“You think you’re man enough to judge someone who’s given blood, sweat and tears for this city?” Steve keeps cold, steely blue eyes on the reporter. “Come up here and say what you just said again, right to my face. Or better yet, pour your own blood, sweat and tears out there, and then come tell me the same thing.”
“I’m not judging,” the man shakes his head. “I’m just curious as to why you’d let a man– who’s got more blood on his hands than the rest of us in here put together, let’s be honest– why you’d let him join the rest of you heroes in protecting the world. Tony Stark is hardly the first person that comes to mind when you say ‘hero’–”
“He’s the first person that comes to mine,” Steve snaps. The rest of the conference room is silent and tense, and Tony’s heart is beating so fast, they can all probably hear it.
“No offense to you, Captain,” the reporter says. “But can you honestly sit here and tell me you’d entrust your life to a warmonger—“
“Get out,” Steve growls, and stands up so fast, his chair goes toppling backwards. “Now.”
“Steve,” Tony reaches over to grip his arm, but almost flinches at the wild, dangerous look in those baby blues when the blond turns to look at him.
“I’m not–” he takes a breath, shoulders heaving. “I will not sit here and listen to… Avengers!” he calls out, the words clipped and tight, and still louder than the chaos that’s suddenly breaking out across the room. “We’re done here.”
“Rogers, damn it,” Tony hisses, but doesn’t pull away from Steve’s hand on the small of his back as they get up and all but run off the platform. “Cap, calm down–”
“I can’t–” Steve mutters, and almost staggers into the empty hallway leading out of the building. “God, I hate this so much.”
“Why can’t they see how much you do?” Steve’s voice breaks with so much rage and heartbreak, it almost brings Tony to tears. “Why is your worth even a question?”
“Come on, Steve,” Tony chuckles bitterly. “You really have to ask?”
“Don’t do that.”
“Talk like you believe them,” Steve says quietly. “Like they have any right to say those things about you.”
“To each their own, Cap,” Tony shrugs. “Can’t force ‘em to go along with anything.”
“But this– all these… attacks, and insults,” Steve shakes his head. “It’s disgusting.”
The silence is just a little more calm this time, but there’s no mistaking the tense line of Steve’s body.
“You can’t…” Tony looks down. “You can’t fight everyone that has shit to say about me.”
Steve doesn’t even flinch. “Watch me,” he says, and just like that, he’s Captain America, all squared shoulders and defiant eyes.
“My hero,” Tony mutters, but then Steve’s softens, and when he pulls him to his side, arm settled comfortably around Tony’s shoulders, both of them are almost smiling.
“Back atcha, Shellhead.”