She's clear minded now. Those first two months alternately sucked and were - against her better judgement – good, contented as she was to just be back in Grant's embrace.

Publicly she hates him, as well she should after all he'd broken Fitz. But privately, in the depth of her soul, she loves him again. She tried so mightily not to, but here she is. Hopelessly in love with the collective's worst enemy.

They're sending him into the hands of his own worst nightmare tomorrow. No matter how much she pleaded for him, railed at them as she could reasonably do while maintaining her façade of hatred, tomorrow he's Christian's problem.

She needs to tell him. She needs to say goodbye. She needs to love him.

She puts on the simple black negligee he likes, hides it under her robe. She thumbs the syringe of dendrotoxin open in her pocket and jams the sedative into the on-duty guard's blood stream. He slumps over. She disables the cameras and rushes down.

When she lowers the barrier, he's asleep or feigning it. She runs her hand through his hair and he turns over, chasing the touch. She kisses him softly.

And now he's full blown awake. His hand anchors on to her side to kiss her deeper and drag her over him.

She breaks away regretfully before he can do that thing with his tongue that fries her brain.

"I love you," she says because she can't stop herself.

"I know. Words later, sex now."

"No, Grant, wait." He stops dead in his very talented tracks. He's taking every choice she makes incredibly serious of late.

"They're handing you off to Christian tomorrow. I've put the barrier down everyone's asleep, and you can leave now with no real damage. Or we can spend the night together, but you'd have to find your own way out. I'll face the consequences either way. Just promise me you won't hurt Anna or his kids."

"I choose you, always you." The words bring up tears she can't force back. He kisses them away as they fall from her cheeks.

"Don't cry. I've got you, don't cry." He kisses her on the lips and she can feel him. He's surely thinking of the first time he felt the bond take hold, because the satisfaction the feeling of home in a place you've never been overwhelms her.

She is loved.

"Bring up the lights, baby. If it's gonna be the last time, I wanna see you." She gets up on shaky legs and turns on the lights by tapping away at the control panel.

But before the lights come up, she drops her robe. She doesn't have to see his slow-burning smile to know its there.

She walks toward him slowly, because her body might be cold but the empathic bond has her insides melting. His desire for her is unmet by any other emotion she's felt except his love, and she'd missed it.

She's reveling in it.

He throws back his thin coverlet to invite her into his bed. When did he get naked, and how'd she miss it? The sight of him knocks her back a step. He's in the best shape of his life: wide chest, abs as if they've been cut from stone, his waist is some how trimmer and… that…

"Jemma, get in the bed. Now."

She obeys, not out of compulsion, but of need.

They lie there curled together for a bit, his urgent command suddenly forgotten when skin met skin.

He reaches up, touching her face. The emotion behind the sensation confuses her. It's warm and comforting and a bit sad. She realizes what it is: gratitude, deep gratitude. For her, for this moment, for whatever forgiveness must emanate from her.

"We're good." It's all she can muster, because her emotions overlap his and it makes for a heady mix of regret and sorrow and wanting to turn the clock back. Neither of them wish to think on that now. So when he instinctively kisses her, she lets him.

That tiny coal of hatred is now an ember of hope they'll only hold between them. It will remain secret and unspoken, but it will be there.

She can feel him wondering at her choices. She knows he'd felt her resolve to hate him being washed away slowly, like sand beneath waves.

She needs the connection because all of those months on empath blockers had left her feeling unmoored. She can't do it again. She won't do it again. She might be masochistic but it is what is.

The kiss turns deeper and he anchors her more tightly to him. His hands moving beneath the silk of the short gown. Hiking it up until he's forced to release her long enough to remove it.

Then she's bare against him, and heat, want, and desperation emanate off both of them.

She lets him have control, because it feels good to be his again It's the most basic thing she experiences, having no need to constantly think. She can just be. She's home.

She doesn't have to explain what she needs. He already knows he shifts and and settles her beneath him.

When he pushes into her, his eyes burn with an emotion she's never seen in him before. Desperation, raw and pure.

She's seen different aliases, molds, and moods, but never sheer desperation in any of them. He thinks this is the last time they'll be like this. Their most elemental selves. She finds herself hoping he is wrong.

She shifts beneath him to urge him forward. He's barely moving. She knows he's trying draw things out, but she really, really, wants him to move.

They never talk during sex, they've never need to. That's how connected they are. She leans up slightly to whisper in his ear anyway. "Move."

She presses a kiss there just below his earlobe. He shivers slightly and chuckles a bit darkly.

"What-" her question is broken off as he picks up the pace as requested.

"You knocked out a guard to come have sex with me and you're whispering. It's nice to know that some things never change, no matter what."

"Grant, love," she replies, voice tight and breathy. They've barely started and she's already close."

"Yeah…" he says, his own voice suddenly thick.

"Shut up."

He laughs again. God, she's going to miss that sound.

He flips them so she's on top. She knows he did that so this will last longer.

There's no head board to brace herself against so she uses his abs for counter balance. Grant has always been well built, but the muscle honed from being bored and caged is different. Harder, more defined.

She likes it.

The heat and friction grow as she sets a languid pace. She's stretched and feels completely engulfed in all things Grant as every pass into her gets her closer to the edge. Her pending orgasm building with sharp, needy teeth.

"Jemma, open your eyes." There's the bossy command to it that she always liked. "

You know I'm tempted to comply, but…" she teases. That's how far she's come in beating back her demons.


She has to submit at the simple soft-spoken request.

When she opens her eyes, she's surprised at the love, devotion, trust, loyalty, strength, and pride she sees reflected back at her. It's followed by boatloads of lust and possessiveness. Grant is still Grant, after all.

She still wonders at how he can feel all that for her. Even as she can feel so much for him.

He sits up and drives deeper into her and after a few strokes she comes, crying his name quite loudly. His smug smile pressed into the skin of her neck.

"I love you," he says softly.

"I know, and I love you."


There're so many things she longs to ask him as they settle down to sleep.

"How did I never figure it out?"

"Me being Hydra and loving you were entirely different animals," he says sleepily.

"An octopus and an eagle?" she jokes and he gives a startled, barky laugh.

"You could say that. I didn't join for that weird ass ideology. I joined to be in the service of a person I believed in. "

"He made you give me up. Made you drop me into the ocean." He breathes in sharply at that. "How could you trust him after that?"

"It's all I'd ever known. I wish I could blame it on compliance training but I can't. I thought you guys would float for awhile and then be found. Honest. If I'd known…"

"Logically. I know that." She sits up to look down at him. "I don't want to not be connected to you ever again. It was torture, I hated you for being a traitor, I hated the way the blockers made me feel broken and so bloody adrift I wanted to die. Now?"


"I hate that I can't hate you. I hate that I can't keep this without losing something of myself."

"I'm so sorry."

"I know you are, I can feel your sincerity but they bloody well can't," she gripes.

"We'll figure it out."


"Sleep on it and let me do the thinking for now." He pulls her back down into his arms. She doesn't resist.

They sleep soundly.


Her internal clock wakes her and she regretfully leaves Grant's bed, redresses to go back to her own. She presses a kiss to his cheek before she goes and, for once, he doesn't rouse. It's a reminder of how vulnerable she can make him.

She reengages everything except for the cameras if only to leave Grant time to dress.

She's made her way to the nest overlooking the vault to ensure that the guard is still safely sleeping off the diluted dendrotoxin dose when she finds Skye standing in the doorway.

Uh oh.

"It would be utterly ludicrous for me to apologize or pretend I didn't just spend the night doing as exactly as you assume. Report me if you wish, you'd likely be doing my conscience a favor but it is what it is. They're separating me from my soulmate tomorrow. Against my expressed wishes. I deserved some semblance of an ending of my own choosing."

She walks past Skye without another word, without waiting to even see so much of a reaction from the other woman. She doesn't know what comes next but, if nothing else, she's done complying to anyone's will but her own.