"How's my favourite top secret agency director?" Charlotte Sparrow asked cheerily, poking her head around the open door of Nick Fury's office at SHIELD headquarters in Manhattan.
Fury cracked a smile at his unexpected visitor. "I'm your favourite? I never knew." He waved her in. "He has a headache," he answered.
Charlotte settled herself on the small couch at the far end of the large office, setting her purse and several shopping bags of various sizes next to her. Looking at him thoughtfully, she cocked her head. "Would that headache have anything to do with a certain Captain Rogers?"
His head snapped around from where he was pouring them each a drink, his one eye searching her face. "Your boyfriend has a big mouth. You don't have the clearance to know that sort of thing anymore." He walked around the couch, handing her a glass half filled with bourbon, sitting down on the chair kitty-corner from her.
"Matthew didn't tell me. Surprisingly enough, he takes the whole top secret thing quite seriously." Charlotte had found Methos quite reticent in discussing his activities as a physician for the secret organization, and she hadn't pressed him to tell her anything more than he was willing to. "I bumped into Captain Rogers on my way up here, if you must know. How could I not recognize him?"
Sighing, he took a swallow of his drink. "Sorry."
Shrugging slightly, she waved away his apology. "You should know though, he remembered me."
"How? You never met."
"We were never formally introduced, true, but he literally ran into me in a corridor at the base in London; knocked me off my feet. Poor young man was mortified, and must have apologized a hundred times as he helped me up off the floor and gathered my things."
He laughed outright at that. "You'd be steadier on your feet if you didn't wear those insane high heels of yours," he said, looking meaningfully at the python print, stiletto heeled Christian Louboutins she was currently wearing.
Sniffing, she petted one shoe fondly. "I'll have you know I was in uniform at the time and shod in eminently sensible shoes."
"For once," he said with a grin. Then turning serious, he asked, "How did you explain seventy years passing and you not aging a day?"
"I simply told him my path was different than his. He accepted that; he understands the need for secrets." Her eyes were sad. "It must be very difficult for him."
"It is. He's keeping himself apart, keeping the present at arm's length."
"If he lets the present in, he has to accept his past his gone. I can understand that a little." What had happened to Captain Rogers wasn't the same as being Immortal, but she'd left enough lives behind her to understand the grief he must be feeling. "If you think it would help, I could spend some time with him? I got to know Agent Carter fairly well after the war. Maybe if he could talk to someone who remembered her…." Sighing, she trailed off. "I don't know."
"I may take you up on that." Studying her, he said, "There's something else, isn't there?"
"Tony," she said simply.
"I should have known; it always comes back to Stark, doesn't it?" He rubbed his temple.
Charlotte bristled a little. She knew Tony Stark was one of Nick's biggest headaches, but Tony was her best friend, and she worried about him. "That's not fair, Nicholas. You know that when Tony found out I knew his father, no matter how casually, it unsettled him. All I'm asking is that you give me some warning when the time comes for him to meet Steve Rogers. The captain and Howard Stark were friends, but the Howard that Steve knew was a very different man from the father Tony knew."
Fury nodded. "Fair enough," he said, accepting her argument. "How much does Stark know about your time in the SSR?"
"Very little; almost everything we did is still classified, after all. And despite what you might think, Director Fury–" she drew herself up, "–I do still know how to follow protocol."
He waved his hands in surrender. "I'm sorry—again! I never meant to imply I couldn't trust you. You know I trust you with my life; then and now."
"I'm sorry too, sorry I snapped at you. It's just; I don't know… things seemed simpler back then. We knew who the enemy was, there was a purpose to what we did, the next mission, the people who stood at our side, watched our backs, the lives we were trying to save." She leaned towards him, elbows on her knees, her hands clasped. "If you hadn't come for me, with Ezra and Molly, that time in Spain, I'd be dead, permanently. I can never repay you for that."
"You don't have to," he said quietly. "I should have never let you go in by yourself in the first place."
She reached out, her fingertips brushing the top of his hand. "We did what we had to do, Nicholas."
He took her hand, squeezing it gently before letting it go. "Do you ever miss it?"
"I know what you want me to say, Nicholas, but this life of yours hasn't been mine for sixty years." She smiled softly. "But know that if you ever truly need me, I'm here; you have only to ask." She knew she could trust him with that promise, a pledge he would only ask her to keep should the need be dire.
Nodding, he leaned back, arms stretched out over the back of the chair. "I'm still wondering why you're here," he said with a smile, attempting to lighten their mood. "With the boyfriend in New Mexico, I didn't expect you to be in Manhattan."
"Is that where he is? Matthew," she emphasized his name, "didn't say. Talk about not being able to keep a secret, Director Fury. You really should know better." Her lips twitched with suppressed laughter.
Tilting his head back, Nick groaned. "Walked into that one, didn't I?"
This time she did laugh. "Uh huh." She picked up one the larger shopping bags. "I'm in town on foundation business, and I was at Sotheby's with Ezra earlier." She pulled a flat, rectangular brown paper wrapped package from the bag, handing it to him. "For you."
He took it from her, the surprise evident on his face. Unwrapping it swiftly, he held the framed painting up, looking at it. "Is this…?"
"Paul Signac, yes. I remember you had a print of Le Port de Marseille in the sitting room of your flat in London during the war. That one's in a museum, though Ezra pointed out that wasn't necessarily a detriment to acquiring it if I really wanted you to have it." She grinned at Nick's bark of laughter. He was very familiar with Ezra's varied talents. "But I thought another of his similar works would suffice. Do you like it?"
"Like doesn't even begin to cover it." He laid the painting down on the small table next to him. "Thank you, Charlotte."
"You're welcome," she replied, pleased. "And now—" she inclined her head towards the door, "—the look on Agent Coulson's face tells me you have fifteen other things you should be doing that don't involve talking to me."
Nick looked over his shoulder as Coulson began to protest. Then the SHIELD agent shrugged, a crooked smile on his lips. "She's right, sir. Good to see you again, ma'am."
"Likewise, Agent Coulson." Standing, Charlotte gathered her bags and Nick kissed her on the cheek.
"I know I'll never get the band together again," Nick told her, "but I sure wouldn't mind seeing more of you."
Laughing, she headed towards the door. "Be careful what you wish for."
"I'll be seeing you."
"In all the old familiar places, that this heart of mine embraces," she recited the next lines of the song that held a special place in the hearts of many of those who had lived through WWII. "I'll be seeing you, Nicholas."