dedication: to Torie.
notes: nothing is happy ever.
title: a little lopsided, a lot mean
summary: She's only a curbstomp away from being the girl of his dreams. — Skye/Ward.
Her hand doesn't shake when she levels the gun at his head.
"Skye," he says, throat constricting around the word. Her name hasn't passed his lips in what feels like an aeon, and he tastes grit between his teeth that can't actually be there.
"Good to see you, too, Ward," she says.
She holds herself differently, somehow, a sharpened edge to the wild jungle-tangle of her personality. There are bruises on her knuckles; she's been punching something—someone—hard, and not been taping her hands.
He almost wants to scold her, for that.
But he doesn't have that right anymore, so he keeps his mouth shut. The muscles in his jaw clench involuntarily as he watches the way she moves. He used to be able to predict where her body was going at any particular moment, but he can't anymore.
She's been spending time with May, he thinks, and it's bitter on his tongue.
"Cat got your tongue?" she asks, and smiles a little lopsided, a lot mean. "Aren't'cha even gonna say hello? Or are we just gonna try to kill each other again?"
She says again like she had a chance the first time.
She might have a chance this time, though. Ward aches inside for her, for the death of her innocence, of her wide-eyed awe of the world. She's still awe-inspiring, of course, hair dark-to-light and shining even in the dim light from the faraway fluorescents, smoke and shadows threaded through her hair like deadly flowers.
But Skye's dangerous now, murder flaking off her leather-clad shoulders. She's a butterfly knife through the ribs, a muffled shot in the dark, the last burn of a cigarette. And when she smiles like that (and she does smile like that), he thinks of blood on concrete and of Paris's dark underbelly at night.
Ward never thought he'd see the day.
He doesn't expect it when she goes down, leg sweeping out to knock him off his feet. She's too quick to be human, faster than May, and he's on his ass before he can blink. Pain is a jagged spark up his spine. Ward doesn't even twitch.
She's standing over him, suddenly. The gun is pointed at his forehead, pinned straight in the middle, and neither of them moves.
"You killed us all," she says, and it's nothing but statement of fact.
"I know," Ward says, gravel beneath his tongue.
"And I should do it," she says, and her voice is as steady as stone. "I should kill you. For Jemma, and Fitz, and May, and—and Coulson, how could you do this to Coulson? I—no. It doesn't matter. I should do it."
There is no tremble to her, no fear; Ward has to wonder how long she's been preparing herself for this, mentally and physically. She still looks soft, all curves and long slender lines that don't belong to the warrior that he knows she is.
"Do it, then," he says, and he prays, prays, prays that she does because after everything, he deserves to die. After everything, after the sick and the twisted and the way he wants to cling to her darkest places, he knows what he deserves.
None of it is the light in Skye's eyes.
"Do it, Skye," he says.
The safety goes off with a click.
Ward doesn't close his eyes. She's going to shoot him in the head, and he's going to deserve it—he doesn't deserve the peace of a rushing-quick death, but Skye is kind in her cruelty.
She'll kill him, but she'll make it quick, at the very least.
"You know," she says, tiny movement in the lips, "I still don't get it. Not that I care, because I don't, but like, are you kidding?"
He doesn't have an answer for that. He knows what she's asking, but he doesn't have an answer. He is trash. When he doesn't answer after a long enough period of time, Skye just tosses her head.
"Ugh, whatever," she says. "Have a nice life, Ward. Don't come crying to me when HYDRA bites you in the ass."
Skye looks at him for one more second, eyes harder than diamond and twice as bright, and then—
It takes Ward ten whole seconds to get a grip on the screaming burning feeling firing across his nerves. She's shot him high in the thigh, straight through flesh but not through bone, aiming straight for where it would hurt the most. She's still standing over him, mouth twisted up.
"If you're lucky," Skye says softly, gently, "you won't bleed out. If not, well…"
Ward can feel the blood in his throat, bubbling thickly like molten metal. Sick and hot, and Skye's eyes on him feel like a murder-suicide. He doesn't move, though he could kill her twelve different ways even incapacitated the way he is. He just doesn't want to.
And if anyone should kill him, it really should be her. She's the only one with any right.
"Bye, Robot 9000," Skye says. "And good fucking riddance."
She turns on her heel, the concrete grinding away into dust beneath her. She's only a curbstomp away from being the girl of his dreams—so close, so close. She kicks her boots off, bends down to pick them up and then she's leaving, carrying her shoes.
Skye looks over her shoulder, just a tiny glance. She's a glint, a flint, a spark. She's the first and last mystery of his life, the 084 that no one could put a name to. She barely even exists, after all.
(Breathing gets hard and thick and slow, the wet sucking sound ugly as nails against chalkboard.)
The last thing Ward sees of her is her smile.
A little lopsided. A lot mean.