This is all Jess’s fault, really and truly. Something something Jemma is soft and gay. Hints of OT3 if you squint. Title from ‘Strangers’ by Halsey bc that’s their theme song now.
The thing is—Jemma and Ophelia are not friends.
There’s too much enmity for them to become anything like friends. It’s thick and heavy and oppressive, sitting like a brick in the gut. There’s too much, too many ugly things like anger and reproach and hurt, hurt, hurt.
They don’t talk, not outside of the necessary conversations required to work cohesively on the same team.
There’s nothing between them, nothing but the space they share by necessity.
Jemma has long disliked Ophelia, openly and honestly, but in the weeks since Fitz’s departure it’s gotten considerably worse.
He insisted that it had nothing to do with Ophelia, or Jemma, or whatever messy thing they were, the three of them. Kissed each of them on the cheek, hauled a bag over his shoulder and boarded a plane to Scotland.
Ophelia’s new to things like missing, the overwhelming emptiness that kicks up under her ribs, the way she’s not quite right and not entirely complete. Because Fitz’s absence feels like fingers against a bruise, a dull kind of ache that never lets her forget.
Jemma occupies his space now but doesn’t know how to fill it and Jemma is—
Ophelia finds that Jemma’s anger is a scathing thing, the way it festers like poison under the skin, quiet and seething. She is not like the others. She is not a flurry of spiteful words and teeth against a throat, not a snide twist of the mouth.
Jemma smiles sweetly but her eyes tell no lies as she frames Ophelia with scorn. Blame rests beneath her eyelids and her bones throb with the weight of it.
Because Jemma looks soft but her edges are not and it’s easy to get cut on them.
The thing is, Ophelia doesn’t hate Jemma, not really. Not in the way Jemma hates her. It’s more—Jemma is frustrating. A scrambled handful of complexities and contradictions.
Jemma is skilled hands, a trusting face and a bright mind and sometimes, in the right light, at the right angle, she can almost understand why Fitz loves Jemma.
“Don’t do that.” Jemma says through her teeth one day and it’s almost casual. Her hands don’t shake but there’s anger etched in the crease of her forehead.
Ophelia makes no effort to hide her surprise.
“Hmm?” Her mouth curves around a soft sound.
Jemma swallows. Something flickers across the plain of her face and for a moment she looks less angry somehow.
“You were looking at me. Don’t do that.” Jemma says and there’s irritation in the space between her brows again. “I don’t like it.” She catches herself. Amends. “Not you, I mean, not when you—” Jemma makes a sound somewhere in her throat. Drops the file in her hands and walks out of the lab.
It’s another week before Jemma speaks to her again.
They’re put on a joint project by Coulson. Jemma doesn’t hide her displeasure, jaw setting.
Coulson shoots her a pointed look.
“Is this going to be a problem?” He asks.
“No.” She says. Smooths down the front of her shirt. Presses her lips into a hard line. “No problem, sir.”
It is a problem though.
If sharing space is difficult then co-operation is like pulling teeth.
And it’s a problem because their fingers brush when they both reach for the tablet and—
“Don’t.” Jemma bites out. She flinches, fingers running over the place Ophelia touched her, as if she’d been scalded. “Don’t touch me.”
Ophelia grits her teeth and frowns at Jemma’s unreasonable behaviour but says nothing.
The next time Jemma confronts her she doesn’t even speak. It’s just—
She storms into the lab and there’s purpose in her stride.
When she reaches Ophelia, she surges forward and traps her with her body, Ophelia’s back hitting the edge of the worktop. She’s got a storm brewing in her eyes and Ophelia expects confrontation. A hissing mess of broken expletives. A fist to the teeth or a bruise, deep purple and ugly, splattered across her cheekbone.
It never comes.
Instead there’s Jemma in her space, taut as the string of a harp, eyes wild.
She messily presses her mouth against Ophelia’s. It’s a hard kiss, more teeth than tongue, scraping against Ophelia’s lips, sharp and bitter. It’s a bite, bite, bite kind of kiss.
When Jemma pulls away her lipgloss is smudged and her lips are swollen. She hesitates, as if to speak, but no words come.
She exhales shakily. Leans in and kisses Ophelia again. Soft and slow and intimate, with a mouth that’s hot and wet and tastes of canned peaches.
And Jemma does not kiss like Fitz but Ophelia understands why Fitz likes kissing Jemma. It’s nice. A nice kiss.
She thinks she likes kissing Jemma too.
Jemma breathes heavy. Ophelia watches the pretty flush spread out down her neck to her collarbones.
And she says “I hate you” but there’s warmth in her eyes and Jemma’s eyes don’t tell lies. Her mouth curves back in a smile.
She laughs. A quiet, soft kind of laugh. A nice sound.
Jemma licks her lips. Tries again.
“I hate you less.”
Ophelia nods. That’s—
It’s okay. It’s good.
She doesn’t understand why Jemma laughs at this, not really, but there’s a fluttering in her stomach and she decides she likes it. Her thumb brushes softly across a constellation of freckles sprinkled over Jemma’s cheek.