But that night, just as she’s getting ready to crawl under the covers, Skye comes in, already in her nightgown. “Hi,” she says. “If you don’t mind…?”
“Come on,” is Jemma’s only response, and she gets under the blanket and holds it out until Skye has joined her. Skye’s entire body is cold, but Jemma wraps herself around it anyway, spooning her companion from behind, even taking her hands in her own and rubbing them.
They started doing this a few days after first arriving at the Playground, when a day had come when Fitz had almost woken, and then spent an hour looking like he was going to deteriorate. That evening Skye took Jemma, still shaking and feeling like she was going to start crying again at any moment, and spent an hour just cuddling her under the sheets and crooning in her ear. They’ve done this plenty of nights since, both before and after Jemma’s time away, each of them being there for the other on those nights when it’s simply too much to ask one or the other of them that she be expected to be alone.
But after San Juan, Skye stopped. Jemma even told her she wasn’t afraid of her, at least after Dr. Garner arrived and began working with her, and the Playground stopped shaking at random intervals. Yet still she’s stayed away until tonight. It makes Jemma wonder why she’s come now.
But she’ll find out. Skye always wants to talk to her about her day, which is fine with Jemma, since she’s liked talking about hers less and less lately.
Sure enough, they’re barely settled when she says, “Ward’s still out there.”
“Oh,” Jemma says. Skye has not talked much about what went on between the two of them after he kidnapped her, though she does know he then turned on Hydra and made an act of trying to help her, and she didn’t buy it and shot him, and that she tried to avoid wounding him fatally, but prior to today, they haven’t known whether or not he had survived or had bled to death.
“Yeah,” says Skye. “But the really crazy thing is, he’s got Agent 33 with him. Nobody’s quite sure what that means; we don’t know if he’s trying to get back in with Hydra, or has managed to feed her some really crazy story, or what. I suppose he might try to send her to us, if he still feels like sending us gifts. You would think he wouldn’t after I shot him, but I honestly think he might.”
She sounds a little bit like her usual sarky self when she said that last bit. But not nearly enough, and it doesn’t hide how rattled the news has made her. “Do you know what we intend to do when we capture him?” Jemma asks. “If we end up taking him alive? Just turn him in to the authorities, or bring him back here first?”
“No,” Skye replies, tensely, too tensely. There’s something haunting her about him that she isn’t talking about; Jemma’s sure of that. She doesn’t think it’s healthy for Skye not to talk about it either.
Perhaps she should prod. Remembering how back when he’d first escaped and they’d started looking for him Coulson had insisted Skye stay out of it, she begins with a cautious, “Do you want to be involved in the pursuit of him this time?”
“No!” she nearly yells it, then glances around, although nothing in the room has so much as tremored. “Although I probably should be, since that might actually get him to respond, and I wish it wouldn’t because I’m sick to death of it. I just…I don’t…”
Guessing, Jemma said, softly and gently as she could, “You don’t want to deal with him anymore.”
“Yes!” She nearly sobs it. “Since Coulson and I fled the plane in Lola, that’s all I’ve wanted, for him not to exist, to never have to think of him again. And I can’t not think of him again, which is really crazy.”
“It was wrong of him,” Jemma assures her. “It’s been this entire time. It was wrong of him to make you talk to him in the first place, and it was wrong of him to drag you along to meet a father figure he should’ve realized you’d have no interest in meeting. And if he really wanted to act in our interests in the first place he would’ve misled the whole chase or contrived for them to be unable to trace Raina’s tracker or done something else to make sure they were not in Puerto Rico.” She’s surprised by her own vehemence as her words come out quicker and quicker, more than she’d had in mind.
But Skye shakes her head. “That one I can’t hold him responsible for. The taking of Hydra there, I mean. Maybe if they hadn’t been intending to blow up the plane, but I can understand why he would’ve seen the need to make sure he found us first to try to stop that, at least because if he hadn’t then I would’ve been on the plane when they blew it up, and obviously we know he’s objecting to that sort of thing. I wish I could be mad at him for it, mind you.”
“I can,” Jemma insists. “He’s one of the best people in the world at what he does. He should’ve been capable of designing and executing a foolproof plan to keep them far away from us forever.” But then, of course, he wouldn’t have been able to kidnap Skye, and Jemma draws in breath to say that, to give vent to her rage against Ward further.
But Skye’s laughing now, not out loud, but Jemma can feel her body shaking with it. Not too much, and certainly there are no other tremors anywhere else in the room, but Jemma’s not going to say anything to put a stop to that. It leaves her different too afterwards, more relaxed in Jemma’s embrace.
“When was the last time you laughed like that?” she asks her, gently, when all has been quiet for a minute or so.
“Oh god, so long ago,” she sighs. “Long before San Juan. I haven’t even felt like this, you know…” Jemma doesn’t know, and is almost scared to ask.
But after another long moment, she goes on, “I’ve just been so scared all the time. Like something’s going to get me so mad or scared or excited and I’m going to cause another earthquake. Even when I’m just walking around the base or eating breakfast or something like that, and I know that’s stupid…Dr. Garner thinks I’m suffering from PTSD, though he’s said he’d like a second opinion before giving an official diagnosis.”
“It would be natural if you were,” Jemma points out. “The kidnapping, the being held hostage by Hydra and what Whitehall said he’d do to you, and the getting transformed pretty much against your will by the Diviner? Plenty of really strong and tough S.H.I.E.L.D. agents would have to deal with psychological trauma after that.”
“Well, I should be use to the kidnapping,” she notes dryly. “And…I didn’t really feel as helpless as I sometimes have, you know? Or at least as I did when you guys took me out of my van that first time, and I suppose I really was helpless. Ward even praised me for how well I was following the instructions for What To Do When You’re Kidnapped from the manual.” She let out another laugh, but that one was just bitter. “But I did feel competent and confident then. So able to handle anything that was thrown my way, or so I thought…I want that feeling back.”
Should she say what she’s been wanting to say to Skye for an eternity, holding back only because it’s seemed so unlikely Skye’ll listen? Jemma wants to so badly she feels the words start to slip out of her. “You know, a power like this, it doesn’t have to be nothing to you but a problem.”
But Skye cuts her off with a curt, “I’ve heard that. Dr. Garner has told me it plenty of times.”
“I guess it’s true,” she then admits, though. “Especially since May has been hinting that not only does she think my ability to make things shake might come in handy if I can control it, but she’d really like to be pushing me into learning to do just that. I’ve taken to continually remind Dr. Garner he’s not allowed to talk with his ex-wife about his patients, though I honestly think he wouldn’t even think about it, really; he’s good and professional like that. But I think he hopes someday I’ll give him permission or talk to her on my own, that I’ll decide I’m ready to start doing that.
I should. I should learn to use such an asset. Especially when we can use all the powers we can get against Hydra.”
But now she’s berating herself, and Jemma needs to put a stop to that. “Don’t try it before you’re ready. I’m sure they’d all tell you that’s not worth the risk anyway.” She tries to make that second sentence light, though she’s too aware of how Skye might take it.
But she doesn’t react to it, just says, “I wish I could be ready. Would solve so much. I could start working hard and stop being so scared…”
She lapses into silence. When neither has spoken again after a minute or so, Jemma starts to think their evening conversation is over, that they’ll fall asleep now, hopefully undisturbed until the morning. When she peers over Skye’s cheeks, she can see her eyes are closed. She’s not asleep, not yet, but it’ll come. Jemma closes her eyes herself, and tells her mind to quiet.
It doesn’t. Instead thoughts keep invading, alternating between everything’s Skye’s just said to her and those two hours with Fitz, working together, not saying much to each other for most of it, but then he started to figure out the transceiver they’d been working on. And she was able to figure out what he was trying to say most of the time; they only needed to go find Mack near the end. And when the three of them together finally cracked that code, the smiles she and Fitz were able to share…she feels warmer thinking about it even now.
But then he turned and deliberately left with Mack. She understands why, knows staying around her too long after that step forward could’ve led directly to two more back. But it stung all over again, especially when she was left pretty much alone for the rest of the evening, until Skye came here just now. She often is now, when she leaves the lab, everyone too busy with their own thing to spend any time with her. She thinks of Triplett, how often he found time for her, as well as for Skye and for all of his friends, and she misses him something painful.
Yet even before he died, and before Skye went into that chamber and came out a different and scared person, on evenings where there isn’t anything important going on, she’s had too many evenings like that since she came back. The first few days she was busy enough being debriefed, but after that, she discovered everyone at the Playground had formed their own groups and circles while she’d been away. Except Bobbi, of course, but while she and Jemma are friends, it’s hard for them to be that close when they really are so very different as people. And now with her apparently sleeping with her ex-husband again they see less of each other anyway.
“You know,” Skye began abruptly speaking again. “Sometimes now I wonder if I ever should’ve bothered finding out who my parents were. If I should’ve told myself not to think about it; let that they weren’t there say they were either dead or not worth the effort. I really think now I’d be better off if I’d never found out. But then again, if it wasn’t for that, would I have ever joined S.H.I.E.L.D.? I’m not sure I would’ve even joined Rising Tide; I might have gone for some other hacktivist cause, you know?”
To never have known Skye, at that moment, feels to Jemma like the worst possibility ever. “I’m glad you’re here,” she says, and try as she might, she can’t hide how even the thought of it makes her want to cry.
And when Skye hears that, she’s out of Jemma’s arms and turned around to look at her in dismay, with a, “Jemma, are you all right?”
“Fine, fine,” she says, but Skye clearly doesn’t buy it. “Just...” and it just comes out of her, “I’d be so lonely without you.”
“Oh, Jemma,” and now she’s the one being held tight. “Hasn’t been easy for you, has it? And here I am, unloading all of my complaints on you, and you’re the one whose best friend won’t talk to you anymore.”
“I don’t mind,” Jemma’s quick to say; she doesn’t want to upset Skye further. “And is he talking to me now, at least, I mean, it’s better than nothing,” but thinking about Fitz this much still hurts, a reminder that she’s had half of herself ripped out of her, really, and now she is crying, can’t help it, can’t bear it, just can’t do it anymore.
And Skye just holds her, lets her cry it all out, being what she’s been all this time, and Jemma wants to tell her how she really hasn’t changed as much as they think, that these silly new powers and even her fears about them are all on the surface, and how glad Jemma is that beneath them, Skye is still Skye, good and right and sometimes self-righteous and sometimes jokier than is called for, but Jemma can’t imagine her life without her. But she’s not sure how much of it Skye would believe if she said it.
Even though her arms are so, so warm, and it might be just as well Jemma’s not talking right now, because if she was, she would probably let slip something about not wanting to ever leave them.
Even when her tears dry, she still doesn’t feel any different. Not about anything. She’s still sad Skye’s upset, miserable that she’s divided from Fitz, glad Skye is there, and desperate that Skye stay there.
And then Skye says, “Jemma, if I can do anything…”
“Just,” Jemma is trying to keep hold of herself, she really is, even as her voice catches again, “Just stay here, with me…don’t leave me all alone… please, I don’t even care if you make the bed shake occasionally, I don’t want to sleep alone, not right now…”
“I’ll come, then,” Skye says to her. “Every night, until you tell me….that you don’t want me…” and now it’s her voice catching, as if she thinks Jemma could possibly tell her that.
“Skye,” Jemma says, and she pulls herself up to be eye level with her. And then she sees tears in Skye’s eyes, and well, that just knocks her train of thought off the tracks and far away where she’s never going to find it again, and she’s just hoping Skye sees and understands what she’s feeling from her own tear-filled eyes.
Except she only understands it all herself when Skye kisses her, gently, carefully, touching Jemma’s head with her hands as if it’ll explode if she presses too hard.
And Jemma finds herself leaning in, kissing back, as she thinks yes, this is what she wants, Skye to be here with her in this way. Maybe she even wanted this a little back when she and Fitz were still Fitzsimmons, and she didn’t sleep with anyone she worked with because that was against regulations. But now, after months of loneliness and desperation, and a moment after the possibility even pops into her head, she doesn’t think she can do without having this.
When Skye’s hands don’t move, Jemma’s do. They find their way down Skye’s back and to her waist, hesitate on going down any further, but then Skye shifts, and Jemma’s hands are on her ass, and Skye’s body shivers just a little.
Skye’s mouth finds Jemma’s chin, then her neck. But she’s still cautious, hesitant when her hands finally do move.
Jemma isn’t feeling cautious. Her hands scramble at Skye’s nightgown, wishing it had been shorter. When Skye’s hands move down, over her stomach, she squirms, trying to get them onto bare skin. When Skye presses in a little closer, she presses back, wanting to lose track of all the places she can feel the warmth of Skye’s body against her own. Finally she finds the hem of the nightgown, and she just goes for it, pulling upward, trying to get it off even while they stayed pressed against each other. When that doesn’t work, and she has to abandon the attempt with Skye only naked from the waist down, she just touches that, traveling from her ass to her legs, finding places on the latter that send Skye panting.
Her fingers are on the buttons over Jemma’s chest, and Jemma whispers do her, “Yes, take it off.” She gasps as the cold night air caresses her breasts, bold and shameless, and then again when Skye touches them next, tentative at first but gaining confidence, and when she lowers her mouth to them Jemma moans, embarrassingly loud.
And then the bed shakes hard, and Skye pulls back with equal violence, and scrambles nearly out of bed, stopped only when Jemma reaches out and seizes her hand. For a moment they both freeze that way, Skye with one foot on the floor, Jemma half sitting up, half still lying down.
Then Skye says, “This isn’t safe. If I lose control enough, I could even break all your bones.”
Jemma is going to be damned if she refrains from this out of fear. But if she just says that, she doubts Skye would go for it. So instead she asks, “What do you think would be easiest for you to do?”
Skye considers it. “I don’t know how much I could let you touch me,” she says. “And I can’t come; there’s no way we could be sure that wouldn’t cause the base to collapse.” When she pauses, it gives Jemma time to really think about that fact, that Skye has gone without any orgasms, even by her own hands, for as long as she has, and that, she thinks, just sucks, for more than one reason. But there doesn’t seem to be anything anyone can do about that right now, and Skye is continuing. “I think, if I touched you slow enough, I could try to go down on you, and that would be about as safe as anything we could try.”
“Then do it,” Jemma says. “Please?” To further encourage her, she shrugs out of her pajama top, and starts working on the bottoms.
Skye moves back forward as Jemma slides bottoms and panties together down her legs, her head turning to watch as she kicks them off and away. Her nightgown has fallen back down, and Jemma finds herself asking, “Skye, do you think you could get naked too? Just so I could look?”
Skye takes a sharp breath, and for a moment Jemma expects the bed to tremble again. But it doesn’t, and she takes the garment and pulls it over her head.
Living together in limited quarters for so long they’ve both caught glimpses of each other topless or bottomless or such before. But they’ve never gazed like this, Jemma letting her eyes linger on the lines and ripples of Skye’s muscles, the sweat glistening on her skin, and, on that flat stomach, the scars that remind Jemma of things she wants to forget, of when Skye lay dying and she’d been struggling and knowing she couldn’t save her, not by herself.
Skye’s looking too, and then she’s reaching out. Her hand’s ghost their way up Jemma’s sides, brush her neck, leaving Jemma arching up for more. Skye climbs on top of her and kisses her again, and Jemma wants to drown in her mouth and her naked body on top of hers. They kiss until she’s dizzy, gasping when they come up for air, and she barely gets a breath in before one of Skye’s hands, which has already been doing delicious things around her hip, dips down between her legs, and the first touch nearly drives her out of her mind.
Skye moves her mouth down slowly, lingering first where she’s been already, then further down, her fingers finding a rhythm and sliding slowly but steadily in and out, each time a little deeper. Jemma’s own hands clasp themselves over her mouth, trying to mute herself at least enough not to be heard by anyone outside the room. She’s long beyond anything else by the time Skye’s tongue joins her fingers down there, and then her hands fall to her sides as she struggles to breathe; it already feels so good she might die from it.
She’s too far gone to even notice it at first, but as she gets close to orgasm she feels her flesh from her clitoral hood to her perineum quivering. Vaguely she’s aware that shouldn’t be happening, but she can’t care right now, and her whole body is starting to arch and draw itself tight anyway, her fingers grip the sheets, keens come out of her throat. Then it snaps, and her hands somehow get back to her mouth in a nick of time as she all but screams against them, her whole body shaking with pleasure, the world shaking and spinning and when Jemma comes back to herself, she feels more like she’s just been in a fight than she’s just had sex, but she doesn’t really mind.
At least until a moment later, when she realizes Skye’s drawing back again, and hears her cry out, “Oh God, oh God, I lost control, please say I didn’t hurt you, please…”
Jemma shifts her body about in the way they taught her to do when they were preparing her and Fitz to go out into the field. Nothing broken, strained, or sprained, and while she supposes there might be problems that quick check doesn’t find, she honestly doesn’t feel that worried. “I’m fine,” she says. “In fact,” and she’s blushing but Skye ought to know this, “I think that actually…made it better.”
“Oh,” says Skye dumbly. “Well…that’s good, I guess. I still don’t think I’m up for doing anymore tonight though,” she adds.
“That’s fine,” says Jemma, who’s already figured as much. She’s a little more worried that Skye will never be willing to have sex with her again, but now doesn’t seem to be the time to worry about that. And if she has to wait a few more months while Skye learns more control, that’s fine. She also tells herself not to worry yet about how they’re going to tell Fitz; that is absolutely not something to contemplate this late in the evening just after the act.
For now, she pulls herself up, and says, “It’s a bit of a walk to the showers, but do you want me to maybe go get us some water and towels? I had a lot of one-night stands at the Hub and that was pretty common practice there.”