For the second time in as many months, Dave found himself on a slightly sticky bench at They China Food, waiting for a meeting. Granted, last time a pack of suits in an unmarked black van hadn't come to pick him up, so this was slightly different.
The door opened, and a man strode in; he was all in black, neck to toes, his long leather jacket swirling around his ankles. He didn't exactly look like what Dave expected given all the neatly-dressed people who had politely kidnapped him, but he did look like he was decidedly ready to start some shit.
"Mister Wong," the man said, sliding into the booth across from him. "I'm not going to ask why a white kid is named Wong. I already know your real name."
"This sounds a little weird, but I need you to describe to me what you look like," Dave said. "I'm potentially going to save us both a lot of time."
"I am a large one-eyed black man," he answered calmly, as if he saw nothing wrong with the question at all. "If I am scowling, it should not be taken as a personal insult."
"Okay," Dave said. He could feel the sweat starting to creep down his neck, and he fiddled with the canister in his pocket. "Okay. Now I need to know why I'm here."
"A friend of an associate of a consultant I am forced to tolerate on a semi-regular basis led me to you," he said. "My consultant does not believe in the validity of Doctor Marconi's work. I believe in any port in a storm."
"I have seen some weird shit," Dave said. "If you're not ready to believe most of what I tell you, then this is a waste of my time."
He put his elbows on the table, leaning in. "I specialize in people who have seen weird shit. Aliens. Portals to other worlds. We have seen some things that would make your worst nightmare look like a Mickey Mouse cartoon."
"I once saw my girlfriend's psychic dog blow up a giant knowledge-eating monster from another dimension," Dave told him.
He sat back. "That is information I can put to use."
"What do you do when you find a portal to another world?" Dave asked.
"We make an attempt to determine whether whatever's on the other side speaks English and whether it is friendly," he said. "If it does not or is not, we blow it up."
Something was very comforting about this guy's worldview. "What do I call you?"
"Nick Fury," he said. "I am the director of a special task force that deals with unstable people and dangerous things."
"Do you want me, or do you want the soy sauce?" Dave asked. If this guy knew this much about him already, he knew about the sauce; Dave could sense it on him. "Because one of them is an unstable person and the other is a dangerous thing."
"I'll take both, if I can get them," Fury said. "I collect useful people, Mister Wong. Keep them in my back pocket. Call it a habit. When they come with strange things, I tend to want the package deal."
Dave set the canister down on the table. "It's in here," he said. "Or it will be in here. It's complicated." He looked at it longingly; it had been a day and a half, and he could just as easily take it, make Fury wait until there was more.
He carefully took his fingers away from it before he could rethink it.
"Keep it as cold as you can," Dave warned him. "But don't use dry ice. It ended badly." He didn't add that it was probably just because John knew way less about dry ice than he said he did. "It needs to be examined as closely as it can be. Electron microscopes, top scientists, but tell them to be very careful."
Fury pocketed the canister. "We are not going to put our top scientist on it," he told him. "We don't know what would happen if our top scientist ended up ingesting what you're on. We do know that it would end in a lot of green and possibly the end of the world. But our other scientists will be working on it."
"There's something I have to say to you before I agree or not," Dave said, sitting forward.
Fury waved a hand, motioning him to bring it on. "I'd expect you to have a couple of things to say, Mister Wong."
"I have a longer version of this, but I feel like you appreciate brevity," Dave said. "You kill a man with your axe, and in doing so, you break the handle, so you replace it. Then in another fight, you chip the head, so you replace that too. The man comes back to life, and when he sees the axe in your hand, he says, 'There's the axe that killed me.' Is he right?"
"Unless you registered the weapon under a new accession number after replacing all the components, he's absolutely correct," a man's voice said from behind him. Dave turned; a woman and two men stood there, one an indistinguishable suit and the other in flat black.
"You should have replaced the whole thing at once," the one in black added. "The new handle may not be as efficient when combined with the old head."
"And that doesn't even begin to get into the potential physical evidence," the woman said.
"And for everything else, I have Agents Coulson, Barton, and Romanov," Fury said, sounding satisfied. Dave turned back towards him, in time to see him slide out of the booth. Fury extended his hand. "You can be part of something better, Mister Wong."
"I think you're supposed to tell me I can be part of something bigger," Dave said, shaking it.
"From what I understand, it doesn't get much bigger than what you've already seen," Fury said.
"Are you going to take me out and shoot me if I don't come with you?" Dave asked. "Preserve your secrets and everything?"
The corner of Fury's mouth ticked up. "Tell me, Mister Wong," he said. "Putting aside Doctor Marconi and myself, who has believed a word you've told them?"
Dave looked at him for a moment.
"I have to pick up John," he said. "It doesn't matter if you want him to come or not. He'll show up."
"He's being detained," Coulson said, and Fury raised his eyebrow. "We didn't collect him. He just showed up."
"Then I guess we can go," Dave said, standing up. "We can pick up our kit on the way out. It'll take too long to explain it to your R&D or whoever."
"We'll get what you need," Fury told him, leading him towards the door. "We don't have a problem with unconventional weaponry."
"It's a specialty," Barton said dryly.
One of the suits opened the door for them, following them out. Dave got the feeling that he wasn't going to see the inside of They China Food for a long time.