Who: Nick Fury & Tony Stark What: meeting with Fury about recent developments and a senate hearing. When: Yesterday.
Tony Stark waltzed into the S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters like he owned the place. That wasn't unusual, since Tony owned a lot of places and tended to walk into the place he didn't own like he was going to buy it in ten minutes. This time, Nick Fury's name was already on the property title and Tony was there for a meeting. With everything going on, it seemed like a good time to check in before that senate hearing.
He breezed his way up to Fury's office, not bothering with flashing an I.D. card. Everyone knew who he was anyway. A fact well proven when he stopped and stared at the secretary, waiting until Fury was alerted he was there.
Once he was buzzed in, he waltzed through the office doors with nary a wave.
"Hiya, Nick," Tony said like he was an easy breezy Covergirl. He did have a lot of product in his hair, since it was actually cold and breezy outside. "Gotta minute? I'd hate if you don't and I drop an unexpected truth bomb on the senate on CSPAN. Because who doesn't like gawking at that?"
"Tony, what an unexpected pleasure in my otherwise uneventful day." Early on, the relationship with Stark had been driven by SHIELD profiles to get desired outcomes, but that wasn't necessary after the years and the mileage they had. Fury had seen Stark's congressional appearances. They were entertaining, if nothing else. "I am entirely sure that you would hate doing exactly that. You always did dislike being the center of attention."
"If you happen to be wondering, my assistant, Ms. Jacobson, is partial to peonies and asian chocolates. If you decide that you wish to apologize for being less polite to her than you are to JARVIS, you can have them delivered to her at the Bakery."
Tony stared at Fury as though his brain was filing that info for later use. He promptly sat down in a chair on the other side of the desk, wisely considering that he shouldn't try to help himself to a drink. He couldn't trust that Fury's office had a bar in it that wasn't hidden behind a false wall and boobytrapped with landmines.
"Peons and choco, got it," he said. He'd send the flowers and chocolate later via his temp assistant, since Quill was off playing Pigs in Space. "I'll have Pep powder my nose for my close up on Thursday. Look, about that whole senate hearing thing? Rhodey and I have about sixty percent of a plan. I'm going to turn the tables and ask about the Attack of the Sixty Foot Werewolf in Brooklyn. Rhodey moves through his circles in D.C. to see if there's leads afterward. And I was thinking, hey, maybe Fury wants to keep his ear to the ground too, since you have to keep that one eye on everything else. We still don't know where someone's birthing some bouncing baby super soldier monsters at, but I'm guessing it has to be nearby. Ish."
Nick let his consideration of Stark's plan play over his face. "That might be a good way to get invited to walk into a trap, but you do have a habit of breaking up traps you walk into, so that's a push. You're familiar with the basic methods of seismology?
"Not to go full nerd, but damn it, Nick...I'm an engineer not a seismologist. Give me five minutes in anyone's garage and a bucket of espresso, I can make a fully functioning earthquake warning system," Tony interjected. His smarting off wasn't going to stop Fury from finishing whatever point he was trying to get across, so he sat back in the chair with arms folded over his chest, waiting for it.
"Try not to set off so many explosions that we can't catch the echoes."
Tony stared fixedly at Nick Fury's one eye, sitting perfectly still as he let that statement set in. He understood where it would be an issue if the Senate shook their big stick and he shook a bigger stick back at them, causing more problems from all that shaking around. He opened his mouth to make a big stick joke, and abruptly closed it again to rethink using applied sarcasm to solve a delicate issue.
"Okie dokey," Tony said, lightly patting both hands on the desk as he leaned forward in the chair. "You're saying tread light on shaky ground. Don't stomp and kick up a lot of dust, so you can't see what's going on. Not my style to tiptoe, but I get the gist."
To Tony's credit, he fought off the urge to mention visual impairments, or promising not to get Fury anymore pirate themed stuff for Christmas. It was hard, but he somehow managed to refrain. He would reward himself by zipping over to the Cinco de Mayo taco truck on King and Hudson. Then it would be off to get ready for D.C., where he hoped to drum up more answers than questions.
"Steve's back," Tony blurted out, unable to stop his brain to mouth connection. It lacked a filtration system anyway. "Too bad he's not the one going to a Senate hearing, huh?"
“First, I am not saying ‘tread lightly’. I am saying ‘tread deliberately’. I look forward to the explosion you will make, but not 17 explosions where we can’t tell where the target is. If you want Colonel Rhodes and myself to learn things from your work, we need to be able to gather the data from the response.
“Second, if you would like to create an earthquake prediction system, SHIELD will contribute both a garage and a bucket.”
“Third, glad to hear it. He owes me money. Did he arrive with any information you or he would like to share about the giant monster creature problem, or for that matter any of our myriad other security problems?" Fury glanced down at the tablet/desktop in front of him and wrote the words everyone who worked for him dreaded.
Staff Meeting, Lvl:8+, 87A Thurs. In the outer office, Rita Jacobson efficiently picked up the memo from the director and sent the word out to the appropriate agents and department heads. Nobody liked it when Fury called 7AM staff meetings.
That sounded easy enough to Tony, who rolled his eyes a little as he slumped against the back of the chair.
"First, I know all about targeting systems. I got this. Second, that better be a gold bucket. Third, you can send him that memo since that's not my bad. It was on you guys to teach him about inflation. No further intel though. Now, I've got a couple other things to talk about...."
Tony scratched the side of his head, thinking about how to say it. His brain was often firing on all cylinders, so even he had to focus on filtering out the flotsam from the jestam.
"First is something me and Steve discussed," he began telling Fury, "and that's an urgent need to keep Ross off our asses. Word going around is that he's thinking over a presidential run. He's still out to round up Barnes and Loki, both pretty much reformed at this point from reasons of temporary insanity. So we've agreed to keep those two from being used for Ross' own ticker tape parade. Because imagine a world with a guy that hates Hulk."
Boo. Hiss. Tony wouldn't want to live in that world. Instead, he blurted out the world he'd want to live in, "I should run for President against him. I don't even care what ticket I'm on. I'll make up my own."
The Futurist Party didn't have a bad ring to it.
Nick considered. "It has been exactly one hundred years since a cabinet secretary became the president, but it's not out of the question. Thaddeus doesn't have a very presidential character, but that's not always apparent to the parties and the people. Worse, he's predicable and manipulable. I expect complications and difficulties in protecting the earth if we have Thad as President.
"But I'm not sure if you have considered the personal costs to you of beating him. Let's start with the first question: Are you willing to give up being Iron Man, possibly forever?"
"Nah, you know I can't do that," Tony replied. "I could be like Theodore Roosevelt. Assassination attempts would failboat. I could wear the suit to press conferences. I'd just configure it into a suit...suit."
What? It made some semblance of sense to Tony. A man that obviously thought about these things, at utterly random moments. It was to Fury's ongoing misfortune that he had to show up and dispense wisdom after one of Tony's great ideas went wrong, or got to hear about them before they happened. Like right now.
Fury had a point about Ross not being President, but things hadn't worked in their favor here exactly either.
Speaking of which, Tony straightened up and blew off that idea, "I'll have a rethink on that. In other news, I was hoping you'd make sure that my daughter doesn't end up in the line of fire. Not the kindergartener. The older smartassy one that's working here as an assistant or whatever. Darcy. Because that's a thing."
Nick decided that Tony needed the drink he hadn't offered him earlier. He poured a glass of whiskey for Tony from his top desk bottle. "Top Drawer…" he said as he offered it. Tony would need something to do with his hands if he was going to listen, and Nick had a lot to say. "I didn't say you couldn't have the suit. I said you couldn't be Iron Man. If you or the Avengers went into action anywhere in the world, it would be taken as an act of war by the US, in contravention of international law and most likely also the Constitution, because you're not going to ask Congress to declare war.
"Congress is going to remember all those hearings where you made them look like assholes. They are assholes, and they know it, but they don't like looking like assholes. And they have an excellent memory for slights. So it would matter who was your Vice President, because you're likely to commit impeachable offenses, perhaps on your first day in office, and you might not be able to survive politically."
"And it's not that you'll be wrong about how you commit them, but because it couldn't be done by following the rules, and the rules allow your enemies payback if you break them in certain ways. You've already got enemies in Government and you haven't even announced your campaign."
"Until they stab you in the back, you'll have to live with those 538 assholes. It's one thing to run against Congress. It's another to win and then have to govern. You can't fire them. You can't delegate being President to Pepper Potts. Frankly she'd be a stronger candidate than you would."
"You'd do better to let Ross commit to a run and then provoke him into doing something that makes him unelectable. It's what he'll try to do to you." That much was in Ross's SHIELD dossier, at least. He wasn't going to play nice with anyone.
"And finally, Ms. Lewis is more likely to be poached by S.W.O.R.D. than ask me for agent training. But if she did, she'd be considered like any other extraordinary person. I no longer have an academy to train agents. Perhaps you should hire her to work on your campaign or to do harm to Ross's."
Tony not only accepted that whiskey, but was taking big drinks to keep up as Nick Fury burned down his pop up store version of Presidential hopes and dreams and began stomping on the ashes.
The man had a point, after having to deal with a lot more than 538 assholes in Congress. Tony normally got disgruntled when other people facerolled over his opinions, but he was often at a disadvantage where Nick motherfucking Fury was concerned, because it was Nick motherfucking Fury, and his secrets had secrets. Tony knew that from hacking into some of them...even if no one called it hacking anymore. It was now information retrieval for all he knew. Except for whoever it was that left enough of a backdoor into the eScape game to hijack them and fifty contest winners, leaving behind a big mess and a senate hearing. Ugh.
"...sonnuvabitch," Tony breathed out after listening to all of that. He downed the last swig of whiskey as swiftly as possible. "I bet you're fun at parties. Is this why you don't show up to a lot of them? Or when you do, you stand around in shadowy corners, silently judging everyone."
In Tony's mind, the answer to that was a very obvious yes, but it was sometimes nice hearing that his thoughts were validated from a third party outside source.
Nick took a sip of his own glass. It wasn't whiskey, but unless Tony was doing chemical analysis it could pass for it. "My job is to take the most audacious plans from the top intelligence operatives in the business to deal with the worst threats to the planet and find the weaknesses and risks, so that we can still have the best intelligence operatives tomorrow. That analysis was a favor in response to the friendly advance warning about your testimony."
Time to wrap this up, before Stark had any more plans he wanted to vett. "We'll watch our own channels for reactions to your testimony. And we'll keep an eye out for Colonel Rhodes as well, in case his inquiries put him in danger."
Nick laid down the spy law, and Tony knew when it was good to get out while the getting was good. He placed the emptied glass down on Fury's desk without knocking anything over and stood up, giving the other man a firm nod.
"Fair 'nuff and I'd appreciate it," Tony said, at least feeling secure that Fury had his eye on everything. Even if spinning around in place to see it all was still likely very exhausting, by his own standards. He was worried about Rhodey going into the D.C. viper pit, where all it would take was one false move to get bitten. "I expect them to pull a Senator Stern, bang the gavel, and try to end the hearing early."
Which would be a big tip off anyway, considering how it later came out that Stern was in league with HYDRA.
Fury stood as well, but didn't offer Tony his hand. He'd save that for when they'd accomplished something. "I'm sure it will go swimmingly, but we'll keep an eye out for you as well."
"I'll touch base with you after I jet home, kay?" Tony added after nearly doing a double take at the eye comment, walking toward the exit he was pointing at. Heading that way. Just in case it wasn't obvious. "Won't forget to send your secretary some peonies and matcha truffles too."
It was included in the annual Breezing Past Angry Secretaries budget.