"How were you guys planning on beating that?"
"Then we'll do that together, too."
"I needed you. I said we'd lose. You said we'd do that together too. Guess what, Cap, we lost. And you weren't there. Liar."
His words echo in Steve's mid everyday. It was like a virus clinging to a host, slowly spreading and taking over every day.
He didn't know how to make it right. It didn't matter if Tony gave him the shield, it didn't matter if they won in the end. He was gone and Steve couldn't fix what he did.
He couldn't apologize to Tony, he couldn't be there for him, he couldn't stop what had happened.
His therapist told him that it wasn't his fault, and that he had to understand that blaming himself wasn't going to make the situation better.
But, he can't. Those words linger in his mind as a form of sick torture. The look on Tony's face when he said that, the hurt in his eyes couldn't be forgotten.
If Steve got a chance to talk to him again, he wouldn't know what to say. How do you apologize when you can't even say what you're sorry for?
He'd practiced hours upon hours in the mirror, trying to figure out how to say the right words. But nothing seemed like it was good enough. Nothing could justify what he did.
When he watched Tony die, his heart shattered for two different reasons.
Having to watch your best friend die is traumatizing enough. But having to watch someone you admired, had history with, and went through good and bad with die is worse.
He couldn't stop it. He couldn't do anything to stop it. He just stood there and watched, with tears in his eyes, as he wasted away.
Any chance that he wanted at reconciliation, or even neutrality, was gone.
That night, he didn't even cry like he cried for Bucky. He just sat alone and thought.
He thought about all the good times they had together. He thought about all the times he could've told Tony how much he cared about him, but he didn't. He thought about how life would be without him, how he would move on, forgetting Tony like an old childhood friend.
The longer Steve thought, the sadder he got. But that's all that Steve could do.
A week later, he finally broke.
"Do you want coffee?" Bucky asks, standing near the coffee maker.
"What?" Steve asks, looking up from a book.
"I said, do you want coffee?" Bucky asks. "It's gonna get cold."
"Uh, sure." Steve says.
Bucky grabs a cup out of the cabinet and pours some coffee into it. He places it on the counter in front of Steve.
"Thanks." Steve says, looking up from his book once again to pause.
Bucky poured his coffee into Tony's favorite cup, the one with 'I HATE STEVE ROGERS' plastered on the front next to a picture of Cap's shield. Tony said he had it custom-made as a birthday gift to himself.
"Hey, what's wrong?" Bucky asks, now kneeling next to Steve. He doesn't remember anything else Bucky said, or when he got there.
Steve turned to look at Bucky and he noticed that he had tears brimming in the bottom of his eyes, making his vision extremely blurry.
"He's gone." Steve whispered before he started sobbing, shivers wracking through his body.
He doesn't remember how long he cried for, but he remembers screaming in agony, even though he was in no pain.
Through all of it, Bucky was there, just holding him. He understood, and that's all that Steve needed.
For some people, their punishment is quick, merciless, even. It leaves no room for forgiveness or mourning.
But Steve, he wasn't as lucky as them. His punishment would never end, and he will never be okay with that.