There was a daemon on his pillow.
Slowly, Mack closed and opened his eyes and took another look. The daemon was still there. It was curled in a small bundle, hiding its nose under a fully tail. It looked cute and soft, like a fluffy ball of burnt hay colored cotton.
Mack knew better.
It was a ferret, and they were cunning, agile, and dangerous.
”Hey there,” he said softly, but the daemon didn’t react.
There wasn’t much he could do so he closed his eyes and drifted off.
When he opened his eyes in the morning, the daemon was gone.
Out in the normal world, daemon sightings weren’t rare but in the spy business, they tended to keep themselves hidden. It had been years since Mack had last seen one. It didn’t mean there weren’t speculations, though. Rumor said May’s daemon was a dragon and Fury’s a scorpion, while Steve Rogers’s daemon couldn’t be anything else than a bald eagle.
Some said Stark had made himself a special daemon, and if even a third of the stories about the man were true, Mack could well believe it.
Two days later, the ferret was back. It was again curled on his pillow and opened its other eye when Mack lay down.
”Good night, buddy,” he said.
The ferret yawned, flashing its sharp teeth. Mack turned around to hide his smile.
In the morning, the daemon was gone.
Mack considered himself a simple man. He liked to take care of the machinery and was more than happy to stay out of the field. Besides, staying behind was a good way to keep an eye on Fitz. Not that he thought Fitz needed it; it was more to keep the others out of his hair. He saw the way they danced around him, handled him with extreme care, too eager to accommodate and help him to realize they were slowly suffocating him.
Mack didn’t know what Fitz had been like before, and he didn’t care.
”—the electromagnetic particles surrounding the core which could be the key to—”
Fitz was rambling, the words tumbling from his lips with ease not often seen nowadays. This Fitz talked with his whole body, his eyes shining and hands flailing as he launched into yet another elaborate theory that went straight over Mack’s head.
Mack leaned back in his chair and enjoyed the show with a slight smile. This Fitz was captivating, and he preferred him to the subdued and withdrawn version he so often was with the others.
And then Fitz stopped mid-sentence, his mouth agape.
”Something wrong?” Mack asked.
Fitz didn’t say anything, merely stared at a space just over Mack’s left shoulder.
Mack frowned and turned his head to take a glance over his shoulder and—
The ferret was sitting on his shoulder.
”What are you doing?” Fitz hissed.
The ferret gave him an unimpressed glare and settled down to sleep.
Fitz looked like he was on the verge of a panic attack.
”You know… If this is okay with you, I don’t mind,” Mack said carefully.
Fitz shook his head, didn’t meet his eyes. ”It’s… the last— Ward and Jemma,” he whispered, the last words almost inaudible.
Something cold twisted in Mack’s gut. ”I’m not going anywhere,” he said quietly.
Fitz shrugged and turned away.
The first thing they were taught as kids was that the only appropriate way to touch another human’s daemon was if it initiated contact. Never touch without permission. Never.
Mack had his back to the common area when he heard a collective gasp. He schooled his features before turning to look at a massive black panther walking slowly across the room. It ignored the whispers around it and headed straight to the couch, hopped gracefully on it, and settled down, front legs over Fitz’s thighs.
”What—?” Fitz asked faintly.
The panther nuzzled his neck, cutting off his questions. Fitz raised his hand to give it a tentative stroke and flinched when the panther let out a loud purr.
”Show off,” Mack muttered under his breath fondly.
His panther grinned at him.
”Alright people,” Director Coulson said as he walked in. ”We’re heading out in thirty minutes. May and Trip, take the Quinjet. Skye and Lance are with me. And Mack, the lint rollers are in the cleaning supply closet. Make sure you get all the cat hair off my couch.”
”Yes, sir,” Mack said.
That night, the ferret slept curled on top of the panther. Mack didn’t mind.
”Good night, Turbo,” he said softly.
Fitz didn’t answer; he was already asleep.