Romance Fan Fiction posted April 15, 2019


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Avengers Twin flame AU

Twin flame and the ugly truth

The author has placed a warning on this post for language.
Soul-mates believe and the ugly truth



Soul-bonding was a rare occurrence with only 3500 bonding confirmation in America since the early seventeenth century. The rarest and ultimate bond of soul-bonding was called the Twin-flame, they claimed to have spent many past reincarnations together.

Soul-bonding was a romanticized notion. The Alexandrine Institute for the Study and Tracking of Soulmates had this to say on the subject of soulmates-

[Soulmate:] A person with whom you had an immediate connection the moment you met. A connection was so strong that you were drawn to them in a way you had never experienced before. As this connection developed over time, you experienced a love so deep, strong and complex, that you doubted you had ever truly loved anyone prior.

Your soulmate understood and connected with you in every way and on every level, which brought a sense of peace, calmness, and happiness when you were around them. And when you were not around them, you were all that much more aware of the harshness of life, and how bonding with another person in this way was the most significant and satisfying thing you would experience in your lifetime. You were also all that much aware of the beauty in life because you had been given a great gift and would always be thankful.


Children were taught about how perfect, wonderful and sacred soul-bond and Twin-flame were since they could speak. Notwithstanding the bullshit that TV and adults tried to brainwash children with things like 'Something about being with your soul-mate made your blood sang with the serene hum of Zen gardens and all the ever-lasting beauty and joy of meeting your soul-mate.'


Tony wasn't fooled the slightest, his own parents were living proof of the ugly truth. Soul-bonding wasn't the sacred or glorious thing that people, novels, and television made it out to be, and not all soul-bound couples were happy.


The statistic that never got mentioned was that 2% of soul-bonded couples had broken up or divorced since the early 17th century. Every case highly publicized in the news because people believed soul-bonds were sacred and everlasting and wanted to know what went wrong.


Then there were the soul-mates who weren't happy but stay together anyway, clung to the idea of the ideal relationship and what society expected of them. That was the situation his mom-Maria stark- was in, she was trapped in a never-ending cycle of misery, waiting, still waiting for her soul-mate to make her life perfect again, and grew increasingly bitter, resentful and withdrawn the longer the ideal eluded her. Tony promised himself, he would never let himself be that pitiful.


Sure his mom once told him how his father used to be a great lover, but now she drank and smoked to forget a husband who was never there... not since she became pregnant with their son.


Howard had searched for Captain America obsessively again after his son was born. When Tony was only two years old and Howard's search had yielded nothing since finding the Tesseract, he turned to the bottle to forget his woes.


Maria had been drowning in depression that any warmth or connection in Tony and his mom's relationship was lost by the time he was four. She mostly forgot Tony even exist... only paying him attention when he was paraded out for social events. Otherwise, it was up to the nanny and Jarvis to look after him. And that was before Howard lost interest in his wife and started cheating left and right. After that his mom start to spout poisonous words and treated him harshly.


Howard and Maria became increasingly bitter and angry with passing years.
XXXX


After the palladium poison debacle, not only did Tony managed to convince Pepper to continue running his company, they shared their first kiss, slash, make out session. Pepper was brilliant, frighteningly efficient and, most importantly, possessed a keen eye for details, and never seemed to fail at a task given to her. Tony was in way over his head.


Tony's happiness had a charge as though he was a tree where lightning had struck and stayed to race through the branches. All his life, he never thought he would felt this happy. Pepper was the best thing to ever happen to him. He trusted her with his company and his heart. Not an easy feat for him.


He had trusted Obediah Stane, he stupidly trusted Obie, enough that he had given him every security override he had. Both Jarvis and Stane had become his father figures long before Howard died. Both men made it their mission to know him as well as he knew himself and became Tony's pillar in life for totally different reasons. Tony wished he had figured out Obie's reasons earlier.


Instead of protecting and caring for him as Jarvis had, Obie found and cracked every single one of his issues and manipulated them perfectly. Then he committed the ultimate betrayal, cumulating in attacking Tony in his own home.


He worried about how Pepper felt being in a relationship with a guy who couldn't even get over his fears enough to let her see him without a shirt on, when he used to be able to trust her enough to put her hand inside his chest. But that was before Obie's betrayal.


Most girlfriends would have taken it personally that Rhodey was the only other exception to the 'didn't like to be handed things' rule. Especially when she knew that Rhodey suspected something was wrong with him during the palladium poisoning, that Rhodey had help him change his arc reactor, and had seen the burnt out palladium core.


That he had taken out the reactor and handed it over to Rhodey; just handed over the thing that was keeping him alive, with all the trust in the world that Rhodey would never hurt him. And simply reached out and accepted the new core his friend handed to him without checking to see if it had been tampered with.


He had tried to get over his fear, but every time he thought about exposing himself so completely and intimately with her, something inside him froze up and all he could see was Obadiah reaching for the Arc Reactor.


Any other woman would have become territorial and might even have insisted Tony choose between her and Rhodey, but not Pepper. He must have done something good in his life to deserve someone like her.


There was also the problem with his nightmares. The slightest noise roused him from sleep. But Pepper, being the amazing woman that she was, never once complained about his nightmares waking her up. She just calmly talked him through the first few disorienting moments until his breathing calmed. Then she pulled his arms around her as he drifted back to sleep.



It made him love her more every day.



He was finally ready to settle down and try the whole responsibility thing. Being with Pepper was joy and comfort, something that he had never felt before in his life.



Tony was aware that an amazing woman like Pepper deserved so much better, and tried to be a better man for her. He actually made the effort to sleep on a more reasonable schedule, eat healthier, tried really hard to listen to her with empathy when she needed to vent about her day and made sure to never go back to being an alcoholic.


Her smile was so blinding Tony could still see it even when he closed his eyes.


Nothing could go wrong.


So of course, it did.


A crazy Norse God decided to attack earth and Tony's evening with Pepper was interrupted by Coulson.



He knew he shouldn't, but after reading the report about the great Captain America being found alive, his curiosity won out and he hacked into Shield's security cameras.

Captain Steve Rogers was in a gym, beating the living hell out of a punching bag.


It was just an image, not even in color, but Tony felt a bolt shoot through his body. Captain America was still as youthful as he had been in those film reels that his dad used to keep around if a little tenser around the eyes, and somber around the mouth.


Something inside Tony twisted and he was overcome with an intense feeling of longing. The man on the screen looked so lost and alone. Tony didn't realize he was reaching for the screen until his fingers touched it. He snapped out of his trance. What the hell? Why was he getting all worked up about a ninety-year-old man? He switched off the feed and resolutely tried to forget about wide shoulders and blonde hair.

Xxx


JARVIS patched through a call informing him that Loki had been spotted in Struttberg, Germany. JARVIS pulled up the location 'Stuttgart Germany, 28 Coolins, Straza' and Tony blasted his way to the scene.


Tony knew Captain America would be there, it had been in the radio chatter JARVIS had intercepted. Tony landed next to him and they exchanged a simple greeting.


They got Loki on the Quinjet and head back to the Helicarrier. Tony pulled off the helmet just as Rogers was telling him that Loki surrendered too easily.



Tony looked him in the eye to deliver his response.


Everyone knew that the second you came face to face with your soulmate you knew it...


Tony's beauty struck Steve like a lightning strike, searing his senses. A pull almost overwhelming to process, far stronger than anything he ever felt toward Peggy. He was staring back at Tony and he felt like everything slowed down, like everything fell to silent, at that moment he couldn't even tell if he was still breathing or not, even the sound of his own heartbeat was lost to him.


But it was neither Tony's willowy figure nor his stunning face that left him breathless and stupid. It was Tony's soul. It shone in his brown eyes like sunlight on diamonds, gleamed on the very glow of his butternut skin.


The only thing he knew was he couldn't lose his focus on those eyes, captured by, trapped in, a pair of big, well-set, freaking beautiful heavy-lidded eyes the color of brown and green and gold were melted together and lit on fire brown. Those eyes hold Steve enthrall, he felt like he could stare at those eyes forever. And most of all, how alive he felt, how the ice that numbed him to the world was all gone, how a surge of possessiveness humming through every inch of his body with a fierce sort of joy that Steve just want to grab and clung to him like a life raft. It was the most amazing feeling inside. His soulmate was like magic wrapped in light, serenaded by Angels.


Steve took a step closer, his own pulse thundered in his ears, drowning out the sound of the helicopter.


He put up a hand to touch Tony, his hand shaking a little... He wanted it too much, it was all too much.


He heard an odd whimpering noise and realized it must have been him, since Tony was still just standing there, unsmiling, gazing at him. It was then did Steve realized that Tony was looking at him with resentment and anger and something else he couldn't decipher lurking in his beautiful eyes.
XXX



Despite his well-honed defenses, Rogers' beauty, like a marble statue, struck like a blast of flame, searing his senses, trampling his determination and made his blood sang with the serene hum of Zen gardens. He became blind to everything but Rogers and he couldn't help visually devouring him.


But it was neither his muscly figure nor his stunning face that left Tony breathless and stupid. It was something else; it shone in Rogers' eyes like sunlight on sapphire, gleamed on the very glow of his porcelain skin. He felt a surge of possessiveness so strong that he nearly recoiled. His heart was pounding a little too fast, a little too hard, the arc reactor almost singing, hot and whining in his chest cavity. Steve was like all his dreams come true, serenaded by Angels.


Roger's stare was unwavering, and Tony could do nothing but stared back. They stared at each other for what feels like hours. Close to him, Rogers was a sensual force, as if he exuded some elemental male temptation that was directed at Tony and Tony alone, washing over him in a wave of desire.


The thought of PEPPER startled him out of his reverie. FUCK! Shame spreading across his vein so venomous it's like a parasite or a disease, how could he let him-self swayed when he already had Pepper?! NO, he would be damn if he give in to this! He was BETTER THAN HOWARD, he wasn't a damn cheater. Being tempted this much with just sight made him furious with Steve and HIMSELF.


Tony tried to exert the cold control that he usually did when managing his big company. Tony looked up at Rogers-who was reaching out to him- with contempt spread thick across his features. Rogers had no right to make him felt like this, not now, not when he could see himself spending the rest of his life with Pepper.


"No." A single syllable crusted with ice around the edges. "I don't think so, Captain; you're not getting anything from me." And watched some of the joy in Rogers' face seeped out. "You see, I am not interested in a relic."


A great hurt wrenching Steve's heart. How could someone as smart as Tony Stark rejected something so sacred and wonderful... wasn't soul-bond what everyone wanted?


"Why?" a world of hurt in the question. Thank goodness Thor arrived so Tony didn't have to answer that. After fighting Thor, he took off, completely ignoring the hurt look on Roger's face. A hollow ache opening in Steve's stomach. He felt completely empty and bereft!
XXXX



Steve could felt Tony's presence even before his sudden entrance. Tony presence was like a lodestone magnetizing all his blood, drawing his soul toward him. As soon as Tony walked into the room, Rogers face lit up like Christmas had come early and he got up out of his chair. His eyes followed Tony as the brunet strolled into the room like he owns the place.


Tony's stomach tightened as he could felt Roger's attention in the soles of his feet, the very air that he breathed, in his bone. He hated that he had to put an effort not to spare a glance or a glare at the super-soldier. Tony being Tony, it only took him a second before once again exerted his cold control, his mask of arrogance and security firmly back in place.


Tony ignored Rogers and went right over to Banner and began talking science, knowing it will all go over Rogers' head. Even when he was in the lab he turned all his attention to invite Banner to his tower and ignored any attempts Rogers made to start a decent conversation. Rogers stopped giving him besotted look and scowled before leaving. When Rogers came back to confront Fury about the weapons, he was willing to throw out insults.


"I'm sure if Stark was still making weapons he'd be neck deep in this."


Wait! Wait! Hold on!" Tony gestured with his hand for Rogers to stop, and Rogers' electric blue eyes leveled on him again, warmed his blood. The tension in the room was electric and left the entire room still. "How is this now about me?" Tony asked, annoyed.


"I'm SORRY...," Steve's tone mocking "isn't EVERYTHING?" the blond stepped closer to Tony, into his space, sucked all the air out of the room. He felt strangely satisfied at the thought he had all the smaller man's attention. So close, Steve felt drunk on the slithering smell emitting like sound waves over him. Every cell in Steve's body cried out to move closer, as though he wouldn't be satisfied until his lips met Tony's.


Having Rogers so close was like riding a tornado--the wild rush of adrenaline that started in Tony's chest and coiled tightly in his stomach felt exactly the same. The whole Helicarrier seemed to dwindle down to just the two of them, and the space between their bodies. Tony bit his lips, anger suffused in him even as lust curled hotly in his stomach. Why must he felt this terrible attraction for Rogers when the man was being an annoying prick? But damn it, something about him made Tony melt, the heat at the core of his body made his legs weak.


After that, they all talked over each other and argued. It was a giant cluster of confusion and anger. They were fighting pointlessly, Steve knew this, but he felt a dark, furious rage directed primarily at his soul-mate who rejected him, a man who just lost everything that he couldn't manage to shut up.



Tony seethed at Steve, it was so much easier to fall back into anger and hate. It made him strong. He would never give in to this curse bonding. He had seen and experienced the aftereffect of a failed bonding in the shape of being locked inside a dark closet, Howard's and Maria's hand prints burned into his skin, his back bleed-legacy of Howard's skilled with a belt, in the glass that cut through his skin when Howard threw a bottle at him, in his broken rib when THE BASTARD caught him making out with a guy, his parents tore into him with the edge of their tongue, his mother became a shadow in Howard's life and needlessly wasted her life away, and in every poisonous word they used to degrade him!


"Big man in a suit of armor -- Take that away and what are you?" Steve spat, mouth twisted like a cork out of a bottle.


Tony batted it back without even blinking an eye. "Genius; billionaire, playboy, philanthropist."


"I know ten guys with none of that, who were worth ten of you," Bullets encased in Steve's syllables and frustration as he tried to bring Tony Stark down. The Ten commandos worth ten of Tony Stark, who were nothing more than a self-obsess poser tried to act like a hero. "You know, you may not be a threat, but you better stop pretending to be a hero," Steve's voice as hard as iron.

The words cut him deeper than he had thought possible. Tony didn't pretend to be a hero. He knew he would never be one. He was just a man with a mission, trying to redeem himself. His life post-Afghanistan was all about putting to rights everything he had done wrong. But Rogers had openly called Tony's ethics and morality out as a sham and that was when he lost any shred of guilt or pity he still had for the soldier.

Rage had ridged his face and neck crimson. Like his flesh was on fire. It was his turn to level Rogers with a disgusted; scornful glare. "Fuck you." He grounded out, released lips that were pursed so tightly they were turning white, balled his fists together to avoid launching a punch. "Who the hell do you think you are?" Tony's eyes glittered in anger and he hissed angrily like a snake.

Steve had to stop himself from wincing when all that intelligence focus with lethal intensity solely on him like he was nothing but a worm and Tony was finding a way to crush him beneath his shoes.


The explosion rocked the ship before Tony could kick Roger's ass.
xxx



Of course, he and Rogers ended up working great together fixing the engine and saved each other's ass.
XXX


Tony was halfway out of his battered suit when the door swished open. The super soldier walked toward him with determined strides, getting into his personal space. Steve's nearness setting fire to his skin.


Tony tried to back away but was prevented by an arm pulling at his hand, pulling him closer. A whiff of Steve's scent swirled like kisses around Tony's head, making him light-headed. Steve framed his face with both hands.


His protest was cut off by Roger's mouth on his, kissing him like a man dying of thirst would kiss a river, trying to drink it dry, wild and greedy and almost angry. One large hand speared into the brunet's hair and holding him to the kiss, holding him captive while Roger's lips crushed his in urgent need, ravenous hunger.


The force of it transfixed Tony, caught and hold his senses. It felt familiar and so deeply right like he had done this a million times. Fingers tangled in Tony's hair as Steve drank him in, absorbed his scent. A hand moved down his backside, sending electric currents up and down his spine, and pulled him closer. So close, imprinting Tony's body to his --it was as if Steve intended they would never be separated again.



Tony felt their bond pulsed between them, raw, real, and with roots deep enough to wrap around and penetrate his brain, heart, and some deeper part of him he couldn't name. The force of emotion flowing between them like an impossible two-way river. Warm fluttered and spark spreading like wildfire through their body and set off fireworks in their curiously empty skull. Like Ambrosia, it addicted his mind, body, and senses completely.


The whole universe instantly compressed down to their kiss, to the way they shared breath. Something inside Steve sang with glee, his enhanced senses racing, razor-focus, feeling every blissful touch of skin and lips on his.


Tony's pulse roared in his ears; beating like dragonfly wings. Instinctively Steve found the key to unlocking the repress desire and longing in the brunet. Tony made inarticulate frenzied noises, all of his passion unleashed and uncoiled at last. He was kissing Steve like a magnet springing to steel, irresistible and natural as the tide.


Their lips clashed against each other like swords. There was nothing of sex in any of it, nothing of tenderness, only passion meeting passion like a naked flame erupted between them, around them. Searing flame welled, swelled then raged through Steve, through Tony and burned. And they were no longer kissing, they were devouring each other. And it was all so perfect and -- oh God!


Not until that moment had Steve realized how empty he had felt how desperately he needed to hold the other half of his soul. As deep as bones, as ingrained as blood, as essential as breath- all needs and all desires were ultimately only one. Tony the fiery and dynamic center which everything else in Steve's world turned to.


Tony's skin warmed and hummed with quickening the blood. His tongue caressed, explored, branded and excited, expressing stark passion and searing desire on his giddy senses, setting Steve and his wits spinning even faster.


The heat rose again, more potent, more powerful, a wave of burgeoning heat, it swamped them, swell crash and roll through them. Tony kissed him as he wanted and intended to devour every sensual inch of Rogers and while Rogers' heart sang, his senses gloried.


Steve needed relief from the urgency that had been building, building, just beneath his skin. Pressed flush against Tony, one leg between the genius' thighs, and yes, Tony was rocking into the heat, that warmth, that hard-


Abruptly Tony remembered PEPPER. His eyes rocketed open. He remembered that the bond was a prison. Steve could feel his soulmate's fear like cornered animals, the anger, and disgust and not a little rage Tony felt for himself.



Instinct kicked in and he pushed as hard as he could at Roger's chest. Thankfully he still had his gauntlet on him. Tony stepped back like he was burned, desperate for whatever space he could get between them.


If he was anyone else, Steve would have fallen hard from the shove. He stared at Tony, face flush, but slowly contorting with confusion and hurt.


Tony's eyes were dark, troubled like the sea roiling during a thunderstorm. Rogers with only one kiss had undone the control he had spent 13 years and more perfecting. The first touch of his lips had stuck right through his defenses, had connected directly with his inner self, he normally kept well leashed and tripped the lock.



And to his shame, he had responded. Abandoning his rational and logical side in an overwhelming drive to capture and seize, seduce and possess. He had sunk so deeply under the heady rush, under the enthralling spell, that if the whole team had come tramping through the room, he wouldn't have noticed. He should have steeled himself to resist, to held firm, to not let Rogers bend him to his will. Then fear pulsed through Tony like electricity when he realized with a startling horror that if he could felt what Steve's felt during the kiss then Steve.... His face turned pale, mouth opened and closed without any sounds escaping. He couldn't bring himself to form the question, it sat on his tongue, turning his mouth to cotton.


He had trusted no one to share his thought with after Obie yet Steve had felt his feeling just by a single kiss! It felt too much like a violation of privacy! He felt so raw, so exposed, like a stripped wire!


"Never do that again," he tried not to sound shaky. Tony's spine was as straight as a ruler. To Steve, it was like watching an actor trying to adjust his mask after an accidental slip on stage.


"Tony, please," Steve looked at his soulmate, knowing his eyes offered everything.


There it was: the something that had frightened Iron Man before. It was possessive and bright and positively overwhelming in its simple dedicated intensity. Steve was prepared to move mountains to be with him. He could feel part of him responding to that passionate possessiveness with anticipation. A bigger, more rational part of him wanted that spark to burst into flame. It was too intense, too fast, undeserving!


He gritted his teeth, reminded himself of all the reasons this could go wrong.


Tony's eyes flared, determine "NO, NEVER! I WOULD NEVER BE YOURS."


Steve was sure his entire world was spinning wildly out of control. Pain seared along his skin. "Why are you doing this?" To his humiliation, tears welled in his eyes.


Tony's heart broke for him... but he held firm. He doubted that Rogers was even thinking straight. The stupid bond was clouding his mind just like it clouded Tony's. There was no way Captain America would even consider someone like Tony let alone became this desperate for him. He was stubborn and disrespectful and uncouth and just not good enough.


Beside Tony wasn't stupid he knew what Captain America expected from him; happiness, and to fill the emptiness in his life. And knowing how huge Rogers' lost was that was an unfair expectation to put on his or anyone's shoulders.

If Rogers wanted to find happiness and peace he should find it within himself first. Then he should be with someone with less baggage, someone who could fit his 1940 archetype and made him happy. Tony didn't want to be the happiest person today only to be broken and fade into the background like Maria when Steve decided he wasn't good enough.


"Look, Rogers," Tony said strongly, "I already have someone special. And believe it or not, I am monogamous when it comes to a relationship,"


It was like being pierced by an arrow by something whatever it was cupid opposite, and Steve staggered like a wounded stag. "No, I--please...." A brittle sheen in his sky-blue eyes, Steve reached a hand out as his tongue tripped over the words.



Roger's hand was hot as if it was burning a path straight to his heart. Tony jerked back from his touch like a scalded cat. Steve's eyes were impossibly sad.



"STOP IT, ROGERS." He made the words like a hand held upright, commanding him to a halt. "I am not yours and never will be. Get your head out of your ass." Tony's face was stone cold showing no emotion.


Steve looked like someone who had just lost his soul. Tony had to use every ounce of his will to curb the impulse to reach out to him.


"Tony," He whispered Tony's name like a forbidden spell cast to forged love upon someone's heart. "P-please, I-I love you,"


Tony stared at him. Despite his better judgment, he could feel tears at the rims of his eyes. He quickly ducked his head, struggling to compose himself. No one had ever wanted him like that. No one had ever said I love you the way Steve did.


'NO, you don't Steve, you just think you do cause the bond is fucking with your brain just like it fucking with mine.' Tony thought. "Well, I don't!" Tony retorted, he felt pain with every heartbeat for even uttering this.


Steve's world silently crumbled.


A broken gaze from Steve, and truly, something in the gaze froze Tony to the core. It spoke of a pain so deep, so stark. He wondered if he had gone too far, being too cruel.


Tony forced himself to continue, to not waver in the face of Roger's pain. Sometimes he really hated himself. "I only love Pepper."


Steve found himself suddenly furious with Tony. An icy rage that had been building since the first time Tony rejected him howled inside of him. He knew that was a huge, blatant lie, he knew it!


"Of course, you do," Steve said, voice devoid of emotion despite the dark color in his eyes. "That is why you kiss me like that." He netted, angry that Tony shook off the kiss like a canine shook off the rain while Steve had continued to shiver even now.



Tony was speechless at the sudden change "Rogers..."



"No." Steve said strongly, his gaze could make a basilisk proud "I understand." Tony was taken aback by the pure fury in the other man's face as their eyes met. "I understand." Steve repeated for a third time, eyes dark with anger now. "That you're a fucking coward and a liar!" As Steve carried on, his voice rose and the anger in his tone painted his words with venom.



Rogers had gone right through the core of it, surely as though he had sliced Tony open and laid a finger to his beating heart. The brunet could feel his anger rising now, liquid and hot in his chest.


Tony breathed in, sharply, and dug his nails into the meat of his palms until it bleeds. Why did Steve make it all so difficult! "And you are an arrogant bastard! You think you can just walk into my life and expects me to leave the only good relationship I ever have and the woman I love for you!" There was something sharp to his tone, as the tip of a butcher knife. "Who the hell do you think you are?! You don't own me, Rogers, I can be with anyone I want, and I choose Pepper!"



He swiftly moved around Steve before walking away in long strides even though Rogers could (and would) catch up with him.



Steve grabbed his arm tight enough to bruise.


Tony wretched his hand away "Get your dirty hand off me! This isn't 1940 where you could force me to be with you!" his voice was hard, flat and cut like a perfectly honed blade.


Steve laughed harshly and rubbed his hand over his face. He wished he was still buried in the ice because nothing hurt him more than Tony's rejection.



Leaving things like this was not a good idea but Tony convinced himself he had to. The door clicked in place behind him. As Tony walked away, he heard a loud thud from behind him.



Steve muttered expletives as his fists jabbing the wall viciously. The super-soldier screamed in frustration and pain. One of the areas in which Steve's abilities were enhanced was his sharp hearing. But even he was unsure whether he was only imagining that Tony murmured "I am so sorry." as he walked away from the door.



It wasn't what Steve wanted to hear, but like an angel's breath sent through a parted cloud that apology.

xxx


They were the only two left when Fury threw down the blood-soaked cards.


Seeing them on the table, stained with blood made Steve's body felt numb, another good man died because of war. He reached and picked one up, a card with the picture of him as Captain America. It was a reminder of the only thing he still had, and everything he had lost. To the surrounding agents, he appeared to be sitting stoically in his seat, but inside, his soul was weeping earnestly in agony.


Tony closed his eyes to will the tears away. It was a pain worse than when Obadiah had ripped the arc reactor out. Fury's words kept reverberating in Tony's mind going on and on about Coulson's belief in the Avengers Initiative. He remembered Phil words "We do need you, Mr. Stark." Phil had been against Tony's exclusion from the team. Another man who believed in him was dead.



He let his sadness and anger over Coulson's death came out in front of Steve. In retrospect Tony should have known at that moment he was doomed, he would never have let his emotions show that much unless it was someone he trusted.


Weird aliens who had living ships keep coming out of a portal. The whole team naturally deferring to Steve's leadership while fighting.


Natasha almost closed the portal when Tony stopped her.


"I've got a nuke coming in, it's going to blow in less than a minute." Tony said, tracking the missile's trajectory. Then he increased the power of his propellers, twisting in the air and bringing himself upright, speeding upwards after the nuke. "I know exactly where to send it."



Steve felt the panic rise like bellowing smoke, felt it choke his soul as he realized what Tony was suggesting. "NO, Tony don't!"


Guilt gnawed at Iron Man but it would do him no good. He forced it behind him, entrailing and twisting like vipers.



"I'm sorry, Steve. I had to do this." Steve heard him as loudly as a ticking bomb.


Steve's very life was hanging by a breath yet he realized nothing he said would change Tony's mind, would save his very soul. "Tony please..." Steve sounded grave as he spoke into the comm.


Guilt again, as sharp as the cut of a whip, melded with sadness, fused with fear for Steve. "JARVIS, save the rest of the suit's power for the return." Tony commanded, trying to be optimistic even though both he and JARVIS knew the odds of him surviving were nonexistent.

XXX


The empty vacuum of space enclosed around him, dark and blindingly bright. Tony heard the bone-deep despair sound of Rogers internally screaming his name through the bond. 'If there really is the next life...'


Tony kept soaring through the darkness with the missile. His display screen flickering. "Sir." The AI stuttered sounded so grave and faded away.


Tony Stark knew terror but nothing was more wrong or more gut clenching terrifying than losing JARVIS- His partner. His friend. His security and comfort. His child. The echoing silence was so wrong. So foreign.


Power failing, Tony losing his grip on the warhead, his armor chipping away piece by piece as the lights of the suit dimmed to black. He watched as the nuke rocket off towards the gargantuan ship that hovered above Earth like a malevolent spider and exploded in bright flashes of light and fire that engulfed the ship and its surrounding smaller ships in. The eerie silent explosion that followed painted the destruction in front of him with its magnificent splendid colors and bathed him in its radiation and blew him backward.


His armor was completely unresponsive now. Tony's breath catch in his throat, his lungs struggled for breath and desperation pickled inside him as he had no air circulating. His heart beat hysterically like it was going to explode in his chest. Time ticked by as Tony's conscience fading.


His last thought being Steve- the warmth, the flutters, the truth in his eyes that Tony refused to see. Perhaps delusional was common before death because he swore he felt Steve's here with him. Steve's warmth, despair, and fear spilling into him. His soul reaching out to touch.


'Don't you leave me, Tony. You will not leave me.'


What was with death and people long for the one thing he knew wasn't real. Tony felt the beat of his heart as it started fading within his chest. '...I'm sorry, Steve.' Then he let go, ready to embrace death.

XXX


Steve could feel Tony through the bond. The bond was so fragile, almost non-existent now. Tony was dying...


"NO! God, no!" he sobbed, the explosion of agony that stole his breath, his strength. He reached out to Tony with everything inside of him, desperately wishing for the sight of a tiny metal man soaring from outer space.


But Tony didn't appear through the portal. Instead, Steve saw an expanding light, an explosion that came from the detonation sweep through the open portal.


The surrounding aliens collapse without a sound, the life in their eyes flickering and fading.



"Cap?" he heard Natasha said and realized with a heavy heart he had to make the hardest call of his life. There was only so much time they had to close the portal before the bomb would backfire to New York. No matter, how much he wanted to die with Tony he couldn't let others died.


He couldn't bring himself to say the words; they caught in his throat as he searched for any sign of Tony's brightly colored suit. There was no trace of him and Steve tried to force the words up his throat and out of his lips...


"Close it." Captain America heard the brisk and resigned order from Clint.


The portal shrank and Steve couldn't breathe, a large part of him wanted to stop trying to. Today, not even his belief could stop for taking his own life. Steve would embrace death and search for Tony in his next life.

xxx




It's only when Thor lets out an exultant cry and Natasha huffs a laugh that Steve looked back up and suddenly saw a little human-like figure fell rapidly from the heavens. Oxygen once again rushed into him. He couldn't help but gasped and broke into a smile. Tears of relief spilled over, wetting his cheeks.


Ecstasy soon evolved into horror as he realized that something was very wrong with the way Tony was plummeting towards the ground, he was not slowing down. He must be unconscious or otherwise unable to stop. "Tony!" He let out a scream as loud as his lungs would allow.


The Hulk launched itself at Tony with a roar and snagged Iron Man only a couple of dozen feet before he hits the ground. Hulk cradled Tony close to his chest as he broke their descent with the building and then finally with his own body. Rubble and dust seemed to rain from their explosive impact. Hulk none too gently tossing the man off him to the concrete of the road.


Steve ran toward Tony. He turned him onto his back and ripped off the faceplate off Iron Man but Tony didn't even stir.


Steve let out a gasp of panic at the sight of a face all too still, pale and silent. "No..." half-formed sobbed in every breath now, he bent in to listen for breathing or anything to prove Tony might just be unconscious and not dead. The brunet wasn't breathing.


The cry that slipped past Steve's lips was filled with agony, with the overwhelming explosion of pain that stole his breath, senses and strength. He sank to the road beneath him, dying inside.


Hulk shook his head in grief as he stared at Tony's lifeless body before roared so loudly that the ground under them shook. Steve had never heard such a desperate yet angry sound.

Vibrations rattled Iron Man's armor and Tony's body jerked frantically, making his teeth chattered and sending great heaping breaths of air into his lungs. The arc reactor's light sputtering to life with a dull blue glow once more. His eyes flew open and for a moment all he could see was white.


In that instant, the relief was so potent, so intoxicating, that Steve felt himself getting lightheaded.


"Wh-What the hell?!" Tony gasped for breath, the effort burning his throat. He blinked up, he was suddenly looking up at a smoke-filled blue sky and Thor, Hulk and Steve looking down at him.


The sound of Tony's voice felt like the most beautiful sound in his life. Steve- cowl pushed back- laughed in relief and had few barely noticeable tears trickling down his cheeks.


Tony's chest ached with an unnamable feeling at the sight of the tough soldier's tears. Good god, somehow Roger's had looked much more beautiful now.


Was it possible for a man to have eyes so radiantly blue and glowing skin? Or was this near death thing? Roger's stare alone sent a flurry sparks through Tony's body.


Steve heard his heartbeat beat ninety miles an hour. Tony had been looking at Steve too long, but then the super soldier had been looking back, and he felt they both tried to say something the others couldn't hear. Someone cleared their throat, and the moment was broken.


Neither of them realized the seed of a budding relationship had been sow.






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