AN ~ 2000 words of Simmons getting attention from a professional psychologist. That’s what this is. For more on the idea of Simmons and mental illness see this post (x). Otherwise, enjoy.
Fitz wrapped her nearest hand in his, and squeezed. She laid her other hand over where theirs were intertwined, and looked over to him. He smiled, as reassuring as possible, but even he couldn’t quell the tumultuous pit below her ribcage. She swallowed instead of breathing, and tried to smile back. Fitz moved, perhaps to hug her closer, but at that moment, Skye appeared. Upon seeing them, she tempered her grin and the spring in her step, and gestured to the door through which she had just emerged.
“You’re up, Simmons.”
Simmons pulled herself to standing, and let her fingers slip free of Fitz’. Skye watched her pass, concerned, and she could feel their burning eyes on her, even of Andrew, waiting.
She shut the door, but only came a step and a half inside.
“Would you like to sit down?”
He gestured to the armchair opposite him. She crept to it and obediently perched on the edge of the seat, fiddling with her fingers in her lap.
“My name’s Doctor Garner,” he said. “You can call me Andrew, if you’d prefer.”
She smiled and nodded. And bit her tongue. The pit was growing. Her legs trembled, demanding that she run. She sighed again, slowly, trying to breathe through it. Fitz was just outside. May and Skye trusted Andrew. And, if nothing else, the questions if she left would be worse.
“Would you prefer Doctor Simmons, or Jemma?” Andrew asked.
“Okay, Jemma. Is there anything I can get for you before we start? A blanket, some tea?”
Her eyes fell to the teapot on the table between them. It was fresh, still steaming. She glanced back at the door. Had Skye told him?
Andrew pressed a full teacup into her hands. She looked down at it, and back up at him as he returned to his own seat and picked up a notepad.
“Drink, please,” he offered. “We’re not in a rush. Do you have any questions about what we’re doing here today?”
Simmons peered at the lined pad resting on his knee. “I thought psychological evaluations were standardised forms.”
“They are, but I didn’t have enough with me.”
Andrew pressed his lips together, impressed. Simmons shuffled in her seat and smiled briefly to herself.
“And I deemed it appropriate, given the circumstances,” Andrew explained, “to take my assessment a little off-book. It would be unreasonable, would it not, to try and shape my variables to my questions rather than to let the results speak for themselves?”
“I know what you’re doing.”
“And what is that?”
“You’re trying to make me trust you by making this feel like science.”
“Is it working?”
Simmons looked down at her hands, not gripping the cup as tightly as she’d expected. She’d moved a little further back from the edge of the seat and her legs rested comfortably underneath her. Even her stomach had quelled somewhat. Not that thinking about it was helping.
“Look.” She moved to put the cup of tea down, and couldn’t quite manage it. “I really - I’m busy. I appreciate all this but I really would like to just get on with it.”
“No problem. Returning to the standardized questions – what is your role here, Jemma?”
“I…I’m an Agent. I run the science division.”
“What does that entail?”
“Well, usually I’d coordinate the staff and the projects we’re working on, make sure we have the materials we need, that sort of thing.”
Simmons snorted. “It probably hasn’t escaped you that our current situation is not ideal. We’re an underground secret secret base in the shards of SHIELD and we have very limited resources – or at least Coulson let us think so until recently. And I just participated in a life-saving surgery for one of my colleagues who’s flatlined twice today.”
After taking a bullet in the back. To save the man she loved. From Ward.
Simmons took a shaky sip of tea.
“You’re a biochemist, correct?”
“Do you have any medical qualifications?”
Simmons shrugged. “I did field medic training at the Academy. I find it interesting, so I’ve read a lot. Plus things have happened that sort of…necessitated it.”
Skye. Fitz. Bobbi. Another sip of tea.
“Was it necessary today? That you help Agent Morse? You have a team of qualified people around you. More qualified, in fact, by the sounds of things.”
“But I could help.”
“Which has apparently had a significant effect on you.”
“So? I couldn’t stand around and do nothing. Besides, she saved my life. She’s my friend. And she was – Ward was –“ She ground her teeth together. Bobbi’s knee. Her fingers. Traces of paralytic and anaesthetic. How dare he. How dare he, that monster. How dare he be disappointed in her.
“This is Agent Grant Ward,” Andrew clarified, “who revealed himself to be Hydra last year, and dropped yourself and Agent Fitz out of an aircraft.”
What I regret the most.
Simmons threw the teacup. It was mostly an accident. Maybe.
She stood up, and paced behind the chair, resisting and failing against the urge to bury her face in her hands.
“No problem. Didn’t even break, see?” He held the cup to show her, but she didn’t look. Pacing. Pacing. Fury clawed its way up her throat. She opened her mouth, letting loud breaths quell it, praying that he wouldn’t give her permission to speak.
But of course, he did.
The first sound that came out was a growl. A snarl. Frustration, bitterness and anger in one. She pulled at her hair.
The second was: “He doesn’t care.”
She stopped pacing, and fixed burning eyes on Andrew as if that was a sufficient answer. Her heart raced. He watched her calmly, waiting for her to explain. It wasn’t nearly as intimidating an expression as she’d been anticipating. Letting her tense shoulders fall, she resumed pacing, and blurted,
“He doesn’t care what he’s done. He doesn’t care that we hate him – that I hate him – I tried to kill him and he laughed in my face.”
“Why does this bother you?”
“Why-?!” Her arms flew out from her sides. Her mind searched, like the spinning barrel of Russian Roulette, for ammunition, for words, in a sea of black and red and rage and Ward.
“Because I watched my best friend. Die. Because of what Ward did. And I could do nothing. Sure I pulled him out of the water but he- he couldn’t speak, he couldn’t even think clearly at first, and he got so upset. And then he’d get angry at getting upset, and I think it scared him to be near me – to be near any of us. And he felt stupid. He’d felt stupid his whole childhood and he is bloody brilliant and Ward took that away again. And he took me away. That’s Ward’s fault.
“And then there’s Skye? And May? And Bobbi? He’s- he’s a monster. And he doesn’t care. I don’t understand how you don’t see it.”
“It doesn’t matter what I see,” Andrew assured her. “I haven’t tried to kill him.”
“Oh. Yes. Excellent. I wondered when we were going to get to this.”
“There’s no need to get defensive. I understand. Ward is a threat to your people. You had the opportunity to take him out, and you took it.”
Simmons blinked at him. “Noone else-“
“At least one other person gets it. I promise. You remind me a lot of her, actually.”
Slowly, Simmons returned to her seat and sunk down.
“But. I.” She studied her fingers. “May wouldn’t have messed it up.”
“Well, you didn’t kill him. We’re yet to see if that was ‘messing up.’”
“Yet to see?” She doesn’t have the heart to stand up this time. “What about Bobbi? And Hunter? One or both of those two could have died today and that would have been on me. On my failure.”
“No, it would have been on Ward.”
Simmons bit her lip. “That’s what May would have said.”
“She’s a wise woman.”
They smiled briefly at each other, before Andrew added –
“In all seriousness, I think you should approach her. It doesn’t have to be a big deal. May’s not the big deal type. Ask her to train you, maybe, or join in yoga. I think it could be valuable for the both of you.”
He looked down at his page. His eyes scanned the letters. It seemed to take a moment longer than it should for him to look up again. By the time he did, Simmons’ heart was creeping back into her throat.
“I…I’ve been doing some observation around the base and in this session, and based on what some of your colleagues have told me about your behaviour. I wouldn’t usually make an assessment so early but given the length of time these symptoms have been present, and the number and severity of them…”
“Jemma.” Andrew leaned forward, meeting her eyes with a gaze that was so gentle, it was frightening. “I have reason to believe that you are suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.”
She waited for the horror of it to hit her. For her to resist and claim she was fine and insist that he was making mountains out of molehills, just as she had been prepared to do to anyone who’d given her a second glance these past few months. But no such urge came.
What hit her instead, was relief.
Cleansing, bone-shattering relief.
“Oh.” The sob turned into a giddy sigh and back again “Oh.”
“There’s some exercises to help you out. And I don’t know how bad it is at the moment, but I can recommend some medication to manage some of the symptoms if you like.”
She could hardly hear him between hitching breaths and joyful weeping, broken up with the occasional sob. She pressed her hands over her mouth and nose, and felt herself smile. Felt the hot tears – the frustration, the anger, the pain – flood down her face and for once, leave her body at the same time.
There’s a knock on the door, and a hesitant, “Jemma?”
“Can I –“ She looks from Andrew to the door. “Sorry, I need to –“
In a flash, she’s pulled it open, and thrown her arms around Fitz’ neck. She buried her face in his shoulder and relished the warmth of him hugging her back.