“Quake! Quake! Can I ask, do you have any Valentine’s Day plans for tomorrow?”
The obnoxious reporter shoves his microphone in her face, and Daisy just manages not to scowl, or shove him aside, but it’s not easy.
“What makes you think I’d tell you if I did?” she asks, crossing her arms over her chest, her feet spread apart: it’s a stance millions of people are familiar with including, apparently, this reporter, because he pulls the microphone back towards himself, and his expression goes from avid to anxious.
“Your millions of fans just want to know – ” he begins, but Daisy cuts him off.
“You know that even superheroes are entitled to the same protections as anyone else when it comes to their private life, right?” She doesn’t ask the question aggressively, and she doesn’t move an inch, either, but the reporter’s face falls, and he even looks apologetic.
“You’re right,” he says and, to her everlasting surprise, he shakes his head at the cameraman, then hands over the microphone. When she gives him a questioning look, he gives her a faint smile. “That was out of order. Sorry.”
She smiles back at him. “It’s okay, you’re just doing your job.”
“Yeah, but maybe my job sucks,” he says.
Daisy takes a closer look at him, seeing a young man in his late 20s or early 30s, with light brown skin, darker brown eyes, and a shaved head. Without the microphone, he looks quite personable, she thinks.
“How’d you like a different job?” she asks, and smirks at his startled expression.
“What job?” he asks cautiously.
“Running my press office?”
“You have a press office?” he asks, even more surprised now.
She smirks again. “I will do if you take the job.”
“But you don’t know anything about me,” he objects.
She chuckles. “You know I used to work for the Rising Tide, right?”
He looks momentarily alarmed, then straightens himself up, putting his shoulders back, then nods. “Yes ma’am.”
Daisy laughs softly. “None of that now,” she tells him. “You’re not a soldier, and neither am I, thank god.”
She leads him back to tactical van where Coulson and Mack are waiting, having been running comms and backend for her.
She introduces them to her new acquaintance, Jimmy Dexter, and he hands over his press pass without being asked. Coulson takes it, unsmiling, and she bites back a smile of her own at the deadpan faces that he and Mack are presenting to Dexter. They both trust her and her instincts implicitly, but that doesn’t mean they’ll welcome a new person onto their team without reservations until that person checks out – Ward still casts a long shadow.
After a few minutes, Coulson looks up from the tablet he’s been studying and nods. “It seems Mr Dexter checks out,” he says.
“Good,” Daisy says emphatically. “Welcome to the team, Jimmy.”
“Just like that?” he asks, sounding doubtful.
“Our security checks are very thorough,” she tells him. She cocks her head at him, seeing his still-dubious expression. “You in?”
“Uh, yeah,” he says, then shakes his head. “You’re something else, Ms Quake.”
“Daisy,” she tells him firmly. “Only the media calls me ‘Quake’.”
“Of course. Sorry.” He scrubs a hand over his face, then says, “I’d better let my editor know I’m quitting.”
“How much notice do you need to give?” asks Coulson.
“A month,” Jimmy says, “but I’ve got 2 weeks holiday at the end of this month, so I’ll only have to work another 2 weeks.”
“Will that be long enough to clear out your apartment?” Mack asks. He’s still not smiling, but Daisy can read his vibrations quite clearly enough to know that he’s not hostile to Jimmy – just a little wary as he always is when new people join their team.
“Uh, sure. I don’t have a lot of stuff,” Jimmy says.
Mack nods. “Give us a call when you’re ready to move, and we’ll come and pick you up.” He hands Jimmy a card with the SHIELD logo on it, and a cell number listed below it.
“Okay.” Jimmy takes the card and slips it into his wallet. “I can’t quite believe this is happening,” he says.
Daisy smirks. “That’s what happens when you are a decent guy,” she tells him. “You could’ve persisted with that line of questioning, and I’d have been very pissed off and given you nothing.”
Jimmy swallows. “I appreciate the chance you’re giving me, Director Johnson.”
“See that you don’t waste it,” Mack says, and Jimmy looks mildly alarmed for a moment, then nods.
Daisy walks him back towards the main street. “I do have plans for tomorrow night,” she tells him. “But they’re secret, even from my date, so I wouldn’t have told you anyway.”
Jimmy shakes his head a little. “Truth to tell, I hated having to ask you that question.”
“I know,” she tells him. “Why do you think I offered you a job? You’re not cut out for the one you were doing.”
They shake hands, and he heads towards the TV station’s van, where his cameraman is waiting, and Daisy turns back to her own van, cheerfully picturing Coulson’s face when she surprises him tomorrow night. It’s their first Valentine’s since they got together a few weeks before Christmas, and she’s given him the impression that she doesn’t want to do anything for Valentine’s Day, because it’s a consumer trap.
She has a feeling that he’ll enjoy the old-fashioned ‘dinner and night in a hotel suite’ date that she’s got lined up for him. She certainly plans on enjoying having a night away from the base and her responsibilities as Director of SHIELD.