A/N: For the record, this is my first fanfic. This is my first crack at writing since I gave it up as a bad joke in high school. There's just something about these girls...
Disclaimer - I sadly don't own or have anything to do with Skins.
Synchronised flashes of red and husky, whispered expletives caught Naomi Campbell's attention as she sat trying to pore over her politics text. Pushing her newly peroxide blonde hair out of her eyes she tried to sneak a surreptitious glance at the next table. Two young women were staring fiercely at each other, wild gesticulations belying the heat of their discussion, though they were doing an admirable job of keeping their voices down. At first she wondered at the wisdom of friends having the same shade of hair, then she looked closer and noticed matching heart shaped faces and chocolate brown eyes, narrowed in anger but undeniably the same. Heh, twins.
How is it helpful to have matching haircuts and colour? Never understood why twins didn't want to individualise themselves more. She snorted softly to herself. Look at me, wondering about their hair, when I've made such a hash of my own. She'd recently had a new cut and dye job, feeling like a change, and now wondered if it didn't just make her look a bit too desperate to try to fit in with her new classmates.
Shaking her head, she tried to ignore the shenanigans next door and focus on her readings for the following politics class, thinking perhaps next time she should settle on the library rather than the university coffee lounge for a study session.
With a huge huff and distinct flair for the dramatic one of the twins suddenly stamped to her feet and flounced out of the nearest door, shaking her head vehemently. The other remained at the table, looking pale and vaguely shell shocked. Her eyes were glued to the table top, seemingly engrossed in the book lying open in front of her. Naomi almost, almost looked away. Until she noticed a hitch in the woman's breathing, a subtle jerk of her shoulders.
Naomi's blue eyes narrowed. She studied the redhead's face intently. Saw the tell-tale glint under her eyes, quickly rubbed away. Oh god, she's crying. Shit, shit, shit. What do I do now? I don't want to get involved in any messy shit. Can I be a complete tool and walk away?
Naomi made a move to pack up her things, opened her bag to stuff her books in. And instead grabbed a packet of tissues out of it. The responsible, parent part of her overrode all else in the face of distress. She stood, and moved towards the young woman. Pulled out the chair next to her. Sat.
The woman looked up, startled. Naomi quirked a quick smile, held out the tissues. They were accepted immediately, automatically even. 'Thanks.'
'No problem. Are you... okay?' The most inane question. But really, what else can you ask.
The redhead nodded quickly, put on what Naomi could tell was a brave face. Naomi sat quietly, waiting. She'd learned the signs.
Sure enough, the young woman's lower lip began to quiver. She sniffed once, then again. 'Christ.'
'Sometimes you need to let it out - it's over quicker that way.' Internally she rolled her eyes at herself. The last thing Naomi would do is take her own advice on that.
'Not in fucking public.' The low husky voice broke over the words, her shoulders shaking.
'Okay. Fresh air maybe? Can I interest you in a walk?'
Brown eyes locked with blue quickly, the expression on the young woman's face clearly torn. Naomi could see flashes of confusion and anxiety alongside the upset.
'Sorry, I don't mean to pry, I just wanted to help. Can I help you to get home?'
'No. A walk would be good.'
They hurriedly collected their belongings, threw cups into the nearby bin. Naomi held the door open for the redhead to pass, noting that she was considerably shorter when standing up.
'I'm actually really new to the area, I'm not sure where to go. Is there a park or a lawn or something around here?'
The young woman nodded, gestured. 'This way.' They walked along in silence, and Naomi was surprised that it didn't feel awkward. Her blue eyes took in the surroundings alertly, filed the route away in her memory. It was always handy to know where the green spaces were. They left the campus, wandered along some of the nearby streets. Soon Naomi could see an open parkland. It was small, but adequate, enough to make you feel less confined by the city. A bunch of boys were kicking a football in one corner of the park, and there were a scattering of couples and individuals around lounging on the grass.
'Shall we walk around it?'
They continued to walk in a comfortable silence. Naomi kept an eye on her companion in her peripheral vision, noticed that her breathing was still uneven; she was sporadically wiping her nose and eyes. Okay. 'So...' How to proceed.
'You're pretty brave then, wandering off with some stranger. I could be a crazed axe murderer.' She heard a soft snort, shot a quick grin at the quiet woman beside her.
'I'm not of course. Just a student. A late starting student, as you can tell. So I'm doing poli-sci, some social studies. Trying to change the world.' She chuckled self-deprecatingly, but earned an interested glance. 'I know, I know, horribly idealistic. If you knew me you're understand how ridiculous it is. But, it's just that I've seen so much crap happen, I've had so much crap happen, and no one is doing a fucking thing to change anything. So I figure I've got to stop waiting for someone to fix things and try to do something about it myself. It's a control freak thing, you understand.'
A hiccupy giggle, and Naomi silently sighed in relief. She'd gained her attention, looked like the tears might be kept at bay.
'Every time I turn on the telly, or look at the news, I see so much... god, I don't know, injustice? It was starting to drive me mad. So here I am, doing politics. Hoping like fuck that someone will be able to tell me how to make a difference.' Uh oh, soap box. Back off idiot. 'Of course, I'm third year now, and no one's told me any such thing so far. I'm hoping for a miracle this year.'
'You're third year? I haven't seen you before - oh, and you said you're new here.' Curious brown eyes focused on Naomi's face.
'Yeah, I've been doing distance learning part-time until this year. Had a few... changes... in my life lately, so I thought I'd take the opportunity to get finished this year. Figured I might as well move and all, fresh start, yeah?' Naomi returned the inquisitive glance. 'What about you, what are you doing?'
'Lit. English predominantly, some European. But I'm also taking a couple of politics subjects as well. I think maybe I've seen you in one of my classes, come to think. Contemporary feminist thought?'
'Shite. Yes. I can't believe I didn't pick that up before either. I recognise you now. Errrr, let me think. Is it Emma?'
'Nice to meet you Naomi.' Emily smiled warmly up at her, the upset seemingly gone with the discovery of their commonality.
'Likewise. So, lit and politics, interesting.' Questioning tone, trying to draw her out.
'I'm hoping to do a dissertation on feminist and gender issues in literature, so I've picked up a few politics and women's studies units, for breadth.'
'Impressive.' Genuinely interested, she stopped and looked intently at Emily, trying to convey her sincerity. She received another warm smile in acknowledgement, and they continued strolling.
'I think it's interesting, at least. Although I still can't make up my mind what I want to do. I'm thinking either the feminist agenda in Regency and Victorian literature, written by women obviously; or conversely the suppression of feminist ideals in contemporary literature. Each time I pick up a new unit I come out with a whole lot of new ideas, and end up less certain than before.'
'I'd read either, definitely. I'd love to know how you can find a feminist agenda in Regency novels. Maybe, maybe I can see that you could interpret Charlotte Bronte as having a feminist agenda. But as much as I love Austen, as much as I'm completely in love with Lizzy, I can't see that there's any feminist sentiment there.'
And so it began for them. They continued to walk, and debate. The conversation was intelligent and passionate, and Naomi couldn't remember the last time she'd had anyone so stimulating to engage with. Or so attractive. Eventually she drew them off the path, sat on a bench. Emily paced in front of her, continuing the discussion, while Naomi dug around in her bag for a snack.
'Garibaldi?' Stuffing one into her mouth, she held the packet out to the still ranting redhead in front of her.
Emily paused mid sentence, eyed the packet and Naomi's form, now lolling on the bench. She reached for a biscuit, flopped down next to the lanky blonde. 'Am I boring you then?'
'God not at all, not a fucking bit.' Naomi sat up quickly, touched Emily's arm, willing her to believe. 'I haven't had anyone to have an intelligent conversation with in so long, I was just basking in it.'
They munched in companionable silence for a few moments.
Naomi suddenly gasped, checked the time on her phone. 'Shitting hell, I'm going to be late!' She bolted to her feet, grabbed her satchel and slung it over her head. 'Emily, I'm really sorry to have to rush off like this. Are you going to be okay?'
Momentarily startled by the blonde's outburst, Emily soon smiled up at her. 'Yes, I'll be fine. Thank you, for the walk. And the biscuit.'
Naomi was already walking backwards along the path. 'No problem. See you round maybe.' She turned and began running back towards the university. She heard a 'See you in class' behind her, raised her hand in acknowledgement.