Skye had gone AWOL and the team was in a frenzy. The entire city had collapsed on them. Mack was unconscious, and God knew what state he would be in when he woke. Fitz, Simmons and Coulson had made it out with only superficial injuries, and Hunter and Bobbi weren't far enough in to begin with.
They had gotten out readily enough, made it back to the Bus. No one even questioned leaving until they found Skye though.
Coulson's injuries were really quite severe, and Simmons had insisted that he stay behind. He had tried to get up anyway, but found May in his way. "I'll find her." She had said firmly, "You need to rest. Run back end for once in your life."
None of them had the first clue what had happened to Skye.
Tripp was dead. May felt her chest seize up as she remembered that fact. They had found his clothes, and Simmons had run tests on the hardened remains, confirming it. Simmons had cried. They had all cried, except May.
She had a mission to complete.
There had been tremors in San Juan ever since the city had collapsed. They were all unnoticeable to anything but seismographs, but at the same time something was clearly off.
Fitz and Simmons had kept track of them, sending the information to May's tablet as she tried to track Skye around the city. She wasn't letting herself imagine the possibility that something had happened to her.
"May, there's something." Simmons' voice came over her comms.
"You found Skye?" She asked.
"No, but it's something odd."
"What is it?" She stepped into a back alley as two Hydra agents walked past. Basic training, they didn't spot her when she was dressed in civilian clothes for Gods sakes.
"These tremors. They're reaching out." May heard the sounds of a keyboard clacking. "They're like a wave, stronger the closer to their source they are."
"And what's their source?"
More clacking. "I can't be sure exactly." She said. "But they seem to be coming from a stretch of caves nearby."
"No, not at this time of year. Tours would usually begin yesterday, but with the tremors going on, those kind of activities are on hold."
May nodded. "I'll check it out."
Simmons sighed. "I'm going to tell you it's too dangerous." She said. "And you're going to ignore me completely and go anyway."
"I'll be fine."
"We've lost enough people recently May, we can't lose you too."
"I'll be careful."
"Good. If you haven't been back in contact in two hours I'm sending Bobbi and Hunter after you."
May had no idea what she thought she would find in the caves by the sea. Most of them had nothing in them. Two had some seagulls. After half an hour of climbing around she hit gold. "Skye." She was curled into the foetal position deep within a sandstone cave. It wasn't dark, but it was big.
The girl looked up. She was shaking violently and tears stained her face. When she saw May she scrambled backwards, the sandstone crumbling slightly at her feet and an ominous quake shaking the cave. "No- no, May, you can't be here." She hiccuped. "You've gotta go."
"I'm not going anywhere without you." She tried to get closer to her student, but Skye's voice stopped her.
May stopped moving, holding her hands up in a show of peace. "Okay." She said, "I'm not coming any closer until you want me to."
"You have to leave, please." Skye sobbed, burying her head in her hands.
"Not happening." Skye's trembling did not go away and a slight tremor in the earth send loose sand shifting. "Skye, we have to get out of here, the tremors could get worse."
"I can't- I-I- tried."
"You got in here, you can get out." May extended her hand. "I can help."
Skye shook her head. "I-I don't know how to make it stop."
"I don't know what you're talking about Skye."
The girl's tears started again. "I-I can't." She whispered, burying her head in her knees again. The tremors returned.
"Hey." May said gently. "Remember how we start tai chi?"
Skye gulped, not looking up. "Breathing."
May nodded. "Breathe." She instructed.
As Skye began to do that, May noted that the miniature earthquakes had lessened slightly. Odd.
"Can I come over?"
Skye curled in on herself more, brown eyes wide.
"I won't hurt you."
A stronger tremor sent some rocks toppling over, across the cave. "That's not the problem." Skye said softly. A moment later she shrieked as the rock between them shook with the strongest quake yet, cracking the cave floor.
May saw the crack between them widening and her eyes fixed on Skye.
"No-" Was all Skye got out before her SO had cleared the gap, jumping over to her. Both their heads snapped around to the cave entrance as several large rocks fell down, blocking the entrance.
When May turned back to Skye she found that the younger woman had moved as far away from her as she could get. "Skye." She said softly, extending a hand. "Tell me what happened." It was dark now, but cracks in the rock let in slivers of sunlight.
Skye's breathing was back to being jumpy and her eyes were glued to the pile of rocks obstructing the entrance. "How are you gonna get out?"
"We are going to get out when Simmons sends Hunter and Bobbi after me in about an hour." May said firmly, leaving no room for argument. She moved towards Skye until she was next to her. "Tell me what happened."
Whatever it was, it was bad. Skye was in pieces, broken almost completely. May had never really seen that look on somebody else. "T-Tripp." She mumbled, hot tears stinging her eyes. May put one arm around her gently. "H-he's dead."
"I know." Her voice sounded choked and when Skye looked at her she saw that May was crying too.
May didn't cry. She never cried. Even when Coulson was captured, even when Ward had betrayed them, she didn't cry. She fought. This just meant that it was real. Tripp was dead, and there was nothing to be done. "It's my fault."
"I don't believe that." May wiped her eyes with the heel of her hand. "What happened?"
Skye was trembling again, as was the cave. "I-I followed Raina." She said, her knees curling up to her chest. "There was a- a chamber, in the temple, and I followed her there." Her head was bowed. "She- had the obelisk, said we'd find out what we become or something. Tripp- he- he came in after me, to get me out, but the door sealed." She was becoming more and more panicked, remembering. "T-the obelisk, it opened, and sent out this- wave. Me and Raina started to turn to stone, but he was okay." Skye's hands were clasping over her head. "He smashed it." She sobbed. "To save me, he broke it, but then he turned to stone, and it just peeled off me like a shell."
May tightened her arm around Skye, failing not to cry. "It wasn't your fault."
"I-I broke him. We might have been able to turn him back, b-but he just crumbled, and I did that."
"What do you mean?"
Skye didn't look up. "T-the obelisk, my- Cal, he said it wakes up what's inside. It woke up something in me, a-and now I can't make it stop." The ground beneath them shook again and May started to realise what Skye meant.
Whether consciously or not, Skye was leaning away from her. "I can feel them." She whispered. "Inside me, like they're trying to get out, and I-I can't make it stop."
May stared at her, stunned.
"I know it sounds crazy," Skye said, "I just- I know it's me."
"It does sound crazy." May acknowledged. "So does an alien city under San Juan. So does a lot of the things we've been dealing with lately."
Skye shivered and the earthquake accompanying it did seem to mirror her action with a strange accuracy. "You should go." She said softly. "There's a gap up there, you can climb out and go."
"I'm dangerous May, just leave." She sounded cold. May knew exactly what she was doing. Telling her to leave, because then when she did it was because Skye told her to, and it wasn't as bad as being left behind. She had done the same, once upon a time.
"I'm more dangerous than you are." She matched Skye's stubbornness and then some. "I will drag you out of this cave if I have to. I'm not losing anyone else."
"Please." May wondered if Skye even knew what she was asking for now.
"I'm not leaving you Skye. I won't let you go again."
"He said you'd leave!" It burst from her along with a quake that sent some of the rocks tumbling, and May knew that Skye didn't mean to let it out.
"Who said?" One of them had to keep their heads.
Skye shuddered again, the cave wall extending the action. "M-my dad. He said that I was gonna change, and that no one'd understand, and everyone would leave me."
Melinda resolved then that one day she would meet this man, and on that day she would make him regret everything he had done to Skye. "He was right about something." Skye looked up at her, eyes full of tears. "I don't understand what's happened to you. I don't know how to help you control this. But that doesn't mean that I won't try. And no matter what, I'm not going to leave you. None of us are." She smiled a little. "We're SHIELD, remember? Dealing with unusual occurrences is our job."
A few tears slipped past her eyes and Skye threw herself into May's arms, hugging her tightly. "Thank you." She choked out, burying her face in May's shoulder.
May wrapped her arms around the younger woman, noting that the tremors in the earth had abetted. She didn't say anything. She didn't need to. One hand went up to gently stroke Skye's hair, like she remembered her mother doing for her when she was upset. She loved this girl so damn much. When had that even happened?
"We should get out of here." May said, once Skye had calmed down a little. "Back to the Bus so you can get some sleep." Because she obviously hadn't slept since this ordeal had begun.
"Don't worry about them." May interrupted firmly. "You're exhausted and a complete mess. I'll deal with it."
Skye squeezed her tighter still. That was what May did. She dealt with things. She didn't say that she cared, she would just do things for people and often not admit to it. She had lost track of the number of times that Coulson had sarcastically noted that he thought he still had paperwork to do while May suppressed a smile. Or the times that after a bad day, May would come to sit in the common area with her, bringing two cups of tea and a couple of books.
The hacker felt tears well up again, but they were the good kind. The kind that realised that she had found a place. "Okay." She said softly, pulling away. "Let's go."
May smiled ever so slightly and stood, extending a hand to help Skye up. Both their heads turned towards the crack in the ground and the obstructed exit. "Not a problem to jump." May said, and it was true that the crack was barely a meter wide.
"I'll go first, okay?"
She nodded again. They could do this. May jumped the distance, landing perfectly on the other side. Skye followed, landing less gracefully, but it got the job done.
May's face tightened when she observed the rocks around the cave entrance. "They don't look very stable." She mused, carefully climbing onto one of the larger ones, testing the nearby rocks to see if they would shift.
"That's not safe." Skye said, worry painted across her features.
"Do you have a better idea?" Skye had learned quickly that May did ask those kind of questions seriously.
"I-I could... I could try, I guess."
May turned, meeting her eyes. "You think you can do it?"
Skye nodded. "Yeah, I think so."
May nodded too, climbing down and away from the entrance. She trusted Skye, and it was something that Skye treasured.
The younger woman focused on her breathing, like in meditation, feeling the vibrations in her hands build gradually until they reached their peak and she directed them at the landslide trapping them.
The rocks crumbled all at once, loudly falling into a pile of rubble that flooded in all directions. Both women were hit with a large burst of salty air and sunlight.
May's eyes were wide at the display. After a moment, she dryly said, "I think that might come in handy."
Skye eyed her hands hesitantly. "I don't know."
May put one hand on her shoulder. "Tripp wouldn't want you to be afraid of yourself." When Skye was silent she said, "It wasn't your fault."
Skye nodded. She knew that it was true, but he was still gone. A small tremor had the rubble settling flatter. "We should go."
Melinda nodded, "Come on." She said, carefully climbing across the uneven ground into the light, Skye right behind her. They would get through this. As a team.