Author's Note: I recently joined The Avengers fandom and people gave me prompts on Tumblr, so I thought I'd post the stories here as well! This is just a one shot. (Edit: For those who have asked, my tumblr is that-reference.)
Warnings: Self-harm, suicidal intentions, mild swearing.
Steve Rogers clenches his jaw and his fingers fumble, but there's a hint of a smile on his lips when the blade drags across the pale skin on the inside of his wrist. He closes his eyes and lets out a breath he wasn't aware he was holding.
The pain helps dissipate the hazy fog of his mind; the startling red against his white skin helps root his feet to the ground again and jerks him back down to Earth. He's a super soldier and though he may heal faster than an average civilian, he can still feel pain. And nowadays, as ironic as it sounds, he needs it to survive.
He may be the unofficial captain of The Avengers, but really, he didn't feel as if he belonged in the group at all. He's not even in the right century, for God's sake, he's not meant to be here. He has nothing but a shield, and he is nothing but a kid from Brooklyn. Thor is more powerful, Hulk is stronger, Tony is faster and smarter, everyone is just better and then Steve thinks about Peggy and Howard and Bucky; and Steve feels disgusted with himself.
So he cuts. He cuts until he has scars all down his arms and across his stomach, and every week he tells himself it'll be the last time, but every week he does it again.
Steve gets his hands on a gun at the S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters.
He makes his way to the highest level, away from everyone else and turns it slowly around in his hands, wondering what will happen if he shoots himself. He's had plenty of pistols aimed at him before but he'd blocked them all with his shield.
Maybe it'll bounce back.
Maybe it'll go in but not quite as far as it's meant to.
Or maybe the bullet will rip right through him.
Steve turns it right around and points it at his chest, just above his heart.
He's thought about this moment before, sat up in bed for hours just thinking about it, researching myths about happens when you die. Perhaps he'd get to join his parents in wherever they are.
There's no one else in this world that he's loved, but hasn't lost.
For some reason, he thinks about Tony.
Steve is so busy thinking, so submerged in his own thoughts that he doesn't hear Tony plodding up the stairs and muttering about Capsicle always being late and why haven't they invented a machine like JARVIS yet, why does he have to be the one finding people. When he catches an eyeful of Steve though, he runs over, his heart hammering.
'Hey! Fuck, Steve, put– ' Tony grips Steve's forearm, 'that down,' he rips the pistol from his hand and pelts it away from them, fingertips digging into raw cuts until Steve grits his teeth and looks away. 'What the fuck was that?' he demands, his eyes blazing with something a little more than anger. 'What was that, Captain?' he stands right up close to him.
Steve doesn't reply and just tugs his arm roughly from Tony's clutch, turning away to leave but he pauses, his heart dropping, when he notices his sleeve has been pushed and his wrist is exposed, the cuts are sharp and visible and suddenly, the broken hollowness that is Steve is revealed to Tony like an open wound. He walks away and clings to the sliver of hope that Tony didn't see.
But Tony did. Tony Stark is more observant than people give him credit for – especially to one Steve Rogers, and for a moment he's so stunned that he just lets Captain America walk away from him. But something inside him kicks in and he races after him,
What do you tell someone after you've just seen him try to kill himself?
Do you tell a joke to lighten the mood, or –
'Steve.' He sounds pathetic but something in his voice, whether it's the plea or the pity or the sincerity, makes the man halt. 'Don't,' Tony's hands motion to something before they drop by his sides again. 'Don't do that.'
Steve turns around, crosses his arms. Tilts his chin up.
'I was hurting you,' Tony says quietly, his eyes flickering to the Steve's sleeve for a passing second before resting on his face.
'You weren't.' I was hurting myself.
Steve lets out a sharp breath of air, a pathetic excuse for a laugh. 'It's not like you to apologise without a snarky remark or two.'
Tony looks affronted for a brief moment, like Steve just slapped him across the face. 'Contrary to popular belief, I don't joke about everything. Making Doc lose control and explode into a rage monster, maybe, but not matters like this.' And when Steve has nothing to say, he reaches for his arm, surprised when the man actually lets him roll his sleeves up. 'Why do you do this? You know better than to take your own life.' His eyes are desperately searching Steve's for an answer of some sort; but if he wants to know the answer, he's not persisting.
'I do nothing for the team. Not that I don't try, but that you can do it a hundred times better and more efficiently than I can. While you're in the heat of the battle, I'm taking stairs. Thor is calling down lightning, and I'm holding a shield,' he laughs humourlessly.
'We can't lose our Captain.'
And there it was; simple and unadorned and there's the way Tony said it that makes it seem like he meant something more. There are so many implications embedded into those five words and Steve is getting a suggestion, but he can't quite put his finger on it.
'If you'd pulled the trigger, I would've had to kiss you,' Tony says, and Steve has to laugh because it's so Tony and the sound of his own laughter is so unfamiliar it comes as a shock at first.
'Well, I'm sorry to disappoint,' he looks down, smiling.
'I can do it without you risking your life.'
It takes a while for Steve to register what he means by that, and by now, even he can't stay oblivious to Tony's insinuations. The second Steve looks up; Tony pulls him in and presses their lips together. Steve is hesitant at first but Tony is eager, and when he pulls apart with a loud, almost obnoxious smack, even Steve can't help but laugh.
'Incorrigible,' he shakes his head at him.
Tony raises his eyebrows. 'Yeah?'
When they head back to where Nick Fury is, Tony stops them just before they enter the room.
'Can you swear you won't do that again? The whole pistol in your mouth thing?'
Steve averts his eyes. He can't promise that.
Tony looks upset when he doesn't get a reply, and he drags a hand through his hair.
'We can't lose you.' He's already said that, he knows.
Captain America looks up just in time to hear him add quietly,
'I can't lose you, Steve.'