|What: Bruce Banner is finally tracked down by S.H.I.E.L.D.. But will he go easy...?|
The day was winding down, in the clinic, with more successes. Some of the other doctors were starting to catch up to Bruce; perhaps encouraged by his skill, or jealous of it. Either way, things were starting to pick up here at the clinic.
Bruce was finishing up some last minute paperwork. Perhaps the worst part of this job. But, these things need to happen, to keep things in line. He did take a moment to pause, and wonder just how long these times would last. Something in him told him that any day now, any minute now, it could all end. The Sisters only have so much control. And now, he can only guess when they'll come.
If they are looking for him. And they most likely are. This was just a dream, and soon reality will come. That's what Bruce thought after he talked with Laura-how there are still those after him. And he could only hide here for so long, before it became necessary to run.
The thing is, Bruce is done running.
It has been an eventful couple days at SHIELD HQ. First, Barton and Harper encountered a previously unknown hostile faction, which happened to carry small napalm explosions in their chest. So while filing the report and looking for anyone to help identify just what the heck he and the new kid had run across, Clint tried to keep busy with having Harper run the known aliases of Bruce Banner, AKA the Hulk, in select cities that were feasible for him to have run to since his last known sighting in New York. He didn't really expect much, Banner has been surprisingly good at keeping his tracks covered. Just something to keep the rook busy with for a few hours.
Which is why Clint was so surprised when an alias did hit. David Smith, in a clinic in Gotham City.
Cut to an hour later, and Clint and Roy being dropped by air shuttle around a half mile north of the Clinic, approaching in civilian garb. There is back-up in the shuttle, in case they need it. A lot of back-up. But seeing how Barton got point on this, he is going to try the diplomatic approach first. As he reaches the door of the clinic, he glances towards Roy with a steely glare. "Remember: no good cop bad cop. No snark. No anything that is going to raise this guys temper above a bad pun. You hear me, Harper?"
That he'd been assigned the newbie's task of going through -all- the paperwork didn't really surprise Roy. It was, after all, something he'd done to the new arrivals back at the CBI. It was still mindnumbing work, but made worthwhile at the expression on Clint's face upon the discovery of 'David Smith'. Being forced by Clint to look up the rest of Bruce Banner's record in preparation for the perp pickup, however, dropped that wide s#1345!-eating smirk quickly from Roy's face.
There's a brief shake of his head as Roy adjusts his hastily-jury-rigged arrows, assembled while flying over. Taking some and putting them in with the rest of his equipment, Roy offers a few of these arrows. "Right. You might want some of these, though," he says. "Just in case. Tranq arrows. Tough enough to drop an elephant in a minute." There's a deep breath, and a sigh, and then Roy mimics zipping his lips, and motions for Clint to go ahead.
Bruce could feel it, somehow. He could sense it. Maybe it wasn't a thing. But Bruce did think, that maybe this time, once again, people will be coming for him. They can try several things, such as tranquilizers and such, or maybe try to kill him outright. The tranqs work, until he wakes up. And any hint of a fatal wound just ends up in a big, green mess.
And so, he steps out of his office, looking to see if people are around. He did remember Nurse Quan telling him good-bye, and she is usually the last one to go before him. So, he figured he was alone. He walks up to the receptionist desk, wondering... And waiting...
The Girls are unhappy on many levels. Deeply unhappy in a way they don't remember feeling since being in the Program. The air feels oppressive. Sitting in their little apartment near the clinic, they're letting their minds wander in hopes of picking up trouble before it happens. Without knowing it, Sophie paces the length of their tiny kitchen area while the other two sit on the bed.
The world crawls with life and they can feel it all but their minds are schooled to pay attention to only one thing, should they desire it. Any thought of harm or interference to themselves or, by extension, what belongs to them.
|"There."| The gestalt mind slews about as it catches something. Not for them, no, but something drawing close to their territory. They feel the mass of minds on the shuttle and the two minds closing in on the clinic.
|"Go."| They are moving as one before they can think of the consequences, out the fire escape and into the alley, running. Reaching out, they touch Bruce's mind. |"Be careful. They come. Two and more behind."| They could do worse than this, they could do terrible things to those on the way. But all they want is one thing.
|"Why won't any of them leave us alone?"|
"I know. I know." This was all Bruce could say. He didn't have the heart to tell her more, even though his thoughts said it all. "This is... meant to be."
The offered arrow is glanced at for a few seconds, before he breaks the tip off, turning the arrow into the dart. Stuffing the now-dart into the pocket of his hoody, he gives Harper a slightly bemused look. "Unfortunately, we won't have to take down an elephant," he says before pushing past Roy into the clinic.
It doesn't take long for Clint to spot Banner, and he quickly closes the gap, hands stuffed into that hoody pocket, face obscurred by a baseball cap. Glancing down at the man he came to see, he says evenly, "Mr. Smith. Do you know who I am? Do you know why I'm here?" he asks, trying his best to stay calm, but honestly? His heart might as well pop out of his chest. I mean, this is the friggin Hulk.
The weapons are tucked away, and so Roy goes in with empty hands, reasoning that he could quickly draw and fire if necessary. Green Arrow didn't call him Speedy for nothing, after all.
Given the nature of Bruce's ... other self, securing the back door might be a bad idea, as it'd force him into a state of apoplexy at being trapped, Roy falls in next to Clint. Closing the door behind Clint to make sure there was no surprise visitors, Roy trails the elder agent, doing his best to keep from letting that sense of -anticiption- overwhelm him.
There's a certain amount of excitement at the thought of taking one's life into his hands, and so there was a steady mantra of 'stay frosty, dude, stay frosty' trailing through his head. And so when he first sees Bruce, there's a slight frown, and a nod of his head, with hands up and open to show that there was nothing in them.
|"-Nothing- cannot be unwritten."| |"We can hide you."| |"Let us send them away."| The girls can read Bruce's mind and they hate it. Like burning. They know the others are already in the clinic.
|"How dare they come here?"| |"Of all places."| |"-Loathsome things.-"| No sense of sanctity.
|"We should simply act,"| Esme says to the others, seething with frustration. |"We must let him choose,"| Phoebe demurs. |"Wait."| Sophie's word is the last one.
The back window is open, Bruce hasn't gotten to it yet, and they slide into the office, then walk to the front under an illusion. Is this all they send? Surely Bruce is more dangerous than they.
"The man at the coffee shop..." Bruce says, refering to what he saw several days ago. It was a bit under breath, but anyone with good hearing would pick that up. He acknowledged the other man, who didn't look familiar. "Well, you don't look like you're here for a check-up. But I'd be willing to examine you if you want. And please, it's Dr. Smith. But then again, you know that's not true." Bruce was not going to make this easy for them.
As for the Sisters, he thought, 'Girls, I know you're hearing this. Please understand... I'm tired. I'm done running.'
Honestly? This is going easier than Clint expected. He gives a slight side-glance towards Roy before glancing back towards Banner and nodding his head. "Right. Doctor. Meant no insult," he says evenly. "Also, let me say Doctor that we're here to help you. We both have a lot of respect for you, and we just want to make sure you get the treatment and assistance you need. To...control your condition." He's speaking low, vaguely. His heart has calmed some. To be sure, his guard is down.
Roy nods affirmatively, keeping his hands visible and up so that 'Dr. Smith' can see for himself exactly where his hands are, and assume as non-threatening a position as he can. "A lot of respect. I've got a little girl at home I'd like to be sure to get home to." A sheepish grin crosses his face.
|"We know you're tired,"| Sophie says to Bruce as she sets a hand on his shoulder. |"Let us see their intentions."|
The gestalt slides through the minds of both men and finds... fear, affection for a child which gets filed away for later, and no ill intention. Of course, they could be pawns... they are pawns, but they could be ignorant ones.
There's a murmur of conference between the girls that Bruce can hear. |"We can come with you."| |"One of us can."| |"Or all of us."| |"We wish to see this place for ourselves so we know you'll be safe."| Laura is safe for the moment.
"And with respect to your daughter, let's keep things civil. I won't do anything, if you won't." Bruce nodded to the... young father. "Well, just what do you know about me, and my condition?" This was said more in curiousity than malace. Bruce paced a bit from one side of the desk to another. "And this treatment and assistance, what is it, exactly? How would you define it? Something to be cured? Or... controlled?"
Bruce was going to get some answers first, even though he knew this guy may not know anything he wanted. He at least wanted to know what kind of guy he was dealing with.
'Girls, I would appreciate that. I can't promise anything, whether they can find you or not. I'd tell you no... But I think you'd go anyway. For now, let's play it by ear...'
The question catches Clint slightly off guard, glancing towards Roy and then back towards Banner. "You...have a condition. That flares up when you lose control of your emotions. Dangerous to those around you, as well as to yourself. As of right now, you have minimal control. Trying to remain calm. You've been researching a cure, but to put it bluntly...you're kind of in a field of your own on this one. You're the test subject, the expert and the cure, all in one." He frowns slightly at the second question. "Honestly, Doctor? I can't answer that. But my promise to you is that if you come with us, no one else will be hurt needlessly, and you'll be given all the resources we can provide." Again, Clint speaks the truth...as far as he knows it. Item number one is getting Banner somewhere safe. After that is up for debate.
Given that the contents of Banner's file were relatively fresh in his mind thanks to having to go through it, Roy nods in agreement. As far as he knew, that was the contingency plan... -if- Banner cooperated. If he didn't, on the other hand, things were going to get messy. There's a slight tilt of his head as Roy rubs the back of his head, trying to think of something to add. "If you want, we can stick with you the whole time, just to make sure nobody tries taking advantage of you. Like he says, we want to make sure everything's taken care of, including yourself."
|"We still don't like it,"| the girls tell Bruce. |"But they have a point."| |"You need more resources than we can give."| The girls are seated in a row on a desk behind Bruce, watching with great suspicion.
|"They're worrying about what they'll do if you change."| |"More for their own sakes than yours."| There's a twist of contempt to the words. |"We could make them think you weren't here and you could spend some time considering the offer."|
"Taken cared of...?" Bruce chuckles, rather loudly. One would think he was going crazy. But then he calmed down, and took a deep breath. "If you really believe that, I don't know whether to pity you or not... I suppose you'd make a convincing argument, seeing as you actually believe it."
There was a pause. A rather long one, as Bruce seems to be thinking what do say. But he was carrying another conversation. 'Thank you girls,' Bruce thought to them. 'But... this song and dance has gone on long enough. And I'm not getting any better. But I appreciate it. And they have every right to be worried.'
"It's not like I can expect you to make good on your word," Bruce says as he addresses the agents again. "But you guys did all the work to come here. It would be rude... to decline this invitation." He walks forward to them, rather slowly. "By the way, if you are trying to pacify someone, the last thing to say is 'remain calm'."
Clint nods his head slightly at that, and actually cracks a smile. "Noted, Doctor. For what it's worth, I meant what I said earlier; I've read up on your work, /before/ the accident. And it's...well, incredible." He extends a hand in an offer of a shake. "An honor to meet you. And while I might not have as much pull as I would like to think, I do have enough to guarantee you comfortable quarters." He pauses and glances towards Harper, nodding his head. The two of them should likely leave, calmly of course, before the person of interest changes his mind.
Hand reaching out as well, following Clint's lead and in a slight fit of 'if he can do it, I can do it better', Roy grins. "I know from experience that doesn't work. You should see what happens with my daughter. Hey, want to see a picture?" Not that he's expecting to actually have to pull it out, but it might at least keep 'Dr. Smith' cool if they were making friends. Wait... was that a leave -now- look? There's a slight shrug at Clint and a questioning glance.
|"If you must go, go."| |"We can find you anywhere."| |"Here."| Sophie offers a thin silver thread of a thought. |"Then you can always find us."| |"We must learn more about this place."| |"It seems useful."| Still, they don't hesitate to let Bruce know how miserable it makes them to let him leave like this. |"Go on if you must."|
'Thanks, girls. For everything.' Bruce shakes the agents hands as he sends his message to them. He figures they might pull the handcuff trick on him as he does so, not that it would make much of a difference. But they don't. 'Say good-bye to the staff for me.' He doesn't show his sadness to the girls' reaction, but he can't hide it from them.
'And for what it's worth... I apologize.'
"I have to say, you guys are the most interesting set of people set out to... invite me. Not every time I'm praised for my work, and shown pictures. Perhaps we can see them... on our way." Bruce motions to the shuttle. "So, if you will, please lead the way. I'll play nice." He gives a small sigh, as if a heavy burden has been lifted.
And another has taken its place.