An Agents of SHIELD fanfic by Aisling Yinyr Ngaio

She'd expected her young companion to be like Phil. Certainly she could see how the two were so similar, which was probably one of the reasons he'd hired her on despite their protests on her lack of combative skills and her dubious background.

She didn't say anything to encourage or discourage the girl's presence, collecting her cold persona around her like a cloak as she continued on her business. Most juniors wouldn't even think about approaching her, let alone talk to her or even just to keep her company, and most seniors wouldn't even think about visiting her except on official business, but this one had guts, she'd give her that. Not many hackers, so used to hiding behind their anonymity and computer screens, were able to withstand the pressure of interrogation when face-to-face with flesh and blood foes.

Only instead of nervously filling the silence with words as Phil was wont to do, the young woman settled into the co-pilot seat after the formalities were observed, and left it at that. No ramblings, no long speeches, no electronics, only eyes filled with wonder at the starry sky as she commenced vertical take off and returned to the familiar sky above the clouds.

She had to admit that she was impressed. Her companion, whom she at first thought too talkative for her own good, and too chatty for her taste, was actually quite adept at communications. Unlike her constant babbling to her supervising officer, Skye was, miraculously, not saying a word. She didn't badger her into telling her secrets, nor did she pick her brains about anything SHIELD-related.

For a girl who had proven to be eternally curious about anything and everything crossing her path, she was respectful about the invasion of space within the tiny room. Somehow, with her around, Melinda didn't feel the usual irritation at a foreign presence in the cockpit. Silence reigned between them, yet it did not stifle. It was, on a weird level, human comfort.

And surprisingly for one of her personality, Skye never looked bored while keeping her company, not even when she forgo her usual toys and sat there in her seat, quiet, relaxed and contemplative, unruffled by the stunning lack of conversation.

It had been a long time since she'd shared companionable silence with anyone. Not even with Phil, whom she knew the longest, or Ward, who was currently intimate with her. The former was always uncomfortable without words masking the void of sound, even if he had to carry the conversation all by himself, while the latter was... too much like her, all action and no talk... and he was too much in awe of her.

In the end, it was Melinda who unexpectedly broke the silence. Under the pretext of putting her young charge's "idle time" to use, she began teaching Skye the basics of flight navigation in her usual short, succinct, clipped tones. It wasn't much, and she even half-expected the other woman to suddenly up and escape her presence, but she stayed, and much to her credit, she actually listened and learned with amazing speed.

It was as if, with this opening, a barrier she didn't even remember chafing at her had been crossed. Little snippets of conversation started forming between the two. Skye commencing their "lessons" with some tidbit of information on the rest of the team, filling in the blanks of the context-less conversations heard over the comm system. Accidental revelations of past histories at her orphanage. A mutual appreciation of the vista only the cockpit could offer.

And laughter. Happiness. Something she'd long forgotten in her self-imposed solitary prison back at the administrative offices.

Despite knowing the truth about Skye's past - or perhaps because of it - Melinda marveled that Skye could still look forward to every day with so much hope and passion. Not because she was irresponsible or immature or all the things she'd initially thought her to be, but because she still decided to make the best of things and refused to let her past define her in a way she didn't wish to be.

She, Melinda May, had needed that reminder. Strange that it should come from one so young, so inexperienced, and so unexpectedly strong.

So when Skye opened their conversation that day with, "It was you, wasn't it?" she didn't even pretend to misunderstand her, letting a hint of smile play on her lips when she fixed her usual stern glare at her companion, who laughed delightedly at the shared secret, as they bathed in the beautiful colours of sunset.

- Finis -