1990/Midnight Snack

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Midnight Snack
Date of Scene: 07 June 2020
Location: Avengers Mansion - Kitchen
Synopsis: Natasha returns from her mission abroad to find Bruce burning the midnight oil.
Cast of Characters: Bruce Banner, Natasha Romanoff

Bruce Banner has posed:
It's late. In that nebulous space where the precise hour means very little and all time is classified as 'dark' and 'after midnight'. The support staff who usually keep the Avengers Mansion up and running have gone home for the evening, and the early shift isn't due for a while yet. The corridors are dark save for the dim light that prevents any toe-stubbing, and the whole atmosphere is one of still and quiet save from the ceaseless bustle of Manhattan filtering in from over the fences.

In the kitchen, however, there is the dull hum and thud of the refrigerator door being opened and closed. A moment later there's dry rustling, followed by the cascade of cereal being poured into a bowl. Then milk. Then the fridge opens and closes once more.

Banner sits on one of the stools at the kitchen counter, yesterday's Daily Planet opened up before him. He holds a plastic bowl of cereal in one hand and a spoon in the other, peering down through his glasses at the print on the page. From time to time he brings the spoon to his mouth, lumped high with that boring brown bran-centric cereal with nary a grain of sugar to be seen.

Natasha Romanoff has posed:
    Agent Romanoff had been a bit of a ghost the past week or so. It's not uncommon for her to be whisked away on one mission or another, though she usually doesn't vanish long enough for people to start taking odds on whether she's dead or not.
    So it is a fairly typical irritation or relief, depending on your perspective, that one hears her gentle composed voice call out. "Don't jump. I'm behind you."
    She hadn't made a sound before then, but the next second you see her move around the kitchen counter in full Black Widow uniform, red-lensed goggles dangling from her belt, as she makes a straight line for the fridge.

Bruce Banner has posed:
"I'll try to contain myself," Banner replies with a dry deadpan tone, not lifting his eyes from the article he's currently reading. Something about unusual lights seen over the Siberian wilderness. He takes another mouthful of cereal, crunching it down mutedly and still without looking up.

As Natasha moves around the counter, he raises his eyes, watching her over the top of his glasses. He himself is dressed in one of the surplus Avengers t-shirts that Tony had brought to the mansion as part of the merchandising drive. Below that, a pair of checkered pajama bottoms and fluffy bunny slippers in greyish blue.

"How was visiting wrath and ruin upon our nation's enemies?"

Natasha Romanoff has posed:
    Natasha rummages around for a moment, resorting to the lowest shelf as she distractedly replies, "I'm sure I don't know what you're talking about." in a perfectly innocent conversational voice. "And if I *were* to engage in such lunacy, it would almost certainly be..." Natasha stands up and turns around to face you, shutting the fridge door with the heel of her boot. "... classified." She finishes very blandly, her face a complete blank.
    More tellingly, though, the object she settled on appears to be a can of beer. American even. So... that kind of outing. The kind that appears to have left the fading remnant of a cut over her brow.
    She doesn't act any worse for wear, though, as she takes a seat across from - and one seat to the left of - Bruce, eyeing the can and giving what appears to be some kind of pre-emptive wince before she cracks it open, looking like someone who knows they're going to have to give themselves an injection. Perhaps to delay this first drink, Natasha asks, "What's kept you up?"

Bruce Banner has posed:
"I don't do a lot of sleeping," Banner answers, "Something about being on a cocktail of benzodiazepines means I don't burn a lot of calories doing things like worrying or, you know, moving. To wit, I don't need much sleep. Speaking of ... "

On cue, the simple store-bought digital wristwatch he wears begins to beep in a muted tone. He glances down at it, taps the button to silence it, then rises off the stool with the slight groan of someone who isn't really allowed to undertake the same strict physical fitness regimen as the rest of the Avengers for safety's sake.

A small black toiletries bag sits on the other end of the counter and he moves to pick it up. The zip is undone, and he upends it, several white pill bottles falling out and clattering on the stone. He looks through them for a moment, shaking one that turns out to be empty, before finally selecting one marked 'clonazepam' and tipping a pair of pills into his palm. He brings them to his mouth before leaning his head under the kitchen faucet and turning it on, swallowing down a mouthful of water before shutting it off again.

As he moves back to the chair he pauses, leaning in close to peer at the traces of the cut above her brow.

"You want me to look at that?"

Natasha Romanoff has posed:
    Natasha nods slowly, only saying, "... Right." She doesn't often need to eb reminded of Bruce's... circumstances; but the fine details of it do occasionally prompt surprise and... concern, among other things.
    When Bruce roots around for the pills, Natasha allows herself to feel a faint stab of pity; though you wouldn't know it to look at her face, staying mostly blank as her eyes wander down to the can held between her hands. Suddenly american beer doesn't sound like it's that much to wince about, and she takes a sip.
    She was half right.
    "Mmm?" Natasha arches her brow at Bruce's question, and the pain that results tells her what he's talking about before she asks. She sets the can down and squints slightly. "Why? Is it bad?"
    Which is Nat for: go ahead.

Bruce Banner has posed:
Bruce tilts his head back to peer through his glasses at the cut on Natasha's forehead, eyes lidding and mouth slightly open with an expression of focused concentration. When he speaks, its with that distant tone of a doctor only half-hearing the question but answering it anyway.

"It's not great," he offers, lifting his hands and unabashedly pushing a strand of red hair out of her forehead. There's nothing particularly gentle about it, more like an engineer trying to clear the way so he can get a better look at a clogged carburetor. He presses his thumbs to either side of the cut, drawing the skin taut and squinting at the wound.

"You cleaned it, at least," he muses, "I'm glad you don't subscribe to the whole 'rub some dirt on it' philosophy. Unless it's a natural clay, I guess. Then you'd have to filter out the mercury, arsenic - whatever else you find in dirt. Cadmium."

The last few words are obscured by a yawn, which prompts him to take a step back from her and cover his mouth with a fist. Still looking bleary he waves a hand, pointing a finger at her: "Stay there."

Moving towards one of the cabinets, opening it and pulling out one of many first aid kits stored around the mansion. He moves it over to the counter, unlatching it and beginning to ferret around inside.

Natasha Romanoff has posed:
    Natasha puts on a small frown, closing the eye beneath the cut as you inspect it, ignoring the impulse to physically react to the pain. She shrugs her shoulders very slightly and says, "You only use dirt when it's closer than the antiseptic." A bemused look comes to her face as Bruce yawns and moves away, and she crosses her arms on the kitchen counter.
    "Guess those eyebrow tweezers were worse than I thought." She muses, amusing herself by poking at the paper thin veneer of deniability she bothers to keep up around people who know her business, even if they aren't always allowed to know the details. "... Lucky I had a receipt." She says, her voice ever so subtly darker.
    Ha ha! It's funny because she probably killed someone.
    Or, wait, the opposite of that.

Bruce Banner has posed:
Banner doesn't look up when the joke is made, continuing to dig through the contents of the first aid kit. He mutters to himself as he does; a stream of consciousness about first aid, then biology, then atomic chemistry. Finally, he comes away with a bandage - a small, rectangular plastic in blue spotted with yellow smiley faces.

"Not exactly ... deadly and intimidating," he muses, peeling off the backing, "But ne eligat is qui donum accipit, right?"

He cannot help but grin at his own nigh-unintelligible joke, chuckling under his breath. As he does, he sticks the bandage carefully down over the cut. He's careful about when he does, making certain not to catch her eyebrow beneath the sticky backing.

Once he's done, he leans back to admire his handiwork: "Not bad for a med school dropout, hm?"

Natasha Romanoff has posed:
    Natasha squints very subtly as the design of the bandaid is made apparent, but doesn't complain or move away. The corner of her lip twitches as Brucespeaks, her blue eyes turning upward to where it's being applied, as if she could see it somehow. She looks... very slightly silly.
    All the same, she gives a soft huff of a laugh at Bruce's conclusion, her expression a bit wry as she answers, "Nemo non territis ostentat." in latin, idly tapping the bandaid with two fingers and sighing, "Thank you, Doctor."

Bruce Banner has posed:
"Lingua mea ejus terror," says Banner in return, raising both hands in front of himself as though in surrender, "Now, no more Latin. I only learned enough to make taxonomy puns at a cute biology major in my sophomore year and it didn't work then."

The job done, he turns back to the first aid kit and begins to pack it up. When it is once again clasped shut, he returns it to the cabinet. He takes one more glance at his handiwork on Nat's forehead before he moves back around to the counter, moving his spoon in the cereal bowl and sighing.

"Ugh, it's gone all soggy ... " There's a note of tension in his voice, a firmness to his jaw.

Then he glances up at her, as though realizing how it may look, and doing his best at a reassuring smile which seems wholly uncharming. Not all scientists are dashing mountains of charisma, it seems.

"I'm fine, though," he checks his watch, "Sixty-four BPM."

Natasha Romanoff has posed:
    Natasha puts on a bit of a smile and nods, "That's fine. We're about at my limit, anyway." She lies with good cheer. Rule number six of spycraft: Seem unthreatening.
    Technically the Hulk's seen her kill more enemy combatants than Banner has.
    She slowly raises her eyebrows at Bruce's consternation and replies, "I was going to say." She'd add that 'code green probably needs a higher threshold', but... something about turning conversations to the Hulk feels a little bit antagonistic.
    And making sure Banner can keep a lid on things IS part of her job, even if she's never gone down the list with the Avengers.
    'Liason' and all that.
    Natasha sighs the words, "Heeeere, I'll trade you." She says, and unceremoniously steals his bowl away, sliding it away from him even as she wheels her chair around and throws open some cupboards, assembling the materials to make another, noting, "I'm starving anyway." As if some justification needs to be thrown out there to quash any protests. A bowl gets filled. milk is given a sidelong look, and then both are deposited in front of Banner. "Don't know how particular you are about the amount." she explains, and lets Banner handle that part.
    Spoon in bowl. Mmm. Secondhand soggy cereal.
    She's had worse.

Bruce Banner has posed:
"That's disgusting," Banner muses as he watches Natasha deposit the fresh bowl in front of him and dig into his own half-eaten pile of mush. But even as he says it, there's a faint, bemused smile on his face. He regards the milk for a moment before he upends it, dropping only a relatively small amount that sinks through to the base of the bowl before he sets it off to the side.

He eats in silence for a little while, closing the newspaper and then resting the bowl once more in the palm of his hand to reduce the travel time of the spoon. It's after several mouthfuls that he finishes one off and then glances up at her, evidently musing over what to say next. In the end, he just goes with something simple.


Natasha Romanoff has posed:
    "Mnf." Natasha grunts softly and swallows, before saying "Disgusting is relative. After your second or third foreign prison tour, certain things start looking like delicacies."
    When did she tour prisons?
    Natasha tilts her head slightly and replies with a simple. "'Welcome."

Bruce Banner has posed:
"I've eaten at some pretty disgusting diners," Banner admits, "No foreign prisons yet, though. Fingers crossed."

He deposits his spoon back in the bowl to hold up a pair of crossed fingers and then picks it up again, taking another bite. Finally, something occurs to him and he gives her a thoughtful look.

"Are you going to have to start staying up nights to keep an eye on me?"

Apparently he has picked up on the fact that she's there to keep an eye on him.

Natasha Romanoff has posed:
    Natasha tilts her head very slowly, prolonging a round of chewinging and looking straight through Banner for a length of time that has made lesser men squirm and confess all their wrongdoings. She toys with the idea of lying to him, but... even if he can be a dope sometimes, one doesn't insult the intelligence of someone with a freakshow IQ.
    "Depends." She finally says. "If you stop sleeping in the same house as the next four strongest people on the planet..." she drags up another spoonful and brings it to her mouth while she says, "... or if you start spending a lot of time on web forums."
    Munch. Chew. Swallow.
    The bemused look on Natasha's face becomes a little distant as she says, "... I don't sleep that much, anyway."

Bruce Banner has posed:
"Well, if it helps any, I'm monitoring it. I have just as much interest in keeping him away as you do. It's not exactly a trip to Disneyland for me, either."

Banner's tone is vaguely bitter, but it isn't unusual. He lives with celebrities and deities and people who the world regard as great heroes. A lot of people look at him as, at best, a weapon and at worst a walking disaster area that needs to be jettisoned into space at the nearest possible convenience. It grates on him.

"Taking the medication the doctor ordered," he continues, "Not to mention - "

He trails off a little and decides he's better off not mentioning.

"I've got my Yoga class in the morning. Well, it's actually an instructional video since I can't go to a class, but it's just as good. You're welcome to join."

Natasha Romanoff has posed:
    Natasha's not blind to Bruce's frustrations, though she may not yet grasp the depths of it. She is almost incapable of looking up to anyone, of idolizing anyone or taking anyone else's idolization seriously. Though the Avengers are... more or less her friends, she still sees them in terms of attributes and liabilities. She still sees herself as apart from them; from most people, really. That Bruce - a heroic person if she'd ever known one - might resent his position compared to his peers is something that hasn't quite clicked in Natasha's head.
    But bitterness? She can hear that. And her chewing briefly becomes very deliberate as she watches Bruce with veiled concern.
    "Hmm." She grunts softly in response, eyeing him briefly when he hesitates. Though at Bruce's offer, Natasha seems bemused and leans back slightly. "... I might do that." She says, surprsingly; ever the distant one. "... I've fallen behind on that stuff anyway."

Bruce Banner has posed:
"It's not exactly advanced level stuff," Banner admits, his tone becoming lighter as he speaks, "But you're welcome to. I'm sure there's a spare mat lying around somewhere. They just move all the furniture and tables up against the wall in the rec room for me. I offered to do it, but ... "

But that'd get his heart rate up, and nobody wants that. He trails off, however, not bothering to go into that much detail. Natasha knows about his 'condition' enough to not need the recap.

"Anyway, I'll see you there."

He takes another mouthful of cereal before glancing down at the newspaper on the counter and sliding it over towards her.

"You want this? It's today's - well, I guess its yesterday's edition now. Daily Planet. I can't stand the Bugle - it's a rag."

Natasha Romanoff has posed:
    "See you then." Natasha echoes with a little smile; though she blinks down at the paper as it's presented to her. "Yyy...yesss..." she says very slowly as she slides it the rest of the way to her side of the counter and turns it around. "Need to catchup on that, too."
    The Bugle has its uses! Its own perspective. If you can sift through the ten or so pages worth of hysteria.
    ... Damnable missions keeping her out of the loop.