The debris washed up in the night, strewn on the beach, detritus left by the maelstrom that had howled like the demons of hell trying to rise.
Peter had brought him the the piece from the aft of the ship, hand carved by Tony so many years ago now that Steve can’t rightly remember how many it was.
He can recall the shape of Tony’s hands as he’d carved it, the way his smile had looked in the candlelight, the way those same hands had caressed his skin like it was the finest porcelain…but aught else escapes him.
What he knows now is that the Iron Man has sunk beneath the waves, taking all 200 souls along with it to the briney depths.
He paces the beach, scouring the ruins for some sign, some hope that Tony isn’t among the dead. That his love still lives.
He walks and walks and walks till he can’t anymore, sinks to his knees and lets the waves roll over him as the cool wind whips past his face. His trousers soak and he’s chilled down to the bone—the winter winds are not kind to his soft skin and he thinks distantly that he’ll take ill and perish if he doesn’t rise but he can’t, can’t move, can’t breathe because Tony is gone.
He collapses forward with a sob, salt on his cheeks and tongue and he’s not sure if it’s the ocean or the sky crying—the wind and the waves are desolate things and he is the perfect company for them.
Grains of sand work into the very fibers of his being, scratching against his soul as he sobs and gasps, fingers clawing at the sand.
Give him back, please, give him back
It is a plea that neither the old gods nor the new hear.
It falls on deaf ears.
Give him back
He vomits brine and peers through bleary eyes at the sand beneath him, coating his skin from head to toe.
He’s bruised and battered and broken and when he lifts his head he recognizes nothing surrounding him.
He crawls to his knees and stares out at the slip of land he’s washed up on.
Far from home.
Tony sobs and presses a hand to his lips, tasting the salt, tasting his sorrow.
Take me home, please, take me home
The wind does not care for his plea, it carries it away to die on the current.
He is alone.
He wishes he could have said goodbye to Steve at least, to see his beautiful face once more.
The tide rises and he watches the sun set.
He is alone.
Take me home