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Midnight

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"It’s a great idea, honestly – they’ll all be so surprised when he wakes up, it’ll be so worth it, if only for the expressions on their faces–”

And that is how Jemma Simmons found herself trailing after Skye in the middle of the night with an armful of Christmas lights, trying to keep up with the bobbing flashlight ahead of her.

"Why me?" she asked for perhaps the twentieth time (Skye was bad at giving helpful answers, really) and Skye laughed.

"Would you rather be sleeping or helping me plan the surprise of the month, hm?"

Sleeping, she thought, frowning, but didn’t say it – Skye probably knew that already, had probably specifically gotten Jemma up out of everyone else on this godforsaken plane because she – to quote something she had said the day before – thought Jemma looked so cute when she was annoyed.

She hadn’t had much cause to be annoyed with Skye – until now, of course.

"Here." Skye stopped in the middle of the room, pointing at the metal staircase that spiraled down from the balcony above. "You’ll start there, and–"

Jemma tossed the bundle of lights onto the ground and snorted. “I’ll start there, hm? And where will you be, pray tell?”

Skye blinked. “Oh. You want me to help?” When Jemma opened her mouth, ready to protest, she held up her hands, laughing. “Joke. Of course I’ll help. Here, find me the end of this strand–” She dithered for a moment, then settled for tucking her flashlight under her arm, trying to keep the wavering beam on the tangle of cords. Their shadows flickered across the walls as Jemma knelt beside the lights, frowning.

"We’ll never untangle this mess," she muttered.

"We do have all night.”

"All – Skye, it’s technically morning, you know."

"Technically." Skye shrugged. "But I doubt even our cheerful pilot is awake right now."

"Are you sure about that?" Jemma’s hands fell still as she glanced nervously over her shoulder. May didn’t seem like the type to sleep much, truth be told, and half of her now expected the door to burst open and their pilot to march in.

"Calm down,” Skye replied, tugging on her end of the lights. “Here, I found the end. Is there a socket somewhere to stick this into?”

Jemma stood, trailing wire behind her as she crossed the room. “Right here. Do you want me to…?” She jammed the plug into the socket and the room behind her lit up, blue and red and green and yellow, the color of the Christmas trees her parents had always dragged home and stood up in the living room to be decorated. She almost thought she smelled pine needles, clean and sharp, and turned to see Skye grinning widely, light spilling from her hands and across the floor.

"Told you it’d be impressive."

Jemma cleared her throat. “Right. It’s… it’s certainly bright, I’ll grant you that–”

"Help me drape this over the stairs." Skye climbed the steps, trailing strands of lights, and Jemma did her best to unsnarl the mess of cord and bright bulbs as the strand was pulled further and further up, a waterfall in reverse.

"Where did you find these?” she called up, and Skye paused near the top of the stairs.

"I was – you know, going through some boxes in one of the storage rooms. You never know what you can find there." Skye smiled brightly at her, and looped her end of the lights around the top of the railing. "There. You all good down there?"

Jemma nodded and Skye clattered back down to stand beside her.

"It looks nice," she whispered, wrapping an arm around Jemma’s shoulders. Jemma nodded – it really did, that stream of color twining through the railing, and it reminded her of falling snow and crackling fires and all the other things they didn’t have on this plane above who-knew-where, flying to some mission where either of them could die tomorrow or next week or never.

She was rather hoping for the last option, really.

"Good idea," she mumbled, leaning into Skye’s shoulder, and felt her laugh softly. "We should do this every year."