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"I'm sorry, Tony," says Steve, his otherwise calm voice tinged with a smidgen of regret. "You know I wouldn't do this if I had any other choice."

Pause. But. There's always a but.

"But he's my friend."

Friend.

Funny how that works, thinks Tony bitterly, a tear beginning to form in the back of his eye. You meet a guy, butt heads for a bit, put a team together, let him in your life...but it wasn't enough, was it? I thought...

"So was I."

You were my friend, Steve. In our own, weird, roundabout way, we had something. You said you liked me. You said you'd miss me. You said...a lot of things.

I thought it would last. I really did.

Steve takes a tentative step forward. Tony prepares his blasters.

But noooooo, you had to stab me in the back first chance you got, spit in the face of everything we've built together. And for what? Some crazy assassin from the forties? The guy who killed my parents?

Seriously, Capsicle, what's wrong with you? What's the freakin' Winter Soldier got that I don't?

“Yeah, but…” Steve pauses, sucks in a shaky breath, and lets the words burst out of him like a frightened firework. “He’s more than that, Tony.”

Tony blinks, taking a couple of seconds to process this information. More than that…more than friends…more than… "You mean..." Oh, shoot, they’re banging, aren’t they?

Steve nods.

And for perhaps the first time in his life, Tony Stark is speechless.