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Know Your Enemy

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Grant was not entirely sure how he found himself seated in the medical lab with Simmons tsking at him, but he attributed it to her bossy nature. Grant did not have the energy to argue with her. He was sleep-deprived, starving and beat up.

 

Every now and then, he had to repress a wince as some unwanted flashback wormed its way into the front of his mind. He hoped that was not a permanent side effect of the memory machine, but Grant could not say for sure and would rather not know than ask one of the sanctimonious bastards who had put him in the machine.

 

Fitz hovered behind Simmons looking strangely concerned for reasons unfathomable to Grant. Simmons paid him no mind, and Grant did the same.

 

Truthfully, Grant did not care why Fitz appeared worried. He did not care that the Cavalry was glaring at him from her position blocking the doorway. He did not care about Coulson’s never-ending questions and orders directed at the room. He did not care that Simmons was explaining what she was doing in a forcibly cheery tone.

 

The only thing he cared about was the warmth of Skye’s hand in his. She stood beside him and had grabbed his hand again shortly after Simmons dragged him here. She seemed to have forgotten that their fingers were interlaced as she spoke to the others and occasionally him.

 

Grant brushed his thumb over her knuckles and watched her expression carefully for a reaction. She threw a soft smile his way and squeezed his hand as she answered the question Coulson asked her about retrieving files that Hydra had destroyed when they infiltrated the base.

 

Despite how nice it felt and how he longed to never let go, Grant felt uncomfortable displaying his weakness so openly to multiple enemies. John would-

 

Grant focused on the slightly calloused knuckles his thumb brushed and the weight of her hand in his. He let her grip anchor him to the room and calm the rage in the pit of his stomach and the despair lurking in the depths of his mind. She had not let go yet, and that was all he cared about.

 

Well, that and his new goal.

 

It had taken him embarrassingly long to adapt to the change of events. He had to remind himself that this was manageable, that he was a survivor and had gone through hell before. This was nothing. He could handle this, he could handle anything.

 

What he could not do was fall apart in front of Phil Coulson and SHIELD. They were going to try to lock him up again, and he needed to prepare for the inevitable confrontation.

 

Grant wondered if the reason he was unable to think of another solution- a better one for surely he should have been able to think of something, anything- earlier was because of the effects of the memory machine. He could feel he was more emotional and more on edge because of that thing, so what if that made him impulsive? What if that was the reason why he had not been able to find another way?

 

One more reason to hate Coulson and SHIELD he supposed.

 

“I’m going to inject a painkiller into the area,” Simmons narrated without pausing to check his reaction, “Before making a small incision-“

 

“Don’t,” Grant cut in sharply.

 

Skye froze. Her affected normalcy wavered as her eyes darted around the room to gauge the reactions. Fitz conspicuously began fidgeting.

 

He noticed out of the corner of his eyes that Coulson and May grew tenser at his voice. May’s hand had not strayed from her sidearm, and she may very well have been waiting for a chance to use it on him.

 

Simmons faltered as she readied a syringe. “Pardon? I have to cut into the skin to remove the tracker.”

 

“Then do that, but don’t inject me with anything,” Grant said.

 

Simmons’ brow furrowed. “The incision won’t be deep, but it’ll still be painful. You need a painkiller, and I’m more than happy to give you one.”

 

Grant scoffed. “I’m sure you are, but I’ve been drugged enough by SHIELD recently, so I’ll pass. I can handle the pain.” In fact, he would welcome it at this point if it could distract him from the thoughts tightening his chest and making it hard to breathe.

 

“It’s just an anesthetic,” Simmons argued.

 

So you say. Grant did not voice his skepticism, but he did not try to hide it on his face either.

 

Sure enough, Simmons’ spine straightened in response to his clear disbelief. “I’m a doctor, not a torturer,” Simmons said heatedly.

 

“I’ve read you file. You have multiple PhDs, not a MD,” Grant said. “You’re not a medical doctor. I highly doubt you took the Hippocratic oath.”

 

“You should let her help you,” Fitz said as he wrung his hands and stared at the two of them. So far, May and Coulson had been quiet, but May was inconspicuously readying her gun.

 

“Look,” Simmons said patiently, “I understand that you’re experiencing great emotional turmoil over traumatic experiences-“

 

“And now you’re pretending to be a fucking psychologist,” Grant was quick to interrupt her. Whatever she had to say on that front, he did not want to hear. “Just take out the tracker.”

 

“Fine!” Simmons snapped. She grabbed a surgical knife and held it up almost menacingly, but Skye cut her off before she could take the two steps towards him to close the distance.

 

“Okay, calm down,” Skye said as she held out her free hand to stop Simmons’ approach. “Grant, let Simmons give you the painkiller.” When he said nothing, she gave him an easy smile. “Trust me, she’s telling you the truth.”

 

Grant did not want to. He did trust Skye, which was probably stupid but true anyway, and wanted to show to her that he did. At the same time, he did not want to back down in front of Coulson and May and give them an angle they could exploit with him. They were observing him closely just waiting for an opportunity to pounce.

 

But he was fairly sure everyone in the room already knew how compromised he was when it came to Skye, so he supposed it did not matter.

 

Wordlessly, he relaxed his posture and nodded to Simmons. The tension drained out of Skye, Fitz and Simmons, but he noted that Coulson and May remained on edge. Once the tracker was removed, those two would probably try something. Grant assumed that the other three would let it happen like the good, little SHIELD agents they were, but then he thought of Skye coming into his cell with the cameras looped and wondered.

 

Simmons efficiently and professionally administered the anesthetic. To her credit, it did seem to be exactly what she claimed, but Grant remained on guard waiting for the other shoe to drop. When nothing happened, Grant only grew warier. Why would SHIELD care if he were in pain? There must be some kind of catch.

 

The tracker was removed quickly. Simmons held it up with her forceps to examine briefly before dropping it into a metallic bowl Fitz offered to her.

 

“This model looks similar to those we saw from Centipede,” Fitz announced as he stared at it. “I can examine it more closely later and see if there’s anything of value to be gained from it. But I would say the ones Simmons and I designed are the superior versions. Cybertek probably made this one before it fell, and we already incorporated all their research and technology.”

 

Fitz ranted more to himself and Simmons than the room at large. As he did, he walked towards the shelves and grabbed a device with his free hand. He positioned the thing over the tracker, pressed a button and a tiny pulse wave was released. “There, it’s deactivated. No one will be able to use the tracker to locate the Playground now.”

 

“Unless they already gleaned the coordinates earlier,” May said.

 

Grant did not reply to the unspoken accusation that he had deceived them when he said that Whitehall and the rest of Hydra did not know about the tracker. He was telling the truth then, and if they did not believe him, they would soon when no one came.

 

“If they did know where we are, reinforcements would have arrived by now,” Skye said. She squeezed his hand again as she looked at May.

 

Warmth rushed through Grant and made his breath hitch in his chest. He wanted to use their clasped hands to pull her closer until he could hold her again. He needed her in his arms more than he had ever needed anything.

 

Only years of training denying himself what he wanted prevented Grant from doing so. He had to stay focused and collected. Besides, she had detached herself from him earlier when they had embraced and probably did not want him to touch her like that again. She said she cared about him when they spoke the first time in his cell, but how much did she care?

 

A terrible thought occurred to him and sent ice through his veins. Coulson had pitied him after what he heard about Grant’s past through the memory machine. Maybe Skye felt the same. Maybe she was just holding his hand and allowing him to be close to her because she felt sorry for him.

 

His stomach rolled painfully. The room felt too small all of the sudden, and Grant needed space from everyone and everything. Instead, he knew all he was likely to get would be a one-way trip back to his cage and a few self-righteous SHIELD lectures.

 

Grant subtly tried to control his breathing. He needed to remain calm. He had a new goal that he should be concentrating on, and Skye must care at least a little to prioritize him during the earlier fight. He had to stop being so weak. John would-

 

May let Skye’s comment go without one of her own, but Coulson nodded.

 

“That’s likely true,” Coulson said. “Still, everyone should remain on alert for the time being.”

 

“Sir,” Trip’s voice came from behind May, who was still blocking the doorway. The Cavalry moved aside to let Trip, the British agent and Morse inside. “All the Hydra agents are apprehended or dead. Mack had gotten a head start before we even got there.”

 

Morse cast a look at him before turning to face Coulson. There was an obvious unspoken question there, and Grant was surprised when Coulson just said, “Go ahead,” to her.

 

“None of them knew anything of value,” she said. “I interrogated the two surviving members, but they weren’t even aware of the bombing that Garrett spoke of.”

 

Grant blinked slowly and did not let anything show on his expression at the mention of the name.

 

“So what’s the plan, boss man?” The British agent asked Coulson as he pulled out a chair and straddled it backwards.

 

Skye also got comfortable. She leaned her hip against the side of the table Grant was sitting on and let their joined hands rest on his thigh. She was so close that it was distracting, but Grant welcomed it. He wished nothing more than to get lost in her.

 

“There are too many potential target locations to just guess,” Morse said. “We need to know where the attack is planned for or stop it before it’s set up.”

 

Coulson grimaced. “My contact inside Hydra is gone, so guessing may be the only option.”

 

The Cavalry frowned. “Agent Young?”

 

“Dead,” Coulson confirmed. “They found him out.”

 

Grant had suspected SHIELD had a mole in Hydra for a while. He and John- They had discussed the possibility after multiple missions and bases were compromised due to SHIELD inexplicitly having knowledge of Hydra’s movements.

 

But the name Young… Grant knew it. It took him a second to realize who was being referred to, and then his fists clenched at the realization.

 

“Raymond Young was a SHIELD mole?” Grant asked to be sure.

 

May’s smirk was all the answer he needed. Her satisfied expression made him grit his teeth in rage knowing what he did.

 

But this new information only confirmed what he already knew: he had to go back to Hydra.

 

Skye shifted besides him and spoke lowly by his ear. “Why are you so upset about the mole?”

 

Grant wanted to answer her, but he could not in front of all of the smug faces. If he gave her the real reason and not the assumed one that he just was pissed he missed a leak in Hydra, then the rest of the room would hear as well.

 

“Grant?” Skye called softly

 

Grant turned to look at her and only her. He did not want to see the indifferent or judgmental expressions of the others when he spoke. He trusted that Skye cared though, and somehow staring at her beautiful features twisted up in concern for him calmed him.

 

“Scarlotti was not my usual partner. I teamed up with Kara on most of my missions that required a second operative. When Whitehall put me with Scarlotti instead of Kara, I assumed something was wrong, especially since Scarlotti usually focused on hunting gifteds,” Grant explained.

 

“Young was under Kara’s command, which means she would be seen as the person responsible for missing the mole. Whitehall’s probably been torturing her for her failure,” Grant concluded angrily. He did not realize how tightly he was gripping Skye’s hand until she put her other one soothingly on his.

 

Skye’s mouth parted in horror before turning to Coulson. “We have to do something,” she declared.

 

“We will,” Coulson assured.

 

“He could be making this up to manipulate us,” the Cavalry pointed out.

 

Grant barked out a dark laugh. “Why would I do that? None of you care about Kara. She’s been tortured and abused for almost a year because of you, and no one has tried to stop it before.”

 

“Have you tried?” Morse asked.

 

Grant’s jaw clenched, but Skye spoke before he could say anything. “Shut up, Bobbi,” she said venomously.

 

Trip and Fitz glared at Morse, too, and Grant wondered if they were defending him or just angry with her.

 

“This is not helping,” the British agent said. “Unless you think arguing is going to help 33.” He raised his hands helplessly.

 

“Hunter as the voice of reason,” Trip muttered. “Never thought I’d see the day.”

 

Silence washed over the room as no one seemed to know what to say after that before May gave Coulson a significant look, and Coulson straightened up. Grant tensed knowing that they were finally going to act.

 

“Skye, go see if you can retrieve those files,” Coulson ordered. Grant was both pleased and irritated by the notion that Coulson believed Skye needed to be removed before they could lock him up again.

 

Unconsciously, Grant’s grip on Skye’s hand tightened. He did not want her to leave him. She was the only thing holding him together at the moment.

 

“No,” Skye said bluntly surprising Grant.

 

Coulson stopped short and threw her an incredulous look. “That wasn’t a request, Agent Skye.”

 

“I don’t care, Director Coulson,” Skye replied mockingly. “Just because things have been crazy the last day doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten what you did. I’m still furious with you.”

 

Coulson’s face was blank. “I haven’t forgotten what you did either. You disobeyed a direct order to sneak into Vault D to visit a prisoner after disabling the video feed in the middle of the night.”

 

“I know what you’re doing,” Skye raged. “But you’re not sending me off on another pointless task just so you can imprison and torture Grant again. Do Simmons and Fitz have other sudden missions? Maybe conveniently on the other side of the country?”

 

“He won’t be tortured,” Coulson reassured.

 

His attempt at calming Skye was undermined when May added, “Depending on how cooperative he is this time around.”

 

The Cavalry saying that made him sure that he did not want to tell them anything just out of spite. Unfortunately, he needed them on his side if he was going to get back to Hydra and save Kara.

 

The British agent, Hunter, looked perturbed as his eyes darted around the room. Morse frowned resignedly. Fitz was wringing his hands again, but this time he seemed more furious than nervous. Simmons’ lips pinched in displeasure at his side.

 

“Hang on,” Trip interrupted before Skye could retort. “We’re not torturing him. Didn’t we decide that was an awful idea that we shouldn’t have gone through with just yesterday?”

 

“Thank you!” Hunter exclaimed. “At least one of you is paying attention! How many times are we going to go through this? Bob, you’re not okay with this, are you?”

 

Hunter looked expectantly at Morse, who for her part seemed uncomfortable. She stood with her arms crossed near Hunter but did not answer him.

 

It was weird to sit there while they just talked about him as if he were not in the room. Grant kept quiet anyway because he wanted to hear what they had to say. This was his first opportunity to observe the interactions among SHIELD’s top agents. While it was clear that they were more of a cohesive unit than Hydra, there were still noticeable lines drawn in the sand.

 

Hunter wanted Morse’s opinion, and they seemed to be partners or lovers, even though there was some tension there. Similarly, Fitz and Simmons were a twosome that appeared to draw strength from each other. They presented a united front more than the first pair though.

 

May and Coulson also stood side by side and formed their own smaller team. From what Jo- from what Grant had heard, May and Coulson had a long history, and she was endlessly devoted to him. Grant doubted they had ever slept together, but they were intimate in other, more important ways.

 

Trip had drifted towards Fitz and Simmons but still close to Hunter. That placed him farther from Coulson and the Cavalry in what appeared to be a deliberate choice on his part.

 

Physically, Skye was aligning herself with him, which made Grant’s heart beat a little faster to realize. Within the team, she seemed closest with Fitz and Simmons but also allowed to get away with more in her exchanges with Coulson and the Cavalry.

 

Grant was not sure whether it was because of him or if something else had been brewing for a while, but it was evident that the SHIELD team was breaking at the seams. People were taking sides and arguing, which only increased the division forming.

 

That was not conducive for what Grant wanted to accomplish though. He probably could not exploit it because trying to would likely cause them to close ranks over a common enemy. A divided SHIELD was little help to him now as he needed them to fulfill his goal. He did not want to stage a one-man mission into Hydra to get Kara.

 

His plans relied on SHIELD distracting and even killing Whitehall, Bakshi and the others. If Grant himself killed Whitehall, Kara would lose it and not allow him to talk sense into her because of her brainwashing. But if Whitehall were still alive, Kara would never willingly leave Hydra.

 

Grant mulled over his options as he analyzed the dynamic presented to him. His thoughts were abruptly derailed by the next voice that chimed in.

 

“I’m not letting anyone torture Ward,” Fitz declared firmly as he stared down Coulson.

 

Grant had not expected that. If anyone, he thought Skye might protest, but even she, he assumed, would eventually back down when pressed. Fitz would be his last choice for backup in a physical altercation, but Grant was strangely moved by his determination to defend him, even if he would be of little help if a fight broke out.

 

Skye moved slightly so she was between Coulson and Grant. “I can’t believe we’re even discussing this, but obviously I’m not letting anyone torture him,” she spoke with the same dangerous expression on her face that she had when she glared at Jo-

 

“I won’t stand by and let SHIELD do such an unethical thing again- to Ward or anyone else,” Simmons added.

 

“Enough,” Coulson massaged his temples. “No one is being tortured.” He threw a pointed look at May before returning his gaze to Skye. “But we can’t just let him leave either. He’s going back into Vault D-“

 

Fitz and Skye protested the loudest, but Grant noticed that everyone was speaking up now. It was impossible to fully separate the voices, but it sounded like most people were against that decision. The reasons varied as Fitz, Simmons, Skye and even Trip appeared to think that was pointless after what he did while Morse and Hunter thought that was ridiculous as they already had too many Hydra prisoners to deal with. May spoke lowly to Coulson with her lips hidden, so Grant could not make out what she was saying.

 

Grant took some pleasure in seeing how Coulson’s unflappable expression slipped slightly with every objection, but he could not help but remember this division would hurt his goal.

 

“Sir,” Morse raised her voice until it cut over the rest. “We can’t hold so many Hydra agents. We don’t have the resources or a place to put them all.”

 

“We could give the others to Talbot,” Trip suggested. “Might get him off our back.”

 

Grant snorted loudly, which drew the room’s attention to him as he wanted. “Unlikely.”

 

Coulson sighed and cut to the chase, “What do you know?”

 

Trying hard not to think about what he was saying, Grant answered, “Talbot’s in the pocket of my brother.” He needed to build credibility for telling them the truth before he made his proposal. Even knowing that, Grant felt nauseas at the thought of Christian. The memories of the well were seared into his brain, something that had been exacerbated by the fucking memory machine. Even now, he could hear Thomas’ voice begging him…

 

“Talbot did say he had a rich senator friend,” Hunter said.

 

The lines on Coulson’s forehead grew more pronounced. “We’ll give the other Hydra agents to him anyway. At the very least, it’ll distract him from us.” Coulson paused and turned to Grant, “What do you want, Ward?”

 

Grant raised his eyebrows.

 

“You didn’t say anything when we were discussing what to do with you,” Coulson said.

 

“I’m sorry,” Grant said without an ounce of apology, “I thought you were smart enough to realize I’d be against all options that leave me tortured and imprisoned again.”

 

Coulson did not rise to the bait. “But you telling us the information about Talbot and Garrett and Whitehall’s feud means you’re up to something.”

 

Grant forced himself to smirk because he wanted to put Coulson on edge and irritate the Cavalry. Let them read into that however they wanted.

 

When Grant stayed quiet, Coulson pressed, “So what do you want?”

 

Grant resisted the urge to look at Skye. “What about what you want, Director Coulson?”

 

Grant allowed his smirk to widen when Coulson gave him one of those bland secretive smiles. “I’m listening,” Coulson said.

 

“You want to prevent the bombing from happening, but you don’t have any intel to go off of,” Grant said and let the implication hang in the room.

 

“We’re not making deals with you,” May interrupted. She glared at Coulson, “Coulson, don’t.”

 

“Wait, Grant,” Skye said. She laid her free hand on his shoulder to catch his attention, which was funny to him because she already had it. She always had his attention. “What are you suggesting?”

 

“I can stop the bombing. Without Joh-“ Grant embarrassingly faltered before continuing as smoothly as he could, “I’m the explosives expert for Hydra. I can easily walk into base and dismantle the devices. In all likelihood, Whitehall will personally ask me to set them up.”

 

Morse cocked her head to the side. “You want to be released, so you can go back to Hydra, and we’re supposed to just trust you’ll do as you say? What’s to stop you from crawling back to Whitehall in search of a new master?”

 

Skye bristled beside him, but Grant was unmoved by Morse’s taunts. She was trying to get a reaction from him just as she had while interrogating him. SHIELD had said worse to him before and would again. It was only the memories that would not leave him alone that bothered him.

 

“We can’t let you go on your word that you’ll disarm the bombs,” Coulson said bluntly.

 

“That’s not what I’m proposing,” Grant said as he leaned forward. “You don’t have to take my word the bombs are disarmed, you can have Trip check for himself after I let you in Hydra’s headquarters.”

 

The room reacted predictably. At this point, Grant could guess how each of them would respond to his suggestion. There were happy reactions from those that seemed to trust him and skeptical ones from everyone else. In between, a few managed to mostly hide their opinions, but even Coulson’s benign, affected expression could not hide his interest.

 

The one who surprised him slightly was actually Skye. Her face lit up in a blinding smile that stole his breath and heart all over again. He would do anything and everything to earn that smile again and again forever.

 

For a moment, Grant imagined wrapping his free arm around her waist and lifting her into his lap, so he could kiss that smile.

 

“Ward,” Coulson called impatiently.

 

Grant wrenched his gaze away from Skye’s look of flushed joy to regard the stern face of the director of SHIELD.

 

“Enough bravado,” Coulson said. “What exactly are you proposing?”

 

“I go back to Hydra’s headquarters and sneak you and your team in to help you dismantle the base,” Grant propositioned.

 

Coulson narrowed his eyes. “And what are your conditions?”

 

Grant made a show of shrugging his shoulders. “Whitehall dies and Hydra falls. I assume that’s okay with you,” Grant said. “And no one touches Kara,” he added after a second.

 

“No one is going to hurt Agent 33,” Coulson promised, which was such an absurd thing to say after all they had done to her that Grant just scoffed loudly.

 

“Why do you want Hydra destroyed?” Morse asked.

 

“I’d rather not deal with them following me after I betrayed them, Whitehall’s a prick, I hate most of them- pick any reason,” Grant said flippantly.

 

“I have conditions, too,” Coulson said. “You have a tracker implanted in you-“

 

“No,” Grant said simply.

 

“This isn’t a negotiation,” Coulson said.

 

“You’re right,” Grant agreed readily. “This isn’t a negotiation because you have no leverage to negotiate with.”

 

“Your life is in our hands,” the Cavalry said. “Is that leverage enough?”

 

“You won’t kill me. I’m the best chance you have at destroying Hydra,” Grant boasted. “You’ll never get another opportunity like this, and you know it. I know the location of dozens of bases, the names of all the leaders you don’t even know you need to learn, the missions that haven’t begun yet, the access codes, ways of communicating- I know more information than you could learn in years.”

 

“We could lock you up and interrogate you again,” Coulson said.

 

Grant got off the medical table and let go of Skye’s hand in order to give Coulson his full, menacing look.

 

“You throw me in a cage again, and I promise you I won’t say a single word. I’ve spent months without interacting with another person before. You won’t convince me to speak if you do that,” Grant said lowly, even though he was not entirely sure how well he would hold up if forced into that place again. His emotions and weakness were already threatening to overwhelm. All that mattered was that Coulson believed him though, and Grant knew he could sell it. It was almost easier than Grant thought it would be. Coulson did not even appear doubtful at his claim that he had gone months without human contact.“I will never tell you anything,” Grant promised.

 

“And if we put you in the memory machine again?” May wondered with a cruel sneer. “That got you talking before. In fact, we were having trouble getting you to stop.”

 

The thought of that thing and how apparently they all stood around laughing at him while he relived his past sent Grant’s blood boiling. His fists clenched, and his lips turned down in an ugly sneer.

 

“Enough, Melinda,” Coulson ordered her before his eyes cut towards Grant. “Ward, stand down.”

 

Grant had not realized he had begun to advance on her until Coulson drew attention to it. He was shaking slightly in fury and balling his fists tighter did little to conceal that fact. He tried to slow his breathing, but the rage remained, a pounding force that made him want to hit something.

 

Skye inserted herself in between May and him. She peered up at him with soft brown eyes and gently placed a hand on his chest over his hammering heart. “No one’s putting you in the memory machine again. I promise you.”

 

Grant stared at her until he felt the tension leak out of him. He wanted her so much it hurt.

 

“I have something that would allow us to monitor Ward without a tracker,” Fitz said. When everyone turned to look at him, he hastened to explain. “I’ve been working on something since the mission with Akela Amador. The glasses were too noticeable, but a removable way to track someone through their eyes was useful. Well, I had some time on my hands, and I love a challenge. I tinkered a little-“

 

“Fitz, get to the point, mate,” Hunter interrupted. “I want to get some sleep.”

 

“Contacts that would give us a video feed of Ward’s movements and have audio as well, so we could follow his movements without actually tracking him,” Fitz blurted out.

 

Grant frowned skeptically. Contacts that he could remove would likely be the best deal he could get. At the same time… “And these things won’t mold to my eyes or something equally awful?”

 

“No, of course not!” Fitz said at once.

 

“So you’ve tested them?” Grant tried to clarify and watched Fitz visibly falter.

 

“I may need more time to get them ready,” Fitz said with a sheepish look.

 

Coulson nodded. “You’ll have it. It’s almost two o’clock now, and we need to get some rest tonight. Seven hours of sleep and then we can plan while you prepare the contacts, Fitz.”

 

Grant felt everyone’s eyes on him again and knew they were wondering how to proceed. “I’m not sleeping in a cell,” Grant declared bluntly. If they put him in one, there was no guarantee they would not change their minds and leave him there to rot.

 

“We can’t just let you roam the base,” Coulson argued.

 

“You can bunk with me,” Skye offered cheekily.

 

Multiple people in the room appeared visibly disgusted, but Grant only had eyes for Skye. The prospect of spending the night alone with her away from prying eyes and ears made Grant’s lips tug up in a genuine smile.

 

“Ugh gross,” Fitz loudly proclaimed. Grant looked over at him a little offended before Fitz continued obliviously, “Ward, she’s a huge slob. Last time I was in her room, there were lots of ladies things everywhere.” He shuddered comically.

 

Grant stared at him for a moment unsure of what to say before turning to Skye. Her affronted face as she put her hands on her hips like she was going to let Fitz have it made Grant grin despite himself. When she saw that, she turned her gaze towards him.

 

“I’m not that bad,” she rushed to explain. She bit her lip and added, “But maybe give me a minute to clean up first.”

 

Unbidden laughter left his lips. There was a tinge of hysteria in it, but it was the first time in a while he could remember sincerely laughing in amusement.

 

“It’s not funny,” Skye said, but a smile tugged the corners of her mouth. She shook her head and grabbed his hand again. “Come on, let’s go.”

 

As she dragged him out of the room, she called back to the others that she would see them in the morning and left no room for argument. Grant half expected Coulson or the Cavalry to stop them, but everyone was silent behind them.

 

Or maybe Grant was too caught up in the promising glint of Skye’s eyes as she threw a look over her shoulder to care what was being said.