Ward Residence, Torrance, California, 2023
In the years after Agent Grant Ward started a relationship with a hacker named Skye, he had learned many things about himself. He had learned that he enjoyed bubble baths, with a certain someone. He learned that if you say 'have you tried turning it off and back on' to a hacker, they will throw something at you. He learned that when you get hit with a hula girl dash ornament, it takes five stitches to close your head. He learned the joy of companionship and the joys of cooking. The last thing was mostly because if it were up to Skye, they would survive on coffee, energy drinks, alcohol and candy.
"Skye, if you keep eating those there won't be any left for your sweet potatoes," Grant reminded, when he saw her sneak another handful of mini marshmallows.
"You're no fun," she whined, jumping down from the counter top with less grace than usual due to rather round midsection. "I am going to go watch Miracle on 34th Street."
Grant chuckled to himself before checking on the ham in the oven. He was in charge of Christmas dinner this year. The team had disbanded a few years ago, but they still saw each other from time to time, and they always got together around Christmas. This year the group was converging on the new residence of the newly married Skye and Grant Ward. He had just finished mashing the potatoes, when the doorbell rang.
"I got it," Skye called. She pulled open the door only to be nearly bowled over twin three year olds.
"Charlie, Marie, please be careful," Jemma chased after the children, as Leo caught Skye's arm to keep her top heavy form from falling.
"Uncle Ward, I got a Power Ranger mega-morpher from Santa!" Charlie came flying into the kitchen.
"Careful Charlie," Grant cautioned, blocking the child from getting to close to the stove, while trying to appraise the flashing toy in his hand. "That is pretty cool."
"I got a doctor kit, so I can giving Auntie Skye's baby a check-up," Marie informed him seriously.
"Well, if you are anything like your mother, I'm sure you will do a great job," he answered, picking up the little girl so she could press her stethoscope to his chest.
"Sorry about them, Grant," Jemma apologized, finally catching up to the children.
"Not at all, Jem, Merry Christmas," He smiled at her. This was another thing he had learned about himself. He really liked kids. They were honest and innocent and easy to please.
"Happy Christmas," Jemma smiled at her friend.
"Where are Melinda and Phil?" Leo asked as he entered the kitchen.
"Mum, I need to give you a check-up," Marie said pulling her mother into a chair.
"But I had a check-up before we left the house, Sweetling," she reminded, only to have a fake thermometer shoved in her open mouth.
"Melinda said they are running a little late but they should be here soon," Skye commented.
"High-Ya" Charlie yelled, judo chopping Grants leg, as the man himself continued to toss salad.
"Do you need a hand?" Jemma asked, starting to stand only to be pushed back into her seat.
"You need a shot," Marie determined jabbing her mother's arm with a bunt piece of plastic.
"We are all set, just need to set the table," Grant assured her.
"That, I can do," Skye said, moving to kiss her husband on the cheek, before grabbing the plates.
With perfect timing, the doorbell rang again, as Skye was putting the last dish in its place.
"I got it," Grant said, as everyone else was getting settled around the table, except Charlie who continued to chop at Grant's legs.
"Merry Christmas," Grant greeted his former boss and Agent May.
"Merry Christmas, Ward," Melinda greeted.
"Auntie May, I got a mega morpher from Santa," Charlie took her hand, dragging her away. By the time Phil and Grant got to the table, Melinda was getting a check-up, while Charlie tried to chop her arm, which still moved lighting fast.
"Are we all set?" Grant asked looking around happily at his family.
"Looks like it," Skye smiled, squeezing his hand as he took the seat next to her.
Dishes were passed and food consumed. Jokes were shared and old stories told with great enthusiasms. Everyone was glad that they could share this time together, which had all started with mulled cider and Christmas pudding somewhere over the Atlantic.
"I have some news," Grant offered when there was a pause in conversation. Everyone gave him their attention. "With this little lady on the way," his hand ran over Skye's baby bump, "I have decided to stop doing specialist work. I took a position at the academy, with more regular hours and considerably less risk of not getting to hold my baby girl."
"Oh, Grant that is wonderful," Jemma gushed.
"I am very happy for you two," Leo congratulated him.
"Are you sure you're up for that, Ward?" Melinda questioned, "Some of these newbies are pretty green."
Melinda had been working at the academy for four years now, ever since she and Phil had decided to move in together.
"Well, I did train one of the best agents the agency has very seen," he smiled at his wife, kissing the top of her head, "and just think how green she was when she stepped onto the Bus."
"Hey," Skye grimaced, punching him in the arm, "I wasn't that bad, and if someone hadn't been draggin me with a bag over my head, I'm sure I would have been just fine."
"While we are making announcement," Jemma started when the laughter died down.
"We have a bit of an announcement ourselves," Leo continued.
Skye jumped from her chair running around the table and throwing her arms around her friend. "Oh, Jem, congratulation! Our babies are going to grow up together!" she squealed excitedly. "We could take them to the park, and they could have playdates, and we could…"
"Honey, you have to let her breath," Grant reminded, sometimes Skye forgot her own strength.
"Oh, of course, I'm sorry," she said, pulling back from the slightly winded Englishwoman, "I am just so excited."
Skye returned to her seat, as everyone else offered their congratulations.
"Mum, we're full can we watch a movie on the tablet?" Marie asked.
"Of course, sweetling, you know where it is just go sit on the couch and don't break anything," Jemma smiled at her children, happy to have a little adult conversation. She had cut back her hours, since the twins were born, to be home with them more. She had a lab in the basement, and would often work late into the night, after tucking the children into bed, her husband working happily beside her as they solved unsolvable problems for SHIELD.
When everyone finished eating, Melinda excused herself disappearing for a while, leaving the others to clear the table. They all moved to the living room, Leo and Jemma joined their children on the couch. Phil spread out on the loveseat and Skye sat on the arm of the recliner. Grant went to refill drinks, and returned with a deck of cards and a box of candy canes.
"Anyone up for a quick game?" he asked, sitting down in the recliner and pulling Skye into his lap.
"Not this again," Melinda sighed, settling herself next to Phil on the loveseat. "You know I always win."
"Don't be so cocky, Melinda, Skye beat you last year," Grant reminded her proudly.
"It was a fluke," the older woman insisted.
"Only one way to find out," Skye taunted raising a challenging eyebrow at Melinda.
"Actually, I had a thing," Phil interrupted the on going battle for most bad*ss chick, standing up only to turn and kneel in front of Melinda, who stared at him in utter disbelief. He pulled a small velvet box from his pocket, and Skye and Jemma gasped with excitement.
"Mei, you know that I love you more than anything in the Marvel universe. I have for more than thirty years. You are the most amazing woman I have ever known. I would die for you, will you do me the honor of becoming my wife?" he opened the box, revealing a simple, delicate but beautiful ring.
Everyone in the room held their breath.
"OOOOh, Aunt May, Uncle Phil got you a princess ring!" Marie interrupted the moment excitedly.
The comment snapped Melinda from her ruminations on the man in front of her. She knew what she needed to do to be happy. She launched herself at him, kissing him passionately, until both children began a chorus of eeewwwwws.
"I take that as a yes?" Phil smiled happily.
"Yes," she laughed, pulling him to his feet. He put the ring on her finger and everyone cheered.
At the end of the night, they were already making plans for the next gathering. After they had said goodbye to their guest, Grant did a last check of the house, while Skye walked slowly up the stairs.
"Grant?" she called nervously, her senses on alert suddenly.
"Yes?" he asked running up the stairs, when he heard the panic in her voice.
"Did you leave the nursery door open?" she asked. She always kept that door closed, but now it was slightly ajar, leading her to believe that there might be an intruder.
"No." he said decisively, moving ahead of her and throw the door open and clear the room. Once inside, he calmed immediately. There in the center of the room, was a beautiful hand craved cradle.
"Its fine, babe," he called to her. She came up behind him, wrapping her arms around his torso.
"Oh, honey, it's so beautiful," she said tears springing to her eyes.
"I know," he squeezed her in a tight hug.
"We are so lucky,"
"I love our family," she smiled happily.
"Yeah, me too," he said simply. If anyone had told him growing up that this would be his life, he would have laughed at them, but now he knew that true happiness could come from the strangest of circumstances. Like agreeing to train a hacker with no field experience, but the most beautiful smile he had ever seen.
A/N: To Rebekah who asked if the could translate this story, please feel free, I don't have a way to to contact you. Thanks