The Time for Heroism
By Izzy

For the first time since he’d left the Academy, Trip had a place to sleep which he could expect to be using for more than a handful of days or weeks or months, although he was still prepared for any change of plans that might come along there. He did what he could to make it a home, even making a few decorations out of pieces of cloth from some clothes that were too damaged to wear anymore. He got Jemma to help him; it was good for her to have the distraction, even after Fitz woke-maybe especially. Most importantly, he printed out the photos of his family and of Ritchie he’d previously been carrying around on his phone, and put them up over his bed.

Shortly after giving birth to a dark-skinned girl with his face whom she named Hitami, Shirley managed to track down his family, and then Marie emailed him photos of everyone holding the baby. Trip put up the one of her in the arms of her great-grandmother. His sister also warned him that if he didn’t eventually decide when everyone found out he was alive, she would. Since by then it was clear they weren’t going to get pardoned by the government anytime in the immediate future, Trip decided it could wait until that situation, at least, improved.

He meant to tell the others about his daughter first, he really did. He definitely would have told Jemma if she hadn’t one day gone off and then not come back. He spent months feeling deeply betrayed, wondering why’d she’d run out on them. It was relief to learn she’d just gone undercover. But even after she came back, and he quickly lost track of how many times she cried on his shoulder, he couldn’t help but feel she had too many of her own problems, and he didn’t want to bother her with it. Besides, by then he was sure the proper person to tell first was Coulson. But there never seemed to be a good opportunity.

Although he especially felt guilty about that after one mission left him mortally wounded, and Coulson essentially bargained with a foe to save him. That, he knew, was something Garrett would never have done, and it was something he would never have expected him to do, even before he’d known the truth about him. Nor was that the first time that Trip had seen Coulson, or May, when she was leading a mission he was on, do something he knew Garrett would not have done, and it either saved him in a dangerous situation, or kept him from getting into it in the first place. He wondered how he could have been so blind, how he had not realized how reckless Garrett had been with his life long ago.

Not that he didn’t nearly get killed more than once even before that time getting shot. But when he faced down a gun, he never did so alone, and on one occasion, when he nearly drowned in a too-heavy suit, Skye, whom he knew hadn’t been able to swim before she’d learned as part of her S.H.I.E.L.D. training, made a crazy dive into waters too wild for anyone to really swim in safely, heedless of May yelling after her that it was too dangerous and she didn’t want to lose her too, and managed to get him free of enough of the suit to swim. He did need to guide her through the water back to the helicopter, but that was fine. He wished there was a way to articulate to her how it made him feel, fighting at last by people who would do that kind of thing for him.

He recorded the incidents though. He started his main journal the day after Fitz awoke, and then just kept writing, at least every other day, unless he was away from the base for longer. He wrote about his new companions in them too, things like what Lance Hunter had done to make everyone laugh, and the story Isabelle Hartley told over the dinner table from her time in the first Gulf War, and Antonio Mackenzie’s miniature version of Coulson’s much-loved flying car. When he reread his older entries four months later, it was a little overwhelming to think he had only been living this new life for that long.

It was even more stunning to think about how happy he was, especially considering they were all still a little demoralized from the fact that Hydra still existed and everything they knew had gone down. He heard more than one person wish they could go back to the way things were. He didn’t. He didn’t even care how many or how few days he had left in his life; he was just glad for each and every one of them.

He started three more journals after Hitami’s birth. On top of them he wrote For Hitami-Read When You’re 8, For Hitami-Read When You’re 13, and For Hitami-Read When You’re 18. In them he wrote anything he could think of that he would plan to say to his daughter if he lived to know her at those ages. He wrote to her about studying and working hard, about dealing with bullies and racism, and about remaining true to herself and doing the right thing. Also about trust, and warning signs; he wanted to make sure she wouldn’t make the same mistakes he had with Garrett. He included details about her great-grandfather his family might not necessarily remember to tell her. He told her to be proud of her ancestors, but to define herself by her own actions rather than theirs.

At one point, when he was writing some hard-learned relationship lessons in the 18-year-old journal, it occurred to him that if he didn’t survive and there was a need for the journals, her mother was likely to read them first. So he wrote a letter to Shirley too, apologizing for running out on her, expressing his regrets and the sympathy he had for her now, and trying to convey how much he hoped she would be happy in her new life.

When he first found himself trapped with Skye and Raina in the chamber with the obelisk, and there was time for his life to flash before his eyes, he saw his family. He saw the yard, chasing his brothers around with Marie. He saw the photo of Ritchie over his desk in the dorm at Howard. He saw Shirley in bed on a stolen evening at the Academy. He saw Garrett hiding in that barn. He saw Jemma coming to his bunk at the Hub that dark night. He saw a photo on his phone giving him his first look at Hitami.

But by the time it was over, he was aware that he wasn’t turned to stone yet seemed indication enough that the obelisk didn’t seem to care about him being there. If he didn’t touch it, he might still walk out alive.

And then Skye cried his name as she turned to stone, and he felt the first rumble, and realized the thing was going to cause an earthquake, and kill probably Skye and Raina if this didn't, and also Coulson and Mack, and who knew how many other people, and without hesitation he kicked.