Uh...Earlier That Day
The day had started just as any other for Tony; a secret meeting to determine the fate of the planet, a terrible choice, and a phone call to Pepper. They had already lost an hour by the time he was back in New York, phone precarious in his hand as he tore through the almost deserted streets, jerking sharply around the rare all night bus and sentry. "You just need to be ready. And it'll be over before you know it," he told Pepper, typing a message with his thumb and a rare glance to the screen. "You have the locations? It's going to be fast and hot, but don't let yourself think you're running out of time, be patient with everyone and it'll be smooth...Are you packed? Leave it there, I'll take care of it, just suit up." The clumsy text to Nick to wake him up, warn him that Reed was on his way and to prepare himself was sent just as Tony hit the curb outside of the dark bagel shop, the low light of the glass faced fridge luring him inside. "Keep your ears open. Don't worry. I'll see you later." It was never too early to start lying.
The cold glow of his RT had led Tony through this room dozens of times, and he didn't know he could miss it any more (not that he missed the hardware; he missed having smooth skin and an intact chest and being whole, but a little extra whole really came in handy in a crisis) until he stepped through the door with a spill of toxic orange illuminating his feet, making him clench his fist tightly so it struggled to push through his fingers. Cautious of the stillness, he moved quickly and as quietly as he could, even whispering, "Steve," as he got close and braced a knee on the bed next to the heavy impression Steve left on the room. Hand on his arm, Tony gave a pull as though to mobilize Steve himself, still whispering, "Gotta talk, come on."
By the time the sun rose on New York, the whole world would know the countdown that glowed in Tony's palm, and they were going to need a calm and steady presence to help them understand it. More than that, Steve deserved to hear it from Tony. There wasn't a better time to own your mistakes than the end of the world.