a.n. This was prompted by two guests on who just HAPPENED to ask for the exact same thing within hours of each other.
Seeing Ward like that hurt. Seeing him shout at Fitzsimmons, snap at her, it really hurt. And Skye knew this wasn't him, it wasn't the person he was, it was just that stupid staff that he'd picked up. The Ward she knew wouldn't do this. She would do anything not to let him touch that staff again.
So when one of the people they had been chasing appeared out of nowhere and plunged the staff fragment into Randolph's chest, Skye didn't hesitate. She knew that Ward would try to take it, to save them. She didn't care. She wanted to save him for once.
Skye's hand closed around the metal, and her immediate thought was that it was warmer than she thought. That thought was immediately drowned out by a white hot rage that she couldn't contain even if she wanted to. She charged at the man with the other fragment, but Ward got in the way, and was quickly thrown into a wall.
Skye growled, but before she could attack again, she was thrown backwards over the barrier, into the dais below.
May's eyes met Coulson's and she darted down the stairs after her. Ward was one thing, Skye was another entirely. She wasn't trained in combat, and she was hotheaded enough normally.
Skye swung the metal at her opponent.
'We just weren't a good fit.'
She was thrown into a pillar, and sat up, wanting to scream and kick and fight.
'She's such a handful.'
Skye charged, hitting him in the chest hard enough that he was sent crashing into a door, unconscious, the staff clattering to the floor.
'Maybe she'd be better off in the orphanage.'
"Skye!" She turned at the voice, fists clenching in recognition. May. "Drop the staff. Let me help."
Skye felt the rage building. So now she wanted to help, now she wanted to take away this strength that she had. All May had ever wanted was to kick her out, and Skye was not going to let that happen. "No." She growled, turning her head as three more entered the room.
She seized the second fragment of the staff, choking on air as it pulsated through her. Her heartbeat pounded in her ears.
'Normal kids don't do that.'
She screamed, punching wildly.
'She's not a normal kid.'
Something hit her shoulder, but Skye didn't look. It didn't matter.
'Why can't you just be good?'
Skye felt something wet on her face as she continued to swing. Something else hit her knee, and her leg gave out, but not before she hit her enemy hard enough in the chest that they were thrown into a wall.
Her assailants felled, herself grounded, Skye clung to the staff fragments, even as she realised that she was crying, still furious, and barely able to breath.
May heard footsteps approaching from outside, and knew that they couldn't be friendly. "Skye," She knelt beside her, pulling the knife out of her shoulder. "Give me the staff."
"No!" Her voice sounded almost inhuman, and Melinda knew that Skye wasn't going to let go on her own. Dislocated knee, knife wound to her shoulder, tears staining her face, she still wouldn't let go.
May grimaced. She didn't want to do this. But Skye couldn't fight them, and she needed to protect her. "Let go." She said firmly, grasping the ends of the pieces, but even she isn't prepared for the feeling that floods her system when her hands close around the staff.
Skye is fighting her, trying to pull them back, trying to get up when she too notices more enemies approaching. She's still crying, but Melinda barely notices.
'I like all their pain.'
She wrenched one piece free from Skye's grip.
'Take my hand.'
The other piece came too, and Skye collapsed to the ground. Melinda stood.
'I need a new mother.'
She let loose a wild cry, charging at the two and easily knocking the first down, twisting and dodging even as her heart pounded and her blood boiled.
Skye's eyes cracked open. There it was. May was doing what she couldn't, again. May was proving to all of them that they didn't need her. She was showing Coulson that he was stupid to want her around. Showing Skye exactly why she wanted her gone; because Skye was weak.
Melinda gritted her teeth, eyes burning with hot rage, as she twisted the final piece of the staff out of the Norwegian girl's grip. It clattered to the floor, but a moment later, shook and rocketed up to meet the piece in her right hand. Against her will, she brought the final piece together with the staff, grunting at the increased power, and the potency of the rest of it. She might as well be there now.
'I'll take your pain.'
She stood tall.
"I am not afraid of you."
You should be. May thought, promptly hitting the woman as hard as she could with the staff, sending her across the room.
She gently crouched down to the ground, willing this feeling to go away, that memory to go back to where it belonged. Her hands released the staff, shaking heavily, and May looked over to Skye. The girl she had taken it from in order to protect. The girl who was currently lying on the ground, bloody and broken. "Everything's going to be alright." She said softly.
"Fuck you." Skye hissed, glaring. She didn't need May patronising her. She didn't need any of them.
Melinda sighed softly, approaching. "We need to go." She said in a harrowed voice, trying to help Skye up. She had done this so many times now.
"Don't touch me." She growled, shoving May's hands away. Skye tried to stand on her own, but her leg wouldn't work.
May pursed her lips. Dislocated. Great. She fished her badge's leather wallet from her pocket. "Here." Without asking she jammed it in Skye's mouth, then counting to three, snapped her knee back into place.
Skye's scream of pain was muffled by the wallet, tears of pain streaming unbidden from her eyes. She spat the leather onto the ground, seeing that her teeth had torn through it in places. "I hate you." She muttered poisonously.
"I know." May said tiredly, pulling her arm over her shoulders, utterly ignoring Skye's protestations. She didn't care what Skye thought of her, so long as she was safe.
"Let me go!" Skye argued, trying to shove May away again, only to collapse when she tried to but any weight on her leg.
May sighed and was about ready to knock Skye out to make this whole thing easier when Coulson arrived. "You two okay?" He asked, and Melinda couldn't meet his eyes. She simply passed Skye off to him, and walked away.
Skye squirmed on his shoulder, but she didn't fight Coulson as much as she had May. "You'll need to see medical." He said softly, watching Melinda go.
"I can look after myself." Skye muttered.
Coulson raised an eyebrow. Skye wasn't usually this... childish. It had to be the staff. He gave it wide berth as he helped her out of the area, fishing up May's now ruined badge. "You'll at least need crutches and some bandages."
"Fine." Skye grumbled, "Whatever, just leave me alone." She just wanted to run away. To hide, to not look at anyone. She knew she was useless to the team at the end of the day, but she'd hoped they wouldn't find out so soon.
When Skye finally managed to get her hands on some crutches, she knew where to go. She couldn't exactly run, but she could hide, heading to the SUV in the Bus rather than their swanky hotel.
It didn't feel enough like her van though. It was too small. Too clean. It smelled of nothing but clean leather, and the seat was too comfortable.
Skye took a shaky breath. She just wanted to be alone. She wanted to be alone.
She wanted to be alone.
After a solid minute of repeating those words like a mantra, not a sound except her own unsteady breathing, she broke.
Choking on a sob, Skye let her head fall back, hot tears streaming down her face. She didn't want to be alone. She wanted a family. She wanted this. Why did she want this? How could she be so stupid to still think that she could have this? Why, for the love of God, couldn't she just be happy being alone?
She just wished that she could be good enough for them. But she knew that she wasn't, and now they did too. It was only ever a matter of time before they kicked her out anyway. Why couldn't she just leave them first?
Skye fell sideways, heedless of the pain in her leg and trying to muffle her sobs on her sleeves. She didn't want to care. She didn't want to be so happy spending time with them. Seeing Jemma smile, teasing Fitz, listening to Coulson's stupid jokes. She knew that those kind of things never lasted. But she was naïve and stupid and part of her didn't care. Some part of her still thought that this time would be the time it was different.
Skye wished that that part of her would just die already. She was so tired of doing this. She wanted to go home. Wherever that was. She just wanted to go home.
She cried herself to sleep.
A gentle tapping on the window woke Skye up. Her head hurt, and her leg and arm were even worse. That feeling hadn't gone away either, so she somehow felt even worse today than the previous night.
She sat up just before the door opened quietly. Coulson. She couldn't muster a smile, no matter how hard she tried.
He could though. "Still room for me in there?" He asked. "I brought breakfast."
Skye didn't move as he climbed in beside her. Didn't react as he held out the bag that smelled sweetly of cinnamon and apples. She held herself perfectly still, because she knew that if she didn't, she would crumple like newspaper in a fire.
Coulson sighed softly, and put the bag down. "Look, the staff messed with your head, just like it messed with Ward's. The way you're feeling? It won't last." He put a hand on her shoulder and was surprised at how much she was trembling. "We're here for you Skye."
Those words seemed to set something off, because the next second there were tears swimming in her eyes, and the second after that Skye had collapsed into his arms, sobbing into his shoulder.
Coulson brought his arms up to hold her, one hand rubbing circles on her back. "It's okay." He soothed. "It's okay."
Skye wasn't even sure how she had any tears left to cry. All she could do was cling to Coulson and try to control her breathing. "I-I-I..." She choked, unable to get words out, gasping.
"It's okay." Coulson murmured, "Just breathe. Give yourself a second."
Skye tried, and a moment later whispered, "I don't wanna be alone."
It was so soft that Coulson almost didn't hear it, but when he did, his heart broke in his chest. His arms around her tightened until he was afraid he would hurt her. "You don't have to be." He murmured. "Not anymore."
"I-I- always- am." Skye gasped out, still struggling to breathe.
"It's okay." He said, "Calm down, I'm here."
Skye whimpered and burrowed her face into his shoulder.
Coulson gently stroked her hair. "I know there's nothing I can say that will convince you," He said softly, "But we're not going to kick you out. And I'm going to do everything I can to prove that to you."
Skye sucked in a breath, still trying to calm down. "I wanna believe you." She mumbled, "B-but I- I can't-"
"I know." He said softly, "I understand. It's okay."
Skye trembled with tears, clinging to Coulson like he would disappear if she let go. Part of her was scared of exactly that. "I-I'm sorry."
She swallowed. "I- for taking the staff- I-I shouldn't have done that." Yet something in her mind had started to still, to calm. Maybe all she'd needed was a hug.
Coulson paused. "The only reason I think that was a bad idea," He murmured, "Is because of how badly it's affected you. It was very brave of you to take it to save the rest of us."
"I didn't though." Skye said stuffily. "May had to..." She trembled. "And she was fine, she just... put it down."
Coulson sighed. "I promise you, Skye, she's not fine. She's just good at burying it."
She swallowed. "She's better than me. Than all of us." She didn't say it like a compliment.
Coulson smiled. "Oh, that's definitely not true."
Skye caught the amusement in his voice and looked up. "How do you know?"
He loosened his arms from around her, reaching for the pastries. "Well for starters she can't cook to save herself." Coulson said, taking a bite from a cinnamon roll. He chuckled. "One time, at the academy, she totally destroyed the pan she'd bought to make pancakes. You should have seen her face when I walked in."
Skye cocked her head and took a pastry, eyes darting around shyly. "Was she mad?"
"Mad? No, she just looked at me with the most pathetic face you've ever seen in your life." He laughed. "Imagine it, three in the morning, we were... a little younger than you. I woke up and went to get a glass of water and she's just sitting at the table staring at that burned mess and her melted pan. I swear, she was almost in tears."
She nibbled on the pastry, looking down. "That doesn't sound like her." It didn't. It sounded like... a normal girl, just moved out of her parent's house. It didn't sound like May. The Cavalry.
"Well it was a long time ago." Coulson acknowledged. "And... she was different then. More-"
He smiled crookedly. "She was a little like you. Caring, loved playing pranks, breaking rules. She was... warm." He spoke like he had lost something. Or someone.
Skye swallowed. "What happened?"
Coulson was silent for a long moment, staring into space. "Do you know why the other call her... that?"
"The Cavalry?" Skye saw him twitch at the name. She guessed May wasn't the only one who didn't like it. "No. I mean, I know she can kick ass."
Against all odds, that made him smile. "She can. But that's not why." He swallowed some of his pasty, but it felt more like glue now.
Skye looked at him with her big puppy eyes and Coulson sighed. "We were on a mission, years ago, in Bahrain. Some... powered person we were supposed to bring in, but it went south." His hand balled into a fist at the memory. "Most of our people were taken, along with a civilian girl. Being held by their followers. Worshipers."
Skye looked down. "What happened?" In her heart she thought she knew.
Coulson shrugged heavily. "May... did what she had to do. She went in, took out the enemy force. Saved our guys. But not the girl."
Skye felt sick. "Did she say what happened?"
He shook his head. "Never. I still don't know what went down in there. Afterwards she quit the field, retired to administration. Cut herself off from everyone."
Skye swallowed. "So, when you say she's good at burying stuff... are you worried she's doing that now?"
"Yes." Skye could see now, how much his concern was eating him up. "I can't lose her like that again."
When Coulson looked up he saw a glimmer of something he couldn't quite identify in Skye's eyes. "What?" He frowned.
Skye smiled sappily, looking down. "You love her." It was so obvious now. Coulson was in love with May. He loved the girl who had destroyed the kitchen making pancakes, and he loved the woman currently hiding in the cockpit. He loved her.
Coulson cursed himself for blushing, but his training didn't entirely abandon him. "Of course. She's my best friend." He did not need Skye knowing about his long-standing crush on his partner. Though part of him wondered if it still qualified as a crush thirty years on.
Skye smirked. "Okay, if you say so."
When she reached for the door Coulson cut her off, "Skye-" She stopped and turned, and Coulson sighed. "Don't- don't say anything?"
The way she smiled almost made it worth her knowing one of his most embarrassing secrets. Almost. "No problem AC."
It wasn't much later when Skye managed to pluck up the courage to knock gently on the cockpit door and crutch inside. "Hey." She said quietly. "Mind if I keep you company?"
May said nothing. Not that Skye expected any less. "Great." She mumbled, taking it as an affirmative and curling up in the copilot's seat as best she could with her knee. She smiled at the stars visible from the window. Hard to believe that the previous night she had felt so alone.
Skye glanced at May out of the corner of her eye. She could kind of see it now. The cracks in her armour. How tired she looked, how scared. No one built walls as strong as May's without reason, and Skye was starting to see what May's reasons were. She steeled herself. "Are you feeling okay?"
After a pause that probably wasn't as long as it felt, May shrugged. "You held it longer than I did." She said quietly.
"Yeah." Skye acknowledged. "And I felt like crap. Besides, you held the whole thing." She shuddered. "I can't even imagine-" Skye swallowed. She stared at the controls in front of her. "D-did you see something?"
Melinda didn't feel safe opening her mouth, so she simply nodded.
Skye fiddled with her rings. "I don't hate you." She whispered. "I'm sorry I said that."
May shrugged again. "It's fine."
"It's not fine." Skye retorted, biting down on her tongue to keep from snapping. "We live on the same plane, we're on the same team. I don't hate you, I just- I couldn't think straight, I couldn't..." She trailed off. "I'm sorry." Skye stared at her lap.
Melinda looked at her. Skye was so young. She wanted to reach out to her, to comfort her, to tell her everything was okay. Her hands balled into fists, and she swallowed the lump in her throat. "I know." She said softly, taking a breath. "I- don't want you gone."
Skye looked up in surprise, then pursed her lips to keep the tears at bay. God, that was such a little thing to say, but it meant so much. "Okay." She whispered, wringing her hands. How did May know that that was what had been bothering her? "How are you doing? After..."
"I'm coping." May murmured. She didn't want to lie.
"You should talk to Coulson." Skye said. "He's worried about you."
May rolled her eyes. "He worries about everyone, he's a mother hen."
Skye grinned. "He cares about you."
"What did he give you to say that?" May asked sardonically.
It was delivered in such a deadpan manner that Skye laughed out loud, covering her mouth with one hand. She missed the flash of warmth in May's eyes, pleased to have elicited such a reaction. "Just a bear claw." She grinned.
May rolled her eyes. "Good to know your integrity can be bought for cakes."
"Hey, I would have told you that."
Skye smiled when she noticed the slight upturn at the corners of May's lips. Maybe they could be friends. Maybe this team was a good fit.
And maybe, just maybe, they were going to be okay.