Day 8

Title: Day 8
Author: tarotgal
Fandom: Marvel (MCU)
Rating: PG
Pairing: Tony/Steve
Disclaimer: Not my characters. I wish they were mine. I definitely don’t get paid for this.
Summary: Tony's sick and finds himself unexpectedly alone.
Notes: Written during my 12 Ficlets in 12 Days in 2015 project for undersupply

The room was empty when he woke. It was not only disconcerting but also disheartening. Steve had promised he would be there to look after Tony. That was the entire reason Tony had agreed to get into bed and try to get a little sleep to begin with. He hadn’t wanted to leave his lab; this was just a little sniffle, not a reason to stop working. But he was a little achy on top of feeling a little sneezy. And he was a little sleepy on top of both of those. It wasn’t anything he hadn’t worked through before. It wasn’t anything it couldn’t work through this time. But then there had been that promise. And when Captain America made a promise, he was supposed to be good for it.

He had promised he would take care of Tony. And that meant sitting by him. That meant watching over him to be sure he was all right, even when he was sleeping. Yet, here Tony was, waking up to an empty room, an empty bed. Empty, that is, aside from two separate boxes of Kleenex.

He needed them both. “ah-ihhhh… ihhhhh!” He pulled a tissue from the box closest to him. “ihhhhh!” And he bunched it up against his twitching nostrils. He breathed into the tissue, his breath warm and heavy. “ihhh… ih-ih-hih-ihhhh-Ih-IH!” His body tensed and froze, waiting and hoping. “IHPtschhhhhhhh!” With a groan, he honked his nose into the tissue, balled it up, and tossed it over the side of the bed in an arbitrary direction. Steve had put a small paper bag somewhere to catch the tissues, but Tony couldn’t remember where it was. It was probably already full, so it didn’t matter anyway.

Determined to find Steve and figure out what the hell was going on, Tony grabbed the tissue box and he climbed out of bed. He crossed the too-spacious bedroom and started down the hall. He was almost to the elevator when the chill he’d been feeling developed into full-blown, non-stop shivering. “Dab it!” Tony glanced around, considering his options. Finally, he turned around and put on his bright red bathrobe. He slipped his feet into thick, wooly socks he couldn’t remember buying; probably some terrible gift from an employee some year that had somehow made its way into his dresser. Still feeling especially chilled, he grabbed the top blanket from his bed, sending a few stray tissues and the second box tumbling over the side of the bed, and wrapped it around his shoulders like a superhero’s cape. This might be the closest he was going to come to seeing a superhero today, at this rate.

There was really no telling where Steve was. Maybe he was off practicing with his new team, putting them through their paces with one of New York’s lesser villains—maybe something Spider-Man or Daredevil might fight. Or maybe Steve was going for a joyride on his motorcycle, off to see Wolverine at Xavier’s Institute, perhaps, or off to catch a double-header of a baseball game. Hell, he could be just downstairs for all Tony knew. But the tower felt lonely, and Tony didn’t think it would feel like that if Cap were around.

Tony headed back down the hall and into the elevator. The shiny metal inside reflected his image, even when he didn’t want it to. “ihh!” His breath hitched uncontrollably. “ih-hih-ihhh-ih-ihh!” He froze, just on the verge of sneezing but not quite there. He caught a glimpse of himself in the mirror and frowned, even as his mouth dropped open a little. His nostrils flared. His face went slack. His eyes were tired. This left very little room for doubt: he was not attractive when he sneezed. No wonder Steve didn’t stick around.  “ihhh-HIHKTschhhhh!” The sound seemed to bounce off all walls of the elevator, making it louder than it really was, or so he hoped.

He closed his eyes just to avoid seeing what he looked like when he blew his nose. The sound was bad enough on its own, the honk and gurgle. And his nose didn’t feel any better, no matter how much he blew it. He left behind a few balled-up tissues on the floor of the elevator when it reached the right level.

Tony wandered into the first room on the right. He didn’t expect to see Bruce, but he had been hoping. It would have even have been excited to have seen the Big Green Guy. But Bruce’s lab was empty. The experiments he’d been running he sat undone, abandoned, perhaps never to be finished. Bruce was gone. Thor was off in Asgard, handling family matters, presumably. Nat was gone, too, off working some mission for S.H.I.E.L.D. instead of waiting around for another emergency that would require the Avengers. Who knew if anything else like that would come after them any time soon. And Hawkeye was as well. He’d gone back to his family in the country, retreated to the quiet life. Tony thought it was well-deserved, but it didn’t soften the blow. Everyone left him. That included, it seemed, Steve Rogers.

Room after room along the hallway were vacant, but he half hoped Steve might be in one of them. Just to know he wasn’t entirely alone might be enough. But that’s what he was: alone. Utterly and miserably alone. Unless….

“JARVIS, sniff! Could you tell me if Cap’s in the building?” Silence followed this request, and Tony winced a few seconds later. Had he really said that out loud? What had he been thinking? At least no one had been around to hear his stupid mistake. JARVIS was gone, and that was Tony’s fault. Tony knew that better than anyone. So why had he just forgotten about his former AI? Could he really be that sick and feverish? Concerned, Tony pressed the back of his hand to his forehead. He certainly didn’t feel abnormally warm; he always ran a little hot anyway. So he probably wasn’t feverish, but he wouldn’t know for sure unless he went upstairs, got into his suit, and activated the bio sensor. But the idea of getting back into that elevator now was a lousy one.

So Tony kept going until he reached the kitchen. It was, just as he had expected, empty.

But if it was empty, then it meant there was no one to watch him or judge him. Setting the tissue box down on the table, Tony then made straight for the cabinet beside the oven. He took a brief look at the glasses in the cupboard before pulling a wine glass out. Usually he was in the mood for something stronger, something like hard liquor. But right now, wine would do him fine. And there was a dusty bottle in the rack on the kitchen counter that had his name on it. Quite literally. He’d bought the label last year at Pepper’s suggestion that he might as well do it if he was going to drink so much of it. At the time, she’d meant it as a joke. But she should have known better than to joke about that. And he’d expected her to laugh when he’d presented a bottle to her for her birthday.

Only she hadn’t laughed. And, a few months later, she’d left to manage one of his business enterprises in Los Angeles. She’d left, just like everyone else left. And now all he had was this wine. “ehh… ihhh… ih… ih!” Even though there was no one around to see him sneeze, he grabbed a tissue from the box and pressed it to his nose. “IH! IHH!” He froze.

The only thing worse than sneezing all the time was feeling like you had to sneeze all the time and not actually being able to. God, the tickle was merciless! It was worse than Ultron. Worse than Loki. Actually, he wasn’t entirely sure this wasn’t all Loki’s doing. That’s be just like him, wouldn’t it? Give Iron Man a little sniffle so he’s miserable and sniffly inside his suit when he shows up for the big fight.


Although this was definitely starting to feel more less like a little case of the sniffles and more like a head cold. He checked his temperature again by holding his hand to his head. But the wine glass was still in his hand. The moment the glass touched his forehead blessed relief washed over Tony. The cool and smooth surface was heavenly. He took it away only when he wanted to sip from it, and then he pressed right back against his forehead again. When he had completely drained the glass, he ended up drinking straight from the wine bottle instead. Because why not? It wasn’t like he had anyone else to share it with. He was all alone here in this gigantic tower with its state of the art everything and, yet, nothing at all to make him feel better when he was sick.

ih… ihhCHIHH!” Or almost nothing. He emptied his nose into another tissue, balled it up in his palm, and dropped it onto the table without a care. The small pile he was amassing there was starting to resemble an arsenal of snowballs. Tony imagined some enemy attacking him now and him using them as the only fire power he had. The blasters on his suit needed repairs. And he sure as hell wasn’t going to throw the bottle of wine as a weapon, even if he did have five dozen cases of it in the wine cellar.

Tony took another swig from the bottle and coughed. His nose was so stuffed-up he wasn’t even sure he was tasting the wine properly. Its flavor was duller than he had expected and remembered. But that didn’t keep him from drinking the bottle in its entirety and then starting a new one.

At some point, he forgot why he was holding a glass to his forehead and dropped it, causing it to catch the edge of the table on its way down before smashing on the kitchen’s tile floor. At some point, he started running low on tissues and used the napkins in the holder on the center of the table instead. And, at some point, he simply passed out with his cheek flat on the kitchen table, a mostly-empty bottle of wine held by the neck in one hand, and a balled-up tissue loosely held in his other hand.


That was how he was when Steve found him. “Oh my… Tony?” Steve was on him at once, first feeling for a pulse and then, upon finding it, feeling for a fever. His genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist was absolutely burning up from his flu. More than that, he was completely drunk. Tony was passed out, surrounded by used-up tissues and drained bottles of wine. He stirred slightly as Steve shook him to wake him up.

Tony came awake with a grunt and a cough and a sniff. Raising his head, he blinked up at Steve. “Cap? You’re… here?”

He sounded terrible. Steve resisted the urge to grab a napkin and make the man blow his nose into it to clear him up. “Of course I am. I think the real question is: what are you doing down here, out of bed and in this condition?” Steve pulled a chair out from the table and sat backwards in it, crossing his arms upon the back rung. It was his ‘I expect an answer’ pose.

And Tony tried to give him one; Steve gave him credit for at least doing that much. “I… I ihhh...ihhhhhHitchhhh! I woge ub alode add ih ih ihhh IhChhhhh! I… I could’t… ihhhh… I cad’t…” He shook his head, frustrated. “ihh-CHIH! Hihchihhh! Ihh-Hihshhhh! ihhhChishhhh!” He sprayed the table then lifted his sleeve to scrub his nose into it.

“It’s okay, Tone. Just relax and tell me when you stop sneezing.”

There was a flash of gratitude in Tony’s eyes. He scrounged around on the table for a tissue he could use, and found one balled-up but dry. “Tha… thanks-ih ihhh IhhChhhh! IhhhKTchhh! Hihshhh! HihKSchoo! Ihh-hih… hihSchhh! ihhSchhhh! Ih ih ihhhhhh-CHIShhhhh! Sniff! IhShihh! IhHishhhhhhhh! Ihhh…” He rubbed hard at his nose and didn’t finish the sneeze. He took a shaky breath in and out. “I came down here because I-IHSHhhhhhh! Chishhhih! I… I… hihhSchhh! Hih-Ihshuhh! Ih… ihhHihshhhh! I thought ihhhhh… ihhh-Hihschhhh! ihhChshhh!

Watching him sneeze like this, Steve felt for him. He might have gone against orders and left his room, but he didn’t deserve to be interrogated about it. The irritation he had felt was dissolving during each and every sneeze he heard.  “Tony…”

“I… did’t… hah-hihChuhhh! Ih-Chih! Ih-Chihhh! IhShihhh! IhhChishhhh!” Tony pried his eyes open, gasping, as he looked around for a dry tissue he could use. When he didn’t notice one right away, he buried his nose in the crook of his arm. “ihhh-Hihshfffffff! hihKSchhfffffff!

Steve sighed and got up. He pressed a hand to Tony’s back and rubbed. “Let me help you back to bed. Then we can talk. All right?”

Tony nodded and stood. He let himself be wrapped in Steve’s arms. Then he sneezed into Steve’s chest. “hih-ih-ihhhShihhhh!” But Steve did not flinch for a second. Instead, he rubbed Tony’s back again. Then he guided the man out of the kitchen and to the elevator.

Tony sneezed all the way to the bedroom and as Steve got him into bed as well. He curled and shivered as Steve tucked covers around him and laid a cool washcloth upon his forehead. With a fresh box of tissues, Steve stripped down then climbed into bed with Tony. Tony was hot with fever, and under the covers, the heat was intensified. Still, Steve wrapped an arm around Tony. At this, Tony did something that Steve did not expect: he whimpered.

“What’s the matter? Is it your nose? Or are you in pain?” Steve started to pull back, wanting to give Tony enough space and breathing room.

“I’b so glad you cabe back.”

“Of course I did. I live here, Tony.” He slid his arm back around and stroked Tony’s chest. It glowed blue and bright against his touch.

“But… you left. I doe you… you left be… hih… ihhhh-CHIshhhuhhh!” Steve pulled a tissue from the box and offered it to him. As he wiped his nose, Tony shook his head. “Everyode leaves be.”

So that it was it then. “I would have thought someone so brilliant would be better at logic. Did you even notice the blizzard starting outside?” Tony lifted his head and looked toward the window where snow blew past heavily. “We were running low of groceries.” Steve chuckled. “I didn’t want you running out of tissues.”


“Thanks to the blizzard, I won’t be leaving, even if I wanted to. Which I don’t. I want to stay right here with you.”

ih… ihhh IH-KIHTchhhh!

“Even if you continue to do that.” He rubbed Tony’s chest some more. “You can’t get rid of me so easily.”

The room—and the bed—were far from empty as Tony fell back to sleep.