Sooo, this has been sitting in my fic box for over a year. Set post Season 2, in that imaginary time before May's holiday.
They weren't even on a mission when it happened.
The actual mission had been completed the day before, and the team was having one day off. They were in Thailand, mostly dispersed to look at the different market stalls. Coulson was off trying the different local foods, Simmons and Fitz had been entranced by a stall selling small wooden puzzles, both fiddling and moving the small blocks in the hopes of unlocking them.
May smirked seeing them, turned to Daisy and said, "They're both going to lose their wallets in ten minutes."
Daisy laughed. "Yeah. Hell, if I needed the money I'd do it myself." May raised an eyebrow and she grinned. "What? I don't."
May shook her head and the two continued down the stalls. May asked a few questions in Thai on Daisy's behalf, but otherwise remained silent.
Something about the bustle, the searing heat, the smell and the atmosphere made Daisy feel alive. Everyone was moving so fast she almost lost May half a dozen times. Her SO seemed happy to wait for her though, find her in the thick crowds despite the fact that they both knew that Daisy was more than capable of looking after herself.
Daisy was grateful. She was beyond grateful, she had no idea how May could forgive her so easily for what she had done and said. She hadn't even spoken of it, had just let it go and continued their training as before, though with some discussion of integrating Daisy's powers into her standard combat training.
Daisy wanted to apologise, but at the same time she was terrified of bringing it up. She felt like mentioning it would make May say, 'You're right, that was a horrible thing to do, I'm out.'
So she was a little sensitive. So what?
Daisy was caught between being lost in her own thoughts and navigating the crowd and she almost missed what happened next.
May was looking at a display of brass compasses and watches, picking up the odd one to feel the weight and turn it over in her hands. It was Coulson's birthday soon, Daisy dimly registered. The next second a small child tore through the crowds and clung to May's leg, sobbing in Thai that Daisy couldn't make the barest sense of.
What did surprise her was when May gasped in surprise and violently shoved the child away, stumbling backwards into a couple of people, eyes wide.
Daisy caught the girl before she hit the ground. "May, what the hell?!" She said angrily, but when she turned to glare at her SO, she was nowhere to be found.
Daisy looked back to the little girl. She was crying even more now. In between senseless sobs, Daisy caught the word 'mama'.
"Oh," Daisy said softly. "You've lost your mama, huh?" She knew that the girl couldn't understand her, but she kept her voice warm anyway. The girl looked up at Daisy, her tears pausing to make way for her curiosity.
Daisy smiled encouragingly. She had spent a lot of time with crying kids. Gently she picked the girl up, putting her high on her shoulders. She could hear the girl's laughter and knew that it was the right choice. She turned carefully, holding her legs firmly lest she fall down, and less than a minute later there was a shriek from above Daisy's head and a louder cry of, "MAMA!"
Seeing the woman hurry towards them, Daisy could understand why the kid had clung to May. In stature, rough clothing, and build, the two looked fairly similar.
Daisy smiled as the woman spoke to her in rapid Thai, smiling and almost in tears, clinging to her daughter's hand now. "Sorry," She grimaced, "I don't really speak Thai."
Thankfully she seemed to understand, and settled for shaking Daisy's hand rapidly, and leaving. Daisy watched them go with a smile, waving to the little girl. She was cute. What was May's problem?
Idiot. Daisy cursed herself, now looking around for her, even though she knew deep down that May was long gone. How could she have missed it? Of course kids freaked her out, Bahrain had destroyed her.
She shook herself and pulled out her phone. Daisy knew that the odds of May actually answering if she called were slim to none, so instead she opened up her GPS tracker. The least she could do was make sure she was okay.
Melinda May sat under a tree in the park, looking over the water. It was so calm. Maybe by sitting here for a while she might start to feel some of that calm herself.
Melinda knew that Daisy would figure it out. That kid was almost annoyingly perceptive. She might feel better about it if she didn't already know what Daisy thought of her after finding out what happened. By some miracle she was still happy to spend time with her though, and May was grateful for that, at least.
Melinda sighed, looking out over the water. She didn't want to feel this way. She didn't used to. She had wanted children once upon a time. She had fantasised about what her children would be like. Now every time she thought about having young children, that little girl's manic smile was all she could see.
She shuddered, taking a deep breath. Melinda knew deep down that she was broken. But that didn't mean that she wasn't useful. That didn't mean she couldn't still love her team with all that was left of her heart. She could. She could keep them safe.
Melinda was so lost in thought that she didn't hear the approaching footsteps.
Daisy sank to the ground next to her with the bag she had gotten from a street stall selling iced fruit. "So," She said, surprisingly gently. "Kids, huh?"
Melinda gave no response. She didn't want to do this. She knew she deserved any punishment her mind decided to inflict. The nightmares, the fact that she could barely look at a child while keeping her heartbeat under control. The hole she felt constantly. She deserved all of it. She didn't need Daisy to tell her that.
"I get it, you know." Daisy murmured, nibbling on some starfruit. "Every time I see kids with their parents I get super bitter. Especially if they misbehave." She laughed. "Like, I get angry at toddlers. Toddlers May."
Daisy might have been imagining it, but that could have been a smile. "I won't tell anyone." She promised. "I swear." Daisy hesitated, then grabbed a piece of pineapple, all but swallowing it whole. "I know eating so much is kind of ruining me trying to make you feel better, but seriously, you have to try this."
Something about how very Daisy that was made Melinda feel much better than she thought possible, and she let that small smile through. She shook her head when Daisy offered the bag again, but the dark shadow over her had abetted somewhat.
Daisy shuffled a little closer and sighed, letting her head fall sideways onto May's shoulder. It was as close to a hug as she dared get.
Melinda stilled briefly, hardly believing that Daisy would dare get so close, knowing what she had done, what she was. For whatever strange reason though, Daisy didn't seem to care. Unable to hold back, she relaxed and let her own head gently rest atop Daisy's.
Daisy smiled and resisted the urge to wrap her arms around her. The last thing she wanted was for this to end. So she kept still, and stayed quiet, savouring this unfamiliar feeling. The ache in her bones that said she never needed to move again. Because this was where she belonged.
Melinda hated herself for needing this. She hated herself because she had let Daisy fill the hole a bit. She hated herself for being so weak, and for thinking she could heal. For wanting to.
Why was Daisy doing this? Why was she trying to make her feel better? She should be afraid, disgusted, furious. May had killed a little girl, an Inhuman, just like her. "Why don't you hate me?" She murmured, realising a moment too late that she had said that out loud.
"What?" Daisy actually turned her head, and May pulled away, eyes suddenly downcast. She stared for a moment, processing.
Daisy laughed nervously. "I'm kind of confused here, I mean... who threw who ten feet through the air?" It was said jokingly, but the undercurrent tension was there.
Melinda swallowed. "That was different."
Her hands clenched. "You thought you were doing the right thing. Me- I..."
Daisy's eyes were soft. "You didn't have a choice. I know you, if there was anything else you could have done..."
May stayed quiet. Daisy knew exactly what she was thinking. That she should have been faster, better, something. Something that would have given her a choice.
Daisy sighed. "You're wrong, by the way." She murmured. "I didn't think I was doing the right thing. Everything about it felt wrong." She bit her lip. "But I thought- I thought I was supposed to stick with Jaiying. I wanted my parents for so long, and I ignored how wrong it felt. I- I hit you- because I thought that if I did as she said it'd feel less wrong." Daisy swallowed the bile, staring dead ahead. "All it did was make me feel sick."
She continued to look out over the sun filled park, the trees, the empty pathways, the water birds on the edge of the lake. Daisy wished she could feel it.
After a minute, a gentle hand was placed on her shoulder. Daisy beat down the fear and turned to look at May.
Her face was soft. "I forgive you."
Daisy gnawed on the inside of her lip. "Why?"
"She was your mother." Melinda tried not to show how that hurt to say. "If it was anyone else, you never would have done it. She manipulated you. Used you. She knew how far you'd go for her. You're more than that. Even though it happened, I still-" The words stuck in her throat, even though they both knew what they were. May withdrew her hand. Speaking without thinking wasn't one of her habits.
To her surprise, Daisy smiled. "There you go then." She said.
Melinda frowned in confusion, then grinned and hung her head. "You tricked me." Into admitting why Daisy couldn't hate her either.
Daisy laughed quietly. "Hey, like I said, I know you." She teased. "You're too stubborn to listen to anyone but yourself."
"Smart ass with pineapple." Daisy grinned, inhaling another piece.
With a glare, Melinda snatched the bag from her, stealing the second to last piece. Far from irritating Daisy, this just made her laugh, but that wasn't a reaction she could really be disappointed with.
Daisy swiped the last piece, still smiling. "How long until we have to meet the others?"
May glanced at her watch. "A few hours." She said, taking a bite of the fruit. She raised an eyebrow in appreciation. "Wow."
Daisy grinned. "Told you."
Melinda rolled her eyes, but her own bitterness couldn't override how good the fruit was, and she finished it off quickly, ignoring the smirk on Daisy's face.
The two sat in silence for a while, taking in the scenery some more, enjoying the shade, the bird calls, the stillness.
Daisy was the one to break the silence. "Tai chi?" She offered quietly. They hadn't trained together since... Sif and the Kree, really.
Daisy didn't anticipate how much May's smile would light up her face. Didn't realise how much she had missed this too. "I'd like that."
Melinda smiled wider at how enthusiastically Daisy jumped to her feet, and after getting their breathing steady enough, the two began. This sense of peace wasn't one Melinda had felt enough. She knew the rest of the world still existed, with all it's problems, and she knew she would have to face them, but for now, she was happy.
She may not have ever had children of her own. She may never be able to now. But no matter what anyone else said, in her heart, Melinda knew. Daisy was her kid.