A/N: I have no idea if Avengers happens about a year after Tony's kidnapping in Iron Man, but for the sake of this story I am going to say it does, hope that is alright.


And all of the Avengers are living at the tower.

Learning Something New

Steve wondered blindly, still half asleep through the house, stilling for a moment when he heard the voices of Tony and Pepper.

"Are you sure you're alright?" Tony asked gruffly, his voice slightly agitated.

"I'm fine Tony," Pepper sighs.

"God I can't believe I did that."

"It was my fault, I know better," Pepper tries to console him.

"How can you say that, I'm the one that hit you!" Tony shouts back in anger.

Steve rounds the corner in deep confusion and what he sees stops him cold. Pepper is leaned up against the counter holding a bag of frozen peas over her right eye, her lip is swollen and she has toilet paper stuffed up her nose.

Tony stands across from her, gripping the counter behind him, his eyes and his lips pressed tight; it seems to take all his strength to contain his anger.

Steve hardly registers himself crossing the kitchen; all he can see is red.

He finally realizes what's happening when Pepper shrikes his name, somehow worming herself in between him and Tony, who he as pinned up against the cabinets by the throat.

"Let go of him!" she yells pounding at his chest. In any other moment it would have been a mild annoyance, but he has a broken rib and she manages to land her fist in just the right spot, knocking all the wind out of him.

He drops Tony, falling back to his knees as Stark hits the floor; now they're both gasping for breath.

"Tony," Pepper cries worriedly, dropping to her knees in front of him to cradle his head delicately. She checks him over, then twists around to glare back at him; she looks about ready to lunge at him.

"What the hell was that?!" she hisses out between tight teeth.

"He's—he's beating you," Steve chokes out between breaths.

He watches as Pepper's face twists from a look of complete anger and protectiveness to one of confusion, "What?"

"Look at you," he offers, gesturing vaguely to her face.

Her mouth falls open in shock as she flounders a moment, its Tony though that breaks the silence.

"You've got to be fucking kidding me," he pants, while trying to push himself off the floor.

"The anniversary is coming up isn't'?" A new voice adds itself to the mix "if you're still having nightmares, you need to see someone."

Every head in the room shifts to Natasha as she stands in the kitchen. Tony glares at her from the ground while Steve cocks his head in confusion, "Nightmares?"

"Fury's going to want to know about this," Natasha continues, unaffected by Tony's glare.

Tony snorts while Pepper helps pull him to his feet, "Fury can kiss my ass."

"You're a liability to us if you have an episode in the field," Natasha offers while moving into the kitchen, holding her hand out to Steve.

"Episode?" Steve questions as he takes her hand, still breathing heavily. "What are you talking about?"

"I'm fine," Tony snaps as he starts to lead Pepper from the kitchen.

"Tony suffers from PTSD, it was mentioned in his file."

Steve's face puckers in confusion at the unfamiliar term "PTSD?" he questions Natasha, before his eyes slide over to Tony, who is now standing motionless in the kitchen, his whole body rigged. He had not read a whole file on anyone in the team, they were thick and the rather in depth analyses caused large sections to fly right over his head.

"Post Traumatic Stress Disorder," Natasha states, watching Stark as intently as he is. "It's an anxiety disorder that develops in response in an extreme physical or psychological trauma. I'm assuming what happened tonight was a nightmare, and when Pepper tried to help, Tony lashed out in his sleep."

Tony stands still as a statue in the kitchen, Steve is surprised when it's Pepper that responds.

"I really don't think now is the appropriate time for this." Her tone is sharp, leaving little room for argument.

Steve is left reeling by this new dynamic, while Natasha seems unsurprised. He would never consider Tony weak when it came to defending himself but in this moment he seems lost, clearly relying on Pepper to keep him grounded.

"Yeah," Tony speaks up, though it seems to lack some of his sarcastic attitude. He looks back over his shoulder and Steve can already see bruises forming around his neck. He grins in a wolfish attempt, though his eyes seem dead. "I'd really appreciate it if we wait till morning to emotionally rip me apart." His message is clear; he doesn't want to talk about it. Ever.

When Tony is satisfied they understand he turns back to leave, scooping up the bag of frozen peas from the ground, where Pepper had dropped it in her haste to break up the fight.

"I'm sorry," Steve says, feeling the need to say something even though Tony clearly wants to pretend none of it is happening. Tony doesn't acknowledge and Steve doesn't expect him to, knowing he has a lot more to learn about his teammate.


A/N: Sorry about the ending I had no idea where to go with it.