Categories > Movies > Marvel Cinematic Universe > The Irresistible Force Paradox

Chapter Five

by peitho_x 0 reviews

The story ends

Category: Marvel Cinematic Universe - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Angst,Drama,Romance - Warnings: [V] - Published: 2022-03-08 - 3863 words

As the weeks roll on, Skye gets the feeling that Ward is gearing up to tell her something, and she doesn't like it. They're in a pretty good place right now – given their circumstances – and she doesn't want to mess it up. They're even a bit exciting like the old days sometimes.

One evening, they've taken a slight risk by having a very public date in a nice restaurant. Ward suddenly shifts in his chair and moves his menu so it blocks his face. "Three o'clock," he says quietly.

Skye glances over, making sure to cover most of her face as well. "The guy with the buzzcut?"

Ward nods. "Bash, arms dealer."

"You guys know each other." She tries to keep the judgment from her voice.

"Garrett made some deals with him back in the day."

"Please tell me Garrett didn't screw him over."

"No, Garrett he liked just fine," Ward says. "Me, not so much."

Skye sighs. "Alright, he wouldn't recognize me as SHIELD, right?"

"Probably not."

"Great, so you sneak out while I... distract him."

He raises his eyebrows.

"I'll spill my drink on him or flirt with him or something. Go."

Ward doesn't look entirely happy about the plan but relents. "You got a weapon?"

She nods. "ICER, now go."

As he rises, Skye grabs her half-full glass of wine and makes her way toward the table where Bash sits with two other guys. She wobbles a bit on her heels.

"Hey," she says. "Waiter, I was wondering, woah!" She bumps into an empty chair. "Sorry, I was wondering if I can get a refill of this–"

She crashes right Bash, spilling wine all over his shirt and nearly tumbling into his lap. She stabilizes herself with a hand on his shoulder. "Oh my god," she says, a nervous giggle bubbling out of her. "I am so sorry."

She starts grabbing napkins to help clean him up and he grabs her arm – tight – and holds her fast.

"You should look where you're going," he says and, yep, she can definitely picture this guy as an arms dealer.

She lets out another nervous giggle.

"And probably ease up on the wine."

"That's what I've been told," she says. Ward has to be out by now. "Again, I'm so sorry." She tries to pull her arm from his grip, but he doesn't let her go. "I hope the suit's not too stained," she says. "I'm totally willing to pay for dry-cleaning."

"That won't be necessary," he says and lets her go, shoving her back a little. She's relieved until he grabs her purse from her and dumps the content. She freezes when her ICER thuds onto the table.

He picks it up. "It's dangerous to get drunk while you have a firearm on you, miss."

"It's not technically a–" she starts to say but stops herself. She glances around the restaurant. Both waiters and customers seem to be ignoring what's happening.

Bash smiles. "I happen to be cozy with the proprietor, so don't expect their help." He turns to his companions. "You know, the only people I even see carrying this type of weapon are either SHIELD, who love to interfere with my business, and Hydra, who aren't that much better." He points it at her. "So, which are you?"

"Neither," she says quickly. "I'm not much of a team player."

He tilts his head to the side. "Really?"

"I'm a hacker." The best lies have some truth to them after all. "SHIELD tried to recruit me, and I went along with them for a while. The food's pretty good, benefits too, and they have the best tech. Well, they had the best tech. I jumped ship when Hydra came along. Too much drama for me."

"A hacker, huh?" He pauses, thinking. "You looking for a job?"

Oh, this is going too well now. But then again, this is the type of guy who might have information about black market SHIELD tech. "Depends on what you're offering."

"I believe I can make it worth your while," he says. "Come, sit down, let's have a drink before we talk business."

Skye risks a glance behind her before she sits down. Hopefully Ward won't worry about her taking so long. Hopefully he won't do anything stupid about it.

A glass of wine and a piece of chocolate cake in, Skye has learnt no more about what this guy's actual business is. She's starting to try to think of a way to get out of this conversation when she sees a familiar figure at the bar.

Ward is wearing a flat cap – like the kind old men wear – and a tweed coat and sipping a bourbon at the bar. She needs to get out of here, now.

"Oh, god, is that the time?" she says, interrupting Bash's story about a summer he spent in the French riviera. "I'm afraid it's way past my bedtime."

Bash glances at the clock, confused. "It's not even nine o'clock."

"Well, you know what they say, early to bed, early to rise." She smiles. "Well, this was so nice, and we should totally continue this conversation sometime." She scribbles a fake number on a napkin. "Call me whenever." She stands and holds it out to Bash.

It's too hasty and sudden of an exit to not be regarded with suspicion, but hopefully they won't see her as a threat. His companions glance around, and one whispers something in his ear.

"Grant Ward!" Bash calls out. "I didn't think you were foolish enough to ever come in my vicinity again."

Skye looks over at Ward, who hops off his barstool and walks to her side.

"Completely unintentional, I swear," he says.

"So, you send your little girlfriend here to distract me?" he asks. "You are as much of a gentleman as ever." He looks at Skye. "You can do better than."

"You're telling me," Skye laughs. "But what can I say, he's good in the sack."

"Hm, well, I'm afraid you'll have to find a new boytoy." He pulls a gun from inside his coat and aims it at Ward. "I made it clear to you that if I ever saw you again, I would kill you."

Ward shoves Skye to the side and dives at Bash, under the gun and tackling him out of his chair. Skye scrambles behind a table, wishing she'd been able to grab her purse and ICER back. She peeks around the white tablecloth in time to see Ward dive toward her, dodging a spray of bullets.

They flip the table on its side as a shield and Skye winces as bullets collided with it.

"Mahogany," she says with a laugh.

Ward points to the bar, which is only a short distance away. There is a door behind it that probably leads outside. He holds up three fingers and Skye nods.




They sprint bent over and dive behind the bar. They scramble through the door into the alley. Ward grunts and stumbles against the wall.

"Grant?" Skye says, stopping and seeing a blooming spot of red at his shoulder. "Oh, crap."

"It's just a graze," he says. "We gotta get out of here."

They manage to hail a taxi and convince the driver to take them to a motel, not the hospital. They make sure to tip him extra well to make sure he'll keep his suspicions to himself.

The motel First Aid Kit is just extensive enough to be helpful as Skye patches Ward up – following his instructions.

"Are you sure you don't need stitches?" she asks, taping the gauze in place.

"I'm sure," he says with a grin. "Now, c'mere." He pulls her onto his lap and kisses her deeply.

"Not that I'm complaining, but what was that for?" she asks, smiling.

"For being cool under pressure." He kisses her again. "And for patching me up." And again. "And for how good you look in that dress."

"What'd you do to him anyway?" she asks. "Insult his grandmother?"

"I killed his tiger," he says.

Skye laughs. "Wait, really?"

"He's an international arms dealer, of course he has exotic pets," he says. "And in my defence, the tiger came at me first."

Skye can't wipe the smile off her face as they tumble back and make out on the bed.

"What?" Ward asks finally.

She hesitates before saying. "I miss doing stuff like that with you."

He smiles softly and kisses her sweetly. "Me too."

Then he wraps her in his arms, and they lay together. She closes her eyes and listens to him breathe. At peace.

"Sebastian Minet, arms dealer," May says at briefing alter that week. "Also known as Bash."

Skye's head snaps up. He has longer hair in the mug shot, but it's definitely him.

"The chatter is that he's interested in whatever SHIELD tech he can get his hands on, and he's not exactly known for being frugal, so a lot of people are gonna want to make deals with him."

"I knew him from back in the day," Hunter says. "I could pretend to have tech to sell." He sees their reproachful gazes. "What? I never sold anything to him, alright, we had mutual friends."

"Alright, Hunter," May says. "You make contact and set up a meeting."

Two days later and Skye is crouched on the roof of a warehouse with Trip. The rest of the team is stationed around the area, waiting for Hunter's signal.

"Bash! My old friend!" Hunter says.

"I do not consider bottom feeders like you my friends, Hunter."

"As friendly as ever, I see, I–"

"Sir?" a new voice says, and Skye and Trip look at each other. "We found him and thought you'd like to do the honours."

"You thought correctly," Bash says. "Bring him here."

There are more footsteps.

"Who's this guy?" Hunter asked.

"The man who killed my dearest pet."


"I get that," Hunter says. "Yeah, I had a dog when I was seven."

Seven, the codeword. Silently, Trip and Skye hop down, encircling the room with the rest of the team.

Ward looks beat to hell, kneeling on the ground in front of Bash. Hunter holds a gun to Bash's head. Bash's men have already been taken out by May and Bobbi.

"I knew you were a little snake," Bash spits at Hunter.

"I've heard a lot worse," he says. "You'll have to do better than that." He speaks to May, who is patting Bash down. "He always keeps a knife in his boot."

Ward eyes them all uncertainly before looking at Skye. She takes a breath and is about to step forward when Bobbi steps forward instead.

"I guess we shouldn't be surprised to find you with scum like this, Ward," she says. "Get up."

Skye doesn't know what to do, so she just stands there.

Ward rises slowly, then seems to lose his balance for a moment. Bobbi instinctively reaches out a hand to help him, but he uses that to pull her arm behind her back. He barbs her gun and presses it to her head.

Everybody freezes.

"Drop it, Ward," May says. "You can't get out of this, you know that."

"I dunno," he says. "I've got a pretty good track record getting away from you guys."

"Don't do anything stupid," Hunters says.

Ward begins to back up, wrenching Bobbi's arm behind her until she winces.

Just then, Bash turns and looks at Skye. "Miss hacker!" he exclaims. "Fancy meeting you here."

There's a bang and Bash falls to the ground, blood pouring from a hole in his head. Skye stares at Ward, who has his gun back at Bobbi's head.

"Now, he's reunited with his stupid tiger," he says.

"What the hell are you doing?" Bobbi says through gritted teeth.

"Making the best of a bad situation," he says. "Look, I don't want any trouble, alright. His eyes flicker around the room, noting exits and guns. Surely he doesn't think he can shoot his way out of this?

"Ward!" Skye calls out and he turns his head to look at her. "Please!"

He's about to lower his gun, to step away, she's sure of it, when a bullet hits him just above his protective vest and blows through his neck. His eyes are still locked on hers as he collapses to the ground.

Ward is dead before she reaches him, face slack and eyes empty. Skye drops to her knees beside him, feeling her chest clench tight. Her heart begins an achingly slow climb up her throat.

She reaches out to shake him, to grab his face, to satisfy that tiny spark that hopes he's alive. She opens her mouth to say his name, to scream it until the light comes back into his eyes.

But then she feels them all looking.

Skye realizes what this must look like. She takes a shaky breath and then another. She reaches out a trembling hand to find no pulse in his neck. She turns slowly, forcing her mouth into a grim line, praying no one sees the tears.

Not trusting her voice, she just shakes her head.

Fortunately, there are things that need to be done and soon everyone is too busy. Skye turns back to Ward. She can feel a sob building in her chest but tries to swallow it down. She leans over him and presses a kiss to his cheek. "I love you too," she whispers as a tear splashes down onto his skin. She manages to turn the sob that threatens its way up her throat into a choked cough.

There are hands on her now, pulling her to her feet, away from him. She starts to resist until she hears Hunter's voice, "Not here."

He guides her away, into a vehicle, making some excuse that Skye doesn't hear, and quickly drives away.

Hunter doesn't say anything for a long while, until it's almost unbearable how quiet it is.

"Do I have to worry about you doing anything stupid?" he asks finally.

Skye takes a shaky breath. "Nope. I'm all stupided out."

He nods.

She stares blankly out the window, not seeing the buildings that fly by.

As she expected, there's a knock on her door that evening. But when she says, "Come in," it's not Coulson standing in the doorway like an awkward dad, it's May.

Skye knows her eyes are red and puffy – just as much as she knows that the whole team is probably a little concerned about her reaction. "I'm fine," she says, unconvincingly.

"It's okay to have mixed feelings about him," May says, sitting down on the bed beside her.

"You don't."

"Well, I'm pretty difficult to please."

"Please tell me that's not a sex joke."

"No, Ward was actually quite satisfact–"

"I kn– I don't need to know that," Skye interrupts.

May smirks a little and Skye rolls her eyes. They sit in easy silence and for a bit and Skye wonders how long it will be before she stops feeling guilty about not telling May – or any of them – about Ward.

Finally, May stands up. "You should get something to eat, or it'll be Coulson or Simmons at your door next," she says. "And they'll make you talk about your feelings."

Skye smiles and nods. Before May is out the door, Skye asks, "Did you have feelings for him?"

May turns back. "Not in that way," she says.

It doesn't take them long to find the apartment. Skye insists on coming along and they let her – even though she can tell they think it's a bad idea.

"You guys here for Mark's things?" a neighbour asks in the hallway. "Shame what happened to him."

They had told the landlord that 'Mark' had died in a car accident, and apparently news had spread fast.

And it turns out Skye was right about Ward having some plan cooking, just not about the kind of plan. They find a nicely furnished apartment, paystubs from a construction company, and neighbours who genuinely liked him.

It's all much homier than she would have expected from him. A lumpy couch with an afghan tossed over it. Mismatched mugs in the sink. Even a Kiss the Cook apron that she definitely does not picture Ward wearing on a lazy Saturday morning making pancakes.

"Why would he do all this?" Trip asks as they search the apartment. "We know there are still deep pockets in Hydra, it's not like he needed a regular job."

"And even if he didn't want to work with Hydra, I'm sure there are other shady organizations who would jump at the chance to have a guy like him," says Bobbi.

Skye ignores the way Hunter looks at her and turns back to the computer. She gets in pretty easily and the last thing he searched for was the local humane society's adoption page and she nearly loses it again. He had told her about the dog, Buddy, and how he'd never had a pet since then.

She decides to just clone the whole computer and upload it to SHIELD's system so she can look at it later, pretty sure that Ward would have been smart enough to keep any evidence of their relationship off it.

She rifles through the bedroom, trying to avoid the prying eyes of the team, not really looking for anything. She finds one of her flannels that she must have forgotten in the hotel once in the closet, separate from his clothes. There's a space there, and extra hangers, just like an empty drawer in the dresser.

He was going to tell her about this place, and soon.

May finds her staring at the neatly made bed. "Some training never goes away, I guess," she says.

Skye nods.

"There's no evidence this was any type of deep undercover," May says. "It's strange to think of him having a normal life, isn't it?"

Strange isn't exactly the word Skye would use, but she nods. "To be fair, I'd have a hard time imagining you having a normal life either."

May nods and says nothing.

"Have you ever thought about it?"

"Living a normal life? Sure." May shrugs. "But I figure I still have a few SHIELD years left in me." Her gaze is piercing. "You?"

"Never really had a normal life to begin with," Skye manages a smile as she turns to leave. "I wouldn't know where to start." She takes one last look around and leaves the room.

This would've been her start, her chance at a normal life. Just a twenty-something visiting her boyfriend's apartment. Her boyfriend who works in construction, who's thinking of getting a dog. Who she knows is gonna ask her to move in soon, but he hasn't quite yet.

She can picture it all. Ward, getting up early for work, being careful not to wake her, but pressing a soft kiss to her forehead before he leaves. Date nights and pizza in front of the TV nights. Going out for drinks with his coworkers and their partners.

The speed with which she's able to conjure up their life leads her to realize that she's imagined this before. In those brief moments where she allowed herself to think about a future with Ward, she pictured something like this. Simple, honest, happy.

She leaves soon after, saying that she wants to get the info from Ward's computer into SHIELD's systems.

"I'll go with you," Hunter says.

"Sure," Skye says, because she has no reason to say no.

In the car, Hunter launches into a story about one of his and Bobbi's adventures, just absurd enough to be true. Skye barely hears any of it – something about thwarting an assassination that somehow involved stealing horses and riding them onto an airport tarmac.

"You don't have to try and cheer me up, you know," Skye says.

He glances at her. "I'm afraid comforting the bereaved is not one of my skills. That's what Bob said once, although she put it in a much ruder way."

That bait is almost too good to pass up, but she knows that's Hunter's intention in saying it. She sighs. "Alright, what was the context, what did she say?"

Hunter finds her a few days later, in her room, hunched over her laptop. They'd given her some time off – which she had fortunately accepted – but it doesn't look like she's slept much.

"What're you up to?" he asks, flopping down on her bed.

"Working," she says, not looking away from the screen.

"Generally, on days off, that's when you don't work," he says. "That's kind of the point."

She doesn't respond. Hunter gets up and looks through the papers on her desk beside her.

"These are from Ward's apartment," he says. "What are you doing?"

"Just... looking."

"For what?" he asks cautiously.

"Connections with Hydra, his old contacts, anything sketchy."


"And nothing," she snaps, looking at him. "I have looked though his apartment and his computer and his phone – everything. And there's nothing. The only remotely sketchy thing he's done is sneak around with me." She takes a shaky breath.

Hunter looks at her, concerned. "I don't understand," he says finally.

"Because maybe if he'd been back at his old game." She closes her eyes and swallows thickly. "I wouldn't feel... like this." Her lip trembles.

"Like what?" Hunter prompts gently.

"Like I missed out on him," she says quietly. "He was building a life. And I didn't even know. I just assumed he was up to shady shit, that's why I never asked. I didn't want any more on my conscience about keeping it secret. And if I'd just –" She clenches her jaw. "He would've told me sooner, about the place, everything, if I'd been more –" She sighs. "But telling him would've made it real. And I wasn't ready for that."

"Would you ever have told the rest of the team?" Hunter asks after a moment of silence.

Skye thinks for a moment. "I honestly don't know. We couldn't have kept it a secret forever." She glances up at him. "You're not gonna say anything, are you?"

"Of course not."

"Because I know what they think of him. Hell, a year ago, I would've said he deserved to die. Whether I actually felt that way, I dunno, but I would've said it."

"So you don't think he deserved it?"

"Look, I know Ward did bad things. But getting to know him, I just– Under different circumstances, I could've been him, if Garrett or someone else in Hydra had found me, instead of Coulson. And I know that doesn't absolve him, but..."

"It does make him more sympathetic," Hunter finishes.

Skye nods.

"So, he was a complicated man," Hunter says. "You probably knew him better than, well, definitely the people on this team, and probably anyone else too." He squeezes her arm and leaves the room.

"Not as much as I could've." Skye sighs and closes her laptop. "Not as much as I wanted to." She kicks off her jeans and crawls into bed, falling asleep almost immediately, resting for the first time in days.
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