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Fireworks made him nostalgic.

No matter what he said to Pepper about not being a nostalgic person. Fireworks were one of the few things that did make him feel nostalgic.

He remembered being a kid, sitting on the dock out on the water next to their house in Long Island. Fireworks going off. Not so much the big ones out on a barge. But little ones. His mom handing him sparklers.

Other 4th of Julys. As he got bigger, discovered kissing. The smell of gunpowder went with his first kiss. That’s why the smell of gunpowder turned him on.

As much as he said he didn’t like what they were doing, and they weren’t going to do it anymore, he still liked to blow things up. He liked to hear that boom, and the flash, and the sparkle. That was the real reason he’d went to Afghanistan to personally demonstrate the Jericho missiles. No way was he passing up the opportunity to blow up something that freaking big. He’d had the biggest boner of his life when the backwash had hit him.

Of course, it was different when he thought he was doing things for good. Only the good guys had their weapons and only the bad guys were dying. Then he found out there was a lot of ways to define good guys and bad guys.

It was easier when he thought their weapons were being used to defend Mom, apple pie, and the good ole red, white, and blue. Defending our troops. Saving them with the best weapons in the world. Killing all those bad guys and only the bad guys. Fighting for Old Glory.

Except the bad guys were using his weapons to kill the good guys. And there were innocent people in the middle. Innocent people he hadn’t realized even existed. Nobody was supposed to live in a war zone.

But still he loved fireworks. They made him nostalgic for sitting on his mom’s lap. Holding the sparkler out. His dad warning him not to touch the metal – damn it, Tony! – the metal was red hot. He would burn his fingertips every year because he wouldn’t drop it until the last spark had died.

That first sweet kiss tasted like strawberry lip gloss and soda. And smelled like gunpowder. That’s why the smell of gunpowder turned him on.

Fireworks made him nostalgic.