Tony blinks his eyes open, adjusting to the bright white nothing in the scope of his vision. He stands up after adjusting to the brightness of the vast white nothingness, his legs wobbly and his mind disoriented. And as he looks around to see nothing he grows more confused
“The man of Iron, Anthony Stark. My my” a strange lady greets him appearing out of thin air, startling Tony. “Jesus fuck please do it more subtly I have a heart condition” Tony slowly moves his hand to rub his chest where his scar and reactor is supposed to be to find nothing but a blank spot.
“Not here, little human” the lady remarks. “I’m sorry- who are you?” Tony questions, his confusion evidently showing. “Why who could I be but the lady death, Anthony?” Tony’s eyes widen in surprise at this– does that- does that mean... he’s dead? “Are you saying I... died?”
“Well what other reasons have you to be here but death, Anthony? Welcome to the afterlife” and just like that, she disappears leaving Tony even more confused and frazzled than before holy shit he’s dead. He died- he’s in the afterlife- why is he in the afterlife?
Curious and confused, Tony continues walking. He continues walking until he finally comes across a shadow- can there be shadows? How does reflection work in the afterlife? of a man. Tony slowly approaches the man. “Um hi, I don’t suppose you really know what’s going on, do you?”
The man turns around at his question. Wait. He knows him, blue eyes, blonde wavey hair... Steve. “Tony?” Steve questions. “Steve. Oh god. Steve- what, what are you doing here?” then again steve looks weird, feels weird? There’s something about his presence that’s calm but at the same time also unsettling?
It’s like the ocean- the ocean hair, the suit. It’s a recurring theme, it seems. “I, uh. I died too” Steve’s hands run through his blonde locks. “So it’s true? We’re really dead?” Tony’s voice caught in his throat as he speaks, obviously shocked. “I’m sorry” Steve says mournfully
“It’s not your fault” Tony responds to Steve’s apology. “I failed to save you- I couldn’t get to you in time, I’m sorry” Steve- Steve seems so sad, Tony just wants to hug Steve. “Hey cap, you tried your best, okay? It’s okay, we're together now” Tony embraces Steve softly, which was returned shortly by Steve, the two of them being each other’s anchor for just a bit.
The embrace lasted awhile, both Steve and Tony finding comfort in each other. “So what do we do now?” Tony breaks the silence. “We cross, we walk, we move on.” Steve points to the general direction of nothingness. “So what are you still doing here?” Tony questions “I was waiting”
“Waiting? Waiting for what?” Tony wonders, it must be really important to Steve. “I was... I was waiting for you.” Steve shyly says under his breath, just loud enough for Tony to be able to hear. “Me?” Questions Tony further. “Yes you, genius.” Why would Steve wait for Tony?
“Well I, uh. Okay. I’m here now” Assures Tony. “We can go”. At first, Steve seems to be silent- is he looking at Tony? “Let’s take a walk then” Steve finally breaks his stare.
“Aye aye captain, lead the way.” Steve rolls his eyes fondly at Tony’s wording, both of them moving.
At first, they both walk in silence, both of them thinking individually. “So um- Steve, how long will this take?” Stupid, stupid question, Tony. “I don’t know exactly, but the goddess did say something about it just taking a bit of us?” Steve answers, his mouth twisting.
“Who decided to make the after life a hard thing, I swear–“ Tony groans, his shoulders slumping. “Well I mean even in other myhts there’s the whome judgement thing you know, Tony?” Steve remarks, his brain thinking hard. “So what the hell are we supposed to do then? I hate this”
“Well I don’t know, Tony.” Steve is still staring at him, why does he keep staring? “Why are you staring?” He did not mean to say that out loud. “It’s just- you’re beautiful, Tony. Look at the stars in you” Steve’s hands slowly move up to touch Tony’s star flecked hair. “Stars?”
“I- yeah, you’re one with the stars and all.” Steve’s hands slowly comes off Tony’s hair. “Cut the bullshit, Rogers.”
“I’m not, Tony. You really are.”
“What does that even mean?”
“It means absolutely everything”
“What are you trying to say?”
“You’re just... you. You’re beautiful.” Tony is seriously starting to get tired- Steve is so stubborn.
“Thanks, I- you too” Tony isn’t even kidding. Steve’s eyes are so incredibly blue, his hair is one with the waves, his suit is the wave. Everything about Steve was the ocean.
“Your eyes, there are stars in them. Your hair is also star speckled. Gosh Tony, you’re beautiful”
Okay, Steve definitely isn’t making sense, the stars, how can he have ‘stars in his eyes’ maybe it’s a metaphor? Or what about the whole star hair? Yeah, no. Tony’s not falling for that bullshit.
“Just tell me, What do you really want to say? Why are you acting all weird” Why are you blaming yourself Tony questions.
“I- I don’t know, Tony. You’re my friend, you know”
“Okay. And?” Tony raises an eyebrow- is that supposed to be new? “I- I don’t know, I mean you’re a nice chap and all and I- never mind” Steve cuts himself in the middle of the sentence, Tony despises it when someone does that.
“Steve, you said no more secrets” Tony really wants answers “We’re dead, Tony”
“Your point is? Just tell me, okay?” Tony softly urges. “I fine- just, I... I love you, okay?” Steve turns his face away, both of them stopped walking. “You... what?” “I know, you think it’s weird and-“ Tony leans in to Steve, giving him a kiss to the mouth “Shut up, Steve”
“I love you too- I can’t believe it took us years and finally death for me to say that. God. I’m such an idiot” Tony nearly laughs at himself.
“It’s, I’m sorry too” Steve looks ashamed.
“Stop apologizing for doing absolutely nothing” Tony is seriously starting to get sick of Steve’s guilty eyes.
“No, Tony. I... I could’ve helped you, I could’ve been there for you. But you know what I did? I betrayed you, I left you, I let you die” Steve takes a deep breath here, his palms covering his mouth.
“Let me finish”
“Tony, my home wasn’t the Avengers. It wasn’t the tower, or the mansion, or SHIELD. It was... you. You gave me a home, just you- and that’s when- that’s how I realized I was in love with you.”
“–I feel like I’ve loved you for so long, Tony. And I feel stupid at how long it took for me to talk about it, and above all I still did those things to you and I just can’t forgive myself for it.” Steve finishes.
“Look, Cap. It’s okay. We’re here now, we’re together, and we have an eternity right?” Tony brushes Steve’s cheeks. “So let’s walk, let’s talk. Let’s forgive, let’s forget, okay?”
Tony looks around to the pale white surroundings. Closing his eyes, slowly starting to see some of his memories past by. His mother teaching him piano, Jarvis fixing his tie, Anna making cookies for him to steal, Every single time Rhodey helped him get up, when Rhodey told him they were best friends. When Happy saved him from a group of thugs, his and pepper’s first meeting- and first kiss. He remembers the Avengers, Bruce and his constant presence, Natasha and her constant mothering, Clint as a constant annoyance, Thor and every-time he discovers something ‘new’. He remembers his kids, Peter and Harley.
He remembers Steve- Steve sketching in his worksop, Steve cooking breakfast, Steve’s bright blue eyes, Steve gleaming after his morning run, Steve being- Steve. Steve who’s with him now, Steve who’s next to him.
He forgets Howard, he forgets the pain. He forgets Ty and Sunset- and Obie, he forgets the betrayal. He forgets... Steve and Bucky, he forgets Thanos, he forgets pain. He forgets the hurt.
“Let’s move on” Tony says, opening his eyes, a slow tear running down his cheek.
“Okay” and hands interwined. Steve and Tony walks, they walk far until they encounter a tunnel. The grip they have on each other’s hands tighten, holding each other for a sense of comfort- so they won’t be alone, so they won’t be scared, because together? Nothing will beat them.
Tony, with the stars. Steve, with the ocean. Both static and dynamic. A light to each other’s darkness. And together, they walk into the tunnel, white light instantly surrounding them, absorbing them.
“I love you, Tony Stark.”
“I love you too, Steve Rogers”
and with a flash of light, hands still intertwined, they’re gone.