Fandom: Marvel Cinematic Universe / The Dresden Files (books)
Characters: Bruce Banner, Susan Rodríguez
Notes: Written for the "Smell" prompt of the genprompt_bingo card.
Summary: Post-Age of Ultron. At some point Pre-Changes. Susan was camping when he saw the ship with Bruce land in the jungle not that far from where she was. Then, she goes to investigate.
Susan found the airship covered by thick, broken branches and several bushes that had been ripped off from the ground, keeping most of their roots with them. It was a clumsy job but whoever did it was much stronger than your average human. Everything lacked the more precise cut of a tool, and she knew the work of brute force when she saw it. Plenty of supernatural predators could make use of advanced technology, and Susan planned to make sure no innocent got hurt.
Who knew what kind of security systems that thing had, so she didn't even touch it. Besides, her instincts told her there was no one inside. They would have made some kind of noise by now, with the way she made herself obvious circling around it. Therefore, she focused on finding the one who tried to hide it.
A footprint trail started from an entrance in the back of the ship, and it told Susan a few things about the one she was after. First, it was only one individual. Second, said individual most likely looked like a human right now—and one not very big at that. Third, the footprints had been partially swept away with another branch, which confirmed that this person had an idea of how to move in the wild, but but lacked practice. Still, no degree of how dangerous this person would be. She decided to make sure before contacting the Fellowship and send them to the unknown. Besides, she spotted a piece of cloth on the ground nearby, one that had belonged to a not-so-expensive sweater in its better days.
"Jackpot," she murmured as she picked it up. Tracking by scent was always easier, specially when you didn't let the trail go cold.
Susan found the man sitting next to a stream. He looked exactly like she expected him: human, short, and not in peak physical condition. Besides that, his expression was thoughtful and non-threatening. Which didn't mean he was. On the one hand she still believed he'd been the one to cause all that damage trying to disguise his ship, and on the other, Harry Dresden could look just non-threatening and awkward, but when he wanted he could be terrifying.
Susan abandoned stealth mode and walked to him, making sure to stomp the ground and crush all leaves and tiny branches she could. It startled him, and he reacted the way a nervous colt would, spinning around with the same movement he jumped up, flaring his nostrils and looking all around nervously for all possible escape routes.
In light of that, she kept her distance and relaxed her body language to indicate she meant no harm. It seemed to work.
The man stopped making balls with his fists and started playing with his fingers. He even stopped that and smiled a small, relieved smile when he saw she was alone.
"Hello," he said in English.
"Hello," she replied, and then cut to the chase. "I'm Susan. I found your ship back there."
He winced and opened his mouth once or twice, as if he couldn't find the words—or was debating with himself about the wisdom of telling a lie. If that was the case, he'd find her a nut tough to crack.
"Actually, it belongs to a friend," he said in the end. Luckily for him, it sounded like the truth. "I just parked it there."
Ah, a joke attempt. That was nice.
She humored him with a smile, and raised an eyebrow. "So, where do you plan to go now? If you keep going that way, you will only end further into the jungle."
He again took a moment to try not to lie, and then he shrugged. "I'm just trying to get away from people."
She looked around for effect. "You're succeeding."
His smile grew forced. "With one exception."
That made her smile for real. "With one exception, yes," she replied. "I needed to make sure you weren't a threat to anyone."
The man's eyebrows raised up the way they indicated an incoming sarcastic quip. However, what he said was, "That's why I want to get away."
There was a sadness in his eyes that hit Susan deep to the bone.
"I don't think I caught your name," she said.
He sighed. "Bruce. And really, I'm not the sort of person you want to be around."
With that piece of information, and the international news from the past few days and all the rumors and gossip from her sources, everything clicked for Susan.
"You're Bruce Banner!"
He gaped. "How—how did you—?"
"I've been camping around here for a couple of days, not living under a rock," she explained. "I have a radio."
"Then you know why—"
"—you should come with me," she finished for him, and continued before he could protest. "I know what it is to be dangerous, and on the verge to lose my humanity the second I'm careless. I was bitten by a vampire. Red Court. I haven't transformed fully yet, and I will fight with every cell of my being not to."
Finally, of his own volition, he closed some of the distance between them. "If anything, the only thing that bit me was my own arrogance," he admitted. "Say, if went with you—which I haven't said I would—where would we go?"
"To the Fellowship of Saint Giles."
"The patron saint of outcasts," he said.
She nodded. "If there is anyone who can understand how you feel, that would be us."
"Are they all like you?" he asked, still hesitant.
"Most of them. But they're all like us," she said, making sure Bruce felt included in the last part.
He rubbed his face. "All right." He sighed. "All right. I guess I could give it a try. Besides, I don't really know how to survive here and that could make things worse."
Susan resisted the temptation to comment on his lack of survival skills. "It's not far," she said instead. "But I need to pick up a couple of things from my camp. Do you need us to stop by the ship?"
He showed her a mostly empty bag. "I'm a man of few material needs."
She smiled again and turned around to lead the way. "Very good. Let's go, then."
For a second, she thought of telling him about how lucky he was of having trashed New York and not Chicago, with how protective her ex-boyfriend was of the city. But that could make a better story in front of a bonfire and with some marshmallows. Besides, Bruce had enough to think about, having landing where she could find him that easily by chance—or maybe not, but she would leave that for someone else to decide.