Fanfiction Fridays: let the girl go by dirgewithoutmusic

Her mother taught her about missing birthdays, recitals, and graduations. Her mother taught her about driving 500 miles on the request of a single phone call and no explanation. When Melinda applied for SHIELD after her bachelor’s no one was surprised.

She got a BA in a little local college, History with an emphasis on 1900s espionage and warfare. She read and wrote about SHIELD’s formation, about the Howling Commandos and the long days of the war. She stopped wanting to grow up to be Steve Rogers. She started wanting to grow up to be Peggy Carter.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. had a rough first season, but even though the plot was often nothing to write home about, the show did slowly develop some static characters into some very well-written ones, people with depth and backstory and personality. One of these characters is Agent Melinda May, the star of today’s Fanfiction Friday.

Agent May is definitely the most hardcore agent in Coulson’s little band of misfits. She’s their pilot, she’s their primary combatant, and she never smiles. When Skye joins the team, she spends a significant amount of time trying to figure out why May’s called “the Cavalry”. Eventually we find out that May wasn’t always the stoic badass that she is today—like many of this archetype, she too has a tragic backstory waiting to be unlocked. However, aside from Coulson’s story of the Cavalry, we get very few scenes that discuss May’s background. That’s where this fic comes in.

let the girl go starts in May’s childhood and follows her throughout her time at S.H.I.E.L.D. Academy, her first meeting with Phil, and many of their subsequent missions together, including the whole story of how she got the nickname “the Cavalry”. It’s a character study of Melinda May that ties her more firmly into MCU history and writes about her as that bright-eyed prankster Coulson says he remembers in the show. It’s hard to imagine the stern May as any sort of jokester, but this fic keeps her perfectly in character while proving that once, May was capable of being light-hearted. It expands brilliantly on the little pieces of backstory we get in the series—May’s mother, a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent herself, is the first to teach young May many of the lessons that would prove important later on in life, and the easy rapport between Coulson and May is explained by a long friendship and camaraderie born of dangerous S.H.I.E.L.D. missions. It’s an enlightening, fun read.

The fic is just 6k, and you can find it here at the AO3. It’s also part of a series of character studies about badass ladies in the MCU, so you should also read those after you’re done with this one!

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