Warnings: Language, and lots of it, from the mouth of Tony Stark. Also uncomfortable, fairly explicit subject material in later chapters. This is a rated M for mature story, folks.

Chapter One:

It wasn't the best fight he'd ever had, Tony mused inwardly. Not that he'd been in many good ones. Most of the verbal battles he went through were vindictive, ruthless, and more or less his fault. Even so, this one had definitely reached top ten material.

He would take comfort in the fact that they were finally back at the Tower, and that maybe now he could escape down his private elevator to one of his personal labs to hide, except that there had been an angry Captain America persistently tailing ten steps behind him ever since they'd stepped foot onto the Italian hardwood flooring. Escape was futile, and he wasn't about to drag this back to one of the only places left to him and his science alone.

The heavy clomping of army boots following behind him made it very hard to remember the reasons why Tony had ever thought it was a good idea to make Stark Tower Avenger's Tower in the first place.

His eye twitched repeatedly, the facial spasms only soothing when he caught sight of his liquor bar. Thank God.

He bee lined for to it without an ounce of shame. The clomping of boots stopped somewhere off to his left, because Steve always felt the best way of showing his disapproval, or maybe it was wariness, of Tony's poor drinking habits was by staying as far away from the rather large liquor bar as possible.

"Tony, he could die!" Steve's voice finally raised an octave, officially making this a full-fledged screaming match. Which brought Tony back to one of this reasons why this night was so god-awful to begin with. He did not do screaming matches. Especially not with Captain America.

"Well maybe he should, Steve!" Tony yelled back, shoving ice into his glass and pouring a liberal amount of scotch into it from the nearest bottle.

"C'mon Tony, cut the crap. This is a man's life we're talking about. A senator could die! How can you be so damn detached?" And now the Cap had sunk to swearing. What was happening to the world? How was this his life? When had it even come to this?

He should've just cut his losses when they'd first caught the SHIELD intel that fucking Robert Broughton had been kidnapped and kept in the AIM hideout. Should've swallowed his pride and ego and just let the SHIELD scientists take the months they normally took to sift through all of the data they'd found on some recovered hard drives instead of taking a crack at it himself.

Should've's that would've been nonexistent if that damned band of derelict scientists were smart enough to keep hard copies of the locations of their bases off of their front businesses' computers. They'd really dropped the bar. There used to be standards for supervillain organizations.

"It's a life that both Black Widow and Hawkeye have no problem with leaving to die, why should we?" He threw out, his drink sloshing in its glass as his arms followed his word's path violently.

Steve rolled his eyes, "That's different. Natasha and Clint are –"

Tony cocked a brow, "What? Assassins? Killers? Unable to cherish human life for being human life?" He scoffed, swallowing the glassful of scotch in his hand whole, and savoring the burn.

"You forget who you're talking to, Rogers. Merchant of Death, here. I've killed thousands more than them in a week." Shit, and now he was back to last names. The ground being lost here, in these split seconds, wasn't even funny.

He gulped down the rest of his drink at the thought. It had taken months of conditioning from both Pepper and Bruce for Tony to build up a front affiable enough, or at least far less abrasive than normal, for the dare-he-say friendly relationship he'd made with Captain Rogers. It was one of his more impressive achievements, and here it was tumbling down like a drunk five year old's Jenga tower.

The scotch burned down his throat nicely, giving him some of that liquid courage that his inherently word-vomiting mouth definitely didn't need.

"Besides, Natasha said those bills this guy's throwing forward to his super-committee served as a huge threat to world stability." Which was the shittiest excuse he'd ever heard the superspy come up with. He winced weakly even as he said it, "or something like that. I'm fuzzy on the key points, but what I'm saying is, it sounded like Armageddon-esque material to me. And hey, she's the super spy with the super-spy-intelligence so who am I to question what she says?" He said with a shrug of his shoulders as if to say what can you do?, before turning away to find more liquor.

He was done with this conversation, done with this fucking hellhole of a day. Maybe if he drank enough, it would all go away.

An ironclad hand suddenly clamped down on his arm, reminding him that Steve never stopped pushing a point no matter how hard Tony blew him off. He turned to glare at the suit-clad limb furiously, because anything that got between him and liquor deserved the patented Glare of Death.

"Natasha and Clint had their humanity stripped down to nothing but a weapon and a target, trained to kill since childhood. Of course they view life differently," Steve said stiffly. "You've pointed it out yourself on occasion. And just because a man has a different political view than us doesn't' mean he should be killed by the likes of AIM."

Point Steve. Like he said, shittiest excuse ever. If he could guess, Natasha and Clint, or more specifically SHIELD itself, had a little more information about what was really happening than they were willing to release to the public. Maybe it was something that was actually world-threatening. Or maybe they just really hated it when their funding got cut. Either way, Tony didn't give a fuck.

"Would you let go of my fucking arm?" He bit out. He didn't like being touched in a fucking confrontation. It freaked him out. And Steve should fucking know that by now. Great, and now his verbal repertoire was made up of fucking profanities. There was no fucking restart button for this, either. Once it started, he was screwed.

He was smart enough to recognize the warning signs of what this was leading to. He clamped his jaw shut, a reasonable corner of his brain telling him that he would regret everything he said from this point forward.

"Not until you take this damn conversation seriously," Steve said adamantly, eyes flashing like some sort of hellfire out of the Old Testament.

That reasonable corner of his brain had forgotten to take into account just how much of a righteous bastard Steve was. Anyone else would've dropped this after the first raging half hour that the flight back had turned into. Only Steve, with his driving urge to program everyone into his quaint idea of some universal morality, would push this so fucking hard.

"Fuck off," Tony rebutted angrily, slamming his glass down on the counter. He could fill it up one handed, no problem. Grabbing the next nearest bottle determinedly, he shakily aimed it over the glass only to have Steve rip it from his grasp with his free hand.

"God damn it, Rogers. Get the fuck out of my face!" Tony yelled.

"What the hell is wrong with you!?" Steve dug relentlessly, his eyes unmercifully exploring Tony's face.

"What's wrong with you?" Tony threw back at him. "Our big world-saving mission finished over an hour ago, I think we did enough for the day! Besides, this guy's been missing for two days now? Not feeling the likelihood of success here. So drop it!"

And where the hell was everybody else? Usually Bruce, or Natasha managed to stop them before it ever got this far, because everyone knew sticking Tony and Steve in a room together with a disagreement was like screaming Fire! at a plasmid rhododendron. It should never be done, a lesson that had been learned, and learned well.

They'd probably seen the warning signs of what this was turning into far earlier than him, and being the smart people they were, they were already very, very far away from here. Except for Clint, who Tony'd bet was watching with popcorn in the ventilation shaft again. Why everyone thought that the mixture of curiosity, bravery, and sometimes outright stupidity that made up the archer was a sane enough mixture to be given the rights of an adult, let alone a superspy hero he would never know. Another piece of the weird misshapen Avenger puzzle that he couldn't begin to understand on a good day, let alone in a drunken rage.

"Is that what this is?" Steve latched on, narrowing his eyes, "You think we're too late? Might as well not even try?"

A nearly hysterical laugh crept from Tony's throat, "Not even a little!" He managed to snatch the scotch back from Steve's hand—which meant Steve let him have it, which meant maybe he was winning?—and poured himself a shaky glass. His mouth kept going despite his brain's desperate screaming, "Jesus, Rogers.I wouldn't help the fucking bastard if I was five feet away from him! He deserves everything he gets."

Tony realized with the shrinking corner of his brain that was still fucking reasonable as he caught a straight look at the soldier's face that, nope, whatever this was, it definitely wasn't winning.

Steve dropped his arm slowly, his face a stone mask, his tone tense in warning, "You don't mean that."

Tony scoffed, throwing his head back as he shot back another glass, all the while walking backwards to behind the bar to put distance between them.

"You want to go out there and save his worthless hide, be my guest. The clock's ticking, and it's not in his favor," Tony allowed the concession roughly, liquor still leaving burning lines down his throat and into his churning stomach. He turned his back on the soldier to reach for a bottle that was on one of the higher shelves. He was aiming for smashed tonight, and this stuff would do it. "But there is no way in hell I am about to waste my breath on that—" fucking filthy piece of shit bastard "—man."

And Natasha said he couldn't be tactful. Ha.

The moment of silence that followed after that almost gave Tony the false hope that Steve had crept out to do as he had said. But that was dashed when he heard the clipped noise of army boots stepping closer, no doubt cutting off his only exit from the bar.

"This isn't just you disagreeing with his politics," Steve finally said slowly, and Tony could practically hear the cogs clicking in the man's brain, "Or even you being your normal damn stubborn self."

Tony forced out a laugh even as the rest of his body tightened into a familiar fight-or-flight response. He remembered to have enough class to drop a few rocks into his glass. No need to look too desperate. Chugging lost it's cool after twenty-five.

"You know him," Steve finally said, voice even and cool.

He felt himself freeze, having dreaded the moment the argument would get to this. "He's a fucking Senator from Oregon, how the hell would I know him? I don't even know where the fuck Oregon is," Tony scoffed, refusing to turn around and face the man. Not that it did much good, they could both see each other's reflections in the glass windows right in front of him. He could make out Steve's pinched eyebrows from here, his own unnaturally pale face. Damn pigment, giving him away. Everything was out to get him today.

"What does a man have to do for you to hate him so much that you would let him die in cold blood?" Steve asked, unforgiving in tone. To the soldier there was no excuse, because Steve was Mr. fucking Perfect. And maybe Tony's angry, bitter thoughts that Steve was the kind of man that would always do the right thing even if it ate him up inside were driving force in this angry drunken rampage. But Tony Stark wasn't Captain America, and he wouldn'teven attempt to do what Steve was asking.

So he refused to rise to the bait, ignoring the tension in his shoulders that the question brought. "I told you, Rogers, do whatever the hell you want. Just leave me out of it," Tony grated out.

There were a few more moments of avoiding eye contact through their reflections before Steve's face hardened even more.

"This isn't over, Tony," he said sternly. The soldier turned and left without looking back. Tony didn't bother to look behind him, outwardly passive as he sipped his expensive as hell glass of what was now brandy.

It was only when JARVIS called out to inform him the Captain Rogers had taken the jet on a programmed route to the AIM hideout in the Appalachian Mountain Range he'd uncovered that Tony allowed for anything more. He turned, throwing his glass as hard as he could at the far wall. It shattered magnificently, but it wasn't until after two bottles followed that Tony was satisfied, his breath coming out in heaves.


AN: Not really sure what this is, or where it came from in my mind. But it's angsty. With a bit of sharp language, because Tony Stark gets a little mouthy when he's on the defensive, who knew? So, yeah. Thought I'd share. And as I mentioned in the warning, this turns into some pretty heavy content in the next chapter, hence the mature rating.

The next chapter will be up tomorrow, because I planned ahead for once and already have it sitting in the Doc Manager. Just have to push the button.

For those of you who know me, yeah. . . sorry about the whole falling off the face of the Earth thing. There are lots of reasons, the biggest being that I was abroad for seven months doing some soul searching, and my laptop practically broke in half a few weeks in.

I'll be uploading the new chapters to some of my other work in the near future, as soon as I dig them up off of my old hard drive (if that's possible), or find that one damn flash drive I had the insight to put everything onto once.

Thanks for reading,