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God, it was an awful tie. Why did he have to choose one with robots? It wouldn't make him look like a robotics expert, it would make him look like a child. Like he needed to look any younger. He should have known the tie was a mistake when the woman at the front desk asked if he was coming to see his mum or his dad. Maybe he should cut his hair, get rid of those bloody baby curls. And grow a beard too. Or a little stubble at least.

Well, considering his interview was in five minutes, it was probably too late for any of that. He could get rid of the tie though. That thing was a hazard anyway. It could easily get stuck… somewhere. Engineers used all kinds of machines, didn't they? Of course, they did. He was an engineer, he should know that. And then, it would pull him down and he would suffocate and... Even now, it felt a little tight and his face was growing hot and... was this what people called a panic attack?

"Everything alright?"

Fitz jumped out of his skin and let out a rather undignified little shriek. How did someone get so close without him noticing?

"Yeah, fine," he replied automatically although his breathless, shaky voice obviously suggested otherwise.

"Okay. It's just that you look rather... nervous," the nice, surprisingly English accented voice said and Fitz was about to insist he was fine but stopped when he saw the person it belonged to. She looked to be about his age, wearing a blue sweater over a white shirt and... were these little molecules on her tie? She also had big hazel eyes, long brown hair neatly tucked behind her ears and a tentative smile. She was the very definition of adorable. Fitz looked down to where his knee was bouncing at quite a rapid pace and his fingers had a death grip on the handle of his bag. He chuckled.

"Yeah, yeah, I suppose I am that. Nervous, I mean."

Her lips pulled up even more as she sat next to him and he felt a little better already. A smile like hers, directed at him, had to be a good omen if there was ever one.

"Are you interviewing with Coulson?" she asked and he nodded. "For the job in the robotics lab?"

"How-how did you know?"

"The tie."

"Oh, it's ridiculous, isn't it? I should take it off," Fitz said, pulling at it but she stopped him with her hand on his wrist before he could do much more than loosen it a bit.

"No," she almost cried out before looking at her hand and pulling it off as her cheeks took on a pinkish tint. "Sorry… but hum… it's adorable. And Coulson actually has a big collection of old-timey gadgets, I'm sure he'll like it."

"Oh, okay… that's-that's… really?" Fitz asked, scrunching up his nose in disbelief. Her face softened again.

"Yes!"

"Okay. so I'm keeping the tie then?"

She nodded enthusiastically and Fitz chuckled lightly.

"Anything else I should know?"

"Hum… Last year, at the Christmas party, he sang Britney Spears' Toxic at karaoke."

Fitz almost choked on his own saliva and she had to pat his back for the coughing fit to stop.

"What?!!"

"You still look quite nervous," she said, sounding a little apologetic. "Thought that'd make you laugh. And I don't know, I thought maybe knowing that would help him look not so scary to you."

Fitz laughed. She really was an odd bird. Which was kind of reassuring in itself. It probably meant Coulson wouldn't reject him for his own idiosyncrasies.

"Oh yeah, you're right I guess, thank you," Fitz said before the last and only memory of karaoke came to mind and his eyes went wide. "He won't ask me to do karaoke, will he? Last time I had to I was so nervous I threw up."

She scrunched up her nose as she tilted her head to the side and Fitz wanted to roll his eyes at himself. Top notch flirting skills, Fitz. Talking to pretty girls about throwing up.

"No, I think you can expect quite a regular interview. No singing required."

"Ok cool. Cool cool cool."

There was a moment of silence and Fitz wished he could will his leg to stop moving so much, show her that her words were helping and maybe go as far as ask her something about herself. Her name or what she did in the company, for instance. But all he could do was focus on the door in front of him. It was ridiculous really. He'd graduated from MIT before he was even old enough to drink. In the UK. He was perfect for this job and just because his age made it hard to be taken seriously didn't mean he should lose his confidence. She, whoever she was, looked really young as well.

"As a last resort, there's still the old trick of imagining people naked," she said and Fitz chuckled before his brain went somewhere she probably hadn't meant for him to go. He shook his head before his very active and imaginative brain had the time to come up with a too detailed and distracting mental image, which would really do nothing to calm his nerves.

"You know, I never understood that one," he said as he turned to look at her. "Naked people tend to make me quite nervous," he added, grimacing and she burst out laughing. It was a lovely, sincerely amused laugh, not a mocking one and Fitz found that, out of everything she did to try and help, the fact that he managed to make her laugh was probably what gave him the most confidence to face this interview.

"Never thought about it like that but really, the most important thing you have to remember…" she trailed off and it took him a moment to realize what she was waiting for.

"Fitz."

"I'm Jemma, nice to meet you," she said, holding her hand out for him to shake before she continued talking. "The important thing to remember is that he very carefully selects the people he interviews so if he's asked to meet you, half the job's already done."

"Really?"

"Yeah, I have a feeling I'll be seeing you again soon, Fitz," she said while giving his shoulder a tentative but friendly squeeze that made him feel warm all over. Which gave him one more reason to get the job if he ever needed one.

"So you work in the robotics lab?"

"No, biochem. But our departments often cooperate so it's very likely that we'll work together on one project or another."

"Oh, that'd be nice."

"Yes, really nice," she said, flashing him a wide smile.

"Dr. Fitz?" someone said, startling him out of the daydream already forming in his brain about him and the wonderful Jemma working together in a lab, getting to know each other over coffee breaks and long lunches, becoming friends…

"Yeah, that's me," he said turning towards the young woman who had called out his name.

"Mr Coulson will see you now."

Fitz nodded and stood up, making sure nothing was falling from his messenger bag filled with drawings and all kinds of gadgets he'd designed. Turning back around one last time, he gave Jemma a slightly awkward thumbs up and a mouthed "thank you." She reciprocated with a smile and a mouthed "you're welcome". As he turned back around and the door closed behind him, he really hoped it wasn't the last of Jemma he’d be seeing. She'd given him just what he needed to do well for the hour this interview would last-- someone he wanted to impress for all the other days after that.

 

Five years later

Jemma couldn't believe that was how she was going to spend the holidays. Oh, she had actually been very enthusiastic at the prospect of working during the few days leading up to Christmas Eve. Half of SHIELD Tech employees were gone for the holidays and she'd get to enjoy a quiet lab with no distractions. What she hadn't anticipated was her parents' trip being cancelled at the last minute. And with all her close friends being away to visit their family, it meant that she'd be alone for both Christmas and Christmas Eve. And sure, they'd rescheduled their trip for some time in January and it wasn't like the specific date meant anything special for Jemma but despite how illogical that sounded, she was still sad.

Now, the only thing she was a little excited about was her meeting with the consultant from LionTech the next morning, and rumors said he was a jerk. Rumors that might be confirmed by the fact that he had nothing better to do than spend the 24th at work. But well, who was she to talk? And at least, he was supposed to be a proper genius and she was anxious to see if he had better ideas to offer than the guys from the robotics department.

Reaching for her cup of tea, she took a sip and grimaced before putting it back on the side of the desk. Cold. Even her favorite tea was letting her down. She better get back to work anyway. It was late already but she'd had new ideas she wanted to discuss with the consultant in the morning and she wanted to put them on paper while they were still fresh.

She had just started a sentence when there was a knock on the door. Jemma didn't think there was anyone left on her floor and she pondered if she should pretend not to be there, but whoever that was could probably see the light through the glass door anyway.

"Dr Simmons?" the voice asked.

It sounded vaguely familiar through the door and Jemma was curious. Oh well...

"Come in," she said and the door opened.

"Hi," he said, but with her desk light blinding her a bit, she could only make out a silhouette in the shadows. It was a man wearing a suit, not too tall, lean figure. Which really didn't tell her much about who he could be until he took a few steps into the light and started talking again.

"So you probably don't remember me but a few years ago, I was here for—"

"Fitz!" she cried out, not believing her eyes, then giving him a quick once over and really not believing her eyes. Oh he was without a doubt the cute, nervous, awkward, little Scot who had interviewed for a job years ago, but with the years, sexy had come to replace one of those adjectives. She wasn't sure which one yet. A stubble now adorned his nicely defined jaw and somehow made his eyes pop even more and bloody hell, that was a nice suit.

His lips pulled up into a wide smile at her exclamation.

"Of course, I remember you, it's so nice to see you!" she said as she stood up and realized just in time that they weren't old friends and a hug would have been weird. So she went for an awkward handshake instead. Which was nice and firm though, no trace of the shaky nervousness from back then.

"It's really nice to see you too! I didn't know if you'd still be here but since I was around, I thought I'd check."

"Oh so you're going to be working here after all?" That would be the best news she'd heard in a while although she wondered why they needed to consult if they were hiring new people? "When someone else got the job, I thought I'd never see you again."

He gave her an awfully charming smile before answering.

"For some time yeah, and actually I-I got the job, just not the one I had applied for, a better one in the Boston office."

"Wow! And I thought I didn't find the right words to reassure you."

She knew it was ridiculous since they had only spent five minutes together but she felt a slight tinge of disappointment that he had accepted a job where they wouldn't get to work together after all. She would have done the same, of course, but she had just found him so... interesting back then that she still sometimes wondered what he'd become and what it would have been like to work with him instead of the current efficient but awfully boring man at the head of the robotics' department.

"Oh no, you did," he quickly replied, reaching for her arm and squeezing it lightly as he looked at her with something soft in his eyes. "You gave me the confidence I needed back then. I always felt terrible for not thanking you properly but everything went so fast and then... but when I learned you were now head of the biochem department, I saw an opportunity to make things right."

He had his hands in his pockets now and his cheeks were a little pink, like a hint of the shy boy he used to be behind the much more confident man he seemed to have become. Jemma felt her own cheeks heat up at the fervor behind his words. And he was just so charming it made her want to giggle like a teenager.

"Ah no, that's... I'm sure you're exaggerating. You would have gotten the job anyway."

"No really, Jemma. I would have probably strangled myself trying to take off that tie without you."

Jemma burst out laughing. The poor thing really had a very nervous energy back then. She was the one to put her hand on his arm this time, his now very steady, nicely firm arm.

"Aww, well I'm glad it all worked out for you."

"Me too. Although I had been kind of looking forward to working with you. You know, friendly face and all that... but well now—"

"Oh me too!" she cut him off maybe a little too enthusiastically but with the rather depressing holidays ahead, the prospect of maybe seeing Fitz every day in the foreseeable future really was the best news she had heard in a while. "I was very excited to work with LionTech but now that I know you're here, I wonder why SHIELD decided to work with a consultant."

"What do you mean? I'm—"

"Well you know, if you were good enough for the job in Boston, I'm sure you could do anything he can. I mean, I hear he's a genius but kind of hard to work with, prickly or... well I heard jerk once or twice but I'm sure it's an exaggeration."

Fitz's brows creased in confusion but then his expression changed and an amused smile pulled up his lips instead. Did he know the guy from LionTech maybe? Oh no, it wasn't an exaggeration, was it?

"Well, if he ever gives you any trouble, keep in mind that once he threw up because he had to sing at karaoke."

"What? Why does that sound... wait..."

"And I believe the jerk thing is to be up to the Scots reputation and probably propagated by some very incompetent engineers anyway. Not to mention he wouldn't dare be grumpy with the woman he owed his career to."

"Oh my god Fitz!" she cried out, lightly swatting his chest. "You're LionTech?"

He nodded almost shyly although there was still a hint of a mischievous smile at the corner of his lips.

"My full name's Leopold Fitz. I wanted something with monkeys but my marketing advisor insisted that Lion was better. Which is ridiculous really, monkeys would make much better engineers than lions. Even beavers would have been more acceptable. Or raccoons or squirrels, really pretty much any other animal but they wouldn't have it so…" He trailed off when he noticed the growing smile on her face.

God he was adorable! She was no stranger to going off on a tangent herself and she couldn’t help but like someone who sounded so passionate about everything they talked about. She had trouble reconciling this man in front of her, the very awkward one she'd met five years ago and the one she'd heard so much about who was supposed to be a nightmare. Although she had no trouble believing he was a genius, that was what she'd imagined about him all these years. But they were all one and the same and she was going to be spending the better part of at least three months with him. Her holidays had suddenly become a lot more interesting.

"Oh wow, that's-that's amazing, Fitz. So when you said they offered you a better job, you didn't take it and instead founded your own company?" she asked, feeling rather impressed. Maybe their little conversation had a bigger impact on him than she'd imagined after all.

"Oh no, I took it. Worked there for almost three years but then, I started having more and more ideas I couldn't use in my job for SHIELD so I took my chance and founded LionTech."

"Well, from what I hear you did the right thing! Your company is really quite innovative."

"Yeah, I guess we're doing alright," he replied with a shrug and Jemma rolled her eyes in amusement.

"You don't have to be modest, Fitz. You're doing more than alright."

"Yeah, we do but, you know, I don't want to sound like a jerk…" he trailed off, his lips pulling up into a mischievous smile.

"Oh god," she let out, taking her head in her hands as she felt her cheeks heat up. She supposed it was better that he was amused rather than hurt but she’d still insulted the most interesting person she'd had a conversation with in months. She needed to remember this the next time her mum asked her why she was still single. "You know, for the record, I never said you were, that's just what I heard and obviously, there's been an—"

"That's alright, really. I was teasing and I'm probably not the easiest person to work with anyway."

There was a moment of silence where they just looked at each other with matching shy smiles. Fitz seemed to be studying her just as she did him. She wondered if she'd changed as much as he did in the past years. Her hair was shorter, her outfit maybe a little more professional. She remembered him giving her that last adoring smile as he walked into Coulson's office five years ago. That smile had kept her warm from the inside all day and she still remembered how disappointed she'd been when they announced Nathanson as the new guy in the robotics lab. And even more when she got to know him a little.

"So, aren't they going to miss you in Boston?" Jemma asked, breaking the silence before he decided to leave. "We're going to be working at least three months together on this." At least she hoped so.

"Oh no, actually when I founded LionTech, I decided to come back to New York."

"Oh?"

"Most of my closest friends were still here and Boston never really felt like home to me."

"Oh, that's… nice."

"Yeah…" he trailed off. "I just… you know, I really wanted to come by and finally thank you for what you had done for me back then but I thought it might have been weird. After so long, I didn't know if you'd recognize me and I didn't even know your last name—"

"It's Simmons."

"Yeah, I know. Coulson told me a bit about the person I was going to work with," he replied with a crooked grin.

"Ah yes, I guess I should have paid more attention to the information Coulson gave me too so I wouldn't have insulted you," she said, wincing as it apparently still amused Fitz quite a lot. "But to be honest, I was just very excited to work with, well you. Your designs are truly brilliant, Fitz."

"Yeah?"

She nodded enthusiastically.

"Well, truth be told, I hesitated when SHIELD asked me to consult. Thought it might be weird since it's my former employer but then I was told I'd be working with you so I said yes immediately. Again, saw my opportunity to finally make things right."

"Oh, Fitz, really, you didn't have to make anything right, I—"

"That's why I came to see you tonight, hoped I'd get the chance to talk to you before meeting with Coulson tomorrow."

"Well, that wasn't necessary but that was really sweet of you. And it's really nice to see you."

"Yeah, you too," he replied with a soft smile before clearing his throat. "Well, you look busy so I don't want to bother you any longer."

"Oh, actually, I was writing down some more ideas I wanted to talk to you about tomorrow so…"

"Oh, well I can't wait to hear that," he said then seemed to hesitate, moving from one foot to the other as he looked to be searching her face for some sort of sign, before finally making a decision. "Actually, can I-hum-can I buy you a drink, maybe? So you can start telling me about those ideas and catch up on the last few years. Not that we're like old friends or something, we barely know each other but—"

"A drink would be very nice," she cut him off and he let out a relieved sigh before nodding enthusiastically. His hand kept twitching at his side during the time it took for her to tidy her desk and get ready to leave. The nervous energy he had back then was apparently still there and it looked like it was for her now. She didn't know exactly what it meant but she was pretty sure she liked it.


Fitz felt a little lightheaded. It probably had to do with the third drink he'd decided to have on an empty stomach but he was pretty sure it also had something to do with the conversation as well. A part of him had always thought that he'd probably fantasized how perfect and amazing Jemma was. After all, they'd only spent a few minutes together and the only thing he knew about her was that she was a biochemist. But two minutes had been enough to tell him that he hadn't exaggerated either how pretty or how sweet she was. And after an hour of conversation, learning more about her dendrotoxin and all the ideas she had for other projects, he now knew just how incandescently brilliant she was.

He thought he'd made quite a lot of progress in the past years. He was much more confident than he used to be, but when he knocked on her door earlier, he'd felt like he was back five years ago. He'd been literally shaking with nerves at the idea of seeing her, wondering how she'd react and if she'd even recognize him. But she had and she'd looked so happy to see him. Now he was nervous for a different reason that had everything to do with the sparkle he could see in her eyes and the way she'd touched his arm twenty-two, no twenty-three times since he'd entered her office. His heart was beating like he'd been running a marathon all evening and it was a little scary. But also, he never wanted it to stop.

"Fitz, this looks great," Jemma said, interrupting his musings as she handed him back his tablet. "It's exactly what I had in mind, just even more elegant. At this rate, it's just going to be a few weeks of adjustment and testing and you'll be back to LionTech much earlier than planned."

"Oh. Well never mind then, let me delete this and pretend you didn't see it when we meet Coulson."

"What? What do you—"

"I was promised at least three months with the brilliant Jemma Simmons and I won't have them robbed from me," he said, his flirtatious smile probably fueled by alcohol.

"Oh, don't worry about it, I have hundreds of topics to pick your brain about. I was promised a brilliant engineer for three months," she said as she leaned forward above the table. "I'm not letting him go either," she added, her voice barely more than a whisper like she was letting him in on a scandalous secret.

"Good. Glad we're clear on that."

She smiled as she tilted her head to the side and Fitz decided to take a sip from his drink to stall for time and prevent himself from saying something stupid or embarrassing after he'd managed to be, for once, quite smooth. She would learn soon enough that he really wasn't.

"You know, I don't agree to a meeting on Christmas Eve morning just for anyone…"

"Oh no, did you stay for me? I'm sorry I should never have offered to meet on that day, it's just that I don't—"

She cut him off by putting her hand on his. That was new.

"No, that's alright, Fitz. I was staying anyway. My parents were going to come from Sheffield and I was planning on leaving early in the afternoon to cook dinner."

"Were going to come?"

"Yes, they had to cancel last minute so I'm not doing anything after all. So really, this meeting was the main thing I was looking forward to about the holidays."

"Oh… And do you still do?"

She grinned and he could swear she was a little closer now even though he hadn't seen her move.

"I don't know, Fitz," she replied with a playful tone. "This is all very promising but we've spent less than two hours together, I'm going to need more data to be sure."

Fitz chuckled as he looked down to hide his blush and noticed that she hadn't taken her hand off his. She had an eyebrow slightly raised when he looked back up and what he was pretty sure was a knowing smile adorning her beautiful, slightly flushed face.

Oh.

He'd been rather disappointed not to get to live the montage of them becoming colleagues and friends he'd imagined when he first met her but this was turning out to be unexpectedly better than he could have ever imagined.

"Hu, Jemma, I was thinking... it's getting late and I'm really quite famished so do you want to get out of here and find a place to eat? Somewhere... quieter?"

"Somewhere quieter?" she repeated with a raised eyebrow and a teasing smile.

"Yeah. So we can talk some more and you can decide if I have what it takes to make your holidays more interesting."

Okay, so that sounded a lot more flirtatious than he intended, but from the smile widening even more on her face, maybe that was alright. A tiny voice was telling him that maybe it wasn't the most professional way of starting, well a professional relationship, but it was hard to hear it over the sound of his 18-year-old self both cheering and freaking out about what was happening.

"Sounds nice. Do you have somewhere in mind?"

Oh right. Maybe, he should have thought of that.


Okay, so maybe it was the wine talking but she was pretty sure this was the best Christmas Eve eve Jemma had ever had. Usually, she spent it either cleaning the house to welcome guests the next day or going to bed early as not to miss her early flight home. So even though she technically should be going to bed early for her meeting, she didn't really have to worry about that because the consultant she was meeting was currently walking next to her, his hand brushing hers as he spoke excitedly about their future project in the sexiest, most adorable accent.

They'd found a nice little Italian restaurant not far from the bar. It wasn't anything special but the food was good and it was quiet enough that they could carry on their conversation easily. Which really was the only thing that mattered. It was a little before eleven when they decided to be reasonable and leave but Fitz still offered to walk her home. Which she probably shouldn't have accepted but she really didn't want tonight to end and he said her apartment was on his way anyway.

She hadn't had such an exciting conversation in ages and she felt exhilarated. This whole evening was just so unexpected. She had thought about him more often than she liked to admit but she never seriously thought she'd see him again. Sometimes, she'd get annoyed by one of the engineers and wonder if that sweet, funny boy would do a better job. Or sometimes, she'd just walk past Coulson's office, remember him and think about the moment they'd shared fondly. Whatever had happened, he'd been so nervous and adorable that she'd always hoped things had gone well for him.

And suddenly, here he was in front of her, all confident and sexy and insanely brilliant. But after a few hours with him, she could tell he still had some of that awkwardness, wittiness and charm that had imprinted him in her memory despite having spent barely ten minutes with him. She had barely known him before tonight, no more than the nice little old lady she'd helped with her groceries the past week, but the whole evening had felt like reconnecting with an old friend. They were so attuned to each other, finishing each other's sentences and getting excited about the same seemingly not exciting things. She felt like she'd known him forever and in the meantime, she was making discovery after discovery and it was all very exciting.

"So, you're not doing anything for Christmas Eve after all?" he asked, breaking her out of her reverie just as they turned the corner onto her street. How did those twenty minutes go so fast?

"Hum… not really no. Maybe I'll just find a new show on Netflix, cook something for myself since I had already bought everything. It's a little pathetic, isn't?" she said, turning to him with a little scrunch of her nose. "But I'll be eating Christmas food for the next week so it's not so bad. How about you? Do you have any—"

"You should come to my place!"

"Oh Fitz, that's…"

"Sorry, that sounded weird, let me elaborate," he cut her off, chuckling nervously. "My friend volunteered me to host a Christmas party this year. See, Hunter's British too and we usually can't go home for the holidays. So, a few years ago, we decided to do this thing and invite anyone who doesn't have anything better to do on the 24th. Don't expect something grand but there'll be decorations, good beer and everyone's bringing something —hopefully nice— to eat. What do you say?"

"Oh Fitz, that's lovely but I don't want to intrude on your evening, make your friends uncomfortable—"

"Oh but that's the thing, anyone can bring anyone they want. I won't know half the people in my apartment and half of them will be like you, only knowing a person or two." He had an adorably hopeful expression on his face that warmed her heart. The idea of spending another evening with Fitz certainly wasn't terrible at all but she didn't want him to feel obligated in any way just because she'd stayed to meet him. "And you'd be doing me a favor really. To prevent Bobbi from trying to set me up with every single woman she knows…"

Jemma raised her eyebrows in amusement. Well, if she still had any doubt about the definitely non professional vibes going on between them all evening... Fitz's eyes widened as he probably realized he’d said more than he had meant to.

"Wait, that's not… I don't mean that you'd be with me other than as a f-friend, just that you're a-a... and that would make them think that... and I mean I was kind of thinking about maybe... but not tomorrow, not so soon. I just thought it'd be nice to see you again and for you not to be—"

"Fitz, stop!"

"Oh yes, sorry. I'm making you uncomfortable, I shouldn't have said—"

"No Fitz, I mean stop walking, that's where I live," she cut him off, putting a hand on his arm and nodding towards the building behind him. He turned around to look up the short flight of stairs and big wooden door, then back to her with a cute blush to his cheeks.

"That's a nice building," he said with a sheepish smile and Jemma laughed.

"Yeah, I guess it is." She took a step closer. "And It's very sweet of you to invite me. Can I give you an answer in the morning?"

Who was she kidding? Of course, she would go. It was the nicest dinner she'd had with anyone in a very long time but she probably shouldn't look so eager because she had a feeling she could lose control very quickly with someone like Fitz. Still, he probably didn't realize it because he nodded with a smile that was a little unsure. He had his hands deep in his pockets and was moving from one foot to the other nervously.

"Well hum… I better get going," he started. "Tonight was really nice, more than nice even, but I've taken enough of your time." His little penguin dance was taking him closer, enough for her to feel his body heat, making it clear that he'd be willing to take a lot more of her time if she wanted to. She could feel her control slipping with every second their eyes remained connected and every puff of air coming out of his distractingly pink lips. "After all, I have a very important meeting tomorrow morning and I hear she's the best. I better be well rested if I don't want to disappoint."

Her lips pulled up in a big smile. Oh, she didn't think he would.

And losing control wasn't always so bad, was it?

"Fitz, can I ask you a question?"

"Of course."

"It took you years to come and thank me for helping you, about fifteen minutes to ask me out for a drink and about five seconds to invite me to spend Christmas Eve at your place. So I was wondering how long it would take for you to kiss me goodnight. Hopefully, closer to five seconds than five years."

For a moment, Jemma thought he might run away, his eyes going wide and his mouth opening and closing several times. Maybe she had completely misinterpreted everything that had happened that night. But then his hand was on her arm and he was smiling as he pressed his lips to hers.

It was careful and tender at first, his lips moving tentatively, but he tasted of chocolate and cinnamon and when she captured his lower lip between hers, the kiss grew in intensity. He cradled her cheek with his hand and let out a little noise in the back of his throat when her tongue stroked his.

After a moment, he pulled back, keeping his eyes closed as he pressed his forehead against hers. He was as breathless as she was and his hand still on her neck was doing all kinds of wonderful things to her.

"How long until you kiss me ag—"

He crashed his lips to hers again and Jemma whimpered as his arms wound around her to pull her as close as possible. This kiss was as urgent as the first one was careful and Jemma melted into it, forgetting the world around them, people passing by or their future professional relationship.

She didn't have to ask for the third kiss on top of the stairs or the fourth one pressed up against the door of her apartment. In fact, words weren't needed for a long time after that.


All the expanse of her creamy freckled skin was laid out on the bed and it was all for him to cover with kisses. He didn't even know where to begin. Two specific parts were calling out to him, of course but he'd given them enough attention already whereas he hadn't quite taken the time to give the rest of her body the affection it deserved. Sliding down, Fitz bent over and placed a kiss on the lower part of her tummy. She giggled and trembled as he did, her muscles tensing in reaction. So he did it again.

"So naked people don't make you quite as nervous anymore, do they?"

Fitz frowned for a second before chuckling and placing another kiss a little higher on her stomach. He did say that.

"Oh yes they do. When they're older men. Your body doesn't have quite the same effect on me somehow, especially when I'm allowed to be naked as well," he answered, looking up at her with a mischievous smile.

"Allowed?" she repeated before trailing a finger down his spine. "I'd say it's encouraged."

She had indeed gotten rid of his shirt and trousers rather enthusiastically earlier. After she'd pushed him on the bed and descended on him like the sexiest predator, the 18-year-old boy's head inside him must have exploded and hadn't been heard since. In his wildest dreams, they became friends and after years of working together and getting closer, her feelings would start to change and he'd have the courage to ask her out on a date. There had never been a single scenario where he would knock on her door to thank her for her help with the interview and end up in her bed the same night.

"Fitz?"

He must have been reminiscing for longer than he thought. Leave it to Leo Fitz to think about the woman he was in bed with rather than enjoy the moment. He shook his head at himself and placed one last kiss to her stomach before moving back up. He lay on his side and she turned around to do the same.

"Sorry, I let my mind wander."

"I could see that. What about?"

"You? Us… I hope." He cleared his throat. "Don't want to get ahead of myself but what's the policy on this at work?" he asked, moving his finger between them.

"Well," she said, taking a break to think before continuing, a small smile at the corner of her lips threatening to get wider. "It's a public place and SHIELD is a rather traditional company so I'm afraid we're expected to wear clothes most of the time. Not to mention lab safety, we're talking dangerous chemicals and—"

He cut her off with a kiss and she giggled as she melted into it, pressing the length of her body against his. She was getting cold already and he pulled her close, hoping his body heat could keep her from pulling the covers up for just a moment longer.

"I don't want to pressure you or anything, and if it was just that for you then I'll deal with it." He started caressing her hair and she made a cute little contented noise as she snuggled closer. "But I really like you. I think I did the moment you sat next to me five years ago but I was way too awkward and shy to even think of doing anything about it then. And I-I feel like this could become something... nice, more than nice even, but I don't want it to be a problem at work. I don't know the rules on that at SHIELD. It never really came up and—"

"Me neither. Never had a reason to look it up," she replied before looking up at him. "Until now."

"Really?"

She nodded with a growing smile.

"And for the record, if you had asked me out back then, I would have probably said yes."

"What? No, that's not—"

"You were adorable and obviously very smart," she cut him, lazily pulling back to look at him. "And although I love the new suit on the floor of my bedroom, I really did love the curls." She ran her fingers through his hair. To think he'd almost decided to cut them shorter. "And the robot tie."

He laughed.

"I still have it you know."

She grinned.

"Then you can wear it tomorrow."

"So, does that mean you're coming for Christmas Eve?"

"I meant at work but, to be honest, we both know you're not making it home tonight so probably—"

"Oh is that so?"

Of course, he'd probably never leave this bed if he had a say in it but it was good to know she was on the same page. Jemma hooked a leg over his possessively and Fitz's lips pulled up into a big smile. That was all the answer he needed.

"And yes, I'm coming for Christmas Eve. Already knew I would. This is the best evening I had in a very long time. Even before the sex," she said, now distractingly running her fingers over what little hair he had on his chest. "Although that really was the perfect way to end the night."

"So tomorrow, we'll go to work together then back to my place for Christmas Eve and then..."

"Sex?" she offered with that same mischievous tone that made him want to roll his eyes and kiss her senseless at the same time.

"I meant after, you know, in the future and—"

"I know, I was teasing. Although I do expect sex. But really, I'd like a few more traditional dates and more nights together and then… we'll probably have to talk about it to Coulson."

Her certainty made him feel all warm inside. He'd been told he tended to get too enthusiastic about things sometimes but he could feel that Jemma was special and their chemistry was undeniable. Christmas had never been an especially happy time for him, only made better since the beginning of the little tradition he had with Hunter and Bobbi. But he had a feeling this year would be very different.

"Yeah?"

"Of course, just in the spirit of honesty, you know. You're only consulting and neither of us is the other's superior. He's a reasonable man, it shouldn't be a problem."

"And if it doesn't work, I could always try to bribe him with that limited edition Britney Spears album I still have somewhere."

"What?!!"

She pulled back to look at him, pushing him on his back in the process. A wide cheshire cat grin was forming on her face.

"Ah... maybe I shouldn't have said that."

He was glad for the soft light of the bedside table hiding his blush.

"Oh no, I'm really glad you did but now I want to know the story behind it," she insisted so he grabbed her hand and used it to make her lose balance and roll her on her back instead.

"Not now," he said, pressing a kiss to her lips before going down her neck and shoulder. "Let's enjoy more nakedness before."

"No, I want to know," she protested, her voice laced with mischief and something delightful he wanted to encourage a lot more.

He didn't answer and instead kept going down, lingering on the sensitive spot between her breasts as his hands started to wander as well, easily finding their way back to the lovely places that had made her react the most earlier.

"Are you really a fan?" she insisted weakly, voice raspy as her body tensed and trembled. "Was it a drunk purchase? Or a gift maybe?"

"Shush, let me work, I don't think I have properly thanked you yet!"

"I think you have with the drink and dinner, not to mention the—"

"No, not enough," he cut her off, diverting his kisses towards her stomach. "Besides," he said, nodding towards the alarm clock on her bedside table. "It's past midnight. Merry Christmas Eve, Jemma."

She laughed but as he became bolder, her laughter turned to sighs and moans. Oh yes, he had a feeling Christmas would be very merry indeed this year.