Author's Note:

I'll be nice and not make you guys suffer that long. Here's update #2 of the day

He wasn't moving. Things were eerily dark and quiet. Tony didn't like it. He felt like falling, felt like he was swimming, or flying, or whatever that awful sensation was. He didn't like it. Where was he? Why was he alone? Maybe he'd never been with anyone in the first place; maybe he'd never been awake. Maybe he'd died in Afghanistan and everything after had been some demented dream. The thought seemed to be a comfort, calmed a shaky panic he felt in his bones. He was scared; of pain, of death, of everything. The world seemed like it was nothing all around him, felt like nothing. He preferred it that way, he thought. He didn't know how to move, or speak, or even close his eyes.

"Can you hear that?" Steve's voice broke the agonizing silence and endless thoughts. He hadn't known how to close his eyes because it wasn't working; it wasn't working because they were already closed. How do I open my eyes? He blinked once before dark brown orbs darted up to see his lover next to him, a stronger, muscled arm slung around his shoulder. He could feel Steve there now.

"Hear what?" Tony mumbled, surprised he could talk. "I don't hear anything."

"Listen," Steve smiled at him.

Tony didn't know how to listen but he tried. Steve made it possible.

Steve made everything possible. Steve made it all possible and all worth it. The world couldn't be nothing because Steve was in it.

"I love you." A distant voice spoke to him, cracked and broken. The person was crying, sobbing, breaking. Tony could hear it. He didn't want to.

"Make it stop." He looked up and realized Steve wasn't sitting beside him any longer. "Steve?"

"I love you, please… Please Tony… Don't do this."

"Don't do what? Steve? Steve!" Tony shouted, his heart aching. His heart… he looked down at it, saw nothing. "Steve please… what am I doing?" he looked around again, hearing what he hated to hear most. "Am… Am I the one making you cry?"

"Don't do this to me, baby… Please…" Steve wasn't just crying. Tony could hear him shattering with every little gasping breath.

"What am I doing!?" He screamed, "I'll stop! I promise! Just tell me what I'm doing to you!"

"I need you."

Tony was standing now, eyes wide and chest feeling tighter and tighter, like suffocation in slow motion. He didn't know where he was, he didn't know how to do anything but Steve made it possible. Steve needed him, he could do anything. Steve was crying for him, he would do anything to make it stop. Defy any logic and all rules of reality, just as long as he could wipe those tears away.

He tried to run but fell.

He screamed louder but Steve couldn't hear.

He wanted to cry and tears came.

He thought about giving up.

But he heard Steve scream.

"NO! Don't you dare pull the plug! Stop!" Steve shrieked as tears streamed down his face, trying to fight against his best friend who was holding him back firmly. "Don't kill him, please!" He wailed, wrecked and exhausted and unable to pull away from Bucky's grip. "No! TONY!"

The quiet blips of the monitor went silent as the monitor shut off, the power pulled. "I'm sorry, Captain, he hasn't pulled through and his brain is all but dead."

"That's not possible!" Steve sobbed as he dropped at Tony's bedside, "He was never hit in the head!"

"The power of the human mind is immense," Natasha whispered from a corner of the room, her arms crossed tightly over her chest. "People are able to will their bodies to believe almost anything. Tony… Tony's not okay with this kind of trauma, I don't think he was able to get over the shock…"

Clint put his arm around her shoulders quietly, "Let's go… Cap needs time now."

Bruce stood with his jaw clenched tightly for a moment before he relaxed and lowered his head, "I'm sorry we didn't make it in time, Steve." He said softly before walking out of the room, his hand cracking the doorframe as he pushed away from it.

"He wouldn't… he's stronger than that…" Steve's bottom lip quivered as he took Tony's hand in his, "He… he will wake up…"

Bucky placed a comforting hand on Steve's shoulder, squeezing it gently before walking out with the others, giving Steve his space. Tony had been like this for nearly a year now, had been comatose and unresponsive. Steve went to him every day, every day he suffered at that bedside quietly watching and praying that Tony would be okay. Steve had faith that Tony would wake up and be perfectly fine. Bucky couldn't help but feel anger swelling in him at the thought, what kind of higher power was Steve praying to? Would God really let someone so devoted hurt like that? Steve didn't deserve the kind of agony he'd been put through so many times, but then, Bucky knew Steve well enough to know that often the blonde idiot would put himself in those situations. All he could do was hope that Steve would bounce back, like he did when he thought Bucky was dead, when he woke in the 21st century, and like his body did after being hit with that gas. Steve was back to his Captain America form; he had transformed most of the way by the time they'd reached the room he'd been holding Tony in. Bucky never wanted to see tears on that face again but it seemed that wish wouldn't come true.

"Steve?" Bucky walked into the hospital room, feeling anxious about the equipment and the noise that everything made, that awful beeping sound piercing his ears every time he heard it. Steve was in the same position he'd been in the last time he'd visited; quiet and looking down at Tony's still form expectantly. "Hey, any different?"

"No." Steve shook his head, his jaw quivering, "No… nothing's different. He's breathing the same, his arc reactor doesn't change, his eyelids don't move, his eyes don't move… nothing."

Bucky took the seat next to his best friend and sat with him silently for hours. He did this every day and sometimes he thought it didn't help at all but he knew better, Steve needed him. Needed his best friend to be there for him, with him, just someone to help ease the pain of being alone in a room with someone who might never wake up. Bucky also knew that if he played along with Steve's hope that Tony might wake, that if he asked if there had been any change every time he entered, it would keep Steve going. Steve wouldn't feel like the only one that believed it, and eventually he'd get better. Bucky believed that and hoped it was enough.

"Thank you." Steve whispered, not looking at his friend, and Bucky didn't need him to.

"You're welcome, Steve."

Bucky closed his eyes as well as the door behind him. "I'm sorry…" He muttered before walking down the hall after the others.

"Tony," Steve whispered, lowering his head to rest on his lover's chest, the arc reactor still glowing, faintly but still alight. His eyes were closed as he rested there, letting the ache in his chest pulse as painfully as it wanted. Distracted enough, he didn't notice the glow of the arc reactor as it brightened to its old capacity, but he did hear and feel the sudden gasping breath that Tony took.

"Steve?" Tony babbled out the first thing that came to mind, "Steve where are you?"

Steve sat bolt upright and leaned over his lover to see if he was just imagining hearing the man's voice. "Tony? Tony are you okay? You're talking?"

"I had the worst nightmare…" Tony mumbled, suddenly feeling how dry his throat was. "You wouldn't stop… crying…" He trailed off as he saw the very wet eyes that stared down at him, the streaks left on his face and the redness on his skin. "You were crying." Tony pulled Steve down into a hug, squeezing as tightly as he was able, "Baby don't cry, I'm right here."

Steve was in more shock than he could really explain, and as much as he wanted to listen to his partner he couldn't help but cry. A wave of emotions crashed into him all at once, the pain and fear of losing his lover and then the sudden relief and happiness that Tony was alive, that Tony was talking again. "I've gone insane." Steve blubbered, leaning up and kissing Tony rapidly, not caring that he was soaking the other man with his tears. "I'm crazy, you're talking to me."

Tony laughed softly, not about to pull away from Steve's affection. "Why is it so weird that I'm talking?"

Steve shook his head, "Doesn't matter." He wrapped his arms around Tony and pulled him up, burying his face into the warm and overly sanitized skin. "I love you," he choked out, "I love you so much, Tony. Please, don't ever do that again."

Tony ran his hand down Steve's back, listening to the repeated babbling of his boyfriend, trying to piece it together. 'I got shot. It doesn't hurt. He's surprised I'm talking.' "How long was I out?" He asked gently, not wanting to push Steve too much but his curiosity wouldn't just let him sit on it.

"A year," Steve sniffled and lifted his head again, a sad smile pulling at his lips, "Everything healed perfectly fine but you… you wouldn't wake up."

He could sit there and complain, he could freak out about how upset he was at losing that one-year, that it had happened to him at all. But he didn't want to. Steve had been through enough; Tony could see that easily without knowing much else about the past year. "You know," Tony laughed and rubbed away the tears on his lover's face, smiling warmly, "If I complained about losing a year of my life compared to the 70 that you lost, I think I'd have to call myself a wuss."

Steve managed a laugh for once and the sound made Tony smile wider, "Get the doctor back in here, let's get me home."

Steve nodded quickly, kissing Tony's forehead as he stood up, "I'll be right back."

Tony watched Steve as the soldier walked out and lifted his eyebrows in appreciation, his eyes drawn to the firm ass of his very tall partner, "It wore off." He muttered before grinning wildly. He felt a bit sluggish but other than that he was ready to get up and get some coffee, like he'd finally slept after working for almost a week without sleep. It wasn't a fun feeling but he was no stranger to it.

Moments later everyone ran into the room, eyes nearly sparkling when they saw him sitting up, that tell-tale grin on his face. "Tony," Bruce scoffed, rubbing at already red eyes, "You're okay… I can't believe it."

"Better believe it, Bruce." Tony winked at him, "Because once Steve let's me, I'm jumping right back into the lab with you."

"One thing at a time, Mr. Stark." The doctor smirked, starting the check-up without being prompted else he be bombarded by the excited crowd.

Camera crews were on the scene as Tony climbed out of his car, Steve right behind him. Everyone wanted to talk to him, wanted to take pictures of the man in a one-year coma just after waking up. Steve shielded him as they hurried into the tower, not bothering to speak to any of the vultures, despite their best intentions they were still vultures.

"That was crazy," Tony laughed, "So many people here just to say hi."

Steve rolled his eyes, "Don't act like it's a new thing." He leaned down and kissed the genius' cheek.

"So much excitement in one day," Tony sighed, "I need a vacation."

Steve looked at him curiously, "We could always go to Malibu I guess."

"Hmm… deal. Wanna race there?" Tony didn't put much thought into it but he didn't need to.

"No, absolutely not." Steve laughed, "You're in no condition."

"Fine, I'll make a few phone calls, we'll-" Steve's hand covered his mouth and shut him up, vibrant brown eyes snapping up to stare into the clear blue that hadn't once glanced away from him.

"You are coming to bed with me first, you are going to sleep and rest up, after you wake up we'll spend the entire following day together just you and me, and then, after all of that, we'll go to Malibu." Steve spoke slowly, his smile sending little waves of warmth throughout Tony's entire being. He'd never felt so cared for and Steve hadn't even said anything caring in that whole run-on sentence.

Once the captain had lifted his hand from Tony's mouth, the brunette immediately babbled his reply, "I love you, Steve."

"I love you too, Tony."

Author's Note:

That's a wrap people :) I don't want to drag this story on for forever and a day. I've already made you all wait ages and ages for the last, what, 4 chapters? Over 90 days passed. That was incredibly bad on my part. You all saw my school excuses, but I was a very studious person so it's all true lol

Anyway, I'd like to thank you all for taking the time to read this and to those who were here since the hiatus started, I'm so sorry for doing that to you. I don't like to and I felt bad for it. But it's done now. I'll note that I do have a tendency to add bonus chapters for fun because I often feel empty once a story is finished and want to add something. So if that does happen don't be surprised, though I'm not promising anything.

Hope everybody liked it and I bid you a farewell, hope to see you around in the future ;)