Jemma blinked once, then again, finding herself at a loss for words. For a brief moment she thought May was joking, but her expression squelched even that slim chance.
“I don’t…why…what?” Jemma finally managed to eke out.
May stared at her for a moment, her expression almost sympathetic. Almost.
“What part don’t you understand?”
“The part where I need to go undercover at a bondage club,” Jemma blurted out, her face flushing rapidly. She suddenly understood why May was briefing her on this and not Director Coulson. Good lord, she would have died on the spot.
“It’s a two person operation, requiring a dominant and a submissive. You're our best option as the sub.”
Jemma quickly ran through the available agents, desperate to offer a better alternative. Any alternative, really, but there wasn’t. Most of the team was gone on various assignments. Saying Jemma was their best option was May being polite, because in reality she was their only option. Jemma closed her eyes and took a deep breath, trying to tell herself this was a good thing. Getting more field experience, increasing her value to the team.
“It’s only for one night, Simmons, and you won’t have to do much. Your partner will be the one responsible for gathering the intel.”
Jemma opened her eyes. There was definite sympathy being directed at her this time. Jemma swallowed and nodded. Even found herself attempting a weak smile. She could handle one night.
May stood up. “It’s in two days. You’ll get a mission briefing tonight.” She belatedly wished Jemma good luck before disappearing down the hall.
Jemma remained sitting, still dazed by the entire conversation, and suddenly wondering who her partner would be. Rather, who her dom would be. Or would it be domme? With a resigned sigh, Jemma pushed herself away from the table and made her way to her quarters. It was only one night she reminded herself. Perhaps it wouldn’t be quite as bad as she feared.
Jemma stared at herself in the mirror, wondering for the twelfth time why she’d said yes to this. Not that it was ever posed as a question. Her agreement was implicitly expected, hence why they chose her for this role she supposed.
A sharp knock sounded on the door. “Ready, Simmons?” Bobbi called out.
“Yes. Sort of,” Jemma replied. She was dressed, but she certainly wasn’t ready.
Jemma turned away from the mirror to let Agent Morse into the room. Upon seeing Jemma’s outfit, Bobbi’s eyes flashed momentarily. Jemma didn’t have time to decipher it before becoming distracted by what Bobbi was wearing. She wasn’t showing nearly as much skin, but her top was tight enough that it left little to the imagination.
“That’s…you look…um,” Jemma fumbled. “That’s a lot of buckles.”
Bobbi glanced down at her clothing. “Yes, it is,” she said smirking. “It took me half an hour to get them all done.” Jemma didn’t doubt it. In fact, she was amazed it didn’t take longer.
“Whereas it unfortunately took me very little time to put this on.” Jemma smoothed the skirt of her dress down, as if doing so would somehow lengthen it. “There isn’t enough dress to my dress.”
“True,” Bobbi replied. “But what little there is looks good on you.”
Jemma glanced up, surprised by the compliment. “Thank you,” she said quietly. “I think.”
“Come on, then.”
“Perhaps we can wait here until after we touch down?” At Bobbi’s questioning look, she added, “I’d rather the rest of the team not see me quite so…exposed.”
Bobbi walked over to the bed, picking up the sweater Jemma had been wearing earlier and offered it to her. Jemma reached for it, then retracted her hand. “No. I’m being ridiculous. I need to get comfortable with this sooner rather than later. And I’m sure it’s nothing they haven’t seen before.”
“Oh, I doubt that,” Bobbi retorted. “Unless our fellow agents spend their down time at bondage clubs.”
Jemma laughed abruptly. It was a nervous laugh, but it helped take the edge off nonetheless. “You’re not helping.”
Bobbi winked at her. “Wasn’t trying to.”
“Although, speaking of helping…” Jemma picked up the collar lying on the table next to her bed and handed it to Bobbi. “Would you mind?”
Jemma turned and lifted her hair up. As Bobbi moved closer, Jemma’s gaze rose to the mirror in front of them. She watched as Bobbi brushed away a few stray strands, then slipped the collar around her neck. Feeling Bobbi’s fingers ghost across her skin, watching her pull the choker tight, caused Jemma’s heartbeat to quicken. Something about it felt intimate in a way Jemma hadn’t expected.
“Too tight?” Bobbi asked.
“No, it’s fine,” Jemma replied, ignoring the slight shake in her own voice. But Bobbi noticed, looking up and making eye contact in the mirror for several long seconds.
“Good,” Bobbi breathed out, breaking the moment. “We should head on down then.”
“Yes,” Jemma said, stepping away. “That’s probably a good idea.”
Unlike this mission, now wondering for the thirteenth time why she’d said yes.
“You seem less nervous,” Bobbi commented.
Jemma nodded. “The darkness helps,” she said, her eyes having finally adjusted to the lighting inside the club. “As well as seeing that what I’m wearing is somewhat conservative.” She wasn’t letting her eyes rest on any one person for too long lest she get caught staring.
“Yea, I’m okay with the buckle-fest I’ve got going on when I see what my other options could have been.”
Jemma concurred. Not that there was anything wrong with what people were wearing. She firmly believed in ‘to each their own’. It’s simply that Jemma’s ‘own’ happened to be of a far more vanilla variety.
Bobbi headed towards the bar with Jemma trailing after her. She ordered for the both of them, handing Jemma a cocktail. She was halfway through it, about to ask what exactly it was that she was drinking, when Bobbi leaned in close. “He’s here. Stay near the bar. This shouldn’t take long.”
Jemma’s eyes followed Bobbi as she disappeared into the crowd. Now that she was alone, Jemma found herself becoming self-conscious again. She hadn’t realized how much Bobbi’s presence had helped in calming her nerves.
She tried listening to the conversations around her, to give herself something else to focus on, but that was near impossible with the music pulsing so loudly. Turning her gaze towards the dance floor worked somewhat - she still found herself blushing faintly, but now it was from watching the bodies engaged on the dance floor rather than from her own discomfort.
Feeling a hand on her elbow, Jemma was thrown off when Bobbi led them towards a booth rather than the exit. At her questioning look, Bobbi said, “I’ll explain later. Right now I need to keep an eye on what’s going on over there.” Jemma followed Bobbi’s gaze towards a table on the other side of the room. One of the men seated was their target, a guy named Larson. Sitting across from him was a tall blond man and a dark haired woman, neither of whom she recognized. The three of them talked for about twenty minutes, with the blond man leaving first. The woman and Larson talked for a few more minutes before also parting ways. Bobbi made no move to follow, but relayed in that Larson was leaving.
“Got it. We’ll grab a cab and be there in fifteen.”
Bobbi plucked Jemma’s cocktail out of her hands and finished it before leading them towards the door.
“What's going on?”
Bobbi smiled at her and kept walking, but Jemma didn't miss the amused sparkle in her eyes.
“I think I'll let Coulson explain.”
Thirteen minutes later, Jemma was surprised to be entering a hotel. After enduring an awkward elevator ride with a handful of fraternity boys - they were openly ogling her until Bobbi cleared her throat and stared them down - they’d entered a suite with Coulson there to greet them.
“Can you be a little more specific than ‘indefinitely’?” Jemma asked, trying and failing to hide her rising dread. Coulson had just finished explaining that the people Larson was meeting with were much bigger fish to catch…and that their mission had been extended.
“Of course, but that would be guessing and I don’t like to guess unless it’s charades. And I only do charades with Agent May.”
Coulson’s humor earned a grin from Bobbi, but Jemma didn't even react. She was far too pre-occupied taking in the revised scope of this assignment.
Bobbi didn’t seem to mind the altered mission parameters. Then again, she was operations and this was what she was trained to do, whereas for Jemma this meant being away from the lab for who knows how long. Not to mention having to continue playing a role she was far from comfortable in. Getting through one night was manageable, but going back multiple times meant she would have to interact with other patrons at some point. Looking the part was one thing, acting it was another matter altogether.
“You’ll stay here tonight. We’ll have an apartment set up for you by tomorrow.”
“Sir, what about my work-”
“Don’t worry, Simmons. Your laptop is already here and we’ll be in communication for the duration of this assignment. You’ll stay abreast of any new developments at home.”
Coulson started going over some logistical details with Bobbi, but Jemma was only half listening, barely keeping her eyes open. It was well past when she normally went to bed and the adrenaline of the evening’s events had worn off rather suddenly. Spotting a couple of overnight bags, Jemma determined which was hers before politely interrupting.
“Sir, I’m absolutely spent. Do you mind if I-”
“Yes, please, go sleep. I’ll go over the rest with Agent Morse and she can fill you in tomorrow morning.”
“Thank you, sir.”
Luckily, the room they’d been given was a suite, so after changing and brushing up, Jemma was able to crawl directly into bed while Bobbi and Coulson continuing talking in the adjoining room. She paused only long enough to silence her phone before blissfully slipping off into unconsciousness.