"You've heard the council. Harry Dresden is out of question," Agent Maria Hill said with the kind of confidence people only ever had when they were perfectly aware that they were out of line but felt justified in it because they thought their boss was being an idiot. Fury knew that feeling better than anyone. It had been his best friend for the better part of his career.

Maria's defiance was perhaps the most obnoxiously efficient he's ever witnessed. Her opinions, on the other hand, could use some refinement.

"Then who does come into question?" he asked, marching down the long twisting hallway of the underground base. Agent Hill followed. "Emil Blonsky? The ant scientist? Oh, wait, how about I give the alien prince a call through my own personal wormhole?"

She didn't humor that with a response. "There's a reason why the council turned him down. Harry Dresden has been a suspect in half a dozen felonies and involved in the disappearance of twice as many people. He's affiliated with an organization we know little to nothing about-"

"-and advertises his services in the phone book," Fury said.

"All the more reason to stay clear of him. What are you going to do? Hand him ten grand in a manila envelope and expect him to cooperate?"

"No more than I expect Tony Stark or Bruce Banner to cooperate." He stopped, having reached his destination, and put a hand on the door handle. Agent Hill showed no sign of turning away.

"I don't like this, sir," she said, arms crossed. "We've got more than enough good agents of our own."

She wasn't really talking about Harry Dresden anymore. This was about his entire recruitment strategy, from favoring Banner over Ross to accepting Romanov into SHIELD. About relying on civilians to do a job that should, by rights, be handled by SHIELD and the military.

"Our agents have little to no experience with those so-called supernatural forces," he said. "They can't predict what a demigod would want and what he'll do next. They can't..." he gestured outwards with his palm, "control the forces of nature. Agent Hill, I think you know as well as I do that we need help."

"I understand that, sir. But of all the supernatural forces we could try to get on our side, Dresden is… He's a wild card at best, a ticking time bomb at worst."

"Would you rather have a ticking time bomb with a hero complex, or an organized group with an agenda?" He looked at her for a moment, gauging her reaction. It still wasn't exactly approving. He knew she would follow orders regardless, and that was enough in most of the people under his command, but with Hill's boldness... yes, she could definitely work on those opinions.

"We would be stupid to trust him." She was giving ground, and she knew it.

"Did I say contact the wizard, or have a goddamn tea party with him?!" he asked, not shouting, but loud enough that his voice echoes through the hall.

She glared, tight-lipped, but said nothing.

"Good. Now that we've cleared that up, arrange for Agent Coulson to pay him a visit."

When Coulson walked up to Fury three days later, carrying a police report that confirmed Dresden has been assassinated, Hill looked positively smug, but she still said nothing.