Attics Aren't The Best Places
Tony knew he should have been more upset when his parents died.
Maybe there was something wrong with him - it wouldn't be too far off considering lots of people with his level of genius went completely insane - but maybe it was simply because Howard and Maria had become little more than acquaintances that shared the same hollow, expansive space that was Tony's childhood home.
Most people would find it sad, that Tony couldn't even force a few tears at his own parents' funeral, but he simply found it expected, if a little annoying considering those that noticed were likely to kick up a fuss - namely, the media and their preying, hawk-like eyes.
Drawing his mind away from the lack of salty liquid in his own eyes, Tony felt a little bad that his thoughts had taken the track of not caring about the people who had, like it or not, brought him into the world. Of course he was upset, they were his parents for God's sake; they had cared for him a little bit at least, through the haze of alcohol and absences - Howard on his escapades to somewhere cold that Tony didn't bother to remember, Maria off to Italy as soon as Tony could walk to go and relive the old times with her family and friends.
They were probably both having affairs, Tony thought wryly.
Either way - there might be a little bit of truth in the speech that he had been asked to give in the service. Just a little.
Hidden under the shadow of an overly large umbrella, Tony left the church with Obie by his side, glad that he had at least his father's old friend by his side to guide him against the harsh rain and glaring camera flashes.
It was so unbelievably stereotypical that Tony actually snorted - Obie put it down to grief.
And now, here he was sat in an old, musty attic four months later, being forced to root through the remnants of his parent's lives. Joy.
There was endless blueprints and plans and sheets upon sheets of decades old paper, for things like weaponry and model cities as well as chunks of metal that looked like long abandoned prototypes.
It was a stark difference to the boxes that contained his mother's things - designer dresses that were probably worth a fortune as well as stacks of books and paper and journals filled them to the brim.
Coughing, Tony reached for and yanked a large cardboard box that he had not anticipated to be quite so heavy, assuming that it held clothes like its neighbours - and it fell to the floor, upending its contents onto the dusty floorboards.
Swearing, Tony went to kneel down before remembering that these were very expensive trousers - even by his standards.
He awkwardly squatted instead.
Mounds of old papers and paperwork that looked at least a decade old were sprawled haphazardly on the floor - some of it even looked unopened, letters with openings still sealed shut.
Tony was only human, after all - he went for the biggest, most promising looking folder, that looked fit to bursting with some sort of secret from his parents' past - he didn't know which one, because suspiciously there was no label on the box.
It was unexpectedly heavy with hidden depths, and with a sharp surge of anticipation of which Tony didn't know where it came from but had it all the same, strange enough due to the fact that he had been opening musty, crumbling old boxes for nearly two hours by now.
He read the typed, nondescript font quickly, eyes glancing over the words but not really taking them in before he read them for a second time - partially because it was in Italian. Thankfully, sitting with a stuffy old Italian tutor every Thursday evening was the only request of Maria concerning Tony's education - she was determined to make sure Tony could communicate with his family at least a little bit. Howard didn't seem to care, even though he himself was half Italian. Tony actually doubted that he spoke a word of the language.
At first, the words did not seem too dehabilitatingly shocking, but with a further read of the document due to nothing more than pure curiosity and boredom, the shock set in.
A birth certificate.
Tony expected that the certificate-document-thing would be signifying the birth of himself, or his parents - but no. The name printed on the thin paper was not Anthony, Howard or Maria, but instead a rather mundane "Harry".
There was no reason for the birth certificate of some obscure, nondescript child to be within the hidden confines of his parents' lives - but it was not this that had caused Tony's shock.
It was the papers that had long ago become unattached to the birth certificate that shocked him.
There was a fair few, all showing different sections and stages, all now littered upon the creaking floor with the remains of their staples that had been binding them together before Tony has disturbed them. There was a sudden sense of urgency that overtook and absorbed Tony, a bubble of frantic scrambling to find that it wasn't true, that Tony's quick thinking had failed him and that he really shouldn't have had that one dodgy looking shot last night instead of the terrifying, astounding reality that slowly lodged itself into Tony's stomach, echoing into his mind that it was true.
Rocking back on his heels, eventually falling back far enough to near enough topple into a sitting position upon the floor, Tony's mind reeled further than his body just had.
He didn't quite know what he should do.
What seemed like hundreds of emotions welled up inside of him, twisting his thought patterns into mangled corpses and he tried to move through the fog to think about the logical path forward, a testament to his many years of developing and inventing and designing.
Then, as it always did, the anger slithered from the depths of somewhere deep within Tony and eclipsed all other feeling. Anger and his parents, anger at the adoptive parents, anger at those who kept it quiet and anger at himself for not catching on sooner, for not being there.
And then the big question - why had his parents given his brother up for adoption?
He couldn't find it within himself to doubt the fact that he had a brother. Apparently, he was eight now. Little. Most definitely still a child. And, though Tony would never, ever admit it out loud and could barely bring himself to admit it internally to himself - so was he. He had only just turned eighteen, for God's sake.
Something else was crawling its way into his system though, something both scary and exciting at the same time - the need to find Harry.
Tony had recently lost his family. He didn't get along with them too well when they were alive, and they certainly were not in his good books at the moment, but the thought of being the only one in the world, alone in the solitude of being left behind by the people that brought you into the world, was terrifying. He was the last one.
The very idea of having somebody who could possibly match his intelligence sent a swell of happiness soaring through him, the idea that he could look at another person and see aspects of himself in them again - however self-obsessed that was - felt … good.
He needed to find Harry.
He needed to tell somebody about this … someone who could help him find his little brother, as strange as the notion still seemed to him, even in his own head.
Quick as ever, the phone had already selected the contact name affectionately labelled "Platypus" before Tony realised that he had been controlling it. It wasn't long until Rhodey picked up, with an impatient sigh brought on from the collection of drunken calls and middle-of-the-night coffee induced conversations.
'Tony, I swear to God, if this is about that damn toaster again -'
'No - I - uh … can you please come over?'
There was a pregnant pause at the other end of the line, and Tony cursed his stuttering. Apparently, finding out about long lost family affected more than just your brain.
'Did you break something important?'
Tony sighed. 'No. No I did not - seriously, I didn't. I just … found something out and could really do with someone else being here too right now.' Realising what he had said, Tony hurriedly continued on. 'I called everyone else but they're all busy so I had to call you.'
'Right,' Rhodey said, sounding unconvinced but not mentioning anything about it. Bless him. Tony should make some kind of anonymous donation to his bank account. Rhodey sighed in such a long-suffering way that the figure in Tony's mind doubled. 'I'll be over as soon as. Just give me half an hour to make something up to tell the -'
'Okay thanks.' Tony interrupted him swiftly, ignoring the protests and hanging up on his friend before he could get emotional in any way, shape, or form.
Tony rubbed his hand over his face, groaning as he threw the thin sheets of paper to the ground. It was only a few seconds later that he picked them back up again, staring through them unseeingly before deciding that he might as well look through the rest before Rhodey arrived.
Nonsensical codes and letter in both Italian and English were stamped across the pages, and Tony was really starting to wish that Rhodey would hurry the hell up, before a small and unassuming pair of Polaroid's stapled together messily fell out of the wreath of wafer-thin paper, both crumpled and torn, dog eared at the edges.
One of them, the one on top, was a picture of a wrinkled and red-tinted looking baby, small tufts of black hair on it's head and fists clenched tight even though it's eyes were closed in what looked like sleep. Tony's arm physically reeled back when he realised that this must be his little brother, definitely not long after birth, in the arms of their shared mother - if the expensive rings on her hands where any indication.
God knew what sort of person kept huge diamond rings on during child birth.
In a new light, Tony looked at the picture underneath the first, and was startled to see a young couple beaming into the camera. The man had a handsome face with messy black hair that reminded Tony of his own, with hazel eyes covered with glasses and a lanky looking physique. The woman was much smaller in stature that then man and held an almost elfin like quality about her, with long red hair and dancing green eyes, hands held gently in her lap as she laughed into the lense of the camera.
Flipping over the photograph, Tony saw the scrawl of someone's writing that he did not recognise, labelling the picture "Potter". There was no marking on the other photo, no indication that that one was of any real importance.
As if Rhodey had sensed Tony's escalating anger, the door burst open with a resounding bang as Rhodey heaved himself past it and into the dust.
'Jesus Tony,' he said, coughing. 'What the hell are you doing up here? I thought you'd gone and blown yourself up for God's sake, warn a guy.'
Tony tried to grin, he really did, but the realisation that Rhodey was going to know about this and that he could maybe not keep a living, breathing human being a complete secret from everyone and everything hit him.
In his true style, he carried on with what he was doing anyway.
'Look,' he said, indicating to the papers that were, by now, scattered all around him. 'Adoption papers. Wonderful. Brilliant. Aweso -'
Rhodey made an unintelligible noise coming from the back of his throat, eyes wide and shining in the mild darkness, gawping at Tony owlishly.
'You -' he swallowed, 'You're adopted?'
Tony froze. And then he laugh.
He laughed so hard that he could barely breathe and so that Rhodey was looking as if he had just announced that he was going to marry the man's mother.
'Oh God no,' Tony gasped, holding his side from the pain of so much laughter, not even sure why or how the hysteria had kicked in so quickly or so potently. 'I … a brother, I have a little brother,'
'Right,' Rhodey said slowly, relieved, as he rubbed his forehead. Then he frowned. 'Wait, what?'
'They just -'
'Without even -'
'Right in one.'
'Christ,' Rhodey took a quick seat beside Tony on the dust infested floor. He looked at Tony with a sly glint in his eye that usually made Tony feel more than a little wary, considering how evil and vindictive Rhodey could be when he felt like it.
'Well,' he said decisively. 'We'd better go and find him then.'
There was a beat of silence, and then they both erupted into uncontrollable laughter.
- I hope you like this brand new start to 'The Stark Brothers'. Sorry it took so long - I may or may not have a huge bruise down the side of my face because I whacked it on a door and went into shock because it. I think I'm Tonks reincarnated.
Anyway; I hope you enjoyed and want to see more! I'll be posting an AN on the Stark Brothers, and then I leave it a bit to delete that story, if I will at all.. I'm still completely undecided. Aren't I always, though?
Thank you for everything! Hopefully the next update won't be too long.
- Spellmugwump x