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The Best Four Years

Chapter Text

Jemma bit her lip thoughtfully as she stood at her locker. She didn't mean to stare. She knew better than that but there was just something about the girl a few lockers down that made her, well...nervous.

She could already feel her throat dry. Her palms were all sweaty. Her heart was racing.

Lord, I am such a mess.

So much for being a genius. Jemma threw back the latest calculus test back into her locker. I am such a disgrace.

She needed help. That was the second C+ that month.

The only person that could help her was Skye. Jemma had to girl up and just ask her for it.

Suddenly, the locker down from hers slammed shut. Jemma jumped at the sound and noticed Skye coming in her direction.

She tried to bury her face in her locker but it was futile.

"Can you please tell me why you've been stalking me all day?" the volleyball player asked as she leaned casually against the lockers.

It was then that Jemma knew why it was so difficult to approach Skye. She was hot. Perfectly mixed ethnicities. Award winning smile. Hot and fit body. The Boss face. Jemma swallowed hard as she stared into those deep brown eyes.

Skye raised a perfectly plucked eyebrow and waited for a response. People feared Skye from her face alone and Jemma could see why. It also didn't help that it sort of made her heat up in certain places.

Jemma could feel her ears heat up as she let out a sigh. "I need your help."

"With?" Skye was definitely no nonsense and Jemma found that even hotter.

"Calculus."

"Why?"

Jemma pouted. Her pride was wounded yet again. As she answered, she could feel the salt pouring into said wound. "I've been doing terribly. I don't know why and it bothers me that I cannot fathom basic mathematical principles while the sciences are clearly my forte."

There was an imperceptible smile that crossed Skye's face before she corrected herself. "I meant why are you asking me? Everyone knows you're the young genius, don't you have some other genius friends?"

"I've heard you're the best at math."

Skye crossed her arms and the fact that her back straightened made Jemma shrink an inch in response. "Is it because I am Asian or something?"

Jemma blanched. "Oh my god! No! Not at all! That is definitely not the reason I am asking you. I am sorry if I have offended you by asking, I didn't mean to. It's just that Ms. Foster mentioned that you were currently the top student in the class, so you would be able to help me. It's definitely not because you are Asian."

The serious look on Skye's face was quickly replaced by a smile. The sound of her laugh made Jemma's heart pound so hard.

"I am sorry," Skye said through her fits, "but you should've seen the look on your face."

That smile. That laugh. Save me.

Jemma felt herself relax to see Skye differently. She was always so used to that stern flat face that the current smile made her feel fuzzy.

Focus.

Jemma bit her lip nervously once again. "So...does that mean you can help?" Her voice felt so small.

"Depends."

Jemma looked at her curiously.

"I can help you out at school, before and after practice, lunch is negotiable. If we have to do it outside of school, it has to be at your place."

"Oh. That's simple enough."

Skye pursed her lips breaking that austere expression for a moment before adding, "Good because I also accept payment in the form of dinners and making out."

Jemma's brained stuttered to a halt and her face immediately flushed. "I'm sorry?"

Again that smile came back, almost knocking Jemma to the side.

Skye didn't say anything further and winked. "I've got practice until 5pm, I'll see you at my car."

As the volleyball player walked off, Jemma could feel her heart pounding. She is going to be the death of me. I'm sure of it. Absolutely sure.

Chapter Text

Skye tugged at the strap of her backpack a little tighter as she balanced the tray in her other hand. She pursed her lips.

Maybe today would be her lucky day and the lunch man, Mack, would let her slide through the line without paying.

It wasn't the first time but that was when Skye was still being bounced around from house to house. Her luck had turned around with Phil but she wasn't going to let him know that she was secretly stashing lunch money in a false bottom of her drawer every other day. You know, just in case.

She hoped she could stick around with Phil long enough though.

Her lips curled up just for Mack as her turn came in the line.

The lunch man turned his head and saw Vice Principal Hand nearby eyeing him. "Sorry, Skye, someone got on Hand about the school budget and she's been hawking on everyone."

Just her luck. Skye nodded in resignation; after all, Mack had helped her plenty of times. "Don't worry about it," she said as she placed her tray down. Luckily, school lunch never tasted that good anyways.

As she was about to step out of line, completely embarrassed by this predicament, she was stopped by a shy English voice.

"I've got it, Mack."

"Uh--sure, Jemma, that's nice of you."

Skye tightened her jaw as she watched Jemma hand Mack the money for both of their lunches. Jemma shot her a bright smile as she slipped her wallet back into her backpack. Her eyes fell on Mack as if he betrayed her, but he merely wiggled his eyebrows at her.

"I can't very well hold both of our lunches," Jemma joked softly as she picked up her tray.

A low grumble from her stomach betrayed her as well. Skye begrudgingly grabbed her tray and waited to follow Jemma out of the line. The one thing Skye hated was relying on people. Even her teammates never bought her lunch.

"You didn't have to do that you know?" Skye practically mumbled as she followed Jemma to an empty seat.

Jemma looked at the volleyball player curiously before setting her tray down and sitting. "It was the least I could do. You've been an excellent tutor."

Skye couldn't help but roll her eyes. "You know I was joking about the dinner as payment for tutoring you."

Jemma blushed. Skye smirked, knowing full well that making out as payment was still to be contested. The young genius always had a knack for evading that topic. Light banter and noncommittal flirting were the lines they danced on.

"Fine then," Jemma sassed playfully as she reached for the tray, "since I bought both lunches, I suppose I can find someone else to give it to. Ward is looking hungry."

Skye's eyes widened as she pulled back so Jemma couldn't grab the tray. It was instinct. This lunch is mine. Jemma bought it for me. Her ears reddened. Maybe she didn't like to share. Maybe she was a bit territorial. What she settled on was, "Hey, no take backs!"

Ward could starve. That was the price of having a mortal enemy, it made Skye bristle. Damn, Jemma already knew how to play her.

A sweet giggle came from Jemma as she picked up a carrot from her tray. She smiled knowingly at Skye. "Would you like to sit down or would you prefer standing there awkwardly? I wouldn't be offended if you went and sat with your friends."

"Oh." Skye hadn't realized she was hovering. She slipped into the seat next to Jemma as if it were the most natural thing in the world. She picked up her sandwich and a small smile graced her lips as she took a bite of her sandwich.

"Maybe tomorrow there will be something better," Jemma said conversationally. Her cheeks were slightly pink as she bit into her sandwich.

Skye smirked as continued biting into her sandwich. "Your mom's dinner makes up for this trust me."

"Staying for dinner tonight then?"

Skye shrugged. "Only if you insist." Again that blush without a response. Skye watched as Jemma bit into a slightly hard part of her sandwich and cringed. She let out a laugh as Jemma put her sandwich down, which clearly offended her.

"I'll make dinner tonight, it's the least I can do to make up for this atrocity." Jemma insisted, how could she say no?

Regardless, lunch tasted pretty great anyways.

Chapter Text

The first time Jemma had done it, it was a moment of weakness that Jemma took complete advantage of. It wasn't often that she found Skye in a very vulnerable position. She just happened to stand in line after she had seen Skye shifting awkwardly with the tray of food. When she saw Skye pat her pockets, Jemma knew what was wrong.

What she made her feel worse was how bad the lunch had been that day. Skye deserved a lot better. Granted, Skye was a tough girl, which Jemma learned very quickly, the volleyball player could take care of herself. It was the kindness and compassion that Jemma learned a week after, despite Skye's uncanny and constant displeased expression.

It made her heart race when Skye would sit next to her when they studied. Her breath gently caressing her neck as she huddled to explain the purpose of derivatives and integrals like it was a secret. Sometimes, Skye's hand would brush against hers as they turn the pages of her surprisingly condensed notes that explained everything so much better.

On days that they studied at Jemma's home, the young genius swore her heart would completely stop.

There was an adorable look of awe on Skye's face as they entered the lavish home, adorn with years of her father's business excursion. While Jemma's mother's picture of a perfect stepford mother made her blush, Skye was impressed by her mother's investments that contributed to their wealth.

When they got to her room, Jemma nearly died as she watched Skye stare in awe at her work space. Jemma swore Skye fell in love with her computer that day. It made her heart swell when Skye timidly commented on how nice her room was when really she wanted to touch everything.

"You want to jump on my bed don't you?"

"Uhm duh, it's a queen sized four poster oak bed. I wouldn't mind falling into a cloud after today's practice."

Jemma just laughed and let Skye jump in, sinking in with a blissful sigh. What a nerd.

"You can join me, it is your bed after all."

Jemma wasn't sure it was supposed to sound seductive but the way Skye smirked up at her as she leaned on her elbows made her stomach do flips. They had to avoid the bed every time they studied because they would accidentally fall into a nap and Jemma would end up curled against Skye's body. If Skye was embarrassed about waking up with Jemma enclosed in her arm, she didn't say. The sly smile she would give Jemma said more than enough.

"Making lunch for Skye again?" Her mother asked as she made the coffee.

Jemma couldn't contain a blush as she answered with a meek, "It's the least I can do."

"She's got you cooking dinner and making lunch for her, should I be expecting her to pin you soon?"

"Mom!" She sounded so indignant that her mother laughed. Her face was beet red at the double entendre. "You're so old fashioned." Her mother shrugged. "Besides, Skye has a knack for forgetting her lunch money some days, I wouldn't want her to be cranky at the end of the day while she tutors me."

"Mm."

The all knowing sound of her mother that Jemma just chose to ignore.


 

The locker a few columns down slammed shut once more. Jemma held her breath knowing it was Skye's slam. It made it hard for everyone else to tell whether or not she was mad, her flat expression also made it even harder. Poor Fitz had the misfortune of being right next to her locker and jumped, completely startled as his notebooks fluttered into the air.

Skye offered her help, but Fitz's ears turned bright red as he protested vehemently. He kept his head low and let her walk by.

"You were hovering again," Skye deadpanned as she stood by Jemma's locker. Her casual, backpack slung over one shoulder and hand in her pocket stance that made Jemma try hard not to stare.

Jemma let out a brave breath before reaching into her locker for the tupperware. "My mom made two lunches today and I figured you might want something more substantial to eat." Her heart pounded and she was sure she stuttered at some point during her lie.

The look on Skye's face turned from dubious to amused.

"You're an awful liar," Skye commented on. It was better than her being offended. Jemma looked down with shame. She had to work on that. "So what's this about two lunches?" Her gentle tone made Jemma smile.

God, she didn't know where this shyness was coming from. She practically shoved the tupperware at Skye and quickly exclaimed, "I made this for you and I hope you like it!"

Her cheeks burned.

Just behind Skye she could see Fitz stand up with his jaw dropped. Jemma could have died in that moment.

"Oh." What a small sound Skye surprisingly made. Jemma looked up at Skye's face and saw a slight blush as she stared back between her and the lunch.

Just as Skye was about to add to her lame response, Ward decided to walk by.

"Good morning, Jemma," he greeted with a flirtatious smile on and wink.

"Morning, Grant," she returned politely. Her cheeks still red from Skye.

Skye coughed with a roll of her eyes, to remind him of her presence. He didn't regard her much as he continued to walk off.

Suddenly, Jemma felt Skye's hands on hers, relieving her of the tupperware. Her brows were slightly scrunched up as her jaw tightened. "Thanks for the lunch," she whispered as gratefully as she could.

That was easy. Jemma should have thought of mentioning Ward sooner to prompt Skye.

"I hope you like it." Jemma couldn't help but sound unsure.

"What is it?" Skye looked at the tupperware curiously.

"Quinoa salad!" Skye wrinkled her nose and Jemma rolled her eyes. She worked hard on it. "It's healthy and high in protein." Skye nodded slowly. She had already taken the lunch, no give backs. Jemma saw this coming and reached into her locker and pulled out her back up plan. "I also got you a wretched beef jerky stick that you love so much."

There was a small smile as Skye's cheeks suddenly flared. "You sure know how to woo a girl," she said playfully as she took the beef jerky, again restraining her enthusiasm. "Play your cards right and I will let you meet my foster father."

"Only if I am picking you up for a date." The words slipped out of her mouth faster than she could process it. Jemma sputtered at her words.

Skye smirked and let out a laughed. "Are you asking me out on a date, Jemma?"

"Oh, shut up."

They really needed to stop flirting.

Chapter Text

"So is she the girl you have not been seeing?"

Skye wanted to tear her hair out as her foster father, Phil, stood in the doorway of her room. She fixed it up her waves so they were more orderly. It had nothing to do with Jemma coming over. 

"I am tutoring her, Phil. We are not seeing each other like that."

Phil crossed his arms and leaned against the door frame with a playful smile. " Regardless , I am glad you've got someone. I look forward to meeting her."

It always made her nervous when Phil was so kind and patient with her. Even the smile on his face made her feel like he was actually her father. But really, Jemma is just a girl she is tutoring, not her girlfriend. She isn't nervous that Jemma is meeting Phil.

"But am I going to have to have an open door policy?"

Skye blushed. "Stop it!"


Jemma felt nervous. It wasn't uncommon for her to feel like that around Skye though. After all, it wasn't as if she could control the butterflies that filled her stomach and tried to force their way out of her throat when she tried to speak to her. There was a way Skye looked at her so patiently when she waited for her to process her notes that made her blush. And there was the way Skye gently touched her hand to slip the pencil out to correct her that made her heart pound.

She lifted her hand slowly and knocked on the door. The sound was weak. How else was she going to quell the nervousness? It was the first time that Jemma had been to Skye's home. Jemma was going to meet Skye's foster father.

Even Jemma understood how big of a deal it was.

He could be terrifying for all she knew. Maybe that's why Skye never wanted her to come over. It wasn't as if Jemma didn't like having Skye over, but it was extremely nice to know more about Skye. Not like it mattered much, their study sessions often devolved into conversations about their day, what colleges they were applying to in the fall, what her cousin Peggy was up to on student council (there were some rumors developing that she was caught locked in the janitor's closet with the head cheerleader), just anything and everything. Those conversations were the highlight of Jemma's day (aside from her consistently improving grades).

Jemma knocked on the door once more. She had to be a bit braver. It was Skye. Aside from her perpetual scowl, Skye was a really nice and polite girl. Sometimes also a prankster as evident through Ward, but mainly because he has been up to some bullshit involving locking Fitz in the locker room without his clothes.

Skye liked to pretend she just hated Ward but that instance, Jemma knew it was because of her. Fitz was her friend.

On the other side of the door, she could hear the quick pattering footsteps. In an instance, the door swung open, startling Jemma, and Skye stood before her, slightly panting.

Jemma felt her cheeks flare as she stared at Skye wearing her running shorts and tight tee with her hair cascading down her shoulder in perfect waves. She desperately suppressed the thoughts of running her hands through the soft dark waves.

There was a curl of Skye's lips as she stepped aside. "Come in whenever you're ready."

Jemma bit the inside of her cheek. You are insufferable. "How are you doing today?"

Skye shrugged nonchalantly as she closed the door. "Nothing special, practice in the morning, errands in the afternoon with Phil, and now tutoring you."

"I am really sorry about this. If it's inconvenient just let me know, I can go home whenever you--"

"Don't worry about it, Simmons," Skye confidently interrupted. "Tomorrow's our biggest test for the whole year. It's nothing new. We've pulled late nights before." She walked further into the little home that seemed perfect sized for two people and admittedly full.

"I know, I know," Jemma rolled her eyes as she followed the volleyball player. "I just feel bad taking you away from your own time."

"To what? Study?" Skye laughed.

It was cute but that didn't stop Jemma from playfully slapping Skye. They made their way into the kitchen where Skye wanted to get them something to drink when Jemma felt the air escape from her lungs.

"DUDE!" Skye yelled out, doubly startling Jemma. The casual regard for her foster father summed up their relationship.

There Phil was sitting at the dining table in the kitchen, cleaning his shotgun.

The foster father looked up and smiled as if it was the most normal thing in the world. "Hello, you must be, Jemma!" He greeted cheerfully as he held the muzzle in one hand and stretched out the other to shake.

"No! Phil could you at least put the gun down?!" Skye couldn't stop exclaiming. Jemma wasn't even terrified, just frozen in space.

The father of her not girlfriend had a gun in his hand and they were meeting for the first time, what was she supposed to feel?

"Oh come on," he joked as he put the shotgun down on the table and stood up to properly greet Jemma. "I am sure your friend wouldn't feel threatened now, would she?"

Jemma stared between the foster father and daughter as they non-verbally communicated. It was amusing to watch because she had never seen Skye so flustered before. There was a different aura to her. Something about Skye was more relaxed, more lively. It was a side that Jemma couldn't help but smile with her heart swelling at.

Skye glanced at her with her cheeks pink before saying to Phil, "This is why I don't have friends over," she introduced, pointing to him. "Phil, Jemma. Jemma, Phil."

Jemma reached for Phil's hand first and he smiled with approval at Skye.

"Thanks for keeping her in order, I've never seen her so on top of school work." Phil looked proudly at Skye, who rolled her eyes in response.

Jemma let out a stifled giggle. "I am glad she has it together. Sometimes i feel like I am her tutor."

"Ah, I like how she threw you under the bus."

Skye didn't entertain him as she moved towards the fridge and pulled out two bottles of water to throw at Jemma, who barely caught it, before pulling out a pitcher of juice. "Try to clean up your toys please, Phil, the last thing I need is for the daughter of a CFO for a Fortune 500 company getting shot."

"Hmm." Phil sounded as he smiled at them both. "Try not to be so loud please, Skye, the last thing I want is for you to follow the open door policy."

Skye's face turned red as a tomato. "See you later, Phil." She looked at Jemma calmly. "Ready for the greatest material of your life?"

Jemma shared an amused smile before politely thanking Phil. If there was any indication that Skye mentioned Jemma to him, she tried to ignore it. It was bad enough she had a crush on the volleyball player, she couldn't really get tangled with her anymore at this point.

No matter how irresistible her smile was. No matter how charming she was when she wanted to be. No matter how intelligent she was despite her efforts to hide it. No matter how attractive she was when Jemma would wait at the bleachers for her and she could see Skye's body in the skin tight volleyball uniform.

Focus. She has been an excellent teacher. I can't fail on her now.

But she was failing. Hardcore.

Jemma was sure that Skye had been talking about integrals. Or was it volumes of cylinders? See? That was exactly the problem.

"What you have to do is find the integral of this equation but because there's chain rule, you have to do this."

The way Skye explained things were so complex and succinct that Jemma couldn’t focus. It was a part of the brain that Jemma had never tapped into before but hearing Skye explain the dullest material to her and seeing her lips move--knowing how smart Skye sounded, was such a distraction. Who knew genius was the new sexy?

"Jemma? Have you heard a word I've said?"

Jemma snapped out of her reverie as Skye caught her attention.

The volleyball player's face was suddenly mere inches from hers. Jemma felt her throat dry  with Skye's warm breath brushing against her cheek. She licked her lips unconsciously.

"Jem..."

Their lips were so close. They only seemed to get closer.

Jemma felt her heart suddenly make a break for it. In the corner of her eyes, she saw a shimmer. "WATER!" she exclaimed as she reached for Skye's water and drank it like she has been through a drought.

Skye leaned back and let out an incredulous laugh with a head shake.

After a few more hours of studying stiffly near one another (mainly due to Jemma's nervousness), Skye stifled a yawn. Jemma looked sadly at Skye, knowing that maybe she was over preparing for the exam. But they hadn't even gotten to the last chapter yet. It was already 11pm.

Just as Jemma was about to call it quits for the sake of Skye getting rest, the volleyball player looked over with a smile.

"Tea?"  Skye said.

Jemma bit the urge to propose to the other girl on the spot. She bit her lip and nodded. Whatever feelings she had for Skye needed to be quelled immediately. Remain calm and relaxed. Be chill.

The volleyball player stood up with and brushed Jemma’s shoulders as she walked by to make the tea. The intimate and comforting touch made Jemma shiver in her seat.

Ughhhhh,” Jemma groaned as she dropped her head onto the table. It was going to be a long night.

It took awhile before Jemma had wanted to call it quits. Actually, Jemma was not all powerful against Somnos whatsoever.

Skye had moved onto finishing her literature paper while Jemma studied diligently next to her. Occasionally asking questions about the problems and distracting herself from studying by striking up a conversation with Skye. The third time Jemma struck up a conversation, Skye pointed it out and instantly earned an abashed look on Jemma’s innocent face.

She was sitting on the floor typing away at her laptop when her eyes grew heavy. She tried to rub the sleepiness out of her eyes but Skye knew better.

There was a light snore coming from behind her.

The sound caught her attention and Skye looked up at Jemma sitting on the couch with the calculus textbook open on her lap and notebook slipping out of her grasp, her head lolled back against the cushions. Skye looked at the clock in the corner of her laptop: 2:37am.

Then she had an idea. She quickly saved her paper and opened up the photo booth on her laptop. With just the right angle, she captured a picture of herself on the floor with Jemma looking peacefully asleep with her mouth open on the couch.

She covertly uploaded it to facebook and held back a laugh.

Cosine doesn’t derive...how can you not derive?” Jemma uttered softly as she leaned to her side and fell against the arm of the couch. She whimpered desperately. “Skye says you can derive...just do it.”

Her accent was much thicker as she slurs her sleepy words.

Skye shook her head. “Alright, tiger, time for bed,” she said softly as she removed the textbook from Jemma’s lap and closed the notebook. She rubbed the back of her neck.

At least they had changed into their pajamas earlier. Phil would be asleep by now.

Without much debate, Skye carefully stood next to Jemma and bent down. She reached for Jemma’s heavy arms and brought them around her neck before slipping her arms under her knees and back. Jemma weight significantly less than Skye thought.

Skye carried Jemma in her arms carefully as she moved towards the guest room. The whole time, she was scared that Jemma would wake up or jump out of her arms. Both would result in someone getting hurt and Skye wasn’t one for commotion at this hour.

As she kneeled onto the bed to place Jemma down on the bed, Skye suddenly realized that Jemma wasn’t letting go. In fact, her arms were clasped tightly around her neck pulling her in even closer that Skye’s sense were filled with Jemma’s fresh lavender shampoo. She froze when she heard a deep sigh escape Jemma’s lips.

Her neck was extremely hot all of a sudden.

There was a moan of protest as Skye tried to shift out of her grasp. Who knew? Jemma Simmons really, really liked cuddling. Because suddenly, Skye was on top of Jemma and she could feel their bodies pressed flush against one another.

There was a lump in her throat at the sudden turn of events. She slowly breathed out, trying to calm her raving heartbeat. What else was she to do?  She was tired. Jemma was holding her.

Her body betrayed her. In a sudden relaxed state, Skye felt her eyes close as the warmth of Jemma’s body comforted her. Her arms slipped around Jemma’s waist and pulled her even closer.

Together they fell asleep holding each other tightly. Neither of them saying anything as they woke up in each others’ arms but also not rushing to separate their entangled bodies.

Chapter Text

The exam had been terribly long. It was a wonder that Jemma had even finished with energy left to spare.

She stepped out of the room with a massive sigh of relief. It was over. After a painful year of calculus Jemma could finally relax. She had the whole summer to relax and do what she really wanted to do without worrying about what the area underneath a line was. She cringed at the thought and instantly pushed it to the depths of her mind.

As she made her way back to her locker, keeping in mind what her other teachers had planned for their last day of exams, she saw Fitz sitting on the floor next to her locker with his Physics textbook on his lap. What surprised her even more was Skye standing on the other side of her locker, foot propped up against the lockers, bag slung over her shoulder, mindlessly checking her phone.

Her heart nearly stopped as she just stared at how candid that moment was. And it was perfect.

Fitz noticed her first. "Jemma!" He greeted with enthusiasm as he shut his textbook and stood up. "I was beginning to think that you didn't make it through your exam."

In the corner of her eyes, she watched as Skye traded her stance to lean against the lockers. She focused her attention on Fitz. "Luckily for me, it's over. I don't want to ever think about calculus ever again."

"Well you next year to focus on as well," Fitz reminded. She narrowed her eyes at him. "What?! There are at least two levels of Calculus you need to take as part of your general college curriculum."

Jemma internally sighed and externally groaned in dissatisfaction. "Fitz," she whined. In these moments, her friend could really be a prick but he wasn't wrong. "After the summer is over. Remind me after the summer is over."

Fitz laughed at her good heartedly and patted her on the back. "Anyways, let's start walking, Skye and I have to get to Programs."

Jemma glanced at her tutor with a bright smile. It was very rare for Skye to want to speak in front of Fitz. She didn't dislike him but there was very little left to be said unless she was alone with Jemma. However, since she became her tutor, Skye had taken to casually walking with Fitz and Jemma to class. Just nearby, quietly listening as the two brainiacs talked their way to class.

Skye cracked a smirk. "How did you do?"

"Well, I would hope."

"Same here." There was a shine in Skye's eyes akin to pride. She gestured for Jemma to follow Fitz and began walking in step with them just behind Jemma.

Fitz launched into how he was a bit stressed for his Physics exam and how he would study better if Trip didn't keep texting him to ask him questions about the exam. Jemma of course reassured her friend that everything would turn out well for him. He had a great grasp on the sciences already, it wasn't as if he was completely clueless. Besides, Fitz always had this angry yet adoring reaction in regards to Trip.

Skye was always the one to subtly point it out. "Trip likes smart guys." She casually mentioned one day that got Fitz to blush up to his ears.

With the end of the school year just hours away, everything had suddenly became mad. The whole school became a zoo with the jocks being excited over the fact that their brains could focus solely on their sports as recruitment was coming around soon for certain sports. People were running to class. To class! For the whole year everyone clogged the halls, making it impossible to get to class early (it bother Jemma to no end). Of course, the end of the year couldn't come any sooner.

The trio were walking down the stairs with Fitz and Skye slightly hugging the wall, when they heard a loud whoop from whom everyone recognized as the boys on the football team. In a startled moment, Jemma turned to see a body jump from three steps behind them, onto the next floor.

"Gabe, you ready?!" Another voice boomed from the top of the steps. "CATCH!"

Jemma looked for the voice and everything happened so quickly. There was a ball flying towards her face and she shrieked. She tried moving out of the way when suddenly next step disappeared.

In a whirling vision, Jemma heard the descent of her scream as well as Skye and Fitz calling out to her. The five steps felt like a million as she fell, her ankle clipped the corner of the last step and she landed on her butt, thankfully.

Jemma tried to catch her breath. Once for the startling fall. Another for the dull pain in her ankle.

Everyone was suddenly surrounding her.

"Shit, sorry, Jem!" Gabe apologized immediately as he reached to help her stand.

A hand slapped his away and Jemma looked up. Skye had a stern look on her face like she wasn't fucking around and Gabe-his poor, kind soul-looked terrified. Jemma could only imagine the ferocity in Skye's face as she hovered behind Jemma protectively. She kneeled down quickly and dropped her hand on her shoulders.

"Aw, shit are you okay?" Tim was suddenly in front of her, taking off his bowler hat. "Please tell me you're okay. Peg would have me drawn and quartered if you were hurt."

"I'm fine, Tim," Jemma said kindly. She moved to stand when a sharp pain shot through her ankle. She hissed in pain and almost fell down, when she felt Skye's arms under hers easing her down. "Oooooookay, maybe not."

He cursed again. And suddenly, he and Gabe were bickering about whose fault it was.

"Dum Dum, shut up," Skye ordered snappily. Both him and Gabe clamped their mouths shut. "Just go to class and stop throwing that stupid football in the halls so you don't hurt anyone else."

Both boys dropped their shoulders and heeded Skye's angry tone.

"Can I at least help her to the nurse?" Tim offered. "It's the least I can do."

Skye crossed her arms and glared. "Take it up with Peggy later."

"Aw noooooooo," Tim cried out almost fearfully. Jemma thought that he was on the verge of begging her not to tell her cousin but when Skye wasn’t in the mood, no one played games with her.

It made Jemma fear and admire her simultaneously. Although, her subtle assertion of power made her stomach do leaps.

As Jemma dumbly stared at Skye, she hadn't realized the boys disappeared to class with their shoulders slumped. Fitz was kneeling at her side.

"Hey, can you walk?" He asked carefully.

"What does it look like?" Skye snapped in return.

"Skye!" Jemma admonished.

Skye shot Jemma a glare, not backing down. Jemma sighed, wordlessly trying to calm her down.

Their interaction didn't go unnoticed by Fitz.

He threw up his hands with an exasperated sigh. "Stop doing that thing, you two!" They both turned to him. "We need to get Jemma to the nurse and get to class! How are we going to do that?"

Jemma moved to stand again, when Skye pushed her to sit.

"It's not a good idea for you to stand," she said carefully as she tried to shake the anger in her tone.

"Maybe, we should’ve let Tim carry me to the nurse’s office."

Skye shook her head. And Fitz rolled his eyes at her tutor, "If only Skye hadn’t scared them off."

"Hey, he was really irritating me," she threw back in her defense, "Who the hell acts like an animal at that age? Now, Jemma is hurt."

Jemma could hear the protection in Skye's voice. She honestly didn’t like it when Skye and fitz bicker, it just made things more complicated. Like she had to pick sides or something. But it was her best friend versus her tutor...who she had feelings for.

"Fitz, go to class," Jemma decided. There was an easy remedy to this situation, considering that Skye would only listen to her at that point anyways.

"But you--"

"Skye will carry me," she interrupted him quickly. Skye just stood there, mouth shut and glower across her face."She's done it before, I am confident she can do it again. Isn't that right, Skye?"

Fitz widened his eyes and shot his eyes between the two. Jemma could see the myriad of thoughts across his face, while Skye subtly blushed. Her tutor nodded in agreement regardless. They had also woken up in bed together too, but Fitz would have a heart attack if he knew. He could find out later.

"I’ve got her."

The way Skye said it was both aloof and comforting. It was strange how a girl she had nothing in common with could be compassionate and caring in her own way for Jemma. Fitz didn't fight it. He would listen to Jemma and trust that Skye would listen to her as well.

"I'll let Dr. Zola know," Fitz offered as he began gathering his things and walking towards their class. He threw a look over his shoulder before continuing on.

The traffic in the halls had wound down significantly since the boys had went to class. That left Skye and Jemma on their own.

Skye slipped off her backpack and placed it next to Jemma's before kneeling down in front of her.

"Piggyback?" Jemma clarified with a joking tone.

"Unless you want me to carry you bridal style," Skye joked in return. It was in those moments that Jemma should know better than to tease Skye because Skye would throw it right back. At least her mood improved between the two of them.

Jemma always had a tendency to lose but she was getting better. "Need I remind you of last night?"

This time, Skye blushed. "Whatever, it wasn't a big deal," Skye muttered. Jemma giggled. "Come on arms around my neck."

"What about our stuff?"

Skye took a moment to think and handed Jemma her backpack. "Wear it," she handed Jemma her backpack, "And carry mine." The idea seemed dubious but Jemma slipped on her backpack and hooked Skye's onto her arm.

Jemma gingerly maneuvered herself to lean forward without pressing weight on her ankle. She clumsily leaned on Skye's back. Her grip tightened as Skye moved to stand up. Suddenly, she felt Skye's hands under her knees. She squealed as she lurched forward and felt Skye's backpack swing on her arm.

"Calm down. I won't drop you," Skye said with promise.

Jemma unconsciously pressed her body tighter against Skye and flexed her thighs.

For a second, Skye paused and Jemma thought she was hurting the other girl. "I'm sorry," Jemma muttered as she tried to relax against Skye. It was difficult. How else was she supposed to feel? Her body was pressed flush against her crush, who had a surprising amount of strength. If Jemma didn't know any better, Skye carried her as easily as a backpack.

"Don't worry about it," Skye reassured. She glanced back and their cheeks brushed against one another intimately. "Get comfortable." She did a little hop and Jemma squealed as she was readjusted to settle more comfortably on her back.

"If I hadn't reacted so poorly, I wouldn't have fallen." She hated feeling like an inconvenience.

Skye shrugged slightly. "Those guys are monkeys. They should’ve been more careful anyways, either that you wouldn't have been startled."

"Mm. You’re not really going to talk to Peggy are you?"

At the thought of her cousin, Jemma was worried what other consequences would come about that. Peggy had already been busy enough with whatever rumors were floating around her circle of friends about #Cartinelli. Again, the boys on the football team were playing a covert role somehow.

"Do you not want me to?"

"I think we can spare ourselves that conversation to be honest."

There was a sudden silence that fell between them. Skye clutched Jemma's weight under her knees carefully and let her put more weight on her back.

The walk to the nurse's office seemed like forever. It was unnerving how they could talk for hours out of school but when they were there, Skye seemed like someone else. Her tutor didn't play games nor did she participate in antics of high school youths. It made Jemma both comfortable and curious because she could see Skye for much longer than high school. It was if they would be bound together forever.

Her breath quickened at the thought of her and Skye. They were peers and barely friends. Even if they flirted often, so what? Even if it seemed odd for Skye to walk her to calculus class, so what?

Jemma shuddered, feeling an instinctual need to clutch the other girl tightly.

Again, Skye glanced over her shoulder, this time their noses brushing and Jemma gasped softly.

"You've been acting strange," Skye informed as she kept moving forward.

Suddenly, Jemma felt hot. They both felt hot to be honest. She could feel Skye's back warming up against her chest. Her ears and neck were reddening.

"I could say the same about you." It came out as a mumble because Jemma didn't know whether or not she wanted Skye to hear her.

Hah.”

There’s a beat of silence. It seems like Skye is just comfortable carrying Jemma on her back, which by the way she made seem easy but in all honesty, her backpack was heavy.

“Are you okay?” Jemma asked out of politeness. Really, she couldn’t stand the silence because the two of them could converse.

“Huh? Yeah, you're fine.”

There it was again. The clear indicator that Skye was constantly thinking. Or maybe she wasn't thinking. Either way, it made Jemma curious.

“Last night…” Jemma began carefully. She could feel her cheeks burning. She could feel the subtle tension in Skye’s shoulders before she relaxed quickly. “I am not entirely sure how we ended up in the same bed.”

“You forced yourself onto me and I couldn't say no,” her tutor deadpanned.

“Really?!”

“Whoa! Calm down!” Skye kept a firm grip on her and readjusted Jemma like a backpack. “I was kidding!” She started to laugh and Jemma felt the vibrations in her chest.

“Skye, don't joke like that!” the young genius chastised. “I wouldn't want you to feel uncomfortable.”

“Oh come on, as if you could. Granted you're always lurking nearby my locker waiting for me to approach you, I figure it's just you being your awkward self.”

Jemma dropped her chin on the volleyball player's shoulder and pouted. “I am not that awkward.”

“You are,” Skye responded quickly. “It's adorable.”

“Stop it, you.” There she goes again with those comments.

Skye just laughed. “Just so you know, you do have a killer grip though. You were like some sort of cuddle fiend last night. If anything I should be the one concerned.”

“Why would you be concerned?”

“I shouldn't take advantage of a pretty girl who fell asleep on my couch. Who knows what could've happened? You could have professed your undying love for me and I would just make you buy me everything in the world.”

“Har har,” Jemma retorted sarcastically. She tried not to think of the word love but there are some qualities she definitely liked. “I suppose I don't hate you.”

“Whoa there, who is carrying you?”

“Don't you dare, Skye!”

“Shush you. I like you enough that I wouldn't drop you.”

Jemma suddenly stops breathing for a second. Well, how am I supposed to take that?

“Hey, don't break yourself back there,” Skye said quickly to draw her out of her thoughts. “You're cool.”

What's that supposed to mean?

Oh god. Jemma felt like she didn’t understand Skye at all. She is such a flirt. It's so confusing. This is so awkward, how do I respond?

Luckily, Jemma didn’t have to because Skye stopped them in front of the nurse's office.

“Let’s hope Ms. May doesn't glare so hard at me this time around,” Skye joked as she entered.

No one was in the office besides the nurse, who instantly stood up to meet the girls.

“Skye, what did you do now?” May instantly accused.

“Hey! I am not the only that needs to be carried,” Skye returned defensively as she set Jemma down on the chair. “The boys on the football team got a little rowdy and Jemma sprained her ankle falling down the stairs.”

May let a small smile slip as she moved to check on Jemma. Jemma winced in pain as May took off her shoe and rolled up her jeans slightly. “Hmm...not a bad sprain thankfully,” she noted as she stood up. “I am going to get your forms and some ice.” She pulled over an empty stool and directed Jemma to elevate it before turning her attention to Skye. “Make sure she keeps it elevated. When I come back I'll write you a note for class.”

Awwwwww, can't I stay? It's just Zola.”

May rolled her eyes. “I don’t care if it’s Fury. Stop skipping class.”

Skye rolled her eyes in return. “Fine. Fine.”

May pat Skye on the head before going to retrieve the ice and forms.

Again, the two girls were left alone. Skye moved to get her backpack when the question popped into Jemma's head.

“Skye, are we friends?”

Skye tilted her head in curiosity. She bit the inside of her mouth and mulled the question over that it concerned Jemma.

After a moment, she just smiled and answered, “Yeah, sure. I mean if that’s what you wanna call it.”

Jemma let out an exasperated laugh and shook her head. “You are insufferable.”

Chapter Text

“Did you get your schedule?”

“Wow, I didn’t know we didn’t say ‘hello’ anymore babe?”

“Ah-uh-ugh! Skye!”

Skye laughed boisterously through the line. Jemma hated it. Even after a whole summer, Skye was so insufferable, if not more so.

“Yes?” Her voice was crisp and playful. In a way, Jemma had to admit that she missed hearing it.

It was different hearing her when they’d been sharing letters all summer.

“Sooo?” Jemma waited impatiently for Skye to respond. There was a bit of a rustle on the other end of the phone.

After a moment, Skye finally responded, “Oh, yeah, I think it came in last week.”

“Last week and you didn’t tell me?!”

“Oh come on, Jemma, you just got back today. You explicitly told me to wait for you.” There was the sound of paper tearing. “Are you going to open up this bad boy with me or what?”

Oh! Jemma held the phone between her ear and shoulder as she opened up the letter quickly. There was a brief silence between the two as they looked at their schedules.

“Eh…”

Jemma let out a groan. “I’ve got Calc BC first thing in the morning,” she whined.

Skye laughed. “You’ll be fine. The first half of the year will be review of last year anyways,” Skye comforted.

“I couldn’t have passed without you,” Jemma admitted. Luckily for phone calls, Skye wouldn’t be able to see the blush blooming across her cheeks.

She had been extremely lucky that Skye was her tutor, but she wasn’t sure that was going to be the case this year. It was also doubly strange to feel as they were close friends...or more. It was complicated.

Aww, you’re getting all sweet on me,” Skye cooed as if she knew the science genius was blushing. If she was there, Jemma was 100% sure that Skye would be poking her cheeks.

Jemma did scrunch her nose at Skye’s mocking voice. “Alright,” she diverted instead of lingering on that flirtatious line again, “what have you got on your schedule?”

Again there was a loud sigh, which was strange to hear from Skye. “I’ve got World History first thing in the morning, then Comp Sci, then PT--”

“At 11:30am?” Jemma asked quickly.

“Hmm...yup.”

“Oh, yay! I’m in that class period as well!”

“Cool.” Jemma frowned, she didn’t sound too excited to share her class. Nevertheless, Skye continued, “I’ve got lunch, then AP lit, euro, study hall, and then University Chemistry.”

Jemma’s jaw dropped. “You’re taking University Chemistry?”

“Uh, yeah?”

“I am too! I didn’t know you liked chemistry!” Jemma bounced on her bed with excitement as she prodded Skye with questions. Clearly, there were still things that Jemma didn’t know about Skye. “What made you decide to take it?”

Skye heard the excitement in the English girl’s voice and let out a bemused laugh. “I figured it was a good idea. I am good at it. Makes sense.”

It sounded so awkward, but Jemma reveled in it. She was sure no one ever got to know the academic side of Skye. “What about your other classes? You have to know that we are going to spend the rest of the day together after PT! We’ve got AP Literature, European History, and study hall!”

For a moment, Skye didn’t respond and Jemma felt like the hesitation meant that she probably should have contained her excitement a bit more. Just because they had been exchanging letters regularly every week during the summer didn’t mean they were best friends. It kind of did though. Right?

Jemma shut her mouth quickly. She didn’t mean to presume. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to presume…”

“Hmm?” At least Skye was still on the other end.

The English girl shifted the cellphone carefully to make sure she didn’t accidentally end the call. She scrunched her nose up to herself. That was an absurd thought. She stuttered her response, “I-uh-I-you just went quiet after I said our schedules match up and I just thought--I don’t know--maybe you weren't keen on it?”

Skye snorted and there was another shift on the other end of the call. A low rustle followed. “Keen?

“Yes, you know, happy about it?” Jemma felt the heat rise up her back as she crossed her legs. She shrugged even though Skye wouldn’t be able to see it. “I just got excited. It didn’t occur to me--” she bit the inside of her cheek, debating if she should even bother saying it.

“Occur to you that what?” Skye asked calmly. Her breathing was low and soft in the receiver.

Jemma hesitated this time. “Maybe...mm...you wouldn’t be as excited as I am.” She breathed out loudly. “It’s stupid. You know what? Don’t worry about it. I just--we are going to be sharing some classes. Well, a lot more than last year. I guess that’d be too much time seeing each other.”

“And if we didn’t spend time together in class, when else would we?” Her tutor deadpanned.

Jemma smacked her face this time. Another stupid assumption. “Sorry, it’s just because I had calc BC, maybe you’d tutor me again. Clearly, that was stupid of me to just assume--”

“Jemma,” Skye interrupted with her voice suddenly husky. She cleared her throat for a second before yawning.

Jemma suddenly realized that Skye was probably exhausted. It was almost 11pm. Usually, Skye tried to sleep early to get some rest for practice in the morning.

“I am sorry, I am just a bit tired.” Skye laughed lightly.

“God! I am so stupid, of course you are!” Jemma groaned in frustration at herself. “Sorry, I should let you sleep. We’ve got school tomorrow and you have practice in the morning.”

“It’s okay,” another yawn, “May let me have the morning off because we had practice all day today.”

“Practice all day today?!” Jemma asked, surprised.

“Haha...yeah, uh--,” Skye paused, thinking of what she wanted to say.

“Are you okay, Skye? Do you want to rest?”

“Uh, no, there’s just something I wanted to say,” Skye breathed out. Jemma held her breath. Skye wanted to say something. This could be serious.

What do I say in response?

Oh lord, what is she going to say?

My heart is pounding. Why is it pounding?

“Mm hmm?” Jemma tried to remain calm.

Skye laughed sardonically. “I--uh--there are scouts coming this week.” Jemma looked confused. “From a couple of schools actually.”

“That’s good right?” Jemma asked curiously. She was not in the sports realm like Skye was. She couldn’t even tell if Skye was happy about it. “Scouts? They’re the ones that give you scholarships. That’s great that you’re being looked at!” She was happy for Skye but couldn’t help but feel some sort of disappointment. Nevertheless, she pushed that feeling back and waited to Skye’s response.

“I didn’t even know that I was qualified. I transferred in recently. I’m a foster kid,” Skye let out an incredulous sigh. “I just--I am stunned. Apparently, Phil made a profile the minute I got onto the volleyball team. I don’t know how to thank him…” Skye let the words fall heavily as if she’d been dying to say them forever.

Jemma smiled to herself. This was Skye. Her Skye. A part of her tutor that no one else knew about. Skye shared that with her and it made her heart swell. “You’re a great girl, Skye. You have potential that Phil saw before you even realized it.”

Her Skye was going to do great things.

Wait. Her Skye??

“Yeah...it’s just a lot to think about,” Skye sighed loudly. She broke the spell between their moment as per usual. There was another rustle. There was a small muffled moan that caught Jemma’s attention. “Sorry, my bed is so comfy right now.”

Jemma smiled at the thought of Skye cuddling into bed. “All snuggled up?” She lied down on her bed and threw her comforter over herself.

“Hmm...yeah,” Skye let out contently. “There’s just something missing.”

“What’s that then?” Jemma cursed herself. She recognized where this was going.

“You.”

“Har har,” Jemma threw back sarcastically despite the burst of butterflies in her stomach. “I am sure you use that line on all the girls.”

“Just the pretty ones.”

Jemma blushed this time. “Alright, you big flirt,” she brushed off even though she could feel the blush up her cheek. She buried her face into her comforter to calm herself down. She tried not to squeal.

After a second, she thought Skye had fallen asleep. “Hey, Jemma, tomorrow, a rep from Stanford wants to meet me for lunch with Phil and May.”

Oh? That sounds like a great opportunity for you! Look at you being all fancy. Soon you’ll forget about your lowly student and leave me to ask for help from the likes of ugh Ward.”

“No, I won’t,” Skye interjected with a clipped tone. “Ward isn’t even as good as I am. He actually almost failed AB with you from what I’ve heard. You should really find a way to get him to back off or I will.”

“Skye!” Jemma gasped, trying not to sound pleased.

“What?” Skye grumbled in response. “You don’t like, Ward, he’s a douche. It’s senior year, he should’ve gotten the hint already. Honestly, he is just trying to rile me up.”

Jemma pouted at the other girl’s words. “Is it working?” No harm in poking a little fun. Jemma’s done it once or twice before. “Is he riling you up when I am involved?”

“Of course, it does,” Skye responded instantly. It was almost as if she never had any doubts to begin with. Her tone grew serious. “Ward is terrible. He’s slimy. He’s done shitty stuff. His brothers think he’s crazy. Just no. Stay away from him, Jemma, if the school is as big of a rumor mill as it was for your cousin, no doubt it would be for you. Better off sticking with me, no one would ever step on your feet without apologizing.”

She had never heard her tutor so passionate. She’s heard her passionate about history and math and volleyball and a myriad of other things, in subtle doses of course, but never like this. Jemma felt her heart race because Skye sounded so protective. It made her feel safe.

“As vicious as you sound Skye, I will do my best to steer clear of Grant Ward then,” Jemma tried to respond as cavalier as possible. But she had to add, “It’s sweet that you’re so protective of me.”

This time, Jemma heard a stuff of a response from her tutor. It was a completely jumbled response before Skye settled on, “I’ve got you. Also, back to my real question, before you distracted me, would you like to come to lunch?”

“Lunch?” Jemma’s eyes widened.

“Yeah, Phil said I could invite someone, i.e. you, because the Stanford rep is apparently married to a professor in the biochemistry department, thought it’d be a good opportunity for you.”

“How did he know? How did you know??” Jemma asked flabbergasted that Skye knew she wanted to study Biochemistry.

“Uh..ha, you mentioned it once to Fitz on our way to class,” Skye answered casually. “I listen sometimes. I don’t say anything, but I listen.”

Jemma rolled over into her pillow and held the phone far away from her ear before squealing into it. Skye knows what I want to study. Stanford is secretly one of my top schools. Why is she so perfect??

“Uh Jemma?!”

Jemma picked up her head quickly and tried to catch her breath. “Yes,” she breathed out quickly. “Lunch would be lovely.” Her mum would be ecstatic. For a numerous amount of reasons of course. “As long as we get back before classes, I hear that Literature with Ms. Romanov always requires partners for discussion, I don’t want to get placed with someone I don’t know.”

“Pfft, don’t worry about it, you can be my partner.”

Jemma’s eyes widened. “Really?” Damn. She couldn’t contain her excitement fast enough.

“Mm hmm…we are partners,” Skye declared sleepily. “Considering that someone was complaining she wouldn’t be spending enough time with me.”

The science girl blushed furiously. “That’s not what I meant...exactly.”

Skye scoffed. “That is exactly what you meant. Besides, we have more than half of our classes together. We would be an unstoppable team. You can be the brains and I’ll be the brawns.”

“Why are you the brawns? I can hold my own quite well.”

“Excuse me, who carries you to bed?”

“That was one time!”

“Yeah, who can carry you in general?”

Jemma grumbled. She hated being stereotyped but Skye wasn’t incorrect. “Alright, my knight in shining armor, you can be the brawns,” she conceded. “And I suppose lunch will be perfect then.”

“Cool, I’ll let Phil know and did you want to let your mum know or?”

“I can let her know tomorrow morning, shouldn’t be a problem,” Jemma hastily said.

“Great, that’s aw---aaaaaw--aw--awesome.”

“Skye, that yawn was atrocious.” Jemma slightly pouted at the sound that came out of Skye’s mouth. Clearly, the volleyball player was exhausted. “Let’s go to sleep, I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“No.” There was a little whine that Jemma barely caught.

“I’m sorry, what was that sound?”

Skye whined a little more. It sounded childish and adorable. “I like the sound of your voice,” she said softly, still tired, but very innocently. “I wanna hear about England and Europe and all the fancy things you did over there.”

Jemma smiled as she pulled the comforter over her. “You’ve got to sleep,” she tried coaxing. She had never witnessed Skye sleepy before. Skye tired was grumpy. But Skye sleepy was honest it seemed like.

“I know, but I can fall asleep hearing you,” she whispered. “I haven’t heard your voice in forever, I miss it. I miss you. Your accent is adorable. And kind of hot when you get frustrated at me.”

“Skye…” Jemma definitely knew that Skye would definitely not say these things if she were fully conscious. “You’re delirious right now.”

“No…” the volleyball player protested weakly. “You are. Calling me pass my bedtime. Not snuggling with me. That’s a sin.”

Jemma couldn’t help but giggle. In these moments, she was sure there was something between them. Yet, she couldn’t trust it. She couldn’t even brave it if Skye really wanted her or if she was that flirtatious. “You sound absurd. Hang up the phone so you can get some sleep.”

“Tell me about your flight, that’s something you didn’t get to write about,” Skye said instead. She clearly was stubborn even in her sleepy state.

Jemma let out an exasperated sigh. You are insufferable. “Fine, fine.”

After a few sentences, Jemma could hear Skye’s breathing even out. The line went quiet as she prodded for Skye. Within minutes, Jemma whispered, “Goodnight, Skye,” and ended the call. She fell asleep to the sound of Skye’s breaths in her mind as she snuggled deeply into her comforter.

 

Chapter Text

It all starts when they come back to school. While Jemma hadn’t thought that she and Skye were particularly close friends, it appeared that everyone else just knew that they were.

Jemma is putting her books into her locker, mentally calming herself down because it’s her first day back. She has yet to see Skye and their schedule is already going to be packed together. For Skye’s sake, she wants to limit her excitement as to not be off putting.

Then she hears it.

The signature slam that Jemma’s learned Skye doesn’t really know her strength. Nor can she control it when she feels any emotion other than calm and apathy.

Jemma smiles because she wants to turn and greet Skye.

“Skye!” A gaggle of voices suddenly all chime at once. Jemma looks because the many voices attracts her attention.

It’s the volleyball team, lead by Bobbi who towers over everyone. They’re all welcoming Skye back and wrapping their arms around her. Jemma notes the new haircut that Skye has before her eyes catch Jemma’s. Someone jokes about they feel abandoned for Skye taking all AP courses this year before Skye retaliates with a playful shove.

Jemma blushes. She buries her face into her locker. At least they said hi.

“Hey, I’ll see you guys at practice, later today,” Skye says definitively as she peels herself away from the crowd.

“Aww,” the group boos.

“What about lunch?” someone chimes in.

“Come on, Skye has her girlfriend to attend to,” Bobbi innocently jokes causing another set of grumbles and boos.

“That’s not fair.”

“Who’s your girlfriend?”

“As if Skye could keep a girlfriend.”

“You’re just jealous,” Skye jokes in return.

Jemma blushes even further. She finishes taking out the books she needs and closes her locker to Skye standing there with a smile on her face.

“Hey,” Skye breathes out.

Jemma realizes how different Skye’s hair is and quirks her head. Gone were the long brown and black wavy locks. Her face is nicely framed by a short A-cut and the color is fresh in her hair that contrasts her nice summer tan.

Jemma feels breathless staring at Skye after a whole summer of not seeing one another. “Hey…,” she curses herself for the lame response. She quickly recovers with, “You’ve cut your hair.” She hopes that it doesn’t sound like she wants to touch it.

Skye raises her eyebrows and Jemma sees her hand halfway reaching. “You can touch it you know,” Skye says before Jemma can snatch her hand back.

Against her better judgment, Jemma gently touches the ends of her curls and feels the warmth from Skye’s cheek. “You look...good.”

“That’s it?” Skye asks as she moves in. Jemma’s hand brushes her cheek as Skye steps into her bubble. “You’ve got great hair? No apologies for calling me in the dead of night last night? No I miss you too?”

“Ew, stop being gross you lovebirds,” Bobbi remarks with a scrunch of her nose as she walks by.

Skye grumbles before shooting back, “I’ll do what I want,” completely unaware that Jemma’s face is completely red.

It takes a moment before Skye realizes that Jemma has gone quiet. “Are you alright?” she asks breaking Jemma’s concentration.

Jemma tries to hide her red face by walking along quickly to class. She shakes her head so that her hair gets a bit in her face to help, but she hears Skye walking after her.

The air feels different now that they’re sharing the same space. There aren't miles and hours that separate the two girls. There are no long anticipated letters to be shared. They’re back in each other’s spaces and it makes Jemma so nervous.

“So…” Skye begins awkwardly as she walks alongside Jemma.

“It’s good to see you,” Jemma blurts out, quickening her step. Her heart is pounding inside of her. Why am I so nervous? It’s just Skye.

“It’s good to see you, too,” Skye returns happily as she struggles to keep up.

Jemma doesn’t respond right away. She keeps her head down and keeps walking. She can’t stop it. Her heart is beating out of control. And she’s excited and happy to see Skye but the sensation in her chest is so overwhelming.

It isn’t until Jemma hears a low thunk against the lockers that she looks up and she’s walking directly into Skye’s arm. Startled, Jemma steps back a bit, her back against the lockers with Skye’s hand just at her head. Skye stands before Jemma with a smirk on her face, while Jemma stands there like a deer caught in headlights.

“Are you okay?” Skye asks with a smirk on her face.

Has she always smirked so much? Jemma don’t stare. At least shut your mouth!

Jemma swallows and nods quickly.

“Are you sure?” Skye prods as her other hand comes up to box Jemma into the lockers.

There are other students walking by glancing at the two but they keep going. Jemma can see them whispering to one another.

“Skye, you’re making a scene,” Jemma tries to reprimand with a roll of her eyes.

Skye shrugs. “Who cares?”

“I do.”

“And I care about you.” Skye says it so effortlessly and unconsciously that clearly she has no idea the effect it has on Jemma. Or maybe she does, but she’s terrible at showing it. “You’re a lot more skittish around me than usual. I’m just wondering if I did something to offend you.”

Jemma shakes her head. It’s just her stupid insides fluttering and buzzing because Skye is there. “You didn’t do anything wrong,” she says quickly. “It’s just--I wasn’t expecting--” How can she say this? She wasn’t expecting Skye to look so beautiful? She wasn’t expecting Skye to insinuate that they were more than friends? She wasn’t expecting to want Skye to feel like they’re more than friends? What?

“Hey,” Skye says softly, redirecting Jemma out of her head. “Is this about what the girls were saying?”

Jemma looks at her in confusion.

“About you being my girlfriend?” Skye looks worried now. “Because I can get them to stop.”

It’s painful for Jemma to know how much Skye is considerate and careful about her feelings. But it’s just so hard because Jemma wants so much more from Skye but she can’t right now. It’s senior year and they’re applying to colleges and looking forward to their futures. She’s so sure Skye has some sort of feelings for her too but they--she can’t do anything about it right now. Even if she maybe most likely wants Skye to be her girlfriend.

The internal conflict is too real.

--------

Jemma feels like the universe is closing in on her because just the night before she was happy to be spending more time with Skye this upcoming year what with sharing a bunch of classes together. However, it felt overwhelming to be so close to Skye and want to be close to her. She was fluttering with excitement and trepidation constantly because Skye would always be so cheerful and bright around her.

It’s gotten to a point that Jemma realized that teachers had taken notice that Jemma was Skye’s friend. So it made it easier to pair them up.

In AP Literature

Jemma doesn’t think about the repercussions of going to lunch with Skye because it was such a sweet gesture that she was invited because the scout’s wife was the head of the biochemistry department at Stanford. It was a great opportunity for both of them.

It’s only when they get back to class late--mind you, Jemma nearly has a heart attack but Skye is prepared with a note in hand--and everyone in AP Literature is staring at them with their eyebrows raised. Jemma then realizes it’s because Skye still has somewhat of a reputation of a bad girl. They don’t realize that Skye is just as smart as any of them are and that the reason they’re late is because of how amazing Skye is.

Skye takes it in stride. She smiles politely at Ms. Romanov, quietly explains the situation and takes a seat in the back row. Because they’re late, there aren’t too many options and Jemma is sitting in front of Skye.

“Miss Simmons, because you and Miss Coulson are late, you will be partners for the rest of the semester,” Miss Romanov comes by and gives them their syllabus and book for the semester. She ignores Skye already kicking her feet up on the desk and turns to Jemma. “If either of you cannot work with one another, make it known now.”

Jemma wants to argue, to say something.

“Do we have to read this?” Skye interrupts with an exasperated sigh.

The red haired teacher doesn’t seemed bothered by Skye’s antics as she turns to meet the young girl. “If you don’t like the class, please feel free to drop it at any time. Considering you chose this personally, I suppose you’ll have to suffer through Othello like everyone else.”

Skye looks like she wants to argue but the teacher raises an eyebrow and Skye just sinks further into her seat.

Ms. Romanov gives a look at Jemma. “Do try to keep her out of trouble.”

Jemma stares in disbelief. Was Skye her responsibility? Skye wasn’t her girlfriend. She didn’t have to keep her out of trouble. She forgets how much a troublemaker Skye can be because this is the first time they’re having more than one class together.

But also, when Skye taps her on the shoulder, she has a bright smile on her face that almost makes Jemma feel okay with being partnered with her. Then Skye says, “Othello really sucks but I’ve read this like twice, so it’ll be easy.”

In AP European History

“Aren’t you a sight for sore eyes, Skye?” Ms. Potts says casually as Skye walks into the room with a couple feet behind after having gone to her locker to grab a different notebook.

Skye stops suddenly at the address and stares in confusion. “What did I do now?” she asks dumbly as if she already got into trouble.

Ms. Potts laughs. “Oh, don’t worry you didn’t do anything. I’m just surprised you’re in my class, willingly. I never pegged you to be interested in history.”

Skye shrugs coolly as she makes her way to her desk. She doesn’t even respond to Ms. Potts because of how cool she is.

When Jemma walks in just seconds after Skye when Ms. Potts also chooses to address her, “Jemma, I suppose I have you to thank for this mongrel being in my class.”

Jemma stares at Ms. Potts in confusion because the look on her teacher’s face suggests something that Jemma is desperately trying to avoid thinking about. Or maybe she is overthinking it and Ms. Potts just thinks they’re really close friends.

Apparently, Bobbi is also in this class and she comes up behind Jemma to respond to the teacher. “Trust me, Ms. Potts, if anyone can get Skye to come to class everyday it’ll be Jemma.” She makes a beeline for the desk next to Skye’s and gives her a high five.

“I’m sure that’s not the case, Ms. Potts,” Jemma says with a blush on her face. She knows Skye is a big history buff. It’s something that she’s learned Skye has bonded with her foster father over.

Ms. Potts just smiles knowingly at the young pupil. “Regardless, I know you’re going to do fine in my class. With your help, I’m sure that Skye will probably do even better.”

What’s that supposed to mean? Oh my god, please stop insinuating things like we’re better together. Jemma, red faced and all, nods politely and makes her way to her seat. Of course, next to Skye’s desk because Skye even pulls off her backpack for Jemma to sit down.

Who knew there could be paired work in a history class? Apparently, peer editing is important this semester for them to pass their AP exams. While Bobbi is in the class, she’s already paired herself up with Lance Hunter, exchange student, leaving Skye with none other than--of course--Jemma. And really, she doesn’t mind. Jemma just really wants her heart to stop pounding inside of her because of how happily Skye stares at her.

In University Chemistry

And of course, Skye continues to surprise her because as well as she makes Jemma’s heart pound inside of her, she is a great partner. In all of their classes, even the ones that Jemma excels in the most. It’s like they’re on the same wavelength and they pay attention to the same details.

“Did you grab the burette--”

“Yes, did you grab the Erlenmey--”

“Of course.”

“How many?”

“Two, so we can clean it after our first run to prepare for our third.”

“Perfect. Did you also grab the--”

“Iron sulfate,” Skye confirms as she held up the sample. “Did you grab the permanganate? Because I’ve got the acid as well.”

Jemma smiles brightly at her lab partner. She held up the large bottle with the dark purple liquid.

“Well prepared,” Skye returns playfully as she slipped on her safety glasses, “that’s my girl.” She reaches for the second pair of safety glasses and opens them up for Jemma.

Just as Jemma is about to reach for them, Skye doesn’t let her take it. Instead her tutor brings them up to her eyes and places them on gently. Jemma tries desperately not to blush as Skye tucks her hair behind her ears.

It takes her a moment to realize that they’re in each other’s personal space again.

“Thank you,” Jemma mutters shyly as she bites down on her lip before looking for the gloves.

There’s a groan that breaks the spell and both girls turn to the disgusted sound. Fitz is standing across the lab bench at his own station with his head lolled back.

“What’s wrong, Leo?” Jemma asks instantly with concern. She feels Skye pluck the gloves out of her hands, not without grazing her fingertips though.

Fitz exhales dramatically as his head falls forward to glare at the two girls. “Could you guys be anymore gay?” he points out with exasperation. He looks deeply inconvenienced by their presence that it confuses Jemma.

“I’m sorry?” Jemma queries with a blush.

Meanwhile, Skye is preparing the weight of the iron sulfate. Her focus is on the scale but she throws back, “He’s just jealous of our amazing lab partnership.”

Jemma frowns.

Fitz rolls his eyes. “No, I am disgusted by your touchy feely couple-y-ness,” he retorts childishly with his hands flailing. He even shudders.

“There is no couple-y-ness,” Jemma insists with discomfort.

Skye grunts in agreement. “You’re one to talk, where’s your husband?”

Fitz gasps with one hand pressed against his chest. “Excuse me?!”

Skye looks satisfied at the sample and drops it in the Erlenmeyer flask. She holds her free hand out and Jemma grabs the acid for her to pour into the flask.

Skye was surprisingly a natural at chemistry lab. For someone who didn’t enjoy following directions, Skye did immensely well at lab procedures. She could even fix any of Jemma’s mistakes if they came up without any hesitation. She was also surprisingly detail oriented and attentive.

Jemma giggles at Fitz’s frozen expression. “Fitz a fly is going to lay eggs in your mouth,” she playfully pokes as she mounts the burette. She reaches for the permanganate when she realizes. “Oh, Skye is this--”

“No, you’re right,” Skye encourages, grabbing the solution for her. “You’ve gotta take a couple of millileters and rinse the burette and then let it run a bit.”

“Oh.” Jemma lets Skye pour some of the solution into the buret, one because she’s taller, and two because Skye gets into her personal space again and it feels like she’s being spooned.

There’s another disgusted scoff again.

Jemma glares at Fitz who tries to look innocent.

“Trip, come help your boyfriend and stop being useless!” Skye yells across the room where Trip’s attention is drawn from the professor. He just looks at her in disbelief before rolling his eyes. He holds up his hand in lieu of speaking before going back to his conversation with Professor Weaver.

Skye!” Both Fitz and Simmons scold simultaneously. There is a raging blush across Fitz’s face. Poor Scottish kid couldn’t bear to say anything and proceeds to frantically start measuring out the samples.

Jemma slaps her shoulder.

The taller girl recoils with a frown. “What?” she argues. “He’s jealous that I am here actually doing the lab with you while Trip is having god knows what conversation with Weaver.”

“That’s not the point!”

“How is it not?” Skye asks in confusion. She turns her back towards Fitz and leans in to whisper to Jemma. “Everyone in room 205 knows that Trip is like in love with Fitz. You and I know Fitz reciprocates, why do I get in trouble if I am just pushing the process along?”

Jemma purses her lips with a scowl on her face. “But you don’t have to be rude about it. Fitz doesn’t like to put his emotions on display like that. All of this could go terribly wrong between them.”

“Or terribly right.”

“We don’t know that, Skye,” Jemma argues. Her hushed whispers turn definitive. She doesn’t know where the tugging in her heart comes from as she argues for Fitz because it starts to feel like a completely different argument.

Skye narrows her eyes suddenly and stares at the shorter girl. “Are we still arguing about Trip and Fitz right now?” Her hand finds Jemma’s waist discreetly as she glances up to make sure that no one is looking.

Jemma tries her best not to lean into the touch but does so anyways. She even covers Skye’s hand with her own. All she does is sigh. “Yes, we are still talking about Fitz and Trip,” she answers with resignation. She doesn’t want to have this conversation.

Even though to everyone else it seems like they’re a couple already. They aren’t.

Skye quirks her head with slight confusion. She opens her mouth and closes it. Her brows furrow for a moment.

Jemma knows that look and peels Skye’s hands from her waist to lace their fingers together. “We’ve got to finish this lab.”

Maybe if they both ignore what’s going on between them, it’ll just be swept under the rug.

It’s hard to do that however. Especially, when people constantly whisper about them. Not all bad things, but very notable items that sometimes makes Jemma more embarrassed. After all, Skye can do so much better than her.

Chapter Text

Jemma tries desperately not to stare, not to care, and not to even bother listening to what goes on just a few lockers down on the other side of the hallway. She has no right to, considering that it meant nothing. That they were essentially nothing more than friends at this point in and time in their lives. And maybe, just maybe that they would be that forever.

On the off chance, maybe there would be some hope.

No, no, no, Jemma. This has nothing to do with you. You can’t get your heart tangled in this mess now.

As much as she coaches herself out of the warring thoughts between her head and her heart, it’s not like she’s doing anything at all. They’re just thoughts and feelings without action.

There’s a low whistle that catches Jemma’s attention.

Fitz comes from around her and leans back against the lockers, staring in the direction where Jemma is desperately trying not to stare.

“Hello, Fitz,” she tries to greet in her usual cheerful voice.

“Do you see that?” he asks, carrying a bit more sass in his voice than usual.

“What?” Jemma plays dumb as she decides on which books she’ll need for the morning.

Fitz scoffs in disbelief. “You are a terrible liar, Jemma, I know you’ve seen Skye this morning,” he says as he blatantly points down the hall.

Jemma blushes and slaps his hand down. “Don’t stare,” she says quickly as she turns to make sure that Skye doesn’t notice his attention on her.

When she does glance over, Skye is still standing there, cool and suave. She has one arm propped against the locker holding up her weight and the other tugging the backpack over one shoulder. Even one ankle is crossed behind the other. The body language for flirting is all there and it makes something twist in the pit of Jemma’s stomach. There is a blonde girl standing with her back pressed against the lockers, cheerfully talking about something that has Skye’s attention. Apparently, her undivided attention by the way Skye laughs and speaks to her like it’s like some kind of big secret between the two of them.

The blonde girl is just a little puppy with her golden smile and golden blonde, perfect looking hair.

“Why is your girlfriend flirting with another girl?” Fitz presses with an eyebrow raised, still staring at Skye and the girl.

“She isn’t my girlfriend,” Jemma bites back, unable to control her bubbling frustration. “She can talk to whomever she’d like. You know how she is.”

“Oh, half of the school knows how Skye is. However, the rumor is that someone has tamed Skye in the recent months.”

Jemma rolls her eyes. “Skye is not some sort of animal.”

Fitz sucks in his breath. “Well, by the way, she is speaking to that girl, there seems to be some primal attraction.”

“You are disgusting.”

“Am I wrong? Just look at that body language,” Fitz points again.

Jemma quickly grabs his hand and shoves it down. Her best friend is absolutely ridiculous because Skye is going to spot them staring at her.

“Can you not be so blatant about your staring?” Jemma hisses as she grabs her books and shoves them into her backpack.

There is a disapproving look on Fitz’s face but for her sake he stops pointing. There is clearly something he wants to say on the matter because his eyes are still staring.

“Why do you keep staring?”

Fitz purses his lips thoughtfully. “It’s just--has Skye always done that?”

“Done what?”

Instead of pointing he nods his head in that direction. It makes Jemma frustrated to no end because it’s still pretty obvious that he’s drawing attention to the volleyball player. Jemma glances over her shoulder regardless because the twisting in her stomach doesn’t go away. She hasn’t even said Hi to her friend yet.

“That thing where she has one arm against the wall because I’ve never seen it in real life,” Fitz points out, desperately trying to come up with a comparison. “I’ve honestly only seen it in anime and usually, the girl falls for it every time.”

Jemma feels the heat at her ears as she shuts her locker a little bit harder than she expects to. She glances at Skye to make sure that didn’t catch her attention.

It does.

Skye looks from the blonde girl and catches Jemma’s eyes.

The heat spreads across her body and face like wildfire.

The volleyball player smirks in her direction and nods, never dropping her bad girl facade.

Jemma squeaks and turns around quickly. She catches Fitz’s arm quickly. “We need to go to class,” she says quickly leading him in the opposite direction.

“Wait, she’s coming this way,” Fitz says, watching as Skye says something to the blonde girl before they give each other a high five.

Jemma furiously shakes her head. “Can’t wait, class is going to start soon, we’ve gotta go,” she hastily says as she makes a beeline for the corner.

Much to Fitz’s dismay about being manhandled by Jemma, he had to go with it because as weird as he is, Jemma might be just a tad weirder. She always gets fussy when it comes to Skye. He just figures that her crush is just too much for Jemma to function like a normal human being.

Jemma on the other hand has felt her heart pounding since she heard the low thump from down the lockers and across the hallway. The signature thump is something Skye definitely likes doing, whether to girls or boys, or especially to Jemma. Jemma knows exactly what Fitz is talking about because whenever Skye comes around her, the thump of the walls, lockers, or doors are followed by Jemma’s racing heartbeat without fail.

It’s not the thump necessarily that gets to her. It’s the proximity that it allows Skye to get in her personal bubble. Or at least, Jemma thought she had a personal bubble but Skye has a way of barreling right through it to make her heart beat wildly. The proximity also allows Jemma to smell Skye’s fruity body wash and minty toothpaste in the morning, to hear Skye’s calm and soothing breathes, and to feel Skye’s radiating body heat.

What’s probably the reason Jemma feels a green-eyed monster warring inside of her is that Fitz is right. The girls always fall for it and Skye leaves a trail of bodies in her wake.

And Jemma falls for it every time.

---- ------------

There is no hiding in high school. The school isn’t all that large considering it is a public facility, but even then, Jemma remembers a time when she didn’t even know of Skye’s existence.

Well she knew of Skye. Skye the player, the resident bad girl, the star volleyball player. There were so many names that could be associated with Skye in the first two years that Jemma moved into town to attend school. She, of course, never took too much stock in the rumors because they didn’t apply to her. Just because she and Skye were in the same school, didn’t mean that they’d ever meet.

However, they did. And those rumors weren’t all just rumors as Jemma’s discovered over the last year they’ve gotten to know each other. Skye was a player, but it wasn’t because she was intentionally seeking to break hearts or leave a name for herself. Skye was a free spirit with a devil may care attitude.

It is true she is a bad girl, but Jemma’s learned that up until last year, Skye was bouncing from one foster home to the next, never really knowing where she was going to end up. She was a fighter, but she learned how to take care of herself.

It is true she is a player, but Jemma’s learned that Skye carries her emotions a lot deeper than what she expresses to anyone. She puts on a flirtatious facade so that people forget that she’s Skye the Foster Kid and remembers that she’s Skye the Hot Girl. Jemma can see through her experiences, Skye flirts and crushes fleetingly because life is too short and not everyone sticks around. She makes the most of her time when she has it. It isn’t necessarily her fault that people fall harder than she does.

That’s the beauty that Jemma sees. Skye is much more than anyone can see on the surface and she’s been lucky to be able to get to know Skye the most.

Skye has also been able to get to know Jemma too.

Maybe that’s what makes it so frustrating for Jemma. She knows so much about Skye and Skye knows so much about her. They share something that no one understands because sometimes when they walk down the halls together, they still get quirked looks. As if everyone was questioning their friendship. What’s a smart girl like Jemma doing with a girl like Skye?

There’s nothing wrong with Skye, Jemma wants to say to everyone constantly. She doesn’t have to though because the way Skye looks at her so attentively and happily matters more than what anyone else thinks.

So that really shouldn’t give her a reason to hide from Skye. There is absolutely nothing wrong that Skye has ever done to Jemma. Except for one thing: stole her heart.

Jemma isn’t completely unaware to matters of the heart. Granted, she’s had to look up a few websites and talk to Peggy religiously about this, but Jemma knows what she feels. A massive, heart aching, stomach fluttering, crush on Skye Coulson. And Skye does nothing to abate these feelings because their growing time spent together makes Jemma feel more strongly and deeply for Skye.

All of these feelings that Jemma has can’t be acted on. They’ve both just turned in their college applications and now they’re spending the next 6 months waiting on the responses. That means in 6 months, they could very much decide on two completely different schools on two completely different sides of the country. So no, Jemma shouldn’t be starting anything with Skye.

Of course, she can’t avoid Skye. They share half of their day together. And after this morning, Jemma is sure Skye can pick up something is wrong. Meaning Skye will want to check on Jemma.

Thump

Jemma nearly jumps out of her seat at the sound as if she’s been conditioned. Well, she has been conditioned for it because the only person that does it is Skye.

Speak of the devil, Skye stands in front of her with her palm flat against her desk and a hand on the back of Jemma’s chair.

The space around her suddenly gets smaller because Skye’s boxed her in her chair. Jemma holds her copy of Frankenstein against her chest as she stares up at the volleyball player like a deer in headlights.

“Skye,” Jemma responds breathlessly as she stares. “Wh-wh-can I help you with something?”

Skye looks at her curiously. Or deviantly. There’s still a smile on her face whenever she sees Jemma but Jemma can never exactly pinpoint what she’s thinking. “Are you feeling okay?”

“Uh...yes? Why wouldn’t I be?” Jemma lies. She’s going to keep lying even if Skye catches on.

The other girl narrows her eyes. If she has already caught on, she doesn’t point it out. “You just--I..uh...I walk you to class,” she kind of says dumbly that Jemma almost feels bad for practically running away earlier that morning.

Ah, that morning. Jemma clenches her jaw and sits up in her chair. “You seemed preoccupied,” she says casually, trying to ignore the twist in her stomach. “Kara Danvers seemed preoccupied as well.”

Skye looks taken aback. “Uh, yeah...she’s new,” Skye says slowly as Jemma looks down to her book briefly. “I was just talking to her about school.”

This makes Jemma’s eyes narrow because that is not what it seemed like whatsoever. She tries very hard to be rational but the twisting in her stomach continues.

Skye is staring at her in confusion and Jemma finds her cheeks have warmed up. She’s so dumb. Jemma quickly suppresses the thought and nods in agreement, “Of course you were,” she drops her voice.

“Jemma, wha--” the question falls short because Ms. Romanov suddenly appears and drops a hand on Skye’s shoulder.

“I gave you this period to study, not flirt,” the redhead teacher warns playfully. She looks over at Jemma, who is red in the face once more. “And here I thought you’d keep her in line.”

Jemma sits up straight in her desk and holds her head up high. That’s it. “Skye can flirt with whomever she likes, it’s not my problem,” she snaps.

The room suddenly goes quiet and Skye and Ms. Romanov are especially staring at her with wide eyes. Skye looks massively concerned now while Ms. Romanov looks like she’s accidentally stumbled upon a situation she wished she hadn’t.

Thank god, the bell rings right then because that gives Jemma the opportunity to escape from the room without another word.

----------------

Oh my god. I can’t believe that just came out. Jemma internally screams to herself as she rushes down the hall towards Ms. Potts class. I’m such an idiot. I just embarrassed myself in front of the whole class. What did that even mean? It’s going to make it seem like I’m jealous.

Jemma takes a quick turn into the bathroom right before the classroom and tries to calm herself down. It’s nothing big. Skye won’t think it’s a big deal. Because we aren’t dating.

We aren’t girlfriends.

Which means she can flirt with whomever she likes.

She clenches her backpack straps more tightly as she paces in the bathroom. Even as she tries to keep convincing herself that she has nothing against Skye flirting with Kara Danvers. And no, she did not go out of her way to find out the girl’s name was Kara Danvers. She had just heard it during lunch when Skye was walking her into the cafeteria.

THUMP

Jemma jumps to the sound.

Skye is standing in the bathroom doorway with her arm stretched to prop the door wide open. Jemma’s eyes widen at the look on her face because Skye looks like the first time they talked with her dark brown eyes, thin unamused lips, and curious eyebrows.

The two girls that were washing their hands at the sinks squeak as well before looking between the two. Without a word, Skye looks at them and they scurry out of the bathroom quickly, ducking beneath her arm.

Once they’re gone, Skye moves towards Jemma, who unconsciously steps back against a stall door.

“Jemma, what was that?” Skye asks carefully as she approaches Jemma.

“What?” Jemma asks dumbly in return. “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

“About what just happened in Romanov’s class.”

Jemma doesn’t know what to do because her heart is pounding in her chest and she doesn’t have any textbooks to hug. Jemma shakes her head quickly. “Nope, that was nothing,” she answers quickly. A nervous laugh bubbles in her throat and she tries hard to contain it.

“Are you sure? Because you never talk back to Romanov like that,” Skye comments with concern laced in her voice. She’s still approaching and the distance is getting smaller and smaller.

“I-ma-mo-” Jemma stutters to find her words.

Thump.

It’s such a low sound that Jemma actually thinks it’s how loud her heart is beating in that moment.  Skye has one palm against the stall door while the other comes up. Jemma breathes quickly as her heart threatens to just jump out of her chest.

“What’re you doing?” Jemma squeaks out quickly as she presses against the stall door harder.

Skye looks calmly at her and presses the back of her hand to Jemma’s forehead. “Just want to make sure you’re okay,” she says carefully. “Sounded like you were getting sick.” Her voice is so low, almost wounded sounding.

Jemma looks up at Skye because the anticipation of the distance between the two had nearly given her a heart attack. However, now she feels completely calm. She can smell Skye’s cucumber melon body wash and feel her warm hand against her forehead. The slow and steady breathing rate Skye has transfers to Jemma and she finds herself shutting her eyes in the comfort.

This is exactly what she loves about being with Skye. The calmness in her chest, the warmth in her body, Skye makes her feel a myriad of emotions but times like this is when Jemma thinks she needs it. This is what she wants with Skye.

Jemma even forgets what she was so frustrated about earlier.

Suddenly the door opens and Jemma jumps away from Skye. Of course.

“Sorry! I didn’t---I should--” Kara freaking Danvers is standing in the doorway looking like a lost little puppy as she pushes up her glasses.

“Hey, Kara, it’s fine,” Skye says coolly as she shoves her hands into her pockets.

Jemma realizes what she was frustrated about earlier. She mumbles something about being late to class and rushes out of the bathroom, leaving the other two girls in there.

----------------

As much as Jemma would love to avoid Skye, it is extremely difficult because they share half of their classes together. While Jemma keeps trying to pull away from Skye to control her own emotions, Skye surprises her by being interested in how she is doing. It’s unnervingly uncharacteristic of Skye to be so caring and attentive to Jemma because that’s just not how everyone sees Skye.

Jemma hides in the stacks in the library because it’s study hall, which Skye also has. They usually study together and Jemma gets some extra help from Skye but she doesn’t really want to do that right now. Being around Skye would only distract her from actually focusing on herself.

She glances through the stacks to make sure that Skye isn’t around.

Thump.

Jemma gasps, for sure that she’d be caught. However, her eyes don’t meet Skye’s warm brown ones. Instead they meet cold brown ones. Even the air around her is different, it’s cool and soothing but there are shivers down her spine without contact.

“Hey, Jemma,” Grant greets coolly with his boyish grin. His hand grips the shelf next to her head while the other is at his backpack strap on his shoulder.

“Oh, hello, Grant, how are you today?” she asks politely, unsure of whether or not she should move. She presses against the shelf carefully as she hugs her backpack.

“I’m actually doing well, how about you?” The thing with Grant is that, he is one of the cool boys. As nice as he is to Jemma, he can also be very nasty to Fitz. It bothers her that she can never pinpoint his intentions.

She shakes her head with a sigh. “It’s just been pretty long? You’d think with college applications all done, it’d be more relaxing.”

Grant kindly laughs at that. “Yeah...I wish I could share the sympathy but it doesn’t look like it’s written in the stars for me.” His self deprecation gets to Jemma because it’s even written on his face. He’s not as smart as Jemma but he performs well enough.

“Aw, don’t say that, there’s still time to apply,” Jemma encourages nicely.

Grant shyly shrugs and smiles to himself. “It’s alright really. I am thinking of joining the army.”

“Oh really?”

“It’ll be a really good opportunity for me. I feel like school has lost its meaning to me recently. I don’t feel like I’m learning as much as I could be anymore.”

Jemma is surprised that Grant has put so much thought into about his future and feelings. “You’ll figure it out eventually. The army is a very noble decision to make.”

“Thanks for saying that,” he smiles brightly at her. He thinks for a moment. “But do you know what I am most worried about?” He sucks in a breath and runs his hand through his lusciously coiffed hair. “Do you think I’d look good with a buzz cut?”

Jemma actually laughs at this. “Maybe your hair should be the least of your worries.”

Grant rolls his eyes. “Because you haven’t felt it before.” He gently takes her hand in his and brings it to his black hair. “You need to feel it. It’s soft and gorgeous.”

Jemma feels a little awkward touching the boy’s hair but doesn’t want to offend him. And his hair does feel soft through her fingers. “Wow, that is extremely soft actually.”

“See?” he asks with excitement. “I am going to miss this hair.”

Jemma pulls back her hand, trying not to think how soft Skye’s hair has also felt in her hands. “I am sure it’ll grow back.”

“It took forever for me to look this good,” he goes on with playful pout.

“I’m sure you’d look handsome no matter what,” Jemma says confidently with an encouraging smile on her face.

“Thanks Jemma,” he says staring at her with gratitude. That looks quickly changes as the air shifts around them because Grant is actually staring at her. “You always say the nicest things.”

Suddenly, Jemma is acutely aware at how close he is because his forearm is now against the shelf and his body is inches from hers. He isn’t going to--

He moves in closer and Jemma feels the alarms ring through her body. His eyes dart to her lips before he inches closer. Jemma’s eyes widen as she hugs her backpack closer to her chest.

What do I do? What do I do? Her mind screams.

Just as she is about to move, a voice interrupts them, “Jemma.”

The two turn to the sound of the voice. Skye is standing down the aisle with a dark look on her face. It isn’t directed at Grant but Jemma notices he pulls back with a smirk on his face.

“Skye,” he greets coolly. The tone in his voice changes as if he’s entered a game. “What’re you doing here?”

“Study hall,” the volleyball player responds curtly. She looks at Jemma. “I need you to peer edit my DBQ response, if you aren’t busy.”

Jemma finds relief that Skye gets her out of the mess. “Ye-yes, of course,” she stutters her response as she moves out of Grant’s space. “It was lovely speaking to you, Grant.”

“Sure thing, Jemma,” he says nicely to her with a cute bow. “See you later, Skye.” He smirks at her as he walks the opposite direction.

Skye’s jaw tightens and she turns around out of the stacks to find a seat at one of the tables. She drops her bag on the table a little louder than expected, earning a shush from the librarian, but she doesn’t pay any attention as she grabs her notebook out of her backpack.

Jemma stares at Skye carefully as she slides into the seat next to her. “The DBQ?” she asks, noticing that Skye’s pulled out her World History notebook instead.

“I was just saying that to get rid of Ward,” Skye mutters as she takes out her textbook on top of it. Jemma lets out a small sound of realization. “Unless you wanted to keep talking to him.” She doesn’t look at Jemma as she says it. Her face is stoic as she stares at her textbook, but her knuckles are white around her pen.

“Are you okay?” Jemma asks carefully. She doesn’t want to talk to Ward or be anywhere near him. More importantly, she doesn’t understand why Skye is upset? She was fine earlier. To be honest, maybe Jemma might have been a little harsh earlier for just leaving her and Kara in the bathroom and ignoring her in class, but she had a reason to. At least, she thinks she does.

She doesn’t really know.

“Fine,” Skye breathes out. “We should probably get some studying done.”

And the weird thing is that Skye spends the rest of study hall actually studying.

----------------

It bothers Jemma that Skye isn’t even looking at her. Because she hasn’t done anything wrong. Granted, she could be actually talking to Skye about her feelings, but she isn’t ready to do that. She doesn’t know when she could be. While it’s comforting to have some space without Skye’s invested presence, Skye’s emotional absence is more discomforting than Jemma expects it to be.

Skye has walls. And it’s clear to see that somehow, her walls have been erected and fortified with steel to the point where she doesn’t even look at Jemma.

They’re lab partners and they talk about the lab. And only the lab.

Skye doesn’t flirt, doesn’t banter, doesn’t even speak much.

“Skye are you busy this weekend?” Trip asks from across the bench as he hands something to Fitz.

Skye doesn’t even respond, too deeply focused on getting the work done.

Fitz even stops working to glance at Jemma before looking at Skye. “Skye, I hear that the diner is having a special on milkshakes,” he tests.

Skye is jotting down notes diligently into her observations section when Jemma puts a hand on her shoulder. She flinches as she stands up. “What?” she sighs out.

“Are you okay?” Jemma feels like a broken record as she asks. “Trip and Fitz were talking to you.”

Skye purses her lips, debating on the answer. “I’m fine, just--let me finish this lab,” she definitively says as she steps back from Jemma to go back to her wells and drop more acids into the metals.

Except Jemma knows one thing for sure, Skye is not okay.

Skye flies out of University Chemistry so quickly that Jemma swears she sees a trail of flame behind the girl. Jemma tries to get out of the classroom to follow as soon as she can, maybe then she’d be able to catch the volleyball player before practice.

When Jemma gets to Skye’s locker, her heart drops because not only is Skye already there, packing her bag and grabbing her duffel, Kara is standing there.

Without a second thought, Jemma marches back to her locker. She’ll catch Skye later she guesses. So she goes to her locker, wishing this day would just redo itself because of what a mess it turned out to be. Jemma knows that tomorrow is going to be a different day but it doesn’t stop today from being one of the most emotionally confusing and taxing days.

In background, she still hears the slam of the locker from Skye as she grabs what she needs from her locker.

Hello,” a voice suddenly greets.

Jemma’s eyes widen as she sees golden brown peer around the locker. Kara stands before her, pushing her glasses up shyly with a blush on her cheeks. “Oh, hello,” Jemma greets politely before looking back into her locker. “Is there something you needed?”

Kara clears her throat. “Uh--I just wanted to say sorry.” Jemma quirks an eyebrow at her. This somehow alarms the poor blonde and she’s sputtering, “Jus-just that, you know earlier. In the bathroom, I didn’t know that Skye and you were---you know--” she looks around nervously before settling on, “together.”

Jemma barks out a laugh with a roll of her eyes. “We aren’t,” she denies, trying to hold back the bitterness in her voice.

“Oh...uh...rao, okay,” Kara says to herself as she tries to process Jemma’s response. “It’s just--I’m sorry it’s probably not my place, but I just don’t want to be in the middle of anything. Because I hear you two are...uh---you know what? I’m not---I’m just going to shut up.”

Jemma stares as the girl stutters and stumbles over her words like she’s from another planet. As she stares, she realizes that Kara looks actually sweet and they way she speaks also supports that fact. It makes Jemma feel a little guilty for being rude earlier.

The blonde is turning around to leave when Jemma stops her.

“I’m sorry too,” Jemma says in return. Kara turns around looking confused. “For being rude earlier, I mean. I shouldn’t have walked out like that.”

“Oh, it’s okay!” Kara chirps cheerfully. “Like I said, totally my fault for walking in.” She bites her lip quickly to stop from speaking. “I mean, I wasn’t interrupting anything--I think.” She furrows her brow wondering if she chose the right words. “You said you weren’t together--I’m sorry I’m not trying to be rude about whatever you and Skye are.”

Jemma sighs because she can see that Kara is trying to be respectful. It’s comforting that Kara is trying. Because how Kara is trying to figure it out is exactly what Jemma has been trying to do for months now.

“It’s alright,” Jemma interrupts Kara before she has a hernia. “Skye and I are...complicated.”

Kara nods sympathetically before saying, “I have a feeling that maybe things aren’t as complicated as they seem. Sometimes the easiest solution is the best solution to the problem.”

What does that mean? Just be with her? Jemma blurts out, “It’s much more--”

“Complicated,” Kara finishes easily. “I know, I understand, but Skye seems to only care about you out of everyone in this school. She has this cool, aloof aura, but when you’re not looking, I’ve seen her just stare after you. So even if you guys aren’t together, I can tell you really care about each other.”

Jemma blushes because the blonde is right about that. They do care about each other. Their friendship has been a long time coming and something more feels so close that it makes Jemma want to throw caution to the wind.

“Maybe it’s more important to just be together in a way that you feel most comfortable because only you two can really define that you know?” Kara suggests.

----------------

Jemma stews on Kara’s advice. Unsolicited but extremely eye opening advice. Maybe the only reason why it’s been so complicated is because Jemma has been making it complicated. She does indeed have a crush on Skye. Yes, she may want Skye to be her girlfriend. No, now isn’t the time. What she values more than that is Skye’s friendship.

And feeling like Skye is upset and pulling away from her, makes Jemma feel empty. Without Skye, she feels like she’s missing something.

If it was so easy for her to apologize to Kara for being so rude, why was it so difficult to express to her best friend that she was feeling slightly jealous that Kara had her attention? It wasn’t complicated. Jemma and Skye talk about almost everything.

Almost everything.

Even if Jemma can’t talk about how much she wants to be with Skye as a girlfriend, she can and probably should talk to Skye about how she may or may not have been jealous of Skye’s attention on Kara.

The sound of the ground crunching towards her catches her attention. The chirp of the car unlocking makes Jemma jump off the driver’s door. Skye is walking towards her wearing her spanks and tank top that Jemma gets distracted by her exposed skin more than anything.

“Skye,” she greets breathlessly, trying to shake her wandering thoughts. “How was practice?”

Skye doesn’t smile. She doesn’t look at Jemma. All she does is move towards her trunk and throws her bag into it.

Jemma tries again. “Are you tired? I figured it’s been a long day and practice seemed to run a little bit later.” She tries to remain cheerful but Skye ignores her and shuts the trunk of her car with a loud thump. Jemma trails after Skye as the girl moves to the driver’s door. She knows it isn’t easy to get through to Skye when she’s like this. “Skye--I was wondering--”

Skye stops right at her door and turns around quickly on Jemma.

Thump.

Jemma is back against the side of the car and Skye’s hand is pressed against the doorframe. There’s a small gasp that escapes her mouth because Skye’s body is practically pressed against hers. Jemma can see the pinkness in Skye’s cheeks and feel the warmth of her body  from the exertion.

Skye stares at her with an exhausted look on her face. “I’m going home, Jemma, I’m tired,” she says sharply. There’s a glazed look in her eyes as she tries to avert them from Jemma’s. She doesn’t say anything as she pulls back from Jemma and moves to open her car door.

Jemma can’t stand that feeling of being far away from Skye. Not emotionally. Not physically. It’s a strange bubbling emotion in the pit of her stomach that rises up to her throat and threatens to suffocate her.

I am trying.

I am trying.

I need to do something.

THUMP

Jemma feels her whole body shake. Her palms are already starting to sweat against the cool metal. Her heart pounds wildly in her chest. It’s a fact, her heart will most definitely beat out of her chest at this point. Due in part, she can feel Skye’s hot body against hers, hot breathe against her cheeks, and eyes seeking explanation in hers.

It’s a weird sensation to have Skye in this position because she’s the taller one. Her presence around Jemma has always been intimidating but it’s grown to be comfortable because she feels enveloped. Now, it’s flipped. Skye is trapped against her car by Jemma’s arms (and body), chest rising and falling slowly as if she’d breathe incorrectly and Jemma would crumble right on top of her.

There was no amount of planning that Jemma could have had past this.

She has Skye’s attention.

Now what?

Say something!

“Uh--” Smooth, Jemma, real smooth.

“Jemma,” Skye prompts. Her voice is husky and Jemma is completely distracted.

Because they’re so close, Jemma can’t hide the fact that she’s blushing. “Skye,” she coughs out nervously. “I-I’m sorry! I was being completely irrational earlier today and I pushed you away but honestly, feeling you pull away from me is harder than I thought it’d be so can you please stop being mad and we can talk?”

Skye sucks in her breath before letting out a laugh. Jemma’s heart is still racing inside of her. “You’re crazy you know that?” It’s a rhetorical question but Jemma doesn’t know what to make of it. Is it bad? “All day I was trying to figure out what was wrong with you and if you were okay, then I realized--” Jemma swallows thickly. “--that you were jealous of Kara.”

Jemma bites her bottom lip and nods. “Well...how did you figure?”

Skye clears her throat with an awkward cough and scratch of her nose. “Because I felt the same way.”

“What?” Jemma's jaw drops.

There's a small sigh. “It’s stupid but you know Ward gets on my nerves. So when I saw you in the library with him, I got mad.”

“But you know that I would never--”

“Of course!” Skye concurs immediately. “But it didn't stop me from feeling like for a split second, maybe that was why you were pulling away.” Skye looks down like a wounded puppy for a moment. She shrugs to herself.

“Skye?” Jemma redirects her attention, trying to meet those warm chocolate brown eyes. Skye looks to Jemma. “You're my--” Best friend? Girlfriend? What? “You're my Skye.” There's a small smile on the other girl’s face.

“You're my Jemma,” Skye throws back as if it's the most obvious thing in the world.

Without another word, Jemma wraps her arms around Skye’s shoulders and hugs Skye tightly with her face tucked just under her chin. She can smell the cucumber melon even through the sweat. When Skye reciprocates the hug, Jemma presses further into the girl. She can hear a low thump of Skye hitting her car again but she doesn't care.

“For the record, Ward never stood a chance against you,” Jemma admits quietly. Let Skye take it however she wants, they don't have to be girlfriends to know where they stand with one another.

There's a vibration from Skye's chest as she laughs. “No one stands a chance against you, Jemma Simmons.”