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Bringing The Band Back Together

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Chapter 1

Disclaimer: I don' own anything.

AN1: Post AOS season 2 and Avengers Age of Ultron. Once upon a time Phil Coulson, Melinda May, Natasha Romanoff, Maria Hill and Clint Barton were the perfect team, under Fury's command, and now after everything that has happened Coulson wants his team back, but after everything that has happened will that be possible? SLIGHT AU.

No May leaving. No Simmons getting eaten by space rock. No Barton Family and No Natasha/Bruce romance.


"We're not bringing the band back together again, it's over" Words that Maria Hill said to him over a year ago still ring in Phil' Coulson's ears as he lays in his bed, just like they have every night since he heard them while he tries to sleep, something which has been even more elusive to him since the battle on the carrier ten weeks ago. Looking down at his prosthetic hand that Fitz and Simmons recently fit him with Phil realises that he can't just lay in bed anymore so he gets up and heads to the kitchen.

When Phil arrives down at the kitchen he finds that he isn't the only one who can't sleep. Seeing the figure he almost turns back around and heads back to bed as he doesn't want company, but when he realises that it's Melinda he heads back to the kitchen as Melinda is the one person he would be okay with being around right now.

"Hey." Phil says walking in.

"Hi." Melinda responds, "There's some hot chocolate on the stove. I made too much, you're welcome to it." She says.

"Like always." Phil says with a grin, "Thanks." Phil says walking over and getting himself a cup before attempting to pour the chocolate in the glass but dropping it, "DAMN IT." He says angrily.

"It's okay. It's not the first accident in this kitchen." Melinda tells her best friend as she helps clean up the mess. "Hell, didn't you and Clint use to keep a tally of all the accidents I caused in our first place together?" Melinda asks, trying to make Phil feel better.

"That's because it got ridicules." Phil says as he sits down on one of the chairs as he does he realises something, "I haven't thought about that place in soo long"

"That's because it was dump, and we only lived there because we didn't want to live on base anymore." Melinda says as she grabs more chocolate.

"Didn't want? I don't think we had much of a choice in the matter." Phil says, remember that after one too many pranks Clint and Melinda got all three of them kicked out of base bunks even though he had nothing to do with the pranks.

"That's because no one had a sense of humour." Melinda says as continues to make more hot chocolate.

"Sense of humour? You two made a river of sardines travel through the halls, it was disgusting, Melinda, not funny." Phil says, finding him slipping into calling May by her first name without even realising it.

"We may have gone a bit over the top." Melinda comments.

"More than a bit." Phil corrects, "And of course even though I had nothing to do with it I got kicked out too."

"I'm pretty sure that was because Fury expected you to try and control us a bit and seeing as how you didn't he punished you too." Melinda says, looking amused with a slight smile something which is seen far too rarely on Melinda's face which Phil is happy to see.

"He should have known that you two didn't listen to anyone, and once Natasha joined you got so much worse." Phil says.

"We listened." Melinda objects, "Usually it took you and Maria, but we did listen." She says, stressing the and.

"Only when you wanted to." Phil corrects, "Do you ever think about the old days? About the team the five of us used to be?" He asks, as he, Melinda, Natasha, Clint and Maria were a team who took the most dangerous the most important missions. They answered to Fury himself and they liked it like that. The five of them had a very different relationship with the former director than other agents which lead many people to nickname them 'Fury's Favourites'.

"Yeah, a lot." Melinda admits, "The team that Bobbi, Hunter, Skye, Fitz, Simmons and Mack are becoming remind me of us."

"Me too." Phil admits.

"I recommended Maria for Gonzales's vacant position as head the council." Melinda reveals, as they spent weeks picking the person for the open general spot and have only just recently started to talk about who will take over Gonzales's position.

"Really?" Phil asks surprised.

"Yeah." Melinda confirms, "Maria is the person with the most experience who can take over Gonzales. I know she probably won't accept, and the others are talking about it and making the final decision, but I had to suggest her anyway." She says.

"I'm glad you did." Phil says and the two drift into silence.

After a few minutes Melinda places a cup of hot chocolate in front of Coulson and sits back down again.

"It always amazed me, you can't cook, you normally burn hot water, and yet you make the most amazing hot chocolate I've ever tasted." Phil says.

"That's because I have plenty of experience."

"True. I'm pretty sure that we lived on it for a time at the Academy." Phil says, looking at the hot chocolate and wishing that they had marshmallows.

"True."

"And then there was the time you got pneumonia after the Serbia opp. I didn't think it was possible for a person to drink that much hot chocolate." Phil says.

"That was Clint's fault. It was the last time I let him be in charge of supplies." Melinda says and Phil laughs as even though it wasn't amusing at the time it is amusing now to think back on it.

"He did have a bad track record. Though more than once it lead to you and Natasha getting pretty creative when it came to weapons." Phil says fondly.

"That it did." Melinda says, also fondly as they both take a drink of their drinks.

"I want to tell them, Natasha and Clint, and I guess the others too. I want to tell them that I'm alive. It's been too long, I need to tell them." Phil tells Melinda.

"I'll go with you if you would like." Melinda offers as she knows that Phil will most likely need moral support for that.

"I would like that." Phil responds, "when will the others give you answers about whether Maria gets the position?' Phil asks curious.

"First thing tomorrow." Melinda says.

"Well if the answer is yes how about we leave for New York right after and tell her in person, and if the answer is no we leave for New York anyway and arrange telling them." Phil suggests.

"Sounds good to me." Melinda says and they once more drift into silence.

"Have you talked to them?" Phil asks, not being able to help his curiosity any longer as it is something he has purposely avoided asking, "Since New York, since S.H.I.E.L.D feel, since… everything?" Phil asks after a few minutes

"Yeah, a couple of times." Melinda answers, "I lied about why I was going back to the field and they know I'm at a safe place, but I haven't told them anymore." She explains, "Though considering its Natasha and Clint I wouldn't be surprised if they knew more." She admits.

"Me either." Phil admits, "Considering they haven't raided the base I don't think they know I'm alive though."

"Nothing about your resurrection was realised during the file dump; so unless Maria said something, which we both know isn't likely, then they may not know." Melinda says.

"We're going to get shot with arrows, aren't we?" Phil says as not only did he keep the secret but Melinda and Maria did too which means if they don't know then Clint and Natasha are going to react very badly.

"I think that would be the best response for them to have." Melinda admits and after exchanging smiles they both continue to drink.

"After S.H.I.E.L.D fell Maria said 'We're not brining the bad back together, it's over.' Do you think that's true? Do you think that the five of us will ever be able to go back to what we were?" Phil asks curious.

"Like I said we can never go back." Melinda says, "But we might be able to be something new." She admits.

"I hope so." Phil says and they drift into silence.


After spending a while just sitting in silence occasionally talking Melinda and Phil both washed up their cups and headed back to their respective bunks.

It is about seven thirty and after training with Skye and Bobbi, who has started to join in their training after she got the all clear from Simmons about a week earlier, Melinda met with Bobbi, Weever and the new board member Agent Dickerson where she was informed that her request to offer Maria the position as head of the board has been granted. After getting that confirmation Melinda request that she be the one to approach Maria, a request that was approved.

"The Council said yes." Melinda says as she walks into Phil's office without knocking a few minutes after talking with the board.

"About Maria taking over as head?" Phil ask and Melinda nods, "Now we've just got to convince Maria to take the position."

"Do you think she will?" Melinda asks curious.

"I honestly don't know." Phil admits, "She walked away from S.H.I.E.L.D after the fall because she had too, because she and too many eyes on her; and I know that even with Stark being Stark she is enjoying what she is doing now, she may prefer to stay put."

"Nothing says she can't do both." Melinda points out, "If anyone could manage to coordinate The Avengers and be head of the Board overseeing S.H.I.E.L.D, it would be her."

"True." Phil says, "I've just got to finish a couple of things before we go so give me half an hour. Then we'll call Skye, Fitz, Simmons, Bobbi, Hunter and Mack to the common area and tell them that we're going to be gone for a couple of days."

"Sounds good to me." Melinda says as she stands up, "Are we leaving Bobbi or Skye in charge?" Melina asks.

"I've been thinking about that." Phil admits, "Bobbi is higher ranked, but Skye knows the base better. I mean after you and me she knows it best. It's a difficult choice."

"Then why don't we just leave them both in charge, it might work best that way." Melinda admits.

"Yeah, I think it would." Phil realises, "I'll do that." he says and Melinda nods before leaving.


Forty minutes later Melinda and Phil are waiting in the common area when Skye, Hunter, Bobbi, Mack, Fitz and Simmons walk in.

"Are we in trouble?" Skye asks as Coulson and May wanting to see them feels very getting sent to the principal's office like, or even what she always imagined getting in trouble with Mom and Dad would feel like.

"Should you be?" Melinda asks.

"No." Skye says quickly, a bit too quickly. Melinda and Phil exchange looks but they decided that seeing as how they probably won't want to know they won't ask.

"No one's in trouble." Phil says, "We called you to inform you that Agent May and myself are going away for a couple of days." Phil explains.

"Where are you going?" Skye asks.

"To see some a couple of old friends." Melinda answers.

"You're being vague, is there a reason for that?" Simmons asks curious.

"Yes." Phil says, "We haven't seen these friends in a while and this visit is long overdue." He explains.

"You're going to tell them that you're alive." Fitz realises.

"I am."

"Good Luck, Sir." Bobbi says as she has a theory about who they could be going to see but she doesn't want to say something in case she is wrong. Though if they are going to see who she thinks they are then they are going to need a lot more than luck.

"Thank you Bobbi." Phil says, "While we are gone Bobbi and Skye you will both in charge. You will need to work together to run the base."

"Yes, Sir." Skye and Bobbi both say.

"We'll have our phones if you need us. Don't take or leave on any missions without checking with us first and don't destroy the base." Melinda instructs.

"Do you really think we will?" Mack asks

"You don't want my answer to that." Melinda informs Mack.

"It's like you have no faith in us." Hunter comments.

"We'll be back in a couple of days, like May said we have our phones if you need us." Phil says, purposely avoiding Hunter's comment.

"Don't be shy about calling if you need to, understood?" Melinda says.

"Yes, May." Skye, Bobbi, Hunter, Mack, Fitz and Simmons say.

"Good. See you in a couple of days." Phil says as he and Melinda both leave the common area; neither of them have to grab anything as they have already put their bags in Lola.

"Why do I feel like we're kids who are being left alone for the weekend why Mum and Dad are out of town?" Hunter asks after Phil and Melinda have left the common area.

"Because that's exactly what we are." Skye says.

"Then does that mean we can throw a party?" Hunter asks.

"No." Bobbi, Mack, Simmons and Fitz say while Skye looks like she is considering it.


Having left the common area Melinda and Phil have headed down to where Lola is. Instead of getting in the car Phil is just standing by the driver's side, staring. Seeing what her best friend is doing Melinda doesn't get in either, she just watches him.

"I can drive if you want." Melinda offers after about a minute, making it clear that it is Phil's choice that she's not saying that he can't do it.

"Yeah, I think that might be best." Phil admits, "Seeing as how I haven't driver with this hand yet I wouldn't want to cause an accident." Phil says walking over to Melinda and handing her the keys.

"When we get back we can take one of the SUV out and you can see how you go driving if you want." Melinda offers.

"That sounds good." Phil says as he walks over to the passenger seat and Melinda gets in the drivers.

"You should call Maria, we should actually warn her that we're coming." Melinda says as she starts Lola.

"Yeah, we probably should." Phil says pulling his phone out of his pocket and pressing call on Maria's contact.

"Hill." Maria answers after a few rings.

"Hey, it's Coulson. May and I are on our way to New York. Can we meet?" Phil asks as Melinda drives out the hanger.

"Is everyone okay?" Maria asks, a hint of concern in her voice.

"We're fine. There's just a couple of things we need to talk to you about." Phil explains.

"Then sure. Where and When?" Maria asks.

"Our place, say one?" Phil asks, our place being a place that the three of them along with Natasha and Clint brought eleven years ago to be a sanctuary from S.H.I.E.L.D.

"Sure. I'll see you then." Maria says.

"See you then." Phil says before hanging up, "Maria's in." Phil informs Melinda.

"I figured." Melinda responds, "You ready for this?"

"I'm beyond ready." Phil admits, "But I'm also terrified about how they'll react." Phil admits.

"There would be something wrong with you if you weren't." Melinda says as she knows that considering how long they both have been keeping this secret from Natasha and Clint, and the fact that she lied to them when she spoke to them, neither are going to take the news of Phil being alive well if they don't already know.

"Despite that, I am looking forward to seeing them." Phil admits.

"So am I." Melinda responds and the two friends drift into silence both looking forward to and worrying about seeing their old friends again.

Chapter Text

Chapter 2

Disclaimer: I don’ own anything.

AN1: Thank you to everyone who left kudos reviewed/commented and added to alerts. PLEASE review/comment.

 

At about twelve thirty Melinda and Phil arrive at in New York at the place that they both consider to be their sanctuary. After parking Lola in the parking structure they both head up to the apartment.

“Wow, this place has not changed.” Phil comments as they walk into the apartment and he sees it.

“And that surprises you?” Melinda asks as she checks the apartment to make sure they are alone.

“A little.” Phil admits, “When was the last time you were here?” Phil asks as Melinda walks back into the room.

“After Andrew and I divorced.” Melinda explains a she purposely came here after her divorce because it was away from everything, “You?” Melinda ask.

“After I was brought back. I stayed a few days.” Phil explains, Melinda, nods and they both drift into silence.

“What are you doing?” Melinda ask when she notices Phil pulling his phone out of his pocket.

“Calling Skye to see how things are going.”

“Put the phone on speaker.” Melinda requests and Phil does just that.

“Really Coulson? You’ve only been gone four hours.” Skye says as a way of answering her phone.

“We just wanted to call and make sure everything was okay.” Phil says.

“Everything’s fine.” Skye says, rolling her eyes not that Phil and Melinda can see that, “We haven’t burned the base yet.” She jokes.

“Don’t joke about that.” Melinda instructs.

“So, why are you in New York?” Skye asks, purposely ignoring her SO’s comment.

“You’ve tracked our phones?” Phil asks, disapproval in his voice

“Yeah.” Skye says sheepishly, “I was curious.” She admits.

“We’ll talk about that when we get home.” Phil says, “Like we said, we’re here to see some old friends.”

“Who? Who are these old friends that you’re telling that you’re alive?” Skye asks, really wanting to know as it isn’t like Coulson and May to leave them alone.

“We’ll explain when we get back.” Melinda says after she and Coulson exchange a look, both deciding that they don’t want to say who they are seeing over an unsecured line.

“You better.” Skye says as she is honestly very curious about what who May and Coulson have gone to see.

“We will.” Phil says, “Call if you need anything and don’t let Hunter talk you into doing something stupid.” He requests.

“I won’t.” Skye says, ‘unless it’s also awesome.’ She thinks to herself.

“Good. See you when we get back.” Melinda says.

“See you when you get back.” Skye says before the call is ended.

 

Half an hour after they hung up with Skye there is a knock at the door and even though they know it’s most likely Maria Melinda still grabs her gun as she goes to answer.

“Really May?” Maria asks when she is let in and sees Melinda’s gun.

“Like you don’t do the same thing.” Melinda says as she closes and locks the door behind Maria.

“True.” She admits, “So what’s going on? What did you want to talk about?” Maria asks as she sits down on one of the chairs.

“A couple of things.” Coulson says from the couch while Melinda walks over and sits on the empty seat.

“The first is that the council have just started to talk about who will replace Gonzales as the head.” Melinda explains, “I recommended you and the council agrees. The job’s yours if you want it.” Melinda explains, knowing that Maria will know exactly what she is talking about as Coulson and in the last couple of months her, have been providing Maria with updates.

“Wow, I wasn’t expecting that.” Maria admits, “I thought the Council hated the way Fury and I ran things.” She comments.

“They did.” Coulson confirms, “But you’re the most qualified person there is.” He says, “I know that you’re busy, that you like where you are and that like us you don’t think voting works but this is different.…” Phil explains.

“The council advice the director, we oversea Phil, we’re his World Security Council.” Melinda explains, “Having a council of people who truly understand what we face every day overseeing everything gives us a chance of making S.H.I.E.L.D better, and a chance at not repeating the mistakes that we have all made in the past; but if we’re going to do that, if we’re going to reach our potential then we need a strong leader. The best person in charge of the council and that person is you.” Melinda tells her old friend, the person she trained when she first joined S.H.I.E.L.D.

 “May’s right you are the best person.” Phil says, knowing that it proves how serious Melinda is about wanting Maria to take the position by how much she talked.

“Do I have time to think about this?” Maria asks as honestly she isn’t sure what she wants to do.

“Yeah. Weaver said you have two weeks to make your decision.” Melinda explains and Maria nods.

“You said you had a couple of things to talk to me about, what’s the second thing?” Maria asks.

“It’s time I tell Clint and Natasha that I’m alive.” Phil says, “And I guess the others too.”

“Well it is going to get harder to keep the secret considering everything, and the longer you keep it the worst they’ll react.” Maria admits, “Have you experienced any side effects since you figure out what the carvings meant?” Maria ask as that is the main reason why Coulson, and her and May were ordered not to tell Natasha and Clint the truth. Fury didn’t want Natasha and Clint to know in case Phil experienced side effects and they had to take action because of it.

“No.”

“Okay, then I don’t see why you can’t tell them.” Maria says, “Pepper’s hosting a dinner at Avengers Tower tonight. Everyone going to be there why you don’t two join us.” Maria suggests.

“Will that be okay?” Phil asks after exchanging a look with Melinda.

“Should be.” Maria says pulling out her phone and calling Pepper.

“Hello.”

“Hey Pepper, it’s Hill. Is it okay if I invite two more people to join us tonight?”

“Sure, who?” Pepper asks.

“It’s a surprise, but you have my word that you can trust them and they’re not strangers, not to some off us anyway.” Maria explains.

“Okay.” Pepper says, being quiet confused but not questioning as she is used to it, “Do they have any dietary requirements?”

“Nope.”

“Okay well tell them to arrive at six thirty, dinners at seven.” Pepper instructs.

“I will. Thanks Pepper.”

“You’re welcome.” Pepper says before hanging up.

“Pepper’s fine with it.” Maria says, “So everyone will be arriving by six thirty so how about we meet around the corner from Avengers Tower at twenty past six and arrive together.” She suggests, “And considering it’s hosted by Tony and Pepper dress is between smart casual and semi-formal.” Maria explains.

“So I guess we’re going to have to go shopping.” Phil says looking at Melinda as while he’s suits’ fit that he is pretty sure that Melinda wouldn’t have brought anything.

“You have plenty of time.” Maria says.

“It’s okay, we don’t need to I have something I can wear.” Melinda informs Coulson.

“You do?” Phil says surprised.

“I thought it might be necessary.” Melinda explains and Phil nods.

“As much as I would enjoy spending the afternoon with you two I need to get back to work. I’ll see you later.” Maria tells her friends.

“See you later.” Both Phil and Melinda respond and Maria leaves.

 

At about quarter past six Natasha, Clint, Sam, Steve, Wanda, Vision and Rhodey arrive at Avengers Tower having come from the new Avengers Facility.

 Natasha is wearing black jeans with a black and white striped top that as a sweetheart neckline, Wanda is in a red dress with a lace hem and a black leather jacket, Clint is also wearing a black leather jacket with a grey shirt underneath and black jeans, Steve is wearing dark blue jeans with a white t-shirt and dark blue jacket, Rhodey is also wearing black jeans with a white button up shirt and a grey vest and tie, Sam is wearing a powder blue shirt with a white shirt and grey tie and finally Vision is wearing his usual attire.

When they arrive the are greeted by Pepper who is wearing a black skirt with a red and pink short sleeve shirt and Tony who is wearing a light grey suit with a red shirt and a tie.

“You’re early.” Tony informs them.

“There was no traffic.” Steve explains as Pepper greats everyone.

“Why are they’re two extra place settings?” Natasha asks, having noticed them right away.

“Hill’s bringing people.” Tony explains.

“Who?” Steve asks curious.

“She didn’t say, said it was a surprise.” Pepper explains.

“Odd.” Clint comments looking at Natasha, both wondering who Maria is bringing as there is a pretty good chance that they know whoever it is.

“Well whoever she’s bringing we’ll find out soon.” Sam points out.

“True.” Tony says, “Drinks?” he asks and the others nod.

 

At the same time the others are wondering who Maria is bringing to dinner the woman herself is standing on the side walk, wearing black pants, a black lace top with a brown vest over top, waiting for Phil and Melinda.

“No tie?” Maria asks, surprised,  when Phil and Melinda pull up in front of her in Lola and she notices that the dark grey suit and blue shirt he is wearing is missing a tie.

“Yeah, I thought I would mix it up.” Phil says not wanting to admit that he accidently brought no tied ties and he didn’t want to ask Melinda to tie one for him.

“Looks good.” Maria says, because she realises exactly why Phil wouldn’t be wearing a tie and curses herself for bringing it up.

“So do Nat and Clint know anything about what’s going to happen tonight?” Melinda asks as she walks over to Phil and Maria, wearing black leather pants and a black lose halter top with a draped neckline and black boots.

“Nope.” Maria answers as the three friends begin to walk and Melinda passes Phil back the keys to Lola.

“They’re going to hate us, aren’t they?” Phil asks, after a few minutes of silent walking.

“They’re going to be pissed. I think hate is a strong word.” Maria comments.

“Really, you think that?” Melinda asks, giving Maria a look, “You and I have lied to them for over two and a half years and Phil hasn’t told them he’s alive. I think hate is a real possibility.”

“That’s true; but we also have too much history, we’ve been through too much for there to be hate between us.” Maria says as they arrive at Avengers Tower.

“Which is why they’re going to be even more hurt that we didn’t tell them, even if they don’t show it.” Melinda says as they walk into the elevator.

“We were following Fury’s orders.” Phil points out as Maria presses the button for the right floor and scans her access card.

“Might not help much.” Melinda says, “Remember how you reacted when you found out I was lying to you?”

“Good point.” Phil admits and the three friends drift into silence.

“So, how are we going to do this?” Phil asks as the elevator nears the right floor.

“Me, then Mel, then you.” Maria says and Phil nods and the elevator dings and the doors open, “Here goes nothing.” Maria says before stepping out as Melinda and Phil move so that they can’t be seen just yet.

“You’re late Hill.” Natasha tells her friend as everyone turned towards the elevator when it opened.

“And who are these surprises?” Clint asks as Melinda steps out, “Mel…” He says shocked though he is grinning from ear to ear.

“Hey, Clint, Nat.” Melinda says and both the former S.H.I.E.L.D agents look happy to see their friend. 

“Everyone this is Melinda May….” Maria introduces.

“The Cavalry?” Steve asks as he heard stories when he was in S.H.I.E.L.D.

“Don’t call her that.” Natasha, Maria and Clint say together. 

“I’m sorry.” Steve says quickly.

“Mel this everyone.” Maria says and Melinda nods.

“It’s nice to meet you Melinda.” Pepper says, “You said you were brining two people, who else is here?” Pepper asks curious.

“Me.” Phil says stepping out of the elevator.

“That’s not possible.” Clint says shocked, as everyone who knew Phil just look shock, “You died!” he says pain and disbelief clear in his voice.  

“I did.” Phil confirms steeping forward, “I came back.” He explains.

“How long?” Natasha asks, it being clear that she is attempting to hide her shock.

“Nat….” Phil starts to say, but she cuts him off.

“How long, Philip?” Natasha asks, her voice deathly quiet.

The other Avengers, Tony and Pepper exchange looks at that as even though they would very much like to say something they realises that this is a conversation that the two former agents and Coulson need to have.

“Six months after New York.” Phil says, knowing how serious Natasha is when she calls him by his fall name.

“SIX MONTHS.” Clint yells shocked, “And you didn’t tell us?” Clint ask pain more than clear in his voice.

“You knew, both of you.” Natasha says looking between Melinda and Maria it being clear that she is hurt by that as she is actually showing pain.

“We were under orders, I can explain.” Phil says.

“NO. THAT’S NOT GOOD ENOUGH.” Clint yells angrily, “After everything the five of us have been through together we deserved to know. You should have told us.” Clint says before walking away and heading to the balcony.

“He’s right.” Natasha says, “We’ve all done a lot of things under orders; but this is something you should have broken orders to tell us.” She says to Phil, Melinda and Maria, “We deserved that much, you owed us that much.” Natasha says before walking off to follow Clint. If what Natasha said didn’t get to Phil, Maria and Melinda the fact that there was actually tears in her eyes would have.

“I’ll go talk to them.” Melinda says after a few minutes of awkward silence and she walks in the direction that Natasha and Clint went in.

“So, how are you not dead?” Tony asks as he, Pepper and Steve walk over, the others staying back as they don’t know Phil.

“Fury and very, very questionably procedures using Alien Biology.” Phil explains.

“Are you alright?” Steve asks as Pepper looks at her friend like she doesn’t really believe what she is seeing.

“Now I am, for the most part.” Phil explains, and before he can say anything he finds himself getting hugged by Pepper.

“Don’t you ever do that again.” Pepper says as she hugs him, “And you should have told us.”

“I know.” Phil responds as he returns the hug.

“What happened to your hand?” Tony asks as he notices the prostatic. 

“I recently had to catch an alien artefact to stop it from killing a lot of people. It started to turn me to stone so a member of my team used an axe cut it off.” He explains.

“You gave Fury the Helicarrier. You’re the one rebuilding S.H.I.E.L.D.” Steve realises.

“I am.” Phil confirms, “But I’m doing it right this time Captain, I won’t let the same mistakes happen again.”

“I’d like to talk to you about that at some point.” Steve says as he still has serious doubts.

“Sure.”

“And I want to have a look at that arm, make sure you’ve only got the best.” Tony says as he isn’t sure how to deal with Coulson suddenly being alive, but making sure that Phil has the best possible arm is something eh can deal with.

“Okay.” Phil says as he expect that.

 

When Melinda walks out onto the balcony she finds Natasha and Clint standing at the other end together, both facing away from the door.

“Two and a half years, Mel!” Natasha says, not needing to turn around because she knew it was Melinda as soon as she heard her walk onto the balcony, “You’ve known for two and a half years, and you didn’t tell us.” She says as she and Clint turn around to face their friend.

“I’ve known a bit longer.” Melinda says and both Natasha and Clint look furious, but before they can say anything Melinda continues to speak, “The procedures that Fury used to bring Phil back were……Horrible.” Melinda says, struggling to find the right word, “I quiet S.H.I.E.L.D and punched Fury in the face when he first told me what he had done. That should give you some idea of how bad the procedures were.” Melinda explains and both Clint and Natasha are surprised by that as they know how much S.H.I.E.L.D means to Melinda, “Fury didn’t want anyone who cared about Phil, with the exception of Maria, to know what happened, what he did, in case it went wrong. If he didn’t need me to monitor Phil and watch for side effects then I’m sure that Phil would have been given orders not to tell me too.” Melinda admits, surprising both Clint and Natasha by talking more than she usually does.

“You still should have told us.” Natasha says.

“Yeah, I should have.” Melinda confirms, “And I’m sorry that I didn’t.” she says and the three friends drift into silence.

“Did he experience those side affects everyone was so worried about?” Clint asks, not being able to help his curiosity.

“Yeah.” Melinda confirms with a nod.

“How bad?” Natasha asks, wanting to try to understand what was so bad about the potential side effects. Wanting to understand why they were never be told that Phil was alive in case they happened.

“Phil asked me to shot him in the head if they got any worse.” Melinda says.

“That’s bad.” Clint mutters, not sure what else to say.

“That’s why you went back into the field, to watch him.” Natasha realises and Melinda nods, “You should have gone against Fury and told us. We could have helped, we would have wanted to help, just like we always have.” Natasha says as Clint, Melinda, Maria, Phil and Fury were the only people she let herself be her real self around for a long time so it hurts to know that they have kept something this big from her.

“I should have been the one who told you.” Phil’s voice says from the door where he is standing with Maria and they both walk over.

“Yeah you should have.” Clint says angrily.

“I’m so sorry that I didn’t. You’re right, after everything that we’ve been through I did owe it to you both.” Phil says as the five of them have been through so much together “I would understand if you never forgave me, if you never forgave us, but I am so glad to see you both.”

“We’re glad to see you too Phil, but we’re still pissed as hell.” Natasha says and Clint nods in agreement.

“I’ll take it.” Phil says.

“So…..We’re all here. All together for the first time in years.” Maria comments after a couple of minutes of silence.  

“Yeah, we are.” Clint says, “We could have had this a long time ago if you three didn’t spend the last two and a half years lying to us.” Clint says not believing that one of the people he cares about most has been alive for that long when he thought he was dead and no one told him.

“We deserve that.” Melinda comments.

“You deserve a lot more than that.” Natasha says, “And next time I see Fury I’m going to kick his ass.” She says and no one else on the balcony doubt that she is telling the truth, and none of them would want to be Fury when he returns from where ever he disappeared to a few weeks ago.

“I’ll join you with that.” Clint says, “So can I ask about the hand or not?” Clint asks, concerned but not sure if he should mention it.

“There was a battle, almost a war really, a two and a half months ago and I caught an alien artefact that if it broke would have killed a lot of people, and it turned me to stone. Another agent cut my hand off with an axe to save me.” Phil explains.

“So you’re behind the new S.H.I.E.L.D.” Natasha realises.

“Yeah. Fury left me in charge.” Phil explains.

“Nice, but I’m guessing that happened after S.H.I.E.L.D fell which means you could have told us over a year ago, you’re the boss now after all.” Clint says.

“I am sorry that I didn’t.”

“We all are.” Melinda adds and Maria nods in agreement.

“Sorry’s not good enough. Not for this.” Natasha says and the five friends drift into awkward silence, something that has never happened with the five of them.

“So um, food’s ready, or you know you can just stay out here and stare at each other.” Tony’s voice says a few minutes later.

“We’ll be right in.” Maria says and Tony heads back inside.

“We’re not going to forgive you, any of you, not yet.” Natasha says looking at Melinda, Phil and Maria individually “But that doesn’t mean we don’t want to spend time with you.”

“Nat’s right, we’ve may be pissed but we’ve got a lot of catching up to do.” Clint says, “So how about we go eat.”

“Sounds good.” Phil says and all of them head back inside. Melinda, Phil and Maria being glad that it seems like Natasha and Clint have taken the news better than they were expecting.

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 3

Disclaimer: I don' own anything.

AN1: Thank you to everyone who left reviews/comments/kudos and/or added to alerts. It means a lot. PLEASE Review/Leave a comment.


When Natasha, Clint, Melinda, Phil, and Maria walk back into the Tower they find the others sitting at the table and so they walk over and sit down too. Tony is at the head of the table, Steve is at the other end and the on the left side is Pepper, Phil, Melinda, Maria then Sam the last on the end closes to Steve; and then on the other side is Rhodey, Nat, Clint, Wanda, and then Vision.

"Finally, I thought you lot were going to stay out there all night." Tony comments.

"We just had some things that we needed to stay to each other." Clint explains.

"For those who don't know this is Phil Coulson and Melinda May. Mel, Phil this is James 'Rhodey' Rhodes, Wanda Maximoff, Vision and Sam Wilson." Maria introduces.

"Nice too met you." Phil says, "Good job with Ultron." He says.

"Thanks." Rhodey says.

"Everyone dig in." Tony says.

"So, Melinda, how do you know our dear Assassin Twins?" Tony asks after a few minutes of everyone eating and Natasha and Clint roll their eyes at the nickname.

"Mel and Phil recruited me for S.H.I.E.L.D, we've been friends ever since." Clint explains, "We've always been close." He explains, deciding that that would be a better explanation than the fact that they basically became a makeshift family.

"We all have." Maria corrects, "Mel was my Supervising Officer after I left the academy and because she had been working with Clint, Phil and Nat since Clint brought Nat in two years earlier I started working with them too. Before too long the five of us were a team." Maria explains with a fond smile.

"When we were a team we only answered to Fury and we took the missions other agents couldn't handle." Natasha explains.

"So what, you were Avengers Light?" Tony asks.

"Kind of." Phil says, being amused by the nickname

"Avenger's Light, I like that." Clint says, "It's a much better name than what other Agents did call us back then." He comments and Phil, Natasha and Melinda smile at that.

"Why? What did they call you?" Sam asks curious.

"Fury's Favourites." Phil explains and everyone else at the table smile or laugh at that, "Admittedly it is slightly true, it's the only way to explain Clint and May not being fired after half the stuff they pulled."

"So true." Natasha says and Maria nods in agreement.

"You say that like you weren't by our side the entire time." Melinda says, "Like you weren't just as bad."

"No one was as bad as you and Clint." Maria points out, "Some of the stuff you used to do was insane, both on and off missions. Hell you even got yourselves and Phil, who did nothing, kicked of S.H.I.E.L.D bunks and I didn't think that was possible." Maria says, "And there was even a pool going around about which one of you would be next to get hurt or disciplined from Fury because of something you did on a mission."

"You got kicked out of S.H.I.E.L.D bunks? How's that possible?" Steve asks shocked as he spent time in S.H.I.E.L.D bunks and saw some of the stuff that occurs there.

"Pranks." Phil explains, "They pulled a lot of pranks that went insane." He explains.

"Okay. Admittedly Mel and I do have a longer track record, but Nat after you joined you were with us most of the time; and yes, Phil and Maria tried to stop us sometimes, but you didn't really try that hard, your hearts weren't really in it." Clint says.

"And the pool Maria mentioned?" Pepper asks, "There must have been a reason for that."

"S.H.I.E.L.D agents love to bet." Melinda explains, "That was why."

"Though we did do some things that could be considered insane on missions, but all five of us did that." Clint points out.

"True." Natasha confirms, "I think most of the time Fury was torn between impressed and the not wanting to encourage us." She comments.

"Sounds about right." Melinda says "And the pool wasn't just me and Clint, it was me, Clint and Nat." Melinda tells Maria.

"It was?" Maria asks.

"Yep." Phil, Clint, Natasha and Melinda answer.

"It sounds like you're a good agent." Sam says.

"She's one of the best. After Nat and I of course." Clint says with a grin and Melinda rolls her eyes at him.

"Then why didn't Fury have you fight with the Avengers in the Battle of New York?" Tony asks curious. As soon as Tony asks his question everyone sees Phil, Natasha, Clint and Maria tense, it being clear that they are concerned.

"I left field work in 2008, I've only recently gone back." Melinda explains.

"Wh…." Tony starts to asks, but seeing the death glares he is getting from Clint, Natasha, Maria and Phil he decides against it.

"So Phil you never said how you and Melinda met each other." Pepper says deciding that a change of subject might be best.

"We started at S.H.I.E.L.D together, we met our first day at the academy. Melinda was seventeen. I was eighteen." Phil explains.

"S.H.I.E.L.D used to accept people that young?" Steve asks surprised.

"It wasn't that common for Operations, May and I are two of the youngest ever accepted." Phil explains, "Maria was seventeen when she started to." He reveals.

"Really?" Pepper asks surprised as she didn't know that.

"Yeah." Maria confirms. "It was more common for sciences. S.H.I.E.L.D recruited gifted individuals that they saw potential in. Like two of Phil's scientists, they were the youngest ever accepted." Maria explains and the room drift into silence while everyone eats.

"So, Agent, you're rebuilding S.H.I.E.L.D. How's that going?" Tony asks curious.

"Depends on the day." Phil answers, "We don't have many agents. I'm currently mainly working with a team of six people, not counting Melinda; and we recently just had a S.H.I.E.L.D verses S.H.I.E.L.D battle as another group of former agents were trying to rebuild S.H.I.E.L.D too after the fall."

"Who was in charge of that?" Clint asks, not being able to help his curiosity.

"They ran by committee, but the boss was Gonzales." Melinda answers.

"I've heard of him. I haven't worked with him but I've heard of him, he's good." Natasha says.

"Yeah, he was." Phil says, a sadness to his voice as even though he and Gonzales had their issues he was a good man, a great agent.

"Was?" Steve asks.

"Just after Ultron we combined the S.H.I.E.L.D's together." Phil explains, "I'm the director but a committee of five overseas me, advices me, kind of like a world security council." He explains, "After Ultron we almost had a war to fight with another group." Phil explains, not sure how to say what he has to say next.

"They were good people, just misguided." Melinda says for Phil, "Gonzales was killed by their leader to make it seem like S.H.I.E.L.D was starting a war." She explains.

"The battle with Inhumans that you told us about." Sam says looking at Maria, "That was your group."

"Yeah. It's where I lost my hand." Phil says.

"You've been really busy, haven't you?" Clint says.

"Yeah, between that and fighting Hydra we have been." Phil sys.

"Thank you." A voice says and everyone turns as Wanda has spoken for the first time, "Thank you for fighting against the group that hurt my brother and I, and for making a promise that no one else will suffer like we did."

"Um, you're welcome." Phil says confused for a second about how she knows that as he only made the promise to himself, but then he realises who she is so he knows, "No one should have to suffer the way you did; and I will not allow anyone to suffer like that at S.H.I.E.L.D's hands." Phil says and Wanda just smiles at him as she knows he is telling the truth.

Once more the group is quiet for a few minutes while they eat, but then the silence is broken by Phil's phone ringing. "Sorry." Phil says as she pulls his phone from his pocket, "It's Skye." He tells Melinda.

"Answer it." Melinda says, "Sorry, she's one of the Agents we left in charge of the base." Melinda explains.

"It's okay." Pepper says with a smile.

"Hello." Phil says standing up and stepping away from the table.

"We've got a location." Skye tells Coulson, not bothering to explain more as she knows that Coulson will realise what she is talking about.

"On the Hydra agents we've been tracking?" Phil asks and everyone at the table exchange looks.

"Yep. Bobbi, Hunter, Fitz, Simmons Mack and I can go alone or do you want us to come get you and May?" Skye asks.

"Come get us." Coulson instructs.

"Okay. Where from?" Skye asks curious.

"Hold on." Phil requests before muting the phone and turning towards Maria, "Where's the nearest place we can land a Quinjet or just where we'll be able to hover one so Melinda and I can board?" Phil ask curious.

"Right here." Tony says before Maria can say anything, "We have a place for docking Quinjet's right here and considering ours is in the hanger there's room, you can use it if you would like." Tony offers.

"Thanks." Phil says gratefully and after getting a nod from Melinda he un-mutes the phone, "Skye, put Bobbi on, please." He requests.

"Is Morse working with you?" Clint ask Melinda as that's the only Bobbi he can think of, though of course it could be someone he doesn't know.

"Yep, and so is her ex-husband." Melinda informs Clint.

"Wow, I feel sorry for you." Clint says as he's worked with Bobbi quite a bit and has even worked with both Bobbi and Hunter so he knows how they can be.

"Sure." Skye responds.

"Sir." Bobbi's voice says after about a minute.

"Bring the Quinejet to Avengers Tower to pick up Agent May and myself, but don't tell the other's I want to see their reaction."

"So I was right then." Bobbi comments.

"What?"

"When you said that you were going to tell old friends that you were alive I figured it was your old team. I'm glad to know I was right." Bobbi explains.

"Yeah, you are." Phil says, "Stark said it's fine for you to land on the Quinjet docking at Avengers Tower so just do that."

"Will do."

"And bring ICERS' for me and Agent May too." Phil requests.

"We've already got extras' packed up." Bobbi says.

"Good."

"See you in about forty minutes." Bobbi says.

"See you then." Phil says before hanging up.

"Really, wanting to see their reactions." Melinda says to her best friend.

"Yep. Skye and FitzSimmons's reaction is going to be priceless." Phil says with a grin and Melinda rolls her eyes.

"What's an ICER?" Tony asks curiously.

"It's a non-lethal weapon. An Incapacitating Cartridge Emitting Railgun, each round contains Dendrotoxin which we can used to incapacitate targets without harming them. They were created by my scientists." Phil explains, "They were finished just before S.H.I.E.L.D'S fall so they never made it to distribution." He explains.

"They sound like they could be pretty handy." Steve comments.

"I can give you some if you want." Phil offers.

"That would be good, thanks." Steve says as a non-lethal option sounds like a good idea in his book.

"So, if you're getting picked up by Quinjet what are you going to do about Lola?" Maria asks.

"I didn't think of that." Phil says, cursing himself.

"I could drive her back to wherever your base is." Clint offers.

"NO." Phil, Melinda, Natasha and Maria say together.

"I had to try." Clint says with a shrug.

"You always do." Melinda says as Clint and Natasha manage to have a whole conversation without speaking.

"Any chance you've got room on that Quinjet for two more?" Natasha asks.

"Are you sure?" Phil asks surprised.

"Yeah, we might as well meet this new team of yours, make sure they are good enough." Clint says, being glad that he has a bow and quiver here that he can use.

"Sure, if you want to you're more than welcome to come." Phil says feeling like this might be a chance to make things right with them.

"Well if you four are going to fight Hydra why don't I take Lola back to the Playground." Maria offers and Phil is clearly hesitant about that, "Phil it will be fine. I'm not Clint. I won't hurt your car and I've driven Lola before anyway."

"That was thirteen years ago! Are you never going to forget that?" Clint asks

"No." Phil answers then realises what Maria said, "Wait. When have you driven Lola?" he asks and Melinda, Natasha and Maria all avoid looking at him while Clint looks as confused as he feels.

"Never." Clint says, "At least in my memory. Mel's driven her. Nat's driven her because she stole you keys because she wanted to test out the flying capabilities, but I don't think Maria ever has"

"You have a flying car?" Rhodey asks shocked.

"I do." Phil confirms, "It actually continues some of your Dad's old technology." He tells Tony, who looks interested, "And Clint's right. You've never driven Lola." He says to Maria.

"I have actually." Maria admits, "Though it was their fault." He says pointing to Natasha and Melinda.

"It was not." Melinda says.

"You didn't' have to follow through on the dare, you choose to." Natasha says though both she and Melinda both know now and knew then that Maria wasn't going to turn down a dare from the two of them.

"When was this? Where were we?" Clint asks, as he is pretty sure that this would be something he would remember, and Coulson just looks shocked that Maria drove Lola without him knowing.

"You were on a late night stake out." Melinda explains, "It was after Fury learnt the bad combination's for groups when it came to stake outs and the five of us."

"I can't believe you drove Lola." Phil says to Maria.

"See, the fact that you never knew should tell you that I can be trusted to drive your car now." Maria says, "I know how much Lola means to you so I promise I'll take care and I won't' damage your car." Maria tells Phil.

"Okay. Take her back to the playground." Phil says pulling his keys out of his pocket and handing them to Maria.

"The Playground?" Pepper asks.

"It's our base." Phil explains.

"Called the Playground?" Sam asks

"We didn't name it, but it's fitting." Melinda admits.

"Yep, it is." Phil confirms and the room drifts into silence.

"So I have a question." Rhodey says, "If Coulson, Melinda, Natasha and Clint have all been at S.H.I.E.L.D longer than you why were you commander and not them?" he asks Maria.

"Because Mel and I caused to much trouble." Clint says.

"Sounds about right." Natasha says with a nod, "And I would have just been too much trouble to get approval for something like that for." Natasha says like it's not that big of a deal.

"Maria was more suited." Melinda says, "The position of commander just suits her much more than it did us. Fury wanted to pick the best person for S.H.I.E.L.D and that was Maria, still is." Melinda says, it being clear to Phil and Maria that she is talking about the position as head of the council.

"Thank you Mel." Maria says and Melinda just gives a nod in response.


"Okay, let's move people." Bobbi tells Skye, Fitz, Simmons, Mack and Hunter after hanging up with Coulson at the playground, all of them in their tactical gear.

"Do you know where we are going?" Hunter asks as everyone grabs stuff.

"Of course." Bobbi responds.

"Where?" Skye asks.

"That's classified." Bobbi says.

"Um, aren't we meant to be running this base together?" Skye asks.

"We are; but Coulson doesn't want me to say where we're going until we get there." Bobbi explains.

"Why?" Hunter asks, "What's the big deal about this place?" he ask.

"You'll see. Trust me, you want it to be a surprise." Bobbi says as she they walk out into the hanger. Skye, Bobbi, Fitz and Simmons exchanging a look of interested as they do.


It has been about thirty minute since Bobbi, Skye, Hunter, Mack, Fitz and Simmons left the playground and the entire time they have bene flying Skye usually with Hunter's, but sometimes the others, help has been trying to get the answer to where they are going from Bobbi.

"Are we there yet?" Skye and Hunter ask.

"No."

"Are we there yet?

"No." Bobbi says, attempting to start to drown them out.

"Are we there yet? Skye and Hunter ask after exchanging grins as after about fifteen minutes they realises that they finally getting to Bobbi.

"No." Bobbi says after taking a calming breath.

"This is getting annoying." Mack says to Fitz and Simmons.

"Are we there yet?

"I don't see them stopping until they get their answer." Simmons says.

"No."

"We could ice them." Mack suggests.

"Are we there yet?

"Tempting, but I don't think Coulson and May would be too happy with us if we did." Fitz says.

"No."

"So what do we do?" Mack asks, hoping that Fitz and Simmons have some ideas.

"Are we there yet?

"Ignore them." Simmons suggests.

"No." Bobbi says through clench teeth.

"Impossible." Mack says, realising it would be so much easier to figure out a way to get them to shut up if there wasn't so much noise.

"Are we there yet?

"Maybe they'll get bored soon." Simmons says, hope in her voice.

"No."

"I don't think that would be possible." Fitz says.

"Are we there yet?

"I'm with Turbo, I don't see either of them giving up anytime soon." He admits.

"No."

"Are we there yet?

"No!" Bobbi says, "SHUT UP." Bobbi yells finally getting annoyed which causes Skye and Hunter to exchange proud grins, "We should be there in ten to fifteen minutes and if you are not silent until we are I will push you out of this plane with parachutes and you can explain to Coulson and May why you parachuted onto a city, am I clear?" Bobbi asks, her voice completely serious.

"Crystal, Luv." Hunter says after exchanging a look with Skye as there is no doubt in his mind that she means it.

"Good." Bobbi says.

"Thank you." Mack and Simmons say.

"Yeah, thanks." Fitz adds.


Because Bobbi and the rest of the team should be landing in about five minutes Coulson, Melinda, Natasha and Clint, who has his quiver on his back and his holding his bow, all still wearing the clothes they wore to dinner, have headed down to where the Quinjet will dock so that they are ready to go. Even though they aren't going Tony, Pepper, Steve, Sam, Rhodey, Vision and Wanda are their too.

"You know you don't have to wait with us." Phil says.

"We know, but we want to." Pepper says.

"Yeah, we want to meet this team of yours." Tony says, "See what they're like."

"They're good people." Phil says as even though they have had their ups and downs in the last ten weeks he has seen how much of an amazing team they can be and he loves it.

"Why don't you tell us about them." Steve suggests.

"Well there is Bobbi Morse. Former S.H.I.E.L.D master Spy and specialist." Phil says.

"Morse is a pretty amazing agent. She started at S.H.I.E.L.D a few years after me and worked with us on a couple of missions when we were a team, though Clint's worked with her on a lot of other occasions." Maria explains.

"Then there is Skye, May's her SO..."

"You took on a student." Clint and Natasha both say surprised turning to Melinda.

"I did." Melinda confirms.

"Wow." Natasha and Clint both say, both of them knowing that whoever this Skye is must be someone pretty special as the last person Melina trained was Maria.

"She's a Former rising tide hacker, turned field, agent now…." Phil says trailing of not sure if he should continue

"It's okay. You can say it, we won't harm her." Wanda says.

"Inhuman." Phil finishes "She's a gifted individual." He explains.

"What kind of powers?" Steve asks.

"She can manipulate the natural vibrations that everything possesses." Melinda explains after getting an encouraging nod from Wanda.

"The next member of our team is Lance Hunter, Bobbi's ex-husband and former mercenary turned full time S.H.I.E.L.D agent." Phil explains, "Then we have Leo Fitz, master genius engineer." Phil says, sounding proud of Fitz, "A bio-chemist who has two PhD's in field's I can't even pronounce, Jemma Simmons and mechanical engineer who is the person who saved my life Alphonso 'Mack' Mackenzie." Phil explains.

"Sounds like an interesting bunch." Rhodey comments.

"They are." Phil confirms, "But they are also an amazing team."

"Well you're amazing team is here." Tony says as the Quinjet lands.


Even though she would very much like to ask Bobbi how long until they'll be landing Skye is positive that she was serious about her threat so she keeps quiet.

"We're here." Bobbi says walking out from the cockpit as the docking system at the tower is automotive so she doesn't have to do anything, plus she agrees that everyone's reactions are going to be amazing and she really wants to see them for herself.

"So are you going to tell us what the big deal is now?" Hunter asks as everyone unbuckles and stands up.

"You'll see." Bobbi says as the back of the plane lowers and the six agents see Coulson and May standing with the Avengers, Maria Hill, and Pepper Potts.

"Bloody Hell." Hunter says at the same time Simmons says, "Oh my gosh." And Mack says "Didn't expect that."

"No way." Fitz says shocked and he turns to Skye who seems to be lost for words, something which he didn't think was possible, as she is looking at the scene before them with a look of complete shock on her face.

Chapter Text

Chapter 4

Disclaimer: I don' own anything.

AN1: Thank you to everyone who has added to alerts/left kudos/commented/reviewed. PLEASE, PLEASE, leave a review/comment.

AN2: IMPORTANT: So I realised I was off by a year in the timeline so I have gone back and fixed it. TO MAKE IT CLEAR it has been 3 years since the Battle of New York, Two and a Half since Phil was brought back.


Once the ramp is down Phil, Melinda and the others walk over.

"Avengers, the old friends you went to see are the bloody Avengers!" Hunter says shocked, amusing Bobbi who has to admit that Coulson was right about how everyone's reaction would be.

"Technically Natasha and Clint were the old friends we came to see but yes, we were having dinner together when Skye rang." Phil explains.

"It's nice to meet you all." Clint says, "Phil and Mel told us about you."

"Mel?" Fitz and Simmons ask confused, "Who are you talking about?" They asks as even though they are geniuses someone calling May Mel just doesn't register with them.

"Me." Melinda answers.

"Wow." Fitz and Simmons says in complete shock, as this is even more shocking than hearing Melinda laugh.

"How about I introduce everyone." Phil says, "This is Bobbi, Hunter, Mack, Fitz, Simmons, and Skye." Phil says pointing to everyone "And this is Pepper Potts, Natasha Romanoff, Clint Barton, Tony Stark, Steve Rogers, Wanda Maximoff, James Rhodes, Sam Wilson and The Vision." Phil introduces, not bothering to introduce Maria as everyone knows her.

"It's an honour to meet you, really." Simmons says stuttering, forcing herself to say what she wants to say.

"Skye?" Melinda asks walking over and standing in front of her student who hasn't said a word or moved since the ramp came down, "Skye? Can you hear me?" Melinda asks waving her hand in front of Skye's face.

"You….them….together…..how?" Skye ask barley managing to form words.

"Natasha and Clint were the old friends we came to see. We've known each other long time." Melinda explains, "We talked to Maria first and she invited us for dinner." Melinda explains and Skye looks even more shocked than she did a second ago.

"What's the intel on the Hydra cell?" Phil asks Bobbi seeing as how Skye is too shocked to speak.

"We've got a location. Mexico, surrounded by other properties seemingly abandoned. The tracker we placed finally got some results. Skye has the blueprints and everything we need to know on her laptop." Bobbi explains.

"Good. Guess we should get going." Phil says before walking back over to Steve, Pepper, Maria and Tony, "I'm sorry that it took so long to tell you that I am alive; it was really nice to see you again." Phil says to them, forcing himself to remain calm as he looks at Steve.

"It was good seeing you too." Pepper says before hugging Coulson, "Don't be a stranger." She tells him.

"I'll try not to be." Phil responds.

"I'm glad you're alive." Steve says to Phil, "So maybe we can have that talk about S.H.I.E.L.D once you've dealt with this Hydra cell." He offers.

"That would be good." Phil says and to his joy Steve sticks his hand out for Phil to shake which he returns, trying to stop the grin that is threating to show on his face as shaking hands with Captain America is one of his childhood dreams, "Stark."

"Agent." Tony responds as Melinda walks over, "Come back in a few days, like I said I want to check that prosthetic you deserve the best."

"I already have it." Phil says as he trusts Fitz and Simmons, "But I'll still let you look at it."

"Good." Tony says and then to Phil's absolute shock he hugs him.

"It was nice meeting you all." Melinda says to the Avengers and Pepper as Phil and Tony break apart, Phil wearing a look of shock on his face.

"Yeah, it was." Pepper says, "Come back anytime. I would like us to actually manage to get through a dinner." She says.

"I would like that too." Melinda says, "Are you going to stay at the Playground or just drop of Lola?" Melinda asks Maria.

"I'll stay until you get back." Maria explains and Melinda nods.

"Look after her Maria." Phil says.

"I will." Maria says, resisting the urge to roll her eyes.

"It was nice to meet you all." Phil says to the people he didn't know before today, "Time to go." Phil says and he, Melinda, Natasha and Clint walk up the Quinjet ramp.

"Wait, you're coming with us?" Mack asks shocked as having two Avengers join the mission is not something he was expecting.

"Yep." Natasha says.

"We've got to make sure that Mel and Phil are working with the best." Clint says as even though he is angry he still wants the best for Melinda and Phil.

Seeing as how Skye is still frozen on the spot Clint and Natasha walk past her and pick her up by each grabbing her under one of her arms and carrying her into the plane.

As they follow Clint, Natasha and Skye back into the plane Melinda and Phil can't help exchange small smiles as they realises just how much they have missed Natasha and Clint.

"Holy Crap. You're Hawkeye, and you're Black Widow." Skye says, looking between Clint and Natasha, finally coming out of her shock the ramp closes and everyone is in the plane.

"Finally back with us are you?" Phil ask amused.

"You should have warned me!" Skye says, "If you knew I was going to be meeting Avengers then you should have warned me!" Skye says.

"Maybe, but I honestly just wanted to see your reaction." Phil says with a grin.

"You do that a lot." Hunter comments.

"Not nice, AC." Skye tell Phil, "Not nice." She says.

"Everyone buckle up." Melinda says walking to the cockpit. At Melinda's instructions everyone, except for Clint, nod and head to seats, Clint on the other hand follows Melinda to the cockpit and sits down in the co-pilot's seat.

As Clint sits down Melinda briefly looks over at him but doesn't say anything as she is quiet used to Clint being her co-pilot and it will be nice to have that again.

"Everyone buckled in?" Melinda asks.

"Yep." Phil says after checking everyone.

"Then hold on." Melinda says.


It has been fifteen minutes since they left Avengers Tower and ever since they have, Skye, Fitz, Simmons, Hunter and Mack have been trying their best no to ask the million questions they all have, but as more time passes they find themselves struggling not to ask.

"How long have you known Coulson and May?" Skye asks, not being able to hold in her curiosity any longer.

"I met Phil and Mel in 1998, Clint met them six years earlier in 1992." Natasha explains.

"Wow you must have been really young." Simmons comments.

"Not as young as you would think." Natasha answers vaguely, which causes everyone except for Melinda, Clint, and Phil to exchange confused looks.

"And you're close, right?" Skye asks as it certainly seems like it.

"I thought so." Natasha comments looking at Coulson who looks down guilty.

Looking between Coulson and Natasha Skye realises that she is missing something but decides not to question it.

"So you must have some amazing stories." Skye says, moving on though making an internal note to talk to Coulson later.

"Of course." Not just Natasha and but Clint say.

"Don't." Melinda says in a warning tone of voice.

"Oh come on Mel, I'm sure your student and your other agents would love to hear some stories." Natasha says with a grin.

"I'm sure they would, but not now." Melinda says.

"Come on May, please." Skye asks, giving Melinda a begging look even though she can't see it.

"I can hear that look, Skye and it won't do anything." Melinda says, not even looking back.

"How does she do that?" Skye asks shocked.

"Experience." Natasha says, "It's a long flight, Mel, some stories might be good."

"I agree. Some stories would be a good way to pass the time." Simmons says as she definitely wants to hear stories from people who are calling May, Mel, something which she hasn't heard Coulson, or even Andrew, do.

"Yeah, it would be." Fitz says.

"It would even keep us quiet, that's what you want isn't it?" Hunter asks.

"You know they won't give up." Bobbi says, amused as she knows enough about Natasha, Clint, Phil, Melinda, Maria and the team they used to be to know that she wants to hear the stories.

"Fine, just don't give them any ideas." Melinda says.

"Doesn't that eliminate like all our stories?" Clint asks with a smirk, in response Melinda just gives him an annoyed look.

"Don't worry, I have the perfect story." Natasha says, "New Year's, 2002." Natasha says, deciding to tell a story that won't give the younger agents any idea but what they will enjoy.

"Of course." Melinda says with a sigh.

"Good choice." Clint says approvingly.

"Yeah, that is a good choice." Phil says to Natasha.

"So it was New Year's eve." Natasha says, "And the four of us along with Maria Hill had just returned from a mission in Switzerland and because we had some slight injures we were ordered to go to medical…" Natasha explains.

"Slight?" Phil asks with a raised eyebrow, "We had a gunshot wound each, and several other wounds and you call that slight?" he asks.

"None of them were serious, so yeah." Natasha says.

"She's right." Clint says, "If you can still walk it's not that bad." He says.

"That is what we make judgments by." Melinda says.

"Only you three." Phil says rolling his eyes.

"Anyway, the S.H.I.E.L.D doctors were a little unhappy with us." Natasha says.

"Understatement." Clint corrects.

"And we were told that we were all going to spend twenty four hours in medical, no exceptions." Natasha says, "Of course we didn't take that very well."

"None of us are fans of medical and being there." Phil says.

"Normally we would have ignored that and left anyway, but Fury paid us a visit and made it clear that we were to listen this time or else." Natasha explains, remembering that he said either they stay in medical for the twenty four hours or none of them will have any field time for two months, "So we listened….kind of." Natasha says and Skye, Fitz, Simmons, Hunter, Mack and Bobbi grin as they can all see where the story is going, "It was New Years and we had to celebrate so I snuck out and stole a lot of alcohol from the S.H.I.E.L.D New Year's Party." Natasha explains.

"S.H.I.E.L.D has New Year's Parties?" Skye asks surprised and she looks to Fitz, Simmons, and Bobbi who is just looking as confused.

"It used to." Mack says finding something familiar in the story as in the first year he was a part of S.H.I.E.L.D they had a New Year's party but then it never happened again, "It was you, you're the ones who got the parties banned." He realises.

"We were." Natasha says as Clint and Melinda can't help but exchange smiles, both being glad that no one can see their faces, "Once I got the alcohol we all started to mix drinks. Which we drank rather quickly." Natasha admits, "Now what you need to know is that none of us are easy to get drunk." She reveals, "But we were that night; and honestly can't remember how we came to this decision, but we decided that using the medical supplies to build ping pong and other games would be a good idea." Natasha explains.

"How did that get parties banned?" Skye asks.

"We may have also broadcasted a feed of the games after we created to the room where the party was going on everyone decided that it was a really good idea." Phil explains.

"Half of S.H.I.E.L.D was turned into different games, some of which were not exactly suitable for the environment." Natasha says with a smirk, "Fury was far from happy and banned any future parties." She explains.

"He also never forced us to stay in medical again." Melinda adds.

"Wow, that's amazing." Skye says grinning, almost laughing.

"It was pretty awesome." Clint says.

"Can we hear another story? Please." Skye asks as Simmons, Fitz, Bobbi, Mack and Hunter look like they are very much considering it.

"Sure, I think I can do that." Natasha says and she starts to, with occasional input from Phil, Melinda and Clint, tell another story.


About three hours later Melinda lands the Quinjet a few miles away from the location where they will find the Hydra agents.

"Here are the blueprints. Thermal scan indicates there are about twenty people inside. All carrying weapons." Skye explains as she puts the image up on the screen, "There are a few other structures around, all abandoned." Skye says.

"So, twenty to eleven. What's the plan?" Hunter asks curious, being glad as the odds are much better than some of the other's the have faced.

"Thailand." Melinda says to Natasha.

"Sure."

"That will work." Phil says with a nod, knowing exactly what they are talking about.

"Are you sure? Pulling that off once was one thing, do you think you can do it again?" Clint ask as even though he has complete faith in Natasha and Melinda this idea is rather risky.

"Positive." Natasha says and Melinda nods in agreement.

"Um, hi, it's great that you four have your own language and know exactly what you're talking about but the rest of us don't, want to fill us in?" Skye asks.

The four old friends exchange looks at that trying to decide which of them is going to provide the explanation.

"Natasha and I will enter through the front windows." Melinda says, "We'll use a line fired by Clint from this structure to do it." Melinda says pointing to a house several houses back from the house.

"You can get a clear shot from there?" Hunter asks as it is pretty far away.

"Easily." Clint answers, "Who's your sniper?" Clint asks Melinda and Phil.

"Skye." They answer together.

"Okay then you and me are on providing cover duty." Clint says, "The best vantage point for you would be here." Clint says pointing to a location on the map that is closer than where he will fire the line form and which also has a better view of the front of the building than his vantage point.

"Bobbi, Hunter you will be around the back. You job is to stop anyone who realises what Mel and I are doing and tries to come out that way." Natasha explains and they both nod.

"Fitz, Simmons, Mack, you're with me. Will be monitoring things from here and offer any back up and support we can." Phil says.

"Yes, Sir." Fitz, Simmons and Mack say together.

"Let's get ready people." Phil says and for the next few minutes everyone collects what they need. Skye grabs her sniper rifles and Melinda gets ICERS and holsters for her and Natasha while Hunter and Bobbi get their weapons and Hunter puts on his vest. Natasha, Clint and Melinda are offered vests to but they all decline as they would restrict their movement too much and Bobbi and Skye don't need one as their tactical gear has ballistic protection.

"Hydra scans for coms so we can't use them to tell each other when we are in position." Phil says after about five minutes when everyone is ready to go.

"So from when we leave here we all have exactly twenty minutes to get into position." Natasha says.

"Even if you are in position before the twenty minute mark don't do anything until then." Clint instructs.

"Exactly twenty minutes after we leave here Clint will fire two arrows to the outside of the building that will create lines which Natasha and I will use to crash through the windows." Melinda says.

"Skye, Clint cover them from the front and deal with anyone who tries to escape that way, Bobbi, Hunter do the same from the back." Phil instructs.

"All in all this should be over pretty quickly." Natasha says, "Any questions?"

"Um, yeah, are we taking orders from all four of you now?" Hunter asks as he, Skye, Fitz, Simmons and Mack are pretty surprised by the finishing each other's sentences thing that is going on but as she has seen it before Bobbi isn't.

"Yes." Phil, Melinda, Natasha and Clint say together.

"Let's go people." Melinda says and she, Skye, Bobbi, Hunter, Natasha and Clint leave the plane.

"You know this being Hydra and all they are bound to have a lot of electronic surveillance, I might be able to get into their systems." Fitz comments after the agents have landed.

"How long will that take?" Phil asks, being a fan of the idea as it means that they could have real eyes on what is going on.

"Well last month when Skye was going over stuff from our previous missions she learnt that all Hydra bases we raided had the same weakness in their security systems. If this place has it too I could be in in about ten minutes." Fitz says.

"Do it." Phil instructs.


Nineteen minutes after they left the plane Natasha, Melinda and Clint are in position, ready to go all waiting for the time to past before acting.

"This feels good. The three of us doing missions together again." Clint says as the first time all three of them were together on a mission was the mission before Melinda and Phil went to Bahrain.

"Yeah, it does" Melinda confirms, feeling like maybe, despite what she said to Coulson, there may be a chance for them to get back to how they used to be.

"Of course we could have had this months ago if you told the truth." Natasha says.

"I know." Melinda says, it being clear that she feels guilty, "Twenty seconds, time to fire." She tells Clint who nods before quickly firing two arrows then ties the ends to metal supports so that they are secure.

"Good luck." Clint says as Natasha and Melinda both hook, items they got of the Quinjet around the line.

"You know us better than that Clint, we don't need luck." Natasha says as they both kick off and travel down the line.

As he watches them go Clint can't help but grin before getting into position himself.

(Line break)

"I'm in." Fitz says after a while of trying and Coulson, Simmons and Mack crowed around the computer just so that they can get a good look.

"Just in time too." Mack says as Melinda and Natasha crush in through the windows.


As soon as they crash in through the windows Natasha and Melinda don't even allow themselves time to pause before attacking. Quickly incapacitating several agents before they realise what is going on. When the Hydra Agents realise what is going on and just who they are fighting some of them try to run but Natasha pulls her ICER and manages to shot several of them before they can, while still fighting hand to hand. Though two do manage to get out the back, something which Natasha doesn't worry about as she knows Bobbi can handle them, Melinda and Natasha manage to stop the rest from getting to a door or window by working as a perfect team.


"That's incredible." Fitz says shocked as they watch Natasha and Melinda fight together. As honestly he isn't sure he has seen anything like it as it seems like even though they are fighting individually Natasha and Melinda seem to sense when the other need help and flawlessly morph into a team and they go back to fighting individually again.

"You said it, Turbo." Mack says, clearly impressed.

"That's Nat and May." Phil says, with a grin a she has honestly missed watching them fight together.

"How long has it been since they worked together?" Simmons asks as from the way they are fighting you would think it was yesterday.

"It's been a while." Phil says a sadness to his voice, "2008 would have been the last time they forget side by side." Phil says though he knows that they have occasionally spared since.

"That's incredible." Simmons says impressed.

"Are Agents Barton and Romanoff sticking around, Sir?" Fitz asks curious as in his opinion it would be amazing if they did.

"I honestly don't know." Phil admits.

"But you would like it if they did." Mack realises.

"Yeah, I would." Phil says and they drift into silence.

"Coulson." Natasha's voice say through the coms.

"Yeah?" Phil asks.

"All clear here, you got someone who can handle all these unconscious people?" Natasha asks.

"Yeah, I'll call Talbot."

"Sounds good. Well wait with them until he gets here." Natasha says before cutting the coms.


After waiting for Talbot for a couple of hours the team plus their two Avenger guests headed back to the Quinjet where Melinda flew them back to The Playground.

As soon as they ramp of the Quinjet goes down as they land everyone starts to head out and they find Maria waiting.

"So, I take it the mission went well." Maria says.

"Yep. Twenty Hydra agents are now in Talbot's custody." Phil explains.

"Good." Maria says as they start to walk towards the entrance to the main part of the base and Phil sticks his hand out for Lola's keys which Maria hands over.

"So this is your base." Clint says

"Yep. It was an old SSR base that Fury converted." Melinda explains and Clint and Natasha nod.

"I can give you a tour if you would like, I would be more than happy to show you everything." Skye says, wanting to spend more time with the Avengers.

"I would like that, but not right now." Clint says, "What I would like right now is a drink, I assume you still keep the good stuff to yourself." He says to Phil.

"Of course he does." Melinda says as everyone walk into the common area.

"It was a necessary with the way you three drink." Phil comments.

"Like you don't drink just as much." Natasha says rolling her eyes.

"She's right there." Maria says and the other agents just look on amazed.

"Office upstairs?" Clint asks.

"Yep." Melinda answers and Clint, followed by Natasha, Melinda and Maria head upstairs.

"You did good today, all of you." Phil tells his agents.

"We didn't really do much. May and Agent Romanoff did most of the work." Skye says.

"But you had their backs and were ready to help should they have needed it, that's something." Phil says, "Now if you would excuse me I have to go make sure those four aren't destroying my office and drinking all my scotch." Phil says before heading upstairs.

"Okay…..WOW." Skye says, "Avengers, here, working with them. Coulson and May acting like their best friends." She says.

"That's because they are." Bobbi says and everyone turns to face her.

"You know something." Hunter says.

"I know a lot." Bobbi tells him, "May and Coulson have been partners since they joined S.H.I.E.L.D In 1982, something which in itself is unusual because it's rare for S.H.I.E.L.D specialists to work with the same team more than a few times, but they've been a team, in one way or another, for over thirty years." Bobbi explains, "In 1992 they recruited Clint together and the three of them became a team. May and Barton were legends for the trouble they used to get into, usually because of some prank they pulled." She explains, causing everyone else to exchange looks of surprise, "In 1998 Clint brought Natasha into the S.H.I.E.L.D and she joined the team. Two years later in 2000 Maria Hill graduated the academy at nineteen and May became her SO. The five of them became a team that only answered to Fury. They took missions that no one else could do, and they were incredible, one of the, if not the, best teams S.H.I.E.L.D has ever seen." Bobbi explains.

"How do you know all that?" Simmons asks as she's heard some of the rumours about the five agents who are currently upstairs but nothing in as much detail as Bobbi has.

"Because I worked with them on a couple of mission, and worked with Clint quite a few times in recent years." She explains.

"Okay, wow." Skye says surprised and amazed, "Tell me everything you know."

"Sure." Bobbi says and everyone walks over to the couches and sits down.


When he walks into his office Coulson finds Clint sitting in his chair with his feet on the desk. Natasha sitting on the conference table and both Melinda and Maria siting on chairs at the table Maria with her feet on the table Melinda with her feet on another chair, all four of them holding cups of his scotch.

"Get your feet of my desk Barton." Phil instructs.

"But I'm comfortable." Clint says and Phil just gives him an annoyed look, "Fine." Clint says and he moves his feet.

"So I see that you had no trouble finding my scotch." Phil says as he picks up the fifth glass of scotch that has already been poured.

"You didn't exactly make it difficult to find." Natasha says as Phil sits down at the table.

"That's because I didn't have any reason to hide it." Phil says as Clint walks over and sits next to Coulson, like Maria he puts his feet up on the desk too.

"Really? You didn't steal his scotch?" Natasha asks Melinda surprised

"I didn't have to, our old plane had a bar, which I made sure Nick only got the best for." Melinda explains as once they got the plane back from Ward and Garrett Melinda collected the stock from the storage area, being glad that no one other than her knew about it, and she has kept it for herself.

"Nice." Clint says with a grin.

"He complained about that you know." Maria says to Melinda.

"I'm not surprised." Melinda says, "Does he know what we did to the Bus yet?" Melinda asks curious.

"Not yet; you'll know when he does." Maria says.

"Why? What's the deal with the plane?" Natasha asks curious.

"Fury gave it to me after I was back in the field after I died. It cost a lot to refurbish it and on our second mission we blew a hole in the side, he was pissed." Phil explains.

"We completely destroyed it as a decoy to get on the base where the information on Loki's sceptre was." Melinda explains.

"Ah right." Clint say and for a few minutes all five of them are quiet while they drink.

"So, did our team meet your standard?" Phil asks Natasha and Clint curious.

"They seem like they are a good group." Natasha says.

"They clearly care about you two which is good." Clint says, "But we didn't really see enough to know for sure."

"Well you know you could stick around for a while." Phil says, realising that this is the chance he has been waiting for, "I would be more than happy to have you both, as long as you want to stay."

"Are you offering us jobs?" Clint asks as that's what it seems like but he wants to know for sure.

"Yeah, I am."

"We can't accept, Phil." Natasha says.

"Oh." Phil says trying not to look disappointed at that, "Why not?"

"Because we can't trust you right now." Clint says, "We can't trust any of you." He says looking at Melinda and Maria, "And that's something I never thought I would say to you." He admits to the shock of Melinda, Maria and Phil as one thing that the five of them always had was trust, even if they didn't trust anyone else they trusted each other, even if it took a while to get to that point.

Chapter Text

Chapter 5

Disclaimer: I don' own anything.

AN2: IMPORTANT: So I realised I was off by a year in the timeline so I have fixed it. TO MAKE IT CLEAR it has been 3 years since the Battle of New York, Two and a Half since Phil was brought back.


"We been through….. Hell, and a lot worse together, more than once, and even though we are spies we didn't lie about the important stuff, not to each other." Natasha says, "You don't know what it was like for us after you died." Natasha tells Phil, "But you two do." Natasha says looking at Melinda and Maria, "You were there. You saw what it did to us, and you, and you still decided to keep this secret" Natasha says it being clear that she is feeling more betrayed by Melinda and Maria than by Phil.

"We're happy that you're alive and we do want the five of us to spend more time together but we can't work with people we can't trust, not again." Clint say as while they do work with Maria at the New Avengers Facility they don't with her directly and they don't think they will be able to for a while.

"I see." Phil says, it being clear that Clint and Natasha's words have hurt him and even though they are harder to read Melinda and Maria as well.

For a while the five friends just sit in silence, none of them really sure what to say after Clint and Natasha's revelation.

"So, um, maybe we should go." Clint suggests as he can tell how awkward things have gotten and he doesn't like it one bit.

"Yeah, maybe." Phil says, getting up and heading over to his desk, "I have something for you." Phil says looking though his draws for something, "If you meant what you said about wanting to stay in touch then we're going to need a way too. Here, burner phones with mine and Melinda's numbers already programed in." Phil says putting to two on the desk clearly making it Natasha and Clint's choice as to whether they take them.

"We do want to stay in touch, Phil." Natasha says walking over and picking up the phones.

"I want that too." Phil says.

"So do I." Melinda says as she, Maria and Clint stand up.

"I think it's safe to say that we all want that." Maria says and the five friends drift into silence once more.

"So, we'll talk later. See each other later." Natasha says, realising that what they need the most at the moment is some space.

"Yeah, we will." Phil confirms and Natasha and Clint nod and leave.

As Phil, Melinda and Maria watch Clint and Natasha walk out they can't help but feel that they are losing their best friends.

"Please say you have more scotch." Maria requests after about a minute.

"I do."

"Thank god."


As Natasha and Clint walk down the stairs and hear the voices of the other agents they both wonder if they are being too hard on the Phil, Melinda and Maria but at the same time they are wondering if they are being hard enough considering everything.

"Are you guys leaving?" Bobbi asks as she spots Clint and Natasha.

"Yeah." Clint says with a nod, "I guess we'll have to do the base tour next time." Clint says.

"Sure, you can count on it." Skye says, noticing that they both seem more uptight than they were when they went upstairs and Skye can't help but wondering what is going on.

"You'll need a lanyard to get out." Bobbi says, "I'll let you out."

"Thanks Morse." Clint says.

"How are you planning on getting back to New York?" Hunter asks curious.

"We'll borrow one of the cars. As long as it's not Lola Phil won't mind." Natasha says.

"He really won't." Clint says, "It was nice meeting you all."

"Yeah, it was." Skye says with a grin, "We'll see you again soon, right?"

"You can count on it." Natasha says before he and Clint follow Bobbi out as even though things aren't okay between them, Phil, and Melinda now that they know Phil is alive and know where they are this won't be their last visit.


It has been a few hours since Natasha and Clint left and ever since Phil, Melinda and Maria have been in Phil's office sitting in silence an occasionally drinking. All of them are thinking about the same thing, Natasha and Clint and how much they have screwed things up.

"I should probably get going." Maria says, "The way I'm going I'm probably going to be late as it is." She says.

"What time is it?" Phil asks as he is pretty sure that he lost track of time a while ago.

"Almost five." Melinda answers.

"Yeah, I really should get going." Maria says standing up, "Your stuff is in Lola's trunk, I went to our place before coming here." She explains

"Thanks." Phil says.

"Now, I've just got to figure a way back." Maria comments, as she isn't quite sure whether she would be under the legal limit.

"Billy should be back. He can drive you." Phil says, realising the same thing that Maria has realised.

"Sounds good to me." Maria says, "I'll try talking to them, try to make things better."

"That's not going to happen, they're as angry with you as they are with us." Phil reminds her, "Plus It's Natasha and Clint, you can't talk them out of something once they decided." He says.

"Good point." Maria says, "Hopefully they'll forgive us soon." Maria comments and Melinda just gives her a look, "Yeah, I know." Maria says, "I guess I'll go find Billy. I'll talk to you later." Maria says before leaving.

"Do you think they'll ever forgive us? Ever trust us again?" Phil asks a few minutes after Maria leaves the office.

"I honestly don't know." Melinda admits, "But I hope so." She says.

"So do I." Phil says.

"I should go, Skye will be up for training soon." Melinda says heading to the door.

"Melinda." Phil says causing her to turn back around, "It was like the old days again, wasn't it?"

"Yeah, it was." Melina confirms before leaving the office and leaving Phil alone to his thoughts.


About half an hour after Melinda left Phil's officer, after showing and changing, Melinda walks into the training room where for the first time ever Skye is already there.

"I thought I would was going to have to train alone, or with Bobbi." Skye says.

"I'm sorry to disappoint you."

"I'm not disappointed, I'm glad." Skye says.

"Good to know." Melinda responds.

"So, is Hill still here?" Skye asks curious.

"No, she's left." Melinda say, "Tai-Chi first." Melinda instructs and they both get into position.

"So, we've known each other for two years now, why am I only now finding out that you are friends with two Avengers?" Skye asks curious.

"It never came up."

"Never came up? I can think of soo many times where you could have told me and didn't. Why not?" Skye asks.

"Tai-Chi is time for quiet." Melinda says.

"Fine, but this isn't over. You can't avoid my questions forever." Skye says, it being clear that she is telling the truth.


After spending over an hour training with Skye, and Bobbi who joined in where Melinda was bombarded by questions from Skye Melinda has headed up to Phil's office to avoid her students' questions.

When Melina walks into Phil's office she finds him staring at something which is clearly not the paperwork he should be doing. Because Phil is so focused on what he is looking at he doesn't even notice Melinda walk over and have a look over his shoulder.

"You still have that." Melinda says causing Phil to jump.

"Jesus May, make some noise."

"I just did."

"Well….make some noise when you walk please." Phil requests, "And yes, I do still have it."

"We all look so young." Melinda realises, "Except for Nat, she looks exactly the same, almost."

"True, but we both know why that is." Phil comments.

"We do." Melinda confirms.

"Do you remember this?" Phil asks flipping back a few pages to show find something to show Melinda.

"Yeah, I do." Melinda says looking at the image on the page, "summer 2001. Clint, Nat, Maria and I went undercover at a beach party while you ran back end. The mission went well and Fury gave us twenty four hours off, which for the first time we didn't complain about because it was too hot. Clint and I threw you, fully clothed, into the pool. Natasha hacked into the hotel security to remove all images of us and cooped that caption for us." Melinda says as in the imaging, the five of them are in the pool, she and Natasha are both standing on Clint's shoulders, about to dive off, and Maria and Phil are not too far away laughing at them.

"That was a fun day, though you did ruin one of my suits." Phil says.

"You had plenty others." Melinda says, rolling her eyes.

"True." Phil admits and Melinda walks over and sits across form him.

"Where's the stack of paperwork you have to do?" Melinda asks curious.

"Why, do you want to do it?" Phil asks not looking up from the album.

"Well seeing as how it's either that or be bombarded with questions from Skye I do." Melinda says.

"Help yourself." Phil says pointing to the larges pile on his desk, "Just tell me what I need to sign."

"Nothing, I can forge your signature, remember." Melinda says.

"True, I still remember all the lectures I got from Fury for things it looked like I approved but was actually you, Clint, or Natasha who forged my signature." Phil says.

"Sometimes we needed your access." Melinda says "And we didn't tell you because you would need deniability."

"Thanks for that." Phil says sarcastically, "Just do everything but my signature, even though your forgery is flawless I would like to do it myself." He says.

"Noted." Melinda says and she gets to work while Phil continues to look at pictures.


"Thanks for the lift, Billy." Maria says as they arrive at the New Avengers Facility.

"You're quiet welcome Commander Hill." Billy says, "Will I be seeing you around base more?" He asks curious.

"I don't know, still trying to figure that out." Maria admits as she knows she has council position to consider.

"Seeing as how they about the base now give these to Barton and Romanoff." Billy says handing Maria to envelopes, one with an N on it the other with a C, "Their very own lanyards." He explains with a grin.

"I'll be sure to do that, see you Billy." Maria says accepting the envelopes and getting out of the car.

When she walks into the entry way of the facility Maria almost walks right into Steve.

"Sorry, Captain."

"It's alright." Steve says, "I was wondering when you were getting back Natasha and Clint got back hours ago." He reveals.

"I know. I stayed with Mel and Phil longer." Maria says, "Where are Nat and Clint?" she asks curious.

"Gym." Steve says.

"Thanks." Maria says and she starts to walk there.

"Are you alright?" Steve asks concerned as he catches up.

"I may be slightly hungover." Maria admits, although after she says it she realises that still drunk would be a more accurate description, "And I hurt people I care about, lost their trust." She says.

"Are you talking about Natasha and Clint?" Steve asks as that's what he assumes.

"Yeah." Maria says with a nod, "They have every right to be upset, we should have told them, but it still hurts to know that we may never have what we were again." Maria admits.

"What were you?" Steve asks, not being able to help his curiosity.

"A team; and a family, our version of one anyway." Maria says as they arrive at the gym, "I'll see you later Captain."

"See you later." Steve says, deciding not to go to the gym, which is where he was heading, as Maria, Natasha and Clint clearly need to talk alone.

When Maria walks in the gym she finds Natasha and Clint sparing so she walks over and waits for them to finish.

"Did you need something?" Natasha ask as she knocks Clint to the ground.

"No, but I have something for you." Maria says, walking over as Clint get's up, "Your own lanyards for The Playground." Maria says as she hands them the envelopes.

"Thanks, these might come in handy." Clint says.

"I am sorry that I lied about this, you do know that right." Maria says.

"Yeah, we do." Clint confirms.

"But it's not good enough, Maria. For two and a half years you didn't tell us that Phil was alive. You saw us mourn him and still didn't say anything." Natasha says.

"It was because Fury and I didn't want you to have to mourn him again." Maria says and seeing as how both Natasha and Clint look interested at that she continues to explains, "The project that brought Phil back was called TAHITI. The other people who had those procedures performed on them had to have their memories completely erased and had to be implanted with fake ones so that they could live semi-normal lives and now all but two are dead." Maria says, knowing that because Phil told her, "Fury knew that the procedures were risky and in case the same thing that happened to the others happened to Phil he didn't want you to know so that you wouldn't have to mourn him twice." Maria explains.

"Then why did he tell Mel? She's known Phil the longest, she's his best friend. Why did Fury tell her if he was trying to save us from pain?" Clint asks.

"Because Fury need someone who knew Phil as well as we do to watch him. He needed someone who knew Phil but who also knew trauma and who knew what is a normal reaction and what was something to worry about, so he brought Mel in a few before Phil came back to work." Maria explains, "Mel doesn't know this, but Nick also picked her because he thought it could help her to be a part of a team again, to have people to look out for again, to be in the field in a controlled way." Maria admits.

"That does make sense, I'm not okay with it but it does make sense." Natasha admits, "But that only explains the first few months. Why weren't we told that Phil was alive as soon as it became clear that he wasn't going to experience any side effects?" Natasha asks.

"Because he did experience side effects." Maria says, "And it was only a few months ago that they stopped; and since then we've all been rather busy." Maria explains, "Mel, Phil and I wanted to tell you. We all fought with Fury about it and have considered it in the last few months, none of us wanted to keep this from you." Maria says, knowing that the three of them have considered it more than once.

"But you still kept it a secret Maria. That's what hurts, and that's why you've lost our trust." Clint says.

"I know, and I know I speak for all of us when I say that we want to make it up to you. We want to earn your trust back." Maria says.

"That's going to take a while. If at all." Natasha says.

"We'll I'm not going to give up." Maria says, being sure that Coulson and Melinda won't either, "I want to find a way for us to be us again." She says.

"We want that too." Clint admits, "But it's not going to be easy, and may not be possible."

"But that doesn't mean that we shouldn't try." Natasha says and the three friends drift into silence.

"Soo, Nat. Want to spare?" Maria asks with a grin

"Always Hill." Natasha responds and she and Maria head to the mats while Clint goes to get a good place to watch from.


"They've been up there for hours." Skye comments. It is now lunch time and Melinda and Phil are still up in his office.

"So?" Mack asks, "There is nothing odd about that."

"Lately there is." Skye says, "Even Coulson has been working down here more lately." Skye reminds them.

"Huh, you're right." Fitz realises.

"Do you thinks something happened?" Skye asks.

"What do you mean?" Simmons asks curious.

"Well Barton and Romanoff left pretty suddenly and ever since they have been in Coulson's office." Skye explains.

"So, what, you think they had a fight or something?" Hunter asks

"Maybe." Skye says, "You know what their relationship is like, what do you think?" Skye asks Bobbi curious.

"I think that things might be strained between them because Coulson, May and Hill waited too long to tell Barton and Romanoff that Coulson was alive and that all five of them are hurt because of that; but that's just my guess I could be wrong." Bobbi says and Skye frowns, clearly worried about Coulson and May.

"I doubt it, your guesses are usually right." Hunter says.

"I'm going to see if they want to come down to Lunch." Skye says getting up and heading upstairs.


Ever since the conversation about forging Coulson's signature Melinda has been working on the paperwork silently while Phil flips though the photo album, occasional signing something. Even though they have been together for hours the first sound other than the scratching of the Melinda's pen and the flipping of pages is a knock on the door.

"Come in." Phil says and Skye walk in, "Yes?"

"It's lunchtime. I was wondering if you guys were going to join us." Skye says.

"I'm alright." Phil says.

"Same." Melinda responds.

"Are you guys okay?" Skye asks, concerned as she takes several steps forward.

"Why do you ask?" Phil asks curious.

"Because you've been in here all day." Skye says "Usually, or lately at least, you've been joining us downstairs." She says, "So it's worrying. Are you alright?" She asks, clearly concerned.

Phil and Melinda exchange a look at that as even though they would very much like to keep what is going on just between them they both care about Skye and they don't want her to worry about them.

"Close the door." Phil requests and Skye does that before walking back over and sitting on the edge of the desk.

"So, what's going on?" Skye asks.

"Before I died, Agents May, Barton, Romanoff, Hill and myself were very close." Phil says.

"I know." Skye says as that has become clear to her.

"We have been through a lot of things together, a lot of bad, and some good. We had a bond and we trusted each other more than anything." Phil explains, "The Fact that me, Maria and Melinda kept the fact that I was alive a secret damage that bond and caused us to loose Natasha and Clint's trust." Phil explains.

"And so you're up here feeling awful." Skye realises.

"Basically." Coulson confirms.

"Is there anything I can do to help?" Skye asks curious.

"Not right now, but thanks." Coulson says.

"Anytime." Skye says standing up, "I'm sorry that you're both hurting but seeing as how you need to eat I'll bring up some food once it's made." Skye says, deciding to attempt to force them to come down to eat tomorrow.

"Thank you, Skye." Melinda says.

"No need to thank me. I'm just doing what you guys do for me." Skye says before leaving the two older agents, the people that she looks up to the most, to their pain and misery, honestly wishing that there was more that she could do to help them. 

Chapter Text

Chapter 6

Disclaimer: I don't own anything.


It has been three days since Skye confronted Melinda and Phil in Phil's office about why they were shutting themselves away and in that time Phil and Melinda have mainly stayed in Phil's office, though they have ventured out on occasion, usually after Skye's convincing, but it is clear to everyone at the Playground that they are hurting.

"We should do something." Skye says to Fitz, Simmons, Mack, Bobbi and Hunter. The six of them are in the common area sitting on the couches and throwing Hunter's soccer ball around.

"Like what?" Bobbi asks catching the ball that Mack just threw at her, "somehow I don't think we're the ones who can help them." She says as she throws the ball to Hunter.

"You think only Barton and Romanoff can help." Hunter realises as he throws the ball to Simmons.

"And Hill." Bobbi says as Simmons catches the ball, "From what Skye's said this is something that only the five of them can help each other with."

"I hate that they're in so much pain." Skye says.

"So do I." Fitz says as Coulson and May have looked after them all and he doesn't like to see that they are in so much pain.

"Look, from what I know things will be right with then eventually, even if it takes time, and when it is you're going to see a whole other side to Coulson and May." Bobbi says.

"What do you mean?" Simmons asks as she throws the ball to Mack.

"I know what they were like back then, back in the height of their team days. I worked with them even spent time off duty and together the five of them are…amazing." Bobbi says trying to find the right word.

"What exactly does that mean?" Mack asks.

"It's like they have their own language, that only the five of them, and maybe Fury, understand." Bobbi says, "And then add to that May, Barton and Romanoff have their own language on top of that that's neither verbal nor sign language." Bobbi says remembering how it confused the hell out of her the first time she saw it, "And most of the time Barton and May can't be together more than an hour before they get into trouble or pull some prank." Bobbi says, causing everyone else to exchange looks as even though they've heard stories they can't really picture it, "Natasha normally joined them and Coulson and Maria would try to stop them, try to stop what they were doing from getting worse, or pretend they weren't amused. It's an interesting sight and one I hope we all get to see here." Bobbi explains.

"I hope so too. That sounds bloody awesome." Hunter says as Skye catches the ball.

"It does." Skye says with a grin, "You know, I can think of a better idea of something to do with this ball." Skye says.

"We're listening." Fitz says and Skye starts to explain.


While the younger agents are downstairs talking about them Coulson and May are upstairs in Phil's office doing the paperwork that they usually avoid until they can't avoid it anymore as a way to distract from what they are feeling.

"Skye, Fitz and Hunter are never doing the shopping together alone again." Melinda informs Phil, breaking the silence that has been present for a while.

"Why?" Phil asks curious, looking up from what he is reading, without a word Melinda just hands the piece of paper over to Phil, "Really?"

"Really." Melinda confirms.

"Okay, Skye, Fitz and Hunter are never doing the shopping again." Phil says.

"I think they can do it. They just need supervision." Melinda explains.

"I'll keep that in mind." Phil says but before he can say anything an alert pops up on the screen saying that there is an incoming video call, "It's Maria." Phil informs Melinda as he answers it, "Good Morning, Maria." Phil greats as both he and Melinda stand up and he walks out from behind the desk.

"It's afternoon, Phil." Maria informs him.

"It is?" Both Phil and Melinda ask surprised.

"Yep. Have you been shut in Phil's office all day again?" Maria asks curious.

"Yeah, you know the paperwork never ends." Phil says.

"I do, but I also know that there are plenty of ways to avoid it and usually you both would." Maria says, becoming worried for her friends.

"Did you need something Maria, or were you just calling to chat?" Melinda asks, purposely changing the subject.

"I did need something. Actually I have someone here who wants to talk to you." Maria says.

"Who?" Melinda and Phil ask together and a second later Steve Rogers steps into frame.

"Captain." Phil and Melinda both great.

"Agent May, Director Coulson." Steve says and both Melinda and Maria are pretty sure that Phil is biting the inside of his mouth to stop himself from screaming in joy.

"What can we do for you, Captain?" Melinda asks, deciding to give Coulson the minute that she knows he desperately needs.

"I was wondering if I could come to your base so that we could have that conversation about S.H.I.E.L.D." Steve requests.

"Sure. Come anytime." Phil says, wanting to have this conversation as he wants to show Steve that they are doing things differently and he won't deny that he also may want Steve's approval.

"Do you have a place for one of our Quinjet's to land?" Steve asks curious, "Because if so we can be there soon."

"Yeah, we have plenty of room…"

"That's because you owe me a plane." Melinda says.

"Maria can show you were to go." Phil says, ignoring Melinda's comment.

"Yep. I can. We'll be there in about an hour." Maria says.

"See you then."

"See you then." Steve and Maria respond before cutting the connection.

"Captain America is coming to our base." Phil says to Melinda, sounding like an excited child.

"He is." Melinda confirms, "You're not going to tell him that you watched him why he was sleeping again, are you?"

"I should have never told you that." Phil says, realising that he should have known that Melinda would never let him live that down, "I am the director of S.H.I.E.L.D I can be calm, I can be professional." Phil informs his best friend.

"Around you're hero, I'll believe that when I see it." Melinda says, in a teasing tone of voice.

"We should go tell the kids what's going on. I don't think Skye will forgive me for keeping this from her." Phil says as he walks to the door.

"You do know that they aren't actually kids, right Phil?" Melinda asks.

When Phil and Melinda walk down the stairs and into the common area a few seconds later they find the six younger agents playing what appears to be volleyball with Hunter's soccer ball, Skye, Fitz and Mack against Bobbi, Hunter and Simmons. Just as they arrive down stairs Skye jumps onto Mack's back to try and make a shot, which she does manage to do, scoring a point for her team.

"Warn me next time, Tremors." Mack requests.

"I take it back." Melinda says to Phil, "They are kids." She says.

"Told ya." Phil says with a grin.

"THAT'S CHEETING!" Hunter yells and Melinda and Phil exchange looks deciding to see how this plays out before saying anything.

"No, it wasn't." Skye objects.

"It was actually." Simmons says as Bobbi picks up the ball.

"What Skye just did didn't violate any of the rules that we agreed upon." Fitz says.

"Yes it did." Simmons, Bobbi and Hunter say.

"Which one?" Skye asks and Bobbi, Hunter and Simmons exchange looks and after about a minute it becomes clear that they don't have an answer, "HUH! We get the point." Skye says with a grin.

"Your serve." Bobbi says throwing the ball at Mack, "We'll get the point back." She says.

"Hold that thought." Coulson says.

"Coulson, May, how long have you been there?" Skye asks as everyone turns to face them.

"Since you jumped on Mack." Phil explains.

"Of course." Mack says, "What's going on?" he asks curious.

"Maria Hill and Captain Rogers will be here shortly…" Phil say, being completely amused by the looks of complete shock that appeared on everyone's face.

"Um….can you repeat that." Hunter requests.

"Maria Hill and Captain Rogers will be here shortly." Phil repeats.

"Okay, he did just say what I think he just said, right?" Hunter asks, "I'm not just imagining it, right?" he asks the others.

"You're not." Skye assures him, "Captain America is coming here. Why is Captain America coming here?"

"Because he wants to talk to us about how we are reforming S.H.I.E.L.D." Phil explains, "You might want to call Weaver and Dickerson so that we can gave them on standby in video calls in case Captain Rogers wants to talk to them too." Phil says to Bobbi.

"Sure. I can do that." Bobbi says pulling his phone out of her pocket and walking over to the other side of the room.

"When will Captain Rogers and Former Commander Hill be here?" Simmons asks, curious.

"Within the hour." Melinda answers.

"You mean we only have an hour to make this place presentable for Captain America himself?" Skye asks.

"That's right." Phil says, being proud of Skye's reaction because internally he is thinking the same thing.

"We better get to work then." Mack says and Skye, Fitz and Simmons nod.

"Cleaning?" Hunter asks, clearly not fond of the idea.

"Yes." Skye, Fitz, Simmons and Mack say.

"Nice try, Hunter doesn't clean." Bobbi informs everyone as she walks back over.

"Really, Bob, who did most of the cleaning off our flat?" He asks.

"I did."

"No, I did." Hunter says, "And I did it better than you and I'll prove it." Hunter says, "Where are the cleaning supplies?" he asks.

"Lab." Simmons answers and Hunter walks out of the room, heading towards the lab.

"Did you just trick Hunter into cleaning?" Skye asks Bobbi.

"Yep." Bobbi says with a grin.

"You're awesome." Skye tells her.


About forty minutes after they informed the 'Kid's' of what who was coming to base Melinda and Phil are in the hanger waiting for Maria and Steve to arrive.

"Breathe, Phil." Melinda says as Phil is clearly very excited.

"I am, is my tie straight?" Phil asks turning to face Melinda.

"It is. I tied it for you. You have nothing to worry about." Melinda says as a Quinjet flies in.

"They're here, they're here, they're here." Phil says as the jet lands.

"They are." Melinda says, "Just keep breathing Phil." Melinda says as the ramp lowers so Melinda and Phil walk forward.

"Captain Rogers." Phil says as Phil and Melinda

"Director Coulson, Agent May." Steve says.

"Captain." Melinda says with a nod.

"Welcome to the Playground." Phil says, "It's was once an old SSR Base that Fury converted." Phil explains as he and Steve start to walk towards the doors and Melinda walks over to Maria.

"I'm invisible to him right now, aren't I?" Maria ask.

"Yep." Melinda confirms.

"Nat and Clint wanted to come, but Steve asked them to spend some time training the new recruits." Maria explains as they start to follow Phil and Steve.

"It's alright, they'll call later this afternoon." Melinda says as in the last few days they have been exchanging phone calls, "Wait. Are Nat and Clint running training un supervised?" Melinda asks.

"Yep." Maria says with a grin.

"And what, you didn't feel like warning anyone about what that would mean?" Melinda asks curious as she is very well aware of what Natasha and Clint running training involves, hell she has helped them a couple of time.

"Nope." Maria says, "They're Avengers, they should be able to handle what Natasha and Clint throw at them." Maria says as both she and Melinda use their lanyards to enter.

"You want to see if they can make them cry." Melinda realises, knowing her friend well enough to know that.

"Maybe." Melinda admits as they walk towards the common area. Melinda shaking her head at her friend.

When Maria and Melinda walk into the common area they find Skye, Fitz, Simmons, Bobbi, Mack and Hunter all trying to talk to Steve at once.

"What was it like in the forties?" Skye asks.

"Can you really not get drunk?" Hunter asks.

"What did it feel like when the serum was being injected?" Fitz asks.

"Can we spar sometime?" Bobbi asks.

"How much can you lift?" Mack asks.

"What was Peggy Carter like?" Simmons asks.

"Give the Captain some air." Melinda requests, "One question at a time." She says and everyone falls quiet.

"To answer your questions Peggy Carter is one of the, if not the, most amazing person I've ever met." Steve says with a grin, "I don't know if there is a limit to what I can lift, I haven't tried." He tells Mack, "Um, sure I guess we could spar sometime." Steve says and Bobbi grins, "Painful, that's what it felt like when I was being injected. I can't get drunk; and I guess different is the best way to describe how the forties was. I can sit down and talk to you in more detail if you would like." Steve says to Skye.

"I would like that." Skye says happily.

"Let's head up to my office." Phil suggests and Steve nods, "Bobbi, why don't you join us." He says and Bobbi nods, "Bobbi is a member of the council overseeing me." Phil explains.

"Who else is on the council?" Steve asks as he, Phil, Melinda, Maria and Bobbi head upstairs.

"Agent May, and two other agents who are on standby on video conference if you would like to talk to them." Phil says.

"I would." Steve confirms then realises something, "That's only four. I thought that there was five members in the council." He says.

"There is." Phil says as they reach his office, "But we recently lost our fifth member and head of the council. We're looking for a replacement." He explains.

"I was offered the position." Maria says to Steve's surprise, "it's something I'm still considering." She says.

"I see." Steve says as Melinda closes the door behind them, "So let me see if I understand how this works. There is one director, you." He says looking at Phil, "And you make the decisions, but the council oversees you and advices you." He says.

"Not quiet." Phil says, "I make most of the decisions but for very big decisions I consult the council." Phil explains as even though that is against his instincts it is something that he is trying to do because it is in S.H.I.E.L.D's best interest.

"And what about secrets?" Steve asks, "Do you share more or do you compartmentalise like Fury did?" Steve ask.

"Both." Bobbi says, "We're spies, sharing isn't our instinct but we are trying, but we also know that secrets are needed sometimes, especially with what we do." She explains, "We're trying to find a middle ground." She admits.

"You and the Avengers do an amazing job but you can't do everything. You can't be everywhere, but we can help." Phil says, "Nick Fury said it himself last year the principle that S.H.I.E.L.D was founded on was pure, it was protection and that's what everyone here, everyone downstairs, and everyone on our ship want to do; we want to protect people, we want to be their S.H.I.E.L.D."

"Hydra destroyed all of our words. Friends died, others turned on us, and we realised that everything we thought we knew was lies." Bobbi says, "We dedicate our lives to S.H.I.E.L.D and once it was gone we didn't' know where we fit."

"But we knew what we're fighting for, what we always fought for. So we all decided to re-build S.H.I.E.L.D to be what we thought it was always was, but better." Melinda says.

"S.H.I.E.L.D had it's problems, we all know that, but it also did a lot of good, more than you know." Maria says looking at Steve.

"Howard Stark and Peggy Carter founded S.H.I.E.L.D after the war because it's what the world needed and it's still needs us." Phil says, "I understand that you have you doubts, after what happened I don't blame you, but we're trying to be different, we're trying to be better, let us prove that to you." Phil requests.

"I see that you're trying." Steve says, realising that he didn't really see how S.H.I.E.L.D's fell affected the S.H.I.E.L.D agents who dedicated their lives to it, Natasha, Clint and Maria haven't really wanted to talk about it, and he hasn't seen other agents, "I would like to meet the other members of your council." Steve says as he thinks that maybe this good be a good thing. Maybe S.H.I.E.L.D could be the S.H.I.E.L.D that he imagine Peggy and Howard started again.

"Of course." Bobbi says walking over to the control panel and connecting the calls.


"They've been up there a while." Skye comments about an hour after Phil, Melinda, Maria, Steve and Bobbi went upstairs.

"Well they have a lot to talk about." Fitz comments.

"Yeah, I know." Skye says, "What If he doesn't approve?" Skye asks.

"What do you mean?" Mack asks curious.

"What if Captain Rogers doesn't approve of S.H.I.E.L.D and doesn't want it to exist, what happens then?" Skye asks and everyone exchanges looks.

"Coulson wouldn't just shut down S.H.I.E.L.D because someone doesn't approve." Hunter says, "After all it's not like many people approve as it is."

"This is different, this is Captain America, and he's like Coulson's hero." Fitz says, "I don't know what would happen."

"I think we're about to find out." Simmons says as she spots people walking down the stairs. All five of them quickly stand up and walk over to the stairs so that they can find out what is going on.

"Thank you Captain." Phil says as they walk down the stairs the two of them in front of everyone else.

"You don't have to thank me." Steve says, "As long as you continue to do things how you are now and how we agreed to I don't see us having any problems." He says.

"We will." Phil assures.

"Are we sure that having no public connection between the Avengers and S.H.I.E.L.D is a good idea?' Bobbi asks.

"Yes." Phil, Melinda, Maria and Steve say.

"S.H.I.E.L.D's still not very popular in the public and the Avengers are losing public favour too. For now at least it's better they have no public connection." Maria says.

"But we will still support each other." Steve says, "Share intel. Offer each other back up when needed."

"That would be good." Phil says.

"So, we're staying?" Skye asks, "We're still S.H.I.E.L.D?"

"You're still S.H.I.E.L.D." Steve confirms.

"Thank god." Skye says relived, "I was soo worried I mean you're Captain America, Coulson still complains about what Fury did to his Captain America card collection, if you said no to what we were doing he would listen." Skye says and then she realise what she said, "And I'm going to stop talking before I embarrasses myself further." She says as Simmons pats her on the shoulder.

"You didn't embarrass yourself." Steve assures her, "And speaking of card collection I have something for you." Steve says pulling something out of his jacket pocket, "I think these belong to you." Steve says handing a stack of cards to Phil.

"My card collection." Phil says as he accepts the cards sounding completely shocked and overjoyed.

"I signed them for you and I replaced the ones that were ruined." Steve says and before anyone can react Phil has basically thrown himself on Steve hugging him which causes both Maria and Melinda to exchange amused looks.

"Um, thank you Captain." Phil says, after realising what he did and trying to collect himself.

"You're welcome, and it's Steve."

"Phil." Phil says, "I should put these upstairs." Phil says and he practically skips upstairs.

"Wow, he's happy." Skye says.

"He's more than happy. You made his dreams come true." Maria informs Steve.

"Seeing as how Phil won't be down for a while how about I show you out." Melinda suggests.

"Sure. It was nice meeting you all. I'm sure we'll see each other again." Steve says as he, Melinda and Maria walk out the room leaving the others.


About five minutes later Melinda walks into Phil's office where she finds him staring at the cards, which he has delicately laid out on the table, with a look of pure joy on his face.

"Maria and Captain Rogers have left." Melinda informs Phil as she sits down across from him.

"Steve." Phil corrects, "He said I could call him Steve."

"I heard." Melinda say, "You also hugged him." Melinda says with a teasing smirk.

"I know. I don't know what came over me." Phil says sounding slightly embarrassed, "These are all in near mint." Phil says happily, "And their all signed!"

"I see that." Melinda says but before either of them can say anymore the tone that tells them that there is an incoming video call goes off, "Are we expecting anyone?"

"No." Phil says and he presses answer. To the surprise of both Phil and Melinda Natasha and Clint appear on the screen.

"Done with training are you?" Melinda asks, no needing to ask how they hacked the channel because it's Natasha and Clint.

"Yep." Clint says, not needing to ask how she knows about training as he assumes Maria told her.

"Did you make anyone cry?" Melinda asks curious.

"Nope; but Sam had some pretty creative swear words for us." Natasha says with a proud grin.

"Good job."

"Um, why is Phil grinning like a cat?" Clint asks, a little worried.

"Steve approves of S.H.I.E.L.D, and he gave me my card collection back, and he signed them, and he said I can call him Steve." Phil says so quickly that you can almost not understand him but Natasha and Clint manage.

"I see." Clint says, "Big day for you."

"Yeah it is." Phil says, realising that he is disappointed that Clint didn't tease him about his love of Captain America like he would have usually done.

"Phil also almost knocked Steve over in an attempt to hug him." Melinda says, trying to make things better.

"Wow, Phil, wow." Natasha says with a slight smirk.

"I was happy." Phil defends.

"We see that." Clint says.

"Soo, how are things at the Playground?" Natasha asks.

"It's living up to its name." Melinda says.

"Oh?" Clint asks.

"The kids were playing volleyball with a soccer ball today and using it as an excuse to jump on each other." Phil explains.

"That sounds like it could be really fun." Clint says and Natasha rolls her eyes, "What it does." He says in defence.

"So, how are things there?" Melinda asks curious.

"Okay, the same as they were last time we talked." Natasha says.

"Right." Phil responds, then realises something, "Oh, when he gets back tell Steve that I'll give a crate of ICERS to the next person who comes and visits from your end."

"Can do." Clint says and the four drift into silence, none of them really sure what to say when it is clear that things aren't right between them.


"You want to accept the offer, don't you?" Steve says to Maria about ten minutes after they left the Playground.

"Huh, what?" Maria asks as honestly she wasn't paying attention.

"The head of the council position, you want to take it, don't you?" Steve asks as after the way Maria talked about S.H.I.E.L.D, defended S.H.I.E.L.D it seems like it.

"I don't know, maybe." Maria says, "I was seventeen when I started at the academy, when I started with S.H.I.E.L.D. I was at the academy for two years before being assigned to Mel and for the first time I felt like I had a real home, I had a family." Maria admits, only sharing because no one else is around to hear and because she thinks Steve needs to understand, "We made the right call to dump everything online, I believe that, I do, but we also destroyed something that so many of us believed in and considered more than job." Maria says, "Phil, Mel, Bobbi and the others are all trying to re-build S.H.I.E.L.D to be what we all believed it was, believed it could be. So yeah, maybe I do want to be a part of that, maybe I do want to make it better after all the mistakes I made." Maria admits.

"Then you should." Steve says, "If it's what you really want then you should accept the position."

"I'll think about it." Maria says and they both drift into silence.

Chapter Text

Chapter 7

Disclaimer: I don' own anything.


Three days after Steve came to the playground, a week after The Avengers and Pepper learnt that Phil is alive, at about eight am the 'kids' are down in the common area while Phil and Melinda are upstairs, where they have been continuing to spend all their time, when to the younger agents surprise Maria walks in.

"Commander Hill. This is a surprise." Skye says, being the first one to spot Maria.

"Just call me Maria."

"Sure." Skye says as Maria walks over to where they are all sitting, "I take it you're looking for Coulson and May."

"I am. I take it they're upstairs?" Maria asks.

"Of course. They barley leave these days." Skye says with a frown.

"Great." Maria says with a sigh as she rubs her eyes.

"Are you okay, Maria?" Bobbi asks concerned.

"No, not really." Maria admits, "I just left two of the people I am closes in in this world who are giving me the cold shoulder are sulking and miserable even though they are pretending not to be. I was kind of hoping for something different from the these two." Maria says with another sigh, "Maybe I should call in the big gun." She mutters to herself though it is loud enough for everyone to here.

"Who's the big gun?" Hunter asks curious.

"You'll see." Maria says with a smirk as she walks towards the stairs, "I'll see you kids later."

"Seriously Hill! I'm only three years younger than you." Bobbi calls as Maria walks up the stairs.

"And I'm older than you." Mack calls.

"You're still kids." Maria says calls down from the top of the stairs.

"You know if they are insisting on calling us kids' then maybe we should act like it." Skye says with a grin, getting an idea.

"I'm listening." Hunter says, smirking.


"With how much you've been doing lately I would have thought you would be done by paperwork by now." Maria comments when she walks into Coulson's office without knocking and sees what Phil and Melinda are doing.

"We're finally catching up on the backlog." Phil says, "What are you doing here, Maria?"

"Wow, nice to see you to Phil." Maria says sarcastically and Melinda snorts into her tea.

"I'm sorry. It's nice to see you Maria, what are you doing here?" Phil asks as Maria pulls a chair over and sits next to Melinda.

"Good enough." Maria says with a shrug, "Two things, one I accept the Head of Board position."

"You do." Melinda says, actually showing that she is happy with that.

"Yeah I do." Maria says, "I'm still going to work with the Avengers so I'll be a liaison as well, if that's okay with you." She says to Phil.

"Sounds good to me." Phil says, "I'll let Weaver, Dickerson and Bobbi know, then we can figure out how to coordinate things."

"Good plan." Maria says before reaching over and grabbing Phil's coffee cup.

"Do you mind?" Phil asks, annoyed.

"Nope." Maria says taking a mouthful, "You're coffee tastes still suck." She says before putting it back where it was.

"That's because you like yours with like the smallest bit of milk possible." Phil says.

"What's the second thing?" Melinda asks, knowing from experience that once Phil and Maria start to argue about coffee it can go on for a while.

"Dinner tomorrow night at Avenger's Tower." Maria says, "Everyone's going to be there and they want the two of you and the team there too." Maria explains.

"Everyone wants us?" Phil asks giving Maria a look.

"Yeah, even them." Maria says, "It could be fun. Plus Tony said that he'll make sure the landing area is free so that you can fly the Quinjet instead of driving." Maria explains.

"I don't know…" Phil says looking at Melinda for advice.

"A night away from this office will do you both some good. Plus maybe seeing Nat and Clint in person, talking to them could do help things."

"And how's that been working for you in the last week?" Melinda asks.

"Good point. But we've had some good moments. The fact is that we're not going to get back to the way things were, back to what we were, unless the five of us spend time together. This is a chance." Maria says.

"What time?" Phil asks, realising that Maria isn't going to give up and that maybe she is right and it could be a good thing.

"Seven."

"We'll be there." Melinda tells her.

"Good."

"So do you have to get back to New York or are you going to stick around for a while?" Phil ask curious.

"I should get back, but I'll stick around for a while." Maria says as honestly she would like some time away from the cold shoulder's she is getting from Natasha and Clint.

"Then you might as well make yourself useful." Melinda says grabbing some of the paperwork she is doing and putting it in front of Maria.

"Wow, flashbacks to the old days or what?" Maria asks, picking up a piece of paper, but before Phil or Melinda can say anything the all hear screams from downstairs, "Definitely flashbacks to the old days." Maria mutters as she drops what she is holding and the three of them run downstairs.

When Melinda, Phil and Maria arrive downstairs a few seconds later they find, Skye, Fitz, Simmons, Bobbi, Mack and Hunter having what appears to be a war will silly string that they are spraying at each other, although Bobbi seems to be the only one who hasn't been hit; because they don't realise who has arrived and because Phil, Melinda and Maria haven't had a chance to say anything yet Hunter manages to spray Phil while aiming for Simmons who is running past them.

"Sorry, Director." Hunter says, honestly glad that he got Coulson and not May.

"Where did you get the silly string?" Phil asks that being the first thing he can think to ask as for a long time silly string was banned in S.H.I.E.L.D thanks to Melinda and Clint and one to many incidents for Fury's liking.

"Hunter, Skye and I got several boxes of it when we were doing shopping last week." Fitz explains.

"And you're fighting with it, why?" Maria asks.

"Because you keep calling us kids so we figure we might as well act like it." Skye explains with a smile.

"Okay, clean up any mess you make." Phil says, like it is no big deal, which thanks to the fact that he has spent so much time with Clint and Melinda it really isn't.

"Wait, that's it? Clean up any mess you make? That's all you have to say?" Bobbi asks surprised.

"In our line of work you need some childish fun every now and again." Phil says, "I learnt that a long time ago." He says causing Melinda and Maria to exchange smiles as they both know who taught him that lesson.

"Have fun, but no more screaming." Melinda says before spraying Bobbi with a can of silly string that she somehow managed to get from Simmons without anyone noticing, "Much better." Melinda says before handing the can back to Simmons and heading back upstairs, leaving six shocked and two amused people.

"How the hell did she do that?" Mack ask.

"It's what she does." Maria and Phil say together.

"So as much as I would love to stay and take a stroll down memory lane with you and Mel I should be getting back to New York." Maria informs Phil.

"You sure?" Phil asks surprised as a few minutes ago Maria seemed quiet eager to stay.

"Yeah. There's no point doing your paperwork here when I've got a pile of my own waiting for me in New York." Maria says, lying which Phil realises. Even though Maria really doesn't want to go back to New York and face Natasha and Clint continuing to give her the cold shoulder Skye, Fitz, Simmons, Mack, Bobbi and Hunter are reminding her a bit too much of how the five of them used to be and it's hurting when she remembers that they aren't like that at the moment.

"Makes sense." Phil says, it being clear to the two of them exactly what he is really saying.

"Yeah." Maria says as she walks across the room, "We'll talk later about coordinating thing." Maria tells Phil.

"That would be good." Phil says.

"Wait. You accepted the head of the Council position?" Bobbi asks, hoping the answer is yes as she agrees that Maria is the best choice.

"Yep." Maria says with a grin, "I'll see you all tomorrow night." Maria says as she steals a can of silly string from Fitz.

"Why? What's going on tomorrow night?" Skye asks.

"Ask Phil." Maria says as she sprays Mack then throws the can to Fitz before leaving.

"Coulson?" Skye asks but he has already returned upstairs.

"He's gone." Hunter informs Skye.

"Yeah, I noticed." Skye says before spraying Hunter right in the face with the silly string and once more the war continues.


Ever since Maria left about five hours ago Phil and Melinda have been up in Coulson's office. In the hours since they returned upstairs they haven't heard any more screams coming from the younger agent just loud laughter and happy yells.

"Can I come in?" Skye asks knocking on the door and pushing it open a bit, but not stepping inside.

"Sure." Phil says, "I take it that the silly string fight is over."

"Yeah, we ran out of silly string. Then throwing the strings that were everywhere got boring." Skye explains.

"Have you cleaned up downstairs yet?" Melinda asks.

"Yep." Skye says as she sits down on the edge of Coulson's table, "So Maria said that she'll see us tomorrow night. What's going on tomorrow night?" Skye asks curious.

"Dinner." Phil says, "The eight of us have been invited to dinner tomorrow night at Avengers Tower with the Avengers, Maria and Pepper Potts." Phil explains.

"Oh my god." Skye says getting a look of shocked joy on her face as she stands up, "Oh my god, oh my god, JEMMA, FTIZ YOU'RE NEVER GOING TO BELIEVE THIS." Skye yells as she runs out of the room.

"At least someone's excited." Melinda comments.

"You're not?" Phil asks.

"I would like to think that Maria is right and that this could be a good thing for us, but chances are this won't help." Melinda says.

"But it might, we've got to focus on that." Phil says.

"I should go do the inventory on the ICERS so we can box some up for the Avengers." Melinda says.

"Sure, I'll see you later." Phil says, realising that Melinda doesn't want to take about the strain between them and two of their closes friends anymore. Melinda nods and walks out of the room without another word.

(Line break)

At quarter to seven the follow evening the Avengers, Pepper and Maria are at the tower all waiting for the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D to arrive.

"Are you alright, Maria?" Pepper asks curious.

"Yeah, why?" Maria asks, lying.

"Because you've been here twenty minutes and you're already on your second beer." Pepper comments, "So, do you want to talk about whatever's bothering you?"

"Not particularly." Maria says looking over at where Natasha and Clint are talking to Steve and Tony.

"Ah, I see." Pepper says, noticing what Maria is looking at, "Is there anything I can do to help?" Pepper asks.

"Go back in time and tell me to ignore Fury orders and tell Nat and Clint that Phil is alive." Maria asks.

"Sorry, building a time machine would be more Tony's department, not mine." Pepper says.

"I know." Maria admits, "There's nothing you can do to help Pepper, but that's for the offer." Maria tells your friend.

"You don't have to thank me for that." Pepper says.

"S.H.I.E.L.D Quinjet will be landing in the next few minutes." Tony says and everyone nods and heads down to the landing bay.


"Are we nearly there?" Skye asks Phil curious.

"Should be landing in a few minutes." Melinda says from the front.

"Okay, this is really happening." Skye says shocked.

"It will be okay, Skye. There is no reason to be nervous." Phil informs her.

"Yeah, then why are you and May?" Skye asks.

"She's got you there, Sir." Bobbi says, "You've both been tense since yesterday."

"That has nothing to do with nerves." Phil says, "That has to do with worry"

"About Barton and Natasha." Bobbi comments and Phil nods.

"Buy them a drink." Hunter suggests and everyone turns to look at them, "You'll be amazed the problems that can be fixed with a good pint."

"I'll remember that." Phil says and even though that has helped in the past he doubts that it will this time.

"We're here." Melinda says walking out from the cockpit.

"The Avengers, we're having dinner with the Avengers." Fitz says standing up.

"Yeah, we are Turbo." Mack says as everyone walks over to the ramp. Melinda picking up the box of ICERS as they do.

"Thanks for inviting us." Phil says to Pepper and Tony.

"You're welcome." Pepper says.

"Come on Agent, we've got an appointment in the lab." Tony says basically dragging Phil away.

"It's Director now." Phil says, not even bothering to fight Tony.

"Fine, Come on Director Agent, we've got an appointment in the lab." Tony says.

While Phil is being dragged away Melinda walks over to Steve holding the box of ICERS, "I believe we promised you these." She says.

"ICERS?" Steve asks.

"Yep." Melinda confirms, "They easy to use, but if you have any questions contact Fitz and he'll be more than happy to answer them." She says.

"I'll remember that." Steve says as he accepts the box.

While Steve and Melinda talk Fitz and Mack walk over to Rhodey and start a conversation about his suit while Simmons and Skye walk over to Vision and start asking all kinds of questions. To Skye's shock while they are talking to Vision Wanda comes up and hugs them both.

"Um, what was that for?" Skye asks, being able to get out of her shock first.

"You've both been through pain, both trying to deal with the darkness you have seen while pretending you are okay." Wanda says, having felt drawn to the two young woman from when she saw them last week, "You don't have to pretend here, or around the people you consider family. Everyone wants to help, they will not judge you."

"Um, thanks." Simmons says shocked, not sure what else to say.

"I'm sorry about your brother." Skye says as she read the Avengers official reports, reports that are very classified, so she knows what happened.

"I'm sorry about your parents." Wanda responds, "Skye here is an excellent hacker, and Jemma has two PhD in Biochemistry." She informs Vision.

"Really?" Vision asks, quiet impressed with both young woman, "That's quite impressive."

"Thanks." Skye says and the three girls and android walk off together happily talking.


"So how does the current prosthetic feel?" Tony asks about five minutes after he and Phil arrived in the lab. Phil is sitting on a table while Tony connects different things and has a look at Phil's arm.

"Like it's not really my arm." Phil mutters.

"I'm not sure if I can help with that." Tony admits, not sure what else to say, "The design work on this is incredible." Tony says, actually sounding impressed, "And it seems to be fit correctly. Do you feel any pinching or pain from where it connects?"

"There's a little bit of pinching." Phil admits.

"Where?" Tony asks and Phil shows him, "Hum…How is the range of movement been?" he asks.

"Fine…" Phil says, though it is clear that he is avoiding saying something.

"Look, Phil." Tony says to Phil's absolute shock as he sits down across from Coulson, "We've had our issues in in the past, but I do consider you a friend and I want to help. So what aren't you saying?"

"I can't tie my own tie." Phil admits, "Fitz and Simmons did an amazing job. It's almost perfect, but I can't tie my own tie. I have to ask for help."

"Tie a tie huh." Tony says, getting a look on his face like he is thinking about something, "That I can do."

"Really?" Phil asks, trying not to get his hopes up.

"Who do you think you're talking to Agent, of course I can." Tony says with a grin, "Also I think I have an idea for a material that could help the whole not really feeling like your arm thing, give me a week, ish." Tony says as he quickly starts to type things onto a tablet.

"Thank you, Tony." Phil says gratefully and Tony just waves him off as if to say it's fine.


While Tony and Phil are in the lab everyone else has migrated to the main common area. Fitz, Mack and Rhodey are off in a corner talking, Steve, Sam, Bobbi and Hunter are in another talking, Wanda, Vision, Skye and Simmons are sitting on the couches in the centre of the room talking, and Melinda, Maria, Maria and Clint are sitting off to the side together where they have the best vantage point of the room while Pepper is checking on everything and is about to go check to see what is holding up Phil and Tony.

"Anyone else worried about what those four could do together?" Maria asks referring to Skye, Simmons, Wanda and Vision.

"Oh yeah." Clint says taking a sip of his drink.

"It could be a good thing." Natasha says, "From what you've said about Skye and Simmons they both been through a lot, maybe taking to someone who understands could help." Natasha says, "And honestly I think this is the happiest I've seen Wanda since Pietro died."

"They do seem like to be helping each other." Melinda comments as she notices spark back in Simmons's eye and Skye seemingly more relaxed, and the four friends drift into silence once more.

"So Mel, Andrew's been to The Playground." Natasha comments, breaking the silence after a few minutes.

"You hacked The Playground's security system." Melinda says, "What am I saying, of course you did."

"I had to check things out. It actually took me a while to get in, so props for that." Natasha comments, it being clear to Clint, Maria and Melinda that she is impressed with that.

"You can thank Skye for that." Melinda tells her friend.

"So Andrew, what's going on there?" Clint asks interested as he attempts to make things normal between them though there is a clear tension present.

"He helped Skye when she first developed her powers." Melinda explains, it feeling odd to do so until she reminds herself that this is the kind of thing she would usually share with them, "He conducted her INDEX assessment."

"That was months ago." Natasha says, "Up until a month ago he made regular visits to base, want to explain that." Natasha says, Melinda knowing that even though it may sound like a suggestion it's really not. Natasha will get the answers she wants.

"Wait, what?" Maria asks surprised.

"You knew he was helping after the battle with the Inhumans and what happened with Bobbi." Melinda reminds her friend.

"I did. But you didn't say he was there more than once." Maria says, wondering why Melinda or Phil didn't mention that.

"Didn't I? Must have slipped my mind." Melinda comments.

"Nice try, but stuff like that doesn't slip your mind. Are you two back together?" Clint asks, the emotion in his voice being hard to read, even to those who know him best.

"No. He's engaged."

"If he wasn't would you be?" Natasha asks, like Clint her voice being even harder to read than normal.

"No." Melinda says, not needing to think about it, "Andrew's my past. I'm not the person he feel in love with, I'm not the person who loved him anymore." Melinda admits, even though she knows that a part of her will always love Andrew she isn't in love with him, "He came to the base to help everyone after everything that happened, and we got some closure." She admits, "We finally faced what happened, finally really talked about it."

"Bahrain." Clint realises, hesitantly saying the word.

"And the aftermath." Melinda says with a nod.

"What brought that on?" Natasha asks, not being able to help her curiosity as she was by Melinda's side after she left Andrew she saw her in a way no one else did.

"Skye." Melinda says looking directly at Natasha, "Her mother told her exactly what happened." Melinda says, not looking away from Natasha's eyes as apart from Andrew, and the report she had to file for Fury, Natasha was the only person who knew the truth back then. Natasha knew because she recognized the look in Melinda's eyes and knew what had happened without Melinda having to say it, though Melinda did explain the whole story, "They were Inhumans." Melinda says a Maria and Clint exchange confused looks at the use of 'they' as even though Maria had the clearance to read the file on what happened in Bahrain she didn't out of respect to her friend.

"How did she tell you that she knew?" Natasha says, being able to read Melinda, something which is not easy to do, and know that there is something more.

"Nat, don't.." Melinda requests as even though it hurt like hell to have Bahrain thrown in her face she has forgiven Skye for that.

"She used it against you." Natasha realises, anger in her voice.

"It doesn't matter." Melinda says.

"Yes it does." Natasha says as even with how angry she is with Melinda, how betrayed she feels, she isn't okay with Skye using Bahrain in Melinda's face and she can't believe that Melinda is.

"Dinner's ready." Pepper's voice calls as Tony and Phil step out of the elevator.

"Nat, wait." Melinda says stoping Natasha from following the Maria and Clint to the table, "Don't give Skye a hard time about this."

"You did what you had to do, and it destroyed you, the guilt almost killed you. No one has the right to use that against you, I don't care who they are." Natasha informs Melinda in an angry whisper.

"We put it behind us. We talked about it. Skye had her reasons Nat and she feel guilty for what she did. Don't give her a hard time, please." Melinda requests and it's clear to Melinda that Natasha isn't a fan of that idea, "For me." She adds, not sure if that is a good idea as at the moment she is pretty sure that that doesn't carry as much weight as it once did.

"I won't give her a hard time." Natasha says, choosing her word carefully because she has every intention of talking to Skye about that.

"Thank you." Melinda says believing that Natasha won't give Skye a hard time though suspecting that she will talk to Skye about it.

Natasha gives Melinda a nod and they both walk over to the table where Melinda sits between Skye and Maria and Natasha sits between Mack and Clint. Once again Tony is at the head of the table, Steve is at the other end. On the left it is Pepper, Phil, Skye, Melinda, Maria, Hunter, Wanda, Sam and on the right is Rhodey, Fitz, Mack, Natasha, Clint, Bobbi, Jemma, and Vision.

"Finally decided to join us did you?" Tony comments as Natasha and Melinda sit down.

"It's been like a minute Tony." Natasha says annoyed.

"Well, now that everyone has, finally, joined us I would like to propose a toast." Tony says standing up and picking up his glass, "Told old friends, new friends, a long overdue dinner, and to a long, hopefully better, partnership between S.H.I.E.L.D and the Avengers." Tony says but before everyone can repeat the toast they are interrupted by a ding from the elevator, "Are we expecting anyone else?" Tony asks Pepper curious.

"No." She says as to everyone's surprise Fury steps out.

"Barton, May, Romanoff, Coulson, Hill. Other room now." Fury says his voice being completely stern and serious and a tone that the five Agents mentioned recognize very well.

"Okay, who went running to Dad?" Clint asks.

Chapter Text

Chapter 8

Disclaimer: I don' own anything.


"Dad? Really? That's great." Tony says with a grin, not being able to believe that he hasn't thought of that.

"Not the time, Barton." Fury warns, "Other room, now." He says giving each of the five S.H.I.E.L.D agents that he is closes to, the five people that he trusts the most, a look; because of the fact that all five of them are very familiar with the look they all get up and follow him to the other room without arguing.

"You called him, didn't you?" Melinda asks Maria in a whisper.

"I was desperate." Maria defends, "I didn't expect him to crash dinner in Disapproving Director Dad Mode." Maria admits, though she realise that she should have.

"What were you expecting?" Melinda asks.

"Help to work this whole thing out." Melinda admits.

"Ahh, so that's the Big Gun, should have realise that that's who Hill was talking about." Hunter comments.

"What do you mean?" Pepper asks curious.

"Yesterday Maria said that maybe she should call in the Big Gun because of what is going on with her, Coulson, May, Barton, and Natasha. Guess that's Fury." Bobbi says.

"Make sense." Steve says.

"So do we wait for them, or eat, or what?" Skye asks and everyone exchanges looks.


When Fury, Melinda, Phil, Natasha, Clint and Maria walk into the room Fury turns to face the five Agents and Natasha walks right up to him and punches him in the face.

"You should have told us." Natasha says before walking back over and standing with the others.

"Maybe I should have, but I had my reasons." Fury says, not even phased by the punch as he received one from both Melinda and Maria when they learnt the truth so he was expecting at least that from Natasha if she found out.

"We've heard your reasons and they were crap." Clint says, "We get that the procedures were risky and dodgy but that was all the more reason to tell us!" He says, "We could have helped, we would have wanted to."

"I told you so, Sir." Maria says adding the sir to sound a bit more respectful.

"We both told you so." Melinda adds.

"All three of us did." Phil says as even he told Fury that Natasha and Clint should be told.

"I'm not here to talk about the mistakes I made. I'm here to talk about the mistakes the five of you are making now." Fury says, "Phil, Maria and Melinda were following my orders when they kept Phil's resurrection from you." He tells Natasha and Clint.

"Doesn't change anything. They still kept it from us." Natasha says, "We don't keep something like this from each other, you know that." Natasha tells Fury; knowing that he is the only person outside the five of them who fully understands their relationship, not even Andrew, who was married to Melinda and knew the rest of them pretty well, understood their relationship fully.

"Yeah, I do. I know what you lot mean to each other and I thought you could handle this. I thought that if Phil ever got the all clear and you were told the truth, you would handle it and be fine because of that very thing." Fury tells the five agents.

"Well you thought wrong." Clint says.

"Okay, that's it. You're giving me no choice." Fury says, it being clear that he is close to losing his cool.

"Sir?" Phil asks, actually growing concerned.

"What you lot have is something that comes along once in a lifetime, if you're lucky, and you're letting it fall apart." Fury says, "Well not any longer. You're going to deal with your issues and you're going to figure a way to trust each other again, to be what you were again."

"Oh? How are we going to do that?" Natasha asks, not seeing how that can happen any time soon.

"I'm taking you to my place in the country." Fury says, "You will spend four days there with just each other and technology or contact. You will sort yourselves out, you will get your shit together, and that's an order." Fury says, there being no room for argument in his voice.

"You're forgetting something Sir, none of us work for you anymore." Melinda points out, being pretty sure that all of them would be begging for something to day by the second day considering how things are with them at the moment.

"I'm not forgetting that, May." Fury says, "I'm calling in Budapest." Fury tells the five agents, getting some amusement from the looks of complete shock that appears on their faces.

"For this?" All five of them asks shocked.

"Yes." Fury says.

"Wow, Sir. Don't ever pretend that you don't care again because you just used your ultimate trump card to try and get us to be what we were again." Clint says impressed, "You wouldn't do that if you didn't care."

"I care about getting the best team I've ever seen back to that again."

"Nice try, but it's clear now, you care about us." Maria says with a grin.

"We're leaving, now." Fury tells them, "There's enough supplies where you're going to cover you for the few days." Fury says.

"Hang on, who's going to run S.H.I.E.L.D while we're gone?" Phil asks, just realising that particular problem.

"And we have Avenger stuff to do." Natasha points out.

"The rest of the council can handle big S.H.I.E.L.D issues and Billy, Skye and Bobbi can manage the Playground." Fury says to Phil and Melinda, "And things at the Avengers Facility will be fine without you for four days." He says looking at Natasha, Clint and Maria, "If anything big comes up I'll get you back." Fury says, "Let's go." He says walking to the door, "NOW AGENTS." He says when they make no effort to follow him.

Natasha, Clint, Melinda, Maria and Phil exchange a look, none of them wanting to do this, but all of them realise that they can't really refuses seeing as how Fury played the Budapest card so they follow him, all wondering and worrying about how the next few days are going to go.


"Maybe we should just start eating." Sam comments when Natasha, Clint, Melinda, Maria, Phil and Fury have been gone for a while.

"No need, their coming back now." Wanda says and a few seconds later the door opens and Fury followed by Natasha, Clint, Melinda, Phil and Maria walk out, the five agents looking less than impressed.

"Wow, they don't look happy." Skye says to Fitz and Mack who are sitting across from her.

"They really don't." Fitz confirms.

"So Fury, you joining us for dinner?" Tony asks.

"No, and May, Barton, Romanoff, Coulson and Hill aren't staying." Fury says.

"Why not?" Several people around the table ask.

"They're going away for a few days." Fury says, "Morse, Skye along with Billy you'll be in charge of the Playground and the Council can handle any issues. I am also borrowing your Quinjet, but it will be back by the time you're ready to leave." He says.

"Yes Sir." Bobbi says, recognizing the look on Fury's face and knowing it's better not to object.

"WHAT! WHY?" Skye asks, "Where are you taking Coulson and May?" Skye questions.

"Away for a few days." Fury says.

"That really doesn't answer the question." Hunter says.

"It's okay Skye, we'll be back in five days." Coulson tells her, giving her a reassuring look.

"You better be." Skye says, not being able to help but being concerned about what is going on.

"How can we get in contact with you in case something happens?" Steve asks.

"You won't be able to." Natasha says.

"You can contact me and if they are needed I'll bring them back." Fury explains.

"What's going on?" Steve asks standing up and walking over to Fury, "Is this a mission?"

"No."

"Would you tell us if it was?" Tony asks as he very much doubts it.

"No." Fury says.

"But we would." Clint adds, "We're going away for a few days. This isn't a mission or business, it's personal." He says.

"Okay, then." Sam says surprised as he didn't think Clint and Natasha did personal.

"Don't destroy the base." Melinda says to her agents though she is looking specifically at Skye and Hunter, "See you in a few days." She adds, looking directly at Skye.

"Sorry about skipping out on dinner again." Phil says feeling bad about that.

"One of these days you will stay for the whole meal." Pepper says.

"You can count on it." Phil responds.

"Time to go Agents." Fury says and they all head to the elevator.

"Okay, what just happened?" Rhodey asks.

"I think Director Fury just stepped in to get those five back to what they used to be." Bobbi says with a look of surprise on her face.

"No. He wouldn't." Tony says, disbelieving, "Do you really think so?"

"That's what it seems like." Bobbi says, being amazed by that.

"That's exactly what's happened." Wanda says.

"Where are they going?" Steve asks.

"A place away from everywhere and everyone where they can figure out their issues." Wanda explains.

"Okay, five Agents locked up together when they're having issues. Anyone else worried about what's going to happen?" Tony asks.

"They'll be fine." Skye says determinable, "They have to be." She adds quietly and because she is closes to Skye Pepper gives her a comforting smile.


While the others are talking about what is going on Phil, Melinda, Natasha, Clint, Maria and Fury are arriving at the hanger downstairs.

"Phones and weapons on the side." Fury instructs and the five agents give him, 'yeah that's not happening' looks, "There are weapons where I am taking you if you need them and there's no point in taking you away if you have your phones." Fury says, "So I'm not asking again." He says and reluctantly the five agents put their phones, each of them having at least two, on the side and Clint puts a knife. Phil and Maria each put an ICER and both Natasha and Melinda put a knife and a gun, Melinda's being an ICER Natasha's being a regular one, "Back up gun and widow bites Natasha." Fury instructs.

Natasha gives him an annoyed look at that but she does pull a second gun and some widow bites out and puts them with the other weapons, "Happy?" Natasha asks in a deadpan voice.

"Thrilled." Fury says in the exact same tone of voice, "Time to go." Fury says and they all walk into the Quinjet.

Out of habit Melinda and Clint walk straight to the cockpit and sit down. They are just about to start the take-off procedure when Fury walks up behind them and clears his throat.

"Right, we don't know where we are going." Clint says and after they exchange annoyed looks, because neither of them like to be in the backseat when flying, both Clint and Melinda head back and sit down with Phil, Maria and Natasha while Fury sits in the pilot's seat.

"This is going to be fun." Natasha says sarcastically as Clint and Melinda sit down.

"Hopefully there's alcohol." Maria mutters.

"There better be." Natasha, Clint, Melinda and Phil, all having heard what she said, say before drifting into silence.


Even though there was clear tension in the air the remaining Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D and Avengers managed to have a pleasant diner.

"They'll be okay, Skye." Simmons says walking over and sitting down next to her as after dinner when everyone split up into different groups Skye went and sat on her own.

"How do you know?" Skye ask, "They're going who knows where and we have no way to contact them. What if something happens?" She asks the confidence she felt about everything being okay having disappeared during dinner.

"It's Coulson, May, Barton, Romanoff and Hill if there are five people who can look after themselves, it's them." Simmons says reaching out and grabbing Skye's hand, "They'll be fine." Simmons says giving her a supportive smile as she knows how much Coulson and May mean to Skye and how worried she must be

"I know they have some kind of epic relationship in the past, but right now they can barely stand to be in the same room. What if things get out of control?" Skye asks as she has lost both her parents, she can't bear to lose Coulson and May, the person who've been more of parents to her, too.

"They won't." Wanda says walking over and sitting on Skye's other side, "They don't want to hurt each other but they are pushing each other away and acting how they are because they are hurt, they are all hurting." Wanda says. She has been trying not to use her powers on people around her, or at least trying to keep it to herself, but she knows that Skye needs to hear this, "Things won't get out of control because even with how mad they are they don't want to lose each other." Wanda tells Skye.

"Are you sure?" Skye asks.

"Positive." Wanda promises.

"Thank you, Wanda." Skye says and three young woman drift into silence and take to watch what the others are doing.


"We're landing." Melinda says as she feels the tell tail signs.

"One hour, twenty four minutes, forty two seconds." Natasha says, "that's how long since we left the tower."

"Okay. That narrows down the list of where we could be." Maria says.

"It's still a lot of ground." Clint comments.

"True, but once we get out we should be able to tell." Phil says and the others nod.

"Look, I get that you don't like this." Fury says walking out from the cockpit but not lowering the ramp, "But you are going to spend four days here, and you are going to try and get back to what you were, clear."

"You're not giving us much choice in the matter." Natasha says as they all stand up.

"I'm not giving you a choice about whether you stay here. It is up to you as to whether you use the time." Fury says, "After four days I'll be back. You'll find everything you need inside." Fury tells the agents.

"And is this place secure or what?" Maria asks

"As of this second only six people know it exists, you should be fine, but be on guard anyway." Fury instructs.

"We always are." Melinda says as Fury presses the bottom to lower the ramp.

"Don't worry, there is plenty of alcohol." Fury informs the five agents, knowing them well enough to know that that is something that they would be curious about.

"Good."

"Guess we'll see you in a few days." Phil says.

"You will." Fury confirms, "I'll see you then." He says and with a nod the five agents, the five people, in the world that Fury cares about the most, walk out of the plane. As he watches them walk away Fury thinks about how even though he knows that it is a risk he honestly believes that he is doing the right thing.


When Natasha, Clint, Melinda, Phil and Maria walk out of the plane they are greeted by one what looks like a simple single story farm house. The house is surrounded by empty paddocks with woods further out.

"Not what I was expecting." Clint comments.

"What were you expecting?" Maria ask as they walk towards the house.

"Honestly? A tent or caravan in the middle of nowhere." Clint says, "This seems like it's not half bad. I mean I've certainly stayed at worse places."

"We all have." Natasha says as they walk up the steps and onto the porch as the Quinjet takes off.

When they arrive at the door all five of them pause, no one wanting to reach out and touch it.

"So, this is Fury's place, right?' Phil asks.

"Right." Natasha, Clint, Maria and Melinda say.

"Which means we should expect security, possibility booby-traps." Phil comments.

"Would be the smart thing to do." Natasha says.

"We should spread out, check. It's Fury so they're not going to be easy to find." Melinda comments, "Especially in the dark." She adds being thankful that it's a full moon and that they are seemingly in the middle of nowhere as they have a lot of starlight.

"So we be cautious." Maria says, the others nod, and the five agents split up and start to check for traps.


After leaving Natasha, Phil, Melinda, Clint, and Maria Fury heads straight back to Avengers' tower. When he lands the first thing he does is delete all flight data so that no one can find where he took Natasha, Phil, Melinda, Clint and Maria as he is sure that that is the first thing that the others are going to check.

When he lowers the ramp and walks out Fury isn't the least bit surprised to find the remaining Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D and Avengers waiting.

"So, will you tell us where you took them now?" Steve asks.

"No."

"Why are you doing this, Sir?" Bobbi asks curious.

"You worked with them in the old days. You know what they used to be like, do they seem like the team you once knew now?" Fury asks, looking directly at Bobbi as she is the only other person who understands, to a degree, how much things have changed.

"No." Bobbi answers, "They don't." she says a hint of sadness in her voice as the only time in the last week and a half that they seemed like the team she once knew was when they explaining and executing the mission against Hydra.

"You're trying to help them." Sam says, "You want them to go back to how they were, why? Why is it so important to you?" Sam asks curious as he has a theory, but he want to know if he is right.

"It just is." Fury says simply.

"Holy, crap." Tony says, realising the answer, "You care about them, like really, truly, care about them." He says, "Wow." Tony says surprised by that as he didn't think it was possible.

"I've known Coulson and May thirty three years, Barton twenty three, Romanoff seventeen and Hill fifteen." Fury reveals, as even though he briefly met Hill when she first started at the academy he didn't really get to know her until she was assigned to work with Melinda, "So yeah, they matter to me." Fury confirms to everyone's shock, "They need time away from everything to make things right between them so I've given them that." He tells the group.

"What were Coulson and May like as teenagers?" Skye asks before she can stop herself, "What I'm curious." Skye says when everyone else turn to look at her.

"They were two of the most determine people I've ever met." Fury says, "They were always trying to prove themselves, a lot of people didn't believe in them, but they didn't care. They worked harder than anyone else and May graduated as the top Specialist in her year and Phil gradated as the top Field Agent." He explains.

"Wow." Skye says impressed as she never knew that and the group drifts into silence, basically everyone being shocked at the fact that Fury just admitted that he cares about Phil, Melinda, Clint, Natasha and Maria.


After an hour searching the outside of the house to make sure that there was no booby-traps the five agents finally headed inside. Once they were inside they checked what supplies there were before making sure that there was no traps inside. Once they were sure everything was okay they sat down in the living area and started to drink.

"So there's two bed rooms." Clint says after they have been drinking in silence for about five minutes, "One with a king bed the other with a double. I take it we'll be going with the normal sleeping arrangements." He says.

"It's what makes sense." Melinda says, "Phil and Maria both snore, but can sleep through anything and the three of us…"

"A light sleepers and know how to help each other when….." Phil starts to say but then trails off.

"It's okay to say it Phil." Natasha says, "We know how to help each other when we have nightmares." She says, "That's not a secret, unlike other things." She says and the five of them drift into uncomfortable silence.

"So when was the last time we were all together like this? In the same place, alone, not on mission." Maria asks.

"Greenland, if being stranded in a cabin because it was too dangerous to continue with our extraction after a mission counts." Phil says.

"I would say it does." Clint says.

"Yep. Not our worse extraction though." Natasha says.

"It really wasn't." Melinda confirms, "What do you think our worse extraction was?"

"Austria." Clint says.

"No way, It was Bolivia." Maria says.

"Nope, it was Chad." Natasha says.

"El Salvador." Phil says.

"See, I would say Turkey." Melinda argues.

"Wow, we can't even agree to what extraction sucked to most." Clint says, being amused by that.

"Well in all fairness we never went in with an extraction plan so it makes sense that most of our extraction sucked." Maria comments.

"At least we knew that going in." Phil mutters angrily.

"Phil?" Natasha asks interested.

"Sorry, I'm just remembering that Hand sent people from my team on a mission without an extraction team and didn't warn them, didn't even tell me." Phil explains and the others frown.

"What was her reason?" Maria asks interested.

"That Fitz was unproven in the field." Phil says.

"She should have told you and let it be your choice, you know your people, know what they can handle." Clint says.

"I thought I did." Phil says looking guilty which causes Clint and Natasha to exchange confused looks as the looks of anger that appear on Melinda, Phil and Maria's faces.

"One of the people that was originally assigned to Phil's team, someone I vetted, a specialist by the name of Grant Ward, was Hydra." Maria explains.

"What happened to him?" Natasha ask.

"The bastard is still alive if that's what you're asking." Melinda says angrily, "But that will change soon if I have anything to say about it." Melinda says angrily, "I need some air." Melinda says getting up and heading outside.

"What are we missing?" Clint asks once the front door closes as if he would guess he would say that there was more to the story than just a team mate being Hydra, thought that is a very valid reason for Melinda to want some air.

"Ward kidnaped Skye, twice. He nearly killed Bobbi, he did kill Victoria Hand and other S.H.I.E.L.D Agents, he dropped FitzSimmons into the ocean which lead to Fitz suffering major brain damage which he is still recovering from and…" Phil trails of, not sure if he should say what else Ward did.

"Phil." Natasha and Clint say together, "What else?" Natasha asks.

"He and Mel fought twice, and there was a brainwashed S.H.I.E.L.D agent that he believed he loved, not that he's capable of that, I think obsession is a better choice of words. He was moulding her to be like him. Anyway, she had a Nano mask fused to her face and because Mel said though coms not to stand down until they saw her face she turned herself into Mel and Ward shot her several times, killing her when he hoped to kill Mel." Maria explains, knowing this because Phil and Melinda told her as she wanted to be kept up to date about Ward because she blames herself in a way because he fooled her, "And the before the Hydra reveal he and Mel were…" Maria says, like Phil she isn't sure if she should say it.

"Relieving stress together." Clint supplies, as it would make sense, plus it would explain why Phil and Maria are so hesitant to say it.

"Yeah." Phil confirms, "Turns out he thought it would be the best way to keep an eye on May and make sure that she didn't realise what he was, and he threw that in her face when we had to work with him a few months ago." He explains.

"Excuse me." Natasha says getting up and heading outside.

"So where's this great guy now?" Clint asks sarcastically.

"No idea." Phil says, "We haven't seen or heard from him since he almost killed Bobbi, which on its own is worrying because he's not the kind of person who does nothing. He's up to something, I just don't know what." Phil reveals and the three of them drift into silence.

"So who called Fury?" Clint says purposely changing the subject.

"Me."

"Why?" Clint asks and Maria begins to explain.


When Natasha walks outside she founds Melinda sitting on the railing on the porch.

"Go ahead, say it." Melinda says when she hears Natasha's footsteps.

"Say what?" Natasha asks as she walks over.

"That I was an idiot, that I should have realised, that I let my guard down and let him use me." Melinda says.

"I wasn't going to say that." Natasha says and Melinda gives her a look, "I wasn't." Natasha says as she sits down next to Melinda, "I don't know the guy, I've heard the name but I don't know him." She says, "What I do know is that if he was able to get pass Maria's vetting then he must be good and if someone is that good then they wouldn't have given any clues about what their real mission was." Natasha says, speaking from personal experience.

"I should have realised." Melinda says, knowing that she will never stop blaming herself for not seeing who Ward really is.

"Hydra fooled everyone, even me." Natasha says.

"I was screwing him, Nat." Melinda says, "I thought we were doing what most agents do, what we've all done, and just helping each other deal with the job, but he was doing it to distract me, to make sure that I didn't realise, and it worked." Melinda says, feeling disgusted with herself.

"That's not on you. Consensual stress relieving and using a person to make sure they don't realise what you are up to are two very, very different things. What he did wasn't okay, and if you knew truth you would have shot him, not screwed him, that I know." Natasha says, knowing that without a doubt and she also knows without a doubt that if she ever met this Ward then it won't end well for him.

"Damn right I would have, and I will." Melinda says, it being clear that she is making a promise.

"That's the Mel I know." Natasha says with a smirk, "My point is that even though you hate yourself for being fooled and you feel like you should have realised and so many other things, his actions, everything he's done, isn't on you." Natasha says, knowing Melinda well enough to know that that is what she is thinking and thanks to her own experiencing she has a pretty good idea of what Melinda is feeling.

"It sure feels like it." Melinda says and the two of them drift into silence.

For a while Melinda and Natasha just sit on the porch in silence as the look out at the land, both listening for the sound of movement or of anything that could be a threat.

"I think I might head back inside." Melinda says and she stands up.

"Sure, I'll join you." Natasha says and with a nod the two friends head back inside.


After a couple more hours of drinking and occasionally talking Natasha, Clint, Phil, Melinda and Maria decided to head to bed. To all of their relief they were all able to find sweatpants that fit and Clint and Phil found t-shirts while Melinda, Natasha and Maria were able to find tank tops for themselves.

"So Nat takes the side closes the door like normal, Clint where do you want to sleep tonight?" Melinda asks the three of them have shared a bed many, many, times and Natasha always sleep's on the side closes to the door while she and Clint tend to switch between the middle and other side.

"Window side, if you don't mind." Clint says.

"Sure, I'm fine with the middle." Melinda says and all three of them head to bed.

As Melinda, Natasha and Clint lie side by side they all unknowing start to think about the same thing, the same the same thing that both Phil and Maria are thinking about as they lay side by side in their bed in the next room; how the next four days are going to be, and what shape their relationship is going to be when Fury picks them up.

Chapter Text

Chapter 9

Disclaimer: I don' own anything.


Day One

Even though they only went to bed a few hours early Melinda still wakes up as early as she normally does. When she first wakes Melinda can't help the brief feeling of panic when she realises that she isn't alone in bed, but once she realises that it's Natasha and Clint she instantly relaxes. Now that she is awake Melinda knows that she won't be able to go back to sleep, so being as careful as possible, so that she can try to avoid wakening Natasha or Clint, Melinda mauvers herself out of bed and heads outside to do Tai-Chi.

Melinda hasn't even been out on the grass doing Tai-Chi for five minutes when she hears Natasha's familiar footsteps.

"Can I join you?" Natasha asks from the top of the steps.

"Always." Melinda says. Natasha walks over to her friend and making sure that they both have enough room they start to do Tai-Chi together.


While Natasha and Melinda are up and doing Tai-Chi Phil is also awake but instead of getting up he is lying in bed thinking about what he would like to be doing.

"Maria, are you awake?" Phil asks, in a quiet voice.

"No."

"Nice try, but you don't talk in your sleep." Phil says, knowing that for a fact.

"What do you want?" Maria asks rolling over to look at him.

"I want to make breakfast for everyone." Phil says.

"Okay. Then why are you waking me up instead of doing it?" Maria asks then realises, "You need help."

"Yeah."

"And because letting Clint and Mel near a kitchen just ends in disaster and Nat's already probably doing Tai-Chi with Mel by now, I'm you're only option." Maria realises.

"You're also my first choice." Phil says with a charming grin.

"Flattery will get you nowhere." Maria says then sighs, "But because I am hungry I will help. I'll meet you in the kitchen in five." Maria before getting up.

"Thank you, Maria." Phil says as Maria heads to the bathroom and Phil heads downstairs.


Even though she knows that May isn't at base to do training with her Skye still finds herself getting up at five am and heading down to the gym. At ten past five, once Skye has already started on Tai-Chi, Bobbi walks in.

"I wasn't sure if you would be here today. I thought you might have taken the chance to sleep in." Bobbi comments when she sees Skye.

"I woke up when I normally do and couldn't fall back asleep. Plus I figured that with her ninja no how May would be able to tell if I skipped out on training." Skye comments.

"Probably." Bobbi says amused, "How are you doing, Skye?" Bobbi asks concerned.

"I'm okay." Skye says, "Just worried about May and Coulson. Are you sure that you can't get anything from the flight data?" she asks, stopping what she is doing to look at Bobbi.

"Positive, Fury cleared it." Bobbi says, "Look Skye, you shouldn't worry. I don't think Fury too them somewhere dangerous and you've said yourself that you wished you could do something to help them, and that's exactly what Fury's done, he's given them a way to make things better."

"What if it makes things worse?" Skye asks.

"It's a chance." Bobbi admits, "But I think what those five really needs is sometime together with nothing else to do besides figure themselves out and Fury gave them that." She says.

"So what you're saying is that I should stop worrying." Skye realises.

"I think you should try to at least." Bobbi says and they drift into silence, "So..." Bobbi says after about a minute, "So I know I'm not May but do you want to train with me?"

"Sure."


Over half an hour after they started Tai-Chi Melinda and Natasha walk back inside where they are greeted by the smell of amazing food.

"Oh, how I have missed your cooking." Natasha admits when she sees everything that Phil has made.

"Well you should thank me, I helped." Maria says with a grin.

"Thank you Maria." Melinda says.

"So, Clint still asleep?" Natasha asks as she sits down at the table.

"Considering he hasn't come to eat all the bacon, I would say so." Phil comments.

"Someone probably should wake him up." Maria comments, knowing that Clint will be annoyed if he isn't woken for breakfast.

"I will." Melinda says and she starts to head in the directions of the bedrooms.

"WHATEVER YOU DO TO WAKE HIM PLEASE REMEMEBER THAT WE HAVE TO SHARE THAT BED TOO." Natasha calls after Melinda, "Fifteen seconds." She tells Phil and Maria.

"Ten." Maria says

"Twenty." Phil says and the three friends start to count.

Fifteen seconds after they start to count Maria, Natasha and Phil hear Clint's squealing, "FUCKEN HELL MEL! REALLY! BLOODY HELL! THIS IS WAR." Clint yells.

"Oh great." Phil says sarcastically.

"That didn't take long." Maria says.

"You surprised by that?" Natasha asks as the three of them start to eat breakfast.

"No." Maria says as Melinda walks in and sits down too.

"Do we want to know what you just did?" Phil asks and Melinda just gives him a look, "Yeah, I didn't think so." he says as Clint walks in and sits down to, glaring at Melinda. Phil, Maria and Natasha all recognize the glare and they know it means he isn't really upset, just annoyed and plotting revenge.

"So apart from you two having a war. What else are we going to do today?" Maria asks.

"Drink." Melinda suggests.

"Good plan, except we've got to make sure we have enough alcohol to last us four days." Natasha points out.

"Great rationing booze, this is going to fun." Clint says sarcastically.

"Fury brought us here for a reason, maybe we should focus on that." Phil says.

"To make us, again." Maria reminds everyone.

"Well, I don't know how that's going to happen." Natasha says and the five of them continue to eat in silence.


"Come on Skye, please." Hunter requests a couple of hours after Skye and Bobbi trained together when Skye, Bobbi, Hunter, Fitz, Simmons and Mack are in the common area.

"I'm not sure…" Skye says, hesitantly.

"You know you want to." Fitz says.

"I do, but I don't know if I will be able to." Skye admits as Fitz is right she really does want to she just doesn't know if she will be able to, "And we need a really big space."

"The hanger, where the bus used to be." Bobbi suggests.

"You're in on this?" Hunter asks surprised.

"It does seem like it could be fun." Bobbi admits with a shrug.

"That it does. But we shouldn't force Skye if she doesn't want to do it." Simmons says as while she would be interested in doing it she doesn't want Skye to do anything that she isn't comfortable with.

"It's okay, Jemma, I'm in." Skye says.

"YES." Hunter and Fitz cheer.

"Turbo and I will get started right away." Mack says happily.

"How long until it will be done?" Skye asks.

"Four hours, give or take." Fitz says.

"Yeah, that sounds right." Mack with a nod.

"I'll help make sure you get the other factors right." Simmons says and the three of them leave.

"This is going to be fun." Hunter says with a grin.

"As long as Billy doesn't find out before we finish it is." Skye says.

"Don't worry about Billy. I'll keep him busy for the next few hours." Bobbi says standing up.

"Thanks." Skye says and Bobbi nods and leaves, "Thanks for suggesting it." She says to Hunter.

"You don't have to thank me for that."


After a relatively awkward breakfast the group of six went their separate ways. Clint is in the shower when he hears the door open and two sets of familiar footsteps.

"Okay, seriously you guys know I'm in here." Clint says pulling the shower curtain over slightly and having a look out.

"And?" Natasha asks like them walking into the bathroom isn't a big deal.

"It's not like we haven't seen it all before." Melinda says.

"Many times." Natasha adds.

"What are you even doing?" Clint asks, having no argument for that as it's the truth.

"Supply check." Natasha says, "We're trying to figure out just what we have." She explains.

"And that couldn't wait ten minutes?" Clint asks. His attention so focused on Natasha that he doesn't notice Melinda silently reach into the shower and grab the bottle of body wash and replace it with an bottle that looks exactly like it, before putting the bottle she did grab next to the toilet, which is where she put the bottle she put into the shower when she first walked in the room.

"Nope, we have a schedule to keep." Natasha responds as Melinda walks back over.

"What schedule?" Clint asks.

"Our own." Melinda answers, as she checks the cabinet above the sink "We could have been done in seconds if you didn't complain." She tells him, although she is glad that he did as it gave her and Natasha exactly the time they needed to do what they planned.

"Get out." Clint says simply.

"See you later." Natasha says and she and Melinda leave the bathroom, leaving Clint to his shower.


About a minute after Natasha and Melinda walked in on Clint showering they walk out to the living area where Coulson and Maria are sitting playing chess.

"Oh no, what did you two just do?" Phil asks seeing the looks on Melinda and Natasha's face and knowing that they've done something.

"What Fury wanted us to do, be us again." Natasha answers as she and Melinda sit down next to each other on the couch.

"Do we want to know how you did that?" Maria asks looking away from the chess match to look at Melinda and Natasha.

"Probably not." Melinda answers.

"NAAAATTTTT, MEEEELLLLLLL." Clint's voice yells.

"I think we're about to find out." Phil says and about a minute later Clint walks in with a towel around his waist and one hand behind his back, but what is most interesting is that Clint's skin is pale green in colour. As soon as they see Clint Phil and Maria burst out laughing.

"You've got to stop making it soon easy on yourself." Melinda tells him amused, "This is what happens when you don't change your shower routine for over twenty years." Melinda says with a teasing grin, a grin that Clint, Phil, Maria and Natasha haven't seen on her face in a long time, which they are glad to see now. Melinda and Natasha being able to pull of what they just did as they both know that Clint uses soap, then washes his hair, then uses body wash.

"Like I said, this is war." Clint says before leaping over the furniture and on to Natasha and Melinda squeezing the bottle of body wash over them as he does.

Realising that it will be only seconds before Clint, Natasha and Melinda realises that teaming up will better Phil and Maria get up and run to the other side of the room, being prepared to run outside if needed.

Clint does manage to get dye on both Natasha and Melinda, but then Natasha quickly manages to get the bottle off him and she starts squeezing it on Clint and Melinda. As Natasha does that the three lock eyes, as soon as they do they all know what the other two are thinking and they all come to the same decision without speaking, and within a few seconds they are up and chasing after Phil and Maria.

Because she can run so fast Natasha manages to catch up to Phil and Maria and squeeze the last of the dyed body wash over them before they manage to get more than a few meters onto the grass.

"Where did you even get the dye from?" Maria asks as he pushes her now died fringe out of her eyes.

"Fury supplies." Melinda answers.

"Was their more?" Clint asks curious, not realising that he has lost his towel so he is naked.

"No." Melinda answers, "Are you feeling a bit chilly there Clint?" Melinda asks with a smirk.

"I am, now that you mention it." Clint says, realising exactly what happened, "This isn't over Mel."

"I didn't think it was." Melinda responds.

"I'm going to go get dressed." Clint says before heading back inside.

"Dye in his body wash really?" Maria asks Melinda and Natasha as it is rather simplistic for them.

"Can't argue with the classic." Natasha says.

"Plus we were crunched for time." Melinda explains.

"Why did you even have to do anything?" Phil asks, looking down at the white shirt he is wearing that has now got patches of green all over.

"Because Clint declared war." Melinda says simply.

"He declared war because of the way you woke him up." Maria points out.

"He still declared war. He knows what that means." Natasha says, "We all do."

"True." Maria says, "We all look like idiots." She says and the four friends truly look at each other which causes all four of them to burst out laughing.

"What I miss?" Clint asks, walking back out a few minutes later now wearing jeans and a t-shirt, his pale green skin clashing horrible with the red shirt.

"Us, realising what idiots we look like." Melinda explains, through her laughter.

"We do look pretty ridiculous." Clint says joining on the laughter and as they stand on the grass together the five friends feel like things are how they used to be for the first time since learning Phil was alive.


Five and a half hours after Bobbi promised to keep Billy busy and Simmons, Fitz and Mack left the common are Skye, Fitz, Simmons, Bobbi, Hunter and Mack are in the hanger, all wearing bathers, and staring at a twenty meter long, what looks like a pool.

"So, who wants to go first?" Skye ask.

"I will." Bobbi says picking up what looks like a surfboard and handing it to Hunter.

"Where did we even get a surfboard?" Hunter asks as even though it was his idea he wasn't sure where they would get a surfboard from.

"Turbo and I made it." Mack explains.

"Nice." Skye says as Bobbi climbs into the 'pool', via the ladder on the outside. Once Bobbi is in the pool Hunter drops the surfboard in and then Bobbi lays on it and pushes herself into standing position.

"Okay Skye, I'm ready." Bobbi says once she has gotten her balance.

"Okay." Skye says taking a step back. Once she is standing back she takes a deep breath then raises her hands and uses her powers to manipulate the vibrations of the water to cause waves which she moves to make Bobbi travel across the pool and she slowly walks along the side as she moves Bobbi.

"Okay that was amazing." Bobbi says when she reaches the end and climbs out via the inside ladder.

"Yeah?" Skye asks.

"Defiantly." Bobbi says grinning at Skye, who grins back.

"So, who's next?" Skye asks and Hunter, Mack, Fitz and Simmons put their hands up.


Many hours, and many showers later, Clint, Melinda, Phil, Maria and Natasha are once more on the grassed area but this time they are sitting around a bonfire that they built, no longer green, and drinking beer.

"How pissed do you think Fury is going to be about his couch?" Clint asks interested.

"Probably pretty pissed." Maria comments.

"He only has himself to blame." Melinda says, "He wanted us to be us again, he knows what that entails." She points out.

"Very true." Natasha says as she takes a drink of her drink.

"It did feel like we were us again, didn't it?" Phil says as it certainly felt like that to him.

"Yeah it did." Clint confirms, "But that doesn't erase the lies, and it doesn't make us trust you again." He says.

"Maybe we should stop talking about what we were and getting back to it and instead just be what we are now and see what happens." Maria suggests.

"That sounds like a good idea to me." Melinda says.

"I'll drink to that." Clint comments.

"You'll drink to anything." Natasha tells him.

"We all will." Melinda says.

"Then how about we drink to us." Phil suggests, "To whatever we are now."

"To us." Maria says raising her beer.

"To us." The others repeat.


After several hours and several turns in the wave pool each Skye, Fitz, Simmons, Bobbi, Hunter and Mack decided to do stuff in the pool together instead of just one at a time.

"It's pretty awesome having a pool here." Hunter says, "What do you think our chances are of keeping it?"

"Low." The others say.

"I can't see May and Coulson being happy with the idea." Mack says.

"But…..but…..but…We can use it for training." Skye argues.

"We could." Bobbi confirms, "But we'll need the space in here at some point and there's nowhere else to put it." She says.

"So what you're saying is that we should enjoy having a pool as much as possible for the next few days because once Mum and Dad get back we're going to lose it." Hunter comments.

"Basically." Bobbi comments.

"We'll then that's what we have to do." Fitz says, "Marco Polo?" he asks curious and he receives five nods in response.


After spending a few hours out by the fire and drinking Phil, Clint, Melinda, Natasha and Maria all headed to bed once they were sure the fire was completely out.

"You guys still up?" Clint asks from where he is lying between Natasha and Melinda.

"Yep." Melinda says.

"Why?" Natasha asks, not opening her eyes.

"I was thinking." Clint says.

"Really, you can think after all we drunk?" Melinda asks as she is pretty sure that the room would still be spinning if she opened her eyes.

"Amazingly so." Clint says sitting up.

"What were you thinking?" Natasha asks curious as she too sits up.

"About how us going to war with each other never ends well." Clint says, "We just keep escalating and things get out of control, so how about we don't do that this time." Clint suggests.

"Then what would we do to pass the time here?" Melinda asks sitting up as well.

"We'd team up together…." Clint says with a grin.

"Against Phil and Maria." Natasha realises, also grinning.

"Yeah, I mean we always work best when we're working as a team." Clint says, "What we did together in the old days proves that."

"Very true." Melinda says, "I'm in." Melinda says and Natasha and Clint nod, "So what should we do?" Melinda asks.

"It will have to be epic." Natasha says.

"And it will be." Clint says with a grin and together the three friends start to brainstorm ideas all three of them thinking the same thing, Maria and Phil won't know what hit them.

Chapter Text

Chapter 10

Disclaimer: I don' own anything.


Day Two

As soon as she wakes up, before she even opens her eyes Maria knows that something is wrong; and when she opens her eyes Maria's suspicions are confirmed.

"Phil, wake up." Maria says shaking Phil awake, "Come on Phil. Wake up."

"I'm sleeping." Phil finally says after a few minutes of Maria attempting to wake him up.

"Trust me you're going to want to open your eyes for this." Maria says as she sits up.

Reluctantly Phil opens his eyes and when he does he is surprised to find that instead of being in the bedroom that he and Maria feel asleep in they are in bed, on the roof. Thankfully Natasha, Clint and Melinda were kind enough to connect them to safety harnesses so that they weren't in any danger.

"How the hell did we sleep through this?" Phil asks shocked as Natasha, Clint and Melinda would have had to take them from their bed, probably put them in theirs while they transferred and secure the bed to the roof, then put them in it.

"We're both deep sleepers." Maria says in a way of explanation, less surprised than she should be to find herself on the roof.

"We're on the roof, Maria! I would expected that we would wake up at some point." Phil says, "So, think they realised things were better when they working together rather than against each other?"

"Probably." Maria says, "We should probably head down." She says.

"And plot our revenge." Phil says.

"That goes without saying." Maria says, "After you." Maria says and they both start to climb down, finding it easier than they were expecting as Natasha, Clint and Melinda were kind enough to leave them a ladder, even though Phil finds it a lot more difficult than Maria because of his hand he does manage without help.


"Did you two even sleep?" Skye asks curious as she walks over to Fitz and Mack who are currently putting the final touches on what looks like a diving board. It is about six am and because she just finished training with Bobbi she decided to go check on Fitz and Mack.

"Yeah, we got a few hours." Mack says.

"We just really wanted to get this done." Fitz explains.

"Well it look's great." Skye tells them, "Is it done?"

"Now it is." Mack says once he finishes screwing in a screw.

"Awesome, so how about we go have breakfast then come back out here and have fun." Skye suggests.

"Sounds good." Fitz says, Mack nods and the three of them head back inside to the main part of the base.


Unlike the previous morning Natasha and Melinda wake up at the same time so they end up walking out to do tai-chi together.

When they walk into the kitchen area they find both Maria and Phil wide awake drinking coffee.

"Morning." Natasha says to them.

"Bed on the room, really?" Phil asks.

"Yep." Melinda says, "We could hear your snoring, It was annoying." Melinda says, telling the truth as that was one of the reasons the other being that in their drunken minds they through it would be amusing.

"So you put us on the roof?" Maria asks.

"Yep." Natasha and Melinda say together like it's no big deal.

"You're helping us to get the bed down. I hope you realise that." Phil tells them.

"We figured." Natasha says with a shrug.

"Good. As long as that is clear." Maria tells them.

"It is." Melinda and Natasha say together as they walk outside.


When Skye, Fitz and Mack arrived at breakfast Simmons, Hunter, and Bobbi were already there.

"Is it done?" Hunter asks Mack and Fitz as they, along with Skye, sit down.

"Yep." Fitz answers.

"Great." Bobbi says with a grin, "Good job guys."

"Thanks." Fitz and Mack say as they start to grab the food they want.

"Agent Morse, Agent Skye." Billy says as he walks down the stairs from Coulson's office.

"Yes, Billy?" Skye and Bobbi ask.

"Do one of you want to explain why there is now a pool in the airplane hanger?" Billy asks curious.

"For training purposes." Bobbi says, "Skye and I were talking yesterday and we realised that Skye's water skills are low so we thought we would work on them and Fitz, Simmons, Mack and Hunter wanted to join." Bobbi says, lying completely convincingly.

"Do Coulson and May know about this?" Billy asks.

"No, but I'm sure that they won't have a problem with it." Skye says, "After all it's a skill builder."

"Okay you two can be the ones who tell them." Billy says, knowing that he doesn't want to, as he pulls files out from under his arm, "These are the reports from the Hydra mission in Mexico. They aren't finished, in fact Director Coulson and Agent's May's personal reports are the only paper work that has been done, and the council needs them by tomorrow. Seeing as how Coulson and May aren't here it's up to you two." Billy says putting several files I front of both Skye and Bobbi.

"We'll get right on them." Bobbi says.

"Good." Billy says before leaving.

"Guess our jumping competition is going to have to wait." Skye says, not looking too happy about that.

"Guess so." Hunter says with a frown.


After spending half an hour doing Tai-Chi together and sparing for another hour or so both Natasha and Melinda head back inside. When they do they see no sign of Phil and Maria.

"Guess they had breakfast without us." Natasha says when she sees the plates drying next to the sink.

"They probably knew we wouldn't eat it." Melinda says as considering they are in a 'war' at the moment Melinda, Natasha and Clint wouldn't eat something made by Phil or Maria in case they did something to it.

"Probably."

"Guess we should get started on breakfast." Melinda comments.

"You mean me." Natasha corrects, "Somehow I don't think Fury would be too happy if we burnt down his kitchen."

"I'm not that bad of a cook." Melinda tells Natasha.

"Seventeen years of knowing you tells me a very different story." Natasha says, Melinda goes to object but before she can say something they hear Clint screaming and they both go running to the bedroom they are sharing.

When they rush into the bedroom Melinda and Clint find Clint clearly just walking in from the bathroom and that he along with their bed is covered in what looks like…..

"Please say that's chocolate source." Natasha requests as there are a lot of things it could be.

"It is." Clint says, "And hundreds and thousands." He explains, "Dropped on me thanks to a bucket over the door which when opened also dropped another bucket over the bed." He explains.

"That's going to be fun to clean." Melinda says sarcastically.

"Well we did put their bed, with them in it, on the roof, this is fair retaliation." Clint admits.

"We'll get started on cleaning this, why don't you go have another shower." Natasha suggests.

"I could, or you two could help me clean up." Clint says with a suggestive look.

"Shower." Melinda and Natasha say together.

"Had to try." Clint mutters to himself as he heads back into the bathroom.


In the next room Phil and Maria are sitting side by side on the ground.

"There it is." Phil says when they hear Clint's scream.

"And that's Nat and Mel running." Maria says when they hear footsteps.

"Yep." Phil says and they drift into silence.

"So, have you noticed that this 'war' seems to be a way to avoid dealing with our issues?" Maria asks curious after a few minutes.

"I thought you didn't want to talk about it." Phil says, "I thought you said we should stop talking about what we were and getting back to it and just be what we are now." Phil comments.

"I did." Maria says, "But we're not even doing that." She points out, "We pranking, avoiding each other and drinking in silence, we're not being what we are or what we were." Maria explains.

"Huh, you're right." Phil realises, "What do you think we should do?" he asks curious.

"Not sure, yet." Maria says and the two of them once more drift into silence.


After spending several hours doing the rest of the paper work from the Mexico mission, including their own personal reports, Skye, Fitz, Simmons, Bobbi, Hunter and Mack got changed and headed out to the pool.

"So how are we going to do this?" Simmons asks once everyone is in the pool.

"Well one person could jump and the other five of us could give a score out of ten." Bobbi suggests.

"What criteria would we use?" Simmons asks.

"Does it matter?" Hunter asks, "We could just give whatever score we wanted." He says.

"But then it wouldn't be fair." Simmons argues, "We could just give anyone any score." She says.

"Simmons is right, we should come up with a criteria." Skye says.

"Okay, what you thinking?" Mack asks.

"Well splash for one." Skye says.

"Style of jump." Fitz says.

"Flips." Bobbi suggests.

"Not all of us can do flips." Simmons points out.

"Okay, good point." Bobbi admits, "How about uniqueness of jump."

"Yes, that sounds good." Simmons says and the others nod and the group of six continue to discuss how they will be judging their jumping contest.


After spending several hours cleaning Natasha, Clint and Melinda's bed and getting Phil and Maria's down from the roof, the five friends split up and have a look around the property.

While he is looking Clint gets to the small barn that is around back. He decide to go inside in the middle of the room is a large tarp covering some kind of object, when Clint lifts the tarp he can't help but grin.

"MEL, NAT, PHIL, MARIA." Clint yells, covering the object back up so that he can surprise the others.

For a few minutes Clint waits until he hears hurried footsteps and Phil, Melinda, Natasha and Maria rush all. All four of them clearly ready for a fight.

"Nothing dangerous. Don't worry." Clint assures them, realising that he should have realised what they would assume.

"Then why yell?" Maria asks.

"Because of this." Clint says completely removing the tarp to reveal three quadbikes, "We could use these to get out of here, or….."

"Or what?" Natasha asks as using them to leave seems rather tempting.

"Or we could play tag in the paddocks with them." Clint suggests.

"Okay, either idea is tempting. How do we decide?" Melinda asks.

"Vote?" Clint suggests.

"Vote." The others confirm.

"So who wants to use the quadbikes to leave?" Phil asks and no one puts their hands up, "Okay, who wants to play tag?" he asks and everyone puts their hands up as even though none of them like that they were forced there they are sure that if they leave now it may just be the end of what they have together and no one wants that, "Tag on quads it is." Phil says with a grin.


"So, now that we've figured out how we're going to judge the jumps who will go first?" Hunter asks and everyone exchanges looks.

"I'll go first." Skye says.

"Sounds good." Bobbi says, "Then about we go in age order so after you it's Jemma, then Fitz, then me, then Hunter, last Mack."

"Sounds fair." Fitz says and the others nod.

"Okay so I jump then you guys have a few minutes to each decide my overall score out of ten." Skye says.

"Yep." Simmons says as Skye climbs the ladder.

"Okay, I can do that." Skye says as she walks to the diving board and climbs it.

"Any time now, Tremors." Mack says after Skye has been standing on the top of the diving board for a few minutes.

"Leave me alone, I'm thinking about what to do." Skye tells him and for another minute Skye stands on the diving board and thinks, "Okay. Got it." Skye says before walking backwards then running as fast as she can down the diving board, jumping as high as she can and making her limbs look like a star, and landing in the water.

"So, how did I do?" Skye asks as she resurfaces and swims over to the other.

"Six." Hunter says, "Lacked originality, everyone does a star." He playfully teases and Skye just pokes her tongue out at him.

"Seven." Bobbi says as she shoves Hunter.

"Seven." Mack says.

"Seven." Simmons says.

"Eight." Fitz says.

"Thank you, thank you very much." Skye says with a grin, "Jemma you're up." Skye says as Jemma swims over to the ladder.


"So how are we going to do this?" Clint asks once they have gotten the quads out into one of the paddocks.

"I grabbed these." Maria says holding up what look to be different strips of material.

"So what we each have one and we try to grab them?" Phil asks.

"That was the theory." Maria says.

"We're an un-even number." Melinda points out.

"I'll be by myself and have two material things." Natasha offers.

"That works." Clint says, "So then me and Mel and you two." Clint says looking at Maria and Phil.

"Fine with us." Maria say and Phil nods.

Once everyone has a strip of material, Natasha has two, they all walk over to the quadbikes they are going to be using.

"Do you want to drive or steal?" Clint asks.

"Steal." Melinda requests.

"Fine by me." Clint says as he climbs on the quad.

"I'm going to put my legs around my waist so that I can have both my hands free."

"Won't be the first time." Clint comments.

"Let me know if I'm holding on too tight." Melinda requests, ignoring Clint's comment.

Across the paddock Maria and Phil arrive at their quad and when they do Maria realises that something is bothering Phil.

"Are you okay?" Maria asks

"Yeah, fine."

"Phil." Maria says disbelieving.

"You're the better choice for stealing but I can't drive a quad with one hand." Phil says, "As it is I'm going to have to use my prosthetic to steady myself and only have one arm to grab." He says.

"You probably could drive if you wanted to, I'm sure that between your prosthetic and hand you'll be fine." Maria tells Phil, "Or if you don't' want to you can use your legs to steady yourself or do what Mel's doing." She says amused when she sees her friend.

"Yeah, I'm not doing that." Phil says looking at Melinda, "But I would like to try and drive." Phil admits.

"Then try." Maria says with a supportive smile.

"Okay." Phil says and he climbs on. Hesitantly Phil starts the quad and accelerates, driving around the paddock. For the first minute or so Phil is really nervous, sure that any second he is going to lose control, but as more time passes Phil finds himself getting more confident.

"Looking good, Phil." Clint says from the quad bike that he and Melinda and are on which is now next to Phil.

"I'm doing it." Phil says happily, looking at Melinda, as she knows how much this will mean to him as he has confessed to her how he feels about all the things he hasn't been able to do and how afraid he is that he would never be able to do them.

"Yeah, you are." Melinda says with a grin.

"Race you back to Maria and Nat?" Clint asks with a smirk.

"Oh yeah." Phil says with a grin and that's exactly what they do.


"So, what does Simmons get for winning?" Hunter asks curious as the six agents climb after the pool. They finished their jumping competition and then spent several hours just swimming before deciding to get out.

"She gets to pick the first five things in our ultimate marathon." Skye says.

"Your what?" Bobbi asks confused.

"It's something Skye, Simmons and I have been talking about for a while." Fitz says, "We created a list of everything we want to watch together; so now were going to try and watch everything on that list in one go." He explains.

"Because Simmons won the jumping contest she gets to pick what the first five things we watch are." Skye adds.

"You should all join us." Simmons says as they walk into the main part of the base.

"Is Star Wars on that list?" Bobbi asks curious.

"Of course." Fitz and Simmons say together.

"Then I'm in." Bobbi tells them.

"Hunter, Mack? What about you guys?" Skye asks curious.

"Sure, I'll join." Hunter says, more interested in the company than the movies or whatever else they are going to watch.

"Same." Mack says.

"Awesome." Skye says happily, "So how about we all get cleaned up and grab stuff and meet in the common area in forty five minutes." She suggests.

"Sounds good." Bobbi says and the others nod.

"Forty five minutes it is then." Simmons says and the six agents all go in different directions.


"There both coming right towards us." Phil tells Maria not even five minutes into the game of 'tag'

"Can you dodge?" Maria asks.

"Not without causing all of us to crash." Phil says.

"Break just before they are going to go past." Maria suggests.

"Got it." Phil says and that's exactly what he does.

At the exact same time Clint, Melinda and Natasha pass Phil and Maria and as they do Phil slams on the breaks as Maria attempts to steal the strips of material of the others but Melinda, Clint and Natasha all manage to dodge and Melinda and Natasha each manage to steal Maria and Phil's.

"This should be interesting." Phil says as he turns to look at Clint, Melinda and Natasha.

"Yep." Maria confirms, "Bet's on who will crash first." Maria suggests as even though she knows that Clint, Natasha and Melinda can all handle a quadbike their competitiveness will get the better of them which will lead to them being reckless which will lead to crashes.

"Maria that's a horrible thing to say. They're our friends." Phil says.

"So… Clint and Mel." Maria says with a smirk as the two other quadbikes start to zig zag.

"Their bikes maybe, not them." Phil say as he is pretty sure that they will jump off first.

"Sounds about right." Maria comments.

For the next few minutes Phil and Maria watch as Clint and Natasha both drive the quadbikes trying to dodge each other while Melinda keeps trying to grab the material that Natasha has. For over ten minutes that happens until it becomes clear that Natasha is getting bored with that and so she purposely slows down and jumps off of her quadbike and onto Melinda and Clint's. Within a few seconds it becomes impossible for Phil and Maria to tell what is going on and a few seconds after Clint, Natasha and Melinda all tumble of the quadbike while the bike goes into the tree.

"We should go make sure they are okay." Maria suggests as even though she knows that Clint, Natasha and Melinda all have plenty of experience with falling off moving vehicles and know how to do it safely it is probably a better idea to make sure they are okay.

Phil and Maria are about half way to Clint, Natasha, and Melinda when Clint stands up proudly holding the six strips of materials and then is promptly tackled by Natasha and Melinda, which causes both Phil and Maria to burst out laughing.

"You guys okay?" Maria asks as they reach them.

"Of course." Natasha says standing up and holding all of the strips of material.

"Yep." Melinda says as she too stands up

"Speak for yourselves." Clint says as Natasha and Melinda help him up, "Is it drinking time yet?" He asks.

"Considering what you two just did to the quad's I would say so." Maria says looking at the two quadbikes which are now destroyed.

"Climb on, we'll ride back together." Phil says as they are currently several paddocks away from the house.

"Sure." Natasha says and Melinda climbs on behind Maria while Clint and Natasha sit on the back; and together the five friends drive back to the house in silence all five of them wondering what they can do next to avoid dealing with their issues.

Chapter Text

Chapter 11

Disclaimer: I don' own anything.

AN1; I Have finished the last chapter of this story. There are 16.



Day Three

After cooking a barbecue together, where Phil, Maria and Natasha made sure Melinda and Clint where nowhere near the food, and Natasha made sure that Phil and Maria didn't do anything to the food; the five friends ending up just sitting inside playing board games before heading to bed.

It is about three am and at first Natasha isn't sure why she has been woken but then she hears,

"No, don't make me." In a painful whisper.

Quickly Natasha turns around and she finds Melinda clearly in the middle of a painful dream. Over Melinda she looks over at Clint who has also been woken up by Melinda.

"Mel, wake up." Natasha says, moving so that she is kneeling next to Melinda, being sure not to touch her as she knows how Melinda reacted to being touched after Bahrain and is sure that trying to wake her by touch won't end well.

"We can fix this, we figured it out once we can do it again, Phil, no, no don't make me." Melinda says and Natasha and Clint exchange confused and concerned looks as tears roll down Melinda's face.

"Mel, wake up." Clint says turning on the light, before kneeling next to Melinda too.

"No, don't make me do this, we can figure it out." Melinda says.

"Whatever you're seeing isn't real." Natasha says, "Open your eyes Mel, come on, open your eyes." Natasha says, a forcefulness to her voice as she wants her friend to wake up, she doesn't want Melinda to keep being tortured by whatever it is that she is seeing.

"I can't, I won't." Melinda says.

"MEL, WAKE UP." Clint yells and clearly startled Melinda bolds up to a sitting position, "Sorry, it was the only thing I could think of to get you to wake." Clint explains, to Melinda who is looking quiet panicked.

"Thanks." Melinda mutters, as she forces herself to calm down once she realises where she is, "I need some air." Melinda says crawling across the bed and rushing out of the room.

"Okay, what was that about?" Clint asks.

"I don't know." Natasha admits, "But I'm going to find out." She says before getting up and following Melinda.

"Wait for me." Clint says and he follows Natasha.


When Clint and Natasha get outside they find Melinda sitting on the steps so they walk over and sit either side of her, both making sure that they aren't close enough to touch Melinda. For a while Natasha, Clint and Melinda just sit in silence, neither Natasha nor Clint wanting to force Melinda to talk and Melinda not really wanting to.

"You said Phil." Natasha tells Melinda after about forty minutes of silence, "You said don't make me." Natasha says and both she and Clint notice Melinda tense, "What were you dreaming about?"

For a little while Melinda is quiet and Natasha and Clint are sure that she isn't going to answer Natasha, "The side effects had started up again and it was worse before. Phil was saying that it was time for me to keep my promise, time for me to shot him in the head." Melinda explains, "It feels so real." She says and what surprises Natasha and Clint the most is that Melinda is showing how raddled she is, she is showing how much her dream affected her.

"You've had the dream before." Natasha realises.

"Many times." Melinda answers, her voice barely loud enough for Natasha and Clint to hear.

"Mel?" Clint asks in a gentle voice a few minutes later. Clint has known Melinda long enough to know she needs to but just needs a little encouragement to do so.

"I had a plan." Melinda says, "If Phil got worse, if he went the way of Garrett, I was going to get him out, I was going to take him to the Australian Outback." Melinda says. Natasha and Clint exchange confused looks at the mention of Garrett but they both realise that it's not the time to question that.

"Because Phil likes Kangaroos." Natasha comments.

"Because Phil likes Kangaroos." Melinda confirms, "I was going to look after him. I was going to figure out a way to help." Melinda says the determination in her voice telling Natasha and Clint that Melinda means what she said and that nothing would have stopped her, "But Phil didn't want that. He told me to forget all that and shot him as ordered. He ordered me to shot him in the head if he got worse." Melinda says, "I keep dreaming that that's what happened. That the carving didn't stop that he got worse and I see Phil begging me to shot him, and….. I do." Melinda says a tear coming to her eyes.

"I'm sorry Mel. I can't imagine how that must be for you." Clint says, hesitantly reaching out and grabbing Melinda's hand, giving it a quick squeeze then letting go, wishing he could say or do something that would actually help.

"You're right, you can't, but thanks." Melinda says and the three of them drift into silence, Natasha making an internal note to talk to Maria as soon as possible.

"Do you want to spar?" Natasha asks, having a feeling that none of them are going to be able to get to sleep and that they could all use a distraction.

"Sounds good to me." Clint says, knowing exactly what Natasha is doing, and Melinda gives a nod. As all three friends stand up Natasha slowly reaches over and wipes Melinda's tear away and gives her a comforting smile one that Melinda returns, "So one on one or all-out war?" Clint asks curious, acting like he didn't see what just happened.

"Bit of both." Melinda says and Natasha nods, "All-out war first." She says as they arrive on the ground and a few seconds later they all start to fight.


At the Playground Skye, Fitz, Simmons, Bobbi, Hunter and Mack are all still awake, though that might be due to the coffee that Fitz and Simmons made, and are enjoying their marathon. It is about seven am and they are all still sitting in the common area, where they have been since the night before.

"Hey, Billy, why don't you join us?" Skye suggests when she looks to see Billy walk in the room, she has turned back to the TV so quickly that she doesn't even notice that someone else has walked in behind him.

"Because I have work to do Agent Skye, and Dr Garner is here." Billy says.

"What?" The six agents say surprised as the turn, Fitz pausing the DVD, to see Andrew standing next to Billy.

"Dr Garner, what are you doing here?" Bobbi asks, surprised to see him.

"I told Coulson that I would once a month evaluations for the next few months, didn't he tell you?" Andrew asks. Basically the only reason he agreed to that is because he the people on the team need help and they probably wouldn't accept it from anyone other than him.

"No, he didn't." Skye says, having a pretty good idea why that is.

"Where is Coulson anyway?" Andrew asks curious as normally when he comes to base either Coulson or Melinda are waiting to great him, not Billy.

"That's a good question, Mate." Hunter says.

"You don't know?" Andrew asks surprised and growing concerned.

"Nope." Skye, Fitz, Simmons, Bobbi, Hunter and Mack answer.

"What about Melinda? Where is she?" Andrew asks, some urgency to his voice.

"That's another good question." Skye says.

"So they're missing? And you're just sitting here watching movies." He says shocked.

"They're not missing." Bobbi says calmly, "Take a seat and we'll explain everything." She says and so Andrew walks over to the table, grabs a chair and pulls it over.

"Tell me everything." Andrew says as he sits down.


After doing all-out war sparing for a while Natasha, Clint and Melinda switched to one on one. The first match of which was Natasha verses Melinda. When she finishes her match with Melinda and Clint walks over to have his turn against Melinda Natasha notices the light in the kitchen on; because she knows that they didn't turn it on Natasha knows that it must mean Phil and Maria are awake which means she can talk to Maria about what she wants to talk about.

"I'll be back." Natasha calls over her shoulder as she walks inside.


"So ten days ago…" Skye says.

"Eleven." Bobbi corrects.

"Eleven, are you sure?" Skye asks.

"Positive."

"Okay, eleven days ago Coulson and May said that they were going away for a couple of days to see some old friends and tell them that he is alive." Skye explains, "Turns out those friends were Clint Barton and Natasha Romanoff."

"Clint and Natasha didn't know Phil was alive?" Andrew asks surprised as he though they knew, although neither Phil nor Melinda mentioned them in all the times they talked so that should have been a clue that something was up.

"Nope." Skye says, "We didn't know that that's who they went to see until we showed up to pick them up for a mission and they were standing with the Avengers, to say it was a shock would be an understatement."

"Natasha and Barton joined us on the mission. It went well." Bobbi says, "Natasha and May did their thing."

"Of course they did." Andrew says, not even surprised by that.

"When we got back here Maria Hill was here and the five of them went up to Coulson's office." Bobbi says.

"They were up there for a while then Barton and Romanoff came down and left. Leaving Hill, May and Coulson." Hunter says.

"Since Agents Barton and Romanoff left Coulson and May were different." Simmons says.

"Different how?" Andrew asks, trying not to be concerned as different could easily mean the way they used to be which would be very strange for the team as they would have never seen Coulson and Melinda like that.

"They shut themselves in Coulson's office and we didn't realise until we saw a little more of them in the next few days, but they were miserable." Fitz explains.

"Natasha and Clint didn't take Coulson, Melinda and Hill keeping his death a secret well." Andrew realises, once more growing concerned.

"They really didn't." Skye confirms, "Coulson said that they lost Barton and Romanoff's trust and that they damaged the bond that they shared."

"Okay, that doesn't explain where Coulson and Melinda are and why you're not worried." Andrew says, realising that Coulson, Melinda and Hill would be hurting a lot of things between them, Natasha and Clint are as bad as they seem.

"We're getting to that." Mack says.

"Three days ago we went to dinner at Avengers Tower, and Fury crashed…."

"Fury's alive?" Andrew says shocked, though he realises that he really shouldn't be.

"Yeah, I probably shouldn't have told you that." Skye says with a shrug, "Anyway Fury pulled Coulson, May, Barton, Romanoff and Hill into another room."

"They were in there a while and when they came out no one looked happy." Hunter explains.

"Fury said that May, Coulson, Barton and Romanoff weren't staying for dinner and that they were going away for a few days." Mack explains.

"Director Coulson said that they would be back in five days. Agent Romanoff said that there was no way to get in contact with them and Agent Barton said that it was personal, not business." Simmons explains.

"We realised that Fury took them away so that the five of them could work on their relationship but we don't know any more than that." Bobbi explains.

"When are they due back?" Andrew ask as he could see this ending one of two ways, either they will be back to how they used to be or their relationship will be a million times worse.

"Day after tomorrow." Skye answers.

"Okay, I think I will stay until then." Andrew says as he knows that if things are worse than Coulson and Melinda, will be in bad shape and that Hill, who would also be in bad shape, would be likely to stay for a while as well.

"Sure, you're welcome to stay." Bobbi says.

"Wait, you were married to May!" Skye says, almost like she only just realised, "That means you must know Barton, Romanoff and Maria and the relationship they had." Skye says happily, "What were they like? Do you spending time together will help? Do you think they will be okay?" Skye asks, wanting to get answers from someone who might truly understand the relationship that Coulson, May, Natasha, Clint and Maria share.


When Natasha walks inside she heads straight to the kitchen area where she finds Maria and Phil making breakfast.

"Maria. I need to talk to you." Natasha says causing both Phil and Maria to look up from what they are doing.

"Sure." Maria says, "You've got this?" She asks Phil, realising that Natasha isn't giving her a choice.

"Yeah, I've got this." Phil says, curious about what Natasha wants to talk to Maria about, and Natasha and Maria head to one of the bedrooms.

"What's up?" Maria asks once the door is closed.

"If the worse happened to Phil, before Hydra came out of the shadows, what were Mel's orders?" Natasha asks.

"Contact Fury via a hidden encrypted line and await instructions." Maria says wondering why Natasha is bringing this up now, "While she was waiting on that or even before if it came to that she was ordered to take down Phil with the help of the specialist on the team, Ward"

"Subdue or Kill?"

"Subdue was the preferred, but the kill was greenlit if it became necessary." Maria says, it being painful for her to admit that.

"Mel was ordered to kill Phil if it came to that?" Natasha asks, anger in her voice.

"Yes."

"Fury's order."

"Yes."

"Damn it Maria! How could you be okay with Mel getting an order like that?" Natasha asks.

"I wasn't." Maria says, "But it might have been necessary." Maria says, avoiding looking at Natasha.

"That is just cruel, and you know I know cruel." Natasha says, an undertone of fury in her voice, "You saw how Mel was after New York, after the funeral, you…. Was that a lie?" Natasha asks.

"What?"

"The way you were after the battle, after the funeral, the way we were together, was that a lie?" Natasha asks, the tiniest hint of pain, something that you wouldn't pick up on unless you've been around the 'true' Natasha, in her voice.

"It wasn't' a lie." Maria says, "Fury didn't tell me what he was doing until a week after the funeral, until after he was back. I wasn't lying then, that was real." Maria says and they are both quiet, "Why are you asking about this, Nat?"

"Because a few hours ago Clint and I were woken by Mel having a nightmare." Natasha reveals, normally she wouldn't betray Melinda's privacy but Maria needs to understand the effect that this whole thing has on Melinda, "What everyone was worried about came back and Mel was begging Phil not to make her shoot him." Natasha says stressing the begging, "What Mel was asked to do wasn't fair and it certainly wasn't fair to make her deal with it alone. We should have been told so then at least we could have helped each other, made it so none of us had to deal with it alone." She tells Maria.

"It was Fury's call to lie to you, not mine, not Mel's, and not Phil's." Maria says, "I'm not finished." She says when Natasha goes to open her mouth, "Phil knowing the truth about what happened to him, and seeing writing that Garrett did after he had the same formula that brought Phil back, is exactly what caused him to have the side effects we were all so worried about." Maria tells Natasha, "Mel had to spend months with Phil watching him search for answers knowing that if he found them then we could lose him all over again. For months all Phil knew was that he was dead for eight seconds not the truth. Every time my phone rang I was terrified that it was Mel or Fury telling me that the worse has happened, that we had lost him again, and I don't even know how Fury handled it. When Phil found out the truth he told Mel that she wasn't a friend. She lost him after months of doing everything to try and protect him. You should have been told I know that, so do Phil and Mel, but Fury was trying to protect you, and Clint, from what we were going through, from what we were experiencing." Maria says, "Hate Fury, hell hate me, but Mel and Phil they don't deserve your anger, they don't deserve to lose your trust." Maria says, Natasha goes to say something but before she can she hears,

"DAMN IT." Being yelled by Phil, so after exchanging a look Natasha and Maria go running back into the kitchen.


"If I tell you a little will you all let me conduct my evaluations without complaint?" Andrew asks, realising that it is slightly unethical but realising that there is likely no other way to get them to talk to him willingly now that morphine isn't in the mix.

"Give us a minutes." Skye says and the six agents huddle up together, trying to decide.

"Okay, we'll talk to you." Bobbi tells Andrew after about a minute of the six agents having a whispered conversation.

"Without complaint?" Andrew asks.

"As long as you tell us something about May, Coulson, Barton, Romanoff and Hill that we don't know we won't complain." Hunter says.

"I can do that." Andrew says, "They five of them were close."

"We know that." Mack says.

"I met all five of them at the same time in March of 2004." Andrew reveals, "There was a mission, a potential INDEX case and it got….complicated." Andrew says causing the others to exchange looks, "Long story short I was assigned to complete an evaluation on any agent who was involved in any way and that included, Coulson, Melinda, Natasha, Clint, and Maria." He explains, "All the other agents came to me without problem, except them."

"That doesn't seem like a surprise." Hunter comments.

"So I went searching. I found them in the gym, I tried to get them to come to my office, they wouldn't. I tried to talk to them individually, they wouldn't. So we talked together, there and then." He says, "When I submitted my report to Fury I was worried because I hadn't managed to get them to talk, but he was actually impressed that I got as much as I had got." Andrew says, having remembered being called into Fury's office and expecting to be remanded, "Melinda and I started to date a few months later and once we were married I found Clint, and or Natasha, sometimes Hill and very rarely Phil asleep on our couch quiet often." Andrew reveals, telling something that they don't know but something that the five agents won't mind shared, "Now, who's first?"


When Natasha and Maria they find trying to pick up flower and a broken bowel of the floor.

"You alright?" Natasha asks as they walk over to him.

"Yeah, just useless." Phil mutters, as yesterday ridding the bikes he felt like he used to so he didn't even think to call for help when he started doing two things at once like he always used to do.

"You're not useless." Natasha and Maria say together as they help him to clean up what he broke.

"It feels like it." Phil mutters.

"Well you're not." Maria tells him, "You've lost a hand, that's an adjustment."

"I know that!" Phil says annoyed, "Sorry, I…..I just thought I could cook like I used to.'

"Maybe one day you will, isn't Stark working on a prosthetic for you?" Natasha asks.

"Yeah, he is." Phil confirms.

"Then who knows, this time next week you could be cooking like an expert again." Natasha says with a supportive smile.

"Maybe." Phil says, not letting himself believe that.

"How about until then we offer our hands to help." Maria says.

"That would be good." Phil says.

"Well then what do you need us to do?" Natasha asks.

"Help with the pancakes an omelettes. I can do the bacon." Phil says.

"Can do." Maria says and the three friends start work on breakfast together.


"So Skye, how are you doing?" Andrew asks as after being the person who was nominate by the others to talk to Andrew first the two of them have headed up to Coulson's office.

"Fine." Skye says, "Great, perfect."

"Do you want to expand on that?" Andrew asks.

"Not particularly."

"Skye."

"I am good right now, really." Skye tells Andrew, "Two days ago I used my powers so we could all have fun and it was amazing." Skye says happily, "I didn't hurt anyone, or push a plane, I used my powers for fun." Skye says happily.

"Why don't you tell me about it?" Andrew requests and that's what Skye does.


"Do you two mind if I take first shower?" Melinda asks curious as She, Clint and Natasha walk into their shared breakfast after a quiet pleasant breakfast where no one of them really talked.

"Not at all." Natasha says.

"Go right ahead." Clint say sand with a nod Melinda walks into the bathroom while Natasha and Clint sit down on the bed, "How did you talk with Maria go?" Clint asks once he and Natasha hear the water start to run.

"It was informative." Natasha says, "Things were so much worse than we knew." She says as she crosses her legs.

"What do you mean?" Clint asks with a frown.

"Phil didn't even know the truth about what was done to him until months after. He only thought he was dead for eight seconds, and according to Maria when he found out Melinda knew from the beginning he told her that they weren't friends." Natasha reveals.

"Wow." Clint says shocked, not being able to imagine that as even with how angry and betrayed he feels he wouldn't say that they weren't friends.

"Yeah." Natasha says, "It seems like every day since they found out the truth that Maria and Mel were expecting to lose him again." Natasha says, "We lost him once, and we know he's okay now, but Mel and Maria lost him once then expected to lose him again every day for months."

"So you think we were too hard on them." Clint realises.

"I don't know." Natasha admits honestly telling the truth as she isn't sure what to think.


"So last time we talked you weren't sure if you could be an agent. How are you feeling about everything now?" Andrew asks Bobbi the second person he's talked to after Skye.

"I'm not sure." Bobbi admits, "I…I don't know if I can be the agent I was before, but….."

"But?" Andrew asks giving Bobbi a gentle prod.

"I don't want to leave." Bobbi says, surprising herself "Things with Hunter are good again and it's nice to be with Mack all the time." She admits as she missed her friend when they were assigned to different places, "And I don't want to leave Skye, Simmons and Fitz." Bobbi says, "The entire time I was healing they did whatever they could to help, they kept me company but they never once let me feel sorry for myself." She admits, deciding to admit something she hasn't told anyone, "I don't have any siblings, but being around Fitz, Simmons and Skye I can't help but feel that that's what having younger siblings would feel like, and even though I'm hesitant about the job I don't want to leave them." She admits.

"I can't tell you what to do, that's not my job." Andrew tells Bobbi, "What I can do is tell you that you have to make this decision for yourself. Decide what you can do. Staying doesn't mean you have to be who you were before, you can decide to be different, be a different type of agent if you want, the choice is yours." Andrew tells Bobbi.

"I think…. I think I'm going to stay." Bobbi tells Andrew, "and figure out who I am now." She says and Andrew gives her a supportive smile.


Ever since Clint and Natasha talked when Melinda was in the shower it has been clear to the others that something was bothering them, though if you didn't know Clint and Natasha as well as Phil, Maria, and Melinda it would be impossible to tell.

After spending a day where they have mostly done their own things the five friends are once more sitting around a fire they built with beers.

"Are we going to talk about what is going on or just ignore it like we're ignoring everything else?" Phil asks curious, not being able to deal with the silence any longer.

"What do you mean?" Clint asks.

"Something's bothering you and Nat, and Melinda and Maria clearly know." Phil says, "So are we going to talk about it or not?"

"I would say not." Maria mutters

"What exactly have you guys been doing for the past two and a half years?" Natasha asks, looking at Phil and Melinda who are sitting next to each other.

"What?" Melinda ask surprised.

"It's come to our attention that we really have no idea what you've been up to, or what you've been going through, since Phil was brought back and we want to know." Clint says, "We want to understand."

"There's a lot of things." Phil says after exchanging a look with Melinda, "It will take a while." He says.

"We've got plenty of time." Natasha says.

At that Phil and Melinda exchange looks and they both nod, "It all started when Fury called me into his office six months after The Battle of New York." Melinda says and together with Phil, and Maria adding in what she knows, the three friends being to explain everything that has happened, everything they have gone through in the two and a half years.

Chapter Text

Chapter 12

Disclaimer: I don' own anything.


Day Four.

After spending several hours talking about what Phil and Melinda have been up Natasha and Clint explained a few of the things they have been up to since the Battle of New York, including the fact that the reason why Clint didn't fight against the Helicarriers at the Triskelion when SHIELD was falling was because he broke his leg during the mission before and was at a safe house. Once the five friends finally finished talking the all headed to bed, all of them having a lot to think about.

"Mel, Nat, you awake?" Clint asks from his position between Melinda and Natasha at about four am.

"No." They both respond.

"Good." Clint says reaching over Natasha to turn on the light before sitting up.

"You better have a good reason for this." Natasha says as she sits up to.

"I second that." Melinda says, sitting up as well.

"So I was thinking that because it's our last day in exile that we should do something special to wake up Phil and Maria." Clint says.

"What you thinking?" Melinda asks, liking the sound of that.

"Well when I was in the barn and looking through the supplies I noticed that there is the right supplies, for us anyway, to make several large water pistols." Clint says with a grin.

"I approve." Natasha says.

"We're going to have to be quiet." Clint says.

"Like that will be a problem." Melinda says with a smirk and Clint throws the blanket off them.


"You're still watching movies." Andrew says when he walks into the common area at seven and finds the six agents still sitting in front of the TV.

"Yep." The six agents respond.

"When was the last time you slept?" Andrew asks curious.

"Day before you got here." Hunter answers.

"Don't you think you should?" Andrew says.

"Probably." Mack comments, finding himself getting just as interested in the movies as the others even though he didn't pick them.

"Are you going to move today at all?" Andrew asks curious.

"Of course. Coulson and May get back tomorrow, we've got to enjoy our pool while we can." Skye says.

"Your pool?" Andrew asks confused.

"Yeah, we built a pool." Bobbi says, like it's no big deal.

"You built a pool?" Andrew says shocked and amazed.

"Yep." They all say.

"Without Coulson and Melinda knowing?" Andrew asks.

"Yep." They all say, "How do you think they are going to take it?" he asks curious.

"Not well." Andrew informs them, honestly he is rather interested in seeing just how Coulson and May react to that.

"We thought so." Fitz say, sounding disappointed.


Being as quiet as possible Natasha, Clint and Melinda sneak out to the barn and grab what they need before returning to their room.

"Done." Clint says after about half an hour.

"Yep." Natasha and Melinda says and lying between the three agents are five very large homemade water pistols.

"Fill them up and let's go." Natasha say and that's exactly what they do.

A few minutes later all five water pistols are loaded and Natasha, Clint and Melinda make their way to Phil and Maria's room.

Once they get to Phil and Maria's room the three friends paused and get into the same formation that they would get if in they were on a mission and about to breech a room. Once they are in their positions the three exchange nods and Melinda kicks open the door. As soon as they happens the three of them rush in and start spraying Phil and Maria who have bolted up right when they heard the door.

"WHAT THE HELL!" Maria yells.

"This is you're wake up call." Clint says with a grin.

"In what universe is this a reasonable way to wake someone up?" Phil asks

"Ours." Melina says.

"If you want revenge, you're going to have to catch us." Natasha says as she and Clint gently throw the other two guns onto the bed.

Phil and Maria exchange looks at that and within a few seconds they are chasing after Natasha, Clint and Melinda.


After finished watching the movie they were on and having breakfast Skye, Fitz, Simmons, Bobbi, Hunter and Mack all went to get changed having decided to meet in the pool in twenty minutes. To the pool is exactly where Skye is headed but because she is so wrapped up in her own thoughts she doesn't notice that someone is walking besides her.

"Hello, earth to Skye." Hunter says.

"What? Sorry." Skye says in response.

"What's with you?" Hunter asks curious as they continue to walk.

"Nothing."

"You sure, coz it seems like something to me." Hunter comments.

"I'm just thinking."

"About?"

"Coulson and May." Skye admits, all the time she has spent with Hunter telling her that he isn't going to give up until he gets some answers.

"Ah, you're worried." Hunter realises.

"Yeah. I mean they are supposed to be back tomorrow, but what if they're not?" Skye asks, "Or what if they are back, but even more miserable. What do we do then?" Skye asks.

"If they're not back we go find them." Hunter says simply, "And if they are back and miserable we go and by them a lot of beer." He tells Skye.

"This is serious, Hunter." Skye says rolling her eyes as they uses their lanyards to get out onto the hanger.

"I know it is, I'm being serious." Hunter tells her, "If they are miserable then maybe some beer will help them be not so miserable."

"I don't know, I just want them to be back so I know if they are okay." Skye says.

"I know you do, but they will be soon, don't worry." Hunter says putting his arm around Skye's shoulders, attempting to comfort her in a big brother like way.

"I'm trying not to." Skye admits, smiling because she realises exactly what Hunter is trying to do.

"Well then that's your job today." Hunter tells her, "You're to have so much fun that you forget to worry."

"I'm not sure if I can do that." Skye admits as they walk towards Bobbi, Mack, Fitz and Simmons who are already by the pool.

"Bob, order Skye to have fun." Hunter request as they walk over.

"Why?"

"Because she's worried about Coulson and May, she needs a distraction and you're the only one here who outranks her, so order her to have fun." Hunter explains as he removes his arm from around Skye's shoulder so that they can put their stuff down.

"Do I really have to do that, or do you think you can have fun on your own?" Bobbi asks Skye, "Because I will if I have to." Bobbi says, her voice complete serious.

"I think I can manage." Skye says not noticing Hunter whisper something to Mack.

"Good." Bobbi says noticing exactly what Mack and Hunter are doing, "Watch out." She tells Skye.

"Why?" Skye asks confused but before Bobbi has a chance to answer Mack has picked her up and has thrown her into the pool, "Really?" Skye asks once she has come to the surface and she sees Hunter, Mack, Bobbi, Fitz and Simmons laughing though Fitz and Simmons also seem concerned.

"Blame Hunter." Mack says.

"You threw me in." Skye tells him.

"Yeah, but it was his idea." Mack says and Skye rolls her eyes at that.

"Get in here before I make you." Skye requests.

"Yes Ma'am." Hunter says and for a second it looks like he is going to move towards Fitz and Simmons, and if Skye had to guess throw them in too, but he quickly decides against it and walks to the ladder instead.

"Distract Bobbi for me." Mack whispers to Fitz and Simmons as they too walk to the ladder.

"Okay." Simmons says with a confused look to Fitz.

"Hey Bobbi." Simmons says.

"Yeah?" Bobbi asks turning to face them.

"Have you, figured out a lie to tell Coulson and May?" Fitz asks, saying the first thing that comes to mind.

"About the pool?" Bobbi asks.

"Yeah." Simmons says.

"I think we're going to go with built it for training purposes." Bobbi says as Mack attempts to throw her into the pool and instead finds himself being knocked to the ground, "Going to have to be faster than that." She tells Mack as she helps him up and the others laugh.

"Get in here." Hunter and Skye say and Bobbi, Mack, Fitz and Simmons head to the ladder and one by one they climb in.


After several hours, and several re-fills of their water pistols, Phil, Melinda, Clint and Natasha all finally finished their fight and are now all soaking wet and lying on the grass together.

"That was fun." Phil says.

"It really was." Clint confirms.

"So about what time are we thinking Fury's going to show up?" Phil asks curious.

"He said four full days so I would say midnight." Maria says and the others nod in agreement.

"What do you think the kids have done to the Playground?" Phil asks Melinda curious.

"I wouldn't want to guess." Melinda says as she has honestly worried about that.

"You really care about your Ducklings don't you?" Natasha asks, interested as from what they said last night it seems that Skye, Fitz, Simmons, Bobbi, Mack and Hunter have become important to both Phil and Melinda, they have found their way into her friend's heart's and under their protection.

"Yeah, we've been through a lot." Phil says.

"Huh." Natasha says, honestly wanting to get to know them too because they are so important to Phil and Melinda.

"Do you really think that they would have done something to the base?" Clint asks curious.

"They are like us when we were younger." Melinda explains simply.

"Yeah, you should definitely be worried." Natasha comments.

"What do you mean when we were younger?" Maria asks, "We've just spent four days acting like teenagers." She points out.

"Good point." Melinda admits.

"You know maybe we should clean the place up a bit, bring the damage quad bikes back to the barn, and attempt to get the dye out." Phil suggests.

"We could do that, or we could continue to lay out here in the sun." Melinda suggests.

"Let's vote." Phil says, even though he already knows how the vote is going to go.

"Sun." Natasha, Clint, Maria and Melinda say before he can even ask the question.

"Sun it is." Phil says amused.


After spending most of the day in the pool the group of six finally decided to get out, partly because they are hungry, and head back inside.

"So, we going back to our marathon?" Fitz asks.

"We could." Skye says.

"Maybe we should think about making sure that the base is suitable for when May and Coulson get back." Simmons suggests.

"You mean, clean." Hunter says with a frown.

"Yeah." Simmons confirms.

"It could be a good idea." Fitz comments.

"What do we have to clean? We've basically spent all our time in the pool." Skye points out.

"True, but the common area is a mess." Bobbi points out, "It would be nice for Coulson and May to get back to a clean base. Plus if they are in a bad mood it may help." She says and every one considers that

"So, showers and then clean." Skye says with a frown.

"Showers then clean." Simmons, Bobbi and Fitz confirm.


After spending a lot of time outside lying in the sun Phil, Melinda, Clint, Natasha and Maria headed inside to actually do some cleaning, because letting Melinda and Clint clean together won't end well Clint is cleaning the kitchen with Phil while Melinda is cleaning the living room, and attempting to get the dye out of the couch and carpet, with Maria; and Natasha is tidying the bedrooms.

Phil and Clint have been cleaning the kitchen together in silence for a few minutes when Clint realises that he can't stay quiet anymore and has to ask what he has been curious about since his conversations with Natasha and Melinda the day before.

"How are you doing, Phil, really?" Clint asks.

"I'm okay." Phil says, the answer being out of his mouth before he can stop himself.

"Really?" Clint asks disbelieving, "You lost your hand, were brought back from the dead, dealt with side effects from being brought back from the dead, the agency you've been a part of for over thirty years collapsed, you're now director of said agency and you're okay?" Clint asks, clearly not believing that for a second.

"When you say it like that it really is a lot." Phil realises.

"You think?" Clint asks, "So let's try again, how are you really?"

"Honestly, I don't know." Phil admits, "I was still figuring out how be director without the side effects from the GH formula when the second S.H.I.E.L.D came out, and then I wasn't even used to the combining S.H.I.E.L.D when I lost my hand." Phil says, "Honestly, I think I'm lost." Phil says and Clint puts down what he is doing so that he can look right at Phil.

"I don't know how it feels to lose your hand, but I remember what it felt like when I went I lost my hearing and I remember what you told me when I said the exact same thing." Clint says as Phil and Melinda were with him when he permanently lost all hearing in one ear during a mission and partial hearing in the other, they took turns so that one of them were always with him while he was in medical, "I didn't think I could be an agent anymore, I was furious and frightened."

"I remember." Phil says, as he does, it was the most vulnerable he had ever seen Clint and he's only seen him that vulnerable a few times since.

"You told me that that I was still me, that what I had to do was figure out who me was now, but that I wouldn't have to do that alone, and neither do you." Clint says, "We may have our issue right now but you have me Phil, I will always be here for you, and I will do whatever I can to help, so will Nat, so will Maria, and so will Mel. Feeling lost right now is okay, it's normal; but I promise you it won't feel like this forever. You've just got let yourself see the clear path when the time comes." Clint says, "You're strong Phil, you're one of the strongest people I've ever met, you can make it through this." Clint says and to his surprise Phil hugs him.

"Thank you." Phil says, quietly though making sure that he said it loud enough for Clint to hear.

"You don't have to thank me." Clint says as he returns the hug.


"Nat told you about my nightmare, didn't she?" Melinda asks Maria as for the last few minutes Maria has been looking at her as if to ask her something but then seemingly re thought it.

"She did." Maria confirms, "You're not mad are you?"

"No, I figured she would." Melinda says as she knew from the second she told Natasha and Clint about her nightmares that Natasha would go to Maria to get more answers about what happened.

"Why didn't you tell me, Mel?" Maria asks, in a caring voice.

"Because I didn't want to admit how much it was affecting me." Melinda admits, avoiding looking at Maria.

"It's okay to admit that you're hurting, that you feel things. Despite what some people may think, we are human. We do feel things." Maria tells Melinda.

"I know. It's just…."

"Just?" Maria asks.

"It's nothing." Melinda says getting up and walking to the bucket where they are dipping the clothes they are using to clean the couch with in.

"Mel, talk to me." Maria says walking over to her friend who just gives her a look, "Look, I know you don't like to talk, but you clearly need to." Maria tells her friend, "I'm here, Mel. You can't avoid facing whatever it is that's bothering you forever and if you try I'll go get Nat and she'll get it out of you."

"What am I getting out of Mel?" Natasha asks curious as she walks into the room.

"Whatever it is that she clearly needs to talk about, but won't." Maria says

"It's nothing, I'm fine." Melinda lies.

"Yeah, that's not even mildly convince." Natasha informs Melinda, "Do I have to pull out the scotch?" Natasha asks. As Melinda looks between Natasha and Maria she realises that there is no way that she isn't going to get out of talking about what is bothering her which is the downside of having two of the best spies in the world being two of the people in the world she is closest too.

"No." Melinda says with a sigh, "I didn't admit how much what was going on was affecting me because I didn't think I had a right to, happy? Phil was the one going through it, he was the one who was slowly losing his mind and obsessively carving, not me, I was just watching. What right do I have hurt?" Melinda right.

"Every right." Natasha says, "Phil's your family, he has been for thirty three years. He's someone you care about and it's okay to admit that it hurt to watch what happened to him, that it affected you." Natasha says walking over to her friend, "Don't you ever think that it's not." she says, "What you're feeling, your nightmares about what you were ordered to do, were justified, are justified." Natasha says, "And if you ever doubt that, or if anyone ever makes you doubt that I'll be happy to remind you." She says, "I'm always here for you Mel, to talk, or whatever you need."

"Me too." Maria says.

"Thanks." Melinda says and the drift into silence.

"Sooo, how are we going to clean this couch?" Natasha asks about a minute later.

"That, is a very good question." Maria says.


Fitz, Simmons, Bobbi, Mack, Hunter and Skye have been cleaning the common area for a while when all a sudden they smell something amazing.

"What is that?" Mack asks curious.

"No idea." Bobbi says as the door opens and Andrew walks in pushing a cart of food.

"Did you make dinner?" Skye asks surprised walking over.

"Yeah, I saw you cleaning and I figured that I might as well." Andrew says, honestly he was looking for something to do and he figured that making dinner for the six agents would be a good idea. He may not be as good of a cook as Coulson but he knows his way around the kitchen.

"Wow, that's really nice of you." Hunter says.

"It's nothing." Andrew says, "Why don't you all go wash up and then come eat."

"Sure." The six agents say and that's exactly what they do.


It took them several hours, but finally Natasha, Melinda and Maria managed to get the couch cleaned. Once they were one cleaning the kitchen Phil and Clint started to clean everything else, including bringing the broken quadbikes back to the barn.

It has been a few hours since they finished cleaning and once they finished dinner, and did the last of the cleaning, the five friends headed outside, and they have been sitting with beers ever since.

"So, back to the real word." Clint says

"If Fury ever shows up." Phil says.

"We've still got five minutes until midnight, I wouldn't put it past him to wait until right after." Melinda says

"Sounds about right." Natasha says, the others nod and they drift into silence.

For over five minutes the five friends sit in silence before they finally hear the recognizable sound of a Quinjet, as soon as they hear it the five friends get up and walk over to where it is landing.

Once the jet lands the ramp lowers and Fury walks out

"Is my place still in one piece?" Fury asks the five agents curious.

"Yeah, did you doubt it would be?" Clint asks.

"You don't want my answer to that." Fury says.

"Fair enough." Melinda says, "Two of your Quadbikes are slightly damaged." She tells Fury.

"Not surprised." Fury says, as honestly he would have been shocked if the five agents didn't destroy something, "What about you lot? Are you still in piece?" Fury asks, "Have you fixed your damage?"

"Yeah, we are." Phil says.

"And we did some repairing to the damage." Clint says.

"Good. Get on." Fury says and after exchanging a look the five friends walk back into the Quinjet that will take them back to their responsibilities.

Chapter Text

Chapter 13

Disclaimer: I don' own anything.


It has been half an hour since Natasha, Clint, Melinda, Phil, Maria and Fury left Fury's place in the country. Most of the flight have been in silence as Natasha, Clint, Melinda, Phil and Maria have been thinking about and slightly worrying about what there are going to find when they get back to their lives, and what shape their relationship's going to be in now that they aren't around each other all the time.

"So Playground or Avengers facility first?" Fury asks from the cockpit, having beaten Melinda and Clint back to the controls.

"Whichever." Maria says, "I've got to go to The Playground with Mel and Phil, so that we can figure out the coordination thing for the council so it's just Nat and Clint who have to go to the facility." She explains.

"No, it's not. We're coming to The Playground too." Natasha says as she and Clint talked about it earlier.

"You are?" Phil asks surprised.

"Yeah." Clint says with a nod, "We talked about it and decided to spend a couple of days there, see what things are really like, we did skip out last time after all." He says.

"We're not accepting the jobs you offered, this is just us wanting to see new S.H.I.E.L.D, and actually get to know everyone." Natasha explains, wanting to make it clear that things aren't great between them, but they are better.

"Well whatever your reason you're always welcome." Phil says with a grin.

"Well seeing as how I am still meant to be dead I'll head to the facility then you can take the plane form there." Fury says as even though quite a few S.H.I.E.L.D agents know that he is alive not all of them do.

"You know, why don't we drive." Phil suggests and everyone turns to look at him, "You still have one of my cars from last time and it will be hours before anyone's up. Plus we could stop at some of the twenty four hour dinners we used to stop at." He suggests.

"Do they still exist?" Maria asks.

"Some of them do." Natasha says and no one questions how she knows that.

"Five of us in a car for at least four hours, sounds great." Clint says actually meaning that, "I'm in."

"Same." Maria adds and Natasha and Melinda nod.


It has been an hour and a half since the conversation on the Quinjet about driving to DC and half an hour since Phil, Clint, Melinda, Natasha, Maria and Fury arrived at the Avengers facility.

"Mel, catch." Natasha says as throws the car keys to Melinda as they walk to the cars. Natasha, Clint and Maria are carrying bags. Melinda has borrowed some clothes from Natasha and Phil has borrowed some from Clint, which are slightly big on him, "Oh, and shotgun." Natasha says as Melinda catches the keys.

"Why do I have to be stuck in the back with Phil and Clint?" Maria asks, annoyed.

"Because you didn't call shotgun." Natasha says causing Maria to roll her eyes.

"Fine, but I'm not in the middle." Maria informs the others.

"Neither am I" Clint says.

"So what, I am?" Phil asks, not looking happy about that.

"Yep." Natasha, Clint, Melinda and Maria say as they arrive at the car and Natasha, Clint and Maria throw their bags in the back.

"Great." Phil says sarcastically as they all get in the car.


After two hours of driving Melinda pulls off the highway and into a road side diner.

"Didn't we get kicked out of here once?" Clint asks when he gets out of the car and sees where they are.

"Yep." Melinda answers.

"Think we'll be allowed in?" Clint asks curious.

"It was what? Ten year ago. I'm sure that whatever you three did has been forgotten." Phil says, looking at Clint, Natasha and Melinda.

"Why do you assume that it was out fault?" Melinda asks.

"Because nine times out of ten it is." Maria says.

"True, but this time it wasn't on me, it was on you." Clint says looking at Maria, "And Mel, and Nat."

"Really?" Phil asks as they walk in.

"Yep." Clint says.

"Was it like three am and we were exhausted after a mission?" Maria asks, trying to remember.

"Yep, then a group of men came in and gave us hard times." Natasha realises.

"And we knocked them out, I remember." Melinda says with a smirk.

"Good times." Natasha and Maria say causing Phil and Clint to exchange amused smile.


A bit over three hours after they arrived at the roadside diner Phil, Melinda, Clint, Natasha and Maria have arrived back at the playground.

"Hey, you guys have a pool! How did I not notice this last time I was here?" Clint asks as they walk across the hanger.

"Because we didn't have a pool the last time you were here." Phil says as he exchanges a look with Melinda.

"So are you saying that your Ducklings obtained a pool while we were gone?" Natasha asks, amused by that.

"It definitely seem like they did." Melinda says.

"That's not fair, we never did that, they beat us." Clint says with a frown.

"You and Melinda turned the entire basement of the Hub into a pool once." Phil reminds him.

"WHAT!" Natasha and Maria say shocked.

"It was before you time. It was heatwave and the aircon sucked." Clint says as they arrive at the door and they all use their lanyards to enter.

"So true." Melinda and Phil say.


"Any sign of them?" Skye asks Bobbi who is walking down the stairs from Coulson's office

"Nope. I don't they are back yet." She response as she walks over and sits at the table with Hunter, Mack, Fitz, Simmons and Andrew.

"Where are they?" Skye asks.

"They could be back at any time today, just because they aren't back yet isn't a reason to worry." Andrew informs Skye.

"I'm going to track their phones." Skye says.

"Fury has their phones in New York." Simmons reminds her.

"I know but if I track their phones and they are no longer in New York then I'll know they're coming home." Skye says, as she walks across the room but as she does she spots people out in the corridor and instead goes running out there, "YOU'RE BACK." Skye says happily as she hugs Coulson then May.

"Yeah, we're back." Phil says as the walk back into the common area, Natasha, Clint and Maria exchanging amused looks as they do while they throw their bags on the couches.

"Do you want to explain why there is a pool out in the hanger?" Melinda asks looking at Skye.

"For training purposes." Bobbi says standing up, "S.H.I.E.L.D training used to involve training in water and I think it's time we got back to that." Bobbi says. Phil and Melinda exchange looks at that and they both slightly shake their heads then Phil also looks at Natasha who shakes her head to.

"Nice try, what's the real reason?" Phil asks

"Andrew? What are you doing here?" Clint asks noticing who is at the table.

"Andrew?" Melinda asks surprised, "Why are you here?" She asks as he gets up.

"I agreed to do monthly assessments on the team." Andrew says, "Which you didn't know about." He realises.

"No, I didn't." Melinda says looking at Phil.

"Sorry, I meant to tell you." Phil says, feeling bad about that as he meant to tell Melinda, but he completely forgot to.

"Of course you did." Melinda mutters, looking far from impressed.

"So, the pool, what's the story there?" Maria asks, deciding that changing the subject might be best everyone.

"We wanted to have some fun." Skye says, picking up on the tension that is clearly in the room, "Can we keep it?" She asks hopefully.

"Please." Fitz, Simmons, Mack, Bobbi and Hunter say.

"I'm not sure." Phil says, hesitantly, "We're going to need the room at some point." He says, looking at Melinda for help.

"But we don't right now, right?" Skye asks with a hopeful look.

"That is something that Agent May and myself need to discuss." Phil says.

"Among other things." Melinda adds.

"Now?" Phil asks and Melinda nod. Without another word to anyone else they both head upstairs.

"Skye, would you mind showing me where the gym is?" Natasha asks curious, causing Clint and Maria to exchange confused looks as they both know that Natasha could easily find whatever she wanted.

"Sure." Skye says and she and Natasha leave the room.

"So, I guess, we're joining you guys for breakfast." Clint comments, figuring he can get answers about what is going on from Natasha later.

"Are you staying?" Mack asks curious.

"A couple of days." Clint answers and the others nod.

"So how did you get a pool here so quickly?" Maria asks curious as she and Clint sit down.

"We built it." Fitz says.

"Nice." Clint says with a grin, which causes Maria to playfully hit him, as she does they both notice Andrew walking out the room, seemingly following Skye and Natasha.


After leaving the common area Phil and Melinda walk up to Phil's office in silence.

"Melinda..." Phil say once the door is closed.

"What is he doing here, Phil? And why is this the first time I'm hearing about this?" Melinda asks

"Before he left a month ago Andrew agreed that he would do monthly evaluations on the team for the next few months. With everything going on I completely forgot about it." Phil admits, "I was trying to figure out the right way to tell you…" Phil admits, worried that he hurt Melinda again.

"You should have just told me." Melinda sys.

"I'm sorry; and I'm sorry that I keep screwing things up with us." Phil admits.

"You haven't screwed up anything." Melinda assures Phil, "Just tell me next time, please." Melinda requests.

"I will." Phil promises, "So the kids got a pool, what are we going to do about it?" He asks curious


"Here you are, the gym." Skye tells Natasha about a minute after they left the common area.

"Thank you."

"I'll leave you alone." Skye says as she turns to leave as even though she would be very interested in watching the famous Black Widow train she is sure that it probably wouldn't be appreciated.

"Skye." Natasha says causing her to turn back around, "I actually wanted to talk to you."

"Me, what about?" Skye asks confused.

"Bahrain. I know you know what happened." Natasha says, not being one to beat around the bush.

"You know? I didn't think anyone knew." Skye says wondering why Natasha is bringing that up.

"Clint and I were meant to go on the mission with Phil and Mel, we were meant to be their backup" Natasha says, ignoring Skye direct question as once she says what she wants to say it will become very obvious why she is saying what she is seeing, "But something came up and we had to go handle something else with Hill." Natasha says, "As soon as we got back we started to hear the stories and we headed straight to find Mel. She was still in medical when we saw her and the second I saw her I knew exactly what happened." Natasha says, knowing that she will never forget the moment she saw her friend lying in medical with an all too familiar look in her eyes, "I knew what happened because I recognized the look in her eyes. It's a look I see every time I look in the mirror." Natasha says and Skye has to fight not to react to that because she knows what that means, "Mel used to be different, Phil and Andrew have probably told you that." Natasha says, even though that is true Natasha can admit that she did see a lot more of the 'old Mel' in the past few days, and Skye nods, "But there are things that they don't even know." Natasha says, "Mel transferred to admin basically right away and she shut herself off from everyone." Natasha sighs, "Mel made a choice that day to save a lot of people, and she's had to live with the horror of that choice, the guilt every minute of every day since; and believe me she does" Natasha says, "After Mel left Andrew she went to a place in New York that is owned by the two of us, Phil, Maria and Clint. I hadn't heard from Mel in a while at that point so I called Andrew and he told me what had happened, and I went to check on her myself and…. She wasn't doing too well when I found her." Natasha says, struggling to find the right words to describe what state Melinda was in.

"You don't have to tell me." Skye says, finding her voice, not sure if she wants to know.

"You need to understand." Natasha says, "Mel was….in a really bad way, I don't even want to consider what I would have found if I had gotten there even an hour later." Natasha tells Skye, trying to be as vague as possible, but at the same time she wants Skye to understand just what effect the decision that she threw in Melinda's face really had, "I stayed with Mel for a week, I did what I could, I don't even know if I helped, I just knew I wasn't leaving her alone." Natasha says remembering all the calls from Maria and Fury she ignored during that time, thankfully Phil and Clint were on a mission at the time so at least they didn't keep calling her, "She may have saved a lot of people but Mel will never forgive herself for the decision that she made that day, she lives with it, she sees it every day, so she doesn't need you reminding her of it." Natasha says, "Mel told me that you had your reasons for bringing it up the way you did, and she also told me not to give you a hard time about it, because that's who she is." Natasha says, "But I wanted to talk to you anyway so you could fully understand the affect that Bahrain had on Mel and so that maybe you'll think twice before bringing it up again." Natasha says.

"I won't bring it up again, I promise." Skye says, a tear coming to her eyes as she can't believe how much she would have hurt Melinda by bringing it up.

"Good." Natasha says, "I didn't tell you this to hurt you Skye. I just wanted you to understand that even if Mel didn't let it show she would have been hurt by you bringing it up, especially considering you used it against her." Natasha says, knowing that for a fact as she may have used the half an hour that they were at The Avengers facility to watch security footage of the incident so she could see for herself just what happened.

"I can't believe she forgave me." Skye says shocked as knowing what she knows now she wouldn't have been surprised if May never forgave her.

"That's who Mel is she forgives those she cares about, even though she never forgives herself." Natasha says, "You matter to Mel, and Phil, they're not going to give up on you Skye and they are always going to care for you and look out for you." Natasha says, speaking for personal experience, "You should remember that, and think about showing them the same kindness, and loyalty." Natasha says before walking out of the room when she reaches the door she finds Andrew standing at the doorway.

"I never knew." Andrew tells Natasha, it being clear that he is both shocked and hurt.

"That's because she didn't want you to." Natasha says before walking down the corridor.

After watching Natasha walk away Andrew turns to the gym where he sees Skye clearly trying not to cry.

"Skye." Andrew says as he walks over to her.

"I didn't know. She should hate me." Skye says to Andrew.

"Not possible. Melinda cares about you too much to hate you." Andrew says, being as comforting as he can.


"That is a very good question." Melinda says, "By the looks of it I think they built it." Melinda informs Phil.

"Do you think so?" Phil asks.

"I do." Melinda confirms, "Which means it probably means a lot to them." She comments.

"Probably." Phil confirms, "Which begs the question, what should we do?" he asks.

"Let them keep it for now. When the plane is finished we'll discuss it again." Melinda says.

"Good idea, want to join breakfast?" Phil asks and Melinda nods.


When Melinda and Phil arrive downstairs a few minutes later the first thing they notice is the missing people.

"Where are Skye, Nat and Andrew?" Melinda ask.

"Nat asked Skye to show her to the gym and Andrew followed a few minutes later." Clint says between mouthfuls of food.

"Excuse me." Melinda says leaving the room just as Phil sits down.


After leaving the common area Melinda heads straight down to the gym, she is about half way there when she sees Natasha.

"I take it you had your talk with Skye."

"Yeah, I did." Natasha confirms, "And Andrew heard, at least, most of it." Natasha says, knowing that Melinda shouldn't be blindsided but that.

"What specifically did you tell her?" Melinda asks more worried about Andrew knowing about some of things Natasha knows than Skye.

"I mentioned New York." Natasha says knowing that that's what Melinda really wants to know, "I was vague but he would have realised what I was saying."

"Okay. I should go talk to them." Melinda says, looking like she really doesn't want to do that.

"I know I've probably just made things so much worse, but do you want company?" Natasha asks.

"No, and you haven't, go enjoy breakfast Nat, I'll be okay." Melinda assures her friend.

"If you change your mind you know where I'll be." Natasha says and after exchanging nods Melinda heads to the gym while Natasha heads back to the common area.

When she reaches the door to the gym Melinda takes a deep breath before she enters as she realises that it's harder than she thought it would be to face two of only three people who now know just how much Bahrain affected her.

When Melinda enters the gym she finds Skye hitting a punching bag and Andrew holding it for her.

"Andrew, can you give us a moment." Melinda requests.

"Sure." Andrew says letting go of the bag once Skye stops hitting it, before walking across the room "I'm sorry I didn't realises, that I didn't help." He says to Melinda once he is right next to her.

"You don't have anything to apologise for." Melinda tells him, "I didn't want you to know." She says.

"I still should have realised." Andrew says before walking out of the room, leaving Skye and Melinda.

"I am sorry May, I am so so sorry." Skye tells her.

"It's okay."

"No it's not. I shouldn't have thrown Bahrain in your face and I shouldn't have believed Jiaying over you." Skye says.

"She was your mother, of course you believed her, that's okay Skye." Melinda tells the younger woman taking several steps towards her.

"Jiaying may be my mother biologically, and she may have loved me, but she also tried to kill me and used me for own purposes, a mother doesn't do that." Skye says, as she has had a lot of time to think in the past few weeks and she has realise that, "A mother protects you, teaches you, does what she has to not to hurt you even if that means getting hurt yourself, and only want's what's best for you." Skye says walking to May, "A mother does everything you've done for me."

"Skye…" Melinda says not sure how to respond to that.

"No, let me finish." Skye requests, "I was so happy to find my biological family that I hurt the people who had been a family to me when I had none, that's you, and Coulson, and even the rest of the team. So I'm sorry May, I'm sorry that I hurt you, and I'll do my best not to hurt you again." Skye says, "You showed me what it was like to really have a mother for the first time in my life and I threw that all away. I forgot that when I found when I came from. You didn't deserve that, not after everything you've done for me." Skye says, clearly getting upset.

Not sure how to respond to that Melinda walks the last few steps that separate them and hugs Skye, "it's okay, Skye." Melinda says as she holds Skye, "it's all okay." Melinda says and she feels Skye nods as she holds her.

For a long time Melinda and Skye just stand together in the gym, Melinda holding the girl who is the daughter she never had and Skye being heled by the mother she always wanted.

Chapter Text

Chapter 14

Disclaimer: I don' own anything.


"Finally decided to join us did you?" Clint asks when Melinda and Skye walk into the common area, after they spent about twenty minutes in silence holding each other.

"Yeah, we figured we should eat." Melinda comments as she and Skye sit down at the table, as they do Natasha catches Melinda eyes and the second she does she knows what her friend wants to ask so Melinda gives her a look back which Natasha knows to mean, 'I'm okay.'

"Is there no pancakes left?" Skye asks a little disappointed.

"Here, I saved you some." Jemma says passing a plate that she has hidden to Skye.

"Thanks. You're the best." Skye responds happily.

"Is there any…."

"Eggs and bacon left, for you there is." Clint says passing Melinda a plate.

"Thanks." Melinda says gratefully and the table drifts into silence.

"Sooo." Hunter says breaking the silence a few minutes later, "What's the verdict on the pool? Can we keep it?"

"For now." Phil say, "IF we need the space we'll revisit the subject but for now yes, you can keep it." Phil tells the agents.

"YES! Thank you." Skye says happily.

"You're welcome." Phil says.

"Just remember that we may have to get rid of it in the future." Melinda tells the agents all of whom nod.

"So, where have you been the last few days?" Bobbi asks curious.

"A house in the country." Clint answers.

"What did you do?" Mack ask.

"Just had some fun." Maria answers, purposely being vague.

"What kind of fun?" Fitz asks curious.

"Just fun." Natasha says with a smirk.

"Okay then." Skye says looking between the five people who seem to be sharing a private joke, "Are things good now?" Skye asks curious.

"We're still working on it." Melinda says.

"But they are better." Natasha adds.

"Good, I hated seeing you guys so miserable." Skye comments and everyone goes back to eating.


"So I suppose we should talk." Melinda says to Andrew once she has finished eating, it being clear to Phil, Clint, Maria and Natasha that she is basically forcing herself to say that, as honestly she doesn't want to have this conversation.

"Yeah, we should." Andrew confirms.

"Feel free to use my office." Phil offers.

"We were going to anyway." Melinda says as she and Andrew head upstairs.

"So is there anything that we need to do today?" Hunter asks curious.

"Not at this stage." Phil says.

"Good." Hunter says, "Pool volley ball?" He asks the others.

"Sure." Bobbi says and the others nod.

"You should all join us." Skye says looking at Phil, Natasha, Clint and Maria.

"Maybe later, we've got a few things to do fist." Phil says.

"Okay. Pool in ten?" Skye asks, the others nod and all of them get up and leave.

"Where's a…. ah got you." Natasha says once the others leave and Natasha gets up and walks over to Skye's laptop.

"Nat, no." Phil says getting up and hurrying over to her, realising exactly what she is going to do.

"Come on Phil, you want to know what's going on up there too, I know you do." Natasha tells him, honestly the reason she wants to know is so that she can interfere if it becomes clear that Melinda needs her to.

"No I…." Phil starts to say but Natasha just gives him a disbelieving look, "Okay, I do." Phil confirms, "But I also respect Melinda's privacy."

"More like you're afraid of what Mel will do when she finds out." Clint says walking over, having a feeling that there is more to this than just Natasha wanting to know what is going on.

"Maybe, but that's because I'm smart." Phil tells his friend, "Maria you agree with me, right?"

"I kind of want to know too." Maria admits.

"Fine." Phil says with a sigh, "But if Melinda asks I tried to stop you." Phil tells Natasha.

"Like you could." Natasha says as she quickly starts to type on the computer, "Really Mel? It's like you don't trust us." Natasha says annoyed, although she realises that there may be another reason.

"You did just try to hack the security cameras to spy on Mel and Andrew talking." Maria reminds her.

"Did she take the cameras up there off line?" Clint asks.

"Yep." Natasha says.

"Looks like we're going to have to wait for Melinda and Andrew to come down." Phil says.

"Not necessarily." Clint says with a grin as he wants to know what is going on upstairs and he is sure Natasha does to, though he suspects that she has another reason.

"Oh no." Phil says, knowing that he isn't going to like this.


As soon as Melinda and Andrew walk into Phil's office Melinda walks over to Phil's desk and presses the same button that either she or Phil would press when Phil was having an 'incident'.

"Why did you do that?" Andrew asks curious.

"Because Nat is down stairs." Melinda says as if that explains everything, which it basically does.

"Right." Andrew says, and the two of them drift into silence.

"How did I never realises?" Andrew asks after a few minutes of awkward silence.

"Because I didn't want you to." Melinda says, "I was in a bad place and I didn't want you to be in that place with me so I didn't let myself show how bad it was." Melinda tells Andrew.

"But you showed Natasha." Andrew says, the words out before he can stop them.

"Nat realised all on her own, she didn't need me to tell her, and I didn't, she just understood." Melinda explains.

"I wanted to understand. I wanted to help you." Andrew tells Melinda.

"I didn't want your help, you couldn't have helped me." Melinda says, as she does she hears something.

"Why not?" Andrew asks as Melinda walks over to the far wall.

"Because as much as you wanted to you could never and can never understood how it feels to do what I did." Melinda says as she pulls over a chair, "And I guess I didn't think I deserved your help." Melinda says as she pulls open a vent, "Really?" She asks Clint who is lying in the vent, though to be honest she isn't as annoyed as she seems, and is actually quiet glad to see Clint because it means that she doesn't have to keep having the conversation that she is having.

"Hey, Mel." Clint says with a grin, "Andrew." He says as he climbs out.

"Barton." Andrew says.

"I think we're done here." Melinda says to Andrew.

"Yeah, I guess so." Andrew says before leaving the room, realising that Melinda isn't going to say anything else.

"You can come out too, Nat." Melinda says and a few seconds' later Natasha climbs out of the same vent Melinda found Clint in.

"I told you that you were being loud." Natasha tells Clint.

"What are you two doing?" Melinda asks.

"We're your moral support." Natasha explains, "I thought you could use it."

"And I'm completely confused about what is going on, but came up with the idea." Clint explains.

"Thanks." Melinda says gratefully, "That's wasn't a conversation I wanted to finish."

"I figured. That's why I tried to hack the cameras, so I could interfere if you needed me to." Natasha tells Melinda.

"That was why I blocked the cameras, so that you would do something like this." Melinda admits.

"Well it's good to know we're predictable." Clint comments, a slight frown as in their lives predictable is dangerous.

"Only because I know you." Melinda says and the three of them drift into silence.

"So, maybe we should head back downstairs." Natasha suggests and Melinda and Clint nod.


"So I guess Natasha is in the vents too." Andrew says when he walks downstairs and only finds Phil and Maria.

"Yep." Phil says.

"Make sense." Andrew says with a sigh, "My evaluations for everyone are on your desk, I think it's time I go." He tells Phil.

"Are you sure?" Phil asks.

"Yeah." Andrew says with a nod, "It was nice seeing you Maria."

"It was nice seeing you too." Maria responds.

"I'll walk you out." Phil offers.

"Thanks." Andrew says and he and Phil walk out of the common area.

"Andrew's left." Maria says to Melinda, Natasha and Clint when they walk down, "Phil's walking him out."

"I thought he might." Melinda admits.

"Guess whatever you had to talk about didn't go well?" Maria asks.

"Nope." Melinda says.

"And you don't want to talk about it, okay." Maria realises, "Want to test the gym?" She asks curious.

"Oh yeah." Melinda says.

"Sure." Natasha says.

"Sounds good." Clint says and the four friends head to the gym.

When Natasha, Clint, Clint and Maria get to the gym, after they all changed into work out gear, they start four way sparing and about fifteen minutes later Phil walks in with a pile of paperwork and sits down and watches them while completing his paperwork.


A few hours later Melinda, Clint, Phil, Natasha and Maria are still in the gym and the younger agents have recently gotten out of the pool

"They're not upstairs." Skye says walking back into the common area where Bobbi, Hunter, Mack, Fitz, and Simmons are.

"Have they left again?" Hunter asks.

"No." Bobbi says and everyone turns to look at her, "They are in gym." She says as Natasha has left the security camera's up so they are clear on the computer.

"This I have to see." Skye says hurrying out of the room, the others not far behind her.


When Skye, Simmons, Fitz, Mack, Bobbi and Hunter walk into the gym about a minute later they find Phil sitting on the ground with paperwork, and Natasha, Clint, Melinda and Maria each holding two sticks of wood and seemingly fighting with them. As the younger agents walk in they realise that it's kind of amazing as they all have to be prepared to face attacks from three different people.

"Morse, join us." Clint says when he spots Bobbi walk in with the others.

"Alright." Bobbi says and she walks over and picks up spare sticks and slips into the fighting simultaneously.

"Okay, how do they do that?" Skye asks as she sits down next to Coulson as she is sure that even with the training May has given her that she wouldn't be able to keep up.

"Experience." Phil answers.

"How long have they been going at it?" Hunter asks curious.

"A few hours." Phil answers

"Really?" Simmons asks surprised, "Shouldn't they rest?"

"Probably, but none of them will admit it until they have to." Phil explains, "They have been taking water breaks though."

"Good." Simmons says.

"So, where's Dr Garner?" Mack asks curious.

"He's left." Phil explains and the others nod.

For the next fifteen minutes Skye, Fitz, Simmons, Hunter, Mack and Phil watch as Melinda, Natasha, Clint, Maria and Bobbi fight together with sticks.

"Water." Clint says after over fifteen minutes and they all stop fighting right away and walk over to the collection of water bottles.

"Skye, Hunter, over here." Melinda instructs between taking mouthfuls of water. Skye and Hunter exchange confused looks at that but even though they are confused they still walk over.

"Yeah?" Skye asks.

"We're going to do some team combat fighting sessions and the two of you are joining in." Melinda says.

"Oh, good idea. Me, you and Clint against the others." Natasha suggests.

"Yep." Melinda says with a nod as that's what she was thinking.

"Two Avengers and May against us? That's not exactly fair." Hunter comments.

"Fighting never is." Clint says, "We're in a world right now where you'll never be in an even matched fight, it's time you get used to it." He says.

"But you do have one advantage." Natasha says.

"What's that?" Skye asks, as right now she can't see it.

"You know us." Melinda says simply, "You've watched us fight, you've fought with us, and you've fought against us. That gives you an advantage that you'll vary rarely have in the field." Melinda explains.

"Unless you're fighting someone you know." Maria points out.

"Yeah." Natasha confirms.

"Take five minutes to discuss strategy then we'll talk." Melinda says and she, Clint and Natasha walk over to the other side of the room, as they do Phil gets up and walks over to them.

"You're not going to send them to medical are you?" Phil asks, slightly concerned.

"No, why would you even ask that?" Clint asks, pretending to be insulted.

"Because I've dealt with the aftermath of you three running training sessions." Phil says, "It is not going to be like that, right?" Phil asks, giving Melinda, Clint and Natasha a stern look.

"It won't be, don't worry." Melinda assures him.

"Good." Phil says before walking back over to Fitz, Simmons and Mack.

For the next five minutes Skye, Hunter, Bobbi and Maria talk in hushed whispers while Melinda, Clint and Natasha are silent as they don't need to talk to each other to discuss a plan, they know each other well enough to instinctively come up with it while they are fighting.

"Time's up." Melinda says.

"We're so screwed aren't we?" Skye asks as she walks back over to the mats with Bobbi, Hunter and Maria

"As someone who has been watching them, and fighting with them for fifteen years I can say, oh yeah, with complete confidence." Maria tells Skye.

"Great." Hunter says sarcastically as they arrive back in the centre of the mats.

"Everyone ready?" Melinda asks.

"No." Skye says.

"Good." Natasha says.

"Normal S.H.I.E.L.D sparing rules?" Bobbi asks.

"Yep." Melinda, Clint and Natasha answer.

"Which are what exactly?" Hunter asks confused.

"Basically nothing that will seriously or hurt in the long term." Bobbi explains, "Anything else is fair game."

"Also it's not about how many times you get knocked to the mat, it's about how many times you get up." Maria explains, "Get up until you can't anymore." She says.

"Okay, now we start in ten seconds." Clint says and in exactly ten seconds the fight starts.

Even though Melinda, Clint and Natasha are outnumbered they are at no way at a disadvantage in fact it is clear that they have the upper hand, partly due to their skill but partly because they work so well together. Hunter is the first to get knocked down, within the first few seconds but he quickly gets up and re-joins the fight.

For the next few minutes Maria, Bobbi, Skye and Hunter fight against Melinda, Natasha and Clint, during the fighting it becomes clear that Natasha, Melinda and Clint and aren't holding back and it becomes clear just how amazing of a team they are. A bit under five minutes after they begin it becomes clear that Skye, Hunter, Bobbi and Maria just can't do it anymore and they call it.

"Not bad." Melinda say as she, Clint and Natasha help them up.

"Not bad? Really." Hunter asks shocked.

"You heled out longer than most people do against us." Clint says.

"Clint's right, you did well, but you could have done better." Natasha says, "Skye you have an advantage that you didn't use, why not?"

"Do you mean my powers?" Skye asks surprised, and Natasha nods, "I didn't think I could, I thought it was against the rules."

"Of course you could have." Melinda says, "It gives you an advantage Skye, and in a fight you've got to use every advantage you've got." Melinda says and Skye nods.

"We're going to go again but this time we're going to do a little differently." Clint says.

"We're all going to work on issues that the three of us and you picked up during that fight." Natasha explains and the others nod.

"Good, we'll take a break then get to work." Melinda says.


After hour or so of Clint, Natasha, Melinda, Maria, Bobbi, Skye and Hunter fighting Clint, Natasha and Melinda spend several hours just fighting each other while the others watch and occasionally join in.

"Okay, that's enough with the fighting." Phil says standing up putting an end to the fight that is currently going on, "It's time for dinner. I want everyone to go towel down then everyone, except for Barton and May, are going to help to make dinner." Phil says.

"Why not May and Barton?" Skye asks curious.

"Because we want the kitchen to still be in once piece." Natasha says as Melinda throws a towel at her, "Believe me you don't want those two cooking."

"We'll handle the washing up instead." Clint says.

"Fine by me." Phil says, though he knows that that will most likely end with a water fight, "Everyone meet in the kitchen in half an hour." He says and everyone starts to head out of the gym.

"Thanks for that." Bobbi tells Melinda, Clint and Natasha, truly meaning her words "You showed me how rusty I am after my injuries and helped me realise that my body is ready to be back, so thanks." Bobbi says as even though she isn't sure if she can be the same agent she was it's good to know that she can physically fight the way she used to.

"You're welcome." Natasha says.

"You did good, Morse." Clint tells her.

"Thanks." Bobbi say and they all walk of the gym.


A few hours later, after a great family like dinner where the washing up surprisingly didn't end in a water fight, Phil, Clint, Melinda, Maria and Natasha are up in Phil's office together drinking while the 'kids' are downstairs continuing their marathon.

"So we didn't really get to figuring out our coordination." Maria comments.

"That's what tomorrow is for." Melinda comments.

"Fine by me." Maria admits.

"So, what do you think of everything?" Phil asks Natasha and Clint curious

"Not bad." Clint says with a nod.

"You're team has promise, need work but they have potential." Natasha says, "It's good to know that you have Bobbi and Skye on your team and Hunter may not be as skilled as he could be but he will clearly do whatever it takes to watch his team's back and protect them which is good." She says.

"You've spent all day reading them, haven't you?" Melinda asks her friend, having a feeling that that's what happened.

"Of course, did you expect anything different?" Natasha asks.

"Nope." Melinda admits.

"We're almost finished this bottle Phil, do you have more?" Clint asks curious.

"Yep, it's over there. If you want it you'll have to get it." Phil say and Clint gets up and goes and gets it.

"So Mel, are you going to tell us what happened with Andrew?" Maria ask curious.

"Nope." Melinda says as she takes a large mouthful of her scotch, "Pass the scotch Clint." She requests and he does just that. As Melinda pours herself another drink the room drifts into uncomfortable silence, everyone except for Natasha being confused about exactly why.

"So, when are you guys going back to New York?" Phil asks curious breaking the silence.

"Tomorrow, day after tomorrow." Natasha says and Clint nods.

"You're welcome to stay longer." Phil says, hoping that they do.

"Thanks for the offer, but we can't. We do have lives to get back to." Clint says.

"Yeah, I know. I just thought I would offer." Phil says, "You're always welcome here, remember that." He says.

"Of course we will." Natasha says and the five friends exchange smiles and drift into silence, but this time it is quiet comfortable silence.

Chapter Text

Chapter 15

Disclaimer: I don' own anything.


It has been five days since Phil, Melinda, Clint, Natasha and Maria got back from their exile and in that time things at the playground have slowly gotten back to normal, basically the only differences are that there are a lot more calls, both regular and video, between the Playground and The Avengers as well as conference calls between the entire Council and Phil ever second day.

It is about lunchtime and Phil, Melinda, Bobbi, and Maria, who has made a trip to The Playground, are in Phil's office talking via video call to Weaver and Dickerson who are on the ship.

"We have intel. We should act before things change." Melinda argues.

"We don't know enough." Bobbi points out, "If we go in now we'll be going in completely blind, who knows what we'll be facing." She says, "This is Hydra that much we know, but we need to find out who we would be up against and what they have."

"What are you suggesting?" Maria asks Bobbi curious, as it is clear that the younger agent has a plan.

"That we take time and investigate this completely find out exactly what we are facing before we send in a team blind." Bobbi argues.

"Or we could send in a team to get more Intel." Melinda argues.

"We would still be sending in a team blind. I agree with Agent Morse, we need to be smart about this." Weaver says.

"What if we miss an opportunity by being overly cautious?" Melinda asks, "We've got this Intel now, we should act on it before they can prepare against us."

"Phil, what do you think?" Maria asks as she can honestly see both sides of the argument.

"I think we should go in now." Phil says honestly and Melinda is grateful for that, "But because this is a big issue and very dangerous I will defer to the council for the final call." He says, it being a hard thing for him to do, but it fits with the way S.H.I.E.L.D is trying to be now.

"Okay, let's take a vote, May?" Maria asks.

"Go in now."

"Okay. Morse?"

"Wait until we know more." Bobbi answers.

"Weaver?"

"Wait, it is the smart thing to do." Weaver say as even though she understands the point of going in now she thinks waiting is best.

"Dickerson?"

"Wait."

"And even though it doesn't matter I say go in now." Maria admits, feeling like it is odd as one person deciding everything then everyone else having to go along with it is what she is used to.

"Okay, we're waiting." Phil says, not really feeling like that is the right decision.

"Now that is decided if you excuse me I have to go run diagnostics on the Quinjet's." Melinda says before leaving.

"Bobbi work with Skye, and Hunter if he's free, and work on finding all the Intel that you can." Phil instructs.

"On it." Bobbi says before leaving.

"Agent Weaver, Agent Dickerson, see what you can find from your end." Phil instructs.

"Yes Sir." Weaver says before ending the call.

Once the call is ended Phil walks over to his desk and locks down the office.

"So May, she's going in anyway, isn't she?" Phil asks as that's what it seems like to him but he wants to know Maria's opinion.

"Oh yeah." Maria confirms.


After leaving Phil's office Melinda heads down to her bunk where she changes into her flight suit and grabs her ICER. Once she is changed and has her weapon Melinda pull out her phone and presses call on her second contact.

"Mel." Natasha's voice says in a way of answer.

"Have you and Clint got a few hours free?" Melinda asks curious.

"Why?"

"I could use your help with something, a mission." Melinda explains.

"We can spare some time for that." Natasha says.

"Good, I'll be there to get you in forty minutes."

"See you soon." Natasha says before hanging up.

Despite the fact that she is ignoring the council decision Melinda knows that she is making the right decision, because they need to know what Hydra is doing and they may be able to get Intel from this location. Even though it is a risk it is a risk that is worth it.

Once she has everything she needs Melinda leaves her bunk being glad that she knows exactly what to do not to show the Quinjet leaving coming up on any system.


"She's not going to go in alone right? She'll call Nat and Clint, right?" Phil ask as that's what he thinks but he wants to know for sure.

"Of course she will." Maria says, "Mel knows how dangerous this is, the only way she'll go in alone is if Nat and Clint can't go with her, and as far as I know they're free."

"Good." Phil says, "So we give her an hour then I'll go downstairs and pretend to look for her and you'll call Steve then we'll report what is going on to the council."

"Yep." Maria says with a nod, "While we are on the subject what the hell is going on with Clint, Nat and Mel?"

"No idea." Phil says, "All I know is that since last week it seems that Nat seems, almost protective, of Melinda and I'm pretty sure that Clint is just as confused as us but is going on with it." Phil says, something which doesn't even surprise him as that's who Clint is.

"Something happened when Andrew was here." Maria says, "I think he found out something, maybe about back then, something we don't even know." She says uncertain as that would be her best guess.

"It seems like it." Phil says with a nod, "He knew about their history, right?" Phil asks curious as he's always assumed so but now he's not sure.

"Oh yeah." Maria says with a nod, "Do you think they started it again?"

"I don't think so. It doesn't seem like it, but maybe." Phil says with a shrug.

"If they have started again does that mean that the bet is back on?" Maria asks curious.

"I hope so, I would love to collect my money from Fury." Phil says and Maria is amused by that.

"How mad do you think the council is going to be?"

"As long as they pull this off things should be fine." Phil says and Maria nods.


Almost forty minutes later Melinda lands a Quinjet at the New Avengers facility. As soon as the ramp opens Melinda finds Clint and Natasha waiting, both wearing their normal mission gear, weapons included.

"So, what's the op?" Clint asks curious when he sees Melinda.

"Hydra safe house." Melinda says, "We just know about it. We have no intel about how many people are there, their abilities or what kind of weapons they have." Melinda says as there were no satellites nearby for Skye to hack and fly over to get them the Intel they need.

"So we're going in blind, okay." Natasha says, not even surprised by that, "what's the objective?'

"Subdue anyone there, persevere the location and gain Intel." Melinda explains.

"Okay, no explosions, got it." Clint says with a nod, "Let's go."

"One more thing." Melinda says, "This isn't exactly sanctioned, in fact the Council's instructions are to wait."

"We figured." Natasha says and Melinda gives her a look, "You wouldn't be here alone if you had permission. I'm guessing that they're being cautious?"

"Yep." Melinda answers, "Phil deferred to the council and it was me and Maria against Weaver, Bobbi and Dickerson."

"Well, this isn't the first time we've done something against orders…" Clint says.

"Or the hundredth." Natasha adds.

"So we're wasting time, let's go." Clint says and after exchanging nods Melinda and Clint head to the cockpit, after Clint took of his Quiver and put his bow down, and Natasha sits down in one of the seats.


"Got anything new?" Maria asks as she and Phil walk down to the common, an hour after Melinda left the office, where Skye, Bobbi and Hunter are on computers.

"Nope." Skye answers, "All we know for sure is that it is a Hydra safe house." She says.

"Excuse me, I'm going to find Agent May." Phil says before leaving, knowing that he isn't going to find her.

"What have you been checking?" Maria asks as she sits down.

"Everything I can think off." Skye says, Maria nods and the four of them drift into silence.

"May's gone." Phil says walking into the common area a few minutes later.

"What?" Skye asks shocked.

"I can't find May and a Quinjet is gone." Phil explains.

"How didn't we realise?" Hunter asks surprised.

"There a ways to leave without alerting anyone." Bobbi says, "She's gone to the safe house." Bobbi realises.

"Alone?" Skye asks shocked and concerned.

"I doubt it." Maria says pulling out her phone and calling someone.

"Hello, Captain Rogers speaking." Steve answers after a few rings.

"Steve, its Maria, are Clint and Natasha there?" She asks, pretending to be curious even though she is pretty sure that she already knows the answer.

"No they left about twenty minutes with Agent May." Steve answers.

"Of course they did." Maria says with a sign, "Thanks Steve, I'll talk to you later." Maria says before hanging up.

"Nat and Clint gone to?" Phil asks Maria.

"Yep."

"So, what's just happened?" Hunter asks.

"May, Barton and Romanoff have gone to the Hydra safe house." Bobbi says, "Something which May was ordered not to do."

"Technically she wasn't ordered not to." Maria points out, "We probably should have been clearer on that."

"You think?"

"We need to go, we need to back them up." Skye says.

"No." Phil says to Skye's shock, "If we go to back them up then we could interfere in whatever plan they have." He says, "We'll monitor things from here and be prepared to interfere if needed, but for now we stay put." He says, "I need to go let the council know what is going on." Phil says before heading upstairs.

"So what? We're just going to leave them alone to handle who knows what?" Skye asks surprised, "Who knows what is going to happen."

"It's Mel, Clint and Nat there isn't much they can't handle." Maria says, "But just in case we should be ready to move to back them up." Maria instructs and Skye, Bobbi and Hunter nod.


Not even half an hour after they left the Avengers facility Melinda lands the Quinjet.

"How far?" Natasha asks as Melinda and Clint walk out from the cockpit.

"Less than a mile. This the biggest space near the house there is." Melinda explains and Natasha nods.

"So, how are we going to do this?" Clint asks.

"Not sure yet." Melinda says, "I don't know all the ways in yet." She admit.

"Making it up as we go along then are we? Good that's my favourite type of mission." Clint says with a grin as he puts his Quiver on his back.

"And our speciality." Natasha adds.

"Time to move."


"Are you saying that Agent May has gone to the safe house anyway?" Weaver asks Phil it being clear that she is less than happy.

"With Former Agents Barton and Romanoff." Phil explains.

"Were you aware that Agent May was going to do this?" Weaver asks.

"No." Phil says.

"How are we handling this situation?" Dickerson asks.

"Monitoring it. We are letting Barton, Romanoff and May handle it and only interfering if needed." Phil explains.

"Keep us updated and contact us when Agent May gets back, a conversation needs to occur." Weaver says.

"Of course." Phil says before ending the call.


A few minutes after they left the Quinjet Melinda and Clint are crouched down in the bushes outside the Hydra safe house while Natasha is scouting the area.

"So you do realise that we're going to be in deep shit when we get back, right?" Clint asks Melinda in a whisper.

"Me, not you guys." Melinda signs back as Clint probably wouldn't be able to hear her if she whispers.

"No way Mel, you're not facing the Council alone. We're in this together." Clint signs back, deciding that it's safer than whispering.

"Thank you." Melinda signs back and they wait in silence for Natasha to get back, "What did you find?" Melinda asks Natasha in a whisper once she arrives a few minutes later.

"Three entrances." Natasha signs, "Front, back, side. At least four people inside."

"Okay." Melinda says with a nod, "Plan?"

"Clint takes the front." Natasha signs, "I'll talk the back. You take the side."

"Sounds good." Melinda signs, "Two minutes to get into position." She signs.

"Let's move." Clint signs back and the three friends sneak into position.

Two minutes after they left the bushes, in perfect unison Melinda, Clint and Natasha break down the front, back and rear door. All three of them manages to get shots off, incapacitating the six people inside the main room before anyone realises what has happened.

Once the people in the main room have been taken care of Melinda, Clint and Natasha split up so that they can search the rest of the safe house.

"Well, that was rather boring." Clint comments when he walks back into the main room, having found the rest of the house empty.

"And disappointing." Melinda admits as she walks back into the room and fires her ICER at the people who are just moaning in pain on the ground.

"On the plus side, plenty of Intel." Natasha says looking at the computers and papers spread around the room.

"Let's hope that at least some of it is usable." Melinda comments.

"It would be nice." Clint says, "What are we going to do with them?" He asks referring to the people.

"Once we've collected everything I'll call Talbot, this is his department." Melinda says and Clint and Natasha nod.


Over an hour later Melinda touches down the Qunjet in the playground and she, Clint and Natasha walk out of the plane about a minute later, each holding a box of the Intel they found. When they walk out they find Phil, Maria, Bobbi, Skye and Hunter waiting.

"My office, now." Phil tells Natasha, Clint and Melinda.

"Here's the intel we got. Anything that could be tracked has been disabled and Nat checked to make sure nothing was booby-trapped." Melinda explains as she, Clint and Natasha pass their boxes to Skye and Hunter before following Phil, Maria and Bobbi.

"Who do they get to have the fun and leave us with the paperwork?" Hunter asks Skye.

"That, is a very good question." Skye tells Hunter, "Guess we better get started." She says with a sigh.


A couple of minutes after they left the hanger Phil, Maria, Bobbi, Natasha, Clint and Melinda arrive at Phil's office, even though Phil is putting an disapproving and annoyed look on his face, Clint, Melinda, Natasha and Maria know him well enough to know that he isn't as annoyed as he seems to be. As soon as the six agents walk into Phil's office Phil connects the video call that is on standby.

"Agent May, Agent Barton, Agent Romanoff." Weaver greats.

"Ma'am." Melinda, Clint and Natasha respond.

"Agent May, was the council decision not clear to you?" Weaver asks.

"No, it was perfectly clear. " Melinda answers.

"So then why did you elect to ignore it?" Dickerson asks.

"Because I thought that going was the right decision." Melinda says.

"I see, and when former Director Fury gave you an order did you ignore them at whim as well?" Weaver asks.

"You've clearly haven't read our file." Clint mutters, though everyone hears.

"Do you have something to say Agent Barton?" Weaver asks.

"No, it's just that you've clearly never read our files if you're asking that question." Clint says.

"I haven't, so why don't' you enlighten me." Weaver requests.

"You know that Agents May, Coulson, Romanoff, Commander Hill and myself used to be a team. Well we didn't always follow Director Fury's orders, in fact for Agents May, Romanoff and myself it was quiet often that we would bend them, so to speak." Clint explains.

"I see." Weaver says, "And I take this to mean that you and Agent Romanoff have returned to S.H.I.E.L.D." Weaver says.

"No." Natasha and Clint say together.

"Not officially, we're…." Natasha says trying to find the right word to describe what they are.

"Independent contractors." Clint supplies.

"Right. We're independent contractors." Natasha says, "We will help out when needed but we are not S.H.I.E.L.D agents, not right now." She says, causing Phil and Melinda to exchange looks as maybe there is hope for them, "Agent May contracted us requesting help, help that we were more than willing to provide." Natasha says.

"And where you aware that Agent May didn't have permission to act in regards to the Hydra safe house?" Weaver asks curious.

"That did become clear to us, yes." Clint says.

"And you still decided to help anyway?" Weaver asks, it being clear that she doesn't approve.

"Yes." Clint says.

"Agent Barton and I have known Agent May a long time, we have worked with her a long time, and we know her thought process in regards to tactical decisions and we know that she has good reasons for making them." Natasha says, and Melinda definitely feels hope as that is Natasha almost admitting that she trusts her again.

"I see." Weaver says, "Agent May, report on the safe house."

"Six Hydra agents with various wounds are currently in General Talbot's custody. We collected three boxes of Intel from the safe house and Agents Skye and Hunter are currently going through them." Melinda explains.

"I see, even though I can't deny that you got results you still went against this council's recommendation and action needs to be taken because of that." Weaver says.

"In this situation I feel that Agent May should just be given a warning." Maria says, stepping in, "Like you said you can't deny the results that Agents May, Barton and Romanoff achieved." She says.

"I second that recommendation." Bobbi says.

"Agent Dickerson?" Weaver ask.

"Agent May shouldn't be reward for her disobedience, but her results are impressive. Official warning has my vote." Dickerson says.

"I see Agent May, you have received an official warning." Weaver says.

"Yes Ma'am." Melinda says.

"Submit your reports in twenty four hours." Weaver instructs

"Yes Ma'am." Melinda, Clint and Natasha says before Weaver cuts the call.

"I'll go help Hunter and Skye with the intel." Bobbi says before leaving.

"So, how long after I left did you realise what was going on?" Melinda asks Phil.

"About ten seconds." Phil says, "That was reckless, Melinda."

"Then why didn't you stop me?" Melinda asks.

"Because I agreed with what you were doing, but that doesn't mean I didn't worry." He tells her, "You know I think I have new appreciation for what Fury put up with for so many years." He says.

"Please, this is nothing compared to what we used to do." Clint says.

"That is true." Phil admits, "You're not going to make things as hard on me as you made on Fury are you?" He asks Melinda curious.

"I honestly can't say I won't." Melinda says with a smirk which causes Natasha, Clint and Maria to smirk.

"So I…" Maria starts to say before being cut off by her phone ringing, "Hill. What? How? Why am I even asking that? Stay where you are. I'll be right there." Maria says before hanging up.

"Problem?" Natasha asks curious.

"Tony Stark is outside."

Chapter Text

Chapter 16

Disclaimer: I don' own anything.

AN1 IMPORTANT PLEASE READ PLEASE: So this wasn't going to be the end. I had actually wrote a different version of this chapter and a couple more when I decided to go in a different direction, so there could be a sequel in the future.


"What, why is he here?" Clint asks confused.

"My hand." Phil says a look of complete joy appearing on his face, "He's finished it." Phil says before hurrying out of the room.

After exchanging looks Clint, Natasha, Melinda and Maria hurry after him.


"So how much trouble is May in?" Skye asks Bobbi curious, a couple of minutes after she returned from upstairs.

"Official warning." Bobbi explains.

"That's not bad." Hunter says with a shrug.

"Nah, it's not." Skye confirms, "Coulson, what's up?" Skye asks as she sees Coulson run down the stairs.

"My hand, I think it's here." Phil says.

"Um, Boss?' Hunter asks confused.

"Stark is here. Probably with Phil's new prosthetic." Melinda explains.

"Ah, right." Hunter says, as that makes sense, as Melinda, Phil, Clint, Natasha and Maria all leave the room.

"I kind of want to see this." Skye comments.

"Same." Bobbi says and she and Skye both get up and follow the others.

"Wait for me." Hunter says getting up and following them.


"No crashing into the middle of the base, that's not like you Stark." Natasha says when she, Phil, Melinda, Clint, Maria, Skye, Bobbi and Hunter reach the entrance into The Playground and find Tony leaning against his car.

"This is a S.H.I.E.L.D base, I didn't really feel like finding out what you do to unannounced visitors without my suit." He explains.

"You would have been fine." Phil tells him.

"I'll remember that." Tony says, "I have your hand, just like I promised, sorry it took so long." He tells Phil.

"It's fine." Phil assures him, "Pull your car in and we'll head inside."

"Sure." Tony says.

"Just follow us and we'll show you to the hanger." Maria tells him and Tony nods.


A few minutes later Tony's car is parked In the hanger and Phil, Clint, Natasha, Bobbi, Hunter, Maria, Skye, and Melinda, along with Fitz, Simmons and Mack who came out to see what all the commotion was are in the common are.

"It took longer than I was expecting because I wanted to make everything perfect." Tony says as he places a case on the table, "It should be perfect but I can easily make adjustments if you want." Tony says opening the case to reveal what is clearly an arm made of some kind of synthetic material but which also looks very realistic. As soon as Tony opens the lid Phil takes a step forward to have a better look and he is amazed by it.

"I… thank you." Phil tells Agent.

"You're welcome, Director Agent, why don't you see how it fits." He suggests.

"Yeah, I'll do that." Phil says taking off his jacket which Melinda walks over and helps him with. Once his jacket is off Phil undoes the button and rolls up his sleeve with the prosthetic arm, which he has a little bit of an issue trying to get off, so he looks to Melinda for help and she helps him.

"You're going to feel pain as the arm attaches, it will only be for a few seconds." Tony explains, "It's so that the arm can completely attach to you, okay?" Tony asks.

"Okay."

"Good." Tony says, "Sit down here." Tony instructs referring to the chair and Phil walks over and sits down. Once Phil is sitting down Tony picks up the hand and attaches it to the stump on the end of Phil's arm. The second he does Phil let's out a scream of pain which only lasts a few seconds.

"Phil, how does that feel?" Melinda asks once he stops screaming.

"Okay." Phil says as he makes the fingers move, "Did you see that?" He asks looking at Melinda, Clint, Maria and Natasha.

"We sure did. It's great." Maria tells him with a smile.

"Yeah, it is. Congrats DC." Skye says happily.

"Now, to prove that I deliver on promises." Tony says, "I'm going to take of your tie now." He says before doing just that, "I'll hold a mirror and you're going to be to tie it, just like you could before." He says placing the tie in both Phil's hands.

"Are you sure about that?" Natasha asks, not being able to help but worry about Phil putting a hand that he hasn't really had experience with using that close to his throat.

"Positive." Tony says grabbing a mirror out of the case where the hand was and holding it in front of Phil.

As Tony holds up the mirror he looks hesitantly at the tie, not sure if he wants to try as until he does try it he can hold out hope that he may just be able to tie his tie in the future.

"Just give it a try Phil, you won't know until you do." Melinda says supportively.

"Yeah, Phil, give it ago." Maria says, also looking supportively.

"Okay." Phil says and he puts the tie around his neck. For a little while Phil just stares at his refection before turning and looking at his four closes friends, as he sees them all looking supportive, even though he knows that they are hesitantly, which gives him the courage he needs to try; so taking a deep breath Phil starts to do the familiar routine of tying a tie.

"I did it!" Phil says excitedly.

"Yeah, you did." Tony tells him then before he can react Phil has jumped up and is hugging him.

"Thank you Tony, thank you." Phil says, it being clear that he is incredibly grateful.

"You're welcome…..Phil." Tony says, awkwardly returning the hug.

"If I remember correctly there is something else that you wanted to try and do." Natasha tells Phil.

"Are you reminding me of that because you know it's something I wanted to be able to do or because you're hungry?" Phil asks curious.

"Both, but I know how important it is to you." Natasha tells him, telling the complete truth.

"It is." Phil confirms, "Stark, would you like to stay for dinner?" He asks Tony curious, feeling like it is the least he could do.

"Sure."

"Good, I'll get started cooking." Phil says and he heads to the kitchen.

"Leave him, Skye." Maria says when the young woman goes to follow Coulson.

"But…." She starts to say but Melinda cuts him off.

"He needs to try and do this for himself. If he needs help he'll ask." Melinda explains as she knows that now Phil can tie a tie he is going to want to try and cook for himself and it won't mean the same thing to him if someone is helping.

"Okay." Skye says with a sigh clearly not approving of the idea.


Over an hour later everyone at the playground, including Natasha, Clint, Maria and Tony are sitting around the table which is covered in the food that Phil managed to make without help.

"Everything looks great, Phil." Clint says.

"Thank you." Phil says standing up and picking up his glass with his new robotic hand, "For the last few years things haven't exactly been easy, for any of us, but somehow, through all that we managed to get through it all. We've lost people, found people for the first time and again, and have faced whatever has been thrown our way, to us." Phil says.

"To us." Everyone repeats.

"Dig in." Phil says and that's what everyone does.


A few hours later, after Clint, Maria, Natasha and Tony have all headed back to New York, Melinda and Phil are up in Phil's office while the 'kids' are downstairs in the common area continuing their marathon.

"You can't believe it, can you?" Melinda asks as in the time that they have been up in Phil's office Phil has been staring at his hand.

"I thought that I would never have this kind of movement again." Phil admits, "It's amazing." He says with a look of wonder clear on his face.

"I'm happy for you Phil." Melinda tells him with a smile.

"It even feels more like it's mine." Phil admits, "Does that make sense? I mean I know its metal and it's not real, but it feels more like it is." He says, rather fast so Melinda can't even answer his questions when he asks them.

"It does make sense Phil." Melinda says getting up and walking over to where Phil keeps his scotch, "And it's okay, it's good." Melinda says as she grabs two glasses and the scotch.

"It is, isn't it?" Phil asks as Melinda walks back over and puts the glasses on the desk.

"Yeah, it is." Melinda says scotch into both of the glasses, "To your new hand." Melinda says as she hands Phil the glass.

"To my new hand." Phil repeats as Melinda sits back down.

For a few minutes Melinda and Phil are both silent as they drink, neither of them feel the need to say something as the silence is quiet comfortable.

"What's going on with you, Melinda?" Phil asks, finally drawing the courage to ask.

"What do you mean?" Melinda asks, acting like she has no idea what he is talking about.

"Something happened, after we got back, when Andrew was here." Phil says, "You've been distant since then and Nat's been, well protective." Phil says, "Are you alright?" Phil asks curious.

"I'm fine." Melinda lies.

"You don't have to talk about it if you don't want to, but don't lie to me Melinda, please." Phil requests.

"Andrew and Skye found out something neither of them know. Something that no one except for Natasha knew; something I never intended to tell Andrew." Melinda explains.

"Oh." Phil says surprised as he wasn't expecting that, "How did they find out?" he asks curious.

"Nat told Skye because she wanted her to understand something, and Andrew overheard." Melinda explains.

"When did this happen?" Phil asks confused.

"When we were up in your office when we got back." Melinda explains.

"Oh. Do you want to talk it?" He asks curious, not expecting an answer.

"No, I want to drink with my best friend and celebrate his good news." Melinda tells Phil.

"I think we can do that." Phil says as he and Melinda exchange smiles.


After having more than a few drinks together both Phil and Melinda headed to their respective bunks and when she wakes up in the morning for the first time Melinda regrets how early she gets up to train with Skye and Bobbi.

"Morning May." Bobbi says when she walks into the gym being the only one there as Skye hasn't arrived yet.

"Bobbi." Melinda greats as she walks over to the mats and starts to stretch.

"Are you alright?" Bobbi asks curious as he walks over to the mats as well. In response Melinda just gives her a look, "You don't want to talk about it, got it" She realises, but as she does Bobbi decides to bring up something that she's been thinking about for a while, "You know for the last couple of months I've spent a lot of time observing and I've realised a couple of things." Bobbi says, trying to be more open than she has ever been before, "I've realised that you take care of everyone here, you look out for us all, but who takes care of you?" Bobbi asks curious.

"I don't need anyone to take care of me." Melinda says as she bends down and continues to stretch.

"Everyone needs someone to take care of them sometimes, even people like us." Bobbi says, "I know we're not close and we've had our issues, but if you ever need anything; if you ever want to talk or sit in silence, or drink, or anything, I'm here." Bobbi offers as one thing that has become clear to her while she was hurt is just how much May does for everyone around the base and realising that she wants to try and help the older woman out, if she'll let her.

"Thank you for the offer, but there's no need, I'm fine." Melinda lies, honestly not sure what to make of Bobbi's offer.

"Wow, you're good, I almost believed that." Bobbi says with a smile, "I get it, you don't want to talk; but I want you to know that the offers always there if you change your mind, my doors always open, so to speak." Bobbi tells Melinda.

"Thank you." Melinda says, actually looking at Bobbi to show her that the offer means something to her as even though she isn't sure what to make of the offer Melinda knows that Bobbi is serious about it and that means something to her.

"You're welcome." Bobbi says as Skye walks in.

"You're late." Melinda tells Skye as she walks in.

"I know I slept in." Skye says in her defence, though it is clear to both Melinda and Bobbi that she is lying.

"Okay. Stretch then we'll get started." Melinda instructs standing up and walking over to the other side of the gym so that she can get stuff set up.

"Sure." Skye says walking over to the mats.

"What did you do?" Bobbi asks Skye in a whisper once she is sure that May isn't close enough to hear.

"You'll see." Skye says with a smirk, knowing better than to try and lie to Bobbi.


"Okay, time." Melinda says an hour later, "That was good." She says to Skye, "You've improved a lot."

"Well I do have a great teacher." Skye says with a smile.

"Go get cleaned up, both of you." Melinda instructs, "I'll see you at breakfast." She says.

"See you then." Skye says and she leaves the gym, Bobbi not far behind her.

"Get changed as quickly as possible and get to the common area." Skye tells Bobbi in a whisper as they walk out of the gym.

"Why?"

"Because there is a surprise for May and Coulson there." Skye explains.

"Okay then." Bobbi says wondering what it could be.


"Um May." Phil's voice says twenty minutes later when Melinda is still cleaning up the gym.

"Phil, what's going on?"

"We have visitors." Phil says before turning around and walking away, being confused Melinda puts down what she is doing and jogs to catch up.

"What do you mean we have visitors?" Melinda asks when she catches up to him.

"You'll see." Phil responds and they walk the rest of the way to the common area in silence. When Melinda and Phil arrive at the common area a few minutes later Melinda is surprised to find Clint, Natasha and Maria standing with Skye, Bobbi, Hunter, Mack, Fitz and Simmons.

"Nat, Clint, Maria. What are you doing here?" Melinda asks, surprised to see them.

"That's a good question. They wouldn't tell me until you were here." Phil admits.

"I was wrong a year ago." Maria says taking a step forward, "when I said it was over, that we weren't brining the band together, I was wrong, because that's just what we've done. It's what we should have done a long time ago and what we were always meant to do."

"We do trust you." Natasha says stepping forward, "Yesterday reminded us of that; and we're sorry for saying we don't." she says, surprising Melinda and Phil as it isn't often that Natasha apologises.

"We're Avengers and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, it's time we act like it." Clint says, also stepping forward.

"What are you saying?" Phil asks, not letting himself get his hopes up.

"We're saying that if the offers are still there we accept the jobs." Natasha tells them.

"Of course the jobs are still there, they're yours." Melinda says answering for both of them.

"Good." Clint says as Phil and Melinda take a step forward. Once the five friends are close enough they surprise the younger agents, and Mack, by undertaking a group hug.

For a few minutes Natasha, Clint, Melinda, Maria and Phil stand together and hug and for the first time in almost three years they finally feel like them again.

"We also brought breakfast." Maria says once they break apart.

"Good, I'm starved." Phil says and the way over to the table where all eleven of them sit down.

As they sit and eat together Phil looks around the table and as he sees how happy everyone is he realises that he's finally gotten the thing he's wanted the most since he was brought back to life, he's gotten his family back; it's just a big bigger than he remembers it being.

THE END (For Now)