Figuring It Out
Kat was shaking from the tension of holding in her tears while she told her story. Despite her best efforts, a single tear ran down her face and she grasped Grant’s hand firmly while trying to breathe deeply.
Phil gently put his hand on her shoulder. “They were heroes,” he said.
Kat nodded. “They were but some days I find that a cold comfort. I miss them so much! You have no idea of how unworthy I felt after that weekend. Daughter of two SHIELD legends and wife to a hero yet I was the only one who survived. Because of course that’s what I thought, that I was the lone survivor. We all did. Since the last thing I saw was Blake collapsing, I assumed they’d killed him, just like they did my parents.”
“Didn’t they find his body?” Skye asked.
Kat shook her head and let go of Grant’s hand. “When I woke up in the hospital, they told me that when SHIELD got there, they couldn’t find any bodies in the house other than my parents. There wasn’t any blood, fingerprints or anything else that could tell us who they were or what they wanted. They were one hell of a clean-up crew! It was like they were ghosts. My parents managed to hit their panic button, so SHIELD got to the compound pretty quickly. Everyone assumed that the intruders were going to take my parents’ bodies too but just didn’t have time. No one ever suggested that Blake was alive; we all thought he was dead.”
“And your injury?” Jemma asked gently.
Kat knew what she was asking. “My stomach wound wasn’t as bad as Skye’s. The bullet hit my external iliac artery and I was lucky to get medical assistance quickly. My recovery wasn’t horrible or even very long but I did miscarry.”
There was dead silence. Then Grant asked, “Was what happened to you the reason you went looking for Hydra?”
Kat shook her head. “No, I didn’t even think about Hydra at first. All I knew is that there was a group out there that wanted to hurt SHIELD and I needed to find out who they were. To make them pay. It was only after I kept searching for similar incidents that I realized it was Hydra and that they were embedded within SHIELD.”
“After what Hydra took from you, why did you help me?” Grant practically whispered.
“I helped you because you weren’t truly Hydra and you had good reasons for doing what you did. I helped you because I believe in second chances and I think that you will be essential in taking down Hydra once and for all,” Kat replied.
“Do you believe in second chances for Blake?” May asked bluntly.
Kat’s face hardened. “I don’t know,” she replied. Then her face softened a little, “I guess it will depend on what he has to say for himself.”
Phil took Kat’s hand and squeezed it. “Which is what we need to find out. Thank you for telling us. I know it was hard.” His voice turned brisk. “But now we have work to do. We need to figure out what Blake and Quinn were doing in Norway and how to stop them.”
After the meeting in the lounge broke up, Kat went directly to her bunk. She needed some time alone to process all she had learned and she was exhausted. Deep emotion is always draining. Kat sat there and tried to piece together what her life had actually been like. She knew from Piaget’s work that memory is reconstructive and now it was time to reconstruct her own. Who was Blake really and what had been his goal? What was his goal now?
After a few hours alone, Kat heard a tentative knock on her door. She got up to open the door expecting to see Phil or perhaps Trip, so she was surprised when she saw Grant standing uncertainly in the hallway.
“Can I come in?” he asked.
Kat nodded, backing up so he could enter and going to sit down on her bed, hugging her knees to her chest. Grant closed the door and sat on her bed against the wall.
“How are you?”
She smiled briefly, a mere quirk of her lips upward. “As well as can be expected, I guess.”
He nodded but said nothing. He looked sad.
She sighed. “It’s just that I feel so stupid! Looking back, there were a million signs that I should have seen. The way we met, the single-minded way he pursued me, how perfect he was, the unease my parents felt towards him and even a thousand things that weekend! He was so accommodating and I thought it was a sign of good things to come! But no, it was a harbinger of the evil things that happened. The difficulty I had in waking him, his fake struggle against the intruders, the way he alerted them to my presence. It was all planned and I had no idea. Some PsyOps agent I turned out to be,” she said bitterly.
Grant shook his head. “I don’t think it was that simple, Kat. In listening to your story, one thing really struck me: your pregnancy. That can’t have been in Hydra’s plan! Why would it be? I think what happened is that you were Blake’s mission but then he fell in love with you for real. As someone wise once told me, you can’t choose to feel.” Both Kat and Grant smirked a bit at that. “Blake may have thought he could keep his feelings separate but, in the end, he couldn’t. Just like Skye was for me, you were the one variable he couldn’t control and so you got pregnant.”
“But my pregnancy didn’t change his plans in any way.”
“I think maybe it did. It sounds like he took every opportunity to keep you safe. They locked you in a bathroom to get you out of the way. When Blake saw you in a dangerous position, he lost it. I doubt they would have hurt you had you not started shooting first. And I also doubt that the original plan was for them to shoot Blake. My guess is they had to after he saw you get shot. From what I know of Hydra, I imagine the plan called for him to be wounded but left alive so he could keep his cover with you. Then he could have kept tabs on you and gotten the rest of the information from the safes. But when it was clear that he was emotionally compromised, they couldn’t take the chance of leaving him behind, so they took him.”
Kat nodded thoughtfully. It sounded logical and had the added bonus of not making her feel as stupid, guilty or played. If Blake truly had feelings for her, then at least some of it had been real and she wasn’t as responsible for her parents’ deaths.
She looked up at him. “Thank you. This makes me feel better and I truly appreciate it.” She hesitated a moment and then continued, “But there’s something bothering you, isn’t there?”
He nodded. “I know you said earlier that I deserved a second chance because I wasn’t truly Hydra and had good reasons for doing what I did.” Grant abruptly stopped talking and looked confused.
Kat nodded but said nothing. He would get to the point when he was ready.
“I guess I’m confused. Doesn’t everyone have good reasons for doing what they do? What if John wasn’t truly Hydra either? He was just trying to save his life and he was angry with SHIELD because he thought they left him to die. And he was right, they did. SHIELD did the same thing to Fitz and me. There was no extraction plan for that mission and if the team hadn’t come to get us, we’d probably both be dead.”
“And what about Blake? What do you even know about his background? What if he had a tough childhood and joined Hydra because they became his family and he thought they had some good ideas about how to make people safe? What if he had good reasons for doing what he did? Where do you draw the line, Kat? How do you decide who is worth a second chance and who isn’t?”
Kat stared at him for a moment thinking over what he had said and examining him closely. Grant seemed on the verge of tears. Finally she said, “You make some good points. And I get it. Now that it’s personal for me, you’re worried that I’m going to change my mind about you or put you into a box. You think I’m going to be like a racist who has one black friend because that person is ‘different.’ Instead of seeing you for who you truly are, you’re afraid I’m helping you because you’re saying all the right things or because I need you to be the one good Hydra agent so I can prove I’m not biased.”
Grant looked down and said nothing.
“You still don’t understand, do you?” Grant looked up at Kat in surprise. “Grant, you are different and that is true in so many ways,” she said passionately. “For one thing, you never actively decided to be Hydra. You were forced into the life; you never went to them on your own. That’s a gigantic difference. And then there is your lack of responsibility for the big picture: you were just following orders. While that is not necessarily an excuse, the reality is that you never led people anywhere or made the big decisions. You were a sleeper agent, which meant that you had minimal contact with Hydra planning. And then there is the fact that all your kills were collateral damage. I know that Skye calling you a serial killer really messed with your head but she was wrong. Killing is part of being an operative, so it was inevitable. All of you – Coulson, May, Trip and I could throw in Steve, Natasha and Clint too – have killed people as part of the job. The difference rests in why you kill and from what I can tell, you only killed when necessary. Whenever possible, you only wounded and that makes you different. Very different. John Garrett never cared about who he hurt and you do.”
Grant still looked a bit skeptical, so Kat kept going. “But you’re right in that SHIELD has been a bit hypocritical and self-righteous. We haven’t always done right by our agents, we can be overconfident jackasses who think we know better and we haven’t given much thought as to the reasons our enemies fight us. And we haven’t been overly compassionate to those we fight, Hydra included. SHIELD hasn’t been perfect but maybe, with Phil in charge, things will change.”
Grant nodded and sighed. “What about Blake? How much compassion are you going to give him?”
Kat smiled a bit. “That, I don’t know yet but I have a feeling I’m going to find out real soon. Maybe you can help me with that.”
Grant smiled back. “Maybe I can,” he said as he started to leave.
“Can I give you a word of advice?” Kat asked.
“Don’t you always?”
“Please tell Skye why you came into my room and how you’re feeling. Otherwise training may be awkward tomorrow.”
Grant nodded and laughed a little as he left the room.