What Howard Stark Built

Title: What Howard Stark Built
Author: Keira Marcos
Fandom: MCU
Genre: Canon Divergence
Warnings: No Beta
Rating: PG-13 for language and themes
Word Count: 2,306 (complete)
Author Note: Jilly and I are exploring using the same specific prompt to write stories in preparation for November RT where we’re going to do it on a novel-scale. You can find that prompt here on the RT Forum.
Jilly’s Response: Perspective (link to her site)
Ladyholder’s Response: Advice (link to her site)
The Prompt: “Tony Stark decided to give talking Steve Rogers out of going to SHIELD just one more try.”

Art by Polaris

– – – –

“This was Howard’s house?”

“Yeah,” Tony said as he settled down on the sofa in front of Rogers. “Thanks for coming. I was worried you’d blow me off and disappear into the wilds of America on that bike.”

“I’d like to disappear,” Steve admitted roughly.

“I wouldn’t mind it,” Tony murmured and shifted in his chair. His suit had done a lot to control his physical damage, but he felt old, sore, and misused. “But my city is in shambles, and I’ve got a lot of work to do to get her back on her feet.”

“Like rebuilding?” Steve questioned.

“I have people on it from SI,” Tony said. “Pepper is already putting together an international effort to clean up, and there are teams on the ground still doing search and rescue.”

“Search and rescue,” Steve said faintly.

Tony looked up and found him pale. “Yeah, there was little to no time to evacuate. There are a lot of people missing. I’d be down there myself, but I think at this point I’d be more distraction than help. I’ve tasked Jarvis with building a bigger, stronger suit so I can do some debris removal tomorrow. All three of my planes are in use bringing in teams from around the world who specialize in searching for people in natural disasters like earthquakes and the lot.”

“I didn’t consider that. Fury said…” Steve trailed off. “He said to lay low.”

“Because that’s what SHIELD does,” Tony said evenly. “They work in the shadows and Fury doesn’t like to answer to anyone or anything. He’s going to ignore the fact that the World Security Council shot a nuclear weapon at New York, Steve. Pepper has already started a class action lawsuit on behalf of the entire city on that issue. Moreover, SHIELD didn’t notify the Department of Defense of an imminent invasion by aliens. They should’ve been in the loop as soon as Loki stepped through that portal, but they weren’t. That’s why we didn’t have military support on the ground, and we should’ve.”

Steve slouched back in the chair and rubbed his face. “Tell me something.”

“If I can.”

“Have you read the file SHIELD has on you?”

“Cover to cover—they made sure I knew they had one and stealing it was a walk in the park. It’s all true, sort of. I have spent most of my adult life as a war profiteer because, in the end, I’m the man my father raised. I have, in the past, drank too much because that’s my preferred method of self-medication. The file sort of glanced over the whole terrorist kidnapping thing and the torture,” Tony said. “Or the fact that I essentially rescued myself when practically everyone else had given me up for dead because my former business partner set me up to be kidnapped and murdered so he could take over my company.”

Steve blew out a surprised breath. “Yeah, that…was less than clear in the file. I asked Natasha some questions about it, but she was pretty dismissive. She said you weren’t a fit for the Avengers, but that makes no sense, Tony, when they were clearly building the whole idea of a team around you.” He looked around the room. “Where’s Bruce?”

“Downstairs in the lab working on his issues,” Tony said and waved a hand. “Reed Richards reached out this morning and offered to help him research the Hulk situation. Speaking of Richard, Fury didn’t bother to contact the Fantastic Four either—if he’d put them on standby when Loki appeared then they would’ve been in New York when the invasion happened instead of being in South America on vacation. Richards is furious, and he’s already filed a complaint with the UN Security Council regarding the nuclear situation. Plus then there’s the X-Men situation.”

“X-Men? Fantastic Four? Who are these people?”

“We aren’t the hero game in town, Rogers,” Tony said wryly. “The Fantastic Four were created in a scientific experiment gone wrong. They’re a talented group of courageous people who could’ve helped us save a lot of lives during the invasion. The X-Men are mutants, and they’re lead by Charles Xavier. They would’ve been very handy during the invasion as well, but Fury doesn’t play well with others.”

Steve nodded and stood. He walked to stand by a window. “What else?”

“Pardon?” Tony questioned.

“Fury’s leading me down a path, Stark, and I want to know what you see of it.” Steve turned to face him. “I owe you that.”

“You don’t owe me anything,” Tony said.

“I’ll never get the sight of you falling out of that portal out of my head,” Steve said evenly. “I owe you. Everyone in New York who survived the invasion owes you their lives. Clearly, SHIELD would like to ignore that, but I’m not going to. I need someone to trust—I think that person is going to be you.”

Tony made a face. “That’s a bad call. I mean that’s worse than when you tried to tell Thor to put his hammer down.”

Steve snorted and ran a hand through his hair. “Got a room for me in this big ridiculous house?”

“Yep, you can park your bike in the garage and we’ll…”

“We’ll figure out how to be a team,” Steve said. “You said something about Richards working with the UN? Well, if the Avengers are going to exist, then we need to step away from SHIELD and stand on our own—no shadows.”

“No shadows,” Tony said. “I don’t do shadows.”

Steve smiled then. “I sort of figured that out actually—when I watched that press conference where you immediately outed yourself as Iron Man. I thought it was ego at first, but now I know it’s just because you did something great and you wanted to share it with the world. Your dad was like that when he was young. I figure you don’t want to hear much about that. Fury told me that you and your old man didn’t get along.”

“Howard was too busy making money to be a father,” Tony said. “But I stopped resenting him.” He tapped his arc reactor. “In the end, he came through for me when no one else could. I’ll explain that later when we aren’t both exhausted in ten different ways. We need some sleep.”

“Yeah,” Steve agreed and looked out the window. “And tomorrow, we’ll start rebuilding what we broke.”

Tony nodded and cleared his throat. “Are you sure?”

“Hell no.” Steve sighed. “I haven’t been sure of much of anything since I woke up. But you’re honest—to an insulting degree—and I need that more than I need anything else. Fury lies for a living, and his people are no better. I’m not as naïve as they want to be. He would say he didn’t have to bring together any of those people you mentioned or contact the DOD, but he had the time to hunt down Bruce Banner. He had the time to mobilize both of us to hunt for Loki. They knew about Thor and Coulson certainly knew about his abilities, yet neither of us was briefed on him. He could’ve been a threat. He could’ve killed us both. Then there is the whole thing with Coulson.”

“His death?”

“The fact that he’s not dead,” Steve said evenly. “My hearing is a little better than average, Tony. I overheard Hill and Fury discussing some experiment and Coulson’s survival. They’ve done something pretty messed up actually that neither Romanoff or Barton were told about. In fact, Fury ordered Hill to make sure neither of them heard a word about the whole thing. I considered telling them what I’d heard, but when I went in search of them, I heard them talking about Loki. Apparently, Romanoff thinks Loki was being controlled by the scepter, like Barton, was and she didn’t tell Thor. I just decided to keep my mouth shut and my ears open.”

“Son of a bitch,” Tony said darkly. “Seriously?”

“Barton said he didn’t give a fuck if Loki was being controlled by the scepter because of what was done to him personally which I tried to understand but if Loki is being manipulated, too, then…” Steve shook his head and cleared his throat. “I didn’t get a chance to speak to Thor—they made sure that neither he nor Loki was alone the whole time they were at SHIELD. I should’ve said something to him anyway.”

“But you worried they’d start to consider you a security threat,” Tony said quietly. “I get it. Heard anything else?”

“Lots but I have no context.”

Tony nodded. “Jarvis, get Jane Foster on the line and tell her that I need to speak to Thor as soon as possible. He’ll visit her soon, I’m sure of it. Also, figure out where SHIELD is keeping the scepter. Thor is going to want it, and I want to have an answer for Point Break when he asks.”

“Yes, Sir.”

Tony focused on Rogers and found him sort of staring at the ceiling. “Jarvis is an artificial intelligence program that runs things around here. He runs the tower, too.”

“Why aren’t you in the tower?”

“Beyond the damage done to the area where I lived,” Tony began, “I’ve turned Stark Tower into a shelter for those who lost their homes due to the invasion. My people have been working pretty much non-stop since early this morning pulling out office furniture and setting up places for people to sleep. Many lost their jobs because the places they work were outright destroyed. I’ve been hiring them to work on the tower—to get it livable.”

Steve stared at him for a long moment. “That’s…I feel like SHIELD really misled me about you, Tony.”

“I’m an asshole,” Tony assured. “And I’m prone to giving the finger to authority figures. I’d just as soon as start a fight than have a civilized conversation with practically anyone I know.”

Steve snorted. “We might be soulmates.”

“You’re much too pretty,” Tony declared. “My ego can’t handle that kind of competition in the bedroom.”

“And you’ve got a girlfriend?” Steve questioned.

“Pepper? She loves Tony Stark, but she can’t stand Iron Man and as much as we both wish it was different—I’m one and the same, so we’ve called it quits. It sucks, but I’d rather keep my friend than have a truly bitter ex-girlfriend running my company.” He walked to stand beside Rogers and focused on the street in front of the house. “My neighbors were hoping I’d sell this place. They’re gonna have kittens when they realize I’m going to turn it into our headquarters.”

“I like kittens,” Steve said. “We should get a cat.”

“What if Hulk squishes it?” Tony asked.

“The Big Guy loves cats,” Bruce said from behind them. “What are you two doing?”

“Contemplating the future while staring at traffic,” Tony announced.

Bruce joined them. “You staying, Steve?”

“Yeah.”

“And SHIELD?”

“I’m pretty sure the next time I see Nick Fury I’m going to punch him in the face,” Steve said. “I hate liars almost as much as I hate Nazis.”

“Well, SHIELD is full of those.”

“Nazis or liars?” Tony joked and blinked when Bruce just shrugged. “Bruce?”

“You hear a lot of things when you try to stay out of the way,” Bruce murmured. “Rumors and fact often blend together and start to sound like myths. Underground networks exist all over the world, and some of them are so well-funded that it is hard to comprehend. I’ve been talking with Richards. He’s been trying to reach out to me for years, but someone kept blocking him. Did you know that?”

“He said as much,” Tony admitted. “He’s really sincere about wanting to help you merge with the Hulk.”

“I know,” Bruce agreed and cleared his throat. “The thing is that he was approached by Hank Pym about four years ago and he nearly went to work with him.”

“Hank Pym is good people.”

“Yeah, his company got taken over. Did you know that?”

“I didn’t,” Tony said with a frown. “Maybe I’ll offer him a job. What did Richards say about it?”

“He said that the guy, Darren Cross, who took over Pym’s company is working with SHIELD agents, but when I brought it up to Fury he seemed very perturbed by the news.”

“Unofficial operation then,” Steve said. “And if they have one…”

“They have dozens,” Tony said grimly. “A shadow organization in SHIELD outside of Fury’s control?”

“Sounds familiar,” Steve said quietly. “That’s how HYDRA operated—inside the Nazis. They used their resources and power to spread their influence and message.”

“Son of a bitch,” Tony muttered. “Jarvis, start looking through Howard’s archived records for SHIELD for anything that might speak to this shadow organization and launch some feelers on the web. Start looking for them.”

“Looking for who, Sir?”

“HYDRA,” Steve supplied. “We’re looking for HYDRA, Jarvis.”

Bruce sighed and rubbed the back of his neck. “Well, fuck.”

Tony snorted, and Steve sighed.

“Come on, it’s like Mr. Rogers cursing. It just…” He trailed off when Steve looked at him in confusion. “Oh, God, you don’t know who Mr. Rogers is.” He snagged Steve’s hand. “Jarvis, order food! We’re watching Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood right now!”

Bruce followed along. “The Big Guy loves Mr. Rogers.”

The End

Note: You can answer this prompt if you’d like (and link the forum) and but you do not have permission to continue my work on this prompt. Note, you can also get a copy of the blank banner to use for your own art.

Keira Marcos

In my spare time, I write fanfiction and lead a cult of cock worshippers on Facebook. It's not the usual kind of hobby for a 40ish "domestic engineer" but we live in a modern world and I like fucking with people's expectations.

29 Comments:

  1. Seriously, I adore you so damn much. Thank you for that.
    ~L

  2. Steve going to Tony for help… I never knew how much I needed that in my life. It really, really needs to be a thing. I demand that fandom make this a trope.

  3. It’s 3 AM, I would be squeaking out loud in reaction to how awesome this is, but I can’t. So, you’ll have to take as due the hand-flapping and enormous grin. Go, Avengers!

  4. Loved this. Generally speaking, canon!Steve either needs a boot up his a$$ for his stubborn and ignorant belief that he is right, or he realizes that he needs to learn more about the time and situation he finds himself in. I do love a more aware and eyes open Steve that questions and doesn’t automatically assume. Sweet. This is very nicely done. I am most definitely not opposed to a Tony/Steve pairing, either. 😉

    Thanks so much!

  5. I have a really hard time with Steve for a bunch of reasons, but this was just so fucking lovely and hopeful.

  6. Oh, how I wish this were MCU canon. That you for this. I’ve become so jaded, so cynical about Steven Grant Rogers since CA:WS, Avengers, IM3 & CA:CW. IW made me cringe just in the trailers, in theatre I was seriously nauseous over the carp they were shoving down the audience’s throat. I would have adored a Rogers who managed to pull his head out of his ass and had some inkling about the century and the world he woke up to. Thank you for this gem.

  7. Thank you, thank you, thank you. This is what I wished for, when the movies began to head inevitably towards the Civil War story-line. It makes me so sad and I hate hating Captain America… so this is like a breath of fresh air. You rock, my dear!! xxx

  8. you make me like steve again. thank you.

  9. I love this story. I’ve had a real problem with MCU Steve, I just find him such a hypocrite. If only the let you write him. Lol. Great job as always!

  10. This is what canon should have been. Thank you for sharing your awesomeness.

  11. I love you so much right now. Steve actually NOT being oblivious. Bruce being his awesome self. And Tony, hurt in so many ways, but helping his city and the world and being there for Steve.
    And Mr. Rogers Neighborhood. My heart is so full I can’t stand it.
    Thank you.

  12. I love how you and Jilly are using the same prompt but your characterizations of Steve are almost opposite, with you taking the post-Avengers Assemble fanon Steve, rather than the later canon characterization of him as Jilly did. It is awesome. I love that Steve as mostly seen in the fics written after Avengers but before Winter Soldier or Civil War. This was so awesome. Thanks so much!

  13. This was great – I can see Steve punching Fury out, sigh, that brings a smile to my face. Thank you so much for sharing this, M’Lady. Always a pleasure to read your works. Hugs, Hxx

  14. greywolfthewanderer

    aw, fuck yeah!!

    I can always count on you, m’lady, to kick canon in the gronk-nauks and fix it to where it ought to be. gracias!

  15. I wish this had happened.

  16. This is great

  17. Loved this story. Steve was so clueless about the modern world and SHIELD kept him that way. All the knew is that he was fighting ‘the bad guys’ with no idea who they were.

  18. I would LOVE to see Steve punch Fury! And community-minded Tony is brilliant. I like the plots within plots as well.

  19. This would be such a game changer… I loved it.

  20. Awesomesauce is what this is made out of. Yay for Steve using that thing between his ears!

  21. I love kittens AND the Big Guy, too. I also love Tony, and damn, but you made me like Steve, as well. You magician, you! It was really well done as I could see Steve reacting to this exactly that way and Tony could only be that calm, serious, and non-snarky because he’d just saved the planet and was tired. Thanks for this.

  22. see now that’s the way Steve should have been

  23. OMG I love this so much!

  24. This was gorgeous. I am always impressed by how much you can put into a short story, the depth you can give to your characters is wonderful.
    I am loving this multi-responder challenge you are doing. It is fascinating to see how each of you answers it, in your own wonderful ways. Thanks for the story.

  25. Always great to see Steve Rogers actually think. Thanks for sharing!

  26. I love Mr. Rogers. He was a gift to children in the U.S. They have Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood now but it’s just not the same.

  27. Brilliant. Simple brilliant!

  28. Oh, I vastly prefer this to canon. Hulk and Steve as kitten fanciers, Tony’s plans for S&R, Steve turning to Tony for the real scoop, and the three of them (and JARVIS) cottoning on to HYDRA from the start.

    Thank you for this!

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