Much as Daisy gagged and pulled faces whenever May and Coulson so much as held hands, she loved that they were together. Every time they looked at each other with those lovesick eyes, Daisy would groan, but she would smile too. They both deserved to be happy. And despite it being kind of weird, Daisy was happy for them. That happiness overpowered the weirdness any day. She just liked teasing them.
So when May seemed a little more bleary eyed than usual, Daisy felt obligated in training to say that under no circumstances was May to tell her why.
What tipped Daisy off was the lack of a smile or a roll of the eyes; the usual response to her joking. May was worried about something. And, well, Daisy knew that she didn't have many people she would confide in. Even less who May would go to. None, actually.
So Daisy flopped down gracelessly on the couch beside May after breakfast and demanded to know, "What's up?"
She was not surprised in the least when May looked at her for a moment and said, "Nothing." For a moment Daisy almost believed her. Almost.
Daisy rolled her eyes. "Come on. I know you like to put on your scary agent face, but I know you."
"Daisy I'm fine."
Daisy sighed, leaning further into the couch. She still didn't know how May could always sit with such good posture. "You know I don't mean it when I make fun of you guys, right?" She said, "I'm really happy for you." She smiled down at her hands. "I- I love how you are when you're together."
May said nothing so Daisy probed a bit further. "Did something happen between you two?" She asked.
Melinda shook her head. "No."
Daisy rolled her eyes. "May, just talk to me." She said, surprising herself with how firm her voice sounded. "We're friends, right?"
When May looked at her Daisy pouted and widened her eyes pleadingly, and was proud that she elicited the tiniest twitch of a grin. "Smartass." May muttered.
Daisy smiled. If nothing else, she'd cheered May up a little. "Please?" She begged, batting her eyes.
May rolled her eyes and crossed her arms. A moment later, however, she sighed. "I- I'm... worried." She admitted, and Daisy stared.
"Of what?" She asked softly. "Did something happen?"
May was silent.
"Are you... having doubts?" The thought almost broke Daisy's heart. She knew that May and Coulson loved each other, but that wasn't always a guarantee that two people would stay together.
"Not like you're implying." Melinda murmured. "I just... I know that one day he'll wake up, and he'll realise..." She trailed off. She couldn't say it.
Daisy cocked her head. "What, you think he's too good for you?"
May shrugged and Daisy smiled. "May come on, that's crazy." She said, shuffling slightly closer. "He loves you. Anyone can see that."
"That's the problem." She muttered. "He can't see what I am. Not yet."
Daisy sighed, putting one hand on her shoulder. "He's known you for ages. I'm pretty sure he knows exactly what you are. And it's not a monster or whatever you think it is."
Melinda shook her head. "Then he's wrong."
"Why don't you talk to him about this?" Daisy said. "You know what he'd say."
"Exactly." She muttered. "So what's the point?"
Daisy groaned. "You're being an idiot."
Daisy rolled her eyes. "He loves you."
May sighed. "Exactly." She said. "Love blinds you. You can't see..."
Daisy hesitated. "So... hypothetically, the only reason you don't think I'm some- useless foster kid freak, is cos you care about me."
She saw the tension in May's jaw and knew that she was annoyed at the equivalency. "Look, I just- May, us caring about you isn't us ignoring the stuff you think is bad. You guys still put up with me, even though I'm impulsive and dumb and have no self-control."
"You're not dumb." May said softly, "And you're only impulsive because you care."
Daisy shook her head. "And you always take the hit for us. Make the hard decision so that we don't have to, even though we both know how much it kills you to do it. You do that because you care about us."
May bit down on her tongue. "What kind of a person does that though?" She asked softly.
Daisy bit the inside of her lip. She knew what kind of person did that. She'd always known. There was only one word for it, and it was a word she couldn't say.
Instead she said, "You're not a bad person."
May shrugged. "I'm not a good person either."
Daisy chewed on her bottom lip. "What's brought this on?" She asked softly. "I know you said nothing happened, but... come on."
May tensed and Daisy knew that she was right. "It's not important."
Daisy smiled a little. "So something did happen."
"It's not nothing if it made you feel this crappy."
"No." May glared and Daisy rolled her eyes. "Come on, I promise I won't tell anyone. You said it yourself, you make the hard decision for us. The least I can do is lend an ear."
Melinda swallowed, trying to come up with an argument. "What if there's nothing you can do?"
Daisy paused, then shrugged. "I can go get Coulson if you want." She said softly, trying to hide the hurt that that question elicited. "But call me crazy, I think I can help. I know you."
May sighed. She'd never been good at arguing. She could be stubborn, but not with Daisy. Not when, deep down, she wanted someone to tell her she was wrong. She bit her lip, trying to force the words. "Phil... he," Her words stuck in her throat. Her breathing stalled. "He asked me about getting married." There. It was out. She didn't have to say it again.
Daisy choked. Whatever she'd been expecting, it wasn't that. "H-he proposed?!" She coughed.
May shook her head, pulling away from Daisy a little. "No, he didn't- he just mentioned it. I think he wanted to see how I'd react."
Daisy's eyes flickered down, the shock fading. "Well, this isn't a great reaction." She said softly.
"It's not about him."
Daisy smirked. "Are you seriously gonna give him the 'it's not you, it's me' speech?"
May snorted but said nothing.
Daisy took a chance and inched closer. "I get it." She said softly. "You've had one foot out the door ever since you two got together cos you've got something that's new and good, and you know it can't last." She smiled. "Hell, I invented that move."
Melinda smiled a little and looked back up at her. Daisy. She'd grown up so much. "How do you do it?"
"I'll let you know when I do." She said, leaning back lazily. "Most of the time I think of it like... maybe people should eat healthy salads and stuff, but some people only wanna eat big macs. You can try to tell them not to, but they're still gonna do it."
May rolled her eyes. "Daisy you're not a cheeseburger."
She shrugged. "You know what I mean. Maybe we are just... bad people who ruin everything, but we can't stop people from loving us anyway." She gently elbowed May in the ribs. "And someone told me once that pushing people away doesn't work."
Daisy grinned and snuggled up to her side, hugging May's arm with hers. "I know who you are." She said quietly. "And so does Coulson. He loves you more than anything. He's not gonna suddenly wake up and realise that the last twenty years were a mistake."
Daisy looked up. "Huh?"
May smiled softly. She looked so young. "It's been twenty-five years since we met."
"That's awesome." She grinned. "Wow, I thought it took Fitzsimmons forever to hook up."
"Oh shut up."
May's arm freed itself from her embrace only to wrap around her shoulders. "Talk to him." Daisy murmured. "You know he's kicking himself right now."
May's thumb rubbed soft circles on Daisy's arm. "It's hard."
"I know." Daisy said softly. "You don't want them to know."
"I can tell you."
Daisy shrugged. "Well," She said, "I guess we're broken the same way."
May couldn't agree. But she couldn't argue either. Instead she stayed silent, her thumb continuing to rub slow circles on Daisy's arm.
Daisy smiled. "Can I be bridesmaid?"
"I'd rather not bother with the ceremony."
"I knew you'd say that."
Phil tried not to let it get to him. He knew that bringing up marriage was probably a bad idea, but he did it anyway. He did it because he wanted to spend the rest of his life with Melinda May, and he had scared her off.
He sighed, sitting on the bed they had been sharing the last few months. He liked her being there, he liked them being together. Even paperwork became enjoyable when she was sitting across from him, her eyes bright as she zoomed through her own work.
And he'd ruined it. Phil knew that now. Maybe she'd never wanted their relationship to get that serious. Maybe she'd only wanted them to be together casually, not label what they were, and stay like that. Maybe everything he'd been doing, cooking, going out, maybe all of that had been more than she wanted.
The sound of someone clearing their throat made Phil look up, and his heart leapt into his throat when he did. "You came back." He said, before he could stop himself. "I-I mean- Melinda- I'm so sorry, I didn't mean to go too far-"
Before he could say anything else she had approached quietly and sat beside him. Phil sat up to look at her. "I'm sorry." He said again, softly.
Melinda sighed, looking down. "It's okay." She murmured. "I- I need to say something, and just- please don't talk until I'm done."
Phil nodded but his heart sank. This was it. She was leaving him.
May swallowed, continuing to stare at the sheets. This was hard. She didn't want to say it but she knew she had to. "I've been waiting for you to leave me." She said, hurrying the words out. "Ever since we started doing this I've been expecting you to realise what I am and go." She could sense Phil wanted to say something, but knew he wouldn't do so yet. "So when you mentioned... that, you surprised me."
Phil waited to see if she would say anything else, and when she didn't, took her hand. "I'm sorry." He murmured, pressing kisses across her knuckles. "I didn't mean to scare you."
"It's okay." May said quietly. "You've been worrying about this all day, so we're even."
Phil sighed. "You're not a monster."
"That's what Daisy said."
He smiled. "So it's two against one right now."
Melinda leaned gently against him, the hint of a smile touching her lips. "I know I'm being stupid."
"No," Phil said, "You're not. You're wrong, but you're not being stupid."
She snorted. "That's an improvement."
"It is." Phil murmured, wrapping one arm around her and leaning back against the wall. "You've been through a lot. More than me, more than anyone I know. You make the hard calls when no one else can." Phil's thumb rubbed slow circles on the back of her hand. It was nice. "Melinda, you're one of the most empathetic people I know." He said. "The things you've had to do to protect people, to protect the planet, it makes sense that they affect you."
She sighed. "I wish they didn't."
"If that were the case then you would be a monster."
Ice clutched May's heart. "Sometimes they don't." She whispered, drawing away. "Sometimes I don't feel anything."
Phil's grip on her hand tightened. "You mean sometimes you're in the middle of a mission so you bury it, and it stays buried until you start to feel happy, and then it comes back and makes you feel like you shouldn't be." He kissed the top of her head. "This is you feeling it."
Melinda huffed. "You're annoying."
He grinned. "What, because I'm right?"
Phil laughed softly. "I know you." He said. "And I love you."
"You don't know everything."
"I know." He murmured. "That's what I love about this. Us. I'm still learning new things about you every day."
Melinda hesitated. "I like us being together too." She said softly, her heart jumping in her chest. She didn't know why she felt so nervous saying it, but she did. "That's why I was so scared when you mentioned getting married. I don't want things to change."
"They don't have to." Phil said, curling closer to her. "I just want this. Forever. That's all I meant when I brought it up, we don't have to get married or anything if you don't want to. I just..." He kissed her gently. "I love you, and I want us to be together until the end."
May bit her lip and after a moment said, "Me too."
Phil sat up. "Really?"
She crossed her arms defensively. "Don't act so surprised."
"I'm not!" He cried hurriedly. "I'm not, I just..." Phil smiled. "Come on, you've always been out of my league."
Melinda rolled her eyes, but she relaxed. "I think we're past that by now."
He grinned. "So you admit it! You do think you're out of my league!"
She swallowed a laugh. "Come on, we both know I'm a solid ten."
Phil laughed, trying to bottle it. "That's true." He said. His smile softened as he looked at her, and he pressed a kiss to the top of her head. "I love you."
Melinda smiled softly and buried her head in his shoulder. "I love you too." She mumbled, pushing past the apprehension.
Coulson was quiet, and when she looked up his eyes were fixed on her. "That's the first time you've said it." He said softly.
Melinda looked away. "Sorry." She muttered. How pathetic was it that he could bring up marriage and she could barely tell him that she loved him?
Phil shook his head, letting his fingers stroke her hair and feeling her shudder. "Don't be." He murmured. "I didn't mean... it's not like I don't know." He kissed her fleetingly. "I just know how hard it is for you to say how you feel."
May scowled. "I hate it." She grumbled.
He grinned. "Well you have to be bad at something."
She grumbled and pushed him back onto the bed, kissing him, in part just to shut him up.
Phil's eyes were dazed when she drew back, a dopey smile on his face that left her feeling oddly vulnerable. He blinked, almost as if waking up, and beamed, wrapping his arms around her waist and pulling her down into a crushing embrace.
May yelped when her knees slipped out and she crashed down on top of him, but then she let a fond smile break through, pressing her face against his chest. Phil wanted a hug just frequently enough that she never had to admit that she did too. Or maybe he just knew her that well.
She sighed against him. "Maybe," She started quietly, "I need some time to think about it. I don't want a ceremony."
Melinda felt his heartbeat jump as she spoke but Phil barely reacted outwardly other than dragging his fingers through her hair and making her shiver. "I didn't think you would."
She hummed. "It would be fun to not tell the others. Just see how long it takes for them to notice."
Phil chuckled. "So I guess that means that you're not horrified by the idea."
May smiled against him. "I could live with it."