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The Gesundheit Protocol (MCU, Captain America)


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Some Veteran's Day fluff about my favorite soldier! Captain America is sick and has some special health needs I have invented. He protests that he's fine but his teammates aren't having it. Extra fun if you like medical stuff.


The Avengers were having a morning meeting with Nick Fury, waiting for everyone to arrive to get started. Tony, Natasha, Sam, and Wanda were all there, Vision & Rhody were out on a mission, and Bruce and Steve were missing.

"Sorry I'm late," said Bruce as he finally walked in, looking a bit rumpled. "Overslept." 

"You're not the last one for once," said Natasha. "Cap's still not here."

"Really? Military-time Steve?" said Bruce, getting a cup of coffee.

"The Boy Scout's going to lose his merit badge," said Nick Fury.

"He sounded like he was getting sick yesterday," said Sam. "Maybe that's it."

"You know, I thought so too," said Tony. "He totally denied it, but that doesn't mean anything. Probably just doesn't want us to initiate the protocol."

"What's the..." began Wanda, but she was interrupted by the conference screen lighting up with Captain America on the monitor.

"Hey guys?" Cap said.  "I, uh....I think I should conference in. I, ah...well, I think I might have the flu. Don't want to give it to everyone."

"Called it!" said Tony. "Told you so."

"Well you don't have to sound so happy about it....Atchhhhoo!" he sneezed into a tissue.

"Not happy, just vindicated."

'You sound terrible, Steve," said Natasha, sympathetically.  

"Nick, you mind if I skip this one so I can check him out?" asked Bruce.

"Go ahead, Dr Banner," said Fury. "Make sure Captain America doesn't die of the flu." 

"Oh come on, guys, you're not still insisting on doing this, are you?" asked Cap.

"We sure are, buddy," said Tony.

"Sorry, Steve, I gotta come take a look at you," Bruce said, getting up. "See you in a minute." 

"We'll send you the meeting notes, Cap -" said Tony as he ended the conference call before Steve could protest anymore.

"What was that about?" asked Wanda, the newest Avenger.

"Little side effect of the super soldier serum," explained Fury. "It amped it up his immune system along with everything else. It makes him resistant to disease, but if something gets through his defenses, well, it can be a problem."

"His body reacts so strongly that it can cause a kind of runaway immune response, a cytokine storm,” explained Natasha. "It was one of the problems they had with developing the serum, a lot of the early subjects died from it."

"That sounds terrible," said Wanda, looking worried. "Is he going to be OK?"

"It's really just a precaution, " Natasha reassured her. "Steve's never had a full on cytokine storm, but he’s come close. We have a protocol for when he gets sick, just in case."

"I call it the "Gesundheit Protocol,"" said Tony.

"And he HATES it," said Sam, with a grin.


Captain Steve Rogers Infectious Disease Protocol

1. The subject is to immediately report any signs of infectious illness and submit himself for medical evaluation by the team physician or a physician assigned by S.H.I.E.L.D.. 

2. The attending physician will do the following:

A. Perform a thorough medical examination to assist in diagnosis, and to establish a baseline for additional monitoring.

B. Perform whatever tests are necessary to establish the disease-causing agent. This will be done regardless of the severity of the illness.

C. Work with S.H.I.E.L.D. scientists to develop a treatment plan

D. Monitor the subject's vital signs every 3 hours.

3. The subject is to be removed from active duty until cleared by the attending physician. 

Bruce approached Steve's door with his bag of medical supplies. He wasn't actually a doctor, technically, but Steve disliked going to S.H.I.E.L.D. doctors so much that they'd allowed Bruce to provide initial treatment. Not that it was all that much easier when it he did it, Bruce sighed, bracing himself for the inevitable resistance he was going to get. He supposed he couldn't blame the guy. Steve had struggled with poor health for his whole life, before the super soldier serum. Getting sick probably felt like going back to something he'd fought to leave behind.

"Hey, Steve," Bruce said as he came in with his medical bag. "Sorry you're not feeling so hot. I know you hate being sick."

"Doesn't everybody?" asked Steve, wiping his nose and coughing a bit. 

"Yeah, but some people hate it more than others," he said, pulling up a chair. "Let's get your temperature." He took out the sensor and swept it over Steve's forehead and neck. "102.1. When did you start feeling sick?"

"I don't know, yesterday, I guess."

"You know, you're supposed to report it as soon as you start getting sick, right? Not the next day?"

"I know," Cap sighed.

"All right then, tell me all your symptoms, how it started...you know the drill."

Steve let out an exasperated breath. "Fine. I woke up with a sore throat yesterday, got worse all day, thought I might sleep it off, but....eh....Atchooo!" Steve sneezed.

"Bless you," said Bruce.

"Thanks," Cap said, and blew his nose a bit. "Then it kind of moved into my head overnight. Woke up feeling pretty awful. "

"That's no good," Bruce said. "All right, let me look at your throat," he said, and Steve Rogers opened his mouth.

"Ouch," said Bruce, peering at his swollen tonsils. "Any cough?" 

"No. Maybe a little."

"Muscle aches?"


"Any GI symptoms? Nausea, diarrhea?" 

"No," said Cap.

"Well, that's good," said Bruce, taking out his stethoscope. "Alright, I'm going to listen to your lungs." He placed the stethoscope on Steve's chest and instructed him to take deep breaths. He listened to each side in turn, and then again from the back. "Lungs are clear. Your pulse is going a little crazy though," he said, taking Steve's wrist and looking at his watch. "Ninety," Bruce said after a few moments. "All right, buddy, I gotta take a swab," he said, retrieving one from his bag. “No fun but it’ll just be a second. Blow your nose first.” Steve complied, emptying his sinuses into a tissue. Then Bruce tilted Steve's head back and inserted the swab deep into his nasopharynx and rotated it.

"That oughta do it," said Bruce, removing the swab. Steve immediately reached for the tissues and started sneezing and blowing his nose. 

"Ah..ACHOO! ACHOO! Ugh, that's awful," said Cap.

"Sorry, Steve. I'll send this off to S.H.I.E.L.D., see what you got. We're not gonna start any antivirals until we know what it is. For now it's just rest, fluids, tylenol, and vitals every 3 hours."

"I'm supposed to go in to the Pentagon at 11:00," Steve protested, sniffling.

"Yeah, well, you're not doing that," said Bruce. "Look, I've cut you some slack on the protocol when you're not that sick, but you've got a high fever and a rapid pulse. You gotta stay put for this one." He got up to leave with his bag. "Go to bed, get some rest. I'll see you in a few hours."


"Well, that was quick," said Bruce that evening, reading a message on his laptop. "Diagnosis from S.H.I.E.L.D. Cap's got an adenovirus, common cold."

"Well that's good, isn't it? Not the flu?" asked Tony.

"Not exactly..." He read further down the message. "Looks like it's a strain that popped up in the 90s, something we've probably all had before but could be a first exposure for Cap. Still...he shouldn't be this sick. His fever is still going up. I'm starting to think I should send him in to S.H.I.E.L.D.."

"He's not going to like that," said Natasha. 

"Yeah, I know. I hate to do it to him, but..."

"Maybe I could help," suggested Wanda. "I've been thinking about it. I can try influencing the probabilities to help him get better faster, or at least to stop his immune system from overreacting." 

"Have you done that before?" asked Bruce, surprised.

"No, not exactly," she said. "I've done wound healing, though. This would be similar. The probabilities are too complicated to completely heal him, but I could give him a boost."

"Is it risky?" asked Tony.

"No," she shook her head. "If I were really trying to force something, then yes, but this would be very gentle."

"Well, if Cap says yes, it's OK with me. I can hold off on sending him to S.H.I.E.L.D." 


Wanda approached Cap's door. She was nervous. Not because of the healing she was about to do - she felt confident in that - but because of the crush she had on Steve. Oh, she knew Steve wasn't interested. He saw her more as a kid sister than anything else. And now she had this thing going on with Vision. But Steve was so good and so strong, and so sweet and so handsome, she couldn't help crushing on him. She just hoped it wasn't too obvious.

She tapped softly on his door.

"Cobe id," croaked Steve, and she entered to find him in bed. His eyes were glazed, his handsome nose was tinged with pink around the edges, and his bedside table was littered with used tissues. Oh my God, he was so adorable.

"Hi Cap, how are you feeling?" she asked.

"I've been better," he confessed, wiping his nose.

"I can tell," she said, sympathetically, sitting on the bed next to him.  "It's OK if I try to help?"

"Well, Bruce said it was either this or being shipped off to a SHIELD hospital," he said, sounding annoyed. "But you shouldn't get too close," he cautioned her. Her inner fangirl melted - sick as he was, he was still concerned about her!

"Don't worry about me. And I do have to get close," she said, sounding admirably mature and in control. She reached out and cupped his face in her hands. He was really feverish. A warm red glow started emanating from her hands. Then his breath started to hitch.

"Wanda, I'm sorry, I...ATCHOO! ATCHOOO!" he quickly turned and sneezed into some tissues. Not quite quickly enough. He blew his nose and looked embarrassed. 

"It's OK, Steve," she reassured him. "Just lie back. It's fine if you have to sneeze." And she continued her work as he sniffled and wiped his nose. Her hands drifted down to touch his throat, and his chest. Oh my, his chest. Focus, Wanda! She admonished herself. Then farther down towards his spleen, which Bruce said was a bit enlarged. Her magic flowed two ways, working against the virus and telling his immune system to calm down. She immersed herself in the spell, until finally she emerged, having done all she could do. She looked at Steve and melted once again. He had drifted to sleep.  She felt a huge wave of affection for him, and wanted to kiss his cheek, but didn't. She tiptoed softly out of the room and let him sleep.


"Good news, guys!" said Bruce the next morning. "Cap's fever's down. He still has a bad cold, but he's on the mend. Wanda's magic did the trick."

"It could be a coincidence," said Wanda, trying not to seem too pleased with herself. "He could have been getting better anyway."

"You're too modest, girl," said Sam. "I know who I'm coming to next time I get sick."

"Maybe he'll be up for the movie tonight," said Natasha. "I hope so, I'd hate for him to miss it." They were going to watch a special screening of an upcoming movie about the battle with Ultron.

"Yeah, he can't miss it. We'll get his grumpy ass up here," said Tony.


That afternoon, the Avengers all were gathered in the home theater, popcorn and pizza on the table. 

"There he is!" said Tony as Steve came into the living room, dressed in sweats and holding a tissue box. 

"How you feeling, Cap?" asked Sam.

"I'm fine, guys, definitely feeling better. No need to make a big deal about it...ah...ATCHOOO!" he sneezed into his tissues and blew his nose. "You (sniff) sure you want to be around me though?"

"You can't miss the movie, Steve!" said Wanda. "It's about us!" 

"Yeah, just try not to sneeze directly on us," said Tony. 

"We've got a spot for you right here," said Natasha, patting the best seat in the house, with a fluffy quilt and pillows laid out for him, and a bowl of chicken soup on the table. As he sat down she pulled the quilt over him and put a hand on his forehead.

"What did I say about not making a big deal, Romanoff?" Steve complained.

"Sorry soldier, we got a protocol," said Natasha, “Which is essentially to make a big deal about it." 

"That's how it is," said Sam, clapping him on the back. 

Steve looked aggrieved as he put up with them teasing him and making a fuss. But the truth was, deep down, he appreciated it. He knew he was a terrible patient, but he also knew that refusing to admit weakness was stupid, given the risks. He had seen footage of the early experiments, seen the men coughing and hemorrhaging their lives out. He never wanted to admit that it scared him. Luckily, with his teammates looking out for him, he didn't have to. 

“Ah...ahCHOO!! Achoo! ATCHIOO!” He sneezed convulsively into a handful of tissues. 

“Bless you!” “Gesundheit” “God bless” came the chorus of responses. Steve blew his nose forcefully, sighed, and settled back into the cushions. 

“Thanks guys,” he said quietly. And he meant it. 

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7 hours ago, matilda3948 said:

Love it!!! Really cool premise and he would be a terrible patient. Wanda's healing work was great too. Nice job!


6 hours ago, jensdw said:

adorable!! :drool: Thanks for sharing. :)


2 hours ago, AngelEyes said:

Love this premise!

Thank you thank you thank you! I enjoyed writing it. I like the premise too...I kind of like the idea of a minor illness being treated medically, but it has to make sense! I was always intrigued with the concept of a cytokine storm, and the fact that in the 1918 flu pandemic, it was actually young and healthy people who died - their robust immune systems reacted so vigorously to the infection that it killed them. Older, weaker people were less affected. 

Being Marvel, this may need a post-credits scene or two...

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  • 9 months later...

Post-Credits scene: Avengers mansion kitchen.

Wanda pours water from a kettle into a mug with a teabag. She spoons honey into it, stirs it, and carries it over to the kitchen table. Her eyes flutter and she sneezes, "hitchhhshsh, tchshhhh, tschoooo!"

"Bless you," says Steve, just entering the room. 

"Oh! Steve, I didn't hear you come in," she says, sniffling.

"Sorry," he says, taking a tissue box from a nearby table and handing it to her. "You know, I told you not to get so close," he says with a wry smile.

Wanda takes a tissue. "Well, for you, Steve...it was worth ihhh...etchooooo!"

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  • 3 weeks later...


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