Actions

Work Header

and if you're still breathing (you're the lucky ones)

Work Text:

0

“And are you certain this will work,” Jemma asks, her fingers brushing over the pocket watch, it was made to look antique almost on a chain long enough to wear around her neck, but the technology hidden behind its vintage exterior was something extraordinary. That was assuming that it would work. She trusted Fitz in any and all circumstances, but this was something else entirely.

This felt more like magic than science, something out of a Harry Potter novel.

The memory of their first day on the BUS when Jemma had insisted to Coulson that she wasn’t Hermione comes back at once, if only that Jemma could see her now, holding a pocket watch that was essentially a time turner.

“Relatively sure,” Fitz says offering a smile, which he means to be encouraging, “you just turn it back to this morning before everything went wrong and then you should be able to…”

He doesn’t finish the sentence but he doesn’t have to Jemma knows what she has to do. She’s seen the way everyone’s eyes flicker over to her, Coulson barking at her that she has to fix it. Of course, the rest of the team is looking towards her for her medical knowledge, not what she is about to do.

Jemma is certain that if they knew that this was possible that this technology even existed, they would stop her. Ward or May would insist upon being the one to go back, but this, this had to be her. If anybody was going to save Skye, to stop all of this, it had to be Jemma.

“Here goes nothing,” Jemma says her fingers on the dials by the side of the pocket watch.

 

1

There’s a wrenching feeling in her gut, like the world is tilting off its axis, it feels like falling or dying. The feeling is all too familiar, like jumping off a plane; she’s plummeting to her death. Jemma squeezes her eyes tightly trying to keep them shut into the feeling passes, and she feels like she’s on solid ground again or as solid as a plane can get.

For a second she stands there still as can be eyes shut, unwilling to open them and see if Fitz’s device worked, afraid of what the result might be if she failed.

“So we’re going in undercover?”

“I hate undercover.”

Her eyes snap open at once at the voice, the shock of those words she had heard from the very same lips hours earlier causes Jemma to jump upwards knocking her hands against the table and drawing worried glances from the rest of the group, suddenly five other pairs of eyes are on her.

Jemma opens her mouth trying to come up with some lie for why she had jumped, some way to explain things that didn’t start with “I just time traveled and I’m freaking out,” though she’s never been a particularly good liar, instead though she manages to squeak out the word, “undercover?” Which is enough to shift two of the faces around the table into sympathetic ones.

Skye mouths, “sorry,” at her and Jemma has to bite her lips to blurt out the irony of that. Instead ducks her head as Coulson takes charge of the group once more divvying them off into the same teams as before.

Ward and May as the married couple, running the groundwork.

Fitz and Skye as the new couple, running communication.

There’s a pause in the group’s conversation, nobody saying anything for a moment, and suddenly Jemma realizes this is where she spoke up before. In a rush she quickly says, “and what about us,” though it comes out so quickly she cannot be certain if anybody actually made out the words.

As they go back to get ready to go Skye corners her on the way to their bunks and for a second Jemma blanches. She hadn’t gone this way before, she had stuck around the table talking to Coulson about what their plan was going to be, their cover story, but now Jemma had already known it, already she was deviating from the plans and that left her stuck between Skye and her bunk.

“Uh, I,” Jemma starts, unsure of what to say, but that doesn’t seem to matter because Skye is smiling at her like she has no idea what is coming, and really she doesn’t.

“I just wanted to wish you luck,” Skye say, “I know undercover’s not really your strong suit.”

“No it’s not,” Jemma admits, and the words but I excel at preparation are on the tip of her tongue, however they end up stuck in her throat, as Skye shoots her a reassuring smile, before reaching out to pull her into a hug.

“You’ve got this, I believe in you.”

“You do?”

Jemma wasn’t sure why the assurance made her feel so light, though given her current situation, going back in time; she supposed she needed this much.

“Yeah, and if all else fails, just remember our safeword!”

And with that Skye slips off down the hall leaving Jemma standing mere feet away from her bunk more confused than she’s even been in her life.

She’s not sure how she makes it through the rest of their preparations, Jemma’s half certain that she’s not saying the right things at the right moment and honestly she cannot remember exactly what she said before, it’s all a blur now going back through it.

Jemma’s not good at improvising never has been, all too well she can remember the time in the Hub that would make her cheeks flushed if she wasn’t so focused on trying to remember exactly what she said before, sitting across from Coulson.

“But you made time for your work and your prostitutes!”

“Prostitutes? Plural?”

Jemma’s watched enough science fiction movies in her life time to know how this is supposed to go.

She’s seen Groundhog Day and every other story about being stuck in a time loop. Though normally the people in these loops are unwilling participants, unable to change anything significantly, but needlessly repeating the same cycle until they learn some sort of moral of the story.

The thing is Jemma already knows the moral of this story.

At least, she thinks she does.

She’s already seen what happens if she messes it up, this is her chance to go back and fix things, the only problem is, she can’t figure out what has to change. So she sticks to the lines, the same old story, the sinking feeling in her gut when the comms cut out. 

“Go to the luggage car, lock yourself in with Fitz and Skye. Don’t come out until I come to get you.”

There’s a sound of a scuffle already by time she gets there, the device already in his hand, she does just what she did before, pulling him towards her to protect the other members of her team.

Waking up to the sound of people in what feels like a moment later, she doesn’t fire the Night-Night gun this time already knowing who it is, instead she ambles forward with the story, “where’s Fitz and Skye?”

 

2

She’s falling endlessly spiraling out of control.

“So we’re going in undercover?”

“I hate undercover.”

Jemma sits jittery the entire time trying to do it just like before.

Something has to change and she’s not quite sure what.

She keeps her eyes open wide watching everything, watching for the opportunity to fix this.

Everything plays out like before, slowly as if the world moves in slow motion

“Search the house, find her now!”

“SIMMONS, GET DOWN HERE!”

 

4

She has a plan this time, as soon as Coulson leaves from where she’s at, she immediately heads to the luggage car, making it in time to pass off the message that they’ve been made.

It doesn’t change anything.

Skye is still bleeding out in the end sitting in Quinn’s basement.

 

6

Her fingers are going numb as turns back the time.

Closing her eyes and wishing it away, like it had never happened at all.

 

7

“I’m going with Skye,” Jemma insists, cutting Coulson off in the middle of delving out the teams, “we can be the young couple and Fitz can go with Coulson.”

“That works for me,” Skye says with a wink that would normally have Jemma blushing if this wasn’t the fourth time she had lived through this day and watch it fail, but it wouldn’t fail this time. This time she would be with Skye when they all separated.

When Coulson has finished talking and the group splits to get prepared for each other their parts and Skye turns to her, wide smile that seems to burn a bit too bright when it’s focused on Jemma. “Ready to be my fake girlfriend,” Skye says, with a laugh, before her expression flickers to being a bit more seriously, “and seriously though, don’t worry. We’ll do great. I know undercover is not really you’re strong suit, but I’ve got your back.”

“Right,” Jemma agrees, this won’t be too hard, she’s done this before.

“Remember our safeword, just in case anything gets too much,” Skye says reaching out to squeeze her shoulders, “now come on! Let me pick you out something cute to wear.”

Jemma doesn’t get the time to oppose before she’s being dragged into Skye’s bunk, the other girl’s hand in hers tugging her along, and sliding the door shut behind them.

“Why are we doing this,” Jemma asks, as she settles down Skye’s bed watching at Skye ruffles through her drawers for some clothing. 

“You’re my fake girlfriend and since I’m the one with fashion sense in this relationship it’s my duty,” Skye says unabashedly, still searching through her drawers.

“I have fashion sense,” Jemma objects.

Skye looks up at that, a clear look of disbelief in her eyes as she sizes Jemma up, almost like she’s being checked out, “isn’t that Fitz’s cardigan?”

“Well yes, but-“

“No buts,” Skye says, before grabbing a shirt from the pile and tossing it in Jemma’s general direction, “try this on.”

Jemma catches the shirt tossed at her and starts to stand up to head over to her bunk and change, when Skye’s groan stops her, “oh my god, just change here, I won’t look,” as if to prove her point, Skye turns back to the drawers.

She lets out a laugh at that, but complies, slipping her cardigan off her shoulders and moving to the buttons of her blouse.

“Actually hold on, try these,” Skye says, turning around as she does so to toss some new article of clothing at Jemma, who has only just gotten off her blouse, the shift Skye had tossed her before still in her hand.

For a second they awkwardly stare at each other, or Jemma awkwardly stares at Skye, whose gaze is something completely indescribable. Jemma opens her mouth to start speaking, “it’s fine-“

“Is you’re bra neon green,” Skye cuts her off with a question and a raised eyebrow.

“Yes,” Jemma squeaks back, her face now turning red “it’s a matching set.”

“That’s so-“

“Embarrassing, I know, they’re just really comfortable and-“

“Actually that’s really hot,” Skye says with a smirk, “you’re the hottest fake girlfriend I’ve ever had!”

“You did not just say that,” Jemma says, still quite embarrassed by the turn of events.

“Come on cutie, hurry up and get dressed, we’ve got a train to catch.”

For a second Jemma had almost forgotten why she was here, the light conversation between them mixed with her embarrassment had muddled her mind, but at those words her fingers instinctively went to the pocket watch around her neck, taking a deep breath to steady herself she manages a small smile that seemed to satisfy Skye for the moment.

Though the act became harder to keep up as they boarded the train, settling into seats of their own. Skye talking some nonsense that Jemma would regretfully admit she hadn’t been paying attention to. Instead she watched wide brown eyes that lit up with excitement and soft pinks lips that quirked up in a smile, and tried not to remember them as how she had seem them before. Eyes shut, cheeks pale, blood coating her lips as she lay dying on the ground.

When the train’s steward comes down the hallway, Skye tugs her up with her, fingers slotting in between hers effortlessly, a quick squeeze for luck.

“We are celebrating our six month anniversary with a whirlwind trip all through Europe. Well, technically we met six months ago, but she didn’t ask me out until last month. So our officially one month anniversary isn’t until next-“

“Saturday.”

“Saturday,” Skye finish their voices overlapping, “aww, you remembered!”

“I just-“

“Isn’t she just adorable,” Skye presses a kiss to her cheek at that, which cuts off anything else Jemma might have been thinking about saying.  “Honestly, I think she thought I was intimidating,” Skye says darting forward towards the steward, and from the corner of her eye Jemma notices her stealing the keys, so that’s how that was done.

“Young love, it’s beautiful,” the train’s steward says, not having noticed anything amiss, before he turns heading on his way.

The steward’s obliviousness is enough to get them into the luggage car and in a second she’s helping Skye set up the various computers around the room, running programs that Jemma barely understands, and okay, maybe she gets it why Fitz is normally the one that stays with Skye, because at least he would have a clue what’s going on. Thankfully Skye takes charge easily enough and things are up and running a second later.

They sit side by side staring at the computers and Jemma only jumps slightly when Skye’s hand slides against the leg of her pants, soft fingers rubbing circles against her skin, it’s soothing and calms the nerves that had been running high through her since they had gotten on the train.

“Just breathe,” Skye whispers, “we got this.”

Except they don’t have it.

Things fall out too quickly for Jemma to make sense of the numbers flashing on their screen, everything goes black and before they even burst in she already knows, “we’ve been made.”

“We have to warn the others,” Skye says standing up.

“They should already know by now,” Jemma says, quickly reaching into their bags for the where the Night-Night Gun is hidden. Normally she would never had advocated for bringing real guns, but in this case a real gun would have been a lot more useful and a lot more satisfying.

The resulting skirmish goes as well as she could have predicted it to have gone, at least, it’s not Jemma that ends up hit by the device this time. It’s Fitz coming in a moment too late to warn them about something that they already knew and gets hit by the device. She’s not certain whether to feel pleased or nervous that he did exactly what she had done when in that situation,

This was the part of the story that Jemma didn’t know, the part that she hadn’t had played out before.

She watches through the dirty train windows as they stop.

“We should follow them,” Skye says.

Following them would lead back to Quinn’s mansion, would lead to Skye getting shot, but what choice did they have? They had to stop him somehow.

When they get to the mansion they’re suck without a plan and it’s only after Skye insists that she’s going in and asks if Jemma could disable to cars that she realizes that was the moment. The moment where she was supposed to save Skye, to stop her from dying again.

It’s only later as she tries to stop the bleeding tears in her eyes, that she vows next time to be the one that goes inside Quinn’s mansion.

 

8

 “Here use this to disable the cars,” Jemma says pressing the device, Fitz’s handiwork into Skye’s hands, “I’ll go in there and sort this out.”

“Do you really think that’s the best idea? I mean, you’re the scientist and I’m-“

“The untrained self-righteous idiot it goes into situations without planning,” Jemma says, noting that her comment far harsher than she should have, if the shocked look on Skye’s face was anything to go by.

Once she fixed things there would be time for explanations, time for Jemma to make her apologies. At least that is the plan that she sticks with as she stands up, tugs her hair back into a quick ponytail so it’s out of the way and listens as Skye reminds her to, “be careful.”

An echo of the very words that has escaped Jemma’s lips when their positions were reversed.

She makes it into the building in time to see what she’s always missed before, the reason why they have the hyperbaric chamber, she files away that knowledge in the back of her head for later, but that doesn’t seem to matter when Quinn turns on her gun held out in his hand. She can barely breathe  because she knows what’s coming, flinches back from the impact as the bullet finds its place in her abdomen.

Jemma tries to grab at the watch to turn back the time, but she doesn’t make it, her fingers ghosting red over the device.

Everything goes fuzzy at the edges, and the next thing she knows there’s another hand joining hers against her chest. She blinks through the haze to see Skye looming over her, panicked she speaks out, “no, don’t leave me, please.”

Jemma cannot find the words to reply, but Skye calls out to the rest of the team and before she knows it they’re all there, and she sees Fitz who looks so close to breaking as well, his expression crumbles at the sight of her before seeming to realize something.

“Jem, I need your hand,” Fitz says crouching beside her and pushing the others away, and as he takes her hand in his he seems to know what he’s doing, moving her fingers to the pocket watch, towards her ticket back to safety, “promise me, next time you’ll tell me what’s happening,” is the last thing she hears before it all fades to black and she’s not sure if she’s falling or dying.

Is there even a difference anymore?

 

9

It doesn’t feel like falling this time, but like suffocating and then rising from the ashes. When she opens her eyes at the familiar table, her fingers first grip desperately to the front of her shirt, she tries to catch her breath but the tears creep up on her too fast.

“Jemma,” Fitz says, his tone worried, “are you alright?”

She shakes her head quickly, before darting from the room. She can’t sit there at that table anymore waiting for the inevitable.

It’s Fitz that follows her out, even though she had shoved away his comforting hand in her need to escape from the group. There’s worry pinching his features together as he speaks softly this time, “Jem,” he offers, in a tone that reminds her too much of the way he had said it last, as she was slipping away losing consciousness.

“I just died,” she admits slowly, “or nearly died.”

“I know you don’t like undercover,” he offers, confusion still clear, “but I-“

“No, Fitz, Leo, god no, not like that,” she rambles, reaching up to run a hand through her hair in an attempt to calm herself down. As she brings her hand down her fingers brush against the pocket watch, “do you know what this is?”

It’s only as she mentions it that he seems to notice the necklace and his eyes widen slightly, “so it works then?”

“Clearly, I’m here now aren’t I,” Jemma says, gesturing to herself as she speaks. 

“Right, of course,” he says, before realization seems to hit and he’s stepping forward to pull her into a tight hug. He may not understand what’s happening and Jemma is in no real mood to explain, but she collapses into the hug anyways. “I’m glad you’re safe now, and Jem, I’ll make sure you stay safe this time. I promise.”

He holds true to that promise.

She just wishes he didn’t have to have a hero complex, which would make all of this a lot easier.

 

10

“So we’re going in undercover?”

“I hate undercover.”

When she comes back to the table she’s crying.

“Jemma,” she hears Fitz start, just like he had the time before when Jemma came back to the table fearing her own life. Him speaking now though that only makes it worse, because she can see him dying. It’s as bad as losing Skye time and time again, because Fitz has been her best friend, her rock, for as long as she can remember, and the thought that that might have been their reality was not something Jemma liked to consider. When he puts a hand on her arm to try and be supportive she folds into the hug instantly.

Her voice comes out a choked whisper, “I can’t keep watching everyone die.”

Jemma struggles to ignore the voice that sounds oddly Fitz like in her head that reminds her part of doing this over is that she cannot tell anybody, but he would surely understand. If the way Fitz seems to stiffen in her arms is any indicator he does.

“We’ll be right back,” Fitz said to the rest of the group before ushering her away from them like she were a wild animal, capable of running away at any moment. Then again, she supposed that she was, were she only to reach towards her pocket watch she could set everything back to how it was moments before.

Once they’re safe inside the lab doors shut behind them Jemma pulls back, scrubbing at her eyes, no doubt looking like a mess.

“So it works then,” Fitz says after a moment’s pause, eye locking on the pocket watch around her neck, normally nobody seemed to notice it, but now Fitz’s eyes were locked on the piece of jewelry.

 

12

She doesn’t tell Fitz this time.

She doesn’t tell anybody.

Maybe her Fitz did have a point when he had mentioned not letting anybody else know, it doesn’t make anything different, just makes it harder to bear.

 

14

“So we’re going in undercover?”

“I hate undercover.”

 

16

“I just wanted to wish you luck,” Skye corners her on her way to her bunk, “I know undercover’s not really your strong suit.”

“If I told you that one of us was probably going to die today what would you do,” Jemma asks, in a moment of desperation.

“I would make sure that our last moments are ones we wouldn’t regret,” Skye replies without any sort of hesitation.

“How?”

The question is barely out there, before Skye darts forward, and for a second Jemma thinks she’s about to be pulled into a hug like she had been so many times before, but this is different. This time Skye kisses her, something so different than the play act kiss on her cheek when they had pretended to be a couple. It made her whole body feel light and something sort of clicked all at once like oh, this was what she had been missing.

Jemma supposed if it all was going to go to hell anyways, she might as well enjoy the moment.

 

18

“Search the house, find her now,” Coulson says, it feels numb now, too much like déjà vu, that she barely even reacts when he calls, “SIMMONS, GET DOWN HERE!”

 

 

20

One time Jemma just says it out right as everybody is making plans, because fuck it why not, she’s tried everything else.

“It’s going to be in the back car. Quinn has got his men throughout the train car, they’re going to notice May on the roof and use a jammer to cut off our communications. They have these things that look like smokebombs, but they’re actually more like the Night-Night Gun. The Italian government is in on it, they’re not on our side. Quinn is staying at a house that I can give you the coordinates for, and he’s going to shoot Skye and we’re going to have to put her in a hyperbaric chamber they have set up there. I still haven’t figured out why they have a hyperbaric chamber in the first place, but you know, twentieth time’s the charm!”

They’re all looking at her like she’s crazy.

“How do you know that,” Coulson is the one who finally speaks, looking over her with a worried expression.

“Because I’ve done this before,” Jemma says sharply, “have you ever seen the movie Groundhog Day? Well, it’s sort of like that, everything goes wrong every time and I get sent back here to try and fix it, because this stupid thing,” she says gesturing at the necklace that nobody ever seem to notice until she points it out, “Fitz made it so it won’t let me go back until I fix this, but I can’t fix it on my own!”

I can’t fix anything.

 

21

At some point it seems easier to give up.

To walk away from everybody else talking and crawl back into her bunk, curl into a ball and wonder if there will ever be a way out if they can ever win this or if she should just stop trying.

 

24

She kisses Skye again, because knowing their going to lose everything she doesn’t have time for regrets anymore.

Jemma tries to feel everything to commit that moment to her memory.

Then, she tries not to feel anything when Skye dies again.

 

27

She rereads the Prisoner of Azkaban, because she’s beginning to feel a bit too much like Hermione, but Hermione would have had an answer to this by now while Jemma doesn’t. She just has a hallow feeling in her chest left from watching her friends die too many times and a fear of falling.

 

28

Her life’s not a romantic comedy movie, Jemma knows that now, because in romcoms nobody has to suffer this much. If her life was a movie she would have figured this out by now. Instead she spends them time between the announcement that they’re going undercover and when the plane lands watching Groundhog Day wondering if maybe there was some moral of the story that she was missing, some greater life lesson she was supposed to learn.

 

32

 “I just wanted to wish you luck, I know undercover’s not really your-“ Skye doesn’t get to finish the sentence and Jemma doesn’t need to hear the end of it, she already has heard it what feels like hundreds of times before, though she bitterly knows it hasn’t been that long. She’s been keeping count and could rattle off the number thirty-two without any doubt in her mind.

Except in that moment, she’s not thinking about thirty-two or about what comes next,  instead she crossed the space between them to fit their lips together silencing Skye with a kiss. The hacker only hesitates for a moment before she puts herself fully into the kiss, hands coming up to tangle in Jemma’s hair her tongue running against her lower lip, intensifying the kiss effortlessly.

They only break apart when they need to come up for air, pulling apart Jemma can clearly see how flushed Skye is, the color high up on her cheeks, lips still slightly parted, already dark eyes seeming ever darker now that they’re mere inches apart.

“I didn’t realize you felt the same,” Skye says barely more than a whisper.

“Well, I do,” Jemma says the words fumbling awkwardly on her tongue.

“For how long?”

“A while,” she admits vaguely, because oh god, how did she ever begin to explain that she had only realized her feelings after losing her, watching her die over and over again.

Thankfully, she doesn’t have, because the answer seems to suit Skye just as well. The other woman lights up at that, “you know we have some time before we land,” she says with a vague hint of innuendo there, and yeah Jemma knows this won’t end well, that in a few hours she’ll be turning the clock back, but right now in this moment she can’t seem to care. Not when Skye is playfully tugging her into her bunk and sliding the door shut behind them.

It’s rushed, but sweet, and she’s honestly not sure where her sweater gets in all the mess, but soon enough it won’t matter anyways.

This is more than just a kiss in the hallway and she knows it will be impossible not to remember this, not to let it get to her.

The wink Skye at her, as she and Fitz pass by where Jemma sits with Coulson doesn’t make up for it.

Though her voice in her ear is almost soothing when Skye playfully says, “hey beautiful,” in a soft coo.

Then as usual comms cut out and Coulson goes running off.

“Go to the luggage car, lock yourself in with Fitz and Skye.”

“We’ve been made- bloody hell-” “JEMMA!”

It’s Skye screaming her name this time as she pulls the man with the device towards her to save them, she tries to think that that should count for something as everything fades to black for the briefest of moments and she wakes up lying on the ground.

“Where are Fitz and Skye?”

 “Search the house, find her now!”

“SIMMONS, GET DOWN HERE!”

She can hear the sound of everyone else rushing down to where Coulson is calling from and she can’t do it, not this time, she can’t look at Skye bleeding out and try to fix it when it’s already too late. She clutches to the watch like a lifeline, spinning the dial and feeling the familiar rush of falling.

She’s too used to it by now, that her fear of falling almost seems to shirk in comparison.

It’s progress though not necessarily in the right direction.

 

33

 “So we’re going in undercover?”

“I hate undercover.”

“I just wanted to wish you luck, I know undercover’s not really your strong suit.“

 “Prostitutes? Plural?”

“Go to the luggage car, lock yourself in with Fitz and Skye.”

“Search the house, find her now!”

“SIMMONS, GET DOWN HERE.”

Breath in, breath out. Turn back time.

 

35

 “Go to the luggage car, lock yourself in with Fitz and Skye.”

“Search the house, find her now!”

“SIMMONS, GET DOWN HERE!”

 

37

“Search the house, find her now!”

“SIMMONS, GET DOWN HERE!”

 

40

“SIMMONS, GET DOWN HERE!”

 

42

 “So we’re going in undercover?”

“I hate undercover.”

“Manscaping,” Jemma says as soon as she gets solid footing. When everyone looks at her confused, Jemma instantly turns to where Skye is standing across the table, looks her straight in the eyes and repeats, “manscaping.”

“Right now,” Skye asks.

When Jemma nods, she pushes up away from the table and Jemma is all too quick to help steers Skye out of the room, because there was one thing she hadn’t tried yet. One thing she had been terrified to try since the moment she had tried telling Fitz about the time loop and had to watch him die.

“It’s their safeword,” she hears Fitz explain as they slip out of the room.

Though it’s Ward’s reply that makes her laugh lightly as she drags Skye away, “Well, that’s more of their sex life than I ever needed to know.”

Forty-two times, enough that the nerdy voice in the back of her head reminds her that somebody once called this number the answer to the ultimate question, and maybe that’s what compels her to do it. To try one last thing, one thing she had been afraid to try before, because if nothing else, maybe that unknown question was really how many times does it take to save a life?

Jemma leads Skye towards her bunk, sitting down on the bed she starts slowly, “I have a story to tell you. One that you’re probably not going to believe, but I need you to trust me.”

 “I trust you,” Skye says.

And with that Jemma launches into a story, an abridged version, because they don’t have enough time for her to tell the story of every time she had relived this day, every outcome that she had tried and every time they had failed, but what she does tell is enough that the color drains of Skye’s face.

It’s the exact opposite of what she wanted and for a moment they both sit in silence, before Skye speaks.

“Maybe you’ve been going about this all wrong,” Skye says, “I mean, what if you’re not supposed to be able to fix things.”

“Pardon?”

“It’s like the Greeks said, fate can’t be avoided, or something like that, the point knowing what’s coming doesn’t change anything,” Skye continues, “and maybe it’s a bit like the Final Destination movies where somehow it has to end with somebody getting shot. Jemma have you ever tried playing out exactly like the first time?”

“Yes,” Jemma answers instantly, “the first time I came back I did, but you still got shot and I-“

“And you restarted the story,” she finished her sentence.

“Right.”

“Going back in time, changing history, that’s cheating,” Skye says.

“You do realize you just quoted Star Trek, right?”

“Did I,” Skye asks, quirking an eyebrow, “either way, that’s not the point.”

“And what is?

Skye still had the pocket watch in her hand, Jemma’s eyes were glued to the device, like it was a lifeline, so she saw what Skye did with perfect clarity. A gasp that was more like a sound of pain escaped her lips as Skye slammed the watch down against the top her bedside table, the gears and mechanics making a sickening sound as they broke.

“Why did you?”

“Because this is it there’s no going back,” Skye answers, a dangerously mischievous look in her eyes, “the pressure is on.”

Jemma wants to object, exclaim that this isn’t right, that this wasn’t what she had in mind when she told Skye about what had been going on. Skye took away her chance to go back, but Jemma knew if she really wanted to she could find a way that there would be another opportunity hours after everything has happened, where Fitz will hold out a device identical to the one Skye had just broken, offering her an opportunity to go back and fix things.

“I believe in you,” Skye says after a moment, “I can see just how wonderful you are, and I know, no matter what happens next, when I wake up again, you’ll be there waiting for me, and you can tell me all about time traveling and science mumbo jumbo. So just, believe in yourself, for my sake.”

“I can’t watch you die again,” Jemma says, her voice tight.

“You won’t have to,” Skye says, and she has that look on her face, the one that Jemma has only just learned means that she has a plan, and that should probably worry her a bit. The last time she had this look had been mere moments before when she broke the watch.

“And how can you be so sure?”

“Just trust me.”

Trusting her would be a lot easier if she hadn’t seen this story played out too many times to count. If she hadn’t already lost Skye so many times.

Though it becomes hard to think or even worry, when the other girl leans forward and presses their lips together. In a kiss that seems familiar to Jemma even though technically this for Skye this would have been their first kiss.

When she pulls back her smile isn’t sheepish as it might have been in the past, but confident, “remember, Jemma, I got this one.”

There’s no going back, the words repeat like a mantra in her head, but Skye wants her to play things out like they had the first time. So Jemma does, she stumbles over the word she’s said too many times, drops the fake urn onto the ground and wonders if this was what she was supposed to have learned from all of this.

That she couldn’t change things, which some things just have to happen.

And when she bursting into the luggage car to tell them that she’s been made, she meets Skye’s eyes for the briefest of moments, watches as she winks at her, and wonders if that will be the last time that happens.

By time they make it to the mansion it should be too late, even with Jemma breaking the rules a bit and helping figure out the coordinates that she already has memorized. And when they get there and Coulson and Ward are trying to intimidate Quinn into giving them answers, Jemma brushes past them, because she knows where Skye will be and if this is to be the last time, then she needs to make it there in time she needs to get her into the hyperbaric chamber before her internal temperature drops too low.

Skye’s slumped against the wall, just like she’s always been before, but she’s smiling ever so slightly.

“I thought Coulson was supposed to find me first,” Skye says softly.

“I may have broken the rules,” Jemma admits.

“Look at you, breaking the rules, and I thought you didn’t approve of my bad girl shenanigans,” Skye laughs, though as she laughs she winces handing going to her wound.

“You’ve been shot,” Jemma states the obvious, already her hand moving to pull Skye up, “we need to get you into the hyperbaric chamber.”

“No, we don’t,” Skye says with that mischievous smile, and Jemma wants to tell her that it’s not the time for that.

“Yes, we-“

“You know the best thing about working for a secret government agency is that we always get such useful gadgets, but sometimes you get so caught up in things like magic pocket watches and night-night guns that you forget about the basics,” Skye says, taking Jemma’s offered hands and staggering to her feet with more grace than somebody who has just been shot should have.

“What do you mean?”

“Bulletproof vests,” Skye says, her fingers undoing the button on her shirt, “and fake blood.”

“Pardon?”

“I had to get shot at, but it doesn’t mean I had to die,” Skye replies triumphantly, “I just had to make Quinn think that he had succeeded.”

And oh, oh.

“Then you’re not,” Jemma starts.

“Just some minor bruising and possibly a broken rib,” Skye says, “but I’m alive.”

She’s alive.

They’re all alive.

They did it.

Skye did it.

Jemma’s crying again, but this time it’s a good cry, she’s crying of happiness as she steps forward to hug Skye towards her, not caring that the fake blood will probably stain her shirt. And when Skye mumbles against her chest, that she wants to kiss her, it’s laughter that bubbles up inside of her, before she complies.

And if that’s how the rest of the team finds them minutes later, slightly bloodied and kissing, Jemma can’t seem to find herself caring.

There will be time to explain later, all the time in the world.