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Don't Run (Stop Holding Your Tongue)

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"Happy birthday!" Fitz says happily, presenting Skye with a cupcake.

Skye eyes the cupcake with suspicion. It's chocolate. "What do you want?" she asks carefully.

Fitz's face falls a little. "I--happy birthday?" he says again, less sure of himself.

"It's not my birthday," Skye says, frowning.

"But," Fitz says, sounding a little flustered now. "I, I--that's what it said, it says on your ID badge that your birthday is today."

Oh. Right. Her SHIELD ID badge. The one she's supposed to wear clipped to her chest whenever they visit official SHIELD facilities, but that she's kicked as far underneath her bunk as she could. Skye purses her lips in annoyance and has to remind herself that it's not Fitz's fault.

"It's not my birthday," she repeats through clenched teeth, before spinning on her heel and walking back upstairs. She doesn't take Fitz's cupcake. Fitz looks embarrassed the next time he resurfaces from the lab, but neither of them bring it up again.


"Hey, happy birthday," Ward says the following week, placing a present in Skye's lap.

Skye stares at the present. It's maybe the size of a book and it's heavy. "Did you--get me a present?" she asks in disbelief.

Ward is looking very verklempt and rubs his neck with one hand. "Well, I thought maybe, I just thought you should have this."

Skye's mind is kind of blown here, except, "It's--not my birthday, though?" she tries. Even though, goddamnit, she's so curious! Across the lounge, Fitz and Coulson are looking at them now.

"It's not?" Ward says curiously. "But your file says it is?"

Skye rolls her eyes then, and glares at Coulson.

"Don't look at me," Coulson says, far too innocently.

"It's not my birthday," Skye insists, and that makes Ward lean down to snatch the present back.

"Wait, wait," Skye says quickly, pulling at the gift. "I'll still take this, though?"

Ward, who's been looking increasingly embarrassed, stills enough to smile cautiously at her. "Yeah?"

Skye nods.

"Then you won't get anything on your actual birthday, you know?" he warns her, but she's already ripping into the paper--purple and pink, with a gaudy green wrapping bow--to reveal what's inside. "When is your actual birthday, anyway?" Ward asks, but Skye's got the box open and can't answer because she's trying to decide how to react.

"Wow," Fitz says, from where he's stood up and is craning his neck to see.

"I know maybe it's a little girly," Ward starts to say--like that's a bad thing?!--and Skye shushes him by holding up a stern finger (thanks, Coulson!), because the girly part of it is probably what she's got the least issues with.

"I just," Skye says, "I don't know what to say?"

The revolver is shiny, small, just the right size for her hands, and the white handle is inlaid with a discreet pattern.

"It's only for emergencies," Ward explains firmly, "and you can't carry it until we do some more firearms training, but I figured you could use something to protect yourself with, sometimes."

It's a solid train of thought, and while Skye is touched by the gesture, she also remembers pointing a gun at Ian Quinn and suddenly realizing with perfect clarity, even through the haze of fear, that she couldn't pull that trigger.

"Um," she says, because she doesn't want to be rude. She was honestly just hoping for a book. Maybe a computer gadget.

"Oh," Ward says, seeming to finally understand. He's back to looking embarrassed. "I'll just--"

"No, no, it's, this is--I'm glad you thought about it?" Skye tries. "But really, it's not even my birthday and I just, I think maybe this is--not my style?"

Ward lets out his breath all in a rush and gestures vaguely. "It's okay. You keep it for now. Stash it under the bed or something. If you ever decide you want to use it, that's fine, if not, that's fine too."

"Thanks," Skye says awkwardly, as Ward starts inching his way towards the kitchen, clearly eager to escape the whole situation.

"You didn't even take my cupcake," Fitz grumbles.

Next to him, Coulson snickers.


When they trudge back onto the Bus, Coulson meets them at the top of the ramp. "Great work, everyone."

Skye's not entirely sure she agrees; if it was truly great work, she might not be covered in dust and dirt. Then again, she supposes, this is probably why Coulson elected to stay behind on the Bus and run operations from there; she wouldn't be surprised to learn he'd known about this the whole time.

"I'm going to take a shower," Melinda says, and as she passes Coulson she moves her arm aggressively against her own side, sending up a cloud of dust that Coulson neatly sidesteps.

"I'm going after you," Ward bites out. Skye sighs and resigns herself to waiting a while for the shower. She wonders if she can sneak into Coulson's office and leave dust prints all over his stuff. She starts heading upstairs.

"One second, Skye," Coulson says, halting her in her tracks.

"'Sup, boss?"

Coulson hesitates, and then actually looks around to see if anyone's watching, which is shifty as hell, before reaching into his inner pocket and pulling out an envelope.

"Here," he says, smiling a little.

"Is this about my mom?" Skye asks, voice automatically dropping to a whisper as hope surges in her.

"No," Coulson says, looking apologetic, and Skye sighs. Figures. "It's just a little something. For, you know, for your birthday."

Tension starts building in Skye's shoulders. "My birthday?" she asks, incredulous.

"Yes," Coulson says, nodding once. "The real date is listed on the original redacted file."

Skye stares hard at the envelope in her hands. She doesn't want to look at Coulson right now. Opening the envelope, because what the fuck else is she going to do, she finds a small card with green trim. The words Happy birthday! are shining up at her in a vaguely glittery font.

"Thanks," she says flatly, "but it's not my birthday."

Coulson looks puzzled. "Are you sure? It says on the file--"

"I know when my birthday is!" Skye snaps, harsher than she intends to, and a small cloud of dust flies up as she slaps the card shut in her hands. Coulson doesn't sidestep it. Dust settles onto his lapels and his tie, and his mouth tightens into a line.

Skye remembers the file she'd found. She remembers the brief elation she'd felt at seeing the date, until she realized it had no source. No hospital records, no birth certificate. Just another meaningless date, seemingly pulled out of thin air, just to have a birth date, any birth date, to attribute to her.

"Sorry," he says, but he doesn't sound mad even though his face is all cranky.

Skye mumbles, "It's not a big deal," because she can't bring herself to voice the words fully, and then she flees.

She takes the card with her though, and puts it onto the small shelf in her bunk. It'll probably fall over the next time they hit turbulence, but for now it can sit there, dusty fingerprints all over the front and green letters proclaiming Happy birthday! in the direction of her bed.


Skye considers hiding in the SUV, but to be quite honest, she doesn't want the association with her van right now. Instead she crawls into the storage room at the front of the Bus and makes a little nest for herself in a tight corner, between a crate of canned goods and a weapons case. She's not sulking--she's not--but okay, she's kind of sulking.

It's not Coulson who finds her, even though she'd expected it to be. She's got her laptop in her lap and is deep in a discussion with strangers about Pokemon, when Jemma slinks into the tight space.

"Hey," Skye says, automatically scooting over a little.

"Hi," Jemma says with a smile, sitting down next to Skye. It's a tight fit, but it works; Skye's got blankets and a sleeping bag down on the floor, and the light from her laptop is enough. "How are you doing?"

"If you're here to wish me a happy birthday, you're way off base," Skye warns.

"Don't be silly," Jemma says. "It's not your birthday for another three months."

Skye's fingers falter in their rhythm on the keyboard, but by the time she realizes it she's already given herself away. Startled, she meets Jemma's patient gaze.

"How did you know?" she asks.

"I have my ways," Jemma says mischieviously, before breaking into giggles. "It's listed under your personal info in your phone."

Skye feels her face growing hot against her will, and she remembers Jemma asking to borrow her phone, innocent as you please, a few weeks back. "Oh," she says. "Right."

"I was actually kind of surprised," Jemma admits, pulling her knees up to her chest and folding her arms on top of them. "You're usually so guarded about everything, I didn't think you'd keep anything of note just--lying around."

Skye stares hard at the computer screen, debating with herself over how much to give away.

"I don't," Skye starts saying, and then hesitates. When she looks over at Jemma however, she's just waiting patiently, looking at Skye with kind eyes. Skye loves Jemma's eyes.

"I don't actually know when my birthday is," Skye says quietly, and hates how her voice trembles a little; hates how she falters on the word birthday.

"If it's any consolation," Jemma says sweetly, "I think you picked a really good one."

Skye smiles, she can't help it. She remembers looking at her paperwork, at all the different dates staring back at her. She remembers thinking about all the birthdays that have passed without anyone even noticing, and picking a date, a new date, from the calendar, because it would be something that was hers, and hers alone.

Smile growing, Skye sets her laptop aside so she can lean back, shoulder bumping comfortably into Jemma's. Nudging her with an elbow, Skye says, "So, you gonna get me anything?"

Something changes on Jemma's face. Her smile seems to grow softer as she asks, "Do I have to wait until your birthday to get you anything?"

Skye's heart is pounding in her chest. She briefly wonders when that started. "No," she whispers back. "You don't have to wait."

Jemma's lips are soft and she tastes faintly of some form of fruit--raspberry maybe? The kiss is warm and careful, and Skye's hands twitch in her lap; she's not sure what to do with them? But then one of Jemma's hands takes hers and she laces their fingers together, and it's as if something loosens in Skye's chest then. Opening her mouth, she deepens the kiss and licks into Jemma's mouth, addicted to the taste and smell of her, addicted to the little sound Jemma makes in the back of her throat.

They press together in the cramped space, and their hands unlink so Skye can grab Jemma and hug her and hold her close. "Skye," Jemma breathes into the kiss, and something grows hot and restless between Skye's legs.

Pulling at Jemma's waist, Skye manages to get them horizontal, and rolls them so that she's on top, one leg sliding between Jemma's, crotch bearing down on Jemma's thigh.

"Skye," Jemma says again, and her voice is shaking now.

"I swear," Skye says between kisses, "if the next words out of your mouth are 'Happy birthday,' I will kick your ass."

"No," Jemma reassures her, hands roaming across Skye's back and sliding around to her front. Shamelessly cupping one of Skye's breasts, Jemma smiles against Skye's mouth before kissing her way along Skye's jaw to her ear. "I wasn't going to say anything," Jemma says, sucking Skye's earlobe into her mouth. It feels amazing, and it brings to mind certain associations. Skye's eyes flutter shut and she grinds down against Jemma's leg, drawing a moan from Jemma.

"Can we," Skye asks, breath hitching when Jemma's other hand slides along the top of her pants, fingertips brushing the skin in the little gap where her shirt ends.

"Absolutely," Jemma says, not waiting for Skye to finish her sentence. "Yes, absolutely."

Pulling away a little, Skye takes a moment just to look at Jemma, on her back and looking up at her, so openly. He hair is slightly messy and her face is flushed, visible even in the dim light. It's a good look on her, and Skye wants to see more of it. She smiles as she gets ahold of Jemma's fly and starts unbuttoning it. Jemma's wearing light blue panties, visible in the V of her open fly, and Skye wants to put her mouth there. She wants to go down on Jemma and see what it'll do to her; see how messy she can get Jemma's hair if Skye licks her until she's shivering.

Skye's about to lean down and pull at Jemma's pants, when suddenly Coulson's voice comes over the intercom, sounding strained and uncomfortable.

"Just a reminder, all storage areas of the Bus are under constant surveillance."

Jemma sits up so abruptly she almost headbutts Skye, and they spring apart with equally horrified looks on their faces.

"Oh my God," Jemma squeaks. "Oh my God!"

For several long moments they just stare wide-eyed at each other.

"Do you think he saw?" Jemma whispers eventually, from behind the hand she's got clasped over her mouth.

"Do I--?" Skye huffs, rolling her eyes as she hisses back. "Of course he saw, I'm wondering who was there with him! Did everyone see?"

Jemma lowers her hand then, and to her surprise, Skye finds that she's smiling widely. "Oh my God," Jemma says again, but she sounds distinctly amused.

"Aren't you--aren't you freaking out?" Skye asks, frowning.

"Why would I be freaking out?" Jemma asks, clearly puzzled. "I mean, getting caught by your boss when in the middle of hanky panky isn't exactly one of my kinks, but I've been in worse situations, I think."

Skye's eyebrows climb upwards despite her best efforts. "Hanky panky?" she asks, and then, "Wait--you have? Worse situations?"

"Oh, yes." Jemma agrees, a fresh blush coming across her cheeks.

Skye smiles again then, relieved, and Jemma's hand reaches across the space between them to take Skye's.

"So," Skye says, scooting a little closer again. "Do you want to move this party elsewhere, then?"

"Sure," Jemma smiles. "Where?"

Skye considers for a few moments, before deciding she's already humiliated and she might as well run with it. "Hey Coulson," she asks the ceiling, "our bunks aren't under surveillance, right?"

Jemma chokes on a laugh, and they wait for a few moments before Coulson's reluctant voice comes over the intercom again. "No," he says shortly.

Skye meets Jemma's eyes again, and they're twinkling with amusement.

"Good," Skye says, getting to her feet and pulling Jemma with her. "Come on."

Jemma laughs delightedly all the way upstairs.