2019-11-10 - Goodwill is Never Overrated


Bruce and Steve enjoy a peaceful discussion on the roof of the Mansion.

Log Info:

Storyteller: None
Date: Sun Nov 10 07:55:47 2019
Location: Avengers Mansion - Roof

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The roof is cold; it's November, but it isn't icy. The roof has always offered a type of solitude. The solitude is stronger in the cold autumn now, as even fewer are likely to be up there. Still, the planters and pots of greenery offer shelter against the wind by the collection of patio chairs.

Banner is up there, occupying a chair, and dressed warmly, from thick pants to the cozy jacket, with the gray fur-edged collar resting against his cheeks. A woolen hat is tucked over his brown, wavy hair. He has one hand tucked away into his coat, the other warm around a hot chocolate. Steam rises warmly from it around his nose and mouth. His expression, for once, is mostly serene, distant in a way, but it hasn't gone off into a place of anxiety. For the moment, Bruce is at peace.

It seems a bit of a sin to disturb the peace, but a monthly habit of at least wandering up onto some rooftop has Steve arriving very quietly. The opening and closing of the glass sliding door is a shush and click of sound. In his hand, a mug of decaf coffee (yes, sad bean water), and the man is appropriately dressed for the chill. His own jacket is shearling-lined and on his head, a knitted stocking cap keeps the worst of the chill from his ears.

He wears a small smile on approach to Bruce and speaks as if he wished to preserve the stillness of the rooftop atmosphere itself. "Hey Bruce. Mind if I join you? Had a hankering to see if the stars were out."

Steve's approach is from behind and to Bruce's left; he orients by tilting his head up and back towards the tall, standing man as he comes over. "Oh hey!" Bruce says, immediately smiling; Bruce's natural, welcoming warmth is easygoing.

"Of course; sure," he says, tone friendly, as he scoots up a little, and gestures with his cup towards the chair next to him. He sloshes his chocolate, and sits forward quickly to lean to it to slurp the bit that escaped onto his hand.

"Oops; what a mess," he murmers, drying his hand on the scrap of napkin he'd originally brought along to buffer against the high heat of the mug. "Spared my pants at least," he jokes softly, keeping the drips away from his body to the side.

"Appreciate it." How not to resist such an honest invitation? Steve all but dimples on dint of this alone, though his smile does take on a sympathetic note at the slosh of hot chocolate. "Gravity. Can't resist it," he replies with a note of tease. There's a passing wince as he pulls up a chair beside the scientist. Seeing the spillage of Bruce's drink is enough to make him mindful of his own as he adjusts his seating and he holds his drink away from himself off to one side as well until he's comfortable.

After a sip of coffee, he sighs to himself. "Wanted to thank you for what you did for us at the Disaster Zone — for me 'nd for the others, the unit 'nd the bitten. I remember you found me after I was tackled. Thank you, Bruce, and thanks to the other guy too. Would've been in trouble without you both." Steve tilts his head as he gives Bruce an earnest half-smile and lifts his mug in salute.

Bruce paused, midway through sucking a bit of stray chocolate off the first knuckle of his thumb, and draws his hand down. He flushes and smiles awkwardly at the topic swing, dropping his gaze into the top of his mug.

"Ah, well. You know," Bruce begins, pausing. His discomfort is apparent in the words, the choppy sentence structure. "I'm really glad I helped, and um, didn't make anything worse. That's sort of the toss up, there," Bruce says, eyes in the mug. He clears his throat but forces a smile anyway, returning quiet brown eyes to Steve.

"But um, more importantly. How're you feeling, coming out of all of that?" Bruce asks.

"You did good," the Captain very gently insists. However, he isn't going to press the topic further, especially given the coloring on Bruce's cheeks and how his body language withdrew from him. With a self-remonstrating twist to his lips, Steve looks first at his booted feet and then up into the night sky. He ponders, index fingernail dully tapping once on the heated ceramic body of his mug, and then continues speaking, voice still respectfully low.

"It's a relief. For a while there, I was…" His brows meet. His throat works. "Thought I was really in trouble, towards the end, before we knew about the den in the Zone. There was…there was talk about a dagger over in Eastern Europe, where you could stop being a werewolf if you got stabbed by it, but it had to be through the heart. Also a ritual to burn the curse out of you, but there wasn't a high chance of surviving it. Didn't…" His brows lift and he laughs faintly, chin tucked.

"Needless to say, 'm grateful it didn't come to those things."

"Wasn't really me that did the good," Bruce reminds, with his usual automatic self-deprecation when it comes to the Hulk. "But I'm relieved it worked out, for once." So many times it does not work out, and the guilt is suffered for days or weeks over a bad choice.

Bruce looks mostly horrified by all of the description of ways that the curse COULD have gone, though. "We all are," Bruce agrees. The topic going towards Steve and sticking there has seemed to draw Bruce out of the embarrassment shell again. "And glad you're out of that box," Bruce adds. "I know what that's like. Much rather you be out here," he says, with an upbeat smile, leaning over to briefly try to pat Steve's forearm once with his palm.

Feeling the pat to his arm makes Steve glance over from counting the eyelets of his boots. He gives Bruce a smile still laced through with not just empathy alone, but a shade of it knowing now.

"'m glad to be out of that box too. Nothing like being over a century old 'nd being relegated to something like a time-out corner because suddenly you can't play nice. Bit of an ego bruise," he jokes before shaking his head. "Dunno what I would've done without you 'nd the others. The charcoal 'nd paper…it meant a lot, Bruce." He tries to catch those dark eyes, all the better to impart heartfelt gratitude in his own regard.

His profile tilts up when he looks away and to the sky again. "While I sketched, the noise 'nd clamor in my head went quiet. Wasn't fighting with myself, wasn't scared that they were gonna come in with more ICERS 'nd put me out, wasn't wondering if I'd…if I'd killed anybody while I was AWOL." His voice nearly falls to silence by the end of the thought. "Meant a lot," Steve repeats with another swallow, still appreciating the stars and the clear air around them both.

There's no embarrassed dodge from Bruce: it's easy to catch his gaze, because he's focused on Steve, and Steve's trouble. There's just a returned compassion from the scientist. He doesn't reply at first, just gives Steve a reserved smile, as he explains what the items brought meant to him.

When Steve looks up and away, Bruce continues to look at him, taking in his observations. "It was no trouble," Bruce says, settling both of his hands on his semi-sticky mug, and lifting it to have a little more of it. "I like helping. So you're very welcome."

Movement in his peripheral pulls the Captain's attention away from appreciating the span of Orion's Belt and the brightness of Sirius. It seems Bruce drinking at his hot chocolate prompts the other man almost as a reminder that he's holding his cup of coffee yet.

Still, rather than warm himself with a deep sip, Steve instead reaches into his jacket. Out comes a smaller poster tube, no bigger than might fit a standard piece of printer paper within. He offers it over to Bruce with what appears to be another rendition of the dimples, these almost shy in their own right.

"Figured you could hang it up somewhere…if you wanted," the Captain demurs with a toss of his head and shrug of one shoulder. Inside the tube, a section of the original sheet of paper brought to him in the glass-walled cell. Upon it, a capture from eidetic memory of what appears to be the Brooklyn River stretching out towards the horizon. The shadows are heavy on both sides of the river, angled as the take is to include parts of the city itself, but the fine details aren't in the buildings themselves, or the reach of the docks or the silhouette of an older-model tugboat on the water: it's in the colors of the sunset reflected on the river itself in a riot of hues to the eye. Steve must have taken oil pastels to the black and white sketch after he'd been released from the cell.

Bruce is sharp, though he lags a little in understanding that it's meant for him to keep, not just to get a look at. He puts his mug aside, cleans his hands more carefully with the paper towel before accepting the tube. He sits forward in his chair to accept it and carefully opening it, pulling his glasses out and putting them on before smoothly unrolling the contents with the experience of someone very used to handling rolled documents.

Bruce's expression lifts, brows up, as Steve explains. "Are you sure?" Bruce asks, surprised, vaguely flattered, but not upset. "It's wonderful. Brooklyn river?" Bruce guesses with a gesture, though he has to return to holding the scrolled artwork open, so the gesture doesn't last long.

"I…. usually don't keep… nice things, at least not anymore. I'm destructive," Bruce says, quietly, dismayed: he does like the gift, but giving it to Bruce is also putting the nice artwork at risk. Everything's at risk lately, that things of value need to be kept away from him. "I'm worried it might be harmed, with me."

"Maybe we could put it in the shared mansion, here," Bruce suggests, pivoting, smiling, trying to draw the topic off of his own problem, again.

"You can put it wherever you want, Bruce, it's yours. I thought…" Steve struggles for a second to articulate his thought, brows meeting. "It reminded me of open spaces. Of freedom. Of fresh air and a cool breeze and knowing the day's over so it's time to rest for now. Of peace," he murmurs, eyes on the sheet of paper with its wash of warm color against starker black outlines.

"Brooklyn River, yeah," he adds belatedly with a small laugh, recognizing the delay all but declared he was being drawn off into the nebulous haze of the artistic, so easily caught in their mind's eye.

"If we put it in a common area, then everyone can enjoy it," Bruce says, smile warming. "I really like it, I do. Thank you," Bruce says, with honesty, and some weight. He wants to show Steve that it wasn't the gift that concerned him. He shivers a little.

"Sorry to leave you, but I'm starting to freeze. Unless you want to come in?" Bruce suggests. He puts the paper carefully back into the tube rolled, and picks up his mug. He'll respectfully leave Steve in peace, but if he wants to come in and talk more, that's open to Bruce as well. Either way, he grants him a smile, and heads inside.

The picture will be framed pretty quickly, the home for it set in one of the common hallways, for all of the Avengers to see, though it IS placed near Bruce's room.

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