Tony stares at Steve and Bucky. They're like a puzzle. They just fit together. It is almost as if they both are gravity, pulling them towards eachother. They just have this balance around them, shining brightly, practically screaming perfect.
A balance that will get broken if Tony says anything.
So he just watches instead. He watches Steve laugh, while Bucky smirks next to him, leaning against the counter. He looks at the faint touch between their shoulder and the two hands that holds them together. Tony can see Steve's soulmark under his left collarbone; it's a circle, with lines going out from it, twisting and turning. It looks like a sun with a dark, yet vibrant, blue color. Tony looks over at Bucky, staring briefly at his right upperarm, where he knows the exact same sun will be hiding under the longsleeved shirt he is wearing. Tony turns his head up to their faces, as Steve rest his head on Bucky's right shoulder, while he whispers something softly to him.
Tony takes his coffe and goes to his workshop, saying something about a new device to his helmet to the rest of the team in the room.
He ignores the burn right between his shoulderblades, where a blue sun is hiding.
Tony watches Thor boom about Jane to anyone who listens. He beams, saying there is no one else he would want to be with, while also saying great things about Jane. Tony can see Clint rolling his eyes when Thor isn't watching and Natasha hitting him slightly on his head. Tony can see Clint's soulmark on his left wrist, a dark red, twisted line going around the wrist like a bracelet, with pointy thornes coming out from it. Tony knows Natasha has one on her ankle. He also knows Coulson has one around his right wrist.
Thor continues to boom about Jane and their soulmark, an oval, yellow thing, with what looks eerily like lighting coming out from it. Bruce listens next to him, a small smile tugging on his lips. His soulmark is on his chest; it's a straight line, but it is the brightest green Tony has ever seen and from it there is a hurricane of lines, twisting and crossing eachother. Tony knows Betty Ross has one on her palm. He also knows the two of them will meet in the weekend and that Bruce is secretly excited and nervous. Tony can't blame him. He did abandon her after all for a couple of years. Oh well. Tony can get why he did it.
Tony turns his head towards Steve and Bucky. Steve also listens to Thor's voice, but he foucuses more on the drawing he currently draws in his sketchbook. His head is in Bucky's lap, while Bucky plays with his hair. Tony can't see what Steve draws, but he can see Bucky smiling everytime he looks at it. Steve's eyes are shining and Bucky seems more happy than he has ever been since Tony met him.
Tony walks out of the room without saying anything.
Nobody notices. Either that, or they just doesn't care.
Tony thinks he knows which one of the two alternatives is right.
Tony builds. He builds until his hands are bloody and aching, until his eyes are blodshot and his legs feels heavy. He builds, he upgrades and invents. He does anything he can thinks of. He ignores Jarvis attempts to talk to him about how long he has been awake without sleep, since he last ate and the last time he left the workshop. He ignores it when Jarvis says Bruce wants to come down to see him and he ignores when Steve also tries.
He ignores them and builds.
His hands are sore and his arms are tired, but his mind is focused on the devices in his hands.
Tony is fine.
Food and sleep is overrated anyway.
He collapses 8 hours later.
Yinsen is the only one Tony ever has told about his soulmark.
You're the man who has everything, yet nothing.
Tony knows Yinsen knew those words were true to the core. Because Tony is an egoistic bastard with dead soulmates and he would be alone even after he escaped that hellhole.
Tony also knows Yinsen believed he could be different, do something good for the world. That he would do something great.
Tony knows one of two statements is right.
He also know one of them is wrong.
Tony wakes up in his bed. He stares at the ceiling for five minutes, before he sits up. He is still in his clothes he had in the workshop, but his hands are bandaged and aching. He looks away from them. He notices that on the right side of his bed there is a tray with sandwitches and a waterbottle. He can't feel the taste of the food when he is eating. He can't feel the hot water when he showers.
Jarvis says he's been asleep for 9 hours when he asks.
Tony doesn't ask though who brought him up to his room.
Howard hated Tony the moment he laid his eyes on him. Tony was never good enough; never perfect. While he might be a genius, he wasn't Captain America. It didn't help Howard and Maria Stark wasn't soulmates. It didn't help it was a unhappy marriage and that Tony never was wanted, but was needed to continue the family line. It didn't help Howard thought Tony only was good to lash out his anger at.
The soulmark hurt when he got it, which he thinks is lucky, because otherwise, he wouldn't know it was even there before somebody else saw it. Tony got his soulmark at 15, two years earlier than the average time to get one. He doesn't tell anyone. Tony had been learned by Howard at a young age that he was nothing worth and that the only thing that mattered was his name. He had been learned no one would love him. So how could he ever be good enough for two of the greatest heroes of all time? He only knows it is them because Aunt Peggy showed him a picture of Steve's soulmark one time and said Bucky also had one.
It just didn't add up that Tony would have them as soulmates, no matter how hard he thought about it.
So he shut up about it. After all, they were already dead. It didn't matter.
Sometimes, Tony is sure the universe loves to prove him wrong in the worst possible ways.
Tony can still feel the water burning in his lungs and voices yelling in his ears in laungages he doesn't understand.
He can still remember the thoughts of hoping somebody would come and save him.
He can still remember Yinsen calm voice talking to him when he needed distraction from the hell they were in.
He can still remember the rage burning in him when Yinsen died.
He can still feel the burning sensation of warm sand and the sun over him.
Tony can't any longer remember Rhodey coming for him.
Howard and Maria Stark died two years after he got his soulmark and he can't bring himself to cry.
How can he cry for somebody he knows he will never miss?
No one talks about the period of time Tony spent in the workshop. The team glances at the bandage around his hand sometimes during the first day, but pretends it isn't there after that.
Tony doesn't say anything about it.
He can feel a bitter taste in from his coffee when Bucky and Steve looks at eachother like there is nothing else in the world.
He ignores it and continues drinking.
That he drinks alchohol afterwards to get the taste from his mouth gone is completley out of the point.
Tony's dreams are plagued by Howard yelling at him, Bucky and Steve glaring at him and a pain in his soulmark.
He tries to sleep as little as he can.
One time, Clint asks if it's true Tony doesn't have a soulmark. The rest of the team looks up to stare at him.
Tony just smirks and says that's the big question. To his relief, Clint huffs and says he could just say no if he doesn't have one. It wasn't greatly uncommon to not have one.
His heart still beats twice as fast when he thinks back at the converstation.
Tony can sometimes see Natasha staring at him.
He won't be surprised if she knows or atlest suspects he has a soulmate. But she doesn't say anything.
He wants to thank her for that.
He got Bruce his own lab.
Bruce is there a lot. Sometimes Tony joins him.
They don't talk much.
Tony thinks of Obie when he gets drunk. He thinks of the trust he had for him, the respectfull mask and confidence Obie always had. He thinks of Obie's black soulmark on his neck. He thinks of that one time Obie told him during one of his drunken ramblings that "she wasn't worth it".
Maybe he betrayed her too.
The team asks sometimes if he wants to be with them on movie night or want to get takeout or just plain out hang out with them.
He says no everytime.
They stop asking.
He ignores the disappointed feeling in his chest.
Sometime Tony just stops. He stops with whatever he's doing and stares out into the thin air, his mind empty and his eyes unfocused.
It's nice to feel okay for a change.
Jarvis was the first person Tony trusted.
He still wishes he had told Jarvis about his soulmark before he died.
He thinks he deserved to know.
Tony can't bring himself to say anything to Pepper and Rhodey, even if he would trust them with anything.
He wants to. He really wants to.
But he doesn't want to bother them. Nobody, except maybe for Natasha and Yinsen, who is dead, even knows he has one soulmate and definitely doesn't know he has two. Why should he say anything, when they doesn't have a clue?
He's handling the situation fine, he thinks for himself
Never has the word "fine" been so bitter on his tongue.
When Tony and Pepper broke up, Tony didn't know how to react. He knew it had only been temporary; they weren't soulmates and Pepper had a soulmark herself; a red circle, with spikes. It fit her and her temper.
But that didn't mean he wasn't allowed to get hurt. So he got drunk and woke up with a headache. Nothing unusual.
But this time, he woke up alone and cold.
Since then, he's used to feeling cold.
He was already familiar with feeling alone.
One time, Tony got to see Yinsen's mark.
It was a dark green color, formed as a circle and another circle around it. Yinsen had it on on his right knee.
Tony wishes he could have saved Yinsen and his family.
He wishes Yinsen could have gotten his happy ending.
Tony wishes he had died in that cave.
Tony's visits to Bruce's lab gradually stops.
Bruce asks why and Tony says he has a lot to do in his own workshop.
Bruce doesn't ask anything more about it.
Tony knows he shouldn't be so disappointed.
When Tony meets Steve Rogers, he doesn't say anything. He thinks for himself, that when the right time is, he will. But there is never a right time. Because Steve hates him, ranting about Howard and how Tony is not a hero.
Tony doesn't say anything about the mark, but can't help but trace the lines under Steve's collarbone with his eyes. He wants to belong to somebody, but he knows it won't work as long as Steve mourns over Bucky. He wishes there is a way to help Steve with the grief, but he doesn't know how. But he tries. It's small things, like new pencils or small stuff that has once belonged to Peggy or old pictures. Steve seems a little more happier for every week, so Tony thinks it works. The missions goes well enough and the Avengers are succesfull as a team. Steve warms up to him. Tony hasn't said anything about the small stuff he does for Steve, but he thinks Steve knows it is him.
Tony is happy he can atleast do something right for once.
Tony doesn't know if he should laugh or cry when they discover the Winter Soldier.
He decides to cry when they manages to find Bucky buried within the Winter Soldier.
But he is quiet when Bucky is well enough to move into the tower.
Because Steve and Bucky are together and Tony can see the affection radiating from them.
There's simply no place for Tony.
Never has been and never will be.
Howards was right, Tony thinks when Bucky's been in the tower for some time. Tony can't help but falling for him too, for his dry humour and the rares smiles he can sometimes get.
Tony is alone.
Alone and broken and useless and worthless and stupid and foolish and...
Tony hides in his room.
His dreams are becoming worse.
They're full by silence now.
Tony never liked silence.
Tony walks in on Steve and Bucky kissing early in the early morning and stares, before he walks out of the kitchen so they won't notice him.
He tells himself he imagines the tears falling down from his eyes.
JARVIS tries to help him in his own way. Telling him when he last ate or slept. JARVIS tells him where all the other Avengers are and always sounds so comforting when he speaks to Tony.
Tony can't help but smile when JARVIS talks to him.
It feels nice to have someone caring about him, human or not.
Yinsen starts coming back to Tony's dreams.
Tony wonders how long he can be awake without going insane.
It's been five months since Bucky moved into the tower.
Tony has managed to create an arm to him like the one he had before, the only difference being that the new arm is covered by a material so it looks and feels more like skin. Bucky also tells him it feels more real and less like a metal piece stuck to his shoulder.
Bucky and Steve can't stop thanking him for atleast a week.
Tony doesn't know how he will manage to lie about his soulmark for his entire life.
Natasha stares at him. He stares back. She shakes her head and walks away.
Tony feels empty watching her go.
Jarvis was the father Tony wished Howard could have been when he was younger.
Tony knows now he doesn't deserve that kind of a father.
Tony gets drunk one night and sets fire to the workshop.
DUM-E actually uses his fire extinguisher right for once.
Tony wishes the robot hadn't.
He fought with Rhodey. He can't remember what they fought about, but it ended when Rhodey punched Tony.
Tony can't remember last time he got that drunk after a fight.
Tony thinks of Steve and Bucky and their stupid, perfect smiles.
He throws his coffee cup across the room. It shatters in thousands of pieces.
Tony tells himself he is okay.
Tony has always been very good at lying.
Tony doesn't care much about anything anymore.
What's the meaning when nobody really will ever care for him?
Steve and Bucky laughs together.
Tony hides in his workshop for two days.
No one tries to come down.
He dreams about broken soulmarks, Yinsen and darkness.
He is always alone in darkness.
He yells at Pepper on a particulary bad night.
He still haven't said sorry.
He haven't seen Pepper for some time now.
It's feels easier to get drunk.
He feels to tired to keep up apperances around Steve and Bucky anymore.
It's easier to just avoid or walk out of the room when they're there.
No one notices.
Tony walks in when the team has a movie night. There are popcorn, bad movies and laughter. No one bothered to tell Tony.
No one notices he is even there.
No one notices him leave.
He doesn't care about his soulmark anymore.
He tells himself that.
It hurts much more seeing the team being a team without him.
Rhodey and Pepper calls sometimes. The calls are short and stiff and Tony still doesn't say sorry.
There's a bitter taste in his mouth after they calls.
Tony's shocked he hasn't died of alcohol posioning yet.
Thor goes to Asgard.
No one tells Tony.
He finds out by JARVIS.
He tries not to think the fact that Thor left without saying goodbye.
He shouldn't be surprised, after all.
It's been a long time since Tony talked to Pepper and Rhodey.
Because if he won't answer when they call, surely they would check on him, even though they've fought. Right?
He still haven't seen or heard from them since they last called one month ago.
It's been a while since Tony talked to the others outside of missions.
He thinks nobody just bother to do so.
After all, he is an arrogant lonewolf.
Sometimes he has to remind himself of the obvious things.
He dreams of laughter and smiles while screaming for help.
No one helps him.
It's getting harder to see the difference between his dreams and his everyday life.
Another two months pass.
Tony pretends he can't see the new made scars on his arms.
He says to JARVIS not to tell anyone about it.
It hurt like a bitch when Rhodey took the War Machine suit. Tony knew it was wrong. But he also knew he just couldn't loose Rhodey. So he forgave him. Besides, it's his own fault, just like everything else. It all worked out in the end.
Or, it did. Because Rhodey hasn't contacted Tony in any way for a long time now. Just like Pepper. They're probably busy and can't deal with Tony right now, especially now when he hasn't tried to contact them himself. So why bother if they're busy?
It's Tony's fault anyway.
JARVIS stops speaking to Tony.
Tony ignores the pain it causes.
He was, is foolish to think even an AI he created would stay with him.
Like dear old dad always said he would be.
Tony decides he likes the color red on his skin a little more than before.
After all, it is his color.
Tony doesn't talk much at all anymore.
He listens at Cap in missions, but he never answers. He only speaks if he has to.
No one asks why.
One time, Tony drops one of his pens on the ground. He stares at it for a long time, before he burst out laughing. It's a crazy laugh, burning in him and he sobs too, shifting between laughing and sobbing.
It ends with Tony crying helpless on the ground, hoping somebody would come. Anybody.
No one does of course.
Tony can't help but cry harder.
Tony starts to send out the suit without him on smaller missions.
No one notices.
Tony, meanwhile, discovers he loves the color red dripping from his arms.
He dreams of dying, quick and only a little bit hurtful while people smiles to him.
It's one of the nicer dreams he has had in a long time.
Pepper calls Tony and he actually picks up, only to stop the call one second later, after hearing her voice.
Rhodey calls too. Tony doesn't pick that call up.
They're better without him.
He dreams of drowning and screaming, pain soaring through his body as he sees the rest of the Avengers staring motionless back at him.
The pain remains when he wakes up.
Tony gives up.
He orders JARVIS to lock down his room and then he stares at the ceiling.
He tells JARVIS to lie and tell the team he just isn't feeling well, if they might against all odds wonder where he is.
Nobody goes to check on him.
Because no one fucking cares.
He thinks a lot during the time in his room.
He hopes once in a while someone will come.
Tony knows he will never be outside this room anymore.
He will die in there.
And nobody will know until it's too late.
He isn't sad about the fact. He isn't happy about it either.
He feels numb, but satisfied.
They will be better off without him anyway.