"Did you care?"
Tony hadn’t even waited for Steve to greet him before he began to speak. He doesn’t care that Steve sounds drowsy, as if he had just woken up. "Did you care?" He repeats and, despite the slight slur in his words due to the numerous servings of scotch that he has consumed already, it's impossible to hide the anger in them. There's something else mixed in there, and Steve can hear the anguish in his tone, but Tony continues before he can even stop him. "As you flew off with your bestie, did you care about what was happening behind you? Did you even see how Rhodey fell? Were you patched into the comms at that point, or did you just not even bother anymore? Because you got what you wanted, right? So why would you care?"
"Of course I cared," Steve finally says, his tone more forceful than he feels. "I care about what happened to Rhodey."
Tony huffs out a breath that was supposed to be a scoff, but it sounds more like a short strangled sob. "He's paralyzed, you know." His voice is so quiet now that Steve stops talking only so that he can hear him. "I couldn't catch him. I couldn't--... He has saved me so many times before, and I couldn't return the favor. And I should have stayed with him. I owed him that much - I should have stayed with him, should have been with him when he got transported back, home, but I didn't. You know where I went? I went to look for you. I went as a friend. I went to find you. And then you left again after essentially killing my suit and leaving me stranded in fucking Siberia. Thanks for that, by the way."
"You were trying to kill--"
"Bucky, right. Just how you tried to kill me." Even if Tony doesn't raise his voice, there's an edge to it that cuts like a knife. A heavy silence that follows from Steve's end of the line, and Tony huffs out a bitter chuckle under his breath. "You were going to slice my head off with your shield. Or, I don't know, smash my face in. You made your stance very clear that day, Steve."
"No? You sure? Did my repulsors actually kill your buddy? Or did they slice into you for more than a flesh wound? You smashed the helmet open for what? If you were going to destroy the reactor from the beginning, you could have done that. And, just so you fucking know, I could have done it. From the very beginning, I could have just blasted you both out of existence and you damn well know it. So, please, answer me that. Why did you do it?" Steve's silence is his only response at first, but Tony doesn't bother waiting. "Yeah. Exactly. You should have just finished it."
And, with that, Tony snaps the phone shut. The silence in
Steve’s his office feels like it’s ringing in his ears, the phone heavy in his hand before he flings it against the nearest wall as he growls in frustration.
* * * *
The next call comes a few days later, except it's not Tony's voice the one that answers. At first Steve is greeted by silence but, before he can say anything, it's another familiar voice that speaks.
"What do you want, Steve?"
It's Rhodes. Tony hadn’t been the first one to tell him about what had happened at the airport - Sam had told him everything after leaving the RAFT and, while there is literally nothing he can say to fix what happened, Steve still finds himself trying to find the words. "Rhodey--"
"Are you looking for Tony? He's not here."
Steve sighs under his breath, partly frustrated but also in resignation. "I just wanted to see how he was doing. The last time he called me..."
Rhodey stays silent again as Steve trails off, until he finally speaks again. "Yeah, I know. I heard. Do me a favor, just don't call him again. If he wants to talk to you, he'll reach out. But leave him alone otherwise."
You've done enough, Rhodey's tone announces, quiet and angry, and Steve is unable to even agree before the line dies on the other side.