The first time Steve tried was after the battle with Loki. He found himself on the top of a storey building, staring death in the face. He remembered screaming, begging Tony to let him drop. Tony had put a tracker on Steve’s phone when he noticed a change in his behaviour and had found him just in the nick of time. He pulled Steve away from the edge, hugging him to his body.
“Let me go, Tony,” he cried, pushing at his friend. “Please, let me go.”
“No,” Tony said, his voice was shaking. Tears were on his cheeks. “I can’t do that. I can’t lose you too. You’re staying right here, with us.”
Steve had resisted, pushing Tony away, only to find Bruce blocking his escape route. “Please,” he begged Bruce, “please, please, I can’t do this anymore. It hurts too much –
He knew that if Bruce hulked out there would be no point in him trying. He collapsed then, in Tony’s arms and sobbed. “I want to go home,” he said brokenly, heavy sobs shaking his body as he clung onto his friend, face buried in Tony’s chest.
“I know, pal. I know,” Tony whispered. His arms wrapped around Steve’s trembling frame while Bruce sat on the other side of him. He put a blanket over the Captain’s shoulders and whispered a sweet lullaby which Steve would later use to calm Bruce down when he was the hulk.
If Steve closed his eyes, he could imagine he was back in the 40’s, crying into Howard’s chest. But that time was gone. And he had woken to a world of ice.
After that, the team watched Steve closely, he agreed reluctantly to see a therapist and take special medication for his depression. Ones that would work on a super soldier’s body and mind. When he met Sam, Steve’s world brightened for a few days, until he found out that Hydra were still at large and his best friend had been turned into a killing machine.
He tried a second time, though he could frame it as part of the mission, when he and Bucky fought in the Helicarrier. He thought if Bucky won’t remember him then there was no point him living in a world without him. He had tried that and it wasn’t worth it.
But Bucky had saved him and left him on the river bank.
He tried a third time after Ultron, in the peace of his small apartment he’d got while looking for Bucky. His best friend didn’t want to know him and no one else in the world seemed to understand the pain that he felt. The crushing weight on his shoulders. The loss and guilt he felt.
He tried to overdose but his body wouldn’t allow it.
Sam and Natasha found him the next morning, red eyed and crying over Bucky’s dog tags.
He stopped eating as much as he should, sometimes even throwing up his meals in the hopes of running his body down so much so it would give out.
It never did.
When Bucky came back to him and they escaped to Wakanda, Steve thought the darkness was put to rest. He had always been a fighter. Fighting to be heard, to be respected, to be seen. The only comfort he had ever felt was at home with Bucky or his mother and father. In the future, he found that he wanted to hide, the attention he had fought so hard for was no longer worth it.
He had gone into the ice in the hopes of the world becoming a better place.
And now, he had Bucky to focus on. He had to be strong for his best friend. So, he pushed his feelings away while the months of Bucky’s recovery rolled in. He smiled when Bucky remembered something and laughed at Sam’s jokes. He forced himself to eat properly, to train, to be normal. He watched Wanda’s magic work its way with Bucky’s mind and listened to T’Challa’s advice. He stood by as Bucky’s memories came back in hues of red, gold and blue, as their childhood and teen years cemented themselves in his mind.