Tony's suit is cracked in half and slammed into the ocean, and something heavy lands on top of him.
He can't breathe.
Everything's burning. He needs to get out of the suit, get onto the surface and breathe but he can't, he can't, he can't and it's engulfing him. The fear makes it worse, he's panicking and kicking, squirming and pushing while getting even more desperate. He doesn't know how deep he is, can't see in the salty darkness, but he knows that his throat is closing up and bubbles are forming and his mouth is opening and fuck, is that blood?
Tony barely makes out the coppery taste in the back of his tongue, and it seems to do something because he silently screams and twists, sets himself free and shit, he needs air needsairneedsairneedsair-
He reaches the surface and sucks in a greedy amount of air, his chest heaving and coughing makes him dip back under and bob up again. He looks down, pressing a hand to his side while treading water with one arm because there's a huge piece of metal sticking out of him. He can't see the shore, he's panting and he's cold and he can't feel his feet and dammit, his armor is in the water.
A wave suddenly pulls Tony back under, and he's not prepared because he instinctively sucks in and water burns his nose and eyes and throat. He desperately swims, clashes against the wild waves and manages to stick his head back up and take a breath but he goes under again and everything's confusing and scary.
He feels dizzy when he finds the surface again. His eyelids are getting heavy and his head is getting foggy. Does he take the metal out? He doesn't remember what to do and it scares him. He tries to call out, but a horrifying rasp of garbled letters comes out instead, and now he can feel the salty water seeping into the wound, and without thinking Tony yanks because the metal and it hurts and fuck, it gets worse. Tony wants to black out.
He doesn't know how long he stays in the water, battling with darkness, doesn't know how much blood he's losing, doesn't know what happened and doesn't know anything.
He feels ready to give up when the water covers him again, he feels his throat go slack and he can feel his lunges failing to breathe. He gasps rapidly, short intakes of air, and suddenly everything's black, he's cold, cold, wet, he tastes copper and his hand feels heavy with a thick liquid and he can't-
Something grabs him and hauls him up onto a flat, metal floor, and there's a thump against his chest. A steady stream, one, two, three-
"Come on, Stark, come on- there ya' go, good. Good. Come on, let it all out, there ya' go."
Tony feels a stream of water spilling out, sliding down his cheek and a warm hand tilts his head, and a cool hand pushes Tony's hair back and one, two, three, one, two, three-
"Come on, COME ON, you can breathe, there ya' go, breathe, breathe an' stay calm, you're safe darling, breathe." Warm lips presses against Tony's wet ones and air enters his lunges, enters his body-
Tony chokes, retches and coughs, spits out the water and bile and blood and sucks in air, he can breathe- "Cold," he rasps, his body jerking worringly, "Cold, c-cold, cold-" Something warm covers Tony and he breathes shaky breaths, and the thumping on his chest stops and a warm and cool hand rubs his cheeks and suddenly a sharp pain at his side makes him squirm and cry out.
"Darlin', it's okay, they're cleanin' it, the wound. It's okay, it's okay, come on. Shush. It's fine."
Tony cries, feels another layer of wetness travel down his face but hands catch them and wipe them away. It hurts, hurts, hurts, and his body is still cold despite the warm thing covering him, his face is still kind of numbed despite the comforting hands and-
"Tony, darlin', it's okay, please, it's gonna be okay, come on. Focus on me. They're almost done, Tony, please, it's okay-"
Tony arches his back in an attempt to get the pain away, but hands push him back down and he shouts in pain, cries and cries and cries, it's pathetic but it hurts.
"You're doin' so good, darlin', so good. Shh, it's almost over, it's okay. Shh. It's okay, love, it's okay." Warm lips are on Tony's again and he chokes out a small whimper, his hands twitching and the lips pull away and-
"TONY, God, Tony, fuck, darlin' it's okay, it's- Do somethin'! He ain't gettin' better- Tony, shh. It's okay."
Tony feels warm wetness on his side, dripping onto the floor and tastes blood in his mouth again. It's obvious they failed or messed up on closing the wound because he jerks again and he feels dark and woozy again and it hurts.
"Tony, please- It's okay. We’re okay. I'm right here, darlin'. You're doin' good. Good, good, shh. It's okay. Shh. There you go, shh." A warm and cool hand covers his hands this time, squeezes and Tony twitches.
"Hurts," Tony whispers, a trickle of blood going down his cheek and to the floor, "Hurts."
Bucky's warm and cool hands rub his hands and one shifts away to wipe the blood away. "It's gonna be okay. They stopped the bleedin'. Stay with me, alright? We gotta get you to undergo surgery. There might be internal bleedin'. Shh."
Tony allows himself to close his already blank eyes and darkness and comfort washes over him.
Bucky stays next to Tony in the helicarrier, watches as a desperate nurse accidentally reopens the wound after a slip, watches Tony choke and cry. He's with him when the helicarrier lands and lifts Tony's unconscious but alive body onto a wheeler, waits outside of the operating room and is there when the doctor comes out and tells him it was an easy success.
Bucky wanders into Tony's hospital room and sits down on the chair he pulls over, next to Tony and the machines. Tony finally looks peaceful, lashes fanned on his well structured cheek bones, stress creases and folds gone. Bucky holds one of Tony's hands carefully with both hands.
He waits for a while, about 3 hours, before Tony breathes out sharply and opens his eyes.
Bucky scoots closer and strokes Tony's cheek when Tony frowns and smacks his mouth, wets his lips again with a flash of tongue.
"What happinen'?" Tony slurs, eyes sluggishly opening and closing, head lolling to the side to stare at Bucky with unfocused eyes. Those beautiful, damned eyes make Bucky lower his head and huff, restraining a sob of relief. "You're in a hospital."
Tony nods slightly and his eyelids droop as he murmurs, "I thought I was dead." "So did I," Bucky blurts, pressing a kiss to Tony's cheek, " I was scared shitless. Then saw ya' floatin' in water that looked redish. I could breathe after that."
Tony stays quiet before saying, "Another thing to add to my growing list of PTSD triggers." Bucky barks out a crude laugh and Tony snorts.