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the heart of the matter

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Howard’s told him a shit ton of stories about Captain America and what a great man Steve Rogers was. He’s courageous and never backs down from a fight. He’s a great strategist despite his limited experience. He’s polite and kind to a fault. In none of those stories, did Howard ever mention that Rogers was twitchy.


He’s twitchier than a nervous cat in a room full of rocking chairs on steroids, okay? He’s a big ball of anxiety or something and he’s always watching Tony like Tony’s going to fall to pieces any God damned second. Which, by the way, is rude, irritating, and confusing all in one go because why? Why the fuck is he the one being stared at all the time? Why’s he the one who keeps being cornered before the Avengers get called out and asked, “Do you want to do this?” Why is he the one Rogers tries to keep at the back of the fight instead of at the front where he’ll be most useful? Tactical genius his ass!


Tony’s not sure what it all means is the thing of it. Because it’d been clear from the get go that Rogers isn’t doing this maliciously or because he doesn’t think Iron Man isn’t capable. He just seems...weirdly concerned about Tony’s health. Which is peculiar because huh? The best Tony can figure is that maybe Rogers is concerned about the two baseline humans in the team (by which he totally means himself and Clint because Natasha’s in a hyper competent league of her own). It was understandable to be worried about the squishy humans when you were the peak of human potential.


But then he’d talked with Clint and turns out? Rogers hadn’t been asking him to stay on the side lines when Doombots were pouring out of Central Park.


That brings Tony back to why in the name of FUCK is Captain America so fucking worried about my health? Tony squints at his own reflection, rubbing a few gray hairs in his beard. Maybe he’s worried that I’m the oldest in the team? Which brings Tony back to feeling insulted because fuck Rogers. 40 is the new 30 and all that shit, plus he’s got JARVIS on his side. Just because he’s not a spring chicken like the others doesn’t mean he can’t hold his own.


As he slips off the gurney in the medbay he’s built on the ‘Avengers floor’ of the Tower, Tony winces because yowtch. He’s getting too old for this but he’s also never going to admit that in front of Rogers. Maybe that’s the thing, Tony muses as he shuffles over to the elevator. Maybe he’s just waiting for me to get so hurt that he’ll-


The rest of the thought goes flying out the window because the elevator dings open and a blue blur rushes into the medbay, almost running over Tony in the process.


Whoa!” Tony exclaims, stumbling back even as his hands look for purchase. they wind up landing on Rogers’ arms right as Rogers grabs him back. Right on top of one his freshly bandaged arms. 


Tony winces right as Rogers asks in a rush, “Are you okay? I came as soon as I heard. You’re not hurt are you? Is your heart okay?”


His...what? Tony blinks up into Rogers’ concerned eyes, which keep darting down to Tony’s arc reactor and his face. His heart? Why the hell would Rogers be worried about that?


“Why the fuck wouldn’t my heart be okay?” Tony asks a touch blankly.


“Because you got hit right in the chest by that...that...thingie.”


Tony would like a minute to process the fact that Captain America said ‘thingie.’ Secondly, Tony frowns because okay. He can see why Rogers’d be worried. Not every day someone tosses an EMP straight at Iron Man’s chest but he’s got fail safe’s built into armor so he’s okay. He says as much too but Rogers’ grip on his shoulders tightens, painfully.


Biting down a wince, Tony smiles up at Rogers, “Mind easing up there?”


Rogers’ worried expression goes from confused to pale dismay in less than a heartbeat. He jumps back like he got electrocuted. “I’m sorry! I didn’t... I...”


Wow, Rogers looks either like he’s going to burst into tears or have a panic attack. Is it bad that Tony hopes for the second because that he can help the man with. If Captain America cries because of him Tony’s not sure what he’ll do (either start crying himself or possibly throw himself out the window in shame). Thankfully, Rogers does neither but he still looks like someone shot his dog in front of him.


Good a chance as any to talk to him about what’s his deal, a voice pops up in Tony’s head and he figures, why not. Clearing his throat, Tony reaches out to touch Rogers’ shoulder. “You okay there? Want some water?”


“I hurt you.” Rogers points out miserably, eyes locked onto the little bit of white gauze that’s peeking out from under Tony’s shirt sleeve. 


“No you didn’t. No. I see you wanting to argue that. You didn’t hurt me. That whacko with the souped up alien-guns though, totally the culprit. I’m just banged up. Nothing some TLC and bruise cream won’t fix.”


“But what about your-” Rogers stops half-way and looks away, a blotch of red starting to grow in his cheeks.


Curious, Tony moves so that he’s back in Rogers’ eye line and asks, “What about my what?”


Rogers seems to be struggling with some internal dilemma before he deflates. Tony’s shocked he doesn’t hear that wet farting-esque sound of air leaving a balloon as Rogers’ shoulders sag. “Natasha said I shouldn’t bring it up ‘cuz you’d get upset that I’m babying you but I can’t help it! You’re a part of the team and I don’t want you getting hurt! I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if you got hurt because of something I asked you to do!”


Tony holds up his hands cuz whoa, whoa, whoa. Natasha? What the hell is Rogers talking about? He opens his mouth to ask this but Rogers barrels on. “SHIELD’s files didn’t say anything about your condition! If I’d have known I never would have- Well. I mean- it’s not up to me. But I’d make sure there’s protocols in place to help you if you ever get hurt that badly! I only found out about it a week after Loki and even that because Thor and me were out and some guy had a heart attack and Thor used mjolnir on him and said he’d done the same to you!”


Hang on a second. Is that what this is all about? Rogers’ been worried about Tony’s heart this whole time? Tony stares at Rogers, who is now pacing in a tight back-and-forth in front of Tony, looking as agitated as Tony’s ever seen him. This is... kind of touching actually. Captain America cares about Tony’s health and well-being (take that Howard! So much for that bullshit that he’d said that Cap wouldn’t ever care for an irresponsible brat lik-”


“I asked JARVIS for help but he says that’s not something I can do or well, I could ask but ultimately that’s between him, you, and you-”


Tony grabs Rogers’ wrist as he passes by, pulling him to a halt that belongs in a Looney Toon’s short instead of reality. Rogers stares at Tony’s hand before blinking up at Tony. His baby blue eyes are wide in surprise, like he never thought Tony would ever touch him. 


Smiling at the blond, Tony gently asks Steve, “You thought I’d have another heart attack?”


“I was worried sick about it,” Rogers admits in a rush.


“JARVIS,” Tony says. “Pull up my charts for Cap.”


A holographic display lights up on the nearest table. Tony waves a hand towards it. “There you go. There’s nothing wrong with my heart. Well, nothing else wrong with my heart except the shards in there. The biggest health issue I’ve got right now is diminished lung capacity.”


“And your cholesterol,” JARVIS reminds. Tony ignores that, completely and utterly because this is an old hat. His cholesterol is borderline


Rogers’ eyes fly over the report, index finger flipping through the pages until he arrives at the end. He peers up at Tony. Something’s relaxed in his posture and Tony’s hard pressed to find words to describe it. Rogers just looks... relieved. “So you're okay? You won’t have another heart attack?”


It’s on the tip of his tongue to say that statistically speaking, the odds of any of them having a heart attack out of the blue are like... pretty fucking good. But Rogers doesn’t want to hear that. Plus that’ll be him splitting hairs. So Tony smiles his most reassuring smile and nods. “Yeah. I’m fit as a fiddle. Want me to prove it?”


Ah! Finally a smile! Okay, Rogers’ lips just barely twitched up but Tony’s counting it as a win. “How do you want to prove it?”


Tony throws his arm around Rogers’ shoulders and pulls him towards the elevator. “We could spar. I could show you what I’ve got.”


Whoops, he didn’t mean for that to come out as flirtatious as it did. Oh but hello. Rogers’ blush is back and he’s looking away bashfully instead of scowling at Tony for the flirting. Isn’t that interesting. Tony smirks and pushes himself a little deeper into Rogers’ personal space. 


Unfortunately in doing so, Rogers’ elbow winds up brushing against the worse of his bruises and he yelps. “Rain check?” Tony wheezes. 


As the elevator doors open, Rogers shakes his head with what is clearly fond amusement and says, “Sure. It’s a date."