When Phil Coulson was worried about something it was sometimes difficult to tell whether it was actually serious or not. Sometimes Natasha had relapsed, sometimes he couldn't find his Captain America trading cards. It was an even guess when he walking into Maria's office what his problem would be.
Seeing Phil hurry into her office wringing his hands didn't worry Maria. He did that most days.
But when May followed closely behind him, her breath visibly quick, Maria sat up. "What is it?" She asked, looking between them. "Is it Daisy? Is she okay? What happened?"
"We don't know." Phil said, clasping his phone in one hand. "The- the school just called, we have to go."
"What happened?" Maria repeated.
The corners of May's mouth tightened. "She got in a fight."
Daisy knew that no one was going to hurt her right now. She knew that the subtle throb of her eye and arm were far from the worst she had ever been hurt, and that the people who had done it were gone, being coddled by their dumb parents. She knew that, so why was she still curled up in the corner of the gym?
She had heard the vice principal try to get her to come with her, but she hadn't moved. Couldn't move. Why couldn't she move? Her heart was hammering in her chest and she couldn't make it stop. She didn't know what to do.
Daisy twitched when she heard the gym door open, but she didn't look up. That visceral fear inside her expected to see... them. She knew that she wouldn't, that the odds were almost totally against it, but there was still that tiny chance. The ache of her bruises reminded her of them. All of them.
So she didn't look up, didn't move from the ground until a familiar hand was extended to her.
Daisy blinked at it for a moment, then gave a shaky sigh and let May pull her to her feet.
"Let me see." May said softly, waiting for Daisy's nod before she touched her face to see the black eye and rolled up her sleeve to see the pale bruise there. She smiled gently, giving Daisy a nod. "You'll be okay." She assured, but found herself pausing at how Daisy was staring at the floor and hunching her shoulders. "Daisy? Are you okay?"
Daisy nodded repeatedly, but the tears had finally started to sting at her eyes. Like they'd just been waiting for May to come and get her. Like she had been waiting to fall apart.
Melinda pulled Daisy into her arms. "It's okay." She murmured, letting Daisy cry into her shoulder. "You're okay honey."
Daisy tried to speak but found herself hiccupping instead. "I- I- I'm..."
"Shhh, calm down." May hushed, stroking her hair. "We're here, don't worry. Focus on my breathing."
Daisy tried. She closed her eyes and tried to forget the pain, instead turning her attention to May's breathing. The slow feeling of her fingers stroking her hair. She forced herself to hold her breath for a moment, then altered her breathing pattern to mimic May's and felt herself calming down. "I-I'm sorry."
"Don't worry about that right now." May murmured. "The important thing is that you're okay."
Those two said that so often that Daisy had started to believe them. "M'fine." She mumbled, pulling away.
May smiled. "You are." She agreed. "Phil's talking to your principal, we're going to take you home."
"'kay." Daisy mumbled.
Melinda caught the sound of two men arguing coming closer and she gently ushered Daisy out of the back door, towards the parking lot.
"No, you can talk to her on Monday!" Phil's voice said firmly. "Daisy was hurt on your staff's watch, and now my wife and I are taking her home for the day!"
"Mister Coulson, it's this school's policy-"
"Is it this school's policy to let kids beat each other up?!" Phil asked, entering the gym just as Melinda and Daisy left through the back. "I'm taking my daughter home, she'll be back for class next week if her injuries aren't too severe."
Daisy looked back as those words hit her. She knew that she was Phil and Melinda's daughter now. She'd never been more scared than on their day in court, but it had only been a couple of months since then. She wasn't used to the warm feeling it elicited yet.
May nudged her gently. "Come on." She whispered. "We can wait in the car. I've got a first aid kit."
Daisy nodded quietly.
The ride home was quiet. Phil tried to talk to Daisy, to get her to tell them what happened or to distract her, but neither worked. She just sat quietly in the back seat, staring out the window. She was scared and he knew that Melinda could see it too. She wasn't the biggest talker though.
After a few minutes of trying to engage Daisy, Phil fell silent. She didn't need to talk right now, he reminded himself. Daisy needed space sometimes.
When they got home Phil busied himself making tea for the three of them while Daisy changed her clothes. He was glad to see her putting some ice on her eye, though it was far from the worst black eye he had seen.
Daisy sat quietly on the couch, waiting for them to say something. Waiting for the other shoe to drop. She knew that they wouldn't hurt her, Phil and Melinda weren't like that. But she knew that they must be angry with her.
May sat down next to her, leaving a little space so that Daisy didn't feel crowded. "Did you start it?"
Daisy swallowed. "No."
Phil sat down on her other side. "Why get involved?"
She looked down, shame clutching at her heart. "They- they were saying things." Daisy said, forcing herself not to get upset again. "Felicity told them to stop- and they hit her." Bile climbed her throat. "I had to- I had to stop them."
Phil put a hand on her back. "So you were protecting your friend."
The last word sent a sick feeling through her, but Daisy nodded. "She- she was protecting me first."
May was getting a sinking feeling in her stomach. Some kids at school had been making fun of Daisy and Felicity. She thought she had an idea as to why, but she didn't say anything just yet. "You give as good as you got?"
Daisy managed a smirk. "Better." She said, a hint of pride in her voice.
May smiled. "That's my girl."
Phil rolled his eyes good-naturedly, happy to see his girls smiling. "We're not meant to encourage our kid to fight Melinda."
"Talk shit get hit, Phil."
Phil snorted. "Now you're teaching her to swear."
"She's fifteen, she knows that word." May sobered, putting a hand on Daisy's shoulder. "We love you. Nothing will ever change that." She said. "You know that."
Daisy smiled and had just opened her mouth to reply when there was a knock at the door.
The three looked at each other, confused, before Phil stood and went to open the door. He resolved that if it was any teacher or administrator from that school he would close the door in their face.
The person at the door didn't particularly surprise him. "Felicity!" He greeted, holding the door open with a smile. "Come in! Have you put something on that cheek?"
Felicity smiled at him. "Oh- thank you Mister Coulson, the nurse gave me some cream- Sorry to come around so- without calling first, I just- I wanted to make sure Daisy was okay, if- if she wants to see me."
Daisy stood up. "Hey." She said softly. "I- are you okay? I couldn't see..." When Felicity stepped around Phil, Daisy got that pang in her heart. She was hurt. All because Daisy wouldn't stand up for herself. Stand up for them.
She wasn't sure who hugged first, but the next thing Daisy knew Felicity was in her arms. "Are you okay?" Felicity whispered. "I wanted to stay but they wouldn't let me."
"I'm- I'm fine." Daisy stuttered. "Are you okay?"
Felicity shook her head. "I'm okay." She assured, pulling away. "You were awesome. I thought Richard was gonna pee himself."
Daisy laughed softly. "I thought he did."
May stood. "Would you like some tea, Felicity?"
Felicity smiled and nodded. "That'd be great, thanks."
May approached as Phil boiled the kettle. She examined Felicity's bruised hands, noting how her thumb appeared to have been dislocated and subsequently reset. "I should teach you how to throw a punch." She said. "Or Daisy could."
Felicity smiled sheepishly. "We didn't really plan this." She muttered, looking down. "I'm the one who started it, Daisy was just trying to protect me."
Phil put a fresh cup of tea on the kitchen counter for her. "From what we've heard you two were doing a good job of protecting each other."
Melinda noticed the slight blush that spread across Felicity's cheeks.
"I guess we did." Felicity said softly, shooting Daisy what could only be described as a bashful smile.
Before Phil could notice Felicity's demeanour and question it, May stepped between them and took her hand. "Like this." She said, showing her how to hold her fist. "Thumb on the outside."
Felicity grinned. "I knew that thumb thing wasn't normal."
May rolled her eyes, smirking as she heard Daisy giggle. These two were good for each other. She turned to sit on a stool and saw the confused look Phil shot her. God he was oblivious. No wonder it took him ten years to ask her out. "So how was CS today?" She asked, again diverting Phil's attention. "Did you show up Mister Williamson again?"
Felicity snorted into her tea and Daisy grinned. "Depends on what you mean by showing him up."
Phil smiled good-naturedly. He was glad to see Daisy brightening up a little, even if he wanted to crack some heads over what had happened at school. His daughter had suffered enough.
His daughter. The thought still brought forth that bubbling happiness within. "Proving that you know more than him." He said, making the two of them laugh again.
"It's too hard not to do that!" Daisy said. "We just do things better, it's not our fault people notice."
Phil rolled his eyes and looked to Melinda. She was smiling too. "She gets this from you, you know."
"You're right, she does." May said, "I'm damn proud of that."
Daisy blushed slightly and looked down. She wasn't used to people being proud of her, but it was a feeling she liked.
Phil took a seat on the arm of the couch, nodding to the chairs at the table to encourage Felicity to take a seat too. "You two be careful, okay?" He said. "Hacking government mainframes won't always end as well as it did the first time." His words were light, but the warning was clear. Daisy knew that Phil and Melinda couldn't protect her from everything, no matter how hard they tried.
"We're being careful." Daisy assured. "Haven't hacked any spy organisations, right?"
Felicity smiled. "Right." She confirmed. "Only the state government." When Phil narrowed his eyes she giggled. "Kidding."
May shook her head to herself. These two were going to cause a lot of trouble together. But then all good couples did.
Daisy gave Felicity a brief hug goodbye after walking her back down the stairs to their building. Part of her felt like Phil and Melinda were watching her somehow. Waiting to see what she would do.
Felicity squeezed her tightly. "I'm glad you're okay." She murmured. "Sorry I got you hurt."
Daisy smiled. "We got each other hurt." She said. "So I think we're square." She bit her lip. "I-I'm sorry I didn't stand up to those guys."
Felicity shook her head. "No, it's okay, I get it. You don't have to be sorry."
Daisy felt herself tremble. "I am though."
Felicity smiled, then pressed a kiss to her cheek. "You're forgiven." She murmured, pulling away. "I-I really need to get home."
Daisy felt her cheeks flush. "Y-yeah. I'll see you on Monday."
"Count on it." Felicity grinned. "You're really cute when you blush." She said, before darting away.
Daisy buried her face in her hands and smiled helplessly. She loved this feeling. This giddy, happy feeling. It was worth a million black eyes.
She waited for a minute before going back upstairs. Her parents were spies after all. They'd notice her blushing in a heartbeat. It was hard to keep anything from them.
They always figured it out.
That thought stopped her right before she entered the apartment. They always did figure things out eventually. They'd figure this out too.
Daisy wasn't scared of telling them, not really. She knew that they would love her no matter what. She just didn't want them to think less of her. For this to be something they needed to forgive or overlook. But if it was, it would change her relationship with them forever.
She shook herself. More than anything else Phil had taught her to be honest, and May had taught her to be brave.
She loved them. She wanted to tell them.
She was still scared.
Daisy took a deep breath and pushed the door open.
The first thing she saw was May sitting at the counter with a glass of scotch. She nodded in greeting, nudging one of the stools so that Daisy could sit. Phil was cooking, though what she couldn't see. Probably pasta.
He smiled when he saw her. "Hey honey," He said, "Want a lemonade?"
Daisy shook her head and sat on the stool. "No thanks. I- uh. I need to talk to you guys."
May cocked her head, putting down her glass. "Is everything okay?"
Daisy nodded, trying to ignore that little voice screaming at her not to say it. "Yeah, I- everything's fine, I just... I'm bi." She swallowed. "Bisexual, I like guys and girls, and I... It's who I am, and- I hope you don't think less of me." Her heart was hammering in her chest, but at least she'd said it. It was out there now, she was out now.
Now she just needed to know what they would say. If they were disappointed with her. Daisy stared at the counter, waiting for them to say or do something.
May's arms wrapped around her gently. "I'm proud of you." She murmured. "I know how scared you must have been to tell us."
Daisy sighed against her, her arms curling up to her chest. "Are you mad?"
The question pulled Phil out of his stupor. "Oh, Daisy, no." He said, rounding the counter so that he could hug her too, hesitating until she fell against him. "No, we're not mad." He felt her tremble. "I'm glad you told us. We love you, no matter who you end up being ."
Daisy swallowed. "This isn't, like, a phase or anything." She said. "It's who I am."
"Oh no, that's not- that's not what I meant." Phil murmured. "Sorry, poor choice of words. I just mean... don't be scared to tell us things like this. We love you for the person you are."
Daisy smiled softly, finally melting entirely into the hug. "Sap." She muttered.
She felt May laugh against her and Phil huff. "You should have more respect young lady."
Daisy snorted. "You should earn it old man."
"Ooohh, sassy." He grinned, "You'd better watch it or I'll put mushrooms in your pasta from now until the end of time."
Daisy gasped. "You wouldn't!"
Phil chuckled. "Oh, I would. Just ask Melinda, I can hold a grudge."
May rolled her eyes, but there was laughter in her voice when she spoke. "The pot's boiling over."
"Crap!" Phil yelped, darting over to turn down the heat.
Daisy snuggled a little closer into May's embrace before she knew she would have to pull away.
"You did good." May whispered, pressing a kiss to her hair.
Daisy smiled shakily. "Thanks mom." She said quickly, before she could regret it.
May's breath caught in her throat at the word, her heart skipping a beat. She still wasn't used to this. Being a mom, even if it wasn't usually in name. She swallowed. "I love you."
Daisy squeezed her tightly. "You too."
It wasn't until all three of them were curled up on the couch after dinner that May felt the need to bring up Daisy's coming out. She needed Daisy to feel safe more than she wanted to push.
Still. They had ice cream now and the TV was on some late night comedy show. They could talk.
She turned the volume down a little and turned to Daisy. "So. Felicity?"
It was almost funny how quickly Daisy's expression changed to a wide-eyed, deer in headlights look.
She stared at May, trying and failing not to blush. "I- uuh- I mean, we're- we're... um." An affectionate smile coloured her face and she surrendered. "Yeah, we're... I don't know. We're figuring it out, I guess."
Phil smiled. "That's good." He said. "You're good together."
May's expression darkened. "Is that what happened today?"
Daisy swallowed. "I wasn't- I didn't lie about what happened." She said stoutly.
Phil shook his head, putting his hand gently over hers. "We didn't say you did, it's okay."
Daisy sighed, closing her eyes for a moment to calm down. She knew she was being defensive, and it took real effort to remind herself that Phil and May were always on her side. It was hard to accept. "Yeah." She whispered. "Some guys- they saw us, holding hands I guess, and they were saying things..." Disgust clawed at her throat. "I- I just wanted to go, but Felicity didn't wanna take them calling us… that."
Coulson sighed softly. "You didn't do the wrong thing." He said. "It's okay if you don't want to fight every time."
Daisy nodded. "Okay."
"But we're glad you know how." May said. "It could have gone a lot worse."
Daisy managed a smirk. "You should have seen them." She said.
"I'm sure you were great." Melinda murmured, wrapping an arm around her shoulders.
The three fell silent, watching TV for several minutes.
Once the show rolled to a conclusion Phil sat up suddenly, as if just realising something. "Oh, we have to have Felicity over for dinner!" He exclaimed, looking between the two of them. "I can make nachos, that'd be fun, right?"
Daisy smiled a little, concern tinting her face. "You're not gonna go all... 'what are your intentions', are you?"
Phil snapped his fingers. "You caught me."
Daisy spluttered a laugh and May grinned. "He's not going to let it go." She said, nudging Daisy in the ribs. "You can do it the easy way or the hard way."
Daisy shook her head and buried her face in her hands. Yeah, Phil could be embarrassing and May was annoyingly perceptive, but they loved her and wanted her to bring her girlfriend around for dinner.
She loved them for that.
Phil wasn't sure what tipped him off. Maybe it was how quickly Melinda had hugged Daisy, how she seemed to have a response ready when Daisy told them she was bisexual. Maybe it was a lot of things, but by the time she curled up against his chest in bed that night, he was certain. "You knew," He said. "Didn't you?"
She looked up at him, surprised. "Yeah." Melinda murmured. "I did."
Phil looked down. "Did she tell you?" Was tonight all because Daisy was scared of him? When had she told May?
"I figured it out." May said softly. "Daisy wears her heart on her sleeves, it was clear she liked Felicity." A smirk coloured her face. "She's almost as obvious as you."
"Hurtful." He said jokingly, and they both laughed.
After a moment, Phil sighed. "Why didn't you tell me?" Did Melinda really think he wouldn't accept Daisy? Was that it?
"It wasn't my secret to tell." She murmured. "I didn't want to take that decision away from her, to tell us." Melinda hesitated. "I know you don't like secrets, but I'm not sorry for this one."
"No, I understand." He said. "I guess I just- I really put my foot in my mouth earlier, and I was worried that- that you'd think I wouldn't be okay with it."
May rolled her eyes. "Phil."
"I know, I'm being stupid."
He groaned. "I just- I froze and you were so good right away and said all the good parenting stuff, I felt so useless. I didn't even know about Felicity!"
May grinned. "Have we been in some fight to be the alpha parent this whole time and you never told me?"
"What- no! That's not-" Phil sighed. "I should just... shut up."
May rolled her eyes again, sitting up so that she could look at him. "Daisy knows that you love her. So you worded a sentence wrong and froze up a little when she told you something pretty big about herself. That doesn't mean you're a bad parent. That's little stuff."
Phil sighed. "Little stuff matters with Daisy though." He mumbled.
Melinda smiled. "You're right, it does. Like how you let her choose the channel after dinner and we had ice cream for dessert. And how you let her stay up later than usual."
Phil shrugged awkwardly. "It's not a school day tomorrow." He muttered. "Besides she- she had a rollercoaster of a day. I'm proud of her."
"Me too. She kicked those guys asses."
"She did." Phil said warmly. "Just like her mom."
Melinda looked down. "It's still weird hearing it."
"I know." He murmured, letting his fingers drag through her hair. "I feel it too. But she's our kid now, and we're her parents. No matter what."