Giles didn’t ask for a lot of details about his travels and Oz didn’t offer them, so he had to assume that his assignment had more to do with being an experienced traveler who knew how to blend. It was definitely…fortuitous that he had already run across the formerly esteemed, now much maligned Dr. Banner, though.
Still, there was a difference between knowing a guy and waiting, uninvited, in his shack in the middle of everything. The man couldn’t have been more obvious about not wanting company without posting a do not disturb sign. Oz shifted uncomfortably, then stilled, hearing heavy footsteps coming up the stairs.
The door creaked open and, before Banner could turn on the light, Oz just said, “It’s just me.”
Banner hesitated, then closed the door and turned on the light.
He turned as he said, “Osbourne. You could’ve given some advanced warning.”
Oz shrugged. “You’d have run if you saw a light.”
Banner gave him a small smile and said, “Yeah, well. Can you blame me?”
“Nah,” Oz said and stood, tucking his hands in his pockets. “Came with a warning. Organization called S.H.I.E.L.D is poking around.”
Oz watched him close his eyes and take a deep breath.
“Do they know where I am?” he finally asked.
Oz said, “Maybe not yet. But if they want you, they’ll find you.”
Banner looked at him, face tinting light green. “I’ll be here.”
Oz raised an unimpressed eyebrow. “How’s the meditation going?”
Banner flushed, the green washing away under the red. “It’s going fine. I’ve, uh, I think I’ve finally found my trigger.”
“That’s helpful,” Oz said, nodding. “It’s a step closer.”
Banner blew out a breath, then said, “I think getting closer to people is the worst thing I could do.”
Oz gave an inaudible sigh before saying, “I won’t argue with you.”
He was pretty sure something or someone would eventually change his mind, but Oz wasn’t going to be the one to talk him into it.
“Are you going to be staying?” Banner asked, just a touch hesitant. Oz could both see and understand the longing for company and the fear of harming someone else.
“I’ve gotta head out,” he said, shaking his head and Banner’s disappointment was tempered by relief.
Banner held out his hand. “It was good to see you, even if it was a surprise.”
Oz nodded at him, saying, “You, too,” taking his hand. He headed for the door and paused on the threshold, turning back to say, “Change is coming.”
“That’s life,” Banner said, but he nodded to acknowledge the warning.
Oz waved one last time, then headed out the door. The day was going to come when the longing for companionship won out over the fear of hurting someone for Banner. It had for Oz. Even with their less controllable sides, they were only human.