Deep breaths and long, long nights of sleepless work, the usual.
After Pepper was officially out of his life, he had gone back to a number of bad habits, and that number was four.
Number one: alcohol, number two: sex, number three: spending day and night working on different suits and enhancements.
Number four… drunk texting Steve
He was still not over what had happened the last time they saw each other, he understood where Steve was coming from, but he really couldn’t be the bigger man in this situation, the one incident that had singlehandedly driven his already pathetic life down a deep, dark and cold rabbit hole was caused by someone that he was now defending.
Deep down he knew that Barnes was more broken than him, that he was not in control of himself, but he couldn’t bring himself to stop thinking about it, hoping that somehow getting some kind of justice for it would bring him peace.
At the same time he was aware that his death toll was probably higher than his, that he was responsible for thousands of innocent lives being lost. The merchant of death, it haunted him, and that probably haunted the Winter Soldier too.
But he still couldn’t be the bigger man, he couldn’t be the one who made a sacrifice, he had lost enough, Bruce had left, Pepper had left, and now half of the avengers had also left. They weren’t being the bigger man, how ridiculous “what if we are told to do something that is wrong?” then we just don’t do it! When he had to step outside the law and break the rules, he did, and if he could so can they, when the time called for it. There was no need to make such a big deal out of this, and the reason why this had become such a big deal was also because of him.
He had lost enough, and he wasn’t about to let anyone take anything else.
That being said… after about two months, he picked back up on the habit, one night, after his third consecutive night of sex alcohol and science, he picked up that phone and spilled his heart out, like he used to do back then.
It had all started with him trying to teach Steve how texting and phones worked, but after hours of chatting it had become sort of a ritual, that he would talk to Steve about the way he felt, and Steve would talk to him… and neither one of them would acknowledge anything said once they were face to face.
He had his heart to heart conversations with Bruce but that didn’t happen often because Bruce wasn’t the feelings type of guy, surprising right? One time, he fell asleep when he talked about it. And honestly he felt bad, Bruce was another person who had lost everything, probably more than anyone else, he suspected that Bruce had put up that wall because anything that could remind him of himself would make him hulk out, no, their relationship was better off in jokes and science and understanding each other with little words needed. And he missed him even more than he missed her.
But where to start, with the way he felt, out of all of these emotions, which one would he put up first?
-you are an idiot
Aaand send… off to a good start!
-Tony, is everything alright?
-welll…. That depends on your deffintion of alright, does pantless in a lab unable to recall what day it is or what I’ve been doing for the last week qualify as alright? Don’t worry no earth shattering situation cap, I was just wondering why the fuck would you pic such a shit phone to give me
Steve took some time to reply.
-Bucky is back to cryogenic sleep, it was his own choice, he says that until he stops being dangerous, is best for him to stay asleep
-it wasn’t him… what he did… he was not himself
And you know that
They said almost at the same time.
-That’s why you helped me, isn’t it?
-no, I helped you because I wouldn’t let them rot in that cell… and because if he goes bonkers again is best to have a big chunk of people around to take care of him
Again, he took time to respond.
-Clint said he wanted to apologize for what he said about you, he was angry and didn’t think straight.
-oh, good to know, kind of over that c, I went to visit him a while ago, gave his kids some toys… he apologized in person and so did i
-Oh, I’m glad.
There was a long pause
-so why are you pant-less in your lab and unable to recall what you did in the last week?
-not sure, I think I might have set them on fire
-WELL WHAT ELSE IS NEW? What exactly do you not understand about my current situation??
-… Well for one… Why you wanted to talk to me of all people.
-oh and who should I talk to instead? Bruce? Pepper?
-the last time I was like this he kicked my ass and took my suit… and he can’t really do that now
-you wouldn’t be you if you weren’t, in any case I don’t… think it’s right to bother him with all this, he has his own problems right now
-Have you talked to the kid? they call him Spiderman.
-oh, yeah a couple of times, when I was sober, he is a really great kid, he is smart and had a way of dealing with things
-Reminds me of someone I know.
-great idea! Boost my ego, lord knows that’s the quintessential problem I have, what would I do without you to remind me of my various dashing talents?
- I didn’t mean it like that! You have a lot in common, maybe you should spend more time with him, that might help you feel better.
Both of you, you are his hero.
-Did you hear him? “Mr. Stark said this and this and that, guys I really have to impress Mr. Stark”
-well I did give him a student grant… and a suit
-you did… um, can I ask you something?
-when you had the chance… to hide who you were… why didn’t you?
-because, eventually people would find out and because secrets invite discovery, and if I wasn’t able to take what came with my actions, whichever consequences there may be… then im no better than I was when I was the merchant of death. also I didn’t feel like it
-do you ever regret it?
-no, I regret many things, but not that,, I regret, selling nuclear weapons, I regret letting so many people die when I was trying to save the day, I regret not beign able to have closure with my dad…
-you know I wish I could be on your side
-no you don’t, we are never on the same side, we only get on the same side when theres some big baddie that we need to take down, and only if that big baddie isn’t your big buddy… cap, do you really think that if we were told to do something that wasn’t right I would do it? I went against order twice right after I signed. That was the whole point of ironman remember? To not put dangerous weapons in the hands of people with agendas.
-and what if you don’t have all the information?
-I always have all the information. I don’t remember doing everything the council decided we should do back when we responded to shield, in fact, I can very vividly recall disposing off a nuke that they had directed to new York, remember that? It was kind of a big deal I almost died, it was the whole reason why imade ultron and then vision, sort of what caused a big part of this mess, remember all of that?
-Of course I remember…Do you think we are safe now?
-well… safer than we would be without vision, nowhere near as safe as we would be if ultron hadn’t been a catastrophic failure
-What about Thor?
-what about thor? He himself said that his brother was not like that, that whatever he had seen had turned him ten times crazier
-It’s his brother, you should take that with a grain of salt.
-oh should i? because from what I’ve heard as shady as he was, his general aspiration was to take the throne not destroy an entire realm to ruel over the ashes, seems awfully contrived
-So what will we do when the time comes?
-suit up! Hopefully there are a bunch more guys like thor out there, that would be good… and try to take things somewhere else, I don’t really have much planned, not enough info
-You have done a lot with what you have… Listen, about Ultron, I know you were coming from the right place… And, I would be a huge hypocrite if I didn’t tell you what I told Wanda: If you hadn’t tried that, we wouldn’t have vision, you were trying to save people and you couldn’t save everybody, but perhaps on the long run you made the number smaller.
-that’s one way to put it, one hell of a way to rationalize it too, next thing you’ll be telling me that back then I wasn’t really me and I shouldn’t be held responsible for my actions for that reason
-Well then good thing that the families of the people you have killed didn’t have super-suits to come and kill you for it!
They were both silent for a long time.
-I shouldn’t have said that
-I hit a nerve… but now that you mention it, there was this guy who tried to kill me with a supersuit because I had apparently killed his family, not sure if it was true but what gives, I killed many families
-What happened to him?
-he blew up his suit while he was in it
-honestly I was a bit busy trying to deal with radiation poisoning so ididn’t pay much attention to the whole “guy with suits trying to kill me” for a while
And then I had a virtual heart to heart with my dad… that was all very confusing too
- It seems like you are always dealing with something.
Tony let out a sigh.
-I’m not going to try to kill him
that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t like to,
-I know. I appreciate that.
-I refuse to believe that there isn’t a solution.
-Steve, people don’t recover from shit like that, it’s not the kind of thing that leaves you.
-You two have more on in common than one would initially think… and I refuse to believe you can’t recover either.
-you are too naïve
-Maybe… Or maybe you are too cynical.
-it’s funny how things change when you know the killer or the victim huh? All of the sudden your perspective changes entirely
-Does it? My perspective on you hasn’t changed at all, you are still a jerk.
He had passed out.