Silence is Golden, Observation is Platinum
ok guess what fuckers i found a super sad story idea about tony somehow losing his voice and the avengers actually like it better so let’s write it and cry (update: idea from @thoseironeyes so ur welcome i saw it and cried)
Tony was seriously annoyed that he was cursed with not talking. But were the Avengers going to know that he messed up and Loki told him that talking is unbecoming? No. Because he’s better than that, and he’ll get his voice back in a couple days after Bruce or Thor notice and flip out. Besides, he has things to do.
Sure, working with Jarvis is a little bit harder. He has nonverbal cues, learns a little bit of sign language, and wastes time by looking at videos of dolphins clicking to get around town. (Well, around sea, but that doesn’t matter. The scientist also named the dolphin Eric, but that’s dumb, so Tony named him Dennis instead.)
When he comes up to get food, he wants so badly to make the witty remark to just totally roast Barton, even if Natasha hits him on the arm for it. But sound won’t come out. His mouth opens, but he closes it again. If he writes it, then the comedic value is lost.
“No stupid commentary for once?” Clint sasses. “Wow Stark, you’re playing nice. I’m impressed.”
“Good job, Tony,” Steve says, flipping through the newspaper. (Ugh, Tony hates getting it delivered, newspapers are so last year.)
He’s floored by the fact that they don’t notice anything. He makes no sound. When Natasha has a nice pun, he can’t laugh. No sound comes out. Tony can’t talk, and they seemingly don’t care. They like it.
He tests it. When he watches a movie with Steve and Natasha, they say it’s nice that he doesn’t have the constant running commentary. (Screw you, his joke about Bruce the shark from Jaws was funny.) He doesn’t do anything in response. Natasha herself hasn’t even noticed anything; it’s like they ignore him.
Weeks go by, and no one notices that Tony hasn’t made a peep in over a month. They like it. Bruce says it’s calming to have total quiet in the lab, save for Tony’s music. Tony doesn’t say anything. He bans Friday from saying anything about it.
The next battle against Loki, he returns it. “I’m shocked they didn’t notice,” he muses, blasting his stupid freaking magic at the suit. (Tony hates magic.) “It must have been a nice reprieve for them, you not talking all the time. Wasting oxygen and breath with silly little comments.” Tony just scowls.
“You’re an asshat,” he mutters, voice coming out like water from a leaky faucet. He’s not used to it. But Loki painfully brought up a point; they liked Tony better when he wasn’t talking.
After the mission, Thor suggests Indian food. Tony really isn’t in the mood, but he eats same as them. He doesn’t say anything. Clint grins at him. Tony weakly smiles back, and thinks about what Loki said. Wasting oxygen and breath. He shouldn’t be doing that when people so obviously don’t care. Tony should’ve learned at an earlier age, what with Howard not paying attention to anything besides booze, inventions, and cars. No one has ever cared.
So, Tony doesn’t talk. He does his job, releases things, and no one cares. No one notices. The Avengers like it better when he doesn’t talk. So, it stops.
Not like anyone notices.
He texts them, yeah. But those are easier to articulate, easier to maneuver. Even Natasha can’t beat him at the texting game. It’s easier than talking, easier than babbling only to realize that no one really cared about the invention he had made for his lab. It wasn’t cool, it was just another thing to tune out.
He gets a small ray of hope when Bruce says that he hasn’t talked to Tony in forever.
“You did at the mission thingy,” Clint says. “You know, when you had to patch up Cap?”
“I did?” Clint shrugs. That’s the end of communication for them. Tony hasn’t talked to Bruce in three weeks and counting, not like it’s a big deal or anything.
Tony honestly thought they would notice by now. He wasn’t doing interviews, he wasn’t at the forefront of his company meetings talking about the new revolutionary tech; it was all Pepper and the other members of Research and Development.
Rhodey is the only one he periodically talks with, but Rhodey isn’t at the base. At least he would notice. Probably. Maybe. It was iffy.
When Rhodey gets to the tower, he notices.
None of the Avengers are spoken to. At first, he thinks that maybe Tony is giving them the silent treatment, and fists will be thrown if they did anything to Tony.
“Tony, why aren’t you talking to any of them?”
“They like it better when I don’t talk,” Tony says nonchalantly. “So I just don’t.” Rhodey’s throat constricts with shock and rage.
“Tony,” he says lowly. “What have I said about jerks who don’t want to talk to you?”
“Kick their asses and take names,” Tony says with a sigh. “Rhodey, I know. But maybe…maybe this is better.”
“No, it isn’t,” Rhodey says, anger growing. “If those clowns can’t handle you talking like you’re about to die from not talking, they’re not friends. They’re not going to be in this tower, making you feel like shit. That’s not how friendship works.” He storms off, towards the common room.
“When did Tony stop talking?” He demanded, looking straight at Natasha.
“What do you mean?” Clint responds for her. “He talks all the time.” Rhodey takes a deep breath. Lord, give him strength.
“No, he hasn’t,” Rhodey says. “The entire time I’ve been here, he hasn’t spoken a word to any of you. Jarvis, since apparently you’re the only one who knows anything around here, when was the last time Tony had an honest-to-god conversation with any of the Avengers?”
“Approximately two months and three days ago,” Jarvis answers. The silence is so stunning that Rhodey would probably win an Oscar for his presentation of facts.
“So none of you have even attempted conversation with him for over two months?” Rhodey asks, pinching the bridge of his nose. “None of you have…? God, I thought things couldn’t get worse, but no, this is the tip of the iceberg. Why haven’t any of you attempted conversations?”
“We didn’t notice that much of a change. Usually, Tony just talks about his inventions anyway, and we can’t really understand what’s going on. So we just, you know, tune it out,” Clint offers feebly.
“I’m sorry you’re angry with us, Colonel,” Steve says, “but I doubt you would’ve noticed a change if you had been with us.” There’s a silence so thick that Rhodey could cut it.
“Okay, listen up Shit-for-Brains, I’m only gonna say this once, so you better respect an army guy with a higher rank than you,” Rhodey says with a growl. “Tony talking all the time is awesome. You get so much out of it, and when he talks a lot about his inventions, it means he’s comfortable with whoever he’s with. But apparently, since all of you are Emotionally Constipated and can’t recognize signs of Unhealthy Activity Among Humans, I’m gonna spell it out for you. all of you suck. All of you need to shower him in gifts and appreciation, because guess who is living in one of the nicest places in the western hemisphere? Oh wait, not me.”
Tony just watches Rhodey go off. He’s silent (what else is new?) and almost smiling. He’s ripping them to shreds, and Natasha sidles up to Tony.
“I’m sorry,” she says simply. “Am I forgiven?”
“No,” Tony answers on instinct. “You owe me a hell of a lot, Natasha. It starts with listening to me tell you all about how you’re screwing up your weapons that I made for you.”