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The Fires In Which We Burn

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As usual, it all goes to hell just when it looked like things would work out.

Bullets are flying through the ancient temple. Skye is pinned down in an alcove near the dais, and she can see her father laying there bleeding out in front of the pedestal on which he’d placed the Obelisk before it opened up, blossoming like a flower to reveal a dazzling crystal inside of it. Ward is directly across from her in an opposite alcove, shooting into the back of the temple as Skye shoots into the front. She doesn’t know whether he’s firing at SHIELD agents, Hydra thugs, or local inhabitants. Right now she doesn’t care. She’s just trying to find an opening to dash over and see if her father - her father!!! - is even still alive.

It’s hard to see what she’s shooting at, though. The sunlight from the opening in the roof strikes the crystal from the Obelisk and reflects at crazy angles, making the open dais super bright while the rest of the temple is in the dark. She watches for glints of a gun firing at her, and shoots back. She’s grateful she’s carrying an ICER today, so she doesn’t have to worry about killing one of her own on accident. Thought it’d still be a bad idea.

From the pedestal, she hears a pained groan and sees her father move slightly. Her heart leaps up into her throat - thank god, he’s still alive! - and she takes out another shooter then takes a chance to dash across to him. Ward is shouting at her, but she ignores him as she slides up to the man on the floor, gripping his hand.

“The diviner…” he rasps out, then coughs up blood onto Skye’s hands. She just grips him tighter. “It’s all yours… you have to… you can’t let them…” He’s coughing again and she leans close to listen as his voice grows faint. “You can save her,” he rasps. “You can fix it, fix us, you… you…”

She doesn’t stop the tears from falling as he struggles to speak, then simply squeezes her hands and lets go . She thinks she screams, tries to shake him a bit. Everything is muffled, nothing feels right, for that moment, all she feels is the loss and rage of losing her father again before she really even found him. She irrationally hates everything: she hates SHIELD, she hates Hydra, she hates damned Peggy Carter for leaving the damned Obelisk in a freaking warehouse where anyone could get to it and start this whole damned mess instead of destroying it like she should have…

Dimly, she can hear Ward shouting again, and then he cries out in pain. She looks up to see he’s fallen and dropped his gun. He’s struggling to get back up, and she follows his line of sight to the threat. Whitehall. Whitehall is striding through the room, heedless of the firefight around them. His gaze is intent on the crystal.

Something white hot shoots through Skye. He will not take it! She won’t let anyone take the one thing she has from her family. Standing, she reaches for the crystal. Ward shouts again, this time in horror as he warns her not to touch it, that she can’t -

Her fingers wrap around the facets of the crystal and the world goes white. For a moment, the only things that exist are Skye and the Crystal as it glows brighter than a star. Wind whips around her, pulling at her hair and her clothes, though it burns like a fire only countered by the iciness of the Crystal in her hand. She wants to close her eyes against it, but she’s frozen, captured by the Crystal and whatever it’s doing.

Then the universe tears itself apart.

{ ~ S.H.I.E.L.D. ~ }

She’s lying on a cold cement floor. She stays there, taking slow breaths as the fog dissipates from her thoughts. Slowly, she remembers who she is, what she was doing. She feels a pang of fear as she wonders what happened - are the others all right? Her eyes spring open and she pushes herself up -

- and she’s in a warehouse.

Skye looks around in confusion. What happened to the temple? Where did everyone go? She brushes her hair out of her face and stands up, wincing as her muscles creak and ache as though she’d been lying on that floor for hours. The lighting is dim, with only a few lights scattered around for security purposes. The open storage shelves around her are full of boxes, all coded by numbers. Patting herself down, Skye can’t find a weapon - she must have dropped her ICER when she went for her father.

her father is dead he’s dead he’s dead he’s

Shaking herself, she cautiously makes her way to the end of the aisle and looks around. She sees a door and runs over to open it - of course, it’s locked. And she doesn’t see anything lying around to pick her way through it. She turns around to search for another way out just as a guard comes around a corner with a flashlight.

Startled, he raises the beam straight into her face and she winces, putting her hands up to show she’s unarmed. “How did you get in here?” the guard stammers, finally thinking to bring his gun up to train on her.

She smiles wanly. “Would you believe me if I said I don’t know?”

Of course he doesn’t believe her. Skye wouldn’t believe that excuse herself if it wasn’t coming from her own lips. With a speed that doesn’t match his introductory demeanor, the guard calls for backup over a radio, and soon Skye is sitting in a holding cell. She’s told three people already that she doesn’t know how she got into the warehouse, that she doesn’t even know what warehouse she’s in, and can she please speak to someone in charge?

So they make her wait. She paces in the small cell, trying to keep herself active so her mind won’t wander. But of course it does. She’s worried about her team, and what happened at the temple. She’s worried about Ward of all people, the image of him struggling to warn her as he lay bleeding on the floor coming up over and over again. But most of all, she keeps shoving away the memory of her father dying in her hands as he tried to tell her something, but she doesn’t want to think about it and it doesn’t make any sense anyway. So she paces, and runs through mental exercises she learned from May, and does everything she can to keep the ghosts away.

Finally, someone comes in to retrieve her and takes her to a room with a table and chairs. She assumes they finally found someone to turn her over to, so someone else can figure out what to do with her. Before she can sit, another woman walks into the room and Skye’s mouth drops open in shock.

The woman before her wears a trim skirt suit that swirled about her knees, and no-nonsense low heels. Her hair is pulled up away from her face, and her eyes scan Skye with a keen intelligence. But what shocks Skye is that she recognizes this woman. Not that they’ve met, but she’s seen pictures of course.

“Hello,” the woman says in a light British accent, holding out her hand. “My name is -“

Peggy Carter,” Skye breathes.

{ ~ S.H.I.E.L.D. ~ }

 


 

Story title is from a quote: "Time is the school in which we learn, time is the fire in which we burn." ~ Delmore Schwartz
Chapter title is from: "Time is a brisk wind, for each hour it brings something new... but who can understand and measure its sharp breath, its mystery and its design?" ~Paracelsus

I don't seriously think the midseason is going to go this direction, but the "what if" occurred to me and won't let me go.