Skye was curled up alone in the cage when May and Coulson returned.
Fitz found them first and told them what she had done. "I guess it makes her feel safer. Being in there."
Safer. It wasn't the right word really. They all knew that Skye was more scared of hurting any of them. Contained might be more what Skye was looking for.
Fitz crossed his arms, looking down. He didn't like telling on people, but... "She heard the others talking. M-Mack said that we needed protecting from her." Seeing the anger on their faces, Fitz felt the need to add. "They didn't know she was there though."
The older agents nodded. "You knew, Fitz?" Coulson asked softly.
He nodded, almost shamefacedly. "Since she broke the lamp in quarantine. E-everyone was so... so- uh, wound up, I- thought keeping it secret was better."
Both could see that Fitz was expecting some kind of punishment. "You're a good friend Fitz." May said.
He smiled a little. "I-if that's all I should go." He gestured to the door. "I've got some samples of Skye's blood to analyse. Hopefully we can- can figure out some way to help her."
"As long as it's a better solution to her shooting herself I'm on board." Coulson said.
Fitz nodded silently and hurried off to the lab.
Finally the two looked at each other and the facade dropped. "This is a mess." May muttered.
Coulson nodded, leaning on his desk. "It is." He agreed.
May sighed. "She didn't trust us." It wasn't said as a criticism.
"She was scared May."
"I know. I just- I hoped she'd tell me if something like this happened. I was trying to-" She stopped.
Phil's eyes were understanding. "I know." He said. "And she does trust you. She's always looked up to you."
Melinda looked down. The last thing she was was a role model.
"One of us should go talk to her."
"I'll go." May said firmly. "I'm her S.O."
Coulson nodded. "Good." He could see every day how much Melinda cared for Skye. She hadn't wanted to leave her unconscious in her bunk, but they both had to go to ensure that Sif could be kept under control if necessary. He wasn't stupid. He knew what Melinda leaning over a powered girl who had been shot reminded him of, and he knew how the situation hit way to close to home for her. "I'll talk to the others."
"Okay. I'll report back to you later."
Melinda approached the cage door keeping her own worries as hidden as she could. Skye was scared enough, she didn't need May making it worse. But she was scared for her student.
She knocked on the cage door, wondering what kind of response she would get.
"Go away Fitz." Skye's voice said, sounding hollow and worn.
"Not Fitz." May said. There was silence for a little while. Skye was probably too scared to tell her to go away too. "I'm coming in."
When she pushed the door open she was greeted by the sight of Skye sitting on the bed, knees curled up to her chest and fear in her eyes. She still didn't speak.
May's expression softened. "Hi." She greeted, moving to sit in the hard desk chair.
Skye looks so young. Hands balled into fists at her sides, pressing her back into the wall trying to stay as far away from May as she could. "I-I..." She sounded like she'd been crying. "I'm sorry I didn't tell you."
"It's okay." May assents. "You were scared." She paused. "You know you can trust me, right? With anything."
Skye nodded tearfully, burying her face in her knees. "I do, I-I just..."
"I know." After a moment of contemplation May stood and approached Skye, sitting on the bed beside her and wrapping one arm around her. "You scared me."
Skye looked down. "I couldn't stop it."
"That's not what I meant." Now Skye met her eyes. "Warn me the next time you're going to shoot yourself." God, her heartbeat sped up just saying it.
Skye swallowed heavily. "There's probably going to be a next time." She admitted.
"I know." May said softly. "And that's okay. Sometimes you'll need to pull the rip cord. Just tell me next time." That moment, when the gun had gone off and she hadn't processed yet that it was an Icer had terrified Melinda more than she could admit.
Skye could hear the fear in her S.O's voice. There was more to this, she knew, but for now... "I promise."
"Good." May didn't release Skye from the one-armed hug. "This happened in Puerto Rico?"
The bed beneath them shook, and Skye nodded. "The diviner, it- uh." She took a deep breath, "It had these crystals inside. It changed me." She whispered.
Melinda pulled the girl closer, gently bumping their heads together. "You're still Skye." She said. "Still the same stubborn hacker you've always been."
She shook her head, staring at the ground. "I've never come close to taking down a base before."
"You came pretty close that time at the Hub." May said, but Skye didn't react. "I will never give up on you Skye, I promise." It had been true for a long time, but she needed Skye to hear it too. "I'll keep you safe if it's the last thing I do."
After a pause Skye looked up at her, tears escaping one by one. "Is that what you were gonna do earlier?"
Melinda met her gaze steadily. "Yes." She wasn't going to apologise for protecting her student. "And I'd do it again."
"Don't," Skye begged. "Please. I-I couldn't take it if anything happened to any of you."
She looked so afraid. "That's how we feel about you Skye." She reminded gently. Melinda could never pinpoint the second when she decided that she would lay down her life for someone else without question. Sometimes she just looked at her team and realised that she couldn't stand if anything happened to them.
"I'm not worth it." A poisonous thought that plagued her mind in her weak moments, but she never spoke.
"I think you are." May said in a soft, caring voice that she didn't know she possessed any more. "So do the others."
"Then you're all idiots."
"We love you." May countered. She could vividly remember that last time she had said that, over seven years ago.
Skye shook her head tearfully and Melinda felt the bed beneath them tremble. "Don't."
"Don't say that." The girl was curled up as small as she could get.
May frowned in confusion, cocking her head every so slightly. "Why not?" Silence. "Skye."
Something about the way May said her name always made Skye spill her guts. "I-I-" She was trying desperately not to cry, and Melinda gently rubbed circles on her back to help her calm down. "No one's e-ever- I mean, I-" Her lip trembled and tears stung her eyes. There was no way she could get it out without bursting into tears.
Thankfully May could fill in the blanks. Her arm around her tightened. "No one's said that to you before?" She said softly, to confirm.
Skye shook her head over and over, tears escaping her control. The floor shook, but not in the same destructive, loud way it did when she was afraid. This was almost quiet, stifled. This was the sadness of the child Skye once was, unwanted and unloved. The sadness that no one had wanted to know about. "Come here." Melinda said, and wrapped her arms around her, pulling the girl close.
Skye immediately buried her face in her S.O's shoulder, pressing her lips together to keep from outright sobbing, tears soaking May's shirt.
"Coulson loves you." May mumbled, arms warm and tight around her even as the floor continued to shake. "Jemma loves you. Fitz loves you. I love you." That was the hardest one to say, but May knew that it had to be said. "We're not going to let you go that easily Skye, I promise."
Skye finally found the energy to return the embrace, clinging to May like she would disappear if she let go. "I love you too." The tremors faded into nothing.
Melinda scoffed. "You'd better, after everything you've put me through."
Skye snorted, starting to wipe the tears away. "Shut up."
May smiled triumphantly, glad to have elicited a smile. "We're here for you." She said, her eyes imploring Skye to know that. "The others will come around."
Skye grimaced, looking down. "Mack said that the others need protection from me." She didn't want to dob Mack in, he was just being honest, but the words froze her insides.
"Maybe that's true." Melinda acknowledged softly. "But I could kill every person on this team if I wanted to." There wasn't a hint of doubt in her voice. "Does that mean you need to be protected from me?"
Skye took a breath. "If you killed everyone on this team, it wouldn't be by accident."
"And you wouldn't either." May drove home. "You've got ways of stopping yourself now. You can do this."
Skye rested her head on her knees, getting herself under control, thinking it all over. "I want you to promise me something." She finally said, stronger and more clearly than she had said anything in a long time.
Melinda eyed her cautiously. "What is it?" She had never been big on promises, especially ones she couldn't keep.
The ground trembled once again. "Promise you're not gonna die for me."
May gave no reply. There was no response that she could give. She knew that she would die for Skye if necessary, would give up everything to keep her safe. May knew that she rarely said 'I love you'. She wasn't kind, she didn't give gifts. Sacrifice was the only way she knew how to show love. So she knew that she couldn't promise not to do that.
Skye knew what her silence meant, and she felt tears welling up again. "Please, May, please. I- I couldn't live with myself if-" She swallowed heavily. "If something happened to you- a-and it was my fault."
Melinda was silent for a long moment, not meeting her eyes. "And what if something happened to you," She said, eyes fixed on the ground, "And I could have stopped it?"
Skye swallowed a whimper. "I'm not that important." She whispered.
"You are to me."