"Iron Man is quite the character."
General Nick Fury saw Howard Stark turn toward the sound of his voice and nod his head. Howard was about to be on his way home while Fury had just returned with Agent Maria Hill from escorting General Ross to the stockade. He wasn't quite sure what to think of his former weapons supplier. He knew that Howard was an honorable man and a devoted father. Fury could think of three options of why Howard had demanded to know where his son had gone earlier. One was that the father honestly didn't know about his son's vigilantism and was worried about him after General Ross attacked the area. Another was that Howard knew about it all and thought he was protecting his son's secret from SHIELD. The final option- the one Fury found to be the most probable- was that Howard knew about Tony and he knew that SHIELD knew. It was probable that Howard had been testing Fury to see if he would betray Tony's secret. It was a test Fury wanted to make sure to pass.
Now, with the Hulk under control and General Ross out the way, he wanted to make sure that Howard and he had an understanding. Fury had a deep respect for Howard, and he didn't want there to be any misunderstandings when it came to the subject of Iron Man.
"You know, Iron Man isn't the first vigilante in the world. Iron Man certainly won't be the last," Fury continued. "There's a pattern to these 'super' beings and where they stand in the world."
Howard nodded again. "History has shown us that much. But most who call themselves heroes are good people. They tend to be on the reckless side, but they're good people. They mean the best," the father wasn't looking at him now. Instead his gaze was where Iron Man and War Machine had attempted to calm their green adversary.
"They're law breakers though. They may think they fight for the law, but they act outside of the law." Fury waited for a few moments after his statement, carefully observing how Howard reacted. The other man was surprisingly calm. He stiffened at first, but quickly recovered and turned back to face the General.
"Then why haven't you arrested him yet?" he challenged. "Surely with your teams and technology, SHIELD can figure out a way to bring even Iron Man to 'justice'. You know what I think, Nick? I think you have a soft spot for heroes."
"And you don't? If I remember correctly you're quite the Captain America fan."
Howard chuckled a little. "I still have my trading card collection somewhere actually. And Tony told me you had found him still alive…! But never mind that. Back to Iron Man. He's reckless, I know. But he's doing good. There may be a lot that I question or disagree with, but I cannot deny that Iron Man changes and saves lives. What more can we ask for of a hero?"
"I'm afraid I can ask for more." Fury watched as Howard narrowed his brows, blue eyes piercing through. "Our world is changing. There are new threats showing up that I don't know if humankind is ready to face. While I might eventually come to enjoy knowing many of the vigilantes, there is a whole other reason why I let them be. We need them. We need them to fight the battles we never could. I am planning for a team of extraordinary individuals called the Avengers. SHIELD must find a way to awaken the Captain so that he can lead the charge once again. As for Iron Man, when I see that he's ready, I want him fighting by the Captain's side."
"You want to turn him into a soldier," Howard's face had paled and his voice was stiff.
Fury made sure that he was looking right at Howard as he replied. "Iron Man is already a soldier in his own way, Howard."
The father looked away. General Fury's gaze still looked right at him. "A lot has changed in the two years that you've been gone."
"And it is not your fault. People make their own decisions."
"Do you, Howard?"
"Yes," Howard answered slowly. "The logical part of me knows that the choices Iron Man has made have been his own. They will continue to be his own."
"Good, because if he wasn't needed, Shell Head would be in a jail cell for vigilantism. Not to mention all the collateral damage that he causes to the city in his fights." Fury laid all the facts out there in the open. The man had to hear it from someone. He had to hear the consequences that came from his son's decisions. "And to be blunt, he's still under close watch because he still poses as a possible threat. Anybody with armor full of weaponry is."
"And if Iron Man ever is a threat I'm assuming that it's SHIELD's job to bring him in," Howard stated, meeting the General's gaze once again, a determined expression in his eyes. Fury agreed, "Yes. Yes it is." Fury had seen that determined look in a similar pair of blue eyes before. Father like son he supposed.
"I understand. But I want it understood that if it were ever to come to that, Stark International will not be providing any aid. I will not help-"
"Understood." Indeed Fury did understand. No matter what, Tony was Howard's son. And Tony was Iron Man. Tony was all the man still truly had of his family. The death of his wife had scarred Howard. His son's downfall and destruction, especially if he helped it in anyway, would destroy him.
"But I'm counting on that not to happen." Fury continued. "Iron Man is still a vigilante and a possible threat, but already he has shown that he has the character and reputation of a hero. This world needs its heroes."
"And Iron Man will be there when it does." There was pride in those blue eyes now, fierce and bold. "You can count on that, Nick. Now if you don't mind, I have a son and his friend to check on."
"Just as long as we understand each other."
"I think we do." Getting up, Howard reached out his hand. "Have good day General Fury."
"You too, Mr. Stark." Fury took the man's hand and gave it a firm shake. As Howard Stark walked away Fury added under his breath, "And I wish you and Tony the best of luck. Something tells me you both are going to need it."
AN: This is just an idea I have had ever since I've finished watching IMAA. Not sure how well I got the characters down, but I just find Howard's portrayal in the series interesting. I imagine he would have some very interesting conversations about Iron Man with people. This particular one takes place towards the end of The Rage of the Hulk. And yes, I did indeed use a couple of Fury's lines (or something similar) from The Avengers (just in case anyone recognized them).