It all started with a phone call.
Well, not really. I guess you could say it started when America was created in a universe that already contained Russia and possibly Japan. As far as history goes, that wasn't exactly Britain's best move; it invited a whole lot of hostility that has never left the American psyche. However, even in the 21st century, it wasn't exactly like they could go back and fix it. Nick Fury lamented this as he sat at his desk in an office, one of his many offices in America.
In this particular instance, it was an office in a relatively quiet location. The desk was made out of rich, dark wood, and there were only two rather than the usual six or seven weapons hidden carefully out of sight around the room.
On top of these few details, the phone was ringing.
Nick put down his coffee, leant forward and picked it up.
'Public director Nick Fury speaking.'
'The Avengers Initiative,' said a cool, confident voice coming out of the phone, 'Interesting idea, isn't it?'
Had Nick been the panicking kind, he'd almost certainly have fallen out of his chair at this point. In fact, the telephone would likely be lodged in the door to his office that sat innocuously a couple of metres in front of his desk. As it was, he'd been chosen to be the public director of SHIELD for a reason, and he wasn't about to be intimidated by a smarmy git on the telephone. Actually, why did he find the bloke so smarmy?
'Ah, Americans,' said the voice, 'so unnecessarily dramatic with your names and corporations.'
That was it. The blasted voice was British. British, of all things.
'Sir, I'm going to have to ask who you are.'
'Oh, never mind me,' said the voice, 'I was just wondering why the population of the world is so clearly misrepresented in your organisation, when the issue it is facing is quite clearly on a much more global scale.'
What the hell was this freak talking about, thought Nick as he said 'Sir, I'll ask one more time, who are you?'
The voice sighed. 'I can see we aren't going to be able to do this over the phone. Go outside, Nick Fury, there's a car waiting for you.'
The receiver clicked, and Nick was left with one of the oddest decisions he'd had to make. For him especially, that was really saying something. If there really was a car outside (and much as he loathed admitting it, this British guy really seemed confident that there was one), he'd possibly leave and risk having his organisation brought down with the information this man clearly thought he possessed. The alternative, of course, was to get into the car of a threatening stranger and hope he wasn't blown up or shot.
He carefully got up, collected one of the two hidden weapons (a rather small gun; he didn't want to appear too violent) and walked out of his office. Two flights of stairs and a revolving glass door later, he was outside the building and face-to-face with a sleek black limousine, a smartly-dressed woman holding the door open for him.
'This way, Mr Fury,' she said, smiling a decidedly fake smile at him.
She looked as though she could be taken down by a poke in the ribs with a golf club. Besides, she was deeply immersed in her Blackberry.
Not a threat, Nick decided, as he got in the car.
The door was closed behind him and the woman got in the seat next to him. The car started, and they drove in mostly awkward and slightly tense silence for a long while. Looking out of the window wasn't an option; the tinting on this car had to be illegally dark, and it was impossible to see a thing out of them.
When it finally stopped, Nick didn't wait for the woman (who had introduced herself under the name of Anthea, which was clearly a pseudonym) to get out. He opened the door and strode purposefully out… into the abandoned warehouse.
Not to be shaken easily by the odd location, Nick walked right up to the solitary figure that he presumed he was meeting. The figure was leaning lightly against a black umbrella. As Nick approached, he could tell that the man was well-dressed, in his late thirties, and was extremely confident of his success in his endeavours.
Nick decided to prove him wrong.
When he was roughly two metres away from the man, he halted and glared menacingly out of his one good eye.
'Please, sit,' said the man, indicating a solitary chair sitting innocently a couple of feet to his right. By his voice, he was most certainly the man that had called him earlier.
The man pulled a small notebook out of his inner jacket pocket and began talking. 'Shrapnel to the eye, hence the eye patch. That must have been painful. Recruited to SHIELD as public director, you noticed that HYDRA had infiltrated your company and replaced many of the staff with… Deltites, you called them. After removing this threat, you started SHIELD anew, hoping it could possibly do some good under your permanent control. You saved yourself from murder by replacing yourself with a decoy android before determining that it was time to enlist a group of… heroes… to protect the earth if necessary. Mr Fury, your plans have been acceptable up until this point, so what on earth made you decide to ignore most of the planet when planning your latest venture?' He closed his notebook and put it away, staring at Nick in a way that simultaneously made him want to hide and fight.
Instead, he was staring at the man with a look of absolute horror. There was no way those details were known to the general public, the government, or in fact the CIA or any secret association other than his own. And if Nick Fury knew one thing, it was that there weren't any bloody British people in SHIELD.
'How the hell did you find all that out?' he asked, thankfully sounding angry instead of the rather more accurate dumbfounded.
The man smiled.
'Nicholas Joseph Fury, my name is Mycroft Holmes, and for the good of the Earth, we need to talk.'