It was an accident, mostly. Even Loki had seemed surprised, and as good of an actor as the god was... yeah, no. The incident was just too strange, too downright weird to be truly suspicious of him. Besides, they had the trickster locked up for the moment, though whether said locks would hold was an entirely different matter.
Fury looked in on the room that held the result of that accident: a young Maria Hill.
She was different from the woman he knew, certainly. The Maria Hill he knew was efficient, professional, military. The girl in the room looked torn between bored and nervous. She'd started as the latter, but after half an hour alone in a room that was, for the most part, featureless (save for a mirror that was, obviously, one-way), she'd started to calm down and fidget for lack of anything better to do.
With a final shake of his head, Fury opened the door and walked in. Hill straightened up, fear evident in her eyes (that was another thing that had obviously changed later), and slipped her hands, now shaking, under the table. Fury just raised an eyebrow and sat down in the chair across from her.
He didn't keep talking, just stared at his once-and-future agent. There might have been memories lurking under the young mannerisms, and there might not have been, and he needed to know which was which.
"Um... do I get to ask questions, or...?" Hill trailed off, looking at his eyepatch with curiosity before snapping her head from side to side and looking down at the table. "Sorry. Uh... sir."
"You can ask your questions, but you won't necessarily get answers." Fury shifted. "I'll be asking questions too."
"Okay." The sound was barely more than a squeak, and it was followed by shaky breathing, and all Fury could bring himself to think about was just how damn much the girl before him must have changed to become the woman he knew.
"Maria Hill. Where am I?"
"Somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean. Age?"
"Nineteen. What year is it?"
Fury stilled at that, and looked her in the eye with a gaze slightly more intense than was normal, which was, to be fair, rather intense. She smiled weakly.
"I saw the tech. There's either some kind of timeshift going on, or stuff is more advanced than I'd thought in places where it can be. Like the military, which is what I'm guessing you guys are..."
Fury raised an eyebrow. "2013." He didn't ask a question aimed at digging for information. He didn't want to, not with the way Hill was looking at him. "You think you know what happened?"
"I have a few options floating around." She bit her lip, looking away from him again.
"Spontaneous time travel, clone with replicated memories, immortality plus amnesia, cryo plus amnesia, de-aging, dimensional shift... um..." Hill shook her head. "There were a few others, but I can't remember them. Had a list of them, once."
Fury's eyebrow inched its way up. "A list?"
"I like sci-fi?" Hill shifted nervously again. "It's not... I just remember reading stories where a character would wake up in the future with no idea what was going on, and those were always the time travel stories, or the cryo ones, and sometimes I kind of wondered how many options there really were if a person woke up and it was suddenly a completely different time period but their body was the same? So I made a list in the back of my head."
"And you're guessing it's one of the options you've come up with." Fury summarized, eyeing her again. He could see some of what Hill would become, now. The mannerisms weren't there, but the way of thinking was; she'd covered all the bases for something that was incredibly unlikely to happen just because she could. As an adult, she'd done the same, but for the sake of making contingency plans for agents in the field. 'Anything can happen, no matter how ridiculous it seems.' She'd said it a lot, and been proven right fairly often, even if most of the plans had ended up being unecessary.
"I think I've gotten mostof the options, yeah." Maria rubbed her arm, still looking away. "So, which is it? Or am I completely off the mark?"
"De-aging." Fury didn't beat around the bush. The girl that would one day become his deputy had clearly already come to terms with the idea of something being wrong, and if she had, then it was no skin off his back to tell her which of her plans needed to be put into place.
"There a cure?"
"Not that we know off."
"That's... probably bad."
"You wouldn't consider it a death if you were to be replaced with your older self?"
"It'd be a lot like reversing amnesia, just with a bit of an age-up. Yeah, it's a bit weird and sacrificial, but I think I can... it's the proper course of action." A slip-up, too-casual dialogue, a relaxing that she clearly realized wasn't a good idea, considering the return to more advanced language... and the suddenly chastized posture.
Damn. He hadn't even said anything and the girl was closing in on herself. Not the way abused kids did, thankfully, but definitely a little too aware of authority and verbal backlash.
"We've got a team working on it."
Hill nodded, not looking up. "How long am I going to stay here, then? I can't get back the job I had as an adult while I'm like this, and you can't exactly send me home..."
Stark Tower, Fury thought. Even if SHIELD's scientists got nowhere, the pair of geniuses currently occupying the massive building would... and they knew how to keep a secret when necessary, too."I've got something in mind."
Fury left the room. He had an arrogant genius to call.
A/N: Nothing to really say here. I am not continuing this, but if anyone wants to adopt it, feel free. I just wanted to have a character (a female character) go through a mental process like mine when it comes to the concept of waking up in an unfamiliar time period. Natasha would shoot first, ask questions later, Darcy's too young, and I preferred Hill to the rest of the options.