a.n. Collab with Marvelthismarvelthat, ~marvelthismarvelthat, half of this is her most excellent work! Ff just doesn't have a collaboration option, or we'd both be publishing.
Melinda May stared out the windshield of her SUV with sunken eyes. She was tired of this. She was so goddamn tired of chasing every loose end, anything they could use to try to find Daisy.
She didn't know what had happened to her. They had broken Hive's control and she seemed like she was back to herself again. Daisy needed to stay in containment to be sure, but it was mostly a formality. Hive was dead, and Melinda was so happy that she was back, that Daisy was alive. Despite that feeling in her gut telling her that the whole thing could only end badly. Daisy had been home.
Then she wasn't.
Daisy had broken out of her containment in the night, after days of total silence and near catatonia. She had broken out when no one was around to see her, no one was there to stop her. She left without damaging anything other than the containment cell. She hacked the doors. She took nothing.
She just left.
That was a year ago.
The day after she had left, Jemma confirmed that there was no more of Hive in her system, meaning that Daisy had left of her own free will. Which was meant to be a good thing, but May couldn't help but think that at least if she'd been under Hive's control, they'd know where she was. If she was under Hive's control, they might have her back by now.
They had chased down every lead. Asked every source. But there was nothing. No trace. Like Daisy had just disappeared.
So she was doing her job. Melinda kept doing her job, because at the end of the day, that was what was left. Not friends, not family, her job. And someone had been hacking their system.
Melinda spotted the van from half a mile away. She ignored the painful jolt in her heart when she realised what this reminded her of. Someone hacking SHIELD from a van. She shook herself. Maybe this person could help them find Daisy, bring her home.
She crept up silently, keeping an eye out for any surveillance on the van, but saw none. Keeping out of sight, she approached, slapping one of Fitz's machines on the hood. Now it wouldn't be able to go anywhere.
May drew her ICER and counted to three, throwing the door open.
Her eyes widened. "Daisy?"
This was even more deja vu. It had been so long now. Daisy wore civilian clothes, more casual than she could remember seeing her since SHIELD had fallen. Her hair had grown out too. If Melinda didn't know any better, she'd say she had travelled back in time.
Daisy stared at her in shock. Melinda saw her eyes dart to her and then away, to the gas pedal out of her reach. The panic was palpable, and before May could say anything Daisy had lashed out with her powers, slamming down the pedal.
She looked even more agitated when it didn't work, shaking with fear. "M-May, I-I… please, just let me go."
"No." Melinda said firmly, climbing into the van. She could see Daisy eyeing up the open door, trying to figure out if she could get past her. She closed the door, then held up her hands, putting the ICER down. "This is what you've been doing?" She asked softly. "Hacking SHIELD from your van? Bit of a step down."
Daisy didn't say anything. She only stared, heart racing. "Please, I'm not hurting anyone. I-I know I can't make what I did better, but… please, I'm trying to help people."
When May moved closer she recoiled. "I'm not going to hurt you." Melinda tried to assure. When she took another crouched step closer to where Daisy was sitting, she raised her hand, blew the door off the van, and darted outside.
"Daisy!" Melinda quickly gave chase, following her through back alleys and empty buildings. "Don't make me shoot you!" She cried desperately, wanting nothing more than for her to just stop.
Instead of helping, this just made Daisy run faster, getting enough of a gain on May that she could collapse a dumpster behind the condemned restaurant she found herself at. She took a moment to catch her breath, then headed for the window on the adjacent wall, ignoring the obvious front door. With a bit of luck she could double back to her van and be out of the city before May knew what had happened.
When she was halfway out the window, Daisy remembered that being lucky wasn't one of her talents. "You even remember who taught you this trick?"
Crap. She hadn't. "Please." Daisy mumbled, wanting nothing more than to just launch into May's arms and tell her how sorry she was. "I can't." Couldn't look at her. Couldn't say that she was sorry, because Daisy knew in her heart of hearts that it didn't matter. What she did was unforgivable.
"Can't what?" May sounded angry. That was okay. She deserved all of it, and more. "Can't make eye contact all of a sudden? Can't stay in one place long enough for us to find you?"
Daisy felt tears welling up in her eyes. "Just let me go."
Daisy swallowed. "I know, I deserve to be locked up, but I'm doing good out here. I'm helping people, let me at least try to make up for everything I've done."
May was silent, and just as Daisy was about to vault back through the window and start running again, a quiet, almost unrecognisable voice pleaded, "Come home. Please."
Daisy finally raised her head, to see Melinda May's eyes swimming with tears. She bit her lip to keep her own tears at bay. "I can't."
"You can, Daisy."
She shook her head. "What if he's not all gone? What if I…"
"Hive's dead." May said firmly, at odds with the crushed look on her face. "It can't control you any more."
"You don't know that!" Daisy snapped, "He could just be waiting for me to get back in the base, I-I can't risk it, I can't…"
Melinda fought to keep from crying. "Is that really it? You're scared you'll lose control?"
Daisy felt sick. "I can't go back. How am I supposed to-" she held back a sob. "After what I did? I almost killed you, all of you. I- can't."
"I miss you." Melinda said plaintively. "We all do." She wiped her nose, cursing herself for breaking first. "Why were you hacking SHIELD?"
Daisy sniffled. "I wanted to make sure you guys were okay. I've been watching for a bit every day since I left."
May scoffed at that. "You wanted to make sure we were okay?! How dare you?" May took a breath to gather herself before continuing tearfully, "You're telling me you watched Fitzsimmons go without sleep for over seventy-two hours multiple times because they were looking for you, and you thought they were fine? That you knowingly stood by as Lincoln struggled to stay sober and as Mack mourned the loss of another friend and you did nothing? Daisy, Coulson called the President for help because he was so desperate to find you. We weren't okay. Not a single one of us."
May paused again and held back more tears as Daisy's arms came to wrap around herself in a desperate attempt to keep it together.
"Daisy, I've spent the past year unable to sleep and pacing the base in the middle of the night because I've been so worried about you. I don't understand how you, a person who is so unfailingly kind and empathetic, could stand by while we hurt this way."
A sob broke its way out of Daisy's throat. "Because I destroy everything I touch. Because every time I close my eyes I can feel Hive digging around in my brain as if he were still there." Daisy's voice shook and she wiped hastily at her face. "I couldn't let myself hurt you more than I already had just because it hurt me to see you all in pain over my leaving. I don't trust myself to not hurt you, I don't think I ever will. And after what I did… I don't deserve to be missed and I sure as hell don't deserve your love."
"I don't give a damn what you think you deserve or don't deserve. Deciding whether you're worth it or not is not your decision, it's ours. And we all choose you over any danger you might bring upon us, Daisy. We don't care that you might put us in danger if it means you're home with us." May's frustration was becoming evident; she was using more words than she'd used in years and she didn't know if they were enough. "What about me? Do I deserve to lose another person I love after all the shit this world has put me through?"
Those words broke any resolve Daisy had about keeping it together, making her sink to her knees as her body shook with sobs. "I'm so, so sorry. I-I… I can't, May. Y-you don't deserve this, but I can't. I can't risk it."
May sighed heavily. "Fine, you want to keep running away? Just GO. But don't you dare say it's because you care. Stop spying on us and move on." Her voice shook with grief and anger. "Just remember that for all the pain Ward and Hive caused us, the pain that you've brought upon us by leaving is much worse than anything they could've ever done. Goodbye, Daisy. Have a nice life."
May squared her shoulders and turned away from the sobbing inhuman quickly, wanting to put some distance between them before her resolve to let the girl go crumbled. Walking away from Daisy was one of the hardest things she'd ever done.
It took May 3 hours, 17 minutes and 39 seconds to compose herself enough to go back to the quinjet and head home to her team. She spent those hours just driving around, trying to swallow down her grief and deciding whether to tell everyone she'd found Daisy but had let her go.
There were no good options. If she told them she'd found Daisy, they'd hate her for letting the girl walk away again, and if she didn't tell them, they'd continue to live with the almost suffocating weight of not knowing whether Daisy was even alive.
But still, May had come to a decision. She just hoped it was the right one.
"May!" Lincoln greeted, jogging across the hangar to walk alongside her. "How'd it go? Did you find the hacker?"
May steeled herself and turned to him. "It was okay. It was just one of those hacktivist kids. I put a nanny bracelet on them and let them be."
She didn't want to lie him or anyone else, but she didn't want to break her team's hearts more than they'd already been broken. Especially not Lincoln's, not after everything he'd been through after Daisy had been possessed by Hive.
Daisy's reappearance and refusal to come home was her burden to bear. No-one else's. No matter how much lying was painfully pulling at her heart.
May was only half listening to Lincoln rambling about what she'd missed this morning in training as they walked through the hangar doors and into the hall towards the common room. She was lost in her own thoughts, replaying her encounter with Daisy over and over.
"May? You okay? You're kind of… zoned out. I mean you're usually quiet but this is different." Lincoln was starting to feel a bit worried. May hadn't so much as reacted when he'd told her Jemma had managed to land his ass on the mats for the first time this morning. He was sure that would've at least gotten a smirk out of the older agent.
"I'm fine, Lincoln." May replied shortly. It wasn't anything against the kid, but she really wasn't in the mood to be around anyone right then. All she wanted was to brief Coulson and head to her bunk to hide for the rest of the day.
Luckily, Coulson chose that moment to stride into the hall from the common room, looking surprised at her presence back on base.
May reached out and squeezed Lincoln's arm. "I'm going to go debrief. Tai Chi, five AM tomorrow and the rest of the week."
Lincoln groaned in response. He hated Tai Chi, though he had to admit, it did help his control. A lot. "Fine."
May let a small, half-hearted smirk rise to her face as the inhuman walked away. Lincoln's reluctance to join her and Elena for Tai Chi in the mornings would never get old.
"What was all that about?" Coulson asked, sidling up next to her with a small grin on his face.
"I'm torturing Lincoln with more Tai Chi."
Coulson let out a light chuckle. Poor Lincoln. "You'd think with how much it's helped him he would have stopped seeing it as torture by now."
May just shrugged.
"You were incredibly radio silent on this mission, even for you. Didn't even let us know you were on your way back. Everything go okay? Did you find the hacker?" Coulson would be lying if he said he hadn't been concerned as the hours passed and May failed to communicate.
The only reason he'd even refrained from sending out a search team was because it was an incredibly simple recon mission and there'd been no reports of suspicious activity in the area May had been in.
"Fine. Just one of those hacktivist type kids. Put an internet nanny bracelet on, so he won't be a problem." There it was again. That tug at her heart over this lie. She wasn't just lying to her best friend, she was lying to a man who'd spent the better part of the last year moving heaven and earth to find the girl he loved like his own daughter.
"Hey, what's going on? Is something wrong?" Coulson frowned, something about May felt… off.
May met Coulson's eyes with a steely glare.
"Is it Daisy again?"
The sizable flinch he got in reply to his question was the only answer he needed.
Coulson sighed. "May, I know this isn't what you want to hear… Hell, it isn't something I even want to think about because I miss her more than I've ever missed anyone, but it's been a year. There's been no trace of her. She's just gone, either because she doesn't want to come home or because she feels that she can't come back. So maybe it's just time that we all let the girl go."
May's eyes filled with tears. She hadn't prepared for the overwhelming surge of emotions that hit her at Coulson's words. This poor man had been through so much and this was how the world chose to repay him. She couldn't help but resent Daisy for it. The kid had known how much Coulson was hurting and she still refused to even let them know she was alive.
"Lincoln's finally doing better with everything, Fitzsimmons have stopped constantly checking the servers tasked with searching for her, Mack is going back out in the field, and Joey and Elena are becoming fully fledged agents. They're healing, slowly but surely, maybe it's time we started healing too." Coulson's voice cracked at the end of the sentence.
May swallowed thickly and took a breath, blinking her tears away. Despite what Coulson was saying, she was sure that he was just as unwilling to heal as she was. Healing meant they'd be opening up the possibility of moving on, of giving up on Daisy coming home, and that was nearly as painful as Daisy refusing to come home earlier that day. But having just walked away from Daisy in the manner that she had and with the words that had been exchanged… She didn't know that they had any other choice. Daisy wasn't coming home, no matter how much she wanted to believe otherwise. Healing was all they had left.
"Fine." May answered in the same instant as she turned to walk away.
She only got a few steps away before she was stopped by a hand on her bicep pulling her back into Coulson's warm embrace.
"I'm sorry. I know how much you love her." Coulson whispered sadly into May's ear. He so wished he could take her pain away, but he didn't know how to.
May returned his hug tightly for a few seconds before she began to feel claustrophobic. The weight of the lie was crushing her chest and it was getting harder to stop herself from breaking down in the middle of the hallway. All she wanted was to hold on to him with everything she had and tell him the truth. But she couldn't do that to him so she shrugged him off before it all became too much to bear.
Giving Coulson a final nod, she took off quickly down the hall towards the bunks, intent on making it to the solitude of her bedroom before the dam broke.
Once in the safety her room, May shut the door and slid down to sit on the floor with her back against it, covering her face with her hands. She was completely drained from the events of the day. Emotionally, she felt like she needed a good cry to get it all out of her system, but the tears just wouldn't come. The exhaustion and resentment were overwhelming.
How could Daisy do this to them? For a year she'd been watching them as they all fell apart because of her disappearance, and she'd done nothing? Did Daisy watch as Jemma broke down in the common room after not sleeping for 72 hours because she was desperately trying to find her? Did she see Coulson staying up countless nights, reaching out to every single intelligence contact he had in hopes of finding her? Did she know Lincoln nearly fell off the wagon before he came to May, desperate for help? How could she have stayed away when Elena spent weeks in critical condition after protecting Jemma and May during a mission? Had she seen how May spent hours just staring at the few pictures they had of the team?
May couldn't understand it. She understood wanting to pull away due to fear of hurting the people you love, but this was just cruel to everyone that loved Daisy. It wasn't fair that Daisy was making this choice for them. It wasn't fair that they'd never see Daisy again, because Daisy thought she knew what was best for them.
Suddenly a sob found its way up her throat and she curled in on herself as tightly as she could, letting the grief come pouring forward. For all the resentment, anger, disbelief and exhaustion she was feeling, the overwhelming feeling of loss was most prominent now. The person loved as a daughter had looked her in the eyes and refused to come home. She was never going to see Daisy again.
The next evening, the common room was bustling with noise and activity at dinner time. It had been weeks since the team had had the chance to just hang out together and take a breath from everything SHIELD related, so they were relishing the opportunity to do so.
May took comfort in the team's chatter surrounding her, their voices providing a welcome distraction from the storm brewing in her mind. Yet for all the comfort she was drawing from them, another part of herself was full of anxiety at their mere presence. She almost wanted to crawl out of her own skin.
"I clearly won that sparring match, Lincoln!" Jemma's voice was quickly rising in volume, taking on the annoyed tone that often accompanied the instances when Lincoln decided being a little shit was his true calling.
"Yeah, because I lost my footing on the edge of the mat! I was a second away from kicking your ass!"
Jemma's disbelieving scoff drew chuckles from everyone in the room except May. "You were not! I had you even before your clumsy self tripped over your own two feet!"
Lincoln spluttered at that. "Did not!"
"Did t-" Jemma wasn't able to finish before Lincoln directed a few calculated sparks at her sides, resulting in a loud squeal that was quickly followed by breathless giggling. "St-oh-ho-hop! Fihihitz, h-help!"
From where he was sitting next to her, Fitz held up his hands and laughed. "I thought you said you were going to kick his ass, Jem!" He had no intentions of rescuing his girlfriend from one of her and Lincoln's pseudo-sibling squabbles; he'd rather not be on the receiving end of Lincoln's tickly sparks from hell.
"Lincoln! Not at the table!" Coulson admonished from the kitchen, immediately making Lincoln stop his attack on Jemma's sides. "And you know, criminals don't typically wait for you to get up when you trip over your own feet. Just saying."
Lincoln grumbled but remained quiet, allowing for other conversations to pick up around the room again as the team began to dig into their meals.
May let a grin play at her lips as she wondered how much of that little squabble had been Lincoln and Jemma's attempt to get her to smile. She'd known Elena and Lincoln had been worried the instant she'd shown up at the gym that morning with red rimmed eyes and an unnatural pallor. When Jemma had come in the gym for sparring an hour later, she'd taken in May's appearance and stubbornly refused to stretch until May allowed her a quick hug. After that, they'd all taken turns making excuses to show up in her vicinity and attempt to strike up a conversation. It was sweet, if not a bit grating on her nerves.
"¿May? ¿Esta bien?" Elena asked, unceremoniously dropping into the seat next to May and smiling at the older agent.
May looked up from her dinner, a glass of scotch, and nodded at the girl, ignoring the way the weight of the day was gripping her chest.
"¿De verdad? Se ha visto triste todo el día." Elena had spent the entire day feeling haunted by the look that had been on May's face since Tai Chi that morning. It was an eerily familiar look that she'd seen far too many times in her life; it was the look of a mother that had lost her child. May had worn that look pretty often in the first couple of months after Daisy left, but it had tapered off until it disappeared. She didn't understand why it was back full force today, when it hadn't even come back on the anniversary of Daisy's disappearance.
"Elena." May levelled the younger agent with a glare to silence her questions. She generally adored Elena's company, but today she just wanted to be left alone.
Elena looked down and frowned, wringing her hands worriedly. "I don't like seeing you hurting."
May opened her mouth to retort, but was spared from it when the plate full of food that Mack was carrying dropped to the ground and shattered as the man was shocked into stillness.
Standing in the doorway to the common room, wearing the same clothes she'd been in the day before, stood Daisy.
Time came to a standstill.
The silence in the room was deafening.
"H-hi." Daisy's shy, tearful voice cut through the air. "I-uh, I… My lanyard still worked so I just… came in."
Daisy took a deep breath and hugged herself tightly, willing herself to stop crying as her body began shaking with quiet sobs.
"I-I'm s-so s-sorry." Daisy stared at the floor and gasped for breath. "I-I just… I'm s-so t-tired. I j-just wanted to come h-home."
At Daisy's words, Jemma sobbed loudly into the hand covering her mouth as she threw her chair back and ran towards Daisy, wrapping her in a tight hug.
Daisy froze, holding her arms away from Jemma's body, unable to react for a second. This was not a reaction she was expecting. She'd expected anger and rejection, not… love. The hug was almost too much to bear, but at the same time it was all she'd wanted for a year. So she threw her arms around Jemma and buried her face in the doctor's shoulder, holding on as tightly as her tired body allowed her to and relished in the first form of physical contact she'd had in a year.
Daisy didn't know how long she'd been holding on to Jemma and sobbing into her shoulder when her legs buckled and gave out from underneath her, bringing them both to the ground. "I-I'm sor-rry."
Jemma just held on tighter and didn't acknowledge her apology.
A few seconds later, Fitz was on his knees by them, gently grabbing Jemma's shoulders and prying her away. "Come on, Jem. You're hogging her."
Jemma let go with a wet laugh and accepted Fitz's outstretched hand, allowing him to help her stand back up. Daisy followed, easing slowly off the ground and wrapping her arms tightly around herself again. Her sobs were now accompanied by hiccups and every fiber of her being was screaming at her to turn around and just run, despite the desperate hug Jemma had received her with. But she didn't. She stood her ground and waited, avoiding eye contact and shaking like a leaf.
Then a different, yet familiar, pair of arms wrapped around her and her racing mind quieted for a second. Lincoln. She was powerless to resist the urge to curl into him and press her ear against his chest, one hand going around his back and the other clutching tightly to the front of his shirt, allowing the sound of his heartbeat combined with his scent to soothe her.
Lincoln took a shaky breath and kissed the top of her head. "I'm so, so glad you're okay." It had been a long year without Daisy, and now he felt like the weight of the world was momentarily off his shoulders.
Daisy sobbed a laugh, pressing closer to him, ignoring the voice that was telling her she had no right to draw this much comfort from his very presence.
He held on for a few more seconds, taking his time to breathe her in and reassuring himself she was okay, before he dropped a final kiss on her head and reluctantly pulled away to allow the others the chance to greet her.
Daisy wiped at her face with her sleeves, still shaking with hiccupping sobs and feeling incredibly overwhelmed but feeling a little bit calmer than she did before. But then Coulson stepped forward, and all the pain and regret that had built up during past year came flooding forward.
After all Coulson had done to protect her and ensure she had a family, how had she repaid him? By running away without even apologising for everything she'd done. He was the closest she had to a father and she'd just thrown that away the instant Hive infected her. Looking at him she felt like the worst person alive.
Coulson approached her cautiously, almost like he thought she was just a figment of his imagination, a treacherous hallucination brought about by some remnant of the GH-325 in his brain. Once in front of her, he froze, not knowing how to even begin to approach this situation. He ached to hug the kid but it didn't take a genius to figure out that Daisy was overwhelmed with everything. He didn't want to push her over the edge and make her retreat further into the shell she seemed to have acquired in the past year; he just wanted this to be a happy moment for her.
Daisy waited a beat, staring at the floor until she couldn't take the suspense anymore and she launched herself at him, latching on tightly and crying into his shoulder. "I'm s-sorry. P-please don't h-hate me."
Coulson returned the hug just as fiercely, taking a minute to process what she'd just said. "Hate you? I could never hate you, Daisy. I love you." He whispered into her ear before kissing her temple.
For a moment, Daisy felt absolved for all she'd done, the relief at his words being as overwhelming as the past day had been. She'd been crying since she stepped into the room but now her tears were those of relief, rather than fear, exhaustion and sorrow. "I love you too."
Pulling away from him, she met his eyes, the first time she made eye contact with anyone that night.
Coulson's hand came up to wipe away the tears that were making their way down her cheeks and tuck a stray strand of hair behind her ear, and then stepped away fully, allowing Daisy to face the other remaining team members.
Next thing Daisy knew she was enveloped in a giant bear hug from both Mack and Fitz.
"W-what I said and did to both of you was unforgivable, and I-I'm so sorry."
Mack took a deep breath, "Daisy, yo-"
"Don't. I know what you're going to say, but I know what I felt when that thing w-" She broke off with a sob. "W-was in my head. If I'm going to be able to forgive myself one day, I need to work for it, please."
Mack nodded quietly and Fitz kissed the side of her head, their arms tightening around her.
Soon, Joey and Elena joined in on the hug, not being able to hold back any longer. They hadn't known Daisy for very long before it all went to hell, but she was the reason they were now part of this family and they'd missed her.
Daisy wasn't sure how much time had passed by the time they finally let go, it could've been seconds or minutes or hours. All she knew was that when Coulson, Jemma and Lincoln had eventually joined in the group hug, Fitz had grumbled loudly and it had made everyone surrounding her laugh. It was a sound that she'd missed more than she dared to admit.
The conversation picked up immediately afterward as the team started filling Daisy in on everything she'd missed during the past year. Daisy stayed silent and tried to follow the conversation as best she could but she was feeling exhausted and overloaded, which wasn't helping her concentration. Plus, she kept loosing track of the conversation because she kept glancing around the room, trying to find the person she'd wanted to hug the most since she'd walked in.
"She slipped out while you were hugging Coulson." Elena whispered quietly from where she sat next to her on the couch and extended her arms for another hug. She'd been watching Daisy for a bit and it didn't take a genius to figure out who the girl was looking for. "It looked like she needed a minute."
Daisy immediately curled against her, letting her head rest against Elena's shoulder. Part of her wondered when Elena had become psychic, but mostly she was just grateful that someone had noticed she was missing May.
"She had a rough day today. Had a distraught look on her face since this morning at Tai Chi. I think it was mostly that she was missing you, though, because the second you walked in that look on her face changed completely." Elena's voice kept low, meant only for Daisy's ears, as she twirled the frayed ends of Daisy's hair around her fingers.
"Thank you… for noticing." Daisy smiled sadly. She knew that look on May's face wasn't just that she missed her. It was the weight of what had happened the day before and she couldn't help but feel guilty about it.
Around them, the room had finally calmed and conversations had become quieter. The team now seemed content to just bask in Daisy's presence, rather than bombard her with information or ask her questions which allowed her to relax. It only took her a few minutes before she was dozing off against Elena.
"You know," Elena's voice had now returned to her normal volume, startling Daisy out of her doze and catching everyone's attention. "You should eat, you look too skinny. Wherever you were, they didn't feed you well."
Lincoln nodded his agreement from his place beside Daisy. "She's right, you know."
"I agree! You've not only lost muscle, but you look like you haven't had a nice meal in months! Which is not good! So I made you this." Jemma said, walking in from the kitchen and handing her a bowl of food. "I don't know if you've ever had-"
"It's oatmeal with peanut butter, Nutella, eggs and a sprinkle of cinnamon. May used to make it for me when she thought I needed a carb heavy meal. It's the only thing she can make without burning." Daisy straightened and reach out for the bowl. Her heart ached. It was the one meal that screamed 'home' to her.
She'd missed the mornings May used to bring her this. It was a carb heavy meal, but it was also a delicious treat that she'd usually inhale.
She wasn't very hungry today though.
And it didn't feel right that it was Jemma bringing it to her instead of May.
"We've all had slop forced on us after training at one point or another this past year. Fun times." Fitz piped up around a mouthful of chips.
"You're the only one that doesn't like it, Fitz." Lincoln teased, glancing at Daisy who was just staring down at the bowl of food in her hand. "You're not hungry?"
"Well at least have a few bites then. Lincoln or Coulson will probably devour anything you leave behind." Jemma's tone left little room for discussion, so Daisy decided to at least try. She knew her friend just wanted to help.
It only took four bites before she just couldn't eat anymore. The 'slop,' as Fitz had put it, wasn't bad or anything, she just hadn't had much of an appetite since the whole Hive thing had happened and, with everything that had happened the past two days, her appetite was even less than usual.
She paused for a second after putting her spoon down, before she hesitantly held the bowl out to Lincoln, who took it with a reassuring smile.
"Do, uh, you guys mind if I head to bed?" she asked, keeping her stinging eyes downcast as she rubbed at them with the back of her hand. She'd felt relatively calm for a few minutes, but suddenly was back to feeling a weight on her chest and the urge to curl up and cry for the rest of the night had increased tenfold. All she wanted was to run and find May.
Coulson frowned at her question and sudden change in demeanour. Had they made her feel pressured into staying longer than she felt comfortable? "Of course we don't. You've had a long day, you need your rest. Your old bunk is still yours, if you want it." He paused as Daisy nodded. "Jemma, do you mind helping Daisy make her bun-"
"It's okay, I can do it myself, I remember were everything is." Daisy's words were said in a rush as she stood and started heading for the door with her eyes still downcast. "Night, guys." And with that she was gone.
The team stared after her in silence, momentarily shocked by her abrupt departure.
Jemma shakily inhaled and tears began running down her face for the second time that night. "W-what's happened to her?"
"I don't know but it's like…" Lincoln trailed off, looking equally as distraught as Jemma.
"Like the world's broken her?" Coulson supplied, a grim look taking over his features. Lincoln and Jemma simply nodded as some of the others murmured their affirmation. He reached out and put a comforting hand on Jemma's shoulder. "Don't worry, she's home now. We can help her heal however we can."
Daisy finally caught May alone when she tried to sneak away to her bunk. She still felt so raw and open, but she needed to talk to her. She waited outside the door to May's room, hidden in shadows, and waited for her.
She didn't have to wait long. When May reached the door, Daisy spoke. "You didn't tell them." She said quietly.
May's shoulders stiffened at her voice, and Daisy realised she hadn't seen her. Her fists clenched and Daisy felt that pang in her chest. "I-" She tried to keep her voice steady. "I'm sorry."
Melinda clenched her teeth and tried not to snap at her. She was just a mess. She hadn't slept at all since finding Daisy, nor in the day before that. She hadn't been able to stop thinking about her. She knew that the others could see something was wrong. She knew she was pale, that her eyes were still bloodshot and swollen from all her tears the night before. The anger was still there, but mostly it was the heartbreak, the loss of that girl who meant so much to her. Now she was just back, and May realised that she'd spent the last twenty-eight hours feeling awful for no reason.
She wasn't angry at Daisy for coming back, she wasn't. She was just too wound up to do this. At least not without crying, and she'd cried enough in the last few days. She clenched her teeth to keep it all in, and hoped that Daisy would take the hint.
Daisy swallowed. She knew May had a right to be angry with her. "Please don't hate me." She mumbled. Her eyes already stung from crying, and she had a feeling she wasn't done yet. "I- you were right, I was being unfair. I-I tried to find you, but by the time I… you were gone."
May bit her lip, silently begging Daisy to just go away. She didn't know how much longer she could stop herself from hugging her, and she knew that once she did that she might never let go. She swallowed the lump in her throat and turned to go into her room, fully intending to lock the door behind her, petty as it was.
Seeing May turn away from her again was the last straw, and with a wet sob, Daisy launched herself at her, desperately clinging to her and sobbing her eyes out.
Melinda only managed to hold onto her composure for half a second when Daisy's arms wrapped around her from behind, so tightly that it was almost painful. Her face crumpled into tears and she spun around, returning the hug just as tightly. May closed her eyes, focusing on the feeling, remembering Daisy. She was back now. Home, where she belonged. With her.
Melinda wasn't sure how long it had been when she realised that both her breathing and her heartbeat were running wild. In the moment after that she realised that Daisy was in the same state. Not that she was surprised. Melinda tightened her arms around her even as her legs gave out and they both sank to the floor. It was stupid and childish, but she felt like Daisy might evaporate if she let go or opened her eyes.
So she didn't.
Daisy was utterly exhausted in every sense by the time she managed to get to her room. She was sore from the trip. Her head hurt from all the crying. Her heart felt like it had cracked in two. She hadn't had this much physical contact in over a year.
She needed to sleep for another year just to catch up.
She opened the door, and was both surprised and unsurprised to see that it was exactly as she had left it. Bed still unmade, her mismatched collection of stuff now covered with a layer of dust. It felt wrong. Like a shirt that didn't quite fit anymore.
The room hadn't changed. She had though.
Daisy shook off the feeling and curled under the blankets immediately, barely taking the time to kick her shoes off.
She was just so tired.
Daisy wasn't sure how long it had been when she woke up, but the cause was digging into her back. She sat up with a groan, reaching blindly for whatever annoyingly hard object was jamming into her skin.
When her hand closed around it, she realised what it was.
A piece of rubble.
She stared at it in the dark, and suddenly the room felt suffocating. Everything felt suffocating. She couldn't stay here with this very clear reminder of everything she had done, everyone she had hurt.
Daisy stood and dragged her blanket with her out the door into the cold base. She didn't care where she was walking to, as long as it was away from here.
It wasn't a huge surprise when she found herself at May's door. After everything that she had been through in the last year, she kind of wanted her mom.
Daisy opened the door as quietly as she could and crept inside, being careful not to wake her. She was fully prepared to curl up on the floor with her blanket when she spotted the couch over by the wall, and silently lay down there instead, letting May's quiet, steady breathing lull her to sleep again.
Melinda woke at the first sound of someone talking in her presence. She was a light sleeper. When she woke though, she realised that it wasn't so much someone talking, and someone whimpering. Her eyes adjusted to the darkness enough that she could see who it was.
Daisy. Asleep on her couch.
So it was real. Daisy was actually home. And she seemed to be having a nightmare, or something.
With barely a hesitation, Melinda stood, her bare feet making no sound as she walked the short distance to the couch. She brushed a strand of hair out of Daisy's face and she whined, leaning in to the touch in a way that made her heart throb.
May turned back to her bed to swipe another blanket, and curled up as close as she dared to Daisy's sleeping form without waking her. The way she unconsciously cuddled up to her was almost more than she could bear. Melinda pressed a kiss to the top of Daisy's head, and let her arms wrap around her. She had missed this kid. So much.
Feeling the weight of Daisy's head against her shoulder, the softness of her hair on her cheek, Melinda found herself nodding off more peacefully than she could remember.
This time Daisy woke up feeling much more comfortable, and deeply content. She blinked her eyes open sleepily and saw that it was a little after four, going by the wall clock. The next thing she noticed was a sound, a presence. She squirmed slightly and realised that the presence was a warm pair of arms around her. The sound was a steady heartbeat, and slow, calm breathing.
Daisy froze. She hadn't expected this. She hadn't thought any of the others would want to get near her again, yet they had all proven her wrong now. May was so warm and comfy, and this was all she'd wanted for so long. Daisy snuggled her face closer and let her eyes flutter shut. She could pretend for just a minute longer.
She let the thoughts about everything build up, let her feelings consume her, and focused only on May's steady breathing. Daisy sighed softly, hating herself for everything. "I'm sorry." She whispered, knowing she was being a coward by not telling May to her face. "I missed you so much."
Daisy stiffened in surprise at the feeling of gentle fingers combing through her hair. "I missed you too." May murmured.
Daisy opened her eyes and turned her head to find familiar brown eyes looking back at her. "I thought you were asleep." She muttered shamefully.
May actually smiled a little. "I thought you were asleep." She said softly.
Daisy bit her lip and looked away. "Sorry." She mumbled, wishing she had the strength to pull away. "I didn't mean to wake you."
Daisy felt tears well up, but she knew there was no way she was getting through this conversation without crying anyway, so… "May, I-I'm so sorry, for everything I did."
"It's okay." She said immediately, like she had expected it. Daisy felt her press a gentle kiss to her hair and bit down hard to keep from crying. "You weren't yourself."
"I was though." Daisy couldn't let any them saying that. "I-I knew who I was, I knew who you were, I… I knew I cared about all of you, it just… it didn't matter." She sniffled and wiped her eyes. "I almost killed all of you, and I thought that was okay. I could have killed all of you, and- I just wouldn't have cared."
Melinda shushed her softly. "Hive did that to you. It was terrible, but it wasn't you, Daisy, and you know it. Hive's dead, it's gone."
Daisy clung tighter, burying her face in May's chest. "I'm still scared. I'm scared he'll come back. I'm scared of what he turned me into." She trembled. "May, I-I'm scared."
Melinda didn't know what to say. She sighed softly. "It's okay." She murmured. "I'm here."
Daisy continued to shake with tears, and May resumed stroking her hair gently. "I'm scared too." She said softly. "I still have nightmares about Bahrain. About Hive turning everyone I care about." She refused to cry. She had no tears left. "I'm scared of something taking you away."
"I love you." Daisy mumbled, not looking at her. She couldn't say it if she had to look at her.
Melinda smiled gently. "I love you too." She murmured. "The base hasn't been the same without you around. I missed the little tremors you make when you're dreaming. That stew thing you can somehow make when we're totally out of food." Daisy snuggled her head into the crook of her neck, and May continued. "That crazy thing you call driving." Daisy snickered. "I missed your constant sneak attacks, and how you'd go out of your way to cheer someone up."
Melinda stopped when the steady flow of Daisy's breathing told her she was asleep. She smiled and softly rested her head on top of Daisy's. "I missed you." She murmured.
A moment later there was a gentle knock on her door. "May? Are you in there? Are we still doing Tai Chi?"
Lincoln. Crap. She had totally forgotten, with everything that had happened. She was pretty impressed that Lincoln had remembered, much less come to find her instead of heading straight back to bed. A moment later the door opened quietly. "May?" Lincoln's head appeared. "You here?" His body quickly followed, and he blinked, eyes adjusting to the dark.
When he saw the two of them, Daisy asleep, half cuddled up to May, his face softened into a smile. May put a finger to her lips, and Lincoln nodded. He gestured to the door, indicating that he could leave, but May shook her head, carefully climbing away from Daisy without waking her.
Lincoln was staring Daisy, still fast asleep, with such entrancement and warmth that Melinda almost rolled her eyes and told them to get a room. Just as she had grabbed her gym clothes and was about to leave, she glanced back at her. She didn't want Daisy to think she'd just left her there for no reason.
May quickly scribbled a brief message on a post-it and stuck the note to Daisy's forehead, getting a sleepy mumble, but nothing more.
Lincoln stifled a laugh at her actions and defiantly refused to be intimidated when she glared at him. May dropped the glare as they left, quietly closing the door behind them. "You still love her." She said to Lincoln softly.
He smiled and shrugged. "Well yeah." He made it sound like it would never be any other way.
May smiled a little too. "You know, I used to think that you didn't deserve her." She admitted. "Now I'm starting to wonder if it's the other way around."
Lincoln laughed. "Aw May, you softie." He teased, earning himself a solid punch on the arm. "Okay, not that soft." He grinned, rubbing his arm.
She rolled her eyes. "Smart ass."
Melinda liked doing her Tai Chi, even now, after everything. Especially now. She had been through the emotional ringer, and she knew that this wasn't the last of it. Tai Chi felt calm though, Tai Chi was peace, no matter what. Tai Chi was Sunday mornings with her mother, it was exam week with Phil freaking out, it was five in the morning with Daisy, it was family.
Lincoln seemed to like it too, underneath it all, and Elena had taken a while to get used to it, but May knew she liked the slow movements as well. Tai Chi had helped Elena master her powers, and she had been eager to try it once Melinda had explained her thinking about controlling her pulse. Lincoln, she thought, just liked the quiet.
Melinda wrapped up the exercise, releasing a long breath. She felt much calmer and more content than she could remember feeling in a long time. "I've got a meeting with Coulson." She said, heading for the showers to change. "I'll see you later."
Despite her exterior, Melinda was afraid. She wanted to tell Phil, she had to tell him. But she was scared to, even knowing he was her best friend.
She stopped in the kitchen habitually, and made a cup of coffee to take with her, as well as her usual tea.
Coulson was standing in front of the wall screen, closing down the various protocols they had installed to find Daisy, when Melinda knocked on the door. "Hey." He greeted with a smile. "You okay? You ran off last night. I was worried."
"I'm fine." She mumbled, handing him the coffee.
His eyes narrowed suspiciously, smelling the drink to be sure. "You made me coffee? What the hell did you do? You haven't made me coffee since you got my arm broken in Lichtenstein."
Melinda rolled her eyes and grumbled, but it did help her feel a little less scared. "How many times do you want me to apologise for that?"
Phil grinned and took a sip of his coffee. "Not asking for an apology for that." He said peacefully. "Just making a point. My limbs are all attached, so I can't help but wonder if you finally pulled off Lincoln's arm."
May rolled her eyes again and he chuckled. "You keep doing that your face will freeze that way."
She crossed her arms. "It'd make it easier to deal with you." She muttered.
Phil smiled and approached, putting his coffee down. She was clamming up. "What's wrong?" He asked softly. "We got Daisy back. Why are you acting like you've still got that weight on your shoulders?"
Melinda was silent, walking around him to the desk and avoiding eye contact. Instead of answering, she took a deep sip of her tea. It burned her throat.
"Mel, you're scaring me." Phil said, following her to where she was leaning. "Whatever it is, just tell me."
May closed her eyes and took a deep breath. Before she could open them again, a gentle hand was placed on her shoulder. She hung her head. "I saw Daisy." She confessed, putting down her cup on the desk.
Phil cocked his head. "So did I, last night."
"No." She corrected. "I mean, I saw her… two days ago."
"What?" The hand withdrew, and ice clutched her heart.
She swallowed. "That hacker."
"It was Daisy?" Melinda nodded. "How'd you talk her into it?"
She frowned. "Into what?"
"Coming home." He made it sound so obvious.
She bit her lip. "Phil… I didn't. She said she couldn't come back, that she thought she'd put us in danger. She was hacking the security feeds to check on us, and… I told her to stop. I told her that if she wasn't going to come back then she should stop pretending to care about us." She willed herself not to get upset. "And I left her crying in some back alley."
There was a silence, during which she dared not meet Phil's eyes. After a moment, his arms wrapped around her, and this time she didn't fight it. "That's why you were so upset when you got back."
Melinda leaned into the embrace, bringing her arms up to return it. "Yes."
"I'm not mad at you." He murmured, realising what the coffee had been preempting.
Oh. She really thought he should be. Phil smiled, her hair brushing his cheek. "That's who you are." He said. "You protect us, even if you have to make the hard call. Even if it hurts you." He held her close. "That's why I trust you the most."
"I wanted her to come home." Melinda mumbled into his shoulder. "And I told her not to."
"No." Coulson soothed. "You were trying to protect us from the pain of losing her. And you were protecting Daisy from herself."
"I didn't think she was ever coming back."
Phil smiled and pulled away to look her in the eyes. "Well." He said, "Nothing makes Daisy want to do something more than someone telling her not to."
Melinda snorted a laugh and he grinned. "That's more like it." Phil teased. She was starting to wonder if they had a tab running on who made her smile the most. In which case, Phil had an unfair advantage.
"Shut up." May muttered, failing to scowl.
Daisy woke up to an itching forehead and feeling very cold. It took her a few seconds to realise where she was, that the day before hadn't been a dream. She was home.
Breathing a sigh of relief, she brought a hand up to scratch at her forehead, startling slightly when her hand came into contact with the post it note stuck to it. Her nerves were still pretty frayed.
'went to do Tai Chi with Lincoln and Elena' the note read in May's handwriting. So that's where May had gone. When had Lincoln and Elena taken up Tai Chi? When had Elena moved in? Daisy's heart ached as she thought about everything she'd missed.
Shaking herself out of that train of thought, she stretched out on the couch, trying to gather the will to get up and go get ready to face the day. It was easier said than done. Getting up meant facing an entire day surrounded by the team, which meant a whole day of facing all the guilt she'd been carrying for the past year and she wasn't sure she was strong enough for that. Yesterday she'd barely spent over an hour with them and she'd felt so incredibly raw afterward. How was she supposed to survive an entire day?
But she'd never been one to run and hide before the whole Hive debacle, so she figured if she wanted to get back to some semblance of normalcy she should at least try to get out there. There'd be time to hide later that night.
Daisy heaved her tired and sore body up and off the couch, a glance at the clock on May's bedside table told her that it was 11. She'd slept 14-ish hours, albeit with interruptions but it was still a longer sleep than any she'd had in the past year. Too bad she didn't feel well rested at all.
On her way out the door she grabbed one of May's oversized hoodies off of her dresser and pulled it over her head. It was freaking cold on base and it smelled like May, so she didn't even care about the possibility of being on the receiving end of one of May's glares when she found out. Being warm took precedence.
"Is that May's favourite hoodie?" Lincoln's voice rang out from behind Daisy as she closed the door to May's bunk, making her jump out of her skin and flinch away. "Woah! Sorry, I didn't mean to scare you. Are you okay?"
Daisy closed her eyes and took a few deep breaths in an attempt to calm her racing heart. "Yeah, I'm okay. I'm just jumpy. Not really used to having anyone around anymore." The words in a jumbled rush. She so wished she could go back to the pre-Hive days, when talking to people she loved was easy.
Lincoln nodded, one hand rubbing at the back of his neck and a sad smile taking over his face. "Hey, have you had breakfast? I was heading to the kitchen to get something to eat, I could probably make you some chocolate chip pancakes, if you'd like."
Daisy smiled, her eyes fixed on the ground, and gave him a shy nod. Chocolate chip pancakes sounded perfect, but she couldn't bring herself to voice it.
Lincoln returned her smile enthusiastically and set off towards the kitchen with Daisy keeping stride beside him. Daisy itched to reach out for his hand, but she resisted the urge. She'd hurt him and then she'd run, she had no right to want to hold his hand.
They found kitchen and common room empty much to their relief, and Lincoln immediately set off to gathering all the ingredients for the pancakes while Daisy perched on one of the bar stools at the end of the island.
"What chocolate chip design do you want on your pancakes? Smiley faces? Goofy faces? Disgusted faces? Some other face I can't think of?" Lincoln asked, his hands systemically working at mixing the batter.
"Whatever gets me the most chocolate." Daisy froze as soon as the words were out of her mouth. She hadn't intended to say them out loud.
Lincoln stopped short of pouring the batter into the pan at her words and stared at her for a few seconds, before he ungracefully snorted a laugh. "I'm happy to see your love for chocolate hasn't changed."
A small smile appeared on Daisy's face as she met Lincoln's eyes for the first time since she'd arrived on base. This was… good. It felt almost normal. But there were so many things she needed to say. So many things she needed to apologise for.
There was a long but not uncomfortable silence as Daisy gathered her thoughts, and Lincoln finished off the first set of pancakes and began preparing the next batch.
"You know, I really am sorry for everything that happened." Daisy mumbled, her bottom lip trembling as tears began making their way down her face, her eyes downcast again. "The things I did, the things I said to you. You trusted me enough to tell me your darkest secrets and what did I do? I threw them in your face a day later. I completely understand if you never forgive me or trust me again. But I- I need to try to make up for what I did, whether I can earn your forgiveness or not."
Lincoln remained silent for a few beats, his brow pinched as he flipped the pancakes over and mulled over a way to respond to Daisy's words. The weight she carried was breaking his heart. She didn't deserve what Hive had done to her.
"Look… I know you blame yourself, but you have to understand, no one here blames you. Okay? I don't blame you. I'll keep saying that until you believe me. What that thing made you? That wasn't you. I know it feels like it was, but it wasn't, Daisy, it was a parasite. I realise that no matter what I say to absolve you, it'll take you time to understand that. But I need you to know that you don't need to keep apologising to us because we don't blame you. You need to work on forgiving yourself, not on getting us to forgive you." Lincoln paused and wiped at his eyes, chancing a glance at Daisy who'd wrapped her arms around herself and was visibly shaking with silent sobs.
He wanted so badly to comfort her but he needed to get through saying this first. He needed her to hear this. "Daisy, what Hive did to you? That's what's unforgivable. It took away your agency, your mind, and your ability to discern right from wrong. It took everything that makes you, you and manipulated it for his own convenience. We were all powerless to stop it from doing that to you, no matter how hard we tried."
Seconds after he stopped talking, Daisy launched from her seat, running around the island and slamming into his chest, clinging on to him fiercely.
"H-he took e-everything from m-me." Daisy's distraught words were muffled against his chest. "E-every time I thought I didn't want to do something, he'd twist it until it felt like the right thing to do. I felt all w-wrong. I still feel all wrong. W-will I ever feel okay again?"
Lincoln's arms wrapped around her tightly, anchoring her and calming her some.
"You will. Maybe not today, maybe not next week, or even in the next year. But you'll get there, I promise. We- we'll get you the help you need to get through this and we'll be here every step of the way." Lincoln dropped a kiss to the top of her head and curled around her so she was wrapped in his arms as snugly as he could manage. He never wanted to let go again. He'd do anything to take her pain but he knew he couldn't so for now he'd focus on this moment.
The smell of burning hit Lincoln first. "Crap." He muttered, still hugging Daisy with one arm, using the other to turn off the heat under the ruined pancakes.
"Sorry." Daisy sniffled. "I shouldn't've…"
"Shouldn't have what?" He asked softly, hand coming back to stroke her hair. "Gotten upset?"
She hesitated. "It sounds dumb when you say it like that."
"Are we interrupting?"
Both looked up and saw that Coulson and May had arrived, "No, it's okay." Daisy mumbled, pulling away. She didn't want to seem needy.
May peered at the blackened pancakes. "Nice job, Lincoln."
Lincoln grinned, eyes darting to and from Daisy. "Hey, I've said it before I'll say it again May, if you're within ten feet of the kitchen, anything burnt is on you."
She glared, ignoring Coulson's smug grin, which matched Lincoln's own. "That doesn't even make sense."
May's eyes fell to Daisy, taking stock of her. Her brow furrowed slightly when she saw what she was wearing.
Daisy swallowed, toying with the sleeves of her pilfered hoodie. She didn't actually mean for May to find out that she'd taken it. It just smelled like her, and it was warm and comfy. She looked down.
Melinda softened. Very few people would be allowed to get away with stealing her things, but Daisy pretty much topped that list. She ignored Coulson's teasing smile and turned back to Lincoln. "Go on then," She said, nudging him. "Prove that it's my fault. Do it again."
"Jeez, pushy." Lincoln grinned, dumping the failed attempts into the bin. "Go on, back away." He shooed her with the spatula, revelling in Daisy's delighted grin. How few people could get away with teasing Melinda May?
In very little time Lincoln had managed a new batch of pancakes, giving plenty of emphasis on how difficult that was to do when May was present.
Daisy knew that this was mostly for her benefit, but it was still nice. It was family. This was what family was for, right? Lincoln handed her the plate of fresh pancakes with a smile, which promptly dropped when Coulson took the other plate. Lincoln sighed. "I guess I'll make more." He grumbled, feeling the grins of the other three burning into the back of his head.
"I'll make sure you don't burn any more of them." May said smugly. She then yelped when Lincoln zapped her with static.
Lincoln cowered in mock fear seeing her glare, but hearing the tiny, barely there, giggle from Daisy made it worth it, and he could see from May's face that she thought so too.
Daisy followed Coulson into the common area, sitting down on the couch. "Did Lincoln just zap May and not get killed?" She asked, quietly, but with that hint of animation that had been missing from her voice for a long time.
He laughed. "I know, right?"
Daisy smiled that little bit, quickly hacking away at her pancakes, barely stopping to swallow.
Coulson watched her with a smile. "It's good that you're eating more." He murmured.
Daisy stopped, swallowing heavily. She hadn't noticed actually. "I- yeah. I guess. I like pancakes."
"I know." He said, slightly amused.
She watched him for a moment, somewhat cautiously, as if waiting for him to stop her, before tucking in to her pancakes again. She was midway through her second pancake when Coulson spoke again. "So I was talking to May earlier." He murmured. "She- had some interesting things to tell me."
Daisy's stomach dropped through the floor. She swallowed, the pancakes now feeling more like glue. "She did?"
Coulson's eyes were gentle. "Yeah. Said she saw you a few days ago."
So now Coulson knew. "I- I'm sorry."
"I… I don't know." Daisy mumbled, started to get teary again.
"Oh, hey, don't cry." Phil gently wiped the tears from her eyes. "It's okay."
For some reason that did make the tears stop, and Daisy smiled weakly. "Sorry."
Coulson smiled and, knowing now that he wasn't going to overwhelm her, pulled Daisy into a secure hug. The way she melted into it was almost alarming, settling against him like she may never move again.
Coulson chuckled. "You've been getting a lot of hugs lately, huh?"
Daisy squeezed him tightly. "Making up for lost time."
Phil smiled. "That might take a while."
"I'll make it through."
"I know you will." He murmured. "You can make it through anything."