Steve

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"The doctors say he shattered L4 through S1, extreme laceration to the spinal cord. Probably would be looking at some form of paralysis," Tony explained to Natasha quietly as the two stood overlooking the compound lawn, "but she fixed it. She fixed it and almost gave her own life because it's what I wanted her to do."

"Steve's not gonna stop. If you don't either, (Y/N) is gonna be the best case scenario."

"She's going to leave," he continued as if she hadn't said a word, "as soon as she wakes up, she's gone, Nat. I'm such a selfish asshole, you know that?"

"As a matter of fact, I did."

"Pfft, thanks."

"Let's entertain that, though," Natasha smiled, resting her hand gently over his forearm, "tell me why you think you deserve that title, and then I'll tell you mine."

"Hmm, that's strangely kinky, Romanoff." Tony smiled weakly, avoiding her eyes and knowing that all she wanted was for him to look back so that she could read him better; Natasha had a strange ability to break through his façade and see what was really going on behind it, and this time he was desperate to keep her out. Anything that involved how he really felt about you was no one's business but his, no matter how close of a friend they might be. "What if she doesn't wake up? It's my fault."

"She's an adult and made her choice, Tony," she tried to reassure him, with no success. "Not everything can be your fault. A fair amount, maybe, but not everything."

Tony had opened his mouth to offer his quick witted argument before she had fully finished, but he found himself held silent with a reluctant curl of a smile at the corners of his mouth. "I've gotta tell ya, Red, I've never seen such a compassionate side to you before. It's refreshing. Like, running my face into an iceberg, kind of refreshing."

~~~

Once Natasha had left, and Rhodey had tried and failed to get him to rest at home, Tony returned to your hospital room to spend the night at your side just as he had done each night since your arrival there. In a moment of exhausted desperation, he grabbed a few of the extra hospital pillows from the closet and a stray blanket that had found its way onto the foot of your bed. Doing his best to be quiet, he pulled one of the recliners across the room and next to you, dropping his drained form into it with a heavy sigh. He sat still that way for a few minutes, just watching your breathing and its rhythm, hoping that it would calm his nerves so that he could rest; he should have known better, because nothing would work if it was anything less than seeing your eyes open to look back.

He finally slid the two pillows behind his head, but they were lumpy and thin and not nearly up to his usual standard. He tried doubling them over, but that just made it worse. He considered calling the nurse to find him a real pillow, but he shot that idea down as quickly as it came to him, hearing an emergency alarm sounding in the hall just outside and knowing that a pillow was the least of anyone's concern. "I donate enough to this joint," he grumbled, trying to position them again, "pillows aren't...that expensive..." he struggled, slapping his hand against them.

"The kind you sleep on are," you whispered, your voice cracking from lack of use. "We can't all live as luxuriously as you, Tony."

"Hey!" he jumped up, stumbling to his feet and dropping the useless bedding to the floor. "You're awake! Are you okay? How do you feel?"

"Thirsty."

"Right...hold on, just a sec." With a renewed spring in his step, he crossed the room again to grab you a glass of water while you sat up and tested your energy level after draining it to nearly nothing. "Hey, lie down, you just woke up."

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