5641/I've Got A Bad Feeling

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I've Got A Bad Feeling
Date of Scene: 18 March 2021
Location: Medical Ward: Triskelion
Synopsis: May goes to see Jemma about her unexpected Inhuman state. Blood samples are taken. Near field effect phenomenon is confirmed. And May manages not to get frustrated by the whole thing because Jemma is feeling excited about it, instead. (Well, excited and concerned. But, you know... it's Jemma.) At least, May hasn't been yanked from field duty... Yet.
Cast of Characters: Melinda May, Jemma Simmons

Melinda May has posed:
Now that events have slowed down a little -- and as she continues to experience flashes of emotion whenever anyone touches her, accidentally or not -- Melinda May finally fulfills her promise to Daisy and Peggy to come see Jemma about her recent experiences in Nepal. Dressed in a dark pantsuit and white blouse, which rather proves her schedule has slowed some, she steps into Medical and glances about to see where Jemma is.

Her demeanor is subtly different than usual. Gone is the unrelenting tension in her shoulders and spine and the shadows in her dark eyes that have always given her that sense of fierceness. In its place is a vigilant alertness that is more observational than guarded. Subtle changes, perhaps, but clear to those who know her well.

Jemma Simmons has posed:
It does not take long for Jemma to be found. Or, rather, for Jemma to find May. There was a reason that Jemma had suggested use of the Medical wing, and not necessarily Jemma's usual stomping grounds in the R&D lab. Medical allowed for easier access to certain tests and equipment, of course. While the R&D labs are certainly capable of certain tests that Jemma had in mind, the layout was less than ideal.

Which brought up the other point. The medical labs provided secrecy that was a rare commodity in the R&D department. And discretion was the top of the order for this particular visit.

"Why hello Agent May! So good to see you! And right on time, as expected..." That bright smile of Jemma's is plainly visible as the scientist greets. As far as on time? There was no established meeting time previously....which already betrays that Jemma might know more than she lets on. "Come...let us find an open ward so we can go ahead and do that physical." Physical? Another cover story? Perhaps, but only for the medical staff present.

It is only after Jemma secures a room...with the door closed and the room isolated from prying eyes...only then does she drop the pretense and turns to regard May with concern. "Daisy told me you might be paying me a visit. She told me that you had a rather unique experience at Afterlife....one that only one other person would have any knowledge of." Yes...Jemma definitely knows more than she let on.

Melinda May has posed:
May isn't particularly surprised by Jemma's foreknowledge. She'd have been more surprised, if Daisy hadn't said anything. Though, to be honest, given surprise is an emotion, May *can't* be surprised. Startled, yes. Forced to react to unexpected stimuli, even. But that's a different sort of thing. She sees the utility, however, of their private exam room here, as opposed to something out in the open ward or in R&D. Had she more than just the minor emotional fluctuations that allow her to still be able to priortize and make smart decisions (something scientifically proven to be impossible without a healthy emotional system), she'd likely be grateful. Or at least be able to express it.

Thus, as the door closes and she finds a convenient spot to lean, she gives the other woman a simple nod. "Yes. It took me a while to understand what had happened, to be honest. I didn't really think about it until Daisy said something to me. We agreed I'd come to see you. I have come to believe it's a wise idea. I've had some... disturbing episodes since returning."

Jemma Simmons has posed:
"Yes, well...Daisy is a dear friend." A statement given, as if it answers everything as to why Jemma is aware. And...as to what? Jemma continues. "She had mentioned terragenesis. I, quite frankly, was shocked to hear of it, to be perfectly honest. However, I trust Daisy...and she certainly has the knowledge base." 'Takes one to know one' seems to be the rule of thumb here. "I did take the liberty of looking at your previous medical records once I had some time to do so, but regrettably there wasn't as thorough of testing as I would have liked." Meaning that no one was looking for the inhuman genetic tracers that Jemma herself would know to look for.

Jemma turns to regard May fully, giving the senior agent her undivided attention. "You....said you had some episodes? May I ask what they consist of?" A tablet...Jemma's usual piece of equiment...makes an appearance from the labcoat pocket specifically designed for it. Fingers flutter on the surface, opening up a private program for notetaking. "It could give us a clue as to what your given abilities are...as well as give us an idea on how to handle said abilities."

Melinda May has posed:
May nods, slipping off her jacket and rolling up the sleeve of her blouse. Given Jemma's words, she's pretty sure she's in for a blood test -- not that she didn't expect it anyway. "When it happened," she says, referring to her terragenesis experience, "I was more focussed on the fact Gonzales had shattered and HYDRA was dropping missiles on our heads. I didn't really register I should have been just like Gonzales. I only knew people were in trouble, so I reacted." That, really, isn't that unusual for her. Indeed, it's the impulse that gave her her moniker, The Cavalry. No surprise there. She's really just providing information with that statement.

As to her 'episodes'. "I don't feel anything," she says. There's a beat. She revises her statement. "I don't feel anything *strongly*. I can prioritize. I know who and what should be important to me and can act accordingly. But beyond that, I can't say I'm happy or unhappy, angry or sad, or anything else for that matter. Generally, I'm calm, alert, and able to see things quite clearly. I find that satisfying to a degree. However..."

She looks down at one hand, holding her palm up as if she were inspecting it. Then, she looks back to Jemma. "If I touch someone, or if someone touches me, I seem to mirror their emotions. I touched a suspect we were interrogating and felt afraid. Peggy touched me in the car and I felt all her guilt and anger about HYDRA. I met a potential new recruit yesterday and shook her hand, and felt her excitement, apprehension, and even confidence. When we were no longer in physical contact... I no longer felt anything."

Jemma Simmons has posed:
The tablet is placed to the side as May talks about the attack of HYDRA. There is a nod of recollection. After all, Jemma was at Afterlife, too, even if it was only at the camp and mostly in the quinjet itself. But, it makes sense. There really isn't much time to think in a situation like that. Acting on instinct is expected.

However, as Jemma does prep for that inevitable blood draw, the symptoms catch her..and those brown eyes shift to regard May. "Fascinating." It...doesn't sound like an exclamation of amazement...but rather had a certain cadence. One that anyone that has watched old sci-fi television shows would be familiar with. "You...have repressed emotions, but can operate based on logical deductions. It would sound...as if you became a Vulcan."

Yes, it seems that Jemma has seen Star Trek.

But...then the touching aspect is mentioned. "Wait, wait. You have contact-induced empathic abilities? You feel what another feels by touch? Does....does it require skin-to-skin contact?" Already, the questions are coming....and a thought crosses Jemma's mind. How is she going to do a blood draw without touching May??

Melinda May has posed:
May shakes her head simply, not nearly so concerned about potentially feeling Jemma's emotions as Jemma likely is. "No. Peggy touched my arm, but I was wearing a coat. When I touched Vogel, he had a jacket on. Sara's hand was bare, of course, as was mine." Which suggests it doesn't require skin-to-skin contact. Perhaps merely close proximity.

She is, in fact, familiar with Vulcans; she's been known to watch old Star Trek episodes on late night tv. But the connection didn't really occur to her. "I suppose... I would really like to know if my emotions will ever return to normal, or if they're going to stay like this." She's not entirely sure that would be a good thing... logically or deep down in whatever emotions still remain within her.

Jemma Simmons has posed:
Jemma touches on the return of emotions first, before addressing the emotional conveyance methodology. "Well, regrettably, I do not know. From my experience, each ability is unique to the individual. I would imagine that it will take some time to truly discover as such. I really do wish I could just offer a time window and say everything will be fine, but it is rather difficult to make a diagnosis when we are dealing with variables that are literally as unique as fingerprints."

A shrug is given, with an apologetic smile. "I really do wish I had an answer." The syringe for the blood test is regarded, with the idea of close proximity spinning in her mind. "Do...you mind if I took a sample? I would also like to test this proximity theory. If you could tell me when you start to sense my emotions, that would be most helpful. Determining the exact threshold or trigger can only help us."

There is certainly concern for May from Jemma. But...there is something else, should May is close enough to sense it. An underlying sense of excitement...a small thrill. This is a problem that Jemma sees her duty to solve and she always is eager to help those she considers her friends.

Melinda May has posed:
"Go ahead," May says, offering her arm. She also, with a simple nod, conceeds to trying to tell her when the emotions start to rise for her. Thus, she waits patiently for the scientist to approach her with the inevitable rubber tourniquet rather than the needle, deciding that is likely the better time to tell her what she feels and when.

Her brows begin to crease when Jemma's hand is about an inch, maybe two, away from her skin. "You're concerned," she says, her eyes reflecting that concern clearly, the tension leaking across her shoulders. A bit of a wry, almost amused smile touches her lips. "And excited. You really do like these sorts of things, don't you?" If she didn't know the emotions were Jemma's and not her own, she'd assume it was her own concern, her own excitement... or she'd just be confused, as she was with Vogel and, at first, with Peggy. But... she's beginning to understand.

Jemma Simmons has posed:
The hand stops as May begins to pick up on the doctor's emotional state. That concern mingled with excitement flushes to an amazement as Jemma notes the distance. "That is utterly brilliant. It is a near field phenomena!" The exclamation earns another emotion for May to pick up on, a quick flash of embarrassment, before dissipating back to the concern with a twitch of excitement. "Well...yes, I am concerned. I mean, who wouldn't be. As for the excitement...well....I was hoping you didn't quite catch that." Twinge of embarrassment once again. "But...yes, if I am being truthful, I do like discovering new things. Solving puzzles, learning how the world works. It is all terribly, well, exciting for me. I do hope you don't mind."

With the distance noted, Jemma works quickly from there. The syringe is inserted, blood drawn, and sample stored away with only the slightest of guilt registered. Probably for having to do the draw itself. But, once that was done, the excitement returns, stronger than before, as Jemma enters her notes into the tablet. "I am assuming it is a proximity of two inches from any point on your person, May, that you start to sense emotions. And...your ability to identify specific aspects is astonishing. Most people are not able to determine what their own emotional state is at any given time. You were able to identify mine in moments."

Melinda May has posed:
May shakes her head. She doesn't seem to mind. Of course, to be fair, while Jemma remains in proximity, she shares both her excitement and her concern. The guilt is barely a blip on her radar, brief as it is. "I can't tell you *why* you're concerned or excited, specifically," she tells Jemma. "I can make an educated guess, though. I mean... I have known you quite a while now."

All of which translates to the fact she can guess Jemma's concern for her stems from the same root as Peggy's and Daisy's: They're friends. And she can guess Jemma's excitement stems from the fact she's found another puzzle. She's seen Jemma react to puzzles in ways others find inappropriate before now. So, it's not a hard leap. The guilt? That's perhaps harder to pinpoint, partly because of its brevity... though she could likely guess it was the needle prick if she spent the mental energy to do so.

"But I don't think I can guess a stranger's mindset so easily. I know that Vogel was afraid. He had reason to be. He believed his life was in danger. He also felt superior, but I think that's just because he's a HYDRA prick." It helps she's still in close proximity to Jemma; make it easier to have an opinion like that have bite.

However, as the doctor retreats, her sense of concern, excitement... and anything else, for that matter, recedes again. She lets out a soft breath.

Jemma Simmons has posed:
The scientist's tone takes on a pondering air...as the mind leaps to make connections between what May is saying and what Jemma is observing. "That does make sense, though. If it is true empathy, as we suspect it is, then without the mental context you *wouldn't* know why one feels as they do. I could imagine it is incredibly disturbing, to feel an emotion and having no clue as to why."

Then, as Jemma listens, notes are recorded...and Jemma offers more conjecture. "With this Vogel, you were able to use visual cues with your empathic ability to gain insight. This....does give you an edge with interrogation, I would imagine. It isn't mind reading, so to speak, but it is still extremely useful. A truth sense, if you will." A pause. "I can see how this can be useful for other functions, too. I mean, provided we can find a way to control it."

There is that sense of 'we'. It isn't Jemma's ability...but she is willing to help May with it. A flash of compassion radiates from Jemma, before she finally backs away enough to break the emotional connection.

And, as she does so, the loss of emotion is visible for the doctor. The visual ticks lessen and simply cease. While it was always difficult for most people to determine May's emotional state due to her normally stoic nature, the fact that not even the subtle clues are not there for Jemma to see causes her to frown, visibly. It doesn't take an empath to know what exactly Jemma is feeling.

"Hmm...right. Well. I can take this sample and see what secrets it holds for us. As far as recommendations, we know now that you do not need to touch a person to sense their emotions. If you keep at least 2 inches away from others, you should not be compromised with a flood of emotions that are not your own. However...since we know that you reflect strong emotions when in close proximity..."

Jemma goes silent. She doesn't say it...but it is apparent what Jemma is thinking. If May can be compromised with emotions she cannot control....she may not be able to be out in the field until she can.

Melinda May has posed:
Whatever throughline of emotion still exists in May was enough, even when she was speaking with Daisy, to raise the spectre of the possiblity of being yanked from field duty. So, yes. She doesn't have to read Jemma's mind to follow the unspoken thought. She knows it's a possibliity. Logically, she knows it makes sense. She's not sure, however, it's operationally feasible. Not with Morse out of field work, too.

"I've had a lot of years to learn to control strong emotions," she notes calmly. "I've also still been training junior agents in combat. I haven't found fighting to convey the same risk of emotional transference. I suspect because the touches are relatively brief."

She frowns faintly -- not a sign of upset, but more a contemplative expression. She's considering the puzzle, it seems. "Also, if this... area field effect -- is that what you called it?" She flips a hand briefly. "If it's confined to a certain proximity... my experience says that most people don't tend to get within 2-inches of another person's body without it feeling like an invasion of space, save for brief periods of time and in particular circumstances. I'm not saying there's no risk. I know there is. But... I think it's a manageable one. For now, anyway."

She gives a mild shrug, seemingly fairly equanimical about the situation. "If that changes..." She lets her words trail off. If it changes, she knows they'll have to make a tougher decision.

Jemma Simmons has posed:
"Well, you would know best. I can only give theories. Educated guesses as to what may be. Although..." Another thought pops into Jemma's head, as a question escapes unbidden. "when you first noticed your emotional resonance, about how long after the initial act of terragenesis was it?" The question is certainly out of the blue....and so Jemma clarifies. "I mean, I ask because, for the moment, we know that the near field effect is about two inches from your person. But....what if you grow stronger and that field grows with it? That is a possibility that we should at least acknowledge exists."

However, after Jemma voices her concerns, she relents...backing off from her concerns. That is why SHIELD has her there...to solve these sort of equations. To look at all the angles. It is just her doing her job. And...speaking of such. "Is there anything else you wish to tell me, Agent May? Otherwise, I can certainly run my tests and gather some more data to see where we go from here."

It seems that Jemma wants to get all her ducks in a row before suggesting a plan of attack. A sign of a good researcher.

Melinda May has posed:
May frowns thoughtfully again. "I... don't really know," she admits. "I only really first noticed it with Vogel, though... now that I think about it... I think I must have picked something up from Daisy when we spoke, too. I remember feeling concerned when she touched me. But I didn't feel anything when she told a joke afterward and was no longer touching me. That was before Vogel." She shakes her head. "I really don't know, though."

Part of her wishes she could be more helpful. But she's never been a science type, herself. She's spent some time, since Daisy first helped her realize there was an issue, actually trying to look for layman's articles on the psychology and biology of emotions... but it hasn't really meant a lot to her. (On the other hand, she *has* had a lot more patience to be able to actually slog through the reading. That's a twist.) She thought it might help her understand. It hasn't done much. Fortunately, she doesn't seem to have the ability to feel frustrated about it... yet.

"Let me know what you find," she says, rolling down her sleeve and pulling her jacket back on. "If anything changes, I'll let you know. If it gets stronger." Or weaker, but that doesn't seem to be how these things work. "And... Thanks. This is... strange."

Jemma Simmons has posed:
The information given is noted. Stored away in the back of Jemma's mind, for it to mull it over and over looking for correlations. "It does sound that it might have been merely touch before, then it grew. Though that is only conjecture at this point. Now that we have a solid baseline as to when emotion is transferred, we can be precise in our measurements and map out any trends that we are able to ascertain."

Translation? They have a starting point...and can now tell if things start to ramp up from there.

The request for status is answered with a firm nod. "Absolutely, You will be the first to know whatever I discover. And I appreciate the open communication from you as well. I assure you, we will get to the bottom of this." The serious expression breaks into a wry grin. "Between you and Agent Morse, I have my work cut out for me."

Melinda May has posed:
Any other day, May would grimace at that final statement. Even without emotions, she knew enough to go to Fury and badger him to take Morse off field rotation. She didn't expect him to *promote* her as a result. But it's not her problem to worry about. It's on Fury's head.

Instead, she nods. "Seems so," she agrees. "With any luck, this will be the worst of it." Because she knows... things can get oh-so-much worse.

She steps toward the door now, laying her hand on the knob. "Good luck, Jemma." At least one of them should enjoy puzzling it all out. But there's nothing more for May to do now. So she takes her leave, and lets Jemma be the one to follow her bliss.

More puzzles await.