(angst with a hopeful ending)
“No,” Steve says, his lips frozen and blue, his hands shaking as they grip the frayed pieces of Tony’s shirt.
“No,” he says, and warm, wet tears drip down his cheeks, but he doesn’t even care. He blinks furiously, trying to keep them at bay, not because he cares, but because he wants to see Tony, wants to convince him no, no, this is all wrong.
“We’ll win another way,” he whispers, and the corner of Tony’s mouth quirks up in a smile.
“No,” Tony says, shaking his head, running his hands over Steve’s shoulders, “No we won’t.”
“Tony, you shouldn’t do this. You can’t,” Steve insists, and at this point it doesn’t even matter that his voice cracks on every word.
“I’m sorry,” Tony whispers, leaning in to hug him, wrapping his arms around Steve and squeezing tight, almost so tight that Steve can’t breathe. Steve squeezes back, just as hard, as if he can keep Tony alive just by sheer willpower.
“I’m sorry,” Tony whispers again, in the space between them, and Steve can count every eyelash, he can see every fleck of gold in Tony’s eyes. I’m sorry reverberates through him, and Steve doesn’t even have to question what it’s for. I’m sorry for everything we didn’t have, for everything we did, for everything that’s going to happen.
Tony looks up at him, and even as he faces certain death, his eyes are alive, looking at Steve through dark eyelashes that are coated with tears.
“I love you,” Steve says, softly, and Tony breaks out into a sad, melancholy grin.
“I know. I love you too,” Tony whispers, and then he leans up to press a kiss to Steve’s lips.
It’s demanding and soft all at once. Tony kisses like he’s drowning, clinging to Steve like he’s a lifeboat. It’s a goodbye, and Steve can feel it in every fiber of his soul.
And then, just as quickly as the kiss had started, it ends, with Tony pulling away, running a thumb over Steve’s lips.
“I love you,” Tony whispers, and then he’s gone.
His heat dissipates from where he was just pressed up against Steve, and his eyes blink once, twice, before he steps off the cliff.
“No!” Steve screams, watching as Tony falls off the side, watching as his body hits the rocks below, turning to ashes once it does.
“No,” he whispers, unbelieving, over and over again, until Natasha drags him back onto the spaceship.
Three weeks later, when Thanos is dead, and the gauntlet falls off of Steve’s hand, the lights above him get brighter and brighter, until all he sees is white.
He enters the afterlife to the sound of a familiar voice, and an oh so welcome grin.