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Agents of SHIELD fic: Five Conversations with Fitz (1/1)

September 15th, 2014 (09:14 pm)
anxious

feeling: anxious

Title: Five Conversations with Fitz

Disclaimer: I do not own Agents of SHIELD.

A/N: Set after the finale, purely speculative and not based on any spoilers. Beta thanks go lena7142. Fits my coma square for hc_bingo. My card is here.

Summary: Fitz is in a coma; the team holds a vigil, each in their own way.



-o-

1. Skye.

Medical stuff makes her nervous, and it always has. She tells herself it’s only natural, given that she was shot twice in the stomach and came really close to dying. Some kind of post traumatic stress wouldn’t be unexpected, but that’s sort of a convenient excuse.

Skye’s never liked medical things, just like she’s never liked any type of bureaucratic establishment. There are rules and guidelines, and everything is monetized. The system is too big, making it way too easy for things to slip through the cracks.

Too easy for people to slip through the cracks.

And Skye’s never wanted to know, in all honesty. She believes in truth and the freedom of ideas. She’s spent her life hacking into closed systems because she believed there was no room for secrets. She’s wanted to understand, to learn, to know. If there’s a code, she’s wanted to hack it.

But not the body. Skye’s good with computers; she’s good with language. Machines are hard wired, which makes them beautifully complex and yet still somehow simple. The human body, however -- it’s natural, it’s organic. It’s born, and it grows and it evolves. She can’t hack that, and honestly, she can’t even understand it.

She’s tried, too. Skye’s spent her life trying to figure out who she is and where she comes from. Her heart pumps, and blood runs through her veins, but Skye can’t get any answers from that. Her own DNA has always been a mystery to her, and she can hack into anything except what’s under her own skin.

Now, with an alien drug in her system and secrets about her family lurking around every bend but still just out of reach, Skye doesn’t want to admit that she’s starting to get a little scared.

Then again, Skye doesn’t want to admit a lot of things these days. Like how she almost fell in love with a murderer. Like how the organization she counted on as family fell apart. Like how everything she thought she knew was gone.

Like how Fitz is in a coma and may never wake up again.

At his bedside, she leans back in her chair and taps the keys on her laptop. She alternates between doing actual work -- Coulson wants her to start building a mainframe -- and playing solitaire.

On the bed, Fitz doesn’t move.

He’s been like this for a week now. Once the base was established, Koenig had agreed to transfer Fitz to the medical bay at Coulson’s request. Since Coulson’s Director now, it’s not like Koenig had had much choice.

“Pretty lucky,” Skye muses. “They let you in here without a lanyard. This Koenig’s crazier than the other one.”

Fitz is stable; at least that’s what Jemma says. There’s no actual treatment; they just have to keep him comfortable, turning him several times a day and changing the IV. Jemma’s talking about a feeding tube, but Skye chooses to not think about that.

“But it’s not so bad,” Skye says. “At least this one’s not in the snow.”

He looks a little like he’s sleeping, but he’s too still and too flat. His breathing is even, but he doesn’t even twitch.

Skye swallows. “There’s a nice lab here,” she continues. “I mean, it looks nice. I don’t really know much about it, I guess.”

She falters, looking back at her computer screen while Fitz sleeps on. It’s hard to think about, how Fitz was the one who believed in Ward. He was the one who wanted to give Ward a second chance.

And this is what Ward did with that chance.

Blowing out a slow breath, Skye tries to smile. “I admit, I want to get back in the air, though,” she says. “I got kind of used to that. It feels safer up that high.”

That’s stupid, of course, but Skye doesn’t care. And she thinks maybe Fitz would understand.

Her eyes pass over his face, where his features are slack and his cheeks are starting to look sunken.

She swears, putting her computer to the side. She sits forward and reaches for Fitz’s hand. It’s cool, and his fingers lie limp in hers. “I should have killed him,” she says, her emotions coloring her voice. “If I could go back, if I could have that moment again, I would kill him. I know Coulson says compassion is harder, but that doesn’t always make it right. This shouldn’t have happened, Fitz. This shouldn’t have--”

Her voice breaks and she looks away. A tear burns down her cheek, and she brushes it away with a shake of her head. She joined SHIELD for the sake of truth. She stayed because it became her family.

Now, after everything, she’ll be a part of the rebirth to protect that family.

Jaw tight, she lifts her eyes again and gives Fitz’s hand a squeeze. “You know, I’m going to talk to Koenig about getting you that lanyard sooner rather than later,” she says. “Somehow, I think you’ve earned it.”

2. May.

In a lot of ways, May doesn’t entirely see the point. Fitz is in a coma; more than that, he has decreased brain activity. He has no sense of his surroundings; he can’t tell who comes and goes. He can’t hear their voices. There’s still a chance Fitz might come back to them, but May knows there’s nothing they can do or say that will affect his chances.

And it’s not like she and Fitz really have much in common. They’re not exactly friends, even if they are family. But he talks too much, and she talks too little, and she can’t forget that look on his face when she’d tried to take him down with an ICER. She and Leo Fitz have zero life experiences in common, and their skills sets are entirely distinct.

Even so, May doesn’t resent taking turns with him. It’s nothing they’ve planned, but if no one else shows up, Simmons seems to never leave. She’s running herself ragged, falling apart in all the quiet, horrible ways May knows too well. It’s not just that she needs a good night’s sleep and a warm meal.

No, Simmons needs a lot more than that.

May can’t provide much assistance in that regard, but she can take her turn with Fitz. It’s a small, measurable task, just the way May likes it. She likes to feel active; she wants to be proactive. Coulson needs her help rebuilding SHIELD, but all the objectives and guidelines leave her wanting.

Pursing her lips, she crosses her legs and sits back in the chair thoughtfully. It is something, she decides, that she can ensure better protocols are in place. Building something from the ground up can help prevent this kind of situation from repeating.

It’s not exactly guilt, though May knows enough about that. She’s learned to accept failures; she’s learned to acclimate to less than preferable outcomes. She’s good, but she’s only human. Her limitations are not her fault, and things that happen are not always within her control. She’s wasted too much time on guilt, and regret won’t restore Fitz’s brain function.

No, May is not here for guilt. That’s too easy. She wasn’t there; there was nothing she could have done.

Though, she does wish she’d put a few more nails into Ward, looking back. Restraint is something she prides herself in, but Fitz and Simmons were never the kind of threat that needed to be neutralized like this. Yes, they’re clever and resourceful, but they’re not fighters.

She looks at Fitz, and remembers she was there the first time he killed someone: the Hydra agent who had been trying to kill her. It had been Fitz who saved her.

Fitz, who believes in second chances.

Fitz, who believes.

May smiles a bit. “If anyone deserves another chance, it’s you,” she muses.

In the silence that follows, the what-ifs are painful. The should-haves threaten to paralyze her. She’s been here before, though, and she can’t go back. Not when there are people who need her.

Not Fitz, of course. In his coma, Fitz doesn’t need her.

But Coulson needs her to watch his back. Skye needs her to continue her training.

And Jemma will need someone to be strong, to be certain, to be clear.

“I’ll look after her,” May resolves, and it’s the best thing she can think to give Fitz. “Nothing will happen to Simmons or the others as long as I’m around. I promise you.”

May knows she may not always be able to keep that promise.

But she’ll sure as hell try to her very last breath.

Turns out, she has something in common with Fitz after all.

3. Ward.

At first, Ward expects to be transferred to a top secret, highly secure facility.

Of course, then he remembers that he helped dismantle all those facilities. There’s nothing left to SHIELD, but he’s pretty sure Coulson could find someplace to send him, if he were so inclined.

Apparently, that’s not in Coulson’s playbook at the moment.

Not that Ward knows anything about what Coulson is doing. In some ways, the ambiguity is not such a hard or unusual thing for him. Orders are simple and to the point, and now that he’s in Coulson’s custody, every move he makes is dictated. It seems kind of pointless, but then, he’s not sure what he was really fighting for in the first place.

He’s not afforded much in the way of freedom or pleasure, and he doesn’t really expect that, but he has to admit, it’s getting boring. At least under Garrett, he’d been allowed basic survival tasks. Now, everything is done for him. All Ward can do is sit in a room and stare.

Sometimes they give him books. A few times music is piped in. He’s brought three meals a day and allowed to go to the bathroom with an armed guard. He has several hours during the day when he is permitted to move about his room unfettered, but there are only so many push-ups and sit ups he can do before he starts to go a little crazy.

Too much time, nothing to do, except think.

Thinking is bad.

Thinking is something Ward has avoided for the better part of his life, because when he actually thinks, he doesn’t know what to do. He doesn’t want to think about his family; he doesn’t want to think about his arrest. He doesn’t want to think about getting recruited by Garrett or all the years that followed in SHIELD. He doesn’t want to think about getting himself on Coulson’s team and gaining all their trust.

He doesn’t want to think about Fitz, and that look on his face as the pod ejected. He’d told Ward he had a choice.

A choice.

Ward’s never had a choice, not once. Or, at the very least, all his options have been bad. What’s a choice when there’s pain and death either way? What is a choice?

It’s easier that way, and he knows that. It’s easier to think there is no choice, that sending that pod into the ocean was what he had to do. Really, it’s easy to justify a lot of different ways. His loyalty to Garrett ran deeper. He joined Coulson’s team by that command. SHIELD and Hydra aren’t so different. They both do what’s necessary; they both believe that collateral damage is acceptable.

Ward has killed a lot of people; so many, he’s lost track. He doesn’t remember their faces or their names. He doesn’t remember their last words or if they were scared.

But he remembers Fitz.

It’s not so much the begging -- it was that Fitz wasn’t begging for himself. He was begging for Ward.

If Fitz were dead and gone, that’d be one thing. But Fitz isn’t dead. Fitz is alive, and from what he’s been told, struggling to hold on. Ward can surmise what might happen to one in a pod in the ocean -- and he knows enough about how to hurt people to know that Fitz probably suffered from hypoxia.

Hell, Fitz is probably a vegetable, given how Coulson and May look at him now. Alive but not really. Better off dead.

Ward doesn’t want to think about that.

Ward doesn’t want to think.

Instead, he does sit ups and push-ups. He eats his meals and goes to the bathroom. He goes to bed at night and stares up into the darkness. He answers the questions that seem pertinent and he refuses to give Coulson or May the satisfaction of seeing him squirm. He’s not haunted by a lot of regrets, but he can still see the look in Fitz’s eyes as he gives Ward that last choice.

Ward always hits the button.

Weakness, Ward had called it.

It’s probably the only thing he’s ever been right about.

4. Coulson.

Coulson maintains a vigil even when he’s not in the room. He has a thousand other things to do, but he finds he can’t help himself. He’ll be knee deep in establishing protocol, and he thinks about what Fitz would say about security checkpoints. He’s charting the agents he still has and cross referencing those who were left in the cold when SHIELD was cut off, and he thinks about Fitz’s insistence upon loyalty.

He’s walking through the halls and always ends up outside of the med bay, watching through the glass. Sometimes it’s Skye; sometimes it’s May. Often, it’s Simmons or the other medical staff Coulson’s kept on hand from Fury. That changes, but Fitz--

Fitz never changes.

It’s a little poetic, he can’t help but think. Fitz hates change, and now he’s in the one place that will never change.

Coulson tries not to think of it like that. The doctors have said nothing is a sure thing when it comes to the human brain. Fitz might still recover. He might still be okay.

Might doesn’t seem like enough. Coulson’s used to making things work out. He’s assembled the best team to do the things other teams can’t. He’s not accustomed to failure.

That’s naive, though. Stakes this high, failure is inevitable. Coulson believes in a greater good, but he doesn’t believe in miracles. He believes in making compromises and fix-its from alien races that may not be worth it in the end.

Standing there, though, watching from outside the glass, he wonders if he’d do it again. If he’d do anything to bring Fitz back. There is no TAHITI on the table for Fitz, and Coulson’s not sure giving it to anyone else would be the right thing.

But it might be the better thing. That’s why he can’t regret Skye’s healing. That’s why he stands there, wondering if there might be some left, somewhere. If there’s some last hope for Fitz he hasn’t thought of yet.

Fitz is his responsibility. He’s Coulson’s team. He follows Coulson’s orders, and anything that happens to him falls back on Coulson.

He’s starting to understand Nick Fury better than he ever wanted to. The things he’d do…

Then again, Coulson said it himself. This sort of thing never works without something to avenge.

Coulson makes that a promise to Fitz; he makes it to the rest of his team and the remnant of SHIELD that will rise from the ashes. He makes the promise to himself, in his ill-fated heart as it beats a rhythm it was never meant to keep.

This failure is not in vain.

This loss will count.

Hydra will pay.

For Fitz.

For all of them.

5. Jemma

Of all of them, Jemma knows the reality of the situation. She’s a biochemist. She’s studied the human body. She understands the profound impact of oxygen deprivation. She knows what happens when the brain becomes hypoxic, and she knows that it’s not a question of if there is damage; it’s a question of how much damage there is. When memory loss is the best case scenario, Jemma knows all too well just how bleak things are.

And Jemma’s a practical, realistic person. She’s a scientist, of all things. When faced with death at the bottom of the ocean, she took comfort in the first law of thermodynamics. She doesn’t believe in superfluous flights of fancy. She grounds herself in facts; in reality; in science.

The science doesn’t help her here, though. She faced the truth when it came to her own mortality. She tackled it head on, with no reservations when Skye was hurt.

But Fitz.

Seeing Fitz, lying in that bed; Jemma can’t. He’s wasting away there, body mass starting to dwindle. The feeding tube makes it easier to give him sustenance, but it simply can’t provide the same level of nourishment. She makes sure they work his arms and legs to avoid too much atrophy, and they roll him from side to side to prevent sores. Fitz is lifeless to it all, oblivious to the intrusions. Oblivious to everything.

All the science, all the reason, and Jemma can’t. She still sees the look on his face, when he tells her that only one of them was coming up breathing. She hears his voice crack when he admits she’s more than a friend, so much more. She can feel her lips on his skin, her fingers in his hair, the beat of her heart before Fitz hit the button.

It doesn’t even matter if she loves Fitz the way he loves her. It doesn’t even matter how they define love at all. She’s never much imagined kissing Fitz, but she’s also never fathomed life without him. There is no life without him, he’s a constant in her universe, and while everything else changed, he’d been the same. Jemma’s never been averse to change, but only because she’d always counted on Fitz to be there at her side.

Love isn’t a scientific notion; it’s not a practical feeling. It’s emotion; it’s the basic essence of human existence. And it doesn’t have to be romantic; it doesn’t have to be sexual. Love is a commitment; it’s a persistent devotion. It’s the subjugation of one’s needs in deference to another. It can’t be quantified, and Jemma can explain the release of chemicals in the brain and the rise and fall of hormones and all the other physical indicators of attraction, but that’s not what it’s about.

It’s about jumping out of an airplane to protect the people you care about.

It’s about giving someone the last breath of air even at the expense of your own life.

Fitz loves her.

She loves Fitz.

And she may not know what that means, and she certainly doesn’t know how it will play out, but she doesn’t care. They’ll figure it out, they always do. It’s another problem to solve, another task to take on. They do it together, and they always have.

So Jemma knows. She knows better than all the rest.

But she refuses to accept it. She stays at Fitz’s side and makes small talk about the goings on. She tells him about Coulson’s new SHIELD and Skye’s computer system. She tells him about starting self defense with May, and setting up the lab. She promises him that she’ll keep this one organized, and that she’ll never leave dead things by his lunch again. She speculates that they could convert one of the storage areas into a sanctuary, and she’s pretty sure Coulson would agree to a monkey when all this is said and done.

“So you just have to wake up,” she tells him, matter of fact. “When you wake up, we’ll have so much to do. I don’t think we’ll be able to leave the lab for weeks, possibly even months. To think, we’ll be the heads of the science division! You and me! Isn’t that something?”

She prattles on senselessly, telling him everything she can think of. She talks and talks and talks, because she’s not sure what else to do. She worries if she stops, if the silence looms, she’ll still hear herself scream as the water rushes in and drowns out all the rest.

“We’ll make it work, Fitz,” she vows, squeezing his limp fingers. “You and me, we’ll make everything work. You’ll see.”

He doesn’t move; he doesn’t flinch.

She forces a smile so big it hurts. “I promise,” she says. “When you wake up.”

Comments

Posted by: Lisa (meridian_rose)
Posted at: January 2nd, 2015 12:26 pm (UTC)

This is excellent. All of the POVs work well and ring true.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: February 27th, 2015 12:55 am (UTC)
steve rogers big damn

I'm way way behind here, but still, thank you for commenting! I don't even remember that people still see my LJ anymore!

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