1963-08-16 - A Woodland Retreat
Summary: Peggy manages to talk the Hulk back into being Bruce Banner, but not after he takes her far off into the woods to 'save' her.
Related: http://marvel1963mush.wikidot.com/log:1963-08-15-just-another-day-at-the-avengers-base
Theme Song: None
peggy bruce 


NEW YORK, HIGH PEAKS WILDERNESS

Peggy quickly learns a few things about the Hulk. 1) He doesn't talk much. 2) He doesn't tire easily. 3) He can move fast.

Over time the movement was almost lulling, a repeated pattern with little to be done about it. Peggy will find herself waking up in a very treed area. The coniferous trees and rock formations (mountains or hills, who can tell?) suggest they're out of the city somewhere deemed safe enough.

The HULK, for the moment, is nowhere to be seen. In front of her, when she comes to and seems interested, is a raspberry bush that has been uprooted from the ground.

*

It was a good hour of incessant British chattering that started their journey, Peggy trying to do everything she could to talk him out of taking her any farther from the base. She appealed to his logical side, she appealed to his emotional side. She appealed to how worried SHIELD was going to be. She appealed to how worried her husband would be. None of it seemed to work, and exhaustion really did start getting the better of her. Eventually, that lulling motion, her secreted condition, and the complete lack of progress in talking down the Hulk meant that, somehow, she fell asleep.

Now, it's goodness knows how many hours later. Everything hurts, partially from being carried but mostly just from having been sleeping on the ground. Peggy gives a little groan, rolling up onto her back and then carefully to her elbows. "…Bloody hell…gone and mucked this up…" She mutters to herself, swallowing back that familiar sense of nausea. She blinks drowsily at the bush, but doesn't reach for it yet. "…Dr. Banner?" She calls into the woods.

*

ROLL: Bruce +rolls 1d2 for a result of: 2

*

The sound of a beast follows Peggy's call. The small growly noise doesn't sound like the Hulk, and it definitely doesn't sound like Doctor Banner. The movement in the bushes that rustle around her suggest that it's not small, whatever it is.

The black bear that comes out of the trees ambles towards Peggy, rising onto its hind legs as it stops just in front of her.

*

Well, shit. Peggy stares upwards, her eyes going a bit wide. She knows that screaming and running will IMMEDIATELY mark her as pray, so she does what all her wilderness and survivalist training tells her. She gets up, very slowly, and makes her body as big as she possibly can. Then she begins yelling, "LOUD NOISES!" At the top of her lungs. No, literally the words: "LOUD NOISES!" because that's the only thing that is running through her head at the time from all the manuals she's read about these situations. She keeps one hand raised in the air, flailing back and forward slowly, as she begins to back up. Her other hand is reaching slowly for her gun, but she'd rather not have to use it. Still, she continues the: "LOUD NOISES!"

*

The bear backs up a single step at the work Peggy does to scare it. Her efforts are definitely not in vain. It complains back at her a loud growly noise somewhere between intimidating and irritated.

The black bear pales in comparison to the next beast the appears from the wilderness. The HULK (is he bigger than before?) jumps from the wooded area between Peggy and the bear. He claps once, hard, causing a series of vibrations to emit around the other, much smaller beast. The bear ambles away, forced by a bit of wind.

"Hulk and Peggy scare bear," he observes before taking a few steps towards Peggy to sit on the stone next to her. And there he is, the Hulk, the unreasonable one. But at least he doesn't seem too unreasonable right now.

*

Well, at least that seems to have been a bit effective. Peggy is just about to draw out her gun when, well, it turns out that there is utterly no need to what so ever. Whatever little bit of scaring she did is quickly trumped by a WHOLE LOT of scaring that the Hulk is doing. And his clapping, and his size. She backs up a few feet herself, heart momentarily in her throat, as she's really not certain what is going to turn and face her when the bear is gone.

But, other than being very large, very green, and short of words, the Hulk actually doesn't seem all that terrifying or unreasonable. She stares up to him (and up, and up), her dark eyes a bit wide and the line of her lips most certainly impatient. "Yes, Hulk…Very good job. But, you know, there are no bears in the city. Where I need to be. I have work."

*

If he hears her, the Hulk seems to ignore Peggy's reasonable statements about work and the city. "Peggy safe here." And that's what he has to say about it. "Peggy danger." The way the Hulk says it makes it sound like it's the final word on the matter. Not necessarily the case, but it certainly sounds that way.

*

A deep sigh escapes her lips as she begins to slowly pace the ground, still in her high heels somehow, but they certainly weren't made for this terrain. "Yes, Peggy safe… from some things. But also in danger from many others. Bears. Need clean water. The weather. It's Peggy's job to be down there, so we can fix the danger…" She has no clue how much of this is getting through, but she turns back to watch his face after she's done speaking, her arms folded across her chest.

*

The Hulk groans and lays down across the stones beneath him, like a two year old who just got told to clean up they toys. Dramatically, his large hands fall beside him, causing the rocks beneath him to ripple some. "Hulk save Peggy." He's sullen now. Nothing like having to deal with an overgrown toddler. "Peggy fine."

*

"… Well, yes. You did. And you did a very good job. But Peggy has a husband who is *not* fine. And a job that will not be fine. Peggy needs to save people too. And the Hulk needs to help save MORE than Peggy." The brunette explains, clear and calm, her voice full of patience and simple words. It's like she's dealt with a toddler before — Oh, wait, she has a five year old at home. She totally knows how this works.

*

The Hulk brightens just a little at the thought about how well he did at saving Peggy from Sam. But the bit about needing to save more than Peggy sounds hard. The Hulk groans again, obviously pained by the mom tone Peggy exhibits. "Ugggggh." He pushes himself up to a sit. "HULK better than puny Banner. Hulk help Peggy."

*

Oh, and what a mom-tone it is. Peggy has a five year old copy of herself and all her stubbornness at home to deal with — a giant greek hulk isn't going to phase her. Peggy rests her hands on her hips, staring back at him with those rather stern eyes and set jaw. No yelling — no, she doesn't want to upset him more — it's more the edge of disappointed look. The calm, stern mom voice. She's very good at it. "Hulk is stronger than Banner, yes. But we need Banner's brains, because lots of people need saving, not just Peggy. You did a very good job being strong, I promise. But we need more."

*

"Banner useless," Hulk murmurs loudly, objecting to Peggy's assertion. "Banner mean." Because Bruce keeps him locked down, locked up, and generally behaving in the corners of their shared brain. "Hulk SMASH people."

*

The woman keeps her gaze stern and level, "Banner might be mean, but he is smart. Do you want to help a LOT of people or just ONE person? Hmm?" Peggy asks with a touch of impatience to her voice, but also the tone that says he should know the answer, but she's waiting to hear the right one. She shows him no fear. Just that quiet respect and listening even as she states her case.

*

"Banner puny," Hulk sees it necessary to keep harping on that fact. "Banner useless." His chin drops as he's effectively chastised about helping one person instead of many people. "Hulk help Peggy." Forget Banner, that guy is awful. "Banner yuck." Clearly.

*

The far shorter woman takes another step closer, releasing her hands and then reaching up to rest her fingertips against what she can reach — either his cheek or his chest. The touch is surprisingly gentle, no fear in Peggy's motions, but she's trying to get his attention. "Thank you, Hulk. But now, if you really want to help Peggy, you will let the yucky Banner out. But, once this is done… I'll talk to him about Hulk too. About you being a part of the team. Clearly you are smart and strong. You should have your time too."

*

ROLL: Bruce +rolls 1d2 for a result of: 2

*

The Hulk sulks. His chin drops, his shoulders slump, and his body relaxes. He kicks the dirt in front of him, causing a few stones to fly in the air in front of him. With a large huff he looks back to Peggy. "Banner puny," he insists again. With a heavy, very exaggerated sigh, he collapses on the ground, curling into a little ball.

As he does so, his size begins to diminish. His skin begins to turn skin-coloured. The shirtless Banner lays there on the rock within mere moments.

*

"I mean it, Hulk… I will want to work with you again." Peggy actually isn't bullshitting. His power and strength were helpful, and clearly there was more behind that head than a raging beast. It was actually a very good thing to know. He just wasn't who she needed right now. So, she keeps her fingertips against his shoulder and waits, hopefully…

It seems to have been effective. The man practically drops from her hands, though she jerks down and tries to catch him before he collapses on the hard ground or rock. Gently, she lowers him there, kneeling down to his side and quickly checking his vitals, "… Dr. Banner?" She asks gently.

*

Bruce groans as his fingers pinch the bridge of his nose to allay the throbbing pain. Peggy fussing about him has him squinting against the light that reflects through the wilderness. He cants his head to look at Peggy and his face scrunches into itself. "What did he do?" there's a note of complaint in Banner's tone. His cheek flush a pale pink, knowing full well he had been at the Hulk's mercy. His eyes blink hard and take in the scene only to shake his head. "Director Carter, I…" he squints hard, blurred vision thanks to lack of glasses is a thing, "I am so so sorry." The apology is beyond regular sincere. "You will have my resignation on your desk after — " he brains them a way out of here. Muttering to himself more than Peggy, he asks with just a hint of irritation, "High Peaks? Again?!"

*

The muttering, the resignation, all of it gets a slightly stern look from Peggy. She shakes her head almost immediately and makes a little wave of her hand. "Dr. Banner, don't be silly. It is fine. I knew of your condition and, in truth, I am actually glad I got to spend a bit more time with your other half. It gave me insight I did not have before. The timing could have been… better, but nothing has changed. It is fine, truly. *I* am fine, and Samuel knows how to take a fall." She stands up once more, dusting off her skirt and offering him a hand up, "High peaks? How far are we from civilization?"

*

There's a cringe that follows each of Peggy's thoughts. "I…" Bruce flushes further "would guess we're at least a few hours walk out from the nearest town." He looks around as his jaw tightens. "Hulk is a creature of habit. I came here once with a friend of mine," Betty, "it's one of the few places he comes back to regularly." That and New Mexico. "I," he cringes again, "have a storage locker," he looks around, taking particular care to look at the direction of the shadows, to get the position of the sun, "due West of here. Should have basic supplies to get us to the nearest township." He gives a small tick of his head. His shiftlessness and ripped pants leave something to be desired. So much for positive first impressions.

*

He might be worried, but Peggy REALLY doesn't seem bothered by any of it. She's practical and confident, as ever, even if something in her features looks quietly exhausted. That's probably just the length of the week and the insanity of what is happening in her work venues. "Well, I can't promise I'll be able to hike full tilt in these shoes, but let's get a move on. I'm certain that SHIELD is worried." And she'd rather find food and water before one of them passes out. Probably her. SHe checks the tilt of the sun and then turns on the ball of her foot, heading due west. "The Hulk is…actually more intelligent than I thought. Protective and resourceful. He probably operates on the mental level of a toddler… Who are remarkably intelligent."

*

"The Hulk," Banner asserts, "is volatile and unpredictable. He stays under lock and key as much as possible for good reason. I'm pretty sure your people wanted me brought in because of it." His tone takes on an edge of impatience of his other self as he hikes forward, leading the way towards the locker. "It'll have basic provisions." His eyebrows lift, "Water. Basic rations. A compass." His lips twist to the side.

*

"The Hulk has the ability to reason of a toddler, which… If you speak reasonably and act in a certain manner, can actually be predicted. I am not saying to let him out all the time but… I think there may be a way to make peace, and use, of your other half. Part of the reason he's so angry is because he feels trapped. He's angry at *you*, Bruce…" Peggy explains gently, as they begin walking. She is doing her very best to keep up with him and, over all, the middle aged director is managing. Hopefully it doesn't get much hotter than this.

*

The steps continue. The Hulk is a piece of himself that Banner has never been willing to talk about. "I'm not sure what your files told you, Director," he glances over his shoulder, "but the Hulk has been with me since I was a teenager." His jaw tightens as he looks back to the path and picks his way further. "He was there long before there was an accident. Just no one saw him." He sucks on the inside of his cheek. While he's been looking for a cure, Bruce knows all too well, what he's needed is a good shrink.

"He's trouble born out of trouble," he offers earnestly. "He's still in my brain and guided by some loose morality, but it's with little regard for collateral damage, or for thinking about such things." The pair march up a long embankment where finally, a heavy metal locker rests. The combo lock is regarded with a small raise of Banner's eyebrows and he puts in a quick combination before pulling off the lock. Said provisions are inside. Including a large stack of shirts and pants. He clears his throat, "I go through a lot of shirts."

*

"…we can get you a clothing budget, if you need." Peggy asks him, just a touch breathless herself as they get up to the long embankment. She sinks down to sitting on a near by stump as he changes, taking a few moments to catch her breath and focus away some of the nausea and exhaustion which just gets worse for the heat of the day. She finally gives up and takes off her suit jacket, leaving her arms bare, a few scars from bullet wounds and at least one knife wound clear. She clearly used to be a field agent… "We…we'll worry about him after we handle this matter of the nukes… after we get back to base…"

*

A bottle of water is passed to the woman. Banner tugs a shirt over his head and grasps a map and a compass. At the bottom of the locker is a pair of hiking boots, prompting a tiny frown. "Director," he tosses the boots towards her. "They might be your size." He sucks on the inside of his cheek. "And it's possible they're still more comfortable then," he glances down at her shoes. "Sorry. I know Hulk's journey was… unexpected."

*

"It's quite alright. We dropped the ball on not warning you about how dire the situation is. This is not just on the Hulk." Peggy explains quietly. She genuinely isn't mad. She exhales a quiet breath and drags one hand across her cheek, brushing off some sweat, before she takes another good gulp of the water and then does reach for the boots. If there are any socks, she'll double up on them, but the boots will do better than her high heels for the rest of this journey.

*

Socks are also tossed towards Peggy. Bruce has learned to be prepared. He opens a water bottle of his own and downs the fluid in a few short gulps. "We can keep walking today or rest some and get back at it in awhile. Regardless, we should be able to make the nearest township by nightfall. From there we can get back onto the main rad and get you to where you belong."

*

The woman was torn. On one hand, she really needed to get back to civilization and report in. On the other hand, she also knew she should be taking it easier than normal. There is a touch of hesitance in her voice as she responds, "..We… we should probably keep walking. I don't want to waste too much time. I just cannot imagine SHIELD isn't losing their heads. I'll be fine." She reassures him with a half smile, alternating a few sips of water between pulling on socks and boots.

*

There's a quick nod from Bruce and he's squinting at the map while playing with his compass. You don't have a troublesome alter ego without learning a thing or two about maps, directions, and survival skills. His nostrils flare and he points in the general direction of the nearest town from the map. "We have to walk that way. Bring enough water and rations for the journey and we should be good to go."

*

"Sounds good to me. And truly, Dr. Banner… It's alright." Peggy rests her hand against his arm for one moment so he can see just how serious she is about it. Then she's getting back to her feet and putting a few more bottles of water into whatever they have for a sack. That should do them. Once they are all loaded up, she nods for him to lead the way. The walk back will be mostly quiet and respectful, but there is no anger or pushing the issue further.

*

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