Prompt: Steve Rogers is definitely not used to Nyquil, digital thermometers, or the concept of streaming Netflix in bed while sick. When he comes down with a cold, someone has to show him the modern ropes! Paired with Tony, Natasha, Clint, Coulson, or Bruce!
Back to Bed, Soldier
The complete darkness of the room magnified the sound, making it stand out amongst the grinding metal and pops of electricity. “Lights!” Tony called out from one side, and the training room was flooded with light. “All right,” he said, his mask retracting to show his face and the look of annoyance upon it. “Who sneezed?” He looked around at his fellow Avengers.
Innocently, they all glanced around until they noticed Captain America’s hand raised in the air. He didn’t look embarrassed, only a bit mad at himself for causing a delay. “Sorry about that, guys. I’ve got a cold. It just slipped out.”
The tone in the room changed. It had started out with tense, serious concentration. They were supposed to be testing out Tony’s newest echolocation gadgets while training, and those required concentration and a minimal amount of outside noise. The room’s built-in systems were almost always switched off of safe mode, which potentially meant serious injury for any Avenger not paying attention. They’d spent a lot time discussing strategy, so to finally get into the training session just to stop was annoying. However, this comment from Steve changed things.
“A cold?” Hawkeye repeated. “You’re sick?”
Steve nodded, rubbing a palm at his nose. “Yes, but just a little.”
It was Natasha’s turn to speak up. “You’re a super-soldier with a head cold. I don’t think there’s any such thing as ‘little’ where you’re concerned.”
“End simulation!” Tony commanded, and the room went quiet. Blades retracted into walls. Pulses and lasers shut off.
“We don’t have to stop. It’s just a cold,” Steve protested.
“Avengers do not train when they’re compromised. Didn’t we learn that lesson last month after Clint’s root canal?”
Hawkeye smiled wistfully. “Those painkillers were the best…”
“Yeah, you were glad for them when you twisted the wrong way during training and broke your leg and your nose. The rest of us were less fond of that incident. Coulson nearly had our asses. And we promised to not take any unnecessary risks.” They all paused, thinking about this. What risks the Avengers deemed necessary was a bit different from what a normal person would. None of them had quite kept that promise. But this time, Tony was determined to not get his ass kicked by a certain S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent. “Go on up to bed, Cap.”
“Guys, really, I don’t need to go lie down. Back in the war we didn’t let a little thing like this stop us. We fought through. I’ll be fine.”
Tony walked over, putting one metal arm around the man’s shoulders. “Course you’ll be fine, because you’re going to go lie down and get rid of that cold right now.”
Steve tried to pull away. But Natasha and Clint stood behind him and Thor loomed at his side, looking down at him like he was a curious little insect. So there was nothing to be done but let the others march him to his room. His cheeks burned with embarrassment as Tony ordered him to strip down to white his tank top and boxer briefs then crawl into bed.
He might be sick, but he was perfectly capable of putting himself to bed. He didn’t need the others hovering. If he needed anyone, it was Bruce. Bruce would know what medicine he should take and how much of it how often. But the Big Guy wasn’t around at the moment and Bruce wasn’t either.
The blanket was stripped off his bed and Tony sat down on the edge of the bed while the others disappeared. “I don’t need babysitting,” Steve explained, rubbing at his nose. “hah-Chiiiiiih!”
“Bless you. Of course you don’t. But there are some things you do need.”
Steve remembered colds back in the day. He remembered disgusting powders you mixed in water and tried to keep down, nose drops that stung and ran back out, and the choice between horrible cherry-flavored pectoral and that other stuff that claimed to clean your intestinal tract at the same time. And he wasn’t exactly sure, but he didn’t think that was the way colds were treated nowadays. “What do I… n-need? Kahh-Choo!” he sneezed into his cupped hand and sniffed hard until he risked lowering his hand.
Tony smiled and patted Cap’s thigh through the sheet. “Tissues for one. D’you always sneeze so loud?”
Clint returned with a handful of things from the bathroom—pill bottles, a tissue box, and some small piece of technology. As Steve rubbed his nose with a tissue, Clint dragged the trashcan over to the side of the bed and Tony pressed buttons on the little white rectangle. Attached to it on a cord was a thin metal stick.
Tony gave Hawkeye an order, “Feel his forehead, would you?”
A few seconds later, Clint’s hand was plastered on Steve’s forehead. “Hard to tell.”
Steve wiggled out from under the touch, sniffling. “This is just—“ But that was as far as he got before Tony slid the stick into his mouth.
“Well, the thermometer will tell us for sure. Keep your mouth closed until it beeps.”
By the time it did, Thor was back with some rectangular machine sloshing about and sounding as if it were filled with water. And Natasha was back with a blanket, which was good as Steve was starting to get cold with just the sheet over him.
He watched his teammates move around, setting things out and setting things up, not understanding anything they were doing. Or, well, understanding it just enough to know he didn’t understand it. The thermometer beeped and instead of holding it up to the light and reading it, Tony read the computer display in his hand, frowning. The blanket Natasha had brought was heavier than the one he usually used, but it plugged into the wall. Clint measured out a small shot glass of something bright green and terrible-looking; a few moments later, Steve realized it tasted worse than it looked. But he also realized the blanket was suddenly warm on its own. And he realized Tony’s cool metal hand was pressed against his forehead. Steve didn’t feel like moving away from that.
The tissues were soft and smooth with lotion. The machine, once Natasha had helped Thor get it plugged in, bubbled soothingly, spurting steam into the air like a geyser. And Clint plopped a laptop on Steve’s lap, open already to something with a red logo Steve vaguely recognized from weekly movie night.
“This is for movies?”
Clint nodded, “Yeah, but the best thing when you’re sick is television shows. You pick a long one, like nine seasons, and just live in it for three days. You won’t even notice you’re sneezing.”
“Okay, well, maybe you’ll notice those a little.”
Natasha broke in. “The point is to rest and be comfortable.”
“Do you require anything else, Steve Rogers?”
Steve looked around at all of them. Then he rubbed his nose with what was possibly the softest thing ever made. And he felt Tony’s cool hand stroke his head. “Sleep,” he requested, only seconds before passing out.
It was late at night when Steve woke up. Something was playing on the laptop, but it was too loud and colorful and moving quickly, so Steve closed the laptop. He was too warm. The room was too warm. Stifling. He couldn’t breathe. He needed air.
Sniffling into a tissue, he quickly pulled on some clothes and threw his bathrobe on over them. He made it as far as his door, fingers ghosting against the doorknob. “Going somewhere, Cap?”
Steve turned to see Tony out of his Iron Man armor, slumped with a pillow and fleece throw blanket in a chair by the dresser.
“Get your butt back into bed, Soldier.”
“Tony, I… I-ih-kahCHOO!” He dabbed the tissue at his nose.
“If you can’t make it through a sentence without sneezing, you don’t get to be out of bed.”
“Is that a rule?”
“It is now.” Tony got up, stretched, and crossed the room. He didn’t manhandle Steve back into bed. But he did cross his arms over his chest and lean against the door, blocking Steve’s way out. “What were you getting up for?”
Steve glanced at his bed. It looked warm and inviting, but it also looked all too familiar. “Being sick like this reminds me of how I was before the super soldier serum. I don’t like to talk about it, but I used to get sick a lot, Tony. I always caught every cold out there. My nose was always running. Always.” He rubbed his nose now. “At least in the army I could keep moving. There was always a battle to rush off to or a mission that needed doing. Lying here doing nothing makes me think of when I was a sick, scrawny, little weakling. I just needed to get up and stop dwelling on the cold.”
Tony’s posture loosened. He dropped his arms to his sides, then he reached over and patted Steve’s upper arm. “I bet I can come up with a way to take your mind off it. C’mon. Out of that uniform and back into bed.”
With the steaming machine turned off and the blanket turned down, it wasn’t quite so warm in bed. And with Tony pressed to his side, rubbing some cream that was cool and tightening on his chest beneath the shirt, Steve had to admit it wasn’t all that bad to give up and relax.