It wasn’t supposed to happen like that.
Which – incidentally – was a sentence that could sum up her entire day. Though really, it had started innocently enough. A party on Christmas Eve was hardly unheard of, especially when both of her friends had other plans for the day itself. So it made sense for them to get together on the twenty-fourth and throw a party.
However, Trip and Hunter’s apartment still smelled of charred carpet after the incident with the couch and the fire (they didn’t have a fireplace but Hunter had thought in a drunken haze one evening that their coffee table would do nicely). Daisy’s place, while tidy and not barbeque scented was slated for a power outage thanks to some city council powerline work… or something. Truthfully she hadn’t read the mail beyond ‘your power will be out Christmas weekend’. Which, really excellent planning there, council morons. Good job.
And so, they went to the park. Which meant no alcohol. What with all the potential underage witnesses. A Christmas party without alcohol, right? How ridiculous.
Then Hunter had apparently invited his sometimes-ex-girlfriend, which, joy. And of course: it snowed. So before they’d even set foot in the park things were not going completely to plan.
Though Daisy did have to admit the snow was good for one thing.
Trip huffed when the compact ball smacked him in the back of the head. He whirled, already grinning, one hand adjusting the back of his beanie. Daisy just beamed, already hefting another snowball.
“Oh it is on, Johnson,” he laughed, ducking to bundle up his own ammunition.
“That’s the spirit,” she called, darting behind a tree for cover. She leaned out after a moment to locate him and barely pulled back before a snowball whipped through the space. Daisy peeked out the other side and hurled a ball at Trip’s face. It caught him in the chest.
His return fire got her on the shoulder before she could evade it.
The next time she looked out, Trip was nowhere to be seen. Alarmingly, neither was Hunter; leaving their food unguarded. That, in Daisy’s humble opinion, was unacceptable. And the way the rest of their plans had been flipped on their heads, she wouldn’t put it past the universe to deprive them of their food somehow too.
So she edged out from behind the tree, head swivelling as much as biology would allow, and raced for the meagre cover of one of the wooden benches. She heard more than saw Hunter move off to one side. She dove. Her knee hit the edge of the chair and she opened her mouth to swear at the lance of pain just in time to get a face full of snow. Wonderful.
She had, however, successfully avoided the snowball. So that was something.
“You alright down there?” Hunter hollered.
Daisy rolled over, spitting snow out. “Yep. Peachy.”
“Dandy. Get up so I can hit you this time.”
She rolled her eyes. And it was that action that facilitated her discovery of the carton of eggs sitting on the edge of the barbeque where Hunter had apparently left them. A bright (read: incredibly stupid) idea began to blossom. Oh yes, that was the best idea she’d had all day.
Slowly, she rolled onto her knees, being careful not to bob up into Hunter’s field of view. Then she rolled together another snowball and yelled. “Your aim isn’t good enough to hit me, Lance.”
She could just about feel his wince. “Don’t count on it, darlin’.”
Perfect. Now that she knew his general direction she could rock up and lob the snowball at him. He made a somewhat more graceful dive to avoid it. Daisy used the opportunity to snag the eggs off the barbeque and remove one.
Very, very gently, she rolled the egg around in the snow until it had a good coating. Enough that it wouldn’t crack in her hand when she threw it. Yeah, this was pure brilliance. Good thinking, Daisy.
“Is your face ready, Hunter?” she taunted.
This time he didn’t rise to the bait. Damn. Daisy rose to a crouch, sidled around the side of the barbeque to use it for cover and straightened a bit further. She paused a moment to wonder where Trip had gone, then went back to looking for Hunter.
She spied movement in her peripheral and turned a little to locate the source. A trio of people she didn’t know where crossing the park, heads down, hands stuffed into pockets against the cold. Daisy had almost dismissed them when she realised one of them was Hunter. Trailing the other two slightly, clearly attempting to get close without her noticing.
Daisy smiled, hefting her snow-egg a little, weighing up the possibility that she’d hit one of the other two. It was probably only a minimal chance. She had every faith in her snowball throwing skills.
After another moment of dithering, in which one of the two strangers turned to Hunter, Daisy wound her arm back and hurled it.
The ball sailed just nicely almost the entire way. But then… it didn’t happen right. Same as everything else.
Hunter caught sight of the ball and leapt to one side, grabbing the guy speaking to him by the lapels and pulling him with. Hunter’s butt hit the snow and he tipped backwards, vanishing into a drift. The other guy landed much better, though he too disappeared into the snow.
The third person, however, was less fortunate. They took one step towards the snow where the others had fallen and the egg hit them square on the top of the head. A bulls-eye. Daisy was impressed with herself for all of a split second, and then she realised she’d just hit a perfect stranger with a raw egg and she was up and running.
The stranger, for their part, sank to their knees, one hand reaching up to touch the egg now dribbling down their cute little hat. Daisy collapsed beside them, already stuttering apologies.
“Oh my god, I’m so sorry,” she babbled. “Are you okay? I’m so, so sorry. Oh god, that was meant to hit him in the head.” She waved her hand vaguely towards Hunter where he and the other guy were still trying to disentangle themselves. Then her hand dithered by the egg-soaked hat. “Oh my god.” She should stop saying that. “Are you alright? I’m sorry about your hat.”
Then the stranger looked up and Daisy’s words stopped in their tracks. Why did she have to be so pretty? Today was not Daisy’s day. At all.
The woman blinked at Daisy’s face for a moment and then – surprising her completely – she started crying.
It wasn’t supposed to happen like that. Damn it.
“Um,” Daisy tried. “I’m really sorry. Just… I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to hit you with the egg. Oh my god, I am the worst.” Her hands darted around the woman’s face, hesitant to touch her, but desperately wanting to try and fix this. “I’m Daisy,” she murmured, wondering what to do with the crying woman. “Daisy, Queen of the Imbeciles.”
At that, the woman’s lips curled upwards. The tears didn’t stop sliding across her cheeks, but it was a start.
“I don’t want you to get egg in your hair,” she whispered.
The woman hunched her shoulders but didn’t object when Daisy extended her hands again.
Carefully, she removed the hat from the pretty lady’s head and replaced it with her own beanie. The hat she set aside, instead focusing on tucking the edges of the beanie around the woman’s ears. “Do you need a hug?” she asked with an unsure smile.
The woman shook her head, watery smile flickering. “No.”
“Are you sure? I’m a pretty good hugger. And it’s the least I can do.”
She sniffled and shrugged again.
Daisy took that to mean it was okay and gently wrapped an arm around the woman’s shoulders. “I’m sorry I hit you with an egg.”
“No, it’s not. I ruined your adorable hat. And you’re crying. Crime of the century right there. The hat is just the icing.”
There was a beat of quiet. “I’m Jemma.”
“I’m sorry,” Daisy repeated.
“Truthfully, it’s not entirely your fault,” Jemma admitted. “I… haven’t been having the best week. I was going to go back to England for Christmas but… here I am. Being pelted with eggs.”
“I can tell you picked the best option,” Daisy teased. “But really, that sucks.”
“Nothing to be done.”
Daisy offered her a crooked smile. “No use crying about cracked eggs, right?”
At that, Jemma actually laughed. “That was awful.”
“Oh I dunno about that.” Daisy paused to admire the unfairly cute way Jemma’s nose wrinkled. “Would you like to have Christmas with me and my friends?”
Jemma hesitated, gaze flicking between both of Daisy’s eyes. “Possibly. I was meant to meet some friends around here for dinner. Can they come too?”
“Of course. Where will they be?”
“Oh well…” Jemma turned, Daisy’s arm slipping from her shoulder. “Bobbi’s over there.” And she lifted a finger to indicate the hole in the snow where apparently Hunter was still trapped. Huh. Not a guy. But then, Bobbi was kinda tall. “Fitz and Mack will be here soon, I imagine.”
“Oh my god,” Daisy muttered for what felt like the millionth time in the last ten minutes. “You’re Bobbi’s new friend. Hi.”
“You know Bobbi?” Jemma seemed startled by the notion.
“Technically, I know Hunter. But by extension I know her, yeah.”
Jemma’s eyes lit up as if that connection somehow removed Potential Serial Killer from a list of Daisy’s descriptors. “Daisy Johnson, right?” At that Daisy’s eyebrows disappeared into her fringe. Jemma just laughed. “Bobbi’s mentioned you.”
“Only the good things I hope?” she teased with a wink, levering herself to her feet before helping Jemma stand as well.
“There are only good things as far as I know.” Jemma slipped her arm through Daisy’s elbow as they began to walk towards the barbeque.
“We’ll just have to see about that.”