“This is not a good idea,” Natasha said immediately, Clint and Steve nodding along with her. “Clint and I are much better trained, and Tony is too recognizable.”
“I understand that,” Fury said with a sigh. “But this mission needs Stark’s expertise. We’re just going to have to hope he can keep his mouth shut for once.” He shot a one-eyed glare in the billionaire’s direction, who in turn shrugged.
“I’m up for it. Don’t worry about it, it’ll be easy.” He shot a smile around at his anxious teammates, which only seemed to worry them more.
The mission itself was easy enough. Infiltrate a party, get some blue prints, erase some data, destroy some technology. Easy, he did that after Obie often enough, although to be fair he was doing it to his own company, so it didn’t have to go quite so unnoticed.
The others didn’t seem to have much faith in him, but that was fine. People underestimating him was just the way he liked the world. Fury dismissed them and Tony went back to the tower to prepare. Nice suit, but cheap by his standards. Slicked back hair in contrast to his usual unruly curls. Repulsor watch – no way he was going in unarmed, he wasn’t stupid. He stared at himself in the mirror. Still too recognizable. Sighing, he resigned himself to the fact that he would have to do it: he was going to have to shave his glorious goatee.
The mission went smoothly, despite many people who had personally met Tony Stark being in attendance at the party. No one gave him a second glance; some people thought he was a waiter, and Tony cursed himself for wearing a suit that was too cheap. He was in and out in two hours, everything completely under control. He was just strolling out of the building when he heard someone shouting about destroyed prototypes and smiled to himself, whistling.
Apparently his ‘disguise’ worked too well, because when he got back to SHIELD headquarters he had about four guns pointed at his head and several very angry agents glaring at him and asking just who the fuck he was and what he thought he was doing.
“Uh, Tony here guys. Finished the mission, saved the day?” he answered as he held his hands up in surrender, trying to placate them. They didn’t believe him.
He was unceremoniously (“HEY, genius over here, check your strength!”) thrown into an interrogation room, where he sighed and pulled the drive he had obtained for Fury out of his pocket, setting it on the table. Hill entered about fifteen minutes later, which was good because he was getting bored and contemplating messing with the monitoring system in the room, and he shot her a big smile.
“Agent Hill! So good to see you. You proud of me yet? I know you didn’t believe I could pull it off.” He smirked, but his face fell at her cold and blank stare.
“I don’t know you,” she responded in monotone. “I don’t know what you’re pulling, pretending to be Stark-”
“I’m not pulling anything!” he protested quickly, holding his hands up again and standing, like he was waiting to be attacked. “I am Stark! Listen, call Pepper, show her a picture, she’ll tell you. Jesus, all I did was shave!” Hill glared at him and he fell silent again, anxiously reminding himself that if he stepped back it would be a sign of weakness and women loved signs of weakness. She turned on her heel and walked out without another word, and he fell back into his seat. He felt exhausted. The mission hadn’t been hard, but had taken longer than he thought it would, and he wanted to go home and work.
It took another hour before someone entered the room again, and by that point he was standing on the chair in the corner of the room, dissecting the camera that was watching him with the small screwdriver he had in his pocket and ingenuity. He glanced over his shoulder as Pepper strode in, lighting up and jumping down from the chair quickly, noting Hill and Fury standing behind her.
“Pep, my love, the spice of my life!” he said dramatically, throwing his arms wide. “Tell the Pirate that he should be able to recognize his agents better.”
“That’s Tony,” Pepper said with a long-suffering sigh, ignoring him. “He looks like a child without his facial hair, but it’s him. I didn’t believe it either the first time I saw him, until Obie-” She cut herself off quickly and shot him an apologetic look, but he just shrugged, clapping a hand on Fury and Hill’s shoulders.
“Now that that’s sorted, can we debrief and go home?”
Apologies were made, but Tony waved them away. It wasn’t the first time this had happened, and probably wouldn’t be the last. Even the paparazzi didn’t recognize him without his distinctive and awesome goatee getup, which was nice sometimes.
It was a couple months and a few missions later when it happened again. Fury and Hill were out on their own recon mission, Pepper was in Tokyo and couldn’t be reached, and Rhodey was out on deployment for the next few weeks and no help anyway (he would probably just find it hilarious and leave Tony in the lurch). It didn’t matter how many times Tony showed up from completed missions missing his glorious goatee, the agents of SHIELD apparently had terrible facial recognition because he was always detained and interrogated.
It had been hours and lots of yelling before Tony finally got fed up. “You people are insufferable!” he shouted, grabbing a Sharpie from the agent’s pocket and turning to the one-way mirror on the wall, scribbling on his face in a rough approximation of something that looked like his normal goatee. “There! Recognize me now?”
Clint found it absolutely hilarious. There were photos.
Somehow a picture of Tony with Sharpie stains and a wide grin got leaked to the media, and the rage was now “Tony Stark look-alike?!” which Tony found absolutely hysterical.
He managed to convince half of SHIELD that it really was just a look-alike, while the other half remained sceptical. Suddenly, whenever he stepped into headquarters he had ghosts trailing him with razors (and not very good ghosts, either, Fury should get Natasha and Clint up here for some lessons). Bruce found it very amusing to help him prank said ghost, which one time included locking them in the bathroom and filling said bathroom with bubbles. And whenever Tony did show up from a mission where he’d shaved, he was met with a multitude of stares. Fury even got in on the action and started calling him ‘Agent Carbonell,’ which was funny in its own way.
And if he managed to trick Steve as well a couple times, well, that was a whole different story.