a.n. Okay, guys, I'm gonna be straight with you. I seriously love how enthusiastic you are, but if you wanna prompt me, I'd really prefer you did it through PMs or if you need to be anon, through my tumblr messaging.
Melinda looked over the mission file for the dozenth time. She sighed, looking at her partner. "You know how I hate undercover?"
Coulson groaned. "I know May," He said, "But we have to. It's the best way."
She rolled her eyes. "Fine. But you have to brief Daisy."
Coulson smiled a little. "I thought you were meant to be the brave one."
May glared. "Don't act like she hasn't got you wrapped around her little finger."
"I won't it you won't."
May glowered and left without a word.
This cover was either going to be the easiest thing ever, or the hardest.
Daisy flicked over the file. "So it's an undercover job?"
She frowned. "Wait, you need someone to infiltrate, why not take May? She's better at that stuff than me."
Coulson shrugged. "I am taking her. But the place has some pretty impressive closed-circuit security. So we need you too."
Daisy stared at the document, adding it up in her mind. "Uuh, I don't wanna sound rude, but- what do we need you for?"
Coulson smiled. "Well, it's a gala. It'd be a little unusual if it was just you and May."
Oh. It suddenly clicked. Daisy coughed quietly. "So... you- I mean, we'll be undercover as-" She broke off. She didn't want to say it.
Coulson's voice was unsurprisingly, quite gentle. "The simplest and most effective cover would be as a family." He said. "But that depends on whether we can pull it off."
Daisy could feel his eyes burning as she stared at the dossier on the desk. She knew what he was asking. Could she pull it off? Coulson and May as her parents. Something about that felt deeply uncomfortable, but also incredibly right at the same time.
She thought about it. Going to a gala as their daughter. Seeing May put on whatever persona fit their cover, teasing her about it later, going on mission with both of them and no one else, making them proud. Eating really expensive hors d'oeuvres. "I can do it." She said, as confidently as she could.
"Are you sure?" Daisy was almost offended before she realised that this was concern, not doubt. "It's okay if you can't. We can find another way."
Daisy shook her head. "No, you're right, this is the best way. I can handle it." They both stood, and Daisy managed a smile. "But thanks for the concern," She said, "Dad."
Coulson laughed at the sarcasm. "You'll have to work on that."
Daisy smiled sheepishly. "Whatever."
"There you go, very teenage daughter."
Daisy sat on her bed, knees drawn up to her chest, looking at the picture of Coulson from his file on her laptop. Dad. She thought, over and over, Dad. You're gonna be my dad. For one night. "Dad." She said softly, liking the hint of warmth it brought, even though she still couldn't stop thinking of Cal. She could do it though. "Dad." Because Coulson and Cal both loved her more than anything, and Daisy knew it.
She flicked the file over to May's. "M-" It stuck in her throat. Daisy swallowed. She didn't even want to think it. Trying didn't give her that weird-but-good feeling inside, it made her feel scared. Really really scared. She looked at the picture. May's eyes looked back at her, giving away exactly as much as May usually did. Something twisted in Daisy's chest. She tried to just let herself say it over in her head. Mom. She felt sick. She felt scared.
Maybe she couldn't do this.
Daisy closed her laptop with a sigh, hugging it to her chest. Now she felt bad. She could call Coulson dad easily enough, but she couldn't even think of calling May-...
She stared at the wall, trying to force herself to. To just get over it, push through it. If May and Coulson, two people who were clearly head over heels for each other, could pretend to be married, she should at least be able to be their pretend kid.
Daisy didn't know how long she had been thinking when there was a knock at her door. She jumped. "Yeah!" She called.
When she saw that it was May, she still smiled. This whole thing just made her feel strange. She loved May to bits, but still couldn't quite do it. "Hey." Daisy greeted, "What's up?"
May shrugged, entering. "Coulson said he'd briefed you on our mission." She said.
"Oh, yeah." Daisy said, "Expensive gala, it could be fun."
May gave her a look, sitting down in Daisy's chair. "You clearly haven't been to many of these."
Daisy snorted. "Not everyone hates fun as much as you do."
May glowered, but Daisy could see the hint of a smile she was hiding. "Sorry if I don't think that being surrounded by strangers staring at my ass is fun."
Daisy grinned easily. "Spoilsport."
May rolled her eyes and smiled, unable to hold it back any longer. She hesitated. "You'll be okay?"
"You and Coulson taking it in turns or something?" Daisy deflected, looking away. She knew that May would see right through her. She always did.
Sure enough. "You wanna talk about it?"
"Really don't." Daisy muttered, but she couldn't help but feel touched that May would offer to listen. "I just- I need to push through it, that's all."
There was a pause, then Daisy was surprised when a hand closed around her wrist. She looked up.
May nodded towards to door. "Come on." She said. "Staring at the wall isn't helping."
"Hang on, you're telling me to hit something to feel better?" Daisy asked as May pointed her towards the punching bag. "What happened to channelling my emotions?"
May shrugged, checking that the bag was secure. "That only works if you have an outlet. If those emotions are useful." She raised an eyebrow, turning to face her. "Unless you want to practice pretending I'm your mother."
The floor shook beneath them, and Daisy swallowed. It was even worse hearing May say it. "Fine." She muttered, heading to the bag.
Melinda frowned, watching her stiffly get into it. Daisy's powers never played up any more. She knew she wasn't anyone's ideal mother, but it couldn't be that bad.
It was hard to just hit the bag with no clear instruction, but after a few swings Daisy started to fall into a rhythm, beginning to zone out. She knew that she should be able to do this. No one else would have this much trouble pretending May was their mother for one night. For a mission. It might be awkward, but they'd get it done.
No one else had her life though, Daisy thought, dimly aware that her wrist was starting to hurt. Her anger and frustration grew, the tempo of her hits increased. It wasn't fair. She wished that none of them had the power that they did. The power to taint this for her. To ruin basic words, concepts, to ruin her.
She snapped out of it at May's call, and realised that the gym was shaking now, and so was she. Daisy swallowed, hands at her sides. "Sorry." She muttered.
May bit her lip, trying to decide if there was anything she could do. She sighed. "Look, I know I'm not really- mom material." She started, "But-"
"You're right," Daisy interrupted, her voice hard. "You're not."
The thinly veiled anger in her voice surprised May, and Daisy continued.
"The first mom I remember having slapped me across the face within a week." She muttered, "And I can't even remember why." Daisy punched weakly at the bag again. "The one before that sent me back before she could even learn- my- name-." She punctuated each word with a harder punch to the bag, tears blurring her vision. "One mom sent me back because I wasn't good enough at ballet-" Her knuckles stung, "And another because I- broke my arm- and she didn't wanna pay the hospital bills." Her breathing was erratic. "Another because she got pregnant, and that was better than me." The room was shaking again. "And then I found my... real mom." She spat, "And she told me I was safe, that she wanted me." Daisy stilled, clinging to the bag. "And then she tried to kill me."
May couldn't decide whether she wanted to comfort Daisy or go and track down every person who had made her feel this way and make them pay.
Daisy bowed her head. "So you're right, you're not 'mom material'." She murmured, resting her head against the bag. "Because I- I know you'd never do anything like that."
Daisy stayed where she was, refusing to look at May, to see the pity that she knew would be in her eyes.
After a moment, a warm hand rested on her shoulder. "Daisy," May said softly, "Méishì."
Daisy sagged, a smile coming across her face despite everything. She didn't know how just a couple of words from May could banish all those feelings of bitterness and vulnerability, but she didn't really care. "Xièxiè" She murmured. She glanced at May for a moment, then dove into her arms.
Melinda hugged her tightly. She didn't say anything yet. She knew that she didn't need to.
Daisy sighed, burying her face in May's shoulder. She felt better having told her, but she knew that she still couldn't do it. "I can't." She said quietly. "I'm sorry, I- I just can't do it."
"It's okay." Melinda said, pulling away gently. She gestured towards the mats, indicating for Daisy to sit with her.
May leaning back against the wall. "I didn't learn how to speak English until I was five years old." She said. "My parents always spoke Mandarin at home, so I spoke Mandarin." Daisy's wide-eyed attentiveness made her smile. "I didn't even start calling my mother 'mom' until I was thirteen."
"Why not?" It was so rare to get a glimpse of May's past. Even rarer for May to be the one letting her see it.
Melinda shrugged. "The kids at school made fun of me. At home she was always Māmā." She said, "But I started using 'mom' in front of other people."
Daisy glanced to the floor. "You never seemed like the type to change because of what other people think."
"I was a kid." She said softly. "Kids are like that. They want to be accepted. It's just part of life."
Daisy got the idea that May wasn't just talking about herself. "So," She swallowed, " Māmā?"
"If you think it's easier." May said, noting that Daisy could actually say it. "Mā would also be fine." She hesitated, "You don't have to do the mission if you don't want to."
"I do though." Daisy said, smiling. "I really do. We haven't been on a mission together in ages. I've missed it... Māmā." She blushed slightly using it, but she wasn't scared. It didn't quite feel natural, but it felt... safe.
May smiled too. "Okay." She said softly. She wouldn't admit how happy hearing Daisy say it made her feel. But maybe just this once she would let herself give in to the urge to put her arm around Daisy's shoulders and pull her into a sideways hug.
Daisy smiled and leaned closer. "Xièxiè." She murmured again.
"So you're one hundred percent sure on what you're doing?" Coulson asked from the passenger seat, "You won't have any problems?"
Daisy rolled her eyes, seeing May smirk in the rear-view mirror. "You know what, I've just forgotten what this whole mission is about." She said sarcastically. "Who are you? Where am I?"
May swallowed a laugh and Coulson scowled. "She gets this from you." He grumbled.
May rolled her eyes, and Daisy giggled. Coulson grinned, "See, it's the eye-rolling. Exactly the same."
"I will drive this car into a tree."
"I'd rather if you didn't," He teased, "Honey."
Daisy recognised that glare. It was the one May used when she was trying not to smile. One that Daisy had first been somewhat intimidated by, but she now saw as a show of affection. As did Coulson, if the look on his face was anything to go by.
May ignored the both of them. "Almost there." She muttered, seemingly to herself.
Daisy couldn't help but enjoy the warm feeling this whole thing caused inside. Being together with May and Coulson. Her temporary parents who felt more real and constant than any family she'd ever had. She didn't know if she'd ever tell them that. She didn't know if it was needed.
They probably knew.
May pulled them into the crowded parking lot, taking a space in the second row from the front. Coulson hurried to open the door for her, but she easily beat him to it, shooting him a smirk filled with undertones as she sauntered past him.
Daisy didn't think the lovesick way he watched her go by in her champagne coloured dress was entirely put on. Either way she faked a gag when he wrapped an arm around May. "Leave room for Jesus, dad!"
Both rolled their eyes good-naturedly, as if this were commonplace. For their cover it was. It made sense, and kept Coulson and May from being suspect for not being very physically affectionate. Though Daisy couldn't see why either of them would have a problem with that.
She fished her phone from her clutch as they walking through the door, and Coulson groaned. "Can't put it away for half an hour, huh?"
"Nope." Daisy said, accessing the building's security under the guise of whatever old people thought that young people did on their phones.
When May returned from checking them in, Daisy headed Coulson off, taking her hand instead and walking in a companionable closeness that May would never normally allow.
May turned her head to look at her. "You okay?" She asked softly, in both personas.
"Yeah mā." Daisy said, "I'm good."
"Suck up." Melinda grinned, squeezing her hand.
Daisy smiled. "Nah." She said, "Not trying to score any points here. I just- ooh, canapes!" She immediately darted over to the buffet table.
Coulson laughed quietly, wrapping an arm around May's shoulders. "She's your daughter." He said.
"I shouldn't get all the credit." May shot back, watching as Daisy again pulled out her phone, still chewing whatever bite-sized piece of food she had gotten.
That was their cue. "Care to dance?" Coulson asked, extending a hand.
Maybe it was wishful thinking on his part, but Melinda's smile looked all to real. She was good at undercover though, despite her dislike of it. "Why not?" She said, taking his hand.
Daisy surreptitiously watched them dance with a concealed smile. Coulson and May did look really good together. May had explained how dancing could be used to scout out a crowded area, and they did that very well. She saw their eyes darting back and forth, catching sight of security guards, cameras, and exits. Yet they always returned to each other, and there was a warmth to both of them, a certain familiarity in how they held each other.
It was a mystery for the ages how those two had known each other for going on three decades without once hooking up.
She turned her attention back to the security system, typing on her phone as fast as she could with the touchscreen. Daisy had almost cracked the locks to the rooms upstairs when she glanced at the DJ's song list and- was that a slow song?
Coulson's eyes met hers just as the current song was wrapping up, and Daisy surreptitiously shook her head, looking back to her phone with a smug grin. They both needed this. Maybe it was the push they needed.
Melinda stiffened as she heard the slow song begin. Phil's hand gently rested on the small of her back, not pulling her closer, just there. Like him. Never forcing her to do something, but there if she wanted to.
It was almost embarrassing how easy it was to fall into his arms. Phil. Just Phil. Her best friend. And sure, she could keep an eye out over his shoulder, but she couldn't ignore how right it felt to have his arms around her. Melinda let her head rest in the crook of his neck with a soft sigh, getting a gentle kiss on the cheek that she wasn't entirely sure was for show.
Phil let himself tighten his arms around her, feeling her hair tickle his cheek. He caught sight of Daisy again. Her eyes were glued to her phone, but a smug grin on her face gave her away. She did this on purpose, and maybe he'd tell her off for it later, but for now he would just savour the feeling of Melinda being so close.
Daisy kept glancing up at them, smiling. How were they not together? She snapped a picture on her phone for posterity. They just looked so happy. She threw Coulson a nod as the song started to end.
Melinda sighed, knowing that soon she would have to pull away. She didn't want to. She didn't want to look into Phil's eyes and pretend that it was all for show. She wanted to stay like this forever.
She pulled away. He looked at her like he loved her, and Melinda could almost let herself believe it was real. "I think I need a drink." She said, glancing towards Daisy.
Coulson smiled. "We'll see if we can confiscate that phone while we're at it."
"You'd better." Melinda said. She had noticed Daisy snapping her pictures from across the room.
Daisy smiled as they approached her. "Hey Māmā." She greeted, hugging May closely as Coulson made small talk with another couple nearby.
Melinda rolled her eyes internally. So this was how it was going to be. Daisy sneaking as many hugs as she could while May couldn't push her away.
May snagged Daisy's phone from her hand before she could stop her. "This is out of bounds until we get home."
Daisy groaned convincingly. "Ugh, fine." She muttered, swallowing a canape whole. In actuality her phone now worked as an all access pass to the building.
May delicately picked up a glass of champagne, pretending to take a sip. She wrinkled her nose in apparent distaste and put it back down. "I need to go freshen up." She said, "I won't be long."
"I can survive without you you know." Daisy teased.
"Sometimes I wonder."
Daisy grinned, watching her go. Her first instinct was right, this was fun. Really fun. And running totally according to plan. It wasn't a tough mission. May just had to sneak upstairs now, beat the hell out of any security she encountered, and delete the Watchdog's inhuman database. Daisy knew she could have been the one to sneak away, but as the 'deviant kid' she would be under more suspicion from anyone watching her. Besides, May was better at being quiet than she was.
"And this is our daughter, Cory."
Daisy looked up at the sound of Coulson's voice. "Oh," She shook the hand of the older lady, "Hi."
"Oh my," The lady said, "She looks just like you!"
Daisy blushed and looked down. Coulson chuckled. "Maybe a little, but she definitely takes after her mother."
Daisy swallowed, trying to spin her appearance as 'embarrassed by her dad' and not 'overwhelmed by emotion'. She could do this. She was fine.
A familiar hand took hers unexpectedly. "Excuse us." Coulson said with a polite smile. "It's about time someone taught her to dance."
The lady laughed, and said as they walked onto the dance floor, "I doubt she'd have much trouble finding a partner!"
Daisy couldn't help but grin at the sour look on Coulson's face. He was nailing the overprotective dad angle. "Don't worry Dad," She teased, "I don't even know what a boy is, remember?"
Coulson narrowed his eyes. "And I'm going to keep it that way."
Daisy giggled, letting him take her other hand and start dancing. She joined in, moving back and forth to the beat, not really dancing so much as stepping in place. "You okay?" Coulson asked under his breath.
Daisy stared, but relaxed when she realised why he was asking. "Yeah." She said softly, "It's fine."
Coulson smiled "Good." He managed to twirl her, and Daisy grinned. "You can tell us if it isn't, you know that, right?"
"Yeah." She said softly. "It's just... kind of hard sometimes."
"I know." He murmured. "That's why it means so much when you do."
Daisy managed a brief nod, which turned into a shriek of alarm when, without warning, Coulson tried to dip her, almost ending with them both on the floor.
Coulson managed to hold onto her as she scrambled to regain her balance, and the next moment Daisy was clinging to his shoulders tightly and giggling like a child. Coulson grinned bashfully, catching the eyes of those who had stopped to stare. "Her first time on the dance floor in years." He said apologetically.
Daisy was still laughing helplessly into his shoulder, and she slapped his chest gently. "You couldn't have given me a warning or something?" She asked, gasping for air.
Coulson rolled his eyes, but her laughter was infectious. "I thought you were meant to have good balance." He said, chuckling.
"Oh shut up dad." She muttered, but continued giggling as Coulson dragged her in progressively sloppier circles.
May brushed her fingers through her hair to ensure that it wasn't messed up from her brief encounter with a security guard. He hadn't seen her face, which was a nice bonus, and the rest of the file deletion had gone perfectly.
She stopped at the top of the stairs when she caught sight of her companions. Dancing, if they could call it that, very much looking like the father daughter kind of dance that would be done at a wedding or family gathering. The kind no one would look twice at. All that was missing was for Daisy to be standing on Coulson's feet. And they were laughing, Daisy's cheeks flushed, Phil smiling like his face was going to split in half. They looked so happy. Her two favourite people in the world. It was such a perfect moment that Melinda couldn't resist snapping a few pictures on her phone before they saw her.
When Daisy caught sight of May, her face lit up even more. "Māmā!" She laughed, dragging Coulson off the dance floor and towards her to give her another hug. "Dad almost dropped me on the ground!"
She was out of breath, but happier than Melinda could remember seeing Daisy in a very long time. They should do these mission more often. She smiled indulgently. "Don't worry honey, he throws me on the ground all the time."
Daisy choked on air, turning bright red, and holy shit May did not just make a sex joke. "Ugh, no! Shut up!" She cried, covering her face with her hands.
Coulson shook with silent laughter, but May noted that he was blushing more than a little himself. He smiled at her, again in that way that made her knees a little weak. "Another dance?" He asked.
Melinda considered it. They could easily leave now. The mission was completed, all that was left was for them to leave safely. This wasn't just a question for her cover persona. This was a question for her. "Sure." She said, a softness in her gaze that wasn't usually there.
Daisy watched them go and unlocked her phone, which she had pickpocketed back from May.
Now... how to hack the song list?
Coulson shrugged off his jacket to gently drape it over Daisy's dozing form in the back seat of the car. She didn't move, but mumbled slightly, incoherently. "This was fun." He said softly to his partner, who was driving.
"Good to see her happy." May admitted, watching Daisy in the rearview mirror.
"Shut up Phil."
Coulson grinned, but obediently kept quiet. He felt deeply tired, but also deeply happy, in a soft, enduring way.
After a few minutes of silence, he sighed. "We should do this again some time." He murmured. "It works well."
"It does." May said. "But I don't think I've been hugged that much in years."
Coulson smirked. "You liked it."
She rolled her eyes. Fine. "Little bit."
Unexpectedly, a soft voice from the back seat whispered, "I knew it."
Coulson chuckled, and May glared at Daisy via the mirror. Not that Daisy could tell. She hadn't opened her eyes the whole time, but she did have that self-satisfied grin on her face. "You're grounded." May said flatly.
Daisy's smile widened. "Sure Māmā." She yawned, snuggling her face into Coulson's jacket.
May sighed, shaking her head. "She used to respect me." She lamented.
"Yeah." Daisy yawned, her voice softer. "Now I love you."
May's lips parted slightly in surprise, and she smiled tentatively. "Love you too." She mumbled.
"Love you three." Coulson added, pressing a bristly kiss to May's cheek.
Daisy made a disgusted noise and May rolled her eyes. "Dork."
May said nothing, just stared ahead, and Coulson and Daisy grinned.
"Daisy?" He said softly.
"Hmm?" Daisy didn't know why she bothered to keep her eyes shut.
"Anyone who wouldn't want you for their daughter is an idiot."
May hummed in agreement, and Daisy felt like she might cry.
"Thanks Dad." She managed to get out, grounding herself by holding onto his jacket. It was true, they really thought that.
Daisy finally had a family.