A/N: I don't own any of these characters. I'm just taking them out for a spin.
A/N1: For the sake of the story The Avengers know that Coulson is alive even though he hasn't contacted them.
Since being thawed and the Battle of New York Steve Rodgers had been tirelessly taking on the more difficult problems that seemed to plague SHIELD. The issues that had been exposed by Stark still rankled him but, he stayed. Learning that Peggy was one of the leading forces behind the organization gave him a sense of meaning. Steve desperately wanted to ensure that SHIELD remained true to his first loves vision, even if at the moment he had his doubts that her memory was being honored in these halls.
He had just completed a relatively simple mission and returned to the Hub for debriefing. SHIELD had been tracking and attempting eradicate a group that was trying to turn people into puppet soldiers with super human strength. Centipede was starting to become more and more irritating with every unsuccessful raid.
Steve spotted the group as soon as he walked out of the locker room near the hangar bay and stopped in his tracks. While he had been told that Coulson miraculously recovered from his wounds this was the first time Steve saw the man up and walking for himself. He briefly considered calling out to get Coulson's attention however, he quickly decided that he would prefer any conversation the would have to be in a more private place than a crowded SHIELD hallway. So instead he elected to follow the group Coulson was walking with and try to covertly pick up on the things Coulson was handling these days.
Steve glanced over each of the people with Coulson. Though he didn't recognize any of them it was easy to tell the taller man in the standard issue suit was a black ops specialist and the leather clad Asian woman was at least a field agent if not a specialist as well. He also assumed the two were that were quietly babbling words he couldn't pronounce, let alone understand, were science officers.
But it was the small girl with the long brown hair that he couldn't quite place. His eyes kept drifting to her as he followed the group discreetly. Even with the distance he was keeping Steve could see she was pretty. It was when she swiveled around a bit that he saw her face as she looked around and he realized pretty wasn't the right word. This girl was breath taking.
If getting to have a chat with Coulson wasn't enough incentive to keep an eye on this group, the girl certainly was.
As the team moved toward the security check point Skye couldn't help but be impressed by the massive base they were heading into. She had always assumed that SHIELD was a massive organization. She had never considered that they had massive secret bases to boot. "Wow, I didn't realize that big brother was this… big."
The science twins looked to her with excited smiles but it was Simmons that spoke first, "Oh this is nothing! Wait until you see the Triskellion!"
While they continued walking in the hallway Skye's head kept swiveling around. She was trying to take in as much as she could. It wasn't every day that a hacker that previously spent a great amount of time leaking this very organizations secrets was invited in. "Umm everyone is wearing the same suit. Someone tell me why please…"
Coulson shook his head, laughing to himself. He was always surprised by the way Skye's brain analyzed things. It was impossible to guess what she would say or do next. He just continued to lead the team to the security check point that would issue the temporary badges that gave access to the various facilities in the Hub.
"Don't I get one?" Skye questioned when everyone else clipped the ID tags on.
Pointing to the bracelet that had been attached to Skye's wrist since the Miles incident Coulson informed her, "That's your badge, which means you've got a long way to go to even make level one."
Skye glanced down at the constant reminder of the mistake she had made. She realized that just because the team had forgiven her didn't mean that the situation was forgotten yet. "Copy that." She sighed then decided to try and plead her case to Coulson. "But does that also mean that no access to any computers whatsoever? I just want to run a search on the redacted SHIELD file about my parents…"
She was interrupted by a wary sounding Coulson, "Skye…"
"But it just seems like the place they would keep them, right?" She quietly pressed.
Coulson stopped Skye with a hand to her shoulder and made sure he had her full attention. "I promise I will look into this for you. But right now we have more pressing matters at hand, okay?"
Skye nodded and watched as Coulson began talking with another agent with an incredibly shiny head. Fits and Simmons stopped next to her eyes following Coulson as well.
Simmons couldn't keep the awe from her voice, "Victoria Hand…"
"Is here." Fits finished in the strange way they usually ended one another sentences.
Skye took a couple steps toward the door the others had entered, hoping to just catch a glimpse of what all the fuss was about. There was no way to stop the surprised squeal from escaping when her bracelet was suddenly pulled and locked to a panel near the door.
Fits and Simmons both chuckled at the predicament Skye found herself in. The chuckles turned to full blown laughter when Skye looked to them and asked, "Is this their subtle way of telling me to stay here?"
Turning back to where she thought Fitz and Simmons were, all Skye saw was the pair scurrying off babbling something about new equipment. She grumbled to herself, "I don't think it likes me here."
Steve had followed the group until they all split off leaving Skye. With the help of his advanced hearing he caught most of their conversations and now he was even more intrigued by the beautiful girl. She wasn't an agent and the tracking bracelet seemed to indicate that she had done something that made SHIELD monitor and limit her access but she remained valuable enough that Coulson wanted her around.
He stood next to one of the many pillars in the hall way and continued watching her for a few more moments. Steve bit back a laugh when she tried to tug her hand away from the wall panel with an adorable pout. After a few seconds passed the system seemed to suddenly deactivate and caused her to stumble.
That's what did it. Steve couldn't stop the laugh escaping his mouth. He watched Skye's eye snap to where he stood watching her. He got to watch her eye widen in recognition and surprise then her cheeks color with embarrassment.
They stared at one another for what felt like an eternity to Steve until he heard his name being paged over the PA system requesting his presence in the debrief room.
Before turning to make his way to the meeting Steve shot Skye a friendly smile and casual wave. He was a little disappointed that the moment was over but made promise to himself that he'd to get another one with the mysterious Skye.
After Agents Coulson, May, and Ward had told the rest of the team a vague description of the situation Fitz stood in his bunk packing a small pack of items that would be likely be needed in order to complete this assignment. He was only giving Jemma half an ear, his brain still processing that he was going out in the field.
"I just can't believe you're going in the dark, into hostile territory, without comms, lacking any real physical strength…." She spoke in a rush as she picked at the hem of her sweater.
"I'll be fine." Fitz tried to sound comforting but failed even to his own ears.
Jemma nodded, trying to force herself to remain positive. "Did you pack the antivenin pack I gave you? You know the Caucasus have a plethora of highly endemic spider species and that's the last thing you should be worried about while you're out there…"
Fitz finally turned to give the anxious woman his full attention. "Jemma, stop. Stop worrying about me. I can do this." He turned back to his bag rechecking to make sure that he had in fact packed the kit. "Thank you."
The two sat in silence for a few moments, too many thoughts to voice all at once. It was Fitz who finally spoke up again. "And don't you do anything rash while I'm gone. Like jump out of an airplane."
"Well, you'll be careful, right?" Jemma still needed to be reassured that he would come back in one piece. "Oh! I almost forgot I made you your favorite sandwich. Prosciutto and buffalo mozzarella-"
"With your home made aioli?!" He beamed.
After he finishing packing, a process that required both of the younger female agents checking to ensure he included various things the three moved to join Coulson, May, and Ward in the control center. As they entered May was continuing the mission break down with Ward. "You need to disable the overkill device by 0600 tomorrow in order to prevent the separatist attack."
Ward nodded not taking his eye off the interactive map currently displayed on the holotable. It was Coulson that offered the next step, "Once you signal SHIELD the extraction team will get you both out."
Ward thought Coulson would leave it at that and was a little surprised when the older man looked him in the eyes and quietly said, "Take care of him."
It was interesting for Ward to see a supervising officer that genuinely cared about the agents in his command. Coulson was the first lead agent that seemed to value everyone on his bus. He tried to show Coulson that he was taking Fitz's safety very seriously when he agreed, "Of course, sir."
"Alright more moving and less talking Agent Ward. Time is not on our side." Fitz finally spoke up breaking what was becoming a very tense moment.
The moment it was just Skye and Coulson still in the room, she turned and confronted him. "Does this feel okay to you? Shouldn't we be going with them? Handling this as a team?"
Coulson couldn't help the momentary desire to whole heartedly agree with the girl that was slowly becoming one of the few people in the world that made him question the choices he was making. Instead he took a deep breath and reached out to put a comforting hand on her shoulder. "The people who put together this op are the best of the best. They know what they're doing. And I promise I will keep my eye on it, okay?"
Skye shook her head and moved to follow the rest of the group out. She knew she wouldn't feel better until Ward and Fitz were back safely on the bus where they belonged.
The debrief of the latest Centipede fiasco took longer than Steve expected it to. By the end of the ordeal he was getting more and more anxious that he had missed the opportunity to clear the air with Coulson and hopefully actually meet Skye.
Sure, he'd only seen the girl briefly but, he wasn't dead and she was gorgeous. He couldn't help but be intrigued. She didn't look like the typical SHIELD agent so why was she walking around with Coulson? What was the tracking bracelet on her wrist for?
At the first opportunity, Steve jogged over to the nearest security desk and got the attention of the agent on duty. "Excuse me, ma'am?"
"How can I help you?" She asked in a bored tone without bothering to look up from her computer screen.
"I was just wondering if you could tell me if a certain agent is still in the building."
"You would have to have a level –," When she finally glanced up, Steve saw the recognition flash on her eyes and watched her entire face flush with embarrassment. "I'm so sorry Captain Rogers! I didn't realize it was you. Of course I can see if an agent is available… I'll just need the name."
Sometimes being easily recognized had its perks and this was definitely one of them. "Agent Phil Coulson."
He watched as the desk agent typed something into the screen before looking up at him with an overly flirtatious smile. "Agent Coulson is still on site. His command is docked in Bravo hanger bay while he assists on a mission being coordinated in the East situation room."
"Thank you ma'am."
Steve decided to take a peek into the situation room first. When Fury told him that SHIELD doctors had managed to revive Coulson after the Battle of New York, Steve felt like a huge weight had been lifted from his shoulders. Though, he hadn't been able to develop a deep relationship with the agent, Steve had respected him and saw how the idea of his death effected the rest of the Avengers. It took a great man to inspire that much loyalty from such a diverse group.
It was easy to tell even before reaching the door to the situation room that the operation was in full swing. People could be seen walking around different stations, there seemed to be a constant stream of agents entering or leaving the room. Whatever what going on looked important. Steve could just make out Coulson's silhouette among the agents staring at the huge display map. It struck Steve that if he wanted to try and get a relatively private moment with Coulson his best bet would be to wait in this area to snag him as he left the operation room. He found a small bench along the wall that was out of the way but still allowed him to watch the room's entrance. He'd waited a year to see his friend again so keeping a little bit of patience wouldn't be difficult.
With Ward and Fitz gone to God knows where and Coulson still holed up in the situation room it was just the three girls in bus' lab area. Well, just the girls and the dozen or so techs that seemed to be carrying out all the maintenance throughout the plane in one go.
Simmons turned away from her computer screen just in time to see one such tech almost knock Fitz's new night night gun to the floor. "Oh! No, no, no, no, no, no!" She snatched it away and quickly put it in her bag. It was the only place that seemed safe from the busy hand of all the people milling about.
"Can you imagine what Fitz would do if the night night gun was broken when he came back?" Jemma laughed glancing up at Skye and May. It struck her again that she had no idea when Fitz would be back so she turned to her friend for reassurance. "Surely he'll be okay out there, right?"
Skye desperately wanted to alleviate the stress she saw in Simmons' eyes but, she just couldn't shake this awful feeling about the mission the boys were on. Instead of trying to placate Simmons, Skye decided to try a pry some more useful answers out of May. "Well, Agent May is level 7. Maybe she could give us an update on their mission."
May kept he face as passive as possible while the two girls cast hopeful glances her way. This was a question she was not willing to answer.
"Does that face mean you know something and you can't tell us or that you don't know anything?" Skye persisted. "Which non expression is this?"
Even though May not always show it, there were times she greatly enjoyed Skye's smart mouth. May cast a pointed look at the young hacker, "We know what we are supposed to know. When we have more information we'll react."
When the lab fell into an awkward silence May spoke up, "Everyone clear out. I need to run diagnostics and reboot all the systems. That includes you two."
Skye and Simmons gathered up their bags and started walking back into the Hub. Skye still couldn't shake the feeling that something was really wrong. "Look you guys may be ok with being in the dark but I'm not into it. I need answers… And I know just the person who has them."
Simmons listened to Skye's rant and silently agreed. Thinking that she may not fully agree with the compartmentalization of intel like she had previously. "Who are you going to ask?"
"Coulson. I'm obviously talking about Coulson."
Steve had been sitting in the same spot waiting for Coulson to leave the operation room for a little more than thirty minutes when it finally happened. The man in question seemed to be deeply engrossed in his thoughts as he didn't even glance where Steve had been sitting.
Just as Steve was about to catch up to Coulson, Skye rushed past him calling out. "Hey Coulson. Fancy seeing you here."
She had been close enough that Steve could add one more hint about her. She smelled like vanilla and sugar. He let them walk a few more paces then chose to follow and eavesdrop. Though he knew it wasn't the most polite thing to do it was also the best way to figure out what was going on. Coulson looked tense, Skye looked tense. Steve was just more intrigued.
Coulson sighed. Steve could see the tension in his shoulders even from ten paces behind. "Skye… I told you I would look into the file about your parents…"
The list of questions Steve was compiling seemed to grow with every passing moment. Why did she need to search about her parents in a SHIELD file? Were they agents? He focused his attention on the task at hand.
"No, I know. That's not why I'm here. I just wanted to know more about Ward and Fitz's mission. Simmons is seriously starting to unravel without Fitz here and I want to help calm her down a bit." Her voice was filled with concern. Steve smiled and added caring friend to what intrigued him about Skye.
When the pair stopped walking Steve turned tried to look like he was reading one of the screens on the wall as he continued to listen. "I know this is hard to hear but, you don't have the clearance to know the details of this mission, Skye."
The standard issue SHIELD answer made Steve's stomach turn. SHIELD seemed to be riddled with secrets and nothing good ever seemed to come from them. Skye's tone become a little angry, "But I do have eyes. I saw six squads in full tactical gear, three crates of RPGs, and a full crew of analysts head into operations. Are you really trying to tell me that had nothing to do with Ward and Fitz's mission?
Steve was impressed. He seen each of the Avengers back down from arguing with Coulson. Yet, this tiny slip of girl showed no fear and was almost baiting him not just with emotion but with facts. Skye had guts.
"You need to trust the system, Skye." Coulson said with an odd amount of kindness in his voice. Steve watched as the agent even squeezed her arm in a gesture of comfort.
He watched as Coulson continued walking but Skye remained where she was. While she seemed disappointed, Steve seriously doubted she was just going to go along with what Coulson said. He could see it in the determined set of her jaw.
When someone else approached Skye it took Steve a second to recognize where he has seen this girl before. It was the female science officer that had been walking with the group this morning. The hope was hard to miss when she asked Skye how it went.
"Nothing." Skye snorted. "He's acting like a robot version of himself right now."
A few moments passed in silence as Steve continued to watch over them. When he began to consider that maybe Skye was going to let her questions go he heard her speak with new resolve. "If we want the truth we've got to get it ourselves."
The science officer seemed to consider this for a moment. "Ok… how would you suggest we…? Oh! Wait, no!"
"Yes." Skye said emphatically.
Steve could see the other girl shaking her head rapidly, "Oh no! I cannot be a part of your bad girl shenanigans! I like following the rules and doing what's expected of me. It makes me feel nice."
'Bad girl shenanigans' Steve thought to himself. What on Earth was this girl going to do?
Giving up the pretense of reading the board on the wall Steve turned to fully watch the scene before him. Skye grabbed the other girl's shoulders and shook her slightly. "Simmons, wake up! Ward and Fitz went on a top secret two man operation and look around! There are more men. So it's either a bigger deal and they aren't telling us or something went wrong out there. And sure, maybe there's nothing we could do to help. But we have to know if there is. What if they are injured or being tortured somewhere right now?"
All the color drained out of the Simmons' girls face. "Fitz, tortured… Ok what exactly do you have in mind?"
As they continued walking their voices dropped to whispers that even with his enhanced hearing Steve couldn't catch what they were saying. There was no way he was going to miss this though. Whatever they were planning, he had a feeling they were going to need help and for some reason he felt compelled to make sure he was the one to do so.
A/N: The first few chapters will follow along with AoS episodes with subtle changes. This is setting things up for the moments in between episodes and perhaps bigger changes. I'm always open to suggestions. R&R please!