"You sure you're ready to do this?"
"Tony, it's time. I can't hide forever."
"Yeah, I get that, but you don't have to tell everyone everything."
"I'm not going to tell them everything. Just... the important bits."
"I just don't want you to feel like you're obligated to tell them. I'm not saying you can't or you shouldn't, but it's your life, and it's up to you what you say and what you don't-"
"It's no one's business but yours. There's no reason to involve them unless you want to and I just think-"
"I want to talk about it."
"Well, yeah... If I don't- if I hide this- no matter what reasons I put behind it; what kind of leader am I - what kind of team-mate would I be? If I keep something like this hidden, and act like it never happened?"
"A normal one?"
"Tony. You said there was no shame in therapy."
"Then why is talking about it such a big deal? They already know something's going on. They aren't blind, deaf or stupid. Wouldn't it be best for me to address it, be open and assure everyone I'm acknowledging the problem and I'm working on it?
"Jesus. You're so reasonable and logical, it's making me a little ill. I'm just sayin'."
"I'm doing what's best for me, and I'm doing what's best for the team."
"We're more than just 'your team,' you know..."
"My friends, then. I'm doing what's best for everyone."
"It's okay, Tony. I get you're worried, and I know I've given you every reason to be. But it's... it's better. It's not gone, I'm not… magically cured or anything stupid like that, but I've got the best grip on this I'm going to have for a long time. I know that. It's time to take the next rational step. One that doesn't involve excessive sleep and cheesy cartoons."
"Excuse you, those cartoons were awesome."
"Yeah, okay, some of them might have been..."
"Okay, well, if you're doing this, now'd be the time."
"Movie night on Clint's floor?"
"And so now, that things are... better, I'm gonna... go to therapy and see if that helps." Steve concludes, glancing up from the counter-top he's been staring at since he starting explaining. Everyone's looking at him, but not with the pity or disgust he was expecting. All of them, Thor, Pepper, Natasha, and Clint are looking somewhere between understanding and proud, and isn't that a kick in head?
Bruce and Tony stand over to the side, where they initially went when Steve asked them to come to the kitchen so he could talk to them. They already knew what Steve was going to say, so they kept to the side. The rest of the Avengers (plus Pepper, because they'd all be fucked without her), sit at the table, having listened carefully to everything Steve explained.
Steve had been right, too. He really didn't tell them everything. He didn't tell them about the panic attack, or the catatonic shower. He didn't tell them about Tony getting drunk or his silence that eventually broke. He didn't talk about the fight about therapy, or his tentative relationship with Tony. But he told them the important parts. How the depression had sunk in on him, how it felt like it would never get better, how Tony and Bruce has spent a lot of time talking to him and helping him figure this out and how he appreciated how they had all supported him.
He apologized for being a selfish sub-par leader and he ended with therapy because he knew that, if any part of this was going to get a reaction, it was that.
Instead, he's greeted with what he should have been expecting, in retrospect. The unwavering support of his new-found family. Pepper is the first to break the silence, standing up and walking over to pull Steve into a hug. He gladly go with it, Pepper gives awesome hugs. He lays his head against her shoulder and sighs. He can't help but be reminded of his mom, and the sweet maternal hugs she always gave him. It's a nice reminder, and it makes his chest warm instead of tight and painful..
"Have you picked out a therapist?" Pepper asks, pulling away and framing his face in her hands, her voice somewhere between sympathetic and professional.
"Uh, not even sure how I'm gonna do that, actually." Steve admits. He had asked JARVIS how many psychiatrists there were in New York City and balked at the answer. He was kind of hoping someone might pitch in an idea, and judging by the way Pepper's picking up her phone and tapping away, she was the one.
"I know the best people in the city for this kind of thing, I'll send you their files so you can read about them and pick the one that sounds most comfortable." Steve smiles in relief as she steps away, still tapping as she goes into the living room. He notices how Tony watches her go with a look of bright fondness.
Thor's next to speak. His tone, as usual, suggests that human customs, once again, slipped from his grasp. "I fail to see how this would make you a less than honorable leader. In Asgaard, facing these kinds of trials made a good warrior greater. Great loss in battle was cause for mourn, but it brought no shame."
"Well, I..." Steve finds himself kind of speechless, and he doesn't miss how Tony looks like he's trying desperately not to laugh.
Thor approaches Steve and claps him on the shoulder so hard, a lesser man would've fallen against the counter. "We will stay alongside you, Captain, no matter where the journey takes us."
Steve can help but grin faintly, and nods, "Thank you."
Thor nods, solemn and serious, before he steps into the living room.
Clint sighs and slowly stands from his chair and heads towards the fridge. "You know, Cap, I have to admit, I'm a little disappointed."
Steve can't help but feel his eyebrows raise.
"I figured it'd take something more than this to make you whine like a little bitch with a skinned knee." Clint finishes, pulling two beers out of the fridge, handing one to Bruce and popping the top off his own.
Steve is completely at a loss for words at his teammate's seemingly callous behavior. He really thought they all supported him on this, but maybe he was wrong. He can tell by Tony and Bruce's expressions, he's not alone in this assumption.
Clint takes a swig of his beer and walks towards the living room, but right before he leaves, he turns and points at Steve with the hand still holding the beer. "Word of advice." He says, and Steve can help but brace himself for what Clint might say next. "Don't go to a SHIELD licensed therapist, okay?"
Steve gives him a questioning look. Clint gives kind of a sigh/shrug and continues, "I went to one of those guys after the whole Loki thing, ya know? And he was, how shall I say…" Clint raises his hand to make the international gesture for 'crazy' near his temple. "Not a good thing when you think your shrink's crazier than you are."
Steve grins a little and nods, as Clint raises his bottle, nods at Steve and steps into the living room, followed by Bruce. He gets it now. Clint wasn't trying to trivialize Steve's situation or purposefully be a bastard, he was dealing with it the same way he dealt with everything else; it isn't a big deal if you don't treat it like one. It may not have been a hug or a vow of loyalty, but from Clint, it was as good as.
Natasha is still sitting at the table, completely stone-faced, staring at Steve. A silence falls over the kitchen and he's not sure if it's better described as tense or awkward. Natasha has always been an anchor for him, and he knows as stupid as it sounds, he wants her support on this, perhaps more than anyone else's (besides Tony).
She carefully stands up, and walks over to him, looking slightly up so they're as face-to-face as they can get, with something unreadable in her expression, as usual.
Steve is more than a little surprised when she puts her hands on the back of his neck and pulls him down, just far enough to kiss him on the forehead and lean it against her own. The momentary shock wears off, and he closes his eyes, as he puts his hands over hers. In another life, he'd be in love with this woman.
After a moment, she pulls away, and says something softly in Russian. Steve's not even going to pretend he has any idea what she's saying, but her expression is softer than he's ever seen it, and her thumbs brush against the skin below his ears.
She lets go and pats his arm, not saying anything else and goes to join the rest of the group in the living room.
A beat of silence passes. Steve doesn't move.
"So, that went better than you expected, huh?" Tony asks, coming to stand in front of Steve, who still looks a little dazed at the whole ordeal.
"I expected more… something, I don't know. Drama, I guess?" He says, hesitantly, pulling Tony close and burying his face in the crook of his neck.
"You underestimated your family, Steve." Tony says in a mock-stern tone, wrapping his arms around him, and feeling Steve sigh.
"I really did, didn't I?" Steve says, voice muffled slightly, but not caring in the least.
"You did, and because of that, you're on popcorn duty." He says, and laughs when he feels Steve groan.
"Fine, but I'm burning yours." Steve says pulling away, but Tony catches him before he completely disentangles himself.
"You'd never." He says, pulling Steve back to kiss him softly. He feels Steve press back and grin into the kiss and he never knew what a wonderful feeling that could be. To feel someone else's happiness like that. Especially after all they'd been through.
"I'd always." Steve retorts, breaking the kiss. He goes to lean in for another, but they're interrupted by Clint's shout from the living room.
"If you two pansy-ass bitches don't hurry up and get in here, we're gonna start it without you!"
Tony laughs as Steve just shakes his head and moves towards the cabinet with the bowls. "You go ahead, I'll be in there in a minute."
"Okay." Tony agrees, but doesn't move.
Steve reaches up to get the bowls and pulls them down, separating them out. He's pulling the popcorn out of the cabinet when he speaks again. "Seriously, Tony. Stop staring at my ass and go to the living room."
"Ooh, bossy. I like it." Tony says, in a mock seductive tone that makes Steve laugh, not at all ashamed he got caught.
"Alright, alright, I'm going." He says, but he can't help it, he slaps Steve's ass on his way by. Half because, well, it's a glorious ass and he can, and half just to hear the indigent little shriek it startles out of Steve.
What can he say? He really loves his family.