Skye had been excited when May asked to be her new S.O. Hell if it wasn't the upgrade of the century, going from a nazi traitor to Melinda motherfucking May.

Even when Skye hadn't liked her or understood her at all she had respected May, and in a way, looked up to her. She was what Skye had always hoped she'd grow up to be, someone who was strong, who didn't let things get to her. Maybe that was part of why she had been so bitter towards her for so long.

Either way, she was excited for May to be her S.O. now, and Skye was determined to not make her regret it.

She had been stretching for five minutes when May arrived for their first training session. "Morning!" Skye greeted with a smile, as if she wasn't internally cursing mornings with every fibre of her being.

May blinked at her slowly and in a way that made Skye want to squirm. She didn't know how May always looked at her like she just knew. It was like the nuns who had seen her steal a cookie or snooze off during prayers. Eerie.

The stare broke and May threw her towel on the bench beside Skye's. "We'll start with tai chi." She said. They'd done this together for a little while now. Skye wasn't actually that bad.

Skye nodded eagerly. "Yeah, sounds good."

The tai chi went as it usually did, which helped Skye calm down a little. Anyone could see that she was nervous and May didn't want her to be nervous. She'd seen nervous trainees hurt themselves and others in some training sessions, and they were short enough of field agents as it was.

Skye didn't jump down her throat when the two finished their tai chi, and May considered that a win. She let out a long breath, pleased to note that Skye did the same, and took a moment to settle before speaking. "Strength training next."

Skye nodded. "Sounds good."

May was a very different teacher than Ward was, not that Skye was surprised. She didn't say much, but she did use her hands a lot to correct her, moving her leg until her stance was more solid, demonstrating a better way to hold her arms, a hand on her back reminding Skye to keep herself from getting too tense. It was strange how May could say so much without speaking a word.

Skye had worked up a decent sweat by the time May called for her to stop and reached for her water bottle, crossing the room to wipe her face on her towel. Even knowing how impossible a task it was, Skye tried to read May's expression to see if she was happy with how she'd done.

Of course there was no way to tell.

"What now?" Skye asked, still slightly breathless.

Once again May waited several seconds before answering. "Jogging." She said, nodding towards the lockers. "Better put on shoes."

The two jogged around the base for almost an hour before stopping, running past the empty lab twice, Coulson's office once, and the kitchen, which made Skye remember how hungry she was.

She'd have to have a good breakfast after this.

Skye was glad to note that she kept up with May almost the entire way, lagging slightly behind her on their last stretch back to the gym.

May stopped jogging when they made it back to the gym, stopping first to catch her breath and then to sit on the bench and take her sneakers off. She was surprised that Skye had kept up the whole time, though she had to admit that Skye had longer legs than she did.

Skye sat beside her, removing her own shoes and taking another drink from her bottle. It was good that she could acknowledge and address when she was getting dehydrated. A lot of trainees didn't.

For the first time that morning Skye didn't push to start whatever was next. Maybe she had noticed that May wouldn't start the next task until they had recovered from the previous one. Maybe she was just tired.

This time Skye remained seated on the bench until May stood. She looked up. "We done for the day?"

May shook her head, reaching for the gloves on the shelf. "Sparring."

Skye swallowed, suddenly looking nervous. "Uuh... you promise not to kick my ass too much?"

May smirked. "Only as much as I need to."

Skye snorted. "Sure." She muttered, wrapping her hands. "Um, is there anything you like, want me to do, or..."

May shrugged. "Try not to get your ass kicked too much."

Before Skye could respond, May threw her first punch, hitting her solidly in the ribs. Skye grunted and backed away, using the time to gain her feet and get in a more solid stance. May continued to fight her more or less on autopilot, instead focusing on Skye's technique. She was fast, good at anticipating hits and rolling with them, and never got so close as to risk May being able to kick her without opening herself up.

It only took a minute for May to realise what was missing. "Time." She said, taking a step back.

Skye sagged, panting and trying to catch her breath. It wasn't lost on May that she was avoiding eye contact. She swallowed. "You know you're meant to hit back," May said sarcastically, "Right?"

There it was. The barest hint of panic in Skye's eyes, almost immediately hidden. "Oh- yeah, sorry." She said. "I was just- getting a feel for it I guess."

May raised an eyebrow but let it slide for now. "I need to know you can throw a decent punch." She said. "This time fight back."

When they began again it didn't take long for May to get frustrated. Skye started several punches but then froze midway through, falling back on dodging and ducking. She gave her numerous openings, and Skye failed to take a single one of them. May tried landing a couple of harder hits in an attempt to provoke Skye into fighting back, but the only result was Skye trying harder than ever to dodge her.

Before she lost her temper, May dropped her hands and stopped fighting. After a moment, Skye did too, looking more nervous than ever.

"Skye." May said firmly, "You have to hit me."

"I-I know, I'm sorry, I-"

"Don't be sorry. Hit me." May interrupted, opening her arms to invite Skye to try, without even the pretence of an actual fight.

Skye took a half step back. "I don't- I don't think I can." She mumbled, eyes fixed on the ground. "I- sorry, I didn't mean to- I don't think this is gonna work. Sorry." She shuffled away, not even stopping to grab her towel as she left.

May scoffed. "Good luck finding another S.O. then." She muttered, loudly enough for Skye to hear. There was a slight hesitation in her footsteps, but ultimately she kept going. She left.

May sighed. She probably shouldn't have said that. They had had a stressful few days though. It wasn't that unusual that Skye wouldn't want to fight after everything they had been through lately. To ground herself, May started punching the bag, getting into a rhythm. She knew that being Skye's S.O. wouldn't be perfect. They'd never gotten on very well, and she didn't expect that to change now just because they had both been tricked by Ward. Progress was one thing, but them being even something resembling friends was another.

Something about Skye's countenance stuck with her though. She wasn't sure what it was, but her hesitation felt so unlike Skye that May couldn't stop thinking about it. She wasn't usually so timid, even with her. Skye had always been more than happy to challenge her, to tell her 'no', to shout and argue.

It was a puzzle that stuck with May for the rest of the day. She didn't see Skye much, barely glancing her as she hurried out of the kitchen. She was still so timid. It reminded May of something, but she couldn't put her finger on what.

She was just on the verge of falling asleep that night when a memory surfaced that made her sit up and curse as she realised the truth. She knew what Skye reminded her of now.

Another trainee, not one of hers, who had been extensively abused as a child. The kid was talented enough, but had struggled in any and all combat scenarios. They panicked when their S.O. raised a hand, and couldn't bring themselves to even try to hit them back for fear of provoking them.

All thoughts of sleep banished, May thought back. She remembered one of the only times she had actually scared Skye, when she was not only angry, but also had gained on her, getting far too close for comfort.

May closed her eyes and swore under her breath. Of course. She didn't know how she hadn't figured it out sooner.

It was no wonder that Skye was scared of her.

When May went down to the gym the next morning she wasn't surprised to find it empty. She waited for five minutes just in case, and then went to Skye's room.

Skye woke up to three sharp knocks at her door. She flailed for a moment before sitting up and biting her lip. It was May, it had to be. She was mad at her, and Skye could get that. She'd wasted May's time when they were all busy, had given up. She just couldn't hit her, no matter how much she'd tried to will herself to. Every time she did try she found herself freezing up, every muscle screaming at her not to.

You don't hit the person in charge. That only makes them hit you back ten times worse.

Another knock made her jump. "Skye." May didn't sound mad, but she didn't sound like anything else either. Maybe she was mad.

"Uh- yeah?" She called back.

"Can we talk?"

Skye swallowed. She had never liked that question. It was always someone telling her why she needed to change, families who wanted her to do better in school, nuns reprimanding her for not being well behaved during visits, teachers telling her off for being distracted in class when all she wanted to do was tell them how hungry she was. "Sure." She mumbled, curling her knees up to her chest.

Barely a day after starting training with May and she'd already earned a talking to. Great.

May pushed the door open, her eyes fixing on Skye's form curled up in bed. She looked so young. She was young. Keeping her stance as non-threatening as she could, she approached.

Skye tried not to look at her too much but couldn't help it. May stopped just shy of the bed. "You mind if I sit?"

Skye almost jumped, startled by the question, then nodded. It wasn't like May needed her permission anyway. She was basically in charge when Coulson wasn't around.

May sat down at the end of the bed, thinking of what to say. She wet her lips. "I figured it out." She eventually said. "Why you don't want to hit me."

Skye looked down. "Oh."

"You don't owe me an explanation." May said, "You don't have to tell me anything. But I do need to tell you that whatever happened, it wasn't your fault."

Skye nodded quietly. People said that sometimes. Usually people who didn't know anything about what had happened to her.

May sighed internally. She was no good at talking, and she wasn't surprised that Skye wasn't being very chatty about this. "I'm sorry I scared you." She said softly.

Skye shrugged. "It's fine."

May looked at her for a long moment before standing up. "Come on." She said, nodding to the door. "You've got five minutes to get dressed for training."

Skye's heart clenched.

She wasn't sure what she was expecting, but starting exactly how training had started the day before wasn't what Skye had been worried about. Stretching was the same, tai chi was the same.

Tai chi was still really nice actually. There was something calming about it, not to mention that Skye wasn't half bad. It helped her feel at least a little better.

When they stopped for a water break May offered her a nod of approval and Skye felt a dim flicker of pride. May wasn't the type to offer praise easily, and Skye wasn't sure she'd ever given her a compliment before. Part of her thought it was pity, but a bigger part of her knew that pity wasn't really May's thing.

Still, she couldn't bring herself to talk much. Skye had always hated other people knowing what had happened to her, and May was someone she never really wanted to know. It would be hard to impress her now.

"Strength training." May said, pulling Skye from her thoughts.

Skye nodded. "Right."

This also went by in silence, though Skye noticed May's physical corrections were marginally more gentle than they had been the day before. She wasn't entirely sure how to feel about that, so she tried not to think about it too much.

Strength training went more or less the same, all things considered. When May called for Skye to stop they both took a water break. She watched Skye for a long moment, trying to figure out what to say. For some reason struggling to swallow her water, May spoke up. "You don't have to tell anyone, but- the team's here to help you. All of us."

Skye sighed. "I know." She mumbled. "But this- it was a long time ago and everyone's kind of messed up right now. I don't wanna be that jerk who's always stealing the attention."

May raised an eyebrow. "That's an odd way to put it."

Skye waved a hand. "You know what I mean." She muttered. "Jogging?"

May knew that she could have held onto that statement and pushed Skye about it, but she didn't. Instead she nodded. "Yep."

The route they took was slightly different to the day before. Skye didn't notice until they jogged past the med bay where Fitz was in bed and Jemma was sitting beside him, reading from a science magazine. From there they wound through the corridors, past the garage and the lab, where other agents were just starting work, ending at the very top, going right by Coulson's office. He glanced up at the sight of them going past and Skye caught his smile.

She wasn't sure if May was trying to prove something or what that something might be, but she did feel a little better by the time they made it back to the gym. They were all still there, despite everything. If they'd made it through Hydra they could make it through anything.

May didn't say anything as they both towelled down and took a water break. Halfway through a swig, Skye remembered what was next on the schedule and froze, almost choking on her water.

She coughed to clear her throat. "So- now?"

May looked up, sensing her unease. She put her bottle down. "Now," She said, "I'll stand here, and I want you to hit me once, then we'll call it a morning."

Skye swallowed. "I just- I don't know if I can." She muttered to the ground.

"It's okay." May said softly. "Take your time." She moved to the training mats. "Come on. I'll stand here, you make a hit when you're ready."

A shudder ran down Skye's spine and she looked at her hands. "I'm scared." She admitted in a small voice. She wasn't sure why she said it. In the hopes that May would give up, or maybe because she wanted her to tell her it was okay.

May's expression softened. "It's good you can admit that." She said. "It's the first step to working through it."

Skye nodded. She knew May wouldn't hurt her. May protected them, and if she said it was okay to hit her... Skye swung her arm around but froze before she could make contact. "S-sorry." She muttered, dropping her arm.

"It's okay. Try again."

Skye swallowed and after a moment, did as May asked. She tried again. And again she froze, this time before she could even swing her fist. She tried to will herself to just do it, counting down to zero, anything. Her arm refused to move.

At least if May looked like she was angry or frustrated Skye might be able to muster some will to swing at her, but true to her word she just stood there patiently. "You can do this." She said softly.

Skye sighed. She wished she could believe that as easily as May could. She closed her eyes in an attempt to centre herself and had an idea. Unsure if this would work, if May would even count it, she kept her eyes squeezed shut and punched where she approximated May's shoulder to be.

When her fist barely grazed her and Skye realised she had undershot, she cursed internally, not sure if she would be allowed to get away with that trick twice. She opened her eyes tentatively, knowing that May was going to roll her eyes and tell her to try again. Maybe in a sarcastic way like 'once more with feeling'. This didn't count, she knew that.

So Skye was somewhat stunned when May offered her the tiniest of smiles and said. "Good job."

Skye stayed rooted in place as May headed to the locker rooms to change. "Wait- that's it?"

May stopped, turned her head, and nodded. "That's it." She said. "You did good."

"Oh." Skye shifted awkwardly. "Okay." She didn't feel like she'd done well. She felt like she'd done the least she could get away with.

May nodded to the lockers. "Come on, it's time for breakfast. I'll make you a tea."

May had never been so nice to her. It was a little weird, Skye had to admit, and she knew it was just to get her past this block she had, but she appreciated it all the same. "I- thanks." Skye muttered with a small smile. Sure, tea had never really been her thing, but maybe that could change.

Maybe a lot of things could change.

The next day went similarly, though Skye wasn't woken up by May telling her she'd figured out one of her most guarded secrets.

Skye wasn't angry. She couldn't be. It wasn't May's fault that she'd figured it out, but it did make her feel very vulnerable. How much more could she figure out?

So far she hadn't said anything else, so Skye was grateful for that at least.

The two finished their jog slightly earlier than the day before, and when they had had a water break May walked over to the mats. "Try for two today."

Skye swallowed. She was still scared, but at least now she knew she could do it. "Okay."

It took less time today for her to take her first punch, though the second took a little longer. At least she actually hit May solidly this time.

She had to admit, it was satisfying to throw a punch that actually landed.

May nodded. "Good." She murmured, taking Skye's arm gently. "Remember not to lock your wrist."

Skye was surprised that the touch didn't make her heart seize as much as she expected. "Okay."

May hummed and let go. "You did great this morning." She said, then frowned in thought. "I could wake Coulson up to make breakfast?"

The offer pulled Skye up short and she hesitated before following May to the lockers. "Nah." She said with a smile. "He's tired enough lately."

May was inclined to agree. Skye didn't know why he was so tired though. She didn't know about all the carvings that he had shown her.

She must have looked distracted, because when she pulled a fresh shirt over her head Skye was staring at her. May raised an eyebrow. "What?"

Skye shrugged. "You- you're worried about him too, right?"

The urge to deny it and get defensive flared up in her chest, but May pushed it back. It was just Skye. She'd done so well, she'd trusted May. Maybe she should trust her back. "Yeah." She admitted softly.

Skye sighed. "I just wish he'd slow down or let me help."

"You're doing plenty as it is."

She snorted. "Yeah, hitting you twice is really helping take down Hydra."

May frowned. "Don't sell yourself short. You're tracking down allies every day, hacking Hydra's mainframe, getting intel, and you're learning to be a field agent."

Skye looked away. "I just feel like I suck at that last part."

"You don't." May said. "This is only our second training session. Did you really think you'd be kicking my ass that quickly?" She asked with a grin.

"I thought we'd actually be sparring." Skye shrugged.

May raised an eyebrow. "I could try hitting you back tomorrow," She suggested. "If you want."

"I-" Skye's voice caught in her throat. "I-... how about I try actually having my eyes open first?"

May smiled in that quiet way that somehow coloured her entire face. "Good idea."

It was easier to hit May when her eyes were open. Skye didn't know why, but it was. Something about the sight of her, someone who had protected her for so long, helped to banish the fear. Not entirely, but it helped.

Weird to think that two days could change May from the scary person in charge to someone like that, but it was nice to think about.

Skye hit May just fine the next day, actually landing a punch to her shoulder that made her take a step back. Skye was proud for the barest moment before May swung back at her, and even though the hit barely grazed her, Skye cried out in pain, stumbling back.

May blinked in alarm, taking a step forwards before she could consider whether it was a good idea. "Sorry! Are you okay?"

Skye swallowed and nodded. "Sorry." She muttered. "I'm- I'm fine, I just forgot for a second and... sorry."

May shook her head and, after taking a moment to consider, put one hand on Skye's shoulder. "It's okay." She said softly. "I'm sorry I scared you."

Skye closed her eyes, gathering herself. "I'm fine." She said.

"I know." May said softly, pulling her hand away before it got awkward. "You did good."

Skye huffed and opened her eyes, scowling. "You don't have to keep- keep coddling me." She muttered darkly. "I know I suck at this."

Melinda considered her words carefully before she spoke. "Would you tell Fitz that he sucks at engineering now because he can't make cloaking for the Bus?"

Skye gritted her teeth. "It's not the same."

"Why not?"

"It just isn't, okay?!"

May paused, waiting a moment for Skye to calm down. "He went through something traumatic, and it changed the way his brain processes things now. It'll take practice to get used to, but he's working on it. And so are you."

Skye crossed her arms. "You don't- you don't even know what happened to me." A test. A question. She knew May could have found out a lot of her history without digging too hard.

"You're right, I don't." May could see how Skye relaxed when she confirmed it. Knew that she at least suspected May of prying into her adoption files and personal history. "I just know that you learned at a young age not to stand up to people in authority. That's all I need to know."

Skye's throat worked for a moment, as if she were trying to say something, but all she said was. "You want some tea?"

May offered a smile that was just a little wider than she would normally give. "Sure, thanks." She knew that Skye didn't want to talk to her about this. She understood the need to bury trauma, to pretend it hadn't happened. It hurt less right up until you had a nightmare or something reminded you of it. Then it stung almost as badly as the first time.

She wasn't going to make Skye talk about what had happened to her.

May's damp hair was a little cold against her neck as she sat on her bed, looking over her paperwork for the day. Nothing very important, a progress report on Skye's training, some potential points of interest for Coulson to look at.

She heard the footsteps approaching her door a mile away. Hesitant, too light to be Coulson. Possibly Fitz, but she had a hunch that it wasn't.

Her hunch was confirmed when there was a quiet knock at her door. "May?" Skye asked, sounding incredibly unsure of herself. "It's me. Can- can we talk?"

May frowned and stood, opening the door. Skye looked even more nervous than she sounded. "Is everything okay?"

Skye nodded, her heart hammering in her chest. She didn't know if she could do this. She didn't even know if May would want her to do this, but some part of her needed to. Needed May to know.

"I- wanted to- to tell you some stuff, if that's okay." She muttered, forcing herself not to look away. "Can I come in?"

May nodded. There was a kindness in her eyes that Skye wasn't used to seeing. She stood aside to allow Skye entrance, and she shuffled inside.

Skye looked around curiously. She had never seen May's room before, wasn't sure what she had expected. It was brighter than she would have assumed, and a lot homier. When Skye looked around the room she could see some of May's roots. A couple of pictures of who she assumed were her parents, her old SHIELD badge, a box of tea that Skye could remember Coulson buying on an uneventful mission.

Far past the point of being jealous, Skye simply sighed. It was nice. She hadn't thought of May as the homey kind of person, but more and more she was being proven wrong.

It was nice.

When Skye turned and saw May sitting on the edge of the bed, looking at her, she fidgeted nervously. "I... I know you think I'm brave, for..." She trailed off, trying to think of what to say. "I-I'm not though. I was scared all the time, I-I hid, I ran away, I did everything I could- so that they wouldn't- wouldn't touch me." Skye bit her lip. "I ran from the last place when I was sixteen." She mumbled. "After that I just lived on the streets until..."

"Until us."


May patted the spot beside her and after a moment, Skye sat, looking down.

May considered her words carefully. "I don't think that going through that did anything good." She said after a long pause. "I don't think you're brave because of what happened to you. You're tough, brave, and smart, but that's all you. Those people didn't give you a damn thing."

Skye laughed softly, "Tough? I'm still messed up over something that happened years ago."

May raised an eyebrow. "Do you think I'm weak for being messed up over something that happened years ago?" She could see the moment that Skye realised. The look of a person who had put their foot in it.

"I-I'm sorry, I- I didn't think." Skye stuttered, eyes wide.

May shook her head. "It's okay."

Skye swallowed. "If- if you ever wanna talk about it, or... I mean, you've been helping me so much, the least I can do is lend an ear." Her words were awkward, but May could hear the sincerity behind them. She didn't know what to say, so instead she nodded.

Before she could talk herself out of it, Skye threw her arms around May's shoulders, hugging her close. She could felt May jump and tried to ignore the sinking feeling that she had crossed a line. "Thank you, for- for helping me." Skye mumbled into her shoulder. "For not saying I'm just being stupid."

Since she knew that Skye couldn't see, May let an affectionate smile creep across her face. "You're not being stupid." She said softly. "The only time you were stupid was when you thought you could rig the cockpit door with a can of whipped cream."

Skye snorted, pulling away. "That was Fitz."

"Sure it was."

Skye grinned to herself, not sure if she should say anything else. Not sure if she should leave now. It didn't feel right to walk into May's room, unload her childhood traumas, and then just leave. Her eyes swept over the rest of the space and something gave her pause.

"Hey, is that my name?"

May immediately snatched up the progress report. "That's classified."

Skye gaped, scandalised. "Bullshit it's classified, it's about me!" She made a grab for it but May held it away.

"Not for your eyes Agent Skye."

Skye wasn't sure what it was about May's countenance that betrayed faux seriousness. It could have been the lack of a frown, how her voice didn't have that usual authoritative tone, how she was holding the document over Skye's head like she was playing keep away. Whatever it was, it emboldened her to pounce, trying and failing to snatch to the document from May's hand.

After a moment of grappling Skye made a grab for the document only to receive a pillow to the face for her trouble, forcing her back. "Stay down." May said, the barest hint of a smile on her face.

"Never!" Skye cried dramatically, batting at the arm that was restricting her with the pillow. She continued trying to grapple for the paper, unable to keep from grinning. This was fun. Sure it was childish and dumb, but it was fun too.

So she laid half-hearted punches, playfully trying to grab the document until May's free hand knocked her onto her back. Skye was giggling softly and May smiled down at her reproachfully. "That's enough." She said, faux-firmly.

May waited until Skye held her hands up in surrender to let her go, though she was still grinning. It took her a moment to realise that she was smiling too. May couldn't think of anyone other than Phil who could get under her skin quite so easily. She wasn't sure when Skye had wormed her way into her heart, but she was there now, and May would protect her. Teach her.

She hummed as Skye sat up. "Well done." Skye frowned and May raised an eyebrow. "You hit me about seven times."

Skye froze, staring. "I- that doesn't count. We weren't- it wasn't a fight."

May shrugged. "Me standing in the gym and waiting for you to hit me isn't a fight either. You did good."

"It just- it feels like cheating."

"Cheaters win." May said dismissively. "I can't tell you how many people said I only beat them because I cheated."

Skye snorted. "You beat them cos you're awesome."

"I've taken cheap shots. If you see an advantage you need to take it. Everyone starts at different points, you see a shortcut you run with it."

"Okay. I'll try." Skye bit her lip. "Thank you, for- for teaching me and everything. I really appreciate it."

May shook her head. "I'm happy to do it." She said. "How about tomorrow we try a few minutes of real sparring? If it's too much just back down and we'll stop."

The usual rush of fear raced through her at the idea, but Skye found herself pausing just seeing May there. She was tough, but she was kind. She wouldn't hurt her. May was her friend.

Skye took a shaky breath. "I-I'll try."

"Good." May said. "You should get some rest."

Taking that as her cue to leave, Skye stood. "So should you. You've been more tired lately. You won't be any good to SHIELD if you're up all night working."

Displaced though it was, May couldn't help but feel a little touched at Skye's concern. "I'll sleep, I promise."

Skye smiled. "Okay. Goodnight."

"Goodnight Skye."

It was a small miracle that Skye beat her to the gym the next morning. When May arrived she was already changed and punching the bag. She looked up when May walked in. "Hey! Morning."

A smile tugged at her lips for a moment. "Good morning Skye."

Their early routine went the same as it had previously. The only difference was how Skye kept looking at her out of the corner of her eye. What she was trying to see, May wasn't sure, but she wasn't going to question it.

May could see the nervousness start to eat at Skye as they got closer and closer to their usual sparring time. They wrapped their hands in silence and as they finished, May spoke. "Remember how you get ready for tai chi?"

Skye looked up, startled. "I- breathing, right?"

She nodded. "Whenever you can, take a deep breath before a fight. It'll help you centre yourself."

"Okay." Skye said quietly, closing her eyes and taking a deep breath, hearing May do the same.

When she opened her eyes she felt marginally more relaxed, and it might have been her imagination, but May did too.

"You good?" May asked.

Skye nodded. "Yeah."

"Good." May said, and abruptly swung a fist at her.

Barely having time to think about it, Skye ducked, taking a step back. "I- sorry." She mumbled, knowing that the point was to fight back.

To her surprise May took a step towards her, taking another swing, which Skye blocked. "Dodging isn't a bad move." She said, holding eye contact. "It just can't be your only move."

"Gotcha." Skye muttered, aiming a kick to May's knee in an attempt to knock her over.

"Nice." May complimented, dodging it and pulling her arm free. That confidence was coming back, she could see it in Skye's eyes.

She could see it in her movements too, how Skye was moving forwards instead of retreating, launching counters instead of ducking and dodging. She aimed a sweep at her legs which May easily jumped, retaliating with a kick to her side.

Then Skye cried out in pain and May's heart stopped. She immediately dropped her stance and moved to hold her up, "It's okay," She tried to comfort. "Just show me, it'll be fine."

May had barely put her hand on Skye's shoulder when Skye grabbed her other arm, stuck out her leg, and sent May crashing to the ground, scrambling to get her pinned before she could realise what she'd done.

May blew her hair out of her face, trying very hard not to smile. "Sneak." She scowled.

Skye grinned tentatively. "I mean, you said cheating was okay."

She huffed. Skye was right, but this was still pretty low. "You're lucky I'm not petty." May grumbled, gently shoving Skye until she released her.

The two pulled themselves to their feet, taking a breath. "You up for another round?"

Skye thought about it. If she was honest her nerves were pretty fried after their first real match. "Not today."

May nodded and started unwinding the wrappings on her hands. "Great job today."

"Thanks." Skye muttered somewhat bashfully. She was proud that she'd managed to do it. To pin May, even if it was kind of cheating.

After the two had towelled down May spoke up. "Got something for you." She said, holding out a beige envelope.

Skye eyed it suspiciously. "Am I being fired?"

May rolled her eyes. "No."

"Am I getting a raise?"


Skye snorted and opened the envelope. "Progress report?"

May nodded. "Your copy. Coulson has one too."

Skye's eyes skimmed the page. Words jumped out at her; 'determined', 'tough', 'talented', 'driven', 'eager', 'brave'. She felt a slight lump in her throat and tried to swallow it. "I- thank you."

"Just my professional opinion."

Skye laughed breathlessly. "Well... thank you for your opinion."

May hummed. "You're welcome." When Skye went to leave the envelope behind, she nodded to it. "There's something else there too."

Skye frowned at the envelope. She would have sworn it was empty, there were no more documents inside. When she picked it up, a small card fell out, about the size of a business card. Confused, Skye bent over to take it, and when she saw what was written on it she couldn't help but laugh. "Seriously?!"

May grinned. "You earned it."

"Well thank you then." Skye teased. "Good to know how the boundaries work."

"Don't get cheeky, that coupon's only valid for one."

Skye sniggered. "Yes ma'am."

As the two walked to the kitchen, May glanced at her sideways. "Half thought you'd use that thing right away."

Skye grinned. "No way, I'm saving this." She said, peering at it. "When you least expect it."

May rolled her eyes. "I'll wait with baited breath."

Skye giggled, but kept her eyes locked on the card and what was written on it.

One Free Hug.