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Coastal Allergy Blues [The Avengers, Bruce/Tony, 2/?]


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Title: Coastal Allergy Blues

Fandom/Orginal: The Avengers

Disclaimer: Do not own any characters, no profit made from this story.

Summmary: Tony's never had springtime allergies before. Luckily, Bruce is determined to help.


Bruce swipes a practiced hand across one of the holo-monitors, successfully completing one batch of calculations. He removes his glasses and stretches up in his seat contentedly. He’s getting close to the conclusion phase, anticipating only a little more analysis of the proton collisions before he’s ready to present his results.

It’s rare for him to make so much progress at once. Battles requiring his big green half steal a lot of his time and even more of his energy. After a Hulk-out, Bruce is usually sluggish for at least a few days, and his work invariably suffers for it. But there hasn’t been a fight in weeks, he’s gotten decent sleep (no nightmares) and had even been lucky enough to run into Steve in the kitchen that morning, who always insists his teammates eat a solid breakfast.

There’s also, Bruce realizes with a frown, the fact that Tony hasn’t interrupted him once.

Tony can usually be counted on to pop his head into Bruce’s workspace at least once or twice per day, if not barge in and derail Bruce completely. Bruce smiles to himself. If it were anyone else, he’d hate the interruptions of his work. But Tony is different somehow. As much as Bruce would like to think of himself as being immune to things like charisma and verbal dexterity (and good looks), he can’t help the little leap in his chest whenever Tony drags him off to look at his latest project.

His mouth tightens, and he feels borderline guilty for not having noticed Tony’s absence until well into the afternoon.

“JARVIS,” Bruce says. “You think Tony would mind if I, uh…”

“If you what, Dr. Banner?”

Bruce fiddles with his glasses. “You know, talked to him?”

“Sir has informed me that I am always to put your communications through to him.”

Bruce blinks, and flushes a little bit, in surprise. “Well,” he says uncertainly. “It’s not really an emergency.”

“If I may, Dr. Banner, I believe Sir would appreciate your conversation at any time.”

“Oh,” Bruce says, a little floored. He hadn’t realized. “Well, then put me through, if you can.”

He has to wait a moment, watching the black screen while JARVIS connects them. When the channel opens, the videoscreen reveals Tony in his workshop. Some half-finished machines yawn open across the room behind him. Tony himself is covered in grease and sweat, the arc reactor gleaming a faint blue through his black undershirt. He’s just finished dragging a hand down his nose, ending with a sharp sniffle.

Upon seeing Bruce, he flashes a big grin.

“Bruce!” Tony says. His voice hits a rough note, and he coughs briefly. “How goes the atom-smashing?”

“You know me.” Bruce lifts a wry eyebrow. “Always happiest when I’m smashing.”

Tony lights up, positively delighted. “Proud of you, big guy. A couple of months you would’ve had the biggest stick in the world up your ass about a joke like that.”

Bruce rolls his eyes. “Thanks.”

“No problem. Listen, I’m glad you called,” Tony says. “Those energy conduits you designed for the suit? Seriously amazing. I’m still getting my head around how you – snnfff! – nailed the efficiency.”

“I have to earn my keep here, don’t I?” Bruce answers.

“You don’t have to earn….snnf! Anything.” Tony stops abruptly, and his eyes fall closed. After he wrinkles his nose deeply, seeming to clear some irritation, the moment passes. “You know that, Bruce. You’re always welcome here.”

“I know,” Bruce says firmly. “Tony, I really know.”

Inwardly, he feels a little guilty. Tony’s still a little overeager to give him these pep talks; a little too easily spooked by even the slightest hint that Bruce might go back to being a fugitive again, and Bruce hadn’t meant to suggest that.

“Good. Because with the kind of innovations you’re, hhhh,” Tony brings the grease towel up to rub roughly at his nose. “—uh, that you’re making. We are seriously fucked if you leave.”

“You don’t have to worry about that.” Bruce tilts his head. “Tony, are you okay?”

“Fine, big guy.” Tony drops the towel to his side immediately. “Fine.”

“All right,” Bruce says skeptically. “Well, you can always let me know if you aren’t feeling well.”

He knows Tony won’t if he can possibly help it. Thus, Bruce watches him closely and attempts to catalogue Tony’s symptoms himself, drawing on the skills he’d picked up working as a quasi-medic during his travels. Tony’s clearly suffering from nasal irritation, his voice sounds hoarse, and if Bruce isn’t mistaken, his eyes are a little pink as well. It’s March, which doesn’t rule out the possibility of a cold. But since it’s been unseasonably warm, some kind of allergy seems like a far more likely culprit.

“In the meantime,” Bruce says, “I wanted to thank you for your revisions on my scattering calculations. You didn’t have to take the time.”

Tony grins. “Oh, yes I did,” he answers. “Even your rough calculations are irresistible, babe.”

“Well.” Bruce ducks his head, blushing slightly. “Be that as it may. I was a little stuck on the exact hadronization process, and your corrections really helped me clarify the direction I wanted to go. In fact, I was going to ask if you might have time to…”

Bruce normally tends to ramble when he’s caught up talking about his project, but now he trails off. He can’t fail to notice the change in Tony’s expression: the sudden, fierce flutter of his eyelashes, the way his nose half-wrinkles up involuntarily, and the shaky way his lips part. Nor does he miss Tony rubbing two frantic fingers back and forth underneath his nostrils.

“Tony?” Bruce says in concern.

“Hah—hang on,” Tony gets out breathlessly. He ducks aside so that his head and face are off camera. “Att’TCCCHhhew!”

“Bless you,” Bruce offers automatically.

There’s no response, other than the rise of Tony’s back as he takes a deep breath. “Hhhh’Etttsschew!”

Off-camera, Tony blows his nose on something quickly, and then returns to full view.

“God, sorry,” Tony mutters. His eyes are much redder, and unmistakeably watery. He sniffles, full and deep. “I don’t know what the hell that was.”

“A little dusty in the workshop today, I take it,” Bruce says.

“Yeah. Dust.” Tony chuckles, hoarse and a little gurgly. “So you were saying I helped with the hadronization?”

“You more than helped.” Bruce smiled warmly. “Like I was saying, I was hoping we could work together on some of the scattering differentials. Only if you have time, of course, I wouldn’t want—”

Bruce again pauses, noticing Tony’s sudden, alarmed intake of breath. Tony manages to get one half-cupped hand in front of his face, but doesn’t have time to turn away before he fires off a spraying: “Eh-EITTSSCHHH!

“Bless you,” Bruce says.

“…Okay. That was disgusting,” Tony says. His tone is bright, as if to play it off, though he’s clearly embarrassed.

“It’s fine, Tony,” Bruce only says mildly.

“Don’t have to be nice, big guy, I know it—ugh. Dammit—” Tony cups the hand more firmly over his nose, and ducks off-camera again. “…HhhhEESHHH-OO!”

“Bless y—”


Tony lets them out rapidly, like gunshots. When he straightens, he looks slightly dazed from their force. He’s still got his hand cupped over his nose, and he pushes the palm up against his nostrils with a brisk sniffle.

“Tony, why don’t I come down?” Bruce says softly.

“D… doh.” Tony sniffles big, attempting to get his nose under control. “You don’t have to.”

“It’s really no trouble—”

“It’s… fide.” Tony’s eyes flutter, and he snnnfffs again. “…ohhh, Jesus.” He again jerks to the side, barely making it off-camera before— “httt’TTTSCHOO!”

There’s some movement, the grease towel fluttering, and then the camera mic picks up the sound of rough nose-blowing.

“Bless,” Bruce says.

“Huhh…. Thanks.” Tony’s still got his grease towel in front of his face when he reappears onscreen, and rubs it fiercely up and down the sides of his nose in an attempt at relief.

“So like we were agreeing,” Bruce says, “I’ll just bring down my calculations so we can talk about them.”

“I don’t think we, hahhh—” Tony’s face screws up. “Agreed to… huh. Hihhhh…”

Tony struggles, a sneeze clearly brewing. His eyes water up so badly there are fat tears caught in his eyelashes, and he takes a few irregular, hitched gasps. Yet he seems stuck in a moment of increasingly desperate, red-faced torment.

“Huh,” Tony gasps, “hih, hih, hih—ihh—

Tony presses the greasetowel over his face, rubbing at his nose slow and hard. His eyes screw shut, and his shoulders go up and down with deep, readying breaths. His left eye spills over with itchy tears.

“Okay,” Bruce says gently, reaching over to cut the communication. “I’ll see you in a few, Tony.”

“Hhhh… haaah…. Heh-AIIIG’SHHUU!” Tony finally explodes, right before the screen blanks.


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Oh my goodness! *fans self* Loving this so far. Love how you've written his sneezes and had them interrupting his speech. Also Bruce is adorable!

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Eeeee!! Thanks so much you guys! I am so glad you liked it. I just had the urge to torture Tony. Here is Part 2, which is a bit longer than Part 1. Tony's hayfever is really bothering him!


When Bruce arrives in the workshop, bag in hand, he needs only one look at Tony to confirm his suspicion of allergies.

Tony’s retreated to the couch in the corner of his workshop. His entire face is red, and a little swollen, his nose and eyes especially so. There’s a messy gleam underneath his eyes, where he’s not fully wiped away the evidence of how badly they’re watering. He’s also utterly given up pretending not to use his grease towel as a handkerchief. With both hands, Tony presses it over the bottom half of his face, and hunches over with each sneeze that overtakes him. He’s just winding down from an intense fit when Bruce arrives.

“Took your – hhhTCHIIEW! – sweet tibe,” Tony grumps as Bruce approaches. “Heh – ITTCH’ SHUU! hhhh’ISSSCH! hhh-EEIIISCH’UU! Ugghh…”

Bruce resists the urge to point out that Tony had initially claimed not to want him here at all. Instead, he settles beside Tony on the sofa, pulling his bag into his lap.

“Sorry about that,” he says. He opens it, and begins to rummage around inside. “And bless you.”

Tony waves him off. “Whatever. It’s… IIIT’CHEW! … fine. I have your hadronization work up onscreen over there.”

“Great,” Bruce says, glancing briefly at the screen. He’s more focused on pulling out a box of benadryl, which he sets on the small table in front of the sofa. Next is a small thermos.

“Those don’t look like - snffff – anything related to hadronization to me,” Tony says, narrowing his eyes suspiciously.

“I brought a few things,” Bruce says.

“Bruce, I have several robots whose sole reason for existence is to bring me things.”

“Call this special circumstances.” Bruce looks up from his unpacking, and smiles a little apologetically. “You’re clearly not feeling well, Tony.”

“Oh. So you came here to play doctor, huh? Huh…” Tony’s breath catches on the last syllable. “Huh… HUTT’SSCHHH!”

“Not necessarily,” Bruce corrects him. “These are all things any friend could’ve picked up at the store.”

“hihh’ETCCHEW!” Tony wipes at his nose. “Some friend. You tricked me.”

“For your own good,” Bruce admits cheerfully, handing over a clean handkerchief. “Bless you.”

Tony scowls. “You’re worse than Pepper.”

But there’s something like affection in his tone, and he swipes the handkerchief without further argument. He sets aside the grease towel he’d been using (Bruce notices that it’s absolutely soaked), and unfolds the cloth. When he’s folded it into a long rectangle, Tony presses it to his nose and gives a long, moist blow. “Ugh… ew. Sorry.”

“Tony, it’s fine.”

Tony draws back from the handkerchief. After a sniffly moment, he buries his face in it again and blows a little more fiercely. Bruce winces, watching him futilely try to get a little bit of relief.

When Tony’s finished, he casts a glance over at the thermos. “What’s… snfff – what’s id that?”

“Tea,” Bruce says. “The lemon and honey should help your throat a little.”

“Tea?” Tony says. His breath catches. “hih, hhh’EEIISSSHU! … Really? Since when did I turn into you?”

“Well, I would’ve made your standard drink,” Bruce answers, “but somehow, I didn’t think lemon and honey would work too well with espresso.”

“You make the best espresso, though. I bet you could ha… have made it… heh! … work.” Tony’s eyelashes flutter, and he buries his nose in the handkerchief again for an aggressive blow.

Bruce winces in sympathy. “I brought benadryl too.”

“Nah.” Tony gives one final honk into the handkerchief. “Let me try the tea first.”

Bruce nods, and sets to taking the top off the thermos, and turns it over to pour into. He tries not to be distracted when Tony suddenly forces the handkerchief hard up against his nose, and jerks forward silently. He’d actually stifled one successfully, although Tony has no luck concealing the ragged exhale of breath afterward, nor the terribly itchy look on his face.

Bruce finishes pouring the tea, and offers it carefully to Tony.

“Wait,” Tony says, putting up a hand. He turns his head to sneeze half against his arm. “hhh’ICCH-IEEW!... okay.”

Tony eyes the tea with some skepticism before he sips at it. But as the hot liquid goes down his throat and the steam into his nostrils, he whimpers slightly in relief. He sips a bigger mouthful, gulping it noisily. The heat of it makes his sniffles worse and he occasionally needs to put down the cup so he won’t spill it when a sneeze (or three) overtakes him. But Tony’s actually smiling a little once he’s drained his cup, and holds it out for Bruce to refill.

Bruce obliges him happily, taking the cup and setting it on the table. He concentrates on pouring while Tony noisily blows his nose.

“So,” Bruce says conversationally as he offers Tony the cup again. “I did some checking, and it turns out the tree pollen count broke a record today.”

Tony promptly sets the cup down and turns aside. “III’TTCCHH!... Thanks, but JARVIS already reminded me.”

“Is whatever medicine you’re taking not working anymore?” Bruce says. “Because I could help you find another one. There are a lot of options these days.”

Tony is quiet. His pauses in sipping his tea, and fixes Bruce with a dark look.

“You are taking some kind of medicine, right?” Bruce says. “For the… um. Hayfever. That you kind of clearly have.”

“Fuck hayfever,” Tony mutters, and again has to quickly set the cup down. He doesn’t have time to cover himself, and sprays a violent “hhhh’IIISSHEW!” that causes a few drops of tea to spatter out across the table.

“I think it heard you,” Bruce says. He reaches for the medicine he’d brought, and tears open the box flap. “I was going to see what else you were taking, in case there might be an interaction—”

“EHH’AAASSH!” Tony slaps the handkerchief over his face. “AAAITTCHOO!”

“—but if you aren’t taking anything, you could probably just go ahead and take a benadryl now.”

Angrily, Tony bolts up from the couch. His paces for a moment, his tea forgotten. With wide eyes Bruce watches him. He’s unaccustomed to seeing Tony look so openly pissed off.

“I never needed any fucking benadryl before,” he snaps.

“Before what?”

“You’re a genius. Figure it out,” Tony mutters.

Bruce stays quiet for a moment, gnawing at his bottom lip. “You think it’s the palladium exposure, don’t you?” he says softly. “I know it can have immune system effects.”

“It can have all kinds of lovely effects, as it turns out. hhhhEIITSHHOO!” He jerks forward. Beside him, DUM-E has rolled up, dolefully offering a box of tissues. Tony slaps it away. “I have a handkerchief, dumbass! Go work on the fucking air filters if you want to be useful!....uhhh,” Tony groans, slapping the handkerchief to his nose. “uhhh-ITTSHOO! SSSSH’OOO! ‘SSSCHIEWW!”

“Did you have any symptoms like this last spring?” Bruce says.

Tony bunches the tissue at his nose and blows. “No, I fucking did not. I never had pollen allergies.”

Bruce keeps quiet, watching Tony harshly blow his nose.

Fuck,” Tony snaps. “I never had pollen allergies before, but now? I’m running on a total of twenty minutes of sleep because I was sneezing literally all fucking night. I want to rip out my own eyes, I can barely breathe, my whole face itches – I made a dew fuckihg elebedt, Bruce, the palladiub’s dot supposed to be affectig be addybore. huhhh’SSCHHEW!”

“I didn’t realize it was bothering you last night,” Bruce says, rising from his seat in concern. “You should have woken me up.”

“And what are you going to d- to d- hhrEFFSHOO!” Tony plunges forward. “What cad you really do? Unless you want to turn big and green and smash any plants that are even so much as thinking of reproducing – which by the way, I would fully support at this point— you can’t fix this.”

“No,” Bruce says, stepping closer, “but I can at least help you find a medicine that might take the edge off.”

He stops only arm’s length away from Tony, watching the other man rub his nose again and again with the handkerchief. After a moment he stops, but only to run a thumb along the bottom of one watery eye and then the other. Some fresh irritation soon takes hold of him, and Tony takes in three fast, itchy sniffles.

“At least let me give you something to help you sleep at night,” Bruce says gently.

“Forget it.” Tony sniffles again. “I can’t think straight when I’m on antihistamines.”

Bruce frowns. “You’ve tried already?”

“Every cat and dog Mom brought home made me react like this,” Tony grumbles. “Believe me, I ran through everything. S’why I ended up building these stupid robots.” The irritation behind his sniffles suddenly crescendoes, and he closes his eyes. “ESSSH! ESSSH!”

“Okay.” Bruce puts up his hands, an idea occurring to him. “Maybe the palladium isn’t—”


“—isn’t the only new variable.”

“I haven’t undergone any other… hnnnhh-hiih---” Tony stops, his eyes scrunching up; after a second, he expels a breath. “I haven’t undergone any other significant physiological changes since I switched out the reactors.”

“Well, you kind of did. You moved, didn’t you?” Bruce says. “You were living in Malibu this time last year.”

“Yeah, but so…” Tony’s voice flutters. “aaah’ITTTSCCH! So what?”

“Well,” Bruce muses. “Maybe it’s not that the palladium made things worse…”

Tony snuffles miserably. “Trust me, this is worse.”

“…Maybe it’s your location,” Bruce finishes. “It’s possible you’re more sensitive to the pollen being produced by local species here than you were out west.”

Tony, through badly watery eyes, gives him a skeptical look. “Seriously?”

Bruce shrugs. “It’s been known to happen. When I was traveling,” he says, and they both know it’s a euphemism for being a fugitive, “there were a couple of places where I – oh. Bless you.”

Tony’s face is already screwing up. “AaaeERTS’SSCHU!”

“—Where I sometimes reacted to the local flora,” Bruce says. “You really never know. Sometimes it’s the particular species of plant, and sometimes it’s the wind and rain conditions.”

“And you ended up like this, huh?” Tony says. He massages the handkerchief along his nostrils, sniffling and groaning lightly to himself.

“Well,” Bruce says with a sympathetic wince. “Admittedly, I can’t say it was ever this bad.”

“So, what?” Tony looks at his handkerchief glumly. “You want me to just go away?”

Bruce’s heart drops a little. “Tony, no,” he says. “That’s not what I was trying to say at all.”

“Yeah, look,” Tony says hoarsely. “aaa’ISSHOO! I know this – ha-ISSHOO! – kind of thing annoys the shit out of people.”

Bruce crosses his arms and glares a little, suspecting that ‘people’ specifically means the notoriously strict, germaphobic Howard Stark. Tony and Bruce hadn’t exactly had long profound conversations about their respective fathers, but they’ve both hinted enough at particular sore spots. Tony’s cut down on his drinking when Bruce is around, and Bruce in turn understands that Tony needs a little more encouragement than most to accept “coddling” of any physical weaknesses, which he had been raised not to expect.

“Okay,” Bruce says. “First of all, I’m the last person on Earth who’s going to judge anyone for a physical reaction they can’t control. You understand that, right?”

Tony hums a little laugh at this. “hhhet’TSCHIEEW!... That’s good to know.

“And second of all,” Bruce says, “I didn’t mean that you should go away. Just that maybe you should spend a week in Malibu. Test things out, see if your allergies clear up at all. It’s a theory I could easily be wrong about.”

“You’re probably… hhhh’ETTSSCH!... not wrong. But that’s the thing,” Tony says. “What if you’re right? I’m not sure I want to move.”

“Well, if you aren’t willing to move and you aren’t willing to take medicine, that limits your options,” Bruce says. “Why don’t you want to move?”

“I have ties here.”

“What ties?” Bruce says. “You only—”


“—You only came to New York last year.”

“Pepper likes it here, and Rhodey’s – hhttt’TTCHIEW! – close by in DC.” Tony buries his face in the handkerchief. “…And you like it here.”

Bruce blinks, genuinely dumbfounded. “Me?” he says. “What difference does that make?”

“EI’IISSHH! …you’ve got to be kidding me,” Tony mutters into his handkerchief. “Ohhh… hh…. hhhh…”

Bruce frowns to himself, still not entirely certain what he’s missing. But Tony’s eyes are freshly watering up and his lashes are batting frantically as he tries to blink away tears, and he leans into his handkerchief with hitched gasps. It doesn’t seem like the time to press the issue.


“Whatever the case,” Bruce says uncertainly, “I certainly don’t like it enough to watch you have this kind of allergy attack.”

IIISSH’YIEW!” Tony doubles over, the handkerchief crammed against his face. “IhhhYISSSHEW!”

“And I can’t speak for Pepper or Rhodey, but I’d be surprised if they didn’t agree.”

“Well I…” Tony’s lashes flutter again. “Oh, fuck. Hang on, I still hab to...”

Bruce watches Tony fold and re-fold the handkerchief, trying to find a spot that’s remotely dry. The task becomes more urgent as Tony’s nose wrinkles, and then twitches sharply. His breath is hitching by the time he finds a spot that’s acceptable. Tony steeples his hands at his nose, holding the kerchief firmly in place, and closes his eyes.

“hhhaaEG’TCHhoo! hhhaaEKKH’SHOO! HhhhEKKZHEW!... hhhh. Hehhhh, hih.” Tony wipes messily at his nostrils, though his badly twitching nose suggest he isn’t finished. Sure enough, only a second later he returns the handkerchief to its place, and his head starts snapping forward again. “Eiiisshh’SSHOO! Ett-SSCHIEW! EttssSCHHH! Ett-TISSSCH!...hhhhh…. aaa’ESSSCH! ESSSCHH! ESSS’SCHHOO! ESSSCHEW! Edd’DSHEW! Aaaettss’SSCHEEEUUUW!”

Tony half-stumbles back over to the couch and flops down, looking utterly exhausted from his fit. Not helped, Bruce imagines, by the sleepless night he’d described earlier.

Fuck me,” he groans.

And not a second later, his lashes flutter, his eyes watering anew. He wrinkles his nose and sniffles against the handkerchief, desperate to soothe the relentless tickle that’s clearly still lurking.

“I still don’t want to move,” Tony declares stuffily.

“Would it help if I went with you?” Bruce says slowly, as if trying to sound out an incredibly advanced idea. “To Malibu?”

For the briefest of moments, Tony’s allergic misery is broken by a sharp grin. But he quickly reverts to a familiar look of torment.

“Hhh’IISHOO!... yes,” Tony chokes out.

“Okay,” Bruce says. “Yeah, in fact, I probably should. Just to see if my theory is correct.”

Tony sniffles tiredly. “Well,” he says. “Then I suppose I could try a – a – ‘TTTSCHEWW! – week out there. Couldn’t be any worse than here.” He lifts the handkerchief to blow his nose, but stops and looks at it in disgust. It’s soaked through. “Ugh. Do you --snnnnff! – have another one of these?”

Bruce immediately goes for his bag. “Yes, I have plenty.”

“And maybe one of those pills, too.” Tony swipes his wrist heavily against his nose, eyes watering again. “I fucking – HA’ETTTSCHOO! – give up.”

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Oh my god this is phenomenal

Is there more? I would love you forever if there was more

I love Bruce and Tony and I especially love Sneezy!Tony.

Thanks so much for writing this

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Ohhh. Tony. And Bruce. MMMMM. Happiness. Nicely done.

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  • 3 months later...

Omfg this is the best thing ever!!! Allergic Tony is :wub: and :drool:

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  • 3 years later...

Ahh I've read this story so many times but never made an account until now. I just wanted to let you know that I really enjoyed this story :) Tony is so adorable and the science bro interactions are so cute!

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