Tony was listening to his own heartbeat, it had gone wild, the constant bumping of blood turning him paranoid, he was turning around fiercely.
Sweat sliding through his forehead, his neck, all his body soaking wet, a horrible smell surrounding him. Suddenly he saw Howard standing in front of him, he was holding a heavy leather belt, walking slowly at his direction a scorned look and a maniac smile “No” Tony mumbled trying to run away, crawling next to the closest wall, Howard didn’t say anything, he just smiled wider and kept walking, his threatening eyes warning Tony what was about to happen, his unbuckled pants
“Please don’t” Tony cried knowing exactly the meaning of that broken glance, then he wished, he really wished his father was dead. A shotgun was heard, Tony gave a terrified shout, sobbing loudly, he looked at his father. A bullet wound in his forehead, a thread of blood coming out his mouth
“No!” he cried again trying to reach for the man he loved and hated so much, the man he admired. When he finally reached him Howard wasn’t there anymore. He looked around and went back to the corner of the room, his knees up to his chest, crying loudly, anxiety eating up his nerves. His skin bristled and he started trembling, he tried to yell again but no sound came out of his throat “Please” he kept mumbling so many times, begging for someone to save him from this hell.
But no one was there.
. . .
Steve was wandering around the tower, all the Avengers were reunited at the living room, Where was Tony? He had disappeared without saying anything to anyone, and it had been a week and no one knew anything about him.
Natasha had the thought that he had being kidnapped, Bruce and Pepper went for it, Clint was the only one who didn’t think that way, he thought maybe Tony needed a bit of time on his own, but as days flew by even Clint thought he had being held against his will, it was uncommon of Tony leaving and not leaving a note or something, he used to leave often but Jarvis always knew if he was all right.
So there they were now, arguing about what to do next, Steve on his own didn’t believe he was kidnapped, he didn’t know why and he didn’t want to explain his reasons, he just knew it. Everyone was anxious but the Captain remained firm. They were going to wait.
When night came and after seven days without a clue of Tony's whereabouts, Steve made a decision, he couldn’t wait for him any longer, he knew the man he loved, and he knew Tony wasn’t the same man since some months ago, lately Tony was kicking everyone out of his life, even Steve.
Steve first thought Tony had realized what he felt for him and was rejecting him in the best way Tony Stark could, escaping. But then when they occasionally met Tony was the same to him, laughing and talking cheerfully. So that wasn’t an option.
He closed his eyes trying to think straight, memories came by, Tony with a huge bowl of Doritos coming to his room at midnight, just wearing boxers and a tank top, he used to sit bending his knees over his chest, holding out a movie he wanted to see that night.
Another memory came by, Tony walking barefoot to his art studio telling him he couldn’t get any sleep, asking him if he could join.
Tony laughing at some odd lame joke Steve was trying to make.
Tony sleeping with his head on his lap and his fingers curled, his bright eyes looking straight to him.
He knew the man, and he knew something weird was going on, suddenly Tony was always disoriented, always lost in thought, having a hard time getting his ideas said out loud, his comments were less smart, less sarcastic.
Steve tried to ask him what was going on and Tony just gave him a broken glance and said out loud “You noticed” The Captain tried to ask more but Tony had shaken his head and walked out of his room, leaving the tower with teary eyes.
Steve scratched his head and opened his eyes, they were now teary. Something was wrong with Tony and he didn’t know what that was. He tried hard to get the clues together, Tony had been acting differently with everyone, even with Pepper.
He had stopped talking and eating with them, and he was always wearing long sleeved sweaters even when the weather was unbearably hot. Steve let out a sob, he was now crying as a new fresh memory came in, the last time he had hugged Tony he could feel Tonys' bones, he had freaked out and had held him tight asking him desperately what the fuck was going on, Tony turned hostile, aggressive, he slapped Steve´s hand in not such a friendly way, Steve didn’t care and kept on holding him by the wrist
“Tell me what the fuck is going on” he demanded in a rough voice, Tony gave him a hatred look and kept staring at him with fierce dull eyes, then Steve realized Tony’s sparkling brown eyes were gone, they were now dull and black, he turned to see Tony’s wrist, his skin turning purple, Tony wasn’t going to give in. So he had sighed and had let go of him. At the moment Tony was freed, he had let out a hysterical laugh and stepped out of the room.
That was the last time he saw him.
“Jarvis, any ideas?” He asked again and got the same answer “Sir hasn’t talked with me for the last month” That was so weird coming from Tony who was a person who just couldn’t keep his mouth shut, even when he kicked everyone out he always kept close to Jarvis. Steve wiped away his tears, it was painful to be uncertain about this, distress eating him up. This was hell. What if Tony had being kidnapped and he hadn’t given the order to go and look for him? It was his fault if something happened to him.
Bitterness and guilt blinding him.
No, he needed to calm down, he needed to find him. Yes, he was going to. He took a backpack and started packing, he pulled in some clean t-shirts, boxers, jeans, the starkphone Tony had given to him, he got out of his room and walked to the kitchen, took a large bottle of water and some cookies. He took his wallet and got into the elevator, down in the basement Jarvis talked “Are you sure?”
“I am. Don’t say a word” he said and mounted his motorcycle, the engine roared and soon he was out facing the highway. Where could Tony be?
. . . .
Tony tried hard to control himself, but between hallucinations and paranoia this was getting harder by every passing hour, he thought for a while that maybe he was already dead. Dead laying in the only place he hated the most, Howard’s studio. How did he come here? He tried to move but all his muscles were aching, a stinging ache in every single part of his body, he cried louder, his wild heartbeat and his weak lungs fighting to keep on working.
He looked around setting his eyes in Howard’s main table, a syringe, a translucent bag full of white dust, a lighter and a burnt spoon. That was all he needed… No, no! Shit! Come on!
He had tried hard to keep clean, it had been the longest 24 hours in his life, abstinence syndrome was killing him, damnit! Why did he take the fucking bag from this unknown girl?
He cried harder, his sore throat hurting, he should’ve tell someone, he should’ve looked out for help, he should've rejected the fucking bag. He should’ve thrown away the first white dust Obadiah had given him. Getting over his addiction had costed years in prison, years in rehab.
He didn’t want to go back on that road, he desperately shook his head, sweating and shaking, nausea hit him and he couldn’t avoid the vomit coming out of his lips, he tried to stand but was useless.
He threw up all over himself. Sweat, tears and vomit covering him, he completely fell to the ground, holding his knees with his shaking hands, his eyes locked at the syringe that was tentatively lying at less than 5 feet from him.
. . . .
Steve had looked everywhere already, all the places he and Tony used to go, he even looked at all the properties Tony owned in New York, he cried out in frustration, as the clock ticked away another minute it was harder to keep on looking, he then remembered a talk he had with Tony some months ago, they were at the kitchen cooking and Steve was talking about being back at the military headquarters, how awful he had felt, how empty and broken he was. Tony had smiled and had hugged him tightly “I know that feeling, I get it each time I go back to my parents’ house”
Steve opened his eyes in shock, that was the only place he hadn’t checked yet.
. . .
He entered the old and dusty Starks’ mansion, the heavy wooden door wasn’t locked, he pushed it carefully trying to make no noise, he closed it behind him, he was wearing his shield at his back, his backpack at his shoulder. The house’s floor was covered in newspapers, there was no electricity so it was hard to see, he pulled out his starkphone and lit up the screen, he took a look at the house, all the furniture was covered with sheets. Everything was at the exact same place it had been before Howard died. Steve swallowed hardly.
He walked to the living room watching through the pictures, most of them were of Maria, others Maria and Howard, they were a few of Tony as a kid, he took one of Tony being 3-4 years holding a screwdriver next to a toolbox he deduced it was Howard’s.
He smiled. Next to that picture was one of Howard, Bucky and himself. He felt a knot at his throat but kept on walking, he reached for the kitchen and saw many thrown burnt spoons, he was about to take one when he heard a yell. It was coming out of the basement, and he could swear it was Tony.
He ran to the basement, everything was dark, the only light coming out of his starkphone, a strong smell hitting him right away, it was unbearable, disgusting, it sent shivers through his spine, he didn’t care and kept on walking, when he reached for Howard’s studio he saw on the table a translucent bag full of white dust, a syringe, a lighter and another burnt spoon
“Tony” he talked and heard another yell as a response. He lit the floor and there he found him, lying with his knees curled to his chest, he was breathing heavily, shaking, his skin soaking wet, he kept his shaking hands slowly rubbing between each other, he was covered in a yellowish substance that seemed to be coming out of his mouth, tears coming out of his eyes, he was sobbing loudly while vomit and suffocated yells came out of his lips, his eyes were dull, lost.
Steve broke, that image never left his mind. He inhaled and the deep scent turned harder to bear, vomit, sweat, pee, moisture…. He tried to hold his breath
“Tony” his voice came out broken, what was going on? Was Tony sick? Steve kneeled next to him and tried his best to clean him up with his shirt, it was a mess
“Tony I’m here, everything’s fine” he said trying to get Tony’s glance back, it worked. He looked deep into Steve’s eyes, his bright eyes were gone, his glance was completely destroyed
“Steve” he managed to mumble and Steve nodded
“Yes, it’s me. Come, you need to take a shower” he said and Tony shook his head
“No, I need that” he said and pointed out at the syringe. Steve gave him a confused glance but obeyed, he was standing up when Tony shouted
“No! I’m sorry, I’m so sorry… Shit I… Don’t” he mumbled and started crying louder, Steve didn’t know what to do, what to expect, he hugged the man and kept cleaning the vomit that was in his mouth, he remembered how his mom used to do it when he got sick
“Get me out of here” Tony said, his eyes frightened, his voice shaking. Steve obeyed and took him in the arms, he carried him out of the house, he couldn’t get in the motorcycle, so he decided to just leave it there, he started walking
“We need to get to a hospital” he said out loud and Tony started coughing fiercely, more vomit coming out, he tried to pull away of Steve’s arms, Steve was shocked by all this sudden changes but kept obeying, he carefully dropped Tony to the floor, Tony couldn’t stand and fell to his knees
“No” he said and Steve kneeled next to him, then an aggressive vomit came and he threw up over Steve
“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry” he said embarrassed trying to clean Steve up with his bare hands
“It’s all right, don’t worry” Steve said and placed a gently kiss on Tony’s forehead
“There’s a motel close” Tony said and closed his eyes.
Steve didn’t know if he was just too weak to keep on talking or if he was fighting between consciousness and losing consciousness, he was still sweating and trembling. Steve obeyed and took him to small motel with bright red lights, he entered the room placing Tony on the couch, he stood and pulled out two 20’s out of his wallet, when the girl was gone and the door was locked Steve turned to face Tony
“What’s going on?” he asked calmly and Tony just managed to say “Bathroom”, Steve took him and Tony fell again to his knees next to the toilet, he was vomiting violently, Steve tried to wipe all the sweat coming out, then there with bright light finally took a good look over Tony.
He was wearing a black tank top, ripped jeans and ripped converse, he looked at Tony’s skin, it was dirty... then he saw clearly Tony’s arms, they were covered in bruises, some were green, others were purple, he saw multiple scars, many needle wounds, some were dried up some others exposing Tony’s red flesh.
They were a way too much. He felt a heavy knot at his throat, pain freezing his heart and nausea turning over his stomach, Tony saw Steve’s disgusted face while looking at his arms and tried to cover them with his dirty tank top, Steve sat next to him and took paper to clean up Tony’s goatee
“What are those Tony?” he asked and Tony gave him a shocked glance, then he understood, a man from the 1940’s didn’t know about drugs nor heroin. Steve would feel terribly disappointed, he would even feel disgusted by the only idea to be around him, maybe even scared. Steve was going to leave him, he was going to realize what a worthless piece of shit he really was.
He cried miserably and tried to get closer to Steve, wrapping his arms around Steve’s waist, he felt a hand rubbing his back, then he remembered he was all covered in puke and sweat and was disgusting to be around, so he pulled away aggressively and started apologizing.
Steve smiled gently and took him by the shoulders, hugging him tightly, kissing tenderly one of Tony’s needle wounds he had on the neck
“Why are you full of these needle stitches?” he asked with a kids' innocence and Tony felt even worse, he was miserable, despicable, dirty, corrupted, and Steve was such a gentle, kind, innocent man…
Tony let out a bitter empty laugh, it came out maniacally, Steve felt a shiver through his spine, a stroke of fear, Tony looked up, his eyes were dead, broken, , he saw Steve’s bright blue eyes and thought, how could he even had dreamed of being with this man?
A man like him, so irresponsible loving a man like Steve. He bitterly cried, his eyes dug in the floor, Steve took him by the jaw forcing him to look up, both men facing
“Heroin” Tony said with firm voice and even though Steve didn’t understand, he didn’t push it
“Come on” he said and helped him to get on his feet “We need to clean you up” he said and Tony nodded but didn’t move, Steve understood that he was too weak for undressing himself
“Let me take you to a hospital Tony” he insisted and Tony gave him a frightened look
“No! No, pleade don’t!” he begged taking him by the shirt
“Why not?” Steve asked confused
“They’ll send me to jail again, I don’t want to, please, prison is a horrible place” he said and rested his forehead in Steve’s neck.
Those words took Steve’s nerves and ripped them, Tony had been in jail? He didn’t know that, no one knew any of this. Besides that, what crime had he committed right now? Steve was confused, really lost but still hugged Tony and placed a kiss in his greasy hair.
“Come on, let’s shower. I’m going to remove your clothes, is that all right?” he asked and Tony nodded, he then closed his eyes, Steve started unbuckling his pants and let it slid, then he saw more needle wounds in his thighs, a shiver shook him, he needed to be strong.
He removed Tony’s pants and then stood to remove his tank top, Tony was down to the bones, his jumped veins and multiple wounds around his body.
He swallowed hard and kneeled to take Tony’s boxers off, he looked at him, he was standing next to him completely naked with his eyes closed, he looked so broken.
He looked away and opened the faucet, when the water was warm he helped Tony inside the shower cabin, Tony jumped when he felt the water and tried to run away
“It’s freezing” he mumbled and Steve tested the water, it was hot
“Tony you have fever” he said worried and Tony gave him a broken smile
“Doesn’t matter, it’ll go away” Steve tried to give him the soap and shampoo but Tony was incapable of washing himself, so Steve took air to his lungs and started stripping his clothes, he got inside.
It was a way too hard, Tony had such a vulnerable skinny body and he looked pretty big and terrifying next to him, the engineer kept his eyes shut, his body trembling against his will, Steve tried to hurry up, washing his wounds gently, then he took shampoo and started massaging his head, cleaning up all the dirt that Tony had had for days
“I think I'm still trying to figure this crap out, thought I had it mapped out but I guess I didn't, this fucking black cloud still follows me around but it's time to exorcise these demons” Tony said and Steve stood quietly, then Tony opened his eyes, he was so weak, so exposed, so breakable, Steve didn’t know what was Tony talking about, but he refused to think there was a black cloud following him around.
No more, no more pain.
He leaned forward and kissed him softly. Just both lips touching lightly, then he stepped away and opened his eyes expecting Tony’s rejection, the engineer had teary eyes, Steve embraced him in a hug
“I don’t deserve you” Tony said and Steve chuckled, he knew that feeling, he had felt it for a while now. Because let’s get real, what could Steve Rogers offer to a man who has and is everything he always dreamed of? What could possibly want Tony Stark for that little bullied Brooklyn kid?
“Come on, time for you to sleep” he said and took Tony by the waist, he pulled him out of the bathroom and sat him on the bed, drying him up with a towel, he took a clean t-shirt and boxers from his backpack and dressed Tony, he laid him on the bed, covering him with the blankets
“How you feeling?” he asked and Tony chuckled
“In hell with an angel” Steve smiled
“What do you feel?” he asked curious and Tony gave him a broken glance
“Dessperation, anxiety, need of…” he cut himself off and swallowed hard, Steve nodded and gave him a soft kiss
“I just can’t keep living this way” he mumbled and after a few more minutes was dragged into deep sleep.
Steve walked to the couch and pulled out his starkphone “Jarvis, get me everything you have on heroin” He said and soon an holographic screen popped out the starkphone, showing him many pictures and texts, he started flipping through the images, needles, syringes, lighters, spoons, too many deformed and broken faces, so many needle infected wounds. He felt a shiver and a sudden fear, he started reading.
After two hours Steve was crying quietly, he couldn’t keep on reading. He couldn’t keep on thinking in the hell Tony was stuck in, then he heard Tony shouting between dreams, he turned off the phone and got into bed next to him, spooning him. Tony was again wet in sweat, Steve now understood he was getting into abstinence syndrome, he recognized all of Tony’s symptoms. He didn’t know what to do, so he simply hugged him tighter, Tony turned to face him, he was now awake.
“Did you search it on google?” he asked and Steve nodded, his eyes still red for crying so much, Tony looked puzzled and shocked
“Then what are you still doing here?” he asked with broken eyes and dry mouth
“I love you” Steve said and kissed his lips softly, when he broke away Tony was crying
“Even after knowing?” his voice shaking
“I love you even more, you’re so brave Tony, but you’re not alone” he said and Tony kissed him deeply, opening his mouth and holding his neck tightly, Steve kissed him with the same intensity but pulled away when he felt Tony’s dick swallowing, he gave Tony a soft kiss on the nose.
After a few more minutes Tony spoke, his voice firm “I just can't keep living this way, so I’m starting today, I'm breaking out of this cage. I'm standing up, I'ma face my demons- I'm manning up, I'ma hold my ground. I've had enough, now I'm so fed up. Time to put my life back together right now”
Steve nodded and kissed him again “We'll walk this road together, through the storm, whatever weather, cold or warm. I’m just letting you know that you're not alone”
Tony nodded and kissed him deeply “I’m not afraid to take a stand”
. . . .
10 days in hell went by, Tony refused to take medication, he was afraid of becoming addict to it too, he refused to go to the hospital, so Steve had agreed and had taken care of Tony’s wounds, trying not to let them bleed or infect. He reported to Natasha that both were all right and that they weren’t going to be back soon.
Abstinence syndrome was hell, it broke Tony. He was physically and mentally broken, some days he used to cry out loud and shout he needed a bit of his golden eyed girl, which Steve understood was heroin. Steve had just hugged him and held him up to his chest, after some hours Tony usually calmed down. Some other days were better, but most of them were hell for both men.
Steve never hesitated a bit, he stood hard as rock beside him, promising everything was going to get better, Tony just nodded and kept holding onto Steve’s waist.
Sweat, agitation, pain, diarrhoea and vomit didn’t leave for 10 days straight.
Steve used to get out to buy food, lots of water and new clothes, he used to lock Tony, shut the windows, Tony himself had asked him to, he didn’t know what was capable of doing, just one time he tried to run away and Steve held him tight and pushed him inside the room. It hurt, it was destroying Steve to watch such an exposed and vulnerable Tony.
20 days went by this way, after the first 10 days everything went better, Steve and Tony used to go out together to buy foot, sometimes they even had food outside, they used to talk about everything, avoiding the main topic. Sometimes Tony felt the sudden need of a dose, but he looked to see the man beside him and tried to stand still, he couldn't let him down.
After two months living this way one morning Tony asked Steve to leave, Steve was frightened by the only idea of abandoning him, but Tony had looked him in the eye and asked him if he trusted him.
Of course Steve trusted him, but he knew he wasn’t going to be strong enough to watch him fall again, he couldn't stand the image he saw when he first found him, he couldn’t handle it, but he had swallowed hard and agreed, he kissed him deeply and nodded, took the backpack and left.
He didn’t know anything about Tony for three days straight.
Those days were hell for him. He didn’t tell anyone anything, he just locked himself at the gym trying to get himself exhausted to get some sleep and forget about this. Maybe he had taken the wrong choice, leaving him after all this, maybe Tony was back at that basement. He shook his head while tears came out of his eyes, he couldn’t wipe away that image of Tony being so broken, then he heard footsteps, he turned to face the man that came walking.
Tony was dressing a black suit, a black tie and a tender smile
“It was my decision to get clean, I did it for me. Admittedly, I probably did it subliminally…For you, so I could come back a brand new me, you helped me to see me through and don't even realize what you did, 'cause believe me you pulled me out of this”
Steve was amazed, his eyes glassy. Tony was holding a black garbage bag, he opened it showing Steve all the syringes and various packs of drugs a lighter, and a spoon, he had been back to that house and cleaned up everything.
“I love you too” Tony said and Steve let out a chuckle
“I’m not afraid to take a stand” Tony said referring now to himself and Steve.
Steve understood and walked closer, he kissed Tony deeply and Tony dropped the bag to the floor, hugging Steve tightly.