Author's note - I only discovered FanFiction a couple of months ago when I broke my arm really badly and was stuck in bed on heavy painkillers whilst I waited for the surgery to reconstruct it. Thankfully I am now on the mend, and I have a metal rod holding my arm together. It was reading these stories that helped to get me through, so this one of my own is really a thank you to the writers who helped to brighten my day. Circle 142, FaithSky, LuvActually, unknownstuntsman, lizardwriter, KairiM, phoenixdyer, beautifully8broken and others too numerous to mention - this ones for you xx

I do not own Skins, I just like it.

1. Granted


I peeled my eyes open, reluctantly as ever, my biorhythms at odds with the rest of the world. In my humble opinion other people just wanted to wake up way too early, it was unnatural, uncivilised even. I had my own natural pattern, and luckily I had forged myself a way of life that could, for the most part, accommodate it. This morning was different, however, for today could be the day. Oh God, I hoped that today would be the day. I spent the next ten minutes trying to force my eyes to stay open and clear the heavy sleep clouds from my brain. That, and listening out for the post of course. We were staying at my mum's house, I still used it as a base, we kept our office there and used it as our postal address. With it being the tail end of the winter, Mum was still around too. Once the summer hit she would be almost as much of a stranger to the place as I was. I lay on my back in my bed silently willing her to make me some tea, and bring it up to me. I needed sustenance, but I was too lazy to go and make it myself. Like I said, I have my own natural pattern, and this time of the morning wasn't generally part of it. I gave up on my telepathic battle with my mum, and sank back into my pillows, trying to resist the seductive siren call to return to the welcoming arms of sleep.

I was teetering on the brink when I heard the sound I had been waiting for, the sound of the post landing on the hallway floor. I jerked back to full alertness, trying to analyse what I had just heard. It was a thud. It was a good heavy thud, right? A good solid sound, from a good solid item of postage. Oh please, oh please, oh please let it be that large, fat envelope I've been waiting twelve weeks for, not the weedy thin one that held the curse of rejection. In an unprecedented display of energy, I leapt from the bed and stared helplessly around me. Deciding against my initial plan of just running down there naked, I grabbed the nearest items of clothing I could find and headed to the top of the stairs. Cook had beaten me to it, before I was halfway down I saw him grab the pile of post and run towards the living room. By the time I reached him, he had ripped open the package and was dancing round the living room like Pandora on mephedrone, waving a piece of paper in his right hand.

"Thirty-four grand, Naomikins," he yelled excitedly. "Thirty-four fucking grand!!"

All thoughts of decorum went out the window, and I shrieked like a schoolgirl, and ran to embrace him. I threw my arms around him and kissed him on the lips, before the two of us continued jumping round the room together, shouting and singing like idiots.

"I take it all this racket means that you got it."

That was my mum, standing in the doorway with a mug of tea in her hand, and a huge beaming smile on her face.

"We got it, Ginapops," yelled Cook, dancing away from my embrace, and squeezing Mum into a bone-crunching hug instead. "Thirty-four fucking grand."

"Yeah well, remember not to fritter it all away on fast women and drugs," she teased him.

"As if I would," grinned Cook with a sparkle in his eyes. "We might have to keep an eye on your daughter though…"

"Yeah right," I huffed, feigning petulance towards my best friend and my mother. "I'm gonna get my phone. We need to tell the others."

"Yeah, get on it, Blondie," laughed Cook, "cause we are so gonna party tonight. Party like fucking demons. Aaarroooooogh!!!"

I left him howling his trademark wolf's howl and went to spread the good news.

The good news was that against their better judgement, The Arts Council had decided to award us a grant to make our next show. Thirty-four fucking thousand pounds worth of grant. Cook and I ran a circus company called Circus Abandon. The name was his idea, I think he wanted us to sound wild and dangerous, though when times had been tough in the past I had mentally swapped the words around in my head, internally yelling 'abandon circus' and wishing I had a nice job in an office. It was a joke really, cause when it comes down to it, I couldn't imagine any other way to live. I met Cook at a party (where else?) when I was sixteen. Some guy was getting fresh with me and wasn't taking no for an answer. I was young, and scared and I didn't have the muscles I have now, but suddenly Cook came out of nowhere and battered seven shades of shit out of him. He nearly went down for it, but I testified on his behalf and we managed to get him off with just community service. We even wangled that he did his time at the youth centre where I was running circus workshops. Just juggling and unicycle and shit at the time, things I'd picked up whilst being trailed round festivals with my mum as a kid. That's when Cook and I became best friends, he started helping me with the workshops, and we ended up going off to circus school together. That's where we really found ourselves. He got into acrobatics and Chinese pole, and I really took to the aerial stuff, and we both grew stronger and more confident from having found something we love.

Cook tries it on with every girl he meets, but nothing ever happened between us. I think he sees me as his guardian angel, the one who saved him from the shit direction his life could have taken. Finding the circus gave him a useful way to channel that ridiculous amount of energy he has. It stops him getting wound up and getting himself into fights. He works out his aggression when he trains. Before we met, he had a one-way ticket to a life in and out of prison, but now he has a purpose, and I know he believes he's got me to thank for that. For my part, I love that fucked up energy of his. There's nothing that will stop the Cookie Monster. His lust for life is infectious, and he always keeps me going when I get down. As he often informs me, I'm supposed to be the 'clever' one, and yes it was me that wrote the grant application that now has him dancing round my living room like a loon, but I would never have got there without him constantly pushing me in all the right ways. He makes me believe in myself, he makes me believe in us. Every now and again, usually when we're mashed at some party, there will be a moment when we catch each other's eye, and we'll almost throw it all away for the sake of a drug-fuelled shag. But we always catch ourselves. What we've got is way too precious. Lovers come and go, but what me and Cook have, it's something special. It's love, proper love, and we won't let anything take it away from us. It drives us, and it made us want to form our own company after circus school. I don't think either of us could have stood being fodder for someone else's ideas. We always wanted to make our own work, we always wanted to be in control of our own destiny.

The rest of our gang of reprobates we picked up along the way. Freddie and JJ are jugglers, and bloody good ones at that. JJ has Aspergers and the combination of his slightly obsessive nature and his amazing mathematical brain means that he can work out all these incredibly complex patterns in his head, and then work on them for hours until he can translate them into objects in space. Freddie is such a stoner that he has no problem with constant repetitive actions, and so the two of them make a fine pair. Pandora is just off the chart. She's an aerialist like me, but she has no fear and will just try the craziest fucking stunts you've ever seen. She auditioned for us by hurling herself out of a tree, catching herself on her rope by one ankle and removing her bra at the same time. Cook took one look at that and hired her immediately. Can't say I disagreed with him though. I met Thomas when I was DJing at a party. He played the set after me and he totally rocked it. I got him to write the music for our last show, but as soon as he came to rehearsals, he fell head over heels in love with Panda, so now he comes with us and does our sound and lights. We've done a couple of tours together, working on a shoestring budget and struggling to keep it together on not much more than love and enthusiasm. We got the tent when Cook finally swallowed his pride and asked his mum to lend us the money. She's some kind of famous artist and she's absolutely minted, but they don't get on and she threw him out when he was fourteen. I know it took a lot for him to go back and ask her for something, but it meant so much to us. We keep saying that we're gonna pay it back so that she doesn't have any kind of leverage over him, but I think we both know it's not gonna be any time soon.

I made the calls and was greeted with much shrieking and swearing and general expressions of disbelief and joy from the other ends of the line. The grant meant that we were all going to get paid properly for once. We were going to hire a director. We were going to have the proper props and costumes instead of shit we'd cobbled together ourselves. We could buy some new rigging and get Thomas a bit of decent kit to work with. It was bloody brilliant. It was going to mean we could step up our game, and I for one couldn't wait to get started. I made my way back downstairs to find Mum and Cook sharing a spliff in the garden.

"Guys, it's ten o'clock n the morning!" I complained.

"Relax Naomikins," said Cook cheekily, holding the spliff out towards me. "This is a day of celebration."

What the fuck. It isn't everyday someone gives you thirty four thousand pounds. I accepted the gift and took a long drag, holding the smoke in my lungs with a smug grin on my face.

"Everybody happy?" asked Mum.

"Everyone's ecstatic," I replied as I exhaled.

"I suppose this means you'll be filling my house with gurning, mashed up circus freaks tonight," she smiled.

"Paaaarty!!!" yelled Cook.

"You love it, Mum" I scoffed.

"I do," she admitted. "Bring on the freaks."

"Alright," said Cook, fishing in his pocket for his phone. "I suppose these means I should phone those lovely girls. Can't wait to get those two scorchers in me big top."

"Oh, right" I said, all enthusiasm drained from my voice. Cook was so excited he barely seemed to notice.

Cook had done a number on me. I had been away training in Belgium when that little deal has been done. We'd always said we draft in another couple of performers if we'd got the grant, but instead of auditioning or even discussing it, he'd gone and hired someone behind my back, so I was kind of stuck with them. The Fabulous Fitch Twins. Cook had seen their act and met one of them at a circus convention when I was away, and came back completely smitten. He'd offered them a part in the show without even asking me, and had gotten everyone else onside to back him up. I was fuming when I found out, but what could I do, it was five against one? Admittedly they were fantastic aerialists. They did this synchronised silks act that was so on the ball it was uncanny. I guess it must be the twin thing. It meant they looked amazing together as well. But for all their skill and precision, to me it was bland, it was all too bloody perfect and it had no soul. They spent most of their time on the corporate circuit, so I suppose what they did was good for that, but what the hell did it have to do with us? We were supposed to be raw and edgy. We were supposed to be making theatre that meant something. How were the Fabulous Fucking Fitch Twins supposed to fit into that? I watched Cook giggling and flirting down the phone to one of them, and I wanted to slap him round the head. Honestly, I don't know what he was thinking when he asked them to come. Scratch that, I know exactly what he was thinking, or at least what his dick was thinking. Twins. Flexible, gorgeous, scantily clad twins, stuck in a tent with the Cookie Monster for the whole of the summer.

"Thunderbirds are GO," he grinned as he cut off his phone and turned back towards me. "We are gonna be twintastic."

There went my last hope that they'd suddenly found themselves a better offer. It must have shown on my face, cause he came towards me and put his hands on my shoulders.

"Lighten up, Blondie," he said. "Think about it. Twins babe. Fabulous, foxy, fit little Fitches. And two of them, that's one each Naomi darling."

"I'm not looking to fuck a Fitch twin, Cook. I have a boyfriend, remember."

"That wimp Justin? He's not good enough for my Naomikins."

"Cook, you don't think any man is good enough for me."

"Touche," he replied, deliberately mispronouncing the word like he used to when we were younger. My anger melted away in an instant. He was Cook, and I fucking loved him.