Melinda May woke with a start, but was immediately surprised by how little she moved. Despite just regaining consciousness, she felt exhausted. Weakened. She tried to open her eyes but found that it was more difficult that she had thought.
A hushed voice caught her ear. "Guys, I think she's waking up!"
She knew that voice. Daisy?
A hand pulled one of her eyes open and May groaned, trying to turn her head away and failing at that too. Jemma immediately started gently palpating around her throat, feeling for any signs of swelling. "Hold still." She said, "This won't take a moment."
Daisy rolled her eyes, almost wanting to grab Jemma to stop her. "She just woke up Jemma, give her a break."
May was inclined to agree, but she couldn't speak around the dryness in her throat. She was slowly realising that she couldn't do much of anything really. She was grateful when Jemma removed her hands, but became annoyed when she started poking none too gently at her leg wound.
May batted weakly at her hand. "Stop it."
"She speaks." A new voice said, and May's eyes were drawn to Elena, sitting in the corner.
She looked around, taking stock of their surroundings. The four of them were in a tent, the dirt beneath them covered by thin material. Earth then. May swallowed thickly, her throat hurting more than it should have. "The others?"
"Figuring out a way back." Daisy filled, shifting her rickety looking chair closer. "I had to fight pretty hard to make Coulson go." She had that familiar look in her eyes, but May ignored it.
Instead she fixated on Daisy. "You're hurt."
The other three scoffed. "I'm hurt?" Daisy said with a grin. "You've been awake for like two minutes and you haven't even tried to get up. I'm fine."
Jemma unwrapped her leg, grimacing. "You're lucky it didn't get infected." She muttered. "If I see you try one more high kick before this had fully healed I swear I'll attach a ball and chain to this leg."
May shrugged, looking down. "Sorry." She muttered.
She didn't notice the look that the other three exchanged. Jemma hesitated. "It's okay." She said, "I was only joking." She paused. "How do you feel?"
May shrugged again, not speaking. She didn't want to admit how beaten down she felt. How much she just wanted to go home.
Jemma's eyes darted to Daisy, and she sighed. Jemma looked so helpless. Daisy shuffled closer still to May. "Come on." She murmured. "Let me help you get your jacket off, it's kind of gross and we need to make sure you're not losing blood from those stabs."
It was weird to see May so down. Daisy wasn't sure she'd ever seen her this defeated. Even after Andrew had turned into Lash she held onto her will to fight. Now though...
Daisy pushed the thoughts aside. This wasn't the time for that kind of worry. Now was the time when she could help, so she would. She tried to ignore the concern that had been stirring deep in her stomach since she found out where May had been sent, but it proved to be impossible as Daisy gently worked May's arms out of her jacket. She wasn't even trying to help Daisy get her jacket off, and the way she was holding herself… it was like her limbs had turned to jelly.
Melinda tried to hold herself still and let Daisy pull the jacket off her, but when she sat down on the bed to prop her up and slide her other arm free she couldn't stop herself from melting against her, her eyes not quite fluttering shut.
Daisy froze when she felt May's body go limp, the jacket clutched in one hand. "May? You okay?"
May didn't respond, not showing even the slightest sign that she'd heard her. Daisy's eyes flickered to Jemma, who leaned over to be closer to May's eyes. "Hey." She said softly. "May I need to know if you can hear us. Can you say something?"
Melinda swallowed thickly. Her throat felt like glue. "Yeah." She said after several long seconds.
Jemma nodded. "Okay, good. Thank you."
Daisy stayed where she was for now, gently keeping one arm wrapped around May's side, letting her rest against her. Normally she would be thrilled that May was being so tactile. But this wasn't normal, and Daisy was pretty sure that the only reason she wasn't pushing her away was because she didn't have the strength.
She heard the telltale whooshing that accompanied Elena's zipping around, and looked down to see a bucket of water, steaming slightly, and a couple of rags. May didn't move as Jemma pushed her shirt up, gently examining and cleaning her wounds.
Daisy could feel the tiny twitches that she knew were almost entirely reflex, her body reacting to the pain of Jemma's ministrations. May would usually hide any such acknowledgement, Daisy knew. She felt so useless, unable to do anything to help May. After everything she had done for them, everything she'd been through.
May twitched again, her eyes still closed, and Daisy hesitantly brought one hand up and began to drag her fingers through her hair, dislodging dirt and tiny rocks as she did. "It's okay." She said softly. "We're here."
May made no response, but Daisy noticed the decrease in her flinches, so she considered it a win. May didn't even react when Elena began to gently clean her hands with the damp cloth, and Daisy continued to stroke her hair. After she had removed as much of the dirt as she could with her hands, Daisy reached for the bucket, carefully using a cloth to wash her hair more effectively. It was blackened in seconds.
Daisy managed a weak smile. "Plus side to having dark hair, right?"
When May didn't reply, Elena laughed. "Unless you work with flour."
Daisy rolled her eyes. "It's good none of us are cooks then."
"We could use one." Jemma said with a grin. "I'd kill for a good meal."
"Kasius had decent food." Daisy muttered. "I stole some. He was really mad."
"Mad enough to throw you in the fighting pit."
Melinda was vaguely aware that they were talking. She knew that they were trying to get her to wake up, react to what they were saying. She just couldn't find the energy or will. On some level she knew she should feel embarrassed that her team was cleaning her up like she was a child, but she didn't care about that either.
Elena sighed softly. May looked so helpless. Daisy and Jemma did too. Hell, she probably looked pretty beaten up herself. They had all been through so much. She bit her lip momentarily, thinking of what she could say. "We found an Inhuman boy." She offered. "His name is Flint. You would like him. He's a fighter, like you."
Maybe she wasn't being subtle enough. Maybe May just didn't care what happened anymore. Either way she didn't react at all to Elena's words, and she fell silent.
No one spoke for several minutes after that. Daisy, Jemma, and Elena gently helped May into a change of clothes, the situation too extreme for any of them to feel awkward about it. Daisy snuck out from her position with May leaning on her when they changed her shirt, certain that May would need to sleep. Probably for at least a day.
It only took a couple of minutes for Daisy to see May's eyes begin to flutter closed and for her breathing to slow. The three sat in silence, their concern palpable.
"I'll stay with her." Daisy whispered after several minutes. "You guys can go."
Elena shook her head. "I want to make sure she is okay."
Jemma nodded. "Me too." She murmured.
Daisy sighed. "She'll be out for a while though." She said softly. "And besides, don't you have a wedding to plan?"
Jemma scoffed. "This is hardly the time Daisy."
"You got engaged?" May's voice caused three sets of eyes to lock onto her, stunned.
Jemma stared for a moment, barely registering the question until Daisy elbowed her in the ribs. "Oh- yes." She said, smiling. "Fitz and I..."
Daisy snorted. "No, she got engaged to Mack." She teased. "Yoyo's really mad about it."
"It is not obvious?" Elena asked with a grin.
Jemma scoffed and rolled her eyes, but she couldn't help but feel touched by how happy May looked. "Congratulations." She said softly.
Jemma smiled. "Thank you." She said. "It all happened so quickly, I suppose I haven't had time to think about it."
"We've had a lot going on." Daisy reminded her.
"That's putting it lightly." May grunted, shifting a little to get more comfortable. Elena moved to help her and she didn't push her away. Instead she looked between the three of them, saw the scrapes and bruises, the circles under their eyes, the tension on their shoulders. "You should rest." She said softly.
Jemma laughed. "That's the pot calling the kettle black a little, don't you think?"
May huffed. "I'm resting."
Elena grinned. "She has a point."
"Chairs are better than the floor." Daisy said. "Trust me, I know."
May blamed the blood loss for how long it took to understand. "This is the only bed?"
Daisy shrugged awkwardly. "This isn't exactly the ritz." She muttered. "We're fine, you rest."
Melinda looked between the three of them for a moment before reaching out. "Come here." She instructed Daisy, trying to ignore the tremble in her hands as she waited for Daisy to take it.
Knowing better than to bother arguing, Daisy went to her and immediately found herself being pulled next to May on the bed. She smiled, feeling a little awkward but also very touched.
"Jemma." May said, her tone leaving no room for argument. Jemma huffed a laugh as she was positioned slightly further down on the bed, her head resting quite close to May's leg. She would have to be careful not to bump it by accident.
Elena moved to sit on the edge of the bed before May called her over. She knew it was coming. Still, she was happy when May positioned her at her other side.
The bed was kind of lumpy and definitely not made for four people, but Daisy couldn't help but realise it was the most comfortable she'd felt in a long time. They laid there in silence for several minutes, and Daisy noticed that both May and Jemma seemed to have dozed off. She smiled. This was nice.
But there was a slight lump digging into her back.
Daisy shifted, trying to get rid of it, but immediately found an arm wrapping around her shoulders.
"No." May said flatly, not opening her eyes.
Daisy giggled, not surprised to see Jemma and Elena doing the same. "Glad you're feeling like yourself again." She teased.
"Shut up. I'm trying to sleep."
Daisy grinned, turning so that she could return the not-hug that May had trapped her in. "We missed you." She said, Jemma and Elena humming in agreement.
And even though May was very effectively faking sleep, she couldn't quite hide her smile.
a.n. So... I've been challenged to hit my 100th fic by the time the 100th episode airs. So that's... happening now. RIP me. I felt kind of weird about this fic, so if you could drop me a comment if you liked it I'd really appreciate it. I guess I'm doing four more fics before March 12th!