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a breath of fresh air

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There aren’t a lot of things that can disturb Jemma’s focus. She concentrates easily on her school work wherever she chooses to do it, from a silent library to the most crowded of coffee shops. Though she obviously prefers the silence, even loud music isn’t generally a problem; she finds it quite easy to tune out and keep working.

However, if Fitz dares burst into laughter one more time, she’s going to snap.

It’s ironic, considering he’s the one who always gets irritated at the smallest of noises when they’re studying together. This time, he was done with his project sooner than her, and now he’s sitting on the couch of their apartment, right behind her, giggling like an idiot and eventually laughing hysterically at some point or another. She wonders what is making him laugh so much, but it won’t matter if she smashes his laptop just like that scene from The Social Network.

She endures it patiently as he covers his mouth, but it doesn’t last long. Less than a minute later, she hears his muffled laughter and gives up. She gets up from her seat, stomps over and stops right in front of him, closing his laptop way more gently than he deserves.

“Hey!” He protests as she pulls his earplugs.

“In case you haven’t noticed, I’m still working on my project!” She remarks. “Will I have to ground you and send you to your bedroom like a 7-year-old?”

“I’m sorry, I really am, Jemma,” he apologizes sincerely, though his lips are still quirked upwards thanks to whatever he finds so funny.

He starts opening the lid of his laptop again and Jemma puts a hand over it, stopping him. “Laugh one more time and I’m going to kick you out until I finish my work. Okay?”

He nods. “Alright.” The screen lights up once he opens it completely.

As soon as she motions to walk back to her seat, he asks, “Don’t you want to know what I’m watching?”

“If I’m being honest, not really,” she retorts. “I’m busy.”

He answers anyway. “I’m watching Skye’s new video.”

“What?” Jemma asks immediately. She’s not sure whether what he just said is a person’s name or something else.

He smiles knowingly as if all he ever wanted was to be asked to explain this to her.

“Skye,” he repeats, and it’s definitely a name. “She’s a vlogger.”

“She’s a what?” She’s already annoyed at him for saying it like she’s supposed to know what the hell a vlogger is.

“She has a vlog,” he explains. “A vlog is a video b-”

“I know what a vlog is,” she cuts him off. Lying. She didn’t actually know, but the term “vlog” is pretty self-explanatory if you understand what a blog is. “And you used to have better ways to spend your free time.”

“Don’t start judging me so soon, you’ve never even seen a vlog before!” He chides, maybe a bit too defensively, as if he agrees he could be doing something better with his time. She smirks smugly.

“First time for everything, right?” She takes him by surprise. “Pick your favorite Skye vlog video or whatever. You’ve peaked my interest now.”

Now it’s his turn to smirk as he slides to free up some space for her to sit beside him. His fingers move quickly over the trackpad and keyboard and he eventually opens one of the dozens, likely even hundreds of videos. It’s titled “YES ALL WOMEN”—like that, in all caps—and the description reads “a rant about feminism, rape culture, and why it’s always ‘not all men’ when instead it should be ‘yes all women’.”

Fifteen seconds into the video Jemma nearly admits that if she knew the vlogger was this pretty, she’d have found time to watch her videos before.

Her long waves of hair flow over her shoulders, the tone of brown gradually lighter on the tips. Other than that, there’s nothing really remarkable about her appearance, and though she’s just truly gorgeous, appearance is the last thing Jemma cares about once the video is over.

The girl is indeed funny, not to say hilarious sometimes. She’s not forced at all; it’s all in the way she talks, jumping from one subject to another in a heartbeat, randomly blurting out a couple of jokes or silly puns. An eight-minute video is enough for Jemma to notice that the girl can make pretty much anything sound sarcastic if she wants to, even when debating such a polemic subject as feminism.

No wonder Fitz picked this video to show Jemma. Skye’s not only quite good at proving her point with strong arguments and exemplification, she does so with a determination that makes it clear she doesn’t care whether her viewers will agree or not. She’s not doing this to please anyone, as she remarks in the end of the video.

By the time the player fades to black and displays a bunch of other videos to choose, Jemma finds herself thinking about the smallest details the subject to which she doesn’t usually spare much thought.

"This is by far her most interesting video in my humble opinion," Fitz says. "Did you like it?"

"Um, yeah, she’s quite clever," Jemma replies, hoping it’s not clear that she really feels like clicking on one of those other videos of Skye on the screen. "I, however, don’t understand why you were laughing so much before."

"Oh, most of her videos aren’t like this one. They’re mostly far less serious than this. I want to show you this other one where she-"

"Not now, Fitz," she interrupts gently. "The video was good but I still have a project to finish."

* * *

Later that night, Jemma finishes the book she’s been reading every day before bed, and finds that she doesn’t yet have another one to start.

She’s not sleepy yet, since it’s rather early, and suddenly an idea pops into her head.

Not allowing herself to think too much to avoid dismissing what she wants to do, she grabs her phone on the bedside table and pulls a pair of earphones out of the drawer.

Opening the YouTube app, she has no trouble finding Skye’s channel. It turns out she’s more popular than Jemma expected; most of her videos have hundreds of thousands of views. (Jemma’s not sure if that’s much in terms of popular vloggers, but it seems a lot to her.)

All of the titles are in all caps and most of them don’t make a lot of sense, except for a few ones like “how not be an assole”. Jemma somehow finds a page inside the channel that has a short “about me”, where the girl introduces herself as “Skye (no last name)” and Jemma finds out that they’re about the same age before she quickly shifts back to the videos and opens one at random.

Fitz wasn’t kidding about the other videos being far less serious than the one he showed her earlier; by the end of this one, Jemma feels stupid for how many times she burst into laughter during its seven minutes.

Half an hour later, Jemma pauses the sixth video she’s watched and forces herself to turn off her phone and go to sleep.

She’s pretty sure she’ll be doing this again soon.

* * *

A week later, it has become a habit of Jemma to watch a couple of Skye’s videos before bed every day. Some are better than others, and a few of them are quite silly if she’s being honest, but generally she finds watching them a good way to unwind and relax a bit after long days of working hard on her studies.

Jemma tells herself that her interest is merely a result of finally having something to take her mind off school work even if it’s just for half an hour a day, though at some point or another during the week she ends up switching from YouTube to Google, where she searches for Skye’s name. (Stupid. As if she’s the only Skye amidst seven billion people in the world. Realizing her amateur mistake, she types “vlogger” after the name and thankfully gets some results.)

She doesn’t find a lot of information. One of the first results is a fanpage on a website called Tumblr—even though the title has the word “fanpage” in it, Jemma would’ve probably guessed anyway since Skye doesn’t strike her as the type who would make a page where the background is such a bright pink that Jemma squints looking at it. In addition, the posts have a black background with white text, which makes for a very inconvenient combination. The first page features a bunch of moving images of Skye, clearly taken from her vlog, but Jemma quickly finds a big, flashy link that says “about Skye” and clicks on it. The new page greets her with an adorable picture of Skye smiling widely, and below there’s a short list of basic information on her.

There isn’t anything really detailed, though. Apparently not even Skye’s most dedicated fans managed to discover much about her personal life. For example, the part about where she lives says simply “US”, with an observation in parenthesis clarifying that she’s never mentioned a city or even a state.

Quickly tired of reading on the poorly designed page, Jemma takes a look at a few other Google results that don’t shed much light either before giving up and putting her phone away to go to bed.

* * *

Fitz hasn’t brought up Skye once recently, and Jemma doesn’t really consider it necessary to tell him that she’s been watching her vlog nonstop for the past ten days.

The thing is, she doesn’t need to tell him.

“Skye posted a new video earlier today,” is the first thing he says when he returns to their apartment after going out to shop for some groceries.

She moves her eyes away from her biology textbook to give him a faux confused look, hoping it’s convincing enough. (It isn’t.)

“Thought you might be interested,” he adds knowingly, and the tone is enough for her to notice that he already knows somehow.

Still, she responds with, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

He chuckles. “Tell me, which videos did you like the most? I love that one where she does the cinnamon challenge.”

“…haven’t watched it.” She says. It’s true; she hasn’t watched it yet. (She makes a mental note to search for this specific one later.)

“Don’t worry, I already know about your newest hobby,” he blurts out calmly.

Busted.

She doesn’t bother to try to deny it; he clearly doesn’t have any doubts and she’s a terrible liar anyway. “How could you possibly know?” She asks, frustrated.

“I couldn’t find my phone yesterday while you were in the shower before we left for class, so I took yours to call myself and it went straight to the YouTube app when I unlocked the screen,” he explains.

“Still an invasion of my privacy,” she shrugs. “I was bored. Her videos are entertaining.”

He laughs, satisfied for pulling the truth out of her. “I know.”

She rolls her eyes, unimpressed. Could’ve been worse. At least he didn’t see her browser history. That would’ve been embarrassing.

* * *

On saturday night, instead of staying home and watching a movie on Netflix like they usually do, Jemma and Fitz are on their way to a party.

“I don’t understand why we’re going,” Jemma remarks as she stares out the window, watching the blur of houses as they pass by them. “Two weeks ago you told me this guy only invited us because he felt ‘sorry’ we never go to parties. There’s a reason for that. You hate parties.”

“Don’t shift the blame onto me as if you love them,” he argues. “Anyway, even though I’m not very fond of parties, I recently realized that we consciously deprived ourselves of having the full college experience by not going to one single college party.”

She snickers. “Did you really just say that-”

“Besides,” he’s not finished with his explanation yet.” “I noticed you’ve been working harder than usual for the past few weeks, and that’s quite shocking considering I didn’t think it was possible for you to be any more dedicated to your schoolwork. Is it because of what Professor-”

“No,” she cuts him off dryly, but snaps anyway. “And I refuse to have yet another conversation about that homophobic piece of crap and the unbelievable argument that led to him dropping my grade. It’s already being handled by his superiors and hopefully he’ll get what he deserves.”

Her tone makes it clear that Fitz shouldn’t persist with this topic, and he knows her well enough to take the hint, pursing his lips. Jemma has always been the most respectful student in the world with her teachers, and admired most of them, which says a lot about how much that specific teacher infuriated her.

She’s the one to break the silence a few minutes later. “You seemed rather determined about us not missing this party,” she comments. “Are you particularly interested in something?”

He shrieks but says nothing.

“Or someone?” She insists.

He’s clearly amused by her questions. He can be really frustrating when he wants to be.

“You should know by now that you can always be honest with me,” she says, half-heartedly joking while also trying to get him to just say something.

And Fitz does, though it’s not nearly what she expected.

“Oh, Jemma dear,” he starts. “It’s rather hilarious that you’d think I’m doing this for myself, really.”

She doesn’t get to press the matter. During her frown as she tries and fails to figure out what the hell he meant by that, he parks and announces that they’ve arrived. Jemma then realizes she didn’t even notice the god awful loud music blasting out of the blue house next to them. Maybe she’s just much more distracted than she thought, thinking about how many things she could be doing at home instead of being here. (Let’s just say it can be measured in videos.)

* * *

“Okay, why don’t you just tell me what you’re looking for?” Jemma begs, annoyed. She and Fitz are standing in the middle of the party. She’s doing absolutely nothing; meanwhile, he won’t stop looking around like an idiot since they arrived. It’s been less than half an hour and she just wants to go home. This is such a huge waste of time.

“It’s nothing,” he dismisses her again.

Suddenly, he seems to find what he’s searching for, and Jemma has no idea what it is due to the sheer amount of people covering every single square meter of the living room.

“I’ll be right back,” he motions to turn away from her but hesitates. “Are you going to be alright?”

She rolls her eyes. “I’m not a baby in a hot car,” she states. “Go and do whatever you apparently came here to do!”

He laughs just like he did in the car again. “Why don’t you go grab a drink? I’ll just be a minute.”

She waves him off and he leaves her there, amidst a crowd of drunk, excited teenagers that keep bumping into her.

It takes her a few “excuse me”s here and there for her to cross the crowd and get to the “bar”—quite an overstatement for the kitchen worktop littered with bottles of various alcoholic drinks and red plastic cups left by people who were too lazy to find a bin.

Jemma guesses that the money spent on alcohol is probably the reason there’s no food at all. She’s hungry and curses herself for not having a snack before leaving for the party.

There are only a few stools, none of which are empty, so she just stands awkwardly by the counter top and eventually pulls her phone out of her purse to do something random. Fitz is unlikely to be back anytime soon, she thinks.

As soon as the first person leaves their stool by the bar, Jemma takes their place. If she’s bored to death, at least she’s sitting down, right?

Literally two seconds later, her phone beeps with a text from Fitz. Her jaw drops as she reads it in disbelief.

“Look to your left. You can thank me later.”

She’s honest to god afraid to look, but does so anyway, discreetly, and nearly jumps out of her skin as she notices she’s sitting right beside none other than Skye the vlogger.