"Come on Phil!" Melinda excitedly tied on her skates and darted out onto the ice. Oh, it had been too long since she had done this. She had missed it so much. Not that she didn't love her tai chi and her martial arts, there was just something more nostalgic and innocent about skating.

Phil Coulson stopped tying his laces, stunned at seeing Melinda glide around. She was breathtaking. It was like she had grown wings and taken flight, crossing blade over blade with no hesitation, a smile of pure bliss on her face. He could watch her for hours.

Unfortunately she had other ideas. "Come on slowcoach!" Melinda spun to a stop at the edge of the frozen pond.

Phil groaned. "Mel, you know I can't skate, what's the point?"

"It's more fun with company." She grinned. "Come on, it'll be fun. I'll show you how." When he still looked hesitant she smirked wickedly. "I'll make it up to you later."

Phil turned bright red. "Mel!" Okay, he knew that they had been together for a few weeks, and they had kissed and talked and cuddled and explored how deep their relationship felt. It was really nice. On the other hand... Phil just didn't feel ready, not yet anyway.

He knew it was stupid, but he wanted their first time together to be special. She wasn't the 'hottest girl on campus' to him, having sex with Melinda wasn't some goal he wanted to aspire to. She was his best friend first. And he loved her. Not that he'd said that yet.

But he really wanted to say it now that she was laughing. "I'll help you." Melinda grinned, extending her hands. God, he was so cute. Every second was trying to resist wrapping her arms around him and kissing him senseless.

Trying to put his trust in the biggest prankster he knew, Phil wobbled over towards the edge of the ice and took Melinda's hands. They were warm and familiar and he didn't want to let go. Only partially because he knew he would fall over if he did.

Melinda smiled. "Don't keep your knees locked." She advised, pulling him backwards onto the ice.

"Okay," Phil mumbled, eyes glued to his feet, trying desperately not to fall. "Okay. Okay. Not okay!" He yelped when his feet slid too far apart, and Melinda darted forwards, pulling him close to her and standing stock still.

Phil felt his heartbeat slowing down as the adrenaline of almost falling wore off.

"You okay?" Melinda asked, trying not to sound too amused.

"Yeah." Phil replied breathlessly. "Thanks."

"Relax Phil!" She grinned, taking his hands once again and drawing back. It felt like a dance. "What's the worst that could happen?"

Phil met her laughing gaze with a smile of his own. "I could fall, hit my head on the ice, and die." He retorted, but it was said jokingly. Part of their mission assessment class was to consider the worst case scenario.

"Drama queen."

"Who, me?"

That made her laugh, something that Phil was very proud of. He would definitely put making Melinda laugh at the top of his favourite skills. She just looked so beautiful, her smile lit up her face, and she got that sparkle in her eyes... God, she was just perfect.

"Hey." Melinda smirked, noting how his gaze was fixed on her lips. "Eyes are up here."

Phil grinned. "And they are beautiful." He said, half teasing.

Melinda scoffed, letting her hair fall around her cheeks to hide her imaginary blush. "Shut up, dork."

"You're the one dating a dork."

She shot him the finger, skating away backwards.

Phil's eyes widened in fear. "Mel? Where are you going? Come back!"

Melinda grinned, skating around him in wide enough circles that she was just out of reach.

Phil tried really hard not to smile. "Oh, really mature Melinda." He said sarcastically, grabbing at her. "Quit it!"

"Make me!" She said cheekily.

He glared, making a grab for her and almost falling over again, arms pinwheeling to regain his balance.

May giggled, watching him stumble. He was such an adorable dork. He was her best friend, and more. Any time she laughed he always gave her this look that made her stomach flutter. Like he was totally stunned. Like he would happily live the rest of his life making her laugh. It scared her a little, how smitten he was with her, but then she remembered the way his blue eyes would sparkle when she was close to him, that lopsided grin he got sometimes. Maybe Phil wasn't the only one who was head over heels.

"Gotcha!" Melinda jumped. She didn't know how she hadn't noticed Phil getting closer, but now he had his arms around her waist, hugging her tightly from behind.

She laughed. "Phil, let me go!"

"Never!" He cried. His face was so close to hers. "You're mine." He murmured, pressing kisses to her neck and cheek.

Melinda struggled half-heartedly, trying not to laugh and failing. Unfortunately, her restricted motion tied to Phil's utter lack of skating skills could not end well. A moment later the two were stumbling, and a moment after that, they had fallen onto the ice.

Phil yelped as he hit the hard ice, his hands immediately chilling as he caught himself. Wow, falling while skating was the worst. He pushed himself up. "You okay?" He asked, then saw Melinda.

Sprawled out on the ice, face down.

Phil's heart leapt into his throat and he immediately fell to his knees beside her. "Melinda? Oh God, please tell me you're screwing with me, just get up, okay? I'll laugh too." She didn't move and Phil gently felt around her head to see where she was hurt. "It'll be okay Mel, you'll be fine." He said, trying to roll her over. "You've gotta be okay, there's so much we still haven't done, right? I-I haven't even told you I love you yet, and we haven't gone on our first mission together, or gone to the movies, o-or had our first Christmas together! I was gonna plant mistletoe everywhere so that you can try to dodge it! Or-" Before he could say anything else, Melinda had grabbed him by the front of his shirt, pulling him into a deep kiss.

When the finally broke apart, Phil stared at her, dazed. "You're okay."

She rolled her eyes. "We both know I'm a better kisser than just okay."

"Oh, no- I mean-" He suddenly realised. "You- weren't unconscious?"

Melinda looked down, fiddling with her hands. "A little stunned is all, I knocked my head, but it wasn't too hard."

Phil swallowed nervously. "Umm, how much of that did you hear?"

She bit her lip, still refusing to look at him, and Phil felt the thrill of panic seize his heart. "Look, just forget I said any of it, okay? I-I know I move too fast and you don't like the emotional stuff, I... Mel, you mean a lot to me, okay? I don't expect anything from you. I just like us being together."

Melinda swallowed. "I like us being together too." She said quietly.

Phil cocked his head, gently lifting her chin with one hand. "Then what's wrong?"

She blinked away the tears in her eyes. "Nothing's wrong Phil."

He wiped away the single tear that had escaped. "Are you sure? I don't mean to push, I just- well, I care about you."

Melinda sighed, turning her head away from his hand. "Can you just let it go?" She murmured. "I- Phil, you said something really sweet and- I did my best, so... please? Just- forget it?"

"Why would I want to forget it?" He murmured, kissing her lightly. "I'm glad."

She smiled shyly, then groaned. "This is why I hate the emotional stuff." Melinda grumbled, crossing her arms.

Phil frowned, then chuckled. "What, because you get emotional?"

She scowled. "Shut up."

Phil smiled, pressing a kiss to her forehead. "That's your big secret? You're a little bit sappy?"

"Don't make fun of me." She looked so insecure that he couldn't help but wrap his arms around her and kiss her again.

"I'm not." Phil assured. "I think it's sweet." He caught himself right before saying 'cute'. He wouldn't blame her for kicking his ass if he said that.

Melinda sighed, leaning against him. "I-I'm not good at words Phil."

"I know." He murmured. "I've read enough of your essays to see that."

She huffed. "I'm being serious."

"So am I." He said, looking her in the eye. "Melinda, I knew what I was getting into with you. I know you. And I like that you don't say how you feel."

She swallowed. "Why?" It didn't make sense. Why want to be with someone who couldn't even say how they felt about you?

Phil smiled, "I like how you show it." He murmured. "Sure, you could say it, but instead you do stuff. Dig through the library to help with an assignment, save leftovers from dinner even though you could get in trouble." He kissed her lightly. "Throw a match in hand to hand just so we'll end up paired together."

She looked away. "It was an accident. I tripped."

"Mm-hmm." He hummed. "That definitely sounds like you. So clumsy."

Melinda was silent. She didn't want to admit it. "Hey," Phil's hand wrapped around the back of her neck, fingers combing through her hair. "It's okay. You don't have to deny it. I care about you too."

She sighed softly, then buried her head in his chest, hugging him tightly. "I like sparring together."

Phil smiled, pulling her closer. "There, was that so hard?"


Phil chuckled. This was nice. Well, mostly. "My ass is numb." Ice did have a tendency to do that.

Melinda smirked. "Let me help with that."

"Melinda!" He grabbed her wrist. "Not here!"

"Somewhere else then?" She asked, eyes sparkling.

Nervousness seized Phil's heart. "I-I..." He stood. "Let's just skate."

"Phil!" She darted after him, catching up easily. "Come on, why do you always do this?"

He swallowed. "I just want to skate."

She took his hand, leaning against him as they slowly moved along. "No you don't." She murmured. "You only did this because you knew I'd like it." Melinda hesitated. "Thank you."

Phil sighed and squeezed her hand. "You're welcome." He said. He liked their closeness.

Melinda skated for a moment, in silence, then took a chance. "If- if it's something about me," She started, and Phil looked up, "Then you're an idiot cos I'm a huge catch."

Phil snorted, the tension alleviating somewhat. "I know." He said, "Still not sure why you settled for me."

She smiled easily. "You're not too bad you know."

He grinned. "Oh, I know. You're just..." He trailed off, looking at her. Her smile, her eyes, her hair, swept back from her face.

Melinda glanced down, embarrassed by his gaze. "Then what's the problem?"

Phil hesitated. "I-..." He trailed off. He didn't know why it was so hard to say. He just didn't want her to laugh at him.

Melinda frowned. Phil was acting so weird and squirrelly about this. She didn't know why sex had to be such a big deal, he'd just told her he loved her. This was nothing in comparison. It was almost like... "Oh."

He looked up at her, hands suddenly sweaty. "Oh?"

Melinda's eyes were calm, understanding. "You've never..."

Phil's eyes widened, but he couldn't find it in him to lie. "I... yeah." He muttered, colouring.

To his surprise, she actually smiled. "You could have just said." Melinda murmured. "It's not a big deal."

Phil looked down at his skates. "It feels like it is."

"It's not." She insisted. "A lot of people would say me not talking is a problem, but you think it's okay."

"Of course I do." He said, squeezing her hand. "It's just who you are."

"And this is who you are too." Melinda said. "So our first time will be your first time too, that's okay."

Phil blushed. "But what if I'm no good?"

She smiled. "I promise I'm not going to break up with you if you're not a sex god on your first try." When he only blushed harder, she rolled her eyes. "Phil there isn't a guidebook for this. We can take our time. Figure it out, get it right."

That actually sounded... nice. "I-I'd like that." He mumbled, the embarrassment fading. Just... them. Figuring it out. As partners. Yeah.

Melinda looked down. "We don't have class tomorrow morning." She said. "If you feel ready, we could..."

Phil was silent, his thumb tracing circles on her hand as they continued to skate the edge of the frozen pond. Melinda backtracked. "It's okay if you're not ready." She said.

He shook his head. "I-I don't know if I am."

Melinda nodded. "Then... how about you just come over to my room? We can talk, play some cards, and we can see where it goes."

Phil nodded slowly, a smile forming on his face. "That sounds nice." He said, kissing her gently. "Thank you. I love you."

Melinda smiled too, but she knew she couldn't say it back, at least not right now. She settled for pulling him into a deeper kiss. It was okay.

He knew.