“You were too nerdy for me then”
A young May and Coulson story
“And you were too intimidating for me back then.” May and Coulson swapped stories in Tahiti, reminiscing when they had first met. The two had been friends for almost 30 years, and had recently become lovers. Time was precious, as Coulson was terminal. Every waking moment they had was talking to each other, or you know, parasailing. But right then, the two were talking about their first days as friends, or rather, classmates at the Academy.
Many years ago:
Phil Coulson had entered his senior year at the Communcations Academy, just one semester from graduating. He had applied for an exchange program at the Operations Academy, at the request of his advisor. While Coulson’s espionage skills were great, his combat and stealth skills needed work.
“A semester at Operations is just what you need to prep you for field work,” Nick Fury had told him. Fury had been a good friend at the Academy and had promised to be his supervising officier once when graduated.
“Sure, Operations, where no one smiles and everyone gets up at 5 am for combat training.” Coulson was understanbly nervous. Ops and Comm were rival academies, and they had a long standing tradition of bantering each other whenever the two academies trained or did events together.
Fury laughed, “You’ll do fine, Phil. Besides, all exchange students take the same combat class, so it’s not like you’ll be behind. Plus, I heard this year’s student teacher is one of the best.”
Coulson protested, “Wait, they have a student teach us? Of course Ops would think we aren’t good enough to have a full instructor.”
“Just get on the plane and stop complaining. See you in a few months.” Fury replied, giving Coulson a firm pat on the shoulder.
The flight had been fairly short, Ops and Comm Academies were only a few states away from each other. Other exchange students chatted nervously, but Coulson just studied his class list for the next morning.
“Melinda May: combat instructor, senior level student.” Coulson mumbled under his breath, wondering who this Melinda May was. Fury seemed to hold her in high regard. He was not looking forward to the 5 AM start though. What kind of person wants to get knocked to the ground at that ungodly hour?
Once Phil settled into his dorm room, he decided to survey the grounds. Everyone wore either camo or black, and Coulson looked embarassed in his bright red Comm Academy shirt. “I’ll have to change into my black workout outfit after dinner. Everyone is staring at me.”
Coulson ended up finding a group of other comm and sci students who were doing the exchange program. Like him, they were all being stared at by the muscular, dark clothed ops students. “Shesh, this place needs to lighten up a little.”
The next morning, Phil found his way to the combat room. As he entered the room, he saw a small, Asian woman punching a bag with ferocity. “Hello? Is this Combat Ops 101? Are you Melinda May?”
“Damn right I am.” May responded with a kick to the bag. “You’re early, good. Start warming up by giving me 50 push ups.”
Coulson just stood there stunned, he was early, why did he need to do 50 pushups? But May’s glare told him not to answer and instead started the pushups as other students filed in.
Eventually Phil finished his pushups and amazingly felt awake and ready for the class.
May introduced herself to the rest of the students, “Good morning class. Be like this guy” She pointed at Phil, “and get to class early. You’ll want to be warm and ready.”
The class went by quickly, with Coulson finding the floor more often than not. One particular time, he got slammed to the ground and his breathe went out of his lungs and May came over to check on him, “Hey kid,”
“Name is Phil, Phil Coulson,” he managed to whisper out.
“Phil, take deep breaths, it’ll come back.” May responded, actually showing concern for him.
“Thanks. Ouch. Is class always going to be like this?” Phil wondered, May helping him to his feet.
“You’ll get better. That’s why you are here right?”
“Yeah, Fury wanted me to get better at combat. Just in case my I can’t talk my way out of situations.” Coulson grabbed a towel to wipe off the sweat from his face.
“Fury, Nick Fury? You know him? He has great the rep here at Ops.”
“Yeah, he and I go way back. He’s gonna be my SO when I graduate.”
May threw Coulson a water bottle, “Well if Fury thinks you hold promise, maybe you won’t be so bad after all.”
Coulson just looked at her, confused, “Wait, is that a compliment?”
May just laughed, “Go, my next class starts in 5 min.”
The next weeks went by quickly, with Coulson nursing bruises every night from his combat classes. They also did mock missions which usually involved him getting shot with practice rounds. They still hurt. But he was getting better at fighting, and May often used him as a sparring partner to show the class the fighting skills.
“I’ve really got to ask her for drinks one day.” He mumbled to himself on his way to class. This week they were learning Ji Jitsu, and Coulson was excited. He had done some wrestling in high school, and he knew there were some similarities to the sports.
“Coulson, think you can do a sparring match with me today? I wanted to show the class more of the forms and how they work together.” May spoke to Phil as he entered the class.
“Sure, May, because I want my butt kicked again.” He replied with his usual snark, becoming more comfortable with May as the weeks went by.
“You’ll do fine. Let’s get some practice in before the start of class.”
The two sparred and Coulson actually was beginning to hold his own. Or so he thought. May ended up wrapping her legs around his neck and swung him to the ground. She had him pinned.
He looked up at her smiling, and he realized how incredibly strong and beautiful this woman was. And intimidating. “What? For a man that just got pinned, you are surprisingly happy.”
Coulson sputtered, “Oh, just, that was a cool move, May. Just appreciating the view.”
Before May could respond to his attempt at flirting, the rest of the class filed in. “Ohhhh did Coulson get his butt handed to him again?” The class laughed.
Phil turned red, but May just helped him up, “He was helping me practice a move. 50 pushups for the rest of you for the snark.”
Coulson couldn’t believe it. Did May just defend him? He really would have to ask her for drinks after class.
The class finished as May called out “Remember, Midterms next week! You’ll need to demonstrate your skills in a sparring match.” The rest of the class, groaned.
“Hey Phil, nice job today. I think Ji Jitsu might be your calling.” Phil stuck around to help May clean up the room.
“Hey thanks. Um, so what are you up to tonight?”
“I was gonna go play pool with some friends.”
Phil didn’t know how to respond so he just began talking frantically, “Oh, well, maybe on another night, you could come with me…to the comic book shop…we play D&D and drink and have pizza and it’s really fun and…”
“Comic book shop?” May laughed, punching Phil in the arm.
“Yeah, it’s fun!”
“Sounds a little too nerdy for me.”
“Oh. Okay. Guess I’ll see you around then.” Phil walked by swiftly. “Idiot,” he said to himself. His one chance to ask May on a date and he invites her to the comic book shop! He had panicked.
“Like I said Phil, you were too nerdy for me back then.” May laughed at the story, remembering when this skinny comm academy student entered her combat class.
“Sigh, Yeah I was pretty nerdy. But I got cooler.” Phil smiled, still not believing he was here, with May, on a beautiful island. It was a good day. Simmons had given him some medicine before they left for Tahiti, and he was having one of his better days. Still in pain, but remembering with May helped him to feel better.
“You did, Phil. I think you get cooler every time you die.” She giggled, then grew somber. “Sorry, I shouldn’t joke like that.”
“It’s okay, May. We all die someday. Some die more than others. That’s part of life.”
May rubbed his back, “Come on, let’s keep talking about the past. It helps me to not think of the future.”
“Alright, how about I tell you what I thought about our first mission together.”
“I’d like that.”
(Another Young May and Coulson story to come later!)