It’s getting harder and harder to take the suit off.
Inside the suit, Tony knows who he is. He’s Iron Man, a super hero, protector of New York, member of the Avengers. His one job, his only job, is to fight. It’s so simple.
Outside of the suit, everything is more complicated. Now, he’s Tony Stark, billionaire philanthropist genius alcoholic and so much more. Words don’t fit him. They swirl around him and slide off him. Undeserved. For him, it’s complicated. Not like the others.
Steve Rodgers is the original hero, and a flag-waving pie-eating patriot. He bleeds love and farts puppies. The epitome of do-no-wrong.
Thor is a god, a real god, and a king, now. He’s a good man, too, and loveable, and strong. And even though he’s a little angry and obtuse, he could never be confused for evil. Never.
Bruce Banner is the nicest person Tony has ever met, and even the haunting look of guilt Tony sometimes catches in his eyes betrays his humanity. It’s almost sickening how much he cares. Too damn human for this job.
And then there’s Clint Barton and Natasha Romanov. Admittedly, he knows less about them. But they’ve never done anything to make him think they’re less than trustworthy. They’re spies, but they’re also part of the team. And they’re on top of everything. Unsinkable.
But Tony Stark? Tony doesn’t know where he belongs in all that. Because he’s not a good person. And nobody seems to be willing to face that.
Nobody but him.
So every few months, when it gets to him, he takes a vacation. He leaves a few notes, sends Pepper an email, and just goes. He doesn’t say where. They know how to contact him.
He finds himself somewhere cold. European, maybe. Not Russia, but could be Finland, or Norway, or Sweden. He’s stopped paying attention.
He doesn’t usually go for cold, but that just means he’ll be harder to find. They’ll look for him on beaches. Not here.
He doesn’t drink, for once. There’s no point to it. Drinking just drowns out the angry screaming, and he came here to listen to it for a while. To feel like shit for a while. Because that’s what he needs. He’s afraid if he ever ignores it for too long, he’ll go back to the way he was. It would be so easy to go back to the way he was.
Every night, he sits on a rooftop in a heavy coat and watches the snow fall. In another life it would be so pretty.