The circuitry blurred and Tony leaned closer. At this point his nose was almost pressed directly against it. It did nothing to help his vision and he cursed, jamming his hand welder back onto its stand, and then madly rubbing at his eyes.
Tony didn’t get sick. It wasn’t allowed, as decreed by himself. At the faintest sign of illness he loaded himself with remedies and preventatives. But he wasn’t sick, he had allergies, newly developed allergies kicking his ass.
For what felt like the millionth time Tony tipped his head back, pulled his bottom lid down, and squeezed a couple beads of allergy relief drops into his eyes. They cooled the burning and then rolled down his cheeks, getting caught in his stubble. He rubbed them away and was about to return to his work when he felt the tell tale tingling in his nose. An explosive sneeze sent his body in an inelegant flail.
“Fucking jesus.” Tony let his head thud down against his work table. He had work to do. He always had work to do. Which is exactly why this shit was not allowed. He reached down the table, blindly grasping around until he found the bottle he was looking for. The pills rattled sweetly as he pulled it towards him.
A hand landed on his own, stopping it, and he groaned long and miserable like a petulant child.
“How many have you had and how long ago?” Steve’s voice was the combination of stern and affectionate it took on when Tony was being “obstinate” or “self-negligent”.
“Two, four hours ago.” Tony replied nasally.
“Six, thirty minutes ago, Captain.”
Tony wasn’t surprised Jarvis betrayed him. He always told Steve the truth unless explicitly and specifically directed otherwise, and even then he found a way around it 90% of the time. He could hear Steve’s exasperated eye roll that unquestionably accompanied his sigh. “Alright, knucklehead. I’m calling Code Kissing the Choo Choo.”
Tony groaned and leaned away from Steve, pulling uselessly at the hand the other man had trapped in his own. “Nooooo. Nat needs her suit upgrade! It’s got a weakness to acid! What if the acid spitting spiders come back?”
“Nope. Terms of Code Kissing the Choo Choo can’t be violated. If either of us deems the other as pushed to the limit and compromising themselves, we have the right to intervention. We shook on it.” Steve didn’t wait for Tony’s undoubtable repeated refusal. He slid an arm around the smaller man’s waist and moved to scoop him up. Tony knew what was coming and went dead weight in a last ditch attempt. Of course it was pointless, and Steve easily threw him over his shoulder like a sack of flour.
“I’m telling Pepper.”
“What? That I stopped you from overdosing on allergy medication, and I’m forcing you to rest before you keel over?”
The floor slid beneath him as Steve began his way out of the workshop to the elevator. Tony stayed limp, and grumbled, “yes.” He could feel the rumble in Steve’s chest against his thighs when the other man chuckled.
“You do know it’s just allergies, right? I’m not going to die, or even need hospitalization. The idea is preposterous. You know who could die though? Natasha. Which is why I really-”
“Tony?” Steve shifted and Tony could hear him opening a door, probably to their suite. “Shut up.” The door clicked behind them and Tony sighed. He would have to let Steve play his beloved role of mother hen. The man’s mind was set. Tony could sneak off after Steve thought he was asleep.
Steve used the dimmer switch in the bathroom to turn the lights on low, and finally set Tony on his feet. He left his arms circled around him and brushed a kiss against his forehead. “You gonna let me take care of my fella now?”
The small show of affection had the desired effect on Tony. He tried to act nonchalant.“Yeah, yeah. Go for it.” But he was relaxed against Steve’s solid mass. What could he say? Steve was like heroin.
Steve shuffled them closer to the tub. Even though he could have Jarvis start up the jets, he liked to do it himself, and he fiddled one handed with the knobs to the hot tub sized bath, getting the temperature just right and adding some scented oils.
Now that he’d conceded defeat, even if just for a bit, Tony took the time to mentally file all of his projects away. Without all of them at the front of his mind he was able to focus on the here and now; the sound of rushing water, the heat of Steve’s body against his own, the combined scents of lavender and peppermint. And huh, yeah, he did feel really shitty, and his head definitely wasn’t supposed to feel like a bowling ball. He sagged, leaning more of his weight on Steve, who bless his heart, didn’t utter the ‘I told you so’ he deserved to.
“Alright, doll. Can’t be getting in with your clothes on.” Steve murmured, his voice lilting with the Brooklyn drawl it sometimes took on. His hands moved fluidly to both support Tony and slip his shirt over his head. The only help Tony offered was stepping out of his pants.
When Steve scooped him up bridal style Tony emitted a squawk of indignation, which was ignored, and then he didn’t really care because he was being carefully lowered into sudsy, bubbly, hot, scented bath water.
The effect was instantaneous. Tension drained from his muscles, and the oils cleared his nasal passages, allowing him open and clear deep breaths. Even his head felt a little lighter.
“Mmm. Airways feel minty and crisp.” Tony let his head roll to the side to gaze at Steve through heavily lidded eyes. “Can airways feel minty?”
Steve smirked and sat on the edge of the tub. “Sure can.”
“You could sure get in here with me.”
“Sure could. Sure won’t. Sex isn’t on my, or any, list of prescribed allergy remedies.”
Tony huffed, “it’s on mine.” but didn’t push the issue. The outcome would be a stalemate anyways. One of Steve’s large, capable hands worked its way through Tony’s hair, combing it and scratching his scalp. The touches were exceedingly gentle, and the last of Tony’s thoughts of resistance disintegrated.
Eyes closed now, Tony struggled to stay awake. He should never have let himself be lulled into such relaxation. It allowed everything to catch up. The running nose, watering eyes, itching throat, and a head full of cotton built on days of little to no sleep or food was too much to contend with. His plans of giving Steve the slip were mere whispers now, and he drifted closer to sleep.
The last words he heard before he drifted off were Steve’s gentle, “rest, Tony. I’ve got you.”