The day after the battle, and with half his team in the wind, Fury’s at his desk going over the initial field reports for the Chitauri incident. He’s trying to get a feel for what the Council would need to know immediately and what could be excluded for the time being, when his cell phone buzzes and plays her ringtone. He sits back and answers with a smile, glad for the distraction even though he knows exactly why she’s calling.
“M, I was going to call you later.”
”I imagine you were. That was a rather spectacular debut, Nicky.”
He makes a noise somewhere between a grunt and a growl. “A bit more spectacular than I would’ve liked, to be honest.”
”Yes, well, sometimes these things can’t be helped.” She sounds amused, as if her agents have never destroyed anything in any city ever. It annoys him, and he decides to poke at her a bit.
“I suppose. Hey, how’s Venice these days? They ever get those centuries-old buildings rebuilt?”
There’s silence on her end of the line for a moment. ”Yes, and they look almost exactly as they did before.” Her voice is frosty in that way only the English can seem to manage, and he grins.
“Good, good. Glad to hear it.” He waits for her to get to the real reason she called; they both know why she rang him, and they both know he’s not going to volunteer anything unless she asks outright. When she does, her tone is solicitous again.
”Listen, love, Parliament has their collective knickers in a twist over this, and the Prime Minister’s breathing down my neck. Is there anything at all you can tell me that will calm them down a bit until we can get full reports?”
He considers making a remark about her knickers, but after his crack about Venice he doubts she’s in the mood.
“I’m still going over everything, but you know as soon as I have anything you’ll be my second call. Just know that the situation’s been handled, the threat’s been neutralized, and everything’s under control. I should have something more for you tomorrow or the day after.”
She exhales loudly, not quite an exasperated sigh but definitely a sound of annoyance, and he sympathizes with her, really he does. He’s been there, waiting desperately for information that seems like it’s never going to come, getting increasingly impatient as other agencies appear to take their sweet time and give him the run-around, people higher up the ladder demanding answers he doesn’t yet have. He wishes he had something to give her, but he just doesn’t.
“I’ll call as soon as I have anything.”
”Yes, fine,” she says, frosty once more, and hangs up without saying good-bye.
Every Christmas she sends him a bottle of Glenfidditch. He sends her Gray’s Papaya hot dogs.
On her birthday he sends Red Hots and Peeps. On his she sends Jammy Dodgers.
He’s wrapping up a meeting with research and development about possible improvements to Captain Rogers’ body armor and Agent Barton’s request for an arrow that does something Fury can’t quite wrap his head around but that R&D can’t wait to get started on, when his phone jangles out her ringtone.
“That’s all everyone. I want reports on my desk by end of week,” he says, dismissing them, and as he steps into the hall he hears Gomez ask, “Did his phone just play the Sex Pistols?”
Fury picks up her call with, “This is unexpected.” Always mindful of where he is and who’s around him, he keeps his tone neutral.
”So is having to put one of my agents on American soil on an active mission.”
“Shouldn’t you be calling the other guys for this?” People in the corridor part like the Red Sea for him, which is handy when he’s in a hurry and amusing when he’s not.
”And get bogged down in bureaucracy while the target escapes? No thank you. Besides, I doubt we’ll be there for very long, anyway.”
“Hang on, then,” he says, and they make idle conversation until he can get to his office. He knows she’s in her office because she slips numerous innuendos and outright come-ons into the conversation. Due to years of training (and years of working with her) he’s able to keep a straight face and keep his end of the conversation innocuous enough for the benefit of the people he passes, though he does manage to get in a few innuendoes of his own.
He nods to his assistant as he passes her office, closes his door securely behind him, and sits at his desk, leaning back in the chair.
“Alright, what – if anything – do I need to know about this mission?”
”Nothing, darling, I don’t want you to be implicated on the off-chance this goes pear-shaped.”
“What do you need from me, then?”
”Just keep an eye on my boy, will you? Make sure he doesn’t get caught or something before we can get what we need. Shouldn’t be more than a day, I imagine.”
“You got it, baby.”
They spent nearly a week in a West Berlin safe house in ’73, under strict orders to stay put until further notice. After making certain they weren’t being surveilled and after cleaning all their weapons, after running through all the card games they knew and after M declared herself, “sodding done with Twenty Questions”, they turned to the only other entertainment they had.
”He’s a world famous billionaire, Nicholas, how could you possibly lose him?”
“We didn’t lose him, we know he’s in London, we just… don’t know where at the moment.” It sounds lame even before it’s out of his mouth, and he presses fingers to the bridge of his nose and his forehead, and the headache pounding away there. Her amused ‘Hmm’ doesn’t help.
”Don’t worry, flower, I’m sure the paps will find him eventually and then you can come collect him from whatever scandal he’s stirred up. Have you checked TMZ?”
It’s not a bad idea, and he can’t believe he didn’t think of it first. He presses his phone to his chest, leans out of his office, and orders Anderson to start checking the gossip sites. When he puts the phone back to his ear she’s laughing.
“He has Banner with him.” That shuts her up.
”You could have led with that, you know."
“I wanted it to be a surprise.”
She huffs at him. ”Arse. I’ll do some checking, see what I can find, and ring you back.”
Every year there’s some event – fundraiser, political flesh-press, charity event – where one of them is required to make an appearance. They go, play their part and say their lines, and make sure they’re seen. They speak and laugh and joke and network, and make sure everyone feels important to the ‘organization’, though in truth few are.
And at some point in the evening, usually late, after people have had a few and are less likely to notice their absence, the other shows up and together they slip away.
This year it’s the Stark Gala for something or other, Fury doesn’t know what. He does know that he has to put on his best suit and smile and make nice with senators, and congressmen, and city officials, and make sure the funding keeps coming and the relationship between SHIELD and the city stays smooth. This year, he has the added bonus of making sure that Stark’s on his best behavior (delegated to Ms. Potts), and that the Captain doesn’t feel too overwhelmed (Rogers assures him that it may have seventysome years since he’s done one of these, but these types of things never really change, and honestly, he’s just glad he didn’t have to wear the uniform this time).
Fury’s glad-handing some media mogul’s spoiled brat of a son when he feels a hand on his arm.
“Excuse me, but I need to borrow Director Fury for a moment,” then M is leading him away, her arm tucked in his. He clinks his champagne flute against hers.
“Thanks, hon. Obnoxious little shit.”
“Speaking of obnoxious shits…” She keeps to his right, so he can glance down at her cleavage without turning his head too much. He appreciates that.
“Whatever Stark did or said is on him. I have nothing to do with that tonight.”
She laughs. “No, not Stark, not this time. That arsehole from Belarus.”
Fury groans. “I really don’t want to hear about it. Besides, I thought Kozlov was supposed to be handling that?”
“Oh, pssh. Kozlov couldn’t handle his way out of a wet sack and you know it.”
He laughs and changes the subject, because he really doesn’t want to hear about it tonight.
“You look really beautiful, M,” he says, softly.
“Thank you, love.” She sips from her glass then leans closer. “I reserved a suite upstairs. Room 604,” she says, and he only feels her drop the keycard into his jacket pocket because she wants him to. They were, after all, both spies at one point; they each know how to pick a pocket and make a drop without the mark knowing.
He puts a hand to her back to guide her through a knot of people, and then she leaves him, goes off to chat up Bruce Wayne while he heads back into the political fray. It’s easier, knowing that she’s here. His smiles are a bit more genuine, and he’s more relaxed. He knows it won’t be until well after midnight before they’ll be able to slip out of the party and up to their suite, but he’s okay with that. Just being able to look across the room and see her there makes the whole night easier to bear.
A/N: The next chapter is a bonus scene that I had to write but couldn't decide where to place in the story. It contains Avengers movie spoilers, so read at your own discretion.