Tony Stark was blackout drunk. But this time, it wasn't at a party. There were no girls at the tower tonight, not even any friends to keep him company. Just a man and his emotions. He lay, semi-conscious, on his bedroom floor. A bottle of Jack Daniels whiskey lay next to him, leaking a bit onto the floor by his head. His head pounded, and his shirt was sticky from the alcohol dripping down it. But at least this was better than being left alone with his thoughts.
Ever since the New York incident, Tony had been in a steady downwards spiral. First the confusion, then the anxiety attacks, then Pepper leaving him, then the drinking. But the drinking is never just drinking, oh no. it's always to block something out, isn't it? So what exactly is it that this wealthy, charismatic playboy wants to get out of his head? The flashbacks. Those moments in battle, right before a kill. It's no wonder so many soldiers have psychological issues. It'd have some effect on even the strongest. People always talk about watching the light go out of someone's eyes, and how that's the worst part of it. But that's not true. the worst part is the moment before that, when you see on their faces, that there's absolutely no hope left for them. They've accepted the fact that they're going to die, and there's absolutely nothing they can do about it. They just lose the will to live. That, that's what really gets you.
Suddenly he was back Afghanistan, in a military truck on his way to a weapons demonstration. He was in a van with three military personnel, and there was a bit of an uncomfortable silence. "I feel like you're driving me to a court-martial. This is crazy. What did I do?" He joked, attempting to lighten the mood. " I feel like you're going to pull over and snuff me. What, you're not allowed to talk? Hey, Forrest!" One of the soldiers finally answered him
"We can talk, sir."
"Oh, I see, so it's personal?" He said, glad to have finally broken the awkward speech barrier.
"No, you intimidate them." Tony was shocked to hear a woman's voice coming from the driver's seat.
"Good God, you're a woman. I honestly... I couldn't have called that." She laughed a bit. "I mean, I'd apologize, but isn't that what we're going for here? I thought of you as a soldier first."
"I'm an airman." She told him, keeping her eyes on the road. "You have, actually, excellent bone structure there. I'm kind of having a hard time not looking at you now." She blushed, and stared straight ahead to try to hide it. "Is that weird? Come on, it's okay, laugh."
Now that they were all more comfortable, conversation was flowing easily. Tony had a way with people. One of the soldiers looked young, maybe 25 at most. "Would it be cool if I took a picture with you?" he asked hesitantly.
"It would be very cool." Tony replier encouragingly. The young man scooted towards him and held up a camera. He made a peace sign with his other hand. "No gang signs!" Tony joked, but the soldier took him a bit too seriously. "No, throw it up. I'm kidding." Just as he was clicking the button, they felt a jolt. There were a few seconds of chaos and panicking, and Tony as pushed out of the truck. Moments later, a burst of flames came from the van. Tony covered his face and looked away. Once he could feel that the heat was dying down, he looked back. Everyone who had been with him in the van was gone. Dead. Nothing but ashes. And with a jolt, he realised it was all his fault.
Tony would look back on this day for years to come as the day when it all began. This was the first death that was his responsibility and he had witnessed, the first that had really affected him personally. He had known his weapons were killing people, but until now, it hadn't been his problem. He had been detached. Now, it was personal.
These memories had been coming back to haunt Stark all too often. Especially now that Pepper was gone, Tony just didn't see a way out. Days were just passing by without any real meaning or purpose. He didn't know how much longer he could take it. He used to be someone. People used to want to be with him, get his autograph, take pictures. Now, not even those he considered friends wanted to hang around him. Some days, he just felt like giving up and ending it once and for all. Today was one of those days.
Tony raised the bottle he was clutching to his mouth, only to find that it was empty. Suddenly, a familiar voice sounded.
"Sir, are you alright? You have four missed calls on the system." Jarvis informed him. Tony grunted.
"Fine...'m fine..." the brown haired man mumbled from the floor.
"It appears that the levels of alcohol in our bloodstream are higher than is healthy, Sir."
"I just needa sleep, 's gonna be fine." He muttered hazily. "y'can go now." he made a feeble attempt to wave his hand at the monitor. A few moments later, he heard no reply, and assumed Jarvis was asleep. Tony managed to push himself into a sitting position, then prepared to drag himself onto his bed. As he pushed up, his head hit the corner of the polished wood bedside table. He let out a curse and a moan of pain. After a second attempt, Tony found himself sprawled out on his back on the elegant four poster bed. He raised a shaky hand to his head, and when he drew it away is was sticky and wet with blood and whiskey. He weakly attempted to wipe it off on his blue iron maiden t shirt, but couldn't put in the effort. This was the mess his life had become. Frankly, he thought, it wasn't much of a life. Not one worth living, anyways.
His head was pounding furiously. It was like someone had drilled through his temple and into the back of his head. Maybe an aspirin would help, thought Tony. He pushed himself up into a sitting position and winced. Even that small movement made him feel dizzy. The bathroom was only about five feet away, but five feet felt like five feet too much for him in his current state. On the other hand, he really needed something to help this headache. He swung his legs over the side of the bed and braced himself against the wooden frame. Slowly, he pushed up into standing position. His knees felt like they were about to give, so he staggered across to the bathroom as quickly as he could. He leant against the doorframe and breathed heavily. After getting his breath back, he stumbled into the room itself. The medicine cabinet sat right above the bathtub, so he sat down on the edge of the tub and began searching through the cupboard.
After a minute or so of searching, he found a bottle of aspirin. As he was pulling it out of the cupboard, a bottle of sleeping pills fell into his lap. He picked up the bottle and examined it. There was a large warning label on the side that read "WARNING: OVERDOSING ON THIS MEDICATION CAN BE FATAL." He turned it slowly in his hand. Downing this entire bottle would probably kill him. He'd be dead. No more problems, nothing to worry about. No more existing. Gone. Just like that. That would be so much easier... Suddenly, a voice jerked him out of his thoughts. Jarvis again. "Sir, you have a call waiting on the line from-"
"Tell 'em to call later, I'm busy" Tony managed to spit out.
"Alright, sir." Tony sighed and dropped his head into one hand. He tried to tell himself it was a stupid idea, but some part of him was telling him to take the sleeping pills. Nobody would miss him. Pepper could come back in to take over Stark Industries. Nobody needed him. And the guilt, the guilt was too much. Every night it haunted him, their faces. he could remember each one. The face of every single person, or alien, he had ever killed. They could have had families. They could have had kids. Maybe their parents were still alive. What poor soul had the job of telling someone's parents that their pride and joy, their precious angel, was dead? Who got to tell their wives?
Their wives. That brought back memories. Memories of nights in, parties, romantic dinners for two, and all the good times he'd had with Pepper. But those barely lasted a second before they turned to memories of fights, nights sleeping alone, and then finally the breakup. That breakup had destroyed him. He still remembered the last time she walked out the door, and how he had pleaded with her, but she wouldn't have it. She was still in charge of his company, and seeing her so often destroyed him. She was the most beautiful, funny, sexy, down to earth woman he had ever met. He couldn't believe he'd ever taken what they had for granted. He'd been too cocky, too self assured, and she was just sick of Tony. As a matter of fact, Tony was sick of Tony too.
So sick of himself, in fact, that he really didn't feel he deserved to live. He'd taken so many lives, what was one more? The only difference was, this life was his own. But he was no better a man than the countless others whose deaths could be blamed on him. He'd been destroying his life steadily for the last few months, really. Before, he'd go out and drink and party, then it had descended to staying in and drinking, and gradually sunk to this trainwreck he was now. Slumped half conscious on the edge of his bathtub, soaked in blood and whiskey. Half his blood probably was whiskey now, considering how much he'd drank. His body felt like it had been rolled over by a steamroller. Twice. And people always say, in these situations, "It gets better", but honestly, Tony didn't see much of a chance of that happening. Any fragment of hope he had had was now gone.
Subconsciously, he had unscrewed the cap for the sleeping pills. He looked into the bottle. It was mostly full. Perfect. Time to end this. He took a deep breath. He was in too much pain and not sober enough to write a note. That's what people usually did, wasn't it? It was to tell everyone they love goodbye. Well, there was nobody Tony loved, and nobody that loved him. He was alone. In one swift motion, he swung the bottle of pills to his lips and with a trembling hand, poured out as many as he could swallow. He gulped them down. This was it. It's over now. He'd only swallowed about a quarter of the bottle, which wasn't quite fatal. Just as he was lifting his hand again, he had a sudden convulsion and fell to the floor. His vision blurred as he rolled on the ground in excruciating pain. Lying on his side, he started to hyperventilate, and then vomited. The vomit sprayed all over the floor and himself. He was vaguely aware of some background noise, probably Jarvis again, but he couldn't focus on it. This was the end. He would never wear his Iron Man suit, never see Pepper, never laugh with Rhodey or Happy, never see Bruce or any of the other Avengers. This really was the end. His consciousness was slipping away. Someone burst into the room and there was some yelling, then he felt his body being lifted up into a comforting embrace. Whoever was holding him drew him in close, and he could feel who it was. Bruce. A ghost of a smile drifted across his face. Now, he could finally die happy.