May could deal with Daisy avoiding her. She could. The Framework had been a lot to deal with, and while none of them had been their best selves, Melinda knew she had been one of the worst. Her and Fitz. He hadn't been to the base in over a week. Since they got back. May walked through the corridors and was annoyed to note that her muscles still protested even that minor strain.
It turned out that being strapped to a table for weeks on end didn't do much to maintain her strength or fitness.
Hell, Phil could probably take her right now. Not that she would admit it, because then he might try. Or even worse, try to convince her otherwise with those wide, sympathetic eyes. May didn't want sympathy. She wanted to get better so that she could fix the things she had done. Though part of her knew that she might not be able to do that.
Sleeping certainly wasn't getting anything done though, so she threw on her workout clothes. May tried to ignore how they hung off her now. That would change quickly. Though it would change faster if she ate more than once a day.
When Melinda arrived at the gym she wasn't totally surprised to see that Daisy was already there. She had been through just as much as May had. More, even. When Daisy saw her, her face changed from surprise to restrained fear. "Hi- oh, you wanna work out." Daisy said softly, not looking at her. "I-I can go."
"No." May said sharply. "It's fine." She wasn't weak. She wasn't a disgrace. She didn't need everyone treating her like she was made of glass. Like a gentle breeze would shatter her. She was fine.
Daisy swallowed. "Okay." She murmured, going back to her pull-ups. She tried to make the feeling go away. It wouldn't. It's okay. She tried to tell herself. Everything's fine.
She almost believed it.
It was hard not to keep glancing at May out of the corner of her eye. Daisy fought to keep her breathing regular, her heartbeat under control, her powers inside. She dropped from the bar. "A-are you sure you're okay?" She asked, seeing May heading towards the weights. She knew that could end badly, especially since May was definitely frustrated with her relative lack of strength right now.
"Fine." May said stiffly, changing the weight.
Daisy approached cautiously. "May, come on. You know you need someone to spot you if you're doing weights."
May turned, glaring, and Daisy fought not to back away. "What I need," She said poisonously, "Is to train in peace."
Daisy swallowed. "Okay, then I'll just... stand behind you- and if you need-"
"No!" May snapped, rounding on her. "I don't need your help, I don't need your pity," She stalked closer to Daisy, not noticing that she was backing away. "I need you to leave me the hell alone and let me do my job, or I swear to God I will show you how strong I still am."
Daisy's back hit the wall. She couldn't speak. She couldn't breathe. She just wanted to apologise, to beg, please don't hurt me. She couldn't. She couldn't do anything, and May was right there and she could feel every bruise and broken bone that Hydra had inflicted on her in the Framework. Tears welled in Daisy's eyes, "I-I..." She gasped. She couldn't say anything. Her voice was gone. Everything was gone and she didn't know what to do.
The floor beneath them started to shake, and May looked down. "Your powers can't fix everything-" She started to say, before noting the look on Daisy's face.
Oh no. "Daisy, are you okay?"
Daisy tried to speak again, but May was still right there. So close to her. Close enough to touch her, close enough to hurt her. Again.
May wouldn't do that. A little voice in her head chimed, but it didn't matter.
May reached out to touch her arm. "Hey." She murmured, but the second she touched her Daisy flinched away, sinking to the floor with her head in her hands, her body shaking more violently than the room.
Melinda took a few steps back, cursing herself. How hadn't she noticed? Was she really so self-involved that she hadn't realised that Daisy was suffering? That Daisy was scared of her?
The floor continued to shake, rattling the weights off the bar. Daisy jumped when they thumped to the ground. When she looked around for the threat, she only saw May, now several feet away, holding her hands up peacefully. Daisy bowed her head again. "I'm sorry." She whispered, "I'm sorry I'm sorry I'm sorry."
The way she kept repeating the words almost broke Melinda's heart. "It's okay." She said, not sure what else she could say. "Daisy, you're safe." She swallowed. "I'm not going to hurt you."
Daisy whimpered quietly. "That's what they always say." She whispered.
As usual, the mention of Daisy's childhood sent a thrill or rage through her. But right now there were more important things to worry about. "Okay." May said, "Then I'll go. I'm going to go and get Coulson."
"No." Daisy said flatly, pushing herself to her feet. "I-I just-" She pursed her lips to keep from crying. "I should go." She sniffled. "I-I'm sorry."
"Daisy-" But she was gone. It took all of May's willpower not to immediately follow her.
May knocked gently on Daisy's door an hour later. "Daisy? It's me."
There was a moment of silence, then a quiet voice replied. "Please don't come in."
Melinda's heart ached. "I won't." She assured, sliding down to the ground. "I'm sorry I pushed like that."
There was a sniffle. "It's okay. I-I shouldn't have... I'm being stupid."
May shook her head. God, she just wanted to fix this. "No, you're not." She said. "I-I hurt you."
Daisy swallowed, curled up on her bed. "You didn't know."
"I still hurt you."
"May, it's okay." Daisy tried to assure. "I-I just need some time. Nothing's changed."
"It has. Things are different now, there's no point lying about it."
Daisy laughed softly. "Back at it with the comforting lies."
"You know I hate those."
Daisy sighed. "Yeah." She hesitated. "I- I'm trying not to be like this. I just..." She groaned. "I don't know what's wrong with me. Plenty of people have hurt me before."
"Yeah." May murmured. "And I promised myself I'd never be one of them."
Daisy closed her eyes, hugging her pillow tightly to her chest. She took a shaky breath. "I... I still love you." She murmured, half hoping May hadn't heard. "That hasn't changed."
Some of the tension May felt eased, getting replaced with a more familiar kind. She hesitated. "I- love you too." She said haltingly. "That's why I need to make this better. I... I need to fix this Daisy, but I don't know how." May bit her lip. "Can you... tell me what I can do?"
Daisy smiled, wiping her eye with one hand. "You don't have to do anything." She said softly. "I'm not mad. I don't blame you. I just-" She sighed. "It's like a gut reaction, I can't... I can't stop it right now. And I want to, I do." She sucked in a breath. "You got me out. I-I shouldn't be like this."
May sucked in a shaking breath. "I can't sleep." She admitted, leaning her head against the door. "Every time I close my eyes all I can see is- you- and... I let that happen."
"It wasn't your fault."
"I know." May said. "But it still happened."
Daisy was silent for the longest time before she stood and moved to sit down by the door. It was almost like May was there. Almost. "I hate this." Daisy muttered. "I-I haven't seen you in ages. Did you know that I'm staying? I'm not going anywhere, I-I need you guys." She bit her lip. "And I'm sorry I didn't come back sooner, and there's totally something going on with you and Coulson and- I just wanna talk about everything and train like we used to but I can't cos I'm being stupid."
"Stop it." May said, slightly less sharply than she normally would. "Daisy, you are not being stupid." She swallowed. "You've got a history of being hurt by people close to you. It's a natural reaction."
"But I know you're not gonna hurt me." Daisy said. "I missed you." she whispered, resting her hand against the door.
"I missed you too." May murmured. "And I'll be here when you're ready." A thought occurred to her and she drew a loose piece of paper and pen from her jacket.
Daisy cocked her head at the sound of writing. "What are you doing?"
"Just a second." The sound continued, and a few seconds later a piece of paper slid under the door.
Daisy took it and frowned.
Monday – Training 5-7 Downstairs Gym
Breakfast 7-7:15 Main Kitchen
Paperwork 8-11 Coulson's office
Daisy bit her lip, eyes scanning the rest of it. "Your... schedule?"
May nodded. "Well we can figure it out. You don't like training early."
"You tried your best to make me."
May smiled, but sobered after a moment. "Is there anywhere you want me to stay away from? A time of day?"
Daisy smiled, tears welling in her eyes. May was trying to help. She didn't care that Daisy was being stupid because she cared about her. It shouldn't have felt as important a realisation as it did, and Daisy swallowed the lump in her throat. "Uuh," She coughed a little to disguise the tremor in her voice. "I think I'm gonna end up doing some late night work outs."
Melinda nodded. "Downstairs?" It was both of their favourite gym.
She nodded. "Okay. And... if you need anything, I'm here. Always, got it?"
Daisy squeezed her eyes shut, tears creeping down her face, and smiled. "May, I- uuh." She swallowed. "I kind of want to hug you right now."
"Raincheck." May said gently.
"Okay. I'm holding you to it."
May smiled. "I know." She murmured. "I'm glad you're staying."
May stuck to her schedule, avoiding Daisy easily enough. Once or twice they passed each other in the hallway and Melinda kept her stance relaxed and free, hands clearly in view. Harmless. It was a week after their talk when she found herself in the gym for her usual morning workout and saw Daisy standing in the doorway, looking nervous.
May immediately stopped hitting the bag. "You good?"
Daisy nodded. "I-I think so." She moved closer, sitting on a balancing beam. "If it's okay, I'll just... watch for a bit."
Despite feeling oddly self-conscious, May nodded and turned back to the bag.
Daisy watched her. She knew May. She knew what her hands felt like on hers, helping her up, correcting her stance, moving her along. May had always meant safety, she was familiar. It was hard to separate her from her Framework self, cold and distant. But maybe separating the two wasn't what she had to do.
A slow smirk formed on Daisy's face as she noticed something. She weighed her decision for a moment, then spoke up. "You're dropping your elbows."
May paused, lowering her hands, and turned to give Daisy an exaggerated look that somehow said, 'Really?'
Daisy snorted, muffling her laughter with one hand, and May rolled her eyes, turning back to the bag to hide her smile. She couldn't remember the last time she'd heard Daisy laugh.
She continued to work for another few minutes, working up more of a sweat than she'd have liked. When May felt the slight 'thump' in the ground, she knew that Daisy had stood. She was leaving, and that was okay. It was good that she was making so much progress and knew when to stop.
The lack of further footsteps gave May pause though, and just as she started to turn to Daisy and ask if she was okay, she found herself almost bowled over from the force of Daisy's hug.
May stumbled back a couple of steps to avoid taking them both to the ground, and Daisy giggled. "Wow, you really are slipping, huh?" She teased.
Melinda smirked, "Careful." She warned, poking Daisy in the ticklish spot between her ribs.
Daisy squeaked and twisted away from the touch, still hugging her. "Okay okay." She grinned. "You're a badass, happy?" They both knew that this was all practice. Not just being around May, but being around her while she hit things. Goading her, teasing her, sneaking up on her, and feeling safe doing so.
May hummed, hugging her back. She wouldn't admit how little she wanted to let go. It felt like she hadn't seen Daisy in a very long time. "Getting there."
Daisy snuggled her head into her neck. "Thank you." She murmured, "For... everything."
Melinda smiled. "Any time."
Daisy sighed, savouring the feeling for a moment before drawing away. She cleared her throat. "So I haven't done tai chi in a while."
May raised an eyebrow. "I can tell." When Daisy gave her a scandalised look, she grinned. "I was going to do some next, if you want to join."
"I'd love to."