Author: Tsornin Sungold
Title: Trying for Family
Summary:Drabble. Oneshot. AU. Post Final Battle. EWE. Post Avengers. Tony Stark has a son. This is their first conversation together.
Warnings: Allusions to infidelity.
Disclaimer: Please don't sue; I'm not making any money off of this. The plot is from my own twisted mind.
Tony Stark looks across the table at the stranger, at his unknown, and unlooked for son. They are alone together now. The lawyers and Pepper have left the room. The silence between them stretches. Neither knows what to say.
"Why'd you try to find me?" Tony asks before the quiet can get too awkward. He's genuinely curious. Tony hasn't spent a lot time wondering about possibly becoming a father, except to think it's probably better for him to avoid it.
The boy, Harry, his son, looks away. "Er, I'm getting older, you know. Almost an adult."
'That can't be right' Tony thinks, thoughts breaking into the explanation. 'I can't have an almost adult son. True, Harry is seventeen, but I can't be that old. Can I?' He is. Tony has proof that, indeed, he can and does, in fact, have a child that's old enough to be an adult. Almost. Not that he needs evidence to know how old he is. Tony feels old. He's put his body through a lot: building dangerous weapons with hazardous materials, partying with alcohol, drugs, women, living every day fast and wild. He's been maimed, tortured, and he has an electromagnet in his chest, for God's sake. He's Iron Man. He gets pummeled a lot. He basically runs on a battery. He's old. He's even died, a bit, maybe, it's unclear. Oh God.
Harry's still speaking. He hasn't noticed Tony's little freak out. Tony decides this is a good thing and tunes back in.
"A friend suggested I look at my parents' papers. They left me some money. I found... I didn't... Imagine my..." Harry breaks off. He takes a shaky breath and starts again. "I found adoption papers. For me. And my dad. Just my dad. It listed him as adopting his wife's baby. It's great, I guess, that he still wanted me. Since I wasn't his, I mean. But, it's just, James Potter has always been my dad. I can't believe that Mom… It was a shock."
Harry looks at Tony and for the first time meets his gaze. 'God, his eyes are so green,' Tony thinks, not for the first time. It's an assessing look. Harry's eyes are heavy and burdened, somehow aged. It's a man's gaze. Tony feels judged by it. 'What gives this kid the right to judge me?' Tony wonders indignantly. And, he realizes, 'I did. When I fathered him.'
Harry continues his voice stronger, more level. "I have been an orphan for most of my life. I know how to take care of myself. I've been doing it for years. But, when I was growing up, all I wanted was for my parents to come and take me home, to be alive and with me."
The "That never happened," went unsaid, but Tony hears it all the same. It reverberates around the conference room.
"If five, or eight, or ten, or even fourteen-year-old me, knew that I had a living father that I refused to even try to have a family with, I'd never have forgiven myself. I have to try." Harry grins, and Tony recognizes it as one of his own. It's battered and hovering somewhere between I know this is bullshit and I'm doing it anyway. "Besides, like I said, I'm almost an adult. We've got maybe eight months until I am, and, if it doesn't go well, I can just go, right? We can say we tried. If the very worst happens, then I've just got one more relative that pretends I don't exist and I pretend doesn't exist. It's fine."
Tony doesn't know what to say to that. Harry's voice had gotten weird at the end of his explanation. Tony can't explain how, but it was definitely…odd. Plus, he didn't like the idea that Harry would ignore him. Tony doesn't like anyone to ignore him, but something about Harry just up and leaving – forever - hurts.
So, Tony smirks as he remarks "You don't sound too optimistic about our chances here, Kid. You need to relax. We're fine. We'll be fine. But you're stuck, you know, once a Stark, and all that. I'm not gonna abandon you. I am a responsible adult."
Harry's assessing gaze returns. "You slept with a married woman, without a care as to what would happen to her marriage, or where that left any progeny you may have created."
At that, Tony can't help but protest, "Hey, I've grown a lot since then!"
Harry's gaze hardens, the lights glinting off his glasses. "So have I." The aged look in his eyes is back. Somehow, Harry manages to look less like the sullen teenager he should resemble and more like the cynical adult Tony's beginning to suspect he is. Tony isn't sure what to do with that, so he lets it go.
There is an awkward heartbeat of silence between them, and father and son hold their breath at the slightly bitter tension filling the room. Then, Tony shakes it off and offers his son a tour of the tower.
They leave the conference room, the room where they first laid eyes on each other, where they read the DNA results and officially recognized each other as family, where they had their first conversation as father and son. As they go, Tony thinks, 'All things considered, it could have gone worse. As far as conversations go, it wasn't that bad. You know, for a first try.'
Author's note- I've been reading a lot of Harry son of Tony recently (since the Avengers came out). Tony is the best for surprise meet your kid stories because he sleeps with everyone so anyone could be his kid. This scene got stuck in my head. I tried to end it optimistically.