AAAAAARRRRRRGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHH HHHH I didn't really want to post this because I'm horrible but my BFF had a bad day and I want to make it better and writing is a way to do that so DEDICATED TO YOU, DOGZRULE333. ILU.
In other news, I haven't posted on since last year. Damn.
I do not own Avengers, Iron Man, Captain America, Hulk, Black Widow, Hawkeye, SHIELD, or any combination thereof.
Steve had rarely seen Tony's face in person, seeing as during the whole Loki fiasco he had rarely taken off his Iron Man armor. Tony's excuse being; "It's more comfortable in here. Plus, I don't actually have to see Fury's face. It's filtered. With options for CGing make up and pink hair with sparkles. Much more entertaining than real life." Steve had taken that as a means to not really trust Tony. Ever. He was simply too irresponsible.
When the face plate had come off, Tony refused to speak, it seemed. Just made facial expressions and vague hand gestures to get his point across before returning the face plate to it's original place. He hadn't offered an excuse for that, and Steve hadn't asked. Honestly, Steve had been thinking that it was a lost cause, so why bother?
Steve hadn't read Tony's file very well, just skimmed through it and watched a few old clips of him talking. Steve had heard enough to know that Tony was a wise ass and arrogant. Both traits which were not very good for teamwork. But Fury saw something in Tony, and if Steve looked close enough, he could sort-of see it too, but it was difficult. Like he was trying to look through fogged up glass.
But now the whole ordeal with Loki was over, and they had opted for spending time in Stark Towers while Thor made transportation arrangements from New Mexico.
One floor of the building was damaged, not all of them. There was still plenty of living space, just on a different, not-as-impressive floor. Soon, they had a routine. Natasha and Clint would be up first, doing stretches and sorting out their weapons. Steve and Bruce would be next, one would start the coffee or the tea and the other would cook breakfast. Tony would be last; opting for walking in, taking his cup of coffee, grabbing some food, and vanishing down into the depths of his workshop.
Steve found it strange that no one else found it odd that the man never spoke. Not once. Not even to return the odd "Good morning". Tony just nodded to show that he had heard, and then he'd go downstairs. Steve also found it odd that the man wore turtlenecks in the middle of summer. Tony Stark was just full of oddities.
Today was different, however, as Fury had requested Natasha and Clint for something he wouldn't say, and Bruce had decided that some of his research was too risky for Stark Towers, and therefore needed to be conducted at SHIELD HQ.
This left Steve alone with Tony, which was incredibly awkward.
Sighing, Steve started breakfast in preparation for when Tony staggered in. Just as he finished, true to his prediction, Tony staggered in. Steve heard a sigh as Tony realized that there was no coffee, but didn't turn around, as he was making another omelette for himself.
"Good Morning." Steve said cordially, nodding. To his surprise, Tony patted his arm three times as he walked past. Blinking, Steve turned his head and caught a glimpse of Tony's barefooted, retreating figure as Tony grabbed a plate and plopped down on the couch. Something was off, and Steve chewed it over in his head while he tried to figure it out, finishing up his omelette at the same time, before realizing what it was.
Tony was wearing a wife beater, not a turtleneck. Vaguely, Steve worried that Tony might get cold, although he didn't seem bothered at all.
It was unusually quiet, though, and that openly bothered Steve. He hadn't figured Tony was this quiet normally. Maybe he had really offended him in some way. Steve wasn't sure, and that bothered him. He couldn't fix it if he didn't know what had gone wrong, and he wanted to get along with Tony, he really did, it was just so...difficult.
Grabbing his plate, he made his way to the chair the was across from the couch. Walking by, he stole a glance in Tony's general direction, intending only to look at whatever it was Tony was working on. He hadn't expected to see a giant, jagged mass of scar tissue running along the top of Tony's throat-as if someone had tried to slit it.
It was surprising enough that Steve dropped everything he was holding to the floor. Tony jerked up, staring at Steve in a sort of annoyed confusion. Then he realized where Steve was looking. Touching the scar on his neck gently, Tony raised an eyebrow at Steve, a sort of morbid amusement written across his face.
"T-Tony...Oh my God what-?" Steve started, unable to look away. He was warring between concern and anger. Concern because, well, someone had tried to slit Tony's throat. Anger because, obviously, someone had tried to end Tony's life. As angry as Tony appeared to be with him, as rocky as their nonexistent friendship was, that was completely unacceptable.
Tony blinked in confusion before understanding dawned on him, and gave Steve a look that clearly stated 'Are you fucking serious? Do I have to do everything around here?' before typing away at the device in his hand and drawing up his own file and handing it to Steve, at the same time guiding him to sit down in a chair. Impatiently, he pointed to the section Steve had skipped over, highlighting a section and tapping twice.
"Tony Stark, while being held as a POW in Afghanistan, had surgery performed on his vocal cords in an unsterilized environment." JARVIS' clipped, British voice announced, just in case Steve was too caught up to actually read, "Chance of recovery is 0%. Any interacting with him must be advised to know American Sign Language (ASL). Can talk through the Iron Man suit using facial recognition technology. Other medical information includes-" JARVIS halted, motioned by Tony's hand sweeping in a wide arc through the air to stop.
Steve's eyes were still focused on the tablet in his hands as he mentally berated himself for not noticing sooner. This was vital information! On a battlefield, not knowing this could have seriously endangered not only Tony, but the rest of the team as well. If that had happened, Steve would have had no one to blame but himself. An impatient rap on the top of his head, much like how someone would knock on a door, drew his attention back to Tony, who was looking rather agitated.
Steve's eyes were drawn to movement, which turned out to be Tony's hands rapidly moving in an attempt to communicate. Luckily for Steve, one of the first few things he had learned upon waking up was different languages; ASL being one of them. Blinking the shock out of his eyes, he focused. Tony's hands stopped as Tony realized that Steve was paying attention now, and restarted.
'They told me that if I screamed too loud, they would cut out my vocal cords.' Tony tried to explain, his posture stiff. 'I screamed too loud, they followed through.' Tony finished, looking awkward. As if he didn't know why he had just tried to explain what had happened, but didn't really regret it, either. Steve felt a cold horror unfolding in his chest at the thought of what Tony must have gone through to make him scream at all. It froze the anger and strengthened the concern. His teammate had gone through torture. He had known, but suddenly it seemed all the more real.
None of the Avengers had good pasts, but Steve had seen how well off Tony was and the information of Afghanistan seemed so unreal. But it was. It was terrifyingly real. Steve just hadn't prepared himself for that knowledge, the result being the tumult of emotions he was feeling now.
Then Tony looked up, his eyes catching Steve's, and his expression lit up to something more relaxed from its previous awkwardness.
'I cannot believe you skimmed that over.' Tony quipped, sporting a shit-eating grin. 'And after all of that talk about responsibility. Slipping in our old age, are we, ice?'
"Sorry...Ice? I don't-no, don't give me that look Tony. I know it's easier to have nicknames in ASL as opposed to spelling them out, but...Ice? Why Ice? I understand that I was frozen, but..."
'There is no sign for c-a-p-s-i-c-l-e.' Tony interrupted, frowning impatiently and wearing an expression that added 'Are you an idiot?' without Tony having to sign it. Steve sighed and rubbed his forehead. The explanation had made even less sense than the original statement. Ultimately, Steve decided that Tony could have chosen a lot worse.
During the small lapse it took for Steve to make that decision, he noticed that Tony kept moving; his foot shifted, his toes dug into the carpet, his fingers drummed on the side of his leg, his eyes glancing from Steve to the tablet to the ceiling and back to Steve, his neck stretching from side to side as it popped softly, his shoulders rolling as he fought to keep at least a little still, etc. The effects of Tony's constant movement, constant vigor, was slowly muting the horror and concern into bearable levels, and Steve was in control again. Steve felt like an idiot for not realizing sooner; Tony was never quiet. Steve just hadn't listened.
"And here I thought you were too quiet." he murmured, shaking his head. Tony's head did a quick shake and his face gathered a fond lopsided smile.
'No, you were speaking the wrong language. It's fine, though.' Tony supplied, sitting down on the couch again. 'Green and Pepper tell me that once you know how to talk to me, I never shut up. But now that you can, any reason you've been avoiding me like the plague?' he asked, his head tilting to the side and eyebrows scrunching together.
"I didn't mean to-Tony, you have to understand, I thought you were angry with me." Steve explained, looking embarrassed. He was going to assume that Green meant Bruce, while Pepper was obvious. Tony didn't need to sign what he thought about that; it was clear on his face and in his posture.
'If I was angry, you would have known. You are an idiot. Stop being stupid. I'm bored, let's do something else.' And finally, with a glance down at the mess Steve had made on the floor, looked back up to convey with a very clear facial expression; 'You're cleaning that up.'
Steve couldn't help it; he laughed. He had never met someone so expressive before. It was refreshing, to have someone so talkative that didn't hurt his ears. A paradox, yes, but it was Tony Stark, and he was always creating paradoxes.
'What?' Tony's eyebrows raised and his head tilted. 'What on earth are you laughing about?'
"I'm sorry." Steve paused, swallowing the remaining laughter. "I just...you really do never stop talking."
Tony's shoulders shook and the breath hissed through his teeth as he let out a silent laugh.
'I told you so.'
"So what are you working on?" Steve asked in an attempt to make up for not talking with Tony at all since the Loki incident. He had talked to Tony, yes, but not with him. Frowning and holding up the tablet in his hands, he found out that he could not figure out how to make it go back to the page it had been on. Tony's hand plucked it out of his fingers and returned it to a page full of schematics, numbers, and codes. Steve still had no idea what it was. Tony sat back down and set the Tablet to his side.
'I'm working on an update to the A-r-c R-e-a-c-t-o-r' Tony frowned at having to spell it out. 'Spelling it out takes too long.' his expression supplied while he signed 'I just call it my battery.'
"An update? Is something wrong?" Steve leaned forward. If something was wrong with Tony's Arc Reactor, then he would have to call Bruce back to help, because he didn't understand all the technology of current times, and Tony's technology was beyond current times.
'No, Ice, calm down. I just think it can work better if I make a few changes.' Tony explained, his face adding 'You have gotten way too paranoid.' for good measure.
Steve paused, letting the information sink in before nodding. Tony's face portrayed his impatience, and his bouncing knee let it be known that he wanted to go do something as opposed to sitting.
"Sorry, I didn't mean to keep you from your work." Steve sighed, standing up and scratching the back of his head.
'It's okay.' Tony shrugged, 'We needed to have this little talk anyways.' Tony stood up as well, stretching out the kinks in his back. 'Don't forget to clean up your mess!' he added, before picking up his tablet and walking towards the elevator.
As Tony stepped into the elevator and turned around, his posture softened, and his face read 'You're welcome to come down. I wouldn't mind the company.'
Steve nodded, already bending down to pick up the broken pieces of the plate.
"I'll be down in a bit." He supplied as the elevator doors shut, his lips quirking into a small smile. Maybe there was hope for them working as a team after all, now that Steve was actually paying attention.