canon compliant as of 4.15.
It aches—the wound on her leg aches.
Except she knows that there’s nothing there, on her skin, here in the Framework. She takes off her clothes and sits on the floor of the shower. She sits there, fingers pruning and water running cold, and she stares at her leg. The mark of the knife doesn’t exist, at least not in this world. But the cut is deep, and her thoughts cut deep. She inhales and exhales and inhales and exhales and soon the water is too much and it’s too much to swim towards the surface.
(She has to remind herself that she’s not at the bottom of the sea, not on another planet, but in another reality. And her injuries are still real. The wound on her leg from the Fitz but not Fitz is definitely real. The pain remains even though the cut doesn’t. And Jemma knows that it’s a wound like the others; those that become scars both outside and in.
Because she wakes up with a start every morning, gasping for air with the impression of his hands on her throat. And when she wakes up back in reality the wound on her leg will throb and when she looks it’ll be there.)
Daisy rushes in and meets her on the floor.
“Jemma, Jemma are you okay?” She wraps her arms around Jemma and holds her close, holds her tight. “Where does it hurt?”
They stay like that for a while, the water rushing over the both of them, Jemma clutching Daisy and Daisy clutching her back.
“We’re gonna save him,” Daisy whispers, stroking Jemma’s hair. “We’re gonna save everyone.”
(But a part of Jemma thinks she left pieces of herself at the bottom of sea, and that it’s too late to save her.)
It aches— listening to Coulson as he spews words of hate.
Daisy tenses besides her, her hands becoming fists, and she narrows her eyes. “Let’s go, Jem,” Daisy leans over to whisper into Jemma’s ear, eyes locked on Coulson. “I want to leave.”
Jemma’s about to respond when Coulson catches sight of them, and smiles.
They both freeze.
“Hey girls! Isn’t it such a beautiful Saturday?”
“… Yes. It is.” Jemma manages to say as Coulson reaches over to hand them two of his brochures, each decorated with the slogan: Inhuman Intolerable, report suspicious activity.
If Jemma feels queasy at the notion, holding this vile piece of paper in her hands, she can’t imagine how Daisy feels.
And Daisy, as always, tries to deflect with humor.
“Aw, man!” She laughs and slaps Coulson’s arm lightly. “I thought those brochures were gonna be advertising a Caribbean cruise!”
Coulson’s smile falls, and Jemma senses that it’s time to leave.
“Inhumans are a plague on humanity!” Coulson shouts at them, drawing in stares from people passing by. “This is no joke! How dare you joke about something as serious as a disease corrupting our world?”
She pulls Daisy away, and they both don’t utter a sound until they’re back in their seedy motel room, and Daisy starts to cry.
“It’s my worst nightmare,” Daisy laments. “It’s changing all over again.”
(Jemma rubs Daisy’s back, and doesn’t add that the worst is yet to come.)
It aches— May being the very thing she despises.
Daisy’s asleep when Jemma begins to ruffle through the brochure, and that’s when she sees it. Melinda May, Director of Hydra, the brochure says, and Jemma’s surprised that it’s taken them this long to find out.
She wonders if she should shake Daisy awake– shake Daisy awake from whatever dream she’s having and show her another nightmare.
Jemma decides it can wait until morning.
“Well, there was a time we thought she was Hydra. Guess it’s true now,” Daisy says, after a long silence, crumpling the brochure in her hand and throwing it to the ground.
God, Jemma had forgotten about that. How could she not? So much has happened, so much has changed, that she has forgotten that there was a time when even May couldn’t be trusted.
Daisy leans back in her chair and sighs, running her fingers through her long hair.
“We’ll deal with May later. We gonna do Fitz today?”
It aches— Fitz not being Fitz.
When she and Daisy find him there’s another woman on his arm, and she looks like she fits there. They walk down the street towards the café where Daisy and Jemma sit and as they come closer, Jemma’s heart begins to pound and her eyes narrow.
The woman laughs at something Fitz says.
“Oh, Leo!” she croons, stroking his arm. “You’re hilarious!”
Fitz gives her a dazzling smile, and doesn’t even look twice at Jemma and Daisy.
“Should we talk to them?” Daisy speaks in a low voice, opening her menu and pretending to mull over the choices.
“No.” Jemma replies. “I don’t want to talk to them at all.”
Daisy lets it go.
And when they’ve gone, when Daisy grips her arm and softens her gaze, and whispers I’m sorry,
Jemma’s not sorry at all.
(Angry and seething and jealous that he remembers nothing and she remembers everything.)
It aches— watching Mack and the little girl play.
They had found Mack at the mechanic shop, the girl holding his hand, and followed the two as they got on their bikes and rode to the the park.
“Shit.” Daisy says, watching Mack chase the little girl around.
“Shit.” Jemma agrees, as the girl taps Mack lightly and he falls dramatically, pretending to be hurt but laughing as he goes down to the ground.
“Maybe… maybe she’s just a kid he’s babysitting?” Daisy whispers, as Mack envelops the girl with his eyes and his smile and his love into a fierce, adoring hug.
Jemma whispers back.
Of course it isn’t.
(Because this is what was supposed to be hard, finding their people and getting them out. Coulson hates Inhumans, May’s the bloody director of Hydra, and Fitz remembers nothing. The easy part is that’s not who Coulson and May and Fitz are supposed to be. But Mack; Mack has a kid. He has a good, happy life full of love and contentment. And Jemma and Daisy are going to have to rip him away from his little girl.
And they’re going to have to live with that.
The jealousy aches, but so does knowing that in a world where she doesn’t exist, Fitz is happy.
In a world where she doesn’t exist, in a world where he remembers nothing, Fitz doesn’t have that hardness in his eyes that’s been there ever since she fell from the sky, since she pulled him up from the bottom of the sea, since she left him and crushed him and made him bear her weight.
(I could never hurt you, Jemma. LMD Fitz said to her.
But I always hurt you, Jemma realizes.)
“What do you mean?” Daisy demands, rushing towards her and taking her hands in hers.
“Are you kidding me? You wonder if he’s happier without you? You weren’t there when he was struggling to speak, struggling to move on. I was. I saw. He fell apart without you. You weren’t there when he was tearing the world apart trying to find you for six. Fucking. Months. I was. I saw. You think he’s happier without you? You can’t possibly imagine his–”
“What about me?” Jemma sobs, ripping her hands away and burying her face in them. “What about me, what about me, what about me?”
(The wound in her leg pulses, the cut in her cheek throbs, and the hole in her heart expands.)
“I’m sorry,” Daisy utters. “I know what it was like for him, because I was there. I’m sorry that I wasn’t there for you.”
Jemma wraps her arms around Daisy and Daisy embraces her back.
“Any world that has Fitz and Simmons, but not Fitzsimmons,” Daisy whispers, “Isn’t a world at all.”
May being the very thing she despises aches, especially when she’s so good at it.
The crowd cheers and applauds, little children waving flags and adults grinning and murmuring to each other.
Daisy and Jemma exchange glances before both looking back atMay, with her fist in the air.
“She’s a great director.”
“I’m not surprised.”
“CALVARY! CALVARY! CALVARY! CALVARY!” People chant, their fists also rising in the air, voices becoming muddled until it sounds like one great voice chanting a name that, in their world, Melinda May loathes.
(From on top of the platform, May smiles.)
Coulson spewing words of hate aches, but not as much when he’s not.
They’re in the library when they find him, surrounded by children on all sides, peering through his glasses at the book he holds in his hands.
“Can you imagine?” Coulson reads, his voice trailing upwards at the end of the questions and all the children lean in closer to hear him.
“A world without pain? Without suffering? What a truly beautiful world that would be.”
(But would that even be a world at all?)
“Mr. Coulson?” A little boy raises his hand.
“Yes, Tommy?” Coulson smiles. “Do you have a question?”
“I’m scared. About the… Inhumans. What if the Calvary can’t stop them?”
“It’s okay to be scared, Tommy.” Coulson reassures him, touching his cheek and then turning to look at all the other children.
“Everything will be okay as long as we work hard and we work together. The future will be bright. You’ll see.
(In this world, Coulson still manages to make anyone feel better.)
It aches when it’s Daisy that finally breaks.
“It’s all too much!” Daisy screams, throwing her hands in the air. “How are we supposed to figure this all out? We have to tell them that the world they’re living in isn’t real? How the fuck are we supposed to do that?”
She kicks a chair over and then crashes onto the bed.
Jemma doesn’t even flinch.
“Why can’t it be easy?” Daisy cries, clutching her head in her hands.
“Because,” Jemma whispers. “When has it ever been?”
(They both have so much to bear, but at least they don’t have to bear it alone.)