"Not now Tony, just... Just leave me alone alright?"
Tony thought he made Steve happy. He thought their relationship was going pretty good. Sure they had only been officially dating for a few months, but that didn't mean it wasn't serious.
After their blissful honeymoon phase where they made the other Avengers sick with their constant making out everywhere, small arguments happened. It was never anything serious or big. Just arguing briefly over socks left on the floor or snoring at night.
Normal couple fights. Tony knew about those, he had them with Pepper as well. He learnt that they were pretty normal as long as you didn't let them control the relationship. (Pepper's words not his.)
They dated and spent lazy Sundays curled up on the couch together.
It was amazing.
Until Tony fucked up.
He had been waiting for the moment. From the day he started dating Steve, people had been warning him not to hurt the Captain. Like he wasn't already terrified of doing that.
Tony just knew things would end in flames. He would annoy Steve until the breaking point and be pushed aside. It was inevitable.
Natasha bet Clint ten bucks that they wouldn't last a month.
Sure she was probably joking, but Tony almost agreed with her.
The engineer enjoyed his relationship and worked hard to postpone the moment he'd end up alone again. Because if Steve left, the whole team would follow.
Maybe Bruce would stay for a bit, until he grew tired of Tony as well.
Everyone did eventually.
It all came to an end about a week ago. Tony had performed some risky manoeuvres during their mission to save the last civilians in a collapsing building.
Of course Captain Rogers was happy with the saved lives. But Steve was worried sick about his boyfriend who had survived the disaster due to some sort of miracle.
Tony didn't understand what the big deal was, he'd do it again any day.
Steve needed a moment to cool off.
"Not now Tony, just... Just leave me alone alright?"
That's how it ended.
Tony had nodded in acceptance and walked out of the conference room not quite realising what had happened yet.
That night when he sat on their- well, on his bed, waiting for Steve to come up, it dawned on him.
Of course. This was it. They were over. And here he was, waiting up for the boyfriend that just dumped him.
Jarvis said he had a message from Steve, but Tony didn't want to hear it. Kind sweet Steve was probably just making sure Tony was alright after being dumped and he really didn't need to hear that right now.
He wasn't, by the way. He really wasn't alright.
If there was anything Tony was good at it was avoiding his problems until they either went away or bit him in the ass.
So he locked himself in his workshop and closed off contact with the outside world.
Once he came up he knew he would be alone, the others would have left ages ago. So until he went up, he could pretend they were still there. It was kind of like Schrödinger's Cat. As long as he didn't go upstairs his ex teammates were and weren't there at the same time.
He was trying to fool himself, but what else could he do?
Having the time to organise his thoughts, Tony realised that he really loved Steve. As in, he really didn't want him to leave and kinda wanted to spend the rest of their lives together.
Such a shame he was a useless shit who just got sent away.
So he would just have to change that then.
Maybe following all the advice Pepper once gave him would be a good start. He'd follow Steve's advice, but for some reason Steve never told him how to change. Which was weird since it was basically all Tony ever talked about with Pepper.
A shrink first. That wasn't too difficult, he just called one of the many many cards Pep ever gave him and set an appointment.
What next? The alcohol, definitely.
The bottles hidden everywhere in the workshop were located and drained with the help of the bots. But without Jarvis. He had been muted since he kept trying to play Steve's messages.
Get a shrink, check. Stop drinking, check. Stop flirting, he could totally do that. What else... He'd have to be nicer, work harder, make time for Steve a lot, and follow orders.
That wasn't too bad...
After a week of being locked away in his workshop and creating a full plan of attack, Tony finally got out.
He took a long bath first, the shower in the workshop only went as far, shaved, and got dressed in some newer jeans and a nice white plain shirt. No holes, no old band logos.
When he walked into the kitchen only Bruce and Natasha were there, both surprised but not both showing it.
"Tony? Are you alright? Everyone has been trying to contact you for days..." Bruce said worriedly while holding a steaming mug of tea close.
Instead of smirking, Tony smiled softly and apologised. "I muted Jarvis, I didn't mean to miss anything important. Was there a mission?"
"No... Just, we were worried, that's all..." Doctor Banner muttered surprised and indeed worried for his friend's sanity.
Natasha wasn't so subtle and simply stared at Tony with a raised eyebrow. "So you're gonna lock yourself away anytime you and Steve fight?"
Tony frowned and stayed silent, he didn't quite know how to answer and just grabbed his mug of coffee and left again.
They expected more fights? Maybe he was still missing something. Well, if Steve even considered taking him back, he wouldn't argue again of course. Tony would just have to agree with everything.
It didn't take long to find Steve, he was sitting on the balcony of what used to be their floor, sketching.
"Hey." He whispered when Tony sat down next to him. "I-"
"Steve?" Tony interrupted softly and swallowed thickly. "Please let me apologise first? I know you have no reason to forgive me, but I promise to follow your orders next time and not fly off on my own. I've done a lot of thinking over the last week and realised what a horrible boyfriend I've been. I'm so sorry. But I can change. I promise, I'll change. I've thrown away the alcohol in the workshop and I've already made an appointment with a psychiatrist. Just please give me another chance? Please Stevie, Steve, sorry. Whatever you want I'll do it I just- please..." Tony chocked on his words and pushed back the tears treathening to spill, clearing his throat a little and staring down at his hands. "I promise I'll be whoever and whatever you want, if I could please have another chance."
It was very very silent once Tony stopped talking until suddenly a warm arm wrapped around his shoulders and pulled him close. "Oh god Tony... Who did this to you?" Steve whispered while pulling Tony almost on his lap, sketchbook long forgotten.
"No please. I know you're going to apologise again and I can't stand it. Tony, I'm not leaving you. I love you, you silly amazing wonderful insecure lovable funny idiot genius." Steve said while gently cupping Tony's face with one hand and looking into those beautiful brown eyes. "I missed you."
Tony didn't know what to say or what to think. So he simply said "I was only gone a week."
"Which was six days too long."
"I don't understand..."
Steve's expression was so sad and filled with love at the same time, it was almost a bit of pity, but not quite. Empathy maybe...
"When I told you to go, I meant from the room at that moment. I needed a bit of time to think and get my thoughts straight. I had to separate my view as your Captain from my emotions as your boyfriend. Next thing I know you've locked yourself away and Jarvis won't let me in."
They're both silent again while Tony let's that information sink in.
"You didn't dump me?" He asks softly, fearing the answer but needing to know.
"Do you think you'd come to the same conclusion had this happened today?"
Surprisingly, the psychologist that Tony spoke to now was actually a success. The elder woman didn't take any bullshit which Tony respected.
Visiting her was the only change that stuck. After discussing everything with Steve, Tony decided he did want to talk to a shrink. After all, that hadn't been behaviour healthy and he knew it.
Tony took a moment to think about the question and shook his head eventually. "No, I don't think I could ever come to that conclusion ever again."
The psychologist smiled at the confident man sitting before her.
A soft smile was playing around his lips as he twirled his engagement ring around his finger.
He looked happy.