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The Elephant on the Plane

Chapter Text

2015

"This will-" Jemma starts.

"Only hurt a little, I know," her anonymous patient finishes.

"I'm Inhuman. Needles aren't exactly rare in my life."

Jemma pauses.

"There are still Inhumans," she states, more a question than a declaration.

The girl nods, and though neither says it outright, it feels like Jemma's the one being comforted now.

+

Jemma gathers the blood she's drawn and turns to leave, thinking that the girl does seem strangely unperturbed.

"Is...time travelling common as well?" she inquires.

The girl shakes her head, wavy brown hair swinging around her shoulders.

"Level 7 to even know it's possible."

Chapter Text

2015

Bobbi sighs.

"I still vote truth serum."

"It's not as though she's properly dishonest," Jemma contests.

"She avers that telling us more could disrupt the timeline, perhaps enough to prevent her existence from occurring."

"We'll avoid that as much as we can," Coulson orders, zooming in on the monitor.

She's pacing again, Bobbi observes. This is the most nervous she's seemed throughout the whole day she's been here - she hasn't even tried to wriggle free of her gloves.

She'd asserted that she had her powers under control, but until they knew more...they couldn't know what she was capable of.

Chapter Text

2015

Switching from pacing to slowly spinning, she starts to grumble.

“Can I at least get, like, a crossword puzzle? I’m sure a lot of effort went into building this containment cell, but really? I’m a twenty-something, I’ve got an attention span only slightly longer than a goldfish.”

She sighs, and Phil can't help but chuckle. The look he and May exchange a second later is confirmation that neither needs the DNA results to know that she's Skye's.

"Give the word, I'll get her a suit."

"If I sarcastically say 'Hail Hydra' or something, can you at least, like, interrogate me?"

Chapter Text

2015

As bored as she’d been earlier, she’s equally as creative.

She’s involved in some meditation exercise when the barrier dissipates.

“Brought some snacks,” says Phil, and she swirls around on her cot.

“Finally!” she jumps, getting to her feet, but he motions for her to stay, and sits down next to her instead. She plucks a strawberry from the Tupperware container; his eyes widen with surprise at her casual nature.

“Sorry. Forgot you don’t know me yet.”

Phil shrugs.

“Name would help.”

“Subtle as ever, you are,” she smirks, and takes another strawberry before pausing in consideration.

“Hope…it’s Hope.”

Chapter Text

2015

“Okay, am I the only one freaking out about the resemblance?” Kara asks. Both Jemma and Fitz shake their heads.

“Absolutely not,” Jemma says. “It's too uncanny.”

Hope - apparently that’s her name, but Kara doesn’t know why she’d withhold that - tugs her gloves back on, giving May some jazz fingers to prove she’s in accordance with the regulations regarding her powers; the black suit fits her...suspiciously smoothly.

Kara had thought she was Skye herself when she’d walked into the room adjacent to Hope's cell.

Fitz snaps his fingers, and Kara and Jemma turn to him.

“I’ve got an idea.”

Chapter Text

2015

Bobbi knocks on the lab door out of habit; the knock isn't answered, and she goes in.

“Apparently there’s a party I wasn’t invited to,” she remarks curiously, walking to where Kara and Fitzsimmons are staring at a monitor, intently watching…something.

“Two, actually,” Jemma states. “Coulson and May are with our newest 0-8-4, gauging her powers.”

“And…what are we doing?”

“We…are waiting patiently for her blood test results.”

“Patiently, my ass,” Bobbi chuckles, sitting next to Kara at the table.

"Says the agent who wanted to give her truth serum the second she got here," Kara smirks, and Bobbi shrugs.

Chapter Text

2045

Jemma’s had the headaches for thirty years now: the blackouts, the neck pain…the sending Fitz to retrieve pain meds in the middle of the night.

Her heart trouble is recent, the main reason she’s submitted to Fitz’s insistence that she consult a proper doctor - on the condition of their goddaughter's accompaniment.

But moments after Hope’s car's A/C stops working, the car itself stops, like a radio-controlled toy.

Hope struggles to start it again; it refuses. Jemma offers help, and then blacks out.

+

The space around her stays black as she regains consciousness.

Black until she spies the HYDRA emblem.

Chapter Text

2045

It’s past midnight when May rings them, and by the time they’ve promised their babysitter double the pay for coming at this hour and on such short notice, they’ve gotten another call from Fitz.

Grant’s seen too much organized mayhem not to expect the worst, and a smile warm enough to reassure Skye of their eldest’s safety isn’t something he can muster.

+

"Just found Hope's car near Dr Champlain's office. Dead battery and everything - towing it in now," Hunter informs them.

"I'm more concerned about my daughter and my best friend, Lance," Skye barks.

His grimace is his only answer.

Chapter Text

2015

“Maybe she’s a spy,” Garner jests, but the conversation cuts off as May and Coulson approach the group.

“Wouldn’t really be saying much around here,” May says, her tone creeping towards a teasing one.

Coulson and Garner nod simultaneously. They don't seem to notice, but Kara definitely notices.

Jemma pauses the recording of their 0-8-4’s hand-to-hand evaluation - an impressive one.

“Honestly, I think the question is ‘for whom is she a spy’?”

Kara raises her hand.

“Also, why she looks like she may have cloned from Skye.”

“And how she got here,” adds Bobbi. Jemma rolls her eyes.

“I didn’t mean that it was the only question.”

Chapter Text

2015

May and Phil are speaking in hushed tones when Andrew comes near them in the hallway. He doesn’t approach them, just waits a couple feet away, but of course they pause their conversation.

May raises her eyebrows at him.

“HYDRA just dropped back onto the radar.”

“As in 'a new head’s grown into place' on the radar?” Phil inquires.

“Something’s growing. Not sure it’s a head.”

Melinda and Phil exchange a wary glance before falling into step towards the conference room.

"It's a ding-dong-ditch routine," Mack informs them.

"Dead and incapacitated HYDRA operatives, left right where we'll find them."

Chapter Text

2015

An alarm goes off when Skye gets dropped back in, her Inhuman escort disappearing immediately. Nearly the whole team heads in her direction, but Jemma dashes off - they’re hugging tightly when the rest of the group arrives, and Skye dives in for a few more.

It’s only when she’s hugging Coulson tightly that anyone says anything.

“You need to go talk to her, Coulson,” Skye tells him, her voice concerned, almost a whisper. “Jiaying will only talk to you.”

"Me?"

"Mm-hmm."

Phil doesn't bother asking why - seeing what May privately describes as Skye's "Papa Coulson, Please" look is answer enough.

Chapter Text

2015

They only talk in whispers, a game of Battleship being perhaps the only thing keeping the rest from overhearing.

“I’m going with you,” May declares.

“Melinda,” Phil sighs. “I need you on this HYDRA thing.”

“And I need a bubble bath and a renewal on my birth control prescription. None of those things are happening today.”

He chuckles, this being one of those times that what they can say to each other makes glaringly obvious what they still can’t.

“Jiaying said she'll only talk to me but...perhaps she'll make an exception. You are exceptional, after all."

"Oh, shut up."

Chapter Text

2015

Melinda is the most apprehensive of their trio, watching with discontent as they approach the woman - presumably Jiaying - standing in front of the compound - and next to Skye’s father, but why is he here? - particularly when Jiaying reaches out for Skye. Skye jogs ahead and takes her hand, and though May has the urge to hold her back, she settles for gritting her teeth and grabbing the cuff of Phil’s jacket.

Concerned, that’s what she is. Concerned.

Skye's lips are pursed when she turns back to them, and her concern comes to a head.

"May, Coulson, meet Jiaying...my mother."

Chapter Text

2015

Jiaying’s smile, to May, is clearly forced.

“Why don’t you come into my study?” she poses all too sweetly, gesturing them inside.

“Gotta couple reasons,” May murmurs to Phil as they walk inside.

“Starting to wonder if we should’ve gotten an official certificate?” he jokes, reminding her that they can read each others' anxiety.

“Might or might not have come to mind."

"Oh, come on, Melinda, golden opportunity there."

"Hmm?"

"May or may not..."

"You are a child," May scolds, eyeing Jiaying as she asks one of the young men inside the house to bring another chair to her office.

Chapter Text

2015

The computer declares its search finished far sooner than predicted.

Jemma gasps, clapping a hand over her mouth; Bobbi can’t tell what the monitor is telling them, but she and Kara both are on edge regardless.

Fitz is the one who takes the cue of Bobbi’s expectant expression first.

“Well, we know why she looks like Skye.”

“Oh, god, she’s a clone,” Bobbi says; Kara juts in afterwards.

I’m not a clone.”

“No, this is...much worse,” replies Jemma. “She’s her daughter.

“That’s worse how?” inquires Bobbi.

Jemma and Fitz exchange a nervous look.

Chapter Text

2015

“Well,” Fitz begins, and Jemma picks up the sentence for him.

“Her entire genetic profile can be matched to DNA we already have on record.”

“So, her father’s in the system?” Bobbi asks.

“Oh, yeah,” Fitz says grumpily.

“Should we call Coulson, let him know?”

Jemma sighs.

“For all our sanities, no.

She turns back to the monitor and clicks through some of the visible, and presumably meaningful, results.

“The extent to which Hope's DNA matches Skye’s...and her father’s...leaves only one possibility.”

“And?” Bobbi pries. Jemma smiles an awkward, apologetic sort of smile.

“That possibility...is Grant Ward.”

Chapter Text

2015

“Coulson’s team,” comes an order over the intercom, and whatever conversation there may have been is over. “Report to Gonzales’ office immediately.”

They scramble from the lab, but the four of them barely make it into the room before he’s marching back into the bullpen outside his office and demanding answers of them.

“Agent Johnson, did she go with Coulson and May?”

“Yes, sir, why?” Jemma jumps to reply; Gonzales growls, thankfully at no one in particular.

“We have a...sensitive situation. Hostage taker, wants to talk to her. If we can’t get her-”

“...perhaps we don’t need to, sir.”

Chapter Text

2015

“Did you think you would get away? Like small boy with candy from shop?”

Yelena’s voice is painfully Russian, even more so than usual.

Well, she’d been getting so frustrated with English lately - if Grant had been making her speak English, maybe she’d be better. His own frustrations are his own fault.

Grant doesn’t allow her the satisfaction of knowing precisely how tight her restraints feel, but he can’t help but squirm in his chair.

“How exactly do you think you’re going to stop me? I have nothing to lose.”

“You might not. Agent Johnson, though...she does.

Chapter Text

2015

“SHIELD means harm to none of you,” Melinda says, trying to temper her voice, a task made oh-so-much-harder by Jiaying’s refusal to do the same.

“You can’t prove that, Agent May, and we have enough reason to doubt-”

“Mom, please,” Skye protests, and the fear in her voice is confirmation enough of ulterior motives. “They came to talk-”

“I asked for Agent Coulson, not for-”

May scoffs, but Phil interjects.

“If you want your husband to be here while we talk, it’s only fair for me to have May here.”

Jiaying sighs.

“Cal, Skye...can you step outside a moment?”

Chapter Text

2015

It’s not particularly surprising to Melinda that Skye’s father’s immediate reaction to his wife’s request is to gesture at showing Skye out with a hand to her shoulder.

“Daisy, dear, let’s -"

“No,” Skye’s refusal is less expected, a darkly deep word that comes out all too easily.

“No, Mom, not when you’re like this.”

“Skye, it’ll be -" Phil starts to urge her against her protest, but her own expression approaches that of her mother’s in terms of formidability and Melinda’s subsequent grab of his hand quiets him.

“No. Mom, stand up.”

Excuse me?” Jiaying takes harsh offense, but Skye insists.

Chapter Text

2015

Skye pales when Jiaying relents and stands, and Melinda realizes that she’s holding some creepily-glowing purple instrument.

She watches the two women in tandem: a tear comes to Skye’s face, and Jiaying grows angrier.

“You don’t understand - " she begins.

“I understand that you were planning to murder my family!”

“Daisy, we are your family,” Cal interjects. Skye scoffs, but then her voice shakes.

“Coulson, May, get out, and as far away from here as you can.”

“You’re mad if you think we’re leaving without you,” Coulson jumps immediately.

“No, I’m not, because that’s exactly what I’m asking you to do.”