A/N: Just a bit of Ward & Fitz fun because I love it when the two of them are paired up on missions. :) There's a bit of whumpage, too, for those of who are sick freaks like me, lol.
For anyone who's interested, I'm part of the creative team at this production company that is actually all about fanfiction and fan involvement. Our first episode of a new series is going to be out soon, and the whole thing is fully interactive. We'll have a space on our website dedicated to fanfiction, and we'll have blogs where you can interact with the characters of the show, secret government sites that'll need to be hacked into as part of a game, etc, etc. Even better is that there's a possibility that we may wind up using some of your fanfiction or other material in an actual episode of the show. If we do, you'll get credit AND monetary compensation for it! We'll pay you for your fanfic if we decide to use it as canon material in the series! Cool, huh?
Anyway, there's a link at the bottom of my profile page that'll take you to an article about it. (I wish we could post links on here. *sigh*) Check it out, and come contribute when we're ready. It's gonna be awesome!
Ward and Fitz trudged through the woods on their way to the extraction point after having completed another successful retrieval mission in enemy territory. This one hadn't exactly gone much smoother than their first duo mission had gone, but at least they'd been able to get in and out without any injury and without having to call in the Cavalry to retrieve them. Still, there had been...hiccups, ones that they were now in the process of arguing over.
"I didn't say you didn't do well back there," Ward was saying, the frustration evident in his tone. "I'm just saying you could do with a little more ops training."
Fitz glared at him. "Why is it always about Simmons and I needing to have all of the extra training? Why don't you try spending more time in the lab with us, and we can run you through a bunch of drills that you didn't exactly sign on to deal with?"
Ward stopped walking and rolled his eyes. "That's not fair, Fitz."
The engineer smirked slightly as he continued a few paces ahead, then hid his smile as he turned around. "And why exactly is that, Ward?"
"You know why."
This time Fitz just went ahead and let that cocky grin spread across his face. "I want to hear you say it."
Ward couldn't help but smile slightly back. "I'm not going to say it."
"Fine. I'll say it for you. It's because we're smarter you, the kind of smart that you can't train into a person."
Arching his eyebrows up, Ward shrugged slightly, and cleverly steered the argument back to the original point. "Is it the kind of smart that's going to help you when a guy twice your size is beating your face in?"
To make a point, he advanced on Fitz quickly, startling the scientist into throwing up his arms to protect himself as he took several steps back. On his last step something snapped below his foot, and suddenly he found himself falling, his hands reaching out for the first thing he could grab in the process. Unfortunately, that thing that he grabbed had been Ward's jacket, sending both of them plummeting down into a dark, damp hole hidden in the dirt. Fitz hit the ground first, and had just enough time to register a loud crack, an intensely sharp pain, and then Ward landing on top of him before he lost touch with the conscious world.
Ward rolled away as best he could in the cramped space as he landed, instinct and training kicking in before he could squash Fitz completely. One of the first things he'd learned in the Academy was how to take a fall, but usually he was in a more open area and didn't have the disadvantage of a hand clutching onto his jacket. He hadn't exactly gone down gracefully, his arm twisting beneath his body at an awkward angle, sending a flaring pain through his wrist.
Sprained, was his first thought as he lay still for only a second, letting the shock of the fall pass through him before he was sitting up, his attention going immediately to the now very quiet engineer (who, if he'd had proper field training, would not have taken the brunt of that fall like he had). Ward had heard the snap, too, and as horrible as the thought was, he genuinely wished the sound had come from a limb and not from somewhere more deadly.
Fitz stirred and hissed sharply almost the moment Ward's hand began to run down one of his legs. That was a good sign in Ward's book; it meant that he'd probably passed out from the pain of the break and not from a potentially critical head wound. In the next instant Fitz's eyes flew wide open, and he sat up ramrod straight in a near panic.
"Did I break it?" he asked.
Ward gave him a sympathetic look. "Probably. I haven't gotten a good look, yet. You were only out a couple seconds."
"Oh god, oh god, Coulson is going to kill me," the engineer continued to babble as he swung his pack around him and settled it on his lap. Ward watched him in confusion for a moment as Fitz dug through the bag, his expression going from one of alarm, to a jittery kind of hope, to one of pure relief as he pulled the device they'd retrieved out of the cloth it had been wrapped in.
"You were talking about the machine," Ward deadpanned, bemusement written on his features.
Fitz relaxed back against the wall. "What'd you think I was talking about?" he asked.
Ward moved his hand a little further down Fitz's leg, eliciting a sharp cry from the Scot as he felt where the bone was split and slightly misaligned a little above the top of his boot. "This."
"Why would I be asking about that?" he grunted. "I don't have to be a genius to know that I've broken my bloody leg. That can be fixed. This-" he held up the device for emphasis, "can't be."
"...Right," Ward huffed on a slightly exasperated breath. This wasn't the first time that Fitz had proven to be tougher than he looked, nor the first time that he had put the mission before his own wellbeing, but the ops specialist couldn't help but still be a little surprised by it. He'd spent years thinking that SciTech agents weren't made up of the right material to be out in the field. Fitz (and Simmons, actually) were continually showing him just how wrong he'd been. "We're going to have to set that. Give me your pack."
"Oh, no," Fitz shook his head, "you are not cannibalizing my pack's framework. I need this."
"We don't have a choice, Fitz. I don't see anything else we can use in this-"
He stopped as he looked around, noticing for the first time that the hole wasn't actually a hole. The walls were lined with old stone, the ground moist with a slick layer of mud and little pools of water. His gut clenched as he looked up at the semi-circular opening above, the sunlight still mostly blocked by a layer of pine needles and roots and dead leaves.
"...well," he finished, his throat tightening slightly at the realization of where he was. This was what it had been like. This was what he'd seen before he'd-
A sharp gasp from Fitz turned his attention back to his injured teammate who was in the process of trying to settle himself a little better against the wall. Ward shook off his momentary fear in favor of helping the Scot get more comfortable - now was not the time to be dwelling on his dark past.
"You've hurt your hand," Fitz grunted in between the series of short breaths he was taking in an attempt to keep his pain under control.
Ward glanced down at the way he'd been keeping his arm tucked up against his chest and shook his head. "Just a sprain. I can work through it."
"If you could work through it you wouldn't be trying so hard not to use it," Fitz pointed out. He reached for his pack again and dug down into it, pulling out his field med kit. "You first, then we'll take care of my leg."
Ward shot him down immediately. "That's not how it works, Fitz. We take care of the more serious injuries, first."
If Fitz could look any more irritated in that moment, Ward would've been surprised. He prepared himself for the upcoming lecture that would inevitably make him feel like an uneducated child trying to go up against a college professor. He hated it when FitzSimmons spoke to him that way...which was funny because in the past he wouldn't have put up with it at all. At the moment, however, he found himself simply clamping his jaw shut so he could take whatever Fitz had to dish out like a good little soldier. The engineer had become a friend to him, and as long as he was relatively healthy and speaking, Grant would accept whatever he had to say under the circumstances. It was far better than the bleaker scenario that Ward had initially imagined in which Fitz had cracked his head open and wouldn't be speaking to him at all.
"It's not like I'm bleeding out," the Scot was saying. "I'm not dying, and I'm not trying to be noble, either. This is a simple matter of logic. I stabilize your hand, and maybe you can use it somewhat to set my leg. I probably won't be much help in that department. In fact, I may wind up passing out again, so I suppose I may as well just give you permission to use whatever you need from my pack. You're going to do what you want, anyway."
Ward smirked. "Good. I'm glad you can see my logic, too"
Fitz shot him a glare. "Just give me your hand so we can get this over with."
Ward paced the small space of the well in worry and growing anger - worry over Fitz who had, as predicted, passed out halfway through a scream as Grant had clumsily fumbled with fitting the broken ends of his bone back into place. Normally he was better at that, but with one hand being only marginally functional (and even that much movement was thanks to the engineer's careful medical ministrations), he'd struggled with making the fix as clean and painless as possible. It had actually been a blessing that the Scot had passed out when he did; otherwise Ward might have had to temporarily put him out of his misery, himself. They were still in enemy territory where they could be discovered any minute if they weren't careful. A man screaming his head off in a hole in the ground - a well - wouldn't have done them any favors.
The anger came from his growing sense of helplessness and impatience. He'd done all that he could, and it wasn't nearly good enough. Just like in the last one, there were no comms on this mission, only a silent signal he had shot out from the roof of the compound before he and Fitz had fled for the trees. The team would pick them up in the clearing due north of where they were trapped, the rendezvous scheduled to take place at 1700 hours. That was still two hours away, and while Fitz had been lucky that his fall hadn't broken the object they were sent to retrieve, it had broken the signal gun. Ward had no way of communicating with his team that they were in trouble, and no way to tell the others where they were. He and Fitz could be stuck in that hole - WELL - all night before the others found them, and that was if they were lucky enough not to be found by enemy scouts, first.
Ward jumped, and felt instantly ashamed that Fitz's soft voice had startled him as it shattered its way through his growing...not panic. He refused to believe that he, Grant Ward, special ops soldier extraordinaire, was in danger of going into a panic. Frustration with his circumstances. That's all it was. Simple frustration.
"I'm here," he said as he knelt down by Fitz's side. "How do you feel?"
Fitz's brow furled as if he was assessing the situation, trying to come up with the most accurate response to a question that could very easily be answered with bitter sass. Like I've broken my leg, was almost what Ward had been expecting.
"Better, actually," Fitz said instead. "At least I don't feel like throwing up anymore."
Ward smiled, and blew out a sigh of relief as he gave the engineer's shoulder a supportive squeeze. "Good. That's good. Sorry that was so rough."
"Couldn't be helped. How's your wrist?"
"It'll heal." Ward stood up again if for no other reason than to back away from Fitz's concern. He wasn't injured that badly, yet it was damaging enough that he couldn't just climb out of the hole and go for help.
A well. A thousand times over, you are stuck in a well. Quit lying to yourself.
God, he hated Karma sometimes.
A shuffling sound behind him had him turning to see Fitz partially stretched out along the ground, his fingers reaching the remains of his pack.
"Ward, can you-?" he got out, his voice strained.
Grant immediately shoved the tattered bag (along with its contents) within the engineer's reach, his continual frustration evident on his face.
"You could've just asked," he scolded. "I can't get anymore than four feet away from you. It's not exactly inconvenient for me to help you."
"You looked like you were going into brooding mode. It's better not to disturb you when you're in brooding mode," Fitz shrugged, and pulled out his tool kit. "Give me the sonar gun."
Ward blinked in surprised, and reached into his belt to retrieve the broken signal tool. "How'd you know?"
Fitz didn't look at him as he took the device and immediately began to tinker with it. "Because you wouldn't be in brooding mode if you weren't feeling helpless, and you wouldn't be feeling helpless if you felt like there was something you could do. Since we're stuck here at the bottom of a well-" he glanced up as he said the word, then instantly went back to his tinkering, "-with no possible way of either of us climbing out what with your wrist and my leg, the only possible way that you could be helpful would be to signal our location to the others. Since you're clearly feeling unhelpful, the only possible reason for that would be if the sonar gun was broken, which you should've just told me about in the first place. I built the bloody thing. Odds are I can fix it."
Opening his mouth for a second, Ward stumbled over how respond to Fitz's overly accurate observation before finally settling on, "I don't brood."
Fitz rolled his eyes, but otherwise didn't say anything else until a few moments later when he let out a soft curse.
"What is it?" Ward asked, and felt his stomach sink when Fitz dropped the signal gun to the ground.
"Of course the one part that I can't bloody fix is the broken one," he huffed. "We'll just have to wait for the team to find us, then."
"Fantastic," Grant uttered, and found himself crossing his arms and turning his back to Fitz. He quickly corrected his stance to a more casual one, turning back around to catch the slight grin on the engineer's lips.
"I don't brood," he clarified again, and slid down to the ground on the opposite side of the...well, arms immediately crossing over his chest as if they had a mind of their own. He caught Fitz's I-told-you-so smile growing wider. "Shut up."
"It's a transdimensional portal!" Fitz blurted out. "How could you not get that?"
Ward looked at the crude mud drawings on the wall again, his expression one of confusion. "You drew stick figures jumping through a hoop with some sort of devil on the other side. How could anyone get that?"
"That's not-" Fitz threw his muddied hands up in the air. "It's Thor, Ward!"
"Why does Thor have horns?"
"They're wings. He has wings on his helm. And did you not see the hammer?"
Ward leaned forward so he could take a closer look at the mud sketch, and shook his head. "I thought he just had a really big hand."
Giving up, Fitz thunked his head lightly back against the damp stone. "It's not easy finger painting with mud. Simmons would've gotten it."
"That's because you and Simmons are the same person," Ward huffed, and got to his feet again for probably the thirtieth time in the past two hours. Fitz's little game had been a good distraction, but it wasn't enough to completely shake away the fidgety feeling sitting just under the surface of his skin. At that point it was really only the fact that he knew his team would be looking for them by then that was keeping him together. Well, that and the fact that Fitz needed him to keep it together. It was Ward's job to protect him, not because Fitz was naturally weaker, but because he was physically incapacitated. It'd be difficult for anyone to fight with a broken leg, even the most trained masters of hand-to-hand combat.
"Ward?" said charge asked somewhat tentatively.
"No more games, Fitz. Not right now," he answered, not in a snappy way, just in that way that made him sound more tired than he was. Fighting off panic was a little draining.
"No, that wasn't what I was going to ask," the engineer said. "I have to pee."
Ward laughed on a puff of air. "You need a hand?" The mortified look Fitz instantly shot him had him choking on his words. "That's not...I meant do you need help standing up?"
"...Please," the Scot responded after an embarrassed hesitation. Ward grabbed his extended arm and helped haul him up onto his good foot, pausing to hold him steady for a moment as he turned three shades paler and scrunched his face up like an amateur at a frat party trying not to hurl his guts out.
"Easy," Ward coached. "Steady breaths. Take as long as you need."
"I'm good," Fitz ground out, not at all sounding convincing. "Just...take me to that part of the wall over there."
Ward looked over to the spot where the engineer was pointing, the one small portion of the well that Ward hadn't thoroughly paced. The water puddle there was a little larger than any of the others, meaning either the ground had a larger divot in that spot or was actually tilted down slightly in that direction. Smart thinking on Fitz's part; it would keep anything foul from running back in the direction of where they'd been sitting.
Ward slowly maneuvered Fitz towards the puddle, and waited for a second as the engineer braced his hands against the wall. "Do you want me too...help balance you, or-?" he started to ask awkwardly.
"No," Fitz half-snapped, half-grunted. "I've got it, thank you."
Ward nodded and, after making absolute certain that Fitz was able to stand on his own, went back to the other side of the well where he busied himself with curiously poking through some of the other scattered contents of Fitz's bag. It was ridiculous, how much stuff the engineer always packed whenever they had to go into the field. Sure, some of the things were necessary - engineery things that Ward had seen Fitz use to open doors or dismantle traps, etc. - but other things? Like...oh, for Christ's sake, was that an old Gameboy? When would there ever be a need to play video games while out-
"Tetris," Fitz gasped as he hopped/hobbled along the wall back towards Ward, who instantly got back to his feet to help. "Helps clear my head when I'm stressed. I would've brought it up that I had it, but I thought you might be angry with me."
Ward sighed as he lowered his friend back down to the ground. "Normally I would be," he admitted. "You don't need to be carrying extra weight in the field."
"Normally?" Fitz looked up at him, trying to appear as casual as ever, but his pale skin and pain-filled eyes gave him away. Ward placed the game into his hands and gave him a calming smile.
"I guess it has its purpose. Knock yourself out."
Songs and bleeps and bloops rang quietly through the bottom of the well for the next hour, the noises oddly soothing with their familiarity as Ward sat beside his teammate, watching him play and offering his own "obnoxious" advice here and there.
"Do you want to play?" Fitz had huffed out on more than one occasion, clearly annoyed with Ward's backseat gaming, but each time the special ops agent merely shook his head. It was way more fun passing the time by pestering the easily-flustered Scot.
"You do know they make Tetris for your phone, right?" he pointed out once he'd gotten bored with trying to help where he wasn't needed.
Fitz nodded. "I like it better on this. Reminds me of when I was back in high school. It helped me get through some things."
Grant furled his brow. "High school? But Gameboys were big back when..."
He trailed off, seeing the way that Fitz's head ducked a little lower as he played, averting eye contact. Right. Fitz had been a boy genius. By the time the machine had become popular the rest of the kids his age would've still been in elementary school. Must've been rough, being a Freshman that young. Ward frowned at the thought, and internally chastised himself. Sometimes it was hard to remember that he wasn't the only one on his team who'd had a difficult past.
Ward was about to comment on that when the sound of deafening thunder boomed overhead, bringing him back to his own selfish fears all over again. If there was thunder, there would most likely be rain, and if there was rain while the two of them were trapped in the bottom of a well that was still clearly capable of holding water...
"I can't do this," Fitz gasped, drawing Ward's attention back down to him instead of staring up at the forest canopy. The little gaming console was abandoned on the scientist's lap, and his face was pinched up in a mask of pain, bringing Ward to the conclusion that he must have been startled by the thunderclap. He'd probably jumped, momentarily forgetting about his leg.
He shifted forward, concerned. "Just try to relax. It shouldn't be too much longer. The team'll find us soon, and we can get out of this hellhole."
Wait, that wasn't what he'd meant to say. He had meant to ask Fitz if his leg was alright. Who was he trying to calm down, here? Fitz or himself?
Fitz, eyes still clamped shut, shook his head from side to side. "I'm not...I'm not built for this." He gestured loosely towards his leg, splinted up with metal rods from his pack and wound tight with medical tape. "I think I've done pretty well at not complaining up to this point, but I can't bloody take it anymore. Can I take something? Please?"
"Jesus, Fitz, you should've asked sooner," Ward scolded (yet again), and dug back into the pile of discarded pack items. Ignoring the second boom of thunder and the first signs of raindrops hitting the forest canopy overhead, he pulled out what was left of the med kit and popped open the little case that contained the morphine vial and syringe.
"I thought I could handle it," the engineer said, defeat in his voice as he controlled his breathing to bring the pain back down to manageable levels, "and you don't know how I get on pain killers. I was afraid I would cause you more trouble than it was worth."
"It's a broken leg," Ward stated as he knelt by his friend's side again. "Being a little loopy on morphine beats being in pain. I've been there."
He plunged the needle into Fitz's arm, glad he was able to do something of service in the midst of their helplessness.
"Fitz! Stop. Singing," Ward ground out. It had only been thirty-seven minutes since he'd given the engineer the morphine, and he was already on the verge of killing him. It didn't help that the rain was coming down hard from above, dripping down into their hole where there was nowhere to escape. It wouldn't be too much longer before those tiny puddles overflowed and began to spread across the well's floor, forcing them to sit in the cold rainwater.
"But's it's the song that doesn't end," Fitz pouted, completely oblivious to their potential peril. Ward didn't care too much about that, though. To him, pouting was good. It was much better than the singing.
"It does end. Now," he ordered. "Just...sit there and be quiet for a little while, okay? The team should be here soon. We need to be able to hear them if they call out to us."
The silence lasted all of fifteen seconds before the scientist started up again with another pointless conversation, and Ward's first instinct was to immediately gag the man. Then Fitz's words actually hit home, and he paused, staring at the Scot in disbelief.
"Wait, what?" he asked.
"Monkeys," Fitz repeated. "I'm terrified of monkeys. Sometimes I even have nightmares about them clawing out my eyes."
Ward, utterly baffled by the confession, pushed away from the wall that he'd been leaning his hands on as a precautionary measure against strangling his teammate. "You...but didn't you...?"
"Say I wanted one as a lab assistance, yes," Fitz said matter-of-factly. "A ruse. A farce. Call it a defense mechanism. The more I annoy people with the idea that I want one, the less they suspect that I'm actually afraid of them. Think about it. A person afraid of monkeys? I'd be the butt of everybody's jokes. There'd be monkey plushies on my pillow, little animated gifs of dancing monkeys on my laptop, people would force me to watch Planet of the Apes. If they think I'm obsessed with monkeys, the exact opposite occurs. Everyone does everything in their power not to expose me to my so-called obsession."
Ward barked out a laugh. "Reverse psychology."
"Exactly. I knew you'd get it, but don't tell anyone, not even Simmons. I'll have to kill you if you do."
Fitz? Kill him?
Ward thought about it for a moment, the smile growing on his face even more. The engineer, sneaky little devil that he apparently was, probably would be able to pull it off if he really wanted to.
"Do you know what else I'm afraid of?" said sneaky devil whispered, barely audible over the thrumming of the rain.
"What?" Ward coaxed, squatting down so he could hear him better.
"Lawn gnomes. Their eyes'll burn a hole right through you if you stare at them long enough."
Oh, that was too much. Grant's smile broke out into a full-on grin, the laughter ebbing just below the surface of his control. "You know this from experience?"
"I haven't actually tested the theory, no, but I'm convinced of it."
More interested in this particular conversation than he thought he would be, the ops agent sat down and settled against the wall beside Fitz. Ducking his head a little, he built up the nerve to make his own admittance.
"Furbies used to freak me out," he confessed, expecting that would get an argument out of the robot guru.
Fitz merely nodded his head. "Justifiable fear. They were actually built for espionage, did you know that? Disguised as child's toys so they could get through security, but we caught on soon enough. I dismantled several of them a few years back and had to trace them back to their maker. it was one of my first missions after Academy."
Ward blinked, staring at his friend. "You're kidding."
The look he got back told him otherwise. "No, I'm completely serious. They're harmless now, but it took a lot of work on our part to make sure they stayed that way. We've had to plant agents inside of toy factories to make sure nothing like that happens again. Can you imagine that? If your secret agent job was to make toys for a living?"
Chuckling, Ward shook his head. "I'd probably shoot myself in the foot."
Fitz grinned at that, then seemed to get distracted as he looked up towards the sky. "Looks like the storm's passed. I figured it wouldn't last long. They tend to move quickly through this region this time of year."
Grant looked up, too, a breath of relief passing through his lips. The puddles had definitely gotten bigger, but he and Fitz were still sitting on a layer of dampened dirt instead of being submerged in a few inches of water. If he was being completely honest, his fear had actually stretched beyond that as he was imagining trying to keep himself and Fitz afloat in several feet of water with nothing to hold onto. That would've been ridiculous, now that he was thinking more rationally. They'd have had needed to be that well for far longer than they were with a lot more rain in order to make that scenario play out. What was wrong with him?
There was a brief moment of still silence before it was broken yet again by a softly murmured, "This is the song that doesn't end..."
Well, Ward thought, if you can't beat 'em.
"Yes it goes on and on my friend," he chimed in a little reluctantly, refusing to acknowledge the surprised, but beaming grin on Fitz's face. Let the engineer have the win. It was better than doing nothing, he supposed.
"Wow. Were you really that bored?" Skye's voice broke out from above.
Ward stopped the singing immediately, having gotten fairly into the vibe of the song by the time they had gone probably about twenty rounds through. He was on his feet in an instant, unable to keep the smirk off his face as he stared up at the amused hacktivist.
"Desperate measures," he responded, "What took you guys so long?"
Fitz chimed in with his own, "Yeah, what took you so long? My ass is falling asleep, and I'm bloody hungry. And cold. And wet. Now would be a good time to get us out of this freaking well. And when we get back I want a whole tub of cheddar popcorn. That's always good after being stuck in a well for hours."
Skye glanced between the two of them, her eyes falling back to Ward in confusion. He was about to explain when Simmons' head appeared in the opening, as well.
"Oh, no," she muttered. "Cheddar popcorn? He's on something, isn't he? He only likes cheddar popcorn when he's been drugged."
Skye turned to her. "How many times has he been drugged?"
She shook her head with a sad smile. "Once completely on accident, once as a volunteer experiment that didn't go quite as planned, and...one other time that we don't really talk about."
"We don't talk about it, Simmons," Fitz repeated from below.
She smiled down at him. "I know, Fitz. What have you gone and gotten yourself into now?"
Ward answered for him. "Broken leg. It happened in the fall."
"Oh dear. That might pose a bit of a problem in getting him out, won't it?" she muttered. "And you? What've you done to your wrist?"
"Sprain. It's not too bad. Fitz took care of it."
She nodded, and turned her head over her shoulder for a second. "Coulson and May should be here rather quickly, I should think. Then we'll figure out a way to get you out of there."
Skye sat down and hung her feet over the edge of the well. "I'll sing with you guys, too, if you want to pass the time some more."
"No!" Ward said at the same time as Fitz spouted, "Yes!"
The singing started, anew, and Ward was utterly helpless to stop it. For some odd reason, it didn't really bother him.
The extraction hadn't exactly been flawless, having nothing more than rope that Ward tied into a harness around Fitz's waist and legs to haul him up. It might have gone a little easier for the engineer if he hadn't refused to relinquish the machine that they'd been assigned to retrieve, but as it was his personal mission to make sure it got back to the Bus safely, he wasn't about to trust the item in anyone else's hands. Ward didn't fight him on it, understanding where Fitz was coming from. Without the use of both his arms and one leg, though, he'd bumped into the wall a few times on the way up, and by the sounds of it he'd definitely felt the impacts right through his morphine haze. Ward couldn't imagine what that would've been like if he hadn't been drugged up. The poor kid probably would've passed out again before they'd gotten him halfway out.
Ward had been next, his ascent going much smoother considering he only had to worry about not using one of his hands too much. May had gone back down to get Fitz's things after that, making certain to leave nothing behind under Fitz's pained and pathetic threats of certain "horrifying repercussions" if he was to find that he'd lost something. They all took turns playing the engineer's crutch on the way to the Bus, taking several breaks along the way to give him a chance to catch his breath.
None of the breaks were under his request. In fact, Ward had to hand it to him again, he didn't make a peep the entire way. His face was locked in a state of pure focus, one hop after another, and don't forget to breathe. Simmons hovered near him the entire time, which was to be expected, and she was the one making the calls on when they needed to stop. Fitz never protested to that, either, which was a sure enough sign to all of them that Simmons was spot on when it came to gauging the exact moment when her best friend had pushed his limits and couldn't go any further without a little recharge. It was nothing short of admirable, the way the two of them could do that. Ward had seen a lot of two-man units in his time, but nothing like the smooth machine that made up FitzSimmons. He wondered briefly if they would able to explain how they functioned over at the school of Operations.
He grinned to himself. Probably not. Those two would lose the young recruits within three sentences.
Fitz was whisked away to be further examined by Simmons the moment they got on the Bus, the poor tech almost dead on his feet...foot. Coulson and Skye went with both to make sure he was alright and to secure the machine that Coulson was finally able to wrestle from Fitz's grasp once he'd convinced him that his mission was accomplished successfully. Left alone in the hangar with May, Ward finally allowed himself to fall back on a seat, drained from the entire experience and finally able to relax.
"Want me to rewrap that?" May asked.
"In a little bit," Ward sighed, leaning his head back and allowing his eyes to shut.
May sat down, too, leaving a seat open between them to give him his space. She leaned forward, elbows resting on her knees, glancing at him sideways as she spoke. "You held up down there. That was good."
Ward let out another long sigh. "It was Fitz," he admitted quietly, and rocked his head from side to side. "I was going to lose it, but Fitz...he's a distraction."
"He knows what he's doing," May smirked, and got up to leave.
Ward opened his eyes and looked at her retreating back.
He knows what he's doing.
Did he? Did he somehow know that Ward had been afraid down there? Had everything been an intentional distraction to help keep him sane?
"I'm terrified of monkeys."
Ward's lips quirked up into a grin, then a full smile, then he leaned his head back again as he let himself laugh. Fitz was afraid of monkeys. That clever little bastard didn't need any field training at all. He was fine just the way he was, and Ward would remember that from there on out. He would never, ever underestimate his friend again.