There is a beautiful woman who says she loves you. This woman wears a floral dress and sometimes you believe what she says.
You punch her in the face and later Coulson berates you, saying it was unnecessary and excessive, but he gives you a little smile and you know you did the right thing.
You can’t help it. You’ve fallen in love with the sunshine team and they’ve done the same thing with you. It’s so easy to be happy with these people, so convenient, like you’ve come home after a long day. This sensation burns inside, but it’s one you don’t mind.
Another new feeling is that you’re suddenly protective over people who don’t need your help. Before this the most defending you’ve ever done is for kids in foster homes who don’t know how to stand up for themselves. But the fact that these people don’t need you for whatever reason cements the fact that you’d sacrifice yourself for them.
You do, eventually, in the form of two bullets.
More on that later.
You fall for Ward. (Ward fell for Simmons once, you think, and then laugh a bit to yourself).
Agent Grant Ward, who is logical, sweet, considerate. You catch yourself looking at him the same way you used to look at cheap fuel and food handouts (being homeless had a lasting impact).
And he’s stable, so stable you’re pretty sure you could build a house on his shoulders if you wanted to. Agent Grant Ward, beautiful and stable, and who might love you back.
Being patient Skye is almost harder than surviving being shot twice. You would die for Jemma a hundred times over, but when she forces you back into bed you want to put your hands around her neck.
"Rest," she urges you, and you try really hard, honestly. Your curl yourself into a ball, getting tangled in a shitload of IVs, and squeeze your eyes tight.
From under the covers you can see the light in your room change, in the way you know means that someone is standing at the doorway. You give yourself a few seconds before you peer out so you don’t seem overly eager, especially if it’s Ward visiting- which he’s been doing a lot, much to your pleasure.
You bring the sheet down to your chin, and to your mixed horror and confusion, see the girl with the flower dress.
"Good morning, Skye," she says, her words like honey.
"Shut up," you reply, "You’re in jail. And it’s afternoon."
"Both true," she mumurs as she takes a seat on the end of your bed. "But don’t let that stop you, sweetheart."
Fantastic, you think, she’s even vague and seductive in your dreams.
"Why you? I mean, we’ve never even talked."
"I don’t know what people have been telling you, Skye, but dreams aren’t supposed to be based in reality." She has a point, you concede, but she’s still annoying. What, you couldn’t have got a dream Ward? Dream Miles?
"What are you thinking about?" Raina asks you.
"Aren’t you part of my mind? You tell me," you shoot back and she rolls her eyes.
"I’m going to sleep," you lie, "go bother someone else."
Ward works for HYDRA and Simmons is pulling at your arm, telling you to leave it.
Ward works for HYDRA and he has the grace to look vaguely apologetic about it.
Ward works for HYDRA and you punch him right on the jaw.
Ward works for HYDRA and you can cry later.
You meet her for the second time in HYRDA headquarters when she offers you a gun and presses her fingers to her lips.
"Don’t you work for the Clairvoyant?" you hiss at her, having been betrayed enough to know not to turn your back to her.
"Haven’t you heard, sweetheart? The Clairvoyant doesn’t exist." Great, you’ve got a cynical double agents on your hands. However, she does shoot down the next few HYDRA agents that come at you, so you part on good terms.
There is a beautiful woman who says she loves you. This woman pulls her teeth back into a smile like a hunter. You think it’s the most incredible thing you’ve ever seen.
Coulson breaths deeply.
"You let her go?"
You’ve never had a disappointed father but you imagine this is what it’s like. May doesn’t look impressed either, not that you can ever tell, and Fitzsimmons seem worried. Triplett’s face is screwed up in anxious apprehension.
This isn’t like before, when they found out you were working for the Rising Tide. This is an working relationship. A compromise.
Still. Coulson isn’t happy.
"My name’s Skye," you say. "I don’t think we’ve had a proper introduction."
She smiles. Knowingly. On other people, you would hate that smile. It’s a social worker smile. But she wears it like jewelry, the expensive shit, and it suits her.
You don’t see her for a while after that. You don’t need to.
It must be your fate to fall in love with people who want to kill you because when the team finds her standing over Garrett’s body, you can feel all rational thoughts leaving your brain.
Coulson barks orders to arrest her, and May follows them with vigor. A laugh bubbles inside of you as Simmons gasps beside you. It’s not wrong to be happy that this man is dead, it can’t be, after all he’s done.
Raina clearly shares the same line of thought. She’s wearing handcuffs and beaming. Happiness works well on her, much as it does on you.
The similarities between you and a murderer are starting to bother you.
Doing something twice is not a habit, but it’s not a coincidence either.
You don’t know how you’ll explain to Coulson that you let her go again, so you just follow her.
"Go back to the ship," Raina throws over her shoulder.
"No," you shout back, and rush to catch up.
Okay, admittedly, running away with your evil ex-boyfriend’s co-worker isn’t in your top 5 best ideas.
You complain that it’s cold and she gives you such a withering glare you think you might melt. She seems to know what she’s doing, at least, they haven’t been caught yet (or maybe Coulson really is her guardian angel).
"So what’s the plan?" You try asking her, but she doesn’t reply (you didn’t really expect her to).
There is a beautiful woman who says she loves you. This woman knows everything about you, more than you could ever tell her, more than you would ever want to.
"I have a plan," she says later that night, when you’re curled up on separate sides of a burlap sack.
"I know," you reply, and completely by accident find yourself believing her. And you wish she would tell you what it was.
Neither of you exist, according to what’s left of SHIELD. You know because you hacked their database and your file had been erased. It’s awkward, you suppose, that a senior officer invited a homeless hacker to work for them and then you ran away with someone on their hitlist.
It briefly occurs to you that the others hate you. Coulson, the first real family you’ve ever had, and May who was always there for you when you needed her, Fitzsimmons, whose faces you can still see when you close your eyes.
"What are you thinking about?" Raina asks nonchalantly and you shiver.
"Nothing important," you reply, and the look that passes her face makes it clear she knows you’re lying. In a lot of ways you can’t stand her- smugger than anyone you’ve ever met, though prettier too.
Oh. That’s strange. Where did that come from?
"You can say I kidnapped you," Raina says softly, "that you had no choice."
It’s not the first time she’s tried to get you to go back- you’re pretty sure she views you as a nuisance more than anything, a little SHIELD runaway. But this time is different. It’s quiet, hesitant. Like she’s scared you’ll do it.
Her voice. It’s just- you think if sex had a sound, it would be when she’s just woken up and she incredulously asks you what you’re doing.
Or when she says your name and you-
She’s killed someone while you were out picking up groceries. You get back to the hotel room and nothing’s different, she’s going about her usual business, but she’s changed. There’s an air about her.
"Who?" you ask and without looking up, she replies "I don’t know. He tried to pull a gun."
You sit opposite her. Maybe you should be bothered about this- she’s just murdered someone whose name she doesn’t even know- but it doesn’t. In a weird way, she reminds you of Melinda May when she gets like this, so professional and uncaring.
"Well done," you say, and she she gives you a strange look.
It takes eight minutes for the light from the sun to reach the Earth. The closest star to the earth could burn itself into oblivion and it would take eight minutes for you to know about it.
You and Raina wait on a rooftop for a HYDRA agent to meet a businessman down below. She is holding a gun in her left hand, and you know if you reached out and touched it, it would be smooth and cold.
The night air is chilling you, and you keep pulling the blanket she brought onto you. Her nose wrinkles every time, and it’s so cute it gives you more incentive.
You’re trying to tell her about the time you, Jemma, and Leo went to a bar in Dublin and got kicked out for disorderly behavior as Raina continuously shushes you.
"But Fitz was still pissed at the first bar owner," you say, "and Simmons wanted to forget about it and go home."
"Either be quiet or go back to the hotel room," she says pointedly, and you do neither. You’re detailing Coulson’s reaction when he found when the pair of you start getting shot at.
Raina shoves you, harder than strictly necessary and you roll to the side as she leans over the edge of the building, shooting back. You hear a thud, and her smirk confirms your suspicions.
"We’ve been made," she says, pulling you up. You scramble onto your feet at the same time she tries to pull you towards the stairs, leading you to be thrust a lot closer to her than either of you anticipated.
You never meant to be holding hands with a traitor on a rooftop, breathing each other’s air and keeping each other’s secrets. But here you are.
And fuck it, hasn’t this been coming since the day you met her?
You kiss her, and you’ll be damned if it’s not glorious.
It gets so much simpler after that.
You don’t have to pretend that this is a relationship of convenience anymore- you can sleep in each others bed, you whisper terrible jokes to her and she acts like she’s annoyed.
It’s easier to believe her when she lies to you (which she does frequently) and you give yourself permission to have fun, tickling her in the mornings and pinching her under the table when you have dinner.
And another thing- Raina is the laziest lay you’ve ever had. She rubs her hand between your legs like it’s a chore and when you kiss her neck, she tilts her head back in the same way she does when she’s annoyed at you.
That’s not to say it’s not fun. And that sometimes you wake up with an aching back that’s entirely worth it.
She knows you miss the team, though she stopped suggesting you go back months ago. That’s the problem with firsts- you don’t forget your first family, any more than you could forget your first name.
You’re wearing her singlet and tracing lines across her back when she says “Don’t leave.”
"I won’t," you say automatically. You’ve given the same response to other children in foster care. You wait until she relaxes against your palms and say "why?"
"I don’t want you to," she replies, and it’s beautiful. You’re wanted and it’s beautiful.
There’s a girl who loves you. Who hasn’t said she loves you, but she does. A girl who kills people (though you pretend she doesn’t). A girl who lies (and you love it).
You fuck in the back seat of cars and go to the movies, pretend to be normal, act like you’re happy. A girl who loves. What a fairytale ending.
Except it’s not the ending.
Leo Fitz’s number lights up your cell phone. He shouldn’t know how to contact you- you’ve changed your number at least five times since you’ve left the team. The question of how flickers across your mind and you do something stupid.
You answer the call.
Jemma Simmons looks small in the hospital bed. It’s a remote town in Russia, and Simmons’ body is still. You’re not crying, though Fitz, who stands behind you, is. You forgot how much you loved them.
"Why’d you leave?" May says from the doorway. She shouldn’t care. It was so long ago and she never even liked you and Simmons is dying, so why does she care?
Coulson isn’t here. Maybe Fitz told him you were coming. Your chest tightens at the thought of having to look at him.
And then you are crying. That’s the thing about being in love- it’s not exclusive.
Raina is waiting in the hotel room. Concern lines her face as she kisses you and in that moment you hate her, hate her for caring about you and for making you stay.
"I’m sorry," she whispers into your mouth, "you didn’t deserve this."
Like you’re the one in pain. Like you’re the one with your best friend sitting next to your hospital bed and your parents don’t even know who you work for.
"She’s like a sister," you sob burying your hands in her hair.
"I know," she replies, though she doesn’t.
Coulson sits next to Jemma’s bed.
The man who has never had a daughter. The woman who has never had a father.
You hug him so hard you think your ribs are going to crack. You hope they do.
You take two people who have nothing and they create the best family you’ve ever seen. That’s just the way it is.
Raina tries to make you laugh. Largely, it works.
She kisses trails up your neck and tells you about the time John Garrett had tried to get her and Ward to play poker together.
"He was so set on us being the perfect team," she laughs "but I guess that title was already taken."
You do laugh. And later, you cry.
"Thank you," Coulson says quietly. Jemma’s eyes opened two hours ago, and May was the only one who cried quietly. You called Raina- the two of them have never met but she sounded overjoyed, and it was such a welcome sound.
The words are out of your mouth. The words you didn’t want to say tumble out of your mouth and you mean every syllable.
"Do you want me to stay?"
There is a beautiful woman who says she loves you.