Actions

Work Header

the nights are long but the stars are brighter (hold me closer, pull me tighter)

Work Text:

Jemma and Trip have their own rooms, but they both prefer to spend most of their downtime in Fitz’s. Not that Fitz actually minds, since he’s pretty sure there’s nothing nicer in the entire world than opening the door to his room to see the two of them lounging on his bed. Trip’s sitting up against the headboard reading a book, legs stretched out in front of him, and Jemma is lying sideways across the mattress, head on his thigh and feet on the desk chair that she’s pulled up to the side of the bed, papers in several neat stacks next to her. Fitz stands in the doorway for a few minutes, an almost unbearable warmth filling his chest, before Trip glances up from his book and smiles at him.

“Is that food?” he asks, and Fitz nods, kicking the door closed behind him.

“Yeah. Someone went and got pizza, so I stole us some.”

“This is why you’re my favorite,” Trip says, “Jemma, stop working for a few minutes so we can all properly enjoy this pizza together.”

Jemma grumbles a bit about being months behind on work, but dutifully gathers up her papers, stacking them neatly. When Fitz reaches to take them from her to put on his desk, she tangles her fingers in his shirt instead, pulls him in for a warm, soft kiss that lasts for several long seconds, the pizza box stuck awkwardly between them.

“Hello,” she says, smiling at him once they pull apart.

“Hey. I brought pizza. It’s got vegetables and everything.”

“Your long held belief that pizza constitutes a nutritious meal is troubling,” she replies, and Trip laughs as Jemma leans around Fitz to put her papers on his desk and they all settle in to eat.

His bed is just wide enough for the three of them, and Fitz likes the way they have to crowd into each other just a bit, hips and shoulders pressed together. He likes the easy and unquestioned way they exist in each other’s space, eating straight out of the box sitting on Fitz’s legs.

After a couple slices, Jemma shifts so she can lie with her head on Fitz’s thigh, arm stretched out and fingers tangled in the hem of Trip’s shirt. Once the box is empty, he lifts it over her carefully and then drops it on the floor, which makes Trip laugh.

“I’ll throw it away tomorrow morning,” he says, gently tucking some of Jemma’s hair behind her ear, “Hey, Jem, do you have stuff on your list you want to talk about tonight?”

“Hmm?”

“You want to do some of your list tonight?” At first he’d gone along with the list mostly because he knew it helped Jemma and because he liked the fact that Jemma had been thinking about him, about a future for them, even with an entire universe between them and no sure way to close the distance. But now he looks forward to it on its own merit, the chance to talk with her about things that matter and things that don’t and anything else they want.

Jemma lifts her head just a little, one eye open, considering for a few seconds before she shakes her head and settles back down against his leg. Fitz rests his hand between her shoulders, playing with the edges of her hair, and Trip yawns, stretching as much as he can in the limited space.

“I should probably get to bed, let you guys sleep.”

“You can stay,” Fitz says, proud of the way he keeps his voice steady. He shouldn’t really be nervous about it anymore, since Trip has slept here more often than he has his own room in the month and a half since he and Jemma got back. But he is, because it’s Trip and because he doesn’t quite understand exactly what it is that’s between them except that there’s definitely something. And he asks anyway, because one thing he is sure of is that he wants Trip there, and he’s pretty sure Jemma does too.

“Really?”

“Yeah, of course. It’s fine. I don’t think Jemma’s going to let go of you anyway.” Her grip on the hem of his shirt had only gotten tighter as she’d fallen asleep, and the sight of both that and the soft smile on Trip’s face make Fitz’s chest feel tight in the best sort of way.

It takes a lot of careful shifting, trying not to push Jemma off the bed or plant an elbow anywhere particularly painful, but eventually they’re all settled, Jemma’s head on Fitz’s shoulder and Trip’s face tucked into his neck, arm reaching over him so that he can rest his hand on Jemma’s hip. It’s incredibly crowded, all of them still in their clothes from the day and the lights still on, despite Trip’s best attempts at turning them off by throwing both his shoes at the switch by the door, but Fitz is still as comfortable as he thinks he’s ever been. Trip rubs his nose against his neck for a second and he wonders if he can feel the way his pulse jumps at the action.

“You need to get a bigger bed, man.”

“Maybe I just need to get smaller friends,” he replies, but he turns his head to ghost his lips across Trip’s forehead, both because he wants to make sure he knows he’s joking and just because he wants to.

Trip laughs, somehow managing to pull himself even closer, and Jemma mumbles something at them. Fitz twists to press a kiss against her hair, taking a few seconds just to breathe in the smell of her shampoo. He doesn’t know what this thing between them all is, what he should call it or whether they should talk about it or if he should feel guilty about any of it, but whatever else it is, whatever else it feels like, it feels right.

----------------

“Are you watching golf?” Jemma asks from the doorway, and Trip tips his head back over the couch, grinning.

“Just highlights on Sportscenter. Although ‘highlight’ seems like a strong word to use for anything in golf except maybe a hole-in-one or a very large reptile on the course,” he says as she crosses the room, considering him for a second before dropping onto the couch next to him, curling up with her head on his thigh.

“And yet you’re still watching?”

“When we got back, if somebody had told you you could watch as much Doctor Who as you wanted, but every seventh episode you had to watch was one you didn’t hate but also didn’t really care for, you’d take the deal, right?”

Jemma nods, turning to press her grin against his leg. “Point taken.”

“What are you doing up still anyway?”

“Fitz and I were working on something we thought would take us all night and didn’t want to stop, so we told the techs who were supposed to be on to take the night off. Of course we had a breakthrough about thirty minutes later, and now we have to stay up and keep an eye on things.”

“You seem to be doing a very good job of that, lying here on the couch with me with your eyes closed,” Trip says, and Jemma pinches him in retaliation but she’s still grinning against his thigh.

“Fitz is syncing everything to a tablet so we don’t have to sit in the lab all night. He should be here in a couple of minutes,” she says, and Trip can’t help the rush of affection and pride that comes with the realization that Fitzsimmons’ first instinct upon getting some unexpected free time, even in the middle of the night, was to seek him out.

He’s carefully braiding Jemma’s hair when Fitz comes in, and Trip stops so she can lift her head and he can scoot over to let Fitz have his spot. She doesn’t move though, and Fitz drops onto the couch on Trip’s other side, leaning into him with a sigh.

“I hate night duty,” he says, balancing his tablet on his knee.

“Didn’t you volunteer for it this time?”

“Jemma volunteered us. I was all set to wake up whoever was on the schedule and go to bed. Staying up all night to watch a screen isn’t the same as staying up all night to figure something out.”

“I think you’ll survive,” Jemma says, and Fitz huffs, but he settles more solidly into Trip’s side, like he plans on staying there for awhile. Trip doesn’t mind at all.

It’s two in the morning and Sportscenter is starting to get repetitive, so he channel surfs until he finds a time condensed replay of some hockey game from yesterday. He keeps twisting little braids into Jemma’s hair and trying to explain the rules to Fitz and basking in their closeness. It’s not like he’s deprived of it, since the two of them have a habit of tucking themselves into his personal space seemingly whenever they feel like it, but he’s greedy for it and can’t help himself. There are things he wants that he cannot have, but he’ll take what he can get, what they’ll gladly give him. That’s enough.

Midway through the third period, Fitz yawns and stretches until his joints pop. “I’m going to get coffee, you want any?”

“Don’t bother.”

“If I don’t, I’m going to fall asleep and Jemma will lecture me on duty and responsibility.”

“Jemma fell asleep fifteen minutes ago,” Trip says, and Fitz jolts away from him to look at where Jemma is indeed sleeping, head still resting on Trip’s thigh.

“She’s the one who volunteered us!” he whispers, careful not to wake her up even in his outrage, and Trip laughs softly.

“Yeah, well, it’s late. You can follow her example, if you want.”

“Someone has to stay up and monitor this,” he says, holding up the tablet, and Trip squints at the screen.

“Anything on there you couldn’t explain to me in about three minutes?”

“Um, it’s actually got an alarm if any of the alerts are tripped.”

“So if the tablet started making the universal something bad is happening noise, I could wake you up?”

“...Yeah.”

Trip laughs again, and lifts his arm along the back of the couch in invitation. “Then come here and get some sleep, stupid. I slept this afternoon because I’m on call anyway, so I’m fine, and I can get my own coffee if I really need it.” That last part is a lie, because he wouldn’t risk disturbing their sleep just for a caffeine fix, but Fitz doesn’t need to know that.

After a few seconds, Fitz settles back next to him, and Trip only hesitates for a moment before he lets his arm drop around his shoulders, pulling him just a little closer. Fitz leans into it, resting his head against Trip’s shoulder.

“Thanks,” he mumbles, already drifting, and Trip can’t resist the urge to turn his head, brush his nose against Fitz’s hair, his free hand tucking the three little braids he’s made in Jemma’s hair behind her ear.

“No problem. Have to look out for each other.” Fitz nods twice and then he’s out, and Trip shifts just a little, getting as comfortable as possible, wanting to stay right here as long as he can.

There are things he wants that he can’t have, but this, Jemma’s head on his leg and Fitz’s on his shoulder, this can be his.

----------------

Jemma isn’t totally sure how she ended up driving towards the middle of nowhere as the sun sets on southwestern Colorado, except that as usual it’s Fitz and Trip’s fault.

It’s her and Trip’s first mission in the field since they’d gotten back, and Coulson had given them three days to figure out what was going on in the small Colorado town and if it had anything to do with Inhumans or anything else that S.H.I.E.L.D. would need to try to deal with. It had ended up taking them less than one to locate the kids who had decided to use fireworks and paranoia to try and get a couple days off of school, and they had been all set to head back to base when Trip had pointed out that they weren’t all that far from the Four Corners Monument and it would be a missed opportunity if they didn’t go.

“It’ll be fun,” he’d said, grinning, already pulling up the map on his phone to get directions, “You remember fun, Agent Simmons.”

So now there’s two six packs of some local beer Trip had chosen at a gas station on the cashier’s recommendation sitting on the backseat and they’re driving southwest, the sunset painting the world blue and pink and gold. Trip is driving, one arm dangling out the open window even though it’s close to freezing, hand open wide like he’s trying to catch the wind, and Fitz has wedged himself up between the front seats, his cheek resting against Jemma’s shoulder as she traces her fingers gently over the thin scar on his forearm. The radio is tuned to something twangy, mumbly, barely audible over the wind. None of them says anything, and the moment is small and warm and perfect.

It’s dark by the time they actually pull into the little dirt parking lot, and the monument itself is closed. They had known it would be when they set off, and they had come anyway, and Jemma thinks maybe it’s because they had wanted those moments in the car as they drove, with the sunset and the wind and the twanging radio and Fitz’s cheek warm against her shoulder, Trip grinning at them without saying anything. The journey.

Jemma carefully climbs over the small barrier that’s been placed across the entrance, pinning fifteen dollars to the ticket counter with a rock she’d grabbed on her way from the car. She wanders around the circular area for a few minutes, lighting up the plaques with her phone so that she can read them, and then back towards the entrance she’d come in, wondering where the boys are.

Trip is standing next to the car, laughing and trying to drink his beer at the same time, which isn’t going very well, and Fitz sits on the hood, looking relaxed and pleased with himself. After a few seconds, Trip moves to press his knee between Fitz’s feet resting on the bumper, one arm draped over his shoulder, the other supporting his weight against the hood, face tucked into the other man’s neck. Fitz hugs him back, beer bottle resting between his shoulder blades, both of them still shaking with laughter, and Jemma has to force herself to take a few deep breaths to combat the happy dizzy feeling that swamps her as she watches them, here in this cold and barren place that is only not the middle of nowhere because it is a trivia point of made-up lines.

“I thought we were here to see the actual monument, not the parking lot,” she calls towards them after a few minutes of just watching them, and they untangle themselves just enough to walk towards her, Trip’s arm still thrown around Fitz’s shoulders, both of them carrying a six pack in their free hand. When they reach her, Fitz hands his to her so that they can link their fingers together, and none of them pull apart, even though it makes climbing over the barrier much more complicated than it really needs to be.

They’re still laughing at their own clumsiness when they settle around the little metal plate in the middle of the monument, Jemma in Colorado, Fitz in Utah, Trip in Arizona. She’s still holding Fitz’s hand and his knee presses against Trip’s and she’s stretched out one leg across New Mexico so her foot sits in his lap, his fingers slipping just under the hem of her jeans to rest gently against the skin above her sock. In three different states and still touching, still tangled up in each other, and Jemma thinks that might be a metaphor, and a good one.

After two beers, she tells herself that she has enough liquid courage to reach out and tangle her fingers in Trip’s shirt, even though she’s not actually drunk or scared of this at all. She tugs on both Fitz and Trip until they’re lying down next to her, one on either side, the three of them stretched across all four states, another warm, perfect moment, even though the ground is hard and it can’t be much more than forty degrees out.

Jemma holds out her phone to take a photo of the three of them, which ends up objectively terrible. She’d caught Trip in the middle of a laugh and Fitz is only half looking at the camera and the three of them take up pretty much the whole frame, meaning the only people who would be able to tell where it was taken are the three of them actually there in that moment. She loves it anyway, because of these things rather than in spite of them. The destination.

After a while it gets too uncomfortable to stay there on the ground, and they stumble back to the car, leaving only the money Jemma had pinned to the counter. It’s late, after midnight now, and they’re all on their third beer, so they just sit in the car in the parking lot, heater turned up high and the radio tuned to a classic rock station that’s only a little fuzzy. Jemma leans her head against the passenger side window, drinking her beer, watching Fitz lean over Trip’s shoulder so they can take turns pulling up different cat videos on his phone.

She falls asleep like that, and when she wakes up they’re moving, driving towards the sunrise. Trip’s driving, head bobbing along with the radio, and when she looks over her shoulder she sees Fitz curled up on the backseat. If it was anyone else, she might be surprised at how soundly he’s sleeping, but Fitz has always been able to sleep comfortably anywhere and the cramped backseat of the car is practically luxurious compared to some of the places she’s seen him nap.

“So, Agent Simmons, what do you say? Fun?” Trip asks, grinning, and she smiles back, watching the world pass by outside her window.

“It was. It was good.”

----------------

Mostly what Trip wants to do is go to sleep. The mission had only taken about ten hours, flight time included, and had actually been significantly less life-threatening than the usual stuff the team stumbled into on a regular basis, but they hadn’t left until late afternoon so it’s well past midnight now, and he really wants to fall into bed and sleep for a long time. He’s out of his seat as soon as the jet stops moving, and he can hear May laugh at him.

“You’re that eager to see Fitzsimmons?”

He’s about to say that mostly he’s eager to get to bed, but of course when he thinks about his bed, it’s actually technically Fitz’s bed, and they’re both there with him. There hadn’t been even one second where he’d been thinking of just going back to his own room and collapsing on his little used bed by himself.

“Haven’t seen them since this afternoon. That’s a pretty long time for us these days,” he says, grinning, and May just shakes her head, although he can see she’s smiling.

“Go on then,” she says as the jet’s door starts to lower, “I’ll debrief with Coulson.”

“You sure?”

“You’ll be pretty useless anyway,” she shrugs and Trip laughs again, and he’s just about to say something about her doubting his professionalism, except he spots Fitz and Jemma making their way across the hanger.

The door isn’t all the way down yet, but he jumps the last few feet to the ground, jogs his way over to them, feeling stupidly, ridiculously like the returning hero. Both of them are grinning at him, and he hugs them with enough force, one arm around each of their waists, to lift them off the ground a little, their combined weight bending him backwards a bit before he sets them back on their feet.

“How did it go?” Jemma asks, once they’ve finally untangled themselves from the hug.

“Fine. Nothing that May and I couldn’t handle. Missed you guys though,” he says, because it doesn’t cost him anything, and he throws an arm over each of their shoulders as they walk out of the hanger.

“We missed you too. We’ve gotten used to you being in the lab with us when we’re not out on missions with you.”

“You’re more useful than most of the techs we’ve got, that’s for sure,” Fitz says, and Trip laughs, tugging him off balance for a few seconds as a way of showing his affection.

“Fitz, I’m truly flattered. And exhausted.”

Before everything, before superpowered rocks and alien planets and them, he’d had a routine. Post-mission, no matter what or where it was, he’d debrief, carefully make sure all his gear was catalogued and returned to the correct places, then maybe grab a beer or two and chat with anybody who might be around, unwind a bit. Now, he just dumps his stuff on a table in one of the inventory lockers, watches as Fitzsimmons grin at each other in the doorway.

It’s not a bad thing to want someone to look at him like Fitzsimmons look at each other, with that much love and loyalty and affection and light. The problem is that he wants Fitzsimmons to look at him the way they look at each other.

It had been easier, when he and Jemma had been in the cave and Fitz had been here and they’d all been spending most of their time just surviving and trying to figure out a way to get back and missing each other. Then he could channel all his energy into that, surviving and experimenting and missing things, and he’d done a pretty good job of ignoring the way he was falling for them both. But now they’re back and he spends most of his time around the two of them, so he doesn’t have to miss them anymore, and it seems like every bit of that energy now directs itself towards loving the two of them.

He’s not jealous of either of them or their relationship, doesn’t want to ever do anything that would jeopardize that, and he tries to give them space to just be the two of them as often as he can, tries not to need them all the time. Trip thinks he does a pretty good job, and it’s usually the two of them that seek him out after he’s given them space, which does incredible things for his heart and his ego and makes it a lot harder not to let everything he feels for them shine through on his face all the time. But the thing about the way he feels about Fitz and Jemma is that he’d do anything for them, no matter how hard it is.

So he dumps his gear on the table, telling himself he’ll sort it all out in the morning, and heads back to the doorway, hugging the two of them because he can and because they let him and that’s enough.

“Let’s go to bed, yeah?”

The three of them walk down the hall to Fitz’s room together, arms around each other.

---------------

“Ten months on an alien planet, and I’m still getting my ass kicked at Honk-Honk by the guy who was earthbound the whole time.”

Jemma laughs as she crosses the roof to where the two of them are sitting with the board between them.

“To be fair, you didn’t win very many of our games either.”

“That hurts, Jemma. I’m hurt.”

“I’m sure you’ll recover,” she says, sitting down and arranging herself and Fitz so she can lean back against his chest as he considers his next move, one leg out in front of her so she can press her instep against the curve of Trip’s folded knee.

It’s cold out, and she’s layered one of Trip’s hoodies over a sweater of Fitz’s. She watches them play for a few turns, laughing at Trip’s string of curses when Fitz takes another one of his pieces, and then tips her head back against Fitz’s shoulder to look at the stars.

The unobstructed view of the sky is the main reason she started coming up here, and dragging the two of them along. During the day, it’s easy to stay busy, too avoid thinking about things, getting caught up in her memories, and Trip and Fitz are almost always with her, whether that’s in the lab or out on an assignment, since Coulson doesn’t split them up that often since they’d gotten back. And at night, she can curl up with both of them, twist her fingers into their clothing and press her lips against their skin and remind herself that they’re real, this is real, she gets to have this. Unorthodox and undefined sure, but real, and the time when that’s easiest to lose track of are these in-between hours.

So this is how she deals with it, by dragging Fitz and Trip up to the roof, listening to them argue about Honk-Honk or whatever else they’re playing that evening, close enough to touch both of them, and tracing familiar constellations with her eyes. It’s the best way she’s found to remind herself that she’s home.

“Okay, I give up,” Trip says, knocking over one of his own pieces to show his forfeit, “Three and a half losses is as much as a man can take, I think.”

“You came pretty close in that second game,” Fitz says, still studying the board, and Trip laughs, turning so he can stretch out next to Jemma’s leg, head on her thigh.

“We’ll have to play horseshoes next time then.” He tilts his face up so he can study hers, and she lets him, watches his grin grow. “You’re pretty,” he says after about a minute, and she laughs, leaning more fully against Fitz’s chest so she can lift her hand to curl around the shoulder seam of his sweatshirt, pressing her knuckles gently into the muscle there.

“Thank you. You’re pretty, too,” she says, delighted by the way she can feel his laugh shake in his chest where he’s curled up by her leg, warm palm resting just below her knee.

“Hey, what about me?” Fitz asks, and Jemma turns her head just enough to brush her lips against his chin.

“You’ll do, I suppose.”

Fitz huffs. “Let you borrow my sweater and this is what I get.”

“I could take it off, if you’re that hurt,” she says, and can feel the way his heartbeat picks up behind her shoulder blade at the mere suggestion of her undressing even just a little bit. He’s ridiculous and she’s just about to tell him so when Trip pushes himself up so he can lean across her towards Fitz. He puts one big hand on the far side of his head, tugging him closer and pressing a kiss against his cheekbone, only keeping a straight face for about a second before he laughs, lips still resting against Fitz’s skin.

“I think you’re pretty,” he says, once he’s pulled back, and the two of them just look at each other, soft and smiling, and this would be the perfect time for Jemma to knock their heads together really. And she would, except that she loves them, except that there’s no place she’d rather be than this cold roof with these two boys and not enough personal space but too much distance still. So she can wait.

“Come on then,” she says, as their glances jump from each other to her and back again, “I’ll beat you both at Honk-Honk.”

“There is absolutely no way my ego could take that tonight,” Trip says, finally breaking away from Fitz and settling back down against her thigh, tugging the hood of his sweatshirt up around his jaw. “Tell us a story instead, Jem.”

“A story about what?”

“Doesn’t matter. Tell us fun facts about the moon if you want.”

She laughs, settling into the solidness of Fitz behind her and the warmth of Trip stretched out beside her leg and familiar constellations above her.

“I don’t know any trivia about the moon-”

“Bullshit.”

“-so I guess it’ll have to be a story. The myths that gave the constellations their names, maybe.”

As she talks about the stars above them, she thinks about how she loves these boys, ridiculous and frustrating and slow as they are, and she’d wait just this side of forever for them to figure out whatever it is they need to figure out about everything they are and everything they feel, because if it was all just as simple as her giving them permission she would have done it a long time ago. Until then, there’s this, a rooftop and Honk-Honk and a thousand stars and the three of them.

---------------

He can’t remember the last time he’d had the flu this bad. Coulson had ordered him out of the briefing last night and told him to stay away from the lab until he stopped looking like death, and Fitz was happy to comply. Since then he’s slept fitfully under the impressive collection of blankets Trip and Jemma had piled on him, somehow feeling both too hot and too cold at the same time. He’d tried to Skype with his mum for a bit earlier, but his hands felt weak and slow and he’d struggled to focus on her signs until finally she’d told him to get some rest and call her back when he was feeling better.

So now he’s just focusing on his breathing and listening to the music Trip had left playing this morning when he and Jemma had left. Fitz tries to turn over when he hears the door open, but every joint in his body protests and he ends up just burrowing further into the blankets, so he’s surprised when he feels the bed shift behind him.

“What are you guys doing here?” he says, words slurring a bit. He’s really sick, but he’s fairly sure he’d have to be dead not to recognize Trip and Jemma’s presence at his back. “Shouldn’t you be working?” His sense of time isn’t all wonky right now, and his phone has been lost somewhere in the blankets, but there’s no way it’s late enough that they’re done for the day.

“We’re playing hooky,” Trip answers, and Fitz shivers a little as Jemma presses a kiss against the overheated skin at the back of his neck. “It’s like Ferris Bueller but with fewer parades and more actual sickness.”

“You’re gonna get sick.”

“For you, we’ll take our chances,” Jemma whispers, pressing herself against his back, arm wrapped around his stomach, Trip behind her, his hand spread out at Fitz’s waist.

“You know what you need, Fitz?”

“The sweet embrace of death.”

“No. You need to be serenaded.”

“Oh, no,” Jemma groans, and Fitz manages a soft laugh at the affronted sound Trip makes.

“Regardless of Jemma’s incorrect opinions of my singing voice-”

“I lived in a cave with you for three months, I think I have the experience to jud-”

Regardless, my mum or my sisters singing to me always made me feel better when I was sick, and since they’re not here to do it, you’re just going to have to settle for me,” Trip says, and the bed shifts as Fitz assumes he’s moving to change the song that’s playing and adjust the volume.

And then he’s singing Ain’t No Mountain High Enough softly, apparently trying to sing both parts at the same time until Jemma sighs and joins in. It’s ridiculous and perfect, and Fitz is too tired and way too sick to worry about what he’s supposed to want or how he’s supposed to feel, so he just snuggles down as much as he can, enjoying the feeling of Jemma and Trip curled around him, the soft sound of their voices and their laughter.

---------------

Fitz is leaning against the counter in flannel pajama pants that are about two sizes too big and a worn thin t-shirt that does distracting things to his shoulders when Trip comes into the kitchen, still trying to rub sleep out of his eyes. He’s holding a jar of peanut butter with his name written across the label in big black letters, because he likes to eat it straight out of the jar with a spoon and nobody else wants anything to do with what Trip has taken to calling his slobber butter.

And Trip should be grossed out right now, because what sort of ridiculous barbarian eats straight peanut butter when there are four perfectly good loaves of bread about a foot from his elbow, but he’s really, really not. He blames this entirely on the fact that in between bites, Fitz keeps pressing the spoon against his bottom lip, and what Trip wants to do more than anything in the world in that moment is to trap Fitz between his body and the counter, let his fingers brush over the thin strip of skin at his waist exposed where his shirt is riding up, replace the spoon with his teeth. He wants to kiss him until all he can taste is peanut butter.

Instead he pours himself a bowl of Raisin Bran, leans against the counter next to Fitz, close enough to him that their shoulders are pressed together, which feels right and dangerous and necessary all at the same time. Fitz doesn’t say anything, just nods good morning with a yawn and scoops out another spoonful of peanut butter.

“You’re gross, you know that? Just disgusting.”

“I’m not the one eating raisins,” Fitz says, like that’s actually a reasonable response to anything in the world, and Trip is so fond of him, of his ridiculous opinions on raisins and his slobbery peanut butter and his shoulders. The swelling warmth of it in his chest feels like it might crack his ribs with the force of it all.

Jemma comes in, already dressed for the day, because of course she is, and she gravitates towards them immediately. Trip has about three seconds to be jealous of the both of them as she wraps her arms around Fitz’s waist and rests her head against his shoulder before she reaches out and tugs him into the hug, like she’s a little exasperated he hadn’t already joined in himself. He laughs but joins the embrace easily, pressing a kiss first against Jemma’s hair and then Fitz’s.

“You two should get dressed for work,” Jemma says after a few minutes, and Fitz makes a sound like she’d asked him to touch something gross.

“We prioritized breakfast,” he says, and Trip adds “You’re always telling us about how it’s the most important meal of the day.” Jemma just rolls her eyes at both of them, tugging Fitz away from the counter and pushing him in the direction of their room.

She replaces the lid on the peanut butter, making sure to put it back in the cupboard with the sharpie label showing, and goes to wash off the spoon in the sink. Trip tries to concentrate on his cereal and not on the images his brain conjures up of reaching over and pulling her back towards him, her weight against his chest, against his hips, kissing her as she twists soapy fingers into his shirt.

“Are you all right?” Jemma asks, and Trip realizes something must have slipped through in his expression.

“I’m fine, Jem. Just waking up still,” he replies, because by now he has a lot of practice saying something else when what he really wants to say is I want you.

It feels like he wants to tell them all the time now, one of them or the other or usually both of them at the same time, and he can’t. They’re Fitzsimmons, with ten years of history and connection and friendship, and he knows it would be easier to put a little distance between himself and them, to love them without wanting them as often as he breathes.

But he’s tangled up in them now, and whether that’s his fault or the universe’s or no one’s at all doesn’t really matter. For almost three months, he’d been the only real connection the two of them had to each other, and when they’d held hands across the universe he’d been standing there next to both of them. It would probably be easier to separate himself from them, at least a little, but he’s long past the point where he can just do the easy thing.

And really, he’s absolutely content with how things are, and it’s not at all in a way that feels like he’s settling. Trip loves Fitz and Jemma and he knows Fitz and Jemma love him, because neither of them is particularly shy about showing it, intentionally or not, and he wants them in a way that sometimes twists in his gut until he nearly doubles over, and that does not for even one second make loving them any less perfect.

Not when he gets pulled into sleepy early morning hugs like they don’t understand why he’s not already in them. Not when most nights he gets to curl up with the two of them on a too small bed in a room he has thought of as theirs for months now. Not when he gets to love them as fiercely and completely as this.

“You mind if I chill in the lab today? I’m on call, but I haven’t heard anything from Coulson or May yet,” he asks, washing his bowl out in the sink.

“Of course. If you’re under foot we’ll just put you to work,” Jemma says, stepping in close enough to push up onto her toes and kiss his cheek, fingers twisting into the sleeve of his t-shirt for a few seconds. She smiles at him once she pulls away, collecting her mug of tea from the counter. “I’ll see you in there.”

Trip watches her go, because he can’t help himself, arms crossed and his fingers pressed against the fading wet spots Jemma had left on his sleeve. After a few seconds, he pushes himself away from the counter to go to his room and change, breathing and wanting and loving and smiling.

---------------

“Hey, come on, you guys have to stop working for a little bit and come outside,” Trip says, and he doesn’t even bother waiting for some sort of response from the two of them before slipping one arm through Jemma’s and the other through Fitz’s, locking his elbows and tugging them along.

“What’s wrong?” Fitz asks, with the tone of a person whose job description is often trying to figure out how to fix shit after a disaster.

“Nothing is wrong, Leopold. There’s a sunshower happening though, and you guys need to see it, because it looks like magic,” Trip replies, all but sprinting through the hallways of the base.

The scene that greets them when Trip throws the door open really does look like something out of a fairy tale, bright sunlight flashing through the falling rain. Jemma can see the long line of clouds in the distance where the rain must be coming from, and she’s well aware what meteorological events cause sunshowers, but there is something about it that does seem almost magical. Maybe it’s the fact that there’s a lot of rain falling, closer to a real storm than the sprinkle that one usually associates with these, or maybe it’s the grin on Trip’s face as he tries to pull Fitz out into the rain with him.

“I’ll get wet,” he whines, and Trip just laughs, bending his knees so he can wrap both arms tightly around Fitz’s waist and lift him off the ground, Fitz scrambling to hang on to his shoulders with a yelp of surprise.

It’s Jemma’s turn to laugh as they spin once, twice, three times before Trip sets Fitz back on his feet, and Fitz continues calling him bad names for a few seconds, but neither of them let go of the other. Jemma watches them lean into each other, in the sunshine and the rain, and her heart feels both enormous and light at the same time. Fitz digs his elbow into Trip’s side after a while, and they fall apart, Trip laughing, thin t-shirt sticking to his chest, Fitz trying and failing to keep a straight face, eyes very, very blue as they catch the sunlight.

And then it’s too much, the distance between them, and she ducks out into the rain. She catches Fitz by the collar, pulling him in for a long kiss, reaching out blindly for Trip for a few moments until he threads his fingers through hers. She twists their arms until their wrists are pressed together and she can feel the rapid thump of his pulse against hers. Once she and Fitz break apart, Jemma wraps an arm around each of their waists, pulls them close until Fitz’s face is tucked in against her neck and Trip can press his lips against her hair. It’s perfect and still somehow not close enough.

She wants… she wants to press her hands against them both until she leaves bruises in the shape of her fingerprints on their skin. Then the world would know, could see, that these are the people she’s chosen, that she would do anything for them, that she would and has reached across the universe for these boys and has the scar to show for it. She wants them.

Jemma wants them, and she loves them, so she’s willing to be patient until they figure out whatever it is they need to figure out about the three of them as the three of them. They’re ridiculous and a bit slow about a lot of the things that matter most, but she loves them anyway and more importantly she chose them. And so until they figure things out, she’ll just keep pulling them close enough that they’re all breathing the same air, in the sunshine and in the rain.

---------------

“What the hell are you two doing?” Fitz stops in the doorway to the kitchen, staring at where Trip and Jemma are standing with some sort of blue blob on the counter in front of them.

Instead of answering his question, Trip just laughs, bumping his shoulder gently against Jemma’s. “I thought you said he wouldn’t wake up?”

“I didn’t think he would! Usually he sleeps through anything.”

“You guys left,” he says, before he can stop himself, and normally he’s better at that, not saying things like that, but they look so comfortable and happy and perfect there together, smiling at each other, shoulders pressed together. And he’s not sure when he stopped being able to sleep without both of them there, but sometime in the past six months it had happened and he doesn’t know how to stop it. “You guys left, and I…” he shrugs, not knowing what to say beyond that. “Which I guess brings me back to the question of what the hell the two of you are doing?”

Trip’s face lights up, and he points to the blue thing sitting on the counter. “We made you a birthday cake!”

“A birthday cake?”

“Yeah.”

“My birthday’s in August,” Fitz says, looking over at the calendar someone had pinned to the wall, which pretty clearly says May underneath a picture of a couple golden retriever puppies running through a field of flowers.

“We know that, but we weren’t here for your birthday,” says Jemma, and Trip nods.

“And you told me that you had to make your own birthday cake, which is just about the saddest thing I’ve ever heard,” he adds, and Fitz remembers that day. He’d still thought Trip was just an hallucination then, and hadn’t understood what it meant that he could reach out and wrap his fingers over his fist. It had made him feel better though, and that was the first day in a long time that it had really felt like he could breathe.

“So you made me a cake?”

“We made you a cake,” Jemma says, grinning and beckoning him over. As soon as he’s within reach, she grabs his hand to thread her fingers through his while he examines the cake.

It’s roughly square and covered in so much blue frosting that it’s dripping off the sides in thick globs under it’s own weight. Happy Birthday Fitz! is written across it in red frosting, over a drawing of something that Fitz is pretty sure isn’t actually supposed to be what it looks like.

“Did you draw a dick on my birthday cake?” he asks after several seconds of trying really hard to figure out what else it could be. Jemma laughs immediately, turning to press her face against his shoulder, while Trip just looks offended.

“I did not draw a dick on your birthday cake!”

“I told you it looked very phallic,” Jemma says, peeking out at him from where she’s still laughing, and now Trip looks betrayed as well.

“It’s an airplane! Why would I draw a dick on your birthday cake, which I slaved over for hours?”

“Why would you draw an airplane?”

“Because I did some research, in order to personalize your cake a little bit, and you have the same birthday as Orville Wright. I figured an engineer would appreciate that, and instead I get this.”

“I’ll appreciate it as long as you promise not to try to draw any airplanes near any children or men of the cloth in the future,” Fitz says, and Jemma laughs again.

“I try to do something nice for someone, and this is what I get. You guys can have Fitz’s name, or maybe part of birthday, but I’m eating the damn airplane.”

He cuts into the cake carefully, making sure to get the entire airplane onto one oddly shaped piece before he cuts Jemma and Fitz their own pieces. They eat standing at the counter, elbows and shoulders bumping. The cake is pretty good, except sometimes Fitz gets a forkful that’s just frosting, it’s coated on so thick; when Jemma grins at him, her teeth are stained blue with it.

It’s not that his birthday was so bad. Really, it had just been like any other day after Jemma had disappeared into the rock, with the exception of the cake he’d made for himself and an extra hard hug from Daisy before she rushed off to deal with whatever Inhuman thing had needed her attention. But this is immeasurably better, even if it’s three in the morning and his cake seems like it’s 75% frosting, because Trip and Jemma are here.

“Thanks. For the cake, and for everything else,” Fitz says, not sure exactly what he means but knowing he needs to say thank you for more than just the cake itself.

“You’re welcome,” Trip says, voice soft and his eyes bright as he looks at him, and the moment feels charged almost, like something is about to break. Fitz thinks wildly of those few seconds right before Jemma kissed him, after they’d reached across the universe for each other and he’d pulled her and Trip back to earth, her fingers curled around his shoulder and Trip grinning at them as he tried to catch his breath.

And then Trip reaches out, fingers resting against the back of Fitz’s neck where he’s so fond of pressing his lips when they’re all half asleep and curled up together, and tugs him in gently until he can tilt his head down to kiss him softly. Fitz reacts before he can think of anything else, presses back a little more firmly, wrapping his arm around Trip’s waist and spreading his fingers wide against his back to feel the shifting muscles there. His head is spinning by the time they break apart, a sigh shuddering past his lips. Trip smiles, small and soft and warm, glancing at Jemma over Fitz’s shoulder.

“You’re right, that is pretty something.”

“Isn’t it though?” Jemma says, and Fitz can hear the smile in her voice but can’t take his eyes of Trip to make sure he’s not hearing things.

“W-What?”

“That sigh thing you do after somebody kisses you. Jemma said it was pretty great, and she was right,” Trip says, warm palm still resting against Fitz’s neck, and Fitz is finally able to force himself to turn and look at Jemma after a few seconds, though he doesn’t actually pull away from Trip. She’s grinning at him, at them, and Fitz says the only complete sentence that his brain can manage at the moment.

“He kissed me.”

Jemma laughs, stepping closer so she can wrap her hand around his free one, threading her fingers through his. “I know. I saw it. Plus I told him he could.”

“You what?” He turns wide eyes back to Trip, who shrugs.

“It’s rude to kiss someone’s boyfriend without their permission.”

“Oh,” Fitz says, trying to process what’s happening, getting stuck on the way Jemma has sort of wedged herself in between the two of them, has her fingers tangled with his while she leans a little against Trip’s shoulder and oh. “Have you two-?” he asks, and the feeling sparking in his stomach is definitely not jealousy.

“No. It’s rude to kiss someone’s girlfriend without permission,” Trip says, but he’s grinning down at Jemma, and if Fitz’s brain hasn’t already short circuited it certainly does now. He thinks it’s pretty unfair to put him in this position, because how in the world is he supposed to choose between kissing Jemma or kissing Trip or watching the two of them kiss, all of which sound like absolutely amazing options right at this moment and also forever. In the end he just kind of nods, hoping they understand, and Jemma twists a little without letting go of Fitz’s hand so Trip can lean down and press his mouth to hers, her free hand catching in his collar, backs of her fingers pressing against his skin. Fitz is pretty sure his head is going to explode.

“That’s… something,” he breathes when they break apart, and he doesn’t think Trip has stopped grinning since he’d kissed him.

“I’ve been wanting to do that for a while. Didn’t think it would ever happen.”

“That’s because you two are slow,” Jemma says, voice thick with equal parts irritation and affection.

“I didn’t want to get in the middle of anything. Wasn’t my right.”

“Of course it was. You’re a part of this. Of us.” Fitz nods, agreeing with her even though he’s still not totally sure what this or us is, the exact meaning of all of it. He just leans across the tight space between them, tugging with the arm he still has around Trip’s back, so he can kiss him, trace his bottom lip with his tongue. He tastes like frosting and… well, more frosting really, and Fitz is laughing when they pull apart, the three of them all crowded and twisted and tangled together. Like they were meant to be.

“Come on then,” Jemma says, untangling them a bit so she can pull them both towards the exit, “Let’s go to bed, now that we’ve had our cake and figured everything out.”

They laugh as they stumble down to the hallway together, each of them reluctant to completely let go of the other two, pulling them close so they can press kisses against any patch of skin or clothing they can reach, and Fitz thinks that nothing has ever felt as much like home as this moment does. As these two people do. He’s pretty sure they’d agree with him.