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Time is a Luxury

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The first emotion that Daniel felt when he woke up in that barn with Daisy passed out next to him was relief. He was so glad that he had insisted on going with her to crack the security feed. If it had been just her, the team wouldn’t have gotten even as far as they did, and now their chances of escape were doubled. He was really pissed at himself that he had allowed Malick to get the drop on them though. The kid must’ve been waiting for the exact second that Daniel was distracted. He was responsible for this situation, and damn if he was going to die in a godforsaken barn or resign Daisy that fate.

Daniel was starting to really worry about her before Daisy finally stirred. He was too far away to check on her, and he could barely discern the movement of her chest that meant she was breathing.

Any hope he had of her busting them out of there with her superpowers was dashed quickly. Not that he was expecting any better. Mini-Malick may have been a psycho, but he was decently smart.

Once Nathaniel was done monologuing and his goons had dragged Daisy out of the room, Sousa had to bite the inside of his cheek to keep from screaming. They didn’t fully sedate her, but she was too out of it to do anything more than whimper. He watched as they cut into her and removed pieces of her flesh. He heard every slice, every one of her cries, until she finally passed out from the pain. He watched the drip of her blood into more than one container. So much blood. How much blood did one person have to spare?

He was going to go crazy. Everything else he had seen seemed in an entirely different league. Having his leg amputated, seeing Peggy impaled on that rebar, watching fellow agents live and die—Sousa would trade any of those moments instead of this one. At least now he knew that he and Carter lived. He knew that some agents didn’t. Watching this—and he seemed unable to look away, always trying to see if she was still breathing—was worse than literally anything else.

When Nathaniel told them to bring Daisy back, Sousa nearly sobbed with relief. When he heard the crashing of glass, he jumped, but he couldn’t see exactly what had happened.

After eternally too long, Daisy was dumped onto the floor of the room he was in. Daniel listened with disgust as Malick told him how they had removed glands as well as taking blood and spinal fluid from Daisy. He didn’t know what glands, and he wasn’t sure he wanted to know. But some of those were really important, right? Not like organ important, but important. Could Simmons fix that?

Daniel tried to keep Daisy awake. If she went to sleep, he really didn’t know if she would wake up. So he situated himself with his thigh under her head and talked to her. He told her the only story that felt right right now, the one about losing his leg and losing Mike Stephens. Now Sousa realized why Mike had kept telling him they were going home. Now that he was here, he knew. It was as much if not more for him then it was for Daisy.

“So, consider my yapping as a way of passing on the favor. We are going home, Agent Johnson. You hear me? We’re going home. But you have got to fight.” As he held her head, Sousa considered the past few days he had spent with the team. How they acted with one another. They were a family, and wherever they all were was home. If Daisy didn’t make it out of here, then he had damn well better not either. There was no point in going to the plane if it didn’t have Daisy on it.

Daniel was confused for a second when Daisy held her closed fist up to him. When he helped her open it, he saw a significant piece of glass buried just beneath the surface, like she had slid it parallel under the skin to conceal it. This wasn’t a needle-sized piece or anything. It was a curved chunk bigger than a pocketknife. It must’ve hurt like hell to put there, and even more to not give it away as she was doing it. Daniel chucked wryly. “Plenty of fight left in you after all.”

Daisy sighed, and Daniel clutched the piece of glass better in his hand. He pulled her up more into his lap, trying to keep her hand elevated. She really didn’t have much blood left to lose. He held her close to him because she was frigid to the touch. He hoped that the closer contact might help in some way. And hell, right now he needed to feel her chest move in real time to know that she was still breathing.

Eventually, Daniel laid her next to the wall beside him. He needed to be free to attack when someone came back.

When a man did come and start letting Daniel’s legs out of his shackles, he held the glass between his fingers like a claw and lunged. All in all, it wasn’t the most dignified escape from captivity he’d ever had, but he was still alive. He freed Daisy from her cuffs and hoisted her up, prosthetic leg nearly buckling under him. Right now, he was really wishing for his cane. Or a functional leg. It wouldn’t do to drop Daisy when she was like this. He was worried any more shocks would kill her.

So talk about a shock, Nathaniel started making things shake. The fool also had the unfortunate luck of bringing the roof down on himself. Sousa considered ending him then and there, but he didn’t want to delay even a moment. Daisy needed Simmons ASAP, and he didn’t know if Nathaniel’s hired guns were loyal enough to try and make their lives difficult on the way out.

The short answer to that question was yes, yes they were. Daniel swore and nearly dropped Daisy when a bullet whizzed past his head. The jolt caused her to start stirring. He set her just inside one of the animal stalls so that he could do his best to defend her position. Before he could actually do anything, Daisy positioned herself to see outside the door and fired off a pulse of her power toward their assailants. It was weaker than normal, meaning that it just knocked them down instead of down and back by several yards.

“Stay back,” Daniel hissed to Daisy. She didn’t say anything as she went limp from the exertion of using her powers even that small bit. Daniel found a gun on one of the tables in the operation area, or whatever the hell you would call a place where a person butchered someone to steal their powers.

Daniel regretted that his only options seemed lethal, but he didn’t have a choice right now. As the henchmen got up and pointed their weapons, Daniel took them out. Maybe if Nathaniel ever woke up, he would be able to save them. Daniel really didn’t care at that exact moment. All he cared about was getting Daisy out.

He picked her up again and made his way over to a vehicle. He didn’t know where they were or where the Zephyr was, but that was a problem for not right this very moment. Daniel loaded Daisy into the passenger seat of the car and hopped behind the wheel. He probably should’ve put her in the back, but he needed reassurance that she was alright, that she was breathing at least.

Daniel finally found his way to River’s End, where this mission had gone awry for them. All of their stuff was right where they left it. Malick hadn’t cared enough to grab Daisy’s laptop or phone. Daniel grabbed her bag and shoved the tech in there. He saw the radio where Daisy had dropped it and he dove down to grab it.

“Z1, come in. This is Agent Sousa, over.”

He released the button and heard someone’s sigh of relief on the other end. “Oh thank god.” It was Jemma’s voice that came through. “Agent Sousa, is Daisy with you? Is she alright?”

“She’s-” his voice broke, “she’s in really bad shape, Doc. I’ll explain when I get there. Prep that healing tube thing and maybe a blood transfusion if you can.” As he spoke, Daniel hoisted Daisy’s bag over his shoulder and grabbed his cane before running to the car that he and Daisy had brought originally on the mission. Malick hadn’t bothered moving their car, and the keys were still in Daisy’s bag.

He threw the bag and cane into the back and went to the stolen car to retrieve Daisy. As he carried her, he spoke into the radio again. “It took us 20 minutes to get here, so it shouldn’t take us more than 10 or 15 to get back. I’ll drive fast.”

“Please be careful, Agent Sousa.” Daniel could hear the worried edge to her voice. He wondered how often this kind of thing happened to Daisy, and if he would be able to survive another instance like this. Every time her breathing faltered, it felt like his heart stopped.

“Will do, Agent Simmons. Over and out.” Daniel threw the radio onto the seat next to him, being sure not to hit Daisy with it. Now if he could just remember how to get back to the Zephyr. Daisy had driven here, and he was too busy taking in the sights to notice when they were turning. It was stupid of him. But Daisy seemed so indestructible. Hell, the fact that she survived at all … he needed to stop thinking about that. She hadn’t just survived, she was going to keep surviving.

Daniel was driving too fast to get distracted, but when Daisy started whimpering in her sleep (could he really even call it sleep?) he reached out a hand to hold one of hers. She pulled it closer to her and quieted, and Daniel gently rubbed his thumb against the back of her hand. Maybe this was too familiar. Maybe she would hate holding his hand if she was awake. Maybe he should pull back. But his heart ached at the thought of pulling away right now. He focused on the road but left his hand where it was.

It was only another couple of minutes before they reached the rendezvous location for the Zephyr. Sousa parked the car at the bottom of the ramp and jumped out, moving as fast as he could to the other side. He reached in the back to grab his cane and Daisy’s bag, positioning those and securing the radio before he lifted her into his arms again. Making it up the incline of the ramp was difficult without the use of his cane, but he was determined to keep Daisy safe, and that meant not dropping her on this metal floor. He took her straight to the room with the healing chamber, rightfully assuming that Simmons would be there.

“Lay her down with her head facing this way,” Simmons ordered.

Daniel did as he was told. “What else do you need?”

“Nothing.” Simmons typed something into the tablet that controlled the machine and closed the lid. Lights started flashing at intervals within the chamber. “The machine will do its job.”

“She’ll pull through?” Sousa asked.

Simmons face was perfectly unreadable. “She should. The fact that she got here means she should be fine. Given time.”

“Weirdly enough, that doesn’t seem to be a commodity that we have here on the space- and time-ship from the future.” Daniel sighed and raked his hands through his hair, pulling on the ends. All at once, the energy left his body. He had been drugged, seen and heard a team member, a friend, being tortured, and had killed two men. Finally, the adrenaline that had been allowing him to keep going ran out and he slumped onto a stool by the door.

Daniel and Jemma stood in silence for a few minutes, simply watching Daisy in the healing chamber. The only sound was the whirring that the chamber made in sync with the light flashes. The only movement was the shallow rise and fall of Daisy’s torso while she breathed.

Finally, Deke came to the door. “We’re about to jump,” he said, glancing at Daisy before leaving.

Jemma looked at Daniel. “Last chance, if you …”

A few hours ago, Daniel was convinced he would hop off this crazy plane and figure out life in the 1970’s, more than 20 years after his supposed demise. Right now, he couldn’t imagine leaving. He shook his head, looking from Daisy to Jemma. “I’m where I need to be.” He went back to looking at Daisy as Jemma left the room.

As Daniel stood there, he wished for a lot of things. He wished that Daisy would wake up, obviously, and that she would be alright. But if that couldn’t happen yet, he longed for her hand to hold. He couldn’t imagine waking up in a clear tube in the middle of a room, like freaking Snow White and her glass coffin.

When Daniel rubbed a hand over his face, he realized that it was still covered in Daisy’s blood from the shard of glass. He had seen blood so many more times than he could count, but the sight of her blood on his hands gave him the willies.

He went to the sink in the corner of the room and scrubbed until his hands were raw but clean. Then he glanced down at his shirt and sighed. Aside from the dirt and straw, there was a stain in the middle of his abdomen from where he had held her as he carried her. Upon further inspection, there were stains along his right side from her bloody hand. One of them was nearly a perfect handprint. Sousa felt bile rise in his throat. He tore his suspenders from his shoulders and stripped his shirt off. His undershirt was bloody too, and Daniel felt he would never be free of it.

He took one last look at Daisy before he went to his bunk and grabbed clean clothes and his towel. He got a long, hot shower, glad when the water finally stopped running that rusty red of blood and dirt. When he finished his shower and got dressed in fresh clothes, Daniel threw the bloodstained ones in the trash. He hated to be wasteful, especially since he could probably gotten the bloodstains out eventually, but he would never be able to look at those clothes the same way again. Once Daisy was better and once they were settled into whatever time they were in now, he would ask her to go shopping with him. Given her comment about unfashionable squares, he was sure that she would love to turn him into a veritable dress-up doll for an hour. He wouldn’t even complain about the clothing picks, no matter how atrocious they seemed to him.

But as he went to leave the bathroom, the telltale shuddering of the Zephyr told Daniel that they had time-jumped again. Based on the flurry of activity in the command center, it damn sure wasn’t intentional. “Here we go again,” Daniel said with a sigh.