It was the first time he'd met someone he'd known all his life, in a crowded square in Stuttgart, the air so thick with fear and ozone that not even the suit could filter it all out. Tony couldn't remember a time when he hadn't known Captain America's name. If you were a kid in the US in the Seventies, Cap was as ubiquitous as the Tooth Fairy or Santa Claus, an invisible and benign presence whom your mom called on to help vanquish the monsters that lived in your closet or lurked under your bed. Tony had been given one of the replica shields for his fifth birthday. Sized down for childish hands, it was perfect for fighting bad guys up and down the stairs of the mansion, at least until his dad came out and yelled at him for being too noisy.
"Make a move, Reindeer Games," Tony said. In his peripheral vision, the suit showed him ambient air temperature and nearby energy sources and a tall, straight-backed man in a uniform that was not quite the one Tony had known so well as a child. Fury'd told Tony that they found him, of course—well, Tony had hacked confidential SHIELD communiqués, same difference—but there was a difference between knowing something intellectually, and having your childhood hero and your father's long-dead best friend address you as "Mr. Stark."
In retrospect, aiming every bit of weaponry the suit had at Rudolph's Revenge might have qualified as overkill, but to be fair, Tony's never claimed that he doesn't have issues.
No one seemed to want to get close enough to Loki (and that name, Jesus, it was enough to give Tony flashbacks to the time he'd dropped some acid in a Minnesotan nudist colony; nineteen was such a difficult age) to handcuff him (seriously, flashbacks) so Tony hung back to provide cover while Loki was escorted up the ramp into the SHELD jet. He let the repulsors' energy flare fitfully in the palms of his hands, wary of Loki making a break for it or someone attacking from the slowly ebbing crowd, but nothing happened. Rogers positioned himself towards the rear of the jet, eyes fixed on Loki, while Tony followed them in and the ramp slowly closed.
Tony removed his helmet and yelled, "Honey, I'm home," in the general direction of the cockpit.
"Bite me, Stark," Natasha called back as the jet shuddered once and lifted off. She was warming to him, he could tell.
"So you're Howard's kid," Rogers said. He'd pushed back the cowl, and it was a shock to see that he really was still as young as Tony remembered him from archival footage and trading cards; hard to pair that youthful face with the deep, measured speech and the flat look in his eyes. Rogers had known his dad, after all; maybe that look of weary disappointment was a generational thing.
"And you're his old war buddy from back in the day," Tony said, using the tone which had been known to irritate the crap out of entire congressional sub-committees. "If you've got stories, that's fantastic, esprit de... whatever, but I've probably heard them already. Well, read them. Official biography, you know how it is."
Rogers just frowned at him—Tony supposed he'd have to take that as a win when dealing with the Great American Icon—then turned and walked to the front of the plane to ask Natasha about ETA and flight paths and all the stuff that Tony normally let Jarvis care about. Tony follow Rogers because, well, the alternative was staying with the guy who was giving Charles Manson a run for his money in the dead-eyed-psychopath-with-terrible-hair stakes, and he didn't think the small talk would be up to much.
There was silence for several minutes, until Rogers said, "I don't like it."
"What," Tony said, with what he was quite sure was laudable self-restraint. "Rock of Ages giving up so easily?"
"I don't remember it being that easy," Rogers said, and yeah, that stung—so maybe Tony'd never punched out Hitler, but helping to take down a faux-Norse alien god wasn't exactly a walk in the park, either.
For a moment, Tony was sure he smelled cigar smoke and whiskey, had a distinct memory of standing in his father's study while Howard looked at the straight As on his report card and said only that maybe next semester Tony could take an additional trig class. He took a breath, focused on the far wall of the plane. "Never meet your childhood heroes", people said, "you'll just be disappointed", and Tony should have known the commonplace for being true—he'd spent his childhood thinking that his father was his hero, after all. Look where that had got him.