That’s the thing about Skye. What I told her shattered her world. Her lifelong search led to stories of murder, and now it’s too difficult to continue. Her search is over. Her story ends here. But you know what she said?    [ Tell me. ]    She said no—her story started here. Her whole life, she thought she wasn’t wanted, that she didn’t belong, that every family that took her in didn’t want her to stay, didn’t care. But all that time, it was S.H.I.E.L.D. protecting her, looking after her. That’s what she took away from the story—not the family she’ll never have, but the one she’s always had. Here I am, telling her something that could destroy her faith in humanity, and somehow she manages to repair a little piece of mine. The world is full of evil and lies and pain and death, and you can’t hide from it—you can only face it. The question is, when you do, how do you respond? Who do you become?

As she peddled her bike down the path, avoiding the few pedestrians and nodding at the other bikers, she hummed a bit to herself. It wasn’t until she felt the arms slipping around her waist that she realized she had a passenger. Nearly loosing control of the bike, she stopped and looked down at the fingers pressed against her stomach. There was something that felt strange about them, maybe it was the nails, but she figured she didn’t want to know who she was taking along with her. Inhaling deeply, she straightened up, returning to her ride and ignoring the warm breath against her ear, the lilting voice humming as they went. She played dumb to the feel of the other person pressed against her and the smell of forests and rain. About a block before she got to her destination, she heard a voice whispering, the cadence musical, “Until next time,” as the other slid off the bike and was gone. She fought the urge to look back and see her mysterious passenger, and rode on, maybe peddling a little bit faster.