Phil Coulson was exhausted. In the last few days he had escaped an alternate dimension, been reunited with his best friend, escaped a flooding base, fought a legion of robots, not to mention a superpowered and unstable clone, and now he was in space. He was tired. Everyone was tired, and their base was cold and unfamiliar.
On the plus side, their quarters were near each other's, and apparently they weren't prisoners so much as new recruits. And they'd found each other again, somehow.
Coulson wasn't sure if anyone had noticed yet, but he was loath to let May out of his sight. He knew he was being paranoid and stupid, and he knew that Melinda would tell him so if she noticed, but he couldn't help it. The feeling that if he closed his eyes, she'd be gone again.
Maybe it made him weak, but he couldn't lose her again. Not ever.
But Phil powered through it. When everyone slunk off to the showers, he waited. When May took far longer in the shower than was usual, he didn't check that she was okay.
He followed though. Even though he knew she would notice, even though this could easily end with Melinda kicking his ass, he followed her.
He was scared.
When she went back to her quarters, Phil followed, trying to stay quiet even though he knew it probably wouldn't work. He wasn't sure if she noticed or not, but May closed the door behind her when she went into her room, and Phil leaned against the wall outside with a sigh. He knew he was being stupid. He just couldn't help it.
Phil looked at the door. It would be so easy to just knock. To talk. They were friends, friends did that, right?
Before he could compose himself, the door slid open again. "What?" May asked briskly, crossing her arms.
She didn't know what she expected, but Phil looking like a lost puppy wasn't it. He sighed softly. "I'm sorry." He muttered. "I know I should just leave you alone and let you rest, but..." He swallowed and looked down. "Can I stay?"
Melinda softened and opened the door wider, stepping inside and gesturing for him to follow.
Phil did so, rubbing his hands together. "I'm sorry." He said again. "I'm being stupid and paranoid, I know, I just- I feel like you could disappear again, and I can't let that happen." He sat down on the floor, not meeting May's eyes. "I can't do that again."
"You should rest." He said softly. "I'll be quiet."
Now he looked up, the note of annoyance in her voice enough to pique his curiosity. Melinda was sitting on the bed, her back against the wall, legs stretched out in front of her. She patted the space next to her in the universal 'come here' gesture.
Phil stood with a sigh. He was thankful though. The floor was cold. He didn't miss the way May curled closer to him when he lay beside her. "I don't want to lose you again." He murmured, "I don't think I can."
"I'm here." Melinda said softly. "We're all still here."
"I missed you."
"Thought you could barely spot the difference."
He fixed her with a look, then relented. "Okay, I'm sorry I said you were robotic. I didn't mean it."
"Thank you." May said, her head resting gently against his shoulder. "I missed you too."
Phil smiled and, taking a chance, wrapped an arm around her, his hand resting comfortably against her side.
Melinda shuffled closer, her head fitting perfectly under his chin. "I know we made a deal." She murmured. "But to be honest... I'm tired of wasting time waiting for the right moment." She swallowed, hiding her nerves. "We've waited long enough."
Phil was silent for a long moment. "I kissed the robot." He said hurriedly.
May looked up and him and smirked. "I knew it."
He stared. "Y-you knew?!"
She shrugged, the smug grin still on her face. "I guessed. You'd never be that defensive if she just tried to kill you."
He scoffed, trying to process it all. "I wouldn't- you- I'm-" Phil bit the inside of his lip. "Are you mad?"
May raised an eyebrow, pointedly looking at their position. Phil laughed softly. "Right." He muttered. "I'm sorry. I really thought she was you."
She hesitated. "You're sorry that you meant to kiss me?" God, just saying it made her heart rate increase. Way to keep it cool Melinda.
Phil looked at her, trying to find the words. "No." He said softly. "I'm sorry that I didn't."
Melinda worked her lip between her teeth. "You could fix that."
His voice was hushed. "Are you sure?"
May took a breath. "No." She murmured. "I'm not. I'm scared of losing you, but I'm tired of that too." She wet her lips. "I don't know how this'll go." She said softly. "But I know I want it. I want you."
Phil pressed a kiss to her temple. "I love you." He murmured. "And you can't change that. Nothing you could do would change it."
She sighed. "Phil..."
"I know you don't believe me." He said. "But it is true. Even if this doesn't work out... I'll still love you." Before anything else she was still his best friend.
When May was silent, he sighed against her. "I know I'm probably moving too fast- I-I'm doing this all wrong, but I don't really know how I'm meant to do this." Phil hesitated. "I-I like it when we're together. Just being able to see you..." He laughed softly. "I know it sounds cheesy, but just us being in the same room makes me so happy. And I know you hate talking, but... well, I just needed you to know."
Melinda bit her lip. "I-I love you too." She whispered, like a secret, then, partly to stop him looking at her like that, leaned up to press her lips against his.
Phil's hand wrapped around the back of her neck, his hand burying itself in her hair, and Melinda leaned into it, turning her head just so more of his skin was touching hers. She felt her heart hammering in her chest, and wasn't sure if it was from happiness, excitement, or fear. Probably some strange mixture of the three.
When they broke apart they were both smiling. "I love you." Phil said again. "I'm sorry it took so long."
May shook her head. "I'm just glad that we have now." She murmured, snuggling closer to him, their legs tangling together. "It feels right."
Phil smiled and held her tighter. "Yeah." He said. "It does."
Maybe this really was the right moment.