The first time I met Leopold Fitz, he was four.
And he was about to walk into traffic.
The farmer’s market was congested; humans wedged between the wooden rows of homemade goods and the small and busy highway. No doubt the morning air was brisk, because as I walked through the parade of humans they shivered, drawing their coats closer around their bodies and walking a little faster.
But then again, there’s always a chill in the air when I’m near.
I blustered my way through the packed stalls, searching for the child I was supposed to meet, the search for my human as familiar to me as the details of this living world.
I have been meeting humans for as long as they have lived, and I will continue to meet them as long as they exist. I am constant. I do not misjudge. I meet humans when we are meant to. But meeting a child?
They might be intended to meet me, but I am always most reluctant to meet them.
Humans are fragile, weak, and children are even more so.
But I am what I am, and so when I must meet children I always make sure to welcome them with an encouraging smile and trusting eyes.
The child was holding an older human’s hand while she bargained with a human male behind a stand selling plump, rosy strawberries. He was fidgeting, rolling on the balls of his feet as he glanced around, curious, just as all small children are. He suddenly stopped, turned his head and stared straight at me.
Do not worry.
I cannot be seen, unless I wish it so.
I looked behind me, searching for what could’ve caught this young human’s attention- something that no doubt would result in our meeting.
Across the highway, with cars zipping past as they headed towards their destinations, a mechanic garage was droning with men setting up shop for the day.
The human female, who I sensed was the child’s mother, was in such deep conversation that she did not realize her son had let go of her hand. He blindly moved towards the garage, unaware of his surroundings as he wove through the crowd- who never questioned, nor stopped, a little child who was heading to a busy street.
Humans are so very ignorant sometimes, and it always makes me busy.
I found myself suddenly in the middle of the street, the cars still passing by on both sides as I waited patiently for him to reach me.
He put his right foot on the gravel, and then the left, coming for me as he was destined to.
I knelt down, like I always do when I meet the younger children, and extended my hands toward the child, ready to catch him.
But then I felt it.
It was a peculiar tug, drumming deep within my consciousness that was unlike the tug that I feel when I have found my human. It was something else, and I somehow knew it was signaling an oddity: an exception.
I will attempt to explain.
Whenever I meet a human, they are destined to meet me. Some humans claim a time where they almost die, that for some unknown reason they are able to survive.
This is not true.
I never make mistakes. I arrive for my human precisely when it is fated. I had never once, in all my millennia of being, met a human who could warp destiny and defy me.
Until that moment.
There I was, gazing at this little blue-eyed child, meant to meet me that day but would somehow avoid it.
Sooner or later, every human meets me.
I stood, waiting for the child to prevent his own demise as I vowed that the next time I met this particular human, he will not be able to escape me.
“LEO!!!!” a female human voice screamed, and the child froze, unbeknownst to the car currently speeding toward him.
I watched as the child was snatched back, his arms flailing out in front of him. His blue eyes grew wide with fear, and although I have seen millions and millions of pairs of eyes, his startling cerulean irises struck me in a way I could not have foreseen.
He and his mother lay on the curb as the car sped past the place he was just mere seconds ago.
“Leopold Fitz don’t you dare do that again!!”
His mother scolded him, her voice shaking before she pulled him into a bone crushing hug. Confused, the child began to cry. She released him from her embrace, knelt down and grasped his arms, her eyes wild with horror at what could’ve been.
“You could’ve died!”
The first time I met Jemma Simmons, she was twenty-five.
And she was about to jump out of a plane.
I stood to the side of the aircraft, and I watched the human female lower the cargo hold ramp with a shaking hand.
The alarms started to blare, the sound cacophonous and grating as it echoed throughout the airliner. She wiped her tear-stricken cheek with her free hand, and I wondered what was going to cause our meeting. She was going to jump out of the plane, yes, but I sensed there was something else that would instigate it.
I then detected a sickness, a virus; though not one of this planet. It was killing her, and I understood that we would greet one another very soon. How had she contracted it? How had this alien virus had managed to affect a human?
But I brushed my thoughts aside: after all, the origin of the virus did not matter. We would meet all the same.
The cargo door was fully open now, and the human stood in front of it, her hair whipping all around her as she cried silent tears at her impending demise.
She paused, and although she could not possibly hear over the whistling wind, I could. And there were screams coming from behind a locked, clear door.
“JEMMA IT WORKED!”
I turned around, and so did she, looking back at this human male one last time.
“WHAT ARE YOU DOING NO JEMMA!”
He was helplessly pulling at the door, his face contorted into an ugly mess of tears and snot, hysterically sobbing for her. I watched the human's tormented face as she looked at him, full with such regret, for what would be the last time.
I looked towards the human male again, his shockingly bold blue eyes rimmed-red as he continued to scream his throat raw and beg her to stay.
I could never forget those eyes.
I had no time to dwell on the perplexity of seeing this particular human again, especially before our own meeting, because suddenly the human female flew backwards into the air and I leapt to follow her.
I faintly heard the blue-eyed human scream the human female’s name once more as I fell besides her, her involuntarily screams becoming lost to the wind whipping around us as we spiraled down through the sky.
I still wish I could’ve told her there was no reason to be afraid- I am not something to be feared when humans live in a world where there are so much more terrifying things than me.
All I could do, however, was reach out; ready to catch her when the virus ran its course.
But then I felt it, that feeling deep within my being that I had felt with that human male only a short while ago.
Not only was there one human who could change his end, but there were two- and they knew each other.
How could this be? What power did these particular humans have that even fate had to bend to their will?
Even now, long after that human walked into traffic and this human fell from the sky, I do not understand-
I can only guess.
I was falling with her when a different human male propelled down, catching her and holding her close to him. He took out a piece of human technology I did not recognize, and held it to her thigh. It emitted a shock, and she grimaced in pain before he released his parachute.
A pulse erupted from the human as they floated down into the ocean, and although I felt the calling for another meeting, I found myself unable to leave. A single thought rumbled in my mind: when I am next called to meet this human, and that other human; would we actually meet?
I can be patient, when need be.
I had just taken the hand of a human when I saw Leopold Fitz and Jemma Simmons again.
The sterile air settled around me as I walked down the hospital corridor, my human holding my hand. She was silent, a trait I do admire in those I meet, and was examining her right hand in amazement. Her translucent fingers were merging with the harsh florescent light from the ceiling as we passed by an open door.
I was compelled to stop, and turned my head to gaze into the room.
There they were, both sitting at the foot of a hospital bed where a human female was lying unnaturally still. She was connected to a breathing machine, her eyes closed and blood still coated her dark hair.
The human who had missed me when he was four and the human who missed me when she was twenty-five were hunched over this comatose human, gripping each other’s hands as they silently prayed for her not to die.
Humans tend to pray around me.
But I wasn’t at that hospital to meet this human. I was only there to meet the human already at my side, who had by then started tapping her foot with impatience at our prolonged stop. But this other human, lying on the bed- I sensed then that she had quite a destiny ahead of her. Our meeting would not happen for a very, very long time.
I was right. I did not meet this human until her ebony hair had turned white, and she was lying in a different hospital bed- surrounded by her children and great-grandchildren before welcoming me with open arms and a smirk.
While I watched the two humans hope their loved one would wake up, which I sense would be a while longer, the human male spoke softly to the human female.
“She’s going to be alright, Simmons.” He reassured her although his smile wavered as he rubbed his thumb in circles on the back of her hand.
Normally, I did not get attached to humans.
We meet, and I move on.
I did not allow myself to connect with lives that are so brief, so fragile.
But these two were not ordinary, and I found myself fascinated by them.
In that moment I was waiting for her to reply, somehow sensing that she would answer with a comment about how being shot multiple times did not equal to ‘alright’. But I never heard her response, because I had suddenly felt a tug on my hand that brought me back to what I was and what I do. I forced myself to look away from them, seeing into my human’s questioning eyes as she tilted her head in puzzlement.
“Who are they?”
Leopold Fitz and Jemma Simmons.
My patience was wearing thin and oh, how I couldn’t wait for them to meet me.
The first time I met both Leopold Fitz and Jemma Simmons, they were at the bottom of the ocean. How they got there, I still do not exactly understand- but I was there to meet them all the same.
She was lying unconscious, head rested on his leg as he combed through the various items scattered on the floor. I could see his blue eyes, both darkened by the dim light that illuminated the box and by the growing realization that besides fiddling with a monitor there was nothing else he could do. I sat down across from them, and I observed as she woke up, took in her surroundings and talked to him. She thought they were lucky, and that they would find a way out; he kept trying to explain to her their dire situation when she snapped.
“Enough about the math. What are you saying?”
Her face was bloody from the fall, and her exasperated voice rang in the dark as she spoke. She was sitting near the window, looking at him with such dread of what he was thinking and what he would say.
Though it was more of what he didn’t say: his face revealed that he knew I was there, that I was waiting, and that this time they both could not possibly avoid me.
I apologize; I do not wish to cause pain, suffering, nor fright. I do not wish any of those things. It is not my fault I must take humans from their loved ones, and their loved ones from them. I just am what I am.
She understood his unspoken answer.
“There is no way out. We’re going to die down here.”
I had thought so as well.
I sat with them as the oxygen in the room slowly dropped, and I admittedly was very curious to learn more about them before we finally met.
To my delight, they were as curious to know about me as well.
“What do you think it’s like?” she leaned against the window, gazing at him as he sat against the side of the pod, his arm in a sling.
“Death?” he asked, pondering for a minute before replying. “Well, depends on the method, really. Drowning's supposed to be quite pleasant in the end, apparently. Once the water fills up your lungs-”
“I mean after,” she interrupted.
“Ah, yeah. Well, my mum always said that you shouldn't be afraid, because it's just like the way life was before you were born. Which wasn't that bad, was it?”
I cannot validate, nor correct, any assumption about what happens once I let my humans into the Light.
I have never followed them.
“That's sweet,” she mentioned. “Though, apparently, I was miserable before I was born upside down…”
She talked and he replied, my thoughts zoning out as I felt the metaphorical clock tick, our meeting approaching close.
I was suddenly pulled back to their conversation as she began to theorize what would meeting me would be like.
“I like to think about the first law of thermodynamics, that no energy in the universe is created and-”
“None is destroyed.” They both spoke it at the same time, smiling at one another.
She followed through her explanation, talking about particles and mammoths and monkeys, and I became enthralled with this human who pondered her impending demise and this other human who looked at her with such adoration and affection.
I am constant. I am precise.
And I do not lie.
Sitting with them at the bottom of the ocean, I became dismayed to know that they would meet me soon. That I would have to take them away, that I would be the end of their alive existence. I felt that if destiny hadn’t predetermined our meeting, then they would have had a good, short and fragile life together.
Then, I felt the stirring within myself that signaled that they would best me again- this time, together.
And I was surprised to fathom that I was only somewhat disappointed.
“The glass… Fitz, the glass!”
“Yeah, it's bulletproof, pressure-resistant.”
“But the seal is 4-hydroxy-4-methyl-2-pentanone, I'm sure!”
“Yeah, I know what you're thinking, but the flash point is too high for it to burn.”
“But medical ethanol has a low flash point, and it burns...”
“Hotter. We could use the defibrillator as an ignition source...”
“And build a compressed explosive...”
“To ignite the seal, the outside pressure will...”
“Blow the window in!” they exclaimed together, jumping up and down with joy.
I did not stay to watch them escape the pod, because I was needed elsewhere, and there was no point in staying when they had already beaten me once more.
I did not know the price they would both have to pay for it.
I had come to meet a human when I saw another one pull a gun on Jemma Simmons.
And even though I knew deep within me that I wasn’t there to meet her, I found myself worried all the same.
I was surprised and confused about what was happening to me.
I gathered up the ashes of my human from the ground as I watched her, pressed against the wall, breathing heavily with as the male human crept closer. He looked perplexed, expressing his shock on how they were on the same team.
I realize now that this human was the same one who had saved her all those years ago, while we all fell through the sky. I might be omnipresent, but I am not omniscient: a fact that will always bother me. There are some things I know, and there are things that I do not.
I still do not understand what happened to cause this animosity between them, but I can only imagine.
“What were you thinking?” The human demanded, his finger on the trigger.
Jemma Simmons removed her hand from the gun at her waist, realizing that she didn’t have a chance against him. Her voice shook when she spoke.
“That I made you a promise.”
He looked at her in disbelief.
“What? That you would kill me?” he walked closer to her, never lowering his gun.
“I thought we moved past that.”
She set her jaw and pulled herself straighter, looking at him with defiance in her brown eyes.
“Get it over with, you monster.”
She and I both waited for the man to make his choice, although he looked like he contemplating and I had no doubt that he had no opposition to actually shooting her, or any other human.
I do not understand why humans blame me when we meet. I might come to take them, but I do not cause nor wish it.
Most of the time, it’s other humans’ faults.
He made it like he would pull the trigger, and Jemma Simmons froze as she braced herself to die.
He paused, just as I knew he would.
“You really have changed, Simmons. I’m disappointed in you.”
He left and she took a trembling breath as she tried to calm herself down, obviously shaken from the experience.
I have mentioned that there are much worse things to fear than me.
The third time I met Jemma Simmons, she was on another world- one which I have always despised visiting.
She was crawling on the sand, heading towards a mountain ridge as she encouraged herself on, her parched voice croaking with every word.
“Must… get… to the top.”
The wind blew against her, but she pressed on, and I admired her determination.
As I crawled with her, pulling ourselves up to the mountaintop, I had begun to hope that Jemma Simmons might live for another day, and that there on the other side of the ridge a body of water would appear.
Yes, and no.
We reached the top and both surveyed the land in front of us- recognizing a huge wall of sand approaching as the wind picked up. The gale whistled as the storm loomed closer, and even I was briefly daunted by it.
Her breathing became frantic as she pushed herself to the ground, preparing to face the gigantic storm. I stretched out my hand, ready to hold hers when she reached out for me.
As she laid there, the storm wailing and sand submerging her, I had felt the presence of the other being that lived on this planet. There is a reason I do not like coming here.
It wasn’t human, but it was also human.
And while I am neither good nor evil, Hive radiated darkness and misery, soiling everything around it. I didn’t know how I didn’t feel its existence approach us sooner, and I tried to forget it as it moved closer and closer. I still held out my hand, but I also prayed that Jemma Simmons would again find a way to beat me, because I did not want our meeting to be the doing of this entity.
I stayed with her until the sandstorm had settled, and she had started to weakly move. My hand still extended towards her, and I watched as she moved to grab it.
I felt the tug, and we both sighed in relief- although for different reasons.
“Fitz.” She whispered, eyes locked to a pool of water a short distance ahead. She started scrambling for it, trudging through the rocks and gravel, and ignoring my hand. I pulled it back, quickly, feeling relieved.
I couldn’t wait to depart that horrendous planet. As I did, I was consoled that she would live another day, and I hoped that I would not find myself there again soon.
I did not want to meet Jemma Simmons at the hands of this monster.
I returned to that planet not long after, and when I realized where I was, I was disheartened. I did not think I would return for Jemma Simmons so soon.
The thunder grew louder with every second as I searched for her, the only living human on this planet that would soon not be.
But there was another. There was a human male, one whom I did not recognize, that was with her on this world. I am constant. I am precise. I am inevitable. And I do not forget.
I will always remember how shamelessly happy I was to sense I would be meeting him instead.
When I found the human male and stood beside him, we could barely pick out the Jemma Simmons’ frame against the blistering storm. But the figure that loomed before her was somehow clear, as though by polluting the space with darkness and despair It became more corporeal.
The male called out for her once, his voice frantic and strained with worry but she tried to reason with him and made no move to leave It.
“Jemma, don’t trust It! It’ll do anything to fool you! ” He exclaimed again, desperately fighting the wind to reach her.
This time his words seemed to reach her, and realization dawned upon her as she yelled.
There have been many names spoken in many tongues in many places in many years. Yet, I have never been able to pick the one I like best, one that I think describes me in all my being.
I have concluded that humans can call me whatever they like- because it doesn’t matter what they think I am.
I just am.
“It’s here. IT’S HERE! WILL!” Jemma Simmons screamed just as we reached her. The human took her by the shoulders and commanded her to leave as I began counting down to our meeting.
“Jemma, Jemma, Jemma, look at me, look at me, look at me.”
He leaned into her face, uttering a sentence that would’ve sealed his fate if it hadn’t already been decided.
“Run, Run. Go!”
She struggled to argue with him, but he pushed her away, trying to get her out of harm’s way.
“Yes, you can make it. Go!” He urged and shoved her one last time as she stumbled forward, screaming his name and venturing further away from us. He turned and faced It, drawing in a deep breath and pulling out a gun that we both knew would do nothing to change his fate. Hive drew in closer, and I reached out for his hand.
He fired with the only bullet he had.
And when the creature engulfed this brave, selfless human, he finally accepted my offer.
I should clarify something.
When I meet a human, we do not just evaporate into the air, or fade into the shadows- when there is a destination, one must travel to reach it.
We had started to leave when we heard two voices desperately calling for each other. I stopped, and the human besides me stopped too. We both stood as we listened to Jemma Simmons’ name being cried in a voice I had not heard since I was at the bottom of the ocean.
“JEMMMA!” Leopold Fitz called distantly, the violent storm almost drowning him out.
“FITZ!” came the reply, her voice just as muffled and faraway.
The human turned his head to look at me, his eyes wide with desperation and features creased with worry.
“Is that Fitz? Will Jemma make it back? Please tell me she makes it home!”
Of course they do.
I never had any doubt.
I was forced to return to the planet for a third time. But instead of seeing Jemma Simmons, I saw Leopold Fitz.
He was on the ground, struggling to pick himself up while uttering small gasps of pain. I begrudgingly moved over to him, watching as Hive, now wearing a human’s body like a coat, left Leopold Fitz on the ground and gathered an enormous rock in it’s hands.
There are only so many times I can reiterate how much I despised that creature.
And there are only so many times I can say how much I wished Leopold Fitz and Jemma Simmons would live to see another day.
I had been so focused on Leopold Fitz and my devastation that we would meet that it wasn’t until Hive was poised above him and he lifted his arms in defense that I realized that I didn’t feel the connection that tethers me to the human I am compelled to meet. Leopold Fitz was not destined to die that day.
There was another human that was.
Suddenly two shots rang out and Hive fell, two bullets puncturing the decaying form. I shifted my gaze from It and Leopold Fitz to a ridgeline, where I could make out two human males beginning to struggle with one another.
I was there to meet one of them, and so I left Leopold Fitz, who was beginning to scoot away from the fallen creature as I headed up to the fight.
I had waited patiently as they fought, dividing my gaze between their pounding fists to below us, where Leopold Fitz had taken a gun and shot Hive multiple times. It was still limping, trudging away in an attempt to reach the portal.
I knew that no matter what Leopold Fitz would do, the horrible creature would reach Earth, whether in the form it possessed now or another. Hive would pollute the world with darkness and despair and death that made me shudder with trepidation- I would soon meet many humans, and there was nothing I could do to prevent the destruction.
I cursed the universe for creating such an evil thing.
But then I remembered what I am, and what I do, and while I cannot give life- I can take it away.
Hive would not be able to defy me.
I turned my attention away from Leopold Fitz and the creature to one of the humans who was on the ground, gasping for breath as the other huffed above him consumed with anger. The same time I recognized that human male on the ground was the same one who had both saved and threatened to kill Jemma Simmons, I recognized that he was the human I had come for.
I lowered myself to the ground next to him, glancing up at the other human male framed against the cobalt sky.
“Coulson! Leave him! He’s finished. We have to go! We have to go now!” Leopold Fitz’s voice pierced the silence as my human locked eyes with the other human that was doomed to slay him. I reached over and offered my hand, resting on the cool dirt.
After pausing for a brief moment, the human bent down and began to crush my human’s chest with a dark, strange hand.. He slowly applied more pressure, and my human started to gasp for breath as his torso constricted under the weight. With a final push and the clench of teeth, my human’s sternum cracked— and he reached out to me.
I did not see how Leopold Fitz and the other human returned to Earth, nor how the creature wearing a new human body escaped. I was too preoccupied ignoring my human, who had a look of fear in his eyes when he realized what I mean and struggled to pull his hand from my grasp.
“No! Please! I know I did a lot of terrible things- but it didn’t mean that I wanted to! I killed Hand, but that was to help Garrett and and dropping FitzSimmons in the ocean? That was to give them a fighting chance… Please I don’t want to go to He-”
Human excuses mean nothing to me.
Humans are destined to meet me, yes. And this is unavoidable. But they are free to determine their own paths, and to control their own puny, little lives.
So I ignored his pleas and held on to his hand as we went on, my incapability to speak causing him to further his begging.
If there is such a place as the humans deem ‘Hell’, I would not be surprised to understand that is where he went.
The second time I met both Leopold Fitz and Jemma Simmons, they were holding hands and backed up against a steel gray wall.
They were facing Hive.
I could only silently curse the cosmos as I summoned all my will to finally move towards the pair. Their fear was etched so deeply in their faces, and I felt ashamed as I realized that they probably feared me as much as they feared the creature.
I am always the villain in every human’s story.
Leopold Fitz and Jemma Simmons just stood there; grasping each other’s hands while Hive smirked maliciously, slowly beginning to approach them. I wanted to scream, to shout at them to run and beat me like they had before- but these two humans seemed to be frozen, unable to move, and unable to escape, no doubt an effect of one of the monster’s abilities. I assume they were holding hands before it immobilized them, because they could not even blink as Hive slithered toward them.
I reached their frozen bodies the same time the creature did, crossing its arms and tilting its head and smiling.
I stood by Leopold Fitz and Jemma Simmons, waiting until the last possible moment to offer my hand to them, hoping that in the meantime I would feel that particular pull deep within my being.
I am constant. I am precise. I am inevitable. I am infinite.
And I cannot change what I am.
Hive began to taunt Jemma Simmons with a nauseating voice that spoke low and leisurely as it bent its stolen body to reach her height.
“Jemma Simmons. It’s such a pleasure to meet you again. We do have such fond memories of you.”
It paused, eyebrows knotted and seemingly deliberating the previous sentence.
“Well, fond for Will Daniels at the least. Grant Ward? Not so much.”
Hive shrugged, laughing as it gazed from Jemma Simmons’ immobilized face to Leopold Fitz’s, shaking its head and gloating as it resumed its full posture and started to pace around the room.
“Oh, don’t worry. It should be wearing off soon. Not that it makes any difference of course- you’ll be dead soon after. That wasn’t very clever now was it? Coming after us all alone while your team diverts Malick and our army? We thought you two would be smarter than that.”
They were smarter than that.
There was something that both Hive and I were not detecting-
There must have been a plan.
There had to be a plan.
Because I felt time ticking down as our meeting approached and I felt nothing and I did not want to take them yet.
Hive stopped its pacing, resuming his sickening stare upon them as I noticed out of the corner of my eye that Jemma Simmons’ hand had begun to twitch.
It was so soft at first, just a minuscule of movement that I thought I must’ve imagined it, but then Leopold Fitz blinked slowly.
“Ah, it’s wearing off. Good.”
Hive leaned in once more into Jemma Simmons’ face, its malevolent smile encompassing its stolen face.
“In fact, we think we want to kill him first- so the last thing you’ll ever hear are his screams, and know that you could do nothing to save him.”
I reached out my hand, and with not a moment to lose I suddenly felt the pull in my stomach- the singular tug that I had been counting on.
I would not be meeting Leopold Fitz and Jemma Simmons that day, so I gladly withdrew my hand.
And although neither creature nor human could possibly see me, believe me when I say I smiled.
Jemma Simmons released her hand’s grip with Leopold Fitz, revealing a small syringe that was hidden by their intertwining fingers and with the striking precision she jabbed it into Hive’s neck. It’s face morphed into shock and it stumbled back, wrenching the syringe out of its oozing skin. Hive glanced down at it, confused before it started to convulse and fell onto its knees.
“What… what did you do to us?” Hive gasped as it shuddered and groaned.
Jemma Simmons and Leopold Fitz walked toward the defeated monster, Leopold Fitz reaching into his back pocket to pull out a small flare gun.
They spoke in unison, their voices barely distinguishable from one another.
He pulled the trigger and Hive erupted into flames, screaming in agony and defeat.
I did not offer it my hand, because there was nothing to offer. When Leopold Fitz and Jemma Simmons killed that detested thing, it simply evaporated from existence. I am still so very disappointed I wasn’t able to meet Hive formally, because I would’ve loved to bask silently as it bemoaned its defeat at the hands of these two humans. I would’ve loved to watch it struggle to escape my unrelenting grasp.
And I would’ve loved to toss it into the Light like the piece of garbage it was.
I had just taken the hand of an elderly human when I saw Leopold Fitz and Jemma Simmons again, some time after they had defeated Hive.
I almost overlooked them.
My human and I were walking through the city park, her steps jovial and playful and unhindered by age. She paid no attention to my silence, excessively chattering away since the moment she realized her teeth were her own and not fake. I let her ramble, as I hurried us along.
I heard a laugh from a familiar voice, and I immediately stopped in my tracks to look around.
Across the throng of humans moving about their day, I observed as a human couple sat on a bench with two children sandwiched between them, all eating ice cream. I pulled my human as I moved forward, wondering if they might be I thought they were.
Leopold Fitz and Jemma Simmons.
They were much older than I last saw them, with the beginnings of crow’s feet at the corner of their eyes and wisps of gray painted throughout their hair- but there was no mistaking who they were.
She leaned over with a napkin to wipe the ice cream off one child’s face, rolling her eyes at him as he continued to laugh at his child- who was smiling and laughing alongside her father and brother.
She shook her head and with the final remnants of the cream of her daughter’s face wiped off she proceeded to cluck her tongue at him.
“Ugh, Fitz! I cannot believe that you smashed Rosie’s ice cream into her face! Honestly!”
The child giggled again as his cobalt eyes widened with fake horror.
“What? Jemma did you not see the part when Rosie smashed my ice cream into my face?”
I realized that Leopold Fitz did have ice cream all over his face, his smile breaking through the vanilla that coated his skin. His children giggled once more as Jemma Simmons rolled her eyes and with a huge smile threw a napkin at him.
“Clean your face, Dr. Fitz-Simmons.”
“Yes, Dr. Fitz-Simmons.”
I have seen and meet Leopold Fitz and Jemma Simmons more than I have any other human in my entire existence.
But this is the first time I have seen them happy. I watch them sitting at the park eating ice cream with their children, and I cannot see the small child walking into traffic, or the human falling through the sky. I cannot see the friends lost at the bottom of the ocean or the partners holding hands facing a monster- I only see two humans, laughing when they kiss one another chastely as their daughter and son squeal and cover their eyes.
I feel content.
They get up to leave, Leopold Fitz taking the empty cups and throwing them into the trash when my human tries to pull me along, huffing about my pause. I knew she wanted to continue, to go to Light: but I couldn’t bring myself to leave until they left. I watched as the family walked away, Jemma Simmons holding her son’s hand as Leopold Fitz lifted his daughter onto his shoulders, earning a burst of giggles from the child.
I waited until I could not even see a hint of them through the crowds to finally heed my human’s insistent grumbling, resuming our journey.
After that sighting of Leopold Fitz and Jemma Simmons, I pondered when would I go to meet a human only to find one of them there, waiting for me and reaching for my hand.
I wondered if I would be able to grasp it.
The third time I met both Leopold Fitz and Jemma Simmons, they were sleeping.
And I knew deep within my conscious that that this time would be the last time.
They looked so elderly, so feeble and frail that for a second I couldn’t believe that I had once seen them kill a being that was as ancient as me. They slept peacefully, facing each other with their hands clasped in the center of the bed and I couldn’t help but think about how fragile and weak all humans were.
But humans can love-
And this must make their mortality worth it.
I moved toward the side of the bed, feeling that familiar sense that occurs when I meet my human. I could tell that I was there to take them both, but I couldn’t tell who would meet me first. Despite the sadness that welled within me, I felt comforted in the thought that they wouldn’t have to take my hand separately, and that I wouldn’t have to come back for the other. I stood there, patient as ever, waiting as I felt the time slip by. When I sensed that it would be soon, I bent slightly over them, reaching out my hand to whoever was fated to meet me first.
It was Leopold Fitz.
With his eyes still closed in deep sleep he extended the wizened hand that wasn’t holding Jemma Simmons’, and softly took my hand.
And just like that he was mine. There was no sudden pull that he would change fate, there was no watching him rewrite his destiny- there was only the blinking of tired, gaunt eyes and deep sighing as Leopold Fitz finally met me.
He tilted his head, curious as he processed me, and what I mean.
His voice was shaky, weighted down by his years but still somehow ringing his distinguishable tone.
“You’re different than what I thought you would be.”
I could only nod my head to acknowledge his thought, and I watched as he turned his head to look at Jemma Simmons still sleeping besides him.
He began to cry.
I suspect if I could I would’ve as well.
“Jemma please no forgive me I don’t want to be without you I’m sorry Jemma I’m so sorry.” His tears fell harder as he croaked, imploring her to stay strong now that he couldn’t be with her. I placed my other hand gently as I could on his shoulder, willing him to understand that there would be no need for tears or apologizes because it was at last time for Jemma Simmons to meet me.
She took my hand, and opened her eyes with a start.
She looked at me, her brown eyes that were still bright with intelligence in death as they were in life before speaking to me.
“I wondered when you might come for me.”
She didn’t wait for a reply that wouldn’t have come to turn and glance at Leopold Fitz, who was sniffling and whispering her name.
She smiled, whispering his name back.
We walked hand in hand through the dark passages of the house, the walls full of snapshots of their life. We descended the staircase, and I caught myself snatching glances at my humans, unable to believe that it was finally Leopold Fitz and Jemma Simmons who were holding my hands.
If they noticed, they didn’t say anything.
I did not want them to go into Light, because I knew that then I would never see them again.
But I must do what I do, and there cannot be exceptions for any humans- even for outliers.
We eventually reached Light, and I let go of their hands as I always do. They watched me with puzzlement written across their faces, unsure of why I was letting them go.
The Light is not for me, and it will never be for me.
I extended my hands towards them again, reaching for their hands and bringing them together. It was then that they understood, and they smiled at me, an emotion I made sure to match although I did not feel quite the same on the inside. They tore their gaze from me, looked at each other and walked hand in hand into Light.
Much time has past since Leopold Fitz and Jemma Simmons met me, but I carry their memory with me still. I continue meeting humans, doing what I must. Yet every moment I wonder with every single human if they will be able to defy me, escape such as Leopold Fitz and Jemma Simmons were able to do.
There is no logical explanation for how Leopold Fitz and Jemma Simmons were so special. I have reviewed the times I saw or met them so methodically that they may never leave my consciousness.
And I wonder about them now.
I am certain of one thing, however: I am sure that they are together, unable to be separated even though their human lives ended so long ago.
I know this as well as I know myself and what I am and what I do.
I am constant.
I am precise.
I am inevitable.
I am infinite.
I am closure.
And I cannot part them.