In retrospect, he should have seen it coming. Everyone else did. Fuck, even Thor saw it coming though strike that, it's possible he didn't. Midgardian courtship still confuses the guy.
All Tony knows is that when Pepper walks out on him -- but not out of his life, thank a non-existent god for that -- no one is surprised except him.
"I can't do this, Tony."
He can't even blame her because looking back he can see how it was wearing her down, a permanent worry in her eyes and the fear etched across her knuckles every time he goes out to fight. He's never felt more sure and he never saw Pepper more on edge. He's an Avenger and it gives him what nothing else can.
It hurts though, there's no denying that, the glass-shard smashing of his heart that he's unable to fix.
She's happy with Happy and isn't that a laugh and a half. It's funnier with his three closest friends: Misters Whiskey, Bourbon, and Gin.
The ebb and flow of his days don't really change, too little sleep, too little food, and more coffee and alcohol than the human system is meant to handle for long.
Time is a dimension. Tony doesn't believe in the linear model. It's too simple and too human. The mathematics are more beautiful the other ways.
"Tony," she says in that too-familiar voice, like he's five or ninety-five, he's not sure which and he hates that, hates both options, helpless and hopeless in either. "Tony, you have to eat something."
He waves a glass at her. Behind him he can hear Dummy whir to life at the familiar motion and start the blender.
"A smoothie doesn't count. When was the last time you had something solid?"
He waves a hand, empty this time. She took his glass away.
There's that frown again and the lines between her eyes, vertical eyebrows she used to call them, laughing at pain like she always does. He reaches up to rub them away like he used to and drops his hand before it reaches her face, accidentally brushing against her front as it falls. "Sorry," he mutters. "So sorry."
"When did you last sleep?"
"Tomorrow." Tony blinks at her confusion. Pepper wears mascara so that her eyelashes show up, a fine spray of delicate red hairs. There are brown-black smudges on her cheeks. Not as waterproof as advertised. He could do better.
"I'm going to get Steve."
Who is Steve? Oh, Rogers, he should have known. Mr. Righteous, so perfect that even his ex-girlfriend goes to him for help.
Time can't heal anything because it doesn't have a medical degree.
Something large and warm and living wedges itself under his shoulders and then another of the same beneath his knees. Later he'll be embarrassed at having been carried to bed by Captain America, but right now he just lets himself float.
He hears "Don't be too hard on him." and the low rumble of a baritone voice under his ear saying something he doesn't catch. He doesn't remember anything after that.
He wakes in the morning, nearly noon, the abstract concept of measuring time about to put the lie to the morning after, to a neat line of aspirin capsules and a tall, cool glass of water like an question.