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Their going to rescue Ward and Fitz had cut into the plane’s scheduled maintenance work, and they had landed on one of S.H.I.E.L.D’s smaller outposts when he called Skye into his office. She came in looking apprehensive, probably thinking she’d done something wrong again, which made the first thing he said. “Don’t worry; you’re not in trouble.”

“That’s good,” she smirked, trying to hide that she’d even been worried about that.

“In fact,” he continued, “I want your advice. Close the door.”

When it was closed, he said, “I hope you’ll be willing to keep this, at least, to yourself, but I want to make a phone call without S.H.I.E.L.D. even knowing who I’m calling. I use any of the official lines and they’ll know who at the very least, unless you can give me some advice.”

“I see.” She looked very pleased. “Well, to make it easy, you could just use my cellphone. Unless there actually is a bug on there I haven’t found, but believe me, I’ve scoured it top to bottom. Of course, that I haven’t found a thing has left me worried I’ve missed something...”

“If there have been any bugs put in your phone I haven’t been told about them,” he told her. “Have you ever left it unattended in the general vicinity of any agents besides the six of us?”

“No,” said Skye immediately. “I’ve deliberately been careful of avoiding that kind of thing.”

“Then I’m willing to believe it’s clean,” he said. There shouldn’t have been a need to bug it, anyway, he thought; the bracelet let them know enough about Skye’s current activities that they didn’t really need to further spy on her. He would have been more iron-clad certain that it was clean before their trip to the Hub, but he was certain enough.

“All right, then,” she said. “It’s available for whenever you want it. Would you like it now?”

“Yes, thank you,” he said. Best to do this before he lost his nerve, while his anger at how S.H.I.E.L.D. had nearly gotten his two people killed was still driving him to break the rules in this way.

Maybe Skye was worried about his losing his nerve for being disobedient too; when she left his office he heard her running down the plane, before running back; she was holding the phone up in her hands when she came back in. “Here you go. An unsupervised phone line, get it while it’s hot, no refunds, no warranty.”

He had to smile at that, but he felt himself grow tense as she placed the phone in his hand, some part of him demanding to know why he was doing this, even though he knew, deep down, it was the right thing to do. Had always known; he was sorry he hadn’t done it much earlier. She read his change of mood, asking, “You want privacy? I’ll wait outside.” Not trusting him any more than necessary with the phone if she was waiting, but he could forgive that.

Left alone, he was shocked by how his hands were trembling, making it hard to dial. As he heard the first ring in his ear, he mentally begged for a quick answer, before he panicked and disconnected.

There was a quick enough answer; on the second ring he heard a voice he had previously barred himself from ever hearing again answer, “Hello?”

“Mom?” His voice was choked up. “Mom, it’s Phil. I’m alive.”