug heralds the end of what he has to say about that. Then, they are turning onto the less-frequented area and Bruce offers his deflection of the question. The Thing is silent for a long moment, then offers, "I dunno, Bruce. It sounds corny but everybody's special. Everybody's got their struggles." He pauses for another beat, then asks, "Anything I can lend you a hand with? Only fair, since you seem to be my life coach now."

Bruce blinks at the orange strongman a few times. "From a different world? So she's… an alien?" He processes that for a bit, staring into the distance. "That's interesting." He seems to believe him readily enough. Though this is a very weird town, so maybe that's not particularly odd. Finally he gives his head a shake. "I hope things work out all the same." And of course Ben doesn't let the comments about himself just go. He sighs and rubs at his nose. "I guess you're right. Though sometimes, you want to be a little more like other people." Which miiiight not be the most sensitive thing to say to a guy who looks like the Thing. But he's lost in thought and that slips by him. Finally he just shakes his head and smiles a little at him. "I appreciate it. Really. But I'll be fine." He pats the man on the shoulder again. "Still. I'll be sure to give the Baxter Building a ring if I ever do need anything."

Ben's nodding and shrugging was enough to allow a graceful end to the talk of Koriand'r. Ben's focus turns more fully on the man obviously maintaining an element of privacy. The comment about wanting to be more like other people just attracts an agreeable nod from Ben. To his mind, there is no competition. Plenty of people who seem like they might fit in, don't. The rocky hero just inclines his head at the gentle rejection of assistance. "All right, Bruce," he rumbles in that distinctive voice. "You might feel alone, but you're not," he offers. He can't do much to soften the tone of his voice, so he just drops the volume to give the same impression. "Don't stay in the fringes all the time, hey?" It is the pot-and-kettle of social advice.

The other man lets out a low sigh at that. "I'll try. But… it's safer there." He doesn't look like much of a threat, with his skinny build and a way of talking and moving that might remind him of some of the various brainiacs he's known over the years. So, it would be easy to assume that he means it's safer for him. He turns to consider the blue-eyed Thing for a few moments then says, "You're a good man, Ben. I'm glad I met you." In a way, the fact he doesn't seem either star-struck by Ben or even a little bit afraid of him, and hasn't been from the start, is possibly somewhat unusual. The fact he doesn't seem to want any help from the celebrity makes it seem like he's probably not one of the sort that tries to get close to famous people in hopes of leeching money off of them either. He turns away from him, starting around the next corner. "And you know, while I might not be a redhaired beauty built like a supermodel, but if you ever wanted to catch a movie sometime, I'd be up for tha-" Lost in the conversation, he hadn't been really paying attention to the sounds of the city around them. Hadn't registered that the car he could hear on that street seemed too loud for the speed limit. He goes around the corner just as what looks like a vintage muscle car swerves and jumps the curve. The drunken driver failing to keep control of it, and the ton or so of solid detroit steel slamming into the the scientist, sending him ragolling back across the street in a broken lump only to end up hitting a pile of old boxes in the mouth of an alley and being buried under cardboard. The car very briefly slows down after hitting him, then the driver hits the pedal when he realized what happenned and screeches away at top speed.

Ben had drifted along a little in Bruce's wake, the man seeming to be offering a farewell of sorts. The Thing remained in the mouth of the alley but only by a couple of feet when that proud domestic car roared past, thundering up onto the sidewalk to slam into Bruce and send the man flying. Ben has a choice to make and it's done on instinct. He doesn't go after the car, but rather races toward the crumpled figure beneath those boxes. Ben tosses cardboard aside in his bid to unearth the mild-mannered man he had just been speaking to. His eyes are wide, desperate. "Aw come on!" he encourages. "Shit… be okay, Bruce, be okay…" He tries to will the wish into reality, but alas, that's not within his power to do.

There's a sound form within the boxes. A deep rumbling that seems to be growing louder, a ripping sound like clothing tearing. And then the boxes errupt. Admitedly not a hard thing to do with cardboard, but a shape that amazingly is even taller than the cobblestone hero is standing over him, blood on his now green skin in several places as he breathes heavily, rage on his face. He glares around, spotting the retreating tail lights in the distance, and crouches down. The Hulk leaps into the air like a rocket, arching through the sky and away from the spot where Bruce Flagg, or as Ben will probably figure out from all this, Bruce Banner, was just sent by the drunken driver. He ends up landing right on the hood of the vehicle, crushing the engine straight into the ground and bringing it to an abrupt stop. A hand reaches out and peels the roof off of the car, before he reaches in and grabs the driver with one big hand, shaking him in his hand and roaring into his face. Already inebriated, it doesn't take long for the man to pass out from this and go limp. Roaring again, the green goliath tosses him to the side, his body twisting through the air to land in a dumpster. Then he raises his fists over his head, and proceeds to pound on the already destroyed vehicle until it's reduced to a flattened piece of scrap, the street around it heavily cracked. He seems to have forgotten that he was just walking with somebody for now.

The appearance of the Hulk certainly catches Ben by surprise. He's left staring for just a moment as the green-skinned monster heaves to his feet, causing Ben to take a step back. There isn't terror in the Thing's eyes - one of the few, metahumans included, so resilient that his life doesn't flash before his eyes with this sudden, fear-inspiring apparition. But then the Hulk bounds upward and Ben is left pounding the pavement, racing after the enraged behemoth. Ben sees the driver getting flung into a dumpster, likely suffering some relatively minor injuries, and the Hulk then pulverizing the vehicle. Still Ben approaches, slowing from a sprint to a jog to a walk over those final few dozen feet - far enough, he hopes, that he's not mistaken for an attacker. He fans his large fingers and shows empty palms to the Hulk. "Hey, big guy," he offers. "Boy, I'm glad you're all right. You got it. It's over now…"

Giving a last smash of the car, the Hulk turns towards Ben Grimm, a glare on his face. Seeing him now, it's somewhat possible to see the man that Ben had talked to several times in his verdant features. But he looked more primal. More violent. His muscles tense for several seconds as he stares over at the other man. And then he seems to relax, slumping a little. Despite everything, that had been a relatively minor incindent for him. He shudders, and the color starts to drain from his face as his body contracts. Within a few seconds, he's back to just Bruce, wobbling on his feet before landing heavily on his knees. The extremely cheap suits he wears make sense now, since the only thing left of what he had on before is a pair of pants that are stretched out to the point where it honestly doesn't make any sense that they managed to stay on him at all. It must be some weird side-effect of his powers. He turns his head to the side and spits out a wad of bloody phlegm, then rubs his face with one hand before turning his gaze back to his friend and locking eyes. No words are spoken for a time, then he finally says. "So. You might have figured out why it is you can't really help me."

Tension eases out of Ben's frame as the Hulk shrinks, receding back into human form, to reveal the exhausted-looking Bruce Banner. "We'll see about that," he answers, shrugging off his trench coat and lowering down onto one knee to drape it over the other man's frame. It will be over-sized for Bruce, but it's something to wear beyond the tattered pants, miraculously still in place. Ben offers another of his stiff-lipped smiles. "You 'n me got the short end of the radiation stick," he offers. "We *gotta* help each other." Large orange hands grip Bruce's upper arms and he bracingly tries to help the man to his feet. With staring onlookers already on their phones - calling the police, capturing video, Ben notes, "There's a bit of cash in a pocket, to get you home or whatever. I think you oughta get goin' for now. I'll deal with the cops 'n stuff."

Bruce Banner clutches the trenchcoat around him when it's draped over him, Bruce makes it to his feet, already steadier. HIs lips twitch a little at the words from the other man. "That's one way of looking at it." He glances around at the gathering people, and sighs. The mention of cash makes him frown. "I don't…" He looks down at himself, then sighs. "Fine. I'll pay you back though. And…thanks. If you need me, you can find me at…" He leans over closer to the again much bigger man, whispering an address to him. It's a very cheap place in one of the seedier sections of town. Then he turns and starts off, soon breaking into a light jog. "Thanks, Ben." He turns a corner, probably with a few of the onlookers trailing after him. He really didn't want to be there when the cops arrived.

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