Tony Stark doesn’t remember the day the world’s outlook on Weres changed. He’d spent the better part of three decades hiding half of who he was and suddenly, almost overnight, it was okay to be a Were.
Centuries of persecution can’t be erased by a few laws though, and Tony knew there were thousands, just like him, who still hid their nature from those around them for fear they’d be hunted and captured for experimentation or killed. Or even worse, to be had as a pet by the highest bidder.
Tony’s a smart man and no person could deny that fact. He knew that, if he felt like it, he could shift in the middle of one of his press conferences and nobody could say boo-who-shit about it. But he also knew that, if he did that, his business would most likely tank overnight.
Tony remembers vaguely the day the existence of Weres was broadcast to the world and he, like the masses of other Weres, cowered in hiding, fearing a mass culling on the horizon.
A semi-famous actress had gone missing months before on Safari in Africa, the only trace of her existence the tattered remains of her clothes. Searchers had rapidly given up hope after a few weeks, figuring the lack of ransom demand meant she’d been eaten by one of the many predators that stalked the African plains. If only they had know how drastically the actress's disappearance would change the world.
Months later, rangers partnered with the WWF darted a Giant Sable Antelope to track for their conservation efforts. Much to their shock and surprise what they discovered was no antelope, but rather the missing actress. Tony would almost think the story funny if it hadn’t put thousands of lives in jeopardy, including his own.
Tony knew now, since his involvement with SHIELD as a consultant gave him limited access(plus his own, JARVIS-derived access) to certain files, that Nick Fury had snatched the poor woman up almost instantly. But by the time they were back, there was no covering up the situation. Park visitors and volunteers had post pictures and videos up all over the internet.
Weres were known to the world, whether they liked it or not.
There was an immediate backlash. Half of the population was calling for open hunting, the other half for protective laws. The military was calling for weaponization and the scientific community was calling for the rights to experiment on any and all captured Weres.
For the Weres of the world, it seemed a dark period of their history was on the horizon.
Until, one day, three months after the initial apprehension of the woman from Africa, SHIELD had moved the woman to a shell company, a bakery of all places, where she was being held until the world had settled down.
Anti-Were activists, using information given to them by an inside source, surrounded the building and, in an act of blatant terrorism, tossed rocks and molotov cocktails through the window, with no regard for the human employees inside. Cell phones captured the crowd of extremists cheering in victory, even as the people inside screamed for help.
But the cell phones also captured something amazing. With bystanders calling for emergency assistance it looked grim for the trapped victims with rescue squads miles away. As the people outside braced for the worst, they were surprised, and overjoyed, when an a large antelope crashed through one of the few remaining windows, two children clutching its back.
All over America, Tony watched as Weres, hundreds of them, risked their lives for the people who so openly scorned them. Wolves who found missing children in Canada suddenly became lumberjacks in the blink of an eye. Dolphins rescued early morning swimmers from shark attacks and, on one memorable occasion, a lion stopped a bank robbery by simply lifting a paw and snarling.
Slowly, the world warmed to the idea of these half-human, half-animal creatures walking among them and their helpfulness came to light. Weres in the rescue, law enforcement and military fields could do things their human cohorts couldn’t.
But no amount of acceptance would ever erase decades, even centuries, of the hate and persecution they had suffered. Tony, like ninety percent of the Were population, continued to hide their status from friends and families alike, for fear they would be hated and scorned by those they loved and cared for.
In Afghanistan, Tony had used his Wereform’s constitution to survive the deadly heat after he’d escaped from the cave, amazed he held off a shift for so long. His hearing had given him the advance notice he’d needed that the helicopters were on the way and he’d turned back. He was glad his clothes had already been in rags, or he’d have been in trouble.
What irked him the most after that was his Arc Reactor. Even when shifted, it sat, heavy in his chest, an ever present reminder to how close he’d come to losing his life. He’d sat one day in front of a mirror, shifted and watched the play of light blue on his thick, spotted pelt. He’d roared, once, a loud reverberating sound, at the mirror and made up his mind.
A few hours later, he’d sat in front of his computer screen in the downstairs workshop, made sure the audio and visual recorders were working properly and then, after taking a deep breath, he faced the screen and spoke.
“My name is Anthony Edward Stark, and I am a Were.”