FOR SSR AND SHIELD EYES ONLY
Date: December 5, 1953
RE.: Transfer of Groom Lake, Nevada Facilities to Strategic Homeland Interven
The rest of the document is obscured by a manila folder, its corners worn and its content spilling out from its sides. The rest of the coffee table is, likewise, covered by many more similar files and stacks upon stacks of papers. From a corner of the room, the radio sings out the last bars of a saxophone solo. As the music fades out, a jingle rudely breaks through.
‘The time now is, nine o’clock. Time check is brought to you by General-’
Daisy looks up.
‘It’s nine already?’ Setting down the dossier, she stretches, and groans as she catches sight of the mountain before her. The files arrived at the office in the afternoon; it was clear, even then, that there was no way to get through it all before the end of their day. And now—after hours of effort, they seem to have barely made a dent in it. ‘The founding is in a month; why are they only sending these now?’
Beside her, Daniel huffs out what sounds like a laugh, lowering the papers in his hold. He has already lost his tie, having pulled it off and undone the top button of his shirt in frustration an hour into this. He pinches the bridge of his nose, forcing his eyes to adjust after the long strain.
‘Everyone loves scrambling at the last minute,’ he mumbles. ‘I didn’t mean to keep you this long.’
Daisy shakes her head, and returns a tired smile.
‘Nonsense. This-’ She gestures at the mess in front of them. ‘-affects me just as much. Unless you don’t see me as part of your team?’
‘Never, but it is getting late.’ He casually tosses what he has been reading on top of the daunting mess and turns to face his girlfriend. Daisy truly is a sight for the sore eye, he muses. Whenever work becomes overwhelming, all it takes is one look at her for the stress to melt away. He mirrors her soft smile. ‘I don’t want Coulson and May to worry about you…would they?’
Daisy thinks back to her call with her guardians earlier, when she told them that she would be late. May was surprisingly nonchalant, but Coulson…he had a lot of questions and reminders to offer.
‘Coulson would. He’s probably pacing around and driving May up a wall. May is…’ She frowns in mock seriousness, ‘…plotting where to bury your body as we speak.’
‘Don’t joke about that.’ Comes the quick reply. Daniel’s eyes are wide; and she laughs. She knows they are both thinking the same thing—when Daisy took him to see her parents for the first time on a bright Saturday morning last month, it had been a…formidable experience, to say the least. Coulson, being on the SHIELD transition team himself, was more than eager to trade the latest developments with Daniel. May, on the other hand, had done nothing but send him death glares the entire duration.
‘May wouldn’t; she likes you, really.’ Daisy sits up. ‘But it is getting quite late; I suppose I really can’t stay.’ She brushes the wrinkles out of her dress, making sure her actions are far more exaggerated than strictly necessary.
Their eyes meet; there is a glint in Daisy’s eyes that Daniel has seen far too many times. She folds her hands demurely in her lap, and looks at him expectantly with an overly sweet smile on her lips.
Oh, it is on.
‘You are right. I would hate to keep you any longer, but look,’ He tilts his head towards the window; outside, the moon hangs high in the clear sky. ‘It’s cold outside, dear. Look out the window at that storm'
The grin on her face only grows; she turns to look out of the window, and her eyebrows shoot up.
‘Oh,’ she blinks, ‘I haven’t noticed!’
‘Yea, it’s real bad out there.’ He nods along to his own words.
‘And what do you suggest I do?’
‘I’m afraid you must stay; it’s cold outside.’
Daisy laughs again; and Daniel recognizes it at once. It is the same put-upon, amiable laugh that she deploys on missions. He watches, amused, as she gets up and turns toward him.
‘This evening’s been grand, but I’ve got to get home.’
‘Maybe just stay for a drink more?’
The gasp that comes out of her would put a pantomime dame to shame.
‘Oh, I ought to say no, Chief Sousa.’
‘Well,’ he gets up, and moves towards her in a way that Daisy can only describe as a saunter. He has his hands deep in his pocket, cocking his head to one side. ‘Listen to the fireplace roar; I can’t in good conscience let you brave the cold.’
‘Is that so?’
‘Mm-hmm.’ He reaches for her hands, the motion practiced and familiar. The warm, soft press of her palm against his is a comforting weight. He brings one hand to his lips, pressing a small kiss against her knuckles. ‘Your hands are just like ice; you’d freeze out there.’
Daisy’s heart soars, thrills running through her as his lips brush against her fingers. Between the holiday season and the imminent agency transfer, it had been weeks since they had taken a proper break. Right now, however, she is seeing that star-like spark in Daniel’s kind, brown eyes again. She squeezes his hands back, and leans in…
…only to turn away at the last second, withdrawing her hands. She sidles up to the coat tree by the door, stroking the garments hung on it.
‘Say, lend me your coat?’ She asks innocently.
It is crystal clear to him that the lack of time together in the past couple of weeks has affected her just as much, judging by the way she smooths a hand down the fabric, slowly, sensually, her gaze heated as she looks up at him.
What wouldn’t he give to take the place of his coat right now?
Daniel does not answer at once. He slowly walks over to her, their gaze locked, until he reaches her and casually wraps his arms around her waist.
‘It’s up to your knees out there. What good can a coat do?’
Daisy inhales sharply, resisting the urge to lean into his hold. That closeness, that proximity…it really has been too long. Before she can stop herself, she finds her eyes traveling down, down to his lips, to that tantalizing open collar…it would be so easy to close that gap between them. It is mere inches.
She heaves a loud sigh, letting her shoulders slump dramatically.
‘Maybe just half a drink more.’
Before Daisy could say anything more, Daniel tugs her even closer, wrapping himself around her, the warmth seeping through layers of clothing, melding into one. He holds her tight and lingers there for a moment, but nothing more, as if just savoring her presence.
‘How lucky that you dropped in.’ He whispers in her ear as he pulls back, his voice dropping low.
Daisy’s breathing quickens. The way his eyes darken while looking at her, adoration overflowing like she hung the moon. Slowly, like honey, warmth spreads through her. She takes a deep breath.
‘On second thought,’ she says abruptly, ‘I simply must go.’ She plucks his hat from its hook, a picture-perfect grin returning to her face as she daintily places it on her head.
‘Hey, no, I’ll take that.’ Daniel is quick to take the hat and put it back where it came from. ‘Your hair looks swell.’
He reaches out to tuck away a loose strand, only Daisy is a step ahead. She swiftly ducks out of his hold with a twirl, landing gracefully in the armchair. She looks up at him, waiting.
Daniel has to take a deep breath—play it cool, he tells himself, willing his racing heartbeat to slow down before he turns to her. He cannot help it; at the sight of her, he sighs, grinning despite himself.
‘Flattery will get you nowhere,’ she says. ‘The neighbors might think.’
Daniel closes the distance between them with two steps, leaning against the armrest. He raises a hand to caress her cheek, and this time, she does not shy away. She leans into his touch, her expression relaxing at the sensation.
‘How can you do this thing to me?’ He teases under his breath.
Daisy’s smile grows.
‘The gossip at the office tomorrow will be rife.’
Her action, however, belies her objections. She takes his free hand to pull him into the seat with her, sandwiched between her and the armrest.
‘It can’t be that bad?’
‘At least there will be plenty implied. I heard Mack and Elena have a betting pool going.’ Daisy continues, interlacing their fingers. ‘And while they have the decency to be subtle about it, you know Samberly is more than willing to make sure everyone knows.’
At the mention of the awful scientist, Daniel drops his head on her shoulder and groans.
‘Ugh, don’t remind me of him.’
Daisy cannot hold herself back and laughs. Her square is usually so good at keeping his emotions in check; to tease this kind of frustration out of him…she reaches up to lightly run her hand through his hair, marveling at the softness at her fingertips. Her heart swells.
‘Hmm, then we shouldn’t give him more to talk about.’
Daniel recovers quickly. He straightens up, leaving a quick kiss on her neck on his way before meeting her eyes once more.
‘But perhaps if I move in closer?’ He murmurs, shifting and pressing into her side.
Unfair, she immediately thinks. He knows what kind of effect he has on her when he speaks to her this way. Daisy barely suppresses a shiver, and has just enough sense to stop him in his track with a hand on his chest, trying not to focus on the way she can feel his heartbeat over the soft wool of the sweater, or the warmth seeping through the layers of fabric.
‘Well,’ her voice is hoarse when she replies in a low whisper, surprising even herself. ‘At least I’m gonna say that I tried.’
‘You could’ve caught pneumonia and died. What would happen to me then?’
Giggles slip from both of them at the morbid humor. She lets her hand travel up to play with the open collar, taking a deep breath as the gears turn in her head. ‘Well-’
Daniel cannot focus anymore. With her fingertips tickling the side of his neck, his eyes travel down to stare at her lips, rouged and glistening with temptation in the low light of the room. Gosh, her lips look delicious, his mind supplies. He stares down at her, frowning, torn over what he wants to do. At that moment, she looks at up at him, her pupils wide.
Before he can think twice, he ducks down, and captures her lips with his own. His free hand comes to rest on the side of her torso, stroking over her ribcage. Daisy gasps, allowing his tongue to slip into her mouth. His grip tightens, drawing her flush against himself. He can taste the coffee they had been having, and something more, something deeper, something special.
Finally, he breaks off, panting almost imperceptibly.
‘Gosh your lips are delicious.’ He whispers, like an afterthought to himself.
She catches that.
Heat simmers in her stomach, as though she has just had a glass of wine. Her eyes roam over Daniel’s features, taking in his dazed expression, unspoken desires shining in his gaze. An affectionate smile plays at his lips, and unthinkingly she echoes it. Daisy notices, at the back of her mind, that his hand has not moved at all, dangerously close to breaching the last shreds of propriety.
Her heart is racing.
‘I guess… I can’t be blamed if it’s a snow night, can I?’ She muses breathlessly.
‘You can’t. It’s cold outside.’
‘Yea.’ She swallows. ‘It is.’
For a moment, time freezes. All they can do is look into each other’s eyes, gauging, wanting. The air between them crackles with tension, and then—
Their lips meet in the middle. Her hand creeps up the back of his neck, as a sigh escapes her inaudibly. They move in unison, until Daisy lands fully in his lap, a desperate whimper slipping from Daniel. Even through the layers of garments, heat and heartbeat are colliding, melting into one.
A festive tune has picked up on the radio, but neither pay it any attention. Outside, the streetlight stood, a stoic sentinel in the clear night in the City of Angels.