1963-08-08 - The Green Brothers
Summary: The cousins meet and catch up.
Related: N/A
Theme Song: Rafferty - Apple Pie
bruce jennifer 

It's early morning and the working world is abuzz of activity — not that New York City ever truly quiets, it just becomes slightly less noisy. In many respects, NYC offers a veil of anonymity for its residents; something Bruce Banner has come to appreciate, especially after years of being pursued for military applications. New York had always been a place to blend. Now, however, he walks ably free.

But old habits die hard.

Even as a 'free' man, Doctor Banner sits in the waiting room of Goodman and Lieber, tucked behind a large, very imposing-looking physics text. He'd quietly spoken his name to the receptionist, requesting to see Jennifer Walters… without an appointment.

This is, of course, how he'd ended up waiting, and reading. For a man that had to be on the run for years Bruce appears altogether unimposing. His dark, curly hair, black spectacles, and sports coat (complete with elbow patches) scream professor rather than fugitive. The only true oddity remains in his choice of pants — particularly their very loose, baggy, and nearly hippie appearance. His appearance is a juxtaposition of multiple identities, blending into some very questionable fashion sense.


The four partners of Goodman, Lieber, Kurtzberg, and Holliway do not include one of their junior attorneys. That may come to change in time. Certainly two of those senior partners are thrown together due to recent events and their services might be stretched rather thin. When Bruce walks in the door, the receptionist steers through dozens of calls, notes, requests for more coffee and a catered wet lunch from Brandenburg's around the corner, and finally greeting him. She juggles these unlikely requirements with grace and the stiffness of a high school secretary. Through her is the power in the room, and no one messes lightly with her.

The clock ticks in judgment. Shadows move. Another client emerges from the door behind her desk and heads out the door, the scent of faint brimstone and pennyroyal in his wake. Such is the nature of the business, which is largely supernatural or minorities of another nature. When and if aliens show up, GLK&H will probably represent them too.

Soon as the door clicks shut, it clicks open again. A petite brunette pokes her head out, not a hair or sleeve out of place. Those tortoiseshell glasses are actually slipping down her nose, so she corrects it immediately. "Pamela, clear my lunch. Get George to handle the Hussman papers, and if he gives any trouble, remind him I'm going to get unhappy. We talked about this. Three times." Pointed emphasis means to speak through her proxy to the unfortunate George, junior attorney, biased against ladies.

Then she looks up, finally, and her hand comes down on the desk. Sacred territory, not allowed, but she needs the balance. The weight of her gaze settles over Bruce, and at once, she gestures him over with a loose wobble of her fingers. "My office is this way."

"He doesn't have an appointment," Pamela mutters in receptionist code for not being impressed.

But the door is open.


The book snaps shut at the sound of a familiar voice. Banner perks up, and shyly drops his chin as if not to garner too much attention. But within an instant, he's being beckoned to follow the petite woman, prompting him to stand rather quickly. There's a note of apology in Bruce's smile as he issues the receptionist a very quick three fingered wave. "Thank you for — " he isn't even sure what to say, finally landing on " — the hospitality." When he turns away, his expression changes, warping into a balanced self-deprecating smirk, knowing full-well that the woman behind the desk is likely to take that as sarcasm rather than sincerity. As per usual, Bruce has regrets.

Once he's ushered into the office, his eyes keenly scan the space, watching for any signs of personality amongst the affects. He prods his glasses higher on his nose. "She isn't wrong, you know," he offers plaintively, "I really don't have an appointment." An easier, nearly boyish grin edges his mouth upwards, drawing out a single sharp dimple along his cheek. His head drops to the side, and his hands retreat into his pockets, "It's been awhile." Evidently it's a week to visit and reconnect with the living world. With a sheepish near-shrug, his shoulders lift towards his ears and remain there, "The gatekeeper was insistent that you were too busy and too important to remember the little people." Of which Bruce is one, clearly.


Jen is no senior partner. She gets a broom closet for an office, but a nice broom closet given the new renovations in the building. Touches are there: a shelf full of recent law reviews from Stanford, Columbia, Harvard. A signed picture of a Belgian attorney, a superstar only to the ladies in America unable to make a similar mark. Her desk dominates the space, and it holds an almost OCD patchwork of papers, manila folders, newspaper articles, and a banker's box full of records waiting to be beaten to a pulp. This she sets down on the floor atop two more. At least she has comfortable chairs to sit in, that when squished together, could be a couch. And a window! Some girls need quick escapes.

The door is shut and she pulls off her heels, putting them to the side. "Forgive the breach of unspoken rules about office attire, but those are killing me." Her loss of two inches only serves to make her that much shorter, though she still has a few inches over five feet going on. "Did she sass you? Then I'm taking that to Lieber for our five o'clock." A wrinkle of her nose speaks to distaste. "We work for the 'little people,' and that means all people. Can I get you water, coffee, a big hug because…." Only then does the professional facade crack. Her hands cover her mouth. "Dad is gonna /kill/ me for not having you over for dinner sooner. And not checking in on you lately. There's no excuse. I… There's been a lot happening this week. Bruce, speckles! I met your protege, sort of got Shield annoyed with me because I'm up against Howard Stark's lawyers on unlawful confinement, and maybe there were magical cultists in Central Park."


Jen's heel removal earns a small chuckle and a nod of appreciation. "It's a wonder of physics that anyone can walk in there. Biology proves more resilient than laws would predict." He clucks his tongue, "Or, maybe, the social sciences do have something to contribute after all." His eyes twinkle with a hint of mischief and he shrugs about the receptionist, "I imagine she gets sassed on the regular." He waves a hand dismissively. "Besides, I'm one ball cap and a couple overdue haircuts shy of stereotypical vagrancy."

The notion of dinner wins a sharp shake of Banner's head. "Nah. I'm not always an easy man to reach." But, as always, those closest to him have their ways. "Where did you meet Amadeus? He's a good kid that one. Bright with a lot of potential, and a complete willingness to use it."

His lips twist to the side thoughtfully and his eyebrows knit goethe lightly, "I think, to be honest, my visit is overdue. For a number of reasons. Some less personal than others."


Jennifer leans back against her desk, rather than sitting in the chair, at least until Bruce settles himself wherever pleases him. She wiggles her stocking clad toes with great satisfaction, sharing a small smile. "I thought the humanities and social sciences always had their place," she retorts. "Without a god psychologist, we wouldn't have these nifty new appraisals on our clients that the juries get excited about. Put someone in a suit and give them an expansive vocabulary, they eat it all up. Which is sometimes an issue. I don't know how I feel about good people so easily misled by a bit of Greek and Latin peppered in the right spots."

Her breath pulled in is let go again. Her shoulders slide under her tailored black jacket. "I wouldn't mind seeing a bit more of you. I worry about you, Bruce. Family is family. Mr. Cho certainly has a case of hero worship for you too, and I think he's got promise. Bit of an attitude but find me a teenager who doesn't."

The yellow legal pad on her desk is in her hands before Jen can even explain the impulse, a pen taken from the cup of them. "Start with the non-personal ones, then. Is this where I discover the government surrounded the building and expects me to come cooperatively, but if not, wouldn't that be a shame?"


It's only when the pleasantries are dispensed that Bruce assumes a chair. His body shifts once seated; not quite settled on a single position. He chuckles and leans forward, "Little good the psychologists do outside a courtroom though. Of course, maybe I haven't had the pleasure of meeting one work their mettle. Or, rather, the Hulk hasn't," masochism colours the last, but he doesn't dwell on it, moving on rather quickly to happier things.

"No need to worry," he taps on the side of his head. "Whether I like it or not, I have a nearly constant guardian angel. Sometimes I wonder if I'm not the one along for the ride," and therein is the irony of needing a good psychologist. "Yeah, intelligence is actually a gift and curse for Amadeus. Like I said, he's bright, but there's a level of smart that pushes a person into a dangerous place. I hope to help him navigate that tightrope, although, to be honest, I'm not sure how well I do there."

The last question merits a large toothy grin, "I've had a lot of experience in keeping secrets, save one. And even then…" A humourless chuckle emits from his lips, and his glasses slide from his nose, allowing him a few moment to pinch its bridge. "No. You won't experience that from me." He inhales a sharp breath, "But," there's a long pause, "SHIELD did try to bring me in using their pinch hitter." His hands fold lightly in his lap, "I negotiated a deal with Captain America." His eyes drift to the floor, "Rogers really is an idealist. If anyone lived up to their moniker — " he shrugs, opting not to finish the thought.


Hard to argue with the logic behind that. She gives Bruce a nod, and still waits with the pen and paper in her lap just in case. "Some promising work happens in the field with a specialty in adolescent mutants, though it is so early that I can't help feel we are all living under a microscope." Her smile skews sideways, mostly going wide to the right instead of up and certainly not touching her eyes. "With exploration and innovation come hope, or that's what we have to cling to."

The news of his apparent defection from team neutral to the Shield Initiative gets a bit of a start, then a nod. "He really as upstanding as they say he is? I'd be hard pressed not to agree to much if so." Her tone gets softer, reflective even if it's not quite the adoration a good many people have for Cap. "Someone who puts the good of the country ahead of himself is rare enough. All those fine men and women trying so hard to keep us a bright and equitable place need a figure they can rally to. A working arrangement like that sounds like a good thing. If it's what you want."

When does choice ever smile on them? So often it doesn't. Her back flexes, then she pushes off the desk, walking over to put her hand over his if Bruce let's her. "No matter what, you know I will always be here for you, right?"


"I negotiated me, not," Bruce's eyes turn upwards, "the other guy. He's off limits to them." His eyes turn downwards and the glasses are returned to his nose, "As much as he can be. Rogers was sent to bring me in, and quickly learned I couldn't be brought if I didn't willingly go. I'm under the impression their agents are asking others about the Hulk, but as of yet, I haven't heard a peep. Not even a request for a blood sample," to which he wouldn't comply. "So, until further notice, I'm working alongside SHIELD in exchange for not running anymore."

"And he really is that shiny. And he believes in something bigger. Principles aren't all that common anymore." His jaw tightens. "But while Rogers is an idealist, I've experienced some unseemly things, been chased by unseemly people, and think at some point, the other shoe will drop. I won't stick around then."

His hand runs over his chin, feeling the growing stubble, and he issues her a nod, "Of course. And that's the same for you, except in reverse, I guess?" Banner squints, and rubs the back of his neck. "I think I need some legal help. Not just about the potential for SHIELD to go awry, but the Hulk got me arrested a couple weeks ago," there's an easiness to his tone as if he's discussing nothing more mundane than the weather.


The young woman listens with the attentiveness usually reserved by a cobra for a mouse, even if that animal is atomic. She folds her hands in her lap and takes a seat in the other chair, close enough to touch. "The partners know I turn, for what it's worth. Probably not the wisest of courses, but circumstances didn't favour me. I think Holliway recovered the fastest." Jen looks away as her cheeks flare pink. "That does give me credibility for our clients, though. The courts… Well, women don't get to litigate in most firms, so I have someone else to stand in for me anyways. But I can represent you and I will, especially since I already act as counsel for Cho. Shield can get used to seeing my name associated with yours, you know?"

For some reason this makes her laugh. She curls her fingers around the edge of the legal pad, bracing the corner into her knee. "I hear expect things to go south with Shield. A good thing never lasts. Also it may bring requests that aren't so nice. Very well then. Is there anything you immediately need right now?"

The toying with the edge of the papers is something of a nervous habit, or because she likes feeling the ripple against the thumb pad. "You should probably know… I'm dating." Queue up girl who never dated in school. LA County Sheriff's daughter is too risky for most. Law student is too distasteful for most. "He's a nice young man, upstanding and tolerant of all the baggage that comes with being a modern woman. You might meet him some night out there, so please try to be nice if you do." She hesitates there, waiting to see what that causes.


"Nothing terribly immediate. I was picked up in New Mexico," Bruce's cheeks hue pink, "for public indecency. Evidently, Hulk saw fit to take us there to rest on the four corners monument." Banner crosses his arms over his chest. "Pepper Potts," he lifts a hand as if to skip-to-the-end, "sent bail money. I'm doing some consulting for Stark Industries in exchange. It's fine. I think it's relatively managed. I'm supposed to make a court appearance. I intend to plead guilty."

He sighs softly and leans back in the chair. "What's his name?" He rubs his face again. "And what does he do that makes him so tolerant of a modern woman?" His tongue clucks almost expectantly.


Public indecency can be understood. But sprawling on the monument or having other business brings a lightly choked sound from Jen, and she hastily covers up the faux pas—by slapping her hand over her mouth. Her eyes widen a little and she breathes out. "Yes. Yes, I think we could have a case there in getting that expunged. Young people do some things unexpectedly. There is precedent. If there's a precedent, there's a way." Must not squeak hard in laughter. She manages to jot a few words down. "I can look into the precinct and find out the details. You might not need to plead guilty. Maybe do some public service, write a letter how sorry you were for failing to immediately recognize the national landmark you were on. There might be something."

This is what she's good at. What she is not good at are the touchy feely snuggle parts. Those require her to tread very cautiously. It takes not an iota of expertise to decipher that she is damn well blushing and her eyes shine a bit too obviously. Her hands wring the life out of her pen. "His name is Peter. He treated me very nicely, like a lady but not someone made out of china who would break. Smart and not all in my face about it, and he didn't panic when he learned about the law degree and everything else. In fact, Amadeus met him. We had hamburgers. Then they started talking about chemistry and mechanics, and all it was missing was you talking about doohickeys and dingle hoppers." Clearly Jen's teasing him, since she can keep up with at least some of the work and subjects; she has a law degree, but she isn't a slouch in scientific fields, either. Just not a bloody super-genius like every other person around her.

"Oh. And he's not put off by the green side, either."


"I think the Hulk goes out go his way to make my life difficult," Bruce groans. Much like Jen, however, he chuckles, and simply shakes his head. The humour of the situation definitely isn't lost on him. "Miss Potts thought I'd gone on some kind of alcoholic bender." He groans again. "The truth is so much more complicated than that."

Talk of Peter, however, wins Jen a strange all-too-reminiscent smile. "I'm glad you're happy and he sounds like a good man. There's a lot of mess in the world, it's good you carve yourself out some happiness. Regardless of what it looks like." His eyes roll at the mention of doohickeys and dingle hoppers, "I'm tinkering still. In a real lab. Do you know how long it's been since I've worked in a real lab? The last time was just after everything changed, and I still believed I could fix it."

"And it's good he's not put off by the green side. I know my demons don't always stay at bay. Even when I try to keep them locked down."


"Whenever you're ready to assault the Washington Monument or jump the Statue of Liberty, have that fellow give me a bit of advance notice so I can have the right phone numbers on my Rolodex. Pamela won't be making those calls." Jen likes to be prepared. It shows when she can strategize that far ahead. Her sympathetic look matches his groan, and only groans. "Believe me, I know. I threw a parking meter through a van, and ended up sending them an apology letter. The parking staff, that is, not the van owners. They had it coming attempting to attack the Museum of Natural History for a sarcophagus of some kind."

Woes are a strange thing to have, and apology notes probably fill the side drawer of her desk. It's big enough to have everything with the kitchen sink. "Are you excited to be in the lab again? That has to be incredibly comforting, to get your hands on the apparati and proper materials. It would be like me trying to research a case without access to the law library. I can't do it off twigs and notes. I am happy for you, Bruce, honestly I am." Her hands clasp together and Jen smiles warmly up at him. "Silver linings. You're going to do good things, I am sure of it. No matter how hard the path has been, I've got faith in it."

And while she's a sappy cheerleader, time to twist her fingers together and stare at her toes again. "It's still new to me. Having him about. I keep expecting to get a phone call and see a cloud of dust in the air as he realizes what it means when I'm no longer a demure churchmouse." Neither church going or demure, her, but it counts. "He wants to fix the mess as much as I do. It's one of those things that gave me such pause. Like there could be someone else as focused on doing the right thing as I am. Ah well. I sound like I've gone and imagined bells ringing already. What would Mom have said? Tell me about what you're tinkering at."


"His plans continue to be a mystery to me. Years together and I'm no closer to figuring him out," Banner offers. "If I could give you warning, I would. As it stands, I still have no idea what he's thinking sometimes." Sometimes being the operative word. Now and then, Banner can guess.

"Being in the lab is odd and familiar. I love it an I thrive there. There are other things about it that aren't so great." He manages a warm smile in return. "But that is what it is. I think those will always exist."

"Your Mom would be happy for you. So don't you worry about that. You don't have to worry about approval or judgment. Just bask in what makes you happy." A fond smile draws his lips upwards. "I'm working on a project inspired by a good friend. I call it the Absorbatron. Which is a fancy name for a device designed to absorb nuclear energy. The applications are numerous." His hands clap together and he comes to a stand. "Alright. I think I've taken up enough of your time, Jen. I should get going — back to the lab to finish the prototype for this particular gadget. Amadeus is helping me build it and then we'll test it, and if the theory proves correct, we'll be building a large version — something to absorb nuclear energy. Not a project I could've taken on without a lab." He grins and steps towards the door, "Make sure you get the shoes back on before you hop out there. I'm sure it keeps the sharks at bay."

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