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The Tree of Life

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A few days ago, they had found evidence that a religious secte had been making human sacrifices so that their “power”, whatever that was, would become greater. It didn’t take long for May, followed by Coulson, to realize that these were the same people that were responsible for Bahrain years ago.

Phil had wanted to keep Melinda out of this, to keep her safe, so that he wouldn’t have her pulling away from him just when she was starting to let people in again, but he knew that in this situation, even with his position of Director, there was nothing he could do to stop her from coming along. She was stubborn like that. He both loved and hated that about her.

So there they were, standing under the so called “Tree of Life” where he remembered finding her, unconscious, among dozens of bodies. He had been so scared. For a second, he thought he had lost her. And in a way, he did.

Unfortunately, when they got to Bahrain, they found out it was a lost cause. All traces of evidence about this secte had vanished, along with the members. Skye, Trip, and Simmons had already gone back to the Bus; Simmons didn’t like leaving Fitz alone for too long, and Phil had told the two others to go with her. Melinda needed to stay a while longer, to think, and Phil had decided to stay with her. She needed someone there, just in case.

Right now, she standing, under the tree, looking out into the distance. Phil imagined she was recalling the events of that day. He found it hard not to do so himself, and the memories were horrible, so he couldn’t imagine how horrible it was for her.

Suddenly, he heard her breath hitch. She started inhaling deeply, and fast, and staggered back a little. He rushed over to her, and caught her, so that she wouldn’t fall.

“Melinda, what’s wrong?” he asked, although the answer was pretty obvious; she was having a panic attack. He honestly wasn’t sure what to do; he had never been good in these situations. But she needed him. “Okay, relax… breed in, breed out…” he said, although, from the glare she gave him, he guessed it wasn’t that simple.

“I can’t—I can’t… oh god…” she mumbled, in between breaths. He knew how difficult this must be for her. She, who always wanted to be in control, to show that nothing could get to her so that no one would try to hurt her, was having a panic attack. He knew how hard she must be willing herself to stop, and how it only made things worse that it wasn’t working.

His mind was racing. What did you have to do to stop a panic attack? He couldn’t remember. “Think happy thought, okay?” he told her, even though he doubted that would work.

At this point, they were both on their knees, her with her head down, and him gripping her arms, trying to think of a way to help her. Suddenly, it hit him; he remembered the first day of med class, the class all agents were required to take, where they thought them how to deal with a civilian or colleague who was having a panic attack. She had to hold her breath.

And so he kissed her. It was nice, calm, and, for a moment, he forgot all about the fact that they were in the middle of the desert, in Bahrain, or the fact that she was having panic attack moments earlier. In that instant, there was only them.

After a moment, they parted. They both exhaled, and looked each other in the eyes.

“Um… wha—what was that?” she asked.

“Day one of med class: they thought us how to deal with panic attacks. One way of stopping them was to make them hold their breaths, so, I kissed you… it worked,” he told her, with a shrug.

She looked him in the eyes a moment longer, before dropping her gaze, smirking. He could tell she was blushing a tiny bit. “Thank you,” she said.

“No problem,” he answered. Realizing that they were both still on their knees, very close to each other, they both suddenly got up.

“We, um, should probably go now,” he said. “The others might get worried. Unless you want to stay a while longer, that is.”

She shook her head. “No, I’m, um, I’m good.”

“Okay, then. Let’s go.”

They went back to Lola, and sat themselves down in the car. Just before he started the car, Phil noticed that Melinda was still staring out into the desert, a look of immense sadness on her face. And so her placed him hand on top of hers, and squeezed it. “It’s going to be okay,” he whispered. She looked at him, grateful, a small smile on her lips, and he knew that she believed him.