It was fine, really, that the team didn't trust her. She had never given them a reason to trust her, or to regard her as a friend. During team game nights she stayed locked inside the cockpit. Most of the time she was in the cockpit, unless she was sleeping, and more than once she found herself dozing off in the pilots seat. She barely spoke to Fitzsimmons or Skye unless it was on a mission, and most of her conversations with the latter were arguments anyway.
So yeah, it was fine. She had kept their relationships completely professional, and got the reactions that resulted from that.
And if Phil decided that all she was now was an ally, then that was... expected.
She was fine. Melinda May didn't want friends any more, and she had none. So it didn't hurt that Skye would point a loaded gun at her so willingly, the only comfort against May opening fire on her being that Coulson would shoot her too if she did. As if she would ever hurt Skye, especially after seeing the girl with holes ripped through her.
They were all afraid of her.
Of course they were. They had seen her in action countless occasions. They knew the legend of the Cavalry. It was fine that they were afraid. That they would feel the need to keep her at such a distance, with two guns pointed at her head and a wall of bulletproof glass between her and the engineer.
After all, she was dangerous. They didn't want her to hurt anyone, which she easily could. She wasn't really a member of this team. She was more like a controlled natural disaster that could destroy things on command. She would always be lethal. She hated it.
May didn't intend to fall asleep in the cockpit. They weren't even in the air, so she really had no need to be there except for the solitude, the comforting blackness.
'Put it down May!'
'It's not what you think Coulson.' She was back in the loading bay, but something was different.
'FITZ!' Skye screamed.
He lay on the ground by the lab doors, convulsing and surrounded by a pool of blood.
Suddenly she was falling, the others screaming that she had done this, that she was a danger to everyone, a murderer 'No,' She tried to say, 'No, I'm not.'
Next thing she was surrounded by all of their prone bodies, gun still in her hand and their blood spread across the floor like a blanket.
Skye, stomach wound.
Coulson wasn't shot. He had been impaled through the chest with the Berserker staff. Her hands were covered with warm blood, the thick liquid dripping from her fingertips.
No. This wasn't right. She wouldn't do this, not to them...
'Well done.' A faceless figure emerged from the shadows.
May was torn from her sleep by soft knocking at the door. She immediately stood and went to it, not opening the door or making a sound, silently wiping her eyes. "May?"
She let out a breath she didn't even notice she had been holding. Fitz. Not Hydra, not Coulson, who she couldn't even look at right now. Fitz. Who she didn't want to face, nonetheless, so she was silent and waited for him to leave. The door was locked.
After a moment he murmured, "I know you're in there." Damn. She remained silent. "I can also pick this lock in about ten seconds if I want to."
Well. That was unusually bold. She stood against the door now, holding it shut. Childish, maybe, but right now she couldn't find it in herself to care.
May could feel his tinkering with the lock, and after a moment, the force as he tried to open it. When the door still didn't open, Fitz realised what she must be doing.
He sighed. "I brought tea." He lied softly, knowing it wouldn't work.
May felt tears well up for reasons she couldn't quite understand. She blinked heavily and bit her lip, leaning against the door.
Fitz sat down on the floor, resting his back against the door. He bit his lip. "Look, I-I wanted to apologise for earlier." He laughed softly, "Broad, I know." He paused again. "I should have trusted you."
She slid down to the floor, unknowingly sitting in the exact position of her teammate. Neither were aware of it, but they had never been in such close proximity.
"I just- I dunno, I felt likeI'd done something wrong, I was... scared."
Of course he was. They were all afraid of her. They should be.
"I overreacted." He admitted. "I know the ICER wouldn't really hurt me, I know you wouldn't-" He stopped.
Probably realised that that wasn't true.
"I know you'd never betray us." He said after a silence.
What did he mean?
"I mean, you retired." He was going on the little he knew about May. "And you can still fight, so you did it cos you didn't want to be in the field." He sighed. "I think you came back to protect Agent Coulson."
The tears were threatening to fall again. May rubbed her eyes with the heel of her hand.
"And since he's not Hydra, obviously you wouldn't be either. You-" Fitz broke off, finding the words to express what he was thinking. He formed his sentences carefully. "I can't say you wouldn't ever hurt any of us, because if we were a threat to the others then I know you would. I don't think you'd do anything unnecessary though, so if you were going to shoot me because you thought I was a danger..." He trailed off into silence. Fitz didn't even know if May was actually listening or if she had just jammed a magazine under the door earlier and gone to sleep.
He stayed, trying to reach her through the door and through her impenetrable walls. Savouring the silence, the darkness. He knew that all some people needed was some time and patience.
"I didn't know it was you." The voice was quiet and broken and so unlike Melinda May that it took Fitz a second to identify it. He said nothing. This moment, or whatever it was they were having, didn't call for response. "None of you were around, and the power was out, and my line to Fury was cut, so..."
The breath she drew was audible and shaky and Fitz wondered if she was crying. Put that way, he could understand anyone being a little trigger-happy, especially with a non-lethal gun
Their bodies were so clear in May's mind, holes clean through, impersonal and uncaring, blood pooling around her boots.
"It was only an ICER." He couldn't think of anything else to say. He didn't know how to reach out to May without getting it wrong. She was so strong, so independent.
"Because that's what was in my hands." May shuddered, tears stinging her eyes even as she tried to force them back.
"No." If he could have Fitz would have hugged her, no matter how awkward it would be. "No. You never shoot first, ask questions later. Worries me sometimes to be honest." He smiled. "Don't want you getting shot by some scared kid cos you stop to think about a situation."
They were both silent, remembering what had happened at the Hub. They were all dealing with their world falling apart, the ground crumbling under them even as they tried to take a step forwards. They had all faced fear, and all had defeated it.
Fitz had always felt that he was worth less than agents like May and Ward because he was smaller, younger. Weaker.
He was strong in ways May couldn't even fathom. She had her plan for when Garrett had the guards open fire, namely to jump in front of Coulson, giving him time to escape, with some luck. She had her mission, and it was the same as it had always been. Fitz didn't have that suicidal sense of duty, didn't have the disregard for his own life, but he met Garrett's threats all the same.
And he had saved her life. "Thank you." May mumbled, not caring whether or not Fitz heard her.
He did. "You've saved me and the others enough." He muttered. "About time I returned the favour."
"You all did that already." The words slipped out, unintended.
Fitz absorbed the information. He knew quiet people. He was one of them after all. Sometimes his friends just being there, an unused resource, was more than enough to remind him that he wasn't as alone as he once was.
When he was a child he lived in a small town with his mother. His father had left when he was a baby. There was no one there like him, no one who understood him. The worst part was that he thought that that was what the world was. People who were bigger than him and stronger than him, and he was just some weird, useless kid.
It turned out that he wasn't, of course. But the loneliness still dogged him.
How long had May worked in administration? Hiding her identity from all she could, burying herself in paperwork. Forced solitude. Self-inflicted punishment.
"I didn't want to go into the field you know." He said. "Simmons talked me into it. She was gonna go anyway, and... I couldn't let her go alone, even if I didn't think I was ready. Needed to make sure she was safe."
They had that in common. "I wouldn't have." She said softly. "But I knew that if I refused, Fury would send someone else."
"It's been good." Fitz said after a pause, thinking back on the last few months with a smile. "Don't tell Simmons I said that, but... It's been fun. In between the life threatening parts."
May thought back on it all. The giant mess that her life had become. Everything was neat and organised in administration. The people were simple and distant, the paperwork was neatly stacked and stapled.
On the Bus everything was all over the place. They had a pair of scientists who were practically joined at the hip, and possibly alien hacker, an assassin whose childhood was a psychologists wet dream, and their commanding officer was a zombie. That was without even touching on May herself.
She had become a lot of other things since joining this ragtag team though. She had become a protector for these people. She had become a confidant. She had become what the others called 'the cookie ghost', because they still hadn't figured out who kept baking in the middle of the night. She had found parts of herself she had thought were long dead. The part of her who loved pranks, the part of her who smiled, the part who trusted people. The part who wanted the others to like her. The part that was genuinely hurt that they didn't.
Fitz took the silence as agreement. "We're friends, right?" He asked, feeling very foolish.
May sat up in surprise, turning to look at the door even though she couldn't see Fitz. She was struck dumb by the question.
The engineer immediately backtracked, blushing a little. "Sorry, I-I've never been any good at making friends is all. Forget it."
He shifted, starting to stand when May replied softly. "I hope so."
Fitz stopped moving and smiled brightly. "Good. Me too." He paused. "Do you want some food or anything? A biscuit?" He asked pointedly, "They're really good."
May smiled secretively. "No thanks."
"Cup of tea?" Innocent now. "With cream, right?"
Oh. So he'd worked that out. She tried to keep her voice neutral so that he wouldn't know that she was smiling. "No, usually just black."
Fitz grinned. "Huh, for some reason I link you and cream. Can't think why."
"The brain can make strange associations."
Fitz snickered and May's smile widened. She found it a lot easier to smile unobserved.
Maybe Phil wasn't her only friend. If Fitz could forgive her, then maybe he could too. Maybe they had noticed that she cared about them. Maybe she was a part of this little team.
And that was fine.