A/N: I wrote an epilogue, because this idea popped into my head, and I'm much too distracted to write a whole separate fic involving... well, you'll see. :)
They were driving down the road in the early morning, the top down to let in the light of the sunrise.
"I can't believe you thought it was okay to have Tony Stark put his hands on Lola," Coulson said again, shaking his head. Skye sighed, reaching over to pat his leg.
"I can't believe it took you that long to even ask about it." She replied, and he glanced at her.
"Well," He admitted, "Stark did a good job." He noticed that she hadn't removed her hand from his thigh, and he glanced at her again, with raised eyebrows. "And I trust you. I figured you wouldn't have gone to some shop in a back alley or anything."
"You know that's what gave it away, right?" She removed her hand from his leg to poke his arm, and then shifted to lean her back against her door, facing him. He pretended not to miss the loss of contact. "That trust with the car. Everyone and their mother knows that you don't trust anyone with Lola." Coulson grimaced, then smirked at her.
"And you knowing that fixing her up would pull me out of the hole I was putting myself into," He replied, and she shook her head.
"Everyone knew that." She told him.
"Maybe. But you had the courage to do it." He pointed out.
"The stupidity, maybe," She mumbled, and his grin was decidedly dirtier.
"Was the end outcome really so terrible?" He asked, and she rolled her eyes, leaning toward him to kiss his cheek.
"I suppose not," She mused, settling back into her seat. Her hand returned to his thigh, and he smiled, resting his hand on top of hers.
"Thank you for doing this with me," He said after a few minutes. "And thanks for not pushing it." Skye twisted her hand around to lace her fingers through his.
"There was a reason I didn't want you to know, at first. I didn't do this to try and force you to see them again. Trust me, I know how hard that can be," She told him, and he squeezed her hand. "And I knew that once I did tell you, you'd probably still give it some time. Cuz that's what you do, AC. You think before you act. Me, I'm a little more impulsive…"
He raised his eyebrow at her, and she grinned.
"Think Trip's still whining about washing his eyes out with soap?" She mused, and Coulson chuckled lightly, shaking his head.
"Two months, and nothing, and then for no reason you just decide to jump me in my office…"
"Hey, you were giving me those eyes. Don't blame it all on me."
"You could have at least remembered to lock the door."
"Trip could at least know to knock before barging into rooms."
"Oh, he's been very careful about that, since then. He's only just started to look me in the eyes again when he's speaking to me." Coulson told her, and she laughed.
After a few more minutes, he pulled off onto a side road, and gave her a somber look.
"I feel a lot better doing this with you here," He told her, and she held his hand tightly.
"They'll be happy to see you. Trust me." Skye told him, and he swallowed and nodded.
The front gate opened automatically as they approached, and Skye watched Coulson's face carefully as they approached the house. He seemed surprised by the trees surrounding the drive, and the yard in the front. The entryway had a small fountain in the center of the roundabout, and for whatever reason, he seemed to relax at the sight of it.
"There are some differences I can see already," Coulson admitted, "but it's still what I expect from Tony Stark." He sounded relieved.
Happy was standing waiting for them, and offered Skye a big smile. She got out of the car and gave him a hug.
"Hello, Skye. It's good to see you again. It's been a while, hasn't it?" He said, and Skye smiled back.
"Almost four months," She agreed. "Happy, this is,"
"I know who this is," Happy interrupted pleasantly, holding his hand out toward Coulson as he approached. Coulson seemed shy, but shook his hand. Happy pulled him in for a hug, surprising him, but Coulson returned the gesture. "Agent Coulson." Happy took a step back and just looked at him. "It has been… quite a while." Coulson smiled slightly, and Happy grinned.
"Mr. Hogan," Coulson said with a nod, and Happy's grin widened, apparently pleased that Coulson hadn't forgotten his name.
"C'mon. They're waiting inside." Happy gestured for them to follow him, and he led the way to the door. He held it open for them, an excited look on his face. "There's someone you're going to love to meet," He said to Skye, and she furrowed her brow. Before she could ask, he hurried ahead of them to announce their presence.
Skye felt Coulson hesitate, and she reached down for his hand. He wrapped his fingers around hers, and she pulled him to a stop, forcing him to face her. She put her other hand against his cheek.
"No one is forcing you to do this." She told him. "If you don't feel comfortable – "
"I'll never feel comfortable about this." Coulson told her softly. "But it needs done. I want to do it," He assured her, and she peered into his eyes for a moment before nodding.
"Alright." She said, pressing a quick kiss to his lips. The corners of his mouth quirked up into a small smile, but his eyes still held the worry and nervousness she knew he was feeling. "Let's go," She tugged lightly on his hand, smiling at him, and he followed her willingly.
When they stepped into the lounge, Pepper and Tony first noticed Skye, and both their faces lit up with smiles. Their eyes quickly drifted to the man beside her, and both of them stared.
There was a long, awkward silence, and Happy mumbled something before disappearing. Skye squeezed Coulson's hand again, lightly pulling him toward the chairs across from the couch Tony and Pepper were occupying.
"Hi Tony," Skye said softly, and he shook himself, standing and leaning in to kiss her cheek.
"Heya, sister. Long time no see," He was genuinely happy to see her, but his eyes quickly drifted back to Coulson. Coulson shifted uncomfortably, squeezing Skye's hand subconsciously in his nervousness. He finally glanced toward Pepper, and that seemed to break her spell.
"Phil?" She wondered quietly, and he attempted to offer her a smile.
"Hello, Ms. Potts." He greeted her softly, and she smiled, standing up and reaching out to hug him. Skye respectfully took a step back to give them some space, sliding her hand free from Coulson's. He hugged Pepper in return, though he still looked a little awkward about it, and she wiped tears from her eyes as she pulled away.
"Please, Phil, you know you can call me Pepper," She told him, and then bit her lip. "Well, I suppose you might not remember…" Coulson gave her a confused look, but then Tony stepped forward and clasped Coulson's hand in his own.
"Phil, you son of a gun. I'd be mad at you, but I'm afraid I've passed that stage already. In fact, I'm pretty sure I'd reached acceptance by the time your girl showed up with your car." Tony teased, gripping Coulson's shoulder with his other hand. Coulson smiled at him.
"I'm going to be honest; it's weird to mean it when I say it's good to see you, Mr. Stark." Coulson said, and Tony laughed, shaking his head at him.
"I told you," Tony said to Skye, "You're the only SHIELD agent who appreciates me." Skye rolled her eyes and smiled at him, and he stepped away to give Coulson some space. "So." Tony peered at Coulson, sizing him up. "Life Model Decoy?"
"What?" Coulson spluttered. "No,"
"Hm, didn't think so. Blood was too real." Tony thought, and Coulson stared at him. "Clone?"
"Those capabilities don't exist," Coulson told him calmly, settling in one of the chairs when Pepper indicated they all relax. Skye sat perched on the edge of hers, a little anxious.
"But regeneration does," Tony pointed out, and Coulson froze. Skye even heard his breathing stop, and she clenched her jaw.
She stared at an empty spot on the floor, seeing in her peripheral vision him turn toward her slowly.
"Does it?" He asked carefully, and Skye refused to look at him. Tony caught on, and leaned forward.
"Don't get mad at her, it's not her fault." Tony intervened. "I don't think she knew about it until I showed her, actually."
"So you know about TAHITI." Coulson said, defeated, and Tony looked carefully at Pepper.
"We know that there was some sort of project going on… research, in case one of the team got hurt." Tony said, and Pepper nodded along. "Except, you were the one that got hurt. My question is, though – why didn't anyone tell us? Afterward. After it was all over, why didn't anyone let us know that you hadn't actually died?"
Coulson struggled for a moment with how to explain it to them, and then he just opted for the truth. The truth that he knew so far, anyway.
"I had actually died." Coulson said seriously, quietly.
Skye observed that it was nothing like the way he used to talk about it; like it had been a rite of passage. He used to weave tales and make it all sound so cool – but now it sounded more like a horror story.
"I was dead for days," Coulson admitted, and Tony frowned.
"That's not possible. Once your brain is without oxygen for a certain period of time… it's just not possible." Tony said, staring at Coulson, who shrugged lightly.
"I agree with you." He said simply, and Skye reached for his hand again. He looked down, weaving their fingers together, pulling some strength from that. When he looked back toward his two old friends, his appeared more sure.
"There was a lot I didn't know, in the beginning. There was a lot that they were lying to me about." He sounded a little angry, and Skye stroked her thumb across his in a calming manner. "It makes more sense, now. Some of it does, anyway."
Coulson explained about Fury being suspicious of double-agents in the ranks, even years ago. How Fury had been planning for a long time in case Hydra decided to take over, and how Coulson had apparently always been a part of that plan. Coulson had been one of the few people that Fury still trusted, and when he had said that it wasn't an option for Coulson to die, he had meant it.
Skye watched as the three of them grew more comfortable in one another's presence as Coulson spoke, and her own anxiety drifted away. Coulson seemed far less nervous, sharing his frustration with SHIELD, with two people who understood. Two more people that he could add to his small list of trustworthy friends.
"So… do you know anything about the procedures they performed on you?" Tony wondered, and Coulson and Skye glanced at one another.
"Not really." Coulson said, and Tony narrowed his eyes slightly, looking toward Skye.
"Do you know something?" He asked her, and she shook her head.
"No more than he knows." She answered truthfully. Tony nodded slowly, leaned back against the couch, and just stared at the two of them.
"I'm sorry – we should celebrate this. I'm getting champagne." Pepper hopped up, moving toward the bar.
"I probably shouldn't," Coulson told her, watching as she gathered four glasses and a bottle of champagne. She set them all on a tray and carried them over to the coffee table. "Being the Director kind of entails that I'm constantly on duty," He said, sounding a bit disappointed, and Tony scoffed.
"I don't think that's ever stopped Fury, before," He said, accepting a glass from Pepper and giving her a quick kiss.
"I'm trying to do things a little differently, now," Coulson replied dryly, and Tony made a show of eyeing Skye and Coulson's clasped hands as he took a sip of his drink.
"I can see that." He mused, and Skye accepted her drink from Pepper, shooting Tony a look.
Coulson accepted the offered glass from Pepper anyway, though didn't take a drink. Pepper settled next to Tony, and he rested his hand on her knee as he wiggled his eyebrows toward Skye.
"So. Do I owe you ten grand, or what?" He asked, and Skye bit her lip, pulling her hand away from Coulson and looking at the floor again. "Well?" Tony asked, raising his eyebrow, and Skye felt herself blushing.
"No," She finally said lightly, "You don't." She glanced up at him, failing at her attempts to hide her grin, and Tony looked surprised. Coulson looked suspicious.
"Is there something illegal going on?" Coulson asked, and Tony grinned.
"Not unless there's some sort of SHIELD protocol against that sort of thing," He mused, and Pepper smacked his arm. "But like you said," He continued, winking toward Skye, "You want to do things a little differently. So I guess old SHIELD rules wouldn't matter anymore, anyway."
"SHIELD doesn't exactly exist anymore. Not in the same way." Coulson admitted, and Tony nodded, raising his glass toward them.
"Oh, I'm aware of that now." He pretended to sound perturbed, and Coulson looked pleased at his frustration. "So," Tony said to Skye, "you take the suit away from the man, and what is he?" Coulson raised his eyebrows toward Tony in surprise, as Skye pretended to think.
"Sexy." She finally said with a nod, and Coulson quickly turned toward her, his brow furrowing. She was giving him that look, and he turned forward, staring at the window behind Pepper and Tony.
They seemed to be waiting for his reaction. He pressed his lips together, then lifted the champagne glass and took a drink.
Tony let out a cheer, leaning forward to offer Skye a high five. She returned the gesture, with some embarrassment.
"Tony, you'll wake him!" Pepper admonished, smacking Tony again. Skye frowned, about to ask who she was talking about, and then they heard a faint crying. "Sorry," Pepper sighed, looking embarrassed. "I'll be right back." She stood and disappeared up the stairs, and Skye raised her eyebrows toward Tony.
"Is that a baby monitor?" She asked, noticing the small device sitting on the counter at the bar. Tony shrugged, offering her a timid smile. "As in, a baby?" Skye exclaimed, and Tony nodded hesitantly.
"You guys have a baby?" Coulson wondered, a soft smile on his face, and Tony nodded, looking proud.
"Yeah, and I think I'm doing great so far. I even used that line about watching him drool on the floor while I watch Supernanny." Tony said excitedly, and Coulson laughed. Skye looked at them with surprise, not catching Tony's reference but impressed that he got a real laugh out of Coulson. "Except, I actually like How It's Made, better, but you know."
"He's only two months old, dear; he has no idea what you're saying." Pepper informed Tony as she returned to the room, a bundle in her arms. Tony smiled and set his glass down, stretching his arm out behind her as she settled beside him on the couch.
"Two months?" Skye wondered. "How did I not notice that you were pregnant?" Pepper looked a little guilty.
"Well, I was seven months along while you were here, wasn't showing too much yet, and…" She hesitated. "Once we had a suspicion of who the owner of the car was – "
"Who your man was," Tony interrupted, earning an incredulous look from Coulson.
"We weren't sure how to tell you." Pepper admitted.
"Um," Coulson began.
"What do you mean?" Skye asked.
"I'm not – " Coulson tried again, and Skye put her hand on his knee.
"Shut up, AC, where do you think I got that condom, anyway?" Skye interrupted him, her attention focused on the other two.
Coulson looked chagrined, and the tips of his ears turned bright red. Tony grinned widely.
"Why were you unsure about telling me?" Skye asked again, and Pepper turned the little bundle in her arms so they could see the boy's face. Tony reached down and the baby wrapped his hand around his father's finger.
"Because…" Pepper looked nervously back up toward Coulson, "We named him Phil."
All emotion fell away from Coulson's face, and he just stared at her. He opened his mouth as if he were about to speak, but nothing came out, and his eyes dropped to the baby.
"You…" He said quietly, and Skye smiled.
"You named him after AC," She said softly, and Tony nodded.
"Would you like to hold him?" He asked Coulson, and Coulson blinked.
"Um," He said again, nervous, and Pepper stood, moving toward him.
"It's okay," She said, "He hasn't picked up Tony's personality yet." This made Coulson smirk, and he held his arms out for Pepper to nestle the baby against him. She stepped back and watched with a smile as the two Phil's stared at one another with wonder.
"You look like a natural," Skye teased him lightly, and he brushed his finger gently across the baby's head.
"You named him Phil," Coulson said unbelievably.
"He was born early. His little heart wasn't beating, and let me tell you, that was scary. But then everything was alright, and he was quite demanding right on out." Tony explained, continuing with a small smile, "He deserved the name." Coulson gave him a serious look.
"I'm honored." He said, and Tony nodded at him.
"So are we."
And Skye knew that he meant more than just the namesake of his child. He was talking about all of them, the Avengers, honored by Coulson's sacrifice.
Coulson looked down at baby Phil again, to hide the emotion in his face, and Skye reached over to touch his elbow.
"May I?" She asked, glancing toward Pepper, who nodded.
"Oh absolutely." She said, and Coulson nodded, carefully slipping the baby into Skye's arms.
She'd never actually held a newborn in her arms before, and she felt a little terrified, but she also felt safer that she was sitting down, and held him close against her. He looked up at her, his eyes still bright blue, and she couldn't help the smile that crossed her face.
"He even looks like you, a little bit," She told Coulson, staring at the baby in her arms.
"Thin hair and all," Coulson snarked, at the same time Tony said,
"See, I always found it suspicious that he let you call him Phil…"
Pepper laughed and punched Tony's arm. He flinched and held the wounded spot, looking over at her.
"My friends call me Phil," Coulson said to Tony, and he nodded.
"Yeah, I know, I know. Just teasing." He trailed off, and then perked up. "Hey, Skye, do you – "
"That's classified." Skye interrupted, continuing to look at baby Phil, making cooing faces at him. She glanced up at Coulson, and he was watching her with a proud look in his eyes.
"Uh-huh," Tony said, watching the two of them.
A/N.2: Also, I can't get enough of the Tony/Skye relationship.