Something about the dead walking the streets has a way of keeping a fella up at night—not that Bruce Banner spent much of his limited time wasted on sleep in any case, though that night in particular had come with an added load. Perhaps it was the low wails that echoed in his ears from the last he'd checked on the reanimated corpse in the containment chamber, with audio, which was regrettably a mistake. Perhaps it was the unsettled nagging in his gut that, week after week, wondered if they should've been doing more. If getting 'settled,' and safe, should've been secondary concerns behind some measure of aiding the world they'd found themselves in -- a world that they had arguably come to regard as home, even for its potentiality, and however much the other guy continued to silently disagree.

It's these streams of thought that tend to lead back to the Avengers.

Bruce shakes his head.

The nagging, however, persists.

He rubs his eyes between thumb and index—almost dislodging a contact lens in the process—then blinks at the monitor in front of him, only mildly surprised to find the display bridging the connection to a private Avengers comms line.

[ ... ]

Ran into an asshat they call Joker. Would’ve taken him down outside the coffee shop but he was invisible and did this thing...I can’t explain it. People were dying, children were running around — he caught me off guard, dropped me in a cell at this fucked up asylum or prison. Fought and flirted my way out, and I’m fine. Stay inside.

Are you inside? Up for a cuppa tea?

I’m inside. Do you play Bejeweled? I just got double hypercubes. That’s cause for celebration.

I don't know what that is. You were supposed to ask if a cuppa Joe was being served instead...

He flinches, then double-taps in his low-key anxious way.

Where are you? I'll swing by.

It’s just a stupid game. My apologies, Joe. It seems my sense of humour has gone underground. I’m at the compound, in the comms room.

Bruce. In the movies here, we happen to be somewhat involved.

He appears in the compound's comms room behind her, arms raised in hopefully unalarming surrender.

“Don’t shoot.”


Natasha spins her chair around, legs crossed and a phone in her hand.

“So I’ve heard. Didn’t you leave my ass to sulk in space? Hardly seems wise.”

Without getting up, she nods at a nearby chair.

"Let's stick with first names for now." He offers a slight smile, barring the circumstances, glancing around the room with his technologically-equipped contact lenses as he approaches and takes the seat gestured to. "Next thing we know, you'd be frisking me... And, yes. If I'm not getting shot into space by our friends, I'm abandoning lovers in similar fashion."

“And here I was, briefly excited at the idea of letting off some steam without hitting up the combat simulator,” she grins cheekily, impossibly, pivoting in her chair to better face her company. “I’ll be Melissa. You can be Todd.”

"Well.." He clears his throat fairly noticeably before catching himself, adamant to not give super-spies any leg up on him...without the safety harnesses of combat simulations. "...I do hate getting in the way of others' early morning plans. Excite away? And if that's a popular culture reference, I'm clueless."

“It’s not.” Visibly amused, the phone drops into her lap and the assassin sits back, arms crossing over her chest. The Red Room was wrong — there were, in fact, men who were imprevious to her flirtations. “...a true gentleman would at least offer to make the tea you came for.”

Frankly, The Red Room had inarguably gotten most things on-point when it came to churning out the woman seated across from him, and Bruce averts his eyes towards a doorway (read: a much delayed exit strategy) -- redirecting his attentions as he nods with some presumable thoughtfulness. "Is there, uh.. A kitchen? Cafeteria? Situated distinctly away from simulators of all kinds..?"

Her brow furrows — he’s nervous. ...afraid, perhaps?. “Relax, Todd. It’s far more probable that I’ll sleep with you than take you down.” Her attention returns to the device in her hands, where a Daily Challenge has been paused. “Kitchen’s on the main floor.”

With a glance following hers, he rises from his seat, saying in equal parts jest and deadpan seriousness: "Relax, Natasha. It's those particular odds that I'm concerned about. I just don't quite see you putting all this fancy equipment in immediate jeopardy..." The mention of the tech around them snaps at his attention though, and he abruptly -- inadvisably abruptly -- reaches towards a monitor to draw up a projected touchpad. Stark tech, he inwardly scoffs. "You don't mind..?" He pauses before any further meddling. "A map. I.. I got lucky finding the comms room," he lies, quite plainly.

“Naked women turn you green, Bruce? That’s...interesting.” Her gaze doesn’t leave the phone, fingers swiftly lining up like-coloured gems in lines of varying sizes. “First of all, it’s cute that you’re trying to lie about getting lost — you and I are both aware that you wouldn’t come here without knowing the layout of the place, likely better than I do, and your tone suggests that you’re attempting to deceive. Why, I’m not sure — far as I’m concerned, big guy, you’ve got as much right as I do to be here. Considering your desire to stay out of the fight, though, nerdy curiosity aside, I’m not sure why you are.”

An eyebrow quirks, and green eyes peek up trough dark lashes. “Unfortunately, now I can’t trust you,” she sighs, pushing herself to her feet and tossing her phone on the empty seat. “C’mon. You’re coming with me. I’ll make it myself.”

"Who said anything about nudity? I'm sure you'd find your way around either with your clothes quite on." He's somewhat distracted by then, half-mumbling to the monitor that, as she speaks, flashes in response to a few deft single-handed keystrokes. An access code or three siphoned, a bug or four planted; y'know, just general nerdy stuff that he couldn't have done from his cave, nor had he thought it polite to do so while uninvited and without official surveillance present. "Consider yourself sufficiently taken advantage of," he shrugs a wry smirk as the collateral screen disappears, then nods a ladies first sorta gesture toward the door. "From this point forth, I'll follow your lead. You have my word."