XXAnger towards my friend: XXXXI told my rage, my rage did end.
Resigned to the decision, Bruce nodded and turned his attentions to the equipment he'd been provided. It would be good for his purposes, but there were a few things that a medical doctor could provide use of, so that was one bright side, but his main goal was really to prevent HYDRA from stumbling upon some method of creating the army they desired. Helping himself was just a secondary concern. He was fully prepared to deal with this switch, when Peggy surprised him. "Really? Would it really be ok?" He smiled, warm and genuinely happy, and his eyes lit up like dying embers of a fire suddenly fanned. "That's great. Thank you, Lt. Carter. This is turning out better than I'd expected."
Anger towards my foe:XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
I told it not, my rage did grow.XXXXXX
As his eyes sparked, Peggy knew she had made the right choice. It had been a long while since she had seen that flare. Her smile grew.
“As much as it may seem like it sometimes, we're not the bad guys, Dr. Banner,” she scoffed playfully. “Very well then, I will take my leave. If you need anything, feel free to call me. I left my extension by your wired line. Again, welcome Bruce.” She gave him a polite nod and then took her leave, the really challenge now before her- dealing with the Widow.
As soon as she had gotten back, Natasha had veered directly to her quarters, changed, and entered the gym. She knew he was still aboard, and though the thought terrified her, she refused to let it eat away at her let alone interupt her schedule. At first, she stretched, than ran a few laps. Soon though, she found herself back at the punching bags working on basic tactics. For the most part, her mind was at ease, calm and collected as always. However, when she spied Carter giving the good doctor the tour, her heart skipped a beat. She hated that. Deflecting their gestures and prying eyes, Natasha continued her workout, this time more rigorously.
Time passed, but only by a few moments. She could hear her boots walking down the stairs, then to the door. Natasha refused to stop. She listened to each breath, could almost time her heart perfectly by them if she wanted. Finally, the visitor spoke.
“Come now,” she stated from the doorway, “he wasn't that bad.”
“You haven't witnessed what he can do,” Natasha quipped casually with a grunt, throwing a few more punches into the bag.
“No, I haven't. However, what I do know is both Bruce Banner and the Hulk are valuable assets. Very volatile ones, but assets nonetheless. With time, the board believes-”
“-he can control it,” she finished, landing another three then a kick. “Before then though, he's a ticking time bomb in an isolated area.” Another kick, then a roundhouse. “And I refuse to be around when he explodes.” Two more high-kicks, several punches. “Are thousands locked in a hovering death cage worth one valuable asset, Lieutenant?”
“That's not fair,” Peggy stated coldly.
“Oh, and what is,” she replied, cutting her off once more. Even as she vigorously thrashed at the bag, she kept a level-head.“You might be fooled into thinking the Doctor is the real person in that relationship, but you've never witnessed the monster..” Her pace quickened. “You've never seen what it can do.” High kick, two jabs, a haymaker. “There's no reason, no soul behind those eyes.” Her knuckles began to bleed. “Only pure.” A hard left “Unstoppable.” She leapt into the air, her thighs tightening around the upper part of the bag as she arched her body backwards, hands on the ground. “Rage.” With a tense thrust, the chain broke sending the bag to the ground in a thundrous thud. Arising, Natasha dusted the grains of sand from her clothes and picked up her towel. She dabbed her face and threw the cloth around her neck, grasping each end as she moved towards a very unamused Carter.
“He's your problem, not mine,” Natasha stated bluntly as she brushed past the other woman. Just as she was about to climb the stairs, Peggy replied.
“You're his handler.” Stopping in her tracks, Natasha turned to offer an icy glare. Peggy just smiled over her shoulder. “He asked for you by name.”
“I am not a liaison,” Natasha replied. “I am not a babysitter, I am a spy. That's what you caught me doing, that's what I've always done, that's what I will continue to do-”
“Shut your gob, you bleeding trollop,” Peggy spat as she bridge the gap between them in a venomous stride. “You might be one of SHIELD's best and brightest, but don't think I don't know who and what you were and are. You may be able to end my life before I even think about reaching for my firearm, but I'll be damned if you can tell me what I can and cannot do on my own ship!” She gave the woman a fiery stare as her mouth curled into an irate grimace. “You are now assigned to be Banner's handler. You are to make his stay as comfortable as possible, and are to help train him in anyway he or the agency sees fit. You will do it without question, without hesitation, and will do it flawlessly, even if I so desire to stick my boot so far up your leather-bound a** you could lick the excrement from my heel!” She moved in with a final hiss. “Do I make myself clear, Romanova?”
Natasha's stoic expression remained on her face, her eyes narrowing just a bit to show she was, indeed, paying attention. She didn't let Carter get to her, or anyone really, even if their words or actions pierced like daggers. Apathy and repose were her two greatest assets.
“Crystal,” she replied impassively.
With that, she left the fuming lieutenant to stew. After a shower and another change of clothes, she ventured down the hall to her new assignment. Silently, she slinked in, the Doctor doing some kind of computer research it appeared. Keeping her distance, she spoke.
XXAnger towards my friend: XXXXI told my rage, my rage did end.
He smiled on and said one more time, "Thank you," and waved as Peggy left. Mood lifted considerably, he decided to make himself comfortable. He removed his jacket and placed it on a rack, then rolled up his sleeves before setting out to ready his work space. He pulled his laptop out of his bag and plugged in his portable hard drive. He wheeled a long blackboard over and began transcribing his notes, intending to pick up where he left off with his research from the previous day. He drew some blood so he'd have something to work with.
He had placed a drop on a slide and was examining it under the microscope when she entered. He hadn't realized how much he'd missed having real sophisticated equipment until he had some there in front of him to play with. He jumped when she called his name, not having realized she'd entered. He still wasn't aware that she was an assassin, so to him it seemed she was just quiet. "Oh!" he called at first, but seeing that it was her he breathed a sigh. "Oh. Hello, umm.... Agent Romanoff. I asked Lt. Carter that you be my liaison. I hope that's ok."
Anger towards my foe:XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
I told it not, my rage did grow.XXXXXX
“And I accepted,” she replied as her eyes wandered around the lab. She then faced him across the counter, cautious of her actions around the scientific equipment. “However, I'm usually not assigned to this specific detail, so we'll both be in the dark for awhile with the adjustment.” She pondered weather or not to remain herself or continue with her prior ruse. After a moment of contemplation, she made a decision.
“I also should be forthcoming about myself,” she added. “I am not a recruiter for SHIELD, nor a liaison. I'm a reconnaissance specialist, trained in various espionage and interrogation practices and combat protocols. For lack of better words, I'm a spy, or assassin.” She trailed off. Better to keep the details to a minimum she decided.
“I was sent to secure you because of this training, and though everything I told you was truthful, I augmented my personality accordingly to sway your judgment of both SHIELD and myself. I didn't do so out of malicious intent, but for the good of the mission. Now, my mission is still you, and though it'll take cooperation on both our parts, I intend to follow it through successfully.” She paused momentarily, her eyes still studying him as she had the moment she met him.
“Given it's a different nature entirely, I felt I should be myself out of courtesy, same with informing you of the change. If that isn't sufficient, I'm sure Lt. Carter would assign you another handler upon request.”
His smile faded and Bruce averted his eyes and kept them averted for almost the whole of her speech. He felt pretty foolish now, thinking maybe he wasn't just part of some mission. When she finished, he said, "It's alright. I appreciate your honesty. I think it's your honesty that really convinced me to come anyway, not an assumed personality. Still.... it was very nice."
He flipped through a notebook to try to pretend he wasn't looking away out of a feeling of shame but decided it was futile. He looked at her again and addressed her directly. "If you don't mind being my liaison then I wouldn't mind having you. At the very least I know you can fake it, and that's something."
His hesitation and slump in posture alerted Natasha of his disappointment. Saying she felt nothing for his plight would be a lie, even though it was quite small. Though he said his arrival was from facts rather than feelings, that was also misleading. Perhaps she should have borne her mask after all.
"I could continue with the persona if you'd prefer, Dr. Ban- Bruce." Given her slight infidelity, she wasn't sure if she was allowed the privilege of a first-name basis. However, he had asked politely to be called as such, so she obliged.
"Thank you for offering, but I think I'd prefer to talk to the real woman for now." He looked at her for a moment and was at a loss for what to say, then glanced around and saw the display screen for the microscope. "Well since you're here, would you like to see something? This is what I was working on in the last city I was in. You know, before my room got stormed by the police." He increased the magnification and turned the monitor toward her, showing what might at first glance have appeared to be normal blood, but among the blood were a number of cells that were unusual in that they were green. "What do you know about hemoglobin?" he asked.
Eddie sighed. Another cold, rainy night. Oh the night had started fine, not a cloud to be seen but by the time the van had crossed into lower Manhattan, the wind had kicked up and a dark storm had kicked up. Now standing on a corner of a street, soaked to the skin despite the jacket, Eddie was in a foul mood. Not just with the rain, granted that sucked but also with the entire work night. Two cameras shorted due to the rain, the microphone wasn't picking up decently and on top of it all the entire report had been about the most mundane drivel ever. "No one gives a damn about the "excess amount of road garbage" cluttering our streets. Thats what street cleaners are for." "Dammit, when was he going get some real stories. Just as the crew was finishing wrapping up the cords, and getting everything squared away in the truck, A loud explosion rocked the night. They all stared at each other stunned. " That sounded like it was from only a few blocks away". Eddie turned grabbing a small recorder and dashing off into the night to find the source.
Though it wouldn't have been much effort, she was relieved at his response. The Helicarrier was the one place she didn't have to masquerade and she was glad to keep it that way. Turning her eyes away from him and too the monitor, she gazed at the screen, uncertain of what she was actually looking at. "Not much," she replied. "Only that it's in our blood and carries oxygen."
"Yes, that's exactly right," he replied. "That goes for me as well, most of the time. But, as you might be able to tell, there are... ummm, some differences." He pointed out the larger free-floating green cells. "These are a kind of green pigment that's the result of the breakdown of hemoglobin. These cells are no longer able to carry oxygen, but they have other properties - namely anti-mutagenic and anti-oxidizing ones. Obviously I'm not able to study myself during a transformation, but I believe that when it... when it happens, my red blood cells begin breaking down into this."
She listened while he explained, however, she assumed complete understanding was far over her head. Instead, she asked what she could. "So, the pigment coloring," she began, her eyes darting back to him. "Does that also explain why you turn green as well?"
"Well, I believe so." he replied. "I think it initially happened as a defense mechanism - a sudden adaptive reaction to a powerful stimulus. In my case it was the gamma radiation. If that's so then it may also mean that it's not possible to duplicate it. Other subjects might have an entirely different reaction to the same stimuli. Anyway, it was my thinking that, if I could isolate this pigment and administer a certain amount to myself at the moment of transformation, then I could arrest the process and not change completely. I could be able to stay in my right mind - control it. This is only in theory, of course. Even if my circumstances cannot be exactly duplicated, there's still reason to prevent others from attempting to venture down the same path. As I said, it could end up worse than even me."
"If that's the case, we'll just have to stop it," she stated, crossing her arms. There was no trace of doubt in her tone, as if it was a simple task. "Since your condition differs from the subjects, I take it any form of treatment you create, be it a cure or a tranquilizer, won't have the same effect. Unless someone can drag in a sample for you, correct?"
He nodded. "Right again, Ms. Romanoff. If I do manage to create something that will give me control, however.... Well, I won't need anyone else to bring in samples. I'll be able to go get them myself." He imagined for a moment being in control. He imagined people not eyeing him warily and not being in danger of destroying everything and everyone around him at any moment. It was thoughts like this that had kept him from giving up for years. "In either case though, other cures or treatments would simply be derivative of the original, just as these other avenues of research have been."