“Mr. Stark, Mr. Rogers’ vitals are elevated again.”
Tony sighed. He had been hearing this message repeated to him every night for the past two weeks. “I’ve already told you, JARVIS, that we do not pry into what other people do in their bedroom at night. ”
“I am capable of more than monitoring vitals, and Mr. Rogers should not be experiencing tachycardia and hyperventilation for over three hours. My protocols suggest that such physiological symptoms are indicators of something more than a…pleasant dream or even an unpleasant one.”
“Show me his room.”
Video surveillance flashed before Tony, but the room was empty and in a state of uncharacteristic disorder. Tony glanced at the time-stamp and was surprised to see that it was already six in the morning. Even if Steve had woken early, he would have never left his bed unmade or had, what appeared to be, a pillow fight with a broken lamp and overturned chair.
A sense of dread settled in Tony’s stomach as he noticed the strange streaks of pink covering the sheet. Tony was already on his feet when he asked, “Where is he?”
“He is in the bathroom, sir. He has remained there for the last two hours, eight minutes, and 29 seconds.” Damn Pepper and her campaign against voyeurism, and in his own house!
The scent of copper overwhelmed Tony as he walked into the room. He covered his mouth for a moment, inhaling once for fresh air and twice to center himself against the fear pooling in his chest. He began to walk towards the bathroom, careful to maneuver around a sketchbook that had somehow been knocked from the end table to the other side of the room.
When Tony reached the bathroom door, he could just make out the rapid pants for air coming from the other side. “Hey Cap, you alright in there?” Tony said softly.
He heard a shaky intake of breath, and then a low, whispered answer, “Yeah, Tony.”
His exhale sounded like the edge of panic, and Tony wasn’t sure whether he was more disturbed by the sound or that Steve had finally called him by his first name.
“You’re terrible at telling lies, and I’m terrible at controlling my impulses, so I’m going to come in now. Okay?”
Tony waited a beat, both men at an impasse of silence, before he turned the handle and opened the door.
The light was off and only the early morning sunlight streamed through, highlighting all the new shades of red Tony had most certainly not approved for this bathroom: the abstract rust design on the wall across from him, a smudged handprint on the porcelain white of his new sink fixtures, and Steve’s eyes, distressed and red-rimmed.
He was on the ground, back propped gingerly against the cabinet, and Tony had to hold on to the doorframe for support as his eyes traveled from Steve to the single, white feather floating downward, its hollow at least ten inches long.
“I’m sorry about the mess. I’ll clean it up,” Steve said softly before he lost the battle to stay conscious, slumping further down the cabinet and leaving a streak of red behind him, centered between the two enormous wings emerging from his back.