The next morning, Skye nervously walked into the cargo hold. She had no idea of how things would go or even how she wanted them to be. All she knew was that Grant Ward finally was forced to be around her and this time, he couldn’t run away. Despite her being early (anxiety does wonders for punctuality), Grant was waiting for her with no expression on his face.
Skye sighed. “Hey, Robot.”
Grant looked startled but then smiled slightly. “Agent Skye,” he acknowledged. “I talked with Trip about what you’ve been working on and it sounds like we need to get back to your relative strength training.” While he was talking, he automatically started checking the wraps on Skye’s hands. “Why don’t you show me where you are right now?”
Skye started punching the bag, harder and with more focus than she had when Grant was still training her. He was impressed but also noticed that her form wasn’t correct.
He waited until she stopped and then said, “You’re still dropping your head. You need to focus on keeping it up. Your stance also could use some work.”
Skye turned her face away from him and swallowed hard. It was almost like Hydra had never reared its head and things were just like they had been.
Grant’s expression turned guarded as he observed her sad expression. “You don’t have to do this with me, you know. Trip is a great SO and he can handle your…”
“No!” Skye interrupted and all of her pent-up frustration just erupted. “Don’t you get it? I missed you! So much. I want you to train me, Ward, but this time, I want it to be real. No more Robot. I want you to talk with me. Can you do that?”
Grant looked down. “I don’t know. I hurt you so badly that I don’t understand why you would even want to be around me, much less talk with me. When you told me that you hoped Garrett would order me to walk into traffic, I understood. I’m a monster. But wanting me to train you? To talk with you? That, I don’t get.”
“Oh, so it’s ok for you to talk to and even get physical with Kat but I get nothing?” Skye asked angrily.
Grant looked back up, his expression utterly confused. “Get physical? What are you talking about? Kat has nothing to do with us!”
“But you talk with her. A lot. And yet when I want to talk, all you do is run away,” Skye all but yelled. Her eyes filled with tears as she saw Grant’s look of sorrow. “You said that your feelings for me were real but how can they be when you never want to be around me?” She stopped suddenly. “Or maybe your feelings have changed. Is that it?”
Grant shook his head. “Skye, my feelings for you haven’t changed. It’s just that Kat helped me realize that if I truly love you, I should want what’s best for you. Instead of wanting something for myself the way Garrett would have, I want you to be happy and I don’t think you could ever be happy with me. You hate me. And you should. I wasn’t lying when I told you that I’m not a good man.”
He stopped talking and looked at Skye who was staring at him with her mouth open. “I can’t do this!” he said as he punched the bag and ran out of the cargo hold. Skye stood staring after him for a full minute before collecting herself and muttering, “That went well. And what do you know? It turns out he can run away.”
Skye gave Ward an hour to calm down before she found him reading in his bunk. She knocked at his door before barging in and sitting on his bed. She had no intention of allowing him to get out of this talk. She stared at him steadily until he gave her his full attention (he’d tried to wait her out but she was having none of his avoidance) before speaking. “I guess you were right about your skeletons being different than mine,” she said with a brief smile. “Nastier too.”
He nodded. “You have no idea the things I’ve done. The things you already know about and what I mentioned in the meeting were just a taste. I’m weak, Skye, and I can never be the kind of man you want me to be.”
“But I’m weak too, Grant!” He looked up at her sharply when she called him by his first name. “Do you want to know what I did the first night after Coulson rescued me from you? I spent the entire night crying and looking at the picture of you I sent to the police. Even after you kidnapped me, even after I discovered you were a murderer, I still cared about you. All I wanted in that moment was for things to be the way they were, with no Hydra and all of us being together on the Bus.”
“I wanted that too,” Grant said in a low voice without looking at Skye. “I wanted that so much but I couldn’t leave Garrett. I wish to God I had! But that doesn’t make you weak, Skye. That just means you cared. That’s what you do. It’s one of the things that make you so great.”
“But it was more than just that! Even as angry, hurt and scared as I was, in my mind, I still tried to find a way to bring you home! I wanted you to be controlled the way Mike Peterson was or find out that you were part of the Incentives program. I said I cared about all the people you killed but, when it came down to it, I just wanted you back! But when I found out that you were doing what you did out of your own choice? That was when I gave up on you! I didn’t bother to wonder what made you so loyal to Garrett or question what you had gone through to get where you were. And that’s not me, is it Grant? Instead of having compassion for someone I truly cared for, I took the easy way out and let anger take over. I let myself hate you and I shouldn’t have done that.”
Grant looked at Skye and saw that she was crying. “Hey,” he said gently, taking her hand. “You have every right to hate me. I deserve that. No one is blaming you for it, least of all me!”
Skye yanked her hand away and cried harder. “But you don’t deserve that, Grant! Don’t you see? Garrett brainwashed you. He took a physically and emotionally abused boy and abused him some more! He kept you from having healthy relationships and, when it looked like you might have some anyway, he made sure to rip you away from us! He forced you to do things that hurt you and he didn’t even care. And we should have seen that! But we didn’t. We were so comfortable letting you protect us that we let you take risks and punches and be controlled by Asgardian staffs and witches and we didn’t question how it was affecting you. We didn’t wonder what could possibly make someone so unemotional and so unwilling to take care of himself. We were weak because not only did we not take good care of you, Grant, but, in hating you, we also let you take full responsibility for it. And you shouldn’t.”
Grant looked stunned and remained silent as he and Skye just looked at each other. She stopped crying but didn’t say a word. Finally, he said, “Kat’s been saying a lot of those things too but it’s hard to believe.” He smiled a little when he noticed Skye’s expression darken when he said Kat’s name. “And there is nothing going on between us. You have to believe that. She’s just a good friend and she would be the first to tell you that.”
“She has and I do believe it. It’s just hard not to get jealous when it seems like the two of you get along so well and we barely speak. So, can that change? Can you train me for real this time? Can we become at least good friends?”
Grant smiled and nodded. “But what are we going to do about our weaknesses?”
Skye returned his smile and took his hand. “Maybe we can work on them together.”