Tony Stark, aged nine, looked at his creation. Though perhaps, a much better term would be 'invention' as in all his years of staring at the new technology his older, though not infinitely that much better, peers had shown to his father, waiting for his approval. At first, he couldn't understand. Why would they even want to seek a comment for something Howard Stark would only look at for a couple of seconds and then linger for a simple one-word response? Then he started to create his own things, his own new contraptions, his own never before seen, specially designed by him, original manufactures.
He always tried to ignore the little pieces of his heart that break whenever his father wouldn't even try and pay attention.
He was brilliant, he knew that. He was smarter than most kids his age, maybe even smarter than most of the men here who were supposed to be completely out of his league. He was a genius, self-proclaimed maybe, but it was the truth. Nobody tried or dared to say anything else. The only problem is – he thought, sneaking his eyes to another man who was looking at his creation, a man with his brown hair and his blue eyes – that the one person who he really wants to see that just...doesn't.
He forced himself not to let the tears fall.
Later he went to his mother, and he whispered, "Will he ever love me?"
His blue eyes are much more brighter than his, he thought. Plus his hair is blonde, not brown. Another difference is that Steve Rogers' smile seems much more real than Tony's. It seems that much more easier to love. That much more full of happiness. Not like his. Tony's smile has always been a tiny bit crooked, a tiny bit broken.
Is that what was wrong? Was it the simple fact that he wasn't Steve Rogers too much for his father to handle? He clenched his fists and tried not to scream out loud. That was a little too unfair for him to think. He was his own man, he was Tony Stark. His dad had to realize – no, he had to know that. He had to know his own son. He had to.
Then again, the cruel part of his mind supplied, it's not like he ever treated you like one. He forced himself not to cry. That would seem too pathetic, too weak, and that wouldn't change anything in the least. It wouldn't make his father at least try to appreciate his son, or stop looking for the lost corpse of his friend. It wouldn't do anything. Tears were useless.
He tried not to think of the times he thought he was useless. They were too many, and he was only thirteen. He shouldn't think of that. He shouldn't shout obscenities at the man with the never changing smile. He shouldn't be this hurt, this broken, over such simple things. He shouldn't be this way.
Eventually his knees gave way and he crumpled at the frozen grin of Captain America.
He sobbed harder than he ever did in his life, that day.
Five years old. He was only five. But he knew, he knew that his dad would never show proper affection to him. It hurt. But he was only a child, so he hoped. He hoped and hoped and pleaded so much to his lucky star that he sometimes starts crying because although he was still so young, he knew his wishes were in vain.
His father would never love him. Tony Stark would never be loved. Universal Fact Num. 1483. Move along now.
Tony used to have big and innocent eyes. Between ages four and five, they were narrowed quite a bit. Nobody noticed. They did not care to mention, however, how his eyes had darkened far too much.
It was quiet when his mom had taken him outside. She said he needed some fresh air. He couldn't find it in himself to disagree with that, really. His mother always had a way with words.
Apparently, he inherited that.
They didn't say anything for a long while. Tony tried to keep it silent and peaceful, he really did, but his mouth had been opened already and the only thing he could think to say was: "What happens to me when you and Papa are gone?"
He tried not to think about the hidden meaning behind his words. How what he actually wanted to say was "What happens when I'm alone?"
His mother didn't dignify that with an answer. She simply told him to go back inside.
His wet pillow was the only indication he ever shed a tear that night.
"Big man in a suit of armor. Take that away, and what are you?" That's what Steve said.
Tony forced himself not to say, "Broken."