A/N: Ugh, I accidentally stumbled on a movie spoiler this morning, and it ruined my whole day. In any case, I have a few one shots I'm editing and gonna be publishing soon, and they're out of the order I wrote them in. So, from now on, I'm writing that they're living in Stark Tower, but I have a few one-shots and longer fics I haven't finished where they're living in the mansion. Little things, really. This was written for the prompt that someone didn't sleep for 89 hours.
The Iron Man armor wasn't immune to serious beatings. And unlike most of the rest of them, it couldn't regenerate new chest plates, or have its wounds stitched up, or just sleep its injuries off. It had to be repaired.
Tony had been unable to repair his last two suits as well, due to the overabundance of threats they'd had to deal with lately. Finally, on the last mission, the dorsal armor had been ripped apart, the face shield cracked, and both thrusters taken out. Tony himself hadn't been injured, only slept half a day out of sheer exhaustion before diving into repairs.
He was still repairing the thing after two days when there was another mission. Everyone got called on it except him. He hadn't even been asked.
Steve knew Fury was keeping his eye on him.
At first Tony had been peeved, and Steve could tell, a little hurt, before he shrugged it off, talking about some improvements he wanted to make to the back thrusters anyway, that would leave them all wishing for that tech on a quinjet.
Eight painful hours later, with everyone slinking back to their beds, bruised ribs and egos aside, Steve forgot all about Tony's vows.
The next day was followed by an entire day's worth of debriefings. The only one who seemed happy about the situation was Coulson, who kept shooting glances at Steve as if he couldn't believe what the other Avengers were saying.
It made Steve a little uncomfortable.
Clint was slumped on the table, occupying himself with taking pens apart and putting them back together. Natasha was arguing about approach tactics with Thor, and how sending in lightning first to an area bordering the Hudson was not, in fact, a good idea. Thor argued back she would have been dead if she'd run face first onto a dock full of living mercenaries. Banner occasionally spoke up, and Steve tried to settle down his teammates from time to time as he saw Fury's eyebrow continue to rise ever higher on his face as the conversation went on.
Because the debriefings with first Fury, then Hill, then the scientists, then the tacticians, then the guys who cleaned the deck on the hellicarrier (at least it seemed that way to Steve) took all day, Steve stumbled that night to his bed again, worn out. His body didn't really need the sleep, but his mind felt like it had become comatose and he found himself falling passing out as soon as his head hit the pillow.
The next day was training, training, and more training to both get out the tension he had accrued over the last few days and clear his mind. It wasn't until later that day, wandering around the tower, that he caught sight of Tony for the first time in almost four days, struggling with the coffee maker.
Steve was still learning 21st century appliances, but the coffee maker had been one of the first things on his list. He watched amusedly, then with a bit of concern, as Tony dumped the grounds in the top, cursed, and upended the whole thing in the sink. He then opened three drawers looking for a filter, put the grounds in, and cursed again as the coffee began to drip into a space that was not occupied by a pot.
Tony ran to the sink and grabbed the pot, pushing it into the space under the drip.
"Got it handled?" Steve asked.
Tony whirled around with a surprised yelp, clearly not having heard Steve come into the kitchen. Steve's own brow furrowed as he noticed the heavy bags under Tony's eyes, the constricted pupils, and the more disheveled hair than usual. "You alright?" he asked the other man.
"What? Yeah," Tony gave an amused snort before opening one of the overhead cupboards, fingers fumbling clumsily for a mug. Steve watched as he grabbed one, pulling it out, but not securing his grip on it. The mug crashed onto the countertop, shattering into four pieces. "Whoops," Tony said, giggling a little. "Pepper used to do this for me, I guess I'm a little tired in the mornings."
"Tony, it's 2:30 in the afternoon."
"Is it?" Tony turned back around squinting his eyes at Steve. "I hadn't noticed."
"Obviously," Steve mumbled as Tony turned back around tapping his toe as he waited for the coffee maker. "When was the last time you slept?"
"What? What does that got to do with anything?" Tony snorted, turning back around to face Steve.
Tony sighed, eyes rolling upward dramatically before rolling back down to focus on Steve's. "Eighty-nine hours."
Steve would have done a spit-take had he been drinking anything. "You haven't slept in eighty-nine hours."
"It's not that big a deal," Tony said turning back around. "I do it all the time. Helps me THINK." Tony tapped his head for emphasis.
Steve was certain the only reason Tony had actually divulged the information in the first place was because he wanted to impress someone. "That's…really not healthy…" Steve started, a little uncertainly. It was definitely strange to be telling an adult man what was healthy and what wasn't.
Tony eyed him up and down with a disdainful snort. "Oh, yes, because you're the guy who can talk to us normal humans about our health." He slapped himself on the head. "Oh wait, I'm not normal. I'm a prodigy. So you can take your public health service announcement elsewhere. Shoo!" Tony made shooing motions at him.
"Seriously, Tony. You need to get some sleep."
"Listen, Wing Head, I'm almost done repairing my armor-"
"Which is why you need sleep," Steve interrupted. "If you stay up today, and finish your armor, and tomorrow we get called out, and you can't operate it because you're brain's half off-"
"Please, don't insult me."
Steve's muscles strained as he fought to keep from clenching his fists in frustration. "Tony," he said with a forced calmness. "I just watched you try and make coffee without a coffee pot. You have five team members you are responsible for the backs of, not including any SHIELD agents. You're not by yourself anymore. If you can't keep yourself healthy, I'm sorry, but asset or not…you can't be here."
Tony stood stock still, looking like he'd been slapped. Steve inwardly winced, but he regarded the other man with as much gravitas as he could muster. He had to realize when one of them wasn't at their best, the team wasn't at their best. And Steve wouldn't allow lives to be put at stake because of it.
Tony's head bounced in a nod as he tore his eyes away from Steve. His brow furrowed heavily before he turned his back on the super soldier completely, but instead of going for the coffee, just started to walk off.
"Tony, wait!" Steve grabbed his wrist, but Tony shrugged him off angrily. "Tony…we want you here. But you have to understand if we're going to stay alive, we need to be at 110%. All the time. It's not…you're responsible for a lot of people now."
Tony turned partially to look at him out of the corner of his eye. "You think I don't know that? What do you think keeps me up in the first place?" His words were barely audible.
"It keeps us all up, Tony," Steve said quietly.
Tony blinked for a moment, before uttering a "…yeah."
They both stood there for a moment, looking at each other, before Tony gave a heavy sigh. "You can be a bit of a downer sometimes, you know that?"
"I'm going to sleep, Cap. I don't wanna have to fight a Doombot or something in the next twenty minutes, feeling like this." He walked off, giving a sarcastic wave.
Steve allowed himself a small smile. Maybe there was hope for them after all.