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Title: What To Do When Your Boyfriend Is A Giant Green Rage Monster
Pairing: Tony/Bruce (background Tony/Pepper; i.e. consensual open relationship)
Rating: NC-17
Additional info: Romance, fluff, masturbation, handjobs, mild medical aspect, so much cuddling, somewhat cracky premise treated seriously, did I mention all the cuddling, my attempts at science
A/N: Written for the prompt: “Bruce still can't figure out how to have sex without Hulking out. After a few mishaps, Bruce refuses to do anything with him, and Tony gets really creative. To the science! For when your boyfriend is a rage monster". I… yeah. I sincerely apologize to anyone who actually knows how to science. (Also, I wrote a good bit of this like two years ago, and only finally completed it now, haha, whoooops; so the writing quality kind of definitely varies a bit).
Summary: He trails off, but it’s more than enough for Tony. It’s enough that Bruce looks just as frustrated as Tony feels. It’s enough to know that it’s not just Tony who’s desperate to make this happen – and when Bruce takes another step forward, still looking all manners of pissed off with himself, Tony can’t be bothered to care about how much of a sap he’s being. Curls his hands into the front of Bruce’s shirt – he’s fully dressed again, of course, in one of those criminally attractive fancy outfits that he’s so fond of – and tugs him in until Bruce’s head is resting against his shoulder, and his hands are tight on Tony’s back, warm through the thin material of his tank top.


(I promised this story to a friend a couple of years ago and then completely freaking forgot about finishing it until now. La la laaa, whoops.)

- - -

See, thing is. Tony’s been around a lot. Before Pepper, there had been a lot of others. Plenty of women, but a handful of men, too – it really didn’t much matter to him. As long as someone had been interested, and Tony had wanted them, too; then that had been enough. The one thing they’d had in common had been that they’d all just wanted to fuck. Oh, there might have been some cuddling, or some aftercare when things had gotten intense – but, still, it had just been sex. And Tony had been content with that. Had glorified in it, even. Sex was fun, and he liked making people feel good, without any kind of emotional complications – and, overall, it had been good.


Then Pepper had happened. Intelligent, beautiful, wonderful Pepper, whom Tony didn’t even come close to deserving, but who had somehow chosen him, anyway. Pepper had come along and knocked him on his ass and turned his world upside down; and Tony hadn’t wanted to touch anyone else since. He’d still looked, sure – he wasn’t blind, and when someone was attractive, he’d notice – but he’d rarely had the desire for more than that; and even if he had, it would have never happened. Pepper had filled a hole in his life that Tony wasn’t even aware of having, and he was damn well aware that he was pretty much the luckiest guy on the entire ridiculous planet.

Then, though – Bruce had come along. Bruce, with his deliberately soft voice, masking the inner creature that he so hated. Bruce, with his obscenely amazing brain; and Pepper – bless her heart – had taken note. Had paid attention to the way having Bruce come to stay at Stark Tower was good in every possible way for Tony, and had given him her blessing to do something about it – provided that Bruce was good with her hearing all the details later, of course. It had taken Tony some time, still – as much as he had wanted Bruce, the idea of being with someone other than Pepper hadn’t sat right – but she had encouraged him through his uncertainties, and – well. Tony had always kind of figured that Bruce wasn’t someone who’d be interested in casual fucking – not that Tony would have wanted that, of course; with Bruce, he wanted everything he could get – and he’d been pleased to learn that he was right. Had come to Bruce and put the offer on the table, which had then progressed into gradually negotiating a world in which Tony had both a girlfriend and a boyfriend; which, yeah, had definitely cemented his position as the luckiest guy on the entire damn planet.

- - -

The only issue, though, is the sex.

Or, rather, the lack thereof.

Because Tony wants Bruce. In every possibly way he can. And he’s pretty sure that it’s a mutual thing, what with how just a kiss from him can get Bruce shaking in good ways. The problem, though, is that any time they try for much more than that, well – a certain green giant tries to come out to play. Which, naturally, scares the hell out of Bruce – not so much Tony; and he thinks it has something to do with wanting to know all of Bruce, even the parts that terrify his boyfriend to the point of sending him running from the room – and always results in an end to any amorous activities. The furthest they’ve gotten has been both of them naked with Tony’s hand as low as Bruce’s stomach – only to have Bruce let out a not-at-all-human sound, turn a bit green, and push Tony away with an expression of such self-disgust it had been painful to look at.

It had not been good, needless to say – but Tony is incapable of letting something go. He knows that about himself, and he takes pride in it. When the world tells him that he can’t do something, he finds a way to do so. And if Bruce thinks that he’s never going to have sex again because he can’t keep his inner rage monster under control? Well. Tony is definitely going to have to figure out a way to prove him wrong.

- - -

His first thought is something that might function as some kind of anti-anxiety medication. If Bruce is truly always angry – a thought that makes Tony hurt inside, to the point that he’s barely able to breathe – then there’s a good chance that his constant anger could manifest as increased cortisol levels and screwed up serotonin and dopamine levels, along with overtaxed adrenal glands; and he spends a good amount of time doing research on every SSRI and anti-anxiety drug and PTSD treatment that he can find. In the end, though, he’s not quite sure that’s the best route for them to go, since the potential side-effects for so many of the drugs – including a drop in libido, which is the last thing either of them needs – is so long. Bruce isn’t a guinea pig, and the last thing Tony wants is to screw with his brain chemistry in a way that could be detrimental.

After that, he briefly considers weed or booze – something that might mellow Bruce out enough for him to relax – but it’s a thought that he dismisses just as quickly. Weed – for all that it’s known as the drug that chills people out – can often actually have the exact opposite effect; and alcohol, of course, can either increase someone’s mood, or pull out their darkest horrors – and, either way, he’s pretty sure they don’t want to go there, given how much Bruce absolutely hates being out of control in any way. He puts that idea away, then – sets it aside and keeps on planning. Sits up late into the night in front of his computer for days with only Jarvis to keep him company, as he tries to figure out something that will help Bruce keep his inner creature at bay.

- - -

In the end, he decides that he simply doesn’t have enough data – and considering what’s at stake, he really doesn’t want to be shooting in the dark. Which is why – once he has a brainwave that might actually help – once he remembers that Bruce gets himself off all the time without losing control, and that Tony could probably make use of those physiological details – he ends up with Bruce standing in front of him, staring at him like he’s actually certifiably lost his mind this time.

“You want me to –”

“Only if you want to.”

He’s not going to push. He’s never going to push.

“Tony –”

“It’s just one idea. I’ll have others, honest. If you don’t want to do this, that’s obviously completely okay –”

Bruce is already shaking his head. Looking a bit embarrassed, but kind of determined, as well.

“No, I – it’s a good idea. I want to know, too.”

His voice has a little waver to it, and Tony kind of has to kiss him.

Stands there, in the middle of their workshop, and kisses him soft and sweet until Bruce is all but melting against him. Keeps the rest of the day as calm as he can, and then – later that evening – Tony sets everything up, and makes the area as inviting as possible. Uses a room with a giant bed, and hauls in all the equipment. Turns the lights down low, and makes sure that Bruce has a mountain of blankets.

Bruce still looks unsure as he tugs off his shirt and sits down against said blanket mountain, though he doesn’t say a word of protest as he lets Tony connect the bits that need to be connected, until Bruce’s heartbeat is on display across a monitor – and then Tony pauses, for a moment, and thinks about how few times he’s actually been able to see his boyfriend even partially naked. Thinks of all the times they’d been pulling at each other’s clothes only for Bruce’s control to start slipping; and he makes a mental note that they’re more likely to get to the actual sex part of things if Bruce takes off his clothes himself, the way he had done tonight. Maybe something do with the control, or simply the lack of immediate physiological stimulation, or –

“I feel like an idiot.”

The catch in his voice hits Tony low in the gut, and he quickly leans in to kiss him. Keeps it gentle – the point is to not get him riled up, with Tony is still here – this is for Bruce to do – and then steps back, again. They had agreed that it would be best – in the interests of making the result as accurate as possible – if Tony wasn’t in the room for this. He’s going to force himself to go the other side of the tower and build things until Bruce eventually comes and finds him again.

“You don’t look like an idiot. You’re not an idiot. You’re wonderful. You’re the least idiot person I’ve ever known –”

“Tony.”

It sounds horribly fond, though, and Bruce is smiling at him; and Tony ducks his head on a grin, too. Steps back with a final squeeze of Bruce’s hand, and then makes himself run through the medical specifics of their set-up. He’ll be recording Bruce’s heartbeat and respiratory rate the entire time, and Bruce had earlier provided him with a blood and a urine sample for the measurement of his testosterone and cortisol levels, to be compared to Bruce’s post-orgasm physiological chemistry; and there’s really nothing that Tony can do now but make himself scarce.

“Feel free to mute that, if, you know, you don’t fancy hearing your heartbeat. And the lights, too – they’re on your voice command, if you want them out. Jarvis isn’t around. Nobody here but you.”

“Thank you.”

It sounds a little shaky, though, and Bruce is still looking far too fond for Tony to deal with; so he takes a deep breath, flashes what he hopes is an encouraging smile, and then hightails it out of the room as quickly as he can. Doesn’t stop until he’s on the other side of the tower – where he’d told Bruce to find him afterward – with his heart racing and his stomach full of stupid butterflies.

- - -

When Bruce eventually finds him again, Tony’s taken the time to grab a shower and a change of clothes – he’d needed to do something; because just sitting and waiting was going to drive him crazy – but that’s as far as he’s gotten. It’s been about an hour of him sitting in front of one of his computer monitors, staring at nothing and trying to not think about what Bruce’s doing upstairs, those stupid butterflies warring with concern as the minutes keep on ticking by; and by the time Bruce finally walks into the room, Tony’s on his feet instantly – but Bruce shakes his head, his expression pinching into something that looks like a mixture of annoyance and embarrassment.

“I – couldn’t. I tried.”

“Hey, it’s –”

“It was – too clinical. Too –”

“You could have just said –”

“I wanted to try. I want – data. The more data we have, the greater the chance that – that –”

He trails off, but it’s more than enough for Tony. It’s enough that Bruce looks just as frustrated as Tony feels right now. It’s enough to know that it’s not just Tony who’s desperate to make this happen – and when Bruce takes another step forward, still looking all manners of pissed off with himself, Tony can’t be bothered to care about how much of a sap he’s being. Curls his hands into the front of Bruce’s shirt – he’s fully dressed again, of course, in one of those criminally attractive fancy outfits that he’s so fond of – and tugs him in until Bruce’s head is resting against his shoulder, and his hands are tight on Tony’s back, warm through the thin material of his tank top.

“You want to figure this out too, then. Even if takes some doing.” Bruce’s only response is a nod against his shoulder, but it’s more than enough; and Tony tightens his grip. “Good. Two clever guys like us – I mean, shouldn’t be a problem. Especially with the whole, you know – mutual orgasms thing. Pretty solid goal. Honestly, the amount of time I’ve spent thinking up ways to get you off –”

The huff of laughter that Bruce makes sounds part amused and part turned on; and Tony can’t stop his smile, a stupid little pang swooping through his stomach, even as his heart kicks it up just a little bit faster. They’re gonna go curl up in Tony’s bed, now, and spend the night doing that thing where, no, they’re not cuddling, they’re just sleeping wrapped around each other; and then, in the morning, they’re gonna get up, and figure out the next step in this situation of theirs.

- - -

When Tony wakes up the next morning – he’d actually slept through the night, for once, which is all kinds of amazing – it’s to the sound of the shower running. Still mostly asleep, he stares at the bathroom door for a moment; before he closes his eyes and lets himself drift off again, actively enjoying that glorious place between waking and sleeping. It’s not until the bed dips down that he opens his eyes again – and then he very vehemently does not silently whimper at the sight of Bruce in nothing but a towel, his hair a soaking wet mess and – an expression that looks almost embarrassed, somehow, as he puts a hand on Tony’s hip and drops his eyes down to the blanket.

“I, um. Woke up this morning, and – gave it another go. Had – well. A bit more success, this time. Your medical records should all be there – heartbeat, respiratory rate, et cetera. And – before and after specimens are in the fridge, down in the lab. If there’s anything else you needed –”

Bruce doesn’t get the chance to finish, though, because Tony is tugging him down and brushing their lips together, his chest aching as Bruce kisses him back until Tony can barely breathe.

- - -

For two days, Tony stares at the results and tries to figure out where to go from here. Because as useful as the information is – as excellent as it is to know to which physiological lengths Bruce’s body can go without him automatically hulking out – he still doesn’t know whether it’s a mental thing or a physical thing that’s making Bruce lose it when he and Tony get naked. Whether it’s that Bruce hulks out only when he stops focusing on holding it together, and then loses control of his anger – or whether it’s that he loses it, period, in any situation that causes his body to mimics some of the physiological symptoms of anger, such as an increased heartbeat and a shift in body chemistry. Whether – as demonstrated by the fact that Bruce can get off on his own, without any issue – it’s the possibility of hurting Tony that’s ramping up Bruce’s body past the point of being able to cope; and Tony finally admits to himself something that he’s been doing his best to not think about for days. Something that’s probably going to make Bruce want to knock his head off.

Tony needs comparable data. He needs to know what Bruce’s body does when the other guy pays a visit.

For another whole day, he thinks about it. Tries to think of a way around it. Creates a special heart monitor – complete with crazy stretchy band, that might actually survive being strapped around the other guy’s arm – while trying to figure out how to bring up the subject with Bruce. And then – just when he’s in the midst of planning an elaborate scheme, in which he gives Thor a call up on Asgard, and then then the three of them head up to the middle of nowhere, Canada, and pin Bruce to the ground with Mjölnir while he hulks out, so that Tony can get comparable data without them putting anyone in danger – he gets his chance. Because New York gets attacked again – which, yeah, that’s so very fucking far from okay – but Tony knows how to make the best out of a bad situation, at least. Which is why he ends up explaining the plan at super speed, shoving the armband at Bruce even as pieces of Tony’s suit start coming flying at him – and he barely has time to see Bruce’s pained expression before the visor goes down and the tower gets rocked by some kind of explosion – and then Tony really doesn’t have time to worry about anything other than stopping this newest threat from leveling their city. He’s getting really sick of big bads thinking they have the right to stomp all over his little slice of Earth.

- - -

It’s only when the battle’s almost over that he realizes that Bruce is actually wearing the damn monitor. Is roaring and smashing baddies in every direction – and, incredibly, still wearing the damn thing; and Tony grins like a fucking idiot behind his visor and goes back to shooting bad guys off the sides of buildings, suddenly feeling like he’s flying in more ways than one.

- - -