Author’s Note: This was written as a RPG (roll playing game) between co-authors Hope1iz and BlackFox12. Set after the season one finale. Thirty-second in the Redeeming Grant series.
Summary: Skye’s family grows even larger.
Disclaimer: We don't own anything from the series Agents of SHIELD or Avengers movies and we're not making any money from this fic
Warning(s): Spanking; spoilers for the first two seasons of Agents of SHIELD; AU
Co-Author’s Website:BlackFox12's fanfiction.net page
May had spoken with her mother right after the eventful family dinner where everyone made plans for a vacation. Her mother had been excited, she could tell, even if the woman kept her emotions under even stricter guard than Melinda did. All she had said was, "It's about time I get to meet my granddaughter", but it had been enough to let May know that her mother was looking forward to their arrival. It hadn't taken either of them long to pack and pretty soon, their bags were in the back of one of the more economical cars and she and Skye were heading out. "I think she's already in love with you," she said to her daughter, a tiny grin on her face.
Skye darted a somewhat worried look at her mother. "I don't want to do something wrong..." She wasn't sure what to expect of May's mother, knowing that her own mother kept her emotions in check... even if she had been more affectionate and Skye was mostly secure of her place in her mother's life.
"Relax, sweetie...you won't. Not in the way you mean, anyway; she'll love you as much as I do and nothing you do will change it. I'm certain of this. You'll be fine." May tried to calm Skye.
"Are you sure?" Skye winced at the lost, somewhat childlike tone she'd slipped into. "Never mind. I just... I don't want to mess anything up." She'd slowly become better when it came to believing they wanted her... but there were times old insecurities and fears resurfaced once more.
"I'm positive, sweetie. There is no way she won't love you as much as I do," May stated firmly.
"Okay." Skye relaxed, at least a little, and glanced out of the window, watching the passing scenery. "I don't know much about when you were growing up," she said suddenly, a little out of the blue.
"Growing up...I didn't have the typical family," May admitted. "My mom was gone a lot for her work. I didn't find out she was an agent for the CIA until I got my level 3 clearance for SHIELD." May's voice wasn't resentful, just thoughtful as she thought about what to share first. "I was a ‘Daddy's Girl’ through and through. My dad was a teacher, but by the time I was leaving for SHIELD academy, he'd gone back and gotten a doctorate and was actually the principal at the local elementary school. He would have adored you. He...he died of cancer the year before I graduated the academy." Her voice was sad, even though she had adjusted to the loss years ago.
"I and my mom didn't speak for a long time after that...we never knew until he was gone how much my dad was the one who held our family together. When I learned of her agent status, I understood a lot more...so made more of an effort to reconnect. Now, I like to think we are very good friends, despite being so much alike we often argue nonstop and sound like we can't stand each other. Don't let our arguing stress you out. We love each other...we just don't get along that well. It's why I waited so long to bring you; I didn't want you being upset," May admitted in what was, for her, a sheepish tone.
Since her mother was driving, Skye couldn't very easily hug her like she wanted to in response to the sad tone. Instead, she reached for May's hand, lacing her fingers between her mother's. "I'm glad you're taking me." Even though she was nervous and desperately wanted to make a good impression.
May smiled, the action lighting up her face. "Yeah. I am too," she said softly and squeezed Skye's hand back.
"We'll be there in another two hours; do you want to stop and get a drink or snack? Use the restroom? Once we leave the highway, the towns are a bit further apart. It's one of the reasons we chose this spot as a mutual safe house..." May said, giving Skye s curious look.
Skye nodded, not letting go of her mother's hand. "That would be good," she agreed. "I'm getting a little thirsty... might be good to get a couple of bottles of water anyway." She wasn't sure how long they were going to be driving for, but didn't want to risk getting dehydrated... since it was quite a warm day.
May nodded in agreement. "I was thinking of picking up a few supplies at a little market that is about fifteen more minutes from here. I know my mom was bringing stuff with her, but you can never have too many supplies. Especially when you are in a secluded area...." She smiled again then went back to watching the road, the silence between her and Skye comfortable. It didn't take long before she was pulling into the tiny parking lot of a tiny market.
"Let's get a few cases of water, maybe one or two cases of soda; and that looks like produce from the local farm...let's get some of that for dinner tonight...." She walked quickly toward the corn on the cob, tomatoes and other vegetable and fruit items, leaving Skye to follow in her wake. She hadn't said anything, and it was barely noticeable to anyone but Skye, but she was getting nervous the closer the got to their destination. She hadn't seen her mother since she and Phil had been arguing right after HYDRA came out in the open. The situation was so much better than it had been then. Still....
Skye headed over to pick up some of the other items, watching her mother worriedly. She didn't ask if May was all right, but she pressed close to her for a moment or two before going over to pay.
May smiled at her daughter, carrying her own items to the check-out and pulling out the check card that Tony had given her. When the billionaire had first handed out the cards to all the family members, she'd been reluctant to take it; she was proud and didn't want charity. When he'd so reasonably pointed out that she was working for an organization that no longer had access to as much money as it had previously- and that on top of having more money than he could reasonably spend on just two people, he didn't consider taking care of your family while they took care of the world, charity- she'd reluctantly agreed to take the card. She had to admit it made things easier, not having to worry about where money was coming from. It also helped since the money that SHIELD had was able to be used by SHIELD for recruiting other agents and for the projects that needed carrying out.
It didn't take long to pay for the items and carry them out to the car. "Not much longer." She gave Skye a crooked smile.
Skye returned her mother's smile, placing what she was carrying into the trunk of the car. "I am looking forward to it," she said softly. "It's nice to be able to be on vacation together." She enjoyed spending time with the rest of the family... but it was good to have her mother to herself for a while.
"Yes...it is. We should have done this sooner..." May said softly. Things had been so hectic the last few months, between Gonzales and then Ultron. The stress had been palatable. They really had needed a break. A break where she and her daughter could bond without interruptions from other family members (as much as she loved her other family) was going to be just what she needed. She knew.
"I think there's been so much going on." Skye settled back into the car, after making sure everything was safely stored in the trunk. "And you were right about everyone else needing the time, too..." There was a very slight hint of concern in her voice. She'd noticed that Kara seemed reluctant to accept her place as part of the family... more so than the twins, who'd responded to Clint quickly and easily.
May noticed the concerned tone immediately, darting a glance in her daughter's direction. "Something wrong, sweetie?"
"Oh..." Skye shook her head. "Not... with me. I was just thinking about how Kara seems so hesitant around Fury. I know he can probably handle it, but it's just a bit sad to see someone struggle so much." Especially when she knew what it was like for her.
"Fury can handle it; he knows it isn't personal against him and that man has the patience of a monk...even if it doesn't seem like it sometimes. There's something going on with her that has nothing to do with the family, but until she shares what it is...." May sighed sadly. "I just hope that she shares it and gets help before she's in so deep, helping her is as painful as the problem she's hiding...."
Skye nodded. "I know it was difficult for me to believe... and I don't think I've got nearly as many hang-ups as she does. Did you know her? Before?" she asked, curious and wanting to know more about her mother's life before she entered the picture.
"I ran into her once or twice; remember, I was in records for many years before Coulson brought me onto the bus with you all. She was a specialist, like Bobbi and Grant. I do remember that she was known to be extremely loyal to SHIELD, even up to a month after HYDRA made themselves known. And then she disappeared. She says she doesn't remember anything from before Wanda broke the brainwashing on her...except for the few bits and pieces she's relayed to us." May's voice was thoughtful as she tried to answer her daughter. "To be honest, I'm not entirely sure she's being truthful about that...and if I'm right and she's remembering more than she's let on...well, what she related wasn't pleasant in the least. It could explain her attempts to remain aloof."
May frowned, thinking she might should recommend Coulson, Fury, or Rogers call in her ex-husband. Andrew was loyal to SHIELD; knew what it meant to be told things by specialists that might traumatize a regular therapist. It was a fleeting thought. She looked at Skye again and smiled. "I was in records for a very long time before the bus. I don't have all that many interesting stories to tell about there."
Even if Skye didn't know all of the details about why her mother had moved to records, she was aware that it was a sore subject... so she steered clear of asking for further details about the move, no matter how curious she was. "What made you join SHIELD? I don't think you ever said..."
"I wanted to help people...and it turns out I was more like my mother than I wanted to admit at the time," May teased. The truth was, there wasn't really any defining moment where she knew she wanted to join SHIELD...but at some point, her abilities had become known to the organization and someone had come knocking, offering her a chance to join the academy and become a part of something bigger. "I don't think it was so much a case of something making me want to join SHIELD, but more a case of they were offering something that no one else was offering- and I liked their offer."
"It must have been hard when it turned out HYDRA had been growing inside SHIELD." Skye had been affected by it, after all... then again, that was likely due to someone they trusted turning on them.
May nodded. "It was..." she admitted quietly. "Beyond the betrayal we all felt when we discovered Grant had been HYDRA, I had known Garret as long as I'd known Phil. He was a very personable and charismatic man. It's easy to call him a monster knowing what he did to Grant and how he worked against SHIELD...but most people would never have believed him capable of what he did. He and Phil trained together under Fury... They were friends. So many agents that were HYDRA were just like that. No one could have suspected."
"I can't speak for the others... but I never would have expected it from Grant, so I can understand how no one suspected," Skye said. "I mean... even Grant coming across as emotionless at times didn't seem to hide anything deeper." She hesitated before speaking quietly. "What if there are more? Who have been brainwashed? Like Grant... or Brock... or Kara? How could we even know?" She didn't say it out loud, but a big fear had become finding out that a HYDRA agent killed in the line of fire would turn out to be someone who had started off working on the right side.
"Unless HYDRA kept a detailed list of who they brainwashed and what method was used, we may never know..." May admitted sadly. "Just know that it isn't your fault, sweetie. If your choice is kill or be killed, then you stay alive. If you find out later the person was acting on brainwashing, then you can mourn their loss and regret the necessity of having to kill them, but it isn't your fault any more than it is theirs...."
Sighing softly, May turned the car onto a back country road made of dirt and gravel. "We'll be there in about fifteen minutes...."
Skye nodded, trying hard not to dwell on the problems with HYDRA. She changed the subject, wanting to dwell on something else... especially since she wanted to make a good impression here. "Are there any particular plans for the vacation? Or are we just going to wing it?"
May smiled brightly. "I figured we'd wing it. The house is in the country, but there is a tiny town on the other side, if we drove another fifteen minutes before leaving the main road- and they have a place to Winfield shop, get our nails done, see a movie or two.... They also have a bar and a pretty nice restaurant. The house we'll be staying is near a creek where we can swim and the mountain we can walk... Basically, whatever we want to do, we can...."
She slowed down the car as the house came into view. It was small and quaint...and an older Asian woman was standing on the porch, watching them approach.
Skye took a deep breath as she focused on the woman she assumed was her grandmother... and after having spent most of her life without a proper family, until SHIELD and May had come into the picture, that was a strange thing to think. She waited for her mother to park the car before she uncertainly got out, not knowing what was expected of her.
May quickly got out and moved to stand beside Skye, placing a hand protectively on her back.
"Well, don't just stand there girl...come up here so I can meet you properly." the older woman demanded brusquely, a tiny hint of a smile on her face and in her eyes.
May rolled her own eyes. "Mom! I told you her name...you can use it you know...."
Darting an uncertain, almost shy glance at her mother, Skye nevertheless approached the older woman. Swallowing nervously, she held her hand out, not really sure how she should greet a grandmother (she'd had foster parents, but none of them had kept her long enough for her to form attachments to any of their relations), but figuring she couldn't go wrong if she was polite. "It's nice to meet you..."
May's mother sniffed, took Skye's hand in her own then pulled her unceremoniously into her arms for a hug. "I'd say it's about time I met you!" she huffed out, giving Melinda a look that only a mother could give.
Melinda frowned. "Things haven't been exactly easy to arrange a visit, Mom..." she defended herself somewhat weakly and squirmed.
Skye relaxed, even if only by a fraction, and quickly hugged the woman in return, nodding in agreement with her mother. "It's not exactly been quiet." And they had lost JARVIS... who, even if he had been an AI, had still been a part of the family; and she knew his loss had hit Tony hardest of all.
May's mother relented a bit, her shoulders slumping slightly as she gave both women a worried and fond look. "I...I know. I've been watching the news. And I still have contacts in the CIA that keep me up to date on things that I might need to know...." she admitted softly. "And I'm very glad that you were able to make it to visit now, despite all the issues that could keep you away. I just wish you would call more than once a month...." She smiled crookedly to show she was teasing.
May shook her head and laughed slightly. "Yeah. I should call more often. I'll try to do better with that...." She sighed, finally moving onto the porch and into her mother's arms for her own hug.
Skye moved back, out of the way, and headed over to the car so that she could open the trunk. Leaving the food in there for now (she didn't want it to spoil in the heat), she began to move the bags out... so they could take them inside as soon as they were ready.
May's mother was the first to pull out of the hug, giving her daughter a knowing but loving smile. "Let's get you both settled in, shall we!" Gently turning Melinda toward the car, they went down and began to grab bags or food and headed into the cabin.
It was a few hours later and they had yet to make a final decision on what they wanted to do the next morning. They had barely agreed on what to fix for dinner thirty minutes before. The food was almost done...luckily, since Melinda was starving. "We could always just go into town, explore a bit to see what is there and then make a decision for the next day...." she finally grumbled, but there was little heat in her voice. She was too focused on making sure her dinner didn't burn.
Skye had put in her own suggestions, but really, she didn't have any firm ideas about what to do... just being there with the two of them was enough, but she could definitely see what her mother meant about her and her mother being very alike. "That sounds like a good idea," she said.
"Well, I suppose going in without a plan of action wouldn't be too much of a problem, since we are on a vacation. But if you all function with as little planning on your operations, it is no wonder you look like you're run ragged and need to retire..." May's mother shook her head with a sigh.
Melinda bristled; the only thing keeping her from retorting in an offensive manner herself was the fact Skye was there. Somehow, her mother always managed to get under her skin. It never failed.
"Dinner is ready," she forced out through tightly clenched teeth, her smile over bright.
Her mother had been good at hiding her emotions since Skye had met her... but she'd got pretty good at reading May since she'd been adopted and she noticed that May was struggling to hold back. Skye really had no problems responding when someone criticised her (or the people she cared about), but it took a moment or two of picking at the food on her plate before she could figure out a response that was calm and polite. "I can't say I've had... well, any experience of a family vacation before, but planning out every single thing when you're supposed to be relaxing seems like it would cause more stress. Not less." She gave an awkward half-shrug. Maybe she was wrong. She wasn't used to this.
Her grandmother slanted her head, an odd look on her face. "Your grandfather held the same opinion," she said quietly. "There wasn't one vacation where I wasn't trying to plan for every possibility and know every detail down to the second of what we were doing; and he wasn't putting off making a decision until the very last second...." Her voice was filled with exasperated fondness. "We finally learned to compromise. He wouldn't make so many last minute decisions and I wouldn't insist on planning every moment weeks in advance. I suppose waiting until we scout out the town to make plans won't hurt...."
May smiled crookedly, hearing about her father. "I guess planning a few things in advance would be helpful...."
Skye gave a very small smile, relaxing as it seemed like a compromise had been reached... however temporarily. She finally managed to take a mouthful of food; then, realizing just how hungry she was, began eating with a bit more enthusiasm.
May was able to relax as well, enjoying her meal. Pretty soon, they were all done and her mother was bringing out desert. "You made a strawberry rhubarb pie?" May blinked.
"Well, it has been a while since I saw you. And it is your favorite," her mother said, as she cut a piece for all of them and passed it around.
"You have a favourite dessert?" Skye asked, interested in learning more about her mother... even if favourite foods was a fairly mild thing to learn about. She dug into the pie, chewing the mouthful and swallowing before smiling. "I can see why..."
May smiled as she took her own bite of pie. "I don't know when I had my first ever strawberry rhubarb pie; but I've always liked it, it feels like...."
"You were two," May's mother declared. "Your father gave it to you."
For the next couple of days, the three of them had headed into town, seeing a movie together and having nails and hair done, as well as just seeing the local culture. Skye had suggested, the day before, that maybe they could take a picnic to the creek and go swimming... take advantage of the nice weather.
It was now the third morning and Skye was helping to make up sandwiches. She was feeling pretty relaxed and although she did miss the rest of the family, she was having a good time and felt accepted here, too.
May was feeling very relaxed as well, so when her mother asked if she would be willing to go see an exhibit at the town's tiny museum on local native culture, she agreed, even if she wasn't much in the mood to look at ancient artifacts (having dealt with so many odd artifacts with SHIELD, part of her was afraid she'd see something she'd need to call Phil about; or worse, Thor). "You interested in going, Skye? Or do you just want to lounge around the house and read?" May asked with a bit of amusement.
"I think I'll stay here." Skye didn't mind museums, but they weren't her favourite thing to do... and she thought she might get in touch with some of her old friends, shoot off a quick e-mail or two and check in with them. Since joining SHIELD, she'd been kept so busy, she hadn't had much of a chance to do that.
"Ok. If you need anything, call," May instructed, giving her daughter a quick hug, before heading out the door with her own mother. Within moments, they were gone.
Skye milled around a little, eating lunch and reading, before she opened her laptop and accessed her e-mails. She didn't have any concrete plans to try hacking... at least not until she discovered a lead sent by one of her fellow hackers, after having asked them to keep their ears to the ground in case there was anything in her line of work.
A quick perusal of the site made it clear that Skye wasn't going to be able to hack in from the house. She needed to be closer. Tucking her laptop under her arm, she left, locking the door behind her, got into the car and began driving.
"Well...that was a colossal waste of time. Next time, I guess we'll have to call ahead and make sure that the advertisements for an exhibit are actually for the current year." May's mother rolled her eyes and sighed. "Would you like to stop and get some ice-cream before we head back? We can pick up dinner as well for that matter. You know what Skye likes, don't you?"
"I do," May agreed. "But I should probably call her and ask what she's in the mood for anyway." Pulling out her cell phone, she dialed her daughter's phone.
May frowned. "That's odd. She's not answering." There was a small hint of worry in her tone.
"Maybe she fell asleep," her mother suggested. "Let's go ahead and pick up the dinner and ice cream and head home. She'll call back when she wakes up."
May wasn't entirely convinced, but nodded. The sooner they got back, the sooner she'd stop worrying. "Yeah, ok. Let's get dinner."
It was when Skye was settled with her laptop that she suddenly realized she'd left her cell phone at the house. Biting her lip, she debated whether or not to go back and retrieve it... then decided that would be a waste of time. The hacking wouldn't take long and she'd be back before her mother and grandmother. Hopefully.
It didn't take long for Skye to get completely caught up in the hack. It wasn't anything like as easy as she'd anticipated and she quickly found herself embroiled in all sorts of traps. Reluctant to give up (she didn't want to go back and have nothing to show for it), she enlisted the help of one of her other hacker friends... though she was careful to tell him nothing more than the bare minimum.
When the two older women got back to the house, Melinda wasted no time in grabbing the food and rushing in the front door. "Skye!? We have dinner and desert!" She frowned when there was no response. Putting the food on the kitchen counter, she quickly did a search of the house. "She's not here, mama."
Her mother frowned, taking her phone and calling the number Skye had given her when they first met. Shortly, the sounds of Skye's ringtone filled the room. "Put the food in the fridge. We're going hunting for my granddaughter."
"I don't even know where to begin," May fretted. "There wasn't a sign of forced entry, so she seems to have gone off of her own free will...and without her phone being on her, I can't search her using GPS. Although, it wouldn't surprise me if all of Stark's cars had it; even the non-flashy, older ones...." Biting her lip, she sighed. "Even if it does, though, there is no one back at the mansion who can do the search- Tony and his family left before Skye and I did... and I know for a fact the only electronics they were taking were cell phones in case of emergency. Any equipment to do a search would have been left at home...."
May's mother frowned. "I have some friends that I could ask a favor of... if you don't mind them knowing about our relationship, that is...."
"I don't mind them knowing if you trust them, mom... but I'm not sure why Skye chose to leave the way she did and I'm worried it might be something sketchy that would draw too much attention if we brought in other people," May admitted.
The look on her mother's face wasn't impressed, but she didn't comment on the possibility of Skye doing something sketchy. She'd been an agent, after all. "Maybe you could call Maria. I'm sure she would help you if you asked. I always liked Maria...."
May couldn't help snorting in amusement. It wasn't the first time her mother had said such; Lian was very vocal about who she liked and didn't like. Her mother liked Skye. Skye was probably going to regret that when they found her.
"I don't know... maybe we could launch a two-pronged attack at the same time," Skye said into her earpiece. "Hacking on two fronts might be the push we need."
"You want to make it obvious we're heading in?" her contact replied. "Security this tight, they'll lock us out the moment we get even a toe in the door. We've gotta go subtle."
"Subtle... yeah..." Skye muttered, wondering if she should just give up and go back to the house. Guiltily, she realized she'd been out later than she'd intended... and chances were good that both her mother and grandmother had returned home and would be frantically searching for her.
But she wanted to get into the system.
"Just one more thing..." Skye began working on a Trojan, listening to her contact's suggestions about how to send it into the system.
In the end, they had ended up calling Maria; who, luckily, had access to the Mansion and was able to go over and set up a search on the GPS for the car. It took longer than Melinda would have liked, but a location was finally found. As they drove quickly to where the car had been tagged, Lian couldn't help but watch her daughter with fondness as she alternated between extreme worry about her daughter- who had taken off without a word- and extreme irritation and righteous disappointment that her daughter had just taken off without even leaving a note. It hadn't hit Melinda yet how similar this situation was to so many that Lian had gone through when Melinda was a teen/early adult, but Lian was sure when it did hit her, she'd be getting one of Melinda's rare, sheepish apologies.
Melinda knew her mother was watching her, but she had too many other things to worry about than the weird look Lian was giving her.
Skye had just set up the Trojan to enter the system (so she could hack in from a safe distance away) when she heard the sound of a car approaching. She said a quick goodbye to her contact and closed her laptop, pretty sure she knew who it was... and that there wasn't going to be any hiding what she'd been doing.
Lian carefully pulled up next to the car they had tracked, watching as her daughter carefully got out of their car and readied her weapon. She didn't think it would be necessary; she suspected that Skye had taken off on her own to do some of that 'sketchy' activity Melinda had mentioned...but she approved of her own daughter not taking chances. If Skye had been taken or coerced into going, having protection before they went into the building was necessary. She quickly got out her own weapon and got out of the car, locking it and then following Melinda to provide backup.
It didn't take them long to realize the building was empty except for one lone hacker, that Melinda zeroed in on immediately. "Skye May! Just what do you think you're doing?!" Melinda's tone was anything but calm and conciliatory. She was in full-on mother-bear mode and the focus of her ire was her daughter. "Do you realize just how worried we've been?! You didn't even leave a note!" she scolded. Underneath the tone of irritation and righteous indignation, her relief was noticeable. It was obvious that she'd been very worried.
Lian just watched on in approval as her daughter scolded her granddaughter. She might have been a bit more forceful...but that came with experience. The two hadn't been family long, after all; and were still figuring out how far they could push each other and where their limits were- both as mother and daughter.
Skye swallowed, ducking her head and unable to make eye contact with either her mother or her grandmother. "I..." Her first instinct was to make a flippant response; to try and brush off what she did as if it were nothing. When she spoke, her voice was soft and apologetic. "I got sent a lead... I didn't even think of leaving a note. It wasn't until I was here that I realized I didn't have my cell phone... and then I didn't want to have a wasted journey heading back." It wasn't until she was faced with this situation that Skye realized she was relieved her mother and grandmother had found her... did that mean there was still a small part of her that expected to be dropped at the first sign of trouble?
Melinda just stared at her daughter, trying to get a feel on what the other girl was thinking. Finally, sighing, she walked forward and wrapped her arms around the girl, hugging her tightly. "We'll be talking about your forgetfulness when we get home," she promised softly. "I'm just so relieved that you are ok...." Her voice caught slightly, but she managed to avoid hysterical babbling, just continuing to hold Skye tightly.
Lian frowned slightly, her own relief manifesting itself in irritability. "You're lucky your mother plans to 'talk' with you when you get home...because if she didn't, I'd be having words with you!" she declared, her eyes feisty. "I'm glad you're okay, though..." She finally relented, with a tiny relieved smile.
Skye immediately hugged her mother back tightly, unsettled by the feeling that she was still pushing... still looking for a reason for this to all fall apart. "I'm sorry," she whispered, hesitant to try to explain what she thought might have been going through her head. As understanding as her mother was, the last thing Skye wanted to do was hurt her.
Melinda knew Skye was hiding something; but she wasn't entirely certain what...she knew it didn't have anything to do with Skye's leaving...well, not directly, anyway. She could only hold her daughter more tightly and hope that eventually, Skye would admit what was bothering her. "You know how much I love you, right?" she finally said, not entirely sure if Skye did know that.
Skye made a slight up and down movement of her head against her mother's shoulder. "I think... most of me does," she said, her voice very quiet... and sounding a bit guilty, too. She pressed closer to her mother, worried that admission might cause May to withdraw.
"Oh, sweetie..." Melinda sighed, squeezing even tighter, if possible.
Lian had been listening to the younger women talk and, at Skye's admittance, exchanged a sad look over Skye's shoulder. She promised herself that she would prove to her granddaughter that nothing that was said or done would result in her mother or her grandmother giving up on her or sending her away. She was already too firmly embedded in their hearts.
"I'm sorry," Skye said softly, still clinging to her mother... even if she did know they had to leave. "I do know. I just..." Her voice trailed off, unable to put into words that, in many ways, she was still that lonely girl who no one had wanted. Even though being moved had been for her own safety, it had still had a massive negative effect on her.
"I know..." Melinda soothed, rubbing Skye's back. "But I'm not going anywhere. You're stuck with me...and you're stuck with my rules. And we'll discuss your actions when we get back to the house. After you explain just exactly what you were doing." She smiled to take any sting out of her words. "Do you have everything you came with?" she asked, prepared to direct Skye to the car. Her mother would drive the other one home behind them.
Lian gave her granddaughter a tiny smile, to show that she agreed and felt the same as Melinda.
Skye nodded, slowly loosening her hold on her mother. "I only brought my laptop..." She winced, knowing she really should have brought her cell phone with her; or left a note, at least. She gave her grandmother a small, hesitant smile in return... relieved that she wasn't going to be given up on.
"Too bad you didn't think to send me an email or text message through my phone using your computer..." May said off-handedly; not to make Skye feel worse, but to remind her that even though she'd forgotten two important things (her phone, which should always be on her, and leaving a note or message so that her family wouldn't worry), she'd still had options available. Part of being an agent was taking anything at hand that was available and making it useful to you. Even when on vacation and theoretically not needing to be at top form, Skye needed to be able to think on her feet, in case something or someone went wrong.
Skye really should have thought of that. Especially when it had occurred to her that she didn't have her cell phone on her. She knew how important it was for the family to stay in touch, after all. If nothing else, she'd seen the sheer panic the parents experienced when their kids ended up out of contact... for whatever reason. "I think I must have temporarily lost my mind," she mumbled, deciding that was the only explanation.
May couldn't help but chuckle at that, even as she gently turned Skye toward the car and led her to the passenger side. "You wouldn't be the first that's happened to..." she said with a smile, thinking of Tony and Grant in particular.
"It probably won't even be the last time, if you're anything like your mother..." Lian added cheekily, ignoring the grumpy look Melinda shot her. "I'll drive my car home. You go with your mom..." Lian directed, even though it was fairly obvious that had been Melinda's plan all along; better to eliminate any chance of doubt.
Skye allowed herself to be led, not even trying to argue being taken home by her mother. It made her feel a bit more settled... even if she was dreading the coming conversation.
After helping Skye into the passenger seat and making sure her computer was safely stored in the back seat, May got into the car and began the trek back to the house. Luckily, they weren't so far away that it would take them long to get there. "We have dinner and ice-cream that we brought back. I'm thinking we can have our talk first and then eat dinner...most of the time, the kids don't like putting things off. If you'd rather wait, though, I'll allow it. Just say the word...." May's tone was calm. It was clear they were going to have a conversation about Skye's actions; the only choice Skye would be given was when the conversation would take place.
Skye bit her lip, but to be honest, there was no real choice. She didn't want to put off the discussion and was reasonably sure she wouldn't have any appetite if they waited. "I'd rather get it over with," she admitted.
May nodded and continued to drive. Not much longer than thirty minutes later, they were pulling up to the house and May had parked the car, getting out and walking around to the passenger side to wait for Skye to get out.
Lian walked over to join them for a few moments. "I'll just sit on the porch swing until you are both ready for dinner, if you'll come and get me when you're done talking." She smiled at her daughter and patted her granddaughter on the shoulder, before heading for the swing.
Melinda nodded her agreement before placing an arm around Skye's shoulders and leading her into the house and to Skye's room.
Skye gave her grandmother a small, if nervous smile, but went willingly along with her mother, already feeling guilty for disappearing like she had. "I am sorry," she said quietly, pressing a bit closer to her mother.
"I know. We'll take care of it and then it will be behind us..." May said softly, giving Skye a gentle hug as she led her into the room. "I know you didn't mean to forget your phone, or forget to leave a note about what you were doing...and I'm sure if you'd thought about it, you would have sent me a message through your laptop. The problem is, you did forget; and you didn't think...so I need to give you an incentive to try and remember and to pay attention to everything you have in your possession that you can make use of." May had led Skye to the bed by this point and had sat down on it, pulling Skye around to stand in front of her so they could look at each other while talking. "I don't think I need to continue scolding you for the mistakes you made; you're fully aware of what you should have done and now you are aware of what you could have done. Do you have anything to say before we proceed? Any explanations you'd like to give me about why you'd do what you did? Anything at all I need to know about that you haven't told me yet?" May suspected she knew what Skye had been up to- and it didn't really bother her too much...that was part of Skye's job and she believed that her daughter wouldn't hack into anything unless she had a very good reason. But she also knew that sometimes when one of the younger team members found information, they tended to hoard it until they had to give the information up...and sometimes that led to problems. She wanted to give Skye a chance to tell her anything that she felt might be important.
"I don't think any explanations are going to help my case," Skye said honestly. "But I was sent a lead by one of my contacts. I was at the building because I had to be close enough to the signal to hack in." She made a slight face. "I don't know if it's a dead end or not, but the security was tight enough that I suspect something's being hidden. I had to utilise the help of one of my other contacts... and even then, the best I could do was send a Trojan and hope it's disguised enough that they won't pick up on it." She spoke without any hesitation. Unless she felt information was dangerous, or that it was personally harmful, she generally didn't have a problem sharing... at least with her mother.
May frowned at the admittance that the security had been so tight. Normally, Skye had no problems breaking into anything she tried to get into...unless it was something very serious; which usually meant seriously dangerous. "Is there a chance that they'll be able to trace what you did back to you?" Her tone was worried.
Anyone outside of her family who asked something like that would, more than likely, receive a scathing retort. Because it was her mother, Skye gave the question the consideration it deserved before she replied. "I make sure to cover my tracks as much as is possible under normal circumstances. On this occasion, I had my contact help me generate false sources. Attempting to trace back to me is just going to lead them to a score of false leads... and a massive headache."
May nodded. If Skye said she'd taken every precaution, then she had. It was that simple. "Very well," May said softly. "Let's get this over-with, then." Carefully, she maneuvered Skye around and then over her lap, tugging her in close to her stomach. She then quickly bared her. "I don't mind you deciding to go places without permission, as long as we aren't under a threat alert. However, a note is always expected, as is the fact that you will take your phone with you. Am I clear?"
Skye whimpered softly, but didn't fight the position... even if it was embarrassing and humbling to be punished in this way. "Yes, Mom," she replied, her voice soft.
"Good..." Without further chiding, May raised her hand and let it fall with a firm swat. She wasn't using as much strength as she could...only enough to be uncomfortable. The sting likely wouldn't last long beyond the actual spanking, even if the memory stayed with Skye. May quickly fell into a pattern, covering her daughter's backside from top to mid-thigh before starting over again.
Skye tried to hold still, but when May started over from the top, covering skin that had already received attention, she couldn't help beginning to squirm. Tears came very quickly to her eyes... as much to do with the guilt as the position and childish feeling she was experiencing.
May was paying close attention to Skye's reactions. When she saw the tears and squirming, she tugged her daughter in more securely and began to administer the swats more quickly, not easing up or increasing the force behind them. As soon as she had finished the second circuit, she shifted Skye forward just enough to make her sit-spots more vulnerable and began to pepper them with attention.
It didn't take long for Skye to begin crying. Although her sobs were soft, they were still audible. She went limp over her mother's lap, accepting the punishment.
As soon as Skye went limp, May swatted her once more- with considerably less force, more of a reminder than to punish- then lifted her up, placing her on her lap and holding her tightly. "I love you, Skye and I want to have you with me for a very long time. I know that in our line of work, we can't always stay completely safe; but we can always take precautions to help make us safer. Making sure someone knows where you are or where you are going is one such precaution. Having your cell phone at all times is another. I don't want you to forget again." She snuggled her daughter close, kissing the top of her head.
Skye immediately latched onto her mother, clinging tightly to her. The spanking hadn't been nearly as unsettling as realizing exactly why she'd been acting out. "I'm sorry... I'll try not to forget again," she said quietly.
"I know you will," Melinda rubbed Skye's back gently. "I forgive you. Clean slate...." May didn't say anything about suspecting that Skye's actions had a bit to do with Skye testing her and her resolve to keep Skye safe. It might take a while, but eventually, Skye would be able to trust in May's love and concern. Until then, Melinda would just continue to prove herself to her daughter.
Skye sighed quietly and just held tightly to her mother. It was easy to believe in her place in the family now... why couldn't it be that easy all the time?
May continued to comfort her daughter. Once she was sure that Skye was calm again, she gently leaned back so she could look Skye in the eye. "I think it's time we go get your grandmother so we can eat dinner, don't you?" Helping Skye to stand, Melinda wrapped an arm around her shoulders and gently led her back out of the bedroom and toward the kitchen. She began to get the food they'd bought out of the fridge, directing her daughter. "Why don't you go let your grandmother know she can come in? Thanks, sweetie." She smiled as she began to reheat the dinner.
Skye went willingly along with her mother, nodding in agreement as May requested she fetch her grandmother. She headed out to the porch; a little quiet, but not really subdued... even if she was determined she was going to do better next time.
Lian glanced up from her position on the porch swing. "Everything ok now?" she asked calmly, obviously knowing what had occurred, but not planning to focus on it.
Skye nodded. "We're going to be eating, if you want to come back in."
"I do...I could eat a dragon..." Lian teased, as she stood up and opened the door to go back into the house, standing back to let Skye go in ahead of her.
Skye smiled, stepping into the house. "I don't think there's quite a dragon," she teased back. "But it looked like a lot of food."
"Yes...let's get in there before your mother eats it all," Lian teased, walking in behind her granddaughter.