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Unabashed Spoiler Hound & Fanfic writer

Reveling in the fickle nature of fangirlishness

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A Very Personal Sacrifice Part 1/1
sophie_deangirl

Because I feel betrayed and needed a way to exact my "revenge" to right this terrible wrong even if it's only in fanfic. So I beg forgiveness for the lack of concrete details. This was venting pure and simple.

Warning: Character death and spoilers to this week's Nothing Personal.

Summary: Ward had told her that it was nothing personal and she had lashed out. He had told her his feelings had been real, but she didn't believe him then suddenly, it had all become very personal.

"They're real, Skye. They always have been."

War had broken out. Full stop. Hydra versus the ragtag team headed by Coulson, minus Grant Ward.

To learn that Ward had been a traitor and who had killed so many people was a shock to everyone, but it had hit Skye the hardest. He was not just her S.O. She had developed deeper feelings for him and to have them crushed under the boot heel of his deception was heart wrenching.

She had confided in Coulson all that she had said to Ward just before his rescue of her and he had been quietly sympathetic. She was sure it had been the shock of learning that someone he had vetted had betrayed them all and had put them all in danger. What she didn't know was that Coulson was waging and weighing another shock to his belief system. May had just revealed to him that he had led Project T.A.H.I.T.I and had resigned suggesting that the project be terminated because of the dangerous side effects the alien healing process had produced. He was grappling with watching himself report all of the possible disabilities from the healing process, realizing that both he and Skye had undergone the procedure, that both of them were at risk of becoming mentally unstable; catatonic at best and psychotic at worst.

At the moment of being on the precipice of battle with Garrett, Ward and Hydra, the last thing on his mind was the possibility of losing it. His concern was more for Skye. Nothing in the report he had given suggested timeline. He had undergone the procedure a long while ago and he seemed stable. He had to hope that, for now, Skye would be just as fortunate.

In the end, there were more pressing matters to address and he was determined to save his people from the impending threat first and foremost. Anything else had to wait until he knew where things stood in SHIELD, with Fury and most importantly because it was personal to him, Ward. There was closure that needed to be had by all of them about him.

0-0-0-0

Deathlok stood watch over her, armed and dispassionate. The man she had known as Mike Peterson was gone, melded completely with the mechanical components Garrett had provided to make Mike more weapon than man. She had tried to reason with him on the bus, to appeal to the man that she believed remained, but he had proven to her unequivocally that the man was lost to her.

Garrett sneered behind Deathlok, letting him do all the dirty work, commanding him to do his bidding. And then there was Ward, missing in action. She wondered if he would rescue her now, now that she had screwed up Garrett's plans. She had saved his life. She couldn't deny that her feelings for him had stopped her from letting Deathlok kill him. Garrett had read her humanity perfectly and though she didn't hate herself for sparing Ward's life, she understood how her mercy might have been wasted on him.

"Sorry this has to be done," Garrett said, no sense of sorrow nor sincerity in his voice.

"You're not sorry about anything," Skye spat out in contempt.

"If it's any comfort to you, everything Ward told you was the truth. I gotta hand it to you, you really put a spell over him. He really does care for you, but sentimentality has no place in the war to come, in the inevitable domination that is coming."

"Did you kill him?" She asked, a part of her still felt an ache at the idea that he could be dead.

"Oh no, he's gone to be the welcoming party to Coulson and the others."

Skye's concern then shifted away from herself to her friends.

"Are you going to have Mike kill me now?"

"I'll wait for the reunion. It will make things that much more satisfying."

Skye scowled at Garrett as she felt helpless to prevent an ambush.

0-0-0-0

Ward, gun in hand, rushed headlong towards Coulson, May, Fitz, Simmons and the other Garrett prodigy, Antoine Triplett. Ward admired that Triplett had not been sullied by Garrett's influence and control. He had a mind of his own. Ward couldn't say that about himself. He was no better than Deathlok, just following orders blindly as a soldier and now spy, but there was more to the battle for him than just following orders, it was following the right orders.

May began to pick up her pace as she spotted Ward, her anger and adrenaline combining in her body creating a lethal mix. She was gearing up to annihilate Ward and Coulson knew and saw it.

"WAIT! STOP! DON'T, MAY!"

Melinda May was a powder keg. She and Ward were cut from the same cloth if not from the same pattern. It was why they understood brutality so well and could tap into it so easily. When she heard Coulson telling her to stand down, a part of her didn't think she could. It was like unsheathing a sword, but her respect for Coulson went beyond just S.H.I.E.L.D. They had gone through hell and back on assignments together in more ways than both of them would like to remember and he had seen her through some psychologically damaging times. She owed him her loyalty and had hated violating that trust with him to report to Fury. Now that Coulson knew why she was doing it, to monitor his mental state because of the side effects stemming from Project T.A.H.I.T.I, a truce had been created. But just because she had stopped her forward momentum, didn't mean she wasn't ready to punish Ward to the fullest extent. He had betrayed people she had become friends and colleagues with and betrayal was something she had been all too intimate with. More humiliating was that she had slept with a traitor without seeing it. It was not like her and she didn't like being tricked. Ward had done a thorough job if he had passed muster with her.

"What? Why? He's a traitor!" She yelled back.

As they all went from a run to a walk, Coulson and Ward approached each other as if they were still friends, as if his treachery had never happened.

"No, he's not," Coulson briefly elaborated.

The others caught up and they gathered in a huddle, their wary and angry expressions drilling into Ward and he felt it. He couldn't blame them for feeling it. He had done too good a job.

"What?" The group chorused almost in unison.

"Ward is working for Garrett," Simmons said, her voice shrill and her accent thick.

"Yes, he is, but as a double agent," Coulson replied.

"But he killed Hand and the others," May reminded.

"All Hydra agents," Coulson explained.

"How do you know that?" May asked.

"Because Fury and I have suspected this was coming for awhile and have been quietly observing, but we had no proof. Look, I'm sorry I had to keep everything a secret, it's what S.H.I.E.L.D does and I hated lying to all of you, but it was necessary because Hydra's reach was not only invasive and surreptitious, but we didn't know who had been enlisted by Garrett."

Coulson gave May a knowing look, understanding that they were both guilty of keeping secrets and that he had regretted his accusations against her.

"How you can be sure that Ward isn't a triple agent?" Fitz protested, completely conflicted at that point. It had been difficult enough to wrap his mind around Ward being a traitor and just as he had done that, he was being whipped back around again.

"Because I vetted him," Coulson said as he caught May's expression. "I know you think you did, May and I know that Maria believes that she did too, but in the end, it was Fury and me. We employed Ward to not only be a part of the team; that was totally authentic, by the way, the formation of this team has never been a deception, it was the only thing that wasn't, but we knew that Garrett was somehow involved. We didn't know how so we embedded Ward. Garrett would have trusted him without too many security checks."

"Then what was I for exactly?" Triplett asked, feeling like he had been played.

"You were the true and loyal voice I needed to keep me on mission," Ward admitted with committed trust in his voice. "You had to believe every step with your heart. Anything less would have compromised the mission. Garrett had to believe in us both."

Trip gave Ward a look of astonishment.

"It had nothing to do with trusting you with the deception. I'd trust you with my life. I knew that if I went rogue in deep cover, you would know it and find a way to either extract me or -"

"Or take you out," Trip said with sad acceptance of the facts of the work they did.

"It had everything to do with your principles. You know me, Trip. It had to be me. I'm not a good man. I was expendable, but S.H.I.E.L.D needs men like you, especially with Hydra invading every echelon."

Trip was stunned silent. He and Ward were friends and he had regretted believing the evidence against Ward. He should have known better and trusted his instincts.

"So, where's Skye?" Fitz asked.

"She's being held by Garrett and Deathlok. Unfortunately the one thing I couldn't follow through on was hurting Skye. Garrett nailed me on that and so he's using her to keep me in line. We haven't got much time, we have to save her."

"Does she know about your duplicity?" Simmons asked cautiously.

"That I'm a traitor? Unfortunately, yes. I couldn't tell her the truth. I don't think she'd believe me anyway after all she's seen. It killed me to keep it from her, but I couldn't risk the mission. I'd rather she hates me than jeopardize the rest of you. I hope she'll forgive me someday."

The others saw the raw sincerity on Ward's face along with something they had suspected, but had now been confirmed. He was in love with her.

"Let's go," Coulson commanded.

0-0-0-0

Ward and Coulson had decided to walk in together, Coulson as his prisoner. They had a plan and had to hope that the others would provide the necessary diversions to convince Garrett that they had an army of their own to contend with the Hydra uprising, at least where Garrett was concerned.

With the whole truth finally out in the open, all that had remained was to chop off the head of Hydra. The clean up of S.H.I.E.L.D wouldn't be easy, but all the suspicions within their team would be resolved and they would be united, never to be questioned or doubted again. Coulson knew that Ward needed that.

Before they had headed out, Coulson noticed Ward straining to keep his focus.

"When this is all over, I'll explain everything to Skye," Coulson assured him. "She'll understand."

"Thanks," Ward said, his voice sounding exhausted. "I appreciate that."

"It's been a long road and I'm sorry you had to sacrifice so much."

"Don't be, Coulson. I went in with my eyes open. I knew what I was getting into and I wanted to do this."

"What is it then? Something's weighing on you."

"It's Skye. I never wanted her to be in harm's way like this and Garrett nearly killed her once. I feel like I failed her. Like my feelings for her made her an easy target. Thank god you saved her with that serum."

Coulson had to set aside the news he had learned about Project T.A.H.I.T.I. because he knew it would compromise Ward's focus on the last leg of the mission. He knew that it wouldn't make a difference once it was safe to make the reveal. Ward loved Skye and would be there for her if anything ever happened and Coulson was glad for that. He had put her in jeopardy too in his pursuit to save her and though she had forgiven him, had told him that she owed him her life, he still felt that he had been selfish with that choice. His recollection of how his memories had been replaced to save his sanity still resonated in nightmares. Now that he knew the reason, would they face that choice with Skye? That unknown was almost too much to bear. Coulson believed Ward's greatest mission was ahead of him, but he also knew like everything else, Ward would step up and be her strength.

"I don't want to fail her again," Ward said clearly pained at the recollection of finding her shot and dying. "I promise you I won't let you or anyone else down this time."

"Ward, you haven't let anyone down. Everything you did was by my and Fury's orders so the responsibility falls completely on our shoulders. We put you in an untenable position and you rose to the occasion, made impossible choices. I'll make sure everyone understands that."

"I hope Skye can see it that way. She's idealistic. It's what I love about her. I lost my idealism a long time ago. I think I really did some damage of her perception of me. I wouldn't care if it was anyone else, but..."

Coulson had been impressed with Ward. He knew his painful past, knew how deep his pain ran and how incessant his almost fevered pursuit for redemption was. It was why he took risks. For all of his talents, Ward was a damaged man and Coulson had seen how Skye had brought out a light in Ward that had been extinguished when he was just a child, brutally taunted and bullied by an older brother. If anyone could keep that light burning, it would be Skye.

"She will. I'll make sure of that," Coulson assured.

0-0-0-0

"I think you've become a liability, Ward, outlived your usefulness because now you'll second guess my orders because of her," Garrett pointed out. "I can't have that. Hydra has to survive."

Garrett pulled out a gun and pointed it at her.

"This time I'll finish what Quinn couldn't. You'll think twice about questioning my authority again."

Ward wouldn't let Garrett kill Skye. The only thing that was crystal clear to him in everything that he had done for the last few months was Skye. She had been worth sacrificing his soul and now his life for.

There was no more serum to save her this time so he did the only thing he could. He shrouded her with his body, but just before he did, he looked at her, smiled weakly, his eyes filled with regret and said, "I'm sorry for everything."

Skye thought Ward was going to let her die and just gave him a defiant glare, but then he turned, pulled his gun out and stepped in front of her.

"I won't let you do that, Garrett," Ward said.

Garrett laughed.

"You see? That's what I mean. You let her become your Delilah. She's diminished you."

"No, she's made me stronger," Ward said, his voice filled with his own defiance. "More importantly, she made this mission worth everything. You never had me, Garrett. It was my job to bring you down at all costs and I paid dearly, but I would do it again to stop you. The only thing I regret is that I failed protecting Skye when you made Quinn shoot her. I won't let that happen again."

Skye listened and she felt so conflicted. She didn't know if she was hearing more lies; if she was watching a performance by Ward to make her believe that he would get shot for her to gain her sympathy, that he had never been a traitor in the first place or if he really was telling the whole truth at that moment to both her and Garrett. She remembered his last words to her:

"Some day...some day, you'll understand…"

The look on his face when he had said those words, pleading with her to understand seemed so convincing, but she had refused, believing that he was lying to her then. She now wondered if he was showing her what he had gone through right at the moment, that he had been a double agent all along.

Coulson watched helplessly as he witnessed Ward making another unimaginable call, one of many that he had already made during the course of the mission Coulson had sent him on, that he and Fury had vetted him to do. Ward had been willing to make all of those hard decisions for the cause, not Hydra's, but S.H.I.E.L.D's or maybe now, for Skye.

"I hope she appreciates what you're doing for her," Garrett said as he pumped his gun.

"NO!" Skye and Coulson both screamed.

The bullets penetrated in quick succession and for the moment there was no pain, but Ward knew it was coming. Despite his rigorous physical training, he knew that he would have a very narrow window available before he lost all control over his injuries, both the pain and the blood loss. He also knew that his last act on this mission, in this life was to keep Skye protected, to be her bullet-proof vest, her shield.

The others would subdue the rest of Garrett's army. For once, he was no longer a one-man strike force. He knew the people he worked with, had assessed them with his own personal vetting process and he knew with certainty that they would ensure S.H.I.E.L.D's survival without him. It was a relief to know that they could all take care of themselves, May not withstanding. She could easily fill in where it was needed. She was an army onto herself and she, too, had learned something by being a part of the team, that she could trust without risk of being betrayed, being hurt. He had regretted giving her a momentary pause to doubt when he had to play the part of traitor. In the end, they didn't need him anymore and that knowledge gave him courage.

Ward had only thing left to do.

Skye watched in horror as the bullets hit Ward. Remarkably, it seemed that they barely phased him, but she was close enough to see his face clench ever so briefly and she heard him grunt with every shot that hit him. She saw him take a long intake of breath, saw how his body went calm with intent and then he shot back at Garrett. The recoils shook Ward's gun in his grip with every report. He was emptying his clip into Garrett, taking every margin for error out of the equation.

Ward heard Coulson's voice yell primally and Skye's screams. Pain and blood loss were winning and his strength was waning, but he was determined not to surrender until he saw Garrett on the ground, dead by his hand. He watched Garrett's body contort and rattle with each shot. Finally he fell lifeless to the ground. Ward saw Deathlok stop in his tracks, whatever controls that Garrett had over him dying with him. He saw the soul of Mike Peterson return into his mechanized body and watched him sob with relief. Another recruit to the cause. Ward felt satisfaction.

He was done. His mission was accomplished. He dropped his gun. It was empty and useless to him now. Gravity was pulling him down to the same ground. He had never felt so exhausted, his body so leaden. Someone's hands were grasping at him, trying to keep him standing...he recognized her touch...Skye's, but he knew he couldn't stand any longer.

"No, no, no," Skye kept saying to him as she, at first tried to hold him up and when that failed, she tried to brace his descent as much as she could.

Ward dropped to his knees, taking her down with him then collapsed. Her hands were on his face, stroking it, a feeling of relief entered his dying body and he let out a sigh.

"I couldn't let anything happen to you. I wasn't there for you when Quinn...I'm sorry."

"You didn't, okay? I'm here. And forget about Quinn. Just please, please don't die."

Ward smiled at her words, blood trickling from his mouth, his grunts and moans alternated along with gasping breaths.

"You saved me from Deathlok...about time...I returned the favor...don't you think?"

"No, no, I don't think-"

"It's you who can't die...you're a good person...would rather die instead..."

"Don't say that, please, don't say that..."

"I'm sorry...Skye...for letting you get hurt...for hurting you..."

Ward shook and arched with pain.

"No, I was wrong about you," Skye said her eyes filling with tears. "I'm the one who's sorry."

"No, you were right...I'm not a good man...but you made me better...and I can die knowing that...I tried..."

"No, you're a good man. You always were," she insisted.

"Because of you..."

Coulson rushed in, his shock and dismay evident on his face.

"Please, do something," Skye pleaded. "Save him."

"He can't...there is no more serum left...I'm okay with that…"

"Well, I'm NOT okay with that! Don't do this Grant! I have to make up for what I said to you, the awful things I said to you."

Ward shook his head.

"No, you don't...you didn't know...I couldn't tell you about the mission...I'm sorry I lied to you, to all of you…"

"That wasn't your call, Ward. It was mine. This is all my fault," Coulson interjected as he looked at Skye.

Coulson and Skye felt Ward grip their arms and grunt with agony, his breathing laboring.

"We need Simmons. She can help him," Skye said, grasping for anything she could think of to help him.

Ward had lost complete control over the pain and could only let it attack him full force in the hopes it would speed up the end.

"She can't...Skye…no one can," he said, moaning. "I'm not afraid…"

Coulson understood. He had died and though he doesn't remember much about dying, he understood the peace it brought him from the pain and the purpose his death was going to bring to the the avengers. He knew Ward was thinking the same way. He was hoping his death would spur unity among them again and Coulson would make sure that it would.

"Well, I am," Skye said, tears streaming down her face. "I'm terrified…"

Ward lifted his hand to wipe her tears from her cheeks.

"Don't be...you have everyone who will be there for you...you have Coulson...you're not alone, Skye...you were never alone…and you never will be..."

"But I won't have you," she cried, resigned to Ward's inevitable fate.

"Of course you will...You already have my heart," he said, his eyes and smile brimmed with love for her.

Skye couldn't stop her crying at those words.

"You could have...let it die at Deathlok's hand...and would have...been justified, but you saved it and me instead. It's what I love about you. You believe in humanity. Mike's and mine."

Coulson saw the light dimming in Ward's eyes and could not let them extinguish without expressing his gratitude for sacrificing everything to save them all.

"You did an amazing job, Grant. There isn't anything I could say that would be enough. Thank you is not enough."

"It's enough, sir...more than I deserve."

"I beg to differ."

"Grant, please…don't leave..."

"If I had a say…I wouldn't," Ward rasped with a pained smile. "Thank you…"

"For what? For being the worst person ever?"

"For giving me...hope...redemption. I...love you so...much."

"I love you too…" She said, wishing with all her heart and soul she could do more, say more. It would have to be enough. "And you have my heart too...always."

Skye then bent down to kiss him on the lips. She felt his weak attempts at returning the gesture. It was soft, bittersweet, but full of love and she felt it.

Ward smiled, moaned and exhaled his last breath.

Skye sobbed, wrenching ones that everyone on the team had heard no matter where they were.

Coulson could only deflate at the loss of a good soldier, a good man who had endured so much pain and ridicule to accomplish what needed to be done to at least begin the destruction of Hydra.

It was a crushing loss, but one Coulson would never let be wasted. They would defeat Hydra for Ward.

FIN. Thanks for letting me vent. After what Ward has done, the only option for me was misunderstanding and heroic death. We'll see what the show does. Thanks for reading.