Author Topic: A Furyous Chat  (Read 265 times)

Steve Rogers

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A Furyous Chat
« on: December 02, 2012, 10:36:30 PM »
Steve waited until Lucy was asleep before he made his solo visit to speak with Director Fury. He tucked the blankets up around her shoulders and kissed her on the cheek, whispering some quiet words of love and promising to be back soon. He lingered for a moment to make sure she was asleep before departing. It seemed Fury had thought of everything already and Steve's quarters came complete with a change of clothes for them both, if they so desired. Tan slacks and S.H.I.E.L.D. t-shirt covered Steve's sculpted form, along with a pair of brown leather boots. He wasn't sure what he was going to encounter at the door to his quarters. There wasn't much Fury could do to keep Steve there, if he didn't want to stay. He tried to door to see if it was locked, hoping he wouldn't have to pry the thing open and wake Lucy in the process. Breathing a sigh of relief, Steve slipped out of the room into the hallway, with a final glance back at the peacefully sleeping form of Lucy on the bed, hoping he'd be back before she woke up. He closed the door quietly behind him and glanced up and down the hallway, looking for someone of a rank who might know where he could find Fury without having to waste time looking for him.

Even at this time of day, there were people milling back and forth, some heading for their quarters, others moving to take up their duties for the overnight shift. An over-abundance, in fact, of S.H.I.E.L.D. operatives, any one of which might know where the Director currently was. One harassed-looking man in his fifties was advancing along the hall toward Steve, his mind clearly on other things. Unfortunately for him, his stripes declared him to be a commander - high enough rank to be stopped and questioned.

Steve's eyes quickly moved over the various ranking operatives that were making their way here and there along the hallway, picking out the one of highest rank, which just happened to be said Commander, and moving his way. "Excuse me, Commander," he started, intercepting the man's hurried gait. Though he wasn't wearing a uniform of any kind, he assumed nearly everyone there would recognize his face. The fact that he outranked the man and nearly everyone else in the hallway probably wouldn't hurt his chances of receiving a straight answer. "I'm looking for Director Fury. Do you know where I might find him this time of day?"

The commander paused, opening his mouth to snap at what he assumed to be a subordinate, only to take a good look at Steve's face and abruptly snap his mouth closed again. His scowl cleared, offering up a grimace of a smile made worse by the obvious headache gnawing at him. "Uh, Director Fury should be in his office at this time, sir," he nodded to Steve, glancing at his own watch. "If he isn't there, he'll be in the briefing room."

Steve seemed to sense the man's tension and need for urgency. "Thank you, Commander. Is there something I can help you with?" he asked, his natural need and desire to help people, even when he had concerns of his own, coming to the forefront. He wondered if there was something going on he knew nothing about or if all the hustle and bustle was simply S.H.I.E.L.D.'s way of reacting to the natural disaster going on right outside their doors.

"No, sir, just tallying up the personnel duty roster," the commander nodded to him again. "Grateful for the offer, but it's just numbers on a page to them upstairs." The look on his face suggested that the numbers on the page meant more to him personally, but he had to do as he was told. There was a moment where he seemed to be considering something before he added, "Heard you're getting married, sir. Congratulations."

Steve arched a brow, obviously surprised at the congratulations. "Thanks. Word travels fast, I guess." He frowned thoughtfully for a moment, wondering if he should volunteer to have his own name put on the roster, but knew both Fury and Lucy would kill him if he returned to duty too soon. Twenty-four hours wasn't all that long really, was it? "How's it going out there?" he asked, unable to resist at least finding out if he was needed or not.

"Gossip's a way of life around here, sir," the commander managed a faint grin before glancing down at his armful of papers at Steve's question. "Storm's moved on. Near as I know, work's moving ahead to the clean up. No more casualties have been reported, and the medical stations are beginning to see an easing in the number of patients coming through the doors. The priority is shelter, food, and water for the homeless while properties are set to rights."

Steve nodded, grateful for the update, as well as knowing things were going as well as could be expected. He'd have asked the man to keep him posted, but it wasn't really his place to do that, and he didn't want to make his work harder. He seemed to have enough to do, as it was. "Thanks, Commander..." He paused, unfamiliar with most of the faces he saw hurrying about. "I didn't catch your name."

"Henley, sir, Daniel Henley." With a nod toward a salute in the way his hand touched his dishevelled hair, Commander Henley turned and continued on his way, a long shift ahead of him through the night. At least Steve now had a choice of two locations where he might find the Director, which was definitely an improvement on the options before talking to a frazzled officer.

"Thank you, Commander Henley," Steve offered returning the salute before the man departed to continue on his way. He had killed a few birds with one stone, so to speak. He now not only knew where to locate the Director, but had an update on the current situation outside. Steve turned in the direction of Fury's office, deciding to check there first. If he wasn't one place, he should be in the other. Quick strides took him down the hallway to the lift that would take him to the floor on which the Director's office was located.

As luck would have it, the Director was in the elevator as Steve approached it, reaching out to hold the doors for the First Avenger as it became obvious that the elevator was his intended destination. "Going somewhere in a hurry, Cap?" he asked, not curious but not disinterested, either. He hadn't become Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. without knowing when someone wanted to find him after all.

"Looking for you actually," Steve replied as he stepped into the elevator, only mildly surprised to find the Director already there, as if he was psychic and knew he was being sought after. Steve knew it was more than likely he was being watched or that the Commander he'd just spoken with had given Fury a heads up, but he didn't really care either way. "Do you have a few minutes?" Though his questions were important to him, there was a crisis going on, and he knew that in the grand scheme of things, his own personal matters were not a priority.

"I have minutes," was Fury's response, calm as ever, seemingly unflappable in the face of anything that came his way. He was very good at keeping things close, at holding all the cards, but even he knew when he had to fold. "I take it those questions of yours just aren't lying down to play dead, then. How is Dr Broderick?" It was a gentle prod, but sharp, too. Did Lucy know Steve was here, and if she did, why wasn't she there too? Fury reached out to send the lift plummeting a couple of floors, settling his hands behind his back as he stood still and comfortable to wait.

Steve stood straight and tall, no lean, no perceptible signs of fatigue or pain, his expression impassive even as the Director mentioned Lucy's name. "She's resting," Steve replied honestly. There was no reason to lie to the man. "She's been going non-stop for days with very few breaks. She needs the rest." Not to mention, going practically non-stop with him for the last few hours, but that, in Steve's opinion, was none of Fury's or anyone else's business but his and Lucy's.

"From what I hear, that makes you something of a miracle worker," Fury commented mildly, already stepping out of the elevator almost the moment the doors drew back. Personnel waiting on the other side automatically stepped out of his way, though there were a few curious glances when they noted who was with him. "Reports state that she was threatened with sedatives to get her to take even an hour after sixteen with no stopping." He fell into an easy stride, heading toward his office, assuming that Steve would walk with him until whatever he wanted was out of the way.

Steve Rogers

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Re: A Furyous Chat
« Reply #1 on: December 02, 2012, 10:40:31 PM »
Steve stepped out of the elevator right behind Fury, easily keeping pace with the man, ignoring the curious glances from those who passed by. If they didn't know who he was or why he was there by now, it wouldn't be long before they did. "She's stubborn, sir, I'll grant you that, but in a good way." He gave the man no hints about how he had finally managed to wear the good doctor out. That was, in Fury's own words, need to know basis only, and in Steve's estimation, Fury didn't need to know. "I have a couple of requests," he continued, coming straight to the point. It seemed the man was busy and in a hurry, and there was no point in beating around the bush or making small talk.

"I thought you might." Fury punched in his personal code to the next door they came across, and invited Steve into his office with a jerk of his head. It was a relatively small room, fitted with a desk and chairs, one wall given over to screens that were blessedly dark for the time being. This was probably the one place in the entire HQ that wasn't under constant surveillance. "What can I do for you, Cap?"

Steve followed Fury into his small office, remaining standing until given permission to sit. He was a soldier, after all, and was accustomed to following proper protocol, whether he was officially a member of S.H.I.E.L.D. or not. That still seemed to be a bit of a gray area. "There are actually several things I'd like to discuss, if I may," he started, privately debating where to begin.

Again, Fury invited him to relax with just a nod of the head, taking his own seat behind his desk with the air of a man who has too much to do and no time to do it in. "I can give you forty-five minutes," he told the captain, and there might even have been a hint of regret at the time restriction. "I have to report to the Council on the hour."

Steve needed no explanation what that meant, knowing that even Fury reported to a higher authority. Without the money and resources provided by the Council and their affiliates, there would likely not even be a S.H.I.E.L.D. "I'll come straight to the point then," Steve said, choosing to remain standing, but relaxing his posture just a little. "With your leave, I'd like to return to duty, as soon as I'm able. There's still a lot that needs to be done, and I'd rather be of use than cooped up here doing nothing. I'm sure Doctor Broderick feels the same."

Fury gave this a certain amount of consideration before he answered. "And when is it you believe you will be able to return to duty, Captain?" he asked carefully. "I'm given to understand you have been injured. You also have a distressing ability to put yourself beyond communications reach when out in the field, which will make it virtually impossible for us to find you when the paperwork is completed."

Steve's mouth moved, about to answer the Fury's question when he was thrown off by the man's final statement. "I'm sorry. Paperwork?" he asked, wondering what kind of paperwork exactly Fury was referring to. He had an inkling he might know what he was talking about, but he needed to be sure, and Steve wasn't one for talking in circles or playing head games. He spoke honestly and bluntly and expected the same from those around him.

The Director gave him what was possibly an old-fashioned look, although to Steve it was probably quite contemporary. His answer came in the tones of someone speaking carefully and slowly for the benefit of anyone in the room not on the same page. "The condition yourself and Dr Broderick insisted upon this morning," he reminded Steve calmly. "Marriage before you'll sign up. With not inconsiderable trouble, we have arranged for a license to be forwarded to you backdated to this date. By the time it arrives, and we've tracked down a padre, the twenty-four hours will have been served, and you can get married. I assume the good doctor will be making arrangements for her sister to attend the happy event? I can, of course, make those arrangements myself."

Steve blinked, not having realized that Fury was actually going to go ahead with making the arrangements for them. It was both perplexing and promising all at the same time. Fury had to know that he would more than likely have volunteered his services to S.H.I.E.L.D. without the so-called paperwork, but the same could not be said for Lucy. She had stated her terms briefly and completely. "A Catholic priest?" Steve prodded. He was raised a good Catholic boy and nothing short of that would suffice, in his eyes, even if they were already living in sin. "It's going to be hard for her to make those arrangements if we're on lockdown here, sir," Steve pointed out, wondering just how far the man was willing to go to get them and keep them.

"All the major religions are served within SHIELD, Captain," the Director assured him. "If you wish the padre to be Catholic, then he will be Catholic." He studied Steve for a moment as the other man hinted toward a need to lower some of the restrictions, and sighed. "Captain, you are both under lockdown at this precise moment because I know damn well you're both going to run off and go straight back on duty without sufficient time for rest and recovery. There are telephones, and I am sure Agent Croft would jump at the chance to run errands for you. Both of you."

Steve decided to come straight to the point once again, not wanting to waste the man's time, which it seemed he was unsurprisingly very short on. He assumed it would come as no surprise to the man that Lucy's sister was off world, so to speak. "I think it would be better if Lucy were to contact her sister herself. From what I've been told, she's a little more..." Steve searched his brain for the right word before continuing, "... sensitive than Lucy. If she's approached by the wrong person, she's going to jump to the immediate conclusion that something is wrong. There's also the matter of her boyfriend, which I'm sure you're aware of. The Human Torch, I think he goes by? He's part of another team here in the city, I'm told. I haven't had a chance to look into that further."

"The Human Torch?" For the first time, Fury looked surprised, reached over to a screen set on his desk and bringing up a small index of information. "Olivia Broderick is dating Jonathan Storm. Interesting. Well, that explains why we haven't been able to find him for a while." He shut the screen down, returning his gaze to Steve, impassive once again. "He can be given clearance to attend the ceremony if it takes place within SHIELD operations, though I would assume you would prefer a church? As to Miss Broderick, I assume you're requesting permission for Dr Broderick to return to Rhy'Din and consult her sister on her own time, am I right?"

"It's a hop, skip, and a jump through the portal," Steve pointed out, another fact that he was pretty sure Fury was aware of. It surprised him a little that he apparently hadn't been aware of Johnny's Storm's whereabouts, as it seemed to him that Fury kept an eye - literally - on just about everyone who was a potential addition to the little family that was S.H.I.E.L.D. Steve relaxed a little now that the two of them were alone, choosing to take the chair in front of Fury, after all. "We could be there and back within twenty-four hours or less." He assumed Fury already knew about the portal and how it worked.

"Both of you, I see." There was a heavy pause as Fury weighed this against a thousand other things in his mind, potentiality and probability fighting one another in the wake of certainty. "When do you propose taking this trip, Captain Rogers?"

"It would have to be soon, if we're going to get married, but..." Here came the clincher that most likely bothered Fury, as much as it did Steve. "I don't want to put my personal life first. I'm a solider first and foremost. My duty comes first. Lucy knows that. But if I don't have a personal life, if all there is is my job, I'm going to... What's the saying? Burn out?" Steve paused a moment before continuing. It was rare to bear his soul to anyone, much less the Director of S.H.I.E.L.D., but Fury knew more about him than anyone, and if he didn't understand, then no one would. "You know I'm always going to answer the call to duty, Director. Am I shirking my duties to want to have a personal life, too??

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Re: A Furyous Chat
« Reply #2 on: December 02, 2012, 10:42:17 PM »
The eyebrow above the single visible eye rose as Steve laid out what seemed to be a genuine question as to the nature of his committment. "Cap, without a personal life, without something deep rooted and personal to you, you're nothing but a souped up soldier with time on his hands," he said bluntly. "I've read your file. Back then, you were on a duty roster. You took your missions, but you took the downtime that came with them. Since you woke up, how much downtime have you had? And don't mention the road trip - that wasn't so much downtime as a couple of long bike rides between emergencies." He sighed, leaning back in his seat. "What it comes down to, Captain, is that I'm not going to stand in the way of you getting married, raising a family, none of the things you were denied due to your long sleep. All I'm asking is that you know your duty to the world and do it when it is asked of you. But the world doesn't hang in the balance every damn day."

Steve had to smile a little at that, somewhat relieved, knowing that Fury more than likely had very little of a private life of his own. He wasn't going to whine about what had happened in the past. He had made his decision seventy years ago and had no regrets about it, but he had a lot of living to catch up on. "I appreciate that, Director, I really do. I think we're in agreement there. I'm a long way from retirement, believe me." A thoughtful frown appeared on Steve's face as he considered his next question. "In your estimation, do you feel we're still needed on the front lines, or can we slip away for a day or so without being missed?" There it was. If Fury felt they were needed more here, a trip to Rhy'Din would have to wait, as would everything else they had planned. There would be no honeymoon, that much was certain, not until things settled back down to normal in the city.

The Director nodded, appreciating that the man sat with him had felt the need to point out that he wasn't turning his back on things. "The time for the first response is over," he told Steve confidently. "Barring the dismantling of the medical stations, we'll be handing over to the civilian services within the next couple of days. Mr Stark has already returned to his daily life, as have several others of your team. Whether you stay on until all S.H.I.E.L.D. operatives are out of the field is your own decision, Captain, but I think we can get by without you." He carefully didn't mention that they'd been getting by without Steve for seventy years, knowing the value of Captain America all the more now he'd seen the man in action. "If you and Dr Broderick make the decisions regarding venue and aftermath, they can be set in place while you and she are inviting her sister and Mr Storm out of their current dimension."

Steve listened quietly while he absorbed all that Fury was telling him. Once again, it seemed they were on the same page. If Stark and his Avenger teammates had returned to their civilian lives, then Steve deemed it was safe for him to do the same. The only problem there was that he felt such a pull of duty that he never really thought of himself as much of a civilian. "I'll talk to Lucy about it and let you know what we decide, but I think it would be best to give her sister the news in person, with or without me." Steve paused a moment again before continuing, unsure about what plans Fury had for either of them, but he was running short on time. He turned his questions to that of Lucy, deciding she took priority over himself. "I know you don't want to reveal classified information about someone else's file, but Lucy needs to know what happened to her mother. She needs to know why she and her sister were abandoned, other than the obvious reasons. I realize this is a sensitive subject, but Howard Stark had a responsibility to his daughters, and from what I'm seeing, he shirked that responsibility. Lucy isn't interested in Stark Enterprises. She just wants some answers as to why she and her sister ended up in an orphanage."

There was another long pause as Fury studied the captain, this time to decide whether or not the classified information he was asking for could be given. Whether this one thing was worth bending the rules for. "Well, Cap ... I can tell you a little of what there is to learn from the files," he conceded finally. "Seeing as how no one seems to be about to threaten me with pulling me from my perch, as I believe your good lady put it." He sat forward, folding his hands together on the desk in front of him, his one good eye steady on Steve.

"Elizabeth Carter was, as you have probably guessed, one of the first S.H.I.E.L.D. agents. She was assigned as liaison to Howard Stark during his time as consultant in England. When the affair began, I do not know. What I do know is that Mr Stark's wife discovered the affair around the time Elizabeth discovered she was pregnant. To protect his son's interests and keep the family from being torn apart in a messy divorce, Howard ended the affair, unaware of the pregnancy. Elizabeth Carter died in part due to complications during the birth of her daughters, and due to circumstances beyond anyone's control, they were left at a local Catholic Church. It took S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, prompted by a codex in her mother's will, two years to track them down, by which time they had already been moved to an orphanage. To the best of my knowledge, Howard Stark was in the process of making arrangements for his daughters to join him and his family in America when his plane went down."

Once again, Steve quietly listened while Fury relayed this information, heartened by the man's candor and wondering if it was Lucy's volatile personality - Fury's words, not his - that had caused the man to withhold that information a few hours earlier. It saddened him to know the truth of what had become of Lucy's mother, but explained why the girls had slipped through the cracks. He filled in the blanks of what wasn't being told, presuming the decision had been made not to bring the girls to New York and chance further disrupting Tony's life by introducing him to a pair of half sisters he hadn't known existed, especially while the kid was busy dealing with grief of his own. "I assume S.H.I.E.L.D. has been keeping an eye on them all this time."

Fury nodded. "We have," he agreed. "It was decided that in order to minimalise any risk of Stane, Mr Stark's then business associate, making use of them for his own ends, we would let them keep their anonymity. When it became clear that Howard had passed his genius down to Tony, however, that watch became a little closer. The world needs people like Tony Stark, however difficult he can be."

"That's understandable. Do I have your permission to share this information with Lucy?" Steve asked, resting his hands on the arms of the chair, seemingly completely at ease, knowing Fury had to know that whatever was passed along to Steve would be ultimately be shared with Lucy. Asking was merely a formality, but Steve was honest enough to put it to the man anyway.

Fury actually snorted at that, the flicker of amusement that crossed his face giving him a
momentary link to the rest of the human race. "Permission granted, not that you need it. The detail is all in the file, but I think you can understand why I was unwilling to impart this information in the presence of Dr Broderick. And I am fully aware that she will share the information with her sister. Olivia Broderick is not a concern at this time, nor do I think she will ever be. She lacks the spark of her family's genetics."

"But her boyfriend might be," Steve remarked offhandedly. He had yet to meet either of them and as yet, had no opinion on whether Olivia or her boyfriend would make good candidates for S.H.I.E.L.D. "I'd like to ask permission to travel to England in a few weeks. I've got some unfinished business there that needs tying up." He knew Fury more than likely had guessed that  the unfinished business was Peggy Carter, but there was the matter of Elizabeth, as well.

"Travelling with your wife, or alone?" the Director asked, a little sharper than most people would have been. If Steve was travelling alone, that meant Lucy would have to be watched like a hawk. Now those two lives were on course to be tied together, the safety of one directly correlated to the loyalty of the other. He made no comment on Johnny Storm; Steve would come to his own conclusions about that particular firecracker.

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Re: A Furyous Chat
« Reply #3 on: December 02, 2012, 10:44:50 PM »
"With my..." Steve broke off a moment, the word wife sounding a little strange on his tongue in regard to himself, especially since it hadn't happened yet. He supposed he'd better get used to it. "With my wife." There was that moment of brief hesitation again before he continued, the mind behind the intelligent blue eyes considering how much to tell the Director and how much to ask of him. "Does Peggy know I'm still alive?" he finally asked, bluntly.

Again, there was a moment of introspection before Fury spoke, a moment of consideration over which facts to share. But Steve had a good record, and he was owed more than the basic facts. "A communiqu? was sent to England when you were fished out of the sea," he told Steve. "It was left to our agents' discretion as to how much to tell Ms Carter. I believe she is aware that you have been found and are alive, but not that you are as you were when you went to sleep. That in itself is a tough nut to crack, even for someone as formidable as Ms Carter."

Steve considered that information as carefully as the rest. He didn't want to give Peggy a heart attack by visiting and had to know if the rewards outweighed the risks. He was doing it more for her than for himself. Would she want to see him after seventy years? He knew that if he was in her shoes, he probably would, if only to close the chapter at last that had been opened all those years ago, but he wasn't Peggy and he couldn't think for her. Women were, at best, an enigma to him, even now. "In your opinion, is Miss Carter well enough to handle the shock of seeing me as I am, or would it be better to leave well enough alone?" Steve knew that Peggy had retired and was no longer being referred to as Agent Carter, but the title of Ms. had gone straight over his head, not yet familiar with that form of address. He did notice that it seemed she had never married.

"I believe Ms Carter to be in robust health for her age," Fury told him, noting the use of "Miss" and wondering at it before letting his thoughts move onward. "She is certainly robust enough to cope with seeing you again, I understand, and meeting her nieces, should they choose to venture out on that limb. Not all at once, though. Best to be safe."

"Duly noted," Steve replied, wondering how he was going to finagle that. There wasn't much point in bringing Lucy along if he had to lie about who she was. "Does Peg... Agent... Miss Carter know about her nieces?" Steve continued, for some reason, faltering for the first time since his conversation with Fury had began. He'd read a little of Peggy's file and knew she was retired and where she was living, but he didn't know much more than that, as yet.

"I believe she knows the circumstances of her niece's death, but not that the children survived," Fury clarified for him, glancing at the clock on his desk. His time was running out, unfortunately. "I understand it was deemed unnecessary to disturb her with the information, since at the time of Elizabeth Carter's death, Ms Peggy Carter's sister-in-law was still alive and thought capable of caring for the babies. That, in hindsight, was a bad decision."

"Her sister in law? I'm not following," Steve asked, not knowing enough about Peggy's family to know who Fury was referring to. Obviously, something had happened that had prevented Peggy's family from taking the twins, but Steve had no idea what that was.

Fury frowned, wondering just how small the detail was in Steve's mind when it came to a woman who, by all accounts, had been his first real awakening into the world of the female mind. "Elizabeth Carter's mother, Captain," he clarified. "The wife of Peggy Carter's brother. It was she who had the children left at the local church. If she had not died a year later, leaving a codicil in her will pertaining to Lucille and Olivia, we would never have known where they had ended up."

"Why the hell would she..." Steve broke off, checking himself before the outburst got too far out of hand. Once again, he knew getting upset about it was pointless, since nothing could be done to change it. Had he survived and he and Peggy had married... Steve had to stop himself from continuing that train of thought, as there was a good chance he might have ended up being Lucy's grandfather had he lived and not her future spouse. It was almost enough to make his head spin. A long moment passed while Steve tried to absorb and digest this bit of information. The more questions he asked, it seemed the more he prompted, but he was confident all would become clear before long, and it was almost more than he wanted to know, at this point.

"I believe there was a question of respectability," Fury offered by way of explanation, though his own frown proved how stupid he considered that when weighed against the lives of innocent newborns. "Children born out of wedlock, the product of adultery. Elizabeth Carter's mother was very strict in her religious observations, I understand."

"Respectability, of course, because that's so much more important than..." Once again, Steve broke off before he got too far, clenching his jaw to contain the flare of anger before it got out of hand. He possessed a pretty even temperament, which was one of the traits that had been considered when choosing him for the super soldier serum. "I understand," he replied quietly. Not having to glance at a clock to know they were nearly out of time, he moved to his feet. "I appreciate you taking the time to talk to me, sir. I know you have more important matters to tend to than this."

"Not at all, Cap, this has been a pleasant diversion." And he actually seemed to mean that, as well. "I'd appreciate it if you could convince your bride to be that feeding me my own eye patch would be hazardous to her health, however." Again, a flicker of amusement crossed his face as he rose with Steve. "Arrangements will be made to move Dr Broderick's belongings into your apartment, captain, as will the arrangements for your trip to another dimension. I believe you would be more comfortable if the responsibility for your transport to and from the portal was given to Agent Croft?"

Steve chuckled a little at Fury's remark regarding Lucy's temperament, which was exactly the opposite of his own. Maybe that's why they got along so well, because they balanced each other out. "I'm sure she didn't mean that, sir. You know, there was a time when Peg... Agent Carter took a shot at me. Fortunately, I had the shield at the time." The memory of that no longer seemed to bother him, for some reason, though he still didn't quite understand her motive. Women were confusing, even on a good day. "I'd appreciate that, sir," he replied in response to the man's congenial offer, a slightly embarrassed smile at the mention of Croft. "I think Croft would appreciate that."

"You're a brave man," Fury mused, no doubt still considering the volatile nature of Howard Stark's elder children. If only Olivia had shown some of the same spark, he might have been able to meet a Stark who didn't annoy the hell out of him within seconds of saying hello. "I'm sure Croft would appreciate it. Make your travel arrangements through him in the morning, and extend your mutual decisions on the wedding details to my office before you leave. The sooner you two are married, the easier my life will be." He paused, and added, "You and Lucille, that is. Not you and Croft. I think his wife might object to that."

Steve actually chuckled, almost relieved to see that even Nick Fury had a sense of humor beneath the tough exterior. "Maybe I'll give him an autograph. It seems I could almost make a living doing that, if I ever wanted to retire." Though retirement was unlikely any time soon and the furthest thing from his mind. "I trust you'll keep the Stars and Stripes safe while I'm away. It's a bit too flashy to wear on a trip through the portal." He was referring to the uniform and shield that, when worn, made him recognizable as the icon known as Captain America.

"Locked up safe and sound," the Director promised him, though it was hardly necessary. No one but Steve could get into the locker without his personal permission, and the codes were changed weekly. He waved a hand toward the door. "Go on, Cap, get back to your quarters before the doctor wakes up and comes looking for you. You are officially off-duty."

"Thank you, sir. Give my regards to the Council." The mysterious Council, who Steve had yet to meet but who he knew held sway in all official matters and without whose authority, S.H.I.E.L.D. would be nothing more than a rogue operation or a pipedream. He snapped off a salute, ever the good soldier, and back his way toward the door.

Director Fury offered him a somewhat more sedentary salute in answer, his mind already turning to the meeting ahead and the information he had to share. With Steve dismissed from mind, he turned to the screens on the wall, watching as they automatically activated themselves, showing the faces of the Council representatives as the door clicked shut behind Captain America. And he allowed himself a very small smile. Marriage to a Stark was going to be very good for that young man, he could tell. Though he might put in an order to have their quarters given thicker sound-proofing. Arguments and making up should be kept private between man and wife.

((As always, my deepest gratitude to my wonderful partner for indulging me in the above scene, which was enormously huge fun. And thanks to anyone who might be reading!))