It was a really nice day, May reflected. They were in town for a conference on Inhumans, for which Daisy was present, as well as their director.
Seeing Daisy there with all the bureaucrats and politicians made Melinda feel a rush of pride. She knew that Daisy wasn't her daughter, but she also knew that she was the closest she'd ever have. And Daisy had made it as clear as she could that May was the closest thing she'd ever had to a mother. So the pride was allowed.
Daisy had done so well too. She didn't lose her temper, she didn't use her powers, she didn't even call out the 'pure human' idiots for their rhetoric. She was amazing. Inspiring. So now they were going for lunch.
"What do you feel like?" May asked, looking around the main street.
Daisy smiled crookedly. "You're letting me pick? Damn, now I know it went well."
May stopped walking to look her in the eyes. "You were great." She said sincerely.
Daisy coloured slightly, ducking her head. "Thanks." She mumbled. Mom.
Melinda caught sight of a place down the street. "Burgers?" She asked.
Daisy looked up, following her gaze. "Not there." She said, "That place sucks."
May raised an eyebrow. "You've been here before?"
She shrugged. "A while ago."
For someone who had so successfully pulled off a meeting with some of the highest in the country, Daisy still wore her heart on her sleeves. Maybe it was just because she didn't feel the need to hide her feelings from May. Either way, it was clear she was uncomfortable. "Okay." May shrugged, not pushing the issue.
She didn't miss the grateful smile Daisy shot her. "So where's a good burger place?" Melinda asked, looking around. "I'm not setting foot in McDonalds."
Daisy snorted. "You might it I pushed you in."
"I'd take you down with me." May smirked, and had taken a few more steps when she noticed that Daisy had stopped. She backtracked to see what she was looking at and whistled appreciatively. "Nice."
Daisy jumped, slightly mollified at being caught off guard. "Sorry." She muttered, but continued to stare at the leather jacket in the window.
May's smirk widened. It looked like she was in love. "Do you want to try it on?"
Daisy shook herself. "No." She said, "It's okay, it's probably way to expensive."
May rolled her eyes. "You talked to the president today." She said, "I think we can find some room in the budget for a new jacket." Daisy still looked hesitant. "Or call it an early christmas present."
"No, come on, that's way too much for a christmas present." Daisy protested.
May shrugged. "Agree to disagree." When she saw the look in Daisy's eye she relented. "At least try it on. See if you like it. It can't hurt. Besides, I want to try that one." She gestured to another jacket, hanging on a rack inside.
Daisy smiled hesitantly. "Okay." She murmured. This could be fun. And it was so... normal. Trying on clothes with May. It felt kind of wrong, but also really nice. The kind of thing that she could get used to. Just casually spending time together. Even the thought sent this happy kind of ache through her.
Melinda let Daisy go into the store first, following just behind her. Which meant that when Daisy abruptly backed out again, she walked right into her.
May stumbled back, "Daisy!" She yelped, surprised.
Daisy walked rapidly away, "On second thoughts let's not." She said, voice tight.
Melinda hurried after her. "Why not?" Daisy didn't say anything, "Daisy!"
"Can we please not talk about it?" Daisy begged, continuing at her brisk pace. "For once can you just let me be weird and broken and just let it go?!"
She was upset, that much was obvious, and May decided to take a second. "Okay." She said, "Just slow down." She let her voice take on that slightly firmer tone. The one that said, 'I'm your S.O. so you'll do as I say.'
It seemed to work, since Daisy took a breath to calm down, but she didn't stop walking. That was okay though.
After a couple of minutes, Daisy sighed. "Sorry." She muttered.
Feeling like she might get a response now, May fell into stride beside her. "Talk to me."
Daisy winced, then laughed sardonically. "I was having a good day, you know?" She said. "Even though we're... here."
She sighed. "I lived here for a while. But I guess you knew that."
May shrugged, letting her talk.
"I... I had a foster family who lived around here." Daisy said, painfully aware that she'd never talked about any of her past homes to May before beyond a passing mention. "Lived her for... about six months. Then..." She didn't say it. She knew there wasn't any need. Daisy swallowed. "I- uh. I just... I saw... her, in that store, that's why I... I just couldn't do it. Sorry I ran out like that."
Daisy risked a look at May and saw that her back was rigid, her fists clenched. "What did they do?" She asked, forcefully calm.
Daisy could have spotted her rage a mile off. "What did they- oh God, no, May, they didn't..." She paused, not able to say they hadn't hurt her. "They never hit me or- anything. They weren't like that." May seemed to relax, so she continued. "I- they were really strict. Had all these rules about what time to be home, when I did my homework." She laughed hollowly, "They weren't screwing around about them either. I- missed a couple of homework assignments and got 'grounded'." She put air quotes around the word. "And- when they were out, I accidentally bumped this crystal decanter. Shattered it." She let out a shaky breath. "I guess that was strike three, you know?"
May looked at her, ignoring the passers-by. "Did you want to stay with them?"
Daisy shrugged. "I- yeah. They were strict but the house was clean and they fed me and they never... you know." She looked away. "I wasn't really in a position to be picky."
Melinda had to fight to keep from any sympathy showing on her face. She knew that Daisy hated that just as much as she did. She caught sight of a place a few doors down. "Milkshake?"
"Oh God yes."
They ended up getting food at the diner they had stopped at, Daisy having a greasy but delicious looking burger, May settling on a sandwich and some fries. She didn't try to make Daisy talk as she ate, partly because she didn't want to ruin a burger that she did look like she was enjoying. Partly because she needed a moment to process everything Daisy had just said.
It was a nice diner anyway. They sat at a table inside, May was facing the window, Daisy with her back to it. It was clear that she didn't want to be spotted on the off chance her old foster mother walked past.
Melinda's mind was buzzing. She knew Daisy had had a rough childhood. Hell, a rough life. In the years that she had known her now, Daisy had never mentioned her foster families unless in passing.
That wasn't to say that May hadn't noticed things though. Things like the way Daisy had used to flinch any time she or Coulson made a sudden move, and the scars that were shaped that little bit too much like cigarette burns. She hadn't said anything about them, and Daisy acted like they weren't there, but they were. And they made Melinda's blood boil.
"Just say it." Daisy's voice cut through her thoughts, surprisingly calm as she sipped at her strawberry milkshake.
May looked at her for a moment. Her kid. Who had grown up so much, even in the last few months. Who had saved her in so many ways. She sighed. "You said they didn't hurt you." She muttered. "But other homes did."
Daisy nodded, looking at the foam. She couldn't help the pang of shame. She knew it was stupid, but part of her thought May would be disappointed in her. Disappointed that she hadn't defended herself. "Some, yeah. It didn't usually last very long. I fought back too much for most of them. Or I'd give them enough crap that they'd lash out too much. Once people started noticing... well."
"Think I should put that on a business card now or something?" Daisy asked sarcastically.
"Look, it wasn't like I did it on purpose." Daisy protested. "I just... couldn't keep my mouth shut I guess."
"It wasn't your fault."
Daisy snorted. "Oh, I know." She said, to May's relief. "I just- it was almost worse when the place was... nice. Cos I'd just know they were gonna kick me out, but I'd always be there just long enough to think..." She swallowed some of the milkshake. "It's worse if you want it."
"All I want is to stop them from doing that to anyone ever again."
Daisy smiled. "I- uh... might have beat you to it." She said, and May cocked her head curiously. "One of the first things I learned to hack was the agency files. I mean, it started out just so I could see if I could. Once I realised that I could though... I'd blacklist those families."
May smiled proudly.
"And... might have gotten a couple of the worse ones jailed."
"That's my girl."
There was still a tightness to May's face. Daisy glanced around. "I'm okay, you know that, right?" She asked softly.
That warmth that May had been showing more and more was clear in her eyes. "You're a lot better than okay." She said, "But it's no thanks to people like that."
"I got through it."
"Yeah." May said softly. "And I'm so happy you did."
Daisy blushed ever so slightly. "Sap." She muttered, then yelped when May kicked her. Daisy grinned shyly. "I- thanks for listening, May, it... well it means a lot that I can talk about it."
Melinda paused. "Sap."
Daisy stared for a moment, then burst out laughing, trying and failing to kick her in retribution.
Melinda smiled, glad to have made her laugh. She waiting a moment before asking, "Do you want to talk to her?"
Daisy sobered, thought, and shook her head. "I don't even know what I'd say."
Daisy was surprised. "You're not gonna make me?"
She shrugged. "I think you know what you need. Besides, I'd be a bit of a hypocrite if I did."
Daisy smiled, swirling her straw around in the empty glass. She could remember when Coulson first compared her to May, thinking he had a screw loose. But she hadn't known May very well back then, hadn't even liked her. A lot had changed. "Should we head back to the Zephyr?"
May glanced at her phone. "Soon, yeah. No need to rush though. Just training."
Daisy kept chatting as they walked back, and Melinda was glad for it. She half expected her to shut down, fall into that deadened silence that came with her dwelling on things she couldn't change. She wasn't though.
"So how's your strike team? Learning?"
May grimaced. "Some of them more than others. Piper's good though."
Daisy bit her lip. "... How good?"
Melinda smirked. "Why do you want to know?" She asked innocently.
Daisy scowled. "I'm not jealous." She protested.
"I'm not, I just-"
Melinda frowned when she felt Daisy seize her hand tightly. "That doesn't help your case Daisy." She said sarcastically, but stopped when she saw the look on Daisy's face.
Then the woman a little way down the street, not looking their way.
May set her jaw. "That her?"
Daisy nodded, and May tried to keep from looking like she was going to kick this woman's ass. There was no point. "You wanna hide? I won't judge."
There was a stiffness in Daisy's chest. "No. I- I can't let them... rule me. It's fine. I'm fine."
May wove their fingers together. "It's okay."
"I know." Daisy murmured, squeezing her hand. "She can't do anything to me."
Despite admiring Daisy's maturity, May couldn't help but give into the urge to bump into the woman as they passed, her foot catching her shin hard enough to bruise.
"Ow!" The woman yelped, "Oh, I'm sorry." She muttered to May, unsure who had run into who.
Daisy seemed frozen, and Melinda muttered a curse in Chinese. It seemed to break through her shock, and she snorted. Daisy quickly apologised. "Sorry." She muttered to the woman, "Her English isn't the best."
Melinda continued to mutter abuse at the woman while she had the opportunity. What kind of stupid family would give Daisy up anyway? She was too good for them. She was too good for May too, but thankfully didn't seem to mind. She was the best kid ever, and more than Melinda could have ever wanted in a daughter.
"Okay, sorry then." The woman said, walking away.
May barely restrained a growl as she went, and was about to make another scathing remark when she saw the look in Daisy's eyes. "What?"
When Daisy blinked away tears, May remembered how easy it was for her to speak her mind in Chinese. It was actually more difficult not to at times. Like now. She had said all of that out loud. In front of Daisy.
Daisy swallowed. "You mean it?"
The ball of apprehension in her stomach was nothing new, but May refused to give in to it. She loved Daisy, that wasn't something she was ashamed of. "Well I didn't say it for her." She growled, glaring after the woman. When Daisy clung to her hand even tighter, she deflated a little. "Don't tell me you're surprised." May muttered, not quite looking at her. It wasn't that she was ashamed. Just a little shy. Which didn't happen very often.
May wasn't surprised in the least when Daisy pulled her into a quick, yet tight hug. The kind of hug that made May's heart ache for her, because it spoke so many levels. "Thanks for... being you." Daisy muttered into her shoulder.
"Right back at you." Melinda murmured, gently pulling away. She let Daisy snag her hand again, and walk as close to her as she could.
Daisy gently bumped shoulders with May. After a moment she mumbled, "She didn't even recognise me." She kind of hated it. That this woman who had caused her so much doubt and hurt in the years since she had seen her didn't even recognise Daisy now. She wished she could forget them too.
"Because you've changed." May said softly. "You've grown up so much. Even in the last few months."
"Still." Daisy muttered. "I- it's always a daydream to imagine them saying that they were wrong. You know?"
"Yeah." May said, "but you don't need them to. You know you were too good for them. All of them. It's not your fault they couldn't handle you."
Daisy laughed softly. "That's a... flattering way of putting it."
It was two days later when Daisy opened her closet to put her second favourite jacket away that she noticed something odd. Something... new.
She took the hanger out, looking at whatever it was that had found it's way into her closet.
A leather jacket. No, the leather jacket. The one she had all but forgotten about in the events that followed her seeing it for the first time that day.
She pulled it on. Exactly her size. And there was only one person who could have gotten it.
Letting a slow smile creep onto her face, Daisy crept out of her room.
She knew May was in the gym not far away, and Daisy silently stepped inside, grinning when she saw that May had her back turned and was engrossed in her tai chi. Daisy kept her breathing quiet and her footsteps soft as she snuck up behind her S.O. When May took a breath to change positions, Daisy pounced, hugging her tightly and almost taking them both to the ground.
May yelped at the unexpected contact, barely refraining from flipping Daisy over her shoulder. When she realised who it was, she grinned. "It fits then."
Daisy giggled, squeezing tight enough to knock the air from her lungs. "I told you it was too expensive!" She tried to protest.
May shrugged. "I told you agree to disagree."
Daisy laughed, a rushed, happy sound that she couldn't keep in for the life of her. "I love you." She said quickly, before her doubts stopped her.
Melinda smiled. "I knew the jacket would do it."
Daisy laughed again, gently punching her arm. "Shut up, you know it's not cos of that."
May hummed in acknowledgment. "Love you too." She murmured, returning the hug. "Don't tell anyone."
Daisy smiled, snuggling closer. "Our secret." She whispered, then paused. "Not that it's that well-kept."