Banner's Breaking Point Part 2

Sam lept 3 staircases in a row when HELEN called to him again, “Sir, the matter is urgent, your presence is requested a.s.a.p.”

“Copy.” Sam leaned his shoulder into the exit door of the staircase, bursting through the frame and breaking into a full sprint down the hall toward the kitchen.

On the other side of the portal, Erik had only just barely oriented himself in the alleyway, “Alright Theo what’s the-” when suddenly Gwen came colliding into his back. To be more accurate Gwen was thrown into Erik and then, finding little give in the Asgardian’s stance, went to the floor. Erik stumbled forward and then quickly turned around to offer Gwen a hand, “Sorry about that.”

Gwen was breathing noisily through her nose. This time it wasn’t the speed that got her dizzy and nauseous it was the cartwheeling through the air into a meat wall. “I’m okay!” She wheezed. Thank GOD for the mask! “Yall just ignore me …” She assured the other folk that pass as teammates.

Theodosia held a finger to her lips then pointed at the dumpster. “Mr. David Banner? You can come out now. My team is here - well some of them. We’d like to talk to you. You aren’t naked in there, are you?”

“You trapped him in a dumpster?” Niko asked. He’d himself been trapped in a dumpster at least twice as kids, but one time it was purposely because they were playing Star Wars and that was the absolute best scene.

“The lid is open so he can get out. And I didn’t put him in there, I found him this way. I think he’s hungry. Tell Sam to bring something to eat since he’s the last one.” Theo and Niko shared a knowing nod. The You Were the Last One clause was a firmly established method of determining who got stuck with undesirable tasks. As team leader, Theo wanted it known that clause would be leaned upon quite heavily when it suited her purposes.

Sam slid into the kitchen, fully geared, seeing most of the group on the other side of the portal. He jumped right through and checked their surroundings to ensure they weren't under attack. Once he registered the fact that everyone was staring at a dumpster, he quickly let his guard down. "What is this?"

Theo looked at Sam’s empty hands and sighed - no food.

Niko leaned his ear up to the dumpster and knocked twice, then shrugged.

Erik cautiously approached the dumpster, inside his head a humble of phrases and words stormed about as he tried to figure out the right ones. Nerves were getting the better of him as he reached out a hand and knocked on the dumpster again after Niko. "Hey David? David Banner? My name's Erik...can we talk?"

‘How many Davids does he think are in there?’ Theo thought to herself. But she held her tongue and gave him a huge smile and thumbs up, like he was heading off for his first day of pre-K.

Inside the dumpster, David was pissed. It wasn’t just that he was trapped like a rat inside a dumpster - no, literally - that was it. Hey, a boy’s gotta eat! His cheeks flushed red as his pride took an incredible blow. Outside there were all these ‘people.’ But what really put the frosting on his cookies was that they knew his name. He’d gone looking for them, well, the Maximoff’s and now-- who knows how many people were on the other side of the dumpster. Rolling his eyes, he punched one side of the metal container before lifting a second lid and hoisting himself out. Even though he hadn’t been there long, his eyes acclimated enough that the sun bothered them, so he squinted as he lowered himself to the ground.

“Yeah?” He said in as gruff a voice as he could scrounge up. A stray banana peel clung to his shirt shoulder and rolling his eyes again he flicked it into the dumpster. “About what?”

Theo waved at Dumpster Dave then stepped over to Niko’s side. “I bet he’s starving; digging through dumpsters is hard work. I haven’t eaten in hours either. You have money, go buy us a treat,” she gave Niko her puppy dog eyes. “Pleeeeeeease!”

Sam took a step forward to be side by side with Erik. He tried to nudge him discreetly with his shoulder and gave him a nod, ensuring Erik that he could handle this all on his own.

Niko was looking forward to running interference, if for no other reason than it had the word run in the title, but instead he skulked into the diner to get some fries for his cousin, and he wasn’t sure what Banner kid liked. He got him a cheeseburger, because Niko loves cheeseburgers, and if he was a vegetarian, at least it wouldn’t go to waste. He dramatically dropped himself into a booth to wait for the food to be done.

“Oh, uh, well...I mean you kinda bolted on the SHIELD facility you were at and I guess…” Erik paused and glanced at Sam and then over to Theo, “I guess we were wondering why and if there was anything we could do to help.” He did his best to look reassuring but he figured he probably looked just as worried as David did.

David quirked an eyebrow at the mention of a SHIELD facility and frowned. “I had my suspicions about that,” he groused, reality being a bitch. “Explains a lot, but yes, I ‘kinda bolted’ when weird shit started happening. I saw on the news report you --” He pointed to Theo, “Talking about all the heroes that were lost 15 years ago. Well, my dad was one of them.”

Erik followed the finger and then back to David, this was going okay and he was honestly a little freaked out. "Yeah I'm...I'm sorry about that. We all know how that feels…" He raised his other hand toward the group. "But when you say 'weird shit' what does that mean? We only know that you left and that's about it."

“First? I don’t need you to feel sorry about it, and I sincerely doubt you know ‘how it feels’ Erik, but whatever. And discounting the fact that you ‘know I left’ - which is weird in its own right - weirder shit. New people. Time I can’t account for. I know it sounds paranoid, but someone’s after me, but what I don’t know is who - or why. And it started right about the time that I saw them on the news, about the time that a flag was planted as a beacon. So I thought -- their ‘rents were heroes too. Maybe it’s all connected. Or maybe I’m batshit out of my mind. But I wasn’t going to sit there waiting for something bad to happen.”

Gwen ambled back to the group feeling much better after her sudden stop into the backside of the Asgardian. “Oh you have no idea what weird is till you have David Copperfeild on crack here with her Order of the Phoenix house. Don’t get me wrong, it’s cool, but weird. In a good way. You get used to it,” Gwen added, offhandedly.

Theo was trying to squeeze Gwen’s comment into a reference towards HELEN and the Compound. Yeah, that must be it. David Copperfield had been such a fraud. Nice one, Gwen.

“So what makes you think you're paranoid?” She asked. He didn’t seem off kilter and there had been nothing in his file about mental illness. If he was reducing himself to dumpster diving there was probably a good reason for it and Gwen was willing to hear him out on it.

“I don’t think I’m paranoid. I think I sound paranoid.” David replied bitterly. “But there is someone - or a bunch of someone’s after me.”

“I know, right?! I’m not crazy, but I know I sound crazy. There’s an important extinction there people.” Theo crossed her arms and gave Erik a pointed stare.

“Well damn…” Erik considered what this could all mean. Why hadn't SHIELD been aware of this? “It’s a good thing we...well Theo found you first I guess then. So…” Now came the part that might get him in trouble with Sam, but damn if he was just going to tell David to turn around and go back to a sketchy situation like that, regardless of truth. “What was your plan? I were trying to find us and here we are so...what do you want to do?”

“Go somewhere they can’t find me. Aside from that, I hadn’t much thought it out. If I had, I wouldn’t be dumpster diving behind a diner,” David snarked.

Sam had been thinking hard from the moment David popped out of the dumpster. Maybe it was his training which had become second nature, maybe it was the seriousness that SHIELD engraved in him about the situation, but for some reason; he thought David, this scared kid who just wanted to be left alone, would be some kind of danger. Sam decided, consequences aside, that he wouldn't be responsible for locking David back up. "Where do you want us to take you?"

Theo stepped forward to David then took another half step to stand a few inches closer than Sam and Erik. “He won’t know the answer to that, Sam. SHIELD had him under lock and key, probably did anal probes too. Don’t worry, David; you aren’t alone; SHIELD has been sticking their fingers into all of our business. Some of us don’t even mind. We’ll make sure you stay safe and out of SHIELD’s reach. Which means you shouldn’t go back to Janet’s Hole or the Compound in New York. SHIELD is in deep up to the elbow in that one too. You’d be safe at the Sanctum Sanctorum, but if you’re at all prone to paranoia that’s probably not the place for you. Lots of weird stuff goes down there kind of like the Order of the Phoenix house Gwen was talking on.”

“Huh?” David asked. “Nobody did any ana… Look, I don’t know if it’s SHIELD or whoever. I thought you all could help. You looked like SuperHeroes on TV, but in person? Thanks, but I think I’ll be better off solo.”

Theo looked down at her white leather uniform and the red cape flowing in the breeze. She was magnificent. “I told you guys to wear the uniforms so people would know we’re a team. Now he just thinks you’re a bunch of creeps hanging out with one real superhero.” Theo held her gloved hand out to David. “I promise we aren’t trying to steal your dumpster rations. Please allow us to help you. I have a man on the inside securing you a warm meal. Let us do that for you at least. Pleeeeeeease!” She gave him her puppy dog eyes.

David’s stomach growled loudly as if to answer for him and he rolled his teenaged eyes. “Fine, one meal and then that’s it. I can’t stay in one place too long because they’ll find me.”

“We’ll talk your ear off while you get fed up then if you still want to leave, I won’t stop you.” Theo clapped her hands once then held her right gloved hand out to David - again. “It’s nice to meet you, David. Want to step inside the diner while you eat?”

David held his hand out to shake Theo’s, then quirked an eyebrow. “I think if we go in the Diner we’re going to attract a lot of attention. Something tells me this place doesn’t see many big crowds. Or people with capes. And I’m trying to keep it low key.”

“Yeah I’m with David on this one.” Erik had hung back a bit from the dumpster as Theo had crowded in, better to let the leaders handle the logistics he figured. “Maybe we go somewhere with less people who would look...and maybe no capes…” He avoided eye contact with Theo on that last comment, but couldn’t help but let it out.

Likewise, Sam realized that there were far too many of them and they were not inconspicuous by any means. Even if he hadn’t brought the shield along, his outfit would stick out pretty severely. Especially right next to a flowing cape and a dumpster diver. Besides, even if he had been dressed accordingly, he had a feeling he wouldn’t have been trusted to be close to David for too long, regardless of his newfound feelings. “I can hang back here or head back, if you want to portal some of us home. Your call.” Sam looked at Theo.

“I just brought you here; why would I send you home so soon?” Theo sounded confident in her response, but she was looking at the Banner boy and wondering if that had been a mistake.

“They didn’t have churros, so I brought you French Fries, and it took FOREVER for them to make them.” Niko complained. “David, if you don’t like cheeseburgers, I do. I can get you something else, or…” but David was already eating the cheeseburger Niko wished he’d ordered two of. “Maybe I should --” His desire for food was cut short by the swarm of black helicopters which started descending near the diner; sleek, stealthy, four in total. Niko curled his upper lip as one of them landed, the other three hovering nearby.

“Fuck,” David said, his mouth full of burger. “I ain’t going with them.”

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