"Things got messy but-ur -I mean was the only way that Yo-Yo-" Fitz reasoned, his stutter returning as Mack stared him down like he was a criminal.
"When did killing become the only way?" Mack replied, the sentence hanging in the air like a bad odor.
"None of this would have happened if you said this invincible nonsense wasn't real."
None of this would have happened if.
Fitz laughed bitterly to himself. How that sentence has haunted him when he thought back to his time on the Bus, little did he know what would face him: Ward, Inhumans, Maveth, AIDA, the framework, space, now.
"No wonder you're so damaged." Smirked the Doctor, the cold, calculating lilt in his voice.
"... but instead you and Simmons have lit the match and now Yo-Yo is responsible for a girl's death." Continued Mack, saying things Fitz had already thought about a thousand times over.
"I'm sorry. I really am. But it's not that simple."
“What’s simple-” began Mack, stepping towards Fitz who backed away slightly, before leaning on the wall for support as Mack continued.
“No. Not always” Answered Fitz - it felt like barely a whisper, his voice small in an attempt to defuse the situation. He could hardly look Mack in the eye when he spoke about sacrifice.
He watched as Mack’s head drooped and looked away, the look of disappointment visible in every single cell.
“Of course you’d say that.” Sighed Mack dejectedly, a sentence that drove straight into Fitz’s being. He could feel his body starting to flood with all the emotions, threatening to spill over as a tight sensation ran across his chest; he wanted Mack to forgive him, he wanted Mack to understand him.
“Ruby was dangerous and it got complicated and that is just the way it was.” Exploded Fitz, trying so desperately to keep calm but feeling his control slipping away. “So i’m sorry if it doesn’t fit with-” Fitz took a breath as his voice thickened and broke, begging for tears not to fall out of frustration, “whatever narrative that you’ve built for yourself.”
Fitz turned away, not being able to bear it any longer before Mack’s voice cut through his thoughts. “You need to look inside yourself and find out what kind of man you want to be. ‘Cos lately what you’ve been… it needs fixing.” Said Mack before turning his back and leaving Fitz, alone.
It had only been mere moments since Mack turned his back but Fitz couldn’t get his look disappointment out of his mind. It had been branded there with his words cutting into him. An endless cycle of “what ifs” raced through his mind but he kept coming back to the same thing: It got complicated but it was the right thing to do. And everytime, Mack would turn away from him and Daisy and Elena and Deke and maybe eventually Simmons.
Fitz wringed his hands together as he fought to suppress the voice of the Doctor who was getting louder and louder as he battled with himself.
A fury swept through Fitz as he thought back to the times where he had been betrayed or had his trust broken - Mack and his alliance with the “real S.H.I.E.L.D.”, Daisy and Hive, Coulson on Maveth but that just didn’t seem to matter.
“That’s it, Leopold, get angry.” Encouraged the Doctor.
Fitz hit his fist against the wall to try and bring his emotions back to the shore. His head slumped against his arm as his temples pounded. Fitz took shuddering breaths, feeling like he did when he was recovering from the bottom of the ocean.
“Recovery” was an interesting choice of words. He’d had trauma after trauma with barely a breath to recover, no wonder he’d become this person. This person fighting for his identity that his teammates couldn’t seem to accept. All he wanted was to be understood - not even forgiven; he’s sure he’s beyond that - he wanted them to understand that he was calling for help.
When Fitz was recovering, he felt like everyone had given up on him, tossed him to one side like a toy that was never to be picked up again. Mack helped him, treated him normally and now Fitz had to watch him walk away, all because of him.
“You are too weak to deal with your actions.” Sneered the Doctor.
Fitz hit his forehead, “Stop!”
The Doctor just continued.
Fitz continued to hit his forehead, repeating and repeating “stop”, praying that the voice would just disappear. His back slid down the wall and felt the walls closing in further and further. His knees were hugged into himself and he began banging his head against the wall, like he was back in that prison cell, “Stop. Please.” Fitz begged to the Doctor who just stood over him in disgust before morphing back into Mack’s disappointed face.
Simmons was on her way to their room when she heard a repetitive thumping sound. She frowned, producing an I.C.E.R. which she had found herself having to carry round. The sound was constant and unwavering but sometimes loud and then more muffled. The corridor was quiet except for the thudding and Jemma briefly considered turning round to find someone else - it would probably be Deke.
“No.” she thought. She could handle this.
Jemma raised her I.C.E.R. before she turned the corner and took a breath, ready for whatever she was about to find.
Nothing could have prepared her for this.
The gun dropped from her hands and clattered to the floor. Simmons scrambled over to Fitz who was banging his head, over and over and over. He was muttering to himself - a hostage to his mind. He didn't even seem to recognise her presence.
“Hey, Fitz, it’s me, it’s Jemma.” Soothed Simmons in an attempt to calm Fitz down. He looked up at her and widened his eyes. He had tear tracks carving their way down his cheeks and a look of raw anguish.
“Come on, Fitz, he’s not here. It’s just me and I’m fine, I’m safe.” As Simmons said her words, Fitz’s breaths began to slow down. Eventually, the head-hitting stopped and all Simmons wanted to do was get him straight to medical but Fitz needed her to listen.
“It’s just us, don’t worry. Talk to me.” Assured Simmons. She shuffled so that she was in-front of Fitz, almost like she was shielding him.
Fitz took a few deep breaths, “It’s Mack,” he started, dropping his head slightly, “He thinks I need fixing... and he's probably right.”
“I’m sure it was just said in the heat of the moment, he’s hurting right now. He doesn't really think that.” Reasoned Jemma, hoping that what she was saying about Mack was true.
“But you should have seen the way he looked at me, Jem.” Replied Fitz, voice small. Jemma put her hand on his arm, encouraging him to continue, “He looked at me like I was a HYDRA criminal. He helped me when no one else did. I just want him to understand, I just want him to-” Fitz began to hyperventilate again, chest constricting because it all meant so much.
“It’s okay, take your time.”
“I just want Mack to realise that I’m ill. We’ve all been through so much and I’m traumatised. I try so hard to be the man he thinks I can be and all I want is for him to recognise that I’m just different now and that I need help. I need his support, I just wish....” Fitz explained before breaking down into tears again, his friendship with Mack was more like brotherhood. That's why it all hurt so much.
He laid his head against Jemma’s shoulder as she traced circles over his back. Jemma never wanted to see her husband like this but they were a team, they would work through it together.
“Is that why you were hitting your head?” Simmons asked tentatively.
“The Doctor got so loud, I couldn’t work out any other way to suppress him - or at least dull him out. I have so much I want to say, to apologise for, but I just can’t get the words out. I feel so helpless.” Fitz explained.
“You’ll get there soon, Fitz. We’ll get there,” Promised Jemma, “Mack will come round, Fitz, I know it. He’ll respect your honesty.”
Fitz nodded, with a little uncertainty, and placed a kiss to Jemma’s temple.
“The steps you take don’t have to be big,”
“They just have to be in the right direction.”