Fury clicks off, sighing as the Council’s faces darken to black. His shoulders hurt. His back hurts. Hell, his phantom eye hurts. He rubs at his temples, wondering if he can still apply for that vacation time. Too late now. Always too late.
Leaving the Council room, he makes his way back to the bridge. Maria is barking out orders, hair pulled back into an efficient bun and blood still marking up half her face. He’s looking around for Coulson before he realises, feels the vintage cards in his pockets like weights. A whisper in the back of his head: the greater good, sir. It will be for the greater good. But the Avengers are dispersed now, Tony having kidnapped Bruce to be apparent best friends, Steve leaving to venture to the address Fury had calmly slipped into his folder, Natasha and Clint taking a much needed vacation, and Thor disappearing back to Asgard with his deranged brother Loki. The greater good has been accomplished. Fury slips a hand into his pocket and chips of blood on the cards fleck over his fingers.
Fury turns, catches Maria’s eyes. She looks tired; old. She continues. “Sir, he’s awake.”
“Of course he is,” he replies, not allowing the relief to show. “Does he know?”
“He’s unhappy that he missed all the fun.” Maria smiles, and even that’s exhausted. Fury tries his own hand at it. Fails.
“Brief him and give him more morphine. He deserves a vacation.”
Maria nods, steps away. Fury worries at the cards again, eye narrowed at the clouds cascading over the windows. He wonders how long their patient will sit still; there are only so many daytime dramas that he can take. Smiling, he takes out the cards, looking down at each one. They needed a push.
The bridge hums with activity, and it isn't long before there’s a crackle over the comm, and Fury clicks it on. “Sir, he’s asking for his cards. He asked me to inform you that if even one is damaged, he will not be responsible for the destruction of the bridge. He prided those on being mint condition.”
Fury laughs, lets it boom out over the bridge, and he can see one of his agents playing Galaga, see another one playing Solitaire, and others still monitoring air frequencies and delegations. They made it through the first wave. They can make it through the second.
And now, perhaps, the Avengers won’t need another push. And Coulson. Coulson can return to work and hopefully convince the others to play nice for five minutes.
“I’ll be right there.”
A voice, tired and worn and still in pain, echoes from behind Maria. “I mean it, Director. Those were to be signed. If they’re ruined, you will owe me a small fortune.”
“Welcome back, Agent.”