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Perception and reality are worlds apart.


Perception and reality are worlds apart.

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...people see one thing when it's really another?

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Precisely. This should no longer surprise me, I know, but somehow I still find myself wondering how it can be so.

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[Bruce shrugs but considers the problem.] From a scientific standpoint, a good portion of the brain is taken up with processing visual information. Without what we see and comprehend on some level, it's difficult to function without our eyes as a guide. Difficult to take things for more than on sight value.

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But surely...a great deal of the population must know that things are rarely what they seem. Is that information alone not worth something? It is not capable of instilling doubt or wonder or...anything beyond what is perceived as normal?

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Yeah well...people in large groups aren't always the brightest when it comes to figuring stuff out. [Bruce knows this first hand.]

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[ All that he's saying is true, of course, but these truths only serves to frustrate him further. ] Perhaps they simply need to be enlightened.

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Good luck with that one. [Bruce doesn't see that happening anytime soon.]

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Do you think it impossible?

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[Bruce shifts uncomfortably, not really wanting to answer that. The guy seems like he needs a positive answer and Bruce doesn't have any of those.] I think...its....yeah, pretty much.

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I am truly sorry you feel that way. [ And if his tone isn't capable of conveying just how sorry he is, the expression on his face surely will. After all, what is the point of living if one can not press the boundaries of what is possible? ] And I certainly hope you do not take offense when I say that I hope to prove you wrong.

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I have no problem with being proven wrong about that. [There's lots of things he wishes he was wrong about. Like the growing feeling that he might never find a cure for his 'condition'.]

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In that case, I'll be sure to alert you the moment I'm certain you are. [ Whether or not that moment will come, he unfortunately can not say, but he'll choose to put on a facade of confidence regardless of his doubts. ] If only things truly were black and white, that day would some much sooner than later.

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Thanks. [dryly] Any plans on how to initiate this world peace?

...free antianxiety medication for all maybe? [He's just half kidding really.]

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I've a great deal of plans. However, I'm afraid that the majority of said plans would cause others to deem me certifiable. [ And let's be honest, at least half of them involve hugs, puppies, and kittens. Clark is a big fan of kittens. ] Which is why they will never be brought to fruition.

Hey, if you've got any lying around that you'd be willing to donate... [ It's difficult to tell whether or not he's kidding. But either way, an idea is an idea. The public loves free stuff. ]

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In that case, they actually might work. [Whoever said a sane plan was a good plan wasn't sane to begin with.]

[Bruce snorts a laugh, finally smiling despite himself.] I think if I started making anything chemical that could be distributed to the masses, I might as well turn myself in now. [Chemical warfare from a scientist with his background? He'd be putting a large target on the back of his head for Ross to finally lock him up for good.]

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[ ...Not at all the response he was expecting. But given that he's somewhat exhausted from avidly chasing the one thing he may never accomplish, well, he'll take it. ] I appreciate the vote of confidence. Even if it came after learning I have a few screws loose.

I guess it's back to plan b, then. [ More like plan z. He ran out of letters long ago. ] But if you change your mind, know that the enlightening of the masses is still on the table.

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[waving off that explanation] We all have a few screws loose. S'called being human.

I'll keep that in mind, mister...? [Guess he never did ask the guys name]

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[ Being human. Now there's something he'll never truly be able to understand. Living like one certainly doesn't constitute being one, even if he has wished so in the past. Of course, he knows better than to think on this too long, better than to open up any avenue for doubt. Offering only a nod in response, he moves on. ]

Kent. [ He's damn lucky his mother isn't here right now to lecture him on the manners he has so clearly forgotten. In attempt to salvage them, he extends his hand. ] Clark Kent. And you are...?

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[Bruce hesitates before shaking the man's hand. It's nothing against Clark, he's just really careful with everything he does. Especially careful with who he trusts. Which is why he's giving an alias.]

Bruce...Banyan. Nice to meet you, Mr. Kent.

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[ His hesitation doesn't go unnoticed, but as it's something he understands and therefore not outside of what he considers to be normal, he thinks very little of it. ]

And you, Mr. Banyan. If you happen to change your mind about those chemicals, please do let me know.

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Drugging the human race does sound a bit unethical, wouldn't you say? [Yes, he's seriously asking.]

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When you put it in such blatant terms, unethical is sugarcoating it. However, if drugging the human race were to somehow create this unheard of peace and understanding...ludicrous as it may seem, would it not be worth it?

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Too many variables to say. It could work in theory but going from paper to real life is completely different. What if it works in the lab but you start spreading it worldwide and before you know it, you've killed off half the population...and the other half is deformed and unhealthy from mutations.

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[ Sure, it's all hypothetical. He wouldn't have seriously considered it, nor would Bruce if his instincts regarding him are correct. Yet somehow, the mention alone causes him to sober from his previous fantasy world, wishing to recoil and forget he ever posed such a foolish question. ] I believe very little to be more horrifying than that possibility.

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[Bruce feels like he should apologize.]

Sorry. Guess that was kind of worst case scenario.

[As a scientist, he had to think about those kind of things. Especially now that he had himself as proof that things could go horribly wrong when you least expected it.]

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No need. [ He dismisses all thoughts of this hypothetical, disastrous plan along with his apology, not wishing him to feel any semblance of guilt. ] It's still a possibility, albeit a very grim one. I suppose I'm not used to thinking of what could go wrong. [ Not when he's so convinced that with enough effort, anything can be made right. ]

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Comes in handy sometimes though. Thinking what could go wrong. [Bruce says ruefully] I guess I'm used to always thinking that way.

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Do you not find that line of thinking to be exhausting?

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...no. [Yes. Also consuming bordering on paranoia. But if he wants to keep ahead of the army hunting him down, it's what he has to do.]

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If that is truly the case, you are a great deal stronger than I could ever hope to be.

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[Irony itself, Bruce wasn't the strong one but his alter ego...]

I doubt that's it. [awkward shifting on the balls of his feet] Just worry too much, I guess. Um, I've probably taken up enough of your time. You've probably got a job or something to go back to. [And Bruce doesn't like to stay put in one place for too long.]

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My time is no more valuable than yours or anyone elses. [ But he can't deny the fact that he should be getting back to work. The last thing he needs is Lois sending out a search party because he took an extra five minutes for lunch. ] However, I really should get going. It was nice meeting you, Mr. Banyan. Try not to worry too much.

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Nice to meet you, Mr. Kent. [Bruce reaches to shake his hand for goodbye. But as he does, something goes thwiipp! past his ear, a tranquilizer dart burying itself in the wall next to him. That hand grip tenses for a millisecond.

They've found me, Bruce thinks in horror and without a word of explanation, he lets go of Clark's hand and takes off at a full run down the nearest alley.

A moment later, there are army vehicles in hot pursuit, some snipers on foot on the rooftops, trying to get a clear shot.]

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[ The sound is distinct, one he knows of without certainty as to why. The source becomes immediately obvious, and just as he prepares to offer Bruce words of comfort, words they convey that everything is under control, he disappears. He can hear his frantic footsteps, knows just where they're headed, but he hasn't the slightest idea as to why. It then becomes clear that there's no point in trying to make it back to work on time now. It seems the search party is already out.

Reacting purely on impulse, Clark follows, but keeps a comfortable distance between them. He won't lose Bruce at any pace, he's sure of this. A million different scenarios race through his mind as he waits for some clarification as to just who it is he - and everyone else - is chasing after. He's wanted for something major, that much is obvious, but could the man he spoke to just moments ago be capable of such atrocities? He has difficulty believing it could be so.

If Bruce knows he has one more follower, he gives no indication, and that incessant need for answers takes over Clark's better judgement. In an instant, he's by his side, suddenly no longer in the mood for pleasantries. ] What have you done?

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[This isn't Bruce's first rodeo with the army. He runs as if his life depended on it, without looking back. Looking back slows you down and gets you caught. He zig zags around alleys, hoping they weren't anywhere near to surrounding or hemming him in.

The last thing he was expecting was someone to address him while jogging easily next to him. Bruce near has a heart attack from that alone, trying to run faster.]

Just stay away from me! Please, go!

[It's not a threat, it's a plea of warning. Bruce knows how dangerous it is to be around him while people are shooting at him. His heart monitor watch has already climbed to 120. He had to stay under 200 if he wanted to keep his monster at bay.]

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[ Maybe offering some warning would have been the considerate route to take, but how was he to explain his sudden presence without having to explain why it's possible? In his years on earth, he has found a satisfactory balance between reaction and consequence, one that allows him to know and occasionally tests limits. He's certain he's testing one now as he keeps up with his new fugitive buddy, his efforts to outrun or dismiss him futile.

There is one thing, however, that causes the slightest bit of hesitance; the beeping he has been hearing since that dart missed its target. It's even louder now, faster, and while he doesn't slow down, his tone becomes decidedly more frantic. ] What is-- is that a bomb? Are you carrying a bomb?

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[If the situation wasn't so dire, Bruce would have laughed at the question. Carrying a bomb? No, he was something much worse.]

Just leave me al--

[He didn't get a chance to finish that sentence, there was a huge explosion that goes off right in front of them, throwing Bruce back against the nearest wall. They've upped their game from darts to grenades, it would seem. Bruce tries to shake away the pounding in his head to SMASH THEM and limps to his feet, trying to keep running in another direction. Eventually he was going to run out of places to run.]

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[ He can make this right. He knows he can. This whole mess could be sorted out if Bruce would just attempt to explain the sudden transition from average joe to America's most wanted.

Of course, even if he wanted to explain, it's clear that it'll take some time to regain the air lost as his body is thrown about like a rag doll. Clark watches from his newly taken position in the air, the one that allowed him to avoid the worst of the blast, trying to figure out Bruce's next move before he's able to make it. He sees him approaching a dead end, one he hasn't a shred of hope of escaping and quickly becomes his only obstacle; the only thing between him and a potential way out. ] Listen to me. I'm trying to help you. But you have to let me. You have to tell me-- [ Another explosion sounds and Clark is in motion instantly, tacking the other man to the ground, attempting to shield him from from the effects of the blast. ]

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[Bruce was losing ground quickly, trying to stay calm and running for your life were not exactly synonymous. The fact that this guy who he just met was not taking the hint and leaving before he ended up hurt or worse was not helping either. Bruce tried to ignore him, trying to find the way around but at that moment, his attention was split.

And then he was tackled to the ground as another explosion goes off. He struggles like a wounded animal that's been cornered, panicking that he had been caught, that Ross was going to lock him away for good like the lab rat he was. His heart rate peaks at 202 and all he can see is green, his eyes glowing green as he can't see Clark or the explosions anymore...

His body starts to transform, convulsing on the pavement as his muscles swell and grow at an alarming rate, tearing right through his shirt. Bruce's yells of pain growing as well, turning into deep growls as his skin tints green. With one meaty green hand, he shoves the man trying to rescue him off and away as if he was swatting off a fly. The Hulk gets to his feet, pulling the remnants of shirt off his back and yelling in a rage at the oncoming army vehicles. He was VERY ANGRY.]

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[ In Clark's mind, he's doing the right thing. He's protecting someone who, given the situation, can't currently protect himself. Someone who he can only assume has been falsely accused of some sort of heinous act. The few pieces of the puzzle he has managed to collect, and the ones he would no doubt receive when this was all over, were to be put together at another time. His focus had to be kept on keeping Bruce safe.

He's sorting out the next stage in his plan as he hears that same incessant beeping speed to an alarming rate. What occurs next, he's not certain he'll ever be able to fully comprehend. It's undeniable that he has seen his fair share of the strange and impossible, his existence alone fits into both of those categories, but this was unlike anything before it.

Clark slams into a nearby dumpster, his body taking on that same, limp form that Bruce's had only moments ago. He attempts to stand, but out of sheer shock, finds it difficult to do anything but stare. Yes, Clark was correct in thinking that his new acquaintance needed protecting, but he didn't anticipate that it would be from himself. ]

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[They're firing off everything they've got now at the green hulking creature. Nothing is slowing him down, the Hulk plows right into a Humvee like a linebacker, crashing it into the nearest building. He then picks it up like a piece of cardboard and flings it into another vehicle, smashing both of them into a ball of twisted wreckage and flames. Men are diving out of the vehicles as fast as they can, trying to save themselves.

Hulk leaps in the air, coming down SMASH!! on top of the nearest jeep, beating it with his fists mercilessly like a prizefighter. BAM BAM BAM BAM BAM!!]

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Bruce Banner - The Hulk

October 2016

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