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As I Fall I Feel

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It was probably the most beautiful sunset he'd ever seen. The sky was burning red and gold as far as he could see, New York city was silhouetted against it like someone had set it up for souvenir posters, Stark Tower remained a glowing blue beacon of his own excellence, and two more Hydra blimps were gently crashing into the bay in flames.

The fact that he was a front-row view sitting on top of his own crashed Hydra blimp, with Captain America standing beside him admiring the same view? That almost made up for the way his life was still flashing before his eyes.

Not the bit where it'd gone wrong, where Hydra's failsafe EMP had gone off and knocked his repulsors offline while he was two hundred feet in the air. Not the part where he'd started to fall, armour dead weight on his limbs, shouting at Jarvis to reboot the system even though Jarvis – for the first time – couldn't hear him, trying to grab for something, anything

No, the bits that kept playing over and over were the flashes he got of Captain America as he fell. Steve on top of the airship, seeing him fall. Steve, ripping a cable out of the side of the airship with his bare hands, the man was obscene. Steve, jumping after Tony with nothing but a cable and a shield. Steve, grabbing Tony by the arm and hauling him in close to stop the fall —

— And here they were. Tony sitting on a slowly-deflating blimp, listening to Jarvis sounding off the results of the diagnostics, his bare hand pressed to the arc reactor in his chest like he can feel his heartbeat behind it. He couldn't look at Steve too long. When he did, his mind played back Steve wrapping himself around Tony like Tony was the one who came to a fight without enough protection, trying to break his fall. When he did, he noticed ridiculous things like the way the setting sun gilded Steve, practically making him glow in the light like the man wasn't obscenely perfect enough already.

It was easier to watch the sunset.

"You alright?" Steve asked, eventually, squeezing Tony's shoulder. Tony looked at Steve's hand on him; the marks from the cable were already fading. If it had been Tony trying that, he might have lost the arm.

Tony took a deep breath. Dropped his hand from the arc reactor, pasted his smirk on like he'd never lost it. His voice was hoarse from screaming when he tried to say "Always;" he had to clear his throat before he stood up and said "Come on, let's go brag about taking out Hydra the fastest. I'm sure I can make you look good somehow."

And Tony took a deep breath, Jarvis steady in his ear, all systems normal sir, and stepped back into the sky.