Characters: Steve Rogers, Tony Stark, Other Avengers
Pairings: Steve Rogers/Tony Stark, Tony Stark/Other
Universe: Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes
Warnings: Major Character Death, Major Character Injury, Blood, Unhappy Ending, Ambiguous/Open Ending, Implied Sexual Content, Swearing.
Major Tags: Temporary Amnesia, Secret Relationship, Angst and Tragedy, Canon-Typical Violence, Break Up (kind of?), Unknowing Infidelity (Technically? Ish?), Hurt No Comfort, Time Skips, Hurt Tony Stark, Tony Stark Needs a Hug, Hurt Steve Rogers, Steve Rogers Needs a Hug, POV Alternating
Summery: Some wounds take a lifetime to heal, some take longer.
And some wounds?... Some wounds never heal.
For the @cap-ironman Universe Medley, "Earth’s Mightiest Heroes" Month
Read below or on AO3 >HERE<
Tony wakes up with a gasp, looking around the room.
He raises a hand to his pounding head, rubbing his hand against the bandages.
He... doesn't know what happened. Or where he was...
If he were to guess he was in some sort of hospital. But it wasn't like any he'd ever visited before.
Beside him laying back in a chair is a blond man, asleep.
Cautiously he reaches out and taps the guy on the shoulder.
The man jerks awake, his whole face lighting up when he sees Tony. "You're awake!" the man says.
"Hey buddy, care to tell me what's going on?" he asks.
The man cocks his head to the side. "You had a serious head injury during the last battle. You've been out for a couple of days."
"Battel?" he asks, shrinking back against the bed. "What battle?"
The smile on the man's face dims, concern creeping in.
"The battel against AIM and their 'Super AIMbots'?"
"What the hell is AIM?" He asks.
The smile drops completely off the man's face. "I'll... uhh-" the man says, pointing a thumb in the direction of the door, "I'll just get one of the doctors, okay?"
"Is there nothing you can do for him?" Steve says, folding his arms across his chest. "Nothing?"
The doctor sighs, looking away. "Captain Rogers, we're sorry. Really. But there is nothing we can do. Everything we've tried has failed."
"So you're just gonna give up on him?" Steve growls. "Is that it?"
"No, no." the doctor says hurriedly. "It's just, he hasn't responded to anything we've tried. We've reached out to specialists all over the world. No one has come up with anything that has been able to help him. The only option now is to just wait it out. See if time heals the damage his brain has suffered."
"There is no saying that he could gain his memories back, even with time. But, it's all we've got at this point."
Tony doesn't remember.
He doesn't remember the Avengers. He doesn't remember the Mansion. He doesn't remember whoever Iron Man was.
Apparently, Captain America was recovered from the ice and alive. Which was great, if unbelievable.
Tony doesn't remember and doesn't know what is going on.
But he knows one thing, he doesn't want anything to do with the Avengers.
Steve lays alone in what was once their bed.
Tony left today. Just uprooted and left them all behind.
He has to be strong for the team. The last thing the world needed was the Avengers to fall apart as they did during the Skrull invasion.
Bitterly, he wonders if it all would have been better if they had been open about their relationship. They had both agreed, wanting to keep it private from both the Avengers and the World. Wanting something that was theirs alone.
He measures his reaction to that of the other Avengers.
The only place it is acceptable for Steve to break down is behind closed doors.
Tony is sick of hearing about the avengers. They were everywhere.
He gets it, they're heroes. But it's too much.
There was something off about them. Whenever he hears about them he gets this sick unsettling feeling in the pit of his stomach.
He can't quite identify the feeling he feels, but he knows it not good. But no one he talks to feels the same, everyone loves the Avengers.
He wonders if he was the only one who felt this way. He was alone in his feelings.
He didn't want to hear about the damn Avengers.
Steve would give anything to hear from Tony. To listen to him talk about his day.
Fury tells him Tony has a small mechanics shop in Massachusetts, close to his old university.
He misses Tony like a limb. He respects Tony's wish of no contact, even if it was killing him inside. He knows that if he talks to Tony, he'll come on too strong, and then Tony will disappear from him for good.
Steve hopes deep down that Tony will remember him. That he would just suddenly show up at the steps of Avenger's mansion, looking for him.
The doctors say that is an impossibility. Surviving 70 years in ice was an impossibility.
He wonders some nights, alone in his bed, about storming SHIELD and finding the Comic Cube. Putting all of this right. But he doesn't.
That was a dangerous dream he only allowed himself to indulge in his lowest moments. Moments that were becoming more and more frequent.
Would he ever be able to let go of Tony?
Everything was going great.
Tony stretches out on the bed, a grin pulling at his lips.
His business was picking up steam. He had gained a steady stream of customers.
Life was calm and peaceful.
Every so often one of his favourite regulars, Nicholas, would stop by to have his motorcycle serviced. The man was well built, tall with wide shoulders and a tight waist. His blond hair was cut short in a military cut, but it only severed to bring more attention to his incredibly blue eyes.
A month ago, Tony had finally asked the man out on a date.
He'd been attracted to the man since he first stepped foot in his shop. There was something about him that drew him in. Something that felt homely and warm. Safe.
And last night, Nick had taken Tony home with him. His grin grows as he thinks about all the fun they'd had last night.
Tony gets up out of Nick's bed, picking his clothes up off the floor and getting dressed before heading downstairs.
He looks around but Nick isn't to be found. Instead, a woman sits in the kitchen, in a tailored suit, pawing at her tablet. Her long ginger hair was pulled back in a tight ponytail. Something like unease begins to swell inside of him.
"Uh, hi. You and Nick-... your not-... you know, together?" he asks. That had to be what he was feeling uneasy about. Right?
She turns to look at him, sizing him up with her sharp green eyes. "No. Nick is my bother," she says. "I'm guessing your Nick's current boyfriend? He's gone to work."
"Ahh," Tony says. The uneasy feeling doesn't disappear. He looks away, unable to meet her gaze. "Thanks, uhh...?"
"Pepper." She says.
Tony nearly swallows his tongue. "Pepper?" he asks, voice shaking.
Something about that makes his guts twist.
"Yeah," she says, "That my name, don't wear it out. And yours?"
"Tony," he says, "I... got to go."
She waves him off. "Bye, Tony."
His gut is rolling. He could feel the headache building.
Maybe this thing between himself and Nick wouldn't work out in the long run.
It's been so long. Nearly two years, but it feels like an eternity. And yet, the hurt is so fresh, it could have been yesterday Tony walked out on them. On him.
Every day feels like he's just been going through the motions. He knows he should probably seek help. He knows it's not healthy. But, he doesn't want the pity. It already hurts enough without everyone watching him, feeling sorry for him. Maybe they would even be angry at him, and Tony, for keeping this from them.
He wouldn't be able to handle it. Either way.
It's been so long, he can't keep lying to himself anymore. Tony wasn't coming back.
Steve sits up on his bed. He runs his fingers over his engagement ring, playing with it.
Wishing and wanting wasn't going to change anything. He was only fooling himself. He needed to let go of the past and move on with his life.
Steve takes a few steadying breaths, preparing himself for what he was about to do. But it needed to be done.
With trembling fingers, he takes off his engagement ring. His eyes cloud with tears. He lifts the ring to his lips, kissing it one final time. Saying goodbye.
He stands up, legs shaking and unsteady, and makes his way over to his closet. Sitting on the draws was his treasure box, filled with all his most precious possessions. He opens the box and rests his engagement ring atop of the letters Tony had sent him throughout their relationship.
Steve pulls open his sock draw, roughly shoving his socks aside to make room for the box. He didn't want to see it. He pushes the box right to the back of the draw and piles socks atop of it to hide it.
As he closes the draw he falls to his knees, sobbing.
Tony wasn't coming back.
News of Captain America's death fills the media. The whole world is in mourning.
His gut clenches uncomfortably, like an itch he can't scratch.
His brain screams wrong. He just can't tell what part of it is wrong.
Regardless of his feelings towards the Avengers, it was always sad when a hero dies.
From what Tony hears, the Captain was a good guy.
It's a shame, truly. But it happens. Good people die every day.
Tony shrugs it off and continues his work.
The Avengers stand together silently, morning their loss.
A week ago the world had its funeral for Captain America. Today, the Avengers were gathered for a service of their own to commemorate Steve Rogers. Something just for them to celebrate one of their own, one of their growing family, not the hero the world knew.
It was small, simple, held in the gardens of Avengers Mansion. Every Avenger was in attendance. All except one whose absence was felt strongly.
Carol cast her eyes across the small group, her eyes coming to rest on the one empty chair.
Even knowing Tony wouldn't be attending, they had left a chair for him. Respecting the man's wish to be completely uninvolved with them, they hadn't invited him. But a chair was left open in his honour and memory, knowing that if things happened differently that he would be here with them today.
It was no surprise to everyone here that Tony wasn't absent, but it hurt all the same.
Tony stares at the MTT Y2K Turbine Superbike with wide eyes, unable to look away, his stomach twisting into knots.
The man who brought it, Owen Holder Anderson, claps him on the back, grinning ear to ear. "Isn't she beautiful?" the man says proudly.
There was no doubt about that.
Averaging around $250,000, only five were made a year, customized to the buyer's specifications. With the Rolls Royce engine, the motorcycle could reach speeds of nearly 300mph in seconds.
The bike was beautiful.
He runs his eyes over the soft curves and dips, the hard angles and slopes. The glossy iridescent blue paint job all but glows under the workshop's lights.
But something about it was wrong.
That gut-twisting feeling was back, the one he got whenever he saw the Avengers on the news.
He didn't understand what it was about the motorcycle that brought up that feeling.
"Where did you get it?" Tony barely feeling his mouth form the words.
The man puffs out his chest proudly, "I got it from the Avengers action."
"The Avenger's action?" he echoes. This was an Avenger's motorcycle?
The man gives him a concerned look, "Yeah. Don't you know? It was all over the news."
Tony shrugs, "Too busy to watch the news these days." he says.
"Ahh." The man says, smile slipping back onto his face. "I get that. Work, huh? Yeah, apparently this was Captain America's bike. Who would have thought? I would have expected the guy to go for the more old-fashioned bikes. I mean, he did have a few, but most of his collection was modern. Maybe it was a gift or somethin'. But I saw it and had to have it."
Captain America's bike.
The though Sticks, long after the man, Owen, had left.
Carol sighs, raising her glass to her lips.
They had cleared out Steve's room. They had been debating whether or not to do it for a while. Ultimately deciding to send most of Steve's belongings, the more personal items, into storage, and getting rid of the rest. It wasn't like the Captain would ever be using it again.
They thought Steve would have more things, but the man's room was mostly empty. It felt used, lived in, but barely. Like the man had spent most of his time elsewhere.
It was perplexing. His room at the mansion was his only listed place of residence. While he could have been living in hotels, they all doubted that he would be taking all his possessions with him from hotel to hotel.
Clint had speculated that Steve simply was a man who preferred a Spartan lifestyle. As if living in a barracks.
Janet had disagreed. Saying Steve loved the music player she gifted him and carried it around with him often.
Hank argued that didn't mean that Steve didn't prefer to have few possessions.
Janet had sighed, sitting down on the edge of Steve's bed.
Carefully they had packed up Steve's things, questions swimming in their heads.
While clearing out Steve's closet draws they had found the answers to their questions.
There was a small shoebox pushed to the back of his sock draw. In it, they had found notes, letters, little bits of information that opened the window into the man that was Captain America. For all that Steve was a friendly and kind man, he wasn't open about his private life.
Finding out Steve and Tony had been in a relationship for at least three years before Tony's amnesia was a hard pill to swallow.
No one of them had known how much their Captian was suffering. He had hidden his pain well. Too well...
Carol sets her glass down on the dining table, dropping her head into her hands.
"You know..." Clint says, his voice rough. "I can't help but wonder if-"
"No." Carol interrupts sharply, her voice biting, "We can't think like that."
"I guess it doesn't matter now anyway," Clint says, looking away with a shrug.
"It doesn't," Carol says.
Janet gives a sad smile. "Steve would have given his life to protect the world regardless of what was going on with him personally," she says. "...He's done so before,"
"Enough," Vison calls softly, drawing everyone's attention. "Let us remember the Captain fondly," he says. "It would have been what he wanted."
It's been months. Tony can't get the motorcycle out of his head. But every time he thinks about it, he gets a headache.
He's only found one solution. One way to stop the thinking of the bike, and stop the headaches that result.
It's wrong. Creepy. He knows it is. But he can't bring himself to feel bad.
Tony looked up the guy who owned the motorcycle in his client records. Found out where he lives.
In the middle of the night, protected by the cover of darkness, Tony drives over to the man's house to see the bike again. He doesn't know what posses him to do it, maybe he does. He needed answers. He wanted to stop the headaches, the withering in his gut. To stop the sickening feeling he got whenever he thought of Captain America, and the other Avengers.
He slips in past the security and makes his way over to the bike.
For hours each night, he sitting there watching the bike until the sun rose.
He's exhausted. Been losing sleep. He knows it shows. Deep shadows hang under his eyes. He's pale and shaky. He's lost weight. It's a struggle to stay awake and focused during work.
But he needs to know. He needs answers. And he has a feeling about the bike. Like it holds the key he needs.
With each visit, he works himself up to touch it. Sitting closer and closer each time. Reaching out and hovering his hand over it.
One night, he finally touches the bike. And when he does, he can't bring himself to stop.
He feels floaty like his head was full of cotton. He can barely feel the writhing of his gut. The pain has stopped, something inside him has been silenced. Some part of him, buried deep down in his core, is finally at peace.
Tony runs his fingers over the bike, his head spinning with the inexplicable familiarity of it all.
How does he know this bike?
His mind goes back to the moment where he'd woken up in the Avenger's Mansion.
Why was he taken there of all places? Why wasn't he taken to the local hospital? Were the local hospitals full? was that it? If so, then why was he the only one taken to the Avengers' mansion for medical treatment? What made him special? Why was he singled out? Why?
Why was it whenever he thought of the Avengers his head pounded and his stomach hurt? What was he forgetting? What happened? Who was he really? Did he know? He thought he knew, but he wasn't sure anymore.
The Avengers had said he was one of them, but he couldn't believe that.
But what if it were true?
What if he was an Avenger?
What if that was what that uncomfortable feeling was about?
His mind had forgotten, but his body was trying to tell him something was wrong.
Who was he?
Tony runs his fingers over the message inscribed under the bike's windshield. Somehow, even with the letters long gone, he knew what the message said.
"With love, Shellhead."
Somehow deep down, he knew he was 'Shellhead'.
With his heart pounding in his chest he gets on the bike and drives away. Disappearing into the night, memories biting at his heels.
Carol makes her way up the path leading to Steve's grave, energy sparking underneath her fingertips. Rage burns away inside her heart.
News had reached them that a motorcycle had been left by Steve's grave.
'If some punk had taken it upon themselves to mess with Steve's grave...'
Carol takes the Avengers to investigate. She is sure that every one of them is every bit as furious as she was. Every bit as ready to bring justice against anyone who decided to mess with his final resting place.
They reach Steve's grave. Resting against the monument is a sporty-looking blue motorcycle.
Thankfully the rest of the site is undisturbed. Carol lets out a breath of air.
Vision floats over to the motorcycle, frowning.
"What?" Carol asks.
"This vehicle belonged to our late Captain," Vison states.
"It does look familiar," Clint adds. The archer walks up to the bike, laying his hands on the leather seat.
"But who...?" Carol asks, trailing off.
"This motorcycle, like many of Captain Rogers' others, were sold in Auction to the public. It is currently registered to a Mr. Owen Holder Anderson in Massachusetts." Vision says.
"How did it get all the way over here?" Janet asks.
"And why?" Clint asks.
"Maybe they felt guilty or something? Or felt weird owning it?" Janet says, "Or... maybe someone stole it and tried to return it to Steve."
Carol frowns. "Maybe," she says.
Clint looks up from the bike and stills, his eyes narrowing.
"What is it?" Carol asks.
"I think they left something else too," Clint says, stepping around the bike to crouch in front of Steve's monument. "The ground is disturbed. Something was buried here. Recently." Clint digs his hands into the soil, pulling away the dirt to reveal a small, palm-sized back box. With shaking hands Clint pulls it from the soil.
Taking a deep breath, Clint opens the small box revealing a pair of gold rings laying side by side. Wedged into the lid is a folded piece of paper with a small heart drawn on the top.
Carefully Clint opens the note, the rest of the Avengers looking over his shoulders.
Upon reading the note a heavy silence falls over the Avengers. Clint curses softly under his breath, his shoulders sagging. Janet pivots on her heel, burrowing her face into Hank's chest. Hank wraps his arms around her, tucking her head under his chin, eyes distant. Banner removes his glasses and presses his palms into his eyes. Thor walks away, his expression equal parts stormy and heartbroken. Vision gazes up at the sky, misery clear in his expression, tears running down his cheeks.
Carol closes her eyes, willing away her own tears. She steps back from the group and leaves, making her way down the path and out of the cemetery.
Inside the note were a few lines of a song, written in Tony Stark's unmistakable handwriting.
Like a song of love that clings to me,
How the thought of you does things to me.
Has someone been more...
In every way,
And forever more
That's how you'll stay.