Daisy knew that things between her and May had felt off since she had gotten back from her vacation. It didn't feel like May was upset with her though, about Afterlife or anything else. Though honestly, she had a lot more to worry about without Daisy reminding her about things that they would both rather forget. After everything that May had gone through... It was a miracle that she was keeping it together.
Daisy tried to be there for her, but May had barely said a word to her. She wasn't particularly cold, she was just keeping to herself. Which was fine, hell, if she wasn't used to May being quiet by now then there was something wrong.
Daisy didn't want to push.
Okay, that was a lie. She did want to push, to talk to May until she cracked and talked back. She wanted to help with everything May was going through, because they were friends, because Melinda May had stood between her and a sword wielding god when she herself could have killed them all before Sif even had the chance. But Daisy didn't know if May wanted to talk, or if she wanted some time to deal with this herself. She had always dealt with her problems alone in the past, so Daisy did her best to respect what May wanted. She owed her that, at least.
So, on their first mission alone together in months, Daisy curbed her impulse to chat, and remained silent. More or less. "You gonna be okay on this mission?"
There it was again. May's eyes fixed her with a glare, but it melted away in an instant. "I'll be fine."
"Okay." Daisy assented quietly. "If there's anything I can do..." The offer trailed off. It felt inadequate.
Surprisingly, May almost managed a smile. "I know."
Daisy smiled back, and she knew her concern showed. She hoped that was okay.
May flicked on the autopilot and pulled out her tablet. "Any idea what we're dealing with?" She asked, pulling up the mission specs once more.
"Not really." Daisy said, shuffling over so that she could see too. "David Masters, early twenties. By the looks of the reports he turned a couple of days ago. It looks like he's got some kind of... people-y power."
Melinda raised an eyebrow. " 'People-y'?"
Daisy blushed a little, "I mean- like- me, Lincoln, we're kind of environmental, you know? And this guy's... people-y."
May smiled bemusedly. "You're going to have to work out a better name than that."
"Hey, this is the welcome wagon now, so I win." Daisy said.
May rolled her eyes and started to prepare for landing. "Strap in." She called to Mack and Bobbi, chatting quietly in the back of the quinjet. "Landing in two minutes."
"Copy that." Bobbi called.
"Remember," Daisy said, "Stay out of the way unless we call. We have to try to bring this guy in peacefully."
"Thanks for the reminder Daisy, but we know how backup works." Bobbi teased, and Mack chuckled.
Daisy grinned sheepishly. "Oh, right. Sorry."
"You've done this before." May reminded her softly, avoiding notice from Mack and Bobbi.
Daisy looked to her. "Yeah, but not with this little back up. I know Coulson needs Zephyr One, but it's..."
"I know. Safety net's gone."
"Yeah." Daisy murmured, looking down.
"Hey, you can do this." Melinda said.
Daisy raised her head to meet May's eyes, and smiled. She knew what that meant. She remembered. We can do this- you can do this. I believe in you. God, she kind of wanted to hug May for that, and something about the tiny grin on her face as she turned back to the controls told Daisy that she knew.
Melinda pulled them gently into land. Honestly, she felt a little shaky about being back in the field. This was the longest she'd been out since Bahrain. She knew why Coulson had assigned her this mission. It was simple enough, at least compared to a lot of the missions lately, but needed skilled agents to make up for the lack of resources. Plus it was with Daisy, and Phil, the bastard, knew that she wouldn't turn down a mission with her protège.
She shook herself, and stood, following Daisy.
"Okay, let's go." Daisy said, walking out. Melinda noted that she sounded far less nervous. "Remember, this guy's probably scared out of his mind Mack." She said pointedly, with a hint of a grin. "So maybe don't bring up the shotgun-axe if you run into him, yeah?"
Bobbi snorted, and Melinda grinned.
Mack tried to glare, but the fond grin broke through in no time. "Whatever you say tremors."
Melinda had to admit, it was refreshing to be on mission with someone she knew as well as Daisy. It had been well over a year since she had had this experience, at the time with Phil undercover, and it was nice to know that speaking wasn't necessary, gestures weren't necessary. In the time she had spent training Daisy, they had both learned to, essentially, read each other's mind. They crept down the alley, icers in hand and guns in their holsters, eyes scanning around for any presence.
The two passed a dishevelled man in a suit, doubled over and muttering to himself, and exchanged a glance. No smell of alcohol, or anything else, on him.
"Hey." Daisy said cautiously, "Are you okay?" She rounded to look at his face, then met May's eyes and quietly shook her head. "I think he's been whammied."
May rolled her eyes at the word choice, but Daisy could see that she was on edge. Of course she was. There was a rogue inhuman running around who could control people's minds. "Bobbi." She said, tapping her com, "We've got someone for observation."
"Negative." Daisy chimed in. "But he's encountered him."
"What kind of state is he in?"
"Disorientated, confused. I think he's in some kind episode."
"Copy that. We're right behind you."
"Great. Get him back to the plane."
May's eyes darted to Daisy. "He close?"
She grimaced. "Hard to tell, I don't know him." Daisy had been developing her own form of radar by feeling vibrations through the ground. She could recognise her team's presences individually, but this was different.
Daisy shook her head to get her concentration back. "Not many."
"That's something." May muttered, taking a breath to keep her nerves in check. Some instinct said this was going to get messy. Or maybe it was just paranoia. She noticed Daisy's concerned glances, but ignored them. "Let's go."
Daisy spotted him first, which she was relieved for. "Hey, hey, are you okay?" She asked, approaching the man. He was slight, with dark hair, and was standing in the corner, doubled over, hands over his face. May kept one hand on her icer as Daisy got closer, her handgun tucked into her ankle holster.
"We're here to help you, my name's Daisy." Daisy kept her hands in view and her voice calm. This guy was clearly freaked out enough.
"Leave me alone," The Inhuman whimpered, knees buckling, "Please, please, go away... I-I- c-can't..."
Daisy's eyes met May's for a moment before darting back to him. "It's okay, David, it's okay, I promise, I'm like you, I can help."
"No, no, I-I can't make it stop, I can't, I can't! GO AWAY!"
May saw him turn first, reaching for Daisy, and leapt forwards. "Daisy watch out!"
Daisy stepped back, May stepped forwards, and David's hands touched them both at the same time. The next second Daisy fell over backwards, and was somewhere else entirely.
Daisy blinked and breathed in. The air was hot and muggy, she couldn't see, she didn't- she couldn't think straight. What was happening? Where was she? Her leg suddenly hurt so much, she was bloody, and her hands... weren't her hands, the clothes weren't her clothes, and she was in so much pain, she couldn't breathe.
May's eyes widened, seeing the confusion and fear in Daisy's eyes as she crumpled to the ground. "What the hell did you do?!" She demanded.
"I-I don't know! I can't, I don't... please, just leave me alone!" David cried, backing into the corner again to sink to the ground.
"Stay there!" Melinda commanded, and turned her gaze back to Daisy. "Daisy, hey, Daisy, can you hear me?"
Daisy struggled to look up. Three men were approaching, blank stares giving nothing away to their purpose. Then a voice came, too young to sound so vindictive. "I like the pain." Her heart stopped as a little girl stepped forwards. This should feel familiar, it should- who was she? Where was she?
The girl was dressed in a flowery shirt. She circled around like a predator, and Daisy shook. No, no no no no. She stood beside the forwardmost of the men and raised one hand. The next second he collapsed to the ground, dead.
Daisy gasped in pain, falling back down.
"You killed mother." The girl said angrily, madness in her eyes, "And now there's so much pain." She raised both hands, and now the other two men crumpled. Daisy felt herself trying to escape the girl's advance.
The girl smiled sadistically. "I like all their pain." Now her facade changed. "I'm scared," She whimpered, "I want to leave." Her hand rose once more. "Please, take my hand." More people came in behind her, all of them as blank as the men she had just killed. Three more went down.
"No," Daisy felt her mouth move, but it wasn't her voice. She knew that voice, but from where? "Not them. Let them go!" She scrambled further back. "We can fix you, we can help, just- don't."
Melinda watched in horror as Daisy scuffled backwards, unaware of her presence, pleading with someone who clearly wasn't there. "Daisy, it's me, you need to calm down, please." She took a tentative step forwards, wanting nothing more than to reach her. She tapped her com. "We need backup, now."
The little girl smiled and Daisy had never been so afraid in her life. "Take my hand." She said, laughter in her voice. "Give me your pain. I need a new mother." Daisy continued to scuffle backwards, a helpless attempt to escape. "I'll take your pain."
May saw Daisy's hand close around her handgun, and she immediately retreated. "Hey, Daisy, it's me, okay, I'm not going to hurt you!"
Daisy felt her mouth move again. "Stop." She begged, "D- just put your hand down, and stop."
Melinda froze, eyes wide. She knew those words. Her blood turned to ice. Oh God, what had he done? Her gaze turned to the Inhuman, horrified. With barely a second thought, she drew her icer and shot him, using her last cartridge. He never even saw it coming. Would probably wake up with no idea.
The girl continued, that haunted smile never faltering, her hand outstretched, reaching for her.
Daisy trembled. The gun twisted into her grip. "Everything's going to be alright." She assured the girl.
Melinda screamed in pain and the bullet tore through her shoulder. Daisy stared for a long moment, then collapsed on the ground, unconscious.
Daisy woke in as much fear as she had fallen. She struggled until she recognised the face. "Jemma?"
"Daisy." She said with a sigh. "Thank goodness, we weren't sure what kind of state you'd be in."
"What-" Daisy broke off as Jemma started shining a light in her eyes. "What happened? I can't- I can't remember."
"That's probably for the best." Jemma said, taking a swab of her saliva. "By the looks of it the new Inhuman triggered a very intense flashback. I wasn't sure how long it would stay effective, whether you'd be cogent when you woke. How are you feeling?"
"I- fine, I guess, I-..." Daisy's eyes widened and the pieces finally clicked together. Muggy air, the pain, the blood, the hands that weren't her hands, the girl. "Where's May?" The gun, oh God, what happened?
Jemma might have improved on the lying front, but Daisy could still see that she was uneasy. "She's somewhere else on the base, debriefing."
"Jemma please. What happened?" She tried to sit up. "Just tell me."
Simmons hesitated. "Agent May is in a different room." She said, falling back on formality. "Agent Morse is treating her for blood loss."
"Blood loss, why- oh my God." Daisy felt her stomach heave. "I shot her."
"She's fine, Daisy, really." Jemma said, putting a hand on her shoulder, both to comfort, and to keep her in bed. "You only hit her shoulder, it was superficial more than anything."
"I shot her." Daisy mumbled again, tears welling up. And the vision, oh God, it was Bahrain. How could she have rubbed that in her face? How could she ever look at May again after this?
"She was very concerned for you." Jemma said softly, sitting on the edge of the bed. "She'd be here now if I hadn't threatened to sedate her." She pursed her lips. "Whatever you saw, it's clearly upset you." Simmons said. "It might be best if you're sedated, just for now, so you can rest."
"No." Daisy said before Jemma had finished speaking, "I can't, please Jemma, I need to talk to her, I need to-" She stopped, biting her lip as the tears began to fall.
"Oh," Jemma murmured, pulling her into a gentle embrace. "It's alright, just calm down." Daisy clung to her, trembling as hot tears escaped. That girl, the pain, the fear, the certainty that this was the only option.
The pain of the syringe in her arm caught her off guard. "Jemma..." Her voice slurred, too tired to sound betrayed.
"Just go to sleep." Jemma assured, gently laying her head on the pillow. "You'll feel better when you wake up."
Melinda tapped her fingers impatiently on her leg, downing the juice Bobbi had given her. "Are we done yet?"
" 'Thanks for your help Bobbi. Thanks for the blood, sure am glad you came to help when the mission went to hell.' " Bobbi mocked, though she was clearly on edge herself.
"Damnit Bobbi, I need to see her!"
Bobbi rolled her eyes. "I've never been that eager to see someone who just shot me."
May sighed. "She didn't know what she was doing, she-" Her lips tightened. "She didn't even know it was me."
Bobbi eyed her wearily as she flicked at the IV. "Daisy shot you." She said, "But you're worried about her." She pursed her lips. "You know something, don't you? Something about what happened."
May eyed her cautiously, then glanced to the needle in her arm. "Yeah."
"Relevant to the mission? The Inhuman?"
"Relevant to Daisy."
Bobbi's face twitched. She tapped her com. "Jemma, what's happening?"
May could hear Jemma talking in response, but couldn't make out the words.
Bobbi nodded, "Okay, thanks." She tapped her com again to hang up. "Daisy's asleep. Simmons just sedated her, so she'll be under for a few hours." She paused. "Apparently she wanted to see you." Bobbi glanced downwards. "We'll be done her in about half an hour, then I'll head up to Coulson to cover the debrief with Mack, and you can go and wait for Daisy to wake up, okay?"
May nodded. "Thank you." She said softly.
Bobbi grinned. "Hey, what are friends for?" The smile faded a moment later. "Is she gonna be okay?"
Melinda shook her head. "I don't know."
Daisy was deep in her drugged sleep when May arrived at the med bay. She had thick bandages under her clothes, still dirty from the mission. Jemma insisted on helping her to a chair, which almost made her smile, despite it all.
"She was very worried." Jemma said softly.
Melinda eyed her. "Did she remember?"
"Not at first." Jemma murmured, brushing a strand of hair from Daisy's face. "But it came back to her. Whatever she saw. What happened to you."
"It wasn't her fault."
"She doesn't seem to believe that."
May was silent at that, the concern clear.
"She's fine, physically." Jemma tried to assure. "No lasting effects on her that are obvious from the outset."
"Just going through that."
May felt Jemma's eyes on her, but she didn't react, didn't confirm or deny that she knew what Daisy had seen. She couldn't.
Daisy squirmed a little in her sleep, and Jemma's eyes flickered to the screen. "I should take these results to Director Coulson." She said hesitantly. "They may help to manage David's powers."
May nodded. "Go." She said. "I'll stay with her."
Jemma smiled, expecting nothing less, and hurried from the room, results in hand.
Melinda turned her gaze to Daisy once again. That helpless feeling was back, just like when she had been shot more than two years ago. Except now there was no one else to blame. Daisy wouldn't have had to go through that if she hadn't gotten in the way, setting off David's already unstable powers.
How much longer was she going to be punished for this? Just when Melinda had felt like she had started to make up for it, Daisy had found out, and reminded her that she would never be rid of it. Then she had begun to move on, and the horror was inflicted on one of the people she cared about most in the world.
Melinda bit the inside her lip, feeling the sting of tears behind her eyes. "I'm so sorry." She whispered. Her hand stopped just short of Daisy's.
She stirred. "Mmm..."
Consciousness seized her at the sound. "May?"
Daisy didn't think, just flung her arms violently around May, squeezing her tightly and trembling. Her breathing was gasping and uneven, she just held on as tight as she could. Oh God, that little girl, she could still see the vacant smile on her face, hear her voice. Knowing that she had to make the choice between this child and the dozen people around them. But Daisy hadn't made that choice, had she?
Daisy wasn't sure how long it was before she realised that May was clinging to her just as desperately. That the trembling she could feel wasn't entirely her own. Then she realised that the shoulder she was currently burying her face in was that little bit too padded. She felt sick, and the burning tears started to escape, one by one. "I'm sorry," Daisy rasped, no air in her lungs between the hiccupping sobs. "I'm sorry, I-I'm so sorry."
Melinda pulled her closer still, one hand cradling her head. "No, it's okay." She tried to reassure, even though she could feel the tears stinging behind her eyes. "It wasn't your fault, it's okay."
Daisy squeezed her eyes shut. "I can't- I-I can't..." She trailed off into further sobs. The girl's face, in her mind, it was all so clear, so vivid and painful, and she couldn't make it go away. "P-please, I-I can't."
"I know." Melinda let a few tears escape her control. "Just breathe, imagine you're doing tai chi." She swallowed the lump in her throat. "Focus." Please.
It was a tense few seconds before Daisy's breathing levelled out, and she wiped her eyes, drawing away. She swallowed. "Y-you know." She said, just confirming it. "What I saw." She felt guilty, beyond everything else. Like she had intruded. In a way she had.
Melinda bit the inside of her lip and nodded, eyes downcast. She didn't know what to say. Nothing could make up for going through that. "I'm sorry Daisy."
What? "It wasn't your fault." Daisy said it as firmly as she could, but her voice felt raw.
May's silence was enough proof that she didn't believe her. "You didn't deserve to go through that."
She swallowed. "Neither did you." Daisy refuted, gaining strength.
"I shot her!" May finally snapped, her eyes wild and angry. "I'm the one who made that choice, I get to live with it!"
"It wasn't a choice!" Daisy said, matching May's fire with her own. "I should know, I was there too!" Even the reminder made Melinda feel like she was going to be sick. "It was a crappy no win situation, and there was nothing else we could have done."
"There is no we." May ground out. "You weren't really there." She didn't know why she was getting so angry about it. She just wanted Daisy to drop it.
Daisy caught herself before she snapped back. That had put enough of a rift between them. She took a deep breath to calm down. "You're right, I wasn't there." She admitted, "But I felt it, I saw everything, and I didn't even know where I was. I was looking for a solution just like you did, and there wasn't anything anyone in your place could have done for Katya."
Daisy saw her jaw working for a long moment, then May looked at her, eyes blurred with tears. "Katya?"
Shit. "That was her name." Daisy said quietly, shamefully. "Jaiying told me." God, it was so tragic. Different circumstances, different choices, and maybe that little girl would be alive now. She could see that May was thinking the same thing, and Daisy leaned forwards and pulled her into another hug. "I love you." She mumbled into the shoulder she had shot.
"How can you say that?" May whispered, remaining limp in the embrace. "After seeing- that?"
Daisy was silent for a little while, though Melinda could feel her breathing. "Because you're more than what happened in Bahrain." Daisy finally said. "You're still the same person. Bahrain didn't change you as much as you think. Even after that you wouldn't leave SHIELD. You came back into the field. You still protect everyone."
Melinda fought to keep her voice steady. "What else was I supposed to do?"
Daisy laughed quietly. Of course she'd say that. "I love you." She said again, squeezing her arms tighter, and May found the strength to return the hug.
Melinda sighed, enjoying the contact for once. The only thing she had been able to do when hugged lately was tolerate it, but this was actually kind of nice. It was Daisy. " 'love you too." She mumbled, and Daisy smiled.
It was two nights later when Daisy woke in a panic. Her heart was racing, and she was a hair away from inadvertently causing another quake. Not good. She began her breathing exercises to calm down, and decided that the best way to get back to sleep would be to make herself a cup of green tea. She stood with a stretch and pulled on her SHIELD robe.
The kitchen was dark when Daisy entered, but even if it was pitch black she would have recognised the presence on the couch. Daisy didn't speak.
May's eyes turned to her, unsurprised. She had probably heard her coming. "Couldn't sleep?" She asked softly, even though they both knew the answer.
"Not really." Daisy replied, voice equally hushed. "You?"
A shake of the head.
Daisy sighed softly. "Tea?"
Melinda actually smiled a little. "Sure."
Once the kettle had boiled and Daisy had filled two mugs, she sank into the couch beside her S.O. Neither felt the need to speak, simply taking comfort from the others presence. Despite all the fear it brought her in the middle of the night, Daisy was grateful that she understood May better now, and more than anything, she was glad that she could help her.
A pause. Uncertain. "Yeah. You?"
"Same." Delivered with a sad smile, and the wish that they didn't have to admit it.
The two sighed in tandem and each took a swig of their tea. At least, they thought, it was better than dealing with it alone.