AN: I own nothing. This story contains some non consensual sexual contact. If you are triggered by anything concerning invasions of personal space, altered mental states or unwanted touching or certain forms of physical contact please skip the content between the emboldened story dividers. The story title is borrowed from the Hayes Caril song Take Me Away! Thank you to my beta and you the lovely reader if you enjoy it...or hate it tell me comments feed my moody muse!-MM
Jemma wants nothing to do with that thing, less than nothing, really. She doesn't want Maveth anywhere near her but he seems to neither care or give much thought to her disdain.
Injecting Grant's body with GH-325 to preserve it until she can create a better host has brought the quite virulently back to life. It begins look like Grant again, feel like Grant. It even smells like Grant. It makes the line between man and beast blur to an alarming degree.
What keeps her grounded is that It never masters moving like Grant. It is never gracefully lethal the way Grant was; instead, it remains stiff and formal. Its speech patterns and vernacular are from a bygone era, as well.
He is never fully her husband. She vacillates between fear and relief over that every single day: relief because It cannot torture what isn't there, and fear because that means Grant is well and truly dead.
Her utilitarian tolerance of the Thing seems to gall It, since It is used to having everyone bow to its inescapable will. She remains unreachable to it out of sheer, unadulterated spite. Her insubordination finally catches up with her when the guards seize her. When a pair appear and escort her into a blacked out van, she is beyond terrified, but not for her safety. Her job is undone, left in an unstable situation, so each heartbeat trips over itself and her breath is tight in her lungs. She has to finish what she started. She has to.
When she is lead out of the van, none too gently, her blood runs cold. This was their beginning, hers and Grant's. She knows what It is aiming for, trying to break her through nostalgia. That Thing is fucking corrupting what belongs to her and her husband.
"Do take care with my beloved, gentlemen," It says, tone airy and dismissive, from the stump beside the lake. It's sipping Grant's favored brand of beer, wearing dirty combat camo pants and a sweat stained tank top. It likes to wear the things Grant died in. It's fucking morbid, and always makes Jemma want to rail at the clear taunt involved, buried beneath his twisted attempts to imitate the one she truly wants.
"This isn't going to work, Maveth." She leans against the tree farthest way from him, which isn't nearly far enough. Maybe forty feet of space, and she wishes for an entire universe.
"Maveth is the planet I was trapped on, baby. Our preferred designation is Hive." It sounds like Grant again, cocky and intimate. But it is just wrong.
"Not at all creepy," she mutters. "You're an insect, though. I remember that much from Hydra training. Are you closely related to the cockroach?" she retorts wryly.
"We're a conglomeration of intelligent parasites, baby. You're funny. I like funny."
"You understand my humor but not my dislike of you?"
"I like your - what is it the underling Malick called it? Spunk. I like spunk."
"You will not win me over by trying to become him. Call me baby one more time? I'll come at you with warhead laced in Raid, no matter whose body you reside in."
Her threat only causes him to look over at her and smile. It's utterly infuriating. She is going to enjoy killing It when the time is right.
"Oh but we will win, beloved. One cannot live half-starved on a barren planet for half a millennia without..." It gets up from the stump and carefully sets aside the beer bottle. It crosses to her and grabs her face, grip is like a steel vice. "Will power," It continues. "We do not give up, nor do we stop. You will be ours because we will it."
It lowers Grant's face and kisses her. Its lips are cold and hard, and he tastes like dust. Her stomach rolls. The hand not holding her face in place reaches down to grip her ass. She tries futilely to twist away from him.
"No need to hurry on our new host. We very much like this Grant Ward, he had good taste." One hand stays on her ass for an a condescendingly affectionate pat. The other sweep her her hair gently behind her ear. "Though we do not care for that beverage. The buzz is nothing compared to siphoning life force or powers."
Its grip stays firm as It holds her gaze clearly, undressing her mentally. Then, as suddenly as his power play began, it stops. It lets her go with a satisfied smirk.
It walks off, back turned to her. "You may stay here for a few more minutes, this body desires your peacefulness and we shall allow it for now. We shall see you at the days last meal. Dress accordingly."
It gives a final nods and leaves her with her guards. When It has disappeared, she finally gives up on the pretense of unaffectedness and slumps heavily into the tree, her palms scraping the tree bark.
His idea of dressing accordingly is hanging on her closet when she gets back to her quarters, set out for her in expectation.
It's a slinky black halter dress that has no back. She'd lusted after on her last trip to Paris with Grant. It's Valentino. Jemma never wore much in the way of fashion but this had been a thing of beauty. She had left the dress in its window, looking back once forlornly but thinking she hadn't had the body to carry it off. She'd had no clue Grant had even been paying attention; he'd being talking about going to case the Louvre for security weakness for fun.
The fact that he'd clearly filed it away make her want to cry because it gives her a tiny piece of him back even as Hive uses it to manipulate her into whatever his misguided plans are.
It fits to her every curve perfectly. The fact that Grant will never see her in it has pain stabbing into her chest and tears brimming in her eyes. There was always this very specific look she got from him when he thought she looked good in something. That look won't be in his eyes tonight. She swallows down her tears and moves on. Crying changes nothing.
Tonight, it would seem, she will be having a fancy dinner with her husband's re-animated corpse. This was wrong.
"Focus on the science, Jemma, it's all you have left," she said to her perfectly coiffed reflection in the mirror. "Play the part to kill the monsters."
She slips on her heels and takes a fortifying breath.
Its idea of fancy is a cacophony of confused. The room is littered with books but any free space is filled with tea light candles, as if he were aiming for romance. The screens behind the beautifully dressed table show varying displays of destruction, war, famine, and general terror.
It has changed from Grant's dirty combat clothing into jeans, a blood red dress shirt and black blazer. It… He… whatever…. looks supremely uncomfortable which makes her smile. It seems to prefer the least amount clothing as is decent.
Her smile seems to encourage It, as It beams back at her. Bollocks.
The fact that It… he… would be uncomfortable for her definitely means something more is at play here.
"What is it that you want?" She asks wasting no time. He's made clear that he wants her sexually, but there might be more.
"Your companionship. We are more than you think, and your determination is attractive, we wish to see it in all facets, not just the ones highlighted on Maveth, although those proved our compatibility. You will take all meals with me from now on. Do sit, Jemma."
He points to the seat before her. It's covered in soft linen. The intimate way her name trips of his lips is grating. She shelves it for now.
She sits. "And if I refuse to partake in your presence?" She peers up at him. She's momentarily caught by the way the candle light plays along the angles of Grant's face.
"You'll starve." All intimacy is gone. A cold shiver glides up her spine.
She is presented with a perfectly grilled steak, baked potato, and asparagus.
His steak is raw. He has no silverware. He can access Grant memories but not understand convention, she realizes as her stomach twists.
Someone - likely Malick -is helping him traverse this twisted courtship. She has an opportunity to study it if she plays this correctly.
She leans invitingly forward, he can see down the dress, she knows. "May I make an observation?" she asks nonchalantly.
"I suppose," he allows mildly. His eyes hunger all the while. This should make her feel dirty but it doesn't. It gives her some control.
"Though you're largely a derivation of insect and are used to eating decomposed or raw things, this body is human and eating raw meat will diminish its capabilities. Not to mention it's unappealing."
"Alright, anything else?" he smirks.
"Use the silverware."
"Thank you, Jemma. The books we were given help some, but not always."
"If I'm forced into your presence, I might as well educate and study you." She cuts into her steak, keeping her eyes firmly off his.
"What is it you're studying, beloved?"
Beloved is better than "baby," she decides. If barely. "The way you interact with the world, the depth of your intellect, your capacity for emotions, your powers, anything I can. I don't like you at all, but I'm a scientist first, last, and always."
"You're honest as well as spunky. I like that. You may continue to be."
"Are you honest?"
"As much any entity wishing to over power a weak world can be." He chews a bite of meat only after carefully mimicking the precise way she cut into her own.
"What do you feel toward me? Can you feel? Why did you choose me?" She sips her wine.
" As for what we feel, it is difficult for us to name. Some of what I believe humans call it lust, as well as intrigue and certainty. I want to posses all of you," He looks down at his body. "As he did."
"He possessed nothing I did not willingly give," she challenges, unable to help herself.
"We care nothing for how you come to belong to us, beloved, only that you do. As for why we chose you, you were chosen for us. And legend aside, why wouldn't I? You capture something in all who encounter you, in my experience. You are also the only one to ever escape us; that makes you alone worthy of us."
In addition to forcing her to be his companion at meals, he tends to linger in her lab as if to be in her orbit. She misses Fitz slightly but enjoys working on her own again, even as she's stuck on how to transfer Hive's consciousness into the volunteer host.
She feels him. He steps into her space, his shadow looming over her on just this side of sinister. Her scalp begins to burn as it did when he tried to get into her head on Maveth.
"You know it must be dead or very near dead. There is no other way, beloved Jemma. You shall have to extinguish the life within the shell."
Jemma is very pragmatic but she has never taken a life; that way Grant's forte. She supposes she has to start somewhere in her quest to exact Grant's revenge. It is a shame, though, that the first life she will take will be an innocent in her war.
"Will you leave me? Please?"
He nods and for once does not push his agenda. That likely means something. But she is simply too exhausted to think about it.
She doesn't recall going to bed, but that happens to her quite often. She sometimes gets into bed half asleep already, wakes up with no recollection of the trip back from her lab beyond some dream-like memories of brushing her teeth or changing into sleep clothes.
She suddenly feels herself wrapped in the heavy weight of the comforter. Grant has his arm protectively bracketing her waist and pulls her flush against him. She's warm and safe for what feels like the first time in ages, even as she knows she's dreaming. She allows herself to sink down further into the dream state. There is odd laugh ringing in her head. It sounds like the start of a sand storm. It is so out of place she almost wakes but Grant tightens his hold and she brushes it away.
Grant presses kisses in along her jaw and down her neck. The scraping sensation his beard leaves behind is heightened. She turns restlessly into his embrace, kisses him. She feels him smile triumphantly at her mouth. She tries to think why he feels victorious but nothing floats to the surface. Instead, she cups his face to kiss him back and it feels like butterflies fluttering on her palms. His satisfied sounds are oddly warbled. Her scalp and lungs begin to burn but she can't tear away.
It feels like the last time she will ever kiss him. She longs to cry.
He slides her easily beneath him as easily as a puzzle piece slotting into place. He parts her legs with his knee and plants his thigh against her center. She rubs herself impatiently along his thigh, trying to bring herself to orgasm.
"Grant!" she pleads desperately. She can't figure out why he's resisting being inside of her, it must mean something but it slips right past her. When she scrapes her nails down his back, the muscles beneath her back go from firm and warm to slick and delicate like the exoskeleton of a beetle. Thousands of moth wings flit in Grant's eye sockets when she pulls away.
The note of sorrow in his voice wavers in the distance as she jerks awake.
Hive looms over her. "So close, beloved." His hands, anchored on the backs of her knees, hold her in place. She shoves him away with every cell in her body, but he only moves when he decides to allow it.
"And yet so far..." She forces out of her dry mouth. She tastes dirt and grass. If she wasn't already dead set on killing it already this violation would have signed its death warrant. She gets as far away as she can. "In this world, what you just tried to do is called rape. What you succeeded in doing is called sexual assault. Going into my head and manipulating me… that is not consent. And if you try anything like it again, you'll see what happens when my determination hardens into resignation. I am the smartest woman on the planet and I have very little left to lose; I promise you will regret it if you even attempt to touch me like that again."
His eyebrows raise but other than that she has no way of knowing if her threat has any effect.
"Having you beneath us willing and wanting will likely be more satisfying," he concludes. "This shall tide us over until the day arrives."
She'll be willing half past never, she thinks but doesn't say the words aloud.
He shifts from kneeling over her to sit on the edge of the bed. He gives her space, she on one edge, he on the other. The chivalry is false and yet she will take it nonetheless.
It doesn't last ten minutes. He moves to her side again, as if incapable of staying away. Maybe that's obsession or Grant's lingering devotion. She can't know.
"When I was trapped on Maveth and civilization was still a part of its trajectory, one of their high priests told me of part my destiny. As you can understand, I was skeptical." His hand is creeping closer to her legs and she fights the urge to flinch away from his touch. Placating works best with Hive and no one here will move to stop him if she can't. She curls into herself.
He places his hand on her side and moves to caress her jawline with the pad of his thumb. The burning in her scalp dissipates with each touch. It is deceptively pleasurable, and now she feels doubly sick. She took comfort in him. He's sinking his hooks in, moving past her mental defenses. She's got to escape and soon, before he breaks her in every way.
"The High Priest foretold that my mate would be of vast intelligence and otherworldly beauty. That she would be the only one to ever elude my pursuits, the only one to ever best me, but that she would be returned to me. She would be the only one capable of carrying my progeny, and that we must build a thousand armies in protection of her to secure her immortality."
"Is that what you believe?"
"It's what I know."
He's out of his alien gourd. She is not having his alien babies. Nope, never, no. She jerks herself from his grasp.
He smiles at her indulgently the way Garrett used to, as if she were a mere piece in his game. It pisses her off but because he's let her go she doesn't push.
"Sleep well, beloved." He leaves her alone in the sheets that smell like Grant and dirt.
She takes the blanket from the end of the bed and sleeps in the chaise. She'll burn the sheets if not the whole bed in the morning.
When Malick's posh, entitled, and beautiful daughter shows up with a singular and unhealthy curiosity for Hive, even as Jemma doesn't understand it, she is grateful for it. She hopes that the young Malick can detract from his obsession with her.
It makes her a bit sick at first to see another woman hanging all over Grant's body. Fawning over it and practically salivating at the sight his arms, chest, arse, and that creepy smile that always looks crooked on Grant's face.
It's not jealousy. Her attentions make Jemma feel as though she is allowing Grant to be violated, for some sacred piece of them to be shattered in the name of a reprieve from It.
The reprieve doesn't last, once his mild curiosity over her sexual attraction is through, he's back to being fully focused on Jemma, even as Stephanie Malick pulls out all the stops.
First, she pulls the Hydra royalty card. When that proves fruitless, she dyes and cuts her hair in Jemma's same style as well as takes on an affected English accent.
It's pathetic really, but maybe Jemma can use it. And even if not, she still has her own plans.
She's finally done it. Blood has been shed, sweat, and tears all expended in the name of her vendetta. Hive is out of Grant. There is no victory in it. Grant is in a persistent vegetative state. All of him is gone away from her. Yet again, for forever this time.
Grant lies perfectly still on the table looking far more alive than he actually is.
That's her fault. Injecting him with GH-325 had preserved the body. She doesn't care to think about that. For a while, it had given her hope that she could extricate Grant from Hive's clutches, restore him the way Coulson had been restored. But it didn't work that way.
Having successfully put Hive into his chosen sacrificial lamb hours before, Jemma sits at Grant's bedside, reading EEG read outs in real time. His brain is functioning at low levels but nothing major seems to be happening.
She knows, as a scientist, that he's comatose and the moment they take him off the feeding tubes and intravenous fluids he will begin to die. Short of TAHITI programming him like they had Coulson, his end is set in stone. And she doesn't have that technology.
She picks up his hand. It still dwarfs hers. She threads their fingers. "You always made me feel so safe. Secure in all that I was. It was the most amazing feeling to matter that much to someone. I'll die missing it."
She kisses his hand just below where his wedding band resides. She wasn't aware that he still wore it. For the sake of their covers, it was best not to. Either he died with it on - which gives her odd measure of comfort - or Hive likes wearing it to hold some false sense of ownership of her in his ever deepening obsession with her. Which is the opposite of comforting, instead chilling.
She thinks on their real wedding, the one that was only theirs. In a hotel room in Tangiers, Morocco, they had laid in bed and decided to get married there on the spot, a private contract between the two of them, before the formal and legal ceremony they'd had later.
Their vows were made on a discarded coffee shop napkin. If she was a job, maybe that was the point it stopped being one for Grant. Even if he was ordered to marry her, why bother doing something so intimate and sacred in such as a solitary way unless he wanted nothing of Garrett's orders to touch their moment?
She doesn't need to read the faded words on the tattered napkin, stuffed into her favorite notebook for safe-keeping. She knows them by heart.
"We will never let the mission matter more than each other," she recites tearfully. "We will protect one another. We will always leave with the intention to return to each other, no matter the cost. We will never purposefully abuse the love we share. This is forever: it will outlast loyalties and science. As long as our lives last in this world, these vows will be kept. This ours alone."
She lets go of his hand to climb over the edge of the gurney to lie beside him. She memorizes the line of his jaw and the angle of his cheekbones, knowing she will never see his face again. She'll never feel his fingers carding into her hair to undo a braid or a ponytail. She traces her fingertips over his lips, know there will be no more quick kisses, nor none of those long ones that set her blood on fire and made her feel desired and missed. It's almost enough to crush her heart as Coulson had crushed Grant's.
She thought she'd grieved the loss of their love while trapped on Maveth, thinking her life on her world ended, but truthfully Will had dulled that. Made it survivable.
She brushes her lips over Grant's. There is no reaction.
She sweeps his hair back into place. It's just a touch too long. Hive couldn't be bothered to eat cooked meat much less cut Grant's hair.
"First I thought that life lost when I was on that planet, tried to get some form of it back with Will because he reminded me of you, and my life in this world was ended - but then that life began again. We could have it all again. I wanted to grow old with you. This isn't fair..." There are a few grey hairs at his temples. She'd never noticed them before and it makes her feel as if she's being mocked with the passage of time and still not having enough of it.
"I have to do something I've no desire to do. I am going to break..." Her voice cracks. "My vows to you. I'm leaving you, without the intention to return to you. I don't know if you're still in there or not, the scientist in me says that all of the things that make you, Grant are gone. Your wife? She still has hope."
She sucks in a breath and tries like hell not to cry. She wipes away a tear along his lash line unsure if it's her own or his body's reflexes making his eyes water. "Either way, leaving you it's not something I want. But if I stay until they decide your body is of no more use to them? I'll be Malick's caged bird and I'll be that Thing's whore. I can't do that, even for you."
She leans in and whispers in a code of mixed languages that only he knows. "I'll kill it, I'm going to kill them all and avenge our losses. And I can't do that if I stay here."
She gets off the bed, hearing someone approaching. "I love you. Goodbye, my love." She slips off his wedding ring and quickly stuffs it in her pocket. She kisses her husband a final time, then she engages the nano mask she'd fit herself with.
She had programmed the thing to look like Malick's daughter so she could leave completely undetected. Stephanie Malick had an even more unhealthy obsession with Hive than her father. It wasn't uncommon to see the pretty woman in Hive's quarters and her desire for it – regardless of host - was not well hidden. Her insistence on trying to transform herself into Jemma's image as much as possible has proven incredibly helpful, as no one is likely to question Jemma in this guise.
She had never thought she'd be grateful another woman had found her husband attractive, but then again she'd never thought she could leave him. She does exactly that, never once turning back.
Grant is finally lost her. The only thing warming her is the fire of revenge.
"Sir, should we stop her?"
Hive looks away from the med bay observation window. "No, the legend says she'll elude me for a time. I shall let her have the temporary victory and enjoy the satisfaction of the chase."
"And Miss Malick?"
"She might have carnal value. I shall learn ways to please my beloved then dispose of her. Have her delivered to my quarters."
His previous host marches on, steady heartbeat and even breaths moving his chest. He'll keep Grant Ward for spare parts, he decides. Or perhaps he'll re-inhabit it for a period to regain his beloved, for she loves it as she'll one day love Hive itself.
"If lovers are in each other all along, as a former host seems to think the saying goes, she may leave but will never truly be away from me. Even if it takes plagues of locust to eat away her world and the death of that fragile shell in there to steal her hope... I shall win."
He looks again to the minion gifted to him by Malick. "Give her time to feel secure...then," he pauses as if flitting through some memory. "She loves Morocco. Start there. Leave blood flowing in its streets, as a gift from me."