Sick on Christmas
They had gotten Will, Coulson and Fitz back out of the portal, thanks to Daisy keeping it open longer to the displeasure of Lincoln, who was ready to let the portal close with their people behind in order to stop Death coming over.
(Which they possibly were late for that, given that HYDRA had almost cleared out by the time they arrived.)
Daisy insisted they keep the portal open – she insisted she kept it open – he argued that it wasn't worth it, and it would've gone on for longer if it wasn't for Joey who said that they had to, with Mack, Bobbi and May backing them up.
Bobbi, Hunter and May would enter to look for them and Daisy got ready to use her powers.
Thankfully, it didn't take them long to find the three men and bring them home, but it was still enough to exhaust Daisy.
When she had regained enough strength to stand on her own – thank Mack for supporting her – her eyes fell first on Jemma holding Fitz and presumably Will in her arms.
'Well, that is going to be awkward.' she thought, smiling a little. 'Maybe a little drama will be a welcome distraction.'
Coulson was the last to return, in a bad shape, leaning heavily on Hunter.
She silently went over and placed his left hand over her shoulders, her right hand wrapping around his waist. Hunter let go of Coulson, giving them,uncharacteristically, a moment.
"I'm sorry." he said quietly.
"I know." she replied.
"I just had to..." he said.
"I know, Coulson." she replied softly
"I only wanted..." he started again.
"I know, Phil." she whispered.
Everyone was quiet on the flight back.
The issue with the directorship was agreed to be resoved after the Christmas vacation, Mack giving the order for everyone but the basic crew to take a few days off.
Lincoln went to the Cocoon and Joey decided to track down some relatives. May took off quietly and Daisy hoped she'd be coming back this time. Lance and Bobbi left together – to no one's surprise – with Mack leaving a little while later.
"So, if you go, who's in charge?" Daisy asked him.
"You." Mack shrugged.
"What if I had plans?"
"Sparkplug left already. If you had plans, you'd've left with him."
"Yeah, yeah, whatever you say." Daisy grinned. "Go enjoy your free time."
Jemma and Will decided to go to her parents' and Daisy kinda secretly approved of the astronaut. Fitz was the last one of their small circle of close friends to leave the base, rather down in the dumps, probably headed for his family.
"Oh, Daisy!" Jemma turned and called before boarding the Quinjet.
"Would you mind checking up on the Director, um...I mean, Agent Coulson? He didn't seem well when I passed him by earlier."
"Yeah, sure." she nodded.
It wasn't long before the Playground was left witht the skeleton crew. And even half-empty, it still managed to look festive enough for Christmas. (Her and Jemma had rounded Billy, Sam and Hunter up and dragged them around helping with decorating.)
She went looking for Coulson, worried about him after what Jemma had told her.
He was hunched over, in a wooly sweater in the lounge.
"Coulson?" she asked softly.
He slowly looked up, nose red and obviously stuffy, a tissue already on its way to cover it, and eyes watery. Daisy frowned.
"Did you catch a cold on that planet?" she asked incredulous.
He sniffed loudly.
"It's not funny." he mumbled,blowing his nose on the tissue.
"Come on, Phil. You need to take better care of yourself. It's Christmas! Can't have you bedridden." she said.
"Yeah, I'm sorry, I'll probably be bedridden this year." he mumbled to the tissue.
"Wait here." Daisy said and left the lounge before he could reply.
"Where could I possibly go?" he called after her, nevertheless. Which was followed by loud coughing.
She returns moments later holding his blanket and a second pair of socks from his bunk.
"Here." she kneels in front of the couch and puts his socks on, over the other pair, after wrapping him in the blanket.
She then proceeds to place the pillows in such a way so he can recline.
"Better?" she asks.
"Thank you." he says,keeping his mouth covered.
"On top of everything bad going on for you lately, you had to get sick, too."
"Poetic justice to remind me I am just a guy?" he shrugged.
He blew his nose.
"I'll be right back." she told him.
He watched her go to the kitchen and start heating water. In a few minutes she had prepared two cups of chamomile and gave him one.
"Hold it close to your face, they say it's good when your nose is clogged up and your throat sore."
"Yeah..." he nodded, face over the cup. "My dad used to do stuff like these for my mum when she got sick. It wasn't often, but I remember a couple of times, before he died."
"Yeah?" she asked with a soft smile.
"Mmm. He made a really good soup. Mum used to say that it was worth being sick."
"I may not make that good of a soup," she started, "but I can probably make something hot and nutricious."
Phil looked up at her.
"You don't have to..."
"I know, Phil." she shook her head. "You should know by now that if I don't want to do something I let you know."
"And do it because I tell you to." he said, looking away from her.
"Hey." she kneeled before him. "You were trying to keep me out of their clutches. I didn't like working with them, yes, but not only because they were treating Inhumans like an incurable disease. You put yourself in danger because of me, Phil."
"Skye..." he sighed, then groaned, "Daisy, dammit. Not again." he hit his head on the back of the couch.
"It's ok. You get a pass because you're sick." she smiled.
"I should be able to remember your name correctly, sick or not."
"And 'Skye' was my name. For more than ten years. I was 'Skye' to you. You were the one I was closest to. And my changing my name was hard. To both of us."
"But it's your name. It's your decision. I want to honor that. I..." he sneezed into the blanket.
"You need to take it easy on yourself for a couple of days." she said, amused, watching him drink up his chamomile.
She gets up and goes back to the kitchen to prepare lunch.
They eat on the couch, with the tv on playing some Christmas-themed movie and when they're done Daisy helps him to his feet and guides him back to his room.
"I'm sorry." he tells her.
"For getting sick." he says.
"You didn't get sick on purpose."
"No, but I wasn't completely justified in my actions to the point I got sick." he said. "I shouldn't have done that. On my own."
"There will always be something we regret doing after doing it." Daisy said. "For some time, I regreted going after Raina. Trip would've been alive. I would've been here when Gonzales made his move. You wouldn't have to partner with Ward to find me."
"I don't regret that." he shook his head. "I had to find you and then take back SHIELD."
"I regreted being ready to follow my mother. I know you. I should have expected that even when you let Gonzales come you'd be trying to settle things quietly. You wouldn't attack us or let the others go for attacking."
"She was your mother. If you can't trust the woman that gave birth to you, that tried to find you when you were taken, who can you trust?"
"The man I knew for two years, that would do everything in his power not to have a war between SHIELD and powered people."
"Family comes first, Daisy. Parents come first."
"And you know you are family to me. You are my friend and partner in part-alieness. And I can doubt some people in SHIELD, but never you."
"You are my family, too." he said softly. "But we end up hurting those we care for the most... I hurt you."
"Did Simmons give you any medication before she left?" Daisy asked, frowning.
Daisy smiled a little.
"That explains a lot."
"You don't normally express yourself so much. You keep things to yourself."
"I know." he sighed. "I'm sorry, Daisy. I try to tell you everything, give you everything. But it's hard. I'm scared I'll lose you. And if I do, there won't be much of me left."
"So, you try to keep it together so you don't completely break apart?"
"I was a wreck when you got shot. I was just standing there, holding on a glass chamber. I was..." he coughed.
They reached his room and Daisy helped him to his bed.
"I'd like it if you could stay." he said softly. "But I don't want to get you sick."
"I can get settled at your desk, have some work done, so Christmas day will be free of paperwork." she shrugged.
"Thank you." he sighed. "And I'm sorry."
"I know, Phil."
A few hours passed in silence, Daisy working on his laptop while Coulson slept. He groaned, slowly waking up.
"You feeling better?" Daisy asked.
"No." came the muffled reply, as Coulson pressed his face into his pillow.
A cough and a sneeze followed by another groan and Daisy chuckled. Phil looked up and tried to glare at her, but the effect was ruined by his red nose.
"Come on, then. Time for you medice."
"Yeah, maybe not. I mixed my pain medication with the cough drops." he rapsed. "Not doing it again."
Daisy laughs at him and proceds to give him his medication. He stared at her with suspision.
"You'll be fine. I am not mixing your medication." she promised.
Coulson sighed and let her take care of him.
He watched her go and return with another cup of tea for the both of them and sit beside him, pulling the chair next to his bed.
"Why are you still here?"
"Because you're sick and someone has to take care of you?" she raised an eyebrow at him.
"No, I meant, the Playground. No plans for Christmas?"
"Nope. Mack put me in charge of the base if there was an incident, so I could drag back everyone."
"You'd be a good director." Coulson said quietly.
"If you're excepting me to say 'me', you've set your standards very low." Phil said. "I could say Director Carter, because you wouldn't give Nazi scientists a blank slate, but that would be harsh on our first director, since the time and resources she had to work with was limiting her options."
Daisy smiled at him.
"That is quite a high praise, nonetheless." she said.
"It's the truth, though." he coughed. "I hate being sick." he groaned, reaching for a tissue.
"Don't we all?" Daisy agreed, handing him one.
"Whot would yo've done for Chrestmas?" Phil asked tissue blocking his nose before blowing it. "Ugh..."
"Used to watch Christmas movies on my laptop when I was alone. You know, Home Alone, The Nightmare before Christmas, Jack Frost, A Christmas Carol, Harry Potter..."
"Harry Potter isn't a Christmas movie."
"No, but it's a Christmas favorite and an orphans' story, so..." she shrugged. "And since I joined up, with you and the team."
"Those haven't been the best of Christmases."
"Our first wasn't so bad." Daisy smiled.
"FitzSimmons filled the Bus with tinsel and mistletoes from cockpit to loading bay." he smiled back.
"And Ward and Fitz getting caught under one before we left for our free week!" she laughed. "I don't know who was more embarrassed."
"I think he was trying to get under it with Simmons." he said.
"Oh, and I was saying goodbye and Ward just walked over, right?" she looked over. "He really hated it."
"Well, good for us we didn't get caught under it with him." he shuddered.
"Poor Fitz, though."
"And then, last year, with your carvings and me changing and Trip dying..." Daisy said softly.
"And this year, I am sick and you got stuck here babysitting me."
"It's not so bad." she smiled. "Best Christmas present?" she asked suddenly.
"My first baseball set." he answered immediately. "I was...five, I think. My dad coached the football team but he thought I wasn't going to be cut out for it."
"I was too small, too skinny. I got my, relative, growth spurt late in my teens." he said.
"I don't think he expected I'd stick to any sport, but hoped that by playing I'd gain some muscle."
Daisy patted his chest, in good humor, she's not trying anything here, he's sick and they're having a companionable moment, but he freezes for a second, like he was surprised she'd touch him.
"Your dad won't have to worry. You seem like you got more than 'some' muscle." she says, looking him in the eye.
"Yeah." he nodds, relaxes. "You? Best Christmas present?" he turns the attention away from him.
"It was 2002, I was fourteen, and one of the kids...well no, he was eighteen."
"Eighteen? Why was he still in St. Agnes?"
"Blind." she shrugged. "Matty left only once, for a year. Came back calmer, but sadder, angrier."
"And what did he get you?"
"A blind stick." she said amused.
Coulson stared at her.
"There is a story here I – " he sneezed. "God..."
Daisy smiled and picked up their mugs. Coulson made a disappointed noise in the back of his neck.
"Don't worry. I'm only going to refill them."
She comes back with a tray full of tea and soup and warm bread.
Coulson sat up and accepted the tray when she handed to him.
"What's up with Joey?" he asked suddenly.
"Before he took off for Christmas with family I heard him singing?" he frowned. "Something about being bulletproof and nothing to lose..."
Daisy burst out laughing.
"Apparently, he is bulletproof. Took three bullets for me at the castle, while I was focused on that timer HYDRA had set up."
"I'm so sorry, Daisy..."
"Enough. You took out Ward. The world is safer now. His brother can get closure, move on."
"You? May? Andrew? Bobbi? Simmons? Those who had to mourn his countless victims? Did you get any closure?"
"Personally? Yeah, I think I did. There's one less monster out there. Now, there's just...well."
"Daisy?" he frowned. "What...?" he coughed. "What do you mean?"
"You can't argue the fact I am...not good."
"No. I actually can and will argue the fact. You are better than good. You are the best." Phil said in earnest. "You're the best person I know, Daisy Johnson and we both know I know a lot of good people."
"Yeah, well...It is a fact that your life got worse since we met."
Phil reached out and grabbed her.
"If I hadn't given you the job, Fitz would've been dead in South Osetia. I would have died or would have been left for dead somewhere in a forgotten nuke site in the middle of a desert. Would be dead for sure after the HYDRA reveal at the Hub."
"What if you had survived all these, anyway? The carvings? My dad? My mom? Your hand?"
"Fury pumped me with alien fluids to bring me back from the dead, not you. Your dad was a man trying to get his family back and he may have gotten the wrong idea about who I am to you. Your mom had to live with the memory of what was done to her and live in fear for twenty six years and when we found her and her people, your people, she reacted, which led to my hand."
"All those Inhumans that come out of their transformations, their worlds crashing down on them? All those hunting and hurting them?"
"You saved the lives of so many people who would have died otherwise. You can't tell me you're not good when you were trying to protect everyone even before I even met you, Daisy."
And then he coughed so bad, he feared he moved a lung.
Daisy stared at him for a moment, before smiling.
"If anyone should take any blame it's me." he said softly. "I made your life so much worse."
"OK, stop. We'll spend the rest our lives taking the blame from each other, trying to prove the other how good they are, otherwise. You are a good man, Phil. You have a good heart, maybe too trusting sometimes, and you can be stubborn like a mule."
"So can you!" he exclaimed, before he started coughing again. "Jesus..."
"We agree then that we both think we are the worst the world has seen, unable to protect those important to us, while we think the world for each other?" she smiles. He nods "Then...I'll try to accept I'm not horrible and a curse and a disaster, if you stop thinking that every death is on you."
He opened his mouth to protest, but the look in her eyes stopped him.
"Yeah, I can do that." he agreed. "It's a good plan."
"Of course it is. It's my plan. I have very good plans."
"And I should learn to listen to them more often." he smiles, he promises. "Now. That blind stick."
"Ah, yes. I spent quite a while, a few years actually, trying to walk around the orphanage with a blindfold, crashing in nuns and walls and doors and orphans alike." she settled to tell him her story.
"Ouch." he blew his nose.
"Yeah, not fun, trust me. Sister McKenna had a heart attack when I first fell down the stairs and broke my arm."
"That's why Matt decided I needed the stick." she smiled. "Actually, it was the second time, when I managed to break the other arm and sprain my ankle." she said thoughtfully.
"You always lived this dangerously?" he asked a little scared.
"Yep." Daisy grinned. "Don't worry. I learnt to protect myself. May taught me a lot in the past year."
"That...is actually comforting." he sniffed.
"Yeah, it is. Means I can make sure you don't get your ass kicked. If you stopped being in your head and let me be by your side." she narrowed her eyes at him.
Coulson smiled lightly.
"Maybe it's time I did that, then." he said.
Daisy raised an eyebrow at how easily he accepted her offer.
"That was easier than I had expected." she told him.
"I haven't made it easy for you for such a long time. No more." he shook his head. "You deserve much better than trying to make me see reason or protect me."
"I deemed you worthy, so you can't do anything beside accept it and let me do my thing."
"How are you feeling?"
"A little better?" he shrugged.
"Give it a couple of days and you'll be good as rain." Daisy nodded.
"Yeah..." he sighed and then sneezed again.
True to her estimation, two days of bedrest and care later, Coulson had recovered almost completely, coughing a little from time to time.
"'Morning, Phil." she greeted him as he entered the kitchen.
"Good morning, Daisy." he smiled.
"Yeah." he sighed, relieved.
She smiled and passed him a cup of coffee.
"Glad to hear it." she said.
"Thank you." he took a sip. "What's the plan for today?"
"No emergency emerging yet, so we're free today. Mack left the PlayStation. Wanna go a few rounds in Call of Duty or something?"
"Sure. Team up?"
"Always, Phil." she grinned.
When the rest of the team finally returns from their vacations they find Daisy and Coulson sleeping on the couch of the lounge, empty pizza boxes on the table, the controlers on top of them and a movie in the DVD player on the main menu screen.
No one bothers them and they make sure Hunter leaves them be, until they wake up on their own and untangle themselves from each other, and spend the day welcoming their friends and catching up, before getting back to work, back to protecting the world.
That night, Daisy sneeked into Phil's room and curled around him.
"I feared you wouldn't come." he mumbled.
"And leave my guy alone? No way, Phil. If they find out, they'll have to deal with it. We're good as we are."
"Yes. Yes, we are." he sighed and held her close, both falling asleep slowly, content to hold their other half.