The voice is faint, barely a whisper, and it seems to echo in the darkness. The water is painful against her skin, below freezing point, but she can't stop looking.
She has to find him. No matter what.
The ocean is frothing; a frenzied churning of white; a stark contrast to the black of the night. She can't differ between where the horizon and the water merges into one, it just seems to stretch out into eternity.
An immense wave crashes over her, dragging her down into the depths. She struggles frantically through the crushing weight and manages to break the surface again, clawing uselessly to keep afloat this time. She can hear it again, getting stronger and stronger, closer and closer. He's right there, she knows it. She can feel it. So why can't she see him?
Suddenly, there is a flash of lightning, stinging her eyes and blinding her for a second. When her vision returns, she sees a glimpse of a something small fighting to stay above the water.
She tries to swim, to battle against the ocean, but it's impossible. Another wave surges from beyond, rushing towards him with incredible speed.
She won't make it in time.
Jemma sucks air into her lungs as she propels herself up, hand flying to her chest, convinced it should be filled with burning, salty water. It takes a few controlled breaths to still the trembling, and a few more to stop the feeling that her heart will break through her chest at any moment.
She knows he's woken up, but Grant doesn't stir beside her. He's learned. She doesn't want to be touched, to be comforted. Especially not by him.
Jemma snatches up her dressing gown from where it was abandoned hours before and proceeds to lock herself in the bathroom. She has to lean heavily on the basin, hands gripping the edges, to keep herself upright. She's so drained of energy, so tired, and the face staring back in the mirror makes Jemma wince. Even in the poor lighting she can make out the ashen tinge to her completion; her bloodshot, sunken eyes; the bruised purple circles stretching further down than should be allowed. She hasn't had a good nights sleep in weeks. She rifles through the cabinet and dry swallows two aspirin to muffle the pounding behind her skull.
When she emerges back into the bedroom, he's exactly where she left him, but he just can't stay quiet. His ego is too big for that.
“You need to stop blaming yourself.”
The remark doesn't warrant a response, so she ignores him, pulling open drawers searching for pyjamas, suddenly noticing the cold. Obviously unsatisfied, he decides to add to the statement.
“Why do you keep blaming yourself when the man responsible is in your bed?”
“You can sleep own bed next time then. So I don't have this crisis.” She shoots back, grabbing a pair of tracksuit pants, continuing to then rummage for a top. She really just wishes he'd leave or shut up.
“You know it's true.”
God. Why won't he just let it go?
A burning frustration builds up in Jemma's chest. She drops the pants back down and whirls around to face him. She can't help but scowl at his smug quirk of a smile.
“Coulson told me to get out. Not to engage. I convinced Fitz we should stay. I couldn't let Hydra get away. And look what it's cost.”
Much to her chagrin, Grant gets out of bed and walks up beside her. He gently grasps her wrists to stop her hands where they were unconsciously worrying. She glares up at him under heavy eyelids. He doesn't move away.
“I was the one who found you. I could have let you go. Stopped Fitz from–”
“Don't start this Grant.”
He drops her wrists and leans back against the wall, crossing his own arms over his chest. Jemma can't help but be distracted for a second by the way it seems to accentuate the muscles there. She really hopes he doesn't notice.
“You're going to burn out if you keep this up.”
Jemma chews on her bottom lip. She knows he's right, but she doesn't have much else at the moment except her pride. She intends to keep it.
After a beat, he speaks again. “I think I might have a way to help.”
Jemma doesn't respond again, but Grant takes that as a sign to just continue.
“It was so easy for Garrett to play me. I had a terrible family life, I was young, vulnerable; every cliché of every troubled, damaged kid. When I was just dropped in the woods I was so angry. He had gained my trust only to seemingly throw it back in my face. But it was all part of his game. To control me. It was easy to think I belonged to somewhere, someone, that actually wanted me. Maybe even loved me. But I wasn't given a choice about it, I didn't get enough information to think on it. But when I see what Garrett and Whitehall are doing to these powered people. Telling them to join or be made to.” Grant pulls his lips back into a snarl. “ This whole process of brainwashing. Its so ugly. What's the point of fighting for something if the cause isn't what you are actually fighting for? It needs to be believed in. It needs to be fair. Everyone should be given a choice. And you're going to help me make it happen.”
Jemma is dumbfounded. She can't quite wrap her head around how he would have arrived at this conclusion, but the way he spoke doesn't give room for any doubt that he's serious about it. Which confuses her even more.
There is a beat before she speaks. “Even if you aren't just trying to...trick me into feeling sorry for you, or whatever kind of warped guilt trip this is, I think I have enough to do just to survive here. Why would I join you on this?”
“I convinced you to...help, last time. And now I have a few extra ways I can convince you.”
Jemma chuckles at the obvious flirtation and quirks an eyebrow. “Oh yeah?”
Grant straightens up and takes her waist, spinning her suddenly, trapping her tight against his chest. Her breathing picks up almost as quickly, and she's aware its not from fear. He nimbly unties her gown, letting it fall open. His hands travel quickly down her body; pinching at her nipples, pawing at her breasts and scratching at her hips. Without warning he pushes two fingers in, Jemma gasping at the quick intrusion, though she adjusts quickly as he wastes no time starting a fast rhythm; constant, hard pressure on her clit. Jemma throws her head back against his shoulder, Grant using the angle to suck inexcusable marks into her throat.
Standing in the middle of the room, Jemma has nothing else to grip onto but him, hands entwine backwards to claw at his hair. Her whole body is flushed with heat; she can feel the material of her gown clinging to the sweat dripping down her back. At any other time it would have been quite disgusting, but she doesn't have much thought for such things at the moment.
After a much shorter amount of time than Jemma is happy to admit to, he's the only thing keeping her standing. Her knees have all but buckled completely and she's powerless to the wondrous sensations he's eliciting out of her.
She's close, oh, so close, she can feel it building up beautifully to the crest. She is begging audibly for release, and the second before she finds it, he abruptly stops all movement. Jemma mewls hopelessly as his plants a small kiss behind her ear, revelling in his game.
“Ready to help me yet?”
It's times like this she remembers how intimidating he can be. He's practically a whole head taller than her; staring down at her like a hungry wolf. She kisses him to break the thought, Grant happily obliging. It's sweet and slow, but Jemma's body is humming for more and refuses to be made to wait. Grant's standing against the edge of the bed; the backs of his legs sinking into the mattress. Jemma doesn't even let the idea fully form, just a fleeting skim over her brain, but she can't ignore the very real and sudden need to have control.
Grant resists very little as she pushes him backwards so he's sitting down on the bed.. In a few lightening fast seconds Jemma has stripped all of her clothes, watching Grant's pupils dilate considerably as she does so. He fortunately gets the hint, and makes quick work of discarding his clothes as well. He reaches for her arm to drag her down to him, but she bats it away, instead straddling him with purposeful intent, slowly and deliberately. There's a slight sting as Grant bites into her shoulder when she lowers herself down; sighing at the welcoming fullness, him undoubtedly relishing in the slick tightness that now grips him.
Grant goes to rock against her when Jemma doesn't make any motion to move, but she plants all her weight in her legs, keeping herself as still as possible. Grant looks quite amused. “What exactly is it that you hope to achieve?”
Jemma grins wickedly. “When you start begging for me to move, I move. It's very easy to understand.”
Grant chuckles against her as he goes to move his hands to her hips, intending to start the rhythm himself, but Jemma seizes them as they settle.
He could easily overpower her if he really wanted to. But he grudgingly obeys, eyeing her, realising how serious she is about this, willing to let this play out for a little longer. Jemma is determined to be taken seriously, and intends to prove just as much. She teasingly squeezes her walls against him, enjoying the groan that escapes, and then repeats the question.
“Beg me for it.”
“Fuck.” Is all he manages to choke out.
She captures him in a kiss as she ever-so-slightly rolls her hips, feeling him twitch frantically inside of her.
“And you tell me I'm the evil one.”
Jemma smirks, running her hands up his chest to wrap around his neck. She leans forward and whispers against his ear.
“Don't ruin the moment.”
The pen she is dangling from her fingers bounces and rolls from the desk as she is snapped out of her thoughts. Her assistant, Turgeon, a short, nervous man, is peeking in awkwardly around the half ajar door.
“I'm sorry to intrude. I did knock.” He repeats the action half heartedly, as if to trigger her memory of it.
“That's quite alright. Just, uh, a bit spaced out from all this paperwork.” She offers him a forced, bright smile. “What is it you needed?”
“There's someone in holding that Bakshi needs an analysis of. He'd like it done as soon as possible.”
“Tell him I'll come down now. I just have to gather my equipment.”
Turgeon nods and steps out of sight. Jemma takes a deep breath to steady herself before pushing her chair backwards and stretching out her back and legs.
Her mixed feelings for Grant are confusing at best and downright exhausting to muddle through. What was originally just an impulsive, and rather ill-thought out, coping method has now become something she's embarrassed to admit she's actually enjoying. A lot. And not just the sex, (which in itself is exceptionally wonderful), but his company also. Any physical work she can do is a more than welcome distraction from her current predicament.
She's also found it best to not think about the proposition he put forward to her a few weeks ago. And thankfully he's being quite the gentleman about it. She doesn't need to make more trouble for herself and wind up dead. Or worse.
As she arrives at the holding cell, Turgeon hands her a clipboard with the details, along with her equipment, before walking away. She reaches towards the door handle and briefly glances down at the piece of paper. Her whole body turns cold when she reads the name printed boldly along the top.
She finds she's actually grateful for her current surroundings, as she's unable to display any kind of dismayed reaction. She has no choice but to bury the mounting anger she's experiencing and open the door to step into the room.
Donnie wasn't a very noticeable kid when they had first encountered him. Not unattractive per say, just didn't particularity stand out in terms of looks. But whatever trace of engaging quality he may have possessed has now completely disappeared. His expression is so devoid of any human emotion, blankly staring at the wall. Thin lips set into a small line. Pupils that appear darker than what should be possible. Skin so pale it's porcelain in the harsh overhead light. He's sitting against the chair so still, so serene, Jemma blinks a few times to make sure he's not actually just a statue.
Neither of them say a word as she sets down her things. They still don't speak as she fusses around, doing every test on her list, afraid of even breathing too loud will break the silence; afraid that doing that will break this boy even more. Though once she's finished with her tests, she knows procedure dictates that she must just pack up and leave, never to bother with him again. She is under strict instructions not to interact with him in any other way than ordered, but she can't bear to just leave.
She has to say something.
“Donnie...I....uh...” She trails off almost immediately, kicking herself mentally. She has gone blank, any form of words eluding her.
“I wanted to stop the machine.”
His voice surprises her, it's so cold, so clinical, though his brainwashing is unable to hide all of his desperation; Jemma can see it reaching for her through mournful eyes. She wants to just wrap him into a hug, regardless of how bizarre the urge seems. Donnie moves his stare to the table, tracing along the edge with his finger.
“Shield...they locked me away. They didn't want to listen. They didn't want to help when I was scared and alone and being subjected to...” He can't finish the sentence, but Jemma has heard enough from mindless lab gossip to know that the brainwashing Hydra was conducting down in the Sandbox wasn't pleasant.
“Shield didn't know that Hydra was there, within the ranks, within that place. I'm sure if they had known they would have–”
“All of us, in that place, we were punished for being different. For being unknown. We had no chance for redemption. We were just seen as dangerous. Shield didn't care.”
Jemma knows that the majority of those people, and things, deserved to be there, and definitely deserved no second chance. But she can't ignore the sliver of doubt creeping into her mind that maybe some things did fall through the cracks of the system.
“It's of no consequence now anyway. I'm loyal to Hydra now, aren't I?”
They are interrupted when the door slides open with a small swoosh and Bakshi briskly enters into the room. He gives Jemma a warning look as he takes a seat opposite Donnie, his lips creeping into a cold smile. Jemma swallows the lump in her throat and hastily moves away, not needing to be told. She's there to look at Donnie's physical health and to determine the status of his ability. Nothing more. Too much has already been said.
As she's packing her things away she can hear Bakshi addressing Donnie. He's speaking so nonchalantly, so calmly, it makes Jemma feel sick to her stomach.
“Take a deep breath. And clear your mind. Surrender and you will find meaning. Surrender and you will find release.”
Jemma stalks out of the room quicker than she probably ought to. Turgeon is waiting in the lab and he wordlessly takes the samples from her. She can feel his gaze questioning her solemn demeanour, but he's smart enough not to comment.
Another lab assistant presents her a clipboard, starting to ask about some tests from yesterday, but Jemma just ignores him as she shrugs off her white coat and pushes the door open, stepping out into the hallway. She doesn't have the patience to deal with anyone right now.
Shield was supposed to help Donnie. A kid who wanted nothing more than to make something extraordinary. To be seen. He may have gotten a little lost, but Shield's best solution was locking him away. No one could have known Hydra was hiding out, recruiting in the shadows.
But Shield made a mistake.
Now they have to pay the consequences.