Knee deep in seawater for a little while there. You missed all the fun.
Picked the right time to go home, it sounds like.
Is there still clean up? Anything I can do to help?
Sassy Agent! How you been?
If it isn’t the man with the best taste of music this side of the Atlantic!
I was ear-deep in a whole lot of not good.
Hope it’s been better here?
Yeah, yeah, alright. It’s been a while…
But I’m back!
Mostly in one piece, too!
Don’t bother filling me in, I’m not sure I want to know.
I’ll figure out the necessities.
I ended up taking second place in that robot combat competition the other day. I got this cheap, plastic medal with a soccer ball engraved in it and a fifty dollar giftcard to Uncle Allen’s Bay. Someone can take the giftcard, but I’m keeping my medal… I hate seafood.
/slowly raises hand?
“Okay, great,” Bruce said, surprised to find, instead of the cynicism he’d come to associate with most everyone else and their ‘reassurances’, that he was actually grateful for Rowan’s acceptance or resignation or determination or whatever it was. He didn’t want to look too closely at it, lest it turn out to be something not-so-pleasant.
He really hoped that Rowan was as nice as he seemed to be.
The facility was still some way out. It was getting pretty busy, too, thanks to that alarm, with cars coming and going, and the faint figures of people walking about. He shuddered. The big guy didn’t get killed. Bruce was pretty sure, after some careful tests, that he couldn’t be killed. Still, that didn’t stop him from thinking that taking on that many people with just Rowan was perhaps a bad idea.
“Let’s,” he said, with considerably less enthusiasm as he unbuttoned his shirt. The pants were already a lost cause, but he could perhaps save his shirt. He folded it neatly and set it aside. Actually, he was probably not going to see that shirt again either. He was likely to forget it. Still, it was nice having influence over at least that much of his surroundings.
Rowan had his gun - well, guns, and his chemicals, and all manner of weaponry - and they were close enough now that Bruce decided it was about time to let go.
It was a rational choice, and he fell to his knees, as his conscious mind gave into his subconscious. He could feel the switch, too, because it was like being pushed into a tiny box and shoved out of the way. Except not entirely, because where Bruce ended, the Hulk began, and at several points along the way (which were Bruce’s least favorite parts), they were exactly the same person. And this was in addition to the feeling of being ripped and stretched and pulled and torn as his body reshaped itself into something bigger and more monstrous. It was confusing and painful, and he’d purposely never put much thought into it before. He didn’t now either.
As Bruce removed the shirt, Rowan plucked two things from his belt: one small vial of red liquid, and one grenade. He flicked the rubber top off the vial and tipped the contents back into his mouth. Exactly three seconds after swallowing, his pupils dilated and his breathing evened out. With Concentration in a bottle, who needed caffeine?
Rowan didn’t step away from Bruce’s transformation. He’d left Fear out of his daily regimen for a reason. Instead, he watched for a brief moment, fascinated by the change. He knew he couldn’t waste his time, though. He returned his attention to the facility.
“See you inside, big guy,” Rowan commented lowly, unsure of whether Bruce—or was it now The Hulk—was listening. He held the gun by the pin between his teeth, clutched the rifle tight and broke off into a sprint, ahead of the Hulk. As he ran, he yanked the grenade from his mouth, pulling the pin out as well. He flung it, not towards the gate (the Hulk could handle that part), but towards a car.
The explosion that followed was not from any normal normal grenade. But, what was being an agent for S.H.I.E.L.D. worth if you didn’t get to play with cool toys? It flipped the car over, crushing its inhabitants when it landed in a smoldering mess. The bullets were already flying in Rowan’s direction, and he just narrowly avoided getting hit in the foot by performing a diving roll behind the flipped car for cover.
Any time now, Hulk, Rowan thought as he started digging through the hot wreckage. Pain had also been something he’d left out that morning, and it was coming in handy as the scorched metal scraped the back of his hands. He pulled what he could from the corpses inside, most of which was unusable. There was one thing, though, that he picked up for immediate use: a shoulder-mounted rocket launcher.
He poked it and his head out over top of the car and took aim. It fired and blew a large chunk of wall off of the top, to the right of the gate. Rowan dropped down into cover again and retrieved his rifle. He smooshed his fingers against the ear piece to signal Fury and Clint, “Eyes are on us. You’re in the clear.”
Bruce studied Rowan quietly as they traveled. He knew next to nothing about him and, understandably, was rather curious, but Rowan didn’t seem like a very talkative person, if his silence was anything to go by. Bruce returned a few of the smiles he got occasionally, feeling all the while like he ought to say something, even though he didn’t know what exactly that ‘something’ should be.
Instead, after a quick moment of deliberation, he looked out of the window instead, watching the landscape pass rapidly below them. It might have been pretty. He couldn’t tell. They were moving fast enough that it was little more than a blur, but it was still made him feel ill. Still, it was a nice distraction from what he felt was an awkward silence.
Landing was also a nice distraction. Bruce unstrapped and stretched slightly. He had thought about bringing other things with him, guns or chemicals or something, but ruled it out. In the long-run, it’d be pointless and useless when he gave up control. Besides, even if the other guy could use weapons, he wouldn’t. He preferred physical violence. Bruce had to wonder that said about him.
“Look,” he said, as he followed Rowan out, “I’mnot going to lie. I don’t really know what’s going to happen. I haven’t let him loose in, I don’t know, several years. Not purposely.” He tried to stress the ‘purposely’ part of that statement. Bruce had his fair share of accidents and with an alarming frequency, but this wasn’t something he’d ever made a habit of. Which was part of the reason he felt compelled to warn Rowan. Well, warn him again. He’d mentioned it in their correspondence, but this was important. “I just - I don’t know what’s going to happen.”
Rowan spun about on the balls of his feet, a cheerful smile spread across his face as Bruce addressed him. The smile slowly faded as he heard the words. The transport took off again, leaving them to do their work. Taking note of the severity of the situation Bruce described, the smile snapped back to Rowan’s lips. He reached out, no fear or even the slightest hesitation in grabbing Bruce’s forearm reassuringly.
“I’ll make sure to stand back, then!” he returned with a laugh. “And if anything does look like it will go wrong, I’ll point in the right direction. I’m not going to blame you, Bruce, so you do the same.” He retracted his hand and his smile softened to a warm glow. “We’ll do what we can to avoid them, but accidents happen. And I’m ok with that.”
Turning to survey what distance they had left before the facility, Rowan spotted red, flashing lights. Quickly following was the sound of an alarm in the large, walled facility, some 200 meters out. He could just barely make out movement on top of the walls, and the gate opened to let out patrol cars. Rowan pulled the automatic rifle off his back, settled it in his hands and suppressed a shiver from the Russian cold.
“To pull a Stark: Let’s get this party started!” Rowan exclaimed.