Steve, when he looked back on everything, would muse about how everything ended that day. When Tony just stopped moving in his arms, that the medical team were always just that one second too late.
Too be honest, at the end of it all, Steve expected to be taken in by SHIELD, expected to be substituted to the same torture Tony was to get him to submit. Steve didn't know where Tony hid those plans, so he didn't have a thing to bargain with. But he would always remember, mouthing the words to him somewhere whilst he was asked to step away from his bleeding form.
Mouthing the words just in case Tony could hear them.
And just like a movie, it might have either been too late, or just near the end. To be honest, he never knew if Tony heard them or not.
Everything happened so fast after that. After watching men strip Tony from his armor and begin to work on his still body. He knew that they were unsettled by whatever had happened to him, whatever those bullets did.
Steve would have beat Fury to a pulp if he could tear his eyes away from the sight. But he never could.
This whole ordeal would end here.
"… A video testimony was filed against SHIELD when…"
"Tony Stark's mystery bullets analyzed as a prototype weapon from Hammer—"
"-SHIELD deny all and every accusation thrown at them—"
"-Director Fury denies—"
"-Agent's confess upon the death—"
"-Captain America testifies in the supreme court at how—"
"…SHIELD found guilty for the attack on Tony Stark—"
"Director Fury forced to resign—"
"…You are unjust, unfit and unaware at how to treat heroes, Mr. Fury—"
"Fury launches defense campaign at how things work—"
"What else has SHIELD gotten away with?"
"SHIELD now open-office and Government security is down—"
"Second in command refuses…"
"…Captain America steps up to take the challenge—"
"I feel safe with Captain America in charge. None of this shady business behind…"
"SHIELD's files relating to the Tony Stark incident made public,"
"What else has SHIELD hidden from us? Find out tonight…"
"Captain America opens up doors to new heroes for SHIELD training…"
"Steve Rogers comments on Tony Stark, tonight, live."
"People gather flowers for the esteemed billionaire—"
"People pray for his soul, enemies and friends alike."
"Tony Stark is—"
4 months later.
The whirlwind of events seemed to blur for Steve, how everything panned out and worked for the better. Better than Tony could have planned. All this was accidental, all of the dominoes falling into place and resulting in a better world and a better security.
Steve was never one for suits, but he was made to wear one when possible. Sitting in the office that he had meant to have for Tony and Pepper – Head of SHIELD. Replacing Director Fury after Clint and Natasha had escaped their security when the virus hit and released videos on how Tony was tortured and his death. A sort of redemption for what they'd done.
Steve had never heard of it, but Clint posted it on 4chan for some conspiracies and it went crazy on the internet. Catching the attention of the media and was unstoppable to Fury. An online sensation - Powered by people.
Tony would have been proud.
Shortly after that, with evidence mounting against him and support from the people all across the globe, Fury was forced to resign, although from what Steve had heard, he'd been playing cards under the table and wound up somewhere else in the line of the countries defense. Just not SHIELD anymore.
He didn't chase him, although he had thought about it. Instead, he wound up filling the gaping hole in the countries security as head of SHIELD. Tony originally was going to go with this spot, fuse it and have Pepper run the paper work. It would have been great, except now it was Steve instead and Pepper. Both of them running SHIELD with her expertise in running a business and Steve's compassion and the ability to get other heroes to follow.
Security was better than it had ever been.
Heroes now stepping up to the plate to have a piece of contained action, to help save people. To avenge everything that had been lost.
Bruce wound up being pushed to the side for most of it. Having been locked in a lab at the bottom of SHIELD working on Tony's condition and never told of it's reprise until it was too late. They didn't want the Hulk finding out the truth and getting... Well. Angry. And it took Steve a long time to calm him down after he heard the news about Tony.
He was shouting things like "I didn't even got a chance to say goodbye."
Steve smiled at Pepper as she moved to trace more paperwork into another section, it had been a long day. He could tell by the way her hair curled out of her perfect pony tail. Steve could also see she missed her job as Tony's PA, but she got a considerable pay rise and a more esteemed title here. And with Tony... The way he was, she was better off here now.
Steve leaned back in his chair, still trying to wrap his head around the events that had followed over the last year. Tony's disappearance, his regain, his fall. He witnessed all of it and was by his side for the most part.
From start to finish.
"Well, well, well."
Came the voice from the doorway Pepper and exited from not a few minutes before. "Someone's doing well for themselves."
Steve picked his head up. If he held any emotion against this man, he didn't show it. He stiffed his lip, eyes narrowing against him. He would punch this man with all he had if he wasn't worried about the consequences.
"Well, forgive me. But someone had to step up into this place. It certainly wasn't going to be you now, was it?"
There was a silence that hung thick. Both men staring down at each other. Steve, watching intently. Wanting nothing more than to grab the other and throw him about the place for all he had done now that he had time to settle his emotions and think clearly... Enough.
"Yeah," a slight laugh laced the others voice. "Suppose you kind of had to."
Steve stood up; his frame looked a little thinner in black, (That's why Pepper said he would suit it) and straightened himself out. Unlike Tony in his suits, Steve always had the top button done up, and the tie neatly on his neck. No questions. Military. He moved over to the intruder, lifting his hand and flexing his fingers.
"I should kill you for everything you've done," Steve said quietly, eyes still short on him. "All this, now that I've had time to think about it… Was your fault."
"Yeah well...Even the good bits?"
His arms lifted, pulling the short, wounded man into a strong embrace. His stiff lip was replaced with a sobbing smile, holding on to the man who's fault this all was. The man who scared him half to death. The man who insisted on doing everything alone.
"Just like the movies, huh?"
He felt his arms encase him. An embrace he'd waited for, for so long. One he'd dreamed of every day since that fateful one 4 months ago.
"You're a horrible man, Tony Stark."
"I am." A smile. A real one. Although he was still wobbling on his feet, still patched up, Steve knew Tony had come to do something important. After all, surviving an attack on his insides and taking 4 months to recover this well - it better had been important.
"I'm not alone anymore, am I?"
"Never." Steve whispered into his collar. The man was barely holding it all together and still stubborn enough to walk around. "Never again." He'd get him back into a bed soon. Just for now? He wanted this moment. He deserved it.
Tony didn't say anything after that. But that was alright. Steve didn't have to hear it back from him. This was how Tony showed his love. Getting up, walking to the office and reciting some smart ass comments whilst his insides were knitting together still, just to see the soldier; the man he owed everything to.
Steve knew he'd say it one day.
But until then, some things were better left unsaid.
Sometimes silence spoke volumes.