You know what really bothers me the more I think about it? How much of Civil War would have been avoided if Steve had come to Tony when he found out Bucky killed Howard and Maria and told him.
Because picture this: He’s still reeling from seeing Bucky again, he’s still trying to process everything that’s happened and everything that this means. He’s still trying to believe it, but Steve knows he can’t be silent about this. Bucky was his best friend but Howard was his friend too and he can’t look at Tony without seeing Howard in him, without guilt twisting up in his stomach hard enough to make him feel sick.
So he sits Tony down with a bottle of Tony’s favorite scotch even if he doesn’t really approve of how much Tony already packs away, but he sits him down and pours him a drink because he knows this is going to be messy and complicated and painful and he takes a steadying breath and he looks Tony in the eye and says, “I have to tell you something.”
Because picture this: Tony doesn’t know what’s going on and he’s already thinking of six different reasons why this ominous little talk is happening (only two of which he’s directly responsible for, scout’s honor)
and eighteen different jokes to deflect with before Steve can say another word. Except Steve is grim-faced and uncomfortable and hesitating like he doesn’t know whether he should start or not and once he does Tony kind of wishes he’d just walked away the minute he saw Steve Rogers bearing booze as a peace offering. He’s silent as Steve talks but his face says enough, his expression shifting from disbelief to heartache to shock to rage in the space of a heartbeat before settling into that dangerous, deceptive calm that never means anything good. His voice is hard when he asks, “Where is he?” and Steve is honest when he says, “I don’t know. But I’m going to try to find out. He still needs me, Tony.” and Tony takes the bottle and leaves without another word.
He’s gone for a week and no one knows where he is. (Which is a lie because Pepper and Rhodey know exactly where he is, Steve can see it in the tight, tired, worried lines of their eyes, but they don’t offer and he doesn’t chase them for it. He’s done enough already.)
Because picture this: Tony thinks of Clint and those dead eyes of his, of what Loki did to Barton, to all those other people. He thinks of what he might have done, what he would have been forced to do, if Loki’s staff hit his body and not his arc reactor. He thinks of Yinsen and he thinks of the cave and he thinks of all those weapons with his name on them in the hands of people who should have never had them and he tries very, very, very hard not to directly think of Obadiah Stane.
He comes back to HQ and he’s exhausted and wrung out and maybe a little hungover but he finds Steve and he ignores the concern clear in the other man’s eyes and he tells him, “Let me know if I can help.” and that’s all he’s got left but it’s enough.
Because picture this: She was the love of Steve’s life but she was also Tony’s Aunt Peggy and when they find out she’s died suddenly the urgency behind their fight about the Accords dims. It’s Tony who sits shoulder to shoulder with Steve at her funeral, listening to Sharon talk about this fierce, strong woman who they both loved so much, who’d knock their heads together if she saw them at each other’s throats the way they were.
And after the service they can agree on one thing: The Accords aren’t perfect and if Steve can’t agree to them maybe they can sit down with the UN and find a better middle ground.
Their team, their family, is worth more than this and when Bucky is pegged for the UN bombing, Tony is still standing shoulder to shoulder with Steve, not ready to believe Barnes is totally innocent but willing to spend the time to find out if it means helping Steve keep his head on straight, if it means keeping the Avengers together.
Because picture this: Tony finally coming face to face with Bucky in Sibera after being blindsided with the footage of his parent’s murder, reeling and feeling like his heart’s been ripped open, feeling like he can’t fucking breathe. Tony having to meet the eyes of this man, his parent’s murderer, the person who took them away from him, and taking a shaky breath that hitches in his throat too hard to be steadying, watching Bucky’s face for a long moment before he says, “Someone had to remind me once I was a mechanic. That’s kinda what I do. I, you know. I fix things. I have a solid track record of that working out pretty well for me.”
Because this man is a murderer but he isn’t, he doesn’t want to be, and Tony can see it, he can remember what that feels like. And maybe Tony’s sickly pale and maybe his heart still feels like it’s broken and maybe he’s going to be seeing the images of his parents being killed over and over again in his head every time he closes his eyes for a while but that doesn’t mean he can’t try to help. They’re the good guys. This is what they do, so he looks at Bucky and he says, “So that’s just what we’re gonna have to do, right? We try to fix this.”
TODAY IN THEATRE HISTORY: In 1971, Clark Gesner’s musical You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown premieres on Broadway at the Golden Theatre. Although the show was a huge success Off-Broadway, running 1,597 performances, the Broadway incarnation does not fare as well, lasting only 32 performances. You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown will be revived in 1999, in a production starring Roger Bart, Kristin Chenoweth and Anthony Rapp, and featuring additional material by Andrew Lippa.