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Birds of a Feather

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It was hot, too hot even, for the amount of black the slim girl was wearing. A black leather jacket, over a black tank top, paired with black, tight fitted pants and black combat boots. It was expected for anyone to be sweating in such a heat wave, but the brunette held her composure just fine, occasionally glancing at a silver watch which hung on her wrist. It was five minutes past her directed meeting time. Not exactly a good start to things.

Pushing her aviator sunglasses up to rest atop her head, Agent Monroe once again glanced around the bus stop where she was waiting. Perhaps they were simply watching her, waiting her for to catch on to their presence. But it seemed unlikely. Seeing she had arrived two hours early to survey the entire land, she didn't think any figure had escaped her grasp. Yet, her grey eyes, grey like the colour of storm clouds ready to burst, moved slowly over the terrain of the New York streets, waiting for a sign, any sign.

And suddenly, there he was, the man from her file folders, rolling up in a shiny, red convertible, a 62 Chevy Corvette from the looks of things. He had on a dark grey suit and matching tie, and sported his own set of Aviators. "Nice to finally meet you Monroe," he said directly to her, not missing a beat, "How about you hop in and we'll take a ride?" His words were surprisingly kind, and his face equally so. Not exactly what Asia had expected from an Agent in charge of his own operations team.

Nevertheless, she slid effortlessly into the vehicle, glancing carefully around them to make sure no one was paying to much attention as they sped away from the grimy bus station where she had waited. "So, Monroe, it's a pleasure to finally have you aboard. A team member handpicked and trained by Strike Team Delta...well...let's just say we haven't had someone at your caliber of talent in a while." Phil Coulson said as they made their way out of New York City and into gentler surrounding country.

"Please, call me Asia," the brunette in the passenger seat said with a smile on her lips and a faint blush on her cheeks. It was true, she had been trained by Natasha Romanov and Clint Barton, to be their backup essentially. She was on her way to becoming the latest Avenger, unbeknownst to her, if that was the path she chose. That was, at least, until Director Fury had a private discussion with her, explaining Coulson's team, and how she could very well be an essential member, a pivotal turning point when it came to the success of their missions. And when he asked her if she was interested, she couldn't exactly say no. "And I'm honoured, really, to be a part of your team. You have quite a legacy, Phil."

"Hey, you're making quite a legacy of your own, for how long you have been with S.H.I.E.L.D, Asia," Phil replied, using her name as requested. "I think you'll be an asset. Did Fury brief you on who you'll be working with?"

Asia shook her head in response, "All he really told me was that you were in charge of a group of rather...elite, I believe was how he put it? Elite agents who were working unclassified missions, specifically one's involving 084's." She was rather excited to meet these alleged elite agents. There were several people she had in mind from Operations who she hadn't seen since graduation. Well, since traditional graduation. With her own training process, it felt as if she never truly graduated. With Nat and Clint, whom she adored dearly, she felt as if she was always being babysitted. As if the two agents had made the mutual decision to adopt her and train her, but never let her go out alone. The 25 year old had been with S.H.I.E.L.D. from the age of 15, hand chosen by Natasha Romanov herself as the perfect student. And she had still yet to do a solo mission, after ten long years.

"They are really something special," Coulson replied, a gentle smile on his weathered face, "Each of them, really. But I'll let them introduce themselves. We do have one other new recruit...she wasn't exactly planned. But I think you'll get along. You've got a lot in common."

Asia turned to look at the fellow S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, raising one thin eyebrow, "And whatever do you mean by that, Agent Coulson?"

"Oh please Asia, call me Phil," he teased, glancing over at her, "Now buckle up, things are about to get a little bumpy." He pressed a button, and suddenly the car was no rather driving on four wheels, but rather launched into the air, wheels shifting position and becoming a hovering rocket of a vehicle which shot into the sky. Asia felt her heart leap into her throat and immediately grabbed onto the edges of her seat, even though the belt was already secured. "And she is also looking for some lost past," Phil shouted over the wind as they approached a mass of clouds.

Asia looked at the fluffy white orbs warily, ready to get drenched, when suddenly a large, dark black bird of a plane dropped out of the clouds, the cargo door dropping open for the car to easily glide into, hovering once more until the cargo door closed and the wheels rotated back to their proper positions. When the wind died and made it easier to speak, Phil turned back to the agent, whose hair was whipped wildly around her face. "Welcome to the bus."

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The Ops Agent had been on many planes in her time, but there was nothing like the Bus. "How the hell did you get something like this?" She asked immediately, forgetting to bite her tongue. Nat would have been ashamed, but Clint would have laughed along with her. Her pale cheeks once again flushed slightly, but then when she saw Phil smiling, she threw on one of her own smiles, a genuine one.

"Well it was part of that whole near-death experience thing. War perks you could call it," Phil said with a shrug of his shoulder. "She's been through a lot, but she's a strong bird. How are your skills at flying?"

Asia blanched, "You'd let me fly? Damn. I didn't know you had so much confidence in me." Her laugh was genuine. She did have experience flying, there was no way her mentors wouldn't teach her that much of an important skill. "I've done my fair share of flying. I've clocked about 750 hours to date. I still need more, if you ask me."

"Well you'll get plenty of chances," Phil said, stopping and turning to her. "You're a part of our team now Agent Monroe, and that will have its perks. But, it's going to be dangerous, too. Danger like you never experienced with Strike Team Delta. And they won't be around here to save you now. You'll have to rely on us, and us on you. Is that something you're ready for?"

"With all due respect, Agent Coulson, I was born ready," Asia replied. If only she knew how literal those words were.

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"Well, the rest of your team should be inside those doors," Phil said, standing with his hands crossed in front of him. "Do you want to go inside? It's entirely up to you." He looked down at the young woman with patient eyes, yet he was clearly testing her.

"What, you're not planning to introduce me?" She asked, challenging him back, shrugging off her leather jacket and hanging it over one shoulder, exposing her soft shoulder blades and the weaved black tanktop beneath, which showed off her curves rather nicely. "Or has my reputation already proceeded me?"

Phil grinned slightly, "Well, they know you're coming, they just don't know who exactly. So go ahead, give 'em hell."

Rolling her eyes, Asia placed a hand on the door and twisted the knob, pushing it forward and stepping into the lab. As she entered, she could hear Phil whisper "Good luck kiddo," and any nerves she had washed away, replaced by a smile on her face. There were four people in the room in front of her, and she could hear the shuffle of footsteps coming from behind one of the shelves.

Simultaneously, all full four faces looked up at her, stopping what they were doing. The first agent Asia recognized immediately, Melinda May, the gorgeous Asian female with calculating eyes that could make even the strongest of men whimper. Asia had met her before, when she was on missions and getting briefed. The woman was nearly as deadly as Natasha, if not on par with the Black Widow. Immediately, a half smile slid across the woman's face.

Next to her was a girl who could almost be a younger version of Agent May, a cute Asian American girl with long, dark hair that fell in waves. If only Asia could get her hair to fall like that. The girl's fingers had been rapidly typing over a keyboard but froze when the new agent had entered, her pouty lips dropping open slightly.

And to her right were a man and a woman standing next to each other, both in cardigans, the girl's being dark red and the boy's being pine green. The girl had short, red brown hair and very pale skin, with wide, wide eyes which were studying her with an intensity that could only belong to a scientist. The boy next to her hair short, curly brown hair and soft blue eyes. His mouth was dropped open just slightly. By his proximity to the other scientist beside him, she could only guess they must be rather close, whether it was a tight friendship or a relationship.

But the Agent who really excited her was the Agent who walked out from behind the shelf, a tall man with clean cut black hair and a chizzled jawline. He was well built and walked with attitude, but when he saw Asia, a smile crashed over his face.

"Ward!" Asia shouted, throwing open her arms and running to him, jumping into his matched open arms. He swooped her up and swung her around in a circle before setting her down. "Shit, Monroe, I knew they were sending someone good, but I never thought we would be lucky enough to get my number one competition." Agent Grant Ward was someone Asia had grown quite close with in Ops school, their level of proficiency pushing each other to competition, but also spurring the best sort of friendship.

"I had no idea you were here either!" She said enthusiastically, looking him up and down, "Man, you haven't changed a bit!" Admittedly, it had been a while since Asia had actually seen her friend. When they had graduated and she had gone on to work with Strike Team Delta, leaving Grant Ward behind, she was worried he wouldn't forgive her. But they had stayed in touch, getting drinks whenever they were in fact in the same city. And from how things seemed, he didn't hold her advancements against her.

"Hey you haven't either. When are you going to grow as tall as me?" He teased, rubbing the top of her head fondly, messing up her soft brown hair. Turning back to face the other agents, Agent May nodded at the new arrival. "Agent Monroe, I'm glad Agents Romanov and Barton were able to spare you." And immediately the manners fell and the two hugged quickly. "How have things been since Bora Bora?"

"Good, good," Asia replied, "We all got a few bullet scars, but nothing time won't fix."

"Romanov and Barton?" The other guy whispered in a heavy Scottish accent, although his whisper, one that couldn't keep Asia from giggling, wasn't quite soft enough to keep everyone else from hearing. When it was obvious that everyone had heard his whispering to the pale girl next to him, he said in a louder voice, "You mean to say that you, you are the Agent training under, under Agents Romanov and Barton?"

Asia shrugged it off, "That would be me. But instead of calling me 'the agent' you can call me Monroe, or Asia if you want to be chummy." Her words were teasing, and polite enough, but she still felt slightly uncomfortable.

"I'm sorry, but holy shit, you don't get to just shrug that off!" The girl who looked like Mini-May spoke up. "That is ridiculously cool," she continued, stepping forward and extending a hand for her to shake. "My name is Skye, I'm new too, so we can figure out this whole thing together."

Asia bit back a response of saying she wasn't all that new, not to S.H.I.E.L.D. at least, and instead shook her hand, "It's nice to meet you, I'm Asia. And I'm glad I'll have someone here to go through all the newbie things with me."

"I'm Jemma Simmons," the last girl spoke up,with a lilting British accent, "I'm one half of the lab here, in charge of biochem." She shook her hand formally, with a very stiff arm and an almost too cheery smile.

"And she stitches us all up after missions go wrong," Ward interjected.

"What, you got a lot of missions going wrong?" Asia teased her old partner in crime, "Man, Ward, you're really slippin. What would you do without me?"

But instead of laughter, the room was uncomfortably silent. Apparently missions going wrong was a serious subject aboard the Bus. It was quiet enough to hear a pin drop.

Rescuing her, Skye spoke up, "Well, we can talk about missions later. Want me to show me your room?" Asia responded with a nod of enthusiasm, ready to get out of the situation as quickly as possible. Skye took her hand and lead her out of the room, down a surprisingly long hall for an airplane to have. "Sorry about that back there," Skye continued on, Asia finding herself enjoying the girl's chatty behavior. "We just had a really bad mission yesterday. You wouldn't be able to tell on first glance, but we all took it pretty hard. That's part of the reason you're here now, I think. We just need more man power. Or in our case, woman power."

"Well, I'm really glad to be a part of the team. I hope I can help you guys get what you need, but I'm seriously nothing special." The two twentysomethings stopped in front of a very inconspicuous door, with no windows and only a knob.

"Nothing special?" Skye turned to her, "You trained with two Avengers. That is incredible. I could never do what you do. All I do is hack things."

Asia shrugged, "What I do just takes training, really. I can show you some stuff, if you'd like. I'm sure you're learning a lot from Ward, he's your SO right? But there's some things I can show you that he might not." It was nice, the easy sense of familiarity between the two of them.

"I would really like that Asia, really. You'll do great here." Then, Skye gestured at the door. "This is you. Next to you is Fitz, and past him is me, then Jemma, then Ward, the May, then Coulson. The rooms are for the most part sound proof. I mean, if you go firing off a gun they'll hear it. But if you gotta punch a few things, scream a little, it's all okay. I'll be in my own room, so just come knock if you need me." With that, she turned and disappeared down the hall.

Asia stepped quietly into the room, flicking on a small light switch. The room was bare. The walls were patterned with an octagonal shape and were black as the night. Against the wall was a bed, a queen surprisingly, probably one of the favours Fury had called in for her, with white sheets and two pillows. Gone were the photos of all three Strike Team Delta members in various places, mostly with only Clint and Asia smiling, but occasionally with Nat giving a wry grin. Gone were the six pillows, no less ever, that she usually slept with, and the dark purple silk sheets. Gone were the vanilla candles and the soft reading lamp she usually kept next to her bed. She knew this was supposed to be something which she could adapt to, after all she had spent nights in far worse places during her advanced training, but she had slept in those places knowing the two people she trusted the most, the only family she had left really. Here, she had no one. There was nothing familiar at all. Closing the door behind her and shutting off the lights, she stepped over to the bed in the dark. Sitting on the edge, she put her head in her hands, and took Skye's advice: she let out the loudest scream she could manage.

Chapter Text

The last thing on Earth, or at least the last thing on the Bus, Leopold Fitz expected to hear from the comforts of his own room was a scream coming from the newly occupied room beside his own. Granted, it was muffled, but bloody hell that girl must have been screaming ridiculously loud for him to be hearing her whatsoever. And that got him to worrying. The odds weren't high, but what if someone had managed to sneak onto the Bus? Sighing, Fitz slid off of his bed where he had only just sat down with a soft covered book to read, after changing into a pair of flannel pajama pants and a white t-shirt.

Shuffling out of his room, the scientist padded the few steps down the hall the short distance to the new girl's room, stopping outside and pressing his ear against the door. Yep, the screaming was definitely coming from inside. It was as if her lungs went on forever, the way she never seemed to stop for breath. He looked down and noticed the entrance was still simply a doorknob. He would have to discuss with her an alternate form of entry, whether it be retinal, code, or fingerprinted. Sighing, he grabbed the handle and opened the door, greeting the complete darkness and the piercing scream. He quickly pulled the door shut behind him to keep the scream from penetrating the rest of the Bus, once he saw the Agent was in her room all alone. She was sitting on the edge of her bed, head in her hands, eyes squeezed shut, just screaming. Her screams were starting to die, and turn into little whimpers, and she didn't even seem to notice his arrival.

"Ahem," he quietly cleared his throat, hoping she would notice him, and he wouldn't have to reach out and tap her. He learned the hard way by sneaking up on Ward that that would be a one way ticket to a dislocated shoulder.

Asia looked up, eyes wide, cheeks turning deep red in immense embarrassment. How the hell had she not noticed someone entering her room, much less approaching her and turning on the light? "Oh dear God, I am so. So. sorry," she said quickly, hands covering her cheeks. Damnit. Damnit Damnit Damnit. This was the way to make a good first impression. She probably looked completely mental, sitting alone in a dark room screaming her brains out. "I, um, just wanted to check how soundproof it was."

"Well, I could hear you a bit from, from, next door," Fitz said, shoving his hands in the pockets of his plaid pants. "So it's not completely soundproof but...you shouldn't have to worry about anyone else. I'm the closest to you, physically speaking."

Asia blinked, averting her gaze from him back to her hands. "Well, I suppose that's good to know...." she trailed off, still trying to asses her level of embarrassment and whether or not she should threaten him into silence. Before she could speak, the engineer spoke first.

"Erm, if you don't mind me asking...Asia, is it? Yes, well. Is everything alright?" And suddenly it was his cheeks which were tinted red. "I mean, I know you were just testing out the sounds here but, just...just checking up on you. I know starting can be a little rough."

The brunette grinned and shook her head slightly, sighing. "I don't know if that's a can of worms you want to open...em, Leo, right? Can I call you Leo?"

"Leo is fine, most people call me Fitz if you'd prefer it," he shrugged, "And I don't mind opening your can of worms, I mean, that is, I don't mind listening. If you need someone to lean on, or, um, talk to, about things."

"Leo it is then," she said, scooting over on the edge of the bed. "You can sit, if you really want to listen...." she left the choice up to him. He could easily make an excuse and leave if he so chose. That would be the easy way out, really. She would take it, if roles were reversed. And she wasn't entirely sure why she felt the need to tell him anything whatsoever. Natasha would have raised an eyebrow at her and have said "You're not going to keep that to yourself?" Having too many feelings was a sign of weakness. But perhaps it was to fill the void Nat had left behind. Who knew how long it would be before she saw the rest of Strike Team Delta? While Natasha had warmed up to her in her own way, and Clint had always taken care of her like a younger sister, she knew if she ever was concerned or battling feelings, she could go to them and they would listen. Sometimes she needed that after missions. The things they saw, the things they did, Asia couldn't always push it away and never look back. And here, without her even asking for it, was someone offering to let her unpack, mentally. Perhaps he was more than a bumbling engineer she saw in the lab, close as could be with the girl named Jemma.

And, in continuation of her surprises this day, Leo sat down on the edge of her white bed, lacing his hands together in front of him and propping his elbows on his knees. Admittedly, part of her wondered if this was a trap. If it was, she was already analyzing the best way out of the situation, and she didn't doubt she could easily disarm the man next to her if need be. She wished that maybe sometimes she could turn off the constant worry about being betrayed or attacked. But that was not the life chosen for her, nor would it ever be the life of an assassin. She had stumbled down this path and now she had to walk it with confidence. "So, what's up?" He asked in his beautiful Scottish brogue. It was his voice, she decided, that calmed her.

Asia thought for a moment, pressing her lips together in a fine line. "I'm just...this is a big transition. I've been a part of Strike Team Delta for...five years now. I have lived and grown and slept next to and changed with Nat and Clint. They were the closest thing I've ever had to a family. And now I'm here, with no one,in this empty room with not a single one of my old things and I just feel like the walls are closing in, and now I've got no one left to have my back."

She could see Leo Fitz looking at her from the corner of her large brown eyes, but for a moment he didn't say anything. Perhaps he wasn't the confidant she was looking for. But after a moment, he did speak. "Erm, What happened to your family? If, if you don't mind me asking, that is. Don't mean to press into any matters in which I don't belong."

Asia was admittedly slightly taken aback by the question. People did not usually press into her past, a past which she id like to usually keep quiet. But it was too late now, she had taken out the stopper which was the only thing blocking the emotions she had bottled up. "They were killed when I was four. By HYDRA. I remember everything. I was hiding, in a cupboard, a secret place, that my parents told me to go if anyone ever came for us." And as she started speaking, it was immediately as if she were transferred back to that tiny cupboard, peaking through the smallest of cracks and watching her parents be slaughtered. "The worst part was they took my baby sister. She was only two, this cute little thing. She looked much more like my parents than I did. I heard them say, 'Where's the other girl?' and I thought that was the end for me. But another replied with, 'It doesn't matter, this is the only one we need.' And they left. I was so scared, I scrambled over to my mother's dead body, pushing my hands over the bleeding wound on her neck, putting on pressure. They taught me that, when I was little. That wounds needed to be pressured. And I remember thinking my dad would be so mad there was blood all over my dress, because he had to do the laundry. And thats when S.H.I.E.l.D. found me." She picture the agents filtering into the house, guns raised, but they were late, too too late.

A hand on her arm jolted her out of her trance from the past and instantly she was grabbing the arm and shoving the body against the wall, arm against his throat, before she remembered it was simply Leo. Blanching, she instantly moved back. "Oh God. I'm so sorry. You surprised me. I don't take surprises well all the time..." Now he must really think she was a freak. She could feel the prickle of tears starting to form in the corner of her eyes. No, no, she couldn't cry. Not on her damn first day. But this was all too much, the embarrassment, the emptiness, the memories of the past. "I am, seriously, so, so incredibly sorry."

But Leo didn't seem to take it all that negatively. "It's probably my own fault, shouldn't have surprised you like that. You did, um, look a little out of it there. Lost in the past. I know that can, uh, be a bit dangerous. It does not do to dwell on dreams."

"And forget to live," Asia finished the quotation he had begun, a smile coming over her face. "I appreciate you, Leo. Also, you and Jemma are rather cute together," she offered the compliment, testing the waters. This would be a good, concrete way, to find out if they were infact a couple.

The Scott's face immediately flushed," Oh, em, Jemma and I, we're, we're not, no, we're not together, I mean we spend time together, but, we're, we're not ah, any sort of couple. No. Just lab partners. And very good friends. But not dating, no." The way he stuttered caused Asia to laugh. It was cute, really.

"Just checking, Leo. You seemed very close, so I didn't want to keep you if you had a pretty girl to get back to." The brunette agent tucked a loose strand of long brown hair behind her ear, glancing over at him.

"Well, why would I have anywhere to go when I'm with a pretty girl right here, I mean, well, you are pretty, but that's not to say-" He began to get flustered once more.

"Shh," Asia replied, putting a finger over his lips to stop the talking. "Everything is fine. I appreciate you being here, and listening to me. But I am getting a little tired..." she leaned against the head of her bed with a yawn. "Not that I'll be able to get any rest with this extreme lack of pillows." She rolled her eyes, her tone slightly bitter.

"What's wrong with two pillows?" Leo asked her with a lopsided grin.

"Well, I usually sleep with six at the least. One being a pillow pet," Asia explained with a laugh. "This is a bit of a downgrade."

"Umm..just wait right here. One second. Don't go anywhere, ok?" Leo hopped up and was out of the room in a flash. In the time he disappeared, Asia quickly pulled off her skinny jeans and slipped into a pair of soft, pink, sleeping pants. When he returned, with three pillows in hand, he looked at her, eyebrows raised. "Wow, pink? You, uh,don't exactly seem like a pink girl."

"Oh stuff it," Asia rolled her eyes. "What are you doing with those?" She nodded at the pillows, raising one thin eyebrow.

"Oh, well, I figured you need your sleep, you know, if you're going to help out the team. And we do have a mission tomorrow," Leo explained, tossing the pillows lightly at her. "It doesn't get you to six but..it might help, I think."

"That," Asia beamed, while arranging the pillows, "Is the sweetest thing that's happened to me all week. Thank you, Leo. Really. You have literally been my savior all night."

"Oh, well, you're a hero during the day, I'm just, you know, trying to do my part." Leo explained with a shrug, and then he turned to head out the door.

"Where are you going?" Asia asked, stopping him in his tracks, her voice slightly drooping.

"Well, back to my room, so you can get some sleep?" He said, but it came out almost as a question, as he turned back to face her, a perplexed look in his soft eyes.

"I've got all your pillows, don't I? Wouldn't want you to sleep on a rockhard mattress," Asia said shyly. In truth, she just didn't want to be alone again, not the first night at least, in this dark, empty room. On missions, she was used to sleeping right next to one of her teammates, staying warm, while the third of them kept watch, kept them safe. It was clear Leo didn't expect this,or think of things in the same way as which she was,as his face immediately flushed red again. "Jesus, Leo, not like that! I just wanted a friend here. You are a friend, I think...so, just stay. Don't make it weird."

Leo sighed, shaking his head, before moving back towards the bed. "Do you like the inside or outside?" He asked.

Asia immediately scooted up against the wall. "Inside, definitely." She patted the spot next to her before laying down and pulling up the blankets around her, sighing into the pillows behind her. "ahh, so much better than just two." A content smile drifted over her sleepy lips, causing Leo to smile as well. "I'm going to sleep now, okay?" she said in a tired voice, rolling on her side so that she was facing him, her eyes still shut. "Thanks again, Mr. Leo Fitz." and with that, she was out like a light.

Chapter Text

Asia woke with a yawn, stretching and rolling over to find an empty bed beside her. Immediately she bolted upright, eyes racing over the room. The last time she had woken up with a fellow teammate missing from her side, Clint had been drugged and captured. The response was immediate panic, until the fogged glass door slid open and Leo Fitz entered the room, carrying too glasses of tea which steamed with warmth. Upon seeing him, seeing everything was okay, she sighed, taking a deep breath and focusing on slowing her heart rate.

"Good Morning," Leo greeted, holding out a cup of tea towards her. "You were out like a light, I didn't, um, want to ruin your rest."

"Well you scared the shit out of me," Asia admitted, "I don't like finding my teammates missing...it never turned out so well in the past. But thank you, for the tea." Taking the cup, she blew lightly at the surface, watching the waves ripple, before taking a small sip. Tea had never been her preferential drink, but Natasha loved it. This small kind act reminded her so much of her team.

"No problem, erm, Agent Monroe," Leo said with a shrugged, his hand brushing the back of his head nervously.

"Seriously, Leo, 'Agent Monroe?' Cmon," she rolled her eyes, "We're teammates. Call me Asia. Unless you're legitimately being required to call me Agent."

"Alright, er, Asia, well, Agent Coulson needs you in the briefing room..." Leo trailed off, "Something important for today's mission I suppose. You best be on your way, he doesn't take kindly to tardiness. And I've got to go down, er, to the lab. The lab, is where I'll be, if you need anything."

Running her hands through her long brown hair, Asia quickly pulled it up into a ponytail, her side swiped bangs hanging perfectly to the left,and then she smiled at Fitz. "Thanks, I'll head down there. And maybe I'll stop by the lab after, if there's time." She stood up and grabbed her bag from underneath the bed, rummaging through it for a pair of clean, black leather pants. Well, they appeared leather. They were technically S.H.I.E.L.D. issued heavy combat pants which both she and Natasha wore whenever in the field.

As Fitz turned to leave, he stopped in the door, putting a finger to his lips for a second, before saying, "And Asia...I put in a request, with Headquarters that is, to get some of your things sent here. To make it more 'homey' and whatnot."

A genuine smile crossed the assassin's lips. "Thank you Leo, I appreciate that. Really." Leo smiled back at her, then left. Asia quickly changed into her pants, then pulled her leather jacket, which had a red 'D' painted on the back, back over her tanktop and headed out the door, her combat boots surprisingly quiet on the floor in the way only someone trained to watch every move she made could walk.

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Meanwhile, in the briefing room, the beginnings of an argument were brewing. Coulson, Ward, and May all stood in various positions around a computerized table, discussing the practices for the days mission, when Coulson announced he was bringing Skye onto the team, permanently.

"Skye? Girl's not qualified to be a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent," Ward scoffed from across the table. "She's probably accidentally look down the wrong end of a barrel."

"Agreed, that's why she'll be a consultant," Coulson countered, "S.H.I.E.L.D. does it all the time, technically Stark is a consultant." He kept his voice rather calm. The computer in front of them beeped lightly. "Until she's qualified for anything more than that."

The two went on to discuss her qualifications, both arguing their side rather vehemently, while May watched on, observing the catastrophe in front of her and wondering once again why she had allowed Coulson to even force her into this position. That's why she would stay just the pilot. She would not take on the role of the Cavalry again.

"We have two kids on this Bus who aren't cleared for combat." May finally put forth, "You're adding a third. The numbers aren't exactly in our favour."

At least Fitz-Simmons are trained S.H.I.E.L.D. scientists. But Skye? You said this was a select team," Ward objected once more, placing his hands on the table in front of him, leaning forward.

"What do you think I'm here for?" Asia piped up from the doorway, where she casually leaned against the frame. She had been listening for several minutes, waiting for a moment to speak up. "I am here to even the field. Coulson has you, and, while I haven't seen you in action lately Ward, I'm sure you're fully capable of protecting those in need. I have been added to aid you with that, so we're not always taking the defense. With the two of us, we can have the offensive." She strode into the room, taking her own position in front of the table.

"Agent Monroe, glad you could finally join us," Coulson greeted, "You're five minutes late. Try to not make that a habit." The new Agent decided not to acknowledge this remark. "I'm calling this," Coulson continued, "But I'll take note of everything you have said."

"We've been called to investigate an 0-8-4," Ward announced, "We all know what that means."

"Yes we do," Coulson said, typing a few things into a tablet before handing it to May, "It means, we don’t know what that means."

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It wasn't long before the team was bouncing along the dirt roads of the Peruvian jungle. It was humid and sticky, and Asia was ridiculously grateful for the trucks air-conditioning. When they pulled to a stop, Coulson got out of the jeep in front of them, while May, Ward, Monroe, Skye, Fitz, and Simmons and pilled out of the black vehicle.

The three trained agents approached, forming a tight circle. "Tire tracks, 40 meters up the road. I’ll check them against the site’s trucks, make sure we’re not about to have any unexpected company" Ward said with a curt nod, glancing back the way they had just come.

" Too much exposure here, I’m going to find somewhere more secluded to keep the jeep," May said, heading back towards the vehicle.

"I guess that leaves me to scout ahead," Asia said, "Before our scientists get too far in front of us." Fitzsimmons, as Asia had found the group called them, was already moving towards the path that lead towards their destination. She stepped into a slight jog, moving quickly to get beside them, one hand of her S.H.I.E.L.D. issued Smith & Wesson M&P Compact handgun. She could already hear Fitz rambling on about monkeys which could be found in the jungles around them. Not wanting to interrupt their conversation, or bonding, or weird science-whatever they were doing,she simply fell in step beside them, not saying a word, simply scanning the area for anything out of place. Not that it was easy to notice anything out of place in a literal jungle.

As they moved down the jungle path, Simmons gave a gasp in shock, but not at anything surrounding them, rather, what was in front of them. There was a clearing made in the trees, giving way to a gigantic ancient temple, built layer upon layer like stairs. One could easily climb the whole expanse if needed. At the bottom of the structure, only a few steps up, is a carved entrance to the structure.

"Holy shit," Asia muttered under her breath, taking in the expanse. How many years had it been since someone had traversed the ancient structure? "Guys, give me one sec to check the perimeter, alright?"

Simmons narrowed her eyes slightly, but gave her a small nod, "Alright, safety first."

"Yes, safety, wouldn't want to get in the way of safety," Fitz added, giving her a small smile.

Asia gave them a small mock-salute before moving quickly but carefully around the clearing, checking for trip wires, cameras, and other hidden objects. "Clear," she called over after a couple of minutes, letting the scientists make their way into the clearing, Coulson and Skye not far behind. Asia took a sitting position, near the edge of the temple, gun at the ready, eyes still maneuvering over the area, watching out of the corner of her eye as Fitz and Simmons took a quick selfie with the temple as the background, just as a man in traditional archaeological gear exited the temple's opening. Coulson immediately stepped forward to speak with him, extending a hand to shake.

"Good morning, Professor. I’m Agent Coulson with S.H.I.E.L.D." Coulson explained, pulling out his badge for proof. "I understand you’ve made an interesting...discovery. We're here to see just what it is you've found."

The Professor nodded, crossing his arms over his chest, " I – I’m not sure how to explain it. This temple dates back at least 500 years. It’s filled with pre-Incan artifacts. One of them....there's no explanation for why it's here. It's not possible. And I believe that there is a great danger to it." His tone was clearly thick with worry.

"That's why we're here," Coulson replied, in a rather comforting tone, before moving to follow the Professor into the tunnel. Asia looked for Ward, meeting his eyes and giving him a quick nod, before standing up from her position and following Coulson, Fitsimmons, and Skye.

When they make it to a large room, the Professor stops and points at the wall. "There, exactly as we left it." On the wall is a small device which appeared ridiculously out of place surrounded by ancient rock and writing. The object looked rather technological, with a soft blue glow and what appeared to be wires running through it.

"Who else knows about this?" Coulson questioned the Professor, giving Asia a small nod. The Agent took a position next to the doorway, ready to protect her teammates at a moments notice.

"Just the ministry," The Professor responded quickly, " I believe they are the ones who made contact with you."

Coulson nodded, "Sir, I need you and your team to evacuate the site until we determine the risk associated with this object. As you said, it has the potential for danger. My team and I will asses and determine if it is safe for you to continue your dig here." As he explained this, Fitz was busy setting up a small troupe of drones which he had invented. Asia watched with interest as he tapped into a tablet, activating each one. The drones slowly rise one by one out of the box, one hovering near the Professor as he moves to leave.

"Leave the man alone," Simmons said towards the drone, which immediately turned from the man and buzzed over towards the 0-8-4. Asia watched in surprise. Were these drones voice activated, like Stark's technology? It was possible.

"Now," Coulson insists, moving towards the Professor to usher him out of the building, "For your own safety." As he exited, he glanced over at Asia, meeting her eyes with a look of understanding. Asia responded with an almost unnoticeable nod. She was to stay, to protect the three agents who could not do so themselves, at all costs.

"There's nothing on this anywhere," Skye said rather excitedly as she rapidly raced her fingers over the screen of her phone. "I searched every data stream . What do we got here, guys?" She stepped closer to the device and one of Fitz's drones.

"Whoa, car – uh, careful. I, erm, no I wouldn’t do that," Fitz said quickly, stopping her from touching the device. Skye glanced back at Fitz, then at Asia. Asia gave a small shrug, not understanding his protectiveness of the small bug any more than she did.

"The object’s placement is fossiliferous rock formation suggests it’s been here for at least 1,500 years." Simmons explains, "That pre-dates this temple, as the Professor said outside. Ah! Maybe it’s alien! An artifact of somesort, left behind for us to find." Her tone is incredibly excited, a smile lighting up her face. She looked over at Fitz, glad he shared a smile of excitement as well, but he didn't meet her glance, for he is busy reading information from his drones on the tablet.

"Yeah, but the shape and craftsmanship," Fitz trails off, "It's almost..German...World War Two era, if I'm not mistaken."

Asia's ears perked up at the word 'German.' Now Germany, and their tech, that was one thing she had some experience with. The Nazi's had done a lot more than cause war, they had created crazy technological advances, ones most people had never heard of.

Suddenly, from outside, there was yelling. Immediately, Fitz, Simmons, and Skye, all turned to face Agent Monroe, who already had one hand on her gun, and the other braced outward with a knife, ready to take down anyone who walked through the door. "Keep doing your thing, guys, don't mind me, or them. No one is going to interrupt your work." She strained her ears, listening for the sounds outside, trying to distinguish the yells. There was the sound of tires pulling up, shouts in English and in Spanish, but no gunfire just yet.

"Are you seeing this?? It's...it's like its alive," Fitz exclaimed, rapidly typing away at his tablet, occasionally glancing nervously at the doorway, then at Asia, then back to his work.

"What? Like, alive, alive? " Skye says, eyes wide. It was clear she hadn't experienced anything quite like this before. None of them had, but at least the previous SHIELD agents were prepared for the unknown. For Skye, everything had a brand new touch.

"It has a functioning power source, one that's still working after all this time," Fitz explained, and he and Simmons went to explain more techno-babble to Skye, but Agent Monroe was far too focused on the doorway to listen too intently. Even though Agent Coulson had radioed moments before, saying that everything was under control, Asia wasn't about to let her guard down.

Suddenly, a figure moved into the entrance without any warning. With the quickest of responses, Asia lunged forward, using one leg to sweep the man off of his own feet, toppling forward, then using her leg to flip the man's body face up, straddling him, knife to his neck.

"Jesus Christ, Monroe!" Ward exclaimed, gritting his teeth, "I give, I give."

Blanching, Asia quickly climbed off of him, sheathing her knife. "Sorry, Ward, sorry, you didn't give any warning, I just...reacted." It was, sort of, his own fault.But that didn't make it any less embarrassing. The other three agents were staring at her wide eyed, but she pretended not to notice.

Ward stood up, dusting himself off, "We've got company. National police caught wind of the situation."

"Why are they here?" Simmons asked immediately.

"They’re probably here to protect that," Ward explained, putting his hands on his hips for a moment, nodding over at the glowing object, before walking over to the device to get a good look at it himself. "This area has a lot of rebel uprisings."

"Yeah, people are fighting back against the government’s mining policies and unfair regulations. It’s pretty kick ass." Skye said, crossing her arms, smiling for the first time in a few minutes. Thanks to the web, this was something she knew all about. Finally, an area in which she could speak up.

Ward scoffed, looking back at her, "Yeah, it’s kick ass, all the violence."

"That's not what I'm saying," Skye objected, a frown seeping across her lips.

"No, that’s what you’re typing. In your van, alone, where it’s safe, like everyone on the internet. People hide behind their screens and promote violence that they don't even see, much less really experience," Ward said which a narrow of his dark eyes, before turning to the two scientists, "How much longer?"

"What's the hurry?" Simmons asked as she typed away at her own tablet, trying to record as much data as possible before they were forced to leave.

"Are we in danger?" Fitz asked at almost the same time, their accents, though both foreign and from nearly the same area, clashing in Asia's ears.

"Well...Not if everyone does their job," Ward replied, pointedly looking at Skye, "What is yours, exactly?" It was almost cruel in the way he said it, and there was no need to poke the bear.

"Ward!" Agent Monroe objected, "Don't cross the line." She always had known Ward to be a little harsh, but in her opinion, that was too far. He may not think Skye had much to offer right now, but that didn't mean she wouldn't in the future. There was no reason to crush someone's optimism out of sheer spite. But it was too late, Skye was already looking down at her feet with embarrassment.

Ward turned towards Asia, ready to give her a sharp response, when an explosion from outside interrupted the agents' building verbal fight. Gun fire and screams followed in rapid succession.

"Rebels?" Asia asked quickly, glancing at Ward as she reached towards her belt.

"Probably. Sounds like they're engaging, and we're on the wrong side of that firefight" Ward replied, and in unison, both agents' drew their guns. "They're coming for us, let's move!" Ward barked out the orders.

Asia was immediately drawn into the rush of a battle. When she was in a fight, it was as if her senses were all heightened. Not in the sense of adrenaline, like most people, but as if her body was built to engage in battle, built for nothing else but the stimulation and movement it brought.

Fitz quickly began to put away the drones and their equipment, while Simmons and Skye moved to help. "No, no,no, no!" Fitz exclaimed, rearranging each item they had touched.

"It doesn't matter!" Skye shouted,clearly frustrated and freaked out over the shootout happening just outside. This was absolutely not what she had prepared for. She had no weapon of her own, no way to defend herself, nothing but a reliance in the two Ops Agents before them.

"It does to me!" Fitz shouted back, face growing red with a mix of embarrassment and frustration.

"Guys, we don't have time!" Asia directed at the three of them, eyes narrowed. Skye backed off and let the scientists quickly pack up the rest of their equipment.

"We need some sort of containment case for the 084, unless you plan to leave it behind," Simmons called out, her voice surprisingly calm for someone who wasn't combat trained.

Both of the field agents stared at her like she had lost her marbles. "Are you insane?" Asia asked. "How are we supposed to get that out of here? We don't even know what it does/."

"We do not have the time!" Ward said in almost exact pace as his partner's words.

"But, it has a fluctuating power core, possibly unstable," Fitz began to explain, before another explosion rocked the room, causing bits of debris to fall from the ceiling.

Ward turned from Asia, walking quickly towards the device. "Sorry, but science class is over. Like I said. We. Don't. Have. Time." He grabbed the device in both hands, tugging with all of his strength.

"Woah!" Fitz exclaimed, "Woah woah woah woah, what the bloody hell are you doing?" followed be equal outbursts from Simmons and Skye.

"Ward!" Agent Monroe shouted, "What the shit?"

Fitz continues to protest as the device begins to give into Ward's power, creaking and grinding, causing rubble to slip from the ancient walls, finally coming. Ward quickly moves towards the rest of them, searching for an empty bag. Asia stared at him, wide eyed, then back at the entrance.

"You did not just pull that out of the wall! What is the matter with you?!?" Fitz exclaims as Ward put the device into an empty duffel, "Do you realize we do not know what it's emanating? What this power core is doing?" Ward shoved him towards the entrance, cutting off the Scott and earning a harsh glare from Monroe. Fitz picked up the bag and slung it over his shoulder, following Ward's lead.

"Stay close," Ward ordered, moving first out the tunnel, "Monroe, I've got point. You cover from behind." The brunette Agent nodded, waiting as Simmons, then Skye, filed out of the tunnel, followed by Fitz, whom she gave a quick nod and a reassuring smile, before following him.

From within the tunnel, she heard Ward call out, "Get down!" and she immediately hit the floor, bracing for some sort of impact. A shockwave of blue energy rippled above them, and as soon as it disappeared, the train of agents were up and running once more. When they all made it to the outside, in the sunshine once more, the five agents froze, surprised to see a rebel still standing. He raised his gun to fire, when out of nowhere, May's tinted vehicle whipped through the trees, stopping directly in front of the man's four bullets.

"Get in! Get in!" Ward orders, climbing into the passenger seat. Asia followed behind, waiting for Skye, then Simmons, then Fitz to climb into the vehicle. As Fitz was entering, Asia heard the distinct click of a trigger.

"Watch out!" Agent Monroe shouted, jumping forward and shoving Fitz into the vehicle, as the burn of a bullet ripped through the flesh on the outter right of her arm. "Shit. Shit fuck shit." She cursed, raising her gun towards the jungle with her left hand and firing three shots in response before climbing quickly into the car and yanking the door shut, wincing in pain.

"Monroe's been hit," May announced over the comms in her unusually calm voice. "You okay back there?" She asked, peeling out of the temple clearing down a bumpy dirt path, Coulson's car following close behind.

"Not the worst I've had," Asia replied, gritting her teeth and pulling off her jacket. The leather was covered in blood, which made the Agent surprisingly angry. "That was my favourite fucking jacket."

"You saved my life," Fitz murmured. "Are you going to be alright?" He looked over at her, concern creasing over his brow.

"Don't lose your head over it," Asia replied, reaching under the seat for a blanket, a shirt, anything. Finding a w tshirt, she took it and quickly ripped a strip off, wrapping it around the would and pulling it tight with her teeth. "May, I've got a bullet would to the lower portion of my upper right arm, right being my dominant arm. Bleeding, Looks mostly like a graze, could be fragments left in the wound."

"Copy that Monroe. You going to have any issues before we get to the Bus?" May replied, glancing over at Ward.

"No. I'll be fine as long as I don't take a few more hits. The bumps aren't the most ideal though," She said, trying to add a little humour to the situation. The road was as bumpy as one would expect a jungle road to be, tossing the four agents crammed in the back all over.

"Slow down!" Fitz insisted, grabbing onto Asia in a poor attempt to keep her from smashing against the wall of the vehicle.

"You're joking, right?" Skye exclaimed, "There's men with guns, lots of guns, right behind us. We need to haul ass."

"Ward, listen, we have to be careful. The 084, it has a heat source. The energy from the power core is unstable. I didn't even finish getting a complete reading on the output." Fitz said, leaning forward and attempting to reason with the ravenhaired agent, but the concept seemed to be lost on him.

"I could open a window?" Simmons suggested excitedly, "Get some fresh air in here?" Reaching to her left ,she tried to tap the automatic button. A barrage of bullets from the rebels pounded against the car, all four agents shouted in alarm.

"Do not open the damn window!" Agent Monroe ordered.

Ward glanced back at Asia, then turned to May, giving her directions to quickly maneuver out of the jungles and to the Bus, but it appeared the rebels were following them move for move. The Bus came into view and Asia sighed in relief, reaching down to touch her makeshift bandage, her fingers coming away sticky with blood.

"Um, just as an update, still bleeding a lot. Vision still in tact, no blurriness, not much pain. Still on an adrenaline high. But," she paused, "I would love someone to properly bandage this soon."

"I'll take care of it," Simmons responded in a rather cheery tone, trying to stay light in the intense situation, "Fix you up right away."

The SUV drove up the ramp of the Bus and screeched to a halt, the agents piling out. Asia pushed Fitz and the device in front of the vehicle, ordering him to stay down as she held up her gun with her left hand. A moment later, Coulson jogged up the ramp, with a beautiful, tan woman in camo and a few soldiers. "Close up!" He ordered, and the ramp pulled quickly shut, as the starting of the engines could be heard. May must already be in the cockpit.

When the ramp was closed, Ward, Simmons, Fitz, Skye, and Monroe moved closer together, the two field agents putting away their weapons. "Now, what was your problem?" Ward asked Fitz with a frown, glancing at the duffel bag with the device, which had been placed inbetween all of them.

"As I said before, this device has a high-frequency, fluctuating, sub-material compression," Fitz began, but Asia touched his shoulder lightly, stopping him.

"Fitz, we don't understand your science talk," She said softly. "Maybe explain it in a little...looser terms?"

"The 084 is fueled by the Tesseract technology. Hydra. World War II. Captain America. The same that Tony Stark and his father have tried to harness," He said once more, in simpler terms. "It’s full of lethal amounts of gamma radiation, more gamma radiation than what changed Bruce Banner."

"Gamma..." Ward trailed off, "You're saying it's nuclear?"

"No," Coulson said from nearby, "He's saying...it's much, much worse."

Slowly, the agents all backed away from the device in front of them,a sense of dread hanging low over all of them. The soft blue light of the device seemed to permeate the fabric of the duffle, dancing in front of them eerily.

Chapter Text

The events which followed occurred faster than Asia could have ever expected them. What was initially a reunion between Coulson and one of his old friends, turned into Fitz being held at knife point, gun fire, the side of the Bus blown out, and Ward nearly dying if it weren't for Skye's quick ingenuity. It left the entire team exhausted, but it also left them with a bond, a link. They had survived, together, and only with the help of each other. It made them finally, completely, well, completely enough, into a team ready for missions. After Simmons had patched up Asia's bullet wound, she and Leo had left to get something or other. Asia hadn't paid much attention, for May was clearly beckoning her over.

" Looks like Skye might end up as more than a consultant, despite our reservations." Ward said as he handed an empty suitcase to his old classmate for her to start packing.

"I didn't doubt her nearly as much as you," Asia teased, beginning to carefully fill the suitcase, "Girl's got spunk. Plus, if you remember, she sort of saved your ass back there."

May simply nodded, bending over and picking up a gun, shifting its weight before placing it in a crate.

"She could be an asset..." Ward admitted, "With a lot of training. And, she didn't 'save my ass,'" he used air quotes,"We might not have even been in this situation if she weren't out there." Monroe simply rolled her eyes. It would take a lot for Ward to admit anyone had saved him.

"Well, if she wants to be a field agent, she’ll need a supervising officer, someone disciplined, someone good, someone who knows their stuff, and isn't afraid to take someone from ground level and build them up," May finally said, glancing back and forth between the two field agents.

Asia immediately glanced at Ward and slowly slid away from him. She was not about to take on someone else's training, not with everything in her world changing so abruptly. "That is all you, Ward," she said sheepishly. In truth, while she would like to train Skye as best she could, she was worried she would screw it up. She had never been responsible for anyone's complete training. Yet, in the hall that first day, she had made an offer to teach the girl a thing or too, and she intended to keep that.

Ward straightened up, looking back and forth between the two female agents who stood on either side of him, before finally saying, "Alright. I'll do it." And the three commenced packing once more. Asia slowed only slightly as she saw Fitz and Simmons come back down the spiral stairs of the Bus, carrying a large, blue cooler. Simmon's had an open beer in her hand. Asia bet it didn't take her all too much to get intoxicated. She didn't exactly look like she had a tolerance. Thanks to Natasha, Agent Monroe had built a huge tolerance for vodka, particularly Russian vodka, but she had a good beer with Clint from time to time as well.

As the two scientists passed, Leo stopped and turned, placing a hand lightly on Asia's shoulder. "Come on, you guys don't want to miss this," he said to all of them, but he met the special op's agent's gentle brown eyes with his stormy blue ones, and smiled, before turning and following Jemma to the edge of the Bus' ramp, sitting down and setting the cooler between them.

Absentmindedly, Asia rubbed the spot where his hand had just been, before glancing back at May and Ward, then walking over towards Leo and sitting beside him, legs dangling over the edge. He looked over at her and smiled, reaching into the cooler and handing her a cool, brown bottle. She took it,popping it open, and looked down at the bottle cap. It was small and gold, with a little blue wave on it. She tucked it gently into the pocket of her pants to deal with later.

"How's your arm? I mean, that bullet wound," Leo asked, taking a sip from his beer.

Asia shrugged, "That is probably one of the least painful bullet wounds I've had. I'd take it again, if I had to." And she meant it, in both aspects. The bullet was really nothing, by far not the worst she had received on her many missions with the Strike Team. And to keep Leo from getting hit, her first new friend here, she would do it again. Not that this was a big deal, really. Protecting her friends, those she cared about, was one of her biggest priorities. She couldn't protect her little sister, the least she could do was protect them.

From behind them, a small radio crackled. "Oh, it's time for blastoff!" Leo said excitedly, turn to face the horizon.

"Where am I looking exactly?" Asia asked, squinting at the horizon. Reaching over, Leo grabbed her hand, making it into a pointer finger and gesturing it in the right direction.

"Just follow that line of sight,but you won't need to in a moment." He then pinched his nose, dropping his voice into a nasally announcer's tone, " Launching in three, two…"

In front of the team, a bright light appears, propelling a long rocket upwards from the ground. Asia's mouth dropped open, her hand falling back to her side.

"The trajectory will take it beyond the Lagrange Point so that it doesn’t hit Herschel," Leo explained beside her, Jemma tagging on " And there haven’t been any coronal mass ejections, so it shouldn’t lose telemetry."

Asia didn't mind that she could not understand what the two of them were saying, she could hear the happiness in both of their voices, and in turn she found herself smiling as she took another sip from her beer. As desolate as things had felt yesterday, today was completely different. Today, things were promising, hopeful even. As she finished her beer, setting it on the ramp beside her before cracking open another, she thought perhaps it was simply the faintest of buzzes she was feeling that was causing this sense of content, but then she glanced over at her team. Jemma was laughing, clearly already tipsy, watching the rocket with enthusiasm. Ward and May stood behind them, exchanging a glance knowingly, slight smiles on both of their lips. And Leo, he was watching the sky, but when he felt Asia's gaze upon him, he turned to look at her. When their eyes met, she smiled. Yea, she was going to be just fine here.

Chapter Text

The weeks with the team had been adding up on one another, mission after mission unfolding with a pretty high success rate. The team was beginning to behave as such: an actual team. A team which could help one another and have each other's backs. Asia had become rather close to Skye, Leo, and even Jemma, although Jemma still seemed to keep an odd distance from her. Still, the four of them spent much time together in the lab, even when they weren't working on a case.

This morning, however, Asia was working on her normal workout routine. She spent a minimum of an hour beating at a punching bag, and afterwords she would run on the treadmill for at least an hour as well. Beating at the punching bag was one of her favourite activities, it allowed her to let out the raw emotions she so often kept bottled up. She would punch and kick and punch that bag until, at some points, it completely broke apart. That was one of the most satisfying feelings. She had put on a white tank top and some black leggings, earbuds jammed in her ears, the music blocking out everything around her as she hammered away at the punching bag.

"What do you think she's listening to? Well she, erm, punches all of that?" Leo Fitz asked from within the Lab, where he leaned against one of the tables. Jemma looked up from one of her test tubes, studying the brunette figure outside of the room.

"Probably something very intense, from the look of things." She muttered in response, going back to moving a liquid from one test tube to another.

"Well," Skye said from behind her computer screen, "There is only one way to find out for sure." She wiggled her eyebrows mischievously, before she began to type rapidly at her keyboard. "I can just hack into her iPod, and we can listen for ourselves. Anyone want to take bets at what it'll be?"

"I would say it's some of that nasty screemo where you can't tell what the words are" Jemma offered up, stopping her work to watch Skye.

"Something intense, but not crazy," Leo suggested, "Hollywood Undead or, um, some sort of rap. Possibly."

"Well, now is the moment of truth..." Skye said, pausing, before hitting the key, music flooding the room. It was anything but what they expected, causing the three to burst out laughing. "It..it says..it's called the Elizabethan Serenade!" Skye said between laughs.

"Ballet music?" Jemma snorted, "She listens to ballet music while doing that?"

Leo couldn't help but laugh as well, stuffing his hands into his pockets and watching the agent who was separated from them by a sheet of glass sheepishly.

Agent Asia Monroe had no idea that several feet away her friends were giggling uncontrollably. She just kept hitting away at the bag until suddenly, from nowhere, Ward came up behind the bag, applying full force to stop her violent bashing. Asia jumped back, pulling the headphones out of her ears. "Ward! Jesus, watch yourself. I wouldn't want to hit you on accident."

Ward shrugged, smiling sheepishly, "Nah, you wouldn't have hit me, I wouldn't have let you," he teased, before stepping away from the punching bag. "I'm going into the Lab to discuss some things with Fitz...wanna come with?"

Asia exhaled, brushing back her bangs from her face. "Yea, sure, I can come with you," she replied then, trying to keep the light blush off of her cheeks. In the past few weeks, she and Fitz had become quite close, although she was rather positive she was the only one who had an inkling of feelings toward the other. But, even as small as the crush was, just beginning really, Ward had picked up on it instantly. He knew her too well. It was almost annoying how well.

"Thought so," he said with a light grin, before turning and leading the way into the Lab, Asia following behind him, carefully wrapping the bandages off of her hands as she did so, taking practiced inhales and exhales and composing herself in the methods Natasha had taught her.

Ward entered first, and Asia followed him, moving to sit by Skye, perching lightly atop her desk and sitting crisscross. She looked down at Skye and smiled. The other agent seemed to have a mischievous glint on her face. "What's so funny?" Asia asked her, brow furrowing.

"Oh, nothing, nothing," Skye said, quickly shutting her laptop screen. Asia raised an eyebrow at her, but it was clear Skye was playing around and there couldn't be anything serious going on. "How was the, you know, punching thing?" Skye asked.

"Oh, the bag really fought back today," Asia joked, "Almost got me right in the face." The two girls shared a smile, but their playful banter was interrupted by Ward and Fitz, seemingly having a rather intense disagreement.

"Sorry, Fitz. It’s close, but it’s just not right. I need perfection if I'm going to use this in the field," Ward said, placing the latest version of the Night-Night gun down on the table in front of him.

"Really?" Leo Fitz asked, crossing his arms over his chest and glancing back at Skye and Asia, "Cause Agent Coulson had no problems. I don't hear Agent Monroe complaining either."

Ward sighed, shaking his head, "It's an ounce too heavy." Asia had to hold back a snort of laughter. An ounce? God she had missed this ridiculous man.

"An ounce, seriously?" Skye interjected, the disbelief apparent on her face. She had no buffer for hiding her emotions yet, and Asia made note of this for something to try and train her on later. It helped in some of the best and worst situations. "How the hell do you even know?"

Ward flicked his gaze over to Skye, giving her a steady glare, before turning back to Fitz. He picked the gun up once more and shifted it from hand to hand, taking the weight of it. "It’s the difference between success and failure. When you’re on a roof top building, lets say, with a headwind of 20 miles per hour. Your target is 500 meters away and you only have this gun to take him down---"

"Yea but we have a rifle," Leo interjected, pointing at the weapons rack behind Ward.

Ward looked at him steadily, not speaking for a moment. The silence was uncomfortably heavy in the room, until finally he said, "Just lose the ounce." He gave Asia one last look, before turning and walking out of the room. Agent Monroe made no move to go after him.

"'Lose the ounce,'" Leo mimicked, turning back to Asia and Skye, dropping his voice lower and taking on a hysterical American accent. " I’m Agent Grant Ward…" He squats into a stance of an old Western gun slinger, "I can shoot the legs off a flea from 500 yards…" He then dropped the accent and straightened up, "As long as it's not windy."

Asia and Skye immediately burst into laughter, Asia so much so that she nearly rolled right off the desk she sat upon. It was nice to hear Skye happy again.

"There's a familiar sound, haven't heard it in a while," Agent Monroe said, looking down at Skye with a gentle smile. After what had happened the week before, and Skye being tagged with the SHIELD tracking band, which kept track of her every move.

"Yeah, well, you wouldn’t be laughing a whole lot if you were living in Ward’s doghouse," Skye said with a sigh, her shoulders drooping slightly "I know he's your friend and all, but he can be a real dick some times." Asia looked up and met Leo's gaze.

"You made the rounds, apologized to us all, too many times if you ask me. What more does he want?" Leo said, offering a sense of comfort.

"Yea, I mean, I love Ward, don't get me wrong," Asia began, "But he can be a stubborn ass. He needs to let it go."

"I mean, I know I lied to you guys, I get it. Trust is the base of a team. But I was trying to protect my... I guess my ex-boyfriend." Skye frowned slightly.

"Hey, we all make mistakes," Leo said, leaning against the table beside him.

"Who cares about your ex-boyfriend?" Asia and Leo both asked at the same time, then both looked at each other, surprised at the synchronization.

Skye stood from her chair and started to pace back and forth, "It’s not like I’m comparing Ward to Miles, but at least with Miles, I didn't have to deal with him being a passive-aggressive dick. He'd just say what he was thinking, good or bad. There were no mind games, and certainly no dog house-ing."

Neither Leo nor Asia said a word, letting Skye talk it all out. It was clear she had some pent up frustration over the entire situation. "We were on the same wavelength, you know? He got me."

Asia nodded, "I completely understand that." She wasn't sure she entirely meant it, but she wanted to be sympathetic.

"Yea, yea," Leo added on, "A bit like we do." He glanced over at Asia with a quick smile.

"Totally. You and Simmons are so tight, it’s like your minds are linked together," Skye nodded appreciatively.

Asia's smile dropped only slightly, and only for a second. Someone would have been needing to watch her every movement to even catch it. Apparently she had misread what Leo had been saying, which was her own mistake.

"No, you…No. Actually.. I meant As-" Leo began, when suddenly Jemma's voice could be heard moving towards the Lab. The three of them swiveled to face the door she would soon be walking through.

"So, Ward was here? Let me guess, the night-night pistol again? It's always one thing or another. Never pleased, that one." Jemma stated when she entered, typing away at her tablet.

"Yea," Fitz said, suddenly remembering the task at hand, "He thinks the gun is off by an ounce. Literally."

Simmons scoffed and was about to continue on, when Ward reentered the room. The four of them turned to face him, wondering what he could possibly desire now. Asia gave him a small wave from her position on the table. As hard as Ward was on them, and likewise the others on him, Asia still respected the hell out of him, and was grateful for his friendship. She trusted him with practically anything, and especially so with her life.

"Hey, hustle upstairs, bring your packs. We're going on a mission," He said, moving so that he was in a circle with the rest of them. It was hard for everyone to keep a straight face, what with Fitz' impression and the ridiculousness of the ounce request. Ward, as perceptive as he was, of course did not miss this. "Find something funny?" He asked, crossing his arms over his firm chest.

"Oh no, just poor, silly Fitz," Jemma said, picking up the handgun from the table and extending it to Ward. "He left a dummy round in the gun. Should be all good and proper now, no imbalance issues or anything. Try it, you'll see the ounce is gone."

Ward delicately took the gun from her, he always had been very careful with his weapon handling, and shifted the weight in his palm. Suddenly, he jerked it up to look through the sites, as if preparing to shoot. Asia had to bite back a laugh.

"Great. I appreciate it, thanks for taking my request seriously," Ward said after a moment, before turning and exciting the Lab. The four remaining agents turned to one another and burst out laughing. The gun, of course, had not been changed one bit.

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Asia was in her room, changing after a brisk shower, when she heard a knock at her door. "Come in," she called out, adjusting the hem of her white tank top to keep it from being too revealing, and pulling her hair up into a high ponytail. She turned, surprised to see Coulson there. She was expecting Fitz or Skye, or possibly even Ward. Those were the three people who usually visited her. "Phil. What can I do for you?"

"I just wanted to check in with you," Phil said, leaning against her doorway, wearing his usual suit attire. "See how things are going."

"Everything is great," Asia replied, looking around her room which now had several of her photos hung upon the wall, and her usual pillows piled on the bed. "Fitz requesting some of my items really helped . I owe him one."

"And have you been feeling comfortable with everyone? Fitting in just fine? I know you've been beating up quite a few innocent punching bags recently," Phil said, raising an eyebrow at her.

Asia shrugged, looping her thumbs through the belt buckles on her SHILED issue combat pants. "Yea, everything is great. I just like to keep up with my fighting routine. It's what Nat and Clint taught me, I don't want to lose their traditions I guess. I owe them a lot really, everything. Not to say i'm not honored to be here," she rushed, "Because I am. 100%. I love the team, and the opportunity. They are just..family."

"I completely understand," Phil replied, "And I know how important family is to you." Of course he knew about her family, her past. He was a senior ranking officer after all. "And," he continued, "I hope you can find that sense of friendship here as well. Oh, that reminds me...." he trailed off, tossing a small package into the air, directly at her face.

With lightning reflexs, Asia snagged the package out of the air. "What's this?"

"Oh, just something Nat sent along. She's terribly upset you could have forgotten it." Coulson winked before exiting the small room.

Asia sat down on the edge of her bed, slowly peeling back the packaging around the small bundle, until two wrist bands were revealed. They appeared much like Natasha's Widow's Bites, but were different. The bands were plain and black, with none of the Widow's modifications. Instead, they had a small trigger which cause knives to protrude from the end of them, long enough that if she were to make a fist, the knife could be used to both stab and slash. They had been a gift from Strike Team Delta about two months prior to her departure, a combat tool that fit in well with Asia' style. Smiling, the agent slipped them over her wrists, comforted by the secured feeling and the sense of home.

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Of course, the first person Asia wanted to show her latest tech to was Leo. She rushed down to the Lab once more after she was all suited up--wearing her tight combat pants, boots, and a black longsleeved v-neck. Her leather jacket, now with a patch on the arm, hanging over one shoulder. "Leo!" She called out, bounding into the Lab, "You'll never guess what--"

"Shh!" She was interuppted, hushed severely by Jemma, who was working once more at moving a liquid from one test tube to another with great concentration.

"Shit, shit, sorry," Asia whispered, sliding quietly past the scientist and moving to the back corner where Leo was tinkering with a weapon. "Hey," she greeted, still in a hushed tone, "I wanted to show you something."

Leo looked up, a soft smile on his face. He had a pair of clear saftey glasses perched on his nose, which he took off after setting down the small tools he was using. "Safety first," he joked, indicating the glasses, "Now what was it? Oh I hope it's something good!"

"I think you'll find it appealing enough," she said, before sliding one of her wristlets off and handing it to him, gently slipping it around his own wrist. "Now, I want you to very carefully make a fist, and as you do, apply pressure right here to your palm," she said, grabbing his other hand to indicate the location. "Do it carefully, though. Wouldn't want you hurting yourself." Her tone was teasing, but the message was anything but.

Slowly, Leo did as she had instructed, his eyes widening as the lethally sharp knife shot out of the wristlet, the edge glinting beyond his knuckles. "Jesus Christ, Asia. Bloody...where did this come from??"

"I'll give you ten guesses, but the first nine don't count," The brunette agent teased, leaning forward on the counter in front of her, smiling.

"Well, judging by the, erm, inprint here, that little 'STD' I'm going to take a stab at it and say your old teammates. Get it? take a stab?" Leo joked.

Asia snickered and nodded, "A gift from Nat and Clint. Pretty neat huh?"

"Incredible, really, I'm going to have to take this apart some time. Is that okay? you don't mind that right? I'll put it all back together afterwards," Leo began to ramble.

"Of course that's okay, as long as you put it back together," Asia said with a laugh, "And maybe we can get it put back even better than it was before...think of all the things we could do!"

"Oh, I'm already drawing up plans in my mind!" Leo proclaimed in his beautifully accented voice. Before he could continue on, an announcement was made over the speakers that they were touching down and that they all needed to prepare to deplane. "Erm, how do I get the knife back in?" Leo asked.

"Same way you got it out, just apply a little pressure," Asia explained. Leo did as she instructed and the knife shot back inside of the wristlet, which Leo carefully took off of his arm. Grabbing Asia's small hand in his, he gently fastened the wristlet back around her. "Never know when you're going to need this," he said softly, both of the SHIELD agents acutely aware at their proximity to one another. Asia felt her cheeks tint pink for a second.

"Fitz!!" Jemma's call broke the silence between them and Asia jerked away, pulling her hand from his grasp.

"Erm, I better go see what she needs," Fitz muttered, "I'll see ya on the ground, yea?"

"Yea," Asia whispered, "That sounds good to me." She watched him leave, rubbing her hand and wrist where his grasp had just been, but she couldn't seem to make the tickles of electricity disappear.

Chapter Text

The forest in which the were trecking was rather beautiful, well, without the sense of foreboding which hung in the air like a heavy musk. The sun was shining just barely through the dense leaves, and Asia felt rather calm here, compared to the rapidity with which her heart had been beating only an hour in previous. She was almost so distracted by the beauty that she nearly missed what Coulson was saying.

"Troop Leader’s name was Adam Cross. Apparently he said he heard something in the woods, went to check it out. It was late at night, and he wanted to make sure nothing was out there that would cause harm to the scout's. That’s where the electrostatic anomaly occurred," He explained, pointing over at an old truck which still had a little bit of smoke trickling out of the hood.

Ah yes. The boy scout troop. That's why they were here. The boy scout troop leader who had ended up dead. Asia snapped out of her daydream when she felt the weight of someone's gaze upon her. Expecting it to be May or Coulson, preparing to reprimand her for getting lost in her thoughts, she attempted to make it appear as if she were surveying the land. When she glanced over to see who was gazing at her, her chocolate eyes melded with icy blue and she locked glances with Leo. Quickly she turned back away. If she ignored this issue long enough, their friendship would go back to the way it should be...right? It would have to.

Then, from almost right behind her, she heard him speak, almost causing her to jump, if she were not a well trained SHIELD Ops Agent.

"What I don’t understand is, usually, they’re caused by a massive electrical storm, thunder, lightning, all of that," He addressed the entire team, but Asia could swear she could feel his breath on her neck.

"But there wasn’t a storm within a thousand miles of here last night... The sky was perfectly clear." Simmons mused, looking at the trees above them, biting her lower lip ever so slightly. "Bet you could see the stars just perfectly from here..."

"This anomaly is different, it has a side effect we’ve never seen before," Coulson replied, "One that makes it worth our team flying all the way out here. Trust me."

"What sort of anomaly?" Asia asked, watching May walk over to inspect the destroyed truck. "084 worthy?"

"Definitely an 084," Coulson replied, "But the rest, you're just going to have to wait and see...and trust me, it's worth the wait. You've never seen anything like this before." He began to walk off, and Asia, with one glance back at Jemma and Leo as she wiggled her eyebrows in excitement, turned to follow him, skipping slightly until she was back at his side.

"Gotta love a good 084," She said with a slight smile, "Keeps things interesting."

"You know, you were an 084, once," Coulson said nonchalantly, as if this were the most average thing someone could say, as if he were speaking about the weather, not dropping bombs.

"I was whatnow?" Asia choked out. "You're kidding. Why the hell was I an 084? There's nothing special about me."

"Well, when you were found in your house after the HYDRA attack, SHIELD didn't know exactly what had happened," Coulson explained, "They didn't know how you had survived or why your sister was taken...so for a while, the both of you were on that list. You've been cleared now though, so don't go doing anything unexpected," he joked.

Asia couldn't do anything but nod. What he said made sense. And she had often wondered the same things, especially about her sister. There were so many questions she didn't have answers to. And maybe she never would. But she cherished every sliver of information she gained about her sister. If she kept gaining more and more, she would eventually find her, or at least find out what happened.

Asia followed Coulson into the clearing but stopped short at the entrance, her mouth dropping open. Fitz ran into her, and Jemma into him.

"What the?" Fitz muttered, looking up from his small tablet, one hand on the small of her back as he brushed past Agent Monroe. She felt the hair on the back of her neck stand up slightly. Skye stopped beside her, muttering "Holy shit..."

"That's what I was thinking," Asia whispered back to her, not taking her eyes off of the center of the clearing.

In front of the team was a body, floating, suspended in mid air. The body of the dead troupe leader.

Simmons pursed her lips, approaching the body slowly, her eyes roaming over it, "So sad a man died this way…and yet, so amazing."

"FitzSimmons," Coulson addressed both of the scientists at the same time. "Any idea what could have caused an anomaly such as this?"

The two scientists looked at each other and then both began spurting out random science info, both of them sounding rather unsure. It was enough to make Asia's head spin.

Coulson pulled up his hands in the traditional referee "time out" signal, Asia silently thanking the man for quitting the two scientists. While she loved listening to either of them discuss their passion, both rambling in confusion at the same time was rather overwhelming.

"Seems to me like we’re either dealing with some freak natural event or a new high tech weapon," Ward suggested, surveying the area once more, looking to the sky as if trying to find the remnants of a storm cloud.

"Orrrr..." Skye pondered, "It could be something from your uber-secret index." Oh yes, the index. Something Skye seem fascinated with. Asia had seen it, of course, most level sevens had. She glanced over at May.

"There's no one on that list with this sort of power, it would have to be someone undocumented," May said, confirming Asia's thoughts. This most certainly was an 084.

Coulson went on to speak with the team, but Asia was too busy watching Simmons run her eyes over the floating body in front of her. The agent stepped a little closer to her, whispering softly, "Careful, Jemma..." They didn't know what was going on here yet, and the last thing she wanted was someone getting hurt. Surly, if that body fell on the small red head, she would be crushed.

"See his forehead? Look at that discoloration, it looks as if that's where he was struck," Jemma muttered, glancing back at Leo for affirmation.

"Yeah, same dispersal pattern as the strike on the truck," Leo noted, tapping into his tablet and pulling up an imagine of the truck to inspect. "Almost identical."

"Perhaps the wound cauterized immediately... but the strike would have to be incredibly hot to do anything of the sort," Jemma continued to muse, leaning in closer. Suddenly, a small blue spark lept from the mans forehead and into Jemma, and in an instant, the floating body was on the ground with a sickening thud. The whole team turned to stare at the dead man who was, only moments ago, eerily suspended. He almost looked weirder on the ground than he had floating.

It took much work to get the body into the Bus. Coulson and the two scientists had insisted Ward and Monroe wear protective suits, just in case. Never could be too safe after all. While Asia had been around plenty of dead bodies before--her profession called for it--it wasn't often that she found herself toting one around. Moving a dead body was far different than taking a life, with the way it could not support itself at all, control any of its muscle movements. It had to be carried carefully, so that limbs would not go flying. It was a different experience, that was for sure.

After the body was inside, Asia took off the suit and took a thorough shower, scrubbing off any sense of 'dead' which clung to her skin. Slipping into some leggings and a grey, zipup hoodie, she made her way back down to the Lab, looking both for answers and for her friends. When she entered the Cargo hold area, where her punching bags often hung, she was surprised to find Leo sitting in the open space, working on a laptop.

Sliding down the remains of the circular railing to the bottom of the stairs, she landed with a small thump, which caused the scientist to jump slightly. "Oh sorry, didn't mean to scare you," she said hastily. "Why are you all the way out here? The Lab is like...more your bedroom than your bedroom is." Her words were soft and teasing. Gently, she sat herself down on the table beside his laptop.

Leo found himself acutely aware of how close they were once again in proximity, much like earlier that day when they had been examining her wristlets, aware of the way her soft brown hair fell in waves over her shoulders, and the soft curve of her leg next to his laptop. He shook his head to clear the thoughts. "I don't want to be in there next to the, em, dead body. It gives off weird vibes," he explained.

"I don't blame you," Asia said with a small yawn. "Dead bodies are not the most appealing." Glancing over her shoulder, she saw Coulson and Jemma inspecting the dead body. It appeared they had been doing so for several minutes. "They're talking about you now, aren't they," She said, glancing back at Leo.

"Yea, Simmons THINKS IT'S RIDICULOUS THAT I HATE THE SMELL OF THE DEAD!" Leo replied, nearly shouting the end of his sentence to make sure the two in the Lab could hear him.

"Oh come now Fitz," Jemma called back, "It's perfectly natural to be afraid. After all, who knows what this poor, completely dead man, could do to you."

"I AM NOT AFRAID!" he shouted back, turning to Asia and repeating the words. "I'm not. Even if it's natural. Nothing to be afraid of 'bout the dead."

Asia shrugged, "I wouldn't blame you if you were," she said softly. "Dead bodies aren't exactly the best...they're just something I had to get used to."

"What do you mean?" Leo asked, before tapping his forehead with the palm of his hand, "No, no nevermind. Dumb question. The whole assassin thing, must be around a bunch."

Asia grimaced at his words. "I guess you could put it that way...it's not something I like, the assassin thing..." she trailed off, glancing away. Training with Strike Team Delta meant lots of time in the field, and lots, lots of death. Never of the three of them, but of at least hundreds of others. The last thing she wanted was her best friend looking down upon her, or even being afraid of her, because of her training.

Leo turned to her, and she could feel the weight of his eyes. "I think what you do is bloody brilliant," he said softly, "Never something I could do. Not even with the training...what you do is like an art, sort of.." he muttered. "Well, maybe not art. Not exactly. I guess it is sort of like science. Lots of math, probably, calculations. One could argue that we're both scientists."

Asia turned back to him, rolling her eyes. A smirk tugged at her lips. "We're both scientists, huh?" She teased. "Does that mean you're going to let me start experimenting in the Lab?" Leo's face went white and Asia let out a laugh. "I'm joking, I'm joking, I know how precious your lab is to you."

Leo shrugged, "I'm not sure how much I'd like you 'experimenting' as you call it, but I could show you a thing or two"

"I'll have to take you up on that," Asia said, wresting her chin on her shoulder and gazing up at him. "What are you going to show me?"

Were her words flirtatious? Leo wasn't too sure. They couldn't be, could they? Maybe she had been drinking. That would explain it. But it was...rather early to be tipsy. "Well.." He began, thinking, "We could make some things explode. Everyone loves a good explosion."

"Oh definitely," the brunette agent agreed, "I love a good explosion." She stared at Leo for a moment, thinking, until her thoughts swept her into an idea. "Leo...you know how they can use technology today to see how a child might look when they grew up?"

"Yea?" Leo replied, "I mean, I can probably do better than what they use on milk cartons, but I know exactly what you're speaking of. Why do you ask?"

"I mean..it's not a big deal really..." Asia trailed off, "But if I, say, had a photo of someone I knew...would you be able to do that? Then apply a facial recognition system to global security cameras?" The moment the words left her mouth, she regretted them. Perhaps it was too much of him to ask.

"Yea, Yea I could do that.." Leo muttered, the ideas racing through his head. It would be a big project, but not too difficult. it would only take time. "Can I ask why?"

Asia paused, biting her lower lip. "We can talk about why later, ok?" May walked past them, giving Asia a quick glance, almost urging her to come join the conversation she about to have inside the Lab. Asia wasn't sure whether or not she wanted to follow. She glanced in the Lab, where Simmons was beginning the dissect the body.

Leo suddenly exclaimed, "It's happening again!"

"It’s science, Fitz! I have to dissect dead bodies sometimes," Jemma called back to him. But that wasn't it, that wasn't what was happening.

Asia had immediately slid off the counter and was next to Leo, looking at his laptop screen, which was flashing and glowing. "Holy shit," she muttered, before shouting, "May, heading to the flightdeck!" And was off running.

Leo held up the laptop, turning it to face them, "No, the satellite’s picking up another electrostatic event, and it's bloody close!" Both Coulson and May stared at the screen, then at one another, before taking off in the direction Asia had just headed towards.

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After landing the Bus (an experience Asia had been overly thrilled with. May couldn't help but smile proudly at the younger Agent) May, Coulson, Ward, and Monroe had piled into a SUV, cruising down dirt roads under Fitz' instruction of direction. Asia was wearing two headsets, one in each ear. It was a secret of her and Leo, three missions ago they had decided upon it. They had one for group coms, and another for secret conversation. That way, Asia could crack witty jokes without the entire team hearing. Of course, on occasion, Skye jumped on these coms to make a comment or another.

"What's the latest, Fitz?" Coulson asked, and Asia quickly switched over to coms number one on her dial, so she could speak to the team in need be.

"Uh, we’re at 324 magajoules and growing stronger. Dangerous territory, sir," Leo replied, and then the both of them switched to their second coms. "Seriously,Asia," Leo continued on the secret line, "This isn't something you want to get caught in. Not if you don't want to become the next mysterious floating body."

"I'll be fine," Asia muttered back softly into the coms, rolling her eyes. Even as she did so, a smile danced over her lips. Ward glanced at her, raising his eyebrows in question. The brunette cocked her head to the side in confusion.

"There's a farmhouse about a mile to the north, that's got to be it," Skye announced over group coms. Coulson quickly asked her to find everything she could on the property, and Skye agreed.

"Hold on," Leo interrupted their conversation, once again on group coms. "What...just happened. It's..the signatures gone, there's nothing," he explained rapidly. The small clacking of the keyboard could be heard in the background.

"What's gone?" Coulson replied immediately. Asia glanced over at Ward, this time raising her eyebrows at him in question. Nothing ever could go smooth for the team. That would be just too easy.

"The electrostatic signal," Leo replied, "It sort of, um, pulsed for a moment. Then vanished. Poof." Asia could picture him using his hands to mimic the pulsing. He always seemed to talk with his hands. "This is weird. Very, very weird." Leo said on their private line.

Before Asia could reply, the SUV jerked off the path, careening through a field. Agent Monroe, in her surprise, let out a small inhalation of surprise, face immediately turning red in embarrassment.

"Asia? What was that? Are you alright?" Leo immediately fired off questions rapidly.

"Guess we're going off roading..." she muttered quietly in return.

In half the projected time, the SUV was pulling up to the old, red barn. It looked like something out of a children's book. If they weren't walking into something unknown, it would have been pretty, picturesque even. The team pilled out of the car, inspecting for ways in. Everything appear thoroughly sealed.

"Doors barred from the inside," Coulson said after inspection.

"Hay loft is open," Ward suggested. It was quite a ways up from where they were, but technically, it was a valid option.

"We could ram it with the truck..." Coulson mused.

May and Asia exchanged smirks. "Would you like to do the honours?" Asia suggested.

"Oh, the pleasure is all mine," May replied, before giving a swift, powerful kick to the closed wooden doors. The barricade had no chance against May, and the doors caved in. The two female agents looked back at their male teammates before entering the dark barn.

The barn had only the light from the open hay loft window filtering in, soft puffs of dust floating through the beams. The agents looked around for a moment before lowering their weapons. What they found in the center of the barn was enough to stop them all in their tracks. Another body, floating lifelessly in the air.

"Scan the perimeter," Coulson ordered, "Whoever did this...they couldn't have gotten far. It ended seconds ago, literally. Find them."

Nodding in affirmation, Ward and Asia split ways, moving around the perimeter of the building, searching for any signs of another entity. Exiting the barn, Asia made her way around the area until she met with Ward, her shoulders drooping in disappointment.

"Nothing?" she asked him, lowering her gun and running a hand through her bangs. Two poor men, lives lost.

"Nada," Ward replied. Together they turned and headed back towards the barn. Before entering, Ward whispered to her, "The second coms line thing is cute, Monroe. Never knew you were the romantic type."

"I'll kill you in your sleep, Ward, don't think I won't," She threatened jokingly, her cheeks flaming read. Thankfully, the barn was still dark enough to hide her embarrassment till it wore off.

Coulson turned to the two agents expectantly, but they both shook their heads in defeat. If anyone had been here, they were either wicked fast, or invisible. Their leader immediately requested Skye to get real time surveillance going so they could figure out what the hell was going on.

"Wait," Skye said, "I've got something else you're going to want to see. Sending it over now." She hit some keys, and data was sent to the team off-Bus. "The guy who owns the farm’s name is Frank Whalen. He’s a volunteer firefighter at the same station house as our first victim, Adam Cross...., so that's one link. And if that weren't enough, here's the real kicker. They were both responders when the aliens crashed New York."

"Two victims, who knew each other, found in the same weird way..." Ward trailed off.

"Seems a little on the fishy side," Monroe added in, tapping her lips with her fingers, thinking.

Skye let out a sigh over the coms, before saying, "We're looking for a killer."

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It wasn't long before the team determined they had to get back to the remaining firefighters as soon as they possibly could. This time, Coulson requested Agent Monroe to remain on the Bus with the others. "Just in case," he cautioned, "We don't know what, or who, we're dealing with." Asia wasn't one about to argue with orders.

Simmons was in the Lab, working on the newest dead body. Asia and Skye sat next to one another, Skye absentmindedly braiding Asia's long hair. Leo was rummaging through the cupboards, frantically.

"What are you looking for?" Skye asked.

"A scented candle," Leo replied, slamming one of the cupboards shut. "Gotta get this bloody dead smell out of my lab." Asia hid a giggle.

"Not you," Skye rolled her eyes, glancing over at Simmons.

"This wound, something doesn’t quite make sense..." Simmons said, her smooth brow furrowing in frustration.

"What do you mean?" Asia asked, leaning forward, squinting her eyes to look at the hole. She didn't want to get too close to the dead body if she didn't have to.

" Initially, I thought these were entry wounds, as if from a gunshot. But I checked, and it doesn't compute. They’re exit wounds," She explained, looking up to meet Asia's gaze. Asia offered her a weak smile.

Leo gave up his crazy cupboard search to take a stance next to Asia, placing his hands on his hips, clearly thinking. Asia recognized that look on his face, his lips pressed together and eyes darting all around, and it made her smile.

"What if this weapon overloaded the brain past the threshold of its electrical capacity causing it to discharge like an E.M.P.? An electromagnetic pulse that shut down his whole system?" He suggested after a moment, scratching the back of his head. He was close enough that Asia could smell his cologne, which was a sort of spicy sent, that distinct scent of man. It almost made her dizzy.

"Fitz," Jemma sighed, "You’re assuming we’re dealing with an external source, that's where you're mistaken," She continued to move about the body, examining it with a steady gaze. "I'm saying that is was something from inside of him. There is, quite literally, no entry wound."

"Like...internal combustion?" Asia questioned, propping up her chin on her fist.

"Well, not exactly," Jemma explained, "But you're not entirely far off." Asia was surprised at her response, it wasn't directly shooting her down or disregarding her.

"Guys!" Skye called out, pulling attention to her beeping computer. "Something is happening, another spike! It's...it's coming from the fire station that these guys volunteer for!" The three gathered around Skye, gazing down at her laptop. Suddenly, May's voice was coming through the coms.

"FitzSimmons, are you seeing this? We need a read on the data." She asked, just as a photo uploaded to the giant holo-screen. A helmet, one Asia recognized all too well.

"Oh.." she murmured, "Chitauri..."

" It’s not a weapon, yet it caused a cranial discharge..." Jemma said softly, her gaze far away. Suddenly, her eyes widened with realization. "May! Do not touch it! Whatever you do, stay far away from that device!"

Asia stood up from where she sat, clenching her hands into fists. The tension in the room was palpable. She glanced over at Leo, who looked equally worried.

"Sir..." Simmons announced slowly, "I do not believe he has been doing this intentionally, nor that the helmet is a weapon...I think he is infected."

"What do you mean?" Coulson quickly asked back.

"I...I think the Chitauri helmet...is a source of an alien virus, one that has spread to all the men in the firehouse," the red haired scientist replied softly.

Asia turned back to Skye's laptop, watching the rapidly climbing statistics. "Coulson, you have to get out of their soon," she cautioned, biting her lower lip nervously.

"I'm not leaving him like this..." was the last message they received for a while. They four of them sat silently, an eerie silence, waiting for something, anything, from one of their teammembers.

Finally, minutes later, May finally announced, "We're coming home."

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Asia helped guide the men in hazmat suits with the encased alien helmet into the Bus, helping them place it safely in one of the trucks. After it was safely put away, she waved goodbye at them, before returning to the Lab where Jemma and Leo were busy running various tests. Skye sat at her desk, typing on her laptop. Asia silently pulled up a wheely chair and sat down, tucking her knees to her chest. Moments later, Jemma made a call up to Coulson, suggesting perhaps he ought to make his way down to the Lab to see what she had found.

When Coulson arrived, Jemma pulled up a large image on screen, which displayed a blood sample, exposed enough to see the red blood cells. "Wait for it..." She said, a large smile on her face, pleased to have found something out, finally.

Seconds later, an electric blue sparks chained through the cells on the screen, causing Asia's eyes to widen. That was definitely not something you saw every day. And definitely alien.

"What was that?" Coulson asked, narrowing his eyes at the image.

"A ground breaking discovery, for one thing!" Jemma said, clapping her hands together. "I believe the first moment of containment was not when they brought the helmet back, but when they tried to clean it, the friction and heat being enough to activate some long-decaying Chitauri organism."

"Hang on" Coulson said, holding up a hand to stop her. "You're telling me these are the cells from the firefighters? It's still going on inside their dead bodies?"

Asia couldn't lie, she zoned out a little when Jemma ran over the schematics of what exactly she had dissected and discovered. She noticed briefly that Leo and Skye left the room.

"Exactly!" Jemma said excitedly once more, stirring Asia, who looked up. Her mouth dropped open. Slowly, Agent Monroe stood up, stepping closer to Coulson. Behind Jemma was a floating tube, levitating to her eye level, in the same eerie was the dead men had been floating. "It's nothing like we've ever seen on Earth, not even when the Chitauri were here" She was still so excited, so excited that it made Asia want to cry. She looked over at Agent Coulson.

"Agent Monroe, I'm going to ask you to leave the room. I think Fitz needs your help," he instructed her, nodding towards the door.

"Yes, sir," Asia replied softly, turning to Jemma and offering a tight smile. She had to find Leo, first, before he tried to get back into the Lab. Turning, she left the large room. She left at a walk, but as soon as she passed through the sliding doors, she broke into a jog. She had to be the one to tell him, she couldn't bare for the news to come from anyone else.

Chapter Text

He had not taken it well, to say the least. Asia could still feel the pressure of his hand on her shoulder, shoving her out of the way and into the wall, hard. Harder than she expected from him. Hard enough to make her rethink any of her feelings she had over the curly-haired scientist. And then, hard enough to make herself feel like a selfish piece of shit for worrying about her emotions when Simmons could be dying. Natasha had been right all along, emotions were not good, for anything. Remaining neutral in all aspects, unfazed, was the only good way to behave.

After taking a moment to compose herself, Agent Monroe made her way back downstairs to join Coulson, May, Ward, and Skye. When she entered the cargo hold, her eyes first sought out Leo, who was sitting with his back to the glass of the Lab door. Simmons sat on the other side. They would have been back to back if it weren't for the thick sheet of bullet proof glass between them. Leo was holding a small drill and moving it quickly over something. He looked so defeated. Asia could not bare to look at him. Sighing, she turned and marched over to the others, pulling out her tablet and quickly reading over the information they had on the subject.

"Simmons believes she contracted the virus when we came in contact with the first victim, so slightly under 48 hours ago," Coulson explained, nodding towards the Lab. His arms were crossed over his chest, as if he were trying to hold in his worry.

"How...how much time does she have?" Skye asked, clearly distraught. Asia stepped into place beside her, squeezing her hand softly.

"Well," Agent Monroe said, "Based on how the symptoms in the others...two hours. If we're lucky." Her words were flat. Emotionless. She couldn't let this get the best of her. But her eyes, they were fraught with worry, anyone who knew her would be able to tell.

Skye squeezed her friends hand back quickly, twice. "That's enough time, right? We can find a cure.SHIELD is supposed to have the smartest people hiding in their shadows or whatever, right?"

May looked over at Skye, her brow creased in concern. Two hours...two hours was not much time, not in the grand scheme of things.

"SHEILD has labs everywhere, right? Someone needs to be working on this, now." Skye continued, her voice starting to waver. Asia pulled her closer, wrapping her arms around the girl. Skye clung onto her friend's shoulder, her hands shaking slightly.

"They do," Coulson replied, "I've made sure of that." He then turned to face May, his face grim. "How soon can you get us on the ground?"

"Three hours," May replied, glancing over at the Lab. Skye let out a small gasp. "The flightpath we had, when heading to the Sandbox, puts us directly over the Atlantic Ocean. Unless someone knows of a mystery island out here, there's no way to cut down the time."

"Sir..." Ward began, glancing over at Skye and Asia. Asia looked up at him, meeting his gaze with a steady one of her own. "Correct me if I'm wrong...if we don't make it to the Sandbox in time..."

"Simmons will release a pulse that will blow us and this plane right out of the sky, no Agent Ward, you are not wrong," Coulson said, confirming all of their worst thoughts.

"We can't just sit here and watch her die!" Skye protested, pulling out of Asia's hug, but still holding onto her hand tightly, as if it were grounding her. "There has to be something we can do for her, anything at all."

Coulson looked at Skye with a fatherly gaze. "There's only one person on this plane who can find a cure. I think we all know that she will." They all turned to look over at the Lab.

Leo placed a small item into a sliding drawer and pushed it into the Lab. Jemma looked through the glass and smiled at him, taking the object. They were working, working hard, testing the antiserum on rats to see if any of them took. The group watching broke apart, heading their separate ways.

Asia, not knowing what else to do, walked at a steady pace towards a hanging punching bag a few feet away. Pulling her headphones out of her pocket, she jammed them in her ears, and began to swing. The music she was playing was loud, encompassing everything. She didn't have to think, she didn't have to exist. If anyone had chosen to hack into her iPod at this moment, they wouldn't be hearing calm, ballet music, they would hear the screaming words of "Blood" by In This Moment. She wanted anger, hate, she wanted to take this out on a real person. Why couldn't it have been an actual assailant? Why did it have to be a disease? A person she could kill, torture, obliterate, would have been eons better. She lost track of time, she lost track of place, all there was was her, the punching bag, and the screaming music.

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A bolt of movement jolted Asia out of her rhythm of blows. Leo, running past, case with the helmet in hand. Asia tore of her headphones and stepped forward, but it was too late. The Lab doors slid open, and he was inside. "Leo!" She called out after, covering her mouth with her hands. No, no, he couldn't. He would get infected too. This couldn't be happening, not the both of them in one day. She could feel the tears at the corners of her eyes and immediately blinked them away.

Leo turned to look at her and smiled sadly. "It'll all be okay Asia, I've just got to take care of Simmons right now. We'll be out lickety split."

Asia thought she was going to puke. Her best friend was quite possibly sacrificing himself. At that moment, May and Ward came jogging down the stairs. Without hesitation, Asia threw herself into Ward's arms, which were already open as if he already knew she would be needing him. His hand ran gently over her soft hair, pulling her to his chest.

"This can't be happening," she murmured into his t-shirt. "It can't. He's my best friend, Ward."

"Hey now," Ward replied softly, "What am I? Chopped liver?"

Asia sniffed, shaking her head. Only Ward could make her smile at a time like this. Ward grabbed her shoulders and pushed her back from him. "Agent Monroe, you are stronger than this. Come on, you didn't even cry when Clint was in the ICU for that bullet that almost got his heart. Don't start now."

She nodded, biting her lower lip. He was right. Of course, Ward was always right. And so, Asia took to pacing. Pacing back and forth in front of the Lab, her eyes fraught with worry. It was surprised she didn't wear a hole in the floor with the amount of times she wove back and forth. How could she possibly be so selfish? She could barely make herself get past the thought of Leo having feelings for someone other than her, and she hated herself for it. She deserved to be punished for it. She clenched her hands into fists, bouncing them off the sides of her legs. All she wanted was the two scientists safe.

And then, Jemma was asking for a moment alone with Fitz. How could they deny her that? All the same, Ward had to practically drag her out of the cargo hold. She didn't want to leave him down there. Her thoughts, her emotions, were running rampant. Natasha would be so ashamed, and that thought only made her hurt more.

So she took to her pacing again, this time behind Ward and the others in the planning room. She was trying to wrap her head around what was going on. The clock was getting dangerously close to two hours, Jemma's time limit. Suddenly, an alarm started sounding.

"Someone's opened the cargo door." May said, fingers flying over the tabletop computer.

Ward and Asia locked eyes and in a second, both took off running, running towards the stairs, towards the cargo hold. The sound of yelling and rushing air could be heard before they even reached the stairs. Ward started taking them two at a time, and Asia, frustrated, jumped right over the railing. Fitz was standing there, attempting to get a parachute jacket out when Ward reached him.

"The antiserum, it works!" Leo shouted, "But she jumped!"

Ward quickly grabbed both the chute and the serum from Leo, pushing him back towards Asia who grabbed onto the scientist, pulling him back from the edge. In a blink, Ward was gone, diving off the edge and after Jemma. Asia held onto Leo tightly, collapsing against the ground.

"It's going to be okay, you found the cure," She said, hugging him. He held her back, his arms wrapping around her waist.

"We did. Jemma is going to be fine," he repeated, but he still sounded somewhat upset, staring at the open cargo hold. And it was then Asia knew, she knew he cared for Simmons. He was upset not simply because Jemma had jumped, but because Ward would be the one to save her.

Chapter Text

Asia had not been to the Hub for quite some time, not since working with Nat and Clint. So when Coulson informed the team to get ready for they would be landing their shortly, Asia could hardly contain her excitement. This was the first time she had been this excited for many weeks now. For the first time in a long time, she had to worry about what she was wearing. She settled on a orange longsleeve shirt, with a black, sleeveless leather vest. The vest hugged her figure rather nicely. She paired the outfit with dark brown pants and combat boots. Anxiously, she pulled her long hair up into a high pony tail and headed back to meet the rest of the team. They would be touching down in five minutes.

Five minutes can seem like eternity when waiting for such an exciting experience. But soon enough, the team was off the Bus and inside the gigantic building. Asia took quite a bit of joy watching Skye looking around in wonder at the colossal size of the building which they were in.

"I didn't realize Big Brother was this big," Skye said with a sigh, spinning in a slow circle to take it all in.

"Oh this is nothing," Jemma said cheerfully, "Wait till you see the Triskelion! And if you had seen the Sandbox, you'd probably lose your mind!"

Leo fell in step beside Asia, and she turned to give him a small smile before looking ahead of her. It had been a week since the incident with Jemma, and Leo wasn't sure what exactly he had done to Asia, but she was definitely being more distant that usual. "You look, erm, nice today," He said quietly, as a sort of peace offering.

"Thanks, Leo," She replied, "You do too." Of course, she could have added on that he always did, but she doubted that would make the situation any better.

"Everyone's wearing the same suit. Someone please tell me why," Skye said, earning a laugh from Jemma, Asia, and Leo. The group made their way to a desk, and with a well known formality, they all grabbed badges with their images upon them. Asia's still have the small Strike Team insignia on it. "Do I get one?" Skye asked, sounding confused.

Coulson turned and pointed at his wrist. "That's your badge. You've got to earn your clearance again, and that's going to take time. And hard work."

Skye sighed and pushed the matter a little further until Coulson stopped, the rest of the group stopping along with him. Asia was prepping herself to hear a very uncomfortable lecture, when another suited Agent walked up to them. "Agent Sitwell," Coulson greeted, shaking his hand.

"Agent Coulson, good to see you feeling better. Agent Hand is waiting for you and your agents of clearance in the Situation Room." Agent Sitwell said, as they all moved briskly down the hall.

"Well, she won't like to be kept waiting on our accord," Coulson said with a sigh.

Sitwell raised an eyebrow, "So you know her?"

"Only by her poignant reputation," Coulson replied with a dry smile.

When they reached a doorway, the group stopped. "Your Level Sevens are welcome to join us, and, it is, in fact, encouraged," Sitwell said, pressing his badge against a scanner and entering the room.

Coulson indicated for May and Ward to enter, then turned to face the rest of the team. "Asia," he began, "You are, by all means, welcome to come to the debriefing. But, I have a little something set up for you that you may want to take care of first."

"What?" Asia asked, tilting her head to the side, "What do you have for me?"

Gently, Coulson stepped forward and put his hands on her shoulders, carefully spinning her to face he other direction. Asia's mouth dropped open in astonishment as the others turned to look at what she was seeing.

At the end of the hall were two figures she knew all too well, one a female with brilliant red hair, and the other a male with a wry grin on his face. Without hesitation, Asia took off at a light jog, picking up pace as she went, until she was near enough to throw herself into Clint Barton's open arms. His familiar scent wafted over her and she beamed from ear to ear. He spun her around then set her down, and to her surprised, Natasha pulled her into a quick, brief hug.

"I...I can't believe you're here," Asia said, so happy she could nearly cry. "How did you know?"

Nat rolled her eyes, "We know everything Asia, you should have figured that out by now."

"How have you been?" Clint asked, "Coulson isn't giving you too much grief is he?"

"No,no, everything is amazing, for the most part," Asia affirmed. "My team is great, really. Which, actually, reminds me. Would you guys mind meeting them? It would be really quick, of course. Wouldn't want to keep you from anything after all."

Clint looked at Nat, a hopeful smile on his lips. Rolling her eyes, Natasha gave a quick nod, grinning at Asia. With a smile, Asia turned back down the hall and called out to her remaining teammembers, getting their attention, then waved for them to come over.

"So this is going to be Skye Johnson, she's very new here, still a consultant, Jemma Simmons, and Leo Fitz. They're all great." Asia explained before the three arrived.

"Holy shit," Skye breathed. "This can't be real life. Two real life Avengers, right in front of me." She wrung her hands quickly before extended one out to shake.

Clint quickly shook it, "It's great to meet any friend of Asia's." He grinned and looked over at Natasha, "Aren't we Nat?"

"Yup," Nat replied, crossing her arms over her chest. It was clear they wouldn't be getting any handshakes from her any time soon.

"I'm Skye," The nervous girl said, "I'm sorta new, so yea, but Asia is Great honestly. I wish I was as good as her."

Asia rolled her eyes, "Everyone is with practice, Skye," She said, her cheeks light pink. She then turned to the red haired scientist, "This is Jemma Simmons. She stitches all my bullet wounds right up."

Jemma stuck out a hand with military efficiency. "I'm Jemma. It's a pleasure to meet you, no, no, an honour really," She gushed, before turning to Leo, "Can you believe this Fitz? Two Avengers!"

Leo was somewhat starstruck. His mouth was open just slightly, but no real words were coming out. "This is Leo Fitz," Asia introduced for him, "He's great. He is the one who requested my things from HQ."

"Ahh, that's the man!" Clint said, clapping him on the back, "We appreciate your help in making Asia here feel like she's at home again." Playfully, he ruffled the top of Asia's head, and the younger agent elbowed him in the ribs.

Natasha rolled her eyes, "Two minutes in and you two are already starting with this behavior again."

"Would you expect anything less?" Asia fired back, a grin on her face. These were the two people she loved most in the entire world, and simply being near them reminded her immensely of this. And she felt proud to be able to share her new friends with her old ones.

"Welll, Asia," Skye said, drawing out the word, "We'll let you guys carry on, feel free to come find us after your special meeting or whatever."

Asia gave her a reassuring smile and a quick nod of affirmation before the group departed. Then, Agent Monroe turned back to face her old Strike Team members. "So..What do you think?"

"I mean," Clint said, rubbing the back of his head and grinning, "They're no Strike Team Delta, but they seem alright."

"How long have you had feelings for the curly haired one?" Natasha asked point blank, nodding her head back towards where the trio was walking away.

Asia's cheek went a bright red, almost as red as Nat's hair. "I have absolutely no idea what you're talking about, to even insinuate that is just...just.." She stammered but couldn't find the words, balling her hands into fists. "That obvious, is it?"

"Asia, I can read you like a very, very simple book," Nat replied with a light laugh. "But, it is dangerous. To have feelings for someone on your team, it can be compromising. It's not something I would personally recommend."

Asia nodded, "I know. I know, I thought about everything you taught me this entire time I've been on the Bus. I didn't want it to happen, I didn't expect it to happen. He's just....I can't even put words to it." She shrugged, a small frown on her lips.

Natasha sighed, grabbing Asia and pulling her into a rather reluctant hug, rubbing her hair softly. It was more affection that the Widow tended to display to anyone, but with Asia, it was different. Asia was like a younger sister to the ex-Russian Spy. "If he hurts you, I swear to God I'll tear him limb from limb," she whispered in the brunette's ear before kissing her softly on the cheek, before releasing her from the tight squeeze.

Clint grinned cheekily at his partners, "Aw, look at that, the spider's got feelings. Isn't that cute, Monroe?" Natasha rolled her eyes, this time she was the one to elbow Clint in the stomach.

"Well, we can't stay long. Unfortunately we have to go speak with some SHIELD HQ guys," Natasha said, frowning slightly, "They've got another mission for us. Too bad you can't tag along."

Asia frowned, "Don't remind me. I've got to go debrief about something with Agent Hand..." she trailed off, glancing over her shoulder. When she turned around, the two Delta agents were both pulling her into a tight squeeze.

"Don't die out there, ok?" Clint teased, "And we're having a beer when you're back."

"Deal," Asia agreed, a sad smile on her lips, "Hopefully it won't be too long now."

"It won't," Nat affirmed, although there was no real way for her to know for sure. She squeezed Asia's shoulder softly before turning her the other direction and shoving her back towards the door her teammates had badged through. "Go on now, you're going to miss all the good parts." She reassured. "And don't forget the mission imperative. If you find that intel, you pass it to us."

Nodding, Asia strode confidently towards the door, raising her badge to pass herself in. She gave one glance back in the direction of her two old teammates before slipping through the secured door.

Chapter Text

It appeared much of the conversation was already finished when Asia entered the room, not that she was entirely too disappointed over this. Coulson stood across from a stern looking woman with thick black glasses. Her hair was long and dark brown, with two streaks of red dyed in.

"Agent Monroe," Coulson turned, acknowledging her, glad you could join us. "Agent Hand, this is our newest member, Agent Monroe. She is the Strike Team Delta protege, on line for the Fortification Project."

Fortification Project? That was news to her. Agent Monroe tucked the name into the back of her mind, making note to research it later if she had the opportunity. Stepping forward, she shook Agent Hand's hand before stepping back behind Coulson once more.

"Agent Monroe," Hand said, "It is a pleasure to meet you. I have heard much about you thus far. It's a shame you missed out on the debriefing, we had quite the conversation about you."

"About me...?" Asia questioned, crossing her arms over her chest. She glanced over at her three teammates for answers.

"Asia..." Coulson began, but May stepped forward, cutting him off.

"I'll take this one, Sir, if you don't mind," May offered, her gaze flicking over to Asia for a moment. That would be about the exact second when Asia knew she was not going to like whatever it was that she was about to hear.

May stepped forward and placed a hand on Asia's shoulder, steering her away from the group to a back corner. "Asia...I need you to know that this isn't a bad thing. It's not going to be as bad as it looks, ok?"

"Just spit it out," Asia muttered, glancing back at Coulson, Ward, and Hand. "I know I'm not going to like it, no matter what you say."

May sighed. "You're probably right. Agent Coulson and Agent Hand have decided we want you to have limited intel on this Op. You won't be going in, it will be two other agents...and because of your close nature to both of the agents involved...that perhaps it would be best to have you take a step back."

"Close nature?? Is that not what this team is built on?" Asia questioned, attempting to keep her cool. She had earned her clearance level, she had worked hard for it, to gain the trust of SHIELD as a whole.

"You're probably right," May replied, "And the decision wasn't entirely mine. I won't say I'm altogether a fan of this mission to begin with. Not that I will let you live if you tell anyone that." The elder agent glanced back at Hand, then to Monroe. "But we have our orders. And, this time, we won't fight them. We have to pick our battles."

"What agents are going in?" Asia asked, her brow furrowing slightly. It was nice to know May didn't agree with these restrictions, at least. What had initially felt like alienation didn't feel quite so lonely anymore. "And what exactly do you mean by limited intel?"

May sighed, crossing her arms over her chest. "Limited intel means you get to know the status of the agents in the field. Whether they are alive. Whether they have been captured. You won't know location or any further info." She paused, glancing back at Ward, who gave her a quick nod, as if to give a go-ahead. "The two agents on this mission," May continued, "Will be Ward and Fitz. Due to your close friendship to the both of them, and the danger of this mission, we decided that unless otherwise needed, we need you to take a step back from this one."

Asia could feel the blood ringing in her ears. Ward, he would be fine. Probably. He was capable. But Leo? Leo had never once been in the field. He hadn't even officially passed the physical examination. "Oh," she said, flatly, simply. She wasn't entirely sure what else she could say. "Well, while I disagree with the decision, I understand the orders." She muttered, her hands subconsciously balling into fists. She sure as hell did not agree with the decision. Not even a little bit. There had to be a way around this. And she knew just the people to talk to about it.

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Leo Fitz sat in his room, with Jemma pacing about, running over a checklist of items he was to bring with him. "The Caucasus have a plethora of highly endemic spider species," She reminded him, shaking her head in disgust. "So it's best you bring some sort of antidotes with you. Or at least a field guide so you know what you're looking at. Last thing you need is to die on a mission of a spider bote."

Leo sighed, "Stop, Jemma. Stop worrying about me. I'm an agent, just like Ward." The poor Scott was clearly frustrated. Not a single person on the team had expressed their confidence in him yet, and it wasn't something he entirely appreciated.

Jemma stopped pacing and looked down at him, crossing her arms over her chest and smiling softly. "You'll be careful."

"Yea," Leo shrugged, "I've been through worse."

Suddenly a thin figure popped into the doorway, ponytail swinging, a forced smile on her face, "Hey Leo--oh, sorry, Jemma, didn't know you were here," Asia said as she entered, stopping in her tracks. "I can go, yea, I'll just-"

Leo cut her off. "No, no, Asia stay. We were, erm, just packing up my things." He offered the agent a small smile. She had been on even more pins and needles after the news had been given that he was going on a mission, a ridiculously dangerous mission at that. He found it a little cute, honestly, that she was so concerned. A little disappointing, that no one believed in him, but on her it was also very sweet, in a protective sense.

"I can leave," Jemma offered, smiling once more at Fitz, "I'll be back to see you off." Asia smiled a thin smile at Jemma as the redhead turned and left the room.

Asia sheepishly kicked the ground in front of her, "So, you all ready for this big event?"

Leo smiled, standing up and grabbing each of her arms, right above the wrist. "I am, and I'm going to be fine," he said softly.

"I know," she said, glancing down at his hands. "It's just...you're my best friend. I don't want anything to go wrong...and they...SHIELD..they aren't allowing me to have too much information on what will be happening, because I'm so close to the both of you," she frowned, upset at her own weakness.

Sighing, Leo pulled her into a tight hug, wresting his chin on top of her head. "I'm going to be fine, Asia. I am a bloody SHIELD agent for a reason."

"I know, I know," she whispered back. "Will you at least let me show you some moves before you go?"

"Of course," Leo replied, rubbing slow circles on her back. "If you teach me a thing or too, I might even be the one saving Ward out there."

Asia smiled slightly into his chest. He was going to be ok, she had to believe it. "Alright. To the training room?"

Leo stepped back, releasing her from the hug. "Yea, yea, let's head down there. I've still got some time before I've got to go." They smiled at each other, before looping arms and heading through the Bus towards the training room.

Chapter Text

Asia hit the mat with a soft thump, a small grimace on her face as she let the air naturally whoosh out of her lungs. She grinned up and Leo who had a matching smile on his own face.

He held a hand out to her and she took it, allowing him to pull her to her feet. "And that, Leo, is how you flip a person, regardless of the hold they put you in." The brunette felt slightly better knowing she had taught him one thing of worth.

"Well I'm not sure they'll comply as easily, but I appreciate the lessons, Asia. We should, um, maybe keep them up once i get back?"

She couldn't help but smile and agree, but it was terribly difficult for part of her not to think 'IF you get back.' And that thought alone was nearly enough to bring her to tears. It would be okay, she told herself over and over. Ward would be there, and he was the best of the best.

When they had finished sparring, they made their way back to the briefing room where the entire team gathered one last time before parting ways. With one final hug to both of her teammates, Asia was thrust from the room with Jenna and Skye, the three of them banned from insider information.

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It wasn't long before Skye found her, punching away at a well worn punching bag. Asia yanked the headphones out of her ears and stopped, turning to her brunette friend. "Whats up?" She asked, her voice coming out much harsher than she intended. Her nerves were showing.

Skye only rolled her eyes, crossing her arms over her chest. "Common Asia, don't tell me this situation isn't bothering you."

"We all have our clearances. And regardless, what the higher levels say, goes." She replied with a sigh, punctuating point with a firm punch to the bag.

"Youre not fooling anyone, least of all me," Skye said, a small twinge of annoyance in her voice. "Seriously Asia, it's me. You don't have to pretend to think this bullshit is okay around me."

Asia sighed and stopped, turning to Skye, "You're right, I think this is ridiculous. I have earned my rank, I have worked for it, I have killed for it. And now I'm being shut out 'because I'm too close' for this one. It's complete bull. But this is what I signed up for, so I need to respect the rules."

Skye twisted a piece of long hair around one of her thin fingers, humming softly. "Well....what if we respected them, but also...I don't know...bent them, just a tiny bit?" She looked hopefully over at her friend.

Asia cocked her head slightly to the side, recalling something Clint had once told her. "Rules are like politics, Asia. They much prefer you to bend them than to snap them completely in half." It was, in general, completely against her principal to do anything of the sort unless it was to save one of her teammates...which...technically this could possibly be.

"Common, Asia," Skye said, clasping her hands as if she were in prayer, "Think about it, you'll be able to keep an eye on Fitz," she said in a singsong voice.

Asia could feel her cheeks tint pink at the thought of Leo, and she turned away slightly to hide it. "I don't know what you're implying," she mumbled softly.

Skye rolled her eyes then lowered her voice to a whisper, "Everyone else on this team may be blind, but I'm not. I see the looks you two give each other. How long have you been together?"

"What?" Asia hissed back, "We are NOT together. Just friends. He's my best friend."

"Seriously?" Skye asked, "Damn, okay, well you guys must be seriously vibing each other because those looks...steamy as a sauna. " she muttered under her breath. "Anyways, are you in or not? And if you're not please dear god do not tell Coulson."

Asia sighed, rubbing at the bandages on her hands. "Yea, ok, whatever. I'm in," she said finally, and Skye pummeled her with a hug.

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A jeep was driving haphazardly through the mountains, Ward at the wheel, Fitz chatting his ear off. 'I swear to God, if he doesn't shut it soon...' he thought to himself, scanning the horizon line for any signs of movement. Thankfully, there were none. He sighed, faintly listening to what his teammate had to say. It was another damn story about Simmons. Frankly, Ward couldn't care less.

They pulled up to a boulder and parked the jeep behind it and Ward climbed out quickly, relieved for a small second of quiet. "Do you have the beacon?" He asked when Fitz got out of the vehicle.

"Yea, yea, but...it's funny because vacuum chambers are so dry," Fitz said, taking the small device out of his pocket. Ward held out his hand, but Fitz was so busy narrating that he didn't even notice. " And this instrument was actually supposed to go into space." He continued on, shaking his head.

Ward walked over and grabbed the device straight out of the scientist's hands. He fiddled with a moment, before setting the device, disguised as a rock, on the ground.

"Simmons actually tells it a lot better than I do, she tells most things better than I do," Fitz sighed, shaking his head and crouching next to Ward.

Ward rolled his eyes, "You know, Fitz, I'm going to tell you something. And not because you're my friend or I care about you, but because I care about Monroe." He turned, staring the scientist in the eye sternly. Fitz seemed a little dumbstruck. "This Simmons talk, it's all fine and dandy, and annoying as hell. But if you aren't into Monroe, you need to back off. She's not used to people giving a shit, and she's going to get the wrong idea."

Fitz opened and shut his mouth a few times, appearing as if he was about to say something but couldn't exactly find the right words.

Ward looked back towards the bar in front of them, "Now,keep your mouth shut and your head down."

Chapter Text

He was okay. She knew that much. At least from right now. The small tablet she was provided only displayed three things: Status ; alive, Captured ; none, and ERROR CLASSIFIED FILES. Asia sighed, and tossed the tablet onto the table. She knew Skye and Jemma were working on getting intel out of May, but the odds of that...slim to none. She paced around the small room in the Hub, tapping her cheek nervously with one hand, looking down at the tablet then back at the door. It was soundproof, but she wasn't about to go screaming her head of in the Hub. Not if she wanted to keep her job.

There was a knock on her door and in an instant, Asia was there, whipping it open. It was Skye and Jemma. Jemma had a sour look on her face, but Skye was smiling.

"We've got a plan," Skye said in a sing-song voice, a proud grin on her lips. "And we need your help."

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Asia and Simmons stood side by side as the door opened, and both moved past the security quickly, Asia throwing a quick glance back at Skye.

"I've programmed it with a decoy crawler. It’ll use my browser history to simulate my usual online activity, make it seem as if I'm just surfing the web, looking over Reddit and whatever." Skye called through the glass door, talking of the flash drive she had given the two of them. Jemma was there for technique, Asia was there for moral support. And for if things got crazy, to lie like the wind and get them out.

"And you'll be hacking into Ward and Fitz' mission," Jemma whispered into her comms piece.

"Right," Skye affirmed, "And remember-"

Asia cut her off, "We've got three minutes once we plug it in before SHIELD notices something is up. So we need to get in, and get out." Both Asia and Jemma turned to look at some fake files as they passed an agent, hiding their faces with ease. It was going to go just fine. And then they would have the information the three of them craved so badly.

Asia let Skye and Jemma babble back and fourth, mostly tuning out and focusing on making them seem as nonchalant as possible. She stood beside Jemma as the scientist removed a panel and placed the flashdrive in place. "Ahh, there, got it!" Jemma said giddily. She turned around to Asia, hand raised for a high five, and both of them looked at each other, surprised for a second. After the slightest pause, Asia highfived her, a grin sliding across her lips.

"Ahem," someone said, clearing his throat pointedly. Both agents turned in unison to face...Agent Sitwell, staring at them with an eyebrow raised. "Agent Monroe, Agent Simmons," he greeted.

"Agent Sitwell," Asia said politely, smiling and nodding her head in hello. She could hear Skye quietly cursing on the other end of the comms.

Jemma...well..she wasn't the best in this sort of situation, and her body language gave it right away. "Hello, Mr. Agent Sitwell, sir. May I help you?" She said, her smile stretching practically all the way across her face, twirling a strand of hair around one of her fingers. Asia glanced over at her, eyes widening slightly. This was not good, not at all.

"Call me Jasper," Agent Sitwell said, still not completely aware of what it was they were doing in the hallway.

"Uh, what brings you to this restricted hallway so late at night?" Jemma continued, her accent sounding off and her voice almost sounding flirtatious.

Asia wanted nothing more than to tell her to shut the hell up and let her do the talking, but he would know then, right away, that something was afoot.

Thankfully, Skye did it for her, "Jemma, stop talking. Right now."

"I could ask the two of you the same thing," Agent Sitwell said , taking another step towards them, a rather creepy smile on his face. Asia fought rolling her eyes.

"No, don't," Jemma said casually, smiling back, leaning casually against the wall.

"Simmons, focus, make up an excuse. Asia, step in, someone seriously do something," Skye said with a groan.

"That's a wall panel," Sitwell said, nodding towards the open panel behind the two women, "Why are you accessing it?"

"Because-" Asia began in a light tone, before Jemma cut her off.

"You certainly have a gorgeous head, don’t you?" Jemma said, punctuating her words.

Asia wanted to slam her head against the wall in frustration. "Jemma," she muttered under her breath.

"I like men that are about my height but heavier than me," The red head continued. Her words just kept making them go further and further down hill.

"Monroe, Simmons, do you have authorization to access that panel?" Sitwell asked, crossing his arms over his chest.

"Yes," Asia said immediately, not giving Jemma a chance to speak. "Of course we do. We were actually sent here, to fix it. Well, Jemma is doing the fixing, I'm just her supervisor."

"Yes precisely!" Jemma said in her overly cheery tone. "Let me just get our badges, I tucked them away in my bag for safe keeping," she began to rummage around in her bag. "He's on to us," she whispered into the comms, not nearly quiet enough.

"Are you on comms with someone?" Sitwell asked immediately, his tone accusatory.

"Jemmaaa..." Asia groaned. Agent was already pulling out a walkie and requesting an escort, they were running out of time. Seeing the glint of something silver in Jemma's bag, Asia reacted. She shoved her hand into the bag and yanked out the Night-Night gun, pointing at Sitwell and firing three times into his chest.

After a second, the agent realized what she did, and dropped the gun to the floor, holding up her hands in mock surrender. "Shit, shit, oh shit I didn't...I didn't mean to do that. Shit." She began to ramble.

On the other end of the comms, Skye was muttering "ohmygod, ohmygod," while Jemma was making quick work of putting the panel back on.

"Okay, okay, this is fine, " Jemma said, "We've only just shot a very respected Agent. It's all fine. Help me with the body," her voice was still weirdly perky. She grabbed Sitwell's feet and Asia reluctantly grabbed his hands, and they moved him out of sight, before running for the door and back to Skye.

"That was awful!" Skye said the second they exited.

"I'm sorry, I just panicked!" Jemma said in her defense, "Asia shot him!"

"Things were getting out of control!" Asia said pointedly, "He was going to have us brought in otherwise. This way we at least have some time."

Skye sighed and turned to Asia, looking her in the eye. "You know who you need to get right now..."she trailed off.

Monroe's eyes widened. "Damnit Skye, really? You want me to bring May in on this?"

"Listen, that flash drive will only give me a few minutes of access to The Hub’s mainframe to find out what happened to our boys so just go and get May, okay?" She placed a hand on Asia's shoulder, looking her in the eyes. "And bring Simmons. The two of you need to get out of here."

Asia looked back at Simmons and nodded. The two of them began to move down the bright halls at a quick pace, Jemma worriedly glancing over her shoulder on occasion, concerned they were being followed.

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When she got the message from Skye, Asia's heart dropped. She read the words over and over again: No Extraction Plan. It felt like her heart was literally resting in her stomach, being eaten away by the acid. She could hardly even recognize May lecturing her and Jemma. No extraction plan. Ward and Fitz were out there, facing who knows what. No extraction plan.

She needed Skye. She needed her partner, the friend she leaned on. The friend who leaned on her. Their boys were out there, and they were probably going to die. Maybe SHIELD was right, maybe she was too close for this mission, because there is no way in hell she would have let anyone send two of the people who meant the most to her be sent on a death mission. She would have volunteered, done the whole thing herself if need be.

And it wasn't long before Skye was there, her arms thrown around the other brunette agent. "It's going to be okay, Asia, we'll get them back," she said gently, rubbing her back. Asia nodded into her shoulder before pulling away.

"We're going to get them back or I'll die trying," Asia said firmly, leaving no room for debate. She turned towards May.

"You got information, now we react," the older agent said sternly, with a nod.

"We're gonna get our guys," Skye said again, just wanting to hear the confirmation from May. With May at their backs, it did honestly feel like there was nothing they couldn't do.

"Someone has to," May said with a shake of her head. She kept the anger out of her voice, but it was there, boiling beneath her skin. How dare SHIELD send them in with no extraction. She glanced over at Monroe, who was busy at the tabletop computer, moving her hands over the screen and tapping various locations. She knew Monroe had been in a non-extraction situation, but that was only with Agents Barton and Romanoff. This...this wasn't anything like that. This had to be made right.

"But...what about the SHIELD assult?"Jemma asked from beside Asia. Asia tapped the screen, lighting up the locations of the aircraft set to bombard the area.

"We won’t interfere," May said firmly, "You don’t need a battalion for an extraction. Four can pull it off." All four of them grinned.

From behind them on the ramp, someone called out, "Five is better." Asia turned to see Coulson walking purposefully up the ramp towards them. He too had a grin on his face.

"You're in? I thought we all had to be level eight to discuss this," Skye questioned, still clearly upset about her clearance level.

Coulson shrugged, "We're not discussing anything."

Not a single member of the team could keep the smile off of their faces.

Chapter Text

There was not a more relieving sight for Asia Monroe in the history of any point of her life than seeing Grant Ward and Leo Fitz board the Bus, dust flying around their bruised and battered bodies. She looked at Coulson beside her, and he gave her a subtle nod. Not wasting a second, the agent jolted forward, reaching the two within a matter of seconds and throwing her arms around the both of them. They were there, completely, concrete and human, smelling both of sweat, blood, and each of their individual scent. Ward's being faintly of aftershave and soap, Leo's being of spice.

"Oh thank god," She whispered, pressing her lips quickly to each of their cheeks quickly, squeezing them again, and pulling away, "I thought you were done for. I thought that was it."

Ward rolled his eyes, "Jesus, Monroe, give me some credit. Not to mention Fitz here, he really saved the day."

"What?" Asia said, turning to Leo, a smile on her face, "You saved Ward's ass?"

"Erm, yes, I did," Leo said, scratching the back of his head, embarrassed. "The moves you taught me, they came in handy more than I thought." The two of them began to walk into the Lab, where Simmons was standing, a smile on her face.

"Fitz!" She said, clapping her hands together, "You made it back in one piece!"

"He kicked ass, from what I hear," Asia bragged, elbowing her best friend in the ribs.

" I had Ward’s back the whole time," Leo affirmed. "What did you two get up to while I was gone?"

Asia grinned and walked to stand beside Jemma, turning to her. The two women met eyes and smiled. There was a sense of understanding between them.

"We teamed up," Asia said with a nod. Leo's eyes widened, a grin on his perfect lips.

"yes, yes we did!" Jemma affirmed. "Asia saved my life, she shot a superior officer in the chest!" She was practically dancing with glee. Asia couldn't help but smiling, too. Leo's grin, on the other hand, fell right off his face.

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Asia was in her room, tossing a tennis ball at the ceiling and catching it was it fell, when a small knock came at her door. She sat up in bed a little, before calling out, "Come in."

She was surprised when Coulson entered, and sat up even further, to appear relatively at attention. "Coulson, what can I do for you?"

Coulson stood by the edge of her bed, looking at the pictures that adorned her walls now, thanks to Leo. Polaroids mostly, Natasha giving her the bird, Asia piggy-backing on Clint, Natasha kissing Asia's cheek, the three of them in various deserts and bars. Everyone had a story behind it. But in addition to her oldest polaroids were new ones, photos of the entire team sitting on the edge of the Bus ramp, Leo laughing in the lab, Skye and Asia with their eyes screwed and tongues hanging out, Asia giving Ward bunny ears. Coulson smiled lightly at them. "I'd love to hear the stories behind these some time," he began.

"Yes sir, although some of them are not exactly team appropriate," Asia said with a light laugh.

Coulson shrugged, "Regardless, good stories I'm sure. Anyways, Monroe, I just came here to apologize. Firstly, I want you to know I never knew that Ward and Fitz didn't have an extraction. You know I never would have been okay with that." The brunette nodded. "Secondly, I wanted to apologize for how we handled the entire situation, not letting you have intel...that was a poor choice. You are a valued member of this team, you earned your rank. I want you to know I will never let you be disrespected like that again. I hope you can accept my apology."

"Of course," Asia nodded with a smile. Coulson nodded back and turned to leave, but Asia called out to him. "Coulson, one quick question!" the man paused. "What is the Fortification Project?"

Agent Coulson looked back at her, a wry grin on his face, the grin that said he knew a secret and he finally got to spill it. "What, you didn't know?" He asked, "Barton didn't tell you yet? I thought he would never be able to keep the secret it. The Fortification Project is a project created to hand train our next Avengers teammembers. And you, Asia, you're in it."

Chapter Text

"Agent Monroe, late again," Coulson said in a light tone. He was clearly easing, but part of the man still hated her being late.

"Sorry, sorry," Asia said, moving to stand beside Leo, who looked down at her with a soft smile. He could see the sleep still clinging to her face, in the most adorable fashion.

"I forgive you, Monroe, this time," Coulson said with a wink. "Now, back to the fun stuff." He tapped at a tablet a few times and a picture of a darkly handsome man blew up on the screen. He had distinctly European characteristics, with glossy black hair and dark eyes, his skin tan and just a hint of stubble dotting his strong jawline. Skye wiggled her eyebrows in approval. Asia would have found him equally handsome if it weren't for the wad of cash in his hands or the boxes of semi-automatic assault rifles behind him. That, and well, he didn't exactly compare to the man standing beside her.

"This," Coulson said, indicating to the man on the screen, "Is Maciej Chekhov. Son of a Russian diplomat and a Polish gun maker. Guess what he does for a living?" Without skipping a beat or giving any of the agents present a chance to answer, Coulson continued with "He's an arms dealer. He deals with the worst of the worst. Specifically, HYDRA, or what's left of them. Now, of course there's no official proof of this. Daddy makes all of that go away real quick. So, it's going to be our job to get some. And if we can't, we're just going to take him out."

"Take him out?" Leo asked, "Like...pew?" He held up his hand, making a small finger gun and shooting.

"Exactly," Coulson replied, "Pew."

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The job was pretty easy, when it came to missions: Go in, talk enough to get some intel, get out. It would be occurring at a high society party in Russia, requiring one to be dressed to the nines, have looks that could kill, and be able to speak the language fluently.

So, naturally, Coulson chose Asia to complete the task, with Ward on point outside with a trusty sniper rifle, ready for if need be.

"You're going to have to dress....well, a lot differently than you usually do," Coulson explained with a smirk.

"What's that supposed to mean?" Asia asked, playing with the zipper on her black leather jacket, challenging him to come at her.

"Nothing, Monroe, just you're going to have to get....fancy. SHIELD has set aside some options in your size, I suggest you try them on and get opinions." Coulson said with a laugh as he turned and left the room.

Asia looked over towards the corner, where a giant rack of clothes hung in dry-cleaning bags, crossing her arms with a slight 'humph.' There were at least ten different dresses to try on, if not more, and Lord knows what SHIELD thought was acceptable attire. At least there didn't appear to be any shoes, that way she could wear something of her own, something that wouldn't completely kill her to walk in.

Asia pulled out her phone, a rarely used device, and sent a quick text to Skye: Trying on gowns for this mission. Come give your thoughts?
Then proceeded to the rack, carefully zipping open each gown individually. They were each made of different fabrics with different designs. The brunette ran her fingers over each fabric, getting a sense of how it would feel on her skin, of if she would be able to wear it for an overly long period of time.

Admittedly, there was a sense of excitement in the whole ordeal. Natasha was usually the femme fatal sent in on missions like this, while Clint and Asia sat guard, perched up high, or Asia was sent in as a waiter. This was going to be a whole new experience, a chance to prove not only her finely honed spy skills, but also her art of seduction, and her ability to get the job done.

The first dress she tried on was a scalloped, black lace, 90's style halter dress. It was thin, and slightly curve hugging but not too much so. It made Asia feel youthful as she looked in the mirror withing the small, curtained off area where she was changing. (http://www.modcloth.com/shop/dresses/scales-philharmonic-and-modes-dress?utm_source=polyvore&utm_medium=cse&utm_campaign=CPCgowns ) But, it wasn't exactly the right look she was going for. It felt far more...beach party on a Sunday afternoon than Russian extravaganza. Carefully, Asia pulled back the curtain, stepping back into the small, open room, to find Skye standing there, with Jemma next to her, each sporting a cheeky grin.

"Oh boy, that's really...something," Skye said, raising her eyebrows teasingly. Asia's cheeks flushed red.

"Well, I think it's simply lovely. Very appropriate, simple, just....gentle," Jemma chimed in.

And then suddenly, they both held up numbered cards above their heads, as if this were some sort of judging competition. Jemma proudly held up a 9, while Skye sported only a 7.

"Nexxxxt," Skye called out loudly.

"Geez, don't get your panties in a twist," Asia muttered, "It's just dresses." She carefully walked over to the rack of dresses and took off another bagged garment, and concealing herself back in the dressing area. As she undressed in the mirror, the agent stopped, looking towards her reflection. Most of her skin was a soft tan colour, but every now and then, the skin stretched to a milky white, the whiteness only a scar could produce. It was almost as if she were stitched together. She ran her hand over one scar, remembering the moment she received it.

It was in the Congo, and she, Nat, and Clint had been gathering intel on a group of militia. The weather was hot, and the bugs were large, bigger than Asia had ever seen. Asia had been clipped by a machete on her left ribs. Barely a scratch, hardly bled, yet still scarred her skin, a permanent memory of the mistakes they had made.

Looking at her stitched up skin, her stomach dropped. There was no beauty there, not really. Anyone who would ever see her naked flesh would only see pieces, a monster built like Frankenstein, rather than seeing past her marks. There was no seeing past the battles she wore on her body.

Shaking the thoughts out of her head, Asia put on another dress, an ice blue number with a high bodice, that fell in a V. Not too reveling, but rather elegant. And from her shoulders fell a sort of draping cape. The brunette wrinkled her nose slightly. Capes. She had never much liked capes. ( https://www.fameandpartners.com/dresses/dress-in-dreams-345?color=ice-blue&utm_source=polyvore&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=polyvore_us&utm_source=polyvore&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=polyvore ) The colour did not look great on her either. It would probably look gorgeous on Skye, but for her, it just didn't fit.

"Do I have to come out if I hate it?" Asia called out.

"Yes!!" The two female agents chimed from outside simultaneously. Sighing, Asia pulled back the curtain and tenderly stepped out, keeping her head down. Walking forward a few steps, she stopped, twirled, and looked up towards her friends. She jolted to a halt, not so gracefully. Alongside Skye and Jemma sat Leo. All three of them held up cards. Skye's was a 9, Jemma a 6, and Leo an 8.

"I love the cape. love it." Skye chimed in, clapping slightly.

"Well, it's all yours then," Asia said, running a hand through her hair rather awkwardly. "I don't think it's really my style."

"Oh yes please, leave it out for me. We won't tell SHIELD. They don't need to know!" Skye joked.

"Let's see the next one, then," Jemma suggested with a quick nod.

Asia obliged, pulling another gown from the rack and disappearing behind the curtain. When she pulled out the dress, she could not deny it was love at first sight. It was a gorgeous red satin number that hugged her curves tightly. The neckline was plunging, exposing quite a bit of her chest, in a sexy, seductive fashion. The straps formed an X across her back, a small bow resting upon her bottom. It was perfect for this event, she knew it. Slipping into the dress, it fit like a glove, and while it felt slightly more...risque...than she usually dressed, there was no denying this was the dress she wanted. Arranging her curls to fall over one shoulder only, Asia took a deep breath and pulled back the curtain, stepping out towards her friends. (https://popmap.com/page/item/471582/honey-couture-red-satin-mult-tie-wrap-formal-gown-maxi-dress )

There was silence. All three of them looked at her, mouths slightly agape.

"That's it," Skye said finally, "That's the one." She held up a ten, as did Jemma. Leo slowly raised his little number card, holding a ten, with the zero crossed out in place of an 11.

Nothing else was needed, this was the one.

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The briefing went by so quickly, Asia almost didn't even notice it was happening until it was over. She was given her own tablet with the plans and fitted for a small, discreet comms unit, disguised as a dangling earing.

"The bullet proof vest...well...that won't exactly work with your dress. Is that okay?" Coulson asked, sitting down across from Agent Monroe.

"Yea, it'll be fine," Asia replied, scrolling through the information at her fingertips. "If anything, it'll make me look more trustworthy. I can't be hiding much."

"Except these," Leo chimed in, entering the room, holding what appeared to be two, thick golden bracelets. "Your wristlets, your knives...well, not your originals. These are my, erm, own design." He set them down on the table in front of them, scratching the back of his head uncomfortably.

Asia smiled, and reached forward carefully, grabbing the bracelets and clicking them around her wrists. She examined them, looking for the usual pressure point she activated to click out the knives, but could not see one.

"They are fingerprint activated!" Leo chimed in excitedly. "The knife is determined by the finger you use, index finger for just a plane knife, middle finger for a sleep serum, and ring finger for..well, poison. You can never be too safe after all."

"Thanks, Leo," Asia said earnestly, sliding off her stool and picking up the train of her dress so she could walk over to him, wrapping him in a tight hug. "I appreciate it. I'm sure I'll put these to good use."

"I hope you don't have to," Coulson interrupted, and the two agents quickly leapt back from their hug, both faces turning a soft red. "This mission, while not the most dangerous you've ever been on, won't be safe by any means. If you need extraction, Agent Monroe, you make that call, okay?"

"Yes, sir," Asia stood at alert, replying with a quick nod. "I don't plan on getting myself in any tricky situations, but I will make the call if it is necessary."

"Good, and you'll do good to remember it," Coulson said with a nod, before leaving the room. The briefing was over. It was go time.

"Asia," Leo said quietly, grabbing her wrist as she turned to leave. She looked back at him, at his soft, gentle eyes. It hurt to watch her go, it truly did. They wouldn't have their secret comms this time, she was going in alone, uncharted territory. "Be safe out there, okay? Come back to us."

Asia gave Leo a sad smile, before saying "I'll try my best." And with that, she turned, and left the room.

Chapter Text

Entering the event was as much as what Asia imagined entering a prom would be like. She stood at the top of a large staircase, slowly making her way down (mostly due to the fact that her heels were a lot more complicated than she imagined them to be, if she was being honest). A few people turned to look at her, but not many. She blinked twice, quickly, and thanks to the geniuses in the lab, the contact in Monroe's left eye activated, and began to read the faces of the people in front of her. She slowly looked left to right, as "You Don't Own Me," by Grace, with G-Eazy, played lightly in the background. The crowd was all very youthful, around her age, and that made it only more difficult to find the man in question. She continued to scan, letting the little piece of sky equipment do it's work.

Suddenly, near the open bar, a small red circle blinked, and Asia knew the culprit had been found. Agent Monroe changed the direction of her walk and slowly wove her way towards the bar. "In sight," Asia whispered, in Russian, into her ear piece. Hopefully they had translations running back on the Bus, because she didn't plan on speaking a word of English unless it was an emergency. She could feel the eyes of a few men, and maybe a woman or two, on her as she moved, and their gaze put a confident smile on her face as she approached the bar, leaning against the shiny mahogany. "What's a girl gotta do to get a drink around here?" She drawled in perfect Russian, taught to her by Natasha herself.

The bartender moved to polish off a glass for her when the shadow of a man beside her tickled her skin. "What does a beautiful woman like yourself want to drink tonight?" He asked in thick Russian.

Asia looked up into the eyes of the very man they wanted an smiled coyly. "Whatever you're having, Mister....?" She waited for him to fill the silence with his name.

"Chekhov, Maciej Chekhov," he replied, picking up her left hand and kissing it softly before releasing it. "And may I have the pleasure of your name?"

"Ayanna Volkov. What an honour it is, to meet THE Maciej Chekhov," she purred in Russian, "I cannot believe it is actually you, here, at this very party, talking to a little flower like me."

"Little flower, hmm?" He grinned, tucking a curl behind her ear, "So I take it you've heard of me?"

"Anyone who hasn't is a fool, or living under a rock," She replied, playing to his ego.

This comment only made his grin wider, and Asia knew she had used the right effect. He turned to the bartender and ordered two shots of vodka, and Asia would not have expected anything else from a Russian. The bartender obliged, pouring two perfect shots and setting them down in front of the couple.

The pair grabbed their shots and clinked them, just the tiniest bit of liquid overflowing, before throwing the drinks back and pounding the empty shot glasses onto the counter. The sharp burn of vodka hit Asia's throat, but she fought back any look of disgust. Natasha had taught her well.

"So, little flower," Maciej continued on, "What brings you to a party like this? Not that I'm upset you're here."

"Well if I'm being completely honest," Asia said with a coy little smile, "I'm here for you, Mr. Chekhov." There was no lie in this statement, though it was not in the same way the man in front of her would take it.

"Me you say?" A haughty smile flashed on his face, the kind which caused most girls to go weak at the knees. In all honesty, it was probably good Asia was still leaning against the bar. "Whatever do you mean by that, little flower? You're here for a dance?"

"Well," Asia said, batting her eyelashes, "A dance would be nice, but I also need to talk business with you, Mr. Chekhov." She smoothed out a few wrinkles on her lowcut dress, swaying from side to side slightly. "You wouldn't object to a little business chat while we talk, would you?"

"How could I say no to a beautiful woman like you, little flower?" Maciej chuckled. While Asia felt confident he was falling for it, a part of her worried that he was not completely. Perhaps he was seeing through her tricks and playing her right back. The only way to know for sure was to keep going. "Come," he said, taking her hand and pulling her out towards the dance floor. The song had switched now, to another distinctly American band, TwentyOne Pilots, and their song Heathens.

"You like the American music, hmm?" Asia questioned, with only the tiniest wrinkle of her nose, as she looked at the couples around them, the Russian women slowly grinding up on their Russian men, most of whom probably did not even understand the words to the song being played.

"You know English, little flower?" Maciej teased, "Impressive. Who would have thought a pretty girl like you would also have the brains. And yes, I do like some of ze American music. Not all of it, but there are a few good notes."

"I don't just have the brains," she said seductively, moving her body to sway up against him to the music, "I have everything." Their dance was like to predatory animals circling around one another, each thinking the other to be the prey. It was dangerous, but slightly beautiful. They took turn as the lead, and each took their turn by force.

"So you want to talk business, eh?" Maciej pulled back her hair forcefully to whisper in her ear, then counteracted the angry move with an opposing tender kiss to her earlobe.

"Business, yes," Asia said, pulling out of his embrace and placing one hand on his chest, pushing him back to the music, then allowing him to pull her into a spin, and push her back out.

As the shimmied up and down to the beat, tossing her curls, she leaned in to whisper in his ear, "Your kind of business, to be precise."

"And what exactly, little flower, do you think my business is?" He purred back, twirling her around in his arms so they were facing each other. "As well known as you think I am, most people do not...ehh...know all of my secrets."

Asia gave him a crooked little grin and leaning back once more to whisper in his ear, "Arms deals, darling." Flirtatiously, she mirrored his act of kissing her earlobe, but instead she lightly bit his flesh before pulling away, pleased to see the red blush on his cheeks, feeling proud. This is what Natasha had trained her for. This right here, was it. And it felt good, being powerful.

"Why would a pretty thing like you be buying illegal weapons, if you do not mind me asking?" Maciej said in a husky voice, licking his pink lips. "You are far too pretty to be getting your hands...bloodied."

Asia smiled softly, running her hands over his shoulder and down his back, pulling him closer as they danced. "Clearly you've never met a pretty girl quite like me, Maciej," she purred. "Have you not heard of the Volkov family before? I'm quite disappointed."

"You mean..." the man in front of her trailed off, his mouth open slightly agape, an impressed glint in his eyes. "Do not tell me you are the illusive Black Wolf?"

Of course, she was not. The Volkov's weren't even a real family, just a spoof name which SHIELD had been dropping for years, feeding to newspapers and blog writers alike, placing blame to them wherever they could, building up a solid fake reputation. There were different heads of this fake group, but most recently SHIELD had been dropping information about a woman who only went by the "Black Wolf" name, leaving her as elusive as possible that any female member of SHIELD could have filled in her place. So, Asia nodded, a sly smile on her red stained lips. "I hate to ruin your daydream, or should I say...night fantasy...but I've already got my poor hands quite bloody. And now, the Volkov family wants to do business with you."

"Let me see the tattoo then," Maciej said, motioning for her to turn around, thinking perhaps, if it was a lie, that he would catch her in it. It was well known this alleged Black Wolf had the tiniest tattoo of a wolf's head on her lower back, right on the spine. So, as he asked, she spun.

Right above the edge of her satin dress, on the lowest point of her back, one could make out two, tiny black wolf ears. Asia could feel his cold fingers brush along her skin and pushing the dress down ever so slightly, to see the rest of the ink. Courtesy of Simmon's and her amazing talents, the tattoo had healed to perfection. It looked as if she had had it for ages. From behind her, the man emitted a murmur of approval. She turned back around, a pleased smile on her face.

"Well, it's an honour," Maciej said, taking her hand and pressing the back of it to her lips. "If I had known I was talking to the Black Wolf...well, perhaps I would have started this thing entirely different...." He trailed off, an almost embarrassed smile on his face.

"What?" She asked, a pout on her lips. "You wouldn't have courted me like you did?" She bit her lower lip seductively.

His cheeks her pink, and Asia liked the sense of power filling her body. "No, no, that's not what I mean, little flower," he purred, pulling her close again, "Just perhaps I would have...oh no, it is better not to suggest such things. But I do like the idea of a partnership...with you, and with your family," His face was very close to her's now, and Asia was not entirely sure if she wanted him to put his gentle looking lips on her own. Not when everyone could hear, surely not when Leo could hear. But she did have to play her part, she could not let external feelings affect her performance, her job. So she would let him, perhaps even encourage him.

"A partnership, with me?" She whispered, her words tickling his chin with hot breath. "You flatter me, Maciej."

"Oh, there are more things than just a partnership that I want from you," he said, his voice almost breaking. And then, he placed the softest of butterfly kisses upon her lips, and then his lips her gone. It seemed so contrary to his character, this gentle little thing, and it surprised her. Perhaps there was more layers to this than she had expected.

"Well," she replied with the smallest giggle, "As interesting as that sounds, we must take care of the business first, my family would not be too pleased otherwise."

"Ah yes, the business, the business. Well, we have to go to a backroom for that. All of my agreements and my...stocks...are there. Is this okay with you, little flower?"

In her ear, Asia could suddenly hear Coulson saying, "No, Agent Monroe. Stand down. We don't have eyes on that room."

But before she could even speak, Asia could hear her mouth moving to form the word 'yes.'

Chapter Text

Leo Fitz did not like this, not one bit, not at all. Anyone could tell with one look at him, pacing about the lab, hands occasionally running nervously through his curly locks, moving from the Lab into the briefing room to listen to the rapid Russian that he couldn't even understand, not bothering to read the translations, before pacing back into the Lab, and repeating the entire cycle again.

He had been doing this since the moment Phil Coulson told Agent Monroe not to break orders, and she turned around and broke all the orders. They had no sights on her, even though Ward was moving about rooftops attempting to get vision, find a good shot. What Leo wouldn't give for Clint Barton himself to be the one up on those rooftops protecting his best friend. Surely, someone had to get the girl in vision. He couldn't believe how reckless she was being. How could she?? Going into the deep corners of some building with a dangerous criminal? Ridiculous. He was going to give her a serious talking to when she got back. If she got back.

It was that 'if' that made him pace endless circles. The rest of the team couldn't look at the poor scientist, because simply glancing at him was enough to send waves of worry into their own stomachs. Of course, they could still hear everything Asia was saying, letting the computer auto-translate her Russian to English for all of them to understand. She had been doing a great job, before the small digression from the game plan.

"Ward," Coulson barked out, "Do you have eyes on Monroe yet?"

Over comms, Ward's voice crackled through, rife with frustration, "No, not yet. I'm switching buildings again. There's got to be a line of sight somewhere.....the only center room is that damn ballroom and we even had eyes on that."

"Don't rule out hidden rooms," May gave her input calmly. She had faith, or at least enough faith to not display a hint of worry. Agent Monroe was well trained, she would be fine. She had to be fine.

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Meanwhile, Asia was following the handsome, dark man through the dimly lit halls of the large building, pretending to admire the paintings on the wall, when in reality she was memorizing their route. She might need a quick escape, and knowing her surroundings would be the only good way.

She had listened to Coulson shout in her ear, but she didn't turn back. She had heard Ward, a touch of concern, suggest maybe she get in a place he where he could see her, but she didn't turn back. She could even faintly hear Leo cursing and mumbling in his beautifully accented voice, hear his worry, but still she didn't turn back. Strike Team Delta wouldn't turn back. She had a job to do, and she would get it done. Nothing would make her turn back.

It helped that he seemed to buy her cover completely. Without that, she would be in a much more difficult situation.

As they continued on through, they made small talk, Asia continuing to smile coyly, winking at the man on occasion, playing into his ego. And Maciej ate it up. It was perfect.

"Alright, little flower, are you ready to see what I have to offer?" He asked in a low whisper. Faintly, Asia could still hear the music thumping in the background.

"I hope it lives up to expectations," she said teasingly. "Father wouldn't like it much if I came back empty handed."

"So your father sends you to do his dirty work, hmm?" the man mused.

"No," Asia replied harshly, "My father and I work together, or we work not at all."

Maciej held his hands up in a mock-surrender, chuckling slightly. "I didn't mean to offend," he explained. "I was simply curious. I didn't know you all worked so tightly together."

"There are many things you do not know about the Volkov's," Asia replied cryptically. If only he knew the half of it.

Shaking his head, the tall man pulled a key from his pocket. It was small, golden, and semi-distinct. Asia did her best to take note of it, to remember it if she were to steal it. Everything about this situation was in the details, she knew that's what Clint would tell her if he were here.

Still, she wasn't prepared for what she saw when he opened the doors. Nothing would have prepared her for that.

Chapter Text

Humans. There were humans, everywhere. In chambers of sorts, being contained, being worked on. The lights high above them glowed a dull blue. The smell of blood was intense, flooding her systems with its irony scent. She had to fight back a gag. "Coulson," she hissed in English. "This is bad."

Coulson immediately was responding, asking what she was seeing, what was going on. Using the contact lens technology, Asia blinked twice, taking photographs of the scene in front of her and sending them back to the Bus. This was insane. It was inhumane. It was exactly like what had happened to Mike Peterson, the man the team had been unable to save, the mission before Asia had arrived. She had seen the files.

"People?" Asia finally choked out, "You're new weapons are....people?" She was unable to mask her own genuine surprise. This was....inhumane was only the beginning of how to describe the scene before her.

Maciej chuckled, a proud and pleased grin on his face..and was that...a twinkle in his eye? Yes, yes it was. Asia felt sick. Her stomach was summersaulting, and not in a good fashion. She thought she might puke. "Yes, little flower, what better weapon against humans than...well, better humans? There is none. These...superhuman things we are creating here. They are the next world weapon. World War 3 will be fought not by guns, but by power."

Asia kept blinking and blinking, there was no other real response she could muster. She did not know what to do next, what to say next, so she stood, dumbfounded. It wasn't until Coulson spoke in her ear that she could think clearly.

"You need to blow the place, Asia. Get away from him, plant those devices we gave you, and get out as fast as you can." His words were calm, gentle, but a clear order.

"But Coulson," she whispered back when Maciej's head was turned. "There are people in here. Living people."

"Understood, Agent Monroe," Coulson replied. "But with everything we have seen from this project, they are not within saving. These people will be harvested as weapons or they will be killed in the process. There is no saving them, Agent Monroe. So do as you are ordered and come home safe."

Asia took a deep breath and turned towards her enemy, that tall, dark, handsome man. "Well, are you going to make me just look, or will you show me around?" She flashed him a coy smile, or at least she hoped it appeared as such.

"Of course, Little Flower," He said, taking her hand once more and softly pressing his lips against it. "Anything for a beauty like you." And he began to weave her deeper within the throngs of experiments. People. People jacked into electronics. It was sickening, the whole thing, and the worse thought was that they would all be dead soon. They would not be given the choice between good and evil--the choice would be made for them. And it was a choice made by her hand. Yet, she followed her orders.

She knew no other way. Orders had been her life as long as she could remember. Coulson spoke strictly and smoothly in her ear, instructing where to place each minibomb. The bombs were created by FitzSimmons in the Lab, appearing to be small USBs. She would run her hands over pieces of electronics, appearing to be inspecting them, and then, discretely, slip the chips into place, the devices activating when they came in contact with electric current. She had 30 minutes to get out before the room would explode. How many innocents would die? She thought back to the ballroom. How many of those people were just brought as guests? How many had no ties to Hydra or any other evil group?

But there was no time for that. Her mission was not to save people. She was not a hero today, she was only an agent. An agent trained by Strike Team Delta to be the next assassin. Trained to be in the new Avengers when the time came. So she did her job. With cold, calculated precision, she performed exactly how she was taught, all the while her heart thumping, her stomach begging her to stop, to run.

"Now get out, Agent Monroe," Coulson said in her ear. His voice was gentle, fatherly.

"Hurry up, Monroe," Ward said. Surely he was up above somewhere, waiting for her to get out, waiting to see her safe. "You've only got ten minutes left before they go off."

Asia turned to look at Maciej, a smile on her face. "My family....we will take ten to start, if that is possible."

"Anything is possible for you, little flower," he said with a grin. "Just take your pick."

Asia mused for a moment, eyes drifting over each experimental figure. "Ah yes....But first, may I excuse myself to the powder room for a quick moment?" She batted her eyes softly.

"Yes, yes, let me show you the way," he said, wrapping an arm around her waist to guide her, his hand resting on the small of her back.

"No, no, that is alright," Asia replied, trying to extract herself from his hold. "I am not a child, I can find it myself."

The target grinned. "A child, oh no, anyone would be foolish to think of you as a child. You're most definitely a woman." There was a predatory gaze in his eyes, a sort of hunger for her, a hunger which she had not seen in a while. "I insist on showing you the way," he said, leaning in to whisper in her ear.

Seeing no other way, Agent Monroe nodded. "Alright, I suppose I can allow you to do so." And she let him, let him steer her out of the room and down the same hall of which they had just gone. They walked at an average pace, turning left down a separate hall. He stopped the two of them in front of a door.

"The powder room is in there, I'll be waiting for you. Don't be too long now," he gave her a devilish wink. Asia smiled and slipped in the door, shutting it firmly behind her.

The room was large and decorated with gold and red. The sinks were gold, laid within marble. There were red velvet couches near the door. Small bowls of mints were next the sinks. Large mirrors lined the wall.

"Okay Monroe," she whispered to herself, "Think. Think. Think." There was an airvent, but lord knows how long it would take to get through there. There was also a small window. It would work well enough, she could fit through it. Quickly, she slipped off her painful heels and grabbed at the window ledge, shoving at it. The old wood let out a loud squeak which rebounded off the walls.

"Little flower, is everything ok?" The man outside the door called.

"yes, yes, everyhting is fine!" Asia called out immediately, "I'll be out in a minute!" She turned and saw the door handle wiggling slightly. Clearly he didn't believe her. With force, Asia jumped, pushing herself up onto the window sill and looking out. There was a dumpster below, a back alley. Or, she could grapple up, up towards where Ward would probably be waiting. Up was looking like the far better option. She took one of her heels, activating the grappling hook mechanism within it. Using as much leverage as she could, she hurled the heel up, holding onto the cord which dangled behind it.

Behind her the door thrust open with a shattering sound. "What the hell?" Maciej called out, running towards the window. With a hard shove, Asia pushed herself off, smacking into the wall on the other side of the alley. She gave two quick tugs, causing the cord to reel her upwards. She looked back at the window behind her, and instead of anger, the face in the window had mostly just pain. The was the last thing she saw before fire lit up the building and an explosion rocked the block.

Chapter Text

The explosion pulsed through Asia's entire body and she slammed hard against the wall in front of her, the force of the blow also thrusting her upwards, scrapping her body against the brick wall, cutting her pale skin.

"Agent Monroe" Coulson said calmly through her speaker, although there was a slight waver in his voice. It sounded like he was about to speak again when an all-too-familiar Scottish voice crackled through her comms, cutting Coulson off completely.

"Asia! Are you alright?" his voice was filled with panic.

"Yea, yea, I'm fine," she replied with a grunt, gasping as she collided with the wall again. "Would be much, much better if Ward were to help me up this wall so we can get the hell out of here."

As if on queue, Ward appeared over the edge, a look of concern in his eyes. He grabbed at the cord which she clung tightly to, and began to haul her upwards. The red and blue lights of emergency vehicles began to light up the surrounding area. "This is going to be an interesting one to explain to the foreign government," Asia heard Coulson muttering.

There was never a more comforting feeling in Agent Monroe's entire life than the instant Ward grabbed her hand and hauled her over the edge. It was done, the mission was over. They had all gotten out safely. That hell hole, whatever it was, was gone for good. Asia wanted nothing more than to be back in the safety of the Bus, out of this dress, and far, far away from the rubble and sound of sirens.

And it wasn't long before she was. She was greeted by her concerned friends, Skye throwing her arms around her in a tight hug, causing Asia to wince in pain. Maybe that blast against the wall had done a little more damage than she had felt at the time. Adrenaline tended to do that.

"Here, come with me," Jemma said, noticing the pain rippling over the brunette's face. She grabbed Asia's hand gently, a gesture which surprised Asia to say the least. The ice had been broken between the two, yet they weren't exactly the best of pals. Nonetheless, Asia followed the scientist willingly, knowing she would feel much better after Jemma's care. She was also painfully aware of Leo following behind them, biting at his lower lip with worry.

"I'm fine, really," Asia said after she had changed out of the red dress into a white tanktop and black sweatpants. She was scrapped and bruised, for sure, but nothing that would render her useless. Nothing broken, nothing sprained. Ice and stitches maybe.

"Oh shush now," Jemma quieted her, pushing her back against the rather hospital-esque bed she was sitting on. "You need to sit still while I sterilize these and stitch a few up. Can't have you bleeding to death, now can we?"

"No we cannot!" Leo interjected, "That would, that would just not be any good at all." Asia couldn't help but crack a smile.

"Well, let's get this show on the road then," the injured agent said with a sigh. She was itching to get back to the debrief room, figure out just what had been going on in that building. "Coulson needs me."

"Well, the whole team needs you," Jemma replied with a smile. "Now shut up and let me work, please."

Asia couldn't help but comply.

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When she finally got to the debrief room, Coulson, May, and Ward were already there, standing in a huddle, looking at enlarged images of the shots Asia had snapped. Concerned looks covered all three faces, even May's.

"Hey guys, don't let me interrupt the party," Asia said, voice dripping in sarcasm. Coulson looked up, lips pressed in a thin line.

"Welcome back, Agent Monroe. Glad to see Jemma patched you up," he said in a calm voice, contrary to his expression.

"You know me, bouncing back from everything, especially when I have such a good doctor," she shrugged. "So, what exactly did we find? You know, before everything went 'boom.'"

"Looks like the same technology that we experienced with Mike Peterson," May said, crossing her arms over her chest.

"Bad news," Coulson said, "For everyone. It means they've continued work that we have put in such an effort to stop. But...with the work tonight, we've put quite a stop to their progression. Good job, Agent Monroe."

"Oh psh, I did nothing," Asia said with a slight smile, "Couldn't have done it without you guys, of course."

"As nice of a sentiment as that is, we have bigger problems." Coulson said. As he spoke, Skye, Leo, and Jemma filed in, gathering around the screen. "At 0-800 hours three men infiltrated the Havenworth Federal Penitentiary," he continued, pulling up footage for them all to see. "They were in and out in less than 2mintues. Left no prints at the scene, but we do have one lead." The screen shifted, pulling up an image of the Centipede technology, the technology Asia had just helped destroy, the technology on Mike Peterson's arm.

"Centipede." Ward growled, brow furrowing.

"It appears that though we've destroyed four bases now, they've managed to salvage some of their technology," Coulson said with a sigh. The work salvaged had made it possible for them to stop the explosions from the Centipede workers.

"Who did they break out?" May asked flatly.

"Edison Po, former Marine, expert in tactics and rapid response." Coulson said, pulling up an image of the man next. "He fell off the grid in ’08, reappeared 18 months ago at a diner in Boston."

"Where he stabbed a friend's eye out?" Asia asked, studying the file image and data.

"With a steak knife, then finished his meal." Coulson nodded.

The thought made Asia slightly uneasy, stomach doing small flips.

"Finding Po and these Centipede Soldiers is a top notch priority for S.H.I.E.L.D. We’ll be running point, but we won’t be working alone," Coulson finished, closing down the screen.

"What team did HQ send this time?" Ward asked with a smirk, as if anyone else from SHIELD could possibly do better than his surrounding team.

"Not a team, a person. Someone who can help us fight fire with fire." their team leader replied.

"Someone we've worked with before?" Skye pipped up.

Coulson turned to the team and smirked. "Not exactly."

Chapter Text

"It’s not good, at all. The guy was a ticking time bomb, literally," Ward said as he, Asia, Fitz, Simmons, and Skye all stood around a screen, watching the footage of Mike Peterson saving a woman from a building. It was footage Asia had not previously seen, from before she had joined the team.

"HQ wouldn’t have sent him if he was still combustible," Leo pointed out, gesturing at the screen, "They must have figured out some sort of was to stabilize him, somehow."

"They stabilize his attitude? Cause he was pretty hostile in Union Station," Ward shot back. Asia gave him a warning look, arching one of her eyebrows.

"Well," Simmons began slowly, "it’s not like we haven’t opened up our doors to other people, people with questionable track records."

Skye's mouth dropped open in a little 'O.' "Hey," she objected, "Not cool. True, but not cool. And don’t worry about Mike, he’s a good guy."

"Who has been in the Centipede Program..." Asia pointed out, "The program we just worked to destroy in Russia."

"But he can give us the superpower back we might need," Skye countered.

"Might need," Asia repeated, crossing her arms over her chest, delicately feeling the bruises that still lined her skin.

"It could easily go sideways," Ward continued on. "We don't need anyone getting hurt." From behind Ward, Coulson and Mike quietly entered the room, but Ward didn't seem to notice the entry, continuing on with what he was saying. " I mean the last time we saw this guy, he was a raging homicidal maniac..." Asia's eyes widened, and the rest all froze in place, glancing behind Ward awkwardly. Ward let out a sigh. "He's standing right behind me, isn't he?"

Skye nodded, wincing slightly at how awkward the situation had just become.

"Mr. Peterson," Coulson introduced, "This is Agent Grand Ward. He's the one who shot you at Union Staiton." Ward rubbed the back of his head awkwardly, offering a pained smile. Coulson continued, pointing at Leo and Jemma. "This is Fitz-Simmons, they designed the weapon that shot you," he turned towards Skye. "And I think you remember--"

"Kidnap victim," Skye butted in,moving forward to give Mike a hug. "You joined SHIELD?"

"Turns out the guys in the suits aren't so bad," Mike replied with a laugh. "And it looks like you added someone new to your team, too," he said, nodding towards Asia.

Asia gave a little wave, smiling lightly. "Agent Monroe, but you can call me Asia. Brought in right after Union Station."

Mike sighed at the mention of the station. "Look, I know Union Station could have gone another way. Another team might not have let me out of there alive. I owe you, all of you." His words were incredibly sincere, it didn't take an expert spy to see he wasn't lying.

Before anyone could speak, Skye cut in. "Oh psh, That’s bygones and water under a distant bridge far away. How's your son doing?"

"He's good, he's happy," Mike replied with a smile.

Coulson, finished with intros, walked over to the holocom. "So, what do we have?"

Skye jumped into detailing what more she had found from any info Asia had managed to obtain. One of the new info leads they had found was a man named Po, a man recently jail-breaked by some Centipede soldiers, but there wasn't much out there on him.

"Look into his life inside the prison, see if that leads you anywhere," Coulson replied before turning to Jemma and Leo. "Anything more on the Centipede Soldiers?"

"We got facial recog on most of the one's from the prison break," Jemma replied as Ward tapped some buttons until a face appeared on the screen.

"Name’s Brian Hayward. Stationed in Afghanistan for three years, then fell off the radar when he got back," Ward said, nodding towards the face.

"Only living family is a sister named Laura, sophomore at the University of Ohio," Asia continued, putting in her two cents on the matter.

"Well, let's start there," Coulson replied, "She's going to be our best way of getting connected to him. Tell May to set courses for Cleveland."

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Asia sat quietly on a bench near the college, dressed in black leggings and an University of Ohio sweatshirt, drinking from a starbucks and reading a book, a backpack sitting next to her feet. She blended right in. Over coms, she could hear Ward and Coulson chatting.

"“Psychology of Women: Unraveling the Female Psyche.”" Ward said with thick sarcasm.

"That's an actual book?" Coulson scoffed. Asia rolled her eyes.

"It's a whole course actually," Ward replied, "Hayward's sister is in there right now."

"What's your thoughts on that, Monroe?" Coulson asked over coms with a laugh.

"If any of these guys on campus had half a brain, they'd be in that classroom right now," Asia replied flatly.

Coulson let out a laugh. "Monroe, keep eyes open, let us know when she leaves the room. Ward, you'll catch her on the way out. Whole class…on women. Time was, you just had to figure them out. Solving the puzzle was half the fun."

"You solve a lot of puzzles in your day?" Ward asked, and that was the point when Asia began to tune out their conversation.

"A few. Some more worth it than others. One was…especially rewarding," Coulson replied. Asia could hear the smile in his voice.

"What happened?" Ward asked, more interested in actual details than concern for his comrade.

"I died," Coulson replied flatly.

"Oh," Ward said with a short nod. "I guess she wasn't level seven, Sir?"

Coulson shook his head, She was a cellist, second chair, Portland Symphony. Saw her play whenever I was in town. Ever see a beautiful woman play the cello? It’s something else. She laughed at my jokes, too, which was a very nice bonus."

"You know where she is now?" Ward asked. Asia turned a page in her book, pretending to scan the words as she actually scanned the campus in front of her.

"Of course I do," Coulson replied quickly, as if this were the dumbest question on earth.

"I'm sorry sir...Maybe if she had been part of the agency?" Ward replied.

Coulson sighed, "In my experience, that's just asking for trouble."

A sharp pang flooded Asia's chest at the words Coulson had spoken. Asking for trouble. Is that what she was doing? Maybe. Either way, now she knew Coulson would never approve. She lowered the volume on her coms and focused on the task at hand...

A few minutes later, Skye's voice came through, telling them all she was sending them a briefing. Asia's watch buzzed, and she replied saying she had received her copy. It was intel on Po. They had found something. Asia was about to open the file, but there was movement from within the building, and the doors opened, students flooding out. Asia scanned the crowd, looking for one girl in particular.

"Coulson, I got her, she's on the move." Asia said casually, shifting to place her book in her backpack and throw it over her shoulder. She eased into the flow of students, a few paces behind their target. "Headed right for ya." She said on coms, a smile sliding over her lips.

When she reached a fork, Asia veered left, towards where Lola was parked, out of view of the students, and she slipped into the back seat, throwing her bag on the floor. "God am I glad this isn't my day to day practice," she said of the notion of college.

"You and me both," Coulson replied, "Though, if you wanted, you could take some time, get a degree in something." He paused, letting the words sink in, keeping an eye on Ward who was off working his magic, pretending to be a man who worked for the Lottery.

"Me, a degree?" Asia scoffed. "I've already got on in ass-kicking, and I was never too good at school anyways. Psychology, maybe, would be fun." The brunette shrugged, "But being an agent is a full time job."

"I'm not saying you have to," Coulson said with a laugh, "I'm only saying the offer is on the table, if you want it."

Ward slid back into the car before Asia could reply. "Well, not sure why you wanted to go with the lottery, Sir, it's a hard sell."

"Exactly," Coulson replied, "Nothing makes people more suspicious than a handsome man offering them free money." Coulson's tablet began to beep rapidly. "Let the show begin. She's making the call now." The tablet began to light up, turning into a green grid, honing in on a location in California.

"Where are we headed?" Monroe asked from the back seat, where she was pulling off the sweatshirt and reaching for a black tshirt from her bag. "Hey, eyes to the front," she joked, catching both men glancing at her in the rearview mirror.

"He's in Oakland, California. You two ready for some heat?" And they sped off, leaving thoughts of the college far behind.

Chapter Text

Asia hopped down the spiral staircase into the cargo bay, finding Leo, Jemma, Ward, and Mike already there, Mike dressed fully in black. Asia let out a whistle, "Man did they ever trick you out. Nice suit, Mike," She greeted in a friendly tone, coming to rest standing next to Leo, looking at the tablet in his hand.

"Nice, isn't it?" Leo whispered to her, showing her the specs quickly on the screen.

"Very," Asia whispered back with a quick grin, patting his shoulder twice. Above them, there were steps on the staircase and Coulson descended, followed by Skye and May.

"Hayward’s cellphone has been traced to an abandoned factory about eight miles from here," Coulson said, typing at his tablet to blow up and overhead view of the factory for all of them to see.

"Probably Centipede’s new lab," Ward suggested, glancing at the building.

Coulson nodded, "Certainly been their MO, we destroy one factory they set up another putting us back to square one. Though thanks to Agent Monroe, we took out a pretty big one last time. They must be hurting," he nodded at the agent appreciatively. "But it has to stop. This time, I want answers."

May nodded, "Means we go in quiet. Minimal damage, minimal noise."

Coulson nodded in agreement, "Ward, May, you'll go in the West side. Mr. Peterson and I will enter in the loading dock. Simmons, Monroe, you'll run backup from the outside." Asia opened her mouth to object, but Coulson cut her off. "Asia, you're still healing from last time. Not only that, but your face is fresh to their whole facility. They've probably got a hit on you by now. No need to take pointless risks."

"So we're doing this just us?" Skye asked, skeptical. "No back up? Shouldn't SHIELD be sending in squads for something big like this?"

"Trust me, they already did," Coulson said in a satisfied voice, glancing over at Mike approvingly.

"let's move," May said with finality.

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Leo, Jemma, Skye, and Asia were all piled into a discrete van outside the the warehouse. Despite what Coulson told her, Asia suited up anyways, ready to run in at a moments notice.

"We alone in here?" Coulson asks over coms.

"It appears so," Simmons frowned, looking down at her tablet. "The only heat signature we're reading are yours."

"But there's some sort of weird electronic signal," Skye said, typing quickly at her laptop, "I'm working on isolating it as we speak."

"Think we're too late?" Ward asked, "Looks pretty emptied out."

"Fitz," Coulson ordered, "Dial Hayward's number."

Leo nodded and quickly tapped some buttons, "Done and done," he replied over coms. They can hear the phone ringing over coms. Suddenly, all the screens in the van light up and begin to beep rapidly. "Sir, you've got company," Leo said, tapping away at his screen.

A cacophony of sounds begins to blow up their coms, making it difficult to hear. Gunfire, shouting, flesh hitting fabric. Asia clenched automatically, ready to make a break for it, but Leo grabbed her wrist, holding her in place. "You're not going in," he whispered, concern in his eyes.

"But," Asia started to say, the sounds on the coms making her itch to get in the thick of it, to protect her comrades.

"No, you heard what Coulson said. You're not getting anywhere near this unless absolutely necessary. And it's not," Leo said, and Asia had never heard him so full of concern before. She sighed, leaning against the wall of the van, watching his monitor.

Suddenly, the one's displaying Mike's suit and body systems began to light up.

"What's happening?" Skye asked, panic in her voice.

"His systolic and diastolic pressures are dropping," Jemma said, voice dripping with concern.

"Heart rate is plummeting as well," Leo put in.

"Sir, he’s in bad shape. Between the physical exertion and this wound his vitals are dangerously low," Jemma said rapidly over coms, the nervousness portraying in her voice, as well as the small quiver of her hands.

And they were forced to listen and wait, for the worst. For what might happen next. Finally, Coulson came over coms. "Mission fail, we're coming back."

Chapter Text

Bam! Asia's fist slammed against the punching bag, followed by another blow, and another. Over and over, the force sending ripples through her still injured body, causing her to wince, gritting her teeth through the pain. With each punctuated punch, a little bit of Asia's anger and frustration echoed out of her body and into the bag. If only it didn't hurt so fucking badly. If only she hadn't been injured in the last mission, she might have been there today. She could have helped. And maybe then it would have been a success. She punched and punched with each pointed thought.

"Woah woah woah, what are you doing?" A concerned voice, one she recognized and was usually only too happy to hear, came from behind her.

Shoulders heaving and breath coming in quick, shallow breaths, she stopped, leaning against the bag. Her bruises were pulsing brightly, angry at her overexertion. "Nothing Leo, I was just practicing a little."

"I don't know a lot about your crazy martial arts stuff, but I do know that didn't look like normal practicing," Leo said in a soft voice, coming towards her and grabbing her hands, slowly unwrapping the tape around them and rubbing her hands. "You need to go easier on yourself." He said, looking her in the eyes. It was really a suggestion, more so of an order.

Asia shook her head, frustrated. "I just...I can't do that again. I can't just sit there-"

"Can't just sit in the van doing being useless?" Leo asked with a frown.

"Oh Leo, you know that's not what I meant," She replied with a groan, pushing back her bangs. "You and Jemma and Skye...you do important stuff in that van. Me? I just sit there. I've got training. I shouldn't just be sitting in a van doing nothing." A hopeless look crossed her face, and it made Leo incredibly sad to see her so upset.

"You do have bloody good training, you're an amazing agent," He said, still holding her hands and rubbing her fingers lightly, massaging them, taking some of the pain away. "But we can't have you going out there hurt. I can't have you going out there hurt. If you go out when you're all injured, you might never come back. And I don't know if any of us could handle that."

Asia looked up at Leo, increasingly aware of how close to each other they were standing. For a moment, she thought he might kiss her. But that would be crazy, right?

From above, a door opened, and the two practically leaped apart. Skye leaned over the railing, a concerned look on her face. "Coulson needs us in the meeting room. Now."

Chapter Text

Once they were all in the room, Coulson began to brief them on what was going on. Mike was occupied with worry. "They want to trade. Ace for his father. They’ve set a time and place."

"Bloody savages," Leo muttered, and Asia placed a hand on his shoulder gently. She could feel the anger rolling through him, it would have been cute if the situation weren't so dire.

"What do they want him for?" Asia said with gritted teeth.

"They want to experiment on him," Jemma said, arms crossed. "Determine how he still has his abilities. Use it for themselves."

"And we're just going to let them?" Ward said with a raised eyebrow. "We've fought them before, we can do it again. Asia's back to her A Game. We're ready." He paced around the room, coming to a stop next to May.

"We don’t have a choice. The instructions they gave Mr. Peterson were very specific. I called HQ, told them to stand down," Coulson said with a sigh. His face looked weathered, tired. Like he was out of options.

"Stand down?" May questioned, raising a thin eyebrow. She didn't look like the type who had stood down once in her life.

"So then we will take them alone," Ward objected, looking at May with a nod.

"We should at least have a hostage rescue unit in support of this," May continued.

Mike shook his head, speaking up. "They said they would murder my son." His voice was shaking. In an instant, everyone quieted. "If we make one wrong move. They kill him."

"Any electronics, any comms, any sign of surveillance and they’ll terminate the arrangement," Coulson said calmly, looking at Mike.

"I’ll give myself up, no problem, get him back. I can figure it out from there," Mike continued. The complete dedication to his child shook Asia, made her miss her own parents. She would never get them back, never get to fight for them, and they would never get to fight for her.

"You're still recovering," Jemma said, concern tainting her voice. " We can’t just hand you over to them like that, can we?" She bit her lower lip.

"Can we use your new tracking device?" Asia pipped up, looking at Leo. His face perked up.

Coulson nodded, "We can and we will," He turned to face Mike once more. "Fitz-Simmons have a non-electronic method of tracking him."

Leo began taping on his tablet until the screen displayed a device, a small graphic image showing how it worked in action. "Simmons has fabricated an odorless scent. I have an instrument which can detect it. Works like a bloodhound, can track someone from over 50 kilometers." He turned to Asia, a small smile on his face. She nodded, smiling back.

"After we make the trade we’ll be able to follow Mr. Peterson," Coulson continued, "It will buy him some time to get back to full strength, and we'll be ready and waiting when he is."

Mike shook his head, "I don't care what happens to me, as long as my boy is-"

Coulson cut him off. "I promise you we will get your son back."

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Asia sat in the back seat, sniper rifle resting against her shoulder. The weight of it was ever present, the weight of what she could do with it. Around her wrists were her bracelets, the knives within them dipped in a poison drafted by Jemma. She was literally dressed to kill.

Outside the car, she could see Leo, with Jemma and Mike, getting him ready. She sighed. Her life was not the kind that she wanted to ruin Leo's with. Her life was corruption, deceit, killing. He was too innocent for any of this, any of what was about to happen. And she didn't want him to see what she could do.

Asia let out a sigh, pulling her hair into a ponytail, high on the back of her head. There was only so much someone could witness before they let the title of 'best friend' slip away. With a deep breath, she slipped out of the car in time to hear Coulson saying, "Time to go."

Asia looked over at Mike, and gave his arm a quick squeeze. "I won't let anyone touch your son. You've got my word." Mike smiled at her and nodded, before turning to follow Coulson.

Leo stepped next to Asia. "You ready for this?" He asked her quietly, eyeing the large sniper rifle.

Asia shrugged, "I provided cover for Nat all the time. I'm used to this kind of situation." She glanced down the bridge, past the large signs that read "Construction, Bridge Closed."

"That's a big gun for someone so small," Leo said with a slight smirk. Asia looked away from the bridge and over at him.

"Hey now, I can handle myself thank you very much. And I know if anything happens, you'll be right below me." She glanced over at the van, where she would be perched atop, watching the exchange, ready to fire if need be. Ward would be in one of the buildings above. Everything would be fine.

Leo smiled, "Yea, you don't have to worry. I've got your back, Asia." His accent was so comforting, always. For a moment, both just stood, smiling. Finally, he broke the silence. "Need a boost up?"

"If you wouldn't mind, that would be a great help. It's not that I wouldn't absolutely love Skye and Jemma laughing at me from in there while they watch me struggle up but...." She grinned.

"Well, I'm your man then," Leo replied, and a soft blush covered Asia's cheeks at those words. She was thankful for the night that shrouded her. They moved towards the side of the van, and gently Asia reached up, setting her sniper rifle on the roof of the black vehicle, glancing back at Leo.

He smiled, gently, and placed his hands on her hips. "Alright, on the count of three I'm going to lift you, ok?"

Asia nodded softly, looking back at the roof of the van. Leo counted quietly to three, then lifted her up, high enough that she could prop her arms up and push herself onto the roof. She laid down flat, and turned back to face Leo, smiling. He held up his hand to the top of the van, resting it lightly upon hers. "Be safe okay?"

"Always am, I'll tap three times if I need something," She smiled back down. With a nod, Leo climbed into the van shutting the door behind him.

Turning back towards the bridge, Asia positioned her sniper, clicking on the infrared and gazing through the site. She watched Coulson and Mike walk slowly across the bridge. Beyond them were two figures, one with large hair, the other clearly a large centipede solider.

"Lost sight of them," Ward said, his voice clearly annoyed, over comms.

"It's okay, they're all in my line of vision," Asia replied, taking slow, even breaths. "But where the hell is the kid?"

Suddenly, Mike had the woman by the throat. "We've got a problem, Ward, you got vision yet?"

"Nothing," Ward replied, "trying, moving to a new spot." Over comms, they could hear him moving, re-positioning.

Asia could see Coulson talking to him, hands up in a sign of peace. After a moment, Mike released the woman. Suddenly, there was movement. A little kid, running towards Mike.

"Got the son in sight," she said to Ward, "You got anything?"

Ward gritted his teeth, "I can see Coulson, not much else. Trying to find another perch."

Mike picked up his kid and began to walk past Coulson. "Wait, something is going on. What's he doing?"

"I see them, I don't know," Ward replied, gritting his teeth again. "This isn't the plan."

Coulson stepped to the side, blocking Asia's shot of Raina. "I don't have a shot anymore, he's blocking me," Asia replied, a hint of nerves in her voice. Raina moved towards Coulson, until their two heat signatures were so close she could hardly separate them. She stabbed something quickly into his neck. Asia hit the roof of the van three times, quickly. Mike was running towards them now, son in his arms. "They've got Coulson," Asia shouted, loud enough for those inside the van to hear.

"Call it in, we need back up," Ward said as May's voice crackled over comms: "Don't engage, they'll kill him." "I've got a shot," Ward replied evenly.

"Do not take it. Stand down, they will kill him," May repeated evenly. "I'm contacting HQ now."

Below Asia, Skye was climbing out of the SUV, running to Mike and Ace. He handed the little boy to the brunette and Asia could see his mouth moving quickly, before he kissed his son on the head. Suddenly, Mike was running back on the bridge. He passed by two cement mixers and a bright light flashed, followed by a boom and flames. Asia whipped her eyes away from the sites of her gun, trying to keep herself from being blinded.

"Mike!!" Skye screamed, clutching onto his son. The thugs began to drive away with Coulson in their SUV, Asia trained her eye on it. "I can blow the tires, want me to take the shot?"

Before anyone could reply, the SUV exploded as well, sending flames into the sky. Asia sat up, dropped her rifle. She slid down the front of the van, landing on her feet, running towards the explosion. Suddenly, the sound of a chopper was heard over the flames. Two of them, rising upward. They began firing, at Asia, at Ward. Ward's shout of pain could be heard over comms. Asia tumbled, hitting the ground, sliding behind rubble.

"Asia!" Leo's voice could be heard over comms, "Are you down?"

"No, I'm fine," Asia replied quickly, still ducking for cover. The helicopters buzzed off in the night, leaving everyone worse than when they had arrived at the bridge that night.

Chapter Text

It had been three days since they had seen Coulson. Asia kicked the leg of the lab table before hopping on top of it. She was fine, but that didn't mean Jemma wouldn't look her over. For the time being, she was working on Ward.

"Impressive. You actually managed to reopen all your stitches," she said to Ward, humming lightly as she swabbed his wounds.

Asia glanced over her shoulder towards Leo, who was busy talking with two agents she didn't recognize. There were lots of agents here they didn't recognize. SHIELD had sent in more backup than she had ever received in her life. It was impressive, all for Coulson. And she wanted to know why. Her gaze flitted back over to Ward as he spoke.

"Let’s just hope Vanchat can lead us to Centipede," he sounded just as frustrated as she felt.

"Well the Chitauri metal he was selling is an exact match to what Centipede used for their device," Jemma said, a twinge of hope in her voice.

"We find Centipede, we find Coulson," Ward said in affirmation.

Suddenly from the other side of the Lab, Leo began to speak loudly, delivering orders to the new techies. "Don’t ask questions, Agent Kob. Just get me the five millimeter injector. That’s an order."

"y-yes sir," the agent, presumably Agent Kob, stuttered before backing out of the Lab.

Asia felt a slight blush shift over her cheeks. It was impressive, watching him like that, taking control. She would have to remember to tease him about it later. Leo wandered towards them, tapping on a tablet rapidly.

"Honestly," he scoffed, "How many agents do they think they can fit on this plane?" He looked at Asia, rolling his eyes.

"It's only going to get worse," she replied with a frown.

Suddenly, the TV in front of them lit up. "Oh joy," Leo sighed, "Agent Hand is giving another briefing...."

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Hand was going to throw Skye off the plane. Well, not literally throw her off. Remove her. She wasn't "necessary" according to Hand. God, Asia hated that woman. She typed quickly on her tablet, sending a discrete file to Natasha and Clint. She was still running recon for them, as always, and she was fairly sure they would want to know Coulson was kidnapped.

Skye and Ward clomped down the circular stairs to the cargo bay and Asia stood up immediately, moving towards them. Leo and Jemma followed her.

"Coulson will make this right," Ward said to Skye.

"I can find him," Skye said in a pleading tone. Asia rested a hand on her shoulder.

"hang on Skye," Leo called out, moving forward, a small parcel in his hand. He thrust it out towards her.

"You made me a sandwich?" Skye said skeptically, raising an eyebrow and crossing her arms over her chest.

"Yes...that is exactly what it is..." Jemma said slowly, trying to clue Skye in.

That was when Leo began to whisper. "It’s a satellite phone, damper resistant. You get one shot before the bracelet shuts it down." Asia smiled over at him. God her friends were wicked smart.

"It's only for emergencies," Jemma whispered as well.

"What do I even need this for? I’m going to be spending the next three days in a S.H.I.E.L.D. broom closet getting debriefed." Skye groaned, rolling her eyes but taking the package.

"That's right..." Asia began. "A few agents are coming here to pick you up for debriefing…" Her eyes flicked over to Ward.

He leaned in towards Skye, "In exactly 12 minutes...." His tone was so soft almost none of them could hear it. Skye's eyes widened and understanding flooded her face.

Asia stepped in and wrapped her in a hug, and Skye hugged her back. "Find him," Asia whispered, "Please."

"I will," Skye whispered into her ear, squeezing her tightly before letting go. Then, the four of them who would remain on board walked away as if they had not seen a thing.

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"Monroe," Ward said, staring her in the eye, his hands on each of her shoulders sternly. "I know your methods, you're the best of the best. Natasha Romanov herself trained you on interrogation. Now normally....I'd love to get my hands on this man myself. But, I know you want a crack at him." He was talking about Vanchat. He wanted her to disobey Hand and get info out of this piece of shit.

Asia thought about it for a moment, thinking back to the training Nat had given her. It was useful. That, and it wasn't every day that Ward handed over power. "I'll do it," she said finally.

"Let's go," Ward said, grabbing her lower arm and leading her down the hall. He quickly got rid of the guard outside the cell door, and nodded at Asia. "In you go."

Asia took a deep breath before entering through the sliding door. A man sat handcuffed to the the metal table in the dark room. Asia flipped the empty chair across from him around, so she could straddle it and rest her hands on the back of the chair. "Time to talk," she said smoothly, a small smile on her face, making her seem almost...welcoming.

Vanchat shook his head, grinning slightly. His black hair,once shiny, appeared greasy now.

"The name of all your buyers, please," Asia said. "Alphabetically, would help," she tagged on, as if it were an after thought.

"You think your 'pretty pleases' will get you answers? I'm not telling you a damn thing," Vanchat snorted.

"What, you don't want to play nice?" Asia pouted, "Now that's just unfortunate." She reached down and grabbed a belt, strapping herself to the chair. Looking up at a camera in the corner, she nodded one short, sharp nod, before looking over at Vanchat. "You're really going to regret not just giving me answers, I don't usually play nice with my toys."

Above them, the tiles of the ceiling began to slowly fold away. From the safety of her chair, Asia crossed her arms over her chest, smirking. Vanchat dangled, legs up in the air, the force trying to suck him out. The only thing keeping him in was his rapidly slipping grip on the metal table. "Any day now, sweetie, not that this isn't fun to watch."

It was only about ten more seconds before Vanchat began begging. Then, finally, he said the words they had all been waiting to hear. "Fine, fine, I'll talk. Please, I'll talk." In an instant, the doors were closed, and Vanchats body slammed against the ground.

"Now, now, don't you wish you had just agreed when I said 'please'?"

Chapter Text

"That, Asia, was bloody brilliant," Leo congratulated her once she returned to the Lab, pulling her into a hug. Jemma clapped her hands happily.

Asia shrugged, "Just doing my job, like anyone would. Plus, I like it when Ward asks me to do things."

"This intel should help us so much," Jemma said in a cheery tone, "If Skye doesn't find out where he is being held momentarily, we should know soon enough."

Asia nodded, agreeing. "You're right. I just wouldn't want to be in Ward's shoes right now. Hand is about to give him his ass on a platter." They had gone against direct orders, but they had gotten important information. Information that may have taken hours, days even, for the HQ interrogator to find out.

As if he had heard them speaking, Ward entered the room moment after Asia had said his name. "Monroe, your work paid off. And oddly....Hand is pleased," he said with a grin, holding up a hand for her to highfive.

"Dream Team is back at it again," Asia said with a whoop, jumping up and giving him a loud highfive.

"Dream Team?" Jemma asked, "Whatever do you mean by that?"

Ward chuckled, looking down at Asia. "Oh nothing, just something we used to do back in Ops training."

Asia smiled, "Yea, once we got over our whole number one and number two in our class rivalry, we started teaming up. I gave us the name Dream Team, but Ward went along with it much more than I expected."

From the side, Leo rolled his eyes. It wasn't that he was jealous, but perhaps he wasn't the biggest fan of how close Ward was to his newfound best friend.

"So now what?" Jemma asked, still working on bullets for the new Night Night guns.

"Now? We wait," Ward said with a curt nod.

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They were in the Lab later that day when they got the call. The phone buzzed and Asia knew, she just knew, it was Skye. It happened while they were learning about the new tech Jemma and Leo had built for them to use against the enhanced soldiers. The phone buzzed in Jemma's pocket and they all fell silent.

"Hello?" Jemma said, her voice shaking, as well as her hands which held the phone. Lord, someone had to teach that girl to tell a lie without shaking. Agent May looked over her and then at the other SHIELD agents in the room, the ones that weren't a part of their team."Well hello…Dr. Nugent." Jemma continued, blatantly obvious.

"Everybody out!" May ordered suddenly, pointing at the other agents. Once they cleared, just Ward, Leo, Jemma, May, and Asia remained. May grabbed the phone out of Jemma's hand. "Skye? What have you found?"

The news was best they had received in a long time, now they just had to convince Hand to believe them.

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Inside the cargo hold, they met up with Hand. "It's not just a hunch," Asia protested. Hand stopped walking and turned to face the group of them, placing her hands on her hips, waiting for one to speak further.

"Skye followed the money from Vanchat back to Centipede," Leo explained, standing next to Asia defensively.

"Turns out they recently purchased a small development less than 100 miles from here," Jemma added.

"Less than 100 miles. 100. Why not go check it out?" Asia protested. Skye was right, she could feel it.

"Well that’s great news for their real-estate portfolio, but we have confirmed activity at the lab. I’m taking a strike team to investigate. End of story," Hand said flatly. She was such a nuisance, with her badly done red streaks in her hair.

"So we split up." May interjected. "You take the strike team and go after Centipede. We’ll investigate Skye’s lead, see if Coulson’s there." She raised her eyebrows, challenging Hand, waiting to see how she would react.

For such an apparently good agent, Hand was unable to mask her surprise. "You backed my decision to kick Skye off the plane."

"Seems like it worked out," May replied flatly, the rarest hint of a smile on her thin lips.

"Seems like you played me," Hand replied, sounding insulted. Good. She should be, Asia thought.

"Look , this isn’t personal, but I am taking my team and we’re gonna find Coulson," Ward said, one hand resting on his gun as if it were a threat. Bad decision, but nothing Asia could do about it.

My team? Leo thought with a scoff. This wasn't Ward's team. They were all a member of Coulson's. But he didn't say a word.

May shot Ward a look, telling him to watch it. "Send back up if you want," Ward continued, "But we're going to get Coulson." He opened the door the an all black SUV and eyed the others. In rapid succession, they all clambered into the car.

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The town they arrived at was creepy to say the least. There were mannequins everywhere, painted with faces and hair, wearing dusty clothes. The whole place was dusty, dirty, blowing scraps in the wind. The building were rampshackle and tired, barely holding together. And that was where the fight began. And where they met up with Skye. Asia gritted her teeth, shoving the soldier off of her. Thank goodness Ward had taken the super solider, he was the one with the fancy bracelet Jemma and Leo had designed. The solider grabbed her from behind, and Asia grabbed his forearm, using momentum to flip him over her and onto the ground, icing him quickly.

She ran for the building which Skye and May had gone into.

"Let me die. Let me die." Coulson was screaming from inside an odd contraption that shined a pale blue light upon his face. It looked like half of a cryogenic tube. Raina's body lay on the floor, unconscious. Skye was standing over Coulson, terrified.

Asia inhaled sharply. He looked bad. May yanked the cord powering the device. Coulson's body was still shaking, muttering, unresponsive. Skye was sobbing now, leaning over him, when suddenly he began to speak once more. "Skye? Skye?"

"Coulson, it's me," she whispered, grabbing onto his hand.

"Oh God he's alive," Asia breathed, sliding down the wall till she was on the floor, head in her hands. Now, finally, everything was going to be okay.

Chapter Text

Leo poured out a few cups of tea and set one down in front of Asia. She took the cup, blowing on it lightly, and sipped. It was good, herbal and minty. She smiled in thanks up at her friend.

"A cadet could have died," Jemma whined, a big crease in her forehead. They were discussing the events which had happened at Sci & Tech the other day. A device which they had helped design was changed and harnessed in a bad way. Three students had almost been injured. It was quite the mess.

"We drew up those concepts years ago. We didn’t know they’d be applied in that way," Leo said, trying to calm her down, handing her a cup of tea.

The glass door slid open and Skye and Ward entered, carrying some metal contraption that looked rather like a giant soup can.

"Is that the device they found in the frozen pool?" Jemma asked, fidgeting. Ward nodded quickly in response.

"Correction," Skye said, holding up a single finger. "The instantly frozen pool." Skye, without her captive wristlet, was in a much better mood these days.

"It seems like it was planted in the filter days before. Like someone was waiting for those specific cadets," Ward said, setting the device down on the table. Asia slid off her office chair, setting down the cup of tea and moving to inspect the destroyed device.

"Well, as far as they can tell, the device uses a crystalline nucleation process she designed," Leo said, jutting a thumb over towards Jemma.

Jemma nodded,setting down the vial she had been working with. "And a delivery mechanism he invented. That’s why we are being asked to consult on the investigation."

Skye perked up,swiveling to face Jemma. "We're going to the academy??"

"Science and Technology," Asia said with a nod, playing with a strand of her hair, twirling it around her finger.

" Cadets are pretty shaken up over what happened. Agent Weaver asked if you two could speak to the student body about potentiality to calm them down," Ward affirmed.

Jemma let out a sigh, "Of course, the talk. We've all had the talk." Asia's eyes widened, nodding, her lips pressed firmly together. They all had, every student who went through SHIELD academy.

"Hey! I haven't!" Skye objected, a pout on her pink lips.

"Well," Ward said with a soft chuckle, "I guess you will."

" Well, I’ve heard a lot about the Academy. I’m excited to finally see it," Skye replied, swiveling her chair back and forth with excitement.

"Me too, never been to Sci-Tech before," Ward admitted.

"Same here," Asia replied, "It'll be fun to see Jemma and Leo in their element."

Skye rolled her eyes as the others kept talking. "You can't just call them FitzSimmons like the rest of us, can you?" Asia shook her head with a small smile, looking down at her hands. "So the different SHIELD Academies don't interact?" Skye interjected herself back into the other's conversation.

Leo scoffed, rolling his eyes, and Asia shot him a look.

"Not really," Ward said with a shrug, as Jemma rolled her big eyes. "Academy of Communications does, but they’re the biggest and focused on data analysis."

"That and Communications, you know, communicates," Asia said, attempting to crack a joke. Things always got a little tense talking about the rivalry between the schools.

"Boring," Leo said, imitating a snoring sound.

"It's the easiest to get in to," Jemma explained to Skye.

"That's where you'd be, Skye," Leo said, wiggling his eyebrows. Asia couldn't help but snort out a laugh.

"Oh geez, thanks," Skye replied sarcastically, rolling her eyes.

"Ward and I are both from Ops," Asia continued, "It's the most aggressive program."

"More people wash out of Operations than any other academy," Ward agreed, almost proud of the statistic. Or perhaps, simply proud that he was one of the few who actually made it through training, made it to being an agent.

"So which one’s the hardest to get into?" Skye asked, curious.

Jemma gave Ward a flatlipped, clearly fake smile. It was obvious that there was a clear rivalry between all of them.

"Ah I see there's a war brewing between Science and Ops," Skye said, raising her eyebrows. At that moment, May walked into the room, carrying some files and handing them out to Jemma and Leo. "Are you and Coulson past all that or you gonna help Ward steal their mascot?" Skye asked her jokingly.

May pressed her lips together, fighting to not roll her eyes. "We’re not going. After we drop you off Coulson and I have other matters to attend to." Asia studied her for a moment. It was clear the matters had something to do with how odd Coulson had been acting since his return. Something was going on, something that not even her clearance level let her be briefed on.

As May left, the five of them exchanged looks. They all appeared to be thinking the same thing, that something was definitely going wrong.

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Later that afternoon, they all stood outside a large building, about twenty floors tall with large windows. Between them and the building were sidewalks and rolling soft hills of gentle grass. Students were walking about, all dressed rather relaxed. It was nice, Asia thought. They seemed to be having much more fun than Ops, Ops was all work. Looking down, the brunette smoothed out her skirt, fidgeting with it. She had been instructed to dress for the part, so she tried. A black, sleeveless dress with a soft, cashmere button up, and modest pumps. She had tied her hair up with a ribbon and wore thick rimmed black glasses. Skye had busted out laughing when she had seen her.

Beside her stood Leo, dressed in slacks, a button up, and a thin tie, surveying the place he had spent several years. Next to him was Jemma, already giving Skye a briefing on the area.

"This was the SSR facility before S.H.I.E.L.D. was even founded. “SSR” stands for – " Jemma began but Skye cut her off.

"Strategic Scientific Reserve, yeah I know. This isn't my first day." She rolled her eyes, "Is this where you got all your PhDs?"

Jemma scoffed, "Lord no, you need at least one just to get through the door."

"So," Leo began, "Is Sci Tech what you imagined? Asia? Ward?"

"Well...it's definitely not like Ops..." Asia trailed off, adjusting her fake glasses. She glanced over at Ward. "Looks a little laid back don't you think?"

Ward nodded, hands on his hips, "Yep. No uniforms, no rope courses, no defined muscularity on anyone."

"No marching in place, no IQs in the double digits..." Leo muttered and Asia pushed him in the shoulder teasingly.

From across the grass, a middle aged woman with short, curly, dark hair and a pencil skirt walked towards them, a pleasant smile on her face. "There they are. So good to see you!" She said in a cheery, British accent.

"You look as lovely as ever," Jemma said, beaming, and Leo quickly followed up with an "I concur."

"Agent Ward, Agent Monroe, it's a pleasure to have the both of you here as well," Agent Weaver, the director of Sci Tech said to the two agents. Asia and Ward both smiled politely.

"Do you have a list of suspects for us?" Ward asked, getting right down to business as always.

"Based on the level of intelligence it would take to put a device together like the one we found we’ve narrowed it down to the top 10% of our cadets. I’m worried there’s a bad seed." Weaver said, her voice filled with concern.

" I know you’ve already questioned the victim, but I have a few questions I’d like to ask him myself." Ward said with a nod.

"Of course, we can have that arranged for you to meet with Seth Dormer once he's out of class," Agent Weaver said in reply. "Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’d let to get Agents Fitz and Simmons settled into the lecture hall," she looked towards Leo and Jemma to follow her.

"Agent Weaver, I've got a small task to do beforehand," Leo said politely, "But I'll meet you and Simmons in the hall shortly after." He turned to Asia with a grin, "Ready for that tour we talked about?"

"Always," Asia replied, walking next to Jemma, Leo, and Weaver. Suddenly, there were tons of students around them, asking Jemma and Leo questions, using words she didn't half understand. She was getting separated from her friends with the throngs of pushing students.

Then suddenly, she felt Leo's hand wrapping around her's, pulling her forward and through the crowd, till she was back beside him. She had never felt so warm in her entire life.

Chapter Text

"So yea, that's um, where my dorm used to be at. Very messy, but a nice little place. Very quaint." Leo said as they walked side by side down a set of stairs. "And, erm, over there is the Wall of Valor. Want to check that out?" His voice was so soft, so gentle, he didn't even know the pit Asia's stomach had just dropped into. She didn't blame him of course. One small story about what happened to her family on her first day there? Not exactly memorable.

"Yea, sure, we can do that," Asia mumbled back, rolling her shoulders and straightening her spine. She moved mechanically beside him, every fiber of her being forced to continue forward. When they got there, it was only a few seconds before she found their names. Thomas Monroe, Penelope Monroe, both died for the cause. She found herself reaching out, running her fingertips softly over the engraved marble. And just like that, flashes of memory were back.

Her mother holding her little sister, America, while she held an ice cream cone out to Asia. Mint chocolate chip, her favourite. Her dad, scooping her up and swinging her around, before covering her forehead in soft kisses. Her parents, gazing at each other with this proud, loving looks. Their home, smelling like cookies and whatever meal her father was stirring up that night. Her mother, her hair smelling like vanilla. Asia felt woozy, as if she were about to faint.

And suddenly, Leo's arms were around her, hugging her, supporting her up. "I'm sorry Asia,it, it completely slipped my mind." His hands rubbed slowly up and down her back, gently applying pressure.

She buried her head in his shoulder, breathing deeply, taking in his spicy scent. "It's okay. I didn't think it would affect me this much." Natasha would shake her head, tell her to pull it together. She was a trained agent, showing emotions in public was a sign of weakness. "Maybe we should get to the lecture hall, so we can get you set up now, yea?" She suggested, pulling away from him.

"Yes, erm, let's go get that taken care of. I've got a seat reserved for you, right up in the front." Leo said with a soft smile, his cheeks slightly tinted pink.

"That's nice of you," she replied back, forcing on a smile, an act which was well practiced. "I'll have the best view in the house."

"Well, wouldn't want my best friend missing out on anything, now would I?" He asked, fidgeting with his tie, making sure it was straight.

Gently, Asia slipped her fingers around the tie and adjusted it for him, then patting it down. "There. Perfectly perfect in every way." Together, they walked off towards the lecture hall. The Wall of Valor, though behind them, was ever present in Asia's mind.

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She wasn't going to lie, it was incredibly amusing to watch Jemma and Leo on stage, and the reactions they got from the crowd. As Agent Weaver announced them, the students around her broke into cheers. As they modestly acknowledge the crowd, Leo looked down at her and waved a tiny wave. Asia couldn't help but smile.

"Thank you, Agent Weaver. It’s nice to be back. Unfortunately, it has to be under these circumstances," Jemma replied to Agent Weaver with a modest bow of her head.

"If you don’t know the history of S.H.I.E.L.D. by now, there’s no excuse…unless you fell asleep in Professor Vaughn’s class, that’s a perfectly acceptable excuse," Leo said, letting out a low chuckle. The students in the room burst into a laugh. Asia quirked an eyebrow, looking two rows back at Skye, who looked equally confused. Must be a SciTech thing.

"Our instincts as scientists is to move forward, advance quickly, push the envelope," Jemma continued, "But given recent circumstances it makes sense to reflect back on our history." Ah yes. The age old 'reflection' story. Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it. This was a story Asia knew too well, and was part of the reason her past was ever present in her mind. She didn't want to lose people like that again. She leaned back into her seat, listening to her friends' twist on the familiar speech....

"And S.H.I.E.L.D. was founded after the SSR was able to defeat the nearly indomitable force known as Hydra," Leo said, gesturing with his hands.

"We tend to forget that these organizations, Hydra, Centipede, A.I.M., were also made up of extremely brilliant scientists. Men and woman who started with the same unlimited potential as you or I," Jemma continued. This was a lesson all these kids needed to hear.

"Potential can sometimes be dangerous," He glanced down at Asia as if he were speaking directly to her, although she couldn't quite guess why. "Plutonium has the potential to power a city or to be a nuclear bomb."

"Today," Jemma carried on, "we’d like to share a few stories from the field in which we learned this lesson up close and faced consequences when untested technology or biology lands in the wrong hands." Unfortunately, they had plenty.

Suddenly, from behind them, a short haired student started shouting. "Oh God, oh God!" He scrambled up, staring down at his legs, "What is this?" Ice was forming over his feet, crawling up his legs like ivy. Asia's eyes were wide with shock and she whipped her head back to look at Leo, before leaping over the seats to arrive next to the student in trouble.

"Hey! What’s happening to me?!? Help me! Help me! Get it off! Can anybody help me?!? Make it stop! Help me get it off! No! Make it stop!" The kid was still screaming, understandably panicked. Leo and Jemma were by his side momentarily.

"Find exposed skin!" Jemma barked out in order, "He needs glucose to raise his body’s natural freezing point." She was rummaging through a medical kit nearby.

The exposed skin was quickly becoming less possible to locate. In a matter of seconds, he was completely covered. "I need something to break the ice!" Leo said quickly. Asia whipped out a small penknife from her pocket and handed it to him. "Perfect, thanks," he said, not taking his eyes off of the student as he began to chip away at his neck. "Ready when you are, Jemma."

Jemma was beside Leo and suddenly jabbing a needle into the boy's neck.

"Asia, I need you to find the device." Leo said sternly, "it needs to be in close proximity to be doing this to him."

Ward was leaping down the stairs two and a time, and Skye was looking under benches. "Over there!" Skye said, pointing to a small, can-like glowing device beneath a chair. Asia flipped over a row of seats, slamming her heal down on the glass of the device, cracking it. It began to smoke and hiss.

The brunette looked up back at Leo and the boy. The ice on him was starting to rapidly crack and break free. With a sigh of relief, Asia let her head rest against the arm of a nearby chair for a moment. It was okay. The boy would be okay.

Chapter Text

"And you can't think of anyone who would want to hurt you?" Skye asked the boy, wrapped in a fleece blanket, in front of them. Donnie. His name was Donnie.

"I-Idon't know anyone," he stammered, perhaps from nerves of being interrogated by two pretty women his age, perhaps from still being cold. Yet, perhaps,he was just simply of shy nature.

Agent Weaver walked up and stood beside Asia and Skye. "Donnie, I’m going to have you escorted back to your room. You get some rest and stay warm," She said in her cool voice, which remained perfect regardless of the concern which tinted it. The boy stood up and walked up the stairs past Jemma and Leo.

Asia and Skye stood to follow, coming to rest next to their two teammates. "Freshman pranks are tradition but these are something else," Jemma was saying.

"Attempted murder." Weaver finished flatly.

" So, Donnie was the intended target all along?" Ward asked, "He have anything in common with the cadets at the pool?" If one looked into his eyes, they would practically be able to see the gears churning away, thinking through the entire situation.

"These kids were popular," Weaver said, "Donnie was...." She trailed off, unsure of how to properly and politely finish the sentence.

"Not." Skye finished for her.

Weaver nodded quickly, her own sign of thanks, before saying, "Donnie hadn’t made any enemies but he hadn’t made any friends either."

Asia knew the type. "He had a hard time adjusting. How old is he?" She asked, looking up the stairs towards where the boy was disappearing out the door.

"18," Weaver said, "The youngest since these two. 190 IQ and failing out of high school when we met him."

"Probably bored out of his mind," Leo said, giving Jemma a knowing look. Asia bite back a sharp retort and look of annoyance. Not everyone had the luck of even attending a public high school. She sure didn't. Any education she had received had been through a SHIELD tutor. But she stopped herself, looking at her feet. When she looked up, Leo was looking at her, a confused, possibly concerned look in his eyes.

She looked away.

Weaver was saying something about Donnie's future placements, and Jemma was responding. Asia tuned it all out. She tuned the whole place out. Places like this, regardless of all the training, always made her feel inadequate. Perhaps she knew 10 different ways to kill a man with a simple pencil. Perhaps she could parachute through bullet fire and not die. But fuck it all if she couldn't do more math than what was required to calculate the exact angle of trajectory of a bullet fired or how much the wind would affect a shot. She couldn't do science the way Jemma and Leo did. Or code the way Skye did. Sure, she could hack. Sure she could make a bomb out of minimally required items. But she was SMART. There was a very high chance, despite what Coulson had said to her about college, that she never would be.

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It was nice to be outside, strolling once more. The fresh air was relieving, saving me from the constrictions that school placed upon her.

"And what do we do when we get there?" Jemma asked.

"We mingle, low key. You, Asia, and Skye get comfortable with the students see if you can get them gossiping. Skye and Asia look young enough to blend in, but Jemma they see you as a celebrity," Ward drew out the plan for us.

"Hey now," Skye objected, "You're not exactly Old Man River, and Fitz looks younger than all of us."

"Time will come when you won’t make fun of me for that. You’ll be jealous. You’ll be jealous, wrinkly old hags," Leo joked, looking over at Asia. He could tell something was up with her. Maybe it was still seeing her family name on the Wall of Valor. He wasn't sure. But when her lips didn't even twitch upward at his joke, he just knew.

"I want Fitz to talk to Donnie," Ward replied simply.

Leo turned and gave him an odd look. "Sorry?"

"Donnie’s withdrawn, might know more than he’s letting on." Ward said, as if this were the most obvious thing on the planet, "You’re a hero here, Fitz. He looks up to you. Go hang out with him." We all proceeded down a flight of stairs and back into the building, into a rather dimly lit hall. "Even if he has no clue who might be after him, he could use a friend."

"Wow that's cute," Asia said sarcastically, "Ward's catching a case of the warm and fuzzies." He elbowed her lightly in the side.

"I think it's a wonderful idea," Jemma agreed with her overly cheery smile.

"Ward does have them from time to time," Leo joked. Ward gave him a sharp look, not appreciating his joke nearly as much as Asia's. "Well in that case, I'll catch up with you lot later." Without another word, he turned and walked off towards the dorms. Asia looked up enough just to watch him walk away.

"So, where are we going?" Ward asked after Leo had disappeared.

"S.H.I.E.L.D. keeps careful watch of everything within their walls. So, in the late 60s to escape the cameras and the prying eyes of the faculty a few cadets started sneaking down to the boiler room to play cards, you know, exchange ideas," Jemma explained as they walked along the halls, descending deeper into the building.

"My kind of people," Skye said with a grin. "Did you guys have anything like that in Ops?"

Asia shook her head, "Nonconformity is highly frowned upon. Plus we're too busy training."

"Some amazing breakthroughs happened down here. So the traditions live on," Jemma explained.

"By cramming into a boiler room?" Skye said, her skepticism rather apparent.

Jemma had a mysterious grin on her face as she opened the door. Loud bass and flashing lights emanated from within. "Well, we've made a few improvements over the years."

Chapter Text

The boiler room was now, more or less, what appeared to be a full fledged SHIELD nightclub, complete with pool tables, a bar, a dance floor, and a disco ball. The DJ was playing the latest hip hop tracks and the students, who had formerly appeared like the world's largest group of nerds were now grinding on a technocolour dance floor. The four of them leaned on a railing on a catwalk which ran over the room. Ward let out a low whistle.

"Drinks are on me," Skye said in a sing-song voice. She grabbed Asia's hand, and together the two made their way down into the crowd. Jemma and Ward shot each other a look and followed after them. Moments later, the two brunettes were at the bar, flashing twin grins at the cute bartender who handed them each a full shot of clear liquid. The clinked glasses before knocking them back.

"This mission isn't so bad," Asia said to Skye over the loud music. "We could use more like this."

"How'd your little tour with Fitz go? Makeout in his old dorm?" Skye teased, wiggling her eyebrows.

"Jesus Christ, no!" Asia objected, "For the millionth time we're just friends!"

"Whatever you say," Skye said, grabbing two beers for them and handing one to her teammate. She didn't believe it for one moment.

"What about you and Ward?" Asia asked, getting the attention off of her. "Gonna take him onto that dance floor?"

Skye's face tinted a scarlet red, her full face flushing. Asia couldn't help but grin. She had struck a sweet spot on her friend. "I don't think he would care if I even asked," Skye muttered, her eyes flickering over towards the dance floor where plenty of young couples were already clustered.

"How about I make you a deal?" Asia said, using her tools the way she knew best. "If I drop a couple hints to Ward, you back off about all this Fitz nonsense."

"They didn't train you to be a master negotiator for nothing, Monroe," Skye joked, taking a sip of her beer. "I'll take you up on that, for now. But if you haven't kissed him in 3 months, I'm starting the teasing back up."

Asia rolled her eyes, letting out a long, purposefully drawn out sigh. "Fine. Now, go get him," she said, pushing Skye away from the bar and towards Ward. After Skye was gone, Asia found her way over to Jemma, carrying a second beer for the girl. A peace offering of sorts, because while the two were not necessarily enemies anymore, they weren't super good friends either. It was easy to spot the redhead among the other students, surrounded by her followers, even if she hadn't had the aid of the tech glasses she was wearing, the ones which could pinpoint her teammates for her upon a specific series of blinks.

"Oh, here everyone," Jemma said in a weirdly cheery voice as Asia handed her a beer. "This is my protegee. I'm teaching her everything I know." She wrapped an arm tightly around Asia, giving her a slight squeeze. As much as Asia wanted to weasel out of the hug, she hugged the redhead back, keeping her cover.

"Jemma is the best teacher, but I'm sure you all know that," Asia gushed, pushing her thick rimmed glasses up on her nose. There were several students who were clearly jealous, and several who voiced how lucky she was. She glanced over at Jemma, and both girls smiled.

"This isn't so bad is it?" Jemma asked as they walked away, strolling through students.

"Not bad at all, actually," Asia replied, "Too bad Leo is missing out."

"I'm sure he would have loved to be here," Jemma said with a smile, "How did your little tour go today? Fitz seemed pretty excited about it."

"It went well, I learned a lot, saw a lot. It was a fun way to pass the time," Asia admittedly in honesty, surprising even herself that she had admitted that, to Jemma of all people.

Moments later, Ward was walking up to them quickly, and Asia was pulling out her phone and dialing Leo's number, which was speed dial number 3.

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"Asia," Leo picked up on the second ring. "Please tell me you haven't left the Boiler Room yet." He would have loved to join them there, join her there, for the fun that could only happen in such a place.

"Leo," Asia replied quickly, "They staged the attack." There was no time to answer his other statement.

"Well that's nonsense," Asia could hear the skepticism in his voice, picture the face her was making. "Why?"

"To lure you and Jemma to the Academy, cross them off our list as suspects," Asia spoke quickly. "Leo, you have to get out of there, now. They're after you." He could hear the slight hitch of panic in her normally calm, collected voice.

"Relax," Leo said as he stepped quickly down a flight of stairs leading towards the Boiler Room, "I'm out, you're overreacting. He's just a lonely kid, Asia. We had a nice little hang session. I actually helped him solve his…" Leo trailed off for a moment, the terror of realization hitting him, "power problem." He snapped the phone shut and turned around, taking the stairs back up two at a time.

A pit of dread grew in Asia's stomach, knowing exactly where he was headed. She turned to the others, "We have to go."

Chapter Text

The damage to Leo's face was slight, but nonetheless, he held a cooled rag to his face over where he had been hit. Asia, Jemma, and Skye walked up the ramp to the Bus with him, the three very concerned. It was rather unusual to have three women dotting over him to closely, not that he was about to object.

"How could I have been so stupid?" He muttered for the fifth time, shaking his head.

"Leo, stop," Asia said, pressing her lips into a thin little line. "There was nothing you could have done." Leo couldn't help but think that if it were Asia or Ward in his place, that something could have been done, that they could have been stopped.

From within the Lab, Coulson and May came walking out, finally returned, and walked over to the group. "I'm sorry sir, it's my fault," Leo said immediately, earning him a sharp look from Asia.

Instead of acknowledging Fitz' words, Coulson simply asked, "Any word on the missing cadets?"

"Ward’s coordinating the search with Agent Weaver. They’ve set up a perimeter and are going building to building," Skye replied quickly. "They won't get far."

"Where did you guys go?" Jemma asked, "We've been trying to reach you." There was a slight hint of annoyance in her voice, which was understandable. There was only so much they could do without their direct supervisor and team leader there. They only had so much clearance.

Coulson flicked his eyes over to the young scientist. "Not now." He looked back to the rest of the group. "How dangerous are these two?"

"Extremely dangerous," Asia replied, "This device they've created turns any moisture around it to ice very rapidly at a great range. It will be more catastrophic than any of the tests they ran before. Those were only small scale." She pulled out a tablet, tapping it a few times, until an image of the device and an approximate range appeared, and she handed it to Coulson.

"Donnie's a good kid," Leo interjected. "He just felt isolated, alone. Seth must have befriended him to manipulate him, using him to finish the – the product." He stuttered at the last words, struggling to believe someone who believed in science as deeply as he would sell off his soul to the highest bidder.

"Product?" May asked, crossing her arms over her chest. She felt foolish for abandoning these kids like the had. That's all they really were, kids.

Leo squeezed his eyes shut, pinching the bridge of his nose. "Okay, I think they have a backer. He didn't announce it to me, but there were signs. The device, the components are incredibly rare and expensive. Nothing either of them could find on the open market themselves."

"If the parts are rare..." Asia began to say, when Skye finished her sentence for her: "We could track the purchases." The two girls looked at each other with matching grins.

"Sometimes it's not a bad seed, just a bad influence," Coulson affirmed with a nod. "Let's go." He turned and headed back towards the Lab. The rest followed suit.

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A bit later, the team, minus Ward who was still back at the school, gathered around Skye's monitor. "If we're talking about bad influences, this one is the worst," she muttered, running her fingers over the keyboard at the same speed at which Asia could build up a gun.

"Ian Quinn?" Coulson scoffed, "You've got to be kidding me...." Unfortunately, Skye was in no way kidding.

"He's buying their technology," she continued.

"What a fucking sleaze," Asia muttered angrily, clenching her fists tightly into little balls.

"The cadets have no idea he's a criminal," Jemma muttered, "To them, he's just a venture capitalist."

"This is Quinn’s M.O. He finds young talent and he takes advantage, right?" Skye said, continuing to tap at her computer.

Coulson said nothing, as he stared at the screen, lips pressed into a thin line, eyes narrowing.

"Hellooo?" Skye asked, waving her hand in front of Coulson's face.

"Contact Ward and Agent Weaver." Coulson said finally, his voice stern and cold. "Have them widen their search to include Ian Quinn." Asia nodded and turned to leave the room, already dialing Ward's phone number.

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Asia had seen many a weather map in her day, read METARS, TAFs, more than she could count. But the weather display in front of her was nothing the likes of which she had ever seen. It looked like the beginnings of a hurricane, but far, far worse. Larger. Colder. Far more deadly.

Leo stood next to her, and Jemma next to him. The three turned to one another, matching looks of concern across their pensive faces. Patches of pink began to light up the screen, depicting that hail had begun to fall. This was only the start. Worse was yet to come. They needed to call the team.

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"How do we stop it?" Coulson asked, staring at the screen. He did his best to not let the pit of fear in his stomach show. This was unlike most of the problems they dealt with. While it had started as a creation, it was forming to work with Mother Nature. Mother Nature was much harder to stop.

"We can't stop it," Leo said, his voice oddly calm as he studied the map still before them. "They're in real trouble."

"Where is the device?" May asked, her eyes darting over the storm display, quickly calculating.

Asia tapped the eye of the storm. "Here, probably."

"Probably?" May asked, one eyebrow raised.

"The dead center of the storm," Jemma said, "It's the most likely case."

"We've got to get Donnie out of there," Leo said, "He's just a kid." As if her weren't young himself. May and Coulson exchanged knowing looks.

"Ward," Coulson spoke up to the coms, "How are things on the ground?"

"We’ve got most everyone safe in the Boiler Room," Ward said. The general buzz of voices could be picked up while he spoke. "How bad is it gonna get?"

"Bad," Coulson said flatly, "Can you reach the North Campus Parking Garage? We think Donnie Gill and his device –"

"May be in the center of the storm," May finished for him.

"That's not far from where I am," Ward replied. "I can get there." Suddenly, the coms were flooded with the sound of whipping winds and a door slamming. "Yeaaa, I can't get there."

Coulson let out a sigh, crossing his arms. "Is there any other way to get to Donnie?" He was answered only by silence. "Think fast people."

From within the silence, Leo spoke. "I know a way."

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Minutes later, they were strapped in tightly to their seats, Asia glancing sidelong at Leo. It was uncomfortable for her to see him so upset, so concerned. She wish there was something she could do, well, something other than what they were already doing.

And the engines were shifted into a vertical thrust, reversed to decent, Asia found comfort in the familiarity of flight. She leaned back and let her body move with the plane. As it lurched, she found Leo's hand suddenly squeezing hers, and she turned to look at him. His eyes were tightly closed, clearly uncomfortable. With no one else looking at them, Asia turned her hand over, and laced her fingers through his, squeezing softly.

Moments later they were on the ground, and their hands apart, as if it had never happened.

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"He's hurt!" Donnie screamed from where he knelt beside Seth. Asia, Coulson, and Leo ran down the ramp, helping Donnie to carry the limp body into the aircraft and to Jemma's table, where she was ready and waiting.

" Prep 0.4 millimeters of Epinephrine," Jemma said sternly, and Leo got right on it, handing her a needle filled with milky liquid. Jemma began chest compressions as the aircraft took off into the air. The redhead worked hard, having to shock his body several times but it was to no avail. She stood back, defeated.

"He's gone," Coulson said quietly, resting a hand on Donnie's small, shaking shoulder.

Chapter Text

Asia sat with the rest of the team in the Command Room, arms and legs crossed, glaring at an image of Ian Quinn, poster boy, millionaire, from a magazine. She liked to image all the ways she could kick the shit out of his pathetic body.

"You found him?" May asked, breaking the silence which had fallen over the room when the image had been pulled up.

"No, but we think we know how we can." Coulson said, a slight hint of satisfaction in his voice. "Skye tracked down an invoice from one of his shell companies. He made a big purchase recently."

Skye couldn't help grin from behind her computer screen. "10 million dollars big." Such a silly mistake Quinn had made.

"Any idea what is was?" Asia asked, looking over at Skye.

"No clue. But it was designed and built by Cybertek, Inc. A small firm that deals in advanced technology and research," Skye explained, typing at her screen till an image of the companies logo floated in front of them.

"Which is where it gets interesting," Coulson continued. Skye pulled up the image of a train on the screen. "They’ve hired a private-security outfit to transport the purchase, former military, ex-mercs."

"That's a lot of muscle for one package," Ward said as he studied the screen.

"And they know S.H.I.E.L.D.’s got eyes on Quinn," Coulson nodded.

"Which is why they're transporting it old-school," Skye tapped away at her laptop.

"On a train, through Italian the countryside, from Verona to Zagreb – very rural, very isolated," Coulson nodded at the screen and a route map appeared.

"You think Quinn's on the train?" Asia asked.

"No," Coulson shook his head, "but I believe that they’re delivering the item to Quinn himself. We got our intel from Italian authorities who have been monitoring the situation."

"And they don't mind us taking over the op?" May asked, voice twinged with doubt.

"I asked very nicely," Coulson smirked. "If everything goes as planned, Cybertek’s security team won’t even know we were on the train."

"So we're going in under cover?" Ward asked.

May let out a long, low sigh. "I hate undercover."

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They were split up on the train, all dressed precisely for the roles which they were cast. "May and Ward," Coulson said over comms, "You're front and center. Asia, Fitz, Skye, you're running communications. Skye, you stay in the back car with your laptop, keep servers up. After the package is tagged we’ll follow it to Quinn."

Near the end of the train, Asia and Leo walked into a compartment, close to one another, gabbing, Asia throwing out a fake laugh. As they continued to walk, they passed May and Ward, Ward dressed as a bus boy, carrying May's bags, and May dressed as a wealthy woman, hair done in an elaborate updo. Asia and May met eyes for the smallest second, then kept going their opposite directions. When they made it to their car, they sat at a table opposite each other.

Leo lay his hand on the table, open for her, and she placed her hand in his. In their undercover aliases, they were dating. Yet, the way her hands fit in his was almost too good. Absentmindedly, Asia riffled through tourist maps of the surrounding area.

"Are you nervous?" Leo whispered to her from across the table.

Asia shrugged, "Just ready to get to the action. This isn't my first time undercover," she teased.

He smiled at her, then looked over his shoulder. "So," she asked him. "Are we going to be British or American?" He looked back at her and she smiled, squeezing his hand.

"That's up to you, how's your British accent?" He asked her with a matching smile.

She raised an eyebrow at him, "How do you Think my accent is?" she joked. "Let's do American, I want to hear it come out of you."

"American it is then," Leo said with a smirk, his accent almost as good as her British one.

She grinned, "Oh, that is really good."

"I used to watch a lot of American TV growing up. Some of it’s quite good. Lots of nice teeth," Leo said, returning to his nature, Scottish accent that she loved.

Asia couldn't help but roll her eyes, when she noticed the conductor. "Oh here we go, show time." As he grew closer, Asia grabbed a map. "Excuse me, sir, um, do you speak English?" She asked with a flip of her hair. She stood up, blocking the man's path so he couldn't pass by.

"Of course," The conductor replied in heavily accented English. "How may I be of service?"

"Can you recommend a restaurant in downtown Zagreb?" Asia asked, fluttering her eyelashes, causing the conductor to go red.

As if he were jealous, Leo hopped up, standing next to Asia, arm around her waist, his hand resting warmly on her hip. "Someplace affordable, with big portions," he said in an American accent.

"You are looking for something romantic, yes?" The conductor asked.

"Oh yes!" Asia giggled enthusiastically, turning and planting a kiss gently on Leo's cheek, which flared red. "We are celebrating our six month anniversary with a whirlwind trip all over Europe. Well, technically, we met six months ago, but he didn’t ask me out till last month, so our official one month anniversary isn’t until next--"

"Sunday," Leo blurted.

"Saturday," Asia said, furrowing her brow.

"Saturday," Leo muttered.

She turned back to the conductor. "I think he found me intimidating," She whispered to him with a slightly crazy giggle. Without the conductor noticing, she lightly unhooked his keyring from his belt.

"Young love, so…confusing..." The conductor muttered, backing slowly away from her.

"Is it?" Asia asked with another bat of her eyes.

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Leo and Asia moved back to the luggage cart, still holding hands. If she had more alcohol in her, Asia would probably kiss him again. Her lips still felt buzzing. She could picture it, as if they were actually on a trip through the mountains by train. She could imagine him pressing her against the wall, pressing his lips to her, their bodies so close not even air could get between them. No room for Jesus, that's for sure.

But she had to snap out of it, there was work to do. When they were out of the sight of others, she dropped his hand, and reached the luggage car, where Skye stood waiting. Using the keys she had stolen, they unlocked the door and slipped inside. Skye quickly found her bag and took out her laptop.

"You guys know I have a device which could unlock these doors right?" Leo asked.

Asia turned to him, her eyes narrowing. "Why did you not tell me before I did that ridiculous act back there?"

"I always the gadget guy. Maybe sometimes I want to do things with my bare hands," He shrugged.

"You wanna do things with your hands, huh?" Asia asked with a smirk, causing Leo to go promptly red. Skye rolled her eyes, typing at her computer.

"Alright, comms are live. Coulson?" She asked, testing them out. "Simmons, are you in position?"

"Yes, just waiting for May's signal," Coulson replied.

Moments later, Coulson spoke over comms again, "May, headed your way."

"Copy that," she replied. "Following the target to the package."

"Great," Skye said, typing at her laptop. "We see what you see." On her screen, they could see a heat vision video from above the train car as May moved.

"All right, May, Cybertek cases are usually lined with tungsten polymer to prevent scanning. It should appear black on your infrared," Leo explained.

As if on command, a black image appeared in May's vision. "Bingo! Uh, eye’s on the package, fourth seat from the back," Leo confirmed.

A PA voice announced that if they looked out the windows to the west they could see some sort of view. "I wish we had more time to take in the scenery," Leo said with a sigh. He tried to look out a window, but it was hard to see past the luggage. "Three peaks of Lavaredo, supposed to be stunning," He said to Asia.

"Any chance what's in there could be a 084?" Skye asked, changing the subject.

"This?" Leo asked as he moved over to the laptop screen, looking at the black box. "Now, we may not know what it is, but we do know that it came from Cybertek."

"Right. Unknown origin. And the one we found in Peru was a machine, but they don’t always have to be, right?" Skye asked, this time she and Leo both turned to look at Asia.

"No, no they don't always have to be," Asia said with a shrug. "weapons, spacecraft, energy sources....anything really. But they're always dangerous."

"Right," Skye said with a nod. She frowned a little, but tried to hide it. Not well enough.

"Hey," Leo said, "whatever this package turns out to be, we’ll deal with it, like we always do. We’ve faced worse and made it through."

Skye shrugged, wrapping her arms around herself. "Have you ever head of an 084 being a person?"

"No. Although I – I suppose it’s possible. Hate to meet the guy," Leo muttered. Asia almost said for a moment that she had been one, before SHIELD knew what had happened to her family, but she didn't. Then she would have to explain what had happened to her family, and she didn't want to do that.

Suddenly, a piercing static came from their headsets. The screen of the laptop began to fizz out. "Woah, May's goggles are offline. When did that happen?" Leo asked.

"May, do you copy?" Asia asked quickly over comms, wincing at the loud static.

"All comms and phones are dead. Someone’s using some sort of electric scrambler..." Skye said, brow furrowing with frustration.

"Cybertek knows we're here," Leo said, taking out his earpiece.

"We have to warn the team," Asia said, tucking her earpiece in her pocket.

The three of them get up and head for the door, but suddenly it was kicked open by a man in black barring a gun. The three agents threw themselves behind shelves and boxes. Leo fired blindly with the night-night gun towards the man. Asia swung out her leg, shoving a box towards the man, causing him to stumble.

The man in black pulled out an object resembling a grenade. Suddenly, Jemma ran into the room, shouting, "We've been made!" She barreled right into the man, smushing the bomb between them, and it went off with a small puff of blue.

Asia left over the shelf of luggage and ran towards them, reaching Jemma in a couple of steps, checking her pulse. She was alive. Asia let out a sigh. Blue lines ran out of both their eyes. "They only said night-night," Asia quipped back to the other two. Passed out, just fine.

"They must have made it airborne," Leo explained, moving over to examine the two. "Quite ingenious, actually."

"We got to get out of here. Find the others and figure out what to do next," Skye said, dusting herself off.

"Yes," Leo agreed. "Let's get Jemma moved first." Together, the three of them tucked her safely between some luggage, resting her head on a backpack. Asia tucked a night-night gun into her hands, just in case.

"What about him?" Skye asked, thumbing towards the enemy, still unconscious. Together, they loaded him into a box. Leo shot him twice in the chest with a night-night gun for extra measure, and they sealed the whole thing up.

Suddenly, the train jerked to a stop, the three of them falling all on top of one another, each letting out simultaneous groans. Once they untangled themselves, Skye moved to the window, sneaking a peek outside.

"Guys, they have the box!" Skye hissed.

"What do we do?" Leo asked, "Something must have happened to the others. We're all that's left."

"Do you have an extra tracker?" Asia asked him.

"Of course," he said, as if it were the most obvious thing on earth.

"Then we track them." She replied.

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Hiding within some brush, Skye, Asia, and Leo sat outside a large mansion. Asia had changed back into her black combat suit, tugging her gloves on.

"There, look," Skye said, nodding towards the left of the house near the entrance. The members they had seen outside the train were waiting impatiently on the steps. Two black, armored cars rolled up. A familiar figure in a suit climbed out of one and made his way towards the others. Asia's eyes narrowed.

"Coulson was right," Leo whispered. "Cybertek led us to Quinn."

"Activate the tracker," Skye hissed, "Let them know we're here."

Reluctantly, Leo did so. "You want to go in?"

"We can't let them get away," Asia shrugged.

"I'm not letting you go alone," Skye said to her friend. Asia eyed her a moment, before nodding.

"Let's do it," Leo said, taking off his backpack.

"Can you disable their cars?" Skye asked.

"With my bare hands," Leo said with a grin. He holds a small gadget in his hand for them to see. Asia nodded at him sharply.

"Be careful, ok," Leo said to both of them, resting his hand gently atop Asia's.

"You too, please," Asia said with a small smile.

With nods of affirmation, the three of them all began to move, Skye and Asia in one direction, Leo in the other.

Skye took out one guard with the Night-Night gun, and then they made their way into the house.

After that, everything went to hell.

Chapter Text

Asia woke up with the entire world upside down. The floor had become the ceiling, and the ceiling the floor. No, no that wasn't right. She had become upside down. She closed her eyes, breathing deeply. Clearly, blood had rushed to her head. She needed to focus. She took a deep breath and assessed.

Her arms were handcuffed and spread out, tied to something on the either end of her body. Her wrists hurt, and her ankles, which were suspended. She could feel blood dripping down her legs. As she looked up, she could see she was hanging from some sort of chandelier. There were chains around her ankles and wrists, but also barbed wire, which clung to her skin, piercing her, causing her to bleed. Great.

Someone had removed her jacket so that she was wearing only her white tank top. She looked further around, till her eyes landed on a man in a suit, grinning wickedly at her. Ian Quinn. He was blurry, but it was him. She gritted her teeth.

"Well hello, sleeping beauty. Back with the real world now are we?" He asked, standing up and moving towards her, bending slightly so they were eye level. "You made just a few too many mistakes today, Asia Monroe. Such a disappointment. I'm sure that's what Barton and Romanoff would think."

Asia turned her head so she wouldn't have to look at him. She wouldn't cry. No. Not because of this jackass. He grabbed her cheeks, forcefully turning her back towards him. "Nuh uh uh now, we're talking. Look at me. Now, we're going to have some nice conversations, and you're going to give me some information. And then I won't have to hurt you any more than I already have," he gestured towards her bleeding arms and legs.

"But if you don't give me the information I want," He took a sharp, glinting knife out of his pocket, running his finger along the edge till a small drop of blood appeared. He looked up at Asia and flashed that wicked grin again.

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It must have been an hour before he stopped. Asia couldn't be sure. Her body ached. Blood was running over her face. Cuts covered her cheeks, her bare arms, her stomach, her legs. She was fading in and out of conscious. When he asked her a question, she tried to say she didn't know, but the words came out slurred and stumpy. She couldn't feel her tongue and she was scared he had cut it out. She tasted blood, so he must not have. She couldn't taste if he had cut her tongue out.

"Now now, I'm going to take a quick little break," Quinn said, wiping the blood away from her eyes so she could see him. God her body ached. Burned. Everything hurt. Some of the cuts were shallow, but some of them were gushing rivulets of blood towards her face. Nothing could be too vital, or she would be dead by now. She didn't know if that was good or bad.

"But don't think I'm done with you," Quinn said with a small smirk. "I've got to go deal with your nosey little friend now." Skye.

"Nroow," Asia slurred. "Wou leabe her bwe." She strained against her constraints, which only caused her to bleed more.

"Oh no, I'm not going to do that," Quinn said, taking a gun from his belt, pushing back her bloody lips with it till she could feel the metal on her tongue. "But I am going to make both of you suffer." He grabbed her arm, where several deep cuts were and squeezed till Asia saw stars. He withdrew the gun and walked away till Asia couldn't tell if she could now longer see him because he had left, or because too much blood covered her eyes.

Chapter Text

Two. Two gunshots. She was pretty sure it was two, but she wasn't all that sure. Was she still upside down? Her head hurt. Her vision was thick and red and everything was slow, slow, and sluggish. Someone walked past her, loud, clompy, not looking at her. Another figure followed, grey, cold, evil. She could feel the evil.

Quinn.

He bent down. Maybe. Looking at her, shaking the gun in her face. "Plenty left for you later," he said in a sing song voice before disappearing. Did he disappear? Was he even there at all? Asia wasn't so sure anymore.

All she was sure of was she needed to get to Skye.

She thought perhaps she was trying to pull at her restraints. Was she? She wasn't sure. Everything hurt. There was so much blood, so much red. Suddenly, the double doors in front of her, the one's which lead outside, lead to freedom, were opened wide. She could make out figures in black and gasps of shock.

"Get her down, now!" She heard Coulson order. Was it really him? She couldn't tell, everything was still too blurry, too red, too swollen. She couldn't quite tell, but she could feel someone moving near her hands, releasing her wrists. Her arms fell limp, hanging past her ears.

And then Leo was there, and she knew for sure it was him. Pretty sure. He whispered in her ear. "There, there, I got ya." He held up her body while someone else released her legs from the barbs and chains and she crumpled into him. Part of her was worried she would get blood on him, but she couldn't move enough to do anything about it. "Oh, shh, don't you move now," He could hear a small waver in his voice, sense his fear. "That piece of shit did quite a number on you but it's ok, we're here now. I should beat the living hell out of him for doing this."

"Skye," she whispered. "Get to Skye, please." Leo was dabbing at her face with a Kleenex, clearing the blood from her eyes, her nose. She could see, she could breath. She looked up at him and saw her own destroyed figure reflected in his eyes. "Leo, he shot her."

"May, we've got a problem!" Leo called out and May hurried over. "She says he shot Skye, we need to get to her." He turned back towards Asia, not wanting to let her go. He cradled her in his arms, her blood covering his shirt and his pants, seeping onto his skin. They needed Jemma, and they needed her now. Before it was too late.

Suddenly, Coulson went running by. "He shot Skye!" Was all he said before disappearing down the hall. Asia gritted her teeth, rolling out of Leo's arms and pressing herself against the wall, using it as support, forcing her weak body upright, dragging herself forward along the wall, leaving a trail of red against the yellow paint. In an instant, Leo was at her side again, putting her arm over his shoulder and his hand on her waist, helping her hobble along.

Ward was with them in an instant, supporting Asia by the other side, Jemma following worriedly behind them. "I will get you patched right up, Asia, don't you worry." But her voice sounded anything but sincere, rather filled with worry that perhaps she couldn't fix all of this. Maybe they were in over their heads.

And then Coulson was shouting, and they were in the room where Skye lay unconscious, blood pooling from her abdomen, lips turning blue.

"Oh. God." Was all Asia could say before she crumpled to the ground, crawling towards Skye, reaching a hand out for her. Before she could get to her friend, Ward and Coulson were lifting her up, placing her in some sort of chamber. This was all her fault. All Asia could feel, could hear, were those words, over and over: "all my fault." Leo stood next to her and she clung to his legs from her spot on the ground, sobbing into his pant leg, her tears running red with her own blood.

This was all her fault.

Chapter Text

The water hit her back, warm, soft. Her clothes had been stripped off of her by Leo and Jemma. Both of them had faltered when it came to her underclothes, but they had to go. They sat her down in the shower stall adjacent to the Lab, and turned on the water, low pressure.

"We need to get all this blood off so I can see what I'm working with," Jemma said softly to Leo, and her voice sounded a million miles away. Asia hugged her knees to her chest. This was all her fault.

In her mind, she was picturing Natasha. What Natasha would have done, what Asia should have done. All the ways she could have saved Skye. All the ways she could have...should have...handled it.

Jemma bent down in front of her, tipping her chin up. Gently, she took a small swab and began to scrub her face, moving gently around her eyes, removing all of the blood. Behind her, Leo tentatively ran a sponge down her back, in slow, circular motions.

From far off, as if through water, a voice spoke, beckoning Jemma away. "Can you finish this and get her ready?" Jemma said to Leo before she left. He must have said yes, for Jemma was gone in an instant. Probably to take care of Skye.

Skye.

And again, it all flooded back. Her eyes ached from being unable to cry; all her tears had already been spent. Her body shivered, even under the warm water. Nothing was going to be okay again. She had to withdraw herself. She had to close herself off. It was the only way.

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Jemma slowly drew the needle across another cut on Asia's riddled body. How had she wound up in this place? Two of her friends, her teammates, injured. Skye, fatally. Asia...well....something was definitely wrong. While usually, Jemma found the brunette's excessive need to chat, need to punch things, need to constantly be moving, need to constantly make Fitz laugh, annoying beyond measure, now she would give anything for Asia to move, to look at her, to say something. Anything. She didn't even flinch when the needle was drug through her flesh, holding her bits and pieces together.

She glanced over her shoulder towards the chamber which was keeping Skye alive, barely. They were nearly at the hospital now. Then everything would go back to normal, and her two teammates would be okay.

Jemma brushed back Asia's hair, inspecting her scalp for any cuts. There were none. Quinn had avoided her scalp, for an unknown reason. Perhaps it was just an uncomfortable angle to reach. Gently, Jemma pulled the girl's hair into a soft ponytail to keep it out of her face. That lovely hair, the hair Jemma had previously been envious of, was okay. One thing was okay.

Carefully, Jemma unwound rolls of bandages and began to wrap them around Asia. Her arms, her legs, her chest, all bound. Her face was patched, her chest, her feet, her hands. Everything was covered in white. She then helped her into a sweater, into soft pants, nothing constrictive. "There," she said, looking for a place where she could gently pat him, but there were none. She faltered. "You're all patched up. You'll be back to normal in no time."

How long would no time be though?

 

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Asia stood in the corner of the waiting room, hood of her sweater pulled up, shielding her face. She crossed her arms over her shoulders, straining at her bandages. Jemma and Leo sat on opposite sides of a large couch, and every now and then Leo would glance at her, and the open space between them. Ward sat in a chair, arms propped up on his knees, chewing nervously at a thumbnail. Asia hadn't seen him this worried in a long time. Coulson was on the phone. May was pacing. Most of them refused to look at her.

As it should be. This was all her fault.

Hours passed and Asia refused to sit, refused to move. Coffee was consumed, books were read, and still Asia stood like a statue, dwelling only in her shadows.

Suddenly, Leo was off the couch and grabbing her arm. "Would you just sit down for Christ's sake?" He said, exasperated. The others all turned to face them. Asia looked at her feet. She let him lead her, reluctantly, to the couch. Her legs quivered, thanking him, glad to be relieved of their duty. So she sat.

They all sat.

After what may have been another hour or so, a doctor entered the waiting room. Everyone froze.

Chapter Text

It wasn't looking good, was the basics of what the doctor with the bobbed black hair told them, her hands clasped delicately in front of her Lab coat. Everyone sat, silently, unsure of what to say. The tension was so thick one could cut it with a knife. Finally, as expected, Coulson spoke.

"So what's next?" He asked, his voice even as could be. It surprised Asia that he could be so calm, even now. It reminded her of Natasha. Natasha would be steady as a stone in this situation. Clint, he would be the opposite, a sick, worried mess. She felt like Clint and hoped she looked like Nat. She wasn't even sure anymore. Her body was so numb from the different salves Jemma had swabbed over her stitches.

"We can keep her comfortable, but you’ll need to make a decision on whether or not you want to keep her on life support," The Doctor said solemnly.

Ward looked like he had been punched in the gut. For a second, his eyes flicked to Asia and burned with anger. She knew he was upset with her. Everyone should be upset with her, it was her fault they had been compromised. Skye never should have been in there in the first place. Asia should have gone in alone. She could have been shot instead, she could be dying instead. And that would be okay. But all of this, this wasn't okay.

May's lips quivered for a second, and she blinked rapidly, before her face became as straight as a board again. She knew what she had to do. She glanced back at Asia, the poor, bandaged little thing. She knew exactly who she had to do it with.

Asia felt like her stomach was filled with heavy bricks. Her hands shook. She couldn't cry again, as much as she wanted to. Anger boiled inside of her, anger and sorrow, at herself, and Quinn, and everything.

"You’re saying there’s nothing to be done?" Coulson asked, this time his voice wavering.

Slowly, the Doctor nodded, her lips pressed in a thin line. "I’m saying you need to call her family and get them here as soon as possible."

"We're her family," Coulson said quietly.

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Back on the Bus, May dragged Asia down the hall by her elbow. Asia was pretty damn sure she was about to get the shit kicked out of her by the agent. She wouldn't be surprised, at this point she'd just honestly take it. Maybe she should leave the team. Everyone she got close to inevitably got hurt.

May pulled wide a door and shoved her inside a dimly lit room. Infront of her was an interrogation table, and Ian Quinn tied to a chair, staring up at them. May strutted forward and without word, punched him square in the jaw. The man let out a sharp yell of surprise as her fist connected. May then moved around and grabbed the back of his head by his hair, holding his face up into the light. She looked up at Asia with eyes of steal. "Fuck him up," she said coldly.

"What?" Asia asked with surprised, her mouth dropping open slightly.

"You heard me," May said again, "Fuck. Him. Up." She yanked on his head slightly.

Asia clenched her fists and stepped forward, looking at May, nodding with understanding. They both needed this.

"Wait! You can't!" Quinn objected, eyes wide. But before he could say another word, Asia's fist connected with his eye, then another with him stomach. She pummeled him, smiling, a matching grin on May's face as she jerked on his head. This felt therapeutic, even as several of her stitches broke open and blood tinted her white bandages. She hit and hit and hit until it felt like maybe her hands would fall off, she and May taking turns then.

Suddenly, the door was thrown open and Ward and Coulson rushed in. "May! Asia! Outside, Now!" Coulson barked. May and Asia looked at each other. Asia shoved Quinn hard against the wall, the man's body slumping to the ground. She shoved her way out the door and stomped down the hall, headed for the Lab so she could get her stitches looked at once more.

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Asia sat in the Lab, tucked into a swivel chair as far as she could compress her body. If she could burrow herself so far in that she was invisible, everything would be better. Everyone else was filed around a center table, looking at the files that Coulson had decided to share with them, files Asia had seen long ago. Files discussing the incidents following Coulson's initial death.

"That...that can't be," Jemma said, "That's medically impossible." She stared at the files, then at a screen, in complete disbelief. Asia didn't blame her, it seemed pretty unlikely the first time she, Nat, and Clint were briefed on the secret situation.

" It’s only recently that director Fury gave me access to this," Coulson said. He had been equally baffled at first. Asia looked at her shoes, picking at some dirt on them. She knew, she knew the whole time. Not that she would tell anyone that. He gave her the file, she read it, feigned a look of shock, then masked it, nodded, and handed the file back. It had been an easy exchange.

"I’ve gone over it dozens of times. I need you to decipher the medical parts of it I didn’t understand. Feel free to reach out to Dr. Streiten. He should be eager to answer any questions you may have," Coulson said to all of them, but primarily to the two scientists.

"Yes," Jemma mused quietly, "I'm sure I'll have quite a few."

" So, what about Tahiti?" Leo asked, glancing quizzically down at the file.

"Turns out, not so magical," Coulson sighed. "Just false memories implanted to cover up what was done."

They talked for a bit longer, but Asia tuned the majority of it out, until Coulson left. He didn't look at her, and she couldn't blame him.

Leo walked over to her, looking down at her. "You already knew, didn't you?" He asked softly, still holding the file.

She glanced up at him, and then over at a microscope nearby. She gave the tiniest of nods, before looking back up at him. "No one can know." She said softly.

"Mums the word, got it," Leo said, looking over her bandages, searching for fresh blood spots.There were none, thankfully. He pulled up a chair and sat next to her. "You gotta be more careful out there, Asia," he said quietly. "This can't be a regular thing."

"I'm a trained assassin, Leo," she said with a shrug, "You just have to get used to patching me up."

"I'll patch you up any day," Leo said with a smile, "But that doesn't mean I'll like it."

Chapter Text

Asia quickly marched herself to the bridge where Coulson and Ward were waiting. Her bandaged appendages were covered by her trusty leather pants and leather jacket, making her feel much safer than she believed she could be. She wished she could cover up her face the same way, she felt like a monster, like a female Frankenstein, torn apart and patched back together in the wrong fashion. But she didn't have time to think about that now--they were about to be boarded by SHIELD agents, as they had refused a direct order. Coulson hadn't turned over Quinn.

No one was upset about that part of things.

"Really?" Coulson scoffed as Asia walked up to stand next to him and Ward. "All the chaos in the world and SHIELD sends a plane after us?"

"Three small planes," Asia sighed.

Ward nodded, glancing out a window before drawing the shades once more. "A small transport to dock and a pair of F-35s to make sure we hand over Quinn." The thought of handing over Quinn made Asia's fists clench of their own accord.

From above them, there was a loud thump, and the three agents looked skyward. Well, spaceward. "If they scratched my paint I’m gonna be pissed," Coulson muttered.

"We'll await your orders, sir," Asia said with a curt nod, glancing at Ward. Together, they moved to a different, adjacent living room space and sat on a leather couch, waiting, as patiently as they could. The tension between them was annoying.

"I didn't mean for it to happen!" Asia blurted suddenly, staring at her knees. She rested her hands on top of them, studying the bandaids that dotted her fingers. "I didn't mean for her to get hurt, and I know you blame me. Hell, I blame me. It was dumb. She wouldn't let me go in alone, but I should have forced her to stay behind. I just...I messed up Ward. It's my fault."

Ward sat there, staring at her for a moment, completely silent. Without a word, he slid next to her on the couch and wrapped an arm around her shoulder, strong, comforting, and understanding.

"I think I hurt everything I touch," she whispered into his arm, refusing to cry.

"That's the thing about people like us, Monroe," Ward whispered, his hand squeezing her shoulder lightly. "We were made of battle armour and fight songs. We can't not hurt people. We just have to keep going, no matter what."

Asia thought for a moment she would have something else to say, but she closed her mouth and sat in silence.

Suddenly, they heard footsteps. Both agents immediately stood up from the couch, ready for anything.But the figure who entered the room was one of the last Asia expected. A familiar face, at that.

Agent Antoine Triplett. Tall, lanky, beautiful chocolate skin and some of the kindest eyes Asia had ever known.

"Agent Triplett," Ward greeted the other Ops Agent with a polite nod.

"Agent Ward," He nodded in return, before cracking a grin at the shorter brunette, "Hey Tic Tac, long time no see."

Chapter Text

Asia couldn't quite remember who it was who threw the first punch, Ward or Trip, but somehow the two ended up throwing fists at one another haphazardly, tossing their strength all about. At first, Asia had started to object, but it was obvious it would be of no use. So she stood, occasionally moving out of the way while the two men brawled.

And then Coulson was there with another man, one Asia recognized as Agent Garrett. "Agent Ward, stand down!" Coulson barked immediately. Ward stops instantly, looking at Trip before shoving the other agent away from him. All three agents stood at attention, waiting for one of the senior agents to speak.

"Agent Garrett and I have come to an agreement. He convinced H.Q. he could interrogate Quinn here on our plane as we continue to Bethesda," Agent Coulson said finally, after looking over his two agents with a look of disappointment.

Garrett grinned, looking over at Coulson, "Well I’m a bit of a sweet talker when I need to be. You wouldn’t believe what I could this son of a gun into. You didn't tell me you had a new member to the team, Coulson." His eyes drifted over to Asia, eyeing her stance.

"She's not new to Operations, that's for sure," Coulson said, looking over at Asia. While he didn't smile, there was a hint of a proud grin in his eyes. "This is Agent Monroe, protege of Clint Barton and Natasha Romanoff."

Agent Garrett let out a low whistle. "Agent Monroe, as I live and breathe...I've heard the stories, never thought I'd meet you in the flesh."

Asia held out her hand to shake his, and was disappointed to find his weak grip was masked by a strong stance. "The pleasure is all mine," she said coolly, with a small nod.

Garrett proceeded to shake Ward's hand in greeting, a familiar grin sliding over his cracked lips. Garrett had been Ward's SO back in the day. Asia had never liked him much. While Natasha was strict, Garrett was harsh, and there was a clear difference, a clear difference Asia noted and didn't ever appreciate. Thankfully, Ward hadn't seemed to have picked up on those unfortunate traits. But then, Garrett spoke again.

"Saving the girl is our top priority," and Asia thought perhaps he wasn't as bad as she originally believed.

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"It doesn't make sense," Leo said, looking from May to Asia, then back to Jemma and the papers they were studying. "None of it does."

"So you're saying...that this entire thing was a coverup?" Asia asked, looking over her tablet at the information which Jemma and Leo had laid out for them. She swiped over the screen as she listened to them speak, looking over at May on occasion to gauge her reaction as well. The older woman seemed equally as concerned and surprised, although she managed to mask it better than Asia had. The two scientists had just gotten through telling them that Agent Coulson had never actually been treated at Bethesda.

"That's exactly what we're saying," Jemma said with a quick nod. "The doctor’s listed, the operating room number, none of them exist. None of them are a part of S.H.I.E.L.D." She pursed her thin, pink lips, clearly distraught. Jemma was the type of woman who was used to having all the answers, but this time...this time she did not.

May turned to Asia, both women staring each other evenly in the eye. It was clear to see they were calculating the next move, what exactly it was that could be happening.

"I'll stay with Leo and Jemma and I'll keep digging," Asia said as, at the same time, May spoke.

"I'll head to the bridge and speak with Coulson, brief him on what we've discovered so far, see if he has any more information he might be able to give us."

Then the two agents nodded at each other curtly, and May turned to leave. Asia turned back towards the two scientists. "You heard it guys, lets get back to work. We're running on limited time here."'

Minutes later, Jemma was called to the bridge.

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Asia had fallen asleep next to Skye's life support pod, head resting against the glass. Jemma had been watching the two of them for many minutes when Leo quietly entered the room. It would have been picturesque, three of his favourite people, if it weren't for Skye's dire state and the bandages which riddled Asia's body. "How is she?" He asked Jemma quietly, handing her a saucer of tea. Chamomile, just how she liked it.

" Deteriorating," Jemma said with a deflated sigh, "and I don’t know how to stop it. The only thing I found remotely interesting is something called “GH-325”." She stabbed her pen lightly on her notebook where she had scribbled the word repeatedly.

"Some sort of drug?" Leo asked as he quietly set a chair beside his coworker, watching Asia's light breaths as she slept.

Jemma shrugged, "Whatever it was, Agent Coulson was injected with it and literally minutes later his cells were showing signs of regeneration. That's what we need, for Skye."

Leo's eyes widened, "Regeneration?" He mused softly, running a hand through his curly hair. "Is that even possible?"

Jemma let her head fall into her hands and she spoke, muffled by her own flesh. "Even if this miracle drug does exist we don’t know where to find it. We have no coordinates, no logs of anyone’s departure or arrival. They're essentially nonexistent."

"I think I can help with that," Leo said with a small smile towards Jemma. He stood up, and moved over to Asia, tucking a strand of hair away from her face, and motioned Jemma to follow him out of the room.

Chapter Text

Asia checked her hand gun, making sure it was fully loaded, but the safety was still on. She tucked it in the back of her belt. Then, the tested each of her wristlets, extending the blades and sheathing them once more. She patted down her legs, double checking for her spare knives within her shoes, back pocket, shoulder blade. Check, check, check. She looked up and noticed Ward doing the same. He gave her a slight grin and she nodded back. Things were going to be okay with them.

She glanced out the window as the Bus made its decent through the snow-capped mountains. It was almost time.

Inside the cargo hold was Asia, Coulson, Ward, and Garrett, each doing their own individual checks for weapons and suits.

" The Guest House is not a S.H.I.E.L.D. facility. We don’t know who or what’s in there. Be prepared for potential resistance," Coulson said grimly. He was ready for anything, but he wanted to make sure his operatives were as well. He glanced over at Asia. "Monroe, are you sure you're up for this? You don't have to come." Her wounds were still rather fresh, and he couldn't risk having another agent put out of commission.

Asia flicked her glance over to Coulson before wrapping new tape over the bandages on her hands. "I'm absolutely positive. I need to do some ass-kicking, Coulson. You think Nat would let a few scrapes stop her?"

"Not a chance," Coulson replied with a light chuckle. Agent Monroe was becoming more and more like her assassin team leaders every day, in the best way possible. "Alright, but if at any point you change your mind...."

"I won't!" Asia replied quickly, snapping the last buckle on her combat boots. If anything, she was going to take as many names as she possibly could once they were in there. She had some major avenging to do. May entered the cargo hold from above, leaning over the railing and looking down at them as they prepped.

"No contact from the inside?" Garrett asked as he tucked two small guns into their holsters.

"I've tried every known channel," May said from her perch above, "No response."

Ward shrugged, "Place could be abandoned, maybe Coulson was the last patient they took." Asia frowned at the thought. That would be bad news, really, really bad news.

"Let's hope not," Coulson said, his feelings mirroring Asia's. "We need the people inside to work on Skye, to fix her the way they fixed me."

The doors to the lab slid open and Asia immediately perked up. Leo walked between the two glass doors, wearing his own form of black combat suit, backpack slung over his shoulder. He smiled at Asia and she smiled back, before he spoke. "Simmons is prepping Skye to move at a moment’s notice, sir."

"Trip can help," Garrett suggested, "he's got good med-tech training." Asia remembered this from their Ops days. He had always had an interest in patching them up after missions, and had been damn good at it too.

"Good. We do our jobs right, this will all go peacefully," Coulson said with a nod.

"And what if they don't want to help us?" Ward asked, bringing forward the elephant in the room. He had a valid point.

Garrett stood up, stretching, cocking his AK and slinging it gently up to rest on his shoulder. "Then I'll say 'Pretty please.'"

Coulson frowned. "We need to keep the doctors there alive and intact, in order for them to be any help. If it goes sideways..." he turned to look at Leo. "Fitz, I need you to determine what it is that Simmons can use to help Skye. Then we take that. Let's move out." The ramp of the Bus slid open and Leo, Coulson, Ward, Asia, and Garrett walked out onto the hard ground below, leaving May behind to watch the Bus and be ready to leave at a moments notice.

The only doors that led into the mountain were large and made of what looked like iron, and sealed. Next to the doors was a sign marked for radioactivity. There was a small metal box as well, with a speaker and a red button on it. In the corner of the doors was a small camera which swiveled to look at them. Coulson stepped forward and pressed the red button, then they waited.

Moments later the old speaker coughed out, in a man's voice, "How was the drive from Istanbul?"

Coulson turned to look at Garrett, "Countersign?" he asked, brow furrowed.

Garrett shrugged, "Not a clue..." he turned and looked at Asia, "Anything you picked up over the years with Delta?"

Asia shook her head, "We weren't really the....knock and ask nicely type when it came to missions." This earned a grin from Garrett.

"Never heard of it," Ward chipped in as well, with a shrug of his shoulders.

Leo tapped away quickly at his tablet, talking as he did so, "I can’t find it in any of S.H.I.L.E.L.D.’s protocol directives."

Coulson sighed and turned to look up at the camera, pulling out his badge. "This is Agent Coulson with S.H.I.E.L.D. we don’t know the counter but we have a team member in dire need of medical assistance. We know she can be treated here. Open the doors maybe we can work something out. Do you copy?" There was a long moment of silence, all of them collectively holding their breath, hoping to hear the sound of the metal doors unlocking and sliding open.

But it never came. Instead, from the metal box, the voice said once more, "How was the drive from Istanbul?" Garrett lifted his gun higher onto his shoulder. Asia unsheathed her wristlets, standing infront of Leo.

"We’re looking for medical assistance. A person’s life is at stake. Will you help us?" Coulson asked, his tone of voice becoming more urgent.

Again, the box repeated, "How was the drive from Istanbul?" Coulson grimaced and looked back at Garrett.

"Pretty please it is then," Garrett said with a toothy grin, nodding to Ward. Ward drew a handgun and quickly capped the security camera, the glass of the lens falling to the ground like water. Leo was at the metal box in an instant, pulling the screen on and tapping into the power.It wasn't long before the doors slid open and they were breaking into the compound.

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All five of them piled into a tiny elevator that was, surprisingly, playing elevator muzak. In a matter of seconds, they had lifted the lid to access the top of the elevator and all stood above it. Leo's flying camera was the only thing left inside the actual box itself, ready to grab footage for them when they made it to their desired floor. When the elevator slid into a slow stop, they all studied Leo's screen.

" There’s an antechamber and a set of glass doors," Leo whispered softly, "Can't see much beyond that, lights are all out."

"I'm sure theyre waiting for us in there," Asia muttered. "Too bad it doesn't matter, we're getting what we came for."

Coulson nodded, "They know we're coming, why don't we just go ahead and say hello?"

Ward dropped through the trap door, gun ready. "Clear," he whispered, and the rest followed suit behind him, guns at the ready.

When Leo dropped beside them, he whispered, "Comms are down with the Bus. There's too much mountain on top of us."

"Better this way, trust me," Garrett said with a shake of his head, "You don’t want them hearing the horrible death we’re walking into."

Leo stared back at him blankly, blinking twice.

Garrett let out a quiet chuckle, shaking his head. " Humor, son. You Brits are too serious. Besides, if the job was easy…"

"It wouldn't be any fun," Ward and Asia said at the same time, looking at each other and biting back laughs.

Leo frowned, brow furrowing, clearly insulted by the others. "I'm not afraid, not yet." He walked forward, past where Garrett and Ward were guarding the entrance to the elevator. Asia was instantly moving beside him. "In fact, I suspect the real danger won’t happen until we breach that bulletproof glass." He ran his hand over the door, feeling for any handles or latches. Turning around, the scientist noted another door behind them, and pointed. "Probably a stairwell back to the surface, that could be a good way out." Then he knelt beside the door, fiddling with the lock. Asia knelt on the other side, providing cover.

"What do you think, Fitz? Can you get us inside?" Coulson asked quietly. Asia smirked. Of course he could, he always could.

"To a certain, horrible death?" Leo asked sarcastically. "Absolutely." He looked over at Garrett, who was smirking. Good, Leo thought, his joke had worked. Moments later, Leo spoke again, "Alright sir, ready when you are."

"Once we get inside, everybody find cover," Coulson briefed, "All right, gentlemen, lady, here we go." The doors slid open and instantly Asia was inside, flipped a table to provide protection and diving behind it. Leo was pressed against the table beside her.

"I could 8 hostiles," Ward said, firing three rounds over a table of his own.

Coulson shouted over his own wall of defense, "We’ve come for medical assistance. But if you continue firing on us, we will defend oursel –" the firing continued from the enemy guards. "Guess we're going to do things the hard way."

Garrett shrugged, "You mean the fun way. Now, I don't know about the rest of you, but I wouldn't mind seeing our little Strike Team Delta protege work out some of her anger on these guys." He winked at Asia, which made her very uncomfortable.

She turned to Coulson, "May I?"

"By all means, go ahead," Coulson said with a grin, "Give 'em hell, but do it fast."

Asia smiled, "Thank you. Provide me some cover, I'll be back in a minute."

And like that, Asia was throwing herself over the table and flipping behind another desk. Ward lit up the room with covering fire as Asia swung from a pipe overhead ontop over an enemy agent. He was surprised, to say the least, but even more surprised as her knives jabbed under his ribcage as she shoved him away and kicked his gun to the side. Another guard came at her and she swung her leg out, tripping him face forward. She made quick work of him, snapping his arms as he let out an animalistic scream, followed by tears. With a quick knock to the head, he was out. The rest followed suite rather quickly, falling way to Asia's deadly knives and gun skills. In exactly one minute and three seconds she returned to Leo's side.

"Three seconds late, Monroe," Ward chidded jokingly.

"Not too shabby," Garrett admitted, "I hope you've been teaching Ward here a thing or two." This comment earned an eyeroll from Ward and Asia both.

"Let's go check what's left," Coulson said, "Maybe one of the one's you knocked out will be able to tell us what we need to know."

They made their way over to where the bodies all lay limp. "We're not done yet," Ward said, pointing at a trail of dark red blood. "It looks like one of them got away. Better track him down before he gets backup."

It was about two minutes later when they located the guy, who was apparently quite the crawler. The guard was leaning against the wall, clutching his gut, which was bleeding profusely. Ward kicked the man's gun away from him, and he and Coulson knelt in front of the man.

"We’re gonna get you medical help. Is anyone else down here? Where are the doctors?" Coulson asked. "We can get the help for you too, if you tell us where."

"Med staff doesn't stay here," the man coughed out, lips red with blood.

Coulson frowned, then spoke again urgently, "We’re looking for a drug, GH-325. It might help you, too."

The guard frowned, squinting up at Coulson, "Do..do I know you from somewhere?"

" I don’t know. I-I might have spent some time here awhile back." Coulson admitted.

"Then...you know about the timer," the guard coughed out. Coulson's eyes widened, and he began to slowly back away.

From down the hall, Garrett came running, "We've got a problem!"

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Leo was working a on a door when the rest joined him again.

"Semtex," Garrett said with a sigh, "The whole building is rigged with them."

"There’s enough explosive to bring down the whole mountain on top of us," Leo confirmed.

"Sir!" Ward said, rushing up clutching a small clock, " Sir, less than 10 minutes. It’s probably a failsafe. If the guards had eliminated us, they’d stop the timer."

"And since they didn't..." Coulson trailed off.

"It’s some kind of emergency override. Skye could probably get past it, but I can’t hack the panel, which means we’re trapped in here.." Leo frowned, setting down what he was working on.

Coulson stood up, taking a deep breath. And then he went right into leader mode, turning to Garrett. "You’re the guy who taught Ward how to disarm nuclear bombs. Figure out a way to get us out of here." Garrett and Ward nodded, running off. Then, Coulson turned to Leo and Asia. "Let’s go find the drug."

Chapter Text

"So this is some sort of medical facility?" Leo asked, as he, Coulson, and Asia jogged down a dimly lit hallway, checking all of the doors, searching for any sign of the medicine they were looking for.

"It seems to be," Coulson replied, "But I don't know if it'll do us any good without the staff here." Coulson came to a stop by a door which was labeled "Viewing," in faded, peeling red paint. Coulson grabbed the handle, slowly open it, mouth dropping open. For a moment, he didn't move.

Leo stepped beside their team lead, speaking softly. "Is this....?" He let the question trail off, floating into the hollow, dusty air.

"It is," Coulson affirmed quietly. But, as intriguing as it was, this area wouldn't help them. They had to keep moving. Before time ran out.

Moving briskly down the hall, Coulson spotted another door. This one was marked "Biohazard Containment" in the same, pealing red paint. Leo began to ask if they should really be entering the room when Coulson was already grabbing the circular locking mechanism to open up the door. Shoving open the door, which squeaked and groaned at being opened, Coulson stepped inside, followed shortly by Leo and Asia. Inside were shelves and shelves lined with drugs of all different colours, with only a thin sheet of glass separating them from the vials.

"We should put on suits before going in there," Leo muttered, his words loud even as he whispered.

"You're probably right," Coulson nodded, "But there's just no time." He clicked on a flashlight and slid open the sliding glass door into the area containing the various liquids. Asia looked over at Leo, shrugging, and followed him.

She had to, of course. This was exactly the kind of thing Natasha and Clint had told her to look out for. The exact thing they had asked her to send back if she ever located any of it. The kind of thing she would have to smuggle out before it was all blown to bits.

"Start looking," Coulson said, opening up a cabinet and checking each test tube. Asia and Leo each took a shelf, searching as well.

"I don't see any G.H.." Leo began to say, moving to another cabinet and shaking the door handles. "It's locked..." he muttered, tugging once more. "Agent Coulson, Asia," he motioned them over.

Coulson grabbed gloves out of his pockets, handing a pair to both Leo and Asia. "Put these on," he instructed, as he pulled out a ring of keys which he had taken off of a fallen guard. He tried one after one until finally he found one which clicked. "There, got it!" He opened the cabinet door, revealing a chamber holding several vials of GH-325.

At that moment, Ward entered the room. "Time to go," he said, shooting a thumb towards the door. "Couldn't stop it. We've got 4 minutes and counting."

"Almost ready," Coulson replied back, not turning to look.

"There's semtex lined throughout here too," Ward pointed out, "We don't have a lot of time."

"Got it," Leo said, holding up a vial of blue liquid. "This is the one we want. This is the GH-325."

"Good, good, we've got to get it up to Simmons." Coulson said, patting Leo on the back. When they weren't looking, Asia slipped her hand in, grabbing another vial and placing it descretly in her pocket. She would send it back to Nat as soon as she had the chance.

"Asia," Coulson said, and for a moment she thought she was made. "Get Fitz out of here."

Asia gave a sharp nod, grabbing Leo's arm, "Let's go." Leo didn't need any further instructing.

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They had three minutes left when Garrett and Leo finished rigging their exit door to blow. They had placed semtex in precise locations around the door.

"Haven’t you work much with munitions, Agent Fitz? Explosives are a fascinating specialty." Garrett said with a grin. "Very exacting. Too big concussion could trigger a chain reaction, bury us like fossils for a thousand years. Guess we don’t have to worry about the Clairvoyant finding this place. Asia couldn't deny her stomach squirmed at the idea of Leo working frequantly with bombs.

After setting the last few, Garrett and Leo both got up and made their way back to where Ward and Asia stood, behind a cement pillar.

"Agent Ward, would you like to do the honours?" Garrett asked, handing Ward a small, silver box with a little black button.

A grin instantly slid over Ward's face. "I thought you'd never ask," he replied, taking the trigger box. Pressing the small button, a trigger of small explosions popped around the corner.

The doors now, while not perfectly opened, had a small gap. "Can you fit?" Asia asked Leo, tugging on the doors with Ward to make them open just a bit more.

"Yea, yea I can make that," Leo affirmed after checking the area.

"Monroe, take him up, we'll get Coulson," Garrett barked, and Asia nodded sharpley, turning to Leo.

"You first," she said, holding the door open a bit so he could squeeze through with ease. Slipping through, she followed behind, the stolen vial of blue liquid weighing heavily in her pocket. She had to continually remind herself, it was all for the cause.

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The two barrelled up the dimly lit stairs, Leo grabbing onto Asia's are and pulling her forward. "Are the comms up yet??" She asked frantically, almost tripping over a stair.

"We should have contact soon," Leo replied, slowing momentarily so she could regain her footing. "Come in, come in," Leo tried over his comms, holding one hand to his ear. "Get the plane off the ground. I repeat, get the plane off the ground." He turned to Asia, "Now let's just hope they heard me."

Together, they kept climbing.They could see small cracks of light shining through twin doors above them. They were close, so damn close. Asia shoved aginst the doors, thrusting them outward and blinding sunlight hit the two agents in the face. Covering their eyes, they continued to run forward, Asia still dragged by Leo, who, in times of absolute necessity, displayed incredible speed.

They raced up the deck of the aircraft, taking the spiral staircase towards the medbay two steps at a time. Asia's heart nearly shattered when they reached Skye's pod. Jemma was pumping her chest, shouting orders at Trip. They were working hard, but their efforts were failing. Her hand rose shakily to cover her pale lips.

"We've got it!" Leo shouted, holding up the vial. He handed it quickly to Jemma, who held it up to the light.

"What is it? And how much, injected where?" She asked in a rapid succession. The two agents looked at each other, unsure. Jemma shook her head. "There's no other option. I'm injecting." She took a syringe and filled it with the strange liquid, finding a vital vein, and injected it, quickly. They all stood, breath held, hoping for the best.

Just then, Coulson came running in, screaming like mad, "NO! Don't give it to her!!"

They all looked over towards their leader. "It's too late," Jemma said softly, holding up the empty syringe. Her heart monitor began to slow, flatlining. It echoed sadly in the background. " I was losing her anyway, what harm can it do?"

Asia refused to let herself cry.

Chapter Text

The monitor suddenly began to flash from red to green, a heartbeat starting to rapidly fly on the screen. Asia let out of choking gasp of relief. The heartbeat continued to pick up steadily, and everyone in the room turned astonished, happy heads towards Skye. Then suddenly, the monitor goes back to red, her stats still rising, higher and higher. Skye began to take in deep, squeaky breaths, her back arching in a terrifying way.

At that point, every single agent in the room started shouting on thing or another, at no one in particular. It wasn't until Skye's body let out a gasp and fell down, back to a normal, flat position, and her vitals returned to a solid, pulsing green. Everyone froze.

"Her heartbeat," Jemma muttered, studying Skye with a scientist's gaze. "She's stabilizing herself."

"Could someone please just tell me what we saw?" Ward asked, panic filling his tone. It was blatantly obvious to Asia how deeply Ward cared about the other brunette girl on the team.

Asia stepped forward, standing closer to Skye, resting one small hand on her wrist. Her pulse was running at a normal relaxed pace.

"I don't know," Jemma admitted with a frown, biting her lower lip. "All I know is that it worked." While the entirety of the team looked relieved, there was a look on Coulson's face that made Asia very worried,made her feel the small vial inside of her pocket. Something was wrong. Very, very wrong. She needed to send the liquid back to Nat and Clint as soon as she could.

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It was several days later when the Bus landed on the aircraft carrier. And then several high up agents were boarding their plane, including Agent Hand, much to Asia's dismay. She still disliked the woman ever since she forbid her to see the information on Ward and Leo's mission, ever since she sent them in without a extraction plan. And she had no qualms with showing it.

She sat in the meeting room of the Bus, on one of the plush, tan couches, Ward standing next to her, hand resting politely on her shoulder. She flicked her gaze towards his hand, then up at her friend's chizzled face.

"Someone has to hold you back," he muttered with a shrug as the other agents finally walked into the room, lead by Coulson. Asia gritted her teeth reflexively.

"Apologies for the long song and dance," Coulson said, relaxing onto one of the long couches. "But we brought you here as a precaution."

"What sort of precaution?" Agent Sitwell asked, lights shining off of his bald head, causing a shiny glint.

"The Clairvoyant," Coulson said with a sigh, still unsure if he actually wanted to admit there was someone with these sort of mind reading powers. "If there is someone out there who can read minds, at least up here we’re as far away from him as possible."

Agents Sitwell and Blake looked at each other, eyes slightly widening. The only small tell at their mild shock.

"Figure maybe the northern lights will knock a few bars off his psychic wi-fi," Garrett said, picking at his teeth with a thin toothpick, flashing a cocky grin.

Agent Blake pursed his thick lips. The stress of this sort of thing is exactly what made his hair go so gray. "Coulson you know S.H.I.E.L.D.’s stance on psychics, they don’t exist."

Asia rolled her eyes, crossing her arms over her chest. She fought back a deep sigh.

"Do you have something to input, Agent Monroe?" Agent Blake asked her, raising an eyebrow in challenge.

Asia frowned. "I do, actually. I know S.H.I.E.L.D. may not 'believe' in psychics, but that doesn't mean they don't exist. We didn't know Asgard existed until a few years ago, and now we know of many new worlds. Who's to say there isn't a psychic who has just been in hiding all these years?"

Agent Hand turned to Coulson, furrowing her brow. "And suddenly you're a believer?" she asked him.

"Not definitively. But I had a recent experiences with an Asgardian who could bend people’s will with her voice." Coulson said, noting their last mission. Asia subconsciously touched her elbow, it was still bruised from the fight. She could see Ward and May exchange a glance out of the corner of her eye. "Forced me to open my mind, so to speak," Coulson said with a shrug.

Garrett could sense the tension in the room, and it made him want to smile. Usually he fed off of this sort of thing. But instead, this time he chose to attempt to defuse. " All we know for sure is the Clairvoyant has been a step ahead of us, stealing plays from our playbook."

"And it’s pissing me off." Coulson said, smacking his hand on a table nearby. "I take it you’ve all read Agent Garrett’s latest report?"

"The hit on the safe house," Sitwell said with a quick nod. "Mr. Peterson’s alive and kicking."

"We call him Deathlok," May said coolly. The name had stuck well with the rest of the group, might as well share it. Afterall, as far as they knew, he wasn't really Mike Peterson anymore, anyways.

"It was his projects codename," Ward affirmed with a sharp nod.

"Agent Garrett and I have been following him for a few weeks," Trip pointed out, moving over and sitting in the chair next to Asia.

"We think the Clairvoyant’s super-solider bodyguard came after us for a reason. We’re getting close," Garrett confirmed, "If last week didn't tell us that. There were definitely some shots that got too close for comfort."

"To what?" Hand asked skeptically, in that tone that made Asia want to gag. "His identity?"

Garrett and Trip exchanged a knowing look, and Trip nodded ever so slightly. It was almost imperceptible. "We’ve narrowed the list to 13 candidates," Garrett said finally. "Like I said, close."

"Narrowed it how? From what?" Agent Blake asked, his lips still pressed tightly together. Asia glowered at him, but he didn't notice.

"Agent Garrett has been taking a second look at S.H.I.E.L.D.’s gifted Index, specifically the rejects," Agent Coulson explained, tapping on his tablet and bringing some names up onto a small screen, and videos of interviews.

"Individual’s S.H.I.E.L.D. interviewed who are believed to have psychic abilities but were ultimately dismissed," Garrett affirmed. "They might have some beef with S.H.I.E.L.D. for being ignored."

"So..." Sitwell said, studying the videos that played on screen. "You think we've encountered the Clairvoyant before?"

Coulson nodded, "Think how many cases we’ve encountered across the globe, how many cases we vetted. It’s more than possible, it’s probable. I think Garrett is on track when he says they could be spiteful of being denied classification."

"I need more coffee for this," Blake sighed in frustration.

Agent Hand flicked her eyes towards Blake, then back to Coulson and Garrett. "Let’s assume what you’re saying is possible. What then? If we’re going up against an actual clairvoyant, how do you suggest we combat that?" She crossed her arms over her chest, wrinkling her black suit jacket.

"A member of my team is an expert at pattern recognition and analysis, finding needles in haystacks," Coulson said, obviously talking about Skye. The real question now became, would Hand allow her participation this time. Last time, it hadn't gone over so well, and Skye had been removed from the ship. Yet, she had still managed to find Coulson. She was good, Hand had to see that. "She’ll prioritize the candidates on Garrett’s list, locate them, then pair us off into random teams."

"That way only one person knows the full scope of the mission," Garrett nodded, "And this son of a bitch won't be able to read any of the guys coming after him, because their information will be split."

"You do understand that this person you’re referring to, she’d need to be a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent to be granted that level of access," Hand said, brow furrowing.

"I'm glad you brought that up," Coulson said with a smile.

Chapter Text

After Coulson had handed Skye her new badge, Asia, Leo, and Jemma all rushed towards her, throwing their arms around her in a massive group hug. Asia looked up from the hug, meeting Ward's gaze. She gave him a small, knowing smile, and pulled back from Skye. "Come on guys, let's get back to the Lab," Asia said to Leo and Jemma, leading them out of the room. She knew Ward and Skye well enough by now. One of these days, they would talk about their mutual feelings for each other.

It wasn't long before they were all called back to the meeting room and the field agents were paired off. Asia waved goodbye to Jemma and Leo in the Lab before going to meet Skye, who handed her a small cell phone. Thing must have been a Nokia, it weighed like a brick in her hands. Coulson joined them in the room shortly after.

"Here's one for you too, you're all set," Skye said, unplugging an identical phone from her laptop and handing it to him.

"Hope you paired me with someone good, or interesting at least," Coulson said with a smirk.

"Hey, same goes for me," Asia agreed with a small chuckle. "God forbid I get stuck with Agent Sitwell. I'd almost rather get tortured by Nat."

Skye didn't seem to hear either of them as she typed away at her laptop, lips slightly pursed.

"Quit worrying," Coulson said in a knowing tone.

Skye jerked her head up away from her screen, looking at the both of them. "I'm not worrying..." she said slowly, but it was painfully obvious that she was. Asia just shook her head.

"You wear your heart on your sleeve," Coulson said in a calm, fatherly tone. "I trust your judgment. I'm sure Agent Monroe does as well." Asia nodded earnestly. "The way you see the world. It’s different than the rest of us. That’s why I want you to dig deeper into these." He set a stack of files down on her desk next to her.

"The psych evals?" Skye asked, perplexed.

"The Clairvoyant thinks he can read our minds. See if you can read his. We need some insight into who this person really is, a weakness. So, do what you do, find the exploit. And stop worrying. Agent Monroe, let's roll out." Coulson turned and headed for the door, and Asia had no choice but to follow. When they left, Skye turned back towards the small screen, her lips pursing once more. As easy as it was for them to say not to worry, it was much harder to actually ignore the nagging of her conscious.

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Asia had been paired with a woman slightly older than her, named Agent Romney. She was tall, almost 6'3, and had hair as black and shiny as the feathers of a raven. It was her eyes that really got Asia. Icy blue, with veins of black running outward. They were piercing, judging, and made her incredibly uncomfortable. They had been dropped off at an abandoned zoo, not far from Atlanta, Georgia, but in some small, rural, rundown town. And if Asia had any hope of carrying a sort of conversation, she was very wrong.

Agent Romney had no intentions of speaking whatsoever. All they could do was explore the area and hope for the best. And then wait, for their ride to arrive.

The zoo was desolate and empty, with dripping water still running through some of the artificial streams. The plants which had once been there had grown rampant and climbed up and down various walls and fences. Asia couldn't help but wonder what happened to all of the animals there. All in all, it was a bit sad. She would had been absolutely fine sitting there until Agent Hand's call came through their comms, ordering all back up teams to move.

Agent Romney and Agent Monroe exchanged a look, and before either could blink, they were sprinting back for their quinjet.

Chapter Text

Agent Blake was in bad condition when they got to the Hub. When Asia's Quinjet had docked aboard the Bus and she boarded her ship, Leo was there waiting for her. As soon as she stepped off that last stair, he had thrown his arms around her, burying his face into her shoulder, taking in her scent of vanilla and some soft flowery scent. "Oh thank God you're okay," he whispered. "When I heard an agent was down I thought...I thought. Oh, I thought the worst."

Asia hugged him back, fighting the urge to brush her lips gently against his. "We've got a suspect now, though. That's a step. We're moving forward Leo. And this madness of the clairvoyant will be over soon."

"Let's get back down to the Lab. Simmons should be getting done with her debrief with Hand," Leo suggested, finally releasing her from his tight hug. That sounded like a good idea, the Lab. Back with her people, back where she could make sure everyone she loved was safe.

She nodded, smiling softly. "Let's go to the Lab."

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Asia handed Jemma a stack of papers, which she shoved into her bag.

"Honestly, I don’t know how much more you can tell them. Who knows what else they’ve done to the man?" Leo protested, not fancy of the idea of any of his friends splitting off from the team right now, not before they got this entire situation on lockdown.

Jemma sighed. "Or how much man is left at all. Regardless, S.H.I.E.L.D. sees us as the resident expert on the Deathlok program," she comically rolled her eyes, which made Asia smile. It wasn't often that she saw Jemma let her guard down around her. The redhead grabbed a small container and looked inside before quickly shutting it and shoving it in her bag. "If they want me to stay here, at The Hub, then that’s that. Not much arguing I can really do against them."

"She's got a point, Leo," Asia said with a shrug, "We can't exactly fight The Man right now. Not when we're working with them."

"It must be nice knowing you'll have a far more comprehensive Lab to work in while you're there," Leo said, giving Jemma a knowing look. The red head gave a small nod in reply. Asia did her best to pretend she hadn't noticed the exchange between the two. Clearly it was a secret Leo didn't feel like sharing.

Just then, Trip entered the room, that friendly smile on his face. "Hey Tic Tac," he said, giving Asia a casual two finger salute, before turning to Jemma. "You ready to roll out?"

Jemma's eyes widened in surprise, and Asia thought she might have caught a hint of a blush on her pale cheeks. The brunette assassin's eyes widened slightly in surprise and a small smile crossed her lips, before vanishing discretely. "Agent Triplett. Are you staying at The Hub as well?" Jemma asked coolly, twirling a strand of her red hair around one thin index finger.

"Yeah, Garrett’s keeping me here. Help brief the teams on our most recent run-in with the cyber solider. Don’t mind the company, do you?" Trip asked, her voice warm as he looked down at the scientist. There was something familiar in his voice, something Asia recognized from a long time ago, back in Ops school, when a young, tall agent who was all arms and legs had asked her the same question as he sat next to her on the lawn to study. There was a small, tiny pang of jealousy that instantly vanished, the kind that only came from old relationships, followed only by strong, strong happiness for her friends.

"No, not at all," Jemma said, a smooth smile sliding across her face, a matching one of Trip's. This was very, very good.

It seemed that Agent Fitz had caught up on the same vibes that were rolling off those two like water. His eyes darted back and forth between the two of them, confusion playing on his face, lips slightly pursed. Again, that jealousy bit at Asia' heart, but for an entirely different reason this time.

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When Coulson called the team on full alert, Asia was up from her bed and slinging an AR-15 over her back in 10 seconds flat. She sat next to Ward in the SHIELD issue truck as the rumbled down the road in hot, humid Florida.

"Think we'll finally get him?" Asia asked, glancing over at her friend and teammate.

Ward shrugged slightly in his thick combat gear, tugging quickly at the lip of his black turtleneck. "I fucking hope so. I'm ready for this shit with the future predicting to be done with. The only person I like knowing my moves is me."

Coulson flicked a glance back at them before returning his eyes to the road as they pulled up in front of a desolate race track. "Fitz, you got signal confirmation?"

"Yes sir," Leo's familiar voice filtered over their comms. "94% chance he's in there." Leo tapped away on his tablet as the van he was in pulled to a stop. He stepped out, his eyes instantly searching for Asia as she got out of the armored truck, her body armor dwarfing her small form. The second he found her, he moved through the crowd of SHIELD soldiers towards her, Coulson, May, and Ward.

"Civilians inside?" May asked, studying the structure and its peeling paint.

"Highly unlikely," Leo said, turning his tablet so they could see. "The buildings been shutdown for months." He turned and looked over at Asia. "You're going to be safe in there, right?"

Asia rolled her eyes, but smiled. "Ward's got my back," she nodded towards him.

"Speaking of safety," Ward said, pointing at a soldier next to them. "You, I want you 6 feet from Skye at all times. She's running backup from the van. Don't leave her side." He was still worried from the incident in the mansion a few weeks ago. A pit suddenly formed in Asia's gut as she remembered. Most of her own marks were gone, but a few scars still clung to her back like a shadow.

"Ward, it’s okay. I’m ready." Skye said, furrowing her brow.

Coulson shook his head, "Ward’s right. I feel bad enough you’re already back in the field. I’m not taking any chances with your safety." He glanced over at the soldier Ward had given the order to, and gave him a sharp nod.

Skye looked back and forth between them, biting the inside of her cheek, before looking towards Asia for help. Asia shook her head. She wasn't about to let Skye get hurt on her watch again. Ward nodded towards the van and Skye turned, stalking off, the anger practically rolling off her.

"You made the right call," Asia said softly.

Ward watched her go, an odd look in his eyes, before he softly said, "I know."

Chapter Text

Asia stood, gun ready, as Garrett blew the door, standing protectively close to Leo. She didn't like that he was this close to the field, that he was in this dangerous place, facing the Clairvoyant. So she would just have to be the body that stood in the way of anything that might come through those doors.

"Clear!" One of the soldiers called from within the abandoned race track building.

"Fitz, you're up!" Coulson called from the front of the pack. Asia moved first, the flashlight at the end of her barrel waving as she checked the corners for any signs of movement. Leo followed quickly behind her, kneeling down next to an old crate and opening up his suitcase.

"It’s time to hunt, boys," Leo muttered to his tech, turning his drones on one by one. " Let’s find us a Deathlok."

The drones began to glow a low yellow, spinning one by one and rising out of the crate. For a moment, they hovered in front of their creator, the yellow light reflecting in his grey eyes, before shooting off into the immense black in front of them all.

"Impressive toy," Garret said to Fitz as they continued down the hall, eyeing the scientist, and how protectively close the protegee Avenger stood close to him. She was such a good asset for this team. Too bad she clearly needed to learn professional loyalty. If she had to choose between SHIELD or her old mentors, she would choose her mentors, and that was plane as day.

"I prefer the term 'high tech hardware,'" Leo replied, controlling the drones from his tablet.

Meanwhile, on the comms, shit was going down. Skye had spotted Mike Peterson, but he was different. "Fitz, can you get one of your drones to where Skye is getting the live feed?" Coulson ordered.

"Of course, sir," Leo replied, tapping quickly at his screen, directing one of his drones towards the corridor that Skye specified. As he maneuvered it, one of the signals on his tablet when dead. "Uh, signal’s dead. Retriever’s down," Leo said, rapidly typing away, attempting to regain the signal on his drone.

"He knows we're here," May said to Coulson, hand resting on her belt where her extra Glock 9 was holstered.

"Fitz, get back to the van, now," Coulson ordered, nodding at him. The scientist packed up his equipment with precision, but still with speed. In the darkness, he squeezed Asia's hand, whispering, "be safe," before he disappeared into the light. Asia watched him go, her hand tingling slightly, before turning back to Coulson.

"Let's finish this."

Chapter Text

"Got him! Making chase!" Asia shouted as she and May raced down a dark hallway after the figured of Mike Peterson racing away in front of them. He vaulted over a railing, and Asia raced towards it, prepared to jump, but May grabbed her arm.

"It's too far down, you'll break your legs," she said calmly, searching for the figure of Mike.

"He just ducked into the southwest stairwell," Coulson reported over coms. May and Asia shared a glance, before they took off running again. They needed to keep pace with Coulson in case some trouble started, and he was already damn far ahead of them. "All teams, he’s headed into the sub-basement. I do not have a visual. Fitz, do you have a retriever down here?" Coulson questioned.

"No sir," Leo replied over coms, and it was instantly comforting to Asia just to hear his voice. "Sending some your way now."

A few seconds later, the sound of gun fire is heard. "Fitz, are you seeing this?"

"Uh, barely, sir. It leads down into the sewer system. That’s under at least…40 feet of concrete. We’ll be blind down there," Leo said uncertainly.

Asia raced up to Coulson's side, holstering her pistol. "Everyone ok?" She asked, looking between Coulson and Garret, then at the ladder in question. It lead down, way, way down, and it was dark beyond belief. One of Leo's retrievers quickly wizzed around her, as if studying the agent.

Suddenly, the tiny gadget turn on a dime and sped off the other direction. "Where the hell is that little thing going?" Garret asked, following the drone with his eyes till it was swallowed by the blackness.

"Sir, there’s someone else down there," Leo's voice cracked over coms, and as he spoke, the sound of loud beeping could be heard as well.

The three agents looked at one another, before following where the drone had gone. It was blacker than black down there, the only visibility created from the small flashlights atop their weapons. When they reached the end of the hallways, the small drone was hovering infront of a set of double doors, blinking softly. Asia got to one side of the door, Garret on the other, as Coulson prepared to open the doors and bust in. Garret nodded, and Coulson threw open the doors.

As the three agents entered, Asia's mouth dropped open.

"What the fuck..." Garret muttered, vocalizing the emotion Asia and Coulson were both feeling. There were monitors on every wall, all showing different places, showing different SHIELD agents. And in the center of it all, sat a man in a chair, facing away from them. The three Agents form a perimeter, and circle around the man, guns up, until they end right in front of him.

Tubes ran out of the mans mouth and nose, and he was connected to all sorts of apparatuses. And when he finally spoke, it was a robotic, computerized voice, which came across the speakers. "Agent Coulson, Agent Garrett, Agent Monroe, I surrender. "

The voice sent shivers of the worst kind down Asia's spine and she raised her gun, staring at him. This was the man who had been torturing them all. This was the man who had her strung upside down from a chandelier. This was the man who had Skye shot. It took everything in her not to pull the trigger.

"Forgive me if we don’t shake hands. I don’t like to be touched," the robotic voice said in a mocking tone, right as May and Ward entered the room, guns raised.

"Sir," Ward spoke up, checking the dark corners, "We've got a lot of wires back here."

"Don’t touch anything. We need this room swept for explosives," Coulson ordered at a guard who stood near the door. The guard gave a sharp nod in reply.

"There are no traps here, Agent Coulson," Nash's robotic voice hissed. "You’re here because we are destined to meet." Despite his words, not a single Agent lowered their weapon.

"So, You’re the Clairvoyant?" Garret said, almost chuckling, which Asia thought was in poor taste.

"I’m Thomas Nash. Mr. Po gave me that other name. A bit dramatic for my taste," the robotic voice echoed in reply, an almost knowing glint shining in the eyes of the man riddled with tubes.

"Eyes open, everybody. We don’t know where Deathlok is or who else is down here," Coulson cautioned, before telling Fitz to keep an eye out with the drones.

"Oh no, Coulson, it's just us down here," The voice said for Nash. "Mr. Peterson is gone. I cut his feed, so you won’t find him."

Coulson furrowed his brow. This wasn't making sense, not at all. Why give up so easily? Why have the armed soldier lead them down here at all? After all of the terrible, terrible things he had done, giving up so easily seemed rather out of character for someone who was allegedly ten steps ahead of them at all times. "But you had him lead us here. Why?" He narrowed his eyes at the man in front of them, the aim of his pistol not wavering for a moment.

"So I could see you with my own eyes instead of his. Now I understand why I couldn’t see you after you died – because you, yourself, could not see. You were simply a broken man who did not know he was broken."

Asia shivered.

Coulson looked dryly over the words as they appeared on the monitor in front of them, before looking Nash dead in the eyes. "You're one to talk," he said flatly.

"Let’s pack this freak off to The Fridge where he belongs," Garret growled, clearly growing rather tired of the man in the chair and of all this talk. He was here for the action, and it was apparent no more would be happening on this mission.

"Do you believe you can confine me any more than this chair?" The voice said, "I will join Raina in your prison, Agent Coulson, but I will see you wherever you go, just as I saw your team enter that building, saw them cut Asia down from the ceiling, saw you holding Skye in your arms, bleeding…"

Ward tensed at the mention of Skye, gritting his teeth, his lips pressing into a thin, fine line.

"Dying…knowing it was all your fault, that you could have stopped it, but you were all too late."

Inside the van, Skye and Fitz looked at one another, with matching faces of sadness. Any memory of that house was a bad one. Fitz squeezed Skye's shoulder comfortingly.

Coulson did not take any threats on his team lightly. He stepped towards the man, towering over him. "You’re going away. We’re gonna stick you in a little box where no one will ever hear you again."

Nash only continued to egg him on, almost as if he were enjoying this verbal game of cat and mouse, in his own sick and twisted way. " I see you’re angry. Head clouded with lies. You’ve been betrayed and now you fear what’s about to happen. A force beyond your comprehension is coming for you...you and your team. Those girls you almost lost, they're not out of the clear just yet. I've seen it."

Ward barred his teeth, almost letting a feral growl slip past his curled lips. The idea of anyone threatening Asia, much less Skye, made his blood boil. It was incredibly apparent how deeply he cared for the rookie agent.

"Skye has something we want," Nash continued, "And she's going to die giving it to us."

Coulson leaned in close to Nash and whispered, "Go to hell," before facing away from him, not wanting to look at the disgrace anymore.

Nash almost, almost smiled, "No matter where I go, or what you do to me, I will always – "

A gunshot rang out loud through the room, and Asia covered her ears instantly, wincing. Who the fuck had fired? At who? Opening her eyes, Asia saw the red blood oozing out of Nash's chest, and she instantly whirled towards the shooter---towards...Ward?

He stood, gun still aimed at the man, a calm, furious look on his face. He glanced over at Coulson, at May, at Asia, and lowered the gun, holstering it.

"What did you do?" Coulson said in a low, warning tone, a sign that further rage was to come. May stepped forward and grabbed Ward's gun in a quick motion, leaving him weaponless, but definitely not defenseless.

"He's dead," Garret said, shaking his head, looking at Ward with almost disappointment. "It's over."

But it wasn't, not really. It was just starting.

Chapter Text

"So that was crazy," Skye said from behind a wall of steam as Asia wrapped herself in a towel and stepped out of the shower. It was always good to shower off after a long day, after a mission. It help her let go over the tension that was ever present in her shoulders and upper back. She would have been surprised to hear Skye's voice if she hadn't been as loud as a bull in a china shop coming into the washroom.

"Was it?" Asia asked, toweling off her brown hair and pulling it back into a pony tail. "Do you mean the part where Ward shot someone because he was terrified of losing you? Because that was something for sure." She had never seen Ward so...defensive. Willing to put his feelings in front of his job. That wasn't the Ward she knew, not even close.

"I..." Skye began to protest, but then rolled her eyes. "Ok yea, that was pretty fucking crazy. What do you think it means?" She asked, sitting down on one of the locker room benches as Asia dropped her towel and pulled a fresh pair of athletic shorts and a loose fitting tank top on.

"Um, that he's head over heels for you? That he's willing to risk his job to keep you alive?" Asia said, as if it were the most obvious thing on the planet. "I love you both, but this whole waiting game is killing me, and I wish you would just get together already."

Skye gave her a flat look, raising one eyebrow, not saying a word.

"Ok, I bite, what the heck is that look for?" Asia sighed, opening up her locker and reaching for her phone, noticing a text from Leo. It seemed urgent. She opened it up, reading the message to meet him in the cockpit. She slipped her phone back into her pocket.

"Because that's a huge case of 'pot calling the kettle black if I've ever heard one," Skye said, keeping an eye on her friend, as Asia pretended to be ever interested in her blue gym locker, and folding up her white towels just so. "You and Fitz are crazy for each other. I'm tired of waiting around for you two to realize it."

Aisa closed her blue locker and leaned against it for a second, before turning back to look at Skye, who sat crosslegged on the bench, pleased look in her eyes. "Fine. Ok. You might be right. I mean, on my half a least," she admitted quietly. "But I'm not going to tell him, not until I know for sure."

"Want me to...you know...test the waters?" Skye suggested, fiddling with the hem of her plaid button up, wiggling her eyebrows and biting her lower lip.

"No! Absolutely not!" Asia fought back a giggle. "It'll happen if it's meant to. Now, I think you ought to go meet Mr Tall Dark and Handsome and talk about what he just did for you, while I go meet up with Leo. He texted me, it sounds pretty important."

Skye rolled her eyes, but didn't seem to object.
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As Asia was walking down the halls, she, quite literally, ran into the man she was looking for in the first place. "Leo! What's up? I got your text."

"Oh Asia, thank God," he said, grasping her arms and breathing heavily. "We have a serious problem."

"Serious problem?" Came Skye's voice, as she peaked her head out from her bedroom. "What's the sitch, Fitz? You look like you've seen a ghost."

"I..I didn't do anything wrong, I swear," Leo said, holding up his hands in defense. "I was just, erm, working, a moment ago, on some of the tech in the avionics bay." He muttered, stuffing his hands in the pockets of his skinny jeans. Skye exited her bedroom and closed the door to the white pod behind her.

"Ok," Asia prompted, coming to his side and rubbing her shoulder gently. "And then what?"

"Ok, erm, well. Why would May-" he began glancing behind them, then back at Skye and over to Asia. His eyes glistened as if he were about to cry. It made the pit of Asia's stomach feel hollow, even though he had seen her in much worse of states. "Why would May have an unauthorized encrypted hard line in the cockpit, complete with a thumb scanner? That isn’t in any of the plane’s specs." he said in one rushed sentence, he's cheeks reddening.

Asia's mouth dropped open and for a moment, she was at a loss for words. She looked to her friend Skye, whose mouth also made a perfect O.

The hacker then spoke, crossed her sleeved arms over her chest. "An encrypted hard line? That doesn't make sense." Asia nodded in agreement.

She rubbed her hand gently down Leo's back, feeling the small bumps of his spine beneath his soft, grey t-shirt. "Are you sure that's what you saw?" she asked him gently.

"I'm absolutely sure," Leo said, looking at her with his stormy eyes, with a look of complete sincerity. Asia nodded in understanding. "Dedicated to on receiver. She’s not supposed to have that. Who’s she talking to?" He asked, looking back and forth between the girls. It was almost as if the brilliant scientist were in a state of shock.

Skye thought for a moment, before her eyes widened in shock. "Cut the line," she ordered.

"What?" Asia asked, eyebrows raising in surprise.

"Do it. Fitz, do Not let her call out," she said, turning on her converse covered heel and running in the other direction.

"I.." Fitz started, turning to Asia, at a loss for words.

She grabbed his large, callused hand and squeezed it. "I'll come with you. We're in this together."

Chapter Text

If it weren't for the bright green and red flashing orbs coming off the various pieces of electronics, the avionics bay would have been pitch black. It was definitely a place Asia never expected to find herself, surrounded by humming electronics, waiting at any moment for someone to discover them. She felt slightly uncomfortable here, the only thing making her really feel safe being Leo. Yet, the hairs on the back of her neck were still rising, and she kept her eyes sweeping over the room, ready for the worst.

Leo, sensing her discomfort, placed his hand on her shoulder and gave it a light squeeze. "Just give me one quick moment, we'll be out of here in a jif." He gave her a comforting smile, noticing the way the lights softly danced on her face, almost like a fireworks show. She looked beautiful, even in the almost pitch-black. Then he placed his flashlight in his mouth and began to reach for the wires, looking for the proper one. There were at least 50 wires running through the box he was inspecting, alone. This didn't even account for the rest of the machinery in the room. Locating the correct one, he gave the thin, blue wire a quick yank, snapping it. "Ok, ok, got it. Let's get the hell out of here," he grabbed Asia's hand, much to her surprise, and dashed out of the room.

From behind them, they could hear footsteps. Leo looked at her, his eyes wide. When the reached a fork in the hallway, Asia shoved him towards the left. "Get to the Lab. I'll be right behind you!" She said, glancing behind them before dashing to the right and towards her room. She skidded around the corner and grabbed onto her doorhandle, throwing it open and grasping her wristlets off the shelf, slipping them onto either arm, feeling the satisfying pulse as she activated the pressure point, the knives sliding out. Whipping around, she sprinted off back down the hall, towards the Lab, hoping she wasn't too late.

When she reached the stairs, she heard the gunshot ring out. Without hesitation, reacting on pure instinct, she flipped herself over the railing, landing in front of the Lab doors, in a fighting stance, knives at the ready, facing Agent May herself, who still held a smoking pistol. Behind her, Leo stood, mouth wide open, looking at the cracked glass, the impression marked by the bullet directly where his forehead would have been, had the door not been there. Asia let out what sounded almost like a feral growl.

May did not lower the gun, but instead cracked her neck and smirked. "I don't think you want to do this," Asia warned, senses raring to go.

Suddenly, from either side, Coulson and Skye emerged, each brandishing a pistol. "Put it down, May!" Coulson ordered, the gun trained on her head, as much as he regretted it. He would pull the trigger if he had to. If she was HDYRA, he would do it.

"It's just an ICER, Coulson," May growled back, not lowering her gun from Asia's location. The brunette agent didn't move a muscle either. As far as she was concerned, she was the only thing standing between Leo and May.

"Well, this one's not," Coulson barked back, nodding at the gun. "It's very real, with very real bullets. Now I repeat, put the gun down and explain just what the fuck is going on here."

"I...." May trailed off, her gaze flickering to Coulson for a second. If Asia had wanted to use the moment to her advantage, she could have. But, what with Coulson and Skye both holding very real, very loaded weapons, she thought it was best not to. "I can't," May finished.

"Just listen to him, May," Skye said in a surprisingly authoritative voice, which caused the two female agents in the stand-off to glance over at her for a second in almost disbelief.

May glanced up at Coulson, her eyes almost pleading, before she lowered her gun to the floor. "I can explain everything to you but....it can't be here," she said, finally.

Coulson was about to speak when the plane lurched to the side, sending May toppling to the ground.

From behind her, Asia felt a hush of air against her bare neck, felt an arm wrap around her waist, and she was yanked into the Lab, the door shuttling tightly in front of her, locking with a click. Leo, breathing heavily, held his head to her back, listening to her heart through her thin tanktop.

"I thought she was going to shoot you," he whispered, gripping on to her tightly.

Asia swallowed hard, her lips trembling. "I thought she was going to shoot You."

Chapter Text

The plane was changing course.

Coulson and Skye had loaded guns pointed at May.

Asia was shaking, held tightly in Leo's arms, his head resting on top of hers. Her entire world felt upside down right now. She held tightly to the flesh of Leo's upper arm, listening to his heartbeat intently, ear pressed to his chest, as if she happened to stop listening, it might stop beating all together.

She looked up, removing her ear from his chest, long enough to hear May say that the hardline was...to of all people....Director Fury himself. Her eyes immediately widened, and she sat up, staring out the glass door which separated them all.

"Oh just spit it out!" Leo said, jumping up, slapping his hand against the glass, causing it to rattle.

May whipped around, glaring violently at the scientist. "I. Am. Under. Orders." she hissed, before turning back to Coulson. "Fury will explain, if you let me get a damn call out."

"Was this one of your bloody orders?" Leo shouted back, jamming a finger at the bullet mark in front of him, face turning red. Asia stood beside him, squeezing his shoulder gently, trying to relieve his anger that was quickly bottling up.

"Are we headed to Fury now?" Coulson asked May, keeping his gun leveled on her. He was still not altogether convinced that she hadn't rerouted the aircraft somehow.

"I don’t know where we’re headed. And I can’t get Fury on the line because Fitz cut the line!" May said, throwing her hands up in the air.

"It had to be done," Skye said to Coulson. "Someone was talking to the Clairvoyant. The real one."

"You were in the walls, Fitz. You want to explain why you were tampering with the plane’s sat cable?" May crossed her arms over her chest, shooting a look to Asia to see if she knew about this. The other agent's hand noticeably dropped from the scientist's shoulder.

"Oh don't try and turn this around on me!" Leo said, irritated, "You see what she's doing, don't you?" he said, gesticulating at May.

"Why were you in the there, Leo?" Asia asked, not even sure that she was ready for the answer. He couldn't be working against them...could he? Her mind was swimming with thoughts. It didn't make sense. None of it did.

A look crossed his face as if he were a kid caught with his hand in the cookie jar. He narrowed his eyes at May, practically shooting fire. "I was trying to speak to Simmons at The Hub," he admitted finally.

Asia crossed her arms over her chest, almost protectively. The whole thing seemed fishy. Something was not adding up, to say the least, and it was making her walls come up. The glass surrounding them was ever present.

"And you needed an encrypted line for that?" Coulson asked, bringing to word the thoughts all of them had in mind.

Leo scoffed, rolling his grey eyes. "You tell me. We know you two have been sharing secrets, being all whispery," he pointed back and forth between Skye and Coulson. "Keeping things from us, about the drug that saved your lives, and who bloody knows what else. Simmons is just trying to figure the whole damn thing out."

"Who is she talking to?" Asia asked, her tone coming out slightly harsher than she had anticipated, but she did feel slightly hurt that he and Jemma had been holding onto secrets of their own.

Coulson moved down the stairs, still keeping his gun trained on May. "Fitz, I'm going to need you to open that door now,"

"Hell no, I'm not opening anything till this whole business is sorted out." Leo protested, looking towards Asia to back him up.

Instead, she shook her head and looked away.

Chapter Text

"Fitz," Coulson said once more, "We can't do anything till you open that damn door. Skye, I need you to get on your laptop. Get wired in. See if you can get into SHIELD coms. I want to know where the hell we're heading, and why." His orders were sharp and precise, unquestionable. Yet still, Leo wavered, an action making Asia increasingly worried about her position, shut in this Lab with him. He couldn't be HYDRA, could he? No. No. It just wouldn't make any sense. She put her hands to her temples and pushed, applying temple, trying to make the overthinking go away.

Skye stepped towards the door, holding her arms out. "It's me guys. Seriously." There's was an annoyed twinge on her face, as if she wanted to be running the show and was frustrated with their noncompliance.

Reluctantly, Leo looked over his shoulder at Asia, then opened the door with a touch of his palm to a small pad. The glass slid open and Skye entered at a fast pace, making her way to the computers and firing one up. The light of the screen brightened the room significantly.

"Now tell me who Simmons is talking to," Coulson asked, looking coldly at Fitz, "Cause if it isn’t someone we trust she’s in serious danger." Leo swallowed hard, looking back and forth between his teammates. How had it come to this?

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Leo stood at one end of the Lab, staring across at May, who was staring back at him with her steely eyes. Neither blinked and neither moved, and neither fully trusted the other, not anymore. Meanwhile, Coulson and Asia studied Skye's screen as she tapped rapidly.

"It's all flooded with noise," Skye said once more with an aggravated sigh.

"What exactly do you mean by noise?" Coulson asked, studying the way she typed. While he knew basic hacking, as nearly all SHIELD agents did, he was nowhere on par with Skye. The level of computer knowledge she had was an incredible asset.

"I mean literally noise, across every S.H.I.E.L.D. communication channel," she said, pointedly striking a key that filled the room with white noise. "It's nothing. There's nothing, on any of the channels."

Asia's eyes widened. This didn't make any sense at all. Her immediate sense was to reach out to Nat and Clint. But she couldn't, she wasn't on their team, she wasn't reliant on them anymore. She had her own people to take care of now.

"Someone is using some sort of blanket signal to stop communications," Skye said, frustratingly typing more, attempting to break through. This was heavy level shit, whatever it was.

"Encoded data, maybe?" Leo suggested, still not taking his eyes off of May.

Coulson flicked an annoyed glance over at May. "Mind filling us in now?" May rolled her eyes and pressed her lips in a thin line. Coulson straitened to his full height. "We root you out, a mole, suddenly our plane shuts down, our communications jammed. You need to do some sort of explaining, now."

May looked over at Asia, then back at Coulson, gritting her teeth. "You ever stop to think I'm not the only one who could be a mole on this ship? I don’t know what’s happening. I wish I did. You have to believe me."

Asia narrowed her eyes. There's absolutely no way the other agent could know with certainty that she was sending messages on to Strike Team Delta. They were so few and far between, and so highly encrypted, and in code to boot. And even though it sounded like May was telling the truth, she was an amazing agent. It would be an easy facade, to fake such a lie.

"I don't have to do anything," Coulson replied. "And for the record, I don't. Believe you." He turned back to the screen.

As if on cue, a scratchy name hissed through the white noise playing out of Skye's computer. "Do you read? Do you read 6-1-6? Does anyone fucking read?"

"Where is that coming from?" Leo asked, tearing his eyes from May for the first time since they had all entered the room.

Skye was rapidly tapping away, already pinpointing the location. "Close, it's coming from close."

The second time the voice broke through, it was easily recognizable as Garrett. "Enemy aircraft, on my tail. Over."

Coulson picked up a receiver, calling his name back into the white noise.

"Coulson? Fuck is that you?" Garrett replied, almost sounding choked up, relieved. "I'm under attack. Drones. Five of them on my tail. I Repeat, S.H.I.E.L.D. drones are on my ass. We’re not getting along. Do you copy?"

"Copy," Coulson replied, motioning for Skye to get an image pulled up on the big screen. "Garrett what the hell is going on? We've lost control of our ship."

"Fuck if I know," Garrett replied, "But I hope you've got guns on that ship, cause I'm heading your way."

In one swift motion, Coulson pulled out his icer and fired a shot into May's shoulder. The older agent let out a groan, passing out and slumping to the floor. The three younger agents stared at him with wide eyes but dared not breath a word.

"Fitz, can you manually get control of the weapons? Bypass whatevers taken control and override it?"

Leo glanced at May, then back at Coulson. "If I've got cables long enough, yea."

"Good," Coulson nodded before turning to Skye. "I need you to get past this signal. I don't want anymore surprises today."

Skye mock saluted before turning back to her screen and typing away.

"Monroe," Coulson said finally, looking her dead in the eyes. "When Fitz gets those guns up, you know what to do."

"Blow them out of the sky." She replied with a quick nod.

Coulson nodded in return, at an understanding. "Right. Blow them out of the fucking sky."

Chapter Text

Asia sat herself safely in the co-pilot's seat, adjusting her shoulder harness and settling in against the sheepskin cover. This was one of the places she felt most at home, in the front of a plane, all the world her oyster. Yet, this sanctuary was made far less comfortable by the fact she had no control over this aircraft. Try as she might, the auto pilot would not be switched off. The plane was deadset on taking them to their destination.

She stared out the cockpit window, adjusting the coms piece in her ear. The night sky in front of them was laced with clouds so soft and fluffy, almost appearing to be painted a gentle lavender. It would have been calming. It should have been calming. But, it wasn't.

Suddenly, a warm hand touched her shoulder, squeezing softly. She turned, and it was Leo, standing, watching her. "I, erm, need to work on the controls," he said softly, sitting down in the captain's seat beside her, beginning to fiddle with some of the switches. A heavy silence hung in the air between them.

"I hope you don't actually think I'm working against the team," he said quietly, still fiddling intently with the switches. "You know me Asia, more than anyone here, well, except maybe Simmons. But that's only because she's known me for years. You have to know I wasn't trying to do anything bad."

Asia sat for a moment, watching the skies, searching for the small plane headed their way, before finally speaking. "I know. I know you wouldn't do something detrimental to this team. I just don't like all the secret keeping. If you trust me, you need to be open, or whatever," she finished her words in a small mumble.

Leo couldn't quite bring himself to look at her. He could hear the sorrow and hurt in her voice, and knew it would be displayed in her big eyes, even if it weren't played across on her face. "I know, I'm sorry," he replied finally. "Simmons made me promise, and you know how she is about promises." He flicked one last switch before pressing the button on his ear to active his coms. "We've regained weapons control, Sir," he said, before sliding out of the seat and moving to leave.

Asia grabbed his hand quickly before he exited the door and spoke, turning to look at him. "Just don't make a habit of it, ok?" She pressed her lips into a tiny smile, a sign of her forgiveness.

Leo nodded, a grin slipping over his lips as well. "I won't, you can count on that, Asia." he said with a quick nod, before turning and disappearing from which he had came.

"Garrett, what's your ETA?" Coulson's voice could be heard over coms, and Asia straightened in her chair, hands finding their positions atop the weapon controls.

"Should be at your 9 in 30 seconds," she heard Garrett's rough voice cough back over the communication device. Asia turned her head just slightly so she could see to her left side using her peripheral vision.

"Agent Monroe, do you copy?" Coulson asked for her next, wanting to make sure every agent was in place and ready for what came next.

"Yes, sir, I copy," Asia replied quickly, hoping that the drones wouldn't be prepared for the onslaught she was about to bring. Hoping that if they were, all her teammates were safely strapped in.

"As soon as you see Garrett, open fire," were his quick orders.

Asia took a deep breath and waited. She adjusted the aim of the guns one last time, then placed her hands on the yokes again. She counted slowly in her head, pacing her breathing, waiting, preparing.

Like a bullet, Garrett's jet shot past., followed by three more black shapes. Asia flipped off the lids covering the trigger buttons and methodically, almost as if she were made to do it, made the sky rain fire.

Chapter Text

Asia slid her headset off, unbuckled her harness, and slid out of the seat, moving her way down the halls back towards where Coulson and the team would be waiting. She had done as she was ordered, let some part of her felt wrong, shooting SHIELD drones out of the sky. And where were Natasha and Clint? Neither of them had reached out to her. Something about this was wrong, very, very wrong, and it was making the thin hairs on the back of her neck stand on point.

The agent arrived in the Lab the same time Garrett came down the stairs from his aircraft. "Someone mind telling me just what the fuck is going on?" He cursed, looking from Asia to Coulson.

Asia shrugged, "Saving your ass, for one thing, but other than that," she turned to Coulson, looking for his answers about as much as Garrett was.

"We have no clue," Coulson admitted. "Someone's jammed the systems. Our plane is rerouted. We have no controls. God only knows where we're headed," he glanced back towards Skye, who was still rapidly typing away, searching for clues.

Garrett chuckled, "Well, I got you beat there, you're headed for the Hub. That has to be where you're routed. And for damn sure that's where those fucking drones came from. I'd like to know who was trying to blow me out of the damn sky."

Coulson rubbed a hand over his forehead, lost in thought for a moment, before it all seemed to click. It was like physically watching a lightbulb turn on. "Victoria Hand," he whispered, eyes widening.

Asia scoffed. There was no way. But then again, she remembered what Hand had done to the boys. How she had sent them out there alone. Maybe it was a part of some big plan all along. Her mouth slowly dropped open, forming a 'o', her eyes widening.

"Hand?" Leo asked, looking up from his desk. "No way. There's no way."

"No way?" Garrett asked, looking between the agents, brow furrowed. "No way she's what?"

Skye stood back from her computer, turning to face them and crossing her arms. "The Clairvoyant."

Garrett began to laugh, before muttering. "What a fucking day." He looked back between all of them. "Did we not just watch Ward blow a hole in the Clairvoyant's skull?"

"I believe that he was a decoy. It was a good trick, but that's all it was." Coulson replied. "Someone wanted us to stop looking, because the Clairvoyant is working inside SHIELD. Using her high-level clearance makes her seem like she's got psychic abilities, like she's always one step ahead."

Garrett scoffed again, hands on his hips. "You honest to God think Hand is behind this shit? I've been stationed with her. She's a buzzkill for sure but she's no mastermind."

As the men were talking, Skye returned to her laptop, damn determined to get the screen to clear, make the blocks go away. She began typing rapidly, biting her lower lip as she did so. Suddenly, she began to slap at Asia's arm, still typing away with one hand.

Asia turned, about to ask what the hell she wanted, when her eyes widened. OUT OF THE SHADOWS AND INTO THE LIGHT began to run across the screen. "Um, guys?" She said quietly, but the three men didn't take notice. More loudly, she repeated herself. "Guys, you need to see this."

They turned in time just to see the large letters flash across the screen: WE ARE HYDRA.

Chapter Text

When the words rolled across the screen, Asia felt as if she might puke. Like the entire contents of her stomach, and maybe even her stomach too, might hurl itself out of her and dance upon the floor. She raised a hand to her lips to keep them pressed tightly together. And as if he had a second sense, Leo was suddenly beside her, slipping his hand into her open one, and squeezing softly, staring at the screen with a matched look of horror.

Now it all made sense, the rerouting of the plane, the lack of control, the guns. The blocked out communications. Asia's mind was racing, flying from Jemma and Trip stuck at the Hub somewhere, no way to get a message to them, to Nat and Clint, who were only God knows where. But there was no way HYDRA could take out her mentors, right? They were far too deadly. The were Avengers, damnit. But the anxious thought wouldn't stop themselves.

"Ok," Leo said, "I thought HYDRA was irradiated. Wasn't that the entire bloody point of SHIELD back in World War Two?"

Coulson sighed. "You're not wrong. SHIELD was founded in the wake of the victory over their evil regime. But, it appears they're back."

"Fucking HYDRA," Garrett muttered, "They always seem to come back."

"Cut off the head," Asia whispered, eyes squeezing tightly together for a second, trailing off.

Coulson finished her thought for her, "And two more will take its place." He nodded grimly, lips pressed into a thin line. He looked utterly exhausted in that moment.

"So if this was sent from a SHIELD source, that must prove Hand is one of them, right?" Skye pointed out, leaning back in her chair and crossing her arms over her grey t shirt.

"We are so fucked," Asia muttered, shaking her head.

"We might not have control, and we might not know whats waiting for us, but we do have one thing: a little time." Coulson pointed out. "We can prepare. We can be ready when we land, for God knows what. Maybe we can turn things, somehow."

"Simmons and Trip, they're at the Hub," Leo said, frowning, his brow forming that slight crease it always did when he was worrying. "We can't just abandon them. We have to save them." Asia squeezed his hand softly, acutely aware over their fingers still firmly laced together.

"We're going to need your other specialists for this one, Coulson," Garrett said, reminding them all that Ward and May were still locked up in a holding cell, waiting their time out. "It's going to be a shitshow when we get there. Might as well call in the Calvary."

Coulson sighed, "You're lucky I won't tell her you called her that."

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Asia slipped her wristlets on, one at a time, beginning to lace the small ties at their corners to secure them snugly. It had been a bit since she had used them on living people, and she had always thought it'd be a cold day in Hell before she turned them on anyone she knew, but here they were, preparing to fight former SHIELD agents. HYDRA agents, really, because she couldn't consider them even close to real SHIELD agents.

"Here, let me help with that," Leo said after he shrugged on his bulletproof vest. He grasped one of her hands in his, and gently tied the laces into a secure knot, before performing the same with the other. "There you go, all safe and ready."

Asia smiled softly, patting him lightly on the chest of his vest. "You, too," she replied, pulling on her combat jacket over the wristlets to conceal them. She then slid a knife into one of her boots and two pistols into the holsters on either side of her hips.

"As good as you look, I hate seeing all dressed for battle like this," Leo admittedly suddenly.

Asia felt her cheeks burn red, but she quickly hid the reaction by bending down to relace her left boot. "Well, this is as much my work uniform as a lab coat is for you," she said, trying to make the situation seem more normal. But, really, nothing about this is normal. "Plus, to get two of our own back, I'd do this any day," she looked back up at him, smiling. She knew he was still worried about Jemma. Part of her felt jealous over it, but she knew this wasn't the time nor place for that sort of reaction.

"I don't doubt that," Leo replied, sighing. "I'd be bloody terrified if I knew Strike Team Delta's trainey was about to unleash an onslaught on me," he actually managed to chuckle, masking his worry for a moment.

Suddenly, they felt the direction of the plane shift as it pulled into landing mode, hovering itself to the ground. The impact with the earth was slightly jarring, causing Leo and Asia to collide into one another, then smash into the opposite side wall. With the commotion, they wound up arms and legs tangled, faces only a hairs length apart. Asia couldn't help but drop her eyes to his lips for a split second.

"Leo, I," she began to say, wanting to tell him everything, wanting to finally get this weight of her feelings off her shoulders, even if it wasn't returned. After all, they had no idea what they were heading into.

"Shh," Leo said, placing a finger over her lips, then shifting his hand to run his thumb gently over her lower lip, causing her to shiver.

Before either could speak another word, move another muscle, gunfire rang out, piercing the hull of the Bus. They hit the deck, crawling back towards the Lab. This was it. The assault was about to begin.

Chapter Text

It wasn't difficult for them to sneak off of the Bus, what with Leo's not-entirely-legally sanctioned device which could cut through nearly all matierals. After dropping out of the floor of the bus through a small vent, a hole was cut in the floor leading into one of the lower tunnels of the Hub. The lights were on dimly, but it was enough to see their way through. Then, the team was split up, Ward and Skye going off on their own to blow up the computer and security systems.

"Remember," Coulson said to Leo, Asia, and Garrett, "These guys are under orders. Icers only. We don't want to go around killing everyone we see." May, who was still handcuffed, grunted.

"Phil," she said, holding up her cuffed wrists. "I can help you. But you need to--"

Coulson cut her off. "No, you're staying cuffed until we figure this whole mess out."

The surveillance room was their final destination, until they were able to get eyes on Jemma and Trip. The plan was carefully set out. Garrett, Asia, and Leo would pretend to be guards. They were hoping they could easily confuse the agents inside the surveillance room that they were soldiers for a brief moment until they were able to take over.

They waited in the elevator, heads down, hiding their notable faces, then buzzed the button to enter the closed doors. As the locks buzzed to open up, they shoved the two false prisoners through and into the room.

An eager gaurd scrambled over towards them. "Do you need anything? Medical assistance?" The guard asked concerned.

Garrett looked up flashing a grin, "Nothing but your sidearm, son." Garrett quickly took out the guard, while Asia grabbed one around the neck, quickly causing him to pass out, and Leo and Coulson Iced the other two.

"Fitz, find them on the cameras," Coulson ordered. The Scottsman hurried to a computer, muttering to himself as he quickly typed. Asia stood near him, setting her Icer down on the desk and looking at the other camera screens, her stomach still filled with dread. This whole thing still felt off.

With her eyes crawling over the screens, she spotted that familiar tackily dyed hair that she detested. "There's Hand. East wing, moving fast."

"I've said it before, I'll say it again, let's take the bitch out. That'll be the easiest and quickest way to get your agent back," Garrett suggested, scowling down at the screen.

"Thats an option, if it gets Simmons back," Leo pipped up, still scrolling through cameras, barely even recognizing he may have just condoned the murder of a possibly fellow SHIELD agent.

That was right around the moment when Garrett and Coulson began to argue. Asia looked over to May, who stood beside her.

"What are you looking at?" The older agent muttered, eyes narrowing. While she didn't know for a certainty, she was pretty damn sure Agent Monroe was also reporting to someone outside their team, namely, a red haired assassin and her bird boy duo.

"I don't think you need to be in those, is all," Asia said, nodding her head towards the hand cuffs. "You don't do us any good if you aren't able to fight."

"You and I agree on that," May said flatly, looking down at her hands, then up at Monroe, raising one eyebrow, silently asking her question.

Taking a deep breath and glancing back at Coulson and Garrett, who were far too busy arguing to notice her, she grabbed May's cuffs, quickly undoing the restraints. "Don't say I never did anything for you," she whispered as she did so.

Suddenly, the heaviness of silence hit her ears. She turned back towards Coulson, absolutely certain she got caught, expecting his eyes to be narrowed upon her. But instead, he was staring so intently at Garrett, who had turned to look at the monitors, that she thought he might burn a hole through his skull.

"I never told anyone that," Coulson said, eerily quiet, causing Garrett to look back up at him quizzically. "I never told anyone that Raina had been forced into the machine either. Not a soul."

"I probably read it in a report," Garrett shook off Coulson's pressing statements.

Asia looked at May, then at Leo, who she now realized was far too close to Garrett for her comfort. Something was wrong. How did Garrett know? Asia didn't even know. None of her teammates did either, by the looks of things.

"You weren't there with us, you showed up right after...there's no way," Coulson muttered, piecing together a picture in his mind, everything beginning to fall right into place. "After Skye and Agent Monroe were captured, that bastard Quinn said it was so I could lead the Clairvoyant to the cure, the same cure that saved my life, and I did...." His eyes widened, realization hitting him like a slap to the face. Asia moved closer to Leo, her fists starting to clench into fists. "I walked you right up into that facility with me."

Garrett laughed, a large, belly aching laugh, trying to wave off Coulson's accusations, but the fellow agent simply stared him down. Garrett sighed, shaking his head. "Damnit," he muttered to himself, then grinned.

Suddenly, a team full of agents, all dressed in black, guns raised and at the ready, burst through the doors, sights lined up on the five SHIELD agents in the surveillance room. "Hands up, hands up!" They shouted, "Weapons down!" Immediately, all five pairs of hands shot into the air, like kids caught with their hands in the cookie jar.

"You need to take Agent Garrett into custody, immediately!" Coulson began to order. "We are not the enemy, but he is. He has been the real Clairvoyant, all along. He is an enemy of SHIELD, a traitor."

Garrett grinned and began to speak himself. "Now, I know damn well Agent Sitwell was in charge of filling your ranks." The name brought back memories for Asia, of Jemma being ridiculously bad at lying, at shooting a fellow agent with an ICER while they broke into secure files. What the hell was that man mixed up in? She didn't get a chance to think long on it, for Garrett kept speaking. "A few of you should know what to do in this situation."

None of the soldiers moved, and Asia furrowed her brow, glancing at her teammates, trying to analyze their options for escape. They were all slim.

"Any time now boys," Garrett urged, and gunfire rang out. Three of the soldiers fell to the floor, bleeding, probably dead and if not, damn well close. Asia stared at Garrett, wide eyed, mouth drop open, and the agent grinned and said loudly, proudly, "Hail fucking Hydra."

Chapter Text

Asia froze, for the second time ever in her life. She couldn't move. She couldn't quite force herself to believe what she was witnessing. Her eyes were locked on the man in front of her. The man they had trusted. The man they had worked with. The man her friend Trip worked for now. This absolutely could not be happening.

But it was. It was incredibly real. The blood seeping out onto the floor was real, the grin on Garrett's face was real, and the guns pointed directly at them were incredibly real. And the pain she was feeling from clenching her hands so tightly into fists was real as well.

She heard Coulson say something threatening to Garrett involving Fury and an unending wrath, but she felt as if she were miles away and listening through a pool of water. It all came out muffled.

"Oh Coulson," Garrett laughed, shaking his head. "It's going to break your heart, but you've been serving HYDRA all along. We've seeded ourselves so far into your silly little organization that there's more of us left than there are of you." He then let out a low whistle, putting his hands on his hips. "I'm sure now you would follow Fury to his grave so, there's no bother asking you...." He stepped up to May, eyeing her. "And I'm sure you'll follow right on Coulson's heels, just like you always do, like a good little pet."

May refrained from giving the pleasure of giving him a reaction, but only just barely so. She kept her hands behind her back, so no one would notice her undone cuffs.

He then stepped over towards Leo and Asia tensed up. Garrett noticed, flicking her a glance. "Puppy love, ain't it beautiful," he said in a mocking tone. "Now you, Agent Fitz, could be quite useful to us, if you're willing to rank up. And a very high rank, at that. You'll run the entire tech division, and I'm sure you'll keep Agent Monroe here safe, by your side." Garrett cracked his neck, looking at the screen and then back at Fitz. "And you heard me right there, son. You voluntarily join us, you keep your sweet little friend here," he placed a hand on Asia's shoulder, causing her to inhale sharply. She couldn't stop her body from shaking, and it showed. "Alive. And if you don't volunteer, well, you'll still be needed, you'll just be in much, much more pain." He took his hand off Asia's shoulder and turned around, walking back towards his soldiers.

Leo pressed his lips together, then spoke up. "You're going to pay, Agent Garrett, for what you've done." He stood up from his chair and stepped beside Asia, standing slightly in front of her, protectively. "And I plan on being a damn large part of that payback."

Garrett turned back around and gave a short laugh, smiling like a wolf. "Oh son, I like you. Almost enough not to hurt you for saying that. Almost." He turned back towards his soldiers. "Alright boys, let them have it. Kill those three, only get Fitzy over there in the knees, if you will. I want him to watch them bleed."

Asia squeezed her eyes shut and grabbed for Leo's hand, squeezing it, glad to feel his palms were as sweaty as hers. She looked at him, then at May, and Coulson, fully prepared for this to be the last time she saw them, when an explosion rocked beneath their feet, sending them to the floor. The electricity blinked out and for a moment, the room went black. And that one moment was all it took.

Asia somersaulted forward, clenching her hands just so, causing the knives in her wristlets to protrude. She went straight for two of the soldiers, fighting them hand to hand. It wasn't difficult to take them down, slashing each in the stomach, bringing their blood back with her. She turned to see another soldier moving towards Leo, who had pressed himself beneath a desk. Dashing forward, she leaped up, catching her legs around the soldiers neck, knocking him into the railing behind the desk. She flipped back, then whirled, throwing a kick out and knocking the soldier to the floor below.

From behind her, a soldier grabbed her neck, lifting her up. She clambered her hands at his fingers, trying to move her face enough to bite him, but it was no use. She was quickly becomming short of breath when she heard Leo shout her name. She glanced his way, to see a pistol flying towards her. She reached out her hand, grabbing the gun, and quickly ramming the muzzle into the soldier leg and firing twice. The man let out a yell and dropped her, clutching at his bleeding thigh. She looked at Leo, breathing heavily.

"Get down!" he ordered at her, tossing a cylinder towards Coulson. A mini concussive blast, like the kind they have used in South America. Asia dropped to the floor, covering her head, as Coulson detnated it, dropping the other enemies to the ground, Garrett included.

The quartet of SHIELD agents stood up, dusting themselves off. "Okay," Coulson said. "We're all okay, yes?" Each member nodded in affirmation, when the doors flew open.

"Hands up, weapons down!" Agent Hand ordered, as once again, the room filled with soldiers.

Chapter Text

Asia threw her hands into the air as ordered, looking eyes with Hand and refusing to blink till the woman looked away. God she hated her, and she could never quite put her finger on why. Perhaps she wasn't HYDRA after all, but that didn't cause the agent to have any less dislike towards her.

Suddenly, Jemma pushed her way through the soldiers, determined, and moved quickly forward, throwing her arms around Leo, then Asia, then, more hesitantly, May and Agent Coulson. "I thought you were dead, I am so, so happy to find otherwise," she said quickly, her lips trembling as she did so. Asia saw the relief in Leo's eyes and for a minute, that jealousy monster bit at her again, but she shoved the thoughts away. There was no time for that, not now, not ever.

"I don't know what you're thinking," Coulson began to speak towards Hand, "But I am not HYDRA. Never have been, never, ever will be." His words were so earnest, so heartfelt, it would be practically impossible to disbelieve him. "The piece of trash who infiltrated our ranks is laying at your feet," he nodded towards Garrett, who still lay, passed out.

Hand nodded solumly, looking down at her feet. "I know, we heard it all through devices planted in the piping, they're in every room. Agent Coulson, I offer you my deepest apologies. I am embarrassed to admit I ever thought it could be you."

"Apology accepted, if you'll have your men low their weapons," Coulson replied, trying to smile. It was hard to do so, after what they had all just witnessed. Hand motioned for the men to lower their guns, and the remaining agents lowered their hands to their sides. "They got the best of us, this time," Coulson admitted sadly. "How bad is it? How deep does it go? Have we...have we found them all?"

"We found them all," Hand replied with a nod, "But....it's far deeper than we expected. We've lost many more than ever expected. And now, the process of getting them out must begin. Starting," she looked at the ground and poked Garrett with her heel, "With him." She signaled a soldier behind her to collect Garrett's body, and handcuff him as they did so. Hand nodded at Coulson, indicating his group should follow her out of the room.

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In an area referred to as the Nerve Center, where the safe SHIELD agents were holed up, Asia's eyes were racing through the names of the confirmed deceased, her face flushed. She needed to see if Nat or Clint's names fell on that list. She scrolled through once and didn't see them, but then went back to the top to make sure, refreshing to let the new names line onto the page in neat little rows.

A strong hand clapped her on the shoulder. "They're not on there, Agent Monroe," Coulson said from behind her. She looked back at him, her lips pressed in a thin line. He could see the tears forming in her soft, brown eyes. Sometimes he forgot what it was to be like at that age, even after all that training, tender and innocent. Easily influenced. And they had all just been through so much. He pulled his agent into a fatherly hug. "Your old teammates are safe, even if Natasha caused some trouble by leaking lots...and lots, of files. But we'll sort that out later. What's important is that they are alive."

Asia nogged, sighing, releasing air which she did not know she was holding in. "Thank you," she said quietly.

"No problem, Monroe. That's precisely what I'm here for," Coulson released her from the hug. "Now lets go. Our team is going to need us, and then we're going to need to get the hell out of here." Asia nodded, and both SHIELD agents moved back towards the halls.

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Agent Monroe watched in silence as the cuffed HYDRA members were lead out of the Hub. It was difficult to watch, people she had known, people she had fought with, trained with, hung out with on occasion....and she had had no idea of their true alliances. But they had been stopped now, and there was no changing the past, at any rate. The worst part of the whole ordeal was watching Trip. He almost lost it when he saw Garrett being marched by, his face scrunching up and growing red. "I trusted you!" He shouted, pointing an accusatory finger at the man, trying his best not to cry. Jemma had a hand comfortingly placed on his upper arm, almost holding him back.

Ward looked from Garrett, to Trip, to Asia, and finally to Coulson, a look of pure confusion on his face. Coulson placed a hand on his shoulder and turned him away, leading him slightly down the hall, breaking the news of his mentor's betrayal. Asia could hear his repeated "No's" of disbelief, and the sound that could only distinctly be described as a fist making contact with concrete.

It all made Asia's heart ache in an unmendable way.

Hand spoke from behind them when Coulson returned. "Captain America has taken care of the helicarriers at Triskelion, but..." her voice faltered and she looked away, finding her words. "Even his status is unknown, like that of many others."

That hit Asia like a brick wall. Just because her mentors hadn't been on the confirmed deaths list didn't mean....it didn't mean that they weren't. Perhaps, simply, SHIELD didn't have confirmation on their locations. Everything Coulson had told her before in the Nerve Center seemed flawed now, here, in this hallway filled with sadness and betrayal.

"Couslon," Hand said, looking towards him then nodding towards the Nerve Center, "May I speak with you alone?"

Coulson nodded before turning towards his team. "Go prepare the Bus." Then he turned, following the woman they had, moments ago, believed to be the head of HYDRA herself.

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Asia stood in the Lab of the Bus, staring at the bullet holes which riddled the once pristine glass. It was shattered, just like the image of SHIELD, almost fittingly so. It was going to take hours to fix, and that's if they were lucky.

"I just can't believe it," Skye muttered, kicking the desk in front of her lightly, looking up at Asia, Jemma, and Leo for answers. They had none. It was hard to imagine how they would rebuild from here, if at all. Asia felt hollowed out.

From above, came footsteps, and Coulson appeared, moving down the staircase. "Skye, I need you to get working on our tech. We need to fix as much of the firmware as possible, get the GPS working, and whatever else you think you can tap into. FitzSimmons, gather a crew of whatever scientists you need. We need to get the avionics bay back to fully functional, and get this ramp fixed so we can load up and go, asap. Asia, help whoever needs it, wherever they need it. Ward will be rendezvousing with us later, at a safer position."

"Wait what? Where's he going?" Skye objected, before her face turned a bright red and she looked down at her feet.

"He's going to escort Garrett to the shithole he belongs in," Coulson said flatly. "Now, you had your orders, get to work."

"Excuse me, sir?" A familiar voice bounced off the walls and Trip jogged up the ramp of the Bus, before Coulson disappeared back where he came from. "I wanted to talk to you. I was wondering...hoping really, that if I help with the repairs, you'll have a spare bunk on board for me? Since you're down a specialist and all." He flashed that nature, Agent Trip smile, but there was something lacking in it. Unsurprisingly so, he had been through hell.

Coulson scoffed. "Sorry Agent Triplett, but I just don't see that working out. Feel free to take one of Agent Hand's vehicles, but not on my ship." He turned to leave, when Jemma spoke up, stepping forwards, moving till she was right beside Trip, giving him a reassuring smile.

"Pardon me, Sir, but I think you're making a mistake. Agent Triplett would be an asset to our ship, really," Jemma said, rather boldly, just the tiniest bit of pink showing in the corners of her cheeks.

"I'll take not of the, Simmons, but this isn't a democracy," Coulson replied flatly.

Asia rolled her eyes and stepped forward, standing with the other two agents and crossing her arms. "Isn't it, though?" She questioned brazenly, raising an eyebrow at Agent Coulson.

"I agree with Agent Monroe," Jemma nodded eagerly, something Asia never expected to hear her say. "I witnessed Trip...Agent Triplett willing to die not only for me, but for SHIELD. He's most of the reason I stayed alive through this. We owe him, and I think he is valuable."

Agent Coulson looked between the three agents, before his eyes landed on Jemma once more. "I'll allow it, for now. But he's under your watch, Agent Simmons." Asia noted the redheaded agent couldn't help but smile at this, a secret smile, that lit up the corners of her eyes. "Well, now, like I said. We've got work to do. The American government is coming for us, and we need to be fully operation and well away from this place before they even get close."

The agents all scrambled to work, knowing an invisible clock was ticking.

Chapter Text

Shortly later, the Bus was airborne. Asia sat in the living space, staring at the shattered glass. It was hard to comprehend all which had just happened.

Back in their Academy days, Asia and Ward had often debriefed from hard missions. Their tradition was picking out a beer for the other to drink and shit talking. At first, it had been about trying to get the other to try something new, something they might like, but eventually, it turned to just picking out the shitiest drink they could find and laughing while the other grimaced and drank.

But he wasn't here now. He was helping Hand escort Garrett to the Fridge, where he belonged, locked in a jail cell. She was glad the act would give him some closure, but, a part of her felt empty without someone to help her get through it all.

Suddenly, a small knocking came from the wall behind her. She turned, looking up to see Leo standing there, grey sweater fitting him ever-so-perfectly as usual. "Hey, hope I'm not interrupting anything," he said with a small smile. "Mind if I sit?"

"Sure," Asia said, smiling back. She scooted over on the couch, making space for him. He sat down close to her, not quite so close that they were touching, but close enough.

"So," he said turning to her, "You've noticed Simmons and Agent Triplett, right? Its not just me seeing things?"

"By noticed, do you mean the flirting?" She asked. He nodded back in response. "Yea I've noticed it. I know Trip, he's definitely interested in her. And it seems she is too....does that..bother you?" She asked, biting her lower lip and looking back towards the cracked glass.

"I mean..." Leo began, before trailing off. "Well, yea, it sort of does. But not in the way youre thinking. Its not like I like her or anything. She's just one of my closest friends, you know? I want to make sure he's good enough for her."

Asia rolled her eyes, but was secretly relieved. "Trust me Leo, Trip is nothing but a gentleman," she assured him, patting his arm. Looking over at him, studying his eyes, he still looked quite shaken, quite like she was feeling. "Hey, you holding up ok?" She asked, clear concern in her voice.

"Yea, I'm okay. Its just...a lot, you know?" He said back, shrugging. "All of it. I can't believe it. We worked with him, he helped us."

"Its terrible, I know," Asia said, sighing, letting the tension out of her shoulders. "But we'll get through this, you know that right?"

He turned to look at her, studying her face, her large eyes, the way she had just the tiniest dusting of freckles across her cheeks. "You know, it almost seems believable when you say it," he joked, but smiled at her nonetheless.

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Asia held onto the base of a ladder, stabilizing it as Trip climbed down, holding a blowtorch in his hands. From behind them, Coulson cleared his throat, announcing his presence.

"Bad news," Trip said with a sigh, setting the torch down on a nearby toolkit. "Fuel line...its leaking pretty good in there," he thumbed towards the ceiling.

Coulson sighed, "Of course we are. Can we fix it?"

"Yea sure," Trip said, slinging his arm over Asia's shoulders, "Tic Tac and I can take care of it, just not till we land."

"Perfect," Coulson replied, spinning around and leaving the room, presumably to check on the status of the other jobs being worked on.

"So," Asia said, turning to Trip, deciding to take this moment of alone time to question him. "You and Jemma...am I seeing what I think I'm seeing?"

"Come'on girl, one minute alone and you're already prying for my secrets," Trip said laughing, folding up the ladder.

"Well, I wouldn't exactly call it prying when youre flirting out in the open for the entire world to see," Asia quipped back.

"Oh you mean like you and Agent Fitz?" Trip fired back, causing her cheeks to flash red for a moment, before she burst out laughing.

"Oh Trip, I've missed you," she teased.

"You too, Tic Tac," he grinned. "And Jemma is nice, shes sweet and she is really funny, when she starts talking. Maybe theres something there, maybe there isn't." He shrugged. "I'm not going to push it too hard."

"I think its safe to say theres something there," Asia smiled. "She cant lie to save her life and reads like a bad book."

Trip sighed, "i hope youre right, Tic Tac," he said, ruffling her hair and walking off towards the Lab.

Chapter Text

When Skye came to find her, she was sitting in a swivel chair, reading a copy of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. It was probably her 5th time through the series, but she never seemed to tire of the books.

"Hey," Skye said, hands tucked in the pockets of her jeans. "Coulson has a request....he's having me scrub identities. And...I need your badge." She looked uncomfortable as she requested this.

"My badge?" Asia asked, placing her bookmark and setting her book down, before standing up and staring Skye in the eyes. "He's really taking our badges?"

She thought back to what her badge symbolized. The missions she had gone on. The time she dropped it in the snow and Clint spent hours searching for it for her. The day she was given it at the academy. Her graduation. The countless times she had pulled it out to show her authority. All her memories, gone. Any chance of her long lost sister, America, Mer, gone.

It made her heart clench inside her chest. But instead of saying anytbing, instead of crying, or putting up a fight, she grabbed her badge out of her pocket and set it on the desk in front of her.

"I'm really sorry, Asia. I get it, its hard...we're losing ourselves." Skye apologized, frowning, looking on the brink of tears herself.

"I just hope he knows what he's doing," Asia said as she turned and walked away. Her favourite punching bag was calling her name.

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Asia had her headphones jammed in, jabbing at the bag hanging in the storage area, when she felt a timid tap on her shoulder. She stopped, pulling her headphones out and turned around. It was Simmons. "Can I help you Jemma?" She said, coming off more hostile than intended.

"Coulson wants us to meet him in command center....apparently theres been an update in plans," Jemma said, lips pressed together.

"Okay, lets go then," she said, slinging her workout bag over her shoulder and looping her arm through Jemma's. She really did need to try and make better friends with her, and she felt bad about it sometimes.

Jemma looked at her strangely, but followed along anyways, not sure of what other option she really had.

When they reached the Command Center, Skye was already there, typing away at the holotable. Trip and Leo were talking in hushed tones, and May stood in a corner, not speaking.

When Coulson entered the room moments later, everyone straightened to attention. "So!" Simmons said, clapping her hands together, "Director Fury is alive?"

"It seems that way, yes," Coulson replied with a nod.

At this comment, May stepped forward and out of the shadows, staring intently at Coulson. If Fury was alive, that would change everything.

A look of hope crossed Leo's soft face. "He's still out there? What did he tell you?" He asked, trying to hold back looks of enthusiasm.

"Nothing specific," Coulson said grimly, "But he sent us coordinates. I believe its a message."

Skye typed rapidly at the holotable, pulling up an image of a cold tundra, covered in snow and dotted with towering pine trees.

"The coordinates lead us to the Canadian wilderness, near the Rockies," Skye said, putting a beacon over the exact drop point.

"Am I supposed to see something here?" Asia asked, studying the bleak white for some hidden symbol, but there was none.

"I believe its a beacon, a way point, if you will. Possibly a place for SHIELD agents to meet and find safety," Coulson explained calmly. "I know Agent Fury, and this is something he would do."

"Sir..." Jemma propositioned cautiously. "Have you used this method of communication with the Director previously? How do you know for sure its even him?"

"It could Definitely be a trap," Trip agreed with a quick nod. "Wouldn't be surprised, what with everything we've seen recently."

No one spoke at this, all thinking solemnly how this could easily be true.

Coulson sighed and took out his badge, showing it to all of his teammates so they could see the numbers flashing. "Nick Fury gave me this badge himself. And when he did, I took an oath, the same as you. We all swore to be humanities last line of defense. We swore to be the shield." He sighed and put his badge on the desk, frustrated. "I know these numbers mean something, and I intend to find out. If you dont agree with me, parachutes are in the bay and you can help yourself whenever you please, but at that point, your on your own."

With that, Coulson headed back for his office, and for a moment, no one moved.

"Well," Asia said finally, "Guess we're going to Canada.,

Chapter Text

"It just doesn't seem like the best idea right now," Trip said, stacking a box of supplies against the wall, speaking over his shoulder towards Leo, Jemma, and Asia.

"Well, I for one trust Coulson," Leo said, crossing his arms over his chest. "You heard him, shutes are in the bay if you don't trust him." He was proudly defendant of their little band's leader,and was unafraid to show it.

"I'm not saying I don't trust him!" Trip protested.

"Oh for Christ's sake," Jemma said, throwing her arms up in the air, "I'm sick of the fighting. You two need to learn to get along or I'm going to lose my head," she sat down in a swivel chair, spinning away from them so she faced Asia, raising one thin eyebrow at the other agent. Asia simply shrugged.

"I'm just trying to say we should be careful," Trip tried again, this time speaking in a calmer tone. "After everything we just went through, I don't want to lose any more teammates. And this seems an awful lot like something that could be another one of HYDRAs traps."

"I mean..." Asia said, biting her lower lip, "Trip isn't wrong. I'm not saying I don't trust Coulson's judgement, but, it does seem very coincidental that the moment we escape we suddenly receive these coordinates. Sounds an awful lot like a white whale chase to me...or it at least has the potential."

"Have you even read Moby Dick?" Leo asked, frazzled. How could it be that suddenly, their entire team was at odds?

"First of all, excuse you, yes, I enjoy Melville even if he is Clearly a guy with compensation issues," Asia said, holding up a finger to stop Leo from speaking. "I'm just suggesting we proceed with caution, is all. There's no reason to get all snippy with me." She narrowed her eyes at Leo, crossing her arms over her chest.

"We need to stick with Coulson," Leo said, looking evenly back at her. "When things fall apart you don't run, you stay with the people you trust." He grabbed one of the boxes he was inventorying and stalked off to the back of the Lab.

"I should go talk to him, shouldn't I?" Asia asked, turning to Simmons and biting her lower lip.

"That wouldn't be a bad idea," Jemma said with a sigh, looking over at Trip forlornly.

Asia slid out of her chair and moved quietly towards the back of the Lab, where Fitz sat as a small desk with a lamp on, fiddling with something small and mechanic that appeared to maybe be a motor. "Hey," she said, grabbing a chair and sliding it over to sit beside him. He didn't look up, and just grunted instead, grabbing a screwdriver and unscrewing a small screw in the device. "Leo I'm sorry," Asia said earnestly. "I don't want you to think I don't trust Coulson, or this team, or that I'm about to jump ship." She reached out and grabbed his hand in hers, squeezing it for a second before letting go. "I'm not going anywhere, you guys are the only family I've got."

"What about your old team?" Leo said, still not looking over at her. "They're your family, aren't they?"

Asia sighed, "Yes, I suppose they are. But I'm still here, aren't I? I didn't run, I didn't leave. I stayed with the people I trust." She tried to get him to look her in the eye.

Finally, pressing his lips together, he turned to her. "I suppose you did. I'm sorry, it's just, this whole mess, Asia. It's bonkers. The whole thing. One day, we're SHIELD agents, the next...." he trailed off, before tossing the motor on his desk. "Who knows what we are now, I guess." He ran his hands through those perfect curls of his.

"We're still SHIELD agents, Leo," Asia said, frowning. She hated to see him so stressed out, with nothing she could do about it. "Things are just different now. And we need to figure out where the team goes from here."

"Well," Leo sighed, "Like you said, to Canada, apparently."

Chapter Text

Agent Monroe looked out one of the Bus windows at the bleak landscape around them. Snow touched everything in sight, coating the rocks, the towering pine trees, everything, and it glistened in the sunlight. Perhaps if times weren't so dire she wouldn't have found the setting so sad. Canada could be beautiful, even in its snow-covered state.

"Maybe we should send out a scouting party and make sure we have the all-clear?" Trip suggested, zipping up his SHIELD issue winter coat and pulling the hood over his exposed head. "It wouldn't take long, then we can make sure."

Coulson sighed, shaking his head and shouldering a backpack. "We don't have the time for anything like that. The clock is ticking until satellites catch our bird with their eyes and then we're toast. We need to be gone before they spy us. I know Fury, I still know what SHIELD stands for, and I know something is out there, waiting for us." He said, addressing the entire team. "I know these past few days have tossed almost everything we knew out the window, but I know those things. I also know some of you may think I'm on a wild goose chase, but I know I'm not. I won't force you to come, but I'm not going to stay here." He pulled his badge out of his pocket, along with a compass, and opened the door of the bus, stepping outside into the snow.

Asia sighed, pulling a white cap down over her ears and slinging her own backpack over her shoulders, stepping forward and following their leader out into the snow. Frankly, what other choice did they have? Leo stepped beside her, looking at the crew behind them. "Well, you heard him! Let's get going," he said, stepping out beside her into the cold air.

The entire teams' steps made crunching sounds, shoving through the snow as they trudged onward, through pine trees and up inclines. Asia naturally fell instep beside Leo, or perhaps he fell instep beside her, as she scanned the treeline, and Leo watched his tablets for signs of life.

"This is not good," Leo muttered softly, tapping his tablet a few times, before swiping up.

"Please don't tell me it's a trap," Asia said, looking over his shoulder at the tablet, not entirely sure what she was seeing.

"Worse," Leo frowned, "I don't see any signs of life where we're headed. Nothing. There's nothing." He looked for a second as if he were about to chuck the tablet down, but stopped himself and kept walking.

"Did you mean everything you said earlier, about how we have to stick together for the sake of the team?" Asia asked, trying to bring up the previous discussion without causing a fuss again, especially now that things were looking so bleak.

"I want to trust him," Leo said, "And I know you do too. But you saw the tablet...there's nothing here..." he trailed off, looking at the others still pushing forward ahead of the two.

"Well, you've still got me," Asia said with a small smile, bumping her shoulder against his lightly as they walked.

"That's true," Leo smiled. "Asia, you and I, we're like birds of a feather. We have to stick together, or however that silly saying goes."

"I believe its 'flock together'" she murmured, but smiled shyly over at her friend. "But I think youre right, we are."

The two continued marching in silence, keeping up with their team ahead, watching slowly as the sun moved and Coulson lead them by compass towards whatever waited for them over the hill.

Chapter Text

When the gang finally reached a small clearing, Asia took a deep breath, looking at her surroundings. They were higher now, and the breathing wasn't quite as easy as it was nearer to the base of the mountain. Pine trees were still everywhere, and could easily be masking someone---friend or foe. A few boulders lay covered in snow around the clearing as well, almost suspiciously placed Asia would say, if she were a gambling girl, and she wasn't.

"Finally," Coulson said, putting away his compass. "We're here, this is the spot. There...has to be something," He said, surveying the land himself, looking for a camera, a person in hiding, footprints, anything really. But signs of life up here were few and far between, and the entire team had noticed. "Stay alert," Coulson ordered, "Fury wouldn't send us here for nothing." May pressed her lips together, looking at Coulson with concern but not speaking up. Finally, it was Skye who broke the uncomfortable silence.

"So, how long should we look before we think about getting back to the Bus?" she asked, looking up at the sky and the positioning of the sun. It was getting later in the afternoon.

"We're not going back to the Bus," Coulson replied, narrowing his eyes and his teammates. "Fury sent us out here. We can't leave till we know why."

"What about Big Brother's satellite?" Trip said, pointing skyward. "It'll be passing over soon and if we dont get the Bus moving, they'll know right where to find us."

"It doesn't really matter," Coulson said. "We used up the remaining fuel to get us here." Both Asia and Jemma's mouths dropped open in utter shock. This was it. They were stranded, on a snowy mountain, in the middle of bloody Canada. All because of a theory. "Fury sent us here for a reason," Coulson said again, but it was hard to tell if he was reassuring the team, or himself.

Asia looked down at her watch, then up at the sky. It wouldn't be long if they didn't find something, or at least form a plan. Of course, theoretically, they didn't have identities anymore, or at least none tied to SHIELD. They couldn't rightly be arrested out here just for hiking. Though, the plane nearby would be sucpicuous. Immediately, she found herself already calculating how many men they would send after them. They didn't have much for weapons, but what remained of their SHIELD team would have the advantage. Higher ground, time to familiarize with the area, set traps, be prepared. They could maybe make it through the first wave. But there would be more. There would always be more unless they could get into hiding.

May let out a low sigh, casting a glance around the clearing again. "Remind me what reason that was again," she mumbled, giving Coulson a concerned look. It was rare May showed sign of annoyance, so any of her team members could tell she was clearly peeved.

Coulson's face grew red as a tomato. "I don't know, May, damnit, I don't! But there HAS to be something here!" He held his badge up for the whole team to see, the coordinates still glowing as brightly as they were earlier today. "This, right here, means something," he said, jabbing a finger at his badge. "This means something, because we mean something. Don't you see that?" He pleaded on, frustrated to the point where a small vein was now visible on his forehead. "HYDRA is still out there and we are responsible to keep the world safe. Don't you see that?" The rest of the team was too embarrassed, at least in Asia's case, as she could not speak for everyone else, to speak. She tore her eyes away from Coulson, looking down at her feet. "You need to open your eyes and see!" Coulson continued protesting. "We...We are not agents of nothing! Just because we don't have our badges, does not mean we aren't still Agents of SHIELD. We are the SHIELD that defends this earth. And that carries some fucking weight. After everything we've been through, that carries weight!" Coulson ended his argument by slamming his gloved fist against a nearby boulder. Silence enveloped the small clearing.

Coulson dropped his heated gaze from his team members to look down at his badge and run his finger tips lightly over it. "I'm sorry," he said softly, although it was unclear whether he was acknowledging the team or something he saw in his badge. The suddenly, he turned and hurled his badge with all his might at one of the boulders, letting out a short string of curses of anger as he did so.

As the badge soared through the air, a small mounted turret gun suddenly rose from the rocks, blasting the badge out of the sky, leaving nothing behind but smoke and small embers. Asia dove for cover behind a rock instinctively, grabbing Fitz and pulling him down with her. Skye was on her other side, and May, Coulson, Jemma, and Trip also made it behind boulders, safely out of line of fire from the automatic weapon.

"Well, I think we bloody found it!" Leo shouted, looking at Coulson but not quite peaking his head around from the boulder.

"How do we get that gun to ease up?" Asia called out, stealing a quick glance at the gun and ducking the second it swiveled her way.

"It'll stop, this is a SHIELD facility, it has to be," Coulson said, sounding so damn sure Asia wanted to believe him.

"I dunno," Trip said, far less convinced. "Shoot first, ask questions later doesn't sound like the SHIELD we know."

"The SHIELD we knew is gone," Coulson reminded them all solemnly. "But this is Fury, I know it is."

"You can't know that for sure," May spit back, urging the team to not move at stay safely where they hid. She was already looking for exit routes out of view of that blasted gun.

"There's always a way," Coulson muttered back, and before anyone could stop him, he was standing up, arms raised in surrender, and walking into line of sight for the turret. The whole team held their breaths, wanting to grab him, pull him back, but they couldn't. Not without risking the safety of everyone there.

As the gun slowly swiveled to face him, Asia could hear it spooling up to fire. But instead, a robotic voice projected from the machine. "Identify yourself," it said in choppy English.

"I am Agent Phil Coulson, of SHIELD," Coulson spoke, still leaving his hands up. He seemed so calm, so unendingly calm, a feeling Asia wished she could mimic.

Suddenly the gun swiveled, folding back within the rocks. "Welcome Agent Phillip Coulson," the robot voice spoke once more. "We have been expecting your arrival."

Coulson turned back to face the team, a cheeky, but relieved grin on his face. "Told you so," he said happily. It was a relief, a moment where they could relax, for the first time in days.

Suddenly, the mountain wall in front of them began folding away, like something out of Harry Potter when they head to Diagon Alley. Asia couldn't believe her eyes, and she suddenly felt ashamed. It had been here, right in front of them, this whole time, and yet they had doubted Coulson. Her training had taught her to doubt, and often doubting kept her safe. But to not trust her leader? She felt unending remorse for that. When the rocks finally stopped moving, a large cave mouth was in front of them, as clear as day.

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The team moved forward into the secret space, attempting to shake off their snow covered boots as they did so, but the damn stuff was caked on so thick it was impossible to shed all of the white powder. As soon as the last of them entered the dimly lit, concrete hallway, the doors quickly sealed shut behind them, locking out any possible attempts of another entry...or an exit, for that matter.

"What the hell is this place?" Skye whispered, in almost awe, as she looked around the bunker hall. There were shelves lining the walls, with metal boxes containing who knows what. Locked vault doors were closed off, leading to who knows where. And it was warm already, the heat was running and she could no longer see her breath.

It sure didn't look like any of the bunkers Asia had ever been in. Then again, she had heard and knew of many of SHIELDS bunker locations, and none involved hiking through the Canadian Rockies to get to. Maybe this was something alltogether. Maybe this was one of Fury's very own safe houses? Every agent had one, a place where they could disappear to, a place with supplies, a place where they would never be found.

Suddenly, a friendly, jovial voice bounced off the long hallways as a short man emerged from the shadows at the end of the hall. "It's just one of Fury's many secret bases." The man stepped out of the shadows, buttoning his suit jacket. He had dark, silvery hair and a soft face. He was short in height, probably about 5 feet tall, if that. He had gentle blue eyes, with laugh lines trailing outward from the edges of the orbs. He smiled a thin smile, clapping his hands together. "I mean, well, I like to call it Providence. Has a nice ring to it, good connotations. But, technically, it doesn't have a name. Because it doesn't technically exist. It's all in the technicalities, my friends."

Asia glanced over at Skye out of the corner of her eyes. Skye looked back at her, biting her lower lip and subtly shrugging. What was even going on?

"Now, if you can all follow me," The mysterious, short man said, spinning on the edge of his black, well-shined shoes and walking off back down the hall. "We have much to do. Much to do."

Chapter Text

Oh boy folks! Okay, this isn't entirely a chapter, really. More an author's note. I'm trying to think of a good name for this ship, these two little love birds, so please! Put your ideas in the comments below of what we can name this shipppp <3

Chapter Text

The room they entered appeared to be a large dining area and lounge, with tables and chairs everywhere, though no one occupied them. On the walls were windows that simulated a beach scene outside, though Asia knew behind them was simply concrete. It was cozy, a fireplace in the corner next to a tv was crackling lightly. Homey, almost, if they weren't deep inside a mountain. As much as Asia wanted to believe this was a secret base of Director Fury's, she just couldn't let her guard down. Where were other SHIELD agents? The only person they had seen so far was this short man in a suit, who had yet to introduce himself, flash a SHIELD issue badge, yet to do anything really, except lead them to this dining hall.

"Pretty nice, isn't it," The mystery man said, holding has hands out and spinning around to grin at the team. "Definitely could be worse, at least. I think the changing photos are a nice touch, really. Makes me feel a lot less like I'm buried more than six feet under."

Asia's eyes kept scoring over everything, looking for something out out place. Obviously, the biggest sign of all was the no people. Why wouldn't there be other SHIELD agents? Someone to help run the base? Or at least others called here after the incident. The hairs on the back of her neck were standing at sharp attention. "Where are the others?" She asked quietly, almost under her breath.

"What was that?" The man asked, turning for the first time to face her, studying her face with squinting, little eyes.

"I said," Asia said, fists reflexively tightening so that she was just millimeters away from activating her wristlets. It would be easy, so easy, to tear through him if need be. "Where are the other people?" she looked him back in the eyes, her eyes mirroring his, narrowing, feet sliding into a stance ready for action, subtly.

"Other people?" the man said with a chuckle, "There are no other people. It's just, you, me, and orders from Director Fury. And you, dear, must be Agent Monroe. Clint has told me a lot about you last time he stopped by."

Red flag, red flag, Asia's entire body was screaming. But his words hooked her. "You..spoke to Clint?" She said, doubtfully. Why the hell would he be out here? When did he even have time to be out here?

"Well yea, where do you think he brought Harper, er, BlackCat, to get her really settled in to things? When she went a little crazy? This was the place. Anyways, he told me he and Natasha had a little protege running around. Pleasure to meet you," the man said, grinning, as if he had just won the conversation.

Asia gritted her teeth, but relaxed her hands. All of that sounded legit, sounded right, it made sense. But why were there no others? That still didn't quite click for her. Surely, she would gain answers in time. She needed to. "You too," she muttered.

"As for introductions," the short man said, folding his hands in front of his chest, turning to look at Coulson now. "I'm Agent Eric Koenig, of SHIELD, level six, working directly for Director Fury."

"Agent Coulson," their leader said with a curt nod, holding out his hand to shake.

"Oh God, I know," the man lurched forward, grabbing Coulson's hand in both of his, shaking his hand vigorously. "It's an honour to meet you, sir. I've been waiting ages for this moment. And I'm so sorry, about the whole, turret gun thing. Can never be too safe, you know? Especially now, with all this HYDRA uprising nonsense. I mean, it's not nonsense, but you know what I mean. Guns saw something moving too fast, shot it up."

"Yea, that would be my badge," Coulson replied flatly, pressing his lips into a thin line.

"Ohhh...my God, ok," Koenig said, clapping his hands together and muttering to himself. "That's going to be damn hard to replace. But I guess that's okay. We aren't using badges here, we've got lanyards," he held up a orange and silver badge with an eagle on it. "Of course, they will be handed out to everyone else on a case by case basis. But, Agent Coulson, this one is yours." He thrust the lanyard into Coulson's hand before eyeing up the others. "Can never be too safe these days." He acted as if each and every one of them besides Coulson could be a threat.

It was smart thinking, Asia had to admit. No where was safe these days. No one was safe these days.

"So what about Director Fury?" Coulson asked, putting the lanyard around his neck. "What happened to him? Did he make it out?"

Koenig looked at his feet, frowning. "Fury didn't....he didn't make it out of D.C." Asia inhaled sharply, and even May's eyes widened. Fury? Dead? No. That wasn't possible. Who would have given the orders for them to be sent here? He couldn't be dead. "It has been pretty rough, for everyone left," Koenig admitted. "Especially, what, with the Fridge falling earlier today."

Skye's hand flew to her lips, covering her mouth as her lower lip trembled uncontrollably. Coulson swiveled to face the brunette giving her a quick nod. Skye shakily pulled a small flip phone out of her pocket and moved to a corner, dialing a number rapidly. Asia's heart sunk with realization. Ward. He was supposed to be there. And they had yet to hear anything from him, anything at all.

For all they knew, Ward was dead.

Chapter Text

Skye had Ward on the phone, and finally, finally, Asia was able to let out the breath she had tightly clenched inside her chest. As Agent Koenig lead Coulson away for some sort of private chat, Asia walked over to a nearby countertop and leaned her elbows on it, pushing back her hair and breathing deeply. They were all safe, so far. This was not the time for a breakdown, and she had to remind herself of that. Straightening, she turned, catching Leo's gaze. He gave her a small nod, and she nodded back. Everything was okay. Ward was on his way to the base, and then they could figure out their next step in this crazy process.

With Koenig gone, Asia began to search the room at rapid pace, checking inside every cabinet, under every table, looking for something, anything, out of place. But there was nothing, not one hair out of place. Everything was as Agent Koenig had said, and it seemed to be just another secret base. It still bothered her that there were no others, but orders were orders. "What now?" she asked, turning to May.

May sighed, looking at her watch. "Wait for Coulson, I guess. Not long till that satellite spots the Bus, though," she murmured in response.

Thankfully, it wasn't long until Coulson and Koenig returned. "May, go get the Bus, Koenig has set up the parking ramp for you and can give you directions," was Coulson's first order. May nodded quickly and was gone without a sound. "Skye, what was the news from Ward?" Coulson asked, brows furrowing, preparing for the worst.

"He's all good, made it out, sounded okay," Skye said with a smile, rubbing her hands together. "I gave him the coordinates and directions to get here, he should be here in a few hours, maybe less, if we're being optimistic." She couldn't keep the smile tugging at her lips off her face, and it caused Asia to smile too. Things had clearly taken a step forward with the two, in the right direction. They were no longer pretending there was no feelings there.

It made Asia happy, to see Skye and Ward working things out. Ward had been such a good, longtime friend, and she was glad to see him finally heading towards a stable relationship. It wasn't easy for people like her and Ward to ever get something like that, what with all the missions, and the killing, and the scars. Lately, Asia had to admit her body looked more like Raggedy Ann than it did Barbie. Not many people found that appealing.

"Good," Coulson said with a quick nod. "In that case, we can all settle in until he gets here. Koenig, can you show them their rooms? Showers maybe? No offense, but you're all starting to smell."

"Right back at ya, big guy," Skye said with a roll of her eyes, glancing over at Asia. Agent Monroe smirked back at her. But, admittedly, the idea of a shower sounded like heaven.

"Of course, Agent Coulson," Koenig replied, giving him a small salute. "Alright ladies and gentlemen, right this way," he waved Jemma, Leo, Skye, Asia, and Trip to follow him down a dimly lit hall. When he clapped his hands, the lights in the hall became a notch brighter. "Nice touch, huh?" he glanced over his shoulder. Skye and Asia exchanged matching looks but didn't voice an answer.

After making a couple turns, they came to a line of doors numbered one through eight. "One belongs to Coulson, two will probably go to Agent May. The rest, have at it. They're all the same, just your basic bunk and dressing area." Koenig said, turning and leaving them to their own devices.

"Seven is my lucky number, dibs on that," Skye said, pushing forward and entering the small room. Jemma stepped towards door three.

"I'll take four then," Trip said with a nod, leaving Asia and Leo to decide over the last two.

"Either is fine by me," Asia said with a shrug, glancing at him. "Do you have a preference?"

"I'll take five, I suppose. Six is yours then, yea?" He said, scratching the back of his head.

"Works for me," she replied with a quick smile, "I'll see you in a bit then." Grabbing the handle to door six, she entered the bedroom and disappeared inside.

Koenig wasn't lying, the rooms were very bare. The walls and floor were the same shade of grey. The bed was small, an extended twin, with a black metal frame. There was a desk on one wall, and a coat rack beside it. A fake window was on the back wall, displaying a picture of the beach in Hawaii. On the desk was a small remote. Pulling out the chair, Asia sat down and grabbed it, aiming it at the window and pressing the right arrow.

The scenes began to shift, giving her an image of the mountains, of downtown New York City, and several others. Finally she stopped, on a gentle, calming image. It was a small cabin made of stone sitting beside a river. A wooden fence ran beside the river and there was a small cobblestone path leading down to the riverbed. Mist was wafting up from the stream and the grass was the greenest colour she had ever seen in her life. In the river were a couple tiny fishing boats and the background was dotted with trees. She leaned forward to read the small description in the lower right corner: "The Highlands, Scotland, Europe." A small smile touched her lips.

After getting completely settled in, Asia opened the closet, looking inside to see what she could find. There were plenty of empty hangers, and on one was a white terrycloth robe. Grabbing the gentle fabric, she removed the robe and hung her leather jacket in its place. When they had been in the hall, she had seen a small sign for the women's showers and rest room, beside the men's, on the opposite side of their bedrooms. Now was as good a time as any, before things for too crazy again. Slipping off her combat issue clothing, she wrapped the robe around her bare form, cinching it tightly at the waste, and grabbed a towel out of the closet to bring with her.

The washroom was empty when she arrived, which was just fine by her. She could have a moment of peace and quiet, a moment of reflection. Moments of quiet were so rare these days. The nice thing about Strike Team Delta, was they understood the need for quiet. Even Clint, chatty, dad-joke Clint Barton, knew there were nights were they needed to just sit around the fire, drinking shitty beer, and not speak a work. And while she loved her new team, every single member, she wasn't sure that was a concept they quite understood.

Turning on one of the small shower stalls, she hung her robe on a nearby hook and turned to face the full length mirror, eyeing her body. There were old scars and new, dotting her up and down, like constellations, though she would never see them as pretty as that. Each one had a story behind it, and each one she found ugly. The darkest ones were the most prominent, permanent marks of how she had fucked up in that mansion, how Ian Quin had got to her, how he had shot Skye. They were constant reminders that when she got too close, people she cared about got hurt. Somehow, it seemed, everything she touched got hurt. And that was why she always wanted a barrier up, why friends were dangerous for her to have. Stepping into the shower, she let the scalding what burn her skin red and relaxed into the steam. In here, she couldn't hurt anyone. In here, she could simply disappear.

Chapter Text

After a good thirty minutes of detox in the shower, Agent Monroe decided it was enough and time to get back to her room. She could read a little, and soon Ward would be back. Certainly, if he was at the Fridge when it fell, he would have stories to tell. Stepping out of the warm shower, she quickly toweled herself off and wrapped herself up in that soft robe once more. It was like being clothed in a cloud.

Quickly toweling off her hair, she rushed out the door, and ran smack dab into Leo, who was wearing only a towel wrapped around his waist, on his way to his own shower. "Oh God," she apologized, "I am so sorry Leo, didn't mean to run right into you." She couldn't help but sneak a look at his bare chest. For someone who wasn't an Ops agent, he was still pretty nicely toned. Her cheeks burned red just at the thought.

"Oh no, no, my fault, my fault," he replied just as quickly. "I should pay more attention around doors," he chuckled, nervously. He, too, was acutely aware that she wore nothing but a small robe, which cut off high on her tan thighs. He could feel the heat on his own cheeks.

"So, what do you think of this place?" Asia asked, when he didn't move to get to the washroom door. "Little bit....bland, don't you think?"

"Yea, there's not much for decoration," he agreed, leaning against the hallway wall, studying her face. Even as tired as he knew she must be, she still looked perfect. "Though, I suppose we could have it worse. We could have been found out by the government and thrown in some cell, all away from one another."

Asia grimaced at the thought. "Good point, thank goodness that's not the situation. Wards on his way, we're all safe now, together."

"Together," Leo murdered, loving the sound of the word in his mouth, smiling over at Asia, thinking back to everything which had happened over the past few days. Boldly, Leo spoke again, "So, do you remember, erm, that moment in the plane, before we landed?"

Asia felt her cheeks grow red as she looked over at him, locking gazes. Of course she remembered, the feeling of his fingers brushing her wrist as he tied her wristlets on for her, that moment when the Bus jolted, causing them to collide in a tangled mess, faces only a mere centimeter apart, his thumb brushing her lower lip, and that shock of electricity which raced through her entire body. "I do," she replied slowly, with a nod. Her heart felt like it was going to beat right out of her chest.

"Do you think, perhaps, at some point when things calm down, we could, well..." he paused, trailing off for a moment, looking down at his feet. "Maybe we could talk about it?" his words were soft, so quiet Asia almost couldn't hear them.

"Of course," Asia began to say, a smile forcing itself to her lips, so wide she couldn't quite keep it away, when suddenly a shouting came from Skye's room.

"Asia! I need your help, right now!" the other agent called out, loud enough for them both to hear from the hallway.

"In a minute!" Asia called back, turning back to look at Leo, pressing her lips into a thin line. "Sorry about that, I don't have to go...if you want to talk, still. But I don't want to keep you either!" She added hastily. "I know you'll probably enjoy a shower as much as I just did. We have all the time in the world to talk."

"Not in a minute!" Skye shouted from her room as Leo opened his mouth to speak. "Asia Monroe you get in here right now!" She cracked her door open and looked out, eyes narrowed playfully.

"No, it's fine," Leo said with a shrug. "You're right, all the time in the world. Go help her out, with whatever it is. I'll see you around later?" He stood up, and brushed past her to enter the washroom.

With an annoyed look on her face, Asia pushed into Skye's room, crossing her arms over her chest. "What do you want?" She asked with a sigh.

"Oh God, sorry crabby pants," Skye said with an eyeroll. "Did I interrupt something? You and Fitzy having a cute little heart to heart?" Skye sat down on her bed looking up at her expectantly.

"You did, actually," Asia said with a frown. "But it's okay. The moment passed, I'm here now. What did you need me for?"

"Well geez, now I feel bad," Skye said, standing back up from the bed and grabbing Asia, pulling her into a hug. "You and Fitz will have your moment, I promise. You two are like, meant to be or whatever. I can feel it."

Asia rolled her eyes, but couldn't help but smile at her friend, giving her a quick squeeze back. "Well, now that all the mushy shit is over," she said with a sigh, "What was it you needed my help so desperately with?"

"You're going to think this is really dumb but..., with Ward coming back and all," Skye trailed off, grabbing her closet door and pulling it open, revealing two identical outfits inside, one with a red tank top under her SHIELD jacket and one with black. "Red or black?" she asked, biting her lower lip.

Asia rolled her eyes, and couldn't help but feel as if this were a waist of time. She could have been finishing her important talk with Fitz. Although, that was assuming it would go well. Perhaps it would go absolutely horribly. Finally, with a sigh, she smirked and replied, "Red."

Chapter Text

Ward was back. Asia could finally let herself breathe normally again. They couldn't lose Ward, not after everything that happened. Asia didn't think she could hold it together if they had lost him too, much less Skye.

On the downside of things, he was a little banged up. Jemma had him sit up on a metal table and remove his shirt so she could see the full damage and assess from that point. She held an overly large q-tip dipped in iodine to a large gash on his face, and the agent winced as she did so.

Asia bit her lower lip, moving around the table and studying his body, the bruises, the damage he had taken at the Fridge. They shouldn't have sent him alone---Monroe felt like an idiot. She should have known better. But, at least he was alive.

"Agent Monroe, I'm going to need you to take a step back, if you could," Jemma said as politely as possible. Asia blushed, taking a step back. Jemma continued to work, tisking as she did so. "Unfortunately, Agent Ward, you might be left with a scar."

"Upside," Skye cut in, "You'll look really badass. Well, I mean, more so than usual," she smirked, looking down at him, so happy he was back. "If that were possible," she tagged on in whisper.

Ward smirked back at Skye, but the smirk turned to a grimace as he winced in pain. The ribs were the worst, admittedly. One or two might have been broken, but that was a pain he had experienced before. And because of experience, he knew it was bad. The recovery sucked, even with SHIELD's upscale meds and talented doctors who could speed up the process.

"Continue with your recap, please," Coulson said, interrupting the younger agents' chatter. He was determined to have the exact picture of what went down at the Fridge, how they lost one of the most secure SHIELD, and who, and what, was out in the world now.

"The Fridge was already captured by the time we got there," Ward explained. "HYDRA was everywhere, I was lucky to get out with as little damage as I did. There was no way to stop them, Agent Coulson. We were outmanned and outgunned, and that's an understatement." Ward closed his eyes as if he were picturing the moment, reliving the moment.

"They were taking weapons," he continued, "Artifacts, people. They wanted everything the Fridge had to offer, and they took it. Everyone who was kept there...is either free or dead."

A look of panic flooded Site's face and Asia felt the hairs on the back of her neck stand on end. She could feel goosebumps ripple through her body---one man came to mind when she thought of people escaping the Fridge.

"So you're telling me..." Asia began, moving so she could look Ward in the eyes. She wanted to see her friend confirm her worst fears.

"That Ian Quinn is a free man?" Ward said with a sigh, "I'm sorry Asia, Skye, but he got out."

Asia took a step back as if she were retooling with disgust or fear. The scars which were hidden beneath her black jacket stung as if they were fresh wounds. She could close her eyes and still see him, through a red film as blood dripped over her eyes. And all the memories of almost losing Skye hurt just as badly as her own pain. She couldn't help but remember the whole thing was her fault.

Suddenly she felt a shaking arm around her back and she opened her eyes. It was Skye, an equal look of fear in her eyes. "We're okay, we're safe here," she murmured, as the two girls clung to one another. Together, they would be safe.

"Did Garrett get away with them?" Fitz asked, voicing the question on all their minds.

"No way in hell I was going to let him walk out of there alive," Ward said, shaking his head, then wincing again from the pain. "We fought, but as soon as I had the second I put two bullets right in the back of that traitor's skull. He's dead."

Coulson studied Ward silently for a moment before looking away. At least Garrett was dead.

Ward looked over to Trip with a grim smile. "One bullet for me, one for you. Payback, for the trust we thought we could have in him."

Trip shook his head but chuckled. "You always were too damn sentimental," he said sarcastically. But he pleased. One less problem they needed to worry about.

"There," Jemma interrupted with a gentle pat to Ward's shoulder. "You're as patched up as you can be, for now. What with your two broken ribs and a zygomatic fracture. No rough housing for at least a week. No reason to worsen your condition."

Ward slid off the table and gave Jemma a quick side hug. "Thank you, as always," he said lightly. Then, he pulled something small and black from his pocket. "The only other victory I can confirm from the fight is this." He placed it into Skye's hand and closed her fingers around the object. "Your flashdrive."

"Flash drive?" Trip asked, watching the interaction with scrutiny.

"This drive holds all the information of every mission we've completed. It has all our research, prototype designs, 084 information, and some info on the super secret powered people index," Skye explained to Trip, placing it in her pocket.

"We can get it backed up now that its back in your capable hands, and that your capable hands are in a secure facility," Ward said to Skye. Asia couldn't help but roll her eyes. Those two were so smitten.

"No, there's more important things to do first," Coulson cut in. "Skye, I want you to compile a list of everyone who is now out of the Fridge. Asia, assist her and make a list of last known locations before being placed at the Fridge and where they may head. We need to get ahead of the situation as much as possible."

The two agents nodded and got right to work. Skye got out her laptop and Asia logged onto one of the base's SHIELD issue PCs. This was going to take some time.

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Asia stared at the spreadsheet she had built. Things had gone from bad to worse. She glanced over at Skye who was typing away. She must have been thinking the same thing.

Damage control wouldn't even begin to touch this problem.

Suddenly, Coulson and May entered the room, grim looks on their faces. "Lay it on us," Coulson began, "How bad is the situation?"

"Bad," Asia replied flatly, pulling her list up on a big screen next to Skye's.

"Really bad," Skye echoed. "I thought Quinn was bad news....he's by far the least worst of the guys out there now. Theres several powered individuals running at large."

"Tell me..." Coulson mused, "Is Marcus Daniels a name on that list?"

"He is," Skye affirmed, highlighting his name.

"Most likely headed out west. That's where his most recent activity was dated," Asia followed up. "I've been searching for weird reports out on that coast. The data is still computing, there's a lot to sift through."

Coulson rubbed his forehead, sighing. "Ward, is that bird you brought here operation?"

"Might have a few dents but should be ok," Ward replied. "Do we need a pilot for something?"

"We're going to, but it won't be you," Coulson affirmed. "You need rest. I'll bring a partial team with. Monroe, you ready to fly? We need that quinjet prepped to leave in under an hour."

"Always ready, sir," Asia replied with a quick nod.

"Excuse me, ready for what? We just got everyone back here, we're safe," Skye cut in, brow creased with concern.

"We might be safe, but the population won't be if Daniels stays out there, with no one trying to stop him," Coulson explained. "We might be a hagtag team, we might not currently have government backing, but we made an oath. We can't leave innocent people out there with powdered individuals on the loose. I'm taking a team and we're shutting this down."

With perfect time, Koenig entered the room and announced, "No you may not. There are rules and regulations in place. You cant just go chartering off wherever you please, whenever you please."

Coulson stepped forward and steered Koenig into a side room. While they couldn't quite make out exactly what was being said, there was clearly yelling from both sides. Asia looked over at Skye, raising her eyebrows as both tried to eavesdrop.

When Coulson exited the room, Koenig behind him, he clapped his hands together. "Alright ladies and gentlemen. Its time for orientation."

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Asia entered the cold, concrete room the Koenig was hosting "orientation" in. The walls were all dark concrete, and it contained nothing but two chairs and a slanted desk with electronics built into it. It was grim looking to say the least. Lie detector tests used to make her uneasy, but Natasha and Clint had taught her well. It wasn't entirely difficult to trick a lie detector if needed, and if he questioned her about supplying info to Strike Team Delta, she would do just that.

"Agent Monroe," Koenig greeted, motioning to the chair across from him, which she sat down in. "Welcome. Please plug yourself in and we'll get everything started."

The chair itself required a belt strapped over one's waist, and a monitor pinched over one's forefinger. The chair, allegedly, could gain all the output needed to decide if the truth was being told.

Agent Monroe sat herself in the chair, settling in and securing the various devices, before brushing her hair over her shoulder and putting a small smile to her pink lips. "Ready when you are," she confirmed.

"We'll start with something easy to establish your readings--what is your full name?" Koenig asked, eying her as he glanced at the results every so often.

"Asia Penelope Monroe," the brunette replied nonchalantly.

"And how would you describe your eye colour?" He asked, studying the readings very carefully. It was paramount to notice every possible detail.

"I would say grey, but sometimes they get a bit lighter and lean towards blue, I couldn't tell you why," Asia replied with a light shrug. All of this was true.

"Have you ever been married?" He asked, raising a hairy, gray eyebrow.

"Not technically, though I've used it as a cover many times," she replied after a moment, thinking back on all the pretend times she had used marriage as an excuse or story.

"Understandably," Koenig replied. "Please list your immediate family."

"It's just me," Asia replied flatly, not pleased he was bringing up her childhood. Some things should just be left untouched, even if it were just out of common courtesy.

"So, what you're saying is you aren't going to count your sister?" Koenig pushed further, trying to see what he could get out of her.

Asia frowned, "As far as SHIELD is concerned, from what I've been allowed to know, America...Mer, is missing, presumed dead. So no, I wouldn't consider her 'immediate.' Anyone immediate to me is dead, which, presumably, you know. I don't really appreciate your scare tactics, Koenig. You should know better, Romanoff taught me herself." She crossed her arms over her chest angrily.

"Touche, Agent Monroe," Koenig said, taking some notes down on a small pad. "Now, what is the difference between an egg and a rock?"

"Egg has the potential for life, rock has none, egg is edible, a rock...i mean you could try it but it wouldn't work, egg-soft exterior, rock-"

Koenig cut the agent off, "That'll do, Agent Monroe," he said with a light chuckle, before continuing. "Have you ever heard of Project Insight?"

"Heard in passing, never in detail," she admitted truthfully, studying Koenig as she did so, wanting to take a peek at his reaction, but his face stayed blank as he jotted more notes.

"Well, what about Alexander Pierce?" Koenig asked, looking back up to study her reading at the sound of his name. "Ever met him?"

"Seen him in passing, only met him once...no...twice. Definitely twice. Natasha introduced me, then Clint, separate occasions, and it was awkward both times." The man had been a higher up operative in SHIELD....but word had it he was working for HYDRA too. Surely that was why Koenig was asking---anyone with close relation to him would have to be scrutinized with extra care. So she wasn't surprised when he raised an eyebrow at her in question, before writing some more notes.

"Alright. You wash up on a deserted island, with nothing around you besides one box," Koenig prompted. "What is in that box?"

"Well, that's a silly question," Asia said with an eyeroll. "How big is it? Width, height, length, preferably in that order."

"The size is your decision. State the first thing that comes to your mind," Koenig said flatly, providing no information whatsoever.

"My team," Asia said, the words tumbling out of her mouth before she even had the chance to speak. Who would Koenig determine to be her team? Would he assume it was Clint and Natasha? Or think it was Coulson and the others? Truthfully, Asia wasn't even sure what the word 'team' entailed anymore, either.

"Alright, Agent Monroe. SHIELD no longer exists. What is left has been labeled a terrorist organization. That means, technically, you and I are terrorists. We are wanted by the law. So, why are you here?" Koenig asked with finality. Clearly, this was the last question, thank goodness. This was what everything really hung on.

So Asia opened her mouth and answered truthfully. "I was raised in SHIELD. My parents were agents, and after that I was raised in a foster SHIELD family. I entered the Academy as young as I could. My whole life, all I've known is SHIELD. And I've seen all the good we can do." She leaned back in the chair, relaxing. "I took the same SHIELD history classes as you, sir. And I learned enough to know, while HYDRA may have won this battle, SHIELD will always win the war. On top of that---you asked earlier about my immediate family. Well, those seven agents standing outside of here, that's who you can put down. So, in short, I'm here to save the world, and I'm here to do it with the people I love." She crossed her legs over the knee and looked at Koenig evenly, daring him to question her.

Instead, a smile came across his face. "Congratulations, Agent Monroe. You've passed! Not that I had any doubts. Here," he began, reaching over towards her,dangling a silver and orange badge, "is your lanyard. Keep it with you at all times."

"Will do, sir," Monroe replied with a smile, slipping the lanyard over her neck. She had passed the silly test. And she had barely needed to lie.

Chapter Text

Coulson gave Asia a clap on the shoulder when he saw her walk in wearing her new lanyard. "Perfect, Monroe. We need you to ready the plane for our next mission. You comfortable with that?"

"Always, sir," Asia replied with a smile. She left with a nod and made her way to the airplane. This mission seemed very personal to Coulson, but she was never one to press, she was only here to complete missions and mostly follow orders. Not every order. But, ya know, most of them.

Although, she couldn't help but wonder just what was going on between May and Coulson. Usually, almost always, it was May's job to pilot the aircraft. Clearly, Coulson still felt wary about May keeping secrets with Fury. Asia felt wary herself--for a moment, back before everything had happened, it had seemed that perhaps May knew she was keeping secrets herself, that she had been sending certain bits of intel to Strike Team Delta. But, if that were the case, she probably would have called her out by now. It wouldn't make sense for her to keep something that could get her back in Coulson's good graces a tight lipped secret.

So Asia would have to err on the side of caution for the time being, until things settled down. Until she could get a good, concrete grasp on what exactly was going on. After the plane was ready to go, gassed up, and loaded with the supplies she could only assume they would need, since Coulson hadn't exactly given her a packing list, she radioed the team. Leo, Jemma, Coulson, and Trip showed up, but there was no sign of the others.

I guess this is it, then, she thought to herself, as she and Trip sat in the cockpit and flew them quickly South West.

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When the team landed back at Providence, Asia felt slightly relieved. While the mission to save a famous musician, Audrey Nathan, from her enhanced stalker, hadn't been too terribly difficult, it had been much too personal for her liking. It turns out, the musician and Coulson used to be quite the item, before he was thought to be dead. They had saved her, of course, but watching Coulson suffer through being near someone he cared about very much, yet not able to show her he was there, it was excruciating.

But when they landed in the hangar, there was an immediate sense of dread. Because, inside that sealed hangar, was a big Bus-Shaped space, with no Bus sitting neatly in it. The plane was gone. Vanished.

"Where's our Bus?" Jemma asked, looking back at Agent Coulson.

"And our team..." Asia said, trailing off as her hand reflexively went to the gun on her belt. No one had been there to greet them, which seemed out of character so far from what she had seen of Koenig. And what of Skye and Ward? And May?

Coulson pressed his lips into a thin line, looking around the barren hangar. "I don't know," he admitted. "But I don't like the way this is going. Let's go inside an assess the surveillance footage. Or perhaps they're just all in there, waiting. Let's not jump to too high of conclusions, yet. Let's meet in Koenig's office in ten if there's no sign of them on the base."

Asia gave a quick nod before heading swiftly, and quietly inside. She slunk down the halls like a cat through the shadows, and gave two quiet knocks on Skye's door when she got to the bunk area. Nothing. Carefully, she pressed her ear to the cold metal of the door, but there was no sound of movement inside. She gently grabbed the handle and pushed the door open, sticking her head inside and whispering, "Skye?" but there was no response. The lights were off, the room was empty. Skye was nowhere to be found.

Asia frowned. She had been hoping for a least a note left on the desk or something. This seemed very unlike her friend, unlike either Skye or Ward honestly. After doing a little more looking around, she wound up with the others in Koenig's large office. The lights in his room were on when they entered, but there was no sign of the man.

"What do we have for footage?" Coulson asked when he entered, crossing his arms over his chest. He was doing his best to not let his concern or worry play across his face. He wanted to keep his team as strong as possible, and showing them their leader was worried was never a good start.

"Nothing much, sir," Leo replied with a frown, tapping at a computer to pull up the few cameras. "Most of the feeds to the base were cut. I'm not sure how yet, or by who. All we really have for coverage is the cam on the hangar's landing assist system. That's bloody it." He pulled up the video on the large screen in front of him.

Asia pulled up a chair to sit by the scientist and stared up at the screen as if she were watching the rapture. An image of the Bus scratched onto screen, in a hazy, black and white video. The cargo door was open and she could make out just a hint of Coulson's prized car inside. After moments, May appeared, walking out of the Bus with a duffle bag slugged over her shoulder and her thick, winter coat zipped up to her chin.

"Where did she go from there?" Asia asked. "She never came back out to the Bus, right?"

"Right," Jemma said with a quick nod, "The security logs on all the doors, the ones we scan with our lanyards at least, keep record of all our entrances and exits. About thirty five minutes later, May's badge was used to exit the base. It has not been used to re-enter since that time stamp." Jemma held out a tablet for them to see. The list of badging in and out was apparent, Asia could even see their own names on the list.

"What about Agent Skye and Agent Ward?" Trip piped up from his position where he was attempting to appear casual, leaning against the wall.

Fitz tapped a couple keys and the footage sped forward, till he stopped it and had it play again. On the screen, they could see Ward and Skye, walking hand in hand up the ramp and into the Bus. Shortly later, the Bus ramp closed up and the plane was seen taking off.

"Well, what about Agent Koenig?" Asia asked, biting on her lower lip as she thought over everything which had happened. May was easy to understand. She left. She was tired of the feuding and the running and God knows what else, and she bailed. But they had seen no sign of Koenig, there was nothing about him badging in and out, no sign of him getting into the plane.

Leo looked over at her and shrugged. "That's it. That's all the signs we've got. The rest is just...poof" he used his hands to motion the sound.

"He must have gotten out somehow. Maybe he made it into the Bus?" Jemma proposed.

Coulson shook his head and pointed at the camera. "That's the only way in or out without badging through a door. If we didn't see him on that footage, and there's no record of him on any of the exits, he must still be here. The blast doors and the hangar are the only way out. Both are in good condition, there's no sign of a struggle. So we need to find out what happened and why."

"And we need to know why coms were cut, and the video feeds. It doesn't add up for two people who walked out holding hands, and it's not like May walked out fighting either," Asia pointed out.

Coulson sighed. "May left because I told her to. I was mad, I was harsh, and it was irresponsible. She walked away because of me." It was difficult to admit, anyone could see that. He rubbed at his forehead and then looked back at the screens. "So May's exodus is explained, but it doesn't explain what happened here, to Skye, to Ward."

Jemma sighed. "I'm going to cook us something. We need to eat." she clapped her hands together and stood up. What she needed, truthfully, was a distraction tactic. And this would have to do.

"I can help," Trip offered her, standing up straight, and offering a small grin.

"Of course, I'd love your help," Jemma replied with a smile, her pale cheeks flushing red.

After the two left, Coulson turned to Asia and Fitz. "I want you two to go put your things away, and see if there's any sign of anything around. We need to be at are best wits if we're going to figure out what's going on here."

The two nodded and proceeded out of the office as well, making their way back to the sleeping quarters once more. The walk was quiet, but not necessarily in an uncomfortable fashion. It was fine for them to just be together without talking, a sense of familiarity and comfort Asia found with so few. But, she couldn't help but wonder what was on his mind. He had been so worried about the team sticking together, and now, once again, they were separated. Much of her wanted to reach out and grab his hand, squeeze it for comfort, but all she could think of was the image of Skye and Ward walking out, leaving them behind, hands linked tightly together.

"Well, I'm going to go wash up, yea?" Leo said finally, when they were in front of their respective bedroom doors.

"Sounds good," Asia said, glancing into her bedroom. She would probably just go meditate. That's what she needed right now, some clear thinking, some relaxation, to help her think this whole thing through. "I'll just be in here if you need anything," she said with a small smile.

As they parted ways, Asia entered her room and sat down on her bed, crossing her legs lotus style. She wished rather that she had some candles that she could light, but she didn't know who to even ask, now that Koenig was missing. She took some deep breaths, and slowly got lost in her meditative thoughts.

Everything was going quite well, until she heard Jemma's ear-piercing scream.

Chapter Text

Asia sat on the cold floor of the dining area, knees hugged tightly to her chest, rocking slowly back and forth, hand covering her mouth and tears slipped down her cheeks. She couldn't stop mumbling, "This isn't right, this isn't right." Even with her jacket on, she felt chilled to the absolute bone.

Jemma had just confirmed it while she stood over Agent Koenig's dead body. Ward had done it, Ward had killed him. That, paired along with the message Skye had left that Leo found...it all confirmed the truth that she couldn't allow herself to believe. That Ward was HYDRA. He had been hiding in their team this entire time, watching them, studying them, reporting on them. And now he had Skye.

The brunette agent pushed the palms of her hands against her closed eyed, trying to alleviate the pressure she felt building up in her head, letting out a groan. It just couldn't be. He wasn't the enemy...he was...he was Ward. One of her best friends. The guy she had competed neck and neck with in school. The guy she had made time to meet up with whenever they happened to be in the same city. The guy who always remembered her a birthday and sent her a text every year exactly at midnight to wish her another year older.

"This isn't right, it can't be," Leo objected, voicing her own thoughts as if they were psychically linked. "You know how I know this can't be right? Because Ward is our friend. Maybe Agent Koenig was the traitor."

"Fitz..." Jemma objected softly, reaching out for him but he backed away from her outstretched hand.

"No!" He objected again. "Someone is...someone is trying to trick us, to turn us against each other. We don't even know that it was Skye who wrote that message!"

But they did. Even though it was carved with a jagged knife, the pattern in the shapes of the writing matched Skye's letter for letter. Asia banged her head against her knees three times. This couldn't be. It just couldn't be. How could someone who she knew, who she trusted intimately, with her very life, be with HYDRA? It wasn't possible. It'd be like finding out her old team worked for the enemy. It just wasn't possible.

"Based on the...on the findings," Jemma began again, looking down at the body. "It couldn't have been....no one else could have lifted him into that ceiling. It was Ward, Sir," she said, turning to Coulson. "As much as I regret saying it, Ward did this."

Asia let out another sob. She knew Simmons couldn't be wrong. She was far too smart to misidentify the cause of death. But part of her mind just couldn't let her believe it...all she could do was think back to all the times they had spent together. He was the one who she first experienced zero gravity with, and both of them had puked their brains out the first time. It had been the best laugh. He had been so loyal to SHIELD, so thorough in his training. He had been there every time she had needed him, every time either of them were in critical condition, the other could be found waiting outside the operation room, or, at the very least, have the other showered with obnoxious balloons with passive aggressive statements, making fun of one another for taking a bullet. And now...now he was HYDRA.

He was HYDRA and he had Skye. Oh God. Asia gulped again, inhaling like she had forgotten how to breathe. He had taken Skye. And she knew he was HYDRA, the message made it clear enough to see that.

In a burst of outrage, Leo shoved a tray full of tools off of the table and it clattered to the floor, causing Asia to look up with a start, tear stains covering her cheeks. It was so rare to see an outburst such as this from Leo Fitz, to see him at a state of such anger, such emotion. The man slammed his balled fists down on the counter as if the only way he could possibly get his hurt out was through physical rage.

"Okay, that's enough," Coulson barked, throwing his hands up in the air. "I understand this is...this is difficult. Believe me, I do. I trusted Ward as much as any of you. He was part of our team. But behaving like this won't change the fact that not only did we discover he's with HYDRA, but also the fact that Skye knows the man she walked out of here, hand in hand with, is the enemy. She's in danger and getting her back has to be our priority right now. We need to take all our hurt, all our rage, and focus on finding her. Because right now, she's out there, playing him like he played us."

But Leo couldn't move from the position where he was, hunched over the table, balled up fists shaking. And Asia couldn't quite bring herself to let her knees come away from her chest. She felt like she needed to keep herself balled up or everything would shatter.

Jemma walked over to Asia carefully and put her hands under her arms. "Up you go, love," she said softly, helping the other agent stand, wiping a tear from her own face once they were both upright. To see how deeply this affected all of them filled Jemma with an unending sorrow. Agent Monroe, who she had only ever seen in a state like this after she was tortured, seemed to be falling apart at the seams at the knowledge one of her partners was a traitor. And poor Fitz wasn't much better off.

Asia wanted to smile at Jemma in thanks but she couldn't make herself. She couldn't make herself do anything but rub fiercely at her face to steal away the tears. She hated the idea of anyone seeing her this way. She hated the idea of being weak, of being vulnerable.

"Fitz," Coulson said calmly over to him and placing a hand firmly on his shoulder and turned the scientist to look at him. "I need you to get the comms up and running again. Anything Ward may have disabled to keep us from tracking the plane, I need running. Do you think you can do that?"

Leo slowly forced his eyes up to look at Coulson, before giving him the smallest of nods.

"Good," Coulson said with an affirming nod of his own. "Skye wouldn't walk out of here with him without a plan. The only problem is, we need to find her before Ward figures her out. So the sooner we're up and running, the better. Asia," he turned to the other agent, and his face fell. It was difficult to look at her like this, standing there with bloodshot eyes and tearstained cheeks, fists clenched, trying to still stand up straight but her whole body still shaking. "I want you and Agent Triplett to go prepare a jet. Ok?"

"Yes, Sir," she replied in a shaky voice, but she couldn't quite make her feet move.

"Hey Tic Tac," Trip said calmly to her, causing her to look over at him. "We got this. We'll tag team it, be done in 5 minutes," and he flashed her one of those genuine, never failing, Agent Trip grins. He steered her out of the room, not that it took much effort.

The monotonous task of preparing the aircraft was good, it was easy. It helped Agent Monroe not think for a moment. She needed that, she needed a moment to just...not think. It was so much easier to just do, to just focus on a task and not let her mind swallow itself up with its own thoughts, not let herself be eaten alive. She was prepping the cockpit when Trip walked up behind her, placing a soft hand on her shoulder.

"Fitz located the Bus," he said with confidence. "It's in Los Angeles. He wants us to head back inside and meet in the office again for a quick briefing before we head out."

Straightening from her hunched over position, Asia numbly followed Trip out of the plane and back into the base. She thought he might have been speaking to her, but frankly if he was, she didn't hear a word of it. She entered the office with Trip, where Coulson was already waiting for the two ops agents.

"Agent Monroe, I hope you're fairing better now," He said with a tight lipped smile. The only response he got from her was a quick nod. "Alright then. Fitz got out systems back up, not that any of us are surprised there. The Bus is currently parked in LA, and we're going to need to be ready for anything when we get there. Skye must be stalling for time somehow, but that time won't last forever. It's up to us to get there before that time runs out."

Suddenly, the screen in front of them started to flash red with a warning alert. "God Damnit," Coulson muttered under his breath. "Perimeter has been triggered. Multiple units on the ground are moving in on our position." He turned to Trip and Asia. "When it rains it pours," he said sarcastically, heading out the door. "Follow me," he called over his shoulder, grabbing a rifle from a shelf against the wall and indicating the other two to do the same.

Following Coulson up the hall, the three took positions at the end of the corner, peaking around at the barricaded main entrance. This, this Asia felt used to. Once again she could perform an activity so normal to her that she didn't have to be filled with dread, didn't have to think about all the worst possible outcomes, didn't have to think about how she had missed all the signs.

Moments later, Jemma and Fitz came running up behind them, each holding a night-night gun. "What's happening?" Jemma hissed in whisper.

"Unknown combatants surrounding the perimeter," Trip explained softly to Jemma, noting she had been smart enough to come with a weapon.

Fitz sighed. "If it's not one thing, it's some bloody other," he said, exasperated. Asia couldn't help but feel that he was too, too right.

Chapter Text

The doors should have held, frankly. There was no justifiable reason they wouldn't, Asia thought, rationalizing herself. They would have to have some serious firepower out there to make a dent in those doors, so theoretically, they should have been safe. Still, it was better for them to be prepared with their weapons, than to be sorry. It should have held just fine.

But, suddenly, the lock on the door flipped from red to green, and those ridiculously strong bunker doors slid open.

"What the hell?" Trip muttered, glancing at Coulson out of the corner of his eye as they all raised their weapons to focus at the doors.

"Stay down and take cover," Coulson ordered, looking through the site of his rifle, unsure of what could possibly be coming through those doors next. There shouldn't have been anyone left in SHIELD who would come here, or at least, not anyone without a lanyard. Slowly, his team moved backwards down the hallway, Simmons and Fitz taking shelter behind a corner as Asia, Trip, and Coulson kept their guns up.

Through the doors came several armed men wearing camouflaged combat gear, the soldiers each holding a gun up and at the ready, black metal glinting in the overhead lights. A man in a navy blue, Airforce uniform lead the way. He was tall, and had the most perfect posture Asia had ever seen. It was almost like there was a string on the top of his head, pulling him straight up. He had a neatly trimmed, brown mustache and salt and peppered hair, and narrow, stern eyes as he looked down the hallway at the SHIELD members.

"That's no HYDRA," Asia muttered to her teammates, not lowering her weapon. Just because it wasn't HYDRA, didn't mean they weren't a threat. Afterall, SHIELD members were considered terrorists now, and Agent Monroe had no plans to be carted off to jail at any point.

"It looks like it's the military, special forces..." Coulson said, "But, how did they find us? There's no way Fury would have given out the location of his personal bunkers." The facts didn't add up. Someone must have lead them here, given them access.

Suddenly, the man in charge of the soldiers spoke, his voice deep and booming, reverberating off of the walls of the bunker. "On behalf of the United States Air Force, and all things good in this country, I order you to lower your weapons," he barked, as if he were speaking to his own men. Asia glanced at Coulson out of the corner of her eye for a queue of what to do. Coulson shook his head 'no' with an almost unperceptive movement. None of the SHIELD agents moved to lower their guns.

Coulson narrowed his eyes, studying the man. He couldn't quite figure out where he had seen him before. Then, suddenly, it clicked. This was the same man from the video stream, the man who head threatened to head for SHIELD HQ, and now, here he was somehow, in their secret bunker, having his men point weapons at their men. "Colonel Talbot?" Coulson called out. "Don't you have better things to do than chase down five SHIELD agents? Our organization doesn't even exist anymore."

"Trust me, Agent Coulson," the mustached man replied, "The last thing I want to be doing right now is chasing your ass all around the Canadian wilderness. But, here we are." He crossed his uniform-clad arms over his chest.

"Well, if we come out, will you shoot us?" Coulson asked, partially joking, but also, with this guy, he was partially seriously. Who knows how trigger happy this guy was. "Because if you plan on shooting us, we really aren't going to come out."

"Valid point," Colonel Talbot said with a sharp nod, signaling for his men to lower their weapons. "There, how about now? No one's going to fire unless provoked." He glanced over at Monroe for a second, who had yet to lower her weapon. "So whoever that little spitfire is, you tell her to put her gun down."

Coulson gave Asia a small nod and she lowered the rifle, but didn't set it down completely. Slowly, the group walked around the corner, warily. Asia was making mental note of all the objects in the hall they could use for defense if they needed to.

"So, Colonel, I do have to ask. This is one of the most classified bases on the continent...how exactly did you find it?" Coulson asked, after he was standing toe to toe with the commander.

Footsteps came from the entrance as he spoke, and a slim figure dressed in a suit with her brunette hair pulled back into a professional ponytail came into view. "Coulson," she tisked, "You should know better than that. I told him," Maria Hill said with a smirk.

 

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If it was one thing Asia had never been incredibly fond of, it was being on the wrong side of an interrogation, as she, Leo, Jemma, and Trip all were now. Colonel Talbot stood across the table from them, studying them all with narrow, beady eyes, waiting for one of them to break. If he could get one to waver, then he knew he could get them all.

"You can't keep us like this, we're not criminals," Jemma objected, and Talbot grinned. There was one.

"Well, that solves that then. Not criminals," he said dryly. "I suppose you'll be fine with me just taking you all into custody and you can all tell your compelling tales about how not a single crime was committed, aside from evading government custody." He stared at the red haired girl, waiting patiently for her to speak again. Instead, she frowned and looked away from his unwavering, steel gaze.

"We're agents of SHIELD," Trip objected. He couldn't help but want to stand up for Jemma, he felt the strong urge to protect her, much like she had protected him when Coulson wanted to turn him away. "None of us are affiliated with HYDRA."

"Well I'm sorry to burst your bubble soldier, right now, to the rest of the entire damn world, SHIELD and HYDRA are the exact same thing," Talbot said to the man, looking down at him. "So that's not a very good excuse now, is it?"

"Anyone with half a brain knows that SHIELD and HYDRA are not the same thing," Asia protested. "You really want to go and try arresting Natasha Romanoff? Let me know how that goes for you." She crossed her arms over her chest and tilted her head to the side, challenging him.

Talbot smirked and shook his head. "I knew you of all people were going to be trouble." He sighed, and leaned back against a counter, studying them once more. "Well, since you're clearly not in the cooperating mood, I'll lay out how this is going to work. You're going to give me valid, actionable intelligence, and I'm going to allow you to serve the time awarded, without further repercussions." he paused for a moment, glancing over at Leo Fitz, the only one yet to speak. "Your only other options, are...well...lets say, they're literally hell. Boy like you wouldn't last a minute."

"Do your worst," Leo spit back out at him, glowering. Asia couldn't help but grin.

Then, she spoke again. "You know, we have a known HYDRA agent on the lose. We have his wearabouts and coordinates, yet, you're allowing him to get away. This seems more like a personal vendetta rather than actual law."

Talbot narrowed his eyes and looked directly down at Asia. "Darling, you're digging yourself a very deep hole, and you're not going to have a ladder to climb out of this one. You're up shits creek, no paddle. I'm the only one here trying to strike a bargain, you might want to hear what I have to say."

But Asia simply tuned him out. There was no point trying to barter with a man like him, he had already pinned them for guilty, without actually hearing their case. That was probably what most courts would follow suite with, as well. Asia had no mind to be sitting in some jail cell, or up on some witness stand. She would shoot her way out if she had to, and it was looking more and more likely as the day drug on.

 

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After Colonel Tablot left them to go speak with Coulson, Trip spoke up, "We got to get the hell out of here, now. How many men do you think are on the other side of that door?" He glanced at the door from which Talbot had came.

"I'd say minimum of two outside this door alone," Asia mused. "Heavily armed, as expected. And we have no guns. So, odds are slim." she glanced over at the door herself, debating the odds she and Trip would have if they bust out that door, using just their wits and fists to take out the men. The odds weren't good, seeing that there were probably more than two guards out there. There was no way to really know without risking attack.

Suddenly, the door opened, as if someone out there knew we were speaking about breaking out. Asia stood up, sliding into a defensive stance, but to her surprise, it wasn't the United States Armed Forces who stood on the other side. It was Coulson and Hill.

"Come on guys, we're blowing this Popsicle stand," Coulson said, motioning them all out of the room, handing Asia an ICER as he did so. The agents all filled out, moving along the halls one by one, icing any soldiers they came upon, until they made it to the hangar.

The only plane left parked inside was Garrett's old jet, the same one Ward had flown to the base. Asia felt dirty sitting in something the knew belonged to Garrett, who definitely wasn't dead like they thought. But they had no choice now, they had to escape while they still had the very small window of chance.

"We've got a small amount of time, but the Bus is still down where we last located it. We just have to get there before they leave." Coulson explained to Hill.

"Well, I suggest you all get buckled in then," Maria said with a smirk. "Because we're taking this bird supersonic."

Chapter Text

He wouldn't turn her over. Even though the stood him down, missiles at the ready, Ward called their bluff. Of course, Coulson would never sacrifice Skye and blow up the Bus. Not a chance in hell. And Ward knew this all too well--after all, he had spent months with that team, studying their moves, studying what they would and wouldn't do for their team.

But what he didn't know, what he couldn't predict, was what Coulson was planning next. The difficult part was the waiting game for the rest of the team. If Coulson failed, both he and Skye would be lost. If he succeeded, they could only wait in the dismal motel they had rented for the next few nights. While Asia had full belief in Coulson's abilities, that didn't mean she wasn't worried. There were so many variables that could go wrong.

The others were clearly worried as well. Trip and Jemma sat next to each other on the couch, staring blankly at the TV as some show played repeats, and Maria was pacing the room. Leo sat next to Asia, muttering something about how he still couldn't believe Ward was behind this. Asia didn't want to think about it. The more she thought about it, the more real it became. And while it apparently was real, that didn't mean she was quite ready to admit it. There had to be another explanation, there just had to.

But then they were back. When Coulson and Skye entered the room, Asia stood up, hands trembling. Then, next thing she knew, she was running to Skye, and threw her arms around the agent. Both girls hugged the other tight, an incomprehensible bond linking between them. They were survivors, and they would survive this too.

"Are you ok?" Asia asked, still not letting her go. She could feel Skye still shaking slightly. She wanted to be there to comfort her friend, she wanted her to know nothing like this would ever happen again.

"A few bumps and bruises, but I'll make it," Skye mumbled back. "I still just...I can't quite believe everything that happened."

"So it's true?" Asia whispered, pulling back and looking Skye in the eyes, hoping all all hope she could make her worst fear go away. Maybe she would tell her Ward was being brainwashed, or controlled by an implant in his pupil.

But Skye looked down at her feet, not wanting to meet Asia's gaze. "It's...yea, it's true. All of it. Ward killed Koenig, he's HYDRA, he's Garrett's left hand. It's disgusting." When she closed her eyes, she was back on the Bus, being held captive by Ward, and Mike Peterson, who was still being controlled by those monsters. "But it's fine, I'm back now. And now, we can figure out how to stop them."

Asia couldn't help but admire her determination. She had just been through hell, an almost literal hell, and here she was, ready to fight again. It was a good quality. Asia wished she could say she had bounced back that quickly after she had found out about her oldest friend being a killer, but that would be a lie. She was still reeling from it, and would be for a long time. But she smiled, for the sake of her friend. She would keep up an optimistic front as long as she could.

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Later that evening, Asia sat beside Leo, bare feet dangling in the pool in front of them. She looked up at the cloudless sky and watching planes high above flying by, leaving trails in their wake. She wondered if any of them was the Bus, jetting away from them, with all their things on board. That also made her angry, knowing all her photos were flying away from her, being separated from her memories once more.

"Where do you think they are right now?" she asked him softly, not taking her eyes off of the disappearing vapor trails.

"Hopefully somewhere far from here," Leo murmured back, his foot brushing hers in the cool, blue water. Suddenly, he turned to look at her. "Asia, tell me you're not HYDRA."

"What?" Asia asked, almost laughing, but this didn't seem like the time nor the place. "Of course I'm not HDYRA, I could never." She looked over at him with a shy gaze. "Are you?"

"Bloody hell, of course not," he replied with a sigh. "I just needed to hear you say it." He shrugged sheepishly, looking down at their feet in the blue water. "I just don't want any disappointing news, I don't think I could bare it if I found out you were a traitor."

"Leo, you know me better than that. You're basically my best friend," Asia replied, bumping his ankle with her toes softly. "You have nothing to worry about with me."

"Good...I don't know what I would do..." He whispered softly. "If you went over to the dark side...I would...I'd..."

"Shh," Asia said, looking him in the eyes. "You don't need to worry about that, because it will never happen." She felt the urge to grab his hand, but couldn't bring herself to do it.

Instead, she set her hands next to his on the warm concrete, her pinky finger running parallel to his, dwarfed in the size in comparison. Still, even with that smallest touch, she felt a spark. As she looked back up at the open sky, she wondered if he could feel it too.

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The next morning, Skye, Asia, Jemma, and Leo all gathered in one of the small motel rooms, staring at the TV screen in front of them. Of course, as per usual, the news was somber. There had been a murder...an assassination really, by all accounts. And it was very apparent to everyone in the room that more of the hell unleashed from the Sandbox was running loose.

Skye sighed, typing rapidly away at her laptop. "I guess if drug lord assassinations are being carried out in Columbia, I should probably expand my search for the Bus to world wide. As if it weren't frustrating enough as is," she mumbled the last bit under her bed.

Asia looked over at her, trying to give her a sympathetic gaze. They were all frustrated at this point, and it was coming to affect their work. It affected their entire lives. They seemed to be running, but without direction.

A knock came from outside the door, and Jemma sprang up to open it, hoping to see Trip on the other side. He had been gone all morning. To her disappointment, it was only Coulson.

"I hate to interrupt your little party in here, but we've got something you're going to need to see." He said, motioning for them to follow into another one of the motel rooms they had rented out. They followed, and entered a nearly identical room, with two beds, heavy curtains, and most importantly, May, standing next a large whiteboard with different names and locations written all over it. "So, what do you think connects all these things?" Coulson asked them, tapping the end of a dry erase marker at the board.

Asia studied the board with scrutiny, but couldn't seem to pair together exactly what Coulson was implying. Several of them had connections yes, but one large idea? Maybe it was because it was so early in the morning, or because everything still felt so off, so out of wack.

Instead of waiting for a response, Coulson drew another large circle inside the names and locations. "Cybertek. They are the connecting factor in all of this." He stabbed the marker in the center after he finished writing the name. "Sense this whole thing began to unravel, Cybertek has been a leading factor, and we've just been pawns in their endgame. It's time we take the fight back to them. Thanks to Skye's quick thinking," he pointed over at the agent, "A trojan horse was placed in their system. Only problem is, we have to find a source to plug her flashdrive into. If we can access that, we can access everything they're doing."

"Garrett and Cybertek have been partners for years," May continued, "If we can get this plugged into Cybertek's system, we see everything he sees."

"So we're going to break into Cybertek?" Asia asked, raising an eyebrow.

"Yup. We've got no jurisdiction here though, no coverage, no backup. We're not going in as Agents of SHIELD," Coulson explained.

"We're vigilantes!" Leo said, his tone actually hinting at excitement. He turned to look over at Asia, raising his eyebrows.

She looked up at the board, then at her team. They were more than just vigilantes, more than just agents now. "We're renegades," she whispered softly.

Chapter Text

The break into Cybertek had gone well, even if it hadn't exactly gone as planned. They got the files they needed just....in a much more 'hard copy' format. Literally. Cybertek had not one single electronic filing system, everything was paper and manila folders. And it was taking for damn ever to go through all of them.

Back at the motel, the ragtag group of rogue agents sat around an umbrella table, looking through files.

"So, we've established that Garrett was the first Centipede solider. Way back in 1990, he started in the Deathlok program, and he was patient numero uno," Coulson said, setting down a folder with a sketch of Garrett in it, each clear layer of the sketch able to be flipped up and shower another inside layer of the man. In his left side was a small metal panel, within which was a crude for of Centipede serum.

Skye frowned, crossing her arms over her chest. "We've been going about this all wrong. Garrett doesn't want GH325 for his soldiers...he wants to inject himself, become a real live boy again. The added bonus is getting an army of super soldiers programmed to follow his order, not the expected outcome."

"So," Leo pipped up, sitting up straighter, "What if that's what is happening to Ward too? What if Garrett got in his mind somehow, or put an implant in his eye?" He sounded so hopeful it made Asia's heart break.

Jemma pressed her lips into a thin line. "Fitz, that isn't happening here," she murmured, patting his hand softly. "When are you going to stop believing he's innocent in all of this?"

"When I see the actual proof with my own eyes," he said defiantly, sinking back down in his chair. "We don't know all the facts. He could easily be brainwashed. Or forced."

Skye rolled her eyes and Asia shot her a sharp look. It wasn't easy for all of them to just automatically believe their trusted teammate had betrayed them. Just because Skye had no doubts, didn't mean they were all that way. "Fitz, Ward murders people," she said, ignoring Asia's glare. "I should have let Mike kill him when I had the chance but....I'm just too weak. I couldn't fucking do it."

Coulson looked over at her, his gaze softening. "You had compassion. It's admirable. Ward will get his day."

Asia couldn't help but hope, for all their sake, that he would.

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Leo, Jemma, and Asia were going out on a recon mission alone, while the others would try and break into this 'barbershop' they had been reading about. Seemed much more like a front for HYDRA operations, but there was only one way to know for sure. Jemma, Asia, and Leo were supposed to try and track down the Bus, see what recon they could do. Asia, additionally, would provide the muscle. It was going to be strictly recon based, she was there as a 'just in case' precaution.

Trip was helping Asia finish packing up, lending them some items from his Grandfather's Howling Commando days. Leo placed the dwarfs in a suitcase nearby and shut it with a tight click.

"Alright TicTac, you guys need anything else?" Trip asked, handing her a set of binoculars.

"I think we're good. Guys? You want anything else?" Asia turned to Leo and Jemma.

"Mmmm," Leo thought for a moment, "How about one of those little EMP devices?" He asked.

"Of course," Trip said, bending down to grab one out of the box, handing it over to the scientist, who pocketed it.

Jemma smiled to herself, watching her two favourite guys getting along. Asia caught the smile and gave her a pleased look, causing the other scientist to blush and look down at her feet. Asia knew how it felt to see two people she cared about getting along that way. It made her feel all warm and fuzzy inside, too.

Coulson walked into the hangar area, eyeing his agents. "Alright, Fitz, Simmons, Monroe, you know how this goes. Since we're not exactly welcome here, or anywhere, we have to do this off the books, and all on the ground. You know the locations to check, I've marked them on your maps. Do not engage, under any circumstances. Monroe, if by chance your teammates become in need of your more...lethal specialties, do not hesitate, get your teammates out of there, whatever it takes. And radio us the second you find the Bus."

All three agents nodded and Asia gave Coulson a small salute.

"We'll be safe, sir," Jemma affirmed, slinging a backpack over her shoulder and the other two agents did the same.

"You better be," Trip said, giving her a smirk, causing the scientist's pale cheek to flush red. "And TicTac, you keep her safe, ok?" he raised his eyebrows over at Asia, who nodded to confirm. She knew it was her job to make sure they all got home, and she was ready to do whatever it took to make sure that happened.

The three agents moved as a group to leave, and Asia glanced over her shoulder, waving back at the others. Never would she have imagined they wouldn't be returning as the trio they were departing. Never would she have imagined what was about to happen.

 

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Asia was actually kind of enjoying this mission. She had never been to Cuba before, and while the depth of what they were doing and why was not lost of her, to see the land and the culture was always something she could appreciate, even if most of what they were seeing was airports.

The one nice part about the Bus was its size, and that made it terribly difficult to hide. It wasnt long before the three located their plane.

The three of them sat inside a small, abandoned security shelter on the outskirts of the Abel Santa Maria airport, looking through the dusty windows as HYDRA members loaded their plane full of goods.

"Radio Coulson," Asia said to Simmons as she looked through the binoculars, trying to get a glimpse of Ward, but couldn't seem to find him. Perhaps he was already on board the plane. When you were right hand to the ultimate evil, maybe your plane-loading responsibilities were given to lower henchmen.

Jemma pulled the radio out of her bag and queued it up. "Coulson, we've found the Bus." She tried to contain her own excitment. This was a good thing a step forward.

"Really?" His voice crackles back. "That's great. Where are you?"

Leo grabbed the walkie from Jemma and replied. "Just outside Abel Santamaria. About three hours away from your location by car. They're loading up to leave, sir. Youll never make it here in time."

"Don't stay there," Coulson replied back in a serious tone. "Monroe, you hear me? You are to get your agents out of there. Meet us back at our spot. Do not engage."

"Copy that, sir," Leo replied for them all, then handed the walkie back to Jemma who clapped it shut and slid it into her pocket.

Jemma sighed, pushing her red hair back and out of her face, looking out the window at the Bus, before turning to look at Asia. She knew the agent could physically force her back to the car if she so desired. "Asia," she spoke up, looking the Ops agent in the eyes. "I know what Coulson said, but we cant just leave. If we let them go like this, then we might never catch them again..." She trailed off, looking back at their plane.

"I agree," Asia said, much to Jemma's surprise. "What if we didn't have to physically engage? What if we got a tracker on board some how?"

Leo looked at the Bus through his bionoculars. "Brilliant idea, what if we just send one of the dwarfs into the Bus, keep him as a little stow away?"

Jemma clapped her hands together. "Oh that's perfect!" She said enthusiastically. "We'll not only see where they are headed, but hear everything we hear."

"I'll go grab the suitcase from the car," Asia said with a grin. They weren't breaking the rules, not really. Bending them, was a more accurate idea. "You to stay her, I'll be back in a flash!" She said over her shoulder as she moved quickly towards the door.

When she turned to look ahead of herself again, turning to grab the door handle, she ran right into the muzzle of a gun. She froze, feeling the chill of the metal bite into her skin. Looking up, she followed the hands gripping the gun, along the muscular forarms, to look Grant Ward right in the eyes.

"Sorry Monroe," he said, a sad smile covering his lips, "But you're not going anywhere."

Chapter Text

As they were marched over to the Bus, escorted by armed guards, Asia was thinking over and over in her mind what she could have done differently, how she could have gotten them out. Maybe if they hadn't hesitated about leaving, they'd be safe and back in their rental car now, speeding back towards their meeting place.

And what if she hadnt been paying enough attention? She should have noticed someone approaching the little shelter they were hiding in. Either way, the wasn't really anything she could do about what had already happened. There was no going back. Now, she just had to figure out what exactly she could do to get them the hell out of there.

She studied all the super soldier guards who marched them across the airfield, watching the way they moved, looking for weaknesses. They moved like clockward, leaving no blind spots as they scanned the area over and over. Anything move she made now could result in her teammates getting hurt, or worse, killed.

When they marched the agents up the stairs of their own plane, she felt even angrier. This was their plane, their things. How dare anyone take it over. They had to get out of this...they just had to.

Ward lead them down the hallways of the Bus until they reached the commons area, the tan couches looking as familiar as always. He pushed the three agents to the front so they could see Garrett sitting on one of the couches, thumbing through a large book.

"Here they are, as requested," Ward said to Garrett, calling his attention over to the agents. Asia stared down at the man defiantly.

Garrett put a bookmark in his novel, and stood up, dusting off his khaki pants. "Well, well, well," he said, stepping forward to look at them all, studying the three agents very closely.

"We want our plane back," Leo spit out, staring up at the man. He felt disgusted to see him, standing here like he owned the place.

"Well since you asked so nicely," Garrett said with a laugh. "Ahh, to be so young and stupid," he chuckled, causing Asia to grit her teeth to keep from lashing out at him.

Garrett glanced over at her, laughing at the anger in her eyes. "And look what we have here! The little Widow in training. I expected so much more out of you, Monroe. Looks like you wouldnt make it through the Red Room after all."

This caused Asia's glower to grow, and she thought she might physically explode if it weren't for the soldier standing behind her with the gun pressed into the small of her back.

As Garrett was talking, Fitz reached carefully into his pocket, freezing when he saw Ward catch his movements.

"Whats he got in there?" Garrett asked, moving back over the the couch and sitting down, crossing his leg over his knee.

Ward moved forward, grabbing Leo's hand, turning it palm up so they could all see. Asia recognized it instantly, it was one of Trip's devices, a EMP disguised as a kids electric buzzer, the kind you wear on your hand to give people and little shock as you shake their hand.

"Looks like a dummy buzzer, a toy," Ward scoffed, letting go of Leo's hand, turning back to Garrett. Garrett rolled his eyes, leaning back into the couch.

"Yea, you know me. Always the joker," Leo said sarcastically, slamming his thumb down on the toggle switch, sending the mini EMP rippling through the room at waist level. The lights in the cabin sparked then went dim, and a ripple of blue electricity rocked through Garretts body.

The man clutched at his chest as the shocks rippled through his body, eyes rolling back in his head. When the shocks subsided, Garrett leaned over, breathing heavily, clutching his chest. "He blew an EMP!" He growled out, glaring at Ward, sweat dripping down his cheeks.

Ward darted out of the room, as Asia watched the situation, smiling slightly. Fitz had pulled a brilliant move. Moments later, Ward sprinted back into the room, carrying a silver suitcase with him. "Back away," He barked at the soldiers who were cautiously approaching Garrett, trying to figure out what was going wrong with him. He knelled down beside the couch, opening the case to reveal what looked like a very old, primitive computer, and slowly pulled out two cords, plugging them into Garrett's side. Asia nearly gagged.

Garrett winced in pain, writhing as Ward plugged in the cords. "I'm bloody glad I did it," Fitz spat at him. "You and your stupid plans are finished." He crossed his arms over his chest, not looking away from the man.

"You are fucking dead!" Garrett coughed out, wishing his could bash the boy's face in himself.

Leo scoffed, rolling his eyes. "No more than you," he replied. "You're going to waste away. You're done. Ward, leave him to die. You don't have to do what he says anymore." Asia could see the hope in his eyes and it made her heart sink a little.

But Ward wouldnt look at Fitz. Instead, he looked up at one of the guards. "Get them out of here," he said slowly and evenly.

As the guards lead them out of the commons and back down the halls, Asia began to plan. This would have to be their moment. They wouldn't have much of a chance if they couldn't get free now.

She glanced over her shoulder at Jemma, then up at her shoulder. In a quick movement, she hooked her foot over the other, tripping herself forward and letting out a yelp as she did so.

She fell into the body of her guard. "Watch it," he growled, but was unable to speak another word, as Asia threw her elbow up, smashing in his nose, blooding gushing out.

Meanwhile, Jemma and Leo shoved back the guard watching them, throwing a rolling chair in between them all as the three agents raced through the plane.

Asia's mind was racing. This was still their plane, but they couldn't take out everyone on board. What was the next step. Chutes. They needed to find the parachutes in the cargo bay.

"Cargo bay, lets go!" She said, pointing down the hall, letting Jemma and Leo lead the way so she could fend off anyone that followed.

"Oh, no! Ward!" Jemma screamed from ahead, turning around and running back the way they had came, Leo following close behind her.

Ward was coming for them. Garrett had set him after them. Asia knew what she was going to have to do.

As they fled down another hall, Asia stopped them at one of the cargo containers. "Guys get in. I can take him." She said, opening the door to the pod. Jemma quickly ran inside, hugging her sides, looking like she was about to cry.

"Asia, you can't!" Leo protested, looking frantically at her, his eyes wide. "He'll kill you."

Asia rolled her eyes and put on a smile for his benefit. "Common Leo, me? Ward doesnt have shit on me. I'll be fine." She glanced back down to the end of the hall. Ward was just rounding the hall, walking down towards them, stalking his prey. "Now, this isn't up for debate. Get in."

"Asia..." Leo pleaded again. "If you get hurt, I couldn't, i wouldn't-"

Asia cut him off, putting her hands on either side of his face and pulling his lips to hers. Electricity jolted through her entire body as their lips met. It was like she was on fire, and every bit of her that ever doubted was burnt away. She would have stayed in this moment forever if she could. But there wasn't time for that.

"I love you," she said softly, pushing him backwards into the pod, which Jemma quickly slammed shut.

"Asia, no!" Leo said, pounding on the glass window of the container, but Jemma wouldn't allow him to open the door back up.

Asia turned on her heel, looking back at Ward. She pressed the pressure points in her palms, letting the knives slide out of her wristlets. She cracked her neck then grinned. "Hey Ward, remember how I kicked your ass every day in Ops?" She called out, taunting him. His ego was always his biggest weakness.

"Oh I remember," Ward replied, pulling a knife from his belt and flipping it, slidding into an offensive stance. "This is going to go a little differently."

Chapter Text

Leo and Jemma watched in utter horror as the two ops agents outside fought, the fight much more like a dance than it was a battle, the give and take ebbing and flowing like a wave. Asia would land a good blow to Ward's face, only to take one to the side. Both were scrapped and bloody, but neither would stop moving, fighting.

Their blows were easily blocked, deflected, stopped, and so far neither had seemed to get a one up on the other. The two had trained so many times over the years that they knew each other's moves too well.

With a tumble forward, Asia swept Ward's feet from under him. If she could get him down, maybe she could keep him down and this could be done with.

But as he fell he lunged forward, landing a blow to her cheek that left her realing, head spinning, seeing stars. How had he connected so well? She didn't have time to think before her felt his hand yank her ponytail back sharply, causing pain to ripple over her skull. Neck exposed, she felt Ward place the cold blade against her skin.

"Now now, Monroe that's enough. Garrett wants you a prise, but if you struggle I'm not against killing you if I have to," Ward whispered into her ear, as he let go of her hair and pinned her arms behind her back. He steered her over to the cube, where Jemma and Leo were waiting behind the glass.

"Alright, FitzSimmons, I know you're logical. Think about this logically. Open the door, or she dies." Ward said coldly, making sure they could see the knife pressed to her neck.

Asia could see Leo fighting against Jemma's grasp, frantically trying to get the door open as he said over and over "You don't have to do this!" So she looked to Jemma instead, Jemma who was still rational, Jemma who looked back at her evenly even as she had tears in her eyes. And she gave her the smallest, tiniest shake of her head, no. No, do not open that damn door. So Jemma rooted herself in place, holding Leo back, refusing to break her gaze from Asia. It was comforting, really. She felt like if Ward slid the blade across her neck, she'd be ok. Itd all be ok.

"Fine then, have it your way." Ward growled. But instead of ending her life, Ward turned her around, moving them both towards a panel on the wall. "Monroe, now you have to watch your friends die. Are you happy about that?" Moving the blade from her neck, still restraining her arms painfully behind her back, he typed into the panel until it glowed green.

"Wait, Ward. No, please," Asia started to beg as she realized what he was doing. She had to stop this, there had to be a way. "I'll do anything. Whatever Garrett wants," but it was too late.

Ward turned her back around, now holding the blade in front of her neck, but not pressing it into her skin this time. "I'm sorry Monroe. You three made me resort to this." He said as Asia watched, horrified, as the pod began to slide back, falling out of the plane. Ward pushed her forward, holding her by her wrists as he dangled her, close to the edge of the opening, so she could see two of the people she loved fall deep into the ocean below. Tears began to stream down her face.

What could she do? What the hell could she even do?? A tiny thought entered her mind and in a split second she acted on it. With enough space between her and the knife, Asia slammed her head as hard as she possibly could against the open frame of the plane. She could feel a crack in her jaw, knowing she probably fractured it, as pain eruppted over her face. But more importantly, she could taste copper in her mouth as the tooth in the back of her right jaw came loose.

And she spit forward, hoping the tooth would land close to that damn pod. The tooth. That was her only backup. She, Natasha, and Clint all had one implanted. A failsafe. A break glass in case of emergency. A tracker which would only activate when removed. As her vision went black, all she could hope was that somehow, somewhere, someone was waiting for that emergency beacon to activate.

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Waking up,wrists tied together behind her back, in a chair wasn't the worst outcome Asia had expected, but it definitely wasn't the best either. It could have been much worse though, that much was certain. Her face still burned and her mouth stung, but time would heal that.

Slowly, the brunette opened her eyes, looking at her surroundings. She was in a polished, white laboratory, but not one she recognized. Everything was brand new as far as she could tell, and the various scientific tools were barely used, if at all. And it all smelled new, too new. She noted camera in each of the corners she could see, swiveling on angles. There was a chair positioned in front of her, but currently, it was empty. But it wouldn't stay that way for long.

"Well, well, well," she heard a voice that sent chills down her spine, as a door from behind her opened and shut. She would recognize that voice anywhere, a voice that brought immediate flashbacks to one of the worst experiences of her life.

Ian Quinn.

"Look what that cat dragged in," He smirked, sauntering to stand in front of her, setting a small leather sheath on a nearby table. "And what good timing. I didn't get to finish up with you last time. Now? Looks like I'll get my chance." He leaned forward, hands on his knees, studying her face closely. "I wonder how much of your skin doesn't have my scars on it." He mused out forward.

"Bite me," Asia growled, spitting onto his face, the white drool sliding down his cheek as his eyes flared with rage.

He grabbed the leather satchel on the table, flipping it open and pulling out a long, thin blade. "You're going to regret that, you ungrateful little bitch," he said, as slowly and evenly as possible. He didn't want her taking any enjoyment from bothering him. He flipped the blade over in his hands, eyeing the metal device, then his prey.

Asia had no choice but to sit helplessly and expect the worst. Frankly, she was more concerned about Leo and Jemma right now than she was with her own safety. She had no way of knowing if her plan had even worked. They could be dying at the bottom of the ocean. She might never see either of them, never see Leo again. And it was her fault, really. She couldn't help but believe this to be true. If she had been smarter before then got captured, if she had made a move when they were being escorted to the plane. If she had fought to kill Ward (because if she thought about it, honestly, she wasn't trying to kill him, just disable him) maybe they wouldn't have been dropped into the ocean to begin with. Somehow, she always messed up. She always caused those she cared about to get hurt.

And somehow, just like last time, Ian Quinn was the one about to deliver her punishments.

"Oh, I am going to enjoy this," Quinn muttered, cracking his knuckles, stepping towards Agent Monroe, looking down at her. Somehow, she still stared defiantly at him, not saying a word. He wanted her to beg for mercy, perhaps this time he would finally get to hear it. Last time hadn't ended quite the way she had hoped, but now he had more time to himself.

"Not so fast," Asia heard a familiar voice erupt from behind Quinn. Quinn whirled around, looking at the other entry to the lab. Ward stood there, arms crossed over his chest, eyes narrowed.

"Excuse me?" Quinn scoffed, glaring over at the man who had interrupted. "Didn't you want this? Did Garrett not order you to capture her?" He tossed his blade onto the table once more.

"You are not getting anywhere near Monroe," Ward said, slowly walking forward till he was standing toe to toe with Ian Quinn, looking him dead in the eye. "That's an order."

Quinn laughed, pushing his black hair back. "It's not like she's your teammate anymore. Who gives a shit what happens to her?" He had a point, Asia couldn't help but agree, even from the position she was in. It didn't make sense for Ward to stop him, to tell him to stay away from her. But she wasn't going to be ungrateful for his aid, at least in this instance.

As they faced off, Asia pulled at the ropes binding her wrists. They were thick, but not extremely so. Doable. She could figure a way out. Maybe if she was able to shake loose a bobby pin from her hair she'd eventually be able to slice through the ties. But that would be considering that she would even be able to catch it in her hands. There were lots of variables to consider in this instance, and none of them seemed positive. She looked over at the table, eyeing the blades Quinn had left there. Maybe if she were able to scoot her chair over, knock one on the ground, knock her own chair over onto to the ground....She let out a sigh, looking back at the two arguing HYDRA agents.

Ian Quinn turned around, glaring at Asia. "This isn't over. I'll be back for you once I get Garrett's permission." He stalked angrily out of the room, leaving his knives behind. Perfect.

Asia looked up at Ward, raising an eyebrow at him. He stepped towards her, crouching down in front of her, looking his old teammate in her large eyes. Even now, even tied up, she looked as defiant as ever.

"Why'd you do it?" She spat out, wanting to lash out at him, destroy him, for what he had done to Jemma and Leo. But she couldn't move, all she could do was lash out with her words. "Leo trusted you, up until the very end! How could you? Why would you throw them into the ocean? Why would you make me watch? Why would you let me live?" Her last words came out in a shaking tone, as the sob threatened to tear out of her throat and into the open. She could feel the tears burning in her eyes and tried to blink them away. How was it that she always made it through? The people she cared about always got hurt, always got the worst of it, and she survived, every time, stuck to live with the consequences. Every damn time. And now, here she was again, the man she loved at the bottom of the ocean, and it was her fault.

"I'm sorry, Monroe, it was Garrett's orders. Actually," he paused for a moment, "He told me to put them down. This was, they have a fighting chance. Isn't that better?" he almost looked....concerned? That couldn't be right. She wouldn't let it be right. How dare he have remorse or concern or anything for the people he betrayed. "And as for you, also Garrett's orders. He has...something special in mind for you. He won't tell me what. But I know for a damn fact it doesn't involve that piece of scum getting his filthy hands on you again."

"Why do you even care?" She asked him, narrowing her eyes. She wasn't about to fall for his games, not again. She felt like a fool for ever believing him last time. "We mean nothing to you." She tried to speak as coldheartedly as she possible could, but it was hard when the face looking back at her was one of her oldest friends.

"It's not that I don't care about you, all of you," Ward stood up, exasperated. "Don't you see what I'm saying? That's why I didn't kill Fitz and Simmons. That's why I'm keeping Quinn from you. I'm not loyal to HYDRA, I'm loyal to Garrett, there's a difference."

Asia scoffed, rolling her eyes. "Not to me, there's not." Ward was no longer the person she had known for all those years, no longer the student she had trained with. She hated to think that the friend she had cared so much about had been groomed since the time he had joined SHIELD, that all the time she had known him, he had been working behind the scenes for Garrett and HYDRA. It made her sick to her stomach. "You make me sick," she hissed out. She vowed to herself if it was the last thing she would do, she'd get out of here and see to it that Ward was put in a cell deep, deep down as he could go.

"You don't have to believe me, Asia," Ward sighed, shaking his head. "But even through all of this, I never wanted any of you to get hurt." Asia couldn't help but roll her eyes. Everything that came off his lips was one big lie. He did it so effortlessly, he didn't even care. "Now, I'm sorry, but you're not going to like what comes next, but at least it won't be as bad as it would be with Quinn."

"What do you mea-" Asia started to ask, when Ward pulled back his arm and slammed a fist to her face. Everything went as black as night, as black as she imaged the bottom of the sea might be.

Chapter Text

Everything was blurry for a second when Asia awoke. And her right eye was most certainly swollen. She blinked a few times to get things cleared and found herself in the same room as before. This time, Ward and Garrett stood in front of her, studying her.

"Well look here, Sleeping Beauty has finally woken up," Garrett said with a maniacal laugh. He looked...off. Eyes a little wider than usual, slightly bloodshot. "So my boy Ward here says that Ian Quinn is off limits when it comes to you. But that doesn't make me off limits. Because Ward answers to me."

Garrett stepped forward squishing her cheeks between one of his hands, forcing her to look up at him. "And there are a few things I've found myself wanting to know. A few things you're going to tell me. Maybe in turn I'll tell you the treat I've been saving just for you Agent Monroe," he grinned widely down at her.

Asia shook her head back and forth, wiggling out of the grasp of his hand. "I'm not telling you anything." She replied quickly back.

"Ooh you see, Asia, that's where you're quite wrong!" Garrett exclaimed. "Otherwise, how else will you find out the real fate of your long lost sister?"

Asia froze, everything around her slowing as if someone had stopped time itself. She looked up at Garrett, blinking slowly. There was no way he could know about America. Mer. Unless....

"What are you talking about?" She asked, slowly and evenly. The moment she let the words leave her mouth, she was back in her childhood home, hiding in that cupboard. She could see it all, as if she were there. She tried to remember the faces of the HYDRA members storming her home. She was told they were some of the last remaining agents alive. Were they? Was Garrett among them, in her home? How else could he have known? She rarely told anyone about her past, especially about Mer....

Garrett laughed again. "Oh you silly, silly thing. I was there, Damnit!" Suddenly, out of nowhere, he lashed forward, smacking her across the face, turning her cheek pink with the print of his hand. "You must be dumber than they all think. Dont you remember anything? I took your sister, I helped kill your parents, and I let you live. You might not be so lucky this time."

Without her own choosing, tears started to slip down her cheeks. She had been looking all her life for her sister, for the people who broke her family, and here was one of her parent's murderers, standing right in front of her. He had been here all along, and she had never known. She should have known some how.

The agent could feel herself unraveling a little bit at the seams, she could feel herself starting to shatter. She had made so many mistakes, mistakes with unforgivable consequences. The people she cared for always got hurt, and it was always, always her fault. She needed to make it stop, somehow, someway. She needed to stop this shithole of a man, and then stop herself.

"Where is she?" She asked slowly, hissing out her words. She whipped her head to face Ward. "How could you?" She seethed. "He killed my family, how dare you pretend to be my friend?"

Ward threw up his hands in a surrender fashion. "I didnt know!" He said in protest. Asia didnt know if she believed him or not. She narrowed her eyes, giving him the angriest glare she could manage.

Suddenly, Garrett firmly gripped her cheeks again, wrenching her head back to look back at him once more. "You're not talking to Grant Ward right now, you're talking to me. You'll do well to remember as such," he hissed, staring her evenly in the eyes. Asia noticed the vesicles in his eyeballs were popping, blood rippling over the whites of his eyes. Something was very, very wrong with him.

"Now, as I was saying, you sister," Garrett said, standing up straight once more and releasing her face from his grip."She didn't die all those years ago as I told SHIELD she did. They believed everything I said, ate every little detail right out of my hand. Meanwhile, she was being brought up as a little HYDRA prodigy. Cute, isn't it? Both of you raised to be the best in your field? Neither knowing the other was alive, or, in her case, even existed? She remembers nothing of you, Agent Monroe. Wouldn't believe she had a sister even if I gave her photo proof. And right now, she's busy training under the highest of HYDRA to fulfill her destiny."

"Her destiny?" Asia managed to say, her words coming out quivering like scared children. He had her sister. What if she was here? Right now?

"You don't even know!" Garrett exclaimed. "That's even better. Fucking rich."

Asia couldn't look at him. He was out of control. She turned back to look at Ward once more. "Where is my sister?" She asked him as evenly as possible, looking up at her former teammate. He looked so guilty, so upset, in the instance.

"I don't know, Asia, I swear. I had no idea," he said quietly, glancing from her to Garrett. His boss was practically quivering with either excitement or rage. He couldn't really tell the difference anymore.

"I told you, you're not talking to him," Garrett lashed forward, smacking her hard again across the face. "Just for that," he turned to Ward. "Go fetch Quinn." A wicked smirk crossed his cracked lips.

"Quinn? No. Hell no. You said he wouldn't get anywhere near her," Ward whispered to him, looking back down at Asia with concern on his face.

"I don't care what I said, I changed my mind. Go get him," Garrett ordered, pointing at the door before turning back to Asia and Ward marched angrily out of the Lab. "Now, since you've gone and broken the rules again, you're being punished. Quinn gets to use his toys on you again, for a little while. We have a big meeting later, so try and keep the screaming to a minimum when our guests are here. And, of course, tell Quinn everything, and I mean everything, you know about Coulson's plans."

Asia swallowed hard, watching Garrett turn and leave, looking over at the table where Quinn's knives still sat. This was going to end very, very badly.

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Asia gritted her teeth but refused to scream as Quinn drug his blade across the flesh of her upper arm, down towards her elbow. His torture techniques had been going on for an hour or so now, Asia had lost track of the time. All she could focus on was not breaking, not telling him about her team, where they were, what they were planning. Definitely wasn't going to tell him they had no supplies at all. She would keep it all in if she died for it, here and now.

"Look at all these pretty scars I left behind," Quinn mused, running a finger through the blood on her arm, touching one of her old marks, then lifting up his finger, licking the blood off. Asia thought she might be sick. "Wouldn't it be fun if I opened them all up again? Bet you would tell me all your little secrets then." Asia didn't respond. She couldn't respond. Her arms and legs were numb from the cuts, her eye swollen shut from where Ward had punched her, blood soaked her clothes. She was tired, hot, hurt. She was nearing her breaking point but she wouldn't give in.

She didn't want him to see he had made her weak. If he figured that much out, she would be done fore. Afterall, one can only take torture for so long.

Quinn sighed, looking down at his little masterpiece. "You're lucky, you know. I've got business to attend to. I'm in charge of leading some of the highest ranking officers in the military around this place, convincing them to buy into the super soldier program. It's going to be really something, when we get military funding." He sighed, leaning forward and running the blade vertically down her shin. "So for now, this is all you are going to get. But I'll be back later." He stood up, wiping his knife blade off on a cloth and leaving it on the table. As he moved to exit the Lab, he stopped in the doorway, turning back to look at her one last time. "And remember, when the officers tour the Lab, please, watch your language."

With that, he left the room, and Asia finally let the tears slip down her face.

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As Jemma broke the surface of the ocean, hauling Fitz along with her, the last thing she expected to see was a helicopter, hovering nearby, moving towards her. And she certainly hadn't expected to see Director Fury, a man she thought to be dead, leaning out the helicopter, a pleased grin on his face as he held a hand out to her.

She hadn't expected to wake up lying down on a bed inside a small containment chamber made of glass , jumbling about in the bird, whirring as loud as could be. She wasn't expecting to be alive, much less saved. She took a brief moment, taking in the sights around her. She was still wearing her same clothes, but they were dried. She had bandages on her head and arms, but altogether felt alright. She glanced to her right and saw Director Fury, sitting on a small chair, watching her.

"You're in a decompression chamber," He explained. "We're getting you back to dry land, back to a SHIELD safehouse." He had to speak loud over the sound of whatever piece of aviation they were inside.

"I...we thought you were dead," she replied, her voice coming out much more crackily than she expected. She quickly cleared her throat. "They told us...they said you never made it out of New York."

"Good, we needed it to be that way," Fury said with a nod. "We knew the wolves hiding among the herd would really show their faces if they thought I was truly gone. Looks like it worked out."

"And Fitz?" Jemma asked trying to prop herself up. Fury motioned her to stay laying down.

"Don't move, you're still healing up from that drop. He's safe, for now. We have a full medical team working on him. We got to you just in the nick of time, I think. He was without oxygen for a very long while. But, because of your brilliant ideas, and your safe swimming, you saved him." Fury explained, resting a hand on top of the chamber, giving her a small, rare smile. "You did good, Agent Simmons, you did very very good."

"I have to ask," Jemma spoke again, "How on earth did you find us? I thought we were going to die out there."

Fury sighed, leaning back in his chair. "A small device was ejected into the water after you were dropped. A small tracking device in the shape of a tooth. It was a fail-safe device, one implicated by the members of Strike Team Delta, for their members alone, in case of emergency. Someone has been waiting at a computer for a long time to see the screen light up, and at the same time, hoping it never would. Agent Monroe had this device implanted in her mouth, and somehow she was able to remove it and toss it into the ocean after you. We were able to follow that beacon right to your location, or at least, damn close."

"Asia...she..she saved us?" Jemma asked, brow furrowing. "Did you...were you able to find her, too?"

Fury shook his head, looking down at his hands. "We haven't yet. We've been unable to find her or the plane's location. But that doesn't mean we've stopped trying."

Jemma let out a shaky sigh. "I think I'd like to be alone for a bit now," she said, choking back her own tears. Fury gave her a solemn nod, and after he had left the cargo area, she let out a loud sob.

Chapter Text

As the door opened, Asia looked up, her head heavy. She could feel her own bloodloss trying to slow her down. It wasn't as bad as last time, but it was definitely affecting her. In front of her stood five stunned generals, each in their own military attire. She couldn't tell if they were all from the United States or not. She didn't recognize any of them, as she had hoped she might. They stared at her, open mouthed, as they looked at the thin girl, tangled hair, sitting with her hands bound behind her back, dried blood covering her skin, her right eye purple with the wound of a black eye. She looked absolutely defeated. And yet, without saying a word, she simply stared back at them, like a caged animal.

"What the hell is going on here?" one of the generals asked, a man with a sharp blue uniform and salt and pepper hair. The girl reminded him of his daughter. They must have been near the same age.

Ian Quinn smirked, walking near Asia and flaring his hand out, as if she were a showcase. "This is an example of what we can do to your enemies. This agent, one of the finest in her field, is an example of what we will do if anyone betrays you or goes against you. Your security is of our utmost priority."

Asia stared up at the men, hoping one of them would say something, do something. But she didn't speak, she simply waited. One of them had to be a good man, they were the damn military leaders. But as Ian lead them out of the room, not a single one turned back to look at her. Asia sighed, glancing over at the table where the knives still lay. She was going to have to implement the idea she had before. And it was going to suck.

Slowly, carefully, she began thrusting forward in attempt to slide the chair over to the table. It was a slow, agonizing process, each small movement of the table forward causing one of her wounds to scream in pain. But she didn't make a sound, she didn't cry out. She just slowly, ever so carefully, slid herself forward, inch by inch, until her head was at table level and her shoulder was pressing into the metal of the lab table. Turning her head to the side, she pressed it against the cold metal of the table and pushed her head against the blade, pushing it slowly towards the edge of the counter until it clattered to the floor.

She looked down at the knife, taking a deep breath. The next part would be the worst. She would have nothing to catch herself, she would hit the ground full force. And what would she do then? After she was lying there on the floor, slithering around, trying to get her hands on the blade without being able to actually see it? Where would she go next? How would she find her team? No one knew she was here. She had used her one option of survival, of someone finding her, to attempt to save the life of the man she loved. They wouldn't be waiting at the designated meeting place, not any more. They had been missing for far too long. So either no one was coming for her, or no one even knew to look.

So was there even a point? She could easily just get captured again on her way out. She sighed, staring for a moment. How easy it would be, to just give up. But with a lurch forward and a small grunt, Asia toppled her chair over sideways. She landed with a loud bang, her shoulder screaming out in pain. She bit her lower lip to keep from crying out. Her entire body stung like she was on fire, but she had to keep going. Moving her hands behind her, she stretched her fingers, trying to feel the smooth metal of the blade. It took longer than she wanted, longer than she should have been down for. She needed to get up and out.

Finally, she felt the blade in her hands, and quickly maneuvered it so she could slowly and deliberately slide the blade against her bindings. It was hard work. Tough work. But she could feel herself making headway against the ropes. With fervor, she moved the blade until finally, finally, the ropes snapped and she had sweet release. She quickly shoved the chair away from her and hugged her arms to her chest. Oh god it felt good to have them in front of her instead of pinned behind.

Shakily, she stood up, looking around the room. She grabbed the knife and tucked it into her belt, just in case. Other than herself, the Lab was utterly desolate of just about everything. There were microscopes and beakers but nothing she could use to defend herself beside the knife which had once been used on her as a weapon. She sighed, reached her sore arms back behind her and redid her ponytail. It felt nice to have something fixed and done right. She closed her eyes for a second, breathed in. Fitz would be fine. Her team would be fine. She would get out of here, she would find them. She breathed out. She opened her eyes. And she prepared to fight.

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Looking through the glass doors of the Lab, she took a moment, looking out into the tech bay beyond. It was a large, circular room, two stories, with a balcony running around the second story. A large generator ran floor to ceiling in the center of the room, and the walls were lined with flashing computer components. Garrett was powering something, and it was something big.

And standing in this giant room was Coulson. Oh God, what a sight to see. And beside him, Fury, each holding guns. Across the room from them was Garrett, and she could feel her blood starting to boil. She wanted to absolutely obliterate him. She wanted the information about her sister. She wanted everything.

So without a second thought, she charged out, dashing at Garrett. She launched herself into the air, wrapping her legs around Garrett's neck and bringing her fists down on his head over and over. Even though he was going slightly crazy, he was still human after all. He couldn't be immune to everything.

But in a flash, Garrett whipped her off his shoulders and tossed her across the room, where she landed at Coulson's feet, as if she were nothing but a ragdoll. But when she looked up, and saw Coulson and Fury looking down at her, extending hands, she barely felt any of the pain.

"Hello boys," she said, climbing to her feet and brushing back some loose strands of hair, "What took you so long? The party's almost over."

Coulson smirked, "Well, we didn't want to come without any party favours," he joked, handing her a handgun. She wanted to hug him, but now was not the time.

"Director," she said, turning to Fury with a smile. "I heard you were dead."

"That was the plan," he said with a nod. "Heard you were too, for a bit there."

Asia shrugged, "Alive and beating, it seems."

"When we followed your tracker to the ocean we thought you drowned out there," Fury said, looking at her with an even gaze. "And to our surprise, we found two, very alive scientists, instead." Asia felt tears at the corners of her eyes, and looked away to hide them. They were safe. She had saved them. As much as she wanted to cry her tears of happiness, there was no time for that now. They had to take care of Garrett.

"He seems to have gone a little crazy," Coulson said, nodding towards Garrett, whose eyes were practically bulging out of their sockets. She could see the veins rippling across his forehead and cringed.

"Just a bit," she muttered back.

"Nothing we've worked on him seems to work, and we've tried some pretty big guns," Fury said, gesturing to a large, mechanized rifle glowing yellow which lay on the ground behind them.

"Ward injected him with something. I think it was the same formula used...." she turned to Coulson. "Used on you and Skye. I haven't interacted with him much sense, but he seemed absolutely out of it when I did."

Garrett was beckoning towards a door, but none of the agents saw anything. What was he even doing, at this point? After a few moments, Mike Peterson walked into the room, decked out in centipede soldier gear. Asia frowned. As good as they were, the odds were not looking in their favour.

Garrett sighed loudly, clapping his hands together. "Well, well, WELL! Now that the gangs all here, we can really get things cooking. Phil, I have to say I'm surprised you're trying to stop me. I don't blame you, Fury, or you, Monroe, but Phil, really? Haven't you seen the writing on the wall yet? We are blood brothers after all. We could do this together."

"I really don't see that ever happening, Garrett," Phil said dryly. "You've gone a bit too far off the deep end for my tastes."

"Pity," Garrett replied, turning towards Mike. "You know what happens next."

Slowly, Mike turned to face the three SHIELD agents, raising his arm, rocket launcher attached and all, up to aim at them. The inside was glowing red, heating up and getting ready to fire.

Asia threw her hands up in surrender. "Mike, please, don't. We're your friends. Remember? We're teammates." she called out, hoping there was some way she could get through to him.

Meanwhile, Coulson tried to speak to Garrett. "Garrett, one thing you never learned, one thing Fury was always trying to teach, and you just didn't get it. You are so self centered that you couldn't get it through that thick dome of yours. That's why we're always going to win. That's why HYDRA will always lose."

As he was speaking, Asia noticed a change in Mike. His eyes began to focus on something different. He started to turn away from them, turn towards Garrett.

"Because SHIELD is a team, SHIELD works together, SHIELD is not about one person, it's about being a part of a whole." Coulson said with a smirk. And then, suddenly, Mike fired, his rocket tearing into the side of Garret's skull. The man flew over, colliding with the ground.

Mike walked over to the limp man, standing over him. In one quick motion, he lifted up his left foot and smashed it down on Garret's head, caused skin, and blood, and brains to fly everywhere. He turned and looked back at the agents, with a solemn look on his face. It was over, it was done.

Chapter Text

Coulson was forcing Asia to the hospital, regardless of her protests. If she was being truthful to herself, it was probably a good idea anyways. She had lost a lot of blood, something in her shoulder still felt wrong, and her head was on fire. And, she would be able to see Leo. That was her one condition. That when Fury escorted her via helicopter to the hospital, that it be the same one Leo Fitz was residing in.

It wasn't a hard bargain to strike. When they lifted off out of whatever deranged base Garrett had been holding her captive in, she tucked herself into her seat, wrapped up in a SHIELD issue blanket, and fell into a deep sleep. It felt so good to sleep without worry for a moment.

When she woke, she was in a hospital bed, an IV inserted into her arm. Her head felt like a pound of bricks, and she could feel a sling on her shoulder. And stitches. Stitches that burned like beestings. They must have taken care of her while she was passed out. Fury must have seen to it. And somewhere, inside this hospital she was residing in, was Leopold Fitz. She tried to sit up and winced in pain.

A nurse rushed into the room right as Asia was propping herself into a sitting position. "Oh goodness," he said, eyes widening in shock. "You're awake!" He moved over to the bedside, setting a clipboard on the table beside her. "We certainly didn't think you'd be awake by now. How are you feeling?"

"Fine," Asia muttered back, her voice cracking. "I need to ask you about another patient here I...I need to be taken to him, please," she said, trying to sound as if she had authority.

The nurse stopped, looking back at her charts. "I'm not sure that's a good idea right now. We've just set all your stitches a bit ago, I would hate for them to open back up. And you've had a pretty rough go. Your body is exhausted and has been very physically abused."

Asia sat up straighter, looking the man in the eyes. "I'm not going to run around, I'm not going to overexert myself. I just need to see patient Leo Fitz right now. And I think you know who I am, and I think you know that if you tried, you wouldn't be able to stop me." she said slowly and evenly. She really didn't want to hurt the guy, he seemed nice and dedicated to his job. But she needed to see Leo, to know he was alright. If not...she could never forgive herself.

The nurse looked at her, then sighed. "Fine. But you don't tell anyone I helped you with this." He said, holding out his arm so she could get out of bed. Using his aid, she stood up.

Looking down at herself, she saw she was still is some gaudy hospital gown. "Um...where did my clothes wind up?" she asked. She wasn't about to parade around the building with her butt hanging out. That would be just too ridiculously embarrassing for her to handle.

"Oh here," the nurse said, moving over to a chair in the corner of the room and picking them up. "Your coworkers sent some new things over for you, clean stuff, looks pretty comfortable." He handed the clothes over to her, then grabbed her wrist and carefully removed her IV. "Alright, I'll give you a moment to change, I'll be right outside when you're ready."

Asia set the clothes down and laid them out in front of her, looking at what she had been left. It was nothing much, a pair of her own leggings and a SHIELD issue zipup, and one of her tanktops. Skye must have gone to her bunk and collected her clothes for her. She smiled a little at the thought and carefully began to dress herself, moving each bit of fabric ever so carefully so as not to hurt her stitches that covered her body like a patchwork quilt. At least this way she could cover most of them up. She would have to remember to run the scars with honey once the wounds were healed up. Instead of putting her arms through the jacket, due to her sling, she just left it hanging over her shoulders like a protective blanket.

When she was finally ready, she stepped out of the small hospital room and met the nurse waiting patiently outside. "Take me to him, please," she said softly, not able to look the man in the eye now. All she wanted in the world was to see Leo. All she could see when she pictured him was the look on his face when he fell out of that plane and it made her wanted to implode.

As he lead her down the halls of the hospital, Asia couldn't help but notice how white and pristine and clean everything was. It made her skin itch in an indescribable way, reminding her of the place she had just been kept captive. She took a few deep breaths. She wouldn't bring herself back to that place, she wouldn't allow herself to remember that pain, that utter agony, the feeling of depletion. She would wipe it from her memory. She could feel the goosebumps snaking their way up her arms but ignored the feeling.

Finally, the nurse stopped them in front of a large wooden door, which was firmly shut. "Here we are," he said, motioning towards the door. "He was touch and go for a while, in intensive care. His brain was without oxygen for a long time, which could cause severe long term damage, but he has stabilized for now. You can go in. Just, you know, be careful. I'll be back in a little bit to make sure his medications are properly administered, but you have some time now."

Asia turned to look at the blonde man, this nurse she had barely met, barely knew, who had decided to help her in her time of need regardless. "Thank you," she said earnestly, before turning back to look at that heavy wooden door, standing ominously in front of her. What if he hated her? What if he didn't feel the love back? What if he was angry at her, for not fighting harder? For not killing Ward? For him getting dropped into the ocean? There were so many possible negative outcomes. But she couldn't bare to not see him. She needed to know he was okay.

So she opened that damn door.

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If she wasn't broken before, seeing Leo lying there in that damn bed surely did it. He was lying there, in that bed, facing the opposite wall and staring at a small TV mounted there, not moving, barely blinking. He had tubes and wires connected to various parts of his body, heavily monitoring his various vitals. When he heard her walk in, he turned, ever so slowly, and looked at her, but didn't speak a word.

Quietly, Asia walked to his bedside, sitting on the chair which was there. He looked at her and still didn't speak, but ever so slowly, he flipped his right hand over and wiggled his fingers for her to place her hand in his. She did so, giving his hand a gentle squeeze. He kept looking at her, his eyes roaming over her entire body, stopping on some of her stitches, but still he didn't speak.

With her other hand, she carefully grabbed his chart off the bedside table, reading some of the key notes, like hypoxia. "Oh God, Leo, I'm so sorry," she said, setting the chart back down. She felt the salty tears flood her eyes, but she couldn't stop them. "It's all my fault, all of this," she sobbed, looking up at the ceiling. "I just wish I could've...Oh God, I'm sorry. Say something, please, anything. I...I can't stand the thought of you hating me for all of this, but I wouldn't blame you if you did. I just need to know you're going to be ok. Please."

"He can't speak," can a voice abruptly from the door. Looking over her shoulder, she saw the blonde nurse again.

Quickly she removed her hand from Leo's and began to fiercely wipe away her tears. "What do you mean he can't talk?" She asked, quietly, her voice cracking as she spoke.

"Well, he can't for now. The severe hypoxia he experienced while under the ocean for so long has caused some problems with the functions of his brain. It's expected over time, with practice, possibly speech therapy, he'll regain his ability to speak fully. But there are no guarantees. As the weeks go, we'll see what else the hypoxia caused and we'll train his recovery to remedy those things."

She turned back to look at Leo, who still wasn't speaking, couldn't speak. He looked back at her and opened his mouth, but no words came out. Placing her hand back in his tightly, she stayed there, at his side, until he fell asleep.

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The quinnjet Fury sent for her landed shortly after the Bus did, and Asia couldn't wait to get off the plane and over to her team. She needed to see everyone, more than ever now. She wanted to make sure they were all okay, and then she could get back to Leo. As the ramp to the quinnjet lowered, Asia jogged off and made her way over to the Bus.

When she peeked her head around the lowered ramp, Skye was giving Jemma a big squeeze. She must have just gotten back as well, though from where, Asia was unsure. Everyone looked up as they heard her footsteps.

"Asia, you're alright!" Skye squealed, practically leaping forward and yanking her into a hug.

"Oh gosh, careful," Asia breathed, "Watch the arm," she nodded toward it, still in its sling. She would be fully healed soon and wouldn't need it much longer. But it didn't stop her from hugging Skye back.

"We thought we lost you, it was the worst," Skye whispered in her ear, frowning.

"Lost? Me? Never," Asia replied with a smile.

After they released each other from the hug, Jemma stepped up to her, reaching out and grasping both of her hands. "Director Fury...he told me what you did for us, how you had that tracking device, the fail safe. I....it was stupid and dumb and reckless of you and--" she wrapped Asia in the tightest hug possible, something Asia never expected from Jemma Simmons. "And I am so grateful Fitz has someone like you in his life." The tears slid down her pale face. "I can't imagine what you had to endure, captured by them. If there is anything I can do, anything at all, you come to me, ok?"

Asia had never heard the girl speak so earnestly towards her before, so powerfully. "Of course," she replied with a nod, hugging her back quickly. "Thank you for making sure Leo got out safely," she whispered into her ear, before pulling away. It was good to be back with her team, even if they were starting over, in a new base, with new rules, but god, it was good to be home.

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When Asia opened the door to the room Coulson had told her had her name written all over it, she was happy to see her things from her bunk of the Bus had been moved there. Her clothes hung in the closet, and her pictures hung on the brick walls. It was nice, comforting. On the large bed, a small package sat, wrapped in brown paper and tied with a string.

Asia moved to the bed and grabbed the package, looking at the note attached to it.

Asia, the note read, We're glad to hear you're okay. We heard you might need a new jacket. Keep your head up, stay strong, you'll always be our little renegade. -C&N

Asia smiled to herself after reading the note, then carefully unwrapped the paper. Inside was a new, combat issue jacket. There were small, red letter 'D's embroidered on the cuff of each sleeve, and it zipped up diagonally across her front. There was a heavy black hood, and a small SHIELD eagle over the heart. Carefully, the agent slipped on her jacket.

Looking into the mirror, she stared herself down. She was so different from the year ago when she had came to this team, and so much had happened, so many things that were out of control. She felt like things, even though they were starting to be normal again, were still slowly, slowly unraveling. There were just so many things that she felt responsible, things she could have put a stop to. It was in that moment that she decided she would. She zipped her jacket up and flipped the hood up and admired how it fit. Clint and Natasha had always known her too well. With their help, she was going to make changes. She was going to hunt the people responsible for breaking her team. She wasn't going to let a single HYDRA agent get out alive. She was going to really become a renegade. No....not a renegade, she was going to become THE Renegade.

 

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I am an Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. The Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement, and Logistics Division. I have worked, trained, loved, lost. I have been shot more times than I can count. And I have killed. I am a tactical, armed member of the Ops division. I have trained with Strike Team Delta. I am a member of Agent Coulson’s team. I fought against Agent Ward, my best friend. I saw the love of my life get dropped from a box into the ocean and couldn’t hear anything but my own screams. I have been tortured, burned, destroyed. But from the ashes, I have risen. I am not just a girl, I am not just an Agent, I am something more.

I’m the Renegade.