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The World is Too Much With Us

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"So SHIELD is gone," Maria said quietly, fingers turning her shot glass as she stared at the wall on the other side of Natasha's new apartment.

Natasha sighed and leaned forward to snatch up the vodka and refill her own glass. "See how long that lasts."

Regimes fell every day. She tended not to weep over that.

"It didn't matter who took it down, Maria. It was going to happen eventually." She shook her head at Maria's disbelieving look. "Outside or inside, it was still just another enemy. We'll move on."

"Fury's going to give it to Coulson." Maria gave the vodka slightly disgusted look. She'd been Deputy Director for years, and she'd done right by Fury and SHIELD. Perhaps it shouldn't have mattered to be overlooked, but it did.

"Coulson's still an idealist," Natasha pointed out.

"You should have heard him." Maria sighed. "He couldn't believe it was over."

They fell silent a moment. The bottle exchanged hands, glasses were refilled, and wordless comfort settled between them.

Finally, Natasha broke the silence. "We're realists, and the Avengers always was his baby."

"I never believed in it."

"This world needs realists." She glanced over at her friend.

Maria looked like she was brooding, helped along by too much alcohol, but then she laughed. "I guess it's too much to think Fury does."

"Sure he does," Natasha disagreed. "Just not as the new founder. SHIELD needs to rebuild, and that's going to take time the world doesn't have. We're going to keep doing what we've always done."

"I'll drink to that." Maria leaned forward and held out her glass to Natasha.

"A friend wouldn't let you drink any more," Natasha commented dryly. "You're drunk."

"A best friend would hand me the bottle."

Natasha smiled and did.