"Let me try contacting them," I said after a moment of surprised silence. "But first I want to see him."
"The infirmary," Steve said. Without another word, he quickly darted off.
"Let's go," Vision said as we both started that way.
"At least we know part of the reason everything is disorganized," I commented. "But what else is going on? That can't be everything."
"Maybe it's his condition when he arrived," Vision suggested. "He was in critical condition for some reason and they're still trying to recover."
We reached the infirmary and in one of the containment rooms was Bruce, laying on a bed, staring at the ceiling. He kept balling his hands into fists and then relaxed them, as if he was bothered by something.
"Why is he in containment?" I asked one of the nurses who had just came out of there.
"He's having some trouble keeping Hulk under control," the nurse replied. "We're keeping him in there for the sake of his safety and the rest of the base."
"I want to talk to him," I said.
"That's not a good idea," the nurse warned. "He could break at any minute."
"It's a risk I'm willing to take," I said. "Plus, should something go wrong, I have my partner to give me a hand." I looked as Vision for confirmation and he nodded.
The nurse hesitated for a moment and then nodded slowly. "Alright, but be careful," she said.
"I will," I said as I walked to the room, Vision and the nurse both watching me. Before going in, I made myself go completely calm, all the stress leaving me so that no negative energy transmitted to Bruce. I stepped inside the room and closed the door behind me. "Hey Bruce," I said as I walked to his side.
"Rose," Bruce said, his voice a bit shaky. "You shouldn't be in here. I could hurt you."
"I trust you," I said as I went to his side, placing a gentle hand on his shoulder. I noticed that he seemed to calm down a little.
"Is Natasha alright?" Bruce said.
I nodded. "She's with Clint right now at the farm," I said.
"That's good," Bruce said.
"I can see if I can contact her so you can talk to her," I suggested.
Bruce shook his head quickly. "She'll only be asking a lot of questions that I don't want to answer yet," he answered. "I just need to get the big guy under control first."
I nodded. "Alright," I said. "I understand that. After all, there's a lot that I wish to not talk about yet."
"What do you mean?" Bruce asked. "You seem like nothing bothers you."
"Well, let's just say that a lot has happened since Ultron's defeat," I said.
With Bruce's coaxing, I told him what had happened, also telling him about my upcoming surgery. I knew that by me talking to him, he was getting distracted, obvious by the way he slowed down on clenching his fists and his pulse lowering to stable levels on the machine.
"Tony's doing all that for you?" Bruce said when I finished.
"Yea, and he's wanted your help," I said.
"Yea, I know: he asked me to give him a hand in his lab once I was released, but didn't say what it was," Bruce said. Then he added as a second thought, "Well, if I'm released, that is."
"You will be," I said. "We all know you will be out of here. You've been able to control the Big Guy before. You can do it again."
"This time's different," Bruce said. "It's getting harder and harder to do. He wants to come out, and is stopping at almost nothing to do that."
I placed one of my hands over his, saying, "Bruce, you are strong, as yourself, not the Big Guy. Yes, he's also strong, but by strength. You've got the mental strength to get through this. I'm sure it's just a phase and once the phase is over, then you'll be like how you were before."
Bruce nodded slowly, letting my words sink in. Suddenly, his pulse skyrocketed and he started to shake. "Get out of here, Rose!" he gasped, doubling over.
I backed up, seeing the nurse running to call for help and Vision getting ready to fight, gesturing for me to come. I could try one last thing before I gave up. I made my voice soft and gentle as I took a step forward and touched Bruce's hand, saying, "Hey Big Guy, the sun's going down. It's time to relax."
There was a look in Bruce's eye as he tried to fight the Hulk, a look of recognition and compassion. He eased up, his signs going to normal as he slumped back. "Natasha," he whispered.
Vision eased up a little bit, tilting his head to the side slightly as he saw that I had calmed Bruce down before a fight broke out.
"Easy now," I said, still keeping my voice the same as before. "That's no way to take it easy."
Bruce chuckled slightly, a small smile on his lips. "Easy for you to say," he commented. "But how did you do that? Only Natasha has been able to."
"She taught me how," I said. "In case for whatever reason she wasn't around, I can help."
"She really trusts you, then," Bruce said.
"We've been friends for awhile because of Clint," I said. "Bruce, please, let us help you with this. We have ways to help you."
"There's no way that others can help me," Bruce said. "It's always failed."
"The base is much more advance than Avengers Tower," I said. "There's been a lot of work put into this. Tony-"
"Tony's not the specialist in gamma radiation," Bruce cut in gently. "He's technology. That's evident by the work he did on you and how he's been helping you. He can help you and the others, but when it comes to gamma energy, I'm really the only one here who knows something."
I bit my lip. I really wanted to help him: I knew Natasha was really close with him, but I couldn't do anything if he wasn't willing to give us a chance.
Several agents came into the infirmary, but Vision kept them from entering the room Bruce and I were in. We both knew the same thing: if they came in, it would stress Bruce out and it would risk him turning into the Hulk.
I glanced back at them and gave them a gesture to stand down.
"Reinforcements?" Bruce asked.
"I wasn't the one who called them," I replied. "The nurse did. I never requested them. Like I said, I trust you. And if for some reason something did happen, I would only need my partner to help me, not the other agents."
"You put a lot of trust into me," Bruce observed. "Maybe too much."
"I have this must trust in you because I know you," I said. "And I grew up learning that you need to rely on others at least a little bit if you want to stay alive, especially through hard times. Do you trust me? Trust us, the Avengers? We've fought side-by-side against countless enemies. Risked life and limb to protect each other. You even watched over some of my training when I was just starting out. Is that actual trust? Or was it all fake?"
Before Bruce could reply, his pulse skyrocketed again and before I could do the lullaby, he turned into the Hulk.
I stepped back, feeling fear creep up into me, but trying to not show it. "Come on, Big Guy, we can help you," I said, raising my voice over his yelling but trying to keep my tone still gentle and soothing. Outside the room, I heard Vision now struggling to keep the agents back. "I don't want to fight you, Bruce! We can help you if you let us!"
Hulk turned to me as I flew into the air, hovering so that our eyes met. I could see that he was angry, but he was trying to fight it. He roared at me but I didn't flinch, knowing that if I did, he would take that as a weakness and try to attack me.
"Bruce," I said, holding out a hand. "Come on, I know my friend is in there. I know we haven't really talked a lot outside of training and fighting, but you're still my friend. You helped me out. I know you won't hurt me. I trust you. Bruce, please."
All I saw was a green blur and I smashed through the window of the containment room, landing by Vision. I got to a knee, watching as Hulk come out of the room. "Agents, leave!" I ordered to the agents that were now stepping back from the giant green man. "That is an order from Magemancer! Vision and I will handle it!"
"And an order from Vision!" Vision demanded in the same tone that made me step back from the fight back at the farm when I was hurt.
We were effective as the agents turned and fled, though I knew that later on, if Vision and I didn't talk to their commanding officer, they would be in huge trouble.
"What's the plan?" Vision asked me as I got to my feet, both of us facing Hulk as he stomped to us.
"Calm the Hulk," I replied as I flew into the air.
"How?" Vision said as he joined me in the air.
"I haven't thought that out yet," I confessed.
Hulk roared at us, causing us to instinctively go on the defense.
"Better come up with something fast," Vision said as Hulk charged at us.
"I'm thinking, I'm thinking!" I cried as I put up an energy shield between us and Hulk.
Hulk rebounded off of it and stumbled back, looking more angry than before.
"That wasn't a good one," I mumbled as he came at us again.
"Take it down!" Vision exclaimed. As soon as I did, he flew forward and used all his force to punch Hulk in the stomach. "I apologize, Bruce."
"Fighting it won't do us good," I whispered, but I knew right now, we didn't have a choice.
Hulk stepped back but retaliated with a punch in Vision's face, causing the android to fall back, stunned.
"Hey!" I called, getting his attention away from Vision. When he turned to me, I turned into a gorilla, pounding my chest.
"Instigating him isn't going to help!" Vision said as Hulk charged at me.
At the last minute, I turned into an eagle and flew out of the way, facing him again as I turned into a human. But before I could react, Hulk kicked at me, sending me flying back into the wall and slamming against it before slumping to the ground.
This had given Vision the time he needed to recover and tackle Hulk as he charged at me again, changing his density to make it more effective.
Then an idea struck me and I placed a hand to my communicator in my ear. "Magemancer to Black Widow. Come in," I said as I got to my feet, leaning slightly against the wall.
Hulk roared again as he smacked Vision again.
"Magemancer to Black Widow, come in," I repeated.
"Come on, Nat, we really need you right now!"
"Keep trying to contact her," Vision said as he shook off the blow. "I'll make sure Hulk doesn't go anyplace or charge at you."
"Do not attack unless there's no other way," I warned. "We've already done enough damage."
"Bruce, I wish not to harm you," Vision said as he approached Hulk, who was glaring at him. "I wish to only give Rose time. Please, stand down."
In response, Hulk strung at Vision.
Vision let the fist glide through him as if it was nothing.
"Magemancer to Black Widow or Hawkeye, come in," I said, hoping that at least Clint would reply for me.
"Hawkeye to Magemancer, what's up Mage?" Clint asked as Hulk punched a second time, but once again not harming Vision.
"What's Natasha?" I replied. "It's a long story but I need her and she's not answering to anyone."
"She's not feeling well," Clint said. "I've been taking care of her while Laura kept the kids busy. How important is it that you talk to her?"
"It's not I that needs to talk to her," I said, having to stop myself from crying out Vision's name as Hulk's third attempt to hit him succeeded, causing him to crash into a wall. I flew in front of Vision before Hulk reached him and held out my hand, saying in a stern but kind voice, "Easy there, Big Guy! No more hurting the nice android man!"
"You only say that because you like him," Hulk growled.
"I'm getting Natasha right now," Clint said, now knowing the problem at least. "Put your earpiece on speaker!"
"So what if I like him?" I said as I took out my earpiece and pressed a button to change it to the speaker setting.
"Out of my way, android," Hulk grumbled as he stomped to us.
"Rose, move!" Vision exclaimed as he got to his feet.
I shut my eyes tight but stayed still as Hulk went to punch me.
He suddenly stopped as Natasha said, "Hey Big Guy, the sun's going down. It's time to relax."
I let out a silent relieved sigh. The fist had stopped just millimeters from my face, so close that I could feel the warmth radiating from the skin.
"Widow," Hulk said, letting his hand drop. "Where are you?"
"I'm on vacation right now," Natasha said. "But I'll be back in a few days. Just calm down and take it easy. Rosie and Vision are trying to help you."
"Hard to control," Hulk said.
"I know you can do it," Natasha said encouragingly. "You just need to go into that happy place and stay it in for a bit."
"Ok," Hulk said and after a moment's pause, he started to turn into Bruce again, collapsing but Vision quickly going to him and catching him before he hit the ground.
"He's asleep," he said as he gently lowered Bruce to the ground.
"That's over," I sighed as I touched to the ground, sinking to my knees. "Thank goodness Clint got you when he did, Nat. We were almost done there."
"At least we got through that," Vision pointed out as he lowered himself down next to me.
"Sorry I didn't pick up before," Natasha apologized. "I got something that's making me not feel too well and I've been ignoring all calls. My earpiece was sitting on my nightstand with the volume turned low."
"It's alright," I said. "Everything's fine now. I was able to calm him once but I couldn't do it in time the second time. Other than that, he looked like he's ok. Not hurt or anything."
"That's good," Natasha said. "I'm going to get some more rest. If you need me, get Clint again like what you did before."
"Hopefully we don't need to," Vision said.
Natasha and I broke connection and I turned off the speaker before putting it back into my ear.
"I never thought I would have to experience a headache," Vision said, putting a hand to his forehead.
"Are you alright?" I asked as I turned to him, placing a hand on his arm. "You got hit really hard."
"Nothing that some downtime can't fix," Vision replied. "And what of yourself?"
"Just gotta shake it off and get moving and it'll go away," I said. I looked at Bruce as he slept. "I hope he isn't hurt too bad. We really didn't mean to hurt him."
"He's tough," Vision said. "I'm sure he'll be fine."
I slumped into Vision's arms as several medics came into the room to check on us and Bruce.
"We're fine," Vision told them. "Just make sure he's resting comfortably."