I recommend listening to Tears of an Angel in the background of this, it makes it so much more powerful.
thanks for reading.
Stars glittered over the New York skyline, twinkling and winking at the people below. No one bothered to look up at the glittering specks, not even those who were practically walking with them. Alone in a tower of glass a single figure stood. He staggered through his tower, brown eyes glued to the ground before him, focusing on simply standing and going somewhere. His mind could hardly focus on that task.
His hand was clamped around a crystal glass, holding it tight as if it was his only link to reality. His other hand was stuffed deep in his pocket and holding onto a stiff object with unyielding force. Both thumbs ran over the objects in their grasp.
They were the only constants in Tony's life anymore. He couldn't count on people.
They were fallible.
So did machines; They had a lifespan, too.
Jarvis had been his longest time companion. The AI had taken care of its master without relent as long as he could. Tony knew that. Though that did nothing the anger that clawed at his mind for not making Jarvis's systems safer, for protecting the AI better.
Tony's head tilted back as the glass came up to his lips. The comforting burn of the dark liquid warmed the billionaire's throat. He squinted as he approached the window. He tried to look out at the lights, but his eyes were drawn to his reflection on the glass.
A coarse guffaw split the air. His gaze dragged over his ragged form. The perfectly combed hair was disheveled and the trimmed goatee was a mess. Oil and sweat stains covered his shirt and a plentiful amount of grease streaks coated his face and limbs. His face was almost sunken in appearance, though his eyes were the worst. Bags had gathered beneath his blood-shot and puffed eyes.
Steve would have none of his antics, if the soldier caught him. The captain's motto was to always look as if you were taking a lady out to dinner. Perfect, and utterly presentable.
Tony almost broke.
His eyes shut and tore themselves away from the window. His face scrunched into an unrecognizable grimace as his arm lifted and then the glass was flying from his hand. The sound of it shattering was lost to Tony as the man fell to his knees, crumbling like his soul.
His heart was tearing itself to pieces again, making him relive the happiest moments he had ever experienced. The unspeakable sensation of flying with Rogers, the immense joy that had come with their first night on the town, the innumerable choruses of laughter that had slipped from all at the announcement of their relationship… All the wonders that Steve had shown Tony blurred together in the brunet's mind.
Tony had never understood how Steve had come to like him, to love him, after the shit that both of them had put the other through that first mission. Neither had been playing a particularly polite ballgame those days. The genius's heart clenched as he traveled a little longer down the river of memories. He could brave the waves a while more, only for the images of Steve's blonde hair in the sun, his crystalline eyes so full of innocence, his cheeks pink and hot as his thoughts caught up with Tony's own.
The super soldier had always tried so hard to comprehend Tony, put everything he had on the table every time he was sorting through information. Tony had found out, a few weeks into their relationship, that Steve stayed up late into the night reading science stuff to understand what Tony was talking about. Steve was entirely devoted to Tony, and that was a first for the playboy. He had never had anyone devoted to him, as a person. There had been people devoted to his money, his name, but never to his quirky, snappy, spastically insane personality.
The night Tony realized that simple fact was the night that he had truly proven he had a heart. Tony Stark had fallen head over heels for Steven Rogers in a single night without the captain even trying.
And now, Tony was regretting ever laying eyes on the living form of Captain America.
His heart was falling apart, ripping to dust and every small fragment burning slowly in an icy fire. Tony had felt his fair share of heartbreak, a list of names equally as long as those he had left heartbroken. But, he had never cared for anyone as he had cared for Steve, the blue-eyed angel to his handsome inner-devil. He knew Steve had thought it, it was a simple fact. Tony was pure evil compared to Steve's kindness and unequalled generosity.
There was no one more generous man than Steven Rogers. He had tried his hardest to partake in a war he knew that he was likely to never comeback from. Once he realized that he had made it past the grim and gritty times, ever the martyr, the good captain threw himself back on the line. Steve was not only the first Avenger, nor was he simply an Avenger, he was the leader of the Avengers. He wore the biggest target on his chest.
A shuddering laugh split the air again as Tony tipped his head back, looking at the ceiling. He had told the man to choose a new uniform, advised him that wearing a red and blue outfit in gray backgrounds was not stealthy. The old goof had turned the question on Tony, saying that a red and gold metal suit was hardly stealthy either. Tears were welling anew in the creases of Tony's eyes as he bit back the retort that he could have said.
His lips twisted as his heart clenched again. The muscle was getting too tired and working to hard to carry on. It was a tattered thing, hardly shreds as it burnt itself out. Tony had done little to protect it over his years, never fearing anyone would bother to let him care enough about them for it to matter. He had never expected to meet, nor date, Captain Fucking America. So, naturally his life choices swarmed him and decided whenever was the ideal moment to weigh the genius down.
Tony had never cared before what life threw at him. Any and all troubles sent him to the lab, to the coffee pot or to the nearest bar. His liver was probably screwed a thousand times over, but he could hardly offer any condolences to the organ. All it needed to do was keep working a little longer. Tony's hand closed around the cool metal in his pocket. His fingers wound around the smooth surface, feeling the softness in the grain and choking back an undignified sound. He refused to seem weaker than he was. If they would all have to see this on tape, than they would not see how weak he was. Balling, like a frail young child with a scraped knee, would only prove that he was unfit for the initiative.
He hated being wrong, and he hated it more when he proved himself wrong and Natasha right.
He was not a soldier though. She was. She had known that he was just a civilian in a can, a high-tech can with weapons. He, Tony Stark, was fully admitting, albeit internally, that he was not meant to be on a team with a bunch of super-skilled people while he was hardly anything above a genius with a hobby.
Tony pulled his hand from the pocket of his pants, the silvery surface glinting in the brief light. He rested his heavy burden on his legs. His eyes dropped, looking at the small object in his lap. His stare was practically doe-eyed as his brown eyes traced over the familiar steel bodied pocket knife. It was one of the last things he had of Steve. The others had taken his suit and shield, saying it needed to be buried with the captain. Tony understood them, but that did not stop his heart from starting a rebellion. It wanted everything to stay as it was, everything had to be perfect for Steve.
Tony bit back long overdue tears as he tightened his grip on the knife. He was sick of the pain from living, the lies from failing, and the tears from missing. He lifted his eyes to the steel tool, eyes running over the handle with a fondness. It was his last link to America's Angel, the only thing that he had left to hold onto and keep him grounded.
The small knife had kept Steve grounded in the present too. It was one of the few things that Steve had managed to save from his time in the ice. Tears slipped from Tony's eyes as a last memory flooded his mind. The day Steve had told him about the significance of the knife. He had gotten the knife from Bucky the day he fell into the ravine, it was Bucky's father's knife that he had sent his son the day before he died. Steve had said it was either cursed that passing it on meant one died or blessed that, in battle, as long as you had it you would live to pass it on. As
Tony glared at the knife he made his decision.
It was both. That was the only way Tony could think of the knife. The night before the mission Steve had told Tony about the knife and handed it to him. The soldier was not passing it on, but the knife thought it had been. Steve told Tony that he never went into battle without it, but that day he did.