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Looking at You

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“Hey, Tony can I--”

“Jesus.” The plate Tony was holding shattered across the kitchen floor when it slipped through his fingers. “Jesus, Steve sorry about that. Sorry.”

“I didn't mean to startle you.” Steve said with a frown. “Are you alright?”

Tony shook his head.“It's fine. Just lost a little in my head is all.” He bent down to start cleaning up the mess. “What do you need?”

“Let me help you clean that up.”

“I got it.” Tony waved him away. “What can I do for you, Captain? What do you need from me?”

“Well, I was thinking maybe you could take a look at Bucky's arm?” Steve asked hopefully. “It's been freezing up or not flexing or something and it's hurting him quite a bit. I told him you'd be happy to help him with it.”

“ Happy to help --” Tony cleared his throat. “That's fine. But I'm busy, so send him to Banner. He's got access to everything in the lab anyway.”

“I was hoping you would look at his arm specifically. Bruce isn't as mechanically inclined as you are and I want Bucky to have the best.”

“I'm busy, Steve.” Tony wiped his hands on his pants and raised his eyebrows. “Banner is smarter than me anyway, he will find a fix faster than I can. Sorry, I just can't right now. Sorry.”

“Uh, okay. I'll just take him to Banner then.” Steve sent him an odd look, but turned and left anyway, and Tony sank down into a chair, sitting on his hands so it wasn't quite as obvious they were shaking.

*******************

“Sorry, Clint, uh, you guys, I didn't realize you were in here.” Tony did an abrupt about face and headed right back out of the room.

Clint frowned after him. “Tony. It's not a problem. Come sit with us.”

“I don't want to intrude.” Tony held up his hands peacefully. “I'll come back later.”

Natasha narrowed her eyes at him.“Since when do you care if you are intruding, just come in and sit down. It's called a common area for a reason, Stark.”

“Lay off.” Sam sent her a sharp glance. “You don't have to say everything like it's an insult.”

“Excuse me?” Natasha's voice rose the slightest bit and Tony coughed loudly.

“Hey, it's all fine. Let's not fight okay? No worries, no harm no foul. I know she doesn't mean anything by it, it's fine. All I needed was my tablet, it's just there on the end table, I'll just grab it.”

“Here, Tony.” Sam tossed it to him and Tony caught it, but just barely, bringing it down to his side before anyone noticed the slip.

“Okay. Okay thanks guys. See ya. Sorry again.” He turned and left, trying to slow his breathing down a little before it turned into a panic attack.

He hated when they fought.

****************

Vision was sitting with his arm curled around Wanda in the little side room Tony usually read in, and Tony stopped abruptly, backpedaling outthe door as he said, “Sorry, guys, sorry I didn't mean to interrupt.”

Wanda flicked her eyes over him and didn't answer but Vision smiled at him. “Every inch of this compound is yours, Tony, there is no need for an apology for walking into a room.”

Tony tried hard not to flinch when the--man? being?-- when Vision spoke, but he didn't quite manage it and Wanda caught it, raising an eyebrow curiously.

“Why does he flinch when you speak?” She asked her boyfriend, or whatever they considered themselves. “Didn't he create you?”

Tony tried not to react to her speaking about him but not to him, but he knew he failed when Vision lay a concerned glance in his direction.

“I am not quite sure. Have I done something to make you uneasy? Or perhaps I have--”

“Just gonna leave.” Tony interrupted. “Sorry again, I didn't mean to-- sorry.”

He left before they could ask anymore questions.

********************

“Tony.”

“ Fuck .” Tony gripped the table hard so he wouldn't jump away when Bucky materialized next to him. “What?”

“Banner isn't available today and Steve said you would take a look at my arm?” The soldier's voice was always disconcertingly soft compared to the absolute danger that hovered around his shoulders.

“I told Steve I was busy.” Tony bit out, counting backwards from ten trying to get his heart rate under control again. “I expected him to relay that message to you.”

“Oh.” Bucky blinked at him. “Sorry, Steve didn't really say anything about that to me.”

“Also?” Tony raised his voice. “It kind of pisses me off that you just walk into my lab like you belong here! This is my space! No one is supposed to be in here unless I--” he snapped his mouth shut when he saw the shock on Bucky's face.

“Sorry.” he said, backing down and swallowing hard. “Sorry. I'm just jumpy. Not your fault. Sorry. I'm just… I can't today. I can't deal with this today.”

“Okay then.” Bucky's pale blue eyes narrowed a little. “Are you alright, Tony?”

“I'm fine.” He replied automatically, and started edging towards the door. “Everything's fine. Sorry about this-- I just can't help today. Sorry, I'm sorry. I'll call Banner.”

“Okay.” Bucky was still watching him. “Thank you.”

“Um…” Tony froze. “What?”

“I said thank you. For calling Banner for me. I appreciate it.”

“Oh.” Tony didn't know what to say and he didn't want to stand there staring so he just turned and left.

*******************

Finally safe in his room, staring out his window, Tony raised his glass of whiskey to his lips with a grateful sigh.

On his nightstand sat a framed picture from almost a year ago, when the Avengers had been reunited and were welcomed back to America as heroes instead of half of them being fugitives and the other half being outcasts.

It was a great picture, it really was.

Everyone was smiling and shaking hands. Steve had one arm around Tony's shoulders and one arm around Bucky's, and the crowd had cheered and screamed as the Iron Man and the Winter Soldier had clasped hands and posed for the photographers.

The news stations had practically declared it a holiday, the Avengers back and better than ever, the world safe, all was as it should be.

Tony took another drink, cursing as the glass shook in his hand.

He kept that picture by his bed so when he woke up every morning he remembered what he was supposed to be happy about.

He kept it there so every night when he fell asleep he could remind himself why all of this was a good thing.

He kept it there because he needed to see it because it took all of his self control just to see the team and not have a break down.

He kept it there because it took every bit of his strength to make it through any given day anymore and Tony didn't feel like he had much strength left to give.

He raised his glass in a half hearted salute to his reflection.

“Sorry.” He whispered. “Sorry to keep doing this to us. Sorry I'm not better than this.”