Archaic Kinds of Fun

tis a most wondrous move

August 28, 2014

Hulk ducked the hammer aiming for his head, and Bruce absently felt the move. Hulk enjoyed sparring with Thor, Thor was always happy to join him for a bout of violence, and Bruce didn’t have to worry because Thor could hold his own against Hulk. He got to retreat to his own little corner inside his shared mind and think. It’s been a little over a week since he and Jo crossed the line from relaxed friends to lovers, and Bruce is still a little surprised at how easy the transition has been. It’s like nothing changed, but everything did. The group dynamics are still the same; Natasha and Jo train Darcy, Jo still forces the grease out of Tony’s hair, and they all still have breakfast and dinner together. Jo still brings his lunch up to the lab, but now sometimes they cuddle afterwards. They’ve also started having “Hulk” time after lunch, and sometimes the big guy reads to Jo until she falls into her afternoon nap.

Bruce wasn’t sure what to expect when Jo showed up three afternoons ago with poster boards, until he realized she made Hulk-sized flash cards. (Hulk is surprisingly good with addition and subtraction, and Bruce is itching to start on multiplication and division but Jo and Darcy haven’t finished the new flash cards yet.) They’re getting more comfortable with each other now; there’s less surprise after realizing they’re not alone in bed. (Pepper has been staying over more recently, and Jo keeps “sleep-walking” into Bruce’s bed.) Despite sharing one bed, Bruce’s, they haven’t had sex since that first night. Instead they’ve backtracked. Jo blushed the first time Bruce held her hand under the dinner table, and sometimes Jo pulls Bruce down onto the couch with her so they can make out like teenagers. (Those moments are Bruce’s favorite part of the day, even though they leave him aching and make it hard to concentrate. Because Jo always leaves the lab with her lips red and swollen, her long hair completely down and tangled from his fingers, and an extra sway guiding her curvy hips.)

In short, Bruce can’t remember the last time he was this happy. Maybe it was when Tony Stark poked him on the hellicarrier without being afraid of the monster inside of him, or when Tony Stark told him that both he and Hulk were good. (Bruce will always consider hearing Tony’s words that day as one of the happiest days of his life, because it led him to Hulk. It led him to the truth.) This morning after breakfast when Thor asked him for a spar, Jo kissed him on the cheek and said it sounded like a wonderful idea. When Hulk took his place, Jo kissed him on the cheek and told him to have fun. Bruce knew that if he ever entered into another relationship, the other person would have to accept Hulk as another part of him. He never thought a year ago, when this realization came to him, that he would be with someone who accepted Hulk for Hulk and would so easily show that acceptance in front of anyone. Bruce almost wished she had joined them, but she was up in her room either knitting or making flash cards with Darcy. (Tony and Pepper had a business meeting, and Pepper promised that they could go somewhere fun afterwards to make up for it. Natasha and Clint were doing a little spying today. Maria and Steve were at the doctor’s office, to see if Maria’s ribs were healed yet.)

“Time out!” Bruce tuned back in at the sound of Jo’s voice just as Hulk turned to look at her. She was standing in the doorway to the gym, and Darcy was sitting in a chair next to her. Hulk had Thor in a headlock, but the god wasn’t struggling to get free. They’re in a time out.

“Okay?” Hulk’s speech was better, is getting better and better as the days go on, but the big guy was a little breathless.

“Bruce has a visitor, so I’ll keep Thor busy until you get back,” Jo grinned. Hulk huffed because they both knew something was wrong. When Jo smiled, really smiled, it was a little crooked. The left side of her lips pulled up more to show a little dimple. If she grinned, teeth and all, it meant she was making herself smile.

“Who is the visitor?” Hulk asked. Jo shuffled from one foot to the other, and Thor slipped out of Hulk’s loose hold.

“Doctor Ross.”

“Betty,” Hulk thought. The big guy was torn between wanting to see Betty and worrying about her father. Bruce had the same line of thinking.

“We’re safe here, Hulk. General Ross can’t hurt us anymore,” Bruce said quietly. Tony told Bruce that Hulk was cleared by SHIELD so that General Ross couldn’t touch him, and that Bruce was safe. Hulk was safe.

“I left her in the kitchen with some of your tea. I thought you might want some alone time,” Jo said as she raised the clothes in her hand. It’s the clothes that he left folded in the chair that Darcy is now sitting in, because he’s just in a pair of Hulk shorts. Hulk walked over to her and gently took the clothes, and Jo smiled up at him. A real smile but still a little too small; Hulk couldn’t see the dimple.

“I was winning.” The left side of Jo’s mouth quirked up, just like Hulk wanted. She reached up towards his face and flexed her fingers in what she called grabby hands, and Hulk scooped her up with the hand not holding his clothes. Fingers ruffled his hair, making it stick up, and Jo bent forward to smack her lips against Hulk’s forehead.

“That’s because my Hulkster always wins. Now, let me test my might against Thor for a bit while you go play nice doctor. Later you can read me a bedtime story, okay?”


“Promise.” Hulk smiled at her, and Bruce could feel his other half’s contentment even stronger than he could feel his own. He gently placed Jo back on the ground, and she reached up to pat his hand before moving over to where Thor was waiting. Hulk stayed in the gym long enough to watch Jo jump into the air with her foot aimed at Thor’s head before walking towards the elevator. Hulk shifted back into Bruce inside the elevator, and Bruce hurriedly put on his clothes. His mind was whirling, trying to figure out why Betty was here. Trying to figure out how Betty knew to come here. Soon he’d have his answers. Maybe sooner than he was prepared for.


“I mean, she’s—”

Strong knee against her ribcage. Iron fist against his jaw.

“—just so pretty. One of those—”

Fingers wrapped around her ankle, holding her in midair. Feeling her stomach muscles tensing and releasing as she swings to duck from the blows.

“—classic beauties, ya know? With the pale skin—”

Her legs are wrapped around his forearm so she can slam her fists into his knee and get loose.

“—and big blue eyes, and those perfect lips!”

Her arms are crossed over her head and holding off a blow that would give a weaker person severe head trauma, if not kill them completely.

“She’s smart too! Like super genius smart! I bet she understands all of Bruce’s science talk! It’d help if she was mean, but she’s so nice! Even her thoughts are all blue and serene! She’s perfect,” Jo groaned. Thor was perched on her back, pinning her to the ground, and Jo’s forehead was pressed tight against the floor.

“Makes you wonder why he picked the exact opposite,” Darcy tossed out. There was sarcasm in her tone, but Jo was too busy wallowing in insecurity to notice.

“I know!” Thor reached forward to pat Jo on top of the head, which just made her groan even louder.

“It’s not like you’re all curvy and hot, or an awesome cook, or really sweet sometimes. Yeah, you’re none of those things,” Darcy drawled out.

“Don’t make me ground you, young lady, because I will.”

“You’ve got a Thor on your back, so you’re not that threatening right now,” Darcy said with a grin.

“You’ll help me, right, Thor?” Jo’s neck twisted so that she could look over her shoulder at Thor, and she could nearly hear Darcy pouting in the background. Jo didn’t even know pouts had sounds, but Darcy is proving her wrong. And no one can say no to Darcy’s pouts.

“She is not wrong, Jo.”

“What?! I am totally threatening!” She could hear Darcy laughing openly now, and Thor placed one giant hand on top of her head.

“You have much to offer Bruce. You are kind and strong, fair and brave. No man could ask for a better lover.” Jo was starting to blush; she could feel it. “If Bruce wished to be with his old lover, he would have sought her out long ago. He is with you, because he wants you.”

“I know, but I’m still a girl. I’m allowed to be a little insecure sometimes,” Jo said with a pout of her own.

“Yeah, well, get over it. You’re both awesome, but your big green lover still likes you the bestest. Now, get up and train me. I wanna learn how to do that thigh lock that Natasha does all the time.”

“’Tis a most wondrous move,” Thor said and finally stood up. Jo sucked in a deep breath before jumping to her feet, and she smiled over at both of them. A little fighting always did cheer her up.


“Bruce!” Betty was sitting at the kitchen bar, on one of the rarely used stools, sipping at a cup of tea. She was dressed casually, in a black skirt and a short-sleeved blouse that was the same blue as her eyes. Bruce felt a little inadequate in his loose jeans and faded blue button-up. He wasn’t even wearing shoes, and he couldn’t remember the last time he brushed his hair. Actually, right now, he couldn’t remember if he even owned a brush. (Not that it matters; Jo has a brush stashed on his night table.)

“Betty. How did you find me?” What he really wanted to ask was if her father knew how to find him just in case he decided to come after Hulk again, and he could tell from the look on Betty’s face that she knew the real question too.

“The General is out tracking some of those escaped prisoners. He wasn’t too happy about SHIELD clearing you, but there’s nothing he can do about it. That’s not why I’m here.”

“Why are you here?” The last time he saw Betty was in Harlem, while they were surrounded by destruction. Then he ran, because it was the only thing he knew how to do. Betty smiled, a little shakily, and met his eyes.

“Is it so strange that I might want to see you? I asked Director Fury where you were after I saw you on the news, fighting off those aliens? He told me you earned a day off, but I saw you again on TV last week. Fury finally told me where you were.” It made sense, of course it did. She probably wanted answers, explanations as to why he ran off without saying a word. He wasn’t ready to talk about that, not with her. Not yet.

“Tony asked me to move in and gave me a lab. Saying no wasn’t really an option,” Bruce said with a small smile of his own. Betty’s smile smoothed out; no matter what happened between them, they would always have science.

“Can I see it?”


“Ten out of ten, would do again,” Jo breathed out. One of Thor’s long legs was thrown over her midsection, and the other leg was pinning Darcy to the ground.

“As would I,” Thor smiled. Jo knows he’s smiling too; she can feel the happy brainwaves rolling off the god without going anywhere near his thoughts.

“You’re both insane,” Darcy huffed. The three of them were completely wiped out but, despite Darcy’s complaints, all three of them were smiling. Darcy pulled off a pretty good leg throw. Not as good as one of Natasha’s, but no one is as good as Natasha.

“I see you three haven’t had any problems entertaining yourselves.” Jo smiled wider at the sound of Bruce’s voice and raised her hand in a wave without opening her eyes.

“Bruce, my darlin’! Come join our sweaty, post-sparring cuddle!” Jo called.

“It’s a trap!” Darcy yelled.

“Unless you wish to spar again!” Thor added.

“Ugh, no more. I can’t. Even my soul is tired,” Darcy groaned. Jo let her head roll to the side and slowly blinked her eyes open, and she felt her whole body tense when she realized Bruce wasn’t alone. Dr. Ross was standing at Bruce’s side and looking into the room with a mixture of curiosity and confusion. Probably because there’s a god with two women pinned under his thighs.

“Betty, this is Thor and Darcy,” Bruce said quietly.

“It is an honor!”

“What he said!” Dr. Ross looked confused but smiled as she said it was an honor to meet them as well. Jo was looking around at the scene and trying to figure out if she was dreaming when she met Bruce’s eyes, and she raised a brow.

“Betty didn’t want to leave without saying goodbye.”

“To me? Wow, I didn’t know I could make such an impression that fast. Alright, big guy, let me up,” Jo said with a pat to Thor’s knee. The limb was lifted easily, it’s good to know that Thor is built like a mountain but still as flexible as a river, and she’s gotta stop watching Mulan. Jo wiggled out from under him, and she gave a quick smile to the two still spread across the floor. She was grinning at the two geniuses as she walked over, but she still felt a little unsettled inside. Bruce and Betty spent hours together, and what she has with Bruce is still so new. The temptation to take a peek, just a little one, was overwhelming. She wasn’t going to though, because she trusts Bruce.

“Would you mind walking me out?” Jo blinked, twice, before nodding. Betty smiled at her and then turned to Bruce with a quiet, “I’ll call you later.”

The elevator ride was uncomfortable, but it didn’t make Jo’s top ten list of uncomfortable elevator rides. Hell, it didn’t even make the top twenty list. And that’s after writing off all the elevator rides that included Nick Fury after accidentally destroying something. Like a jet. Still, it felt like a lifetime before they were walking across to foyer to the front door. Betty walked outside and stood on the top step, waiting. Jo gently closed the door behind her and went to stand next to the female genius. The two of them looked out over the front yard, which was surprisingly large for Manhattan, in complete silence. Jo was just starting to get fidgety when Betty finally spoke.

“Do you remember your first?” The large muscles on either side of Jo’s spine tensed, but she kept a smile on her face.

“My first what?” A person has a lot of firsts.

“The first man you ever loved. Not some childhood crush, but real love?”

“Yeah, sure. I was twenty and angry at the world, and he was a cocky asshole that kept making me laugh. You might have heard of him, goes by the name Johnny Storm?” Jo glanced at the woman from the corner of her eyes, but she didn’t react at all. Eh, Jo probably wasn’t the only girl who had Johnny Storm as a first love.

“My first was a scientist, a brilliant scientist, that just had to be a hero. Would you have liked him then? Before?” She was talking about Bruce; of course she was talking about Bruce. The good little scientist that shooed some idiot away from a gamma bomb and then got hit himself.

“I don’t know, I didn’t know him then. I like who he is now, so that should count for something. Do you like him now?”

“I’ll always love Bruce. You always love your first, don’t you?” Betty met her eyes, and Jo saw Johnny’s laughing blue eyes. Still, the two situations don’t compare. Jo’s read Bruce’s file, and Betty’s for that matter. The two were together for years; they were each other’s first everything, if Jo is picking up on Betty’s thoughts just right. What she and Johnny had, all those years ago, was a strong mix of lust and obsession that can easily be mistaken for love. She does still care for the idiot though.

“Yeah, I guess so, but that isn’t what I asked you.” Betty looked away from her, and Jo went back to checking out the scenery. It’s getting late now; the sun’s starting to set, and the sky is lit up with pretty colors. (JARVIS informed her that Tony and Pepper took Steve and Maria out to dinner, to celebrate Maria’s good health. She really hopes they can see this sunset.)

“I trust the Hulk. He saved us, and I know the Hulk wouldn’t hurt me. Do you like them both? I don’t know if I could, if Bruce let me in again. I’m not sure if I could ever really accept the Hulk.”

“It’s just Hulk. I don’t call you the Betty, do I?” Maybe Jo’s tone was a little sharper than intended, and she didn’t turn her head when she felt Betty’s eyes boring against the side of her face.

“You really do like them both.” It was said with a kind of wonder that made Jo’s skin itch, and she absently noted the way her nails pulled against the bare skin of her thighs. Maybe she shouldn’t have worn the shorty shorts.

“Don’t tell Bruce, but Hulk is my favorite. What can I say? The big guy gives a mean cuddle. You still love Bruce despite the fact that Hulk’s inside of him, right?” Jo wasn’t focusing or actively searching, but she could feel the thought just the same. It might be because of how hyper-focused she was on hearing Hulk’s name inside of the woman’s mind.

“You already know the answer.” Which was a yes, and it just goes to show that geniuses can be a little dumb sometimes.

“That’s the difference between us, Ross. You still love him despite; I like him all the more because of Hulk. Hulk isn’t some monster that popped up one day because of some experiment gone wrong; Hulk is Bruce and Bruce is Hulk. I know you two can probably make it all complicated with your science babble, but it’s really simple to me. It’s just one person with two different names,” Jo shrugged.

“You’re good for him.” It was whispered, and Jo just snorted. She’s not perfect, far from it, but she still isn’t letting him go. Not until he asks her to.

“He deserves it,” was what she said.

“Yes, he does. Take care, Holbrook.” Jo watched her go, and the gate was closing when the front door opened. Darcy and Thor stood on either side of her, and Jo’s neck popped when she turned her head to look at both of them. Huh, maybe she’s a little tense.

“Before you go back inside, we may have asked JARVIS to eavesdrop,” Darcy confessed.

“Only to ensure that we were not needed,” Thor added. Did they think she was going to beat up Bruce’s ex? Yeah, she had a moment of insecurity, but she isn’t crazy.

“Also, you hooked up with Johnny Storm?!” Darcy’s eyes were bright when she looked over, and Jo lightly nudged her elbow against the younger woman.

“It was forever and a day ago, when I was still young and stupid.” Darcy was still laughing when she felt Thor’s hand on her shoulder, and she looked up at the resident god.

“Bruce is waiting inside. You should go to him,” Thor said with a gentle smile.

“Because we’re going to get ice cream!” Darcy cheered. Jo stood on the porch to watch them walk away, arm in arm, and it was a beautiful scene. For a moment, Jo wished she was good at drawing so that she could capture the innocent joy in Darcy’s smile and the setting sunlight in Thor’s hair. Maybe if she describes it to Cap, he’ll be able to draw it. (He told her about his drawings, about how hard it was to start again after coming out of the ice, but he’s making progress.)

Alright, no more stalling. Jo took a deep breath and turned back towards the house. She ducked back inside, and she braced her back against the closed door as Bruce’s eyes met hers. He obviously heard her little convo with Betty, so what’s she supposed to do now? She’s not apologizing for that small snap at Betty; the genius deserved it for messing up Hulk’s name like that.

“So, fun day all around, right?” Jo asked with a too wide grin. She knew it was too wide because those lines were between Bruce’s brows again; the ones that she always wants to smooth out with kisses.

“I apologized for running away without a word, and for not trying to get in touch with her once I was…once I didn’t have to run anymore. I told her about meeting Dizzy and talking to Hulk. Betty’s always been a good listener and very forgiving; it was nice talking to her again.”

“I’m glad you two got to talk it out then. You know I’m okay with you two talking, right? I am once hundred percent completely okay with it.” Relationships are built on trust; she’s pretty sure she read that in a magazine somewhere, and it makes sense. She trusts Bruce.

“No, I know, and thanks for that. It’s just, I always thought Betty was at least okay with Hulk.” Right, the weird conversation she just had with her boyfriend’s ex while he listened in. She was hoping they were going to pretend it never happened.

“She is! She wasn’t lying about trusting him. I would know,” Jo said and gently tapped the side of her head.

“What you said, you weren’t lying? About…us?” For a second, Jo thought he was talking about the two of them before realizing that he meant himself and Hulk.

“Yeah, sorry, Hulk is my favorite. His cuddles are the stuff of legend, and his bedtime stories are the best.” Her smile was actually real this time, and she didn’t even care that her natural smile was a little crooked.

“I’m going to kiss you now. Okay?” Jo’s heart didn’t do that storybook thing where it skipped a beat, but her chest did tighten a bit as heat rushed to her head. She felt a little dizzy and was glad there was a door behind her keeping her up.

“That is so okay.”

Bruce’s kiss was so hard that the back of her head hit the door, but she was not going to let something so small slow her down. Her fingers instantly reached up to pull on his hair, to give him that porcupine look that made her weak in the knees, as her lips parted under his. It was getting hard to breathe, but Jo couldn’t pull away. Not when Bruce’s tongue was tracing equations on the roof of her mouth while his hands were everywhere. The tank top she was wearing, which thankfully had a good built-in bra, was roughly pushed up. She managed to wiggle enough to get her arms out, but she couldn’t pull away. The top was left around her neck, but she was okay with that. Really. As long as Bruce finished pulling her shorts off, she was completely okay with wearing her top as a scarf.

“Do you want me to stop?” Jo’s eyes popped open, and Bruce’s pupils were so big that she could only see a small ring of brown.

“Never,” she smiled. Her hands traced the width of his shoulders before moving to his collar, and she made sure to hold his gaze as she ripped his shirt open. She vaguely heard buttons echoing off the floor, but she was more focused on the teeth pulling at her bottom lip. Fingers scrambled against the button of his pants, and Jo groaned as she tore at his zipper. Why were clothes so complicated? They should just stay naked, all the time. A happy sigh slipped into Bruce’s mouth as she finally pushed his pants off his hips, and the sound changed into a squeal as she was suddenly lifted into the air.

The thing about Bruce was that his alter-ego was nine feet tall and built like an adamantium fortress, so people tended to see him as small. Next to Hulk, everyone is small, but Bruce isn’t a pushover. His hands were big and rough, and he used his grip on her thighs to effortlessly pick her up and press her back even harder against the door. Jo’s fingers pulled at his hair as she waited, and she had to bite back a whine when Bruce pulled away from her. His lips drug across her neck to her shoulder, and she twisted and arched so he could have more access to her skin.

“You sure?” It sounded more like a growl, and Jo smiled even though the grip his teeth had on her shoulder should have been painful.

“Always such a gentleman. Yes, I’m sure. C’mon, Bruce, please.” His teeth were still buried in her shoulder when he entered her, and Jo’s mind flashed to those stupid romance books. This was the part where the woman screamed and finally felt complete. Jo didn’t scream, but that clichéd completeness was almost accurate. Bruce stilled against her, giving her time to adjust, because that’s the kind of man he is. Even though he was shaking as he held himself back, he wanted to make sure that she wasn’t in any pain. Silly Bruce, tanks don’t feel pain. She tightened her thighs to pull him just that little bit closer and nipped the top of his ear, and Bruce took it as the signal that it was.

Their first time was so slow and gentle that it was almost torture, and this time was the exact opposite. Jo’s back scraped against the door with Bruce’s rough thrusts, and she could already feel the bruises forming under his fingers on her thighs. Fingers pulled and scratched at skin, teeth left marks over freckles and tense muscles, and it was still somehow perfect. The sound of the shaking door, skin sliding against skin, and shaky gasps filled and echoed in the room. Jo thought it was the most beautiful thing she’d ever heard. This time she came with a scream of Bruce’s name, and she felt the groan of her own name against the tender skin of her shoulder as Bruce fell apart against her.

Jo felt like a statue made out of jelly, so she wasn’t sure how Bruce was still on his feet. He was though and still holding her up as well. She tightened her legs and loosened her arms, and she let her head fall back against the door as she tried to catch her breath. Bruce’s labored breathing was drying the sweat on the side of her neck and making her shiver in the best possible way, and she wished there was a way to save these moments and relive them. Because this? This was one of the things that made life worth living. Not just the amazing sex that actually made her toes curl (who knew that was a real thing?), but the part after. Bruce’s hands were gentle as he ran them over her shuttering ribcage, and Jo can’t remember ever feeling so cared for. Not after.

“Okay?” Bruce breathed against her.

“That was amazin’. Are you ever gonna stop surprisin’ me?” Jo realized that she sounded a little drunk, but being with Bruce did that to her.

“Will you go on a date with me?” Jo’s laugh was sharp and sudden, and she felt Bruce’s laugh joining her own as he shook against her.

“And the surprises keep comin’. I would love to go on a date with you, Bruce, but it’ll have to be tomorrow. I’ve already made a promise for tonight.” Bruce pulled away from her skin, and Jo smiled once she got to see his pretty brown eyes again. Because they were pretty. Sometimes they were dark like chocolate and other times they were warm like his honeyed tea.

“You still want to hear a bedtime story?” Jo idly pulled on one of his curls, gently, and nodded. Her sweaty back was still pressed against the front door and she could still feel Bruce inside of her, but she felt oddly shy. Geeze, this man was good at tying her up in knots.

“Of course. I promised,” she shrugged. Bruce’s smile was small and grateful and fuckin’ beautiful, and Jo wished they had the energy to go another round. She sighed as Bruce pulled her farther up his body, separating them, and held her closer. She nuzzled against his hair as he carried her to the elevator and proved all of her theories about Bruce Banner being pretty damned strong all on his own, and she felt…she felt…happy.


Hulk let his voice fade away once he was sure that Jo was asleep. He’d read Where The Wild Things Are so many times that he had the story perfectly memorized, and Jo was asleep halfway through the second retelling. Hulk lifted his head to look down, and he and Bruce both smiled at Jo’s sleeping form. Hulk was stretched out on the roof, so they could look at the stars while Hulk read the story, and Jo was curled up on his stomach with her head on his chest. Her hair was down and still wet from the shower she took earlier with Bruce, and Hulk gently touched a finger against the soft strands.

“Hulk, is something wrong?” The big guy was quiet, and Bruce could feel the other half of himself struggling with something inside of their shared mind.

“I feel…” Hulk let his words die out, because he didn’t know how he felt. It wasn’t something that he understood. It was close to what he felt for Betty, like when they shot at her, but somehow more. It was confusing.

“You feel something for Jo. That’s normal, Hulk. She’s been very good to you.” Before, Bruce’s voice both annoyed and scared Hulk. Annoyed because Bruce was always out of the dark and always talking, and scared when Bruce tried to fight him and push him back into the dark. Now, Bruce’s voice calmed and settled him. Neither one of them had to go into the dark anymore.

“Jo is ours.” Bruce’s quiet laugh filled their mind, and Jo stretched out of the ball she was in and rolled onto her back. Still fast asleep with Hulk’s finger touching her hair.

“Yes, I guess she is.” Her head turned so that Hulk could easily see the fading bruise on her shoulder that wasn’t quite covered by the tank top strap, and Hulk knew the mark was from Bruce. He understood their physical relationship but had no desire for that kind of relationship. He understood but didn’t want.

“We’ll keep her safe and take care of her.” Hulk needed the emotional aspects of a relationship, the acceptance and the kindness that came with it. He needed all the things he’d been denied before.

“We will.” Hulk huffed and looked up at the sky, while Jo slept peacefully. Inside his mind, Bruce went still and looked with him.


Tony stepped out onto the roof and looked around, and he shook his head at the scene. One of the giant blue mats from the gym was spread out across the roof with a blanket on it, and Hulk was fast asleep on the makeshift mattress. Jo was stretched out on top of the giant green torso, and Hulk had one hand on her back. They looked peaceful, with nothing but the moonlight highlighting their features. Darcy and Thor caught them all up on the day’s events, and everyone had mixed reactions. Steve had looked protective at the thought of Jo doubting herself, but Maria reassured him that all women are subjected to at least one moment of weakness. Darcy and Thor then told them about the conversation they eavesdropped on, which made Tony feel better. Of course Jo is better for Bruce than anyone, even Betty Ross.

“They look sweet,” Pepper whispered. He could feel the warmth of her cheek pressing against his shoulder, and he reached back to wrap an arm around her waist. Going out to dinner with her, and Steve and Maria, was fun.

“The Hulk and The Tank. Should turn that into one of those Harlequins Jo loves so much.” Pepper lightly swatted at his chest, and he laughed as he grabbed her slim fingers in his. He pressed a kiss to her knuckles, because he could, and he felt her pulling on him.

“Let them sleep.”

“Does that mean we can go to bed and not sleep?” After all this time, Pepper still blushes just a little whenever he propositions her. It’s one of the many things he loves about her.

“Well, you were on your best behavior today. I guess that deserves some kind of reward.” It was said with a smile that made his chest tight, and he smiled back as they moved towards the door of the roof. He looked over his shoulder one last time, saw the sleeping faces of his bodyguard and friend, and followed after Pepper.


Jo woke up slowly bathed in warmth with her cheek pressed against her favorite hairy chest. That thought should have been weird, but she’s feeling too good to care. Bruce was warm and solid beneath her sprawled body, and the sun was warm on her back. Wait, the sun…why was the sun on her? Jo stretched as she woke up a little more and let her eyes open, and she felt Bruce’s fingers combing through her hair. As she stretched, she realized that Bruce was just in a pair of Hulk shorts and that they were still on the roof. Huh, she knew she fell asleep on the roof, but she was pretty sure that Hulk was reading to her then.

“Mornin’,” she husked out. Her voice was still sleep rough, but it wasn’t any worse than usual.

“Good morning.”

“I guess Hulk fell asleep too?” She moved her knees onto either side of Bruce’s hips and listened to her spine pop as she straightened. There was something about straddling a nearly naked Bruce on a rooftop that made her feel like today was going to be a good day.

“Mhmm.” Bruce’s hair was sticking up in her favorite porcupine pattern, and she flattened her hands against his stomach to keep from reaching for it.

“And why aren’t you naked?” Bruce’s smile was wicked as his hands reached up under her tank top to slide across her ribs, and she leaned back into the sensation.

“Why aren’t you?” Fuck, he looked so relaxed and carefree laying in the sunlight. She could feel him pushing against her, and Jo smiled at the feeling of lazy desire curling in her stomach and tensing her thighs.

“I’m sure somethin’ can be arranged,” she smiled. Together they worked on stripping off her tank top, and Jo gave a quick roll of her hips before surging to her feet. Bruce made quick work of his shorts, and Jo carefully balanced herself on the blanketed mat as she tugged her pants off. Bruce laughed as she made a show of twirling her pants around her head before sending them flying through the air, and the soft sound of it made her chest feel tight and touched her in all the right places. She was laughing with him as she settled herself on top of him, and his hands reached up to grab her hips as she immediately took him inside.

“Can we wake up like this every morning?” Bruce’s voice sounded a little strained as Jo lightly moved her hips, and she arched her back so she could brush their lips together.

“Naked on a rooftop?” She moved down to lick and nip at his neck, and she felt his hands tracing over the curve of her spine.

“Something like that,” he breathed out.

“I’m game if you are,” she mouthed against the shell of his ear. She’d love to wake up like this every morning, with Bruce’s soft laugh and rough hands. Jo’s body moved in slow rolls, and Bruce took his time letting his hands wander all over her body. From her tensing thighs to her blushing cheeks, because she can’t remember ever feeling so exposed. The sun is lighting up everything around them and making her hair stick to her sweaty back, and Bruce is letting her move as slowly as she wants. As gently as she wants, and she can feel something inside of her breaking open.

“Jo.” She let herself fall with a quiet sigh as Bruce gently held her face in his hands, and she collapsed against him to ride out the aftershocks. This man was going to be the death of her, and she was going to love every minute of it. And probably beg for more. Bruce’s arms crossed over her back, one under and one over her hair. His heartbeat was strong and steady against her temple, and Jo just let herself go boneless against him. Bruce could hold her until she pulled herself back together.

“I need eggs,” she huffed out. Bruce shifted under her to run a hand across the top of her head, and Jo peeked up at him.


“With hot sauce. Lots of hot sauce.” Bruce smiled, and Jo leaned up to kiss the underside of his chin. It was the best she could do, since her body was mostly ignoring her for the moment.

“Let’s go get breakfast.”

After a shared shower, Jo slipped on one of his button-ups and a pair of loose denim shorts before heading downstairs. Bruce needed to check on something in the lab and move the mat back to the gym (the blanket back to his room), so he promised he’d join her soon and then rode the elevator up. There were a few things that he needed to check on, which he did, but he spent most of the next ten minutes talking to JARVIS and setting up reservations for dinner tonight. Their relationship was a little backwards, but Jo deserved a dinner that she didn’t have to cook. (Or supervise while Steve cooked.) They could both use a night out too, and JARVIS knew all the best restaurants in town. Once that was done, he dropped off the mat and blanket in his room. He wanted to see Jo, and there’s plenty of other mats down in the gym.

The elevator opened on the fifth floor, the floor right under his, and hazel eyes met his as Clint stepped onto the elevator. The assassins must be back from their mission. He pressed the button for the gym, and he’s carrying one of his bows. Looks like one of the ones that Tony’s been working on. Clint shifted a little on his feet, and Bruce lightly pulled on the bottom of his shirt. He’s never heard the archer this quiet, and he can feel Clint looking at him. Just before the elevator stopped at the first floor, Clint pressed the hold button. Bruce could feel his eyes widening, just the tiniest bit, as he looked over at him.

“Josie’s been my friend nearly a decade now, and I don’t give a flying fuck if you can turn green. Break her heart and I’ll kick your ass. Got it?” Clint’s face was completely serious, and Bruce slowly nodded his head.

“If I ever hurt her, I won’t turn a single shade as you kick my ass.” Clint’s face stayed neutral for all of two seconds and then he was laughing with his head thrown back. A steady hand slapped against his shoulder, which made Bruce stumble forward just a little, as Clint used his other hand to get the elevator to open.

“I knew I liked you. Take care of her, Bruce.” He stepped off the elevator and turned to face the archer, who was still smiling. “And you both missed breakfast, so she’s probably in the kitchen. Oh! No kitchen sex! I eat there sometimes!”

Bruce didn’t have time to reply before the elevator doors closed again, and he quickly scrubbed a hand through his hair. That was…strange, but he’s pretty sure that he has Clint’s blessing. He knows that he doesn’t really need anyone’s blessing to date Jo, she’s her own person, but it’s nice to have support. He knows that Tony approves and is happy for them, which is really good since him and Jo are so close. Yesterday showed him that Thor and Darcy are happy about them being together. Clint’s the first one to state it so bluntly though.

Bruce heard the soft music before he reached the kitchen, and he stopped in the doorway to just watch. Jo was standing at the stove, with a bottle of hot sauce sitting next to her, and swaying lightly to the beat. Her wet hair was in the braid he put it in, and he could just see the top of her spine tattoo as her hair moved with the rest of her body. The shirt she was wearing, his shirt, was missing the top few buttons so it hung open just a little. Bruce couldn’t see that from where he was standing, but he had a nice long look before they separated earlier.

“And opening up has always been the hardest thing, until you came.”

Bruce’s hands slipped under the loose shirt so he could lightly hold her hips, and Jo leaned back against him as the hand not holding the spatula pressed against one of his. Her hips continued to move in a slow sway as she scrambled eggs, and Bruce’s body was forced to move with hers. He wasn’t a dancer, but he could get used to the way Jo’s body moved against his. He could get used to seeing her in his clothes and the smell of her orange shampoo. Jo raised a fork that Bruce hadn’t noticed earlier, and he bent forward to take the eggs. Jo gently knocked her head against his, shook some hot sauce onto some of the eggs, and took a big bite.

They ate eggs straight from the pan in front of the stove, some with hot sauce and some sprinkled with salt and pepper. Jo shared her giant mug of iced water to help wash their breakfast down, and Bruce couldn’t remember ever doing something like this before. No words were said, because none were needed. Jo was warm and soft where she was pressed against him, and she kept her left hand firmly tangled with his as she fed him with her right. It was a little tricky sometimes, and she held the handle of the fork between her teeth to add in their egg enhancements, but it worked. Throughout it all, she moved gently against him and kept his body moving right along with her as the soft music kept playing.

“I’m falling fast, but the truth is that I’m not scared at all. You climbed my walls.”

Falling…Bruce wasn’t in love with Jo, it was still too soon for that, but he was so close. So close that he probably should be scared, because happiness wasn’t something that he was used to. It was worse after the gamma bomb, but there was always something missing before then too. But Jo…she listened to him talk about his childhood and believed that he deserved happiness. She let his monstrous other half read her bedtime stories and looked at him sometimes like she couldn’t believe he was real. Like she was the lucky one.

“This feeling, I’m feeling, is something I’ve never known.”

Even before Hulk, Bruce kept his emotions under control. He’d seen what anger could do to a man, had felt what it could do, and he never wanted to be like that. So he ran and hid metaphorically before learning how to do it literally. He loved Betty…oh, how he loved Betty…but he’d always been afraid of giving too much of himself away. He always held back, but he wasn’t holding back now. He didn’t even know if he could hold back anymore, and he didn’t want to.

“And I just can’t take my eyes off you.”
♠ ♠ ♠
There was a lot of Bruce/Jo in this chapter. Doesn’t it just make you giddy? It makes me giddy, but that could be the eggnog. Don’t drink and fanfic, kids.

Okay, I know that General Ross has been promoted to Secretary of State. I’m keeping him as a general for this story, so that SHIELD can have some say-so about who he can go after. Also, Thor is a genius. A giant, genius, ray of sunshine. The little quote at the top of the story doesn’t really have anything to do with the chapter; I saw it on Pinterest and I just thought it was beautiful.

Song Used: Can’t Take My Eyes Off You by Lady Antebellum

So! I hope that everyone liked the chapter, because I really enjoyed writing the progression of Jo and Bruce’s relationship. One last thing, HAPPY HOLIDAYS!