Jemma has always been the sort of person who likes having control of the situation, to an almost scary degree. She's never seen the appeal of having more than a drink or two because losing her inhibitions and her memories of it the next morning doesn't seem like something she should be paying for.
However, tonight makes a definite exception to that rule. After that bastard blew her off to top off this already dreadful day, she's ready to get inebriated beyond any levels she's ever reached before. She wants to see how many beers she can drink before her speech starts to slur and she gets clumsy and loud enough that she starts attracting attention.
None of that wild partying actually ends up happening because as it turns out, people want even less to do with her when she's drunk. The barista cuts her off at around 12:30, which leaves her with only one bus she can take home, the late bus, commonly dubbed the drunk bus among the other students.
Her flat is near the end of the bus's route, a town away from the university but easily accessible via the bus. There are 5 other people who board the bus, and she assumes they'll all get out before her.
It's pouring down rain outside, with thunder and lightning coming in sudden bursts. The bus rolls off on the badly lit, drenched road. All but one of the other passengers get off before they make it outside city limits. The woman remaining is dozing off against a window. Jemma wonders if she was supposed to get off earlier but decides not to ask; it's not her problem.
She hopes her best friend and flatmate, Fitz, hasn't waited up for her. She tries to text him, but there's no signal, so she decides to just apologize when she eventually gets back home.
The bus suddenly comes to a stop about 10 minutes away from the nearest sign of civilization aside from a small gas station about a city block away. The girl is jolted awake and looks around, wide-eyed and terrified until she realizes where she is. Then she leans back in her seat and mutters something that Jemma would guess is not at all child friendly, but she can't hear very well over the pounding rain.
The driver has gone outside to check something, and now he climbs back inside the passenger area.
"We're stuck," he yells. "Probably be here a while. There's a shop down that way. You'll be better off in there for a while."
Jemma can feel herself growing even more irrationally annoyed. Can anything in this day go right? She grasps the seats to steady herself as she moves grudgingly to the front of the bus. The other woman narrows her eyes and looks extraordinarily unhappy, but she follows Jemma.
Jemma's flimsy little sweater, not even meant for rainy weather, can't take the force of this storm. The rain makes it difficult to see, making Jemma practically blind. That, coupled with her drunken stumbling, means she can hardly see where she's going, so she doesn't see the slippery ground before she's practically rolling in mud.
Perfect. "I actually liked this coat," she mutters.
"What?" the stranger asks, helping her up.
"Nothing," Jemma yells over the rain.
Together, they run for a gas station that, thankfully, isn't much farther. They slip a handful more times on the way. By the time they reach the building, they're both soaked to the skin, nearly covered in mud and scrapes, and both somewhat resembling wet rats.
The gas station is dimly lit with old, flickering bulbs, and they can hear the pound of rain on the ceiling, which isn't entirely comforting. Then there's a flash of white light followed by a boom barely a second later, and Jemma's just glad to be inside.
"I'm Jemma," she says, holding out her hand.
"Skye," the woman replies, shaking her hand lightly, "I missed my stop."
"How unfortunate," she says sympathetically. Honestly, she's glad for the company. She'd hate to be in a place like this alone at night. That sounds like something out of a horror movie.
"Yeah," Skye says. In the lull in the conversation, both of them look around. The store is certainly nothing special. It looks unsanitary and only seems to sell an assortment of junk foods and various soft drinks. There's an opened box filled with something larger still wrapped in bubble wrap, but she can't see what it is from here.
"I'm really drunk," Jemma says suddenly, and Skye chuckles.
"Me too." Skye seems to contemplate her for a moment. "You're not from around here."
"No, I'm British," Jemma says, smiling at Skye's pointing out the obvious. She decides to take a seat leaning against a shelf because standing seems to require a bit more effort tonight than it ordinarily does. In the process, she knocks something off it. Skye sits to her left and picks up the product.
"Bacon's pork jerky," she reads, her nose crinkled into a small laughing frown. "Weird cannibalistic pig," she mutters while sticking it back on a shelf, and Jemma nearly chokes on her own giggles, which is ridiculous because it wasn't even all that funny. Skye smiles at her in return, and she feels something flutter in her chest.
"I will never understand how some American products sell," she says. "It seems some people will eat anything you put through your odd meat processes. You could be eating jellyfish or puppies for all you know." She blushes, then, remembering that she is, in fact, talking to an American and shouldn't complain about some aspects of their culture the same way she does with Fitz.
Luckily, Skye seems to find her hilarious, if her winning smile is any indication. There's certainly no other reason to smile when in such an odd predicament as this.
Jemma can feel herself warming up significantly. She's still not entirely dried off, but the air in the slightly overheated gas station is becoming stifling. She shrugs off her coat, and Skye does the same.
She's never been very good at making new friends. Fitz is really her only close friend; everyone else is merely an acquaintance. She knows she really wants to get to know Skye, though, even if they haven't met under the best of circumstances.
"So do you go to university here?" Jemma asks.
Skye shrugs. "Community college. I'm good with computers, but I never really paid a lot of attention in my other classes. And I suppose you're the stereotypical British genius?"
Jemma blushes. "Biochemistry. Currently working on my second PhD."
"Whoa, I was kidding! That's totally awesome." Skye gives her a genuine grin. Jemma finds herself liking this girl even more with each passing minute. "So you live this far away from town?"
"Yes. It's a long way, but it's right on the bus route, and it's cheap. I'm splitting a flat with engineering major, Fitz."
Skye's smile fades, and Jemma wonders if she's said something wrong. "Oh, so you two are together?"
"Oh, no, no, we're just friends. Good friends. His mum's family keeps assuming we are, but no." She's not sure why she added that last part. She's been blushing a lot tonight. For some reason, she really cares that Skye knows she and Fitz aren't together. People have been assuming they are since freshman year, and his grandmother is still firm in her belief. It generally takes a lot more effort explaining that they really aren't like that, so she simply doesn't bother sometimes.
Skye's smile returns hesitantly. "So, you're not dating anyone, then?"
Jemma thinks of the asshole who stood her up again tonight. "Nope," she replies.
"Good," Skye says, moving a little closer toward her. Jemma thinks that, yes, it is a very good thing. She and Skye lean in even more, but then there's a burst of light, and the only remaining bulb in the store begins to flicker wildly. Jemma instinctively jumps in alarm and looks up. When she looks back, she regrets it because Skye is further away again, and that simply won't do.
And the light goes off. They're plunged into an abysmal darkness. The wind seems to be ripping up curtains barely covering the windows in the first place. The wild roars of the storm are all to be heard, and it's chilly again. The heat probably went out with the power.
She reaches blindly for Skye's hand in the darkness. With that to steady her, they gently lean on each other for warmth and comfort. The heat of the gas station is now gone, and Jemma shivers in the cold, still damp. She reaches for her coat and throws it over them, snuggling closer to Skye.
"Where do you suppose the employees and our driver have gone?" Jemma asks after a moment. This does seem kind of suspicious. Even with Skye here to somehow calm her, this is sort of like a scene out of a horror movie. She can't imagine if Skye had gotten off when she was supposed to. To be alone and drunk in the dark and cold of this awful, sticky little building would be a true misfortune.
"Hell if I know," she says. "Hey, when all of this is over, can I come to your place?" She cringes. "I mean, I just, this is the last bus, and I missed my station, and I don't have any friends in this part of town – "
"That would be fine," Jemma cuts her off, smiling, "so long as you don't wake my flatmate. He gets very cranky and doesn't like strangers."
"Sounds like a ball of sunshine, that one."
"He's an interesting challenge."
"So do you have a job or anything? Anywhere to be tomorrow?" Skye asks.
"No, just classes. I'm free in the morning. And Fitz will be gone," Jemma says. She's not sure what she's insinuating, or rather, she's not entirely sure why she's insinuating it. She's never been the sort to invite someone into her home after the first date or, in this case, after a chance meeting under unfortunate circumstances.
"Oh?" Skye says, and Jemma can hear her interest. "I've got work in the afternoon and a class in the evening. Nothing in the morning."
"Really? Where do you work?" Jemma is already internally hitting herself. Why does she feel the need to prolong this conversation when there are clearly much more interesting things they could be doing than learning each other's life stories. She blushes at that thought and is glad they're still in the dark.
"Taco shop," Skye answers simply. "Nothing special."
"Are you referring to a Mexican restaurant?"
Skye shakes her head slightly, and Jemma feels the movement. "Just a food cart. 'Shop' sounded better than 'cart' in my head, I guess. It's just for a bit of extra cash on the side. I hate it."
Jemma thinks of offering money, since her family is much on the wealthier side, but she can already tell Skye is as prideful as Fitz and would be offended at the question. She only nods, knowing it's better not to comment.
The lights suddenly flicker back into existence, and they're engulfed once more in the dim light of a single inefficient bulb. Skye really does look beautiful, she notices, but she can't spend so long looking because they're in such close quarters. Jemma's drunken mind seems to cause her to act more impulsive, and then she's kissing Skye.
It's very sudden and unexpected. Skye makes a little surprised squeak and doesn't return it at first. Jemma pulls away as suddenly as she'd moved forward. "Sorry, sorry, god, I'm sorry. I'm an idiot. I don't know why I did that."
Skye rolls her eyes and leans in, and then they're kissing again, only this time it's fully enjoyed by both participants. It gets increasingly passionate and intimate until Skye's hand is feeling up her body and Jemma's hands eagerly begin to lift her shirt.
Just then, the door to the gas station slams open with a crash. The howl of the wind is suddenly about ten times later. They jump apart like children caught by their parents. They look up at the bus driver, hoping he didn't notice what they were up to while he was gone.
"Looks like we're going to be stuck here a while," he says. He doesn't give any indication whether he saw them kissing.
Jemma makes a small face. "Oh, it won't be all night, will it?"
He shrugs. "Probably! Hell if I know. You shouldn't be going home this late anyway," he adds, frowning. With that, he stomps off to the restrooms.
"Well, he appears to be in a sour mood, doesn't he?" Jemma asks, relaxing back into Skye's touch.
"I would be too if I'd just been out there." It's amazing how natural it feels, being with Skye. She feels herself comforted by the woman's simple presence.
"Mm. This place is really…sticky," Jemma says, finding the right word. "Unsanitary. I've never liked places like this."
Skye laughs. "Well, at least this will be an interesting story to tell."
"That's a good perspective. I really wish I could be so optimistic."
Skye shifts her position so she can look at Jemma. "It's just a way of thinking about things, really."
"Teach me," Jemma says quietly, leaning her head against Skye. She closes her eyes, waves of exhaustion suddenly crashing over her. It seems the night has finally caught up to her, and she realizes it's probably almost 2 at this point. This will certainly throw off her sleeping schedule.
Skye pinches her in the side. Jemma starts, and when she realizes that it was just Skye, she pouts, but Skye just laughs, so it must not be very convincing. "Alright. Let's see, how do I teach this?"
"I think you usually begin with some weird metaphor," Jemma says.
"Alright. Um, let's see," Skye says, looking around at the store. She seems to spot something on the shelf and continues, "If life was a saltine cracker, um, shit, I have no clue," she says with a laugh.
Jemma smiles. "Well, that's a bit of a tricky one to begin with. Let's see. If life were a saltine cracker, it'd be short and bad for you."
They're both pulled into a fit of giggles at that. The bus driver comes out and finds them like that, curled up together on the floor and laughing. He rolls his eyes and mutters something under his breath. "Isn't somebody supposed to be working here?" he asks loudly, interrupting them.
"That's what I was thinking, too. Bit odd. I haven't seen anyone," Jemma says.
"Well, we're stuck here for the night, so get comfy," he says.
Jemma stands up and almost immediately falls over. She'd forgotten quite how uncoordinated she can be when she's this intoxicated. Skye laughingly stands and pulls Jemma up with a whole lot more grace than Jemma would have been able to muster.
"Where are we going?" Skye whispers, her breath hot on Jemma's ear.
"I don't know. Away from the windows." 'And away from him' remains unspoken, but Skye seems to get it and leads them towards the back of the store. There's a soda machine and the end of the shelves back there but nothing comfortable to sleep on. Jemma sighs. More than just her head is going to ache tomorrow. Skye grabs a bag of Cheese Its and begins munching, occasionally offering one to Jemma. She takes them because even though she doesn't usually like those sorts of snacks, her stomach is almost painfully empty. She hasn't had anything but peanuts at the bar since lunch.
"Should we really be eating these?" Jemma asks. Regardless of her hunger and their being stuck here, that isn't the establishment's fault, and she's always hated taking things from others when it's unnecessary.
Skye only shrugs in return.
The cold metal of the soda machine should be – and is – uncomfortable, but the warmth of Skye's form against hers helps her relax and fall easily into sleep as she was before. She dozes off thinking that this was, perhaps, not such a bad night after all.