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the identity crisis of one nicholas j. fury

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Goose stares at him with those big, soulful eyes.

“Listen,” Nick says like the type of lunatics that speak to their pets as if they understand a word they’re saying, “I’m more of a dog person, okay?”

There’s a fucking cat-flerken in his office and Coulson begged off with a sudden cat allergy because while he’ll apparently commit treason and professional misconduct for Nick, that allegiance does not extend to pet-sitting. There is no precedent for alien cats who eat magic energy drives and so SHIELD is leaving the cat-flerken’s fate in Nick’s hands.

Goose chirps at him.

“I’d also like to fucking remind you that you blinded me in one eye.”

Goose’s apparent default response to personal criticism is to jump down off Nick’s desk and rub her orange ass back and forth on Nick’s pant leg.

“No.”

Nick stops by Heartland Pets on the way home to get fucking kitty litter and a tiny bell to stick on the little shit’s collar.

 

 

--

 

 

Every office has a busybody. The 22nd floor of SHIELD headquarters has one named Earl, who drinks his coffee with an amount of cream that would offend Nick’s sensibilities if he were the kind of man who had sensibilities that could be offended. Which he doesn't. He just doesn’t like assholes who think 50% cream to coffee ratio is reasonable.

Unfortunately, on Thursday, Earl pops into Nick’s office to give more unsolicited advice on the Belgrade op that typically would have Nick offering him some unsolicited advice about where he can shove it, except Earl is the lackluster son of the Secretary of Defense who is here primarily because otherwise he’d be manning the counter at a Dunkin’ Donuts. Nick doesn’t care for politics, but he knows when to stow it, so he ignores the droning and mentally puts together the grocery list he was too stubborn to write down as Maria yelled it to him from the shower this morning.

Milk
Eggs
The weird little fruit roll-y things that Monica likes in her lunchbox
Captain Crunch
Bread
Chedd…

“... And you should really get your cat spayed,” Earl says smugly, staring at Goose who is resting a few feet away, licking her paw.

Shit.

Goose eats Earl. Nick files an incident report and takes Goose to the lab to wait for her to barf up Earl because Nick is tired of replacing the accent rug in his office. Finance has gotten really stingy with the office budget lately, and Goose’s cat-flerken vomit reeks.

HR assigns Goose her own incident code and installs a BEWARE OF CAT sign on Nick's office door under his nameplate. Earl stops offering unsolicited advice, and Nick buys Goose one of the new expensive horizontal scratching posts that looks like a wave.

Goose looks way too pleased with herself.

 

 

--

 

 

“I never really saw you as a cat guy,” Tony says, lounging on a couch at the bizarre little Playboy mansion he’s decided to christen the Avengers Compound. Nick would complain more, but he likes it when Tony pays for things, so he’ll stow his opinion on the austentatious decor. “More like, a bird.”

Honestly, Nick sometimes wonders if there is enough reason in the world to put up with Tony Stark because he knows what’s coming next.

(Pepper is, frankly, just as good in the Iron Man suits as Tony is. Better attitude and judgement, too. Iron Woman sounds better anyway, and the team needs a little more diversity.)

“You know…” Tony says, twisting his wrist in a motion that makes it seem like he’s thinking instead of setting up his stupid little joke, “... like a parrot. Finishes the look.”

Nick doesn’t bother responding, but does set Goose loose on Stark’s antique car collection the next time he stops by.

 

 

--

 

 

A Maria at work and a Maria at home… Ave MARIAAAAAAAAAA.

Maria Hill does not find the jokes funny.

It takes her two weeks to pull her gun on one of the smirking officers.

Not much is known about Nick’s private life, but his mother had put an announcement in the paper when he'd gotten married to Maria. Baby, I never thought it would happen! How could you expect me not to let people know my boy was getting married, she had cried into the phone when he’d mentioned that perhaps announcing the marriage of a Deputy Director at SHIELD and a former air force pilot who flew highly classified missions was not the most prudent of ideas (if Carol thought he was going to admit to his mother calling him baby… he’d rather spend the rest of his life stuck in a room with Tony Stark). You don’t tell an sixty-nine year old black woman from Philadelphia what to do, so he’d just bought out all the copies from the newsstand he frequented down the street and said a sweet prayer.

Like most of Nick’s prayers, it went unanswered.

“Say it again,” Hill says, her mouth flat in a way that makes it almost seem like she’s disinterested in the proceedings. “Say Work Wife Maria. Go on.”

The stupid gomers representing a sadly large percentage of the SHIELD staff had gotten a kick out of it when he’d promoted Hill to his second in command because thanks to his mother, the Washington Post, and one of the gossipy little shits in Communications Research, everyone has known his wife’s name is Maria for a few years now. It’s like being back in grade school, only with more heavy weapons.

Simpson, the asshole currently on the other end of Hill’s glock, looks like he’s about to shit his pants, which turns out to be the best part of his day because Barton is causing all kinds of problems in multiple parts of the former Soviet Bloc, something fell from the sky in Brooklyn, Tony Stark’s probably dead on the military’s watch, and Nick just can’t catch a fucking break.

“Sorry,” is all he whispers out, but like most of Hill’s methods, it is exceptionally effective: not a single person makes a single reference to Nick’s wife again. Or fucks with Hill.

HR sends a note to Nick on Hill’s violation of workplace firearm policies and a directive on issuing a written warning for her file. Nick gives her a raise and randomly selects Simpson for the two year reconnaissance mission in Yakutsk.

Enjoy Siberia, asshole.

 

 

--

 

 

It had taken a little over two years to get Maria Rambeau to move from Louisiana to DC. To be honest, Nick hates DC too, which is why he technically lives in Maryland now. That had been one of the conditions of Maria moving in with him: she’d move north, but she wasn’t moving to Washington. In the end, they’d found a nice four bedroom house halfway between Washington and Annapolis, where Maria had landed a decent job with the Naval Academy. It has a magnet school close enough for Monica and a field close enough for helicopter drop off/pick ups, which really helps now that he’s a Director and has an aversion to dealing with fucking assholes on the 595 during rushhour.

“Babe,” she screams up from downstairs early Sunday morning, “do you know where the vacuum is? Your mother is coming over and there’s kitty litter all over the living room! How the hell does she get it all over the floor when her box is down in the basement?”

Babe got a lot of getting used to. It had been Fury at first, Nick after they’d been sleeping together for six months, still Nick when they’d moved in together. Babe emerged sometime after they got married, and he’d been too… something to say anything.

(Whipped. You were whipped, Nick. You’d let her call you whatever the hell she wants.)

Now, despite his better judgement, he likes it.

(The completely smug, amused look on Hill’s face the first time she’d heard Maria call him babe had been like taking a bullet. Not surprisingly, Hill and Maria had hit it off so well that they’d begun their own girls night every month or so. Military women are a tight bunch; Hill calls her Rambo, which never ceases to delight Monica, who now goes by the same nickname.)

Babe!” she yells more shrilly when he fails to answer.

Goose saunters past the way to the cat tree that Maria bought her, her little bell dinging lightly.

“Did you eat the fucking vacuum cleaner?”

 

 

--

 

 

Natasha is the designated Goose-sitter. Over the years, he’s learned the danger of pet motels, gomer SHIELD staff, and their maid Polly. Now, when he goes out of town, he either leaves Natasha his keys or drops Goose off on the way to the airport. Most of the time, they actually schedule their family vacations around Natasha’s schedule to ensure she’s around and not taking out a paramilitary leader that has gotten on Nick’s bad side.

Natasha is weirdly into cats, and most of the time he doesn’t even have to bring over treats if it’s a longer trip and he has to leave her at Natasha’s place. Just gonna catnap and watch some Real Housewives this weekend. Barton’s gonna swing by on Sunday.

Then he comes back from their cruise to the Bahamas (fuck, Nick hates boats, but now that Maria is working with the Navy and Monica has really gotten into ships, he’s forced to swallow his annoyance and step onto them on occasion), and Goose vomits up a UGM-133 Trident II ballistic missile onto their new oriental rug and half of the foyer.

“What the fuck have you been doing with my cat?” Nick barks into the phone as Natasha laughs and hangs up.

Next time, he gives the cat to Sharon Carter.

(That time she barfs up a rocket launcher and a hydra agent and Nick gives up.)

 

 

--

 

 

Fury never saw himself as a kid person.

Maria had been cautious about introducing Monica to him as more than just that guy who came with the aliens, only broaching the subject around the time where she was considering his second request that she move up to DC with him. Most of the trips he took to visit her were timed with Monica going to stay with her maternal grandparents for the weekend, so his exposure to Monica had been limited to a few times that were explained off by Maria as friendly follow-ups to their galactic adventures.

He’d wondered at the time if it was because she’d been burned by men in the past, if it was because of the deadbeat dad that doesn’t bother to send Monica birthday cards or the few relationships she’s talked about in the past. But as he gets to know Maria more and understands the role that Carol played in their lives, Nick realizes that Monica has lost a parent before; it was just never the shitty father that Nick would really like to track down and pound into the ground.

And at first, Nick had been fine with it. He’s never liked complications, didn’t want to get married or have kids, never really been a guy that most kids liked anyway, so he was fine being kept separate. But once it got serious, it felt more like another reason for Maria not to take the next step.

So he pressed the issued, and surprisingly, Maria bent.

In the end, it had been anticlimactic anyway. Monica had just shifted her eyes back and forth between them and said, Yeah, I know. Duh, mom. Though his biology classes were quite firm on the issue, Nick’s seen some weird shit, and he’s pretty sure Monica is Maria and Carol’s offspring. She definitely got her mouth from Carol, anyway.

But now, he’s marrying Maria, actually moving them up to the house in Maryland that he made sure had a pool in the backyard because Monica’s gotten into swimming. They’re going to be living in a house together, he’s going to be… well, a parent. He thinks. Honestly, he’d be less nervous conducting a covert war than having this conversation.

“What should I call you?” Monica says, staring at her hands, strangely nervous herself. Technically, Monica has a father in New Orleans, but she hasn’t seen him since she was four and doesn’t remember him at all. He knows she’s asking him if he expects her to call him Dad. He loves Monica - his mother’s always said he’s got a soft spot for smartmouths - but he’s pretty sure he’s going to fuck this up spectacularly.

Nick takes a deep breath.

“Call me whatever you want, sweetheart,” he says.

 

 

--

 

 

“Why is there a cat in your office?”

Nick looks up from the status report on smuggled Kree weaponry to find Tony Stark standing in his office door. This is the very reason he hired Evan, an unflappable man who is apparently the only person in SHIELD other than Coulson who does not find Tony Stark intimidating and/or alluring, which limits the number of unintended drop-ins he gets.

But Evan got the flu, Nick got a temp, which has resulted in a very obnoxious white man standing in his office, touching his things.

Stark reaches out to touch the cat’s head - likely more out of curiosity than anything else - but Goose ducks out of reach, turning around to peer at Stark through her whipping tail. Oh, how he’d love to see Goose eat Stark, but that’s a headache he doesn’t need today.

“Security detail,” Nick says instead.

“Hmm.” It is rare that Stark doesn’t have a comeback, but considering the sunglasses that he is wearing in doors (because of course he is), Fury can only guess that he is nursing somewhat of a hangover. This man is about 20 seconds from self-destruction, and he’s pretty sure the only thing keeping him from the hit rock bottom is Pepper.

“Is there a reason you’re here?” Nick asks. “Beside the fact that my assistant wasn’t here to taze you before you walked in the door?”

“Can’t a friend drop in to say hello?”

“No.”

Stark picks up the card on his desk, the one he keeps next to the photo of Monica’s graduation day from MIT with him and Maria bracketing a smiling Monica. He doesn’t normally do knickknacks or mementos, but he’s gained the photo, the card, a cat bed, and a succulent that Maria gave him because she said the office needed greenage and he’s killed every plant he’s ever owned.

The grin that spreads on Stark’s face makes Fury’s stomach twist. “Does this say NICKY?”

(Now Monica just calls him Dad, but it’s been nearly ten years since she gave him that card.)

Nick snatches the card out of Stark’s hands.

“Get out of my office.”

 

 

--

 

 

Nick absolutely does not cry the night a boy comes to pick up Monica for the prom. He’d promised Monica to play it cool, but he had absofuckinglutely background checked Eddie Chu so thoroughly he’d practically given the kid a personal proctology exam.

Give me a reason, he thinks, staring the kid down as he opens the door to the limo for Monica. Maria just pats his chest and walks back through the front door, leaving Nick and Goose to watch the retreating brake lights of the limo as it takes off down the street.

“Don’t eat him,” Nick says to Goose, who promptly throws up Nick's missing firearm. “Yet.”

Meow, Goose replies.

“That's Fury to you, buddy.”

 

 

--

 

 

There’s a goddamn fucking Black Widow sitting in interrogation.

Barton is looking way too casual for a man that just brought in - very much alive - the person he was assigned to kill. He has an obnoxious tendency to go straight into aggressive casualness when he’s pulled the most monumental fuck-ups, and it’s driven six partners away and gotten Barton a file that should have earned him a dishonourable discharge a decade ago. It’s part of the reason the Rangers were so eager to hand him over to Nick.

“I’ve always wanted to know,” Barton says, playing with the head of an arrow. “What’s the J stand for?”

The non-sequitur throws Nick for a loop. Ten second ago, Nick had been reading him the riot act and Barton had been shrugging his way through questions about why the young woman in the interrogation room has a minor leg wound instead of a fatal head shot. Fury does not have the patience to deal with this shit today.

“It stands for Just mind your own fucking business, Barton.”

Barton smiles. Fuckin’ little shit.

“Keep pressing your luck,” Nick says. “I’ll feed you to my cat.”

Barton holds up his hands in mock surrender.

Nick finally understands why Barton couldn’t take the shot when he enters the interrogation room. The woman is shackled to the chair and the table, but he knows what an abyss looks like, and this woman, whoever she truly is, is the kind of bleak, broken black that sits at the bottom of a deep one. But he also sees the spark, the kind of spark you need to turn someone back. For some reason he will never be able to parse, he instantly likes her.

“What’s your name?” Nick asks even though he’s got a file under his hand thick as a bible. He knows what’s on her birth certificate, all the names they’ve given her since and stripped off of her. The day he’d been briefed on the new information they’d gathered about the Black Widow program, he’d gone home and sat in Monica’s bedroom, watching her sleep for an hour before Maria had gotten concerned and dragged him to bed.

He knows what they’ve made her do.

“They don’t like names,” she says back. “But I have many. And none at all.”

“Mine’s Nick,” he replies, surprising even himself.

(Natasha always calls him Fury. Nick knows it’s a sign of respect.)

 

 

--

 

 

Steve Rogers just calls him Sir all the time.

Nick approves.

 

 

--

 

 

“NICKY JAY,” Tony yells down the hall at Nick, and his hand twitches for his firearm. However, they’ve already had three firearm accidents this month and Nick really does not want to have to endure another Health & Safety audit with HR.

“Call me that again, and I will have you killed,” Nick says as Tony passes him, blowing Nick a kiss. (“Really, Tony?” he hears Pepper hiss at Tony, striding away and forcing Tony to double-time it to keep up.)

Natasha wanders over and sits across from Nick at the table, cradling what looks like a cup of green tea. “I can do that, you know,” she says casually. “The number of deaths caused by accidental hair dryer electrocutions has grown by 3.4% in the continental United States in the last 5 years.” She shrugs. “No one would suspect a thing.”

This is why Natasha is his favourite.

 

 

--

 

 

Nick knows his day is about to get a lot worse when Coulson steps into his office and can’t quite seem to make eye contact. When he puts the slim report down onto his desk and flips open the cover, Nick feels the start of a migraine begin behind his right eye.

Unfortunately, Stark’s obnoxious little claws have sunk themselves into nearly every facet of life thanks to the disgusting number of subsidiary and shell companies Stark Industries owns. Back in the early 90s, Stark acquired Nickelodeon from Viacom because they were threatening to axe The Ren & Stimpy Show.

Now, it seems, they have debuted a new show to the best ratings seen by a Nickelodeon animated program in nearly a decade.

“I’m sorry, sir,” Coulson says solemnly, but with an edge that makes it sound like he is trying so desperately not to laugh.

Nick doesn’t bother telling Coulson to get out; the nice thing about their partnership is that Coulson knows exactly when to get out of Nick’s metaphorical hair. By the time he looks up from the ridiculous screenshot of an animated bulldog with a fucking eyepatch, Coulson is gone and Goose is sitting on the couch in the northeast corner of his office, bathing in the sun.

Goose & Fury: Pet Detectives. In the animal underworld, only two furry friends stand between anarchy and law & order. This unlikely pairing….

...Goose, a ginger hellcat with a penchant for breaking the rules…

… and Fury, an American bulldog with a bad attitude and one eye...

Nick snatches up the phone so hard it nearly cracks in his hand.

“What?” Natasha says with the delicacy of a dumptruck as she picks up. It sounds like she’s punching meat, so he’s probably catching her in the middle of something unpleasant.

“How many hair dryers does Stark own?”

 

 

--

 

 

Pierce had called him Nick. This, he muses, is why you don’t let people call you by your first fucking name.

There’s a contingency plan for this kind of thing, which he’s intensely grateful for. Maria meets him at the safehouse in Colorado after the Triskelion falls, and the agony he can see on her face lets him know that the news of his death got to her before Hill did. It’s too dangerous to try and pull Monica out - NASA is a civilian agency, but she’s been working on a joint NASA-DoD project for the last three years, so the leash they keep her on is tight. Instead, he pulls strings and has Barton keep eyes on her until he’s relatively sure his cover story has been bought and she’s safe.

This is also how he discovers she’s been seeing the Carter boy, but if there’s one person he’d trust not to be Hydra, it’s Peggy Carter’s grandson. He’s still not thrilled, but after the professor from Berkeley who turned out to be a world class fucker, he’ll learn to accept it.

Goose eats twenty-six Hydra agents and shows up at the safehouse a week later.

 

 

--

 

 

Being dust really fucking sucks, you know?

Motherfucker.

 

 

--

 

 

Normally, most people would be surprised to walk into a nursery and find a human nightlight making the room glow.

Not in the Fury-Rambeau-Carter household.

Nick and Maria have been in Houston for the past month helping Monica with the twins. They’d been preemies, coming before he and Maria had planned to come down to help out anyway. By the time they got to the hospital, they’d already been sleeping soundly in the little clear boxes they keep preemies in, CARTER, CAROL M., and CARTER, NICOLE G. written above their tiny bodies.

Carol’s staring down into her namesake’s crib this time, reaching out a glowing finger to touch the sleeping newborn while Goose watches from her perch in the corner. When Carol looks up at Nick, he swears her eyes look glassy. Carol is not a crier, and he secretly loves that she looks choked up. Finally, something has broken Carol goddamn Danvers, and it’s a sleeping four week old.

But Fury should have known that nothing in the known - and unknown - universe could ever break Carol’s mouth

“You're not going to make them call you Fury, are you?” Carol asks with a terribly smug grin.

Nick lets out a deep sigh.

“You can eat her,” he says to Goose.