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Tony Stark was a goddamn phoenix.

 

Nothing could bring him down.

 

Nothing.

 

Not Howard.

 

Not Ty.

 

Not Sunset.

 

Not Obadiah.

 

Not Vanko.

 

Not Hammer.

 

Not Natasha.

 

Not Fury.

 

Not Loki.

 

Not the Chitauri and their overlord.

 

Not Killian.

 

Not Ultron.

 

Not Maximoff.

 

Not the Avengers.

 

Not Zemo.

 

Not Rogers.

 

And definitely not James fucking Barnes.

 

Tony Stark was a goddamn phoenix.

 

Was , he thought grimly, crawling out of the bunker.

 

He collapsed onto the snow, feeling the warmth leak out of him faster.

 

He chuckled.

 

He rolled over onto his back, staring up at the sky, wondering how long it would take for him to float away.

 

Is this what you wanted, Steve?

 

He laughed again.

 

What would it take for him to join the stars?

 

Tony wondered how Pepper would react to his death. Would she be relieved to finally be rid of him? Would she see this as a loss to the company? Would she be mad at Steve for getting rid of the face of her company? Would she be upset that she had never inherited the suit?

 

He wondered.

 

She shouldn’t be that sad; if she was paying attention, she would have realized Tony Stark died on December 16, 1991.

 

What would it be like to drift away?

 

The Tony Stark everyone knows and hates is nothing but a walking and talking corpse; how ironic.

 

To disappear?

 

And Iron Man is nothing but a well-decorated coffin. A hearse driving him to an early grave.

 

Would anybody notice if he just quit?

 

What type of phoenix didn’t want to reignite himself?

 

Space was empty and scary and vast. In space, he would never be found.

 

What type of hero was a murderer?

 

Tony laughed and laughed and laughed, wasting energy, oxygen, and space.

 

Steve would be happy if he disappeared, wouldn’t he? Steve would be at peace knowing Bucky and the other Avengers would be safe. They would be free from Tony Stark’s antics. He unpredictableness. His recklessness.

 

The Avengers would finally be the perfect team.

 

Maria didn’t deserve it. She didn’t. She was trapped, just like he was. She was so close to freedom and she had it snatched from her by James Buchanan Barnes. She didn’t deserve it .

 

Would Rhodey miss him when he was gone?

 

He pondered the question for a few moments before deciding that everyone he knew or once knew would be better off without him.

 

They should've closed the portal much sooner.

 

Why wasn’t he allowed to quit? To disappear? To drift?

 

Why was he always called back down?

 

To be judged as impulsive, arrogant, and unfit for a team, only for him to be asked to join?

 

But only as a consultant, of course.

 

They should call him Irony Man; this truly is hilarious.

 

Tony watched the snowflakes flutter down, wondering when they would snuff out his flames.

 

Or had they already done so?

 

He looked back up at the sky, at the stars.

 

They called to him, asking him to come and be free.

 

To come and float away.

 

To come and drift.

 

He shouldn’t but he can.

 

Tony wondered what the world would’ve been like if he had been in that car too.

 

Howard deserved everything that was coming to him. Everything. Tony didn’t cry because of him. He cried because the mother who never was and of the child who never could be. All because of him, there was no one who could be happy. So selfish that he couldn’t allow others to feel joy unless he was. He was glad he was dead.

 

Maria didn’t deserve it, but did he?

 

Did he deserve to be left out in the snow, his heart, quite literally, broken with these blank thoughts filling his mind?

 

It was strange; how could something empty and blank ever begin to fill a place?

 

Did he deserve to have everything expected of him? Was he supposed to be able to have everything under control all the time? Was he supposed to be able to hand things over on a silver platter, no matter the circumstances?

 

Was he supposed to have not reacted so violently to that video?

 

Maria did not deserve to die like that.

 

Was it selfish of him to think that he could’ve been a hero?

 

The murderer becoming the hero? In what universe?

 

Was it selfish of him to want the suit to become the coffin it was designed to be?

 

Was it selfish to want to drift away?

 

Nobody expected Tony Stark to be able to maintain control, but were upset when he didn’t.

 

Tony Stark would never be the perfect hero.

 

Tony Stark would never be the perfect friend or consultant.

 

Just like how Tony Stark would never be the perfect son?

 

He would never get the chance to make her laugh again, or make her smile. He would never get to show her his inventions or practice piano with her. Or talk in Italian when Howard wasn’t listening. Or go out for picnic with Jarvis, Ana, and Peggy when Howard was out of town. He would never get to pretend to be Captain America and watch her giggle when he held up his makeshift shield and recite the pledge. He would never get to play hide and seek with her again. He would never get to hide in her bed when it was storming. She would never kiss him on the cheek ever again. She would never hear ‘I love you’ from her again.

 

All because of James Buchanan Barnes.

 

Forgive him if he was a little upset.

 

It was the fucking funeral all over again.

 

When would he be allowed to really to really grieve?

 

Maria was far from a perfect mother but she tried her best.

 

Unlike some people.

 

Would anyone really be upset over the loss of Tony Stark? Or would they be upset over the loss of Iron Man?

 

Iron Man, yes; Tony Stark… Not recommended.

 

Iron Man was born a hero, while Tony Stark was born to fail.

 

There were other suits and Rhodey might be able to fly again, if he wakes up, and Pepper always had Rescue. It wouldn’t be a real loss.

 

It would be like when you heard there had been mass shooting on the news. You would feel sad, of course, but as long as know one you knew was shot at, you wouldn’t be sad for long. Maybe anger, but not… not sad.

 

No one would miss Tony Stark. They would miss his genius, they would miss his tech, they would miss his money, they would miss the sex.

 

But they would not miss him.

 

Tony Stark was volatile, rude, heedless, and negligent.

 

The space that he left behind would easily be filled.

 

The snow engulfed him.

 

But at the same time it didn’t.

 

Leaving him alone and numb.

 

His only solace was the stars, calling to him.

 

They offered peace and they offered tranquility.

 

That was an offer he could not refuse.

 

To finally be at peace?

 

To not have anything expected of him?

 

To not have to pretend to be a hero?

 

Now those were selfish thoughts.

 

He wanted to be free.

 

He wanted to drift.

 

So

 

Tony closed his eyes

 

whether to sleep

 

or to drift

 

he did not know

 

but

 

he was already gone.

 

To drift is to leave slowly, aimlessly, or casually.

 

How fitting.