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You Tell Him, Or I Will

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Peter pales when he sees it. Why is his Papa even here right now?! He and dad are supposed to be meeting at that fancy restaurant in half an hour. But there he is, kissing some random person Peter has never seen before, trying to push him out the door.

“I love you, Buck, but I really do have to go.”

‘Buck’ pouts. “You should just leave him. Come with me, take Peter with you!”

“He’s 16, not 6. He won’t want anything to do with me if he knows about you. Now go, I’m not leaving Peter.”

He watches the mystery person leave, getting into a very old looking car.

Peter doesn’t know what to do. He doesn’t want to believe his Papa is a cheater! But he is, so he has to tell his dad… but… should he talk to Papa first? Maybe… maybe he can convince his Papa to stop seeing the mystery boy…

But his dad deserves to know, even if Papa does stop seeing him. Ah, he doesn’t know! He watches his Papa leave, off to the restaurant he’s sure.

Well, Peter has all night now to figure it out…

~

He decides to go to his Papa first. He waits for his dad to go to the lab, knowing he won’t be able to hear; then corners his Papa.

“I saw you. Last night.” He says, looking completely angry.

Steve freezes, then slowly lowers his coffee cup. “I’m not sure what you’re talking about.”

Peter glares at him. “I’m talking about your affair.” He spits.

Steve pales. “Shh!” He looks around, obviously scared. “That wasn’t what it looked like!”

“Oh? So you didn’t have your tongue down someone else’s throat?”

Steve winces and backs up. “D-don’t, dont Tell your dad. It was a mistake- it was-“

“You said you love him. You said you love him!”

Steve is obviously panicking now. “Please don’t tell Tony, I’m sorry, please-“

“You tell him, tonight, or I will. Understood?”

Steve bites his lip and nods, looking terrible right now.

Good, Peter thinks.

~

The night ends and Steve is sleeping in bed with Tony, so Peter knows he didn’t do it. Which is just great, he always wanted to see his dad’s heart break in front of his very eyes. Woo.

~

“Dad? I need to talk to you.”

Steve springs to his feet. “No you don’t, you need to get ready for school.” He insists.

Peter glares. “I think you should sit down, now.” His voice leaves no room for argument.

But of course, Steve argues anyway. “That’s no way to talk to-“

“Either shut up or leave the room, Steve, I’m tired of your bullshit.” Peter seethes.

Tony’s eyes widen. “That is no way to speak to your father! What on earth has gotten into you?”

Peter stares Steve down, who breaks eye contact and sulks to his room. Probably to pack his bags. Peter hopes so anyway.

Peter sighs and looks to Tony, going closer. “Dad… I have really bad news…”

Tony frowns. “It must be bad, for you to be so disrespectful…”

Peter sighs and rubs his eyes. “I saw Papa cheating on you. He said he loves this person, and he would leave you except he doesn’t want to lose me.” He gets it all out in the open, letting out a heavy breath. He looks up at his father.

And immediately wishes he hadn’t.

Tony’s face is screwed up in pain, disbelief in his eyes. “It’s Bucky, isn’t it? You saw him with Bucky?”

Peter winces. “He called him Buck.”

Tony looks down, and Peter sees tear drops fall to the table. Tony starts nodding, even though he has nothing to nod to. His head just won’t stop moving. “Thank you, Pete. For telling me.”

Peter feels his own tears form, and he lunges across the table, hugging his dad. He hides his face in Tony’s neck, not caring that he’s too old to sit in his dad’s lap. His dad is in pain, and while he isn’t the reason, he can’t help but feel responsible. “I’m s-sorry…”

Tony hugs Peter back, shaking his head. “I’m glad you told me, kiddo. I’d rather know.” He whispers. He kisses the side of Peter’s face.

Peter sniffles and holds him tighter. “What do we do?” He asks.

Tony closes his eyes, letting out a shaky breath. “I don’t know, if I’m being honest. I knew that when Bucky came back from Europe, there was a chance. Steve had said when we first got together all those years ago, that he was still in love with his ex. But then he married me, and we got you, and 20 years passed—I thought he was over him. But no, Barns shows up from Europe, and it’s like I meant nothing to him.”

Peter sobs at that. He wants to kill his Papa, and his papa’s lover. “I’m s-So sorry!” He sobs.

Tony sniffles and pulls Peter away. “Don’t be sorry. I’ll be okay. I- I need to go talk to your papa now, okay?”

Peter sniffles and pulls off of his dad’s lap, standing next to him and trying not to cry. He fails.

Tony stands and goes towards the bedroom.

Peter knows that when Steve leaves that room, he won’t ever be going back in.

And Peter cries, for a different reason now. At first, he was just so fucking angry at Steve, so in shock, so disgusted. But now… he realizes he won’t have his Papa around anymore. He’s leaving. He’s leaving Tony, but he’s also leaving Peter.

Peter feels like he’s betrayed his dad, by not wanting Steve to leave. But he doesn’t. He wants his Papa to stay, and to love his dad, and for everything to be okay again. But it won’t ever be like that again.

When Steve leaves the bedroom with an overnight bag in his hands, tears streaming down his face, Peter wishes he only felt anger and hate. But he doesn’t. He’s sad and he feels betrayed, he doesn’t want Steve to go, and 16 years worth of loving his Papa, leaves Peter crying. He throws himself at Steve, hugging him and sobbing into his chest. He’s shaking so bad, Steve can hardly keep him still.

Steve feels his own tears fall, as he hugs his son back. For the first time since Bucky got back, he thinks it wasn’t worth it. He’d rather shoot Bucky himself than be the reason Peter is crying this much. “I’m sorry, Peter. I’m so sorry.”

Peter sobs and pulls away, wiping furiously at his face. “You r-ruined everything.” Peter whimpers.

Steve sniffles and nods. “I know. I know, I’m sorry. I n-need to go, I’ll see you later, okay?”

Peter steps out of Steve’s way, glaring at the ground. He has so many emotions going through him…

Steve pauses at the door. “I love you, Peter.”

Peter starts shaking violently again, sobs wracking his small frame.

Steve winces and leaves, shutting the door softly behind him.

Peter curls into a ball on the floor, sobbing into his hands. After what could have been ten minutes or ten hours, he feels his dad’s arms around him, holding him, crying with him. “I’m s-sorry!”

Tony shakes his head, kissing Peter’s hair. “It’s okay baby. You can be sad too. He left you too, it’s okay to be sad. It’s okay.”

Peter clings to his dad, and they sob together, miss Steve together, hold each other. Peter doesn’t know how they’ll be okay again… but his dad is Tony Stark, and he’s Peter Stark-Rogers. They’ll be okay. They always are.

Chapter Text

Peter walks in the front door, shaking as he puts his keys on the hook. He used to have to pull Papa's off, to put his under Papa's. Just in case he had to had an emergency. He goes into the living room, staring at his Papa's armchair. He would always be sitting there when Peter got back, reading a book or doing paper work for the army or drawing. Peter sobs and covers his mouth, going to the kitchen. He puts the kettle on the burner, setting out two mugs. He grabs the black tea bags and puts them in the mugs. He grabs the milk before tearing up and putting it back. Papa is the one that loves milk in his tea, dad likes it black. He grabs some sugar from the pantry and pours two tablespoons in and waits for the water to finish. 

He grabs the tea once they're both ready to drink, taking them to the lab downstairs. He pushes the door open and sniffles when he sees his father staring absently at the work bench. Again. "Dad?" Peter croaks. "I have tea for us."

Tony jerks up, rubbing his eyes. "Th-thank you, Petey. How ya doing today?" He asks, like he isn't the one that needs to be asked himself. 

Peter smiles and takes a sip of his drink. "Great, I aced my Spanish test." He says. 

Tony nods, looking into his mug as he sips. Tony was never good at this part, the praising part. That was Steve's-

"How long have you been down here?" Peter asks. 

Tony blinks to stop from tearing up. "Not that long." He lies. He drinks more.

Peter sighs. "How many have you had?" He asks softly.

Tony winces now. "It isn't your job to take care of me. I'm supposed to take care of you." He snaps. 

Peter swallows thickly, looking down. At least 5 then. He doesn't start questioning his parenting skills until 5. "I'm sorry dad, I was just asking. I can get Bruce to bring over some more if you need."

Tony stands. "I'm not an alcoholic anymore. I don't need more." He can get them himself when Peter is at school. 

Peter winces and steps back, taking another sip. "I know, dad. I just was-I was-I'm sorry. I'll leave you alone." He goes back upstairs, tears falling down his face. He puts the kettle away now that it's cooled down, and rinses his mug and puts it away. 

he sits at the dining room table, getting his homework out. He swallows thickly and shakes his head, standing up and grabbing himself some water. He sits down again. He shifts, and gets up. He grabs some chips and puts them in a bowl, taking it back to his table. He sits and pulls his pencil out. He shakes his head and puts it down again, putting the chips back and rinsing the bowl, pouring himself some strawberries instead. He eats one and picks up his pencil. He thinks about which subject to do first, and organizes his homework accordingly. He eats another strawberry and takes a sip from his water. He clears his throat and tries to focus. He starts doing his English homework, but his hand is shaking too much and his vision is blurry and--great, now he has tears on his paper. 

He leans back, sobbing and pulling at his hair. He stands, throwing his English homework in the trash and kicking the can. He hates English. He fucking hates it. Papa always helped him with his English homework. He hates it now, he hates how difficult it is, he hates how he can't think of proper grammar without hearing his Papa correcting him with a smile. He hates how he can't read a book without hearing the words in Papa's voice. How he can't answer questions about what he read without hearing his Papa say 'It's up for interpretation Peter, there is no wrong answer.'

He rubs his face angrily, checking the clock. It's too early to start making dinner. He goes back to the dining room table, popping another strawberry in his mouth. He starts doing his calculous homework. Thank god he doesn't have to throw this away too. Papa was useless at any math past pre-algebra. 

He finishes that and his chemistry homework, about to start his Spanish when he notices his strawberries are all gone. He washes the bowl and puts it away, checking the time. An hour until he can start dinner. He finishes the rest of his homework and puts everything away, cleaning up his station. 

He decides at go ahead and make dinner because he's bored and he can't be bored because he'll start thinking of Papa. 

He cuts up some vegetables, frying them in butter. He cooks the rice separately, because Papa always says it tastes better that way. He boils the chicken, then puts that, the vegetables, and the rice in a bigger pan with extra butter and soy sauce and mixes them all together.   

He puts half in his bowl, and half in dad's. It's too much, because he never learned how much rice to make that isn't for three people, but that's okay, because they would have leftovers anyway. They hardly ever eat anything anymore. 

he goes into his dad's lab, seeing him finishing off another drink. He smiles sadly and hands him the bowl, sitting next to him. 

"Did-did ya.. f-finish... yer… uh..."

Peter swallows thickly. God, this has to be 10. He never starts slurring until 10. "Yep, I finished my homework."

"En-en-english too? Yer teacher calls me 'bout tha'."

Peter can't look at Tony right now. It hurts too much. "Yep, finished that too." He lies. He waits until his father hasn't touched his food in 15 minutes before taking it, the mug from earlier, and his tumbler upstairs. He puts their leftovers away, and then cleans the kitchen. He cleans his dad's tumbler and puts it away. He turns as he hears his dad stumble up the stairs. He smiles at him. "Heya dad. Want to watch TV?"

Tony sits in his own arm chair, rubbing his eyes and nodding. "Sure..."

Peter brings him over a glass of water and some Advil, then sits and turns the TV on. He hears his dad swallow and sighs in relief. Sometimes he won't accept water. He freezes when Wizard of Oz starts playing on the TV. That was Steve's favorite movie of all time. They used to watch it once a month, singing along loudly with all the songs, giggling non-stop and cuddling and--and being happy.

Tony lets out a broken sob, eyes glued to the screen as Dorothy taps her ruby heels together.

Peter turns it off, breath too fast. He stands. "Bed time, I think." He helps Tony stand.

Tony sobs, leaning into Peter. "Why? Why am I n-not g-g-good enough?" He sobs.

Peter feels his own tears fall down his face, his heart breaking for what has to be the millionth time since Papa left. "Let's go to sleep dad."

Tony cries himself to sleep within 5 minutes, and Peter nods to himself. He goes to his own room, curling into a ball under the covers. He cries himself, petting his own hair right behind his left ear. That's what Papa did when Peter had a nightmare as a kid, to help him sleep. "Why am I not good enough?" he whispers into the silent room. "Why can I not help him? Why do I need you? You left him, you left us, you left me." He sobs. "Why can't I do this without you? Why do I still need you to hold my hand?" He pulls the covers over his head, wishing Steve would pull them down and scold him for suffocating himself. "It's been two months, why haven't you called? Why haven't you tried to reach out to me? Why haven't you come back for me?"


Peter hangs his keys up. He puts his bag down next to Steve's chair. He makes tea. He brings the tea to Tony. 

He drops the tea, going to make sure his dad is still alive. 

Tony shoots up, gasping. "Wha-?" He relaxes when he sees Peter. "Oh. Hi." He says and closes his eyes, laying his head on the work bench again. 

Peter sobs as Tony starts snoring again. He leaves, ignoring the broken mugs and spilled drink. He grabs his keys, getting in his car. He flies down the roads, going 60 in a 30, 100 on the interstate. He cries and jerks his car this way and that to avoid cars, turning onto his road. He parks on the street, going up to the door and slamming on the door. 

Bucky opens it, frowning. "What the--oh. Peter."

Peter clenches his jaw, fighting the urge to punch him. "Where is he?"

"Steve? Peter is here for you." Bucky says and lets Peter in.

Peter waits, and sees Steve come in, eyes wide with surprise. "Pete? What-"

Peter walks over, not resisting the urge to punch him in the nose.

Bucky steps forward, but takes it back immediately. Steve can handle himself. He's trained military, just like him.

Steve groans and holds his nose. yeah, definitely broken. he looks at Peter, eyes wide.

Peter lets out a sob. "He's so drunk he passed out at his bench." he says, voice breaking. "What did you do, to make him sober?"

Steve winces. "he's drinking again..." He whispers. 

Peter almost punches him again. "Of course he's fucking drinking again, you stupid, self-absorbed, cheating, asshole!" He yells. "His husband of 21 years fucking cheated on him and left him; the person he loved more than anyone doesn't love him when he promised he would!"

Steve winces, taking a step back. "I-I-"

Peter steps back, taking a breath. "How do I stop him from drinking? Please?"

Steve sighs sadly. "I'm sorry, Petey. I-I- he only stopped drinking because he got you, and he wanted to be a better dad than his own."

Peter glares, storming closer and punching Steve in the mouth this time. "You lost the right to call me that." He spits. "I hate you, do you understand?" He watches Steve's eyes fill with tears only now, not when he was punched the first or second time. "You ruined absolutely everything! You ruined dad, you ruined our family, you ruined my grades-" he sobs. "You ruined me." He says, softer now than before. "I hate you. I hate you for hurting dad, and I hate you for leaving me. Like I mean nothing to you. Like our family meant nothing to you." He steps back. He looks at Bucky in disgust. "I hope you and the homewrecker are fucking happy. I hope you have a family together, I hope you ruin that kid's life too. I hope you die knowing all you will ever be is a selfish, irresponsible, cheating, life-destroying asshole." He slams the door behind him, getting back into his car.

He makes it out of the house's view before he has to park because he's crying too much. 


Peter goes down to the lab, bringing his father his tea. "Hey, kiddo. Sorry I drank too much yesterday. I won't do that again." he promises. 

"Liar." Peter says, setting the tea down. His eyes are cold, his knuckles are red and sore. 

Tony winces. "That's-"

"We're a family of liars, aren't we?" He asks, setting his own tea down. "he lies and says he loves you, he loves me. You lie and say you'll stop drinking, you'll get better and be my dad again. I lie and say I'm fine, I don't need him, I can take care of you and me." He stands, stare emotionless for once. Not angry or sad or broken. Empty. Emotionless. 

Tony swallows thickly, looking at his son like he's scared. "Peter-"

Peter holds his hand up. "When you stop drinking, then you can apologize. Then you can be my dad again. If you ever stop drinking." Peter goes back upstairs. 

He's been too harsh, but it's been three months, and his dad is only getting worse. Peter is still a kid. He's 16, he shouldn't be taking care of his own father. He understands that his dad is hurting, but he's hurting too, and he doesn't have anyone to make him tea or dinner or check to make sure he isn't dead. His dad doesn't leave the lab other than to get more booze. He's tired of being alone.


Peter wakes up and gets into the motion of making breakfast and coffee for himself and his dad. He makes eggs, because that's the one thing Steve could never make. He always ruined them somehow. Making them too salty, or too creamy, or too undone, or too burned, or some other form of ruined. 

Suits him. 

He brings his father's pate and coffee downstairs, leaving it next to his sleeping form. 

He quickly eats his own, then showers and gets ready for school. 

he takes the detention his English teacher gives him. He eats lunch alone. He drives home. He puts his keys on the rack, and makes tea. 

But when he starts to bring it to the lab, Tony walks into the living room from his room. Peter nearly drops his mugs. "Dad?"

Behind his dad is a man that Peter knows very well. "Peter."

Peter tears up and puts the mugs down, attacking him in a hug. "Uncle Rhodey!" he cries.

James smiles and hugs Peter back. "Hey, kiddo. You're home late. Detention?"

Peter pulls back and blushes. "I c-can't do it uncle Rhodey, I can't do my English homework."

James's face grows hard, but he nods and clears his throat. "Right. Well, I'm making dinner tonight. Tacos?"

Peter nods, eyes wide. He turns to his dad as Rhodes leaves to the kitchen.

"He, um, took all my alcohol." He says sheepishly. "And my drivers license and my keys. He's going to be staying here for a while, until he deems I'm sober."

Peter tears up, unbelieving. "You did all this because of what I said yesterday?" He whispers. 

Tony swallows thickly. "I want to be your dad, not your problem to take care of."

Peter breaks down into sobs and holds his dad tightly, crying into his chest.

With his dad holding him, Rhodey in the kitchen cooking, and in the living room, not the lab; he finally feels like they might be okay. They might be okay. They might be able to survive without Steve.

Chapter Text

Chapter summary: I know you asked if anyone had ideas about how to add onto this and I honestly would love to see a chapter from Tony’s POV, or maybe a collection of memories which caused him to begin drinking (abusive father, alcoholic father, emotional distance, parents’ deaths, etc) and just him saying he will be there for Peter and he, Peter, and Rhodey making it work.

1974

Tony whimpers, hiding behind the couch. His daddy is yelling at his mommy and his mommy is breaking things and Jarvis isn’t here and he’s so scared…

They always get like this, when they drink. They get angry at each other. They say awful things to each other. His father calls her a gold digging bitch that he only married so he could have a kid. His mother says he’s a shallow, self-centered, dead-beat idiot who will never actually do anything worth remembering.

That’s what makes his father the angriest. Is when she says he will be forgotten.

He doesn’t know why it’s so important to his father to have a memorable legacy, but when he sees his father hit his mother because she said that, he decided he would do whatever it takes to ruin his legacy.

~

2001

Tony Stark is, quite frankly, a fucking dumb ass.

Not that this is news in the slightest. But still, he finds it worth mentioning.

When he had asked Steve on a date, Steve had said, “I’m still in love with my ex. He left me to fight in Afghanistan. I don’t think it’s a good time for me to be dating.”

Tony, like the dumb ass he is, said, “I’m okay with that. You’ll fall in love with me and forget that douche bag in no time!”

Rhodey had made it clear that Tony was stupid, and that Tony will fall in love and get his heart broken.

Tony didn’t care.

Because honestly, he had already fallen in love. He had already fallen in love with the veteran who got himself discharged at exactly the wrong time. Because he wanted to be an English teacher; but now he can’t go back.

He had already fallen in love with the blond who sits underneath the shade of the tree Tony planted when his father died, drawing random people in the park.

He already fell in love with the man who’s a fire-fighter on the weekends, even though that means he’ll stay up late grading papers.

He already fell in love a long time ago, and he’s willing to risk the heart break if only to spend a little while with this man who made Tony fall harder than he ever has in his entire life.

~

1984

Tony hates high school. Thank god he’s leaving. Full ride to MIT would be impressive. For anyone who isn’t Howard Stark’s son.

His Rhodey is really the only person keeping him sane right now.

Rhodey is going to go to college with him, and then he’s going to join the army. Rhodey is a genius, just like him. But Tony’s father would say that isn’t true because Rhodey isn’t the same type of genius.

Tony doesn’t really care what type of genius Rhodey is, because he’s smart enough to trick Tony into taking care of himself.

Tony has been drunk since… well, since he turned 11. Rhodey can’t make him stop that. But he forces Tony to drink water. To eat regularly. To sleep, even though he has nightmares.

He makes Tony shower, wear clean clothes. He makes Tony do his homework even though Tony is way too fucking smart to spend his time doing stupid homework.

But when he goes home, his mom is passed out drunk in her bed. His father isn’t there, as usual. He takes her alcohol and and gets his own fix, before doing everything Rhodey told him to do.

He knows that Rhodey will always be there for him. Always look out for him. Always love him. and that’s all Tony could ever ask for.

~

2001

“Fuck, fuck, Steve~ Yes! Right there, yeah, right fucking there–oh my god!”

Steve only grunts, gasping loudly as he drills into Tony hard and fast. “Fuck–you feel so good around my cock Bucky-” Steve’s eyes fly open and his hips still. He looks guilty, and embarrassed. “I’m so sorry, Tony. I got lost in my head, I-”

Tony cuts him off with a kiss, shaking his head. “That’s his name? Your ex? Bucky?”

Steve hesitates but nods, looking down in shame. “That’s what I called him.”

Tony only smiles and pets Steve’s hair back. “We’ve been dating like a week, Steve. I didn’t expect you to be over someone you loved this soon. I mean, I won’t lie; kinda offended you can even remember any words other than “Fuck yes” right now–” He smiles brighter as Steve chuckles despite himself– “But it’s okay. Maybe don’t make a habit of it, but… I know it’ll take time to get over it. I’m not mad.”

Steve looks at Tony like he hung the stars in the sky, and then he fucks Tony so hard Tony is sure he won’t be able to walk for an entire week. And in his ear he chants “Yes, fuck yes, oh god Tony, yes!”

And Tony just moans and lets it happen. Because he’s so sure Steve will love him, in time. He just has to wait for it.

~

1991

Tony plants a tree, on the day of his father’s funeral. He plants a tree, because even though Tony is set on destroying his father’s legacy still, maybe something good can have his father’s stain on it after all.

He plants it in the park near his building. He plants it in the dead of night, without telling anyone.

Well, anyone except for Rhodey, who helps him plant it.

“Why do people drive drunk, Rhodey?” His voice breaks, but he knows Rhodes won’t comment on it.

In fact, Rhodes doesn’t say anything. He sighs and he shrugs, and he wipes his hands on his jeans to get the dirt off.

Tony wrings his fingers together, grabbing a bottle of scotch and taking a sip. He can even do this legally now, look at that. “I’m never going to marry, Rhodey. I’m never gonna have any kids. I would just ruin everything. I would ruin the kid, I would ruin my wife, I would get behind the wheel drunk off my ass and kill us both. I’m not doing that.”

Rhodey only nods, handing Tony a water bottle silently. He stares at the tree.

“What? What are you thinking?”

Rhodey only sighs, turns to smile sadly at Tony. “You’re going to look back at this night on the day of your wedding, on the day you hold your newborn in your arms, and I’m going to tell you ‘I told you so’.”

Tony snorts and shoves Rhodes lightly, a smile on his face for the first time since it happened. “Sure. And on that same day, you’ll quit the army, right?”

This time Rhodes laugh, loud and sarcastic in the dead silence of the night. “Only if I’m in a body bag, Stark. I’m never quitting the army.”

Tony goes very quiet. “I’m going to tear it all down, Rhodey. I’m going to destroy his business. No weapons, no destruction, no war. Everything my father stood for… it’s going away now. Everything he wanted, everything hr thought his legacy would be… it’ll be forgotten. Stark Industries will go down in history as a tech company, not an arms manufacturer. SI will be my baby, not his.”

Rhodes puts a hand on his back, rubbing between his shoulder blades. “If anyone could turn the world’s leading weapons manufacturing company into a technology cooperation.. it would be you.”

~

2003

Tony smirks at Rhodes, as the latter tightens his tie for him. “Okay, go ahead.”

“Hmm?” Rhodey looks up at him, an amused glint in his eyes. “Go ahead and what?”

“Go ahead and say I told you so!” Tony laughs and shoves him playfully, too happy to even be shy about admitting he was wrong.

Rhodey shakes his head fondly and pulls back, happy tears growing in his eyes. “I told you so, you sorry loser.”

Tony laughs happily, hugging Rhodey as tight as he can. “I’m getting married today. God… Oh my god, Rhodes. I’m getting married to the love of my life.”

Rhodey can only smiles and take his hand. “You are. I can believe it.”

~

2002

“I love you, Tony Stark.”

Tony honest to god spits his coffee out. “You… you do?!”

Steve smiles and nods, kissing Tony’s cheek. “I do. I love you. I’m in love with Tony Stark.”

Tony tears up and jumps into Steve’s arms, giggling ecstatically. “Steve Rogers loves me. You’re in love with me.”

Steve beams and nods, kissing Tony softly on the lips. “You make me happy. Happier than I ever thought I would be after… after he left. I honestly thought I would spend the rest of my life waiting on a man who would never come back for me. But you… I’m with you, and I forget he even exists sometimes. When I doodle at school, I draw your face instead of his. When I sleep at night, I dream of you. If I have nightmares, they’re of losing you, not him. I… God, I fucking love you Anthony Edward Stark, and I want to spend the rest of my life with you.”

Tony didn’t realize he was being proposed to until Steve got down on one knee. But then he starts crying and saying ‘yes’ and tackling Steve.

~

2003

“Anthony Edward Stark. I never thought I could love again. I never thought I could love this much. I am going to spend the rest of my life with you. I am going to spend the rest of my life loving you. I will spend the rest of my life bringing you coffee to tempt you out of bed in the morning. I will spend the rest of my life trying and failing to get you to stop eating cheeseburgers. I will spend the rest of my life supporting you and your company, your inventing binges. I will spend the rest of my life drawing your beautiful face. I will spend the rest of my life loving you to the very core of my heart.”

Tony cried. Of course he did. He’s so in love it hurts.

~

2005

“Rhodey… look at him. He’s perfect.”

Rhodes smirks, looking at the newborn in Tony’s arms. “I told you so.”

Tony blushes and looks up. Then his smile falters, and he looks to Rhodey with tears in his eyes. “I also said I would never get behind the wheel shit faced and kill myself and my wife.”

Rhodey winces at that part. “You won’t. You won’t run your kid’s life either. You aren’t your father, and Peter isn’t you.”

Tony shakes his head. “I have to get sober. You have to help me get sober, Rhodey.”

Rhodes beams at that. “Well, it only took you 24 years to ask. But yes, I’ll help you get sober. I’ll always be here for you. I’ll always look our for you, always love you. Always, Tones.”

~

1981

Tony drinks now. All the time. Just like his mama, just like his father.

It numbs the pain away. It makes him hate himself a little less. It makes high school easier. It makes the loneliness bearable.

He made a new friend at school. His name is James, and Tony likes him. He’s the only high schooler he knows who doesn’t treat him like he’s a freak.

His new friend doesn’t like that Tony drinks. Tony doesn’t mind, as long as he doesn’t take his booze away. He needs it. He doesn’t know how he could ever handle his mother and father without it.

But Rhodey doesn’t ask him to stop. He doesn’t take the booze away. he gives Tony water bottles at school. He gives Tony cheeseburgers for dinner. He lets Tony sleep in the same bed as him, so the nightmares will go away.

Tony asks why, one day. When he’s too drunk to think this is a bad idea, he asks why Rhodey takes care of him.

“Because everyone deserves to have someone love them. To know that somewhere, someone has their back. To know that they will never be alone.”

Tony had cried and cried, because for the first time… he felt like a person. Not a living legacy. Not a freak. Not a robot. A person.

~

2020

Tony knows James Buchanan Barnes is coming back to the states, now that the war is over. He’s been dreading his return since 2001.

But Steve doesn’t mention it. He doesn’t talk about Bucky at all. He says, “Well, at least they’re going to let me do paper-work for the army now that the war is over… not exactly the return to the army I wanted but, whatever.”

Tony let himself rest, after a month went by and nothing happened. Then two months, three, six, a year… He felt safe again. Secure.

Maybe he’s okay. Maybe 19 years is enough to get over someone.

God, he’s been sober for 15 years…

He calls Rhodey on the official day he was sober, the anniversary of it. He talks to him, he smiles, he talks about what’s happening in the army.

He doesn’t notice Steve slip in the door, wearing the wrong dog tags

~

2021

“Dad? I need to talk to you.”

Tony looks up from his coffee, smiling at Peter. He shows Peter has his full attention.

Steve springs to his feet. “No you don’t, you need to get ready for school.” He insists. Tony frowns. Why does he looked so panicked?

Peter glares. “I think you should sit down, now.” His voice leaves no room for argument. Why is Peter being so rude?

But of course, Steve argues anyway. Steve has always been so stubborn. Usually, Tony finds it cute. “That’s no way to talk to-“

“Either shut up or leave the room, Steve, I’m tired of your bullshit.” Peter seethes. Steve?! Since when does Peter use Steve’s name?

Tony’s eyes widen. “That is no way to speak to your father! What on earth has gotten into you?” He gapes at his son being so disrespectful to Steve. This is so unlike his sweet boy!

Peter stares Steve down, who breaks eye contact and sulks to his room. What the absolute hell is happening?! Why did Steve leave? What’s going on?

Peter sighs and looks to Tony, going closer. “Dad… I have really bad news…”

Tony frowns. “It must be bad, for you to be so disrespectful…” He looks over his shoulder to where Steve went.

Peter sighs and rubs his eyes. “I saw Papa cheating on you. He said he loves this person, and he would leave you except he doesn’t want to lose me.”

Tony’s face is screwed up in pain, disbelief in his eyes. He can’t believe it. He thought… he thought he got through it. He thought Steve loved him. He thought he helped Steve forget… “It’s Bucky, isn’t it? You saw him with Bucky?”

Peter winces. “He called him Buck.”

Tony looks down, and tear drops fall to the table. Tony starts nodding, even though he has nothing to nod to. His head just won’t stop moving. “Thank you, Pete. For telling me.” He can’t break down yet. Not yet. Not in front of his son.

The next thing Tony knows, Peter lunges across the table, hugging his dad. He hides his face in Tony’s neck, and Tony holds him close. He doesn’t care that his son is probably too old for this. His son is in pain and he has to comfort him. “I’m s-sorry…” Wait.. what?

Tony hugs Peter back, shaking his head. “I’m glad you told me, kiddo. I’d rather know.” He whispers. He kisses the side of Peter’s face.

Peter sniffles and holds him tighter. “What do we do?” He asks.

Tony closes his eyes, letting out a shaky breath. “I don’t know, if I’m being honest. I knew that when Bucky came back from Europe, there was a chance. Steve had said when we first got together all those years ago, that he was still in love with his ex. But then he married me, and we got you, and 20 years passed—I thought he was over him. But no, Barns shows up from Europe, and it’s like I meant nothing to him.”

Peter sobs at that. “I’m s-So sorry!” He sobs.

Tony sniffles and pulls Peter away. “Don’t be sorry. I’ll be okay. I- I need to go talk to your papa now, okay?”

Peter sniffles and pulls off of his dad’s lap, standing next to him and trying not to cry. He fails.

Tony stands and goes towards the bedroom.

When he walks into the room, Steve is putting together an overnight-bag. Tony’s lower lip wobbles. “So you’re leaving me, then? That’s it? No discussion? No explanation? No apology?”

Steve pauses, but then he turns around slowly, wiping a tear away from his eyes. “I’m sorry, Tony.”

Tony’s jaw clenches. “Why? Why would you… you said you were over him? You said you love me?”

Steve shakes his head, turning back to his packing. “I lied. I didn’t want to be alone. I didn’t want to be stuck waiting for him to come home. I wanted to be loved by someone, I wanted to love someone else. I lied to you, Tony. I didn’t love you, you never made me forget him. You only made me miss him more.”

Tony thinks he would have rather been punched in the guts, than hear that. “You never… you never loved me? Not even once? No ‘I will spend the rest of my life loving you to the core of my heart?’ Nothing?”

Steve shakes his head, zipping up the bag and throwing it over his shoulder. He sniffs, looking at Tony’s feet. “No, Tony. I never loved you. I never wanted you. I wanted Bucky. You were a distraction. A very good distraction, mind you. But I could never love you. Not when my heart has always and will always belong to Bucky.”

Tony closes his eyes, tears trailing down his face. “Peter…”

“I want to keep Peter with me. With me and Bucky. We’ll take good care of him, Tony. We won’t get drunk, we won’t neglect him, we won’t wallow in self-pity. We’re what he needs.”

Tony growls, eyes flying open. “You can take my son away from me over my dead body, Rogers. Get the hell out of my house.”

He hears Steve start to cry. Hears him leave. Hears him talk to Peter. Hears the front door close. He hears his son start bawling. He can’t neglect his kid. He’s hurting, yes. But so is his kid, and his kid is more important.

He wraps his arms around Peter, who’s curled into a ball on the floor. He cries with him, holds him. “I’m s-sorry!”

Tony shakes his head, kissing Peter’s hair. “It’s okay baby. You can be sad too. He left you too, it’s okay to be sad. It’s okay.”

Peter clings to his dad, and they sob together, miss Steve together, hold each other. Tony doesn’t know how to fix this. He doesn’t know how to be alone.

He refuses to call Rhodey, because this is an ‘I told you so’ he cannot handle.

~

1991

Tony doesn’t cry, as he watches his mother and father’s coffins get lowered into the ground. He drinks.

That’s what he does, when he’s sad. He drinks. That’s what he does when he feels alone. He drinks. This is what he does when it’s a day that ends in y–he drinks.

“I do wish you would stop that, Tones.”

Tony smiles sadly, pulling the bottle away from his lips. “I think you’re the only person who could ever actually make me stop, Honey Bear.”

Rhodes smirks, still not looking at Tony. “I won’t ask you to. You know that.”

Tony nods, watching them start to pile the dirt on. He waits a while, taking another sip, before he turns to Rhodey. “Platypus… how do you do it? How do you not drink? How do you feel so not-alone? How do you feel loved?”

Rhodey turns to look at Tony then, and his smile is gone. “Because I have something to live for, Tony. I have you to look after.”

Tony stares at him for a long time, a single tear finally falling down his face. “I wan to buy a tree.”

~

2021

Tony is an awful human being, and Steve was right. Peter deserves better than a drunk, dead-beat, absent father.

“Hey, kiddo. Sorry I drank too much yesterday. I won’t do that again.” he promises.

Yesterday was… bad. Yesterday was 16-glasses-in-bad.

“Liar.” Peter says, setting the tea down. His eyes are cold, his knuckles are red and sore.

Tony winces. He deserved that. “That’s-”

“We’re a family of liars, aren’t we?” He asks, setting his own tea down. “he lies and says he loves you, he loves me. You lie and say you’ll stop drinking, you’ll get better and be my dad again. I lie and say I’m fine, I don’t need him, I can take care of you and me.” He stands, stare emotionless for once. Not angry or sad or broken. Empty. Emotionless.

Tony wants to kill himself. For putting that look into his own son’s eyes. "Peter-“

Peter holds his hand up. "When you stop drinking, then you can apologize. Then you can be my dad again. If you ever stop drinking.” He watches as Peter goes back upstairs.

He picks up his phone.

~

2005

“I can’t. I can’t do it Rhodes! Help–help me! Gimme something, anything! please, please-I can’t-”

“Peter, Tones. You have to do this for Peter. For that little ball of goop that needs you so desperately. Come on, Tones. You’re stronger than this. You are so much stronger than this.”

Tony doesn’t believe him. He isn’t strong, he isn’t a good person, he can’t do this.

He does it anyway. Because his Peter needs him, and his Rhodey asked him to.

~

2021

Tony walks into the living room from his room. Peter nearly drops his mugs. “Dad?”

Tony smiles sadly. The kid has gotten used to seeing Tony passed out drunk in his lab. Just like Tony did his mom.

“Peter.”

Peter tears up and puts the mugs down, attacking him in a hug. “Uncle Rhodey!” he cries.

It warms Tony’s dead heart, just a little.

James smiles and hugs Peter back. “Hey, kiddo. You’re home late. Detention?”

Peter pulls back and blushes. “I c-can’t do it uncle Rhodey, I can’t do my English homework.”

James’s face grows hard, but he nods and clears his throat. “Right. Well, I’m making dinner tonight. Tacos?”

Peter nods, eyes wide. He turns to Tony as Rhodes leaves to the kitchen.

“He, um, took all my alcohol.” He says sheepishly. “And my drivers license and my keys. He’s going to be staying here for a while, until he deems I’m sober.” Tony asked him to. And Rhodey asked him to get sober. For his little ball of goop called Peter, who needs him desperately.

Peter tears up, unbelieving. “You did all this because of what I said yesterday?” He whispers.

Tony swallows thickly. God, he’s fucked up so bad with his son. “I want to be your dad, not your problem to take care of.”

Peter breaks down into sobs and holds his dad tightly, crying into his chest.

Tony holds him as tight as he can, kissing the top of his head. “I’m sorry, kiddo.”

Peter only sniffles, pulling back with tears in his eyes. “I missed you, dad.”

~

2001

“He isn’t a good idea, Tones. He’s going to break your heart. He told you he was still in love with his ex.”

Tony turns to Rhodes, a dopey smile on his face. “I don’t feel alone when i’m with him, Honey Bear. I’ve only ever felt like that when I’m with you.”

Rhodey takes a sip from his beer, sighing softly. “He’s going to break your heart, and I’m going to have to say I told you so. After I beat his ass, of course.”

Tony chuckles, taking a sip from his own bottle. “You’re gonna have so many ‘I told you so’s then.”

Rhodey sighs sadly, looking at his best friend. “Maybe I’m wrong this time. Maybe you’ll be the one to say I told you so.”

“Tony snorts and turns around, laying back on the couch. “Nah. My Rhodey is never wrong. It’s why I love you.”

~

2021

I missed you too, kid.