Yeah, next chapter was supposed to be Thor, but I totally can't figure out how to write his point of view. Which is weird, because after working at the Renaissance Faire for two years, I can probably write his dialogue better than anyone else. I think I need to re-watch Thor.
Oh, and in advance: the later comment on cleanliness stems from the realization that after three months in captivity with no way to clean yourself is enough to make anyone a little obsessed with personal hygiene.
Disclaimer: Don't own.
"You know, if you keep up drinking it might end up killing you."
"Shut up, it's just ice tea."
Clint takes a seat across from Tony at the island in the kitchen, watching him take a sip from the coffee mug that obviously does not hold anything alcoholic. "Seriously?" he says. "That's a new one."
Tony ignores him. "So what're you doing up so late?" he says instead. "It's what, two in the morning? I thought you and Steve were the only two with normal sleep habits."
He answers, "Couldn't sleep," because saying a nightmare woke him up sounds too childish. "What about you? What's your excuse this time?" A shrug. "Jesus."
"You don't need to call me Jesus - just Tony's fine."
What a terrible attempt at early morning sarcasm, he thinks, but keeps it to himself. "So are you a real insomniac or just have a really unhealthy sleep cycle?"
"Insomniac." This isn't all that much of a surprise. "I have some melatonin courtesy of Pepper if you're tired."
"You have melatonin and you don't take it?"
The other man's face twists into a scowl. "You're starting to sound like Romanoff," he says, which is way more of a shock than most of the things Tony says. Over the years of working with her, she's never pestered anyone about health and self-destructive behavior besides him. And he was pretty sure that she -
Bathtubs, he remembers. Natasha went to bother Tony after the comment about bathtubs. But why the fuck would he have anything against water? Last he checked, he was a little obsessed at keeping himself clean. "Sorry?" he says, and yawns, covering his mouth with his elbow. "Anyway, are you working on something or just up?"
"I'm working on thermodynamics and transdimensional theory in relation to a time travel machine powered by uranium and olive oil."
Tony says it with a straight face, and in his tired state, it takes Clint a solid second to realize he's joking. "So just up then, I'm guessing?" he says, and steals Tony's ice tea, and though he scowls, he doesn't make a move to get it back. He nods, and it looks reluctant. "Ever think of getting that checked out? The insomnia, I mean. You can probably get something -"
But he can't finish, because Tony suddenly says, "Fuck, you too? Why does everyone think I need a psychiatrist? Do guys have a conspiracy to get me committed?"
Okay, now he's really confused. "Get you committed?" he repeats. "Why? I never said there's anything wrong with you."
"That makes you the only person in this house then," he answers and falls against the back of his chair, crossing his arms. "Bruce and Natasha both think I have PTSD, and Steve - god, like fuck I know. He thinks I have something but doesn't have the modern psychological vocabulary to place it to any particular diagnoses."
Clint slides the glass of ice tea back to him, but Tony doesn't touch it. "Ever think they're just worried about you?" he says, and blames the sleepless for talking. Just because he likes Tony doesn't mean he has to show it this much. "I mean, we do sort of work with you. And live with you."
"It's nothing important," he answers. "They're all just blowing it out of proportion."
"Tony, you flew into outer space with a bomb."
"It was either that or letting Manhattan get destroyed."
"You could've just thrown it."
There's a pause, a short silence that's more like a lapse than anything else. Before it lasts too long, though, Tony says, "You just called me suicidal."
So maybe he did, but that wasn't what he was thinking. Unfortunately, he doesn't know exactly what he was thinking to refute that statement. "What happened to you anyway?" he asks. "I mean, they've got to get it from something."
"Like I said, it's nothing important. And besides, they all think it's something different. I don't particularly want you to make assumptions either."
"It's two in the morning. Try me."
Again, a pause, and Clint can see the point where Tony makes up his mind and just gives in and he isn't sure if this counts as an accomplishment or not. After the whole flying-a-missile-into-space-and-proving-he-actually-gives-a-shit thing, it became pretty obvious to all of them that he isn't really the way he acts. Of course, this new bit of information is unexpected and a part of him doesn't want to know because he likes thinking he's a little off and doesn't want to suddenly think that he's really off.
Finally, Tony answers, "Two years ago I got held captive in Afghanistan. The news was never really made known to the general public, but Romanoff knows because of...stuff. I was stuck up in a cave with a car battery keeping from shrapnel getting to my heart and killing me, so I made this thing." He taps the Arc Reactor. "They wanted me to build them a weapon and well, you know, tortured me, I guess. But I got over it. Romanoff realized that I don't have any bathtubs and decided that it's PTSD when I'm pretty sure there's a difference between not wanting to reminded of something and have a mental disorder."
"I can't be around a TV showing kid's program," he says because it's two in the morning, so a secret for a secret or a damage for a damage isn't terrible. "I, uh, killed a guy in Indiana while his wife and kid were in the other room and all I could hear was that stupid Dora the Explorer show and the little girl laughing."
"But that's not PTSD."
"No, it's not," he agrees. "Not as bad as waterboarding, though. Or getting stuck in a cave. So Bruce and Steve know?" Tony shakes his head. "Oh."
"Bruce just woke up from a dream. Decided that I once I didn't immediately act all awake and cheerful or whatever that I must be loose a few screws." It's probably more than that, Clint thinks, but figures that if he wants to find about Steve that he probably shouldn't argue. "And Steve - well, hell, the guy decided to ask me what happened to my dad and figured that since my parents died that I must've been affected. Made the stupid mistake of telling him I couldn't remember the year after that, too."
"You don't remember a year?" he says, a little sharper than he means to and has to back peddle a little because he's already up and sparing his friend ten minutes of catharsis isn't a bad way to spend an early morning. That and he's really, really curious by this point. He adds, "You were going into your senior year of college, right? What, did you start drinking then something?"
Again, Tony shakes his head. "Not until the end of that year. And before you ask, no, I didn't do drugs and never have. Drinking's one thing, but I don't want to kill my brain cells on heroine or the THC in marijuana or something."
Well, there's always that, he supposes. "So you have no idea?"
"I don't even remember who I was living with. I eventually found out it was...someone one from the company, but I don't know, maybe I hit my head or something. I spent like a week in the hospital for a head injury not long after my graduation and it's possible to lose a year like that."
Nothing on his medical file mentioned anything about a head injury and the way he said, "I don't even remember who I was living with," makes something click that disturbs him more than he would like to admit. People don't just obliterate a year of their life without reason, but the subconscious can suppress long-standing trauma. The idea that Tony has PTSD is steadily sounding more and more plausible and despite what he said, Clint already sees him differently. Self-obsessed (supposedly) or not, no one deserves to go through that shit. Any of it.
"Well," Clint says, "I don't think you need to get committed or get treated like a time bomb or something."
"But you do think something."
He shrugs. "I don't know, Tony," he answers. "Meds might be a good idea though, at least for the insomnia. It might make the flashbacks go away."
"I don't have flashbacks."
"That's bullshit and you know it." When he gets no counterargument, he knows he won - or at least a little. "You have to take into account that you're fighting with us. If you get a flashback in the middle of -"
Tony groans, cutting him off. "Bruce told me the same thing," he says. "It's not going to happen."
"He's right. Just think about it."
"If I say yes, will you leave me alone?" He nods. "Fine, I'll think about it. Now go a -"
"Want to watch a movie?" he asks, ignoring him. "We've got like five hours before anyone wakes up and since you're not in the middle of inventing and I'm not going back to bed any time soon, it's not like we have anything else to do."
To his surprise, Tony says, "Sure. Take your pick."
"Lord of the Rings."
"What, seriously? Why?"
Small victories where they count. He stands up and grabs Tony's arm, dragging him out of the kitchen and into the common area, and decides he really isn't so bad.
For some reason, I always imagined that Clint would be the easiest to talk to out of any of them, and I'm not even really sure why.