4 Times Fitz Made the Tea and One Time Simmons Did
1. 8 o’clock
Fitz had only ever known Simmons to be very calm and collected, if a bit excitable. Then, exams happened. He started to wonder if his friend had been replaced by a more rabid copy of himself.
As opposed to Simmons, Fitz was the opposite of collected. He tended to be messy and a bit paranoid (he still swears that mailman was with HYDRA). During exams, however, the two almost seemed to switch.
Fitz had never fully realized this until he visited Simmons in her academy dorm for a study session on chemical kinetics. It was already 8 when he got there since he had a project for his advanced mechanics class to work on. He actually hadn’t seen Simmons since the day before. So, when he arrived to find her in the same clothes he left her in, with more wrinkles of course, and her notes strewn messily around her room, he was a bit startled.
Her head snapped up from her book. She rubbed at her neck, presumably from whiplash.
“Oh, Fitz, you’re here! Aren’t you early?” She laughed nervously. Fitz had never once seen her this out of sorts. Even on days she didn’t have class, she would never even sit around her dorm in pajamas, much less clothes from the day before. She prided herself on professionalism and decorum, even when it wasn’t necessary.
“Simmons, it’s past eight. I’m actually a wee bit late, to be honest. Are you alright?”
“Yes, yes, of course! I just got caught up in looking over my notes.” She seemed a bit twitchy and Fitz looked over to find the vestiges of coffee in her mug.
“Have you been drinkin’ coffee?”
“Hm? Oh, yes, a bit. I was getting a bit drowsy and wanted to stay awake to keep studying.” She swayed slightly.
“Okay, Simmons, I’m gonna put the kettle on and you’re not havin’ anymore coffee. It’s not good for you and the American stuff tastes like right piss anyways.” He dropped his books and snatched up her mug before she could protest.
“Fitz, you don’t have to—.”
“I think I do. You look like you haven’t slept since I saw you Friday.”
She averted her gaze. “Of course I have, Fitz. Don’t be silly.” She yawned, immediately followed by an awkward cough.
He grabbed Simmons’ kettle from her cupboard and set it up on the stove. “Simmons, you are the worst liar I have ever met. I hope you never have to go undercover for anythin’.” Fitz turned around to look at her. “So, I'll ask again. Are you alright, Simmons?”
She bit her lip and picked at a loose thread on her comforter. “I'm just stressed is all, really.”
Fitz raised an eyebrow. “You call this stressed?” The kettle whistled. Fitz took it off the stove and poured two cups. “No offense, but you look like a mess, Simmons.” He took out the honey and cream to fix their tea. He carried the drinks over to her bed. “Here,” he held out her cup, “Touch ‘a honey and spoonful of cream, yeah?”
She smiled genuinely, “Yes.”
He sat down next to her. “Now then, we’re gonna study for a bit longer, but when we’re done you're goin’ to sleep. I'll stay here until you do if I have to.”
“Fitz, you don't—.”
“Seems I do. You won't do well if you sleep through your exams. You're smarter than that, I should think.”
She sighed. “Alright, I suppose you have a point.” She rolled her eyes at his grin. “You always have to be right, don't you?”
“Of course.” He grabbed his chemical kinetics book. “Where should we start?”
2. 9 o’clock
Fitz desperately wanted to get to sleep early tonight, but it seemed that wasn't going to happen. His stomach swirled uncomfortably at the thought of what would happen tomorrow. He swung out of his bed and padded through the apartment he shared with Simmons and into the kitchen. He set about making some tea when Simmons walked in, crumpled night gown and all.
“Fitz? What are you doing up?” She rubbed at her eyes. “I thought you wanted to get to bed early.”
“I could say the same to you.” He turned the stove on and set the kettle on it.
“I couldn't sleep. I'm a bit nervous for tomorrow. It'll be our first day in the field.”
“Same.” His hands twitched anxiously just thinking about it. “There's gonna come a day we’ll regret all this.”
“Oh, Fitz,” she frowned.
“I know, I know. I'll shut up now. It's hard not to think about all the bad things that might happen.” Like losing his best friend. He took out the honey and cream.
“But what about the positive things? We’ll see the world and all kinds of interesting things. Maybe you'll get to see some alien tech, Fitz!” She practically vibrated in excitement.
“That's true,” he couldn't help his smile. “It'll be nice as long as that tech doesn't kill us.”
She rolled her eyes at him just as the kettle whistled. He poured two cups and made their tea. He handed Simmons her cup, not even bothering to ask if he'd made it right at this point. Simmons sat down at the table, chair turned to face him, and he leaned against the counter. The normalcy relaxed him. Perhaps he'd be okay as long as he was with Simmons.
“We’ll be alright,” she read his mind as always. “We can solve any problem together.”
“Yeah,” he agreed, “Together.” No matter what, he’d protect the both of them.
3. 10 o’clock
Fitz couldn't sleep and he honestly wasn't sure if he'd ever sleep again. Every time he closed his eyes, all he could see was Jemma, red-faced and tear-stained, being pulled away from him. He'd drift off for maybe a few minutes only to wake up sweating and hyperventilating.
The events of today were exactly what he'd always feared. Losing Jemma would break him. They'd known each other over ten years, been beside each other for over ten years, been best friends for over ten years. He'd almost lost that.
And as much as it made him feel inadequate for not being able to save Jemma, he was forever grateful that Ward got to her in time. She told Fitz that he was the hero, but he certainly didn’t feel like it.
That was what brought him to the Bus’ kitchen. He wanted to make some tea and wallow and remind himself that at least Jemma was safe and sleeping soundly in her bunk.
It was as he thought that when Jemma herself entered the kitchen. Not for the first time, Fitz marveled at their synchronization. Every single time, he mused.
“Oh,” she exclaimed, “I didn’t expect you to be up, Fitz.” She bit her lip and Fitz struggled to look away, facing heating up.
“I think at this point you should,” he chuckled weakly. “Every time I can’t sleep you manage to come into the kitchen while I’m making tea.”
Fitz did as he always did to make their tea. Stove on, kettle set, honey and cream ready on the counter. It was routine after so many years. It was practically tradition.
“I couldn’t sleep,” she whispered. “I just keep thinking…”
“Yeah, me too.”
Jemma came closer and took his hand. Fitz’s heart sped up curiously. She bit her lip again.
“I really am sorry, Fitz.” She squeezed his hand. “If our roles had been reversed, I don’t know what I’d do.”
“The same thing, I’d think. Minus the argument, probably.”
“Do you regret going into the field?”
“I regret not being able to protect you.” There it was. The kettle whistled and Fitz took that chance to avoid her eyes and pulled away from her hand. He’d promised himself that he’d protect her and he already failed, and nearly lost her because of it.
“Oh, Fitz,” she took his hand again, stopping him from pouring their tea. “You don’t have to protect me.”
“Yes, well, obviously I do.” He cringed at his tone, but he couldn’t help it.
They were silent for a few moments. He squeezed her hand, as if to make sure she was still there.
“I was trying to protect you too.”
His head snapped up. “What? You hit me with a bloody fire extinguisher!”
“Because I knew you’d stop me. If I didn’t go you’d have gotten hurt. I couldn’t stand knowing I would hurt you.”
He studied her face, tired and obviously guilty. “We’re both a right mess, aren’t we?”
She smiled softly and his heart sped up again. “I suppose so.”
She let go of his hand and, despite missing the contact, he finished making their tea. He handed a cup to her as he always did. They leaned against the counter together, closer than usual. Their hips pressed together lightly and the hands resting on the counter just barely touched. The contact was comforting, if a little nerve-wracking.
“Promise me you won’t do that again,” he looked at her. “Please.”
She stared at him for a moment. “Okay.” Something in her tone felt off, but he let it go for now. He just wanted to be comforted by her presence.
4. 11 o’clock
For once Fitz hoped he’d be able to make tea on his own. He wasn’t sure he’d ever been this mad at Jemma or himself. It was mostly himself, but he wasn’t exactly happy with Jemma either. He wasn’t about to tell her that, considering how broken she had been over what happened to Skye. Fitz just wanted to brood on his own for once and be glad that grenade had been dendrotoxin instead of an actual, blow-someone-to-smithereens grenade.
Luck was not on his side however, because just as the kettle whistled, Jemma came into the kitchen. He resisted a scowl. It wasn’t the time to be mad, at least not at her.
Her looked her over. Jemma’s face was still red and splotchy from crying. Her hands looked red too and Fitz imagined her scrubbing at them to get their friend’s blood off long after it had actually been washed away.
Silently, he poured another cup and fixed their tea. He gave Jemma her cup, still saying nothing. He leaned against the counter like he usually did and she pressed up against his side, something she’d started doing since the chitauri virus incident. He tried not to, but he leaned into her too. He tried, and failed, to ignore the warmth that spread through him at the contact.
“You’re upset with me,” she mumbled. Fitz cursed how well she knew him.
“No, I’m not,” he tried. “Just myself.”
“You shouldn’t be and I know you are.” She gazed over at him, “I think after over ten years I can tell when you’re upset with me.”
Fitz gathered his thoughts. “You promised you wouldn’t do it again.”
“I know, but I hadn’t really had the time to think about it when you were going to be hit by a grenade.”
“But what if it had been a regular grenade, Jemma? You’d be…” He couldn’t bring himself to say it.
“I know, but I’m not sorry I did it.”
“You probably would’ve been able to stop her. You’re more sensible than I am. I let her go in there alone and I just…” He squeezed his eyes shut, wishing she didn’t always make him want to say everything. “It’s like I can never do anything. I couldn’t protect you and I couldn’t protect Skye and—.”
“Fitz,” she pressed her hand against his cheek and forced him to face her. “It’s not all on you. It’s not your responsibility to protect us from everything.”
“But I have to, Jemma.” He swallowed. “You’re all I’ve got. If I lost you, I—.” He couldn’t finish.
“I can’t lose you either.” The words seemed so loud in the silence.
He wished he could take the frown off her face and the tears away from her eyes, but he couldn’t. So instead, he placed his hand over hers. Everything that needed to be spoken was out there. They didn’t need anything else.
Fitz wished they could stay like this forever.
Fitz had tried his best to avoid the kitchen at night ever since Simmons had returned. Even with them so out of sync, he wanted to avoid being alone with her. Tonight, he couldn’t. He tried. He’d been staring at the ceiling for at least an hour and knew the only way he’d get to sleep was if he had some tea to calm him down.
Everything had gone wrong today. They’d almost been crushed, they’d nearly lost Mack, and Trip… He shook the thought out of his head. He couldn’t think about it. If he did, he’d be admitting it was real and Fitz wasn’t ready for that. He’d hated the man at first out of jealousy, but Trip had stuck by him when Simmons had left and didn’t take sides when she had returned.
All that brought him to the Playground kitchen. He took a deep breath, willing his hands to stop twitching. He’d have to be quick in case Simmons wasn’t far behind.
He entered and there, sitting on the counter was his mug filled with tea. He scanned the room and found the outline of someone slouched in a chair.
There had been very few instances in which Simmons had gotten to the kitchen first. Usually it was Fitz who caved first to the stress of the day. He quietly approached the cup of tea. It was cold. She’d apparently caved a good while ago.
Simmons must’ve been very tired or she would’ve noticed him by now. He hadn’t seen her since they’d been told the news. Don’t think about it. Don’t think about it.
He picked up the cup of tea despite being cold. The scrape of the cup against the counter made a sound that startled Simmons. She practically jumped.
“Fitz?” Her voice cracked and his heart broke. She stood up and took a few steps closer.
“Hey.” He avoided her eyes.
“I’m sorry your tea is cold.” He could tell that wasn’t really what she wanted to say. “It seems I don’t know how to make just one cup of tea anymore.”
In truth, he didn’t either. He still made a cup for both of them, every single bloody time.
“It’s alright. I—I don’t mind,” he cursed his stutter.
She bit her lip, as she so often did. “I respect your decision.”
Fitz frowned. “What?”
“To—to move to the garage with Mack, if that’s what you—what you really want.” She looked away. “I just wanted you to know that.”
Fitz was thankful she didn’t want to talk about Trip, but this wasn’t exactly the conversation he’d want to have either. He hadn’t wanted a conversation at all, but he was too tired to argue and Simmons had still made his tea just right even if it was cold. He wasn’t sure if the normalcy hurt or not, but it made his chest ache and his throat close up.
Fitz realized he hadn’t heard her voice much lately. It shouldn’t surprise him, since he’d been avoiding her so much, but he also hadn’t really let her talk. He didn’t want to have this conversation, but maybe it still needed to happen.
“What, um, what were you going to—going to say?” He mumbled.
“Before I—before I said I was going to, uh, leave the lab.”
She didn’t say anything for awhile and Fitz wondered if he shouldn’t have brought it up at all.
“I don’t want us to be broken, Fitz.” She forced herself to look at him. “You’re the most important person in the world to me. I—I don’t know in what way I love you, but…” She took a shaky breath. “You’ve said before that I’m all you’ve got. You’re all I’ve got too, Fitz.” She paused. “I still need time to process everything—you didn’t exactly let me do that in the medpod—.”
“There wasn’t exactly time in the medpod.” He scowled.
“And I wish you hadn’t waited until you thought you’d die—.”
“I was afraid I’d lose you if I said anything and I was right.”
“You never lost me, Fitz. I just screwed everything up.” She brought her arms to her chest, hands fidgeting. “It’s my fault we’re broken.” The space between them suddenly seemed larger, like they were standing on different continents.
“What in the bloody hell are you talking about?”
“I should’ve stopped you or swam faster and I shouldn’t have lied to you and I and I—.”
“Stop,” he interrupted. “What happened in the medpod was—was my choice. This,” he held up his hands, twitching sporadically, “Isn’t your fault.” He paused. “I never thought you’d ever be able to, uh, to, uh, lie to me. It ended up not being a very good one, though.”
“I know.” They just stood there for a few moments. “I thought you’d be better without me here.”
His brow furrowed. “Are you bloody mad, woman? Why—why would I get—get better?”
“I was right though. You’re so much better now. Well enough to even go out in the field.” She choked out a sob and Fitz found it hard to breathe. “You’re better off without me, but I can’t let go, Fitz.”
It was as if he was on autopilot when he rushed over to hold her. It hurt enough to see her expression when he’d told her he was leaving the lab, but he could never leave her like this. Even if it hurt, he loved her too much. Despite everything, he still loved her and he wasn’t sure that would ever change as much as he wished he could take it all back.
She cried in his arms and he let it happen. Jemma always felt things more than him and everything that has happened must have just become too much and Fitz let a few tears go himself. When she quieted down, he pulled back just enough to face her.
“I’m not better off without you. I—I was, I am a mess. I’m not—I can’t keep up with you anymore. I don’t deserve you, Jemma.” It hurt to say it out loud. “How can we be—be equals if I can’t even, um, string a—string a, uh, sentence together.”
“Fitz, I’m not friends with you for your intelligence. It brought us together, sure, but that’s not why we stayed together.” She seemed to search his face. “It’s because you make stupid jokes and have an unhealthy obsession with monkeys and because you like Doctor Who and you make the best pancakes and burn everything else and because you always know what to do when I’m upset and you know how I always like my tea.” She looked straight at him, “It’s because we’re two of a kind, not because you’re brilliant and yes, you’re still bloody brilliant even if it’s a bit harder to show it. It’s,” she hiccuped, “It’s because you’re my hero, Fitz. Always.”
Fitz’s heart swelled and god her words were beautiful and exactly what he wanted to hear. He wanted to believe her so badly, but he couldn’t. Not while his throat felt so narrow and his guilt felt like it would spill over. Maybe one day, maybe one day soon, but not tonight.
“You’re the hero this time, Jemma.” He brought his hand up and ghosted it over her face. She leaned into it. “It won’t—it might not be permanent.”
“Me at the—at the garage. Maybe I’ll go—go back to the lab, eventually.” He knew it wasn’t exactly what she wanted to hear, but it was all he could really give her. They both needed time and they couldn’t have that if they had to be around each other all day in the lab.
“Okay,” she nodded. “But can we still…”
“Yeah. We can—we can still work on it.”
For the first time in months, Fitz saw Jemma smile and he fell in love all over again. He remembered how it felt to have that smile directed at him, for it to be because of him. For the first time in months, he smiled too. Right now they were broken and they’d both changed, but in that moment Fitz was sure that if nothing else, they’d be okay.
She tucked her head against his chest and he held her a little closer. They stayed like that for so long that the whole pot of tea went cold. Not that it mattered too much to them that it did. It wasn’t the first time and for the first time in a long time they knew it wouldn’t be the last.