Daisy couldn't believe how long it had been since she'd trained with May. When she actually stopped and thought about it and realised that it had been almost a year, she had actually felt... guilty. Did May not want to train with her anymore?
Daisy had tried to seem casual asking, to test the waters, and so that she wouldn't feel too bad if May said no. It turned out there was no need for her to worry. May had smiled wider than she had seen her do in a long time at the suggestion, a glimmer of warmth in her eyes. Maybe she needed this too.
Even though she had been back for a while, Daisy was struck by just how much she had missed May. For someone as quiet and unobtrusive as her, Daisy really felt it when she wasn't around. She wasn't sure what it was. She just missed her. Even now that she was back, because they didn't spend any real time together anymore.
Daisy wondered if May missed her too.
Training together wasn't quite like it used to be. After such a long time Daisy supposed there was no way it could be. They had both changed so much, but tai chi was still nice. They'd gone six months without uttering a word to each other, but sparring was just as familiar as it was a year ago.
Somewhere along the line they had reached some kind of equilibrium. Daisy was gratified to notice that May was actually putting in effort to beat her, even without her powers. She was even prouder when she managed to successfully flip May, which she was certain she hadn't expected.
Hell, Daisy hadn't expected it. Her eyes widened as she realised what she had done, and when she looked down to May she could see a proud little smile on her face. "Good job." She said, sitting up.
Daisy smiled shyly. "Thanks." She said, offering a hand.
May took it gratefully, but when Daisy helped pull her up, she saw something on her face twitch. For May that was the equivalent of a cry of pain. "What's wrong? Are you hurt?"
May shook her head, stretching her arms. "No."
Daisy rolled her eyes. "And I totally believe you." She said sarcastically.
Melinda barely restrained herself from glaring. She sighed. "I just get a twinge in that shoulder sometimes. No big deal."
Daisy raised an eyebrow. "You getting old?" Now May did glare, and Daisy took a step back, grinning.
A frown did touch her features though. "Since when?" Daisy asked. "You've never mentioned it before."
May shrugged. "You never noticed it before."
"Well, you know," Daisy said, "If you'd said something, I could have tried to avoid it."
May rolled her eyes. "It's not a big deal Daisy."
"Still." Daisy shuffled uncomfortably. "You can tell me stuff. We're- friends, right?"
The uncertainty in her voice made Melinda's heart twist, "Yeah." She said softly.
Daisy smiled. "Good." She said, "So tell me about this kind of stuff, okay? I don't wanna hurt you."
She missed the look in May's eyes. May swallowed. "Let's go again." She said.
Daisy walked into the lab to see Lincoln and Jemma jabbering at each other. She smiled.
"She could have rotator cuff damage."
"Or some form of arthritis."
"What if she sprained it and just keeps pushing it? We need to check it out."
Jemma sighed. "If you can convince her to come in for a test, I'll kiss the ground you walk on."
Lincoln grinned. "I'd settle for a twenty."
"Hey!" Daisy greeted, wrapping her arms around Lincoln from behind. "What's up?"
Lincoln smiled, turning to kiss her hello. "Just trying to figure out how to con May into a medical exam. Any advice?"
Daisy snorted, sitting down on a stool. "Please. Jemma's got the biggest puppy eyes I've ever seen."
Jemma glowered. "I'm not the one who convinced her to train me."
Daisy rolled her eyes. "I didn't convince her, she offered."
"Yes, well, my point is that you're the teacher's pet, not me."
Daisy's eyes widened. "Jemma Simmons! Them's fighting words!" She said delightedly.
"Okay." Arm's wrapped around Daisy's waist, pulling her up. "No catfights on my watch ladies." Lincoln grinned as Daisy laughed and punched halfheartedly at his arms.
Jemma smiled and rolled her eyes.
Daisy pushed Lincoln's arms away, sobering a little. "So what do you need her to get examined for? Her shoulder?"
"She told you?" Lincoln asked, moving back around.
Daisy raised her eyebrows. "Seriously? Have you ever seen May admit that she's in pain?"
Jemma made a noise of agreement. "So you noticed?" She confirmed.
"Yeah." Daisy said, "We were just training, it's been a while, you know." She frowned. "How long's this been a problem? I never noticed it before."
Lincoln thought. "A few months?" He guessed.
Jemma pulled up the file on her computer. "About eight months." She confirmed.
Something about that put a feeling of unease in Daisy's stomach. "So that was..." She tried not to sound scared.
Jemma swallowed. "Just after Coulson lost his hand."
'I'm sorry May, you're not welcome here.'
"I have to go." Daisy mumbled, staggering out of the lab. She felt like she was going to throw up.
That was why May hadn't mentioned it, why Daisy hadn't noticed it before now, why May had been avoiding her, why she left and stayed away for so long.
She did this.
Daisy knew that she had hurt May, using her betrayal, her words, her powers, the fighting techniques May had taught her, but she never knew that it was permanent. May was in pain every time she moved now because of what she had done. Because Daisy had decided not to listen, to treat her like an enemy.
Daisy didn't notice that she had reached her room until she almost collided with the door. Her scuffling feet pushed it open, and the first thing her eyes fixed on was her leather jacket draped over her chair.
The one May had given her.
Her legs buckled. Daisy clung to the doorframe in an attempt to stay upright, but she didn't really care enough to try.
She sank to the ground, tears blurring her vision, tremors wracking her body. All May had ever done was try to help her, to be there for her. She had protected her, trained her, believed in her. And Daisy had returned all that with pain, distrust, and cruelty.
And now she was... broken, irreparably. God, how was she supposed to fix this? What could she do to make it better?
"Daisy!" Lincoln's voice snapped her out of her stupor, his arms lifting her up off the ground. "Hey, what's wrong?" He asked softly, hugging her close and closing the door behind them.
Daisy shuddered, torn between clinging to him and pushing him away. "I-I- I did it." She whispered, hiccupping.
Lincoln stroked her hair. "Did what?" He asked, though he was starting to suspect.
It took Daisy several moments to reply. "May- I- we fought- a-at Afterlife." She trembled. "And now she's..."
Lincoln cursed internally. "She fought Alisha too." He said. "It could have been her."
Daisy scowled. "Did Alisha throw her ten feet in the air and knock her out?" Her voice cracked.
Lincoln was silent. He knew the truth, and Daisy did too. There wasn't much point in pretending.
"How am I gonna fix this?" Daisy whispered into his shoulder.
"You can't make it go away Daisy." Lincoln murmured. "You can't make it like it never happened. Trust me. All you can do is... talk to her. Try to get past it."
Daisy sniffled. "But w-what if she hates me?"
"Come on." He smiled into her hair. "This is May we're talking about. Nothing could make her hate you."
"Well maybe she should." Daisy snapped.
Lincoln sighed. "Don't say that." He murmured, "Just talk to her. It's all you can do right now."
Daisy swallowed. "I'm scared." She said plaintively. "I-I'm really scared."
"I know you are." Lincoln said, "But you'll talk to her anyway. You're braver that me."
When Daisy didn't show up for dinner, Melinda knew that something was wrong. She missed meals with some frequency, but rarely dinner. Especially when Coulson had decided to cook. Lincoln wouldn't look at her either, which was more than a little annoying.
Daisy couldn't know. There was nothing to give away the cause of the twinge in her shoulder. It hardly warranted mentioning anyway. It wasn't a big deal.
It didn't hurt that much.
May felt the hairs on the back of her neck prick up as she approached her room. Someone was here. She shrugged. Fine. The odds of danger were slim.
That said, she was on her guard as she pushed her door open.
The weariness gave way to confusion when she saw Daisy sitting in her desk chair. She looked up as May entered, standing. Her eyes were red. "I-I was waiting." She said softly. Her voice sounded raspy. "I- May, I need to talk to you."
May winced. She knew that tone. Guilt. She just hoped that Daisy had wrecked another piece of gym equipment with her powers again. "We can get a new exercise bike if you broke it again." She said.
Daisy wrung her hands, looking down. "That's not it." She whispered. "I-" She swallowed. "I... I know how you- how your shoulder got hurt."
Melinda glanced away. "I just pulled it too hard once in training." She lied.
"No you didn't." Daisy finally looked at her, her face clear of tears. "I know it was me. Look at me and tell me it wasn't." When May was silent, she trembled ever so slightly. "May, I'm so sorry." She drew a shaky breath. "I-I know there's nothing I can do to fix it, but I'm so so sorry."
May closed her eyes briefly, trying to gather herself. "Daisy, you don't have to-"
"I know!" Daisy interrupted, "I know it doesn't matter to you whether I apologise or try to make it up to you, I know you don't give a shit how horrible I was to you, I know you're happy to be the punching bag, but you know what? It matters to me." She took a breath, willing herself not to get choked up. "May, I- I care about you, whether you like it or not, and I know I hurt you." Daisy bit her lip. "Can you at least pretend that that matters?"
May's eyes were fixed on the floor, her shoulders hunched and one arm crossed around her middle. Daisy would be willing to bet she was trying not to cry too. She knew May's tactic. Pretend it doesn't hurt, and it hurts a little less. Pretend it doesn't hurt and no one can think you're weak. And the horrible thing was that it worked. It could work for years if you kept it up and just ignored that deep lonely hole it made inside.
Daisy hesitated. She knew that this would be a low blow. "I get it." She said stuffily. "The worst part about caring about people is how much they can hurt you." She swallowed. "So- I guess if everything I did, if that really doesn't matter-" She could see May's jaw clench. "Then I just- never meant anything to you." Just saying it out loud, even knowing it wasn't true, had tears leaking from her eyes. Daisy sniffed. "A-and that's- fine, y-you never owed me anything, I-I never deserved you-"
"Stop it." May said it so quietly that Daisy almost didn't hear.
"And I know you never needed me anyway, so it's okay, I just-"
Daisy broke off when May pulled her into an abrupt hug. She immediately sagged at the contact, leaning closer and wrapping her arms around her in return.
May squeezed her tightly enough to knock the air from her lungs. "That was low." She muttered.
Daisy laughed breathlessly. "As long as it worked." She murmured. "I'm so sorry."
"I know." Melinda said softly, cradling her head.
She swallowed. "I hurt you."
"Yes." She said haltingly. "And I forgive you."
Daisy shook her head. "I don't know how you can."
May smiled a little. "Yes you do." She said.
Daisy could hear the smile, hear the little hint of whatever it was in her voice that May got when Daisy had done well in training, had cracked the Hydra computer system, had beaten her to the gym in the morning. She knew what it was. She always had. And even though they were both terrified of the word, Daisy figured that it might go some way to making it up to May if she said it first.
She sighed softly. "I love you." She murmured.
Melinda hummed, tightening her arms around Daisy ever so slightly. "You too."
Daisy buried her face into her shoulder. "Please see Jemma." She said. "She could help."
May said nothing, and Daisy sighed. "For me?"
May's eyes narrowed. "Cheat." She muttered, trying not to smirk.
Daisy laughed, a hesitant, broken kind of laugh. "I get results."
Melinda sighed. "Okay." She murmured.