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.
The apartment was nice - modern, hardwood floors, and blessedly fast wifi. Jemma had put that last feature to good use downloading several of her projects while waiting for their long term cover necessities to be delivered. She sincerely hoped they arrived soon since whomever had packed her overnight bag had neglected to include fresh socks and dental floss. But they had remembered her laptop, so priorities were in order she supposed.
She’d made good progress analyzing the updated data when the unfamiliar sound of the buzzer startled her. As Bobbi approached the door, she motioned for Jemma to move into the kitchen while she verified the courier’s identity. Thankfully the precaution was unneeded and soon he was bringing in four large boxes.
Needing a bit of a break, Jemma took the liberty of unpacking their belongings. The first two boxes were filled with clothing and personal items, the third was an assortment of weapons and tech, and the fourth prompted Jemma to flush a shade of red so deep Bobbi asked her what was wrong.
“Nothing,” Jemma replied too quickly.
“Let me guess. Mission apparel?” she teased, smiling widely at her.
Jemma nodded mutely and Bobbi chuckled as she fumbled the box closed and moved it into the bedroom. Bobbi could figure out whose clothes were whose, Jemma decided. She had important, asexual data to analyze.
Jemma closed the lid of her laptop, gratefully accepting the box of take out Bobbi was handing her. They ate in silence for awhile, both ravenous after belatedly realizing neither the refrigerator nor the cupboards were stocked.
Bobbi spoke first, having caught Jemma staring at her speculatively. “What’s up?”
“I was wondering if perhaps we might want to establish some ground rules. It helped the last time I lived with someone. Although,” Jemma conceded, “that was dorming, so, not quite the same situation.”
“True. I don’t think we have to worry about the sock on the doorknob protocol,” Bobbi commented dryly, tugging a smile from Jemma. “But, yeah, ground rules. Probably a good idea. Let’s see…I like to stay relatively organized. Not a fan of letting things go all week and then having to do a massive cleanup. Guessing you feel the same based on how you keep your lab.”
Jemma nodded vehemently.
“I tend to take long showers, so if you’re in a hurry it’s best if you jump in first.”
“I’m kind of the same way,” Jemma confessed.
“Okay, so we’ll just have to plan around that…” Bobbi stared at the ceiling for a few moments, thinking. “I don’t like using the TV as background noise. Kind of drives me nuts. I’d much rather have music on, if anything.”
“Likewise,” Jemma interjected.
“I’m a bed hog and not exactly short, therefore I tend to sprawl. So, I’m sorry for that in advance. But it’s only for a few days - until we pick up a bed for the spare room.”
“That’s fine. I can take the couch until then.”
Bobbi’s eyes furrowed. “I wasn’t suggesting-“
“I know,” she interrupted. “But I’m used to it. I practically lived on one at the Academy. There were quite a number of occasions where I didn’t feel like trudging back to my dorm after a late night in the lab. And like you said, it’s only for a few days, so it’s not a problem. What do you normally do for food? Do you cook or is mostly restaurants and take out?”
Bobbi paused before answering. She obviously noticed Jemma’s blatant attempt to change the subject, but chose to let it go.
“When I’m on assignment it’s usually take out, but that’s not my preference. I’d much rather make my own food. Nothing fancy, mind you. Just basic stuff,” she said. “What about you? I don’t think I ever see you eat.”
Jemma laughed. “I do, I just usually eat in the lab most of the time. There’s a fridge in there so I don’t even have to go to the kitchen most days.”
“Convenient,” Bobbi murmured.
“Lazy,” Jemma corrected, drawing a laugh. “My cooking skills are somewhat limited in scope, I’m afraid. I can manage breakfast and lunch. Full blown suppers not so much. Pancakes, oatmeal, cereal - although that's not really cooking - salads. And sandwiches, of course,” she added, her thoughts going to Fitz. Perhaps she might start leaving some sandwiches on his desk from time to time. It might help get them past the stage of awkward politeness they were currently mired in.
“Sounds good to me,” Bobbi said, drawing Jemma’s attention back to her. “There's a grocery store down the street. We can do some shopping tomorrow.”
“Okay.” Jemma glanced at the clock. “What’s the plan for tonight? Are we going out?”
“No. We can’t just show up out of the blue and then be there every night. We’ll go tomorrow and then again this weekend. Once we get to know some people we can hit it more often.”
Jemma nodded. Bobbi had a far greater depth of experience when it came to field operations, so she wasn't about to meddle in any tactical decisions she made.
Once they’d tidied up and put away the small amount of leftovers, Jemma went back to her research while Bobbi headed off to the bedroom to sort through their club wear. Or, as Bobbi referred to it, ‘Box Number Four’. Jemma tried to ignore her comment, but the red in her face betrayed her, which, of course, caused Bobbi’s grin to widen.
Twenty minutes later Bobbi was able to wrestle another blush out of Jemma.
“What about these for tomorrow?” Bobbi asked innocently as she stood in her bedroom doorway holding two outfits. Bobbi’s had less buckles than before. Jemma’s had less…everything.
Jemma closed her eyes and groaned. She would never, ever, complain about being cooped up in the lab again.
“I was reminded before this mission that lying is not your strong suit.”
Jemma glanced up into the bathroom mirror, seeing Bobbi leaning against the doorframe behind her.
“Let me guess? Skye?”
“If I have a detailed cover story, I can stick to that well enough. Working at Hydra accelerated my learning curve quite effectively. I’m still weak at improvisation, though, and I’ve learned most missions sadly have an alarming amount of that,” she said, grimacing. “Why do you ask?”
Bobbi stepped forward, zipping Jemma’s dress up while she was busy fastening a set of cuffs onto her wrists.
“Because we need to start making friends at the club. Most of the conversation will be typical to what you’d hear in any social setting, but some of it will be specific to the scene.”
“I’ve done some research along those lines, as far as terminology,” Jemma stated. “But I’m afraid at some point it will become apparent I’m new at this.”
“I know. Which is why I don’t want you to hide it.”
Jemma turned, leaning against the sink as she faced Bobbi. “Won’t that hurt our cover?”
“Not much, if any. But trying to act like you know what you’re talking about when you clearly don’t would definitely draw attention. Don’t worry. I can easily work it into our cover - that I'm introducing you to the scene.”
Her apprehension must have shown, because Bobbi ran her hands down Jemma shoulders in a calming motion.
“Trust me, Jemma. Just follow my lead and you'll do fine.”
Jemma nodded her head, trying to stay relaxed as she followed Bobbi out of the apartment. She had no problem trusting Bobbi - it was herself that she doubted. She'd just have to trust Bobbi to take care of her, too.
Bobbi’s arm snaked around her waist, pulling her closer. “I know, right?”
Listening to them talk about her, Jemma fought to keep herself from shifting nervously. Bobbi was in a conversation with a guy she’d seen talking to Larson on their first two excursions. He turned out to be a bartender that was off the clock rather than a business contact, but he could still be useful for information.
“It’s a good thing you have her collared,” he added. “She’d get snatched up fast if she wasn’t spoken for. And even with that, you’ll probably get a few requests to borrow her.”
“I don’t loan her out,” Bobbi said flatly.
The bartender - Jamie maybe? - shrugged. “That’s fine. Just giving you a heads up.”
She knew it was only Bobbi playing her role, but still…a part of her liked hearing and feeling Bobbi be so possessive. Before Jemma could think too much about the reasons behind that, Bobbi wrapped up her conversation and steered them over to a booth.
“You’re doing fine,” Bobbi murmured as she slid across the seat, making room next to her.
Jemma shook her head, staring at the table ruefully. “You’re being kind.”
Bobbi laughed. “I’ve heard a lot of adjectives to describe me, but that’s a new one. No, if you weren’t alright, I’d tell you. Too much is at risk to hide behind niceties.”
Bobbi swirled her drink as she surreptitiously surveyed the room. Jemma, meanwhile, tried not to fidget. She was too used to always doing something. Sitting still and people watching was a bit of a challenge. Focused as she was on the crowd, Jemma didn’t notice Bobbi reach towards her to tuck away a loose lock of hair.
Jemma flinched at the unexpected contact.
Leaning forward, her lips grazing Jemma’s ear, Bobbi whispered, “Relax. I’ll be doing this a lot from now on. Touching you casually. Acting familiar with your body. People will notice if I don’t.” Bobbi’s hand caressed up her back to rest on her shoulder.
“I’ll always initiate,” Bobbi continued, “but be sure to respond accordingly.”
Jemma’s breath hitched. “How- What do you mean accordingly?” She had a good idea, but it left less room for error if Bobbi spelled it out.
“If I touch you, touch me back similarly. Don’t advance it beyond. Don’t kiss me unless I’ve kissed you first.”
Jemma swallowed. She hadn’t anticipated kissing as a possibility. Turning her head to mirror her, she spoke softly into Bobbi’s ear. “Aren’t there exceptions? What if I ask permission?”
Bobbi pulled back slightly, arching her eyebrow in amusement and surprise. “Someone has definitely been doing their research.”
Jemma let out a slight yelp as she was suddenly pulled onto Bobbi’s lap.
“Sorry.” Bobbi’s lips were against her ear again. “Larson walked in and I needed a better view.” Jemma nodded, trying not to squirm at the suddenly close contact. Her job was to sell their cover, and right now that meant looking comfortable sitting on Bobbi’s lap.
The arm around her waist was snug, but not tight, which allowed Jemma enough room to turn and lean into Bobbi’s torso. Laying her head across Bobbi’s collarbone, she nuzzled her nose into the crook of her shoulder and neck. Bobbi’s hand stroked along her side in response, eliciting a faint smile from Jemma.
“What?” Bobbi asked quietly.
Jemma rolled her eyes. “Must you notice everything.”
“When I’m on assignment and I have an attractive woman on my lap, yes, I must.” Jemma blushed at the compliment, burying her head further into Bobbi’s neck.
“So?” Bobbi prompted.
“Nothing,” Jemma replied softly. “I just thought that this feels…nice.” Jemma closed her eyes, thinking she should probably feel slightly embarrassed at that admission, but somehow she didn't.
Her answer seemed to catch Bobbi off guard, however, because she didn’t say anything for several seconds. Eventually she swallowed, the motion causing Jemma’s lips to brush against Bobbi’s throat. Jemma pulled back, wondering what to do next, when the arm around her fell away. “Larson’s drifting too far into the crowd. We need to get closer.”
Jemma slid off of Bobbi and out of the booth, glad for the interruption. They were barely into this assignment and already things were getting complicated.
They’d been in the apartment for a week and still hadn't gotten a second bed. Mostly because Jemma would prefer to do just about anything besides furniture shopping. The fact that the couch was very comfortable didn’t help the matter either, but still, she needed to stop putting it off.
“Just a sec.” Bobbi strolled into the living room, a towel hanging around her neck.
“I’m sorry. Did I interrupt your workout? Because it can wait-“
“No, I just finished. What’s up?”
It took half a second for it to click in Jemma’s head. It really should have occurred to her before Bobbi was standing in front of her, toweling sweat off of her body, that moving into the spare room meant stealing Bobbi’s training space.
“I was, um, thinking…I’ve gotten quite used to this couch and it’s not like SHIELD has unlimited funding and I really deplore furniture shopping.”
Jemma almost rolled her eyes at herself for that mess of a sentence. Good lord, she needed to get better at thinking on her feet. Bobbi stared at her, clearly trying to hold back a laugh at Jemma’s rambling.
“That’s sweet of you to offer, Jemma, but don’t worry about it. I can shift things around in the bedroom and change my routine to one that uses less space. It’s not a problem.”
“I know. But it’s even less of a problem for me to stay on the couch.” Seeing Bobbi about to protest, she added impulsively, “And this way there’s enough room if I ever wanted to train with you from time to time.”
A slow, wicked grin spread across Bobbi’s face. “Okay,” she replied amicably, before heading off to the shower.
Jemma shook her head forlornly. She desperately needed to get better at improvising.
“That works really well on you.”
Leaning against the counter in the kitchen, Jemma dragged her gaze away from her tablet and the test results she’d wanted to see first thing this morning.
Bobbi grabbed some water from the fridge, taking a quick swig before answering.
"Don't get me wrong, you totally rock the British academia look. But this…" Bobbi's gaze casually traveled down Jemma's body, taking in the soft black t-shirt and gray drawstring shorts Jemma had worn to bed, "this looks good on you, too.”
Jemma ducked her head down shyly at the compliment. “Thank you,” she said.
“And, coincidentally, perfect for working out in.”
Jemma groaned internally. Forty-five minutes later, she was groaning externally, too.
“You’re better than I expected,” Bobbi commented as she handed Jemma a glass of water.
“I don’t know if that’s saying much.” Jemma flopped into the chair at the kitchen table, while Bobbi sat down across from her barely looking winded.
“No, seriously. Your skill level is where I figured it would be, but you pick up on things fast. Most of the techniques I only had to show you once or twice before you got the gist of it.”
Jemma nodded as she sipped at her water, words being too much effort at the moment.
“That being said, you don’t have to do this if you don’t want to,” Bobbi told her sincerely. “I won’t hold you to it.”
Jemma smiled up at her. Bobbi really was sweet at times. “I know. But it’s something I should be doing anyways. And I’d rather it be with you than Agent May.”
Bobbi arched an eyebrow at her dangerously. “Why? Do you think I’ll go easier on you?”
“No,” Jemma answered quickly. “But you’ll at least make me laugh before you knock my feet out from under me. Agent May will just throw me to the ground, glare at me, then say ‘Get up’.” Jemma had deadened her voice at the end, doing her best imitation of Agent May. Bobbi promptly burst out laughing.
“Does Agent May know you do impersonations of her?” Bobbi asked.
“Are you barmy? Of course not.” Jemma dragged herself up and away from the table. If she didn’t move now, she wouldn’t for the next hour. “I’m going to take a shower.”
“Sounds good. When you’re done, poke your head into my room and let me know if you’re okay with the outfit I picked for you tonight. It’s a bit…latex-y.”
“You’re trying to kill me today, aren’t you?” Jemma questioned before making her way down the hall, the sound of Bobbi’s laughter following her.
It was a Saturday night, which meant crowded, which meant sharing a corner booth with two other couples. If this was a regular night out Jemma would be annoyed, but under current circumstances it was a good opportunity to solidify their cover and gather intel - otherwise viewed as making friends while chatting over drinks.
Bobbi had mentioned it was Jemma’s first time in latex.
“So, what's the verdict?”
“Still debating,” Jemma answered honestly. “I'm not used to sweating this much. The way it slides across my skin is...” She couldn't think of a good way to describe it.
“Yeah, latex is kind of unique that way,” Jonathan replied, smiling.
Bobbi pushed a glass of water towards her. “Keep drinking. It's easy to get dehydrated.” Her tone was more forceful than usual due to the company at the table.
“Thank you,” Jemma replied demurely as she accepted the glass.
While she drank she used her free hand to wipe away some of the perspiration along the back of her neck. Upon seeing the accumulated wetness on her fingertips, Bobbi pulled Jemma’s hand towards her.
As one finger at a time slipped into Bobbi's mouth, Jemma instinctively tried to quell her body's reaction. Sensing her resistance, Bobbi lightly squeezed Jemma’s knee under the table, reminding her to play the part. When Bobbi took it a step further, leaning forward to lick a stripe of perspiration off her chest, Jemma dropped her head back and let the moan she felt bubbling under the surface escape.
“I think we have a winner with the latex,” the woman across from them, Olivia, snickered.
Bobbi pulled up. “Yeah, maybe,” she concurred, grinning lasciviously.
Jemma struggled to even out her breathing as the conversation turned to griping about work.
“Oh, I'm not a rep,” Jemma found herself explaining. “I'd be bloody awful at that. I work in the lab researching and developing new pharmaceuticals.”
“Boring,” Gavin mocked, rolling his eyes.
“Coming from the man who sells insurance for a living,” Olivia retorted.
“Hey, I make good money at it.”
“She probably does, too.”
“I do,” Jemma interjected. “But that's not my motivation. I actually like my job.”
“Even worse,” Gavin’s sub, Jonathan, teased while winking at her.
“What about you? Please don't tell me you're a rep,” Gavin pleaded at Bobbi, who laughed aloud at the suggestion.
“Oh god, no,” she said, shaking her head. “The lack of physical activity would drive me crazy. I work in personal protection and security.”
“Security? Like mall cop?” Gavin smirked.
Jemma shook her head and huffed at him. “Try bodyguard.”
He raised his eyebrows, looking suitably impressed. “Okay, I gotta admit that's cool. Ever have to shoot anyone?”
“Yes,” Bobbi admitted, “but it's a last resort and not exciting in the least,” she chastised. “But kicking the crap out of someone,” now Bobbi’s face lit up, “that's fun.”
“When was the last time you ’had fun’?” Trevor asked quietly. He was Olivia’s sub.
“A few weeks ago. The last day of her previous job,” Jemma answered, remembering the state Bobbi was in when she'd returned from her mission in Brussels.
This drew a curious look from Bobbi, clearly surprised at her knowledge of that. Jemma felt herself flushing as she explained, “You tend to have a lot of ’excess energy’ after physical altercations.”
Bobbi raised an eyebrow while her mouth quirked in amusement.
“Excess energy?” Olivia glanced back and forth between the two of them, her eyes lighting up. “You mean horny as fuck?”
Jemma blushed to her roots, reaching for her drink instead of answering.
“And that's a yes if ever I saw one,” Gavin drawled while the rest of the table laughed at Jemma's expense. “Damn. I can't wait for Erik to meet you.”
“The owner,” Olivia supplied, anticipating Bobbi's question. “Gavin’s right. He's going to love her. She's so innocently fuckable.”
Jemma practically melted into the floor at that statement.
“If you mean as a friend, fine, but I don't share,” Bobbi asserted while stroking the back of Jemma’s neck.
“Oh, even better. He loves a challenge.”
“Don't worry,” Olivia quickly reassured, jabbing Jonathan in the shoulder. “He won't force the issue. But Erik can be charmingly persistent.” Bobbi shrugged, seemingly indifferent, but Jemma sensed her tension and was relieved when the conversation changed course.
A few minutes later, Bobbi leaned towards her to whisper, “She's right, you know.”
“About what?” Jemma asked hesitantly. She wasn't sure she wanted to know based on the look Bobbi was giving her.
“You are so innocently fuckable.”
Thanks for all the great comments and positive feedback. This chapter is a little bit shorter but I'll make up for it with the next one! :)
“I bleached your clothes.”
Jemma looked up from her position on the couch, watching Bobbi shift her weight uncomfortably as she stood near the door.
“Not all of them. Just whatever was in the dirty pile.” Bobbi set the laundry basket on the floor, huffing out a breath in frustration. Jemma brought her hand to her mouth, trying to hide the smile that was forming. Bobbi caught it, looking at her pointedly. “You think this is funny?”
“Actually I do,” Jemma grinned. “You’re so perfect at everything and…” She glanced down at the ruined clothing, her smile getting wider. “So yes, this is quite amusing to me.”
“Even though half your clothes are wrecked,” Bobbi questioned, her own mouth starting to quirk upward as well.
“It was worth it to see you this flummoxed.”
Bobbi flopped down on the couch beside her, a malicious glint in her eye. “Unfortunately, some of your club wear was in there, too. We’ll have to replace it.”
Jemma’s face instantly sobered. It was one thing having her apparel show up in a box delivered to their apartment, but venturing into a brightly lit shop in the middle of the day… “You’re definitely coming with me on that excursion,” she half pleaded, half demanded. She wasn't about to experience that level of embarrassment alone.
Bobbi let out a loud laugh. “Are you kidding? Seeing you in a fetish shop? I wouldn’t miss that for the world.”
Jemma closed her eyes, grimacing. They’d never mentioned scenarios like this in the SHIELD recruitment brochure.
“How’s that one?”
“Good so far.” Jemma was changing into another dress Bobbi had picked out. This one had less straps and was easier to maneuver into. It also left most of her sides bare, but every outfit she tried on was embarrassingly revealing in some way. It was a matter of choosing which Jemma was least self-conscious about.
“They also have it in red.”
“No, I like the black.” She’d tried something in red on earlier, but she preferred the darker colors. Yes, she was starting to figure out her fetish preferences. Fitz would’ve had a heart attack if he'd been privy to even half her thoughts during this assignment already.
“So how did you end up going from biochem into Operations?” It was a question she'd been meaning to ask for awhile now. Having time to get to know Bobbi better was one significant bright spot to this assignment.
Bobbi chuckled. “Why? Is all this undercover work getting you worried about being drafted?”
Jemma’s eyes widened comically. She’d have panicked if it hadn’t been so absurd a notion. “Heavens, no. Not unless Coulson’s gone daft. I don’t have the physical abilities, and my spying skills are rudimentary at best.”
Slipping her dress off, Jemma reached for a skirt and top that had a worrisome amount of sheerness involved.
“It just takes practice, in both of those areas. It took a long time before I felt as comfortable using a gun as I did a microscope. And you’re a fast learner.”
“I don’t think I can learn how to be five foot eleven,” Jemma commented dryly. She could almost feel Bobbi’s smirk through the changing room door.
“True, but you can work around that. Learn leverage techniques to use your opponent’s size against them. Hapkido would be good for you. I can teach you if you want.”
“Only if you promise not to tell Coulson. I’d rather he not start getting ideas.” She eyed herself in the mirror, turning around. She’d have to be careful not to tear it, but the sheerness worked. “Seriously, though, did you request to be transferred?”
“No, they pulled me in for a field operation. Needed someone who understood the science but didn’t look like a scientist and apparently I fit the bill. The operation went well which led to more assignments which led to more combat and field training. Eventually, it made sense to simply transfer me to operations.”
“But did you want to?” Jemma asked through the door.
“I had mixed feelings at the time,” Bobbi answered. “But Director Fury can be pretty persuasive.”
“And now?” Jemma asked, gathering up her soon to be purchases and exiting the changing room. “Are you glad you made that choice?”
Bobbi glanced down at the neatly folded apparel in Jemma’s arms. “Well, it led to me being here with you, picking out clothes in a sex shop for our trip to a bondage club later tonight. So I’d say it worked out pretty well, don’t you think?”
Jemma was crosslegged on the couch, wearing jeans and a black v-neck shirt courtesy of Bobbi. She'd attempted to pick out some non-club wear on her own, but as Bobbi pointed out her style wasn't exactly trending at the mall and Jemma’s first two attempts at navigating the current fashions were laughably bad.
In hindsight, asking Bobbi to pick out clothes she thought Jemma would look good in was toeing the line between friendship and something more. Yes, platonic friends did that sort of thing together all the time, but platonic friends weren’t caressing each other’s bare skin in dark clubs late at night either.
Choosing to ignore that line of thought for now, Jemma brought her attention back to the numbers she was analyzing. She wasn’t happy with several experiments she’d asked the lab techs to perform at the base.
“Hungry?” Bobbi called from the kitchen.
“No,” Jemma answered tersely.
Jemma sighed. “Sorry. I’m a bit frustrated with the test results I received earlier."
“Maybe I can help?” Bobbi leaned over the couch, looking at Jemma’s screen over her shoulder.
“That would be…very nice actually. I’m not used to working in a bubble without anyone to bounce ideas off of.” Jemma quickly outlined the project as Bobbi read the report on screen.
“This number is confusing,” Bobbi muttered, pointing at a ph result.
“Exactly,” Jemma concurred, staring hard at the source of her frustration. In response, Bobbi brought her hand up to gently squeeze Jemma’s shoulder, before trailing it down her arm as she reached for the trackpad.
It was meant to be a soothing gesture. Instead, a shiver ran through Jemma, causing her to swallow and become very aware of Bobbi’s close proximity. Bobbi must have noticed because she sought to diffuse the situation, casually straightening up and walking around to sit on the couch next to her, leaving a small gap between them.
These actions and reactions were stemming from their late night endeavors, Jemma knew that. But regardless of her brain’s understanding the necessity of Bobbi’s touches at the club, it didn't stop her body from responding when it had the opportunity. She could ask Bobbi not to touch her at all away from the job, but that would make things more uncomfortable in general. Better to simply push through these occasional moments of awkwardness.
Jemma placed her laptop on the coffee table at an angle comfortable for both of them as she attempted to refocus her attention. As she started bringing up more reports and data, she conveniently ignored the additional thought that had crossed her mind - that part of her didn’t want Bobbi to stop touching her. And that perhaps Bobbi didn’t want to stop either.
“I need to get a closer look at the guy Larson’s talking to.”
“The shirtless one with the mask over his eyes? Going into the….”
“Yeah.” Bobbi took Jemma’s hand and led her towards the back where the playrooms were. They'd seen them briefly when they were first exploring the club, but as of yet they hadn’t spent any real amount of time in them.
“Remember, things might be a little…intense. Don’t freak.” Jemma nodded, trying to quell her nerves as they walked.
“I won’t let it get out of hand, okay?”
“Okay,” Jemma responded, unable to prevent the unsteadiness in her voice. They’d discussed this possibility before, but she had fervently hoped it wouldn’t come to fruition.
Bobbi rubbed her thumb across Jemma’s knuckles as they entered the room, trying to reassure her. It didn’t lesson her nervousness, but it was a kind gesture and Jemma squeezed her hand back in response. She swallowed hard as her eyes flitted about the room, trying to find a safe place to settle. Various scenes were being played out, some more explicit than others.
She picked the tamest of them and did her best to look without looking. Bobbi noticed, of course. While leaning down to place a kiss on her neck, she whispered, “Your eyes are unfocused. Which would be fine if you looked like you were really enjoying yourself,” she felt Bobbi’s grin, “but you don’t. If you can’t fake being into it, at least look curious. Treat it like an anthropological study.”
That wasn’t a bad idea. Bringing the science into it would help take the emotion out of it.
Jemma scanned the room again, this time more slowly and with a different sort of vision - watching the power dynamics, noting positive versus pseudo-negative reactions, seeing some subjects react more to sound stimuli over visual cues.
Bobbi’s strategy was working well enough that Jemma was starting to enjoy the intellectual data gathering.
“Much better,” Bobbi murmured. “Try and keep this mindset, because I need to get closer to our mark and there’s only one way of doing that without being obvious.”
Jemma turned her attention to the man they'd followed into the room. He was in the process of flogging another man cuffed face first to the wall. Next to them was a similar station, to which Bobbi was now leading her…
She didn't answer, too busy glancing at the room’s occupants, noting that well over a dozen people were about to witness her introduction to bondage.
“Jem.” This time a little sharper, enough to pull Jemma’s gaze back to her. “This is important,” Bobbi said quietly. “Follow the rule I give you for the scene, but only until I bite you. As soon as I do that, break it and l can end it, okay?”
Don't freak, Jemma repeated to herself.
Bobbi gently turned her around so that her back was to the wall. She lifted one wrist and began fastening it, while Jemma stared firmly at a spot on Bobbi’s shoulder and focused on breathing evenly.
“Blindfold?” Bobbi whispered as she moved onto the other wrist.
She hesitated for only a second before nodding minutely. It would be a different kind of disconcerting, but better than seeing the eyes watching her.
Bobbi slid the blindfold on, and once she finished tying it Jemma felt fingers slowly trail over her body and down her thigh. Her foot was tugged to the side, spreading her legs further apart, followed by a cuff being wrapped firmly around her ankle. The action was repeated on the other side and then Bobbi moved away, leaving Jemma blindly wondering what would happen next.
With her other senses heightened, Bobbi’s voice jolted Jemma when she began to speak, her words loud enough for the room’s other inhabitants to hear as well.
“The rule is simple - remain quiet. Not a single sound, no matter what I do to you, otherwise I stop. Do you understand?”
Jemma nodded mutely, not sure if they'd already started.
“Good,” Bobbi purred.
There was a few seconds of silence, of Jemma’s heart beating too loudly in nervous anticipation…and then Bobbi began.
Fingers adroitly unbuttoned her shirt, pushing it open along the way. Bobbi's first touch was an almost chaste press of lips to her neck, followed by a hungry sucking that would definitely leave a mark.
Jemma’s body immediately started to react, and she was faced with a choice. Resist, but still have to act like she was aroused…or not fight it.
It was a matter of whether she was going to allow herself to enjoy it.
She could have lied to herself, saying it was because she didn’t trust her acting skills, but that wasn't the reason she gave in. It was because she liked Bobbi touching her, plain and simple.
She bit her lip when the hand at her lower back drifted down, gripping her from behind. The palm at her breast traveled to her neck, wrapping around her nape, and then Bobbi’s mouth overtook her own. Jemma opened her mouth, inviting Bobbi’s tongue inside. The reaction that elicited - a digging in of nails and an almost growl - made Jemma think she wasn’t alone in her enjoyment.
When Bobbi pulled back, Jemma instinctually chased after her, belated remembering her restraints. She was gone for a few moments, but when she returned it was to touch Jemma's cheek with cold fingertips, followed by the press of ice against her lips.
Jemma inhaled at the sensation, heart pounding as a wet trail was dragged over her chin and down her throat. Warm lips followed, creating a brilliant contrast. When the ice moved over the tops of her breasts her body tightened in anticipation, rewarded a moment later when Bobbi’s mouth found it’s way there.
Jemma’s breath escaped as a wave of arousal surged through her.
She desperately wanted to drag Bobbi up for a kiss. Or grab her hip and pull her closer while calling out her name. Not being able to speak, see, or touch was maddening.
Bobbi continued to play with Jemma, moving the ice along her arms, stomach, and sides. Once it melted completely, she leaned in and whispered, “What I’m about to do…trust me.” She followed with a lick behind Jemma's ear.
Jemma couldn’t respond even if were allowed. Bobbi’s hands were too distracting, skimming underneath her bra and brushing the bottoms of her breasts.
Traveling along her neck, Bobbi licked and kissed her way to Jemma’s collarbone, then her sternum, before dropping to her knees. Lips ghosted across her stomach while a hand moved to Jemma’s hip, fingering along the waistband of her skirt. Jemma’s breath caught as Bobbi licked across her abdomen, and she had to stifle a gasp when she felt Bobbi’s other hand moving up her thigh, underneath her skirt.
Even though she was blind to her surroundings, Jemma was very much aware she was being watched by a room full of people. Her pulse raced despite Bobbi’s reassurance, wondering how much further she was going to take this.
Her skirt was pulled a little lower and Bobbi inched along her stomach towards the exposed skin. Just as Bobbi’s other hand neared the apex of her thighs, Jemma felt a bite on her hip. It was her cue, but she was so conditioned to remain quiet - and so turned on - she failed to respond immediately. It took a second bite, and Bobbi’s fingers nearly brushing against her center, before she moaned aloud.
The hand under her skirt stilled and fell away. Jemma hastily apologized, letting her voice sound needy with arousal. It wasn't difficult.
“Please, I’m sorry.”
Bobbi got to her feet, silently undoing the cuffs at her ankles and wrists. When she removed the blindfold, Jemma kept her eyes downcast. “I’m sorry,” she apologized again, even more submissively.
“It’s okay. ” A hand cupped her cheek, drawing her gaze upwards. “There’ll be a next time.” The words were ostensibly for their audience, but the heated look Jemma was being given said otherwise.
Bobbi wrapped a hand around her wrist and led her out of the room, back through the club and out the door. Jemma shifted restlessly as they waited for the next cab, her body still thrumming with need. Bobbi didn't seem to be faring much better. She was pacing in a tight circle, her breathing more than a little ragged.
Maybe talking would help. Clearing her throat, she asked Bobbi if she was able to identify the man they'd followed.
“No, but my kneeling down was to get a closer look at the tattoo on his leg. Hopefully Skye can run it through her databases and come up with a match.” Bobbi didn't say anything further, returning to her silent pacing. But when a slight breeze gusted past, fluttering the ends of Jemma’s still open shirt, Bobbi moved towards her. Stepping in close, she slowly began refastening the buttons. Every time one of Bobbi's fingertips brushed against her, Jemma’s stomach clenched.
When a taxi finally made it’s way towards them, Jemma wasn't sure if she was relieved or not.
Once they'd made their way into the cab, Bobbi fixed her gaze out the window, apparently determined to try and ignore the physical tension between them.
As Bobbi dragged her gaze towards her, Jemma looked down, drawing attention to Bobbi's fingers absently drawing patterns on Jemma's thigh - high on Jemma's thigh, slowly inching under her skirt.
Bobbi slid her hand away, apologizing.
“It's okay,” Jemma whispered, pressing her thighs together to try and get some relief from the untempered heat still coursing through her. She'd have been embarrassed if she wasn't certain Bobbi was also still struggling, as evidenced by how tightly she was clenching and unclenching her own fist.
A short eternity later their cab pulled to a stop in front of their apartment. Bobbi shoved a few bills at the driver as they clambered out of the vehicle, then bolted for her room as soon as they entered the apartment. Jemma headed to the bathroom, quickly changing into a t-shirt and shorts and brushing her teeth for all of about five seconds before finding the sofa and dragging a blanket over top of herself.
Her hand slid under her shirt, fingers brushing across her abdomen as she debated whether or not to alleviate her current state of discomfort. She usually wasn't loud when she took care of herself but she wasn't exactly quiet either and Bobbi’s room was right there.
She was about to say fuck it and do it anyways when she heard a moan from the other room. And then another.
Jemma wasted no time in sliding one hand up her shirt and the other down her shorts, never so glad to hear another person wanking off.
She rolled onto her side, fumbling for her phone that had somehow managed to find its way under the coffee table. Early on they'd bought black out curtains for both the living room and Bobbi’s room - a necessity based on the hours they were keeping - but it made it impossible to know what time it was.
It was later than Jemma normally woke up, but not insanely so. Sitting up, she ran her fingers through her hair a few times before heading off to the bathroom to get ready for the day. She’d managed to brush, floss, and get halfway through her shower before thoughts of last night became too strong for her to continue ignoring.
The problem wasn't that she enjoyed it. She could have written that off as a normal biological response. The problem was that it occurred with a person she was friends with, liked hanging out with, and was currently living with.
It felt an awful lot like a real relationship.
Jemma closed her eyes and leaned against the shower wall. She could - she should - talk to Bobbi about it. But then what? Bobbi’s last real relationship was with Hunter and being agents together had caused problems. And even if Bobbi was okay with it, Jemma wasn’t sure she was. It was hard enough patching up teammates when they came back bruised and broken. How much worse would it be with someone who was more than a friend?
Wrapping a towel around herself, she opened the bathroom door and nearly ran straight into Bobbi. As it was, her towel slipped dangerously low and she only barely managed to catch it in time. Because, of course, the only thing that could make things worse after last night would be to face her naked in the hallway the following morning.
“Sorry,” they both uttered simultaneously. Bobbi backed up and Jemma sidled by her into the bedroom to grab some clothes out of the dresser they shared. Normally she’d return to the bathroom to change, but when she heard the shower turn on she quickly got dressed where she was, then fled into the kitchen.
Twenty minutes later Bobbi joined her, gratefully accepting the tea Jemma had made for the both of them. That was a change that snuck up on Jemma. Bobbi still liked coffee, but now she’d drink tea more often than not when they were at the apartment.
Sitting down across from her at the table, Bobbi got straight to the point.
“Last night things got a little heated.” Upon seeing Jemma’s sardonic expression, she added, “Okay, more than a little. And it might happen again. Don't let it bother you. It’s sort of an occupational hazard with undercover work.”
It made sense, but in the back of her mind Jemma knew compartmentalizing only worked if these feelings were restricted to their interactions at the club. That wasn't the case for Jemma. Possibly not for Bobbi either. Again, though, Jemma wasn't ready for that conversation, so she chose to deflect with humor instead.
Keeping a straight face, she asked, “Does that mean we get hazard pay for this?”
Bobbi burst out laughing, and it washed away any lingering tension from the night before. “Yes,” she answered, grinning, “but it would require filling out paperwork. So, if you want to go ahead and give Coulson the details…”
Jemma nodded gamely. “We should probably include pictures as points of reference, don't you think?”
"How long have you two been going out?"
"About six months," Jemma replied automatically. It was a question she'd been prepped for in her mission detail, which she’d committed to memory almost immediately.
"You're really cute together."
"Thank you," she said, ducking her head a little as she glanced over at Bobbi, reclining on one of the cafe’s well worn sofas. She’d taken a seat after they’d placed their orders, but not before Bobbi had teased Jemma extensively over her indecision on what variety of tea to choose. They weren’t truly on the job right now - they’d simply felt like getting out of the apartment for awhile - so they weren’t actively trying to establish their covers. Nonetheless, the barista had assumed they were dating based off of their normal interactions with each other.
"What's so amusing?" Bobbi asked when Jemma returned with their drinks and gingerly handed her an overly full latte.
"The barista is under the impression we're a couple."
Bobbi smirked. "Not surprised. We're pretty cute together.”
"That's exactly what the barista said." She shared a grin with Bobbi as she sat down next to her. Right next to her, thighs touching, even though there was plenty of room on the couch. She'd done it unconsciously, the intimate physical contact feeling natural. Bobbi must have shared the sentiment because she didn't move away. On the contrary, her hand dropped to lightly rest on Jemma's thigh.
“Any progress on your front?” Jemma inquired brightly. She really was becoming an expert at avoidance.
“Some. Pretty sure that Larson’s just a broker.”
“Because he wasn't on our radar until recently, and now he’s meeting with some seriously heavy players. It'd be surprising if he’s making these deals on his own.”
“What about the man with the tattoo? Did Skye turn up anything?” Jemma couldn't help the tinge of hope coloring her voice. She really didn't want her experience in the playroom to have been for naught.
“No,” Bobbi answered. “But if he's smart he'd keep an identifier like that hidden most of the time. Maybe we’ll get lucky and an ex will have posted a picture of it online.”
“Social media, the vanquisher of spies and evil doers everywhere.”
“Pretty much,” Bobbi concurred as she scrolled through an article on her phone, one that looked vaguely familiar to Jemma.
“What are you reading about?” Jemma wasn’t one to pry, but her interest was piqued and Bobbi wasn’t being secretive about what she was doing.
“The non-Newtonian properties of liquid armor. Researching with you reminded me of an idea I had awhile ago for modifying my suit.”
“Anything I can help with?” Jemma offered.
At Jemma’s pointed look, Bobbi conceded, “Well, yes, of course. But you have your own work. This isn’t a high priority project.”
“Just because it’s not life-or-death urgent doesn’t make it a low priority,” Jemma argued. “It could have far reaching applications beyond your own body armor. What’s your idea?”
Twenty minutes later - after Jemma had fleshed out Bobbi’s hypothesis and whilst in the middle of outlining potential experiments - she was interrupted by a hand on her arm.
“Thank you,” Bobbi said sincerely.
Jemma looked at her questioningly, momentarily confused. “For what?” she finally asked, causing Bobbi to roll her eyes so hard Jemma almost winced at whatever words were forthcoming.
“For the discussion we've just been having. For helping me with this idea.” Bobbi shook her head in disbelief, grinning as she teased, “You and Fitz may be geniuses, but you’re both really slow on the uptake sometimes.”
Jemma would have argued that statement, if not for the inconvenient fact that Bobbi was right. She and Fitz were both guilty of missing the obvious when it came to anything not science related.
“I guess it's because thanks are unnecessary,” Jemma offered with some chagrin. “It's my pleasure to be able to help you with anything.”
Bobbi paused at that, giving Jemma a long look before eventually rolling onto her feet and grabbing Jemma’s empty mug out of her hands.
“Refill?” she asked smoothly.
Jemma was about to say yes on reflex, but stopped herself at the last second. She’d never taken the time to delve into the vast wilderness of cappuccinos, lattes, or espressos that was the American coffee experience, and Bobbi seemed to know her way around the territory.
“Maybe something different?” she suggested.
Jemma loved when Bobbi wore this expression - the one where she was clearly surprised by someone's words or actions. She was so good at reading people, she doubted it happened often.
“Like what?” Bobbi prompted.
“You pick.” Jemma smiled and shrugged. “I trust you.”
Bobbi spun the mug around in her hands a few times, staring at Jemma like she was trying to figure her out, before turning towards the counter. When she returned a few minutes later, it was with a frothy beverage similar to the one Jemma had ordered Bobbi earlier. Blowing on it carefully, Jemma inhaled the familiar scents of vanilla and cinnamon. She smiled as she took a sip of Bobbi’s usual drink.
“You like?” Bobbi asked, eyes curious.
“Mmm. I do.” Jemma took a longer sip, noting how Bobbi seemed pleased with her response.
The barista called out another order and Bobbi ventured back towards the counter, returning a moment later with a toasted bagel liberally coated with strawberry jam. She handed the plate to Jemma, grabbing half as she stretched out beside her.
“I'm always letting you order from now on,” Jemma mumbled mid-chew as she wiped some stray jam from the corner of her mouth. Not spying a napkin nearby, she simply sucked it off of her finger instead. Glancing over she caught Bobbi’s eyes fixated on her mouth, before flicking up to her eyes.
“So…” Bobbi covered, “I had another thought on the shear thickener for the body armor.”
Apparently, Jemma wasn't the only one excelling in avoidance.
“Erik liked your show in the playroom last week,” Olivia mentioned not-so casually, smirking at Jemma’s instant blush. “He asked me about you guys.”
“Called it,” Gavin gloated, having just returned to the table with drinks.
Bobbi eyed her toxic colored beverage warily. “This is not what I asked for. And I didn't realize he was there.”
“Tall, well built. Black hair. Probably wearing a mask.”
“Had a guy with dirty blonde hair tied to the wall?” Bobbi asked.
“Yes. And I've had that before.” Olivia was pointing at Bobbi’s drink. “I’ll be surprised if you don't like it. Gavin’s actually really good at picking out drinks for people.”
Bobbi sipped it, considering, before offering a nod in Gavin's direction.
“I told Erik you don't loan her out,” Olivia continued. “He wanted to know if he could play a little.”
Jemma expected to hear an immediate rejection. When she didn’t, she turned towards Bobbi, more than a little stunned to see her look like she was actually considering it. She almost choked on her drink when Bobbi said maybe.
“That would depend on his definition of play,” Bobbi stipulated. “And private is completely out. I'd have to be there to supervise.”
Jemma didn't pay much attention to the rest of the conversation after that - too much in shock over what Bobbi said, mind whirling as to why she said it. Bobbi spent the rest of the night silently reassuring Jemma with gentle touches, but as soon as they were back in the privacy of their apartment Jemma immediately asked for an explanation.
“Our act in the playroom was for a reason - to identify another of Larson's contacts,” Bobbi answered patiently, while taking a seat on the couch. “It worked. And the fact that our masked tattoo guy is the owner of the club means he could be more than just a client. Erik could be the person running the show. I need to talk to him, listen to whatever he proposes, because it'll give me the chance to get a read on him.” Bobbi reached out, pulling Jemma down to sit beside her. “But in the end, my answer to him will be no.”
“Then why did you put conditions on it?” Jemma asked, unable to keep the lingering nervousness out of her voice.
“I’d flat out told Olivia I didn't share you. Saying yes too easily would have been a red flag.”
Jemma ran her fingers through her hair, nodding at Bobbi’s reasoning, before sliding down the couch to lay her head in Bobbi's lap. She still wanted physical reassurance, and it was the only safe option that didn't easily lead to more provocative kinds of touching.
“Thank you for looking out for me,” she said quietly.
“Of course,” Bobbi replied, her fingers brushing back a lock of Jemma’s hair, causing Jemma to shiver in response. Rather than stop, Bobbi repeated the motion several more times, leading Jemma to believe that maybe this wasn't the safe option after all.
They’d been researching for four hours straight when Bobbi suddenly stood up, stretching towards the ceiling.
“I don’t know how you do this.”
“Research?” Jemma asked, perplexed. Bobbi had a PhD in biochemistry - she was no stranger to this.
“No,” Bobbi said as she grabbed her staves, lightly moving through some training sequences. “The not moving around for so long.”
“Ah. Lots of practice, I suppose,” Jemma answered with a grin, not bothering to look up from her screen. If she had, she’d have caught the glint in Bobbi’s eye, giving her some warning before she was abruptly pulled to her feet.
“Come on.” Still grasping Jemma’s hand, Bobbi walked backwards towards the training room, grinning far too deviously for Jemma’s liking.
Forty-five minutes later Jemma was collapsed on the couch as Bobbi, calmly sitting in the chair across from her, explained her shocking lack of a love life.
“Don't get me wrong, I’ve had no shortage of men and women that wanted to sleep with me. But when push comes to shove, I intimidate them too much for them to date me for any significant amount of time.”
Jemma could understand the combination of Bobbi's height and self-confidence giving that first impression. But Bobbi's easy smile, sense of humor, and empathy offset that. Anyone that didn't realize that wasn't paying much attention.
“So Hunter saw past that?”
Bobbi smirked. “He was too cocky to acknowledge it.”
"What happened, then? If you don't mind my asking." For as vocal as Hunter was in describing their marriage, it was hard to sift through all his adjectives to find out where the real problems stemmed from. And Bobbi never really talked about it.
"I lied to him. Repeatedly.”
Bobbi sighed and Jemma thought she was done with the conversation, yet she surprised her by continuing. “I didn't at first. But he couldn't deal with the truth. I'd come back injured and he'd want to know what happened. And when I’d tell him he'd get livid about the risks I was taking or the situations SHIELD was putting me in. I stopped answering his questions altogether, but then he insisted that not knowing was even worse so I started giving him partial truths, leaving out whatever I knew would upset him. But sometimes the missions were so rough there was nothing partial to give…so I lied. Never about my feelings, though.”
She blew out a long breath, tilting her head back on the couch. “I trusted him to do his job and come back safe. He couldn't do the same for me.”
Bobbi stared at the ceiling, not meeting Jemma’s eyes. It hurt, seeing Bobbi so vulnerable. Seeing her try to hide her frustration and pain over the failed relationship. Before she could think of something to say that didn't sound like pity, Bobbi lifted her head, expression not quite blank. “Sometimes things don’t work out the way you want them to.”
“Agreed…” Jemma's gaze dropped, thoughts turning inward.
“You and Fitz?”
Jemma nodded, not surprised Bobbi knew. Her coworkers gossiped like schoolchildren about anything that wasn't mission related.
"Despite what Fitz or anyone else might have thought, I didn’t take the Hydra assignment to get away from him. If my presence was helping I would have stayed, no matter how awkward it was. But his behavior was clearly worse when I was around and I believed, both personally and professionally, that he would heal faster if we were apart. He needed the support system of the rest of the team, so it made sense for me to be the one to go." She shook her head, not wanting to get lost in those memories.
“But why take a solo mission? And a stupidly risky one at that.”
“I didn't specifically request a solo assignment - it didn't matter to me either way. In hindsight, though, I'm glad it was. I'd never really been on my own before. I'd gone from living at home, to dormmates, to SHIELD. I hadn't realized how claustrophobic my life was until I stepped outside of it. Getting away from that…I felt like I finally had some room to breathe.”
Her last sentence drew an abrupt bark of laughter from Bobbi.
“I’m sorry,” she apologized. “It’s just that working a dangerous undercover op within Hydra gave you breathing space. That's too funny.”
Jemma tilted her head in acknowledgment. “I would have preferred it to be less dangerous. Trust me, I had no desire to go out in a blaze of glory, especially when glory meant getting brainwashed or tortured to death. But they needed a scientist for the mission and I fit the bill-” Jemma halted, suddenly remembering Bobbi’s story of getting recruited into operations. A quick glance over confirmed Bobbi was thinking along the same lines.
“Don't say it.” Jemma warned.
“Say what?” Bobbi asked, much too innocently.
“I am not becoming a field agent.”
“Says the woman currently working a long term undercover assignment.” Bobbi grinned, trying to maintain the lightness of the conversation as she steered it back towards her and Fitz. "Were things better with him once you came back?"
“Yes,” she replied. “But it’s still hard, even now. He was my best friend for so many years. I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to that.” She looked down at her hands, twisting her fingers together at the pang of hurt brought forth. “But it’s getting better. We’re friendly. There are still moments of awkwardness, but now we push past them instead of walking away from each other, so that’s an improvement."
"Definitely. Hunter and I never got past the walking away stage."
"That’s not surprising. You both have very strong personalities."
Bobbi raised an eyebrow. "Is that your Britishly polite way of saying we’re hardheaded?"
Jemma hummed noncommittally in response, strategically reaching for her tea instead.
“Besides your non-relationship with Fitz…any actual ex’s?"
"Only one that was notable," Jemma answered, smiling as she drank some of her tea as memories resurfaced. "We’d always fancied each other growing up, but nothing came of it until I ran into him at a party back home when I was on break from the Academy. We flirted for half the night before eventually heading back to his flat. I can't remember which one of us called the other the next day, but we ended up seeing each other every night until I had to go back."
"Every night?" Bobbi raised an eyebrow. “Damn.”
“Sometimes during the day, too," Jemma added, blushing as a particularly vivid remembrance came to mind. “After that we stayed in touch, connecting whenever I was in town."
“Wow.” Bobbi couldn't seem to wipe the astonished smile off her face. "I never would have pegged you for having a fuck buddy. I figured love and sex would be inextricably linked for you."
“It could have been more than just sex," Jemma admitted. "He would have said yes. But, I was just getting into SHIELD. I didn't know if it could work, giving him only half my life, and I didn't want to lead him on. "
“So, you broke up with him,” Bobbi surmised.
“No, he met someone else about a year and a half ago. It’s okay,” she assured her. “It wasn’t meant to be more that what it was. But I do miss him, sometimes.” An impish smile bloomed on Jemma’s face. “And the sex was incredible.”
Another wide grin erupted from Bobbi, followed by a mischievous smirk.
“So, now that I know your thirst for knowledge extends to the carnal variety…” Bobbi’s expression dared her to refute her, “Is your shyness at the club an act?"
“What? No. Definitely, no,“ Jemma sputtered. “That’s different. I’m not used to the brazen voyeurism or putting my body on display like that."
Bobbi’s eyes lit up, and Jemma suddenly felt caught.
“Not used to it…doesn't mean you don't like it.”
Jemma didn’t reply. She didn’t need to, because the blush that crept up her face was answer enough. “And I think it’s time for more tea,” she announced, escaping Bobbi’s knowing laughter to take refuge in the kitchen.
“Can't we interrogate him?”
“Yes, but it's a risky move,” Bobbi explained. “It would depend on him giving up names and SHIELD getting to them before they go underground. If there’s more than one link in the chain our chances of success sink even further.”
Jemma sighed in frustration. From the moment they’d learned Erik was the club’s owner, Skye had been digging for information. Several nights ago she’d confirmed he was the one directing Larson, but that didn't necessarily mean Erik was the top dog. Skye had exhausted her resources, so the only way to find out who Erik was reporting to, if anyone, was through Erik himself.
Jemma racked her brain for a better alternative. Any alternative, really, to the plan Coulson had relayed to Bobbi.
“If you can't do it, it's okay. I’ll just go in after hours,” Bobbi offered.
Jemma shook her head. Skye had recommended against that strategy due to tight security. It wasn't impossible to get around, but it was far easier to do this while the club was open and security had their attention split amongst all the patrons.
So with that option out they were back to the original set of orders, which was Bobbi and Jemma heading to the club as usual, but then finding a way into Erik’s office or an adjoining room and planting a listening device. An adjoining room would be better, as it would come under less scrutiny.
And, of course, Erik’s private playroom just happened to be next to his office.
“I'll do it,” Jemma murmured, trying to keep the anger out of her voice. It took a lot for her to get truly mad, but she was at that stage right now. Because they knew she wasn't trained for this, knew she wouldn't want to do it, and knew she'd say yes anyways.
“You know I’ll scrap the mission before I let him hurt you or do anything you're uncomfortable with.”
“I’ll be uncomfortable with all of it,” she replied hotly, pulling at her hair in exasperation.
She felt Bobbi's eyes on her, studying her silently, allowing Jemma the space to vent her anger. Once she'd calmed, Bobbi quietly asked her if she was mad that she'd told Coulson about Erik’s interest in her.
Jemma dropped her hands into her lap and sighed. Bobbi was not the person she should be taking this out on.
“I'm not mad at you for telling him. If you hadn't, you'd be stuck carrying out a much riskier plan. I'm not even mad at Coulson, really. I know he's making the most logical decision. I’m mad because I'm the one getting caught in the crossfire. Which is selfish, I know-”
“It's not selfish. You're not an operator, Jemma. What you're being asked to do is way out of your wheelhouse, so it's completely reasonable to be pissed off about it.”
Jemma nodded, some of her fury dissipating as a result of simply acknowledging it. “How do you handle it, when they push you past your breaking point?” she asked.
Bobbi folded her arms in front of herself as she looked down at the floor, frowning.
“It depends. If it's a good day, I go beat on a heavy bag. If it's not, I find somebody to yell at. Lately that's Hunter if he's nearby. If it's really bad or if I don't have time to deal with it, I bottle it up and try to ignore it. And that works about as well as you'd expect. So, I'm probably not the best person to ask about that.”
Jemma shrugged half-heartedly. “Your way is no worse than anyone else’s. Coulson locks himself in his office, May talks even less, Skye gets over exuberant, Mack hides in his garage, Hunter drinks, and Fitz gets extra snarky.”
Bobbi sat down next to her, taking ahold of Jemma’s hand.
“I know it'll be tough, but it shouldn't be any worse than what you've endured so far, except that you'll be acting it out with Erik instead of me.”
“It's different with you. I'm…” Attracted to you, she thought, but quickly snuffed that sentence out. Instead, she finished weakly with, “I know you.”
Bobbi squeezed her hand, somehow suggesting she knew exactly what Jemma had failed to say out loud.
“Yeah,” she confirmed, “it's different with you, too.”
Jemma lay flat on her back, pondering the likelihood of Bobbi taking pity on her if she looked pathetic enough. Maybe if she threw in a groan or two…
“Are you okay?”
“If I say no can we be done?” Jemma pleaded.
“No.” Bobbi smirked as she sat down over her, knees snug on either side of Jemma’s thighs. “We still need to practice your ground work.”
“I think I'm practicing it already.”
“Seriously, unless tickling is allowed I don't see any scenario where I come out on top of you.”
Bobbi leaned forward and pinned Jemma’s wrists to the ground.
“Once I have you like this, yeah, you're pretty much toast. The key is not to let me get you into this position, by any means necessary. That holds true in any fighting scenario, really, but especially with the height and strength disadvantages you have.”
“You're saying I should fight dirty,” Jemma clarified.
“Do you have a problem with that?”
“Not in the slightest.” Considering the alternatives if she were to be captured, it wasn't hard to forego fair play.
“Good.” Bobbi released her wrists and sat back on her heels. “I've seen you in the lab so I know you're not prone to being squeamish. How do you feel about eyeballs?”
Bobbi then proceeded to detail all of the most vulnerable parts of the human body, some obvious like eyes and the male parts of the anatomy, others less so, such as pressure points at the jaw or elbow.
“And the tried and true hair pulling and scratching with your nails are always options.”
“I don't have much as far as nails. Rather impractical for the lab.” She'd seen some techs manage it, but fashion only went so far for Jemma.
“Use what you've got,” Bobbi answered with a shrug before lunging forward.
Jemma knew the only way that would work was if she made contact with bare skin, so she pushed up against Bobbi’s shirt, trying to keep her from laying fully on top of her while also exposing her side. She quickly dragged her nails across smooth, then unexpectedly ragged skin.
Jemma both felt and heard Bobbi's sharp intake of breath.
“Sorry,” Jemma immediately apologized. “Was that too-”
“No, Jemma, that was smart. I figured you'd go for my neck or face.” Bobbi cleared her throat. “You just caught me by surprise, which is good.”
Jemma's hand was still on Bobbi's side. Sliding it up, she raised Bobbi's shirt back up so she could get a look at the marks she'd left, as well as the scar she'd encountered. It was old and looked like it might have been fairly deep. She was about to ask Bobbi more about it, but when she lifted her gaze the words died on Jemma’s lips.
Bobbi looked scared.
She hid it away in an instant, but the memories tied to that wound were intense and Jemma had no desire to unearth them simply because she was curious. Instead, she gently stroked her fingers across it while maintaining eye contact.
Bobbi’s eyes slipped shut, but she didn't move away, so Jemma continued rubbing soft circles until Bobbi's breathing eventually evened out.
“Sorry, it’s just a little bit of a sensitive area,” she said, attempting a weak smirk.
Jemma nodded, allowing Bobbi whatever mental space she needed. But when Jemma started to pull her hand away, Bobbi covered it with her own, keeping it against her as she looked off to the side. After a few moments, Bobbi turned her gaze back, her expression still raw, but calmer now. And grateful.
Jemma knew it was as much for her not asking questions as it was for the soothing contact. Perhaps more so.
Bobbi got to her feet, pulling Jemma up with her. They resumed training, almost as if nothing happened. But whenever they made eye contact, there was something new - something intimate.
Something else to make her wonder where this was heading towards.
Without knowing the layout of the playroom - specifically, which wall Jemma would be tied to - there was no guarantee Bobbi would be able to plant the listening device without Erik noticing. They needed to get him out of the room, or better yet, for him to want to get out of the room.
Bobbi’s proposed solution was a drug called prenzaphynenol. It was applied to the agent’s skin, then transferred to the target via touch, inducing severe illness.
“It acts very quickly if I recall. First symptoms within five to ten minutes, depending on the person’s physiology, with the effects escalating rapidly after that.”
“Correct,” Bobbi confirmed. “Once he leaves I can have the device planted and you out of there in under a minute.”
“Isn't that too fast? Won't he suspect being drugged?”
“Depends on how suspicious he is. But I know from experience it feels exactly like food poisoning and he's relatively new to the game, so his paranoia shouldn’t be too high yet.”
Jemma nodded as she watched Bobbi apply the drug to her upper body and ankles.
“Why not my wrists, too?”
“Because I’ll need to touch you there to release you from the restraints. Your ankles you can unfasten yourself. This way I won't have to take the antidote unless you decide to get all touchy feely with me.”
Jemma giggled a little too much at that thought, making her aware she was beginning to feel the antidote’s effects. Unfortunately, they’d yet to come up with an effective barrier to prevent absorption of the drug into the agent’s own skin, thus necessitating Jemma taking the antidote simultaneously. The antidote negated the sickness, but there were side effects - lowered inhibitions, relaxation, giddiness and slight euphoria. Hence why field agents referred to prenzaphynenol as the reverse hangover or backwards buzz.
“Remember, I’ll be in the room the whole time. If it gets to be too much, use the safe word or snap your fingers and I’ll end it.”
“Okay,” Jemma breathed out, enjoying the feeling of Bobbi’s hand moving across her back, sponging the cool liquid against her warm skin.
“It's okay if you like it.”
“What?” Jemma blurted out, eyes going wide.
“When you're with Erik. I know how strong the effects of the antidote are. Between that and the fact that he's hot as hell, I'd be surprised if you didn't get at least a little into it. You might not, but if you do, don't feel guilty about it.”
Jemma nodded, attempting to absorb Bobbi's words while simultaneously trying not to act too relieved. Bobbi could pick up on her body language and read into her words well enough already, she really didn't need her reading her thoughts as well.
A few swipes across the back of her thighs and knees and then Bobbi was finished. Jemma turned, meeting Bobbi’s eyes briefly before following her out of the stall.
As they walked towards the back rooms, the thumping bass of the music matched Jemma’s racing pulse. Bobbi clasped her hand in an effort to allay her nervousness, but Bobbi’s touch, in combination with the antidote coursing through Jemma’s veins, brought forth a flare of arousal. Jemma had to swallow back the urge to press her lips to the exposed flesh of Bobbi’s shoulder.
Looking up, she saw Erik waiting down the hall, an anticipatory smile tugging at the corners of his mouth. Upon entering the room, Bobbi raised Jemma’s hand and offered it to him.
As he led her to the wall, he slowly rubbed his thumb across the back of her hand, causing Jemma to tremble at the tactile sensation of it against her overheated skin. It was the effect of the antidote again, but he didn't know that and he looked over at her with a pleased smile.
“I love how responsive you are.”
She ducked her head and replied with a shy, “Thank you.”
Letting go of her, he positioned her face first against the wall and began wrapping the cuffs around her wrists and ankles. She remained passive while he worked, focusing on trying to maintain control over her reactions.
Regardless of what Bobbi said, she knew she would have serious misgivings about enjoying Erik’s attentions. If not immediately, then later on when the drug wore off. Yet, fighting it completely wasn't the answer either. Erik would likely pick up on her resistance and question it. She settled on yielding to the sensations, neither battling her body's responses, nor actively trying to escalate them either. It was a compromise she could accept, and would fall in line with Erik’s expectations of her.
With her line of sight limited, she couldn't see what Erik was retrieving from the table behind her, leaving her unprepared for the sudden cessation of sound when he slipped something over her ears. A blindfold followed a moment later, and the sensory deprivation left her feeling far more vulnerable than the restraints had alone…which was probably the idea.
Jemma inhaled sharply when he dragged his tongue along the top of her spine, dimly aware he'd now touched more than one drugged area of her body and should be feeling the effects soon.
But until then, she was stuck.
He explored her back with his tongue and teeth, biting at the tops of her shoulders with just the right amount of pressure. Her thoughts drifted to her first time in the playroom, and suddenly she was remembering Bobbi’s fingers skimming along her shoulders, her tongue licking across her chest.
Jemma’s inhibitions had been falling swiftly as the antidote began peaking in her system, and thinking of Bobbi while Erik stimulated her body proved to be a heady combination. Her hips arched forward involuntarily towards the wall, seeking friction against the low heat curling through her. The pressure helped, causing her to drop her head back in relief. She might have let loose a moan as well - with her ears covered she couldn't be sure - although Erik’s hum of approval against her shoulder suggested she probably had.
His pace had been gradually increasing, so it caught her off guard when the hands on her hips froze. Only when he resumed did she belatedly recognize it as the first sign of the prenzaphynenol affecting him. A minute later it happened again, when Erik’s tongue had been doing wonderful things to her ear. He continued once more, but after the third pause he backed away from her, leaving Jemma mentally relieved but physically frustrated.
While left unattended she tried to get her body under control, taking several deep breaths and thinking more innocuous thoughts. Unfortunately, just as she was starting to notice a slight improvement, she felt Bobbi’s hands on her wrist. She was deliberately gentle so as not to startle Jemma, but her soft touch reawakened her oversensitive skin.
Jemma tried to tamp it down once more as Bobbi freed her other wrist, but it seemed a futile gesture if she continued to make any sort of contact with her. Bobbi removing the blindfold and covering from her ears did serve as a brief distraction, however, as she was suddenly overwhelmed with sight and sound. It was disorienting enough that Bobbi had to prompt her to release her ankles still trapped in their restraints. Once she stepped away from the wall, Bobbi started leading her towards the door.
“It’s all set. We're good,” Bobbi assured her.
As they entered the hallway, Jemma inadvertently bumped shoulders with Bobbi. Luckily, no skin-to-skin contact was made, but Bobbi grabbed both of her wrists and squared in front of her to get her full attention.
“Jemma, you need to be more careful. Especially once we get out into the main part of the club. If anyone else gets sick, he’ll get suspicious.”
“I know,” she said distantly.
“Jemma, look at me.”
She hadn't realized her eyes had been focused elsewhere, namely on Bobbi’s lips.
“Are you okay?”
“No,” she admitted, dragging her eyes upwards to meet Bobbi’s. “I can't…” She swallowed, tried again. “I really want to touch you.”
Bobbi’s fingers twitched in response, and Jemma fought not to step forward.
“It’s hitting you hardest now. Try and focus. It'll only take a couple minutes to get through the crowd, then another ten minutes in the cab and we'll be home.”
Jemma nodded, starting an internal clock in her head.
As they entered the main room, Bobbi took a more circuitous path, trying to avoid close contact with anyone. There was one near call when a drunk patron stumbled backwards towards Jemma, but Bobbi intercepted him, shoving him onto the closest stool before he managed to touch her.
Finally, they reached the exit unscathed and the tension started to leave Bobbi's shoulders as she pushed the doors open and hailed the nearest cab.
They were both silent during the short ride home, Jemma hugging the door farthest away from Bobbi, keeping her gaze on the seat in front of her.
Once the door of their apartment clicked shut, Bobbi led her into the bathroom. After sitting Jemma down, she moved to the sink and wet a washcloth with solution, then knelt beside her and began swiping it across Jemma’s back in broad strokes. Once she’d finished that side, she came around to her front, starting at her ankles and working her way up.
The instant Bobbi finished, Jemma leaned forward to press her lips against hers.
Caught by surprise, it took a moment for Bobbi to respond, but once she did Jemma slid her hands behind Bobbi's neck, trying to deepen the kiss. It incurred the opposite effect, as Bobbi pulled away from her.
“I like kissing you.”
Bobbi half smiled at her. “I can see that. But you're feeling the effects of the antidote. Even though I wiped the prenzaphynenol off your skin, it's going to take a few hours for the antidote to clear your system.”
Jemma shook her head. “That's not-”
“Trust me. I saw how you reacted with Erik. You're horny, Jemma.”
“No, that's - I mean, yes, I am, but that's not…” She folded forward, face in her hands for several long seconds as she tried to organize her thoughts. “First off, I was thinking of you when he was touching me. And second, I like you, Bobbi. A lot.” She looked up and swallowed, voice raw. “It’s been like this for awhile now.”
“Is just making it easier to tell you.”
She pressed her lips to Bobbi's, barely brushing against her. Getting no response, she did it again, this time nipping Bobbi’s bottom lip as well, urging her to reciprocate. Again, nothing. Reluctantly, Jemma began to pull back, until Bobbi suddenly closed the distance.
The kiss was over almost as soon as it began, Bobbi backing up abruptly with a torn expression.
“You need to take a shower,” she said. “The solution I applied will irritate your skin if you don’t wash it off soon.”
Jemma dropped her head back to stare at the ceiling, huffing a breath out in frustration as Bobbi turned on the water.
Not bothering to wait for her to leave, Jemma began to remove her clothes as Bobbi adjusted the temperature - one last attempt to goad her into action. It worked to some extent. When she turned around, Bobbi didn't avert her eyes or back away. Just the opposite, in fact. Bobbi’s gaze slowly traveled down her body, lingering in places, and Jemma felt her skin heat further. But when she reached for Jemma’s elbow it was to direct her into the shower, and Jemma knew the fight was lost.
As she heard the soft click of the bathroom door shutting, she leaned against the tiles and closed her eyes, letting the water wash over her body while trying not to think too hard about what tomorrow might bring.
So, prenzaphynenol is not a real drug - just a convenient fictional tool for this story. :)
“What time are we staying until?”
“We can leave soon,” Bobbi replied, half turning so Jemma could hear her over the crowd.
They'd succeeded in bugging Erik’s room, but needed to keep the routine up for a little while so as to not look suspicious. Thankfully, that didn't mean they had to stay all evening tonight, because Jemma didn't want to be here any longer than was absolutely necessary.
Bobbi had barely spoken to her since last night. She'd taken off early to go running, coming back later than usual, then followed that up with an extensive workout, giving Jemma a rather clear picture that she didn't want to talk about what had transpired the night before.
Jemma had let it go all day, giving Bobbi space, but at this point it was driving her mad having things stew so uncomfortably.
To make matters worse, Bobbi kept giving her these looks. Not fleeting glances you had no hope in catching, but long, intense ones that ended with Jemma breaking eye contact first and Bobbi sporting an expression Jemma couldn't interpret.
So when Bobbi stood up from her stool and pulled Jemma to her feet, she sighed in relief that this day was finally coming to an end.
It caught her completely off guard when Bobbi led her towards the dance floor instead.
As soon as they stepped onto it, Bobbi crossed the distance between them, placing her hands on Jemma’s hips and pulling her flush against her - her expression no longer unreadable.
As with all of their interactions at the club, Jemma followed Bobbi’s lead. When Bobbi’s palm moved to her lower back, Jemma slid a hand up to the nape of Bobbi’s neck. When Bobbi’s fingers wrapped around the back of her thigh, Jemma brought a palm to Bobbi’s sternum.
And when Bobbi spun Jemma around and starting grinding up against her, Jemma let her head rest against Bobbi’s shoulder and pushed back.
The cab door had barely shut before Bobbi was pulling Jemma up and onto her lap to straddle her, with a hand at the back of Jemma’s head and a tongue licking up the side of her neck.
Hot, wet kisses trailed along her jaw, and Jemma impatiently turned her head to press her lips against Bobbi’s, opening her mouth to her. Jemma’s moan was swallowed as Bobbi’s tongue swept across hers, the hands at her hips holding Jemma firmly against her.
Only when the cab arrived at their apartment did Bobbi finally break away, leaving Jemma gasping for breath as Bobbi pulled her out of the vehicle.
Jemma’s back slammed against the door to their apartment, Bobbi pressing against her. Grasping Jemma’s thighs, she lifted her up to eye level but then paused, catching Jemma’s gaze and holding it.
“Are you sure?” Bobbi asked, trying to keep her breathing under control. “Because this will complicate things,” she said, her thumbs ghosting along Jemma’s skin.
“Things have been complicated for awhile,” Jemma replied evenly, before leaning in to nip at Bobbi’s lower lip, encouraging her to continue.
Bobbi nodded, lightly touching her lips against Jemma’s, each subsequent kiss increasing in hunger and need. Jemma’s fingers tangled in Bobbi’s hair, holding on as her hips started to roll forward.
“Bedroom,” Jemma panted.
As soon as they crossed the threshold, Jemma slipped her hands under the edges of Bobbi's top, sincerely grateful for their simpler outfits tonight. Regardless, she’d only lifted it an inch or two before Bobbi took over, hastily pulling it over her head in one fluid motion.
“Turn around," Bobbi instructed.
Jemma did so without pause, her breathing uneven as Bobbi pushed the straps of her dress down. Gentle fingers swept her hair aside, making way for Bobbi to kiss and suck her way along Jemma’s neck as she undid the zipper, allowing the fabric to pool at her feet.
Bobbi stepped in closer, pulling Jemma against her, one hand sliding underneath Jemma’s bra while the other moved in the opposite direction, finding heat and wetness.
“Bobbi,” Jemma breathed out, reaching behind her to grasp the back of Bobbi’s thigh, digging her nails in.
She received a growl in response, her only warning before Bobbi slipped two fingers inside of her.
Despite her hurriedness up until this point, Bobbi set a slow rhythm, an arm across Jemma’s middle holding her steady as she rocked into her. Occasionally, Bobbi brushed her thumb across Jemma’s clit, spiking the sensations roiling through her and pulling forth a loud response. But Bobbi kept teasing her, deliberately keeping the touches fleeting, preventing Jemma from leaning into her touch.
“Please,” Jemma finally implored, not caring how needy she sounded.
Bobbi acquiesced, applying more pressure and circling her thumb as her fingers continued driving into her. Jemma was close, very close, when Bobbi bit at her shoulder and curled her fingers inside of her. Either might have done it, but the combination ensured it, and Jemma went careening over the edge.
Bobbi continued to stroke her afterwards, until Jemma was able to stand on her own and form at least semi-intelligible thoughts again.
“Good?” Bobbi suggested, sounding justifiably pleased with herself.
“Mm, more than good,” Jemma sighed, laughing a little as she rested against Bobbi’s shoulder. After a few steadying breaths she turned in Bobbi’s arms, standing on her toes and pulling at Bobbi’s neck to draw her in for a slow, deep kiss.
Bobbi hummed her approval, one hand intertwining in Jemma’s hair while the other held onto her hip, fingers flexing insistently. Jemma’s hands drifted towards the front of Bobbi’s pants, unbuttoning them and calmly pulling on the zipper, ignoring Bobbi’s impatience in favor of teasing Bobbi back with her own leisurely tempo. She received a long, ragged breath in response, and had to bite back a smile when she felt Bobbi’s hands fist at her waist in frustration.
Gradually, Jemma pushed Bobbi’s pants over her hips and down her thighs, kneeling to strip the material off one leg, then the other, until both were bare. Jemma was about to stand back up, but the heated look in Bobbi’s eyes stopped her short, making Jemma suddenly aware of the position she was in.
Dropping her gaze to eye level, she hooked her fingers underneath Bobbi’s underwear, trailing her fingertips across Bobbi’s skin as she tugged them down and off, adding to the pile of clothing on the floor.
Jemma looked up once again, appreciating the view of Bobbi clad only in her bra, before leaning forward and licking into her.
As she languidly explored, Jemma felt Bobbi’s hands come to rest on her shoulders, nails crescenting her skin as Bobbi tried to restrain herself. Torn between prolonging the slow pace and giving into Bobbi’s desires, Jemma delivered a few more measured swipes before sliding two fingers into her.
Bobbi moaned and pulled Jemma in closer, relieved at no longer having to wait.
Jemma worked Bobbi’s clit with her tongue, picking up the pace as she added a third finger, causing Bobbi’s breathing to turn erratic. When Jemma felt her start to clench, she gently dragged her teeth across her.
Bobbi immediately yelled out, lifting onto the balls of her feet as she arched into a sharp release.
Jemma leaned against Bobbi’s thigh for a few breaths, enjoying the sound and feel of Bobbi trying to put herself back together. It didn’t last long, as Bobbi suddenly pulled Jemma to her feet, kissing her thoroughly as she directed her backwards onto the bed.
“You’re awfully good at that,” Bobbi said as she stretched herself over Jemma, looking down at her with an eyebrow raised expectantly.
Jemma only smiled in return, mouth quirking upward at the sated expression on Bobbi’s face.
“Uh-huh,” Bobbi said, amused at Jemma's coyness. Exhaling lazily, she rolled onto her back, pulling Jemma on top of her. “I’ll want that story at some point.”
“Not much of a story,” Jemma dodged. “It was at the Academy and…things just sort of happened.”
“Mm-hm. Tongueing a woman until she cums on your face doesn't just sort of happen,” Bobbi retorted, causing Jemma to blush scarlet almost instantly.
Jemma hid her face against Bobbi’s neck as Bobbi chuckled at her reaction.
“I still can’t believe how easily you flush about anything sexual in nature. I’d have thought you’d have gotten used to that by now,” she teased, before ducking her head down to meet Jemma’s eyes. “Not that I’m complaining. I think it’s beyond cute.”
Jemma relaxed against Bobbi, smiling, as Bobbi ran the backs of her fingers down Jemma's cheek, her expression suddenly soft.
It disappeared just as quickly, hidden and replaced with a hungry look as Bobbi pushed Jemma onto her back. Placing a knee on either side of Jemma’s hips, Bobbi hovered above her as her gaze moved along the length of Jemma's body.
“You know, training with me has other benefits besides improving your self defense techniques.”
“Really?” Jemma asked, having a hard time paying attention to Bobbi’s words when she was looking at her like that. “Like what?”
Jemma had grown accustomed to her first sight in the morning being that of the living room. She was momentarily disoriented when that wasn't the case, noticing a dresser and closet across from her, and feeling a bed instead of a couch underneath her.
Awareness sparked as she rolled onto her opposite side and saw Bobbi sprawled beside her, her naked body only partially covered by the sheets.
It'd been awhile since she'd woken up in bed with someone, discounting the occasional platonic need for comfort. The sporadic trysts she’d engaged in since joining SHIELD were purely rooted in a need for physical satiation. She'd never felt compelled to stay the night, preferring to avoid the next morning niceties.
The current situation didn't bother Jemma - waking up next to Bobbi was quite nice, in fact - but it was something she wanted to process for a bit before engaging in any sort of conversation. Sliding out of bed, she slipped her underwear on, then opened a drawer to find a camisole and pajama shorts before padding down the hallway into the kitchen.
As she quietly set about making a cup of tea, she let her mind wander while her hands moved through the familiar routine.
Last night had been both surprising and yet not. The sexual tension had been escalating for awhile, so the consummation of it certainly didn't strike out of nowhere. But after her drugged conversation and overtures to Bobbi two nights ago, Jemma had expected to have spent at least some portion of yesterday discussing that.
Her silence, therefore, was hardly accidental. Either she was uncertain of her feelings or she wasn't ready to share them yet.
Jemma didn't want to push - and she wouldn't - but the end result was that she felt off balance, it being unclear just exactly what sort of relationship situation they were in.
She pondered it while her tea was steeping, but hadn't come to any conclusions before she caught sight of Bobbi leaning against the doorframe.
“Hey,” Bobbi greeted her, running a hand through her sleep tousled hair. She was wearing only a tank top and underwear, and Jemma couldn't help her eyes from traveling the full length of Bobbi's body.
It didn't go unnoticed, as evidenced by the smirk now emerging in response.
Jemma cleared her threat before pointedly turning her attention back to her tea. “Are you hungry? I was thinking of making pancakes.”
Bobbi pushed herself away from the doorframe, coming to lean up against Jemma while wrapping her arms around her waist. “Definitely hungry,” she said, kissing along Jemma’s neck. “But maybe not for pancakes just yet.”
Jemma swallowed, turning her head and exposing her throat to Bobbi's wandering lips, letting out a small yelp when she was abruptly lifted onto the counter.
Bobbi stepped forward, nudging Jemma's knees apart as she leaned forward for a demanding kiss.
Eventually, Jemma had to pull back for air, and Bobbi took that as an opportunity to slide Jemma’s shorts off. Once that was accomplished, she dropped to her knees on the kitchen tile.
Jemma's breath caught as she felt a soft kiss through the thin fabric of her underwear.
A moment later that barrier was gone and she was gripping the countertop, hips bucking forward when she felt Bobbi’s tongue on her. Bobbi's hands tightened on Jemma’s thighs in response, holding her in place while she worked Jemma in earnest.
She was so lost in the sensation of Bobbi’s mouth moving over and inside of her, she didn't notice when Bobbi’s hands started drifting down Jemma’s thighs.
“Oh, bollocks!” Jemma suddenly yelped, her head smacking into the cupboards behind her in response to Bobbi’s fingers lightly stroking the backs of her knees.
Her reaction elicited muffled laughter from Bobbi.
“So that’s a fun hot zone,” Bobbi commented as she continued to lightly brush her fingertips back and forth there.
"Bobbi," she breathed, unable to utter anything more coherent, feeling Bobbi grin at her current state of unravel.
Releasing one of her knees, Bobbi slid her hand across Jemma’s stomach, bringing her thumb against her clit. Jemma whispered Bobbi’s name again - one of the few words left in her vocabulary - and the hummed response she got in return had her trembling. Bobbi increased the pressure of her thumb, pushed a little deeper with her tongue, and Jemma cried out, mind awash in blissful white noise.
Awareness slowly returned, as Jemma felt Bobbi's tongue drawing out the residual waves of her orgasm. Releasing one hand from the counter, she pulled Bobbi up into a lazy kiss.
Jemma exhaled when they broke apart, still trying to catch her breath.
“Things sort of happened at the Academy for me, too.” Bobbi said, smiling and winking at her before reaching down for Jemma’s discarded clothes on the floor.
“So…,” Bobbi mused aloud as Jemma got dressed. “Pancakes?”
“How long of a gig is it?” Gavin asked.
“Not sure. A few months at least, although they told her it could be permanent,” Jemma explained to the table at large. It was her task to inform them about Bobbi’s ‘new job’ and therefore their soon departure from the scene.
“Are you going try the long distance thing?”
“No, they're letting me work remotely. I've done long distance before. Not really conducive to a serious relationship.”
“So we’re in a serious relationship, are we?” Bobbi teased as she slid into the empty chair beside Jemma. “And here I thought you were only in it for the mind-blowing sex.”
“That, too,” Jemma murmured under her breath. She glanced around the rest of the table, waiting until everyone was absorbed into separate conversations, before turning towards Bobbi. “How'd it go with Erik?” she asked quietly.
“Good,” Bobbi said. “Had the charm cranked to eleven trying to convince me otherwise, but he’s fine with it.”
Hearing her response, Jemma felt her shoulders relax as the tension began to dissipate. Drugging Erik had gone off without a hitch, but he’d wanted to reschedule. Bobbi, thankfully, had predicted as much and was prepared for it, saying she'd gotten too jealous seeing him with Jemma.
“He told me to keep him in mind if something changes or if we want a bit of variety.” A slow smirk emerged as she caught Jemma’s eye. “Said he'd love to watch us go at it, even if he can't touch.”
Jemma rolled her eyes, not really surprised at the request. “Please don't tell Coulson. He might get ideas.”
“Really?” Bobbi's eyebrows rose dramatically. “Does Coulson have a voyeur fantasy I should know about?”
It took a second for Jemma to make sense of Bobbi’s words, for her to realize she’d mistakenly implied-
“Oh, lord, no” she sputtered out. “I meant I didn't want Coulson to get ideas about letting Erik watch. Like last time,” she rushed to explain, “when Coulson found out about Erik wanting to borrow me and then the whole playroom thing. I didn't mean Coulson wanting to watch you and me-”
Jemma cut herself off, desperately trying to halt the mental image that was starting to form.
Bobbi laughed, smiling at Jemma’s mortification. “Yeah, no. Even if that is a kink of his, that's not gonna happen.”
“Agreed,” Jemma mumbled.
“Although,” Bobbi continued, pretending to look thoughtful, “maybe not a bad idea to say yes to Erik…make him happy, ensure he doesn't suspect anything.” Bobbi let loose a sly grin. “I can go set something up right now. What do you think?”
Jemma stared at Bobbi blankly. Bobbi was teasing. Jemma knew Bobbi was teasing. But that didn't stop her from swallowing nervously at the suggestion.
Bobbi leaned in closer, the music thrumming in the background.
“Or perhaps wait until we're back at base,” she suggested, her breath hot against Jemma’s cheek. “Set up a camera in one of our rooms and patch him in remotely. Keep playing these roles behind closed doors.” Bobbi licked along Jemma’s jaw, her hand starting to sneak up Jemma's skirt. “For the sake of the mission, of course.”
Jemma’s breath grew shallower, her pulse speeding up at the picture described.
“Is that what you want?” Bobbi asked.
She didn't wait for a reply. Instead, she bit down on Jemma’s earlobe, increasing the pressure until Jemma whimpered from the aching pleasure of it.
“Or should I tell Erik no?” Bobbi whispered. “That the only person that gets to see you naked, that gets to hear you screaming my name as you come apart…is me.”
They were being lazy this morning, neither wanting to get out of bed quite yet. Jemma was playing with the ends of Bobbi’s hair while Bobbi explored Jemma’s body, slowly dragging the pads of her fingertips over every part within reach.
Lying there, Jemma realized it’d been four days since she last slept on the couch.
The first several nights had made sense, falling asleep next to Bobbi after some rather vigorous rounds of sex. Last night, though, they'd been too tired to do anything other than sleep. Yet when Jemma made for the couch, Bobbi had diverted her towards her room, pulling Jemma into bed alongside her.
It was those sorts of actions which gave Jemma at least some clue as to what Bobbi was feeling. Bobbi had yet to say anything verbally, and Jemma was beginning to second guess herself, wondering if maybe she should initiate the conversation instead of waiting until Bobbi brought it up.
She was trying to figure out a subtle way to broach the subject when Bobbi’s hand drifted across Jemma’s right hip, causing her to flinch involuntarily.
Upon looking and seeing the cluster of dotted scars on her side, Bobbi quietly apologized, shifting her hand away before Jemma could offer an explanation.
“No, it's okay. It doesn't bother me,” she assured her, but seeing Bobbi’s doubting expression, Jemma knew she was going to have to elaborate. She just really, really didn't want to.
“I'm a bit ticklish there, is all,” she whispered, as if saying it quietly would somehow make a difference.
A slow, wide grin emerged on Bobbi’s face as her hand inched back to it's earlier position. Jemma futilely tried to scoot backwards, but within moments she was squirming in between short bursts of laughter.
“What?” Jemma gasped, unable to focus on anything except the playful torture Bobbi was subjecting her to.
“The scars. They look like a chemical burn,” Bobbi repeated, pulling forth a few more laughs before finally sliding her hand away, giving Jemma a chance to recover.
“Yes. Back when I was at the Academy,” she breathed out. “The person working next to me was an incompetent arse. His experiment exploded and sprayed across my side, burning straight through my lab coat and shirt.”
Bobbi echoed her disapproval, then leaned over her, pressing kisses to each mark before laving her tongue across the span of them.
“Mm,” Jemma sighed, squirming for a different reason now. “You're making me wish I had more scars.”
Bobbi kept at it, trailing another slow lick across her hip before wandering to unblemished territory. Jemma’s breath hitched as Bobbi moved along her abdomen, lingering with her kisses such that there would be evidence tomorrow.
She was so engrossed in what Bobbi was doing to her, she almost didn't hear Bobbi when she started to speak.
“That scar on my side…” she murmured. “The one you came across when we were training…”
Jemma tensed, remembering Bobbi’s reaction that day.
“The reason it bothers me isn't because of what happened to me on that mission.” Bobbi paused to sweep her tongue along the skin just below Jemma’s breast. “I've dealt with far worse.”
Bobbi’s lips moved over top of Jemma's breast, sucking then biting, making it hard for Jemma to focus, keeping her too distracted to do anything other than listen.
“It bothers me because of what I did.”
Bobbi insinuated her thigh between Jemma's legs, her hand slipping behind Jemma’s head to twine into her hair. “That scar reminds me of who I am,” she said flatly, then covered Jemma's mouth with her own and started a rhythm, thigh and hips rolling.
Jemma lifted her hand to cup Bobbi's cheek, but Bobbi shrugged it away, rejecting any semblance of pity or comfort.
Taking possession of both of Jemma’s wrists, Bobbi pulled and locked them together over Jemma’s head, pinning her down one-handed as she reached over the side of the bed to procure the thin shirt she'd worn the night before. She began wrapping the cloth around Jemma’s wrists, but paused midway to make eye contact with her.
Jemma’s chest tightened at the look of concern in Bobbi's eyes. “It's okay,” she whispered, trying to both reassure Bobbi and provide her license to continue.
Whether that was conveyed successfully or not Jemma didn't know. Bobbi only nodded, kissing Jemma softly on the lips before tightening the knots and securing Jemma’s wrists to the headboard, then devouring Jemma’s lips, throat, breasts, and stomach. She ended her quick descent by parting Jemma’s thighs and using her tongue to elicit a needy gasp.
Bobbi was rushing it, but Jemma didn't care, her body willing to meet Bobbi’s pace. It didn't take long before Jemma was pulling at her restraints, hips bucking forward as Bobbi hurtled her over the edge.
She wasn't surprised when Bobbi crawled her way back up and immediately slanted her mouth over hers again - Bobbi was swimming in emotional distress and channeling it into physicality was her outlet. Still, it took Jemma a few moments to catch up, to open her mouth to Bobbi’s and reciprocate.
She was rewarded with a hand softly caressing her breast, a wonderfully acute contrast to the teeth tugging at Jemma’s lower lip. She closed her eyes at the tremors of sensation, and when Bobbi pulled back to kiss along her jaw, Jemma licked her own lips, chasing the taste of her.
Although she’d slowed the pace somewhat, Bobbi’s intensity remained unchanged, and Jemma keened when Bobbi began stroking into her, over and over, fingers curling in just the right way. Jemma’s head fell back as the pressure built, then crested, letting out a breathy cry when her release rushed through her once again.
This time Jemma was able to catch her breath afterwards, watching as Bobbi unknotted the restraints, then lightly began rubbing at the reddened marks on Jemma’s skin. She’d helped Bobbi exorcise her most tumultuous emotions, but it was a temporary abatement, and this wasn't a one time moment of self-criticism - this was something old and dark, and it would tear Bobbi apart if she didn't come to terms with it. But Jemma knew talking was a line of communication unavailable to her. Bobbi wasn't going to listen.
Not to words, at least.
So when Jemma spoke, it was with slow kisses and gentle touches. Wordlessly repeating that it was okay. More specifically, telling Bobbi that she was okay.
Not unexpectedly, Bobbi fought it.
It was almost painful, seeing how hard it was for Bobbi to accept she deserved to be cared about. More than once, she attempted to speed up the pace, trying to strip out the emotions. But Jemma kept it slow. She wouldn't let Bobbi turn this into simple sex.
For Jemma, too, it was emotionally intimate on a level bordering on discomfort. As she pressed a kiss to the inside of Bobbi’s elbow or brushed her fingertips down Bobbi’s thigh, she was baring feelings she hadn't wanted to identify yet. Feelings that went beyond just liking Bobbi.
It was necessary, though. To get Bobbi to judge herself differently, she needed to see herself through someone else's eyes.
So Jemma pushed away her own self-doubts in favor of allaying Bobbi's, silently communicating her affections towards her. Losing herself in the feel of Bobbi’s skin and the sound of her breath.
Only afterwards, when she felt a hand caress her jaw and reach under her chin, did Jemma finally look up at Bobbi. She couldn't hold her gaze for long - it was too intense, loaded with too many questions neither of them knew how to ask. But within it was something else, something threading through the chaos. A sensation of falling - but not in a bad way, and not alone.
Jemma took her time getting dressed, dispassionately slipping on a thigh-high stocking and fastening it to her garter, fingers adept from experience.
Tonight was their last night at the club. Bobbi had spoken to Coulson a few hours ago, and he'd informed her they'd be getting picked up early tomorrow morning.
She knew she should be happy this assignment was over. And she was, a little bit, because she desperately missed being in the lab. But in less than twenty four hours she’d be spending most of her time at a work bench behind a microscope, while Bobbi would be elsewhere - in the gym working out, holed up in her room studying mission reports, or maybe sprawled out in the lounge talking to Mack.
But not in the same room as Jemma. Or at least not very often.
She had grown accustomed to spending the majority of her time with Bobbi, and the sense of loss at that impending change was threatening to overwhelm her.
Eyeing herself in the mirror, she smoothed her hands down the front of her dress. It was short enough that she had to coordinate her undergarments as well, because it was almost guaranteed she'd be flashing them tonight. But it was also one of Bobbi's favorites - a choice that didn't go unnoticed based on the way Bobbi was now looking at her from the bathroom doorway. Bobbi’s outfit, on the other hand, Jemma hadn't seen before.
Jemma licked her lips as her pulse sped up. “You look incredible,” she whispered.
“You, too,” Bobbi said while stepping forward, her hands seeking Jemma’s hips as she leaned down to nuzzle along her ear. “You smell amazing dressed like this.”
“What do you mean?” she asked, curiosity regaining her a modicum of focus.
“Whatever scents you use in the shower combined with these clothes…” Bobbi inhaled deeply, “It makes me think of you and sex.”
A tremble went through her at Bobbi's words, and before it had even run its course Bobbi lifted her onto the countertop, kissing her hard until she had Jemma pressed up against the mirror.
She pulled back after a few seconds, but it was only to reach for the collar on the other side of the sink. Jemma held still as Bobbi slipped it around her neck, before sliding a finger underneath it to bring Jemma closer.
“What time is it?” she asked against Jemma’s lips.
“Ten-thirty, I think. Or eleven. I can't-” Jemma’s voice caught as Bobbi’s hands and mouth found bare skin. “Can't remember. Early, I think. Why?”
Bobbi flipped up the skirt of Jemma’s dress in lieu of a reply.
They returned from the club five and a half hours later, Jemma slowly shutting the door of their apartment. Next to her, Bobbi was taking off her boots, eyes unwavering from Jemma, which would have been unnerving if it hadn't been like this since the moment they’d walked into the club earlier.
She made to move past Bobbi, but a hand on her wrist caught her. Jemma kept her gaze carefully averted as she was pulled closer, and when a gentle hand turned her face, she let her eyes fall shut.
“Open your eyes, Jemma,” Bobbi asked softly.
She shook her head minutely. She didn't want Bobbi to see how much this bothered her - the uncertainty in regards to their relationship.
Jemma was used to unknown variables in her work, but they came with a structured path towards resolving them. Unlike now, where she had no clear idea of what their relationship would look like once they got back to the base - whether or not Bobbi was happy in it’s current form or if she wanted something else. With the shift in circumstances, it was possible Bobbi would pull back from it entirely - consciously or otherwise.
“Please,” Bobbi requested as her fingers brushed aside a lock of Jemma’s hair.
Jemma squeezed her eyes shut even tighter. She was already giving away too much through her body language alone.
“Please,” Bobbi asked again, kissing each of her eyelids.
It was the pleases that did it. Jemma could have held out and Bobbi would have let it go…but Bobbi never asked for anything. So Jemma opened her eyes, slowly, and focused on the hollow of Bobbi's throat. After a few breaths she slid her gaze upwards, getting trapped in a searching look that lasted for several drawn out breaths.
Bobbi opened her mouth to speak, her expression resolute, but was cut off by a knock on the door.
Jemma jumped, startled, while Bobbi cursed under her breath and dropped her head back in frustration, carding her fingers through her hair.
“That's our ride,” she said quietly.
Jemma shakily took a step backwards from her. “I thought they weren't coming until morning.”
“Early morning. And unfortunately, it technically is,” Bobbi answered, aggravated, while pulling a gun from underneath the sofa. She waited for Jemma to retrieve a weapon for herself, before getting in position near the door.
The precautions proved to be unnecessary, as they were greeted by Agent May’s familiar visage.
Bobbi opened the door further, allowing her inside. The two agents with her strode into the apartment and began lifting the boxes they'd packed earlier.
May glanced between Bobbi and Jemma, raising an eyebrow.
“We just got back from the club,” Bobbi responded while handing Jemma her shoes. It wasn't really an answer - and the look May gave Bobbi said as much - but May didn't push it, silently waiting for them to gather the last of their belongings.
Within minutes they were out the door, exiting the building to climb into a nondescript SUV.
Jemma was leaning her head against the glass, turned away to avoid the surreptitious glances she kept getting from the other two agents at her apparel. She’d listened to Bobbi answer a few questions from May, but that had faded quickly. Now she was left with the sounds of the vehicle’s engine, the occasional shifting of the people surrounding her, and an uninteresting landscape to try and hold her attention.
It wasn't working.
Jemma’s thinking was scattershot and cyclical - mostly hypothesizing on what Bobbi was about to say and contemplating on the current state of her lab. It was useless speculation and indicative of her tiredness, and even though she’d never slept well in motor vehicles it was a better option at this point.
Before drifting off she glanced up towards the passenger seat and unexpectedly caught Bobbi looking at her. They held each other's gaze for awhile, long enough the other occupants in the car might have noticed and wondered, but Jemma didn't care and neither did Bobbi.
Only when Bobbi gave her a half-smile and told her to get some rest did she finally close her eyes, bittersweetness creeping into the edges of her awareness as sleep took hold.
They'd taken two, maybe three steps off the Quinjet when Coulson approached them holding two sets of folders, bearing an expression that didn't bode well at all.
“I'm sorry,” he said. “I wish I could give you some time to settle in, but this situation is past critical and I need each of your particular skill sets to diffuse it.”
Coulson explained further while they each opened their respective folders.
“This happened outside of Madrid yesterday. The substance they were exposed to has yet to be identified, but it's believed to be alien. As you can see, the effects were horrific, and apparently this was only a small display for possible buyers. Simmons, I need you to identify and find a counteragent to the substance they used.”
“Yes, sir,” she replied while leafing through the files. Jemma had a strong stomach, but even she felt a small wave of nausea at the pictures included.
“Agent Morse, you'll depart immediately to intercept and interrogate the seller before the product changes hands. We have a strike team ready to move once you get us the location of where it's being manufactured and stored.”
Coulson handed her a travel bag which presumably contained her suit, weapons, and other necessary gear, and Jemma watched as Bobbi accepted the sudden change in plans without complaint.
“Be careful,” Jemma said earnestly, unable to say much more in front of their current audience.
“See you soon,” Bobbi promised, walking backwards a few steps before pivoting around and disappearing up the ramp.
Jemma had resisted the urge to let her gaze linger, not wanting to deal with any questions from Coulson. Like May, he would notice, but unlike May he wouldn't let it pass without comment.
As they made their way down the halls, Coulson answered a phone call while Jemma read through the files. She wasn't really paying attention to where she was going, her feet knowing the way to the lab by heart. It took Coulson putting a hand over his phone and calling her name for her to notice he'd stopped at the intersection a few strides back.
“I'm sure you've grown accustomed to it, but I'm fairly certain productivity in the lab will plummet if you go in there wearing your current attire.”
Jemma looked down, blushing faintly before hugging the folder to her chest and hurrying past Coulson towards her room.
Once inside she dropped the files onto the bed, heading straight for her closet and pulling out clothes that felt a touch foreign after so long. As she began to undress, her mind filtered the data she'd skimmed so far, already tunneling towards theories and solutions. But on the edges, Jemma could feel it - a soft ache wanting to envelop her.
She knew it would be worse tonight, lying in an empty bed without the activities of the lab to distract her. But she couldn't do anything about that, which was why she folded her dress from the club and tucked it into a drawer, removing the reminder.
When she picked up the collar, however, it prompted her to think of the first time she'd worn it, and she realized it was going to hurt no matter what, and the reminders contained memories she didn't want to ignore.
So she pulled the dress back out, placed the collar on top, and left them both on top of the dresser. Grabbing the folder off the bed, she exited her room, pushing her thoughts towards cell structure abnormalities and mutagenic alien viruses.
Jemma glanced at the clock across the lab, unsurprised to see it was almost 3:00am - she'd been back for almost a week and still wasn't even close to a normal schedule. Skye had teased her about it right up until yesterday, when her own op ran ridiculously late and she didn't crawl out of bed until after Jemma had finished breakfast.
Before this recent mission, Jemma had never paid close attention to the assignments of her coworkers. She'd notice when they were gone from the base, of course, but unless it affected her work it wasn't something that drew her attention or concern.
Bobbi’s current absence changed that.
The initial crisis they’d been tasked with had been resolved three days ago, but a new situation cropped up in Bobbi’s vicinity and she’d been sent there to handle it.
Now Jemma found herself thinking about her coworkers - specialists like May and Bobbi, in particular - and of how often their lives were in flux, being dropped into one mess after another. It was a testament to their strength and abilities, but also a formula for pain, both mental and physical. It was no wonder they were so adamant in cordoning off the cracks in that strength - quarantining it is what kept them from breaking apart.
The lab doors sliding open behind her interrupted any further ruminations. She thought for a moment it was Skye, but the stride was too long, the gait one she'd become closely attuned to.
“I don't think you're properly dressed to be listening to this kind of music,” Bobbi drawled, referring to the familiar bass heavy beats suffusing the lab.
A smile crept onto Jemma’s face as she lowered the volume a bit before turning to look at Bobbi.
“I could go pick something out for you to wear,” she continued, grinning. “I spotted my apparel amongst the boxes in my room. I’m assuming you received yours as well.”
Jemma rolled her eyes. “Yes. Skye came across it when she helped me unpack.”
“Oh, no.” Bobbi’s mouth split into a wide smile as she leaned against the table next to Jemma.
“Oh, yes. She decided she’s throwing a Halloween party, with the express purpose of getting us to wear items from those boxes. And before you say anything, the answer is no bloody way in hell.”
“That's what you say now,” Bobbi smirked. “But if all the rest of your clothing just happens to go missing…”
“I'll lock myself in my room.”
Bobbi shrugged. “Skye can hack the lock.”
“And then what?” Jemma arched an eyebrow at her. “Are you going to wrestle me into one of those dresses?”
“Maybe.” Bobbi’s smile turned lascivious. “But only if you ask nicely.”
Jemma shook her head in amused exasperation as she jotted down a note about her current experiment. An annotation from earlier in the day caught her eye, thus she failed to hear the soft approach of Bobbi's footsteps behind her.
Her attention was quickly drawn when she felt Bobbi press up against her back, her arms wrapping around Jemma’s middle.
“I missed you,” Bobbi said, all teasing aside as she pressed a light kiss to the curve of Jemma’s neck.
“I missed you, too,” Jemma breathed out.
She’d just started sinking into the comfort of that exchange when Bobbi continued on, with words Jemma didn't expect.
“I asked Coulson for the night off tomorrow. For the both of us. I want to take you out to dinner.”
Jemma stilled. From the way Bobbi phrased it, it would seem obvious what she was implying, but…
“Are you asking me out on a date?”
“Yes.” Bobbi confirmed, smiling against Jemma’s cheek.
Jemma wrinkled her brow in confusion. She tried to turn, wanting to see Bobbi's expression, but the arms around her held her in place.
“Aren't we…sort of past that?” she finally asked.
“Yes, and it’s- that's kind of the point,” Bobbi explained haltingly. “We did this backwards. Moving in with each other, sleeping together. We never did the first part - the dating part - and I kind of really want that. If that works for you, too.”
It took a moment for her to process the words, thrown off by Bobbi's noticeably missing confidence and swagger, but eventually Jemma let out the breath she felt like she'd been holding all week.
“Yes,” she answered firmly. “Very much yes.”
Bobbi exhaled and loosened her grip, affording Jemma the opportunity to swing around to face her. Wrapping a hand around Bobbi’s neck and standing up on her toes, Jemma put all of her thoughts and feelings into her kiss, seeking to erase any lingering doubts Bobbi might be harboring.
To echo that purpose, Jemma slid her fingers underneath Bobbi's top, urging it up and off before moving forward to mouth the top of each breast. Meanwhile, her hands traveled in the opposite direction, skimming over Bobbi's stomach to undo the front of her jeans.
She was teasing her hand lower when Bobbi reached down and gently stopped her.
“Hold on,” she said, taking in a quick breath before meeting Jemma’s questioning eyes. “I know you said yes, but-”
Bobbi looked away, her eyes gone glassy, and Jemma waited as she fought whatever was momentarily overriding her emotional control. When Bobbi turned back, it was with a pained expression Jemma fervently hoped she could mitigate.
“Jemma, you’re the most open, straightforward person I know. And I’m not. I can’t be. I need to know if you're okay with that before-”
Bobbi stopped and shook her head, looking down.
“I can't go through that again,” she admitted, eyes closed, fists at her sides.
Jemma lifted her hand, brushing her fingers along Bobbi's jaw. She had known since their conversation about Bobbi's ex that this could potentially be a problem.
“Bobbi,” Jemma said softly. “There’s a difference between truthfulness and honesty. I don’t want you to lie to me. But, that doesn't mean you always have to tell me what you do. Or even what you think or feel, for that matter. I'm fine with that.”
Bobbi didn't say anything for awhile, eyes fixed somewhere near Jemma’s collar.
“It's just-” Bobbi looked up, and Jemma was caught by the vulnerability she was seeing. That Bobbi was choosing to let her see.
“My reason for not telling you would be different than it was with Hunter,” Bobbi confessed. “I don't know how you'll respond if you get to know the bloody and brutal side of me.”
And now it was Jemma's turn to look away, blinking a few too many times, because she really needed to not cry right now.
“Bobbi,” Jemma’s voice cracked as she looked back at her, “- just because I'm not a specialist doesn't mean I’m unaware of what you do. I’ve been around enough agents from operations. Hide things from me because they're classified, or because you don't want to talk about it. Not because you think I'd ever judge you for it.”
Bobbi swallowed roughly and fell silent, seemingly unprepared for the response Jemma had given her.
“Why are you making this so easy?” she finally asked.
Jemma paused for a moment, her heart breaking a little, because Bobbi should have already known the answer.
Taking a breath, she said, “Because you’re strong and brilliant and wonderful and kind…and because I’m kind of falling in love with you.”
It probably could have been said more eloquently, but it didn't matter because the look in Bobbi's eyes shifted, replaced with something else. Something warm and happy.
Bobbi pulled her in close, resting her cheek on top of Jemma's head.
“I’m kind of falling in love with you, too,” she whispered fiercely.
And then she was leaning into Jemma, bending her back over the table as she captured Jemma’s mouth, all earlier hesitancy gone.
Jemma’s hands gripped the edge of the bench until the angle became too severe, and when she fell back onto her elbows, Bobbi took advantage and lifted Jemma’s hips up onto the table.
A moment later she was flat on her back, with Bobbi crawling on top of her.
Jemma picked up where she left off from before, tugging at the zipper on Bobbi’s jeans. Meanwhile, nimble fingers slipped the buttons of Jemma’s top open, giving Bobbi unfettered access to swaths of bare skin. She squirmed as Bobbi laved attention on her breasts, sucking and biting through the fabric of her bra, while her hand drifted down Jemma’s torso.
Jemma was one step ahead, her fingers already sweeping into Bobbi. Bobbi shifted her body after a few strokes, resting her forehead against Jemma’s and cupping the back of her jaw as her hips rolled forward with Jemma's motions.
“Faster,” Bobbi breathed out, nipping at Jemma’s bottom lip as her fingers slid into Jemma.
She increased her pace, then circled her thumb over Bobbi’s clit, pulling forth a low growl. She repeated the action with every stroke, and soon Bobbi was groaning into her mouth, crying out hoarsely as her climax washed over her.
Jemma hadn't realized she'd closed her eyes until she unexpectedly felt lips covering her own, Bobbi’s tongue seeking access as she worked Jemma towards her own release.
When Bobbi’s mouth withdrew, Jemma made a small noise of protest. But opening her eyes revealed Bobbi’s blue ones looking at her intently, desire and need laced with love and affection.
Jemma couldn't look away, wondering what her own eyes shown.
Any further thoughts fell away as Bobbi’s fingers curled, making Jemma arch in response. Her nails dug into Bobbi’s shoulders when she found that spot again and again, leaving Jemma gasping and throwing her head back as her release took over.
Collapsing onto the table, her surroundings slowly came back into focus.
“This will be a problem,” Jemma finally said, smiling lazily. “I don't think I'll be able to look at this table for at least a few days without blushing.”
“Mmm. Get used to it,” Bobbi replied. “This won't be the last time it's used for extracurricular activities.” Bobbi snuck in one more kiss, then climbed down to pull her shirt back on and zip up her jeans.
Jemma was partway through buttoning her own top when Bobbi waylaid that effort, sliding her hands in between the still open upper halves to palm at Jemma's breasts. Feeling her body instantly start to respond, she hastily pulled Bobbi’s hands away. “We’ll end up rechristening the lab if you continue.”
“And?” Bobbi quirked her eyebrow.
Jemma’s laughter bubbled forth. “And I do have actual work that needs doing.” She shook her head, smiling as Bobbi stepped away, reluctantly allowing Jemma to resume fastening her shirt.
Once she’d finished, she looked up to see Bobbi wearing a more serious expression.
“Thank you,” she said.
“For saying yes,” Bobbi replied, soft, but fervently. “And for being okay with everything that comes along with that.”
Jemma smiled and nodded. “Of course,” she murmured.
Sensing the mood might be slipping into somberness, she teased Bobbi in response.
“But you do realize it was a conditional yes,” she said playfully.
“Oh, really?” Bobbi retorted, grinning. “What’s the condition?”
“Just because it’s a date, doesn’t mean we’re stopping at first base,” Jemma declared, letting her smile grow suggestive. “Or any of the bases for that matter.”
Bobbi stepped forward, pressing herself flush against Jemma. “That's very much not a problem,” she replied, hands immediately starting to wander.
Jemma sidled out of her grasp, attempting to look reproachful but only getting an eye roll in response. Reaching for her safety glasses, she switched to an apologetic gaze. “I’m sorry, but I really do have-“
“Work. I know.” Bobbi sighed dramatically as she sauntered towards the door. She turned at the last moment, narrowing her eyes at Jemma such that she felt like a small animal caught out in the open.
“Regardless of Skye’s Halloween aspirations,” Bobbi intoned, eyes gleaming, “don’t think you’re done wearing those outfits just because our assignment ended.”
Bobbi let that statement hang in the air for several breaths, holding Jemma in her sights, before slowly turning around and walking out the door.
Jemma swallowed hard, face flushing to an empty lab as she turned back to the experiment she'd been in the middle of…while trying to stop thinking about which outfit she was going to wear first.
Thank you guys for all the comments and kudos. I had a pretty strong outline of this done before I started posting it - figured I just needed to do some minor editing before putting up each chapter - but the awesomely great feedback led me to rework some chapters a little, some a lot, and resulted in new chapters as well.
Seriously, it made this a way stronger fic because of it, so thanks everyone.
(And to independentalto and mldcmx - you guys rocked it.)