Grant actually loves being a stay home dad, which is the world's biggest surprise,even to SHIELD pumping the brakes on his life as a…okay, so he was kind of the head of a millennia-old terrorist organization. But,to be fair, he was trying to move from total villainy to doesn't see that as apples and oranges, obviously.
Giving up his life before meant he got to keep his kid and wife, so even though it required a major shift… he shifted.
The day had been a routine day: breakfast, and getting Abby to school, enduring the stares he and Frannie always get in playgroup. You'd think people would be more evolved, that a dad looking after his kid wouldn't draw so many stares. Though maybe it's not that it's a dad, it's that it's him. Jemma says it's because no matter what he's trying to do or portray, there is always an air of lethalness about it hm.
He thinks, screw 'em. He and Frannie will just keep doing their thing.
Today's thing is a bit out of the routine, so far. Now, having picked Abby up from school, they are heading to the pet store.
He and Jemma have discussed getting the girls a pet to try and teach them responsibility. Since they are all of five and two respectively, they have decided to start small.
"What kind of fish do you want, girls?" he glances in the review at them.
"Dory," Frannie tells him.
"Catfish," Abby says.
"Baby, that is so not what you think it is." He smiles at Abby in the mirror. The French braid he did this morning is still looking half decent.
Once they pull into the parking lot, he unloads them from the car and into Petco they go.
That weird fish-food meets-dog-food pet store smell hits him and he thinks of the time he walked into a nearby town to panhandle for Buddy's dog food. Before he can overthink it the girls are racing away from him, toward the back wall where they have the animals available for adoption. He catches Frannie, shorter legs and all that, but before he can grab her Abby has her face pressed to the glass facing of the cage of a Great Dane puppy. And that look on her face? It looks a lot like love.
But he and Jemma agreed to get a fish and…
"Daddy, that! Please, that!" Abby says
"I agree, we need him," Frannie says succinctly. Not for the first time Grant is temporarily blown away by her verbal skills.
"You're two…I don't…Jemma's child," he mutters mostly to himself. "Girls, Mommy and Daddy said a fish, not a dog."
Both girls smile up at him sweetly.
He is so fucked.
When Jemma opens the door she's so weighed down with groceries so she's almost positive she mistakes the yipping little bark for the TV and the girls binge-watching Chip and potato again. The yip is very persistent though.
When Grant unburdens her of the grocery bags with a too bright smile and rushes to the kitchen it becomes blatantly obvious why she when finds an absolutely darling Great Dane puppy guarding the girls at her feet. She is not charmed. She is not.
She hurriedly kisses the girls in turn and tries to follow the kitchen to berate Grant. She is stopped shortly by Abby.
"Hello, my dove, how was your day?"
She pauses in thought. "It good, Mama. That my Fish." She points to the dog.
"We named him Fish. No rules were broken, Mama." Frannie says.
"Oh I 's quiet the lovely little fellow, isn't he?" She pastes on her own bright smile while silently vowing to kill Grant for teaching her children to con her.
She rounds into the kitchen where she finds Grant intently storing the produce.
"Grant! That is going to be a huge dog! It's not a bloody fish! It's not even bloody close!" she whisper yells.
"I know, honey-"
"Grant, we wanted to give Abby responsibility. A dog is too much. This is hardly a "put the food in once and day" and "help Daddy clean the tank once a week" set of chores! And! What are you going to do when it dies in seven years because that breed often has dilated cardiomyopathy?"
"Their hearts become enlarged over time and they die, Grant. We can replace a damned fish, we can't replace our daughters' dog! Do you realize Abby may never understand death right?"
He stands there dumbfounded, holding a bunch of grapes.
"Baby, I didn't think of that -"
"Well you wouldn't have had to think of it if you'd consulted your wife before you brought home a bloody dog."
Grant looks pained, and something in his expression begins to deflate her anger before he even speaks.
" I just...she looked like she was in love. Any time I can find ways to give the girls love, I want too. Her face… I can't describe it, Jem. It was like this click of recognition or belonging. You remember when you told me how Mrs. Tempest made you feel when you jumped from first to sixth grade? How you didn't fit but she made you a place to fit"
Jemma nods slowly.
"I think it's like that for Abby, and the dog. The world is going to make Abby know she doesn't fit eventually. I mean it's already starting really… I found her sitting on the swings by herself three times already and she's only five…and I get so angry over it! It breaks my heart, Jemma. Fish is never going to know Abby is different. To that dog, Abby will just be his person and that's why I did it. I didn't think about… all that other stuff, and for that I am sorry. It's just... I just wanted to fix a tiny piece of the world for her."
"Okay," Jemma smiles at him with misty eyes.
"Well, it's not like I can tell you to take him back and bloody well crush our babies' hearts. Not that I appreciate your putting me in the position to do so," Jemma says pointedly, and Grant has the grace to look sheepish.
"But! You are cleaning up after it if it takes a man-sized shite in my flat, In fact, you can be primarily responsible for walks where cleanup is entailed." She walks over to the fridge and kisses him before grabbing a bag of groceries to put away herself.
"I'll clean up after him," Grant promises. he grins at her. "And hey, maybe you can put GH-325 in his food so he never dies, ergo, no explaining death to the kid til one of us kicks it."
She smiles despite herself. "That's not funny." She puts a box of Foot Loops in the cabinet and tries not to cringe at the sugar content. Abby is a finicky eater and Jemma has learned to choose her battles. All the books say people who have Down syndrome have normal quirks, they are simply more intense about them. Abby has inherited Grant's ability to be obstinate but at least it is just cereal and not world domination she's after.
"With everything Garrett did to you regarding Buddy, can you handle having a dog?"
"He failed to break me, Jem. I can still love. This is fine."
Jemma thinks the SHIELD-ordered therapy has definitely helped Grant, but she doesn't say that out loud. Instead, they just carry on putting the groceries away quietly, until Grant breaks the silence again.
"I was thinking ...maybe once Frannie starts pre-K, I'll look into becoming a physical therapist. I liked helping Abby, still like it actually,even I'm doing less to help her gain mobility now."
"Of course you'd pick a super competitive and hard-to-break-into field. I love that idea."
"Yes, love. Grant, you'd be great. You have a great foundation of the body mechanics with everything you did before, and, as someone who did PT post scoliosis surgery? Looking like you do teen girls will do whatever you ask. Trust me, love, just know you got this."
Before he can respond, they hear the girls having a tiff. "No! No! Frannie Rona!" They stand in the doorway and watch Frannie pulling Fish's tail.
"He bite! Baby, he bite!" Abby tells her trying to be protective of her sister."Fish, no bite my baby."
"I am not a baby!"
Jemma brushes past him to intervene.
When Daisy boosts herself up onto his work table, Fitz barely even notices. He's too focused on the schematics Jemma needs back at Stark Industries by tomorrow.
"I wasn't actively eavesdropping per say, because I like listening to Frannie and Abby chatter while I work, but it does appear Grant bought a dog without telling Jemma.' His head snaps up at that.
" Was there major bloodshed? Is he already dead, or do we have time to call a medic?"
"A Great Dane."
"They live in a penthouse apartment. I should call her. She's going to need help hiding the body."
"Oh please she'd dissolve him in acid and might need help getting rid of the evidence but that's all. It really is the cutest dog, he's white and grey spotted."