It had been over thirty six hours since they managed to kill the Mandarin, but it felt like mere hours ago. Every single thing that he'd feared had become true. He was drained both mentally and physically and the more he thought about what happened the more drained he felt.

His house was gone, buried deep against the ocean floor.

It wouldn't have bothered him as much as it did if the memories wouldn't come haunting him every single minute.

Pressing an ice-pack over his swollen ankle did nothing to relieve the searing pain he felt. Tony was certain that the feeling that had encompassed him had nothing to do with the cuts and bruises on his body. Instead, the guilt came and settled deep in a corner of his mind, rendering him completely numb and cold.

He hadn't seen Pepper in two days. The last time he saw her was at the hospital, while the doctors checked her vital signs and gave her pain killers. The sight had nearly killed him. If Rhodey hadn't been there, he was pretty sure he would have crumpled down. She was discharged the next day, but Tony couldn't bring himself to call her.

He had let her down.

He'd disappointed her and she almost got killed because of him.

Deep down, Tony knew that he should probably man up and talk to her, but he couldn't do it. Sudden vivid images of her pulling away from him as soon as he'd saved her stirred a hollow feeling in his chest.