Author’s Note: This story was written as an RPG (roll playing game) between co-author’s Hope1iz and BlackFox12 (aka Cat). This is the tenth story in the ‘Redeeming Grant’ series, which is set after the season one finale. 
Disclaimer: We don't own anything from Marvel: Agents of SHIELD and we're not making any money from this fic
Summary: Skye wants to infiltrate a HYDRA system
Warning(s): Spoilers up to the season one finale; spanking mentioned, but not given; some violence.
Co-author’s Website: BlackFox12's fanfiction.net page


REDEEMING GRANT
SOMETIMES YOU HAVE TO


Skye left Coulson's office with an air of frustration. It wasn't like she didn't understand where Coulson was coming from, but Skye figured she could really use Ward's help with this. It didn't help that Coulson was so... reasonable about the whole thing, too. Skye didn't really think of herself as rebellious, but she had no problems saying when she didn't agree with something. The trouble was that Coulson always had a ready argument for anything Skye came up with.

It was tempting to just go to her room and sulk. Skye started in that direction before hesitating, remembering that Coulson's argument about Ward stemmed from how recognisable the agent was... and the fact that he was a fugitive. But that was easily fixed. All it took was a few minutes on her laptop and... there.

All trace of Ward's presence online was gone.

Perking up a bit, Skye headed to the rec area, one of the surefire places Ward was likely to be. She headed over and leaned against the wall. "Hey, big bro." The nickname was one she'd been trying out in her head and she figured now was as good a time as any to start using it.

Ward looked up, a wide-eyed look of surprise on his face. He'd known that the chances of a romantic relationship with Skye was inadvisable; at least until he'd worked through his more glaring issues....but he hadn't expected her to dive headfirst into looking at him as an older brother. He wasn't sure how he felt about that, but he wasn't really in a position to argue the matter. Shaking his head slightly to focus, he slanted his head. "What's up, Skye?"

Skye hesitated. "I've been trying to hack into the systems that I can... to get HYDRA information, you know? There's a company I think is one of their fronts, but I can't get into their computer system from here. I need to be closer. But it's probably not a good idea for me to go on my own, so..." She let her voice trail off and waited.

Ward nodded. "That makes sense. Have you told Coulson yet? We can maybe get a team together..." He grabbed his towel from the nearby bench and began to wipe the sweat off his face and neck. Then, he tugged his t-shirt off and tossed it on the floor near the weight bench and straddled the machine, sliding back where he could lie down and begin lifting as soon as his conversation with Skye was over.

"Well... that was kind of a problem. I did speak to Coulson about it and he said no... because of the risk of something happening with you. But I fixed it," Skye added. "I hacked into all the databases... all the websites... I removed every trace of you."

Ward blinked again at the news. "You mean...I don't exist anymore? Again?" He wasn't sure how he felt about that. It would be nice to not have to worry about being pulled over by every small town cop that he might come across. At the same time, he knew she couldn't have gotten every piece of information about him out of law enforcement hands...some places still used regular paper files, after all. And the fact that she had done the 'erasing' without talking to him about it first...and the way she'd worded it made it seem like....

"If Coulson said no, I really don't think we should be doing it. If it's one thing I've learned, our illustrious director usually has more information than we do and he's got a good reason for every decision." He shrugged lightly and smiled apologetically. He hated to disappoint her, but things had been fairly calm lately and he would like to keep them that way.

Skye couldn't keep her disappointment from showing. "I thought maybe you could just talk to him." She didn't say it, but sometimes she thought that maybe Coulson was a bit too protective of them. Of course, it was his job to be able to see every eventuality... but feeling like she couldn't do much to help just made Skye feel more and more frustrated.

Ward looked at her, fully sympathetic to her cause. He'd frequently felt like he was useless, stuck on the Bus all the time except on the rare occasion when they had an op that didn't put him in danger of being seen by the wrong people. Sighing softly, he got up off the weight machine bench and grabbed his towel and t-shirt. "Ok. Let's go talk to him again now. You can let him know that you've made me a ghost again- for the most part- and I'll let him know that I think finding out about this company would be useful."

He smiled at her, flexed slightly and waited for her to precede him out the door. Normally, he'd take a shower first; but she seemed anxious and he figured the sooner they asked, the sooner she could get her answer.

Skye nodded, smiling in relief... though she knew better than to get her hopes up. If Coulson really thought this was a bad idea, he'd veto it once more and there was no way Ward would go against their leader. Still, it was nice to have some support. "Thanks." She headed quickly out of the rec room, back to Coulson's office.

Ward followed behind her; not hurrying quite as fast, but not moving slowly enough to irritate her. When he reached Coulson's door, she was already knocking on it. Draping his sweat dampened towel around her neck, he rolled his sweaty t-shirt up tightly, then realized he didn't have anywhere to put it. He wrinkled his nose, then shrugged, unrolled it and draped it over his shoulder and began to fidget, waiting for Coulson to answer the door.

Coulson opened the door and gave a quiet sigh as he stepped back to allow the two of them to enter. "I see you have back-up," he commented to Skye.

Skye was speaking almost before she walked into the office. "Ward agrees with me about getting the information. And I removed all traces of him online, so there'll be less people who recognise him."

Ward smiled brightly at Coulson, but didn't way anything, waiting until the other man had answered Skye or asked him a question before contributing. He did place one hand on Skye's shoulder in an attempt to let her know he hadn't changed his mind.

Coulson smiled at Skye, but as he spoke, the woman's shoulders slumped in disappointment. "I know it's important for you to feel useful... both of you," he added, including Ward in his comment, "but even removing Ward's online presence isn't complete protection. You shouldn't have done it without checking with him first, either."

"I was... trying to help..." Skye mumbled.

"So...even though I no longer technically exist, the answer is still no?" Ward felt it better to confirm what they'd come to find out, rather than focus on the fact Skye had done something that heavily affected him without speaking to him first...mainly because he wasn't sure how he felt about it and she had only been trying to help.

"I'm afraid so," Coulson replied. "I know you wanted to help, Skye, and there will be things you can do..."

"I'll be in my room," Skye said, a bit stiffly, before slipping past Ward and leaving the office.

"Skye...." Ward started to stop her, but then let her go. She likely wouldn't be all that happy with him, either, given that he hadn't argued for her plan.

"It could be useful information," he finally said hesitantly.

"I'm not saying it couldn't be," Coulson replied. "But the risk is too great. If you were recognised, you could be imprisoned again." Or worse. No matter how much Coulson didn't want to think about it, he had to admit, even to himself, that it was possible.

Ward nodded. "Ok. Just..." Ward bit his lip and tried not to look as depressed as he felt. "Do you think there will ever be a time when I don't have to hide?" He crossed his arms over his chest, suddenly realizing how chilly it was in Coulson's office- and Skye had taken his towel with her.

"I'm hoping you won't have to keep hiding," Coulson said. "I'm working on it. I know things are hard right now." As he spoke, Coulson found a spare shirt that he passed to his son. "Use this to stay warm."

Ward didn't question anymore....if his father said he was working on it, then he was. End of story; and fretting about it wouldn't help.

Instead, Ward obeyed without question, taking the shirt and pulling it on...then looked down at himself and blushed. "Um...dad? How did you get one of Melinda's shirts?" he asked suspiciously, but left the obvious ‘and why did you just give it to me to wear?’ unasked.

"I've ended up with a lot of things in here since forming the team," Coulson replied. "You'd be surprised. It's only for you to wear until you can have a shower and change." He placed a hand on Ward's shoulder, squeezing gently.

"Uh, huh..." Grant couldn't help the skeptical tone in his voice, but he didn't ask any more questions and just tugged down on the hem of the shirt a little, hoping that May didn't catch him in it before he could make it to the showers.

"Well, thanks...I suspect Skye is going to be a bit irritated at me for a while. I think she was hoping I'd talk you into her idea. I'll just go take a shower now and maybe I can calm her down a little later..." He sighed.

Coulson nodded. "I'll try talking to her again later. I'm really not just saying no for the sake of it. I know it's frustrating for both of you." He squeezed his son's shoulder once more before gently releasing him.

"I know, dad," Grant said softly, smiling at the older man. "If it's one thing I've learned since you rescued me and brought me home...you don't tell me no just because you can. I'll listen to you." Reaching his own hand up and grasping the hand that was on his shoulder, he squeezed gently, then let go and turned to leave and clean up.

Coulson nodded. "I'll see you later."

# # #

It hadn't taken Ward long to shower and change and after dropping May's slightly stretched shirt into the laundry, he wandered into the Bus' lounge, curling up on the sofa and reading. He wanted to give Skye just a little longer to calm down...then he'd ask her if she wanted to play Battle Ship.

Skye had been working on her laptop, trying at least to hack into one of the other systems... but that other one was still at the back of her mind and it was making it more and more difficult to concentrate.

With a huff of frustration, Skye closed her laptop and headed out of her room. If Ward wasn't going with her, she'd just have to go on her own.

Jemma was just heading to her own room when she saw Skye leaving hers. She noted the frustrated look on the other woman's face...but there was something else there that caught her attention. She didn't know what, but it made her suspicious. "Good evening, Skye. Where are you going?" She smiled curiously.

Skye hesitated. "For a walk?" she tried. "I thought I'd see if I can get a better signal... elsewhere." It wasn't really a lie. She just wasn't saying where she was going for the walk to.

Jemma wrinkled her nose suspiciously. "A walk, where? Where else in this area could there be a better signal?" She knew Skye was up to something and if her friend didn't tell her what it was then she'd just have to nose around till she figured it out. Maybe ask Ward or Coulson.

Skye sighed. "I was going to a company's headquarters and try to hack into their system from there. What I've learned from looking around indicates it might be a HYDRA front. I'm not really supposed to be going, though," she admitted in a much quieter voice.

Jemma's eyes widened comically. "Did Coulson tell you not to go? Because if he did, maybe you really shouldn't go....especially not alone! What if someone catches you? You need someone to watch your back and call for help if needed!" she whispered in a low and urgent tone.

"I know Coulson's worried... but I wasn't planning on doing anything dangerous. If I don't even have to enter the building, I won't." Skye hesitated, eyeing Jemma speculatively. "But if you want to come..."

Jemma bit her lip, uncertainly. While normally, she'd argue against disobeying Coulson and doing something unnecessarily risky...she knew how bored and useless Skye had felt the last few weeks. She'd felt that way herself. After all, they hadn't been able to go on any undercover Ops like Fitz, May, or Ward. Even Trip had gotten a little action, having joined Steve Rogers in rounding up Hydra agents...something that had been deemed too dangerous for Skye and herself to assist with.

So...while normally she would have argued with Skye and attempted to get her to not go...possibly even telling Coulson...this time, she found herself nodding her head. "Ok. Yes. I'll go and watch your back.... Are we going now?"

Skye nodded. "I figured now's as good a time as any." She smiled at Jemma. "Thanks. I could use the help."

Jemma nodded emphatically then glanced around nervously. "So....are we sneaking out?"

"Yeah. We'll have to act casual... though I don't think anyone's watching," Skye added. She figured Coulson and Ward probably thought she was still sulking in her room. Coulson had tried to talk to her earlier, but Skye had just given him vague responses and he'd eventually said he'd speak to her later.

"Oh! Of course!" Jenna agreed and started following Skye out. Jenna had improved greatly in her ability to act...as long as she didn't try to act. Which meant, unfortunately, that her attempt to be casual would have drawn more than one eye to them if anyone had been watching.

# # #

Getting into the network had seemed easy at first, but as Skye became more and more tangled up in firewalls, she realised that false trails had been laid.

She and Jemma were in a deserted room of the building, but Skye could swear she could hear footsteps approaching. Fingers flying over the keys, she looked a bit hesitantly at the other woman. "We might need to call for backup."

Jemma's eyes widened and she started to wring her hands. "Ok...ok...ok....Fitz! I'll call Fitz!" she blurted, pulling out her cell phone.

Knowing she wasn't going to get anywhere, Skye quickly put her laptop away and stood up. There wasn't much she could do physically, but she was very good at lying her way out of bad situations. She shifted in front of Jemma, already figuring out a good story in her mind.

"Please pick up, Fitz! Please pick up..." Jemma whispered as she listened to the phone 'ring'. She kept a wary eye on the door and let her hand trail to her handbag, where she had hidden a night-night gun.

# # #

Fitz had grown somewhat distracted with his work, so it took him several moments to realise his phone was ringing. He reached out and picked it up, answering the call rather absently. "Fitz here."

"Oh Fitz...Fitz...Fitz... Ooooooh!" Jemma whisper squealed into the phone. "We need help...back up. We need back up. Oh dear! I'm not even sure where we are...." she muttered. "Skye...how will he find us?" she could be heard whispering a few inches from the phone.

Fitz's attention immediately snapped to the here and now. Abandoning his project, he quickly left the lab, heading automatically in search of Ward (the only one he knew for certain was still on the Bus) as he spoke. "What building are you in?" He hesitated as a thought occurred to him. "Were you kidnapped?"

"Noooo..." Jemma's voice took on a decidedly guilty tone as she answered his last question first. "We're...Skye says she showed Ward what building earlier...it's sort of in the middle of a bunch of other buildings that look like storage..." Jemma bit her lip, hoping that they could make sense of her words.

Fitz was confused about what Jemma was talking about, but hoped that Ward would figure it out. Tracking down the agent to the lounge area, he quickly approached him. "Jemma and Skye are in trouble."

Ward looked up from the book he was reading and blinked. "How could they have possibly got into trouble? Coulson, May and Trip left on that emergency meeting an hour ago and haven't got back yet...."

"Jemma says they're in a building Skye showed you earlier. They need backup." Fitz held the phone out to Ward, looking worried.

"Oh for the love of all that's holy..." Ward muttered under his breath, quickly grabbing the phone at the same time he jumped to his feet. "Coulson said not to go...he specifically said NO...what the hell do you two think you're doing going anyway? And by yourselves?!" Ward sounded ticked off, but under the irritation, it was clear that he was extremely worried. Of course, the fact that he had grabbed Fitz and dragged him down the hall to where the weapons and armor were stored and had begun throwing flack-vests and other protective gear at the younger man, before pulling on his own protection, would have given that away as well.

Jemma winced at Ward's tone. "Skye knew she could get information and we wanted to help and I didn't want her going alone and...and I was bored! We never get to go anywhere and it seemed simple and..." Her voice trailed off as she looked at the door in worry. She stopped giving excuses. "...and please hurry..."


# # #

Skye had managed to bluff their way out of the room by claiming that she and Jemma were new workers who had been staying late and somehow got locked in. By going on the defensive immediately, she had Jemma out of the door and halfway down the corridor before the men who actually worked there got a word in edgeways.

Keeping her steps slow, rather than running, Skye winced as she heard a barked order for them to stop where they were. So close...

Jemma had gone along with Skye, not saying anything for fear of giving them away. She was just about to let out a relieved sigh when they had been ordered to stop. She still had her hand on the Night Night gun. Almost without thinking, she turned around and shot...somehow hitting her target. As she looked at the men on the ground, she felt a bit woozy when she realized they had real guns and she could have been killed if she'd missed.

Skye glanced back and then grasped Jemma's arm. "Come on... we have to go." She began running, knowing there was no point in being stealthy now.

Jemma didn't think...just quickly followed. "Sorry..." she muttered as they ran. "I didn't mean to shoot, it just happened!" She supposed she could be grateful she hadn't killed them. HYDRA cover or not, it was possible the two men were just security guards doing their job and unaware of who they really were working for.

"I know," Skye replied. "But they were going to stop us. You did good." She kept hold of the other woman as she ran, not wanting to risk leaving Jemma behind.

Jemma kept an eye out for other guards, as well as possible exits, even as she let Skye drag her through the building. When she saw the janitor's closet, she stopped suddenly, the abruptness causing Skye to bounce back into her. Giving the other woman an apologetic smile, she nodded toward the door of the closet. "Maybe we can find something in there to make a distraction so we can get out..." she whispered.

Skye nodded, giving a quick glance round before quietly opening the door. "Can you see anything in there?"

Jemma's worried look turned into a huge grin as she noticed several items that could be used. "Just the typical cleaning supplies...which we can use to cause a small, contained fire and smoke screen." She looked at Skye. "I don't think those guards had time to radio anyone else, so it should draw most of security to this area to check it out...in the meantime, we'll be one floor below, waiting for the floors to clear so we can get out of here..."

"That sounds good," Skye replied. "How long do you think it would take?"

"Not long at all..." Jemma muttered, already gathering the different chemicals she'd need to mix and a couple of the mop buckets. Putting several bottles into one of the large rolling tubs used to mop floors, she pushed it toward Skye. "Take this into the room next door and dump all of these bottles into this tub. It will smoke like there is fire...the smoke will burn and make your eyes hurt, so be sure to cover your face before putting in the last bottle and then get out of the room quickly. I'm going to take this set into the room across the hall and do the same thing. Then, we'll use these matches and this magazine to set off this fire alarm and then we'll have to run like hell for the empty room closest to the stairwell so that we can get out once all the security is putting out the fire and checking out the smoking rooms..." Her explanation was shot out in a rapid fire pace, but she assumed Skye understood.

# # #

Ward had never moved so fast in his life, having outfitted Fitz and himself in less than five minutes and then dragging Fitz to Lola (he was pretty sure Coulson would forgive him borrowing her...mostly sure...) and immediately heading to where he knew the girls had gone.

Fitz willingly went along with Ward. He wasn't sure what help he could be, but he wasn't prepared to leave Skye and Jemma alone and he trusted Ward to know what he was doing.

When they got there, Ward had every intention of just incapacitating the guards. He'd killed enough innocent people and didn't want to add anymore red to his ledger if he could avoid it. Still... "Fitz, I'll do everything possible not to irrevocably harm anyone, but if it's a choice between you and the girls or a stranger whose affiliation I don't know..." He left the rest unsaid as he silently opened the door to the building Skye had told him of and slipped inside.

Fitz nodded quickly as he followed Ward, trying to be as quiet as possible. "I know..." was all he said.

It hadn't taken Ward and Fitz long to reach the room where he knew Skye had planned to go. Seeing the door to the room open, the girls nowhere to be seen... and unconscious guards on the floor was not what he'd wanted to see. It complicated things greatly...and they were already complicated enough. Now Fitz and he would need to search the entire building to find Jemma and Skye...on top of avoiding other guards.

Sighing silently, he grabbed one of the guards and began to drag him into the now empty room, motioning for Fitz to do the same with the other guard. He then took the radio off of the guard. If they woke up before the two women had been found and everyone was able to make an escape, they'd not be able to call for reinforcements.

Fitz copied Ward's movements, not saying a word, though he looked around worriedly as he also took the radio, passing it over to Ward. He shifted closer to the older man so he could whisper, "If they pass a closet or something, Jemma might see if there's something there she can use to cause a distraction."

Ward nodded to show that he'd heard Fitz. "The map Skye showed me had a janitor's closet several halls over from here. We can head that way first, just in case..." he whispered back and started in that direction.

Fitz nodded, following Ward quietly as he looked around nervously.

# # #

Approaching the janitor's closet, Fitz could see Jemma and Skye disappearing into two separate rooms. Assuming that Ward had seen the girls as well, Fitz stayed quiet to let him handle it, even as he looked around to make sure there were no guards nearby.

Ward had seen. He'd quickly looked into the janitor closet, to be certain there wasn't anything else in there that might be of use...then moved to intercept the girls when they exited the rooms. Jemma was the first to re-enter the hallway and the way her eyes lit up in relief caused him to smile.

She quickly moved over to Fitz, hugging him tightly before whispering to Ward, "We're setting up a distraction...smoke will fill these two rooms and then spread to the hall...We'll set this magazine on fire under the sprinklers there to set off the fire alarm. In the chaos, we're hoping to be able to sneak out while all the security is distracted..."

Ward glanced toward the other room, where Skye had just emerged from, and said, "That's actually a good plan. I'll set the fire while you three get a head start to Lola..." His tone left no room for argument.

Fitz smiled, hugging Jemma, then shot an anxious look towards Ward. "Will you be all right?" He knew Ward was a specialist, but it really didn't feel right to just go off and leave him to provide the distraction all by himself.

Skye bit her lip, looking a bit sheepish. "Thank you for coming..." she said, her tone apologetic.

Ward smiled at Fitz then Skye, nodding. "I'll be fine. I won't be far behind you. Take the girls to Lola. If something does happen and I don't make it out within ten minutes of you, leave without me." His voice was confident. He really wasn't worried. But he made sure his tone was stern so that none of the other three would feel inclined to disregard his order.

Fitz nodded, even though he was still concerned, and glanced at Jemma and Skye, waving them to follow him.

Ward watched as they got to the stairwell, then lit the magazine on fire and held it up under the sprinklers. Within moments, the fire alarm had gone off in the building. Quickly, he ran into the janitor closet and put the burning magazine in the sink, then put more magazines in with it to keep the fire going for a little while (safely contained in the sink). He then ran out and made his own way to the stairwell. Somehow, they had succeeded. Waiting long enough for security to run up the stairwell and toward where the burning was, he made his way down, not running into anyone. The fact that he didn't run into his three team mates was a good sign as well... that meant they were still ahead of him- hopefully to Lola by now.

Although most of the security had gone in the direction of the fire, one of the guards had stayed behind to keep watch. Missing Fitz and the girls, he nevertheless spotted Ward as the agent made his escape. Raising his gun, the guard fired off a shot after the moving form.

Ward stumbled slightly at the impact of the bullet...luckily, the guard's aim was off and it was a clean shot through his arm and had missed bone and major arteries. Didn't mean it didn't hurt like hell, but he was able to catch his balance and keep running, managing to make it out the door before the guard could take aim again. He could hear the guard notifying the rest of security with the stolen radios, though, so he knew there wasn't much time to spare.

Putting on every bit of speed he could muster, he burst out of the building and ran toward Lola, yelling, "Fitz, you're driving....!" By the time he'd reached the car and thrown himself into the backseat, pulling out a gun to shoot at any pursuing vehicles, Fitz was ready to peel away from the building.

Fitz immediately began driving, probably breaking all of the speed limits as he tore away from the building. As he drove, he wondered if Coulson and the others were back... Fitz hadn't remembered to pick up a comm and he was pretty sure Ward hadn't grabbed one, either. He just hoped the rest of the team wouldn't be too worried...

Skye noticed the blood coming from Ward's arm and quickly moved to wrap up the wound. "You got shot?" It was more of a rhetorical question.

"Got seen just as I was leaving the building. I can move my arm, so I think it missed bone...and I'm still conscious, so it probably missed my artery." He kept his tone as steady as possible, not wanting the others to panic. Jemma could fix him up back at the Bus.

"We kind of left in a hurry...I don't have my comm on me....anyone feel up to calling Coulson and warning him before we get there?" He couldn't help the slightly worried tone in his voice.

# # #

May, Trip, and Coulson had just gotten back to the Bus, pulling the dark SUV into its spot in the cargo area. May frowned before turning to look at Coulson. "Where's Lola?"

Coulson frowned, about to make a response, when his cell phone began ringing. Taking it out, he checked the display before answering. "Fitz. Where are you?" He kept his voice calm, but he was still worried.

"Umm... Skye and Jemma went to check out that building you told them not to," Fitz answered. "Ward and I went to help when they were discovered. We're on our way back now. Umm... Ward got shot in the arm, but I don't think it's serious."

Coulson closed his eyes briefly, but still stayed calm as he spoke. "Are you being followed? And is anyone else hurt?"

"No, sir."

"I see. When you get here, Ward needs to go to the lab for treatment and I need to speak with Simmons and Skye." Coulson waited for Fitz's acknowledgement and then disconnected the call with a quiet sigh.

May raised an eyebrow, but didn't say anything, knowing Coulson would explain. Although it seemed that he might not have to explain, since she could hear a peel of tires coming around the corner. Within minutes, Lola was parked back in 'her' space and May was watching as two worried scientists and a worried hacker surrounded the team 'specialist' and tried to 'assist' him from the car.

Ward tried to keep his calm as all three of his younger teammates swarmed him. He knew they were worried and he didn't want to hurt their feelings...but he was finding it difficult to move, because whichever direction he tried to turn, there was a worried face or a 'helping' hand. A sudden sense of claustrophobia suddenly hit him and he barked out..."I was shot in the damned arm, not the leg! I CAN WALK ON MY OWN!"

Coulson, meanwhile, had got out of the SUV as soon as Fitz parked Lola. Before he could do or say anything, the three younger team members had surrounded Ward, who Coulson could see had a bandage haphazardly wrapped around his arm... and was clearly struggling with the three of them crowding him.

Raising his voice to be heard over the noise, Coulson gave his orders. "Jemma, Skye... I want you in the Bus and waiting for me in my office. Leo..." Coulson hesitated a split second before changing the orders he'd given the young scientist a few minutes ago. "We have some material I'd like you to take a look at in the lab."

Skye hesitantly backed away, even though she kept her focus worriedly on Ward. She gave Fitz a slightly apologetic smile as the scientist said a hurried, "Yes, sir," and walked over to the SUV to collect the materials.

Jemma stood up straight and backed away from Ward, shooting the specialist a worried and guilt-laden look. "Sir...if I can just clean up Ward's arm and bandage it more properly..."

Ward rapidly shook his head. "No...no...that's alright, Simmons. Thank you, but I've bandaged myself before and I'm sure Trip would be willing to help if I need it..." He gave the younger woman a smile in the hopes that it would take the sting out of his words.

Trip had been listening and watching everything quietly, trying to stay out of the way. As soon as Ward mentioned him helping, however, he quickly stepped forward and drew Jemma back so that she was next to Skye and then gently turned both women toward the door. "I'll help him out. He'll be fine. You should listen to Coulson." He left unspoken the words 'you're in enough trouble already', but everyone in the cargo bay could hear them as if they had been said out loud.

May just went to the SUV and began to help Fitz get the materials out. "I'll help you carry these, Fitz...then I'll check on our two 'He-men' and make sure they don't need any help. Ok?" She spoke calmly and smiled at the younger man, hoping to calm any remaining nerves he might have...and maybe get a little bit more information on what exactly had occurred, so she'd know if she should move the Bus or not.

Skye looked a bit worried, but she nodded and then gave Jemma a tentative smile. "I'll take the blame." Though she was certain Coulson would see through any excuses she tried to make, Skye didn't want her friend to get into trouble.

Coulson drew in a slight breath and waited for the two younger women to enter the Bus. Despite his outwardly calm appearance, he was struggling to keep a tight rein on his temper and he was tempted to go to the rec room, just to make sure he had a clearer head to deal with Jemma and Skye.

Fitz nodded, still looking worried, but began picking up the materials. "Ward told me to get them to Lola..." he confided to May in a quiet voice. "I didn't want to abandon him..." Although he'd followed orders, he still felt like he should have insisted on staying.

May nodded. "You did the right thing. Even if it doesn't feel like it. If you hadn't listened, he would have been too focused on you three and might have been hurt worse." Her voice was matter-of-fact and it was obvious she didn't blame Fitz in the least for what had happened.

Ward, finally not surrounded by worried and guilt-laden teammates, could now slide out of the car. He'd tried very hard to contain the blood loss, not wanting to ruin Lola's interior, but there was only so much he could do. He grimaced, looking at the mess left on the back seat. "I'm sorry, sir. I'll...I'll clean it as best I can and maybe I can find a way to replace the seat and carpeting in back..." He was so busy looking at how messed up Lola was that he was ignoring the fact that he was still bleeding, even if only a little sluggishly (Skye's bandage had managed to stem the blood flow well).

Trip gave Ward an incredulous look then looked at Coulson as if to ask, 'What the heck?' "Um...I think maybe we need to get you cleaned up before you worry 'bout cleaning up the car, man..." he finally said, his tone a mix between miffed and amused with a slight hint of worry.

"It doesn't feel like it," Fitz mumbled, carrying the supplies onto the Bus.

Coulson turned to Ward in surprise. "I don't care about the car. I care about you getting treated. You go with Trip and let him help bandage you. Don't worry about Lola. I'll deal with it." He managed to keep his voice level while speaking to Ward, even if he was struggling a bit to keep calm, and gently squeezed the shoulder of his son's unhurt arm.

Ward nodded briskly and quickly obeyed his father, even if he did shoot one last guilty look toward the car before doing so.

Trip shook his head as he followed Ward to the lab, placing a hand on the other man's back in a show of support. "Can't believe you...you know the car will be the last thing he's worried 'bout if you're hurt. You do know that, don't you?" He shook his head, even as they entered the lab and he began to gather everything together to clean, stitch and medicate the wound.

Ward grimaced at Trip. "I know. I just...feel bad about it, is all." He carefully removed his shirt so the other man could get at the wound easier then clenched his teeth as Trip began the process of fixing him up.

May followed Fitz, carrying her portion of the materials. She could see Trip and Ward at the other end of the lab, taking care of the wound. She glanced at Fitz and smiled. "You know you did what you could. Sometimes that doesn't feel like enough. Sometimes it feels like you did the wrong thing. But if everyone you went in with comes back out alive and in relatively good shape, you did good. Especially since you and Ward were on a rescue mission that you shouldn't have had to be on."

"I guess..." Fitz put his materials down and sighed. "I guess I'm not used to suddenly going on a rescue mission." But he was relieved Ward hadn't tried leaving him behind. He wasn't sure how he would have felt if that had happened.

Trip finally finished bandaging Ward up. "You'll probably want to go get some juice or something to eat to replenish what blood you lost. I'm kinda hungry myself. Want to join us for a snack, Fitz? May?" he called over to the other two, who had been watching him take care of their team member; even if they were trying to do so as inconspicuously as possible.

May shrugged, slanting her head, and glanced at Fitz. "You want something to eat? This will wait for a few more minutes, I'm sure..."

Fitz nodded. "I... guess. If you think Coulson wouldn't mind if it's not started straight away." He'd noticed how upset their leader was.

May smiled, and took Fitz by the arm. "I'm sure he'd rather make sure you've taken care of yourself first. Like I said. It isn't going anywhere and we can return to it as soon as you've eaten." She led him over to Trip and Ward and the four of them headed to the kitchen area.

# # #

Jemma went into Coulson's office, then stood in front of his desk, fidgeting. She wasn't sure if she should sit when he wasn't here. She knew she didn't want to be caught anywhere else in his office except in front of the desk. And she was worried about Ward and felt so terribly guilty and she knew she shouldn't have gone with Skye. She should have told Coulson what the other girl was planning before she left. Or told Ward. Or May. Or Trip. Heck...even telling Fitz would have been a good idea, if it would have given her one more person on her side to talk the hacker out of her plan. Instead, she'd let her own boredom dictate her actions and she'd gone with Skye, despite knowing Coulson had forbidden it. The man had to be furious.

Skye stood quietly next to Jemma, slightly in front of the other woman in a way that was almost protective. Admittedly, Jemma hadn't had to come with her... but Skye shouldn't have even asked. Or probably gone on her own, no matter how frustrated she felt.

It was a short while later when Coulson finally came into the office. Skye was reasonably sure he'd gone to visit the rec room, even if she hadn't really witnessed much of the director fighting. Skye swallowed as Coulson looked at her and Jemma, looking down at the floor as Coulson stepped round to sit behind his desk.

Skye couldn't take the silence and quickly blurted, "It was... my fault. I asked Jemma to come along. She shouldn't be in trouble."

Jemma's eyes widened and she stepped forward so that Skye was less in front of her and more beside her. "No...it was my decision to go. I didn't have to...and when I found out what you'd planned, I could have told someone else and stopped you...but I didn't. I'm just as guilty as you are..." Her voice trailed off and she looked at Coulson, eyes widening even further and biting her lip. Coulson was normally so cool and calm and collected. Even when he was upset, it was seldom that anyone could tell that he was upset. He was doing a good effort of hiding it now, except she could see in his eyes how upset he really was and her stomach sank at the thought that it was her actions that had caused him to feel this way.

Coulson held up a hand to forestall any more comments from either of them. "At this stage, it doesn't matter whose idea it was. You both knew you weren't supposed to go there... you especially, Skye. I told you not to go there and by doing so, you might well have alerted HYDRA to the fact we were onto them. Not to mention Ward had to come after you and got hurt."

"That... wasn't supposed to happen," Skye said quietly.

"You might not have intended it, but it still happened," Coulson stated.

Jemma swallowed hard, guilt at having not only disobeyed a direct order from her superior (and, dare she say, 'family member') and the fact that Ward had been hurt in trying to rescue them from their folly, making her unable to offer any excuse or try and defend herself. To her chagrin, she found tears falling down her cheeks. Quickly, she brushed the back of her hand over her face then looked at the ground. "You're right, sir. We knew...I knew...and...I'm sorry. I know it doesn't help or change anything, but I am...." She straightened her shoulders then forced herself to look Coulson in the eye, prepared to accept whatever he decided should be done. She only hoped that he didn't decide she should be sent to a lab somewhere off the Bus. As bored as she'd been the last few weeks, she didn't want to leave this team.

Coulson looked at them both, considering what the best form of action to take was. He couldn't punish them in the same way he punished Ward. Neither of the girls were of the mindset where a punishment like that would have any effect. Despite how they acted, they were both fairly adult. At the same time, he was unprepared to use any kind of 'official' punishment... because to him, both of them were part of his family.

"Until Ward recovers, I expect you both to take turns doing any of his chores," Coulson said. "Neither of you are to leave the Bus without my authorisation and I expect you both to apologise to Ward and Fitz for what happened." That last one was probably unnecessary, but even so...

Skye didn't look too happy about that, but she did nod, knowing that she couldn't really argue with it.

Jemma visibly sagged in relief. "Yes, sir. Of course. I will apologize first thing...and Ward won't have to lift a finger while he's getting better. I promise. And I won't even ask to leave the Bus...you'll have to order me off before I leave..." She began rambling she was so relieved that she wasn't going to be reassigned to another base or team. Disobeying a superior officer- even one that you viewed as a father-figure and hoped would not send you off- was a serious offense. "And...I am sorry. My actions were disrespectful to you. I know I should not have done it and if there is some way I can prove to you that...that I do respect you...." Her voice trailed off and she swallowed hard again.

"Jemma." Now that the scolding was over, Coulson gave both women a gentle smile. "I know you're sorry. And I know it won't happen again."

"Should I replace the information on Ward?" Skye asked, feeling a bit guilty for getting rid of everything without even a word to him.

"I think you should talk to Ward and see how he feels before making any more decisions that involve him," Coulson replied.

Skye nodded. "I will..." She hung her head.

Jemma smiled weakly. "I really am sorry, sir..." she said sadly. "I feel just the same as if I'd let down Mum and Dad...in fact, I know they'd be disappointed in me if they ever learned of what I did. You...you're family and I..." She blushed, wondering if she said too much. She knew she and Coulson wouldn't have the same relationship as Coulson and Ward. Her family was not only alive, but actually cared about her and treated her well, so she didn't need a new father...but she cared about Coulson as if he were a father- or a favorite uncle. The favorite uncle. "Anyway...if...if we are dismissed, I will go apologize to Leo and Grant and find out what Grant needs me to do for him first..." she whispered.

"I know," Coulson said, with another gentle smile. "We don't need to talk about it any longer," he added, including Skye in that statement.

Skye raised her head up and returned Coulson's smile. "Okay... thank you."

"Yes, thank you, sir." Jemma smiled back, backing toward the door before turning and going to hunt down Leo and Grant.

# # #

When Trip had mentioned a snack, Ward had had no idea that the other man would cook, or that he would cook a full meal. But somehow, the other man had managed to pull together ingredients for a full size southern meal 'like grandma used to make' and was now in the process of frying chicken, mashing potatoes and cooking up collard greens; Trip said he was getting an extra helping of those on his plate because 'green' food was good for blood. Shaking his head, Ward had just stepped in and helped out wherever he could.

May had shrugged as if unsurprised by all the food (maybe Trip had spoken with her about it on one of their trips out and she'd helped him get the stuff together?) and began gathering the drinks together. "Not for you...you're on antibiotics..." she'd said as she'd taken the bottle of beer out of his hand before he could open it. He couldn't help but pout when she put a pouch of fruit punch in his hand to replace it.

# # #

As Skye left Coulson's office, she headed towards the lab, wanting to check on Ward... and also apologise to him and Fitz. As she headed in that direction, though, an idea occurred to her; one that she wanted to implement... but she couldn't change anything without talking to Ward about it first. And she wasn't even sure if it was an idea he'd go for, though she couldn't imagine he'd dislike it.

Jemma had been going toward the lab as well, when Skye veered off to take care of something. She frowned slightly in disappointment; she'd hoped to have the other girl with her when she voiced her apology as a sort of moral support. She supposed it would be better to do it on her own, though. When she found the lab empty, she wrinkled her nose and tried to decide where everyone could have possibly gone....that's when she decided to follow her nose.

Retrieving her laptop from her room, Skye headed in the direction she could smell food was coming from, figuring it was more than likely that Ward and Fitz would be there. Maybe, after she'd apologised, she could ask Ward if they could talk privately... and hopefully grab something to eat, too.

Somehow, Jemma ended up in the kitchen at the same time as Skye. Looking at the plethora of food that was being cooked or that was already on the table reminded her that she'd skipped lunch. Her stomach growled loudly, causing her to blush. The only one not in the kitchen now was Coulson. She wanted to apologize as soon as possible, but wasn't sure how to interrupt the proceedings to do so. She gave Skye an almost helpless, questioning look, then bit her lip and looked at Ward and Fitz.

Trip glanced up at the two new arrivals and didn't miss a best. "You two can set the table."

Skye nodded, setting her laptop down and beginning to help set the table. "I'm sorry I disobeyed orders and you both had to come after us," she said to Ward and Fitz. "And that you got hurt," she added to Ward.

Fitz shrugged. "I'm just glad things didn't go worse..."

Jemma nodded as she helped Skye. "I'm sorry as well. I hate that you were hurt because of our actions..." Her voice trailed off with a sad note.

Ward nodded toward both women. "I understand that you were frustrated. I'm just glad I was able to come after you and that Fitz was here to help me do so. If something had happened to either of you...."

He sighed, understanding a little bit how Coulson must feel when he disobeyed orders and could have been killed. It wasn't a pleasant feeling, having your family in harm's way due to a situation they should never have been in to begin with.

May didn't comment, only leaving the kitchen long enough to go bring Coulson to the food.

Trip finished up the last touches on the meal - fried okra and buttermilk biscuits (pre-packaged, unfortunately, but they would do in a pinch. No one made buttermilk biscuits like his grandma, anyway.)

Skye finished setting the table and then automatically began filling a plate of food for Ward, setting it down in front of him before filling her own plate. She sat down, glancing up as Coulson was brought in by May. At least the older man now seemed a lot calmer. Not that he hadn't been calm before... but he clearly wasn't upset now.

Fitz sat down with his own plate of food, watching Ward carefully... just in case he was struggling with his food.

Jemma, still feeling guilty at the fact Ward had got hurt and taking Coulson's 'punishment' of doing all Ward's chores to heart, began cutting his food for him, buttering his biscuits and in general acting like the mother of a four-year-old in trying to help him. Ward was too nonplussed at the actions to do more than just stare at her with wide eyes, before looking at the rest of the team to see if they were noticing her behavior.

May and Trip smirked, but sat with their own plates and decidedly didn't come to his rescue.

Coulson gave a slight smile at the sight, but didn't actually say anything, deciding to let Ward mention it if it bothered him. He still kept an eye on his son, though, ready to step in if he was uncomfortable or needed help.

"Ward... can I talk to you privately after we've eaten?" Skye asked, eating absently as her mind worked.

Ward blinked, distracted from Jemma's mother-henning by Skye's question. "Uh, yeah. Ok. Sure..." His voice trailed off as Jemma finished getting his food ready, even going so far as to tuck a napkin into the neck of his shirt. Watching her warily, he finally said, "Thanks, Simmons..." with an uncertain tone. He gave a half-hearted glare at the rest of the table, positive that they were laughing on the inside. He would have been if it was happening to anyone other than himself.

Skye ducked her head to hide the smile that threatened to break out, although Jemma's actions had appeared rather sweet.

Coulson leaned over to gently pat Ward's unhurt arm. "Eat, son," he directed softly.

"Yes, sir," Ward automatically answered and took a bite of the food. "This is really good, Trip," he remarked and began to eat more quickly.

The others quickly agreed and soon, the room was filled with sounds of eating.

When they'd all finished eating, Skye helped Fitz to clean up, before waiting for Ward to be ready to talk.

Ward had eaten more than he'd planned to, but between the good food and the blood loss, he'd discovered he was very hungry. Finally, however, he was ready to talk. Motioning to Skye, he headed toward the lounge, where he had left his book. "What did you need to ask?" He smiled at her.

Having picked up her laptop to carry as she followed Ward, Skye sat down with her laptop on her lap. "I asked Coulson if I should put your details back online and he said I should talk to you before I do anything else... but while I was thinking about it, I had an idea that might mean you don't have to keep hiding away here."

Ward raised an eyebrow in question. "What's your idea? I don't know that putting everything back the way it was will make a difference one way or another, but if you have an idea that might make it possible for me to join you all in public without worry...I'm interested in hearing it." He smiled at the fact that she was trying so hard to help him.

"Well..." Skye paused a moment to gather her thoughts. "I could... change your records. Like name Coulson as your father. In which case, I could make relevant paperwork, online and in actual paper format, that you're kind of on a probationary period... you have to be within a certain distance of Coulson." Plus, it would make the relationship between the two men more official. Skye looked at Ward hopefully, wanting to help.

Ward blinked. "You can do that?" he finally asked in surprise. "I mean...I know you can erase records and set up new 'records', like financial history, school history and stuff...but...I mean....

"I don't know about having Coulson named as my father..." He hesitated and glanced at her, knowing he should explain. "In my heart and head, he is my father... but if it becomes official, I'd kinda like it to be because he actually wanted it official and did it the legal way...if that makes any sense..." he said softly.

"But the other part...if you can make me 'officially' on ‘probation' and make him my guardian or custodian; and give me a radius where I need to be around him so that I can leave the bus without having to worry about being dragged off in chains...." He couldn't help but smile at the idea. He grinned at Skye, but then bit his lip. "I want you to tell Coulson your idea first, though...and get his okay on it. I don't want to be an albatross around his neck and since you'd be putting me in his custody...."

Skye nodded. "I can do that... creating a radius, I mean. But maybe it would be better if you talk to him about the idea? Cause you know Coulson... he's going to want to make sure you're okay with it, so it would be better coming from you. If you think it's a good idea," she added. "I can't see Coulson not being prepared to officially become your guardian... I think it's an idea he'd jump at, to be honest, especially since we all know you might as well be his son. You are in every way that counts."

Ward gave Skye a soft grin, then leaned over and hugged her tightly. "Thank you...I know things can't have been easy for you the last several months...the fact that you are willing to do this for me, despite everything that happened..." He leaned back and straightened his shoulders. "Let's go talk to Coulson, then...I'll let you do the explaining, in case he has questions regarding what exactly you will be doing, but I'll stand next to you so that he knows I like the idea. Is that ok?"

Skye nodded, hugging Ward tightly in return. "I can't say I wasn't angry at first, but I know you're different. And, well, Coulson always believed in you, which helped... and this time, you might want to say you like the idea," she added, teasing him a little.

Ward grinned sheepishly. "Yeah. I will. You have to admit he was right, though..." He laughed softly, knowing that if he'd been in her place, he most likely would have -and had in the past- done the same thing.

# # #

Considering her feelings the last two times she'd left Coulson's office, Skye now left feeling much happier and a lot less like there was nothing she could do to help. Coulson had liked the idea, praising her for it with that fond tone that showed exactly why Skye considered him so much a father-figure... though probably not in the same way Ward did. She hadn't actually mentioned making Coulson officially Ward's father, though she thought the older man had probably had a similar thought about it.

Coulson watched Skye leave the office, having suggested that they spend some time together later in the evening, not wanting the young woman to feel neglected. (Somehow, cards had become a bonding experience). Turning his attention back to Grant, Coulson smiled affectionately at his son. "How is your arm?"

Ward glanced at the arm in question then fidgeted uncomfortably. "It aches, but that's to be expected. I... I'm sorry I disobeyed you, sir. I know you specifically said not to go...I just was afraid there wasn't enough time for you and May and Trip to get back in time to save them and..." He swallowed and forced himself to look Coulson in the eye, before going to stand next to his knee, fully expecting that he'd earned himself a spanking.

Coulson was surprised by Ward's actions, though maybe he shouldn't have been. He had told Ward to stay on the Bus... but although that had been an order, disobeying said order had been for good reasons. Coulson stood up, figuring that would prove he had no intention of spanking Ward, and wrapped an arm carefully around his son. "I'm not going to punish you, son."

"But...I disobeyed you." Ward's voice was full of confusion, though he didn't pull away, instead moving closer to Coulson and wrapping his own arms around the man and giving him a tentative hug; mostly because of his sore arm and not because he didn't think Phil would want a hug from him. "I thought..." He shrugged faintly, uncertain what to think.

Coulson held Ward close, rubbing his back gently. "Do you remember what I told you? I don't expect blind obedience from you. In this situation, acting on your own was the right thing to do. You saved Jemma and Skye and got them and Fitz out. That's the kind of decision it's all right to make on your own. When you disobey and do it for the right reasons, you won't be in trouble."

"So...I did the right thing? You aren't upset with me?" Ward felt foolish having to ask, but it was very important to him that Coulson not be upset...and the best way to be sure was ask. He knew the man wouldn't lie to him.

Coulson shook his head. "I'm not upset. You did the right thing and I'm proud of you, son."

Ward relaxed at hearing his father's words and snuggled closer, before teasing slightly, "May said I couldn't have a beer because I was on antibiotics...since I can't use that to relax, maybe I'll see if Trip wants to spar a little bit with me...."

Coulson held Ward close for a few moments, thinking through what he wanted to say to that. He could easily veto the sparring idea, but Ward might not understand his reasoning behind that. He could handle it another way, though... "Instead of sparring with Trip, why don't you spar with me?" he suggested.

Ward blinked at the offer then couldn't stop the huge smile from forming on his face. He'd never had the chance to watch Phil fight, usually being too busy fighting his own battles, and while he knew Coulson sparred with May, he'd never got to watch that either. Being able to spar against his father and possibly learn from him was too god a chance to pass up. "I'd like that..." he answered belatedly.

Coulson smiled, gently squeezing the nape of Ward's neck. "Now?" he asked gently.

Ward nodded rapidly. "Yes! Please...." Ward glanced at the clothing both if them were wearing and grinned again. "Meet you in the rec room in ten minutes?" They'd both need to change.

Coulson nodded, squeezing Ward one last time before gently releasing him. "I'll see you there."

Ward hugged back tightly then quickly left to get workout gear on. He was in the rec room within the ten minutes he'd mentioned and started warming up; perhaps a bit more vigorously than he should have.

Coulson got changed fairly quickly and headed to the rec room, opening the door and stepping inside. He raised his eyebrows at seeing the vigorous way Ward was warming up, but figured his demonstration would take care of that. He knew Ward wanted to do this and although he had no intention of letting things go far right now, he'd already decided to suggest that they have proper sparring sessions later, when Ward had healed.

Ward straightened up and smiled at Coulson. "What rules are we fighting under? Anything goes?" He obviously wanted that option. He wanted to prove himself to the older man.

"I don't think that option would be a good idea for this session," Coulson replied gently. "But we can always operate under those rules next time."

Ward felt a tiny amount of disappointment, but was still too happy at getting this opportunity to be upset about it. "Ok. I'm feeling great, though, so you don't have to take it easy on me, you know!" If he was slightly exaggerating the way he felt, it wasn't really deliberate. He'd fought under worse conditions and in worse health; as far as he was concerned, he was good to go.

Coulson smiled, fully aware of how happy about this Ward was, and made a commitment with himself that they would definitely do this for real sometime. He dropped into a light fighting stance and waited for Ward to make the first move.

Ward smiled back, falling into his own fighting stance. Then, he made his move. He was favoring his sore arm, fully aware of the fact, and had to adjust several times not go leave himself open.

Coulson took a few moments just to spar normally with Ward, not wanting to disappoint his son too much. Even so, he knew that the moves were likely putting a strain on Ward's sore arm and that continuing would likely make it worse. Feinting, he stepped inside his son's guard.

In the past, Skye had made a few comments that suggested Grant was ticklish. Instead of striking where Ward was open, even softly, Coulson tickled.

Ward had prepared himself for a hit to the ribs. He'd known he'd left himself open to a hit there as soon as he'd done it, but it was too late to compensate. Coulson had already moved in for the blow. Except there wasn't a blow. It took a few seconds for Ward to realize exactly what was happening, but as soon as he did, he doubled over in an attempt to protect himself and gasped out, "No fair! I...I..."

He couldn't say anymore. To his embarrassment, he was helpless with giggles.

Coulson smiled. Not to make fun of him or tease him, but because just seeing his son like this was a nice feeling. Coulson shifted closer to Ward, speaking softly in his son's ear. "I'm not sure sparring is a good idea when you can't defend yourself against being tickled." His voice was warm and gentle, tone filled with affection for his son.

Ward couldn't help but agree...and found himself thankful that his father had realized that and arranged things so that he would be able to figure it out without causing himself any further injury. He doubted Trip or May would have thought 'tickling him into submission' was a possibility. He let out one more giggle snort, blushing darkly at the sounds he couldn't help making, and gasped out, "You're right! I give up! Pl...please stop!" He leaned into his father, the laughing making him unbalanced.

Coulson stopped and wrapped his arms around Ward, pulling him in close for an embrace. "When your arm's healed, we can have a proper sparring session," he suggested.

Ward nodded and held onto his father, his laughter and giggles finally stopping enough for him to speak. "Ok, dad. I'll just wait for you to tell me when...since you seem to be more aware of what I need than I am most the time." He snorted and gave a chagrined smile, but he wasn't terribly put out by the fact. It felt nice having someone that cared about him so much and knew him so well and who was willing to take care of him. "And even though I'm sure Skye's working on the documents and such that will enable me to finally leave the bus without having to be worried about being caught, I'll wait for you to say that's ok too. Although Trip pretty much confirmed what I thought: that it was a clean shot and a few weeks of healing for the muscle and I should be good to go...."

“That’s probably a good idea,” Coulson agreed, one hand gently stroking over Ward’s back. “Speaking of those documents… I wanted to talk to you about them. I know Skye’s going to put me down as your guardian, but you’re my son in every way that counts. What would you think about making that relationship official?” He looked carefully at Ward, trying to gauge his son’s reactions to that.

Ward looked down, suddenly bashful, but then looked up again. There was a slight sheen to his eyes and he blinked, trying to clear his vision, and then cleared his throat. "I...I want that, dad...I know I'm yours already, but to be legally yours...." He shrugged faintly, not sure how to explain it.

Coulson’s embrace tightened around his son. “It might make us both feel more secure in that relationship,” he said softly. “Because you are mine… but making it legal means that you are in every way possible.”

Grant smiled, hugging Phil back tightly. "I don't know how I got so lucky...and I'll never be able to thank you enough for everything that you do...but I'll do everything possible to make sure you never regret me..." he whispered against his father's ear, before giving him a quick kiss on the cheek.

Coulson responded by kissing Grant fondly on the forehead. “I won’t ever regret you,” he promised. “I haven’t for one single moment.”

Ward smiled again then reluctantly stepped away. "I supposed I should go clean up...get ready for bed. Take those antibiotics I was given..." He grimaced. Antibiotics tended to make him drowsy.

“Would you like me to sit in with you?” Coulson asked. “We could talk until you go to sleep.” And then he could spend that time with Skye.

Ward nodded shyly. "I'd like that..." he said softly. "I'll just go clean up...change...then figure out where May put those antibiotics."

“I can ask her that while you’re getting changed,” Coulson suggested. “If you settle in your bunk, I’ll meet you there.”

"Ok, sir..." Ward smiled then left the rec-room to get ready.

Fifteen minutes later, he was showered (and it had been a chore wrapping his arm in plastic to keep the bandage from getting wet) and dressed for bed and sitting in his bunk, leaning back against the wall.

Coulson retrieved the antibiotics from May and then headed to his son’s room, lightly knocking on the door and waiting for Ward’s response before he entered, sitting next to the bed and passing over the antibiotics.

Ward took the medicine from his father and quickly swallowed it down with a bottle of water, before slipping under the sheets on his bed and scooting down so he was lying flat. "G'night, dad...." he whispered. Despite the soreness of his arm, he was able to go to sleep quickly...just knowing his father was there helped him relax enough to be able to rest. He fell asleep dreaming of legally being able to tell people who his father was....

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