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Super Short. I also don't have a beta.

He hadn't left his workshop in three days. It wasn't all too unusual, but it wasn't healthy either. A toxic mix of coffee and alcohol coursed through his veins, making him volatile and vulnerable. He couldn't face his friends. Not like this.

It was pathetic. But then again, Tony always had a chink in his armor for Captain America's judgements. A side effect of having the living legend himself as your childhood hero. It was ridiculous that one well placed comment could burn it all down. But it had, and Tony did what Tony does best when stressed. He fled. And he drank.

He got low in his self imposed isolation. And adding alcohol into the mix, although usually is his top choice for self medicating himself to a dreamless sleep at night, was not helping in this situation. It just made it all worse.

Big man in a suit of armor. Take that off, what are you?

A self hating piece of shit, that's what. One who didn't even have the strength to let go of the bottle that he come to rely on.

He had it relatively under control, he told himself. He was always, always sober for missions, it was only late at night that he got utterly smashed. In his defense, he had developed a pretty effective hangover cure years ago, so even the morning hangover sessions were minimized. But what did it matter to the perfect, faultless Captain America?

I know guys with none of that worth ten of you. I've seen the footage. The only thing you really fight for is yourself. You're not the guy to make the sacrifice play, to lay down on a wire and let the other guy crawl over you.

Tony was too apathetic to ask what footage Rogers had supposedly seen. It was pre-Afghanistan, he knew that much. Anything post had been obliterated. No wonder he hated him. When Tony thought back to those years, he hated himself too.

He was wrong about the sacrifice play, however. He had proved that at Manhattan. Or rather, he proved that he cared about anything, and everything over himself.

You know, you may not be a threat, but you better stop pretending to be a hero.

He wasn't a hero. He wasn't even an Avenger, not really. He was a consultant, or in other words, unneeded and expendable.

Just because you're rich and privileged, doesn't mean you can just drown yourself in alcohol whenever you want! You put all of us in danger every time you bring a bottle to your lips!

Tony's hands were shaking. They curled around his half full tumbler in a crushing grip and hurled it against the wall. The resulting smash was deafening in the relative silence of the workshop. Exorbitantly priced scotch dripped down the wall lethargically, making its way towards the graveyard of broken glass below.

He stood among the clutter of his bench, breathing shakily.

"Sir?" Jarvis' voice filtered in. Tony rubbed his face blearily and sat back down in the chair.

"What's up."

"Miss Potts is calling. She's on Line One. Shall I pick up?"

Great. One of the Avengers had gotten concerned and run to mommy.

"Not now, Jar," he said.

A beat. Tony could practically hear Jarvis running through his coding and data, finding what was the best thing to say.

"Might I suggest that you go upstairs? At least to let the team know you're alive?" The sarcasm was half assed at best, but Tony appreciated the effort.

"Nah. Let them think whatever they want. If they ask, tell them to piss off."

"In those exact words?"

"Whatever." Tony got up from the chair again, a little too quickly. His head throbbed from lack of sleep and viable food. He had been eating granola bars, instant oatmeal, and pretzels at random intervals, but at this point he doubted it would be enough to quell his mutinous stomach. So he reluctantly left the safety of his lab and travelled up to the more populated floor of the tower, and subsequently, the better stocked kitchen.

"Finally joining the land of the living?" Tony turned sharply from his furtive slouch next to the pantry to see Clint smirking at him, leaning against the doorway.

"Ran out of food," Tony muttered honestly. It wasn't worth the effort to come up with an excuse if the man already knew the truth.

"Heads up!" The genius's hand shot up reflexively as he caught what Clint tossed to him. A package of SHIELD mandated protein smoothie mix. Tony knew that this was a SHIELD agent staple; it was invaluable when on missions where nutrition was hard to come by. He looked back at his friend with a quizzical, yet grateful expression. "In case you need to sulk some more," the archer said nonchalantly, but Tony could hear the sincerity in the man's words.

"Thanks." He gathered up some more supplies under his arm, including some fresh vegetables and fruit (Pepper would be proud) and prepared to retreat.

"Hey," Clint called at Tony's back. Tony looked behind his shoulder as he continued to walk.

"What now?" he answered, faux annoyance laden in his voice.

A pause.

"Come back soon alright? You're the only other person in this tower without a stick up their ass."

Tony took it as the compliment it was meant to be.

"Alright bird brain. Hold down the fort for a little while longer."

He just needed some time alone, time to rebuild his confidence and his normal sparkly demeanor. He couldn't let the public think him weak.