ysabetwordsmith: (Schrodinger's Heroes)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
This story fills a square on my card for the [community profile] hc_bingo fest. This fest encourages the creation of boundary-pushing material that explores what happens when things go horribly wrong and people actually care about each other. Remember, things always go wrong; what matters is how you deal with that. Some of the content may be NSFW. Read the FAQ and rules here. The signup post is here. I'm hoping to attract some new readers.

The following story belongs to Schrodinger's Heroes, featuring an apocryphal television show supported by an imaginary fandom. It's science fiction about quantum physics and saving the world from alternate dimensions. It features a very mixed cast in terms of ethnicity and sexual orientation. This project developed with input from multiple people, and it's open for everyone to play in. You can read more about the background, the characters, and a bunch of assorted content on the menu page.

This is a crossover with the Hulk from The Avengers. So it doesn't match up exactly with the various Hulk movies, and Bruce Banner is played by Mark Ruffalo. The storyline goes into alternate-universe mode after the lab accident while Bruce is running from General Ross but before Bruce meets any of the Avengers. Read the beginning of the  Schrodinger's Hulk storyline in "Safe Keeping."

Begin with Part 1, Part 2.  Skip to Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10, Part 11, Part 12.

Fandom: Hulk / The Avengers / Original (Schrodinger's Heroes)
Prompt: Nervous Breakdown
Medium: Fiction
Wordcount: 13,000
Rating: PG-13
Warnings: References to child/domestic abuse in Bruce's childhood and further mistreatment by General Ross later. Reference to minor character death, in that Bruce's father murdered Bruce's mother. No other standard warnings apply.
Summary: Bruce struggles to adapt to a new dimension that is almost like his home dimension. The trouble is, no matter where you go, there you are with yourself; and when your key problems are internal rather than external, there's no way to run away from them. Unexpected aspects of Bruce's identity shake things up for him. Ash and Quinn help Bruce start figuring out how to untangle the whole mess.
Notes: Angst. Fractured identity. Dealing with loss. Coping mechanisms (functional and dysfunctional). Trust issues. Survival issues. Control issues. Paranoia (justified and otherwise). Friendship. Family of choice. Sex/gender crisis. Safe places. Comfort food. Nonsexual intimacy.


"Two Spirits, One Past" Part 3


"I'm sorry that a trip into town turned so scary," Ash said. In Bruce's tinted vision she looked like a bronze statue. "I shouldn't have pushed you. Maybe next time you can tell me your sizes and what you like, and I'll bring home some stuff for you to try."

That was precisely why Bruce didn't like to go into town anymore, or anywhere else that had people. Things turned scary way too often. And he hadn't even gotten his stupid clothes! Yet Ash had said next time as if nearly hulking out and wrecking the place was somehow okay, not grounds to throw him out of her life.

Bruce wanted desperately to lean on that, though of course he didn't dare. He wanted to believe that someone would be there for him, the way Betty had. Ash was different from Betty, though. Bruce felt no romantic pull toward her -- no sense of sexual awareness at all, in fact. That was odd.

Since the accident, he could smell people so much more clearly, smell when they were horny or fertile or just idly intrigued. Ash never smelled aroused. She smelled female and calm and ... somehow mellow in a way that other women were not. It was a subtle thing. He couldn't quite track it down, but it was there. He found it relaxing. The tight clench of his chest finally began to ease.

"You seem a little better," Ash said. "That's good. I was worried for you."

The Other Guy gave Bruce one last nudge before turning away. Oh, thank goodness, Bruce thought to himself. He drew a deep breath and then huffed it out in a sigh. His whole body began to unwind in fits and starts. Every muscle ached. Bone-tired lethargy settled over him. He felt almost as bad as the aftermath of an incident ... minus the inevitable property damage, probable nudity, and possible casualties.

The truck rolled to a stop, crunching over the gravel in the compound parking lot. "Here we are, safe as can be," Ash said as she climbed out.

Bruce stared blearily out the window, trying to muster the energy to reach for the door handle. His body felt sore and rubbery. His brain fogged with exhaustion. It was like a hangover the morning after finals week ended. The door popped open and he almost fell out of the truck.

Strong arms caught him and lifted him to his feet. "Whoops, careful! I've got you," Ash said. "Lean on me and I'll take you inside."

Bruce staggered but managed not to collapse entirely. The sun was painfully bright. He closed his eyes and let Ash guide him.

Door. Hallway. Bunch of worried voices. Explanations. Quiet. Hallway. Room. Quiet.

Bruce caught a smudged glimpse of dusky colors and vague shapes on the way down. He landed on something soft and deep and wide. It felt like lying on a cloud. Gentle hands tugged his shoes off, then loosened his clothing. An afghan drifted down to cover him.

Nice room. Not completely silent after all. Water trickling, little bit. Cricket chirping. Birds singing. Safe.

Bruce fell asleep.

He half-woke, hours later, to someone cleaning the sweat off his face with a damp cloth. He stumbled to a bathroom with a little assistance, shut the door and relieved himself. Stumbled back to the very nice room. Fell asleep again.

There was food, another time. The smell woke him. Beef stew thick with noodles and vegetables. Bread still warm from the oven. Bruce was hungry, so he ate. The Other Guy liked the stew, so he licked the bowl, not caring about manners. Nothing was said about it.

He lay back down. Slept. Dreamed. Had nightmares. Guns and cages. Rage and roars and so much smashing. Woke up to someone calling his name and jostling the bed.

Had a panic attack.

Fought back the Other Guy again, who was confused to be brought halfway forward in the nice quiet room. Nobody was hurting him. He wasn't tied down. Wasn't even lost or naked. Green eyes looked around the room, then fluttered shut again. Someone was singing. Lullaby maybe. Not familiar though. He went back to sleep.

When Bruce finally woke with a clear head, he had layers of blurry memories like that. Sleep. Comfort food. Someone guiding him to the bathroom and back again. Low voice, or voices, keeping him company. He rubbed a hand over his face and found several days' worth of scruffy beard. The soaring trill of a meadowlark came through the window.

Bruce walked over to look outside. There was the bird, perched on a creosote bush. Right under the window was a pool with a trickling waterfall. It lay heavily shaded by horsetails, elephant ears, beautyberry, and a rusty blackhaw viburnum. As Bruce watched, the meadowlark flitted down to the little oasis. It sipped from the pool and then flew back to its perch.

When he turned around, he saw Ash smiling at him. She sat cross-legged on a floor cushion, smelling faintly of sage smoke. Bruce took a deep breath. He picked up the savory masculine scent of Pat and the tangier, more complex yet still masculine scent of Quinn.

"You look more alert this time," Ash said. "Feeling better?"

For Bruce this was never a rhetorical question. Clothes, check. Indoors, check. Not starving, how awesome is that? Check. He stretched carefully. The sore muscles had faded away. Very cautiously, he reached inward with his attention.

The Other Guy was ignoring him.

Bruce didn't even have a line on his mental checklist for that.

"Yeah," he said softly. "I'm ... good, I think."

* * * 

Notes:

These are some Texan plants that do well in shady areas.  Someone has cleverly created a little community of layered plants to protect the water garden from sun and wind, a pocket ecosystem that attracts wildlife and helps to soothe upset people.


[To be continued in Part 4 ...]

(no subject)

Date: 2014-03-07 04:05 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] labelleizzy.livejournal.com
Hulk... Ignoring Bruce? Huh!

(no subject)

Date: 2018-01-11 06:44 pm (UTC)
librarygeek: cute cartoon fox with nose in book (Default)
From: [personal profile] librarygeek
Rereading this series today.

For the line about "Hulk's ignoring him", I hear in Hulk's rumbly voice, "Bruce IDJIT. Safe here, Dum Dum." :-p

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