He runs into the room during the aftermath.

Fitz is sitting in the center of the room with tears streaming down his face with Skye lying limply in his lap. He barely looks up when Ward runs through the doors to the lab.

"Where is she?"

Fitz stares at him blankly with watery eyes.

Moments earlier Doctor Jemma Simmons had knocked out Skye from behind and held Doctor Leo Fitz at gunpoint. She had offered them their lives in return for letting her leave the Bus with everything she needed peacefully, while he had been locked up in the control room, forced to watch her leave.

"Where is she, Fitz?"

He resists the urge to grab Fitz and shake him violently. Since the door unlocked, it had taken him two minutes to sprint down the lab. She couldn't have been far away. She couldn't be. If Fitz could just pull himself together long enough to tell him which direction she took off in, maybe he could track her down.

"Jemma," Fitz moans slowly.

"Fitz, goddamn it," Grant shouts. "Where is she?! Where the hell is she?"

"I don't know," Fitz mutters brokenly. "I don't know."


Dealing with Fitz and Skye is the hardest, and it becomes unofficially his job.

With Fury dead, and Shield in disarray, Coulson takes the lead of what is left of Shield with May tentatively at his side. Despite their tenacious peace, they spent most of their time arguing with one another on how to proceed. And neither of them have time for the junior agents crumbling next to him.

Taking care of them becomes Grant's job.

Fitz retreats within himself, barely speaking to anyone. He only comes out of his bunk when he receives a direct order. He barely eats, only when it becomes nearly impossible to function. On the third day after Jemma leaves, he manages to find the liquor cabinet and the permanent stench of vodka begins to follow him everywhere. He's angry, constantly. He practically screams at Grant when Grant suggests that he take a break with the alcohol.

Skye follows him around like a zombie. She looks terrible like she hasn't slept in nights. She can't stop talking either; she keeps pestering him with questions of "Why?" like he could magically produce the answer for why Simmons would betray them.

The worst is the day that Skye poses the question to Fitz.

He had been across the room fetching a tool for a sullen half drunk Fitz, when Skye's garbled mechanical question floated towards Fitz. He was sure that Skye had barely realized whom she had been posing the question to, and probably thought it was him.

"I don't know," Fitz shouts at her. "The Simmons I know would never betray us to Hydra. She had values and morals. She had a bloody code. She was more interested in the science rather than politics. She didn't believe in this new world bullshit. The Simmons I knew would have never knocked you unconscious, she would never point a gun at me."

Skye flinches backwards at the memory and Grant starts towards him.

"But that was the Simmons I knew," Fitz deflates suddenly. He pauses for a moment, "I guess I never really knew Simmons at all."

"None of us did," Skye whispers.


He barely deals with the betrayal himself, it's hard enough managing Fitz and Skye's hurt.

He supposes he doesn't get the monopoly on the hurt feelings. Fitz was her best friend and Skye was getting so close to her. So for the most part, he keeps his emotions on the topic under lock and key.

In retrospect, they knew very little about each other.

He knows that she has a very specific tea order. Just a bit of milk with two spoons of brown sugar. He knows that she works best at late night and early morning. He knows that she had nightmares after she jumped out of the plane, and she didn't sleep for days.

He knows that the first time they talked, that they actually talked, was two nights after she jumped out of the plane.

She had been in the lab, writing something in a worn down notebook.

"You're not going off to bed?"

She looked up at him, caught off guard. "In a few," she assured him.

He knew that he's supposed to nod and walk off. It's not his place to police her. But he can't help it, as he stepped into the lab. He waited a few moments until she noticed him again.

"You don't have to wait for me," she murmured, closing the notebook.

"I know," he said simply.

She got up with a sigh and moved to walk past him up the steps. He stopped her.

"My first mission," he began slowly. "I was supposed to shoot a target. He was," he trailed off for a moment, "not a good person. And I kept telling myself that as I pulled the trigger. I had nightmares for days afterwards. It didn't matter that I did what I thought was right," he sighed, "I couldn't sleep."

"How did you get over it?" She looked at him so sincerely, as if she believed he truly had the answer to that the question.

"I didn't," he said simply. "But I came to terms with it. I did my job. So did you. It's okay to be afraid."

She looked towards the cargo bay, and then back at him. "I wish it were that simply Agent Ward," she smiled sadly at him.


Fitz nearly kills himself a few nights after she leaves.

Skye finds him lying in a pile of his own vomit in the middle of the night when she woke up and screams at the top of her lungs until everyone on the Bus wakes up.

"Fitz," she mutters brokenly, cradling his head in her lap, and it reminds Grant eerily of when Simmons left them and it had been Fitz cradling her in his lap.

None of them are qualified to help him, so while May turns the plane around to the nearest hospital, he moves Fitz to the lab feeling sorely inadequate. Skye becomes more and more hysterical, finally grabbing his shirt and shaking him begging him to do something goddamn it. Coulson drags her off, promising that he'll take care of her.

And Grant misses Jemma. Jemma would know what to do, Jemma wouldn't have let this happen to Fitz.

In the end it's Grant who stay with Fitz until the medics come aboard. It's Grant who stays while they pump Fitz's stomach and pepper Grant with questions of how this happened. It's Grant who lies awake the whole night next to Fitz, making sure that nothing happened to him while he slept.

It was Grant's face that Fitz saw the next morning. It's Grant who tells Fitz what happened, how he drank himself to the brink of death. It was Grant who saw the look of disappointment in Fitz's eyes.

It was Grant who lied to everyone afterward; Fitz was going to be okay. He would make sure of it.


He didn't really interact with Simmons again until the incident with the Berserker, when everything in him was brought to the surface in violent white-hot rage.

He hated himself a lot when the rage melted away.

He apologized to May, Skye and Fitz first. He knew that the words mean very little in the face of his actions and words, but they accepted it nonetheless. Apologizing to her ended up being a bit more tricky, because he hadn't actually said anything to her. Yet he felt like he's disappointed her in some way.

He had promised to be there for her, and then allowed himself to be compromised hours later.

He met her again in the lab after everyone's gone to bed.

He doesn't wait for her to notice him before he began. "Simmons," he started slowly, "I wanted to apologize for what happened today."

"Hm," she looked up at him. "Oh," she paused for a moment. "I don't think that's necessary. You weren't exactly in control of your actions."

He scoffed at that, because it's an easy excuse. He wasn't in control, but he should have been. He should have been stronger, like May.

She got up and walked towards him. "You weren't yourself," she assured him, placing two hands solidly on his chest. "No one blames you for that."

He looked down. "And what if parts of it was me? Parts that I try very hard to bury underneath it all."

Maybe he should have stayed and drank with May, it'd be easier than actually talking about this with Simmons.

She smiled ruefully at him, "We all have a bit of darkness in us, Agent Ward. There's no point in apologizing for that. We'd be apologizing forever then."


Teams start to come aboard the bus in droves.

Younger agents fill the lab, as they bustle around trying to find Simmons, to find Hydra. Fitz complains for days about their incompetence, while Skye tries to assure him that they're here to help.

Grant starts to avoid the lab as much as he can. Because when he is there, he can feel their stares burning into him. He can practically hear their thoughts.

"He should have known."


He ended up in her bed not long after his apology.

One moment he was walking her back to her room, the next he was leaning towards her to kiss her softly. She pulled back, looks at him for a long time, before she walked through her door, leaving it slightly propped open behind her.

The whole thing was hurried because they only had a few more hours in the hotel, and because he was not sure what he's doing, but he was a bit drunk and she was urging him to just let go.

Afterwards, he does not sure how to proceed. She lies beside him, curled into his side. "Go to sleep," she murmured half asleep, "We'll deal with it in the morning.


It's Agent Triplett who asks in the end.

"I met her only once," he begins. "Back when Agent Skye was injured."

Grant wants to tell Triplett to stop talking, but he doesn't.

"She seemed so innocent, but," Triplett trails off, "the way she was around Skye, you could see that she was willing to do whatever it took."

"She was like that," Grant replies roughly.

Triplett laughs suddenly, "I thought she was such a horrible liar."

Grant resists the urge to say that she was, because obviously she wasn't. She was a better liar then all of them.

"You really didn't see it coming?" Triplett asks turning towards him. "I heard that the two of you had something."

He doesn't actually mean to punch Triplett, he means to shut him up, but it works either way.


She was wearing his shirt the morning after.

He didn't know if she did it on purpose, but she was wearing his shirt while padding around the room looking for other articles of clothing. He paused for a moment to observe her. He had woken up with the sole intention of telling her it wouldn't work. It wasn't supposed to work between them. They were Shield agents, and interpersonal relationships were strictly forbidden.

Every thought of 'this can't work' flies out of his head at the sight, and he promises himself that this time it will work. He will make it work.

He dragged her lightly towards him as she giggled in his arms; he kissed her softly to quiet her. They only have a few moments alone together, after all.


He doesn't tell anyone that they were together, but he knows that Coulson and May know.

They never attempted to sneak around their superiors and Fitz and Skye were too preoccupied to notice.

So it feels like a slap in the face when May calls him to a meeting and announces that every relationship she had on the Bus was probably a fake, and he needed to accept that for the good of the team.

He tries not to take it too personally; he knows her speech is mostly directed at Skye and Fitz who stare blankly forward.

"Doctor Jemma Simmons was a highly trained Hydra agent. She was planted in our team because she was capable of manipulating people to do what she wanted them to do. It is not anyone's fault, she had us all fooled," she shoots Grant a look which he ignores. "But we can't let her fool us any longer."

"What do you mean?" Skye asks brokenly. A few days after the betrayal she had maintained that something was wrong about the situation, that Simmons hadn't really betrayed them, she couldn't have. Fitz had chewed her out when he found out.

"Simmons is relying on the idea that we'll still care about her," May's face hardens a bit, "We cannot prove her right."

Fitz scoffs a bit, "She can rot in hell for all I care." Grant can tell he doesn't mean it, because his jaw is clenched too tightly.

May continues, ignoring Fitz. "She found a way to get close to all of us, and we cannot allow her to use those relationships to trick us into letting her go."

She stares at them until they all nod along slowly.

She softens just a bit. "We'll make her pay," she promises them.


It should make him feel better, but it doesn't. It makes him feel worse.

He doesn't actually want her to pay, not at all.

(Because there's still a part of him that cares about her so much, a part of him that could never hate the woman that laid in bed with him, tracing patterns over all his scars.)

He just wants to know why.

He doesn't really care why she joined Hydra. He assumes that she probably believes in their twisted New World nonsense.

He cares why she chose to join Coulson's team. Why she chose to sleep with him. Why she pretended to care about him. Why the hell she made him fall in love with her.

He wants to know why she jumped out of the plane when she thought that she might kill all of them. Because she obviously didn't care much about their lives to begin with. Why give a crap at all?

He once told Skye that he was supposed to be the one protecting them. He wants to know why she didn't warn him that the person he was supposed to protect them from was her. He wants to know why she didn't tell him until it was too late.

While there's a part of him that loves her, there's a small part of him that grows larger every day, at the sight of a catatonic Skye or a drunken angry Fitz, that begins to hate her for what she did to them, to him.


Agent Garrett is put in charge of the investigation into Jemma Simmons when it becomes apparent that Coulson and May are too emotionally attached to lead an investigation on Simmons.

He interrogates them all separately, starting with Coulson and May.

When he goes to interrogate a terrified Skye, Grant intervenes. "Let me go first," he says placing a hand on the other man's chest to stop him.

Garrett eyes him, but then nods in agreement. Grant's a more valuable source of information then all of them.

It feels almost strange to be on the other side of an interrogation table, and Garrett doesn't make it any easier by smugly at him.

"Agent Ward," he drawls out, "long time no see."

Grant clenches his teeth. "It has been awhile."

"Let's see that last time we saw each other, you were leaving my team and going to join Coulson's little experiment," Garrett looks so smug. "I can't quite remember what my last words were to you, do you?"

Grant stays quiet.

"Oh right, I told you not to go, that this would end badly." Garrett's eyes harden. "And look, I was right."

"You're not asking any questions, sir." Grant grounds out.

Garrett raises an eyebrow, "I'm just trying to establish a rapport with you, it has been so long since we've seen each other after all. I'm just trying to assess how you've changed." He opens a file in front of him, "I've already heard quite a lot from your current superiors.

Grant shoots a look at the file in front of Garrett, but refuses to rise to the bait.

"Especially about your attachment to Simmons," Garrett says. "She's quite pretty, I'm not surprised."

"Simmons was part of my team. I got to know her just as well as I got to know Coulson, May, Fitz or Skye." He stares blankly ahead at the wall behind Garrett.

"Agent May seems to think that you got to know Simmons a bit better than the rest of," Garrett leans towards him. "Agent Ward, withholding information isn't just a crime at this point, it's treason. So if you know anything, now would be the time to come out and admit it."

"Simmons never told me anything," he growls.

"Really, I find that hard to believe." Garrett stands up and walks towards him, so that he's standing right behind him. "Considering the fact that the two of you were sleeping together," he leans close and whispers the last part in Grant's ear.

"What Simmons and I had was personal, we didn't discuss," he starts as calmly as he can.


"Oh don't give me that bullshit," Garrett interrupts loudly backing away from Grant. "You were fucking her, you can't say you didn't know."

He clenches his fist, and breathes in once, twice. Then he stands up, towering over Garrett.

"I will not deny that Simmons and I slept together, at the time it meant something. But now it means nothing. We never discussed work, and I know nothing more than anyone else does. If I did, I would have come forward with the information a long time ago. No one wants to take her down more than I do," he turns around and storms off.

"This interrogation is over," he calls out over his shoulder.


She used to promise him forever.

She used stand on her tiptoes and lean into his chest, smiling up at him brilliantly. "You and me," she'd say, "forever."

Forever just got a lot shorter.


Fitz becomes obsessed with finding her and bringing her to justice.

Skye helps where she can, and retreats within herself the rest of the time.

Grant follows them both, hovering over them, failing to protect them from things he can't control.

"Do you think we'll find her?" Skye murmurs to him one day while they're sitting in the lab. Fitz is pouring over a microscope in front of him, muttering something under his breath.

"I don't know," Grant says honestly.

"Do you want to find her?" Skye looks over at him. He doesn't expect the question, and he stares at her silently for a long moment.

"I don't know that either." He mumbles finally, turning away from her.

"I don't," she says softly. "I don't want to find her," she clarifies. "It's not going to make anything better," she says simply, jumping off the counter she was sitting on. "She's not going to say anything that makes this right." She shakes her head slightly and walks over to Fitz.

She places two gentle hands on Fitz's shoulder, and the other man caves slightly at her touch. She murmurs something in his ear and he nods along with her. She tugs him lightly away, pulling him towards the stairs, when they pass him they shoot him brittle smiles and Fitz pats his shoulder.

But then they are gone.

And he's alone.


They followed a lead that Skye picks up on to the edge of South America.

The base was supposed to be a minor one for weapons storage, which is what the emails that Skye had hacked implied. They had infiltrated the base with two back up teams. They had been the back up team, with Garrett leading the charge.

It's a bleeding soldier that reveals that she's there.

"Code Red," he coughs in a receiver, as they walk towards him. "Remove the biochemist. They are here."

Fitz runs towards the half dead soldier and grabs his bloody collar. "What did you say?" He spits out.

The soldier gives them a bloody smile. "Doesn't matter, she'll be gone by now."

Fitz drops the man and takes off running down the corridor.

He runs after Fitz, even though his heart is pounding in his chest, and he's not sure he can survive seeing her again.

They find her in a conference room. Fitz sees her first from far away and screams out her name, calling her attention to them.

She looks different. Her gaze has lost any previous warmth. She's wearing all black and strapped up with guns and her brown hair is up in a tight ponytail. She looks at them long and hard for a moment.

There's a man standing next to her. He speaks first. "This is the other scientist? The one you spoke of."

"Yes," she says quickly. She doesn't make eye contact with either of them.

The man starts towards Fitz, and Grant takes off running towards the larger man. They clash before the larger man can reach Fitz. Grant shouts at Fitz over his back "Get out of here."

It only takes a second of distraction for himself to feel a small prick in the back of his neck. As his vision goes dark, he can see Fitz sprint away.


He wakes up in a small room.

It's not exactly a prison; it looks like a small room. There's a cot and a door that he assumes leads to a latrine. He's not chained up. He attempts to move to sit upright, but he can't move. He's frozen.

"Enjoying the paralysis, Agent Ward?" Agent Hand calls out to him sitting in the corner looking entirely too satisfied. "It is a little cocktail Agent Simmons was kind enough to develop for us. I have to admit it makes the job a whole lot easier."

He ignores her words, staring up at the ceiling. He doesn't know if they've moved him. They probably wouldn't risk keeping him in the same facility. And they would have removed his trackers since Simmons knew exactly where they were. He could be anywhere.

"You can't stay quiet forever," she says matter of factly. "I know that you can speak."

When he remains quiet again, she doesn't seem entirely too put off by the action.

"Or perhaps it's a matter of who you will speak to. Maybe you won't speak to me, but you'll speak to Agent Simmons."

When Jemma steps through the door, it's like a knife slicing him open. She looks straight at him with emotionless eyes. She's not wearing any guns, but she's still dress in all black. "Hello Grant," she says simply, staring at him.

He can't speak, even if he wanted to.

He wants to tell her to not call him Grant, because it doesn't feel right anymore, but he can't even open his mouth.

Agent Hand sighs, "I was hoping we'd be able to do this the easier way. It's such a hard thing to force cooperation. Simmons, did you bring it?"

Jemma's eyes flash for a mere second before turn blank again. "Of course," she says holding out a syringe.

Agent Hand grabs the syringe and heads towards Grant. "Now I can promise that this will hurt quiet a lot, but you can understand the necessity, we don't all have time to wait for you to decide to open your mouth."

He had been tortured before. Agent Hand's concoction is no exception. She injects him, and immediately pain shoots through his veins, it's intense and he resists the urge to yell.

What's different, however, is the fact that she's still a few feet away from him staring blankly at him. He's taken classes that teach him techniques to avoid torture, but none of those classes dealt with how to handle the woman you love standing a mere few feet away from you watching you suffer. He feels a surge of anger at her.

"Jemma," he rasps out when the first wave of pain dies down, "Why?"

She doesn't even flinch.


After the wave of the first injection dies down, Hand starts talking again, "Fitz was the easiest, of course. Poor boy was so lonely at the Academy. He was practically begging for a friend when Simmons came along. Skye was easy as well. She was so trusting. Coulson and May only needed a badge, which was easy enough.

"You were her greatest threat you know." She sounds contemplative, almost as if she were talking to herself. "If you didn't believe her whole-heartedly, then her cover was blown. We thought her jumping out of the plane was enough to convince everyone on that place, but she insisted on taking it a step further. It was her idea to seduce you," she pauses for a moment, shooting a fond look at Simmons. "Genius, actually."

Simmons looks down at the praise.

"She's always been our best agent," Agent Hand smiles at her.

She turns back towards Grant, "If it weren't for the fact that you've just been fooled, I'd say you have excellent taste."


Hand gets upset around the time that the second injection begins to wave off.

"The Clairvoyant said you would be tough to break," she huffs out, "but I didn't think you would stay so strong in the face of intense pain. I underestimated you, Agent Ward."

He's weak, and tired, but still he asks, "You're not the Clairvoyant?"

They had assumed she was when she had disappeared Shield, leaving it's ruin in her wake.

She laughs softly, "Oh you poor thing." She raises another injection and he tenses in anticipation.


Hand gets what she wants in the end.

She injects him with the pain serum a third time before she breaks out the Sodium Pentothal. The words spill from his mouth, and they are mostly meaningless. He had been out of the loop for most of Coulson and May's planning. He hadn't bothered to pay attention after Simmons left. He stopped caring.

He had never appreciated Shield's secrecy more.

But she gets some information, and it's enough for her to leave him alone for the evening, tied up to the bed with the latest injection coursing through his veins.

He tries to make eye contact with Jemma as she leaves, but she avoids his eyes for the first time.


It's hard to reconcile the Jemma of before with the Simmons that stands with Hydra.

The Jemma of before used to smile and laugh. She radiated warmth and kindness. She would sneak into his bunk and night, and curl into him. She'd steal his shirts, and claim her innocence when he noticed that he was missing quite a few shirts.

Simmons is cold and hard. And Fitz was right; they don't know her at all.

He didn't know her at all.

He thinks that's the worst part.


"Forever is a long time," he warned her one night, as she laid across her chest.

"It's not nearly enough time," she breathed out.

He looked at her questioningly.

She smiled sadly up at him, "You'll get it one day."

At the time he assumed that she was talking about the fact that they were both Shield agents that put their lives on the line daily. But he was wrong.

He only gets it later on.


It happens at night, and it feels like his life comes into full circle.

The door creeps open, and he's lying awake. He's not sure if it's morning or Hand has another treatment to try on him, but he tenses up regardless. He recognizes her petite figure slip through the door, and his nails dig into the palms of his hands.

She doesn't say anything, doesn't offer any explanation, as she scampers to his side and makes quick work of the ropes biting into his wrist.

"The serum should wear off completely in an hour, but you'll be able to move well enough for right now. You need to run, it's the only way you'll put some distance between by the time Hand notices you're gone." Her voice is coarse, but it's the first time he's heard it in a while and it sounds marvelous.

"Jemma, please," he begs. He doesn't know what he's begging for, or why he's begging. But he feels like maybe she'll understand.

"I'm sorry," she breathes out, meeting his eyes, looking like a strange mix of the Jemma of before and the Simmons of Hydra. A person torn between two worlds. She stands up suddenly. "Take the back route and follow the left path until you reach the door, and then run right. They're waiting for you."

As she walks away, he doesn't have the strength to lift his arm to grab her wrist.

Or he doesn't want to stop her.

He's not sure anymore.


Skye tosses herself into his arms when he reaches them.

They were at the edge of the forest surrounding the base, nearly thirty minutes on foot away. They spot him first, and lower the cargo hold as they come spilling out of the plane screaming his name.

Skye sobs openly, blubbering about how terrified she was, how she couldn't lose him too. She clings to him as he soothes her, looking around at the others.

Fitz is pale and shaking, and apologizes profusely. He swears a lot of things in the heat of the moment, to never run off, to never drink again, to never call Grant an arse.

May and Coulson look at him sadly, as if they knew exactly what happened.

He extracts himself, promising to brief them all later, but he just needs a moment.


He should go back to his bed or to the lab to be examined by the doctor.

He goes to her bunk instead.

He really is a masochist.


The first time she let him in her bunk was right after Coulson was kidnapped.

She had been working round the clock with Fitz to find some clue, any clue, as to Coulson's whereabouts. And he had been worried about her. She had seemed uncomfortable around the other agents, as if she wasn't sure of herself.

(In retrospect, it should have been a clue.)

He had forced her into bed to get some rest. Practically dragged her down the hallways kicking and screaming.

"You're no use to Coulson like this," he throws back at her over his shoulder. "You need to sleep."

They stopped in front of her bunk. He has no intention of sleeping too; just making sure that she got some rest. But as she opened the door, she pulled him through along with her.

Her bunk was the same size as his, and the same layout, but it was different. More homely. It was filled with pictures and little trinkets. Her bed had a fluffy green and white spread with a few decorative pillows and a large stack of books on top of it.

She moved the books to the side and flopped into the bed. "Lay down with me," she said patting the space beside her.

"I have to leave soon," he warned her.

"Just for a bit," she said softly.

She curled into him as he got in the bed beside her. As she fell asleep, she mumbled something under her breath that sounded a lot like "Sorry."


Her room is the same.

He wonders, as he lies down in her bed, why they don't pack her stuff up? She's not coming back, and if she did, she'd probably not be allowed to stay on the Bus. Fitz and Skye probably wouldn't be able to do it. And the job would most probably fall down to him. But as he looks around her pictures, it feels wrong. It feels so wrong.

His eyes land on a picture right by her bed. It was a picture of the two of them. He had been holding the camera at the two of them, and she had her arms wrapped tightly around his neck, their faces squeezed together in the frame. He doesn't even know when she had time to get that framed.

It was the happiest he had ever been.

He shakes his head. It feels wrong.


Throughout the briefing he barely holds on to his racing thoughts. He struggles to explain what happened, what Hand asked for, and what he gave her. The memories are hazy, a side effect of the torture drug, he supposes.

Coulson and May send him pitying looks throughout the entire ordeal, while Skye clings to his arms as if he would disappear if she let go of him for a second, and Fitz stares at him stonily.

He doesn't mention that it was Simmons who cut him loose. He pretends that he managed to loosen the knots and slipped out of there without anyone noticing he was gone.

He waits until after the briefing to talk to Coulson.

"Sir, I need a favor."


Coulson grants him access to the more restricted files of Shield with a, "I hope you know what you're doing."

He spends days combing through the information, finding nothing. He doesn't know what he expects to find, because just because she saved him, doesn't mean anything in the long run. Perhaps it had been a moment of weakness, a moment where she revealed that the team had meant more to her, that he had meant more to her.

It's Skye who finds it in the end.

She's staring at the files over his shoulder one day before she points out the file, layered within another file and slaps the back of his head for being so blind.

"What is it?" She asks him. She looks better, like she's sleeping and eating better, since he got back. She almost looked like her old self.

(He wonders if it has to do with the fact that she's now sleeping in Fitz's bunk, who looks a lot better as well.)

"Nothing," he brushes off, shielding the screen with his back.

"It'd be faster if you let me do it," she calls out at his back. When he doesn't respond, she rolls her eyes and turns away from him.

The file is old, a few years old at least. And it only takes him a few lines to realize he's reading a file about Jemma Simmons. It starts when she was in the Academy when she was selected for a program called—

"What's Operation Red?" Skye asks loudly over his shoulder.

"Damn it, Skye," he slams the table and turns around to face her.

"Sorry, I couldn't temper my curiosity." She doesn't sound sorry at all. She continues to stare at his screen, "Wait, is this about Jemma?"

He sighs, rubbing his face. "Yes."

"Ward," she says slowly. "What's going on?"

"Jemma saved me," he admits unwillingly.

"What are you talking about?"

"I didn't escape Hand on my own. She let me go."

"Okay," Skye says slowly, "but I don't understand, are you?" She trails off.

"At first I thought that maybe it was a moment of weakness, but what if she," he stops suddenly, turning back to the computer. "What if she saved me on purpose?"

"Ward," she sighs, "you're not suggesting that Jemma is a triple agent?" She sounds almost sad for him.

"I," he trails off, "I'm not quite sure. I just need to know the truth."

Skye stays silent for a moment. "Okay fine," she says, "move."

"What?"

"This will go a lot fast if I'm the one doing this." She practically shoves him out of the chair. She scans through the computer, scrolling fast enough that he can't keep up. "Christ," she murmurs after a few moments.

"What?" He tries to follow along, "What did you find?"

She turns around to face him, "I think you might be right."


They find out that she wasn't who she said she was.

Again.

She was recruited into a secret Shield division during the Academy headed by Director Fury, who seemed to play a figurehead role more than anything. It involved her to get entangled with Hydra, to figure out how deep their network within Shield ran. It involved her to pretend to be a Hydra sleeper agent within Shield.

He rereads her file a lot. He reads about the naïve girl that was molded into what Hydra would want. He reads about how she chose her fields specifically to make her seem more attractive to them. He reads about how she was assigned to Coulson's team on purpose, because they would be the ones that were left, making her closer to the inside.

She was a double agent that worked for them.

She was a better liar than all of them.


Shield (or what's left of it) explodes after he finds out.

Fitz and Skye insist that they get her back. Because it's Simmons and it's a good thing if she's on their side, because they can use her for information. She'd be valuable to them, of course, spending so much time with Hand. She could tell them who the Clairvoyant was.

"This is Jemma," Skye enunciates, slapping her palms down on the holotable. "We're not just going to leave her there."

"No one is leaving her anywhere," Coulson says soothingly, while May glares stonily ahead.

"So then you agree, we're going to get her." Fitz says pulling up the building schematics. "Skye hacked into public records and was able to find out the old building plans for the building they were holding Ward in. She might still be there."

"We can't do that Fitz," May interjects.

"But you just said we're not leaving her," Skye practically whines.

May shoots Coulson a look, "We can't take her out of the mission now, she is too valuable an asset."

"What?" Skye spits out, turning towards Coulson.

"May's right," Coulson agrees. "Simmons being on the inside is our biggest lead to finding out who the Clairvoyant is. If we charge in there to pull her out, we risk blowing her cover ourselves."

"So you suggest we just sit on the sidelines, doing nothing," Fitz growls out.

"No," May says softly, "We do our part. We find the bastards that did this."


Skye corners him afterwards.

"You have to do something," she implores him.

He looks down at her. Part of him wants to assure that he will, that he won't let Jemma fall into Hydra. But he already has, and he couldn't do anything about it.

Since he had told Fitz and her about the extent of what he had discovered. They had been solely driven to find her. And part of him wanted to be right there with them. If he thought that bringing Jemma home was enough.

"I can't," he says softly.

"Why?" She stares up at him, "I know you want her home."

"I do," he agrees, "But," he sighs, "May has a point."

She flinches.

"If Jemma is the person she is in her files," he feels almost robotic saying those words, "then she knew the consequences of going undercover in Hydra, she knew what she had do, and we'd be doing her no favors pulling her out before she is ready to leave."

Skye stares at him for a long moment, "I," she starts, taken off guard.

He walks past her before she can say what she's thinking. Because he's thinking it to.

He doesn't even know who he is anymore.


Part of him admires her.

He's a specialist. He's been trained to be dropped into situations that involve heavy subterfuge. He knows how to speak six languages because he needs to have that kind of knowledge in order to seamlessly blend into any role.

He knows that it takes work to blend into Hydra, complete and total devotion to the cause.

Despite their need to get her back, he knows that Skye and Fitz don't completely understand what Jemma has done. They talk in harsh whispers about the fact that she killed five Shield agents in a chemically explosion outside of Moscow. How she led them into numerous traps and dead ends. They don't know how to reconcile both versions of Jemma.

Neither does he. But he can admire her work, and that's what sets him apart from them.


They don't move on, but they move forward.

Fitz and Skye back off their investigation into the location of Jemma after he backs May and Coulson's decision. They don't stop their search for Jemma, but they slow down their efforts. Skye still has news alerts from the parts of the world that Hydra has been sighted, and Fitz continues to try to activate Jemma's tracker. Eventually Fitz and Skye are sent to the Hub to work on gathering intelligence on known Hydra associates.

May and Coulson shift into leadership positions. The Bus is permanently grounded. They are no longer just a team, but part of something larger.

He starts going on missions alone, again. He infiltrates Hydra bases as part of a larger team.

He doesn't learn to stop looking for her either.


He finds her outside of Prague.

The tip had come through an anonymous server, and Skye had forwarded it to him. I think it might be her, the email read.

She's slumped over a lab table, blood pooling from her stomach, bodies lying around her. She's still breathing, he can tell by the slow rise and fall of her chest, but her eyes are closed and she's so incredibly pale.

"We need a medic," his partner calls out over his shoulder.

"Jemma," he breathes out, rushing towards her.

Her eyes crack open, glassy with pain. She smiles softly at him, her lips are stained with blood.

"Grant," she mumbles under her breath. "You came."

"Jemma," he pleads with her, "hold on."

Her eyes close just as the medic runs in.


They wait outside until her surgery is over.

It's eerily similar to the time when Skye had been in the surgery room. Except last time, it had been Jemma who sat beside him, softly crying into his chest, holding his hand, and promising him that everything would be okay.

This time it was Fitz and Skye who flanked either side of him. It was Skye who sobbed lightly into her hands, and Fitz who asked him childishly if everything would be okay.

It was him who held both of their hands and promised them with a churning stomach that Jemma would be just fine.

They don't allow her visitors until she's briefed by Coulson.

Coulson comes out and warns them that she's not the same Jemma, that she's different. But he doesn't need the warning, he knows that he's walking into someone he doesn't know.

Skye and Fitz nod bravely, and he almost feels bad for them.

"Can we go see her?" Fitz asks.

Coulson nods, "One at a time."

"You should go first," Grant offers Fitz.

Fitz looks taken a back for a moment, before smiling at Grant in thanks. Skye follows after him.

He waits a moment, until Fitz and Skye are out of earshot. "How bad was it, Sir?"

He needs to know. He needs to know how he can help her. He couldn't do anything, he couldn't protect her from Hydra, he couldn't even save her. He could only try to fix what he let break.

Coulson avoids his eyes. "It will take some time for her to heal," he admits. He clasps a hand on Grant's shoulder, before he walks off.


Fitz and Skye leave after an hour.

They stare at him as they walk out, holding hands. They're waiting for him to stand up and walk past them into Jemma's room. Perhaps they're waiting for him to welcome back with open arms.

He's not sure what he's supposed to do. But he doesn't even know what he wants to do.

So he stays seated, as Fitz and Skye walk past him with pitying looks.


He waits until visiting hours are almost over and the hospital is almost empty save the night shift, before he sneaks into her room.

She's fast asleep, hooked up to many different machines. In sleep, she looks almost the same. He takes the seat pulled up by her bed, and leans back into the chair, watching over as she slept.

He would stay all night, forever, if she asked him to.


They don't talk at first.

He's too busy watching her with close eyes. Her face looked like it had aged so much in the time that had passed between them. Her forehead is permanently scrunched with stress lines whenever Fitz and Skye aren't in the room. When they are, her face smoothens out and she puts on a mask of happiness, pretending to be carefree, pretending to be the old her.

She's too busy trying to keep herself together.

They don't talk, because she can't lie to him, and she's not ready for him to call her out quite yet, and he's willing to wait until she's ready.

"Are you ever going to say anything?" She whispers softly to him one night.

He's sitting in the chair beside her bed that he's barely moved from in three days. His eyes are closed, but she can tell he's still awake.

"What do you want me to say," he whispers brokenly. Because he doesn't know what to say. He can't lie to her, she's lying enough for the both of them.

She remains quiet.

He doesn't know if it's his cue to apologize, to say sorry for all the broken promises on his end.

"Are you mad at me?" She sounds like a child in that moment. He opens his eyes as she turns towards him with an open vulnerable face. He can almost see the broken pieces of her laid out clearly for him.

"I'm furious." He wishes in that moment that he could lie to her, because as soon as the words are out, he can see the pieces of her break even more, like the splintering of glass. He reaches out for her hand. "You tricked me."

"I'm sorry," she mutters, turning away from him, pulling her hand away.

"I'm mad at myself more," he admits. "I'm upset that I broke my promise."

She turns back towards him with a questioning gaze.

"I promised to catch you if you fall," he smiles despite himself at the memory.

Her smile is more ruefully. "I was a different person, I don't need you to catch me." He can see through her lie clearly, the glass pieces are still visibly laid out on her face.

"I'm sorry," he grabs her hand.

"I'm sorry," she apologizes back. She pauses for a moment, looking unsure. "Do you think you could ever love me?"

"I never stopped," he admits. He doesn't know how she knows that he loved her. He never said anything. But she had always been able to read him very well.

She doesn't say anything, she doesn't even smile. Because it goes unsaid between them that if he could stop loving her, he would.

"If it means anything," she says with a bitter laugh. "I loved you too. I wasn't trying to deceive you."

"Everything you said was true?" He struggles to keep his face neutral, but it's all so cliché. He knows that she's not giving him excuses, and he won't take them.

She doesn't say anything. Not everything was true.

"If things were different," she says wistfully.

He smiles sadly at her. "If they were," he agreed with a slightly nod of his head.

Then he lets go of her hand.