Disclaimer: I'm just a fan of Agents of SHIELD, playing around with characters and such... If you recognize it, I don't own it. Unfortunately.
A/N: This is basically a ship excuse. That, and I like the stories from the team's point of view, so I tried writing one of my own. This was done within an hour, so, apologies if it's kind of "meh".
"Come here!" Coulson's demanding voice echoed down the hall. Trip and May hesitated outside of the kitchen doorway, glancing at one another before looking toward the source of the sound. Running footsteps echoed down the hall toward them.
"Come and get me!" The challenge followed, sounding much closer to them. Trip stared with surprise when Skye rounded the corner and hurried past them without a word, a grin on her face. As he watched her round the next bend, headed toward the hanger bay, May turned to see Coulson following her, not quite running but certainly in a bit of a rush.
"Everything all right, Director?" May asked dryly, raising her eyebrow at Coulson's agitated look. Trip turned to take in Coulson's disheveled appearance.
Hair mussed, tie loose and cockeyed, jacket open… the man looks like he's either fallen asleep in his suit, or he just had a serious make-out session. Trip coughed and stared at Coulson with wide eyes; the higher level agent was not doing so well with his usual 'cool, calm, collected' exterior.
"Fine," He muttered, stopping only to speak this one word before hurrying off after Skye. He hadn't even looked the other two in the eye.
"I don't even want to know what Skye did to put him in a mood again." May shook her head, stepping into the kitchen. "Come on, Trip, we have dinner to make."
"Do you think perhaps we should just make dinner for five?" Trip wondered, following after her slowly. May glanced at him, giving him a skeptic look.
"What, you think…" She stopped, and laughed. Trip stared at her – he'd never heard her laugh before. Especially not laugh so hard. "It's nothing, Triplett – he's made Skye his second in command. He wanted to tell the rest of you guys himself, but I think he'll be okay with me telling you since I'm dissuading you from those ideas." May chuckled again, shaking her head as she began pulling out ingredients from the fridge.
"I'm just… I mean, you saw that, right?" Trip muttered, embarrassed that he'd been that off the mark. He was usually fairly good at reading people… Sure, reading Coulson wasn't easy, but his interactions with Skye… it seemed like textbook romance.
"Yeah, and you know Skye. She's been big on pranking everyone lately; trying to get Fitz back on his A-game," May spoke as she worked, and Trip nodded in agreement with her on that part. They were all doing whatever they could to help Fitz out. "She's the only one gutsy enough – other than me – to prank Coulson. The only reason why I don't do it is because he would immediately know that it was me."
"You're right," Trip said, relaxing. He wasn't sure why he felt so relieved at the knowledge that he had been mistaken. He supposed perhaps because Skye had persuaded him to be a sort of SO for her, and he knew that Coulson was already over-protective of her. If Trip ever accidently hurt her during training, and she and the Director did end up being in some sort of relationship, Trip figured he could just kiss his SHIELD career goodbye.
May had been amused with Triplett's assumption about Skye and Coulson, but it had nonetheless put a bug in her ear, and she spent the next week observing the two a little more closely.
They were certainly spending a lot more time together, but that was to be expected since Coulson asked her to be his second. A slight difference she noticed, though, was how they stood in company together. If they weren't standing right next to one another, they were easily within direct line of sight of each other. Always. And there have been a couple of times during briefings when May would catch Coulson looking at Skye intensely, and Skye just gives him a slight nod, and then the two of them act as if nothing happened.
When they got confirmation that Ward had been secured away, Coulson had reached for Skye's hand with no hesitation. They had stood there like that, for a few moments, until Coulson received another call and had to step out of the room.
During meal times, Skye always sat to his left. And, he was now joining the team at meal times. That was something new; though May chalked it up to Skye using her new status to 'persuade' him. She figured they were a lot like Hill and Fury – Skye was the only one not afraid to tell Coulson exactly what she thought, and Coulson valued her for that.
Don't think she didn't notice them stealing food off of one another's plates, though.
And she knew – lesson learned in Budapest – never steal Agent Phil Coulson's food. It went up there with his Captain America trading cards and 'Don't touch Lola'.
May stopped in the middle of the hall, her thoughts coming to a halt as well.
"Lola," She murmured to herself, looking in the direction of the hanger bay. Just the other day she had seen Skye lounged in the passenger seat, her laptop balanced on her knees, sitting there as if it were the SUV or something. "Damn."
Maybe Trip was on to something.
Simmons only started paying attention because Triplett had asked her opinion on it, and she just couldn't turn down that pleading grin of his.
"I'm not good at this spy stuff; you know that," She had complained, but he had only asked her again.
"Just think of it as a scientific experiment!" He had said, which made her frown, but she agreed anyway. And once she started looking – how had she not noticed it before? It was obvious that there was something, she just wasn't sure what it was, exactly.
The scientist that she was, she carried around a notebook and kept detailed notes of her findings.
Day 1: Observed subjects touching hands six different times during breakfast. Leaning into one another during the briefing meeting. It wasn't very noticeable, except that I was looking for that sort of thing. Shared significant looks multiple times that did not make sense in context with the conversation.
Day 2: Both of them were hidden away in the Director's office most of the day today, only showing themselves during mealtimes. We're all working hard on getting our resources organized, so this is somewhat understandable… However, on a side note, subjects are looking as if they are getting very little sleep. I am beginning to wonder if they are working on another project outside of getting the Playground put into order.
Day 3: Both subjects are heavy with silence at breakfast this morning. Everyone else is their usual self at this hour, but the subjects appear downright exhausted. I'm fairly certain they are working even longer hours than we are, but when I asked them about it, they both avoided conversation. At lunch, more strange, playful looks were shared between the subjects. I secretly followed them afterwards, to the storage room. They appear to be cataloguing and organizing the room. I wonder why the Director is doing something so menial, but he is Agent Coulson, and he's always been the type of person to do whatever job needs done, no matter his security level.
Day 4: I'm really beginning to worry about Director Coulson. He's looking much more exhausted than usual, and Skye has even been giving him more concerned looks than usual today. She made his coffee this morning during breakfast, exactly how he liked it, without asking. He held her hand for a moment after she handed it to him – I pretended not to notice.
"Agent Triplett, I honestly think that Director Coulson is just feeling stressed about all this new weight that has been put on his shoulders, and Skye is comforting him." Simmons sighed, as Trip leaned against the edge of the lab table, his arms folded across his chest. It was the afternoon of day four of her little task, and she was just feeling creepy about it, by this point.
"You don't think their lack of sleep could be – "
"Agent Triplett, I would rather not be thinking that," Simmons interrupted him, closing her eyes and frowning. She peered back into her microscope, wanting to end the conversation.
"What do you think it is they're working on, then?" Trip wondered, and Simmons sighed deeply, standing up and pinching the bridge of her nose, willing the incoming headache away.
"Frankly, Agent Triplett, I don't really care. I trust Director Coulson, and I trust Skye. And he does too; considering he made her his second in command." Simmons gave him a look before moving toward one of the cabinets, rifling through it. "While it does concern me that they seem to not be getting enough sleep, they can take care of themselves."
"Yeah. They've already taken pretty good care of each other," Triplett mused, his posture relaxing as he slipped his hands into his pockets. Simmons raised her eyebrow at him over her shoulder. "I've seen the footage," He shrugged, "From that shed in the desert. And from the basement with Quinn…" He trailed off, looking away for a respectful moment. "That was rough," He spoke a little softer, "But they took care of each other."
Simmons nodded, a small smile on her face. She recalled how Coulson had refused to leave Skye's bedside until she had awoken, and her smile slowly dropped. He had been rather distraught during that whole situation, hadn't he? Much more out of control than he usually was. Simmons narrowed her eyes, hiding her suspicion from Trip. No need to get him on a roll, but…
Maybe he was on to something.
It was Fitz who got the irrefutable proof, and it had happened completely by accident. He and Simmons had been working on repairing and enhancing the Golden Retrievers, and Simmons had been good-naturedly complaining to him about Triplett's suspicions.
"Maybe we should just have Sleepy sniff out Skye and Coulson. He's our best listener, you know; next to you, of course." Fitz had meant it as a joke. He really had.
But the Retriever didn't know that.
"Fitz!" Simmons exclaimed as the Retriever popped up out of the case and flew off down the hall. Fitz sat there with the tablet strapped to his hand, watching it go.
"Oops." He said. "Well…" He glanced down at the tablet in his hand. "Might as well," And he unmuted the feed. Simmons looked like she was about to argue with him, but she didn't, and after a moment's hesitation she stepped closer to him to listen in. Because, honestly - everyone was curious, by this point.
"We're in this together. Remember, AC?" The sound was greatly muffled; probably coming through a closed door.
"It'll be okay." She sounded like her usual uplifting self; something they were used to hearing whenever Coulson was in one of his depressed moods.
"Skye, they have protocols against this sort of thing," Coulson's words made Fitz and Simmons look at one another with interest.
"Screw protocol." Skye laughed. "You know, I once said that to Agent Hand. When she refused to let me search for you." Coulson let out a slight chuckle too. "And you know, I did end up finding you…" Her tone had changed, and Fitz cleared his throat and shifted on his feet.
Perhaps they should stop listening…
"It would be incredibly selfish for the Director to break the rules – "
"You're the Director. Change the rules." Skye pointed out.
There was such a long silence that Fitz wondered if Sleepy had broken down. He hoped not, because that would be embarrassing to try and explain –
A loud thump that suddenly sounded very close made Fitz and Simmons both jump. There was another noise that caused an automatic reaction in Fitz to mute the feed and set the tablet down on the counter before a second thought. Simmons avoided his eyes; her cheeks were red. His probably were too.
"Uhm…" Fitz rubbed the back of his head. "Guess it's a good thing we didn't bet against Trip?"
Koenig smiled to himself as he watched the four members of the team huddled together in the rec room, conversing in soft, hurried tones.
He'd known all along.