Catching a cold is a minor annoyance; after all it isn't life threatening in anyway. Unless your name is Tony Stark; then you have something to worry about.
Watching Iron Man 2 inspired me to write this fic, the scene when Pepper comes into the lab with a cold sparked an idea so here it is, plus I've been suffering with cold this week.
I'm still proof reading and making changes to this but I wanted to know what you guys think; should I continue this? Let me know, enjoy!
Tony Stark couldn't help but wince internally as he exited the Heli-carrier alongside his teammates. After another long and lengthy meeting with the rather irritable director Fury, the group were finally free to leave and were currently weaving in and out of the many busy Shield agents working around them. The billionaire could barely suppress his discomfort as he brushed shoulders with complete strangers.
Usually crowds didn't bother him but the place was like a busy hive of activity, he shuddered as his ears detected the sound of coughing and sniffing, loud enough to be heard over the buzzing of machinery and chatter amongst workers; it was enough to make him cringe. Loud splutters and sneezes seemed to come from almost every direction, and Stark felt closed in. No matter where he went or how fast he walked the noise seemed to follow him and it was starting to make him feel agitated.
The mechanic strolled quickly down another long narrow corridor, leaving the rest of the team lagging behind. He was quite eager to leave the place as quickly as possible, after all he didn't want to stay in the germ infested zone longer then he had too.
Winter was on its way and it seemed that almost everyone was plagued with the common cold. A cold was nothing serious, just uncomfortable and mildly irritating, but the billionaire was determined to avoid it.
Each time someone sick passed by him he wrinkled his nose in disgust and turned his head the other way. It seemed like an eternity had passed before the group had finally set foot out of headquarters and finally boarded a jet back to the tower. The moment the doors closed for take-off Stark plucked a small bottle of hand sanitizer from his jacket pocket and squirted a generous amount into the palm of his hands before rubbing them together vigorously.
'Ughhh I feel so dirty!' he whined, shaking the excess gel from his hands.
'What's the matter, don't like interacting with us common folk?' Steve joked, taking a seat by the window.
'I swear that place has the plague! We are not going back there again; ever!' he proclaimed, sitting down in the last empty seat next to Bruce he shrugged off his jacket, 'when we get back, I'm burning all my clothes.'
'Friend Stark, what is this plague you speak of?' Thor's loud voice echoed in the small space, everyone grimaced, resisting the urge to cover their ears, 'everyone appeared to be in fine spirits!'
'You're joking right?' Tony looked at the demi god incredulously, 'Don't tell me you didn't hear everyone practically dying in there!' he exclaimed. 'I swear I heard one guy coughing up a lung!'
'Didn't have you down as a germaphobe' the physicist beside him smiled briefly before turning his attention back to the science magazine in his hands.
'I am not a –'
Suddenly the sound of a loud sneeze pierced the air, Tony jumped in surprise becoming wide eyed and alert. He ducked in his seat and reached into his pocket again for the sanitizer bottle when a loud laugh caught his attention. He looked up to see Clint Barton lounging over the back of the seat in front of him, cackling with laughter, only then did the playboy realise that it was a fake sneeze he had heard. He growled angrily when he caught sight of a smiling Romanov beside the archer; barley able to contain her own amusement.
'Oh real funny Barton,' Tony snapped, crossing his arms stubbornly he kicked the back of the assassins seat in a childish huff.
'What's the matter Stark, scared of a few little germs?' Clint wheezed between laughs.
'Only when its bird flu!' he hissed, glaring daggers at the archer, who only proceeded to laugh even harder.
Eventually Clint's laughter slowly died down, he breathed deeply for a moment before wiping a tear from his eye.
'You humans are most amusing when you jest!' Thor's laughed, twirling Mjolna in one hand.
'Pansy,' the assassin teased and began fake coughing dramatically.
'Shut up bird brain,' Stark grumbled, swatting a hand at the archers head.
'Whoa! Don't get too close, you might get infected!'
'I swear Barton, I will stick one of your arrows so far up your as-'
'Stark!' Steve scolded.
The genius gave Clint the middle finger before sighing in annoyance.
'Children, play nicely…' Bruce looked up over the rim of his glasses; although he looked stern there was a hint of amusement visible on his face.
Tony shifted in his seat to face Bruce before pulling out his Stark phone, the genius began tapping away with quick, nimble fingers, 'I build you all your own apartments and this is how you repay me.'
'I mean them-' Stark gestured towards the two shield agents, demi god and blonde super soldier, 'I understand, but you!' he pointed at Bruce, 'are supposed to be on my side!'
The physicist met the billionaires pouting look with an amused smile.
'Well I was, until there was an incident with my wardrobe last week.'
'I have no idea what you're talking about…'
'Really? All my clothes were replaced with green ones, and that had nothing to do with you?' Banner raised an eyebrow at his lab partner in disbelief.
'Didn't hear you complaining when I brought you that green shirt yesterday,' the philanthropist retorted.
'How come you never buy us clothes?' the archer asked sulkily.
'Because you guys are assholes,' he muttered.
'Better believe it princess,' Clint smirked, ruffling the billionaire's hair, Tony slapped his hands away.
'We'll see who the real princess is when I show everyone that photo…' the genius smirked.
'You wouldn't,' Barton paled, edging forward on his seat, knowing exactly which photo the man was referring too.
'Jarvis, ready the photo if you would…'
'Of course sir,' the AI's voice sounded from Tony's Stark phone, 'am I to assume you are referring to the photograph of agent Barton wearing women's clothi-'
'Shut up!' Clint yelled, flapping his arms around.
'What on earth are you talking about?' Steve raised a brow in confusion.
'Something you want to tell us Clint?' Bruce smiled slyly, amused as the archer became flustered.
'I was drunk and it was one time!'
'I am must curious to hear this tale!' the Asgardian bellowed.
'Oh god...' Natasha groaned, rubbing her hand with one hand.
'Would you like me to project the image sir?' Jarvis enquired.
Clint dived over his chair and made a grab for the phone, only to miss and dive head first into Tony's lap. They both wriggled and wrestled in the small space and soon the previous conversation was completely forgotten.
It was nearly 4am before Tony reluctantly retired to bed for the evening. He'd spent a large part of the afternoon alternating between tinkering with his suit and drinking like a fish. Bruce had thrown the towel in many hours earlier, leaving him to work alone until the early hours of the morning. It was only when the billionaire's vision began to blur and he started seeing double that he finally gave in to the need for sleep. He was unsure whether the effects were from fatigue or alcohol but he knew it would be better to throw in the towel before he had an accident, after all he'd come close to burning off his eyebrows with a blow torch.
He shut down the lab and slowly plodded down the large hallway and into the spacious elevator. When he finally reached his room he quickly discarded his shirt and pants on the floor, leaving him in just his black boxer shorts.
He climbed into his luxurious king sized bed with a sigh. The sheets were pleasantly soft and the pillows plump, but no matter how hard he tried Tony could not get comfortable. There was one thing missing from the bed that was keeping him awake at present.
The cold, empty spot beside him was a painful reminder that he would be sleeping alone for the next few nights. He hated it when the strawberry blonde was away on business; time seemed to go much slower in her absence. He'd grown so accustomed to sharing such intimacy with her that he found it embarrassingly difficult to sleep without her. One of the few things that allowed him to drift off into unconsciousness without being plagued by nightmares was Peppers presence alone; the feeling of her warm body pressed against his own was like a strong shield which allowed him to feel safe and comfortable.
Tony rolled over and let out a huff, as much as he craved the feeling of her soft, dainty fingers running through his hair he knew that no amount of wishful thinking would make the CEO magically appear beside him. The genius lay still for what felt like hours until eventually he began to drift off.
Just as he began to doze the playboy was aware of a prickly sensation in his throat. He tried to cough it away and felt a slight heaviness in his chest. Probably the alcohol he mused, he had no doubt he would be suffering from a hangover of sorts in the morning. He closed his eyes and drifted into an uncomfortable sleep.
When Tony Stark awoke the next morning he felt truly awful.
The moment he opened his eyes he was greeted with the unwelcoming sensation of a pounding headache. Tony had been the victim to many hangovers in his life and could honestly say that this was the worse one yet. It felt like any other aftermath of a nights drinking but with a much sharper edge and dull throb that seemed to constantly hack away at his brain. It felt like he was being punished.
The morning sunlight that poured through the windows temporarily blinded him and made his head ache unbearably. Stark rested an arm over his face to shield his delicate eyes from the light as he lay awake in bed, groaning at the aching feeling in his body. The sound of Jarvis's voice echoing loudly in the room only succeeded in reminding him just how delicate his ears were.
'Good morning sir, it currently 11am and the temperature is-'
'Mute,' he muttered tiredly, he stood from his bed and stretched out; groaning as his shoulders popped.
Boy did he feel rough.
Eventually he dragged himself over to the spacious, on suite shower attached to his apartment, where he stood under the hot cascade of water for several long minutes. When he towelled himself dry he padded over to the mirror and began running his fingers through his short hair in the mirror. He winced as he observed his complexion, he appeared slightly paler than usual and there was a certain unhealthy look about the dark smudges that rested under his eyes.
He needed a kick start to the day to get him back on his feet.
He dressed quickly, throwing on a random shirt and pair of jeans before heading towards the communal kitchen. The first thing he did when he sat down was swipe a large mug of coffee from the counter in an attempt to rid himself of the horrible feeling he was experiencing. He slumped onto the nearest kitchen stool with a sigh and rested his head in his hands.
He took a large gulp and couldn't help but be a little disappointed when the caffeine did nothing to alleviate the itchiness in his throat.
'Good morning sleeping beauty.'
The sound of Bruce's cheery voice caused him to groan pitifully; he lifted his head and squinted at the scientist, who was currently flicking through the morning paper idly, before resuming staring at the table wearily.
'Wow you look like shit.'
Before the billionaire could answer the archer with a witty response, his ear drums were almost shattered with Thor's presence.
'Good morning friends!'
Everyone responded with a mumble or mutter, except Tony who only clutched his head between his hands and whimpered pathetically.
'... little quiet please,' the playboy rasped quietly.
All heads turned in his direction.
'Are you ok?' Bruce was eyeing the billionaire with a subtle look of concern, his eyebrows furrowed slightly as he analysed his drowsy appearance. Stark quickly waved off his unease.
'Couldn't be better,' he put on a fake smile before quickly downing the rest of his coffee. Steve pushed a large stack of waffles in front of him but he pushed them away instantly, food was this last thing on his mind right now.
'You're not going to eat?' Steve asked, raising a brow as the plate was pushed away.
'I'm on a diet,' Stark waved off his comment, yawning loudly.
'Does this new diet consist of large consumptions of alcohol?' Natasha smirked knowingly, analysing his body language perfectly.
'No idea what you're talking about…'
He sat at the table for a moment longer, listening to the conversation around him; however having no desire to join in he pushed himself quickly to his feet, ignoring the stares aimed at him.
'I got stuff to work on,' he murmured, swiftly exiting the room.
He proceeded down to the lab to begin modifying the thrusters on his suit in an attempt to take his mind off the lethargy he was feeling but it did not provide a great distraction. His brain seemed to be functioning slower than normal, he could calculate the math correctly, but he found himself staring into space every few minutes; it was as if his head was filled with cotton wool.
Eventually he gave up, and threw a screwdriver to the floor in frustration. The slight tickle in his throat had increased to a burning sensation and no matter how hard he tried he couldn't concentrate on anything.
The threat of illness lingered in his mind.
He wasn't sick was he?
He couldn't be sick, after all he was Iron Man; one of earth's mightiest superheroes. Although he knew he was just probably paranoid the thought still lingered. Still he took some vitamins and painkillers, just to be safe.
Throughout the rest of the day he began to feel slowly worse, his throat became so sore it was difficult to speak and his nose felt stuffy, by mid-afternoon he was so tired he could barely keep his eyes open. He sat in his lab, reclined in an office chair with his eyes shut in an attempt to stop the pounding in his head. He was so out of it that he didn't hear the approach of oncoming footsteps, so he was surprised when felt someone touching his forehead.
The unexpected noise and the feeling of cold fingers touching his skin made him jump.
'Wah?' he bolted upright, only to smack his head on something hard.
'Ow! What the-?'
He rubbed his eyes sleepily and blinked owlishly, rubbing his bruising head, only to see a curly haired figure stood above him doing the same thing. The glasses on the man and the purple button up shirt identified him as none other than Bruce Banner.
'Not gonna hulk out on me are you?' he joked lightly, his voice slightly husky; he smiled as he watched the man rub his head vigorously.
'Maybe, if you keep head butting me,' he muttered, giving the billionaire a pointed look, he continued rubbing his forehead. 'Oh god, why is your head so hard?' he moaned.
'coz its full of knowledge,' he smirked cockily.
'Well apparently knowledge hurts,' he groaned, stepping back the doctor leaned against the desk behind him, crossing his arms. He couldn't help but smile at Starks come back despite the pain he was in.
'Your fault for having cold fingers,' Stark huffed, wheezing slightly.
'I'm sorry that the temperature of my fingers doesn't meet your expectations,' Banner said sarcastically.
'Good, you should be,' Tony snorted, sitting up from his chair and groaned as he stretched out his back. 'Why were you touching me anyway?' Stark raised a brow, 'can't resist me huh?' he grinned, winking at the doctor.
Banner rolled his eyes in response.
'I know I'm completely irresistible.'
'Don't flatter yourself, I was checking your temperature; you look a little flushed,' Bruce eyed the genius with a hard stare, as if analysing him.
'Probably the light…'
'Catching forty winks were we?'
'I wasn't sleeping I was thinking,' he crossed his arms defensively.
'Oh really, thinking with your eyes closed?'
'Yeah it's this new thing, only genius's do, you should try it sometime.'
Bruce shook his head in disbelief.
'Right, well when you're finished "thinking",' Bruce uttered sarcastically, 'you should come and get some pizza before Thor eats it all, I think he was on his second box when I came down here…'
'I'll be up later, I got stuff to work on,' Tony grabbed a spanner from the table in front of him and wandered forwards a few steps before Bruce plucked it from his grip.
'Tony, you've been down here for hours, you can finish this tomorrow.'
'Tony you need to eat.'
'I will, right after I finish this…'
Bruce crossed his arms before giving the billionaire a pointed look.
'Ughh fine' Stark sighed, giving in to the man's concern.
'But I swear if-' Tony's retort was cut short as he broke into a short coughing fit; Bruce eyed the man with concern.
'Couldn't be better,' He coughed again, clearing his throat, 'probably the dust, let's go' he rasped, heading for the private elevator.
The doctor followed closely behind, Tony pretended he hadn't seen the man eyeing him with concern.
Stark reassured himself it was probably just dust aggravating his throat. He coughed again into his hand, grimacing at the burning in his throat; a little cough was nothing to worry about.
Or so he thought.