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"Bad Liar" MCU, Tony Stark, M, Cold


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In which Tony is sick and Bruce is the hapless soul that has to go check on him.  Tony is not known for being particularly easy to deal with when he's sick.

Full disclosure: not my original idea.  It came as part of an RP where Tony and Natasha are dating and my mind saw a mention of Natasha sending Bruce in to check on Tony when she was away on a mission and Tony was sick and ran with it.  And this story is definitely "Tony and Natasha are a thing" and it's either pre Civil War or "Civil War never happened" territory.  And a huge thanks to SneezyHolmes for actually coming up with the idea because this wouldn't exist without it!

Oneshot for now, open-ended in case I manage to continue, which is a very big "if" these days.


"Bad Liar"

"Tony?  Tony are you in here?  I need to ask you something."

At the sound of the hesitant voice breaking the silence in the darkened room, a previously motionless pile of blankets began to stir.  It was just a slight shift at first, then a small flutter of activity, growing into a wave of motion, disturbing several wadded tissues that had been scattered about, some of them shifting to a slightly new position on the blanket, some finding their way all the way to the ground.  A little more dramatic rustling and the top of the blanket folded down to reveal the perplexed and perturbed face of a slightly-less-than-half-awake Tony Stark.

"Bruce?  What the hell?  Excuse me, did you just actually barge into my bedroom?"  His voice was thick and heavy with sleep, but that wasn't the only thing colouring his speech.  It was also tinged with congestion and the tell tale raspiness of a well established sore throat, though that really was to be expected.

"I...I, uh...well, I didn't barge.  Not exactly.  I did knock first," the other man said, playing nervously with his fingers and looking as if he'd rather be anywhere in the world that wasn't here at this moment in time.

"Uh huh.  And then you casually wandered into my bedroom.  While I was sleeping."  Tony let his head flop wearily onto his pillow.  And then nearly immediately raised it again.

"Hehhh'iiihhhTCHHH!...oh damn it where's my...hehhhKTCHHggh!...where did it...hehh...hehhhISSHHHcchh!..."  His hand flopped along the blanket, searching, until it finally connected with what it was looking for: a half full tissue box.  He pulled out two tissues, folded them together and issued an irritable "So, you gonna keep staring at me while I do this or what?" before pressing them over his nose and blowing profusely.  When he finished, he added the sodden wad to the assortment adorning the floor and pulled the blanket back up over his face so that only his eyes and hair were visible.

"Are you going to explain why you're standing in my bedroom watching me sleep?" Tony growled from under the pile of blankets. "Or should I just assume you're really into me but you got all your romance ideas from Twilight?" Tony snuggled himself into the blanket in an attempt to re-trap all the lost heat that had escaped when he'd moved around and messed up the truly awesome warmth seal he'd managed to create earlier.  Bruce drew back slightly but then seemed to think better of retreat and took a deep breath, squaring his shoulders.  Come on, this was Tony he was dealing with!  Everyone always said Tony had a devastatingly sharp tongue when he was set off, but he’d never seen that side of Tony turned upon him.  No, Tony was fun and warm and the guy he hung out in the lab with and had pizza with.   Tony wouldn’t get mad at him and chew him out.  He hoped.  And even if he did, what’s the worst that could happen?  A few mean words being thrown in his direction? 

Oh, he didn’t want mean words.  Mean words would be awful!  That would be a terrible outcome.  Maybe this was a bad idea.

"You-you did say your doors were always open for me,” Bruce stammered, shifting his weight from one foot to the other as if preparing for a dash out the door. “And that I could drop by any time I want and let myself in and..."

"Yeah, I meant, like, all of that stuff in the other rooms out there.  Watch my TV, raid my fridge.  Hell, drink my good Scotch, I don't care.  I didn't think I had to specifically exclude my bedroom from the deal.  I thought excluding my bedroom from the deal would be a sort of unspoken understanding,"  Tony snapped.

"Anyway, yeah," Bruce pressed on, completely ignoring the scolding he had just received which quite frankly he was sure was an act of extreme bravery he should really get recognition for!  "I haven't seen you in two days and I had a question for you and I've been waiting to ask it and I can't finish what I'm working on without it."

Tony sighed and pushed the blankets away from his face once more.  This time, with great effort and vaguely muttered noises of complaining that never coalesced into actual words, he rolled over onto his back and then dragged himself into a sitting position.  More tissue wads were disturbed, cascading down to the floor.  Even in the dim light, Bruce could now see how awful Tony looked.  His eyes were hooded and tired, his skin pale.  Though, his nose stood out in sharp contrast, looking an even brighter shade of red when compared to his unusually pallid face.  Bruce winced at the sight despite himself.  That nose told the tale of profound irritation probably caused by the scraping of countless tissues that, no matter how soft they were, over time would of course begin to hurt the skin with repeated use.   No wonder Tony was in such a bad mood.

"Okay, shoot," Tony challenged, immediately followed by a bout of harsh coughing that left him rubbing the centre of his chest and frowning slightly.

"Excuse me?  Oh...here..." Bruce casually reached into his pocket and produced a wrapped honey and lemon cough drop, equally casually handing it to Tony who accepted it without question, popping it into his mouth without really thinking about it.

"You know, shoot.  Tell me your question.  Then I can answer it, you can work on your project, I can go back to sleep and everyone's happy."

"Oh...yeah...uh..."  He rummaged around in a small messenger bag by his side that Tony was only now noticing and pulled out a small container of Vaseline.  He continued to falter and search his brain for words as he opened the container, dipped his finger into it, and then applied the thick jelly to the end of Tony's reddened and painful looking nose.  Tony narrowed his eyes and glared at him, but surprisingly allowed it.  Somehow, somewhere along the line Bruce had patiently attempted to take care of Tony enough times that Tony had become conditioned to accept it, though he didn't always manage to look happy about it.  "I...uh...I'm having trouble integrating the...no...I want to repurpose the mechanism you used for...the...uh...I want to make a..."

"Yeah," Tony said, folding his arms and drawing back, fixing Bruce with a suspicious glare.  "Next time you decide to lie to me, why don't you get your story straight first before you start talking to me."

"I am not lying to you, Tony, I really do want to...uh...to, uh..." He reached up and pressed his palm to Tony's forehead, eyes widening as he felt the head radiating from that spot.  This was the last straw for Tony, who swatted Bruce's hand away irritably.

"Yeah, that's what you came to do, wasn't it?  Did Natasha put you up to this?  Did she tell you to come check on me?  Well, look, I'm actually fine so whatever it is you planned to do isn't necessary.  I have a bit of a cold, it's no big deal, I could actually get up right now and run around the block, I could run a few laps around the block if I felt like it, but I thought that maybe getting a ton of sleep might help me get over it faster.  And now you're not even letting me do tha-...haaaaaat...hehhPTCHHgghh!...hiihhhKTCHHHuuu...hehhh...hehhh'dtchhhhu!"

"With that fever, I would very much recommend against running laps around the block, Tony.  That really doesn't seem like the "no big deal" type of cold.  And I kinda know you, you don't willingly go to bed to rest unless you absolutely have to."

As he spoke he'd managed to retrieve a bottle of Nyquil from his bag.  In an excellent feat of misdirection worthy of a skilled street magician, he managed to look Tony in the eyes while he did it, holding Tony's gaze and attention until a capful of the liquid was poured.  And then he simply put it into Tony's hand without a word and watched as Tony raised it to his mouth and knocked the stuff back without a thought.

Conditioning Tony had taken some time, but the end result had been worth it.  It saved so much time, and Bruce certainly didn't miss the tedious arguments.

“I’ll prove I can run laps around the block.  I’ll go do it right now,” Tony declared, and was he actually pushing himself up to get out of the bed?  He was.  He really was about to get up out of the bed.  Bruce pinched the bridge of his nose and sighed, attempting to bolster his reserves of patience

“Tony, please.  There is absolutely no reason to run laps around the block.  Okay?  I believe you so...yeah, you don’t have to prove it.  Okay?”  

"Whatever," Tony grumbled flinging himself petulantly back to lying on his side and pulling the blankets up over his shoulders.  "I am in fact entirely capable of looking after myself so if you don't mind I'm going to try to get back to that dream I was having..."

"That's fine," Bruce said.  "I'm just going to go watch your TV, raid your fridge, and maybe help myself to your good Scotch.  So, I'll be just out there if you need anything..."

“Fine, if you insist.  But when you’re reporting back to Natasha be sure to tell her that I’m fine and she doesn’t need to send my friends to break in and spy on me.”

Bruce did not reply, but he was glad at least that Tony was still referring to him as a friend.  That was a good sign

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Oh my god this was so good! I love how shy Bruce is and the fact he's just casually taking care of Tony under the guise of a lie. Ahh and I just adore how grumpy he is and the fact that he's totally on to what Natasha did, probably because it wouldn't be the first or last time she pulled something like that! :D I'm so glad I could inspire this piece of heavenly writing! 

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