I own nothing, this was written for WSSummer Session 1: 100 ways to say I love you. Story title is borrowed from LP's Muddy Waters. This was a difficult piece that really fought me so if you liked it if you didn't please leave feed back if you'd like too.

-/-

There are too many jumbled up memories flooding his brain. So many memories, most not his, that it feels like the synapses are tearing themselves apart. They run through his head rapid fire, nothing sticking for more than a few seconds. It's impressions, traces of scents, tastes, echoes of sound. A millennia of consciousness.

It really sucks, truth be told.

He names all the memory-holders; that helps some. Not much, but some.

He remembers swearing he'd never be imprisoned here again. That he'd never be imprisoned by anyone again. It seems so long ago, back when he was a man with no allegiance but to himself. When he was just the one man in his own mind. Then there had been no one to worry over him, no one to mourn him, no one to help him.

Help arrives now, wearing clicking heels and a short lab coat. He knows he'd hear her lilting accent if he could only make out sounds over trilling cicadas of consciousness it left behind.

She lowers the barrier and steps deliberately and slowly into his line of vision. She squats down to where he's cowering in the corner of the room.

Shit. He's cringing like a whipped dog in front of Simmons. In front of Jemma. Great. Just great.

She says something. He can't track it so she repeats herself and he reads her lips.

"I need to run some tests, Ward."

He can only nod. She gently pulls arm down from where it rested on his knee. She secures the tourniquet and the barely there glide of her fingertip as she searches for a vein pushes forward someone else's memory.

He can see a half unlaced corset and his hand rests on pale skin of Henrietta's back, her skin is soft beneath his palm. He's buried so deeply inside her that it makes his skin feel too tight for his body. She's screaming loudly, but there's a falseness to it. She grips the foot board so tightly her knuckles go white. He begs, rather pitifully, for her to look at him as she comes.

Just once, he wants her feel what he feels. But she never does. Her every move is plotted, every emotion faked. She's all calculated purpose and it does nothing but leave him feeling bereft and lonely.

He eyes the flint lock dueling pistol on her headboard, watches as she steps back into her cheap gown and counts the coins he'd paid for her time, tossing her pretty blonde hair to give him another falsely coy smile. Loneliness is not foreign to him in the least but genuine unconditional love certainly is, and he wishes again that she could just love him back.

The sharp stick of the needle pulls him from the 1700s back to reality, the sight of his own blood tinged black from Its once presence in his body. He thinks of the last time she'd handled his blood; she'd knelt in it. He must say something because her eyes go soft for moment before hardening again. An ironic smile paints her mouth before forming her reply.

"I don't know. I suppose it depends on your definition of existence. But no matter. You're alive now. That tinnitus you're experiencing should subside soon as well," he reads.

That smile she'd just given him wasn't nearly as good as the ones he used to get from her. Just like Henrietta had used George's affections for her own betterment, he'd used Jemma's burgeoning feelings as he had seen fit and now she has nothing left for him. That smile, those feelings meant just for him, now holds more weight because he can remember it, as his own memory. He can barely remember his own name. But he remembers that smile.

-/-/-

She tells him he has traumatic regression, lingering catatonia, and signs of multiple personality disorder on top his own previous sociopathic issues, the latter which she bites out at him.

At least he's been able to move away from the wall. He's sitting on the bed now. She sits patiently beside him, taking his pulse. He'd ripped her little monitoring system off in a fit of agitation. Her voice is soft and thoughtful as tells him she sometimes likes doing things the old fashioned way.

The ringing his ears is gone. He can hear the cadence of her voice again. The others are afraid of him. Not Jemma. Maybe because she had lived on that planet, trapped with that thing. The creature it bored holes into your mind. It tried to break him, break every host before him. It had relished trying to break her.

She understood.

Or maybe she was here for the science. Maybe she was just plain better. He could ask. She'd tell him. Of that he's sure, but where she's concerned he's growing to like dreamland.

Her touching him brings forward yet another recollection. More and more often, the feel of her skin on his is what makes the memories bubble up.

Gracie looks at Timothy like he's her hero and hung the moon all in one, a feeling that is familiar to him but not as Grant. No one has ever looked at Grant that way. Timothy is covered in burns along one side of his body. The scarred tissue reflects in twelve year old Gracie's brown eyes. It's painful, despite being healed. It screams along his nerve endings like the napalm that had almost eaten him alive.

"You're wrong, you know?" Gracie says. "You didn't fail. You did what you were supposed to, Timmy. And that's not even what makes you brave. You see those scars and see everything that went wrong. All I can see is that you survived. That you are strong. A true warrior."

"How'd you get so wise, Gracie Girl?"

"Born that way. Now are you going to be a good big brother and push me on the swing, or are you going sit inside like a bump on a log again?"

Jemma's pen scratching along her notepad knocks him from his reverie.

Maybe now one had ever loved him with the tenacity of spirit that Gracie had loved... Maybe they never would … but then Jemma had once looked at him with hero worship, after he'd saved her. Could maybe have looked at him that way once, if he hadn't been so focused on Skye – no, it is Daisy now - and his cover.

Instead, he'd twisted that into righteous indignation. The hardness, though, was more than a little sexy. She'd probably be horrified to know just how much her icy sarcasm turns him on. Sure, some part of him missed "I'm here for adventure" Simmons but he liked this one better. He'd made her that way, owned that part of her. It settles into his chest like an anchor.

-/-/-

She has switched him from intravenous foods on to the real thing, but his mind is still too boggled for fine motor skills. He can barely walk as it is, and he's past the point of pride.

He's actually really fucking hungry. Hive hadn't required or really liked food, at least anything that wasn't raw or only half dead. So the smell of the chicken noodle soup and grilled cheese has his stomach growling intensely. He snatches the sandwich off the plate and scarfs it down.

Jemma laughs at his eagerness but not in a mean way. It reminds how much he enjoyed making her laugh, back on the bus. He hadn't registered how much, then. It feels different, now, the memory.

She asks him if she should feed him the soup now and he replies with an affirmative nod. She sits cross-legged in the floor in front of him, soup in her lap. He wonders when and where she had picked up yoga-perfect balance.

This time, she doesn't have to be touching him to bring anything to the forefront. She's blowing the steam away from a spoonful of the soup before feeding it to him when it rises. It is from the vantage point of a woman, even though the Hydra program did not use female operatives. He suddenly realizes it might be a dream, or desire. His own or Hive's, he couldn't tell you.

All he knows now is cleaning pink birthday cake off the baby sitting in the high chair. They are happy. The baby brings her joy. Brings him joy. The woman's laugh sounds like Kara's and her smile is Daisy's, but the merriment in her eyes is all Jemma.

The baby looks like a morphing of the three woman, it's utterly unnerving.

"Well, it was your idea to let her feed herself," the words come from her/their mouth. "You should be cleaning her up. Honestly!"

Her voice is fond, and there's a feeling burrowed in her breast that is familiar to him now, as she/they pick up the baby. She glances over her shoulder and he's startled to see his own face looking back and them, affection soft in his own eyes.

-/-/-/

"Ward!"

He hears his name as if from a distance.

"Ward, if you keep spacing out, I'll have to send you to psych at Zentrum and they're recommending Tahiti programming. I'd rather not have pursue that particular treatment course."

She doesn't want to erase him. Something warms blooms in his rib cage.

"I think it was supposed to be you," he says, clearing his throat, suddenly uncomfortable with bittersweet longing.

"Excuse me?"

He cocks his head at her, taking her in. He decides to be honest. "I love you."

She gives a harsh, hurt bark of laughter.

"It took a millennia of lives, loves, jealousies, hates, and passions to realize that what I felt for Daisy was obsession. That I was a tool for John's mission, that no matter how deep my love for him went I was a means to an end, not a son. It took being trapped in my own head to realize Kara was my friend. I enjoyed the attention and was glad for the company, cared about her even. I didn't love her though. I didn't truly love any of them."

"And now you love me?" she says in utter disbelief.

"Yes. And you'll love me back. I'll earn it."

"That's never going to happen. I hate you."

He shrugs, the memory warming him like a beacon. "I'll wait."