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11 Years Old

Tony was getting mad at the homophobic newsreporter when his father walked in.

"By how angry you're getting, I would think you were gay." Howard snorted at his own joke.

"Well I'm not," Tony snapped back. "At least not really? I don't know. I don't like girls or guys like that..."

Howard hummed. "Well when you figure it out, I'll support you. Not matter who you like."

"Thanks dad." He smiled up at him.

12 Years Old

Tony got in the car after bidding Rhodey goodbye. Throwing his backpack in the back seat, he asked his mom, "So how'd the conference go?"

"T'Chaka still doesn't want to negotiate terms to trade vibranium."

"I honestly  don't blame him."

Maria laughed at that.

"True, true." She looked over at her son. "What did you and Rhodey do to entertain yourselves?"

"We went to see the new movie, Battleship."

"Did you two go alone?" She looked at him slyly.

"Not like that mom!"

"Okay! Okay." She laughed lightly. "But if you did like him, like that, I'm okay with it."

"I know." He said, rolling his eyes.

She smiled at him.

13 Years Old

"Are you gay?" His mother asked from her side of the couch, making him pause mid-rant.

"No mom."

"Then what are you?"

Tony took a deep breathe. "I'm asexual."

"A what?"

"Asexual"

"You're a sexual?"

"Here," He took out his iPad out and brought up the aven website. Once he got the page he wanted, he handed the tablet to her. "An asexual is someone who does not experience sexual attraction."

"Huh." She grunted and gave back the tablet. She didn't say anything else. She continued the show from where Tony paused it earlier.

14 Years Old

Tony sat in the back of the car, feeling hungry as his mother drove them to a pizza place. 

"So," His dad started. "Are you gay?"

Tony sighed. "No, I'm asexual." His dad turned to him from the passenger seat.

"Last I checked you didn't multiply and make clones."

"No, as in I don't experience sexual attraction."

"Uhu." His dad gave him a weird look. The rest of the ride was silent.

Later in the Stevie B's, Maria ate her pizza before trying to strike up a discussion.

"Why do people need labels?"

"Huh?" Tony looked up from his phone.

"Why label things? We're all humans, just keep it as that."

Tony felt the rising panic in his throat.

"So we feel like we belong somewhere and-"

"But they do belong! We all belong! Together! By making labels, you are forcing yourself away from the rest of us."

Tony felt the sweat on his elbows and the shaking of his legs. His sweater felt like it was suffocating him. The pizza in his hand now felt dry and soggy.

"IIIII need to go to the bathroom." And he went quickly as he could. He sat down on the toilet, his breath short and quick. His nose and cheeks were red and blotchy. His wrists were itchy and so were his eyes.

He sat there and cried.

15 Years Old

Tony was eating a peanut butter sandwich when his father walked in the living room. Tony paused his show.

"You and mom were gone for a long time, hmmmm?" Tony snickered.

"Why are you making sex jokes? I thought you were asexual." Howard walked out of the living room into the kitchen behind it.

Tony sighed, his appetite gone, and continued his show.

16 Years Old

"When are you really going to come out?"

Tony paused from getting his underwear from the clean clothes hamper.

"WWWhat?" He looked up at his mom.

"When are you really going to come out of the closet?" His mom smiled at him lightly, patting his shoulders as she walked passed him, snickering.

Tony's shoulders slumped. A heavy sigh came from his lips.

6 Months Later

Tony sat on the bench next to Natasha. His stomach was squeezey and he felt like every bite he ate of his lunch was going to come back up. As he swallowed the last bite, he sat up straighter.

"I-uh-I have something to tell you."

Natasha had gained a worry line between her eyebrows. "Everything okay?"

"Yeah, yeah, just um..." Tony felt pathetic. "Uh...Here." He got out his phone and pulled up the definition again. "I'm, uh, I'm, I'm,..." He handed her the phone. "That." He tapped the screen. "I'm that."

She looked at his phone, his anxiety spiking as her face became more confused.

"can you, uh, explain this a little more?" She asked. Tony nodded, his anxiety dulling lightly.

"I don't get turned on by images or people who others deem 'sexy' or like when girls in wet white t-shirts and Clint gets all drooly. I wouldn't because I'm not sexually attracted to them. Or anyone."

"That's an actual thing?"

"Yeah."

She looked over at him a little teary eyed. "There's a word?"

Tony hugged her.

"Yeah there's a word."

They cried together.