How would you react, if one day you just lost a son?
Sixty seconds since hijacking. Out of the corner of his eye, Fury watched as James Rogers dropped to his knees, unable to handle the sacrilegious sight of Brando's craft turning to dust and ash in midair. The alarm's blare became a backdrop to the collective thumping of the deck's heartbeat. Communications officers, working away desperately.
"Helicarrier to Top Gun, come in--"
"--Top Gun, this is Helicarrier, do you read--"
Without realizing it, Fury's hands had been clutched on the railing of the observation deck. Fury couldn't turn his head, but he knew that Erin Banner watched in a stunned moment of disbelief, maybe still unsure of what was happening, or maybe still unconvinced. That seemed to be the general mood around the deck: for the first time, the Helicarrier had been hacked, its defenses crushed like a used red Solo cup, and now one of SHIELD's best and brightest floated through the air amongst the wreckage of his ship.
One hundred twenty seconds.
Most likely, Brando had been vaporized on impact, and even now the atoms that had once made up his fists, his tattoo with some stupid Latin phrasing about family, that indomitable grin, maybe those atoms were pounding away on the windshield of the Helicarrier even now. Natalie Rook was behind him, too: Fury had watched on camera with a rare smile on his face as Natalie handed Barton the jacket that his namesake had worn on the set of some old 50s movie. Brando had always been a huge Cold War culture nut; Fury had just sat and stared as he moved in and hugged her, watched as Natalie went in for a kiss and felt at her new jewelry. Somehow, the sniper had stolen it from the Queen Anne's Revenge. The kid was crazy; that's what made him the best.
Clint Barton had survived the Phoenix debacle purely through luck: though he was immensely trained, one of the best SHIELD had ever had, he had only survived through the saving grace that he had no superpowers, or anything otherwise that would draw Jean Grey's attention to him. Fury remembered the cold chill - the same one he felt now, as a matter of fact - as Barton's airplane had hurtled down to the ground in some god-forsaken South African jungle, and Fury remembered the last words Hawkeye had ever said to him, semi-conscious and staring the fact that he was about to die directly in the face with his typical devil-may-care cockiness:
"Take care of my boy, Nick."
And so he had, just like he had all of the children of the Avengers. Katherine Barton had crashed along with him, and she hadn't popped up since the accident, all those thirteen years ago, but the rest of the kids Fury had taken care of, even if they didn't know it. James and Brando, in particular, were hands off cases. Fury had watched as they both came into their own, slowly became the kings of their respective high schools, became almost mirror images of their legendary ancestors. Though they didn't know it, here and there - through scholarships directed through shady means, through backroom deals and random windfalls of cash into the family checking accounts - SHIELD had taken care of them as they would their own, because, quite simply, they were their own.
The first time he had appeared to Barton, the future marksman had been a high school graduate, fresh out of three varsity sports and the world ahead of him. Already, he was a shoe-in for future NFL wide receiver, and he had a budding baseball career going for him, if he wanted it. Indeed, when Fury had first laid eyes - or eye - on the young prospect, he'd been throwing shot glasses up into the air, knocking them off the balcony with a vintage Louisville Slugger. He hadn't said a word as Fury had explained who he was, what his father did, and, most importantly, why Brando Barton was destined to be in SHIELD. He'd smirked at that one, and then Fury had posed the question:
"What do YOU wanna do with your life, Marlon?"
Brando's smirk had upped a notch as he plucked another glass from the balcony railing and waved it in Fury's face. It'd been high quality glass, as he recalled: crystalline and smooth, he had seen a perfect reflection of his own face and stared into it, saw how intimidating he looked to the average Joe, and how Brando had reacted to him as though he were the quarterback on a football field, two beings connected as one to fulfill a goal. The perfect epitome of what SHIELD was.
"I wanna knock this shot glass all the way across the street, into the neighbor's yard."
Brando had tossed the glass up into the air and then swung the bat, with all his might, into the glass. It had splintered and broke, and Fury saw his reflection split into a thousand lesser pieces as the largest chunk of glass flew, bounced a couple times off the street, gradually chipping as it did so, and then rolling to a stop in the neighbor's grass. Barton had turned to him, chuckling, and shrugged.
"There we go. Life made."
Four minutes since hijacking. By now, they were flying through the wreckage of what was once Barton's ship. Smoke and ash clouded the observation deck for about a half a second before sliding away. If anything remained of Brando, even an atom, it had just become permanently tattooed to the Helicarrier. Fury thought again of the jacket Brando had just received not an hour ago, all the money it had been worth. Marlon had loved Cold War culture: he wouldn't have sold it for the world, and now its ashes floated amongst his own, tattooed to the observation deck windows.
There we go.
And all at once, Nick Fury realized that he'd lost a son.