“Were you going to tell me ?”
Bruce is tired. Exhausted. Delirious.
Between them both, Tony is the story teller. His songs so perfectly crafted, his novel a triumph, something unheard of for a musician, but of course, Tony will always be Tony, the talented one, the brilliant one.
But yes, Bruce is tired, tired enough to make silly lists of synonyms in his head. Tired enough to rest against the elevator panel instead of standing straight.
Tired enough to disturb the equilibrium of it all, words slurring a little.
“Tell you what ?”
Tony is not looking at him. He's hurt. Hurt because of Bruce, of course. Because where he is all bite and snark, Tony, with people he loves, is softness and open heart. Bruce had thrown a few comments during the night, always in public, knowing pretty well Tony would never start anything in front of people.
Tony respected him. Tony loved him.
“About Steve ?”
The walk in the hotel corridor makes him a little dizzy. He hates Vegas, he hates the smell of booze permeating the night, he hates the smoke in the air, he hates the sounds, and the lack of sky. Tony glances at him when he trips, and almost reaches to steady him, but Bruce jerks away, and the people they pass look at him with something like fear, or pity.
People would give his Dad the same look.
The suite is a little ridiculous. Nothing like what Tony would pick for himself, but it's probably the best Steve could find.
Tony closes the door leading to the bathroom when he sees Bruce sitting in front of the mini bar.
It's not that he wants to know.
It's not that he wasn't painfully aware.
In his pocket, his phones hasn't stopped vibrating. Natasha, maybe. He's pretty sure she knows, just by watching the way he insulted Tony all night, that he's going to make a scene.
Vodka, he decides, still sitting on the floor.
When Tony emerges from his shower, he's closed off. He doesn't look at Bruce, now sitting on the couch, shoes left with his jacket on the floor. Bruce watches him move, listens when he calls room service for a kettle, watches him while he tries to find what will hurt the most, what will finally make the mask fall.
“So what, Pepper and you, that was fake ?”
It's not his best, but it hurts Tony, he sees it, and he regrets it immediately. Tony lifts his eyesbrows, and then pointedly fixes the tiny bottles, empty on the coffee table. He goes back to his tea, and Bruce feels ashamed, but ready to hit again.
He doesn't need to.
“You sure drink a lot tonight, Doctor Banner. Care to share with the class what's going on ?”
Bruce huffs. He hates that he does. His father would do the same. God they really are the same.
“To answer your complete ludicrous question, no, my relationship with Pep was not fake. Again, care to share what's going on in your head ?”
“You lie to me.” Bruce tries to stand up, but he just plops back on the couch, arms on his knees, eyes closed to avoid the nausea. “You... you said these things but...”
“But what ?” Tony's voice is ice. Not that Bruce can blame him. He's been sober for what ? Ten years now ? And had a whole childhood of himself filled with dealing with a drunk belligerent man pretending his outbursts were out of love.
“It's all about you.”
Tony doesn't pretend he doesn't know what this is about. And maybe that's what hurts the most. Not Steve's welcome, earlier in the day. Not his voice, in the audio version of the book Bruce had purchase the week prior, trying to be a good friend. Not the way his fucking voice would turn buttery soft and honey sweet when talking about Tony.
Tony, Tony, Tony.
At every corner of Steve's tell all memoirs about his life, there was Tony.
“This fucking book, it's a love declaration for the world to see.” Tony's lips are thin, and he's holding his mug too tight. He has one leg crossed in front of him, one hand resting on the counter behind him. He's ready to fly. “All Steve can talk about. You. The years when he thought he hated you. The years spent yearning for his friend. For his best friend. All over it, his love for you is all over it.”
“His best friend, yes. We are friends, there's nothing new.”
“Look me in the eyes, and tell me you were never more.”
When Tony finally looks at him, the ice in his gaze leaves a bad taste, like dust, like ashes in his mouth.