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What could have been

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The first time Howard Stark layed eyes on his daughter he was in awe.

The engineer had never considered himself a family man, even with his marriage to Maria. But the second he held that tiny little bundle wrapped up in a pink blanket he was gone.

"Hello Natasha, I'm your daddy."


The day Howard Stark walked into his workshop to find his four year old daughter bent over a circuit board was one of the proudest days of his life.

He hadn't expected the tiny delicate girl to be interested in engineering, let alone have the intelligence to create something so advanced at such a young age.

Yes, Howard Stark was very proud.


The day Howard Stark caught his six year old daughter building an engine he was over the moon.

His little girl was brilliant. No doubt she would be able to change the world.

Howard couldn't have wished for a greater child.


It's the day of Natasha's eighth birthday when Howard wonders what would it be like if he had had a son?

Not that he would ever trade Natasha for anyone else. But he does often think what could have been.

Howard is ashamed to admit that if Natasha had been born a boy, he may not have had the same emotional connection he shares with his little girl.

He often fears he would have let jealousy rule his decisions. Or perhaps he would have been hellbent on making his son into another Steve Rogers.

The thought makes him shudder and once again he is thankful he has his little Natasha instead of a little Anthony.


The day Natasha tells her father she wants to be just like him when she's older is the first time in a very long time that Howard Stark feels shame.

He thinks about his company.
Thinks about what he does for a living.
Thinks about his creating weapons of mass destruction.

It's the day Howard Stark decides to be something greater.


Natasha Stark was never ashamed to admit she was a daddy's girl.

Natasha looked at Howard like he had hung the moon. She followed him around like a duckling, skipping her etiquette classes to watch her father building new things in his workshop.

Skipping tea parties with the other business men's daughters to have a sandwich in her father's study as he fills out paperwork.

Natasha Stark would always be a daddy's girl.


The day Howard asks Natasha if she would like to help him work on a very important project was one of the happiest days of her life.

"I think we should try and miniturize the arc reactor. If we can manage to do this, we could create unlimited clean energy."

Yes, it was one of the happiest days of her life.

And so a ten year old Natasha Stark sits beside Howard as they pour over blueprints and calculations.


The day Howard found out Tiberius Stone had threatened his daughter was the angriest he had ever been.

Four months later the Stone family was in bankruptcy.


The day Natasha graduated from college was one of the proudest moments of Howard's life.

As he watched his seventeen year old little girl walk across that stage and receive her certificate was the first time in seventeen years that he had cried.


The day Howard found Steve Rogers' body was one of the most exciting moments of his life. Learning the Captain was still alive made it that much better.


The day Steve Rogers was introduced to Natasha Stark was the first time Howard looked at Steve in suspicion.

As much as he liked Steve Rogers, he loved his daughter more.

Howard didn't like the way Steve looked at his little girl.


The day Steve Rogers asked permission to court Howard's daughter was the day Howard Stark threatened him for the first time.


The day Howard Stark walked his little girl down the isle, was the saddest and most happiest day of Howard's life.

He knew Steve would take care of Natasha.

Because if he didn't, well Howard might just still have a few weapons hidden away.