The Sand and The Sea
Thank you @agentcalliope for being an A+ beta
8100 words of unbearable angst with just enough found family love to make it okay
Without speaking, all of them agreed that there was something almost childish about the way the five of them stood huddled together in the hangar that wasn’t their own and realized just how off their gravity had been for the last eighteen months. Their return had been unexpected and they could see the sun, the Earth’s sun, just beginning to rise through the window. Aside from Jemma’s soft “Oh” at the pale light, no one spoke. Across the hangar, May and Coulson were speaking to a kind faced older man in a sharp suit who kept throwing sympathetic looks their way. Saying words the rest couldn’t hear, he handed Coulson an envelope and left. Coulson turned to May and she laughed.
“Space does weird shit to people,” Daisy said.
Jemma raised her eyebrow. “I turned out okay.”
Mack laughed, causing Elena to whine (she only half stood, propped up against his shoulder with her eyes fluttering shut despite her best efforts).
“You’re not sleeping anyway,” Mack told her, before turning his attention back to Jemma. “I think those were different circumstances.”
“Yeah,” Fitz added. “Just slightly.”
Another day, they might have all laughed. But all anyone could think of was their own exhaustion. They returned to silence and watched as May and Coulson began walking towards them. Coulson waved the envelope at them and May jingle a set of car keys in her hand.
“Grab your things.”
“Where are we going?”
Coulson smiled at Daisy. “A government apology,” he said simply, and gestured for his team to collect their bags and follow May to the waiting van.
Jemma looked down, smiling softly as Fitz took her hand.
“Which way are we driving?” he asked.
Coulson took a piece of paper out of the envelope and glanced over it. “South.”
Squeezing her hand, Fitz pulled Jemma towards the van, ushering her into the far back and into the seat against the driver’s side window.
“Are you ready?”
She cocked her head as he sat down in the middle seat, leaning into her as Daisy climbed in to sit on his other side. “To be in a car on Earth?”
Fitz smiled. “That too. But the sun’s rising.”