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The Beach

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22 years earlier...

He found her on the beach. It didn’t surprise him. She always went to the beach when she wasn’t feeling great. He was the only one who knew about this habit.

It was a nice beach a few miles away from the Academy. He had first found her on it a couple of months after they met. Now it saddened him that it would surely be the last time he saw her here.

“What’s wrong?” he asked as he approached her. She turned around, startled.

“What are you doing here?” she asked.

“You tell me first,” he said. When she failed to answer, he continued talking. “Shouldn’t you be thrilled? Anyone else in your position would.”

A month ago, Fury had announced that five specialists would be picked from the Academy to graduate early and go on a few rescue missions. From there, naturally, the people who got picked would get more and more missions, and rise in the ranks of SHIELD. It was the opportunity of a lifetime. The next month had been stressful, with everyone specialist turning on each other to get one of the spots. Phil wasn’t a specialist, so he hadn’t been personally victimized, but some of his friends had gone through hell.

The results came out this morning. To no one’s surprise, May was part of the five chosen. But while the other lucky winners were celebrating, Melinda had disappeared. It was already night time by the time Phil decided to come here.

She sighed. “Well I guess I’m not anyone else,” she said, and shrugged.

He gave her a look. “You know what I mean. Why aren’t you happy about it?” he asked.

She pursed her lips. “What does it say for me, as a person, that, out of all the psychopaths, the body builder guys, the military guys, that enrolled to at the Academy, that I got picked for something like this? That Fury thinks that I’m the type of person that could easily kill a bunch of trained soldiers, and not them?” she asked, her eyes tearing up.

He grabbed her wrist. “What are you doing?” she asked as he rolled up the sleeve.

“See this scar?” he asked, showing it to her. She nodded unsurely. “You got that on the training op in the first year. Remember how we had to get the flag and bring it back to the base? Well, you had the flag. You would of won. But then you saw the squirrel caught in the trap that someone put out, and you knew that it was going to die. We all knew. And you decided to forfeit your victory to save the squirrel,” he said. He let go of her wrist. “Fury didn’t chose you because of your ability t take a life. He chose you because of your ability to save one. Because you know what’s more important, how to make the right call, and that’s what’s important in this job. You deserve this more that anyone, Melinda.” he said.

Her breath caught in her throat. “I’m going to miss you so much.” she said, and hugged him. He smiled.

“Me too, Mel,” he said, knowing full well she hated that nickname. Surely enough, she gave him a little punch.

He pulled away. “Now, shouldn’t you be back at the Academy saying goodbye to everyone and packing your stuff? You leave in, like, 4 hours!” he exclaimed.

“Yeah,” she said. “I probably should.” she said sadly.

He was about to head back to the car when she kissed him. It was a sweet, soft kiss. It was nice. When they parted, he looked at her, eyes huge in surprise.

She grinned. “Thank you,” she said, and she walked to her car.

####

In the present day...

The next time either of them went to that beach was in 2014. This time it was Melinda who found Phil there.

“Who would of thought the Playground was close to here, huh?” she said as she sat next t him.

“Melinda, hey!” he said, sitting up straighter. “Yeah, it’s weird,” he agreed.

“So what’s on your mind?” she asked.

He sighed. “I dunno,” he said “Just a little nostalgic. I mean, the last time we were here, we were still in the Academy, well, I was, and now I’m Director!” he exclaimed.

“Yeah, we’ve come a long way.” she agreed.

“I mean, when we met, we were these scared little kids—well, I was—and now we’re rebuilding SHIELD together! It’s—amazing!” he said.

She smiled, but kept quiet.

“I’m really glad you’re back,” he said. She arched an eyebrow, but didn’t say anything, so he continued. “I mean, with all that’s going on, I really need someone like you there for me, to help me rebuild SHIELD. And I’m so glad that you decided to come back even after I was so mean to you.”

“Phil, you don’t have to—”

“No, let me finish. I haven’t gotten the time to apologize, not really, with all that’s been going on, and you need to know that I regret everything I said a hundred percent, and I’m really sorry I threw the words back in your face. That was mean and unfair of me. And I want you to know that I need you, now more than ever,” he said

“Phil,” she said. He stopped. “I know.” She smiled at him.

He smiled back. “So you forgive me?” he asked.

“Of course I do. Do you forgive me?” she asked.

He nodded. “Good,” she said.

They stayed in silence a moment longer.

“So,” she said, “We should probably get back to the Playground. The others might start wondering what we’re doing here.”

She got up to leave.

“You coming, Director?” she asked.

He nodded, and got up. He walked up to her, and kissed her. The kiss was much more intense than the last time. When they parted, he whispered “Thank you.”

She looked him in the eye. “For what?” she asked, puzzled by the thanks and the kiss that came before.

“For everything,” he said. He looked over at the Lola. “Race ya!” he said, and ran off.

She smirked and rolled her eyes, and then ran after him.

—The End.