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I Can't Decide If I'll Let You Save My Life Or If I'll Drown

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Tony kicked off his shoes and dropped his bag by the door, leaving Steve in the foyer while he went to find his mother. He liked to know where his parents were in the house, where was safe to go. He had assumed she would be asleep, based on the rough morning they had had. But he found her sitting in the sunroom with a book.

She looked up and smiled when she saw him, closing the book and reaching out a hand, “Hello darling,” She cooed, cupping the back of his head as she pulled him down for a kiss. Maria's eyes looked tired as she smiled up at him with her distant stare.

“I've got Steve here.” Tony said, kissing her cheek in reply and straightening, glancing down at the coffee table where her empty cocktail glass sat. Lately she'd been drinking much more than usual and he worried about her mixing alcohol with the pills she medicated herself with.

Her lips pulled down at the corners, “Oh, honey...didn't your father—Hey, Sweetheart.” She smiled again when Steve poked his head in. She'd always liked Steve, he was a good friend to Tony and he at least tried to keep Tony out of trouble.

“Hey, Mrs. S.” Steve replied, leaning against the frame of the entrance, “The new chandelier is gorgeous. You've got wonderful taste.”

“Stop sucking up to my Mom,” Tony said, grabbing Steve's arm as he walked past, “We're gonna go do homework.”

He wanted to get Steve away before she passed out for the afternoon, not that Steve was oblivious to what was happening. He'd spent nearly every day of his life with Tony, so he'd come to know about the Stark problems. Most of them anyway.

“You meet that new kid, yet?” Steve asked as they climbed the marble stairs.

“Am I really expected to notice every time someone new shows up?” Tony scoffed as an answer, “I'm far too self-absorbed for that sort of nonsense.”

Steve sighed and nodded in agreement, “That's true. I was just wondering because he's in my English class and I haven't heard him say a word yet.”

“So?” Tony shrugged, giving Steve a strange look as they entered his room.

Steve shrugged in return, flopping onto his usual spot on Tony's large bed, “I dunno, it's just strange how shy he is. Like seriously, hasn't said a word so far.”

Tony raised an eyebrow at Steve, “As I said...so?”

Steve sighed and gave up on the subject, letting his head drop back on the bed. Tony's bed never actually smelled like him, it was like he had the sheets cleaned every day. He could hear Tony moving about the large room, pulling things out of drawers and throwing them on the ground, just making a general mess as usual.

“Are you going to come to the game on friday?” Steve asked, rolling onto his stomach to watch Tony move around the room.

“Of course, Darling, how in the world could you play soccer without my validation to see you through.” Tony answered, giving up his search and tumbling onto the mattress next to Steve.

“Validation?” Steve laughed, giving Tony a good shove towards the other end of the bed, “Oh yeah, your approval is what gets me through the day.”

“I know.” Tony nodded, crawling over Steve like a cat. Tony had always been comfortable with invading Steve's space ever since they were little, Tony had introduced himself by coming over to Steve during naptime and draping himself over the other.

“You gonna find me an after party if I go watch you kick a ball around?” Tony asked as he reached over the side of the bed, he slipped for a second so Steve looped an arm around Tony's hip to steady him. Tony pulled himself back up with a half full bottle of gin, he offered Steve a drink before taking one for himself. He settled himself down, resting his head on the other boy's large chest.

“What's the matter?” Steve asked, reaching down to touch Tony's hair, giving a soft tug when Tony didn't answer.

“I don't want to talk about it,” Tony answered, not bothering to come up with an excuse because he knew Steve would see through it anyway. He rolled onto his stomach, sliding his arms over Steve's chest so he could sprawl out over him, “Let's just snuggle, okay? I don't want to talk about anything, I just want to be quiet for a while.”

Steve nodded, wrapping an arm around Tony's shoulder. Tony had always been weird so Steve knew when he wasn't going to get anything out of him. And apparently this was one of those times, so he just stayed silent and let Tony have his quiet. Tony breathed deeply, closing his eyes and turning his face into other. He reached his arm behind him to retrieve the forgotten bottle, lifting the neck to take a drink.

“Steve?”

“Silence over?” He asked in reply.

“What would I have to do or say to make you hate me?

“I hate you not matter what, so you don't have to do a thing.”

“I'm serious,” Tony sighed, pulling himself up into sitting position, tucking his legs under him, “how awful would I have to be for you to hate me?”

Steve frowned up at Tony's back, “What is going on with you?”

Tony didn't answer because he heard the knock before Steve did, he recognized the sound of his father's footsteps. He quickly returned the bottle back to it's spot under the bed and Steve sat upright.

Howard opened the door and glanced at Steve before he spoke, “May I have a word, Anthony?”

Tony slid from the bed and sluggishly followed his father out into the hall.

“Was I not clear this morning?”

“You said I couldn't go anywhere tonight, you didn't say anything about having someone over.” Tony answered with a shrug, crossing his arms over his chest as he leaned himself against the wall.

Howard sighed, looking Tony up and down, “Tell him to leave, it's a school night.”

Tony rolled his eyes, “That's not even-”

“Tell him to leave.” His father interrupted, his voice lowering in pitch and rising in annoyance,“And eat something, you're getting too thin.” He said with a quick glance down at Tony's form.

His father turned and started down the hall, the conversation was obviously over. Tony sighed and turned back to his own door, sure that Steve had heard and was already grabbing his bag. He didn't want Steve to leave, he didn't want to be left alone in the house.

“My Dad's being an asshole

“I figured,” Steve shrugged as he stood, reaching down for his bag, “So no run, then?

“Most likely not,” Tony shook his head, running a hand through his hair, “sorry.”

“I get it. Call me later?”

“Of course,” Tony smiled in reply.

 

 

Bruce had always been a shy person, he liked to keep to himself and he didn't didn't talk very much, that's how he had always been. He didn't really care if it made people feel uncomfortable because he really wasn't that interested in any of them. Well, until Betty showed up.

His books had been knocked out of his hands and just as he was reaching down to scoop the books up, her hands appeared. She cradled the book in her hands like she was holding a delicate animal, her dark eyelashes flashing open as she looked up at him. Her pink lips that pouted into the shape of a ship curled up in a smile, her bright blue eyes startled him with their clear intentional stare.

“Guys can be such dicks,” She smiled with a shake of her head as she handed the book back to him, “no offense.”

Bruce shook his head, opening his lips to say something in reply. Anything. But no words came, his throat was too dry and his tongue was suddenly too large for his mouth. All he could do is stare and hope she could read minds.

“I'm Betty, by the way.” She said with a smile, obviously smiling at the dumb look on his face.

Bruce just closed his mouth instead of answering, he didn't know what to say and he'd probably just botch anything if he could think. He knew he should say his name, thank her in some way, prove that he wasn't a complete idiot.

She touched her hair, looking a little concerned but not entirely freaked out like anyone else would, “Well, you just let me know if anyone else gives you a hard time,” She smiled as she began to turn away, “See you around.”

And then she was gone, leaving him standing in the middle of the hall, clutching his books to his chest. He was suddenly very aware of his face, reaching up and touching his cheek. He stumbled into a bathroom, brushing his fingers near his eye. The bruise wasn't exactly visible but he still felt the need to pull out the cover up to touch up. He'd gotten so obsessive about covering up his bruises since a teacher at the last school noticed. He didn't hear someone else come in, but out of the corner of his eye he saw a person.

He froze, fear flooding through him at the look on Tony's face. Tony looked him up and down for a moment then strode forward, “God, you're worse at that than I am.”

Bruce didn't understand any of what was just said. He stared back at Tony as he turned toward the mirror to look at himself. Tony glanced back at Bruce, smirking at the look on his face, “Wipe the stupid look off your face and keep applying the product. You know, liquid based is the best to hide Daddy bruises, personal experience talking.”

Tony had no idea why he said that, why he just told this perfect stranger his secret. This quiet kid looked absolutely horrified that he was even being spoken to.

Bruce opened his mouth to say something, but once again the words wouldn't come. He wanted to deny it, he wanted to ask how Tony could tell. He looked down at the ground, willing himself to say anything. Tony turned to him, leaning against the sink slightly, “Don't worry, Chatty Cathy, I'm not going to tell anyone. And my guess is neither are you, since you don't seem to do much talking.”

Bruce had managed to get through two weeks at his new school without anyone noticing him. But on that fifteenth day a pretty girl and Tony Stark took an interest in him, which seemed to be equivalent to the entire student body staring at him

 

 

“So, why exactly have you decided to adopt the mute?” Steve asked, bent over as he laced up his sneakers.

Tony shrugged as he grabbed hold of his toes to stretch his thigh, “I feel sorry for him.”

“Well, probably should make sure people want to be saved before you go saving them.”

“What's that suppose to mean?” Tony scowled as Steve straightened.

Steve rolled his eyes at the look Tony gave him, “You have a way of trying to collect people. As if you didn't know.”

Tony switched legs as he answered, “Hey, if it wasn't for that collecting you would've been completely friendless in kindergarden. And in my opinion, that is what sparked your popularity.”

“Riiighhtt, Tony Stark is the sun and stars of the world,” Steve laughed, giving Tony's butt a slap, making him lose his balance, “And so graceful. Come on, ballerina, let's run. I've got geometry to do later.”

They'd been running together for years, Steve's long legs obviously making him faster but Tony kept up. Tony had always refused to join any team sports, despite the constant whining on Steve's end that'd he'd be useful on the soccer team. Tony liked running with Steve because he liked doing anything with Steve, but he really didn't care for running all that much. His father made him work with a trainer three times a week to make sure he stayed in shape so it wasn't exactly fun. But the days they ran together, Steve managed to make it a fun experience.

“I hated you when I first met you, by the way” Steve said as they started jogging along the sidewalk. The suburbs where they'd grown up were a great place to run, but there were way too many neighbors that always wanted to stop them to talk.

“Yeah right, everyone loves me.” Tony rolled his eyes dramatically, even though Steve wasn't looking at him, “You haven't done the geometry yet? Jesus, get on that, it's not like it's hard.”

“Not all of us are closet geniuses.” Steve answered, picking up his pace slightly, making Tony work a little harder to keep up.

“You're not a closet what?” Tony grinned, aiming a kick towards Steve, sacrificing speed for the act.

“Shut up and pick up the pace, loser.”

“I'm the loser?!” Tony laughed, chasing after the other, “You can't even complete a stupid math paper!”

As they rounded on their block again, they saw their fathers speaking with one another on the Stark's pristine lawn. Tony made a noise when his father called him over, “Anthony, come here.”

“I can't stop without a cool down, Dad.” He answered as they passed by.

Howard answered calmly but loud enough so that Tony could hear, “Then jog in place.” Tony made another noise and nodded Steve away as he turned himself around to jog over, “Now explain to Joe why you don't do team sports. He just doesn't seem to like my answers.”

Tony rolled his eyes, looking over his shoulder to where Steve continued to jog around the block for the second time, “Dad-”

“Anthony.”

“Ugh..you don't train a race horse with others because you don't want it to learn bad habits.”

Howard smiled and turned back to Joe with a nod, “While Steve is better than him and makes him work harder.”

Joe Rogers looked over at Tony with a look of something like sympathy, “It's not like he's training for the Olympics, Howard.”

“Bad habits are bad habits.” Howard replied, turning back to Tony who was still jogging in place, “We're done. Go catch up to him.”

 

 

“Why do you have to talk about me like that in front of people?” Tony mumbled, pulling off his sneakers and letting them drop on the floor.

His father glanced over his shoulder, “Did I upset you somehow, Anthony?”

“Joe Rogers already thinks I'm an idiot.” Tony mumbled, sniffing his shirt and wincing at the sweat smell as they walked down the hall,“Thinks I run into walls with all the bruises I have.”

“Well then maybe you should stop going over there so much,” Howard nodded at Maria as they entered the living room, “if it's such a problem.”

Tony sucked in his breath, crossing his arms over his chest, “Maybe you should stop giving me bruises I have to explain.”

His mother looked up suddenly, her eyes wide as Howard glared at Tony, “Is that what you think?”

“Howard.” Maria said meekly, slowly rising from her seat.

He pointed a finger at her as he continued to stare at Tony, “Is it, Anthony? Are you embarrassed of those bruises?”

Tony let his arms fall to his sides as his father walked forward. He knew he shouldn't have said anything, his father had a bad temper but he knew it could be avoided if he'd just keep his mouth shut. Howard strode forward and slapped Tony hard across the face with the back of his hand, hard enough to send Tony flying backward, “I'm the one who should be embarrassed.”

“Howard.” Maria repeated, her voice hitting a shrill note as Tony hit the wall.

“You bring all of this on yourself with that mouth of yours.” Howard snapped, grabbing the front of Tony's shirt to yank him forward and shake him, “If you would just-”

“I do everything you ask!” Tony shouted back at him, “I do everything for you. What do you have to complain about?!”

Another back handed hit sent Tony back to the wall, “Howard!” Maria exclaimed, holding her hands to her chest, “Please.”

Tony scooted out of the room when his father turned away to look over at his mother. He touched his ear, willing the ringing to stop as he stomped past Jarvis and up the stairs to his own room. He was already planning his escape out the window to Steve's as he pulled off his shirt and angrily threw it on the ground. He hated the way his mother would just stand there staring at them, wringing her hands while Tony got hit. He was sure she was already opening another bottle of wine.

He was starting to shrug out of his running shorts when he heard his father's footsteps. He rushed into his bathroom and slammed the door behind him, leaning against the door and shutting his eyes. He was still too mad for this.

From the other side of the door he heard his father sigh, “Tony...Tony come out.”

“So you can finish? No thanks.” Tony muttered, crossing his arms over his chest and planting his feet.

“I'm sorry, Baby. I didn't mean-”

“Well you did.” Tony interrupted, stomping his foot against the tile, “I'm sick of it.”

“It shouldn't have happened at all. I'm sorry, please open the door.”

Tony let his head thump against the door, hating the way his father's voice could change so drastically, he hated how sorry he sounded and he hated that he knew himself well enough to know that he would open the door.

“Baby, please.”

Tony closed his eyes for a moment, willing himself to stay put. He didn't want this. But he turned around and unlocked the door anyway. He sighed, rolling his eyes like he was bored with the whole situation, “I need to take a shower, Dad.”

Howard reached forward, taking Tony's chin in his hand so he could examine his red face, “I'm sorry, Tony. You're not just a racehorse to me.”

“I smell like a racehorse, I need to shower.” Tony answered, shifting from one foot to the other. His father let the hand that had been holding his face slide down Tony's bare chest to his stomach.

“Well then let's go clean you up.” He said softly, leaning down to kiss Tony's neck. Tony tilted his head away slightly, sighing while his father's hands roamed over him, “Maybe get a little dirty first.”

Tony rolled his eyes as he turned around to reenter the bathroom, releasing a typical teenage sigh with his father following close behind, “You're so lame."

 

Chapter Text

 

“Hey, Tony, I didn't know you were coming over.” Sara Rogers beamed when they came through the kitchen.

“Here to see your pretty face,” He grinned back at her, leaning over the counter as he kneeled on his usual stool.

“Are you staying for dinner?”

Tony nodded, bumping against Steve as he sat next to him at the counter, “Of course.”

Steve made a face at his phone, “So, Rick O'Brian keeps texting me and asking about you.”

Tony made a similar face, “No thank you.”

“Will you please tell your many suitors that I am not an answering machine?”

“Suitors my ass.” Tony answered, rolling his eyes.

“Language.” Steve's mother scolded, twisting to point her spoon at him.

“Sorry, Mom.”

“He wants to know if...uh never mind...” Steve mumbled and just showed Tony the text instead of voicing the dirty comment aloud so his mother could hear.

Tony laughed and nudged Steve, “I think he's texting you because he's secretly into you.”

“Um, no?” Steve frowned.

“Why else would he be sending such a filthy, filthy text?” Tony giggled.

Steve's mother turned around and crossed her arms over her chest, “Steve, you know if you were gay we wouldn't-”

“MOM!” Steve exclaimed, scowling across the kitchen at her while Tony nearly fell off his stool with laughter.

“Oh my god,” Tony whispered, not even trying to hide his grin, “I love your Mom.”

“I'm not gay, Mom.” Steve hissed as she raised her palms up in defense.

“I'm only saying if..”

“We'll all still love you.” Tony nodded, leaning his head against Steve's shoulder as he smirked up at him, “This is a safe environment.”

“Shut up.” Steve said, shoving Tony off of him. He stood and grabbed the back of Tony's shirt to yank him off the stool, “We're going to go do homework, Mom. No gay things happening.”

“I think you two would make a fine couple even if you did.” She called after them, making Tony squeal with laughter down the hall.

“So, Tony's here?” Joe chuckled, coming into the kitchen from the other hall.

“How could you guess?” Sara smiled over he shoulder as she continued to work on dinner, “Usually can hear him before you see him, right?”

Her husband nodded while she went back to cooking, they'd all gotten very use to Tony being around the house. When they were little, Steve and Tony would sneak to each other's houses when they were told no. So as they grew up, the two families just let it happen and Tony had developed his own place in the Roger's house.

“Talked with Howard for a little bit.” Joe muttered as he sat down at the table with the paper, “He's pretty tough on that kid.”

“Mm.”

“I mean, I see why. You'd have to be, he could get out of control really fast.”

Sara sighed as she turned to pull something from the fridge, “I think he can be too tough on him sometimes. It's probably why he's here so much.”

“Not our business how they raise their son.” Joe shrugged. He worked in law enforcement and recognized the signs, but the Stark's were respectable people and they were family friends so he didn't think it would ever get too far. She sighed again and shook her head while he scanned the paper, “But he is working him too hard, the kid compared himself to a racehorse.”

“A what?”

“It's just strange, Tony doesn't even compete or play any team sports. I understand health but..”

Sara clicked her tongue against her teeth as she pulled out ingredients, “Ugh, a racehorse? Joseph, honestly sometimes I want to go over there and-”

“It's none of our business.” He repeated, “Howard and Maria have their own way of parenting.”

She sighed and shook her head, “I know, I just feel for that boy.”

“He has a place to escape to here, when he needs it, Sara. Every family has their problems."

 

 

Upstairs Tony flopped onto Steve's bed, “I think she's right, you know.”

“What?” Steve asked, pulling his closet door open.

“I think we'd make a great couple.” Tony grinned, resting his arms behind his head.

Steve made a noise and rolled his eyes, “Oh sure.”

“You with your big shoulders and me with my adorableness. People would love us.”

“You're too much of a diva for a relationship.” He answered while Tony crawled across the bed, dropping his feet to the ground so he could skip over. He pushed Steve out of the way and started rummaging through the closet for him, “And I'm no-”

“I was just kidding, Bro, calm down.” Tony waved his hand as he slid deeper into the closet, pulling out things and thrusting them at the other, “Why am I picking out outfits?”

Steve frowned in confusion,“We're going out tonight, aren't we?”

“Oh, no.” Tony shook his head, taking the clothes back and literally throwing them back in the closet, “I just want to stay. Just us. It's never just us.”

Steve laughed and grabbed Tony's hand, “It's always just us, Tony.”

Tony smiled and nodded, tugging Steve back to the bed, “Let's just have a kung fu marathon or something.”

“So by “or something” you mean let's have a kung fu marathon?”

“Listen, Babe, I left the conversation open.” Tony chuckled as he fell back onto the bed.

“Alright if we're staying in, we should hit the store and stock up.”

Tony turned his face to make a face at him, “You want me to move? Stevie, I just ran-”

“Aw come on, you're tired after that?” Steve mocked, poking Tony in the side, “When did you get so wimpy?”

“Wimpy?!” Tony cried out, turning so he could send a kick at Steve. Steve grabbed Tony's leg and yanked him across the bed.

“Yeah, wimpy!” He laughed as he dragged Tony over to the edge and let him dangle. Tony cried out, whining to be released. He kicked out but Steve had all his weight on Tony's waist so his legs were just kicking out at the air. Tony suddenly went slack, glaring up at Steve through slits for eyes.

“I think your Mom had a point, look at you all over me.”

“What?” Steve frowned in confusion, almost letting Tony go. In this moment of confusion for Steve, Tony wrapped his arms around Steve's neck and kicked them backwards over the bed, sacrificing himself to get the upper hand. Steve cried out as they fell, Tony landing on top of him, both of them wincing at the impact of the fall.

“Nice surprise attack.” Steve grumbled, hooking his hand under Tony's knee and throwing him off, “Listen, Asshole-”

“Boys, dinner's ready.” Steve's mother called from downstairs.

They both exchanged looks before they scrambled up and down the hall, shoving each other as they clambered down the stairs, tripping over one another.

“Hey! Calm down.” Joe yelled as they scooted into the kitchen, giggling as they fell over each other.

“Psh, wimpy.” Tony sneered, bumping Steve with his elbow.

“You are wimpy. And a brat.”

“Sarrraa,” Tony whined, “Steve's calling me names.”

“Sit down, boys.”

 

 

“Since when do you not eat everything on a plate?” Steve asked as they climbed back up the stairs.

“Uh, not hungry? Is that a big deal?”

He shrugged in response, “Just weird. Wanted to make sure you're feeling okay.”

Tony almost snapped back at Steve for butting in, but he kept his mouth shut, not wanting to start something, “I'm fine.”

He slid face down onto Steve's bed like a cat, stretching his arms out so he was entirely sprawled out, “How come no one's used the name “orgasmic organic” for a natural foods chain yet? I mean, if I saw a store called-”

Of course you'd go in.”

“I'd buy everything they had!” Tony laughed, aiming a pretend kick at Steve as he walked by. He rolled onto his back, letting his head fall over the edge of the bed, “Sounds like good name to me. Lie down with me.”

“I will.” Steve answered, waving his hand as he walked across the room, pulling his shirt over his head. Tony lifted his head slightly, a small smile pulling at the corner of his lips. Tony always had an appreciation for Steve's shoulders, “Let me guess, you didn't bring a change of clothes, right?”

“Affirmative.” Tony nodded simply.

Steve nodded his head and pulled open a drawer to get them both something to wear for the night. Tony barely ever remembered to pack clothes, he just left with what was on his back, Steve knew it was because Tony usually ran over in a hurry, running away from something. The whole Rogers family knew there was a problem at the Stark house, they each thought they had a piece of the puzzle but none of them understood the whole story.

Steve tossed Tony a pair of black sweatpants, the smallest pair he owned that still hung loosely around Tony's hips. Tony wriggled out of his jeans while still on the bed, looking ridiculously close to a weasel. Tony crawled across the bed so he could jump down and cross the room to Steve's stack of dvds.

“So did we decide on kung fu or was that just me?” Tony asked, the pants hanging particularly low on Tony's waist.

“Are you losing weight?” Steve asked, staring a little too long at Tony's hip bones. Tony looked up and then down at himself, yanking the pants up, only to have them fall right back, “Running too much and not eating enough? That's a stupid way to train.”

“It's not my fault I have to run so much.” Tony scowled over his shoulder at Steve, “And stop yanking my chain about food. Let your mom be the mother hen.”

“Whatever.” Steve sighed, frowning as Tony turned away. He wished he could fix whatever was going on with his friend, it always seemed like there was something wrong with Tony. He wished he could just keep him here forever, keep him away from the problems at home. He felt like it was his job to keep Tony happy. Growing up together he'd watched Tony go through multiple break downs, things that he never let anyone else see. Tony would get panic attacks during school or parties but always hide it until he could pull Steve away to a quiet spot where no one would see. So Steve felt it was his job to protect Tony from whatever was going on inside his head.

Steve walked over and looped his arms around Tony's middle, twirling him around before tossing him over toward the bed. Tony yelled when he almost bounced off the mattress, “HEY! I almost just died, Asshole!”

“Shut up, you're fine.” Steve turned the tv on and flopped on the bed next to the other. He easily brushed off Tony's attempt at a swing, grabbing his arm and yanking him close to his chest, wrapping his arms around Tony so he couldn't move. Tony whined but relaxed within seconds, resting his head on Steve's shoulder.

“You're such a jerk, you think you can just throw me around and then cuddle-”

“Shut up, you're fine.” Steve repeated, hugging him closer so he couldn't talk as well. Tony made an angry noise but then snuggled closer, letting out a sigh.

“Let's skip school tomorrow and go to the beach.”

“Sounds fun.”

“I'm serious. No, let's drop out and go live in the desert.”

Steve frowned, in confusion, “The desert?”

“Yeah, somewhere warm. Just you and me. I'll work on cars and you can go work...in porn, you'd do well in porn. Gotta get you some sunscreen, though.” Tony nodded, watching the tv without really watching, “Tans are bad man, freckles mean cancer.”

“I don't think-”

“Freckles mean cancer, Steve. I know what I'm talking about.” Tony said sternly.

“And porn?”

Tony shrugged, “You're big and sexy, what other qualifications do you need?”

“Are you saying that's all the qualifications I have?”

“I don't know if I'm qualified to judge your qualifications, considering I haven't met them all.”

“Met them? Are you seriously talking about my genitalia?”
Tony laughed out loud at the incredulous look on Steve's face, “I wasn't but I am now!”

 

 

Chapter Text


Steve woke up when Tony bounced off the bed, stepping over him in the process. Steve groaned and pushed himself up onto his elbows, his eyes still squeezed shut.

“Sorry, Sleeping Cutie,” Tony answered, shrugging out of Steve's sweatpants so he could wiggle into his own, “I left my school stuff at home.”

“I'm sure you're gonna blame me for that,” Steve mumbled as he rolled over, hugging his pillow close again.

“And thanks for reminding me of that by the way, A-hole.” Tony said over Steve's grumble, tripping over his pants.

“You want a ride to school?” Steve sighed, pushing himself up from the warm bed, he knew he wasn't going to be able to get back to sleep now, especially with the noise Tony was making as he fell over himself. He could be so graceful one day and so clumsy the next, it was amazing how sudden the change could be.

Tony shot him a weird look, “Uh, yeah? You think I'm gonna suddenly start walking by myself? Wake up, Chief.”

“Okay.” Steve nodded, resting his face on his palm as he let his feet touch the ground.

“Hey,” Tony said, throwing a hat at him, “Stay awake.”

“I am, I am.”

Tony rolled his eyes as he exited the room, he tried to sneak by the kitchen without being noticed but failed, “Aren't you two riding in together?” Paul asked, making Tony stop in his tracks.

“I'll be back, I forgot to bring my stuff for class.”

Joe nodded and went back to what he was doing, giving Tony his que to continue. He jogged down the street, his muscles disagreeing as soon as he started, but he didn't want to be there long. He was pretty sure his father wouldn't be around, but he didn't want to listen to his mother apologize for the day before. He hated when she'd apologize for Howard's anger.

When he got home he ran up the stairs as quietly as possible, passing by Jarvis with a quick hello.

“Mrs. Stark is still asleep, sir.” The butler said simply as Tony trotted down the hall. Tony slowed down at that and turned around so he could go the other way down the hall. He knocked on her door before he entered, peering into the dark room for anything odd.

She was, as Jarvis had said, asleep but he was pretty sure it was because of the bottle of pills on her night stand. He walked over and picked up the two bottles, examining the instructions, seeing if these two were conflicting or dangerous. After the last pill-mixing incident that had sent her to the hospital, he'd been keeping an eye on what she took.

Tony and Howard had fought long and hard after that had happened, blaming each other for not watching her, for not caring, for not loving her enough, for being the reason she needed the pills. He looked down at her, watching to make sure she was breathing then he started looking for any alcohol she might have swallowed her drugs down with. He found an unopened bottle of vodka in her closet so he slipped it under his arm and stowed it away in his own room, not that she couldn't find more, he was actually counting on her to get up and start drinking right away. But he didn't like alcohol being in the same room where she kept her pills, he wasn't sure if she was just too out of it to know better or if she had actually tried to kill herself. Either way, he didn't want her to have too much easy access.

He grabbed the stuff he needed and headed back to the Rogers home, knowing his mother's problems would be there waiting when he got back. He didn't run back like he had to his own house, he walked slowly, thinking about the day before. He thought about how his mother had just stood there while they fought, he thought about the way his father's voice changed when they were alone, he wondered if his mother had any idea, wondered if that's why she kept herself so medicated and wondered if he should try it himself.

 

 

“Tony Stark, isn't there something you could be doing?” The study hall monitor asked, Steve looked up then looked back at Tony, who's head was down on the table.

“Nope.” He mumbled without moving.

Steve glanced back toward the teacher, smirking slightly at the angry look on her face, “Find something productive to do or I'll send you to the headmaster's office.”

Tony lifted his blue eyes to glare at her, “Glorified babysitter.” He grumbled, shifting his head so just his chin was on the table. He looked down at Steve's sketch of various hands, “Those look nice.” He sighed with a pout.

“Just doodles,” Steve shrugged, resting his cheek on the palm of his hand.

“Still look nice, Dumbass.” Tony made a mocking face back at Steve. Steve was way too good of an artist to hide it, but he did. He sighed again and pulled himself into an upright position, he looked around and made a noise, “This is so boring.”

“Tony Stark, find something to do!”

“OKAY!” He shouted back at her, making the same face he had made at Steve a moment ago, he grabbed Steve's geometry homework, “Here, I found something to do! God, woman takes her job too seriously.”

Steve tried to stifle a laugh as Tony leaned across the table and grabbed a pencil from Steve's bag. Tony started erasing anything Steve had written and started scribbling in his own answers, “You're terrible at this, just give me your homework from now on and I'll do it, correctly.” His voice raising in pitch on the last note.

“Whatever you say, Boss.” Steve nodded, returning to his drawing. When a new batch of students came into the study hall, Tony caught sight of Bruce Banner and waved him over. Bruce looked nervous and relieved all at once, probably relieved to have somewhere to sit but nervous that it was with Tony Stark. Steve greeted him with a nod as the quiet boy sat down with them.

“Whoa, calm down, Bruce.” Tony whispered, leaning backward, “You're gonna get us kicked out with all that noise.”

Steve couldn't help but chuckle at the look on Bruce's face, he didn't seem to understand Tony yet and always looked so concerned whenever he'd start talking. Steve didn't understand Tony's fascination with the kid, he thought maybe it was because he would never steal Tony's spotlight. Steve didn't get it, but he wasn't about to be rude to the quiet newbie.

“You have any plans, Bruce? We're going out to the lake tonight with a bunch of people.” Steve asked, tapping the end of his pencil on his notebook.

Bruce looked shocked that Steve was speaking to him let alone inviting him along, “Uhh...” He shook his head in replace of a real response.

Tony raised an eyebrow and let out a laugh, “Is that a no to the question or no to the invite, Brucy?”

Bruce looked down at his lap, trying to hide his shaking hands under the table, “Um, question.” He whispered, when he'd opened his mouth he was so sure his voice was going to be louder but it everything just came out as a whisper now.

Tony and Steve exchanged a look, “Well,” Steve began, “you're welcome to come, help you meet some other people.”

“Oh yeah, he certainly looks like a big rave fan.” Tony nodded.

“It's not a rave.” Steve responded, rolling his eyes at the other.

“Obviously,” Tony made a face, “it's at a lake.”

Steve shook his head and retrieved his homework from Tony's side of the table, “Whatever, thanks for messing up my homework.” He said as he stood to go to his next class.

“Messed it up? I fixed it for you!” Tony called after him, earning another angry look from the study hall monitor, “What? You think I'm going to disturb somebody's nap? Chill out.”

“Tony-”

“I am being productive! I'm learning sign language from Bruce!” Bruce shrank away at being mentioned in the argument.

 

 

Bruce had spent the rest of the period listening to Tony ramble. Most people got awkward when Bruce didn't respond, but Tony seemed to enjoy it and saw it as an invitation to carry on. And even though he didn't understand it, Bruce appreciated it, even if his new friend was sort of manic. He was pretty sure Tony had befriended him because he didn't really talk, he must like the sound of his own voice, he'd thought when they'd first met. But he'd been figuring Tony out bit by bit, unlike Bruce, Tony couldn't stand bottling in his secrets. Bruce was perfectly content with the world being oblivious to his problems, but Tony seemed to need the outlet.

And he even helped Bruce keep his own secret, pulling Bruce's sleeve down when it rolled up and threatened to show off his bruises, he'd warn Bruce whenever he missed a bruise on his face and he never asked Bruce to elaborate what went on at home. When he finally did take up their offer to join them at a party, it was because he wanted out of the house but also because he was starting to enjoy having friends, even though Tony was really the only one who really spoke to him. All Tony's other friends would try to talk for a few minutes then give up while Tony would have whole conversations without Bruce ever saying a word.

Tony'd been in a foul mood since they arrived, Steve stroking his ego to keep them from fighting about it, “He gets like that sometimes.” Steve explained to Bruce, his hand lightly touching the small of Tony's back, “Don't always like the crowds, do ya, Boss?”

“Shut up,” Tony smirked, stopping so he could bump into Steve, “So Brucy, you are welcome to let out that noise monster you're hiding, but don't get too loud, we still wanna hear the music.”

A smirk pulled at Bruce's mouth whenever Tony joked about his silence, for some reason it was okay coming from Tony. Not like he could've stopped it if it wasn't.

“Something happen today?” Steve asked quietly.

“I'm fine, Steve.” Tony groaned. He knew he was acting like a jerk, but he hadn't eaten enough today and he was just getting irritated too easily. He looked over his shoulder at Bruce, hands in his pockets as he followed after them. No one ever seemed to ask Bruce what was wrong, even though it was so painfully obvious, to Tony anyway.

People were already jumping in the water and dancing around a fire, way too loud and too sloppy. Bruce didn't drink at all but as usual, no one seemed to care enough about him to notice. Steve suggested something light just to take the edge off but didn't push it. Bruce never touched alcohol, seeing it do too much damage to his father at home. Tony was drunk within a couple of drinks, not having had food, and it seemed to help his mood. Tony draped himself over Steve in a happy haze, sticking to him like a girlfriend would. Bruce was still confused about what their exact relationship was, since Tony was always clinging to Steve.

“Bruce! Hi.” A voice came from his left, to be followed by the sight of Betty Ross. His eyes widened and he wanted to run away. What did she want? “I didn't know you came to these.”

She'd waved to him in the halls a handful of times since their first meeting and it put him in a panic every time.

“Uh..yeah.” He nodded, shoving his hands back in his pockets as an attempt to hide some part of himself.

“You didn't tell me you had a girlfriend, Loudmouth.” Tony laughed, basically in Steve's lap at this point.

Bruce's face flushed as he shook his head furiously and Betty chuckled lightly, “And I see you've acquired your own, Steve.”

Tony started laughing as he turned to Steve, “She's sassy! Told you we'd make a good couple. Brucy, you should keep this one, she'll be fun.”

She shook her head at Tony and turned back to Bruce, with a secretive smile she whispered, “Come dance with me sometime tonight.”

He stared at her as she walked away, she absolutely terrified him and he had no idea why. Tony whispered and giggled with Steve over the look on Bruce's dumbstruck face, “Bruce, calm down, she just want's to dance. You'll live.”

“I....” Bruce shook his head repeatedly, “I can't..”

“Sure you can.” Tony nodded, his voice going up in pitch, “You just hold her hand and sway, they love that crap.”

Steve stood, dumping Tony from his lap at the same time, “I'm gonna go see Chris.”

“Thank you for the play-by-play.” Tony nodded in mock seriousness as he leaned back in the seat. He watched Steve walk away and sighed. He hated being without Steve at these kinds of things, he felt like a lost child without him around. He turned back to Bruce, his head swinging too fast and making him dizzy, he blinked a few times and focused on Bruce.

“So is there a reason you don't drink?” Tony asked, resting his cheek on his palm, suddenly looking very bored.

Bruce nodded and shifted his gaze. Tony made an annoyed noise at Bruce's lack of answer, “Let me guess, Daddy drinks and that's when you get the special bonding time?”

Bruce frowned over at him, Tony had said it in such a brazen tone. Tony stared back at him with a similar frown, “Why doesn't anyone ever ask you what's wrong? You're so obvious, why don't they ask?”

Bruce shook his head, confused as to what Tony meant. Tony rolled his eyes and let his head fall back on his neck, “How do you get away with it? I put on a show everyday and people still notice. You don't even fucking talk, big fucking red light in my opinion!” He lifted blue eyes back to the other, the shadows from the fire making him look angrier than he was, “People would notice if I stopped talking. I couldn't get away with that. People leave you alone and you don't even hide it that well.”

“No one cares.” Bruce said softly, barely above a whisper, shrugging slightly as his arms hugged around himself.

Tony nodded leaning forward again, “That's right, no one cares. Well, Bruce, I'd rather that. I've got a little too much caring going on at home.” He giggled slightly at the confused look on Bruce's face so he leaned forward again, “Yeah, too much love happening at the Stark house, Brucy. Daddy doesn't just hit me, he hits me and then he comes into my room at night to make up for it.

It takes Bruce a moment to understand, but then he sucks in his breath and leans back. Tony looks back at him, watching for his reaction, looking sort of pleased. Bruce clenched his hands into fists so they wouldn't start shaking. He didn't know what to do, he didn't know if he was suppose to say something, he didn't know why Tony had told him.

Tony laughed at the expression on Bruce's face, “Yeah, you thought your home life was bad. Not that I'm trying to one-up you.” He let his head lean over the top of the chair, his eyes staring up at the dark night sky, “Yeah, no one knows....but you now, I guess. But you're not going to tell,” He lifted his head again to look over at the other, “because you don't talk.” He said the words slowly and stared straight into Bruce's nervous eyes.

Bruce sucked in his breath again, his heartbeat bouncing in his ears with the loud music. He knew he should say something but he knew Tony wasn't looking for an answer. His eyes were daring Bruce to say something, say a word and ruin it all, take them both down together. Tony stood slowly, still staring at Bruce, locking their eyes together. He moved over, moving behind Bruce so he could bend down and speak right into his ear, “Worst part is I like it.”

Bruce dug his fingernails into his palms as Tony whispered into his ear, his breath warm on Bruce's neck, “I hate it but I like it, I know that's fucked up but I can't really help it can I?” His tone was so angry, “He comes into my room and fucks me while my mom is passed out. Been doing it for years, always after we fight, he hates leaving things on a bad note with us. Like that makes up for it...” He chuckled slightly as he stood, messing up Bruce's hair before he walked away. He walked away calmly, passing through drunk people dancing, remaining calm as he was bumped into and had to push his way through to get to Steve. His mind racing as he nonchalantly walked up to him, his mind was suddenly very sober and very aware of what he'd just done. His heartbeat was pounding in his head as he grabbed Steve's hand and pulled him away. Steve smiled when he first saw Tony but then it turned to confusion when he was dragged away, they moved away from the crowd, out towards the cars. Once they wouldn't be seen, Tony dropped down to the ground, making a noise like a hurt animal. He covered his hands over his ears, his fingernails digging at the back of his neck. His thoughts weren't even clear anymore, he couldn't even think about what had set him off. All he knew was that the world was ending, his lungs had stopped working and now he was going to die.

“Shit,” Steve muttered, dropping down to pull Tony back into a standing position, “You were fine when I left you..”

Tony's breath came out in sharp, labored gulps, his right hand clutching at his chest. His eyes watered up with the pain breathing caused, “Feels....like a...fucking train!” He gasped, leaning forward, holding himself up by gripping the car they stood behind.

“Hey,” Steve said calmly, grabbing Tony's face between his hands, leaning down so he was on Tony's level, “In a couple of minutes it'll be over. You're in control of this.”

“No..I'm fucking not!” Tony tried to yell, his legs giving out slightly so Steve had to grab a hold of him, “I...can't-”

“You're going to be okay. Breathe through it,” Steve instructed, leveling his own breathing to match the tempo Tony had to meet, his fingers curling around the back of Tony's head, “In.......and out.......and in....one, two, three, four.”

“Agh.” Tony groaned, leaning into Steve as he panted, “Stop your stupid counting.”

Steve let go of his hold just enough so Tony could rest his head against his shoulder, “What set it off?”

Tony shook his head against Steve's chest. A new batch of anxiety began to rise in his stomach as his mind cleared enough to think about it. Bruce knew. He had told Bruce. He had told him everything. Willingly told everything he had to keep secret. Steve noticed Tony's breathing changing again and he wrapped his arms around him, “Stay with me. No one's ever died of a panic attack and you know it. Stay here.”

A sudden thought occurred to Tony: What if Bruce told? What if Bruce told Steve?

 

Chapter Text


Tony knocked lightly on the wall before he crossed his arms over his chest and leaned against the doorframe to his father's office. Howard looked up from his work, removing his glasses, “You just get in?”

Tony let his head fall forward and nodded, “Yup. Went out with people.”

Howard looked Tony up and down, “Who?”

“Just people,” Tony sighed, rolling his eyes and turning to walk away.

“Come back here.” Howard said, his voice flat, “Who were you with?”

“Steve and friends from school.” Tony shrugged, crossing his arms again as he turned himself back around, “I didn't do anything. Just a boring get together.”

“Mm.” Howard looked back down at his work for a moment, “I'm sure, you smell like your mother.”

Tony made an angry noise and turned on his heel and walked away down the hall. He climbed the stairs and went to his mother's room. He knocked before he went in, poking his head around the door, “Mom?”

Maria sat up, smiling at him she reached up her arms, “Hi Sweetie, come sit with me.”

He folded into her arms, leaning his head against her shoulder. She frowned slightly and tilted her head so she could see him better, “Are you alright, Honey? You two didn't fight did you?”

He shook his head as he sat up, “No, I just missed you.”

She made a noise, “You saw me this morning.”

“Not really,” He shrugged, “You weren't really-”

“Tony,” She sighed, reaching to her nightstand and lifting the glass to her lips, “Your father and I had a rough night.”

Tony sighed back at her, “Yeah, I have no idea what that's like.”

“Honey.” She frowned as he stood, “Of course I know what you-”
“No you don't.” He grumbled as he started towards the door, “You don't know because you're always checking out whenever it gets too bad.”

He went to his own room, wishing he'd eaten something that day, drinking was a stupid idea on an empty stomach. He let himself fall backward onto the bed, his mind finally allowing him to think about what had happened. He covered his arm over his eyes, whining in embarrassment. He vowed never to drink again in the same moment he decided he was never going to be sober again. He didn't know what to do with himself. Bruce wouldn't talk, he knew that, but just the fact that someone knew.. This wasn't even a problem he could tell Steve about.

He sat up at the familiar sound of his father's knock on the door. He tugged on his shirt as Howard entered, locking the door behind him. Tony was relieved to see he wasn't angry, he actually looked concerned. He came in and kneeled in front of Tony, reaching up and touching Tony's face, “You shouldn't argue with your mother.”

Tony shrunk away for a moment, “You heard?”

“I heard you stomping away.” Howard slid his hand around the back of Tony's neck, gently pulling him forward. Tony leaned in and let Howard kiss him, whining when his hand accidentally brushed against a bruise. Howard pulled away and tilted Tony's head so he could look at his neck, he sighed as Tony stared at the floor, “I'm sorry, Tony.”

He wondered if his father ever used that voice with other people, he wondered if there was ever a time in the day when his voice got that gentle while he was at work. He wondered if his father ever used that gentle voice for his mother anymore.

“You know I don't mean it.” Howard whispered, his hands sliding down to Tony's thighs.

“Mhm.” Tony nodded, looking down at his father.

Howard leaned forward to kiss Tony's jaw, pulling at the hem of Tony's shirt to pull it over his head. He made noise as he looked at him, “You're losing a lot of weight. You need to start eating better.”

“I eat fine,” Tony scowled, shifting his shoulders.

“I will hire a nurse to watch you if you don't.”

Tony frowned at his father, “I'm not an invalid.”

“No, you're not.” Howard shook his head as he pulled Tony into a standing position to remove the rest of their clothes. He slid back onto the bed, letting his eyes glaze over. History had taught Tony to let his mind blur at this point, it was better to just let it happen than argue or think too deeply on it. He did his best not to think about his Mother on the other side of the house, tried not to think about what it was like before any of this, tried not to think.

They both froze at the sound of footsteps, his father's hand reaching up to cover his mouth, not that Tony would've made a sound in the first place. No one else in the house knew and they both wanted to keep it that way. He tried to let his mind wander, thinking about tomorrow, how he'd spend the day with Steve. And then, without meaning to whatsoever, he started to imagine Steve, imagined Steve above him. The thought shocked him, he thought Steve was gorgeous but he'd never thought of his friend like that, to suddenly be imagining sex with him....It was strange but he let himself imagine, let his thoughts go to this weird place that was better than the situation he was in now.

He saw Steve's powerful shoulders rolling back as he leaned in, his face coming down to Tony's so he could kiss him. Tony opened his eyes, snapping back into reality, surprised by how turned on that little indulgence had made him. And he had no idea what to do with that information.

 

 

“God,” Steve rolled his eyes as Tony lit up his joint, “could you at least wait until my parents are out of the house, Man?”

“Calm down,” Tony said through his inhale, “they're basically out.”

He let out a long breath as his head rolled back on his shoulders, a swirl of smoke escaping his lips as he smiled, “Oh my god I needed this.” He opened his eyes and offered the joint over to Steve who hesitated only for a half a second. It felt like all his bad habits had come from his friendship with Tony. Tony giggled when Steve coughed, passing the joint back over.

“You're not going to get too honest tonight are you?”

“I thought you liked honest Tony.” He laughed as he let himself lean back onto his elbows on the bed, “Fine, I'll keep alllllll my wonderful gossip to myself.” Tony lifted his arm over his head as he rolled onto his stomach. He placed the blunt back between his lips and took a long slow drag, “It's wasted on you anyway.”

“Hey, don't get mean.” Steve scolded, plopping down on the bed, draping his arm over his eyes with a soft hum, “Mm, quality stuff as usual, Boss.”

“Can't let my boy go without.” Tony smiled as he passed the joint back to Steve, “When was the last time we got to do this?”

“Been like a month or something. When you tried to stay here for a week.”

Tony nodded, “Right, right. Had a black eye.”

Steve nodded in agreement, “You said I should give you a second so you could just laugh it off as experimenting with goth make up.”

Tony laughed, his face dropping over the edge of the bed, “I'm funny.”

“Yeah, real funny.”

“Listen,” Tony said seriously as he propped himself up, “you might not find humor in domestic abuse, but I kind of have to. It's a laugh or you'll cry situation, Man.”

“Maybe you should try the crying once in a while,” Steve shrugged, turning his head so he was staring at the ceiling, “maybe you get panic attacks because you bottle it all up. Or maybe you should talk to someone.”

Tony made a loud noise and let himself slide, head first off the bed, “Stephen, please.”

“You were the one who called it domestic abuse,” Steve answered, inching closer to the edge so he could look down at Tony, who was sprawled out, pretending he was dead, “I think you should talk to my Dad or something. No, seriously, he could talk-”

“Steeeeeeevvvee.” Tony whined, “You're ruining my buzz.”

He sighed and shook his head, “I don't think you should repress-”

“Oh, big word for Stephen.” Tony grinned as he pulled himself into a sitting position, tucking his legs under him, “You wanna talk about repressing? How about you an-”--They both froze at the sound of footsteps-- “I thought you said they were leaving!”

“They were!” Steve jumped up and grabbed an air freshener to spray around the room, “Goddamn it, Tony.”

“Hey! Chill out!” He hissed, climbing back on the bed, “You're so obvious.”

Sara knocked on the door and came in on the fourth knock, “We're going to leave now, boys.”

“Okay.” Steve nodded, his heartbeat thumping in his throat, “Have a good time.”

She looked back and forth between them, Tony's smirk looking too suspicious to be normal, “What are you two going to do tonight?”

“Probably study.” Steve said calmly while Tony shook his head, grinning from ear to ear.

“Probably not.” He giggled, earning a glare from Steve.

“At least you're honest, Tony.” Sara shook her head, straightening a trophy on Steve's shelf, “Just keep out of trouble. There's snacks in the kitchen, in case you get the munchies.”

Tony and Steve exchanged wide-eyed looks as she exited. “Dude!” Steve hissed as he shoved Tony, “You're terrible at this!”

“Did you hear that? Munchies? She so knows!” Tony squealed, rolling backwards on the bed.

“She knows because of you, Dickface.”

“No, your coconut shit spray is what gives it away, Asslamp.”

“Asslamp?” Steve laughed, his nose crinkling as he made a face, “Where did you come up with that?!”

“You're just jealous, I am a creative individual.” Tony giggled, his eyes got wide at a sudden realization, “You are too, Man! Oh my god, you have such talent, you little freak. Those drawings you do are fanfuckingtastic.”

“Nahh, just doodles.” Steve shook his head as he shrugged his shoulders up near his ears.

“Nooo,” Tony insisted, pointing a finger at the other, “you have skills and you shouldn't have to hide it. Everyone should know how amazing you are.”

“No one cares, Tony.”

“Well, I care!” Tony answered, making a face as he gave Steve's arm a poke, “Stop hiding it. Stop hiding yourself.”

“You're one to talk,” Steve scoffed, poking Tony in return, “Why don't you let everyone know how smart you are? The bimbo act is getting old.”

“Bimbo? You think I act like a bimbo? Jeez, thanks, Chief.”

“I think you're afraid of people paying too much attention to you. You like being popular but you don't want anyone to look too closely. You don't want them to see the good or the bad.”

Tony stared back at him, mouth slightly open, “Whoa, getting heavy. You said I get too honest..”

“You do.”

“Want me to get honest?” Tony laughed, crossing his legs under him, “You, my friend, are a coward. You're always too afraid to try anything new.”

“You talking about girls again?”

Tony shrugged, “I could be. Yeah, yeah I'm talking about that. How do you know you don't like guys if you haven't tried any yet? It's like trying a flavor of ice cream, I know I don't like strawberry because I've tried it before.”

Steve rolled his eyes, “I don't really think sexuality is the same as ice cream.”

“But I really think it could be,” Tony shook his head, squinting as he thought over the subject, “I think you need to just give it a try already.”

Steve laughed, “Give it a try? You make it sound-”

“It's easy as fuck, come here, I'll help you out.”

“What?” He moved away as Tony moved forward.

“Come here, I'm gonna give you a try.”

“No thanks, Tony.” Steve laughed nervously, Tony grinning while Steve shook his head, “Anyway, I've heard you're not that great.”

Tony's eyes widened, “Oh, now I'm definitely kissing you!” He crawled over to the other and leaned forward, pressing his lips to Steve's without hesitation. Steve sucked in his breath, his eyes going wide with shock, but he didn't pull away. The kiss didn't last long, Tony had only wanted to make a point. He pulled away with a smile on his face, enjoying the way Steve tried to act cool about it.

He shrugged, “Felt nothing, you sure you've done this before?”

Tony's mouth fell open and he gave Steve's shoulder a slap, “Asshole! Come here!” He grabbed Steve's face and yanked him forward, planting his lips right back to Steve's mouth. This time Tony gave it to him full force, pressing himself against Steve as he kissed him. Steve accidentally let out a noise as Tony's tongue slid across his lips, surprising himself with the pleasure it gave him. Tony hummed and nipped at his bottom lip before pulling away, a grin playing on his face as he looked back at Steve.

“Felt something that time, huh?” Tony smirked, crossing his arms over his chest victoriously.

“No wonder people are always chasing your ass, if you suck everybody's face like that.”

Tony laughed, sitting back on his heels, “That's what I thought.”

“Shut up.” Steve scowled at Tony's smug look.

“Aw, you're just mad because you liked it,” Tony grinned as Steve gave him a shove, “it's okay, it doesn't make you gay. Just means you're a little-”

“Shut up! You're the one who assaulted me.”

“Assaulted.” Tony laughed, sliding off the bed, “Call it what you want, Chief.”

Steve huffed and followed after Tony to the hall, “Don't just walk away like you've decided the conversation's over.”

“You wanna talk about your feelings? That's fine with me, but let's do it while I find food.” Tony bounced down the stairs while Steve followed. Tony didn't seem to care about what had just happened, his mind had already moved on to the next pressing matter with his stomach. Leaving Steve alone with what had just happened and what it had made him feel.

 

 

“God..” Tony whined, rinsing his mouth with water for the second time and spitting back into the sink, “Why'd you let me eat that?”

“Maybe because it's the first I've seen you eat in a while.” Steve answered, arms crossed over his chest as he leaned against the doorframe. Tony glared at Steve through the reflection in the mirror, washing his hands longer than was necessary. Getting sick had sobered him up pretty fast and now he was regretting eating the junk food Sara had left them. Steve was sort of right, he hadn't eaten a lot and certainly nothing this rich that would upset his sensitive stomach.

“Sorry I don't give you a play by play of every meal.” Tony grumbled, rubbing his eyes with a sigh, “Why don't you leave the surrogate parenting for your mom.”

“Stop getting pissed at me every time I give a shit.” Steve snapped, uncrossing his arms and shifting his weight from one foot to the other.

“Well you're giving me a little too much shit.” Tony replied with a smile as he slid past Steve.

“Tony, I want to talk about this.”

“And I don't.”

Steve made an angry noise and ran a hand through his hair, “You know you can't function if you don't eat enough. You can't run if you don't-”

“You really think I like running?” Tony asked, narrowing his eyes back at Steve as he sat on the bed, “God, you don't know anything about me.”

“Well why should I? You've been so goddamn secretive for so long!” Steve yelled back at him, placing his hands on his hips, “How am I suppose to know you?”

“Well, shit, I don't know, Steve.” Tony said sarcastically as he stood, “Maybe because you're my friend?”

Tony grabbed his bag and threw it over his shoulder as he headed toward the door. Steve made an angry noise again and followed after him, “God, you're such a child! Don't be mad at me for caring about you!”

He stomped after Tony, grumbling about how stupid he was while Tony growled about how he couldn't give two fucks. “I'm not trying to fucking kill myself, get a grip.”

“Well starving yourself seems like a good try.”

“I am not starving myself!”

“What are you doing then?!” Steve grabbed Tony's arm before he could get to the door, “Please tell me why so I can understand.”

“I'm not doing anything!” Tony yelled back, yanking away from Steve's grip.

“You can't just lie to me like I'm everyone else, Tony.” Steve said, grabbing both of Tony's shoulders, “I know you're going through shit, I just need you to tell me so I can help you.”

“I don't want your fucking help!” Tony shoved at Steve, which did nothing but Steve let go anyway.

 

 

Tony glanced in this father's study as he walked past, making eye contact only for a brief second before he continued down the hall to the stairs. He went up to his room to shower, expecting his father to be waiting for him when he got out but this time he was wrong. Frowning, he pulled on a pair of sweatpants and went back downstairs. He ran a hand through his wet hair as he crossed the hallway to his father's office again. He leaned against the doorframe, crossing his arms over his bare chest as he stared at his father.

“Why are you ignoring me?”

Howard looked up from his paperwork to give Tony a quick glance, “Am I?” Tony huffed, shifting so he was leaning against the other side of the frame, “I thought you were staying at the Rogers' tonight.”

Tony shrugged, uncrossing his arms and striding into the office, “I wanted to come home.”

Howard nodded, briefly raising an eyebrow before returning to the papers on his desk.

Tony frowned, “Why are you ignoring me?” He repeated, unintentionally placing his hands on his hips.

His father let out a small sigh, like the conversation was unimportant and taking up too much of his time, he looked up and answered, “I don't like seeing your bones. You look like a fourteen year old.”

Tony sucked in his breath, crossing his arms over his chest again. He'd left Steve to leave this same conversation, “I thought that's how you liked it.” He snapped.

Howard looked back at him, an unimpressed expression on his face, “If you just want attention go find your Mother. If you want my attention, go eat something.”

Tony turned on his heel, stomping away as his father went back to his work. Tony made a big noise in the kitchen, even though there was quite a bit of house between the two rooms and his father probably couldn't hear him anyway. He stomped back, halting in front of the study so he could make a big show of taking a bite out of an apple.

He returned to his own room, throwing the apple before throwing himself on the bed. He shouldn't be angry, his plan was working. The less he ate, the less Howard wanted him, he should be pleased, but he wasn't. That insecure part of him that needed his father's attention was furious.

He stared at his ceiling for a good while, trying to decide what to do with himself. He read one of his books, pulled apart his ipod and put it back together then returned to his bed, lying facedown. After a couple of hours, his father did come upstairs, knocking before he came in. Tony sat up, unintentionally looking too eager. Howard came forward and ran a hand through his messy hair, trying to fix it from the way it had dried when Tony was lying in a strange position.

Tony looked up at him when his father cupped his cheek, lifting his face, “You need to take care of yourself. I've already got enough to handle keeping your Mother alive.”

Tony huffed, “You?”

“Who do you think keeps the big drugs out of her reach?” Howard answered, giving Tony's ear a pinch.

“Who takes the alcohol away?” Tony retorted.

His father kneeled in front of him, smiling sadly as he cupped his Tony's face, “Yes, you do a good job. Even if you drink it yourself.”

“Got it from you,” Tony answered as his father pulled him forward for a kiss.

 

Chapter Text


When Bruce saw Tony coming toward him, his initial feelings were of fear. He had no idea what was going to happen once Tony got to him. He figured Tony was done with him, now that he knew his secret. But Tony came over and threw an arm around him, pulling him along down the hall.

“Come on, Brucy. Haven't seen you since Friday, you need to catch me up on all your weekend gossip.”

“Um..”

Tony tugged Bruce a little closer when he mumbled, “Chill out, I just want to forget it, okay?”

“Uh..yeah.” Bruce nodded, still unsure as Tony directed him.

“Just forget about it, can't trust anything my drunk mouth says.” He grinned as he released his hold on the other, “You're coming over today. Steve and I are going for a run, need someone to keep Steve from cheating.” --He emphasized the last word as they came up to Steve's locker.

“Cheating?!” Steve laughed, turning to face the other two, “Listen, Kiddo, if that'll make you feel better about yourself-”

“You cheat and you know it!” Tony retorted, giving one of Steve's big arms a slap, “Silent Bruce is going to prove it.”

Steve glanced over Tony towards Bruce with a smile and an exaggerated eye roll, “He's going to prove you're a sore loser.”

They continued to argue as they pass other students as they head out to the parking lot. Bruce can't help but laugh as they snip at one another, the way Tony would get offended and Steve would just blow off his tantrums. They were so easy with each other and there was something comforting about being around that. Bruce wasn't used to being around such intimate people, Tony and Steve were always touching and teasing each other and slowly they were integrating him into their ways.

They piled into Steve's jeep, Tony whirling around in the seat to speak with Bruce as well, “So, why haven't you asked Betty out yet?”

Bruce's eyes widened and Steve let out a chuckle, “What?”

“She keeps coming back to your quiet ass, there's obviously something there she likes.”

“Uh,” Bruce shook his head, leaning further back to flatten himself against the seat, “I don't think so.”

“Excuse you, I know when a lady is trailing after a boy.”

Bruce scowled, crossing his arms over his chest. He took a deep breath, “What do you know about girls?”

Both Steve and Tony irrupted with laughter, Tony sliding down against the passenger seat, “Whoo! Bruce got sassy!”

“Oh my god,” Steve gasped, “way to be, Bruce. He's got you pegged.”

Bruce blushed as they squealed over his tiny statement, he tried to hide his smile as the laughed, “What the hell, you think I can't catch a woman, Bruce?” Tony giggled as he tried to act offended.

“Let him have it, Bruce,” Steve encouraged, pointing a finger at Tony, “Fucker thinks he's a lady's man for some reason.”

Bruce laughed as Tony scoffed, “Because girls love me, I'm fucking adorable!”

“Adorable..that's not the word I'd use,” Steve grinned back at Bruce in the rear view mirror. They continued to squabble all the way home. Bruce was introduced to the Steve's father once they reached the Rogers home, Tony and Joe teasing one another like Tony was his own child.

“Are you running with them?” Joe asked, turning towards Bruce who shyly shook his head.

“He's here to run the clock. Make sure your spawn doesn't cheat.” Tony answered, slipping out of his jeans right in there in the living room. Bruce half wondered if Tony did live with the Rogers, he was so comfortable here, his action didn't seem to be a shock to anyone.

They changed into their work out clothes, Steve bumping into Tony as he tried to stretch on one foot and toppling him off balance. Bruce followed them outside, book in hand with a timer ready on his phone. He sat down on the curb while they took off jogging to warm themselves up, he watched them disappear around the block before he opened up his novel. He could hear them hooting and hollering as they jogged and it made him chuckle, they were so energetic, or at least Tony was and it was just infectious. He honestly didn't understand Tony, he didn't know why he was interested in Bruce, it just didn't make sense. Bruce wasn't interesting or entertaining, he wasn't special in any way. On his left he heard them coming back around the block, slowing down when they came up to him.

“Okay, let's do this to satisfy the diva.” Steve said, rolling his eyes as he placed his hands on his hips. Both Steve and Tony looked to the right as they caught sight of a person, they both grinned and waved, “Hey, Betty!”

Bruce's eyes widened as he turned to see Betty coming down the sidewalk, his shoulders hunched as he tried to make himself smaller.

“Hi, boys,” She answered with a smile, her large dog pulling at his leash, “Racing again? Oh, hi, Bruce.”

Bruce sucked in his breath and gave a little wave, looking back down at the pavement. He had no idea Betty Ross lived near them and now here she was.

“Hey, Sweetheart,” Tony beamed, glancing over at Bruce, who looked so uncomfortable. Steve dropped down to his knees as Betty got close enough, grabbing the large dog's face and rubbing his ears.

Tony and Betty exchanged a smile at Steve's babytalk to mastiff, “Hello, Collllliiinnnn. I missed you, buddy. You having a good walk?”

“Pair of big babies,” Tony chuckled, crossing his arms over his chest as Steve rubbed the dog's belly, cooing as the Collin's tail wagged.

“He does love Steve.”

“Must think they're related.” Tony scoffed, getting a glare from Steve, “Bruce come be social.”

“No, go ahead with your race, we'll sit and watch,” Betty answered, pulling the big puppy with her as she went to sit next to Bruce. Bruce sucked in his breath again as her leg bumped his, Tony grinned at them, feeling pleased with himself.

Steve bumped him, bringing him back to their present plans, he stuck his tongue out at the other and gave him a returning shove. They started off their run around the block, actually running this time, Steve keeping a slower pace to keep Tony close. Tony was an excellent runner, but Steve was always going to be better simply because he had longer legs. He suddenly realized he had gotten ahead and glanced back.

Don't you slow down for me!” Tony yelled at him as he charged forward. Tony pushed himself and matched Steve's pace, they both skidded around the corner, coming back around toward Betty and Bruce. Tony shot out a slap toward's Steve's direction and Steve aimed a poor kick back, they broke out in laughter, difficult while running. Right towards the end of their path, Tony got slightly ahead, grin all over his face as he passed Steve. Steve thought the smile was gorgeous, but he just couldn't let Tony have the satisfaction. He sped up as fast as he could, eyes on the back of Tony's head as he came up behind him.

He reached out with one hand, his arm coming around Tony's side to land on his stomach. Tony's face scrunched up as he felt Steve's touch, he looked down and yelled as he realized what was happening. Steve wrapped his arms around Tony's middle and threw them both off the road and onto a lawn. Tony cried out as Steve twisted them in the air, both of them landing with a thud, Tony falling on top of Steve.

“You asshole!” Tony coughed, the wind having been knocked out of him. Steve laughed, emitting a cough himself. He wrapped his arms back around Tony as he tried to squirm away, “Get off me!”

“You're the one on me!” Steve laughed, squeezing tighter. Bruce and Betty laughed as they fought in the grass, Tony eventually gave up and just pretended he was dead.

Betty giggled as the dog pulled on his leash, barking at the commotion. She turned to Bruce, still smiling, “Are those two in love with each other or what?”

Bruce looked startled, first because she was speaking to him and secondly because of what she'd said, “What?”

“Those two are like secret boyfriends,” She answered, rolling her eyes like it was obvious. Both of them looking back over to the couple who were still draped over each other on the lawn.

 

 

Tony scrubbed a hand through his still damp hair as he recrossed his legs under him on the bed, he knew his hair was going to end up weird if he slept on it but he really didn't care, he was too tired. He sighed and pushed the sprawl of notebooks across the bed with his foot. He'd been doing Steve's chemistry homework, since his friend was virtually incapable of doing it correctly on his own. He kicked under the covers and rolled onto his stomach so he could sink into his pillows. He'd been looking forward to sleep all day, some would call it a sign of depression, he thought of it as recharging for the next day.

He let his breath slow, smelling the freshly cleaned smell of the sheets. He wondered if Jarvis knew, he had to think it was strange to clean his bed every day. What must he think? A light knock on his door made him jump, Howard never came to him twice in one day. He lifted his head to see his Mother, he squinted in confusion.

“Mom?”

“Hey, Sweetheart.” She whispered, coming in to sit on the edge of his bed. She smiled down at him, reaching a hand to stroke his hair, “I love you, Tony. You know that, don't you?”

He sighed and nodded, “I know, Mom. I love you too.”

“I wanted to make sure you knew. Sometimes I think you don't know..” She said sadly, touching his face. She was drunk, obviously, she always was and he didn't want to deal with it tonight. He'd already had one parent coming into his room to tell him how much they loved him for the night.

He wished she'd just get herself together and act like a parent to him, fix their life.

“I do, Mom. I need to sleep. I've got school tomorrow.”

“I know, I just..I want to apologize, Darling...I know it's hard-”
“Mom, I need to sleep.”

“Tony-”

“Please just go to your husband!” He snapped, jerking upright, “Go to his bed and tell him how much you love him. Both of you just—you need to leave me out of your shit! Go sleep with your husband, Mom.”

She stared back at him in shock, stunned by the sudden outburst. She nodded and stood, looking hurt and confused. He hadn't meant to sound so angry and he knew she didn't deserve it, but he just rolled over so he didn't have to watch her leave.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

“Think we should start heading back?” Steve asked, propping himself up on his elbows and glancing down at Tony. The glow of the lowering sun painted him in a golden light, highlighting his best features. Steve smiled at the pleasant grin on Tony's face, his arms behind his head and his legs stretched out and crossed over one another. They'd decided to take an impromptu trip to the beach so Tony could dig his toes in the sand and Steve could kick about in the water.

“Nope.” Tony answered without moving or opening his eyes, “They can start dinner without us.”

Steve sighed and pulled himself up into a sitting position, wiping the sand from his elbows, “I know nothing impresses you, but I'm excited for brandied pepper steak. We peasants don't get it every other night.”

With his eyes still shut Tony aimed a kick at Steve's thigh, “Yeah, real magical.”

Steve rolled his eyes, grabbing a handfull of sand and tossing it at the other, earning an angry noise from Tony, who then rolled away. He stretched out his legs, his runner's calf muscles flexing as his toes curled. Steve liked how catlike Tony looked right now, sprawled out, showing off his toned limbs. The golden light made Tony look warm and it made Steve want to reach out and touch him.

“Let's just live here,” Tony said, resting his cheek on his forearm, “Sound good?”

“Sounds like it'll get cold.”

Tony scrunched up his face, “So we'll cuddle.”

Steve felt a flutter in his stomach at the words, suddenly the idea stirred new feelings. They'd been snuggling and cuddling and draping themselves over one another since they'd met, Tony was a clingy friend. But now the idea made him feel nervous and excited.

“I think you'll get sick of it as soon as other people start showing up to swim. You don't share well.”

“You make me sound like a child.”

“You are a child.” Tony made an unattractive face that made Steve laugh, “An ugly child.”

“Ugly?!” Tony exclaimed, sitting up and smacking Steve's chest, “Asshole, you wish you could get with an ass like mine.”

“Too long of a line, from what I hear.”

“Mm.” Tony sneered, aiming another smack at Steve's pecks, “Listen, Shoulders, I'm starting to think you're judging. Don't be mad just 'cause you can't find someone to suck your dick.”

“I just don't take up every offer.” He retorted, digging his toes into the sand.

“You make it sound like a bad thing.” Tony mumbled, rolling his eyes at his own words. He didn't sleep around, he'd only ever been with one person but that was something he definitely kept to himself. Two years ago Steve had figured it out, not the whole scenario obviously, somehow he'd known Tony had lost his virginity. He'd pestered Tony until he blurted out a fake story of some random guy when they were on vacation.

 

“Who was it? Why didn't you tell me?!”

It was no big deal, jesus, you sound like a girl.” Tony mumbled in return.

No big deal, please it's all you've cared about since you hit puberty.” Steve laughed, hitting Tony in the arm, “Even though it was like a month ago.”

Shut up.”

Who? Do I know him? It is a dude right? You're not going through a straight phase or anything?”

No, you don't know him. It isn't a big deal, Man. I had sex, everyone does at some point.”

Steve frowned at him, “What's wrong with you?”

I just don't want to gossip about it right now, that okay with you, Stephanie?” He snapped.

 

It'd seemed like a good idea to take up the slut act, kept Steve from asking why he wouldn't go steady with anyone. And Steve, along with everyone else he knew, believed it.

“Who was the last person? Johnny?” Steve asked, leaning back on his elbows again, “He's really into you.”

“I'm a good lay, what can I say?” Tony muttered with a shrug. It didn't matter that he didn't sleep with anyone, people still liked to talk and he didn't see any harm in letting them.

“Are you ever going to date anyone? Or is that just too far-fetched? He's a nice guy.”

“I think a blowjob's too much commitment.” Tony laughed, rolling onto his stomach and wiggling his fingers in the sand, “You'll understand someday, when you finally get over girls.”

Steve looked out at the water as Tony chuckled to himself, he sucked in his breath before his next words, “Uh, yeah, maybe I already do?”

Tony turned his head so he could see Steve's face, “What?”

Steve sat back up, “Uh, well you know how you're always joking-”

“Are you shitting me?!” Tony exclaimed, scrambling to sit up on his knees, “Really? Like, for real?”

Steve shrugged and nodded as Tony grinned back at him. Tony let out an excited noise and leaped forward, wrapping his arms around Stee as he tackled him with a hug, “Holy fuck! You little shit, why didn't you tell me? Keeping important information from me!” He slapped Steve's chest as he leaned back on his heels, “Okay, are you sure? 'Cause, Babe, I think Bruce is straight.”
“Shut up,” Steve smirked, Tony's grin making him feel good about admitting his secret.

“Shit, Man.” Tony smiled, biting his bottom lip, “How long you been holding onto that?”

“Um, long enough to try it out,” He shrugged with a sheepish grin. That earned another noise of excitement from Tony.

“You little fuck! Jesus, been busy when I'm not around. With who?”

“Does it matter?”

“What you gonna get shy now? Who?”

He shrugged again, glancing out toward the water, “Sam.”

Tony nodded, “Wow. Bro, I'm so proud of you. So you're a bottom right?”

“Shut up,” Steve sent a smack at Tony's ear.

Tony couldn't keep the grin from his face, “This is really awesome, Man. Thanks for sharing, better late then never, you ass pirate.”

“If that becomes a thing, I swear to god I will never tell you anything ever again.”

“Ass pirate,” Tony beamed, getting up from the sand, “you want me to find you someone? Or is Sam a thing?”

“No. Do not call me that.”

“What? Ass pirate?” Tony began running before Steve started lunging forward. They kicked up sand as they ran down the beach, Tony turning in his run to kick some water back at the other, “What? What's wrong with it? Be proud, Dude!”

“I'll show you proud.” Steve growled as he sped up, Tony squeaked and ran as fast as he could.

 

 

Maria sighed as she watched the boys pile in through the front door, both of them drenched from the sudden rain, “Well you two obviously aren't ready.”

“It's raining!” Tony exclaimed, already peeling off his soaked shirt.

“It started raining while we were driving,” Steve laughed, “didn't have the top up on the jeep.”

Maria smile as she shook her head, they looked like little boys again, dripping all over the floor, “Your parents will be here soon. Go get changed for dinner.”

Tony twirled his shirt and then gave Steve's butt a smack with it. Steve cried out and ran after Tony, both of them taking the stairs two at a time.

“Don't take too long,” She called up after them as they disappeared around the corner on the second floor. Tony shrieked as he dashed down the hall, he turned to throw his wet shirt back at the other. They tumbled into Tony's room, Steve grabbing him around the middle and tackling him to the floor. Steve pulled off his own soaked shirt and wrung it over Tony's face so the water splashed over him.

“AH! Get off me!”

“Why? This bothering you?” Steve laughed, plastering the wet shirt right on Tony's face. Ever since they were little, once Tony started giggling it took him forever to stop. Steve stood up, chuckling as Tony continued to laugh on the floor, “My car's going to be soaked for days.”

“Your own fault, why do you leave the top off anyway?”

“It looks cool.”

“Who told you that?” Tony laughed, rolling onto his stomach so he could push off. Steve glanced over his shoulder as Tony stretched his arms over his head. He didn't let himself look for long, afraid Tony might notice his wandering eyes. He turned away and dug through the bag he'd brought from the car. Their two families had been getting together for years, their parents exchanging pleasantries while they kicked each other under the table and tossed rolls at one another.

“You think they'll talk about you first or me?” Tony asked, stepping over the bed to get to a dresser, he rummaged through drawers until he found a suitable shirt.

“You, my Dad'll bring up why you aren't playing a sport again.”

“You think? I think your last soccer game will come up first. It's more interesting and has less tension. Is that what you're wearing?”

“What's wrong with it?”

“So formal.” Tony answered in a mock voice with a stupid face to match.

 

 

 

“When was the last time we did this?”

“It's been too long,” Maria agreed with a smile, hugging Sara as the men exchanged their usual hand shakes.

“You'd think, with the boys being so close, that we'd see more of you.”

“Anthony hasn't been to much of a bother has he?” Howard asked as they moved into the dining area.

“Oh of course not!” Sara shook her head, “You know he's like son to us.”

“I don't think you could keep him away anyway,” Joe laughed as Howard offered him a whiskey.

“My ears are burning.” Tony mumbled as he and Steve entered.

“Well don't you two look sweet.” Maria cooed at the sight of them, reaching out to touch Tony's hair, “Both so handsome.”

They all sat down to dinner, Steve and Tony being the topic of conversation.

“How are classes?”

“How was the last game?”

“These two came in like a couple of drowned rats.”

“Of course they did, caught in the rain again?” Sara shook her head across the table at them, “Why do you insist on driving with the top down?”

“He thinks it looks cooler.” Tony answered with a grin.

“I like the breeze,” Steve scowled as he stabbed at his vegetables, Tony rolling his eyes in response.

“Steve, sweetie, are you seeing anyone lately?” Maria asked, drawing everyone's eyes to Steve.

“Uh, no. No, not seeing anyone.”

Tony grinned at Steve's flushed face and his hurried answer. Steve made a face back at him before smiling himself. Their parents were used to this silent language they had so they paid it no mind.

“Have you settled on anyone, Tony?” Sara asked.

Steve scoffed, “Yeah, okay, Mom. Tony doesn't do the real relationship thing. That'd mean committing to something.”

“Couldn't possibly.” Tony nodded in mock agreement, “Besides, then I wouldn't time to babysit Steve.”

“Who's babysitting who?” Steve laughed, “You wouldn't last a day without me.”

“You wouldn't have any friends without me.”

The adults turned away, ignoring the teenagers and their little spat. Sara reached over and touched Maria's hand, “Is everything alright?” She asked softly so only they could hear, “It's been so long since any of us have seen you.”

Maria's trademark “what could possibly be wrong” smile flashed across her face, “I know, I'm sorry, I haven't been feeling very well lately. I promise I'll stop by more often.”

Sara nodded, still looking concerned, “Is everything okay with Tony? He's been looking so thin.”

“You think so?” Maria asked as she looked down the table at her son, “Hm, it must be all that running. He's still training with Phil—Honey, you're still training with Phil, aren't you?”

Tony looked up with the hint of a scowl, “Yes, Mom.”

He hated how she was out of the loop even when she was sober. He was glad she'd skip the drinks when it was time to play perfect Mom, he just hated how bad she was at it. He exchanged a look with Howard before he turned back to Steve.

“I will never understand why you have him training but you won't let him join a sports team,” Joe shook his head.

Howard sighed, bored already with the conversation they'd already had a million times, “Chasing after a ball isn't going to make him better at anything.”

“But there's a social aspect to it.”

Howard rolled his eyes and leaned forward, “Anthony, do you want to join a sport team?”

“No thank you.” Tony answered, making a face at Steve.

“Are you sure? Joe's concerned you're missing out on the wonders of teamwork.”

“Affermative.”

Joe made a face, “Fine.”
“It's just not for everyone.” Howard shrugged, “Steve's doing well though? Anthony told us about his last game, sounds like he's turning into quite the star.”

Quite the star.” Tony said in a mock voice at Steve.

“You jealous, Boss?” Steve stuck his tongue out at the other. Tony'd been eating like a normal person and their parents were being very pleasant, it let Steve relax.

“Your face is jealous.” Tony grinned.

 

 

 

“I don't like the way he was looking at you.”

“Who?” Tony asked, genuinely confused, “Steve? Why?”

Howard made an unimpressed face, “He was looking at you like-”

“Oh, you can't be serious!” Tony hissed, his face expressing his anger as Howard grabbed his arm and pulled him into his study, “It's Steve, Dad. He's my best friend, he wasn't looking at me like anything. He doesn't think of me that way.”

Howard frowned slightly, “But he's not gay isn't part of your argument?”

Tony rolled his eyes, “Yeah, okay he is gay. But come on, it's Steve. I've known him all my life.”

“Exactly.” Howard answered, grabbing a folder and examining the papers inside.

Tony almost stomped his foot, “If you're going to act possessive at least pay attention to me while you're doing it.”

Howard sighed and dropped the folder back onto his desk, crossing his arms over his chest, “I don't want him hanging around you if I have to worry about you-”

“Not everyone wants to fuck me!”
“Watch your tone.” Howard said, his voice pitching low.

“He's my best friend, you can't tell me I can't see him.” Tony insisted, his hands balling into fists.

“You'll do whatever I say.” His father replied, an eyebrow raised in retort, daring Tony to throw the fit that was boiling inside of him.

“How's it going to look when I'm not allowed to see my best friend anymore? How are you going to explain that to the Rogers? Gonna tell them it's because you're jealous?”

Howard's hand swung forward, slapping Tony's face and whipping his head backward, “I said watch your tone. You will not speak to me like that.”

Tony glared resentfully back at his father, “So I'm allowed to suck your dick but god forbid that I use my mouth for talking! What should I say to Steve when he asks why we can't be friends? Sorry, my insecure father doesn't want anyone else looking at me, he's going to pull me out of school to keep me away from wander fucking eyes!”

Howard grabbed Tony by the front of his shirt, yanking him forward, “If you weren't such a-”

“Don't you dare put your fucked up shit on me!”

His father's hand came up again, slapping him harder this time, “If you weren't such a little flirt, I wouldn't be jealous.”

“If you weren't fucking your teenage son you wouldn't get jealous! AH!” He cried out at the next hit, “Get off of me. Ah, Dad, stop!”

“Are you trying to act like you have no part in it?” Howard hissed as he slammed Tony against the desk, “Like you don't come to me asking for it.”

“It isn't normal!” Tony shouted, kicking against his father, “Go fuck your wife instead!”

Howard stilled, releasing Tony “Is that what you want?”

Tony frowned back at his father before he pulled away, walking back across the room. Howard sighed and crossed his arms, “Is that what you want, Tony?” His voice suddenly soft and complicated.

Tony huffed, crossing his arms over his chest, mirroring his father, “You're just acting jealous, you only care because you don't want someone touching your property.”

Howard sighed, closing his eyes like he was too tired for this conversation. He leaned against his desk, “Come here.”

“I don't want to.” Tony scowled, turning away like a child, “I've got enough bruises, thank you.”

“Tony,” His father exhaled, “come here. Please.” When Tony continued to ignore his words, Howard pushed away from the desk and walked over to him, circling his arms around his waist, “I don't think of you as property.”

“Mm.” Tony nodded, staring at the floor, “Then treat me like a person.”

Howard sighed again, rolling his eyes as he turned Tony in his arms, “It's because I care, Tony. You know I love you.”

Tony nodded as his father leaned down to kiss his neck, “Then stop treating me like a slut.” He mumbled, still put out with the whole conversation as he felt his jaw swelling from the fight.

 

Chapter Text


Tony tip-toed into his mother's room but straightened when he saw the bathroom light on, spilling light into the dark bedroom. He sighed and walked over, leaning against the door frame, “Mom?”

“Oh, hey, Baby.” She smiled over her shoulder at him before she returned to washing her face, “Getting ready for school? You don't need a ride do you?”

“No,” He shook his head, wishing he didn't have to ask, “I uh, ran out out of cover up. Could I use some of yours?”

She whirled around, frowning sadly when she saw the bruises on his face, “Oh, Honey..”She reached out a hand and cupped his cheek, “Of course you can use some of mine.” She took his hand and pulled him back into the bedroom to her vanity mirror. She flicked on the lamp, bathing the room in a soft pink glow. She wished he didn't need his own cover up in the first place, she wished he didn't need so much that he'd run out.

“Here, have some water,” She said, offering him a glass, “I'll do it for you, Sweetheart.”

He tipped the glass up to his lips as she turned away, he didn't realize what he was drinking until it was already down his throat and he choked, “Mom, that's vodka.”

“Oh, Baby, I'm sorry!” She exclaimed, grabbing the glass back apologetically, “Ugh, I swear I thought it was water.”

Tony sighed, hating how upset she looked with herself, “It's fine, easy mistake. Not my first time or anything.”

She frowned down at him, sighing as she picked up the cover up and started applying it to his face, “You've gotten good at doing this yourself, haven't you?”

Tony nodded, “Mhm. Gotta be.”

She knelt down, taking his hands in hers, “You shouldn't have to..You know he loves you, Darling, he just...he just gets so worked up. It's always worse when he drinks, our whole family's like that. That's something you need to watch for, Honey, don't let yourself get....just be careful with yourself, okay?”

He had turned his head away while she spoke, “Yeah, okay, Mom.” He nodded.

 

 

 

“Just tell them,” Tony said, lighting up a joint as they walked, “They wouldn't want you living a life you didn't want.”

“It isn't that simple.” Steve sighed, shoving his hands in his pockets. They'd had this discussion over and over but Steve always argued with the same reasoning. All his life his family had expected him to go into law enforcement just like his father and his father, but as he grew up he discovered his artistic talents and couldn't help but dream his life would go in that direction.

“Sure it is,” He replied through the blunt between his lips, his hood pulled up over his head to shield him from the breeze, “Just show them your drawings, they'll understand.”

“Coming from you..” Steve scoffed, aiming a light kick at Tony's calf, “When was the last time you told your Dad you don't-”

“It's not the same.” Tony answered, blowing out a stream of smoke, “Your Dad isn't going to hit you for it.”

Tony had tried to say it like a joke, but there wasn't enough energy behind it. Steve sighed, wrapping his arm around his friend's shoulders and yanking him close. Tony's hair sticking out under the hood, giving the appearance of horns.

“You know you can always come to my place if it gets too bad.”

“Mhm,” Tony nodded, rolling his eyes up at Steve, “Your Mom keeps hinting at that.”

“Well, you should know you're welcome by now. You practically live with us anyway. You shouldn't hav-”

“Don't want to talk about it, Stephanie.”

Steve sighed as Tony pulled away, “You never do.”

“Well, would you?” Tony scoffed, offering up the joint to the other, “Would you really want to talk about it if your Dad hit you every time you disagreed? You would not.”

“We just want to be here for you.”

We.” Tony smirked, “You and the rest of your pod. Are we going somewhere or are we just wandering?”

Steve shrugged, taking a long drag, “Park?” Tony shrugged back in such a noncommittal way. Steve scowled at him, “Come on, you love getting high at the park. I'll race you.”

“Running, really?” Tony laughed, “You think I want to run some more?”

Steve grabbed both Tony's hands and pulled him forward into a trot, “Come onnnn, Boss. Run with me.” He grinned as he whined in his best Tony impersonation, “Bet I beat you.”

“Fuck off.” Tony laughed as Steve made him break into a run.

“Come on, Stubby Legs. I'll just jog so you can keep up.” Steve sang, stilling holding on to one of Tony's hand, dragging him along.

“Stubby legs?!”

They ran down the street, sucking up the cool night air as they laughed at the faces they made at one another. Tony grabbed Steve's hand again, pulling them both to a sudden halt so he could rush forward and gain the lead. Steve grinned, dashing after him as the rounded toward the park. They both climbed over the small fence, an unnecessary joy they shared whenever they came here.

Tony went straight for the swings, letting himself hang backward as he held onto the chains, “Ugh, you're an ass.”

“You're fine.” Steve chuckled as he sat at the swing next to Tony's, Tony clicking his fingers for Steve to hand over the joint.

“Sooooooo, I have it on good authority that Bucky Barnes thinks you're hot.”

“Oh yeah?”

Tony nodded seriously, “Yeah, you should give him a try. Maybe let the world know you're into guys. Just a little bit. You're ready for that, right?”

Steve shrugged, “Not really interested.”

Tony sighed exasperatedly, pulling himself into an upright position and pushing himself to make the swing move, “Come on, man. I'm trying to hook you up here. He's cute, right?”

“Sure, but I'm just not interested.”

Tony frowned, kicking at the ground, “Just want you to be happy, Babe. How come no one will let me arrange their love lives? Bruce is the same way.” Tony caught Steve rolling his eyes, “Okay, what's with you and Bruce? Why do you always get weird with him?”

“Nothing,” Steve shrugged.

Tony dug his heels into the dirt to stop himself, “Nothing my ass, do you have a problem with him?”

Steve shook his head, pausing before he answered, “Are you into him?”

Tony frowned, “Uh, I don't think he's gay. What are you jealous or something?”

Steve rolled his eyes and pushed his swing into movement, “Yeah, if you're into him.”

“Is that suppose to mean something to me?” Tony asked, still frowning in confusion.

Steve looked over at him seriously, “You're gonna make me spell it out?”

“Guess you're gonna have to,” Tony shrugged, twisting his swing back and forth.

He sighed, tilting his head back, “I like you, okay.”

Tony stopped moving, staring over at Steve as he looked back in all seriousness, “No you don't.”

“Yes, I do. I have for a long time.”

Tony looked away, his face turning dark as he stared down at the ground. His fingers tightened around the chains as he thought about what his friend had just confessed, “Why?”

“What? I-”

“Why do you want to ruin it?” Tony asked, darting an angry glance over at Steve, “You're the one person...why? Why would you want to ruin what we have?”

“I don't want to ruin anything.” Steve insisted, “Tony, we're suppose to be together.”

Tony quickly shook his head, “No, no. You are the one person who's never wanted that from me.”

Steve stood, walking over into Tony's line of vision,“I don't want anything from you, I just want..I just want something more with you.”

Tony glanced up Steve then back down at his feet, “Why?”

Steve made an annoyed noise, “Tony, why is it such a crazy idea? You hook up with who-the-fuck-ever but I am a relationship you can't even fathom?”

“I don't hook up with everyone! Everyone lies. And you're my best friend! You can't-”

“But I do.” Steve insisted, kneeling down to Tony's level on the swing and taking his face between his hands and kissing him.

He felt Tony's shock, but didn't feel him pull away. When he moved back Tony's eyes were wide and confused, his mouth hanging open, “But..”

“I really like you, Tony. All these years together-”

“No.” Tony shook his head, looking frantic as he pushed himself back, his hands gripping the chains like he would fly away without it, “No no no. You can't....you're suppose to be my friend.”

Tony didn't know what to do or what to think. His father kept appearing in his mind, what if Steve found out. He couldn't date Steve, not while he was in this thing with his father. That would be too fucked up.

Steve frowned, standing back up, “Of course I'm your friend. What do you think I'm asking of you?”

Tony looked up at him, looking strangely helpless. Steve was shocked how upset Tony was getting, he almost looked like he could start crying.

Tony stood and started nervously pacing around , “I just..Steve, it's not like you think it is, I don't sleep around. People just talk..”

Steve crossed his arms over his chest, listening to whatever Tony was trying to say, “So because you're not a slut we can't-”

“I don't know how to do a relationship, I don't know what..I don't know how to do that. I don't even like sex.” He added in an attempt to scare Steve out of the conversation.

Steve sighed, walking over and taking Tony's hand, “I don't care. I don't care about that I just want us to get closer. Who's going to understand you better than me?” He reached out a hand to touch Tony's cheek, frowning at his expression, “What are you so scared of? That it'll actually work?”

“I'm too fucked up, Steve. Find someone nice.” Tony mumbled, trying to joke.

“Don't be stupid.” He answered, pulling Tony close so he could kiss him again, “I just want you. Please? I want us-”

“God, you're full of cliches.” Tony laughed, leaning his face into Steve's hand. Steve's touch felt different, he openly wanted to be with Tony, he didn't want to hide it. He sighed, looking down at his feet, he was getting cold, “I'm too fucked up, Man. You should know that by now.”

“I don't care.” Steve laughed, like Tony was being ridiculous, “I know, I know what you go through. It hasn't scared me away yet.”

“You don't know,” Tony shook his head, pulling out his cigarettes and lighter, “You're pretty fucked up to want to get with this fuck up, you know.”

“Then lets be fuck ups together?” Steve smiled, earning a small grin from the other as he lit up one of the cigarettes.

“Thought you didn't like kissing smokers,” Tony smirked, blowing out a stream of smoke over his shoulder, “I'm not quitting for you.” He couldn't help thinking how normal being with Steve would feel. In a different universe, this would be ideal, he'd never let himself seriously think that way about Steve because it'd never been an option.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Tony's head was still spinning as he shut the front door behind him. The shock and initial terror of Steve's surprise was starting to turn into excitement. Steve had just changed everything and now Tony was letting himself be happy about it.

“Sweetie, we want to talk to you.” His mother called from the next room. She stood when he entered, taking his face in her hands, beaming from ear to ear. Her excitement startled him, his father still sitting to his left, flipping through a tablet.

“What?” Tony asked, looking confused back at his mother.

She took a breath before she answered, “I'm pregnant.”

Tony's brow furrowed as he looked from his mother over to his father, “What?” He repeated, looking bewildered.

“We're going to have another baby, Sweetheart.” She answered, taking his hands in her own, “You're going to be a big brother.”

The words made Tony gag, he pulled away from her and crossed his arms over his chest defensively, “How is that even possible? How can you be pregnant?” His throat started to close up and his heart started to race. He thought his parents weren't sleeping together anymore, he would've sworn by it, so this was unfathomable.

“Honey-”

Tony shook his head, holding up his hands as he backed away, “No..no.” He pivoted and stormed to the kitchen, removing himself from the situation that was causing a panic attack. He thought his parents weren't having sex at all. He thought that was the explanation, that's how he justified what happened with his father. He leaned against the sink, gripping the porcelain as he gasped for air. He closed his eyes and tried to do the stupid counting thing Steve would do it he were here.

He jumped when he saw his father enter the kitchen, he turned around, pressing himself back against the counter, “Is it true? How can she be pregnant?”

“Stop it.” Howard sighed.

“When did you start sleeping with her again? Why...what changed? Why are you sleeping with me if you're sleeping with her?” He started choking again, gasping as the actual idea that there would be another little person in the house dawned on him, “Are....y-you..going...to..fuck my....new sibling...too?”

Howard made a face as he uncrossed his arms, “Stop it.”

“I-I.. don't...want-”

“I'm not speaking with you until you control your yourself. That's what running was for, you should be able to-”

“R-Running was not..to teach me to breathe.” Tony snapped, pausing to try to calm his breaths, “You have me running so...so I can look the way you want me to look.” He turned away, feeling tears threatening in his eyes. This day was coming with too many changes and it was starting to overwhelm him, “She can't take care of a kid. She'd have to stop drinking.”

“That's why she's going to need your help. And I think you should go say something to her. You'll hurt her feelings.”

Tony crossed his arms and looked over his shoulder back at his father, “Yeah, would't want to hurt her feelings or anything like that.”

He could see the anger behind his fathers eyes so he turned around and exited the kitchen, letting himself brush against his father as he passed. He did things like that to bother his father when he knew for a fact that he wasn't about to allow anything between them. He returned to his mother and sat beside her, taking her hands in his and kissing her knuckles.

“I'm sorry,” He mumbled, “I just wasn't ready for that.”

She smiled sadly at him, “Oh darling, you know this doesn't mean-”

“I'm not jealous,” Tony interrupted, rolling his eyes at her, “I just wasn't expecting it.”

She nodded and reached up to touch his cheek, cupping his face in her hand as she looked at his features, “It's been so long since you were little.”

“Not that long.” Tony muttered.

“I think it will be good for all of us. Bring life back into this house.”

Tony nodded, thinking about how babies were never relaxing as the dull ache in his stomach started to turn into real pain. Getting upset had burned more calories and now he was feeling regret for eating so little that day. His mother continued to talk about babies and how better off they would be as a family. She reached forward and pulled his hand away from his mouth, he hadn't even noticed he'd been chewing his nails.

 

 

 

Tony had started sneaking into Steve's late at night when they were just entering their teenage years. So when Steve heard his window click open, he sat up seeing the familiar sight of Tony climbing in. He didn't look hurried so Steve calmed, usually Tony came in the night when things at home were too bad. But this time he simply slipped into Steve's bed with him, curling up and nuzzling his face into Steve's shoulder.

“Hey. You alright?”

“Mm.” Tony cuddled closer so Steve would wrap an arm around him. He wanted to tell Steve everything right there, but he was too tired. His chest felt so heavy and his stomach so empty, he didn't have the energy to get into a conversation like that let alone a full sentence about his new sibling. Steve put his book down and turned off the light, relaxing down into the bed so he could pull Tony closer. This was the first time he had ever allowed himself touch Tony like this, holding him as close as he possibly could so he knew how much he cared, so Tony felt safe.

“I did my geometry homework,” He said to say something, knowing Tony hated silence. Tony's head got too full of thoughts and anytime the noise of the outside world died down, the noise in Tony's head turned into a problem. Tony put up such a front but he was so delicate, ready to tear at the seams at any given moment, so Steve did his job and tried to keep him together, “I know I'm not allowed to anymore, but I thought the teacher might like it better if it were in my own handwriting.”

“Stupid idea.” Tony mumbled, sounding tired, “You're always full of stupid ideas.

“Silly me, thinking I'm allowed to do things on my own.” Steve chuckled, touching Tony's hair with the hand the hand that had been resting on his shoulder.

Tony nodded against Steve's shirt, “You'll learn someday.”

 

 

In the morning Tony was still curled up against Steve, which was shocking because he usually sprawled out across the bed, leaving little room for anyone else. Steve had to pry him off to get up, planting a kiss on his head before he stood. When he returned from the bathroom he gave Tony a shake, his parents didn't mind having Tony over but they didn't like when he turned up in the middle of the night without their permission, so usually Tony got out before they noticed.

Tony's face scrunched up when he was woken and he made an unpleasant noise, “Fuck off.”

“Time to get up.”

“They won't care.”
“They will.” Steve nodded, pushing Tony so he'd roll over, “They really won't once I tell them.”

“Tell them what?”

“Well, about us.” He answered, sitting back down onto the bed. Ton propping himself up on his elbows, still looking exhausted, “That I'm gay and we're..you know.”

That seemed to wake Tony up, his eyes widening like he'd forgotten the night before, “Oh, right. Uh..I don't really-”

“I'm not telling them today.” Steve smirked at the sudden panic on Tony's face, “I'm just saying when I do.”

Tony hadn't put much thought into that: telling their parents. Their mothers would be thrilled but their fathers..especially Tony's. He didn't know what would happen, how his father would react, what he'd do. The uncertainty of that put Tony into a panic that he knew he had to shove deep down. He didn't want to explain his terror to Steve, he didn't want to upset him so he hid it away. Steve could obviously see the gears in Tony's mind working so he leaned forward, slow enough so Tony could see it happening, and kissed him softly.

“Are you sure this isn't freaking you out too much?” He asked quietly.

The curl of Steve's lips put Tony at ease and he nodded, leaning into Steve for more of his affection. Steve's attention didn't feel rushed or demanding, he just wanted to love him without any attachments or obligations. That was foreign and terrifying but Tony wanted it more than anything at the moment.

 

 

“Tony, dear, won't you eat something else?” Sara asked as she cleaned the counter.

Tony glanced across the kitchen then back to the homework he was doing before they left, “I'm fine.”

She frowned at the portion of food still left on his plate, “You're getting so thin, aren't they feeding you at home?”

“I'm fine, Sara.” Tony repeated, shoving Steve's homework to him across the counter, “All done.”

“Is he doing your homework for you again?”

“He doesn't do it right.”

“Tony's a control freak.” Steve answered, giving Tony's temple a peck when his mother turned away. They still hadn't made their relationship public, even though it'd been a couple of months since Steve had pronounced his feelings. Steve still didn't think his parents were ready to hear it and Tony seemed in no hurry to tell anyone.

“I am not.” Tony stuck his tongue out at the other with a scowl, “You should be more grateful. I'm the reason you've gotten through your science courses.”

“How's your mother doing, Tony? She's quite small with how far along she is.” Sara continued, missing the quick kisses of the boys behind her back.

“She's in heaven.” Tony mumbled, “She's really enjoying setting up the nursery but it's tiring her out.”

“Oh, I'll have to come help her out sometime this week. Are you looking forward to becoming a big brother?”

Steve smirked, “No. Tony likes being the center of attention.”

Tony wrinkled his nose back at Steve, “You just know everything, don't you, Stephanie?”

Steve smiled and leaned forward to kiss Tony's pouting lips, unfortunately they held it too long, long enough for his mother to swivel around and catch it. She made a sharp noise and reached her hand up to her mouth. They both jumped and pulled away quickly.

“Is...was...are you two...?” They could see her grin through her covered hand, “Oh...Steve are you-”

“Mom.”

“Is this..is this a thing? Was that an accident? Are you two a couple?”

“Mom..” Steve mumbled, shrinking away as Tony smirked.

She beamed as Tony gave her a knowing look, “Oh, I've been waiting for this day!” She rushed around the counter and pulled them each into a hug, “You have no idea how happy this makes me. I knew it! I just knew it!”

Steve scowled at the attention this was getting, “Mom, I don't want to tell Dad yet.”

“How long has this been going on?” She demanded, suddenly looking upset with them, “How long have you been keeping this from me?”

Mom. Don't tell Dad.” Steve repeated, frowning as she ignored him.

“Oh, Stephen, he won't care.”

“I'm not ready for him to know yet. So please-”

“Ugh, how could you keep this from me? Oh! You two are being safe, right? You still have to be careful, mistakes can still-”

Mom!”

“I'm sorry, I just want to make sure you two are going about this correctly.”

Steve whined in embarrassment as Tony laughed into the hands covering his face.

 

 

Tony snuggled in against Steve's chest, not even realizing he was doing it as his head relaxed back against Steve's shoulder. He knew he should go home, he hadn't been there in a couple days, but he was too comfortable here. He slept okay here and he ate like a normal person, living with the Rogers let him feel normal. But he knew he'd have to go home soon, the Rogers would kick him out eventually.

“Who are you texting?”

“Bruce.” Tony answered as Steve's eyes flashed back to the video game he was playing. Bruce hadn't shown up to school that day and it had Tony worrying.

Tony -You okay?-

He looked up when he heard Steve switch channel to a tv show, “You done?”

“Mhm,” Steve answered, tossing the controller and looping his arms around Tony's torso and dipping his head to kiss Tony's neck.

Tony smirked as Steve nuzzled into his shoulder, taking his phone and tossing it with the controller, “Yes?”

“I got bored with zombies.”

“Crazy talk.” Tony rolled his eyes as he crawled over Steve to retrieve the phone, “I'm not done.”

Steve whined, turning so he could continue kissing Tony's neck, “Is Bruce really more entertaining than I am?”

“You just expect me to dump everything at your whim?” Tony said, sticking out his tongue as Steve tossed his phone again and pulled him closer.

“Mhm,” Steve nodded as he leaned forward to kiss the other. Tony kissed him back, smiling against Steve's lips. Steve always had a nice taste, similar to coconuts, it made him wonder if he secretly wore some sort of lip balm. He leaned in closer, his body pressing up against Tony's. Tony stiffened when he felt Steve's hardening dick against his thigh. Steve hadn't been trying anything to Tony's relief but he knew that eventually Steve would be asking for something more. He tried to relax as Steve continued to suck his face, but the more he rolled against him the tenser he felt. Steve's hands started to roam, first under Tony's shirt and then lower, dipping his hand into Tony's pants.

“Wait,” Tony mumbled, shrinking back, “Steve, wait.”

“What?” Steve asked, pulling back, looking bewildered.

Tony opened his mouth to answer but couldn't think of any way to explain why he'd stopped him, “Uh, nothing.” He pulled Steve back down so they could continue, he did his best to ignore the gnawing feeling in his stomach but as Steve's hands started down again he just couldn't, “Wait. Wait, Steve, wait.”

“What is it?” Steve demanded, sitting back on his heels as Tony pushed up on his elbows. He looked so concerned as he looked down at the other.

Tony made a noise as he averted his eyes, “I...I don't..”

“What?”

“Ugh..I don't like sex.” He let out a huge sigh when Steve rolled his eyes, “I'm serious.”

“Tony-”

“I'm being serious, Steve.”

Steve smiled sort of sadly before he leaned down to kiss Tony once more, “Maybe you just need someone to do it right.” He leaned down, kissing down Tony's chest and pulling up his shirt again to kiss his stomach. Tony closed his eyes, willing himself to fight it but he just couldn't stand that this was Steve.

“Wait, Steve, stop. Stop!” He sat up quickly and his hand shot out and accidentally slapped Steve's face. They both cried out and sat up, Steve gripping his nose and Tony's hands covering his mouth, “Oh my god, I'm sorry! Are you okay?”

“Jesus, Tony.” Steve grumbled, “what the fuck?”

“I'm sorry. I didn't mean to. Ugh, I told you I couldn't do this!”

“It's fine, it's fine.” He sighed as Tony stood, “Tony, it's fine!”

“I told you I don't know how to do relationships! You should've just listened to me-”

“What does that have to do with-”

“I can't do this.” Tony shook his head as Steve stood, “And you shouldn't even want to be with me. I'm being serious, you know. I don't like sex and I'm not gonna suddenly change! I told you I was too fucked up for you.”

“Stop it.” Steve shook his head, taking Tony's hand and pulling him back, “I don't care. If you don't want to have sex, I'll respect that.”

“Oh, come on!”

“No, if you don't want that, then it won't happen.” He insisted, “I don't want to make you do anything you're not comfortable with. I don't want to just screw you, I want a relationship with you, Tony.”

Tony frowned, shaking his head, “Steve-”

“If I have to be celibate to be with you, then I choose that.” Steve grinned as Tony rolled his eyes.

“You're an idiot.”

“Maybe, but a happy one.” Steve smiled, leaning down to kiss Tony's cheek, “With a broken nose, that right hook of yours is getting-”

“I said I was sorry!”

“Shhhh, I'm joking.”

 

 

Tony flushed the toilet, standing and going over to the running sink so he could scoop some water into his mouth and spit. The aftertaste in his mouth made his throat itch and regret the entire decision. He didn't like throwing up, it wasn't something he'd prefer to do, but flipping out in front of Steve was just too much. And since he'd been eating like everyone else, he had to do something.

He looked at himself in the mirror, his lips too pale and his cheek bones making a shadow on his cheeks. He pinched the apples of his face to give it some sort of color. He then rubbed some toothpaste on his teeth and washed his hands before he exited the bathroom to return to Steve.

 

Chapter Text

 

“What do you think?”

Tony made a face as he crossed his arms over his chest, “I think you're using too much pink in here, Mom.”

“Really?” She asked, frowning back at the room.

“Enforcing gender roles too early can be very-”

“Alright, maybe it is too much pink. I just enjoy the pastel colors... I used quite a bit of grey on your nursery, maybe I could do that here.”

He leaned against the door frame as she moved things about the room, rearranging and refolding.

“Your father called,” She said, glancing over her shoulder as she spoke, “he has to stay in China a few more weeks.”

Tony nodded, not shocked as his father's business trips usually weren't very short. He'd been ignoring Tony for a couple months and now he'd left the country on a business trip, time he should be enjoying but couldn't. Now that his mother wasn't drinking or medicating herself the way she was before, he had a new person in his life, this woman that he hadn't seen since he was little. She made him nervous but she also gave him hope, which in turn made him nervous again

 

 

Two years ago, just a few weeks after Tony had turned fifteen, Maria Stark overdosed and was rushed to the hospital.

Howard glanced over his shoulder, looking at Tony liked he'd forgotten he was there, “Ugh, Jarvis, take Anthony home.”

No!” Tony exclaimed, as Jarvis started forward,“I'm staying here.”

Howard shook his head as if he couldn't be bothered, “Fine. But we're going to be here for hours.”

Jarvis did go home, Tony staying in the uncomfortable waiting room chair, determined to stay awake. When a doctor came out to them, he spoke to Howard without looking at Tony.

Was it intentional?”

The doctor made a face, “The amount of painkillers...that couldn't be an accident.”

She was actually trying to kill herself?” Tony asked, tears pooling in his eyes as he spoke. Howard grabbed his arm as he started to cry, excusing them and dragging him through one of the doors to a more private area.

Stop it.” He hissed as Tony sobbed, “You're not going to make a scene here.”

My mother just chased a bottle of aspirin with a bottle of vodka!” Tony cried, “How am I suppose to act?!”

Howard made a face and turned away, “She'll be fine. So reel in the emotions, there's no need for it.”

Tony glared up at him, hating how he refused to look back, “I know you haven't been around enough to notice, but I have emotions. My mother just tried to kill herself and I don't know what to do with that, I need you right now! I need my father.”

Stop it.”

No. Stop ignoring me! Just look at me for once! You never look at me, ignoring me like I don't even exist. I exist, Dad! Jesus, just look at me.”

You look too much like her.” He snapped, turning around finally.

What?”

You look like your mother. You act like her too. And I can't stand it.” He hissed at Tony, looking at him like he'd done something wrong.

What do you mean?”

Howard shook his head and yanked him by the arm, “You look too much like her.”

So you can't bear to look at me?”

I just can't.”

That doesn't make any sense!”

He grabbed Tony's shoulders, “It doesn't make sense. And it's just easier to stay away from you.You're too much like her, I didn't know you'd grow up like that.”

Tony shook his head, his mouth hanging open in confusion, “I don't understand. I-I don't know how to..what do you want me to do about that?”

His father sighed as tears streamed down his face, “Stop, stop it.” He pulled him close and let him cry on his shoulder, something that felt foreign to both of them, “Stop. She'll be fine. Tony, calm down.”

Tony looked up, hearing that name for the first time from his father's lips and desperately wanting to hear it again.

 

 

Howard had been making phone calls since they got home, so he hadn't been paying attention to Tony and was shocked when he entered their bedroom and found Tony curled up on the bed. He actually didn't notice Tony at first, too wrapped up in his thoughts at the moment.

Oh..”

Tony sat up, wiping the tears from his cheek, “I'm sorry, I just wanted-”

It's fine.” Howard shook his head, holding up a hand as he strode across the room. He grabbed a bag and started throwing things in, “You can stay. I'm not-”

You're leaving again?” Tony asked, brow furrowing as he glared across the large room at his father, “You're going to leave? Now?!”

Howard made an unimpressed face over his shoulder, “When did you get so bratty?”

While you were China or Germany or wherever you've been for the last fifteen years!” Tony cried, standing up as his eyes started to tear up again, this time in partial anger, “You can't leave now. Mom just..I can't do this alone! What am I suppose to do?.....What did I do wrong?”

Howard didn't know what to do as Tony started to break down again, this was too much emotion for him. Tony's breathing started hitching and his face got redder as he started to cry, “W-W-what did I do wrong? W-why can't either of you be around me?”

Howard frowned in confusion as the teenager started hyperventilating, “Stop it, you're getting too upset.”

Tony shot him a glare as he sat down in hopes it could calm him, “Y-you don't c-care-”

Stop it.” Howard repeated, holding up his hand again as he crossed the room, “You'll pass out if you keep that up.”

I can't h-help it!”

Howard came over and took Tony's chin in hand to force his face up. He looked down at him and said slowly, “Stop it. Calm down. Your mother will be fine, she needs to stay there for observation and then she's going to go where she can get the help we can't give her.”

Tony hadn't even realized his breathing had leveled until his father had finished speaking. He reached up and wiped tears from his face, “I didn't know she was so...”

Howard glanced over his shoulder, unsure where to be looking, “I didn't either. And she wasn't trying to get away from you...she loves you..very much.”

Tony shrugged, looking down at the floor as he tried to hold in more tears, “She was still trying to get away.”

His father sighed, “But not from you. We don't hate you, you're just caught up in something that's already happening.”

Tony shrugged again, glancing over at his mother's bed and feeling it all coming back up in his chest. He made a noise when his father turned back to continue packing, “Could you just stay? Just a day or something? I..I need someone, I need you h-here now. I n-need you to comfort me.”

Howard sighed again as he strode across the room once more, “Ugh, Tony just stop.”

I can't! This happens! This is what I'm like!” He cried,balling his hands into fists, “I'm sorry it's not what you want! I know it's not what you want. But this is what I am!”

Just stop.” Howard shook his head, looking so defeated as he grabbed Tony's face between his hands and pulled him forward so he could lean down and kiss him quiet. When they pulled apart they both looked horrified but neither made to move.

I...uh..is that why you...why you can't be around me?” Tony whispered, looking up at his father, afraid of what was happening.

Howard exhaled, looking just as scared as the teenager, “You're so much like her, how she used to be...and she's just disappeared..so being around you is too much..” He let out an angry sigh at Tony's nervous expression, “I don't hate you, I'm just..you're too tempting...Don't look at me like that, I realize how wrong that is! You're always whining about getting my attention, well here it is.”

It was true that Tony had been begging for his father's attention all his life, but he'd never expected to receive this sort. But a part of him was so desperate for that affection that he wasn't going to scrutinize too closely. He needed to be comforted and if this was the form it took..he figured he should accept it where he could get it.

 

 

Tony smiled as he watched his mother tidy around the already spotless nursery, “Are you gonna start knitting soon too?”

She whirled around and pointed a finger at him in a threatening manner, “Listen, you. I used to be very crafty before you came along. I could knit if I wanted to.”

“Sure you could,” He nodded, crossing the room to sit in the rocking chair. He leaned back and realized he liked the swinging motion so he kicked his feet. His mother laughed as he pushed himself back and forth, “You wanna nest, you nest, Mom.”

She shook her head at him, placing a hand on her swollen stomach as she so often did now, “You enjoyed your nest, Mister. And your sister will too.”

Tony nodded, leaning his head back against the chair, “You're getting her just in time for me to go away to school.”

She looked up, her face suddenly sad, “That's right. And of course you want to go so far away. Why aren't you looking at any schools near by?”

Tony rolled his eyes and stood, “Because.”

“Sweetheart-”

“The best schools are far away, isn't it more important that I go to a good school? You'll have a new baby in the house anyway, you won't even miss me.”

“Oh, of course we will.” She sighed, giving him a frown. She knew he still wasn't used to the idea of a sibling, having been an only child all his life, but she'd hoped he would've warmed up to the idea by now, “Well, Sara and I are going to go shopping-”

“You haven't bought everything pink yet?” Tony asked, grinning his shit smirk.

She gave him a pointed look before continuing, “We're going shopping, would you want to come along?”

Tony made a sideways face and shook his head, “Babies-R-Us isn't my thing, Mom. Steve and I wanted to go to the beach anyway.”

“I don't think so, Sara said she was dragging Steve along. You two can go afterward.”

Tony huffed but followed after her, sighing at her slow pregnant pace.

 

 

Steve and Tony rolled their eyes in unison as their mothers cooed over tiny outfits and little shoes.

“This is boring.” Steve whined quietly, taking Tony's hand as they walked a few paces behind. Tony nodded, making a face.

“I don't see why they made us come along. Do I look like I'd be helpful in choosing baby booties?”

Steve laughed, “No. But you sure do care about the color.”

“Listen, there's too much pink going on in this kid's life already and she isn't even born. That's just not fair.”

“You're making too big of a deal out of it.” Sara said over her shoulder, pushing the cart loaded with garments, “Little girls look cute in pink.”

Tony pulled his hand from Steve's and crossed his arms over his chest, “Babies look cute in anything, assigning a certain color is just stupid. Who cares if society can't determine the gender of a child on first sight?”

“Sweetheart,” His mother sighed, “I dressed you in a lot of blue, but you seemed to turn out alright just the same. I really should get some new maternity clothes while we're here.”

“That little one is expensive already.” Sara smiled, “Three more months and you can go back to your normal clothes. I'm sure you'll slim right down.”

Maria nodded, “I did with Tony.”

Steve tapped Tony on the shoulder so he'd look up and then snatched a kiss, making Tony laugh.

“Has Howard gone to any birthing classes with you?”

Maria shook her head, placing a hand on her stomach, “He's still away for work. But Tony came to a few.”

“Gross.” Tony mumbled, picking up a toy that rattled so he could shake it in Steve's face. Steve leaned down and pecked Tony's forehead. Neither of them expected their mothers to suddenly change course and turn around, catching them in that kiss.

“Oh.” Maria said, only slightly shocked, “You two just..keep getting friendlier, don't you?”

“Didn't Tony tell you?” Sara asked, glaring over at him, “First you don't tell me, then you don't tlel your own mother. These two are a couple now!”

“What? Really?”

“It's not that big of a deal.”

“Of course it is.” Their mothers said in unison.

“Mom-”

“Why did't you say something? How long?”

“Months!” Sara exclaimed.

“Mom,” Tony whined, “don't tell Dad.”

Sara sighed,“Ugh, Steve said the same thing, why do these boys have such little faith in their fathers?”

Tony's face was starting to get red, the way it did before a panic attack, so Steve wrapped an arm around his shoulder, “It's okay, they'll be too busy talking about it with each other to speak to anyone else.”

Tony exhaled, looking at Steve with terrified, wild eyes.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Bruce rounded the corner into the locker room, shrugging his bag on his shoulder. He'd been out of school for a few days to let the swelling on his face go down, he knew his face still looked bad but he'd already been missing too much school and he didn't want teachers to start asking questions. He pushed through the bodies until he reached his own locker, trying not making eye contact with Tony as he passed. He pulled out his gym clothes begrudgingly, hating the need for the physical class.

Tony shut his own locker and leaned against the rest, crossing his arms over his chest, “You alright?”

Bruce nodded as he pulled off his shirt, “Mhm.”

Tony made a face as he nodded back, “Gotta warn me if you're gonna disappear for days. Thought maybe you'd eloped or something.”

Bruce glanced over at Tony then back to the shorts he was messing with. Tony rolled his eyes and looked back over his shoulder at Steve, who was laughing with another group, “Listen, if you need somewhere--what's with the face?”

Bruce glared at him, sighing before he answered, “You don't really have a home to be offering up.”

Tony almost laughed out of shock, “Well excuse me.”

They both straightened when Steve came over, “Hey, Man, were you sick?”

Bruce nodded, knowing Steve must know something was up, every other month he'd skip and that must look strange. But then again, he didn't seem to know what was going on with Tony and they were suppose to be best friends, so maybe not.

“You gonna be okay to do this then?” Steve nodded towards the door.

“I'll be fine.” He shrugged as they started out toward the exit door with the other students,everyone in their gym clothes, most still smelly from their previous uses that had never been washed. Bruce felt nervous after snapping at Tony, this was his only friend and he knew Tony could spill his secret. But Tony didn't seem to care anymore, didn't even seem to remember, but that's how he was about everything, so maybe Bruce was wrong and maybe he was just overreacting.

“Great.” Steve rolled his eyes as they walked onto the field.
“What?” Bruce asked, looking between Steve's exasperated face and Tony's gloat.

“My soccer coach is our substitute today,” He sighed in response, “You haven't been around for this yet, Tony always ends up in a fight with him.”

“Dickface thinks I should participate.” Tony chuckled.

“Which just seems preposterous, doesn't it?” Steve rolled his eyes again, “How dare he assume Tony Stark should do work.”

“I'll do work, I'm just not going to kick a ball around for him.”

Bruce didn't know how Tony could stand up to an adult like that, especially for such a trivial reason, just hearing about it made him uncomfortable.

“Alright, Chase isn't here so today you're going to be doing soccer drills.” Coach Logan said as the class grouped around.

“Shocking.” Tony mumbled, rolling his eyes up at Steve.

Logan glared over at Tony, “Is that your mouth I hear, Stark?”

“Of course it is. I don't like the way you're sneaking a practice into my class time.”

The older man glared at the teenager with eyes full of loathing, “The rest of you will be doing soccer drills, while Stark does laps for the rest of the period.”

Tony rolled his eyes and started stretching along with the rest of his classmates. The coach always said it like it was some sort of punishment, but thanks to his father the all powerful Howard Stark, Tony wasn't allowed to participate in this sort of activity, it was written in a file somewhere. Of course, as he always did, Steve gave Tony a slight bump which made him lose his balance. Tony straightened and gave Steve a small kick, realizing afterward that he'd stood up too fast, feeling dizzy for a moment.

“Alright, pair up and get a ball. Stark, get going.”

Tony made a face back at the coach as he started jogging toward the track.

“And pick up the pace! No walking, Stark.”

“You know my name, I get it!” Tony yelled over his shoulder, “I feel very special.”

He kept his slow jog until he heard Coach Logan return to the class, then he started to get into an actual run. His joints hurt today, every time his feet hit the track his knees ached. He glanced over toward the class as he completed his second lap, watching Steve dribble the ball between people. Steve always stood out in a crowd, he was always better than everyone, he couldn't help but be the star.

In the last couple of months their relationship started changing, instead of getting closer to Steve he felt like he was pulling himself away. Now that they were a couple he couldn't stand lying to Steve, he couldn't stand the way Steve pretended not to know something was wrong and he hated the way Steve just wanted to love him regardless.

In the last couple of months his mother had changed into a completely new person, someone he didn't recognize except from childhood memories he'd thought he'd made up in his head, someone nurturing and happy. It was confusing, he didn't know the patterns anymore and he didn't know when the ground was going to drop out from under them. She was finally acting like a mother, even if it took a whole other kid to make it happen he should be happy but he wasn't.

In the last couple of months his father had been away on business trip after business trip, they didn't see a lot of him and when he was home he ignored Tony. It felt like both parents were too busy for him now and even though he had a surrogate family in the Rogers and Steve was a little too much affection sometimes, he felt disregarded.

He continued to run even though it was getting hard to breathe, harder than it should have been. He kept running when his chest started to ache, causing a tightness in his throat. His feet stumbled a bit when his vision got fuzzy but he tried to keep up the pace. When the world tilted it was too much, his eyes blurred and then his head was slamming against the ground.

It took a moment for anyone to notice, they were all preoccupied with the soccer drills. Even Steve didn't notice at first, but then when he didn't see Tony around the track he stopped to look around. He started to panic a little when he looked all around and didn't see him.

“Rogers! What are you doing?”

Steve turned back toward the adult, “Tony.” He knew it sounded stupid but he realized as he spoke that maybe Tony had snuck off and he shouldn't be drawing attention to it.

The coach grimaced, muttering something about the damn kid as he whirled around to search. Now the entire class had stopped and was glancing around. Someone gasped and pointed and Steve turned, finally seeing Tony on the ground. He bolted before Coach had time to say anything, running as fast as he could to Tony's body.

He dove to the ground, afraid to touch him once he'd reached him,“Tony!”

“Rogers, don't move him!” Coach Logan called as he jogged over.

“He's unconscious!”

Don't touch him!”

 

 

 

“I'm fine,” Tony sighed, rolling his eyes as the nurse continued to look him over. The soccer coach kept starting at him, his arms crossed over his chest, “Just dehydrated.”

Definitely dehydrated.” The nurse replied, giving him a strange look.

“Why didn't you say you weren't feeling well?” Logan asked, his usual disapproving glare even more intense, “I wouldn't have let you run.”

“I'm fine.” He repeated, instinctively pulling away as the nurse touched his neck. There was a knock on the door and his mother was ushered into the room, Steve at her heels.

“Rogers, I told you to go to class!” Logan growled.

“No! I'm not going anywhere.” Steve snapped back, pushing past the adult to follow Maria.

“You called my mother?” Tony demanded.

Maria rushed toward Tony, grabbing his face in her hands and looking him over, “Honey, what happened? Are you alright? They said you fainted?!”

Fainted.” Tony repeated, making a face at the way it sounded, “I'm fine, Mom. They're making a bigger deal out of it-”

“He was running laps when he collapsed.” The coach answered, forgetting for a moment that he was trying to kick Steve out, “Laps he's always been able to do before.”

“Oh, Tony.” Maria sighed, running a hand through his hair, “Darling, what happened?”

“I just got a little dizzy.” Tony sighed, trying to pull out of his mother's grasp, “I jut pushed myself too hard.”

“What's your sleep schedule been like? How's his diet?” The nurse asked, turning to his mother.

Tony rolled his eyes again, “I sleep fine, I eat fine, I am fine. Can I go to class?”

“You do not eat fine.” Steve scoffed.

You get to class. You can't be any help right now.” Logan said, pushing Steve out the door.

“I need to know he's okay.”

“He'll be fine, get out.”

“See, I'm fine. Can I go?” Tony asked, trying to slide down from the seat.

“You're not going back to class today.” His mother shook her head as she pushed him back up, “Honey, you passed out, that is not alright! You're not going to just brush this off.”

“I would really recommend taking him to see your personal doctor. He seems okay for the moment, but this is something you have to take seriously. He might very well be anemic, they'll want to do tests for that.”

“Of course.” She nodded, looking back at him with nervous eyes.

Steve was waiting around the corner when they exited the nurse's office, he'd been pacing and he rushed forward when he saw them.

“Are you okay? What happened? What-”

“I'm fine, I'm fine.” Tony reassured as Steve pulled him into his arms, he looked so upset, “I just needed water.”

“You're an idiot, I was freaking out, Tony. They wouldn't tell me anything and-”

“I'm fine! I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to scare you.”

“I said something like this would happen, you need to take care of yourself.”

“It's okay.” Tony said, nodding as he grabbed Steve's hand, squeezing it in his own, “I'm okay.”

 

 

 

“I dont need to go to the doctor's.” Tony huffed as he pulled the car door shut.

Darling.” His mother sighed, giving him a pointed look.

“I just pushed myself too hard, it was my own fault.”

She frowned as she settled herself into her seat, having to adjust around her pregnant stomach, “Honey, I really don't think we should just..what if something is wrong? We can't just overlook this like it didn't happen.”

“I'm fine. I was just dehydrated.” He repeated the same excuses he'd been spouting before, “We don't have to tell Dad.”

She glanced over at him, “They called both of us, Tony.”

His face fell and he turned his head away, “Shit.”

“Oh, honey, he won't be angry with you for being ill.”

“I'm not ill,” He muttered, lifting his hand to his mouth to bite at the nail on his middle finger as he stared out the window, “I don't need to see the doctor.”

She glanced over again, her frown deepening, “Honey, you've been looking so thin, if there's something wrong-”

“How would you know? You just checked yourself back into my life a couple of months ago. Do you even remember how I looked seven months ago?”

“Anthony,” She sighed, Tony throwing a glare at her when she used his full name, “I know I haven't always been around for you but I'm trying to make up for that now.”

“Now that there's another another child you want to get the parenting right..” He mumbled, raising his hand back to his mouth to bite at his nails.

“I know you're angry.” She replied, keeping her eyes on the road. She paused for a moment before continuing, “Peanut does too, she started kicking when your tone changed. You don't like big brother mad, do you?” The way she cooed down at her stomach made Tony chuckle, “When you get here you better tell him what's what.”

“I'm sure she will. You'll spoil her and she'll turn into a brat.”

“And there will be the family resemblance.” She laughed, giving his leg a shake.

 

 

 

“What happened?”

“He passed out while running in gym class.” Maria answered, watching Tony pass by them.

“Hey, you get back here.” Howard snapped, pointing a finger at the teenager. Tony pivoted and stomped back over, “What happened?”

“Can't I go nap? I'm tired.”

“The nurse thinks we should take him to see the doctor.”

Howard nodded, still glaring over at Tony, looking him over like he could find the cause, “Obviously can't take care of himself.”

Tony rolled his eyes as he plopped himself down on the sofa, “It's not that big of a deal.”

“Don't you play it off. I told you to fix your act, I told you what would happen.”

Maria sighed and shrugged off her coat, “I'll drop him off when I go to my next appointment.”

“I don't need to go to the doctor's.”

“You're going to get more than that. If you can't feed yourself properly we'll get you a live in nurse to make sure it happens.”

Tony tightened his lips as he glared up at his father, “Because it'd be too much of an inconvenience to do the parenting yourself?”

Maria shook her head as she left the room, having had enough of Tony's attitude and not wanting to hear her Husband's anger. Howard glanced in her direction then back to the teenager on the couch, “I mean it, if you don't-”

“Go ahead.” Tony snapped, crossing his arms over his chest in a petulant manner, “Get a nurse, get me a shrink while you're at it. Let's get all my problems out in the open for a professional to see.”

His father's face didn't change but his shoulders rolled back and his eyes narrowed slightly, “Is that what you want?”

Tony rolled his eyes and pulled himself up from the couch, “I'm going to go nap.”

“Eat something first.” Howard sighed, rubbing his eyes, “Please, eat something with sustenance.”

Tony looked away, hating the change in his father's voice, hating how gentle he could sound, “Why should I?” He asked defiantly.

Howard frowned at him and started mumbling as he turned away, “Too much like your goddamn Mother. Living with you two is like-”

“Yes, your life is so horrible.” Tony muttered rolling his eyes as he fell back onto the sofa. He crossed his arms and curled up so he was facing away, “Life is really rough for you, isn't it, Daddy?”

His father glared at his back, “You think I want-”

“I don't think he should be running anymore.” Maria said as she came down the hall, “Not for a while anyway. There's no point if he's just going to get hurt.”

Howard nodded, “Send him to bed.”

“I'll sleep where I like.” Tony grumbled into the sofa cushion.

Maria looked over at him with worry on her face, “Honey, you might be more comfortable upstairs.”

“Fine! You obviously know better than I do what I need.” Tony sat up and huffed as he stood and stomped down the hall.

Chapter Text

 

“How'd the appointment go?”

Steve asked, cradling the phone against his shoulder as he glanced over at the college brochures on his desk, University of Maryland and Albany resting on the top of the pile of course. His father kept dropping off college information like it was subtle or something. He gave them a small swipe which sent them down into the trash.

Tony made a noise, “A lot of questions, not too much poking. Annoying.”

“Mm. What'd they say.”

“They took blood, want to make sure I'm not anemic.”

Steve grabbed his sketch book before he sat down, flipping it open to a new page, “I just don't get how you can be so apathetic about all of this. I'd be freaking out.”

“Well, we're different people, Babe.” Tony sighed, his tone annoying Steve. Tony had been trying to blow off the whole situation since it'd happened.

“Mhm, no kidding.”

“Hey, at least I'm out of gym for a while.” Tony chuckled.

“You're stupid.”

“You're the one who's into it. What are you drawing?”

Steve smiled, loving that Tony knew him so well, “Just scribbles.”

“Mhm, just scribbles.” He mocked.

 

 

 

“Doctor Xavier thinks maybe he should see someone.” Maria said softly, as if she didn't really want to say it.

Howard frowned, “See someone? Isn't that what you did today?”

She made a face and shifted her shoulders, “He said he was worried about Tony's emotional stability. He said he should talk to a professional, said something about an eating disorder—I told him there was no way—but I don't know, he has been really dark and moody lately. It might not be a terrible idea to let him go talk to someone.”

Howard's one eyebrow had raised up into an arch as she spoke, trying to beat around the actual conversation, “Anthony.” He called, knowing the teenager was near by. Tony poked his head in, looking annoyed at being summoned.

“What?”

“Do you want to go talk to someone about why you're so moody?”

Tony looked shocked at the question but quickly regained his attitude, “No.”

“Are you sure? Your mother's worried and thinks you'd benefit.”

“Nope,” Tony answered, turning back in the other direction.

“Howard-”

“He's seventeen, of course he's moody. It's not like this is a new phenomenon with him.”

Maria's frown deepened, “If there's something wrong-”

“There's nothing wrong with me.” Tony griped, rounding the corner to reenter the room.

“Honey, I just mean that if you're-”

“I don't need fixing, Mom!” He snapped, crossing his arms over his chest angrily.

Howard rolled his eyes, “If he doesn't want-”

“I don't need fixing.” Tony repeated, glaring at his father, “There's nothing wrong with me, why would talking my feelings out help? I passed out, it's not like I brought a gun to school.”

Howard gave a pointed look over at his wife then tilted his head back over to the teenager.

Maria sighed, placing a hand on her stomach in a protective manner, “Well then maybe he shouldn't be doing so much running.”

Howard expected Tony to use that opportunity to agree but he only aimed his hateful glare back at his mother, “Stop trying to parent me. You're not right for the role.”

“Anthony.”

“Now that there's a new baby on the way she wants to pretend she knows how to mother me. Go ahead and try with the second but you don't get a do over with me.”

She sighed again, crossing her arms and sinking into herself, “I'm sorry, honey.”

He rolled his eyes slightly, hating when she tried to make everything better with an apology, “Whatever.”

Howard gave a slight shrug as his wife looked back at him with a helpless expression, “Maria, he's a teenager.”

“He's always so angry.”

“The word is angsty.” He replied as he sank down into his chair.

“Howard, go talk to him. I don't want him to think..just go talk to him.”

Howard made a noise as he picked up a paper, “Should leave him alone.”

Maria frowned over at him, “Howard, please!” Her voice pitching up.

He sighed and stood before she could start really whining. During her pregnancy he'd tried to stay away from any of her hormone bursts.

Upstairs Tony had collapsed on the floor of his walk in closet out of anger. His arm was draped over his eyes when his father knocked at the door.

“Go away.”

“Well it must be ten years ago, because I hear a seven year old.”

Tony looked up as his father's face poked around the door to the closet, he scowled up and rolled away onto his front, “I'm busy.”

“I can see that.” Howard nodded, accompanied with an eye roll, “She's upset now, thank you for that. Between your hormones and her hormones...” He shook his head as he leaned against the door. He looked down at the teenager sprawled out on the floor, “I think it's time for a break from running.”

Tony turned his head over his shoulder, looking up questioningly at his father, “Really?”

“Well, you obviously aren't benefitting from it anymore.” He answered with another sigh, crossing his arms over his chest as he glanced over his shoulder, “I don't want you to get hurt. When was the last time Jarvis was in here? You're never in here, how do you make it messy?”

Tony let a smile slip as he sat up, “Really no more running?”

Howard nodded, looking back at his son, “If you take it easy on your Mother. You're upsetting her and while she's-”

Tony whined as he stood, “I knowwww. I don't mean to..” He scowled as he walked past, “She just get's on my nerves.”

Howard reached out and cupped the back of Tony's head, pulling him back gently, “She's trying.”

The teenager made an unattractive face as leaned into his father, “I wish she wouldn't.”

Howard sighed, not really wanting to talk about this. He was very aware of how bitter Tony was about his Mother's drinking. He pulled Tony closer, wrapping an arm around his middle while the other was resting at the back of Tony's neck.

“I don't understand her anymore.” Tony mumbled into his father's shoulder, Howard giving Tony's temple a quick kiss before Tony pulled away. He gave his father's ankle a light kick as he turned into the room, knowing his father was watching him move. Sometimes he liked knowing the power he had over his father, a man who held such authority. He knew his father would stop what he was doing to watch him walk across a room and there was something empowering about that half of the whole situation.

He turned as he sat on the bed, giving his father a pointed look, “I'm not going to talk to a shrink.”

Howard nodded, watching Tony lean back onto his elbows,“I won't ask you to.” He strode across the room, his feet silent under him as he moved. He reached out to brush a thumb over Tony's lips, his hand coming across to cup Tony's hollowed cheek.

“Of course not.” Tony answered, tilting his head.

His father frowned, stroking Tony's face, “Are you trying to tell me something with this?” Dragging his thumb across Tony's lower lip again, “Am I not paying attention the way you want?”

That night when they came together again in that room they pretended the earlier conversation had never happened.They both were always so quiet, neither wanting the others in the house to hear them. On his knees, Tony pressed his face against the mattress, eyes shut as he gripped at the crumpled sheets. Being silent meant being focused, focusing on the situation. Too much focus and he'd get upset and throw them both off but letting his mind wander was another problem in itself. This was one of those times.

Somehow he'd let himself think of Steve, trying to think of something nice, nice Steve. But as his father's grip tightened on his hips he couldn't help thinking of how much Steve would hate him if he knew. Steve would despise him, he'd be so disgusted. What would happen if Bruce told? If he ever guessed or saw? What would his life be without Steve?

His chest tightening, he tried to pull himself up and away but with his father's hands on his hips and the intensity of their movement he couldn't.

He couldn't breathe, he couldn't, “I-I..Dad..stop..Stop!” He kicked at his father's leg and thrashed away, falling off the bed to the floor. He gasped and sputtered, crawling away as if that would fix it.

“Tony!”

“I-I...I can't.” He tried, looking up pleadingly at his father who looked completely perplexed at what had just occurred. He clawed at his chest, trying to ask for help and trying to fix it all on his own at the same time. Howard frowned and stood with a sigh, kneeling down beside the panicking teenager.

“Calm down.”

“I can't!” He cried with perfectly clarity before he started choking again, “Ugh..”

Howard reached out, cupping the back of Tony's head to pull him close, “Shh. You're fine.”

He listened to Tony gasp and felt the wet tears on his cheeks, feeling more uncomfortable by the minute.

As if suddenly just realizing his father was holding him, Tony yanked away, hissing, “Don't..touch me.”

Howard stared at Tony as he shrank away, shaking as he tried to form a normal breathing pattern, “What happened?”

Tony shot a glare at him as he gasped and wiped at his face, unable to control the tears now. He was upset that it had happened and he was upset that his father was trying to comfort him and being upset in front of him was upsetting Tony even more. He covered his face and willed himself to calm down, trying to recreate the counting that Steve insisted worked. Thinking of Steve again did nothing to help. He looked up, seeing his father staring at him with a sad expression, “You don't want this anymore, do you?” The words shocked Tony and he didn't know how to respond. He stared back at his father, his heart creeping up into his throat. Howard sighed, shaking his head as he slumped back a little, raising a hand to his mouth, “Of course you don't.”

He stood and started putting his clothes back on, Tony still staring at him as he moved. Howard glanced back over at the teenager, “Get dressed.”

“Dad..” He wanted to apologize, why he didn't know. He suddenly felt like a child again, feeling the need to please his father.

“Get dressed, Tony,” He repeated, sitting in a defeated manner back onto the bed. There was a moment where neither of them spoke and then Howard sighed, “Did you ever want this?”

Tony opened his mouth to speak but found he had nothing to say, so he stood and started picking up his clothes. His father let out another deep sigh as he stood, he moved over to Tony and cupped his chin to look him in the eye.

“It's eating you up inside too, isn't it?” He said, more as a comment than a question. He inhaled and nodded, like he'd made a decision, he then turned and exited the room, closing the door quietly behind him. Not long after Tony crept down the hall to his Mother's room where he slipped into bed with her. He'd tried to be as quiet as possible so he wouldn't wake her but the shift in weight on the bed had her up instantly.

“Tony?” She asked, sitting up when he snuggled close, “Are you alright?”

“I'm sorry, Mom.” He mumbled, nuzzling his face into one of her pillows, “I'm sorry I've been such an ass lately.”

“Oh, honey.” She shushed, wrapping an arm around him and planting a kiss on his forehead. He clung close to her through the night like he used to after a nightmare.

Chapter Text

 

In the morning Tony found his mother in the kitchen, bouncing around and instructing Jarvis in breakfast. Some days she was so manic it was like watching a different person.

“Good morning, Sweetheart.” She cooed when she saw him, smiling at him like she was seeing a two year old toddle in, “We made up waffles, you used to love them so much. So I thought that if we only make things you love-”

“Yeah, okay.” He nodded as he sat down at the island counter.

“Oh,” She responded, obviously she had been expecting more of a fight from him. She slid a plate over to him with a big smile, “Well, good, I'm glad we found something you want.”

He nodded again, still drowsy from sleep, “Where's Dad?”

“He had to leave early, he got called to go to Italy. He didn't know how long he'd be.”

“Well that's nothing new.”

“Well, more time for you and I, Darling.” She replied, cupping his chin and planting a kiss on his forehead, “Oh, he left something for you on the table.”

He frowned in confusion as he turned to stand. His frown deepened as he reached the table and picked up the key that rested there, “What is this for?”

“I believe the rest is out front.” Jarvis commented. And just as he'd said, the mercedes the key was meant for was out front.

Tony returned, frowning in confusion, “A car? Dad got me a car?”

“Apparently.” Maria shrugged with a pleased smile, “You've been asking for one since you were fourteen.”

“Thirteen, Ma'am.” Jarvis noted.

“What happened to I'm not mature enough?” Tony asked, still frowning, “It's always been no..”

His father had never thought he was old enough or mature enough for a car, but Tony had always known it was really about giving Tony a means of escape. They both knew a car was a way for Tony to run away if he dared.

She patted his hand as she passed, “I guess he thinks you are, Sweetheart. Just enjoy it, go pick Steve up in it.”

 

 

Tony couldn't resist honking the horn and the look on Steve's face as he poked his head out was worth it. Steve grabbed his bag and headed out the door, “Uh, hi? What's this?” He asked as hepulled the door open and plopped down into the passenger seat.

“Easter bunny.” Tony shrugged.

“Is this a 2014 model?” He asked looking around.

“Mhm.” Tony nodded as he backed into the street, “Can't tinker with this lady.”

“Yeah,” Steve nodded, making a slight face, “This definitely isn't the simple junker you've been asking for. But I mean, you can still mess with other machines.”

Tony shot Steve a slight glare, “It's not the same, you don't understand.”

“You're a brat, be happy you got a car.”

“I am, I am. It just tells me how little he actually pays attention. I just don't know what Dad's trying to say with this gesture.”

Steve raised an eyebrow, feeling the dashboard, “Wish my parents would try a gesture like this.”

“Alright you can have this and I'll dismantle your jeep, sound good?”

“You're stupid.”

 

 

Ms. Hill looked up suddenly, realizing the room was a little too quiet. She looked around to get a better view and called, “Tony Stark, what are you doing?”

Tony shot her an angry glare over his shoulder, “Nothing! What? I'm not even allowed to be silent anymore? Please tell me what I am allowed to do.”

She scowled back at him, “Mhm, just keep it that way.”

Tony huffed as he whirled back around, “Can't do a goddamn thing.. can't even be quiet in this goddamn-”

“Shush.”

“You'd get pissed off too if everyone always thought you were doing something wrong.” Tony hissed, throwing one of Steve's erasers across the table at him, “I can't even be quiet, it automatically means I'm up to something.”

“Well..” Steve shrugged, grabbing the eraser before Tony could chuck it again. Bruce smirked as Tony tried to kick Steve under the table. Ten minutes later Tony was still sore, glaring down at the paper he was working on. He kept making loud noises on the table and throwing things on the floor to bother the study hall monitor.

“Tony! I know that's you.”

“Well who else would it be?!” He snapped.

“I don't think I want you doing my homework if you're going to be like this.” Steve mumbled, grabbing the paper from Tony.

“Give it here.”

“Someday I'll have to do my own, you know. You let Bruce do his.”

“Bruce is going to be a physicist someday,” Tony answered, “you, my Darling, are going to be a famous artist. So you keep drawing and leave the science to us.”

Steve scowled slightly and glanced over at Bruce, “Sounds like he's talking down to me.”

Bruce smiled and nodded, mumbling, “A little.”

Bruce thought it was funny how the two pretended they weren't enchanted with each other while at school. Even before they had secretly made their relationship official, everyone had always been calling them a couple. So when they would act as if they were just friends, it came off silly.

“Listen, Babe, you're good at many things, but science is not one of them. There's no shame in that, now give me the paper.” He dove across the table and yanked the paper back. Steve shrugged, picking up his pencil once more to continue drawing. He'd been doing a sketch of Tony, as usual, drawing the curve of his ear with so much attention and care as if they were his favorite part of Tony.

 

 

 

“Hey, Pretty Lady.” Steve greeted, smiling as Betty walked nearer.

“Hi.” She responded, glancing at Bruce with a cool expression, “Heard the last game went really well.”

“You could call it that.” He nodded with a chuckle. The last basketball game had been a very big win for the school and was all anyone could talk about, “Coach is happy at least.”

Tony made a face, getting bored by the very mention of basketball. Just when one sport ended the next one started up for Steve, “Meaning all is right in the world.”

“Someone's jealous of my skills.”

Betty smirked, “Bet he's jealous he doesn't get to spend so much time with you.”

He could if he'd come watch me play.” Steve mocked, poking Tony in the side.

“More running up and down after a ball.” Tony shrugged. The entire conversation Betty had refused to look in Bruce's direction and when she left she only said goodbye to Tony and Steve.

“Well..” Steve said, trying not to chuckle, “What'd you do to her, Bruce?”

He shrugged, mouth hung open as he shook his head in confusion, “I..”

“She seemed a little..miffed.”

Tony rested his head against Steve's shoulder for a moment, “Well, maybe since you haven't asked her out yet she thinks you're uninterested. I'd be pissed too.”

Bruce looked like he was going to cry, “But I...I can't.”

Tony rolled his eyes with an enormous sigh, wrapping an am around Bruce's neck to steer him down the hall with them, “Brucy. I know you dig your silence, but girls need a little more than a few head nods. Take a sign language class together or something--”

“That'd be a creative date.” Steve nodded.

“--but the way it is now obviously isn't working for her.” Tony continued as if he hadn't even heard Steve, “Maybe you should start sending her letters, she'd find that romantic and you'd be able to control the conversation that way.”
“Aww,” Steve cooed, “That's adorable. How come you never get romantic with me?”

Tony stuck his tongue out in response, “Shut up.”

 

 

“You're such a strange child.” Sara sighed, glancing over her shoulder as Tony was putting three hotpockets in the microwave at once, “They serve you lamb over at your house yet you'd rather eat processed cheese poptarts.”

Steve laughed, “Yeah, he's white trash at heart. He's not even happy with the brand new mercedes he got.”

Tony shot them both an unimpressed look then went back to staring at the microwave like a cat in front of a fish bowl, “The car's fine.”

Steve made a face at his mother, “It's fine.”

“Glad to see you've found your appetite again.” Sara commented. They were both pleased to see him eating, even if it looked like a binge.

“When's your father coming home?”

Tony shrugged with a mumble, “I dunno.”

“Your Mom says he's in France now?”

“Yeah.” He nodded, bouncing a little when the food was done. He handed one to Steve and took the other two for himself. Steve's mother sighed slightly and decided to stop trying with the teenager, he obviously wasn't going to give anything. She heard them laughing at each other as they exited the kitchen.

“Gah, they're hot.”

“Hotpockets.” Steve sang, as he plopped down on the couch, “Dumbass, wait a second to shove your face.”

Tony made a face as he threw his legs over Steve's lap, “Shut up. I'll eat yours too.”

“Mhm.” Steve smirked, leaning forward to give Tony a light kiss. Tony scrunched up his nose and smiled, giving Steve's nose a quick smooch. Steve smiled at Tony's smile, that smile that could light up the whole town, “You're so cute, you know that, don't you?”

“Of course I do.” Tony grinned, scooting closer, almost on top of Steve's lap now. He loved how comfortable it was with Steve. He loved that he knew without a doubt that Steve loved him the way he was, that there was no sick desperation for his love because he knew it existed. It was real and normal and so comfortable.

“You're cute too.” He added, like it was an afterthought that made him laugh, “Like a big golden retriever.”

“Oh thanks.” Steve scowled, grabbing Tony's legs so he was yanked forward. Steve started tickling him, making him squirm and shriek. The tickling turned into kissing which led to making out on the couch. It'd gotten so much easier for them, feeling each other like sexual beings rather than just the best friends they'd always been. Since they'd always been so touchy it wasn't that big of a shift, something slight but so different.

Tony hummed against Steve's mouth, smiling into his lips, “When'd you get so good at this? How many people were you practicing this with before me?”

“Shush.”

Joe Rogers just happened to be passing through when they were making out and this is how he discovered their real relationship, “Uh.”

They both yanked apart, sitting up straight, both looking horrified, “Dad..”

“Uh, so..” His father stammered, obviously thrown, “has this been going on long?”

Steve stood, his hands balled into fists by his sides, “That's not how I wanted to tell you.”

Joe nodded, still frowning in confusion, “Well, that's good to know.”

“I'm sorry, I was going to..I'm sorry.”

Tony stood and scooted out of the room, feeling a panic attack coming on. Sara looked at him in concern, “You alright, Hon?”

He sucked in air through his nose, scowling in an attempt to stay calm, “Joe..he knows.”

“Oh.” She nodded, “Well, Honey it's not that big of a deal, Steve was just over-analyzing it. Joe will be fine with it.”

Tony shook his head, “My Dad can't know. He won't..he can't know.”

She walked over and pulled him into a hug, “Okay, okay. Then we won't tell him, it's alright, calm down. Honey, it's alright. I'll talk to him.”

In the other room, Steve's arms were crossed over his chest and he was back on the couch, “Yeah, Mom knows.”

“I bet she was jumping up and down.” Joe chuckled, leaning against the wall with his arms in a similar posture to his son's.

Steve smiled, “Yeah, she's pleased. I'm sorry, I just wasn't ready to tell you yet.”

His father nodded, “I understand....it's alright, you know. I just want you to be happy.”

“Really?”

 

 

“I can't believe they both know now.” Steve sighed, running his hands through his hair, “Ugh, that was stressful.”

Tony nodded, patting Steve's leg, “I told you he'd be fine with it.”

Steve shrugged, “Yeah, I know. I just...I dunno. I'm kind of glad it happened like that, I mean no I'm not happy he walked in while I was on top of you, but now I don't need to figure out how or when to tell him..”

Tony chuckled, leaning back onto Steve's bed, “You're stupid.”

“Shut up, this is new to me. The whole world knew you were gay coming out of the womb.”

Tony laughed, “Yeah, probably.”

“No probably about it.” Steve answered, lying back next to the other. They both sat back up at the knock on the bedroom door.

Sara entered, looking sober, “Tony, Honey, Jarvis is here.”

Tony's face fell, “Why? What happened?”

She sighed, as if the words were hard to get out, “Something happened with the baby, your mother had to be rushed to the hospital.”

 

Chapter Text

Sara glanced over at the boys, still sitting in those uncomfortable waiting room seats. Tony was still chewing on his nails, tapping his foot nervously while Steve stared at his shoes. She felt bad for both of them, Tony for obvious reasons but also for Steve, so unsure what to do to help the other. Steve wanted to make Tony feel better and fix the situation but there was nothing to do. She walked back over, patting Steve on the shoulder. He looked up at her helplessly then glanced to his left, Tony's eyes blank as he stared off.

Steve sighed exasperatedly and grabbed the hand Tony was chewing. He'd been at it since they'd arrived and now a couple of his fingers were bleeding, “Stop it.”

“Steve, honey, here. Go get waters for you and Tony.” She said, handing him some money. Reluctantly he did as he was told, looking back at Tony before he left. Sara sat down in Steve's vacant seat, taking Tony's hand in hers to examine the sore nails. She sighed, in a manner very similar to the way her son just had.

“Haven't seen you do this in a while,” She said softly, Tony still looking at the floor, “When you were younger, any time you were upset...so we'd put bandaids on your fingers. Some days you were such a nervous kid.. She's going to be alright, Tony.”

His lips tightened and he pulled his hand away, “For now.”

Steve had met up with his father on his way to get the drinks and now they were walking back together, “No he hasn't been talking.”

“Crying at all? He really isn't much of a crier, is he?” Joe murmured.

Steve shook his head, “No, he never cries. Probably trained not to.”

“He has those panic attacks though. That still happens, right?”

“One started when Mom first told us,” Steve nodded, “He makes it worse by trying to hold it in.”

His father nodded, both of them going through a period of silence as they walked, “He's got a lot going against him. There's a lot of self-loathing in both his parents.”

“Both? I thought it was just-”

“Yes both, Howard is just as bad as Maria.” Joe answered. And when Steve made a face of disbelief he sighed, “Your Mother doesn't want you to know, but a couple years back, when Maria was in the hospital and he was drinking a lot, I found Howard with a gun to his head.”

“Really? Does Tony know?”

Joe shrugged, “I don't know. They really aren't a family that shares.”

Steve frowned, glancing down as he took in the new information, “Both his parents have tried to kill themselves? Dad..that's so..”

He let his words die away as they rounded the corner where his mother and Tony were. She smiled when they came closer, getting up so Steve could reclaim the seat,“Thank you.”

Tony shook his head when Steve tried to hand him the water, “Come on, you need to stay hydrated.”

“I don't want it.” He mumbled, raising his hand back to his lips and chewing on the sore skin.

Steve took his hand and held it in his own, sighing at his inability to fix it for the other. They all looked up in unison, both the teenagers standing when the nurse they'd first seen came over to them. She wore a somber expression and every heart sunk.

“How is she? What's happening?” Tony demanded, still gripping Steve's hand. Squeezing like he was holding on for dear life.

“Mrs. Stark will be fine, there were complications but-”

“What about the baby?” Sara asked.

The nurse paused and then shook her head, “I'm sorry. This happens sometimes, there was nothing we could do.”

All three of the Rogers looked back at Tony, who looked like he was going to be sick.

“Oh, Tony..” Sara whispered, placing a hand on his shoulder. The nurse explained what had happened but Tony couldn't hear her anymore. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath, willing the darkness away. He breathed in through his nose and out through his mouth, his eyes still shut.

“Tony?”

He shook his head, backing up slightly, pulling his hand away from Steve's and wrapping his arms around himself.

“Tony, honey-”

“What happened?! Where is she?” Howard demanded, racing up to them.

Tony's eyes snapped open, his father looking panicked and angry.

“Howard..”

Tony's breathing started to really hitch in his throat and his father turned to him, looking confused, “What?”

Tony looked like he was holding back tears as he wilted against his father, “S-She..i-it's g-going..”

“I can't understand you.” Howard sighed angrily, looking down at Tony then up at the others, “What happened? Someone explain coherently.”

Sara's hand was covering her mouth, “They said Maria will be fine, but...the baby didn't make it.”

Howard sucked in his breath and closed his eyes, he lifted his arms to pull Tony closer.

“It's going to happen again. S-She..it's going to happen again!” His voice was just above a whisper but shrill, “S-She can't handle this. She needed..I-I'm not enough for her, she needed..she needed another baby.”

“Stop it.” Howard sighed, holding the back of Tony's head. Tony wasn't crying but he was making that choking sound that sounded an awful lot like crying, “She'll be fine. That's not going to happen.”

“Lily was g-going to fix everything for her. This w-will crush her, she can't handle this!”

“Stop.” He repeated, cradling the teenager in his arms as the Rogers just stared at them. He said the next words softly, “She needs us to be strong for her. You need to pull it together for her, Tony.”

Tony's shortened name sounded so strange coming from Howard to Steve, it was also surprising to see them embrace in such a way, he didn't think he'd ever seen it before.

“If he isn't ready yet, he can stay with us while you see her.” Joe offered, a hand on Steve's shoulder.

Howard sighed and looked down at the teen, “Can you handle this? I don't want you to upset her more.”

Tony nodded, breathing deeply, willing himself calm. His expression broke for a moment but he fixed it, “I...I want to see her.”

 

 

Tony stared at his mother, her head rested against the backboard, her eyes glassy stared blankly at the floor. Seeing her in a hospital bed again dragged up all the old fears the pregnancy had covered up. She'd been so happy and so lucid every day, he'd gotten used to it, the months of a real mother had been such a treat. And now there was no doubt in his mind what was coming next. She was slipping away before his eyes and it was breaking his heart all over again.

“Mama?” He asked softly, reaching forward to touch her hand.

She turned, her teary eyes looking straight through him, “They took Lily from me.” Her voice barely above a whisper, “They took my baby.”

The nurse and his father returned, the nurse crossing the bed to examine Maria. She turned her face away, not wanting to see the nurse's uniform. Tony stood, giving up the chair for his father to sit next to his wife. He crossed his arms over his chest and leaned against the wall, watching his mother wilt back into the sadness.

Howard glanced over his shoulder at Tony, the nurse's gaze following, “Are you alright, Hun?” She asked.

He was about to nod but his mother started whispering again, “My baby....”

Tony turned and exited the room, shoving his hands in his pockets as he paced down the hall. He walked until he was outside in the chilly air where he couldn't smell the sterile aroma of the hospital. He lit up a cigarette and sat on one of the benches, crossing his legs under him. He wished he'd gone home with the Rogers, wished his mother had never gotten pregnant, wished he could just fall asleep and never wake up.

Twenty minutes and three cigarettes later his father walked out of the hospital. Normally Tony would've flicked the cigarette away and pretend he'd never had one, but right now he just didn't care.

“I thought you quit.” Howard sighed, taking the cigarette from his fingers.

“Only when I'm stressed.” Tony answered, reaching up again and clicking his fingers for the retrieval of his cigarette, “You'd know that if you paid any attention.”

“I mean the nails.” His father replied cooly, taking a long drag.

Tony frowned in confusion and closed his hand, pulling it back, “I don't I just....only when I'm stressed.” He muttered the last part.

Howard glanced over his shoulder, “I'll call Jarvis to come pick you up.” And when Tony tried to object he continued, “You've had enough of this for one day.”

“How long are they going to keep her?” He asked, releasing a heavy sigh, “What's going to happen when she comes home.” Knowing the answer perfectly well, “She needed this. She needed a baby to take care of, she needed a second chance.”

Howard sighed, flicking the cigarette away, “She'll be fine-”

“You can't just say it and make it so.”

 

 

“I'm not telling you to dump him.” Joe sighed behind the wheel, “I'm just telling you that there are a lot of factors in that family. Tony's not in a stable place right now and you should be careful.”

“I don't even know what the hell you're talking about.” Steve griped from the backseat, “It sure sounds like you're telling me to dump him! And why would I just because he's going through a rough time? It's not like he brought this about-”

“Steve, that's not what I meant.”

Sara made an exasperated noise, “Would you two stop?”

“Talk to Dad, he's the one who wants me to dump my boyfriend for having a messed up family.”

“I know Tony's your best friend, but as a romantic interest..he's a really damaged kid and I think you're setting yourself up for some heartache there.”

Steve sneered and crossed his arms over his chest as he slumped back, “It's not really up to me who I fall in love with, Dad.”

He heard his father sigh and saw him roll his eyes in the rear view mirror. His mother looked over he shoulder sympathetically at him, “That's enough, you two. This isn't the time for that. We're all upset over what happened today.”

“Yeah I am upset,” Steve snapped, “and now I'm upset that Dad thinks I should go find a boyfriend without any emotional dimensions.”

“Steven, that isn't what I meant now stop.”

 

 

When Maria returned home it felt as if the pregnancy had never happened. She'd never had those months of delightful clarity. She came home the same old shell he'd grown to know as his real mother. He didn't know if he should try to stick around or stay away, he didn't know if he would be helpful or hurtful to her. She started drinking in between painkillers again and she stopped coming downstairs everyday.

And one night when she passed by him in the hall like she didn't recognize him, he went to the opposite side of the house and entered his father's room. Howard looked up, confusion written across his face as the teenager came in.

“What's wrong?”

Tony wanted to answer but he was afraid he was going to start crying. Howard's frown deepened when Tony just stood there not saying anything.

“Is your mother-”

“She knows there's something wrong with me.” Tony mumbled, his face scrunching up as he fought back his emotions, “That's why she doesn't care.”

Howard stared back at Tony, looking a little alarmed at the sudden flood of hormones.

Tony sighed angrily, crossing his arms over his chest and almost stomping, “God, it's two fucking years ago all over again. I want you to comfort me.” He gritted through his teeth.

“Oh, but you said..”

“Dad.” He whined, looking down at the floor, “..could you just..”

Howard sighed and stood, walking over to his son to pull him into an embrace. Tony hated himself for crawling back to his father's arms but he felt like a little kid again and he just wanted to feel a little affection from one of his parents.

 

 

Chapter Text

    Confession:      Days when it’s dead at work and they put me on the far register all by myself I end up writing fanfiction on receipt paper. This has happened on multiple occasions..      I’m not good at being an adult yet..

 

 

Both Steve and his father frowned when they entered the house, confused at the pounding music from the garage.

“What's that? You leave the radio on when you were last in there?”

Steve shook his head with a shrug. They carried the groceries into the kitchen where Sara was reading a magazine.

“You hear that right?” Joe asked, setting down the bundle of bags he had in his arms. As usual they'd grabbed all the bags, determined to only have to make one trip from the car.

Sara smiled at their arrival, “Oh, yeah, Tony's here.”

“In the garage?”

“Oh, no.” Steve mumbled, dropping his own bags, “my car..”

“He'd forgotten you had practice so he was just going to wait, but he looked like he needed to work through some stuff.” Sara answered, starting to unpack the groceries, “So I told him to go out there and play with something.”

Steve sighed, preparing himself for whatever mood Tony was in. He had stayed home for a week to watch over his mother, even though there were other people in the house with her. Steve knew Tony was grieving along with his parents, pretending he was the one keeping it together.

Steve turned and returned down the hall, entering the garage and wincing at the loud music. At first he didn't see Tony anywhere, the hood of the car open but Tony nowhere in sight. Then he saw the legs beneath the vehicle, one kicking out in frustration. He then pushed himself away, standing without any notice of Steve. His dark hair was sticking up strangely and he was covered in grease, wearing a charcoal tank top stained with the same grease. The shirt showed off the muscles in his shoulders, hugged his chest in a way that made Steve's stomach tighten. He looked so attractive as he fiddled with the jeep, his mouth moving in a silent mutter under the music as he leaned over the head of the car to peer into the machine. Times like this, when he looked so hot, made it so hard to pretend sex wasn't on his mind like every second of the day. He wasn't about to start pressuring Tony but he really wished he'd get over whatever was keeping them apart.

Steve smiled as he watched him, he didn't know what he was doing to his car but if it's what he needed then he didn't care, Tony obviously needed to control something right now.

Finally, Tony noticed him, chuckling in a moment of shyness. He rubbed his hands together, wiping the back of one of his hands across his forehead and smearing grease there. Steve laughed and walked forward, “Go grease lightning. What are you doing to my car?”

Tony glanced back over his shoulder at it with a small grin, “Making it better.”

Tony then started going off about all the things he'd done to improve the car. He spoke excitedly but he'd looked pretty unhappy while he'd been doing the work, angry in his own little world.

“Sorry I didn't ask.” He said, pulling his shirt over his head and wiping his face with it.

“Hm.” Steve nodded, shifting as he stared at Tony's bare torso, he'd been gaining his weight back and it allowed his attractiveness back into the picture, “You staying for dinner?”

Tony shrugged his shoulders, realizing he didn't have a spare shirt lying around the Rogers' garage, “Uh, if you want, can I have a shirt? I think I've ruined this one.”

Steve nodded, pulling off his hoodie and handing it over. He loved when Tony wore his clothes, the items always making him look so much smaller and cuter. Tony zipped up the sweatshirt up to his sternum, looking up at Steve as he plunged his hands into the pockets. He sighed and leaned forward, letting his head rest against Steve's chest. Steve wrapped his arms around the other, resting his chin on top of Tony's head.

“You okay?” He asked softly, rubbing his cheek against Tony's hair.

Tony leaned in closer, closing his eyes and pretending he could be silent forever like Bruce. For some reason Bruce's silence kept him safe from questions while Tony's silence encouraged questioning.

After a while Tony finally pulled away, shrugging to shift the hoodie on his shoulders, “You mentioned food?”

Steve sighed, taking Tony's hand in his, “I know you're not okay and I know you don't like to talk about that sort of thing, but whether you want to talk or not, I'm here. I'm here for you.”

“Stop being gushy,” Tony whined, sticking out his tongue and trying to wriggle away.

“Go ahead and ignore me,” Steve continued, still holding Tony's hand as Tony pulled them away, “but I feel better knowing I've said it aloud.”

“You're just like your mother,” Tony rolled his eyes as he dragged Steve down the hall.

What was that about his mother?” Sara asked, suddenly appearing from the laundry room.

“That she's beautiful.” Tony answered with a grin.

 

 

“Your Dad was giving me a weird look.” Tony mumbled as he flopped onto Steve's bed, instantly curling himself into a ball.

“That's just his face,” Steve replied, turning off the light and flipping the tv on before he slipped onto the bed as well. He slid his arms around Tony's body, giving a gentle pull to bring him closer. Tony wriggled for a second, bumping Steve's face before he settled. They were silent for a while, the sound of the tv keeping the room from feeling empty.

“How are things over there?” Steve asked softly, nuzzling his face into the back of Tony's neck, leaving tiny kisses on the skin.

Tony made a non-committal noise and shrugged against Steve's arms, “You need new tires on your car.”

Steve rolled his eyes and gave the other a squeeze, “I know things aren't okay, you never talk to me anym-”

His sentence was cut short when Tony turned to face him, leaning forward to kiss the other. Steve didn't argue, desperate for any touches Tony offered. The second Tony pressed against him it felt like his body was on fire, his stomach burning. He yanked Tony closer a little harder than he'd meant to, too eager to let their bodies meet. His lips anxiously met Tony's advance, his breath heavy as Tony let his hands roam over him. He couldn't help the groan the escaped his lips when Tony whined against him, pressing closer, his hands greedy for the other.

“Tony.” He breathed, kissing Tony's neck and sucking on his jaw. Tony hadn't shoved him off yet and he didn't know if that meant he should keep doing what he was doing or try something different. He tried to compromise and pulled Tony on top of him, thinking it would make him feel in control. Tony didn't object, leaning down and pulling Steve into a sitting position as he straddled him. Steve's hands slid to Tony's hips, maneuvering him into a roll over Steve's groin. He felt Tony tense and then he was trying to pull away.

“Wait, wait,” Steve said, pulling Tony back onto his lap so he could look at him, “I'm sorry, we don't have to do-”

“I'm sorry.” Tony mumbled, not looking Steve in the eye.

“Don't.” He answered, holding Tony's wrists so he wouldn't try to slip away again, “I should've asked or something,”—Tony shaking his head as Steve spoke-- “I'm not trying to pressure you, you know that right? I don't want you to...can you tell me why? Maybe if I knew I'd...I don't want to keep messing up like this and maybe if I understood..”

Tony looked up at him with an expression of helplessness, “I don't...I just can't...it's not, ugh..” He tried to slide from Steve's lap again but Steve just pulled him into a hug.

“Okay, you don't have to tell me. Just stop trying to run away.”

 

 

Bruce looked up in horror, terror flooding his body as the teacher looked back at him expectantly. He'd been paying attention but now his mind was blank. He didn't have an answer for the teacher and even if he did he wouldn't be able to.

“Well?”

Bruce shrank back in his seat, his shoulders rising defensively. The teacher, Mr. Summers, scowled over at Bruce, “Ugh, you need to open your mouth once in a while, Banner.”

Bruce looked down at his hands, trying not to shake. He hated when this happened at school. Tony frowned as he looked back and forth between his friend and the professor.

“You know what, I'm sick of the silent act.” Mr. Summers snapped, “You're going to write a separate essay and then perform it in front of the class. You can't go through life ignoring everyone.”

“Uh,” Tony's arm shot up as he started talking, “you're punishing him for not knowing one answer? Not everyone can be as amazing as me, let's lower the standards, man.”

“Be quiet, Stark.”

“Wait, wait.” Tony retorted, a laugh creeping into his voice, “You just punished him for living in his silent movie and now you're going to tell me to be quiet? A little consistency please!”

The entire class stared as Tony argued with the teacher, “This isn't your business.”

“It is my business when a fellow student is being punished for his personality.”

“Do you want an extra assignment too?”

“I could use one,” Tony snapped, leaning forward on the desk in an aggressive manner, “I'm a little bored with the whole class.”

And that's how Tony ended up in the principle's office that Friday.

 

 

“How about that!” Steve grinned, wrapping an arm around Tony's neck and yanking him in for an excited hug.

“Ugh, you stink.” Tony laughed, pulling away and making a face. Steve grabbed him and pulled him back and forced him close for his remark.

“Stink do I?”

He was still wearing his jersey from the game and smelly or not he still looked damn good in it. Tony always thought it was cute how excited Steve got after a win. He was always being the good captain, saying that winning wasn't what was really important but when it came to an actual win it seemed like nothing else mattered to him.

“I think I saw some of the other team crying.” Thor laughed, pouring the contents of his water bottle onto his face, still full of adrenaline from the basketball game. They'd all promised to go out whether they won or lost today but now the basketball players of their group were way too rowdy.

Betty complained at the spray, “Hey, man, watch it! Not all of us need a cool down.”

“Sure look hot enough for a cool down.” He chuckled, pulling her into a hug to cover her in the same gatorade. He laughed while she shrieked, Tony sticking his tongue out to Steve at the display. Steve glanced over at Bruce, who still looked shaken from the day.

“You okay, Bruce?” He asked, over Tony's head.

“Bruce had a run-in with, Summers.” Tony answered, making another face, “Yelled at him for not talking. Wants him to do a special presentation, now.”

Steve frowned, “Sorry, man. And I'm sure you got involved.”

Tony shrugged, fingers laced through Steve's unconsciously, “Someone had to stand up to him.”

“It's weird how you can do it to some people and not others.” Steve mumbled, changing the subject before Tony could retort, “That really sucks, Bruce. You'd think teacher's would get you by now.”

Bruce shrugged, hugging his arms around himself. Tony glanced at Betty, “Yeah, not everyone understands your selective mutism, do they?”

“Let Tony do your speech for you,” Thor suggested, grinning at his own clever words, “use his mouth for good instead of evil.”

“That's actually not a terrible idea.” Steve laughed, leaning down to kiss Tony's forehead, “Let's just order a pizza and take it somewhere.”

“YES!” Thor exclaimed, punching the air, “Then we can be as loud as we want!”

Betty had started out beside Natasha in the front of their group but eventually she hung back to walk next to Bruce. She saw his usual look of terror flood his face as she came around, so she looped her arm around his and dragged him to a faster pace.

“So,” She sighed, “I've figured out that if I want this to go anywhere, I'm gonna have to be the one to move it along.”

“..Huh?”

She rolled her eyes with a small smile, “Don't worry about it.”

Tony grinned and elbowed Steve in the ribs and mouthed 'YES!'

Thor went to get the pizza while the rest headed to the beach, Tony complaining about the cold and Natasha calling him a baby. Steve pulled off his jacket without a word and draped it over Tony's head. Natasha and Clint did gymnastics in the sand while the other four sat on some drift wood. Steve wrapped an arm around Tony to pull him closer and share some warmth, he loved how cute Tony looked in the bigger jacket. Anytime Tony wore some article of Steve's he loved it, it just made him look so small, Tony really wasn't that small, he just looked it next to Steve. Tony leaned into Steve, resting his head on his shoulder.

Betty stood, grabbing Bruce's hand and dragging him toward the water, “Come on, let's go try out the ocean.”

Bruce made an unhappy noise as he dug his heels into the sand. Betty laughed, knowing Bruce wanted to scream at her but he wouldn't. She screeched as her toes reached the water, he smiled at her reaction, catching her when she jumped back into his arms.

Tony and Steve grinned as they watched them, “Feeling proud of yourself, aren't you?” Steve asked, giving Tony's shoulder a nudge.

“Little bit. Aren't they cute?” Tony replied, snuggling against Steve for warmth, “Seriously though, he needs her. She'll boss him around and give him a social life.”

“Hmm.” Steve nodded, glancing over at Clint who was throwing Natasha in the air. There was a time of silence between them before Steve spoke again, “Am I doing something wrong?”

Tony sat up, “What?”

Steve sighed before he answered, “I just..I don't feel like I'm doing what you want. Whatever that is. I feel like you're just putting up with me, not dating me.”

“Don't be stupid.” He rolled his eyes, pulling out a cigarette for distraction, "You're the one putting up with me."

“Tony,” Steve sighed seriously, “I don't want you to just be pretending for my sake.”

Tony stared back at him, little change in his face, which worried Steve.

“You're a moron.” Tony replied, standing so he could fish out his lighter, kicking at the sand. He'd been waiting for Steve to come to this conclusion. He made an angry noise as he lit his cigarette, “I told you..months ago I said I didn't know how to-”

“I think you're just making excuses, I think you know exactly what you want in a relationship and-”

“Listen, you were the one who wanted in on this.” Tony snapped, getting defensive.

Steve pursed his lips, “So are you saying you don't want this at all?”

“Ugh,” Tony flicked his barely used cigarette away angrily, “I don't fucking need this.”

“No, you need me to tip-toe around you.” Steve answered, standing so he was at the same level, “You need me to pretend that you're fine and pretend that I don't see what's going on.”

An unimpressed expression painted Tony's face, one eyebrow slowly rising up into an arch. He crossed his arms over his chest, “Yeah, Steve, you sure know what's going on.”

“I return victorious!” Thor cried as he came down onto the sand with two pizza boxes in hand, “One for me and one for the rest of you.”

“That's some great math skills, you've got there, Bub.” Clint said as they grouped together.

Steve and Tony exchanged an angrily look before everyone circled around.

“Goddamn,” Tony mumbled, shoving his hands in the pockets of Steve's large jacket, “who's idea was it to come to the beach in this fucking weather.”

“I'll build a fire.” Steve mumbled as he turned away. Tony watched him walk away, regret suddenly filling his insides. He didn't want to hurt Steve and he didn't want to push him away either. Steve made him feel safe and normal.

“I also come bearing dessert,” Thor grinned, pulling out a bag of hash.

“My savior.” Tony beamed.

They set up a fire and ate their pizza in a circle, passing joints around in between slices. Tony snuggled up to Steve again, lifting up the blunt to Steve's lips, “Don't be mad at me.”

“I'm not,” Steve mumbled, backing his face away as Tony's hand came in too fast, “Easy there.”

“You are mad, you're always mad at me but you hold it in so I don't break.” Tony sighed, leaning on Steve's shoulder.

“Got stoned quick tonight, didn't you?” He sighed, unable to stay mad when Tony was so pathetically cute like this, “You still cold?”

“I'm trying to have a serious conversation here.” Tony whined, making Steve chuckle.

“Okay, I'm sorry, continue.” He apologized, leaning forward to kiss Tony's nose.

Tony's face scrunched up and he held up a finger, “No patronizing, please.”

“We should play a game.” Clint exclaimed, taking Natasha's crust and shoving it in his mouth.

“We already are, no one invited you.” She sniffed.

“Poor Clint.” Tony giggled.

Betty took Bruce's hand in hers and held in her lap, his face flushing with a small smile. He wanted to do something more, wrap his arm around her and pull her close, but as usual he couldn't move his body. So he did the only thing he dared and squeezed her hand in his, and he was proud of that.

 

Chapter Text

 

Steve went home that night and took his anger with Tony out on his parents, arguing with them about coming home so late which turned into a fight about college. Bruce and Betty didn't go home, they stayed at the beach for a few more hours, Betty talking for the both of them. Thor was driven home by Natasha with Clint's car.

And Tony returned home from the beach still stoned, ignoring the look Jarvis gave him. He always gave Tony disapproving looks, glancing over at him between organizing with a knowing expression that Tony hated. He knew what went on in the house, he was just as much a part of it as the family was, and Tony hated him for owning that knowledge.

He thought about going to the kitchen for food, but with a sigh he shook his head and headed up stairs. He wished he'd gotten drunk like everyone else, he wished he'd let himself get drunk like his mother. He knew for certain everything would be better if he'd just let go and let it happen. He shook his head again, trying to shake the negative thoughts. He passed by his mother's room, seeing no light peaking out from under the door made him wonder if she was in the unused baby's room. He poked his head in the next room, a soft light making the pink walls glow. She was sitting in the unused rocking chair, her head resting back. She looked up at him then back down at the little dress she was holding.

He leaned against the door frame, “I um, I miss her too. I dunno how..I miss someone I've never met..but um..”

His tongue just wasn't cooperating and the words weren't coming out correctly. Her eyes flicked up to him again with an expression he didn't recognize, “I know you all think it's my fault.”

His stomach dropped and he wished he could take back what he'd said. He kept fucking up tonight, first with Steve and now her. “No. No, Mom, no one thinks-”

“I know exactly what you were thinking. You think I'm a bad mother. You think I killed her. ”

He turned away and left her be, heading back down the hall the way he'd come. Listening to her like that was just too much. He went back down the stairs, intending to go outside and smoke some more but he ran into his father first.

He rolled his eyes as the lecture started, “What did I say about coming in so late?”

“I'm not coming in,” He sighed, crossing his arms,“I'm on my way back out.”

Howard reached out and took his chin, tilting his face up, “Are you high?”

Tony yanked away, “Are you drunk?”

The slap whipped Tony's face back, “Don't you speak to me like that. Who were you with?”

“Having an orgy with the basketball team. Who do you think?! I was with Steve and-”

“He's around you too much.”

“Oh my god,” Tony groaned, “it's Steve.

“Exactly, I've seen the way he looks at you.”

“Be thankful he doesn't see the way you look at me.” Tony snapped, taking a step back, “Just because you want to fuck me doesn't mean everyone else does.”

Howard grabbed him and yanked him forward, slapping the other cheek, “If you think-”

“Get off me.”

They both stopped as Jarvis passed by, making eye contact with him then back at each other.

Howard sighed like he had had enough of the teenager and held out his hand, “Give me your car keys.”

Tony scowled, “No.”

“If you're just going to use it to disobey me, you don't deserve it.”

He glared back at his father as he fished the keys out of his pocket, “There's a lot I don't deserve.” Dropping the keys in his father's outstretched hand, he turned away and headed back toward the stairs, planning to just smoke out his window. He glanced back at his father who was already moving on to something else, thinking about how he was going to lock his door behind him for the night. He wasn't going to give him the chance to “make up for it”.

He stomped up the stairs and down the hall, wishing he hadn't pissed Steve off so he could just go stay with him for the night. He locked his door and toppled onto the bed, burying his face in the pillow.

 

 

 

 

“Why aren't you driving your car?” Steve asked when Tony plopped into the passenger seat.

“Because.” He answered, crossing his arms over his chest like he was cold, sinking down against the seat. Steve made an angry noise that made Tony look over, “What?”

“So you're just not going to tell me anything? Ever again?” He angrily put the car in reverse, jerking them backward.

“What's your problem?” Tony frowned, placing a hand on the door to keep him stable.

“Same problem I've been complaining about, Tony. You don't want to give me any details of your life now.”

Tony stared at Steve for a moment, “Are you serious right now? My Dad took my keys, you happy? Enough details? No? Got busted for being high, got hit for coming in late, got yelled at by my mother for trying to talk to her. I now have to ask for rides. Good share? Everyone happy now?”

Steve sighed, hating how Tony could make him feel like shit so fast. He glanced away from the road to look at Tony's angry pouting face. Years of seeing the face, he was very aware that Tony had no idea his lips pushed up into a pout when he was upset.

“I'm sorry,” He mumbled, turning his gaze back to the road.

“You should be,” Tony replied with a lighter tone, “it's your fault we were out celebrating, Mr. Sports Star.”

“I just don't want you to lock me out of your life, Tony.”

“Mhm.”

“I shouldn't have to drag things out of you.” He said a little softer, reaching a hand over to touch Tony's. Tony glanced over at Steve, his features relaxing a little, feeling bad for exploding the way he had. He knew Steve just cared and wanted to be a part of everything and he shouldn't punish him for that.

“Have to keep having this same conversation..”

“I'm sorry.” Tony answered, curling his hand around Steve's, “I just...”

Steve looked over when Tony sounded like he was actually going to say something. And the moment Steve looked slightly more attentive, Tony shrank away from the words and went back to looking out the window. He raised his right hand and started chewing at a nail. He was starting to think he shouldn't be allowed to be around Steve unless he was stoned, he was nicer when he was high. He couldn't help being so angry all the time and Steve just didn't understand, Steve thought it was something he was doing.

He sighed and turned his head, “I'm not trying to be like this.”

Steve didn't answer at first, “Yeah, I know.” And he let a moment pass before he continued, “I love you anyway, you know.”

Tony nodded, looking out at the houses passing by, “You're crazy.”

“Masochistic.” Steve corrected with a smirk, earning a swat from the other.

 

 

 

 

Tony smirked down at his phone finding it funny that Betty's excited texts sort of read like an excited child. He walked down the hall without looking up like a true teenager, knowing the way by memory.

Tony: Let me guess. He didn't try anything?

Betty: I had to ask him out, you think he'd make the first pass? Psh.

Tony: Never know. He might be a freak underneath.

Tony looked up from his texts when he saw a person come into his path. He made an unimpressed face at his and pivoted into another direction when he saw his father.

“Anthony.”

“I'm busy.” He answered as he continued down the hall to the den.

He heard his father sigh behind him, “Tony.”

“Busy.” He repeated, turning into the room.

Howard followed behind him, making another sound like a sigh, “Tony, please.”

Tony looked up at the 'please', “What?”

“I'm sorry.” He started, reaching forward to touch Tony's face where he'd hit it the day before.

Tony turned away before there was contact, “Okay.”

“I was drinking.”

“Mhm.”

Howard reached out his hands and pulled Tony gently by his hips, forcing him backward so he could encircle him with his arms, “I'm sorry.”

Tony huffed, feeling trapped in his father's embrace, “I don't care.” He answered, sounding like a child. He felt Howard's hand on his thigh, putting something in his jeans pocket.

“Here are your keys.” He said softly, placing a kiss on Tony's neck.

He wanted to take them and throw them, but he didn't. He wanted to shove his father away, but he didn't.

“I'm sorry, Baby.” Howard said, barely above a whisper, kissing higher on Tony's neck before he turned him around, “I shouldn't have done that. You don't deserve that.”

Tony's arms were still crossed over his chest, still clutching his phone, “No, I don't.”

A tiny, tiny part of him, a part that he was barely aware of, enjoyed moments like this. When he held the control over his father. When he had the power to say no and make him regret his actions.

Howard cupped Tony's chin in his hand to lift his face, leaning forward to kiss his lips. Tony turned his head away defiantly so he could only kiss his cheek. And with this new angle he could see his mother standing in the doorway, staring back at him in horror.

Chapter Text

 

“I'm sorry, Baby.” Howard said, barely above a whisper, kissing higher on Tony's neck before he turned him around, “I shouldn't have done that. You don't deserve that.”

Tony's arms were still crossed over his chest, still clutching his phone, “No I don't.”

A tiny, tiny part of him, a part that he was barely aware of, enjoyed moments like this. When he held the control over his father. When he had the power to say no and make him regret his actions.

Howard cupped Tony's chin in his hand to lift his face, leaning forward to kiss his lips. Tony turned his head away defiantly so he could only kiss his cheek. And with this new angle he could see his mother standing in the doorway, looking back at him in horror.

 

They yanked away from each other, everyone's eyes darting back and forth, waiting for someone to speak. Once they did start none of them could stop.

“What-”
“Maria-”

“What is this?”

“It-”

“What is this?! What..what was that, Howard?” She demanded, moving forward. Her eyes flashed to Tony's face, “What's going on?”

“Maria, it's not-”

This is what goes on when I'm not around?!” She snapped, sounding different. Using a voice he'd never heard before, “This is what you do when I'm in the other room?! With our son!”

Howard looked over at Tony, seeing the uncomfortable expression on his face, then back to his wife, “Go on, Tony.”

“No!” She hissed, pointing at him, “Tony, stay.”

“Leave, Tony.” Howard insisted, saying it like he was giving permission.

“And since when do you call him, Tony? Is that part of your little secret, Howard?” Tony ducked his head and headed for the door, “No, Tony, come here.” His mother grabbed him before he could exit the situation. She held both his arms, gripping him so he wouldn't try to leave again, “Baby, it's okay, I'm not mad at you. Just tell me, Honey. Tell me what he did to you.”

She stared into his face with such desperation, demanding the words. He tried to shrink away but she pulled him back, “Honey, just tell me. Tell me he raped you and we'll leave right now.”

He felt like he was going to throw up as she stared at him, tears welling up in her eyes as he took too long to respond. She looked at him like he'd said something insulting by keeping silent. He closed his eyes when she released his arms. He wanted to tell her what she wanted to hear. He wanted to drop dead.

“How long?” She asked, turning away from him, “How long has this been going on, Howard?”

“Maria...” Howard sighed, glancing back at Tony, who'd turned two shades whiter since this had all started.

“I just buried one baby, Howard.” She said softly, “And now this one...”

Tony made an involuntary noise, looking down as he wrapped his arms around himself.

“Leave, Tony.” Howard said again, this time commanding.

He gladly exited, almost diving out of the room as his mother started screaming at his father again. He smacked his head against the wall, once, then twice, once more. He welcomed the ringing in his ears. His eyes hurt, he felt like he was suffocating, he wanted to cry and he wanted to scream. He realized he was crying, he hadn't cried in so long..He wanted to die, right here. He was half sure that he could, right now.

He couldn't hear his father's voice over his mother's. He'd never heard her sound like that before. It was like he was having a nightmare. He'd gotten so comfortable in his lie, never really believing that anyone would find out and he'd be able to live in his quiet shame. Jarvis crossed to another room a ways down the hall, briefly making eye contact but not stopping to say anything. It suddenly dawned on him how alone he was. His mother now had a reason to hate him, she'd prefer him dead at this point.

Steve's face came to mind. Steve was all he had left. What if he lost Steve too? What if Steve found out? That would be the end of it. He was already slipping away from him. Tony pulled away from the wall, breaking into a run down the hall and dashing out the front door into the cold air.

 

 

 

Steve sat up at the sound of his window creaking open. He blinked in the dark, still half asleep. Someday it was going to be someone besides Tony breaking in and he wasn't going to notice the difference.

“Hey.” He mumbled with a yawn, it really wasn't that late but he'd gone to bed early that night, “What's up?”

Tony slipped in and crawled on top of Steve, pressing his body against the other, pulling him forward so he could start kissing.

“Oh, okay, hello.” Steve nodded, wrapping an arm around Tony's middle to stabilize his position. He welcomed Tony's lips but he could tell something was wrong, “Hey”---he tried to speak-- “are you okay?”

“Mhm.” Tony nodded, straight faced like he meant it. But Steve knew, he always knew.

“Tony..” He began, but then Tony was pulling off his shirt and his lips were everywhere and anytime Steve tried to say something Tony would use his tongue and make him shudder, “Mm, hey, uh are you sure?”

Tony nodded again, tugging at Steve's pants. He then looked up at the other, “It's okay. I want this.”

He didn't believe it. He wanted to push Tony away and make him talk about it, talk about it all. But then Tony's lips were on his and he was pulling him on top, letting him touch him, really touch him. And Steve let that part of his brain shut off. He was as tender as he knew how to be while being so goddamned excited to finally be allowed to have all of Tony. He'd been wanting this for so long and he was finally allowed. Tony didn't push him off and he didn't explode in some fit of tears, he even looked like he enjoyed it. But once it was over, Steve hated himself and he hate Tony too.

He sat up, taking a deep breath as he came down from his high, his hands balling into fists on his knees. Tony looked up, confused with Steve's expression, “What?”

Steve didn't say anything at first, he then looked over his shoulder at the other, “Why did you do that?”

“Do what?” Tony asked, fear flooding back in, “You didn't lik-”

“You shouldn't have done that if you didn't want it.” Steve interrupted, his voice carrying a quiet anger.

“Steve-”

“It was my first time with you, Tony.” He retorted, turning and standing to retrieve his clothes. For a brief moment his outline looked just like Howard's did whenever he walked away, “That meant something to me. And I didn't want it to be something you had to force!”

Tony didn't understand what he'd done wrong to make this happen, “Steve, it's fine.”

“No, it's not.” He snapped, yanking on his sweatpants, “That's not how I wanted it, Tony. You shouldn't have put me in that position.”

The accusatory tone of Steve's words stirred up Tony's own anger at the situation, at the whole night, “If you were so concerned, then why did you climb on top of me?”

“Don't.” Steve shook his head.

“No!” Tony shook his own head as he stood to get his own clothes, “You could have said no! If you thought I didn't want it, you could have made the decision to NOT fuck me tonight.”

“You're so selfish, you don't even see how I could be upset, do you?”

“Yeah, I'm real terrible.” Tony mumbled as he buttoned his jeans, “Sorry for letting you get laid for once.”

“You shouldn't have put me in that position, Tony.”

“Mhm,” Tony sneered, nodding with a fake smile, “act all high and mighty, like you're doing some noble act by saying “No that was wrong” after you got off.”

Steve was so angry he could feel tears in his eyes, “Why are you always like this?! Why can't you just be normal?”

“Why are you like this?!” Tony retorted, throwing his hands up, “I gave you what you wanted!”

“I didn't want it like that, Tony!”

“You still accepted it!”

“And now I feel like shit.” He huffed, losing steam. He wanted to put all the blame on Tony but he knew it was his own fault.

Tony ran a hand over his eyes and then through his hair, looking like he was going to have a panic attack, “I can't...I can't do this with all of you..you just want so fucking much all the fucking time!”

“Tony-” Steve began as he moved forward.

“No, fuck off. I'm gonna go be selfish.” He snapped, gone before Steve could do anything about it.

Tony drove away into the dark night, the passing buildings blurring against the street lights. He'd thought he'd wanted to die before when his mother was screaming but little did he know just how much he'd want to die. His hands gripped the steering wheel, his foot all the way down on the gas pedal.

He'd finally done it, he'd lost everyone. There was no use staying here. Leaving was the only salvation left. Drive away from it all, from this suffocating town with all his secrets. He rolled down the windows so he could breathe, he was so hot it felt like he was on fire. The wind whipped in his ears, his chest stung with the attack that wouldn't let him take deep breaths. His body shook as he thought about Steve.

Just leave. Drive away into the night and be forgotten by all of them. He'd find somewhere where he didn't have to lie. Somewhere where he could feel like a real person. He was right at the town line when his phone buzzed and the sudden sound startled him. With an angry sigh he picked it up to see a message from Bruce.

Bruce: Could I get a ride?

Tony laughed out loud at the ridiculousness of the simple request. Didn't Bruce know he was trying to run away from them all? The phone buzzed again.

Bruce: I need to go to the hospital.

He let the car come to a stop in the middle of the road. He was already so far away, wondering when he'd driven so far in such a short amount of time. He clutched the phone in his fist and let his head fall against he wheel. He could just leave. He was so close already. He hated Bruce for the request. Didn't Bruce know? Didn't Bruce know exactly how much Tony needed to run away? Bruce knew so well.

He let out an angry yell of frustration, hitting his head back against the headrest as he started screaming.

 

 

 

Bruce looked up when Tony's car pulled up next to him, surprised Tony'd gotten there so fast when he lived across town. Tony stuck his head out the window, “Get it honey, I'll pay extra—shit, are you okay?”

Bruce nodded, cradling his arm as he opened the car door.

Tony sighed as he looked at him, the cut lip and the bruises already forming on his face, not to mention the arm that looked broken, “You're not going to be able to excuse that away, you know. They'll know what that is.”

Bruce shrugged, “You going to fix it?”

Tony sighed again as he put the car in drive, “I'm just saying.”

Bruce shifted, obviously in pain, “I'm sorry..about asking for this.”

“Shut up.” He snorted, “That's what I'm here for, man.”

Bruce glanced over at the other, sensing something was off. Tony's jaw was locked and his knuckles were white gripping the steering wheel.

“Are.....you okay?” He asked.

“Always.” Tony mumbled. And Bruce let it go, having had enough confrontation for the night.

When they got to the hospital Tony was ready to follow Bruce but the other insisted that he'd be fine alone. Truthfully Tony wanted to hear the excuse Bruce was going to try on the nurse. He went outside to wait, the cold air biting at his skin. He sat at the curb and lit up a cigarette, tasting his father the second he placed it between his lips. And then he was right back in that room, his mother staring at him. He sighed and ran a hand through his hair, letting his head drop down. He felt so lost, unsure where he was going to go once he was done with Bruce. He still had the chance to leave. He always had the chance to leave. He couldn't go home now and he couldn't go to Steve.

When Bruce returned, he found Tony with his head between his knees, end of a forgotten cigarette in one hand. Bruce cleared his throat which made the other look up with heavy red eyes.

“It's uh...broken.” Bruce muttered.

Tony made an angry noise as he stood, flicking the end of his cigarette,“That fucker. Bruce, you don't deserve that. You odn't desrve any of that shit. Let's just leave, fuck all of them. Let's just go.”

Bruce shrugged and Tony shook his head, “I'm serious, let's leave.”

He looked back at Tony, seeing he was serious, “We can't.”

“Why not? Because your Dad will beat you up? Oh, no that's what happens if you stay.”

Bruce frowned, cradling his arm in it's new sling, “What happened?”

And Tony looked like he was going to burst into tears. He crossed his arms and started walking back toward the car, making Bruce follow. He didn't speak for a while and Bruce thought he wasn't going to answer at all. But once they were back in the car the words slipped from Tony's mouth like a gasp of air after nearly drowning.

“My mom walked in on us.”

“What?” Bruce asked, louder than usual.

Tony nodded, all the fear flooding back in at once, “Not..he was just groping me but she saw. She walked in and started yelling. She looked at me like..” He started shaking his head, “I can't go back there.”

Bruce sucked in his breath, as much as he hated his own home life, he was so grateful he didn't live Tony's.

 

Chapter Text

 

After arguing with Bruce about taking him home, he dropped Bruce off at his house, knowing just as well as the other that neither of them had anywhere to go. He planned on sleeping in his car the rest of the night, but he just kept driving around, telling himself if he just drove around one more time he'd work up the courage to cross the town line.

He rested his head against the steering wheel, breathing deeply with the hum of the engine, still running even though the car was now in park. He inhaled slowly, trying to suppress the ache in his chest that could so easily turn into an attack if he let it. He thought about going for a run, taking the stupid training his father had made him go through to control his breathing. He squeezed his eyes shut at the thought of his father. He looked up, realizing that the sun had come up and that he'd ended up right back at his house. He didn't remember driving there and he didn't remember when the darkness had drifted off.

He didn't know what home meant right now. At least before he knew what to expect or when to expect it, but now he didn't know what he'd be walking into. He didn't know if his father was waiting to hit him for ruining his marriage or if his mother had already moved out. He sucked in a deep breath and stepped from the car and forced himself up the drive. It felt like there was no other choice, he had to know what was going on, what his life was right now.

The house felt different, worse than usual, empty and suffocating all at once. He dug his nails into his palms when he rounded the corner to see Jarvis. The older man looked back at him and then went back to his work, passing by the teenager without a word. Tony glared over his shoulder at him, hating him just as much as he hated his parents. He turned into the kitchen, immediately seeing his mother sitting at the table. She looked up at him and refused to look away, while Tony could barely look her in the eye.

“Where were you?”

“Out.” He mumbled in reply.

“I want a real answer.”

He lifted his eyes to give her a look then turned away, pulling the fridge open like he was going to eat something, “You care where I am all of a sudden?”

“You can't just run off like he does.”

So that must mean his father wasn't here either. He didn't answer, he just kept moving things around.

She made an annoyed sound, “Stop ignoring me.”

“What do you want from me?” He retorted, making a similar noise.

“I want you to tell me why!” She snapped, “I want one of you to try explaining it to me. Neither of you has tried to explain this away.”

He glanced back at her, darting his eyes away for a second before he replied, “What do you want me to say?”

“I want you to say that it isn't my fault.” She answered, her palms flat on the table's surface. He saw the pleading in her eyes, her face begging him to fix it, “I want you to tell me when and why and....”

“It's not your fault, Mom.” He sighed, pushing his arms back against the counter, gripping the marble so the edge dug into his hands. He pushed harder as tears welled up in her eyes, she looked at him the way she looked at his father. Didn't she realize how little he actually was?

She covered her face for a moment, he could hear her sigh into her own palms. He wanted to say something, something real. Let her know how sorry he was, that he knew he was a disappointment, that he hated himself, that he wanted to die but didn't think he deserved it. He wanted to tell her how much he hated it, how much he hated her for letting it happen, how she was the thing that kept him from drinking too much. He wanted to tell her why. He wanted to tell her that it was the only thing he had with his father and that's how he justified it.

He turned away and started toward the doorway. She looked up and asked, “When did it start?”

“Does it matter?” He answered with a sigh, crossing his arms over his chest as he leaned against the wall, “Does it really matter how it started or when?”

She looked like she was about to say something but then she looked away. She looked out toward the window, wringing her hands. He could see her nails scratching at her skin, similar to his own habit.

“It's not your fault.” He repeated, “You didn't know..”

“Was I suppose to?” She asked, pushing against the table to stand. He took a step back as she rose, “Were you trying to tell me? Is that why you two fight so much? Or is that..part of it?”

He made a noise and hugged his arms tighter around himself, his thumbnail digging against the cuticle of one of his other fingers, “No.” It felt so strange to be speaking about it, every answer made his heart jump as if he was still trying to hide it.

“Did you two fight so I wouldn't notice?” She asked as she pulled out a bottle of wine.

“You wouldn't notice if it happened in the room next to you.” He snapped, near yell as he stormed out. He whirled around and sped back into the kitchen, his return surprising her,“You didn't notice! How could you not know?! Oh, I know, it's because you're hammered all the time!”

“Tony-”

“You're not allowed to berate me for this when you've spent most of my life in a haze! He was there when you weren't! He..You have no idea what my life is like, so don't you dare judge me for it! I wouldn't be like this if y-you..” He trailed off as he started to stutter. He put his hands on his hips and bowed his head as he exhaled. He pivoted before his mother could say anything else. He stormed away down the hall and back through the front door. The cold air slapped him in the face, shocking his system into a deep inhale that he wasn't ready for. He beat his fists against his leg, furious with the panic attack that was trying to take over. He started pacing in the driveway, his hands shaking so much he was almost flailing.

He dug out his lighter and a cigarette, having a hard time getting it lit with his shaky fingers. He blew out a broken puff of smoke, the cigarette definitely not helping his breathing. He realized he'd been digging his fingernails into the palm of his left hand, his palm bright pink from the scratching and the nail bed of his middle finger red with blood. He scowled, knowing someone would notice. But why would it matter now? Why would it matter if everyone saw? Soon everyone would know. It wouldn't matter what he did to his hands.

He lifted the cigarette from his lips and without hesitation, pressed the lit end into his open palm. He hissed as the skin burned. He looked down at his hand, frowning at the red mark that would turn into a scar. He didn't know why he'd done it. It scared him that he could do something like that. He didn't like pain, he tried to avoid it at all costs, but there the burn was, staring back at him. And he'd done it to himself.

He realized he'd been pacing himself into a circle, so he turned and started down the driveway then onto the sidewalk. His fast walk turned into a jog and then he was bolting down the road. After forty-five minutes of running, he came to an abrupt halt back in the driveway to see his father exiting his car. Tony's breathing was fast and heavy but he was in control of it as he placed his hands on his hips. Howard gave him a look as he pulled his briefcase from the car.

“This isn't for you.” Tony huffed, crossing his arms over his chest.

His father shrugged and turned like he couldn't be the least bit interested. Tony hated that. It always made him feel like a little kid. He turned back toward the house, forgetting for a second what was inside. He stopped and shoved his hands in his pockets, starting to get cold from the sweat and the brisk air.

“She thinks we fight to be less obvious.” He mumbled, glancing over his shoulder at his father, “She's wrong, right? You don't just hit me to throw her off?”

Howard made an exasperated noise and started forward, past the teenager, “Don't be ridiculous.”

Tony took a deep breath, wrapping his arms around himself, realizing how cold he was, “Well maybe you should try explaining that to her.”

“I can't fix it, Anthony.” Howard sighed in annoyance.

“You could at least give it a try.” He muttered as they entered the house.

“Tone down the attitude.”

Tony followed his father down the hall, both avoiding the part of the house where Maria might be.“How am I suppose to act right now? My mother thinks that I'm-”

“Stop it.” Howard snapped, dropping his briefcase with a loud thud. He turned away from his desk and opened his drinks cabinet to remove a bottle of bourbon.

Tony frowned and glanced over his shoulder, suddenly nervous that his mother might walk in and see them together. He couldn't help feeling guilty even when he wasn't doing anything wrong. He watched his father down a glass and then pour another. He knew he should find somewhere else to be, but he didn't want to wander the house where he might run into his mother.

He wished his father would do something or say something to fix everything. Howard glanced over at him and then frowned with a squint. He motioned for Tony to come closer and when he did he took his left hand in his own. He frowned with a sigh at the burn in Tony's palm. He gave him an unimpressed look and gave Tony's wrist a tug, making him jerk forward.

“Don't be stupid.” He slapped Tony's cheek like it was a punctuation.

 

Chapter Text

 

“Oh my god, what happened?” Betty asked, eyes wide when she saw Bruce's cast, “What'd you do?”

Bruce shrank away a little with a shrug, he didn't want to lie to her, “Accident.”

“Jeez, how accident prone are you? Is it broken?” Her hands delicately stroking the cast as if she might hurt it.

“It's not that big of a deal..” He shrugged again, wishing she'd change the subject already.

“Not that big of a deal?” She repeated incredulously, “Bruce-”

“Whoa, what happened to you?” Steve asked, coming up from behind them.

Bruce frowned and repeated, “Accident.”

Betty exchanged a look with Steve and shrugged, “Satisfying answer, isn't it..”

“Hm. Have either of you seen Tony?”

Both shook their heads so Steve moved on, too annoyed to talk with any real conviction. He had refused to go to school but there was no way his parents would let him stay home without an actual reason. So he went to school, dreading his inevitable meeting with Tony. He hadn't called him at all over the weekend, still angry and without any idea what he'd say if he wasn't. He knew he wasn't the one in control of it but it felt like he was the one doing the punishing and that made him feel a tiny bit better. He actually managed to go two classes before he saw Tony. He knew Tony's schedule and his patterns so he knew Tony would be at his locker when he walked by. He leaned against the lockers and crossed his arms over his chest.

Tony glanced at him and then back to the stuff he was shoving in the locker, “You keep working out like that and you won't be able to cross those arms.”

“Can we talk?” He asked, hating that he always had to be the bigger one, the mature one.

“So you are talking to me now?” Tony huffed, eyebrow raised into an arch.

Steve sighed, “Tony.”

“Thought I was still exiled.” Tony shrugged, fishing a notebook from the locker. His attitude set Steve off,

“You know what...” He sighed again, raking a hand through his hair, “Never mind. Can we just-”

“No, say what you were thinking,” Tony snapped, giving Steve a pointed look, “maybe if you did that a bit more we wouldn't be arguing.”

Steve slapped the door of Tony's locker, making it slam shut and making Tony jump, “You still blame me? Tony, I didn't force you into anything.”

“What was I suppose to do?” Tony grumbled, bristling as he shot a glare at the other, turning to walk away. Steve followed behind him, balling his fists.

“I told you I didn't care. I was willing to wait as long as you needed.”

“Right.”

Steve glanced down, seeing Tony's thumb scratching at the nail on his ring finger and noticed the bandage on Tony's hand for the first time, “Hey, wait.” He grabbed Tony's wrist, pulling him to a halt, “What is this? What happened?”

“Nothing.” Tony snapped, yanking his arm away and instinctively hiding it behind his back. People passing by them like they weren't making a scene. Everyone else was too wrapped in their own lives to notice the couple.

Steve groaned angrily, “You don't fucking talk to me anymore! I need to know when you're hurt. How am I suppose to do this if you won't talk to me?”

“Do what? Exactly what mission are you suppose to be on, Stephen?”

You, you asshole. How am I suppose to be with you if you won't let me? I just want to fucking be with you and you act like I'm trying to lock you in a fucking box.” Tony sighed and started walking away again so Steve had to follow once more. He was always following after Tony, “Why can't you just-”

“You're so fucking demanding. You and everyone else is always asking for something.” Tony grumbled, as if he were saying it more to himself, “If you don't fucking like it then-”

Why do you act like this? I just want to help and you're always biting my hand for it.” Steve reached out to grab Tony's wrist again.

“Stop pawing me.” He snapped, jerking away. And the way Tony shrank away just set Steve off.

“Do you have any idea how many stories I've heard about my friend Tony Stark? And now quieter stories people think I can't hear, about my boyfriend Tony Stark.” He placed his hands on his hips as he spoke, Tony crossing his arms over his chest protectively, “Everyone's always talking about what a slut he is, always up for something. So why can't I touch you?”

“You still believe those stories?” Tony asked, hugging himself. “You think I'm a slut too?”

“I think you can't go a day without lying. So what am I suppose to think?” Steve could see the panic attack growing inside the other but he kept talking, “I don't know who you are anymore. You don't care about yourself and you don't care about me. And I don't know how to handle you!”

Tony looked down at his feet, pursing his lips, “Yeah, I am kind of a handful. I need to go to class.”

“Ugh, Tony it's lunch period. I want to talk.”

“I-I...” Tony scowled down at his feet like he was trying to swallow the problem. He shook his head and spun on his heel. Steve followed after, following him into one of the locker rooms. Telling himself that this was the last time, he wasn't going to follow Tony around anymore. He wasn't going to put up with his crazy mood swings, he didn't need to be babysitter. “L-Leave me al-lone.”

“No, you always-” He stopped when Tony sunk to the floor and started hugging his knees, “Tony.”

He kneeled down beside him and cupped his face in his hands, “Tony, hey, hey. You're okay, you're okay.”

Tony shook his head, gasping and sucking for air, “I-I-I..”

“Shh, you're okay. Slow breaths. No one's ever died from a panic attack, remember?”

Usually Tony would curse at him but he just kept shaking his head. Steve frowned, hating to see him like that. He wrapped his arms around the other and pulled him close, “Tony. It's okay.”

“I-I'm sorry.” He gasped, “I-I just..I just thought i-it was what you wanted.”

Steve sighed, frowning, “When did you get so insecure? It's not like sex is the only thing you have to offer..I just don't understand you sometimes..”

Tony looked up at him, his breath suddenly much more stable. He was ready to tell Steve. It'd explain it all away and Steve would forgive him. Steve would understand, he'd fix it. If he'd just tell someone it would stop crushing him. But he couldn't. He couldn't say anything. Steve would hate him, he'd be disgusted. He lowered his eyes and shoved the thought back down. He took a deep breath and willed himself to look normal.

He pulled himself up and away from Steve's arms and stood. Steve frowned but stood as well. Tony checked his face in one of the mirrors, pulling on his detached expression.

“Are you okay?”

“Fine.” He answered, glancing over his shoulder at the other, “You coming?”

Steve crossed his arms and sighed again, “Tony...I'm..I don't think I can do this anymore..”

Tony looked back at him and let out his own sigh, “Big shock.” He replied, almost like a joke, still looking back at Steve expectantly, “So, you coming?”

And Steve's heart sank, realizing that Tony wasn't going to fight for their relationship. It took him a moment to comprehend and follow after. He sped up, as he so easily could, so he passed the other.

“You're an asshole.”

“You already knew that.” Tony answered, an attitude in his voice as he shoved his hands in his pockets as Steve made him follow. He glance up at the back of Steve's head, wishing he hadn't broken down in the middle of their fight, wishing he didn't have to be such an asshole to Steve. He wanted to reach out and grab Steve's hand and pull him along like nothing was wrong. And he knew he could, he could grab Steve's hand and that would make it all better, because that's all Steve wanted. And Tony wanted it too.

 

 

 

Everyone else in the classroom scribbled answers on their papers, the clock ticking in the background. Tony stared at his own blank test, his cheek resting on his palm. It wasn't specifically difficult, or it shouldn't be, he knew that. He should know the answers but his brain was too fuzzy. With the craziness at home and with Steve he just couldn't think right. He hadn't really eaten all weekend and now he couldn't answer simple test questions. Staring at the paper made him dizzy.

He sighed, too tired to really care. What did it matter how he did on a high school test anyway? Steve glanced over at him and frowned, he looked up to make sure the teacher didn't see him before he threw the cap of his pen over at the other. A knock on the door made them all look up, including the teacher. The principle poked her head in, looking serious, “I'm very sorry to interrupt, I realize there's an exam going on. Could I speak with Tony Stark?”

It took a moment for Tony to realize what was being asked. Everyone turned and looked back at him as he pushed himself up and walked out. Through the glass window Steve watched the principle put a hand on Tony's shoulder.

“Steve.” Mr. Richards said, giving him a pointed look.

Steve ducked his head back down to his paper but dragged his eyes away. He couldn't tell if Tony was upset, there really wasn't any expression on his face. The principle on the other hand looked very serious and sympathetic.

Out in the hall she gave Tony's shoulder a small squeeze, it was a little unnerving how calm the teen seemed. She'd been expecting some sort of reaction out the news that she'd thought at the very least important enough to tell him herself, “You'll be excused from the rest of the day of course. Someone's here to drive y-”

“Jarvis.” Tony mumbled, more by reflex.

“Yes. He said-”
“I have a car.”

She let out a small sigh, trying to be calm with the teenager, “I think you're expected to ride with him.”

He muttered something about protocol before he passed her to start down the hall. He passed by Jarvis and slid into the backseat where he pulled his legs up and hugged his knees. He buried his face in his arms as Jarvis started up the car and started the ride to the hospital.

“She still alive?” Tony mumbled into his elbow.

 

Chapter Text

 

Tony skidded to a halt in front of his father, Howard holding up his hand as Tony started to ask.

“She'll be alright. She lost quite a bit of blood but...they're stitching her up right now.”

Tony sucked in his breath as he crossed his arms over his chest. He wanted to see her, he wanted to know exactly how bad it was. There was no room for question this time, no one could tell him it might have been an accident. He looked at his feet, clenching his fists as he started to shake.

“She will be alright, Tony.”

He bit his lip as he looked up at his father, “No. No she's not going to be alright. She wants to die, because of us!”

Howard's lips tightened and he averted his eyes with a sigh, “Anthony..”

“You know this is because of us!” Tony hissed, voice getting shrill, “We fucking drove her to this!”

“Stop!” Howard snapped, grabbing Tony's arm and yanking him forward, “This isn't helping.”

“I don't care!” He yelled, making people nearby turn and look, “My mother hates me!”

“She does not.”

“She can't even look at me right now. She tried to kill herself and it's my fault.”

Howard sighed, “It's not your fault.”

He took a deep breath and shook his head, crossing his arms over his chest defensively as he shifted from one foot to the other, “I'm done with this.” He said, looking up at his father, tears brimming in his eyes, “I can't do this anymore. Not when my mother is in the next room slitting her fucking wrists..”

The Rogers appeared down the hall, diminishing the conversation between the two Starks. Steve ran up and enveloped him in a hug, “Oh, Tony.”

“Howard..” Sara said sadly, touching Howard's arm, “How is she?”

“She'll be alright.” He answered, looking uncomfortable, “How did you-”

“Steve threw a fit at the school until the principle would explain to him.” Joe sighed.

Now that he was wrapped in Steve's arms he let himself feel the situation. He nuzzled against Steve's chest, going slightly limp as all the emotion hit him at once.

“I'm sorry. I'm so sorry.” Steve whispered, dipping his head to kiss Tony's forehead, “I didn't mean any of it.”

He clung to Tony, afraid he might sink if he didn't hold him up. He wanted to protect Tony and make him forget but he had no idea how. He knew there was no way he could fix it for Tony. He felt helpless in his uselessness. His parents were talking to Howard in hushed voices as Tony's arms slid around Steve's middle, fingers bunching in his shirt.

“I'm sorry.” He repeated, cradling the back of Tony's head, tilting his own face to kiss Tony's cheek.

“I can't do this anymore.” Tony whispered into Steve's neck.

Howard's eyes narrowed over Joe's shoulder as Steve placed another worried kiss on Tony's skin. Sara turned away and strode back toward the teenagers, she reached up a hand and gripped Ton's shoulder.

“Sweetheart...well, it sounds like she's going to be fine.”

Tony closed his eyes to keep from rolling them. He buried his face in Steve's chest once more. Steve looked up at his mother with a lost expression. They'd been around for this sort of thing before, they should know how to handle the Stark family in crisis. But no matter how many times they ended up in a hospital waiting room, no one ever felt prepared.

Finally, someone gave them permission to see her, mentioning what it was going to look like before they entered the room.

“You don't have to-” Howard began in a quiet voice.

“Yes I do.”

The white sterile room looked too big, with the bed in the middle like a centerpiece. Maria's head was turned toward the window, her wrists bandaged up and her forearms tethered down to the bedframe. Tony took a deep breath, his shoulders hitching up toward his ears as he moved forward. He went and sat down cautiously in the chair by the bed while Howard stood uncomfortably by the door. He wanted to touch her hand, but he wasn't sure if he should or was allowed or..

The nurse in the room glanced back at them, a little surprised by their standoffish behavior. She opened the curtains to let in some sunlight, hoping to brighten the mood as well. When Maria turned her head, her eyes moved over them both and then back to the other wall.

“Mom..” Tony tried, leaning forward in the chair.

“I've decided something.” She mumbled, eyes foggy, almost dreamy.

Tony sucked in his breath, almost sure he heard his father do the same, “Yeah, Mom?”

As if she knew, the nurse exited, muttering about private time. Howard nodded as she left, crossing his arms. There were a few moments of silence while they waited for her to speak again.

“The house is the problem.” She continued, fingers reaching out against the blanket that had her strapped down, “It's too toxic...maybe it's the paint..”

Tony frowned in confusion, “Wha-”

“I don't..understand. But that seems to make sense, maybe that's why you two act like that...”

Tony glanced over his shoulder at his father for some sort of answer and then back to his mother, looking at the IV to see what exactly she was on at the moment.

“I can't be in that house.” She said, finally turning back to look at him. She smiled sadly, like she was seeing a hurt four year old, “Oh, Honey. You always look so upset...well..now you can have what you want. You don't...have to hide anymore, baby..I can't be in that house. I'll leave and you can...”

Tony stared at her, mouth hanging open as she gave him her fucking permission. He knew she was on painkillers, he knew she was out of her mind, but he'd always thought that if she'd found out she would do something. She had done something, she'd tried to kill herself.

He clenched his fists, fingernails digging into his palms, “They've got you on a-”

“I'm lucid enough.” She said, voice suddenly very clear and serious, “I need to go somewhere where I can get help. These bandages are the only things keeping me together. I need to be away from this.”

Defeat washed over Tony like an ocean wave, pushing him down and taking all his strength. He couldn't breathe, his chest felt so heavy, weighing him down. He closed his eyes and leaned forward, letting his face sink into his palms, suddenly feeling exhausted.

“Yeah me too.” He mumbled, standing up quickly and rushing from the room. Howard let him go, wanting to leave himself.

Breathing didn't get any easier out in the hall, Tony turned left and started walking and then realized he was going in the wrong direction so he whirled back around. He passed right by the Rogers, aiming for the automatic doors to the outside. If he could just get outside then maybe his head wouldn't explode.

Steve jumped up and hurried after him, “Hey? Tony?”

Once outside Tony let out any angry noise that was half yell and half exclamation for air. His knees buckled and he dropped down to the ground, hugging his legs and burying his head. Steve skidded behind him, sucking in his breath when he saw the other curled up like he was.

“Oh, Tony..” He kneeled down and rubbed Tony's back, hating the gasping noises Tony made. He always sounded like he was drowning.

“I j-just want t-to cry l-like a f-fucking normal person!” He cried out, hiding his face deeper in his arms. People entering and leaving the hospital turned to look at them but neither noticed.

 

Chapter Text

 

Sara Rogers looked up as Steve came down the stairs, “How is he?”

“He fell asleep, actually.” Steve replied, crossing his arms over his chest as he leaned against the railing.

“Howard called,” Joe said as he replaced the phone to it's holder, “time for Tony to go home.”

“He's sleeping.” He scowled.

His father gave a small shrug, “They-”

Dad, I'm going to let him sleep. He needs it.”

“He needs to go home.”

Steve looked to his mother for help, holding his arms up, “Mom.”

Sara sighed as she looked between them, “He doesn't need to go this second, today must have been very traumatic for him.”

Steve crossed his arms angrily over his chest again, hating his parents for acting like they didn't know what went on at that house, “Maybe he feels safer here, ever think of that?”

“Steve,” Joe sighed, “we have known this family for a long time. It's not as black and white as you might think. I know you want to take care of Tony right now, but he needs to be with his family.”

“I am his family.” Steve answered through his teeth, “If he wanted to be there, he wouldn't have come with us.”

“Enough.” His father snapped, his authoritative law enforcement voice threatening, “I'm not in the mood to argue with you. I understand you're upset for your friend, but we need to respect their family. Please go get him.”

Steve turned and stomped back up the stairs, his hands balling into fists. The anger diminished the moment he opened the door to his bedroom. He let out an exhale as he walked in and sat on the bed next to Tony who was curled in on himself rather than his usual sprawl. He reached out a cautious hand and touched Tony's shoulder. He was grateful the other didn't flinch when he woke.

“Hey.” He whispered, looking down at Tony.

Tony blinked and sat up, “How long was I asleep?”

“A couple of hours.” Steve wanted to lay down next to Tony and let him fall away again. He sighed at the defeated expression Tony wore. “So, you're Dad called.”

Tony nodded, knowingly, “Time to go home?”

Steve nodded in reply, taking Tony's hand and giving it a squeeze, “I'm really sorry about today.”

Tony sighed, “Don't take the blame for today being bad, Steve.”

“No, I shouldn't have pushed you. I was trying to force you..I'm going to respect your privacy.”

Tony averted his eyes, pursing his lips. Steve looked down at the hand he was holding and for the first time since the beginning of the day he remembered the bandage on Tony's other hand. He reached forward and brushed his thumb over Tony's knuckles.

“What happened there?”

“Didn't you just say something about privacy?” Tony smirked, trying to joke it away. He really regretted the scar the cigarette burn was leaving in his palm, he didn't know how to explain it away.

Steve's lip pulled into a small scowl as Tony pulled his hand away. Tony wished Steve wasn't always so observant.

 

 

The house was quiet, quieter than usual. The emptiness his mother had left was a presence in itself in the house, making itself known with her absence. He suddenly missed her scent, the way she smelled like flowers. Flowers and wine. Tulips and chardonnay.

Tony felt like he was walking through a fog as he drudged down the hall. He didn't hear the usual sounds of Jarvis, he heard his Father, he already heard the sound of a bottle being set down, he heard the angry way he moved around. Tony headed toward the stairs, knowing he was just prolonging the inevitable. The second his foot reached the first step he stopped, he stopped and wrapped his arms around himself with a large exhale of breath. He sunk down, curling in on himself on the stairs, aching for his mother, the mother he'd never had.

He looked up at the sound of footsteps, knowing those footsteps by heart. Howard's face was hard, his body tense.

“You finally came home, huh?” Tony sighed, recoiling as Howard grabbed his arm and yanked him up, “Are you going to explain yourself? What was that with the Rogers kid?”

“He has a name.” Tony sighed.

“And what name is that? What are you calling him now? Is he your boyfriend now?” He growled as his grip on Tony's arm tightened, “How long has that been happening?”

“You're hurting me.”

“You know what hurts? Seeing his arms around you, seeing his lips on you.” Howard's nails dug into Tony's skin as he dragged him away, “You just give it up to anyone, don't you, you little slut. That's why you're always over there, isn't it?”

“Dad, please.” Tony had to trot to keep up with his father's pace.

Howard shoved Tony into his bedroom, making him stumble, “You're never seeing him again. No one touches you. Do you understand me? You keep your little legs shut.” He snapped the last word as he grabbed Tony's hair and dragged him across the room to throw him on the bed.

Tony tried not to move too quickly, afraid of getting hit, “It's not like that.”

“Shut up! You are mine,” He hissed, grabbing the front of Tony's shirt to pull him forward, “You don't let someone else touch you, you little slut, I don't care how fucking hot you get.” The back of Howard's hand struck swiftly across Tony's cheek, “How could you sneak off like that? Every night letting him-”

“Dad!”

“Shut up!I don't want to hear your excuses. I know exactly what you were doing with him. Obviously I'm not giving it to you enough here at home.” He sneered down at Tony has he started yanking off his clothes.

“Wait, Dad, please, wait until you're sober, please.” Tony begged, his hands shaking as he tried to wriggle away.

“No, you're not going anywhere.” Howard hissed as he grabbed Tony's ankles and yanked him back down the bed. He held Tony down with a heavy hand on his chest as he undid his own pants, “You are mine. You don't just get to run away like that. You can't run away from me. You don't get to leave.”

The tears in his father's eyes scared Tony more than the force he was using to hold him down, “Please, please you're hurting me.”

“Well you're hurting me! Why can't you just love me? Why can't you just be happy with what we have?” Howard yelled as he pushed all his weight down on the other so he couldn't move.

“I'm not her!” Tony screamed back, tears of frustration brimming in his eyes.
“Shut up!” His father hissed, real tears falling down his face as Tony struggled, “She's leaving because of you! Because you're a dirty little whore.”

“Get off me. I don't want this. Stop!” There was little Tony could do against the full grown man. He winced in pain as his father's hand shot between his legs and inserted two angry fingers. Howard was never this brutal, he usually took his time but he was too drunk to be careful. Tony bit his lip and turned his head away.

“Is this what he does? Is this how he touches you?” Howard growled, his teeth grazing Tony's cheek, “You probably let Joe fuck you too, don't you?”

Tony grimaced and shook his head into the sheets, “No, no.”

“Don't lie.” Tony cried out when Howard shoved himself inside, Tony still painfully raw and unwilling, “You'll take it from anyone. But you're mine. You're mine!”

“Please, please Daddy stop.” He pleaded like a child.

 

 

In the morning, Howard awoke with a splitting headache. Opening his eyes to the light was like being stabbed in the skull. He winced as he rose, brushing a hand over his eyes. He hadn't gotten that mind-numbingly drunk in a long time. Memories of the day before came at a slower pace than the hangover. He remembered his wife, her words, the way everyone kept looking at him like he should be reacting, the way Steve held Tony, his anger, the way Tony cried out. He took a sharp inhale of breath as he remembered Tony. He looked around, not seeing the teenager anywhere.

He stood, grabbing the pants on the floor and exiting the room. He went down the hall, passing empty rooms that were only inhabited by ghosts. Tony's bedroom was empty, so Howard turned to the small bathroom. There Tony was curled up, fully clothed in the dry shower. Howard took a deep breath, kneeling down to be at eye level. Tony's gaze flicked up and then shrank away, hugging his arms tighter around himself.

“Tony..”

He saw his son shaking, shaking just like had the night before. Howard made a noise and stood, turning around and going back down the hall. He went to his wife's bathroom and took out a bottle of pills, shaking lose one of the capsules. He returned to Tony and kneeled down once more. He cupped Tony's chin and placed the pill on his tongue. Tony looked up at him and swallowed without hesitation.

After a moment Tony asked, “Is this how she started?” The words shocked Howard, “Were you handing her the pills?”

He winced and cupped Tony's cheek, his fingers grazing the small hairs at the back of Tony's neck, “I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I didn't mean..for it to get out of hand.."

   "Mm." Tony turned his face away, the same way he had the night before, defeated.

 

Chapter Text

 “It's crazy,” Betty said, shaking her head, “when someone tries to commit suicide twice, you know it's serious..”

Any attempt at suicide is serious. Bruce thought to himself as Betty squeezed his arm.

“Poor Tony, I can't even imagine what he's going through.” She sighed, still shaking her head. Bruce pursed his lips, glancing at the people passing by them. The school hallway always made him so uncomfortable, he plastered his back against the lockers as if he were afraid of being snuck up on, even though he knew there was small chance of that ever happening.

Betty sighed again, rummaging through her own open locker, “Has he texted you at all or anything?”

It was Bruce's turn to shake his head, “No.”

“Ugh, he must be so upset. I can't even imagine.”

Bruce could imagine but he imagined how awful it must be being alone with his father. Bruce thought of how he hated being alone with his own father and gave a shiver.

Betty glanced over at him and grabbed his hand, “I wish I could do something for him.”

He knew he should reply with something, she wanted reassurance but he didn't have anything for her. The bell rang and the both straightened, “I've got to run up to the library, so I'm headed the other way,” She said, shouldering her purse, “I'll see you at lunch, have a good day. Try not to stress out.”
He smiled slightly at her instructions, “Yeah.” He mumbled as she leaned up to kiss his cheek.

He headed into his own classroom, dreading the class. Today was the day he had to hand in an essay the teacher had threatened to make him read allowed. As he headed into the room he missed Tony and Steve coming down the hall.

“No one expected you to be back in school yet, you don't have to be here if you aren't ready.” Steve said, one hand on Tony's bicep, worried he might stumble. He was sure Tony hadn't been eating.

“I know.” Tony answered flatly.

“If you feel-”

“I need the distraction, Steve.” He sighed, turning to him before they got to the door. He was already dizzy so he leaned against the wall so he wouldn't have to hold himself up, “I can't..ugh, I just need the distraction, okay?”

He turned back and entered the classroom, ignoring the looks he received from all the other students. Steve followed after, wishing his desk was closer to Tony's so he could just be near him. He looked so fraile and tired. Tony sank into his seat and stared forward, obviously just there for show.

“Alright,” Mr. Summers began at the front of the class, “before we start anything else, let's put Mr. Banner out of his misery. Time to stand up and deliver that essay, Bruce.”

Bruce's body tensed as he looked up. His heart started slamming against his chest and he thought he was going to black out. He wanted to say something in his own defense but nothing came out. He knew the teacher expected him to stand but he was frozen.

“Get up, Bruce. You're not getting out of this.” Tony made a disgusted sound but the teacher ignored him, “You need to learn to overcome this.”

“This is such bullshit.”

“Stark.” Mr. Summers warned.

“You're singling him out. It is bullshit.” Tony sneered, now sitting up in the chair aggressively. Steve looked over at him, looking worried as Tony started to roar back to life for the first time in days.

“This has nothing to do with you. This was a special assignment for Bruce, he knew it was happening. Now stand up, Bruce.”

Bruce looked horrified and this just frustrated the professor more, “Bruce. Stand up and open your mouth.”

Tony's hands slammed down on the desk as he pushed himself up into a standing position, “Stop attacking him! You're terrifying him. A teacher shouldn't be using their authority to force a student to do something they're afraid of!”

“This is an assignment. It's part of his grade.”

“You're singling him out and threatening him.”

“Sit down.” Mr. Summers growled.

“No!” Tony shouted back, “I'm not going to sit here and listen to you humiliate him just to make a point!”

Everyone was staring back and forth between the two forces. Bruce had sunk down into his seat, trying to disappear and Steve was sighing from his own desk. Tony stared down the teacher with the same intensity.

“If you don't sit down, right now, you're out.”

“How about this,” Tony snapped, walking over and grabbing Bruce's essay from his desk and walking up to the front, “you want the essay read, how about I do it? Is that satisfactory? Or was the whole point just to embarrass him because that's fucked up.”

“Oh my god.” Steve whispered under his breath, hands on either side of his face as he watched Tony explode.

“Get out!” Mr. Summers bellowed, angrily pointing at the door and grabbing the phone on the wall to call the principle, furious that he'd lost control of the class.

“Fine!” Tony yelled, throwing the paper on the teacher's desk before he turned to leave, the swift turn made his head spin but he pushed through it, “At least now we know what your intentions were! Great fucking lesson.”

He let the door slam behind him, swaying a little with the force of the swing. He stomped down the hall, so full of anger it could be directed at anyone. A head popped out the door as he passed by the principle's office.

“Stark, detour's over, get back here.”

With an eye roll he did a U-turn back into the office. The guidance counselor, Jean Grey, was sitting next to an empty seat that was obviously where they expected him to plop down.

“Professor Summers said you were quite an interruption in his class.”

Tony shrugged as he slumped down into the chair, “I had a problem with the way the lesson was being taught.”

“Tony,” Jean began, reaching forward to touch his leg, a movement that made him flinch and glare at her reproachfully, “we understand your family is going through a hard time. And maybe this outburst-”

“Okay, don't you need parent's consent or something to psychoanalyze me?” Tony interrupted.

“I'm more interested in your behavior than your state of mind.” The principle answered.

Jean frowned across the desk at him and turned her attention back to Tony, “You've had a hard year, your teachers have been noticing a change in your attitude.”

“They've been noticing a change in attitude and ambition for schoolwork.”

He crossed his arms over his chest, looking down at his feet.

“Maybe we could have a conversation, Tony.” Jean continued, “That is my job here and we think that you could benefit from talking about your situation.”

With an angry noise Tony snapped, “You don't know anything about my situation. And for your information, my outburst was directed at a teacher who was abusing his power with a traumatized student. I didn't just cause a scene to cause a scene.”

“Tony-”
“Instead of wrangling me, how about you keep an eye on the way your employees are teaching.” He said, pushing the chair back to stand.

“Tony, please sit-”

Tony had to reach forward for the desk, the sudden shift up had made him feel dizzy. Both adults stood in response, the movement had been to obvious for either to miss.

“Are you alright?”

“I'm fine.” Tony breathed, a death grip on the edge of the desk. His head was still spinning, but he didn't want them to fuss. He didn't want them to call home. He didn't want to pass out but it was so hard to hold himself up. His eyes started to roll back in his head and Jean reached forward to touch his arm.

“Maybe you should sit down.”

“I'm fine.” He shrugged her off, “Can I leave?”

“Should I get the nurse?”

“I'm fine.” He snapped, reaching up to cup his head, “Can I please go? I shouldn't yell at teachers, I get it.”

“Tony, I really think we should talk.”

“And I think you should talk to my parents before you sit me down for a therapy session. Unless you like getting sued.” He recoiled at how much like his father he had just sounded.

 

 

 

[So that was kind of..dramatic] Tony shoved his phone back in his pocket, ignoring Steve's text. He'd been ignoring Steve so much, even when he was face to face with him. He really didn't deserve Steve, he didn't deserve his friendship much less his affection.

He forced himself to ignore the dark car parked in the drive, forced himself to walk past. Inside the house, his father was sitting at the table, a hand to his mouth as he stared down at the marble top. Tony looked around, not seeing his mother but knowing she was there. He looked back at his father, his eyes looking glassy. She came down the stairs, Jarvis carrying things for her. She startled when she saw her son before her. There was a moment where no one moved, a silence where they all were thinking the same thing.

Tony took a deep breath and crossed his arms, “Were you just going to leave while I was at school? Maybe I wouldn't notice your things gone?”

Maria looked away and it made Tony's insides turn. Tony shook his head and turned around, too tired to really start anything, “Well, have a nice time, Mother.” He said as he exited the room to go lie on the couch. Maria followed him and poked her head in to see him fall down onto the leather. He draped an arm over his eyes and released an exasperated sigh. His head was pounding and moving took so much effort. His body hurt, having to work so hard just to get him through the day.

He knew he should eat something, anything. He was starting to forget his reasoning behind his fasting. In it's place was a manic desire to stay in control no matter how much it hurt. Maria frowned from the doorway, she wanted to speak, she wanted to go to him and hold him in her arms. But she was afraid of him. She didn't know the boy anymore and she didn't know what she could do for him. He could feel her presence, knew she was watching him, heard her weeping, heard when she turned away and left him. He curled in on himself, letting the exhaustion drain him of any action.

He woke to his father's fingers running through his hair. He sighed and rolled away so he was face to the back of the sofa.

“She left.” Howard sighed, still brushing Tony's hair.

“I'm sleeping.”

Howard sighed again, leaning back against the couch, “You should eat.”

“Mmn.”

“Why won't you eat?”

“Leave me alone.”

“Are you trying to kill yourself?” He asked, scowling down at the teenager's back.

“Runs in the family.” Tony muttered.

“Don't speak like that.” Howard growled, grabbing the front of Tony's shirt and hauling him up into a sitting position, “You don't speak like that, ever. You hear me?”

Tony sneered back at him, “That hit a nerve, Dad? Too many people trying to get away from you?”

He saw his father flinch, “Listen, you little brat..I give you everything, is respect really that much to ask from you? I give you everything. You asked for a car, I gave you a fucking car.”

Tony scoffed and stood, pulling away from Howard, “Yeah, that's all you ask of me.” The sudden movement made his head rush and he stumbled and fell back down onto the sofa. Howard had tried to catch him too late, looking bewildered.

“Why the fuck are you doing this to yourself?” He asked, exasperatedly, hands pawing at him to make sure he was alright, “You can't even stand properly!”

Tony shrugged away from him, really too tired to fight. Howard stood and left, making noises in the kitchen with a blender. He returned with a glass of something and shoved it into Tony's hand, “Drink it.”

Tony glared at him, “I don't want it.”

“If you don't drink it yourself, I will hold you down and force it down your throat.”

Tony narrowed his eyes, “Wouldn't be the first time you've held me down.”

“Drink it or I will take you to a hospital!” Howard threatened, standing in front of him to watch it happen. Tony let out an angry exhale and sipped the drink, hating himself for giving in.

 


Howard made a noise when Sara Rogers touched his shoulder, she was always reaching out to make contact.

“Where's Tony?” She asked, glancing over at the Steve and Bruce, asking the question the two boys were obviously wondering.

Howard sighed, raising a hand up to rub his eyes. He needed more to drink, “In the garage. Fucking delusional..can't think straight..”

Steve turned, grabbing Bruce's arm and pulling him along, already knowing the way. They could hear the music pounding before they even got to the garage. Bruce winced at the sound when Steve opened the door, it was so loud, like someone shouting. Inside Tony's car was scattered around the garage, almost completely taken apart now. Steve made a noise and Bruce shrunk in on himself.

“Tony?” Steve called out, looking at the broken windshield, “Tony?”

He glanced at Bruce and then stepped forward, moving around the remains of the car where he found Tony on the concrete floor. Tools in hand, he was slicing the car open and pulling out it's organs. Usually when Steve caught Tony working on a machine it was messy, but he could see the creation happening. Here, Tony was just ripping the car apart.

“Tony,” Steve kneeled down and touched Tony's knee, “Tony, stop. It's dead already.”

Tony looked up at the other and exhaled like he'd forgotten to breathe the whole time he'd been alone.

“What are you doing?” Steve asked, wrapping an arm around Tony.

Tony closed his eyes and leaned against Steve, “She came home. And then she left.”

Steve looked over at Bruce and sighed, pulling Tony closer, “I'm sorry. You know she's not gone for good.”

Tony shrugged against Steve's chest, “She didn't take all her prescriptions with her, I kind of think she left them for me.”

“What?” Steve frowned in confusion, brushing Tony's hair away from his ear, “When was the last time you ate?”

Tony scowled and yanked away, “I'm fine, Stee-ve. I don't care if she's gone, she was always gone. At least now I don't need to babysit. Now I can fuck up myself, since she's got a whole staff watching her.” He slumped against the car, briefly closing his eyes. Drinking really did seem like a good idea now. Now that he didn't have to watch after his mother he could drink all he wanted, he could turn into her if he wanted.

He glanced down at the scattered parts and chuckled, “Do you have any idea how expensive this car was?” He grinned up at Steve and then over at Bruce, “And now it's worthless. That's a lot of power, being able to make something so beautiful into a pile of junk.”

Bruce realized he was shaking as he pulled his cellphone from his pants pocket. He hastily pulled up Steve's number and started typing.

[I need to tell you something. About Tony.]

Chapter Text

 

“What?” Steve sighed, exhausted after dealing with Tony. His life had become one big dealing with Tony, “What did you want to say?”

Bruce took a deep breath, trying to force the words out. This wasn't going to be as easy as he thought, though honestly he hadn't thought it would be easy at all. He knew he'd have to talk fast, something he was bad at. He knew what he needed to say, he just didn't know how to say it. He opened his mouth and then promptly shut it.

Steve rolled his eyes, he was used to this dance with Bruce but he wasn't in the mood for it, “What Bruce?”

He took another deep breath, “Tony...hm..”

Steve pursed his lips and let out another sigh, “Bruce..”

Bruce jumped a little and nodded, “S-Sorry. T-Tony..” He let out an angry sound at himself, “Tony's...Tony's..h-his father..”

“What Bruce? He's a dick, everyone knows that. Makes Tony crazy..” Steve grumbled.

Bruce frowned, annoyed at how Steve kept interrupting him. He wished he could just spit it out like a normal person would but he was afraid of Steve's reaction.

Steve sighed, “I'm sorry, what is it?”

“Tony's father...” He couldn't stop shaking, his heart was pounding like a drum in his ears, “His father abuses him.”

Steve faltered for a moment and then his features hardened, “You think I don't know that? Jesus, you're here for a couple months and you think you're his only friend? Their whole family is fucked up, it's kind of obvious.”

Bruce sighed, shrinking away, “No....ugh, Steve, I mean sexually..”

Steve frowned in confusion, “What?..Why would you say that? Why would you say something like that?”

Bruce's arms wrapped around himself as Steve bristled, “He told me.”

Steve snorted, “No. He may have a sick sense of humor but he wouldn't say that.”

“H-He told me.,” Bruce repeated, “he was drunk but-”

“Even if he did, why would you believe something he says while drunk?”

Bruce frowned, wishing he hadn't said anything at all, “It was when-”

“And who are you to talk about abuse? You come to school looking like an actual punching bag.”

Bruce sighed again, wishing he hadn't flinched, “I-I..” He had to pause to keep the shaking from his voice, “I told you, so you could do something.”

Steve frowned, angry that Bruce was still talking. That he sounded so serious and sure, “That's fucked up, Bruce.”

In a moment of frustration and bravery Bruce retorted, “Well it's fucked up that you don't notice.”

Steve watched as Bruce walked away with his hands jammed in his pockets. He turned and went inside, hands balled into fists. He heard his mother talking in the kitchen, heard his father's reply.

“That house...” Sara growled, shaking her head as she started cleaning around the kitchen, “All of them...they're all just so..ugh, Maria has signed into rehabilitation for at least five months. God knows she needs it, but those two are just left alone to clean up the mess. Howard is a zombie and Tony...Joe, that boy..he'd torn his car apart.”

“He did that to Steve's once, right?” Joe asked.

“No, it was smashed up, not a tune up. Steve looked at me like I could fix it..”

“Are they still dating?”

“Yes, Joe,” Sara sighed, aiming a glare at him, “You know they are. Steve's too devoted to be spooked off. He's gotten so thin..I'm really worried about them.”

“Having Maria gone might make things easier on them,” Joe replied, looking up when Steve leaned against the doorframe.

Sara was about to continue but stopped herself when she saw her son, “Are you hungry, Sweetie?”

“No,” He shook his head, arms crossing over his chest. He just stood there for a moment, “Why did she do it?”

His parents exchanged glances and then his father said, “She's always been an unhappy woman.”

“But lots of people are unhappy and they don't try to kill themselves.”

“We don't know why, Steve.” Maria sighed, returning to the spotless kitchen, “She's troubled.”

“All three of them are.” Joe grumbled.

“Then why are you friends with them?” Steve asked, voice accusatory.

“Well, why are you so in love with their son?” Joe asked seriously in reply. Steve was taken aback by his father's use of the word love, “You care about him and that explains it all, right?”

Steve pursed his lips, thinking about what Bruce had said to him. His eyes started to tear up and he stomped away, both his parents exchanging confused looks. He didn't want to cry, crying would mean he believed it and he didn't. He didn't believe any of it. There was no way something like that was going on without his knowledge. That was something too awful to just continue under everyone's gaze.

How could he not know if something like that was happening?

 


Steve. Steve! You know what we should do?” Tony exclaimed, slapping Steve's arm.

Are you stoned?”

A little bit,” He scrunched up his face apologetically, “not the point. Steve! We should skip today.”

Steve chuckled at Tony's excitement, “But we're already here.”

That's exactly why we should leave.” Tony rolled his eyes, slapping Steve's locker shut, “We could go to the beach or-”
“You always want to go to the beach.”

True,” Tony nodded, pointing a finger back at the other, “the beach is better than anything. Come on let's skip class and go somewhere.”

Steve knew he should say no, it was suppose to be his job to keep Tony in check. But Tony looked so bubbly, it made Steve want to do anything he could come up with. He glanced around at the other people passing by on their way to class, at the teachers on their own misions or watching to catch bad behavior. In the beginning of Freshman year Tony had been good, but now that he knew what he could get away with, Tony was harder to keep in class.

You're going to get us in trouble.”

Eventually, probably.” Tony shrugged with a grin. He took Steve's hand and gave it a tug, “Come on, Stephanie. Let's go have some fun. It's not like you're going to learn anything today anyway.”

Steve chuckled as Tony bounced. He rolled his eyes and groaned, “Ughhh, fine.”

Tony beamed, “That's my boy.”

Steve couldn't help but smile back, that grin was just too damn infectious. Tony made him want to go on adventures and get in trouble, it was a problem. He tried to keep them on the right path, but Tony could easily talk him into anything.



Tony wrapped a towel around himself as he stepped out of the shower. He shook his wet hair and ran a hand through it to push it from his face. There was very little steam because he'd left the window open, so when he glanced at the mirror he was able get a good look at himself. He looked so little. He touched his side, feeling the rib protruding under the skin. He brushed his fingers over his stomach, watching the movement in the mirror.

He frowned, realizing the sight had pleased him. Seeing how small he'd gotten had made him happy. He looked himself in the eye, wondering when that had happened. When it began, he restricted food to put off his father, but now it seemed to have transformed into something else. He shook his head, hating how abnormal he'd gotten. He used to have a real personality and he felt like he'd lost it, like his mother had lost hers.

He pulled open a drawer and pulled out a bottle of muscle relaxers. He now kept them in his own bathroom so he didn't have to go looking for them. Once upon a time he wouldn't have touched them, but he'd let go of a lot of his values and expectations of himself.

 

 


Around the age of sixteen is when Tony started getting really bratty. At fifteen he was still figuring himself out and let Howard direct everything. But at sixteen he started realizing sex gave him power over his father. He learned that through teasing or withholding sex he could bend his father. If he wanted something he'd work Howard to get that. He would brush up against his father while asking to go out or walking around nearly nude if Howard had forbid something.

Tony had been asking for a car for a while, practically at every conversation. So when he was hanging around Howard's office he had a good idea what Tony was after.

Whatever it is, the answer is no.” Howard said, eyes glued to his computer.

I haven't said anything yet,” Tony pouted, crossing his arms as he sat on the edge of the desk.

Howard frowned and looked up, tapping Tony's knee with his pen to indicate he should move, “You always want something.”

You don't even know what I'm asking.”

I'm busy, Anthony.” He answered, pushing at Tony's thigh to get him off the desk. Tony slid off, pout still in place on his face. He dragged a hand across his father's own thigh as he kneeled between his legs.

I just want to talk,” He purred, smirking when his father's gaze pulled away from his work, “Can't we talk?”

Howard leaned back in his chair as Tony's hands slid across his legs, “Mm..I need to work. I don't want to talk about a car again.”

Tony rested his head on Howard's knee as he looked up at him. Howard reached forward and brushed his hand through Tony's dark hair. He really did have work to deal with, but now that Tony was down on his knees he knew he wouldn't be able to focus even if Tony were to leave the room. He glanced toward the door, making sure it had been shut. Tony's eyes flicked up to his own as he unzipped his pants. The flirty expression faded from his face as his father pulled his head forward and offered up his cock to Tony's mouth. Tony sucked for a minute, long enough to hear his father moan and then he pulled away. Howard frowned in confusion as Tony sat back on his heels.

I don't think a car's that much to ask for.” Tony said, tilting his head as he dragged his fingers over Howard's thigh.

Ugh, no. Come back here.” He snapped, reaching out to grab Tony's head.

Tony let himself be pulled forward and teased his tongue over the sensitive skin, earning a frustrated noise from his father. He rested his head on Howard's knee again and looked up innocently.

Stop it.”

Stop what?”

Howard sighed, letting his head fall back, “Ugh, you're such a brat.”

Mm, especially when you aren't getting your way, huh?” Tony smirked, leaning back, knowing he was driving his father crazy, “It's always about what you want. Can't we just talk about what I want for a second?” As he spoke he leaned forward again, tongue dragging over his father's cock in between words. Howard squeezed his eyes shut, wondering when exactly Tony got so good at this, when he got so impish.

You're still too young.”

Tony sighed with a pout, “Well, maybe you're right. Maybe I'm too young.”

When Howard opened his eyes Tony was staring back at him with eyebrows raised and a pointed look. He let out a frustrated sigh and grabbed the back of Tony's head, running his fingers through Tony's hair again, “We'll talk more about it later.”

Okay,” Tony replied, pulling his head away and standing, “so we'll finish later.”

Too much of that behavior brought out Howard's aggression and was soon stomped out. Tony couldn't have power over Howard if Howard was the one with more force.

 

 

Chapter Text


Let's go out,” Tony said, cradling the phone on his shoulder as he searched for a hoodie.

Steve really hadn't been expecting Tony to want to go anywhere, “Uh, okay, where?”

“There's got to be a party somewhere.” Tony answered with a shrug no one would see.

Steve sighed, “I mean if that's what you want, but we could just stay in and-”

Tony tossed the phone on the bed so he could pull the sweatshirt over his head. He scooped the phone back up and rolled his eyes as Steve continued to spin a possible night in, “Steeeeve, come on, I just want to go out. I'm sick of being here.”

Okay,” He nodded, grateful that Tony wanted to something. A small voice in the back of Steve's mind pointed out that he knew exactly why Tony wanted out of that house. “You want me to come get you?”

“I mean, I'm kind of without a car right now.” Tony chuckled.

Steve rolled his eyes, “You haven't put it back together already? You're losing your touch, Boss.”

   On the other end Tony smiled, suddenly desiring a hug from Steve. He slipped out of his room, a couple of his mother's barbiturates tucked in his jeans pocket if he needed them. He passed silently through the hall and slinked through the door without a sound, he knew his father was drinking tonight and he didn't want to be home for that. Earlier, when Howard had first opened the bottle, Tony had gotten in the way and he didn't plan on a repeat.

  He shoved his hands in the pockets of his sweatshirt, walking at a fast pace just until he couldn't see the house anymore. It suddenly dawned on him that someone was going to ask why he was wearing layers with the weather getting so warm. He walked up the Roger's driveway just as Steve was leaving the house.

He startled to see Tony, “I thought I was picking you up?”

Tony shrugged, walking over with his hands still in his pockets. He stood on tip toe to kiss Steve's cheek, “You were taking too long.”

Steve made a face, “You're ridiculous.”

Tony smirked, “True.”

Steve watched as Tony turned to get into the jeep, “You still want a party?” He asked as he slid into the driver's seat.

Always.”

“Do you want to stop and get food?”

“If you want.” He shrugged, tucking his legs up under him on the seat, “I don't need anything.”

Steve sighed but didn't push the issue. He knew Tony would brighten once they got to the party, Tony would have an audience and he'd put on a pleasant face. Everyone else was celebrating the end of the school year, undisturbed by the crisis in Tony's life. Betty had dragged Bruce to the party, wanting to start the summer correctly.

“We won't stay long.”

“'S fine,” Bruce mumbled.

“Oh, there's Steve and Tony,” She pointed, grabbing Bruce's hand. Bruce sucked in his breath, he hadn't seen either since he'd told Steve. Betty had to give a yank, something she'd gotten used to, because Bruce had dug his heels into the ground. As they got closer Steve veered off, mentioning drinks.

“Hey, Honey,” Betty said, pulling Tony into a hug, “it's good to see you out.”

“Out and proud.” Tony muttered sarcastically, glancing over his shoulder. The house was vibrating with bodies and base pounding from speakers. Clint was somewhere singing and Thor sashayed over and wrapped an arm around Tony's neck and pulled him into a one armed hug.

“You've been absent too long!” Thor boomed, “You look thirsty, get this Bro a drink!”

“Already on it,” Steve said, pushing a red cup into Tony's hand.

You two have been seriously lame on the party front. Friday nights are not for staying in and watching Netflix!”

“Yeah, Steve.” Tony nodded into his cup as he downed the drink. He handed off the empty cup to Thor and took Steve's,“Get me another, Sweetheart.”

“That's right!” Thor cheered as he danced off on his mission.

Steve ran a hand through Tony's hair as he downed the second cup. He felt overly sensitive to protect Tony around crowds. Clint finally came into view and passed off a joint, Tony accepting it happily.

“Merry summer!” Clint squealed.

“I'll probably have to do summer school with all the class I've missed,” Tony said through a puff.

“No way, you slide by no matter what you do.”

“That's why I gotta keep testing the limits.” Tony nodded, leaning back against Steve's chest.

Steve, sober because he had to drive them home, watched Tony drink more and more. Normally Tony was so reserved with alcohol, Steve knew both Tony's parents were the cause. So it was strange how drunk he was letting himself get.

“Are you okay?” He asked, leaning down to speak softly as the music boomed, “You ate today, right?”

Tony smiled and nodded, reaching up and cupping Steve's chin and pulling him down for a kiss. At first it was just a quick peck and then Tony pulled him back for a deeper kiss.

Clint danced over and grabbed Tony's hand, “Stop monopolizing him!”

“Yeah, Stephanie,” Tony grinned as he was dragged off. Steve watched him go, unable to shake the gnawing feeling in his stomach. He thought coming to this party would help them both forget for a while, but it really wasn't working.

“Maximoff's got some good stuff. Thought you could use a pick up.” Clint shouted over the music. Tony didn't ask what he was snorting but he had an idea. God, why had he denied himself for so long? He could have been turning his brain off all this time. Loki came up to him and started speaking but the music was too loud. Steve glanced over from his own conversation and saw Tony make that lizard face he got whenever he wasn't interested. His eyes got hooded and his lip would curl, it was an awful face. When Tony recoiled at Loki's touch, Steve had had enough. He strode over and positioned himself in front of Tony.

“Oh, big bad boyfriend.” Loki murmured, backing up, “What? He can't even talk to anyone else?”

“Since when do you need to talk with your hands?” Steve snapped, turning and directing Tony away, a gentle but tight grip on his elbow, “God, I hate when people do that. Always fucking pawing at you, like I don't exist.”

“Mm.” Tony nodded as he followed Steve out onto the balcony overlooking the lake. Down at the water people were building a fire and jumping off the dock into the dark calm water. He pulled a cigarette from the pocket of his hoodie and placed it between his lips.

Steve suddenly felt bad for dragging Tony off like he had, “Sorry, I know..I wasn't trying to..you just looked uncomfortable.”

“Story of my life,” Tony nodded, looking down as he tried to light the cigarette. Steve hadn't noticed Tony's shaking hands until now. Tony blew out a stream of smoke, “Always have to come hide behind you.”

“Tony-”

“Look at those morons in the lake, it's freezing.” Tony pointed as he leaned against the railing.

Steve frowned, “It's really not.”

Sure it was cooler out in the night air but they could officially call it summer, Tony shouldn't be cold. He glanced back into the house, seeing their friends enjoying themselves. Tony used to be like that, sometimes he even pretends he still is.

“God, why do we come to these things?” Tony mused, rubbing his arms.

“Tony-”

“I know it was my idea,” He chuckled, pulling the cigarette from his lips to blow out the smoke, “But since when do I have good ideas?”

Steve sighed, “Tony-”

“Maybe I'm just not drinking enough to enjoy it properly. That's the big secret right? You have to be hammered to actually like this stuff?”

“Tony, let me talk!”

Tony froze, surprised by Steve's tone. He tapped off the ash of his cigarette and repositioned himself, “What?”

Now that he had Tony's attention he didn't know how to bring it up, “Tony, I need to ask what's going on at home.”

He saw the change in Tony's expression, it was small but he saw it, “Things suck, you know that.”

Steve frowned, he wanted to drop it but he knew he couldn't, “Bruce said something..”

Tony's heart jumped into his throat but he tried not to let it show, “Let's go back inside.”

God, Bruce had been telling the truth, “Tony-”

Tony flicked his cigarette and grabbed Steve's hand, trying to pull him in the direction of the light, “Come dance with me. When was the last-”

“Tony, I know! I know what's going on.”

Tony dropped Steve's hand and crossed his arms. Sinking in on himself protectively.

Steve frowned sympathetically, reaching out to touch the other, “Tony-”
Tony flinched away, sobering instantly, “Don't. What do you think you know, Steve? What do you know about my life?”

If it's true-

If what's true, Steve? Tell me what exactly you think you know.” Tony snapped. His eyes were slits and God he looked like Howard. Tony's sudden surge of anger was terrifying, “What did Bruce say? Or did he use his usual sign language?”

Bruce saw them fighting and heard his name and while he wanted to slink away, he found himself walking toward them. When he came into Tony's line of sight, Tony sneered, “What the fuck have you been saying?”

Bruce flinched when Tony advanced, Steve grabbed Tony's elbow, Tony whirling back on the other, “Get your hand off me!”

Tony-” Bruce tried.

Tony rounded back on the other, “Stick with the fucking silent act, you little asshole.”

“Hey, he's trying to help.” Steve interjected, “If that's really going on-”

“What? What's going on, Steve?! You can't even say it!”

Steve's chest ached for him, he looked trapped, so desperate to flee. He reached out, trying to offer a soft touch but Tony jerked away.

“Tony..” Bruce tried, looking so apologetic, “Y-You can't..someone needs to do something...”

“Oh yeah?” Tony sneered, “Like someone needs to remove you from your after-school-special horror house of a home?”

Bruce flinched but didn't shrink away, “I'm s-sorry. But you c-can't keep...existing like that.”

Tony's expression changed for a moment. All the work it took keeping his secret was now for nothing. He glanced at Steve, who was staring at him like a mess on the floor. He was never going to look at Tony right again. He hugged his arms around himself defensively, “You don't know what you're talking about.”

Bruce sighed and glanced at Steve who looked heartbroken. Steve tried to reach out to Tony once more, “I swear, if you grab at me one more time..” He hissed, backing away. He started making that terrible gasping noise, despite his best efforts to push it down.

Tony, please,” Steve begged.

“Why a-are you doing this to me?” Tony whimpered, squeezing his eyes shut and rocked back on his heels.

“Tony-”
“Stop! Just stop!” He snapped, rushing past before either could get in the way. He found Thor and asked, “How drunk are you?”

“Believe it or not, hardly.” Thor answered sadly, sounding ashamed, “I said I'd dri-”

“Take me home.” He demanded, grabbing Thor's hand and yanking him away.

“Tony!” Steve called, trying to push through people.

“Wait, I think Steve-”

“I want to leave.” Tony snapped. His head was pounding and his brain just couldn't take any more of this.

Thor nodded and followed after Tony, “Are you okay?” He asked when they got into the truck.

“I just need to go home.”

Thor tried once again when he stopped the car in front of Tony's house. He turned in his seat to face the other, “If you need-”

“Listen, you're not getting any tonight,” Tony sighed as he opened the door and slid from the passenger seat, “Thanks for the ride.”

“Ugh, that's not-”

The slam of the car door ended Thor's sentence. The second Tony was inside the house he let go of the control he'd been holding onto. He let out a strangled noise as he let his head thud against the front door. His chest ached and it felt like his brain was on fire. There was so much going on in his head and his thoughts were so confused. He wrapped his arms around himself, collapsing in on himself. It felt like the world was trying to swallow him up.

Steve. Steve. Steve. Steve. Steve. How could he live now that Steve knew? The pitying look Steve had given him.. he would never see Tony again, he'd just see a disgusting freak. He started scratching at his jumping skin, dragging his nails down the length of his arms. Skin peeled under his nails, revealing a red blush of pain. Not painful enough. He strode to the dark kitchen and yanked open a drawer. The knife was clean of course but he wasn't concerned. He dragged the silver down his wrist, releasing a sigh of relief. He closed his eyes and breathed smoothly for the first time that night. He didn't know if it was because he was drunk or stoned or what but this was the most calm he had felt in a very long time. He froze at the familiar sound of his father. He threw the knife in the sink and grabbed a towel and pressed it against his arm.

“Where have you been?” Howard demanded. He definitely hadn't sobered since Tony had left, “You're always slinking away. Off to suck someone else's cock I'm sure. What are you doing? What have you got?”

He strode forward and ripped the bloody cloth from the teenager. His expression changed instantly, “No. No you don't get to do that.” Tony tried to back away but Howard had a tight grip on his arm, “Oh no you don't. You don't get to leave me.”

He dragged Tony from the kitchen and down the hall. He shoved Tony into the office and yanked open the top drawer of the desk, pulling out his gun. An unconscious gasp escaped Tony's lips and he skidded away in fear. Howard rounded on him, shoving him against the bookcase with one arm against his chest and holding the gun to his chin with the other.

“You want to die? You want to leave me so bad?” He growled, teeth scraping Tony's cheek he was so close, “Then how about I do it right now? Take the both of us right now if that's what you want.”

 

Chapter Text

 

 

"Answer the goddamn phone!"

 

 

He dragged Tony from the kitchen and down the hall. He shoved Tony into the office and yanked open the top drawer of the desk, pulling out his gun. An unconscious gasp escaped Tony's lips and he skidded away in fear. Howard rounded on him, shoving him against the book shelf.

“You want to die? You want to leave me so bad?” He growled, teeth scraping Tony's cheek he was so close, “Then how about I do it right now? Take the both of us right now if that's what you want.”

Tony shook his head, his eyes squeezed shut as he whimpered, “No.”

  No he didn’t want to die. He’d often longed for death, wanted to slip away from everything. He never thought it was a peace he deserved. But now that his father was shoving it in his face, offering it up like a gift to the both of them, he wanted none of it. He hadn’t been asking for death when he’d cut his arm, he just wanted to feet something.

“You're just like her! Tempting me and blaming me for your unhappiness!”

   The barrel of the gun was cold on his burning skin, shaking in his father’s hand, “ I’m not the reason you hate your life. You hate your life because of your mistakes, not mine! I’m not-”

   All the usual poise his father carried around was gone, replaced by rage and panic and it was terrifying. Tony felt tears on his cheeks, felt his own body shaking, his lip trembling. Howard laced his fingers in Tony’s hair and forced him forward, cradling the back of his head so he was pressed against his own chest. The gentle fingers on his neck made his skin crawl.

     “This is the only way to fix it, you know that.” Howard said in a hushed voice, tightening his grip on Tony’s hair.

 “Please...stop, please..” Tony whispered, shaking as he felt the gun be pressed against his temple, “You’re scaring me.”

  Howard let out a sigh, closing his eyes like he was exhausted, “Ugh, stop whining. You’re always whining and crying. Why do you have to be so disappointing?”

Tony sucked in his breath, his throat burning and his body aching with the tension in his joints. He wanted it to stop. He wanted his father to drop the gun and apologize. He wished Steve…..Steve.. Steve knowing it all was like having the eyes of the entire world on him. His mother knew, Steve knew. He didn’t have anyone else left. The man holding a gun to his face was the most honest relationship he had.

  He took a ragged breath and looked into his father’s face, “Just do it then.”

Noise erupted like a boiling pot, screaming and yelling and limbs. And then Tony was being dragged outside by big arms, a familiar voice trying to keep calm, Joe Rogers.

  “You’re okay, come on, walk for me.”

The sudden night air was a shock to his system. He dug his heels into the ground as whatever contents in his stomach came up, making him heave over. There wasn’t much but it was enough to be painful. And a gunshot came from the house, making both Tony and Joe swivel around. The older man grabbed Tony just as he was about to dart back toward the house, yanking him backwards.

  “No! No, come this way. We need to- Tony, come. My partner-”

“Let go of me!”

Then he was being shoved into a car, pulled out again in front of a hospital, placed in front of a doctor who wanted answers. Joe stood to his right, taking on a phone. After a call with his partner, letting him know Howard was alive, he called his wife. Out of the corner of his eye he watched Tony’s arm be wrapped up, the teenager’s eyes dead.

  “No, no I don’t care how upset he is, this would just upset him more. Keep him there. I don’t know how long we’ll be here. They’re going to need to do-”

 “No.” Tony answered flatly, making the doctor’s aid sigh.

Joe pulled away from the phone conversation with his wife, “Tony..”

  “ No .” He repeated, jaw tight and body closed off.

“They need to run tests, Tony. I know it’s uncomfortable-”

  Tony’s eyes darted over and squared with Joe’s, “You don’t know anything .”

“The thing is,” The doctor cut in softly, “if we are to get any evidence, sooner is better than later..”

   There was no point, Howard hadn’t done anything recently. They weren’t going to find “evidence”. Tony let them examine him without a shirt, his ribs and bruises being noted on a clipboard, and he took off his pants so they could find every bruise when prodded enough. But he wouldn’t let them examine him like he was a goddamn rape victim.

 Fuck.

 No, no that’s wasn’t it.

“I understand what we’re asking of you is hard, but if it’s important to you to make things right, this is an unfortunate necessity. And it has to be done now. It’s hard to make a claim without evidence. It’s very difficult to prove this sort of thing.”

“When did I say I wanted to prove anything?” Tony mumbled.

 Joe frowned and crossed his arms, “Was I misinformed?”

Tony didn’t answer right away, he still wanted to pretend none of them knew, “Look at who your informant was..”

 Joe leaned in, speaking softer, “Tony, was Steve wrong?”

Tony sunk in on himself, looking down at the the floor. His arms were crossed over his chest defensively, hating them for asking to prove he’d been violated by letting someone else violate him, “I didn’t ask for this..”

 Joe glanced at the nurse then back to the teen, “Of course n-”

“I didn’t fucking ask to be saved!”




Sara scooped him up into her arms while Steve stayed a distance away. It had already changed their relationship.

 “Oh honey..” She cupped the back of his head to hold him close. Her grip was tight, desperate, like she was afraid he’d slip away. Seeing his arm, she took a sharp inhale of breath. She looked up to her husband for answers, “Joe.”

He shook his head, “He’s alright, no real danger.”

She scowled at him, hugging Tony to her chest again, “No real danger.. “

“What happened?” Steve asked, the question directed at his father.

 “Tony’s going to stay here for a while.”

“Do you want something to eat, Tony? Something to drink.”

“I want a cigarette.” He muttered as he slid out of her grip.

  “They gave him a sedative,” Joe mumbled as explanation, “”He was pretty upset.”

They watched as Tony shuffled into the next room. Each silent until he was gone.

“Is he okay?”

“What happened?”

  “Howard had a gun to his head.”

“Oh my god!”

 Joe nodded, “Honestly, when Steve called raving I didn’t believe it. But god, when we went in they were screaming at each other. I grabbed Tony while Dave grabbed Howard, he fought me pretty hard until he realized who I was.”

 Sara covered her mouth with her hand as she listened. Steve’s arms crossed over his chest, shaking as he listened.

“He was having a panic attack, couldn’t even get him to walk at first, blood running down his arm. But at the hospital he clammed up, acted like nothing had happened. I think that’s what he was trying to make me believe. He wouldn’t let the doctor touch him for the longest time.”

 Sara winced, “Were they able to examine him?”

Joe glanced at Steve then back at his wife, “Not properly, it’s going to be a problem.”

“What do you mean?” Steve frowned, “What’s a problem?”

His father sighed, uncomfortable talking about it with his son, “If there’s going to be a case against..Howard for..molest..it’s pretty important to have evidence. He was refusing the exam. And honestly, I don’t know if-”

 Steve looked at him like he had cursed at him, “You wanted him to get naked to prove he’d been raped right after he’d had a gun to his head?”

  Joe sighed again, “It’s time senstive, Steve.”

“Jesus, that’s terrible!” He stalked off in the direction Tony had gone. Tony had flopped on the couch and was curled up facing away. Steve wanted to touch him, but he was afraid to. He was afraid of spooking him or something. Now that he knew the truth, it felt like Tony might explode at any moment. Tony’s body was tense on the couch, he listened for Steve to walk away. Steve stared at him for what felt like forever, and finally he left Tony where he was.

  He could still hear the Rogers speaking in the kitchen, his name being said over and over again. He pulled the pillow over his face and let out a silent sob. He wanted to die. None of this felt real, it felt like a nightmare he just couldn’t wake from. He held the pillow over his face until he couldn’t stand it any longer.

 

   

Tony woke the next morning, still on the couch, to the sound of angry voices.

“No!” Steve snapped.

 “It’s the last day,” His mother sighed.

“Exactly, it’s the last day, what am I going to miss? I want to be here for him.”

“Well did you consider he might not want to see you? I know you want to take care of him, but he’s probably feeling pretty awful about himself right now.”

“He knows I don’t-”

  “Steve honey, try to put yourself in his shoes. He’s going to be embarrassed and miserable. Giving him a little space today is the best thing you can do for him.”

 Steve frowned back at his mother, arms crossed over his chest. He knew she was probably right but he didn’t want to accept it. Deep down he knew that he wouldn’t know what to say to Tony even if he did stay

When Steve had left, Sara walked into the living room and leaned against the door frame.

  “Do you want anything, Hun? Should really eat. Maybe call up your mother.”

Tony turned his head to look over at her, then he uncurled himself and sat up, tucking his legs under him.

 “What’s going to happen?”

She sighed and sat down on the edge of the couch, “Well, domestic violence was witnessed..no matter which way you look at it. And that will need to be addressed. That could go a number of ways.”

 She took his hand in hers and gave it a squeeze, “I know this is hard, Sweetie, but I need to ask. What was going on? What was happening last night when Joe came?”

 Tony fidgeted on the couch, “We were fighting. He had been drinking.”

Sara nodded, aching to ask the real question but afraid of scaring him, “What happened at the hospital? Joe said there was a problem?”

  Tony pulled his hand from hers and shrugged, “It was just..I was upset.”

She nodded, “Of course you were.”

 They were both silent for a while. The question hanging in the air between them.

“Tony,” Sara began with a sigh, “has your father ever, touched you inappropriately?”

“You mean aside from getting hit in the face?” He retorted, trying for a sarcastic tone and failing. He so desperately wanted to answer “YES”. He wanted to tell her everything, he wanted someone else to deal with it.

  She saw the tension creeping up in his shoulders, saw his lips tighten and saw the fear in his eyes. She worried that maybe she was pushing too hard. With a sigh, she placed her hand on his once more, “I really think you should eat something, Sweetie. What could I make for you?”

Tony sighed and looked down at his hands, his shaking hands, “Um..yeah, sure…” Sara waited, sensing there was something else he wanted to say, “He hates it when I’m bratty and he hates when I talk back and..he doesn’t like it when.. I get thin....h-he likes my body a certain way..”

  Sara took a deep breath and continued to listen, making sure she didn’t let her reaction show.

“If I don’t eat..” He sighed, finally looking her in the eye, “he finds me less..appealing.”

She bit her lip and covered her mouth. He shot up and started pacing. He couldn’t believe he’d said it.

 “Tony, Tony, it’s okay!” Sara exclaimed, raising her hands.

He placed his hands on his hips and tried to shove down the panic attack that was taking over his body. He almost didn’t want to fight it, he wanted it to swallow him up and kill him. He dragged his fingers through his hair, willing the world to stop spinning.

 “Tony, it’s alright,” She insisted, “you’re not in trouble. No one-””

Real tears started to fall from his eyes as he sunk to the floor, melting in front of her. He sucked at the air like he was drowning. She kneeled down next to him and pulled him close to her chest. She had watched him grow up, watched him grow from a boy to a young man but she’d never seen him so small.

  “Listen, listen,” She shushed, taking his face in her hands so she could look him in the eye, “none of this is your fault and I promise you that I will never let it happen again. You’re safe now. You’re safe, Tony.”

 She held him for a long time, wanting him to feel her protective arms as long as he would allow. She didn’t push any questions on him, she just wanted him to calm down. After he’d finally stopped crying she pulled him up.

  “I insist that you eat, what would you like?”

He shrugged his shoulders up around his ears, “I dunno.”

 She sighed softly, “Maybe something light?”

He nodded, relieved that she didn’t want him to eat a big meal. In the kitchen she dialed the only number she knew to reach Maria at. It took a while to get someone to speak on the phone and even then she had to argue and fight before she got to speak to Maria. She tried to keep quiet because she didn’t want Tony to overhear, but she was having a hard time with it as she was getting angrier by the minute. Speaking with Maria was like talking to a dishrag, she sounded half asleep and it really didn’t sound like she understood what Sara was saying.

 “Maria..I know you’re working through something important,” Sara sighed, rubbing her forehead, “But your son is going through a crisis of his own.”

“I really can’t help him until I fix myself.”

 “You’re not listening, Howard had a gun to his head! Tony all but told me that he’s been molesting him! He needs you right now!”

 There was a silence before Maria spoke again, a silence that Sara assumed was a mother absorbing the horrible information, “He really doesn’t.”

 “What? Wha-”

 “What sort of mother must I be for my son and husband to be…”

Sara couldn’t believe what she was hearing, “Maria! This isn’t something Tony is doing to you ! This is something that is happening to him !”

  From the next room, Tony hugged his arms around his middle. Listening to someone talk about his shame made him feel like he was being torn from the inside out. His surrogate mother talking to his actual mother about what he and Howard did was just unimaginable. He thought he was going to throw up.

   “I can’t believe you’d think that!” Sara exclaimed, slapping her hand on the countertop in anger, “First of all he’s a minor, he can’t give consent to an adult! Secondly, he broke down in front of me. They had to bandage up his arm because he cut himself! He told me that he’s been starving himself to put off Howard’s advances! He needs a parent right now!”

 After she slammed the phone down she stomped back into the living room and pulled Tony into a hug. She squeezed him close, “None of this is your fault. I’m so sorry we didn’t do something. I’m so sorry we let this happen to you.”

  Surprised by the sudden contact, he could only imagine what his mother had said about him. About what she thought was true.