Anon Headcanon request:
Warning..this one has triggers for past abuse. Both physical and emotional
If you catch Tony alone under the cover of dark; in the still time between deep night and purple dusk and if he counts you as one he trusts, he may tell you his nightmares are made of midnight black skies lit up with stars of supernova brightness that want to swallow him alive. Or, on rare occasions when he is still under the grip of sand and blood, he’ll spill a little about Afghanistan. Never, not once, will he speak of his childhood.
He won’t explain why sudden movement in his peripheral vision will make him flinch violently. Why using an open palm to gesture at him will have him moving so fast across the room. Or why there are never decorative branches, whip thin and long in any of the floral arrangements in Stark properties. Not once will he whisper why those who know him well never come up behind silently. Why the crack of leather being pulled through a belt loop causes the color to drain from his face and him to shove his hand into his pocket to hide how badly it shakes. Not once on those nights where darkness is so thick it can choke a man will you hear him murmur that he’s sorry, he is so, so sorry. That, yes, he knows he has to be quiet so he doesn’t wake his mother, no matter how desperately he needs her. Yes, he knows! He absolutely knows that it’s his fault that he’s weak and irresponsible and that he doesn’t deserve the family he has. Never, ever will he admit to the small oblong scar on his hip to being anything but a teenage prank gone wrong, no matter how much you press that it looks remarkably like a buckle.
And on one of those nights, no matter if you happen upon him folded in on himself on the living room floor back against the wall, knees bent, elbows resting on them and his hands fisted in his hair, struggling to breathe as Rhodey, the one person who was there for it all, lays his arm across his shoulders and rubs soothing circles into Tony’s wrist. No matter if you see him grasp hard at Rhodey’s hand to keep him close, no matter what, you will never get the truth. Tony will think up a lie on the spot even as he swipes at his eyes and rubs the tear tracks from his face. Because this his pain. His to keep close. Everything in his life is public. Everything. from his birth, to his lovers to his parents death. But this? Never once did a breath of it reach the press.
Because Stark men are made of iron. Stark men never break and they certainly never cry. Not even for the small, scared boy they once were. And definitely not for the ghost of that child who still lives inside them.