Daniel picks up quickly on the fact that the team is mourning the loss of Enoch and decides its best to give them space. He had not known the – Man? Robot? Alien? – well, but he did know he was an important member of the crew and a friend. They needed time. So he picked up the device Simmons had given him to read up on the 70 some odd years of history he was unfamiliar with and departed to the rarely used sleeping quarters on the Zephyr.
It wasn’t long before he was asleep in the bunk they had given him. It wasn’t much but it was more comfortable than the metal chair he had been sleeping in. Not that sleeping in that chair hadn’t been his choice or that he wouldn’t do it again. He just couldn’t leave her side, not after what she’d been through. Besides, she was the type to rest for five minutes and call herself a hundred percent ready to go.
Daniel knew that type. Could see one a mile away.
Her well-being, that was his reason behind the ache in his neck and stiffness in his back.
Not his crush on her.
And there was definitely a crush. If his being woken from his slumber by an extremely vivid dream of kissing her was any indication.
He knew that he liked her. Pretty much from the moment he met her he was impressed and with every second spent with her since she amazed him even more. Still he hadn’t meant to fall like this. Not again. This was a feeling he hadn’t felt in a long time. And the kiss, that had felt almost real. More like a memory than a dream.
Regardless there was no falling back to sleep. Hours had passed, possibly even a whole night’s sleep worth. Had they jumped again? Someone would have told him. He wanders back out to the Zephyr’s command center and finds Agent Coulson and Agent Rodriguez silently observing the control panels.
“What’s going on, where is everyone?” Daniel asks as he tries to figure out what was so interesting on the large screens.
“There’s no count down.” Agent Rodriguez gestures to the timer.
“And there should be?” He still didn’t have a very good grasp of how it all worked but to be fair, it didn’t seem like they did either.
She nods. “According to Simmons, yes.”
“Where is everyone else?” Usually, at least as best he could say from the short time he’s been with them, the control center is always bustling.
“We’re waiting it out, hoping a new countdown will start but until then May and Mack are using the time to do evaluations.” Coulson explains.
“Deke’s combat training and Daisy’s recovery.”
Oh. This takes him by surprise. Could Daisy really be up for training yet? He had seen up close what she went through and even with the healing chamber supposedly accelerating her recovery he wished she would take it easy.
“They’re down the hall if you want to join them, we were kicked out.” Agent Rodriguez looks more amused than irritated by this statement.
“Simmons made us leave because we were making Deke self-conscious.” She adds with a roll of her eyes.
“Might be fun to watch, you’ve not had a chance to see May in action, at least not that you remember.” Daniel has tried very hard not to think about the time loops since the situation had been explained to them. The idea that there was all this time lost, hours upon hours of time helping Daisy and the others that he didn’t remember, it was unsettling. What had been said? Daisy had thanked him, said she couldn’t have solved it without him but didn’t elaborate. Still it would be good to familiarize himself with the team’s skill sets. And he was happy for a valid reason to seek out Daisy’s company. Maybe he could pry a bit more information out of her about the loops.
He took the narrow hallway down past the lab and med bay, enjoying the ease with which his new prosthetic allowed him to walk. It was incredible. Almost like the real thing. He could feel the sock and shoe on his foot, could wiggle his toes. The sensations, as simple as they were, were a little distracting. He nearly walked right past the gym.
As he came to the door he peered through the small window, inside he could see Agent May and Deke standing in the middle of a mat. He enters slowly, hoping not to disrupt. To his left are Mack, Simmons and Daisy. Mack is holding a clipboard in his hands and is marking down notes as May directs Deke to move one way or another.
“Good Morning Sunshine, sleep well?” Daisy’s voice chirps over the shouted commands from the mat. She’s sitting on the edge of a narrow table while Simmons does an examination on her. He considers leaving and coming back when she’s done. Daisy is dressed down to what he thinks must be modern day undergarments, but no one else in the room is bothered, Daisy herself seems comfortable, and Agent May, he realizes, is dressed similarly.
“How long was I out for?”
“Probably 6 hours, we weren’t going to wake you unless we decided to move to the Lighthouse.”
Daniel nods. “So what’s going on here, you okay?” He asks her but looks pointedly at Agent Simmons for an answer.
“She’s better.” Simmons corrects.
“I’m fine.” Daisy repeats.
Daniel can tell immediately that this is an argument the girls have frequently.
“You are well enough for some basic training.”
“You might want to tell May that, she doesn’t go easy on anyone.”
As if on cue there is a yelp as May hauls Deke over her shoulder and the man lands flat on his back. “Ow!”
“Learning how to fall properly is part of training.” May explains as she takes a few breaths. She looks exhausted.
“Do you need a break Agent May?” Mack asks and Daniel knows he’s not the only one who has seen the look in her eyes.
“This is all him, not me.” She snaps back.
“Take a short one anyways.” Mack orders.
“Hey, I’m the one lying on the ground.” Deke complains as he pushes himself off the floor.
“Don’t worry Deke, you’re done for the day.”
“For what it’s worth, I thought you did alright.”
Deke looks at him irritably. “What are you doing here, I thought we kicked all the spectators out?”
“Actually, if Agent Sousa’s is up for it, it might be good to see how you’re adjusting to the new leg.” Simmons suggests.
“That’s not a bad idea actually,” Mack agrees. He’s surprised by the suggestion but more than willing to submit to an evaluation. Personally, he’d like to know firsthand how his limitations have changed.
“Deke can show you wear to find some sweats.”
He returns to the small gym to find May and Daisy already sparring with each other and its honestly hard to look away. He doesn’t think he’s ever seen two people move so fast and so gracefully at the same time. Mack is watching the pair carefully, clearly taking in each move Daisy makes to make sure she’s as fine as she says she is. Simmons just looks nervous.
“You don’t think she’s up for this yet.” She sighs heavily and shoots him a weak smile.
“I think even she knows she’s not.”
It was the answer he expected and did nothing to ease his worry.
But if there was anything he had learned about Daisy it was that she was determined. Strong and determined. She expertly dodged everything May threw at her, tumbling out of the way and giving back everything she got. He thinks its oddly pretty for fighting, dance-like even. In his experience hand to hand combat is brutal. He thinks of Peggy, slamming people into walls and knocking them senseless with whatever was in reach. He thinks of Jack Thompson who’d go at anyone with his fists until they were bruised and bloody. Even he wasn’t immune to it. Having been armed with blunt force weapon since he’d lost his leg, it was an easy go to. There was one person who comes to mind who fought with that sort of grace. A Russian assassin with a background in ballet.
Daniel is ripped from his thoughts when he sees May go to toss Daisy to the floor. Daisy tries to stop it, flipping into it. He hears a loud cry as her feet hit the ground and she stumbles back. A small quake shakes the room and May surges forward to catch her but instead they both crash to the ground. Simmons gasps and rushes on to the mat and Daniel is glad that she moves even faster than he does because it makes his own concern less obvious.
“What the hell was that?” May demands, quickly pushing herself up.
“You didn’t have to catch me.” Daisy bites back.
“You were terrified.”
“I was just – startled, most people are when they’re hurdling towards the ground.”
May sits back on her feet and watches Daisy wearily. “That’s not what that was.”
“I’m fine.” She says again. She is looking up at Simmons now and determinedly not at May.
“Then why haven’t you sat up.” Simmons scolds her. Daniel’s worry is starting to eat away at him. He really wants her to just pop back up like its no big deal. She groans and slowly eases herself up. She wobbles just a little and he can’t help it anymore. He kneels beside her and offers her a hand up, his other hand already supporting her from the middle of her back.
“I’m really okay, a little dizzy.”
“Let me run a couple quick tests.”
Daisy’s eyes squeeze shut. “I really don’t think – “
“How about a snack and some water.” Mack suggests. “Take a break, we’ll give it another go in a little while and if it happens again, Simmons gets to run her tests.” Daniel appreciates Mack’s tact. Agreeing readily, Daisy takes his hand and allows him to hoist her off the floor and back onto her feet. His hand hovers at her back even once she’s got her balance back.
Jemma still looks uncertain. “Fine, but a healthy snack.”
“Oh god, she going to give me an apple or rice cakes.” May’s already walked away to get her own water and Mack isn’t paying attention, so he realizes her words are directed at him. He smiles at her disdain for the health foods and finds himself wondering what her preferred snack of choice would be. She squeezes his hand and shoots him a smile. As she starts to follow Simmons her hand stays clasped in his until she’s out of reach and their hands fall back to their sides.
“May, go ahead and get started, I’m going to make sure she doesn’t put up too much of a fight.” Mack doesn’t look back and May doesn’t say anything at all, so Daniel turns his eyes on her. She’s watching him curiously from across the room.
May unnerves him. When it was explained to him exactly what was going on with her, her hyper empathy, feeling the emotions of those around her instead of her own, he didn’t believe it. But seeing with his own eyes just moments ago how Daisy’s fear had affected her, and earlier Deke’s exhaustion, he supposed he had to accept it as reality.
“How’s your hand to hand?” She steps up in front of him on the mat. Five minutes ago, he would have answered with a confident decent but after watching the pair spar...
“Your file gave you more credit than that.”
“I tried not to let the lack of appendage slow me down but there were definitely obstacles, I’m hoping this will help with that.” He gestures to the new prosthetic.
“Only if you trust it.” And with that she lunges at him. She is nowhere near him, not even trying to land a hit on him. She goes for his right side and rather than shift the weight to his left to avoid her he instinctively depends on his good leg, tripping over his own feet and ending up flat on the mat.
“Don’t be, you’ve spent more than a decade learning to not rely on that leg, I imagine that will be a hard habit to break.”
He senses her statement is unfinished. “But we will?”
He nods and climbs back to his feet, intentionally leading with the left leg.
He is fairly quick and has always been a fast learner. As he adjusts to leading with his left leg he manages to avoid May’s advances a little longer each time even if it’s still for no more than a few seconds. He does manage to take her by surprise once, catching her by her wrist on the way down and tossing her to the ground next to him. He thinks maybe she’s impressed or maybe she’s just impressed because he is with himself.
“Not afraid to knock me down, that good.”
“Why would I be?”
“That 1950’s mentality.”
“You think Peggy Carter would let me think that way for very long.”
He thinks he catches a small smile but its only for a second before they are back at it again. Over the next two rounds she must decide he feels a little too confident with himself and sends him to the ground by swiping his feet out from under him in less than a second.
“What did you mean earlier, when you told Daisy she wasn’t afraid of hitting the floor.” He asks as they start again.
“I know what if feels like to be afraid of falling, that’s not what I felt.”
“But what was it?” He hits the ground again. This time it hurts more. Like maybe her training gloves were off. Rather than holding out a hand as she had done every time before she stands above him, looking down at him, scrutinizing him.
“Why do you need to know?”
“I just want to be able to help her as best I can, if she needs it.”
He can’t tell if she believes him. She just glares at him as he returns to his feet once more.
“Its not a fear of falling, it’s a fear of failing.” May finally answers. “I could feel it, her technique was fine but she’s not fully recovered and she was wearing down more quickly than she normally would have, I know I trained her.” This doesn’t surprise him at all. The relationship between them definitely read like a balance between mentor and pupil and mother and daughter. “It’s normal, she needs more time, but it’s not completely unlike her to be irrational in her expectations for herself and she thinks she needs to be fine now, when she fell she was – I don’t know if she was afraid she wouldn’t be able to land that flip again or if it hit her all at once and she was afraid she’d never be a hundred percent again but whichever it was, it truly scared her.”
“But you said it, she just needs more time.”
“I also used the word irrational.” May reiterated. “I’m telling you this because she trusts you, I can feel that too, among other things,” she rolls her eyes and he knows that his crush on Daisy is not just his secret anymore, “but you genuinely want to be there for her and she might actually let you do that and if that’s the case I’m willing to give you any help I can provide.”
“She really means a lot to you.”
She doesn’t say anything, but she does nod.
Before Daniel can say anything in return the door swings open and Daisy bounces back into the room with Mack following behind her. A smile stretches across his face as Daisy’s eyes seek him out and she holds up the half-eaten apple in her hand.
He hears May scoff and the next thing he knows is that he’s lying on the mat again, staring up at the harsh overhead lights. There is a distant laugh and the light thump of more feet on the mat. Daisy appears above him looking just slightly concerned but mostly amused. “Did you even try to ease him into it?” She asks May.
“Didn’t need too.”
Daisy holds out a hand for him which he gratefully takes.
“She didn’t throw you around too much, did she?”
“Not at all.”
“You’re lying.” He is. For the first time in years his other body parts hurt just as much as his leg, maybe even more. “Wait, where are you going?” Daisy asks May as the woman leaves the mat. She picks up her water and takes a few long sips and then a few deep breaths.
“I can’t do it, if they’re going to be in the same room, you have to finish the evaluations.” And with that she leaves.
“What was that about?” Daisy crosses her arms and shifts her weight. Her tied back hair swings behind her and he can’t decide if its blonde or brown or some odd shade in between but whatever it is its safer to concentrate on than her exposed shoulders and bare midriff. He blinks at her several times before he can comprehend the four simple words she’s said.
“My fault,” he answers suddenly, “I think, I mean I’m pretty overwhelmed with my leg and everything, if she can feel that – its probably disconcerting for her.” That sounded better than she couldn’t deal with the second-hand feelings from his crush on her daughter-figure.
Daisy turns her attention on him. She has that look in her eyes again. The same one she had when she thanked him after they had escaped the time loops. Like she knows something he doesn’t. “Yeah, that’s probably it.”
“Sousa, you okay to go a few more rounds so I can check Daisy’s progress?”
He looks from Mack to Daisy. She tilts her head in question, “you up for it?”
“Of course, whatever you need.” Her smile softens and he recalls May’s words. You genuinely want to be there for her and she might actually let you. Daniel really hopes she’s right.