They didn't notice. Well, not at first, that it was getting this bad, that it would get this bad, this far.
They didn't notice the sleepless nights down in the lab, never coming and eating with them, the slow but still should have been noticeable weight loss, the heavy, almost black bags under his eyes. They didn't notice the constant shivers that racked his body when they were not looking, and the slight tremble that should have alerted the more observant of them, that indicated he couldn't keep the shivers fully hidden. They didn't notice when he started wear longer sleeves, the paling of his usually tanned skin, or the dead look in his eyes that seemed to never leave, one that had been there since he flew through the portal to save the entire city. They didn't ask if he was alright, after the battle. Or any battle they had after that, not noticing the slow withdraw of their teammate.
Now that they looked back, staring at the still and pale white, sickly form on the white bed in the private medical room in the helicarrier, they realized it started with his smiles. The usually casual and easy smiles that would light up his face, a room, make the press and his fans go wild. The smiles became tighter, more forced, less happy, and didn't give as much light anymore….
Tony was in a meeting when it happened, when he fell asleep. He hadn't had sleep in 84 hours at this point, and his body just gave in in the middle of an avengers meeting when it happened.
So much pain
He is trying to draw a breath but when he takes a breath he chokes, no oxygen .
He struggles to draw a breath, he tries to tell JARVIS to cut all powers to the thrusters so he could fall out of the portal and restart them when he was out-
But he couldn't breathe, he couldn't talk.
When he passes out, he was aware on what went on around him.
Including that he was falling.
He was falling
(Wasn't the Hulk supposed to catch him by now?)
Oh God, the ground-
Tony startled awake, gasping in much needed air from phantom suffocation.
He stared wildly around him, before realizing where he was and almost blushing when he realized that the whole team was staring at him, some in concern, and others in annoyance (Steve, Fury).
Clint softly asked if he was ok.
Tony did his best and with a great amount of effort managed his best disarming smile, noticing with a silent curse that it was more dim and tight, than bright and beaming.
Fortunately for him, they didn't notice.
"Of course I'm fine! Fury and Captain Spangles over there are just so boring!"
Clint and the rest of the team fell for it, and while Fury and Steve glared and Clint laughed and Bruce rolled his eyes, Tony was realizing they were just like the others.
They didn't notice. Nobody ever did.
As they stared down at the sickly and pale form on the bed, they each remembered one of those tight, tired grins that this man gave them. Each one. The machine monitoring his heart beeped on, and they thought hard about the next sign they should have noticed, his aversion to food when he would lose weight slowly but surely….
They had finely got Tony out of his lab, something they had yet to accomplish, till now.
Now, Tony was glaring at his kidnappers, as Bruce and Natasha marched him out of his lab and sat him at the dinner table.
"You will eat, for the next week at least, with us. Every meal."
Tony glared, but backed down at the frightening look that Natasha gave him .
For the next week he ate with them, but every meal after he made himself throw up. He didn't deserve the food they made him, not when he was such a fuck up. He couldn't even prevent that woman from getting hurt in last week's mission.
They didn't notice him grow paler and lose more weight as they forced him to eat for each meal.
They didn't notice.
Nobody ever did.
Natasha and Bruce stared sadly at the skinny form breathing softly, being fed through a breathing tube.
He had heat blankets on him, to stop his body from getting cold. He apparently had contracted a new form of hypothermia when he was helping Bruce who was trying to create a cure for the hulk. Bruce didn't even notice Tony spilled the ice blue liquid on his skin. If he did, he would have gone straight to the hospital wing of SHIELD and demanded they take care of him while he found a cure.
But he didn't. He didn't notice.
"Hey, Tony, what with the hoodie man? Its 90 degrees out!"
Clint laughed, dropping down from his perch on the counter, seeing Tony in one of his rare times out of the lab.
Tony gave a stiff smile.
"It's just a little cold down in the lab feathers. A room made with metal and practically filled with it doesn't hold much heat. Doesn't take a genius to figure that out. Oh, wait, apparently it does."
A bull faced lie, so much so that Tony was half shocked that Clint believed it. He designed this place. Of course he put heaters in the lab.
But ever since he spilled that glowing blue liquid on himself while trying to help Bruce find a cure for the Hulk, he could not get his body to warm up, and he tried everything. All he could do was stop his body from getting any colder.
"Yah, Ok. No need to be mean Tony. I gotta go help Thor with Skype, he want to talk to that Jane girl again."
Tony gave a Stiff, entirely fake (how did he not notice?) smile , and all he said was;
"Ok feathers you get right on that." While waving his hands (they shook, violently, how did he not see-)
"See ya Tony."
Clint walked out of the room.
"Yah, see ya." Tony mumbled.
His frame shook with violent shivers for the rest of the day.
They didn't notice.
They never did.
Thor stared forlornly at the man of Iron, with his bandaged wrists.
He should have seen the signs, his broth- Loki, did the same thing when they were teenagers.
But he didn't notice.
None of them did.
Until it was too late.
When they realized that at the end of the mission, that Iron Man was not responding on the Comm units, they ran to his last known location. They had been fighting doombots, and these ones Doom when all out to make, they were hard to beat, and they did, but at a cost. They rushed Tony to the SHIELD helicarrier and ran him to the medical wing. While the doctors tended to their severely injured teammate, the worried, and paced, and paced.
When the doctor came in, the hope that bloomed in their chest deflated instantly.
Natasha had seen that look many times.
"How long? How long does he-" she choked, not able to finish it.
The doctor shook his head, staring at them with sympathy.
"Not long. An hour, at most. He was severely malnourished and hasn't eaten for at least half a month, or he has been eating, but throwing it up, he has a strange form of hypothermia, he is fatally exhausted, and has clearly been cutting , enough to lose a fair amount of blood."
The doctor took a deep breath before looking at all of them.
"I believe that the only reason why he had not died before now is because the arc reactor in his chest has been working harder to keep him alive. That, and sheer stubborn will. You can see him now. I warn you, it's not pretty. We have him on life support, but even that is failing.
That was fifty eight minutes ago, and they had two minutes left.
They each said their goodbyes. Shed their tears.
And when an hour was up, they heard a wailing beep that signalled his passing.
They didn't notice the smile on his now peaceful face as they wheeled his body away.
They didn't notice.
Nobody ever did.
AN; just something I had time to write in between homework and school. Review please!