Three years later…

Daisy isn't sure what she expects when she pulls into the lot of the Chicagoland Park where they're having the buddy walk, but it's definitely not Grant Ward wearing a neon pink T-fshirt with "Abby's Advocate's" written on the front and "Abby's Daddy" emblazoned across the shoulders on the back.

"Pink?" she teases, getting out of her car.

"Shut up," Grant says, but with no rancor. "Jem asked Abs what color she wanted her team shirts and here we are."

He turns back to the sedan to continue helping the heavily-pregnant Jemma unload the vehicle.

"Darling, will you let me put sunblock on you, so I can get the girls to let me put on them?" Jemma says, going to take Frannie out of her car seat only to be intercepted by her husband.

"No heavy lifting, you know the rules."

"Oh, honestly, Grant," Jemma rolls her eyes fondly. "Hello Daisy." She turns back to Grant. "Sunblock?"

"Sure, why not? Why do we need the stroller? It's only a mile walk." Grant mutters.

Daisy opens up the car to free Abby from her car seat. When the little girl sees her, she squeals "Day-ee!

"Abby!" Daisy says with equal excitement, hugging Abby tightly a second before sitting on her light-up sneakered feet.

"Where my Fit-Fit?"

"Fitz is on his way, Bug." Daisy says laughing. She kisses Abby's pigtailed head and watches as she takes off at dead run to Jemma's side of the car, piggy tails and oversized bows flying.

"Eleanor Abigail!" Grant chides sharply as he lugs the double stroller out. "We don't run in parking lots!"

Abby turns to him, shooting him a baleful look. She points to the bouncy castle.

"We will take you, but you still need to wait," Grant says firmly.

"Come puts sunblock on first and wait for Fitz and everybody else, okay?" Jemma pleads as Ward hitches Francesca up as Jemma digs the lotion out of the diaper bag.

Frannie, as Ward calls her. looks nothing like him. She had inherited her paternal grandmother's red hair but otherwise looks exactly like a miniature Jemma. Daisy watches as Jemma slathers each of them with sunscreen while both parents interact with the girls, listening intently even as Abby slips from sign language to English and back again, or nodding to Frannie's gibberish.

They're good parents. It makes Daisy glad she fought to let Ward stay free.

Everyone starts trickling in, much to the girls' delight. Fitz arrives first and is enveloped into what could be considered tackle hugs.

"I just don't get the appeal." Ward says with a joking sigh.

"Well, love, they are Simmons women as well as Wards." Jemma teases back.

"You are not funny."

"I think I am quite hilarious." She kisses his cheek and steps forward to hug Fitz.

"You're not jealous anymore," Daisy comments, surprised, stepping up beside him.

He shrugs. "I am, a little. Hard not to be jealous of that connection because I'll never be able to give her that. She chose me though, so I'll endure her connection with Fitz happily."

Next Bobbi and Lance arrive. The chill between Bobbi and Jemma has thawed but never fully recovered to the point either of them would like. Daisy hopes doing this together will be another brick in the bridge they're trying to build.

Then Tony and Pepper arrive, as Jemma had taken the job with Stark Industries after all, and Daisy suspects the soft-hearted Iron Man would have likely come out anyway. Rumor has it that Abby's walk team has blown away all other teams in the way of monetary donations, mostly because Stark likes Abby as much as he likes to win.

Coulson arrives alone, as May is away on a mission, but she's sent Coulson with a truly fantastic array of blue and yellow balloons for the girls. The whole team is represented. Daisy's heart swells.

-/-/-

They register their team and hand out pink t-shirts. They take awkward group pictures as well goofy ones. There are a couple really good ones that Daisy plans to have framed for Jemma.

Then there are opening ceremonies and various speakers. Daisy is surprised when Jemma takes the stage.

"Hi! My name is Jemma Simmons-Ward and I'm here with my daughter Abby, who is five. I was asked by the Down's mother-and-daughter class Abby I attend to address the new parents in the crowd." She takes a breath. "First off let me say, all thoughts you've had, or are having? They're normal and you are not bad for thinking them. The how will I ever connect, will they have a sense of purpose, will they always be my responsibility, will they live, will they have love, and can I do this? And so many more.

"I don't have all the answers, but I will tell you ones I think I do have." She smiles down to the crowd, her eyes easily finding her family. "Connecting is so much simpler than I ever thought it would be. Though realizing it didn't come as quickly as the simplicity suggestions. Even me, with my three PHDs and a what my best friend fondly calls my obnoxiously hig IQ, it took me almost a year to figure out the best way to connect with Abby wasn't through any particular pursuit or routine or therapy. It was simply through love. Just love. Because love transcends all mentalities. I loved her, and in doing so, I found deeper parts of myself. I learned to see the world through her gaze." She looks over to Ward, who sends her a reassuring wink. "We do connect, we have interesting conversations about what color she should paint the White House when she becomes President-"

"Purple!" Abby shouts out.

"See! She is my late night TV-watching partner, and we have an unspoken agreement that if she doesn't mention my eating her dad's very particular brand of peanut butter, I don't mention her sneaking the great Dane into her bed room at 1 am. I no longer worry about building the connection because it is there, and always has been. She is mine and I am hers, and it's all that matters."

Jemma pauses to gather herself for a moment.

"I know Abby has purpose. It may not look like the world wants it to look, but Abby will always have purpose. She brings people together. She brought my family back together. She brings light, and joy wherever she goes. But more than that, Abby will choose her own path. Her purpose as she sees it. And, that's something every parent shares in.

"Will she have love? Romantically speaking, I honestly don't know. I hope so. I know it presents a different challenge, but I also know it is not impossible. I know it is something I hope for her. But I also know that she's five years old, and that there's plenty of time for her to grow and figure out if that is something she even wants. And regardless? She will know love. She already knows love. It shows in the tender patience her father has with her, or the way he hugs her every day when she get home from school. It shows in her interactions with her sisters. It shows in the people who have shown up for her here today.

"Will she always be my responsibility? I believe that our children are always our responsibility, that is our job as parents to make sure they can be the best people they can be for the world and in the world, that they can live the best lives they can. It's likely that, for Abby, this might mean something different, that she may not be able to live independently from us as her parents or without other assistance. I don't mind. I'm going to spend my life nurturing all my children and protecting them, as best I can, throughout life anyway, regardless of their abilities. Isn't that what parenthood is?

Lastly, can you do it? I didn't think I could and yet… here we are, five years later. Is it hard? Yes. Am I scared more often the average parent? Probably so, but it's been the most awesome, terrifying, lovely, joyous experience of my life, to be her mother.

In the end, I promise, it isn't as hard as you think it is going to be. Just…love your children. Ask them questions. Demand equality , and use your support system. Because who loves your child more deeply than you?" she took a breath. "That's the b-best I have. Thank you."

She gets down from the podium and stands in front of them, shifting nervously. "How was that?"

"Great, very eloquent babe." Grant says, ducking to kiss her.

"Perfect," Bobbi adds in, sounding truly sincere.

-/-/-

They begin the walk together, knotted up in their pink bedecked group. All their conversation overlapps, but with Jemma being as pregnant as she is, soon falls behind so Daisy and Bobbi loop back around.

"You alright,Jem?"

She looks to Bobbi. "Fine, just weighing the merits of divorcing Grant for abandoning me." She nods up ahead to Ward who is walking with Abby on his shoulders and talking intently with Fitz about something. Fitz is carting Frannie.

Bobbi doesn't rise to the bait. "It's only a mile. We got this. You got this."

Jemma smiles. "Love you, Bob." Daisy can tell she means it.

"I was going to tell you," Daisy adds in, flanking Jemma's other side. "I got cleared to yank the surveillance on Grant. I'll be by tomorrow."

"How'd you swing that?" Jemma asked.

"The girls are getting too big to be surveyed. And… he's been solid. He's come a long way and I've finally got the brass to acknowledge it."

Jemma throws her arms around Daisy and they stand for a long moment in a hug. Longer than truly warranted, by the end."

"Uh, Jem? You know you still have to finish the walk, right? Sooner you get moving, the sooner you can order Grant to massage your feet.

"Fine," Jemma sighs.

At the end of the walk there are people lining the finish line to hug the participants.

Grant had put Abby down in the last leg to finish on her own, and she doesn't walk, she runs for the finish, Grant trailing her at a clip. She is finally caught up in the arms of Coulson, who is waiting to hug her.

Daisy looks over to find Jemma watching with misty eyes as the girls and Grant join the hug line.

For the first time that day, she stops to consider what this day had meant for Jemma. All of the acceptance and love she'd lost returned to her. What it means that Abby and Francesca are not only here but they thrive. That Grant is as whole as he'll ever be.

It makes Daisy choke up. To know what Jemma came through, rose above. That her friend survived it all to get here, at her happily ever after.


AN: And that's it guys, thank you all so much for reading. And to Myranda for being such a patient and encouraging editor.- I started this fic with one simple question. What happens when you give the smartest person in the room a disabled child? this is what happened. I had lots of big ideas not sure I got them all across but I tried and I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. -MM