“Listen, there’s one more thing you have to do for me,” Steve looks to Tony, the lightheartedness of the preceding conversation punctuated with old man jokes and variations of “Capsicle!” all but gone as Steve wears a curious, solemn look on his face.
“You can’t keep me from getting drunk,” says the billionaire, half-serious but perhaps in an attempt to redirect the talk away from something he instinctively dreaded.
“You— you have to forgive yourself for everything that went down the other day.”
“You are so annoying.”
Steve smiles, “Yeah.”
Tony feels a sharp pinch deep in his chest as he flushes with an emotion he could not explain. His eyes linger on Steve’s, and his readied retort falls by the wayside as he returns the smile.
“Ok,” comes Tony’s breathless reply, perhaps one of the very few times that he actually means it. “So where’s your sketchpad? Aren’t you going to do some drawings?
“Drawings of what?” the air suddenly feels cooler as Clint walks up from behind and catches Tony off guard. Tony turns around to see the archer neatly dressed in a black suit and tie.
“You know, drunk S.H.I.E.L.D. officers in worsening states of undress. Board members in attendance who don’t even know today is actually my birthday. The usual.”
Confusion etched on his face, Clint pauses, choosing his words carefully before asking: “Where do you think we are?”
Tony turns back to Steve, hoping for assistance in berating the assassin, only to find the Captain nowhere to be seen. He looks around to find poplar trees lining the paved road on which he stands, meticulously manicured lawns on both sides, headstones of varying sizes and maintenance at precise distances apart. In an instant, everything falls into place. Tony, left at a loss and confronted with the harsh reality that his mind has dutifully kept at bay in the last couple of days, looks up at the sky and grimly smiles.
He blinks back tears before he faces Clint again and nods slightly in acknowledgement. Hands in his pockets, Tony walks across the lawn, past faded grave markers of people long gone and some forgotten, towards a casket draped with the American flag.