Jericho is playing on the stage. It’s a slow song made for more than one voice. Often he sings these duets with his sister and his sister is indeed singing. But they have managed to drag someone else up on stage with her and it sounds and looks like she’s a hit.
Gabrielle always is. She has a lovely voice. She’s very pretty. She’s confident. She knows how to play to the crowd. She’s a classic. But Kaylee? Well she’s got a good voice and a pretty face too. But she’s also clearly… less comfortable. And to be honest the hacker knows that has an appeal all its own.
It had taken a lot for the Trents to convince Kaylee to join them. In fact, it had taken Jericho nearly wrenching her arm from its socket as he tugged on her stage. At least this is one that they practiced and even better the medley is two of her favourite songs.
She’s happy to let Gabby take frontstage, moving to behind and the side of the other woman. She’s dressed nicely enough, a dress and heels – not the pinup 40’s style that Jericho tends to appreciate but nice, nonetheless.
If she realises how much a hit she is, it doesn’t show.
Jericho adds his voice for some of it. Bass emphasis to some parts. The best and worst part of this medley is that it’s quite slow. So it gives lots of time to breathe and hold out those notes but it’s not over quickly. Now for Jericho and Gabby that’s not so bad. They do this all the time and enjoy it. For Kaylee?
It’s going to be a long several minutes.
Gabby tugs Kaylee from slightly behind her to directly beside her as they go into the creshendo. Look folks. Here she is. Kaylee Simmons.
Breathing is definitely the worst part. Remembering to do it, to be exact. Kaylee actually stops breathing when Gabby draws her forward, missing a beat, stumbling over the notes and words quickly to pick it up again.
Then she casts a look at Jericho. He’s in her head when he wants to be, he can see how this is making feel … sort of.
It’s the crescendo though and it requires work, so she focusses, smiling at Gabby and finally letting the music just take her. It’s a very shy look that the audience gets.
This has be over soon, right?
Well… it might be over soon. The audience is calling for an encore and Jericho is teasingly looking like he might just oblige them. But what would he play? This was a song they had practiced before. He wouldn’t dare throw Kaylee into something she’s only passingly familiar with, would he?
He would. But he doesn’t. Gabrielle and Kaylee take a bow and they retire to their table where there is food and drink waiting for them. That’s always one of the arrangements with these places. Dinner in addition to being paid.
“Well, that went well I think.” Gabby is saying.
Jericho absolutely would do that. He likes to keep Kaylee on her toes. Maybe something she was familiar with, not just passingly familiar.
But it ends and Kaylee takes her bow with Gabby, the other womans arm linked through hers as they leave the stage. Taking a seat at the table next to Jericho, Kaylee doesn’t think as she leans into him.
“It did. They seemed to like you two. You’re amazing together, you know that right?” The lines of her traces seem to be turning a deep, deep blue.
Jericho offers Kaylee some of his salad and smiles. “They do. They seemed to like you though as well. I dare say that I spotted quite a few of them watching you specifically. Maybe it’s the dress.” It IS a particular style she’s wearing. And she does look good in it.
“We should absolutely form a regular act.” Gabby says with complete confidence. She may be joking a little, knowing that Kaylee has a job that often makes her quite busy and she doesn’t really have time for a second. But still… she said it. And she’s grinning like the cat that ate the canary.
Kaylee happily shares Jericho’s salad, settled against his side as they talk. “They were probably waiting to see if I tripped and fell.” Kaylee smiles “I nearly flubbed the crescendo, surely you heard that.” there’s a blush though as the hacker mentions the dress.
“I don’t know Gabby, with my job, you’ll be playing more often without me. And I’m really not that good.” She can see the grin and she raises a brow. “What has you looking so pleased?”
“I did but most of them won’t have. I’m a trained vocalist. I hear these things. They’re a bunch of people in a bar watching two pretty faces and hearing some nice piano.” Gabrielle says with a grin. “Oh why would I be pleased? I mean I’ve only been pushing you for this duet for a while. And you did just wonderfully.”
“She’s right you know.” Of course Jericho would side with his sister. Of course he does. He offers her more salad.
“Are you only going to share your salad with me?” Kaylee’s traces are still glowing a faint dark blue. Very contented to be sitting there, next to Jericho like this. “Of course you would say that, Jericho.” she sighs.
“Still, it’s a big ask, Gabby and … well, that wasn’t so bad. As long as you let me sing in the background. What if I’m busy?”
“Well I guess we’ll suffer. Or, we could convince one of the other Simmonses to fill in for you and kidnap you.” Gabrielle smirks. Which they could. All of the Simmonses look alike. They don’t all act alike but they could probably pull off Kaylee.
Not that this is a serious plan.
In response to her question Jericho cuts off a piece of his steak and offers it to Kaylee, drenched in juices and garlic.
“Of course I said that. My sister is right. She is often right. Not always, but often.”
Gabby sticks her tongue out at Jericho.
Kaylee beams at Jericho when she gets some of his steak, taking her time to savour it as the other two speak. “Delicious… ” she’s buying time as she looks at Jericho and then Gabrielle again.
“You think I should do this, Jericho?” Why on earth is she even considering it? It sounds like fun, if she was honest and tonight had been good. Jemma had been risk taker, why not Kaylee?
“I … would like to try it again.” Just once. At least for now.
“They really know how to cook it here.” Jericho says. He takes another bite and then offers her another. Kaylee DOES have food of her own, of course. But the hacker will probably steal some back. And at the moment he doesn’t want her to move.
“I think you might find it relaxing. I think that it might be good for you on some level, so yes, I do. Work permitting. Don’t burn yourself out on it.”
Gabrielle nods in agreement. “It’s nice to take a break from insanity, HYDRA, missions, danger, the world ending. We’re human Kaylee. That includes you now. We’ve all got to stay sane somehow.”
She lets out a long contented sigh as she drinks a beer. “So. Tell us how things are going at work?”
Kaylee doesn’t want to move either as she shares the food from Jericho’s plate. She seems so comfortable there, leaning against him. She smiles up at the hacker “They really do and I’m sure yours tastes better than mine.” She teases him, knowing he’ll share her plate as well.
“I’ll give it a go then.” she agrees and considers Gabby’s questions. “Busy really. Between a crazed LMD trying to … sell me out to Hydra, nanites that form an intelligent being and … HYDRA, I’m kind of run of my feet.” beat “I’m still going through Jemma’s journal to see if there’s anymore clues. Whatever happened, she was worried about … something.”
“Oh I don’t know about that. You seem to have pretty good tastes.” Jericho says with a grin.
“Maybe her taste in men could be better.” Gabrielle razzes her brother again. Kaylee will get used to this if she’s not already. The siblings love one another and that love translates into an epic amount of shit talk. Loving shit talk but still.
“Was HYDRA infiltrating do you think? Was it a worry she had for the present? That she might be found out? Or was she more worried about the future?” That someone might get their hands on something and use it in ways they never intended. Both are valid but both are different problems.
“How’s Nano-Steve by the way?” That’s Jericho. Gabby gives him a look. Nano-Steve?
Kaylee blushes at the teasing, glancing down at the table for a moment. “I don’t know, I think the man I have is pretty good.” She’s getting used to the sibling banter but it’s foreign to her. Jemma had been an only child. It takes her a moment to control the colour as her cheeks flame before she answer Gabrielles question.
“It’s related to the Prometheum, of that I’m sure. I don’t think it’s HYDRA, but I’m not ruling it out.” Letting out a long slow breath “I think she discovered about it’s interactions with their test subjects. At least some of the entries we’ve translated mention her asking for a pause of the project.”
Nano-Steve “When the sentinels were destroyed, it looks like at least one got away before it failed. We found pools of nanites up in Russia that were being used for testing. One of them had sentience and we got it away. It had memories of the heroes that fought it… and it formed a humanoid figure that looked like Captain Rogers.”
“I think you could do better.” Gabrielle presses the teasing.
“Alright, pack it in.” Jericho says, throwing a tomato at Gabby who laughs and ducks it. The sibling banter may be foreign to Kaylee but it’s clearly loving. This was a family, what Jericho had. And even if his relations with the others are strained he still has it with his sister.
As Kaylee explains Gabrielle’s brows raise. “Huh. Well Ill be damned. Is it like him? Like, the stories say he was a really GOOD man. Can a machine…”
Even with the memories implanted is the machine anything like the man?
Jericho drums his fingers having been listening to a different part. “Was that pause granted? Or was she just… moved off the project?”
“Maybe I could, but I’d have to go a long, long way.” Kaylee blushes again, leaning against Jericho just a little for the briefest of moments.
She’ll get used to it, what Family means. In a way, Jemma had had that with SHIELD. Not flesh and blood but a deep abiding connection to others. Apart from that, Gabrielle has only ever been warm to the woman.
“In a way, yes. He is. This particular cluster evolved differently to the other pools but I didn’t have time to do more tests. I conjecture that it was the concentration of ‘goodness’ from the heroes is this pool made a difference. So yes, nano-steve is a GOOD man even if he is, in many ways, like a child – he’s learning the new environment.”
“It wasn’t, Jericho and she wasn’t moved off the project. The attack on the Limbo base was about that time.”
Gabrielle just grins. She doesn’t push it any further. She just smiles and leans forward to tuck into her food. Family. Yes. This is family.
“I wonder if he ever might… you know. Want to follow in the real thing’s footsteps.” Maybe. There are Steve clones out there. Not many of them. He’s not a mutant. But he has… value.
Jericho sighs and drums his fingers. “That… could be bad. Ignoring concerns like that isn’t totally out of character for SHIELD but it’s definitely a red flag. Who WAS in charge of the project at the time? We might be able to find out more by digging into their files. Though that might involve me doing things SHIELD would rather I not.”
Maybe one day Kaylee will be comfortable with ‘family’ to spend some time with just Gabrielle.
“I think he might, Gabby. Ian’s been working with him, if you wanted I’m sure he’d love to meet you. He’s curious about many things.” Kaylee answers, covering Jericho’s drumming fingers with her hand. “You’re not feeding me…” she teases with a blush.
“Don’t forget, Jericho, the project wasn’t just SHIELD. DoD had the lead on this and the SHIELD scientists were just consultants. I think that’s why Jemma held on – to get as much information as she could.” It takes a moment for Kaylee to remember the name, the slightest of winces as the neural implants arc in her brain. “Doctor Mattiz, DoD. On the SHIELD side, Agent Pullman was the man who oversaw our involvement.”
Jericho snorts in amusement and offers Kaylee another bite of his steak. Not feeding her indeed. He seems to take it with good grace then. Gabrielle continues to watch them with the cat-that-ate-the-canary look on her face.
Oh yes. She’s amused.
“Doctor Mattiz is a name I know. He retired a while back. Don’t know about Agent Pullman but it was long enough ago that I suspect the same is true. The Doctor’s stuff would have been done under DARPA’s auspices and their records are kept at the National Archives. I’m sure they’re classified but…”
He smiles. He can get them.
“As for SHIELD. What do you think? We run the risk of setting off alarm bells if we dig into something they don’t want us to.” And who is ‘they’?
Good question. But they’re clearly still around.
It’s amazing what a man will do for a good woman and a woman will do for a man. Kaylee offers Jericho a radiant smile. Who would have thought?
“Did you want to him, Gabrielle? Nano-Steve?” Kaylee asks, not wanting Gabrielle to feel left out of their discussions, as her fingers lace through Jerichos.
“Does it matter if we do, Jericho?” Kaylee’s serious. “Something is going on, was going on that’s affecting us now. If it does, we can only be prepared for it, don’t you think?” Can we say trouble magnet? “You can get the DARPA files? I know you can, so don’t be a troll and tease me.”
“Have you had anymore problems of your traces acting out?” He really hasn’t when she’s been around but they aren’t together all the time.
“I can get to the DARPA files, yes.” He’d draw it out. Say ‘maybe’. Troll and tease as often he does. “If we set off alarms though it might make things more difficult for us later on. These people don’t want us discovering something and if they think we’re going to, they might get aggressive. Or violent.”
“I would like to meet him, actually.” Gabby says. “I’d actually be really curious. It’s not really in any of my fields but… you know.”
Jericho shakes his head at the question. “Not any further no but I haven’t detected anything that would really cause them to do that. I’m still concerned that it’s a possibility though.” And concerned that Gabby or Kaylee might experience it.
“We’ll play it by ear, but if we’re discovered, it’s likely to get dangerous. I just don’t see we have any option, Jericho.” Kaylee points out. “You know I’ll do what you suggest. You’re the brains when it comes to that side of things. Give me the SCIENCE! I’m good.”
The biochem pulls her plate over to them, nudging it in Jericho’s direction as she speaks. “Of course, I’ll set it up with Ian. It’s not in Ian’s field either but a range of interactions will be good for Nano-Steve.” They really should call him something else.
“Interesting. Did they start to get less once we started working on your emotional control?” Gabby knows that Kaylee is hooked to Jericho to help with that. Maybe that’s why they’re so comfortable together.
“Or was it when started going dancing?” Now she’s teasing and she looks to the other woman. “You really should join us one night. It’s … quite fun.”
“It’s the science part we need to get to.” Gabrielle says. “All this sneaking around is well and good but we have to actually get the data so we can figure out what they were doing. And why they don’t want anyone to know about it.”
“I think it got less when he got something to distract him.” Gabrielle snicker-snorts. Jericho gives her a look and throws lettuce leaf at her before taking another bite and offering another one to Kaylee.
“Well maybe we should experiment and go dancing and see if it helps.”
Gabby grins. “You’ll have to find me a date if you want me to come with you. Maybe one of the Fitzes? Do you think they’d dance with me, Kaylee?”
“Then we do what we have to get to the science part. If it puts us in danger …” Kaylee sighs. “We go underground. Jemma had her reasons and I know it sounds vain, but I trust her.” She was Jemma, right? The biochem blushes at the snicker-snorts and looks a little stunned by the suggestion. It’s actually possible that was part of it.
“I think we should.” Go dancing she means. Jericho had found a winner there. Kaylee considers Gabby’s request “I’m sure they will Gabby, we can ask one if that’s what you want.” There were a couple of Fitz’s who would be heartbroken to see how Kaylee was with Jericho.
“I hope you trust her. Because you are her.” That’s not strictly speaking true but there similarities are greater than the differences. If Jemma herself was compromised then EVERY Simmons is potentially compromised.
“Well. Let’s finish up here then.” Gabrielle says with a grin. “And it doesn’t have to be a Leopold but I thought that might be an easy one to convince to come along. I don’t want to make anything awkward though.”
Because Gabby likes to enjoy herself. And she’s not quite like Jericho in the ways that she does it. A lot more representative of her generation.
Except Kaylee’s imprint is different to the others and someone had wanted her bought online. “Of course I do.” she murmurs.
“We can ask a Fitz. I know at least one of them looks at you when you visit.” Kaylee smiles, happy to be here, leaning into Jericho, surrounded by … love. Familial love.