“J.A.R.V.I.S call Fury we are not going to let another seventy-years go by this time.”
Can I just add this? Okay.
Imagine if they were too late. And Tony lost his one true love. Imagine him turning to alcohol yet again. The one person who brought balance to his life and made him a better person is now gone. Before he met Steve he only fooled around, and when Steve came into his life, something changed. He suddenly had a newfound meaning. A reason to be a better person.
And after a while, Tony couldn’t handle all of this anymore, so he pulled out the core and let nature run its course. Imagine Pepper finding him lifeless on the floor with a note saying “I am not half as good at what I do, as when I’m doing it next to you”.
THAT’S OKAY I DIDN’T NEED MY HEART TONIGHT
Just when you feel okay tonight…
The last person in the world Tony ever wanted to be compared to was his father. Not because Howard was the worst man to ever live or anything as foolish as that, but because of what it would mean to be like his father. Tony knew Howard Stark in a way that few did. Not as the genius inventor that helped bring the world into the Age of Technology; but as a drunk, mean, detached, less-than-half-decent father and husband.
Tony didn’t hate his father; far from it, really. It was his desire to be accepted by Howard that had eventually driven him to bitterness, but never once had he truly hated the man. Still, the last thing he wanted was to be compared to him.
Yet as he sat crouched over his desk (in the same way he remembered Howard doing so), his fingers tapping a soothing beat into his skull (Howard did that too, he thinks), with a third glass of whiskey empty by his elbow (definitely Howard); he couldn’t help but think about how he was just like his father. It made him sick.
He sighed, though it came out more as a low shudder; and it sounded like a foreign noise to him because Tony Stark does not sigh like that. Tony Stark is too upbeat and in the moment to let anything get him down.
This was all Steve’s fault.
40 days ago
“Sir, Captain Rogers is calling.”
Tony barely looks up from his work, taking another drink and stretching back. ‘About time’ he almost says. Steve had been gone for almost two days, some sort of S.H.I.E.L.D. work in London; Tony hadn’t been invited. He’d thought about crashing the party anyways, but it seemed too much like something he would do and he knew Fury would be ready for him. So rather than go through the trouble of outwitting Fury (not really any trouble at all. Fury was always one step ahead, but Tony was definitely far more intelligent), Tony had decided to stay home and get some work done.
So far he’d managed to make Hawkeye two new bows, both absolutely perfect in balance and sight, he’d started work on the design specs for a Mark VIII, he’d begun processing a rare (possibly alien) material S.H.I.E.L.D. had sent him, and he’d completely updated J.A.R.V.I.S.’ database. All in all he’d gotten a fair amount done for 48 hours, much more than he’d normally get done with the constant distraction known as Captain Rogers.
Not that he was complaining.
“Answer the call, J.A.R.V.I.S.”
It’s a moment before the connection is established, and Tony can tell immediately that Steve is on the move just from the sound of the engine in the background. “Tony, my plane is crashing.”
There’s a surprising level of calmness in Steve’s voice as he says it, like he’s resigned to the fact; but Tony can recognize the ever-so-slight stress in his tone that signifies distress. Tony’s lips press together into the façade of a pout, even though he knows Steve can’t see him. “Fine, fine. I’m coming to save you.” He says in an almost annoyed tone, like it’s such a hassle. It’s not, of course; Tony’s mind is quickly deducing the best route to reach Steve as fast as possible, and he’s already getting ready to suit up.
“It’s too late.”
Tony knows it’s not possible for your body to just shut down completely, but he’s pretty sure that’s exactly what happens to him when he registers Steve’s words. For a moment he just stares at the screen in silence, like he’s expecting Steve to tell him ‘Just kidding.’ But Steve’s voice was completely serious, and Tony knows he’s telling the truth.
What gets him the most is that Steve sounds okay with it; like he’s just accepted the fact and there’s nothing that can or will be done.
“I love you Stark.”
Tony’s hands are clutching the table now. His mouth feels dry and nausea sweeps over him. “Steve, wait-“
The connection is cut.
Tony’s pretty sure he’s going to be sick.
When he chokes on a sob, disgust washes over him. The memory is too fresh a wound, even a month and a half later. Every last resource at his disposal has gone into finding Steve’s ship; so far it’s been a lost cause. Fury tried to convince him as much, even Pepper had voiced concerns over Tony’s priorities.
His priorities. Like Steve wasn’t a priority.
He hasn’t built or designed a single thing since Steve disappeared; he hasn’t the time for that. He wasn’t going to be like his father. He wasn’t going to allow 70 years to pass before Captain America was found again.
But the more and more Tony tries to keep from repeating his father’s failures, the more and more he ends up just like him: drinking, obsessed, and ignoring all other relationships around him. In a way it was an eye opener; he finally understood why his father had done what he’d done, because Tony was doing it all again now. It finally dawned on him:
Howard had loved Steve too.