Jemma Simmons can’t breathe. She can’t breathe and that’s a problem, because she’s never had trouble with flying before, and she’s not about to start now. It sets a bad precedent. That was some pretty serious evasive flying, back there, though, all hairpin turns and careening speed and, for once, and actual loop-the-loop.
That’s alright, though, Jemma thinks she could handle that. The thing that’s got her stomach tied in knots is that Melinda May is grinning, wide and cutthroat as she carries them through the gamut of aerial maneuvers safely, and Jemma’s heart is in her throat.
She’s a little shaky getting off the plane after they land, but she doesn’t think it’s visible. Well, it’s visible to Fitz, who shoots her a concerned look, questioning gaze of her face until she shakes her head, but Fitz doesn’t count. She’s given up trying to hide anything from him. It’s Melinda May herself who calls Jemma on it, though, which is mortifying and counter-productive, since May’s warm, dry fingers at Jemma’s elbow as she asks, “Alright, there?” makes something lurch even more dangerously in Jemma’s gut.
She summons a smile, though, and a nod, at least, if not any actual words, and apparently that’s enough—Melinda May nods back and walks away. Jemma wonders if maybe she should have swooned.
Hill, who appeared Jemma-doesn’t-know-when, though she’s sure she would have noticed if Melinda May hadn’t been being absolutely unfair, smiles at her and says, with something like understanding in her tone, glancing off after Melinda May, “Yeah, she does that.”
“I’d noticed,” Jemma says, forcing the breathlessness out of her tone by a sheer display of willpower. Agent Hill smiles at her as non-terrifyingly as Agent Hill does anything, and tells her kindly, “You get used to it.”
“Really?” Jemma is sure she can’t imagine being unfazed about Melinda May at her Melinda-May-est.
“No,” Hill says, rueful, “Not really. Not yet anyway, but I’m hoping.”
Jemma doesn’t live with Leo, because that would be ridiculous. They work together, spend all day together, go out together when they need to unwind, and generally even take their vacations together, when SHIELD will allow it, because it gets really lonely in the workshop when only one of them is there. She doesn’t live with Leo because they’ve agreed to at least pretend not to be so attached at the brain in hopes that it will convince Jemma’s parents to stop asking them when they’re going to give them some proper grandchildren, and not those adorable little robots Leo made for them last Christmas.
That doesn’t mean she doesn’t have a place on Leo’s couch any day of the week she wants, though, and his bed too, if she’s feeling lonely. The week her grandmother died, Leo had made the guy he’d been seeing at the time sleep on the couch so she could stay with him.
(The relationship hadn’t lasted much longer than that, and Jemma had felt sorry for it—right up until Leo had admitted that Mitchell had laughed at the Disney names for the nano-tech, and not in a nice way.)
It’s this very open-door policy which makes her comfortable with stopping at a shop after work and then showing up at his place a half an hour later, and then unlocking the door with her key and sweeping in, a rather nice bottle of chardonnay in one hand and a fuzzy gray sweater held closed tight across her chest with the other. “It’s unfair!” she announces loudly to the empty hallway, before making her way to the kitchen, still shouting. “Fitz, this is not what I signed on for!”
She’s located the large wineglass she’d broken down and brought over from her own flat a few months back when he pokes his head into the kitchen from the hall and says, “I’m pretty sure you did—we both did. Danger and adventure, remember? World-changing, life-altering stuff?”
“But she’s Melinda May,” Jemma lets herself wail, secure in the certainty that Fitz has fully disassembled any surveillance their workplace might have on his home just as a matter of pride, so there’s no way Melinda is going to see any of this, no matter how terrifyingly brilliant she is.
“That doesn’t mean as much to me as it does to you,” Fitz tells her, smiling a little indulgently. She throws the cork at him, in his general direction, and he laughs as it sails past his ear. “That was terrible, you really must be off your game.”
Jemma pulls her sweater tighter. “I could give you athlete’s foot like medical has never seen. It could be the start of an epidemic, it could be that strong. You could be patient zero.”
“It’s been a long day,” Fitz tells her, like she doesn’t already know. “My feet hurt, come sit.”
An hour later, Jemma is securely ensconced on Leo’s massive, squashy couch, quilt wrapped around her and held there by his arm, head on his shoulder, light buzz hanging around her temples, softening the borders of her awareness, when she tells him, “It would be so much easier if she wasn’t kind underneath it all.”
Leo nods, and she can feel the movement of his chin against her hair. “It would be easier because it wouldn’t be real.”
“Shut up.” Jemma generally likes it when he gets all philosophical, but tonight she’s really not in the mood.
Luckily, her best friend knows her well. “Sure,” he agrees, and that’s the end of that. “Want to watch something?”
Jemma tucks her legs up under her and curls closer, nods. “Any preferences?” he asks, but the last thing she wants to do is think, so she just shakes her head, again against his shoulder, agreement and denial telegraphed through touch, movement against his skin through layers of sweaters. Beside her, Fitz laughs. “I have just the thing, I’ve been saving it for a rainy day,” he tells her.
They don’t sleep much that night, but there’s something infinitely soothing about four weeks worth of recorded Saturday morning cartoons.