She finds him in Mexico. A small town on the gulf coast, a slightly seedy looking bar, a storm brewing outside. And there he is, sitting at a table along the wall. He’s facing the entrance but his head is down, staring into his glass.
She missed him in Vancouver. A sudden attack of paranoia kept her from wanting to fly internationally, when it might lead Shield to Ward, and she didn’t have the time to build up a strong enough false identity to go under their radar. So she drove her van across the country, once again, and got there too late. She spent her time trying to track him while waiting for the next video feed link to arrive. It became almost like a game, a kind of cat and mouse, as she followed his trail of clues. Eventually his next message arrived, another link, another stream of him waiting for her on a crowded street, in Mexico City this time. By the time she arrived there, she had only missed him by a day or two and his trail was easier to follow this time. And now she is here; she has found him.
It’s been over eight months since she saw him last, that night at the castle, and his hair is looking shorter, his beard thicker. She’s seen all that in the street cam feeds, but somehow seeing him here in person, the ache to touch him only grows stronger. A clap of thunder muffles her entrance, the late afternoon sky looking dark and ominous as the wind rattles against the windows. Inside the bar is dimly lit, the bartender flirting with the waitress leaning against the bar, as two guys sitting at one of the tables try to catch her attention. A few other guys stand around the pool table in the back. They look her over but the ‘don’t even think about it’ vibe she’s been working on projecting must be working because they all turn back to their game quickly.
Ward still hasn’t glanced up, so she makes her way to the bar, putting on her best clueless American tourist as she asks the bartender in horribly accented Spanish, “Donde esta la playa?”
The bartender looks at her blankly, clearly thinking she is some kind of moron for asking about the beach while a monsoon swells outside. It does the trick though, Ward’s head snaps in her direction at the sound of her voice, his eyes focusing on her with laser sharp intensity. She feels almost frozen in place as she meets his gaze, suddenly shy and uncertain in the face of his carefully blank expression. And then he stands, taking a halting step toward her, a disbelieving smile slowly working its way across his cheeks, until his grin is almost blinding.
“Skye.” It’s barely a murmur, there’s no way she actually heard him across the room with the rain that has suddenly begun to hammer against the tin roof of the bar. But it sends a shiver across her skin anyway.
“Hey, stranger,” she replies as she slowly walks across the room to him, grinning like an idiot now, and the bartender rolls his eyes and goes back to flirting with the waitress.
It’s the way he says it, the affection mixed with wonder in his tone. That’s what she’ll blame it on later. Or the way he is looking at her again, like she is light after he has travelled through the darkness for so long. (Or the fact that now that she is here, standing before him, she can’t figure out why it took her so long to get here. Being in the same room as him again feels like coming home, like she can breathe again and she never even realized she was holding her breath.)
She knows they’re making a scene, that people are staring, and that this is cheesy as hell. But she also knows he’ll catch her, so she jumps. Her arms fling around his neck and her legs wrap around his waist, his arms coming around her lower back to hold her securely as he looks at her in awe.
“You came,” he repeats, his voice still sounding amazed and a little surprised.
“Of course I came,” she says, leaning her forehead against his. “It just took me awhile to find you.”
He laughs, the sound short and surprised, before his mouth is pressed against hers. Her legs slide down until her feet are back on the floor, and she leans into the kiss, pouring the last eight months of love and longing into it. His hands slide into her hair, it’s longer again now, not as long as when they first met, but hanging well below her shoulders. It’s not until she moans into his mouth, her hand sliding between his shirt and his jeans to feel a sliver of skin, that they seem to remember they’re still in public.
Pulling away from him only far enough to glance around the bar, she sees they’ve caught the attention of the guys who clearly got sick of waiting for the waitress, as well as a couple of the guys by the pool table.
“Have you got a place to stay here?” she asks, leaning forward again to kiss him quickly, unable to keep from touching him now that she is finally able to again.
He just nods, already tugging her back to him to deepen the kiss, his tongue sliding against hers and making them both groan, before he throws a few bills on the table and grabs her hand, pulling her toward the door.
Outside, the rain is coming down in sheets, the few people still on the street running madly for cover. But the two of them just lean into each other, uncaring of the rain pounding against their skin, lost in the joy of being able to touch each other, taste each other, again. A loud crack of thunder overhead finally drags them back to the rest of the world. Ward’s hands come up to her face, brushing aside the soaked strands of her hair that have stuck to her skin. With his hands gripping her cheeks, she grins, pulling him back to her for one more kiss before she leans away, laughing.
“We better get out of this before we end up naked on the street,” she says, her words half lost in the squall around them. But he nods, grinning at her as he grabs her hand again. And then they’re running through the streets, grinning and laughing like children as they dash through the rain, tightly tethered by their grip on each other’s hand.
Finally they reach Ward’s hotel, diving through the doorway just as another crack of thunder booms across the sky. Still holding so tight to her hand, Ward pulls her up the stairs, and they’re laughing as their rain-soaked clothing sticks stubbornly to their skin, making limbs unwieldy as they stumble against the walls, wet hair still dripping droplets down their faces so close. When they reach the door to his room, Ward pushes her against it, his body hard against hers as he kisses her roughly, his hands so gentle on her skin in contrast. Eventually he pulls back, both of them breathing heavily, and he digs the key out of his pocket and opens the door. She is about to step inside when Ward suddenly sweeps her off her feet, swinging her over his shoulder as she shrieks with laughter.
He carries her through the small room, and into the even smaller bathroom before depositing her back on her feet. Ward flicks the light on before leaning into the shower stall to turn on the water and then wrestles his wet shirt over his head. She is so lost in the sight of his bare torso she doesn’t even think to take her own clothes off, until he approaches her with a predatory glint in his eye. Grinning, she grabs the hem of her tank top, pulling it over her head before reaching back for the clasp of her bra. And once again, Ward’s fascination with her breasts does not disappoint. She laughs as he sinks down to press his mouth against her chest, the sound turning into a breathy moan as he teeth scrape against her nipple. Smirking up at her, he moves on to do the same to the other breast.
Eventually though, the chattering of her teeth reminds him what they’re in here for, and he leans down to take off her boots before helping her out of her sodden jeans. At the sight of her naked before him, Ward hurriedly unlaces his boots and kicks them off, before struggling to drag his own soaked jeans off while she snickers. He mock glares at her as he finally kicks the sopping denim off his feet, before crowding her against the basin, his mouth hot on hers again as she moans against him. Her nipples brush against his bare chest and his half hard cock is resting against her stomach, and she can feel the wetness between her thighs growing. Breaking the kiss, Ward pulls her into the shower, “Let’s get you warm again.”
“I can think of a few other ways we could do that,” she smirks at him, turning into a real grin as he chuckles against her mouth.
He’s right though, the hot water on her skin feels amazing, and Ward’s soap-slick hands sliding all over her body are even better. Tilting her head back under the spray of water, Ward’s mouth slides against her exposed throat, sucking gently against the curve of her shoulder. Slowly he makes his way lower, exploring her breasts with his teeth and tongue once again, sinking to his knees before her. His beard tickles as it scrapes across her skin, but followed by the trail of fire his mouth leaves behind she barely notices it.
Turning the two of them so the spray of water is hitting his back, with her back pressed against the opposite wall, Ward ducks his head down between her thighs to blow softly against her curls, his lips brushing gently against her clit. Gasping, her hands clutching his hair, she spreads her legs a little wider to give him better access. Holding her left leg steady with one arm, Ward hooks her right leg over his shoulder, turning his head and kissing the crease of her knee before running his tongue along her inner thigh until he reaches the apex, groaning against her as the taste of her hits his tongue. Arching her body against his mouth, she moans as he flicks his tongue against her clit, before sliding down to lick inside her. His tongue is somehow hard and soft, reaching further inside her than she imagined a tongue could, and she is gasping as her grip in his hair grows stronger and she tries to steady herself. Her moans and gasps seem to spur him on, his tongue moving even faster inside her as his thumb slides up to press against her clit. She can feel her orgasm building, all those months alone and thinking about him, and yet somehow the real thing is still so much better than any fantasy she ever had. He groans against her again, and the vibrations of the sound are enough to set her off, clutching his hair as she rides his face, her ecstasy washing over her.
Her grip finally loosens as she comes down, her body slumped against the wall, his steady grasp on her legs the only thing holding her upright. When she finally opens her eyes, he is looking up at her with such a soft look of wonder in his eyes again that she feels herself melting all over again. She wonders how on earth she managed to stay away from this for so long.
Eventually she realizes that the water pounding against his back has turned icy, and she reaches over to turn off the tap while admonishing him for not saying anything. He just shrugs, grinning at her as he stands and pulls her back into his arms to kiss her again before they step out of the shower stall.
Reaching for one of the towels hanging over the rack, Ward bundles her up in it, rubbing her arms dry before grabbing his own towel and roughly drying himself off. She wraps the towel around her chest, walking over to the basin to wring her hair out between her fingers. In the mirror she can see Ward watching her as he slings his towel loosely around his hips and walks towards her.
Wrapping his arms around her from behind, he leans down to kiss her shoulder before finally speaking. “When I found out you left Shield, I tracked you down.”
“I figured you would,” she replies, running her fingertips across the arm wrapped around her stomach. “I was kind of surprised you didn’t just show up at my door.”
He laughs, his arms tightening around her, “I almost did. I found out where you were living, in Florida, and I went to find you.”
“Really? You came? So what happened?” she asks in surprise, raising her gaze to meet his in the mirror.
“I saw you. You were working at that animal shelter, and you looked so happy. And I don’t think I’d seen you that happy since those early days on the bus, before…” He trails off and she squeezes his hand reassuringly. “I didn’t want to take that away from you, if that was what you wanted, not...this. I wanted it to be your choice if you saw me. So I left, and I started leaving you those links.”
“I’m glad you did,” she admits. “I would have been so happy to see you then, but I needed that time on my own. To figure things out, to decide what I want.”
“And did you?” he asks, his voice suddenly sounding hesitant.
Turning in his arms, she reaches her hands up to cup his face in her hands as she looks into his eyes.
“Yes,” she answers simply. “I want you.”
Ward releases a shaky breath, his forehead coming down to rest against hers. “What about Shield? What about the team? They’re your family. Can you really just leave them behind?”
Breathing deeply, trying to find the words to describe all of her conflicted feelings about the people she left behind, she eventually shrugs. “I don’t really know if any of us were the same people anymore. I could have stayed there forever, but they still wouldn’t have been the people I remembered. And I’m not the person they knew either.”
His eyes searching hers, Ward finally nods, “So... You’re really here.”
“I’m really here,” she agrees, feeling the weight of it settle into her bones. And it feels so right.
Grinning widely at her, he leans in to kiss her again, his hands slide down her hips to grip her thighs as he hoists her up. Her legs wrap around his waist automatically, even as she gasps into his mouth in surprise at the action. Smirking against her lips, he carries her from the bathroom and back into the bedroom.
When they reach the bed, Ward lays her down so gently, lowering his body to hover over hers almost hesitantly. The light from the open bathroom door casts shadows across his face, and somehow he looks younger in this moment than she has ever known him. There is a kind of vulnerability etched in the way he looks at her, and she knows she’s seen it so many times before, but this time she finally feels open to it. Everything he is offering her, she wants to take. She wants a life with him, a future she can’t even truly begin to imagine, just as long as he is by her side. The thought of spending the rest of her life with someone who looks at her with that much awe and unconditional faith in his eyes makes her feel like something cracked has shifted inside her. She can feel the warmth and happiness inside her like it’s something physical, bubbling to the surface in a grin she can’t contain. Somehow, in spite of everything, in spite of all that they have done to each other and themselves, it seems like the happy ending she gave up on believing in long ago is actually within her grasp.
He is still staring down at her, mapping her features with his eyes, and she can see the way her smile warms his face. The tension eases, his lips twitching into a small smile of his own, a genuine smile still looking so awkward and unfamiliar on his face. But the joy that illuminates his features calls to her all the same. Bracing her weight against her elbows she leans up to press her lips against his. She runs her tongue along the seam of his lips, seeking entrance to his mouth and he obliges, parting his lips under hers. The first brush of his tongue against hers sends a shiver through her, all of her senses alive at the electricity that sparks between them. His hand slips between their bodies, his other arm still holding his body above hers, and he unwraps the towel from her body, sliding his hand against her side. She squirms at the feather light touch of his fingers against her skin, goosebumps trailing his touch. And then his hand cups the curve of her breast, his palm so warm against her. Changing the angle of his head, he deepens the kiss, his mouth demanding and she responds eagerly. The taste of him is heady, like the finest drug she’s ever known, like his kiss sets her free.
His touches are so soft and unhurried, but she can feel her patience slipping as his fingers continue ghosting over her nipple, the sensitive flesh hardening until it aches. The dampness of her arousal is slick on her thighs, and she needs so much more, she needs all of him. Running her hand along his back, she unhooks his towel from around his waist, tossing it to the floor as she pulls him hard against her. He settles between her thighs, his hard length rubbing against her clit as they both moan, and her knees come up as she wraps her legs around him and drags him closer with her heels digging into the curve of his ass. He shudders as her wetness slides against him, the arm he is using to brace his weight shaking as he holds himself over her. His mouth still hovers over hers, their lips barely brushing but their breath mingling as she begins to gasp needily at the steady pressure of him thrusting so slightly against her. Its torturous, just enough to sharpen the ache of wanting inside her, without being anywhere near enough to satisfy her.
In the half dark room, with the storm raging around them, she feels as though her entire world has been shrunk down to the teasing touches he is driving her mad with, and the feel of his breath on her lips. It’s like she has known nothing before this haze of desire, like nothing will exist beyond this. And this is what he has always done to her, every moment with him has always felt like they existed in their own universe at the edge of time. Like the two of them create something entirely new just for them. But this time, at last, there are no secrets waiting to be discovered, no betrayals hiding in the shadows. For the first time they really have a chance to make this something real. She feels so fragile as she thinks it, some part of her waiting to wake up and discover this was just a bittersweet dream.
But then he kisses her again, his mouth coaxing and gentle, and she feels herself falling even deeper. If this is the dream, then she is never leaving it. Her hands slide up to grip his shoulders, pulling him down until his chest is lying against hers. The feel of his hard body against hers, his solid weight, is grounding. He groans, the sound deep and guttural, as she drags her nails through the hair at the nape of his neck. His hips are still thrusting gently against her, the momentum picking up as she kisses him again, licking into his mouth. She cants her hips, trying to get a better angle on the pressure against her clit, and then the slickness of her arousal has the head of his cock sliding just a little inside her. They both freeze for a moment, the muscles in his back rigid under her hand, before he slowly sinks against her. The slide of him, the stretching fullness of him inside her, has her groaning into his mouth. He stills when he bottoms out, giving them both a moment to adjust. They are both breathing hard already, and she can feel her tenuous grip on control slipping as soon as he begins to move again.
He pulls almost all of the way out of her before sinking back in so slow, leaving her gasping in a mixture of frustration and satisfaction, the head of his cock brushing against every nerve inside her causing the pressure to slowly build in her veins again. Ward picks up the pace, still not pounding into her the way her body is demanding, but fast enough to have her fingers clenching against him as her head falls back against the pillow. Her mouth is open, her breathing ragged in between her steadily growing louder moans, and Ward’s breath is harsh against her jaw. She can feel the tension coiled in his body, the way he’s trying to hold himself back, and she digs her heels harder into his ass, dragging him against her harder. He slams into her roughly, growling against her skin at the sensation, and she smirks at him breathlessly before doing it again. This time it’s her breath catching, the half strangled moan getting stuck in her throat as he rams into her, his cock sliding hard against her g-spot. His thrusts get harder, her legs moving up to wrap around his waist as she angles herself up to meet his thrusts with her own. And then suddenly he is falling back to rest against his heels, pulling her with him so she ends up straddling his hips as he kneels in the center of the bed.
The change in position has him hitting her g-spot with every move thrust, and she can’t help her shuddering groan as he grips her ass hard. She rolls her hips, her breathing harsh as she works herself against him. The ragged moans that escape him are doing absolutely nothing for her grip on any kind of control she might be aiming for, her hips jerking roughly against him. He takes over, his fingers rough on her skin as he slams her hips down against his. Her head falls down to rest against his shoulder as she begins to feel her orgasm build, happy to let him take charge as she lets herself be carried away in the sensations as they wash over her.
The warm, wet scrape of his teeth against her throat; the helpless sounds he doesn’t even seem to be aware he’s making; the harsh grip of his fingers as they dig into the soft skin of the curve of her hips. All of it adds to the haze in her mind, her blood feeling heavy as her pulse pounds through her veins. She can feel herself climbing higher and higher, the heat suffusing her as her pleasure sparks through her. The sounds coming from her throat sound so foreign even to her, as she begins to break. Her spine arches, her head falling back as his mouth attacks her exposed throat, and she cries out with a hoarse shout just as a sudden crack of thunder rolls overhead and the room turns dark.
It takes her a long moment to return to her senses, draped limply against Ward’s body as he gently eases her through the aftershocks of her orgasm. Touch is the first sense that returns to her, his fingers softly tracing her spine. Then she can taste the salty dark tang of his sweat slick skin where her mouth rests, her teeth lightly scraping against his shoulder bone. Eventually she becomes aware of the pitch black darkness that surrounds them. Lifting her head, she asks him (in a voice that is embarrassingly shaky), “What happened to the lights?”
He chuckles against her hair, “Well, unless you’ve developed some new powers I’m unaware of, I’m gonna have to go with the most coincidentally timed blackout in history.”
She racks her pleasure soaked brain for some kind of witty response and ends up simply sticking her tongue out at him. He laughs again as a flash of lightning illuminates the room, and leans forward to kiss her.
Gently laying her back against the pillows, he begins to move inside her once again, his thrusts shallow and light but steadily growing harder as she feels the tension coil in his muscles once again. She feels completely sated and boneless beneath him still, the wave of her orgasm still ebbing, but she pulls his head towards hers to kiss him again, feeling his hips stutter as her tongue brushes against his.
Still feeling completely wrecked from the force of her own orgasm, she can do little more than lazily trace her fingertips across the straining muscles of his upper back as his own begins to build. He kisses her, messy and hard, stealing her barely caught breath, as his hips jerk roughly one last time before his entire body stills above her. His groan is half smothered by their kiss, his breath ragged against her lips as he breaks the contact. There are so many things she wants to say to him, but words feel entirely beyond her right now. Instead she simply wraps her arms tightly around him, her legs cradling his hips, holding him as close as she can.
After a long moment he moves his weight off her, rolling to the side and tugging her back into his arms as he settles into the bed, still breathing hard. Wiggling around until she finds a comfortable spot, eventually being lulled to sleep by the steady thump of his heartbeat beneath her ear.
She wakes again a few hours later. Outside the storm still rages on, and she watches as the rain lashes the window as it comes down almost sideways. The sound of the rain beating against the roof and the wall, drowning out any other sounds from outside, makes the room feel even more like a cocoon, like the two of them are somehow separate from the rest of the world. They could be the only people left on earth and she wouldn’t even know, wouldn’t even care right now.
Snuggling back closer into Ward’s embrace, she still can’t quite believe that she’s here. That she found him, finally. That she made her choice. A part of her keeps waiting to feel worried, to second-guess her decision, for the other shoe to drop. But lying here, wrapped so securely in the warmth of his arms, all she feels is peace. This feels like the most right thing she has ever chose. For the first time in so long, she feels like she is exactly where she is supposed to be.
Turning in his arms she traces his features in the soft glow of the moonlight that has managed to creep through the stormclouds. Everything that brought them here, every moment of heartbreak and betrayal, it’s not like it was worth it, just to have this moment, but it feels like it was inevitable that they ended up here. That no matter what happened in the before, this was always how they were supposed to be in the end. And maybe with all of that hurt and anger in their past, the joy tastes that much sweeter because of it. Maybe the scars they bear are what will get them through whatever life has in store for them in the future. Nothing about their journey to get here was easy, and in some way she is grateful for that. It makes everything she’s feeling now feel hard earned and worth it. As she reaches her hand out to trace the sharp angles of his jaw, for the first time all her doubt disappears, replaced by a sense of complete certainty that encompasses her that this is exactly as it was supposed to be. No matter what comes next, she wants to face it with Ward at her side.
Leaning toward him, she brushes her lips against his jaw, smirking at the way he shivers in his sleep, arching his neck to give her better access. Pushing his shoulder until he rolls onto his back, she slowly works her way down his body, teeth and tongue marking her trail. When she flicks her tongue against one hardening nipple, his hips arch into her, his cock half hard against her already. Grinning, she continues to slide down, her teeth scraping against his hipbone as she passes it, before she settles more comfortably between his thighs. He groans as she takes the head of his cock into her mouth, still not quite awake but not quite asleep yet either. His hands slide across her shoulders restlessly as she begins to move, taking him as deep as she can before pulling back up.
Ward’s hands slide into her hair as she sinks back down on him again, and she can tell the exact moment that his consciousness returns, his grip tightening in her hair as his body tenses beneath her. He groans again as she hums around his length, before he grips her by the shoulders and pulls her face back up to level with his again. As soon as her mouth is close enough, his lips are on hers. His kiss is firm and eager, his tongue licking the taste of himself from her mouth, growling against her lips.
She pulls back to breathe, her chest heaving against his, and stares at him: rumpled hair and swollen lips in the dim light, so much love in his eyes that it makes her heart ache with the joy of it all.
“What?” he asks her finally, his voice still raspy with sleep.
“I love you,” she replies simply, because in that moment it is simple. This thing that has been settling in her since she found him in that bar, that has been hovering somewhere just out of reach for so many years now: she loves him. It is as simple as the air she breathes. It is such an integral part of her that it took her so long to actually see it.
His grin is radiant in the pale moonlight cast through the window, and he surges up toward her, tackling her back onto the bed as she shrieks with surprised laughter.
“I love you,” he murmurs against her lips, both of them grinning wide into the kiss. She feels like any lingering doubts that were hanging over her have been obliterated by the irrepressible joy singing through her veins. Her cheeks are starting to ache from her grin, and she feels like a total idiot, but she doesn’t care at all. It has been so long since she has felt this kind of happiness, this kind of freedom. She knows that whatever comes next for them won’t be easy, she knows that love won’t magically fix anything that comes between them, but for the first time it feels like anything is a possibility. Their future is wide open for them to take, no one else calling the shots for either of them now, just the two of them and their dreams.
Their kiss is messy and awkward, smiles too wide for it to be anything else, but it is the most perfect kiss she’s ever had, even as his teeth hit hers. There is too much happiness pouring from her to be anything else.
Her head falls back, neck arching with a gasping moan as he moves his mouth along her jaw. The delicate touch of his tongue as it trails along her throat is definitely distracting, and it’s easy to forget her earlier goal. But as he slides down her body, peppering light kisses between her breasts, she groans and reluctantly grabs his hand in her hands, “Wait, what about you?”
Smirking at her before leaning back down to nip at her side, he murmurs against her skin, “Sweetheart, this is absolutely for me.”
She laughs, and then his mouth is on her again, his tongue coaxing more moans from her as he licks and sucks and nips against her tender flesh, and all thoughts are lost in the haze of pleasure that overtakes her brain.
All thoughts but one: this is the start of the rest of her life. And she can’t wait for it.