A/N: Now I'm just shipping Ava with everybody. Named after a throwaway line in my other fic "Ava and Peter". Read and review.
Ava doesn't think Coulson's gone native. She thinks it's nice he cares about the whole school, not just the team.
She knows everyone rolls their eyes when Coulson mentions budget cuts and PTA meetings but you have to admit, he is extremely dedicated to his cover. A lesser agent would have bankrupted the school by now but Coulson never gives anything less than 100% to any assignment he is given. Ava admires that in him and she tries to emulate him in team missions, no matter how much she wishes she could be the one delivering all the punches.
Ava knows everyone thinks she takes herself too seriously and needs to lighten up a little more but Coulson thinks she's doing a great job.
"Personally, I feel the team would be a lot more successful if everyone had your discipline," he tells her one time after a particularly grueling mission. Sam and Peter, as usual bickered instead of focusing on the task on hand. Danny and Luke worked well together as usual, but they forgot their own strength and ended up causing a lot of collateral damage. Ava, as usual, tried to do her best amidst the chaos.
"Thank you, sir," she tells him, blushing slightly. Their team rarely gets any compliments from any S.H.I.E.L.D. employees; they usually get dirty looks and exasperated sighs. Then Coulson puts his hand on her shoulder and she forgets how to breathe for a moment.
"Don't let that go to your head too much, Ayala. You need some work as well."
"In what areas, sir?"
"Improvisation on the field, for one. I know it's hard going off book. The book is nice, comforting even. But rarely is an enemy textbook. I had to learn that too."
"How did you?"
"It wasn't easy. Boy, the stories I could tell you—"
"Could you? Tell me the stories?"
"Sure. Drop by my office sometime during school hours."
"I can do that?"
"You don't have to get in trouble to go to the principal's office. Sometimes, it can be…voluntary."
He chuckles at his own joke and Ava smiles too. "That'd be great, sir."
"Oh, please, Ava. Just call me Phil. I think we're familiar enough, don't you?"
Her breath catches in her throat and she doesn't know how to respond. Finally, she settles on:
She visits his office one afternoon, just as he's on the phone with the superintendent.
"Yes, I know our standardized scores in mathematics aren't up to par but this year, they will be," he is saying when she walks in. Ava fidgets in her olive green dress worn over a long sleeved white tee as she waits.
He notices her and smiles in her direction. "I'm sorry superintendent, but I have to go. Someone very important just walked in." He hangs up and gestures for her to take a seat. She does, her heart pounding wildly in her chest. He thinks she's important!
"So…" he clasps his hands together. "I'm glad you took me up on my offer. How's your day been?"
"Probably not half as stressful as yours," she replies. "Arguing with the superintendent sounds pretty rough. Why do you bother?"
"All of this!" She gestures to the office and then leans forward in her seat. "Why don't you ask to get transferred or ask someone else to do all the work?"
He shrugs and says, "S.H.I.E.L.D. isn't about getting glamorous assignments; it's about doing what is necessary for the good of the world. Life at the agency isn't always like a James Bond film. Besides, I like having a simple cover. Makes me remember who the people I am protecting are."
Ava sits in awed silence for a minute. "You're such a great agent," she says, shaking her head. "I don't know if I could ever be at your level."
"One day you will be, Ava," he tells her. "I know you will."
He just looks into her eyes quietly and she believes him.
Then, she impulsively leans over and kisses him. Hard. He doesn't resist for a moment but then he breaks away. "Ava, what are you doing?"
"I—I don't know, sir," she stammers. She's afraid to look him in the eye now, totally embarrassed. He lifts her chin up with his fingers and shivers run down her spine as he says, "Call me Phil" before kissing her once more.
That's how her fantasies usually end, with a kiss. She's afraid to imagine more because then she wouldn't be able to look him in the eye and she loves his eyes.
Everyone thinks Coulson's become a joke now, with his fantastic commitment to Midtown High but Ava knows better.
Coulson is a true soldier: he takes his assignments without complaint and carries them through. His dedication and hard work are what attracts her to him.
The fact that he's a total PILF doesn't hurt either.