It had been tough for everyone to cope starting when Bobbi and Hunter had left. They just floated around the base trying to keep busy. None of them really knew how to feel. Daisy just missed them. She didn't think she would, didn't realise how empty the base would feel without them. Coulson had been trying to bring in new recruits, but mostly it was mercenaries filling the gaps. Up until they found some others to help.
Not that they were bad, Daisy thought. They weren't Bobbi and Hunter, but they were okay. Good at what they did, decent conversation, didn't look down at her because of her age.
New people were always a bit weird in their little operation though. This new one, whatever his name was... Miller, that was it, he even felt the need to make small talk. "So..." He said, "What's the best mission you've ever had?"
Daisy frowned from across the jeep they were seated in. May was driving, her and Miller in the back. "What, like, most fun, most successful?"
"Let's say most fun." Miller settled on easily. He had sandy brown hair, and a surprisingly young face for a merc. May had pointed out that it was another way of getting people with their guard down. "Mine was this week of observation in Paris. Basically house-sitting this douchebags penthouse for a week, just in case he showed up." He grinned. "Asshole never did, but I got to raid his fridge and netflix the whole time."
"Cushy." Daisy admitted. "Uuuh, I dunno, first time zip-lining was pretty cool." She grinned. "Or first time jumping out of a plane with a parachute." She might have been imagining it, but she thought she heard May laugh too. That was a nice thought. That she might still be on acceptable terms with her.
"Two minutes out." May called back to them. "Get ready."
Preparing was par for the course really, since it was just an intel mission. More than that, it was a chance for Daisy and May to gauge the new guy, see how he was in the field.
Daisy couldn't help but grin as she loaded her gun and icer. They would be her first weapon today, since using her powers in front of every new recruit wouldn't end well. Especially after the... incident, with the Avengers.
The three entered the compound undetected. When they reached a fork in the hallways and Daisy shook her head at her tablet, indicating that she wasn't sure which way to go, May gestured for her and Miller to go one way, while she went the other.
Daisy had never missed May quite as much as when she and Miller ran into almost a dozen guards. She glanced at Miller, and both dove for cover just as they opened fire. "Got any bright ideas?" Miller yelled over the gunfire.
"I- no!" Daisy cried, trying to aim. "We don't have the bullets for this!" She couldn't do it. She couldn't use her powers, not now. She felt sick.
Miller picked off two, hitting their kneecaps and resulting in screams of pain. "Then we'll just take out as many as we can, right?"
"Right." Daisy confirmed, taking down two of her own.
With five guys left, Daisy stood, ready to throw out her powers and lie about it later. A bullet whizzed past her, startlingly close. She swallowed, but, just as she was about to slam the remaining hydra agents, May dropped down from the stairs behind them, guns drawn and a burning fury in her eyes.
Two of them dropped immediately, the remaining three not far behind them.
Daisy could see that the anger hadn't faded from May's eyes, and she wisely kept her mouth shut.
"Come on." May muttered, grabbing her firmly by the upper arm. "We're going."
Miller followed them, keeping an eye out, not that Daisy really thought it mattered. Running into some more hydra agents might mean that May could take it out on them instead of her. She knew she wasn't supposed to use her powers, but it was a desperate situation. Miller hadn't even noticed what she was about to do.
Daisy got it though. Outing herself to someone they didn't totally trust was a bad idea. She got it. She understood that May was pissed. If the government found out that she existed, they could start a manhunt for her, or anyone associated with her. SHIELD.
So Daisy didn't say anything on their way to the van, and tried to look contrite. It was all she could do.
Melinda was fuming. How could that have happened? Daisy could have died when it was perfectly within her power to defend herself. She knew that she wasn't supposed to use her powers in front of new recruits, but didn't she know that self defence was an exception?
Miller picked up on May's anger and Daisy's guilt.He tried to start a conversation. "That went okay, then!" He said cheerfully.
He got no reply from either.
Miller was starting to feel bad for Daisy. She looked so down. He grinned and gently nudged her. "Hey, it's a good thing your mom was around to save our asses."
Daisy's heart just about stopped. She stared at him. "What?" May was silent, but Daisy knew that she had heard.
He shrugged. "It's not that hard to figure out. It was pretty clear you were hiding something."
Daisy's mouth open and closed for a second, her cheeks flushing a little. "I- no, May's not my- I mean, we're not-"
"It's okay." He grinned. "Family in our business is always tricky. You don't trust me, I get it."
"N-no, I- really!" Daisy tried to protest. God, why didn't May say something? "Swear to God, there's no relation here."
"Sure." Miller grinned, throwing her a wink.
Daisy groaned internally. This had better die down.
It didn't die down. Not only did Miller remain convinced that she and May were some kind of spy family, he shared his suspicions with Jemma. Who shared them with Fitz. Pretty soon everyone knew.
And they wouldn't shut up.
"So..." Jemma said, one evening when they were watching a movie. "Miller said something interesting today."
"Nooo." Daisy groaned, burying her face in her hands.
Lincoln laughed softly, one arm around her on the couch. "What?"
Fitz was grinning too, and Jemma continued despite Daisy's face becoming a deep red. "He seems to be under the impression that Daisy is Agent May's daughter."
"Really?!" Lincoln laughed harder. "Oh God, does this mean that she's gonna give me the 'if you hurt her I'll kill you' talk? I might die."
"Shut up." Daisy mumbled.
"Well we know where you get your cooking skills now Daisy." Jemma observed, getting a scowl.
"The glare's startlingly similar too." Fitz said.
Daisy sank into the couch with a groan, very tempted to fake an earthquake just to make them shut up.
Daisy could deal with Lincoln and Fitzsimmons though. She knew that they were just teasing, good natured. But she was sick and tired to telling every lower level agent that May wasn't her mother. Never mind that every time she said it she got this pang in her heart. Daisy knew it was true, but it hurt to say. It also hurt how quiet May was on the whole issue. She rarely said a word, leaving Daisy to snap at whoever had said anything.
It was like quicksand though. The more vehemently she denied it, the more people brought it up.
Once she finally snapped and shouted at some of the newer recruits, Daisy stomped out to find Coulson just outside the door. She forced herself to calm down. "Hey." She greeted, trying not to sound too pissed off. Coulson had been the only one not making fun of her. "What's up?"
He had that dad face on again. The one that meant that they were about to have A Talk. "Let's get some coffee."
Daisy was scowling at the floor of Coulson's office, cup of steaming coffee in her hands, when he spoke again.
"Why does this bother you so much?" He asked quietly, getting straight to the point.
"I dunno." Daisy muttered. It felt like she was at the principal's office. "It's just annoying."
"You're usually fine with joking around, even if it's at your own expense. What makes this different?"
Daisy shrugged sullenly.
Coulson raised an eyebrow. "Is the idea of May being your mother that awful?"
"Wha- no!" That got a reaction. "She'd be a great mom."
She squeezed her fingers around the mug. It hurt to say. "She's not mine." No matter how much she wished it.
He sighed and sat back. "May wanted kids once, you know." He said softly. "Before Bahrain. After that... she just couldn't."
"I didn't know that."
"She doesn't talk about it much." Coulson murmured. "But I think training you has helped her get some of that part of herself back."
Daisy smiled sadly. "I hope so."
Coulson hesitated. He didn't want to make Daisy feel bad. "Daisy... how do you think it makes her feel when you get so defensive? It's one thing to set people straight, it's another to yell at them like that. It does feel like you hate the idea of anyone thinking it."
Daisy swallowed the guilt. She hadn't thought about it like that. "She didn't see that."
"Actually..." That one word made her stomach drop through the floor. "She was with me when you were shouting at those agents in the gym. She left before you saw."
Daisy cursed herself. "I- did she seem... upset?"
"Do you think I'd be talking to you about it if she wasn't?"
Shit. Daisy bit her lip, hating herself. "I-I just... I'm a mess. If May had a kid... they'd be better than me."
"You think she'd be ashamed of you?"
Daisy shrugged. "I... yeah. Basically." Her eyes were glued to the floor.
A hand was put on her shoulder. "She's not." Coulson said gently, and Daisy bit her lip.
"Cos she's not my mother." It didn't matter how many times she'd said that lately. It still felt like ice in her heart. "She deserves better than some screwed up foster kid."
"You're not screwed up." He murmured. "Any parent would be proud of you."
Daisy sniffled. "But I never had any parent." She mumbled, trying to subtly wipe her eyes.
"And May never had any kids." Coulson said softly, squeezing her shoulder. "So maybe she thinks you'd be ashamed of her too."
Coulson shrugged. "I think you calling yourself screwed up is stupid." That got a wet laugh. "Go talk to her?"
Daisy took a deep breath, getting herself under control. " 'kay." She whispered.
Melinda heard the approaching footsteps to the common area, but she didn't say anything. She didn't need Phil trying to make her feel better. "Hey." The voice was unexpected. Daisy. And it sounded like she had been crying.
Melinda looked up from her book and saw the slight redness to her eyes, the look on her face. She had definitely been upset about something. Melinda blinked, saying nothing. She didn't need Daisy's forced apology, especially when she hadn't done anything wrong.
Daisy stepped over the threshold, and Melinda put her book down. There was no need to be rude.
Daisy bit her lip. "I- uh... May, I'm sorry if me yelling at people about... what Miller said- if I hurt your feelings. I didn't mean it like I wouldn't- you'd be a great mom, I mean that." She swallowed. "And I've seen a lot of moms, so I guess I'm kind of an expert."
Melinda softened a little, and gestured for Daisy to sit beside her on the couch.
Daisy did, but stared intently at her hands. "I didn't mean that you wouldn't be a good mom." She said quietly. "I just- I mean... I wasa bad kid. Still am. And- I don't want anyone thinking you're responsible for... that." Responsible for me. "Your kid... they'd be better."
The silence that followed made Daisy feel more and more foolish, more and more like she was dumb for saying anything, that Coulson was an idiot, that of course May wasn't upset, this whole thing was a mistake- "I'd be proud if you were."
Daisy looked up, wide eyed. "What?"
The sheer innocence and hope in her eyes made Melinda's heart twinge. "If you were," She said again. "I'd be proud of you." She smiled a little. "I'm proud either way."
Daisy swallowed a whimper, wrapping her arms around herself. "'S not fair." She complained, bowing her head. "How come you can make me cry in, like, two sentences?"
May smiled bemusedly. "I was actually trying to make you feel better."
"Well you suck at it." Daisy grumbled, drying her eyes.
Melinda's smile grew, and Daisy looked up shyly. "You- uuh," She blushed, failing to hold eye contact. "You're all I ever wanted my mom to be." She said is as quickly as possible, half hoping that May wouldn't catch it.
Judging by how she immediately hooked her arms under Daisy's and pulled her into a hug, Daisy would say that she had caught it. The apprehension vanished, and, with a sigh, she melted into the hug, snuggling her head into May's shoulder.
Melinda squeezed her tightly, smiling contentedly. She loved this kid, so so much.
May heard the footsteps approaching, but paid them no heed. Any agent who had been here for more than a week would know to back away quietly.
Any agent but one, apparently.
"I knew it!" Miller cried triumphantly from the doorway.
Daisy groaned and buried her head in May's shoulder further, hating the world.
Melinda turned her head to look at him without letting Daisy go, and shot Miller the most poisonous glare she could muster.
Now he backed away, sure. May's glare faded once he had gone. "He's not gonna let it go."
Daisy paused, some of the fear setting back in. "That's okay." She mumbled, pulling away. "I'm kind of flattered he thinks I'm awesome enough to be related to you."
Melinda's face twitched into a small grin. "Same here." She said, and Daisy blushed.
"Shut up." She muttered, ducking her head.
It was a couple of days later when Melinda walked past the gym just in time to hear Daisy retort to someone, "Yeah, well you wish she was your mom!"
The unprecedented warmth that those words caused had her wanting to hug Daisy tight and never let go. Before she could, May hurried away, but not so quickly as to miss Lincoln muttering, "Yeah, you're right." In response.