Daisy had somehow managed to compartmentalise her anger and resentment until they got to the Lighthouse. She had never been very good at controlling her feelings, even after training with May, but she knew that survival was more important than Coulson betraying her like that.
So she had bit her tongue and swallowed her anger for the most part. She didn't shout at Coulson, didn't totally ignore him like she so wanted to. Her priority was to get the team to safety.
But they were safe now, and she was allowed to hate him all she wanted.
Which was why, when she was awoken very early in the morning by none other than Coulson himself, Daisy barely restrained herself from punching him. "What?" She muttered sullenly.
Phil tried not to smile. Daisy always looked so young when she wasn't quite awake. "Jemma wanted to watch the sunrise." He said softly. "Everyone's going, I was wondering if you'd want to come too. We're only going up to the roof."
Daisy glared for a long moment, then sighed. "Fine." She grumbled. "Just- gimme two minutes to change."
He nodded. "Of course. We'll all be waiting by the stairs when you're ready."
Daisy squirmed into a sitting position as she watched him leave. "Whatever." She muttered and sighed softly as she got up. A small part of her didn't want to be mad at Coulson. He was still the closest to family that she had ever had, along with May. But she couldn't forgive what he'd done. Forcing her to come back. Taking away her choice in the matter.
Did he really only care about her decisions when she agreed with him?
The thought made her feel sick. And betrayed. So many people hadn't given a damn about what she had wanted over the years. Daisy just never expected Coulson to be one of them.
She didn't speak to any of the others as they walked to the roof. She didn't know what to say, really. Part of her blamed them for letting him bring her back, but Coulson was still the leader at the end of the day. She knew that they wouldn't go against him.
Still, Daisy watched the sunrise in silence and tried not to admit how much she enjoyed feeling the rays warm her skin as it climbed higher and higher. It was nice to see Jemma so happy, it was nice to see everyone safe. Even though it felt like it wouldn't last.
She could see Elena standing slightly apart from the rest of them, looking out over the water. Something about her expression seemed… lost. Mack hadn't joined them, too worn out from space and everything that had followed it in those weeks. Daisy knew that it must be hurting her to see him like that. It was hurting her too.
Daisy turned her head when she saw movement and was touched to see Coulson putting his jacket over Elena's slightly shivering shoulders. Those two weren't exactly close, but... Daisy knew that Elena needed it. Needed to know that it wasn't just her.
For just a moment, seeing him do something so kind and typically Coulson, Daisy forgot why she was angry with him. Then it all came back.
Gradually, the others retreated from the rooftop until only Daisy and Coulson were left. She could see him out of the corner of her eye, not quite standing at her side, but definitely watching her. Waiting.
She sighed, frustrated. "What?" Daisy asked abruptly. "What do you think's gonna happen here? You take me up here to watch the sun like the friggen Lion King and you think I'll just forgive you?"
Coulson shook his head. "No. I just want to make sure you're okay."
Daisy groaned. "You can act as saintly as you want, it's not gonna change anything. You can't make me forgive you."
Phil held up his hands peacefully. "I know." He said softly. "I don't expect you to." He smiled. "How could I when I'm not even sorry?"
Daisy glared poisonously and Coulson sighed. "You're here." He murmured. "You're alive and you're home and, as far as I know, no one's going to sell you into slavery." He looked down. "I am sorry that I brought you back against your will."
"But you'd do it again."
She looked out over the sea and the cliffs. "I can't be okay with that."
Organising the Lighthouse was hard and thankless, but at least it took up time. Being in their position; no money, no influence, and barely a future to hope for meant that the team had nothing to do but kill time. May didn't even argue when Jemma insisted she undergo physical therapy for her leg, and Daisy had walked past the gym more than once while she was going through the motions.
They spent most of their time turning the Lighthouse into their new base, stocking it up with whatever they could, designating all of the empty rooms as the common area and the gym and the conference room and offices and sleeping quarters.
Daisy had woken up with a start more than once and forgotten that they were back in the present.
She knew that she wasn't the only one. More than once she'd run into someone else on her late night walks. She'd made tea with May, chatted with Jemma, and jogged with Elena on more than one occasion. When she saw Coulson she tended to just go back to bed and play on her phone.
Daisy saw his sad look when she did, but he didn't try to make her stay. That was good. Otherwise he might find himself getting punched.
So far the silent treatment had been working pretty well for her, so when she heard his voice call "Daisy!" From the end of the corridor after a night of very little sleep she didn't say anything.
She did stop walking though. "Good." Coulson said, out of breath. "I've been looking for you. Can I show you something?"
Daisy briefly considered glaring and walking away, but this seemed like work stuff. She could do work stuff, so she followed him until they reached an empty room towards the top floor. She hadn't been in this one, even in the future.
Coulson was looking at her expectantly so she raised an eyebrow, still not in a talking mood.
Phil tried not to smile. He knew she was mad at him and he still felt bad, but she looked so much like May in that moment that it was eerie. "I wasn't sure what to do with this room." He said. "We've already got all the offices that we need sorted out, some storage downstairs, a gym, common area and everything. This one just seems like it should be something, and I wanted you to decide."
Daisy walked inside hesitantly, half expecting the door to slam shut and lock them both in until she told Coulson that she had forgiven him.
It didn't, so she continued to look around, imagining the various possibilities. It was too close to the entrance to hold anything too important or volatile. Having the lab right by their only escape route could be a recipe for disaster, same with the armoury.
She stood in the middle of the room, taking in the dimensions, number of power sockets, storage space. "It could be an extra gym." She eventually muttered.
Coulson beamed. "Great idea." He said, "We can work on getting it set up tomorrow?"
Daisy shrugged. "Whatever." She'd spoken to him. That was enough.
As good as she was at holding grudges, Daisy had felt her initial anger begin to fade. She was still angry with Coulson, that hadn't changed, but the fire was going down a little. She understood his choice, she usually did. She just didn't agree with it. Part of the hurt it caused was that she had almost expected him to do something like that. Make her come home.
Maybe part of her had wanted him to convince her to come back with them.
Daisy knew though, she couldn't forgive him. Not for that, not now.
So when the team was all setting up the gym, she still didn't talk to Coulson. She mostly watched as he stuck to May's side like glue, refusing to let her lift anything that might be too heavy for her leg without help.
She wondered if something had happened between them or if this was just their regular, not-couple behaviour.
It was nice to all be working together though. Fun to watch Fitz drag punching bags across the ground, struggling every inch, and to see Mack walk right past him with one slung over his shoulder. No one made fun of Fitz, but Daisy couldn't help grinning.
She blamed that happy feeling for what happened next.
Fitz collapsed against the last punching bag, wiping his face on his sleeve. Daisy was definitely going to make fun of him later for all his big talk about push-ups. Fitz huffed in air dramatically. "Bloody hell," He gasped, "I'm exhausted."
Coulson grinned. "Hi exhausted." He teased. "I'm Phil."
Fitz groaned first, everyone else quickly shouting their disgust as well. May rolled her eyes spectacularly but for some reason Daisy couldn't help but laugh. Maybe it was just because of how simple this all seemed compared to all the crap they had been through lately. Maybe she just missed Coulson being the team's dorky dad.
Regardless she cut off her laughter immediately, before anyone could stare. Daisy continued to hook up an exercise bike to the wall but she did notice Coulson glancing at her. He probably thought that this meant she had forgiven him.
He was wrong.
Daisy had thought that the others knew how she felt about her inhibitor. About keeping her powers locked down. It was just too much of a risk if she got them back. She'd risk destroying the world.
She'd risk killing her own team. Her family.
She couldn't do that. She couldn't even think about doing that.
She thought that her family understood, but apparently she was wrong.
That was how she found herself hiding against a wall outside one of the larger offices trying not to get angry or feel too hurt at their conversation.
"She needs her powers." Elena said, "You two could at least research how to get that inhibitor off."
Fitz groaned. "There's no point if she won't agree to have it taken out."
"Perhaps I could talk to her." Jemma said cheerfully and Daisy felt slightly sick. "I'm sure I could convince her."
May hummed, but Daisy couldn't tell if it was in agreement or not. "Her powers are a part of her." She said softly.
Just hearing them talk like that was a stab in the chest. How could they?
"No." Daisy stiffened at the new voice. Coulson.
"We're not here to try to convince her to do something that she doesn't want to do."
There was a pause. "Well- sir, we all know that the world needs Quake."
"She won't be a hero to anyone if we try to force her powers on her." Coulson said firmly. "We don't get an opinion on what happens with her powers."
The silence that followed was awkward to say the least, but eventually someone spoke. May. "She's been through a lot lately." She said softly. "Are you sure she's not just burying part of herself because she's scared?"
He sighed. "Look, she's not going to feel any safer if we try to push her. We just... need to be there for her. When she's ready she'll talk about her powers, but we can't blame her for needing a break from being Quake for a while, after everything that's happened."
There was a sigh. "You're right." Mack rumbled. "I'm just worried about her."
"Talk to her then." Coulson said softly. Daisy smiled a little from her hiding place. They really were just worried about her. As much as their conspiracy hurt, she knew that it came from a place of love. And Coulson had defended her. Defended her choice that she knew he didn't agree with.
At the sound of footsteps, Daisy ducked into another room to avoid being seen. She leaned against the wall and closed her eyes, listening.
"Bit rich of him to be telling us about the importance of letting Daisy choose." Fitz muttered as he walked past.
Daisy had to admit that he had a point. Just as she was about to leave, she heard another pair of footsteps, and Coulson call, "Hey, wait!"
Daisy didn't know who Coulson was calling, but she could guess.
"You're not mad are you? I just- we both know pushing her won't do anything."
Daisy almost didn't hear the sigh. "I know." May murmured. "But I don't want her to fall down that hole again. The first time almost killed her."
"That's what we're here for." Coulson said quietly. "But we can't just push her into feeling okay again." He hesitated. "If I'd tried to push you into going back into the field after... we both know you wouldn't have."
"I know." May said again. "She's just been so quiet lately."
"She just needs some time."
After a moment May's footsteps started to retreat, followed by Coulson's. Daisy sighed. She had been quieter than usual. She just wasn't sure what to say or how to say it. Part of it was her anger at Coulson, but that wasn't just it. She'd been in a bad mood ever since she woke up back in the present. Every sunrise, every dinner, every person she saw was a reminder that she might one day destroy it all. She thought her friends felt like that too. They knew she could destroy the world.
Daisy didn't know how they could just brush that off. Want her around, want her to get her powers back.
She didn't know how they could believe in her that much.
Hard as it was to admit, Daisy missed her powers. She missed feeling them beating beneath her skin, she missed messing around with people using them. She missed how they were the only link she had left to her birth parents. Her legacy.
She didn't want to talk about it though. She was still partly convinced that the others would use it as an opportunity to convince her to remove the inhibitor, and she couldn't do that. Not now.
She just missed feeling like herself. Like an Inhuman.
Lately she'd been feeling more like a human.
There was a voice inside that told her that was good. That her mother tried to kill her and her father was a psychopath. Why should she want any part in their legacy anyway?
She'd barely known them for a couple of months in the end. It shouldn't matter.
But for whatever stupid reason, it still mattered to her. It hurt almost as much as losing them had. Maybe they weren't much of a family, maybe neither of them had been good parents, maybe Daisy deserved better, but they were still her family, and her powers were all she had left of them. Of her.
So looking through the proposal Coulson had given her to consider made her feel utterly overwhelmed and more than a little sick.
She was still staring at it when Coulson walked into the common area, two cups of tea in hand. He placed one in front of Daisy and took the chair opposite the couch. The last thing he wanted to do was crowd her. "What do you think?"
"What do I-" Daisy swallowed. "Do- do you really want me to do it? I mean- just because my mom had her whole- protect Inhumans from the outside world thing doesn't mean I'd be any good at it."
Phil hesitated. "I think you'd do a great job." He said, taking a sip of his tea. "You don't have to do it, you can choose someone else to lead it, but... well, you're a natural leader, and I think there's no one better to help them."
Daisy sighed and looked down. She didn't want to have this talk with Coulson, but it seemed like he was the one who was pushing at the topic. Besides, he was the only one who probably wouldn't use it as an excuse to push her to get her powers back. "I just- I'm not really an Inhuman anymore." She muttered to the floor. "So I'm just not- not the right person for the job."
Daisy shrugged. "I mean, I don't have my powers so only technically."
Phil could see how conflicted she was. He didn't want to push, but he couldn't let her think that. "Being an Inhuman is part of who you are." He said. "It's in your blood. You were an Inhuman before you got your powers, and you're sure as hell an Inhuman now. Nothing can take that away from you."
Daisy sighed softly. "I don't even know what that means though. Being Inhuman always just meant having powers."
"It's more than that and you know it." Coulson said. "It's your community."
Daisy snorted. "Not like there's much of one left right now."
He nodded to the proposal. "Now you can rebuild it. Quake was already a symbol of hope, now let people see Daisy Johnson. Let them see someone who's brave and strong and caring, and an Inhuman. People are still going through terrigenesis out there. They're scared, and they need help."
Daisy looked down at the proposal. "What did you have in mind?"
"That's up to you. All I've done is figured out what kind of funding we have and who we can go to for support. You'll have the whole team if you need them, as well as anyone we can get into contact with on the outside." Phil wove his fingers together. "This won't be something that we're associating with SHIELD. It'll be at least partly funded by us, but you won't answer to anyone. Any work the team does will be voluntary. This way even if we get taken down somehow, this won't go anywhere."
She nodded quietly, mulling it over. Maybe they couldn't ever rebuild Afterlife, but a place to help newly turned Inhumans adjust sounded... good. "Okay." Daisy said. "I'll do it."
Phil smiled. "Thank you." He said. "I'll send the files over to you in a little bit, if you need anything just let me know." He hesitated. "For what it's worth, I think you'll do a great job."
"Thank you." Daisy said quietly. Despite everything, it meant a lot that he believed in her. That he'd be there to help with this. As an offering to gain her forgiveness it wasn't bad.
She was still angry though.
Daisy worked studiously on her plan for an Inhuman sanctuary. Most of her trouble had come from trying to find a convincing way to spin it to any politicians or journalists who would ask about it. After all, a place for super humans to meet and organise was bound to make some people angry.
Diplomacy had never really been her strong suit.
She had drafted several proposals to various entities, from the state department to the UN, explaining the necessity of this kind of place, and asking for their support. She knew that it would be an uphill battle, but she didn't really need their help. Just their approval.
She was grateful that Coulson had agreed to read over her proposals. It was hard enough to write them and feel that creeping dread that she'd done it all wrong. It was good to have him helping.
She knocked on his office door and waited for him to call her in. When there was no reply, Daisy pushed the door open and walked in. He was probably out somewhere, so she could just leave her paperwork on his desk.
Daisy entered cautiously and saw that she was correct. The office was empty.
That was okay. She had just put the papers down on the desk when a thought occurred to her. Maybe she should staple them together. That way there was no way Coulson could lose a page. He was always losing stuff.
Daisy scowled when she looked around and saw no stapler on his desk. "Who doesn't have a stapler on their desk?" She muttered under her breath, beginning to rifle through the drawers.
When Daisy reached the bottom drawer, she stopped. She didn't see a stapler. What she saw was a neat stack of envelopes, the uppermost one addressed to Fitz. She flicked through, dread building as she saw the names. Elena, Jemma, Mack, Melinda, Daisy.
Daisy cursed under her breath. Melinda. Coulson never called May by her first name unless it was serious. What was this?
When she lifted the stack, intent on looking at her letter, she saw what was at the very bottom and suddenly it felt like the floor had given out from under her.
'The Last Will and Testament of Phillip J. Coulson.'
Barely even thinking about it, Daisy ripped her envelope open, praying for this to be some horrible joke or a ruse to get her to make up with Coulson.
This couldn't be happening.
I'm sorry. Just reading that line made her feel sick. I'm sorry for so many things. For all the times I've hurt you. For forcing you to come home. I'm sorry that I'm leaving you, and I'm sorry I didn't tell you right away. I know I'm not in a position to ask you to do anything, but please don't blame yourself. You're everything I could have asked for in a daughter, and I love you so much. I understand if you're still angry with me. I deserve it.
She couldn't breathe. I hope that you don't mind, but I've named you my successor as Director. If you don't want to do it I understand, but I want you to know that you'd be the greatest Director SHIELD has ever seen. No matter what you do, you inspire people. Daisy wanted to stop reading. She couldn't though. I know you have no reason to do what I ask, but please look after May. I never wanted to do this to either of you, and I need her to be okay. She might push you away, but she'll need you more than she can say. I'm sorry I didn't tell you that I was sick. I didn't want you to feel like you had to forgive me for what I did. It was wrong, I know that. I knew that the team would need you after I was gone, and I made the selfish choice. I'm sorry. I'm sorry for putting all of this on you. This is the last thing I wanted. All I can do now is promise that I love you more than you can know, and pray that you'll be happy with the life I've left you with.
The letter slipped from her fingers and fluttered to the ground. Daisy brought a trembling hand to her mouth, trying to comprehend what she had just read. What this meant.
What she should do about it.
Coulson looked up from doing his stretches in the new gym when he heard someone approaching. He smiled. "Daisy! How's the planning going?" When she got closer he saw the look on her face. The tears in her eyes. "Hey, is everything okay?"
Instead of answering, Daisy shoved him in the chest, hard. Phil stumbled back a couple of steps but said nothing. He had a sinking feeling that he knew what this was about.
Daisy continued to gain on him. She knew that without her inhibitor, the floor would be shaking heavily right now. "How could you?!" She exclaimed, "How- how could you do this to us?!"
"Shut up!" She snapped, shoving him again. "You- you can't just give up! You don't get to just decide that you're gonna die and leave the rest of us to pick up the mess, that's not fair!"
Phil caught her wrists before she could hit him again. "There's nothing we can do." He said softly. "I'm sorry."
"You don't get to decide that." Daisy said, her arms shaking. "You can't-" She hesitated. "Why didn't you say anything?"
He loosened his already soft grip on her wrists, looking at her. Daisy. "Because you're still mad at me." Coulson said softly. "And I knew that if I told you you'd feel like you had to forgive me. I know I made the selfish choice when I brought you back. I didn't want to take away your choice to hate me for it too."
Daisy froze, tears swimming in her eyes. Everything that had happened since they got back, everything Coulson had done or asked her to do he had done in a way that gave her a choice. He'd tried so hard not to do the same thing as he'd done in the future. He'd done everything to give her a choice, and still... "Did you want me to keep hating you?" She asked tearfully. "Did- did you think it'd be better for you to die and me still be mad?"
"I did the best I could." Phil said quietly, looking down. "I'm sorry that it wasn't enough." That I wasn't enough. He added in his mind.
Daisy took a shaky breath. "Did- did you mean it?" She whispered. "What you wrote?" She would understand if he said no. Goodbyes didn't have to be honest, they just had to be the end.
"Every word." Coulson murmured. He knew that they had never spoken about just how much Daisy felt like she was his daughter, but he also knew that he wouldn't get many more chances.
Daisy quaked for a moment, then threw herself into his arms, burying her face in Coulson's shoulder, the tears finally breaking free. Coulson quickly returned the hug, one hand gently stroking her hair. "I'm sorry." He whispered.
Daisy hiccupped. "I-I'm not ready." She mumbled, tears soaking his shirt. "I don't want to lose you."
"I'm here." He hushed, holding her more tightly. "I'm here now."
She swallowed the lump in her throat. "I love you too." Daisy murmured. "And... I forgive you."
Phil swallowed the emotion in his throat. "You don't have to do that because my time's running out."
"I know." She said softly. "That's not why. I just- I forgive you." Because he was her dad. Because he respected her choices.
He sighed against her. "Thank you."
Daisy chewed on her lip. "Let me try to save you." She said in a small voice. "Please."
Coulson hesitated. "I'm not the priority right now." He said. "The team is. Saving me could bring worse things."
"We've done the impossible before." Daisy said stubbornly. "Let me try to do it again."
He pulled back a little to look at her face. Her eyes were red from crying, but that steel that was so characteristically Daisy was there too. Her determination. Phil smiled gently and wiped a stray tear from her eye, noting how Daisy leaned into the touch. "Okay." He said softly. "But you have to be careful. We're not trading my life for anyone else's."
Daisy forced a smile and nodded. "Deal." She said stuffily. "You're not going anywhere."
"I hope not." He said softly, but part of him wondered if it really mattered. With the future they had seen and everything that came with it, what was his life worth? What was Daisy's?
What difference did their choices make?