Disclaimer: Still don't own the world. Working on it. World domination takes time, kay?

Author's Note: Look, I never posted this back in 2015 because I got irritated with the fandom, but...

...Here. Have a chapter that's been sitting abandoned in one of my computer folders for the past four years, collecting an insane amount digital dust and cobwebs.

I have, like, 4 more chapters planned out and partially written if anyone's remotely interested. Let me know, guys.


Chapter 2:

Cloud 9


"Hate me later," Ward snapped, snatching her by the back of her hospital gown, "We need to move."

As he dragged her toward the door, Skye flailed her hands out unsuccessfully, trying to snag any surface she could- spinny chair, cabinet, cute little side desk- finally her fingers latched around the side of the door frame. "I don't wanna get airquotes 'rescued' by you, I wanna get rescued by Coulson!" she yowlped, clamping her knees and elbows around the doorframe too, trying to cement her grip on it.

A super-brief microexpression like, 'really? You're really gonna be this immature and impossible?' flashed across Ward's face. "Coulson's late-"

"Fashionably late," Skye corrected emphatically.

"No, just late."

"Ye..ah- probably because you messed up his plan somehow and made him late just so you could jump in and play hero!" Skye accused, tightening her death-grip hug on the doorframe.

"Not everything has to be a conspiracy," Ward sighed.

"Just the super suspicious and overly convenient things."

"Can we maybe start escaping as we argue?" Ward suggested, looking supremely impatient.

"I'm not going anywhere with you." You freakin' backstabbing bastard, she mentally added. What the hell, I'll just say it. "You freakin' backstabbing bastard."

Abruptly, Ward yanked a gun out of a slim black leg holster Skye had somehow missed seeing before- Probably because it's black and his jeans are black too, and I was mostly looking at his face to try to guess what he was thinking, but it's Ward, so of course he would have a gun, I mean, it's basically standard Ward attire- oh right, and he did just say the thing about gunning people down, so why am I even having this internal dialogue with myself wondering why he has a gun? Sheesh, Skye thought rapidly, as his gun hand moved toward her-

Unexpectedly, Ward handed her the gun. Just handed it to her. "If I try anything, shoot me," he said simply.

Skye stared at it, stared at him. This is all a trick to get me to let go of the door- she thought hazily, but hey, I'm totally falling for it. Tentatively, her hand reached out and took the shiny weapon from his hand. "How do I know it's loaded?"

Snatching it back from her, Ward abruptly shot a hole in the hallway ceiling- little flaky bits of rusty dust tumbled down, illuminated by the lemon-lime hall lights.

"How do I know that wasn't the last shot?" Skye asked cagily.

Ward yanked out the mag, showed her all the rounds, then jammed it back in. "Happy?" he snapped, shoving the gun back in her hand.

"Cloud nine."

"Terrific."

Letting go of the doorframe finally, Skye took a step out of the lab, joining Ward out in the hall. "How do I know you won't do that gun-snatch trick on me again?" she pestered.

"I'll stay out of arm's reach, how's that?"

"Cool by me," Skye retorted, tagging after him. He was moving fast. Not that he's running or anything, but it's uncomfortably close to a jog. Power-walking, at least, Skye thought irritably. She'd felt pretty okay when she was just lying there, snapping off quippy comebacks at Ward, but now that she was upright and her muscles were actually having to do something, she could feel the nausea crawling up her in waves. After a few moments of no sound but buzzing light fixtures and bare feet and boots on metal, Skye asked finally- "How do I know this gun isn't biometrically locked to your DNA and won't shoot for me?"

"Skye!"

"It's a valid question!"

"Put another hole in the ceiling if it makes you happy," Ward retorted like he was being super lenient or something. "Actually- wait till we get past this corridor, or you'll get ricochet."

The moment they were past the corridor, Skye shot the wall next to Ward.

He whirled around in shock.

"Just checking," Skye informed him, not really sure whether she felt apologetic or just smug. Yeah, just smug, she decided after a grand total of two entire seconds.

Ward stopped in front of a metal ladder built into a concave opening in the side of the wall, and began climbing up. "Watch out, these rungs are slimy," he informed her over his shoulder.

"Like you," Skye snapped back automatically. Her insults were just on autopilot by now.

Ward inhaled, then exhaled. Well obviously he'd been breathing since he got here, but it was just slightly more noticeable this time. "You know-" he said, "if I hadn't taken out that guy scheduled to dissect you, you'd be getting dissected. Right now. As we speak."

"Forgive me for not hugging and high-fiving the guy who was gonna saw me open three minutes ago." Huh, they are slimy, Skye thought, as her hand slipped on the old metal.

"That was- c'mon, you have to know that was all show for the camera, right?" Ward asked insistently. "I had to threaten you so that you'd freak out or scream or something- so that it'd give me a plausible excuse for throwing the saw and 'accidentally' breaking the security cam- I just wanted it to look like I got mad. I could never actually be mad at you. I could definitely never actually saw you up."

It was almost believable. "Nnnot how it looked from my perspective," Skye retorted, curling her bare toes tightly around the next rung, trying not to fall. Is it just mold? Some sort of bacterial buildup? Troll saliva?

"Your perspective was a little sideways," Ward reminded her.

"Yeah, I don't think that was it," Skye scoffed.

"Yes it was. I'm a master of deception," he replied sleekly. Like it was some sort of shining star attribute on his Hydra resume.

"Yeah, I noticed," Skye growled back emphatically. "Jerkwad. But you were legit mad back there."

"Not remotely," Ward said, as he stepped off the service ladder and onto the floor of the next level.

"Then what were you?"

"Ecstatic to see you again," he said, offering her a hand up. "Not loving the you hating me thing."

"Deal with it," Skye snapped, pointedly ignoring Ward's hand and getting up on her own. Barely. This new level had a grated metal flooring, which was rusty and peeling and decidedly less fun to jog across in bare feet than the plate metal floor of the last level. "And you know-" she added suddenly, "-if getting me all riled up and yelling was the plan, why didn't you just just walk in there with the saw already buzzing and say, 'Hey there Skye, I'm gonna carve you up now?' Would've showed way better time management skills."

"Well, I had hoped you would just trust me enough to let me rescue you to begin with. That saw, dissection, camera stuff was just an- admittedly badly- improvised Plan B."

"If you weren't planning on threatening to dissect me, why'd you walk in with a dissection kit, huh?" Skye demanded, wincing and hopping slightly as she stubbed her toe on the grating.

"To maintain my cover?"

"Yeah well- that makes sense, I got nothing."

"I would never hurt you," Ward promised emphatically. "Skye, you know me."

"No. I don't. I don't know you at all. I know the cover persona of Agent Grant Ward, gruff but brave, quiet and stoic, tough past, clear-cut present, knows how to get the job done, cares about human life, always there for his teammates. Grant Ward version 2.0 is a blank. Square one. Starter screen. Blank character sheet. Actually, not totally blank- there's one succinct paragraph in there, that says you're a pro at faking comradeship, and you're pretty damn comfortable killing your fake comrades as soon as Hydra gives the order. Oh, it also says you're pretty A-plus at being a delusional creepo stalker."

"I'm not a stalker," Ward insisted.

"You broke into a Hydra facility for the sole reason of whisking me off somewhere in the insane hope I'll- what, fall in love with you?" Skye scoffed. "That's pretty dedicated stalkerism. Also- where are you whisking me off to again?"

"Skye," Ward said, completely ignoring her Very Important Question, "I told you more about myself and my past than I've ever told anyone. You know me better than anyone."

"Then I guess nobody knows you, since I can't trust that everything you told me aren't lies. You're just a man of murky mystery, aren't you? Speaking of- how'd you escape the Playground?"

"You'll never know," Mr. 'Man of Murky Mystery' said mysteriously. "How'd you get captured by Hydra again?"

"You'll never know either- fine, they nabbed me when I was picking up takeout, sheesh." Skye rolled her eyes in defeat.

"Coulson should keep you on a shorter leash," Ward observed.

"New S.H.I.E.L.D. doesn't work like that," Skye retorted.

"New S.H.I.E.L.D. should do a better job of protecting its most valuable assets."

"Okay, fact check-" Skye began-

-Her muscles numbed up and gave out suddenly, and she fell sideways. The metal of the nearby wall clanged against her palms, as she managed to retain just enough motor control to keep herself from ending up on the ground. The metal felt warm and humming beneath her fingers. Her elbows sank against the wall. It felt- nice. I could stay here all day... she thought. No wait, I couldn't. Because I would die. Dissected. Get with the program, limbs.

Skye barely registered the boot-steps rushing over to her. Ward's stupid face was there looking at her like it was concerned or something. Tender concern was a weird look on Ward. It didn't fit. Murderers shouldn't be allowed to look so sweet. There should be a law or something. An anti-concerned-facial-expressions prohibitory law... thing. "Get your face outta my face," Skye growled lethargically.

"Are you alright?" Ward asked insistently.

"Abso-bloody-perfect," Skye zinged backed dizzily, probably slightly channeling Jemma.

"No you're not-" Ward's stupid hand reached toward her-

"Back, off," Skye growled, jerking the shiny gun toward him convulsively, and trying not to get distracted by all the reflections dancing off its over-polished metal surface.

"Skye-"

"I'm, fine," Skye lied, attempting to stagger to her feet defiantly, "It was just a catnap- so get your stupid self away from-"

"SKYE!"

Ward's hand shoved roughly down on her back, a loud shot exploded over her head, Ward's other hand did the whole 'Ward gun-snatch' thing-

-and suddenly Skye was flat on the grated floor, rust all up in her face, and Ward was there holding the gun, and-

-A Hydra agent was lying dead and dripping blood at the end of the corridor.

Ward leaned down, and handed Skye back the gun. "Sorry to interrupt," he said casually. "You were saying?"