A/N Well, we're finally at the end of this story, but if people want to read more, let me know and I'll continue with a new story. This just felt like a good place to stop this one. Thanks again to all who read and reviewed, followed and faved. This is such a great show, isn't it? Take care, all!

Chapter 8.

The next morning Skye sat patiently at Coulson's desk waiting for him to finish his shower. She knew he was at a very low spot in his life, and she wasn't about to let him go through it alone. A few minutes after she heard the water shut off he entered the room dressed in faded blue jeans and a v-necked sweater. Surprised and smiling, she teased him gently.

"Didn't know you owned anything that didn't look brand new." She told him. He glanced at her and made an attempt to smile, but failed miserably. She noticed him struggling to tie his sneakers and bent down to help. He sighed, frustrated.

"I'm not five." He said crankily. Skye ignored him and finished tying. Then she stood up and faced him.

"No, you aren't." She said patiently. "But, you need a little help in your life right now. I know you've always stood alone, AC. This time, however, you've got some help – me. And I'm not going anywhere because I do love you, whatever that may mean to you. Deep down I think you know how this is supposed to work. You're just too stubborn to admit that this time you are the recipient of the support, not the giver of it." Her words seemed to strike a hidden chord in his psyche. His face took on an open, starkly lost look. She stepped forward without thought and placed her hands on either side of his face. Not hesitating a moment, she brought his head down and kissed him. When he didn't pull away, Skye took it as a sign, and deepened the kiss as she pressed her body into his and she felt his arms go around her. When they both finally needed air, she felt him step back and he looked at her uncertainly.

"Skye, I can't handle pity right now." He said slowly and deliberately. He wanted to be as honest as he could with her. Skye smiled and ran her hand down his chest to his waist.

"Is it pity when I adore your smile? Or when I'm standing close to you and just your smell makes my knees weak? Is it pity when I crave your touch?" She told him. He looked surprised.

"You…you could have any man you wanted." He said simply. "Handsome, tall…. younger." He didn't get it yet.

"AC, I know in books and movies that's how it always seems to go. But, I'm telling you that not all women are after that, are turned on by that." She smiled at him. "When you solve complex situations by putting several different variables in the correct order, I am turned on. When you talk to a man who is going to die and try to make him less afraid, it turns me on. When you are compassionate to your coworkers and fight for them even if it gets you in trouble, it excites me. It's what you've made of yourself, Phil Coulson. Not what you look like, even though from what I've seen that's not too bad either."

She smoothed her hands around his torso and grinned when he groaned softly. They came together again in a much more passionate kiss.

"The door's locked." She whispered sweetly in his ear and that was pretty much all it took. He broke away from her to hit the button that folded out his bed. Then with great care he undressed her and she him. It wasn't a hurried thing. They stopped to enjoy each other's bodies along the way. His incision on his hip was small and healing. She discovered that his scars were sensitive, but not painful for him. He carefully avoided touching her deeper, healing wounds. She discovered what a thorough lover he was, as he enjoyed giving her pleasure as well as enjoying what she gave him. It was tender, sweet and life-affirming. It was what they both needed.

"Well, I'm glad that creep is out of here." Fitz said as he watched the S.H.I.E.L.D. team take the factory worker off the bus and into custody. "It's just a shame we couldn't find anything at that damn factory."

"I wish Agent Coulson would come down." Jemma said looking up. "I want to make sure that wound is healing well."

"He'll be fine, Jemma." Ward said gently. He knew how much she worried about them all and felt responsible. He was still a little put off that Coulson had been so adamant about not going to a medical facility. He himself, had been tortured at one time, but it hadn't left him a mess like the older agent seemed to be. "Where's Skye?" he said tersely.

May shot him a look. She knew what he was trying to do and she would have none of it. Just then the computerized phone on the holotable buzzed. She was closest, so she hit the button to answer.

Director Nick Fury appeared on the vertical display looking larger than life.

"May," he said looking at the team with his one eye. "I need you in New York."

"Yes, Director Fury," May replied. "Did you want to speak with Agent Coulson, sir?"

"Not necessary." He replied firmly. "How long?" May calculated quickly.

"Three hours, sir." She told him.

"I'll need to talk to you, Coulson and that consultant. Make sure they appear, May." Fury's face disappeared as he disconnected the call. Everyone looked around uneasily.

"Are they going to be in trouble?" Jemma asked worriedly.

May just looked blank-faced. Coulson and Skye took that moment to appear. He was back in a fresh suit and she looked freshly showered and somehow different. They both seemed more relaxed than they had in a long time.

"What's up?" Skye asked, raising her eyebrows at the serious group.

"Nick Fury just called." Fitz informed them. Skye felt Coulson stiffen beside her.

"What did he want? Why wasn't I informed?" he demanded.

May reached out and touched his arm trying for reassurance, but not succeeding. "He said he didn't need to talk to you." She said gently. "Come on, everyone. Wheels up in five."

Fitz, Simmons and Ward shot darting looks of concern at their boss before leaving to strap in. Skye knew now was not the time for touching. She moved into the lounge, which was empty, to secure herself. She hoped he'd follow, but was letting him have his space. With a wave of relief, she watched as he came into the room and settled himself next to her.

Knowing exactly what was going through his mind, she braced for a response and wasn't surprised at his sudden sweating and forced breathing. This was one of his triggers she knew. Being forced by Nick Fury to do something that he had no control over. She gently rubbed his shoulder while she silently waited for the attack to pass. His breathing gradually slowed down by the time they were in the air, but Skye was glad no one had joined them in the lounge.

"What's going on in there?" She asked gently as she smoothed the hair on his head back.

"This…this might be it." He replied softly. "Nick wants to check with May, and she'll tell him that I'm no longer fit to command."

Skye realized how terrifying that thought would be to the senior agent. Something he'd spent his whole life committed to, about to be taken away. She struggled with the unfairness of it. He had died a hero and they had forcibly brought him back to life, tortured him, given him some kind of alien infusions, and they knew he wasn't ready for command, but they decided to experiment with his life knowing he would continue to suffer from psychological trauma. It was so painfully obvious to her that Nick Fury and company didn't give a shit for this man.

Skye sighed. "AC, I can't change anything they may want to do to you. But, I can promise you that I'll never leave you." He looked at her, wide-eyed at her promise.

"Seriously," she told him, "they can make you the garbage man at S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters and I'll become a waitress so we can stay together." His eyes misted at her heartfelt promise, but there was also fear in them.

"But, I know too much." He said softly. "Maybe their plans for me won't include giving me any sort of job." Skye's spine twisted in realization at that. She leaned in and kissed him deeply.

"Then we'll disappear." She said firmly. "Between the two of us, I know we can do it. Promise me, AC. This won't break us up." He looked into her eyes and felt comforted and fearful at the same time.

"Skye, you have your whole life ahead of you…." He started to respond, but she stopped him.

"A life that would be empty without the man I love. AC, you know loneliness. I'm not lonely with you, I'm happy." Tears began to run down her cheeks. "Don't take this away. Don't you leave me too. Please!"

His thumb came up on its own accord to brush her tears away. This was it. He could make the sacrifice and let her go in the hopes that she was young and would find someone else. Or, for the first time in his life he could choose to take what he wanted. To take the comfort, happiness and life that had always been denied him.

"Skye…. I love you." He said simply. The implication was not lost on her. He had chosen her and she smiled with pure joy.

The plane smoothed out, and the others wandered into the lounge. Things took on a normalcy that Skye and Coulson basked in for now. They put the future on hold for a few hours and laughed and talked with the others. For the first time in a while, things were back to the usual. But, not for long….

The End.