I haven’t posted anything on 8tracks in ages and all I’ve done this week is drink beer, write words, and wallow in classic rock, and I feel like I should have something to offer for all that besides five extra pounds and a dissertation so do you guys want my dissertation power-through playlist?
They all knew by now to stay out of his way when he came back from his missions in the outside world. Either he was riveted, excited, unstoppably determined to make the next discovery, or he was all seething rage, disappointment and frustration, emanating a silent force of warning.
Today was one of the latter.
Fortunately, he’d also grown better at handling his own emotions, and was no longer so destructive about it. It helped that the path to his room was now clear, free of temptations, but all the same it was an effort to keep himself relatively gathered until he reached the sanctuary of his room before letting his emotions overwhelm him. When the rage and frustration won over, he’d lash out. He’d broken a few of his possessions this way, and thrown around a good few more that had fortunately endured their battering with grace. It was when the disappointment and heartbreak won, though, that he truly feared. He found it drained away the fuel from the rage, until it seemed the future he was looking at was a deep, dark pit. It was a world of grey, devoid of colour and light. It was a world of his failure, and her absence. It was a world he was becoming increasingly familiar with, these last few weeks.
Fitz slammed his door shut, already feeling the draining begin and trying to reverse the process. He picked up a large, ageing manuscript from his bedside table and clenched his fists so hard his knuckles whitened against its cover – yet, already, he had lost the direction in which he’d been intending to throw it. He’d lost the motivation, entirely, to choose a new trajectory. He could see the void, opening up before him already. He dropped onto the bed, hunched over the book and clutching it to his chest as some kind of reminder, some final lifeline to the flicker of hope that still must burn, surely, for her existence.
Sitting there, alone, he cried.
He finally cried the tears that had been building up with every hope and hopelessness he’d taken with surprising resilience and calm outside these doors. He cried some forceful, sobbing tears, yelping and whimpering with pain, but mostly they were silent, and hopeless. As they settled on his face, they were cold, sharp and metallic. He didn’t wipe them away. Why bother? There was no-one here to see them, to judge them, not yet. Instead, he sat on his bed, practicing breathing to loosen his deathly grip on the precious lifeline of a book in his arms, and to steady himself in the wide, hopeless, Jemma-less, idea-less void in which he now hung.
A soft knock on the door alerted him to someone’s presence. With a deep breath, he beckoned them in, and Daisy entered gently, as unobtrusively as possible, and shut the door behind her. He could see the shadows of tears in her eyes, and her own worry and stress in the way she clawed at the arms of her jacket.
“Do you want to talk about it?” she asked.
Fitz shook his head. Maybe he was hoping this whole trip would disappear from his memory, maybe he was ashamed, maybe he just didn’t know where to begin, but either way, he’d be glad to put it behind him.
“Do you want a hug?” Daisy offered.
Fitz nodded, and shuffled to make room for Daisy. She smiled gently as she settled into the space he’d left, and hugged him tightly, holding herself too him like she was a sponge that could soak up all his misery and heartbreak. She held onto him until her arms started aching, and longer when he hugged her back, and bent so that his head could almost rest on her shoulder.
“Are you okay?” she wondered, seeing the tears on his cheeks. His lips quivered, afraid of voicing his fears aloud.
“What if…” he croaked, “what if she’s really gone?”
Daisy took a deep breath, unsure how to answer. She was still well within a grieving process of her own, as she’d begun to accept the likelihood that Simmons wasn’t coming back well before Fitz’ increasingly frequent series of breakdowns. She couldn’t offer him hope that Simmons was still alive, let alone coming back, but she couldn’t say nothing. He was practically shaking in her arms with fear and grief, and Daisy could hardly dare to imagine the sheer agony that he must be facing, to lose someone he’d loved as much, and for as long, as he had Simmons.
“If she is…really gone…” Daisy assured him, though the thought was still hard to face even after all the time she’d had to adjust to the idea. “If she is really gone, then you’re still here. That still matters, okay?”
Fitz nodded, drawing a ragged breath.
“I know that.”
“It’s okay that you’re upset,” she continued. “You know that too, right?”
Fitz nodded again, more tears slipping down his cheeks as he took her care and validation to heart. Seeing he was clearly overwhelmed, Daisy stopped trying to engage. She drew her hand in a soothing motion up and down his arm until she felt his breathing settle and even out.
“Thanks,” Fitz mumbled eventually, sitting up and finally wiping his cheeks.
“Any time,” Daisy assured him, smiling softly as she checked that he really was okay. “Hey, have you eaten today?”
“Not since the airport, but-“
“Alright. That’s the next stop then. Wanna come to the kitchen with me or have a night in?”
Fitz looked around his bedroom, littered with books and papers from his relentless search. He sighed and gestured to the doorway, and then followed Daisy out into the kitchen. Already, she was babbling contentedly about a new technique she was learning and how much of a hard-ass May was being. She probably knew he wasn’t paying attention. Fitz promised himself to ask her to recount some of her stories when his mind was on the ball, but for now he was content to follow her to the kitchen and help her keep him in the land of the living after his hardest blow in this quest so far.
Tomorrow, he promised himself, and tried to relax. Tomorrow. At least for now, there was the spring in Daisy’s step and the shine of her eye, even after all she’d been through, to remind him.