I should be working on my other story, but this little one shot was just running through my head and it was so very short, so I decided to write it down. It probably seems a little sporadic but I just think that Tony always seems a little distracted, so I figured his thoughts wouldn't be much different. Anywho, I hope you enjoy (and I'm going to focus on Paranoid now! Promise :D).

If you asked any Avenger, or anyone who has spent ten minutes out in the public's eye with him, they would happily tell you that Tony Stark loved to get drunk and frequently participated in the sport of binge drinking.

They would be wrong.

Yes, he still drank a lot; he would admit to that. But the truth is, since he came back from Afghanistan, he had only gotten drunk twice. The second time had been at his birthday party, and he thought that was a given. He thought he was going to be dead within the next week or two. Find him a rational person that wouldn't get drunk with that news (okay, a rational person with his standards and morals. He had changed but he wasn't a saint or anything). And the first time he had gotten drunk was about a week after he had gotten back from Afghanistan.

It had been a disaster.

He had gotten the bottle out to soothe away the nightmares and bring a blissful fuzz over his memories; to slow his thoughts that were moving so fast (too fast) and his mind that was remembering so much (too much). Instead his thoughts raced forward faster, faster and his mind brought up more pictures, more feelings, more everything until he got so lost he didn't remember where he was anymore. Without knowing if he was safe, the only thing he could do was sit and wait and pray that when this strange feeling left him, when the yelling, the gunshots, the everything left, he would find himself safe and sound back in Malibu. Right now he would give anything to hear Pepper's voice, even if it was just her yelling at him about forgetting to sign some stupid paper.

When he woke up in his lab the next morning, he had experienced almost the exact same feeling as when Rhodey had pulled him up from the sand and led him to the helicopter (to safety, to home). And when Pepper came down to go over the day, he spent her entire lecture beaming at her. It seemed to throw her off but he barely noticed. He was home and Pepper was here and if Pepper was there, that meant he was safe because he would never let anything happen to her. For now he could breathe (even if breathing was still a little strange with the arc reactor) and could try and piece back together his life.

With less alcohol.

Of course he still drank. After so many years of heavy drinking, he enjoyed the drink, and if he drank minimal amounts, it still held a relaxing effect that he enjoyed. But as soon as he hit that stage, he always gracefully (because Tony Stark didn't do anything ungraceful) made his exit. He traded out his daytime drinks for chlorophyll, another taste that had (slightly) grown on him.

Naturally, the only one who had really noticed was Pepper, but she never said anything about it. He thought it was just her enjoying his more responsible side, but sometimes at night- when the nightmares couldn't be held at bay by warm hands and a warm heart- he heard a gentle voice talking him out of his panic (breathe Tony, breathe. You're safe) and somewhere in the back of his mind, between the mix of thoughts and images he had gotten so lost in, he remembers that same voice, helping guide him back to home to his sanity while the taste of alcohol burned his throat and mind.