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Appearances (MCU, Tony Stark)


RiversD

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In which Tony struggles and Bruce is a good friend. set before Civil War, when everybody was still more or less friends.

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From Tony Stark’s perspective, this party was going on forever. That wouldn’t necessarily be a problem, but he had long since stopped having fun. He was uncomfortably hot under his dress shirt, and his collar felt as though it was choking him. This wasn’t exactly a shock. He’d been feeling rough for a couple of days, but this was a benefit for a refugee agency that no stupid head-cold was going to stop him supporting.

He’d rounded up a couple of Avengers to do their bit as well. Steve was both a great crowd-draw and a soft touch when it came to things like this, and Bruce, who had seen some of the camps up close, could make some powerful arguments for the cause.

And if NYC’s great and good needed further incentive to show up, the Cobham Collection had opened up their sculpture galleries for a private showing, which happened every once in a blue moon. Areas not open to the unwashed masses had been unbarred in a clear signal that Marshall Cobham was keen to max out his charitable deductions before the end of this tax year.

All in all, a party well worth attending, even if you were engaged in a war of attrition with your own respiratory system. Not that anybody would know to look at him, Tony was sure. Well, 90% sure.

He hadn’t looked bad to start with, and he wasn’t above a little concealer to help matters along- this was practically a matter of habit, anyway, the number of exhaustion circles he’d had to cover up round his eyes these past few years. After that, it was just a matter of standing up straight and making sure his hair stayed well-groomed.

But appearances weren’t everything, and this event was grinding him down by the minute. He had no idea how long they’d been here, but his throat was dry as a bone by now. He was trying to go easy on the bar, though- he wasn’t stupid enough to think that alcohol plus company would be a good idea in his current state.

So he was gliding from conversation to conversation, trying to keep his voice even and his sentences short while an assortment of social butterflies (and a few wasps) enjoyed the pleasure of being seen with him. Thank God hardly any of them were interested in what he had to say.

His sinuses were throbbing, the pulse occasionally sparking off a much more distracting sensation. And as if to top off his discomfort, his nose was stubbornly resisting all of his usual tricks to prevent…oh no-

hh’tchh! h’itschh-‘isschue!"

"Whew, sorry Madeline. Don’t know where that came from,” Tony lied, as he had done the last six times something like that had interrupted his conversations. Madeline seemed to buy it, and he disentangled himself from her as soon as he could, not wanting to embarrass himself further.

Miraculously, he found himself occupying a patch of empty floor and stepped into the lee of a plinth to try and catch his breath. That was getting harder to do, today. He let his eyes close for a moment and took a couple of slow breaths through his mouth.

Oohh no, closing his eyes had been a bad idea. He re-opened them and shuffled his feet against the polished floor, trying to dislodge the feeling that he was falling through empty space.

“Hey, Tony?”

Tony swivelled, false smile sliding mechanically back into place, but relaxed slightly when he saw that it was only Bruce. He looked concerned about something, though. Tony wondered what.

“Brucie. What’s up?”

“Are you alright?”

Oh. Him. Right. Tony went for another smile, and just a smidgeon of honesty.

“Trying to be.”

“Okay.” Bruce’s face stayed clouded for a second or so, then cleared into an excited smile. He put an arm around Tony’s waist and said,

“In that case, can I show you something over here? I think you’ll like it.”

“uh… sure.”

‘Over here’ turned out to be quite a walk. Out of the main ballroom, take a left, sudden right, two more lefts…

“Here we go.”

Tony blinked, caught off guard by the sudden stop. The hand which had been steering him withdrew, and he heard a latch click to behind him. He stared at the room he’d been led to, trying to work out just how long ago he had stopped paying attention.

There wasn’t much here. The room itself was perhaps six foot by three, and contained a broken chair, a lonely shelf bracket, and an unloved cardboard box.

Bruce reappeared, putting a hand on Tony’s shoulder this time.

“Right, hold still. I’m going to take a temperature reading.”

“’kay,” Tony replied automatically, then asked, “Where’s this?”

“Nowhere in particular. It’s just a space. Buildings like this generally have one or two. Small rooms that everyone assumes are being used by somebody else.”

Bruce steadied Tony’s head with one hand and gently inserted an electronic thermometer into his ear.

“Believe it or not, I’m very good at scouting out quiet places to hide.”

The thermometer beeped twice, and he withdrew it. Tony twisted to look at him, brow furrowing as he tried to think.

“Wait… so all that was you trying to…”

Bruce sighed. “Yes, Tony, ‘all that’ was me trying to discreetly move you someplace more private. Good grief, you really are out of it. Mind you, if I had a temperature like-”

He glanced down at the thermometer’s LED display and sucked a sharp breath in through his teeth.

“Seriously, Tony?”

Tony scowled at the traitorous device. “You keep one of those on you 24/7, or what?”

Bruce shrugged. “Sometimes I need to check my own vitals in a hurry. I carry a few things.”

“Right.” Tony lowered his gaze, not sure if he’d crossed a line or not. Everything felt fuzzy. “Sorry?”

“Don’t be.” Bruce shook his head. “Tony, you shouldn’t be here.”

“Yeah, probably not.” Tony raised an arm to cough against his sleeve. Coughing jarred his body just enough to remind him that absolutely everything ached. Wonderful. He shrugged. “But hey, what are you going to do, right?”

“I’m going to call Pepper.”

“What?” Tony’s head shot up, a movement that he had instant cause to regret. “Oww. You don’t have to do that,” he insisted, even as he staggered dizzily over to the nearest wall. “I’m here now, I may as well see this thing out. I c-could…”

Tony’s nose twitched rebelliously, and he buried his face in his hands as he gave in to a triplet of punishing sneezes.

hih’tsschh!hh’sschih! hieh’SSCHue!

Alone in a glorified closet with Bruce, he didn’t trouble himself to hide how much they took out of him, reeling back against the wall with a groan. Then, because he could feel his knees starting to shake, he caved in to his body’s demands and let himself slide to the floor. After all, what even was dignity at this point?

His head felt too heavy for his neck, and he rested it on top of his knees.

“I can jus’ wait here,” he mumbled, closing his eyes in the hope that he could somehow make the world less uncomfortable. It seemed to work a little. At any rate, it made the thumping in his head duller.

“Tony!”

Tony jumped as Bruce’s hand descended on his arm. He choked on his gasp of surprise and doubled over coughing for a short while. Bruce rubbed his back.

“I’m sorry, Tony. But you need to stay alert if you can.”

When Tony just moaned at him, Bruce added, “Do you want to be carried out of here?”

Tony thought about this. “I really, really don’t.”

“Good. Hold onto that thought.”

Bruce straightened up, phone already in his hand, and pressed the call button.

“Hi, Pepper, it’s Bruce… yes, it is…. He’s got a 103 fever, and I think he’s pretty dehydrated, so…yeah, exactly. No, no, we can get to the car if you… that’s great. Yeah, we’ll look out for him. Thanks.”

He tucked the phone away and offered Tony his arm.

“Come on. Happy’s going to bring the car around for you.”

“Fine,” Tony muttered, relieved despite himself. “I guess that’s for the best.”

“You know it is. Now hold still, you’ve got some dust on your butt.”

Tony decided arguing would be more embarrassing than the alternative. “…Thanks. Good catch.”

“No problem.” Bruce took a step back to look him up and down. “Will you be alright going back through the party?”

“Please.” Tony adjusted his tie and tugged his waistcoat smartly into place. “This is what I do.”

 

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This was an incredibly enjoyable read.  One shot or will there be more parts? :)

 

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“Hey, Tony?”

Tony swivelled, false smile sliding mechanically back into place, but relaxed slightly when he saw that it was only Bruce. He looked concerned about something, though. Tony wondered what.

“Brucie. What’s up?”

“Are you alright?”

Oh. Him. Right. Tony went for another smile, and just a smidgeon of honesty.

“Trying to be.”

 

I especially loved this part, it made me laugh! Good little story! Any plans to continue it?

 

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Awh, thanks so much you guys!

I did plan this as a one-shot, insofar as I actively plan anything these days. I honestly have no idea what would come next, and I suspect that imagination may turn out to be a lot more satisfying in this context.

But I'm super grateful for your enthusiasm nonetheless. Thanks again!

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This is great! I absolutely love caretaker!Bruce. Poor Tony. I love how he's so out of it he doesn't even realize he's been led off to a private area. 

On 8/31/2017 at 3:55 PM, RiversD said:

“Believe it or not, I’m very good at scouting out quiet places to hide.”

Love this!

 

On 8/31/2017 at 3:55 PM, RiversD said:

Tony scowled at the traitorous device. “You keep one of those on you 24/7, or what?”

 

 

Bruce shrugged. “Sometimes I need to check my own vitals in a hurry. I carry a few things.”

LOL, of course! 

 

On 8/31/2017 at 3:55 PM, RiversD said:

“No problem.” Bruce took a step back to look him up and down. “Will you be alright going back through the party?”

 

 

“Please.” Tony adjusted his tie and tugged his waistcoat smartly into place. “This is what I do.”

LOL. So Tony!

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