It ended up being a number of emotions that influenced Daisy's decision to snoop through May's bunk. Anger. Guilt. Loneliness. Sadness. Desperation. Regret. Love. All directed at her missing S.O.
Daisy wasn't sure why she was there. She could be simple and just claim it was because she missed May, but that wasn't entirely it.
She was angry too. May hated anyone going into her bunk, so it felt like a petty piece of revenge against her for leaving for so long. And it had been so long now. Long enough that Daisy found herself getting used to the base without her there. Getting used to training alone.
But then some mornings it hit her so hard that she wanted to cry. Things happened and all she wanted to do was rant at May about them, cos that always made her feel better. But she couldn't. May was gone.
She didn't know what she was looking for in May's bunk. Some reminder maybe? Some sign that she was coming home. It had been a tough day. Daisy felt like she'd been having a lot of those lately.
She sat on the floor by the bed and hugged May's pillow to her chest. "I miss you." Daisy murmured, sniffing. "I know you'd say I'm being stupid, but I really miss you." She closed her eyes. "I-I wanna hate you for leaving, but I can't. It's so much harder without you. I- May, I'm sorry, for everything." She hated herself for feeling like this. For needing to say it. "I miss you."
Daisy lowered herself onto the floor, resting her head on the pillow, breathing in May's scent and wishing she was there. When she looked up from the standard grey of the pillow, it was to see something under the bed. "Huh?" She sniffled.
Daisy reached for it, half hoping it was a satellite phone with May's location wired in.
No such luck.
It was an old shoebox. Daisy frowned. It looked like garbage, but May was so tidy with everything else she owned. It felt out of place.
But, Daisy thought bitterly, it didn't have any more dust on it than anything else in here. Since it had been almost six months since she had seen or spoken to May. Feeling angry enough to snoop, she opened the box, not sure what she expected to find.
Envelopes. About a dozen, some a little older than others, all neatly addressed. Daisy picked them up, flicking through them. 'Nat', 'Clint', 'Maria', whoever they were. 'Mom', 'Dad', 'Andrew', were at least clear. 'Phil', 'Jemma', 'Leo', their teammates. 'Skye Daisy'. Her? What was all this? Why did May have a box of letters under her bed?
Incredible as it was, Daisy was hesitating. The letter had her name on it, yet she felt like reading it was wrong. In the end her curiosity won out, and she carefully peeled the envelope open, so that she could seal it again if necessary.
Whatever Daisy had expected, it wasn't this.
'If you're reading this then I'm probably dead.' Daisy couldn't deny the swooping sensation in her stomach when she read those words, even though she knew they weren't true. She knew what this was now. This was goodbye. In case something happened to her.
'I know you'll be able to keep going without me, Daisy. Make sure you look after the others. Don't let Phil do anything too stupid, and make sure Fitz and Jemma are eating when they get stuck in their experiments. You know how they get sometimes.' Daisy sighed. Instructions. Like always. Do this, do that. Even in what was effectively her will, May was still holding her at arms length. 'Look after yourself too though. I wouldn't be able to forgive myself if you got hurt because I wasn't around to protect you.' Daisy squeezed the pillow tightly.
'I know I'm not good with words, and I know I'm not what you wanted in a mother, but I need you to know that I'm so proud of you for everything you are, everything you've become. I know you think you learned a lot from me, but the truth is that I learned so much more from you. You helped show me that I can be happy again, how I can move on from all the terrible things that I've done, and I can't thank you enough for that.' A tear dripped onto the paper, making the ink splotch a little. Daisy sniffed, wiping her nose on her sleeve. 'It was an honour to train you.'
'Before Bahrain, I used to spend a lot of time imagining what my daughter would be like. How she would look. Her interests. Would she take after me? Now when I imagine her, all I can think of is you. Any parent would be proud of you, for being so strong and brave and smart. I'd tell you to never change who you are, but I don't think you need me to tell you.'
'I can promise you, Daisy, if I died to keep you, or any of our team safe, then I don't regret it at all. I love you all so much, and I hope you live a good life. Don't make the mistakes I did.'
'I love you, more than I could ever say.'
'P.S. If I'm not dead, and you found this because you're snooping in my room, do me a favour and never mention it.'
Daisy stared at the letter for a long moment, then her face crumpled and she started sobbing into the pillow. It was too much, it was too close. She hadn't seen May in months, had almost convinced herself that she could hate her for it, and then she found this? It wasn't fair, she just missed her. God, she missed her so much, she just wanted to talk to her, tell her how much she meant to her too, because what the hell was that crap about not being the mom she wanted?
Daisy squeezed her eyes shut and breathed in the faded scent of the pillow, trying to pretend that May was here, and she could hug her and talk to her again. "Come home." She whispered between hiccups. "Please."
"Daisy?" Fitz's head stuck through the door, "You in-" He stopped at the sight of her. "What's wrong?"
Daisy's lip trembled. She felt so pathetic. Sitting on the floor, sobbing her eyes out over a letter she wasn't even supposed to read, hugging her teammates pillow. "I-I... Fitz- I just-..."
Before she could say anything else Fitz had sunk to his knees beside her and pulled her close. "I know." He murmured. "I miss her too."
"I hate her."
"Don't say that, you don't." Fitz protested with a hint of a smile.
Daisy buried her head in his shoulder, trying to calm down. "She left us."
Fitz sighed. "Believe me, I know how that feels." He murmured. "But, well, sometimes people need to do things for themselves."
Daisy sniffled. "How's Jemma?"
"Getting better, I think. She just needs rest for now." Fitz eyed the letter which had fallen to the floor. "What's that?" He asked, reaching for it.
"Don't!" Daisy cried, snatching it away. "Please."
"Okay." Fitz conceded, trying not to sound annoyed. "Just- tell me what's wrong."
Daisy pulled away enough that she was cuddled up to his side instead of hiding in his shoulder. "Just having a bad day." She mumbled.
"Got that." Fitz grinned. "But what else?"
"I-" Daisy hesitated. "I was... I guess, just feeling kind of lonely." She confessed. "A-and I thought maybe if I was here, I'd miss May a little less." The letter was tight in her grip. "I-I found..." She pursed her lips, trying not to cry again.
Daisy swallowed the lump in her throat. "May, she- she's written letters, t-to everyone. A- kind of- in case of her d-death, thing."
"Oh." Fitz said. "And you- you read yours?"
"I didn't know what it was." She said in a hollow voice. "I didn't... I just wanna talk to her. I..." She trailed off.
Fitz paused. "What would you say?"
"I dunno." Daisy sniffed. "I- some of the things she wrote... she's wrong, I just need her to know that."
Fitz thought. "May wrote you a letter." He said slowly. "Why don't you write one back? Might help you feel better."
"It's not like she'll ever get to read it, unless she comes back some day."
"She's coming back Daisy."
"You don't know that."
"And you don't know that she isn't."
Daisy bowed her head. "I hate this." She mumbled.
"Me too." Fitz agreed, tightening his sideways hug. "But we got Jemma back. We're on a roll."
Daisy melted further into his arms. Fitz was always great for hugs, she'd figured that out quickly. "One win isn't a roll."
"It could be the start of one."
Daisy couldn't help but grin at Fitz's dogged determination. It was so... him to say something like that. She loved that about him. Then she thought to May's letter. All the things that she had never said, that she was too scared to say, but unable to die without them knowing. 'Don't make my mistakes.' May had said. "Thanks for everything Fitz." Daisy said softly. "You're the best family I've ever had." Now for the hard one. "I love you."
"Love you too." Fitz mumbled without hesitation, and they both smiled warmly. It was nice to say it. To hear it.
Melinda didn't even feel angry. She didn't feel upset, or frustrated, or betrayed. She just felt tired. She was so so tired of things always ending up this way. She just wanted a break. Some respite from this. And yeah, she'd technically been on vacation for months now, but it didn't feel like it. She just ached in some point deep in her core.
She was so tired.
"Hey," Daisy caught up with her walking to her bunk. "I-I know you probably wanna be alone right now." She said softly, "But if you need anything, if there's anything I can do... you know where to find me." She hesitated for a moment when they stopped, then drew into a gentle hug. "I really missed you."
Melinda was too surprised to reciprocate, but that didn't mean it wasn't nice. "Thank you." She muttered as Daisy pulled away. I missed you too. She thought.
Far from seeming put off by her lacklustre response, Daisy smiled. "I'm glad you're back." She said in farewell, leaving May to her own devices.
Despite everything that had happened, it did make Melinda feel a little better.
It was a little over a week before she noticed the difference in Daisy's treatment of her. She was... really nice. Asking how she was feeling, how she was settling in. She was also much more affectionate than she remembered. Pats on the back, smiles, hugs were now an almost daily occurrence. It was a little strange. May realised with a sardonic grin, that it felt like a little kid who had broken something. Trying to make up for it before their parents found out.
Melinda shook herself out of the thought. Daisy wasn't a child, she certainly wasn't her child. And she wasn't Daisy's parent. She wasn't anyone's parent, and that was for the best.
She was coping though. As always, it was taking life one day at a time. But it was hard. Holidaying with Andrew was the first time in a long time that Melinda had opened her heart entirely, and it hurt. More than she'd like to admit, even to herself.
Lying awake for the third night in a row, May decided that there was no point in staring at the ceiling for a moment longer. No point in feeling sorry for herself.
With a sigh, she stood, only to promptly sink to her knees and pull the ratty old shoebox out from under her bunk. There was no point in pretending that Andrew's letter was going to be read. Not this one at least. With everything that had happened, she would need to pen a new one. Not tonight though. For tonight she would just destroy the old one, and mourn for the man she had lost.
Opening the box, however, Melinda found that something was out of place. Skimming through the letters, she found that one was missing. And a new one had appeared in it's place.
A new one reading 'May' on the envelope.
She stared at the handwriting, thinking of the letter that had vanished. Well, it at least explained why Daisy had been acting so oddly.
May wet her lips, looking at this letter than Daisy had clearly intended for her to find. Her free hand closed into a fist. She was scared. Facing down five hydra agents, fine, but a letter from one of the people she loved the most in the world? Terrifying.
She wasn't sure how long she stared at it without opening the letter. Sitting on the floor of her bunk in the oversized shirt and tights she wore to bed, Melinda hadn't felt this vulnerable in a long time. After a while she decided to bite the bullet, reprimanding herself for feeling so apprehensive about it in the first place. Even if she still wasn't sure what to expect.
Melinda peeled the envelope open, focusing on keeping her breathing under control.
'So I know you said not to mention it, but I'm not saying anything, so technically this doesn't count.' That made her smile despite her nerves. It was exactly the kind of thing Daisy would do when given an instruction she didn't want to follow. Find a loophole and exploit it.
'I guess I don't really know if you'll find this either, since I'm not sure if you're coming back. You've been gone so long now that I'm almost used to you not being around. It sucks though. I hope you come home soon.' Well. Now she felt like the worst person alive. 'But only if you want to, I know you need the time away. I just miss you.'
'I do need to tell you some stuff too though. Because you're wrong about a lot of things. I learned a hell of a lot more from you than how to throw a decent punch and control my heartbeat. Our whole world fell apart, and for so long you were all that kept me steady. You don't know how much that means. For the millionth time I'd found a family, and then it fell apart, just like all the others.' Melinda could see the dried ink spot and realised that Daisy must have been in tears at the thought. 'But it wasn't like the others, because even after everything I thought that family was fell apart, you stayed. You were still there.'
'Training with you has been amazing. Not just because you're awesome.' That got a grin. 'I've just loved getting to spend time with you. Getting to know you. It's funny that I used to think training with you would suck. It ended up being the most fun I'd had in a long time.'
'You think you're not the mom I wanted, and I guess that's kind of true.' Melinda was past her heart breaking at that point. She knew that she wasn't anyone's ideal mother. 'Jaiying was exactly what I'd always imagined. But you were better than that. You helped me believe in myself, you showed me that real family doesn't go away. Whenever I was having a bad day you'd know, and you'd turn it around before I could figure out how.' Melinda sniffed, forcing the tears back. Daisy would not make her cry. 'Even after meeting Jaiying, after you left, you still feel more like my mom than anyone else ever has. I'm sorry for attacking you, and everything I said. I know there's no excuse, and you don't have to forgive me. I just need to apologise.' Melinda resolved them to tell Daisy that she was forgiven the next time she saw her. She had assumed that Daisy knew, but apparently not.
'I love you too, so much more than I can say. You're everything I ever wanted in a mom, and more. You've been my friend too, you've done so much.' This ink spot wasn't dried, and Melinda realised dimly that she was crying. 'All I can do now is hope that you'll come home, so I can try to deserve you.'
Controlling her breathing was a lost cause. Stopping the tears was harder than Melinda thought it ever would be. Daisy. God, she loved that kid. Who else would do this?
She needed to talk to her. See her. Tell her that there was nothing Daisy had done that she held against her. Apologise for staying away for so long. Even if she was sure half of that would be lost along the way, she still had to try.
May glanced at the clock and saw that it was almost four thirty in the morning. Good. As far as she could tell, Daisy still got up to train at the same time that they had used to, even in her absence. It was catching sight of her reflection in the mirror on the door that Melinda sighed. She was a mess. Red eyes, and nose, messy hair. All the hallmarks of crying over... this. She had to retain at least a little dignity. The box was pushed back under her bunk, and Daisy's letter was folded and put under her pillow.
Melinda took a breath and made her way to the bathroom to wash her face and brush her hair a little. Just so she looked like a little less of a disaster.
It was still dark. The rest of the base was asleep, so the corridors had that quiet stillness to them that they rarely had at any other time. The air was a little cooler and fresher than the slight stuffiness of her bunk. She must have been focusing on that too much, because she didn't hear someone else until it was too late.
"May!" Daisy was surprised to see her by the common area. "I haven't seen you up this early in ages!"
The second the words were out of her mouth, Daisy realised that maybe they weren't the best decision. May's head was bowed, she was still in her sleeping gear, and from the little Daisy could see of her face, it looked like she'd been crying.
Shit. She hated this so much. She hated seeing May this way. "Are you okay?" She asked softly. "I- I can make you some tea, if you want."
May shook her head quietly. She wanted to talk to Daisy, she did. But she felt so vulnerable right now. She didn't feel like Daisy's SO, she didn't feel like 'Agent May'. She felt... small.
Daisy gnawed on the inside of her lip. "I- I know you're upset about Andrew." She murmured. "And I know I'm probably the last person you wanna talk to, but I'm right here if there's anything I can do." She let her hand rest on May's shoulder for a moment. She wished there was more she could say.
May shook herself. Everything that needed to be said between them had already been said. She didn't know what she was worried about. She took a breath. "Daisy... You're exactly who I wanted to talk to."
"Huh?" It wasn't until Daisy met her eyes that she understood what May was talking about. When she did, she saw her own feelings reflected there. The uncertainty, the fear. The love. "Oh." She laughed nervously, glancing to the ground. "You found it, huh?" So this wasn't about Andrew.
Softly. "Just now."
"Right." Daisy blushed a little, but she was glad that May had found it. Glad that she knew everything now. She smiled sheepishly. "I don't know what to say." She admitted, looking back up.
Melinda smiled too, shrugging.
Neither were sure who initiated the hug, but it was close and warm and something they both desperately needed. "I really missed you." Daisy murmured, burying her face in the crook of her neck.
May's hand cradled her head. "I know. I'm sorry."
"It's okay." Daisy assured, melting into the embrace. It was a cruel twist of fate that May gave the best hugs. "I'm not mad. I just missed you."
"I missed you too." Melinda mumbled. She sighed contentedly. It felt nice to say it. She felt the other words, filling up her mind, her heart, wanting out. She could do this. "I love you." She said softly, and a moment later realised that Daisy had said the exact same thing at the exact same time.
Daisy laughed and felt May laughing too. "Sap."
"You're exactly as much of a sap as I am."
"Am not." Daisy protested, pulling away. "You don't see me with a pile of mushy letters under my bunk."
"I wouldn't know." May said sardonically. "I haven't looked."
"'Cos I never abandonedyou for months to tan on some island!"
Melinda rolled her eyes. "I didn't abandon you, don't be dramatic."
Daisy snorted. "Yes mom." She didn't miss how that made May smile a little wider. Nor how much saying it warmed her own heart. Daisy smiled. "Hey, do you, maybe, wanna train together?" Despite everything, she was still a little nervous to ask. It had been so long.
There was a glimmer of something in May's eyes. "I'd like that." She said softly. "I'll go change. See you in ten. You'd better not have let up on your practice."
Daisy smirked. "Hey, we'll see who's been letting up, agent 'six months away'."
"Let it go Daisy."