It was a few days before Christmas and all through the Playground it was quiet as a mouse. Garlands and lights had been put up with care, although no one would admit who'd done it. Hunter whistled a Christmas Carol as he strode into the lab, which was mostly Christmas free except a tree in the corner. "You paged, Simmons?" he drawled, leaning against the counter.
"I did." Simmons looked a bit frazzled. Half her lab techs had taken off for the holidays. Wistfully, she wished she could have gone home to England for the holidays too. "I need you to accompany me out to the place they picked up these." she held up a test tube with tiny rocks and sand inside.
"Uh. Why? Can't it wait til after Christmas?" Hunter did not fancy a long drive out to the middle of nowhere.
"Well, it could perhaps, but I'd really rather do the tests now while the environment hasn't changed much. The temperature will be dropping soon and it could snow, which would change the environment, which would change the tests." Simmons rambled on but Hunter had quit listening. He was not concerned with the particulars.
" And you chose me for this why? "
Simmons took a deep breath." Actually I didn't. Coulson told me to take you, I'd planned on going alone. "
" Can't hardly argue with the boss now, huh?" Hunter shrugged. It could be worse, he figured, then spending a few hours on the road with Simmons." Is Fitz coming too?"
"No, he's an engineer." she said, like it explained everything.
Hunter didn't see why that mattered exactly, the two of them seemed to do everything and know everything but he let her have the argument anyway.
The van smelled like a pine tree. Hunter grimaced as he buckled in. "Guess someone decided to also decorate the vehicles, huh?"
Simmons looked confused at him until she pulled herself inside the van. "Oh. Well, the elves have been busy, I suppose."
"Nobody is going to admit to the decorations, are they?" Hunter began driving the long road leaving the Playground.
"I know Coulson tried to look at the cameras to figure it out. Daisy is apparently in on it, as the cameras were strategically shut off at certain times."
"But it's not Daisy herself?"
"She insists it's not but won't give up who it is." Simmons had her own thoughts on who the mystery elf was.
Hunter shook his head. "Building full of the best spies in the world and we can't figure out this simple mystery?"
"Well, we probably could. But wouldn't that take the magic from it?"
The ride was long, just as boring as Hunter had assumed it would be, and they arrived in the middle of nowhere shortly after lunch. Geographically they were only a couple hundred miles from the Playground but it seemed like a whole different world. There were big boulders and tall trees surrounding what seemed to be a sort of rock quarry, which was Hunter's best guess as he stepped out of the truck and surveilled the location. "Tell me again why we couldn't have taken a quinjet?" he stretched his back and legs.
Simmons glanced over at him, busting herself by pulling equipment from the back of the van. "No pilots available would be the main reason. It seems most of the base has gone home for the holidays. Also, it was only about two hours to drive it."
"Would've been nice to see jolly old England for the Christmas season."
She sighed. "Yes it would've been. It just didn't work out this year."
"For me either." he caught himself before mentioning anything about Bobbi. Whatever their relationship currently was, he was quite confident that Bobbi didn't want him blabbing about it to Simmons or anyone else.
"Fitz and I have a movie marathon planned if you care to join us. Daisy probably will and whomever else wants to." Simmons offered.
"Is Die Hard a Christmas movie?" he was quick to ask.
"According to Fitz and Mack it is. It's in the marathon somewhere." she sounded a bit distracted as she wandered a bit into the quarry. Kneeling down, she scooped up a bit of dirt and examined it.
Hunter leaned against the van and called out, "So about how long?"
"You that eager to jump back into the van?" she never looked back as she answered.
He frowned. "Not particularly but it's warm in the van. And there's snacks!"
"I'm not stopping you. Sit in the van if you like, I can handle this myself." Simmons walked a bit further away.
He debated about for a moment. Coulson would have his head if anything went wrong and Hunter had been sitting comfortably in the van with music and snacks. Not that anything was going to happen, but it was weirdly quiet and he didn't like it much. Internal debate over, he followed Simmons down into the quarry.
She turned around when she heard him approaching. "Going to help me out instead?"
"Eh. Both of us might get the job done faster." he paused. "What is the job?"
Simmons didn't answer right away. When she did, her voice was very low. "Is it just me or are we not the only ones here?"
Hunter stared at her a moment. Realizing quickly where she'd been looking, he tried to get a glance at whatever it or who was creeping her out.
The sudden explosion knocked them both off their feet.
Hunter groaned and opened his eyes. The dust was settling around him as he pulled himself into a sitting position, wondering just how long he'd been out. He didn't think it'd been too long since there was still dust and dirt and other debris everywhere. He blinked a few times to get the dust out of his eyes. "Simmons! Simmons, where are you?" Getting to his feet, he took in the scene quickly. No Simmons in sight and whoever or whatever had been there right before the explosion didn't seem to be either.
He stumbled down the path towards where he'd seen Simmons last. He did not want to explain her disappearance, again, to Fitz. There'd been no answer to his calling for her and it worried him.
Stopping where he was pretty sure was the last place she'd been before things started flying, Hunter took a deep breath and took on his surroundings. Simmons was no idiot and he was relatively certain she wouldn't have abandoned him willingly.
The dust made seeing hazy but after a few moments, he noticed a boot, a small boot, off to his right. He hasn't paid much attention to Simmons' footwear earlier but from what he could see, it at least resembled the pair she had been wearing. Cautiously, keeping an eye on his surroundings, he made his way to the boot, which was sticking out from behind a large rock.
He took a big sigh of relief when, thankfully, the boot was on the foot of one Jemma Simmons and still attached. He was not, however, happy to see her bloody face.
"I think it's worse then it looks." Simmons also was very grateful to see Hunter, relatively in one piece.
He raised an eyebrow at her. "You'd better hope so, or Fitz might have my head in revenge." She had a gash on her hairline and blood streaming down her face.
"What happened?" she asked, not fighting him as he attempted to stop the bleeding with a handful of tissues pulled from his pocket. She could only hope they were clean.
"Well, I know somebody clearly doesn't want us here as they blew the place up and tried to kill us in the process." Hunter muttered. "I'm calling for backup and they better find a pilot even if it's Coulson himself." I'm fact, that had been the first thing he'd done upon waking up, sending out the distress signal. The signal hadn't been very strong and he'd had no bars on his cell phone so he could only hope it'd been good enough to reach the rest of the team.
" Good. " Simmons' head lolled against his hand.
" Hey now, no, no, no. You gotta stay awake so we can get out of here." Hunter told her. "Besides, I'm pretty sure you've got a concussion so no sleep for you."
" Fitz lets me sleep." she said, very matter of fact.
"Well, I'm sure he does but not now he wouldn't. Cmon now, up you go." He helped her to her feet. He wondered if his distress signal had even made it out of the valley. . Simmons collapsed against him and he quickly decided the best thing would be to get her back to the van and on the road again. Surely somewhere along the way they'd pick up a better signal.
The walk to the van seemed much longer then Hunter remembered it being. But then, the way down, he hadn't been half carrying a semi conscious Simmons.
"Hey, now, you gotta stay awake. You gotta stay awake because I'm not explaining this to Fitz. He'll go full out crazy on me." It had been a difficult task to open the door and deposit Simmons on the passenger seat.
"Fitz won't do anything." she mumbled.
"Darling, I've seen first hand what that man is capable of for you, so trust me when I say I'm going to be the target when we get back." Hunter pressed pedal to the metal and the van roared away from the bombed out quarry. He took his eyes off the road for a second to check on her." No, no, sleep, Jemma Simmons. I need you awake. Come on, tell me more about this movie marathon you guys have planned."
Simmons struggled to find the words to answer him, her head felt so heavy and she just wanted to close her eyes. "We always start with a Christmas Doctor Who episode."
"See, that's good. Doctor Who is great. Love Doctor Who." Hunter did not in fact care much for Doctor Who but whatever it took to keep her talking and not sleeping. He wondered where the backup was and why he couldn't get a good enough signal to call anyone.
Simmons took a deep breath and tried to focus. She knew Hunter was right and she shouldn't sleep but it was so tempting. "Then a comedy. Last year it was Elf."
"Funny movie." He wasn't paying much attention to what she was actually saying. "Woot!" he cheered.
That startled Simmons enough she pulled her head up off the seat to look over at him. "It's not that funny."
"Got a signal! We'll be home free soon as I can get a call out! Not sure my original message ever went through." Hunter cruised down the road a few more miles, looking for a good place to pull over that wouldn't be super obvious to anyone driving by.
"Coulson won't leave us out here. Especially at Christmas." she stated.
"Not sure what the holidays have to do with anything but you're right, Coulson will find a way to rescue us. Man is good at that." Hunter supposed he could just drive them back but it was a long drive and Simmons needed medical care faster then that.
He waved the phone around for the best signal.
" Too bad Fitz isn't here. " she said, softly.
" I'm not useless! "Hunter protested, although he kind of wished the same. Fitz would have hooked the phone to the car battery or something and expanded the signal. Hunter didn't have a clue how to do that. It ran off satellites, that's all he knew, and was supposed to always work, which it didn't.
The phone latched onto a signal at last. Hunter cheered again. "We're going home, Simmons!"
Fitz had not gone with the rescue crew but he was certainly waiting impatiently in the hangar when the quinjet landed. Coulson was barely holding him back.
As the stretcher containing a semi conscious Jemma trundled past, Fitz grabbed Hunter. "What the hell happened out there? It was supposed to be an abandoned quarry! She nearly went alone!" His Scottish brogue was getting thicker as it did whenever he was particularly upset.
"I don't know, mate. I really don't. We were there, and suddenly the place blew up." Hunter looked Fitz in the eyes. "The medics say she'll be fine. No broken bones that they could tell, a concussion, cuts and bruises, nothing too serious."
"Have you seen her? She's nearly unconscious and looks like she's been through a war zone!"
"Fitz, go be with Simmons. She'll want you when she's fully awake." Coulson gently stepped in. "I'll debrief Hunter with May."
Fitz looked like he wanted to protest but didn't and instead hurried down the hall towards the medics.
May stepped down out of the quinjet. She'd been the only available pilot for the rescue and only because they'd yanked her from the main airport, where she had been waiting to board a flight to Phoenix. . Coming over to Coulson she said," Hunter's right. She should be fine. It looks worse then it is. Give her a few days rest, have her take it easy, and she should be back to normal soon."
Coulson nodded. "Good to hear. They've taken her to medical and I sent Fitz with her."
"Because you can keep those two apart?" May raised an eyebrow. It was a badly kept secret that the two were in some sort of relationship they hadn't yet admitted to.
"I wouldn't try. Not even outer space has managed that."
She snorted and pushed past him.
Fitz paced in the hallway by the medical bay's door. They hadn't allowed him in yet. His temper simmered at Hunter. How could he allowed Jemma to get hurt like she had? He wasn't going to believe what anyone said about her injuries until he spoke to Jemma herself.
A doctor stuck her head out the door. "She is asking for you."
Fitz sprang towards the door like his legs were suddenly actual springs. Jemma was awake and asking for him! Practically tripping over his own shoes he went through the door to the quiet medical bay.
Simmons was in a bed now, surrounded by at least two doctors and a nurse. She looked more peeved then anything, which Fitz was glad to see.
"Fitz!" she called out, struggling to get up. One of the doctors pushed her back down.
"She's going to be fine. Just a touch out of it right now with a head injury. She has no memory of what happened or much of the past day or so." the doctor who'd let Fitz in told him.
"Head injuries are no joke." he answered, remembering his own long and strenuous recovery.
"This is nothing like yours was. This is a bad knock on the head, a concussion. It should come back to her in a few days a week, just needs rest." the doctor reassured him.
He was not convinced but went to Simmons' side anyway. Picking up the hand that didn't have an IV stuck in it, he said," I'm here, Jemma. They tell me you're going to be fine. "
Simmons tried to focus on him." I can't focus, Fitz. I can't remember." She was panicking and grasping his hand tightly.
"Now, that's not quite true, Dr Simmons." One of the other doctors spoke up. "It's only your short term memory that seems to be affected, and that isn't unusual with a bad concussion as you have. It should mostly return in a day or two."
"I can help you remember, Jemma. You'll see, it will come back to you." Fitz's words echoed what she had told him not all that long ago.
"I, I, I remember something about Hunter. But I don't know why or what." she told him, slightly less panicky now that she had Fitz. Or maybe it was the meds the nurse was currently hanging on the IV stand
"Yes, that's right. You and Hunter went out to go soil and rock samples together." he tried to sooth her.
Simmons took a deep breath and tried to focus on what she knew about what had happened, which wasn't much. "Why just me and Hunter?"
"Coulson insisted you take him along instead of going alone." Reluctantly Fitz admitted he was glad she hadn't been alone.
"It's so bright in here. I don't like it, Fitz. Can I go to my quarters?" she'd lost her concentration about the incident.
"Um, not yet, Jemma. Soon." he patted her hand. Questions about the incident would have to wait.
"Fitz, I can't remember what happened." she said again.
"That's all she's really said since being brought in here. That and asking for you." The first doctor said. "It's not uncommon that she can't remember and keeps repeating herself."
"It's fine, Jemma, you don't need to remember right now." Fitz told her. "What about her other injuries?" he asked the doctors.
"Bruises and cuts mostly. The cuts have been cleaned and bandaged, nothing very serious there. Couple of good size bruises, one on a knee and the other on her rib cage but no broken bones."
"Fitz?" Simmons asked again. "What happened? Where's Hunter?"
"You hit your head." Fitz was patient.
She nodded slowly, trying to remember. It was there, she could feel it, but the memories just wouldn't come. "Hunter. Where's Hunter?"
"He's here somewhere. Coulson wanted to talk to him."
"Oh. Okay." she settled back against the pillow. It didn't last long. "Fitz, my head hurts."
"Yeah, Jemma, I know. You'll be feeling better soon." he patted her hand.
Hunter paced Coulson's office, in which someone had strung brightly colored light strands around the room. Hunter barely noticed. "I'm telling you again, I don't know what happened out there! We'd just arrived, Simmons was collecting her samples, I was complaining about how cold it was and boom. Suddenly we literally went flying. I never saw anyone out there but the two of us. Bloody hell, has anyone heard from the medics yet? How's she doing? Fitz is going to bloody kill me if she's not all right. "
Coulson sat in his chair and let Hunter vent. He was concerned about Simmons, too, but thus far the medical unit hadn't given him any indication that she wouldn't be all right. He was very relieved about it." Fitz is with Simmons now. He will see she is going to be fine."
"You should get examined yourself, Hunter." May remarked. "You're limping, for one thing."
"I'm fine, I'm fine. It's Simmons I'm concerned about." he brushed off her worries.
"Simmons is going to be fine. You got her home, she's going to be fine." May told him.
"May is right, Hunter, you should get checked out." Coulson agreed. "You've told us what you know, there's nothing more anyone can do right now anyway."
"Oh, I'm not going near that infirmary yet. Fitz is there." Hunter and Fitz were pretty good friends most of the time, but Hunter was not ready to face the man after nearly getting Simmons killed. He was sure Fitz didn't particularly want to see him either.
" I could get Bobbi on the line, I'm sure she'd be happy to accompany you to the infirmary." Coulson reached for his phone.
"Ah, no thank you, I can find my own way." Hunter shuddered at the thought of Bobbi coming to rescue him. He'd never hear the end of it.
"Then go please, while I scramble a team for further investigation of the quarry." Coulson waved him off.
Grumbling, Hunter headed towards the infirmary.
"You know he's fine." May said, turning towards Coulson.
"I do. He should be checked out though."
"Might be a showdown in the infirmary between those two hotheads."
"Nah. Fitz wouldn't, at least not in front of Simmons."
Fitz was sitting uncomfortably in a hard chair next to Simmons' bed. She'd finally dozed off after some painkillers. He didn't want to leave her side. It was too much, the way it seemed everything conspired against them.
He leaned back against the wall, the hard back of the chair digging into his spine. It'd been a tiring day for him, too, and the emotions were catching up on him. The stress of worrying over Jemma, his rash anger at Hunter, the relief she'd be all right, it had all been piling up. He glared at a twinkling Christmas tree in the corner. It certainly didn't feel like much of a holiday.
A familiar figure turned around the corner. "All right if I pop in a minute?" It was Bobbi.
Fitz wanted to say no. He wasn't ready to face Hunter yet. He sighed, knowing exactly what Jemma would tell him.
"He's not with me. He's getting checked out. Coulson insisted." Bobbi explained.
Fitz was not unhappy to hear it. "Jemma's asleep." he said, for no reason. Bobbi could see that.
"You know he'd never purposely let her get hurt."
"But she did get hurt. Look at her!" he gestured towards the bed.
"What is it with you two and your stubbornness? Don't be stupid, Fitz." Hunter and Fitz were two of the most stubborn people Bobbi had ever known, which was saying a lot. There was plenty of stubbornness in S.H.I.E.L.D. "He's almost done being checked out and then you two are going to make up. Simmons is fine and it's Christmas, just about anyway. I think you two can do this."
Fitz didn't say anything. He knew that, had Jemma been awake, she would be on Bobbi's side on this.
" Let's go. Up, up, you guys aren't going to wake up Simmons for this. "
" I won't leave her for long. " he warned, carefully pulling the covers up over Jemma.
"That depends on you two idiots." Bobbi shrugged as she shoved him into the hall.
Hunter was standing a few feet away from Jemma's room when Fitz and Bobbi came out. He didn't make eye contact with Fitz. "Bobbi, we are grown men, not children." he protested.
"Then act like it and stop acting like children." she snapped back.
"Fitz, you know I'd never willingly let Simmons get hurt. You also should know I did everything I could to get her back as fast as I could." Hunter said, quickly.
"I know, mate." Fitz didn't meet his eyes either.
"There, see, was that so hard?" Bobbi exclaimed, walking away, feeling like job accomplished.
"We're good, man?" Hunter asked, cautiously.
Fitz sighed. He wasn't quite as angry as he'd been. He did know, deep down, that Hunter was a good loyal man who'd never willingly allow a team mate to be hurt. But it was Jemma on the line and that was very hard for Fitz. He also knew what she'd want him to do. She was his better half in many ways. "We're good."
"How's she doing?"
"Better. Doctor says she'll be out tomorrow." Fitz was reluctant to stay away much longer.
"Good. Just in time for that movie marathon she was telling me about. I'm invited, right?" Hunter invited himself.
"She'd probably want to see you by then, if she's up to the marathon."
"Good, I'll bring Twiglets." Hunter grinned and whistled as he strolled away with his last statement.
"You, you have Twiglets ?" Fitz called after him, momentarily torn between going back to Jemma or finding out if Hunter really did have a stash of Twiglets.
"Fitz, really, I'm fine. You don't need to baby me like this." It was Christmas day and they were setting up for the big movie marathon. Simmons had had a long two days of of Fitz watching her every move. He was currently fluffing pillows and putting out a blanket, her old Tardis blanket, bought before they'd even met in the Academy.
"You've got to take it easy, Jemma. You heard the doctor." he was quite insistent.
"Taking it easy is one thing, you're acting like I'm an invalid." she did sit down in the cozy nest on the couch he'd made for her. It was comfortable, she had to admit.
"Everyone is bringing snacks. I just need to set up the first movie." Fitz ignored Simmons' comments.
"Doctor Who, of course." she paused. "The snowmen Christmas episode!"
"Of course. You know that one is creepy." it was not top of Fitz's favorite Christmas episodes.
She laughed. "I want to see how much it creeps out Mack."
"Well, that it will." Fitz had to agree and he pulled that movie case out of the pile they'd been collecting on the table. He slipped the disk into the player and snuggled himself next to Jemma.
"Shouldn't we wait for the others?" she asked, laying her head on his shoulder.
"I haven't pressed play yet. The commercials are still on." he relished these quiet moments just the two of them, nothing between them, the moments where he felt like if the universe could just leave them alone, they could have an amazing future together. He brushed the hair off her face. Even with the stitches on her forehead she was still the most beautiful woman he'd ever known, , Fitz had never dreamed someone so beautiful could ever be his.
"Hey." Simmons looked up at him. "I'm really truly fine."
"I love you." he moved slightly and leaned down to kiss her, noticing the twinkling mistletoe lights above them.
"I know." she responded willingly. It'd been an interesting journey but they'd continue to make it together and take whatever was thrown at them next.
This was a gift for lilsciencequeen for the Fitzsimmons secret Santa 2020 exchange on Tumblr.