Skye isn't sure how this is even her life.
"I'm like ninety percent certain this is all your fault," Fitz says, scowling at Jemma from where he's hiding behind Ward.
Jemma frowns and looks like she very much disagrees with that statement. "Well, that's just not true, this whole thing was your idea."
"Me?!" Fitz shrieks. He clutches at Ward's arm in a manner that makes Ward scowl, and the next thing out of Fitz's mouth is just a bunch of science talk that Skye can't follow; it all sounds like atonal trumpet sounds to her.
At least Skye isn't the only one who's confused. Ward also doesn't seem to understand what they're talking about, although his brow is furrowed, like he's trying to.
Coulson, on the other hand, seems to understand everything--although his face tells Skye he wishes he didn't. When Fitz is done making trumpet sounds, Coulson helpfully summarizes the whole thing with, "And then you decided to create a dinosaur."
And yes. This is apparently Skye's life, now.
"Well," Jemma says, holding up a finger, "if we're to be completely accurate, we didn't really create a dinosaur--"
"You created a dinosaur!" Coulson bites out. His voice is tight and angry, and it sounds like he's building a particularly nasty headache. Skye knows the feeling. "You created a dinosaur, and it's now locked in our cargo bay."
"The growth rate did occur somewhat faster than we'd expected," Jemma admits, but she doesn't sound completely sorry about it, and there's an absolutely adorable smile tugging at her lips. Skye wishes she didn't find it so cute, because she's really starting to understand the term mad scientist.
"Jurassic Park," Skye mumbles.
"What's that?" Coulson asks.
"This is Jurassic Park," Skye says, still feeling like she's gone crazy. Somehow, she's stepped into an alternate universe where superheroes are real, and oh yeah, there's a fucking dinosaur on their plane!
"This is not Jurassic Park," Ward says, as if he can somehow make it not be Jurassic Park just by arguing it. (Really, though, Skye's right. This is totally Jurassic Park.)
"Can we shoot it?" Skye asks.
"Don't shoot it!" Jemma says, sounding alarmed. "If this is, in fact, a living, breathing dinosaur, then this is a major scientific breakthrough! We need to contain it, to take samples, to analyze it--"
"We need to put it down like a rabid dog," Fitz says, "Screw the science!"
Jemma gasps as if he's struck her, and Skye automatically places a reassuring arm around her shoulders. "Fitz, you don't mean that," Jemma says, with something that almost looks like an actual lip quiver.
"Ward," Coulson says with a nod, saving Fitz from having to respond.
Ward pulls a face that probably means he wants to protest, but also doesn't want to seem weak or cowardly. "On it, sir," he says, instead of I'm not going dinosaur hunting alone! or Are you insane? or Am I high on something and hallucinating this whole thing? like a normal person might have said. Ward walks to the weapons cabinet by the debriefing room and starts pulling out weapons.
"Should we maybe alert someone about this?" Skye asks carefully, for several reasons. She's seen this movie, okay? She knows how it ends.
"No need," Coulson says quickly. A little too quickly. Skye narrows her eyes at him, and sees how his mouth tightens around the corners. "We'll be able to handle this problem ourselves."
"Sir," Ward says, sounding surprised, as he attaches something that looks alarmingly like hand grenades to his utility belt.
"Is that safe?" Skye wonders, but nobody's really paying attention to her.
"There's no need to bother HQ with this," Coulson says, with an air of finality in his voice. "We'll contact them once we've got the situation under control. In the meantime, this plane stays airborne. We can't risk that thing getting loose anywhere."
Ward's eyebrows do a complicated thing. "That's not standard procedure, when we've got what can only be classified as an alien--"
"Take Agent May as backup," Coulson says quickly, nodding towards where Melinda is watching the feed of the cargo bay.
"Don't we kind of need her to fly the plane?" Fitz asks (in case she gets eaten by the dinosaur goes unsaid), which causes Ward to make an indignant noise.
"What, and I'm expendable?" he asks.
"Do we know what kind of dinosaur it is?" Melinda asks thoughtfully, and they all turn to her.
Jemma blinks a few times as if she hadn't even considered the fact that the dinosaur would have a classification, beyond dinosaur. "What kind?"
Melinda turns to face them. "Will it try to rip Ward to shreds when he goes down there?"
"I'm feeling better and better about this," Ward grumbles.
"Do we know what kind of dinosaur it is?" Melinda repeats.
"Well," Fitz says slowly.
"Um," Jemma says, sounding less sure of herself than normal, and it's kind of unsettling. Skye, who still has her arm around Jemma's shoulders, hugs her a little tighter. "We think we do?"
"You created a dinosaur without knowing what kind?" Coulson asks. There's a vein in his forehead that's starting to throb noticeably. Skye didn't even realize that veins could get that prominent.
"We didn't actually think this was a possibility!" Jemma says desperately.
"Do you think it can climb stairs?" Fitz asks. He's looking past May at the screen now.
Everyone else turns to what Fitz is looking at, and there it is.
The dinosaur is a gray-green lizard-y color, feathered, walking on two legs, and it's about the size of a horse. Skye feels like she's watching a movie and not the live feed from the cargo bay. The dinosaur is sniffing around the spiral staircase, as if it wants to climb it.
"I'm just saying," Skye says, eyes drawn to the large claw that features prominently on each foot, "it looks like a velociraptor to me."
"Nah," Ward says, from where he's starting to look distinctly bogged down under his arsenal. "Jurassic Park didn't give an accurate representation of velociraptors; they were much smaller in real life." There's a moment of stunned silence, and Ward shrugs. "What? I like movie trivia."
"Yes, well," Jemma says, and then takes a step towards the big screen, gesturing like a school teacher. "The dinosaur we--created, we think it might be a Utahraptor or possibly an Achillobator, but we'd need to examine it more closely to be sure."
Fitz gets a look on his face, like examining it closer is the very last thing he wants to do.
"It's a fair bet it belongs in the dromaeosaur family," Jemma continues, growing more excited as she goes, seemingly unaware of how Coulson's vein is growing more prominent the wider she smiles. "The dromaeosaurs were all carnivores, hunting and killing. The hyperextended talon on its feet is thought to be used to capture prey, and some of the smaller members of the family might even have been climbing trees, using the claw to aid them; isn't that exciting?"
Coulson looks like nothing has ever been less exciting, ever.
Jemma clears her throat, and her smile drops off her face. "I mean, it's probably dangerous, sir."
Ward has dug out a helmet from somewhere and is fastening the chin strap. Once that's done, he pushes aside a hidden wall compartment Skye didn't even know existed, and pulls out a massive gun. Skye's eyes bug out; the thing is so big, Ward has to hold it with both hands.
"I'm borrowing your gun, sir," Ward says.
"Please don't," Coulson says, sighing heavily.
"It's the biggest gun we've got," Ward argues, "and we don't know what that thing is capable of, or how resilient it is. The good-luck revolver I got from my great aunt Cindy could do the trick, or we might need more umph, and I, for one, am not taking any chances."
He glances over at Melinda. "Do you want a weapon?"
"I'm good," she says, leaning on the table. Skye wants to be Melinda when she grows up.
Coulson sighs again and pinches the bridge of his nose briefly. "Agent Ward, do you realize the damage you could cause--"
"Sir, all due respect, I think this is the only safe bet we've got--"
"--and the paperwork you will generate if you fire that thing--"
"--and frankly, I'll feel a lot safer--"
"--that it's alien technology, Agent Ward--"
"You have an alien gun?" Skye asks, eyes wide.
Just then Fitz makes a strangled sound in his throat, and they all look back at the screen to where the dinosaur has jumped into Lola. It barely fits inside, dwarfing the vehicle. Lola rocks just a little, and there's already a dent on her hood--and then there's the clear sound of ripping seat fabric through the speakers.
Skye holds her breath. Judging by how still everyone else suddenly is, they're doing the same thing. Even Melinda looks wary.
Coulson doesn't make a sound, but his nostrils flare and he's got a murderous look on his face. For the first time ever, Skye's scared of him.
"Take the gun," Coulson grits out.
Ward takes the gun.
"Well," Ward says with a sigh twenty minutes later, staring at the open hatch in the cargo bay. "That could have gone better."
Melinda glares at him.
"Seriously," Ward says. "That is one souped up dinosaur."
Skye swallows heavily. To her left side, Jemma is gripping the railing so hard her knuckles are white, as they stare in disbelief down at the cargo bay, now missing one dinosaur.
"Oh god," Fitz whispers from her right.
Skye places a hand on Jemma's and rubs her thumb carefully over one knuckle in what she hopes is a soothing gesture. "Breathe," she whispers.
"I'm fine," Jemma whispers back, though she's not entirely convincing. "I'm more worried about Fitz, honestly."
"Oh god," Fitz says again.
"It probably died, right?" Skye says, with a half-shrug and a gesture. "I mean, how high up are we? High enough it probably died."
Coulson steps through the door coming from the lounge area. He doesn't look angry anymore, at least, but Skye's not entirely certain the worried and stressed frown on his face is any better.
"Agent May, Agent Ward, get us on the ground, now," he orders.
"I'll contact HQ," Melinda says, but she continues glaring at Ward all the way up the spiral staircase. Ward's still staring at the open hatch.
"I'm--sorry about Lola," Skye offers carefully to Coulson.
"Lola's got an automatically activated emergency landing system," he says grimly, and Skye resists the temptation to stick a finger in her ear to see if she's got wax in it or something, because she can't possibly have heard that right.
"Lola," Coulson says gravely, "has an emergency landing system. She didn't crash."
Down in the cargo bay, Ward whirls around and stares wide-eyed up at them. He's still clutching Coulson's massive gun in both hands. "Wait, wait, wait! Sir, are you telling me the dinosaur escaped our plane in your flying car?"
Coulson gives Ward a dirty look. "Get yourself cleaned up," he says, instead of responding. "We're getting ready to land. And give me my gun back."
"Yessir," Ward says, looking ashamed as he trudges up the stairs and towards the lounge area. Skye feels a little bit bad for him; it's not like killing dinosaurs is something they teach at the SHIELD Academy. Probably.
"Sir, where is Lola now?" Jemma asks carefully.
The hatch begins to close with a rattling sound, and the Bus tilts as Melinda turns them sharply. "Lola will have landed at the nearest safe location," Coulson says, fingers pressing against his forehead in a clear bid to relieve some pain. "Safe location is just defined as outside of a certain radius of any building structures. So unless her guest jumped out while she was still airborne--"
"--there's a dinosaur loose somewhere down there," Jemma finishes. She doesn't sound as scared as Skye feels; more like in awe, maybe?
"Where is down there, exactly?" Skye asks. "Where the hell are we?"
Coulson looks like he wants to sink into the ground. "We've tracked her to Long Island."
This day keeps getting more and more surreal. "Long Island--New York?" Skye asks.
"More precisely, the Hamptons," Coulson says. They all stagger as the Bus hits a little bit of turbulence, and Skye's stomach tingles as they suddenly start dropping, clearly preparing for landing.
"Hold on to your butts," Coulson says, and walks back to the lounge.
"This isn't happening," Skye says, shaking her head. She wonders if she'll wake up soon, because this has got to be a dream, or the craziest hallucination ever.
"Oh god," Fitz says.
Agent Blake has beady, little eyes and a glare that makes him look like he's only barely tolerating your presence. Skye doesn't like him.
"Agent Coulson." Agent Blake sighs on the big screen. Melinda has set them down on a grass plain somewhere in Bridgehampton, and is now by the kitchen with Ward, finally helping herself to some of his arsenal. There's a lot of weapons out, and Skye's eyes keep drifting over in that direction, even though she's supposed to pay attention to Agent Blake.
"I take full responsibility," Coulson says immediately. Despite this, FitzSimmons both look chastised.
"You are aware I will have to contact the Director?" Agent Blake asks.
Coulson nods. "I'm aware."
"You're also aware of the fastest solution to this problem?"
Coulson winces. "Fastest? I don't know about that."
"Consider the property damage too, if you will? I think the Director will prefer a more subtle approach."
"The Director will prefer fewer casualties," Agent Blake says sternly, which is a low blow, Skye thinks. They all know Coulson can't argue against that.
Still, he sounds oddly reluctant when he says, "Whatever you think is best, Agent Blake."
Skye frowns, confused as to what's going on, when on the screen, Agent Blake picks up an advanced looking phone or walkie talkie or some form of communications device--the technophile in Skye starts salivating--and activates it. When he speaks, it's with a glare directly at the camera, and in a tone that says he's at least fifty thousand percent done with both Coulson and the entire team.
"Captain Rogers," Agent Blake says into the device.
Skye gasps; she can't help it. Next to her, FitzSimmons both twitch.
"If you could please assemble your team," Agent Blake continues. "There seems to be a dinosaur loose in Bridgehampton."
"The Heroes of New York," Skye whispers. "He's getting the Heroes of New York."
If Captain Rogers responds--that's freakin' Captain America! a voice in Skye's head informs her--Skye misses it completely, because the next thing she registers is Agent Blake glaring at them again. "If your team is capable of finding a way to track the beast, it would be much appreciated," he says in a manner that tells Skye it's not a suggestion, but that he also doesn't have much belief that they'll accomplish that task.
"Can't we just follow the trail of chaos?" she mutters under her breath.
Clearly, she needs to work on her under-her-breath muttering skills, because Agent Blake's beady, little eyes zero in on her immediately. "Do you think this is a joke, miss?" he asks.
Skye shakes her head, and resists the urge to flip him off. "No," she says, trying to sound sincere, because she knows there are lives at risk here--but come on, there's a fucking dinosaur on the loose. It's a little bit of a joke.
"I expect a full report as soon as this is over and dealt with," Agent Blake says, then disconnects the feed.
Coulson's shoulders slump a little as soon as the screen goes black.
"Well, looks like we're getting backup," he says, and sounds oddly disappointed by that fact.
"The Heroes of New York!" Skye squeals, a little louder than she intended, the excitement briefly overshadowing the surrealism of the situation.
Ward and Melinda's heads come up by the kitchen. "The Avengers?" Ward asks.
"That's not what they're called," Skye argues. "That's the lame code name you bozos call them, the people of New York call them--" She stops her often delivered rant when she realizes Ward, Melinda, and Coulson are all glaring at her. "I guess it could maybe grow on me?" she tries.
"Did you hack into all our files?" Coulson asks, but he doesn't wait for an answer before continuing. "The Avengers Initiative is a last resort option. I was hoping to wrap this up without their help." He sounds annoyed. Skye wonders if he's annoyed with her, or at the situation in general
"How is this not a last resort scenario?" Skye asks. "There's a dinosaur loose on Long Island!"
"...only one," Coulson says, a little too defensively, before turning to FitzSimmons. "Can you two track it?"
FitzSimmons do that thing where they look at each other and seem to communicate solely in gestures and half-formed sentences. Skye wants to find it annoying, because to everyone else present it just means they're missing big chunks of the conversation, but when Jemma smiles, happy and eager as she nods in understanding at whatever Fitz is saying, well. Skye finds it impossibly adorable.
"Well," Fitz says.
"We could always--" Jemma says, and Fitz nods.
"Right, right, with the--"
"It would probably be--"
Fitz claps his hands together and turns to Coulson. "Yes. Yes, we can, but uh. We'd need access to the algorithm created by Dr. Banner."
Coulson glares. "You two aren't even supposed to know about that."
Jemma smiles winningly. "But it's a good thing we do, now, isn't it?"
"Why?" Coulson asks.
"Oh," Fitz says.
"Oh," Jemma says, and then they're talking over each other.
"The thing is," Jemma says.
"--we may have maybe--"
"--we're scientists, we are interested in this sort of stuff--"
"--and we do learn from our mistakes, or in this case, other scientists' mistakes--"
"--but the presence of gamma radiation was totally not--"
"--anything that could be helped," Jemma finishes.
Coulson very carefully covers his face with his palm and makes a rumbly noise in his chest Skye's never heard him make. By the kitchen, Melinda arches an eyebrow.
"The dinosaur emits gamma radiation," Coulson says, and he's definitely annoyed now. The vein in his forehead is making a reappearance.
Skye's confused, and she only understood probably half of what FitzSimmons were talking about. "What's gamma radiation?" she asks.
"I'm surprised you didn't hack your way to that, too," Coulson says. The words are mostly without bite, but he doesn't wait for an answer, or explain further. Instead, he just walks away, which frankly strikes Skye as a little bit rude--dinosaur related stress or not.
"Where are you going?" she calls after him, confused, because they still have a dinosaur to track down, but Coulson just disappears up the staircase to his office. "The hell?" Skye asks into thin air, because that seems as likely to offer her an explanation as Coulson.
"Trust me, you don't want to know about gamma radiation," Melinda says as she passes, loaded up with weapons.
"Yeah, you're still a bit too green for that info," Ward adds, and then, for some reason, snickers a whole lot. Melinda punches him in the arm, but he's wearing kevlar and barely even flinches. Skye feels like she's missing something.
"It's a long story," Jemma says apologetically.
Skye pouts and tries not to feel left out. "Sorry if I wasn't around when all the interesting backstories and in-jokes formed," she grumbles.
"I'll fill you in on everything later," Jemma says, and smiles sweetly at her. "When we're not chasing down a genetically engineered, homegrown dinosaur?"
Skye blinks, momentarily stunned, because it's probably the nicest thing anyone's said to her since she came on board the Bus. "Uh, yeah. That'd--that'd be great."
"Come on," Jemma says, nodding her head. "You're probably better at the computer bit than we are."
And that, at least, is something Skye can do.
So, Skye may not fully understand this gamma radiation thing, or all the science babble FitzSimmons are lobbing at her head--big ten dollar words that she can only react to by smiling and nodding--but she does understand computers. Dr. Banner's tracking algorithm is a thing of beauty, and according to Jemma, this search is a lot easier than the last time SHIELD had to do it, since they already know the dinosaur is on Long Island, somewhere in the Hamptons.
She doesn't elaborate on when SHIELD last had to use the algorithm, and Skye doesn't ask, but only because Jemma said she'd explain later, and Skye trusts Jemma.
"So, it's like a slightly radioactive dinosaur?" Skye asks, fiddling with the little handheld tablet to get the signal reception forwarded to it. (Seriously, she loves that little tablet thing. SHIELD has the coolest freakin' toys, she can't wait to get her hands on them without her little leash around her wrist.)
"No," Fitz says, sounding frustrated and definitely looking like he's about to go into the full explanation of how gamma radiation actually works all over again.
"Yes," Jemma says firmly, nodding encouragingly at Skye. "Sort of like that."
"And this is our geiger counter," Skye says, waving the tablet. "It should be all ready to go now."
Melinda and Ward, who are hanging out by the dented SUV, straighten up at Skye's words. "Hand it over," Ward orders.
"Well, when you ask so nicely," Skye says, walking over with FitzSimmons in tow, and handing him the tablet--even though she really just wants to hold it out of his reach.
The door upstairs slides open, and Coulson walks out. Skye stares and resists the urge to rub her eyes. She doesn't realize her jaw has dropped until Coulson's already at the bottom of the staircase, a look on his face that is all business.
"Agent Ward, my gun, please."
Ward doesn't respond; he just gapes as he hands over the big-ass (possibly alien) gun to Coulson. "Thank you, Agent Ward. Ready to move out?"
Melinda, who seems completely unaffected by the sight before them, nods. "We're ready. I've already got a tap on local authorities; there's distress calls coming from all over the place."
"You got the tracking working?" Coulson asks Skye.
Skye nods dumbly and gestures to the tablet Ward's holding.
Coulson nods and says, "Good. You three will stay with the Bus. Stay on the comms, and keep tracking from this end as well. Do not leave this Bus under any circumstances, okay? If local authorities come knocking, get them in touch with HQ."
Skye wants to respond to Coulson's orders, she does, but honestly, all she gets out is a stammered, "Lookin' good, boss!"
"Going somewhere, sir?" Jemma asks from behind Skye, and judging from her tone, she's as shocked--but impressed--as Skye.
Skye stares some more. Coulson turns around, and his field suit clings admirably to his (wow, rockin') body as his fingers tighten around his gun.
"I," Coulson says grimly, "am going to get Lola."
In her defense, Skye lasts a lot longer than normal. She makes it a full twenty minutes before she gets tired of watching the little bleeps on the screen. Huffing in frustration, she grabs her own tablet and her jacket, and heads down the ramp.
"Whoa, hey, wait, where are you going?" Fitz asks, rushing after her.
"I'm going to find a dinosaur," Skye says.
Fitz looks at her like she's gone crazy. And maybe she has, but there's a dinosaur apparently heading for the beach, according to the emergency reports and the tracker. Skye thinks she's allowed to let her sanity slip a little.
"And do what?" Fitz asks. "Hack a computer at it?"
"I don't know," Skye says, frustrated, "but I can't just sit here while Coulson and Melinda and Ward are out there, okay? I could warn people, help get them to safety. Plus, maybe they need help with the tracking, I don't know."
"I really think we ought to stay here," Jemma says, arriving at Fitz's side, like always.
For a moment, hurt blossoms in Skye's gut, because part of her had hoped--part of her always hopes--that Jemma might have her back. For a moment Skye considers doing what Fitz and Jemma are suggesting, and staying on the Bus. Following the rules, maintaining order, the whole nine yards (while at the same time conveniently staying close to Jemma).
But then Skye remembers that Jemma likes following the rules, and Skye was born to break them.
"I'm going out there," Skye says, absolutely not thinking about stroking her fingers over Jemma's knuckles, "and there's nothing you can do to stop me."
Skye finds Coulson first.
Lola's sitting in a parking lot a couple of miles away from the plane, looking a little worse for wear, but not the wreck Skye feared. Coulson's standing with his gun slung over his back, hunched over Lola's popped hood, and fiddling with what appears to be a digital display in her engine.
"Is she gonna be okay?" Skye asks as she approaches.
"What did I say about staying on the Bus?" he asks crankily, even though he doesn't seem surprised to see her in the least.
"I don't recall," Skye says, with a vague gesture of her free hand, clutching the tablet closer to herself with the other. "I'm sure it wasn't important anyway. How's Lola doing?"
Coulson doesn't look happy with her, but he also doesn't scold her further. "She'll be fine," he says, and sounds undeniably relieved about that fact. "She'll need to have some serious work done, though. We need to get her out of here. I don't know how much that thing weighs, but I think Lola had trouble carrying it. Her landing was rough enough to damage her flight repulsors."
"Maybe Tony Stark can fix them," Skye suggests, for completely altruistic reasons. Completely. "You know him, right? And if the Heroes of New York--"
Coulson shoots her a look.
"--fine, the Avengers," Skye says, and wonders why Coulson is so attached to the damn code name. "If the Avengers are coming here, you could ask him, right?"
"Maybe," Coulson says, but there's something in his voice that makes Skye frown. It's--wary, and a little defensive, just like back on the plane. Almost as if--
"Why don't you want to see the Avengers?" Skye asks.
Coulson doesn't answer her, just closes Lola's hood and goes to push some buttons on her dashboard. Frowning, he looks at the ripped upholstery. "Gonna need to replace all of that."
"Coulson," Skye says quietly, because something isn't right. Something is making Coulson unhappy (besides poor Lola), and she wants to know what it is.
He stops what he's doing, and finally looks at her. Between the way his forehead wrinkles when he's frowning, and the suit, Coulson looks very angry, but now his expression smoothes out, almost as if whatever he's feeling just drains right out of him.
"I know the Avengers," he says, and Skye nods. That's not new information to her.
"I--knew the Avengers," Coulson corrects himself.
It takes Skye a few seconds to make the connection, but when she does, she gasps out loud and smacks Coulson's arm before she can help herself. Her hand bounces uselessly off whatever crazy material Coulson's field suit is made of, but she hopes it hurt a little, anyway.
"You haven't told them?" she hisses.
"It's a clearance level issue," Coulson says defensively, which is all kinds of bullshit since Skye sees and hears things she knows she's not cleared for all the time--and not just stuff she's hacked her way to, either!
"Look," Coulson says, "It's complicated, all right? Now will you help me push Lola back to the Bus? I don't even think I can drive her."
"Don't change the subject!" Skye insists, pausing only briefly in her outrage to enjoy the way Coulson practically squirms before her. The shoe's on the other foot now, and she finds that she likes it. If he wasn't wearing the field suit, and if she didn't value the tablet so much, she would absolutely and definitely use it to knock some sense into him. "They're your friends and you haven't told them that you're still alive?"
"I'm not sure I'd go as far as to say friends," Coulson says.
"Really, what are we, chopped liver?" a voice says from behind them, and Skye and Coulson both whirl around to find Iron Man and Captain America staring at them. They've both got their arms crossed, and they're in full uniform, Captain America's shield front and center. It makes for quite an intimidating (and hot! oh god, so hot!) picture, and Skye's mouth runs dry.
"I'd like an explanation," Captain America says, stepping forward. He's wearing a blue, padded uniform with a white star on his chest, and his eyes are super intense, even under the heavy cowl.
"Yeah," Iron Man echoes. Skye wants to snap out of her stupor and take in every tiny, little detail about the armor, red and gold in the afternoon sun, but she's honestly too star-struck to manage.
"Iron Man," she breathes.
"Who's your groupie, Phil?" Iron Man asks, voice slightly distorted from inside the suit.
"I can explain," Coulson says.
"He gets to call you Phil?" Skye asks in a stage whisper, which makes Coulson give her an absolutely scathing look.
"Was it your idea?" Iron Man asks angrily. "Or was it Fury's?"
"Yeah, I'd really like to know where to direct my anger," Captain America shoots in.
"Gentlemen, I can explain everything, I assure you," Coulson says, and he's going for his bland agent routine, Skye can tell, but it fails miserably; his voice is too shaky and his face is betraying far too much emotion. Regret, embarrassment, desperation... It's probably the first time Skye's seen Coulson really fail at anything.
"Why don't you start with how you're standing right here in front of us?" Captain America asks.
"JARVIS confirms he's human," Iron Man says to Captain America. "Clone?"
"I'm not a clone," Coulson bites out. "Stark, Captain Rogers, there's a dinosaur on the loose--"
"LMD?" Captain America asks, which makes Skye frown, because the existence of Life Model Decoys is impossible--those are just a rumor, right?
"Those are just a rumor," Iron Man says dismissively, echoing her thoughts. "Clones, on the other hand--"
"I'm not a clone!" Coulson insists again. "Now will you please go rescue the beach vacationers from the dinosaur, and I promise we'll talk later?"
"Oh." A breathy gasp comes from nearby, and Skye hadn't even realized Jemma was right there until she spoke.
"Jemma! What are you doing here?"
"More groupies?" Iron Man asks, sounding terribly confused.
"Does nobody listen to me when I tell them to stay on the Bus?" Coulson asks the sky.
"You have a bus?" Captain America asks. He sounds adorably confused, and Skye kind of doesn't want to miss that, but she also can't take her eyes off Jemma, who's looking pretty scared right about now.
"Jemma, what's wrong?"
"I came to warn you," Jemma says, pointing past Iron Man and Captain America, "that your tablet isn't receiving the signal properly."
Everyone turns to look where she's pointing. In the tree line behind Iron Man and Captain America, stands the dinosaur, ready to pounce.
In Skye's hand, the tablet is blinking uselessly up at her, telling her no signal found.
"Crap," Skye whines.
"Holy fucking god, that is a dinosaur," Iron Man says, and then everything happens all at once.
The dinosaur comes running towards them at an alarming speed, Iron Man takes off with a whine of his repulsors, Captain America drops into a battle stance, and Coulson slings the big-ass gun around from his back to hold it steady and aim it.
Skye, for her part, grabs Jemma's hand on instinct--and then promptly panics, because where the fuck are they going to go?
But before anyone has the chance to really do anything, something flies through the air (an arrow?) and hits the dinosaur, and then just sort of--unfolds. It's like watching a parachute open, except it's not a parachute at all.
The dinosaur makes a ridiculous sound that is absolutely nothing like any of the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park, and stumbles and falls. The heavy net that seems to have erupted from the arrow, tightens and holds.
Everyone freezes, and Iron Man slowly lowers back to the ground.
"Figures," he says. "Way to steal our thunder. I thought I was gonna get to fight a dinosaur."
A man drops out of seemingly nowhere, and Skye has to look up to see where he came from. (It doesn't provide her with any answers; there's nothing above them.) When she gets a good look at him though, it's obvious who he is. (The bow gives it away.)
"What the actual fuck?" says Hawkeye angrily, gesturing towards Coulson.
"Yeah," Iron Man agrees, in a Welcome to my confused existence tone.
"What the actual fuck?!" Hawkeye says again, gesturing towards the dinosaur, who looks super unhappy about being caught in a net.
"Yeah," Iron Man agrees again.
"I can explain," Coulson says.
"You better fucking explain, Phil, because what the actual fuck?"
"He seems stuck in a rut," Skye says in a stage whisper to Jemma, who clutches at Skye's arm. Skye pretends she doesn't secretly love it. "Do you think they all call him Phil?"
"I don't know," Jemma says. "Do you think we'll get to examine it?"
The dinosaur is making really angry sounds, flailing in the net. Skye barely refrains from flailing a little, herself. "Jeez, you've got a one-track mind," she tells Jemma.
"Do you think I can examine that?" Iron Man asks, gesturing at the dinosaur, and Jemma makes a See? face at Skye.
"I was going to tell you," Coulson says to Hawkeye, who looks absolutely furious.
"I can't fucking believe you," Hawkeye says back, and sounds disgusted.
"Clint, please," Coulson says in a tone that's--is he begging?
Something that looks suspiciously like tears wells up in Hawkeye's eyes, and he covers it by sliding on a pair of purple tinted sunglasses. Captain America and Iron Man turn their backs and start talking about the dinosaur, and Skye definitely understands that. She suddenly feels like she's walked in on a lover's quarrel, so she jerks her head sideways.
"Hey, uh, Jemma, wanna help me with this?" she asks, holding up the tablet.
Jemma, clearly feeling the same discomfort as Skye, nods quickly, and they walk a few steps away--in the opposite direction of the dinosaur, of course--to give Coulson and the Avengers some time to talk. It wouldn't be a bad idea to fix the tablet anyway. Sure, they have the dinosaur now, but still. It's the principle of the thing.
"I think maybe the frequency is wrong," Skye says. "Do you remember what the screen on the Bus said?"
"I'm glad you're okay," Jemma says, instead of answering Skye, and Skye's head snaps up.
Jemma's looking at her with big eyes and a warm smile, and Skye's lips twitch. "You were worried about me?"
"Of course I was worried about you," Jemma says, a faint blush appearing high on her cheeks. "I mean--a dinosaur, that's..." She takes a few deep breaths. "I made that."
"Yeah, you did," Skye says proudly, but then realizes that for the first time, Jemma doesn't look happy about that fact.
"I made that," Jemma says again. "And if you'd got hurt because of me--"
"Hey, no," Skye says quickly. "That's not your fault. If anything, it's Ward's fault for letting it get away," she says teasingly, although she doesn't really blame Ward either.
Just then, there's something that can only be described as a roar, and the one-two rip-twang sound of Hawkeye's netting coming apart. Everyone present turns at once to see the dinosaur climb to its feet and bare its teeth at them.
"What the hell, that net holds the Hulk!" Captain America says.
"This conversation isn't over!" Hawkeye yells at Coulson, as Coulson raises the big-ass gun and fires.
The sound is deafening, and Skye's hands automatically come up to cover her ears. The dinosaur dodges the shot, and then it's sprinting towards them.
"Run!" Coulson orders Jemma and Skye, who don't have to be told twice. They turn and haul ass across the parking lot, and Skye has no clue where they're going, but she sure as fuck doesn't want to stick around anymore.
"Holy shit," Skye pants when they're a ways off, hiding in a small cluster of trees. "What the hell, how strong is that thing?"
It's not a big wince, but it's enough to make Skye deeply suspicious, and she puts a hand on Jemma's shoulder. "What was that?"
Jemma puts on her best innocent face. "What was what?"
Skye narrows her eyes, because Jemma is the worst liar she's ever known, and even Jemma's most innocent face is not nearly as innocent as she thinks it is. "That face. What do you know?"
Jemma's lips press together. "Um," she says. "There's a possibility that the dinosaur may have some of..." and then the rest of the sentence is almost lost in a terribly English-sounding mumble, but Skye still gets the gist of it.
"Are you serious right now?"
"In our defense, we didn't know this would happen!" Jemma says.
"The dinosaur has some of Mike Peterson's DNA?"
"Only a tiny, tiny bit of it!" Jemma says, like that's the best news ever.
"Jemma!" Skye says, and her arms do a little flailing thing all of their own accord. "You made an Extremis super soldier dinosaur!" And isn't that a sentence she never thought she'd say in her entire life?
"Only one," Jemma says defensively. Skye wonders if she learned that from Coulson.
"What the hell, Jemma, why wouldn't you tell us that sooner?"
"I didn't actually realize until just now," she says, and sounds really distressed. Her eyes go all soft and her eyebrows knit together, and Skye immediately feels bad. "We only used some of the molecules and we didn't actually think they'd react like this!"
"Is he gonna blow up?" Skye wonders.
"I don't know," Jemma says.
"We have to find out where they are so we can warn them!" Skye leans against a tree trunk and starts fiddling with her tablet. Finding the right frequency shouldn't take her long, but it's still annoying. She has no clue what's going on; they can't hear any repulsor blasts or the sound of Coulson's gun, and for all she knows the super soldier dinosaur could've--
Nope. She's not going down that road. Skye swallows and fights against the rising hysteria, because what the fuck even is her life?
"If he's going to blow up, it probably won't happen for a while," Jemma says, while Skye fiddles with her tablet. "Dinosaurs, while technically not classified as mammals, were warm-blooded like mammals, which should mean that due to his size, whatever traces of Extremis he's got moving around in his body will take longer to build up. Not to mention, he doesn't have near as much of the serum in him as Mike Peterson did."
"Yeah, yeah, that's good," Skye says distractedly, and then they both jump as something that sounds like an explosion goes off a little closer than Skye's comfortable with. At least it sounded like Coulson's gun.
The tablet beeps at her, then. The little triangle indicating that the gamma signature from the dinosaur has been located, lights up maybe a hundred yards back from where they came, and Skye pumps her fist triumphantly in the air. "Yes! Got it," she says. "Okay, gotta find the comm link to Coulson."
"Skye," Jemma says, stepping closer to peer down at the screen. "What's that?"
Following Jemma's finger, Skye sees what she's pointing at near the edge of the screen, and she sucks in a sharp breath. Next to her, Jemma does the same thing.
The triangle indicating a second gamma radiation signature is big. Really big. Skye exchanges a look with Jemma, and they move as one, walking, against their better judgment, out from among the trees and back towards the dinosaur to see what's happening.
They hear it before they see it: a roar that's nothing like the dinosaur's. Then he comes leaping across the tree tops.
The Hulk isn't as big as Skye thought he'd be in person, but he's--definitely big. Both his fists slam into the asphalt and the dinosaur, engaged in battle with Captain America himself, whips around and bares its teeth. A small, black-clad woman--Black Widow, Skye realizes--slides off Hulk's shoulders, and then freakin' somersaults her way towards the dinosaur, which suddenly finds itself surrounded on multiple sides.
"Don't kill him!" Jemma calls, because Jemma is apparently crazy, but it's a moot point anyway because they're too far away. "Come on," Jemma says, and grabs Skye's hand. "We've got to warn them!"
"We do?" Skye says, even though that was totally what they were doing, because all she can think about right at that moment is how warm Jemma's hand feels in hers. Then she's getting, for some reason, dragged along towards the scary super soldier dinosaur.
"Coulson!" Jemma shouts, and Coulson turns towards them, big-ass gun still aimed at the dinosaur.
"Get out of here!"
"Extremis!" Skye shouts, "It's got Extremis! The dinosaur has Extremis!"
Iron Man, who's been circling in the skies above to get a good shot, comes to what would probably have been a screeching halt, had he been able to screech. His voice is projected via loudspeaker. "Are you fucking kidding me right now?" he asks, and then has to dodge as the dinosaur makes an actual leap, straight up, jaws snapping dangerously close to him.
"HULK SMASH!" Hulk roars, lunging after the dinosaur and missing. Black Widow does some crazy gymnastic move that lands her on top of the dinosaur, and there's a spark of electricity when she jabs her hands against the dinosaur's neck. It doesn't seem to have much of an effect on it. Skye and Jemma stop a respectable distance away.
"Get away from it!" Coulson orders Black Widow, who briefly pauses before obeying, sliding away and out of reach of both teeth and talons in what looks like an effortless manner.
"How do we do this?" Iron Man asks, and Captain America straightens--considers, Skye thinks. The dinosaur is still dodging the Hulk's big fists, snapping at him and making angry growling sounds, and Hulk is starting to look very frustrated.
Just then, there's a rumble so loud it deafens everything else, and an absolutely blinding flash, and then a sparkling pillar of light descends in the middle of the Avengers.
Next to Skye, Jemma squeaks and presses up against her, hiding her face in the crook of Skye's neck, and Skye's heart may or may not shoot into her throat. For a moment, she can't see anything but light--and then the pillar disappears. One ornamented boot rests on the dinosaur, now lying on the ground, seemingly unconscious.
"Friends! Heimdall informed me of your combat, and I've come to your aid. I apologize for my late arrival."
Thor's voice isn't as deep as Skye thought it would be, but it's so very warm. When he speaks, you can hear the happiness, the kindness, even in the regal way he intones everything. Skye nudges Jemma, who slowly turns to look, though she doesn't move out of the circle of Skye's arms.
"Oh," Jemma breathes, as she takes in Thor's proud stance, the hammer held high above his head, the bulging muscles of his arms...
"Yeah," Skye agrees, mostly just distracted by her own adrenaline and by how good Jemma's hair smells.
"Now that's stealing your thunder, Stark," Hawkeye says, once again dropping out of what appears to be thin air.
"Meh, whatever," Iron Man says, waving a gloved hand dismissively as he lands next to Coulson. "I got to fight a dinosaur. It's all good."
"Is it dead?" Jemma asks anxiously, jogging closer, which means Skye also jogs closer since Jemma still has Skye's hand clenched tightly in her own.
"It's not dead," Captain America says, when they reach the Avengers, and it makes Jemma sigh in relief.
"Oh good," she says, and then either seems to realize that maybe that's not so good, or perhaps that Captain America is talking to her, because the smile drops off her face and she literally wobbles on her feet.
"At least there wasn't much property damage this time," Coulson says.
"This creature amuses me," Thor says, looking down at where his boot is still on top of the dinosaur, like a hunter posing with his kill. "May I keep it?"
"No," Coulson says at the same time that Iron Man says, enthusiastically, "Yes!"
"Mr. Stark, that thing is an extinct, genetically manipulated creation, not a pet."
"Takes one to know one?" Iron Man shoots back. The words have a slight edge to them, but when the faceplate flips up to reveal Tony Stark's face, he doesn't look angry. Instead he's wearing a lopsided grin as he winks at Coulson.
"That's not what happened," Coulson says.
"Then what did happen?" Captain America asks.
"We're all very eager to hear your explanation for this," Black Widow says, and she looks threatening. Skye's eyes are drawn to Black Widow's wrists, where thick bracelets glow a faint electric blue, and Coulson rubs his temples as all the Avengers seem to advance on him. Skye gulps and holds Jemma a little tighter to her. She wonders if they need to fight the Avengers now, because the dinosaur wasn't scary at all compared to that concept.
"Phil," Hawkeye says, quietly. He doesn't sound angry, just sad now.
"Clint, can we talk?" Coulson asks, in a voice Skye's never heard before.
Whatever Hawkeye has to say to that gets drowned out by the roar of engines as a small, jet-like aircraft appears, landing on the road next to the parking lot. Jemma squeaks again when the ramp lowers, and a big man wearing a leather coat and an eye patch walks out and approaches them with a firm step.
"Oh my god," Jemma whispers against Skye's skin, "oh my god, if he takes me, I want you to know, I just, there are things I haven't told you--"
"What?' Skye asks, confused. "Takes you? Takes you where?"
Coulson nods at the man with the eye patch, and Captain America salutes. "Director Fury," he says.
Skye's started to come down from her adrenaline rush, but her heart still skips a beat at that. "Director Fury?" she whispers.
"He's gonna lock me up forever," Jemma babbles, "he's going to lock us up and throw away the key, he's going to--he's going to dump us down a hole, and oh god, poor Fitz, I mean, you don't just randomly create dinosaurs without consequences, we knew that, but it wasn't like we thought we'd actually succeed--"
"God fucking dammit," Director Fury says, having finally reached them and gotten a good look at the dinosaur under Thor's foot. "Another one?!"
Skye blinks. The Avengers appear speechless. Coulson hangs the gun across his back and rubs his neck ruefully.
"Didn't I tell you this would happen, Coulson?" Fury says, turning to glare angrily at Coulson. "You put two scientists of this caliber together, and sooner or later, this happens. This always happens."
Jemma, still clinging to Skye, carefully turns her head. "What?" she asks. It's not very loud, but it's loud enough to draw Fury's attention.
"Dr. Simmons," he says grumly. "In the future, I'd appreciate it if you and your scientific other half would refrain from creating more of these."
Jemma nods dumbly. "Um. Of course. Sir."
"Same procedure as for all the others?" Coulson asks.
"Others?" Stark asks, which is a relief for Skye, because it means she doesn't have to. Stark throws his hands in the air and then the armor just seems to--part--to let him out. Skye blinks, as suddenly Iron Man is just a kind of short dude with a goatee, who looks very little like the glossy magazine covers of Tony Stark that Skye has seen.
"Okay," Stark says, "someone explain to me what the hell is going on, because I am lost. I am so lost."
Fury takes in the crowd around him, and for a moment looks like he's not going to answer.
Hulk snarls and bares his teeth--just a little.
"It's an inevitability," Fury says, heaving a sigh, "that when you put two of the brightest minds on the planet together, in a situation that won't always offer them intellectual stimulation, sooner or later they will get bored. And when brilliant scientists get bored, they tend to... create things."
Skye feels her jaw drop, but she can't do anything to prevent it. Dumb, she thinks, because her jaw has dropped enough today; she should have had plenty of practice in stopping it. "Are you saying," she asks, "that this is not the first time someone's created a dinosaur?"
Fury grins a little. "Well. It's the first one powered by a modified strain of the super soldier serum," he says helpfully.
"Sir," Captain America says, stepping forward with a firmly set jaw, "this is the kind of thing I would hope I'd be informed about."
Fury gives him a distinctly unimpressed look. "I'm informing you now, Captain."
Skye doesn't know whether to be intimidated, or impressed that anyone would speak to Captain America like that.
Stark walks to Thor and bends down to get a closer look at the dinosaur. "All right, so you round up the dinosaurs created by bored scientists and what, take 'em to the dino-vet? Or do you just take them out back and shoot them?"
"We have a containment facility," Fury says.
"A containment facility?" Thor perks up. "Might you take me there, so that I may play with these amusing creatures?"
Skye wants to sink into the ground. "Oh my god, this really is Jurassic Park."
"This is not Jurassic Park," Ward hisses into her ear, and Skye jumps about a mile, not having realized he'd even arrived. Jemma also twitches in Skye's arms, and Ward gives them a look. "Get a room," he says, frowning.
"Whatever," Skye shoots back, while absolutely not blushing. "You're just jealous the Avengers beat you to taking down the dinosaur."
"Or maybe we let them," Melinda says, having magically appeared on the other side of Skye.
"Jesus fuck," Skye says, "I'm gonna put bells on both of you!"
"Jumpy," Ward remarks with a smirk.
"Pardon me for being jumpy after spending the day chasing a dinosaur," Skye snaps back and uses the reminder as an excuse to hug Jemma tighter.
Over by the dinosaur, Fury is speaking into a radio, saying, "Operation Savage Land is a go." Then he turns to the Hulk. "If you wouldn't mind?"
"Hulk not a pack mule," Hulk complains, but he still obliges. Thor moves out of the way, and Hulk picks up the dinosaur and follows Fury to the little jet, where he deposits it in the back. Multiple people in white jumpsuits immediately descend on it and start giving it injections.
"That should keep it under until we can get it to our containment facility," Fury says.
"But," Jemma says helplessly from Skye's arms.
"Research," Stark whines, clearly echoing her sentiment.
"Explanation," Hawkeye says sternly, and he's taken off his sunglasses again so he can glare properly at Coulson, who pales.
"Debriefing," Fury says as he walks back to the group, pointing a finger at Jemma.
"Can I come with?" Skye asks Fury, before she can think too hard about it.
Jemma turns her head to look directly into Skye's eyes, and Skye suddenly realizes how ridiculously close their faces are. "Really?" Jemma asks. Her lips look very soft.
"Gotta make sure you're not thrown in any holes," Skye says, with a smile that she hopes looks more confident than she feels.
"Jeez," Ward mumbles, and Skye would give him a dirty look except she doesn't really want to take her eyes off Jemma right now.
"Damn right you're coming with," Fury says. "You and your whole ragtag team."
"Me too?" Coulson asks, even though his eyes never leave Hawkeye, and Hawkeye is staring back at him with a really sad look. Skye's impressed, because if he isn't now, Coulson was definitely hitting that at some point in time. Go, Coulson, she thinks.
"I can take care of Coulson's debriefing," Black Widow says, though the tone suggests it's not entirely a friendly offer.
Fury looks from Coulson to Hawkeye and back again, before rolling his eyes. "I can see that you have--other priorities at the moment. I expect your full report later, and don't think the dinosaur means you get to skip out on the paperwork for firing that thing in public," Fury says, nodding at the big gun still slung over Coulson's back.
Coulson doesn't even flinch, and there's a vague hint of a smile forming on his face. "Whatever you say, Director Fury."
For some reason, Coulson's faint grin is making Hawkeye grin, too; everyone else is starting to look slightly confused again.
"Nice field suit," Hawkeye comments, and there's possibly an in-joke there somewhere. That possibility goes way up when in the background, Black Widow's stern face cracks and she starts snickering.
"I feel like I'm missing something," Captain America says.
"Hulk wanted smash," Hulk says sadly, lumbering back to them from the jet. "No smash. Sad hulk."
"Come on buddy," Stark says, stepping back into his suit. "We can go beat up some stuff on the training course if you want."
"Right," Fury says, apparently satisfied enough to leave the Avengers to their own devices. "You four, come with me."
"Want to help me get Lola back to the Bus?" Coulson asks Hawkeye, which for some reason makes Hawkeye chuckle.
Jemma untangles herself from Skye's arms, and they fall into step with May and Ward, trailing behind Director Fury. Skye's arm bumps into Jemma's a few times, and then Jemma's fingers find hers and Skye glances sideways at her as they link hands again.
Something warm grows in the pit of Skye's stomach, and she smiles tentatively at Jemma. Jemma smiles back.
"No," Ward says firmly, and plants both feet stubbornly on the asphalt. "Sir, with all due respect, I am not riding with the dinosaur."
The debrief takes place in The Basement, an underground base of operations in Manhattan that intimidates Skye more than she's comfortable with. Big Brother is still terrifyingly big, and apparently also deep underground. Jemma keeps on holding her hand through their descent and through the long hallways, and that helps a lot.
The meeting itself is long and annoying. Agents have retrieved Fitz from the Bus, and he spends the entire meeting looking like he wants nothing more than to literally cling to Jemma and cry. They go over everything they did in excruciating detail. A team has also retrieved their research notes from the Bus, and they have to go over every page, every scribble, every diagram, while Fury scowls and other SHIELD scientists nod and say incredibly helpful things like, "Hmm," and "Is that so?" and difficult science words that just sound like more trumpet noises to Skye's ears.
Someone took Skye's tablet, too, so she can't even play with it as the debriefing goes on. By the time they finally start asking her about the gamma radiation tracking algorithm, she's nearly asleep, but she perks up when they ask her about the signal she'd forwarded to the tablets. Underneath the table, Jemma's hand briefly finds hers again and offers her a reassuring squeeze, and after that Skye gets a new boost of energy.
In the end, FitzSimmons both get reprimanded, they lose access to their vita ray machine, despite Fitz's best arguments for why they might need it ("and it's not even real vita rays, nobody has been able to replicate the technology used by Dr. Esrkine and Howard Stark, anyway!"), but they get off with barely more than a slap on the wrist. In Skye's book, that's a good thing.
By the time everything's wrapped up and they're headed back to the surface level--thank god, Skye was a little worried they'd just keep them locked away forever--it's past two in the morning and they're all exhausted. Even Melinda looks like she's wilting a little, where she's leaning on the wall in the elevator, eyelids drooping.
"I'm gonna sleep for a week," Skye says.
"Hotel?" Ward asks, though it's not clear if he's talking to anyone in particular or to the elevator at large.
"Hotel," Fitz agrees.
"I live in New York," Melinda says. "I'm gonna go home."
"I need to get my stuff from the Bus," Jemma says, which seems kind of illogical and pointless, but whatever.
Skye's still debating what to do, who to follow, when the elevator doors open. She's considering following Ward and Fitz straight to the nearest hotel, but when Jemma pauses and lets everyone else exit, Skye finds herself waiting as well. When they're the only ones left in the elevator, Jemma holds out her hand to Skye. "I thought maybe--we could stay on the Bus?"
Skye feels a smile spread across her face as she takes Jemma's offered hand.
Well. That settles that, then.
They hitch a ride back on one of the little jets--apparently called a Quinjet--which drops them off just down the road from the Bus. As they walk into the field where the Bus sits, Jemma's hand finds Skye's again, and suddenly Skye feels scared to meet Jemma's eyes. Still, Skye's spent the day chasing after a dinosaur, she figures she's not backing down from this, not now. They come to a stop together, a few feet away from the Bus, bodies in perfect sync with each other.
Skye strokes a thumb up Jemma's wrist and finally looks at her. It's hard to make out everything clearly in the darkness, but she can see Jemma's smile and Jemma's eyes, and they're standing close enough that she can feel the way Jemma trembles slightly.
"You made a dinosaur," Skye says, because it's the most surreal thing ever.
"Technically, Fitz and I did," Jemma says.
Skye doesn't really want to hear about Fitz, or anyone else for that matter, right now. Clearly, she has no choice but to lean forward and kiss Jemma, so she won't talk anymore.
It's a good choice, Skye thinks, especially when Jemma's lips part for her and she kisses Skye back. Pressing closer, heartbeat thundering in her ears, Skye puts a hand on Jemma's waist and uses it to tug her against Skye's body. Jemma doesn't seem to mind; she just deepens the kiss, and Skye is completely onboard with that.
One of them makes a happy sigh, but Skye is damned if she can tell which one of them it is, because her head is full of Jemma: Jemma's lips and hair and eyes and the way she steals Skye's breath away when her tongue strokes tentatively into Skye's mouth.
Skye has plans for that tongue.
"Oh good," Jemma says, and she sounds quietly pleased, when they part for air. "I wasn't sure we were on the same page."
Skye laughs. "No, yeah. Definitely the same page. It's a good page to be on. Let's never leave this page."
She kisses Jemma again, and this time she runs one hand around to press against the small of Jemma's back, before slipping underneath her blouse and stroking over the skin there. Jemma shivers in her arms, and Skye is momentarily blindsided by all the potential ways she can make Jemma shiver against her.
When next they break apart, Jemma laughs and leans their foreheads together, before there's a sudden, sharp intake of breath and she looks towards the Bus. "You know," she says, and sounds devilish. "We have the Bus all to ourselves."
Skye is completely unashamed to admit that despite all the running they've done that day, they both sprint to the Bus. They can't enter via the ramp, so they end up pulling down the ladder to unlock the side hatch, and then giggle like children as they--there's no other word for it--scamper upstairs.
The second they burst into the common area however, rounding the kitchen counter at full speed to get to their bunks, they both stop and nearly crash into each other in their haste to backtrack.
It's hard to say who's more mortified, the two naked men currently having sex on the little lounge table, or Jemma, who is slightly ahead of Skye and probably sees more of Coulson's ass than she could ever want to see.
"Eep!" Jemma says, and slaps both hands over her eyes.
"Oh my god!" Skye shrieks and does the same.
"Get out!" Coulson shouts, over Hawkeye's belly laugh.
Skye can't help it; she starts laughing too, and she's still laughing when Jemma says, "We're so sorry sir, sorry, we really thought nobody was around, we didn't mean to--"
"Leave, right now!" Coulson says, and his voice is incredibly strained.
Skye peeks through her fingers in order to see where she's going, finds Jemma's hand to lead her along. "Sorry, boss," she calls out cheerfully.
"See you tomorrow," Jemma says, sounding terribly embarrassed.
"See less of you tomorrow," Skye says, which sets Hawkeye off laughing again, and then she leads Jemma back into the staircase, the door sliding shut behind them.
"Wow," Jemma says, leaning against the wall. Her face is beet red, and it's really ridiculously cute.
"Mhm," Skye says. "Coulson's fucking an Avenger."
This is officially the craziest day ever.
"Where are we supposed to sleep now?" Jemma asks, and looks a little forlorn.
"Come on," Skye says, tugging on her hand, relieved that she actually spends a fair bit of time hiding out in the Bus's storage area. Skye leads Jemma in among the crates and shelves, and finds everything they need; sleeping bags, blankets and pillows get piled into a corner, and in no time, they've got a little nest set up, with an electric camping lantern providing a cozy glow.
"Tadaa," Skye says happily.
Jemma leans her head on Skye's shoulder. "Is it wrong that I'm not even sure I have the energy to do anything?" she asks, sounding very sleepy.
Skye smiles fondly and kisses the top of Jemma's head, because although she wants--oh god, does she ever want--she can feel the last traces of adrenaline leave her body, and she totally gets where Jemma is coming from.
"Nah," she says, "let's just lie down and get some rest. We've got all the time in the world ahead of us."
They crawl underneath the blankets and sleeping bags, and after a little bit of shifting around and figuring out how to coordinate their bodies, Jemma ends up with her head resting on Skye's shoulder, one arm slung over Skye's waist and the other tucked between them. Skye kisses the top of Jemma's head again, and curls her fingers around Jemma's arm.
Skye's body is starting to make its various aches and pains known, and as she starts drifting off, Skye dimly thinks that the next time they chase a dinosaur around Long Island, she's going to wear more comfortable boots.
She's almost asleep, when Jemma's voice reaches her, slurred with sleep but still amused.
"Did you see Coulson's got a tattoo on his arse?"