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Memorial

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Tony stood back, watching Steve as he stared up at the monument. He'd been taking in the memorial to The War for over an hour now, moving at a somber pace as he walked past each section. When he came to the Wall of Stars, Steve paused before every one of the 4,000 stars, as though privately acknowledging the 100 soldiers each star represented. When they came to any inscriptions, Steve read each word, lips moving as he whispered them out loud. Tony had walked with him for the first half of the hour, but when he noticed Steve's lips trembling, he moved away under the pretense of wanting another look at the pacific section of the monument.

Now he stood there, waiting. Snow had begun to drift down from the sky. Delicate flakes landed on Steve's gloveless hand and melted into nothing. Steve had left his gloves at the hotel room and refused to borrow Tony's despite early November cold. Tony rubbed at his nose, then sniffled. With a sigh, he blew into his own hands, relishing the warmth of his own breath against his nose and cheeks

"It's getting cold."

Tony looked up to see Steve walking back over to him, the wind turning his nose and cheeks pink.

"It does that in the winter, or so I've been told," Tony quipped. As Steve drew up next to him, Tony could see that his eyes were red.

"What do you think?" Tony asked. He spoke in tones he'd used the few times he'd been inside a church.

Steve looked back at the monument and said nothing for several seconds. He ran his tongue over his lips then looked back at Tony. "It's swell."

"Swell? That's it? Swell."

Steve shrugged. "It's just," he frowned for a long moment and looked down. "It would have been nicer if it were the only one here."

Tony gazed up at Steve, his brow furrowed. "I know World War II was big, but I don’t see how other monuments dimini-"

Steve shook his head. "No, no of course there should be monuments to those who fought in other wars.” Steve frowned again, and stared off into the distance. “What I mean is that it would have been better if this one had been the last." Steve took a deep breath and looked back in the direction of the Vietnam Wall. "But there are so many memorials here, Tony. We just can't stop going to war, can we?" Steve’s eyes narrowed and his lips became a thin line. It was the look Tony never wanted aimed at him, "And then the politicians complain about the cost of supporting the veterans rather than the cost of the wars," Steve growled.

Tony looked down at his feet, trying hard not to think of his past, of everything Stark Enterprises had stood for, still stood for in most people’s minds. He could feel Steve looking down at him, and then suddenly, Steve had taken his hand and squeezed it tight. “Are you still offering me dinner? I think I would like that.”

Tony opened and shut his mouth like a school boy being unexpectedly asked to prom. “I don’t know,” he said as he recovered his composure. “We’re in Washington DC, maybe I should flip flop on that offer.”

Steve chuckled and let go of Tony’s hand. "Then call wherever you want. I’m trusting you."

Tony laughed as he reached for some dark glasses “That could go badly.”

"So Pepper warned me," Steve answered with warmth in his voice that made Tony blush. "Tony-"

Tony glanced up at Steve, holding off putting on the glasses.

"Thank you, thank you for taking me here."

Tony gave Steve a smile. "It's the least I could do, really," he said as he put on his glasses and pulled out his phone to make some last minutes reservations.