1963-07-26 - Bailing Bruce Banner
Summary: Bruce Banner calls the only phone number he knows for help when he ends up in jail several states a way. Pepper makes some poor assumptions about who is in jail.
Related: NA
Theme Song: None
bruce pepper 

The call had come some time ago. Any time a prison asks if you will take a Collect call, you have to wonder who felt the need to use you as their only opportunity for freedom.

In this case, Bruce Banner had only one number at his disposal. Years on the run meant that he had always been prepared to wake up somewhere unknown; he'd always had an exit plan. Several weeks of perceived freedom from that life, and suddenly his plans are all shot. Normally he'd have had some contingency. This time? He woke here — in a prison in New Mexico — arrested for vagrancy and public indecency.

It was only as he stood in his cell and had felt that little bit of napkin in his pocket that he'd realized he even had Pepper Potts number still. And, rather sheepishly, he didn't know who else to call. Even with his new allies at SHIELD, knowing how to reach them proved difficult.

And so he sits on an uncomfortable makeshift bunk in a small box. In the cell next to him, a heavily tattooed man wreaks of some sweet-smelling drug, and yells incoherently about needing something.

Lips pressing together, Banner frowns, "This man needs a doctor — " the declaration is as clear as he can make it as he steps to the bars. "I think…" his eyebrows furrow "…he seems to have indications of — "



The moment the call came, well, Pepper was perplexed but not exactly surprised. Truth be told? Deep down, she figured it was coming from Tony. Nothing would surprise her about Tony ending up in jail somewhere many states away, except that she'd seen him this afternoon. Still, she didn't put it beyond him. So, standing in her night robe, hair already out of the pins and eyes only half asleep, she mutters into the phone, "Yes, I'll accept the charges.." And she waits. And waits.

The moment the call does actually go through, she sighs over the line with a tone of concern and disbelief, "Tony, what the HELL did you do…" She starts. She's just made assumptions at this point. She'll soon find out they are very WRONG assumptions.


"…" there's a long pause at the response. Bruce's voice clears and he offers in a tired, very parched sounding voice, "I suppose Mister Stark has a colourful… " nope, Bruce doesn't have a good word for whatever has Pepper supposing this is Tony, and so he blazes passed it. "Miss Potts? This is Dr. Bruce Banner."

There's a long wait after that, followed by, "We met at a diner awhile ago, and you left me your number." His tongue rolls over his lips, "I seem to be in some need — "


"Shit!" Pepper doesn't curse all that often, but occasionally they slip out. She smacks a hand over her mouth and gives a little, embarrassed laugh, "I…I mean, shoot. Sorry. I… just… It's complicated… Yes, he does.." Wow, how to clean up the fact she just outted her boss as a little bit crazy and potentially a criminal. Pepper takes in a deep breath, trying to reset her mind and thought process while Bruce explains things over the phone.

"Yes, goodness…Dr. Banner, I'm so sorry. I remember you, of course. The other insomniac. I… I will admit, I did NOT picture you as the sort to be calling from… well, lock up. Is everything okay? I suppose that's a stupid question. What happened? How can I help?" Immediate trust, immediate concern. She trusts her instincts about people enough to actually trust that Bruce doesn't deserve to be where he is, so the practical Pepper is immediatley going about fixing it.


There's a small groan as Bruce forces a grimaced smile. "I've…" been off the grid for the better part of a decade? Haven't considered this fully? "…not got any numbers. I still had yours from that night, and I'm hoping you can help me get out of here." There's a pause followed by a sigh. "Evidently," he coughs, "the police picked me up unconscious on the four corners monument. I woke up here." The bashful, altogether sheepish tone that had defined Banner's mannerisms that night in the diner are in full force as he speaks, leaving little question that he feels downright idiotic for finding his way here.

"I honestly have no idea what happened." It's about ninety percent true. How the Hulk managed to travel this far? Bruce will never know.


There is a slow exhale over the phone, but it's a measured, planned tone. This is a voice Pepper often uses. It's the planning voice, the one going through a bunch of not perfect options and trying her very best to find one that is slightly better than others. He might hear the quiet pacing of her bare feet on kitchen tiles as she crosses back and forth in small pacing that the phone cord will allow her in the little kitchen. At least she was closer to that phone than the bedroom.

"Alright. First, where are you? Second, have they set any sort of bail? I can wire money… Probably tonight, I just need to find a place that is open. Or call our accountant. Then we need to get you air fare. How far are you again?" There is no hesitation in her voice. She's just going to fix this.


The exhale is noted and Bruce nods slightly, altogether unsure about what Pepper is about to say. Undoubtedly, however, relief colours over his expression at the questions. "Farmington, New Mexico. Evidently they won the coin toss," the wry tone still contains a healthy dose of self deprecation. "Bail is $3,000. I have access to nothing. No ID. Nothing."

His lips press together tightly, "I have some resources if I were able to locate them." But again, he knows no phone numbers. He really needs to get a tattoo on his leg or something. "Pepper. Thank you. for the help." Pause. "Any help. You could even direct me to a lawyer if you don't want to extend yourself too much — "


"3,000…" Pepper breathes out. It's a lot of money. Not a lot to Stark. Not even necessarily debilitating to her bank account these days, but it's still a lot of money. She takes a moment to consider how she can get it this time of night. There is more pacing. The phone stretches a bit as she pulls down a glass and a bottle of scotch out of one of the cabinets and pours herself a MUCH needed dose of the stuff. He might be able to hear the motion of glass in the background, "Sorry, I'm thinking.." She mutters after another heartbeat or two. She doesn't want him to feel like she's leaving him hanging.

"…Alright. I need to get dressed and wire the money to the sheriff's office, or where ever you are… Can you get that information for me, at least? I'm going to wire three thousand and one hundred… Take the extra money to get a hotel room and some breakfast tomorrow morning. We'll have a plane for you at the local air port at a… somewhat sane hour tomorrow early afternoon, to get you back into the New York area. We can work everything else out once you're free and safe. Is that doable? And… it's okay. I…I'm glad you still had my number."


Banner isn't one to take help. He's been playing nearly solo (sans Hulk) for many years, and so the plan is met with a sharp inhale. "That.. works." He motions towards the officer nearest him and gets all of the information about how to get the money to the sheriff's office, and relays it over the phone to Pepper.

Once that is done, he manages, "Thank you. Thank you, Miss Potts. I really appreciate this grace." Even more so because he is simply not used to it.


It takes a few moments to get all the information, and then Pepper is quite gentle but firm with the officer about the extra money she's sending, where it is to go, and that they should be gentle with her cousin or else she'll be so upset and she's already near crying and, suddenly, the officer on the other end is reassuring HER everything will be alright. Bruce, hearing the other side of this conversation, may get the feeling the officer got quite firmly sucker punch conned by a pretty voice. But, then, if that was the way Pepper could ensure the money goes to him, she would consider it worth while.

When he's put back on the line, the tired smile in her voice is a bit more clear. "It's alright, Dr. Banner. I… I cannot imagine any circumstance in the world where you deserve to be where you are. So, I'm going to get you out of there. It might mean you need to do some literal free-freelance consulting for Stark Industries, but I have a feeling your brain puts itself to work whether you like it or not some nights. So… just stay put. The officer knows just what to do with the money. I need to get dressed and run to the shop which does wires. It will probably be an hour or so, but… Help is coming. You'll be out soon. I promise."


Bruce manages to hide his amusement at the officer's reassurances to Pepper, but when he's on the phone again, the thinly veiled amusement presents itself in a weary smile all his own. Despite himself and his circumstances, Banner personifies good humour, "I'm alright, Miss Potts. Truly." Nothing that hasn't happened before; of course, in the past he hadn't been caught so off-guard. "And I will sit tight. I appreciate the help, and of course I will lend what I can to Stark Industries and do whatever I can to — " make up for this incredible inconvenience " — repay you." Alongside the presumed day job; that may or may not be missing him.


"Alright, Dr. Banner. Just…hold tight. I'll see you tomorrow afternoon. Good night." Pepper states simply, as if they were just finishing a catch up friendship call or a bit of light business. One more breath, and the signal on the other end of the phone line goes dead. Pepper does actually need to get dressed, dig out the account numbers for her personal account and one of the Stark accounts she manages. Go to the 24 hour shop, and make certain this all happens! But, Pepper's never said anything is too hard and this is not one of those things. Sure enough, within 2 hours, Bruce is being let out of his cell…


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