The Return of Shield

Back on the Bus

As soon as Kat hung up, Grant burst out, “We’re going to Coulson?” Kat nodded. “No, no way. They hate me and they have every reason to!”

“I’m not going to tell you that this will be easy. It won’t be, for you or for them. They were deeply hurt by your betrayal and actions but Grant, you need to do this and so do they. No one’s going to be able to move forward until some healing takes place. Besides, they need you.”

“Yeah, right. What do they need me for?” he scoffed.

“Well, for the moment, they need your help in clearing out Hydra cells. They also need information on the evolution Garrett went through after he was dosed with that regenerative drug.” Kat noticed that he looked like he was going to be sick. “What?” He remained silent. “Grant, you need to tell me what’s going on.”

Grant’s body sort of shrunk and Kat had to strain to hear him. “They were the only people who ever cared about me and I betrayed them. I hurt them. I don’t even know if Fitz is okay. How do I ever make up for that? Why would they want to be around me?”

“Because they love you,” Kat said firmly.

Grant’s head whipped around to look at her. “What?” he asked incredulously. “How could they?” He paused for a moment, “Wait, how do you even know that?”

“Because I read their reports and I talked with Phil. And contrary to what you used to believe, people don’t choose to feel; they have to deal with their emotions regardless if they want to have them. They fell in love with the real Grant Ward just like you fell in love with them.” Grant looked at her doubtfully. “With all of them, even May,” Kat insisted. “Do you know why affairs are so much harder to get over than other marital problems?” Grant shook his head. “It’s because the person who hurt you was the person you thought you knew, the person who was supposed to love you. It isn’t the actions that hurt the most; it’s the fact that you were deceived and now you don’t know what to believe or if you can or even should trust that person again. That’s what your team is feeling about you although on a much larger scale. They love you but they don’t know who you are, if you can be trusted, or if how you felt about them was real.”

“It was all real,” he muttered.

Kat smiled. “I know that and you know that. Now you just have to convince them of that.”

“Easier said than done.”

“I know. That’s why I said it wouldn’t be easy. Is it worth trying?”

At Grant’s nod, Kat said, “Okay then,” just as they pulled up at an airfield near the Bus. Grant still looked like he was going to be sick though, so Kat touched his shoulder. “It’s going to be fine. You’re not alone. That’s why I’m here,” she said quietly before getting out. Then she went around, got her bags and waited for Grant to walk beside her toward the plane. As they got closer, Phil Coulson walked down the ramp.

When she got near Phil, Kat dropped her bags and practically threw herself into his arms. Puzzled, Grant noted that both of them seemed to have tears in their eyes when they pulled apart but he remained silent. There was no way he was going to be the first to speak. Grant still remembered like it was yesterday Phil Coulson telling him that his torture was going to be mostly internal and a little external.

Kat smiled at Phil. “I don’t know whether I should be mad at you for not telling me you’re alive or just grateful that you are.”

Phil smiled back, “Yeah, I get that a lot.” He paused, his face changing into a sad expression, “I am so sorry that I wasn’t able to be there for you when…”

Kat hurriedly interrupted him. “I know you would have been there if you could have. Now,” she said glancing back at Grant, “where are you going to put us and have you told the others we’re coming?”

Phil finally looked up at Grant without expression. “Yes, the others know that you’re coming and I have no problem telling you that they aren’t happy about it. At all. However, I agreed to this, so we’re going to make the best of it.” He turned back to face Kat, “We’ll go over the rules later but for now, we have a bunk for you. Ward will stay in the interrogation room. We have a cot set up for him there.”

Kat looked like she was going to argue but instead just sighed and nodded. “I’ll take him there. Grant, I assume you know the way?”

Grant nodded and set off toward the room he’d come to dread. It held such awful memories for him but honestly, this wasn’t as bad as he imagined it was going to be. At least he wasn’t in chains. Yet. And the thought of seeing his former teammates filled him with anxiety, sadness and, if he was being honest with himself, excitement. He wanted so badly to see them again, all of them, but he didn’t know if he could face them. But there was this little part of him – this tiny part that Kat and Dr. Stoddard had helped to grow, the one that believed maybe he did deserve to have good things – that couldn’t help but be glad he was out of prison.

Kat looked around the interrogation room and sneered just a bit, trying not to let Grant see her expression. She wasn’t thrilled with how this was going but it was early and anything could happen. “Well,” she said to Grant, “this isn’t ideal but it’ll have to do for now. At least you’re safe. I’ll work on the rest.”

Grant smiled a bit as he sat down on the cot. It was uncomfortable but nothing he couldn’t manage. “I’ll be fine. I didn’t expect anything more.” Kat turned to go and he caught her hand. It was the first time he had ever touched her and Kat looked surprised. “Thank you,” he said. He wanted to say more but didn’t know what could even encompass all of what he was feeling.

Kat nodded, knowing him well enough to hear what was unsaid. She smiled back at him. “You’re welcome.” Then she left to find Phil.

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