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Sacrifice

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Tony bit back his tears, the cold gray stone sitting in the middle of a patch of green grass. He stuffed his hands into his hoodie's pockets, turning away from the gravestone to try and collect himself. Swallowing the lump in his throat, Tony let out a choked whisper.

"It's been 2 years..."

***

The Avengers stood on the overlook of the cliff, silence falling over them as Red Skull told them of the horrible cost to retrieve the soul stone.

Tony glances uneasily over at Steve, the blonde’s gaze already hardened over the edge of the cliff. His dead set eyes told Tony of his decision, which sent Tony’s heart to the bottom of his chest.

“No!” He exclaimed, his voice echoing across the landscape as Steve took a step forward. The rest of the team turned to look at him, his gaze frantic with eyes wide with fear. Subconsciously his arm had shot out to press against Steve’s chest, trying to stop the blonde’s movements.

Steve inhaled sharply, his ocean blue eyes piercing Tony.

“There’s no other way, Tony.” His sentence was firm, but he could tell that Steve was still mentally preparing himself for self sacrifice once more.

“Cap, what are you saying?” Natasha piped up from behind, her arms crossed over her chest.

“It’s gotta be me-“

“We can’t give up now, there’s got to be another way.” Tony protested, his breathing became labored as he racked his brain to try and find an alternate solution.

“Why else would Red Skull be here Tony? I’m meant to go here. To save everyone. To save Pepper. To save Bucky…” when he spoke of Bucky, Tony could hear Steve’s voice become softer, an obvious show of affection to the metal-armed man.

“But-”

“Think about it Tony. No one else can do this.” Steve had pushed past Tony’s arm, placing himself at the very edge of the cliff.

“Steve, NO!” Tony cried as the blonde launched himself over the cliffside before anyone could stop him. He reached out an arm in one last attempt to grab Steve but he was pulled back sharply by Clint, who stood with the rest of the Avengers solemnly. Each of their faces were stricken with pain, as they watched Steve’s back disappear from view and fall to the rocky ground below.

Tony’s heart felt as if it had been ripped out of his chest. He collapsed to his knees, eyes wide with shock. “No…” he whispered to himself, before slamming his fist onto ground.

“No, no, no, no!” He exclaimed, his body tensing every second Steve’s absence hit him.

“Tony… your hand.” Bruce spoke warily.

He opened his palm to find a shining orange stone, adding another one to their growing collection.

“We must go.” Thor said tersely, turning his back on the cliff. Natasha and Clint followed, casting final glances behind them. Bruce helped Tony’s grief stricken figure off of the ground, and they left Vormir, never wanting to return to the place where their dear friend sacrificed himself.

***

The writing on the tombstone had been engraved into Tony's mind for two years. Each one leaving a painful mark of what used to be one of the noblest men he ever knew.

‘Steven Grant Rogers July 4th, 1918 - XX XX, XXXX’

Tony bit his lip, remembering how he used to make fun of Steve for having such a patriotic birthday. He chuckled lightly, setting his hand on the stone. He inhaled sharply and closed his eyes, whispering a final goodbye.

“Sleep well, Cap.”

And buried deep in the earth, where hopefully no one would ever retrieve it, a small orange gem glowed softly.