|A Visit Overdue|
|What: Dr. Banner received a surprise, and enjoyable, visit from three lovely girls. (Get your mind out of the gutter, not like that...)|
STAR Labs is nothing if not civilized. Bruce is given advance warning that he's got guests--three of them, and he's got the option to refuse once their names are given--and after some time to prepare, he's carefully escorted to... well, it might have been an observation area but there's actually a couch and chairs and a table in there now. It's not homey, but the attempt has been made to be human about things.
"We'll bring your guests down now, Mr. Banner," one of the technicians says as she closes the door behind her. "Someone will also be in with some refreshments around that time as well." She gives him a little wave and then the door clicks shut with that particular finality of a secure area.
Bruce Banner nods at the technician, while trying to remember her name. Nancy, was it? Not that it mattered, the technician left. But that is all well and good, because today was to be a good day. STAR Labs has been good to him, but reasonably so (though others may disagree).
And now, he takes a seat, and awaits his guests. It's been a long time coming, and he hopes they're not too mad at him. But it is always good to see familiar faces about, even if they can't stay for long. One must learn to enjoy the simple things in life.
When the door clicks through the unlocking sequence and swings open, all three girls blow in with that barely-harnessed restraint of teenagers trying to be cool about something when they really just want to jump up and down.
"There you are!" "How are you?" "We missed you!" What they want to do is throw their arms around him and hug him and all that, but they're being very good about it. Sophie gets to offer him a calm hug first.
"Girls!" Bruce goes and rushes to Sophie and gives her a big hug, like a brother and sister reuniting after much time. It has been long, and Bruce appreciates all the friends he can get. "I have missed you all. And I've been doing fine." A small tear falls from his right eye. He has missed them.
Bruce gets hugged and kissed and hugged and kissed some more. "We were so worried about you." Sophie takes Bruce by the hand to lead him over to the couch. "We wanted to talk to you and then we worried that it might make you feel badly or upset you, and we didn't know if they'd be able to block us. We made a friend who helped us get in to see you, so you'd know we were actually -here- for you."
"Really? That's good to there." Bruce smiled, enjoying the company in more ways than one. But then again, he has come to think of these girls as sisters, like his cousin. And he liked how far they went to come see him. "I really do appreciate it, girls. I just hope you're careful. I know you three can take care of yourselfs. I still worry."
"We're being careful." Phoebe curls up on the couch. "We have Laura and other new friends to help us out," Esme explains. A moment before the door locks light up, Sophie's turning to it. "Just someone bringing coffee and things. They treat you like a person here. That's good."
A member of the service staff pushes a cart in with hot drinks and a few snacks. "For you and your guests, Mr. Banner. We'll let you be now." Not that they're not under some kind of observation, of course, but the illusion is nice.
"Thank you very much." Bruce nods at the woman as she brings in the snacks. It's then he remembers: he's rather hungry. It's been quite a while since he has eaten; research a cure for the Hulk can do that to you. He turns the girls as he gets up. "Ladies, care to join me?"
"Yes, please." Sophie follows him over to help out. "We'll just pretend we're at home." "They were very nice, really," Phoebe says, getting up to join them. "How is it for you here?" Esme hangs back, barely resisting prodding around in Bruce's brain to find out for herself.
"It has been going pretty well," Bruce says as he takes one of the muffins. Chocolate chip, it has been a while. He takes a bite, and chews it slowly, savoring the taste. When he was done, he continued. "I wish I could tell you all that I saw, but there is much classified." He gives a small grin to the ladies, realizing he couldn't hide much from them. But he knew they wouldn't communicate via telepathy without asking. "But I do feel I've been making progress. On my issue at least. But, as long as I'm here, I'm to help out with any urgent projects that come about. It's a good compromise." Bruce takes a few more bites, more hungry than he thought.
"We're glad you're all right." Sophie hands cups of coffee to her sisters. "That's all we care about." "We wish we could be more help."
Esme takes her coffee back to the couch and curls up at one end of it, watching Bruce. "You look happier," she says thoughtfully. "This place isn't like what we're used to. Surprising."
"Is there anything we can do for you?" Sophie picks up a couple cookies and takes one to Esme, frowning at her until Esme takes it. They're all feeling unsettled by being here but getting hungry doesn't help at all.
"Well, visiting here was plenty. As much as I like it here, it still can be a bit stifling. A consequence of my circumstances, and I'm not going to complain." Bruce smiled at them, as he finished his muffin. He then looks ashamed, seeing how fast he ate it. But still hungry, Bruce starts in on another one, blueberry this time. So what if they're not good for you?
"But you can tell this first; how's the clinic doing? I was told that SHIELD would take care of things there, and I felt bad in just leaving them so suddenly and unexpectedly."
"The concert went off and it was great," the girls say, sliding back into their old way of sharing the same train of thought. "Dazzler was really good, they made lots of money. Tony Stark even showed up, it was packed."
Esme looks a little sheepish. "And then I played a mean trick on Sophie and she kissed Tony Stark..." "...and it was -horrible-," Sophie finishes for her. "But funny," Phoebe chimes in. "His brain is a very odd place."
"But it turned out okay," the girls say, carrying on. "We ended up with Laura and Anya and everyone there had a good time so it was all good."
"Oh, I'm glad." Bruce smiled as he heard how the concert went. He wished he could be there, even though that wasn't his kind of music; it was at least fun. He nodded and smiled at the playfulness of the girls. "So, how is Laura doing? I'm hoping my absence didn't effect her much." Not that he's certain it ever can.
"We would have brought her, but... Laura. Labs. It would have been horrible," the girls say. One of them, Phoebe, is sticking close and offering snuggles while Sophie has gone to sprawl on the couch with her sister.
"It was bad enough just for us, and we had Roy with us. Good thing, too, because he's good at being reasonable when it matters. We've been babysitting his daughter a lot lately. He has a dad-brain..." There's a pause and the girls giggle. "...-sometimes." There's only so much being a dad can do to compete with the reaction the three girls evoke. Fortunately, they think it's pretty silly.
"Huh. Roy... The agent from SHIELD?" Bruce eyes widened. Then it made sense as to how the girls found him. "I see. You must be having some fun around. And he must trust you to babysit his daughter..." At least, that's what Bruce hopes. He met the man briefly, but he seemed rather decent.
"So, what else have you been up to?"
"We were waiting to see you, but now that we've actually -seen- you and made sure you're okay, we might go out of town for a while." They exchange a look between them. "It's just good to clear out sometimes, you know? Take a break. We'll be back, though. It'd just be a vacation."
"It is good to get out sometimes..." Bruce nods thoughtfully. Shame there wasn't a window nearby to look out, but thems the breaks, so they say. "But, as for me, I still have a lot of work to do. I don't know when I'll be done, but things are looking promising." Bruce gives the girls a reassuring smile. "Maybe, things may be better one day. I have to admit, being here's given me hope."
"That's the most important thing," the girls say. Phoebe gives him a hug from all of them. "Is there... is there anyone you can think of who could help you? We could look for them if you needed. Or anything of yours you need us to bring you? They said that if this went well, we could come back to see you, so we will come back."
"Hmm..." Bruce has been thinking, thinking for quite a while. Just how many could he trust now? Just would be concern for him? Betty... it just hurt to think of her. Rick... it has been a while, he must be doing his own thing by now. Jenny... "Well, there is one person. I'm not even sure it's the same person, but..." Bruce has a long pause to dwell on this. "My cousin, Jennifer Walters. I heard she may be in New York, last time I saw. It may be another girl, but... If you do come across her, let her know I'm fine. That is, if she still wants anything to do with me." And with that, Bruce put a mental image of what his cousin looked like, the last time he saw her.
"We'll look for her," the girls promise. "Even if she's mad at you, time makes that better for some people. If we find her, we'll let you know how it goes and we'll makg sure she's okay, too. We're getting better at taking care of people." The girls didn't have anyone they'd want to be informed if they went missing, not until recently. Of course now, they'd at least want Laura to know.
"I'm glad to hear it." Bruce smiles, as he settles in his seat, with one of the girls next to him. He wonders just how long these things will continue. He didn't tell him that finding a cure was proving more difficult than he thought, even with all the equipment at his disposal. But he won't give up. However, to find that cure he may have to jump into the big guy again.
"Thanks again, girls. Once again, if there is anything I can do, let me know. My present circumstances make my offer... somewhat limited, but I will try what I can. And please, when you can, feel free to make an apointment." He smiles, somewhat distantly this time. He realizes that a peaceful life will only be an illusion til his work is done. Then again, will he truly be at peace...?