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Let me stand next to your fire

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Hitting the ground of the dirty car yard, Daisy reflects that going after an unknown enhanced person without any idea what his abilities are while hurt was maybe not the best idea ever.

She would have gone in any case, though. She doesn't deserve to avoid danger. How could she, when friends died because of her – for her?

The blow had knocked the air out of her. What the fuck is this man? Suddenly his face had melted off to reveal a burning skeleton. Robbie, the mechanic had said. The Ghost Rider.

She had lost the upper hand in a split second. Laying in the dust, she can't do more than stop the steel structure the monster throws at her. Her arms are wrecked and burning with pain.

So for her death wears the mask of a devil in flames...

“Do it. I deserve it.” she whispers.

Strange how relief mingles with pain and fear at the knowledge that finally, she has lost.

“Do it.” End this, this mummery of a life, kill me. Erase the blood on my hands by spilling mine.

But the Rider walks away without granting her desperate request.



* * * * *



Robbie didn't know why the devil inside him had spared this girl, and he had wanted nothing more than to forget about it. But now she had come back, recklessly, stupidly, and bringing him a world of trouble.

“What am I to do with you?”, he mutters to himself.

Daisy, she had said her name was, but he had heard of her as Quake. Damn this chica. She's asleep on the chair where he had tied her, her brown hair falling down her face.



He couldn't believe his eyes when he found her waiting with his boss, a cup of steaming coffee in her hands, smiling broadly. The girl has a fucking death wish, there's no other explanation.

After being spared, she had come back, demanding answers. This cocky and confident vigilante didn't match the self-loathing girl he met last night, who pleaded the Ghost Rider to kill her, but he doesn't care about her obvious issues. He cares only that she had dared to utter Gabe's name.

He can't let her go, not with what she knows, yet Robbie still draws the line at murdering innocent people, and the Ghost Rider hadn't judged her guilty. But who knows? She certainly judges herself guilty.

Robbie heads for her van. Time to make a mind for himself.



* * * * *



Trust doesn't come easily to guys like Robbie, but somehow, after talking to Daisy, he trusts her not to hurt Gabe, and that's all he asks of her. She's driven, just like him. He lives for vengeance and she lives for redemption.

He had left her behind, tied to the chair in Canelo's office, knowing full well that she was going to escape, but not caring in the slightest. The girl is a pain in the ass, but she isn't a danger to Gabe, or him.

What matters the most to him now is answers. Daisy's quest made him want to ask a few questions of his own. What really happened at his uncle Eli's energy lab? How was he linked to the criminals roaming around L.A.?



* * * * *



“So. You were almost turned into some kind of ghost, a burning skeleton saved my life, and we finally found Daisy after weeks of looking for her. Normal day at S.H.I.E.L.D.”

Fitz tries for some lightness, but Mack is not taking it. “Yeah. And Daisy left us and Yo-Yo betrayed us.”

The two men are seated in the Quinjet, alone after Quake had walked out. Mack is the most shaken by their friend's departure.

“I can't believe she didn't even consider staying. She could have come back with us. She could have given us a chance.” he adds, hurt obvious in his voice.

“She needs distance”, the scientist offers. “She'll come around.” He is used to people leaving, and to the pain they left in their wake. But even if he hates what Daisy is doing, he understands her urge to do so, and believes in her to come back when she is ready. He just hopes she would one day be.

“We all miss her. Does she think she's helping us by staying away? 'Cause she's not. She's not.”



* * * * *

 

Daisy understands perfectly why Gabe Reyes made her leave. He couldn't be more right: she is one of the bad people. No good comes out of knowing her. But still, she feels a loss at being cut off from Robbie.

She sensed the young man and her had came to a sort of truce. From obviously disliking her, Robbie seemed to have warmed up to her.

From the start, she had wanted to believe he was more than the ruthless killer he appeared to be. There was something about him, the intensity in his gaze, his certainty that his victims deserved it... Was her vision clouded, or was she right not to condemn his actions?

She finds herself wishing to cross his path again, against all hopes. After all, she hurts those around her... but Robbie can't get hurt, right?



* * * * *

 

“You really have no idea why she left?”

“Nah, sorry.” Gabe says from the couch. “Who was she, anyway?”

“Just a girl I picked up.”, Robbie answers, staying vague. “She came into the garage a couple of days ago, had trouble with her van. We hit it off.”

“Mh.” His brother lets the topic fall. On the kitchen table, untouched, throne the pills he got for Daisy.

He can't understand why the girl left. Did he do something? Funny how her departure, which would have greatly pleased him when they first met, now lefts him somewhat empty. He had wanted her gone, but at the same time, he had reached for her.

She is the only one -only one alive, that is- who knows who he really is. That forged an odd kinship between them.

Robbie loves Gabe fiercely, but exactly because of that he would never tell him about the deal he made with the Ghost Rider.

Daisy got under her skin, angered him, but at the same time she soothed a loneliness he wasn't even aware of. She knew what it was to have powers and to leave red on one's wake. Like him, she was dangerous. She had hit back when they had fought, she had taken his punches. She too had fire burning inside her, albeit of a different kind.



* * * * *



Going to Simmons for help had been a difficult and stupid decision to make. Daisy had tried hard to keep her distances. But even if she knew that it was a mistake, a weak part of herself was glad. She had missed the other girl a lot.

“Come back to S.H.I.E.L.D. with me, once we're done here.” Jemma pleads. They're in Daisy's van, driving around L.A.

“I can't.” Daisy shakes her head slowly. “I'm sorry but... I'm doing what's best for everyone.”

“You think that you're protecting us by staying away? Well”, Jemma continues, voice raising, “flash news: we're always in danger, it's in the job description. We're not helpless things that need to be protected, we can take care of ourselves. We don't need you to stay away to protect us.”

“I'm trouble, okay? I will end up hurting you, I always end up hurting those around me.”

Daisy, please. What happened was not your fault.” Jemma pauses, sadness evident on her face. “I know you won't listen to reason on that, so I'll just … Don't decide for us what is best for us. We want you with us, in the team. So cut the self-loathing and give it a chance.” Another pause, a whisper. “Give us a chance.”



* * * * *



Robbie's head is throbbing when he wakes up. He's on the floor of a white room. The last events come back to him one by one: the blackout, Daisy leaving, the agents in front of Eli's prison, the chase. The sudden shape in front of the Charger. The darkness.

He'd been caught.



He seems to be in the belly of a plane, or at least - some kind of shiny and futuristic aircraft. His Charger is parked in front of his cell, apparently unscratched. Well, there's at least that.

The sound of voices makes him turn around. Two men are coming his way. They are those who chased him. One of them is the black man who was trapped in the chamber in the lab. Daisy's friend, which means the other one must be too. That thought alone is what's keeping him from burning down the entire plane. Yet.



* * * * *



So this is the famous Ghost Rider, Coulson reckons.

Deciding to open the containment module had been a foolish gamble, but he had decided to take his chances. The fact that Daisy trusted the guy had weighted heavily in that.

We sorely need him. He's selfish, arrogant, and a violent killer driven by revenge. But he's Elias Morrow's nephew and he seems to be the only one that can attack these ghosts.

Ghosts, he huffs. And a guy that claims to have made a deal with the devil. Impossibly, this job just kept getting weirder.

He's after the same answers than us. Maybe it'll be enough for the lone wolf to start operating with a pack.



* * * * *



Robbie hates working with S.H.I.E.L.D. Hates it with a passion.

He works better when he's alone. Other people just waste his time. It's always been just him and the Hell Charger. No questions asked, no judgments made. Fast. Efficient.

He has to admit that S.H.I.E.L.D. has more ways than him to look after Lucie and the remaining ghosts. That's the only reason why he chose to cooperate. (Well, that and the promise of a very unpleasant fall from the airplane if he said no.)

But now this Coulson wants him to make a “detour”. They should be going after the Darkhold, but instead, they're wasting time. “Something came up”. It better be important, Robbie rages. He rages even more to find he has no choice but to follow the agents.



* * * * *



Robbie catches the flaming chain at the last moment.

He doesn't know what he thought the detour would be about, but it certainly wasn't that.

Daisy's here, crouched on the floor with another girl. Hurt. In danger. Something in him stirs at this vision, an anger fueled by fear.

“Take the stairs, find agent Coulson. Go!”



If the Ghost Rider punches the other man a little harder than usual, well, no one is here to notice it.



* * * * *



He's... been scared.

And that scares Robbie.

He had felt a deep fear for Daisy, and a profound surge of protectiveness towards her. Things he's not supposed to feel.

Gabe has always been the only person he ever cared about. And Gabe is the only person he should ever care about.

Damn this chica, her good heart, her beautiful and wicked smile, her fiery eyes. This has to stop.



* * * * *



Daisy is sitting in the Quinjet, away from everyone. Facing the team had not been easy. She feels that they're disappointed in her, disappointed that she left. She did that for them, though. She did that to protect them from the red she leaves in her wake.

Simmons' words echo in her mind. “We don't need you to stay away to protect us. Don't decide for us what is best for us.”

None of them gave up on me, did they? she realizes, her heart clenching.

Damn, but she misses her team.

It's just for this mission. Then I'm out again.

Yeah, a weak part of herself whispers, keep telling yourself that.



“I need to get off this plane now.”

Robbie had barged in the Quinjet, anger blatant in his stride.

Daisy has enough on her mind with her return on the team, she doesn't need Robbie to be his usual offended prick on top of that. “That should put you in... rural Utah. And you think you're pissed off now...”

“This is no joke. All right? I should be down there, getting answers, my way.” The young man snaps, furious.

“Oh, yeah? How you gonna do that?” He's annoying her already. “Cracking skulls?”

“It's worked so far.”

“Really?” Dripping sarcasm.

“I've been careful. I've never been caught, not even a parking ticket. Then you show up, and you bring S.H.I.E.L.D. with you.” There's obvious resentment in his voice, and it hurts Daisy.

“Careful? Really? You've been murdering people while possessed and on fire.”

“You don't know what you're talking about.”

“I know you're settling scores, hoping that thing will go away. How's that going for you?” She tries to back down a bit, he's not to blame for her bad mood, not entirely. “Look, Robbie, I get that this is personal for you. But if you want answers, you need to trust S.H.I.E.L.D.”

“You don't even trust them. Why else are you up here hiding from them?”

“I keep my distance because it's what's best... for everyone.”

“I'm starting to see why.”



Oh, that was a low blow. Robbie had known exactly where to strike to hurt Daisy, in the way only close people could. He knows she blames herself for whatever happened in her past, he knows she thinks she's a danger to those she loves.

He wanted to push her away? He'd done a pretty good job at that.

Some part of him wants to be sorry, but there was no taking back of his words, and anyway, he meant them. The girl is trouble. And she has a damn gift for riling him up.

Robbie was pissed off at the agents, now he's pissed off at Daisy too. He's pissed off at her because she can't stop counseling him, can't stop trying to help when he doesn't want to be helped, can't stop being so. damn. good. and pretending to know what it is to be a monster like him.



* * * * *



After what happened in the prison, Daisy sought out Robbie. She still resented him for what he said to her on the Quinjet that day, but she hated that they were drifting apart.

And fuck if she could let him look so devastated without doing anything.



“It's my fault Eli was taken.” a stricken Robbie tells her. “It wouldn't have happened had I stayed with him.”

“Why didn't you?” Daisy asks, gently. She thinks she knows why, but she wants to hear it from him.

He stays silent for a while. “There was one of the Fifth Street Locos in one of the cell. And I had to - I couldn't walk away.” He sights, but there's fire in his eyes. “He needed to pay.”

“You had no choice.” Daisy knows her fair share of being controlled. “It wasn't you, it was the Ghost Rider.”

He huffs. “No, I was the one who did this. I was the one to kill this man.” His jaw is set, as if daring her to say he is wrong. “I crave revenge as much as he does.”

She can't contradict him, not on that, but she can relate. So she tells him. Shortly, succinctly. About Hive, about how he infected her mind. “He was in my head, and I let him.” she finishes.

“Sounds to me like he played with your mind.”

“I wanted it.” she denies “He offered me a way out. I... I craved for it.”

They're both silent after that. Both of them are haunted in their own ways, and there's nothing they can do about it, neither to ease the pain nor to erase the blood. But they get what the other is going though, and it's more than they ever had.



When he leaves, Robbie stops at the door. “Daisy? Thank you.” He feels strangely better.



* * * * *



When Quake had knocked at his door, Gabe had been afraid. Angry that the woman hadn't left Robbie alone, but mostly, afraid for his brother.

His fear had faded when he had seen Robbie. Suddenly, everything had made sense. The odd hours, the blood, even the bad company. His brother, a secret agent? That was awesome, and such a relief.

And then, the hard truth. And joder, what a hard truth.



He is now alone with Daisy, after having witnessed Robbie almost killing a man. He still can't believe it. His brother is the Ghost Rider. His brother is a murderer.

Daisy is talking to him, but he's not listening. Inside, his world is crumbling.

“Leave me alone, please”, he begs the woman, and she goes away without a word.



* * * * *



“Why did you do that?” Daisy shouts at Robbie. She's fucking angry with him, for compromising himself in front of the whole team and S.H.I.E.L.D freaking director. “Why did you have to act like the monster they think you are?”

“I am a monster.” Bland statement, almost without emotion, if not for the deep shame underlining it.

Robbie is passive in front of her, too lost in his guilt, too despaired of having lost his brother's respect. Daisy had wanted to yell at him, but seeing him so despaired, all of her anger dies instantly. “No, you're not.” She understands now what Gabe meant when he said that without him, Robbie's wheels would come off. Without his brother, Robbie's nothing. But that goes for both Reyes. “Look, Gabe loves you. He just needs time to – take it.”

“How could he? Gabe's good. He doesn't know violence and vengeance. He's better than all that. And me, me... I kill people and I live for revenge.”

“You live for him. Those you killed, you killed to protect people, to protect him. All you did, you did because you'd give anything to see him safe. And Gabe knows that. He knows that you love him above anything.”

“He's a goddamn angel ... and I made a deal with the devil. What could you possibly say when someone you care about has so much blood on their hands?”

She waits until he meets her eyes. “I'd say it doesn't erase the good man you are.”



* * * * *



They can't be dead. Coulson. Fitz. Robbie. They can't be. Daisy knows they can't be. She feels it, in every fiber of her self.

Coulson simply can't be dead. He has a fucking history of not staying dead.

And Fitz. Fitz dragged Simmons back from space, she'd never let him go without doing the same for him. She'd open a portal to hell if she needed to.

And Robbie. Robbie... Robbie can't be dead. He's too strong, too much of a survivor for that. (And he'd never leave Gabe alone, now would he?)



* * * * *



Hopping in the Hell Charger, Daisy addresses a thought to Robbie. So sorry! She knows he'd be mad at her for driving his car. But she also knows she'd just smile at him. Her heart skips a beat at that. God, she hopes he's okay. She couldn't stand it if he never came back.

It seems like all they ever do is fight, always bickering, always getting at each other. But there's a strange closeness between them, weaved by all they share: their doubts, their obsessions, their newly-found dangerous powers, their need to protect those around them from themselves, their loneliness.

She cares a lot about the young man. They attract each other as much as they repel each other.



* * * * *



Being the host to a vengeance demon is definitely no fun. Mack can attest to that. He's waiting in front of the portal, still shaken by what happened at the Chinese warehouse. The Ghost Rider had racked his mind, trying to find every streak for vengeance he had, reviving every pain.

He's grateful to Robbie to have taken it back, even if he knows the young man had his own personal reasons to do so.

He knows the mechanic will come back, that's why he's waiting for him. He understands the young man better now, after walking in his shoes for a bit.

There's anger in him, and an absolute craving for vengeance. The Ghost Rider needs this ugliness to take his roots. But behind the killer the Rider awakened in him, there isn't a bad man, only a man in pain.

Daisy, I hope you know what you're going into. Her attraction to Robbie is evident. There is a growing tension between the two, and it's leading to something more. Fighting is their way of flirting. He wishes it would have been someone else, maybe someone not haunted for example, but Daisy never made easy choices, did she?

A faint smile plays on his lips while he waits.



* * * * *



She's waiting for him. There's so many feelings flashing on her face, Robbie can't even guess at what she's thinking right now. Well, his heart is certainly doing a good impression of that. He's at the same time relived, happy to see her, and at a loss for words.

“I'm glad you're okay”, Daisy speaks first. After a while, she adds: “I'm sorry I drove the Hell Charger.”

Suddenly it's easy again. He smirks. “No, you're not. But you better never touch this wheel again.”

She smiles then, genuinely, a smile that reaches her eyes. “You bet.” Robbie can't help the laugh that escape from him. Helplessly, he opens his arms. Daisy throws herself at him.

“I was scared for you”, she admits into the hug. “I … I … ”

He clings to her. “Me too, Daisy. Me too.”



* * * * *



Dragging Eli with him in the portal, Robbie accepts the fact that he may never be coming back. He deserves it, it's payment for all the blood he spilled.

Still, his heart grieves. Behind his closed eyes, and until the darkness seizes him, he sees two faces.

Gabe's. And Daisy's.



* * * * *



Daisy runs her fingers along the Hell Charger. There are tears in her eyes, but she won't allow them to fall. She's trying hard, so hard, to believe Robbie will come back.

Why didn't she run to him when she heard that he was down? She blames herself, she angrily blames him for not fighting harder, she blames the world.

She was so sure she couldn't lose him, so sure that he at least wouldn't die, wouldn't leave.



For her, Coulson had asked for the portal not to be dismantled. It's still set in one of the headquarters' room, and too often, Daisy's feet take her there. She stands in front of it, scrutinizing the emptiness.

She pictures Robbie's face, his strong jaw, his dark eyes, his smirk she wished would have turned into a smile, and she tries to hope.

But inside she feels like she's free-falling, the same sensation than when she felt from the sky, except all the time, loosing her footing.



* * * * *

 

He comes back when she's away.

As soon as she hears the news, she runs to the headquarters.



He's thinner than before, and she reflects that if he didn't have healing powers, he would be cribbled from wounds. But the haunted look she expects to see on his face isn't there.

She doesn't even think about it, she jumps in his arms.

He's here and he's real and he's safe and she feels immensely blessed.



* * * * *

 

“Daisy...”

Robbie's so damn glad for this girl clinging to him, he doesn't even have words for it. He's been to Hell, literally, and coming back hadn't been easy. This soft and warm body against his is an unbelievable comfort and an incredible gift.



* * * * *

 

They couldn't tell which one kissed the other first.

Suddenly they're grabbing at each other, in a desperate frenzy. Daisy has a hand behind Robbie's head and another tugging at his waist, and he's pulling her in his arms even closer. They kiss and kiss and kiss and it isn't soft or sweet, but angry and violent, a reflection of their relationship.



* * * * *

 

They make love that night, as soon as Robbie's free to go.

The first time is hot and urgent, desperate. The second time is slower, both take their time to map the other's body, to feel them under their hands and their tongue, gasping and shuddering, alive.



* * * * *

 

In the morning, they talk.

Robbie doesn't speak about what happened to him during the time he was away. He's not ready, and he'll probably never be. But it's his burden to carry, and he's okay with that.

“Is he still here ?” Daisy asks him. He nods. “I made peace with it, though.” She remembers Gabe saying these exact words before, about his paralysis, and she smiles.

It'll be okay.

They'll be okay.

 

* * * * *

 

They are. It's tedious and heated and bumpy, but they are.

Their missions with S.H.I.E.L.D still almost end up in disaster half of the time and their lives are still complicated messes, but they're in this together, and they find peace in each other as much as they fuel each other's fire.

They're okay, and more than that.