“Skye!” Coulson yelled as the girl ran past him.
Skye ignored him, focusing on the task at hands: avoiding the destruction of the building and the death of innocent people who were just enjoying a day at the mall.
“Logan!” she said at the top of her voice. She was still too far away. She had to get closer. She knew that Fitz and Simmons were standing above them, waiting for Coulson’s signal but Skye did not worry about standing in the line of fire. She knew in her guts she could stop this.
“Logan!” she called as she finally came to a stop in front of him. The young man looked at her, his brown eyes calling out to her, pleading her to help him.
“Logan, you can stop this, I know you can,” she rushed. “Think about all the people that still care about you, think about your sister, she needs you!”
“Alice?” he whispered. A weak smile made his way to his lips and it struck Skye how young he looked in that moment. God, he might even be younger than her. “I did this for her you know, the researches, the tests, the long nights in the lab, I did it for her but now I realize that she’s better off without me,” he explained.
Skye could feel Coulson’s eyes on her. The team needed more time to find out how to neutralize him, and that was exactly what Skye was providing them. Part of her was obeying Coulson’s directive, the other part wanted to save that kid and bring him back to his family.
“That’s not true,” she said quietly.
Logan shook his head. “You know all the things I’ve done; why do you still want to help me?” he asked.
Skye noticed the faint glow of his skin, the shake of his hands and the beads of sweat on his forehead. She barely had time to cover her eyes against the sudden bright light. She heard Logan screaming. Then everything turned black.
When Skye came to, Fitz was standing over her. He helped her to her feet.
“Careful, you hit your head in the fall,” he told her. He looked awfully concerned and for a second Skye felt bad about putting herself in danger. “I’m taking you back to the Bus,” he said and put his arm around her waist for support.
Skye glanced down on Logan’s pale face; she felt her throat burning and had to close her eyes for a second. Of course she knew they couldn’t save everyone, it didn’t mean she had to accept it.
Fitz led her away from the scene. Ward and May were already cleaning up the mess, but it was Simmons that Skye was looking for. When she finally found the other girl, Skye frowned. She was standing in front of Coulson, her arms crossed over her chest and her eyes burning with anger. Coulson was apparently yelling at her but Skye was too far away to understand what they were saying. Or she might have hit her head harder than she originally thought.
On their way to the Bus, Skye recovered enough to enquire after the team.
“We’re fine,” Fitz informed her. “You bough us enough time to find a way to prevent him from destroying the entire block.” Fitz eased her on the bed in the infirmary. “Coulson’s pissed, though. He ordered you to stay behind and you didn’t listen.”
“Why was he yelling at Simmons if he’s pissed at me?” she asked. She groaned in pain as her head hit the pillow.
“I’m not sure-” Fitz cleared his throat awkwardly and gave her a glass of water. “Simmons didn’t want to use the weapon while you were still within range. We were all scared for you, you know, and I think Coulson didn’t want to give the order, he just-”
“He had no choice,” Skye finished for him. “I know.”
Fitz looked on the verge of adding something when Simmons barged into the room, Coulson and May closely following after her. Skye noticed that Simmons’ eyes seemed red, like she’d just been crying; Coulson looked pissed beyond measure but he smiled at her when his eyes met Skye’s. As for May, her face was as undecipherable as ever.
Simmons immediately started by taking Skye’s vitals and checking for any head trauma. Skye apparently had a slight concussion, because that was what happened when you ran straight into danger.
“You got lucky,” Simmons noted and Skye raised her eyebrows at her. “It could have been much, much worse,” Simmons said with force. Then she just took off without a word. Skye tried to get up but the IV in her hand prevented her from going anywhere.
“Logan?” she asked Coulson.
“Get some rest,” he told her. That was the only answer Skye needed. She turned her head to the wall. Coulson gently patted her knee before leaving.
Simmons let her out of the infirmary a few hours later after much complain from Skye. The team was already gathered in the living space, and Skye noticed that even May was there, having a drink with them.
“I need a drink,” Skye mumbled.
“No alcohol for you, Miss,” Simmons stated as she gave her a glass of what seemed to be apple juice. Simmons sat down next to Fitz and took a gulp of her own beer.
“Apple juice? Really?” Skye asked disbelievingly. She rolled and eyes and sat down close to Simmons.
As the night dragged on, Skye got the feeling that no one in the team wanted to be alone that night. Ward finally was the first one to go, followed by May and Fitz, and Coulson a few hours later.
Skye and Simmons ended up alone in the room and even though there was plenty of space now, Skye didn’t even think about taking another couch. Simmons was busy turning her empty bottle in her hands and Skye nudged her shoulder.
“You okay?” she asked quietly. She was close enough to feel Simmons’ shrug.
“Long day, that’s all,” Simmons answered with all she could muster of her usual bravado.
“You did everything you could,” Skye told her because she knew that even though Simmons always tried to put up a brave front, she still needed comfort and reassurance from her friends. “Nobody blames you for what happened. I know it’s hard but sometimes, there’s just nothing we can do.”
“I know that,” Simmons stated without looking away from the bottle in her hands. “That’s what they teach us at the academy, that’s what Coulson says and one would think that you get use to it with time but you don’t. I feel like it’s getting harder every time.”
“It’s hard because you care,” Skye told her as she rubbed Simmons’ shoulder.
Simmons finally met her gaze. “I’m sorry,” she sighed. “I know you wanted to help him. I don’t know how you do it; you always seem to find the right words.”
That startled a laugh out of Skye. “Well, not always.”
“Even now,” Simmons noted as she grabbed Skye’s hand. “You’re here, comforting me even though you’re the one that needs comforting.”
“We comfort each other,” Skye said matter-of-factly.
“You know,” Simmons started. “When you went to him, I was so scared that you would get caught in the explosion. I think that’s the worst part of it, really; I was so relieved to see you were okay that I forgot for a minute what had just happened. The only thing that mattered was that you were okay.”
“There’s nothing wrong with that, Jemma.”
“But you could have died. I didn’t want- I didn’t want to take that chance and- I waited too long, I know it’s my fault and-”
“Hey, hey,” Skye cut in as her hold on Simmons’ hand tightened. “What happened was not your fault, okay? I trust you with my life, I know that you’ll always have my back.” Her eyes found Simmons’, willing her friend to understand. “I trust you,” she said quietly, standing so close now that she could feel Simmons’ breath on her face.
Before she could talk herself out of it, Skye closed the gap between them and gently kissed Simmons’ lips. Startled, Simmons let out a breath and opened her mouth to Skye. Her lips were soft and pliant, and she seemed to fit perfectly into Skye’s arms.
When Skye finally opened her eyes, she met Simmons’ deer-caught-in-the-headlights look; the girl had frozen and looked absolutely terrified.
“Jemma,” Skye said quietly.
Simmons bolted out of the couch. “Look at the time,” she exclaimed. Then she practically ran out of the room, banging into the coffee table on her way out.
Skye let her head fall against the couch, staring at the ceiling.
“Coulson’s gonna kill me,” she groaned.
When morning came, Skye was not ready to face the day. Not ready at all. She lay in her bed, staring at the ceiling as if it could give her the answers she so desperately needed. She had ruined everything. Just this once, she should have thought things through instead of rushing in head first; but how could she have resisted? It was too much, after all these months looking from afar, teasing each other, flirting with each other. Skye knew it was risky but she had not exactly thought about Simmons actually rejecting her. She could only hope that it wouldn’t affect the team too much or Coulson would kill her. Well, maybe not kill her kill her but he would definitely be disappointed in her and that was something Skye wanted to avoid at all costs.
Skye jumped out of her bed. It was still early… if only she could corner Simmons before anyone from the team had time to talk to her, she probably could explain herself and avoid things becoming too awkward between them. Yes, it could work. She changed quickly and bolted out of her room as she was still arranging her hair in a side braid. Right, it was still early and Simmons would most likely still be in her room- Skye stopped dead in her tracks; maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to barge into Simmons’ room after what had happened the night before, it could send the wrong message. She probably should wait for Simmons to come out of her room. Skye let out a huge sigh and went to the coffee maker. When had things become so complicated? Simmons was her friend, for God’s sake. She shouldn’t be so afraid at the idea of talking to her and second-guessing what had always – up until last night, at least – seemed so natural between them.
Skye grabbed a mug and filled it up to the top with coffee. With any luck, things would get clearer after that. She sat on a stool at the bar and waited for Simmons to appear. She jumped out of her skin when May opened the door of the fridge. She hadn’t even seen her coming in. The Agent took a water bottle and nodded at Skye before leaving. Fitz and Ward came next. Simmons was still nowhere to be seen.
After a second cup of coffee, Skye started to tap her fingers against the wood of the bar without even noticing it.
At long last, Skye heard familiar footsteps walking toward the kitchenette. She took a deep breath and stood up as Simmons made her appearance.
“Hello, Skye,” she said before Skye could think about anything to say. “What a beautiful morning, don’t you think?” She walked straight past Skye and grabbed a water bottle inside the fridge.
Her casualness through Skye off so much she did not say a word as Simmons started to talk about the weather. Literally.
“Simmons-” she cut in.
“I think Coulson wanted to see all of us, he-”
“-about what happened-”
“-talk about a new case I think-”
“-last night, I-”
“-it looked pretty serious-”
“-think we should at least talk about it-”
“-no rest for the wicked, right?” Simmons let out one of her awkward little laugh.
“Simmons!” Skye exclaimed. Simmons’ behavior was seriously starting to piss her off.
“Ah! There you are!” Coulson said as he appeared behind Skye. The girl could have screamed with frustration. “What are you still doing here? We’re waiting for you for debrief,” he added and gave Skye a look.
Skye rolled her eyes – that whole situation was getting ridiculous – and followed him without looking back.
“Nice of you to join us,” May deadpanned when she saw Skye. The girl bit her tongue and turned to Coulson.
“Yesterday a couple of Americans were found dead while they were on their honeymoon in Turkey,” he explained before showing them photos of the scene. Skye made a face. “The manager found them in their room, completely naked. There’s no physical wound, the preliminary tests showed no trace of drugs or any substance that could have led to their death.” Simmons frowned. “And that’s why we’re going to Turkey.”
“Huh,” Skye raised her hand. “I know the situation is a bit strange, but why are we working on this? Doesn’t – I don’t know – the FBI work on this sort of thing anymore?”
“Because,” Coulson answered. “The woman worked for Homeland Security and she was a personal friend of one of the members of the Council of S.H.I.E.L.D.; so we’re going to Turkey ourselves.”
“Hey, I’m not complaining,” Skye said, smiling. “I’ve always wanted to visit Turkey but I’d never thought my first trip there would be for a case.”
“We’ve got a few hours before landing there. In the meantime,” Coulson turned to Fitz and Simmons, “I want you two to analyze the preliminary police report; you might find something interesting.” He turned to Skye. “Skye, I want you to-”
“Book us a room in a hotel,” Skye interrupted. “I’m on it.”
“That’s not-” Coulson tried to cut in. “We’re not on holidays, Skye,” he felt compelled to remind her.
“Yeah, I know that,” Skye countered. “I just thought it would be easier to find something interesting if you don’t go shoving your badge in people’s faces,” she reasoned.
Coulson looked at May. “She has a point, you know,” the agent said.
Coulson sighed. “Alright, I guess we’ll try to tone it down.” Skye punched the air.
Once the meeting was over, May went to the cockpit and Coulson went back to his office. Skye tried once more to catch Simmons on her way to the lab but the girl did not even acknowledge her. Skye sighed and sat at the bar with her laptop. She could take a clue, really. And apparently Simmons was just not interested. Skye started to look for hotels in the city they would be visiting – investigating – all the while hitting the keys with more force than necessary. She had made a mistake; she could at least admit it to herself. She had misread the whole situation. However, Simmons could at least say something instead of straight out avoiding her. She could-
“You’re doing okay?” Ward asked as he sat down beside her.
Skye nodded without looking up. “I managed to find us two rooms,” she informed him.
“That’s good, but that’s not what I was talking about.”
“What do you mean?”
“Skye,” Ward said and she looked up. “Did something happen? You look- preoccupied,” he said.
“Nothing of importance,” she said and stood up. “I’m going to show this to Coulson.”
Skye grabbed her laptop and went for Coulson’s office. She could feel Ward’s gaze following her as she left the room. Skye knocked on the door and actually waited for Coulson to let her in for once instead of barging in.
“Skye,” the senior agent greeted when he saw her standing in the office. Skye let out a frustrated sigh and gestured to her laptop.
“You know the local police send us the couple’s bank statements,” she said. Coulson nodded. “Well, I managed to find two rooms in the same hotel, in Datça,” she read, probably maiming the pronunciation. “It’s near the town center, and near the beach. I need to pack a swimming suit,” she added as an afterthought.
Coulson gave her a look. “We’re not going on holidays, Skye,” he said again but the girl only shrugged. “You said you had the bank statement?” he asked. “Could you use those to trace their whereabouts? We need to know what they were up to if we want to understand what happened.”
Skye nodded. “I’m on it!”
When Skye got off the Bus, she was hit by a warm gust of wind. She tried not to smile and to remain professional, she really tried, but judging by the raised eyebrow May gave her, it was an epic fail. She took a deep breath and looked around them as Coulson took out the S.U.V. They had decided to park the Bus outside of the city, clock it and drive to the city. Fitz and Simmons were taking care of gathering the tech they would need; they all got into the S.U.V. with Coulson behind the heel. He put on his sunglasses and started the engine.
They checked into the hotel, all their tech safely hidden in various big suitcases.
“Hey, can someone help me with this?” Skye asked as she pulled one of the suitcases toward the elevator.
“You shouldn’t have taken so many shoes,” Coulson deadpanned as they passed a family of tourists that were eying them strangely. He smirked and pressed the elevator button. Skye glared and let Ward take the heavy suitcase. The six of them squeezed inside the elevator, Skye’s back pressing awkwardly against the wall. She stumbled backward as Coulson turned around and reached for the fourth floor button. Fitz tripped and promptly fell out of the elevator when the doors opened on their floor.
“’t’s okay, I’m good,” he mumbled. Ward laughed at him as he took no less than three suitcases by himself and May just shook her head.
They entered the boys’ room and settled their tech on the beds and the couch. Skye opened the door to the adjacent room.
“How come your room has a balcony and ours doesn’t?” Skye frowned. She had not realized their room hadn’t a balcony when she had booked it. She had simply booked two adjacent rooms without looking further than that.
“It’s a breach in security,” May underlined.
The boys glanced at each other. “Nah,” Coulson said, shaking his head. “Here’s what we’re going to do,” the agent said. “Ward, you’re going to go directly to the police station, they’re already waiting for you there. Call us as soon as you have the incident report. FitzSimmons, May and I will go to the crime scene to collect samples, the manager of the hotel gave us the key of the room,” he said, holding up the extra key. “But we need to be discreet and not draw attention on us. Skye-”
“I’ll keep looking into their bank account and try to retrace their whereabouts.” Coulson nodded.
“Good, let’s go.”
The team left the room, Coulson, May and FitzSimmons took the stairs to the above floor, while Ward and Skye took the elevator to the lobby. She girl took a moment to wander in the hall of the hotel, her computer secured inside a shoulder bag. An automatic door opened as she walked past it and when she ventured outside, she found a large terrace at the back of the hotel. She bought a soda at the bar, sat down on one of the deck chair and pulled her laptop out of her bag.
Skye took a moment to listen to the sound of the ocean just a few feet away and took a picture on her phone. Then she opened her laptop and got to work. She had access to the couple’s bank account and tried to retrace their whereabouts. After a while, she realized that the receipts she had were not complete which made sense if the couple had paid in cash. She took a gulp of her soda. If she couldn’t use their credit card receipts, she could find another away.
Skye took her phone and dialed Ward.
“Are you at the police station yet?” she asked as soon as he picked up.
“Yeah, I’m reading the police report actually, why?”
“Great, do you have access to the evidence they collected on the scene?”
“Yes, of course, why do you ask?”
“I’m trying to retrace their steps to understand what happened,” Skye explained. “I need you to find some cashier’s receipts for me, if we’re lucky you might even find museum entry tickets or anything that could help us know what they’ve been doing.”
“Understood. Anything else?”
Skye sighed. “I don’t know- Wait a minute, they were on holidays, right? They probably took pictures! Do you know if the police found a camera or even their phones?”
“I’ll see what I can do.”
Then he hung up. Skye put her sunglasses on, bought another soda and started looking for tourist activities the couple might have found in the area.
Skye looked up from her laptop a few hours later when someone suddenly stood above her, effectively blocking the sun from her face. It was Fitz.
“We’ve been looking all over for you,” he said as mean of greetings. “Ward came back from the station with the phones you needed.”
“Great,” she exclaimed. She was ready to follow Fitz upstairs when he sat down on a chair next to her.
“That’s actually a really nice spot,” he noted. “Hey, are you okay?” he asked.
Skye turned to him. “Yeah, of course,” she frowned. “Why do you ask?”
Fitz cleared his throat awkwardly. “Nothing,” he rushed out. “It’s just that you’ve been acting really strange since we left, and Simmons hasn’t said a word except to talk about the case.”
“It’s nothing, really,” Skye tried to brush it off but Fitz was having none of it.
“Listen, I don’t know what happened exactly and you don’t have to tell me anything if you don’t want to, but don’t go and tell me nothing’s wrong, alright?” He sighed. “I know the both of you and I notice things, okay? You don’t come to the lab anymore, you isolate yourself from us, and Simmons won’t even talk to me. You’re friends, aren’t you? Maybe you just need to talk it out.”
Skye snorted. “I appreciate it, Fitz, I really do, but it’s useless. Just- Stay out of it, please? I’m handling it.”
Fitz looked skeptical but nodded nonetheless.
“So, you said something about a phone?” Skye asked after a while.
“Yeah, Ward’s upstairs. He found some interesting things at the police station.”
“Great, let’s go check it out.” Skye jumped out of her deck chair, grabbed her laptop and followed Fitz back to their rooms.
As Fitz had said, Ward had come back from the police station with some useful information.
“-they don’t know what to make of it,” Ward concluded when Skye and Fitz stepped inside the room. Coulson nodded, a frown on his face. May was standing still, listening to Ward’s report while Simmons had set up a mobile lab on one of the beds.
“Hey, that’s my bed!” Fitz exclaimed as soon as he spotted her.
“I needed somewhere to put all our equipment, it’s very fragile,” Simmons said matter-of-factly.
“Well you could have put it on your own bed!”
Skye rolled her eyes and turned to Ward. “I heard you’ve got something for me?”
“Yes,” he said and gestured to the phones and camera on the other bed. “I’ve managed to retrieve both their phones, their camera – but the battery’s dead-
“It’s okay, I can just upload the memory card directly on my computer.”
“And turns out they kept most of their receipts. That was a good idea, Skye.”
Coulson turned to Skye. “I couldn’t find anything on their bank account,” she explained. “Except for the room they booked and two tickets for a boat cruise-” She smiled.
“No,” Coulson cut in.
“We’re not renting a boat, Skye,” he said.
“It’s not renting! It’s just a tourist cruise! I thought we were trying to find out what happened to them, maybe that’s it.”
“I don’t think a cruise’s what caused their death,” Coulson underlined.
“Well, you never know,” Fitz said, trying to fit on the only free spot on his bed. “They could have encountered a pathogen somewhere, we need to be thorough with this, don’t rule anything out just yet.”
Coulson frowned at Fitz. Then he turned to Ward. “Do you think the officers at the station could provide any answers?”
“Frankly, they seemed a bit lost, Sir. They’re not used to this kind of thing.”
“That I can understand. But I still want you back to the station tomorrow to talk to the officers that found the body. Take Fitz and Simmons with you, they’ll know what to look for.”
Simmons looked up, she seemed about to protest but said nothing.
In the meantime, Skye had hooked up one of the phones to her laptop to recharge its battery. “No surprise there,” she said at last. “It’s password protected,” she answered their silent questions. “Can’t your buddies at Homeland Security give you access?” she asked Coulson.
“It’s possible, but it might take some time. Can’t you hack you way into it?”
Skye smiled. “I can certainly try.” She started typing frenetically. “I should have access to their browser history, texts and phone calls.” She grabbed the camera and opened the memory card case. “I should be able to retrace all their activities with what we have.”
“Alright, Ward, you can help her with that,” Coulson said. “FitzSimmons, you-”
“I should get back to the Bus,” Simmons suggested. “I need to analyze the samples Agent Ward brought back from the police station and I can’t do it here.”
Coulson frowned. “Alright,” he finally said. “Take the S.U.V., and be careful.”
Fitz and Simmons leaved the room, the samples carefully hidden in a vanity case. Ward and Skye started compiling all the data they had thanks to the camera and receipts to make a timetable of the events while Coulson and May were making phone calls to S.H.I.E.L.D. and Homeland Security.
“Seeing all these restaurant receipts is making me hungry,” Skye said after a while. “I haven’t had anything since that soda, and that was hours ago.”
“You’re right,” Coulson nodded. “We could try out the hotel restaurant since we’re here.”
“I’m going to patrol the area,” Ward said stiffly.
“Be discreet,” Coulson reminded him. Ward nodded and left the room.
“May?” Coulson asked.
“I could eat,” she said and followed them out of the room.
The three of them made their way to the lobby where Coulson asked for direction to the restaurant. The night had fallen but it was still very hot outside, Skye noticed as they decided to sit at the terrace. Skye was looking intensely at the menu; she had no idea what composed half of these courses. At least, some of it was translated into English.
“Iyi aksamlar,” the waiter said and Skye looked up. “Have you already made your choice?”
“We’ll need a few more minutes,” Coulson said amiably.
“Of course. Anything to drink while you make your choice?”
Coulson turned to May, who shrugged. “A bottle of wine will do, and something non-alcoholic for the young lady,” Coulson said with a smirk. Skye frowned at him.
“She’ll have some ayran,” May cut in with a perfect accent and Skye turned her frown to her. The waiter nodded and left them to their menus.
“I think I’ll have the chicken,” Coulson decided and put his menu away.
“You should try the Iskender kebap,” May told Skye and the girl nodded silently. She looked around, enjoying the scenery while Coulson and May talked quietly. Well, actually Coulson was providing for a large part of the conversation.
When the waiter came back with their drinks, May ordered for them, using once more that perfect accent of hers and Skye could not hold it in anymore. As soon as the waiter disappeared, she turned to May.
“How come you speak Turkish so well?” she asked, sounding just a tad suspicious.
May and Coulson exchanged one of their looks and Coulson shrugged.
“An assignment, a few years back,” May explained. “It went on for a few months and I had to learn the language, I picked up a few things.”
“Okay, that’s awesome,” Skye exclaimed. She took a gulp of her drink to try and conceal some of her glee. She had a hard time remaining professional. But, hey, who could blame her? If working for S.H.I.E.L.D. meant putting your life on the line every other day, you could at least enjoy moments like this one.
They enjoyed a quiet evening. Skye could not remember the last time she felt so relax, which was odd considering May was not her idea of a relaxing presence. It felt surprisingly nice, she laughed at Coulson’s ridiculous op stories, sipped her glace of ayran – which turned out to be salty milk – and occasionally tapping her foot with the music.
Skye did not think once about Simmons until they had to go back to their room. When May and Skye went inside, the room was empty and Skye felt relieved. She immediately felt awful about it, of course. She went to the bathroom to change into some comfy pajamas and then took the bed underneath the window, all the while avoiding May’s suspicious gaze.
Simmons did not reappear until the next morning when Fitz and her entered the boys’ room early in the morning. They had spent the whole night working on the samples they had, trying to make sense of the results. And they apparently had to do a full autopsy as soon as possible. Skye made a face.
“Ward will take you to the station,” Coulson said. Then he turned to Skye. “Anything new?”
“Well, Ward and I were able to pull out an awful lot of information on what they were doing, we even used the pictures they took to fill in the blanks and we now know what they were doing from Sunday when they checked in at the hotel until their death on Friday evening.” She took a peek at all the notes scattered on the bed. “That was mostly tourist stuffs, really, they visited a few museums, went ballooning-”
“No,” Coulson said firmly.
“We’re not going ballooning, Skye,” he exclaimed.
Skye huffed. “Fine. They went to a small town called Mesudiye and took a boat to visit Knidos. Now, I know what you said but I really think that the boat could be a-”
“Go to the station,” Coulson said to Fitz and Simmons. “If we find out what caused their death-”
“We can find out what led to it,” May filled in. Coulson nodded.
“In the meantime, May, Skye and I will be gathering Intel,” he concluded.
FitzSimmons left the room with Ward as Skye grabbed her handbag and followed Coulson and May outside.
Coulson had this strange ability to inspire trust and the shop owners were simply dying to relate strange folktales to any tourist that showed an interest. The strange death of a couple of tourists sure was a good story to tell. Coulson and May were talking to yet another local while Skye took a look around the souvenir shop. The girl went back to the cashier holding a cap in her hand. It was really hot outside after all.
“Got all what you needed?” Coulson asked, smiling at the cap of the temple of Aphrodite in Knidos. Skye shrugged as she paid for her purchase. She put the cap on and gave Coulson a smirk.
“You have a beautiful daughter,” the cashier said and Skye froze.
“Have a good day,” May cut in and they made their way out of the shop. “Well, that was a waste of time,” she said as soon as they were back on the crowded street.
“I’m not so sure about that,” Coulson noted as he put his sunglasses back on.
“Don’t tell me you believe in this,” May countered. “It’s just some story they tell the tourists to make themselves look interesting.”
“What did he say?” Skye asked at last.
May sighed and Coulson took it as his clue to fill Skye in. “He was just telling us about old tales that go way back to Ancient Greece.”
“Like gods, you mean?” Skye asked, her eyes going round.
Coulson nodded. “The Ancient Greeks built temples and statues that are still here today, the museums of this country are filled with ancient artifacts, after all.”
“What are you saying exactly?” Skye asked.
“We need to wait for Simmons’ analyses,” May cut in.
“We also need to accept the idea that this might be bigger than we thought,” Coulson countered.
“That’s really not what I had in mind when I organized this trip,” Skye mumbled.
“We’re not on holidays, I know, I know,” she dismissed with a wave. “We should have ice cream,” she declared.
Skye did not wait for an answer, she went ahead and queued at the first ice cream stand she found. Coulson and May reluctantly joined in. After all, they had some time to spare while waiting for Simmons to finish her autopsies.
Simmons could feel Fitz’s eyes on her as she cut the man open. The young agent had tried to talk to her the night before but Simmons had been too busy with the analyses of the samples, and now was not the time for personal conversations. Simmons knew – or at least suspected – what Fitz wanted to talk to her about. He was her best friend, she would not even dream of hiding anything from him. More often than not, this connection between them helped them to work in perfect harmony and solve any problem that would come their way. Unfortunately, at moment like this one, Simmons would have preferred that Fitz stayed oblivious.
Simmons had tried to make sense of Skye’s actions but she could not find any explanation for what had happened. She should have at least listened to Skye when she had come to her the next morning but Simmons could not face the situation. They were still good friends not even two days ago and now everything was awkward and confusing between them. Skye probably felt sorry that anything like that had happened anyway. Simmons simply wanted to put everything behind her and stop thinking about it. However, she could not help but think about it. Sometimes she would let her mind wander and it would lead her straight back to that same moment again and again. This whole situation was so bloody confusing.
“Did you find anything yet?” Fitz asked.
“I’ve only just started, Fitz,” she exclaimed and she felt one of the ribs crack under the pressure of her hand. She ran her sleeve over her forehead and sighed. She needed to focus on the mission. She’d have time to think about the Skye situation after they solved this mystery.
As it turned out, Simmons did find some interesting – and very confusing – things during her autopsy. She made a full report of her findings as soon as they went back to the hotel. The two victims had both died of a heart failure, which was fairly uncommon for their age and frankly which were the odds of that happening to the two of them at the exact same time? She had run the same blood analysis several times and was still confused by the results; such level of oxytocin and dopamine were clearly impossible. Hypothetically, such levels of hormones would have caused sleeplessness, a loss of appetite and a significant increase in heart rate that would eventually result in heart failure. As they had found no trace of any syringe or any drug use on the victims, their deaths still remained a mystery.
Coulson dragged them all to the restaurant of the hotel and Simmons had to admit that the food was really good. She sat between Fitz and Ward, and tried to give them some more information about her findings until Coulson asked them to stop talking about autopsies at the dining table. They spent a quiet evening, talking of everything except the case. Simmons was surprised to see that she could smile and laugh despite the situation and the feeling of Skye’s gaze on her.
Ward was the first one to left the table to go patrolling and Coulson, Skye and Fitz decided to make good use of the bar.
“I’m going to turn in,” Simmons said when Fitz suggested she came with them. “It’s been a long day. Good night everyone.”
They all bid her goodnight and the girl made her way upstairs, already thinking about the good night sleep ahead. But then an arm passed between the elevator doors and Agent May came into the small space as well. The two agents did not exchange a word until Agent May closed the door of the room behind her.
“What’s going on?” May asked.
Simmons closed her eyes. She sighed and turned around. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” she tried to smiled. She retrieved her pajamas from her suitcase and made for the bathroom.
“Right,” May snorted. “You’re not talking to Skye, we’ve barely seen you in three days, but you want me to believe nothing’s happened between you two?”
“It’s just a misunderstanding,” Simmons tried again, her voice wavering. She gulped as May glared at her. “So maybe something happened but I’m dealing with it- I am!” she emphasizes. “I’m not letting it interfere with my-”
“Of course it’s interfering with your work,” May exclaimed. “Don’t you see you’re putting everyone on this team in danger because you’re not focused on the mission?”
“That’s not true,” Simmons mumbled.
“You know it is,” May said quietly. She put a comforting hand on Simmons’ shoulder. “I’m just concerned about you two. Did Skye say something-”
“Well she didn’t say anything per se-” Simmons stated.
May nodded. “I see,” she said under her breath. “Did you two talk about it at least?” Simmons shook her head. “So what? You decided to completely shut her out?”
“I can’t deal with this right now,” Simmons mumbled. “It’s just too much- Skye- She’s my friend and I- I don’t understand why I-”
“You need to be honest with yourself. I know it’s hard but you’re not the only one having a hard time right now, you need to think about Skye too. You two are friends; you can work this out. ”
“Did Skye said something or-”
“I don’t need anyone to see that something’s wrong with you two. Talk to her, alright? Don’t make me use my persuasion skills on you.”
Simmons gave her a weak smile. “I’ll try.”
May nodded. Then Simmons grabbed her clothes and locked herself in the bathroom.
When May corned her on her way to breakfast after Simmons had left their room, Skye knew she definitely was in deep trouble.
“I’m pretty sure I already know what this is about,” Skye deadpanned.
“What were you thinking?” May hissed.
“I wasn’t, okay?” Skye exclaimed. “I know I screwed up but she was just so- and we were- and I-”
May sighed. “What did you do exactly?”
“I kissed her,” Skye mumbled, lowering her gaze.
“Dammit, Skye!” May exclaimed and Skye jumped in surprise.
“I know, I know,” she groaned. “I’ve ruined everything. Please, don’t say anything to Coulson?” she begged.
“He needs to know what’s going on with his team,” May declared. “You two are putting everyone at risk with this, you’re not focused on the job and that’s dangerous in our line of work. Imagine if Simmons can’t find the solution on time because she’s too worried about what’s going on with you two at the moment, what happens then?”
“Well I can’t do anything about it if she’s not talking to me now, can I?” Skye exclaimed. “She leaves the room every time I walk in!”
“Have you tried to understand her point of view?” May asked.
“How can I? She won’t even look at me anymore.” Skye ran a hand over her face. “I thought we were friends and I screwed up that too. It’s not my fault she was flirting with me!” May gave her a tiny nod. “See? Don’t tell me she’s not at least a little bit interested.” She gasped. “But that’s the thing; she’s not, is she?”
“Have you considered the idea that maybe that’s not the issue here?” May asked with an exasperate sigh.
“What do you mean?”
“Simmons might have found out some things about herself that have nothing to do with you.”
Skye stared blankly at her. May raised an eyebrow.
“Oh,” Skye let out at last. “You mean because we’re both girls, right?” May stayed still but that was confirmation enough for Skye. “That’s good, right? I can work with that,” she nodded enthusiastically.
“What? Do you want me to fix this or not?”
“Don’t push her too much,” May warned her.
Skye smirked. “I’ve got this.”
The girl soon realized that she did not, in fact, get this. At all. Simmons still was not talking to her. Well, she was done avoiding her at least. It would have been really awkward for what Coulson had planned for the day.
The agent had finally taken Skye’s suggestion to take a boat to the isle of Knidos. They were going to collect samples on the site to try and find the source of the things that Simmons had found during her autopsies. It was already insanely hot outside when they took the boat early in the morning.
Try as she might, Skye had a really hard time not squealing like a little girl. Everything around her was so beautiful. She made her way to the far end of the boat and looked at the sea below her, the shapes of the rocky inlets all around them and the dull sound of the boat engine. She glanced back at Coulson, standing on the deck above her, wearing the most ridiculous fishing-hat she had ever seen, May standing still next to him, her sunglasses making it impossible for Skye to know what she was thinking of their situation. Simmons and Ward were sitting on a bench inside the cabin, awkwardly handling their backpack, trying not to squash the analyze instruments that were inside. As for Fitz, he was standing right next to her, carefully applying sunscreen on his face, and was the only one smiling as wild as she was. Skye snapped a picture of him. Phone still in hand, her eyes travelled to Coulson and May that seemed now deep in conversation and were not paying any attention to them. Fitz frowned and followed her gaze. He started shaking his head frantically.
“This is a really bad idea,” he declared.
Skye smirked. “Come on, it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity,” she said before zooming in on May and Coulson’s ridiculous attire.
She managed to snap a picture just before May turned toward her, and even with the sunglasses on Skye guessed the agent was glaring at her. Fitz gulped and Skye giggled.
They took a moment to eat lunch composed of sandwiches on the beach. Skye took a deep breath and closed her eyes a moment. She listened to the sound of the waves, Fitz and Simmons babbling away, Coulson’s constant chatter with their guide, and Ward’s occasional groans of frustration.
Once they reached the top of the hill, they came face to face with the ruin of the temple. The small group came to a halt to fully appreciate the scenery. The few tourists composing their group were already taking pictures of the sea, the hills around them and of course the ruins of the temple. Coulson kept conversing with the guide who seemed more than happy to find someone genuinely interested in his stories for once. While the group took a moment to rest or walk along the hill, Simmons took the opportunity to collect samples using what clearly looked like a- pen? Oh, she was probably scanning the area. Well, that did not look suspicious at all. As for Fitz, he looked every bit like the perfect young American tourist, taking a fair amount of pictures, but Skye knew he was taking pictures of a potential crime scene and not – you know – holiday pictures.
Skye walked to Coulson, who was now reading the brochure out loud to a very bored May. Ward had bailed right in the middle of his detailed explanation. Skye smiled.
“Apparently the city was under Aphrodite’s protection at the time,” Coulson said. “A Greek sculptor named Praxiteles made a statue of Aphrodite and they displayed it in this very temple. Look at the ruins,” he told Skye who was listening with interest. “They built two doors, one over there and one at the back so that everyone could walk around the statue and look at it from every angle.”
“Looks like it was quite the attraction,” she underlined.
“Well, the guide did say that the statue was so lifelike that one man even tried to rape it,” he added.
“I see why they left this one out of the brochure,” Skye noted. “What happened to the statue?”
“Apparently it disappeared during the sixth century,” Coulson answered, frowning over the text. “There’re only replicas nowadays.”
Skye nodded. She snapped one last picture of the temple where Simmons was kneeling, collecting some more samples, her face hidden by her big straw hat. The girl went to Coulson, looking exited.
“Sir, you should see this,” she whispered, showing them a small vial.
“What is it?” Coulson enquire, taking a close look at the golden dust inside.
“I don’t know yet, I’ve found it inside the temple,” Simmons answered. “I’ll need to analyze it to be sure, but it looks like what I found under the shoes of the woman during the autopsy,” she said, lowering her voice. “This could be a lead.”
“You said that you’ve never seen anything like this before, right?” Coulson asked her.
Simmons nodded. “I’ve compared the sample I found on the woman’s shoe with every component or mineral we can find, and whatever this is, it’s never been found on earth,” Simmons concluded.
Coulson gave May a very pointed look. “I guess it’s a possibility,” May grumbled reluctantly.
“What? What is a possibility?” Fitz asked. It was time May and Coulson let them in on their silent exchange.
Coulson turned to Simmons. “You said they died of a heart failure that was probably related to their levels of hormones at the time of death, right?” Simmons nodded. “You also said that such levels were very unusual,” he continued.
“It’s more than that,” Simmons answered. “It shouldn’t even be possible, those hormones can only be detected by a blood test for a couple hours, four hours tops, not days.”
“And could this be explained by an alien interference?” Coulson asked at last.
“Well, I don’t know,” Simmons seemed hesitant. “I mean, it’s highly improbable.”
“Two years ago we though that Norse mythology was just that, a myth, but I’ve met Thor, and you’ve all met Lady Sif. Would it be so far-stretched to think that Greek Gods might have existed too?”
“Are you thinking about one god in particular, Sir?” Fitz finally asked.
Coulson turned to Skye and the cap she was wearing. “Actually, I am.”
“Aphrodite?” Fitz asked once more as they made their way back to their hotel room. “The goddess of Love? The main reason the Trojan War happened in the first place?”
“What do you mean?” Ward frowned.
“Paris had to choose which goddess was the fairest,” Skye answered. “He choose Aphrodite and to thank him she gave him the love of Helen, the queen of Sparta. Paris and Helen eloped and her husband declared war to get her back,” she summed up. They all frowned at her. “What? I read,” she explained.
“Wait a minute,” Fitz cut in. “It means that Aphrodite could literally create attraction in people, right?”
“Because the hormones that Simmons found during the autopsy- they’re called ‘love hormones’,” he exclaimed.
“Well, oxytocin is generally called ‘love hormone’ but it’s clearly very simplistic,” Simmons explained. “Some say that it only enhances feelings that are already existent, and of course it has countless of other functions in the human body, it has an effect on other hormones and it can be used has medication or-”
“So you’re telling me that it’s possible that Aphrodite could influence on those hormones and that’s why they both died?” Coulson summed up.
“It’s-” Simmons sighed. “I mean, it could be possible,” she concluded reluctantly. “It would explain the absence of any syringe or any proof of drug use at least.”
“Wait a minute here,” Skye cut in. “Just so we’re clear, Aphrodite is an alien and she caused the death of two people?” Coulson nodded. “Okay.”
“What are we going to do?” Fitz asked at last.
“We’re going to find her,” May declared.
“You want to find a goddess that already killed two people?” Fitz exclaimed. May glared. “Alright, let’s do it.”
Skye was making good use of the bathroom after their long day of running around looking for clues, combing her hair absentmindedly, when she heard the door being opened.
“It’s occupied!” she yelled over her shoulder.
She heard someone walk inside the bathroom, turned around and saw Simmons standing in the doorway. While Skye was in her underwear, no less. Talk about awkward. Well, she had warned her that the room was occupied.
Before Skye could say anything to lighten the mood, Simmons was shoving her against the sink and kissing her like there was no tomorrow. All the air leaved Skye’s lungs at once; she had only enough sense left to register the way Simmons’ lips moved against hers. Simmons’ hands grabbed the bare skin of Skye’s waist and Skye opened her mouth to Simmons with a content sigh. One of her arms went around Simmons’ waist and pulled her closer. Skye could feel Simmons against her skin, the way her chest moved erratically as she kissed her. She suddenly opened her eyes - and when had she closed them? – to notice Simmons’ flushed cheeks and the sweat beading her forehead.
“Jemma,” she tried. “Jemma.” Her hands went to Simmons’ shoulders as she tried to push the other girl away. “What’s going o-”
Her sentence ended up in a moan as Simmons’ mouth traveled against the skin of her neck, kissing and biting her way down Skye’s collarbone.
But the other girl was not listening to her and a shiver ran down Skye’s back. She couldn’t say if the shiver came from the feeling of Simmons’ mouth on her or the sudden realization that the girl must have been infected at some point. There was no way Simmons would act this way. Well, not outside of Skye’s fantasies anyway.
“Simmons, I need you to stop,” she tried again. Her hand traveled along the sink, looking for something - anything - to stop Simmons. When her hand came into contact with the toothbrush holder, Skye didn’t think about it, she struck a blow to Simmons’ head with it and gasped as her friend fell on the ground. Skye had no time to think about what had happened, she needed to find May, they needed to cure Simmons before it was too late.
Skye grabbed a bathrobe before going out of the bathroom. May was nowhere to be seen. Skye hurried into the boys’ room, hoping to find Fitz. Fitz would know what to do, she told herself. However, it was not Fitz she ran into when she opened the door and rushed into the room. She ran straight into Coulson.
“Simmons- She’s got the same thing as the other two,” she exclaimed and she had to restrain herself from yelling at his puzzled look.
“Wha-” he said but Skye had already grabbed his arm and was leading him to the bathroom. Simmons was still unconscious, she noticed. Now that Skye really looked at her, she saw Simmons’ pale face and red cheeks. Of course she’d been infected! Skye should have known at once.
“What happened?” Coulson asked in disbelief as he crouched next to Simmons to take her pulse.
“She’s been infected somehow, we need to take her back to the Bus, now!” Skye exclaimed, her blood rushing to her ears while Coulson looked as calm and collected as ever.
Coulson grabbed Simmons - Skye winced when she noticed that the first button of Simmons’ shirt had been opened - and gently put her on the bed, brushing a lock of hair away from her face. He gave Skye a look.
“What? I panicked!” Skye tried to justify herself.
“What was she doing in the bathroom anyway?” he asked.
Skye could not think of anything to say. She just turned to Coulson with a sheepish look. Her wet hair and the bathrobe she was wearing did not leave any room for interpretation.
“Oh,” he said as he connected the dots. And that was it. That was the moment Skye had been dreading all along. Coulson was going to be so disappointed in her, he was going to- When Skye glanced at him, Coulson did not look disappointed at all. He was looking worryingly at Simmons.
“We need to get Fitz,” he said at last.
Coulson finally found Fitz in the lobby of the hotel, as well as May and Ward, they all agreed that they needed to take Simmons back to the Bus as quickly as possible. Even if the lobby was practically empty at this time of night, the team had to sneak out and try to lift Simmons through the corridors and outside of the hotel into the dark night. Skye was first in line, scouting ahead and trying to distract anyone from Coulson and May carrying the unconscious girl while Fitz was busy panicking. He was the one saying out loud what they were all thinking: how were they supposed to find an antidote to this thing when their resident doctor had been infected? Fitz may be smart, he was not a chemist nor a biologist. The only one that could find the cure was the one who needed it the most.
“Why did you have to park the S.U.V. so far?” Coulson panted. May glared at him from across Simmons’ body. “Who would have thought she was this heavy?”
They slowly made their way to the S.U.V. and then drove to the Bus. When they finally got there, Coulson and May lowered Simmons on the bed in the infirmary while Fitz went rummaging in the various drawers. He grabbed a small vial and a syringe.
“We need to keep her sedated,” Fitz explained as he draw a transparent liquid from the vial.
“What?” Skye exclaimed. “Why?”
“Simmons thought that it would slow the production of oxytocin, and frankly we don’t have much of a choice here.”
“But-” Skye turned to Coulson and May, both of them seemed at a loss on what to do. “You can’t just inject her with this thing-”
“Believe me, Skye, it’s the only thing that I can do for now.”
Skye huffed and left the room before doing anything stupid, like shouting at May or punching Fitz in the face. She had just reached her bunk when she heard someone hurrying up after her. She let out a resigned sigh.
“How are you holding up?” Coulson asked her quietly as he sat down next to her on the bed.
“It’s not me you should be worrying about,” she mumbled.
“We’ll get her out of this,” he promised. “Fitz is doing everything he can, you know that.”
“Yeah, I know,” Skye sighed. “I’m not sure he can find the answers we need on time, though. I’m so stupid, I should have known she-” She let her head fall on her hands and groaned.
“Want to talk about it?” Coulson asked gently.
“May and I were wondering- That is, I asked May to talk to you about it. Did she…?”
“Oh yeah, she did,” Skye mumbled. “And if you want to give me a lecture, May’s already done that,” she added.
“I wasn’t going to,” Coulson said quietly. “We’re just worried about you.”
“I’m sorry,” Skye said. “I messed up… again. But I couldn’t help it. She’s just so smart, and she’s so nice to people, you know?” Coulson nodded. “And don’t even get me started on that British accent, I mean- of course I kissed her,” she exclaimed. Skye saw Coulson’s eyes turning as big as soccer balls. “And you didn’t know,” she realized. “May really didn’t tell you, did she?”
“Nope,” Coulson said, shaking his head. “Is this why she was avoiding you?” he asked.
“Yeah, and before I could even apologize the new assignment came in and, well, she was too busy avoiding me. And I first I thought that was because she wasn’t interested but now it looks like she’s a least a bit interested. She practically threw herself at me and- and you probably don’t want to know about that, do you?”
Coulson gave her a weak smile. “You’ll have time to sort everything out when she wakes up,” he said.
“If she wakes up.”
He took her hand. “She will.”
Skye finally went back to the infirmary and sat down next to Simmons’ bed. Her heart tightened in her chest when she saw her friend lying motionless. Her face was so pale. Skye turned her gaze to Fitz who was once again franticly going over Simmons’ notes on the case. Coulson, May and Ward had gone out to find answerers but Skye knew it was because they needed to actually do something and not wait around for Fitz to find a solution. Skye ran a hand through her hair. She felt so useless.
“I’m going out,” she said and stood up abruptly.
Fitz jumped in surprise. “You can’t, Coulson told us to stay put,” he reminded her.
Skye left the room without looking back. Once on the bay, she realized that Coulson had probably drove the S.U.V. back to the city and Skye was left with two options: try to ride Ward’s bike or take Lola out for a spin. Coulson was going to kill her. She shrugged and jumped in the car.
As she rushed to the city with the wind blasting in her face, Skye was thinking of a way to contact Aphrodite. It might have been her stupidest idea to date but the situation didn’t make any sense to her. Why would Aphrodite – who had disappeared for a few thousand years – would suddenly come back to Earth and go on a killing spree? Skye had read a lot about Greek mythology these past few days, she had witnessed the wrath of the gods first-hand – Loki, Lorelei – but this looked different. She couldn’t explain it.
Skye parked Lola with extra caution – no need to give Coulson any more reasons to be angry at her – and looked around, trying to decide where to go next. She needed to find a way to make contact with the goddess and she was pretty sure that blurting Aphrodite’s name in the middle of a crowded street would just send her straight to the looney bin.
Simmons and the previous victims all had visited Aphrodite’s temple the day before the symptoms appeared. That, at least, was a lead. Skye knew that the Ancient Greeks often went to temples to pray to the gods. They also used statuettes and idols.
When Skye walked down the streets of the old city, she did not pay any attention to the old stone walls or the tourists chatting away while eating ice cream. She went straight to the little shop Coulson and her had found a few days back; the statuette replicas of Aphrodite were still exactly where she had first saw them, right next to the cap of the temple she had bought. Skye paid, gave a tiny smile back to the cashier before rushing outside. The girl finally sat down behind a tree in a park, took the statuette out of her backpack and tried to look as inconspicuous as possible. Skye took a deep breath.
“Aphrodite?” she tried and immediately felt stupid. Well, it couldn’t hurt anyway. “Aphrodite?” Nothing. “I know you must be pretty busy being all godly and things but- huh, I really need your help.” Skye wasn’t above begging when it came to saving Simmons’ life.
She closed her eyes a moment and ran a hand through her hair. When she looked up again, she jumped in fright. Standing above her was the most beautiful woman Skye had ever seen. The tall, red-haired woman was gazing at her with piercing blue eyes that seemed to be looking right into Skye’s soul. Well, Skye could have sworn her eyes were blue just a second ago, and she realized with a start that they were constantly changing color – blue, grey, green – Skye was starting to feel dizzy. She looked down and noticed the same golden dust Simmons had found in the temple around Aphrodite’s feet.
“I can’t believe it actually worked,” she whispered. “Huh, you’re not going to kill me, are you?”
The goddess – alien, whatever – looked more and more confused by the second. “Why would I want to kill you when you so desperately need my help?” she asked. “I have been longing to assist mortals again,” she stated. Her voice was high pitched and clear and inexplicably reminded Skye of the running waters of a river. Skye noticed that the goddess was also wearing a white toga and that, more than anything else, startled a giggle out of her. The whole situation was beyond ridiculous.
“Is that what you’re doing?” she asked. “Because let me tell you, you’re making a poor job of it.”
“I must say mortals usually do not address me in such a way,” the goddess frowned.
“Well too bad, my friend’s in really bad shape because of you. Oh, and you also killed two people, by the way, did you know that?”
“I did not- What is the meaning of this? Everything changed so much I-” Aphrodite’s hands came to her forehead as she doubled over in pain.
Skye jumped to her feet and reached for the woman’s shoulder but thought better of it. “Hey, are you okay?” she asked quietly.
The woman nodded weakly. “I do not understand what is happening to me. I once was strong, as strong as any god of Olympus, as strong as Zeus himself.” She looked at Skye and the girl flinched at the pain she saw in the woman’s eyes. “The other Olympians- I could not find them. What happened to them? What happened to my family?”
“I hate to break it to you like that but nowadays you’re nothing more than a myth,” Skye explained. “And I don’t know about your other Olympian pals,” she said, waving her hand. “But I’m pretty sure they’re not around anymore.”
Aphrodite looked so lost Skye might have felt sorry for her – well, she did feel sorry for the woman – but she had more pressing matters. “Listen, I don’t know what you did to her but my friend is dying and I really need your help curing her. Can you do that?”
“I- Are you sure it was me who-” She did not seem to be able to complete the thought. Skye’s hunch checked out at least. Aphrodite looked pretty inoffensive to her.
“I’m sure,” she said quietly. “I’m sorry. Look, we might be able to help you, we have some experience with gods,” Skye told her. “But you need to come back with me right now.”
Aphrodite nodded weakly and Skye had to refrain dragging her along to the car. She did turn around a few times to check that the woman was following her, though. Skye tried not to scream with frustration when Aphrodite stopped in front of Lola and started to enquire after her “peculiar means of transportation”. Skye practically shoved the woman inside the car but tried to explain the working of the vehicle as best as she could during the journey back. When they finally got back to the Bus, the S.U.V. was there and Coulson and May were talking animatedly to Fitz.
It was May who spotted her first. “Skye!”
Coulson turned around. “Skye! Where have you been? I told you to stay inside,” he chastised.
“I know, I know, I’m sorry,” she told him as she got out of his car. “But look who I found,” she exclaimed with flourish.
Coulson and May turned to Aphrodite as though they only now noticed the presence of the second woman. May immediately pointed her gun at the stranger.
“Wow, May! Stop!” Skye exclaimed as she jumped in front of the goddess. When she looked down, though, May wasn’t holding a gun anymore. She was holding a bunch of wild flowers. “What the-”
“I mean you no harm,” Aphrodite told Coulson and May. “Weapons are not necessary.”
“The hell they aren’t,” May objected. She turned to Skye. “You know what she did to Simmons, what were you thinking?”
“I know dam well what she did to Simmons but it’s all just a misunderstanding-”
“A misunderstanding?” May parroted. “She killed two people!”
“I know that, but right now she’s the only one that can help Simmons, so back off.”
May glared at her but stepped out of the way. Skye gestured for Aphrodite to follow her and she led her to the infirmary. Simmons was still lying in bed, as pale as when Skye had left her a few hours ago. Fitz hurried after them and Skye filled him in on what had happened.
Skye heard Aphrodite gasp when she saw Simmons. “I do not understand what happened. I have helped many mortals find love, nothing of the sort has ever happened,” she explained.
“Can you help her?” Skye asked, squeezing Fitz’s hand for reinsurance.
Aphrodite gently put her hand on Simmons’ forehead. “I see what it is.”
“But can you help her?” Skye asked again.
Aphrodite looked at them. “You two, you are her friends? You care deeply about her, I can feel it.” Fitz and Skye nodded. Aphrodite extended her hands and beckon them to come closer. She took Fitz’s hand and put both their hands on Simmons’ arm, then she took Skye’s hand with her right hand and gently put it on Simmons’ forehead. Aphrodite closed her eyes and started to chant. Skye had never heard anything like it before. It was as though the goddess was reaching deep inside of her, calling out emotions Skye had not let herself feel in a long, long time – years, in fact – as though they were suddenly brought to the surface all at once. She felt all of them pouring out of her, reaching out to Simmons. Skye felt overwhelmed, she took several deep breaths and forced herself not to let go of Aphrodite’s hand. She could not say how much time had passed but when Aphrodite finally released her hand, tears were rolling freely down Skye’s cheeks. She saw Fitz discreetly wiping tears off his own face. She looked down at Simmons just in time to see her eyes flutter open.
“Simmons!” she exclaimed and hugged her. It was only with her face buried in Simmons’ hair that Skye realized she was not allowed to do this anymore. She let go quickly but Simmons was still smiling at them, albeit looking a little confused.
“What happened?” she asked.
“You gave us quite the fright,” Coulson said as he entered the room with May and Ward. They had obviously been outside the room this all time. “You started to exhibit the same symptoms as the others.”
“Yeah,” Simmons said quietly. “I remember- huh-”
“Well, Skye found a way to cure you,” Coulson explained.
“Actually,” Skye cut in. “It was Aphrodite, really.”
“I could not have saved you without Skye and Leo’s help, you are lucky to call them your friends,” the goddess said.
Simmons smiled. “I know.” She tried to stand up but winced in pain.
Coulson put a comforting hand on her shoulder. “You’ve been through a lot, you should take it easy for now. We should let you rest.” Ward gave her a nod and left the room quietly, May patted her leg before following Ward outside. “Glad to have you back,” Coulson told her.
Skye nodded. She realized that Simmons was about to say something, maybe call her name but Skye left the room before Simmons could make a sound. Fitz was left alone to fuss over Simmons.
Skye led Aphrodite to the common area where Coulson, May and Ward had already taken place on the couch.
“I wanted to thank you for what you did today,” Coulson told Aphrodite when the two women sat down.
Aphrodite bowed her head. “It was the least I could do. Believe me when I say that I am truly sorry for what happened.”
“Do you know what caused this reaction?” Coulson asked.
“Actually,” Skye cut in. “I might have an explanation for this. I came across a few theories while I was researching Greek myths and some people seemed to think that the powers of the Gods came directly from the people worshipping them.”
“You speak the truth,” Aphrodite answered. “We used to draw our power from our people and in exchange we offered them protection. When I was taken from Olympus, this planet was very different. During my captivity, I longed to see those beautiful valleys again, I longed to see my family again and to be reunited with them on Olympus. My people needed me, they had built me a lovely temple by the seaside and everyday people would come to ask for my help with matters of the heart.”
“We went there, beautiful place,” Coulson agreed.
“You say you were taken,” May noted. “Who took you?”
“A vicious race of shapeshifters. They held me captive for more than a thousand years and when I finally escaped, it took me nearly as long to come back to Earth,” she explained. “Now my family is gone. I did not want to believe it but I know it is the truth. It is as you said, Skye. They must have faded away slowly as the humans forgot about them. I feel it affecting me now. It affects my abilities. Soon I will not have any power left inside of me. I missed them so much. Even my husband, Hephaistos. And now they are all gone.”
Ward shifted uncomfortably, Coulson and May glanced at each other awkwardly.
Skye took Aphrodite’s hand. “We were the most powerful beings in this universe, even more powerful than the Titans. Now that I am back on Earth, it is only a matter of time before I fade away like the rest of my family.”
“You don’t have to stay on Earth,” Skye said suddenly.
“She doesn’t?” Ward asked.
“She doesn’t,” Coulson confirmed. “How do you feel about Asgard?” he asked the goddess.
Aphrodite blinked. “Well, you might say I had a thing for Thor back in the days.”
May rolled her eyes. “Who doesn’t?”
They arranged a meeting with Maria Hill as soon as they came back to American soil. The Agent was clearly skeptical about the whole thing but arranged a meeting with Thor – who as it turned out was apparently a close friend of Doctor Jane Foster who had been in contact with S.H.I.E.L.D. before – and Skye was baffled to see that the God of Thunder was just a phone call away. While Agent Hill and Coulson were discussing the technicalities of Aphrodite’s departure – Agent Hill would be the one explaining the situation to Thor – the goddess came to Skye who was standing on the bay.
“This is farewell, then,” the goddess said. “Thank you, Skye, for all that you did for me.”
“Thank you for curing Simmons,” she replied.
“You need not worry,” Aphrodite added after a moment of silence. Skye frowned. “Your friend was confused and scared, you will see that this is not the case anymore. This is why I tried to help her, when she came to the temple I could feel her distress and as I once did, I tried to help her find the right path. It is up to her now, and you. Whatever you do, do not underestimate the power of love. It is a power older than the world itself. I am not only talking of romantic love. Familial love is just as important, you should hold on to it.”
For once, Skye was at a loss for words. Did she just receive relationship advice from the goddess of love herself? She cleared her throat awkwardly. “Thanks, I’ll think about it.”
As she watched her go, Skye thought that maybe Aphrodite might just be okay after all – in a few hundred years, with the help of her fellow gods slash aliens.
Skye was more affected by Aphrodite’s story that she would have liked, she went to her bunk and stayed there for gods only know how long, just staring quietly at the ceiling. A proper room all of her own was something she had not had in a very long time. The Bus was not a proper house of course – it was much better, in a way – and the team was some sort of mismatched family but it was as close as she’d ever got to having a home.
She heard a knock on her door. When she looked up, she saw Simmons standing awkwardly in the doorway.
“Are you supposed to be out of the infirmary?” she asked, sitting up.
“I’m the doctor here,” Simmons reminded her as she closed the door behind her.
“Doesn’t mean you get to check yourself out of the infirmary,” Skye replied but a smile made its way to her lips anyway.
“I needed to talk to you,” Simmons said and just like that Skye tensed up again.
“Look Simmons, I-” Skye started but Simmons hold up a hand to stop her.
“I think I should be apologizing to you,” Simmons declared. She still looked a bit awkward about the whole situation but she held Skye’s gaze resolutely. “My behavior these past few days has been appalling and I’m sorry.”
“It’s okay, you don’t have to-”
“Yes, I do. We’re friends and I shouldn’t have pushed you away like I did, I just- I had some things to work out as you can guess, and then this whole situation with Aphrodite was just too much to handle.”
“My timing could have been better,” Skye underlined.
Simmons nodded absentmindedly. “Well, May actually talked to me about personal matters because I wasn’t focused on the mission so I think we’re both to blame here.”
“True,” Skye nodded. “May kind of gave me a lecture too,” Skye made a face.
“I’m sorry,” Simmons said again.
“Wasn’t your fault.”
“So- does everyone knows about this or-” Simmons asked hesitantly.
“Well, May does – obviously. She kind of clued me in on why you were avoiding me. Coulson knows too, he found you passed out in the bathroom when I was just wearing a bathrobe, after all.” Simmons hid her face in her hands and groaned.
“Hey, it’s okay, Coulson was really cool about it all,” Skye said as she took Simmons’ arm and made her sit down. “Considering he probably didn’t think he would be caught in this type of situation when he signed up. Sorry for knocking you out, by the way,” Skye added as an afterthought.
“You don’t have to apologize, I practically attacked you.”
“Hey, I don’t know what you remember but I wasn’t exactly complaining. Well, except for the part when you were under alien influence, that sucked, but the other part-” She waggled her eyebrows and Simmons laughed out loud. Skye wanted to kiss her again, and that’s exactly what she did.
Simmons gasped but kissed back eagerly and Skye lost her balance. She fell back, her head hitting the pillow and Simmons pressed against her, kissing along Skye’s neck.
“I’m sorry,” Simmons whispered against her skin.
“t’s okay,” Skye sighed as she kissed her again and again.
“I really am, though.”
“Yeah, yeah, I know.”