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December 16th

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Stark Residence; September 25th 1990




"Anthony Edward Stark!" 

Tony jumped at the shockingly booming voice of his mother. He would never get used to hearing his voice vibrate against the walls like an angry yell from god, punishing him for his sins. He always heard the angry yells from Howard Stark — the great inventor was his ever loving father, note the sarcasm — but hearing one from his mother and it being his full name, his goose was surely cooked. Tony knew his parents were awaiting an answer but he could care less about whatever thing he had done wrong now, he was 20 now! He was going to rock this world like it was a never ending party in Budapest — or not, Tony could only grimace at the thought of that party. 

"Tony! Get down here!

Tony smirked as his father joined in, the clear irritation and anger for his son very clear and very much there. Tony just shook his head and continued to look at one of the PlayBoys he had stashed away one day. He knew sooner or later one of his parents would come up the stairs and ruin the peaceful time Tony was having, more specifically, the time he was having away from his father. Wasn't anything new to have time away from Howard but it sure as hell felt nice. 

"I swear, if you do not come down here in ten seconds I'll come there myself and drag you out of that bed! You hear me?!" 

He could just imagine the way his father's face would be an angry red and his white hair probably unkept. Tony snorted, he enjoyed making his dad upset too much. The man never seemed to care when Tony was showing that one moment of affection so when it came to Tony being a, "brat with no boundaries" Howard was on high alert. Tony tilted his head slightly when he heard Jarvis trying to calm both his parents down, he laid the naughty magazine open on his chest as he waited for the next round of angry shouts. 

"Tony," said young man raised a brow at his mother's kinder voice, "Darling, please come down. We have an important. . .matter. Your father and I have something to talk to you about." Tony could hear how she stressed the word please, the only parental guardian he listened to was Maria and his butler Jarvis. 

Tony groaned and looked towards the clock on his chipped brown nightstand and frowned, '9:10 PM. No one is usually up this late unless it's for a dinner.' Tony thought. He felt annoyed that his parents and even Jarvis — whom was usually home by now to be with his wife, Anna — were here, this late, bothering him over some "important matter". Couldn't it wait till the morning like any other matter they had? 

"Anthony!" Howard's yell broke through the silence yet again. 

"Jesus, I'm coming! Hold your suspenders, old man!" Tony retorted, sighing when everything went silent again. He knew if he didn't get up soon, his father would follow through with his weak threat and barge into his room and take Tony down himself.

Tony sat the Playboy down next to him on the bed and placed his feet on the ground, then stood up and stumbled towards the door. Hissing when his partially asleep legs tried to get the blood flowing again, the pain was like pins and needles were shooting through them. But he pushed through like a real soldier — may he say, like Captain America and opened the door, walking down the large stairs. It seemed like the three oldies had moved from the start of the stairs to the living area, he walked in and scoped it out; he didn't like what he saw. Jarvis was sitting up in a chair, the butler staring sadly at his hands and only gave Tony a sympathetic smile then his gaze returned to his hands that were neatly resting in his lap. Howard leant against the spot where his mother was sitting, one hand in his pocket and the other hand on Maria's shoulder, squeezing softly. Maria sat, slumped over, fingers rubbing her temple, one leg crossed over the other. She looked stressed and concerned, Tony hopped that Uncle Moe hadn't died, that was one cool dude. 

"Who died?" Tony joked, raising his eyebrows at Howard. "One of your experiments blow up again, dad?"

Maria shook her head, Jarvis let out a soft sigh. This was not playing in Tony's favor at all and the kid was making it worse for everyone. 

Howard wasn't amused by his son's comment and quipped back, "Child Services are here."

Tony frowned, confused now. What, did he have some secret sibling they never told him about. "Well, sorry to inform you dad, but you're at least three years late on dealing me out." Tony continued to joke around. "But I hope you have fun with the adoption papers, hope the family's nice." 

Tony felt like he had done his job in showing his dislike for the conversation and how much this shouldn't and wouldn't involve him. Turning on his heel, he went to make a straight beeline back to his room to look at this months edition of girls with fake tans and fake boobs to go with it. He was so close to rounding the corner when his father demolished any hopes and wishes Tony had to leave. 

"Get back here!" Howard yelled at him, Tony felt slightly proud for making his father so frustrated and annoyed. 

"What?!" Tony asked, stomping back into the room and staring right at his father. Tony's face contorted from irritation to one of amusement, his grin shinned his pearly whites at the three adults in the room. "Please tell me you guys have some kid you hid away, my secret twin. Oh! better yet, tell me I'm adopted. Please, it would be a late birthday present." 

Jarvis even seemed disappointed in what Tony had said, "Mr. Stark, I can assure you, you are not adopted nor do you have a secret twin." the lanky British spoke up. 

Tony knew he crossed some line when his mother lifted her head and removed the hand from her face to look at her son with a hard look in her brown eyes. Hurt and sadness swarmed them, he knew he shouldn't have asked — no, begged to them to say he was adopted. It wasn't right but he thought it was funny. He flashed his mother an apologetic smile in return, she nodded once.

"This is your problem!" Howard yelled, pointing to a seat on the blue couch across from them. "And you're going to sit down and listen!"

Tony swore his father had to be bipolar, if Tony had a license he would give Howard all the medication he needed if it meant he would stop busting his balls over everything the world threw at him. Tony made no comment like this as he sat down, leaning back against the soft cushions and crossed his arms, tapping a beat on the inside of his arm. He saw that Maria was biting on her lip and Howard was clenching the hand in his pocket, god what did Tony do this time? Kill the Pope? Tony blinked at the woman next to him, he hadn't even noticed the visitor until just now. He must say she was attractive, her hair was tightly pulled back, her suit captured her figure in every way.

"Ye-p," Tony drawled out awkwardly, not sure of what else to say.

Maria could only let out a quiet sigh as she brought her hands together in her lap and Howard clenched his jaw. The woman next to Tony raised and eyebrow and softly cleared her throat, "Mr. Stark."

"I'm Tony, that's Mr. Stark." Tony jabbed a thumb in his father's direction with a smirk on his lips. "It sounds old, and well, sorry to break it to you pops, but he's old. I'm only 20, I'll go by Mr. Stark the day I find myself old. Right, Daddo?"

Howard just rolled his eyes, Tony huffed and scowled.

"Uh, okay, M-Tony." the woman glanced nervously at the boy and Howard. "Do you remember a woman named Clara West?"

Tony stiffened and looked to the woman, now interested in what she had to say. 'Clara West, what have you done now?' Tony asked himself, 'What did you do that's got child protective services here?' You see, Clara West was Tony Stark's first true love. Tacky, true love. He knew that but she was everything he had pictured to find in a girl, he had met her at a young age and pinned after her, hooked up at a party and hung out with each other until 17 months ago when she suddenly said her family was moving away. With nothing but that, she was gone out of his life. 

"Oh, I don't know," Tony sighed wistfully. "Tall, shy, brunette, that has a gob that never stops?"

Tony loved how much she talked. She was always so shy around other people but then you had Tony, it was like she was in a different world when she was around him. She could talk for hours about anything and the only thing he would have ever said was 'Yep' he didn't mind just listening when it was her. Anyone else he would've just ignored and went on with his night.

"Ignore him, he knows her." Howard said sternly. 

The woman continued, "Well, 17 months ago, Miss West left New York for Denver. Before that, you two had reportedly been steady."

"The bed sure wasn't steady," Tony joked, Maria slowly closed her eyes and Howard let out a low growl.

The woman raised her eyebrows, "Obviously, Tony. 17 months ago Miss West left here pregnant."

Tony froze. His face, his body, his breathing, everything just froze the way it was. Oh hell no. Absolutely not. He did not have a child. He was not going to house and feed some little maggot that thought about nothing except what bag of things they could choke on. He wanted to throw up on the woman's expensive clothing right then, there was no way he had a child with Clara. Him and Clara had been extra careful, well there was that one time, but he believed that his pull out game was strong. He would not let this kid just come into his life and ruin it.

"Tony," Howard said. Tony looked over and he felt a wave of emotions. He had never seen his father more disgusted and more disappointed in his life. He looked like he could throw up as well, his son having a child at such a young age. Tony glanced at his mother and saw her staring sadly at him, he could see it, she was disappointed as well. He hated the thought of his mother being disappointed, god he had done all this and she was finally going to see how terrible he was. 

"Mr. Stark," Tony snapped his head back to the woman, he was too lost in his own thoughts to even correct the woman on her formalities. "Miss West is gone."

Tony furrowed his dark brows together, "Gone? What do you mean gone? Clara's not the type of person to just run off." the woman raised her eyebrows and he shook his head, "I mean, just up and leave a kid without telling anyone."

The woman looked at Tony sympathetically, suddenly he felt like this was getting worse and worse. Like something was about to be dropped that he wasn't going to like. The woman's eyes trailed to everyone in the room, Tony followed and he was quite surprised to see even his father held a sympathetic expression. Oh, hell froze over. Howard Stark actually had a feeling except irritation and anger. That shocked Tony. 

"Miss West didn't run away, Mr. Stark." the woman pulled out a manilla folder from her case. "Miss West passed away at 8:14 AM this morning. This is pictures of what the accident left the two in."

Tony didn't pay no mind to the prying eyes on him, hesitantly reaching forward and pulling it open his heart broke. There was Clara slumped over in the gray Honda Accord, the front of the car was dented in and the driver seemed to have some damage but it didn't look as bad as Clara. Her eyes was open, green eyes stared dead at the camera, blood trickled from her nose and the side of her head. He hadn't seen her so pale before either, Clara was naturally pale but this was an all time achievement. Her head was against the steering wheel and turned to an unnatural left, her seatbelt was off which Tony found odd because she was like a safety police. He felt tears surface and he shakily grabbed the next picture, holding his breath when he saw a little child. 

The kid couldn't be any older than a few months, some crazy caramel hair on top of his head where there wasn't any bandage, his cheeks were red and he seemed to be screaming his lungs out. Bruises from the crash littered his tiny body, his hands were balled into fists while he cried and cried. Tony could only stare at the pictures as each one gave detail to what had transpired earlier that day, he shakily sat down the pictures and stared at the table blankly as his mother choked a sob and rushed to her son. Hugging him closely and pat his head soothingly.

"I give my condolences," the woman spoke up once again seeing Tony was done. "But a congratulations is in order, you have a little son, Mr. Stark." 

"You have a son, Mr. Stark."

"Merry Christmas! Tony, you get a son this year!"

Tony let out a shaky breath and he thought he was going to pass out right there. He had a son, a kid. A kid he knew nothing about and one that probably knew nothing about him. God, what was he meant to do? He couldn't even tell what he was feeling. Regret, shame, guilt, sadness, happiness. Every emotion Tony could think of and he couldn't match it with the one he was feeling. This little boy looked like he had been through hell and back to even be in those photos.

"Miss West turned the car at the right time, if she had it any other way, they'd both be dead."

'Was this any better?' Tony asked himself, he could hardly figure out what he was going to eat for dinner how would he take care of a kid?

But this was his little boy. 

A little boy he helped create.

His little boy.

His son.

"He's been in critical condition since the moment he got there," the woman continued. Tony held his breath at the thought that his son was all alone and in pain. "But I've been informed that he puts up a good fight."

Tony didn't know why he had held his breath or why he was relieved with the information that his son would be okay. He felt grateful that his mother was there because she gave a squeeze of his hand and a little sniffle, Tony could tell she was already accepting this kid as her grandchild. He didn't know wether he should be happy or angry.

Howard stuck both his hands into his pockets, his jacket bunched up around his wrists as he stared at the woman. "What can we do from here?"

"Well, they're allowing family to see him." she suggested. "Would you like to meet this little Rocky?"

Tony nodded without a second thought. He had to at least see this kid.




Mount Sinai Hospital; September 25th 1990


The Stark family arrived to the hospital by the next hour, everyone had came at this point. Maria had told Jarvis to bring one of Tony's old blankets for the boy, Howard had gotten Happy to drive them there and the woman - Miss Stan - along with a doctor lead them through the twist and turns of the hospital. Tony had to admit, the hospital smelt like someone cooked hamburgers and left their sweaty socks laying around at the same time, a sour smell floated in the halls. Don't ask Tony how he knew what that smelt like, he just knew okay? The doctor and Miss Stan lead them to 342 and Tony felt his heart skip a beat and his head go light. Why was he so nervous to meet a kid? It wasn't like the boy had any way to beat his ass, well yet. Tony was sure when the kid was older that he would beat Tony once in awhile, for being an asshole of course. 

The door opened and the doctor stepped back so Tony could be the very first to see him, he could hear soft babbles and his heart expanded. He looked back at his mother with hesitancy, she gave a tearful smile and an encouraging smile in return. He took a deep breath and took a step in and anything in Tony left.

There he was.

He was probably the smallest thing Tony had ever seen in his life, but he was playing with plush dog on the bed as a nurse watched him closely. The bed looked huge compared to him, he was laying back on the bed with the plush dog held up in the air as he blabbed softly. He had a bandage around his head, his left hand was wrapped up in a cast, eyes ringed with purple and lip busted open to where you could see the irritated torn skin. Tony couldn't understand how anything in nature could allow to hurt such a small and adorable kid like this, it made him sick to his stomach. His mind took action before his body could, taking steps towards him, the little boy paused and looked up at the man with big eyes.

Tony marveled at him. God, he saw so much of himself and Clara in the boy. Clara's face shape, Tony's button nose, dark hair that matched Tony's but the volume seemed to match Clara's. The thing that got Tony the most, that made his heart warm up was his eyes. They were big, dark green orbs that got sparkled with a warm golden in there. Tony couldn't believe it, he was absolutely handsome. His little boy was adorable and there was no saying otherwise. 

Tony reached out and poked his cheek, he only blinked at him with confusion. The little boy looked to Tony's hand and then gave him a high five, Tony chuckled, looking to the nurse. "What's his name?" he asked softly.

The nurse smiled at him, "Roman Howard West." she informed.

Tony could see his father stiffen at the door. Clara really knew how to cause problems, didn't she? Tony was quite surprised to hear his father's name come out of the woman's mouth. But Tony ignored that and thought of his first name, Roman. Clara had always been in love with history of course she would name their kid after some form of history, the Roman Empire. 

"Will he heal soon?" Howard asked from the door, still staring at his grandson with an unreadable expression. 

Tony smiled at Roman when he grabbed Tony's finger and shook it softly, this kid was cute. He definitely would have the Stark charm later on. "Yeah, that's my finger." Tony whispered to him.

"Not sure." the nurse answered, Tony tuned back in. "The bruises and scratches will get better but he took a blow to the head so we can't rule out brain damage."

Roman didn't seem to pay any mind to the other adults only Tony, like he was the most interesting man in the world. Tony watched him in wonder as he pat Tony's finger against the plush dog and grinned. Tony wanted to grimace when he saw nothing but gums in the kid's mouth, he couldn't really blame him, he wasn't in charge or his growing. 

The doctor sighed, staring at Howard. "Mr. Stark, unfortunately the treatment your grandson needs can and will be expensive. He'll need scans and possibly surgeries if we find anything wrong." he informed, Howard stared at him closely.

"That's no problem!" Tony assured, jumping from Roman to the doctor. "And if this old man won't pay for it, I will."

"With what money, Tony?" Howard shot back to his son, narrowing his eyes.

Tony glared at his father and just turned back to Roman who seemed interested at the others in the room, opening and closing his right hand at Maria who smiled tearfully and waved her fingers. 

"We'll pay for it all." Howard reassured. 

The doctor let out a relieved sigh, "Well, I'll leave your family alone. Nurse." the woman got up from the bed and Roman let out a little whine to the woman, she flashed him a smile. "Excuse me." they left and closed the door.

Roman hugged the puppy plush to his chest and closed his eyes. Tony realized that this could all be too overwhelming for the kid, he was just a baby and he was just being thrown into this new family. "What's your doggy's name?" Tony asked, Roman opened his eyes to look and Tony and held out the dog. "Pluto!"

Howard didn't seem amused, "Congrats, Tony. You have one chance to fix what you've screwed up in this kid."

"Howard!" Maria gasped.

Tony clenched his jaw, trying his best to ignore his father and lay out his old blanket for Roman. The baby just touched the giant red car on the front.

"Darling, it's not your fault that Clara got in an accident." Maria comforted her son, seeing how angry he got. She knew that both her husband and Tony had personalities that clashed whenever they were in the same room. 

"I know." Tony said firmly. 

Maria and Howard started to talk loudly, well argue is the more suiting word. Maria snapped at Howard how he needed to be more gentle right now and Howard simply quipped back that nothing about this situation was gentle. Tony had watched Roman the whole time, he looked at the adults in fear and clenched his eyes close, starting to cry. He sat down on the bed next to him and brought him close, the baby thrashed and started to scream, Howard and Maria both stopped and looked back with wide eyes.

"Hey, hey, shh, shh." Tony tried to sooth with wide eyes. "I got you, Roman. No one's gonna hurt you anymore." That seemed to work because Roman's little arms wrapped around Tony's neck and cuddled against his chest.

He was way over his head.