Archaic Kinds of Fun

secrets to keep

August 22, 2014

The sun was streaking into the room when Jo opened her eyes, and she absently patted her stomach. Looks like Tony started the day without her. She listened to her bones pop as she stood up and stretched, and she shook her hair out as she shuffled out of Tony’s room. The shampoo she has stashed in Tony’s room is running low, so she’s taking a shower in her own bathroom today. Nothing loosens her up after a big fight like a hot shower, and she spent several minutes just standing under the spray. Once she was squeaky clean, she stepped out into the misty bathroom and started the herculean task of drying her hair.

Her feet drug as she moved over into her closet, and she was fighting just to keep her eyes open. Huh, maybe she’s not as healed as she thought. Her tired muscles are begging for some rest, and she’s swaying sleepily in her closet so getting some more sleep doesn’t sound like a bad idea. She found a matching set of pale pink panties and a sports bra, and one of Tony’s tank tops was hanging out of a drawer. It was a little loose in some places and tight in others, but it was comfortable and that’s all that matters. Her dark green blanket was pulled back on the bed so that she could see the purple pillows and light blue sheets, and she smiled as she collapsed onto the fluffy mattress.

“Tony okay, JARVIS?” she muffled out. She’s lying face down on a pillow, but the AI still heard her. JARVIS is awesome like that.

“Master Stark is completely okay, Miss Jo.” She hummed a quiet acknowledgement and burrowed down into the mattress a little more. Just a few hours and then she’ll go find Tony. Yeah, just a few more hours of sleep.


Darcy groaned as she clawed her way out of her sheets, and she had to rub her eyes so that she could focus on the clock. Ten thirty-four. It took a moment for the time to register, and she scrambled to get out of bed once she realized how late it was. For some reason, everyone in this house is an early riser. Breakfast is normally somewhere between seven and eight, and why didn’t anyone wake her up? Thor normally wakes her up so that they can cook breakfast together. (Well, Thor cooks and she supervises.) She even missed training!

Her shirt blocked her sight as she stumbled out of her room, and she managed to pull the material straight before stepping into the elevator. She glanced down as she moved upwards, and she let her head fall back against the elevator wall. She forgot to put on shoes. Yeah, she’s just gonna be inside all day, but she prefers wearing shoes in the lab. She can heal pretty fast and everything now, but Tony’s lab is still a dangerous place to be sometimes. The elevator doors finally opened, and she slid into Tony’s lab with apologies falling from her lips.

“—never happen again and…Tony? Jo?” The lab is way too quiet. There’s no blaring music, or cussing genius, or laughing mutant. “JARVIS?”

“Master Stark is running an errand.” Oh, so that explains where they are. Must not be business related, or they would’ve pulled her along. Being Tony’s assistant is mostly awesome, but she hates the business meetings. They’re so boring. Well, it looks like she’s got some free time on her hands. Maybe Thor needs some company.


Bruce pulled away from his microscope and pushed his glasses up, and his eyes fell on his watch. It’s already past one, so he’s been working longer than he thought. Jo should have been here by now. They talked it over last night before she left; they’d have lunch in the lab and then Jo would work on her telepathy training. She needs to improve projecting her thoughts over a distance, and he can continue to work while she trains. She said she’d be up at twelve, and Jo is normally punctual when it comes to lunch. Unless something comes up, but JARVIS would have informed him if anything had happened. There’s a possibility that she didn’t heal as well as she thought and is still sleeping to regain her strength.

“JARVIS, is Jo still sleeping?” Talking to the AI has always been a little odd, but it’s a little more disconcerting now that he knows that Tony’s brain is linked up to the AI.

“Yes, Dr. Banner.” The AI isn’t human, but he certainly sounds human. Right now, the AI sounds worried and a little strained.

“Is she okay?” Were her injuries worse than she let on?

“I enacted the soundproof protocol on Miss Jo’s room one hour and thirteen minutes ago,” the AI recited.

“Soundproof protocol?” Bruce has a shadowy memory of Tony rattling off something about a soundproof something, but he’s a little fuzzy on the details. It’s not uncommon for the two of them to share ideas, but Tony is always working on several projects at a time and it’s hard to keep them all straight.

“The sound in Miss Jo’s room has reached levels high enough to be heard by others outside of the room.” Jo’s sleeping, but the sound in her room is loud enough to be heard by others.

“She doesn’t have a radio on or anything, does she?”

“No, sir. She appears to be having a violent nightmare.”

“Where’s Tony?” he asked as he walked through the lab. He was walking through the door when the AI answered.

“Master Stark is running an errand.” Tony probably has Darcy with him, to let Jo get some more rest. Bruce felt Hulk stirring as he stepped into the elevator, and his hands nervously wrung together as two fingers pressed against the pulse in his wrist.

“We’re okay. I’m just worried about Jo.”

“Not okay?”

“I’m not sure, but you can’t come out unless I ask you to.” Hulk huffed, but Bruce knew he understood. Later, Bruce thought as the elevator came to a stop, he’d ask Thor for a spar. That always cheers Hulk up. He quickly walked across the living room and opened Jo’s room without knocking. A strangled scream greeted him, but Jo was the only one in the room. Small streaks of light peeked through the curtains hanging over the balcony doors and lit up a sight that Bruce would never be able to forget.

Jo was lying on the bedroom floor with her light blue sheets tangled around her ankles, like she’d crawled off the end of the bed in her panic. Her bare legs were curled in tight against her body, and the sweat that coated her skin darkened her gray tank top to almost black. Her fingers were buried in her long hair, and she kept pulling at it as she screamed. It was a tortured sound that made his ears ring, but it didn’t stop him from crossing the room and kneeling down next to her. He wasn’t sure if he should try shaking her awake, because that sometimes only worsened the problem and caused the sleeping person to wake up swinging. Hulk likes Jo, but Bruce doesn’t want to push him.

“Jo?” He lightly touched her bare arm, and her entire body went still. Instead of screaming, she began to whimper. Somehow, the quiet little sounds were even worse than the loud screams.

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry. Please, stop, I won’t ever do it again. I promise, I promise,” she whispered. Bruce wasn’t sure if it was a nightmare or a memory from her time with ROSE. He firmed the hold he had on her shoulder and leaned down closer to her.

“Jo, you’re safe. You just need to wake up,” Bruce said at a normal volume. He didn’t want to shout and startle her.

“I won’t do it again, I’m sorry, I’m sorry. Please, please…NO!” She screamed as her body jolted, and one of her hands lashed out to grip his forearm. A quiet hiss escaped from between his teeth as her short nails pierced his skin, and he felt a heavy pressure throbbing against his temples. It’s like when Jo tries to project her thoughts, but this is much stronger. Jo’s attempts feel like a soft breeze brushing across his mental barrier, and this feels like a battering ram. He reached up to rub at the pulsing sensation, but the pain surged and darkened his vision. When he closed his eyes, an image played out against the back of his eyelids. The girl he could see looked vaguely familiar, and that’s when it hit him. He’s seeing Jo’s nightmare. In her panic, she can project images and not just words. Something this advanced should have taken months for her to learn, but this is very clearly her nightmare.

There was a man, middle-aged, standing next to a surgical table in a white lab coat. The girl that had to be Jo was lying on it, but he never would have imagined that Jo could look like that. All of her long thick hair was shaved off, and her curves disappeared to show popping hipbones and a protruding sternum. She was naked, except for thin white sheets that covered her small breasts and a small square settled between her legs. Pins were holding back flaps of skin flayed from her torso, and the man had a gloved hand inside of her stomach.

“Do you realize what you have done, Josephine?” The man’s voice was even and calm. If there wasn’t a girl being tortured on his table, Bruce would have assumed he was just an average guy.

“I know, I’m sorry, Dr. Serrens. I’ll never do it again, I promise.” Jo was openly sobbing now, loud cries that shook her body and caused fresh blood to drip onto the table. Her thin wrists pushed against the metal cuffs that bound her to the table, but she didn’t seem strong enough to break them. The man twisted his arm, and Jo’s scream echoed in the blindingly white room. “Please, stop. I won’t do it again, I promise.”

“Amelia was my favorite nurse, Josephine, and you killed her. She had a husband and a little girl, and you took her away from them. You deserve this pain,” the doctor whispered.

“I know, I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. Please, just stop. You’re killing me.” Jo’s voice was soft, so much softer than the voice Bruce has grown accustomed to over the past month.

“Mmm, and we can’t have that, can we? Not until the telepathy takes, at least.” This is before the telepathy was successfully implanted, but Bruce had no idea that she suffered this much. He knows about the people who have experimented on mutants, and humans, but he didn’t know it was like this.

“NO! NO!” The doctor was meticulously cutting out a section of her large intestine, and Jo’s sweet voice was distorted by the sound of her scream. Bruce can’t watch anymore of this, and JARVIS said that Jo’s been reliving all of this for over an hour. Even though it’s a dream being pushed into his mind, he still has some kind of power. He pictured himself in the room, walking towards the table where Jo was being held down. He pictured his hand gently touching her shaved head, and her scream cut off as watery green eyes met his.

“Bruce?” Her voice still sounds so soft, despite the desperate screaming.

“You need to wake up now, Jo.” He can still hear the man snipping at her intestine.

“What if I’m back there? What if it was all a dream, and Clint and Natasha don’t come for me?”

“Then Hulk will come smash you out. Wake up, Jo.”

Bruce’s eyes popped open as the pressure on his mind vanished, and he took a moment to just suck in a few deep breaths. He could feel Hulk inside of his mind, like he was pacing, and he reassured the other half of his mind without using words. He just let the feeling expand to them both, and the growling presence was slowly quieted. Once that was done, he glanced down to make sure that Jo was awake. Her fingernails were still embedded in his forearm, and at some point she had curled around where he was kneeling and pressed her cheek against his thigh. She was still crying, but without sound.

“Rickard hated the sound of crying. The louder the sound, the higher the voltage.” Her normally rough voice was reaching new levels, and she was shaking his legs. The voltage must have been what they used to keep her weak. If the shocks were regular and powerful enough, it would have interfered with her healing and decreased her strength enough to make her an easier captive.

“What can I do?”

“You saw it, didn’t you?” She was shaking so hard that her teeth were rattling, and Bruce was bleeding freely. Normally he’d be worried about the radiation in his blood, but he has a feeling that Jo can survive it.

“Yes.” There’s no point in lying; Jo would know.

“I didn’t want you to see.” When she talked about ROSE, she held back on the details. He can understand why now. She sounds so defeated, and he can feel her tears soaking through the material of his pants.

“I’m sorry you went through that.”

“Fuck!” Bruce grunted as her nails were ripped out of his arm, and he watched with wide eyes as she fluidly rolled to her feet and faced away from him. She’s facing the balcony doors now, and a ray of sunlight highlighted his blood on her fingertips. From where he’s still kneeling, he can easily see the tense set of her shoulders under her hair and see the way that her thighs are trembling.

“Jo?” A shudder rolled through her body, and her hands clenched into fists.

“No one knows the specifics. In the debriefings, I gave the most clinical answers I could. Was I tortured? Yes. How? Physically, both instrumental and through neglect, as well as psychologically. I didn’t tell anyone about the electric shocks that were administered to keep me weak; I didn’t tell anyone I was punished for killing a nurse. I didn’t tell anyone I was tortured to test my endurance. No one was ever supposed to know, but you…Fuck, Bruce, you saw it!”

“I didn’t mean to,” he said quietly. She’s mostly still now, except for the clenching and unclenching of her fists, and she won’t look at him. He’s gotten used to the feeling of Jo’s eyes on him, but she won’t turn around.

“It’s the fuckin’ telepathy! I don’t scar, I heal. I could forget about that fuckin’ place, because there aren’t any marks. But the telepathy, it’s always gonna be here to remind me. It’s usually okay, because of my voice, you know? It’s all rough and shit because Clint shot me with that exploding arrow during the rescue, so it reminds me that there was a rescue. In the dreams though…in the dreams, my voice is still so soft, like the rescue never happened. You heard it, didn’t you?”

“Yes.” She told him about the failed rescue mission and said that her throat never healed properly, but he never would have thought that her voice was that soft. It sounded like two completely different people. He still doesn’t understand why her throat didn’t heal, and she said that night that she didn’t know why either.

“Do you know what I think, Bruce? I think I’m scared to let it heal, because if it heals, there won’t be anything to remind me that I’m safe. Because you saw, right? But you won’t tell anyone? You won’t tell them that that you saw me?”

“I won’t tell anyone.” The more she talked, the more panicked her voice became. No one knows the specifics, so he’s betting that includes Tony. He watched as she nodded and then curled in on herself again. Her bare knees hit the hardwood floor, and he saw her hands running over her ribs and grabbing at her hips. Like she was feeling the jutting bones of her malnourished body all over again. Her shoulders were shaking, and Bruce knew she was crying silently.

“Thank you. I wanna be alone now,” she whispered. Bruce slowly got to his feet and glanced down at his bloody arm. The skin around the marks was tinged green as the holes closed up completely. Hulk healed him.

“Don’t go. Help.” Bruce followed his instincts and walked over to where Jo was lightly shaking. He knelt behind her so that her back was pressed against his chest, and he wrapped his arms around her torso. His hands rested on the area that had been flayed open all those years ago, and Jo’s fingers lightly rested on top of his own before pressing more firmly. He can still feel her shaking in his arms, and he pressed his cheek against the top of her head. (It’s like laying on the hospital bed and holding onto her as her body heals itself; she’s shaking against him and crying.)

“My father was an alcoholic. Some of my earliest memories are of the smell of his favorite whiskey and the feeling of his fists. He hated me, thought that his nuclear exposure was passed onto me and mutated my genes. It’s too bad he didn’t live long enough to see Hulk,” Bruce said with a dry laugh. He felt Jo lightly pressing against his mind, a gentle breeze, and he let her in. He nudged her in the right direction, and he let her see him as a child curled into a small ball as his father beat him just for existing.

“Bruce, you don’t have to—”

“When I was six, my mother tried to stop him and was killed. My father was taken to a mental hospital, and I went to live with my aunt. I think that’s where Hulk comes from. All of those years of abuse just taught me how to hide. Hide the bruises, hide the anger. I buried everything until I wasn’t even human anymore.” He could see his mother laying on the floor with her neck at a wrong angle, but she looked like she was sleeping. He could feel his father’s hands on his already bruised shoulders as he was forced to repeat that it was an accident. She fell, and it was just an accident. Of course, the truth came out just a few weeks later, but those were the worst weeks of his life. There was no mother to run to and wash the blood off of him when his father took the beatings a little too far.

“Bruce.” Jo didn’t say anything else, but she didn’t have to. They could both feel the way his fingers sunk into her flesh to anchor him to the now, and they could both hear Hulk’s loud growls at the remembered pain. Jo could even hear a single thought that echoed with both of their voices, “In the dark, where HulkBruce hide.” Jo didn’t even have to hear the meaning out loud to understand; she could see a flash of a childlike Bruce, with big brown eyes and a bloody nose, hiding in the depths of a closet.

“Now we both have secrets to keep.” Jo twisted around in his arms and pressed her face against his neck, and he felt her hot silent tears falling against his skin. He didn’t know if she was crying for her or for him, but it didn’t really matter. He felt drained and numb, because he never talks about his childhood. It hurts too much to even think about.

Jo rose to her feet, and she lightly tugged on his arm until he was standing too. He let her pull him over to her ruined bed and even cooperated when she pushed him to sit down. She swiftly got on her knees to start plucking at his shoes, and he watched in a numb fog as she pulled both off. Once his feet were bare, she crawled up onto the bed next to him and pulled him to lay down with her. Her toes snagged the blanket on the far side of the bed, and they curled around each other under the cocoon of the blanket. Jo nuzzled her nose against his chest and slipped one hand under his shirt to press against the bare skin of his stomach. Her legs tangled with his, and he reached down to grab one bare thigh. This isn’t the first time that they’ve held onto each other, but everything feels different now.

“When we wake up, everything will be better. You’ll go back to the lab and be your super genius self, and I’ll go annoy Tony until it’s time for dinner. Then we’ll all be together, just like normal. Okay, Bruce?” Her rough voice was small and hopeful, and Bruce’s fingers flexed against the muscle of her thigh.

“Okay, Jo.”


Bruce woke up slowly and not alone, both of which were different from the usual. He normally woke up instantly alert and on his own. Right now, he’s as far from alone as he can get. He’s got one hand curved around a very bare thigh and the other is buried under a mass of hair. A leg is curled around his, a cheek is pressed against his chest, and a finger is idly flicking one of the buttons on his shirt. When he glanced down, Jo’s eyes were open but unfocused.

“Okay?” His voice was sleep rough, and Jo tipped her head back to look at him.

“I was just thinkin’.”

“About?” Earlier, before their nap, was a little intense. He still feels worn out from the emotional outpour, and he’s pretty sure that he can hear Hulk snoring somewhere deep in the recesses of his mind.

“When’s Hulk’s birthday?”

“What?” He’s starting to feel a little more awake, but it looks like he’s stuck saying one word at a time.

“I was just wonderin’ when Hulk’s birthday. I know he’s another part of you, biggest case of multiple personalities I’ve ever seen, but you two are kinda separate. So, do you share a birthday? Or does Hulk have one of his own?”

Dark green eyes were staring directly into his own, completely unwavering, as she waited for an answer. From the serious look on her face earlier, Bruce assumed she was thinking about her horrible nightmare and all the other associated memories it was bound to dredge up. Instead, she was trying to figure out if Hulk had his own birthday. No one has ever asked him that particular question about Hulk, and he can admit that he’s never thought of it either. Why would he?

“Why?” Her eyebrows pulled together, and her left cheek twitched like she was biting the inside of it.

“Steve said he’d help me with my baking, because I’ve never really gotten the hang of it. So, I was thinkin’, what’s the best thing to bake? Which got me thinkin’ about birthday cakes and then I was thinkin’ about your birthday, because I pretty much know everybody else’s. I don’t know when your birthday is—”

“April fourteenth.”

“—I’ll keep that in mind. I didn’t know if Hulk had a separate birthday though. I thought about asking him, but he’s sleeping pretty hard in there.” She was smiling at him with one of her wide grins, that showed the dimple in her left cheek and a flash of white teeth. He’s starting to realize that a normal smile from her is like Tony’s smirks, a fake smile that people expect to see. The wide lopsided grin is a real smile.

“I…you…um, hmm.” He doesn’t have an answer, and Jo is still looking up at him with a real smile. She’s lying in bed with him, even though he’s seen her flayed open and she’s seen him crying in a dark closet. For weeks, she’s touched with him ease and smiled at him and teased him and purposely made him blush…She’d seen Hulk for all of thirty seconds and called him her hero.

“Did I break you, Doc? Are you—” His hand was already buried under her hair with his fingers pressing against her scalp, which made it easy to tip her head back just a little bit more and at just the right angle to brush his lips against hers. It barely fit the definition of a kiss, but Jo’s quick little intake of air said otherwise.

“Thank you,” he whispered as his lips brushed across hers again. It definitely wasn’t anything like the romance books that Jo loved to read. Their noses were pressed together, they were both a little sweaty from the shared body heat under a fluffy blanket, and there was morning breath in the afternoon.

“If that’s how you thank a girl, I need to start doin’ more. Got any laundry that needs doing? Shoes that need new laces?” This close, he could see all the subtle colors that made up her dark green eyes and feel the curl of her lips as she smiled.

“I could use some more towels in my bathroom,” he teased. Jo’s been teasing him for weeks, so it’s time for him to get just a little revenge.

“Consider it done. How do you feel about payment up front?” He caught a flash of a young girl slipping out of a window, just seconds before setting eyes on Natasha Romanoff for the first time, and himself mumbling, “Should’ve got paid up front, Banner.”

“It’s a must.” Jo leaned up into him this time and turned their barely-there kisses into actual ones. If he ever thought about kissing Jo, which he didn’t, he would have imagined her to be an aggressive kisser. With hands pulling at his hair and teeth sinking into his lip. If anything, she was the exact opposite. Her body was warm and relaxed where it was draped across him, and she was happy to let him lead. His lips were soft on hers, gently tugging, as his hands stroked across her skin.

“Fuck, Doc, where have you been hiding?” Her eyes were big as she stared up at him, and he realized that her hand was up his shirt again.

“India. Kolkata, mostly.” Jo huffed and rolled her eyes, but she tipped her head back and looked at him like she was waiting for something. He braced his palm against the back of her neck and brought his lips back down to hers. Jo sighed as her nails lightly scratched against his stomach, and he felt her body moving against his as she shifted up the bed a little. She was still following his lead, and he kept the kisses light. There was a part of him, deep down inside, that was scared to do anything else. There was still a fear of rejection, of revulsion, and of hurting—

“Thank, remember? You can’t hurt me. Hulk won’t hurt me, and he’s sleeping right now anyway. You don’t have to hold back with me,” she whispered with a light kiss to the base of his throat. The hand under his shirt was resting over his heart now, with one finger tapping out the calm beat. She was shaking. Bruce’s first thought was that she was scared and trying to hide it, but he knew she wouldn’t do that. She’d admit it if she was scared. No, she’s shaking because of how tense she is. Like she’s holding herself back. From him. For him.

“I know, I just—”

“Bruce, please.” He gripped her biceps and hauled her up his body. She moaned before he even got his lips on her, and he swallowed the sound as he forced her lips to part for him. Strong thighs squeezed his ribcage as hands tangled in his hair, and Bruce felt a flash of heat as she undulated on top of him. His own hands gripped her thighs to pull her just a little bit closer before pushing under her tank top to feel the flexing of her spine. Her tongue brushed against his lips before retreating and then dipping completely inside, like she just couldn’t help herself. The grip on his hair was almost painful and completely amazing, and Jo was making quiet little rumbling whimpers in the back of her throat.

“Jo.” Whatever else he was going to say was cut off as teeth scraped against his Adam’s apple before lips curled around it with a soft lick. Jo’s lips danced across his throat, with small nibbling bites and teasing licks, as she made her way to his ear. He knew he was squeezing her hips hard enough to bruise, but he couldn’t let go. Not while her tongue was tracing the outline of his ear.

“You can touch me, you know. Touch me, Bruce,” Jo breathed into his ear. He barely recognized the growling noise that came out of him, but it made Jo shiver on top of him and nip his earlobe.

“I, uh…oh.” She had grabbed one of his hands and taken care of it herself, and he felt her laugh tickle against his collarbone. He spared a moment to wonder when she’d unbuttoned his shirt as his fingers curled around the soft flesh of her ass but then Jo was kissing him again. Teeth grazed his bottom lip and a tongue soothed the small sting, and Jo’s thighs flexed against his sides.

“Hey, Jo, you’ll never believe—” Jo jumped like she’d been shocked at the sound of the loud voice, and she sat up on his stomach.

“Tony?” When he looked over to the doorway, Tony was standing frozen just inside of the room with his mouth open. He was dressed in slacks and a red button up, he was even wearing shoes, and a pair of sunglasses were on top of his head.

“You? And Bruce?” Jo was sitting on his stomach and it was obvious what they’d been doing. His hands are still gripping Jo’s soft curves, and her lips are kiss swollen.

“We, uh…Well, see, what happened was—”

“I knew it! What’d I tell you?! Where’s Darcy? She owes me a twenty.”

“What?!” Jo’s rough voice echoed in the room, and Tony turned back to look at her. Bruce knows that he should say something, but he’s not really sure what. Also, what exactly did Tony know and why does he owe Darcy money?

“Your faces!” Tony doubled over in laughter, and Jo huffed as she crossed her arms. She’s not making any attempts at moving off of him, but he has moved his hands so that he’s lightly holding onto her hips instead of…other places. “JARVIS! I need pictures!”

“I’m gonna take a picture of your face with my fist! Where have you been?! Those aren’t lab clothes!” Tony stopped laughing and rubbed the back of his neck, and Bruce could feel how tense Jo was because she still hasn’t moved off of him.

“About that—”

“Avengers! Get your asses down to Greenwich! Now!” Fury’s voice echoed from all the different comms, and Jo was suddenly standing next to the bed.

“You and me are having a talk later,” she said and pointed at Tony. Bruce’s fellow scientist leaned to the side until their eyes met, and Tony’s smile made Bruce feel like hiding.

“We so are. Suit up!” Tony disappeared, and Jo ran her fingers through her hair. When Jo turned back towards him, he was sitting on the edge of the bed and pulling his shirt off.

“Hey, Bruce?”

“Hmm?” He stood up so he could pull his pants down, because he’s already wearing a pair of Hulk shorts. He’s always wearing them, just in case.

“We can, uh, talk later, right?” Her voice didn’t sound as strong as it usually did, and he looked up to see her staring at him. She should be preparing to leave, but she’s just standing there and staring at him. “You’re so cute when you’re confused. Talk later?”

“Yes, of course.” She smiled at him, widely, and leaned forward to lightly kiss his lips.

“Wait for me!” she yelled as she ducked into her closet. When she came out a minute later, she was wearing a pair of faded jeans that clung to her legs and a dark blue tank top. A pair of heavy looking boots dangled from her fingers, and she was twirling a brush.

“That was fast.” Her eyes met his, and her tanned skin was still a little flushed.

“Changing is the easy part. One of these days, the world is going to end while I’m trying to put on my steel-toes and put my hair up,” she said as she plopped back down on the bed. She started dragging the brush through her long hair, and Bruce felt a little awkward just standing there and watching her. Jo asked him not to leave though.

“Can I help?” She kept brushing her hair as she looked up at him, and he knew he was blushing as her dark eyes ran over him.

“Do you know how to put up hair?”

“I can’t do that bun thing, but I know how to braid.” Something flashed across her face, but it was too quick for him to read.

“Are you fast?” He thought of shaking and feverish patients asking for a little relief, and he remembers his fingers going through the motions like it was second nature. Their hair wasn’t as long as Jo’s, but he’s sure he can do it quickly. When he nodded, Jo held out the brush. Getting back onto the bed was easier than he thought it would be, and Jo held as still as possible as she tugged on her boots.

Her hair was thick and soft, but he didn’t have time to just enjoy the weight of it. His fingers made quick work of sectioning off her hair and braiding it all together, and he used a hair tie that was wrapped around the brush handle to hold it all together. Jo had just finished tying the second boot when he eased off the bed, and he watched as she pulled the rope of hair over her shoulder. She ran her fingers down the length of it with a small smile and then she twisted it up behind her so that it wouldn’t hang down her back. Bruce was standing in the doorway now and still just looking at her, and it felt like someone had punched him in the stomach when she looked up at him.

“We should probably,” he said and waved his hand. The look in Jo’s eyes said that she wanted to devour him, and he knew he wouldn’t be able to stop if they really got started. Jo got to her feet and walked over to him, and Bruce felt like he was rooted to the spot as she pressed up against him. The doorway was pressing painfully against his spine, but Jo’s soft breasts were cushioned against his chest as her lips moved against his like she couldn’t get enough. When she pulled back, the skin around her lips was red from where he’d forgotten to shave and her eyes were wide enough to show the whites all the way around.

“Let’s go beat up some baddies, yeah? And later, let’s celebrate.” She was walking off before he could come up with a reply, and he lightly shook his head as he hurried behind her. He didn’t have time to think about what just happened; there would be plenty of time for that later. Right now, he needs to wake Hulk up and get to work. He also needs to stop looking at how great Jo’s ass looks in those jeans. Jo looked over her shoulder at him as the elevator came to a stop and winked, and there was a little extra sway in her step as she walked across the foyer.

“I hate this,” Clint grumbled as they reached the group. Tony and Steve were missing, Darcy was standing right next to Thor and patting his armored shoulder, and Clint and Natasha were both glaring.

“You two still benched?” Jo asked as the assassins.

“We haven’t been cleared for combat,” Natasha grit out.

“We got this, Nat,” Tony called out as him and Steve walked off the elevator. He’s in his suit, but the faceplate is up.

“You guys helped with the fire monsters though,” Darcy pointed out.

“Against Director Fury’s orders,” Steve said quietly.

“Don’t worry, guys. We’ll take care of this and be right back,” Jo said quickly. He could hear the others talking, but he didn’t register the words. He was focusing on Hulk and trying to get the big guy to wake up. A moment later, he felt a gentle pull on his wrist and looked over at Jo. It looks like they’re leaving. The sun was bright when they stepped outside, so their nap must not have been that long. The big guy came awake with a roar and sleepy eyes blinked down at Jo a moment later.

“Smash now?” The question should have sounded angry or menacing, but it mostly just sounded curious.

“That’s right, big guy. We both get to do some smashin’ today. You mind giving me a lift?” Bruce felt Hulk’s giant hand wrapping around Jo’s torso and then she was sitting on Hulk’s shoulder. Tony flew off in front of them with Thor right behind him, and he could hear the quiet roar of Steve’s motorcycle. “Just follow the rest of the boys. We don’t want to get left behind and miss all the fun.”

Hulk huffed but did as she asked, and Bruce settled back in his mind. He has a feeling they’ve got a big fight ahead of them, so Hulk needs to focus. Bruce can think about everything else later.
♠ ♠ ♠
Finally starting to get good, hmm?

In the next chapter, there will be a little action and we might find out what Tony's been up to.