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Family Of Choice

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Daisy pressed her face into the pillow and squeezed her eyes shut. Her nightmare had left traces of terror in her mind and around the edges of her memory the pictures her brain had conjured up still lingered. She knew she’d been screaming, and her covers were thrown to the floor while her pajamas clung to her body from the sweat. The pillow her face was shoved into was wet as well, from her tears which continued to fall.

Seconds later her door flew open and someone stood silently in the doorway. No, not someone. Daisy knew it was May standing there. Her S.O. Her teacher and mentor and the person she’d grown to love as a mother. Melinda. She’d been calling her that now for a few weeks. Testing it out occasionally when they were in private areas. Never around others though. Then she was careful to refer to her superior as May.

Daisy heard the door close and then felt the bed sink as the woman had gracefully and quietly moved across the room.

“What do you need Daisy?”

Daisy made an animal like sound and a moment later she was pulled up into Melinda’s arms and held tightly. She resisted for only a few seconds and then melted into the women, curling up around her and sobbing on her shoulder. She felt Melinda’s oversized T shirt getting wet as her tears puddled onto the woman that she had lambasted the fates over and over for not making her mother.

What seemed a lot longer than a few minutes later, Melinda had her doing her breathing and calming techniques as she slowly brought Daisy back to the present with her calm no nonsense voice and her tight grip around Daisy’s shoulders. Daisy finally pulled back and dabbed her eyes with the tissues that Melinda shoved into her hand. Daisy stared at the floor till she felt a strong hand pull up her chin and her sad, red eyes met a pair of concerned and compassionate ones staring back.

“You want to talk.?”

Daisy shook her head.

“It could help.”

“Just a dream. I don’t even remember it.”

“But it terrified you.”

Daisy nodded.

“Tell me.”

Daisy sighed as Melinda took her hands and nodded at her.

“She killed you.”

“JiaYing?”

Daisy nodded again.

“Daisy I’m okay. I’m right here.”

“I know. I can’t lose you.”

“You won’t.”

Daisy knew that Melinda couldn’t promise that. She knew in their line of work that anyone could be gone in a flash. Hell, she didn’t have enough toes and fingers to count how many times Melinda could have died this last year. But she wanted to hear it anyway.

“Promise?’

“As far as I have any say in it, yes, I promise. We aren’t leaving you Daisy. And you are not going away.”

Daisy smiled as she tightened her hands around Melinda’s, knowing Melinda understood.

Melinda looked at the blankets on the floor and Daisy’s disheveled bed. Then she looked at the clothing sticking against Daisy’s skin. “Change.” It was an order. She pulled away from Daisy and stripped the bed of the sweat filled sheets, going to Daisy’s closet, finding new sheets, and remaking her bed. By the time she finished, Daisy had changed into another set of pajamas, PowerPuff ones that Melinda had bought her as a joke last Christmas. Daisy had absolutely loved them. She would dance around in them on those few lazy and uneventful mornings they had when Phil would make breakfast for the team.

Daisy grinned as she saw Melinda notice her pajama choice. Melinda motioned for her to get into bed. Daisy hesitated.

“I’ll stay.”

Daisy wasn’t sure if she should be embarrassed or relieved that Melinda was reading her mind. She decided to play it off as not caring either way. “If you want.”

“Well you might shake more than a few pictures off the wall next time.”

Daisy stopped and looked at her. “I did not.”

Melinda gave a slight smile. “You only woke up the people in this wing on the base. I sent them all back to bed.”

“Shit. Now they will give me that pity look tomorrow.”

“You want me to beat them all up for you?”

Daisy grinned. “Maybe just Hunter. He’s annoying anyway.”

Melinda nodded in agreement. “Come on. It’s late.”

Daisy crawled into bed and moved to the left side. She stared at the ceiling as Melinda slowly got into the bed next to her after switching off the light. Both lay in the dark quiet and still.

After a few minutes, Daisy spoke. “I can’t do this anymore.”

Melinda rolled over and looked at Daisy. “You need to be a bit more specific.”

“I keep losing people I love. I just can’t do it anymore. Maybe I can just stop caring about people and it won’t hurt so much.”

“I tried that. It didn’t work remember?’

“How do you stop it Melinda. How do you stop the pain?”

“You’ll be the first to know once I figure that out.”

Daisy reached over and put her hand in Melinda’s. “It never gets easier, does it?”

“Harder actually. But you and Phil have taught me that in the end it’s worth it. Sometimes we just need to remember that it’s worth it.”

Daisy rolled over into Melinda’s side and threw her arm across her stomach laying her head on her shoulder. Melinda Put her right arm around the girl who had become more than a student to her, and softly stroked her face with her other hand.

“Shuìjiào wǒ de xiǎo nǚhái.”

“Wǒ ài nǐ māmā.”