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Winter's Return

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The next time  Fury needed to speak with the Avengers about something – and he wouldn’t have denied that he’d been avoiding contacting them since the last time he’d…worked with their leader – he received the same near-immediate confirmation he’d always gotten and it had been a relief. Honestly, he knew they all knew, he just hadn’t been entirely sure what they’d all thought of it. He didn’t think they’d have taken it out on Rogers – he was relatively certain he’d have heard about it if that group had splintered, no matter how quiet things had been – but he wasn’t sure how they felt about him personally for initiating the second death of the man who had been Phil Coulson. Or for using Captain America to do it.

Or at least he hadn’t been sure until he arrived at the rendezvous point and found Thor waiting for him. Apparently alone, and looking a hell of a lot more like a god than he usually did, even if he was wearing civilian clothes.

In fact, for some reason he was wearing a suit. A very nice, tailored suit. Fury started to frown, stopped himself because he didn’t want the expression to be misunderstood. “Did you get a job here on Earth?”

“Of sorts,” Thor allowed. “But I am currently unoccupied. You required the assistance of the Avengers in particular, or simply assistance in general?”

That had almost certainly been a dig. Fury did his best to ignore it. “I have more information about the upcoming issue,” he said. They didn’t dare refer to Thanos any other way, not in public or even in SHIELD headquarters – and Fury had never been invited to the Avengers’ headquarters, nor had he ever been able to figure out exactly where it was or how they were all getting in and out of it without being seen. “We may have a problem coming up that I hadn’t anticipated; my superiors are…less than happy with the organization right now, and there’s been serious talk behind closed doors in Washington of disbanding us.”

“No doubt this ‘talk’ was triggered by recent events.” Thor nodded. “Captain Rogers has been concerned about that possibility; he believed the corruption must go very deep, and that repercussions of some sort were inevitable.” A very pointed look. “I asked if you required assistance; should I instead have asked if you need sanctuary?”

“Not yet.” He’d meant to say no, of course not…but it would have been a lie because Fury honestly didn’t know if he was going to have to go to ground with some of his people or not. An order to disband from Washington could very easily be followed by an inquest, and Congressional committees were not known to be understanding of the sort of work covert agents had to do to keep the country – or in SHIELD’s case, the world – safe. He decided to take the bull by the horns. “Is there a reason I’m talking to you and not Captain Rogers?”

“I am available, he is not.” Thor shrugged. “Dr. Banner was also available, but he did not believe he could converse with you without becoming angry.”

Oh, that was just fucking great. “We’re all going to have to work together…” Fury began.

“Of course,” Thor cut him off coolly. “We are allies in the coming fight, we share a common goal. That does not, however, mean we are friends. Have you any more information you need to share?”

“No,” Fury bit out. “Have you heard from our…other allies lately?”

“Nothing of import,” Thor said, shrugging again. “They ‘keep us posted’, as you say it, but they have not had any information which relates to Midgard.”

And that was even better – the Avengers were in regular contact with another set of aliens and just hadn’t felt like it was worth sharing. “I’d like to know when they contact you,” Fury said, holding back his irritation with an effort. “We might have questions…”

“If you have questions, give them to me and I will see that Heimdall hears them,” Thor cut him off again. A slight smile. “You did not think they were contacting us here, did you? It is much simpler for them to contact Asgard – and much safer as well, for all concerned.”

Well fuck. “They could contact us…”

“You have been compromised, and we have shared that information – they will not contact SHIELD directly unless the situation is dire.”

Fury almost would have said he’d just felt his blood run cold. “You told them we’d been compromised?”

“You have been – at the highest levels.” If Fury couldn't help but flinch at that, Thor ignored it. “Your organization is untrustworthy, Director Fury, and you may soon have no organization at all. At which time I believe that you and your inner circle will become much as we are, yes? Assuming you are able to escape, that is.”

And Fury got it. The Avengers were keeping all but the really necessary stuff from him…because they were afraid he’d be captured and/or compromised. Possibly by his own people, because his organization was ‘untrustworthy’. It was the way he himself would have assessed the situation, of course. That didn’t mean he had to like it. His jaw set. “I’m hoping it doesn’t come to that. But if it does, what then? What will your group do then?”

Thor shrugged. “We will reassess the situation with regards to yourself and your team, and determine from there what our relationship will be going forward – once you are all safe, of course.” He checked his watch, which Fury noticed was a high-quality three-zone Swiss expedition timepiece rather than a digital phone extension. “If there is nothing more, I need to be going.”

“I thought you said you were the one meeting with me because you were ‘available’?”

Another shrug. “I was, briefly. It was not anticipated that you would have much information to relay. Possibly that you might have a question, which would have necessitated another meeting if it were something I could not answer myself. Was there something else?”

A lesser man might have reacted badly to that implied dismissal. Fury wanted to, but didn’t. He’d said it himself not two minutes previous: They all had to work together. “How is Captain Rogers’ little ‘friend’ doing?”

“It is well,” Thor answered at once. “Some environmental adjustments were required to compensate for the poor local air quality, as it is still very young, but Dr. Richards was easily able to solve that problem.”

Which also meant Dr. Richards had gotten to study the little creature. That actually reassured Fury somewhat; having seen what the adult version was capable of, he was glad somebody outside of the Avengers was keeping an eye on the situation. He nodded. “I’m glad to hear that,” he said. “The pollution index has been pretty high lately. If I hear anything else about the current issue, I’ll contact you.”

Thor nodded. “We will be keeping an eye on the situation ourselves, in case you are not able to,” he said. “Good day to you, Director Fury.”

Fury watched him walk away until the thunder god wasn’t in view anymore, then went back to his office to think. He had completely lost control of this situation, and he needed to figure out how he could get at least some of it back. Or if he should even try.

Because much as he didn't like it and didn't want it to be that way, the Avengers were right not to put their trust in SHIELD. It was them not trusting him personally that he was really having a problem with.

A personal problem. Because in all honesty, and especially considering recent events...Fury couldn't really blame them.