Daniel finds her after, in the quiet which follows the chaos. It’s always the quiet that scares her the most. The chaos is fine, it keeps her moving, keeps her sharp, keeps the adrenaline pumping through her veins in a way she wonders if she’s addicted to.
Quiet is hard on a good day. It is particularly difficult on a day like today, when she knows her team, her family is splitting right down the middle, torn from one another and not by some force she can fight, but by choice, time, life. Call it what you want. Daisy has no idea what to do next.
“There you are,” Daniel ducks into the still cockpit of the Zephyr, finding Daisy staring blankly out of the window at the hangar below.
She called a plane like this home once, lived out her life within steel walls, the vibrations of the engine lulling her to sleep each night.
They have hotel rooms now. It’s been six days since they came back to this timeline, the right one, though nothing about it feels right just now, and Daisy’s hotel room is too empty. Her feet bought her here instead.
“I just needed a minute,” she supplies, looking up at him, surprised at the way the uncomfortable feeling in her chest dissipates a little at the sight of him.
She doesn’t know what they are yet - not in name, anyway. They haven’t talked about it. But there have been so many stolen kisses she’s lost count, and their hands find each other in the still moments between words, fingers tangle together in a way that calms Daisy inexplicably.
“Do you want me to give you some room?” Daniel asks, pausing in the doorway.
Daisy shakes her head. A reflexive no at the thought of him walking away. “No. You can stay.” She tries to say it casually, but really, it’s easier with him here. She thinks she can breathe a little clearer.
Daniel nods and steps forward, taking the seat on the left of the space. Daisy follows suit and takes the one on the right. Days ago she was trying to steal one of these to fly into space. It feels far away now, like it happened to somebody else, the fuzzy nature of a dream, fading away before she can quite catch it.
“Kora was looking for you,” Daniel tells her.
“Is she ok?” Daisy asks, though she’s not too concerned. Her sister can handle herself.
“I think she just wanted to talk.”
It’s going to take time, Daisy thinks, adjusting to Kora, who is as complex a person as any Daisy knows. She had tried to kill the people Daisy loves. But then she had realised she was wrong and had saved her sister’s life. Daisy understands how being raised in the way Kora was makes you see the world in a different light. How could she not? So she’s giving Kora a chance, thinks it’s important they get to know each other.
Over the past six days, Daisy has learned that she and Kora both favor the same flavor of ice cream, that they think the same types of jokes are funny, both pull the same face when something disgusts them. It’s a start. Something to work with. She figures she’s got to hold onto her now, something that could be good in a world where pretty soon, she’s probably going to be alone.
“I’ll find her in a little bit,” Daisy says.
She feels Daniel’s eyes on her, and she doesn’t need May’s empathic abilities to know he’s worrying, can feel it radiating from him in waves.
“You gotta stop it,” she tells him lightly, turning to look him in the eye.
“What?” He asks, all innocent Boy Scout.
Daisy bites back a smile. “I can hear you worrying from over here.”
“I’m not!” He holds up his hands in surrender.
“You definitely are. You don’t have to worry about me, I’m…” she wants to say fine. And she is , because technically, when you compare right now with her state after fighting Malick, the cold dark void of being dead, she’s doing great. She should feel happy. She’s alive, her family are too, she’s got a new sister and a...a whatever Daniel is to her. Yet, despite all of that, she’s spent large chunks of the past six days trying not to burst into tears.. “I’m gonna be fine.” She sticks with middle ground. It’s probably true, anyway.
“You don’t sound so sure about that?” He asks carefully.
She’s afraid to tell him the complete truth, the long and winding story on how the team became so important to her, why she feels like her heart is crumbling inside her chest at the thought of life without them.
Family had always been an abstract term to Daisy. Something other people had. Now, instead of the strange, longing, angry loneliness she used to feel, the blank picture frame in her mind’s eye, she feels a sense of safety.
Or, she did, before they all decided to split up. Jemma, Fitz and Alya leave for Scotland tomorrow. It still hasn’t sunk in for Daisy that they have a kid , a living, breathing little person they created. She thinks it will take a while, but she’s going to try and be the best Auntie Daisy she can be.
Mack’s got a plateful, Director duties have kept him on calls since they touched back down and in two days he’ll fly out to deal with a brand new crisis that Daisy isn’t a part of. Elena’s going too, her own battles to wage.
May and Coulson haven’t decided where they’re going yet, and Daisy’s grateful for that. She needs them, if only for a little longer. She’ll take what she can get.
Kora wants to go with Daisy, so at least she’ll still have one person with her.
And Daniel...Daniel, Daisy has no idea about. He has to learn how to live in the twenty-first century, she guesses. To figure out computers and fast cars and ATM points. She hasn’t asked him where he plans to go. She’s been scared of the answer. He grounds her in a way that’s brand new, and if she loses that right now, she’s going to become untethered. She just found him and, maybe it’s selfish of her, but she wants more of him. He makes her happy.
And just like that, she needs to know. She needs answers on where he’s going to be. If he plans to walk away, fine. Better to know now, before she gets too attached. (Like she hasn’t done that already.)
“What are you gonna do?” Daisy asks. He looks at her a little blankly in return, and she realises she maybe should have chosen her question a little more carefully. “I mean, you’re stuck in this time now, and everyone else seems to have some big plan, so...what’s yours?”
She leans back a little, as though bracing for a physical force. Let him tear off the bandaid.
“Oh,” Daniel rubs at the back of his neck, elbow stretching the blue fabric of one of the only two shirts he seems to own. Daisy makes a mental note to suggest they go shopping, before he heads off into the sunset. Or, wherever he’s about to announce he’s going. “I was actually thinking I’d stick around here for a little bit.”
“Here?” Daisy frowns. Here is a little vague. She needs specifics right now.
Daniel holds her gaze for a second, takes a deep breath in. “With you. I wanted- I’d like to stick around with you. If you’ll have me, that is. I like...spending time with you. And I’d like to spend a lot more of it. With you.”
He’s nervous. Daisy can’t believe she’s made Daniel Sousa, of all people, nervous. She’s not quite sure what that means yet, too tired to unpack it, aside from this: he’s saying he’ll stay.
Whenever Daisy wants to go, Daniel will be there too. She doesn’t have to do this alone. And when the world gets a little heavy, which it always does, she’s pretty sure he’ll help her carry it.
“I guess that sounds ok,” Daisy shrugs, nonchalant.
“Are you sure?”
“Yes,” she breaks into the smile she’s been holding back, and leans over to capture his lips with her own.
The first time she kissed him, back in the time loop, Daisy saw fireworks, sparks working their way to every corner of her body. It was the same the second time, the first real time, the first one he remembers. Now, days later, the fireworks have already begun to settle to a steady swirling in her stomach, the calm he brings to her washing over her like a tidal wave. It’s passion, but something deeper.
Daisy wonders if it’s love.
After a month of limbo, of waiting, of watching everybody else leave, Daisy is assigned to S.W.O.R.D. It’s exciting to finally be doing something - something brand new, her own adventure whilst everyone else goes off on theirs. Even better, she’s bringing Daniel and Kora with her too. The three of them are assigned to D.C to prepare for the mission, a few months of training and intelligence gathering.
“So, what exactly are we going to be doing?” Daniel asks Daisy, the day before they leave. Everything happened pretty quickly, the way they operate best.
She’s packing up the hotel room, surprised at how much crap she’s managed to acquire over the past month. Daniel watches from her bed, perched on the edge of the mattress beside her open bag. He had appeared at her doorway ten minutes earlier, asking politely if he could come in - ever the gentleman. Daisy had rolled her eyes and pulled him in by the wrist. They’ve spent almost every day together over the past month. He knows by now that he can come in whenever.
“Astro ambassadors!” Daisy fills him in.
“Which means what, exactly?”
“Uh…” if she’s honest, Daisy isn’t quite sure. She’s been so excited to finally have something to do, that she hasn’t stopped to question what yet. “Touring space. Showing alien lifeforms that Earthlings come in peace. That kinda stuff, y’know?”
“Alien lifeforms. Sure. Right. All in a day’s work.”
She laughs softly, crossing to the bed to squash the last of her shirts into the bag, trying to jam the zipper closed. “It’s gonna be fun.”
“If you say so.”
She looks up, conceding that the bag just doesn’t want to close, and finds him looking at her in that way he’s been doing recently. Like she’s the only thing in the room. Or at least, the only thing that matters. It makes her cheeks heat, stomach flutter. She has to look away - it’s like looking directly into the sun, too much and she’ll combust.
Instead, she focuses on attempt number two of pulling the zipper closed over her worldly belongings, everything she owns fitting into a black carryall. It doesn’t cooperate, splitting the zipper teeth in two instead. Daisy abandons it with a groan of frustration, hoping it’s not some kind of omen.
They leave early the next morning, after Daisy has said goodbye to May and Coulson. They’re both leaving in days, too. She hugs them one at a time, fills the hugs with all of the words she doesn’t know how to say and hopes they understand. It’s not enough. She wants to write them letters, thick envelopes stuffed with pages to make them understand what they mean to her, but she doesn’t think she knows the words yet, so this will have to do.
Daniel’s hand finds hers as they walk away, squeezing reassuringly. She hadn’t told him how sad she was to leave them, but he’s figured it out anyway. It’s a recurring theme with him, Daisy’s learning. He can read her like he’s learned her by heart, effortlessly, like her emotions were something patented into him at birth.
It’s Kora who suggests the apartment. There are bunks on base, but they’re small and crowded, and they’ll be here for five months at least. Daisy is quick to agree - it’s not the same living on base when the people you live with are strangers. She’s never had an apartment before. It could be nice.
They rent a little three-bed an easy commute away from the base. It’s a furnished fourth floor walk up, a large balcony on the east side colored green with plants, spilling from terracotta pots and climbing the red brick of the building. It’s a space to breathe, to take a second away from the world and regroup.
The apartment has three bedrooms. After two days, it becomes clear that only two are going to get any use.
Sleeping in the same bed is not something Daniel and Daisy ever meant to become a habit. It’s just that back in the hotel, Daisy got lonely. She had asked him to stay. And then the nightmares which had restarted, now that her brain has time to process everything and realise that she had died , the nightmares she’d been having every night for the past two weeks, had disappeared with him beside her. She had woken up feeling more refreshed than she had in a very long time, so she asked him to stay again. She’s pretty sure he’d do anything to make her happy, would climb into a spaceship and bottle up stardust from far flung systems if she asked. So of course, he stays.
In the apartment, the little blue bedroom Daisy had claimed as her own, they wake up tangled together more often than not, though they don’t often start the night out that way. They’re magnetic, find their way towards one another in their sleep, like every inch between them on the crisp white sheets is an unbearably unacceptable unit of space. Daisy becomes accustomed to waking up with his arm draped across her waist, to the soft kiss he presses to her hairline when he wakes up, a gesture that seems to come automatically to him every time he wakes up beside her.
He’s gone one morning when she wakes up, after they’ve been there a week or two, and she panics a little, snapping quickly out of her drowsy state and immediately running through every possible solution for where he might’ve gone.
And then he steps into the room a second later, apologetic, admitting he tried to make her breakfast, only he has no idea how their fancy new appliances work. She laughs, rolls out of bed and shows him how to programme the microwave without setting a fire. She doesn’t tell him how worried she had been for those few seconds after she woke up alone.
A routine creeps in, something Daisy is unfamiliar with. She hasn’t really had one of those since she left St. Agnes’. If she's honest, it makes her uneasy. They’re working towards the start of the mission, but it feels too much like standing still, and she’s antsy to start moving again, to face a life or death situation she knows how to handle.
She tries to enjoy this brief pause, eating dinner with Kora, or helping to train new recruits for the mission, or simple things like visiting IKEA with Daniel when they need to replace the toaster (don’t ask). But Daisy can’t escape the feeling that something terrible is around the corner, that she shouldn’t be able to relax because it’s going to make it so much harder when any semblance of a life she builds is ripped away from her.
Daniel senses it, because of course he does. Daisy doesn’t think she’s been very subtle. But she never asked for anybody’s help. He gives it anyway.
Kora and Daniel are seated around the kitchen table one evening when Daisy gets in from a run, looking at her like they’ve been waiting. She freezes en-route to the shower.
“What is this, an intervention?”
“A what?” Daniel frowns.
“An int- never mind,” Daisy shakes her head, adds ‘interventions’ to the long list of things Daniel Sousa is unfamiliar with.
“We’ve been making a list,” Kora tells her, gesturing to the college-ruled notebook sitting open on the table.
“What is it?” Daisy frowns, approaching to take a look at the lines of black ink, Daniel’s chicken-scratch handwriting.
“Things we - mostly him, let’s be honest - don’t understand about twenty-nineteen.”
“Groceries?” Daisy reads out the first bullet point.
“Why are your grocery stores like that ?” Daniel asks, a little exasperated.
“I don’t know, did you try Googling it?”
“See point three,” Daniel taps the paper in front of him.
“Google,” Daisy reads aloud. “Ok, we have a lot of work to do here,” she sighs, reading down the list. “New York?”
“We’d like to see it,” says Kora.
“What are they?” Daniel frowns.
“Why is it like this?” Kora despairs.
Daisy reads to the end of the list. And then she steals the fancy black fountain pen Daniel insisted on buying, swearing that he writes better with one, though his handwriting on this piece of paper is no evidence of that, and she makes a plan.
The next five months, whilst they wait to launch into space, are filled up with helping a frustrated Kora and bemused Daniel to understand what it means to be in America in the twenty-first century. Daisy gives them a crash course in technology, helps them figure out YouTube so they can learn pretty much anything they’d like with the guidance of a stranger on the internet, takes them on a culinary tour of the city and laughs way too hard at the expression on Daniel’s face when he tries one of the level three spice curries at the Indian place down the street.
The three of them take a quick trip to New York, spend a day at the beach, visit May as she’s setting up the new Academy, and host the Fitzsimmons family for three days, marveling at how much Alya has grown. When they leave, Alya proudly gifts them with a crayon self portrait which they stick to the fridge with Empire State Building magnets.
As their time on earth comes to a close, Daisy realises the apartment has come to feel like home. She no longer feels like she’s suffocating if she stays there all day. Rather, it’s somewhere she feels safe and comfortable. She’s sad at the thought of leaving until she really thinks about it and realises that soon, she’ll have a new home somewhere else. She’s a grown adult, and she can make a home any place she chooses, with anyone she chooses to make it with. Kora and Daniel are both coming with her on this adventure, and she’s sure the three of them will soon make a corner of the new Zephyr into a place that feels as comforting as this apartment has come to.
Whenever they wind up, Daisy’s interested to see how things with Kora progress, as she feels more like a piece of her family every day. She’s also excited to see what happens next with Daniel.
Her relationship with him is something brand new. It is not the fickle teenage crushes she felt on older kids in the orphanage, it is not the smoldering forest fire heat of falling for Ward, nor the fizzing current of a storm of being in love with Lincoln.
It’s stepping into the ocean on a still day, floating out, letting the water take you where it wants and trusting it will bring you back safely onto the beach at the end of the day.
Before they leave for space, they have some last minute preparations to do. Nothing practical - that’s all been dealt with, but Daisy needs to prepare Daniel for life off-planet the same way she spent most of her life inadvertently preparing herself. She needs to show him as many space movies as they can cram into their spare hours in the week before launch.
“What’s this one about?” He squints at the TV as the opening scroll of A New Hope begins.
“What’s it about ?” Daisy scoffs. Of all the things she’s had to wrap her head around, the fact that he’d never even heard of Star Wars until a few weeks ago is one of the biggest ones. The existence of Alya was easier to accept than this. “Just watch it. You’ll see.”
Daniel watches all three of the original trilogy in one night. Daisy spends most of that time watching him to make sure he’s reacting in the intended way. He does, for the most part, though he claims he called Vader being Luke’s father from a mile off. When it’s over, final credits filling the screen, Daisy sits back and asks him what he thought.
“It was interesting. Sure,” he nods.
Daisy gapes. “You just watched the original trilogy for the first time and that's all you have to say for yourself?
“I mean, I enjoyed it, sure!” He adds. Daisy shakes her head at him, too little, too late. “It’s not very realistic, though. Space isn’t like that, we’ve been there.”
“You were there for like, an hour!” She teases. “Maybe it is like that. Maybe we just haven’t been deep enough in yet.”
“It’s possible,” he concedes.
They pepper Star Trek into their nights over the next few days, Daisy showing him a couple episodes of the original series before moving on to the newest movies, hoping that the flashy twenty-first century effects will inspire him. Only, his reaction is much the same to this as to Star Wars. She’s not disappointed , per se, but takes it as a personal challenge to find a movie that’s going to evoke an emotional reaction from him.
They try Interstellar next. Daniel’s reaction to this one is a little better. At the end, when Cooper wakes up in the space station, still young whilst everyone he knew in his own time is dead or dying, Daisy thinks she hears Daniel’s breath hitch a little in his throat. Man out of time. Right.
She knows he has hard days with it. There are moments she catches him staring into nothingness like he’s stuck inside a memory. She tugs him back with careful kisses, and on those nights he pulls her particularly close and falls asleep with fingers on the pulse point in her wrist. She doesn’t think he regrets coming here, to this time. It’s not regret about being here, but survivor’s guilt, or something like that. It’s the fact that he must have a pile of regrets from his own time as tall as he is, things left unsaid, undone, unfinished tasks stuck in 1955.
She checks he’s ok, the night after Interstellar, through the pitch darkness of the bedroom that’s become theirs.
“You don’t regret it, right? Staying here?” She broaches the subject. He’s stuck here, sure, but the team has figured their way out of some damn tight spots before. She’s sure they could find a way to send him back to 1955 if he really wanted. Despite the fact that he’s supposed to be dead there.
“What?” He turns to her. “Of course I don’t. Why would you think that?”
Daisy worries her bottom lip. “I don’t know. It’s just this huge adjustment for you. I don’t want...I don’t want you to feel obligated to stay here with me. We could probably figure out a way to send you to any time you wanted, I could call Fitz first thing and-”
“Hey,” he cups her cheek, callused hands cool on her skin. “There’s no place else I’d rather be. I love - uh, I love it here. With you.”
Daisy blinks. Had he been about to…? No. She shakes the thought away. They still haven’t defined their relationship, and she’s fine with that. Taking things slow is exactly what she needs right now, and she thinks it’s the same for him too.
Love, like family, is a concept Daisy has a strange relationship with. She used to think it was a lie, that a romantic, unconditional kind of love was an urban myth, something invented by Hallmark to sell cards. They studied love poems in English class in high school and she thought that’s all love was; an interesting idea, a concept that worked well in fiction. Akin to mermaids.
She’s known for a long time she was wrong. She developed new theories about love, hypothesised with Ward and tested with Lincoln. Now, she’s confirmed them with Daniel, forged in time loops and space, in battle, in the stillness of the present, in soft forehead kisses and passion filled lips on lips and everything in between.
The next day, Daisy tries E.T. She hasn’t seen it in years, becomes so wrapped up in it that she forgets to watch Daniel for a reaction. When she does look over, ten minutes from the end, she finds tears rolling down his cheeks, dripping into his lap. Daisy wipes them away with a swipe of her thumbs along his cheekbones and fights the urge to tell him that she’s pretty sure she’s in love with him.
Space is quiet. Daisy doesn’t get many chances to experience it because they’re so busy, a packed itinerary where no two days are the same - Daisy’s optimal environment. But she feels the silence acutely after the framework call with her family. She is the last one to leave the call, takes one last lingering look around at the digital room, misses every one of them so much that, just for a second, she’s not sure she can stand it. She wants to be with them in person, hug them, laugh with them, share drinks with them. After years of seeing them every single day she still feels their absence acutely, misses them like she’s lost a part of herself, a vital organ hacked out of her body.
Daisy sort of wants to stay in the room, shut her eyes, and pretend like they’re coming back. Pretend, just one more time, that she’s waiting for them before they head off on another mission together.
But Daniel’s waiting for her. He’s reading that heavy book Fitz had leant him. She can picture him, seated feet away on the Zephyr, close by like he always is when she’s in the framework, just in case something goes wrong in the real world and he needs to pull her out.
Kora is piloting today. She’s pretty good at it these days, but Daisy still gets kind of nervous when a tricky obstacle comes up, the asteroid field of last week giving her a stress headache, though it was really no trouble to navigate.
Most of her family is far away. But some of it is still here, will be in front of her when she exits this room of ones and zeroes. That has to be enough right now. So, with a deep breath, Daisy pulls herself out, tells Daniel they’re fine, gets on with her day.
Her first birthday without them is the hardest. It’s shortly after the group call, and she’s hoping to let the day pass by without any kind of fuss. She hasn’t told Kora or Daniel when her birthday is, wanting to escape unnoticed. It’s not like it’s a special birthday or anything, and what does getting a year older even mean when you aren’t tethered to the earth’s orbit around the sun, anyway?
Daisy thinks she’s getting away with it until early afternoon when Kora brings out a tray of cupcakes with candles stuck into the frosting. Daisy cringes as the whole team sings happy birthday to her, hiding her face in her hands, leaning into Daniel’s arms around her shoulders.
It’s not the same as it was before. The singing sounds different. But she’s alive, and she’s loved, and as embarrassing as it is to stand whilst they all sing for her, she can’t help the smile which makes its way onto her lips.
“Did you bake these?” Daisy winces at Kora when the song is done.
“So what if I did?”
Daisy exchanges a grimace with Daniel. Kora’s become infamous for her lack of patience, has a tendency to try and nuke food cooked with the help of her powers rather than actually cooking it according to package instructions.
“Ok, fine, it wasn’t me,” Kora concedes, and that’s all the confirmation Daisy needs to take a bite.
Later, there are calls from May and Coulson, a video chat from Jemma and Fitz, a voice message from Mack, featuring Elena, Piper, and LMD Davis. They haven’t forgotten her. Of course, nobody was going to let this day go unnoticed. That’s not what families do.
There’s a wrapped package on the narrow bed she shares with Daniel when she heads back to their room later that evening. It’s a flat rectangle, wrapped up in brown paper with a note in Daniel’s signature chicken scratch in black sharpie.
Daisy traces the dry ink with her index finger. Happy birthday, love.
She tears open the paper carefully, feeling hard glass beneath and the ridges of a frame. It’s a picture. When she holds it out in front of her it brings tears to her eyes. She hadn’t even known this photo existed, must have been taken the day after they got back to the correct timeline last year, judging by the people in the picture and the clothes they’re wearing, the exhausted yet relieved looks on their faces. It’s all of them, her people, sitting around on the ground outside the ruins of the temple.
They had stayed there for a day or two to help with the cleanup. She scans them now, the people they were back then - Alya sprawled across her parents, Flint between Mack and Elena, Piper frowning at the label on her drink, May in conversation with Kora. Daisy finds herself near the edge of the frame, sitting between Coulson and Daniel, smiling in a way that seems easy.
She had known, then, that their final mission had come to an end. She hadn’t quite realised it was the last time they’d all be in the same place for a very long time.
“Do you like it?” Daniel makes her jump a little, and when she turns, he’s leaning against the doorway watching her.
“I love it. Where did you get it?” Daisy asks.
“Elena emailed it to me. One of Mack’s agents must’ve taken it without us noticing.”
“Wait, wait, wait,” Daisy holds out her hands. Email is not a thing Daniel does. Daisy had taught it to him in the early days, but he’s never quite become comfortable with it. “You mastered email for me?”
“Sure did,” he says smugly. “And the printer. I had to use that special photo paper and everything.”
Daisy gasps dramatically. “I don’t believe it,” she says, putting the photo down carefully on the bed and walking to meet him, placing her arms around his neck.
“Well, you better get used to it. I’m a technological wizard now.” He plants his hands on her hips.
“I don’t know if I’d go that far,” she teases. “But thank you. Seriously. I love… I love it. The picture, I mean.” She swallows quickly, heartbeat picking up. She hadn’t meant to say that, the bit about love. Sure, she’s pretty convinced by now that she does love him, but she’s not about to tell him that. The last thing she needs is to tell him too soon and have him freak out on her.
To distract him, and just because she feels like it, Daisy closes the gap between them, his soft lips against hers. He runs a hand up her spine, tangles it in her hair as she deepens the kiss.
She doesn’t know how long this mission will go on for, if it will last for another year or ten. She supposes it doesn’t matter. Either way, she wants to keep him by her side for as long as he’ll stay. And until he decides otherwise, she’s going to make the most of it whilst she has him.
It was supposed to be a straightforward job. A week ago they learned about three women trapped in a mine on a distant moon. They had supposedly been left there, trapped but unattended, in storage of some sort. Daisy and Kora lead the plan to get them out, a little challenging because of the fragile build of the mine shafts, but with their powers and the technical know-how on the team, it was meant to be easy.
They had no idea they were stepping into a trap, that as soon as they entered the mine and split the team into three to take different routes down, the entrances would collapse. They had even less of an idea that there were bombs planted inside, set to detonate if anyone even attempted to rescue the women. One goes off when they’re metres in, but it’s a small explosion, giving two agents minor injuries but not much else.
Daisy and Kora are able to move the rubble from the entrance ways without too much trouble, clearing a route out and keeping the rest of the mine relatively steady to prevent it from collapsing even further. The bombs are poorly wired, Daisy figures, so that not all of them are actually live. They pick their way in further slowly, scanning the area and being careful to give the bombs a wide berth, no matter how poorly they may be rigged up.
Daisy hates to admit that she’s missed this, the thinking on her feet, the electricity of it, the way her mind becomes clearer than it ever is in her downtime. Whether she likes it or not, she knows that life and death situations are where her strengths lie. So, she’s able to lead a small team of agents down into the belly of the mines amongst the chaos, and send them back up to the surface with two of the women, terrified but alive, before more of the mine collapses right on top of her and Kora as they’re trying to free the third woman.
Kora is fine, had been right at the edge of the fall area, and though Daisy insists she’s fine too, breathing has become a lot harder and there may or may not be a couple broken bones in her left arm. It’s nothing she hasn’t faced before. She tries to convince Kora she’ll be fine, that they need to keep going, but when they scan for signs of life where the woman was once showing as alive, now there is nothing. Kora all but drags Daisy back to the ship, and they call the remaining agents back before any more explosions can go off. It’s a powder keg down there.
The only problem is, when they reach the ship, that Daniel, who had split off into another group at the start, is nowhere to be found.
“Where is he?” Daisy hisses at Kora, as if she has all the answers.
“He’ll be around here somewhere!” Kora insists, trying to fight Daisy to stay in the med-bay and get patched up. Daisy has no interest in resting until Daniel is back at her side. “If I ask around, will you stay still ?” Kora asks. Daisy has to admit that moving is a little painful right now. She gives Kora ten minutes, swipes a functioning comms device from an agent nearby and twists the dials around, begs Daniel to answer her.
After five minutes, there’s an almighty bang, vibrations underfoot, yelling coming from the corridors.
“What the hell was that?” She can’t stay here anymore. Grimacing, Daisy hauls herself off the bed and makes it the hallway outside, grabbing at the first agent she finds, running in the opposite direction. “What’s going on?”
“Whole mine went up!” He splutters.
Daisy’s blood turns to ice in her veins. “Have you seen Agent Sousa?”
“Uh, no. Sorry. I have to go,” the agent gestures vaguely in the direction of the exit. Daisy lets him leave.
He has to be here somewhere. He has to be. They have not survived everything they’ve been through for him to die in a mineshaft on a moon so far away from home she wouldn’t even know how to plot it on a map.
“ Sousa, ” she growls into the comms unit, “Come in. Confirm your location.” Nothing. “Daniel,” she tries, voice cracking a little. The static on the other end is taunting her.
She cannot lose him. Not another person she loves. She has seen her biological mother die twice, buried the man who may as well be her father on a beach in Tahiti. She has lost friends whose faces haunt her in her sleep, fell in love with Lincoln only to have him taken too. Her remaining family may be far away from her now, but at least they’re alive . If Daniel wanted to leave tomorrow, head back to Earth to start a life there, it would break her heart, but she’d be ok with it in the end because he’d still be living. She’d take that over this any day, makes pleas with the universe as she shakes the comms unit hoping that, by some miracle, it will bring him back to her.
Daisy’s practically hyperventilating, shaking in place when she hears heavy footsteps rounding the corner, looks up in distant hope, and… and it’s him. Inexplicably. The universe has brought him back to her. Daisy drops the comms device, not caring if it breaks, and starts towards him as fast as she’s able to in her injured state. He spots her, jogging over to her before she has to cover too much ground, and then they’re holding onto one another in the middle of the hallway, the rest of the ship ceasing to matter.
“Where were you ?” She asks into his shoulder.
“Had to get the third woman out.”
“We thought she was dead. I thought you were dead,” Daisy fights back a sob, swallowing hard to flatten the lump in her throat.
“We had to resuscitate her. I don’t know if she’ll make it but I had to try, I couldn’t just-”
Of course he went back to save someone. Of course he did. Her heart swells in her chest, and she cuts him off with a kiss. It’s becoming a habit by this point, and not one she intends to break anytime soon.
Then she leans back to take him in, a thin cut on his cheek, his shirt torn along the sleeves, but otherwise none too worse for wear. She kisses him again, so relieved to have him here, solid and real in front of her.
“You’re hurt,” he notices after she’s pulled away again.
“It’s ok, it doesn’t matter.”
“Of course it matters. You matter. Let me see,” he takes her bad arm softly in his grasp.
And it’s so very Daniel that she has to laugh. The man who just risked his life, who narrowly missed the final explosion, who saved a life Daisy had thought was hopeless, and he’s standing here worrying about her.
“I love you,” she says automatically, the only words that make sense right now. She only realises what she’s said when Daniel snaps his gaze from her arm to her face. “Uh, I mean…” she’s about to make up some excuse, change her phrasing, say it was an accident.
But she thought she had lost him.
She doesn’t want to dance around the issue anymore. She can say, with certainty, that she loves him, and if he had died without knowing that today then she would never have been able to forgive herself. So she takes a deep breath and tells him the truth. “I mean just that, actually. I love you.”
Daniel looks at her like he’s trying to commit every freckle to memory. Like he’s really seeing her for the first time. His silence is killing her. And then, the best four words Daisy knows. “I love you, too.”
“Ok,” she beams. “That’s good.” And then she’s kissing him all over again, deeper than last time. They are broken up twenty seconds later by Kora, yelling at them about how the aliens they rescued the women from have just showed up. Another crisis to avert. Of course. Daisy would never want to change it.
Home is another term Daisy used to be mad about, slotting someplace in between love and family on the negativity scale. Home was never a thing she could have. Home was an imaginary two storey red brick with a picket fence outside.
And then she had learned that home was a fluid definition. Home has been a plane and an underground SHIELD base and a spaceship and a little apartment in D.C. Home’s going to be a thousand things by the time she dies. She can make a home anywhere. Her home is not in the bricks and mortar, it’s in Kora’s terrible cooking and the way she cares so much about Daisy’s happiness. It’s in the way she actually feels like her sister now, all of the positive emotions which come from being around a family member you love.
It’s waking up in her dork of a boyfriend’s arms and knowing he’s not going anywhere. It’s searching for his face in a crowd and feeling safe when she finds it.
She’s got a home in them right here in space, and she also has a home way back past the planets they’ve saved and the star systems she stares out of the window in awe at, back to the blue and green planet which houses most of the people she loves. They are always going to be her home, even if she can’t be with them physically. She knows that now. Life changes, people move on, but they are never forgotten. Having such a spread out family just means a wider definition of a home, and that’s never going to be a bad thing.
Kora, Daisy and Daniel watch the sun rising over an alien country on a bright orange planet on the day after they return the three women home. They sit by the window of the ship, watching the shadows below disappear as the sun touches them. Daisy grips Daniel’s hand. It’s quiet, still, most of the crew sleeping off the events of the past few days. But that’s ok. The silence doesn’t scare her anymore.