Somewhere Deep in the Bowels of the S.H.I.E.L.D Hover Base

"He wants... What?" Nick Fury looked up from the hapless stacks of paperwork before him, turning his one dark eye on the messenger before him with such a look of simultaneous incredulity and hurt on his face that the woman in question felt very nearly perturbed on his behalf.

'His own apartment,' she said, and resisted the urge to pass a box of kleenex from the top of her cleaning cart. "In Manhattan, to be exact. He thinks it's time.'

"Time for what, exactly? And he has his own apartment! Right upstairs! What does he need another one for? ' A rather disturbing thought popped into Fury's head even as he spoke the last words; he sat up abruptly. "He's not seeing someone is he? One of the new Lieutenant Healeys, maybe? Stark recommended them when I mentioned that I was really beginning to wonder about him and Banner. I'm really not sure that the base is designed to withstand their kind of blossoming romance.'

'Not that I know of,' the housekeeper said, as primly as the originator of the delivered request could have managed it. "And I think that you may rest assured on the subject of Dr. Banner, at least, Director. I've been cleaning Captain Rogers' rooms for six months now, and there has been not the slightest hint of inappropriate or illicit subtext involved in their mutual phone calls and Skype chats.'

Fury eyed her suspiciously. The housekeeper returned his narrow look without comment. That last took real and concerted effort; the esteemed Director of S.H.I.E.L.D, she couldn't help but think (as per the specific conversation she'd overheard between the two superheroes in question the last time she'd been polishing her charge's own shield) could be quite astoundingly naive on occasion. Tony Stark's motives on recommending the Lieutenant Healey twins as potential antidotes to the temporally-displaced Roger's chronic moping on having missed his famed date were about as subtle as the (reportedly) aptly-named Pepper Potts' famed Daisy Dukes. Fury wasn't the only one who'd wondered on the unlikely friendship developing between Captain-Tall-Blond-And-Handsome and Dr. Taller-Greener-and-How-The-Hell-Do-Those-Shorts-Manage-To-Stay-On-Him-Every-Single-Time-He-Channels-His-Inner-Premenstruating-Bitch... Fortunately for Stark, his girlfriend not only had a perfect ass and a knack for investments that wouldn't quit, but the kind of unhealthily creative mind

guaranteed to ensure long years of accommodating, tolerant and intrigued mutual happiness.

"Well that's something, anyway,' Fury said finally. 'The question remains though. Why would he want another apartment? There's absolutely nothing wrong with the one he's got, and he doesn't even have to pay rent!'

"I don't think he's actually expecting to pay rent,' the housekeeper said delicately. "Or rather, he' hoping that he'll start drawing a salary to help him there. A not unreasonable request, Director, considering all the overtime he put in scrubbing up after the Chitauri. Never mind all the effort he put into scrubbing the Chitauri in the first place.'

Fury slumped in his chair, glowering. "He could just have come to me,' he muttered. "We're supposed to be friends. Effective communication is important between friends.'

"You're still friends,' the housekeeper reassured him maternally. "He just felt it a bit of a delicate matter, is all, and he knows that I clean your office too, every day, besides. This way he didn't have to go through your secretary for an appointment.'

'What's he got against my secretary?'

'Absolutely nothing, save for the fact that she'd love to have something against him. Something wearing her uniform, and her name-tag, and with a decided lack of what he calls the appropriate air of feminine mystery?'

"Oh for... They broke something when they enhanced him, I swear.'

"Mm. What shall I tell him?'

'That he's a grown man, and he may be government issue, but that doesn't make him government property. And I'm supposed to prevent him from going besides? How, exactly, would that work again?'

'Salary?' the housekeeper prompted.

"Yeah, yeah. He'll get his by-gosh-and-golly salary. Just make sure you tell him that I expect an invitation to the housewarming party in return...'