AN: I own nothing. This fic jumps ahead about six months from where we left of in the chapter fic, but as March 21st is World Down Syndrome Day, I wanted to write something in this universe in celebration. The day is meant to raise awareness, to strike down prejudices, and to educate people that we are always more alike than we are different! You can find ways to participate through the National Down Syndrome Society, or simply wearing blue and yellow on the day. If you are lucky enough to love someone with Down Syndrome, try and make them feel special on this day! I'll get off my soapbox now. Thanks for reading! And if you like it, tell me so! Comments feed the muse. -MM

Many months ago, Daisy had set her computer searches to pick up any algorithm concerning Jemma in hopes of finding her. Members of the team, new and old, had varying opinions on whether Jemma had gone back to Ward of her own volition. Daisy had run enough in her life when she was Skye to understand going back to what felt easiest and safest, and she hoped that was what Jemma had done. The fact that it would mean Ward felt safer than SHIELD, well, that was on the team.

All of then had accepted that she was gone for good, one way or another. All but Fitz. Daisy ran these checks mostly for him, to give him a little peace of mind. If there was a glimpse of Jemma on a CCTV feed, and anonymous comment on a science board that matched her language patterns, any sign that she was out there, it should ping on the program Daisy had written. (So, too, would any unidentified body that turns up, but Daisy isn't ready to contemplate that too deeply.)

But there's been nothing at all since Jemma disappeared from the base without so much as a spare set of clothes.

So Daisy is surprised to find her phone lighting up like the fourth of July with a YouTube alert listed under the username MsJasmineMom. She pulls the buzzing phone off her bedside table and wipes the sleep from her eyes. She rearranges the letters in her head and realizes it's an anagram for Jemma Simmons as she finds the account.

There is only one video, simply titled "For Joy Bug" that was posted at exactly 12:01 AM on March 21st. She thinks it's rather odd, but she pulls herself from bed. Knowing exactly where she'll find Fitz, she transfers over to her tablet and crams on a pair of shoes. She clicks the link, waiting for it to load in the playground's lagging network. No matter how many fixes and patch overs she's made, it is still hopelessly slow due to being underground.

She should show this to Coulson first, but keeping her promise to show Fitz any results on discovery feels more important. Besides, Coulson is asleep, but Fitz will be awake. And it could be nothing, she justifies, even as her gut tells her otherwise.

She walks into Fitz's utterly silent lab. He's work on a new model of hand for Coulson. He focuses singularly on his work now, to an obsessive degree. She thinks it is to try to keep from worrying over Jemma.

It's been more than a year. Jemma is gone. Daisy just hopes this video, whatever it is, might help him move on.

"Fitz!"" He jerks around, plasma cutter in hand and googles hiding his gaze. "I might have found something. I don't know what but... here." She projects the video from her tablet on to the screen.

He shoves the goggles up on to his forehead.

When Daisy hits play, Ward appears, larger than life on the large screen in front of them. Fitz completely freezes, but a chill skitters up Daisy's spine. The opinions on Ward are nowhere near as varied, or kind, as they are on Jemma. Ward is the enemy, a traitor, and certifiably crazy. He's a master manipulator who can twist anything to his needs. This evidence that Jemma had, it would seem, chosen to go back to that was truly scary. Love is blind, so they say, but that isn't a comfort. And being faced with the thing they all tried to deny Daisy's stomach twists into twenty thousand knots.

"Ok, so I just hit this button and..." Ward looks to the person behind him for clarification.

"It's recording, sir," comes a deep voice.

Ward whips back around looking startled; it's more than a little comical.

"Oh Sh...Stuff!" he quickly corrects, and Daisy blinks in surprise. But then the look is gone and Ward leans in comfortably to the camera, smiling. "Hi Bug! Today is your day and Mama thought we should do something to celebrate you that you can look back on each year, and I'm all for making my girls feel special and important..."

"Pause it, go get the others. I'll wait," Fitz says. With the verbal confirmation that Jemma is with Grant, there's something angry in Fitz's tone but he seems to fall back on protocol for lack of anything better to do, so she does as he suggests.

She wakes a grumpy Coulson first, then May who wakes easily. Garner is a hard sleeper. She doesn't stay to know if May wakes him. Bobbi is running for the lab before the words are half out of Daisy's mouth. Lance is away on mission, so there's no one there to temper Bobbi's attitude.

Once everyone is amassed in the lab, she unpauses the video.

"So here goes, I'm going to say how I feel, even though I'm more of an action man, your mother wouldn't let me buy you a real pony," he rolls, his eyes huffing a laugh. "and Mama's therapist says that verbal expression is as important as physical, not that Daddy was actively listening but...ok, here it goes."

He takes a deep breath. Daisy looks about the room, gauging reactions. Bobbi is guarded and unreadable. May is skeptical. Fitz is impatient to lay eyes on Jemma. And Coulson? He is calculating.

"You've changed me, Abby. I'm still me, but I'm different. You've taught me what gratitude is, you gave me back the love of my life…" He pauses, seemingly lost in thought.

"You've taught me to take pleasure in the little things, and I mean really little things, like sleeping, like watch you roll over after all those hours of the tummy time we both know you hated. I have never been prouder of anything in my life." He grins widely and, had it been any man other than Ward, the smile might have been charming enough to stop your heat. It is Ward though, and Daisy would lay money that, like her, everyone else is all trying to guess at his sincerity.

"You proved the doctors wrong, Joy Bug. They said it was going to take you months longer."

He holds up a picture of a dark haired baby with a huge smile on her face. She's lying on the floor, possibly after that triumphant first roll. Her dark, happy eyes shine up at the photographer.

"She has Down Syndrome," Bobbi murmurs. Daisy wonders if she's imagining the knowing tone.

"She's beautiful..." Daisy adds quietly.

"She looks like Jemma," Fitz says.

"You see, sweet girl, today is March 21st. A day meant to celebrate you and the community you were born into, to raise awareness about… Well, that's the thing though, baby, your differences, they don't matter to me. Half the time I don't even remember you have Down Syndrome until I have to see you struggle with something… with anything ..." He looks like he might cry for half a second, but Daisy can't let herself trust that.

"My point is, Joy girl, you have taught me what it is to love unconditionally without agenda. I love you and I will do so until my dying day. Happy World Down Syndrome Day! Be proud of who you are, extra chromosome and all! Daddy loves you best!" He blows a kiss at the camera. "It's your Mama's turn. So we'll let her take a turn on the camera, won't we, my Joy?"

"Could you check on Abby for me and take the cookies for tomorrow out of the oven?" Jemma's voice comes over Ward's shoulder.

He gets up. "Sure."

"Oven mitts are on the sink." There's a kissing sound and there are more than a few screwed up faces in the briefing room at that. "Grant, you said you'd tell me when we were doing this so I could get ready!" she scolds. "I look a mess!"

"You look perfect," Ward's voice says. "And you're the one who said real, no fancy editing... Get to it, baby. You're up."

Jemma appears on the camera. Her hair is longer and a little darker, thrown into a messy ponytail high on her head. She's wearing a worn under armor shirt clearly belonging to Ward. There's a smudge of flour on her left cheek. She smiles brilliantly. Daisy can hear Fitz's breath catch clear across the room.

Jemma's happy. In the months Daisy had seen her, there was almost always a wild look in her eyes, like an animal backed into a corner. Sometimes that faded into numb exhaustion, but there were always dark circles under eyes and she was far too skinny for a pregnant person. There's no evidence of that in the video. Instead, she looks more whole of body and mind.

"Hello, my love! You're a little more than six months old today, and it's also our very first World Down Syndrome Day. I have a whole big thing planned for everyone to take part in, but firstly, I just wanted to tell you a few things." She pauses and looked to her left.

"She's out like a light, curled up in the corner of the crib again... and the cookies don't suck." There's surprise in Ward's voice on the tail end of the sentence.

"Grant, bite me." She smiles sardonically.

"Maybe later," he quips.

She rolls her eyes but bite back a laugh, and the look she aims off camera is decidedly fond.

"Maybe she's been made compliant. Or do you think he's leveraging the baby?" Coulson wonders aloud.

Daisy stops the video. Her stomach drops in dread. She hopes Ward wouldn't do either of those things, but she can't deny the possibility outright either. Her own father had turned the world upside down trying to find her, while her mother had retreated and created her own world, and both had done terrible things trying to shape their reality to make up for their loss. She doesn't want that for Jemma. She doesn't want her held hostage, her baby used as a weapon against her or her free will deleted so Ward can live out his family man fantasy.

It can't end well for anyone.

"Sir, I believe she's merely content." Fitz says and Daisy looks over to study him. He's known Jemma the longest, was the closest. He'd be more likely to know. But there's very little sadness on his face, mostly it is painted with resignation.

"Her blink and resp rates are baseline," Fitz elaborates. "We learned the basics of implementation of the program through studying Miss Palamas. Jemma shows no signs. He might be leveraging the baby, but I find it doubtful. She loves him, she told me as much. He doesn't need Abby to keep Jemma. He manipulates well enough on his own. And he's had ample time to do that, too, since you reassigned resources!"

"Fitz..." Daisy pleads.

"Hit play again," he replies, fed up.

"Don't fall asleep in your office again," Jemma calls to Ward's retreating back. Ward makes a non-committal noise. "He drives me up the wall, Abs... " Jemma refocuses her attention.

"In any case, I wanted to share a few things just for you, before our celebration. You have evolved the very way I think on all levels, you have taught me to always trust my gut and follow my heart when my head gets too loud for anything else to cut through. You have made me braver than I ever thought I could be. I was so scared when you were born, so terrified that I could never be enough. And I still have fear sometimes, fear that the world will mistreat you, that it will make you feel less than you are… But I promise that even if the world mistreats you, I will always be your safe haven. I will teach you that your worth depends on no worldly definition." Jemma exhales shakily clearly trying to stave off tears. She looks off for a second, chin resting thoughtfully in her hand.

She turns back, seemingly gathered up. "You are enough, simply because you are Abby. There are no words in any language I know that can describe the enlightenment, joy, love, and laughter you've brought into my life. You've redefined my sense of being. I am your mother and I am beyond proud of that. I love you, in ways I can never fully express. Just know that it's a lot and it lasts forever! Happy World Down Syndrome Day!"

Jemma then makes hand gestures that Daisy realizes almost belatedly are sign language. "I'll love you to the end of the line," Bobbi translates for the team even as an unfamiliar brunette ducks down into frame. "Ain't no thang but an extra chromosome! We all love you, Squishy!" And just like that, the video ends on their smiling faces.

"And now what?" Daisy says into the ensuing silence.

"Comb the video for Intel and try and pin down a location on them," Coulson says.

"Sir, with all due respect, first rule when taking down other operatives, never take down someone using the thing they value more than the mission. At best, it makes them unpredictable and at worst, it might make a man like Ward feral in his protectiveness," Bobbi points out, arms crossed over her middle like seeing Jemma has been painful on a physical level.

"That's assuming he loves them as much as he claims, or is even capable of love. It could be a power play. With her disabilities, the child could be seen as disposable to someone like Ward," Garner says from just over May's shoulder. Daisy startles. She hadn't heard him come in.

Bobbi laughs dryly. "Disposable to Ward or to you? I told you I thought there was a good chance, according to the blood work, that the baby had trisomy twenty one. I told you I thought she needed to know before she drove herself nuts, and you told me to evade, and flat out lie, that she was too fragile to handle the news and that we shouldn't spook her. Well look how well that worked out! Because of you, I forced her into his arms," Bobbi rants. Everyone, including May, turns critical eyes on Garner.

"I stand by my evaluations. Dr. Simmons presented severe PTSD, depression, intermittent mania, and obsessive compulsive disorder. Her knowing ahead of time would not have mattered, it could only fractured her further," he defends.

"She was obsessing because she knew something was wrong!" Fitz shouts. "I know my partner. She didn't break! Bloody well look at her! She's strong and happy. And if we know anything about Ward, we know he won't let any harm come to that baby because it's his! You think Jemma was obsessive? Well, you bloody sent her to the King Obsessive. Maybe you are right and Ward can't love, at least not like normal people, but that's just going to mean he won't respond like normal people either if you try to come between him and that baby. And disabilities or not, they tried for years before having her. So trust me when I say, analyze that video to your hearts content, but Abby should not be our way in should we want to survive any attack we make! Jemma will make Ward look like Mary Bloody Poppins if you use her baby, I swear it, Coulson."

There is a long, tense silence as they stare at one another in a silent stand off.

"I say we scan the video and any others that may come to light to ascertain safety and threat levels," May says, calm as ever. "Any Intel gained from them, we use only if given no other choice, like if we have any reason to believe Jemma is not there of her own volition or he's hurting her or the baby, or Ward makes a move. Because I've no doubt he's planning something, but he's been off our radar for a while now and we don't need to start any battles we aren't equipped to fight. We can afford to let sleeping dogs lie until we know more."

"Ward is obsessive and protective on a good day, and he's got a dose of paranoia. Are you sure he isn't going to snap on her, Fitz?" Bobbi asks gently.

"The only time he ever put her in harm's way was was on Garrett's orders. No one's over him now. It might be naïve, but I don't think Jemma would have gone into the situation if she truly thought he'd harm them."

"And if it's Stockholm Syndrome?" Coulson asks.

"You've abandoned her to far worse fates and we both know it. Leave it be. Leave them be." Fitz states with an air of resignation, locking eyes once more with Coulson before walking away.

Soon everyone else filters out. Coulson stands over Daisy. "Analyze the video have a compiled data file on my desk by 8 am."

"Yes, sir." Daisy returns. She's torn. She wants to reassure herself, well everyone really, that Jemma is truly safe and she's bound by her duty to SHIELD to pursue all leads concerning Ward. But this seems like an invasion of something important and private. She wants to throw up. Instead, she gets to work even though she'd lay money down that Ward had this thing scrubbed and she'll only uncover what he wants her to find or simply doesn't care to hide.

-/-

"What ya got girl?" Mack asks.

"What time is it?" Daisy stretches upwardly, cracking her back and giving a long yawn.

"4 am." He sets down a mug of coffee.

"I've tried to triangulate the location of the upload. But it seems that they pulled one of my tricks, uploading only from the air. I can't get a definite hit, other than it was somewhere over the state of Arizona. I've run the audio through a lie detector and it found no signs of them in any of the voices. I ran the imaging, too. Jemma shows no signs of abuse, only slight sleep deprivation. And since those signs were on Ward, too, I'm pretty sure Abby isn't the most solid sleeper." Daisy picks up the coffee and sips before continuing.

"Judging by angle, light, and shadow, Ward took the picture of Abby. The woman in the last frame is identified as Sarona Cheree Tarelton, former Army Black Ops. She was honorably discharged after a very deeply buried sexual misconduct case involving a general whose name has been redacted. Other than that, nothing remotely useful."

"What's your take away?" Mack asks.

"I know what it is to feel different. It's isolating. I think they both love their child and this was a message of that, ultimately. Their way of showing her acceptance and teaching her to accept herself because barring other worldly things like Terrigen," she says ruefully, "You can't change DNA. I think she's probably full of light and joy and I'm positive she's changed them both. I'm also positive that now that Ward has Jemma and Abby, he's not going to give us a chance to find them, so unless he does something to make Jemma try to run, I think we let them raise their child as they see fit and stay out of it. We wish Jemma the best from a distance and let go."

She clinks the coffee cups. "To Abby, growing up safe and happy and all the things that will keep her daddy from blowing up the world."

"I'll drink to that." Mack retorts. "To Abby."