Ever since the break-up, Tony had been down-right depressed, and no one seemed to notice. Pepper Potts had broken up with him after she figured out that he was the cause of the Avengers fighting so much. At least, that’s what everyone told him. He didn’t want to believe that he was the reason that this mess was happening. He didn’t want to believe that this was his fault.
It wasn’t, was it?
He had thought that the Avengers would agree that everyone was at fault this time. That the tension had been building and they had all forgotten that they had a way to diffuse the tension so things like this didn’t happen. That didn’t turn out to be the case. They all put the blame on him. Maybe it was because it seemed like he could take anything, like he could simply take the blame for the fight, and everyone else would be able to get back to their everyday lives.
Tony didn’t blame them, in fact, he agreed with them. Sure, he felt completely alone, especially since Pepper had left just as everyone turned the blame on him, but he was going to hold on. That’s what he told himself. No one would hold him back anymore, and he could be the amazing Tony Stark he was meant to be. But… perhaps that was it, he felt lonely. He no longer felt like he belonged, he felt like he was a foreigner in his own home.
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Tony walked into the kitchen, bags under his eyes and hands trembling, attempting to keep himself from going into a full-blown panic attack. It had been weeks, maybe even months, since he had slept properly and not had multiple panic attacks in a single day. Upon entering the kitchen, Tony saw Bruce Banner already brewing a fresh pot of coffee. Tony stood silently, looking away from Bruce as Bruce shuffled around, looking in the fridge and cabinets, looking for a small snack to eat.
Maybe it was muscle memory or a familiar situation, but Tony moved to a certain cabinet, opening it to find dried banana chips, a favorite of both Bruce’s and the Hulk’s. He silently handed the dried fruit over to Bruce before sitting on a stool at the island, his hands still shaking. It had been so long since Tony had a positive interaction with anyone. Even Rhodey was full of fire and yelling at Tony. The only person who Tony could trust was JARVIS, and he was an AI.
“Thank you,” Bruce mumbled as he opened the bag, reaching in a hand to pick out a few pieces of the fruit. He started eating them, his eyes switching between the coffee pot and Tony, who had been completely silent since entering the kitchen. The man was usually talkative and hyper, even at this time of night, yet the man in front of him didn’t even seem to resemble the man Bruce knew. What had happened in the weeks that Bruce and the Avengers didn’t interact with Tony?
Suddenly, the light in the hall turned on and Steve Rogers entered the kitchen, Bucky Barnes clutching to his side. It was clear they both had a nightmare. Tony had memorized everyone’s habits by now. If only one of them had a nightmare, they would stay in bed and cuddle, waiting it out until dawn. If they both happened to have a nightmare, they’d come to the kitchen to have a cup of coffee and a small snack, knowing that the science bros would be out there. Tony nearly winced at thinking of himself and Bruce as the science bros. They weren’t that anymore. Everyone hated Tony, now.
“Bucky? Steve? What’s wrong?” Bruce asked as he saw the two sit down on two of the empty stools, a few empty stools between where Tony say and where Steve was, separating Bucky from him, protectively. Tony frowned. For the genius that Bruce was, he had a hard time understanding certain habits of certain people. Tony always seemed to understand people, though, it was his thing.
“They both had a nightmare. They only ever come out here in the middle of the night if they both have nightmares. They can’t stand darkness if they both have a nightmare,” Tony pointed, his voice rough and scratchy from not using it in so long. He had just communicated with JARVIS on a tablet, meaning he didn’t really have any use for his voice. Steve and Bucky both looked at Tony, surprised, although Tony didn’t see that because his head was down, trying to make himself see as small as possible.
“Tony’s right. Why are you here, Bruce?” Steve asked, keeping his voice quiet so as not to disturb Bucky, who was curling against Steve and staring at nothing, a certain haunting look in his eyes that was only seen when he was bordering on entering Winter Soldier mode.
“Bruce only comes here when he’s close to a break through, but he can’t find the last piece he needs to finish whatever he’s working on. Coffee usually helps to clear his head,” Tony mumbled again, standing up and moving to the just finished coffee pot. He grabbed a green, blue, and gray mug, filling them all with coffee. Bruce’s, the green one, he left black, handing it straight to the surprised man. In Steve’s, the blue one, he added lots of sugar and cream. He then prepared Bucky’s, the gray one, and put only a little bit of cream but lots of sugar into it. He handed the cups to Steve and Bucky, before he reached into the cabinet for his favorite red cup, taking it out and calmly pouring coffee into it, adding a lot of cream and just as much sugar. Tony didn’t care how the coffee was, he liked it no matter what, but recently he had been adding a lot of sugar and cream, hoping it’d help keep him awake for longer periods of time. Tony took his cup and made his way to the elevator, moving to make his way back down to the workshop. He needed to get a head start on that prototype for Fury, and it was going to take him longer than usual to complete it.
“That doesn’t seem like the Tony we know,” Steve pointed out as the elevator door closed, exchanging glances with Bucky and Bruce. Bruce shrugged and turned to go back down the hall leading to his room. Steve watched the doctor leave in shock, not knowing that his friend thought so little of Tony.
“Does he really not act like that?” Bucky questioned, head tilting in interest. Steve shook his head, a frown coming on his face as his eyes watched the elevator door, a thoughtful expression on his face.
“No, Tony’s much more lively than that . . . “ Steve trailed off.