The Zeffer settled after the jump and everyone looked around, as they always did, as though something would indicate the year.
“Geographically,” Jemma said, looking at the monitor. “We are in New York, in Manhattan.”
“I’ll go check it out,” Daisy said. “We’re probably getting closer to our time.”
“Mind if I join you?” Daniel asked. “I’d like to get a little acclimated before we get to your time.”
“Sure,” Daisy said, ignoring the knowing look from Jemma. “It’ll be good to have another pair of eyes.”
The Zeffer was landed on top of an office building – cloaked of course – when they stepped out.
“Skyline look different?” Daisy asked, walking over to the door.
She quaked open the padlock and they started down the stairs.
Stepping out into the street below, Daisy looked around and then breathed out a slow breath. Oh.
“Do you know when exactly we are?” Daniel asked.
She nodded. “Late 90s. And if the Chronicoms are here, then I’m pretty sure I know who they’re after. Come on.”
In a few minutes, they stood in front of a plain building on a street corner.
“St. Agnes Orphanage,” Daniel read. “They’re going after a kid?”
“In the future, she’ll be… kinda important to SHIELD.” Daisy smiled a little.
Daniel looked at her curiously. “Who exactly –?”
But Daisy was already stepping forward and knocking on the door.
A kindly middle-aged nun that Daisy recognized as Sister Harriet opened the door. “Please, come in,” she said. She led them through the entry hall. “How can I help you today?”
“My husband and I –” Daisy quickly looped her arm through Daniel’s. “– were looking into adoption and were hoping to get some more information the topic.”
Sister Harriet smiled. “Wonderful.” She opened a door to an office. “Please sit down. Mother Superior will be with you in a moment.”
Daisy glanced around the entrance hall before stepping into the office with Daniel, memories flooding back. She had not been back here since she left at age eighteen. They sat down on the hard, wooden chairs and were quiet for a minute.
“So, who exactly are we making sure survives here?” Daniel asked.
Daisy hesitated. “Mary Sure Poots. She grew up here, and as an adult was… and asset to SHIELD.” It would probably be best if she told Daniel the full truth, but she had not known him long. It was a bit early for the whole tragic backstory.
The door opened and Mother Superior entered. Automatically, Daisy rose to her feet, Daniel following her lead. She was a strict woman, with a kind heart. In retrospect, Daisy supposed she was a bit like May, which was a whole can of beans she didn’t have time to unpack right now.
“Please, sit down,” Mother Superior said after she had sat down. “And tell me what I can help you with.”
So Daniel and Daisy Watson introduced themselves, and heard all about the adoption process. Daisy glanced at the calendar in the corner. October 1997. She tried to remember if she had been at the orphanage at that time, or if she had been with a foster family.
“I’m sorry,” she said. “May I use your bathroom?”
“Of course,” Mother Superior said. “It’s the first door on your right.”
“I’ll be right back, honey.” Daisy looked at Daniel pointedly and he nodded.
Out in the hallway, Daisy quickly crept up the stairs, avoiding all the creaky steps. It was quiet upstairs, since everyone was at school or in the playroom and she slipped unseen into her old room.
Four sets of bunkbeds stood in a row and Daisy hurried to the far one. Stuck to the wall were pictures of horses, cut out from magazines. She smiled. In 1997, aged nine, she had been at the height of her horse phase. The three horse figurines were missing from the bedside table and her drawers were empty.
Mary Sue Poots was at a foster family, and she was pretty sure she knew which one. Satisfied, Daisy slipped back downstairs and into the office.
“… Dumas’ main point is that revenge is not satisfying,” Daniel was saying. “I don’t think it romanticizes revenge at all.”
“While I do agree that, in the end, Dantes realizes that avenging the wrongs don’t to him will not make him happy,” Mother Superior said. “The majority of the novel does revel a bit in his schemes.”
“I seem to be interrupting a lively literature discussion,” Daisy said as she sat down, smiling.
“What are your thoughts on revenge in The Count of Monte Cristo, Mrs. Watson?” Mother Superior asked.
“I’m afraid English was never my best subject, Mother Superior,” Daisy said with a smile.
“Shall we get going them?” Daniel asked.
Daisy nodded. “Thank you so much for all your help,” she said to Mother Superior.
“I’m always glad to,” she said, then looked at her curiously. “Have we met before?”
“I don’t think so,” Daisy said quickly, standing up.
Outside on the street, Daniel looked at her expectantly. “So?”
“She’s at school,” Daisy said, leading them down the street. “And I guess we’ll just have to tail her until the Chronicoms show up.”
Daniel watched Daisy as they walked down the street. Although they had only just met, he was pretty sure she was not telling him something. Or perhaps that was exactly why she was not telling him
“So, this isn’t your time either,” he said.
“So what is your time then?” he asked. “What year?”
“Yeah, don’t worry, Y2K didn’t mess up the computers like everyone thought.”
“It was this conspiracy theory that – Nevermind.” They stopped in front of an elementary school. “Here we are.”
“How do you know where the Mary Sue Poots went to school as a child?” Daniel looked at her.
Daisy thought about constructing a very elaborate lie where she was kind of a big fan of Mary Sue Poots and so knew everything about her. But, looking at Daniel’s face, it didn’t look like he would believe her.
It was not like she was ashamed of her history, she had just hoped that she would have a bit of a normal impression on Daniel. Why exactly? – There was definitely no time to get into that right now.
What the hell.
“Okay, cards on the table,” she said. “Mary Sue Poots is me, or… was me.”
“Oh.” He didn’t seem to have expected that.
“I grew up in the foster system after… a tone of messed up stuff. SHIELD gave me a fake name because of the aforementioned messed up stuff.”
“So, yeah, in October 1997, I was with the Brodys.” She looked over at the chaotic playground, searching the groups of kids until she saw a small girl in a blue shirt with a horse on it and red streaks in her hair.
Daniel followed her gaze. “So, which one’s you?”
Daisy cringed a little. “You see the one with the ill-advised red streaks by the swings?”
“The one who looks like she wants to punch the blond boy?”
“Jeremy,” Daisy remembered. “Ugh, he was terrible.”
Daniel chuckled. “I can see the resemblance.”
Daisy smiled. “Well, we can’t just lurk around here like creeps, so we’d better find a spot to –”
“There?” Daniel asked, pointing at a café down the street.
“Yeah, perfect. We’ll be able to see anyone who goes to the school.”
He looked at her. “I do know how to plan a stake-out, you know.”
“Are you telling me you guys had binoculars back in the dark ages?” Daisy asked sarcastically as they walked down the street.
“We even had cameras.”
“Holy shit, high-tech.”
Sitting at a terrace table, Daniel turned to Daisy before the waitress came to them. “Coffee is still a thing, right?”
“Yeah, but we called a caffeine energizer, and cream is cow juice,” Daisy deadpanned.
Daniel looked at her quizzically.
“The nineties were a weird time,” Daisy shrugged.
Needless to say, the waitress gave them an odd look, but understood their order. Daisy struggled to smother her smile as she walked away.
Daniel raised his eyebrows. “In my defence, I only thought you were serious because the 70s were very odd.”
Daisy snorted. “I wouldn’t be surprised if that was a thing in the 70s.” She looked down at her clothes. “Oof, I must look super out of place.”
Daniel shrugged. “I think you look nice.”
Daisy smiled to herself. “Thanks. I did quite like the 70s fashion.”
An hour or so later, school was let out and they quickly paid for the coffee before ambling down the street, far behind the little girl with red streaks in her hair. Soon they saw another figure take interest in her as well.
“Nine o’clock,” Daisy murmured.
“Navy suit, yeah, I see him.” Daniel looked behind them casually. “Another on our six.”
“I don’t think they’ve recognized us yet,” Daisy said.
They stopped at a light and the Chronicom in the navy suit began to cross toward them. “They wouldn’t just kill her in broad daylight, would they?” Daniel whispered.
“Crime in New York in the 90s was high,” Daisy whispered back, watching the Chronicom out of the corner of her eye. “They might use that to their advantage.”
The light changed and Daisy stumbled to the side, knocking into one of the Chronicoms. “Oh, my gosh, I am so sorry.” She leaned against him harder, glancing to see that Mary Sue had started across the street, oblivious to everything behind her. “These damn heels.” She tried not to look directly at him, but he had recognized her.
“You!” the Chronicom said.
The other Chronicom had caught up with them and Daniel looked like he was getting ready for a fight.
“I’ve got this,” Daisy said, shoving the Chronicom in to traffic as hard as she could, quaking at his feet to make him loose his balance in the path of a large truck. “Make sure she gets home safe.”
He hesitated for only a moment before turning to cross the street.
Another Chronicom had approached for the night as the other Chronicom attacked Daisy. She blocked his first punch, but he still got her hard in the jaw. He reached for his gun, but she quaked it to pieces.
They were out in the middle of the sidewalk and someone was going to report the fight soon – the last thing Daisy needed was to get arrested. But she couldn’t risk a glance back to see if Daniel was out of sight yet.
The other Chronicom had joined the fight and Daisy was having a hard time fighting them both off. Making a split-second division, sprinted off in a different direction, hoping she could lead them away. Fortunately, the began to follow her. Daisy grinned, sprinting down the street, remembering her time at St. Agnes – she knew this part of the city like the back of her hand. She ducked into alleys and through parking garages and abandoned buildings.
Not that she had been chased often as a child – but children could be cruel, especially to foster kids. She saw a car wash coming up on her left, the door starting to close on a car. She had managed to time this right once before – she could do it again.
She just managed to slide under the door as it closed, shutting the Chronicoms out. Immediately, she was drenched in water and she quickly scrambled to the side, feeling the wall for the door that she knew was there. She had worked at this car wash and gas station as a teenager. She just hoped Daniel and Mary Sue had gotten back to the Brodys alright.
Daisy was still soaking wet when she found Daniel in the shrubs outside the Brody’s house. She crouched in the bushes beside him. “Everything go alright?”
He nodded. “Nothing suspicious – What happened to you?”
“Tight escape – led them on a fun little chase.”
Daniel smiled and they both looked toward the house. From their vantage point, they could see into the living room where Mrs. Brody was decorating cookies with Mary Sue; it was a messy and sugary affair.
“Halloween cookies,” Daisy said. “The Brodys loved Halloween.”
“They seem like a nice family,” Daniel said, looking over at her with a gentle look on his face.
Daisy smiled softly. “They were.”
Suddenly, the radio buzzed. “Daisy?” Jemma said. “We’re going to jump in half an hour. You two need to get back here.”
“On our way,” Daisy said.
“Did everything go alright? Why were they where?”
“They were going after a nine-year-old me, but we saved her – or me, whatever.”
A pause. “Are you alright, Daisy?”
“Yeah. We’ll be right there.”
As they walked back, Danial was quiet, until he finally asked. “You didn’t end up staying with the Brodys, did you?”
Daisy shook her head. “They sent me back – probably like a week from now – saying I wasn’t a good fit.”
He looked at her sadly. It wasn’t a pitying sadness thought, thank God – Daisy didn’t think she could handle a pitying look.
“But it’s alright,” she said. “SHIELD had arranged for me to be moved around often to keep me safe. And when I left St. Agnes, I went by Skye, became a hacker – which is how I got on SHIELD’s radar.” She shrugged. “And that’s where I found my family.”
Daniel nodded and didn’t say anything more. And though Daisy thought she would feel more vulnerable telling Daniel her whole background, she actually felt alright about it. She stole a glanced at him and wondered if there was more to Jemma’s knowing looks than she had admitted to herself.
Maybe when this was all over, she could figure all that out.
It was too bad they couldn’t stay longer in the 90s – she would have loved to see him in a classic 90s windbreaker or some cargo pants.
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