"What the hell Daisy?!"
"I don't know!"
"Seriously, what the hell?!" Lincoln paced back and forth, clearly unsettled by this new development. "Why me?"
"I don't know!" Daisy repeated, checking again that the door was closed behind them. "Look, she's not as bad as you think."
"Not-" Lincoln started incredulously, "I'm the one who made him turn! I get scared every time she looks my way!"
"Then don't! Lincoln, May's... she's my friend, okay?" There were words that fit better, but that was the best for now. "And she's had enough trouble with Inhumans. I'm the only good one she knows right now."
"Daisy..." Lincoln was slowing and he sank into a chair, eyes pleading. "I don't know if I'm exactly the person to win her over."
"You don't have to win her over." Daisy said softly, sitting beside him and putting one hand on his shoulder. "Just... look after her."
Disbelieving eyes met hers. "Look, Daisy, I know I've got powers, but I don't think for a second that Agent May needs any protection."
"She does. Believe me." Daisy said. "I'm scared for her." She hung her head. "Don't tell her I said any of this, but- May buries everything. And after she goes through this kind of crap... I'm just scared she's gonna get herself hurt."
Lincoln wove his fingers through hers. "I'm not going to let anyone get hurt if I can help it Daisy. Least of all the people you care about. I know Agent May is a good person, so I'll try to keep an eye on her. For you, as well."
Some of the tension that Daisy had been carrying eased, and she relaxed slightly into Lincoln. "Thank you."
An arm wrapped around her shoulders and Lincoln smiled. "Call me crazy, but you two don't seem like the most likely friends."
Daisy smiled too, snuggling closer to him. "She trained me. Protected me. I owe her for that."
Lincoln grinned, seeing that Daisy was actually blushing a little bit. She bit the inside of her lip. "You know family's not something I've had much." She mumbled. "I mean- I had a lot of tries. Like a tasting plate of families." Lincoln pressed a kiss to the top of her head. "Whenever I felt like I'd hit rock bottom, May was there." Daisy murmured. "She trained me after Ward turned out to be Hydra. She almost went toe-to-toe with a God for me."
Lincoln's smile was warm now. "There's a word for someone like that you know." He said, a hint of teasing in his voice. He wondered if Daisy knew.
By the way she blushed and buried her face in her hands, he guessed that she did. "Don't say it."
Lincoln's grin widened. "You've got a lot of her quirks, is all."
Daisy glared, from between her fingers.
He laughed, "Yeah, like that. Same glare."
"You fight the same way."
"She trained me, what do you expect?!"
"Did she train you to wear leather jackets all the time?"
The only response was a punch to the arm.
Lincoln laughed again, "I'm just saying-"
"I swear, if you say it I'll kick your ass."
"Daisy, come on." The teasing tone was gone, but the fond smile remained. "She's basically your mom."
"No." Daisy said softly. "She's not." Suddenly she seemed sad.
Lincoln's lips parted slightly in surprise. The last thing he had wanted was to upset her. "Sorry." He said. "I know everything with Jaiying-"
"It's not about her." Daisy cut in. "I just- I attacked her."
"May?" Lincoln clarified.
Daisy nodded. She wasn't going to cry like she used to thinking about it. "She trained me. Stood by me. Then when it came down to it I wanted my-" She spat the word, "real family so much that I threw it all back at her."
Lincoln frowned. "It doesn't seem like she holds it against you."
"What does that matter?" Daisy asked. "She's May; she only holds the grudges that don't matter. Coulson once shot her and she never even mentioned it again. She'd let the people she cares about walk all over her without a word."
"She loves you."
"Yeah." Daisy said, feeling herself getting choked up. "And I don't know why."
"Like I said." Lincoln smiled into her hair. "She's basically your mom."
"I do want to apologise. For Andrew. He killed your friends in cold blood. I'm sorry. I should have known." Every word May said was controlled, even rehearsed, and Lincoln sagged in relief.
"I should be thanking you; for being willing to put those bullets in him when you did." He paused. "I'm sorry that you had to do that."
She was utterly stiff. "It's my job."
"It's no ones job to shoot the people they care about."
"It's my job to protect my team. Whatever that calls for."
"Who protects you then?" Lincoln knew he'd hit a nerve, and he immediately backtracked. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to-" He sighed. "Daisy's worried about you." He admitted. "And I kind of get it. You're hard to read." When he found himself on the receiving end of that inherited glare, Lincoln had to suppress a grin. "Though I guess that's intentional."
The slightest twitch of May's lips was the only sign that she was trying not to smile too.
"You should talk to Daisy." Lincoln said, "She's really worried about you. For more reasons than one."
A pause. "I know."
Lincoln stared "You know?"
May's eyes remained fixed on the flight controls. "She is easy to read." She hesitated. "And I heard you two talking."
The pulled him up short. "Y-you did?" Oh crap. "How much- exactly, did you hear?"
Unimpressed eyes glanced his way. "Enough."
Lincoln laughed nervously. "Uuh, sorry about that."
May shook her head.
"Hang on," Lincoln said, a though occurring to him. "If you heard- and you know that she's beating herself up, why haven't you talked to her?"
Melinda was silent for a while, flicking the odd switch. Just as Lincoln was starting to get annoyed, she said. "I don't know what to say."
Lincoln rolled his eyes. "Why not start with 'I forgive you'?"
May made no response.
"I mean, I'm assuming you do forgive her." Lincoln was shot a look so filled with disgust that there was no doubt to the answer. "Okay, so you're not angry at her, but you're letting Daisy torture herself over attacking you. It kind of sounds like you want her to be punished."
Lincoln had seen a reasonable variety of Melinda May's glares recently, but this was the first time he thought that she might actually hurt him.
He swallowed and tried to hide the fear. "Look, I care about Daisy, and she's upset. I can't fix it, so all I can do is try to get you to talk to her."
May took a deep breath, and some of the tension in her shoulders eased. Lincoln took that as a good sign. "I know that you two are in some kind of relationship." She said dryly. "If you hurt her, you'll answer to me."
For some reason, rather than making Lincoln want to run for the hills, he smiled lopsidedly. "Yes ma'am." It was nice to know that Daisy had so many people who loved her so much.
"I'm not her mother."
"No," Lincoln agreed. "But you're just as important to her." He grinned. "And you do it better."
Daisy was training when May entered the gym silently, escaping notice. Instead of speaking up, Melinda sat behind where she was, setting into the punching bag, and watched her.
Daisy was something special. She hadn't thought so at first, but training her had helped Melinda in ways she could never say. In a lot of ways, Daisy filled a hole that Melinda couldn't remember not existing. A constant ache that she had accepted as normal.
She hoped that Daisy knew how much she meant to her, how much she had helped. Because Melinda didn't think she could explain it. She wasn't sure she could talk about anything at all actually. She was a little broken in that way.
"Do you need something, or should I keep pretending I don't know you're there?"
May blinked, surprised, and walked around so that Daisy could see her. "How'd you know it was me?"
Daisy smiled, but there were nerves underneath it. She gently shook the floor. "I can feel the vibrations, even if I'm not making them. I can sort of see everything through the ground. Got the idea off a cartoon."
"Like a radar."
"Yeah." She swallowed nervously. "Do you like it?"
Melinda raised an eyebrow, a little surprised that Daisy wanted her approval. "It must be useful in the field. More reliable than scanners."
"It's good on the go too." Daisy said. "Scanners can get bogged down in some infiltrations."
May nodded. "How have you been on missions lately?" She asked, innocently. It didn't sound like a superior officer asking for a report. It sounded like a friend wanting to talk. It felt like a concerned family member.
"I- uuh, good." Daisy replied, a little thrown at the softness of May's tone. "Yeah, it was kind of tough for a while, down Bobbi and you, but I think we managed okay."
"I knew I trained you for something." May said, the ghost of a grin on her face. "I wouldn't have left if I didn't know you could handle it."
Some of the nervousness melted away. "Don't tell me you're suddenly dishing out compliments." Daisy said, turning back to the punching bag.
May came around to hold the bag still. "Your form's good." She said, and Daisy rolled her eyes. "Always has been."
"Good to know I've got that going for me."
Melinda paused. "Didn't you ever wonder why I wanted to train you?"
Daisy's fist impacted with the bag harder than before. " 'Cos of my form."
May raised an eyebrow.
Daisy's face tightened. "There weren't a lot of options around here."
"I wouldn't have wasted time on an agent who wouldn't be useful."
"Yay, I'm useful."
"Yes." May acknowledged. "Because you're a fast learner. Resourceful. Willing to work hard." Daisy was avoiding her eyes as her fists became weaker and weaker. "You always ask good questions. You're loyal."
"No." Now, despite her gradual diminuendo of hits, she punched the bag hard. "Don't say that."
"Look, I know what you're trying to do." Daisy said, trying to sound strong. "And I... just don't, May, okay?" She didn't want to argue. She didn't want to hear that May had forgiven her. She didn't want to do this.
"No one is angry with you." May said, not sure whether to move closer to her.
"Well maybe you should be!" Daisy snapped, planting a firm kick to the bag that May barely managed to catch. "After everything, I still chose them. I chose her, and you just- just walked away." She hit the bag to emphasise each word until the last two were barely there. She dug her fingernails in to the material. Her eyes stung.
A warm hand was placed over one of hers. "Yeah."
"Why?" Daisy was valiantly trying not to cry. "You always fight, you're meant to fight for things you care about, I learned that from you."
Melinda's eyes slipped downwards, and she paused. "Because... I want you to be happy." More than I want you with me.
Daisy sniffled and pulled her hand away, wrapping her arms around her own ribs. "I chose them. How could I be so stupid?!" She went to punch the bag again, but May caught her wrist.
Trying to project calm, Melinda looked tried to catch Daisy's eye. "You weren't stupid." She said softly. "They were your family. You'd been looking for them your whole life."
"And on the way I found you." Daisy said, wiping her eyes on her sleeve. "A-and you were everything-" She broke off.
That was okay though. Melinda knew what she was going to say, and it meant more than anything. After a moment's hesitation she opened her arms. "Come here."
Daisy gave a wet laugh, but launched herself into May's embrace.
It was a little awkward. Melinda was a little stiff, Daisy was clinging to tightly to notice, but neither cared that much.
May gently stroked her hair. "If you hadn't wanted to find your family so badly." She murmured. "Then Coulson never have pulled you out of that van. We might never have met."
"You would have been better off."
"No." For the first time, May was firm. "You don't decide that, I do." She paused. "Having you on this team, being able to train you... I never though I'd be able to move on from Bahrain, and you helped me do that. You don't even hate me for what happened, for whatever reason."
"Of course I don't hate for for that." Daisy murmured into her shoulder. "I-I love you."
Melinda smirked, and a moment later Daisy realised she'd been tricked into acknowledging why May couldn't hate her either, and how much it hurt the others to see her hating herself for it.
Melinda saw the punching bag shake out of the corner of her eye, and knew that the message had been received. She loved Daisy, so much, but she just couldn't say it. For a moment silence reigned, then May withdrew her arms gently.
Daisy did the same, smiling sheepishly.
"Come on." May said, nodding to the door.
Daisy followed beside her. "How did you go with Lincoln, on your flight?"
Melinda smiled. "I think we'll be fine.