Even after so many years, the battlefield was rough. The screams around him everywhere, the everpresent smell of gunpowder, the general panic. Being a superhero was Steve’s full time job, but he never got used to the general chaos of the battle. New York was currently being held hostage by a particularly ugly brand of aliens. Some form of humanoid mammals that looked pretty similar to men and women, but had a distinct white glow that was just beyond creepy. Steve hated aliens. They were a living, breathing testament of how fucked up the world had become.
The plan was simple. The air attack was commanded by Thor, Iron Man and Hawkeye, and the ground assault was led by Widow, Hulk and him. Steve hated working with the military, yet with the scope of the invasion and the city's dimensions, it was strategically impossible for them to look after the civilians. Tony had been clear in that regard: they needed to protect every citizen first. Kick alien ass second.
Steve punched a white alien in the face and readjusted his shield. He lost count of how many he had taken down already, and there always seemed to be more. His legs ached from running so much and his heart just kept drumming out of rhythm. Bruce told him a thousand times that the serum gave him a ridiculous amount of extra adrenaline so heighten senses were expected. It was good for the most part. He loved seeing so much and so clearly and his ears could catch every move the enemy made instantly. What he hated was the smell. That deep, invading smell of blood and metal. It cut through Steve’s nose and travelled way inside him, reaching his tongue and filling him with disgust. He always lost appetite after a fight because of the strong nausea it left.
The fight didn’t seem to be anytime over soon but Iron Man spoke urgently through the comms. He seemed to have found an opening to the foreign ship and was headed that way. Thor couldn’t assist him because he was half a city alway and Natasha’s plane was too big to go unnoticed. He’d have to do it alone. Steve didn’t like the idea one bit. That was an alien ship they had no intel on. They didn’t know how many they were, how the ship was build or even what kind of technology they possessed. Iron Man would go blindfolded into what could likely be a mortal trap. It wasn’t right, it wasn’t smart and it wasn’t something Steve would allow.
Yet, Steve knew Tony wouldn’t listen. He never did. He could just watch as the red light in the sky headed towards the big black alien ship. It was an image Steve hated. Iron Man was so reckless, so impulsive he put everyone in danger. Well, not everyone. He put himself in danger and that, for Steve, was a crime altogether. Tony Stark was the most wonderful, intelligent man Steve had ever known. He couldn’t imagine a world worth living without him.
And just as he thought about the 101 ways he would scold Tony for this after, he saw something in the ship. A cannon. A big, bright metal cannon that was coming out of the ship’s lower cabin. And it was pointing directly at Iron Man.
He didn’t think about it. Seriously, Steve couldn’t magnify how little he thought about what happened next. He ran towards the Hulk, who was ungracefully smashing a dozen of aliens, and pointed at the canon.
“Throw me.” He commanded . The ship was about two hundred feet away from them. It wasn’t an easy shot but it was doable. Even so, the Hulk didn’t seem so sure. Steve stared him down “Now.”
Hulk grabbed him by the shoulders and the next thing he knew was flying through the air. He was headed directly towards his target at a dangerous velocity. The last thing he remembered was a bright light coming out of the cannon and the impact it made on his shield.
“You’re an asshole,” a voice said. It was distant, but very familiar. He loved that voice, even if it was insulting him . “You know that, right?”
“What’s wrong boo, he stole your victory move?” another voice said. It was softer, nicer.
“No. He’s just an asshole.”
Steve slowly opened his eyes. The bright sky of New York was the first thing he saw. Then, Tony Stark’s concerned face. The first thought Steve had was that Tony looked breathtakingly beautiful under the sunset’s light. The second, that he had a terrible pain in his right arm. And his head was killing him.
“What happened?” he asked, taking in his surroundings. He was laying on the pavement on a big avenue, Tony kneeling right beside him. Natasha was standing a foot away, arms cross and shaking her head. The city was in chaos, a lot of people running around, but no white aliens on sight. Steve still smelled the blood, though.
“What happened?” Tony repeated, rage filling his words. “You crashed into a motherfucking spaceship, that happened. You complete imbecile, what the fuck were you thinking? Unarmored, unprotected, just straight up to the alien’s ass. What the fuck, Steve?"
“Hey, Tony, leave him alone. He saved your life,” said Natasha, already typing something on her cellphone.
“They were gonna shoot a cannon at you,” answered Steve, voice rough. There was so much dust.
“Oh! I get it. There was a murderous alien cannon involved,” Tony said, hands flying everywhere. “So naturally the smart decision was to fucking launch yourself into it. ”
He was pissed. And Steve was too tired to deal with a pissed off Tony.
“Your plan wasn’t so much better. Mine worked, didn’t it?” he answered. The shield was laying face down beside him. He grabbed it and turned it around. Sure enough, there was a big black stain on the center.
“The shield repealed the blast. Cut straight through the ship,” Nat explained to him, not looking away from her phone. “You were lucky, Steve.”
“I was,” Steve said, slowly standing up. Tony followed his lead.
Steve’s head was spinning. He must’ve blacked out from the beam’s impact. He just wanted to go home and rest. Maybe watch those movies Tony was always referencing. He sighed, already thinking about the warm bath he was going to take.
“Now, let’s get back to the Tower. We can talk about it at the debriefing,” he said, praying to all the Gods this discussion could end there. He had been kind of reckless but there was too much discomfort in him to think about a sound defense. Also, shower.
Steve looked at Tony again. He was frowning, anxiousness trembling from his body. Steve didn't understand what his deal was. Tony had been the one about to fly into an unknown ship. Why was he on trial? Yet, always the bigger man, Steve smiled at him. Whatever Tony was going through could be resolved with some popcorn and a good film. He was probably just shaken up from the blast.
“I already called the Quinjet, it should be here in a minute,” Nat said, finally looking up from her phone. Steve briefly wondered if she really had something important to do or just wanted to avoid Tony’s bad mood.
“Great. I really want a shower and a movie,” Steve said, still smiling at Tony.
Tony looked at him and gave him the most sarcastic, resentful smile he could manage. Then, abruptly turned on the repulsors and flew away. Jeez, what a dramatic man.
“I'm never going to hear the end of this, am I?” Steve asked Nat, who shrugged.
“You kinda pulled a Tony here. Reckless endangerment is his thing, not yours. Must be weird being on the other side,” she simply responded.
Steve suddenly felt the wind push against him. He looked up to see the Quinjet landing on autopilot beside them.
“Oh, and no movie tonight,” she added. “We have a gala.”
Steve sighed. What a shitty day.
Black tie galas were a part of their life now. Steve didn't hate them per se, but sometimes they were really annoying. A lot of high class CEOs, politicians and designers, in sum the people with the biggest egos Steve had ever seen. And he lived with Tony Stark.
This particular gala was a fundraiser for some charity Steve didn’t even know. “It’s all money laundering,” Tony had told him one day. Steve was a really hopeful man, he believed in people. Yet the fancy drinks, the thousand dollar tuxedos and dresses and the ridiculously expensive jewelry made him doubt. These people owned the world and just threw a couple of thousands to the poor to ease their guilt.
That night the Avengers were invited to receive some frivolous award for their service to the people. Steve liked recognition, but he couldn't help but feel that the rich just wanted the press. Tony was accustomed to people using his presence to further their agendas, so he was always the one to manage the situation.
Only this time he was nowhere to be found. He didn’t go back to the tower and hadn’t send any texts. Nat told him to forget about him, to let him have his tantrum. Steve supposed she was right. Tony would talk to him in his right time. But was Steve even capable to stop thinking about Tony Stark? The answer was pretty obvious.
He tried to relax. He was really tired and would’ve preferred to be in his bed right now, but there was no point in dwelling on it now. His friends were here. Thor was enthusiastically telling a story about a mighty feat he did on Asgard to a group of old white men that listen mesmerized. Steve knew Thor well. He was pretty sure the god was fucking with them. The story was awfully similar to Finding Nemo, a movie they saw three days ago.
Clint was chatting with Natasha by the bar. He wasn’t around that much, having a family to look after. Steve just couldn't believe a man like him even had a family. Clint was an Avenger, he had been that very same day fighting with murderous aliens alongside them. Yet unlike any of them, he went home every night to his family. Steve envied him sometimes. He too would like to sleep in the embrace of the person he loved. Even if that person was an asshole.
Steve headed towards Bruce in the end. He seemed pretty shaken up still; recovering from being the Hulk wasn’t an easy feat. It always took a toll on him. He was murmuring something to Rhodey, another one of Steve’s favorite Avengers. They seemed a little preoccupied, as if something on the party was worrying them.
“Hey Rhodes, didn’t see you around today” Steve greeted him with a hug. Rhodey seemed tense but loosened up almost immediately.
“Hi Cap. Yeah, there was some trouble on the northern border. These Canadians keep fucking with our water, man,” he answered, slipping from his beer. Steve nodded, not understanding shit about foreign politics and not wanting to either.
“That’s though. What about you, Bruce? Still a little green?”
Bruce smiled at him and shook his head.
“Nop, fully pink by now. I'm really tired though, today was a shit show.”
Steve could whole heartily relate to that statement.
“Tell me about it. I would rather sleep on Clint’s dirty couch than keep standing here with all this people,” he answered. Bruce laughed in agreement.
“Yeah, you took a pretty bad hit. Tony was furious,” he said. Steve hummed. Bruce couldn’t have listened through the comms because Hulk threw them away mid battle, as per usual. So Tony must’ve been yelling about Steve all day.
“Where is he, anyway? The last time I saw him was in the field,” he asked in the most discreet way possible. Or at least, he tried to. Rhodey looked away smiling, apparently finding Steve’s intents adorable. “You don’t think he’ll ditch this, do you?”
“No, he’s here. I just saw him by the balcony upstairs.” Bruce answered, a little concerned. “He’s really out of it.”
Steve nodded again. The truth was that he wanted to go see Tony. Something bothered him about his attitude; he didn’t want Tony to be angry. It was ridiculous, Steve had saved the man’s life but he was still acting like an offended moron. Why was Tony so pissed? Steve had done the right thing, everyone agreed with him. Even so, Steve wouldn’t be happy until he sorted it out.
He made a little more small talk with Rhodey and Bruce. It would be to rude to just run away immediately after hearing about Tony’s location. Well, maybe not rude, but pretty obvious. Steve needed to maintain some sort of dignity.
After hearing a lot about gamma experiments and military ops, Steve excused himself. He made a beeline for the stairs, avoiding every member of Congress before they could ask for his endorsement. The gala was being held at some businessman's mansion and it was frankly enormous. The stairs led up to another ballroom filled with people. Luckily, Steve could quickly identify the balcony Bruce was talking about and headed that way.
It was a chill night. Not cold per se, but the wind made it uncomfortable to be without a jacket. Sitting on the balcony’s white bench (everything was fucking white) was Tony Stark. He had a wine bottle on his hands and glassy eyes. His gaze seemed lost on the mansion's gardens, tastefully decorated with soft lights. He had reddish cheeks and his mouth was slightly parted. He was drunk.
“Hey,” Steve said, timidly. Tony lazily turned his head to look at him and then went back to the gardens. “Didn't see you around today.”
Steve waited. Tony just ignored him and took a long sip out of his bottle. It was almost empty. Steve sighted and took a seat beside him. Their legs touched and Tony immediately moved away further. Steve’s heart sank.
“I thought you weren’t drinking anymore,” he whispered. It was true, Tony had a few episodes months ago. Nothing too terrible, but enough to grant him a wakeup call. Now, the strong smell of wine worried Steve. How much had he drank?
“Guess I’am now” he slurred, dragging the words. Took the bottle to his lips again, but Steve put a hand over it.
“I think you had enough,” he firmly said. He hated seeing him like this. But Tony shook away his hand and turned around. With a single motion, he drank the whole thing empty. Steve just stared at him, now pissed.
Tony stood up, almost falling in the intent. He dropped the bottle to the ground, making it crash in a million pieces. But he seemed unaffected by it, only emitting a small “ups”.
“Where are you going?” Steve asked, exasperated. Tony was beginning to slowly walk towards the ballroom. Or at least trying to.
“Where do you think?” Tony responded, not quite looking at him. “Need another drink.”
That was it. Steve was a patient man, but he wasn’t going to allow this. He had no idea what was going through Tony’s mind, why was he acting like this. But he needed to stop. This was a public place, with the whole world looking at them. Tony couldn't prance around shitfaced between the public. They were the Avengers for fuck sakes.
“We’re going home,” Steve commanded, getting up. Tony flipped the bird at him and entered the ballroom. Great.
The place was full of people, the music was loud and they were dozens of waitress offering drinks. Just the kind of scene Steve wanted to avoid.
“Tony!” Steve called after him. Tony was already picking up a champagne glass with a wicked smile. He managed to gulp down half of it before Steve snatched it away from his hands.
“Hey! Tha’s mine!” Tony said, anger reaching his clouded eyes.
“You had enough Tony, we’re going home,” Steve said, lowering his voice. They were already a few people looking at them. This was going to go bad.
“Fuck off, Rogers,” Tony said, turning away once again. Steve grabbed his arm, holding him close. Tony took a second to process why he wasn’t moving and then yelled. “Let go!”
People were definitely staring now. Steve considered his options. He could always say there were some kind of emergency and leap out of the balcony, Tony in his arms. But considering Tony’s state, that wouldn’t be very believable .
“I have a situation here. We need to get out,” he spoke to the comms on his wrist. Tony rolled his eyes and tried to yank away his arm. Steve didn’t bulge.
“Jesus Christ, you’re not my nanny,” Tony said, eyes closed, dragging his words.
“No, I’m your friend,” Steve whispered harshly, losing his non existent patience. Tony laughed at the statement, which only made Steve angrier. “Even though you’re not making it very easy right now.”
“Easy? You think is easy being your friend?” Tony laughed, raising his voice. “All hail Captain America! The perfect soldier! The one true hero!”
Tony was already making a scene. The music had discreetly lowered and now every guess at this fucking party was watching them. Steve was fixated on Tony, but he could swear a few phones were recording this thing as well.
“Tony, calm down,” Steve said, wanting all this to be over with.
“Calm down? CALM DOWN?” Tony yelled in his face, making him let go of his arm. Tony took a few steps away, balancing himself as he could. “How can I be calm? You’re a fucking asshole.”
People started whispering. Steve wanted to be swallowed whole and never get up again. He felt a light buzz in his ears. His arm was still hurting from the blast. He wanted nothing more but to go home. Yet here he was, trying to neutralize a wasted Tony Stark in the most snobbish mansion of New York. He should’ve stayed in the ice.
“Let’s go home, please.” Steve begged. As a ray of sunshine, he saw Nat and Bruce rushing through the people. “C’mon Tony.”
“I hate you,” Tony said and it felt like a dagger. He suddenly stepped closer, getting into Steve’s space. He looked like he was about to eat him alive. Tony was furious. “You almost died on me. Why did you do that? WHY?”
Steve shut down. He felt paralyzed. He didn’t know what to respond to that. They were superheroes, they were the Avengers. Almost dying was on their job description. But Tony looked so mad, so betrayed Steve felt lost. Why was Tony so upset? Yeah Steve took a pretty big hit, but Tony was accusing him almost as if he did it on purpose.
As Steve stood there like an idiot, Natasha finally reached them. She separated them both and took Tony aside, hugging him. He quickly succumbed to the embrace and started sobbing on her shoulder. She shushed him gently and took him away, presumably to the car. Bruce came to Steve and patted his shoulder, giving him a sad smile. They got out of the building in silence.
A hundred reporters flashed their cameras at them as they got to the cars. Steve couldn’t care less now. He just wanted to sleep.
The light stabbed him harder that any of Hawkeye's arrows. His head was spinning, throbbing with an unbearable pain. Shit. He'd gone and got drunk again.
Tony took a deep breath, not wanting to open his eyes just yet. The felt nauseated, his stomach aching with a familiar burn. He could still taste the wine on his lips and on the back of his throat. He faintly remembered hugging the toilet, cursing at the red river that pushed out of his mouth.
He opened his eyes, but immediately covered them with his hands. The light was too intense. He let out a low growl, already thinking about the consequences that awaited him.
"Morning, sunshine," someone said beside him, scaring the shit out of Tony. "Sleep well?"
"Nat," he managed to say, mouth completely dry. "Please tell me we didn't sleep together."
Natasha smiled at him and shook her head, amused by Tony's ingenuity. To be fair, she was sitting on his bed with his pajamas on, most likely having spend the night there. Tony snuggled closer to her, resting his head on her chest. He didn't remember much, but Natasha's kind face and strong commands where still in his mind.
"Are you feeling better? You were pretty upset last night," she said, brushing softly his messy curls. He sighed into the gesture, hoping he could just stay in bed forever.
"I feel like shit," he mumbled and put an arm around her."But I guess it still counts as being better than last night."
She hummed and hugged him closer, still absently playing with his hair. Natasha was by far his favorite Avenger. Bruce was awesome and could geek about everything he wanted but he just lacked this simple comfort Nat gave him. She was the smartest of them all, always rising to the occasion. He was happy they could pass that whole undercover agent thing and just be Nat and Tony. They were pretty good friends.
"You screwed up pretty bad last night," she commented, sleep still heavy on her words."You owe some people a couple of apologies."
Tony huffed. He remembered a few flashes of the party. Remembered being so angry. Being paranoid and desperately trying to convince someone of doing something. Jeez, he was really out of it. He knew everyone was going to be disappointed in him. He could already imagine Bruce's sad eyes, Rhodey's tight lips and Steve's judging face.
Oh shit. Steve.
"I don't remember anything more than an embarrassingly long meltdown over Cap's wellbeing," he said, sitting up and rubbing his eyes. That wasn't completely true, he also had a vivid memory of punching a camera. But that wasn't so new.
"Yeah, that was pretty embarrassing. You also puked on Senator Dickinson's shoes."
"Oh well, he's a saggy old republican. You can almost call it justice," he said, which earned him a laugh.
Nat got out of the bed and stretched. The morning light that entered the penthouse windows hung beautifully on her face. She truly was an amazing woman. She spun around and headed towards Tony’s huge dresser. The tower had a room for every avenger, yet Nat insisted on keeping clothes in Tony's. He didn't mind. They’ve had their fare share of long sleepless nights here, just talking about life.
She pulled out an old SHIELD issued sweater and put it on. Tony fell back to the bed, covering his face with a pillow.
"Tony," she called. He just mumbled a weak response and hoped it would be enough. It wasn't. "Tony, we need to talk."
He sighed. He hated talking. No, that wasn't true, he loved talking. He just hated talking about the stuff Natasha was about to bring up.
"Do we really? Can't we pretend I just had too much to drink and you held my hair while I puked? Because if you strip it down to it's essentials, that's what happened."
"No, we can't. You know that." Damn. Tony was sure his bullet proof argument would hold up."You said some pretty disturbing things last night."
Tony remembered crying for hours, yelling about things that didn't make sense. Or they did at the time, he can't tell. It was honestly embarrassing and Tony just wanted to put it behind him.
"Well I can't actually remember it so it doesn't matter," he tried, scratching his head. He really wanted a shower. He must've been reeking of wine and sweat.
Nat went to the bathroom and came out a moment later with a glass of water and some pills. Tony took it, thankful for that sweet sweet hydration. She then sat on his bedside.
"Do you remember crying about Steve?" she asked when he finished the cup.
"Barely." That was a lie. "Guess the guy just got on my nerves." Another lie.
"Cut the crap Tony," Nat countered, no heat behind it. She was too smart for him.
"Okay.” He breathed out. If last night was as half as terrible as he imagined it, there was no harm in being honest. “Maybe the thought of Steve dying was too overwhelming for me. Maybe a I thought a couple of drinks could just numb the feeling.”
She stared at him, analyzing his posture. The Black Widow was the best spy the world had seen and today those deductive skills were being used on Tony. Why couldn’t he just be friends with normal people?
“You said something about that, yeah,” she answered. Tony felt really vulnerable. He didn’t like it one bit. “I get it Tony, you were upset. You almost lost your…” she paused, searching for the right word. “...friend. But you can’t go back to this. The drinking, the self sabotage, the public meltdowns. You’re destroying yourself.”
Tony swallowed, suddenly feeling his throat dry again. Yes, he was supposed to be sober by now. He didn’t have a problem, he didn’t, but things got out of control too many times. The worst episode was when Tony ended up a thousands miles away crashed into a tree inside the Iron Man armor. That time the team sat him down and tastefully asked he stopped dicking around. And he did. He hadn’t had a drink in six months now. He thought he had it under control. Yet seeing Steve free fall to a certain death was too much for him. He felt so scared, so desperate, the only comfort he could find was inside a bottle.
“I’m sorry,” he whispered. He felt so ashamed of himself. Tony Stark wasn’t a failure but he sure felt like one right now. “I’m sorry you had to babysit me like a stupid teenager. Sorry for the scene I surely cause last night. I- I have no excuse.”
Natasha smiled again. She was so warm, so nice to him. He really loved her. She brushed a curl away from his eyes and cupped his cheek.
“Tony, we all love you. But please, stop being such a dick. You worry us.” He smiled back and nodded. “Now go take a shower. I can’t stand you.”
He laughed and nodded again. She got up and went for the door.
“See you at lunch.” And she walked away.
Tony let out a long breath and scratched his head. This was going to be a shitty day. He might as well get started right away.
After a long shower, some heavy mouthwash and just a splash of cologne, Tony was back to normal. Well, as normal as you can be with a hangover the size of the Empire State. But Tony was an expert at nursing a headache without anyone noticing; that’s how he spend most of his twenties, after all.
He also got time to get his shit together. Last night was a blurred memory, so Tony had to do some digging. Pulling up some youtube videos he could make a fairly certain reconstruction. He essentially had yelled at Steve in public, cried on Natasha’s shoulder, puked on two different congressmen and then got into a fight with a cameraman. And that was only in the ten minutes the team took to get him out of the party. After that, Tony asked Jarvis to pull up the videos from his penthouse. They were…. messy. Luckily only Natasha was present, through Bruce briefly visited around midnight to check in. Tony was yelling about death and sacrifice and idiotic plans and none of it made sense. He was an incoherent mumbling drunk and Tony just wanted to die right there.
But even after all that, he was still pissed at Steve. He’d been so reckless, so stupid he almost lost his life for it. Tony just couldn’t piece together why the fuck would Steve screw up like that. The man had no armor, no weapons and no plan. It was really un-Steve like and it drove Tony nuts.
So yeah, maybe apologies over breaking his sobrearity were in order for some people. He just couldn't bring himself to apologize to Steve. He was too angry to do it.
Pepper had called him two minutes after he got out of the shower. She wanted to kill him. Stark Industries’ stock had fell 15 points in the 10 hours the videos were on the Internet. He tried 24 different ways to apologize but Pepper wasn’t hearing any of it. Tony knew she was worried about the drinking, but he avoid thinking about it too much. Adding more stress and anxiousness to Pepper’s life was the last thing he wanted to do.
So he came with a more material apology. He promise to finish up some prototypes for the new clean energy cars they were working on. It wasn’t the most emotional way of asking forgiveness, but it was the only way Tony knew how. He was a practical man.
So he headed to the workshop. The dizziness from the morning had almost disappeared so he was pretty sure he could work as usual. He got in the elevator and started thinking about the sandwich he had left in the minibar. It wasn’t hangover good but it would be enough for now. Tony smiled, imagining his day locked away with his toys, without anyone bothering him.
Until the doors opened and Steve walked in.
“Tony!” he said, surprised to see him in his own goddamned elevator. Tony sighed and looked away. He had no intention of dealing with this now. “You feeling better?”
“Cap,” he greeted, pretending to read the elevator’s buttons. “Big headache but otherwise fine. Not gonna be drinking wine anytime soon.”
As soon as he said it, Steve tensed. Tony instantly knew he said the wrong thing. Steve was a good old fashioned goodie two shoes and public drunk scandals weren’t his thing. He felt a lecture coming his way.
“Yeah about that. Last night you had me- us worried. We thought you stopped drinking.” Surely enough, the lecture had come.
And maybe it was the headache. Maybe it was the hunger. Maybe it was the way Captain America was fucking scolding him for being reckless when not 24 hours ago he was flying blindfolded into a loaded canon. Some, or maybe all of those things, made him snapped.
“Well I did, but this idiot at work really pissed me off” he answered coldly. There were countless times where Steve had the moral ground, but this wasn’t one of them. Sure, Tony had gotten drunk. Sure, that was what was on the news. But Steve almost commited suicide in front of him. And now he was acting all mighty. Tony wouldn’t have it.
“I’m sorry?” Steve replied, eyebrows flying up. “Are you sure you’re in any position to be mad right now?”
“Oh yeah, I'm sure” Tony scoffed, any patience lost, looking directly at him. “Because I'm Tony Stark. I get drunk, I make scenes on national television, I disappoint all my friends. That’s me baby, and I roll with it. But you on the other hand, you’re Captain fucking America. You’re supposed to be centered and grounded. You’re supposed to make the better call. Not fucking lauch yourself onto a motherfucking alien canon!”
“That doesn't just-”
“Don’t you fucking dare!” That was it, Tony was furious again. All the anger, all the rage he felt yesterday when Steve finally opened his eyes returned. “You don’t get to lecture me right now!”
“Tony, I'm not trying to-”
“Then don’t do it.”
“...lecture you. I’m trying to understand. I care about you, I don't wanna see you loose it like last night,” Steve finished finally, voice begging. Good. Tony wanted to make him beg. He wanted him to feel as miserable as he felt.
“You care about me? Hah!” He scorned. “If you cared about me you wouldn’t have risked your life like that.” The elevator felt really heavy all of the sudden. He lowered his voice, staring right into Steve’s eyes. “You wouldn’t have made me watch as your lifeless body fell to the ground.”
And he saw it. He saw the exact moment Captain America lost his cool. The shift in his eyes, the way his whole body tensed up. His jaw clenching. He was now as furious as Tony was.
“And what would you have me do, huh? Leave you to fucking die on that spaceship?” he snapped, anger filling his voice. “You were going blind into a ship we had no intel on, no way of knowing you were going to survive. As always, Iron Man saving the day with a death wish on his back! It gets really old, Tony. Having to save your ass every mission because you can’t seem to control yourself.”
Tony never saw Steve so emotional. Angry, maybe. He could get passionate in the battlefield. But it was never personal, it was never this raw.
“Don’t you turn this around on me, Steve. I know it’s pretty darn easy to blame Tony Stark for everything, but I had things under control…”
“They were about to shoot a cannon at you! Something you didn’t anticipated because you DIDN'T THINK ABOUT IT”
The elevator opened at the R&D floor, scaring the shit out a poor intern. Steve rapidly smashed a button and the door closed again.
“Oh, and you did think about it? Please, tell me, Steve, what was your brilliant plan for stopping this cannon? Capsicle frittata?”
Steve scoffed and threw his arms in the air. “You’re impossible, literally impossible. I save your fucking life…”
“By risking yours!”
“...and you thank me by getting wasted and calling me an asshole. I can’t win, Tony!” Steve was on the bridge of a complete meltdown, his voice was rough and his whole body trembled. He was not used to this much anger. Luckily for Tony, he was.
“Yes you can. You should’ve minded your own goddamn business. I was okay up there, I was ready to- to do whatever it took. The city was at stake.” Tony stared him down, dared him to question him.
"Oh, now I get it! The city was at stake!"
"Yes! I could've saved it!"
"And I was what? Supposed to watch?!"
"YES" Tony yelled, tired of this whole discussion. It was so obvious, so straight forward. Tony's life over Steve's. Why couldn't he just accept it?
Steve just stared back, frowning and thinking about the best comeback. Finally, he looked down and sighed, defeated.
“How could you ask that of me?” He just said, voice so low Tony could barely hear it over his own beating heart. “Do you think I'm even capable of letting you die?”
Tony swallowed. Steve looked so destroyed, so out of his element. Tony wanted to stop this conversation altogether. He didn’t want Steve to suffer anymore, it wasn’t nearly as satisfying as he thought it would be.
“Better me than you,” Tony simply responded, feeling oddly relaxed at the honesty of the statement.
Steve stared at him which such sadness it made Tony’s heart crumble. He slowly shook his head, as if he couldn’t believe what he just heard. Or just didn’t want to believe it.
“No, Tony, that’s ridiculous...”
“No it’s not,” Tony cutted him off. “ You’re Captain America, beacon of hope. You’re the hero this city needs, hell you’re the hero the world needs. People look up to you.”
“People look up to you too…”
“No. I'm Tony Stark, weapons dealer, merchant of death, remember? I'm the drunk avenger who can’t get his head out of his ass long enough to make something good. Everyone knows that. The people-”
“Shut up,” Steve said, closing his eyes. Tony was taken aback by the abruptness of the command. “Shut the fuck up.”
“Steve, c’mon man, you know it's…”
“I said SHUT UP.” Steve ordered, raising his voice. Tony felt instantly silent. “I won’t stand here participating in your pity party. I can’t believe after everything we’ve been through you can think so little of yourself.”
“Don’t patronize me, Steve. I know you think the sa-”
“No, I'm talking now!” He cut him off again. Steve was pissed again. The Tony charm. ”You must be the dumbest most arrogant genius in the world if you think for one second that any of us is gonna leave you to die. That I'm gonna leave you to die!"
“Well rather than risking your own li-”
“Yes, even by risking my life!” Steve yelled, losing all the compustore he had regained. “Don’t you get it? I would do anything to keep you alive! Anything!”
Tony stared at him, unable to process what he was hearing. Steve was fucking nuts. He couldn't understand what happened to him. Tony was right: Captain America was more important to the world than Iron Man. He just was. Why was Steve so riled up? Why would he him, of all people, be his top priority? None of it made sense. Unless…
“But why?” Tony whispered, his body anticipating the answer.
“Because I’m in love with you, you idiot.” Steve finally said.
The world suddenly felt much lighter. A hundred questions opened in his mind. Was he dreaming? No, clearly by the the acute pain in his head he wasn't. But could it be? Steve loved him. Steve Rogers, aka Captain America, loved him. Him! Tony must’ve looked like a gulping fish because Steve was just staring at him funny.
“What do you mean you love me?” he managed to say, feeling dizzy.
Steve shifted, clearly uncomfortable with his sudden outburst.
“Yeah” Steve breathed out, looking at anything but him. “Yeah, I do. I know you don’t feel the same, it’s highly inappropriate. But I do and…”
“Why would it be inappropriate?” Tony cut him off. Steve huffed and looked down.
“Because of the team, the dynamics... Look, let’s just forget about this, okay?” he pleaded.
“I don’t want to forget about this” Tony responded quickly.
Steve stared at him, trying to read his expression. Tony wasn’t sure why there were so far apart right now. He just felt paralyzed.
“What do you want? Because yesterday you seemed pretty mad at me.” he said, almost defiant.
Yes, Tony had been angry. Yesterday he could’ve punched Steve in the face. But now, all that seemed distant. None of that mattered now. The fights, the disagreement, the reckless endangerment. It had travelled way to the back of Tony’s mind, like a faint reminder. All he could think about now was Steve’s lips. Suddenly, he had no more doubts.
“This” he said and finally took action.
He closed the short distance between them and kissed him. Yes, he kissed Steve motherfucking Rogers. And it felt amazing. Steve wrapped his arms around him and dragged him closer, his whole body against him. Tony never felt so alive in his life. His mind seemed to be travelling everywhere, flying with pure ectasis.
He ran his hand through Steve’s golden locks and bit his lower lip. The exquisite moan he got out of Steve was reassurance enough to move to his jaw, his neck, his chest…
“Just so we’re clear.” he said between kisses, not sure Steve was actually listening. “I love you too.”
He did. Fuck, he did.