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Empty Chairs at Empty Tables

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There's a grief that can't be spoken.

Steve sat in silence. His eyes were downcast. Pietro’s death had hit him hard. He was a child in Steve’s eyes. A punk kid who he could have shaped into someone more wonderful than he already was.

There's a pain goes on and on.

Even as he sat, Steve had too many deaths on his mind. Pain from a war that seemed a hundred years past, but for him was more like four years past. He saw men and boys die on savage battlefields that the world had not seen the like of before or since. He had been their hero, and he had been able to save so few.

Empty chairs at empty tables

Natasha watched him and could see who he was thinking of by the way his hands were folded. For strangers, boy and men who he had been unable to save, his hands were fists of fury.

Now my friends are dead and gone.

For friends, the Howling commandos, his hands were flat. He was resigned that though they were gone, mostly they had not been taken by some Nazi or Hydra goons. It wasn’t as bad with them. they had lived in war  and died in peace.

Oh my friends, my friends forgive me

Bucky made his eyes water. Tears dripped from the bridge of his nose and his hands shook.

That I live and you are gone.

Bucky was his friend and ally before and after the war and that he was stolen from him was the cruelest of punishments.

There's a grief that can't be spoken.

Even after the winter soldier, Steve never talked about him.

There's a pain goes on and on.

He suffered in silence.

Phantom faces at the windows.

No less than six times he glanced up, eyes full of false hope as someone who looked like Gabe, Jim, James, or Jacques, or the Colonel

Phantom shadows on the floor.

After Pietro, it began to get worse. He visited the museum and stared at the shadow of Dum Dum Dugan’s hat.

Empty chairs at empty tables

He stopped dead in his tracks every time he heard Sharon talk about her aunt.

Where my friends will meet no more.

Oh my friends, my friends, don't ask me

She asked him once, during one of his meditations on the past whether or not he wished he would have woken up.

What your sacrifice was for

He said yes and no.

Empty chairs at empty tables

The no was for his friendships in the present.

Where my friends will sing no more

The no was for the beautiful woman waiting to dance with him. She, too, had suffered in unbearable silence.