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Tony's Secret

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Bruce was hiding in the livingroom. It might not have been a very out-of-the way place to hide but it was far enough away from the lab. Ever since they got back from the art auction Tony had been trying to figure out if Bruce had a normal amount of creativity and artistic ability or if that had separated from his person and been given entirely to The Hulk. Bruce knew that his brand of science didn't involve much creativity. He was more about figuring out 'how' and 'why' than trying to change 'how' or 'why'. That was more Tony's department. Tony was all about changing the rules and inventing things that should really be impossible.

Right now, however, Tony was all about testing and measuring Bruce's nonexistent creativity. Utterly ridiculous. Just like so many things Tony did. Bruce smiled at the thought.

It was kind of relaxing just hanging out in the livingroom. It was weird to not have Black Sabbath burning a hole through his eardrums. It was nice. He drummed his fingers on his knee for a moment before deciding it didn't have to be *this* quiet. Turning on the screen embedded in the coffeetable Bruce started looking through Tony's music collection, hoping but not expecting to find anything that was more to his tastes.

Bruce quickly scrolled through the albums, watching them whiz past, looking for any album cover he might recognize. An album cover caught his eye suddenly, not because he recognized it but because the face on the cover looked at him with a very familiar pair of eyes. Well, one of the eyes anyway. It looked like someone had taken a photo of Tony and scribbled all over it. One eye remained un-graffiti-ed.

Curious now, Bruce queued up the album. To his surprise he heard a nice piano melody start to play.

_____

Tony was looking for Bruce. He had prepared another art disaster for Bruce to try out. He couldn't help it. He just really liked to tease Bruce, and he thought this was a fairly safe topic for relentless pestering because he knew Bruce really didn't care that he sucked at sculpting or playing the ukulele or cake-decorating or... But this one would be fun.

Anyway, he was looking for Bruce. He already checked the lab and Bruce's room and a couple of coffeemaker spots. He was just heading to the kitchen to check there when he heard an all-too-familiar song start to play. His eyes went wide and he might have been a little embarrassed but there were no witnesses to call him out on it.

_____

As Bruce settled back on the couch to listen, Tony came barreling through the adjoining kitchen, getting his foot caught on a stool and almost faceplanting on his way.

"Nonononononono!" Tony repeated loudly, just as the vocals in the song kicked in. Momentarily forgetting he had JARVIS for such situations, he slapped at the table, turning off the music and sank down into the couch next to Bruce. Bruce just looked at him curiously and waited.

"Well, I thought it would be a while before you found out. There's no getting past you though, huh?" He chuckled and rallied his signature confidence. "Well, which do you like better?"

Bruce felt that he was definitely missing some vital piece of information because Tony wasn't making a whole lot of sense right now. "I didn't get a chance to hear it yet. But I liked it more than Motley Crue or whatever you might have wanted to put on."

Tony looked at him like he really didn't get it, and he had the feeling that was the case.

"I meant my secret identity. Which me do you like better?"

Bruce was so lost. He ignored the question and asked his own. "I know that was you on that album cover, and it sounded you for a second before you shut it off. When were you in a band?"

He looked so adorably confused but Tony decided to take pity on him and throw him a bone. He smirked and brought up the cover image in a larger scale. "I wasn't."

That totally didn't clear anything up for Bruce. The picture had a title and name on it but it wasn't Tony Stark. The Futurist, Robert Downey Jr., it said. "I've heard that name before. Why's his name attached to your face?"

"I told you. Secret identity. You aren't the only one who has one. Made some movies too." he smirked "I'm famous!" The smirk turned into a proud grin.

Bruce looked at him like he'd suddenly grown another head. But then he thought maybe he understood after all. Tony had grown up in a rich household. Everything he'd ever wanted was provided for him. Maybe he needed to show himself that he was able to be a success on his own. That he could have made millions on his own from scratch even without his name and it's reputation causing everyone to bow down and lick his shoes.

Bruce was impressed. Tony hadn't gone the engineering route, where people would have more easily recognized him. He'd gotten good at various arts... That thought reminded him of the reason he was in the living room in the first place and he eyed Tony warily.

_____

Tony watched Bruce carefully. Bruce had always been very easy to read. It was all in his eyes. Tony saw the moment that Bruce understood, and was relieved that he didn't have to explain it. He hadn't been sure if someone who grew up poor would understand. Even someone as brilliant as Bruce. He also saw the moment Bruce remembered that Tony had been hounding him about finding his own artistic calling, and he saw resignation and acceptance. Tony bounced a little in anticipation, a mischievous grin on his face.

"Well, let's get this over with. What do I have to try this time? Ballet? Architecture? Writing science fiction?" He got up and started towards the lab, Tony following right behind.

"Body-painting!"

He stopped in his tracks and Tony bumped into him. Bruce turned around with a raised eyebrow and looked at his boyfriend. "Is this paint non-toxic?"

Tony's eyes sparkled. "100% edible. Flavored even."

"They make flavored paint?" he asked skeptically, continuing down the hall.

"Yep! Blueberry pancake."

As they disappeared into their lab, Bruce decided perhaps it was high time he took up painting. He was likely going to need a lot of practice.