A/N: Alright, so I'm hopping on the apology boat here. I know this idea has been done before, but I want to do it without the romantic element. And of course, with my darker nature, naturally I have identified with Tony Stark. I've always believed there is a lot of painful complex layers to him and I love to explore his character. I hope you all enjoy!
Steve Rogers watched with blurred vision as Tony Stark flew toward the open portal with the nuke firmly in hand. Small stabs of guilt began to weave their way through his gut. Less than twenty-four hours priorhe had told the man that he knew others worth ten of him. And as Ironman entered the portal, Captain America thought he had sorely misjudged the "Genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist".
The team waited with bated breath and false hope for Tony to come back through with a narcissistic comment on his lips about having to save the city himself. But it never came.
With regret, Captain America gave the order, "Close it".
Instantly the guilt twisted in him like a knife before it seemed to explode, tearing him apart. He looked away from the hole with despair. Natasha did as she was told and reluctantly shoved Loki's scepter into the center of the machine. The team watched with grief stricken eyes as the beam of energy retracted and the portal began to close. And at the last second, when it almost seemed impossible, Tony flew through the portal.
"Son of a gun!" Steve laughed with obvious shock.
But he wasn't flying. He was falling. Fast. He was either unconscious or otherwise unable to stop.
"He's not slowing down." Thor said next to him, starting to swing his hammer.
The unofficial leader of the dysfunctional squad could only watch in horror as the son of his friend plummeted toward the ground. Thor wouldn't make it in time. But in a flash of green, Stark was snatched out of the air. Bruce cradled Tony close to his chest as they crashed into the streets of Manhattan, shielding him from the force of their landing. Rubble and dust seemed to rain from their explosive impact. Steve and Thor rushed to their fallen friends as the Hulk none-too-gently tossed Stark off of him. Thor wasted no time ripping the iron mask away from Stark's unmoving form. Steve barely contained a gasp of panic as he noticed the man was not breathing. Nor was the light of his chest piece glowing. He may not know much about today's technology, but he knew the thing in Stark's chest was supposed to keep him alive. Steve placed his hand over Tony's heart before sitting back in defeat.
Tony Stark was dead. He gave his life to save the team…to save the city, all the while knowing that he would probably die in the process. The shame and remorse flared full force in the Captain's chest. Some of the last words he had spoken to Stark were horrible. Wrong. Unwarranted. He had practically told him that he didn't belong on this team. He told him he was nothing. A violent, angry roar from the Hulk startled him from his thoughts of self-loathing.
"What the hell?" Tony gasped.
Steve could only look at him with blatant disbelief. He was alive?
"What just happened? Please tell me nobody kissed me!"
'I really could kiss you right about now!' the Captain thought.
But Tony's facetious comment was left unanswered. Instead, Steve just leaned back and let go of the breath he hadn't known he had been holding. And all at once, the reality of the situation hit him and he began to take deep breaths to replace the panic he felt with relief.
"We won." He finally said.
"Alright, hey! Good job guys! Let's just not come in tomorrow. Let's take a day." Tony replied with his all-too famous lack of seriousness before looking to Bruce. "You every try shawarma?"
The small group looked at the man in the iron suit with a look of disbelief.
"There's a shawarma joint about two blocks from here. I don't know what it is but I want to try it."
Steve couldn't contain the breathy laugh that escaped him at the absurdity of the conversation.
"We're not finished yet." Thor interjected ominously.
The group looked to the Asgardian demigod with a long moment of silence.
"And then shawarma after."
Tony Stark stood on the uppermost floor of Stark Tower, soon to be Avenger's Tower, surveying the damage. It was two A.M. and sleep evaded him. So he thought he might as well be productive. He picked up a broom and began to sweep, attempting to take his mind off of the day's events. But the angry, self-depreciating thoughts forced themselves back to the forefront of his mind.
'Old stars and stripes was right.' Tony thought bitterly. He didn't belong on this team. All he had was money. Money that built a technologically advanced super suit that seemed to attract bad guys. He is worthless. And he is a self-absorbed prick. The world thought he diverted the nuclear missile to save the city. The team even thought that he did it, in part, for them.
'Not that I would tell anybody otherwise.' Tony snorted, throwing the broom violently against the wall.
Swearing under his breath, he moved over to the shattered window pane. Cautiously, as not to fall over the edge, he sat and looked out, letting his legs dangle. Solemnly, he gazed out over the ruin of New York City. With a pained sigh, Tony leaned to peer over the edge. Was it 108 or 109 floors? He couldn't remember. Either way it would be a long fall to the bottom. But it would be so easy just to lean a little too far. He would be dead before he could hit the ground.
But he didn't want to die that way…there would be too much clean-up. He didn't want to disappoint Pepper or Rhodey either. Or, god forbid, anybody else who gave a damn.
He was tired of disappointing people. He had disappointed his father all his life. And now, apparently, his childhood idol: the great Captain America!
That really did feel wonderful; to be told you are nothing by the same person your father never shut up about. The person who you worshipped as a child. The same goddamn person who, sometimes, you wish was your father. But, like always, he shrugged it off with some witty comeback. At least with the portal he would have died a hero, not a coward. And nobody would know it was actually a suicide.
He was brought out of his gruesome reverie by a panicked voice pleading behind him.
"Tony, please back away from the window."
"Relax Cap, it's not like I was going to jump." Tony smirked, inwardly cringing at the irony of the situation.
At least he was being honest about something.
But Tony's attempt at humor was not shared by the super-soldier. Without warning, Steve grasped the back of his shirt and yanked him roughly back into a safer part of the room.
"What the hell were you thinking?" Steve shouted angrily with a slight edge of panic.
"I was enjoying a wonderful view and a nice breeze! What the hell were youthinking? Sneaking up on someone hanging out a window!" Tony mocked as he poured himself another scotch.
Steve threw him a genuinely concerned glance. "I was trying to get your attention for five minutes."
"Long day." Stark shrugged. "So what brings America's poster boy up here at….three o'clock in the morning?"
"I heard a lot commotion. I came to investigate." He answered vaguely. "I also came to apologize."
"What for? You didn't do anything wrong." Tony replied, tossing back his drink before pouring another. "You gave me your opinion. Told me how it was. Nothing to apologize for."
"But I was wrong. I was wrong about what I said and I was wrong to even say it." Steve argued as he stepped closer to the dark-haired man.
"That's just it, Cap." Tony said gravely, downing another glass. "You weren't wrong. You were right about everything you said."
Steve just blanched.
"Don't look at me like that! You know it, I know it, hell, even my father knew it and I was just a kid!" Tony snapped.
"Stark, I don't understand. I'm just trying to apologize." The Captain tried again.
"I don't want your fucking apology!" Tony shouted as he threw his empty glass at the wall.
Bits of glass scattered across the floor, mingling with the dust, drywall, and concrete from the day's destruction. Steve recoiled as if he had been slapped. This was not going the way he had anticipated.
"I think you've had enough, Tony." Steve said calmly, wrenching the bottle out of his grasp.
"Hardly." He snorted as he simply reached in the cabinet and produced a new bottle.
"Tony, listen to me please! Sacrificing yourself to divert the nuke was the most selfless thing I have ever seen. I was wrong to say those things to you. And I'm sorry."
"And right there is the key! I wasn't trying to prove you wrong Rogers. Just the opposite, actually." Tony shouted, alcohol loosening his lips.
He shouldn't be saying these things.
"What are you trying to say?"
The Captain furrowed his brow in obvious confusion. Tony could have laughed at how innocent the young man was. He wouldn't understand. Tony clumsily stumbled away from the bar and attempted to push past the bigger man. He shouldn't be talking to him about any of this. It wasn't wise. But alcohol began to cloud his judgment. Steve moved to block his path and held him firmly in place by his shoulders.
"What are you trying to say, Tony?" He said slowly.
"I'm trying to say that going through that portal was the most selfish thing I have ever done! But apparently you haven't been listening!"
A/N: Well there is the first chapter. I anticipated doing a one-shot, but the words just kept coming so I'm going to make it a little long. Only 1 or 2 chapters more.