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Already Gone

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Already Gone
by Apple Blossom

Disclaimer: Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D belongs to Joss Whedon, Jed Whedon, Stan Lee, ABC, Marvel Television, Mutant Enemy, and anyone else who wants to lay claim to it.

One moment Lincoln is smiling at me and the next he's hurt. Jemma and Fitz lean him against the wall and hurry to get medical supplies while I beg them, "Tell me he's going to be okay."

He stares at me, sweat beading his brow as I say, "I'm sorry, Lincoln. I'm sorry. I never meant to turn against you."

"I know," he tells me, his eyes thick with pain. "I don't blame you. You weren't yourself."

"I am now," I reassure him. "You never came to see me. In my cell."

Jemma and Fitz back away slowly as Lincoln says, "I knew what you were going through and how you needed time. To put yourself back together."

"Did I... did I ruin this? Us?" It's my worst fear and I worry that this is really why he hasn't come to see me since I returned.

"I just think we need to work on ourselves before we talk about us." Tears flow down my cheeks as I agree, even though I hate the idea of being separated from him.

"The stuff that I did, Lincoln. I can't live with it."

"I remember that pain," he tells me. "Secret guilt. Anger. I know why you went to face Hive alone."

"I tried." I'm lying to him now. He can't ever know how weak I was. "I tried to defeat him... I did."

"Daisy... Daisy, I know why you went to him." He's calling me out for the liar that I am and I'm embarrassed and ashamed. "Like I said, I've been through it. I've hit bottom. I know what it is like to be so addicted to something that you'd do anything to get her back."

Lincoln wants me to help Coulson until I tell him that I know what is coming next. He sees Elena's cross. Knows the vision I had and when I tell him I'm accepting fate he argues with me. "I know what you're thinking. You said you can't live with what you've done. But you have to. Okay? Promise me you won't try to atone for your sins with some kind of sacrifice."

I disappear before anyone notices and hurry to load the warhead onto the Quinjet. This is what I'm meant to do. Save my friends. Save the world from the way I feel with Hive's influence ripped away from me. No one else should have to suffer like this. Suffer for what I've done.

"Well isn't this poetic," Hive says from behind me, startling me away from the nuke and to my feet. "Feels like jt was meant to be. You were easy to find. I smelled your blood and it lead me right here."

"Every Inhuman has a purpose. Lash saved me so I could end this." Defiance is all I have left. He can't take me back. Lincoln knows what I've done. I've hurt everyone I ever cared about. It's going to be better this way.

"SHIELD has you fighting their wars again. We planned to end wars, remember? Bring peace."

"You mean absolute power." I tell him. "Well, not today. The autopilot coordinates have been set. This thing is going to outer space. With you in it."

Hive is going on about how Ward can override the controls when I see the blood, follow the trail to the cockpit, and see my worst nightmare realized. A weak and tired Lincoln is sitting in the pilot's seat and as he turns around he says, "That's why I had to come. I shorted the manual controls."

A blast of static electricity shoots from his hand and I'm surprised to see he's missed Hive altogether, until it hits me hard and sends me flying out of the Quinjet. Landing hard on the deck I see the cargo bay doors close and the jet takes off. All I can do is yell "no" and hurry toward the Zephyr's control room. I have to get Lincoln back. This isn't how it is supposed to be. I grab the microphone, tears filling my eyes as I beg him to come back.

"It's supposed to be me," I tell him. "I saw the future. This is supposed to be my destiny."

When I realize that he has Elena's cross my heart sinks.

"I stole it from you," he says and I sink to the floor, devastated.

"This is not how it is supposed to be. It should be me to fix the damage to my friends... to you... you can't just die for me like this. It's wrong!"

His voice comes through, pained yet confident. "I don't know. Saving the girl I love and the world at the same time; it feels pretty right to me."

My team is rushing around the control room but I already know. Fitz made it clear that you can change the future and my time with Lincoln is running out. The communications are breaking up as the Quinjet ascends farther and farther into the upper atmosphere.

"Lincoln, I can't take it if you..." I can't even say the words, my heart aching as the tears come faster. "You can't do this."

"I wouldn't have thought so either. But here I am," he answers. I can't just let him go. There's so much left unsaid and I'm such a mess that I can't find the words. It's then that he realizes that he's told me the most important thing. He loves me. And then he's gone. I beg Coulson to get him back. This is my fault and I need to make it right. He has to come back!

"We have to at least try," I cry out after Fitz says there is no way to maneuver the Quinjet in outer space.

When Coulson says, "He wouldn't want us to," I know it is over.

"He's paying for my mistake," I tell them, seeing the looks of pity on their faces.

"No," Coulson replies. "He's paying for all our mistakes."

I turn and watch the video screen in anguish, until a flash of light is there and gone in the blink of an eye. Sinking to the ground once more, I sob inconsolably at the loss of the man I love. Dead by my own misdeeds. This is all on me. My head pounds as blood rushes to my brain and it takes several minutes before I realize Mack is bent down, his face close to mine. His lips are moving but I hear nothing and when I don't respond, he gently reaches for my elbow and helps me to my feet. One arm goes around my waist as he leads me out of the control room and into one of the bunks on the Zephyr. Finally, his voice reaches me, drifting in slowly as he says, "I'm so sorry, Daisy."

He sits with me as we head back to the base, his arm around me as I lean into him for support. My head throbs with the loss of Hive. This pain that I've suffered through since being rescued by Lash is never ending but it is nothing compared to the ache in my heart right now. 'It's my fault,' I keep thinking, the words on constant repeat in my brain and I find I'm so tired that I can barely keep my eyes open. For now I let Mack's words comfort me, but I don't believe any of it. It seems like forever since we arrive back at Ragtag base and once more Mack has me by the elbow with one hand, while his other arm supports me at the waist, making sure that I don't collapse. My eyes are focused exclusively on the floor and if anyone passes us, I don't know. Don't care. I expect Mack to take me back to one of the polytechnic rooms, back to my prison, but instead I look up in time to see us standing outside of my room. He opens the door and flips on the light as we enter. A t-shirt lays in the corner - Lincoln's - and instantly I avert my eyes from it. There's way too many memories of him here in this room and for a moment I think about telling Mack I don't want to stay here, but I'm just too tired to say a word. He leads me to the bed and pulls down the blanket before helping sit down. His eyes seek out mine but I refuse to look at him, see the pity, or worse, in them. I hear the slight sigh escape him and a moment later he is working at the shoestrings of my boots, slipping first one off and then the other before he holds up the blanket for me to slide under. I do as he suggests and close my eyes, wanting to shut out the world forever.

***

People come and go but I ignore them. Food is left on trays and taken away hours later untouched. My pain doesn't get easier but I'm starting to get used to it. Embracing it as my punishment for betraying my team. For nearly killing Mack and attempting to lure Lincoln to Hive's sway. How could I have ever thought he would want that? The agents who were turned to primitive Inhumans are on me as well. It never would have happened if I hadn't just told Hive everything he wanted to know. It's just as they've always said. When people get close to me, they die. I am a danger to everyone I care about and as I come to this realization, I start to form a plan. It's been days since I've been out of this bed for longer than a few minutes. Longer than that since I've eaten and even though I'm not hungry I know I need my strength if this is going to work. First I get up and make my way to the bathroom and take a quick shower. Washing my hair makes me feel better, but my skin still crawls with wanting Hive so I scrub it brutally with the loofah until it is angry and pink. Afterwards, I slip on a pair of sweat pants and a t-shirt and comb my wet hair, waiting to see if someone will bring me dinner. As if on cue the door opens and Mack walks in with a tray filled with all of my favorite foods. He seems surprised to see me up and moving around and a smile crosses his face for a moment as he set the tray down on the small table in my room.

"Hi," he says tentatively.

"Hi," I whisper, my voice hoarse from lack of use.

"Are you hungry?" Mack asks and I nod, getting up to join him at the table. When I sit down he adds, "Is it okay if I stay with you for awhile?"

I nod again, knowing that our time together is growing short. He has been the best partner and friend I have ever had and I wish I could tell him that, but if anyone figures out my plan, they'll try to stop me. Try to deny that I'm the reason so many people - so many agents - have died over the years. Mack allows me to eat in silence and when I tell him I'm tired he gets up immediately, ready to take the tray and leave me in peace, but I have to say goodbye to him in my own way. My arms slip around his waist and he immediately wraps his around me, enveloping me in his big, strong embrace. I wish I could stay like this forever, but in order to protect them all I have to leave. Letting go, I give him a slight smile, and once he leaves I pull out my backpack and decide what to take and what to leave behind. My laptop goes in first and then two pairs of jeans, a couple of tees and long sleeved, button down shirts. Under things and toiletries are tucked into the smaller pocket and finally, glancing over at Lincoln's discarded shirt, I reach for it and hold it close, taking in the smell of him still lingering within the fabric. Placing it in my bag I zip it shut and hide it under the bed for now, before climbing back into bed to wait. I close my eyes, knowing that the alarm I've set on my phone will wake me if needed and fall into a nightmare filled sleep as I have every day since Lincoln's been gone. It seems like forever, but not long enough, until my phone buzzes insistently on the night stand beside my bed. It's 2am and most of the occupants of the base should be asleep. I dress quickly, dark jeans, plaid shirt and a hoodie, before slipping my feet into my boots and carefully opening the door. Glancing out into the hallway I find it deserted and quietly make my way toward the exit. When I get there I take one long look back, wishing things could be different. 'They'll be safer now,' I think to myself as tears unexpectedly flood my eyes and plunge down my cheeks. It's time to go.

***

"I wanted to thank you," Polly Hinton says as I stare away from her, pretending we don't know each other for a moment. I know Coulson is here. He thinks I haven't seen him, hiding away in the upper floor of the brick hotel, binoculars in hand, but moments earlier I also saw Mack heading inside. They're not doing a great job of being inconspicuous, or maybe they just forgot that May taught me everything I know. "The money was too generous... and to help us relocate. I was treated as a pariah back home."

Finally I turn toward her and her precious little girl. The one who hopefully will never end up like me. Walking over to her, I bend down, hoping my new goth appearance won't frighten her. I change my look every few days to keep SHIELD - or the ATCU - guessing. She smiles as I ask, "Do you like animals?"

"Yeah," she tells me softly and I reach into my pocket to pull out the bird Charles carved just for her.

"Your dad made this," I tell her. "It's a robin. Like you."

I know my time is short. It won't take much for Coulson to recognize me now. Her mother says, "You've been a real friend."

"I actually wanted to introduce you to a friend of mine," I say, knowing that it's the least I can do for Cal - or Dr. Winslow now. Introduce him to someone who could use his help. I know that he will watch over Polly and Robin in a way that I can't right now. It's the least I can do for him. He's lost so much over the years. "He has a practice near here. I think you'd get along. He likes animals too."

"You're too kind," Polly says.

I feel like I'm getting too close. I can't let that happen anymore. When I get close to people, they die and I don't want Robin to lose a mother. Or worse, Polly to lose her daughter. I get up as I say, "I'm just keeping a promise."

I hurry off just as the squeal of government vehicles' tires slide into view, heading into an alley way. Creating just enough of a shock wave, I'm able to leap to the roof of one of the buildings, out of sight just before Coulson and Mack appear. I wish I could tell them to stop chasing me. They need to let me go. I'm already gone.

The end