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.
"It's her," I say quietly, knowing Coulson can hear me through the comms tucked into my ear.
"Okay," he replies and I hear the apprehension in that one word. We've been tracking her forever, just one step behind in most cases. Always playing catch up until now. "I'll be right there."
"No," I answer quickly. "Just... Just let me talk to her. See if I can convince her to come in on her own."
"The director will be pissed," he says. "If we let her get away."
"There's no guarantee we can contain her in a confrontation," I argue. "Just let me try."
I hear him sigh, that one sound full of frustration and I understand it. Really I do. For all that he cares about her, he's never been able to completely cross that line between director and agent, to what I know he feels deeply for her. He has always held her at arm's length, following protocols over instinct and that has cost him dearly. One word answers me and I know he doesn't like it, but he agrees. "Fine."
I enter the coffee shop that is buzzing with early morning commuters and notice right away that she's not wearing the emo disguise. In fact she looks more like Skye - Rising Tide hacker, than Daisy Johnson - destroyer of bridges and buildings. Her hair has gotten longer and attempts to hide her face as she sits quietly in a booth near the back of the restaurant, sipping coffee from a plain white mug. She wears a gray plaid shirt and jeans and when she looks up I see she is wearing almost no makeup. Her eyes grow wide as she glances behind me and then at the kitchen door not far from where she sits, instantly calculating her next move.
My hands go up discreetly to show her I'm not armed and I can't help the smile that crosses my face. I have missed her so much.
"Hi," I say softly. "May I sit down?"
I watch as her eyes dart past me once more, this time out the windows so I add, "I'm alone, I promise. I just want to talk."
She nods ever so slightly so I settle in across from her, reaching for a menu and opening it, giving Daisy time to relax without me staring at her.
"I don't want to hurt anyone," she whispers as she shifts closer to the edge of the booth, ready to make her escape at a moment's notice. A waitress appears with an empty coffee mug and a full carafe, setting it on the table before reaching for the empty one.
We order the breakfast special and wait for the waitress to leave before I reach for the comm in my ear, pulling it out and turning it off. Slowly I push it across the table before reaching into my pocket and doing the same with my cell phone. "Daisy, I just want to talk to you. No one else is listening. It's just me and you."
"There's nothing to talk about Mack," she says softly, one hand reaching for several sugar substitute packages and settling them in front of herself. It's a nervous habit that she's always had and it tells me one very important thing. As much as things have changed, so much is still the same.
"You've been busy," I reply, reaching for my mug and blowing on the piquant brew, taking a sip before I add, "Are they Inhumans?"
"Some," she replies, her eyes cast down, still fussing with the sugar packets until I reach a hand out and cover one of hers. Daisy stills instantly, her eyes darting up to meet mine momentarily before looking away, but I see the sadness in them and my heart breaks for her. She allows my hand to stay, so I lace my fingers between hers, squeezing reassuringly. Before I can say anything else, ask how she is doing, our food comes. Letting go, I lean back in my seat, enjoying my meal with her, even if it is in silence.
When we are finished and the waitress brings the check, I reach for my wallet, pulling enough cash out to pay for the meal and tip before asking her, "Is there some place we can go and talk?"
She shakes her head, glancing once more out the windows but I reassure her that I'm all alone. Finally she sighs and nods, getting up and leading the way out of the restaurant. Together we walk side by side down the busy L.A. street until we get to an alley way. Taking a right, we travel past the dumpsters and when we get to the next street I see our destination. A run down motel is across another busy road and we dodge traffic to get there, heading toward one of the rooms in the back of the motel. She pulls an old key out of her pocket, hanging from a large orange keychain, and shoves it into knob, turning it to the left and opening the door. I follow her inside and shut the door. The room is dated but clean, with one king sized bed taking up the majority of the space. An old wooden desk and chair sit near the window overlooking the walkway and a beat up dresser holds a surprisingly newer television.
"Daisy," I say finally when she turns around, crossing her arms as if to protect herself. "It's time for you to come home."
"I'm not going back," she says adamantly, her eyes narrowing in anger. "I'm not going to register - or whatever they're calling their witch hunt these days. I'm not going to be catalogued or locked away in a prison for trying to help those that can't help themselves."
"It won't be like that," I tell her, stepping forward and reaching out a hand to touch her face gently. She closes her eyes for just a moment and I wonder how much human contact she's actually had since she's been on the run. "I will never let that happen to you."
"You think you can stop it?" she snaps, stepping back from me abruptly. "You think I don't know that Coulson's not the director anymore?"
She turns away from me then and adds quietly, "Besides, you're all better off without me there."
"Do you know why I'm the one that's always looking for you?" I ask as I close the distance between us, placing a hand on her shoulder.
"Because you don't know when to give up?" she replies sarcastically.
I can't help the laugh that escapes and for a moment the muscles in her shoulders relax ever so slightly as I answer, "Maybe."
When she leans her head back against my chest I can't help but wrap my arms around her. Daisy's hands grip mine tightly as a sigh of frustration escapes her. "I miss you, Tremors."
"We can't do this," she says, starting to pull away from me. "You need to go before something bad happens to you."
"Daisy," I say, turning her around to face me. "Nothing bad is going to happen to me."
"If you stay with me it will," she whispers and I see she is serious. "Everyone that gets close to me dies. Agents. Friends. Family."
"Daisy," I say her name, trying to come up with an argument that makes sense. Something that will convince her to come home, but I can see how she could construe her life that way. Stolen away from her parents at a young age, her mother and father went to ghastly lengths to try and find her. Agents dying to protect her. She was moved from home to home, in an effort to protect her, but all it taught her was she wasn't worth the trouble. As soon as she was settled in one place, she was taken some place new. Her longest relationship was with Coulson and their original team and for her, that ended with more agents dying, some by her father's hands. Some by her mother's, and some by her own. At least if you looked at it from her view. Hive's sway over her resulted in Daisy giving up every piece of information about our base but it also gave her something that she had never had before. A feeling of finally belonging. Of being needed and wanted in a way that no one else had ever been able to give her. When Andrew ripped that away from her all those feelings of being unwanted must have flooded back in and the guilt at betraying Coulson, betraying the team, hurting Fitz and me, must have been so overwhelming. I can't even imagine how she must have felt when she realized that Lincoln was fulfilling Charles' prophecy that someone on our team would die. Daisy wanted it to be her. To be the one that sacrificed her life as atonement for all the things she blamed herself for. As I remind myself of all this I suddenly know that there isn't much I can say that will change her mind, but I still have to try. My hand cups her face gently, my feelings getting the better of me as I say, "I need you. I need my partner to come home."
"I told you," she says, her eyes closing, one hand reaching up to cover mine for just a moment. "We're not partners anymore."
"I will always be your partner, Daisy," I say, pulling her close and unexpectedly her arms wrap around my waist. When she finally looks up at me there are tears flooding her eyes, and without thinking, I reach out and wipe one off her cheek before leaning down and pressing my lips to hers. I know I shouldn't. I should leave my feelings out of the equation but all reason escapes me as she kisses me back.
When she finally pulls away a brief smile crosses her face and fades quickly. "I'm not going back with you."
"I know," I reply, my voice gruff with wanting her, needing her, but I have to respect her decision so I just caress her cheek tenderly before letting her go. I watch as she steps back, biting her lip slightly before going toward the mirrored closet door, sliding it open and pulling out a duffel bag and a backpack. She slips the duffel over her shoulder before unzipping the smaller pocket of the backpack. Curiosity gets the better of me and I watch as she fumbles around inside it for a moment before she finds what she is looking for. It takes a moment before I realize it is a phone and she keys something into it before handing it to me.
"You can contact me on this," she says finally. "It's untraceable."
I take it from her and pocket it, realizing this is goodbye. For now. I want to hold her, kiss her again, but I know I have to let her go. Coulson's going to be furious. The director will be worse, but if I try to take her by force, it will end badly for all of us and innocent bystanders all around. At least if I can talk to her from time to time, maybe eventually I'll be able to convince her to come home.
"I probably won't answer it," Daisy says finally. "But you can text me."
I nod, not sure what else to say to her as she slings the backpack over her other shoulder, drops the key on the desk and says, "Goodbye, Mack. Don't follow me."
I nod and let her go, giving her a head start to where ever she is headed. Once I know that she won't be found, I reach into my pocket and turn my phone back on. Missed calls and texts immediately start appearing and I know Coulson's not going to be happy with me. As I reach for the door handle, I whisper softly, "Goodbye Daisy."