"I'm afraid I'll turn out like Howard."
Tony stood next to his wife, hand on her shoulder, as she poured her heart and soul out, admitted her fears and insecurities. Clint Barton and Diana stood with them, the wrists of the latter and his wife surrounded by the so-called lasso of truth.
Once Maria finished, it took him a moment to process her words, but he soon reached out with his hand and pulled one of hers into it, the other taking the lasso from Diana to twirl around his wrist. "Maria, look at me," he started, squeezing her hand to get her to look and see that he was bound by the truth as much as she was before. "I need you. Hell, I don't know what I would do without you. You keep me from blowing myself up, and that's on a good day. You have your faults, sure, but you're married to the guy with more than anyone. I'm arrogant, selfish. I expect everyone to come to me instead of reaching out even though I know I should. It's largely my fault that you feel unwanted, and I want to do better, I want you to feel as valued as I feel you are."
He looked to Clint first, then Diana, as if to apologize for them having to see this, and then back to Maria. "You are good enough, more than. We can work on our faults together because do you want to know what I'm most afraid of?"
"I'm afraid I'll turn out like Howard and put everything else before my family."
The words that came out of his mouth, while the truth if Diana's lasso was to be believed, surprised Tony. He had always considered his greatest fear becoming the kind of person who abused his position, who stopped regarding human life, but Maria's pregnancy had changed that.
Both of his fathers, Tony's and August's, had never been reliable. They had focused their energy into their legacies, leaving their son and heir to suffer through boarding school without a strong male role model. Tony had idolized his father, wanted to be just like him, but he had never felt loved by him – not until recently. The Starks were slowly but surely forming the bond that a father and son should have. It didn't change the years of neglect or make them disappear, but it was a step forward, one that he was taking for the sake of his own child (and maybe August Bergmen's friendship with David Presley).
"I want to be a good husband, a good father," he continued, eyes on his wife's the entire time. He was aware that they were not alone, aware that Diana and Clint were taking in every word, but he had done this for his wife. Whatever he had to do to help pull her out of her dark place, he would. If this lasso even remotely helped her with her own fear, it would be worth it. Maybe his own confession would give her the push she needed to punch her terrors in the face; it was the Maria Hill way, wasn't it? He knew the woman he married was still in there, buried beneath months of resentment personified by a fear entity.
Listening to her talk about feeling unwanted, like nothing more than a vessel to their unborn daughter, had ripped at his heart and made him feel worthless. In his opinion, to be the one to have neglected her so that she felt this helpless, was the worst thing he could have done. It brought him one step closer to becoming a replica of his own father. He was not going to allow that to happen. The pain in his eyes was apparent. Tony Stark took full responsibility for his wife's current state, and the guilt of what it had taken to get her to stand here in front of Diana, to lay her insecurities out there for all to hear, still tugged at him. He had gone to a place he never thought he would with her – - a cruel, mean place that she might not ever forgive him for. He had said things, threatened to leave her, all for the sake of snapping her out of it. It had worked, but at what cost? He could only hope his words now would make up for the ones he'd said to her just a day before.
"I want to be as strong as you are," he finished, only then allowing his emotions to get the better of him, unconcerned with any potential mocking on Barton's behalf. He was not plagued with fear as his friends had been, but that did not mean he was unafraid. Tony feared many things, but he was of the mind not to let them get in the way of his life. The knowledge that his apparent greatest fear had almost come true because of his own complacency was a wake up call, and he'd be damned if his daughter ever felt anything close to what he had growing up.
"That felt... really good to admit."