A door slams and Tony leans his head out of the doorway of the kitchen to investigate but is met with an empty hallway. It isn't tough to deduce who it had been though-the rest of the team other than Thor who is visiting Asgard is sitting in the kitchen eating or watching people eat with a stare that shouldn't be possible on a human face(Clint). He pulls himself back into the kitchen to look around at the faces of the others in the hopes they would have some sort of idea what could have caused Captain America to slam doors this time. Normally it's something like reporters insinuating that he should believe a certain thing, subscribe to a set of morals because of the time he'd grown up in but TMZ had been thankfully void of Steve appearances.
“What spangled his stars?” Clint's eyebrow raises though he doesn't stop eyeing Bruce as he eats like he's watching a very riveting archery competition. Tony doesn't pretend to understand why he does anything.
“No idea. Broke his phone?”
Natasha's eyes roll but she doesn't correct him despite probably knowing exactly why Cap had been imitating a teenaged girl just a few moments ago. Tony has given up wondering where she gets her apparently bottomless well of information and chalks it all up to being a spy. He'll hack the SHIELD databases later because a door slam could also be attributed to SHIELD shenanigans considering how their ways of dealing with Cap had always edged on the stupid. Then again, he had proven he could escape their evil clutches once so that eliminated most of the not incredibly idiotic ways of how to train your super soldier.
“Not going to go after him?” Bruce asks calmly in spite of the wholly annoying way Barton is staring at him.
“I'm not wearing the suit, are you kidding me? I could die. Have you seen the punching bags after he gets through them? Seriously.”
“You're not fooling anyone, Stark,” Clint smirks as he leans further across the table and really, if it's death he wants to court he can do it somewhere other than the tower.
“If you don't stop staring at Bruce I'm going to get jealous. He's my bro, I already called dibs,” he slings his arm around Banner's shoulders. It'd taken awhile for him to get used to Tony just touching him all the time, Tony knows, because he'd flinched every time for the first few weeks after the Chituari invasion however there's no hint of that now.
He shakes his head and looks up with a smile, a spot of jam beside his mouth where he'd probably missed it while being engrossed in science articles in the paper in front of him and maybe that's what Barton's been staring at the entire time. “I don't mind sharing if you don't.”
“I'm hurt and saddened by this, Banner, I hope you know. So sad I'm going to the workshop now,” he backs up and sure, he isn't fooling anyone but he can act like he is.
“Yeah, right. Have fun untwisting Cap's panties, Stark.”
“Shut up, Barton or you'll never see that missile firing armband I'm making you,” Tony gives him the finger as he goes-childish but then, he's dealing with a child.
“I'll believe that thing exists when I see it.”
“I ain't sayin' he's a gold digger,” Natasha comments over her coffee cup.
“But I ain't messin' with no broke Starks.”
Tony wonders not for the first time why he'd thought living with these people had been a good idea because they're clearly all batshit insane. Doesn't matter right now; Steve is slamming doors and probably beating punching bags within inches of their sandy lives and it's Tony's job, no, responsibility to figure out exactly why.
Steve isn't the type to act out when he's pissed off-at least not where people can see it. Oh there's always casualties-punching bags, sometimes cups, Tony's good mood-but he waits until no one is around then looks immensely guilty when someone discovers him sweeping up the innards of yet another piece of gym equipment. Today is different. Today is abnormal and that alone makes Tony speed up his trip to the workout room.
For a minute he just watches Steve punching the bag, letting out fierce sounding grunts as if that sand filled cylinder has personally offended him. Cap doesn't raise his head when the door opens with a soft 'shwip' which means he either hasn't heard him or is hoping he'll go away. He should really know better than that.
The gym has more room than they've ever needed and even Cap and his activities take up only a small portion of the large, white room. Windows act as walls for most of it because the last thing he needs is Natasha breaking someone's neck and having them be just out of sight to anyone passing by and yeah, the view when Steve has the place to himself doesn't hurt either. The floor is half specially designed, superhero resistant Stark flooring he'd developed specifically for their gym and half mats for when Natasha or Steve wants to do yoga. A wrestling ring is tucked in the back part for their grudge matches though he thinks he's only ever seen Natasha in there probably reliving her victory against Happy Hogan with Clint.
Steve wears his khakis and his button down remains buttoned up to his throat. His breath is coming in harsh bursts, sweat sticking his hair to his forehead and his shirt to his body so Tony sits. He'll come over when he's ready to talk because it sure isn't now.
It isn't until the punching bag splits down a seam that Tony's presence finally gets noticed but Steve doesn't approach him. Tony continues to work on modifications to the armour and Clint's damn missile launcher on his tablet while Steve works at cleaning up his mess. Tony doesn't bother telling him the cleaning staff will get it because Steve had fixed him with a poisonous look the first time he'd suggested it so he hadn't suggested it again. There's a rattling of chains and then punching again-okay, a two bag problem. Serious.
He lifts his head every so often over the next hour just to check up on him though no one could ever call Cap frail-anymore, Tony had seen the pictures before Project Rebirth-despite how Steve will make it clear if something has gone wrong. Only once do the hits slow making Tony foolishly think the Great Punching Bag Massacre of 2012 has ended and he looks up just in time to see Steve's forehead pressed against the bag, one of his unwrapped hands resting on it like it alone can support him. And that's it, he's had enough.
“Not now, Tony.”
For the next two hours he waits for him to be done taking out his frustration over whatever the hell has him so worked up and when Steve walks over, doesn't speak, Tony already has his plans for hacking into SHIELD solidified. He gets to his feet with the help of the hand held out to him and his fingers close around bloody knuckles but Steve doesn't flinch.
“Want to talk about it?”
Steve never doesn't want to talk. Steve has logged almost as many 'talking' minutes as Pepper in half the time. And she still does it albeit in a different context now. He lets go of his hand, pushes the hair out of his face with the one not spotted with Steve's own blood, “shower, movie and snack then bed?”
A huff of breath that edges too close to sounding shaky makes Tony encircle his waist with his arm. Steve says nothing, just touches his forehead against Tony's. One of Steve's hands comes to rest on his side, “yeah”
“We can skip the movie, just get the snack.”
As if he'd noticed how much he's leaning on Tony for support Steve steps back, shakes his head and puts on a blatantly fake smile, “no. No, what do you want to watch?”
“Again?” he chuckles like Wall-E isn't a marvel of modern animation and story telling. A cover up but Tony lets him think he's fooled.
“Excuse you, who was it that cried during it again?”
The tightness doesn't recede from Steve's eyes for all he tries to seem casual and Tony has already come up with several scenarios in his head that could have caused this and all of them end with him bursting in SHIELD in the armour. They head upstairs to Steve's floor, ditching the common area where people will be waiting with questions and criticisms of movie choices and the tens of questions buzzing around his own head all vie for his attention like crying children or especially stupid robots. He'll wait to ask at least one until Steve has eaten-he tends to get hangry even when not dealing with SHIELD's idea of fun-and has thoroughly entrenched himself in soft couch with Tony squashed against his side.
He chooses popcorn, nachos, and some leftover pizza from a couple of nights ago as their movie food then settles in to wait while Steve showers. It takes him longer than usual but Tony doesn't mention it when he eventually does get a couch full of super soldier to himself. His arm goes around Tony's shoulder immediately, pulling him closer without using the 'I'm yawning' move that he'd been frankly disappointed had never been utilized on him. Really, Tony felt cheated. He's still warm from the water and his hair is damp when he drops his head on top of Tony's.
By the time the movie has reached the half way point the food has been demolished and they've settled into a more comfortable position with Tony inhabiting the last few inches of the couch and Steve squished behind him with his arm across Tony's waist keeping him from falling to the carpeted floor every time one of them shifts to get comfortable. The end is coming though which means he has to start steeling himself for what will happen. They've seen it about two times already but Steve cries every time. Tony doesn't. Never. He would never cry over a fictional movie.
Steve shoves his head into Tony's hair, arm pulling him even closer and Jesus, he wouldn't have chosen this if he'd known he would get this upset on the third viewing too. “You know everything will be okay, you baby.”
“Yeah,” Steve murmurs in a choked voice.
Everything does turn out of course and Steve pulls himself together while Tony goes to get a drink of water. “Come on, it's past your old man bedtime. Probably shouldn't have fed you past midnight either.”
“Better keep me away from water too.”
“What? No, a whole army of you to myself? That sounds like a blessing not a curse.”
They head for the bedroom where Tony won't be sleeping because he has to figure out why Steve has been acting like someone had told him Santa is a lie made up by his parents. Said super soldier gets into bed almost immediately then fixes his sad puppy eyes on him, “you aren't sleeping?”
“Slept most of the day while you were out, you'll be proud to hear no really, don't give me all the awards at once. Unless you want me to stay?” he's already inching towards the door when Steve shakes his head.
“No. Don't stay up too late, I want to see you in the gym tomorrow for training.”
Yeah, no. For all he enjoys training with Steve on occasion he literally cannot commit to something like that as an every Tuesday and Thursday every week kind of deal. Especially not with him moping around. He's always careful, never lets his strength get the best of him even when high on the fight but Tony just cannot bring himself to punch at that face. It should be a cardinal sin.
He practically flies downstairs to his workshop where he can watch multiple screens at once while breaking into a top secret facility's computer network and gets to work doing so. His stomach has been filled, he'd gotten a few hours of sleep, all systems are go. Except that the SHIELD records have yet to be updated so any news he could have gotten from new 'recruits'(cult members, more like) records aren't available. He hacks into the cameras instead.
Steve enters HQ dressed in civilian clothes of course and greets the security guard in the lobby before heading to the elevator. Tony switches cameras. Once inside said elevator Steve's face comes into focus-tense, brow furrowed and his hands are curled into loose fists at his sides. The expression lightens slightly before he gets off at his floor but his shoulders are still drawn in tight as he walks down the hall to the third door on the left. It takes a couple of minutes for Tony to find the right camera, the right footage where Steve doesn't yet look like his entire world is falling apart.
He finds it just in time for someone to trip the proximity alarm. Tony pulls the videos off the screen before turning around and yeah, just who he didn't want to see.
“Something you need?”
“No,” Natasha says with a small shrug. She probably knows what he's doing and for all that she's an Avenger she doesn't exactly hate SHIELD. She's no company woman but he doesn't know how often she still reports to Fury. She might turn around and go tell him. Not that it matters.
He smirks, “jealous of Clint's missile launcher? I can make you one too.”
“A little,” her smile is razor sharp as always, “stay out of SHIELD. Cap will tell you what's up when he's ready.”
“Or I could...be ready for the bombshell he's probably about to drop on me and find out for myself.”
“I'm saying this because you're a friend, Stark, leave it. This isn't something he needs you prying into.”
As if that's ever stopped him.
“But you know,” he pulls the screen back up.
“It involves me. He isn't in danger, leave it. He'll appreciate it more.”
She's gone before he can tell her that he doesn't need her advice on how to deal with his super boyfriend. Or whatever they are.
The recording starts again at his insistence and the room is mostly dark but he can see the outline of a person on a stretcher. It looks male and there are a multitude of wires running from his body to various machines that Steve doesn't seem to notice as he strides over to the bed. No sound from the cameras and his face is hidden so Tony can't see what makes the next part happen.
A hand flies up and wraps around Steve's throat-Tony can see the surprise in his body language, how he tries to step back from the threat. The man on the gurney is snarling something that he doesn't get to finish before SHIELD agents are running in to subdue him. His hand drops a moment later and Steve stands there looking like a ship lost in the middle of an ocean. The video cuts out and the next piece of footage he sees is Steve leaving the elevator, heading back for home. There's a time lapse of about two hours which coincides with the length of his “errand running”-Tony doesn't bother wondering why he'd lied about it. It must be something he really doesn't want anyone knowing if he'd made up some story about where he'd been going.
Who was the guy who had tried to kill him? It couldn't have been a villain and all of Steve's friends other than a few old ladies and the people from the places he volunteers are here. Unless...Tony pulls up SHIELD's file on someone from Steve's past. James “Bucky” Barnes: killed in action. Body never recovered.