“Don’t shoot me!” the small woman says her hands going up the air, looking like she doesn’t belong to the HYDRA building Sam and he had invaded to look for clues about Bucky, she was certainly not someone they expected to find here at the building, but the jacket she was wearing was proof enough of to what organization she is working for.
He and Sam had learned long ago that sometimes the image of the person didn’t quite portrayed the skills she could posses, Natasha was a prime example of that “Give us a good answer on why we shouldn’t do it” Sam is the one that speaks to her first, her eyes resemble a deer caught in headlight, her expression showing the apprehension, she looks like she is making a decision, her eyes darting to the sides, finally she sighs shoulders slumping.
“I guess my cover is blown,” she mutters under her breath and Steve can’t help but finally notice the British accent coating her words “I am not HYDRA” she whispers to them by the looks on the their faces she knows they are not in the least convinced of what she had just said “I work for SHIELD, the Director sent me here on a mission, which just blew up, a hard one year on the mission, mind you.”
She picks her phone, her eyes still darting to the sides Sam sends him a look and he can only shrug in response “Director, I have been compromised” she waits to what he is saying “Captain America and Sam Wilson are here,” she throws their way a small smile almost like saying she is sorry for telling on their status “understood sir, I’ll be at the safe house at 20:00” she disconnects and looks at them, she picks her bag from the chair that it’s thrown over, a gun is taken out from there.
“HYDRA lets employees carry guns?” Sam asks Jemma shakes her head, and starts to walk to the back exit, she makes a hand movement so that they follow her Steve is the first to take that step and soon they are going to the back stairs, she is climbing up, they go up two floors she doesn’t waste any time the first computer they find she puts a small pen-drive the computer starts on its own and suddenly every file on the network is going straight into the small device, two minutes later she takes it out and looks at them.
“We need to get out of here, the next two floors will be hard to get into” they shoot her a look which has her rolling her eyes “not that you two couldn’t get there but the Director has given me orders to take the first escape route, which has us going through the back door.”
“Lead the way” Sam says and swiftly she is going back to the way they had come, her steps quick, her posture tense, she didn’t even seem to look at where they were going “She knows the way by heart” Steve thinks to himself and somewhere deep in his mind he can’t imagine she being an op agent for SHIELD, she doesn’t seem to belong to that world, they reach the first floor and she takes a deep breath, she opens the door with one hand and the door keeps the gun up a quick scan on the floor makes her put the gun back inside the bag and she looks at them, he notices how much fear is behind those orbs but there is also steel in them, she knows what she must do.
“Now we run,” she says and as soon as those words are out of her mouth she’s in motion, Steve and Sam don’t have any option but to follow her.
Half an hour later they are walking into an abandoned building, she looks around the place and gives herself a nod, probably the place was as it should be, she then turns to them a small smile going to her face “My name is Jemma Simmons, pleasure to meet you” she extends her hand to them, Sam seems hesitant to pick it up, so Steve does, his fingers curling over her hand and her fingers closing on his hand, a strange feeling coming towards him almost as if it was right.
“Steve Rogers,” he swallows the m’am that wants to escape, because he knew that in this time women rarely liked when he said that or would find it strange, she chuckles a warm smile coming to her lips.
“Oh, I know! Everyone at S.H.I.E.L.D. knows who you are, Fitz and I studied what the scientist that worked on your retrieval did and we both agreed that some things would have been made differently but at the time Fitz and I were young graduates and couldn’t tell Director Fury he was being stupid,” Steve looks wide eyed at her which causes her to blush and drop his hand quickly, Sam chuckles extending his own hand for her which she takes giving him a sheepish smile “sorry, sometimes my tongue works faster than my brain.”
Steve shakes his head at her offering a small smile “Wish you and your friend had said something to Fury and it’s fine” she seems to a be a bit reassured but not entirely he looks at her with narrowed eyes, now without the HYDRA coat he notices that she most certainly isn’t an op agent “you aren’t an op agent are you?”
“Oh, no, most certainly not, I am a scientist,” she saw his raised brow in obvious question to why she was out like an op agent; she shrugs “we don’t have the luxury of hiding out in our labs anymore.”
He chances a look at Sam, he nods understanding, they had had a direct hand on what was happening now to her life, S.H.I.E.L.D. falling had their help but it was better than to have the entire organization infiltrated with HYDRA agents, Jemma looks at her watch, sighing she takes her phone out of her back pocket, dialing she puts it on her ear.
“We have reached the location, sir” she says trying to remain calm, she knows that the building today wasn’t as full as most days but they would know, they probably already knew the truth she knew that the moment she didn’t try to do something with the Captain and his friend HYDRA would never believe in her again, but she couldn’t do anything against them, Steve Rogers had saved them she knows that had HYDRA achieved what it wanted she and Fitz would be long dead along with their friends.
“A bit early Jemma” she hears the voice of Coulson and surprisingly it’s not coming from her phone, she spins around finding him entering through the back door, she can’t help the way she feels calmer, finally knowing she is safe, she trusted the Captain and Sam Wilson but she knows that Phil Coulson would do anything for his team, following him is Agent May and Skye, Jemma can’t help the warm and relieved smile she gives them.
“Sorry sir, didn’t want to give them any chances” she answers and Coulson notices the double meaning of her words and gives her a solemn nod, he looks over her shoulder and gives another nod to the other men, he continues to walk towards her when he reaches her his hand lands on her shoulder and Steve sees the small squeeze he gives the small woman. He can’t believe that the man that is standing there is the Coulson that had been the reason the team finally worked together, he was the reason why everything was put aside and the priorities finally became their A game, he knows he is staring but he can’t understand, Fury had said he was dead, but then again Fury himself had been dead and it was a hoax.
“Want a ride?” Coulson asks him putting a small smile on his lips, he knows he will have a lot to explain to the Captain, the silence stretches for a few minutes, May says lowly that they need to get going and that seems to spur Steve back into action.
They stick around with S.H.I.E.L.D., Steve couldn’t say there was a lot of change on the agency under the new director, but at least they didn’t have any HYDRA agents infiltrated. He speaks to Jemma and finds that she is one of the most interesting people he had ever met; she has a kind heart and a brilliant brain but he also notices that while she is happy to be in the company of her friends, she doesn’t seem that comfortable, sometimes he sees her more relaxed when she is talking to him or Sam.
Jemma had been helping with finding Bucky and had been trying to find a possible way to make him return to the man Steve had once known or to some aspect of it, but she never wanted to give him a certainty afraid that her diagnostic could be wrong “I can’t be certain for sure until I have seen and talked to him” she would always say to him when some progress had been made with it, but she has been studying the files gathered from HYDRA and it helps her make progress on Bucky’s case.
Steve is spending more and more time with S.H.I.E.L.D., every time he and Sam go back from a dead end trying to find his best friend he doesn’t go back immediately towards NY, to his home, he goes to S.H.I.E.L.D.’s base to speak with Jemma, to receive her smile and to hear her tell him “It’s only a matter of time before you find him,” she squeezes his hand and starts to tell him of a new breakthrough she had achieved on a new experiment and it would take him slowly of the hollow feeling that always settles on his heart.
He sees her with Fitz, the way she bites her lips from stopping to say something else and retracting to herself, distancing herself, he looks at her best friend and the younger man doesn’t notice or pretends not to notice what she is doing.
“They used to be more connected” Coulson says to his right, looking through the window and into the lab like he is doing, Steve looks at the Director there is a frown while looking at his bright scientists.
“How so?” he knows they are still close, he had seen some of their conversations, the way the flux of ideas mingled together and something brilliant would appear from that.
Coulson smiles slightly “I can’t really explain, but now...” he heaves a sigh his eyes a little bit sad “there is a line drawn between them” Steve turns his attention to the duo again, sure they move alongside each other well on the lab, still have a similar flux of a ideas, but they have a space there.
Phil opens the door to the lab and call for Fitz needing him to fix something on the BUS, when the Scottish pass Steve he gives a small nod and continues on his way to where Coulson is leading letting Steve go talk to his favorite biochemist.
Jemma looks up in time to see Steve approach her table, she puts a small smile on her face while her mind chants to her to keep looking at his bright blue eyes and not appreciate de way the black shirt is molding perfectly on his muscles or how when he turns the jeans (he is growing used to wearing them) will give her a perfect vision of his buttocks.
“Captain,” she says in a teasing tone enjoying the way the blush still appears on his neck and he roll his eyes jokingly to her, he searches for another chair and then rolls it over to be in front of Jemma “what can I do for you today?” she asks while her eyes look briefly to the file on her hand.
He stays silent which makes her meet his eyes her brown eyes inquisitive, he asks himself if her really wants to ask what changed between her and Fitz, if he wants that answer, but then she asks his name and he knows he wants to know everything about her, even if the answer can possibly hurt him.
“Are you and Fitz okay?” he asks gently a frown coming to her features and she looks quickly down, an evident sign that that question made her uncomfortable.
“Of- of course we are,” she tries to sound firm and make a ‘don’t be silly’ tone but the way she wavered and kept looking down was an obvious sign she was lying.
“What happened between you two? Coulson said your dynamics aren’t the same” he tries to make her understand where he is coming from she looks almost shyly towards him, the apprehension is clear on her eyes “you don’t have to tell me, I’m just curious…” Steve gives her a small smile and she looks down again and he doesn’t know what to do, he knows that he shouldn’t have mentioned it, but he wants to know to know if he is dreaming with a girl that likes another man.
“I hurt Fitz” she whispers and if he hadn’t been paying attention he would have missed what she was saying “Ward pushed the button and dropped us in the ocean we were several meters from surface and we found a way out but Fitz…” she sighs her hands gripping the edge of the table, she shuts her eyes the images of her best friend telling her that he was going to sacrifice himself for her, because he loves her in a way she couldn’t say it back. Jemma jumps a little when she feels a hand on her own hands, Steve’s eyes are so blue and warm, his hands much bigger than her own with callous from fighting but so warm cover her own hands and she can’t help but feel safe. He stays quiet seeing that she is slowly lifting her head to look at him “He sacrificed himself for me, he is having difficulties because of me and it hurts to see it, to know that I am the cause of it and I couldn’t say it back” she finishes in a whisper, it is the first time he hears her that broken, he doesn’t think just acts.
Steve gets up and brings her into his embrace, her hands clutch his shirt, but she doesn’t let any tears fall, not right now anyway, the way his arms involve her makes it the safest cocoon she would ever need which makes her continue to speak “And then I needed to go and be a scientist for HYDRA because we needed an inside man and Fitz couldn’t possibly go I was the only logical choice and I couldn’t say anything to him so I just left,” he notices the whimper so his arms tighten around her, putting her flush against him “it’s not the same, not with Fitz or any of the others and sometimes I can’t help but feel that they are comparing me to Ward.” He tenses when she whispers the last part to him, her voice is breaking and he can feel her breaking in his arms, he tenses not liking the way she put herself and the HYDRA agent on the same phrase and then is when he can feel his shirt getting wet and knows that she is crying and he lets her cry on him, being silent for the moment letting her give up the pent up emotion.
When the crying subsides she shakes her head and tries to move away from him, but he only lets her look up at him a blush covers her cheeks “I’m sorry for that Steve” he shakes his head at her and before she can try again to put distance between them he puts his forehead against hers trapping her eyes to his and he hears her intake of breath, the way her heart accelerates a bit and has to keep the smile from his lips knowing that she is as affected by the close distance as he is.
“You are nothing like Ward,” he says with such vehemence that Jemma’s eyes start to water again “don’t ever say that, you could never betray people like that, you are good Jemma.”
“Thank you,” she whispers to him giving him a bright smile, or as close as she can at the moment.
He is punching bags at the gym his mind whirling, he had been so close of getting his best friend back, Bucky had been in NY but when Coulson had called with the info he had taken too long, his best friend had just disappeared again. He keeps punching the bag, angry and frustrated that he always seemed to be a step closer and then suddenly he was back to two steps back, it was tiring but there was no chance in hell he would give up on Bucky.
“I see you have already destroyed three other bags I am guessing your mood isn’t the brightest at the moment is it?” Steve stops in mid-motion by the sound of her voice, he wasn’t expecting Jemma Simmons to show up, he was always the one that showed up on the S.H.I.E.L.D. base, mostly because Coulson didn’t like his team away from one of the most secure locations S.H.I.E.L.D. had at its disposal at the moment, especially FitzSimmons because they still didn’t have a proper training on the field though they both disagree stating they have improved a lot.
“What are you doing here?” he is taken aback and sighs when his question seems to be a little too abrasive “I mean, not that I’m not happy to see you, but NYC is a long way from S.H.I.E.L.D.” he babbles which makes her smile and walk to him, she stops when she’s in front of him, her smile is gentle and she doesn’t wait to take his hand on hers interlacing their fingers together.
Since the time she had cried on his shirt three months ago their relationship had evolved, touches where much more frequent, hugs were something normal to do and Jemma had stopped telling him only good luck when he went into missions but when it was possible (when they were at the same place at the same time) she would press her lips to his cheek which in turn made him develop into kissing her forehead in farewell.
“We had to come to NYC, I thought I would stop by” she explains, she looks around her eyes lingering a little on the destroyed bags, and then her brown eyes fixate on him and he can see her analyzing everything, how his shoulders are too tense, the way his left hand can’t unclench and how he is finally breaking into a sweat, she squeezes his right hand “I think I made the right choice,” she says with a little teasing smile which makes the tension ease a bit from his shoulders.
He frowns when he remembers that she is alone and that wouldn’t be very wise to do since HYDRA was looking out for her, she had been branded and was top on their list “You came here alone?” he asks concerned already looking at the exists of the building his shoulders tensing again ready should anything happen, he knows that he would never let HYDRA have her.
She laughs and shakes her head “No, Trip made sure I was inside the building and Skye had made sure the location was secure and that you were still inside it,” she has a fond smile on her lips, her relationship with the team was slowly improving and mending to what was previously, before the whole Ward situation “they wanted to stick around but I did mention that I was probably safe with Captain America.” She teases him and brings his shoulders to relax.
“Only probably safe?” he asks bringing the small British to laugh “I am wounded, Doctor Simmons” she rolls her eyes at him they stay silent for a moment and she becomes serious, her eyes soft and full of worry and he can’t help the warm feeling that spreads through him by having Jemma worrying about him.
Her other hand cups his cheek and he leans into her touch “I am sorry,” she tells him in earnest and he knows he can trust that she is being truthful, she doesn’t judge him for wanting to bring his best friend back, she said she would do the same thing if it was Fitz, she understands that he can’t leave Bucky behind, can’t leave his best friend to figure out everything to understand what happened to him throughout all these years, Bucky deserves so much more than that.
“You are going to bring him back, Steve it is only a matter of time. I think he was here to bring back more memories, surround himself with what was familiar to him, well as close to what he once knew, he has so many memories here and he probably has figured that out already. He’ll be back to NY and you’ll find him and you are going to be able to help him,” he nods at her words, his heart constricting knowing that they have so many memories in this city that it’ll be overwhelming, it is sometimes to him and he hasn’t been brainwashed time and time again by HYDRA he can only imagine what it is like to Bucky.
Jemma sees the way his lips get in a tight line and it doesn’t take much for her to go into her tip toes and throws her arms around his neck, the height difference is a bit much and she is glad when he put his arms around her and raises her so she doesn’t need to be on the tip of her toes, he hides his face on her shoulder and takes deep breaths feeling much better than he had been for hours, her hands making slow circular movements on his shoulders and she tries to bring as much comfort as she can to him.
They spend several minutes embraced like that, he puts her down on her feet but doesn’t take his hands from her waist, she brings her hands to his cheeks, cupping his face gently and her smile is so soft that it brings a small bittersweet smile to his lips “You will bring him back” she promises him and he nods slowly at her words hope firmly swimming in his chest, she smiles brightly at him making her whole face have a glow-like quality.
Jemma doesn’t think about what she is doing, she only notices what she has done when the feeling of his lips are against hers, she moves a few seconds later it is only a peck on the lips but it leaves her face burning and she sees the small blush covering his neck, she is just about to open her mouth to apologize and make a quick retreat but stops by the smile that starts to spread on his lips and the way his hand tightens on her waist, but she knows that the way he is right now wouldn’t be fair to talk about growing feelings so she gives him a small embarrassed smile “C’mon you promised me a good cup of tea whenever I came to the city.” He nods, quickly going to retrieve his bag on the floor a few ways from them and when he gets back to her he interlaces their fingers together guiding her out of the gym and into the city.
When they are sitting inside the small café he had mentioned to her and she is telling about their latest mission, he is smiling at the way she tells everything so animatedly especially when she tells him about the new technology she and Fitz will be re-creating using some things they discovered at the HYDRA hideout. His lips are still tingling from the chaste kiss they had shared and he is more certain than ever that he won’t let her go and will do anything in his power to keep her by his side because he knew from the moment she held her arms up and said ‘don’t shoot me’ his life would never be the same and he is very thankful that it won’t.