Daisy had been through a lot of pain in her life. She had been punched, kicked, shot, stabbed, even sliced open with a scalpel. She was used to injury. The thing about injury was that the pain either died off quickly or she would fall unconscious. It was rare that a punch in the face would hurt as much after two minutes as it did when it first landed.
Infections on the other hand, were always on the edge of being more than she could handle.
Daisy rarely got infections of any kind. She wasn't sure why, but they didn't often set in with her. But when they did, it seemed like they made up for all lost time by torturing her within an inch of her life.
She tried to convince herself that her ear wasn't that bad, but it wasn't even just the infection now. Her powers weren't reacting well. She wasn't sure why exactly, but it was probably the swelling in her ear that made her awareness of all of the vibrations around her heightened to the point of it being agonising.
Part of her wanted to curl up into a ball and cry until it all went away, but she knew that she couldn't do that.
Daisy was the Director of SHIELD now. She had work to do. She always had work to do. Her team needed her to lead, and right now she needed to write this damn proposal for the stupid navy to get them to lend her a dumb boat.
Her wording could probably use some editing.
Half of her didn't even care. Her head felt like it was on fire while also being repeatedly hit with a baseball bat. But she had to care, she was the boss, she had to push through this.
Even if it hurt so much she could hardly remember where she was.
The others had tried to make her rest. Fitz avoided her but Daisy knew he was the one leaving her hot cups of tea and pain medication that she hadn't taken. He felt guilty. Of course he did. Jemma said that her inhibitor being removed was the most probable cause for this infection.
May didn't try to force her to rest, but Daisy did catch how she kept beating her to any paperwork Daisy didn't specifically need to complete. Mack had asked her if she was doing okay so many times that Daisy felt like screaming, and Elena had offered her half a dozen of her home remedies. It wasn't that Daisy didn't appreciate the concern, she was just so wound up and tired to deal with it all right now. It was hard enough to concentrate on her paperwork.
Daisy focused so much of what remained of her brain power on her paperwork that she didn't notice her office door opening, didn't notice the footsteps approaching or see anyone until a familiar voice softly said, "Daisy."
She didn't know how he did it. How the entire rest of the team could be needling her, outwardly or otherwise, to stop working, and all Coulson had to do was say her name and that was it.
Daisy let her hands fall away from the keyboard. "Fine." She said flatly. "Not like I was getting anything done anyway." She hated the tears that burned her eyes. She hated that no matter how much she tried, she couldn't do her one job right now.
She forced the tears back, refusing to cry in front of Coulson. He was probably disappointed enough in her right now without her blubbering like a baby about how her ear hurt.
Daisy tried to stand but found her legs unusually wobbly, her vision swimming as a wave of nausea overcame her. Before it was evident how weak she was, she fell back into her chair. There was no way out of this without Coulson seeing how pathetic she was. Without him looking at her and knowing he'd made a horrible mistake in choosing his successor.
She was tempted to say she told him so but even that was too much.
Everything was too much.
It took Daisy a moment longer than it should have to realise she was stuck. She couldn't move without falling apart in some way, and she knew that Coulson wasn't going to leave.
She jumped when a hand gently stroked her hair back. "It'll be okay." Coulson whispered, knowing how horrible the vibrations must be for her. "Just take my hand. It'll be better, I promise."
Daisy swallowed thickly but said nothing. Hearing other people talk hurt, talking herself was way worse. If she was giving in anyway she might as well do everything she could to get rid of the pain. She took Coulson's extended hand and let him pull her to her feet, let him wrap an arm around her shoulders and help her walk to her quarters. Part of her was angry with herself for doing this, but right now the biggest part was the scared and hurt part. The one that just wanted to sleep.
She supposed she should be grateful that she still had the ability to change her own clothes and climb into bed. Coulson knocked softly before following into her room, and Daisy heard him hesitate when he saw her curled up in bed.
Phil paused. "Daisy," He whispered as softly as he dared. "I know you want to rest, but I've got some medicine here from Jemma. It should help your head."
Daisy pushed herself up into a sitting position. Phil could see the redness to her eyes and knew that she had been crying. His heart ached. He wished he could take the pain away instead of offering her a few pills and some platitudes.
Daisy took the offered water and swallowed all three pills at once with a large sip. Despite the pain, she smiled in thanks, putting the water on her bedside table.
Phil returned the smile. "I'll come back later with dinner." He whispered. "Try to get some rest."
As he turned to go for the door, Phil was stopped by Daisy's voice. "Wait!" She cried, followed immediately by a cry of pain.
Phil hurried back to her side. "Hey, I'm here." He whispered. "What's wrong?"
Tears blurred Daisy's eyes from the pain. She swallowed. "I- I don't want to be alone." She whispered shamefacedly.
Phil softened and pressed a kiss to her forehead. "Okay." He murmured. "Is there anything I can do?"
Daisy shook her head, covering her ear with one hand and laying back down. "Just... stay." She rasped.
He sat down on the edge of the bed, being careful to move as slowly as he could. "Of course." He whispered.
Daisy wasn't sure if she wanted to smile or cry, so she settled for letting her eyes flutter shut and trying to ignore the pain.
It was really hard to ignore the pain.
Coulson must have known she was still awake, because after a few minutes of trying to fall asleep, Daisy felt fingers gently stroking her hair. She was a sucker for that feeling at the best of times, but contrasted with the throbbing pain from the rest of her head, the sensation made her shudder.
Phil pulled his hand back. "I'm sorry, does it hurt?"
Daisy shook her head. "Don't stop."
Phil nodded and continued. He knew that Daisy was very tactile, especially when she wasn't feeling her best. If he couldn't take away her pain the least he could do was offer her some comfort.
Though the pain didn't let up, Daisy felt herself starting to relax more and more from the gentle contact, her closed eyes getting heavy. She felt like she was melting against her pillows, and she wrapped her arms around herself like she had done when she was a little girl. Coulson's other hand rested on her shoulder for a moment and she squirmed slightly closer to him, by now only half awake.
"It'll be okay." Phil whispered, so softly he didn't know if Daisy would hear even if she were awake.
Daisy hummed under her breath but made no other indication that she had heard him. Coulson smiled gently and continued to stroke her hair. "I'll look after you."
Almost in response to his words, Daisy's form began to shake with the beginnings of what Phil knew were her usual purring. Unfortunately purring didn't seem to mix well with her current state, and Daisy jerked awake with a whimper, blinking and looking very confused and betrayed for a moment. Phil grimaced and almost stopped, but Daisy almost immediately melted again, falling back asleep in a matter of moments.
Coulson sighed. Daisy's purring was such an innocent, contented thing. He hated that even that caused her pain right now.
He watched her breathing level out and slow down, and this time no purrs filled the air.
He would stay with her. Phil knew that he couldn't stop the pain, but he could make sure Daisy slept at least. She deserved to have someone who would look after her when she was sick, and for now he would have to do.
She deserved better, but maybe he was enough.
Daisy woke with a start, sitting bolt upright and looking around. She was alone. What happened? Where was she?
Her ear throbbed and she remembered. Oh. Right. She was sick.
Though compared to how she had felt the night before she was practically healed now. Daisy wasn't sure if it was the medicine or the rest, but her headache was almost entirely gone and her powers weren't killing her anymore. That was good.
Maybe she should get some breakfast.
Before she could even start to get up her door opened and Coulson stepped in with a tray. He jumped when he saw her eyes were open, but immediately broke into a smile. "Good, you're awake!" He said brightly. "I just stepped out to get you some food, I thought I might have to wake you up myself. How do you feel?"
Daisy blinked heavily. "Good, I think." She mumbled, rubbing her eyes. "What's that?"
Phil looked down at it. "Soup." He said with a smile. "I made chicken and vegetable, it's best when you're sick."
Daisy coughed to clear her throat. "Soup?" She asked, looking at the tray as he put it down. "Not really breakfast food." When Coulson didn't say anything she got a sinking feeling in her stomach. "How long was I asleep?"
Phil hesitated. "About seventeen hours." He said softly, not sure if his voice was still hurting her. "But don't worry, May's finished your paperwork and there haven't been any new developments. We're all good."
Daisy bit her lip and looked away. "I'm sorry." She mumbled. "I shouldn't have let it get to me. I-I let you down."
Phil sat on the side of the bed, cupping her face with one hand so that she would look at him. "Hey, you were sick. That's not your fault, and you definitely didn't let me down."
She wanted to push his hand away, to tell him to stop coddling her and, for once, admit that she'd failed. But Daisy couldn't even do that. She cursed herself for leaning into that touch. "I just- I feel like I shouldn't do that."
Phil smiled. "What, get sick?"
He tried not to laugh at her stubborn determination. "You know that's not how it works."
Daisy barely grunted in response and Phil chuckled. "Here's what I'm thinking." He said. "It's already two, you have your soup, take some more meds and get some rest. If you're feeling better tomorrow you'll be fine to go back to work."
Daisy glared. "I'm the boss you know."
Phil grinned. "I know, I know. But the boss needs rest and I'm trying to help."
"I feel way better."
Phil raised a disbelieving eyebrow, but quickly caved. "Okay. If you stay here and eat your soup, I'll bring your laptop so you can keep an eye on things while you rest. How about that?"
Daisy grimaced. "Fine." She muttered. Coulson was smiling at her and she took a mouthful of soup so that she didn't have to look at him. It was good. Really good. She swallowed. "I- uh... thank you." She said softly. "For looking after me. You didn't have to do that."
If Daisy didn't have a bowl of soup in her lap he would have hugged her. As it was, Phil just put one hand on her shoulder. "Of course I did." He murmured. "That's what family's for."
Daisy couldn't ignore how her heart clenched at those words, how part of her froze up. She swallowed again, if only to buy some time. "Then- thank you for being my family." She said as quickly as she could.
Phil smiled and pressed a kiss to the top of her head. "Thank you for being mine." He hummed.