I just watched Judgment Day over again, and I decided to write about how Tony might have felt at Jenny's funeral. This was for the Fan Fiction Critique Group's Challenge #8. Please enjoy a bit of Tony angst...

Pain and Blame

Grief… that is what this room is filled with. Everyone in this room is trying to work through their own version of it. I'm here, but I'm not. I'm gasping for air, praying someone will save me from myself. In this moment nothing feels real; I stand here surrounded by those who are seeking closure. These are people who are not unlike me. This room is full of peers, my co-workers, none of them are strangers, but I can't see who they are. I can't see their faces, I can't hear their names. I feel them around me, but my eyes won't focus; the room and the crowd is just a blur. The only sound I can hear is the roar in my head as I try and understand the words of those around me.

Two emotions fill me, pain and blame. I feel the pain of my failure and my blame for the outcome. This pain is ripping through my very soul; it's not physical pain, but the gut wrenching twist that comes when you know that you've done something that you can never take back, something that you can never make right. The pounding of my head is the only thing that keeps me aware that I am still in the room, that I haven't gone to some far off place where I can torture myself until I feel that I have made up for the wrong that I did.

Blame is the only other thing I can feel. What I don't understand is why I'm the only one who blames me for what has happened. I can't meet the eyes of those who want to comfort me. When I look into their eyes I can only see my guilt reflected back to me. They tell me I'm not to blame, but I don't believe it. I know what they are thinking even if they won't say it. I am positive that they think I failed. I should be used to failure by now. Even my own father said I would end up in the gutter. He was right. I might not physically be standing in the sewer, but I am trapped in the sewer of my guilt and shame.

I am numb, numb to every other emotion. I have frozen myself as I try to go through the motions of existing. I exist from moment to moment, but I don't live anymore. My life has turned into the hell of knowing that it was my fault. I can find no absolution for my crime, there is no one who can forgive me now that you are gone.

I just don't know how much longer I can keep up my facade, the mask that I wear to hide the stain I feel on my soul. You've never seen my face, not really. I have hidden it beneath the mask; if you had seen my face you would see that it is twisted, warped by my guilt and this blame. I've spent too much time perfecting the art of deception, and I have honed my skills through long years of practice. It is the only way I can exist anymore.

I remember the moments when we smile and those between. It was in those moments that my true self was apparent only to you. I always worked so hard for you; I gave my heart to the assignment you gifted me with. When it went bad you never turned your face from me. You were the only one who really saw me, appreciated me for what I was capable of. You told me I was valuable, needed.

How could I have let you down so badly? They said I wasn't to blame, that I was following orders. That is the only thing I have to hold on to, but it is little consolation as I stand here amongst the blur of faces and voices that surround me. This is the battle I have with myself, the pull between my guilt and the consolation of others. I don't know which will win. Honestly, sometimes I don't care.

I haven't slept since that day. Fatigue has filled every fiber of my being. I can't sleep, every time I close my eyes I see you lying on the floor, blood pooling around your body, and your lifeless hand still clutching your gun. I have tried to drink my guilt away; to find peace in the mind-numbing burn of alcohol. Scotch has become my drug of choice. I can't do it though, even drowning my guilt in a sea of scotch hasn't helped me to let it go. My guilt still consumes me as reality has sunk in. I know that nothing will ever be the same again, my failure is responsible. You are gone, and I can never make it right. I wish I could tell you how much you meant to me; I can't and that is my fault too.

They will put you in the ground today. The box that is your final resting place will be covered by dirt and you will disappear. Your smile and laugh will be gone forever. They will exist only in my mind. The only thing left to show you existed will be a granite marker with your name and two dates on it. What happened during that time in-between? Where did that time go? How can two dates be the sum of a life? I don't understand why. Your life was spent in service to our country, and it feels like there should just be more.

The sun is shining. It feels wrong; the clouds should be crying their own tears as we reach this place. This is my last chance to try and apologize to you, to try and find some kind of peace. I don't know where it will come from, or if it will ever come. I watch the casket go into the ground, tears fill my eyes and I try to remember you as you were before that fateful moment.

Good-bye, Jenny.