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From Dusk Til Dawn

Chapter Text

How do I make the phone ring?
Why do I even care?
How are you all around me, when you’re not really there?
When you’re not really there?

Melinda couldn’t help but stare at her phone, wishing it would ring. Phil was on a mission with Skye, investigating Skye’s parents. He promised to call her when they were on their way back, since they wouldn’t let her come with.

She was worried about him. And it wasn’t just because of the alien writing and the GH-325. She was just worried he would get hurt. Or worse, killed. And with every passing minute that he didn’t call, her fear grew.

She knew it was ridiculous to be so concerned. The writing wasn’t really a concern anymore, and he was more than capable of taking care of himself in the field. But she couldn’t help but worry.

Phil meant everything to her. He was her best friend in the world. When she heard that he had died, it absolutely destroyed her. SHIELD gave her a few days off to grieve, and as soon as she left work, she went to his apartment and cried herself to sleep in his bed. She still had an old Communications Academy shirt that she had taken from his apartment and worn home when she left three days later.

When she found out they were bringing him back to life, she made a vow to herself that she would protect him. She couldn’t lose him again.

He meant literally everything to her. He was by far the most important thing in her life. It was like he was always around her, always in her mind, even when he was thousands of miles away. She was completely devoted to him. And even though he didn’t know it, she was in love with him.

How do I feel you on me, when you’re not on my skin?
Why do you say you want me, then tell me you’re not coming in?
Oh yeah, baby, just come on in

When Phil and Skye finally came back, Melinda was pacing in the hangar, waiting to greet them. He had called her when they were on their way back like he promised, and he had insisted they were fine. But she had to see for herself.

“Waiting up for us?” He teased as he approached her.

“I was worried about you.” She confessed.

Phil reached out to hug her, and she wrapped her arms around him, probably a little tighter than she’d intended.

“I’m glad you’re safe.” She told him. “I can’t lose you again.”

She didn’t want to let go of the hug, but she knew she had to. But she could still feel his arms around her even when they weren’t.

“How about I tell you about the mission while I walk you back to your bunk?” He suggested.

She nodded.

As they walked, Melinda started to reach for his hand, but stopped as her fingers grazed his. He stopped talking and looked at her. She didn’t meet his gaze. She was letting her guard down a little too much, even if it was Phil. But when he reached for her hand, she didn’t pull away.

When they reached her room, they stopped in the doorway.

“May, are you alright?” He asked.

“Yeah, I’m fine. You just, you scared me tonight. I was here waiting for your phone call, and it started to feel like it was taking too long, and then I started to fear the worst and,” she sighed. She was talking too much. “I can’t lose you again, Phil. You mean everything to me.”

He pulled her into his arms again.

“I’m sorry I scared you.” He told her quietly. “You mean everything to me.”

Her heart skipped a beat. She pulled away. She felt far too vulnerable. She was too close to telling him how she really felt. And she couldn’t risk ruining their friendship like that.

“You should get some rest.” She told him.

“You too.” He agreed. “Goodnight, May.”

“Goodnight, Phil.”

She half-hoped he would offer to stay the night with her. But he didn’t. He walked off toward his own room. And she went inside hers, wishing he was with her.

Cause every time I’m with you I go into a zone
And I remember all the places you wanna go
Take me all the way
Ain’t nobody gonna touch it, touch it, touch it

Melinda couldn’t help but think about Phil as she tried to sleep. She thought about the way his hand felt in hers. The way his arms wrapped around her so securely. She imagined what his hands would feel like exploring her body. She imagined what his lips would feel like against hers.

She wanted him so bad. No, she didn’t just want him. She loved him. She was completely and totally in love with him. She had been for years.

She’d often wondered if he felt the same way about her. With the way he hugged her so tightly, talked to her so sweetly, it wasn’t hard to imagine that he did.

She hadn’t meant to tell him that he meant everything to her. And she regretted saying it. Until he said it back to her. She wondered if she meant it. Maybe he had just said that to comfort her.

But she knew that was a ridiculous thought. Phil wouldn’t lie to her. And she had been a spy long enough to be able to tell if he was. He sounded sincere, and everything he did matched that sincerity.

Perhaps he still only thought of her as a best friend. Perhaps that was all he had meant. But she couldn’t help but hope that perhaps he loved her back.

Cause every time I see you, I don’t wanna behave
I’m tired of being patient, so let’s pick up the pace
Take me all the way
Ain’t nobody gonna touch it, touch it, touch it

The next day, she tried her best to avoid Phil. She didn’t want to say or do anything stupid. She had already said too much. She couldn’t risk saying something else.

Unfortunately, she couldn’t avoid him entirely. He wouldn’t let her. She knew he considered her to be his right hand man. He trusted her more than anyone. If something happened to him, he wanted her to take over. She thought that was stupid, she wasn’t at all cut out to be the director, but she wouldn’t tell him that. She’d argued with him about his plan enough.

He found her in the gym, interrupting her sparring session with Skye. She ignored him and kept on with the training, hoping he’d leave. But he didn’t. After several minutes, she gave up hoping he would.

“Coulson, can I help you?” She called to him.

“I need to talk to you.” He told her.

“Now?”

“As soon as possible.”

Melinda looked over at Skye, who was clearly exhausted. She had wanted their session to last a few more minutes, but she figured it would be alright to let her go early. Just this once.

“Skye, I’m gonna cut this a few minutes short today.” She told her. “You did good.”

“Thanks.” Skye beamed. Melinda didn’t give out compliments easily.

“You’re training is coming along nicely.” Phil told Skye, pride evident on his face. “Someday, you’re gonna be one of our best agents.”

Skye was grinning as she headed  to the locker room.

“So, what do you need to talk to me about?” Melinda asked him as they headed down the hall toward his office.

“Just the next mission.” He explained. She let him talk, nodding along and giving short responses when he asked for them. She was being intentionally distant.

She didn’t want to stay away from him. But what she wanted was to close the distance between them completely. To push him against the wall and kiss him hard. But she couldn’t do that. So she stayed as far away as possible to quell the temptation.

“May, are you alright?” He asked as they entered his office. He closed the door behind him. “Look, I’m sorry I scared you last night, I didn’t mean to-,”

“This isn’t about that.” She cut him off.

“Then what is it about?” When she didn’t respond, he stepped closer to her and grabbed her hands. “Melinda, what’s going on?”

“It’s nothing.” She shook her head, backing away from him. “Don’t worry about me.”

“I can’t not worry about you.” He argued. “I care about you a lot. I meant it last night when I said you mean everything to me.”

Melinda knew she had to say something. Should she tell him the truth? Or should she wait for some other time? On one hand, this probably wasn’t the best time to profess her love for him. But on the other had, hadn’t she waited long enough?

And what was she waiting for? For him to say it first? For some kind of proof? Whatever she was waiting for, she had been patiently waiting for it to happen for a long time. Maybe it was time to stop being patient.

“Phil, do you love me?”

How do you know I’m breathing, when I’m holding my breath?
Why don’t we face the danger, just for the night and forget?
Baby, let’s just forget

For a moment, he stood there stunned. A moment that felt like an eternity to Melinda. An eternity filled with anxiety and regret.

What had she done? Had she really just ruined their friendship because she couldn’t control her feelings for him anymore? She was pretty sure that was what had just happened, and she was ashamed of herself.

“I do love you.” He told her finally. She let out a breath she hadn’t realized she was holding. “I love you so much. I always have. Do you love me?”

“I do.” She answered quietly.

He didn’t say anything else. Instead, he pulled her into his arms and kissed her. It was a kiss full of love and passion and years of repressed feelings finally being realized.

“I love you.” She told him when she pulled away. “But we can’t do this right now.”

“Why not, Melinda?” He questioned. “Haven’t we waited long enough?”

She sighed. Of course they’d waited long enough. Actually, they’d waited far too long.

She wanted nothing more than to jump into a relationship with him. But that would be foolish and dangerous. And even though he would be more than willing to face the danger with her, she couldn’t do it right then.

“I just can’t do this right now, Phil.” She backed away from him. “It’s why I didn’t want to tell you how I felt. This isn’t the right time to start a relationship. There’s just too much going on.”

“You’re right.” He nodded. “But when will be the right time?”

“I don’t know.” She shook her head sadly. “I should go, now.”

“May,” he called after her.

She didn’t reply. Instead, she went back down to the gym. A nice long session with a punching bag would make her feel better.

Remind me why we’re taking a break
It’s obviously insane
‘Cause we both know what we want
So why don’t we fall in love?
Baby, let’s fall in love

For the next few days, Melinda tried to keep her distance. She tried to pretend nothing had happened between them. That he hadn’t kissed her. That he hadn’t  told her he loved her. But she couldn’t.

Her brain told her that it was stupid to start something with him now. This wasn’t the time to start a relationship. But her heart didn’t care. She wanted him, and she wanted him now.

She loved him and she knew he loved her. So why shouldn’t they get together? They both wanted each other. Why shouldn’t they let themselves fall in love?

Cause every time I’m with you, I go into a zone
And I remember all the places you wanna go
Take me all the way
Ain’t nobody gonna touch it, touch it, touch it

Three days after their kiss in his office, Melinda finally stopped avoiding Phil. She actually sought him out. It had taken her all day to decide whether she really should or not, but that night, she found him in his bunk.

“Phil?” She knocked on the door as she walked in. He was sitting on his bed, reading a book.

“You know, May, just walking in kind of defeats the point of knocking.” He smiled, looking up at her.

“I figured you wouldn’t be doing anything weird.”

“And what did you figure I’d be doing?”

“This.” She gestured to him.

Melinda crossed the room to him and sat down beside him on the bed.

“What brings you here?” He asked. “You’ve been avoiding me like the plague the last few days.”

“I wanted to see you.” She told him. “I’ve been thinking a lot about what happened the other day. I know right now isn’t a good time to start anything. I know it’s a bad idea. But...,” she trailed off.

“But you want to anyway.” He finished for her. “So do I.”

“Did you mean it when you said you love me?” She asked quietly.

“I did.” He took her hand.

“Good.” She replied. “Because I sure as hell meant it when I said I love you.”

Cause every time I see you I don’t wanna behave
I’m tired of being patient, so let’s pick up the pace
Take me all the way
Ain’t nobody gonna touch it, touch it, touch it

Phil pulled her into him and kissed her. Melinda wanted to hold on forever. She wanted to climb into his lap and take off his clothes. She wanted him to push her down on the bed and fuck her senseless.

But eventually, she let go. She knew she should probably leave, but she didn’t want to. So she laid her head on his shoulder and cuddled up to him. He put his arms around her and held her there.

“Phil, is it alright if I stay here tonight?” She asked quietly.

“Of course.” He planted a soft kiss in her hair.

She had wanted this for a long time. And now that she had it, she was scared of losing it. She was scared of ruining this. Of taking things too fast. Of taking things too slow. Of accidentally hurting him. Of him pushing her away.

But she pushed her thoughts away and let herself be comforted in his arms. She had never felt more loved than she did in that moment.

Ooh, ain’t nobody gonna touch it, touch it, touch it
Baby, ain’t nobody gonna touch it, touch it, touch it
Baby, ain’t nobody gonna touch it, touch it, touch it
Ooh, ain’t nobody gonna touch it

Melinda woke up the next morning, still in Phil’s arms. He was still asleep. It was only five in the morning. She didn’t want to wake him, so she slipped out of bed quietly and left.

“Trying to leave before anyone else is awake?” Hunter asked as she started to walk down the hall. “Sorry, I was just passing by. I couldn’t not comment on you leaving the director’s room.”

She didn’t turn to look at him. She just kept walking. He followed her, despite her wishing he would leave.

“I didn’t think anyone else would be up this early.” She replied. “Least of all you.”

“Couldn’t sleep.” He told her. “Want to talk about anything?”

“No.”

“Fair enough.” He stopped following her. “I’ll see myself back to my room, or maybe the kitchen, or just, you know, somewhere you’re not going.”

“I’d appreciate that.” She called over her shoulder.

She went down to the gym to do Tai Chi. Skye often joined her for this, but she didn't today. Melinda was glad. It gave her more space to think.

She wondered what Phil would think when he woke up and she wasn’t there. Would he be disappointed? Would he have expected it? Should she have at least woken him up to tell him where she was going? What if she had sent him the wrong message by just leaving?

She shook her thoughts away. She needed to focus. It wasn’t like they’d had sex or anything. Not yet anyway.

She smiled at the thought. God, she wanted him. She shook her thoughts away again. She needed to focus and clear her mind or there was no point in doing Tai Chi.

When she finished, she wanted to go back to Phil’s room. But she didn’t. She figured it was best to take things slow. She didn’t want him to think she was clingy or anything.

She rolled her eyes at her own thoughts. She was probably being stupid. He would probably love it if she went back to his room, or even if she found him in his office later.

But she didn’t. In fact, she mostly kept her distance from him that day. Or she would have if he had let her. Of course he didn’t. She should know better by now than to even try.

Remind me why we’re taking a break
It’s obviously insane
‘Cause we both know what we want
So why don’t we fall in love?
Baby, let’s be in love

“Melinda,” Phil came up to her after a mission brief, when everyone was leaving his office. “Can I talk to you for a minute?”

She stopped and turned around to face him, but she didn’t say anything. She wasn’t sure what to say.

“Why are you avoiding me?” He asked.

“I just needed some space to think.” She replied, not meeting his eyes. He sighed.

“Listen, I meant it when I said I love you.” He told her. “And I believe that you meant it when you said it to me. And I understand that there’s a lot going on right now, and starting a relationship might seem scary or overwhelming. I respect you wanting space. But can you at least communicate that with me? Because I don’t want to play this game where every time something happens between us, you run off and I have to chase after you. Why are you running from me, Melinda?”

“I’m just scared of ruining everything.” She confessed. “But I want this. I don’t want to run from you.”

“Then stop.” He took her hands. “We both love each other. So let’s just let this happen.”

Cause every time I’m with you, I go into a zone
And I remember all the places you wanna go
Take me all the way
No, ain’t nobody gonna touch it, touch it, touch it

Phil leaned forward and kissed her passionately. Melinda latched on desperately. After a few moments, he pulled away.

“Why don’t we continue this later?” He suggested.

“I’d like that.” She replied.

“Meet me in my room at nine.” He told her. She nodded.

Melinda considered not showing up, simply out of uncertainty of what would happen. But she figured it might be the last straw for him if she blew him off with no explanation. And as scared as she was, she also didn’t want to ruin this before it had even started.

At nine on the dot, she took a deep breath and knocked on the door to his bunk.

“Come in.” He called. She opened the door to find him sitting on his bed, waiting for her. “I’m glad you decided to come. After the past few days, I was a little worried you would change your mind.”

“I thought about it.” She admitted. “But I decided I had to come. I had to give this a shot.”

“Good.” He got up and crossed the room to her. “Then what are we waiting for?”

He grabbed her tightly and kissed her again. Her hands reached up to unbutton his shirt, while one of his moved between her legs to rub her through her pants. She moaned into his mouth.

He moved them toward the bed as they continued teasing and undressing each other. He laid her down and his lips moved to her neck.

“Are you sure you want to do this?” He asked her when they were naked.

“I’m sure.” She nodded. “Are you?”

“Absolutely.”

She gasped when he entered her. His lips met hers again, and she moaned as he began to move in a steady rhythm. He made love to her in a romantic, almost gentle way. She wasn’t sure that anyone had ever made love to her quite like this before. She felt like he really did love her, and he showed her with every touch and kiss. It was perfect.

Cause every time I see you, I don’t wanna behave
I’m tired of being patient, so let’s pick up the pace
Take me all the way
Ain’t nobody gonna touch it, touch it, touch it

When they finished, they laid there in silence for awhile. Melinda had no idea what to say, and clearly neither did he. After a few minutes, she started to get up.

“I should probably go.” She told him.

“If you want to leave, go ahead.” Phil replied. “But I’d really like it if you stayed.”

She turned around to face him.

“Are you sure?”

“Of course.” He smiled. “Now come back to bed.”

Melinda crawled back into bed beside him and he took her in his arms. He held her close and she cuddled up to him.

“I love you so much.” He told her sweetly.

He gave her a gentle kiss.

“I love you too.” She replied. “I love you more than anything. Which is why I’m scared of losing you.”

She ran a finger down his scar, tears welling up in her eyes. She was determined not to let them fall.

“I know.” He ran a comforting hand through her hair.

“No, you don’t.” A tear fell, despite her best efforts. He wiped it away. “You have no idea what that did to me, to hear that you died. You were there for me through everything, after Bahrain, and you never gave up on me. And to hear you were gone, that you would never be there to have a drink with, or laugh with, or be a shoulder to cry on, you don’t know, you can’t possibly know what that did to me. It broke me, Phil.”

She was sobbing now. He planted a comforting kiss in her hair.

“I’m here now, Melinda.” He reminded her.

“But what if something else happens?” She questioned. “I can’t lose you again.”

“You won’t.”

“How can you know that?” She cried. “Just a few weeks ago you were telling me I might have to put you down. What if-,”

“Melinda, listen to me.” He cut her off. He was crying now too. “I’m better now. And I don’t plan on leaving you again. I can’t. Not now. I love you. And I’ll hold you here like this forever if you let me.”

Baby, ain’t nobody gonna
Baby, ain’t nobody gonna
Baby, ain’t nobody gonna

Melinda wanted nothing more than to let him. But she couldn’t. She wasn’t ready for this. She wasn’t ready for him. She loved him too much to risk ruining things. To risk hurting him. To risk losing him for good.

So as soon as he was asleep, she crept out of his bed, put her clothes back on, and left as quietly as possible.

Chapter Text

Can we just talk? Can we just talk?
Talk about where we’re goin’
Before we get lost, lend me your thoughts
Can’t get what we want without knowin’

Phil wasn’t surprised that Melinda was gone when he woke up. He was frustrated and disappointed, but not surprised.

He understood why she might be afraid to start a relationship, given that her last serious relationship had ended in divorce,  and the last relationship she’d tried to start ended with her almost boyfriend leaving her for Skye, then turning out to be a Hydra traitor. And he understood why she might be afraid to ruin their friendship, when they meant so much to each other, especially with her relationship track record. Love hadn’t been kind to Melinda. Life in general hadn’t been kind to Melinda.

But Phil wanted her to be happy again. He wanted to be the one to make her happy again. She meant everything to him.

He wasn’t afraid of things going wrong between them. He had known for years that they were meant to be together. He had just been waiting for her to realize it too.

And he wasn’t afraid of her hurting him. She couldn’t do that. In all the years he’d known her, she’d hurt him once. When he found out that she’d known the truth about the TAHITI Project all along, he had been hurt, betrayed, and angry. But he quickly understood why she had done it. She had done it out of love. Because she didn’t want to lose him. He couldn’t hold that against her.

He got out of bed and got dressed. Then he headed down to the gym to go talk to her. They had to start talking. He couldn’t let her keep running off like this without saying anything all the time. They’d never get their relationship off the ground like that.

Melinda was in the gym, warming up.

“Melinda,” he called to her as he entered the room.

“Skye’s gonna be here soon.” She told him, without looking up at him.

“She’s not here yet.” He replied. “We need to talk.”

“I think I did enough of that last night.”

“Sure, for last night.” He stood beside her. “But this morning you got up and left without a word.”

“I didn’t want to wake you.”

“You know, I really don’t think that’s it.” She finally stopped and looked at him.

“Then what is it?” She asked, annoyed.

“You tell me.” He shrugged. “All I know is that if we’re going to be in a relationship, we need to communicate with each other. You need to tell me what’s on your mind. Because I can’t give you what you want, what you need, if you won’t talk to me.”

“I just want you.” She replied, quietly.

“Then you have me.” He kissed her softly. “I love you.”

“I love you too.”

“I’ll get going before Skye comes down.” He started to walk away. “I’ll talk to you later.”

She just smiled in reply. Which he knew meant maybe. But probably not.

I’ve never felt like this before
I apologize if I’m movin’ too far
Can we just talk? Can we just talk?
Figure out where we’re goin’

Despite Phil’s best efforts, she was distant all day. Which he figured she would be. So he did the only thing he could do. He forced her to talk to him.

That night, he waited for her outside her bunk.

“Melinda,” he greeted her with a smile.

“What are you doing here?”

“I’m not going to let you avoid me.” He told her. “I already told you, I’m not going to play this game.”

“This isn’t a game to me, Phil.”

“Good. Then stop acting like it.” He demanded. “Because this sure as hell isn’t a game to me.”

She didn’t say anything to that. She just stood there, still keeping her distance, not meeting his eyes.

“Come here, love.” He pulled her into his arms and kissed her. He loved how her lips felt on his. Like they were made just for him. But she pulled away too soon.

“Someone could see us.” She pointed out.

“Let them.”

“SHIELD has rules about fraternization.”

“You know, last I checked, I was the Director of SHIELD.” He retorted. “And as long as it’s not a problem, I don’t care.”

“What if this becomes a problem?” She questioned.

“You could never be a problem, Melinda.” He told her sweetly.

“Phil, I just don’t want people to know yet.”

“Then they don’t have to.” He agreed. “So let’s take this in your room, then.”

She gave him a look that betrayed nothing, but she didn’t tell him to fuck off, so he figured that was some kind of agreement.

Once they were inside, he closed the door behind them and pinned her to it, kissing her passionately. One hand moved between her legs, while the other gripped her hip tightly. She moaned and started undressing him.

He pulled down her pants and his hand slipped down her panties.

“Fuck, Phil.” She gasped as he slipped a finger inside her.

Suddenly, he stopped and pulled away a little.

“I’m sorry.” He told her. “I just came here to talk. I know you don’t want to move too fast, and you’re probably right. I just wanted to talk.”

“We can talk later.” She whined. “Please, I need you now.”

She gave him a look of pure lust and desperation. And the realization that he had done this to her made him come completely undone.

He kissed her again and moved them to the bed while they undressed each other frantically. Then he laid her down and did exactly what she wanted him to.

Yeah, started off right
I can see it in your eyes
I can tell that you’re wanting more

“You’re amazing.” Melinda told him when they were finished. She cuddled up to him underneath the sheets.

“You’re not too bad yourself.” Phil smiled. “You know, I actually came here to talk to you. You were just so beautiful that I got distracted.”

“I don’t mind that.” She replied. “I’m not really one for talking.”

“I know. That’s why we need to talk.”

“Maybe I’m not in the mood.”

Phil sighed. He knew that Melinda wasn’t much of a talker. She never had been. But her reluctance to talk was starting to concern him. What if her feelings for him weren’t real? What if she was just pretending to be in love with him to get into his pants? Deep down he knew better than to think that was true, but he couldn’t help but have his doubts.

“You never are.” He remarked. “Every time I try you run away. You told me you would stop doing that. But you haven’t. And it’s making me start to question your intentions here.”

“What do you mean?”

“What do you want this to be, Melinda?” He asked. “Do you really want a relationship with me, or do you just want to have sex? Because I hate to think that it’s the latter, after you told me you loved me, but I can’t help but wonder.”

“Of course I want a relationship with you, Phil.” She reassured him, looking a little hurt by his accusation. “I love you and I mean it. I’m just scared of this. I don’t want to hurt you.”

“You don’t need to be scared.” He told her. “You could never hurt me.”

“We both know that’s not true.”

“It is.” He kissed her. “Look, I’ve been in love with you for so long. And I think we should try this out.”

“So do I.”

What’s been on your mind?
There’s no reason we should hide
Tell me somethin’ I ain’t heard before

“So, want to tell me what’s on your mind?” Phil asked.

“I get the feeling that if I tell you no, you might actually explode with frustration.” She quipped.

“I might.” He smiled. “Now, tell me what’s going on in that beautiful head of yours.”

“It’s the same thing I told you before.” She told him. “I’m scared of losing you again. I don’t want to mess this up and push you away.”

Melinda gently ran a finger down his scar. He felt his heart skip a beat.

“You don’t need to be scared, Melinda.” He planted a soft kiss in her hair. “I love you.”

“I love you too.” She tried to press herself closer to him. “I love you so fucking much. I always have. And no matter what happens, I always will.”

It felt surreal to hear her say that she loved him. And he figured it always would. It was hard to believe that Melinda May was really in love with him in the same way he was with her. But he was so eternally grateful that she was. And he hoped she would finally let herself be.

Oh, I’ve been dreamin’ ‘bout it
And it’s you I’m on
So stop thinkin’ ‘bout it

The next morning, he was surprised to wake up with Melinda still in his arms. He looked at his alarm clock and saw that it was almost six thirty. She was usually up at five, and would probably be pissed that he let her sleep later. But he couldn’t bring himself to wake her. She looked more peaceful than he had seen her look in years. And god, she was beautiful. He could hold her in his arms and watch her sleep all day.

But of course, after a few moments, she woke up.

“Phil?” Her eyes fluttered open. “What time is it?”

“Six thirty.” He admitted.

“I should have been up an hour and a half ago.” She whined. “Why did you let me sleep so late?”

“I just woke up myself.” He explained. “And I must say, I was pleasantly surprised to wake up with you still here with me. I could get used to seeing your gorgeous face first thing every morning.”

“Well, don’t expect to.” She replied, starting to get up.

“Melinda, please stay.” He called after her. “All I’ve ever wanted is for you to be mine. To be able to love you. For you to love me back. And now you say that you do, but you won’t let yourself. You keep running away from me. Stop running. I love you.”

“I’m sorry, Phil.” She was starting to look upset. Well, as upset as she would let herself look. “I’m just not ready for this. I have to go.”

Can we just talk? Can we just talk?
Talk about where we’re goin’
Before we get lost, lend me your thoughts
Can’t get what we want without knowin’

“Melinda, wait, stop.” He scrambled out of bed and put his clothes on before following her out. “Please, don’t go.”

He grabbed her arm and turned her around to face him.

“Let me go, Phil.” She yanked her arm away. “I have things to do and so do you. Leave me alone.”

“Why can’t we just talk? Why can’t we have a conversation like adults?” He asked. “Why do you run off every time I try?”

“I’m not much of a talker.” She replied. “I’ve said what I have to say. Why aren’t my answers good enough for you, Phil? What is it that you want me to say?”

“I’m just trying to figure out what exactly you want, May.” He explained. “I want to give you whatever that is, but I can’t do that if I don’t know.”

“I already told you.” She raised her voice a little. “I just want you. I want you here with me. I need you. I had to live without you once before, and I didn’t handle it so well. I can’t live without you. Which is why, as much as I want a relationship with you, I know I shouldn’t do it. I’ll just hurt you and push you away. And then I’ll lose you again and it will all be my fault. I’ll have to live without you. And I can’t do that.”

I’ve never felt like this before
I apologize if I’m movin’ too far
Can we just talk? Can we just talk?
Figure out where we’re goin’

“Melinda,” Phil’s heart broke at her words. But before he could respond, Simmons walked up to them and interrupted. Because of course she did.

“May,” she called, coming up to them. “I hope I’m not interrupting anything important. Skye’s been looking for you. She came down for Tai Chi this morning and you weren’t there. She was kind of worried. So she’s been in the lab with me. Not that I mind her company. She’s great, even though she’s still getting used to her powers. I’m trying to help her. I’m sure she’ll get the hang of them eventually, because she’s amazing like that that.  Anyway, it was unlike you to not show up, so we were both worried. I’ll tell her you’re alright. Should I tell her you’ll be training soon? If you can’t, I don’t mind keeping her in the lab with me, we were just wondering. I-,”

“Please stop talking.” Melinda cut her off. “I’ll go down to the lab and talk to her myself, if you don’t mind.”

“Of course.” Simmons nodded. Melinda turned and started to walk away.

“May,” Phil called after her.

“We can talk later, Coulson.” She replied without turning around. Phil sighed and shook his head.

“Talk later?” Simmons asked. “So she actually has real conversations with people?”

“Once in a while.” He told her. “But you really have to force her.”

“Were you two talking about something important?” She questioned. “I didn’t mean to interrupt.”

“It was an important conversation, but she’ll take any excuse she can get to not have those.” He remarked.

“I’m sorry.” She smiled apologetically. “I didn’t mean to interrupt something important. I love having Skye around, but she was starting to get really worried about May so I went to find her.”

“Are you always up this early?”

“Usually. I like being in the lab in the morning. Helps get my brain focused for the day.” She explained. “I’m sorry, I’m rambling a lot this morning. Being around Skye for the last hour just has me in a good mood. She’s amazing, isn’t she?”

“Simmons, do you, um, have a crush on Skye?” He asked. “It’s really none of my business, but I’m kind of getting the feeling that you do.”

“Perhaps.” She blushed.

“I didn’t even know you liked girls.” He commented.

“I’m bisexual.” She admitted. “I’ve never told anyone before.”

“I’m not judging, it doesn’t make a difference to me. Actually, I think you and Skye would make a cute couple.” He told her. She smiled.

“Really?” He nodded.

“Maybe you should tell her how you feel.” He suggested.

“I can’t.” She shook her head. “I don’t even know if she likes girls. Besides, I’ve never quite felt this way about anyone before. I really like her, not just in a romantic way, but as a friend too. And I don’t want to take things too far. I don’t want to ruin what we already have. So I’m just trying to wait for some kind of sign that she likes me back.”

“Don’t wait too long.” He warned.

“You sound like you speak from experience.”

“I do.” He admitted. “Talk to her, Simmons. It’s not easy to go from friends to lovers, but it’s worth a shot. At least I hope it is.”

“You and May?” She questioned.

“What?”

“That’s what you were talking about isn’t it?” She guessed. “You two want to be more than friends. And you’re trying to talk to her about it but she doesn’t want to have that conversation. That’s what I interrupted, isn’t it?”

“That’s classified.” He smirked. “I think you better get back to the lab, Simmons.”

“Of course, sir.” She turned to walk away.

“And remember what I said.” He called after her. “Talk to Skye.”

“I’ll think about it.”

Phil hoped she would. Maybe she’d have more luck talking to Skye than he was having with Melinda.

Can we just talk? Can we just talk?
Figure out where we’re goin’

Later that day, Phil found Melinda in the kitchen. There was no one else there. It was a perfect opportunity to talk to her.

“Melinda,” he sat down across from her. “Can we finish our conversation from earlier now?”

“No.” She shook her head. “I already said what I have to say. I don’t know what more you want from me.”

“I want you to be mine, Melinda.” He confessed. “I want to know that you’re mine. That you’re going to take this seriously. That you’re not going to run and hide when things get difficult. And they will. Love is never easy, and this will certainly be no exception. But I think it’s worth it. Because I love you and I need you. I’ve waited long enough for this. We’ve waiting long enough for this. It doesn’t matter what’s going on outside. It’s time.”

“Aren’t you scared?” She asked. “What if things don’t work out? What if things end badly and we can’t stand to look at each other anymore? What if we lose each other?”

“I won’t lose you.” He replied matter-of-factly. “No matter what happens, I refuse to lose you. You mean too much to me for that to happen.”

“I love you so much, Phil.” She reached across the table and took his hands. “I don’t want to risk ruining what we already have. But if you’re sure this is what you want,”

“I am.”

“Then I’m willing to give it a shot.”

Penthouse view, left some flowers in the room
I’ll make sure I leave the door unlocked
Now I’m on the way, swear I won’t be late
I’ll be there by five o’clock

“Why don’t we go on a date?” Phil asked her.

“And do what?”

“Is there anything you’re completely opposed to doing?”

“Dancing.” Phil rolled his eyes and laughed.

“Noted.” He replied. “How about we get a nice hotel room somewhere up the coast? Take a couple days, just do whatever we want.”

“That sounds nice.” Melinda admitted. “But what if the others ask questions. I don’t really want them to know yet.”

“I hate to tell you this, but Simmons has already figured it out.” He told her. “And knowing her, Fitz and Skye will know by the end of the day, if she hasn’t told them already.”

“Ugh, Hunter saw me leaving your room a few days ago.” She remembered. “I think he already suspects, and if the others find out they’ll tell him. And then he’ll tell Bobbi and Mack.”

“I guess it’s hard to keep secrets like that when we all sleep in the same hallway.” He remarked.

“Phil, we’re master spies. We should have been able to keep it a secret for longer than this.” She retorted. “We have almost thirty years of experience, and we got figured out by a dumbass mercenary and an annoying biologist within two weeks.”

“Oh, admit it. You like them.” He teased.

“Simmons, yes. Hunter, no.” Melinda answered. “But that isn’t the point.”

“I think the point is, people already know and they’re happy for us.” He told her. “No one will care if we go away for the weekend.”

“Living with mom and dad is a real buzz kill.” She joked.

“And if there’s an emergency and some crazy new development comes up, the kids know how to reach us.”

“It might be good to get away for a couple of days.” She agreed.

“If you wouldn’t mind letting me do the planning, I already have a place in mind.” He told her. “It’s up in New York City.”

“Sounds crowded.” She deadpanned. “But I’m sure we’ll have fun. As long as we don’t run into people who think you’re dead.”

“Obviously we avoid Avengers Tower, but we should be fine.” He smiled. “I think we’ll have fun. We’ve only ever been there on missions before. We’ve never actually gotten to do the touristy stuff.”

“Alright.” She agreed. “New York it is. And I’ll let you do the planning.”

A week later, Phil drove Lola through the streets of Manhattan. He and Melinda had ended up deciding to drive up separately. He left before she did, and as far as most of the team knew, they weren’t even going to the same place. Melinda really didn’t want people to know yet, so after their conversation in the kitchen, they found Hunter and Simmons and told them to keep their mouths shut or else. And they had agreed.

Phil had told Melinda he would meet her at the hotel at five. He had already checked in and left some flowers in the room for her. He had left to pick up some groceries for dinner. Their suite had a really nice kitchen that he wanted to take advantage of. Besides, she loved it when he cooked for her. And he loved to cook for her.

He arrived at the hotel shortly before five. He opened the hotel room door to see Melinda sitting at the dining table waiting for him.

She was wearing a red dress with matching heels and lipstick. Her hair was left down and draped over her shoulder. She looked absolutely stunning.

Oh, you’ve been dreamin’ ‘bout it
And I’m what you want
So stop thinkin’ ‘bout it

“Phil,” she greeted him, standing up.

“Melinda,” he sat the groceries down on the counter and walked over to her. He wrapped one arm around her back and grazed his fingers down her cheek with his free hand. “You look gorgeous.”

“And I don’t always?” She teased.

“Actually, you do.” He kissed her softly. “You are so fucking beautiful. Literally all the time. But you’ve outdone yourself tonight. I want to undress you and bend you over the table.”

“Don’t you always want to?”

“Yes.” She giggled.

“But you should make dinner first.” She told him.

“What?”

“The groceries.” She gestured to the counter. “You were going to make dinner for me, weren’t you?”

“How did you know?”

“What else would you have went to buy groceries for? Obviously, you’re making dinner for me.”

“Well, you’re wrong.” He smiled. “I’m also making breakfast.”

“I love you.” She leaned her head on his shoulder. “I’ve been thinking about it constantly. I’ve actually had dreams about it. I love you so much. I want you to be mine.”

“I am.” He promised. “As long as you're mine.”

“I am.” She smiled. “I love you.”

“I love you too.”

Can we just talk? Can we just talk?
Talk about where we’re goin’
Before we get lost, lend me your thoughts
Can’t get what we want without knowin’

The next morning, Phil woke up with Melinda in his arms, sunlight streaming through the hotel curtains. She was already awake, looking up at him with a contented smile.

“Good morning.” She told him.

“Morning, babe.” She wrinkled her nose.

“Babe?”

“I’ve been thinking about what pet names I could call you.” He told her. She rolled her eyes. “I take it you don’t like babe. Baby?”

“No.”

“Sweetheart?”

“No.”

“Sweetie?”

“No.”

“Honey?”

“No.”

“Darling?”

“Ew.”

“Dear?”

“What are we, 80?”

“Kitten?”

“God no.”

“Love?” She didn’t reply, but her glare softened. “I’ll take that as a yes.”

She smiled.

“So, are you ready for today, love?” He asked.

“Of course.”

Phil made breakfast for them, then took her out on the town. They went to Times Square and bought cliche I <3 NY shirts. They took a ferry out to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. That night, he took her to see Wicked on Broadway. It had been a long time since he had seen her as happy and carefree as she was that day.

When they got back to the hotel, they cuddled up on the bed and turned on the TV.

“Phil, are you sure we’re ready for this? Ready for a relationship?” Melinda asked him out of nowhere.

“I think so.” He replied. “But I mean, the last time I was in a relationship, it ended with me dying.”

“Don’t joke about that.” She snapped. “You have no idea what that did to me.”

He sighed.

“You’re right.” He planted a kiss on her hair.

“Do you still love Audrey?” She asked.

“Not really. She’ll always hold a place in my heart, but I’ve moved on. And I think she has too.” He paused. “You know, after I came back from ‘Tahiti’, I went back to my old apartment. And it wasn’t how I’d left it. It was like someone had been there. There was food missing that I’d left in the fridge. The bed was unmade and looked slept in. And an old Communications Academy shirt was missing. I always assumed it was Audrey. From what I heard, she was distraught after I died. But the last time I saw her she seemed to have moved on.”

He looked at Melinda and saw she was crying.

“What’s wrong, love?” He asked.

“Phil, that wasn’t Audrey.” She told him. “That was me. I went to your apartment after I heard the news. I crawled in your bed and cried myself to sleep. I was there for three days. I took that Communications Academy shirt and wore it home when I left. It absolutely destroyed me when you died, Phil. I couldn’t accept that you were gone. I-,”

“Shh, it’s okay, love.” he comforted her. He couldn’t believe it. He had never once stopped to think that it wasn’t Audrey who was in his apartment. He felt tears welling up in his eyes.

“D-do you think it’s weird that I did that?”

“No. Actually I think it’s sweet.” He wiped her tears. “It’s heartbreaking, but sweet.”

“Y-you mean literally everything to me.” She cried. “I-I can’t lose you.”

“Come here, my love.”

He pulled her into his lap and let her cry into his chest. For what seemed like hours, they just stayed like that. And he sat in awe and disbelief at how much he truly meant to Melinda. At how much she really loved him.

I’ve never felt like this before
I apologize if I’m movin’ too far
Can we just talk? Can we just talk?
Figure out where we’re goin’

Phil spent the rest of the weekend in a state of pure bliss. He had more fun in those three days than he’d had in the past three years combined. Everything just seemed so perfect with Melinda there, holding his hand as they saw what the city had to offer.

He was disappointed when they had to leave, especially since they’d have to return in separate cars. She arrived back well before he did. He was greeted warmly by everyone, especially Skye.

“Hey, AC.” She ran up to him and hugged him. “How was your vacation?”

“It was wonderful.” He told her. “How is everyone?”

“Everyone is fine except me.” She shrugged. “Having earthquake powers is a lot to get used to. Simmons is doing her best to help me control them. She’s working on some arm gauntlets for me to prevent my powers from hurting me. She’s struggling a bit, but she’ll figure it out. She always does. She’s amazing.”

Phil smiled at the way her eyes glowed when she talked about Simmons.

“She is.” He agreed. “We’re lucky to have her. And we’re lucky to have you. You’ll get a handle on your powers. I know it.”

“Thanks.” She smiled. “So, what’s taking a vacation with May like?”

“We weren’t together.” He denied. “I went to New York, and she went to Arizona to visit her father.”

“If you insist.” She teased.

When he found May in the base, she was in the kitchen, with everyone else. She was talking to Bobbi. Fitz, Hunter, and Mack were playing Call of Duty. Skye went and sat by Jemma on the couch to watch them. Phil noticed that Jemma casually slipped her hand in Skye’s, and Skye held on.

Phil went to join Melinda. He hugged her like he hadn’t seen her in days.

“Good to see you.” He told her. “I missed you.”

That wasn’t really a lie. Even though it had only been a few hours since he last saw her, not a few days like they were trying to pretend, he had missed her. He had missed holding her hand. Holding her in his arms. Kissing her soft lips. The way she reacted when he touched her. The sound of her voice when she said ‘I love you.’ He had missed everything about her. And he knew he couldn’t bear to be without her anymore.

“I missed you too.” She told him.

Phil had never loved anyone the way he loved Melinda. He had always thought he couldn’t live without her. But now he knew it. And he knew she couldn’t live without him.

Figure out where we’re goin’

But of course right as Phil and Melinda’s relationship got started, everything came crashing down around them.

Skye was losing what bit of control she’d had on her powers. She was in danger, and so was the whole team. 

Chapter Text

Phil’s POV:

Not tryna be indie

Not tryna be cool

Just tryna be in this

Tell me, are you too?

 

Phil drove nervously out to the safe house with Skye. He hated taking her out here, but there was nothing else he could do. Things were getting out of hand. At least out here, she’d be safe. This place wasn’t exactly easy to find. And it was built to contain the Hulk. So he figured if it could handle a giant green rage monster, it could handle a girl with earthquake powers.

 

He didn’t want to leave her alone there. But he could only stay long enough to help her settle in. And give her the arm gauntlets Simmons had been working on for her. Skye was scared shitless, and clearly didn’t want to be left alone there. Which made leaving her all the more difficult. But he did leave her a laptop and a phone so she could get in touch with them.

 

He drove back to the base with a sick feeling of dread in his stomach. When he walked past the lab, he saw Simmons sitting at a counter sobbing. Fitz was sitting next to her, trying to comfort her.

 

Phil entered the lab cautiously. Simmons looked up as soon as he walked in.

 

“Is Skye going to be okay?” She cried. “Is she going to be safe? What if someone finds her out there? What if the arm gauntlets don’t work? What if-,”

 

“Simmons, we have done everything we can for Skye.” He told her, taking one of her shaking hands in his. “We’re going to have to hope it’s enough.”

 

“But what if it isn’t?”

 

“Come here,” he pulled her out of her stool and into his arms. “Everything will be okay. Skye will be fine.”

 

“I love her.” She cried into his chest.

 

“I know.” He ran a comforting hand up and down her back. “And so does she.”

 

“You think so?”

 

“I do.” He replied. “Everything is going to work out.”

 

Or at least he hoped so.

 

Phil walked down to May’s bunk. She was sitting on her bed, waiting for him.

 

“How is Skye?” She asked, standing up to greet him.

 

“She’s terrified, Melinda.” He told her. “I left her alone in a cabin in the middle of nowhere.”

 

“You did what you had to do.” She reassured him.

 

“Did I?” He questioned. “Because I just had to hold Simmons for five minutes while she had a breakdown because I abandoned her best friend with powers she can’t control yet in a safe house.”

 

“You had no choice.” May insisted.

 

She crossed the room to hug him.

 

“I love you.” He whispered.

 

“I love you too.” She sighed. “But maybe this wasn’t a good time to start a relationship.”

 

“No, don’t say that.” He replied sharply. “You’re all I have left right now, love. I need this to work out. This is the only source of hope I have right now. And I think you feel the same way.”

 

“I do.” She agreed.

 

“Then we keep going.” He decided. “We need this right now. More than ever.”

 

Can you feel where the wind is?

Can you feel it through

All of the windows

Inside this room?

 

“Let’s go to bed, Phil.” Melinda suggested. “You need to rest.”

 

Phil just nodded and followed her to bed. That day had been emotionally exhausting. Even though he had work to do, he was too tired to argue with her.

 

He undressed down to his boxers and crawled into bed next to her. He took her in his arms and cuddled up with her. She ran a finger down his scar.

 

“It’s gonna be alright, Phil.” She comforted.

 

“What if it isn’t?”

 

“Normally, I’m the voice of doom and gloom.” She remarked. “You’re usually the one convincing me that everything will be fine.”

 

“I know.” He sighed. “It’s just, you know how much Skye means to me. She’s like a daughter to me. And to leave her in that safe house in the middle of nowhere, scared and alone. It hurt. It was so hard. And then to come back to a tense, quiet base, with the silence broken only by Simmons sobbing over her best friend and almost lover. It’s the hardest thing I’ve had to do in awhile. And that’s really saying something.”

 

“You did the right thing.” Melinda insisted. “It wasn’t the easy thing, but it was the right thing. And everything, everyone, is going to be okay.”

 

“I sure hope you’re right.”

 

‘Cause I wanna touch you baby

I wanna feel it too

I wanna see the sunrise

On your sins just me and you

 

Phil eventually fell asleep, but he kept waking up. He was trying not to wake Melinda, but he clearly wasn’t succeeding, because eventually, when he opened his eyes, she was staring at him.

 

“Sorry if I woke you.” He told her softly.

 

“It’s alright.”

 

“What time is it?”

 

“A little after three.”

 

“Sorry.” He apologized again. “I just can’t sleep.”

 

“I understand.” She kissed him. “It’s hard to sleep with everything going on.”

 

She kissed him again. This time, they held on. The kiss quickly grew deeper and more passionate. They started to tease each other as they took off their remaining clothes. And as she touched and kissed him, all of his thoughts and worries left his mind. There was nothing except the two of them together in that moment.

 

Eventually, he made love to her, then fell asleep in her arms. He woke up at sunrise the next morning, with soft light shining through the small window of the bunk.

 

At first, fears and worries started to creep into his mind. But then he felt her lips on his scar.

 

“Good morning, Phil.”

 

“Good morning, love.”

 

For what seemed like hours, they just laid there and watched the sunrise on the two of them, and all their sins and mistakes. And nothing seemed to matter until they got out of bed.

 

Light it up, on the run

Let’s make love tonight

Make it up, fall in love, try

 

The next few days were awful. Skye had been taken by the teleporting inhuman with no eyes, after being chased through the woods by the “real SHIELD.” Phil was doing his best to search, but he had no idea where she was.

 

Tensions were high among the team, with loyalties seeming to be split between those loyal to him and those loyal to Gonzalez. All of his original team remained loyal to him, but some of the newer additions thought SHIELD should be run more like a democracy. Less secrets and security clearances. According to them, that had allowed Hydra to grow inside SHIELD.

 

The only thing that made him feel better was Melinda. She was the only source of light he could find now. He had taken to sleeping in her bed at night. He couldn’t stand to be alone. To feel alone. He needed her there.

 

“It’s going to be alright, Phil.” She competed him. “Everything will be fine.”

 

He tried his best to believe her. He tried to let her voice calm him. To let her words chase his worries away.

 

He pulled her closer and kissed her deeply. She rolled them over and climbed on top of him. Then they undressed each other and made love.

 

When they finished, she laid down on top of him. She kissed his scar softly and laid her head on his chest.

 

“I love you.” He whispered. “I love you so much. I need you here.”

 

“I know. And I’m not going anywhere.” She promised. “I love you too. So much.”

 

But you’ll never be alone

I’ll be with you from dusk till dawn

I’ll be with you from dusk till dawn

Baby, I am right here

 

The next day was more of the same chaos and hell. Phil was starting to feel like he was living in a nightmare. He still didn’t know where Skye had been taken, and tensions were only getting higher on the base.

 

Tensions were especially high between him and Simmons. She blamed him for what happened to Skye, since he was fine one who left her there alone. And he couldn’t even argue in his own defense, because she was right. At least Simmons hadn’t switched sides to support the “real SHIELD” yet. Yet.

 

“What’s wrong?” Melinda asked, walking into his office.

 

“What do you think is wrong?” He replied.

 

“I’m sorry.” She walked over to stand beside him.

 

“Why are you apologizing? This is all my fault.”

 

“It’s not.” She sat on his lap and kissed him on the cheek. “What happened to Skye wasn’t your fault.”

 

“I left her out there alone, Melinda.” He argued. “Whatever happened to her is my fault. Maybe Gonzalez and the others are right. I’m not cut out to be Director.”

 

“Phil, they’re just mad because Fury chose you instead of one of them. You’re a wonderful Director. None of this is your fault.”

 

Phil knew she wasn’t lying to him. Or at least she didn’t think she was. If she knew the whole truth, if she knew everything, she might not be so quick to defend him. She’d realize they were right.

 

He wanted to tell her. But he didn’t know how. He didn’t even know where to begin. And honestly, he was scared of how she would react. So he didn’t say anything.

 

“Phil, I’m going to be here by your side no matter what.” She promised. “I’m never going to leave you to deal with all of this alone. I love you.”

 

I’ll hold you when things go wrong

I’ll be with you from dusk till dawn

I’ll be with you from dusk till dawn

Baby, I am right here

 

“Come on, it’s getting late.” Melinda kissed him. He tried to let her comfort him. “Let’s go to bed.”

 

“How am I supposed to sleep with all of this going on, Melinda?”

 

“You have to try.” She stood up and pulled him out of the chair after her. “Come on, love.”

 

Phil took her hand and followed her down to his bunk. He was so tired. But he had never felt less like sleeping. He was just too worried about everything.

 

She opened the door for him and helped him undress and change into pajamas. She undressed and put on the shirt she’d just taken off of him, which made him smile. She looked so cute in it. Not that he would ever tell her that.

 

She crawled into bed next to him and took him in her arms. He tried to focus on Melinda’s presence. To let it calm him. It wasn’t working. His worries and fears wouldn’t leave him alone.

 

He burst into tears.

 

“Shh,” Melinda wiped the tears from his face. “It’s going to be alright.”

 

He wished he could believe that. He tried to. But he just couldn’t. So he hung on to the only hope he had.

 

“Please, stay with me.” He pleaded softly. “Please, don’t leave.”

 

“Phil, I’m not going anywhere.” She promised. “I’m going to stay with you all night. And however long you need me after that. I’m not leaving you.”

 

I’ll be with you from dusk till dawn

Baby, I am right here

 

Phil eventually fell asleep in Melinda’s arms. But his dreams were plagued by visions of Skye being hurt, or worse, killed. She was tied up in a dark room, and even with her powers she was unable to escape. She had been beaten and tortured. He could see the outlines of people, but couldn’t make out any faces. A gun went off and Skye slumped over in her chair.

 

He woke up screaming.

 

“Phil!” Melinda jolted awake. He started sobbing.

 

“I’m sorry.” He cried. “I-I just had a nightmare.”

 

He hadn’t had nightmares this bad since he found out the truth about TAHITI. But he had them all the time now.

 

“It’s alright, Phil.” Melinda comforted. “It’ll be okay. Lay back down, love.”

 

He did as she told him and curled back up with her.

 

“Everything’s gonna be okay.” She told him softly. “I’m right here. And I always will be.”

 

Melinda’s POV:

We were shut like a jacket

So do your zip

We would roll down the rapids

To find a wave that fits

 

They found Skye in a place called the Afterlife. It was some kind of sanctuary for Inhumans. And it was run by Skye’s mother.

 

Skye seemed to be safe and unharmed, but tensions were still high. She didn’t seem to want to come back to SHIELD.

 

But that wasn’t Melinda’s main concern. Her worst nightmare had come true. Skye had found out what she really did in Bahrain. And now Phil knew too.

 

She was sure he would hate her. She had killed a child. A scared little girl who didn’t understand the powers she had. She tried to help the girl, but she ended up murdering her instead.

 

Melinda hid away in her bunk that night. She sat on her bed in the dark, crying. She wasn’t expecting Phil to come and find her. In fact, she was hoping she wouldn’t. But he did.

 

“Melinda,” he called softly as he walked in.

 

She didn’t reply. She didn’t even look up at him.

 

He knelt down in front of her.

 

“Melinda, love, look at me.” He took her hand, but she yanked it away.

 

“Don’t call me that.” She snapped. “How could you possibly love me? You know what I did.”

 

“You did what you had to do.” He told her. “Everyone in there would have died if you hadn’t.”

 

“I killed a little girl, Phil.” She cried. “She was scared and she couldn’t control her powers. I-I tried to help her. But she wouldn’t listen. I sh-shot her. I looked her in the face and I shot her.”

 

“Why didn’t you ever tell me what really happened?” He asked.

 

“You’d hate me if you knew.” She told him. “You hate me now that you know. How could you not?”

 

“I could never hate you, Melinda.” He pulled her into his arms. She tried to pull away, but he wouldn’t let her. “There is nothing you could do to make me hate you. I love you unconditionally.”

 

“I d-don’t deserve that.”

 

“You do, love.” He planted a soft kiss in her hair. “You do.”

 

Can you feel where the wind is?

Can you feel it through

All of the windows

Inside this room?

 

Phil helped her undress and lay down in her bed. He crawled in beside her and held her tightly in his arms. She cried into his chest, hating herself.

 

She’d hated herself since it happened. But she’d thought she was starting to get better. But now that everyone knew, everything came flooding back. Everyone would hate her now. And she deserved it.

 

But yet here Phil was, holding her in his arms, telling her he loved her.

 

“Y-you should hate me.” She cried.

 

“I could never hate you, my love.” He replied.

 

“How can you love me, Phil?”

 

“Because you’re the most amazing person I’ve ever met. You’re smart, strong, and badass. And you’re also kind and caring, even if you don’t show that side to many people. You’re the most incredible person I’ve ever met.” He told her. “You saved so many lives that day. You’ve saved so many lives over the years. You saved mine, more times than I can count. I know you don’t see it, but you’re a hero.”

 

“I’m not a hero, Phil.” She argued. “I’m an assassin. I’m a murderer.”

 

“First of all, you’re really more of a spy than an assassin.” He teased, trying to get a smile out of her. Normally, it would’ve worked. But not tonight. “Second, you do what you have to do. You’ve made some hard calls. But they were the right ones. Because they saved the lives of the people we swore to protect. You’re a hero, Melinda.”

 

Melinda still didn’t think that was true. But she was too exhausted to argue. Instead, she just cried herself to sleep in his arms, hoping he would keep away the nightmares she feared would come.

 

‘Cause I wanna touch you baby

And I wanna feel it too

I wanna see the sunrise

On your sins just me and you

 

Eventually, Melinda fell asleep. But all she saw was the little girl. The scared, desperate look in her eyes. The sound of her voice. Why wouldn’t the girl just listen? Why couldn’t she get through to her?

 

She reached behind her and picked up the gun. She fired it and the girl fell to the ground.

 

Melinda woke with a start, tears running down her face. She sat up and hugged her knees. She tried to calm herself without waking Phil. She didn’t succeed.

 

“Melinda,” he sat up and put an arm around her. She leaned back against him. “It’s alright, love.”

 

She shook her head and opened her mouth to argue. But the words didn’t come out. Instead, she just cried into his shoulder.

 

“Let’s lay back down.” He said gently.

 

“I don’t want to sleep.” She replied. “All I see is her.”

 

“Alright, what do you want to do then?” Phil asked. “Whatever you want to do, I’ll stay up and do it with you.”

 

“Are you sure? You need to sleep.”

 

“So do you.” He pointed out. “But if you can’t sleep, I’ll stay up with you.”

 

“That’s stupid, Phil.” She argued. “You’re the Director. You need to rest.”

 

“Melinda, just let me take care of you.” He insisted. “What do you want to do?”

 

“Can we watch a movie?”

 

“Sure.” He agreed with a smile.

 

Phil helped her out of bed, then handed her a T-shirt and leggings, before putting his own clothes back on. Then he took her hand and led her down to the living area.

 

No one else was down there, since it was almost two in the morning. They turned the TV on quietly.

 

“What movie do you want to watch?” He asked.

 

“Something funny.”

 

They eventually settled on The Proposal . They cuddled up on the couch. The movie succeeded in distracting her from everything. But more importantly, Phil’s touch was comforting. Just feeling his arms around her made her feel safe.

 

Eventually, she fell asleep while watching the movie. And she didn’t have a nightmare.

 

Melinda woke up at sunrise, still laying in his arms on the couch. He was still asleep. Someone was bound to come in and find them soon, but in that moment she didn’t care. It was like the sun was only rising on the two of them. Nothing else mattered.

 

Light it up, on the run

Let’s make love tonight

Make it up, fall in love, try

 

But eventually, they had to get up. And that day, Melinda found out why the “real SHIELD” was trying to overthrow Coulson. Well, kind of. There were clearly things only he knew. But she did know that he had been meeting secretly with her ex-husband, Andrew. And that he had been taking a lot of trips to meet with people and had been lying to her about it. And that there was a lot of money going into a project called Theta Protocol. They suspected Theta Protocol had something to do with building a team of powered people, since that was kind of his specialty, but no one actually knew.

 

Melinda had to confront him. But he wasn’t in his office. He wasn’t in the lab either, or the kitchen, or the gym, or any other place he might normally be found during the day. Instead, she found him in his bunk. He was packing a suitcase.

 

“Phil, what are you doing?” She asked.

 

“I have to leave, Melinda.” He told her, not turning around to face her. “The team is turning against me, I’ve fucked everything up, and now they have Fury’s toolbox and are trying to open it.”

 

“It’s not like you to run away when things get tough.” She remarked with a frown. Running away was her job.

 

“I have no choice.” He finally turned to face her and she could see the fear on his face. “Gonzalez wants my head on a platter, and I’m not going to stick around for him to get it.”

 

“So you’re just leaving without a fight?” She questioned. “It’s bad enough you’ve been lying to me and keeping secrets from me. Now you’re gonna abandon me when I need you the most?”

 

“May, we both know you don’t get to throw stones when it comes to lying and keeping secrets.”

 

She wanted to cry. She wanted to punch him in the face. How dare he?

 

“What exactly are you referring to?” She spat. “Bahrain? TAHITI? Because I had very good reasons for keeping both of those secrets and you know it.”

 

She almost couldn’t believe he had said that to her. She had kept TAHITI a secret to protect him. Because she loved him.

 

And as for Bahrain, he had just spent hours last night comforting her while she cried into his arms over it. Was he really throwing that back in her face now? That was a new low.

 

Phil didn’t reply to her. He just stood there staring at her. After a moment, she decided she was done.

 

“You know what? Fuck you.” She felt tears in her eyes, but she held them back. She turned to storm out. But he grabbed her arm.

 

“Melinda, wait, please.” He begged, on the verge of tears himself. “I’m sorry. Come with me. Please.”

 

“Phil, I-,”

 

“Please. I promise I’ll explain everything.” He was desperate. “I’m done keeping secrets from you. Just please, come with me. I need you, Melinda. I love you.”

 

He pulled her into his arms and she hugged back tightly.

 

“I love you too.”

 

“So will you come with me?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“Thank you.”

 

“I’d better go pack my things.”

 

She went down to her bunk to pack a bag and met him back in his room. They hurried out of the base.

 

They walked down to the nearest bus stop and rode the bus for a couple miles.

 

“I assume you know where we’re going.” Melinda remarked. Riding a bus to god knows where wouldn’t be the best escape plan.

 

“Trust me, I do.” He replied. “I have this all planned out.”

 

When they got off the bus, they walked several more blocks to a grocery store parking lot.

 

“There it is.” Phil pointed to a small black car.

 

“Who’s car is that?” Melinda asked.

 

“An old friend loaned it to me.” He explained. “It’s a good escape car. Doesn’t draw attention. And it can’t be tracked with GPS.”

 

“Fury loaned this to you, didn’t he?” She guessed.

 

“Maria Hill, actually.” He corrected.

 

They got in the car and drove for hours. They were southbound and headed for Mexico.

 

That night, they stopped at a small, sketchy motel in rural Tennessee, where they checked in with fake IDs.

 

“This place looks like it has bed bugs.” Melinda remarked when they stepped into their small room.

 

“Sorry, I didn’t exactly have time to check the reviews.” He retorted. “Besides, we’ve stayed in worse places.”

 

“Remember that lodge in South Dakota that was in the back of a bar?” She smiled.

 

“Yeah, that place was pretty gross.” He agreed. “At least this one doesn’t have a communal bathroom.”

 

“True.” She laughed. It was so easy to be around him. To love him. All he had to do was smile at her and all their problems disappeared.

 

Phil sat down on the bed and she climbed into his lap. She kissed him thoroughly.

 

“I love you.” He told her.

 

“I love you too.”

 

He kissed her again and they undressed each other. Then she laid him down on the bed and they made love.

 

And in that moment, Melinda couldn’t even remember why they were on the run at all.

 

But you’ll never be alone

I’ll be with you from dusk till dawn

I’ll be with you from dusk till dawn

Baby, I am right here

 

When they finished, Melinda rolled off of him and they cuddled up under the covers.

 

“I’m so glad you’re with me, love.” Phil told her.

 

“I couldn’t let you run off alone, no matter how mad I was.”

 

“Are you still mad?” He asked.

 

“You’re a hard person to stay mad at.” She replied. “But I still want to know.”

 

“Know what?”

 

“Everything.” She told him. “Why were you meeting with Andrew? What were you really doing on all those trips to meet ‘potential assets’? What is Theta Protocol? Are you trying to build a team of powered people?”

 

“I was consulting Andrew about the alien writing.” He explained. “I should’ve told you. I’m sorry.”

 

“So you’re not trying to build a team of powered people?” She clarified.

 

“No.”

 

“Then what is Theta Protocol?”

 

“We’re repairing one of the helicarriers.”

 

“Why didn’t you tell me?”

 

“It was classified.” He argued. “It still is actually.”

 

“I’m your right hand, Phil.” She retorted. “You can’t keep secrets like that from me.”

 

“I thought you had enough to worry about.” He defended. “But I’m sorry I kept it from you.”

 

“We’re done keeping secrets.” She decided. “From now on, we need to be honest with each other, no matter what.”

 

“I agree.” He kissed her. “And I’m sorry for keeping secrets from you. I’m lucky you didn’t leave me and make me run off on my own.”

 

“I’ll never leave you.” She promised. “I’m going to stay with you always. No matter what. I’d follow you anywhere. Even to a roach motel in Tennessee or the back of a bar in South Dakota. I love you so much. And I can’t lose you.”

 

I’ll hold you when things go wrong

I’ll be with you from dusk till dawn

I’ll be with you from dusk till dawn

Baby, I am right here

 

Melinda eventually drifted off to sleep in Phil’s arms. But it wasn’t a peaceful sleep. It was a restless sleep plagued by fear and nightmares.

 

She was back in Bahrain. She was holding the dying girl in her arms, covered in her blood. She was so distraught she didn’t hear Phil walk up behind her.

 

“You killed her.” He accused.

 

“I-I tried to s-save her.” She sobbed. “I-I c-couldn’t s-save her.”

 

“You killed her.” He repeated. “You murdered an innocent child.”

 

“I-I know.” She replied. “I’m sorry. I-I’m so sorry.”

 

Phil bent down and took the girl’s body from her.

 

“You’re a monster.” He snarled. “Go. Get out.”

 

Melinda sat frozen.

 

“Go!” He yelled.

 

She got up and ran out of the building as fast as she could. She ran through the streets of the city, not knowing where she was going.

 

Until suddenly, she wasn’t in the city anymore. She was in the woods. She kept running. She could hear agents behind her, chasing her down.

 

The woods led to a small village full of Inhumans. The Afterlife. And suddenly, she was face to face with Skye.

 

“Skye, you have to help me.” She begged. “I-I did something terrible. The agents, they’re chasing me. You have to help.”

 

“I know what you did.” Skye sneered. “You’re a monster.” Skye quaked her, knocking her back. “You killed that little girl. And now, I’m gonna kill you.”

 

She quaked again, this time snapping her neck.

 

Melinda jolted awake in terror. She started sobbing.

 

“Melinda?” Phil reached out and gently cupped her face. “Are you alright? What happened?”

 

“I was back in Bahrain again.” She cried. “You knew what I had done and you told me to leave. I ran and somehow I ended up at Afterlife and Skye was there. And she quaked me to death.”

 

“Melinda, I would never send you away like that.” He promised, wiping her tears. “I love you. And I’m always going to be here for you. And Skye cares about you. She looks up to you. She would never kill you.”

 

“Everyone knows what I did, Phil. They should hate me. You should hate me. I’m a monster.”

 

“You’re not a monster, love.” He insisted. “You did what you had to do. You saved so many people. You’re a hero. And I love you.”

 

I’ll be with you from dusk till dawn

Baby, I am right here

 

The next morning, Phil and Melinda ate toast at the motel, fearing food poisoning if they ate anything that had actually been cooked there. As soon as they ate, they went back to their room and gathered their things. Then they checked out and got back on the road.

 

It almost felt like old times again. Before Bahrain. Before the Hydra uprising. Before Phil was the director. It was like they were on a mission, just the two of them. Except they weren’t on a mission. They were on the run from their own team.

 

She had no idea what was going to happen next. She had no idea when they’d be able to return to SHIELD. If they’d be able to return. Best case scenario, Gonzalez and his team take over smoothly and she and Phil can return as agents once things calmed down. Worst case scenario, they’re considered fugitives and have to spend the rest of their lives hiding from the people they once called friends.

 

The only thing Melinda knew for certain was that she would stay with Phil no matter what. She would follow him anywhere. She would run for as long as they had to. He had promised to love her and stay with her no matter what. And she would do the same for him.

 

Phil’s POV:

Could give love to your body

So, only you that can stop it

Go, give love to your body

So, only you that can stop it

 

Phil drove for hours with Melinda. They sat mostly in silence. His mind was filled with worries and fears. What was going on at the base? Was Skye okay? What was going on at Afterlife? What would happen now? Was he making the right decision by running? Should they go back? What would happen if they did.

 

He reached for Melinda’s hand. She squeezed it and gave him a soft look. It was comforting. Although if he was being honest, she could fix him with her iciest death glare and he would find it comforting.

 

“Thank you.” He told her. “For coming with me. You have no idea how badly I need you here.”

 

“I had to come with you.” She replied. “I need to be with you.”

 

That night, they stopped in a small town in Texas, somewhere south of Dallas. The hotel wasn’t nice, but at least it was cleaner than the one from the night before.

 

“Well, at least this isn’t disgusting.” He remarked as they put their bags down.

 

“Or in the back of a bar.”

 

They changed into pajamas and turned on the TV before cuddling up in bed. Phil flipped through the channels before settling on a rerun of Friends.

 

They were both exhausted mentally. The last few days had been full of stresses and worries. The next few days would be too.

 

But tonight, Phil could fall asleep knowing that Melinda was there. And as long as she was there, he was safe. And he was loved.

 

Melinda’s POV:

Go, give love to your body

So, only you that can stop it

Go, give love to your body

Go, give love to your body

 

Melinda fell asleep that night in Phil’s arms. But she was startled awake by movement a few hours later. She opened her eyes to see him sitting up in bed crying.

 

“Phil?” She sat up beside him and put a hand on his shoulder. “What’s wrong?”

 

“I had a nightmare.”

 

“What happened?”

 

“They killed Skye.” He told her.

 

“Who did?”

 

“Gonzalez and his team. They killed her for betraying SHIELD and joining the Inhumans. Because I left and I wasn’t there to stop them. I wasn’t there to protect her.”

 

“That isn’t going to happen, love.” She comforted him with a soft kiss on the cheek. “She can protect herself.”

 

“But what if she can’t?”

 

“Then our team will protect her.” Melinda insisted. “They care about her just as much as we do. They’re not going to let anything happen to her.”

 

“I hope you’re right.”

 

“Come on. Lay back down, love.”

 

He nodded and laid back down with her. She kissed him and wiped away his tears.

 

“I love you.” She told him. “And I will always love you. No matter what happens.”

 

“I know.” He kissed her. “And I love you too.”

 

Phil’s POV:

But you’ll never be alone

I’ll be with you from dusk till dawn

I’ll be with you from dusk till dawn

Baby, I am right here

 

The next morning, Phil and Melinda hit the road again. Part of him wanted to go back. But he knew he couldn’t. Gonzalez and his team would have taken over by now. He and Melinda wouldn’t be welcomed back so soon.

 

But he was worried about his team. He was worried about Skye. Gonzalez and his team were bound to go to Afterlife before long. What would they do with her when they found her? Would they hurt her? What if she had already been hurt? What if the inhumans there weren’t as friendly as Skye had insisted? What if her parents had hurt her? Phil swore he was going to kill her monster of a father if he found out he’d laid a hand on her.

 

“Phil, calm down.” Melinda’s voice snapped him out of his thoughts. He realized he was white-knuckling the steering wheel. “Everything’s gonna be alright.”

 

“You don’t know that, Melinda.”

 

“I do.” She insisted. “Because we’re going to make it alright. No matter what happens.”

 

Melinda’s POV:

I’ll hold you when things go wrong

I’ll be with you from dusk till dawn

I’ll be with you from dusk till dawn

Baby, I am right here

 

That evening, they finally arrived in Monterrey, Mexico. It wasn’t the nicest hotel they’d ever stayed in, but it would suffice for the next few days. And it didn’t appear to have roaches, bedbugs, or a communal bathroom.

 

They changed into pajamas and cuddled up in bed. Melinda closed her eyes and tried to sleep, but she couldn’t. She was too worried. She’d been pretending that everything would be fine, because that’s what Phil needed her to do. He needed her to comfort him.

 

But he had been right. There was no way she could know that everything would be fine. They couldn’t make everything alright. She couldn’t make everything alright. She certainly hadn’t made everything alright in Bahrain, no matter what Phil said.

 

She laid there thinking for hours. She tried to shut her brain off. Tried to stop her thoughts from spiraling out of control. But no matter how good she was at staying in control of her emotions, at keeping her thoughts inside, she still couldn’t keep those thoughts from coming. She couldn’t stop those emotions from existing. Contrary to popular belief, she was not a robot. She felt her emotions just like everyone else. She just made damn well sure to never show it.

 

“Are you still awake, love?” Phil’s voice snapped her out of her thoughts.

 

“I can’t sleep.” She told him.

 

“Me either.”

 

Melinda kissed him softly. She wished she could just make all their problems disappear. She couldn’t. But she could hold him close and pretend they didn’t exist.

 

“Melinda, promise me you’ll never leave me.” He whispered.

 

“I promise.” She replied. “If you promise you’ll never leave me.”

 

“I promise.”

 

Phil’s POV:

I’ll be with you from dusk till dawn

Baby, I am right here

 

The next afternoon, they were in their hotel room when they got a video call. It was from Simmons.

 

“Coulson? May?” She looked quite upset.

 

“Simmons?” Phil asked.

 

“Is that Mexican football?” She asked, gesturing to the TV behind him. “Where are you two?”

 

“That’s classified.” He replied. “And how did you know May was with me?”

 

“Well you both disappeared without a word, and given your history and current situation, it’s fairly obvious you’re together.” She tried to smile, but she started crying instead.

 

“Simmons, what’s wrong?”

 

“You two have to find Skye.” She sobbed. “Gonzalez is going to Afterlife and I don’t know how he’s going to handle the situation. I fear he’ll try to hurt Skye.”

 

“I would love to go get her, but she doesn’t want us to.” He replied. “And how are we going to get there?”

 

“I don’t know.” Simmons confesses. “But I’ll help you figure something out. We can’t let them hurt her. I-I love her.”

 

“What’s going on?” May asked. 

 

“It looks like we’re going to China.”

Chapter Text

I’ve been hearin’ symphonies 

Before all I heard was silence 

A rhapsody for you and me

And every melody is timeless 

 

The next day, Melinda and Phil boarded a plane with fake passports and fake names. They were flying from Mexico City to Kathmandu, then renting a small plane to travel to Afterlife. Simmons had been secretly communicating with them. She had sent them the exact coordinates of Afterlife, as well as updates on Gonzales’s plans. They were still on schedule to beat them there. 

 

Simmons also informed them that they were still trying to open Fury’s toolbox. However, the one they were making her try to open was a fake. She had given the real one to Fitz, who was also on the run. 

 

Melinda held Phil’s hand as they sat down in their seats. She cuddled up to him as much as possible. At the moment, they were a married couple going on a carefree vacation. And Phil made it very easy to pretend. 

 

She laid her head on his shoulder and closed her eyes. He planted a soft kiss in her hair. 

 

She loved him so much. He meant literally everything to her. She couldn’t imagine what her life would be like without him. Well, she could, but she didn’t like to. It was dark, cold, and lonely without him.

 

But with him, her life was so much happier. He was always there to help her and take care of her, no matter what. And she would always be there for him. Because they needed each other. And they loved each other. 

 

Life was stringin’ me along 

Then you came and you cut me loose 

Was solo, singin’ on my own

Now I can’t find the key without you 

 

Melinda remembered what her life had been like for years after Bahrain. She was miserable and alone. Well, she tried to be alone. Phil never let her completely shut herself off. But she was still miserable. 

 

Even when she joined his team, she tried to keep her distance. Or as much distance as he would let her keep. Which wasn't much. But she honestly didn’t mind. She didn’t want Phil to stay away from her. She was really only there for him. And she remembered the hurt she felt when she thought he didn’t want her there anymore. 

 

But now, all that hurt and misery was gone. She was finally letting him take care of her. And he made her pain fade away. It still hurt sometimes, but it hurt so much less when he was there to hold her. 

 

And now your song is on repeat

And I’m dancin’ in to your heartbeat 

And when you’re gone, I feel incomplete 

So, if you want the truth 

 

It was a 28 hour flight to Kathmandu, and they didn’t arrive until the next evening. They had already planned to stay at a hotel for the night and drive out to the airfield they were renting the plane from the next day. According to Simmons, they would beat Gonzales’s team by at least half a day. 

 

When they checked in, Melinda settled into the room while Phil went to a market across the street to get something for dinner. It was ridiculous, but she missed him as soon as he walked out the door.

 

She rolled her eyes at herself. He would be back in a few minutes. Why did she suddenly feel incomplete? Like a part of herself had just walked out that door and may get killed or something and never return?

 

She sighed. She was becoming clingy and needy. She knew it was stupid to get too attached to him. To become too dependent. As much as her heart said he loved her and would never leave her, a voice in the back of her mind said he would leave eventually. No one could stay with her. No one could ever stay with her, knowing who she really was. She was a monster. He would realize that eventually and he would leave her. And it was only going to hurt worse the more attached to him she got.

 

But the moment Phil stepped back in, she ran into his arms.

 

“Melinda, are you alright?” He asked. 

 

“I’m fine.” She pulled away. 

 

“You don’t seem alright.” 

 

“I’m just worried about Skye.” She lied. She was a good liar, but he could see right through her and she knew it. 

 

“Is that all?” He questioned. She shrugged.

 

“I just,” She wasn’t sure how to say it. “I really need you, Phil. You mean everything to me. I love you.”

 

I just wanna be part of your symphony 

Will you hold me tight and not let go?

Symphony

Like a love song on the radio

Will you hold me tight and not let go?

 

“I’m here, Melinda.” He kissed her softly. “And I always will be.”

 

“You can’t promise me that.” She argued. “Not with the life we live. You could get killed on any mission.”

 

“I could.” He admitted. “So could you. But as long as I’m alive, I’m going to be here to hold you and love you.” 

 

“I can’t lose you, Phil.” She whispered. The thought of him dying again was too much to bear. She needed him. She was lost without him. 

 

“It’s alright, love.” He comforted her. “I’m here.”

 

Phil tried to pull away a little, but she wouldn’t let him.

 

“We have to eat, Melinda.” He reminded her. “The food’s gonna get cold.”

 

“Right.”

 

She nodded and let go reluctantly. But they ate on the bed, cuddled up next to each other. When they finished they called Simmons to make sure everything was still going as planned. It was, although they could tell she was getting increasingly worried about Skye every time they talked to her. 

 

“We’ll get her back, Simmons.” Phil assured her. “She’ll be fine. Everyone will be fine.”

 

“I know.” She gave a clearly forced smile. “I’ll give you one last update in the morning.”

 

“Thank you.” 

 

When they hung up, they changed into pajamas and cuddled up under the covers. Phil turned on the TV, but it was really just background noise since they didn’t know Nepali. 

 

Melinda closed her eyes and laid her head on his chest. He held her tighter.

 

“Don’t let go.” She whispered, although she hadn’t meant for the words to leave her mouth. He planted a soft kiss in her hair.

 

“I won’t, love.” He promised. “I won’t.”

 

I’m sorry if it’s all too much

Every day you’re here I’m healin’

And I was runnin’ outta luck

I never thought I’d find this feelin’ 

 

“I’m sorry.” Melinda told him. 

 

“For what, love?”

 

“I’m being too clingy. Too needy.” She explained. “I shouldn’t depend on you this much.”

 

“I don’t mind.” 

 

“I just, I followed you out of Bahrain. And I followed you back into the field. It’s my instinct to follow you. I trust you. I hate needing you like this, but I do. When I’m with you, I feel like I can heal from everything. Like everything is going to be okay.” She paused. “I-I’m sorry. I’m being too much. I shouldn’t need you like this. I should be able to deal with things on my own. I’m sorry.”

 

There were tears in Phil’s eyes. 

 

“You have nothing to be sorry for, love.” He kissed her forehead. “I don’t mind being here for you. I want to. I want to take care of you. I love you.”

 

“I never thought anyone could love me again, after Bahrain.” She admitted, starting to cry. “I didn’t think I deserved it. I certainly didn’t think you would ever love me. But you do, and you’re here, and you want to take care of me. And I just don’t want to lose you, I can’t lose you again. I love you so much. And I need you here with me.”

 

She was sobbing by the time she was done talking. 

 

“It’s okay, honey.” He comforted. “Sorry, I know you don’t want me to call you that.” 

 

Melinda remembered honey being on the long list of pet names she’d told him not to call her, but in the moment, it was sweet. She actually kind of liked it. 

 

“It’s alright. It’s cute.” She smiled a little. “It makes me feel like you’re going to be here. Like you’re going to take care of me.”

 

“I am, honey.” 

 

‘Cause I’ve been hearin’ symphonies 

Before all I heard was silence

A rhapsody for you and me

And every melody is timeless

 

“Wake up, love.” Melinda heard Phil’s soft voice. She opened her eyes to see his smile. She didn’t remember falling asleep, but she must have, because it was morning now.

 

“Is it time?” She asked.

 

“It’s time for breakfast.” He answered. “But after that, yes. We’re going to go get Skye.”

 

They got out of bed, got dressed and ate. They got one last call from Simmons, just as she’d promised. Everything was still going as planned. Gonzales and his team had only just left. They were on schedule to beat them there by quite awhile. 

 

After they got in the rental car and drove out to the airfield. Melinda squeezed his hand as they got in the cockpit. 

 

“We’ll get her back, Phil.” She told him.

 

“I know.” He forced a smile. “Everything’s going to be okay. No matter what.”

 

“Because we’ll make it okay.” She agreed. “No matter what.”

 

And now your song is on repeat

And I’m dancin’ on to your heartbeat

And when you’re gone, I feel incomplete

So, if you want the truth 

 

They landed in a small clearing in the village. There were many people walking through the streets of Afterlife, and all of them turned to look at Phil and Melinda as they stepped out of the small airplane. 

 

It didn’t take long before a young blonde man walked up to them.

 

“Excuse me, I don’t think anyone gave you permission to be here.” He said. “Who are you? How did you find this place? Are you Inhumans? Or are you with SHIELD?”

 

“Neither.” Phil answered. “We’re just looking for someone. We fear she may be in danger.”

 

“The only danger to her is you.” A woman remarked, walking up to them. Melinda recognized her as Jiaying, Skye’s mother. “They are SHIELD. I recognize them. And I know who they’re looking for. They’re here for Skye. But she’s far safer here, with her family, than she is with them. Lincoln, go back to Skye. I’ll handle them.”

 

“You don’t understand. We’re not with SHIELD.” Phil insisted. “We’re on the run from them. We’re just here to get Skye before SHIELD does. They’re on the way. And I can’t guarantee that they won’t try to hurt your people. We don’t know what Gonzales has planned when he gets here.”

 

“And you want me to send my daughter with you two?” Jiaying asked incredulously. “You expect me to believe she’ll be safe with the woman who killed a young Inhuman girl?” 

 

Melinda looked at the ground in shame. She could have defended herself, but why would she? Jiaying would just ignore her. She hated her. As she should. She killed an innocent child. 

 

“She had no choice.” Phil spoke up instead. “Everyone in that building would have died if she hadn’t done what she did.”

 

“She killed one of my people.” Jiaying argued. “A child. A child who didn’t understand that she was hurting people. And you expect me to view her as some kind of hero? She’s a monster.” 

 

“How dare-,”

 

“Coulson?” The argument was interrupted by Skye running up to them. “What are you doing here? You need to leave.”

 

“We’re not leaving without you.”

 

“You have to.” Skye insisted. “Because I’m not leaving. My family is here. My mother is here. After searching my whole life for my mother, I finally found her. I’m not leaving her now.”

 

“I hope she’s everything you dreamed she’d be.” Melinda told her quietly. She took Phil’s hand. “We should go.”

 

“No. We’re not leaving without Skye.” He insisted. “She could be in danger here.” 

 

“Maybe Jiaying is right.” She argued sadly. “Skye might be in more danger with us. With me.” 

 

Phil opened his mouth to argue, but was interrupted by the roar of a quinjet. SHIELD had arrived. 

 

I just wanna be part of your symphony 

Will you hold me tight and not let go?

Symphony 

Like a love song on the radio 

Will you hold me tight and not let go?

 

Gonzales walked over to where Phil and Melinda were standing with Skye and Jiaying. He was escorted by two agents. Melinda took Phil’s hand and squeezed it. Gonzales was going to take them in as prisoners for sure. After all, they were fugitives now. 

 

“I’m Robert Gonzales, from SHIELD.” He reached his hand out to Jiaying. “You must be Jiaying.”

 

“I am.” She nodded. “What are you doing here?”

 

“We’re just here to talk.” He told her. “To come to an understanding. We will not hurt you or your people.”

 

Jiaying nodded. 

 

“Follow me.” She told him. “Skye, go back inside to Lincoln.”

 

“We’re under orders to take her with us.” One of the agents said.

 

“I’m not going with you.” Skye replied. The agents walked toward her but she quaked them back. “I’m staying here, with my family.”

 

She turned around and disappeared into the same building Lincoln had. 

 

The agents stood up and walked to Phil and Melinda.

 

“We’re under orders to take you, too.” 

 

They could have easily taken them, but they let them lead them away to the quinjet. They had come here to get Skye, and they had failed. There were doubtless more agents on the quinjet that would come down to arrest them if they resisted. They knew it would be better for everyone if they went quietly. If they didn’t cause more trouble than they already had. 

 

Melinda held on tightly to Phil as they sat down on the quinjet. She didn’t know what was going to happen when they got back to base. She hoped if they cooperated they would be reinstated as agents and everyone would forget this ever happened. She knew it probably wouldn’t go down like that.

 

But she pushed her worries aside and told herself it didn’t matter what happened next, as long as she was with Phil.

 

And now your song is on repeat

And I’m dancin’ on, to your heartbeat 

And when you’re gone, I feel incomplete

So if you want the truth

 

Everything seemed to be going smoothly on the ground, until it was chaos. There were gunshots, and Jiaying ran out of the building covered in blood.

 

Agents rushed out of the quinjet, and Melinda followed.

 

“Stay here.” She told Phil. “I’m just going to make sure Skye is okay.”

 

“I should come with.”

 

“No.” She shook her head. “There’s no sense in both of us getting involved in this mess.”

 

Phil opened his mouth to argue again, but she put her hand out to stop him.

 

He sighed and she ran out alone.

 

She found managed to find Skye in the chaos. Jiaying had ordered the inhumans to attack, before being rushed inside for medical treatment.

 

“Skye,”

 

“Go away.” She told her. 

 

“You have to come with us.” Melinda insisted. “You’ll be safer.”

 

“Gonzales just tried to kill my mother.” Skye replied. “I’m not safe with you.”

 

“Skye, please.”

 

“No.”

 

Skye lunged to attack her. Melinda fought back, lightly.

 

“I don’t want to hurt you.” She told Skye. 

 

“I wouldn’t worry about it.”

 

Skye quaked her to the ground.

 

Melinda sat in shock for a moment. Her nightmare was coming true. Skye had quaked her. She hated her. She thought she was a monster. She didn’t feel safe with her anymore. And the worst part was, she knew Skye was right. 

 

Skye walked away, and Melinda stood up and walked back to the quinjet. She could feel tears welling up in her eyes, but she held it in until she got back to Phil. Then she climbed in his lap and fell apart. She cuddled up against him, letting the sound of his heartbeat soothe her. 

 

I just wanna be part of your symphony 

Will you hold me tight and not let go 

Symphony

Like a love song on the radio 

 

“It’ll be alright, love.” Phil comforted her. She could hear the tears in his voice. “We’ll make it alright.”

 

“But what if we can’t make it alright?” Melinda cried.

 

“I don’t know.” He admitted. “We’ll just have to believe that we will.”

 

“She thinks I’m a monster, Phil.” She whispered. “And she’s right.”

 

“You’re not a monster, sweetheart.” He planted a soft kiss in her hair. “Did she say you were?”

 

“No. But she didn’t trust me. She quaked me.”

 

“There’s a lot of mistrust right now.” He reminded her. “There’s a war going on down there. She thinks Gonzales tried to kill her mother. It isn’t about you. It doesn’t mean she hates you or she thinks you’re a monster.” 

 

“But she should. I am.”

 

“You’re not a monster, Melinda.” He raised his voice a little. She sat up, startled by his tone.

 

“Stop lying to me.” She raised hers too. “I’m a monster and you know it. I’m a murderer.”

 

“You’re not a monster, and you’re not a murderer!” He yelled. “You only ever do what you have to.” 

 

Tears were streaming down his face now. 

 

“I love you for who you are.” He told her. “Because you’re an amazing person.”

 

“I’m not.” She shook her head sadly. “I don’t deserve you. I don’t deserve to be loved.” 

 

Phil kissed her softly, then wiped the tears from her face. 

 

“You do.” He insisted. “I love you. And I always will.”

 

Symphony 

Will you hold me tight and not let go?

Symphony 

Like a love song on the radio 

Will you hold me tight and not let go?

 

On the ride home, agents were running around everywhere, sending messages back to the base and trying to plan the next move. But Melinda stayed cuddled up with Phil. No one was asking them for their input, anyway. 

 

Melinda was terrified. She had absolutely no idea what would happen next. Only that it would be messy and chaotic. 

 

But she also knew that Phil would be with her no matter what. He loved her. He promised he would always love her. That that he would always be there to hold her. That he would never let go. 

 

And although her mind told her she shouldn’t believe promises like that, her heart did anyway. 

Chapter Text

I will fight, I will fight for you

I always do until my heart is black and blue

And I will stay, I will stay with you 

We’ll make it to the other side like lovers do 

 

Phil held Melinda’s hand as they walked down into the base. Agent Weaver met them at the hangar door. 

 

“Are you here to show us to our cell?” He asked.

 

“Given what happened to Agent Gonzales, I thought it would be best if the three of us worked together.” Weaver told them. “So, no cell for either of you.” 

 

“Thank you.” He nodded.

 

“On the condition that you tell us everything you’ve been hiding.”

 

“Agreed. Although can it maybe wait until tomorrow?”

 

“Of course.” Weaver agreed. She hesitated before gesturing to Melinda, who was still holding tightly onto his hand, leaning her head against his shoulder. “May, are you alright?” 

 

Phil looked down at Melinda, who was clearly trying not to cry. She was almost succeeding, but a tear slipped down her cheek. She didn’t say anything. 

 

“She, uh, she got hurt in the field.” He answered for her. 

 

“You better get down to medical.” Weaver instructed. “Simmons will be down to take a look at you.”

 

“I’ll be fine.” Melinda said quietly. 

 

“I’m sure you will be, but we can’t take any chances.” She replied. 

 

“I’ll take her down there.” Phil assured her. “Come on, Melinda.”

 

He led her through the base and down to medical. He sat down beside her on one of the beds and waited with her. 

 

After a few minutes, Simmons entered the room, looking panicked.

 

“I am so sorry.” She told them. “I didn’t think they would there so fast. What happened? How did May get hurt?”

 

She began to check Melinda for injuries. 

 

“I’m not injured.” Melinda insisted. “I’m just a little bruised.”

 

“But Agent Weaver said-,”

 

“Coulson lied.” She cut her off. 

 

“I didn’t lie.” He defended himself. “She did get hurt a little. I just didn’t tell her how. And she didn’t ask.”

 

“What happened?”

 

“Skye quaked me.” She admitted, starting to cry again. 

 

“Oh, God.” Simmons gasped. “You’re lucky you’re not seriously hurt. But of course you aren’t. She would never try to hurt us, would she?” 

 

“No.” Phil answered. He refused to believe Skye would ever try to injure any of them. 

 

Simmons was starting to cry, but she wiped her tears.

 

“You’re not injured. Just some bruising.” She informed her. “Like I said, you’re lucky. Do you need any pain medication?” 

 

“No.” Melinda refused. “I’ll be fine.”

 

“I think you should be fine to head up to your own bunk for tonight.” She said. “But make sure to let me know if you change your mind about the pain medication.”

 

Melinda nodded and Simmons left the room, presumably to cry alone somewhere. 

 

Phil took Melinda’s hand and led her up to her bunk. He helped her change into pajamas and settled down next to her in bed. 

 

“Will you stay with me tonight?” She asked.

 

“Of course, love.” He kissed her softly. “I’m not going anywhere.”

 

“Are you sure we can make this alright?”

 

“In the end, we always do. No matter what.” He reassured her. “We will get through this. We will fight this fight together, even if we both end up bloody and bruised. And we will win. Because we always do.”

 

“But what if we have to fight Skye?”

 

“It won’t come to that.” He insisted. “It can’t.”

 

He couldn’t even begin to imagine what might happen if it did.

 

I’ll reach my hands out in the dark and

Wait for yours to interlock

I’ll wait for you, I’ll wait for you

 

That night, Phil fell asleep with Melinda in his arms. It wasn’t a deep sleep, and he woke up an hour later to find that she had rolled out of his grip. She was laying awake, staring up at the ceiling. 

 

“Melinda,” he called softly. She didn’t answer. 

 

He wanted to grab her and wrap her up tightly in his arms again, but he didn’t want to force her if that wasn’t what she wanted. But he still needed her to know he was there for her. That he wasn’t going anywhere.That she was safe. 

 

He reached out to touch her hand gently. She didn’t take his hand, but she didn’t move hers away. So he kept his there until her fingers intertwined with his. 

 

“I’m here, honey.” Phil whispered. 

 

Melinda turned towards him and he pulled her into his arms again. She cuddled up against him and kissed him. 

 

“Don’t go.” She begged.

 

“I’m not going anywhere. Ever.” He promised. “I’ve got you.”

 

‘Cause I’m not givin’ up

I’m not givin’ up, givin’ up, no, not yet

Even when I’m down to my last breath

Even when they say there’s nothin’ left

So don’t give up on

 

The next morning, Phil and Melinda sat down with Weaver to explain everything, and to come up with a plan. Phil explained everything like he had to Melinda. It felt good to have everything out in the open. Weaver nodded along, then moved on to discussing their current situation. Cal, Skye’s father, was back at the base as a prisoner. He had been taken by an agent during the battle at Afterlife. Fitz and Simmons were with him in the lab. 

 

They had also received a distress call from the Iliad, the ship that the “real SHIELD” had been using as a base. Inhumans were apparently being teleported onto the ship and taking over, killing agents on board. 

 

“Obviously the situation on the Iliad is the most pressing matter at hand right now.” Weaver explained. “We have to send a team out to deal with it, or at least get a scope of the situation. Since I’m more familiar with the ship and the agents on it than the two of you, I would like to lead that team. And I would like you to run things here. What do you think?”

 

“I think that sounds like a good idea.” Phil agreed. “But if the situation is more than what you can handle, send for backup and I’ll bring a team. May can run things back here.” 

 

“Of course.” She nodded. “May, what do you think?” 

 

“No.” She shook her head. “If Coulson goes in with backup, I’m going to be on that team.”

 

“Then who will run things here?” Weaver asked.

 

“I think if it comes to that, we’ll need every hand we can get on the Iliad.” Melinda pointed out. 

 

“Perhaps. But are you sure you should go on a mission like that so soon after your injuries at Afterlife?”

 

“I’m not injured.” She insisted. “I’ll be fine. If Coulson goes, I go with him. Period.”

 

“What do you think, Coulson?”

 

Phil knew Melinda was probably right. They would need every agent they had on this. But he didn’t want to put her in harm's way again. She’d been through so much. He just wanted to protect her. To keep her safe. But he also knew that if they had to send in backup, that she should be on that team. 

 

“I think May’s probably right.” He decided. “If we send in backup, we send in everyone we can. Including her.” 

 

Melinda grabbed his hand under the table and he squeezed it. If Weaver noticed the movement, she didn’t say anything. 

 

“Then it’s settled.” She stood up to leave and they followed. “I’ll put together a team and be out within the hour.”

 

Phil nodded and followed her out of the room. 

 

“So what do we do now?” Melinda asked quietly. “While we wait for her to call for backup?”

 

“We get settled back in here.” Phil replied. “Figure out what’s going on. Make sure the team knows that we’re back for good. That we’re in charge again.”

 

“What if they don’t want us back?”

 

“I think they do.” Phil answered. “And if they don’t, they’ll come around. We’re a team. We’re a family. We can’t let the mistakes we’ve made change that.”

 

I’m not givin’ up 

I’m not givin’ up, givin’ up, no, not me

Even when nobody else believes 

I’m not goin’ down that easily 

So don’t give up on me 

 

Phil led Melinda to his old office. It felt good to be back. He hadn’t been sure he would ever be able to be back there again. He sent out a message to everyone that there would be a meeting at noon. That gave them a couple hours to themselves before they had to face the whole team again. 

 

He sat down at his desk, and Melinda leaned against it. 

 

“What are we going to say to them?” She asked. 

 

“That we’re back to stay. That we’re working with Agent Weaver and uniting the two SHIELDs. That we’re in charge again.” 

 

“What if they don’t want us to lead them again?” She questioned. “What if they don’t believe in us anymore?”

 

“Then we’ll make them.” He answered. “Melinda, I know the situation looks bleak right now. But I’m not giving up. Not now. Not ever. And you can’t either.”

 

“They won’t want me here.” She told him. “How can they? Knowing what I did?”

 

“They do want you here. They respect you. They love you. You are just as much a part of this team, of this family, as anyone else. You did what you had to do. They know that. They understand.”

 

“How can any of them understand?” She argued. “They weren’t there. I’m a monster.”

 

“Stop it.” He stood up. “Listen to me, Melinda. You are not a monster. I’m tired of hearing you insist that you are. You’re not a monster! You’re not a murderer! No one thinks you are, nor should they! Knock it off!”

 

He was yelling by the end of it. And she was on the verge of tears. He almost felt bad for upsetting her. But she needed to hear that. He remembered how low she had been after Bahrain, and she was almost back there again. He wasn’t going to let that happen. 

 

“I’m sorry.” She started to cry.

 

“It’s okay, honey.” He sat back down and pulled her in his lap. 

 

She cuddled up against him and pressed a kiss to his temple before settling her face against his neck. For a long time he just held her there. And if he could have held her there forever, he would have. 

 

And I will hold, I’ll hold on to you 

No matter what this world will throw 

It won’t shake me loose 

 

Awhile later, Phil was startled by the door opening. He looked up to see Hunter and Fitz walk in. 

 

“Is it noon already?” He asked. 

 

“It’s about a quarter til.” Fitz answered. “We were just anxious to know what’s going on.”

 

“Is she alright?” Hunter gestured toward Melinda, who was still curled up on his lap. She had yet to acknowledge either of them. 

 

“She’ll be okay.” He told them, running his hand through her hair. “She’s had a really rough time of it the last few days. She got hurt yesterday.”

 

“I heard Skye quaked her.” Hunter said. Phil raised an eyebrow, annoyed that he knew that. “What? Simmons was crying about it to Bobbi last night. She’s really worried about Skye.”

 

“We all are.” Phil replied.

 

“But Simmons especially.” Fitz told them. “She’s devastated. She’s having a really hard time holding it together. She really loves Skye.”

 

“I know.” Phil nodded. “I think we all need to keep an eye on her. Be nice to her.”

 

Fitz nodded. Hunter looked at Melinda again, who still hadn’t moved.

 

“No, really, is she okay?” He asked. “I don’t think she’s moved at all since I walked in here.”

 

“I can get up and kill you, if you want.” Melinda spoke up. It was amazing how threatening she still sounded, even when she was curled up in his lap like a kitten. 

 

“No need.” Hunter threw his hands up in surrender. “You stay like that however long you like.”

 

“I will.”

 

“Wait, so are you two like a thing now?” Fitz asked. 

 

“They have been for a minute, mate.” Hunter replied. 

 

“And no one told me? Who knows?”

 

“Just me, Bobbi, Simmons, and I think Skye. And now you, of course.” He turned back to Phil and Melinda. “But unless you want everyone else to know, you might want to get up soon.”

 

Melinda rolled her eyes, but got up and sat on the desk. A few minutes later, the others started to file in. Phil explained the situation to them and told them what he wanted them to do, and to be ready to leave right away if Weaver called for backup. 

 

After everyone left, Melinda stayed in his office.

 

“Should I get back to work?” She asked. 

 

“You can help me.” He told her. “You can even curl up in my lap again if you like.” 

 

“Are you sure? I don’t want to bother you.”

 

“You could never bother me, sweetheart.” He replied. “Come here.” 

 

She gave a small smile and walked back over to his chair, cuddling back up with him. 

 

“Are we just gonna work like this now?” Melinda asked.

 

“Why not?” He kissed her. “I’ll hold you here like this whenever I can. And no matter happens in the next few days, nothing could ever make me let you go. I want to hold you here forever.”

 

“Then do it.”

 

I’ll reach my hands out in the dark and 

Wait for yours to interlock 

I’ll wait for you, I’ll wait for you 

 

That night, Phil took Melinda up to his bunk. They still hadn’t heard from Weaver, so things were either going very bad or very well. He would keep his phone turned all the way up in case she called for backup, but for now, he was trying not to worry about it.

 

He kissed Melinda passionately. She was exactly what he needed to take his mind off things. She reached up and pushed his jacket off his shoulders while he took off her shirt. 

 

When they were naked, he guided her back to the bed and made love to her. It was the happiest he had seen her in several days. 

 

When they finished, he rolled off her and took her in his arms. It made him sad that the only time he could make her happy anymore was when he was fucking her. He had a hard time even making her laugh now. She hardly ever smiled anymore. She just looked sad.

 

Phil took her hand and kissed it softly. 

 

“I love you.” He told her. Tears started to well up in her eyes. “What’s wrong, honey?”

 

“I’m sorry.” She replied. “You have enough to deal with. You shouldn’t need to worry about taking care of me.”

 

“I don’t mind, Melinda.”

 

“I’m becoming a burden to you.” 

 

“You could never be a burden, love.” He assured her. “I want to take care of you.”

 

Melinda ran a finger down his scar, crying.

 

“It’s alright, Melinda.” He comforted her. “I love you.”

 

“I love you too.”

 

‘Cause I’m not givin’ up

I’m not givin’ up, givin’ up, no, not yet

Even when I’m down on my last breath 

Even when they say there’s nothin’ left 

So don’t give up on

 

The next afternoon, they got a call from Weaver. Things were escalating with the Inhumans, and she needed backup. This call had been basically inevitable, and they had been preparing for it the whole time. But that didn’t make it any less worrying. 

 

The message was brief and didn’t really contain any details. So Phil had no idea what to expect, except for a ship full of Inhumans, led by Skye’s extremely hostile mother. 

 

Phil boarded the quinjet with the rest of the team. There were two more quinjets being loaded with agents and gear. They weren’t sure how much backup they would need, and it was better to be safe than sorry. Or dead. 

 

Phil sat down in the cockpit with Melinda.

 

“You can go sit with the team, you know.” She said as he sat down.

 

“I could.” He replied. “But they already know their orders. They know what to do when we land. I think you need me more right now.”

 

“I’ll be fine, Phil.” She insisted. 

 

“I know you will. But I still want to be with you.”

 

“Thanks.” She reached over and grabbed his hand. 

 

“We’re gonna be fine.” He told her. “We’ll fix this. We’ll save Weaver and her team. And hopefully, we’ll get Skye back.” 

 

I’m not givin’ up 

I’m not givin’ up, givin’ up, no, not me

Even when nobody else believes

I’m not goin’ down that easily

So don’t give up on me

 

The battle was intense. Things were messy. Jiaying tried to kill Skye, then Cal killed Jiaying to save her. Jiaying was dead though, and so was Gordon. The SHIELD team suffered no major casualties. But things had still gotten messier than expected. 

 

Phil lost his left hand. He had caught a Terrigen crystal to stop it from exploding and killing everyone on the ship who wasn’t an Inhuman, but he started to turn to stone. Mack cut his arm off. 

 

After the battle, he was rushed back to base for surgery. When he woke up, he had no clue what to do. There wasn’t a lot he could do at the moment, except wonder about what the future might hold. 

 

What would happen next? How was he going to learn to function with one arm? How long would it take? What about the future of SHIELD? Its leadership? The team? What was going to happen now? He knew better than to think the chaos would end. 

 

But then the door to the med bay opened, and in walked the one thing he knew he would always have, no matter what happened next. Melinda.

 

 I will fight, I will fight for you

I always do until my heart is black and blue

 

“Oh my God, Phil,” Melinda walked over to him, tears in her eyes. “I-,” she sighed. “I don’t even know what to say.”

 

“Come here, love.” He motioned with his good arm for her to lie down next to him. She did.

 

“I’m so sorry.” She cried, laying her head on his shoulder. “I’m so sorry.”

 

“I’ll be alright.” He reassured her. “We’ll make it alright. You make me alright.”

 

He didn’t really know that everything would be alright. But his words were only a partial lie. Because no matter what, she would still make him alright. She always did. 

 

“Are you gonna leave SHIELD?” She asked.

 

“No. Of course not.” He promised. “I will never leave SHIELD. I will never stop fighting for this team. For you. No matter what.”

Chapter Text

Phil’s POV:

Tell me somethin’ girl 

Are you happy in this modern world?

Or do you need more?

Is there somethin’ else you’re searchin’ for? 

 

Phil laid there with Melinda in his arms. Well, arm. Neither of them said anything. He just held her in silence while she cried. He wanted to cry too, but he knew he had to keep it together. For her sake. 

 

She was just so damn sad all the time. He wanted to make her happy again. He really didn’t know how.

 

“Melinda,” He said softly. “I really will be fine.”

 

She didn’t reply.

 

“Are you happy, love?” He asked. 

 

“With you? Of course. I love you.”

 

“Then why can’t I ever seem to make you happy?” He questioned. “What is it you want? What are you searching for that I’m not giving you?”

 

“Nothing.” She insisted. “I just want you.”

 

“Then why are you so sad all the time? You always seem to be upset about something. I know you’re going through a lot right now, but I want to help you. I just want you to be happy, Melinda.”

 

“I’m just scared.” She admitted. “Scared I’ll lose you. Scared one day I’ll wake up and you won’t be there anymore. Won’t love me anymore. That you’ll get tired of me and leave like everyone else.”

 

“You don’t need to be scared of that, sweetheart.” He reassured her. “I’ll never get tired of you. I’ll never leave you. I’ll always love you. I promise.”

 

I’m fallin’ 

In all the good times 

I find myself longing for change 

And in the bad times, I fear myself 

 

A few weeks passed. Melinda seemed a little happier. She wasn’t convinced she was a monster now, anyway. She had also reconnected with Andrew. Which Phil had mixed feelings about. He hadn’t seen any proof yet that there was anything romantic going on between them, but he also suspected they both still loved each other. He was starting to fear she might leave him at some point, and try to get back together with Andrew. But he held on to hope that that would never happen. 

 

Phil was recovering from his injury well. It was still difficult getting used to life with one hand, but he was up and around again. And Fitz had fitted him for the state of the art prosthetic he was working on. Although Fitz also had something else on his mind. Everyone did.

 

Simmons had gone missing. She had been swallowed by the monolith. And they’d had absolutely no luck figuring out what happened to her. 

 

Skye was devastated. She’d just returned to her girlfriend only for her to immediately disappear. She was focused on her training, but she was a little distracted. Everyone was.

 

Phil and Melinda were sitting on the couch watching a movie one night, pretending everything was going fine. And it almost was. They were happy as a couple. But he couldn’t let himself get too comfortable. Mostly because he knew she wouldn’t get too comfortable. She was fine now, but she feared she could get scared and run at any moment. And he didn’t know where he would be without her. 

 

Melinda’s POV:

Tell me something, boy 

Aren’t you tired tryna fill that void?

Or do you need more?

Ain’t it hard keepin’ it so hardcore? 

 

The next morning, Melinda was in Phil’s room, helping him get dressed. Her heart broke for him. He was in so much pain, and he was struggling so much. But he only ever showed it when he was alone with her. 

 

“Thank you.” He told her when she finished buttoning his shirt. She kissed him.

 

“You’re welcome.”

 

She followed him down to his office. She would have to head downstairs for her training session with Skye, or Daisy, as she wanted to be called now, but she could stay with Phil for a little while.

 

She pulled over a chair and sat down beside him. She wondered how happy he really was. He said he was happy here. With the team. With her. But she wondered. He was going through a lot right now. Weren’t there times where he just wanted to drop everything and get away from it all?

 

She wondered how he stayed strong for the team. How he could still find the strength and the energy to lead the team now, despite everything. Agent Weaver had left, so it really was just him in charge again. Didn’t he get tired of it? He hardly ever got a moment to rest. And she could tell he needed one. Bad.

 

I’m fallin’

In all the good times 

I find myself longing for change 

And, in the bad times, I fear myself 

 

Melinda felt like she was falling apart. She was keeping it together for Phil, but she wasn’t sure how long she could continue without breaking. He needed her to be strong right now, but it was hard. Even though things seemed to be getting better, she couldn’t help but feel like they really weren’t.

 

Phil knew she had been talking to Andrew again. He was okay with it. But he didn’t know that Andrew had invited her to take a vacation to Maui with him for a couple weeks. 

 

Part of her wanted to go. It might be good for her to get away from base for awhile. And it would be nice to spend some time with Andrew again. 

 

But part of her didn’t want to. Phil needed her here. Besides, she feared that somewhere deep down, she might still love Andrew. What would happen if she left and fell in love with him again? What if she didn’t want to come back? She couldn’t do that to Phil. He needed her too much. She needed him too much. She just couldn’t risk it. 

 

I’m off the deep end, watch as I dive in 

I’ll never meet the ground

Crash through the surface where they can’t hurt us

We’re far from the shallow now 

 

That night, Melinda laid next to Phil in silence, lost in her own thoughts and worries. It was difficult to pretend everything was fine when it so clearly wasn’t. She was trying her best for him, but she just couldn’t do it anymore.

 

“What’s on your mind, Melinda?” He asked, seeming to sense her worries. “Are you alright?”

 

“How could I possibly be alright, Phil?” She snapped. “Look, I’ve been trying my best to pretend that I’m happy and that everything is fine. I’ve been trying to stay strong and hold it together for your sake. But how the hell could I be fine? Everything is a disaster. You lost your arm, we very nearly lost SHIELD for good, and now Simmons has been swallowed by a giant rock, possibly even killed. How can we sit here and pretend that everything is fine?”

 

“I-I’m sorry.” He replied. He paused and opened his mouth to say something else, but ended up just closing it again. 

 

“I almost lost you again.” She started to cry. “I can’t lose you. I’ve already lost everything else.”

 

“I’m sorry, love.” He kissed her softly. Neither of them said anything else.

 

She felt awful for flipping out on him like that, but she just couldn’t hold it in any longer. Nothing was alright. And she had no idea how anything could ever be alright again.



Phil’s POV:

In the shallow

In the shallow

In the shallow

We’re far from the shallow now 

 

Phil knew Melinda was right. They couldn’t pretend everything was alright. But he also knew they couldn’t let what they had slip through their fingers. They would work this out. And things would get better. They had to.

 

But how? He couldn’t just magically make Simmons come back through the monolith. He couldn’t magically make the team feel whole again. And even if he could, he knew there was so much more to this than that. 

 

He could have died. If Mack hadn’t cut off his arm he would have. He would recover from his injury, but he knew there was no way Melinda would recover from losing him again. She hadn’t even recovered yet from almost losing him.

 

He could promise her that he would never leave her of his own free will. But he couldn’t promise her that he wouldn’t die. She would likely come close to losing him again many times in the future. And in the end, it seemed inevitable that she would lose him again for good. He was living on borrowed time. Time that was bound to run out before hers did. 

 

Phil held her closer, trying to push his thoughts away. All he could do now was hold her tight and hope she wouldn’t lose him again anytime soon. 

 

Melinda’s POV:

I’m off the deep end, watch as I dive in

I’ll never meet the ground 

Crash through the surface where they can’t hurt us

We’re far from the shallow now 

 

The next day, she got another call from Andrew. 

 

“Hello?” She answered.

 

“Melinda, how are you doing?” He asked.

 

“I’m okay.” She lied. “How are you?”

 

“I’m doing good.” He told her. “Have you thought anymore about Maui?”

 

“I have. I’d like to go.” 

 

“Really? That’s wonderful, Melinda. I’ll start making reservations.”

 

“I can’t wait.” 

 

She hung up the phone and sighed. Why the hell was she leaving? She loved Phil so much. But she couldn’t stay here right now. She just couldn’t. 

 

Phil’s POV:

In the shallow 

In the shallow

In the shallow

We’re far from the shallow now 

 

Phil heard a knock at his office door.

 

“Come in.” He called. Melinda walked in, looking nervous. “Is something wrong, honey?”

 

“Yeah.” She walked over to him, but didn’t sit down. “I’d like to take a vacation. Andrew invited me to go to Maui with him, and I’d like to go. Is that okay?”

 

“Oh, um, of course.” He felt like he’d been punched in the gut. But he couldn’t tell her no. “I’ll get you the paperwork.”

 

“Thank you.” She smiled softly. 

 

He opened his drawer and grabbed the leave papers for her to fill out. 

 

“Melinda, um, what does this mean for us?” He asked as he handed her the papers.

 

“I don’t know.” She admitted. “Andrew wanted to take an opportunity to reconnect with me. And I think I just need a break. But I’ll be back in a couple of weeks.”

 

“Take however much time you need.” He told her. “Just come back.”

 

“I will.” 

 

As Melinda walked out the door, Phil hoped she meant that. Because he has no idea what he would do without her.

Chapter Text

I’ve missed your calls for months it seems

Don’t realize how mean I can be

‘Cause I can sometimes treat the people 

That I love like jewelry

 

Melinda got on the plane home from Maui. Except she wasn’t really sure where she was going to go when she landed. Her flight was to Los Angeles. She might stay there for a few days. Maybe she could go stay with her dad in Arizona for awhile. 

 

She sat down on the plane and looked out the window. Things hadn’t worked out between her and Andrew. They’d had a wonderful time in Maui, but they knew they would never be the same couple they used to be. Too much had changed. And her heart belonged to someone else now.

 

“Look, Melinda, these last couple of weeks have been amazing.” Andrew had told her the morning before they left. “And at first, I really thought there might still be some kind of future for us. But as the days have gone by, I’ve realized there isn’t. You’re in love with Phil.”

 

“I’m sorry.” 

 

“Don’t apologize for that.” He replied. “I’m perfectly fine with it. You love him and he loves you. You make each other happy. And I’m happy for you. Phil is a great guy, and I know he’ll take care of you. He always has. He’s one of the few people I would trust with you. You should go back to him.”

 

Melinda had nodded, but she knew she couldn’t go back. She was too afraid. She was afraid to let Phil love her. She was afraid of hurting him. She’d already hurt him by leaving. How could she risk going back and hurting him more?

 

Melinda spent the next week staying at a hotel in Los Angeles. It was lonely, but she didn’t know where else to go. Phil called and texted several times each day, but she hadn’t answered any of them. He was worried about her. About their future.

 

She listened to the most recent voicemail he had left her.

 

“Melinda, you should have been back a week ago.” He said. “Look, I understand if you’ve changed your mind about coming back. I understand if you’ve decided that you don’t want to be with me. I understand if you’ve realized you don’t love me. I just need to know. Please call me back. I love you.”

 

She started to cry. She knew she should call him back, but she couldn’t. She didn’t know what she would say. 

 

Melinda knew this was a cruel thing to do to him. That this was hurting him. But if she went back, she’d only ever hurt him more. She hurt everyone she loved. Hurting people was the only thing she was good at. 

 

‘Cause I can change my mind each day

I didn’t mean to try you on

But I still know your birthday

And your mother’s favorite song 

 

The next morning, she woke up to another voicemail from Phil. 

 

“Melinda, please call me back.” He begged. “I’m worried about you. I need to know what’s going on. Are you coming back? Did you change your mind about us? Did you change your mind about loving me? Seriously, Melinda, what am I to you? What was I ever to you? Just someone to lead on until you got bored? Everything you said to me, about how much you needed me, how much I mean to you, how much you loved me, did you ever mean any of it? Did you ever seriously want to be with me, or was I just someone for you to try on? Whatever the answer, just know that I meant every word I said to you. You mean everything to me. I need you. I love you.”

 

She started crying again. He thought she had changed her mind about loving him. She hadn’t. She never could. But she had changed her mind about being with him. Not because she didn’t want to be with him. But because in the end, that would be best for him. He didn’t realize it yet, but someday he would understand that he’s better off without her. That his life will be better without her in it to fuck everything up.

 

Still, the thought of never being with him again hurt. She had been his best friend for almost thirty years. She had loved him for almost thirty years. She knew him better than anyone else. She had celebrated every birthday with him. She had been there for him when his mother died, she had gone to her funeral. She knew details about his life and his childhood that no one else did. She had been by his side day in and day out for thirty years. And now she may never see him again.

 

It hurt like hell, but she tried to comfort herself with the thought that it would be better for both of them. 

 

So I’m sorry to my unknown lover

Sorry that I can’t believe

That anybody ever really

Starts to fall in love with me

 

That morning, Melinda called her dad and told him she wanted to come stay with him for a few weeks. He said he’d be thrilled to have her company. She hadn’t seen him in quite awhile. Working for SHIELD didn’t exactly allow a lot of time for trips home. She booked a flight to Phoenix for the next day. 

 

She spent most of the rest of the day in the hotel room, getting several new texts from Phil, and several more phone calls that she didn’t answer. She listened to his voicemails and read his texts. He kept asking why she didn’t love him anymore. And asking her to come home. Or at least call him back.

 

It broke her heart that he didn’t know she still loved him. He didn’t know if she had ever loved him. She did. She loved him so fucking much. She always had. 

 

But she could never make herself believe that he really loved her. That he wasn’t going to get tired of her one day and leave her. She was too insecure. So instead, she left him. 

 

Sorry to my unknown lover

Sorry I could be so blind 

Didn’t mean to leave you 

And all of the things that we had behind 

 

The next day, Melinda’s father picked her up at the airport. 

 

“Mellie,” he greeted her with a hug. “It’s so good to see you.”

 

“It’s good to see you too.”

 

“So what brings you out here?” He asked. “Finally taking a vacation?”

 

“It’s a long story.” She shrugged. 

 

They sat mostly in silence on the drive to his retirement community. Her phone kept buzzing. 

 

“Are you gonna answer that?” Her dad asked at one point.

 

She didn’t respond. She took out her phone and saw several missed calls and unread messages from Phil. But she just turned her phone on silent. 

 

That evening, when she settled into her father’s spare bedroom, she looked through the messages. She started to cry.

 

Phil loved her so much. How could she not have seen it? How could she have been so blind? He loved her. And she had left and ruined everything. In her attempt to avoid hurting him, she had just hurt him more. 

 

She had never meant to hurt him. She had never meant to leave him and destroy what they had together. But she did. And she didn’t think she could ever fix that. 

 

I run away when things are good

And never really understood 

The way you laid your eyes on me

In ways that no one ever could 

 

Melinda laid down on the bed and sobbed into the pillow. How could she have fucked this up so badly? Phil needed her. He loved her. And she had left. 

 

She had something good with him. Something really good. And she ran away and ruined it. Like she ruined everything. 

 

Why couldn’t she have just realized how much he loved her? Why did she have to be so damn insecure? Why was she so afraid of being loved? Why was she so convinced he was going to get sick of her or start to hate her? 

 

He had loved her so much, completely unconditionally. Even when she was at her lowest. Even when she pushed him away. He still loved her. 

 

She thought about the way he looked at her. His eyes filled with love. And sometimes pain and sadness. Like he wanted to take all her hurt away and make her happy. No one had ever looked at her that way before. No one else ever could. No one else could ever love her like he did. 

 

And so it seems I broke your heart 

My ignorance has struck again

I failed to see it from the start 

And tore you open ‘til the end 

 

Eventually, Melinda heard a knock at the door. She ignored it. 

 

“Mellie, are you okay?” He called, knocking again. “Can I come in?”

 

She still didn’t reply, but he came in anyway. He sat down beside her and started rubbing her back, like he used to when she was little. 

 

“What’s wrong, Mellie?” He asked softly.

 

“He loved me.” Melinda cried. “And just didn’t understand. I left and I ruined everything.”

 

“Who?”

 

“Phil.” She told him. “He really loved me. And he said he always would. But I was too clueless to realize he meant it. I just never understood. So I left and broke his heart. I ruined everything I had with him.”

 

“Come here, Mellie,” he pulled her into a sitting position and wrapped his arms around her. For a few minutes, he just let her cry into his shoulder. 

 

Suddenly, her phone buzzed on the bed beside her. It was Phil. Her dad picked it up and handed it to her.

 

“Answer it, Mellie.” He told her. “Tell him how you feel.”

 

She shook her head and pressed decline.

 

“I can’t.” She sat the phone down again. “I’m sorry.”

 

And I’m sorry to my unknown lover

Sorry that I can’t believe

That anybody ever really

Starts to fall in love with me

 

Over the next few days, Melinda’s father tried several times to convince her to go back to Phil. Or at least call him back. She kept telling him that she couldn’t go back. She couldn’t be with Phil right now. And besides, she needed a break from SHIELD. He didn’t seem to be buying any of it, but as the days went on, he badgered her less and less about it. 

 

Phil still called and texted her all the time. She listened to his voicemails and read his texts and cried. He really didn’t know that she loved him. He wasn’t sure if she ever really had. He didn’t know what her intentions were now or what they had ever been. With every passing message, he sounded more and more hurt. More upset with her. 

 

She wanted to call him back. Apologize. She had never wanted to hurt him. She loved him. She loved him more than she had ever loved anyone. More than she knew she could love anyone. But she could never make herself believe that he loved her. She was too insecure to believe that he would stay with her. So she was too insecure to stay. 



Sorry to my unknown lover 

Sorry I could be so blind 

Didn’t mean to leave you 

And all of the things that we had behind 

 

Melinda laid in bed crying, for the third night in a row. She had gotten another voicemail from Phil.

 

“Melinda, I’m not asking you to come back.” He said. “You clearly don’t want to. And I can’t make you. If you think you’ll be happier away from SHIELD, away from me, then that’s okay with me. All I want is for you to be happy. I just need to know why. Why did you leave? What did I do? Why did you stop loving me? Can you at least call me back and tell me? Please, at least let me have closure.”

 

She sobbed into her pillow after she heard it. It had been twenty minutes and she was still sobbing. This was becoming normal for her after she listened to his voicemails. 

 

She hadn’t wanted to leave him. She wasn’t even entirely sure why she had left. She just felt like she couldn’t stay with him anymore. She hadn’t meant to run away and abandon him. She hadn’t meant to destroy everything she’d been dreaming about for almost thirty years. She just couldn’t stay there anymore.

 

And someone will love you

Someone will love you 

Someone will love you 

But someone isn’t me 

 

Melinda desperately wanted to go back to Phil. To hold him in her arms. To kiss him. To love him. She wanted to be with him forever. To be by his side day in day out, through thick and thin, for better or worse. She wanted to be able to love him. Because she did love him.

 

But she was always going to do more harm than good. She was never going to be able to love him like she should. She wasn’t meant for that. That just wasn’t who she was. Maybe she used to be, but that woman died in Bahrain. This broken shell was all that was left of her. And this haunted, hollowed out woman was never going to be able to love anyone like she wanted to. Least of all Phil. So she had to stay away. 

 

Someone will love you

Someone will love you

Someone will love you

But someone isn’t me 

 

Melinda knew Phil would find someone else. Someone who deserved him. Someone who could love him in ways she couldn’t. Someone who wasn’t broken beyond repair. 

 

As much as it broke her heart to imagine him moving on with someone new, she wanted him to. There was someone else out there for him. Someone else who would love him. Someone he would be happy with. He deserved someone like that. And she wasn’t that someone no matter how much she wished she could be. 

 

Sorry to my unknown lover 

Sorry that I can’t believe 

That anybody ever really

Starts to fall in love with me 

 

Melinda cried herself to sleep. In her dreams, she was back at the Playground. Back with Phil. She was in is bunk, standing in front of him in his office. 

 

“I’m so glad you’re back, love.” Phil told her, pulling her into his arms. “I missed you so much.”

 

“I missed you too.” She replied, clinging to him tightly. “I love you. I never wanted to leave.”

 

“Then why did you?”

 

“Because I can’t let myself believe that you love me.”

 

“But I do love you. You mean everything to me.”

 

“I know.” She said sadly. “But someday you won’t. Someday I’ll hurt you. And you’ll realize what a monster I am and you’ll leave. I don’t want to do that to you. I don’t want to hurt you.”

 

“But you hurt me when you left.”

 

“I know. And I’m sorry. But I’ll only hurt you more if I stay.”

 

Sorry to my unknown lover 

Sorry I could be so blind

Didn’t mean to leave you 

And all of the things that we had behind 

 

Melinda backed away from him and started to walk away

 

“No. Sweetheart, please don’t leave.” Phil grabbed her arm and turned her around to face him. There were tears in his eyes. “I love you. I can’t do this without you.”

 

“I don’t want to go.” She pulled her arm from his grip. “But I have to. You’ll be better off without me here to ruin everything.”

 

“You can’t ruin everything more than you already have.” He snapped. “You can’t possibly hurt me more than you already have.”

 

“I can.” She replied. “And I will.”

 

“I’ll never forgive you if you leave.” 

 

“I don’t need you to forgive me. I just need you to know I never wanted to hurt you. And that I love you.” 

 

“You don’t love me.” Phil accused. “You never did. You’re not capable of loving anyone. You’re a cold, heartless monster. But I still love you.” 

 

She woke up in tears.

 

And someone will love you 

Someone will love you 

Someone will love you 

But someone isn’t me 

 

Melinda spent the next few days going through the motions. Her father kept her busy, trying to keep her mind off Phil. She helped him cook and clean. She went to the store with him. He even took her golfing. But nothing worked. 

 

Phil kept calling and texting. And his messages always broke her heart. But then one day, she got one that completely shattered her. 

 

“Melinda, I can’t do this anymore.” He told her. “This will be my last phone call. I can’t afford to keep spending so much time doing this. You’re never going to answer, and I have bigger issues to deal with. If you ever decide to call me, I’ll pick up. If you ever want to come back, I’ll welcome you with open arms. I love you and I always will. But I’m done begging. I hope that wherever you are, you’re happy. All I ever wanted was to make you happy. I’m sorry that I never could. Goodbye, love.”

 

And someone will love you 

Someone will love you 

Someone will love you 

But someone isn’t me 

 

It was the middle of the afternoon when Melinda heard the voicemail. She was out playing golf with her father, who had gone inside the clubhouse to go to the bathroom. She was bawling when he came back outside.

 

“Mellie, what’s wrong?” He asked, sitting down beside her. 

 

“Can we go back home, now?” She requested.

 

“Of course.” 

 

They drove back in silence. She didn’t want to tell him about the voicemail. She didn’t want to talk about Phil.

 

But she couldn’t stop thinking about him. And she couldn’t stop crying. She went to her room and curled up in bed, hoping she would cry herself to sleep eventually.

 

This was what Melinda had wanted. She had wanted Phil to let her go. To move on from her. To accept that she would never be able to love him like he needed her to. But now he had. And it hurt like hell. 

Chapter Text

I’m going under and this time I fear there’s no one to save me

This all or nothing really got a way of driving me crazy

 

Phil hung up the phone and cried. He wanted to keep calling Melinda until she finally called him back. But he knew it was pointless. She was never going to call him back. She didn’t love him anymore. Maybe she never really did. 

 

He went back to his paperwork, looking through some files on Fitz’s investigation into the monolith that swallowed Simmons. Fitz had come up with some theories as to what had happened to her, but they still had no idea what the monolith had really done. 

 

Fitz and Skye, or Daisy, as she now wanted to be called, were obsessed with finding Simmons. Phil wanted to find her just as much as everyone else did, but he found himself constantly distracted. 

 

He couldn’t stop thinking about Melinda. He desperately wished she was there. He needed her. She had promised she would come back, but she never did. And he felt completely lost without her. 

 

He was struggling to hold the morale of the team together. Simmons was missing. Ward was still out there somewhere doing god knows what. Hunter was obsessed with finding him and getting revenge for what he did to Bobbi. Bobbi was severely injured and wouldn’t be able to return to the field for quite awhile. 

 

It was his job to hold the team together. But he couldn’t. He could barely even hold himself together. He had lost his arm. He had lost his confidence as a leader. He felt like he was going crazy. Like he was slowly breaking down, and it was only a matter of time until he shattered entirely. 

 

The last time he felt like this, he had Melinda there to help him. To hold him together. To save him from himself. But she had run off. She was gone. And there was no one there to save him this time. 

 

I need somebody to heal, somebody to know

Somebody to have, somebody to hold 

It’s easy to say, but it’s never the same

I guess I kinda liked the way you numbed all the pain

 

Phil loved her so much. He needed her. He thought she needed him. She seemed so sad and hurt. She seemed so broken. And he thought he could be the one to put her back together. He wanted to be the one to put her back together. He thought she wanted that too. 

 

But apparently he thought wrong. He didn’t know what she wanted. He didn’t know anything. Except that he loved her and he needed her to come back. 

 

She had been by his side for almost thirty years. She knew him better than anyone. And he knew her better than anyone. He thought that she might really be his. That they might even be together forever. He should have known better. 

 

As much as he wanted to have her, he knew now that she would never really be his. He would never get to hold her, or kiss her, or love her again. She would never love him again. 

 

She was never going to come back and be with him again. She wasn’t going to hold him. She wasn’t going to numb his pain and make all his problems go away. She was gone forever. And it was so hard to accept. 



Now the day bleeds into nightfall 

And you’re not here to get me through it all

I let my guard down and then you pulled the rug 

I was getting kinda used to being someone you loved

 

That night, Phil walked back to his bunk alone, like he had every night since Melinda left. And every passing night felt more and more lonely. 

 

He crawled into his cold, empty bed, that had once felt warm and comfortable. He closed his eyes and fell into an uneasy sleep. His dreams were plagued by terrifying visions of what could happen to his team. What could be happening to Simmons. What could be happening to Melinda. 

 

He woke up in a cold sweat. He desperately wished Melinda was here next to him. To comfort him, and tell him that everything would be alright. He could hardly get through the night without her. He could hardly get through the day without her either. In fact, it all started to bleed together as he wandered around in a haze like a lost child. 

 

Phil had always feared deep down that Melinda didn’t really love him. That she would eventually get scared and run. But he had never let himself believe that could really happen. He thought she needed him too much. He thought she loved him too much. 

 

And just when he was starting to feel like this was going to work. Starting to let his guard down with her. Starting to get used to her loving him. She disappeared into thin air, with only a long broken promise of her return for him to hold on to. 

 

I’m going under, and this time I fear there’s no one to turn to

This all or nothing way of loving got me sleeping without you 

 

Phil tried to fall back asleep. But he couldn’t. He felt like he was going insane. Like he was lost and he could never find his way again. He hadn’t felt this bad since he was carving alien maps into the walls. 

 

But this time was almost worse. Because this time, he didn’t have Melinda to turn to. To be there for him. To get him through the insanity of everything. He was alone.

 

Maybe it was his own fault. Maybe he had done something to make her want to run away. To leave him behind and forget he ever existed. 

 

She had always seemed afraid to be with him. Afraid of being loved by him. Afraid to love him. Maybe he had just been too much for her. Maybe he had scared her away. 

 

He hated the thought. But it kept occurring to him. He could never come up with another explanation as to why she had run away so suddenly. She had said she loved him, and she seemed to mean it. But he was too much for her to handle, so she had to leave. He was the reason she had stopped loving him. And now he was stuck here alone, trying to sleep without her. 

 

Now, I need somebody to know, somebody to hear 

Somebody to have, just to know how it feels

It’s easy to say, but it’s never the same

I guess I kinda like the way you help me escape

 

Phil got up the next morning for another day of pain and emptiness. Nothing had changed. Everything was still fear and chaos. There were so many problems on their hands and they were no closer to solving any of them. 

 

He sat in his office, distracted. He couldn’t focus on anything. All he could think about was how much he needed Melinda. He needed to have her here. To help him. She would listen to his problems and he would listen to hers. They would help each other. Like he had always wanted them to. 

 

She would take away all the pain. Fill the hole she’d left inside him. She would help him escape from his troubles. Like she always had before. Like he thought she always would. 

 

Now the day bleeds into nightfall

And you’re not here to get me through it all 

I let my guard down and then you pulled the rug

I was getting kinda used to being someone you loved 

 

Phil sat in his office, trying to focus on the problems at hand. But he kept looking at his phone, hoping that Melinda had called or texted him back. He knew she wouldn’t. He knew it was pointless to hope. But he had to hold on to hope. Or he might just give up.

 

Without her, the numbing days and lonely nights all bled together. Without her, he could hardly function. He needed her to be here. To get him through all of this. 

 

He had already lost his left hand. And without her, he’d lost his right hand too. If she were here, he would have been able to bear the pain of losing his left. But there was nothing that could be done to numb the pain of losing his right. 

 

He had trusted her for years. He had loved her for years. They were finally building the relationship they both wanted. It seemed strange and hard to believe at first. But he was starting to get used to being someone she loved. 

 

But apparently it was all a lie. Because she left him when he was at his lowest point. He trusted her. He let his guard down. And she just up and left, like she had never cared about him at all.

 

And I tend to close my eyes when it hurts sometimes 

I fall into your arms

I’ll be safe in your sound til I come back around 

 

Phil went to bed that night, still thinking about Melinda. When he fell asleep, he dreamed of her. He dreamed that she was here. That she was still with him. That she still loved him.

 

She was lying in bed with him, curled up in his arms, holding onto him tightly. 

 

“I love you so much, sweetheart.” He whispered, planting a soft kiss in her hair. 

 

“I love you too.” She replied. 

 

“Please, never leave me again.” He begged.

 

“I won’t. I promise.”

 

She kissed him, and he kissed her back, with no intention of letting go. 

 

He felt so safe with her here. So grounded. So loved. Like everything was going to be alright. 

 

But the feeling faded when he opened his eyes and she was gone. 

 

For now, the day bleeds into nightfall

And you’re not here to get me through it all

I let my guard down and then you pulled the rug 

I was getting kinda used to being someone you loved 

 

It was still the middle of the night when Phil woke up. But he couldn’t fall back asleep. Because Melinda wasn’t there with him. And the peace and love he’d felt with her in his arms had faded away. 

 

The night bled into the day. Before he knew it, he was getting ready for another day of chaos. He knew everything going on was important, but without her there, he couldn’t bring himself to care. 

 

He loved her so much. He always had and he always would. How could he think about anything else? He loved her and she was gone. Because she didn’t love him back. 

 

But now the day bleeds into nightfall 

And you’re not here to get me through it all

I let my guard down and then you pulled the rug 

I was getting kinda used to being someone you loved 

 

“Coulson, you need to snap out of it.” Daisy snapped at him that afternoon. “I know you love May. And I know you’re worried about her. I know that you’re hurt and upset. But we have real problems to deal with. You’re not the only one who's lost someone they love.”

 

“I know.” Phil sighed. “I’m sorry. I know I’ve been distracted since May left. I know I should be focusing on finding Ward, and taking down Hydra, and finding Simmons. I know you’re worried about her. I know you love her. I’m worried about her too. We all are. Finding her should be my first priority right now. I just…,”

 

“I know.” She replied sympathetically. “I wish May was here too. Although for different reasons, obviously.”

 

“And I wish Simmons were here.” He gave a small smile. “Again, for different reasons, obviously.” 

 

“I’m gonna head down to the lab and see how Fitz’s latest theory is going.” She told him. “You should come with me.”

 

Phil nodded and followed her out the door.

 

I let my guard down and then you pulled the rug

I was getting kinda used to being someone you loved

 

Phil went through the day trying to keep his focus on the issues at hand. And he was mostly successful. But as soon as he was left alone, his mind drifted back to Melinda. He couldn’t help it.

 

Everytime he checked his phone, he hoped that he would see a message from her, or a missed call. But he never did. And he knew deep down that he never would.

 

She had told him she loved him. And he believed it. Because he had loved her for so many years. He had even started getting used to the idea that she loved him back. He thought she really meant everything she said to him. 

 

But she didn’t. She couldn’t have. Because she ran away with no explanation when he was at his lowest. And that betrayal hurt more than anything else ever could. 

Chapter Text

Phil’s POV:

I don’t know wanna be alone tonight 

It’s pretty clear that I’m not over you 

I’m still thinking ‘bout the things you do 

So I don’t wanna be alone tonight, alone tonight, alone tonight 

 

Almost six months had passed. Phil still hadn’t heard anything from Melinda. He was still foolishly holding out hope. But he had started to give up. 

 

He was tired of this. He didn’t want to be alone anymore. He was trying so hard to get over Melinda. But he couldn’t. He still spent every night wishing she was there with him. He still thought about how it felt to be with her. To kiss her. To hold her. To love her and have her love him back. And the more he thought about her, the more alone he felt.

 

He couldn’t keep going like this. He had to find a way to move on. Because things weren’t getting any easier at SHIELD. And he couldn’t lead his team if he was still stumbling distractedly through his days. He couldn’t be alone anymore. 

 

Can you light the fire?

I need somebody who can take control

I know exactly what I need to do 

‘Cause I don’t wanna be alone tonight, alone tonight, alone tonight 

 

Phil drove down the street to a bar where he was meeting a woman named Rosalind Price. She was the leader of an organization called the Alien Threat Containment Unit. He was simultaneously working with and investigating the ATCU. They were hunting down Inhumans, and he was trying to figure out what they were doing with them. Rosalind was an experienced spy, and it was kind of fun to play that game with her all the time. 

 

She was sitting at the counter when he arrived. 

 

“Phil,” she greeted him as he sat down beside her. 

 

“Rosalind,” he smiled. “How are you tonight?”

 

“I’m fine.” She replied. “I was just wondering why we’re meeting at a bar late at night. Nine p.m. isn’t exactly business hours for most people.”

 

“Most people don’t run spy organizations or hunt down people with superpowers for a living. But we’re not most people.” 

 

“We’re not.” Rosalind agreed. “So what do you want?”

 

“You’ll have to figure that out yourself.” 

 

“I always do.” 

 

Phil talked with Rosalind for well over an hour. It started about business, both of them carefully revealing intel to the other. But eventually, the conversation took a more personal direction. 

 

“I get the feeling that business isn’t the only reason you invited me here tonight.” She remarked eventually.

 

“And what would this other reason be?” 

 

“You’re lonely.” She told him. “Perhaps you’re missing someone. Perhaps you just wish you had someone. You’re looking for company.” 

 

Phil was missing someone. He missed Melinda so much. And Rosalind was right. That was part of the reason he invited her here. He needed to feel less alone. He needed someone to help him forget. He needed someone to light the fire in him again. Someone to help him take back the control he was so quickly losing. But he didn’t want to let her know that just yet. 

 

“Or perhaps you’re wrong.” He replied. “Why did you accept my invitation tonight? Was it really just business, or are you the one that’s lonely?”

 

“Maybe I am.” She shrugged. “Maybe I would enjoy having some company tonight.”

 

“Maybe I would too.” 

 

Look what you made me do, I’m with somebody new

Ooh, baby, baby, I’m dancing with a stranger 

Look what you made me do, I’m with somebody new 

Ooh, baby, baby, I’m dancing with a stranger 

Dancing with a stranger 



After a couple more drinks, Phil took Rosalind’s hand and led her out of the bar. She got in the car with him, and they drove down to a motel. It wasn’t the nicest place he’d ever stayed in, but it would work. It was certainly nicer than the roach motel in Tennessee he stayed in with Melinda. 

 

God, he wished he was here with Melinda. Of course, if it was Melinda, he wouldn’t have to take her to a motel. She slept with him in his bunk. But this wasn’t Melinda. And the team could never know what he was doing with Rosalind. 

 

He pushed the thoughts of Melinda from his mind as they made their way up to their room. He was here to forget about her. 

 

Phil closed the door behind him. She looked up at him with a seductive smile. He leaned down and kissed her, and she eagerly kissed back. It felt strange to kiss her. To kiss someone who wasn’t Melinda. It felt wrong. But it still felt good. 

 

Their hands started to explore each other as they made out. He tried to focus on her. To keep his mind from straying to Melinda. He was almost succeeding. 

 

Eventually, they started to undress each other, and he moved them toward the bed. He pinned her down as he slid off her panties. 

 

“Phil,” she moaned as he started to rub her gently. 

 

His lips moved down her neck and chest, settling around her nipple. She moaned louder. He kept on like this until she couldn’t take it anymore.

 

“Phil, please.” She begged. 

 

“Please what?”

 

“Please fuck me.” He gladly obliged. 

 

Phil was trying so hard to keep Melinda out of his mind as he fucked Rosalind. But she just wouldn’t leave. 

 

“Mel-,” he started to moan her name as he neared orgasm, but he cut himself off. She didn’t seem to notice.

 

“Fuck,” he kissed her again. “Phil,”

 

“Roz,” he moaned into her mouth. 

 

When they were finished, he rolled off her, feeling all kinds of wrong. Part of him wanted to leave, but he felt like he couldn’t. He’d just have to come up with a story for his team in the morning. 

 

Rosalind fell asleep soon after. But he was still awake. He turned over and closed his eyes, starting to cry. What the hell was he doing? He hardly knew Rosalind, and he certainly didn’t love her. So why the hell was he here? Why was he potentially jeopardizing a business relationship for sex? Was he really that lonely?

 

Phil knew the answer was yes. He was that lonely. Ever since Melinda left, he didn’t know what to do with himself. He was so lost. He was so tired of being alone. And he couldn’t take it anymore. So, here he was, in bed with a woman who, compared to Melinda, was almost a complete stranger. 

 

Melinda’s POV 

I wasn’t even going out tonight 

But, boy, I need to get you off of my mind 

I know exactly what I have to do

I don’t wanna be alone tonight, alone tonight, alone tonight 

 

Melinda walked down the street to a crowded bar in Phoenix. Most women wouldn’t feel comfortable walking down the streets at night alone, but she was more than confident that she could lay any would be attackers on their asses in seconds if need be. 

 

She wasn’t sure why she was going out. She hadn’t really wanted to. But her father had started telling her weeks ago that she needed to go out and do something at least every once in awhile. He didn’t need her to be there all day every day. And he was clearly worried about her. So tonight, she decided to humor him and get out of the house for once. 

 

She walked into the bar and sat down at the counter. On her left, a man sat talking to another woman. The seat on her right was empty. Or it was at first. 

 

“Well, look who it is.” A familiar English accent remarked. “Wasn’t expecting to see you here, love.”

 

She turned to see Lance Hunter sitting there. She sighed. She should’ve ordered a stronger drink.

 

“What the hell are you doing here?” Melinda asked. 

 

“I was in the Phoenix area looking for you, actually.” Hunter explained. “I was pretty sure you were staying with your dad in Sun City, and I was going to pay you a visit tomorrow. But I stopped here tonight to relax a bit, and here you are.”

 

“I’ve been here five minutes and I already regret coming out.”

 

“Oh, cheer up, May.” He teased. “What are you doing here anyway?”

 

“I needed to get out.” She replied. 

 

“Lonely?” He guessed. She glared at him. “Hey, if it makes you feel better, Coulson desperately misses you too. He really hasn’t been the same since you left.”

 

She looked away sadly and took another sip of her drink. 

 

“Everyone has been speculating on what you’ve been doing these last few months.” He informed her, as if she’d asked or something. “Spiritual walkabout, mid-life crisis.” Her glare intensified. “Early mid-life crisis.”

 

“Why are you here?” She asked.

 

“I wanted to ask you to help me out with something.” He explained. “But I’m not in the mood for business tonight and I get the feeling neither are you. So how about, we just hang around here and talk tonight, and talk business tomorrow?”

 

Part of Melinda wanted to leave. She had a feeling about where this night would go if she stayed. And part of her didn’t want that. She was still so in love with Phil that it hurt. 

 

But part of her did want it. It might prove to be a welcome distraction from her constant thoughts of Phil. It might finally get him off her mind for awhile. It might even numb the pain a little. So why not stay? It would be better than spending yet another night alone. She was so tired of being alone. 

 

“Sounds good to me.” She agreed. 

 

Look what you made me do, I’m with somebody new

Ooh, baby, baby, I’m dancing with a stranger 

 

They had a few more drinks before Hunter led her out of the bar. 

 

“Wanna head back to my hotel room, love?” He asked.

 

“Don’t call me that.” Melinda replied. It reminded her too much of the way Phil used to call her that. “Ever again.” 

 

“Well, alrighty then.” He threw up his hands in mock surrender. “Anyway, should we head back to my hotel room?”

 

“Sure.” She shrugged. 

 

Hunter led her to his car, or someone’s car at least, and drove her to his hotel. When they got up to his room, he sat down on the bed and motioned for her to sit down next to him. Instead, she sat down in his lap and straddled him.

 

“I should’ve guessed you’re one to get straight to the point, love.”

 

She slapped him.

 

“Stop calling me that.” 

 

“Sorry. It just slipped out.”

 

“Shut up.” She kissed him hard and pushed him down on the bed.

 

His hands moved up her shirt and he fondled her breasts through her bra. Eventually, he pulled her shirt over her head and got rid of her bra entirely. She pulled his shirt off, then started undoing his pants. They undressed and teased each other like this until they couldn’t take it anymore.

 

They both groaned when she sank down on him. 

 

“Fuck, Melinda,” he moaned. She started to move up and down, and he moaned louder. “You feel so fucking good.”

 

“So do you.” She replied.

 

He did feel good, but not as good as Phil. It just didn’t feel right in the same way it had to fuck Phil. But it felt good enough to close her eyes and pretend. Pretending turned out to be a mistake.

 

“Phil,” she moaned as she reached orgasm. 

 

Suddenly, he stopped moving, and she remembered who she was with. 

 

“I’m so sorry,” she climbed off him, humiliated. “I should go.”

 

She started to grab her clothes and leave, but he grabbed her arm.

 

“Melinda, wait,” He told her. “It’s okay. You don’t have to leave.”

 

She felt tears well up in her eyes, but she held them back. She was not going to cry in front of Hunter. She hardly knew him. It was bad enough she was just fucking him and called him the wrong name. She wasn’t about to cry in front of him too.

 

“It’s not okay.” She yanked her arm away. “This isn’t right, Hunter.”

 

“But I think, for a little bit, it made you feel better.” He pointed out. “It made both of us feel better. Didn’t it?”

 

“It did.” She agreed. 

 

“Then it is right.” He argued. “And you can call me whatever name you want in bed. Just as long as we both get back in and finish what we started. If you still want to, that is.” 

 

“Of course.”

 

She dropped her clothes on the floor and climbed back into bed with him. 

 

Look what you made me do, I’m with somebody new

Ooh, baby, baby, I’m dancing with a stranger 

 

When they finished, Melinda laid in bed beside Hunter. Part of her couldn’t believe what she had just done. She had just slept with Lance Hunter. She didn’t even like him. He annoyed the shit out of her. 

 

She had done this out of pure loneliness and desperation. And while it made her feel better in the moment, she felt so much worse now that it was done. She felt like she had cheated on Phil. Even though they weren’t together anymore. She had blown that months ago. But this still felt so wrong. 

 

Hunter was laying with his arm around her waist. She turned over, but he didn’t let go. He just held on tighter.

 

“Go to sleep, love.” He told her.

 

“What part of don’t call me love don’t you understand, Hunter?” She snapped.

 

“Sorry.” He replied. “It’s just a habit.”

 

“Well you don’t get to call me that.” She told him. 

 

“I’m sorry. I don’t mean to disrespect you or anything. I truly admire you as a person and as an agent.” 

 

“It isn’t that.” She sighed. “It’s just that Phil used to call me love.”

 

“I should’ve known that.” He remarked. “That’s what all this has been about.” 

 

“I’m sorry.” Melinda said quietly. “This isn’t fair to you. I should go.”

 

“It’s fine, Melinda. Please stay. We both know why we’re here. We might not be happy, but at least we’re not alone.”

 

Dancing with a stranger 

Dancing with a stranger 

Dancing, yeah, ooh 

 

Melinda eventually fell asleep. When she woke up, for a moment she forgot where she was. She felt an arm around her waist, and a strong, solid body against her back. And for a split second, she thought she was back with Phil.

 

But she quickly remembered where she was and who she was with. She was not back at the Playground with Phil. She was in a hotel room with Lance Hunter. 

 

When he woke up, they got dressed and went down to breakfast, where they finally discussed what Hunter had tracked her down for in the first place. 

 

He wanted her to help him find Ward. His plan was to work his way up the ranks of Hydra. He already had a way in. It was stupid and reckless to go after him like this, when he could so easily see Hunter and recognize him. But Melinda agreed to help him. 

 

She figured she might as well. She wanted Ward dead as much as he did. And it’s not like she had anything better to do. Maybe this would finally help get her mind off of Phil. 

 

Except she knew that wouldn’t happen. She would get her mind off of him when she stopped loving him. And she knew that was never going to happen. She would always love him, no matter how much distance she put  between them. She would love him until the day she died. 

 

Phil’s POV 

Look what you made me do, I’m with somebody new 

Ooh, baby, baby, I’m dancing with a stranger 

 

Phil sat in his office. They had done it. They had finally gotten Simmons back. The portal had taken her to another planet. She wouldn’t say much about the planet. She insisted she was fine. Everyone knew that was a lie, but they were all glad to have her back. Especially Fitz and Daisy. 

 

But he was still worried. Ward was still out there. And so was May. He had no idea where she was or what she was doing. Andrew Garner had gotten ahold of her to tell her that they got Simmons back. So at least Phil knew she was alive and well. But he wanted to see it for himself.

 

He wanted her back so badly. He loved her so much. No matter how long she was away, he would always love her. 

 

His thoughts were interrupted by a text from Rosalind. She was inviting him to dinner that night. He accepted. It would be better than sitting here thinking about a woman who was never coming back. 

 

Phil met Rosalind at the restaurant. Then he followed her to a motel room. He kissed her, then he pushed her down on the bed and made love to her. Well, he fucked her. This could never be considered making love. He didn’t love her. And he never would. He was only here to get his mind off the one he really loved.

 

Melinda’s POV

Look what you made me do, I’m with somebody new 

Ooh, baby, baby, I’m dancing with a stranger 

 

Melinda hated Hunter more with every passing minute she spent on this mission with him. He was stupid, reckless, and obnoxious. But she wanted to help him kill Ward. So she stayed on the mission.

 

Most nights, they ended up fucking to let off steam. It was rougher and more passionate than their first night together. And she enjoyed it. But she wished she was with Phil.

 

She still loved him. She knew she always would. She wished she could go back to him. Every time she slept with Hunter, she found herself pretending it was Phil. And he didn’t seem to care that she sometimes moaned the wrong name. Sometimes he moaned Bobbi’s name, so it was fine. 

 

Melinda often found herself looking at her phone, wishing Phil would call her or text her. She knew he wouldn’t. He had given up on that months ago. But if he called now, she just might pick up. She knew that if she went back to him, she would only hurt him more. But part of her didn’t care anymore. She needed him. And she needed a reason to go back to him. 

 

Phil’s POV

I’m dancing, I’m dancing (Ooh)

I’m dancing, I’m dancing (Dancing with a stranger) 

 

Phil was in the lab talking to Fitz and Simmons the next day. When he left, he saw a face he’d feared he’d never see again. 

 

“Melinda?” He called softly. She stopped and turned to face him. 

 

“Phil,” her reply was almost a whisper. 

 

She looked up at him with sadness and worry in her eyes. Like she thought he might push her away. He could never do that to her. 

 

“Come here, sweetheart.” He pulled her into his arms. At first, Melinda stiffened when he touched her, like she thought he might hurt her. “I’m not going to hurt you, love.”

 

She burst into tears and buried her face into his chest. 

 

“But I hurt you.” She cried. 

 

“I forgive you.” He told her. “I love you. And all that matters is that you came back to me.” 

 

“I love you too.” 

 

Suddenly, his phone vibrated. He pulled it out of his pocket. It was a text from Rosalind.

 

“Who is it?” Melinda asked.

 

“Um, just someone we’ve been working on a case with.”

 

She turned her head to look at the message. She obviously read it, because she backed away.

 

“Someone you’ve been working with who calls you dearest?” She raised an eyebrow.

 

“Melinda, let me explain,”

 

“You don’t need to explain.” She shook her head. “I left. You had every right to move on. And I had no right to walk in here and expect everything to go back to the way it was.”

 

“Please, Melinda, I don’t love her.” He begged. “I love you.”

 

“I came here to talk to you about something.” She told him. “But we can talk later. Go meet your new girlfriend.”

 

She walked away before he could say anything else. 

 

Melinda’s POV 

I’m dancing, I’m dancing (Dancing with a stranger)

I’m dancing, I’m dancing (Dancing with a stranger)

 

Melinda walked down to her old bunk, not greeting anyone she walked passed. She laid down on the bed and sobbed into the pillow. 

 

She really had blown it. She had ruined everything. She had left and Phil had moved on. The name in his contact had been Roz. She had no idea who that was, but she hoped she was treating him well. She hoped Roz loved him better than she could.

 

A few hours later, she heard a knock at the door.

 

“Melinda,” Phil called. “Can I come in?”

 

“Sure.” She choked out. 

 

He walked in and laid down beside her. 

 

“How was your date?” She asked sadly.

 

“I broke up with Rosalind.” He told her.

 

“Why?”

 

“Because I love you.” He replied. “I never loved her. I never had anything serious with her. It was just sex. And every time I slept with her, I wished it was you instead.”

 

“I’ve had something similar going on with Hunter.” She confessed. “I wished I was with you, too.”

 

“You are now, love.” He wiped the tears from her face and took her in his arms. “Please don’t leave me again.”

 

“I don’t want to. But I should.”

 

“No, you shouldn’t.” He argued. “We’re meant to be together, Melinda. I don’t want you to leave me ever again. Please, sweetheart. I love you.”

 

“I love you too.” 

 

“Then stay.”

 

“I will.” She told him. “I promise.”

Chapter Text

Combat, I’m ready for combat 

I say I don’t want that, but what if I do?

 

Melinda laid in Phil’s arms. She was trying hard not to cry again. But she was so scared of messing this up again. She loved him so much. And she knew this could never end well. 

 

She was a fighter. She always had been. She was always ready for combat. Even when she didn’t need to be. Even when she didn’t want to be.

 

She didn’t want her relationship with Phil to turn into an endless battle. But that’s what everything in her life inevitably turned into. And maybe that was because, deep down, she wanted it that way.

 

It was easier to fight people than to love them. It was easier to push people away than to hold them close. It was easier to hurt than to heal. It was easier to destroy something than to keep it alive.

 

She was a fighter by nature. And she always would be. She wasn’t capable of the kind of love Phil needed. So why did he want her so badly? They both knew loving her could only ever end in war.

 

‘Cause cruelty wins in the movies 

I’ve got a hundred thrown-out speeches I almost said to you 

 

“What’s wrong, sweetheart?” Phil asked her.

 

“I don’t think I can do this.” Melinda told him.

 

“Do what?”

 

“Be with you.” He looked hurt. “I want to, but I don’t know how. I don’t know how to love anymore. All I know how to do is hate.”

 

“You do know how to love.” He replied. “You love me everyday you’re here with me.” 

 

“No I don’t.” She shook her head. “I’m a cruel, hateful person. That’s all I know now.”

 

“That isn’t true.” 

 

She didn’t want to argue with him anymore. She didn’t want this to be a fight. She just didn’t know what to say to him. She had thought hundreds of times about what she would say when she came back. But now that she was here, none of it seemed good enough. All she could do was cry and try her best not to hurt him more than she already had. 

 

Easy they come, easy they go

I jump from the train, I ride off alone

I never grew up, it’s getting so old

Help me hold on to you 

 

The next morning, Melinda woke up in Phil’s arms. He was still asleep. She knew she could sneak out now without waking him up. She could be off the base before anyone could ask where she was going. She should leave. She should leave now before she could hurt him more. She didn’t want to, but she had to.

 

She gently moved away from him and sat up. But before she could get out of bed, Phil grabbed her wrist and stopped her.

 

“Melinda, please don’t go.” 

 

“I have to.”

 

“You promised me that this time you would stay.” He reminded her. “Did that promise mean nothing to you? Do you ever mean what you say?”

 

Melinda burst into tears, still facing away from him. 

 

“I’m sorry.” She cried. 

 

“Lay back down, honey.” He pulled her back towards him, and she laid her head on his chest. “Why do you keep trying to run off on me, love?”

 

“I don’t want to hurt you.” 

 

“You hurt me when you left.” He told her. “You could never hurt me by being here.”

 

“Yes I can.” She argued. “And I will. It’s who I am. I hurt people. I’m not meant to be in a relationship like this. I can’t. It’s better for everyone if I just leave and run off. I’m better off alone.”

 

“You’re not.” He insisted. “I want you here, my love. Stop running away from me.”

 

“I don’t know how to stay.” She admitted. “I still run away like a child when things get hard. I wish I wasn’t like this. I’m tired of being like this. But I am.”

 

“I want you to stay, Melinda.” He kissed her. 

 

“I want to stay.” She replied. “So help me hold on to you.”

 

“I will. I promise.” 

 

I’ve been the archer, I’ve been the prey

Who could ever leave me, darling

But who could stay?

 

Melinda spent most of her time with Phil the next few days, following him around like a lost puppy whenever she could. She was scared of hurting him. Scared of losing him again. She didn’t think she could live without him again.

 

She was trying to figure out how to make this work with him. She didn’t know how. She had been in plenty of relationships before. She’d started and ended plenty of them. But she had never been able to make any of them work. 

 

She’d had plenty of boyfriends, and a husband, who said they could never leave her. That they wanted to be with her forever. But they’d all left her eventually, whether of their own accord or because she pushed them away.

 

After Melinda divorced Andrew, she had accepted that she was just unlovable. No one could ever stay with her. She was a monster. She stopped believing people when they said they would stay. She knew they would realize what was good for them and run as far away as they could. 

 

But Phil was different, or at least he wanted to be. He knew exactly who she was, and what she had done. And he still wanted to stay with her. He didn’t think she was a monster. He didn’t make her feel like a hopeless piece of shit. 

 

He loved her. He really did. And he made her feel loved. He treated her like she was something beautiful and precious that might break if he wasn’t careful enough. She wanted to hold on to him. She never wanted to leave him again. 

 

Phil sat down in his office, and she curled up in his lap like she used to. 

 

“I love you.” He told her, planting a soft kiss in her hair.

 

“I love you too.” She replied.

 

She prayed she wouldn’t do anything to fuck this up again. That he would finally be the one to stay with her. She couldn’t lose him again. It would break her. 

 

Dark side, I search for your dark side

But what if I’m alright, right, right, right here?

 

Melinda curled up beside Phil on the couch that night. No one else was in the living area. They knew someone could walk in at any moment, but neither of them cared. 

 

She tried to focus on the movie they were watching, but she couldn’t. She couldn’t quiet the voice in her head that told her she didn’t deserve him. She kept trying to justify it to herself. How she had ended up with him. Why he would want her. Why he loved her. Why she should stay and risk hurting him more. 

 

She couldn’t come up with any reasons why she deserved him. She tried to find a dark side in him. He wasn’t perfect. No one was. But he wasn’t a monster. Not like she was. His sins didn’t even come close to hers. She didn’t deserve him. She didn’t deserve someone so unconditionally loving and caring. 

 

But she didn’t want to leave, even though she knew she should. She was happy with him. He made her feel safe and loved and cared for, even if she didn’t deserve any of that. 

 

It was selfish. He deserved someone better than her. Someone who wasn’t a monster. Someone who wasn’t broken beyond repair. She should leave. But she didn’t want to. She wanted to stay, even if it was selfish. Even if she didn’t deserve him. She wanted to be happy, even if she didn’t deserve to be.

 

And I cut off my nose just to spite my face

Then I hate my reflection for years and years 

 

“Are you alright, love?” Phil asked her, snapping her out of her thoughts.

 

“I haven’t been alright in years.” Melinda replied sadly.

 

“You will be.” He promised. “I’m going to make you alright.”

 

“You can’t.” She argued. “No one can. I’m never going to be alright.”

 

“Because you won’t let yourself be alright.” He told her bluntly. “It’s been seven years, Melinda. And you won’t move on. You still haven’t accepted what happened. You’ve never gotten closure. You still hate yourself for what happened everyday. You still look in the mirror and see a monster instead of the incredible, beautiful woman you really are. And you push away everyone who tries to help you. If you never forgive yourself for what you did, you are never going to be alright.”

 

“I don’t deserve forgiveness. I killed a child.”

 

“Shut the fuck up.” He spat back. “You did what you had to do and you know that. So why can’t you let it go? It’s like you don’t want to be okay. It’s like you want to be a depressed bitch who cries herself to sleep every night. It’s like you want to be miserable and alone.”

 

Melinda burst into tears. He wasn’t wrong, but his words were cruel. She expected him to pull her closer and comfort her. But he didn’t. 

 

“I’m sorry.” He said, getting off the couch. “I can’t deal with you right now.”

 

“Phil, please don’t go.” She begged, running after him. She grabbed his arm and stopped him before he left the room. “I thought you wanted me back. You made me promise to never leave you again. And now you don’t even want to be around me? I thought you loved me.”

 

“I do.” He replied softly. “More than anything. Which is why it’s hard to watch you do this to yourself.”

 

“So help me.” She cried. 

 

“I try. But you push me away.”

 

“Don’t let me push you away. Don’t let me run away. Make me stay and prove me wrong. Show me how to be alright again. I do want to be. I just don’t deserve it.”

 

“You do, my love.” He gently wiped a tear from her face. Then he leaned down and kissed her softly. “You do.” 

 

I wake in the night, I pace like a ghost 

The room is on fire, invisible smoke

And all of my heroes die all alone

Help me hold on to you 

 

Melinda followed Phil back to his bunk. She crawled into bed with him and fell asleep in his arms. But she woke soon after. She tried to fall back asleep again, but she kept waking up. Eventually, she crawled quietly out of bed, trying her best not to disturb him. She didn’t. He was still fast asleep.

 

She decided to go back to her own bunk for the night. But she didn’t go to bed. She knew she wasn’t going to be able to sleep alone. Instead, she paced back and forth, thinking. 

 

She was so afraid of ruining this. She was starting to panic. She was too much for him to handle. She had proven that tonight. He didn’t want to be around her when she was like this. And she didn’t blame him.

 

But how could they make this work if he couldn’t deal with her like this? She knew deep down that he would never be able to help her, no matter how hard he tried. There was no helping her. She was too far gone for that. So how could she be with him?

 

Melinda started to cry as she paced the floor. Panic was building inside of her. She felt like the room was on fire. Like she was going to suffocate from invisible smoke. Burn to ashes in flames no one else could see. She was going to die all alone. People like her always did. No one was going to be able to save her from herself.

 

“Melinda, what are you doing?” She froze. Phil was standing in the doorway. “I woke up and you were gone. I feared you’d run away again.”

 

“I’m sorry.” She cried. “I just didn’t want to wake you.”

 

“Come here, honey.” He walked over to her and took her hand. “Let’s go back to bed.”

 

She nodded and followed him back to his bunk. She crawled into bed with him and closed her eyes. 

 

“Help me. Please.” She whispered. “I don’t want to lose you, Phil.”

 

“You won’t, my love.” He replied. “I promise.”

 

I’ve been the archer, I’ve been the prey 

Screaming, who could ever leave me, darling 

But who could stay?

(I see right through me, I see right through me)

 

Despite Phil’s assurances he wouldn’t leave her, she couldn’t help but continue to fear he would. This relationship was hard, and their jobs weren’t making it any easier. 

 

Things seemed awkward between him and Rosalind since he had broken up with her, which of course impacted SHIELD’s relationship with the ATCU. Melinda couldn’t help but feel guilty about that. He had been getting somewhere with them and she had come back and ruined it without even knowing. 

 

Her ex-husband Andrew had turned out to be Lash, a dangerous Inhuman they had been hunting. She had almost killed him. Now he was living in a containment pod in their basement. She wasn’t sure how to feel about any of it. She obviously still cared about Andrew, but she didn’t want him to come between her and Phil.

 

She felt like the world was trying to come between them. Like the universe didn’t want them to be together. She knew that was stupid. And deep down, she knew that feeling was just an excuse. The universe didn’t destroy all her relationships. She did. 

 

Melinda was convinced no one could ever stay with her. She had long ago accepted that there was something fundamentally unlovable about her. Relationships with her didn’t end well. Why would Phil be any different?

 

‘Cause they see right through me

They see right through me

They see right through 

Can you see right through me?

 

One morning, after she had gotten up and left without waking him, he found her in the gym. She was in the middle of her Tai Chi, and she ignored him. Or at least pretended to.

 

“Melinda, are you alright?” Phil asked, walking towards her. She didn’t reply. “You scared me. When you just leave before I wake up without saying anything, I can’t help but fear you’ve run away again. I worry about you, honey.”

 

Melinda still didn’t reply, so he sat down by the wall and watched her. She felt guilty for worrying him. She had apparently given him serious trust issues. Which she understood. If someone ran off for months with no explanation, she would have a hard time trusting them too. Then again, she had a hard time trusting anyone. 

 

When she finished her routine, she thought about moving on to something else. But she ended up walking over to Phil and sitting down beside him. She rested her head on his shoulder and he put an arm around her waist. 

 

“I’m sorry.” She murmured. 

 

“It’s okay, sweetheart.” 

 

They were silent for a moment. He always seemed content to just be in her presence, even if they said nothing. They didn’t need to say anything. But right now, she felt the need to say something. To ask something that her brain wouldn’t shut up about.

 

“Phil, do you think I love you?” 

 

“What do you mean?” He looked confused. 

 

“Do you know that I love you?” She clarified. “Because I do. But I understand why you might think that I don’t. I haven’t exactly been the most loving person, and I understand why I might sound like I’m just pretending. For a long time, I didn’t think I knew how to love someone. And I think part of me still doesn’t. But I do love you, even if I don’t always know how to show it. I don’t want you to think I’m just with you because I’m clingy or depressed or something.”

 

“For awhile, after you left, I didn’t think you really loved me.” He admitted. “I wasn’t sure if you had ever loved me. But I know now that you do. Because you came back and you stayed. And you do know how to love. You show it everyday, even if you don’t realize it. I know you love me. And I love you. So much.”

 

They see right through

They see right through me 

I see right through me

I see right through me 

 

“You’re so beautiful.” He told Melinda out of nowhere. They had been sitting against the wall in silence for several minutes. 

 

“Maybe on the outside.” She replied sadly. “On the inside, I look like the grim reaper.”

 

“That isn’t true.” Phil comforted her. “You’re gorgeous, inside and out.”

 

“For someone who’s known me for thirty years, you don’t seem to know who I really am.”

 

“How many times have I told you to knock this shit off, Melinda?” He snapped. “Do you just not listen? Do you think I lie to you everyday? What the fuck is your problem? Why can’t you let go of the past? Why can’t you forgive yourself? Why can’t you let yourself move on? What do you want from me? Hatred? Punishment? Pity? Confirmation of your twisted view of yourself?”

 

“I don’t know.” She admitted. “What do you want from me?”

 

“I just want you to love me like I love you.”

 

“I do.” She replied. “But I can’t let it go.”

 

“Then let me help you.” He told her. “Listen to me when I tell you something. I’m never going to lie to you, love. You can trust me.”

 

“I do trust you. I just don’t trust myself.”

 

All the king’s horses, all the king’s men

Couldn’t put me together again

‘Cause all of my enemies started out friends

Help me hold on to you 

 

“Oh, sweetheart,” Phil pulled Melinda into his arms. “You can trust yourself. You’re a good person.”

 

She couldn’t reply. Instead, she started to cry into his chest. After a moment, he pulled away slightly, but kept her in his arms. 

 

“Melinda, love, look at me.” He lifted her chin to look up at him. “You can believe me when I say that you’re a good person.”

 

“I want to.”

 

Melinda really did want to believe him. She wanted to believe he could help her. But no one had ever been able to help her before. No one could fix her. No one could put her back together. She was too broken. 

 

She didn’t know why Phil would be any different. But she wanted to believe he would be. She hoped and prayed he would be. She needed him to be. 

 

She knew he would never hurt her. He would never lie to her. He would never betray her, like so many before him had. In her line of work, it often seemed like every friend became an enemy eventually. But she had to believe Phil wouldn’t.

 

He would stay by her side. He would hold her and love her and care for her. Forever. He had to. Because she didn’t know what she would do if he didn’t.

 

I’ve been the archer, I’ve been the prey

Who could ever leave me, darling

But who could stay? 

(I see right through me, I see right through me)

 

A few days passed. Melinda laid in bed beside Phil. It was very late. Or at this point, very early. She hadn’t slept at all. She tried, but she couldn’t stop thinking. 

 

She knew Phil loved her. He loved her so much. And she knew that he would never lie to her. That he meant what he said. She wanted to believe it. That she was a good person. That she deserved him. 

 

But she couldn’t. She knew by now that he wasn’t going to leave her. But she also knew that he would be better off without her, even if he didn’t realize it. He would realize it someday. Someday, he would be glad she left. He would move on and be with someone else. Someone less broken. Someone who actually deserved him. 

 

She knew she had to leave. She got up out of bed quietly. She quickly packed her things from the room and walked out of the room.

 

Melinda was almost out the hangar door when she heard Phil’s voice behind her.

 

“Where are you going?” He demanded.

 

“I’m leaving.” She replied, not turning to look at him.

 

“No, you’re not.” He caught up to her and grabbed her arm with his artificial hand. 

 

He pushed her against the wall and pinned her there. 

 

“Let go of me, Phil.” She begged. “Please.” 

 

“No. I’m not letting you leave me again.” He insisted. He squeezed her arm harder, hard enough to leave bruises. “You cried and begged me to help you. To love you. And I try, but you keep running off. I’m not doing this anymore. You’re staying here with me. Period. End of discussion.”

 

“What if I don’t want to?” She questioned.

 

“I know you do.” 

 

“If I stay, I’m only ever going to hurt you.”

 

“I don’t care.” He told her. “Nothing else you say or do could hurt as much as you leaving.”

 

Tears welled up in her eyes and he let go of her arm. He pulled her into his arms instead.

 

“I love you.” He whispered. 

 

“I love you too.”

 

“Promise me you’ll never leave me again.”

 

“I promise.” She told him. And she meant it.

 

Who could stay?

Who could stay?

Who could stay?

You could stay

You could stay 

 

Phil pinned her against the wall and kissed her hard. They made out there for several seconds before pulling apart, breathless. Then he took her hand and led her back to his room. 

 

When he closed the door behind them, he pushed her against it and kissed her again. They started to undress each other, and he guided them to the bed and laid her down.

 

When he made love to her, it was like the whole world disappeared. Like they were meant for each other, and no one else mattered. Like she was made for him and he was made for her. He touched her and kissed her and fucked her like no one else ever could. 

 

“Phil,” she moaned. 

 

“I love you, Melinda.” He told her. 

 

“I love you too.”

 

After they finished, he laid down beside her and held her tightly. And for the first time, she knew that he was never going to leave her. He wasn’t going to give up on her or let her push him away, no matter what she did. He would finally be the one to stay. 

Chapter Text

Sunlight is too much for you to bear 

It’s high time that you came up for air

 

Phil woke up the next morning with Melinda in his arms. She was surprisingly still asleep. She was usually awake first. He was glad he woke up before her for once.

 

She looked so peaceful in her sleep. She looked happy, in a way he hadn’t seen much since Bahrain. She didn’t have the cold, calm face she had with everyone else. She didn’t have the sad, haunted look she only let him see. She just looked like the Melinda he used to know. 

 

He hated seeing her like she got sometimes now. He hated seeing her in so much pain. He loved her. And yet he sometimes felt like he was the one hurting her. Around everyone else, she simply replied to other people’s comments with an icy death glare. But with him, it was different. All he had to do was raise his voice to her and she burst into tears. Why was she so fragile around him? 

 

He knew he was short with her sometimes, but it was only because her self-hatred frustrated him. He never meant to be mean or cruel. He never meant to hurt her. He would never want to hurt her. She meant absolutely everything to him. He loved her. He just wished she could learn to love herself.

 

Don’t hide a single thing behind your perfect skin

Don’t keep your secrets in a prayer 

 

Eventually, Melinda’s eyes fluttered open. 

 

“Good morning, my love.” He told her. 

 

“What time is it?” She asked.

 

“Almost seven.” He replied. 

 

“I should have been up two hours ago.” She said sitting up. “Why would you let me sleep so late?”

 

“I didn’t want to wake you.” He grabbed her arm gently and laid her back down. “You need to rest.”

 

“No, I need to work.” Melinda argued. “We can’t afford to lay in bed all day. Not when there’s this much going on.”

 

She had a point. Things weren’t exactly going well. Simmons wanted to reopen the portal to save a man who was on the planet with her. And he was trying his best to work with the ATCU, in spite of how awkward things were now between him and Rosalind. Not to mention Ward was still out there, as dangerous as ever. 

 

But Phil didn’t want to worry about any of that yet. And he didn’t want her to worry about it either. He knew she worried about a lot, even if she didn’t show it. She kept a lot to herself. He wished she wouldn’t. 

 

He wished she would just talk to him. He wished she wouldn’t hide so much. He wished she wouldn’t keep so many secrets. She needed to let it out in the open. She was never going to heal if she didn’t. 

 

He hoped she knew she could talk to him. He wanted her to talk to him. He loved her. He cared about her. And he was worried about her. 

 

There is nothing you can say or do 

I won’t cut you loose, no

So break the silence 

And know that we can brave it all 

 

“I need to get up.” Melinda told him. 

 

“I need you to talk to me.” Phil replied. “You need to tell me what’s going on with you, sweetheart. What’s going on inside your head? Because I don’t know.”

 

“You don’t want to know.” She retorted, sitting up. “You don’t seem to get it. I know you think you can fix me, but you can’t. And you don’t really want to try. Eventually, you’re going to get too close to the real me. And you’re going to leave me. And I can’t lose you.”

 

“Oh, honey, I’m not going to leave you.” He comforted her, sitting up beside her. “There’s nothing you can say or do to make me leave. I will never leave. I will never push you away. And I will never let you push me away again. You promised me you’d stay, and you’re going to keep that promise. And I’m going to help you. No matter what’s going on, we can face it together.”

 

If you’re hoping we’ll be home

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

It won’t make me love you any less

It won’t make me love you any less 

 

Phil let Melinda get up and go to work. He had to. He had to get up too. She was with him during the day when she could be. But she didn’t talk much. 

 

He couldn’t blame her too much. They were busy. There was a lot going on. There always was. But still, they had moments to themselves. And she said almost nothing. But he didn’t want to push her today. He couldn’t force her to talk. 

 

The next day, they didn’t get the chance to talk much at all. Fitz and Simmons were kidnapped by Ward and Hydra and taken to the castle in England where the portal to Maveth was located. Everyone was focused on getting them back. And on stopping Hydra from getting through the portal.

 

They loaded the quinjet, preparing to go after them. They had to leave as soon as possible. 

 

On the flight over, he sat next to Melinda in the cockpit. She looked worried. Almost upset. 

 

“You alright?” He asked her. 

 

“I’m fine.” She replied. “I’m not who you should be worried about. You should be focused on getting Fitz and Simmons back. You should be focused on stopping Ward. Not on me.”

 

“That is my focus.” Phil told her. “But I still worry about you. I love you. And after this whole mess is sorted out, I think we need to sit down and have an honest conversation with each other.”

 

“Why are you so insistent about this?”

 

“I just want to help you, Melinda. And I want you to know that nothing you say or do could make me love you any less.”

 

She didn’t reply. She was quiet for several minutes, before finally speaking up. 

 

“Phil, please be careful out there.” She told him. “I can’t lose you again. I need you. I love you.”

 

“I’ll be careful.” He promised. “I love you too.”

 

No shame, no hurt, nothing to lose

My love my heart don’t need to prove 

 

The mission was messy and chaotic. Hydra had already opened the portal by the time he got there. Fitz had volunteered to go in Simmons’s place. Phil barely even made it in through the portal after them in time. Will Daniels, the man Simmons had wanted to open the portal to save, had apparently died saving her. Hive, the Inhuman Hydra was after, had already inhabited his body. 

 

But the mission seemed to be a success. Fitz killed the Inhuman walking around in Will’s body and stopped him from getting back through the portal. And Phil killed Ward. He crushed his chest with his cybernetic arm and left his body to rot on Maveth. 

 

As he walked back in the quinjet, Melinda greeted him with a hug. She looked so relieved. So happy to see him. But part of him wasn’t happy. 

 

He knew he should be glad he killed Ward. He shouldn’t feel bad or ashamed. Ward had killed a lot of people and hurt many more. He had kidnapped and tortured members of his own team. He should be happy he killed him.

 

But part of him wasn’t. He couldn’t quite explain why. He had killed people before on missions. But Ward was the first person he had killed from pure rage. He told himself he killed him out of necessity. And he did. Ward needed to die. But he knew deep down that the real reason he had killed him was for revenge. Revenge for what he had done to his team. His family. 

 

“Are you alright?” She asked him when she finally pulled away.

 

“I’m not sure.” Phil answered honestly. “I killed Ward.”

 

“Good.” Melinda replied. “He needed to be taken out. He was a dangerous man.”

 

“I know.” He nodded. “I just,”

 

He trailed off, not sure what to say. But she gave him a look of understanding. He didn’t have to explain to her the conflict he was feeling. She already knew. She had felt it herself. 

 

“I’m glad you’re safe.” She told him after a moment of silence. “I love you.”

 

“I love you too.” He leaned down and kissed her. “I love you so much.”

 

And there’s nothing you can say or do 

There’s no one that can change my mind 

It’s not a weakness, we all have our crosses to bear 

 

The next day, Phil sat in his office. He couldn’t shake the guilt. It hung over him like a dark cloud. And nothing he told himself would make it go away.

 

Melinda walked in. She didn’t say anything. She just walked over to him and climbed in his lap. He started to cry. She cupped his face and turned him to look at her.

 

“Phil,” she said. “You did what you had to do. You made the tough call. You joined the cavalry.”

 

He didn’t reply. He didn’t need to. He understood exactly what she was saying. He understood the weight of her words.

 

She leaned closer and kissed him softly but passionately. He latched on tightly. And in that moment he truly understood something for the first time.

 

He realized that they were meant to be together. He had known it all along, but he truly understood it now. They were bound by fate. If the universe had ever brought anyone together, it was them. They knew each other, they understood each other, in a way no one else ever could. In a way no one else was supposed to. They loved each other. And nothing either of them could say or do could ever change that.

 

They both had issues. They both had weaknesses. They both had their own crosses to bear. But whatever happened, they would always be able to handle it together. They were stronger together. They were better together. They were supposed to be together. It was as simple as that.

 

If you’re hoping we’ll be home

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

It won’t make me love you any less 

It won’t make me love you any less 

 

“Phil, if you want to talk about it, I’m here to listen.” Melinda told him sweetly, pressing a kiss to his temple. “I’ll always be here.” 

 

“Maybe later.” He replied. “I have work to do.”

 

She nodded and started to get up, but he grabbed her hand.

 

“Don’t go.” He pleaded softly. She sat back down in his lap. 

 

She laid her head on his shoulder. There was nothing more comforting in the world than having her curled up with him. 

 

“I love you.” She said. “Nothing will ever change that. There is nothing you can do that could ever make me love you any less.”

 

“I know.” He smiled. “I feel the same way about you, sweetheart. I love you more than words could ever describe. You mean everything to me.”

 

Don’t hide behind me

You’re strong enough to face the fall

Woah, it won’t make me love you any less

 

After he finished his paperwork, she took Phil’s hand and led him to his room. Well, it was really their room at this point. Melinda never slept in hers. She didn’t want to sleep alone. And he didn’t want her to. He didn’t want to sleep alone either. 

 

When they closed the door behind them, he kissed her passionately. He pushed her against the wall, and they made out like that for awhile. Eventually, she started to unbutton his shirt. He pulled away. 

 

“I’m sorry.” He told her. “Not tonight.”

 

“It’s alright.” She replied. She kissed him again, softer this time. “Let’s get to bed.”

 

They changed into their pajamas and crawled into bed together. Phil started to cry. 

 

“You’re going to be alright, my love.” She told him. “You did what you had to do.” 

 

She echoed the words he’d said to her a million times since Bahrain. She understood what he was going through. She’d gone through something even worse. 

 

He planted a kiss in her hair.

 

“You’re strong enough to get through this.” She said.

 

“Not without you.” He replied. 

 

“You’ve gotten through worse without me.” She argued. “Hell, Phil, you died and I wasn’t there.”

 

“I wouldn’t have wanted you to see me like that.” He told her. 

 

“I would have wanted to be there for you.”

 

“It was out of your control. You were there for me when I came back.” He reminded her. “And that’s all that really matters.”

 

“I left.” He could see tears falling from her eyes. 

 

“You came back.” He argued. “Leaving didn’t make me love you any less. Nothing could. You could run away a thousand times, and every time I would welcome you back with open arms. I just need you here with me. That’s all that matters.”

 

“I love you.” She whispered. “Please don’t ever leave me again.”

 

“I won’t.” He knew he couldn’t really promise her that. He couldn’t promise that he wouldn’t die again. That was out of his control. But he could promise to stay by her side as long as he was here. “I’m not leaving you, Melinda. I love you.” 

 

Time to come in from the cold 

Time to let the truth be told

It won’t make me love you any less 

 

A few nights passed. It was almost three in the morning, but he was awake. Phil hadn’t slept well that night. He was awoken by nightmares about Ward. He couldn’t stop reliving the moment he killed him. Whenever he closed his eyes, he was back on Maveth, feeling Ward’s chest crush under his hand. 

 

He opened his eyes and reminded himself where he was. He was safe in bed with Melinda. Holding her in his arms. She was asleep. She looked calm and peaceful. He let her presence comfort him. 

 

He knew they needed to have an honest conversation about everything. To open up to each other about what they were going through. It seemed like one of them was always waking up with nightmares. 

 

But neither of them wanted to wake the other. Neither of them wanted to talk to the other. They were too scared. They didn’t want to overwhelm the other.

 

But he felt like a hypocrite. He was always telling her that she needed to open up to him. To let him help her. But now he needed help, and he wouldn’t let her help him. He wouldn’t open up to her. 

 

But he had to. She wouldn’t love him any less. She understood. And maybe if he opened up to her, she would finally open up to him. 

 

If you’re hoping we’ll be home

Don’t be afraid to ask for help 

It won’t make me love you any less 

It won’t make me love you any less 

 

Phil didn’t fall back asleep. He woke up Melinda at five with a kiss and a gentle nudge. 

 

“Good morning, sweetheart.” He told her.

 

“Good morning.” She replied. “What time is it?”

 

“Five.” 

 

“You actually woke me up on time today.” She smiled. “I should get up and take a shower.”

 

“Actually, I woke you up because I wanted to talk to you.” 

 

“About what?”

 

“I need to talk to you about what happened on Maveth.” He explained. “I can’t sleep without having nightmares about it. I know I did what I had to do, but I can’t shake the feeling that I made the wrong decision.”

 

“Killing Ward was not the wrong decision.” Melinda told him. “Who knows how many more people he would’ve tortured and killed if you hadn’t. You did what you had to do.”

 

“I know. Maybe it’s just how it happened. In the moment, I wasn’t thinking about saving anyone or stopping him from doing more damage. I was just thinking about getting revenge for what he had already done. I didn’t do kill him because I wanted to stop him. I killed him because I wanted to hurt him. I didn’t just shoot him or something. I pinned him to the ground and crushed his chest.”

 

“But you still did the right thing.” She replied. “It doesn’t matter why you killed Ward. What matters is that you did. He’s gone and he won’t hurt anyone again. And that’s all because of you.”

 

“You don’t think I’m some kind of sick murderer?” He questioned. For some reason, he had kind of thought she would. 

 

“Of course not.” She smiled. “If you thought telling me that would make me love you less, you were very wrong. I will always love you. No matter what.”

 

Don’t hide behind me

You’re strong enough to face the fall

Woah, it won’t make me love you any less

 

They laid there in silence for a few minutes. Phil wasn’t necessarily expecting Melinda to say anything else. But eventually, she did. 

 

“She wanted me to be her mother.” She blurted out.

 

“What?” 

 

“The girl in Bahrain.” She explained, tears welling up in her eyes. “After I killed her mother, she told me that she wanted me to be her new mother. She was trying to reach out to me, to get me to touch her hand so she could control me. I told her to put her hand down, but she wouldn’t. So I killed her.”

 

“You had no choice.” He wasn’t sure what to say, so he said what he always did. She ignored him. 

 

“Andrew and I wanted a family.” She replied. “We had been trying to have a baby. But then I killed a child. And I realized that I could never be a mother.”

 

“You would be a wonderful mother.” He comforted. “You’re kind, and sweet, and loving, and caring. Even if you don’t realize it. What happened in Bahrain was terrible. But you did what you had to do. You can’t let it ruin your whole life, love.”

 

“I already have.”

 

“You haven’t. You still have a lot of life left to live. You may feel broken, but it’s not too late to put the pieces back together.” Phil told her. He kissed her softly. “And I’m going to be here to help you. Always. Because I love you. And nothing could ever make me stop loving you.”

Chapter Text

Phil’s POV 

Your light is inside of me

Like a raging roar 

Like an ocean born

You’re in my veins 

 

Phil held Melinda’s hand as they walked down the hallway. They were headed down to the gym to do some training. They stopped outside the door when they heard voices.

 

“Daisy,” he heard Simmons giggle. “Stop that. We’re supposed to be training.”

 

“We are totally training, Jemma.” Daisy replied.

 

They peered inside the door to see Simmons laying on the floor with Daisy on top of her. Daisy was tickling her.

 

Phil couldn’t help but smile. He looked down at Melinda to see her smiling as well.

 

He remembered when they had been like that. They used to train together all the time back at the academy, and during their early days as agents. Their sessions had always started out serious, but they usually just ended up messing around. Of course, back then, they never ended up making out, like Jemma and Daisy were now.

 

“Should we interrupt them?” Melinda asked.

 

“No.” Phil shook his head. “We can train later. Let them have their fun.”

 

“I missed you so much, baby.” Daisy told her when they broke apart.

 

“I missed you too.” Jemma replied. “I love you.”

 

“I love you too.”

 

Phil led Melinda to the shooting range instead. But he didn’t really want to train anymore. As soon as they shut the door behind them, he pushed her against the wall and kissed her. 

 

It seemed strange to him now that he hadn’t always been with her like this. He hadn’t always known how her lips tasted. What her body felt like under his hands. But now he did. And it seemed like he always had.

 

She was part of him now. A part that couldn’t be separated from the rest of him. Even if she walked away again, she would still be with him in his heart. She was his whole world. She was his moon, his stars, and his sun. His ocean and his sky. She was the blood in his veins. The light in his eyes. She was the best part of him. And she meant absolutely everything to him. 

 

Your voice is serenity when the sun goes down

And the strength I’ve found is in my veins 

 

That night, Phil followed Melinda back to his bunk. They undressed and crawled into bed together. She cuddled up to him. He instantly felt a sense of calm wash over him. 

 

“I love you.” She told him. 

 

“I love you too.” 

 

“Everything’s going to be alright.” She said. “No matter what. We’ll make it alright.”

 

He smiled, remembering when all the times he’d said those words to her. Maybe he was finally getting through to her. But either way, it was comforting to hear her say it. Her voice was serenity. All she needed to do was say a few words and he felt a sense of peace. 

 

Melinda was all he needed. His strength came from her. He needed her to have the strength and the courage to do this job. There was no way he could be the director of SHIELD, that he could lead this team, if he didn’t have her by his side. He knew he could never live without her again.

 

Our story binds us like right and wrong

Your hand in mine

Marching to the beat of the storm 

 

“Phil, you know I meant it when I said I’ll never leave again, right?” Melinda asked the next day, seemingly out of the blue. They were walking down the hallway to his office. 

 

“I know.” He replied. “We’re meant to be together. Our lives are intertwined. And nothing will separate us again.”

 

He took her hand.

 

“I hope you’re right about that.” She said sadly. 

 

“I am, my love.” Phil told her. “I’ve been wrong about a lot of things in my life, but this isn’t one of them. No matter what happens, no matter what storms lie ahead of us, we’ll brave them together.”

 

And we walk together into the light

And my love will be your armor tonight 

We are lionhearts 

 

A few weeks passed. And a lot had changed. They had found an Inhuman in Colombia named Elena, who Mack had nicknamed Yo-Yo. Daisy seemed to think she’d be a good fit for the Secret Warriors. But not all the changes had been good. 

 

Bobbi and Hunter had been forced to leave SHIELD after they killed a Russian official. The loss had hit the team hard. But there was more to deal with. There always was.

 

Phil might have killed Ward on Maveth, but that didn’t mean Hydra was gone. Cut off one head, two more grow back. Gideon Malick was one new head, and while he suspected there was another, he had no real idea who it could be. 

 

And Hydra wasn’t their only problem. An anti-Inhuman group called the Watchdogs had appeared, and were staging attacks on Inhumans. Daisy had seen a glimpse of the future from another Inhuman that seemed to foreshadow a death and a dark future for SHIELD.

 

It was a lot to deal with. They never seemed to have time to recover from one thing before they had to move on to another. But he knew that they would be okay. They had each other.

 

He had Melinda by his side. To love him and support him and protect him. As they walked down the hallway to his office to see what new horrors awaited them today, he knew that whatever happened, they would face it together, like they always did. 

 

And we stand together, facing a war

And our love is gonna conquer it all

We are lionhearts 

 

Phil couldn’t quite believe what he was seeing. He stood in his office with Melinda, staring at the video in front of him. Grant Ward was staring into the camera. But that was impossible.

 

“You said you killed him.” Melinda pointed out.

 

“I did.”

 

“Obviously not hard enough.” 

 

“God, how is that even possible?” He sat down on the desk. 

 

“I don’t know.” 

 

“I killed him. I left his body to rot on Maveth. How is he back?”

 

“Apparently, he is somehow able to weasel his way out of everything. Death included.” She sat down beside him. 

 

“What are we going to do?” 

 

“We’re going to figure out what’s going on, and then we’re going to deal with it together. Like we always do” She stated. “No matter what happens, we’ll face it together. We’ll protect each other.”

 

“Something’s not right about this.” He remarked.

 

“I know.” She agreed. 

 

“I’m not gonna lie to you, I’m scared.” 

 

“So am I. But I’m going to protect you. I’m going to fight by your side. I love you, Phil.”

 

“I love you too, sweetheart.” 

 

Melinda’s POV 

You’re here like a silhouette 

When the darkness rules 

You’re the brightest moon

And I am safe 

 

The team was shaken by the revelation that an evil monster had made it back to Earth in Ward’s body. Melinda could tell that Phil was trying to be a strong leader for the team. But she could also tell that he blamed himself for this. He had killed Ward. He had left his body on Maveth. So he felt it was his fault that Hive made it back through the portal. 

 

They laid in bed that night. He had been silent. But she decided to speak up. 

 

“This isn’t your fault.” She told him. 

 

“It is.” He insisted. 

 

“You did what you had to do on Maveth.” She reminded him. “There was no way you could have guessed that this would happen.”

 

“It’s still my fault. We’re all in danger, and I’m the one to blame.” He turned to look at her sadly. “You’re in danger because of me. I’m supposed to keep you safe.”

 

“You do.” She kissed him softly. “I never feel safer than I do when I’m with you. I know that you’ll always do whatever you can to protect me. And I’ll do the same for you.” 

 

“I try.” Phil replied. “But how am I keeping you safe if I’m bringing evil alien entities back to Earth?”

 

“You make me feel safe just by being here. You’re my light in the darkness. You’re my moon, my sun, and my stars. I have nothing without you. Just an empty, meaningless life. You’re everything to me.”

 

“And you’re everything to me.”

 

The story binds us like right and wrong

Your hand in mine

Marching to the beat of the storm 

 

Melinda grabbed Phil’s hand. He held on tight. She kissed him passionately and rolled them over so she was on top of him. 

 

She pulled his shirt off over his head and ran a hand down his scar before leaning down to kiss it softly. Then she returned her lips to his. They undressed quickly while they made out. 

 

She moaned as she finally sank down on him. 

 

“Melinda,” he moaned into her mouth. “I love you.” 

 

“I love you too.” 

 

She swore that somehow every time they made love it felt more and more like love. She didn’t know that was possible. But he proved to her every time that it was. 

 

She knew that nothing could ever separate them. They were meant to be together. She had never believed in soulmates before him. But she did now. Because he was hers and she was his. And she always would be. 

 

And we walk together into the light 

And my love will be your armor tonight

We are lionhearts 

 

The next few days seemed to get worse and worse. Phil interrogated Malick and found out that Hive has the power to infect and control other Inhumans. Then Malick was murdered. And they soon realized that Daisy was infected. 

 

Melinda didn’t know what to say to Phil. Daisy was like a daughter to him. And now she was being controlled by this monster. And he blamed himself. 

 

He was sitting on his desk, staring off into space. She sat down beside him and took his hand. For a few moments, they just sat in silence. He broke the silence first. 

 

“What the hell are we supposed to do?” He asked. “How the hell are we supposed to defeat Hive? He can control anyone who’s Inhuman and suck the flesh off of anyone who isn’t.”

 

“I don’t know.” She admitted. “But we’ll figure it out. Hopefully Fitzsimmons can come up with something to prevent Hive from infecting people. And once we figure out what Hive is after, we can figure out a way to stop him and defeat him. It’s what we do. We’re a good team.”

 

“We shouldn’t have to figure this out.” He remarked. “This is my fault.”

 

“You can’t keep blaming yourself for this. You did what you had to do.”

 

“You did what you had to do, but you still moped around and blamed yourself for years.” 

 

“Why do you always feel the need to throw shit back at me like that?” She questioned, standing up. “Is that your only argument with me? I’m a depressed bitch so I have no right to tell you anything?”

 

“Melinda, I didn’t mean it like that.” He stood up and grabbed her hands. “I’m sorry, sweetheart.”

 

He let go of her hands to cup her face gently and pull her into a kiss. 

 

“Phil, I love you.” She told him when they pulled away. “I feel safe when I’m with you. I really do. I know you would never try to hurt me. And I know you would do anything to protect me. And I would do the same for you. Your love is my armor. And I hope mine is yours.”

 

“It is, love.” 

 

And we stand together facing a war 

And our love is gonna conquer it all 

We are lionhearts 

 

Melinda and Phil walked down to the kitchen to get dinner. Neither of them were particularly hungry, but they had to eat. Everyone else was in there, eating sandwiches in silence. Everyone except Simmons. 

 

They made their own sandwiches before joining the rest of the team around the table. A few minutes later, Fitz finished his sandwich and got up.

 

“I’m gonna go check on Jemma.” He told them. He left and returned several minutes later, still alone.

 

“Is Simmons alright?” Phil asked.

 

“No.” Fitz shook his head. “She won’t leave the lab. And she won’t eat anything. She hasn’t eaten anything since Daisy was infected by Hive.”

 

“I’ll go talk to her.” Melinda offered. 

 

She walked down the hallway to the lab. Simmons was sitting at her desk, looking through some of her research. Melinda sat down beside her, but Simmons didn’t acknowledge her. 

 

“You need to eat.” She told her. 

 

“I’m not hungry.”

 

“You still need to eat something.” 

 

“I can’t.” Simmons finally looked up at her. She had tears in her eyes. 

 

“You can. You have to.” Melinda insisted. “You need to stay strong. If not for yourself, then for Daisy.” 

 

“I don’t know if there’s anything I can do for her.” She cried.

 

“You’ll figure something out. We’re gonna get her back. And whatever happens after that, the two of you will face it together.”

 

“How can you possibly know that?” 

 

“Because you two love each other. And nothing can stop that. I’ve already seen it in action before. A love like that is strong enough to conquer any war that may lie ahead.”

 

“That doesn’t sound like something you’d believe.” Simmons remarked.

 

“I didn’t used to. But I do now. Because I’ve found a love like that myself.” She got up and gently pulled Simmons up with her. “Now come get something to eat. Daisy needs you to.”

 

Phil’s POV

You’re never far from where I am

Like a lighthouse, bring me home 

 

As the days went by, things continued to get worse. Hive still had Daisy, and they weren’t sure how to get her back. Fits and Simmons had come up with a cure for Hive’s infection, but Simmons thought it was too dangerous to try. But they were already in a dangerous situation. Daisy was completely under Hive’s control, and they didn’t know where she was. And he had infected other Inhumans as well. He had also captured a scientist named Holden Radcliffe. 

 

Phil sat in his office with the team. They were trying their best to plan their next move. They were attempting to track Daisy and figure out what Hive was after. But they were having no luck so far. They could go after him if they at least knew where he was, but they didn’t. So what the hell could they do? Their options were pretty limited. At this point, their best course of action was to continue trying to track Hive down. They were scanning every security camera and satellite they could access. Which thanks to the system Daisy had set up before she was captured, was pretty much every camera in the world. But unfortunately, because Daisy had set it up, she would know how to avoid detection. So it could be awhile before they found anything. 

 

Eventually, he sent the rest of the team out of his office. He didn’t need them to all be crowded in there. He would call them back in if the cameras found anything. And if any of them got any leads, they would tell him. So he sent them all to the lab or the gym or wherever. 

 

But Melinda stayed in his office with him. When everyone else left, she crawled in his lap and laid her head on his chest. 

 

“What if we don’t find her?” He asked sadly.

 

“We will.” Melinda reassured him. “We’ll find them. We’ll go after Hive and we’ll take him out.”

 

“What if things go wrong?”

 

“Then we’ll figure out another plan. We’re going to take him down, no matter what. And I promise that no matter what happens, I’ll be by your side. Always. I’ll celebrate our victory with you or comfort you after defeat. I’ll be there for you no matter what. No matter where you are, I’ll never be far away. And I’ll find you and take you home. I can’t lose you again. I’d never be able to live without you.”

 

“And I’d never be able to live without you.” 

 

Melinda’s POV 

You’re never far from me

Let your spirit glow 

 

Melinda was still in Phil’s office with him when they finally got something. The system had seen Daisy. She was seen in an abandoned garage in the Southwest. They were both immediately suspicious.

 

“This could be a trap, Phil.” She pointed out. “She made this system. She knows how to avoid it. She almost had to have let herself get caught.”

 

“It could also be a call for help.” He argued hopefully. “Maybe she wants us to come rescue her.”

 

“I doubt it.” She took his hand. “Phil, I know how much Daisy means to you. But she isn’t herself right now. If she meant for us to catch her, it isn’t because she wants to be saved. We need to be prepared for the possibility that Hive is luring us into a trap.”

 

“We need to get the rest of the team up here now.” Phil told her. She nodded.

 

With the help of the team, they formulated a plan. Melinda would go in undercover and figure out what was going on. Then Mack would lead the team to Hive, with the singular purpose of taking him out. 

 

Twenty minutes later, Melinda sat down in the cockpit of the quinjet. Phil sat down next to her. She took his hand and gave it a reassuring squeeze. 

 

“We’re gonna take him out, Phil.” She told him. “We have to.”

 

“I know.” He replied. “Whatever happens, we’ll figure it out. Whatever happens, I can handle it, as long as I have you by my side.”

 

“You always will.” I promised.

 

Phil’s POV 

And we walk together into the light 

And my love will be your armor tonight 

We are lionhearts 

 

Hours later, Phil and Melinda walked out of the quinjet and back to base. The mission hadn’t gone well. They had figured out what Hive wanted. He was trying to recreate the original Kree experiment that created the first Inhumans. But they hadn’t been able to take down Hive. And Mack had nearly been killed trying to get Daisy back.

 

Phil walked back to his room and sat down on his bed. He almost didn’t want Melinda there. He almost wanted to be alone. But he knew she wouldn’t leave even if he told her to. Because she wanted to be there for him. And she knew that he really did want her there, whether he said it or not.

 

She sat down beside him and leaned her head on his shoulder. He pulled her close to him. He felt tears fall down his face. 

 

“I’m sorry, Phil.” Melinda told him softly. “I thought we could beat him.”

 

“So did I.” 

 

“I’m sorry Daisy wouldn’t come back with us.” 

 

“You were right.” He replied sadly. “I should’ve known better. She’s completely brainwashed. She’s under his control. Of course she wouldn’t want to leave.”

 

“None of this is your fault.”

 

“How isn’t it?” Phil asked. “I killed Ward in a fit of rage. I left his body on Maveth. Hive used his body to get back to Earth before the portal closed. All of this is my fault. And now Daisy’s the one paying for it.”

 

“You can’t blame yourself for this. And sitting around moping isn’t going to fix anything. Trust me, I speak from experience.” 

 

He planted a soft kiss in her hair, trying to just take comfort in her presence. She was right and he knew it. Beating himself up for his past mistakes wasn’t going to solve the problem they had now. He wasn’t entirely sure what would solve it. But he knew that if anything could, he would figure it out with her. 

 

Melinda’s POV 

And we stand together, facing a war 

And our love is gonna conquer it all 

We are lionhearts 

 

“Why don’t we lay down, love?” Melinda suggested. “It’s been a long day.”

 

“I don’t think I’ll be able to sleep.” Phil replied.

 

“You need to rest.” She insisted. She gave him a look that told him not to even attempt to argue. 

 

She helped him undress, then undressed herself. She crawled into bed next to him. She kissed him softly and cuddled up close to him. 

 

“It’s gonna be okay.” She comforted him.

 

“I have a feeling we have a hard war ahead of us.” He remarked. 

 

“We do.” She agreed. “But we’ll get through it together. We can lead our team to victory as long as we’re there, fighting side by side. And I’ll always be there to fight by your side.”

 

“So will I.” He promised. “I love you.”

 

“I love you too.”

 

Phil’s POV 

And we walk together into the light 

And my love will be your armor tonight 

We are lionhearts 

 

Several days passed, but they all blurred together to Phil. They had finally defeated Hive, but it had come at a price. Andrew had died saving Daisy. And Lincoln had died, sacrificing himself to save the world. Daisy was devastated. She and Lincoln had been close. And she blamed herself for what happened. She thought it should have been her that died. 

 

And so she ran off. She had seemingly disappeared into thin air. Jemma was distraught. Daisy had left without even saying goodbye to her. She was trying her best to hold it together for the sake of the team, but he could tell she was struggling. The team had begun a search for Daisy, but so far they’d gotten no leads. 

 

Phil sat in his office, anxiously waiting for some sign of her to show up in the system. He knew deep down that if she didn’t want to be found, it was going to be a long time before any trace of her appeared. 

 

He was staring at the screen on the wall when Melinda walked in. She sat down beside him.

 

“How was your day?” She asked.

 

“Well, I’ve spent every free moment here, waiting for a sign of Daisy to show up like a desperate idiot.” He replied. “You?”

 

“I’ve spent my free time with Jemma. I’m worried about her. She’s taken Daisy’s disappearance hard.”

 

“Well, when someone who said they loved you just up and leaves without a word, it can be a hard pill to swallow.” He remarked, with a twinge of bitterness in his voice. “But who knows? Maybe Daisy will just waltz back in like nothing happened.”

 

“God, grow up, Phil.” Melinda snapped, standing up. “Just because you’re upset doesn’t mean you get to be a dick to me and throw shit back in my face. You know I never meant to hurt you. You know I love you. You know I’m never leaving you again.”

 

“I know.” Phil stood up and took her hands in his. “I’m sorry, love. I’m just worried about Daisy. She’s like a daughter to me.”

 

“And we’re gonna find her.” She told him. “She’ll turn up somewhere. No one can run forever. Sooner or later, we all end up back where we belong.”

 

Melinda’s POV 

And we stand together facing a war 

And our love is gonna conquer it all 

We are lionhearts 

 

A few weeks passed. Signs of Daisy had started to show up, in the form of earthquakes and bank robberies. SHIELD was sending people out to find her. And they had a new director. SHIELD was preparing to become an official government organization again, and Phil didn’t feel like he was the right person to be the face of it. So they’d hired someone new. His name was Jeffrey Mace, and Melinda didn’t like him at all. 

 

Phil was in Mace’s office, which used to be Phil’s office, discussing the mission to find Daisy. Melinda was in the lab with Jemma, who was desperately trying to pull herself together to impress the new director. But right now, Jemma was sitting at her desk crying.

 

“I don’t understand why she left me.” She sobbed. “I know she’s grieving, but she should be here with me, where I can help her, not robbing banks and causing earthquakes. Or she could have at least taken me with her.”

 

“Simmons, I don’t think you’d really want to be a criminal on the run from the law.” Melinda replied.

 

“I would if it meant I could be with her.” She snapped. “You don’t understand, May. I’d do anything to be with her. I love her and she just up and left me without a word.”

 

Melinda pulled her into a hug and let Simmons cry into her chest until she calmed down. It broke her heart to see her like this, so worried and upset over the woman she loved. And it broke her heart even more to think that she had once left Phil like this. 

 

“I’m sorry.” Simmons said eventually. She pulled away from her and wiped her eyes. “I need to go to the bathroom and get my shit back together. I can’t have the new director thinking I’m a mess now, can I?”

 

She gave an obviously forced smile before walking away. 

 

As Simmons left the room, Phil came in. 

 

“How’d the meeting go?” Melinda asked. 

 

“He wants me to lead the mission to search for Daisy.” Phil told her. 

 

“That’s great, Phil.” She replied. “When do we leave?”

 

“We?” He raised an eyebrow. Her stomach dropped. “Um, Mace actually wants me to take Mack. He wants you to stay here to train the new recruits.”

 

“What happened to never leaving each other again?” She questioned, walking over to him. “I promised never to run off on you again, but now you’re running off on me.”

 

“This is different.” He argued. “I have no choice. I’m going on a mission to find Daisy. I’m not just running away. I would never do that to you.”

 

“I don’t want you to go, Phil.” Melinda felt tears well up in her eyes. She knew she was being childish, but she didn’t care. “I need you.”

 

“And I need you, sweetheart.” He gently cupped her face in his hands. “But you’re needed here. And I’m needed out there.”

 

“So when do you leave?”

 

“Mace wants us to leave first thing in the morning.”

 

“How long will you be gone?”

 

“I don’t know.” He answered. “Until we can find her and bring her back. The Zephyr is designed to be able to fly for months at a time without landing.” 

 

Melinda grabbed him and hugged him tightly. She never wanted to let go. She didn’t want to let him leave. The thought of him being away for months was almost unbearable. They had promised they were always going to be there for each other. She never imagined they would be forced to break that promise like this. 

 

“Honey, you’ll be alright.” He planted a soft kiss in her hair. “You’re the strongest person I’ve ever met. And I’m always going to be here for you, even if I can’t be with you physically. You’ll always be in my heart.”

 

“And you’ll always be in mine.” She pulled away enough to kiss him. 

 

“We’ll get through this together.” He promised.

 

“We always do.” She smiled through her tears.

 

“I love you.”

 

“I love you too.”