A/N: I had to get SOMETHING up after seeing the movie twice in two days.
"I…owe you an apology."
Tony scooted his chair out from under where the Mark VII chest piece was hanging, suspended by chains as he rooted around inside of it, repairing the damage.
"Who let you in here?" Tony narrowed his eyes suspiciously as he saw Steve across the room.
"I…what? Uh, Pepper did." Steve looked a little taken aback by the question. "So, uh, like I said-"
"You owe me an apology, yeah I heard you the first time." Tony waved him off and rolled back under the armor, reaching up with the socket wrench to root around inside. "And you don't. Not really."
Steve pulled over another chair watching Tony work for a minute, before he took a deep breath. "The things I said…on the helicarrier-"
"Weren't entirely unfounded," Tony interrupted quietly, not looking away from his armor.
Steve felt a wedge of guilt push up into his chest, but also anger and bitterness. He was trying to apologize, and this man was so…wrapped up in himself, he couldn't be bothered to hear it. "Look…you proved me wrong. You proved us all wrong. You were the one to-"
"Stop, just stop." Tony pulled himself out, eyes wide with anger and that same look Steve had seen when they had found out about Coulson. "I'm not letting you apologize."
Steve was genuinely confused. "Why?"
Tony sighed, tossing his wrench on the floor. "The things you said…before…you don't get to say things like that. Not to any of us. Every one of us here because we chose to be. How dare you suggest one of us isn't ready to lay down our lives at any moment. That's…" Tony gave a bitter laugh of disbelief. "It shouldn't have to take one of us doing it to prove anything. That's the most unfair, fucking thing I've ever heard."
Tony sat, stock still, staring at him intently, waiting for him to make his move. Steve didn't look away.
"I said those things because I was…afraid…" he couldn't look at Tony anymore. The other man was absolutely right. He had had no right. None. And it took Stark almost dying for the entire population of New York to see that. He took a shuddering breath before making eye contact with Tony again, who was waiting.
"I was afraid that…everything, everything had changed. I…saw you…on television and I saw Banner…tearing through tanks and I didn't know what to think. I thought I was alone. That no one could do what I did. No one was capable of it. Because I've died to save New York too." Tony blinked.
"But you didn't die."
"Neither did you."
Tony gave him a small, bitter smile. "Feels good, doesn't it?"
Steve gave a small snort, looking down, then looking back up and returning the smile. "Not really."
Tony pursed his lips at that, turning his attention back to the wrench on the floor. He leaned down, his hand hovering over it for a minute, before he picked it up. "I'd do it again, though."
"I know. You don't have to tell me. Just like you know any of us would do it for you. That's how it's going to be from now on." Steve moved forward to grip Tony's wrist gently. "I know you have the nightmares. Of losing. Of dying. Because I have them too. Since…well, for 70 years, you might say. But you're not alone. We're a team now. And we're not letting you fly off by yourself again."
"Agreed," a voice said from above them.
"What the…Barton! I told you not to hide in the fucking vents!" Tony stood up shouting at the ceiling and Steve just collapsed in a fit of laughter as the cover popped open and the sniper's form dropped down to the floor. It was too perfect. It was all just too perfect.
"We were sort of having a moment," Tony grumbled at Clint.
"I wanted to be in it," Clint returned. "And to tell you, Cap's right. We've got your back now. That's how it's gonna be."
Steve couldn't cover his amused grin from behind his hand, at Barton standing there, having just popped out of the ceiling, staring intently at Tony, whose face was a mixture of anger, gratitude, desperation and acceptance. Steve knew, realistically, they'd all probably have to make the same call he and Tony did, and probably more than once. And they probably wouldn't walk away from it. But until then, they had a team, they had support, they had each other's backs…
…and they would pull each other back out of the abyss each time.