I thought I'd just kill off one character.

And slowly at that.


Quick explanation: in our RP Howard is taken out of time and de-aged, so he's the Cpt. America Howard. Thought I'd explain that bit.

It sucks. And was a prompt on Tumblr to break all my fellow RP-ers feels.

Did it work?

Title from The Gambler by fun.

Current Song: The Gambler by fun.

Current Thought: Huh. Might have made me sad.

We Should Live Until We Die


It's a rainy Tuesday when Tony Stark dies.

He's not in a small hospital room, on a ton of medication to block out the pain as he passes. He's not surrounded by people that love him.

It's just him and his arc reactor, which he un-clicks from his chest cavity and tosses to the side. Because if he's going out, he'd mind as well go out by a way of his choosing.


That's not the point. The point is that, in less than an hour, his heart slows and he's dead. His body cools for a few more hours on the kitchen tile because he chose to do it in there, the place he first tried to kill himself in. He'd thought it'd be poetic, finishing the job that he started.

Of course, he's found a while later, when Steve Rogers almost trips on him.

It's all over from there.

But really? If they're all honest, it's been over for a while.

4 Months Ago…

They want to start him on chemotherapy.

And it's not that Tony's against that (oh but he is, he is, he is. He doesn't want to wither away, no, not like this), it's just that he doesn't want to die. Then again, who does?

Tumor, they say. Inoperable, they insist. Stage four, they inform. Terminal, they add.

Do you want to call anyone?


He declines the chemo. He's dead anyway. What's the point?

And then Tony walks home.

He'd started getting headaches. Terrible ones. Ibuprofen had stopped working. Paracetamol had stopped working. He'd gone in for a check-up. He'd stayed for longer than he normally would.

And they'd found that.

He won't say the word, won't say it, won't think it, because he's dying, and he can't fix it this time and he's… Fuck, there's too much to do in the little time frame they've given him. Four months. Four fucking months to try and go out with a bang.

Do you want to call anyone?


And he doesn't.

He doesn't tell them. Not even Pepper. He sets up arrangements himself, does it all behind their backs. No one knows. Fury doesn't even know. He doesn't need to. It's none of his business.


He smiles when he gets home. No one suspects a thing, and he's never going to give them a reason to.

He starts making plans, letting hints drop about things he can do for them before he goes out. He puts all of his company projects aside.

Because Tony Stark is an irresponsible, selfish, rude, disrespectful son of a bitch and he's a sorry bastard, but he knows how to get his priorities straight. Fuck the company. It's been fine without him for years. It's this new set of people that have begun to rely on him that are going to take the hit the hardest.

And that's why he can't tell them. Because he doesn't want them to remember his last days as them in tears and sadness and searching for cures that don't exist.

He wants them to be fucking happy, damnit.

So there.


He's easiest, Tony thinks. No, he's not going to give Clint a new fucking bow. He's going to do something meaningful, thanks very much. Because Tony's not that much of a dick. He knows what his friends really desire and need in their hearts, fuck you very much.


Clint's an orphan. Orphaned by his parents, by his brother, by his mentor. So that's what he's giving Clint. An orphanage under the Maria Stark Foundation.

He finds a good building a week later. Starts construction immediately. Then he nonchalantly goes up to Clint and asks him what he wants to name it.

"You built me an orphanage?" Clint asks, voice suddenly really fragile and quiet.

"No," Tony says rolling his eyes. "I'm building orphans an orphanage. It's just, you know, under your name and stuff. So name it. We don't have forever." He really didn't. But in Tony's eyes, Clint had the rest of Tony's life.

And that is, in a way, a long time for them both.


Who'd ever think that the assassins were the easy ones? Tony didn't. Not in the beginning. And then he lived with them for a couple of retarded years and yeah, they are the easy ones.

He opens a ballet studio for her. It reaches out for little girls on the streets, or the kids that can't afford it, since, again, the Maria Stark Foundation is funding it.

She cries when she sees it though. And then punches him. And then gets all suspicious and asks him why he's doing it now and he answers honestly, with a small smile that he tries not to turn into a grimace as his head pounds.

"I realized I didn't have forever. And that it's not going to take forever. So."

She accepts it, too overwhelmed, and she hugs him and tells him not to do anything stupid, because he's scaring her and he pretends to ignore her.

Then he goes to his workshop.

And he breaks a glass door. Because this is the last thing he wants to leave.


He starts to throw up three weeks after.

There's a pounding behind his eyes and it stays even after he's hacked his guts up. There are nights that he sleeps by the toilet, too exhausted to get up, knowing he'll need to use the toilet in a few anyway.

His stomach twists and he's so glad he's alone and no one else has to see him like this. He couldn't bear it, the look in their eyes.

The next morning, after he's showered and freshened up, he ignores food and goes for coffee, because it soothes his throat and he can always blame his shaking hands on the caffeine.

Three Months Ago…

Hearing loss. Blurry vision, blindness. Memory loss. Shakes. Nausea.

That's what he should expect. Well, he can cross off the nausea and add in vertigo.

Do you want to call anyone?



He looks lost when he stares at the large screen in front of him.

"This be a large glass in which the visions appear called a television, be it not?" Thor asks. It's in his room at the mansion. "There are many of these, Man of Iron. Why should there be one in my chambers?"

Tony shakes his head and then smiles. "It's special Thor. It's only got two channels. Turn it on."

Thor narrows his eyes, like he's wary of Tony's gadgets (he is) and turns it on. His face is priceless when Jane waves from the other side of the country. Webcam. He got Thor a webcam, except it's a secure channel, powered by Stark Industries.

Tony gestures for Thor to put Jane on hold and flick to the other screen. He does so, a bit more giddy and the next image makes the larger man catch his breath in sadness.

"How can this be…?"

It's a video feed into Loki's cell on Asgard. Tony has Odin and Frigga to thank for that.

"You can't talk to him, but at least you can watch," Tony says quietly, an odd tightness in his chest. And then Thor's hugging him and letting him go, and Tony's keeling over as his vision blots out for a few minutes.

It's terrifying. Turns his blood to ice and makes his temples pound.

Thor's startled, but buys that he hugged Tony too hard.


"What are you doing?"

"Shut up and just follow me."

"I can't see, Tony."

"That's the point, Brucey."

"Don't call me that."

"Shut up and I'll do the same."


And then, Tony can't remember the way. He freezes in a hall, ever grateful that Bruce is blindfolded. He can't remember where he's going, why he's going. It's a blank and he feels fear, icy and cold, curl in his stomach until Bruce says, "Tony?" a bit worried behind him.

It comes back.


Close call.

They make it to their destination. He takes the blind-fold off of Bruce. The other man gasps. "Tony… what…?"

"So apparently I made you the head of R&D and I just gave you the highest access to my labs and facilities. At any SI. In the world. So, yeah. Just, thought you'd want a detail on that," Tony says casually.

"You… just gave me all your stuff." And Bruce turns and looks at him. "Are you ok? Are you dying or something?"

And isn't that a kick in the teeth? Because yes, yes he's dying. But he can't let Bruce know. There's no one else that he trusts with all of this freedom and information. No one else who deserves it. And maybe there's something that can help control the Other Guy.

"Shut up Banner. For a smart guy, you can be really stupid," Tony says, then tells him to go for it. Because if there's one thing Tony can do, it's evade.

He hasn't forgotten that. Not yet, at least.

Agent- No, Phil

"You bought Clint an orphanage."

"No," Tony corrects. "I made the orphans one."

"And you bought Natasha a dance studio."

"Ballet," Tony corrects. Again. These are thoughtful gifts. Mr. Agent Coulson here should remember that.

"What's going on?"


"You built my boyfriend an orphanage."

"I thought he was your fiancé?" Tony asks, because if not, then he just fucked up a bit.

But Coulson nods. "Yeah. But, you know. Hard to plan a wedding with our jobs. Also: no free time."

"…we have free time this weekend…"

Coulson makes a face. "Well, yeah, but you can't just expect us to be able to-"

"…and you're suits are coming in tomorrow…"

Coulson looks startled. "Stark, what did you-"

Tony claps. "Shut up. You're getting married to the Hawk on Saturday. I've got it covered. And don't thank me. Seriously. You guys are killing me with the kicked puppy look. And yes, I stole your little wedding planner book thing from Clint. He sucks at hiding things."

Coulson just blinks and stares. And then a very small smile comes to his face and he's still at a loss for words.

Tony helps. "Maybe you should go find you're fiancé now?"

"I think I just might. And Tony?"


"…I know you told me not to but-"

"Hey! None of that!"

"Fine," he sighs. "I'm glad I was wrong about you."

Coulson walks out in search of Clint.

Tony collapses into a chair and shakes with pain and fatigue. "Yeah, me too Phil," he says to himself, quietly in the silence of the room.

Interlude II

Tony starts to forget things.

The equation for the speed of light. Quadratics. Engineering basics.

He can't even work some of his holographic screens.

It comes to a point where he's sitting in front of a workbench, pieces in his hands that he can't name, doesn't recognize, doesn't know what they're for and it's terrifying. His heart is erratic. He swallows hard.

"JARVIS… what am I doing?" he asks fragilely.

*I believe you should go get some rest, sir.*

Rest. Right.

He could rest when he was dead.

Which is quite soon actually, so JARVIS can shove it.

Two Months Ago…

Preparations ready? Will complete? Hospital or not?


Tough decisions. Or they should be. He spits out answers like an automaton.

Do you want to call anybody?



She's speechless. And in the good way. And there's that happy twitch to her eyebrow so Tony knows he's done right by her.

"It's a house," she says.

"Yup," he responds, rocking back on his heels, making himself sick, so he stops.

"It's a normal house. It's, it's a cute house." She turns to him. "It's not a glamorous house."

"You don't like glamorous," he points out with a pout.

"I know," she says suspiciously. "I didn't think you knew." She crosses her arm. "So you bought me a house and you gave Bruce your R&D position-"

"My company," he interjects.

"- and your level of access. What are you up to?"

"Nothing! I found someone better at that type of thing than me, ok? Stop freaking out. Now you can leave that crappy apartment and Bruce can leave the mansion and you two can shack up here because it's nice and there's a garden. He's into that."

He'd come to terms with their relationship a while back. Now he just wanted to help make it last.

And there are tears in her eyes and she says it's perfect and he jokingly adds it's near a school as she hugs him and comments on their future rug-rats and she elbows him as she laughs.

And it's all good.


"What the hell do you want, Stark?"

Tony doesn't say anything, just drops off the flash-drive and the manila folder. The director of SHIELD is suspicious when he opens the folder. Then his eye widens and it snaps up to where Tony is standing, very serious.

"What the hell are you pulling, Stark?"

"Nothing," Tony answers honestly. He's not pulling anything; he just thought Nick would appreciate it.

"You just handed me the plans and schematics to the thing in your chest, the suit you put on, Cap's shield , that fucking Rubix Cube of a Tesseract and half a dozen other mechanics that you've been hoarding from me and adamant that you would only give them to me on your death bed."

Tony lifts an eyebrows and waits.

Fury's eye narrows in confusion. A minute later, it widens in shock. He points to the reactor. "Is it-?"

Tony shakes his head and taps his temple. "they can't touch it," he says.

Fury nods. "So we're keeping this under wraps, I take it?"

Tony nods. "Please." Then he smirks. "Give a man his dying wish."

Fury actually laughs. "Only you, Stark, would make jokes in the face of Death."

Tony shrugs. "Someone has to laugh about it the end."


In the end, of course, Tony's not really laughing. Not when he looks at his de-aged father and wonders what the fuck he's going to do about that. He's lost Howard once, now Howard's going to lose him and they hadn't even gotten close and it all just sucked.

Tony's always running out of time, it seems.

He settles on the family albums he keeps in Before-Howard's study. He has them all wrapped and delivered to Howard's door because he wants him to have those. There's a short note in there, about how he's sure Howard and him can get along this time around, how they have plenty of time.

It's full of empty promises and lies, but it's the best Tony can do.

He hand delivers his favorite photo though.

Howard's busy, so he knocks and waits till the man notices he's there and calls him in. He smiles at Tony, in a cautious way and then blanches when Tony shoves the picture frame at him.

It's of Howard, Maria and Tony when he was first born, right out of the hospital. Howard and Maria are both smiling; Tony's in Maria's arms, holding onto Howard's finger with his tiny hand and it's baby grip.

Howard looks awed and shocked and so damn thankful. He looks up at Tony, a question in his eyes and Tony shrugs and says, "Hey, it's your family too."

Interlude III

Tony loses hearing in his left ear for a week. He makes a clear hearing aid to help throughout the time.

When his hearing comes back, it's weak.

He's forgotten the first 300 numbers of Pi.

He has no peripheral vision.

Instead of sitting in his lab and worrying about, he joins the other Avengers and watches The Notebook with them. He realizes that he kind of likes Ryan Gosling.

One Month Ago…

They want him to stay in the hospital. They want to run tests, give him meds for the pain. Jab him with needles. Stick him with pins.

Fuck no. Thanks very much, but fuck. No.

A sigh.

Do you want to call anybody?




"Why did you need me to pick you up from your doctor's appointment?" Steve asks as he drives them back to the mansion.

Tony stays quiet. Steve stays worried.

"Tony, are you alright? What happened in there?" His voice gets lower, softer. "You know you can tell me anything, right?"

"Stop the car."

Steve dutifully stops.

"Pull over."

Steve pulls over.

"Tony, whatever it is, we can-"

"Shut-up Rogers." And then he kisses him. He kisses him hard and starts to shake when Steve kisses him back and it's so wrong and it heals some sort of burn that had been radiating inside of him, that he'd never known was there.

And he can't have this. He can't have this but he can give Steve the rest of Tony for the rest of Tony's short, cut-off life. Because it's sad and it's sweet and he feels like he's getting the better end of the deal in this, but he's selfish. And he doesn't care.

"What was-" Steve stars when they pull away, but tony shakes his head and cuts him off.

"Did you know, that I've been in love with you since I woke up from falling out of that stupid Tesseract portal and saw you hovering over me looking stupidly relieved that I was alive.? Did you know that?"

Steve looks shocked, lips kiss swollen. "N-no, I didn't, Tony-"

"Well now you do," he says and then he passes out.

Because that is all he can think to give to Steve. The only thing Steve had ever wanted was him.

And that's what he'd get.

Tony wakes up in the hospital he was sure he just left. Steve's in the chair beside the bed and everyone else is either in there too, or in the hallway pacing.

"You should have told us," Steve says suddenly, his voice tight, his eyes red.

"Not how I wanted to be remembered," Tony says, closing his eyes, because of course Steve would bring him back to the hospital and demand to know what was wrong, would see he was listed as Tony's next of kin under Pepper and would be told what was going on.

"Too bad," Steve says, taking Tony's hand. He sounds determined, stubborn. Angry. And hurt. "You just told me you loved me. You just promised me a lifetime with you."

Tony finally opens his eyes and sees Steve's blue eyes filled with tears. "Well, you've got my lifetime. Can't that be enough?"

Steve is silent. Then he leans over and kisses Tony softly. "Yeah. Yeah that can be enough."

Tony knows it's not.

The last few weeks are what he didn't want, but it's easier, better. Pepper cries a lot in the beginning, but by the time they tell him he's got two weeks left, she's asking him if he can just die already so she can have his spare room.

It's a joke. That's how she deals with it.

Phil and Clint are thinking about adopting from Clint's orphanage, they tell him as he lies around in Steve's bed, Steve wrapped around him, creating a protective cocoon. They want a boy. They want to name him Tony.

He'll let them get away with it.

Natasha likes to just sit with him and clean him up if he pukes or is helpless, show him the dance moves she's teaching the girls. Bruce keeps him up to date with R&D and thanks him quietly in a thousand little ways to keep from saying it out loud. Says he likes the garden up at the house too. Thor brings Jane over via webcam.

She and Darcy cry a bit, then make a joke, then have to leave. That's nice.

Steve stays with him the entire time, counting down the days in his head. They kiss a lot, hold each other more, and have only jacked each other off on that one occasion when Tony was actually feeling ok enough to maneuver around on the bed.

Tony asks how Steve will deal when he's gone. Steve says that Tony will be gone, so he doesn't really have to worry about it, now does he? And Tony doesn't want to know, actually, because Steve has a point. He'll be dead. What the fuck will he be able to do about it, what the fuck will he care?

Steve hasn't said he loves Tony yet, so the day he does, Tony realizes that that's all he's been waiting for. All of this time, he just wanted Steve to say it. And maybe Steve has been holding back because he can't stand to give his heart to a dead man and condemn himself to that hurt, but he gives in anyway, caves one day.

"I love you," he says quietly. Then he cries for a few hours, the only time since he first found out. He cried because he's just doomed himself to heart break. Tony doesn't cry. He smiles. Whispers it back.

Two weeks left, you say?

Fucking please.

Tony's ready now.


So it's simple. Back to where it all started. The kitchen where his mother's water broke, where his father drank, and threw things, where his mother cried and wasted away, where Tony tried to kill himself that one time when he hit 21 and didn't want a company or responsibility or the ghost of his father hanging over him.

He decides it's a nice place to die.

And he doesn't want to die from tumor in his head that will make him forget his name. And forget Steve's name. And forget where Pepper and Bruce live, and where Natasha goes on Thursdays or that Clint and Phil are actually married now and that Thor has such a good life because of a webcam.

Or that Howard hung that one picture up in his new office and looks at it every day with affection.

Why would he ever wait to forget all of that just for more time? When he's ready now?

He wants to die like he was supposed to: shrapnel to the heart.

So he does.

He takes out his reactor and everything's just been building. He lets it all just go and it's good that way. That's how he wants to go out. His time, his devising.

He's ready.

If Tony had been alive, the only thing he'd regret about it all would be that Steve found him. Tripped over the body realized what he'd done then just sat there for two whole hours staring until Natasha found him and called an ambulance for the both of them.

Tony Stark is pronounced dead on the scene. So is Steve Rogers's heart.

And there's a funeral. And no one can replace Iron Man. And the country mourns. The world mourns. But there are seven others who mourn a whole lot more.

And just one man who never completely recovers.

Tony had asked Steve how he would deal. Steve had deflected. He picked up a few things from Tony, you know.

Tony had asked Steve how he would deal. And the truth was?

Steve wouldn't.

He would always be just the other side of the coin, a mismatched pair, it's partner lost..

Because in the end, all the waiting, Tony's sudden death?

It wasn't worth getting over. So he wouldn't.

It wasn't worth it.

And in the end? Maybe it never is…

Took the 'It's not worth it' line from Marvel's Civil War arc.


Yeah. That's it. Anyone with broken pheels?