a.n. Not really wild about this, but omg, how has it been this long since I've posted anything?
Skye felt that she had been doing very well, considering all that had happened. Andrew had approved her for all duties, and she had been steadily helping any vagrant Inhumans find a place out in the world. A few had been offered protection in whatever form they preferred, often based on any physical changes that might require assistance. Skye had to vouch for some whose powers were known to be destructive, but, she reasoned to anyone who dared argue, she was the one who could cause earthquakes measuring 7 on the Richter scale.
Coulson had been helping with her thoughts on project Caterpillar. It was slow going, but neither felt the need to rush this. As Coulson had said, it needed to be done right.
So yeah, Skye had been pretty busy these last few weeks. In between all of her organisation of both SHIELD and working out her new task force, she would train.
Honestly, that was kind of lonely.
May had been gone for almost two weeks, and Skye hadn't gotten a chance to say goodbye properly. Nor to really apologise, but Skye knew that was mostly her own fault. She had wanted to, but even finding the words was impossible.
A tiny, frightened, paranoid part of her was convinced that May was never coming back, and try as she might, Skye couldn't quell that particular feeling. She could hide it though. May had taught her how to do that.
Still, after half a month of having no idea where her wayward SO was, Skye finally ducked into Coulson's office one afternoon with two cups of coffee. "Hey." She greeted, placing one cup on his desk before him. Handing Coulson things lately hadn't ended well. He was still getting used to having one less hand. "I thought you could use some caffeine."
"Thanks." He said, slightly surprised. Skye sat down just as Coulson took a sip, and his eyebrows rose in appreciation.
It took only a moment longer to figure out why Skye was there. "Okay," Coulson sighed, putting the cup back down and fixing Skye with a firm look. "What do you want?"
"Nothing! I-" The hacker deflated at how transparent she had been. "I was just wondering if you've heard from May."
Oh. So that was it. Coulson softened, seeing how flat Skye was. God, she looked so sad. "She's checked in on time." He said softly. "She's okay, Skye."
"I know." Skye said, taking a sip of her coffee to give her hands something to do. "Hell, more likely that this base will go down than her."
There was no way that Skye was going to talk about this without prompting. "I miss her." Phil sighed, leaning back in his seat. He did. Very much.
"Me too." Skye mumbled. "D-do you know where she is?"
A shake of the head. "Wherever Andrew is, I guess." Trying not to sound jealous.
Skye managed a smirk. "Jealous?"
Seemed that that hadn't worked. "What? No- Skye, I- no."
The hacker rolled her eyes and Phil was struck by how much she resembled Melinda in that moment. "Sure, whatever you say."
Coulson shook his head and sighed again, his gaze falling to the rainy window. He really genuinely missed his partner.
Skye bit her lip. "Do you know when she's coming back?" She tried not to sound too desperate, but failed pretty spectacularly.
"No. She said a few weeks, I didn't want to push. She deserves some time to herself."
"Yeah." Skye agreed, "I know, I just... I really miss her."
Phil looked at the young agent. She really did look upset. "Why don't you call her?"
"Nah." Skye shook her head. "She's on vacation, she doesn't wanna talk to me."
"How do you know?"
Skye only shrugged, not saying anything or meeting Coulson's gaze.
"Did you get a chance to talk before she left? About..." He knew that the two were on unsteady ground.
Skye shook her head again, now trying not to cry. It all hurt. So much. "I-I wanted to, I just... couldn't." She pressed her lips together. "I didn't even get to say goodbye properly."
A warm hand encased her own on the desk. "She loves you."
"No." Skye rejected, pulling her hand away. "No. It's okay, she shouldn't, after-" The tears burned her eyes but she managed to hold them in. "I screwed up."
"I think she forgives you."
Skye made no reply, but it was clear that she didn't agree.
"Hey," Coulson prompted gently. "She's meant to check in tomorrow anyway. You could call. Just to make sure she's okay."
Later that evening Skye found the courage to use Coulson's idea. She knew that he had just been providing her with a suitable excuse, just like he had known that she needed one.
The hacker sat on her bunk, staring at the block letters on the screen 'MAY'. She watched the screen go dark and pressed her finger to the screen to light it back up again, only to keep staring until it went dark again.
Her finger hovered over the call button, held back by some lingering apprehension. Just do it. Skye thought, Press the damn button and go from there.
What if May didn't want to talk to her though? What if she was angry? What if she was busy? What if she was never coming back?
Some part of those thoughts compelled Skye to press the button quickly, before any more doubts could stop her. Her breathing became slightly more rapid as the phone rang once, twice, three times-
"Skye?" May's voice came over the line and Skye froze. "Is everything okay?"
For a moment Skye couldn't respond. "No- I-I mean yeah, e-everything's okay, everyone's... good, I guess." She sucked in a breath, willing herself to calm down. "Coulson said you were meant to check in soon, so I thought I'd... check." She ended lamely. "I- uh... how are you?"
A pause. "I'm fine. How have you been?"
Another shaky breath. "I'm okay." God, this felt so formal. "Had to fight some of Gonzales' guys into letting the other Inhumans go."
"You understand their concern." It was said statically, not trying to start an argument.
"Yeah," Skye admitted, "I do, but they're not gonna hurt anyone. They've all got an agents number if they need any help, but they won't cause trouble."
"Yeah." Skye knew that May was usually quiet, but she couldn't shake the feeling that she was angry with her. Not that there was no reason for it. Hell, that was half the reason she called. "How's your vacation going anyway? Can I ask where you are, or is it classified?" Tentatively grinning.
"Pennsylvania, at the moment. I'm visiting my mother." She didn't sound angry, but May rarely did. Skye could imagine her curled up on a nice deck somewhere, watching the sun go down.
Something about that felt off. "With Andrew?"
Skye frowned. "Coulson said you were with Andrew."
"Did he?" May didn't sound half as confused by that assumption as she should, and a second later it clicked.
Skye grinned. "You told him that." To screw with him.
"I did not." She could tell that May was smiling.
"You let him think it then." Did she know he would be jealous? Skye couldn't think of any other reason she would allow the belief that she was vacationing with her ex-husband float.
"I don't know what goes on in the Director's head Skye."
"Bet he likes it when you call him that."
May scoffed and Skye giggled. This felt so normal. It felt right, just sitting and chatting with May about nothing important, sharing their different methods of torturing Coulson. And yet at the same time, it felt tainted. The second Skye felt comfortable and happy, all she could think about was throwing May across the pavilion. Shouting at her that she was dangerous, that people should be afraid of SHIELD – of her. All in all, it made Skye feel like she was going to be sick.
"Skye? Are you still there?" It seemed like she had been silent for too long.
"Yeah, I'm here. Sorry, cut out for a second."
There was a hint of hesitation in May's voice. "Are you okay? You sound... off."
"I'm fine." Skye said, hugging her pillow to her chest. "I-I just... I miss you." And before May could say anything in response, before Skye could stop herself, it all came pouring out. How crappy she had been, how sorry she was, how she knew that there was no way she could make it up to her but she really wanted May to not hate her, and please say she's coming back because Skye really missed her and there was no one to train with, and Coulson kept knocking things over and with no one to make fun of him for it it was just sad, and she knew that May deserved a vacation, and she wasn't trying to make her come back, it was just that everyone missed her, and Skye missed her and she really really didn't want May to hate her, and she was so so sorry and she had started crying now and couldn't stop.
Eventually Skye ran out of steam, her breathing shallow and shaky, tears steadily streaming from her eyes onto her pillow. She pressed her mouth into the soft material to muffle any embarrassing sounds.
The silence felt like an eternity and it only caused the horrible feeling in Skye's chest to grow. She knew it, May hated her. She hated her, and the worst part was that she deserved it. She was about to just hang up and cry it out when May broke the silence. "Skye..." Her voice was soft.
Even the way May said her name made Skye bow her head in shame and the tears intensify. This was the woman who had trained her, taken her under her wing, protected her. And how had she repaid that?
May must have heard that muffled sob. "Don't." She implored. She hated it when Skye was upset. "Skye- I thought we were past that."
Skye didn't reply, too worried about sobbing any louder.
The older woman sighed, the noise sounding like sandpaper over the line. "I- I know I don't talk much." She acknowledged. "But... I forgive you, I did weeks ago."
"Why?" Skye asked tearfully, unable to stop crying. Her hands shook. "I hit you."
"I've had worse."
"And everything I said... Coulson d-didn't even know, and I told him."
May's voice was softer now. "He should have known for a while. I wanted to tell him so many times, but..."
"Stop making this okay!" Skye said angrily. "Hate me, for the love of God, just- scream at me or something, just stop acting like it's all okay." She took a deep breath to keep from sobbing any more. "I was wrong, just- be angry."
May sounded so concerned for her. "I was never angry at you, Skye." She mumbled. "I was... hurt." She admitted haltingly, not used to explaining how she felt. "But I forgive you for that."
"Why?" Skye asked again, breathlessly. "I-I- don't know h-how you can."
"You want the long answer or the short one?" May joked sardonically, trying to lighten the situation a little. The noise Skye made sounded more like a laugh than anything else, so she called it a win. Melinda paused. "I-" She was no good with words, but right now they were all she had. "Bahrain was the worst thing I have ever done." She said quietly. "The worst thing in my life. I joined SHIELD to protect people."
Skye was silent. She knew how little May shared.
"I couldn't protect that little girl. I was too late to do anything for her, except..."
Skye knew she should let her speak, but she had to interrupt there. "It wasn't your fault."
Silence was the closest Melinda could get to admitting that that might be true. "I couldn't keep her safe." Now was the really hard part. "You changed," May said, "And I'd never been more scared. Of what I might end up doing to you."
Skye hadn't thought about May's treatment of herin retrospect. Now it clicked all to well. Calling Andrew, letting him tell her secrets in exchange for Skye's cooperation. Standing between Skye and Sif, more willing to die than let her go. Going out of her way to warn Skye of the attack on her safehouse. Doing everything she could to help Skye control her powers, even though she had no idea how. Suddenly it all felt desperate.
"I wasn't the whole solution." May continued, "Just a piece." Skye recognised her own words. "In the end though, you could save yourself. Helping you do that, that was my second chance."
Skye hoped that May couldn't tell that she was crying again, the silent tears burning down her face. She drew a deep breath and tried to keep her voice from shaking. "If you were here I'd hug you." She squeezed the pillow in her arms tighter.
"You'd try, you mean."
The hacker smiled shakily, trying to blink away the tears. "There's a short version of that?"
"Eh." The smile was evident in her voice.
Skye wiped the tears from her eyes. "I love you too."
A pause, and Skye was scared she had overstepped. "I didn't say that." The blatantly transparent refutation banished the fear.
Skye grinned. "Yeah, but you meant to."
May was silent for a long moment. She didn't know why she suddenly felt so lonely. She had done her training alone since joining SHIELD, yet after little more than a year of waking every morning to teach Skye her morning ritual felt off kilter without her. "I won't be away much longer."
"You don't have to-" Skye mumbled awkwardly. She didn't want to make May come back against her will, she really didn't. She just missed her SO.
"I want to come back." May said firmly. "I'm starting to go crazy without a mission."
"Okay." Skye whispered. "I- uh, I'll tell Coulson."
"Good." For the first time May sounded hesitant. "Do you still want me to train you?"
"Oh God, yes." Skye said in such a rush that they both laughed softly. "I mean, if you..."
"I'd like to keep training you." May murmured. "We'll have to make some changes. We can talk more about it when I get back."
Skye nodded quietly, feeling the conversation coming to a close. "Okay. I'll see you when you get here."
"I shouldn't be more than a few days." May said, and as a farewell added, "I miss you too, you know. All of you."
Before Skye could reply, Melinda hung up the phone and sighed deeply. That was... exhausting. She had felt the distance between them, she had just thought that Skye was still upset with her, as well as getting over what had happened with Jiaying. She had asked Coulson to keep an eye on her.
Suddenly she felt angry. She had told Phil to keep an eye on her.
The phone rang twice before he picked up. "Coulson." He said briskly.
"You said you'd look after her." She tried not to sound to accusing. "You said she was okay Phil."
He sounded tired. "I know. I thought she was coping, but then this afternoon..."
"She just called me."
"I figured that. I pushed her to. She wanted to, she was just scared."
"She was in tears Phil." May said. "She thought I was angry with her. How could that get by you?"
"In fairness, she learned how to hide it from you."
"You're blaming me?"
"No!" Coulson quickly clarified, "But May, come on. It's hard for me to tell what you're thinking, even though I've known you since before half our team was born. Skye doesn't have to be as good as you to keep how she feels under wraps."
Melinda sighed softly. She knew that her partner was right, and there was really no one to blame, but she was worried about Skye. There was a knot of concern in her stomach that wouldn't go away. Suddenly it was joined by guilt. "I'm sorry."
"It's your job to train her," Phil said, slightly confused. "You don't have to be sorry."
"No. For... all the times I shut you out." Melinda had thought that would save Phil the trouble of dealing with her. Lately she had realised that it just hurt. "I didn't..."
"I know." He assured softly. "It's okay."
"I'll be home soon."
"Okay." Melinda could hear the relief in his voice.
"Skye says you keep knocking things over."
"Not that much."
She smiled secretively. "At least two things per hour then."
Phil grinned. "You're making fun of me."
"Someone has to."
"Technically I'm your boss, Agent May."
Melinda bit her lip, smiling widely. "You going to fire me?"
"I could you know."
"I'd like to see you try."