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The Enormity of Living

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It starts with serendipity.

It starts, as many things do, with Bruce Banner in a lab, dabbling in things best left alone. He's playing with radiation, hoping to discover some valuable medicinal uses for it. These days he has practically unlimited resources, and a resident tech expert on hand whenever he needs him.

'JARVIS, is the lab locked?' he asks.

'You are secure, Doctor.'

Bruce opens up the lead-lined box. Inside are what look like silver pencil nibs: iridium-192, a strong emitter of gamma radiation. He takes a pair of tweezers and drops a nib into the pre-prepared chemical solution.

In retrospect, he only has himself to blame. Bruce assumed he was immune to radiation, so the only protection he's wearing is his lab coat. He hasn't even bothered to wear gloves.

So when the solution starts frothing and boiling, Bruce just stares at it. Then the froth catches fire, filling the lab with acrid smoke.

'Shit.' He hurries over to the fire extinguisher, yanks it off the wall and points the nozzle at the flames.

The glass beaker explodes, showering him with irradiated chemicals. His vision flashes green.

And the impossible happens.

Bruce reels, hands clamped to his face.  His whole body erupts in fiery pain like he's being stabbed with hot knives. It brings him to his knees and he's speechless with it, it's a pain that robs him of thought and breath and fills his head with blind panic. Only when it feels like his insides are dissolving does he finally manage to scream for help.

Sirens blare in the distance. Bruce collapses to the floor, writhing and groaning. Something is very, very wrong.

Thick, green liquid oozes from his pores, sliding down his face, trickling between his trembling fingers. It gathers on the floor in a thick puddle in front of him.

The door bursts open. It's Steve.

'Captain, please be advised that this is a zone of high radiation.'

'Copy,' he says briskly. 'Bruce?'

Bruce can only whimper and clutch his head. He can't articulate what's wrong, but he feels like something is missing. Something that aches by its absence.

He's still staring at the green puddle, only now it's more of a blob. As he watches, it's forming tendons and muscles, becoming a roundish, football-sized shape.

Steve doesn't see it, and scoops Bruce up as if he weighs nothing. 'I'm taking you to medical. What happened? Did you get burned?'

Bruce is being carried out of the lab. Despite the pain it causes, he twists back to look at what he's left behind, the thing that used to be a part of him.

On the floor lies a green, beating heart.

'Help him,' Bruce rasps, but he's hoarse from shouting. 'Oh god help him...'

Steve doesn't hear. Bruce is unconscious before they've taken ten steps.

 

He awakens slowly, in a soft warm bed. A heart monitor ticks quietly.

He opens his eyes to a white ceiling, feeling weak and heavy. An IV feeds into his arm. For a horrible moment, he thinks he's back with General Ross, about to be strapped to an operating table. Sweat beads on his forehead. The heart monitor speeds up.

'Bruce, you with us?' Tony's face swims into view and he snaps back to the present.

'Tony...' He sits up and the room spins. He lurches to the edge of the bed and vomits into the bedpan Tony thrusts under him. 'Good catch,' he rasps.

Tony doesn't smile. 'What do you remember?'

Bruce sinks weakly back onto the bed. 'Not much. I was... I was working on some ideas about radiation therapy...' An explosion, and then pain like he'd never known before. It had felt a little like the beginnings of a Hulk-out, but he didn't recall changing...

'You've been out for three days. Cap found you but he didn't get much sense out of you.' Tony wandered off and handed the pan of vomit to a passing nurse (she took it in her stride). Then he sat down on the edge of the bed and fixed Bruce with a serious stare. 'Something else happened.'

Bruce has a vague memory of shock, of something on the floor of the lab... 'I don't understand,' he says slowly.

He can see Tony struggling to articulate what he needs to say next. An inexplicable feeling of dread washes over him.

'Five years you spent on the run from Ross,' says Tony eventually. 'All that time, you were desperately looking for a solution.'

Bruce leans forward. 'What - are you saying I'm - I'm -'

Tony smiles. 'You found a cure Brucie. And you weren't even looking for one.'

The words don't sink in at first. Bruce just stares at Tony, waiting to be corrected. After so many years of misery, now he's - 'Cured?'

'I took some tissue and blood samples when you were out - had to be done, sorry. I had JARVIS run every test I could think of, we were all trying to make sense of what happened to you. Everything came back clear. Your blood's not radioactive and your cells are indistinguishable from any other healthy guy your age. That's good, right?'

Bruce is standing up before he's consciously decided to. The cold floor burns his feet; everything feels too bright and too loud. He can feel his heart rate spiking but he's powerless to stop it. It feels like there are iron bands around his chest, constricting his breathing. He takes a step and the IV yanks painfully.

Tony tries to talk him down as he gently removes the IV. But it all seems to be happening to someone else and Bruce is merely a passive observer. His breath comes in harsh pants and his vision blurs at the edges. He feels sick, he feels shaky, he needs to get out of here now -

A nurse steps in front of him as he marches towards the door. 'Sir - '

'It's fine. Let him go,' Tony says curtly, and then Bruce is stumbling down the corridor, his bare feet slapping on the smooth floor.

He stops about halfway and crouches down, back braced against the wall. He presses his palms into his eyes until he sees stars and breathes deeply until the feeling starts to pass.

When he finally looks up, Tony is sitting on the floor beside him. 'You good?'

Bruce nods, but mumbles, 'I don't know how I feel.' Shouldn't he be happy? 'I'm in shock, I guess. But I - ' He lets out a shaky breath. 'H-Hulk. I killed him. I wasn't even thinking about him...'

'No, Bruce. You didn't kill him,' says Tony firmly.

'Doesn't matter if I meant to or not Tony, I killed him...'

'You didn't kill him.' He raises his head. 'JARVIS, where is the Hulk right now?'

A pause. 'He is currently in the gymnasium, sir. Agent Barton is attempting to teach him to play basketball. I daresay it is not going smoothly.'

Bruce is starting to feel dizzy again. 'That's not funny.'

But Tony is smiling. 'Whatever you did in the lab, it caused the two of you to separate.'

Bruce breathes deeply, and the world becomes a little steadier. 'I remember... something came out of me. Something green.'

'I went up to the lab to try and figure out what you'd done and there was a couple pounds of Hulk flesh sitting on the floor.'

'Shit. What did you do?'

He shrugged. 'I fed it. Lots of high-nutrient solution, it loved it. So I drained the aquarium and put it in a tasty chemical soup. Couple days later, we had a fully-grown, slightly fishy-smelling Hulk.' From his pocket, he produced a protein bar. 'He took a lot of your body's nutrients with him. Might take you a week or two to get your strength up.'

Right now, it's an effort to hold his head up. Bruce crunches his way through the protein bar, fighting back the nausea. 'I want to see him,' he says when he's finished.

Tony's eyes search his face. If he's worried, he doesn't show it. 'Okay.'

 

Bruce refuses the wheelchair. Instead, he leans heavily on Tony and the two of them walk to the elevator and ride it down three floors. Clint's shouts are audible from all the way down the corridor:

'It's cheating, man! That's not how the game works!'

'HULK NO CHEAT! HULK MAKE NEW GAME!'

And it's Bruce's voice, distorted and deep and inhuman. Bruce feels his whole body come out in goosebumps. He shrugs out of Tony's hold and elbows the door open.

Clint stands in the middle of the gym, cradling a deflated basketball in his arms like it's a dying puppy. Steve watches from the sidelines, quietly disapproving.

At the back of the room is Hulk, holding the basketball pole and hoop, having torn it off the wall. He seems pleased with himself, using the hoop to scratch his back. 'Hulk make new game,' he says proudly as they enter. He smiles at Tony. Then his eyes settle on Bruce and he frowns.

Bruce limps over, transfixed. He's spent years living in fear of Hulk, terrified of letting him out, letting him hurt loved ones. And now he's out, but he's relaxed and almost friendly. Bruce blinks a few times; it's harder to see without his glasses. 'Hulk?' he says softly.

Hulk throws the pole down with a clang and closes the gap between them. A huge, green face peers back at him. His breath smells like onions. 'Puny Banner,' he grunts.

Bruce reaches out to touch Hulk's hair. He's real, solid, warm and breathing. Until now, he's only seen him in blurred video footage. 'Yeah, that's me. Um, how - how are you doing?'

He huffs. 'Hulk good. Banner all better now?'

Bruce nods dumbly, and then Hulk turns away to return to his "new game".

Clint throws down the basketball. 'He was pretty insistent about coming to see you but we wouldn't tell him where you are. Thought it was better that one of us tell you first.' He squeezes Bruce's shoulder. 'We were all really worried about you Doc, they didn't know if you were gonna make it. How are you? You good?'

Bruce finds himself feeling breathless. 'I don't know, I think so. Is he stable? Is this - are we - can we survive like this?'

'I've run every possible test on him,' Tony assures him. 'Both of you are stable.'

Steve strides over. 'Good to have you back,' he says sincerely, eyes alight with concern. 'I'm sure this has come as a shock. Make sure you take it easy for a while, okay?'

Bruce just shrugs. Already, he wants to go back to bed but there's too much to think about, too much to take in. 'You know me Steve, I bounce back from anything.'

Steve's serious look intensifies. 'Not anymore, Bruce,' he says gently.

Clint edges away, looking uncomfortable. Tony's hand is tight on Bruce's arm, anchoring him.

Bruce feels his stomach drop. Because he's right: without Hulk, Bruce is just... ordinary. 'Oh.'

Steve speaks in a low, even voice, like he's trying to reassure a frightened animal. 'Take some time to process things. It's gonna take you a little while so you're off the roster for now until we figure things out, okay? Need to get your strength back up.'

Bruce lets Tony lead him up to his room, but Steve's words haunt him. Everyone's acting like Bruce is going through a bereavement, but he isn't. To be finally rid of Hulk is what he's always wanted. He should be relieved.

So why isn't he?

 

The following week passes in a blur. Bruce spends most of it in bed: eating, sleeping and watching crap daytime TV. He feels like he's aged ten years overnight - and perhaps he has. When Hulk happened, Bruce had had so much more energy. Now he gets stiff if he doesn't move for too long, and his newly-acquired anaemia knocks him out for twelve hours a night. Whilst before he needed glasses only to read, now they are a necessity.

The other Avengers visit often, but Hulk isn't allowed. Even thinking of him makes Bruce's stomach churn.

Tony visits him the most, and ensures Bruce is eating enough; when the split happened Bruce lost several pounds. Some days he feels too sick to keep anything down, but gradually he starts to replenish what his body has lost until he has enough energy to venture outside his room again.

Some days however, the world needs the Avengers and Bruce is left on his own, demanding updates from JARVIS as he bites his nails down to the quick. On those days, he sometimes hears Hulk roaring downstairs, frustrated that he can't join in the fight. Bruce never visits him.

Steve's comment about taking him "off the roster" hurts more than it should. But the more he thinks about it... on a team of powerful heroes, what good is a guy who can't even lift a chair without hurting his back?

 

When he's feeling better, Bruce is thrown into storms of briefings. Fury hurls around phrases like "therapy" and "trauma" and "adjustment period" - god, it's like being twelve again. He wants to ask if there'll be crayons he can play with too, but he bites his tongue. Controlling his temper is a hard-wired instinct now, one that he's not sure he can unlearn.

He returns to the lab and it doesn't feel the same. The evidence of his experiment has been cleaned up and incinerated. It's like something died here.

He pretends everything is back to normal. He helps Tony with suit schematics and makes wry jokes, but there's something cold and hollow inside him. Being cured shouldn't feel like this. Why isn't he glad? Why isn't he grateful?

 

Bruce is brought into the Avengers team meetings whilst Fury decides what to do with him. So is Hulk.

Hulk has to stoop through every doorway, and soon there are dents on every wall where he's had to squeeze in. It's funny seeing him struggle to take up less space, just like Bruce does. Hulk scowls as he listens to the team, then quickly grows bored and picks at his giant fingernails.

Bruce sits as far away from him as he can. No one mentions him in the battle plans, there is only talk of training Hulk to work in the team and figuring out their communication. Every day, he becomes more and more irrelevant. Perhaps he was useful at the start but they clearly don't need him anymore.

When Clint jokes about them getting matching uniforms and musing if they can make one in Hulk's size, Bruce decides he's done listening. He storms out of the meeting and slams the door behind him. He doesn't go to any more of them.

Bruce's therapist is equally useless. She's been trained to deal with depression, PTSD, anxiety. Normal, human illnesses. Bruce is a case all of his own. How do you treat a schizophrenic when he's grieving the loss of his voices?

'I don't know why you're trying,' Bruce says as he throws on his jacket for the final time. 'You can't "fix" me.'

And maybe, he confesses to himself as he stalks home, he doesn't want to be. Not in the way that everyone seems to think.

 

When battle comes again, Bruce watches them head out. They look like a team already, and Hulk roars triumphantly before following the group.

Bruce isn't sure why he heads out to the roof. Maybe to get a better view, maybe because he knows he won't run into anyone out here. He stands at the top of Stark Tower and takes in big breaths of air. Still he feels suffocated. There are emotions battling for dominance inside him, but he doesn't know how to let them out anymore. His father was much the same; all he had was anger, and he took that out on his family.

Bruce doesn't want to become like that.

He tries to cry, but he can't. So he grips the railing and stares out at the vast New York skyline, and howls. He yells until his throat hurts and his chest constricts, knowing that no one will hear him, no one can understand how this feels - 

He doesn't see his attacker until it's too late.

It looks like a giant bat, all leathery wings and teeth and eyes. It swoops in silently from the side and lunges for him, jaw open.

Bruce ducks instinctively, overbalances and falls off the edge of the tower.

Cold air rushes past him, robbing the breath from his lungs. He hears a screech behind him and then the bat-thing falls past him, missing a wing and trailing black blood behind it.

A massive hand swings out and grabs Bruce’s ankle. He gasps as his momentum is brought to a crushing halt.

‘Hulk catch,’ a voice rumbles. Hulk hangs from the edge of the tower, one hand on Bruce and the other hooked over the roof. His fingers leave dents in the concrete.

Bruce stares at the traffic crawling along far below, his arms dangling above his head as the wind buffets him. Tiny people point up at him, and their shouts drift up on the smell of exhaust fumes. And he finally, finally understands that he is powerless. He is finite. He is as insignificant as a bug in a hurricane.

Hulk’s face looms into view, frowning in concern. ‘Banner hurt?’ He gives Bruce a little shake.

Bruce passes out.

 

Some days Bruce manages. Some days he does not.

On the good days, he works with Tony for a few hours, cleans his room, watches a movie with Natasha. On the bad days he doesn't get out of bed.

One day he walks into the living room and no one is there, because they've gone to yet another meeting that they don't need him in. And something in him finally snaps.

He kicks the couch over. Then he picks up the lightweight coffee table and hurls it at the wall. It clatters away with a leg missing. 

Bruce's fists clench and unclench. His eyes water at the intensity of his anger, once unchecked but now completely unrestrained. He tries out a roar but it comes out choked. He grabs a half-empty mug from the floor and throws that too, and feels a little better.

There's a grunt behind him. Hulk is sitting on the couch by the window, watching calmly. Bizarrely, he's wearing a giant AC/DC shirt; Tony must have designed his wardrobe. 'Smashing good,' he says approvingly.

Bruce bares his teeth at him. Hulk grins and does the same.

Bruce turns away and punches the wall. It hurts. Good. He punches it over and over until blood flecks his knuckles and the pain becomes a deep, intense burning.

‘Puny Banner get hurt,’ Hulk warns.

Bruce knows. He knows it every time he stubs his toe, every time he wakes up in the morning and his joints ache. He feels every one of his forty years and he hates how useless he feels. What is the point of those years of struggle, of learning to accept himself, if it all comes to nothing in the end?

There's a loud crack. The sudden pain brings him to his knees.

A big hand, surprisingly gentle, grabs his shoulders and pulls him away. ‘Stop it.’

Bruce clutches his throbbing hand to his chest, gasping. Then he curls in on himself and breaks down into breathless, quiet tears.

Hulk grunts uncomfortably. ‘Stop. S’okay.’ He pats his back awkwardly as Bruce continues to cry, exhausted with the weight of it all. 'Hulk help?'

He shakes his head, feeling numb. He should be happy - no, ecstatic. He can have a normal life again. He can watch a horror movie and not fear he'll kill someone if he gets scared.

He can grow old. He can die.

Bruce isn't sure how long he stays there, just wrestling with the enormity of living. But soon his knees start to hurt from kneeling. So he stands up, shaking, and tries to breathe more deeply. 'God, my hand...'

Hulk plods over to the overturned couch and rights it with one hand. 'Banner sit,' he orders.

Bruce figures he doesn't have much choice in the matter and obediently slumps down in the middle seat. His hand is starting to swell up and it pulses with his heartbeat. He deserves it. What kind of idiot punches a wall and doesn't expect to get hurt?

Hulk leaves the room, then returns with a slice of bread pinched between his fingers. He deposits it in Bruce's lap. 'Banner eat. Then feel better.'

Bruce just stares at it unhappily, then looks down at the blood trickling down his wrist. Hulk leans in, studying him. He has brown eyes, and they're Bruce's eyes, a little flicker of his soul echoing in a foreign skull. Hulk smiles hesitantly in response to his gaze.

Bruce sighs. 'I've been so stupid.'

Hulk sits down beside him. The couch groans alarmingly but doesn't give out. 'Banner smart. Banner not stupid.'

They sit in silence for a while. Bruce breathes deeply through gritted teeth and lets the tears fall.  'It... it should mean something,' he says finally. 'All the years of shit I endured. All that fucking anger he made me feel...' His father had egged him on, challenging him, daring him to stand up to him. Instead, Bruce had turned it inwards. 'That anger created you.' He looks up. Hulk stares back, frowning. 'And I hated you. I hated you for years. But I got better. I realised that all that suffering was worth something if it meant I could protect the people I cared about. If I could make you a force for good.'

Hulk says nothing.

'But it's not just that. It's more selfish than that.' He grunts at the pain that flashes up his arm. 'I enjoyed it. Knowing that I could hurt people if I wanted to.' The first time he'd met Natasha, he'd gotten a kick out of seeing her lose the cool-headed assassin act. 'And that's who I became. No one could truly hurt me again. My whole identity revolved around you. Without you... I don't know what anything means anymore.'

Hulk grunts. 'Hulk and Banner always together. Always same, but different.' After a moment's hesitation, he retrieves the slice of bread from Bruce's lap and eats it. 'No smashing for you.'

His laugh sounds like a sob. 'Guess I'd better leave the smashing to you from now on.'

'Banner good at other stuff,' he says reassuringly. 'Banner good at... thinking. And boring stuff.'

Bruce sighs, the last of his anger leaving him. 'I don't know why I was upset about them leaving. I told Tony I didn't want to go.' He leans back into the couch. 'Steve was right, I think this is going to take me a while. To figure things out.' The pain in his hand suddenly peaks and he barely suppresses a gag. 'I'd better get this checked out. Shit.'

Hulk stands up so fast he nearly bangs his head on the ceiling. 'Hulk help.' Without waiting for Bruce to get up, he gently curls a hand around Bruce's middle and lifts him up.

'Uh, I can walk, it's fine,' Bruce protests, but Hulk isn't having it.

'Hulk still protect Banner,' he says softly as he carries him down the corridor, 'even more now.'

 

When the others return, all are surprised to see Bruce and Hulk willingly sharing the living room together.

'You guys have a party in here?' asks Nat, nodding at the dented wall.

Bruce stutters. 'Um - that - '

Hulk claps his hands. 'Hulk did. Wall fun to smash. Only smash a little bit though.' He hangs his head. 'Hulk sorry.'

Thor laughs. 'Tis not a home without a few broken things!'

Clint frowns. 'Hey, what happened to your hand, Bruce?'

All eyes turn to him. Bruce's right hand is encased in a cast, supported by a sling. 'I uh, was teaching Hulk how to high-five. It got a little enthusiastic. My fault.' From their faces, no one seems to buy it, but they don't call him out on it. Instead, they all gather on the couches and Tony orders ten different kinds of takeout.

An hour later, they're sitting around and chatting like they always do. Thor tells anecdotes from his time on Asgard through a mouthful of fries. Clint and Tony argue over which kind of dip goes better with nachos. Natasha and Steve talk about a TV show they're both hooked on.

Hulk is more of a quiet observer, only speaking when someone addresses him directly. He glances over at Bruce every now and then as though seeking approval. Bizarrely, Bruce is reminded of a shy child hiding behind a parent. Hulk has only been around for five years, and most of that time was spent locked up in Bruce's head. Naturally, he has few social skills.

'You ever tried one of these, big guy?' Tony throws over a bag of chocolate donuts.

Hulk delicately takes one out and studies it, and his face lights up. 'Banner hate,' he says. 'Hulk never try.'

Bruce watches in amazement as Hulk swallows down two dozen donuts, bag and all, before letting out a chocolately belch.

'Good,' he grunts happily. He wipes his mouth, smearing a giant chocolatey beard down his green face.

Bruce is surprised to find himself laughing. 'I never thought I'd see you smile.'

Hulk grins wider. 'Hulk happy.'

The rest of the evening passes smoothly. Bruce feels included, and he can tell the others are glad to have him back.

On his way back from the bathroom, he bumps into Tony. 'Oh. Hey.'

'Hey.' Tony folds his arms, watching him intently. 'How's the hand?'

Bruce sighs. 'Yeah, I - it was stupid, I'm sorry.' The painkillers have been slowly wearing off over the last couple of hours, and now it's like a persistent toothache. 'I wasn't thinking. I think I lost it a little.'

They wander back towards the party. Natasha appears to be doing a one-armed handstand on top of Hulk's head. Clint cheers them on whilst Steve shakes his head in despair.

'I'm sorry for how I've been acting. It's been a lot to take in, and I'm still trying to come to terms with it all.' He struggles to swallow the lump in his throat. This next part is important. 'Hulk is more useful to the Avengers and I understand that. I'm not gonna stand in your way if - '

'If what? If we kick you off the team? Is that what you were going to say?' Tony turns to look at him incredulously. 'So you think that now the other guy’s walking around with a body of his own, you’re no longer important to us?’

'I can't exactly fight,' he mutters, lowering his head because he can’t bear Tony looking at him like that anymore.

‘You’re shitting me. Do you seriously think you're no use? Who tracked down the Tesseract?' Tony pokes him gently in the chest. 'Bruce Banner did. Who has more PhDs than everyone else here put together?' Poke. 'Uh, Bruce Banner again. Who developed a theory that revolutionalised quantum physics - after falling asleep in the bathtub? Bruce Banner did because that's how clever he is.' He shakes his head. 'Or did you forget that you're a giant brain on legs?'

Bruce feels himself blush. 'But out in the field - '

'Bruce... Hulk is a bonus. Okay? We all love you and you're not going anywhere.' He says it almost jokingly, but his eyes are serious. 'You've got a good head for tactics, you can be our eye in the sky for a while. And if you want to really go out there… I’m sure we can get you combat-ready.’ He puts a hand on his shoulder. ‘When you’re back up to strength, when you’ve found your feet, we’ll try you out in one of my prototypes. See if we can suit you up properly. Flying lessons! It'll be fun - '

Bruce hugs him. It's awkward and one-handed, but Tony hugs him tightly back. 'Thanks, Tony,' he says roughly, his eyes growing hot.

Tony pats him on the back. 'You're not going anywhere, Brucie-bear.'

A shadow falls over them. 'Hulk turn,' Hulk announces.

Tony lets out an uncharacteristic squeak as he's lifted aside, then Bruce finds himself enveloped in an enormous Hulk hug. Arms as thick as treetrunks curl around him, lifting him a few inches off the floor. Again, he's hit with the realisation that Hulk is real and solid. Hulk came from him, grew through him, and probably shares most of his DNA. What does that make them? Brothers?

Bruce hooks his good arm around Hulk's thick neck. He's slightly sticky. 'I never would have figured you as a donut guy.'

Hulk just grunts and keeps hugging him, pressing his huge face against Bruce's shoulder. Bruce feels his face grow warm as the other Avengers turn to watch them. Still Hulk holds him. His breaths are slow and even, and Bruce realises he can feel the steady thump of his heartbeat reverberating through his chest.

Clint leans over to call, 'My turn next, Bruce!'

Hulk is so gentle as he lowers Bruce back to the floor and steps away, head bent low to look him in the eyes. 'Banner feel better now?'

Bruce looks up at them all: the friends who will always be there for him, and the friend who was there all along. He cradles his broken hand. He's not recovered yet, there's still a long way to go. But he's got the Avengers, he's got his own abilities, and he's got Hulk.

'Yes,' he says. 'I think I'll be okay.'

 

It starts with serendipity, and it ends with hope.

They settle back down in the living room to pick at the last of the food. This time, Hulk's voice rumbles out amongst them, laughing at Thor's jokes or requesting people's leftovers. Bruce is content just to exist quietly for now. The future is uncertain, but he doesn't have to face things alone anymore.

When he grows tired, he leans his head on Hulk's big shoulder. It had been exhausting, being angry all the time. Now he finally has some room to grow.

Surrounded by his family and feeling more optimistic of the days ahead, Bruce drifts off to peaceful sleep.