1963-08-08 - Choosing Not to Run
Summary: After some time without contact, Bruce gets in touch with Amadeus.
Related: None
Theme Song: None
amadeus bruce 

Mario's Pizza New York City

This pizza place is open 24/7 and sells from the slice all the way extra-large pizzas. It's proper, Brooklyn pizza with thin crust, lots of sauce and lots of cheese, best eaten while the cheese is still threatening to melt off the slice. There are little black and red tables that line the interior of the restaurant, with wooden chairs that have that spiral scrolled wooden back style popular in many pizza joints. The floor is black and white check tiles and kept mostly clean. There's a large, new juke box in the far corner, often belting the most popular hits of last year. Sodas flow freely in large glasses and the brick walls are lined with Coca-Cola signs, some framed baseball cars, and Elvis posters.

The hour grows later and the sun sets on The Big Apple. The summer has been a hot, sticky one and evenings are a welcome blessing at the end ofthe day. With so much of the city covered in concrete there is little to retain the heat from the fading day and the last warmth of orange is just a light glimmer on the horizon. This time of day brings Amadeus Cho to this pizza place in Brooklyn he'd heard about. Now that he's no longer under strict SHIELD custody…it would appear that he's on a tour-de-junk-food.

The young man sits towards the back of the restaurant facing the door as he's been wont to do for a couple of years now. That's the life of one constantly looking over their back. As always, there is a not-so-subtle lump in the breast of his jacket where Kerberos is hiding inside. The waitress, a pretty blond, is looking at Amadeus with a raised brow as he speaks. "Could I get two pies with everything but anchovies?" he asks with a broad smile to her. "With extra cheese." The woman understandably blinks, writes it down, and takes it back to the counter.


Old habits die hard. Before coming to Marios, Bruce Banner double backed because he felt like he was being followed. He wasn't. Life on the other side has been generous, yet challenging. With a smirk he strides into the restaurant, head down so as not to garner unwanted attention. The posture is as much habit as intention. He's never been one to stand out in a crow; a complete irony when it comes to his alter ego.

He slides into the booth across from Amadeus, and shoots the younger man a stitch of a smile — a half-grin, familiar, and, as far as Bruce is concerned, easy. "Already order?" he asks quietly. Even after the question is asked, Banner sets a large sketchbooks on the table and begins flipping through it, displaying one drawing after another. Only to stop. Niceties are important and so he asks, "How are you," a glance is given to the younger man's pocket, "both doing?"


The appearance of Bruce wasn't something that Amadeus was expecting. SHIELD had been pretty hush-hush about the young man's not-so-subtle prods for information on what they knew about The Hulk. When he sees the man, his face immediately lights up with a broad smile. "Bruce!" His name is exclaimed and he's up on his feet in a flash. The sudden stirring rouses the puppy hiding in his jacket and the fuzzy head of a young coyote pokes up from over the fabric. He doesn't move to close that distance, but this was clearly a surprise to him. It isn't something he's used to.

"Man, it's great to see you," Cho begins, blinking in shock still to make sure he's seeing right. "We're doing fine. H-how are you?" There's a furrow of his brows then as he eyes Bruce. Not because of his Hulkness, but rather because there are people looking for him in the city. It's fairly clear that he's not as afraid as other people of 'the other guy'.


"And it's always good to see you," Banner's voice reflects warmth and kindness. There's a twitch of Bruce's lips, a tell of sorts, as he ponders the question. "Good enough." There's just a hint of skepticism in the phrase as Bruce tugs the glasses from his nose and cleans them incessantly on his t-shirt. "Been busy," he offers quietly before shrugging.

His hand rakes through his curly-mop hair and he watches the other man intently. Bruce's head cants to the side thoughtfully. "Been working on some things. Twice over." He rubs his hand over his chin, "The powers that be convinced me to stop running. For now." Because that's all it is: a current state of affairs.


Blinking again, Amadeus remembers the other question asked finally. Properly surprised is definitely not his natural state or he'd have worked it all out by now. "Right. Yeah. I hear you." His lips twist in a worried sort of quirk and he squints a touch at him. There's a glance across the street where agents are watching them both. "Heh. Yeah. I decided running wasn't working out anymore."

The young man gestures to the chair opposite of him with a broad smile then. "I ordered, by the way. Two large pies, but I could always order another one." Cho moves back to his own seat and clears his throat. "I'm now working for the powers that be as well. They're…" Another glance is made out the window. "…skittish, aren't they?"


Bruce's cheeks puff out with an exhalation of breath. "They're," he searches for the right word, earning a long pause as the cogs of his mind turn, "unpredictable." He watches Amadeus several beats. "I agreed to let them utilize me and my work. "I did not, however, offer them any other versions of myself," he sucks on the inside of his cheek. The Hulk continues to be off limits to SHIELD and their allies.

"I think their wants extend beyond present company. They don't ask many questions though." Not to Banner anyways. "Also been spending some time at Stark Industries." His lips press together tightly and he flips open the sketchbook he's been toting around. Each of the sketches is another blueprint of sorts, until he comes to the last only to stop. "And what about you? They been… " his hand rocks uncertainly in the air.


A raise of a single brow is given to Bruce and Amadeus slowly nods his head. "Yeah. I worry about that." Drawing in a breath and then exhaling though, he finally lets his eyes settle on Bruce more fully. "But I wouldn't expect you to offer that either. Besides, you're a brilliant scientist on your own. They haven't been poking at you, though?" There is a bit of genuine curiosity there in his eyes regarding that. Not that they'd be able to do much poking.

"They do at least to admit to be interested in 'talent'," Amadeus says and gestures to him with his right hand. "It's unsubstantiated, but I have a feeling they've found a threat that's out of their league. Just a hunch." Another single-shouldered shrug is lifted and helooks back out the window briefly. "You know? It kind of took me by surprise how accomodating they are. I mean - it's an intelligence agency, so who knows, right? Rogers, Wilson, and Morales are actually…all kind of cool."


There's a small lift of Bruce's eyebrows, a silent reflection of the doctor's good humour and general sense of accommodation. "I'm not sure it's talent on my part, but I managed to negotiate terms I am comfortable with, for now." His gaze flits to the window, "And no, no poking. I said they couldn't. I'd keep on the move before I would let them get… that." Because sometimes a person has a duty to keep things locked down.

He watches Amadeus a few beats. "What kind of threat?" he lifts his hand to signal the waitress and motions towards an empty coffee cup on the table, effectively ordering without speaking. "Rogers is… bright. I don't know the others." His lips purse slightly and his head sways back and forth, "I go and work in the lab and tinker. I'm doing some consulting for Stark Industries as well because I owe Pepper Potts a favour — " pause. "It's weird doing any kind of work for anyone else."


"They don't need to be messing with that," Cho seems to agree entirely, nodding his head to the doctor. "The fact that you didn't just…evaporate is nothing short of amazing." There's a smile there tugging at his lips for a moment then. "Not that…anyways." Clearing his throat then, he takes a moment to consider. "What I should say is that any experiment involving well…that would likely not be successful on catastrophic levels."

Taking a breath in then, he glances once more back out the window with just a little annoyance, but it's an acceptable annoyance to him. "I'm not sure. I haven't connected all of the data yet. I found a connection between Pythagoras and something called the Olympus Group. I don't know a thing about them yet, oddly." Again, he turns his eyes to Bruce and he suddenly smiles. "Man, we really stepped in it. I figured out the stability problem with the reactive field, by the way, speaking of work, but I'm having some power issues. But…yeah. It's a bit unsettling, isn't it?"


Banner's eyebrows draw together. "Olympus group…?" he repeats, putting it to memory as he asks the question. "I'll keep my ears and eyes open." The waitress comes over with the coffee pot and fills Bruce's cup, earning a small smile of thanks and a nod before she retreats again. Banner brings the cup to his lips. "What did you do to resolve it? Change the equation? Rebalance the ions?"

He hrms quietly. "Very unsettling. I'm building something — testing it in a real lab. Do you know how long it's been since I've worked in a real lab?" He virtually grins as he finally finishes flipping through the notebook, and points to a particular drawing, "This," he announces, "is the blueprint for the Absorbatron." He winces slightly, not entirely sold on the name. He slides the blueprints — covered in calculations over. "I need to test a small version in a lab, and am currently building it at Stark Industries, but theoretically it can absorb a nuclear explosion…"


"I had to inccrease the frequency of the catalyst charge," Cho replies with a bit of a wince after. "It's /hell/ on the battery. Good for about fifteen minutes a day total before it needs a full recharge. I'm looking into other power solutions now. Maybe you can help me out a bit? You're way better with atomic energy types." He then goes on to address the rest with a thin smile. "Yeah, not sure who they are." It isn't too much longer before the waitress is returning again with two large pies with toppings just piled on.

He does crane over the pizzas to look at Bruce's design for the Absorbatron. "Heh. There are worse," he tells Banner. "The important thing is what it does…which is invaluable." The possibilities are considered and he slowly lifts his brows. "Can you imagine that as a countermeasure application for any potential nuclear meltdowns at plants? You're building the prototype too, you said?" Clearly he's interested in the tech more than the pizza right now, pouring over the drawn blueprints.


There's a small nod at Amadeus. "Smart," Bruce takes another gulf of coffee and sets the cup back down on the table. "I'd be happy to help. And would enjoy having a look. I'm always a sucker for a good power solution." The words are punctuated by a self-deprecating smile.

"That's exactly it. And right now, the threat of nuclear war since the first A-bomb fell… this could work." His lips twitch, "Maybe." HIs throat clears, "Theoretically."

There's an enthusiastic nod following the question. "I'm working on it. If you'd like to help, I'll check with Miss Potts about getting you access to the lab with me. I'd appreciate it. Plus, it's a real lab. Testing it promises to me fun."


The self-deprecating smile from Banner ears him a more jovial one from Amadeus and the young man finally takes a slice of pizza. Leaning back and sitting back down, he takes a big bite and just listens for the time, nodding his head along with Bruce's words. "Heh. I don't know about military application. Every time you find a way to defend against one attack, enemies always invent others." The words are cautionary, but he knows Bruce already knows. He can see it in the man's face, likely. Banner is smarter than he is. "Hopefully the next thing isn't…worse."

There's a briefly sad smile given to the older man before he clears his throat. "I'd love to help on the project, though, of course! Might actually bring me a step closer to solving our power issues with the field generator. The real fun is going to be trying to dial in to the dimension that this material originally came from. It's essentially antimatter with a reversed molecular polarity and some…interesting effects. I have a bit more for study, but then it's going to be…basically trying to synthesize the circumstances in which it gained its properties. Which is going to require…something big. The Absorbatron may actually come in handy for that."


"Excellent." Bruce rubs his hands together excitedly. "We'll get you access to the lab, and we can get this finished. There's some important applications across the board, and testing is everything. If it works — " his eyebrows lift and he nods slightly.

"It'll be good to collaborate again." He emits a sigh. "Just need to stay ahead of SHIELD. Maybe we can use this for our own ends."


Amadeus is a bit starry-eyed at getting the chance to work with Banner again, but he does manage to maintain some semblance of composure. Cho has no formal degree and he probably never will, from what Bruce knows of him. One would be hard pressed to find a regular professor that could teach him anything at all. "Thanks, Bruce," he says finally, giving the older man a fond smile.

"There's…a lot we can do," is Cho's answer. He cants his head to the side and winces a bit. "Sooner or later, it's going to break. You already have Stark making…whatever it is he's making for them. I'm not convinced they're adverserial, but…and I mean it as fact and nothing more…there are a lot of things we could do when we put our heads together that some people just aren't ready for yet."


Banner strokes his facial stubble thoughtfully. He doesn't have a lot of students, and has never really had much of an opportunity for them, "I'm not sure exactly what they hope to achieve." His eyebrows lift slightly, "My mother," he doesn't talk about her much, "used to suggest that freedom and security were opposites. I feel like it's becoming ever true."

He swallows hard. "Well, let's get to work. We can use the lab, and pull together some ideas." A smile tugs his lips upwards, "I think our pooled resources could, at least help move them further. And, perhaps, our own more personal projects," like that pesky alter-ego, "could be navigated. Mind, always cautiously…" he shoots Cho a fond grin, "It will be good to have a lab partner and someone to bounce some ideas off of. Sometimes I feel like I've got cobwebs upstairs."


"Heh. We all have in common that we are born and that someday we'll die," Amadeus says with a shrug of one shoulder again. His eyelids droop briefly before he fixes his gaze to Bruce's. "It matters how we live in between. I think the current models of communism are a good indication of what happens when people lose their agency and are forced to submit to a dictator to maintain any sort of way of life. I think I prefer dangerous and free, personally. SHIELD doesn't…exactly answer to the US government though, do they? We're talking about an international scale." Pondering then, he squints his eyes and leans a bit closer to Doctor Banner.

"Which brings me back to a previous worry." Amadeus takes a deep breath inwards and holds it a moment before puffing his own cheeks out and exhaling. Meanwhile as he speaks, he feeds Kirby pepperonis while taking breaks to bite into the pizza himself. "So do they want some metahuman world police? That sounds bad. Is there something that's threatening the world? I have a few theories about that, but that's bad news too." Amadeus settles the check and asks for pizza boxes as well. "Definitely. I won't be in the lab /all/ the time, but some of it. I want to be out there…seeing the things, you know? Maybe it's selfish, but I do enjoy the rush. Still, I do look forward to being in the lab with you."


There's a quirk of Banner's lips followed but a knowing nod of his head. He was young once too. "Enjoy it. The freedom of accepting some measure of policing has its perks. And you've got some incredibly useful skills to offer." He shoots the younger man an easy grin. "Just… be on your guard. Maybe they're trustworthy. But maybe…" he shrugs. "I've trusted the wrong people before." His eyebrows lift to punctuate his point, "Be better than I was."

A small reminiscent frown draws his features downwards, and that dull ache in his chest acts as a constant reminder that not all of his past bore bad news. Betty rolls over his mind.

He forces a smile that comes out more like a wince before downing the last of his coffee and throwing a few bills on the table. "I should go — " thoughts of General Ross's daughter always wear on him. "I'd like to get the materials for the prototype ordered so I can move on it as quickly as possible." He slides from the booth. "As always, I enjoyed this. Don't be a stranger, and always feel free to check out the lab when you get tired of the field." A twinkle glimmers in his eyes as he stands to leave.

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