Thunder boomed outside, rattling the Bus’ windows. Skye jumped, startled even though she was wide awake. Suddenly her bunk felt too small, too crowded even though it was sparse. She jumped up in between the thunder clapping and stepped into the hallway, shivering at how eerie the plane was.
It was late at night. The plane was lit only by the few emergency lights that had a habit of coming on since they got the Bus back. Skye tiptoed quickly to the cockpit, stopping at the door right behind it. She lifted a hand to knock but hesitated. Then thunder boomed again, this time closer and shook the plane. Skye nearly slammed her hand against the bunk door.
It slid open in the next second, and she stepped through, immediately calming though her heart still raced. May sat up in bed, clicking on the bedside lamp to squint at her. “Skye?”
She’d just woken up. Skye envied her. But, she shivered, crossing her arms.
“What’s wrong?” May asked. “Everything alright?”
Skye tried to nod but jumped as more thunder hit. Instead of explaining why she was there, all that came out was a shaky, “Can- can we cuddle?”
Wordlessly, Melinda beckoned her over, welcoming Skye who eagerly climbed into the bed and snuggled into her. When she first met May, Skye never thought she would be in the position to seek out a cuddle without getting maimed. But over the past few months spent as S.O. and trainee, it became normal.
May kept the light on as she laid back down, smoothing Skye’s hair. “You should be sleeping.”
The plane shook. Skye shook with it. She pressed closer to May, who asked, “You’re scared of thunder?”
Skye nodded. “One family I stayed with locked me outside during a thunderstorm,” she told her. Skye kept her eyes open and trained on the light from the lamp, blocking out the memory of the cold rain against her skin and her soaked back pressed against the house. “I, uh, haven’t really gotten over it.”
“How old were you?”
The way May’s hand flexed was almost imperceivable, but Skye noticed. May sighed and tucked her arm around Skye. “I’m sorry.”
“It’s okay.” Skye shrugged then scoffed. “It seems stupid to still be afraid of thunder after everything that’s happened.”
“It’s not stupid,” May said. “It’s human. Everyone has something they’re afraid of.”
Skye shifted to peer up at her. “Even you?”
May nodded but didn’t meet her eyes. “Even me.”
“Locusts?” Skye repeated, raising her eyebrows in shock.
“The giant ones with the beady eyes. I can’t stand them.”
“They’re pretty gross,” she agreed, laying her head back on May’s chest. Her heartbeat thudded under Skye’s ear, distracting her from the thunder that still shook the plane. Soon, it was hard to keep her eyes open.
“Time to go to sleep.” May’s hand was still against her head, stroking down her back. Skye had never felt safer and found herself dozing off. “I’ll be right here.”