Chapter Seven:

When Tony had gotten home Pepper and Rhodey could tell something was amiss, Tony had excused himself to his garage without even saying hello. Tony hadn't realized how bad his cousins' words had impacted him 'till he had gotten home. But he wouldn't give up he said to himself, he would win them over he thought before falling into a deep slumber.

The next morning Tony's bad mood had been lifted when his aunt called that morning.

"I'm just glad everything went well yesterday." She gushed, not exactly everything he thought to himself. "But I was calling to invite you to dinner tonight. How does that sound?" Debra finally had Tony back and she didn't plan on losing him anytime soon, so she decided to invite to dinner anytime possible.

"Sounds great!" he answered, "What time?" he wouldn't let what happened yesterday get in the way of him seeing his aunt and uncle.

"How about seven?"

"Great, I'll just finish up some work here in the office and I'll be there."

"All right honey, take care I'll see you tonight."

"Bye."

Tony hung up the phone and continued getting everything ready for the hearing in three days. He didn't care what it took, but he would never turn in his suits; they were his and only his.

It was now five and he would be leaving to his aunt's soon. He was looking forward to seeing his aunt and uncle, though not so much his cousins as mean as that sounded. Even if they were just teenagers and surely it didn't matter what they thought, it was still unpleasant being in a room where some people don't want you there.

Pulling up to his aunt's house he got out the car and walked to the home knocking on the door.

"Tony!" his aunt exclaimed, "Come in sweetie."

He hugged his aunt and walked in. Walking through the living room he saw Rosaline, and Evangeline, watching TV.

"Kids, your cousin is here." His aunt informed them.

"Hey." The girls greeted kindly.

Tony was surprised at how they greeted him; their tone was amicable and held no sort of negativity, though he realized that this was because his aunt was standing there.

He walked into the kitchen where his uncle sat on the island.

"Tony, my boy, how are you?" his uncle David greeted while washing the vegetables.

"I'm doing well, Uncle David." He greeted, "Is there anything I can help with?" he asked hopefully, the last thing he wanted was to sit with his cousins.

"I think everything is covered. Why don't you go sit with your cousins while we get everything ready?" his uncle said from the sink.

"Uh, sure." He didn't want to, but he didn't protest. Walking to the living room Tony had a flash of dizziness. He leaned on the wall for support until the feeling went away. After finally calming himself, he was once again startled.

"Are you okay?" a voice asked.

He snapped his heard toward the voice and saw it belonged to Evangeline. He inwardly cursed; he had hoped no one saw, he didn't want anyone questioning him about his health.

"Yeah, just got a little dizzy, that's all."

His cousin looked at him suspiciously, "Are you sure?"

"Yes." He said confidently.

"Okay." She said and walked past him towards the kitchen.

"Hey," he called, "don't tell your mom, she tends to worry too much."

"Why would she worry, you are okay aren't you?" she gave him a pointed look.

"Yes, but I just wouldn't want her getting all hyped up for nothing." He said impatiently, all he wanted was for her to say yes to his request.

"Okay." She said simply and walked into the kitchen.

Throughout dinner he noticed his cousins glancing at him, he concluded that Evangeline must have told Rosaline what happened. He just hoped they wouldn't tell his aunt.

The next day Tony awoke early for a press conference. After last night's incident he hadn't felt much better, he was starting to feel worse every day. He needed to figure out a substitute for the palladium or it would be the end of Tony Stark and he didn't want that, not now after finally reconciling with his family.

Tony stood behind Rhodey waiting till it was his turn to stand behind the podium. He had not looked his best today, he awoke paler than yesterday and was feeling very weak today, he hoped nobody noticed.

Rosaline sat lazily on the living room couch flipping through the channels. Passing the news station she heard the news woman speaking about Tony. She had been about to change the channel when they showed him standing behind the podium, there was something different about him Rosaline concluded. He wasn't standing with the confident air he usually had, he seemed tired and sick. Thoughts of Tony being ill crossed her mind, and a guilty feeling started to form in her stomach. She shook her head and changed the channel deciding she was thinking too much.

Later that day, Rosaline and Evangeline sat in the kitchen helping their mother prepare dinner when she announced Tony would be coming again. They weren't surprised; in fact they were sure this would become very common. From her left side she heard Evangeline groan, something she probably would have done, but she couldn't help but feel bad for him after she saw him on TV. She decided to see if her mom had noticed anything odd.

"Hey, mom?" she called interrupting her mother's lecture towards Evangeline, "Did you see Tony on T.V. today?"

"On the news? Yes, poor guy looked so worn out. He's been under so much stress lately." She said distractedly.

So she had notice. A knock on the door interrupted Rosaline from speaking any further.

"Rose will you get that please?"

"Sure." Placing the knife down on the table she walked to the door.

Opening it she came to face with Tony, she moved to the side and let him in.

"My mom's in the kitchen." She said and led him there without greeting him; Tony Stark was still not her favorite person.

"Tony!" her mother greeted.

"Hey. Do you guys need any help; I know I'm a little early."

"That would be nice." Their mother said and looked at them, "we'll get everything done sooner."

Rosaline had shared her thoughts with her sister after she had seen Tony on T.V. Evangeline agreed he didn't look very well, but like her mother, she blamed it on the stress.

"Coming into this family all over again is so stressful because we are such judge mental people, well some of us at least." She remembered Evangeline saying, "I would hate to be in his shoes."

What Evangeline voiced was not her actual opinion; she too thought maybe there was something wrong with him. First the dizzy spell and then the conference, didn't seem like a coincidence. She was just trying to convince herself otherwise by saying it was stress. She wouldn't admit out loud that maybe he was ill; it would only make her feel guiltier. But of course that guilt didn't stop them from disliking him. There always was the possibility they were over thinking it too, right?

After washing his hands Tony sat down at the island with the girls helping cut the vegetables. Rosaline couldn't help but stare at Tony as if trying to figure out his diagnostics. She felt a kick from under the table, she looked over and realized Evangeline was the culprit.

"Stop." Evangeline mouthed.

Evangeline had too noticed Tony looked out of sorts, after she had seen him in the hallway he hadn't looked good since. She couldn't help but blurt out her question after her mom left to pick up the phone, "Are you okay?"

Tony looked up, "You're asking me?" he asked confused.

Evangeline nodded as if it were the most obvious thing.

"Fine." He answered simply.

"You look like crap." Rosaline noted.

Tony wasn't sure how to react to his cousins' behaviors; they had obviously noted he wasn't doing well.

"It's just the stress that's all; things have been getting rough at the company." And he ended it with that.

Tony couldn't stop thinking about what happened, if his cousins told his aunt about their suspicions she would never let it go until he told her what was really going on.