A.N. Takes place a few months after the movie.
Steve Rogers stormed into the room with both of his powerful hands clenched into fists. He looked like he really wanted to hit something, or someone.
He looked up, startled. He hadn't expected anyone to be there. The room he'd entered was a conference room but not one that was often occupied by anything more than a table and chairs. Steve liked it because it was out of the way of the usual hustle and bustle of the Helicarrier and because of the magnificent view of the sky it provided. This time though someone else had obviously decided to seek sanctuary there.
Colonel Nick Fury sat in one of the chairs calmly staring out of the large window.
"Ah… No. No, Sir. Sorry for disturbing you." Steve turned to leave, but Fury's voice stopped him.
"Let me guess," he said casually. "It's Stark, isn't it?"
For a moment, Steve considered lying, but then he let out a tired sigh and said, "Yes, sir."
"He's been pushing your buttons again?"
Steve nodded. Pushing buttons was putting it mildly. Mr. Stark seemed quite adept at shoving his nose into everyone's business, casting judgment, refusing to listen, and causing trouble all while making a million snarky comments. "I know the man is a member of my team, and he has proven several times that he is able and willing to do what needs to be done, but sometimes I just want to…" He trailed off his hands clenching and unclenching once more. "The man has no limits. He's a real wise guy, arrogant, egotistical…"
"A great big pain in the ass," Fury provided helpfully.
Steve gazed out the window. "Howard was never like that."
"He had his moments."
It took a second for Steve to realize what that comment implied. "You knew Howard Stark?"
"He was a founding member of SHIELD. We worked together for many years."
"You never mentioned…" Steve stopped. He had already learned that there were a lot of things Fury liked to keep to himself. "Tony may have inherited his father's genius, but their personalities couldn't be more different. I get the impression that Tony and his father didn't really got along and I can't say I'm surprised."
Fury gazed at him in that way he had which seemed to imply that he could see a lot more with his one eye than you could with two. "What you need to remember is that you met Howard when he was still very young. War changes people. You should know that more than anyone."
Steve nodded absently, memories flickering through the back of his mind.
"The things you're forced to do, the people you lose, it changes who you are and how you see the world."
Pulling out a chair, The Captain took a seat opposite Fury. "The Howard I remember was intelligent, fearless, occasionally a bit flamboyant and fast talking, but a good guy." He recalled Howard grinning in his top hat and tux, unhesitantly flying right into hostile airspace, quietly tinkering away on another of his projects, nonchalantly offering him advice on women.
"Well, he was still a good guy, but he lost a lot of that flamboyant carefree attitude as he grew older, and became a bit more calculating and short tempered. He was also driven and obsessive especially when it came to his work. Between running his own business, being a member of SHIELD, and well, searching for you, he didn't really have much time left for family."
Steve couldn't help feeling a small twinge of guilt at the part he had played. "But he was happy though, wasn't he?" he asked hopefully. "When I woke up, I was glad to see how successful he had become, that he'd had a good life."
"Success doesn't always equal happiness," Fury said bluntly. "As for whether Howard was happy, who knows. The man kept a lot of things to himself just like his son does."
Steve let out a snort. "Tony doesn't keep much to himself. He seems happy to share his point of view with the whole entire world."
"You'd be surprised. He keeps a lot of stuff hidden."
Staring at him, Steve raised an eyebrow in disbelief. "So you're saying he's got hidden depths?"
"I'm saying there's a lot more to him than the asshole act he puts on, but you were right before when you said he has no limits. He loves to test boundaries and push buttons."
"Then how on earth do you manage to talk to him without wanting to strangle him all the time?"
"Who says I don't," Fury replied with a smirk. "But there are three things I like to keep in mind when dealing with Tony Stark that you might find useful."
"I'd appreciate any help I can get," Steve admitted truthfully. He was getting very tired of having his buttons pushed, but he knew he needed to learn how to deal with it if he wanted the Avengers to truly be a team.
"One," began Fury, "Tony really is a genius. Don't tell him I said that because he does not in any way need the boost to his ego, but it's true."
Steve chuckled. "He won't hear it from me."
"He can see a lot of things we can't, put together connections we'd never even think about. No one in the world can come close to besting his abilities in mechanics and robotics, but he's almost equally skilled in other areas of science. If he can put his mind to it, he can learn it and he can learn it quickly. His mind works on a different level chewing through several problems at once while we deal with one, and that difference has always left him very isolated."
"That still doesn't make up for his arrogance."
Fury held up a hand. "Let me finish. Two," he continued, "The man's a walking disaster. There's a whole host of mental disorders he could easily qualify for. He doesn't know his own limits any more than he does other people's. He can barely look after himself. If it wasn't for Ms. Potts, he'd end up either in hospital or locked up within a week."
The Captain frowned. "So he's got some problems."
"His problems have problems, and he'll deny all of them in a second, but he can push them to aside when he's needed."
Steve nodded. He knew what Tony was capable of.
"Finally, and most importantly," said Fury, "he is a good man. He keeps it hidden most of the time, but he wants to help. He wants to make the world a better place. He just goes about it in unusual ways. And he does care about people though he's not very good at showing it."
There was silence for a moment as Steve gazed at the cloud filled sky outside the window processing what Fury had said.
Eventually, he turned back to the Colonel. "You care about him a great deal." It wasn't a question.
Fury pursed his lips. He didn't reply to the comment, but he didn't deny it either. "When Howard died, I vowed that I would keep my eye on his son." He sighed. "I can't say I did a very good job."
Fury nodded. "As soon as he went missing, I sent out SHIELD agents to search. They found clues about who had taken him and where, but they were unable to locate him until Stark started blowing things up himself."
Steve tried to recall what the report Fury had given him had said. "He was injured by shrapnel and held by terrorists for three months. That's how he ended up with that thing in his chest and why he created Iron Man."
"There was a lot of stuff left out of the report you were given. Even I don't know all the details. Tony only gave us the bare minimum when we were finally able to debrief him. Some stuff we had to infer from what we found at the Ten Rings' hideout when we examined it after the fact. I can't tell you what was done to him, only he can tell you that, but I can tell you that he has yet to deal with what happened, and it's going to come back and bite him in the ass big time one of these days."
There was silence again for several minutes. Steve thought about Tony and the way he always swaggered into a room making himself the centre of attention. He thought about his automatic distrust of authority, his insistence on prying into things until he knew everything about everything. He recalled how protective he was of his teammates, how he ignored his own safety whenever he built things, how he'd carried that missile through that portal without a second thought, how he'd looked after they'd found out Agent Coulson was dead.
"I'll keep an eye on him for you," he said suddenly.
Fury raised an eyebrow. "That's quite a change of heart."
Steve shrugged. "He's a member of my team and I figure I owe Howard a thing or two." He smiled. Outside the clouds shifted revealing the bright blue of the sky. "Besides, it might just be worth it getting to know the hidden depths of Tony Stark."