“You’re just using me to get to the Hulk. You don’t care about me.”
Something that Bruce had said during their little adventure in Sakaar that Thor hadn’t been able to get out of his head. Of course it would have seemed that way, but he didn’t really have a choice, did he? Thor didn’t know much about Earth science, but he was almost certain that seven PHDs were no match for the Goddess of Death. It took Thor a while to understand why Bruce didn’t like the Hulk. Who wouldn’t want to have that kind of strength? He himself could vouch for how great it was. But then he had control over what he did, and could choose to wield that kind of power when he wanted to. Whereas Bruce…Well, his relationship with his own strength was a lot more complicated. Thor was beginning to realise that he’d been insensitive (even if it was to save the universe), and knew he had to set about making it right. Humans were complicated. And it really didn’t help how fond of Bruce Thor had become. He’d quickly come to realise how much more there was to the mild-mannered doctor than just his rage-fuelled counterpart.
Now that the ship had made it to Earth safely, and they had settled everyone (for the time being, at least. SHIELD was having a hell of a time trying to cover up an entire ship full of aliens landing in the middle of New York), Thor couldn’t put this off any longer. An apology and an explanation should set things right, he thought to himself. And then…Well, one thing at a time.
Thor knocked on the door of Bruce’s room. Given its size and out of the way location, it had been decided that the Avengers compound would be the best place to house everyone temporarily. It also meant that Loki could be kept under some kind of observation for the time being – though how long that would last without disaster striking was beyond Thor. The Hulk had been confined to a more secure area, and Thor sincerely hoped that Bruce had been wrong about being stuck. Thankfully a few days of rest and visits from old friends eventually pulled Bruce back out to his normal nervous self.
Bruce was sitting on his bed with a book. He sat up, setting the book aside. “Hi. Is everything alright?”
“Yes, yes, everything is fine. I, um.” Thor could easily be prompted to give an incredible speech at any given moment, such was the nature of being royalty, and he wasn’t exactly shy when it came to relationships (he was centuries old, after all), but this? This was hard.
“Would you like to come in?” Bruce asked. “You don’t look very comfortable standing there.”
“Uh, yes, okay.” Thor hadn’t realised he was hunched over in the doorway. Humans really were small. “I would like to speak to you about…something.”
This was really hard.
Bruce gestured to his bed. Thor looked at him like he’d lost his mind.
“Have a seat.”
“Oh. Oh, right. Yes, okay.” Thor sat down.
“What’s on your mind?”
“On my mind? Right, yes, because I came to see you. Of course.”
Bruce looked at him quizzically. “Are you feeling alright?”
Thor just stared at his hands. Maybe if he didn’t make eye contact, this would be easier. “I need to speak to you,” he started again. “It’s about, it’s about something you said on Sakaar.”
Bruce frowned, trying to remember what might have prompted this. "Okay…?”
“You see, you said that I didn’t care about you, that I was only using you to get to the Hulk.”
“I didn’t mean anything bad by it, I’d had a lot thrown at me in one day and…Well, it was all a lot to take in,” Bruce offered by way of explanation. “I know you care about me.”
Thor almost choked on his tongue. “Y-You do?” How could he possibly know?
“Yeah, I mean, we’re friends, right?”
‘Oh. Friends. That’s what he meant.’
“Yes, yes, of course. But um, well, there was something else.”
This was ridiculous. Thor, Son of Odin, God of Thunder, Ruler of the Nine Realms and whatever other fancy titles that had been tacked onto the end of his name throughout his years, who had taken on the Frost Giants and lived to tell the tale, was having difficulty admitting how he felt to a human. As if in his 1500 years of life he had never done this before. But Bruce…Bruce was different. And it wasn’t just because he could turn into a giant green rage monster depending on his mood. There was just something about him that drew Thor to him.
“Right, yes, something else. You see, it’s um, well, it’s- I really should have thought through what I was going to stay before I came here.” He sighed, forcing himself to look up at Bruce. “I…like you.” He braced himself.
Bruce just looked at him. “You like me.”
“You.” Bruce pointed at him.
“Like me.” He pointed at himself.
Thor didn’t understand. He thought Bruce was supposed to be smart. “Was I not clear?” he asked.
“No, no, I got it. It’s just…Why?”
“Why me?” And Bruce looked so small and confused, as if he genuinely didn’t understand how a God could possibly show any interest in someone like him.
“Well, you’re handsome, for one thing. And smart and brave and kind and…” Now that Thor had found his voice, he was unable to stop himself. Bruce felt himself getting redder and redder. Thor stopped mid-sentence.
“What’s wrong?” he asked, concerned, “Why are you turning red? You normally turn green when you’re angry. Have I made you angry? Should I go?”
Bruce shook his head, trying not to laugh. “No no, of course not, I’m just- stunned, is all.”
“But you’re still moving, how can you be stunned?”
This time Bruce laughed. “It’s an expression. What I mean is, I just didn’t expect this from you. I never thought- I never thought I’d be having this conversation with you.”
“Why not? Are you crazy? Because it’s you, you’re Thor, a literal God, and I’m- Well, I’m me.”
Thor was having a hard time understanding what Bruce was trying to say. “Why do you say ‘me’ like that?”
“Like you’re not worthy of me.”
Now it was Bruce’s turn to look at his hands. “Because I’m not.”
Thor reached out, gently tilting Bruce’s face up with one hand to look at him. Bruce was couldn’t bring himself to look him in the eye, his face still very red.
“I think I can tell who is and isn’t worthy of me,” he said gently, voice full of sincerity, “And you must certainly are.”
He leaned in slowly, giving Bruce plenty of warning should he want to stop, and pressed a kiss to his mouth.
It had been so long since Bruce had had even the slightest amount of intimacy with a person that he wasn’t sure what to do with himself. People usually closed their eyes when they kissed, right? Right, that seemed less weird. And hands, what did hands do? He reached up, gently touching one hand to Thor’s. Thor pulled back to look at him.
“I’m sorry if that was too bold of me.”
Bruce shook his head. “No, no, it was- It was okay.”
“I should have asked how you felt about me first, rather than being so brash.”
Bruce smiled. “Is it not obvious?” His hand was still on Thor’s.
Thor nodded, clearly pleased with himself. “More so now.”
“You know, it’s not just me,” Bruce said, tone serious.
“What do you mean?”
“Well, it’s not just me, it’s…him too.”
Thor’s expression immediately relaxed. “Oh, that’s fine. I like the Hulk.”
Bruce grimaced. “Glad one of us does.”
“He’s not so bad once you get to know him.”
Bruce just looked at him. He really was clueless sometimes. “He and I don’t quite see eye to eye.”
“But how could you see eye to eye when you’re the same-” Thor paused, realisation dawning on him. “Ah, I understand. An expression.”
Bruce bit back a laugh. It really was hard to stay mad around Thor for long. His heart was grateful for that.
“He doesn’t scare me,” Thor told him in a reassuringly tone, as if he were talking to a frightened animal. In a sense he was. “In all of our encounters, I’ve always emerged victorious.”
Bruce frowned. “That doesn’t sound ri-”
“The point is,” Thor interrupted, “is that I can handle him, should it ever come to it. But I won’t be going out of my way to make you angry.”
Bruce chewed on his inside of his cheek – an anxious tic.
Thor squeezed his hand gently. “You can trust me,” he murmured, “I trust you.”
They had a lot to figure out – Bruce’s baggage wasn’t quite like anyone else’s – but for now he let himself just have the moment. It was about time either of them were allowed a moment of happiness like this.