To Be Made of Iron

BY : Prentice
Category: Marvel Verse Movies > Iron Man (all) > Iron Man (all)
Dragon prints: 1264
Disclaimer: I do not own Marvel, nor the characters from it. I do not make any money from the writing of this story.

Title: To Be Made of Iron
Author: Prentice
Fandom: IMarvel Cinematic Universe (Iron Man)
Rating: ADULT
Warning: Alcoholism, Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms
Pairing: Gen, Past-Howard/Maria
Author's Note: My headcanon for this is a bit all over the place but the basics are pretty straightforward for this piece: instead of both Howard and Maria being killed during the assassination attempt by the Winter Solider, Howard somehow manages to survive and doesn't cope well with the loss of his wife. This, as you might well imagine, has a ripple effect on both himself, his son, and the timeline of certain events. This is a sort of prequel to the fallout.

On a side note, I've adjusted the timeline with both Howard and Tony being different ages (younger) than they are in canon when all of this happens. Instead of being a teenager, Tony is around 7 or 8 when all this happens. I don't know if I'll continue this but if I do, the age difference will actually be important to the plot of future fics.

Summary: Howard Stark doesn't know how to be a father - he never did - but he wants to be one. Now, more than ever.

After Maria’s death, Howard isn’t afraid to admit that he falls apart. He doesn’t mean to; best intentions have always been the bane of Stark men’s existence and Howard is no exception, so instead of doing all the things he’s supposed to do – all the things he needs to do, he starts to work too much and drink too much. He beds as many men and women as he possibly can and spends as much time away from home as is humanly possible.

No, not just away from home.

Away from Anthony. Away from their son. His son.

It isn’t the right thing to do, he knows. His relationship with his boy has always been a complicated one, and leaving him to deal with his mother’s brutal death is cruel in ways that he doesn’t even realize until it’s much too late. Maria had always been the one who – he doesn’t even know. She’d understood Anthony, really understood him, in ways that Howard just – didn’t – couldn’t.

Still, doesn’t.

He’s tried to; has spent time showing his boy the family business. Building robots and computers and anything else that his boy showed an interest in. Helped clumsy fingers rewire delicate parts and a brilliant mind develop ideas that are far beyond that of even some of the men under Howard’s employ.

It didn’t – doesn’t – help, though. Him and his boy, they’re just on different wavelengths. At least, that’s the way it feels to him most days, especially with Anthony – Tony – growing older and the time they spend in each other’s company lessening by the day, by the hour.

It isn’t how it should be – the time he’d spent in the shop with his boy is the greatest gift he has most days; a clear perfect memory that twists up something painful and sharp and damn near blissful inside of him every time he thinks about it – but it’s just the way it is now.

Maria had understood that. Understood him, just the way she had with his – their – boy and he hadn’t realized just how much he’d come to depend on that until it was too late. Until it was – until she was – until it’s gone.

For good.


The fragile little bridge that connected his life to his boy’s shattered and broken beyond repair. Beyond reason. Beyond thought. His wife’s – his Maria’s – body left broken and bloody and lifeless on the side of the road like so much refuse; her car crumpled like a piece of tissue paper against the side of a tree and his relationship with his boy like a whole different kind of wreckage waiting for him back home.

He tries at first – or at least he thinks he tries. Holds firm in the face of publicity and speculation; of a long and winding investigation and an endless stream of questions that don’t even bear answering anymore. He holds firm in the face of funeral arrangements and memorial services; in the face of tears and condolences.

He holds firm like stone – like iron – like a Stark; his hand barely trembling around his boy’s shoulder as they walk silently away from the graveside; cuts and bruises from the – accident is what it’s officially being called – barely healed as he allows his boy to hide his face against his jacket, tears damp against his shirtfront.

It’s only later, though, that he – falls. No, not falls, just – he doesn’t know. For god’s sake, he doesn’t know. It’s all just – without Maria – it’s – he can’t. He just can’t. So he stops – or doesn’t stop – or does whatever it is that he does that makes him break apart into tiny broken pieces that are jagged and sharp and no good to anyone.

Least of all Tony. Anthony. His boy. Their boy. Maria’s boy.

He can’t be what the boy needs him to be. Not right then. He’s too much of a mess; cut up inside. Ripped open and bloody with salt in every wound and he doesn’t want his boy to see him this way. Can’t bear the thought of him seeing him this way, so he – falls.

Hard and fast.

With a glass in his hand. With liquor on his breath. With anguish burning up every bit of him. And it’s the worst decision he’s ever made. Will ever make. Could ever make.

Because he loses his boy.

Somewhere along the way. He doesn’t know when – doesn’t even know how. Maybe his boy was lost to him a long time ago. Maybe Maria was the only thing holding them together. Maybe he…

Maybe he was never meant to be a father. Even though it felt right. Even though it had always felt right, right from the moment Maria had told him right there in his workshop; every good and perfect thing he’d ever made, ever created, ever had in his life right there within easy reach.

Including Maria. Including his wife. His beautiful beautiful wife. His soul mate; the other half of himself. The only woman, the only person, who had ever really understood him as him and not as a Stark man, had stood there smiling down at him and told him you’re going to be a father like it was the only right thing in the world.

Is still the only right thing in the world, even though she’s gone now. Even though he’s alone. Even though he doesn’t even know how to be one, not anymore, not without her, but wants to be one.  So badly.

He doesn’t know where to start, though. Doesn’t know how to begin. He’s – a mess, is the kindest way he can think to describe it, and worse, he’s let Anthony – Tony, it’s Tony now; his boy can’t stand to be called Anthony anymore – become a mess too; the broken pieces of both of them taking on the jagged shape of a woman they both loved beyond reason.

But – he has to try. He will try. For himself. For Maria. For Anthony – Tony.

He’ll try.

For all of them.

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