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Applied Quantum Superluminal Communication

Chapter Text

The (short) bus is quiet on the way back.

You avoid the gaze of both Fitz and Skye, and, oh why not, May's as well, despite her being in the front seat. The view outside of the van is absolutely fascinating, after all. Who would ever tire of endless pine?

But the silence can only last for so long, even with two people concentrating on keeping their own thoughts from each other and a third who was simply quiet as a rule.

"You're not very subtle, are you?"

Skye panics. You panic.

May does not take her eyes off the road, though you imagine she doesn't need to in order to take in the response to her question.

"Subtle? You mean about my love for... coffee?"

It's a pretty weak response, and you broadcast the thought to Skye. She returns with an image of you complimenting Sitwell's bald head, which... point taken. (But also, the clear and steady image thing is new. You attempt to send a literal warning sign to Skye, but you don't get anything back.)

"The non-fraternization rules are in place for a purpose. If it interferes with your job..."

There's a weird surge of relief, but also renewed panic once again. In the seat next to yours, Fitz chokes on something.

"What? No! No. There isn't anything—Jemma and I aren't—that's not—"

May's response is... silence.

Not much of a surprise.

Skye's response is a sharp 'shit' that only you can hear.

And you? You blush. A lot. And keep looking out the window.

---

The (regular) Bus doesn't bring much relief.

You think you might go crazy from the combination of May's disapproving gaze and Fitz's sad puppy face and Skye's... nothing. There's nothing from Skye and that's the worst of it all. The sending images thing is new, but so is this apparent ability to block you out completely—a white blank wall that Skye had forced between the two of you approximately three seconds after May's unfortunate misinterpretation. A few images make their way through, but nothing concrete, and out of some kind of ingrained politeness, you try not to think too much about what that one flash of bare skin had meant.

To be honest, Skye's restraint is impressive and likely worth looking into, but also annoying, and not something you particularly have time for at the moment, not with everything else taking up a surprising amount of metaphorical space in your metaphorically large brain.

Which is why the next time you see her, you immediately pull her into the closest empty hallway, down below deck. Though your hand jerks away from her as soon as you’ve gotten her there because… skin. For some reason you feel you ought not to think about the bare skin of Skye’s wrist and… god, you are falling apart.

You could talk out loud—perhaps that would be kinder—but you find yourself using non-verbal communication. Maybe to keep from focusing on the emotions you and Skye seem to both be feeling. Just the words.

'We should talk about it.'

'Or we could... not?'

'Skye...'

'I mean, you already know right? You can feel... look it's no big deal.'

'Skye...'

'Seriously, let's just... for now. Leave it be.'

"…Okay."

You twitch and Skye twitches and both of you try not to look at each other and it’s all remarkably unpleasant.

But then the thought occurs to you (and you ask it aloud):

"You think they're not real, don't you."

"What?" Skye's tone is one of such disbelief that you realize you must have completely missed the mark. It happens time to time in social situations.

"Oh. I was simply considering... I thought you might have considered as well that these feelings we are... feeling may not be entirely organic."

“'We'”? Skye’s eyes widen and you try to stay calm.

"Yes. Surely you..."

"No, uh, yeah. I know. I just... what do you mean?"

"It's possible this connection has fostered some kind of emotional bond that is deeper than what was there before. Obviously I have no evidence to this, but it seems plausible that in any magnetic rewiring of our neural pathways, there might be side-effects and..."

You stop because the wall is up again. Very blank and very solid.

"Right," Skye says, aloud. "Yeah. I hadn’t—that makes sense, though. So... we just wait till you figure all this out. And then things'll be all normal again."

There's something in her voice you can't define; the inflection on 'normal', perhaps.

"Yes," you begin slowly. "That is... a possibility. But, Skye is something..."

"Nope! No. Look I just... no offense... but I'd kinda like you out of my head. I'm not super good at this. I'm hardly used to having... friends like you guys. And now sometimes I think about how your mum cried at your graduation and how Zirconium is a really cool element and… this is just a bit much, okay? So... um... I'll let you get back to work."

Skye's turning and walking away before you can even really respond.

'Okay.'

It might be your imagination, but you think the word might bounce back. Non-received.

---

(This time, it takes five hours and fifty-three minutes before you see Skye again.)

---

The room is silent, and so is your mind.

It seems impossible and probably is, but Skye’s thumb is pressing into the knot of your tie and her fingers have curled around the base, and you are holding your breath and cannot think of anything other than the light pressure on the column of your throat.

“Skye…”

‘No.’ Her tone is calm. Quiet. Sure.‘Like this.’

Like that; so you can feel Skye’s every intention injected straight into your cranial nerves.

‘Skye…’

‘Better.’

The pressure increases on your throat and your exhalation pierces the silence with surprising force; Skye is close enough that the gust flutters the few strands of hair clinging to the sides of her cheeks, and you feel captivated by the slight movement. So captivated, you hardly notice when Skye releases her grip on your tie (would not notice at all if not for the way her fingertips graze the notch of your jugular), until her hands are suddenly playing with the hem of your sweater.

‘You’re warm, aren’t you?’

It’s not much of a question, even if Skye’s thoughts hold the proper inflection of one. Still, you nod. Once. And Skye waits for that smallest of gestures before tugging upwards. She moves slowly, but the cool air hits the bare skin of your stomach and you know your shirt has stuck to the cotton of your sweater. It’s a simple imbalance of charge on the surface layer of the fabric—easily rectified by an application of force in opposite directions—but then one of Skye’s hands finds that revealed skin and suddenly you’re not so sure what any of that even means. Or why you would ever care.

‘You are warm.’

Correction: you are on fire. Your shirt drops back down with a final tug, but Skye’s hand is still underneath and you are on fire.

“Oh, god, Skye…”

‘No. Remember? Like this.’

“I…”

You don’t know if you possibly can.

Not with Skye looking at you as though she can read every single emotion ricocheting around the inside of your skull (confusing you to the point of inaccurate metaphors) when her fingers begin to slide up your stomach and climb up your rib cage (skipping the false ribs and touching on the 7th, then 6th, then oh god, nearly to the 5th).

“Skye, I…”

She shakes her head and her fingers inch back down a rung.

You wet your lips and try again.

Skye. Please.’

The fingers move back to their earlier position and you shudder; Skye’s eyes are very dark and very close and you don’t know that you’ve ever seen them either quite so dark or quite so close ever before. In fact, you’re sure of it. Because if you had, you certainly would have suffered the same kind of sinus tachycardia you seem to be experiencing now, your heart rate increasing to a point that (you’re intellectually aware) is well within the bounds of an appropriate physiological response to a catecholamine surge caused by arousal (but illogically think may cause you to pass out at any second).

‘Please, what?’

Skye’s lips curl, though you can hardly see them, as close to your own as they are.

You know.

Surely she does. Surely she can feel your erratic pulse and fast breathing and rushing thoughts and (perhaps most of all) the want that nearly vibrates within you.

Because you can feel it in her.

When you close your eyes you can feel that too; the way your name repeats as a cadence that matches the pound of her heart—the way she wants—the way she aches to touch every inch of your skin as her fingers trace the curve of your breast and to smell the scent of your shampoo when she presses her lips to your neck and to taste the curve of your jaw as she licks her way along it.

‘That?

‘Yes.’ You nearly groan. ‘Yes. All of that.’

Even with your eyes closed, you’re aware of her intention a split-second before it happens, but it hardly matters, because once Skye’s lips are on yours, time becomes irrelevant.

Skye’s lips are on yours and the touch is light and tentative and why is it light and tentative and you feel and hear her laughter at the thought and she’s calling you demanding and you’re about to respond with something extremely clever and witty, but then her mouth is opening and her teeth scrape against your upper lip when you suck in a breath of air (air that comes from Skye’s own lungs—slightly deoxygenated, of course, but you don’t think that’s the main reason you feel dizzy).

Because Skye’s free hand has found your—no, Jemma’s—no, your tie again and she’s tugging it (and you) closer and her other hand is sliding back, thumb running along the underside of your breast and god, when she bites down on Jemma’s—no, yours—no—

—No, Jemma’s bottom lip, you feel like you might die because you can taste Jemma’s ChapStick, which you’re positive is strawberry flavored because you’ve seen it lying around her lab and it’s about the only label you understand in that place. Well… if you’re lucky you can pick up a few more things—two percent of the labels, maybe—that’s pretty much your max comprehension of everything in that place, and honestly, everything that goes on in Jemma’s head, normally.

But not now. Definitely not now. Now you understand everything, because ‘everything’ is mostly your name and please and sort of chant of godgodgod and… basically the same sort of things that are running through your own when Jemma tangles her fingers in your hair and slides her tongue against yours and ohshitohgodohfuck you need more skin. You need—Skye needs—no, you need more skin and it’s like Jemma can hear you (which, yes, obviously, she totally can) because she’s pulling your henley up and over your head and it actually kind of sucks for just a moment—that moment when you have to separate your lips from hers—but then you’re crashing back together with even more force than before and for the first time you’re glad that these pods are so fucking small; it makes it easier to push Jemma—no, you—no, Jemma—no—

—No, you back and onto the bed and Skye’s body lands on top of yours and her knee is right between your legs and she’s frantically pulling at your tie and then the buttons of your shirt and—yes—finally skin on skin and you could just die, you could actually just—

—Just—

Wake up.

There is no resistance when you lurch upwards, eyes flying open and breath coming in quick short pants. There is no resistance because Skye’s body is not on top of yours and there are no hands on your skin though there is a wetness between your thighs and oh, god.

You stare at the wall that connects your pod to Fitz’s and it’s like you can see straight through to the next pod over, where Skye lies in a too large t-shirt and boxer shorts and slightly mused hair and heavy eyelids and long fingers and sure hands and shit, shit, shit—

‘J—Jemma?’

You hadn’t known it was possible to stutter via your mental link, but Skye’s apparently managed it. That’s not exactly the bit you’re focusing on though, because in that word (in your name) there is… everything. And how does one respond to that?

How can you possibly respond to any of this?

‘Skye—did you—?’

Skye licks her lips and you swear you can feel her tongue against your own and—

‘Yeah. Yeah. I definitely—we definitely—’

Right. And this is precisely the exact opposite of giving Skye time to think on things, isn’t it?

You feel your cheeks heat up as you shift a bit on your mattress; it doesn’t relieve any of the embarrassment or (worse) the coiled pressure below your stomach and honestly, it just makes it all a bit worse. A lot worse.

‘Oh, bloody hell, this is—’

‘Bad… or too good—or—um. Bad. I meant bad. Were you going to say ‘bad’?’

The sheets underneath you are bunched and rumpled, and you grab a handful, breathing deep and grasping for calm.

‘Perhaps we ought to—we should… sleep. Yes! Sleep. Just… sleep.’

It’s a laughable idea. You know this. You’re well aware.

And clearly Skye is as well.

‘Sleep! Sleep?’ You cannot, of course, see Skye’s face, but you know it to be pinched in incredulity. ‘How the hell am I supposed to sleep, Jemma? I haven’t been this freaking turned on since… fuck, I don’t even know. And—shit—don’t make that face! It was your dream too! It was—it was our dream! And it’s great that you can just turn it all off and go to sleep, but I’ve got to take care of this!’

Take care of it.

Your thighs tense at even the thought.

Masturbation is perfectly fine and natural, of course, and there were actually a variety of health benefits reportedly associated with the action such as maintaining hormone levels, improving pelvic circulation, not to mention the mood elevation—

‘Oh my god, Jemma. Look, fine. It’s weird. I know it’s weird. I don’t want to make you uncomfortable. And—look—I’m going to take a cold shower, okay?’

‘What! No!’ Skye’s thoughts freeze and you realize what you’ve said. You stare at the ceiling intently and miss the plastic stars you’d once had as a child. At least that would be something else to focus on. ‘That is… I’m not uncomfortable. Or—well—yes, I am uncomfortable. I mean, goodness! I know, logically, that this is most certainly a naturally byproduct of linking our consciousness and emotions and thus a shared dream of this nature would have likely happened to anyone in this situation and—‘

You’re rambling. And don’t quite believe what you’re saying. Had you and Fitz mind-melded in this way, this most certainly would not have been the result. You’ve learned quite well by now that the two of you do not exactly have the sexual attraction required for a satisfactory—

‘You and Fitz? Are you serious?’

Oh. Bugger.

Skye sounds shocked, amused, and jealous all in one and you simply don’t have the mental capacity required to deal with all of this right now!

‘It was one time! Oh, goodness. Don’t tell him you know. You can’t tell him you know! We swore on the Realm of the Nebulae that we’d never tell anyone! And—and that’s not the point, anyways! I just meant! I only meant! You can—if you would like—feel free to—’

‘Get off?’

Skye exhales slowly and you do the same. The mattress squeaks when you shift and you reflexively straighten the shirt of your nightwear, smoothing it down over your stomach and it… doesn’t particularly help matters, honestly.

‘Yes. I… won’t be offended. We can try to… block each other out. Perhaps.’

Her response is rapid. Hardly thought at all before it’s transmitted directly to you.

‘What if I want you to listen?’

You squeak. Audibly.

It’s clearly not something Skye meant to say—or, rather, think—aloud. But there’s no turning back now; not after you’ve given her permission, as it were, to masturbate to the thought of… you. Essentially. And it seems that Skye has given up on trying to organize her thoughts or convey them in an orderly manner, because they are a blur of want and need and—and relief when she starts to slip her boxers off and you can nearly see it; the lift of her hips as she removes them and her underthings (which are plain cotton, you hear her think fleetingly and embarrassingly, and you find that sexy, for reasons you cannot exactly pinpoint) and the way her chest heaves when she slides her right hand over her pelvic bone and—oh.

Oh. Hell.

Oh bugger.

God.

You try not to listen.

The periodic elements game is one you and Fitz have played for years as a means of a distraction and you try to do so now, even starting at 109 instead of 1, for further challenge and diversion, and it’s Meitnerium, Hassium, Bohrium, Seaborgium, Dubnium and—

‘Jemma, I swear to god—” Skye growls, because apparently one can growl in telepathic form and it’s quite effective—if the intended effect is to force you to stop thinking about Rutherfordium and instead focus on more basic biological needs and functions—seeing as your pajama top is halfway unbuttoned before you even realize your own intentions.

Though those intentions certainly become known when you slide the matching bottoms off without hesitation and your hand follows the route Skye’s had taken on her own body not two minutes before. And oh—oh, yes— there’s a significant amount of lubrication present and—

‘Fucking hell, Jemma—god—d’you have to call it that?’ Not that Skye sounds particularly angry, groaning and stumbling over her thoughts as she is.

‘Pardon me, but that’s the proper terminology! What would you prefer I—oh—oh bloody yes—”

But when you find your clit, fingers sliding down and then back up, proper terminology hardly matters anymore.

‘Wet,’ Skye moans. ‘Call it—You’re wet. Fuck. So wet.’

You’ll call it whatever Skye wants you to call it.

(Do whatever she’d like you to do.)

The dream had left you wanting and aching, but now… this is something else entirely. You’ve never felt anything like this; your thumb is moving in already somewhat frantic circles and your fingers find the source of that wetness, your arousal spiking to further heights as Skye’s building pleasure pushes through your bond in waves.

It’s… impossible. An endless loop of you feeling her and her feeling you and you feeling her feeling you and—and—and—your fingers are curling or maybe Skye’s are and you can hear (feel) your name blended in her less coherent thoughts of yesfuckshityes when she tumbles over the edge.

It’s enough to send you there as well.

Whimpering and biting at your lip and tasting the blood and not as preoccupied with avoiding being overheard as you probably ought to be. Hips arching off the mattress and free hand fisting the sheets and heels digging into the comforter bunched at the foot of the bed. Skye’s name sliding across your tongue and occupying the whole of your mind and burning a path through your veins.

‘I—holy—Jemma—holy shit.’

The sound of your breathing is loud, but you’re glad for the obvious sign that you are, in fact, still alive.

Because—

Holy shit, indeed.

---

The next morning is awkward.

It is extremely awkward.

Adverbs are meant to be used with care, but you think you’re entitled to the use of one here. Extremely entitled, even.

Because you know awkward. You often live in a realm of awkwardness. You regularly contribute to the overall sense of awkward.

But the morning after the… incident is beyond even your (worst) expectations. The awkwardness radiates in every dimension—touches on not only physical, but also mental sensation. You can both see and feel the blush on Skye’s cheeks and neck and chest and… yes, best not to venture any further down that line of thought, because goodness, you’ve never seen even Fitz turn this red and he’s as pale as a sheet of standard paper.

It is obvious to you that you must do something about this. And with haste.

“It was only sex.”

Skye nearly chokes on her coffee and her eyes widen to a point that is surely uncomfortable.

Perhaps not a successful intervention then. You try again.

“Not even sex, really, as there was no penetration, to which the term ‘intercourse’ technically implies, but oh, it is a complicated definition, isn’t it? I believe mutual masturbation falls under the vague category of ‘outercourse’, though…”

“Oh god, Simmons! Please stop!”

"I'm simply saying it's nothing to be... concerned with." You pause, looking down at your yogurt (it's peach, Skye's least favorite flavor, and you'd taken it from the fridge without thinking, leaving the raspberry in place). "I just... I wouldn't want you to feel uncomfortable. Around me. Ever."

You're fidgeting, you know, moving your hands to the sides of your own neck and rubbing the skin there. But you feel... uneasy. Emotions have been muted from Skye this morning and you'd gotten used to the metaphorical cheat sheet that the telepathy has offered you the past several days. But now... well, now that you think on it, it's feeling rather... fuzzy. Beyond even the blank white wall Skye is so desperately projecting. The thought makes you pause for a moment, and consider the implications. Which means you nearly miss Skye's response, ironically enough.

"No! I... hey, I just didn't want to make you feel uncomfortable. Since um—you know—obviously you know, I mean, but ugh—you know, I enjoyed it." Skye flushes. "And you seem to think that's just a weird byproduct of this whole thing—us having these feelings, but... uh, yeah, I just don't want you to feel weird."

The phrasing is odd, and you abandon your thoughts on the change in your connection, at least for the moment.

"Do you not?"

"What?"

For the first time, Skye fully looks up from her coffee. There's a good deal of distance between the two of you—she had jammed herself into the far corner of the kitchen upon her arrival, seemingly as far away as possible from the counter where you now sat.

"I... do you not think that? Do you have any contrary evidence that what we're feeling is... not related to the changes in our brain chemistry?"

You sound hopeful. You know you sound hopeful. And Skye doesn't need to open herself up to your connection to hear it, you're pretty sure.

Her face pinches a little in confusion, but there's almost a smile flirting about her lips.

"Um. I... maybe. I dunno. Maybe we should... wait. You know? See what happens after... after you figure this out."

Your nod is slow and thoughtful.

"That seems wise." Which brings you back to the wall blocking Skye's thoughts from yours. "But I may need you to... let me in. In order to do so."

Skye looks down again. "Oh. Yeah. Um..."

"You may need to trust me."

She sighs a little, and the wall is gone.

I do.'

 

---

"Alright, and how about now?"

"A bicycle. Or motorcycle? A scooter? I dunno. It's red."

"Mmhmm, and now?"

"Uhh... 'It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...'"

"And now?"

"A... ribbon? Like a little blue award ribbon type thing?"

"Fascinating. Absolutely fascinating. It seems as though there may be a direct correlation between the strength of the association between the thought and the transmitter and the clarity of the received image! Was it that way in the beginning? I don't recall it being so. Perhaps if we..."

You look up at Skye's groan to find she has dropped her head on the lab bench, directly across from you.

"Can you tell what I'm thinking right now, Simmons?"

It takes a moment of concentration, but you eventually realize Skye is sending you the image of a very cranky baby.

"I don't..."

"That's me. I am tired. And my brain hurts. I think you've made my brain hurt. I mean, god, you're just asking me the same thing over and over, basically. This isn't even real science, is it?"

"But..." You look down at your notebook, perplexed. "I'm writing it all down. In a chart. Not to mention, repetition is a valuable component in any rigorous..."

"Jemma," Skye whines. "Please. Break."

Skye's sad little pout when she raises her head is a far more effective visual than any random whining child.

"Oh, very well. I'm not sure I can learn any more from this today, regardless."

"Thank you!"

For someone who claims to be exhausted, Skye jumps up from the bench remarkably quickly. And rounds it with speed as well. And then plants a kiss on your cheek with more enthusiasm that you would have expected three seconds ago. (Had you been expecting anything like this at all, which you hadn't!) And it's silly isn't it? That a simple kiss on the cheek could do this to you when not two nights ago you had...

Skye is out of the lab before she realizes what she's done and what you're thinking about, and maybe certain images are difficult to transmit, but you're quite sure you can feel her flush of embarrassment.

Or maybe that's your own.

Sometimes it's hard to tell.

---

“Jemma.”

You know you’re in trouble immediately. Without even turning around. Without being able to read his mind. Without a single other word. You know you are in trouble and you nearly twitch with the knowledge that there is nothing you can say or do to escape this confrontation—for it has been building for some time now.

Still, you try.

“Oh, Fitz! I was just…”

He looks sad, and that stops your babble of potential lies that would certainly be of no use anyways, as soon as you turn.

“You can tell me. Whatever it is. You know you can tell me.”

You nod and then take a deep breath.

“Mindreading.”

Fitz’s eyes widen.

---

With Fitz in the know (about the mindreading, at least), things become easier.

Certainly, lying has always put a bit of a strain on you, but more than that, you now have Fitz’s help in the laboratory, which is a tremendous relief; you have always worked best together.

Thus, things become easier.

Which is why it makes sense that things immediately after begin to fall apart.

(You like to think about the second law of thermodynamics—every process occurring in nature proceeds in the sense in which the sum of the entropies of all bodies taking part in the process is increased. In the limit, i.e. for reversible processes, the sum of the entropies remains unchanged. Order in one aspect is always met with disorder in another, and this had always seemed to you to apply to areas a bit beyond the scientifically acceptable.)

It starts with the static.

That is the only way you can describe it; a slight static to Skye’s thoughts—as though tuned in to a station not even a megahertz off from the true number. When you concentrate it only strikes harder against your skull—a grating sound that distorts the connection between you two, at odd intervals.

Soon, the words start to fade completely.

It happens so quickly—in the span of a day—that you feel it must be a mistake. But you wake up the next morning and the ability to send fully worded thoughts to Skye is gone, though you can still feel her worry, vibrant and strong and entirely separate from your own anxiety.

“It’s likely the power of the charge is fading. Skye shouldn’t have been able to hold it in the first place, really, so it’s not surprising that it’s starting to slip,” Fitz intones, eyes stuck on the screen before him.

You exchange a look with Skye—full of worry—and her hand takes yours, in an almost absentminded gesture that shoots warmth through you more effectively than any cup of tea.

“But this is a good thing.” You look up and Fitz is looking at the both of you in utter confusion. “Isn’t it?”

“Right,” Skye says, uncertain and unconvinced. “Of course it is. The problem’s going away. All on it’s own. Nice and easy.”

You can feel her sadness and your own; illogical and irrational, but still strongly felt.

“Yes,” you repeat. “It’s wonderful.”

---

When you wake, two days later, your room is dark, and a quick look at your clock tells you this would be the case even if you weren't up high enough in the clouds for this to not necessarily be indicative of the time of day. But it's not the darkness that catches your attention—not really. Rather, it is the sudden, inexplicable feeling of loss. Or, at least, inexplicable for a long, frightening moment, before you realize what it is that's suddenly missing.

The moment you do, you are out of your bed, stumbling over your sheets, out of the door and... nearly colliding into Skye right outside.

Her hands come up to brace your shoulders and keep you steady and you have absolutely no idea what she's thinking when her bare skin touches yours; there is no parallel flash of heat or momentary twirling of her thoughts or wordless 'oh' pressing soft against your temporal lobe or... perhaps there is, but suddenly it’s not something you can feel for youself. And it all feels so very empty.

"Skye. It's..."

"Gone. Yeah."

Skye sounds morose, but you feel your lips lift, if only a bit.

"And yet you still knew what I was going to say."

"Doesn't really take a crazy weird brain meld to manage that. Or... not this time, at least."

"A crazy weird brain meld that's gone," you say, and now you're the one that sounds morose.

"Oh, I dunno about that. Since you just used the phrase 'crazy weird brain meld'. Maybe my brain rubbed off on yours." Skye makes a face. "Yikes. Sorry about that."

"We actually should, most likely, investigate the residual effects of the superluminal communication—if that's indeed what was occurring—on patterns of..."

"And she's back," Skye grins. "Guess my brain junk didn't totally contaminate yours. Yay."

It occurs to you then that you and Skye are standing in the lobby of the Bus, in your pajamas, mourning the loss of the ability to share thoughts, and none of this is particularly strange at all. The thought makes you smile a little, and shake your head. And Skye, even without being able to hear the thought for herself, seems to understand it all the same.

"Our lives are kinda weird, huh?"

"That is perhaps an understatement, Skye."

She shrugs a little, but doesn't correct you. In fact, she goes silent, a bit of a bashful expression appearing. You know this will not be the last time you wish you knew exactly what is on her mind.

"What is it?"

"Well... I was just thinking—" She swallows. "Even though our lives are weird. And we're always running into problems and bad guys and 0-8-4s and craziness..."

"Skye!"

"...I was just thinking maybe we could make time for like... a date."

You feel your eyebrows rise.

"I know you said maybe... it might be a mind meld thing, but..." Skye steels herself. "I think you're wrong."

"Skye..."

"Yeah!" She cuts in again, more strongly this time, taking a step closer in the process. "Yeah! Wrong! I think Jemma Simmons is wrong. Because being in your head didn't change anything. That's always how it's been! Those thoughts have been there for a while and—well— they’ve been there for me, at least. I've always thought you were cute. And... maybe I've had that dream before too," she adds, blushing so strongly that it's visible through her dark skin.

"Oh. That's..."

Skye's expression is anxious, but you're not entirely sure what to say. Other than the obvious.

"Okay."

Or maybe not so obvious, because Skye’s face scrunches up in confusion and she shifts on her feet anxiously.

"‘It's okay’ or ‘okay, I'll go on a date with you, you incredible, gorgeous, former hacktivist, you’?"

"The latter," you laugh, but then blush when you realize how easily the words have come out, and your next words come out far softer. “Definitely the latter.”

---

“Your coffee’s brewing. Four minutes, thirty-five seconds,” you say, not looking up from your tablet, and a kiss on your temple is the only response you get, though you can feel Skye move around you into the kitchen, where she greets Tripp and Fitz with a slightly grumpy ‘good morning’.

It’s not long before a lightly browned piece of toast (with a smattering of marmalade on top) is placed on the counter in front of you, and you swap it for the granola that you’d only eaten half of, not ten minutes before.

“Just how I like it,” Skye says, taking a spoonful of the now-soggy granola, and you make a face, as you always do.

“I will never understand…”

“…Your odd predilection for saturated cereal,” Skye finishes, her tone pitched and slightly mocking, and two distinct groans come from the kitchen.

“Sometimes I swear you two can read each others’ minds,” Tripp sighs.

You look up at that. Tripp has already gone back to his cereal (Wheaties), but Skye is grinning widely at you, and maybe there’s no more alien technology at work, but you know what she’s going to say before she says it.

“Oh, nah, we stopped with the mind reading…”

“…Nearly two weeks ago,” you finish with a grin of your own.