A sixteen year old Tony Stark frowned up at his father. "I don't want to go."
"You have to." Howard Stark didn't turn around to face his son, but Tony didn't need to see his face to know that it was set.
Tony groaned, crossing his arms over his chest. "Dammit, dad! You drag me to this every year. The dude's dead, just let it go already."
Howard's hands were instantly on Tony's shoulders, anger twisting his face. Tony tensed, suddenly motionless. His father was distant, left Tony alone and let him have his space, and he never touched him. This was the first time Howard had raised a hand to him, and Tony was stunned speechless
and terrified. "He was a great man," Howard snarled, and Tony pulled back against his father. "You're going to his memorial."
"Dad," Tony was trying to ignore the fingers digging into his shoulders. "Dad, you're hurting me."
Howard pushed Tony away, turning away from him and straightening his suit. "I'll see you in the car."
Tony watched his dad go, rubbing his shoulder and trying to figure out what had just happened. Unable to decipher his father's actions, he pulled on his suit jacket heading toward the door. He stopped at a worn photograph, turning to it with a look of hatred.
A young, handsome Howard Stark had his arms around an equally handsome muscular blonde man and a beautiful British army officer. The three were smiling, and it was fairly obvious to Tony that the man and his father were close. The man had seen more of Howard's compassion than Tony had, and Tony was his son for fuck's sake. Tony slammed the photograph face down, his hands trembling with anger. "Fuck you, Captain."
Tony watched as Steve Rogers crossed the room to shake his hand. "Hello, Mr. Stark. I'm-"
"Captain Rogers," Tony took his hand, not quite sure what to think. He had spent his entire life hating this Captain America figure that his dad had loved, but now that he was here, in the same room as him, there was no hate. There was actually a bit of
fondness. Steve was very likable. "My father used to talk about you all the time."
Steve held his hand a bit longer than necessary, and Tony felt his face burning. The Captain's eyes were searching Tony's, and Tony was almost certain that Steve knew Tony had spent his childhood hating him. "Howard was a good man." His words hid something, and once again the hidden meaning was hidden from Tony.
Tony snorted. "That's one way to describe him." Steve cocked his head curiously, but before he could speak Natasha came to drag them off. They saw little of each other the next few days, but they were never far out of each other's minds. Any glimpse Tony would catch of Steve would set off a chain, thousands of unanswerable questions whirling around in his already spinning mind. He didn't know how Steve felt about him, but the more he found Steve invading his mind, the more he wanted to know him.
Tony had never been the romantic type- he had been the horny type, yes. He'd fuck any girl that would let him- but Steve was making him weak in the knees. Hell, he didn't know a damn thing about Steve, other than what his father had told him, and here he was thinking of sleeping with his body entangled with the Captain's. Here he was, the man who had never loved anybody, slowly hoping that some man who had been frozen in ice for at least seventy years felt the same way he did. Tony wasn't exactly sure what "feeling the same way" entailed, but that didn't stop him from steeling himself and searching for the words to tell Steve how he felt.
"Tony." Colonel Fury knocked lightly on his door, but his voice was insistent. "I've got to give you something."
Tony was laying in his bed, mulling everything over in an oddly reflective mood. The bottle of Scotch he had drank didn't hurt that mood either. "Door's unlocked," he slurred.
Nick let himself in, frowning down at Tony's inebriated form. "I have a letter from your father." he tossed an envelope at Tony's sheets.
Tony looked up, his blue eyes wide. "Why do you have it?"
"Your father trusted me."
Nick's frown deepened. "Your father was a good man, Tony."
"You know you're the second person to tell me that this week?" Tony's voice was emotionless.
Tony nodded. "You're also the second person who I want to knee in the balls this week."
Nick's lips twitched. "I don't know why you hate your dad, but you need to let it go. He did love you, Tony."
"Not as much as he loved the Captain." Tony's voice was quiet, his now bright eyes locked on Nick's cool dark ones. Nick cocked his head, and Tony took that as a sign to continue. "Do you know how many 'Steve wouldn't have done it that way, Tony' speeches I had to sit through? Do you realize how much of my life I spent hating a man that everyone thought was dead? Do you know what it feels like for your father to love someone you've never met more than he loves you?"
Nick gestured down at the letter. "Read that, then talk to me." Before Tony could say anything, Nick was gone, the door slamming shut in the Super Spy's wake.
"Dammit." Tony sighed. He threw his covers off as he opened the letter, propping himself on his pillows.
I'm sorry. I know I wasn't the father you needed. I know I was distant, and I know you thought I hated you. I didn't, Tony. I was so proud of you, I am still proud of you. But I'm not writing to tell you this. I'm fairly certain you remember the day you told me you didn't want to go Captain's memorial. You were sixteen, at the age where all you wanted to do was contradict me. I reacted a bit too harshly, and for that, I'm sorry.
I had never so much as given you a hug, or a pat on the back, but that day I slammed you against a wall. And I'm sorry. There's a history between the Captain and I, one that you don't know. I'm not sure if you'll hate me for it or not, but I do have to tell you.
You know I loved your mother. She was a great woman, and she meant so much to me. She gave me you, and for that
well, I'm blessed. But that's not the point. The point is that before I met your mother, I was involved in the Super Soldier project. Not only was I involved with it, I was close friends with a certain Captain. Captain Steve Rogers. You know him as the man whose memorial I dragged you to every year. You hated him, if I understood your emotions correctly.
But I didn't. Tony, I loved Steve. He was a friend, yes, but he was also so much more. That's why I went to his memorial. I went because I loved him. And I know he's not dead. If anyone can find Steve, if anyone is smart enough, I know you can.
And when you find him, don't say anything about me. Let him forget, let him move on with his life. If I know you at all Tony, you'll be with an amazing woman. Be a good friend to Steve, you and your girl. He'll have to get used to a new millennium. Guide him through it. I know you can do it, Tony. You don't have to love him like I did, but please, please be good to him.
I'm sorry I didn't tell you earlier, and I'm sorry I hid this from you your whole life. Some small part of me figured you wouldn't be proud that your old man was in love with Captain America. Just remember this, Tony. As much as I loved him, I love you more.
Tony dropped the paper, his hands shaking. "Dammit, dad." A knock sounded on Tony's door, and he looked up, trying to bring himself under control. "Come in."
Captain Steve Rogers stooped into Tony's room, wringing his hands nervously as he crossed the threshold. "Mr. Stark."
"Please, call me Tony." Tony quickly shoved the letter under his blankets, standing up to shake Steve's hand.
"All right," Steve gave a lopsided grin. He looked at what Tony was doing, cocking his head as he letter fell out from under his blankets. "Am I interrupting something?"
Tony shook his head vehemently. "I had just finished, actually."
"What was it?"
Tony sighed. He was still confused about the contents of his letter. Finding out his father had been in love with a man who was standing nervously across the room from him was unsettling. Finding out that he was in love with a man that his father had been in love with was just disturbing. Trying to find a way to tell Steve what he had just read? That won the awkward award. "It was a letter from Dad. Fury had it."
Steve's eyes widened. "From Howard?"
"That's dear old dad." Tony's sarcasm was lost on Steve.
"What did it say?" Steve's head cocked, and Tony flinched back.
He sighed. "Dad said he was proud of me. And he loved me." (And you)
Steve smiled, a warm smile, a friendly smile. "That's good!" Tony smiled in return, hiding his trembling hands. "Is that all he said?"
Tony shook his head. "It's personal," he smiled apologetically. "Y'know, from Stark to Stark. Boring stuff." Steve shook his head understandingly, and Tony continued, almost nervously. "I take it you knew Pop well?"
Steve's smile faded. "I was well acquainted with Howard, yes." Tony waited expectantly, and Steve sighed. "That's what I came here to talk about." Tony stayed silent, and Steve's hands clenched together nervously. "Your father and I were close
"And?" Tony's heart was pounding way too fast, way too loud.
"And we were more than friends," Steve blurted out.
The room was silent. If Tony had owned a clock, the second hand ticking would have sounded like gunshots.
"Why are you telling me this?" Tony managed to keep his voice calm and controlled.
Steve drew in a shaky breath. "Howard was your father. And I owe to him to tell his only son about us."
"What about you?"
"I loved your father
" Steve looked away from Tony, his hands now limp in his lap.
Tony steeled himself, crossing the room and kneeling in front of Steve. Steve looked up at him curiously, and Tony moved forward. "Dad's dead, Steve." Steve could feel Tony's breath, and his spine prickled at the sensation. "I'm not." Steve leaned forward, pulling Tony closer, kissing him furiously. Hands tangled in hair, bodies pressed together, limbs tangled in limbs.
Steve stopped just as suddenly as he started, his blue eyes misty, broken. "I
I can't." He pushed Tony away, all but running out of his room. "I'm sorry. I am so, so sorry."
"What the hell is his problem?" Clint's voice passed Tony's open door.
"Who knows?" Bruce's answered.
Tony got up slowly, crawling back to his bed, trying to recover control of his shaking limbs, and his hurting heart. He looked at the letter Howard had written him, before tearing it to shreds, anger radiating from every inch of his body. "Fuck you, Dad."