Stillness Among the Ashes
It began as any other summer day in August. Tony Stark had finished everything that needed to be done for the day and he was just finishing up a few ideas for modifications to his armor on his computer before leaving. Having a mental block, he started surfing the internet and he caught several news articles on the same event – the anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. For once, something about the images he saw struck him. No matter what Tony did as Iron Man or how many weapons of his that he destroyed, one thing will always be attached to his family's name – the weapon that his father helped to build – the one that changed the world.
Tony felt something deep down that did not sit well with this. His father had only gone to Japan once that he could remember and never set one foot near Hiroshima or Nagasaki. Howard Stark had never seen the results of the destruction that he had caused nor would he let his son.
Tony read on the bottom that there was a memorial being planned in Hiroshima on August 6 and one in Nagasaki on August 9. He was going to be there to pay his respects to the more than 200,000 people who died, even if his father never did.
The next day, Tony and Pepper were flying to Japan. Pepper was watching Tony very carefully since he was being strangely silent. She knew he knew this anniversary well but he never mentioned it until now. Maybe Afghanistan opened up more than just his own eyes but the eyes of the past as well. She held his hand the entire flight, giving him the strength she thought he may need to go through this.
Tony wore his best black suit as he walked through the city of Hiroshima with Pepper on his arm very early on the morning of August 6th. He went through the entire city, absorbing the after-effects of his father's greatest invention. It disturbed him to see some of the oldest citizens still bearing some of the wounds. What was most disturbing was the shadow of a person on the steps of a bank near the place where the bomb hit.
Tony was silent for most of the time, only occasionally squeezing Pepper's hand when he needed her strength to continue. He didn't say much at all until they reached Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park where the Atomic Bomb Dome was located.
"This was the building closest to where the bomb hit and part of it still stands." Tony stated as he looked up at the skeletal remains of the building. "It is a remarkable feat of engineering on both parts." He whispered, speaking of the building and the bomb.
As they continued, Tony and Pepper stopped at the Atomic Bomb Memorial Mound and laid flowers and a few small paper cranes, the symbol of peace, at the grave of 70,000 people who died in seconds. They walked through the entire park, stopping at every memorial there and the Peace Flame.
Just before eight in the morning, the entire city seemed to gather in front of the Memorial Cenotaph for the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony. Tony and Pepper stayed towards the back of the crowd, not wanting to intrude or remind those who still lived that his father caused their pain and suffering. Through the ceremony, Tony could not help but feel sick at what was his father's legacy and realized that he may have had just as many die on his account. At the end of the ceremony, Tony and Pepper left quietly and headed to Nagasaki to do the whole thing again three days later.
"I now know why my father never wanted me to see this." Tony said sadly as he held Pepper's hand. "Because a weapons manufacturer should never see the destruction that their work causes. Any man with a conscience could not continue to make methods of destruction after seeing this."
"I think your father was trying to protect you." Pepper said reassuringly.
"Or himself." Tony said quietly. "This is one of the reasons why I can not let the only Stark legacy be a body count. I have access to some of the best technology in the world and I used it, like he did, to destroy. I want to protect the people now. I have to."
"Aren't you already with Iron Man, despite the fact at how much it scares me?" Pepper asked.
"It will take a lot more to clear this much blood off of my family's name."