A/N: I'm really love the responses I get in reviews and PM's for this story. So if you have a prediction, or something you'd like to see happen in this story or in any future SkyeWard stories that I probably will write, leave it in a review, and just let me know how you're liking the story so far. Really, I cannot tell you how much I love hearing your thoughts, so please please please review. I'm open to constructive criticism, or whatever you want to tell me.

Disclaimer: This would be an episode if it were mine.

Chapter 10

"Here you are," Their escort puts them at the entryway to the hall, and leaves to collect other visitors.

"So what do you think people think this is?"

"Charity event , probably," Ward steered them through the crowds as Skye eyed the long gossamer and silk gowns.

"I feel underdressed," she remarked.

"You look beautiful. Trust me, people at these are always looking for an excuse to look fancier than need be."

They managed to get a spot at the edge of the space that had been created for dancing. Couple swung flawlessly around each other, the string quintette in the corner transitioning from Minuet to a Waltz and back with smooth precision.

"Thirty minutes until go time, what do we do?"

She felt Ward take her hand, and her eyes snapped to him.

"Blend in."

He led her to the edge of the swirling fray.

"I don't know how to dance," she said. Ward raised an eyebrow at her.

"Fine, I don't know how to dance like this."

Ward smiled, "I'll teach you. You put your hand on my shoulder."

She placed her left hand on his right side, near his neck.

"Other hand Skye."

She grimaced and switched.

"Good. Now place your other in mine."

She did as instructed.

"Alright. Now just keep your back straight, shoulders back, don't slouch. You'll be fine."

"But what do I do with my feet?"

"Follow my steps, okay?"

"Okay."

They joined the mass, Ward pulling Skye almost effortlessly through graceful steps. A moment later, she frowned.

"Did you just Fault In Our Stars me?"

He hid his grin.

"You did, didn't you?"

Ward simply laughs.

"Asshole," she muttered.

"Hey," he said, "That's not very nice, now is it?"

"I'm not a very nice person," she shot back.

"Well that's a lie."

"How do you know?"

"You're the nicest person I've ever met. If not the laziest."

That earned him a slap to his shoulder.

"I'm serious."

They stared at each other a moment.

"You're the nicest person I've ever met," he repeated.

Those words shouldn't have made Skye blush. Only they did.


Dancing was a way to forget things, but Skye is still surprised how easily it makes her forget their mission, until Coulson is in her ear, telling her to get into position.
She and Ward detach from the dancers, her heading to Fitz's unruly mop, him for an unlocked back door their Commanding Officer had set.

"You ready?"

Skye nodded to Fitz and pulled her phone out of her pocket. With the press of a button, a signal is sent to the Bus, bounced back to the power system at the base of the mansion, and halts everything. How?

The lights go out.

They had to work fast now.

Coulson and Ward slipped out, using Coulson's glasses and a flashlight to find their destination. A side door, leading to the back of the ballroom.

Simmons and May are already near the security office when the rosy glow of the hall is replaced by total darkness, and the dim red emergency lights that flash on overhead. A moment later, those go out too, only the glow of an exit sign lighting their way. A few guards walk past, and May deals them a shot in the back with an ICER. In the darkness, no one can see them fall, much less go to their rescue.

The corridor containing the office in question is almost black. May and Simmons have adjusted to the darkness.

"You go," May said, "I'll wait until he's out of the picture."

"And how should I do that?"

The older agent pressed the cold barrel into Simmons palm.

"Oh," the scientist understood now.

May nodded, "Good luck."

The biochem specialist kept the pistol clamped in her hand, hidden, as she feigned panic and sprinted towards the guard.

"Oh thank heavens I found you," she squealed in a hysteria clotted tone. The man looked momentarily terrified. He didn't seem to know how to handle a frightened woman. Single, obviously. He gripped her shoulders, asking her to calm down in a voice shakier than hers.

"No, no you don't understand," Simmons wailed her reply. She was doing well, but even May behind the wall could hear the telltale Simmons vocal crack that gave way when she was trying to think fast about something that wasn't recalibrating neurotransmitters. She would have to get the job done quick.

"The lights went out and it was so-" Her ruse dropped with the man, knocked out by the ICER.

"So easy to incapacitate you."

May stepped out.

"Nice touch panicking."

"I've had lots of practice," she watched as Agent May dragged the man off to the side, and stood back up, dusting off her hands.

"Do you have the virus?"
Simmons watched the older woman materialize the flash drive from seemingly nowhere.

"How did you-?"
"It has pockets."

"Oh. Shall we?"

"We shall."

They opened the door to see the most genuinely fearful human being Simmons had ever laid eyes on.


"Small problem," Ward called.

"What?"

"Earhl isn't in the ballroom."

"Then where could he be?"

"I'm not sure. Do you have any ideas?"

Coulson looked at the ground, gears turning in his head.

"Sir?"

"Hmm?"

"What if Earhl knew we were coming?"

"How?"

"The Clairvoyant?"

Coulsons' head lifted towards his specialist.

"I thought you didn't believe in that sort of stuff?"

"With all due respect here sir but we've seen a drug that brought Skye back from the brink, and you back from the dead. I was just attacked by and Asgaurdian that put me under using her voice. It doesn't seem as far fetched anymore."

"Then he might not even be on the premise anymore."

"I don't think so. Think about it sir, if you knew your enemy was coming for you, I don't know about what you'd be doing, but I'd be with whatever I didn't want them getting their hands on, and I would stay with it."

Coulsons head shot up.

"What did you say?"

"I said-"

"No, about where you'd be."

"With whatever I didn't want my enemy to get my hands on."

The senior agent looked at Ward.

"The lab."

"Then let's go."

They made it a few steps before Coulson spoke again.

"So you're done?"

"What?"

"Blaming yourself for what happened with Lorelei. You're done?"

"I guess so."

"Hm. Good."


"How long is this gonna hold?" Skye bugged Fitz.

"I'm not sure. It could be ten minutes it could be twenty. Hopefully long enough for Coulson and Ward."

"Hopefully," she repeated.

Her eyes scanned the party. Most had taken their seats, not wanting to trip over something like a loose chair. The woman were conversing at their table in gossip and whispers, while the men stood by each other gruff tones shooting occasionally from their debates as to why the power, it seemed, had been suddenly cut in the mansion.
She knew their post was important, but she hated this feeling of waiting and wondering. Besides what else could she do?


"Is it in?"

"Yes."

"Is it working?"

"Y-yes, I think so. Please don't short me."

"Oh, stop you're worrying. Even if she were to shoot you, you'd only be knocked unconscious, not dead."

"I don't think that's helping him Simmons."

"It wasn't meant to," the usually sweet mannered scientist slammed her palms against the desk startling the portly man.

"Work, faster," she demanded. You had never seen someone type so quick.


"Clear," Ward called.

He and Coulson advanced to a pair of sliding doors. They were made of Industrial steel, and blackened glass.

"What do you think?"

"Not bulletproof, as far as I can tell."

"That's what I was hoping for."

He fired two rounds at each panel. They broke, spraying razor shards across the hallway, stubborn pieces hanging in the frames.

"Agent Coulson. I was wondering when you would show."


Bangs could be heard below the ballroom. A gasp skipped through the partygoers, along with a few yells of, "Hey!"

"What's going on?" Skye asked.

"I dunno," Fitz replied, sparing a quick glance at the lights, "But this won't hold out forever. The signal is about to recede."

Skye chewed at her lip.

"Give me the phone."

Fitz complied.

"What are you doing?"

"If I can somehow amplify the waves, or resend the signal, it could buy us some more time," she answered, not looking up as she fiddled with the codes.

"And help Ward and Coulson."

"And May and Simmons. I've almost... Got it!"

Her victory cheer attracted stares, but she didn't care.

"Bingo."


"Is it almost done?"

"Y-yes."

There was shouting outside the office. May sighed, looking at the security detail.

"Did you press the silent alarm?"

"Maybe," he sounded like a guilty child.

"Wait here. Simmons," for the second time she handed off her ICER, "Keep an eye on him."

The scientist nodded, resuming Mays position of an ICER to the mans head.

"Keep going," she growled.

The pilot exited the room.

Four men were almost slamming into walls trying to run towards her. They were sloppy, easy targets.

One shouted, "Hey! Freeze!"

He was within arms reach when May flipped him to his back, joining his still unconscious friend on the ground. She drover her foot into his stomach, effectively winding him even further than he had been previously.

His friend came from behind, and she caught him with an elbow jerked into his nose. Blood slipped down his lip, and his eyes were dazed. A simple uppercut puts him out of the action for a short while.

Ugly #3 tried, but be didn't get much further than Mays foot swiping at his throat, larynx long forgotten, he now seems to be choking on air.

The last one was easiest. He goes down from her elbow slammed into his left eye and leaving a bruise, knocking him back into a wall. The disgusting sound of his head hitting the cinderblocks is chilling.

May stopped to catch her breathe and look at the damage. By now, Earhls secret service probably knew she was there, and if anything spelled trouble...

"Simmons," she knocked, "It's me, open up."

Jemma does exactly that, in time to see a smaller man wrap a tight hand around Agent Mays throat and point a gun at her own chest.


"I'm surprised you're still here. I would've thought you were long gone by now, with your little Clairvoyant whispering in your ear, why wouldn't you run?"

Mason Earhl stares at Agent Coulson, who, with Ward, has a gun trained on their target, with baleful eyes and a sump athletic knot between his brows, like an adult surveying a small child. The man has almost black hair, flying around his head in an unruly crescent of curls. His otter like face is punctuated by light, blue green eyes, and barely there lines trace his mouth, like he spent most of himself time smiling, though he didn't. He wears a tights, darks suit, no tie, and crisp white shirt, all outlining a slender figure. He is lounging in a wide, worn leather armchair, a cup of tea frozen between its saucer and his lips. A set game of chest holds it's post at the coffee table before him, and his feet aren't much further away, crossed at the ankles, long legs stretching a good 2 1/2 feet from the rest of him. A single, cushioned, maroon easy chair marks a partners spot across from him, and even surrounded by the industrial equipment of his lab, he is completely relaxed in his 4 1/2 by 4 Persian Carpet square of games and tea.

"I'm sorry John couldn't join us," he sipped from his cup, "He is indisposed at the moment, taking care of your team mates."

"Answer my question!"

"Now, now, Agent Coulson. No rush."

The agents jaw tightened, and he forced a breath into his lungs. Calm down.

"Earhl, why didn't you run?"

"Well what's the point? Run now, and I'd be spending the rest of my time with S.H.I.E.L.D on my tail. I think not. I'd rather know where my next meal was coming from, even if it was through a slot in a metal door."

His accent was English and his voice was deep.

"So you're okay with getting captured? Why?"

"Well what's the point in turning on my tail and fleeing? There's more to life than just the game Agent. Every so often, you have to survive."

"What game? What are you talking about?"
Earhl brought the cup to his lips.

"Are you familiar with the game of chess Agent Coulson?"

"Does it matter?"

"I want to make sure this analogy doesn't fly over your head."
He gulped down a bit more tea and went on explaining.

"The game, Agent, the game. Any war, any battle really, is like a particularly interesting game do chess, where every in is a piece, and the secrets we protect are the kings. In example, your Avengers initiative is like your White Queen. You and your team are the knights, and I, am but a humble rook."

"What?"

"I thought you said it wouldn't go over your head," Earhl sighed, sipped, and continued,

"I speak, Agent Coulson, of the grand chess match that your organization is locked in with mine. We are the weapons. We protect our secrets like knights and bishops would their king."

"What would that make the Clairvoyant?"

"One of the players. S.H.I.E.L.D is the other. Only, you are playing on the board like its a battleground. The Clairvoyant sees the entire game."

"Coulson, we have to go," Ward cuts through his reverie.
He turns to his junior agent.

"Why?"

"It might have something to do with the timer counting down to the activation of land mines beneath your airplane and in your cars," Earhl cut in, directing Coulsons attention to the small time clock at the edge of the room, "Speaking of chess."

"Five minutes Agent Coulson. You'll never make it in time."

Coulson started towards the target, fully intending to walk out somehow with the upper hand.

"Take me if you wish, but we'll all die if we step wrong."

Earhl laughed, low and menacing.

"Rook leads knight straight into a trap."

Coulson looked back at him.

"But why?"

"Sorry?"
"Why would you do that? You know that we'd take you with us, then you'd die too. And even if we did somehow make it off the ground, I'm willing to bet there's someone, somewhere, with their finger on a big red button, ready to blow us out of the sky, so why?"

"I'm hoping you'll take up the other option."

"Which is?"

"Surrender. You and your team will be taken into custody, held tortured for information, but you just might survive. Might. There's a hacker of yours that could be very useful to us. She'll be first."

"Don't you dare-" Ward growled.

"She'd survive longer than you, Agent Ward," Earhl glared, "Oh... But you're in love with her aren't you?"

Ward shifted under their targets gaze.

"The Clairvoyant left that out last time we spoke. I'll be sure to remember."

"Leave her out of this," Coulson cut in.

"Oh yes, you care for the girl. Like she's your own. Maybe that's how I'll get to you two. Ask you a question, hold her head under a bucket of water until you answer."

Ward felt it in his stomach. Hatred, anger, burning his veins, setting his lungs on fire. And fear, black as dust, pulling his chest in on itself, boiling behind his eyes, momentarily shredding his sanity.

His hand was wrapped around Earhl's throat, squeezing.

"Ward," Coulson called. Their targets face was changing to blue in his hand. His grip tightened and he growled, "You won't touch her."

Earhl lay on the floor, panting and coughing red as Ward backed away.

"And how will you stop me?"

"I'll go back, on my own, and I'll take you with me. I'd shoot you now, but S.H.I.E.L.D wants you alive."

"I won't be if you take me."

"But at least it'll look like I tried, instead of just putting a bullet in your face. You're not asking us if we'd like to survive, your asking us how we'd rather die."

"And you would kill yourself, just to stop me? Centipede will go on without my help Agent Ward."

"Point taken. But maybe I'll slow you down."

Earhl looked up at him, smiling, blood dribbling down his lips from Ward squeezing a bit to hard.

"Four more minutes Agent Ward."


The silent stand off was lasting too long, when the short, hedge-hog like man drew back.

"Leave the drive and go."

May looked at him, rubbing her throat warily.

"But-" Simmons protest was matted with a simple, "That or I kill you," from the hedge hog Brit.

The pilot grabbed her arm, leading her out of the room. The lights are back on.

"I don't understand, why did he let us go?"

"I don't know. But from my experience it's never anything good."

"We should go back for it."

"We can't."

"Why not?"

"They've seen us, we can't go back."

"Then who can?"

"May!"

They turned to see Fitz and Skye racing towards them. Skye's shoes are in her hand, long released from her feet.

"What's happening?" Fitz asked hurriedly.

"I'm not sure. But Skye-they have the hard drive with the virus, and they've seen us."

"Did it-"

"It worked, but it's gone."
She nodded slowly.

"It's okay, I'll go back and get it. You guys go meet up with Ward and Coulson. I'll catch up."

"Skye, are you sure?"

There was steel in the hackers eye, and she smiled. Answer enough.

"Down the hall and to the left," May pressed the cold barrel into her hands.

"There's a man with a gun probably still in there. Do what it takes. Be careful."

With a Skye patented smirk, she took a look at her team mates.

"And Skye?"

Her gaze went to May.

"That wasn't an ICER."

The hackers smirk turned to a full blown grin. She turned towards the hall.

And took off running.

Dear goodness that took a while to write. But please, please please, pleeeeeeeaaaaaaaasssseee let me know what you think with a review or a PM. I hope you all liked the longer chapter. I think the next one will be the same way so...
Review!
Love y'all!
SlayGal