ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
This story belongs to the Schrodinger's Hulk series, a crossover between Hulk and Schrodinger's Heroes.  It is a sequel to "Safe Keeping" and "Two Spirits, One Past." It fills the "virginfic / secretly a virgin" square in my card for the [community profile] trope_bingo fest.

This casts 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 first story in the series goes into alternate-universe mode after the lab accident while Bruce is running from General Ross but before Bruce meets any of the Avengers.

The Schrodinger's Heroes, project features 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.

Format: Fiction
Title: "For the Very First Time"
Fandom: Hulk/Schrodinger's heroes
Summary: Having traveled into another dimension, Bruce Banner meets up with Dr. Ross. It's complicated -- but that's okay.
Required Warnings: No standard warnings apply.


"For the Very First Time"


Bruce glanced across the lab at the new girl, trying to watch without being seen watching. She was, of course, only "new" in the sense of this being her first day at the Teflon Tesseract. Bruce had known a similar Dr. Ross in his home dimension. Here, Alex had made overtures -- since she had experience dealing with the complications of relationships across the manifold -- and eventually issued an invitation to join them. Bruce felt so nervous that his palms were sweating and the Other Guy stirred restlessly in the back of his mind, not pushing, just shuffling in place.

This was compounded when the new girl came over to Bruce's bench. "Uh ... hi," he said, taking off his glasses and polishing them on his shirttail so that he wouldn't have to look at her directly.

"Hi," she said in a warm tone. "You must be Bruce Banner. Alex told me a lot about you."

"Yeah," he said. "Hi, Betty. It's nice to see you ..." again, after so long, but he bit off the words because this wasn't his Betty.

She wrinkled her nose, not in a mean way, but in a contemplative way like a rabbit considering and then discarding a particular blade of grass. "Actually it's Betsy, not Betty. Nobody has called me Betty since my father died when I was little," she said.

And oh, that was such a relief that Bruce slumped from the shift of weight, finally putting his glasses back on. He wouldn't have to call this woman by the same name as the woman he remembered from home, almost-but-not-quite the same person. Maybe it would be all right after all. He could pretend they were meeting for the very first time, which in a sense they were, other-history notwithstanding.

"Betsy, then," Bruce said with a shy smile. "So, uh ... what did Alex say about me?"

"Well, first she mentioned your work with gamma rays, which is completely riveting, so of course I wanted to meet you," Betsy said. "Alex thought we'd make good lab partners because our interests run in similar directions."

"Yeah, that is, I'm into how the gamma rays work, and you ...?" Bruce said, again not mentioning what he'd done with Betty in his home dimension.

"I focus on the effects," Betsy said. She tilted her head delicately. "Alex mentioned that you survived a gamma ray accident with some unusual side effects. I'd love to hear about that if it ever comes up."

Bruce gave a harsh bark of laughter. "If it comes up, you won't be able to avoid hearing it," he said. That accident had pretty much ruined his hope of a love life, which had been awkward enough even before the Other Guy made his appearance. "That, um, changed me a lot."

"I gathered that when Alex took me for a walk across some other dimensions to test my tolerance for weirdness," Betsy said. "I think she wanted to make sure I wouldn't freak out on you, since you came here from elsewhere."

Bruce blinked. He hadn't realized that Alex would be quite so thorough or open about what was going on. "That's ... quite a trip. I gather you did well," he said.

"Well enough," Betsy said. "Alex and I talked about the challenges of establishing a friendship based on one-sided experiences and common interests, since apparently you knew our alters before. So that brings up something on my side that I try to tell people before it causes misunderstandings."

"What?" Bruce said blankly. He wasn't used to other people having that kind of issue. Usually it was all on him.

"I don't know if your Betty was the same way, or if you ever talked about things like this -- but me, I'm demisexual," Betsy said. She looked Bruce in the eye, or tried to, because he kept ducking his head. "I don't get interested in people on a romantic or sexual level unless I already have a close connection with them. Even then, it doesn't happen often. Consequently my previous relationships haven't gotten very far."

"We -- we never really talked about it, but, it fits what we did," Bruce said. That explained some things, like the way Betty had never pushed him for more or faster the way most women did, which is why he didn't spend much time with most women but had adored working with her. "We just kind of took things slow."

"Slow sounds good to me," Betsy said with a smile. "Most men don't have much patience with that. I can see what the other me saw in you."

"I don't like to be rushed," Bruce said.

"Hmm ... you don't have to answer this, but I'm curious about your sexuality, if you're open to sharing it," Betsy said.

That was a tangled mess if ever there was one. Bruce liked women, or had liked women in the past, but he was shy and awkward and never got much farther than kissing. They usually dumped him for someone more forthcoming. Now there was the Other Guy to consider, which complicated everything immeasurably. There was also Quinn's hypothesis that Bruce was more feminine than masculine, and what if anything that did to Bruce's sexuality was anyone's guess.

"Is 'I don't know' a valid answer?" Bruce said plaintively. "The data's kind of a mess right now and I can't really derive a clear pattern from it."

Betsy nodded. "Sure, if you need more data then by all means wait until the sample size grows large enough to analyze properly."

"Thanks," Bruce said. Just not being pestered or pushed around made him feel safer, more relaxed.

"I'd like to spend some time getting to know you," Betsy said. "I think we'll make good friends, if you're okay with that. Maybe we could run a few lab projects together? You have a very attractive brain."

Bruce laughed a little, because Betty had said something like that early on, and he'd always loved her mind even if most people didn't see just what a shining light she was. But they weren't the only ones in this equation. Bruce gave a mental sigh and asked the Other Guy, What do you think of Betsy?

Gardenia, Hulk replied.

The non sequitur threw Bruce off-balance for a moment. Then he remembered that Betty had loved gardenias, but never bought them or wore the scent for some reason she refused to specify although it seemed to have something to do with her father. Betty usually wore jasmine instead. But Betsy smelled sweetly of gardenia.

Different smell, different woman, Hulk said, dispelling Bruce's worry about how to explain the matter to him. Like but not like. Stay? The rumbling mental voice took on a wistful tone.

"That sounds great," Bruce said. "So hey ... do you want to see what the Teflon Tesseract does to the local gamma signature?"

Betsy gave a happy, girlish squeal and bounced into place beside him. "Show me!" she said.

"Here, let me just open a few files ..." Bruce said. They leaned over the computer together as Bruce brought up the schematics, her body warm and solid against his, her mind quick as lightning. Betsy wasn't exactly the same as Betty, but that was all right. Nothing in this world was quite identical to what he'd left behind, tiny little changes insignificant in the greater scope of things. It was different, yes, but it was what he had and he was grateful for it.

For the very first time, Bruce began to believe ... it might be better.

* * *

Notes:

The title of this story comes from the song "Like a Virgin" by Madonna.

According to Fanlore, virgin!fic is any story where a character's virginity or lack of expected sexual experience plays an important role. Usually the point of the story is to dispense with said virginity.

I wanted to write something different. Betsy Ross is demisexual. Bruce's sexuality is conflicted and right now he's in a questioning state. They've just met. So virginity is relevant to the story, but this is not the time for them to have sex. And that's okay. There can be stories about virgin adults that end some other way than a hop in the sack. For some people, virginity is not a hot potato to be gotten rid of as fast as possible. For those of you who want sexy virgin!fic, the rest of it is out there. This story is for the folks who were thinking, "But what if the virgin doesn't WANT to have sex right away?" Because in my writing, don't wanna, don't hafta.


~ END ~

(no subject)

Date: 2013-04-26 05:27 am (UTC)
thnidu: Lucy bright and bold. Lucida Bright font, boldface: backslash, small-o, slash: YAY!! (yay)
From: [personal profile] thnidu
Likeit likeit likeit!
"So hey ... do you want to see what the Teflon Tesseract does to the local gamma signature?"

Betsy gave a happy, girlish squeal and bounced into place beside him.

(Typo:
based on one-sided experienced and common interests
→ experience(s?)
)

Re: Yay!

Date: 2013-04-26 02:07 pm (UTC)
ext_1575623: (Default)
From: [identity profile] draggon_flye.livejournal.com
I like it too, and I love that your fics don't revolve around sex. A great deal of the Avengers fic I've found is basically porn and badly written porn, at that.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-04-27 05:11 am (UTC)
kitrona: A white cat, its back to the viewer, on a variable red background (Default)
From: [personal profile] kitrona
Lovely! I like Betsy, and I like Betty the way you write her, too. This was sweet. :)

(no subject)

Date: 2013-04-28 03:44 am (UTC)
mdlbear: (river)
From: [personal profile] mdlbear
Cool!!

I'm not entirely sure where I fall on this spectrum, but it's nowhere near "normal". Definitely either demiromantic or aromantic. (Alexithymia makes it hard to even think about properly.)

Re: Thank you!

Date: 2013-04-28 04:21 am (UTC)
mdlbear: (river)
From: [personal profile] mdlbear
Very frustrating. I mistook it for Asperger's for a long time. It can make for some interesting conversations.

I'm somewhere odd on the sexual spectrum, too; I can easily be sexually attracted to someone, but it rarely goes further than that without close friendship and intimacy. The combination has definitely turned one potentially sexual relationship into something very different (and wonderful), while scaring off another potential partner completely.

Re: Thank you!

Date: 2014-05-16 08:01 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I tend to be guilty of that at times, though I include aesthetic attraction in my list of non sexual types of attractions which has a pretty high overlap when you are just talking about 'ooh that persons hot' and not taking that a step further and thinking sex with them would be nice. But my perception of asexuality as a whole is definitely filtered through my own brand of asexuality even with all the reading I've done on the topic (and making a ton of ace friends in the process because the internet is awesome)

On a different note, I giggled when I found out this verses version of Betty was named Betsy Ross

Re: Thank you!

Date: 2014-05-16 08:03 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I'm Anna Libertas on tumblr (and most of other places) by the way, I remember you asking for anons to give you some form of identification on love is for children

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