“We’re running out of time.”
Bobbi clenches her sweaty hands in fists, shifting her weight from one foot to another to stop tapping her heel on the floor. She’s not achieving much success in her attempt not to afflict Jemma even more; she’s struggling to contain her own anxiety. Bobbi is usually better at keeping herself under control when in high pressure situations, but this isn’t just one of those. Simply because the one whose life is at stake is Jemma.
It’s becoming harder to stay collected as time passes way too quickly. They need more time.
Jemma’s body aches from trying so hard to remain absolutely still for so long. She’s been carefully watching her breathing, trying to make sure it is as slow as rhythmic as she can, but it’s impossible to stay calm in a situation like this. Her chest and back hurt from all the tension she’s enduring, and she feels like every minute that passes brings her closer to a panic attack.
She thinks about the team on the floor below; they’re doing everything they can, but she’s losing hope. They say they’ll get her out of here alive, that there’s still time, that all she needs to do is remain completely still and wait, but it’s not easy to be hopeful when you’re the one standing on the sensor plate wired to the detonator of a bomb.
These past fifteen minutes have been the longest of her life. She’s not in a great situation physically and mentally right now, but she could do this for much longer if necessary. However, this isn’t a matter of resistance; how long she can endure standing completely still on top of a sensor plate is irrelevant because the goddamn bomb also has a timer. A timer getting dangerously close to zero.
“Bobbi, please,” Jemma starts yet again, her voice low and exasperated, trying to find the balance between staying composed in fear that if she moves just a little bit more it will all be over, and speaking quickly enough so that Bobbi can’t cut her off once more. “We both know the bomb is powerful enough to take out this entire building, you and the team must get-”
“Don’t,” Bobbi interrupts dryly, looking up to meet Jemma’s eyes. Her anxiety has been almost fully replaced by pure anger. She’s angry that this is happening, angry that there’s nothing she can do, angry that Jemma is the one standing on top of a bomb. Jemma, the precious, little scientist who shouldn’t even have gone into the field in the first place. And in addition to that, she’s angry that Jemma won’t quit asking them to get out of there. “This isn’t up for discussion. Leaving you here to die is not an option and you know that.”
Jemma sighs. “I am begging you.” Her voice falters and she swallows the lump blocking her throat. This is not the time. And even though she knows they won’t do what she’s asking—not now, not yet—, she can’t stop insisting, because what else could she do? “If you can’t do it for yourself, do it for me.” She blinks away the tears but one streams down her cheek and she can’t move to wipe it away. Her throat feels like it’s burning but she continues. “I want to die alone rather than killing all of you as well.”
Bobbi’s anger fades away as soon as she notices Jemma’s watery eyes. Her hand automatically moves to reach for Jemma’s face, and she’s close enough to do so, but then she remembers she can’t and lets the hand fall beside her body.
According to the team, who are currently on the floor below doing everything they can to either defuse the bomb or disconnect it from the sensor plate, the smallest of movements could be what it takes for the pressure on the sensor plate to be enough. Their theory is that the only reason it hasn't exploded yet is that the device was projected to be activated by the pressure of a person slightly heavier than Jemma, meaning someone else simply stepping on it could've made the bomb explode. And if the pressure didn't set off the bomb, at least it made the timer start running, to make sure they wouldn't get out of there alive. But they can’t know exactly how sensitive the plate is, and Jemma doesn’t want to find out.
“Jemma,” Bobbi says under her breath, but just as she’s about to try comforting her girlfriend, Trip’s apprehensive voice coming from her earpiece catches her attention. And what he informs her gives her a sinking feeling in the pit of the stomach.
Jemma notices when her entire body tenses and immediately wants to know what she heard. A part of her wishes the team hadn’t turned off her earpiece in order not to distress her any more, but the other part is pretty sure she’s already upset enough as it is. Maybe the silence is better, but now Jemma can’t stand the look in Bobbi’s eyes.
“What is it?” Jemma can feel herself starting to panic. It’s not the first time she’s faced imminent death, but what truly makes her heart squeeze painfully is the thought of possibly taking the whole team along with her. And it’s not the first time she’s been faced with that possibility either.
Except last time she was about to blow something up, it was her own body infected with a Chitauri virus, and she had the option to jump out of the plane and allow the team to survive, whereas now she can do nothing but stand still like she’s nailed down to the ground and hope for the best.
“Nothing, don’t worry,” Bobbi dismisses her, failing to hide the agony on her face.
“Tell me what’s happening, Bobbi!” She demands, her pulse racing as her eyes sting with unshed tears. If she gets out of this, if she’s lucky enough to survive this time, she wants to run across a huge, empty field and just scream at the top of her lungs. She wants to scream and to be able to move, move as much and as freely as possible, so badly that it feels like her chest might burst.
Her girlfriend looks slightly taken aback by her sudden yelling, but thankfully she understands that Jemma has the right to know and doesn’t deny her that.
“It’s the timer,” Bobbi explains, her voice lower and calmer, like it always gets when she’s delivering bad news. It sounds like she’s already bracing herself for what’s coming next, and it’s not going to be easy. “They’re making progress, but there are only three minutes left.”
Three minutes. At first, Jemma thinks it’s okay. She knew this. She knew there was a huge chance that they weren't going to be able to save her and she’s already accepted it. Now it’s time the team save themselves, because it’s over for her. She looks at Bobbi and nods slightly.
However, the realization doesn’t come as peacefully as she hoped. It hits her like a punch to the stomach and knocks the breath out of her lungs, but the air comes back just as quickly and soon she’s hyperventilating. She wants to stop but she can only do so much as choke back a sob while a few tears stream down her face. It takes her a moment to regain control and she bites her lower lip to the point where she can taste blood.
She can’t afford to have a full-blown breakdown right now; she can’t make this harder for Bobbi than it already is. At least the rest of the team can’t see her like this, struggling to stop crying. That makes it easier for them to do what they have to do. And the last image they’ll have of her is a nicer one, from when they were all together on their way to this location, before they were separated and assigned different parts of the three-story abandoned building to sweep and look for what should’ve been an 0-8-4. It turned out they were ambushed and the object of unknown origin was actually one large bomb of unknown origin.
In a way, Jemma has saved the team already. If other agents had been assigned this floor to sweep instead and Bobbi and her, one of them could’ve easily walked past the sensor plate and set off the bomb immediately, bringing the whole building crashing down. Jemma was lucky that she was walking slowly across the room and froze as soon as she felt something give away under her feet and heard the metallic click that told her something was wrong. That thought comforts her a little bit. The rest of them can survive.
Bobbi, however, refuses to act like it’s over already.
Not getting attached to anyone, the goal that so many people in their line of business strive to accomplish, sounds promising when she’s faced with a situation like this. Bobbi has lost loved ones before, even witnessed their deaths and it’s not the first time she can’t do anything about it. She wants to punch something until her knuckles bleed, and then cry because this isn’t fair and she can’t believe she’s about to lose Jemma Simmons like this.
The team are still trying to stop the bomb from exploding, doing the best they can with Fitz’s vast knowledge of engineering added to all the help the other members of the team can provide. But it has gotten to a point where the Director has no choice but to consider leaving. The voices Bobbi hears through her earpiece are so sad and exasperated that she wants to pull out the device and smash it between her fingers.
While Fitz is focused on the task and plainly ignoring what the others say around him, completely refusing to give up, the quiver in Skye’s voice makes it clear that she’s tearing up as she gets into a heated discussion with Coulson and says that he can flee the building if he wants to, but she’s staying until the very last minute, to which Fitz responds, “so am I.”
Bobbi can sympathize with that.
When Jemma looks up to meet Bobbi’s gaze, a look of pure determination in her eyes, Bobbi already knows what she’s about to say. “There’s still time,” Bobbi says in the most soothing voice she can manage. “I’ll be here until that’s not true anymore.”
“By then we’ll all be dead, Bobbi,” Jemma counters, and there’s not a hint of anything but persistence in her voice. The begging is over, she’s now demanding. “Get out of here,” she says slowly, every word filled with the strongest determination to make sure she’s heard. “Run, run as far away from here as possible, run out of this room and take the team with you. Do it. Do it for me.”
“I’m not leaving you,” Bobbi replies, and it pains her to argue with Jemma right now but she can’t do it, she can’t just leave. Not when there’s still time. Two minutes, nine seconds.
Jemma sighs and when she speaks again, she’s screaming. “Get out! I don’t want you here,” she says, and she knows she’s being awful and hurting Bobbi when all she wishes she could do is hug her girlfriend one more time. But she knows that’s not possible so she has to make sure Bobbi and the team survive this. “I’m dying and this is the last thing I’m asking for and I want you to leave me alone.”
Bobbi frowns, bewildered as the tears start to well in. “Jemma, I-”
She’s interrupted by multiple voices speaking at the same time through her earpiece, and holds her breath.
“Are you sure?”
“Agent Morse, can you hear us?”
“You bet your ass we’re sure!”
She raises her eyebrows and gapes at Jemma, heart hammering against her ribcage.
“Bobbi, it’s over! The sensor plate is no longer connected to the detonator; get Jemma and get out of there both of you!”
Bobbi hears celebrations coming from Trip and Mack; she’s not sure whether Skye is laughing, crying or both, and someone apparently high-fives a very relieved Fitz.
Jemma stares at her, a flicker of hope in her eyes as she watches Bobbi’s expression morph into happiness all of a sudden. Still, she panics when Bobbi steps forward and into the delimited area of the sensor plate, but that weight leaves her shoulders all at once when nothing happens.
“You’re not dying, Jemma.”
Bobbi reaches for Jemma’s wrist as she takes a step backward, away from the sensor plate even though it’s deactivated, and pulls Jemma with her, just in time for Jemma to seemingly melt into her embrace, falling in Bobbi’s arms as her entire body shivers frantically. She laces her own arms around Bobbi’s neck, her knees too weak to support herself, tears streaming down her cheeks but this time they’re filled with relief. Bobbi rubs her hands across Jemma’s back, placing multiple sweet kisses on top of her hair. When Jemma rests her head against Bobbi’s chest, their bodies as close as possible, desperate for each other’s warmth, Bobbi thinks, this has got to be the best feeling in the world. This, holding your precious, little girlfriend in your arms, and knowing that she’s safe and that you’ll never allow anything like this to happen to her ever again.
The team keeps telling them to get out of the building, because the bomb is still going to explode. Thankfully, the building is abandoned and so is the area around it, so no lives will be lost. Bobbi isn’t worried anymore. One minute, sixteen seconds. All they have to do is run downstairs and out of the building, away from the imminent explosion. Now, the time they have is enough.