Behind the Iron mask:

A/N: Sorry it's been so long! I don't have any excuses. But here you go!

-I don't own anything. All I own is this silly plot.

Tony and Steve sat in the front seats of the billionaire's red Ferrari parked in the underground lab of the tower. For the moment, it was silent. Tony occupied the driver's side, nursing the cup of hot coffee Steve had made for him. The blistering liquid soothed the ache building in his throat from his earlier outburst. Steve sat quietly next to him, observing the destruction of the lab and Tony's other luxury cars around them. He didn't speak. He didn't even glance at the wounded man. And Tony appreciated the opportunity to gather his thoughts. How exactly does one tell the poster boy for America why they want to kill themselves? He wasn't even sure he knew the answer himself.

"You were all my father talked about." He finally said.

Steve drew his gaze from the dash to the broken man next to him, silently urging him to continue. Tony didn't return the eye contact, choosing instead to focus on the intricate grooves of the leather steering wheel.

"I grew up hearing stories about you. 'Captain America saved this many people on this day' and 'Steve Rogers sacrificed himself to save the world'. He idolized you. I idolized you. I wanted to BE you. He spent the rest of his life trying to find you. So much that I became an unimportant factor in his life. A distraction. An annoyance."

Steve sighed and felt an unwelcome remorse rise like bile in the back of his throat. He swallowed hard as he tried to rid himself of it. Too often in the past 24 hours he had felt this guilt. There was nothing he could have done. He was frozen in ice. It was not like any of this was from his personal ill will.

"He was so obsessed with finding you that I think he lost himself. He began to drink heavily. And the more he drank the more he hated me. He resented me. Like father like son, right?" Tony laughed darkly.

"Tony, I'm…"

"And then he pulls this grand bullshit about me being his greatest creation." He cut him off. "It's such bullshit. I spent my whole life being compared to Captain Fucking America! I was never his greatest creation, you were! He made sure to remind me how useless I was. How worthless. How I could never be anything next to the amazing Steve Rogers."

Steve had heard enough. "You are not worthless. I'm so sorry that I had such an impact on your father and you. That was not the Howard Stark that I knew. And I'm glad I never met him. I would have punched his lights out."

Tony merely shook his head. Steve frowned and grasped the man's shoulder, attempting to offer comfort. But the older man shrugged off his hand. He reached up to his chest and violently twisted the arc reactor and removed it from its protective plate.

"It would be so easy."

"What the hell are you doing?!" The blonde asked with a sharp edge of panic.

"Relax, Steve, it can be out for a few seconds before it becomes life threatening." Tony halfheartedly assured as he listlessly reattached the reactor.

"Just, please don't. I know I'm behind on the technology, but I have no idea how that thing works or how to fix you if you were dying."

"Way behind, Cap, way behind."

Steve just gave him a tentative smile before pulling the lever to recline the bucket seat. He looked pensively up at the tanned roof and sucked in a deep breath of air between his teeth.

"My parents were extremely poor. Irish immigrants. I don't remember my father really. He died when I was really young. But my mother, Sarah, I remember her. She was beautiful. She had striking red hair and blue eyes like mine. She was all I had and I was all she had. And that was enough for us. There were times when we couldn't afford food, so she would work two jobs and did everything she could to make sure I had a warm dinner every night. She was so strong, but it wore her down. She got really sick, pneumonia, and just couldn't fight it anymore. She died when I was thirteen. I lived at an orphanage for the rest of my childhood. The poor living conditions made me the scrawny, sickly kid that was easy to beat up after school. There were times that I hated my life too. You're not the only one that has wanted to die."

"Why didn't you?" Tony asked quietly as he finally turned to look at the super soldier.

"I did." Steve whispered. "After school with a razor in the boys' bathroom…but I underestimated the maintenance workers' efficiency. The serum Erskine gave me somehow got rid of my scars…like Captain America was not allowed to have been so weak."

"What changed?"

Steve tore his gaze from the roof of the car and locked eyes with the man behind the iron mask. He saw a desperate need for understanding, a desire for hope, shining in the unshed tears pooled in Tony's eyes.

"I found a friend." He answered honestly. "Bucky understood what I was feeling and accepted me anyway. He looked out for me. He was the only one who made me feel like I actually mattered since my mother."

Tony scoffed bitterly. "Well, I don't have any friends."

Steve climbed out of the car and shut the door softly. He rolled up his sleeves and made his way around to Tony's side. Leaning to peer through the open window, he spoke simply.

"You have friends, Tony. You just have to wake up to see them."

A/N: Here's the end, folks. I really didn't want to drag this story out. And besides, I'll let all of you create your own endings to where they go from here. I hope you all enjoyed! Leave me reviews and I might be inspired to do another story.