Standard Fanfic Disclaimer that wouldn't last ten seconds in a court of law: these aren't my characters (other than Doris, who appears in some of my other Avengers stories). This story is based on characters and situations from The Avengers and Men in Black 3, inspired by an Internet meme which I'd link to if I knew how. (Sorry, cyber-illiterate.) Originally published in the fanzine Diamonds and Dynamite #2, from Agent with Style Press.

Condolence Call

by Susan M. M.

The Avengers/Men in Black 3

Spoiler Warning: do not read this story unless you have seen both The Avengers AND Men in Black 3.

Nick Fury was dead tired. Bone-weary. Soul-weary. He didn't want to think about how many of his agents had been killed in the past week. He didn't want to think about how many civilians had been killed, or how much of Manhattan had been destroyed.

Right now, he was too tired to want to think. Unless it was to think of his pillow ... that, he could manage. Frost's words ran through his head: For I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep.

It could have been worse. It would have been a lot worse, if Tony Stark hadn't stopped the council's idiotic plan to destroy the Chitauri by dropping a nuclear bomb on Manhattan. Stark had saved the city, and risked his own life to do so. Fury hadn't thought he had it in him.

Phil Coulson would have disagreed. Coulson had spent a lot of time liaising with Pepper Potts. He'd insisted, based on Ms. Potts' assessment, that Tony Stark was growing up. Maria Hill had disagreed. She considered Stark a loose cannon and complained that he needed to act his age instead of his shoe size. Hill and Coulson had had several discussions on the subject - discussions that had occasionally come close to knock-down, drag-out fights. They'd never have another argument. They never play another chess game. They'd never get together after a hard mission and relax with a DVD of The Court Jester or Pardon My Sarong or Duck Soup.

"The pellet with the poison's in the vessel with the pestle; the chalice from the palace has the brew that is true," Fury recited under his breath.

He knew his secretary had a pile of condolence letters on his desk for him to sign. After Loki's puppets had attacked the heli-carrier, Doris was probably typing even more letters. He wasn't sure they even had a full casualty count yet. But Phil Coulson - Coulson deserved more than just a form letter. Fury logged on to his computer and accessed personnel records to double-check Coulson's next of kin. He'd met Coulson's mother before, but as tired as he was, he didn't trust himself to remember his own mother's name.

Ophelia Coulson.

Fury pushed the intercom button. "Doris."

"Yes, sir?" Agent Doris Straczynski replied.

"Get me MiB headquarters. I need to speak to Agent O as soon as possible. If I could see her in person, that would be better."


Ave atque vale, Phil Coulson

Author's Note: I saw something on Facebook. In the first picture, Agent K of MiB was on the phone. He said, "I heard you were having some trouble in New Mexico. Need any help, son?" In the second picture, Agent Phil Coulson of SHIELD replied, "No, thanks, Dad, we've got it covered." After seeing Men in Black 3, I just knew who Phil Coulson's mother had to be. However, between the time I wrote the story, it was published in a fanzine, old enough to post on-line, the events of Agents of SHIELD changed the situation just a little.