1963-06-29 - What exactly are you asking, here?
Summary: Nick Fury summons Sam Wilson to discuss a cryptic 'special project.'
Related: Howard mentions a secret initiative to Sam and Steve
Theme Song: None
sam fury 

New York City just before lunchtime. It's just before the heat of the summer hits, just before the lunchcrowd comes in on their breaks, but it's also when there is just enough staff and they're prepping for the lunch rush. As a result, it's pretty easy for Nick Fury to find a spot in the place AND also to be pretty much ignored from all but one or two of the kitchen staff in the back. For his little bit of 'contact', Nick's scored a basket of pretzels.

Field Agent Fury's asked one of his SHIELD colleagues for a little sit-down chat. Details were vague, to say the least, on the missive. A break for lunch, a checking in on 'things', and a discussion of potential career endeavors.


Sam Wilson enters the bar wearing a cream button-up, camel slacks, and a carefully composed neutral expression. He's been in Hell's Kitchen more than he'd like, but he hasn't been to this bar before, so he doesn't know quite what to expect from the staff or the clientele. He just knows that he was summoned by another SHIELD agent, one he doesn't know well, and even that could mean anything.

Some people in the Division were all about results, and getting the flying suit into working shape after only six weeks or so in testing garnered Wilson respect from that quarter. Of course, others resented Director Carter's patronage, and retroactively decided that risking life and limb in Howard Stark's winged deathtrap had been a plum assignment all along. Not that even the latter group would invite him to a bar just to jump him — but Sam has seen convivial hazing turn bad enough times to be wary, all the same.

He makes his way to the back of the bar, avoiding eye contact with anyone he doesn't know, and takes a seat across from Fury. "Afternoon," he greets the other man with a quick nod. "I hear you wanted to see me. Is this about Steve, or Stark's project?" Even that little tidbit will give him a better idea of what to prepare for from this chat.


Now conversely, this is where Nick was born, raised, and returned after the war. Those people in the back kitchen? The daughter of babysitter. Another? The son of his parents' friend's neighbor. Everyone knows each other here in this neighborhood; knows their business, knows their families…

His head rises when he sees the man entering the place, and his single eye narrows a little in consideration. His jaw shifts and sets, and he hunkers down just a little in his seat, forearms on the table. Nothing in his hands.

Brows rise at the perceived 'Okay, let's get this over with' starting, and he pushes the basket of pretzels an inch towards Sam. "Yeah, it's a nice day. I think it's gonna shape up to be a little more humid than yesterday, though. Before next week, I think they're gonna open the plugs for the kids." He's making a point before he lowers his voice, "You don't see the outside too much, do you kid?"

Nick shakes his head and sits up. "Stark's little project," he murmurs thoughtfully. "Yeah, your name was in the pile he gave me."


"I spend plenty of time outside," Wilson answers, his manner still guarded, but his voice a touch wry. "Just pretty high up, for the most part. You saying I should take a vacation?" He tilts his head to one side. "Because it feels to me like there's still plenty to do."

He doesn't let that hang for long before glancing down, taking one of the pretzels, and starting to munch on it. See? He can relax. Look how relaxed he is.

After a second, once his mouth is empty again, he continues, "Howard Stark put my name in a pile? That could be a good thing. Is this about that thing he was talking about? Some kind of special project?" Sam squints as he tries to remember whether he got any details out of the wealthy inventor. The situation got pretty eventful immediately afterward, so his recollection isn't perfect. "I think he mentioned it to both Steve and me. Not quite sure what kind of special project we would both be suited for, though."


Nick gives the man a long stare before he sits back, keeping his voice down. "Stark tell you about this 'special project', little brother?" He leans forward again, his head ducked slightly, "Because it means if anyone, and I mean anyone gets wind of this, we're all goin' down. And I sure as hell am not goin' down. Stark can say and do whatever the hell he pleases. It's us that if this shit isn't done right, it's gonna land our asses where we don't want them to be. Even Ms. Carter won't be able to help us."

Here, Fury smiles, but it's not an amused one. It's more… a feral one. One designed to bring a person in on false hopes, only to pounce seconds later. "It's a job you sure as hell are suited for. And you aren't the only one. It's gonna be an addition to your already full plate, but you are gonna be playing with the newest fucking toys out there. Stuff even SHIELD hasn't dreamed up yet." Nick pauses before, "And you'll be doin' good. There are some scary motherfucking assholes out there now, and even SHIELD can't deal with 'em all. So, Stark's project."


"He didn't say anything about what it was," Sam answers, sounding even more cautious than before after Fury's cryptic comments — although he's clearly curious. "I figured he needed people to test some new piece of tech." That would fit with 'newest fucking toys,' but the rest of it? This sounds bigger than any tech he has ever been involved with.

"Carter has been good to me, no question, and I'm grateful for it," Wilson continues, leaning forward, "but that doesn't mean I need her protection to get the job done." After a slight pause, he grabs a pretzel and adds, "Assuming I take it. So what exactly are you asking, here?"


"No. He needs an operator. I need an operator. Someone who knows what the hell they're doin' and can be part of a team." Nick lays it out before he sits up companionably and takes a small handful of pretzels in a grab. "Someone who's smart. Someone who can look their teammate in the eye because he knows he's just as fucking valuable as the next guy."

A deep breath is taken, and Nick lets it out slowly. "She's good, but we don't need her to fight our battles. Her job is to keep on giving us the same jobs as she gives the others and let us prove that we're just as good if not better. That's the fight." It's his statement regarding 'protetion' that brings a more honest smile out of the former sergeant, now Field Agent. "Of course you're gonna take it. You're eyes in the sky, little brother. You see what no one else does."


Sam finishes off his pretzel and props his elbows up on the table, entwining his fingers and leaning forward. "Okay. You're talking about field work. Aerial recon. Only other person I know you're interested in is Steve, so I can see what you mean about needing someone who isn't going to be intimidated by his teammates." Again, that touch of wry humor. Still, it's obvious from his expression that Wilson is giving this very serious consideration.

"Sounds like we're not reporting directly to Carter, which means it's deniable, which means it's something covert — maybe even illegal," he says, even-handed in his assessment. "Which means on the one hand, guys like us don't have to be sidelined to keep things 'respectable.' On the other, lots of risk, like you said. And no offense, but I don't know your motives."

He sits back, drumming his fingers on the tabletop, a quick skiffle beat. "I have to know that it's volunteer, mission by mission. If I don't like targeting the people you're targeting, I'm out. I'm not going to end up playing attack dog for the next Joe McCarthy."


Nick listens to the assessment, and in the face of it, is almost impassive. Almost. He allows, once again, that ghost of a smile. "You're right. I am considering Rogers. I'd be a fool not to. There's others on my list of eight." And there's another bit of information given. He's giving it out, bit by bit. It's contained.

"Carter's not gonna know about it." A statement. Not 'can't' or 'I don't want her to..', it's 'she won't'. "Covert doesn't mean illegal. It means exactly what it says. Covert. Quiet. No one needs to know until the right time, then everyone is gonna know. This, right now, is to protect all our asses."

Motives? Nick leans forward on the table again, his forearm flat in front of him. "Boy, I came out of the war, leading a well known group of commandos. The lieutenants I had, I saved each and every one of those sorry asses. Why? Because it was the right thing to do. I coulda gotten field promotion after field promotion, but I was passed up because I made their white asses look good. Now? Now there's a chance again to be good and be on the side of right. And I'm the man. But, it can't be done alone. I'm not gonna send you into some fucking rice paddy. This team is bigger than that, and you'd better damned well believe that even if you don't see the big picture, someone else does." Fury will. "I won't send my people in somewhere that'll get us all killed." Beat. "Or worse."


"I could get killed in Alabama," Sam says with a dismissive shrug, sardonic as ever. "If I sat around worrying about that, I'd never have time to do anything else. No, I don't care where you send me. What I'm worried about is being sent to spy on some harmless beatnik because he wrote a poem that looks a little pink if you squint." The slang term for communist-leaning liberal is a little old, but it gets the point across.

Putting one finger down to the tabletop, Wilson sums up his position: "If you want me defending people from real threats, I'm all for it. If this is just a project to shore up somebody's political career, count me out. And if you're going after guys like Rogers, I don't think you're going to get different answers from them."

The additional information about just what this project entails is filed away carefully, but Sam doesn't react to it just yet. Better to wait and see where this goes.


"There's already an agency that does that. Maybe you heard of 'em. Called the FBI." Nick's tones are flat now, and the hint of a smile disappears. "I will say one thing, and let me be clear about it. If you think I'm some political lapdog, the door is that way." A hand is lifted and the finger points in the direction of, yes, the door. "If you think I'm stupid, there's the door. I know what sort of response I'm gonna get from every single person I have a file on." Oh yes, he's got files. From Stark. "In advance. You see, I do my homework. It's what's kept me alive in the field." Amongst other things.

"If you're in, then you're in. You got 24 hours to give me your final answer. I'm not much in the SHIELD office, but I'll check in to look for your answer if you need time."


Wilson thinks it over for a second, drumming with his fingertips again, then shrugs once more. "I don't think I need time. I just wanted assurance that this wasn't that kind of gig. Hard to tell, sometimes, which projects are going to be worth everyone's energy and which won't." He sits back and gives Fury the smallest of smiles. "If you're just as welcoming as that when someone comes along trying to waste our time — which you and I both know is going to happen eventually — we should get along just great." He reaches down to get another pretzel, then concludes, "Count me in."


"I don't like wasting my time," Nick says slowly. "If someone comes sniffing around, you better believe I got your back." And he means it. He, too, takes a couple of pretzels in hand before he starts to get to his feet. "Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got a few more conversations I need to have." Extending his hand once he's on his feet, "Nice to have you on board." Beat. "Remember. Carter will not know."

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