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Monkey’s got a nosebleed

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Daisy swings the front door open, stepping inside with enthusiasm. “Surprise!”

She furrows her eyebrows when nothing but silence echoes back. This isn’t how she’s usually greeted when she arrives at the Fitzsimmons’ house.

Usually there’s excited screaming and Hope and Iain running down the stairs or down the hallway, crashing into her and almost knocking her over. Usually Jemma and Fitz aren’t far behind their kids, albeit walking more slowly than their offspring, and grinning widely rather than squealing in deafening tones.

Their car is parked outside, though, and the light in the hallway is on, and the food processor or stand mixer seems to be running in the kitchen.

Strange.

Daisy drops her duffle bag on the floor, kicks off her shoes, and hangs up her jacket, before slowly walking down the hallway, peeking her head into the kitchen.

She squints at the sight. Jemma’s standing in front of a silver bowl, the usually meticulously kept kitchen counter dusted with flour, cocoa powder, drips of egg white, and God knows what else. The apron she’s wearing isn’t faring much better. Her forehead is wrinkled in concentration and her eyes are fixed on a cookbook to her right. Behind her, the stand mixer is spinning continuously, stirring what appears to be a batch of batter, and a cooling rack with chocolate chip cookies rests on the stove.

“Umm. Jemma?”

Jemma’s head shoots up and her eyes widen. “Daisy!”

“Surprise!” Daisy repeats, grinning widely and adding a little jazz hands for emphasis.

Jemma slumps her shoulders, wiping her hands off on her apron whilst walking around the counter towards Daisy and pulling her into a bone-crashing hug. “Oh, thank God. Your timing couldn’t be more perfect.”

Daisy leans back, looking at her friend questioningly. “What kind of argument do I have to settle this time?”

Jemma shakes her head. “No, it’s nothing like that. No argument. It’s just—”

A timer dings, and Jemma lets out a surprised “Oh!” before letting go of Daisy and rushing to the stove. She opens the oven, grabs some oven mitts, and pulls out a tray with steaming hot muffins. She spins around, her eyes wandering aimlessly over the various counter surfaces to find a free spot. She lifts her chin in the direction of a somewhat empty place.

“Could you, please?”

“Oh, sure.” Daisy rushes closer, grabbing two round trivets. She shoves a few things to the side to clear enough space for the muffin tray before placing the trivets down.

Jemma sets the muffins down and takes off the oven mitts, sighing in relief, before tightening her ponytail and walking over to the stand mixer to turn it off.

Daisy’s eyes wander across the kitchen again. She shrugs in confusion. “Is the school having a bake sale or something? And if so, are you the only one participating?”

Jemma slumps her shoulders, looking somewhat defeated. “No. That’s not it.”

“Oh-kay.” Daisy stares at Jemma for a few moments longer, but her friend doesn’t seem to be quite ready to open up yet. Instead, she removes the bowl of batter from under the stand mixer, holding it in one hand, while trying to pull out a glass baking dish from a closet.

Daisy sighs, rushing over to where Jemma is struggling with her baking ware, and pulling the form out for her. “Where is everyone anyways?”

Jemma lets out a little sigh, waiting for Daisy to place the baking dish on the overflowing counter, and begins to pour the batter into the form. “Iain’s on a camping trip with the Cubs. He’ll be back tomorrow.”

Daisy purses her lips. “Awww, won’t get to see my little Mophead until tomorrow? Guess you all will have to do until then.”

“Fitz is in the office doing research,” Jemma continues matter-of-factly, scraping the remains of the batter into the form with a spatula, seemingly not having heard Daisy’s little quip.

Daisy squints briefly before deciding to just go with the flow. “What’s Coulson having him do this time?”

“No, nothing like that,” Jemma replies absentmindedly, shaking her head and walking to the oven with the baking dish.

“Okay.” Daisy’s growing more confused by the second.

“And Hope—” Jemma pauses, exhaling sharply. “She’s upstairs.”

Jemma shoves the baking dish into the oven, closes the door, and adjusts the temperature, before straightening up.

“Okay. What’s going on? Is something wrong with Hope? Is she sick? Something about her ToF?”

“No, no, she’s not sick. She’s perfectly healthy.” Jemma picks up the little timer and punches in a time.

Daisy stares at her friend wide-eyed. “Then what the fuck is going on, Jemma? Because you’re acting super weird and you’re starting to seriously freak me out.”

Jemma furrows her brows. She puts the timer down on the counter, before her gaze falls to the floor, avoiding looking at Daisy. “It’s just a natural process. She’s just at that age, and—”

“Fuck, she has a boyfr—?”

“No,” Jemma exclaims, her head shooting up, before Daisy can even finish.

“Girlfriend?” Daisy asks more quietly.

Jemma rolls her eyes, shaking her head slightly. “No. Not that we know of at least. It’s not social in nature. It’s biological.”

She walks back to the bowl that Daisy had first found her in front of, and places her index finger on the page of the cookbook, trying to find where she’d left off.

Daisy’s eyes widen as the penny suddenly drops. “Oh!”

Jemma nods, pressing her lips into a thin line, and reaches for an egg.

“Yes,” she confirms, whilst cracking the egg on the silver bowl and emptying its contents into the small mountain of flour and sugar.

“How’d she take it?”

Once again, Jemma’s shoulders slump and she tilts her head to one side. “Like I said: she’s in her room.”

“And it started today?”

Jemma nods, once again wiping her hands off on her apron and walking back to where Daisy is standing, apparently ready to temporarily abandon her baking endeavours. “This morning. At least it was on the weekend and at home. I mean, I suppose that’s better—Maybe.” Jemma frowns, seemingly having lost her train of thought.

“Fuck,” Daisy mutters quietly, her eyes wandering to the floor before shooting back up again. “And Fitz’s doing research?”

“Yes.” Jemma’s head bobs up and down, and she forces a pained smile. “I mean, obviously, he’s familiar with the topic in theory and used to my personal cycle and how it affects me, but I’m not sure it had really occurred to him that—”

“—he’d have to worry about his Little Monkey’s cycle anytime soon.”

“Or ever,” Jemma adds, before sighing heavily. “So now, he’s reading everything from scientific articles to holistic mom blogs about a girl’s first menstrual cycle and hasn’t left the office for hours.”

Daisy gestures at Jemma with both hands. “And you’re baking—”

Jemma spins on her heels, staring at her messy kitchen and sighing in frustration, before turning back to face Daisy, lifting her shoulders in defeat. “I just don’t quite know what to do. I mean I’m perfectly capable of explaining the biological aspects of it in great detail, and I could certainly share my personal experience with her, but then again, she seems a bit hesitant to—”

“Talk about it.”

“Yes, which I understand, because, well, I—on occasion—have had problems communicating with people, even the people closest to me.”

“No!” Daisy gasps in pretend shock, pressing her hand against her chest.

Jemma rolls her eyes, before glaring at Daisy in discontent. She exhales a sharp breath and her body seems to relax; her expression softens.

“I was thirteen when I got my period for the first time. I was finishing up my first Ph.D. I was living with friends of my grandparents in Cambridge. I had barely any friends. I was awkward enough as it was, and to be quite frank I felt like I knew everything I needed to know on the topic anyways, because I thought theory was as good as practice, so… I didn’t talk to anyone about it. Not until much later. But, in retrospect—”

Daisy scoffs in understanding. “I was living with a super weird and hyper-religious foster family with three sons when I got mine. When I told the mom, she turned even paler than usual, shoved me into the bathroom, handed me some pads, closed the door behind herself, and the rest was pretty much up to me. Really wish there’d been someone who’d just given me the straight truth about this shit.”

Jemma gestures at Daisy. “Exactly! I want Hope to be comfortable talking about it and asking questions, and yet, here I am, baking more desserts than we can eat in a week—”

“Please, I’ve seen Fitz and Iain eat. They’ll have that stuff finished in less than two hours.”

Jemma laughs quietly, before sighing once again. “The point is: I’m here in the kitchen, and she’s upstairs, and I’m not sure how to approach her… my own daughter.”

One corner of Daisy’s mouth ticks up empathically. “And now that I’ve shown up out of the blue—”

“—at the perfect time, as if you’d known,” Jemma adds, her eyes glimmering with hope and a pleading smile adorning her lips.

Daisy nods. “I think you’re right. Might be easier to open up to someone who’s not your mom.”

“Exactly. It pains me, but… but I think it might be easier for her, like you said, and Fitz means well, and Hope always has an easier time talking to him than to me, which I don’t mind, because I was the same as a child. I had a much deeper connection with my father. And I appreciate that Fitz is trying to learn as much as possible, but at the same time—”

Daisy clicks her tongue and raises her eyebrows. “Can’t coach a sport you don’t play yourself.”

Jemma lets out a little chuckle, wrinkling her forehead in slight confusion. “You consider menstruating a sport?”

Daisy shrugs, giving Jemma a D’uh look. “There’s blood. There’s sweat. Sometimes there are tears. Sounds like a sport to me.”

Jemma laughs, before sighing in relief. “So, do you think you could—?”

Daisy extends her fist triumphantly into the air. “Aunt Daisy to the rescue!”

She spins around to head out the kitchen and upstairs.

“Try not to swear too much!” Jemma calls after her.

Daisy turns back around, pointing at Jemma with both hands, and grinning cheekily. “I make no such promises.”

Chapter Text

Daisy knocks and slowly opens the door once she hears a muffled “Come in” from the inside. She peeks her head in first and can’t help but smile when Hope’s face instantaneously lights up when she sees her aunt.

“Daisy!”

Daisy steps inside, before closing the door behind herself. “Hey, Monkey!”

“Ugh.” Hope rolls her eyes. “I’m twelve!”

Daisy shrugs, unimpressed, and walks closer to the bed. “Once a Monkey, always a Monkey. It’s my prerogative as your godmother!”

She jumps sideways onto the bed, letting the mattress bounce as she wraps one arm around Hope’s shoulders, pulling her godchild closer for a hug, before letting go and pulling her legs up to sit cross-legged.

“So, whatcha readin’?”

Hope picks up the tablet lying next to her and holds the screen in front of Daisy, who squints as she reads the title of the scientific article.

Daisy lets out a pretend-snobbish puff of air. “Weirdo.”

Hope sticks out her tongue, and Daisy makes a funny face in return. They both chuckle for a bit, before Daisy’s expression grows more serious again.

“So, how’re you doing?” she asks, immediately regretting her pitying tone.

Hope eyes her skeptically for a moment, before sighing grumpily. “She told you, didn’t she?”

“Who?” Daisy gestures with her thumb at the door. “The person trying to put contestants of the Great American Bake Off to shame?”

“It’s the Great British Bake Off or the Great American Baking Show. And obviously Mum wouldn’t participate in the latter because we’re British.”

Daisy raises her eyebrows, rounding her lips and leaning slightly backwards. “Well, well, well, Miss Know-It-All.”

Hope holds Daisy’s stare for a moment, before staring straight ahead, slumping her shoulders and sighing quietly.

One corner of Daisy’s mouth ticks up into a sympathetic half-smile.

“Yeah, she told me,” she confirms, never taking her eyes off her godchild. “Because she wants you to feel comfortable talking about it and asking questions and she has a feeling that you may not consider her, or your Dad for that matter, to be quite the right people for this, even though they both would happily lend you an open ear.”

“I know,” Hope mumbles quietly.

“But you feel weird.”

Hope nods, her eyes fixed on her toes, which are slowly wiggling up and down. “Yes.”

“Okay.” Daisy shrugs. “Do you feel more like congratulations are in order or condolences?”

A hint of a smile flashes across Hope’s face as she lets out a little puff of air, before shrugging and replying quietly, “I don’t know.”

“Happened today?”

Hope nods in silence.

“How does your tummy feel? Cramps?”

Hope shakes her head, but her eyes are still looking straight ahead. “Not really.”

“Got everything you need?”

“Mum sent Dad to the store to get me some sanitary towels and he came back with half the feminine hygiene product aisle.”

Daisy can’t help but snort in laughter, managing to conjure a little grin to Hope’s face.

“Mum said I should use pads for now and we can talk about other options,” Hope continues, her tone shy and quiet. “But I didn’t want to then.”

“That’s fair.” Daisy nods. “I bet she understands. Wanna talk to me about it? Different options?”

“I don’t know.” Hope shrugs, before slowly turning to look at Daisy. “There’s something gross about the pads. I mean, it’s like diapers all over again. Not that I remember wearing diapers but—”

Hope scrunches her nose in mild disgust and Daisy mimics her face in solidarity, nodding in agreement.

“Nothing like pulling down your undies and being greeted by blood or brown sludge clinging to everything.”

“Ewww! Daisy!” Hope exclaims, her grimace intensifying even more.

Daisy raises her hands apologetically. “Hey, you know me. I don’t beat around the bush. I tell it like it is. That’s just how I work.”

Hope chuckles ever so slightly, before furrowing her eyebrows in thought, staring at Daisy through the corners of her eyes. “What do you mean by ‘brown sludge’?”

“You’ll know it when you see it. It’s usually towards the end of your period.” Daisy pauses briefly, wrinkling her forehead. “Or maybe that doesn’t happen until you’re older. I’ll admit my memories of my early years of vagina bleeding are a bit fuzzy.”

“Ugh. Daisy.”

“Telling it like it is, Monkey. Get used to it.”

“Fine.” Hope chews on her lip, before exhaling sharply through her nose, her eyes once again wandering straight ahead. “So, the pads feel gross, but tampons?” She shyly looks back at Daisy, lifting her shoulders to her ears. “It’s just a bit of a strange concept.”

“Shoving cotton up your hoo-ha?” Daisy nods, ignoring Hope’s saucer-sized eyes. “Yeah. It sounds weird. Although, it gets more normal once you shove other things up there when you’re older… or have them shoved up there.” Daisy wiggles her eyebrows, enjoying the color of Hope’s face changing to an even deeper shade of red.

“Daisy! Seriously! Didn’t Mum tell you not to talk to me about it like that?”

Daisy laughs out loud. “Man, sometimes you remind me so much of her it’s almost creepy. And she only told me not to curse too much and I straight out told her I’d make no such promises.”

Hope still stares at her in disdain. Daisy holds her glare for a moment, before softening her expression and slumping her shoulders. “Look, Monkey, I know you feel uncomfortable talking about it, but that’s even more reason for me to just talk straight. This is normal. This is happening to you and you have a right to your thoughts and feelings and to express those thoughts and feelings. And, if you’re asking me, then being able to speak openly about it and not making a big fuss out of words like hoo-ha or—God forbid—vagina, is the right approach. I think your Mum will back me up on that.”

Hope squints even more, her eyes fiery. “I’m perfectly capable of saying the word vagina.”

“There you go.” Daisy gestures at Hope, before placing her hand over her heart, pursing her lips in pride. “Making Auntie Daisy proud with your dirty talk.”

Hope rolls her eyes, chuckling and shaking her head. “You’re so weird.”

“Oh, stop with the compliments.” Daisy gently slaps her godchild on her thigh. “And now that you’re all comfortable saying vagina and all vagina-related vagina terms, tell me how you feel about bleeding out of said vagina?”

Hope looks at Daisy questioningly. “You’re trying to use the word vagina as many times as possible, don’t you?”

“Me?” Daisy gestures at herself, full of innocence. “Vag ya talkin’ ‘bout? Now why would I want to try and use the word vagina as many times as possible?” She pauses for a split second, before covering her nose with her fist and exclaiming, “Vag-ooo.”

Hope tries in vain to remain serious before snickering quietly.

Daisy leans a little closer, nudging Hope with her elbow. “Now, come on. You’ve got the word down. Try talking about what happened today and how you feel about it? It doesn’t have to be a two-hundred-page thesis. Save that for your grad school application.”

Hope inhales slowly, deeper and deeper before exhaling sharply. Her lip twitches briefly, and she quietly mumbles, “It sucks.”

Daisy can’t help but let out a little chuckle. “There you go. And fuck yeah! I agree.”

A smile flashes across Hope’s face. “You do?”

“Hell yes!” Daisy shakes her head in disbelief. “I don’t believe in a god, but if there is one then this whole fucked up idea of bleeding once every month for a week while curled up in the fetal position with cramps is proof that he’s a guy with a shitty sense of humor. It’s one big evil cosmic joke.”

Hope laughs out loud and Daisy joins her, before growing more serious. “Although, on the plus side maybe it’s proof that women can handle a whole lot of crap!”

Hope lets out another quiet laugh before biting her bottom lip thoughtfully.

“Alright. So it sucks!” Daisy summarizes. “What else?”

Hope falls silent for a moment, staring at her fingers, which are absentmindedly playing with each other. Then she looks back up at Daisy. “Do you get cramps?”

Daisy nods. “Yeah. I do. Usually on the first day when it really gets going. And I know your mum does too. Not everyone does though. Side effects come in all kinds of shapes and annoyances. Cramps. Bloating. Swollen feet. Constant peeing. Joint pain. All kinds of combos.”

“Great,” Hope mutters sarcastically.

“Yep. And everyone has their own coping mechanisms. Painkillers. Chocolate. Ice cream. Chocolate ice cream. Chocolate and ice cream. Chocolate ice cream with chocolate and chocolate sauce. Hot water bottle. Blankets. Shitty sitcoms. Cheesy soaps. And we’ll gladly help you figure out yours. In fact, I think that’s pretty much what your Mum is trying to do downstairs: preparing the ultimate selection of menstruation comfort foods, to allow you to pick your weapon of choice.”

Hope’s lips tick up a little and her eyes briefly wander to the door, before looking back at Daisy. “How heavy is yours?” she asks and her tone sounds far more confident and comfortable now.

A proud smile flashes across Daisy’s face, and she shifts slightly in her seat. “I usually have two really heavy days and then maybe three lighter ones. Some women have like three monster days and that’s more or less it. Others have seven days worth of medium.”

When Daisy notices Hope’s concentrated and attentive look, she decides to keep going. “And mine are pretty regular. ‘Bout twenty-eight days. Maybe thirty. Some get it every three weeks. Some every five. It really varies and it can change over time or depending on whether you’re on birth control and stuff like that.”

“Yeah, that’s what I read.” Hope nods in understanding, before another thoughtful wrinkle forms on her forehead. “Do you… what do you use?”

“Now, just straight up tampons. I usually have larger ones for the heavier days and then smaller for the rest. But I started out with pads and then I tried tampax, you know, those tampons with an applicator?” Daisy brings her index fingers and thumbs together before slowly pulling her hands apart, imitating the elongated shape of a tampax. “I think that’s a great choice when you start out with the shoving something up your hoo-ha.”

Hope gives Daisy a scolding look that would make her mother proud, before her expression softens. “Why don’t you use the applicator ones anymore?”

“Honestly?” Daisy shrugs. “I think I’m just lazy. They’re smaller, easier to fit in pockets, less trash afterwards.”

She tilts her head side to side, contemplating the pros and cons. “Your finger gets kinda gross of course, so you wanna make sure you got a bathroom with a sink. But, that’s true whenever you use a bathroom, really, so… And since you are your mother’s daughter, I know I don’t need to talk to you about hygiene and washing your hands before and after.”

“What about those reusable cups?” Hope’s eyes light up in excitement and Daisy can’t help but chuckle at her godchild’s adorableness.

“Dude, never tried it, but I’m sure your mum would do all kinds of research with you on them and she’d love the eco-friendliness.”

Hope points at Daisy, a stern, almost judging, look on her face. “She uses tampons too.”

Daisy shrugs. “Heck, maybe you can convince all of us to switch. Just need to make sure we don’t mix up our cups or something. I’m all for mother-daughter-auntie bonding, but that doesn’t sound particularly sanitary.”

Hope rolls her eyes, but can’t hide a grin. “You’re gross.”

Daisy laughs quietly, shrugging innocently. “That’s not exactly news now is it? So, what else?” She taps her lips with her index finger for a bit, before raising it importantly. “Oh, if you get tampons—with or without applicator—and you read the instructions and there’s this warning about—”

Once again, Hope rolls her eyes until Daisy can only see the white. “Yes, I know about TSS.”

“Yeah, but do you know about how it’ll unavoidably make you panic as soon as you even so much as feel a bit warm while you have your period?”

Hope glares at Daisy condescendingly. “I know how rare it is and I know about the symptoms and risk factors and all that.”

Daisy raises her hands in defeat. “Of course you do. Just. You know. Keep it in mind, but don’t freak out.”

“Will do.”

“Okay. So.” Daisy shifts once again to look at Hope more directly. “Your Mum said you’ve been hiding up here since this morning and I have a feeling it’s not just because you were estimating monthly blood loss and researching disposable menstrual cups and TSS.”

Hope’s eyes wander to her lap like a sad puppy, and Daisy reflexively purses her lips in pity. “Come on, Hope. You can tell me.”

“I just—” Hope begins before falling silent for a moment. She closes her eyes, drawing in a deep breath and exhaling sharply. “It’s silly,” she mutters quietly.

Daisy tilts her head to one side, reaching out to place her hand on Hope’s shoulder. “No, it’s not. Please, tell me.”

Slowly, Hope raises her head. Her eyes seem heavy and shimmer behind a curtain of tears. “I don’t know if I’m ready to be an adult.”

Daisy’s eyes widen in surprise as she suddenly realizes what Hope’s main concern may be. “You really think bleeding from your vagina determines when you’re an adult? Because as much as I’d like to say the reason why so many men act like children is because they don’t have a vagina, there are some pretty awesome guys out there that speak against that theory. One of them is currently locked up in his office, googling the shit out of the female menstrual cycle, so he can be there for his twelve-year-old daughter.”

Hope shrugs. “Yes, of course, but… well, isn’t this when a girl becomes a woman?”

“Who said that?”

Hope stares at her open-mouthed for a moment, before throwing both arms to the side, and announcing “Everyone!” with conviction.

“Everyone?”

“Yes!” Hope crosses her arms in front of her chest, and nods once in confirmation.

Daisy gestures at herself. “Me?”

“No.” Hope slumps her shoulders.

“Your mum?” Daisy asks, pointing to the door.

“No,” Hope admits quietly.

“Good.” Daisy bobs her head once. “Otherwise I’d have to go down into the kitchen and give her a piece of my mind.”

“But—” Hope pipes up, but Daisy raises her hand to stop her.

“Hope, look at me.” Daisy gestures at herself. “I’m going on forty here! I eat spray cheese out of the can at least once a week. I love bubblegum ice cream. I play pranks on people on a daily basis, and you’ve seen me on Halloween.”

Hope scrunches her nose, trying to suppress a giggle.

Daisy reaches forward, placing her hand on Hope’s shoulder. “Meanwhile, you’re twelve and waiting to hear back from graduate programs all over the world to start your Master’s. When I walked in here, you were reading an article and I couldn’t pronounce—let alone understand—half the words in the title. You’re already more of an adult than I ever will be.”

A shy but sad smile flashes across Hope’s face.

“And yet!” Daisy continues, giving Hope’s shoulder a little squeeze. “Even though you’ve got the combined fucking brainpowers of your genius parents, if you want to be a kid, be a kid! Climb a tree. Get into a pillow fight with Iain. Eat cotton candy. Watch Spongebob or whatever it is you kids watch these days. That’s your decision. Getting your period has nothing to do with that! And if you’re smart—and I know you are—then you’ll never fully stop being a kid.”

Hope’s eyes light up and her lips pull into a wide grin. “Dad still plays video games.”

Daisy nods. “Yeah. And he still sucks ass.”

Hope covers her mouth with her hand to hide her snicker, and Daisy can’t help but chuckle herself, before continuing.

“And, dude, you’ve heard your mum sing A Whole New World at the top of her lungs. The woman loves her Disney movies!”

Hope’s head bobs up and down enthusiastically. “She does.” More quietly, she adds, “Sometimes, it’s a bit embarrassing.”

Daisy lets out a quiet laugh. “Parents are supposed to be a little embarrassing. I’m pretty sure that’s in the handbook. Look. Bottom line: I’ve known your parents for a long time now, and they’re amazing people. They’re crazy smart. They’re thoughtful and responsible and hardworking—all kinds of qualities that some may say make them adults.”

She pauses briefly to gesture at herself. “And I run a fucking secret spy agency; if that doesn’t have ‘adult’ written all over it, I don’t know what does. But fuck it, we still have kids in us too and that’s good. And that’s normal. And don’t even get me started on Hunter. The guy’s forty-five and still eighty-five percent a three-year-old.”

Hope laughs out loud, before growing more serious again. “So, just because I started my period—”

“—doesn’t mean you stop being a kid,” Daisy confirms. “And anyone who tries to tell you otherwise is a fucking idiot.”

Hope smiles with gratitude. “Thanks, Daisy.”

Daisy nods, stretching out her arms. Hope leans forward, allowing Daisy to pull her into a tight hug.

Daisy places a kiss to Hope’s curly hair, before leaning backwards to look at her godchild. “Anything else you wanna talk about?”

“Actually, do you think you could get Mum? I think maybe I’m ready to talk to her too.”

Daisy feels her lips pull ear to ear as she gives Hope’s shoulders another squeeze. “You betcha, Monkey.”

She gets up from the bed and takes a step towards the door, before turning back. “Hey, if you want, we can make it a girl’s night in. We’ll bring up all of the chocolaty goodies your Mum baked, tell your Dad he’s on his own for dinner, and figure out your preferred code name. Shark Week? Ketchup Diet? Riding the Cotton Pony? Oh! Oh, I know: Monkey’s got a nosebleed?”

“Eww!”

“You’re right. You probably don’t have much if any hair growing down there anyways, so that one doesn’t really—”

“Eww! Eww! Eww! Eww!” Hope holds her ears shut, and Daisy can’t help but laugh.

“Or we just bitch about how unfair life can be sometimes and about the fun times of PMSing… where in my opinion the P stands for Pre-, Post-, and Perpetual,” she suggests as an alternative.

A smile spreads across Hope’s face. “Did Mum make her triple-chocolate-chip cookies?”

Daisy wiggles her eyebrows. “I may have seen those lying around, yes.”

The twelve-year-old wrinkles her forehead in thought for a moment. “You think Dad will mind?”

“That he’ll be excluded from talking about bodily fluids? Heck no. He’ll thank us.” Daisy ticks her head side to side, contemplating the issue further. “That he’ll be excluded from eating your Mum’s baked goods. Probably.”

“Maybe we can leave just a little bit for him… and Iain when he comes home tomorrow.”

Daisy lets out a single laugh. “You’re a better person than I am. And for the record, your Dad might be a bit squeamish when it comes to the inner workings of the human body—which I get and agree with, but this whole menstrual cycle thing is an exception in my case for obvious reasons—but… despite his squeamishness, you know that he’d drop everything and listen to you if that’s something you want, right?”

Hope nods, the corners of her mouth ticked up. “Yeah. I know.”

“’Cause your parents fucking rock!”

“They do.” Hope’s smile grows a little wider.

“I mean, not as much as your Aunt Daisy, but they’re not half bad.”

Hope rolls her eyes. “Can you just get Mum now?”

Daisy chuckles quietly.

“You got it,” she replies, winking at her godchild before heading out the door.