Mind reading. That thing that was meant to be impossible. Telepathy.
When Skye had woken up and heard soft voices, as if from far away, she ignored them. Sounded like the others were up anyway.
When she ran into Trip in the kitchen she started to think something was up. He talked to her readily enough, but there was something under it that she couldn't quite make out, like he was saying two things at once.
It quickly became apparent that this was happening with everyone. Morning training with May was accompanied by flashes of sound, screams and cries, as well as a slight incoherent mumbling which was unmistakeably her SO's voice. Lunch with Lance and Mac consisted of monotonous rambling, from which she could pick out only vague words.
After lunch she called Simmons
"Hey." Skye said, wincing from the slight headache she had had all day.
"Hello Skye." Simmons said, smiling in greeting. "Is something wrong?"
Skye sat up on a unused bench, fiddling with her rings. "You- uh- you know what you said about mind reading? How it's impossible?"
Simmons regarded her curiously from the com screen. "Yes?"
Skye bit her lip. "I-if it was possible... what would happen?"
She frowned. "Well it's difficult to say. If one was experiencing another's thoughts the brain would probably interpret it as sound, but what kind of sound would be difficult to say, after all no one thinks with their speaking voice in terms of pitch or accent. Have you been feeling anyone else's emotions, or just thoughts?"
Skye balked. "What?"
Simmons shot her a reprimanding look. "You wouldn't ask if you weren't experiencing anything odd Skye. What's happened?"
Not for the first time Skye appreciated how much the they had changed over the last few months. "I've been hearing voices since I woke up this morning. I can't understand most of it, but..."
"Anything else you've noticed?" Simmons said, watching her carefully now.
Skye grimaced. "Headache?" She offered. "I'm not crazy!"
Simmons froze. "You heard that?"
"No, you're just looking at me that way." Skye scowled. "I don't think it works over distance, o-or something." She swallowed the lump in her throat. "What's happening to me?"
"I don't know." Simmons said. "But I promise we'll find out."
Coulson wasn't around, which was pretty normal these days. They had pulled him up on the main screen to tell him and May the news. Both were suitably shocked, though Coulson asked all the questions while May stood there quietly, though it looked and sounded like her mind was going at a thousand miles per hour.
After the meeting they all dispersed, Skye with instructions to report to Simmons immediately if she noticed any change. Thoughts were becoming slightly more coherent, but it was mostly just noise, especially when there were a few people around. Concentrating on any of the noise gave her a killer headache.
When Skye went down to the gym for her afternoon training with May, she instead found Hunter waiting for her, explaining that May had other matters to attend to, and that he would take over for this session.
That was unusual. May hadn't missed a training session since she had taken over as Skye's SO.
When she wasn't at dinner either, Skye got suspicious.
She tried to find her SO, looking in the gym, the rec room, the kitchen, her room, Coulson's office, and the garage. She was nowhere to be found.
May could see Skye looking around for her from the cockpit window. She was hiding. She was hiding and it was pathetic.
Half an hour later her phone trilled from her pocket. "Hello?" She said, picking it up.
"You're avoiding me." Skye said without preamble.
May sighed. "Skye-"
"I get it." She said, cutting her off. "I do, you don't want me in your head, that's fine. I just wanted to tell you you can stop sneaking around now."
May pursed her lips. "Thank you." She said softly. After a pause she felt the need to explain. "You know it's not you, Skye, I don't want anyone in my head. There are things that it's better you not know about me."
Skye shrugged. "Unless you're Hydra I don't think it'd make much difference." Her latest encounter with Ward came into her head and she felt the bile rise.
"Has your headache gone?"
Skye smiled sleepily and leaned back on her pillows. "Yeah. Some alone time, tea, and strong medication took care of that."
"Good. How was training with Hunter?"
Skye shrugged. "He favours his right and feints too much."
May smirked. "Who was training who?"
Skye giggled. "A bit of both I think. He didn't expect me to be any good."
"I hope you proved him wrong."
May smiled fully now. She was proud of her protégée. Skye picked things up very quickly, and absorbed all new information like a sponge. "Good. Will you be okay to train with him tomorrow morning?"
"I dunno." Skye said teasingly, "I don't know if Hunter knows tai chi. Think I could take the morning off?"
"In your dreams."
Skye pretended to think about it. "I could just tell him that you said I could, then sleep in until seven or something crazy like that."
May rolled her eyes. "I will get the Dwarves off Fitz to drag you down there if I have to."
The hacker grinned, but then her face cleared. "Fitz. Do you think I could help him, if I get this thing under control?"
May sighed softly. She had thought of that, but wasn't sure if reading a shredded book would do any good. The damage wasn't really fixable. "Maybe." She acknowledged.
Skye twisted her rings around. "I haven't seen him today." She said. "I didn't wanna know what he sounds like."
"I can understand that."
Skye swallowed. The weight of everything that she had been carrying lately threatened to crush her. "I just miss him, you know?" She bit her lip to hold back tears. "It's stupid, cos he's still here, but he's not, and I-I just want him to come back." It broke her heart to see Fitz like that.
"And Coulson and Simmons are actually gone. It's just..." She shouldn't be saying these things, but her head hurt and she was tired and she really needed a hug.
"They didn't leave because of you."
Skye laughed breathlessly. Once again May displayed how perceptive she was. "I know that. In my head. Part of me says they did though." May was silent and she sniffled, wiping the tears from her eyes. "Every home I've ever had has fallen apart, you know? A-and up until a few months ago, I thought it was always cos of me. I-I didn't fit, like a square peg in a round hole, but I didn't fit anywhere." Skye held her breath for a second. "I mean, I know it wasn't that now, b-but I just can't... I can't believe it. It just doesn't compute." She drew a shuddering breath. "Sorry, I shouldn't talk your ear off. I'll go to sleep now." If 'go to sleep' was code for 'cry into my pillow' then it was not lying.
Skye hung up and curled into a ball, trying to keep her breathing regular, even though she knew it was a lost cause. The voices from outside got louder and she groaned. "Can you guys please argue somewhere else?" She snapped loudly, but the voices did not cease, and a moment later her door opened.
It was May. She was on edge, that much was obvious from the way she was holding herself. But her thoughts, only just coherent, conveyed concern and affection.
Skye sniffled and wiped her eyes. "You don't have to- I'll be fine, really."
"I know." May said, but didn't leave, instead approaching the broken girl on the bed.
"I can't block it out." Skye mumbled as May sat down beside her, one hand going to her shoulder, lending her strength. "I-I don't know how." It was overwhelming, and on top of everything else it just became too much.
"You'll work it out." Her thoughts agreed, but there was still background noise. Echoing screams and yelling voices that were not May's.
Skye looked up at her mentor, then flung herself into her arms, hugging her tightly. "Thanks." She murmured thickly. "For everything. I don't say that enough."
"Happy to do it." May said, returning the embrace. Skye was helping her as much as she was helping Skye. Coulson had mentioned a few weeks ago that she was different, noting how much she was letting her walls down. Letting go of the utterly controlled specialist she had made herself to be.
"I noticed too." Skye mumbled. "I just didn't say anything. It suits you." It did. It wasn't even just that May was happier. It was that she was emoting more, letting people in more. It was the sarcastic comments and the bucket of water propped above the gym door when Skye was late for training one morning. It was the grin when Skye had accidentally on purpose called Lance 'Lance Hardwood' because she was convinced that 'Lance Hunter' was the name of a porn star.
May glared but there was no venom behind it. She knew that Skye couldn't help it at this point, and she had chosen to come and sit with her, because she didn't want her to feel alone. Skye must have heard that, because she immediately buried her head in May's shoulder.
There were probably things that Skye was thinking, that she wanted to say, but couldn't. May knew what that was like. To care for someone so deeply but have the words she wanted to say stick in her throat and only be left with 'you mean a lot to me'.
No. She wasn't thinking about this now, not when Skye was listening in, no.
She focused on that one word, concentrated on the denial, and Skye laughed softly into her shoulder. "If this is about your massive crush on our Director then don't bother. I don't need to read minds to work that out."
May pulled away and crossed her arms. "I don't know what you're talking about."
Skye grinned, "Yeah, sure." She said, clearly not believing her for a second. Her eyes were still red, but she was bouncing back, like she always did.
The pilot knew that her thoughts would give her away, so she tried to limit them, but Skye was smirking in that knowing way and she couldn't stop the odd thought sneaking through, so after a few seconds she went for the nuclear option.
Giraffes reaching high for leaves at the top of a tree.
Baby giraffes falling over their own legs.
Herds of giraffes galloping majestically across the plains.
Okay, so she didn't really know anything about giraffes. That didn't matter now though, because Skye was doubled over with laughter, doubtless having heard that too. "What the hell?" She gasped out between giggles.
May shrugged, a grin dancing across her face. "It worked, didn't it?" And it got Skye to laugh, which she needed.
Skye shoved her lightly. "Hey, you're the one with a better poker face than a freaking rock."
Fair enough. It was nice to see Skye working out this new ability though, and to see her coming out of her funk. Even if it meant she was going through May's head to do it.
They leaned back in synch, resting their backs against the wall. "You sound different." Skye mumbled sleepily, not quite noticing that the words were coming out of her mouth.
"From the others." Skye elaborated, only then realising that this was a road she probably shouldn't go down. "Trip and Mac and stuff."
Now Skye hesitated. "I-I don't know, just... I shouldn't have said anything, forget it."
Huh. Odd of Skye to change her mind like that. "What does it sound like?"
The hacker yawned. "Mostly, like, internal monologue stuff, just the voice in the back of your head, you know?" May nodded. "Got the mental image of the giraffes though, thanks for that."
May smiled slightly. "How do I sound different?" Was it just because she was the only woman who Skye had been exposed to since this power had manifested? Or was it something more insidious? Maybe she was really sick.
"I don't think it's anything like that." Skye said softly. She drew a slow breath. "It's like, there's something else. Voices through a tunnel or something."
"Shouting... screaming, gunshots... I-I can't understand any of it." Even as she spoke she could hear the sounds getting louder, echoing through May's consciousness, growing like an approaching wave. "No, no, don't!" Skye tried to backtrack as the noises overcame any other thought. "Stop!"
May curled in on herself, the memories of Bahrain crashing down on her again. It wasn't an unusual occurrence, and one she could usually hide fairly well, but this seemed to be one of the bad ones. One of the times when she lost herself and was left only with the memories of what happened in that place.
When her breathing had evened out and she had gotten the trembling under control, May became aware that Skye had wrapped her arms around her, holding her close and mumbling 'I'm sorry.' over and over.
"Skye." She said softly, shifting a little. "It's okay."
Skye shook her head tearfully, holding her tighter still. "No it's not. Setting off a panic attack is never okay. I..." She trailed off.
"You didn't know." She said softly. "I'm fine." And she really felt fine.
"That just makes it worse." Skye could hear that it was true. "Because it means this happens a lot."
Damnit. She was too shaken up to stop herself acknowledging it in her mind. May sighed softly. "Did you feel it?"
Skye finally loosened her arms from around her SO, but remained close, resting her head on her shoulder. "No, not really, the noise just got louder and louder, like... You were caught in a storm and I was watching it."
'Storm' was a bit of an exaggeration. She had definitely had worse.
Skye gasped and May realised her mistake. She grit her teeth in annoyance. "It's fine Skye, it's my problem."
The hacker squeezed her eyes shut and snuggled closer to May, trying to avoid hearing her thoughts at the same time. The more she got to know May better the more apparent her façade was. She could see the woman who loved so fiercely that she had to shut it all out, the woman haunted by memories that she shared with no one, even after twenty years. The woman who had taken up her training without a word, and since Coulson was away, was holding what was left of their team together.
Skye had never had a mother. She didn't really know what they were like. But she couldn't imagine anyone who would be better at it than Melinda May. "Love you." She murmured. Partly because she didn't know how long she'd be able to tell her friends that. Partly because she and May had had a very rocky relationship, and she wanted her to know.
May smiled gently and Skye felt her relax ever so slightly. The soft whisper of thoughts came again, but Skye tried not to decipher them.
May wrapped an arm around her student and hoped that it was enough. She did love Skye, impetuous young woman that she was. She was never any good at expressing her emotions in words though. Different people loved in different ways, and May loved through her actions. Phil was a little different. Like Skye, he loved with words, but only occasionally. Usually he loved with stuff. He liked to give people things to show how much he cared. She still had the throwing knives he had gotten her after their first assignment together, despite only having rudimentary skills with them.
Skye smiled sleepily. "You should talk to him." She said softly, eyes heavy. "He loves you too."
"You don't know that." There wasn't really any point in denying it.
"He'd be stupid not to."
She sighed softly. "Maybe."
Skye was silent, and when May turned to look at her she saw that her eyes were closed.
She snored pointedly, still cuddled up to May's side, head on her shoulder.
May rolled her eyes and tried to escape from her 'sleeping' student but even as the thought occurred to her, arms wrapped around her waist, holding her tight.
She had to bite the inside of her lip to keep from laughing at Skye's antics. "Skye." She said, more pointedly.
"Sssshhhh." Skye shushed, eyes still closed. "I'm asleep."
Uh huh. "You know I can make you let go."
Skye smiled, still maintaining the guise of sleep. "Not without breaking my nose or something. I don't think you're gonna do that."
"You don't scare me."
She couldn't hide how happy the comment made her, and Skye giggled softly, picking up on it. "You're a softie."
Behind the teasing though, May could see that Skye really didn't want her to go. She had lost so many people and right now she needed someone to stay with her. Skye was afraid of this new ability, afraid of herself, and she needed someone who wasn't afraid of her too. May could be that.
Skye's arms around her loosened, becoming more of a hug than a trap, and a moment later she drifted off to sleep.
It took May half an hour after that to fall asleep herself.
She still woke Skye at five for tai chi.