When Pepper stormed from the workshop, strawberry-blonde ponytail swishing angrily after her, Tony could finally breathe again. She was the last one to give him the talk, and the one who caused him the most pain, the strongest sense of betrayal and abandonment.
Tony had been holding back tears since Natasha had left, and that was three visits ago. Now he was alone and knew no one else would come down, so he allowed himself to cry.
In the beginning, when Barton came, he was happy and found it a little funny to receive the shovel talk from him, but when Barton went on and on, listing explicitly the ways he would kill him, it stopped being funny. Tony tried to find some smirk on Barton’s face, some laughter in his eyes, some evidence that he was joking, but there was none. Barton’s body language had been aggressive, threatening, his eyes warmed only with bloodlust, and his tone venomous.
After that, the realization that Barton was entirely serious, that he meant every horrible thing coming from his mouth, Tony felt shaken. Tony would never hurt Steve, at least not on purpose. Couples have fights sometimes, don't they?
After twenty minutes another Avenger came down, then another, and the next. Each one of them was furious and spewed threats at him, each one more vicious than the last.
Tony looked forlornly at his long-empty liquor cabinet; he had thrown out all of his drinks two years ago. He had promised himself then that he would stay sober. After that, he’d spent at least a month in withdrawal, shaking and puking, and just generally feeling terrible. It was during that period that he and Steve had started bonding out more, building a friendship and then more. After a nasty battle one day, when Tony had retreated to his lab with his right arm and leg in casts, Steve had asked him out, and Tony said yes with a big smile and bright eyes that were repeated on Steve’s face, hope and happiness spreading through him.
Tony made his way to the couch in his workshop and sat down. He knew that it was normal for friends to do that, to give shovel talks, but did they have to be so cruel? Did there have to be so many?
Natasha was one of the worst, threatening to drown him. Tony could feel a shiver start on his spine and panic come to the front of his mind, making his breathing and heart accelerate. He could feel the water on his face, in his lungs…
He fought down the memory; he wasn't in Afghanistan anymore. He was home, if not any safer.
Did Steve receive shovel talks too? Tony doubted it; all of them said how worthless he was compared to Steve, that he was lucky Steve chose him to marry. Did Tony believe that, that he wasn’t worthy of Steve’s love? He didn't know. He didn't know anything anymore.
He’d thought that Pepper was his friend. Shouldn't she give Steve the talk instead of Tony? And the rest of the team, did they truly think that he would cheat on Steve? That Tony was a liar and scum? That he was just playing with Steve’s heart?
Tony had been a playboy, but that was before the cave and the Ten Rings. And he had never cheated on his former lovers; it was Ty that had cheated on him, that broke his heart.
Tony leaned back on the sofa until he was lying on it, the softness of the couch not doing much in the way of comfort. All the happiness of the previous day, when he and Steve announced their engagement to the team, vanished from him and an inconsolable sadness took its place.
He felt alone, more alone than he had after the death of his parents. He’d thought he had a family now, people to have his back, people to support him when he needed it. People to believe in him.
It was silly to be so frightened because of shovel talks, but he couldn't help it. The tears started pouring from his eyes, fast and faster, his body shaking, until he was sobbing, pained noises being wrenched from his chest. He had no one to stand by him.
And that's how Steve found him later.
After lunch with the team, Steve went accompanies Tony down to the workshop, gave him a kiss, and said he’d be back soon.
Steve had a lot of things to do, so he took one of Tony’s cars and went to the mall.
First, he went to the book shop to restock his drawing materials. There were so much more options and colors than there was in the forties; he took a long time to choose what he wanted.
Then, he went to the expensive coffee shop to buy the brand of grains that Tony loved and spent almost twenty minutes listening the vendor’s tale about coffee. Seriously, he didn't need that; he knew what Tony liked, so he told politely to the vendor to fuck off.
He next needed to buy things for the small engagement party. As he went down the aisle, he could not help but notice a sleeveless Captain America shirt on display. He had to buy it for Tony, so he stood in line for fifteen minutes to pay for the shirt.
After that was the more difficult part: what he was going to buy for the party. He went to the mall’s market and started looking for things, but after ten minutes of trying to decide what to buy and getting nowhere, he asked for help. The woman who assisted him knew everything about every kind of party, so after an hour, he got out of the shop, carrying sparkling drinks, small decorations, and expensive foods.
Then he was ready to go back home. Back to his fiancé.
A smile crept on his face, and he started giggling, not caring that the people around him were staring at him like he was a maniac. His smile turned devious when he spotted a store that was sort of hiding in the corner.
It was a sex shop.
Two years ago, Steve wouldn't have even dreamed of entering one of those shops, but now, after meeting Tony, he couldn't not enter. Steve hadn't known he’d had any kinks, but the first time Tony put his arm around Steve’s shoulders without wearing the Iron Man armor, he knew he was a goner. Tony had to be on tiptoes to reach Steve and even then, Tony couldn't fully put his arms around Steve
So he had a size kink; sue him.
He entered the store and looked around. There was a wide variety of dildos, the most obscene one being a huge green dick that was supposed to belong to the HULK. Steve had to shake his head to get the image off his mind.
He turned to look at the gags; there were a lot of those as well, but then, he saw what he hadn’t known he wanted, needed. It was a gag in a pacifier design.
When Steve joined the Avengers, SHIELD gave him everyone’s files. He was surprised to see that he was older than everyone on the team, minus Banner, if you excluded the time Steve stayed on the ice and Thor's immortality.
Clint and Natasha both were twenty-five, Tony was twenty-eight, and Bruce was thirty-nine. Steve was thirty-four. It didn't matter to him at the time, but when he started dating Tony... it took control of his mind.
On their first date, he called Tony baby. To Steve’s amusement, Tony’s cheeks went red. It was a silly, cute name to most couples, but when Steve said it, he really meant it. Tony was his baby.
It took Steve some time to get Tony call him “Daddy” when they had sex, but when Tony said it for the first time, Steve had come hard and intense inside Tony, even blacking out for a few minutes. When he was able to move, he found Tony smiling softly at him and petting his hair. Since then, they had been roleplaying a little.
So he had an ageplay/daddy kink; sue him.
After Steve left the store with his new gift for his little fella, he went back to the car, put all his bags in the trunk and went back to the tower.
He was caught in horrible traffic on the way back. When he parked again in the tower’s garage, it was almost dinner time.
When the doors of the elevator opened on the communal floor, Steve could hear laughter.
He followed the noise to the kitchen, but he didn't enter. He peered in, looking for Tony, and when he didn't found him, he went to the workshop.
Steve thought it was strange that Tony was still down there. He always came up to greet him and help the team make dinner.
When the workshop doors opened, Steve felt a shiver ran down his spine; something was wrong.
The workshop was dark, but not completely. Some small blue light was coming from the ceiling and soft yellow ones were coming from the walls.
Steve understood Tony’s moods. With these colors, his baby was looking for comfort.
Steve walked a bit further, but still, could not see Tony. He looked at the ceiling to call JARVIS, but then he saw some bare toes peeking from the couch.
Steve smiled a little at the sight and went to the sofa.
When he saw Tony, his heart felt like it skipped a beat.
Tony was lying on his back, holding a pillow to his chest like his life depended on it, and his face was pinched like he was in pain. His eyes were shut tight and puffy; his cheeks covered in tear tracks.
What happened? Tony had been so happy when Steve left after lunch. Steve crouched down in front of him.
“Tony, sweetheart, are you awake? What happened?” Steve said in a soft voice, and with one hand he gently turned Tony’s face in his direction.
Tony slowly opened his eyes and fixed them on Steve's
Steve just barely stopped himself from flinching. His baby’s big, honey-colored eyes were bright red, and when he recognized Steve, his face contorted with devastation and tears started to pool in his eyes.
“Steve,” Tony said in a whisper, “you have to leave; I don’t wanna hurt you.”
Steve’s blood froze. “What are you talking about, Baby? Why would you hurt me?”
“They said that I will hurt you, that you don’t deserve a fuck-up like me.” Tony hiccupped, and the tears on his eyes started falling.
“Pepper threatened me; she said she would burn the company to the ground if I hurt you. I can’t let her do that Steve; the company is the only thing my father gave to me, and I can’t fa-fail.” Tony was bawling.
Steve put the pieces together and was furious. His team, his friends gave Tony the most serious, terrifying shovel talk ever. Steve relaxed his face as to not scare the small brunet, who was still babbling.
“…and I don’t wanna be pinned down by Mjölnir like Thor said he did with Loki. Loki is a god, Steve. I’m just human; it will crush my reactor, shred my heart…”
Steve was done; he had to fix this.
When he’d asked if Tony would marry him, his baby had been so insecure, so afraid he would not be good enough for Steve that Steve had to put him on his lap and point out every good thing that Tony was and had done. After forty-five minutes, Steve said he had to stop because he was losing his voice, and there were so many good things to say that they would be there for days. Tony just let out a cute little chuckle and accepted the silver band that Steve put on his finger.
And now, their so-called friends undid all the work Steve had accomplished in making Tony believe that he was good. They made his baby question his own self-worth.
Tony went quiet, and Steve looked at him. Tony was pulling the pillow up to hide his face in it. Steve wouldn't have any of that.
“Baby, here, look at me,” Steve said, voice soft but firm.
Tony turned his head at him, but he still had the pillow concealing his mouth.
Steve gently unclenched Tony’s fingers from the pillow, took it from him, and lifted his head to put the pillow under it.
“I’m sorry Steve. I’m being silly, aren’t I?” his baby said with a small voice, and it alone told him that Tony wasn't being silly at all. He was really scared.
“Do you trust me?” Steve asked.
Tony frowned in confusion, not understanding the non-sequitur but still responding truthfully. “I trust you until the last day of my life and the days after it.”
Steve felt his heart burn with affection. "Then trust me when I say that you have nothing to apologize for; it’s them who need to say sorry to you. And there is no one on this planet that makes me happier than you. It will be a pleasure to be your husband."
Tony gave a small smile at that and nuzzled his head into the pillow.
Steve leaned forward and claimed Tony’s lips in a passionate kiss.
After they separated, Tony started patting at Steve’s face. Before Steve could ask what he was doing, Tony answered him. “I messed you up with my tears”
Steve’s eyes went soft. “Don’t bother your pretty little head about it.”
Tony yawned, and Steve saw that his eyes were at half-mast. “Baby, why don’t you rest for a while, you look exhausted.”
“Don’t wanna,” Tony whined.
“Come on,” Steve said, stroking Tony’s soft hair. “Daddy has something to do but will be back soon”
Steve saw Tony’s face turn pink; he still felt shy about calling Steve “Daddy” outside the bedroom.
“‘Kay,” Tony said, already closing his eyes and trying to find a comfortable position. Steve helped him to turn so he would be lying down on his belly with his head at the side, facing the sofa cushion. Steve leaned over him and kissed his damp cheek.
Now that Tony couldn't see him, he let the anger wash over his face.
He stood up and marched to the elevator as if HYDRA was waiting for dinner instead of his team.