Disclaimer: I own Agents of Shield in the same way I own the world. In a wishful thinking kinda way. To clarify: I don't own Agents of Shield.

Author's Note: I started writing this pre-Season 2, so the events here take place a few months after Season 1, with an alternate storyline.

Chapter 1:

Dissection Kits, Forgiveness Fails, & Valiant Attempts to Not Get Rescued

I smell like iodine and antiseptic. And I'm- my underwear are gone. She started to freak out a little. She was wearing a flimsy, tie-in-the-back hospital gown, and nothing else. That's all I am to them. A body. A thing. A creature. A test subject. A specimen. An alien. A mutant. They didn't know yet.

The overhead light was pounding her with its harsh tungsten shine, giving her a migraine.

Her sluggish brain assessed the situation. Sedative-induced haziness. Patent leather wrist straps. Surgical drape paper and cold metal against her back. Candy-colored vials and beakers of unlabeled chemicals. All the upbeat finishes any self-respecting multi-billion dollar underground Nazi-origin evil mad scientist lab ought to have. Awesome.

A clicky slidey noise drew her eyes to the door.

"They sent you to dissect me?" Skye stated, glancing nervously at the open dissection kit in Ward's hands. "And, you jumped at the chance," she muttered to herself, glancing futilely back up at the blinding ceiling lights, letting them scar dark lilac shadow-spots into her retinas.

"I'm not going to hurt you, Skye," Ward assured her, almost gently, as the automatic door slid shut behind him.

"Really?" Skye shot back, sliding her stinging eyes back towards his hands. "Cause FYI, the briefcase of surgical implements kinda gives that impression."

Ward glanced at the case like he'd forgotten he was holding it, then instantly clicked it shut and set it down on a nearby table. "I'm here to rescue you," he said.

"Wow," Skye retorted, cranking her sarcasm up to the max. "My hero."

"No, I am. I mean, here to rescue you."

"If you wanted me to believe that, maybe you should've done something about those ulterior motives stamped all over your face."

There was an awkward pause.

"Me? Ulterior moti- Okay, fine... I do have conditions," he admitted.

"Called it. Totally called it. What conditions?" Skye asked, eying the ex-Hydra agent cagily, and wishing she weren't quite so horizontal.

"You-" He paused awkwardly. "You have to forgive me. You have to give me a second chance."

Skye stared at him for twenty seconds straight, laser-focusing the the full magnitude of her disgust into that glare. "Fitz gave you a second chance, and he's in a coma."

"Fitz was a casualty of war," Ward replied bluntly. "I was never really on his side, so I never actually betrayed him."

Skye looked and failed to see any redeeming glimpse of guilt. "Oh my God, you don't even care," she scoffed. "Fitz was like, the most likeable, nerdy, harmless, sweetest, loyalest guy ever, how could you just look him in face and kill him, and not care?"

"Technically, I didn't kill him, seeing as he is in fact alive," Ward corrected emotionlessly.

"Just answer the question!"

"The question is flawed, so, no."

"There was intent to kill," Skye argued.

"So forgiveness is off the table?"

"Until you're genuinely sorry, yeah. The only thing on a table in here is me."

There was an awkwarder pause. It was almost as awkward as Jim Carrey's acting in The Cable Guy. Close second.

"Or motorized reclining dissection slab, whatever," Skye muttered tardily, craning her neck to the side to get a better look at the cold metal surface she was strapped to. Yeah, definitely a dissection slab.

"Look," Ward began again in his most calming, diplomatic, Shield agent voice, "we don't have a lot of time- I'm going to unlock you from this thing, but first, I need to trust you. I need you to trust me."

"I don't even trust that you won't assault me if I'm alone in a room with you! Like, you know, now, when I'm alone in a room with you..." Skye realized, feeling her throat tighten uncomfortably.

"Why would you even say that, Skye?" Ward sounded hurt, stunned- and backed off a step.

Stupid mouth, why are you bigger than my brain? Skye thought irately. "Back at Cybertek Command, you know, before May kicked your ass six ways from Sunday and fractured your larynx to smithereens- which I miss, by the way- you said maybe you'd just take me? Wake something up inside me? You don't remember that? Is it the concussion?" she added sarcastically.

"Look... I was mad-"

"And it's not like you'll ever get mad again, and get that idea again, I mean random rage is so unlike you, and-"

"I didn't mean it."

"Yes, you did," she snapped back acidly, trying to ignore the fact that Ward was looking genuinely embarrassed.

"I'm sorry?" he tried cautiously, subconsciously rubbing the back of his neck with one hand.

"Yeah, nope- doesn't work," she scoffed.

Ward paced briefly back and forth across the gleaming metal room. "I think you should give me another chance," he stated quietly, almost like he was talking to himself- almost like he didn't want her to hear. "I think you should give us another chance. But yeah, specifically me," Ward added quickly, as if somehow thinking that would cover up how freaking creepy his last sentence was.

"What?- no. Are you insane?" Skye stammered.

"Skye, just-"

"Am I insane? Cause I would have to be. I would have to be... so insane to take you back- into my circle of trust," she clarified rapidly, really wanting to squash this 'romantic angle' Ward was hinting at. Like a bug. Like a freakin' creepy bug.

"Tell me there's a chance," Ward persisted, coming closer again. Too close. Hands on the side of her dissection slab close. Even over the noxious iodine odor, he smelled strongly like sweat and burnt tires and- for some reason- Atomic Fireball candy.

"You're not hearing that. EV-ER."

He looked briefly flustered by her flat-out rejection. "We don't have to rush it, we can pick up where we left off-"

"Oh- oh you mean when you were aiming a gun at my kevlar vest and I was threatening to detonate you?" Skye retorted."Is that what you were referencing?"

Ward slid his fingertips up his forehead for a moment, then held both hands out placatingly, and said, "Okay, thought exercise- imagine for a moment that you did love me-"

Dammit, he said 'love'. "Pushing my suspension of disbelief, Ward," Skye retorted dryly, careful not to let him see her jitters. "Pushing it off a cliff."

"But if you did. If you did, if you felt something, if you just don't want to admit it now because it's complicated-"

"Complicated?!" Skye snarled loudly. "That's what you call this? How about sick, or deranged, or messed up, or forget about it, or never going to happen?"

"Never's a bit extreme," Ward pointed out.

"No. It's not."

"It is a little."

"And how did 'I'll rescue you if you forgive me' suddenly warp into 'I'll rescue you if you date me?" Skye asked incredulously.


"You don't even like yourself, how can you expect me to like you?"

"We had something, Skye," Ward insisted through a clenched half-smile, tilting his head to the side. "Don't deny it."

"We didn't 'have' something- we had the potential of having something. That's over, and buried- no, cremated- no- nuked and deconstructed at the atomic level, erased, deleted, vaporized out of existence! Shift delete! There's nothing left."

"You could like me again," Ward argued with a tight-lipped smirk.

"You wouldn't like me if I liked you," Skye retorted.

"Don't tell me how I would or wouldn't like you."

"In what world would I say yes, Ward? From everything you know about me, what makes you think I'd-"

"You don't wanna die."

"Not as much as I don't want to leave this room with you."

She felt his hand crunch the surgical lining paper next to her neck, heard the crunch echo in her ear, saw his face lean in toward her face, felt sick.

"Don't make me hurt you," he warned.

"And, it took you exactly that long to get to the threatening to assault me part," Skye snapped, fighting not to choke on the artificial red-hot cinnamon smell crawling down her neck.

"I was not threatening to-" Ward angrily cut himself off, shoving himself away from her face, clearly frustrated. "-I just meant, if you don't let me rescue you, they'll be expecting me to dissect you."

"Oh, just dissecting me, is that all? Why would they expect that anyways? You're not a surgeon, you're not a scientist, you're not-"

"My stolen name tag says I am." He tugged up on the orange lanyard around his neck, briefly holding the tag in front of her face. It was bloody. Fresh blood. Probably not Ward's.

"Yeah, but they know who you are," Skye countered.

"Not these specific people at this specific lab." Ward took something out of the dissection kit that looked sorta like a glue gun- only instead of a relatively harmless little nozzle at the end for squeezing out hot glue for happy glittery arts and crafts- there was a sharp, square-edged, creepy blade thing. Ward twisted the adjustor knob below the blade, plugged a battery pack into the base of the saw, and powered it on.

Skye flinched. She knew it was going to sound loud and lethal, but the weird acoustics in this metal-walled room made the reverb WAY worse. Basically like a riled mutated wasp the size of Mothra was trying to dive-bomb into her ear canals.

Ward seemed unbothered by the noise. He just approached casually, which was somehow vastly more menacing than if he'd went all-out mad scientist mustache-twirling psycho on her. "So, about my offer?" he asked over the buzz of the rapidly vibrating blade.

"How 'bout a counter offer- HEY SECURITY CAMERA PEOPLE! AGENT WARD IS IN THIS ROOM TRYING TO BREAK ME OUT AND HE KILLED THE GUY WHO WAS SUPPOSED TO DISSECT ME AND NOW HE'S GONNA DO IT ALL WRONG and you'll NEVER get your answers about me!" Her voice gave out a bit at the end. She was actually surprised she'd even managed to finish the screamy sentence without Ward physically shutting her up, but he was still just standing there, looking mildly amused.

"How is that a counter offer?" he asked calmly. "Also, the walls are soundproof, and they don't have audio to this room. Why would they? I mean, just the 'zzzz' of the surgical saw through bone is nightmare-inducing enough, but then when you overlap it with the screams-"

"You're better than this, Ward!"

"I am not!" Ward slam-tossed the surgical saw at the security camera in sudden fit of rage. "I'm not better than this! This is ALL I am, this is all I'll ever be!" The broken-off security camera swung drunkenly from its wires, as the saw spun in the corner, buzzing circular scratches into the plate metal flooring and throwing amber sparks around.

Skye met Ward's wild-eyed stare, not even flinching this time. "I think you just say that, because it's easier than actually trying to change," she stated challengingly. "Easier than facing up to what you've done."

He opened his mouth, and paused- clearly floundering for a comeback.

Just keep him talking until May and Trip get here... Skye thought desperately. Or whoever's on the other side of that security camera, who's thinking, 'hmm, is it standard procedure to throw the creepy saws at the security camera? I think not! Let's go check it out guys!' Or girls. Or- robots?'

"You know what- forget this, we'll talk later," Ward snapped. He started typing in the beepy release code on the side of her surgical slab.

Dammit. "Wai- what are you doing?" Skye asked in alarm, even though she'd already guessed.

"Saving your ass."

Skye's heart was going all-out jackhammer on her now. "I- don't want your help," she replied awkwardly.

"Tough, 'cause you're getting it," Ward retorted sharply. His sudden backlash of harsh emotion was still hovering in the air like dry ice at a rock concert.

"But- do you even have an exit strategy for getting out of here?" Skye asked.

Ward gave her a look. "Don't insult me."

"Your face looks stupid," Skye shot back instantaneously. "I couldn't help it, and I'm not sorry."

Ward's stupid face rolled its eyes.

The electronic metal clamps on the sides of her leather wrist and ankle cuffs clicked open with a noise like- like a lightsaber powering down, for lack of a less nerdy analogy, Skye thought briefly. She slid achily off the slab, keeping her backside away from Ward and tugging her gown shut behind her with one hand- she slipped, Ward grabbed her arm-

-She jerked away like a snapped rubber band. "Whoa, access denied!"

"Okay- okay," Ward said, instantly releasing her arm but not backing an inch out of her personal space, "I won't touch you- but you have to come this way."

"No to the power of infinity," Skye hissed, trying to keep her balance. Her feet felt funny. Her spine felt cold. Her everything felt cold.

"I'm sorry Skye, but I don't accept that," Ward said, reverting back to 'calm no-nonsense negotiator' mode. "You're coming with me."

Skye wanted to cross her arms over her chest to accentuate how stubborn she was gonna be, but her wardrobe malfunction wouldn't let her. So she flicked her drooping brown hair over her shoulder with a twitch of her neck. There, that looked defiant and stubborn. Sort of. "I'm staying right here," she said.

"Not an option," Ward retorted.

"I'm- um- not leaving without my clothes." Skye glanced around the room quickly without ever actually letting Ward slip out of her line of peripheral vision. "Where are my clothes?"

Ward abruptly reached up over her shoulder, yanked open a metal drawer on the wall behind her, grabbed something aqua and cotton from inside, and dropped it ungracefully on her head. "Just put that on backwards over the other one."

Skye instantly snatched the minty fabric off her scowling face. It was another hospital gown. "Won't I look kinda conspicuous out there all aqua and shoeless and running through the halls?" Skye asked as she slid her arms into the short sleeves of the second gown. The fact that there was a wall so close to her back disturbed her. She had thought she had at least a few more feet of 'retreating-from-Ward' space available.

"Yes, but I'll gun down anyone who sees us, so don't sweat it," Ward assured her. There was a hard light in his soft brown eyes.

"But what about-" Skye quickly scoured her mind for another lame excuse, as she slowly tied the hospital gown ties in front over her waist and neck. "What about the uh- the- the drugs, the stuff they drugged me with, what if I can't keep up with you, what if I get dizzy and knock out, what if I get caught in the crossfire of your ultra-epic shoot-'em-ups, what if they've got some sorta tracker in me somewhere, what if I've got- the eye, the detonating eye implant?"

"Do you feel like your eye's been ripped out and replaced with a cyborg implant?"


"And I could search you for surgical incisions if you want, but if you're gonna start accusing me of harassing you again-"

"Nope- I'm good- no- nevermind," Skye stammered so fast it was almost all one word. "They- you know, they wouldn't wanna track me or convert me into an agent anyways- since clearly, I was never meant to leave this room." She glanced pointedly at the dissection slab, trying to distract Ward's gaze away from her flimsy double-layer gown.

"Except for now," Ward stated, not glancing away from her for a second. "Now you are meant to leave this room."

"Yeah, but... but what if there's tests, in this room, about me, tests they did while I was unconscious, tests that tell me why I'm an 0-8-4?"

"We don't have time- we didn't have time to start with, and now we DEFINITELY do not have time!"

"What if I never have time? What if this is my last good chance to find out why Hydra wants to dissect me, and you botch it up by charging in here guns blazing on some futile attempt at redemption heroics-"

"Why are you so dead set against getting rescued-" Ward hissed- he paused abruptly. "Coulson and team are on their way, aren't they?"

"No," Skye lied pathetically.