When Steve Rogers goes down no one knows what to do.
They finish the fight, barely able to register was has happened; convinced he’s just unconscious, injured but nothing more. Because it’s Steve, it’s Captain America, the Super Soldier. He survived 70 years in the ice, what could beat that?
But it’s done, and it was over so quickly there was nothing anyone could do.
The press conference is held by a stony faced Nick Fury, a professional at keeping his composure. After the announcement it’s a media frenzy of mournful news reports, special bulletins, tabloid sensations showing the rest of the Avengers looking confused and disorganised, struggling to avoid reporters and cameras.
Bruce is the first to break in front of them, always the worst at dealing with the press, shutting himself up in the lab afterwards and emerging only when needed. Natasha disappears completely; whether hiding in her room or having escaped the city completely no one knows, if Clint knows he doesn’t share, he’s too deep in his own thoughts. No one knows how to contact Thor to tell him, so he just doesn’t know.
Only Tony is running as normal, still going into work, running meetings. Even with Pepper shooting him concerned glances, trying to suggest he takes some time off. Tony won’t hear it, too much work, too much to do. No sign that he’s struggling, even the alcohol is within the average, staying up all night working on projects is nothing new.
He ignores the crowds outside the Avengers tower as he moves from car to building. The masses are one part reporters and two parts mourning citizens, leaving flowers, cards, photos, toys in an improvised shrine on the side of the building. The first time Clint sees it he almost lets the mask slip, but is ushered inside before the cameras get a shot.
They’re permitted their privacy, at least until the funeral.
It’s a military affair, Steve’s time in the army still respected. He’s hailed as a hero, the first Avenger who died making the world a better place. No hymns, no personal touches. Natasha returns for it, but says nothing about where she’s been.
None of the remaining team speak at the service, and even if they’d wanted to they would have been denied. They have one job, they need to be strong, a united front, and save the tears for when they were back in the safety of their rooms. They struggle with this brief, all of them except Tony, who seems made for funeral chatter, seemingly unphased by any of it.
Clint is angered by the display, only Natasha’s hand on his arm stops him from saying something. Pepper looks apologetic on behalf of Tony. It’s a mess and only the location stops it all going wrong. Because how could Tony Stark not care?
As they stand, huddled under umbrellas in the rain like something out of a movie, Tony says one thing, an aside that only Bruce hears. “He would have hated all this.” Bruce stands a little closer after that.
A few days later Tony disappears, doesn’t show up at work, cancels his meetings. Even with Pepper calling him, trying to get him to tell her where he is. Tony won’t hear of it. Now the ceremony is done, he isn’t needed now. He can grieve for his friend.
Because if Tony Stark is going to break, he needs to do it alone.
And that’s exactly what he does.