AN: I own nothing. If you enjoy it please let me know. I may have more in mind. Many thanks as always to M!
Jemma had first met Grant at a barbecue John threw for his favored students.
She'd noticed him all evening. He'd been so bloody charming and always acclimated himself to each person's personality as he made the rounds. So when she wandered out to get some air and found him sitting on a downed tree stump, nursing a beer all by himself some distance from the party, she was utterly powerless to stay away.
"If you want some space, just let me know, but I had to compliment you. As someone who can't lie, I admire your ability to work the crowd so adeptly. You'll make a great specialist one day."
He stares out at the calm lake and swigs his beer. "You're John's favorite brain. Jemma Simmons."
"You can't lie. Huh?"
"Not well in any case." He doesn't move a muscle, merely grins to himself around his beer bottle and nods as if he'd decided on a path to take.
"In that case, what would you say if I told you I've wanted to fuck you since the moment you showed up at this party?"
"I'd say though that's very forward of you, I might let you if Garrett didn't have that fraternization rule."
"That rule is for other people." He cocks his head up at her and gives her the most beautiful smile she has ever seen. It's conspiratorial and lusty. It reaches up into his eyes and changes his whole face. Brooding, it had been pretty to look at but effused with merriment its really something to which Jemma could get used.
She crosses to the stump and perches herself on the tiny silver of space by his thigh. Feeling suddenly emboldened, she steals the beer from his hand and takes a sip. She doesn't miss his laser-like focus on her mouth. "Your move."
His resulting surprised bark of laughter has a lovely ring to it. Before she can think about how she may have cocked this up, he's kissing her.
Within six months, she'd known she wanted to wake up to that smile every day for the rest of her life. Garrett took the news well enough, which she found really odd until Grant mentioned that they were both invaluable to Garrett in their prospective fields.
Of course, Garrett quickly learns how to leverage her feelings for Grant into something he can use. He implies, without actually using the words, that Grant's safety is dependent on Jemma being a dutiful and unquestioning scientist.
She'd joined Hydra for it's freer views of science, but there's no freedom when Garrett decides to use her for Centipede, his own pet project. He finds a way to put her on the newly resurrected Phil Coulson's team specializing in those with powers. She has never particularly cared to work with others. Her old academy rival Leo Fitz will be on the team, which Jemma isn't too wild about, but John promises to make it up to her.
Her consolation prize is Grant – or rather, time with him.
He puts she and Grant on the team together. At first glance, it's everything she could want: unlimited time with her husband and new adventures in science. But then logic prevails: Grant is possessive of her and overprotective to his very core. All she can do is pray to all the Gods working with her that he doesn't blow his cover or worse, that they end up divorced.
John Garrett is not above brutally forcing their hands, she knows. They are his pawns. Jemma has known it almost all along – she'd figured it out early on, but unfortunately not early enough to extract herself from Garrett's leadership. Grant, however, is blinded by hero worship, though she dares not say that aloud.
She and Grant sit together on an oversized chair in Garrett's office when he tells them of their new assignment. Jemma leans into the warmth of Grant's side. Garrett's office is like a meat locker; it has something to do with cooling his failing electrical systems.
Grant is not happy; tension is coiled his every muscle. Despite that, his arm is affectionately looped about her shoulders. She threads their fingers together to still the restlessly drumming of Grant's on her shoulder. The contact seems to ease him a bit.
"I understand you wanting Jemma on site for any scientific discovery that might further your program but she's not trained for field work. She can't do this!" Grant grumbles as Garrett lays things out.
"Excuse me, I should hope I mistook the implications of what you just said," Jemma interrupts, getting to her feet.
John shrugs, uncaring of Jemma's ruffled feathers or Grant's simmering fury. "You wanted more time with her, now you've got it." He raises his drink to his lips. "Train her yourself. See that it's done right."
Grant cast his eyes over to her. His body is perfectly relaxed but his expression his harder than granite and his eyes could freeze Medusa in her tracks. Jemma holds up under his scrutiny.
"I can do it," she insists. "There's not a better team than the two of us and you know it."
"One scratch, Jem," he warns.
She grins brightly at him before leaping back into his lap. "We both know you won't let that happen."
Scratches, viruses, near death experiences by Grant's own hand - they all happen, in the end; the last, a last ditch play to hold her cover gone horribly, horribly wrong. There are regime changes after regime changes, and all there is left to do is meet clandestinely for desperate sex and to plan out their plays. After John's death, Grant ends up back in Hydra while she stays hidden in the new SHIELD. Grant had tasked her to remain uncover, since It was unlikely they could get anyone else in as deeply as she was, now that Hydra had revealed itself. It was smart to stay in place. It was also the hardest, most draining thing she'd ever done.
He sends her a specialist and ally. She abhors his implantation method: having Kara Palamas pose as his lover.
It hurts. A lot. She hadn't expected his ploy to make her heart ache.
Seeing him with Kara makes her want to vomit, to cry until her eyes fall out. She can't, though, and that makes her angry. She channels all her impotent rage into selling the lie of hating Grant and it must work because the team buys it. Hook, line, and sinker.
She even tearfully confesses to trying to kill him. In reality, they'd had a quickie in abandoned broom closet.
She'd slapped at his face and shoulders, though there was no need to sell it when they were alone. He'd easily blocked her shots and backed her into a shelving unit. He'd pressed his apologies and assurances into her skin with bruising kisses and love bites. By the time they'd finished, she was achy and completely certain she was the only one for him. In spite of its quickness, it was a release they'd both needed desperately in the end.
He's supposed to be torturing her for information about the planet she'd been trapped on. She gives a few screams while he pokes at a pig carcass with a cattle prod to sell the sounds.
"I know Malick wants you to spearhead the Maveth Project and bring It back to earth, Grant. I'm not stupid. But you can't. That Thing has no allegiance to anything but destruction. It will kill us all. Don't bring it back. I'm not being moral love, just realistic." Her voice is hoarse from screaming, so it makes her whisper especially low as he steps into the gap of her thighs where she sits on a metal table. "Promise me, Grant."
"I promise, baby." He leans into kiss her. "You're getting extremely good at lying. I'm proud."
"Well, I'm not lying now. Be careful and come back for me."
"I will." The words brush her lips milliseconds before his touch hers.
She's waited months and months for this kiss. She'd tried replacing him with Will and even Fitz to a smaller degree and it hasn't worked. She'd felt nothing in comparison to the passion she feels in this moment. In the hard desperate way his lips slant over hers, the careful way his hands cradle her face. The taste of him fills her up like sunlight filling a once dark room.
She's holding on to him so tightly the leather of his jacket creaks under her grasp. She regretfully breaks contact and drags in a breath. "Do we have time?" she whimpers out.
"We'll make time." The tightly punctuated words are pressed hurriedly into her jawline.
They are redressing as Malick walks in and Jemma wants to shoot him for distracting her from the sight of Grant's chest disappearing beneath a clean shirt.
"You'll be heading up the men to lead Maveth home," Malick orders as much as Jemma's suspected.
"The lovely Missus will accompany you," he tacks on.
"No, I'm afraid she won't. That's final." Grant says concretely, knowing how she feared that hellish planet.
"Who else do you expect to guide you?"
She slides down off the table and straightens her rumpled jumper. "The last man you fed to the belly of the beast should do well enough. Will Daniels is alive. We became...close."
Grant scowls but plays it off. Knowing that she'd thought she'd been trapped there, her life on earth over and her vows therefore with it, made it easier for him to accept, though she doubts Grant will allow the other man to make the return trip.
"And I'd planned to let Fitz sacrifice himself in a bout of unrequited love. Either way, I'll get it done."
So Fitz will finally pay for his misplaced crush as well, though she imagines as not as severely because, despite the rivalry and unresolved sexual tension toward her on Fitz's part, Grant likes the guy. He is a bit like a loyal happy puppy. Jemma likes him, too, as much as she'd tried not to do so.
She stays as close to the action as she can until she's forced back onto the bus by Mack, who is interim SHIELD Director until Coulson returns from his interplanetary vendetta against her husband. Things with that man are getting a tad out of hand. You'd think Rosalind had been the proverbial love of Coulson's life and not a handy lay.
Grant was merely paying them back for the loss of his agent and acting on his frustrations at the being unable to be with his lover – though the team still ascribes this role to Kara, Jemma knows who he's truly missing.
She waits to see Grant come on to the new bus, but he doesn't. They think she is crying over Will - and maybe some part of her is - but the part of her soul currently shattering belongs solely to Grant.
She wails with grief. Fitz holds her up, and Skye latches onto her, too.
In the silence of the lab, she gets out of Fitz what happened.
"Will died getting you through the portal, I merely disabled Maveth from being able to use his body."
She nods. She hopes it was a fairer death than Grant would have parceled out.
Fitz stares at the soldering gun in his hand.
"Regardless of whatever else he was, he was my husband, Leo," she pushes, gentle yet firm.
"Coulson killed him."
The soul searing rage she feels wants to climb from her body in a horrified scream, but she shoves it deep down. Coulson will die bloody at her hand for this one day soon. God. She really wants to cry. She shoves that away, too.
"There is no other way to put it, Jemma. They fought, Ward was defenseless. We could have just left him, we should have... and...Coulson crushed his chest cavity."
She can't help the shocked sound of horror that escapes her. He's never coming back for her, never getting her out of the torture that has become the team. The only person she has ever completely loved is dead. She knew that, but to also know he must have felt fear in his final moments leaves her bereft.
She comes to a decision.
She tosses her badge on to his desk as though it were dead rat. "I quit."
Coulson looks up at her in utter shock.
"Grant was many, many, complicated things but he was never a coward. That's all you are, a coward. Only a coward could dare to kill a defenseless man." Jemma lip trembles but she refuses to let her voice shake even a little. "His life was not yours to take. I don't care who you were shagging. He was my husband, it was me he wronged the most. It was my call. I respected you, despite it all, but that is gone now. I'm done with this godforsaken agency. He had allies, you know? I'd say good luck, but you don't deserve it."
She turns and walks out.
She goes to their favorite safe house in Belize to grieve and sleep. Some weeks later, there is a knock at the door. She opens it to find Gideon Malick, but he doesn't let her close it in his face like she tries.
"Mrs. Ward, I require your assistance."
"I'm a widow or didn't you hear? Thanks to you, it's just Simmons now."
"Not exactly, sweetheart." Malick smiles, a quick flash of teeth.
He moves aside and there's Grant filling up the doorway. Her gut instinct is to fling herself into his arms but something is different. The way he carries himself, his ever present aura of self importance, is gone. In its place is a stiffness as if he no longer fits beneath his pallid skin.
He cocks his head at her as if he's a wolf who'd just found prey in its sights. There is endless darkness in the eyes that crawl up her body. It - that Thing - is in her husband's body.
"The only prey to ever escape me, how befitting you are this body's greatest avarice. Baby is your preferred endearment, correct?"
The world tilts on it's axis.
The base they take her to had been Grant's baby, it was a bit hodgepodge. He was so proud of it, always telling her in their communications that it definitely needed her touch but that it had potential to be like the Sandbox, where they lived.
"The perfect city to raise a family in." The voice comes from behind her, and the warmth in it is comforting in it's deception. The timbre glides along her spine leaving chills in its wake. It's like he's using Grant's mind to read her own.
Sadly, it is only his voice.
"Malick, if you wish for me to be of any service at all, please see to it your meat puppet stops pilfering my husband's memories."
Malick eyes her and says nothing. Maveth laughs the way Grant used to when he was surprised she'd beat him at his own game; whether it be scrabble or sex, Grant hated to lose his edge.
"I should kill you for demeaning me as something so inconsequential as a puppet, my tiny fighter." Maveth remarks finally moving still quite stiffly from the doorway to come round and squat before where she sits.
He looks at her like she's a puzzle, like she's the most fascinating thing he's seen, but also like she's something to break. He could not do the job on the planet. He will not do it now.
Malick clears his throat. "The host system cannot - handle -the inhuman energy of our friend here. You will build a new containment system for him."
"And if I refuse?"
"Let's just say I do not have John Garrett's sentimentality. You will comply with the demands put before you, Mrs. Ward. That it is inevitable. The ease with which it happens is up to you."
"I think I should like a drink. Before I begin," Jemma allows. She will not be made compliant. For her, that it is a fate worse than death.
"Grant always said, you were even smarter than you were beautiful. He was right," Malick says smugly.
Malick forces her into examining It. There's a huge, blackened indent in Grant's chest, where Coulson had done his worst. His skin is greying, a starved off-bluish white. Despite that, the body has an otherworldly warmth radiating off it.
The eyes she'd loved, once, are now sunken in, haunted, and completely lifeless.
She runs her finger tips over every wound she had ever patched, bullet grazes and holes, cuts, scrapes. Grant's chest that rattles with each breath It takes, like sandpaper scraping against his sternum. It never moves and that causes a deep dread to settle in Jemma's bones.
Grant was ticklish. Maveth doesn't seem to have that problem.
In a last ditch effort to believe that somehow, some way, Grant was still there, Jemma checks for a pulse. She finds none.
A monster resides in her soulmate's decomposing body.
"Malick better be ready to search high and low for you, Maveth. I need GH-325."
He only shrugs carelessly. "You shall figure it out I'm sure. Though I do see why you were this host's favorite and most successful mission."
Before she can stop herself, she slaps him, hard. "I was not assignment."
Her anger amuses him. "You were, in the beginning." He cocks Grant's head at her again, as if the idea of heartbreak was new to him. "Then you became his prized possession."
She tries to recoil. His voice pitches low and sultry. "Nothing and no one could ever feel as good as you." He smirks at her, reaching up to brush the hair from her eyes.
The rage bubbles up so fast and fierce it steals her breath and cements her resolve. She was going to get the thing out of Grant and then she was going to fucking kill it.
Malick, Hydra, and SHIELD can all go to hell. They've made an enemy of her, an idiotic, deadly, and irreversible action.
"I'll only say this once more, as you are clearly the king idiot of the inhuman race. Stay out of my husband's mind," she orders.
Malick and Maveth merely smile smugly, unphased and unknowing of what is coming. She starts plotting.
Creating the body will be easy enough; Centipede is finally useful to her. She re-engineers the Incentives program schematics to work as a neuro-interface for Maveth's consciousness and she knows just where to put the kill switch. John Garrett was good for something after all.