Grant doesn't know which piece of this clusterfuck pisses him off more: the fact that Coulson sent Jemma "I can't lie my way out of a paper bag" Ward into the field alone, that Whitehall made her comply her to his will so many times they've had to call him in to heal the breaking of Whitehall's hold, or if it's the part he himself played in pushing her toward undercover work to distance herself from Fitz.
Any which way you cut it? He's livid.
They have her caged, just like they did him. Jesus.
"If you harm her…" Coulson says, lowering her barrier.
"Go fuck yourself, Phil." He grins at the other man sharply. SHIELD has no cards to play. They need him and everyone knows it.
The only thing left to help clear Jemma's mind, to undo the damage of multiple brainwashings and leave it as brilliant as before, is to use their soul bond to right her body chemistry. And that can only be done with the familiarity of their touch.
She's curled helplessly into the corner of the cell.
"Hey baby, can you come away from the wall for me?"
She eyes him, her gaze glassy, wary. She wants to hate him;he can feel it like a hot coal burning beneath his sternum. It's a weak hate now, when before he could feel it with her standing four floors above him. It takes standing next to her to feel it now.
It barely even stings.
He touches her arm to gently pry her from the wall. Touching her brings the same relief he felt pulling Thomas from the well.
"Grant… it's all muddled and I- I hurt, like an opiate withdrawal."
"I know, baby. They use actual heroin, among other things, to make subjects more pliable to the brainwashing process," he answers while folding himself to sit beside her.
He knows, given a few minutes, he can get Jemma to relax enough to draw her into his lap, further cementing the soul bond back into place. "I can get Coulson to give you some methadone to take the edge off, as well as the craving that'll come. They've rewired your brain to respond to compliance like a drug fix."
"No. Everything is too muddled as it is, I don't want anything unnatural in my system."
"Jesus, Jemma, the fact that you can even form a sentence this soon after breaking the compulsion to comply is a miracle."
"Don't use that word. Comply." She says softly yet firmly as if it brooks no argument. it's useless to fight me on this tone. As sickened as he is by the whole thing, he's glad his girl is still in there.
"No problem, baby."
"I should hate you" she says softly as she cuddles more deeply into his embrace, "but I haven't the energy."
"Just let me help you." He tucks her head under his chin. The familiarity of them being curled together like this eases the tension in them both. The bond they share doesn't allow for telepathy as it does for some, Barnes and Rogers being one of the better known pairs to experience the phenomenon. Grant always counted that as a blessing; being inside Jemma's genius head would be a bit much.
Their bond is of the strongest tactile form, like empathy magnified tenfold.
He does everything he can to emanate calm. He rubs a hand down her back, his fingertips itching with the urge to trace the line of her spine. Instead, he contents himself by rubbing his thumb over the tiny gap of skin exposed where her matching scrub top rides up.
God, does it aggravate him that they're treating her the way they're treating him. He doesn't care for Coulson's reasons. She's not the criminal, he is. It makes him long for vengeance, but that won't help her now. He shoves the thoughts away and instead says, "Try to remember to breathe, baby."
That single word makes him want to maim something like the way her mind has been. Only she can feel his sorrow, so he can admit if only to himself and whatever remains of Jemma that he wants to cry.
" No, baby, that's a suggestion, not an order." He says it softly but quickly, before she can finish, and even stone-faced Coulson seems pained from what Grant can see through the barrier. Good. Coulson deserves that shit and more. This is on him and his choices, and both he and Grant know it.
"I'm trying.t's confusing, what's me and what's her."
"Her?" he inquires, kissing her temple. He feels the tiniest spark of pleasure from her. It's progress. Pleasure is better than terror.
"Robot Jemma… so many gaps."
"Don't fill the gaps, Jemma, you don't need them." It kills him to tell her that, because it's like telling Jemma not to be herself. Her intelligence, her mind, it's central to her identity and it's broken. Instead, he only wraps her tighter in his arms. "Jemma, can you find our sanctuary, in your mind's eye?"
"Good, do you see the lake?"
"That's my girl, he didn't get everything, did he?"
"I feel floaty, but not drugged."
"Means it's working." Now her arms wrap around his waist. She's pressing her fingertips into his side, and it takes a minute of working through the rush her touch creates to realize what she's doing.
The summer before they joined the team they'd spent his accumulated R&R at their lake house. She'd taught herself to play guitar in a week flat he'd been amazed and mesmerized by her.
She's using his ribcage like a fretboard and he knows the exact song she's playing. "Really, this one, Jem? It's sad."
"It fits, for now at least."
He supposes she's right. He looks to Coulson. "We can't do this all at once, it's going to take sessions. I can keep her from most of the pain by sharing it but with the massive doses of drugs, she's going to detox. There's no avoiding it. We'll need supplies."
Coulson just looks at him." I already rolled the dice with her life once, I won't do it again. Ask her?"
"He loves me. He isn't lying." she looks up at him. "Sing the song, please?"
He nods, her med bay soap-scented her hair tickling his bearded chin.
He waits until Coulson leaves. He knows they can still be seen but that's not really the point. Some things you just want to ignore the world for, and this - holding onto Jemma p and singing to her - is one of those things.
"I had a dream last Thursday, we were at Wannamaker Pond, You were skipping rocks making ripples in the calm. I was making Daisy chains, picking dandelions, I wanted just to hold you but I lose my nerve sometimes..." he sings.
"Pretty..." Jemma murmurs.
"It's damned sad, is what it is."
"It's a little melancholy."
"Like an English day?" he finishes the old joke. Her snicker flutters against his throat. God, he's missed her.
They'll try to make him give her back. it doesn't mean he will.
He moves his hand up her back to the incision at the base of her skull. It's healed over but much fresher than his own soul biopsy scar.
He'd waited a decade for his soulmate to maybe take a chance on getting that sacred, delicate space of brain that contains the soul biopsied so it could be entered into the database containing the biochemical makeup of thousands of souls.
And then? He'd matched with Jemma. His enemy, his opposite, his everything. His soulmate. He wants her back, the whole of her being, he just wants Jemma.
He'll hold onto her and hold out for as long as it takes.
I own nothing, the song Grant sings is Ain't Nothin' Special by Otis Gibbs. I do not own it I simply borrowed the beautiful lyrics, go give it a listen. Thanks again to the lovely Myranda for the beta.