Spoilers: Takes place after the events of episode 3x08
Disclaimer: Don't own Skins. Wish I did, though!
A/N: I might be adding more chaps to this but if I do they'll all be stand-alone vignettes about Cook and Effy's trip, so this chapter could count as a stand-alone fic.
Trip: A journey or voyage
She fishes through the glove compartment, the space between the seats, the pockets in the door. All she comes up with are little yellow pills and when she holds them up close she can see that they've each got the picture of a little bomb on them.
"Aren't there any other pills?" she says. "Ones that aren't illegal?"
Cook throws his head back and laughs as if this, like most things, is the funniest thing he's heard. "Sorry, Love. The only pills we've got are the kind that'll get us off our faces." He takes his eyes off the road to look at her, watches her shut her eyes, lean her head on the window, and shift in her seat yet again, silent.
He looks back at the road. A moment passes, then he looks back at her. "What's the matter."
She doesn't open her eyes. "Headache," she explains.
His eyes keep going back to her, watching her as much as he can without crashing the car.
Finally he looks straight ahead, eyebrows set in a furrow. "Well, did you eat anything? I think there's crisps in the back.... still got some vodka left."
Her mirthless chuckle makes him look at her sideways again. "Vodka? For a headache?" she asks. "Real clever."
He ignores her, his left hand already off the wheel and digging around behind her seat, sifting through the cans and bottles and wrappers on the floor. The noise makes her open her eyes. The rustling stops and he smiles triumphantly, presenting her with the bag of potato chips.
"Thanks," she smiled, taking the bag, "but it's not that. It's from sleeping in this car every night for the past week." The edge in her voice does not escape him. "And on the ground before that. And the woods. And concrete."
"OK, we'll stay in a hotel, then," he says. "Tonight, you and me, room service and ice machines."
"We haven't got the money for a hotel, Cook."
"Don't worry about it, Princess." He grins at her but she is still skeptical.
"No money, no room," the man behind the plexiglass says.
They're in the main office for Motel La Belle, the first place Cook saw advertised on the road. It's the middle of the night and on the cork board of room keys hanging behind the old guy's head Cook can see that every key's still in place, every room currently vacant. He scratches the back of his head and looks back at Effy who has decided to spend this part of the detour from their Trip To Nowhere outside the main office's door, flicking her lighter off and on. Cook knows she's trying to salvage the last of her fags, he can see her getting antsy just trying to keep her hands busy.
"Look, Mate," he squints to look at the name sewn on to the old guy's shirt. "Alfred. You see that girl over there? She's sick and she needs a place to stay for the night, alright? Real sick. She's got some real bad shit." He can sense that he's losing him. "And she's pregnant," Cook whispers, his own face crestfallen with the story. "And all she wants to do is spend one night in a hotel. Just one night, mate."
Alfred looks at Effy again, then back at Cook. "She shouldn't be smoking if she's pregnant."
Cook follows Alfred's gaze. Effy leans against the door post, her back to them, but the smoke puffing out of her mouth is clear against the night sky. She takes another drag from the cigarette between her fingers, Cook knowing that she must really be desperate to smoke one of her last ones.
"She's an... 'at-risk' teenager," Cook explains.
Alfred's expressionless face does not change.
Cook fists his hands in his pockets, his lips twisting in a tight frown. His hands come back with a coin, a lighter, and a condom, all of which means he's probably not going to be getting a room tonight. His last hope is to beg.
"Look, it's not for me– I don't care about having a place to sleep, but she really needs a warm bed for the night. Please, Alfred. I'll do anything. Anything you ask."
Cook and Effy walk along the doors to the ten rooms of the motel. Alfred's a few paces in front of them, leading the way. And even though the motel looks to be of the shottier variety, Cook grins like he's just been handed the keys to a castle.
"How'd you manage this?" Effy asks.
"I told you, don't worry about it, Peachy. Anything you want, Cookie gets it done."
They stop in front of a room that's already got the door open. By the looks of it its last resident was either a rock band, an ogre, or a mountain goat. Instead of floor there is only garbage, the curtain's been torn off it's dowel and the TV that's still chained to the wall is smashed on the floor.
"Not that room," Alfred says. "This one." He hands Cook the key to the room next door. "Hope you feel better," he says to Effy before he leaves them.
"Thanks," she answers, her voice laced with confusion. Before she can ask Cook what that was about he jiggles the key in the lock and pushes the door open. "Our room awaits."
This room is cleaner than the other one, at least a little bit. There is a bed and a bathroom and it's the most Effy can ask for. She drops her bag on the bed and takes off her leather jacket. Cook's standing with his legs apart, his hands on his hips. "I know it's not much of a palace but it's the best I could do on short notice."
She walks to him and leans in and Cook's eyes shut slowly in surprise at how soft her kiss is. Her fingers tease the hair behind his ear just before she pulls away. When he opens his eyes she's staring at them. "Thank you," she says.
Cook's lips are still parted with the memory of her mouth on them. "Yeah," he says. "Sure."
She's so tired the only thing she takes off are her boots before pulling back the starchy covers and climbing into the bed. "You coming?"
"You go ahead, I'm gonna use the bathroom."
She's awake a few hours later and the first thing she notices is that Cook isn't next to her. Her hand roams the space beside her. It feels oddly strange without him there. She calls his name once but it just gets lost in the dark room.
She waits, thinking maybe he stepped out for a moment, but after a few minutes of staring up at the ceiling she resolves to put on her jacket and go look for him.
It doesn't take long for her to find him. He's next door in the trashed room that doesn't look so trashed anymore.
"What are you doing?"
Cook, who's crouching on the floor, spins around and gets up at the sound of her voice. He's holding a rag in one hand and a spray bottle in the other and he's got a handkerchief tied over the lower half of his face, presumably to guard from the stench of cleaning solvents and the stuff that needs to be cleaned. He pulls it down. "You're supposed to be asleep."
"I can't sleep without you." She only realizes it's true after she says it. And before his face has a chance to soften she asks again, "What are you doing?"
"I'm paying for our room." He says, a bit angry at having to admit it.
"This is how you're paying for it? Cook… you didn't have to…"
"How's the headache?" he asks abruptly.
"Then it was worth it, wasn't it?"
She can't speak, and for the first time it's not because she doesn't want to. "Cook…"
"Look what I found ya." he grabs a pack of cigarettes off the night stand, that smile ever-present on his face. "You wouldn't believe how many things we can nick from this room. One man's garbage is another man's treasure trove, right?"
Her smile is genuinely shy as she takes the pack that he's offering her. She wants to say thank you but she doesn't. And he wants to say you're welcome but instead he says, "You're gonna have to drive for the next leg of our trip cuz I'm tired as fuck."
"You should go back to sleep while we still have the room, yeah?"
She wants to kiss him again, not to thank him but just because she wants to, but then she knows that's exactly why she shouldn't.
As she walks back to their room she tries to think of the last time someone's taken care of her that wasn't her family.
She'll try to go back to sleep, but she's too used to him next to her now.