Staring out of the cave mouth, her back to the fire, Beau’s tattoo glittered, drawing Yasha’s gaze, so much so that when she turned back it was obvious what she had been looking at.
“Nice view?” Beau couldn’t help but flirt.
Softly shaking her head, Yasha simply said, “It’s beautiful.”
“Want to look properly?”
Surprised, Yasha blinked, but now there was no smirk or playfulness about Beau’s expression, just an openness that was rare to see from the monk.
“Could I?” Her question was tentative, in response Beau stepped over, spun to sit in front of her, and removed the section of her robes covering parts of the design.
Yasha’s breath caught, the all-seeing eye, familiar to her from many a tarot reading, shone out at her. She found herself reaching out, only catching herself with millimetres to spare. It was as if Beau sensed her though, as she spoke unprompted, “Go ahead, it feels cool too.”
Fingers, calloused from wielding swords that could, and once did, cut Beau in half, softly traced lines from her hairline, down her spine, out along her shoulders and back up her neck. Beau couldn’t be sure if the tingles running throughout her body were due to some magical effect of the tattoo or another reason entirely. She decided to stop thinking about it.
“I never got a good look...”
Yasha’s voice was, as usual, soft and considered. Beau doubted anyone more than a few feet from them would have been able to hear her, even if they weren’t all asleep.
“He inspires me everyday. This felt like a good way to honour that. Is that ok? I know he was your best friend...”
“Its ok. It’s nice, to know he’s still with us, in some way.”
Beau trailed off as the repetitive tracing lulled her into a state close to sleep.
“What is it made of? The colour... I don’t know...”
“It’s jade. I can’t tell if it’s perfect or ironic that it fits my dad’s superstitions...” An eyebrow quirked as her eyes opened again to take in the treeline.
“Why did you pick it?”
“Huh? Oh right, we never explained, the dust you use decides the magical properties. It’s actually really cool! Kinda wanna do some research into why to be honest, especially if Jester actually gets good at them...” Curiosity sparked in her eyes as ideas started to jump and connect in her mind. Her fingers twitched as if itching to run along library shelves to find the books hiding the information she wanted.
“Okay.” Yasha’s voice pulled her back to the quiet moment. “So why jade? What does it do?” Her fingers never ceased in their movement.
“Right. Sorry. It makes you wiser. So you sort of read the world better and are less likely to be tricked or charmed, means I can work out where to punch people better too! Pretty cool huh?”
Only now did the fingertips halt, paused on her spine. Doing her best not to dislodge them, Beau turned her head to see deep thought and faint hope in Yasha’s eyes as they stared at the green beneath her fingers.
“So... You can’t be controlled by someone else?” Her voice had taken on an edge of desperation.
Beau’s own eyes widened as she realised what Yasha was asking. “Definitely makes it harder, yeah ...would ...would you want-“ Suddenly their eyes met and she could see the mismatched colours swimming with tears about to fall. “Oh, Yash.” Spinning quickly to fully face her, Beau threw her arms around Yasha’s neck, the barbarian sobbing into her shoulder. “I should’ve realised, I should’ve suggested this, I’m so sorry...” The barbarians arms clung back and they both shook with the force of her sobs.
Eventually they subsided and Beau pulled back a little, giving her some space. “We can talk to Jester in the morning maybe? Or Orly is by the ship. We can definitely do this Yasha!”
A watery smile matched her own and a moment passed before Beau realised she was very much in Yasha’s lap and the hands on her waist weren’t letting up their pressure to let her get away. She looked back up to crack a joke and try to relieve any awkwardness to find Yasha’s expression forlorn again.
“We don’t have any jade dust...”
Beau’s smile dropped too. “Shit.”
Trying to gather herself after the rollercoaster of emotions, Yasha took a breath, “It’s ok. We’ll get some when we get back.” She was nodding to herself as if trying to persuade herself that that was fine but something in Beau’s heart dropped at the sight.
“No. I- We can find some! Don’t give up yet! ...you saw that Vokodo fucker! Fuck-tonnes of jewels and shit! He’s definitely got some jade! We can still do this! Soon!”
The force of Beau’s whispered words, and probably her grip on Yasha’s shoulders, brought her eyes back to hers, hope rising again.
“Absolutely. What better way to celebrate TravellerCon?!”
Yasha’s smile grew back. “Okay. Okay. Yeah, great!”
“Awesome. ...we should probably go back to keeping watch then. Wouldn’t wanna die before then...”
With some reluctance, they pulled apart. When time came to wake the next watch and hit the bedrolls, they shared one last grin across camp before bedding down.
One crazy battle with whatever the fuck this Vokodo thing is later...
“Wooo! Time to celebrate! I’m the richest halfling in the world!” Veth’s enthusiasm was contagious as the Mighty Nein followed Vilya back down the mountain to head back to camp. Beau and Yasha hung at the back of the pack, more somber.
“I’m sorry Yasha. Shouldn’t have got your hopes up like that. I was so sure...” Beau’s hand was in her undercut, a clear sign that she was stressed.
“It’s okay. I know we’ll get it soon.” While her words were hopeful, Yasha’s tone was one of dejection and disappointment. Her eyes watched her boots scuff across the forest floor, barely looking far enough ahead to see the tar pools before she stepped in them.
Mind spinning, searching for a solution, Beau was determined not to let Yasha go any longer than she already had with the fear of once again being forced to act against her will. Approaching the village, Jester noticed their quietness.
“What’s wrong you two? Are you hurt?” Her hands started to glow with familiar healing magic but Beau shook her head quickly.
“Don’t worry Jes, we’re fine, today just didn’t go how we were hoping...”
“What do you mean?? We were awesome! We beat Vokodo's ass! And you both fought great!” Jester frowned as her happiness didn’t permeate her friends standing in front of her. “What were you hoping for?”
Beau looked up at Yasha but her eyes were still fixed on the ground and she didn’t make a move to respond. “...Yasha was hoping to get a jade tattoo...”
The idea seemed to spark wonder back into Jester’s expression, “So then you could be matching! Wow, that’s so sweet!” A look from Beau quietened her again.
“To help her avoid... not being herself again.” Beau tried to put tactfully.
“Oooh. That’s a great idea Yasha!”
The tall woman didn’t say anything, simply stepped past Jester to follow the procession into the village where it seemed another feast was being prepared. Jester watched her go but turned back to Beau looking worried. Beau’s expression was one of regret.
“I got her hopes up. And then there wasn’t enough jade in the treasure. That was dumb.” Shoulders slumped, she followed Yasha.
Jester stayed where she was, eyes starting to swim in tears of sympathy for her friends.
The feast was amazing, as it had been before, and the musicians really weren’t as bad as Vilya had made them out to be, before long half the village was up on their feet, dancing to songs they hadn’t been able to remember that morning.
Yasha sat on the edge, occasionally approached but turning away any company, staring at the meagre pile of green stones in her hands.
Beau had been trying to encourage the others to give her space without revealing too much but eventually stalked off to find a tree that looked like it deserved to get beat up. Unleashing her anger on unmoving wood did little to abate her frustration but she could at least pretend. Once she had worked up a sweat she took a break to lace her hands behind her head and stare up through the canopy as she got her breath back. Her fingers subconsciously followed the patterns Yasha’s had the night before when a thought occurred to her with such suddenness she nearly over balanced.
She blinked and suddenly Beau was crashing to her knees in front of her, something in her hands. Yasha took in the wide eyes and reddened face and carefully but quickly tucked away the jade in her hands.
“Wha- Beau? What is it?”
“I forgot I had this!” She lowered one hand and, there, hanging from the other, was the necklace Yasha remembered seeing pushed into Beau’s hands before they left the Lionett's house in Kamordah.
“I wasn’t wearing it like I used to wear the other one but then I was touching my tattoo and realised I used to have a necklace that sat on it but obviously I gave that to TJ but then I remembered my dad gave me this one instead and it should be enough!” Beau’s words were almost blended into one, such was the speed of her speech and the width of her smile. The smile faltered however as she felt Yasha softly fold the necklace back into her hand. “…Yash??”
“This is important to you. It was from your family... I cannot take it. Th- Thank you for the offer though.”
“No no. I-“ she took a breath to slow her words. “Yasha.” When the other woman met her eyes she continued, “Yes, this is from my family. Yes, it is important to me for reasons I’m not sure I can put words to. But, Yash, you are my family, just like the rest of our bunch of idiots. You are important to me. I know you still have nightmares about fighting against us, I know you are still struggling to forgive yourself for things that were not your fault and I know that this tattoo is some security against never having to feel like that again. So, honestly, I would be honoured if you would take this and put it to some use and I could know there’s a little part of me always keeping you a little bit safer and happier.”
All other sounds had long since faded away in Yasha’s mind, all she could see and hear was Beau. Slowly, one of her hands rose to take the weight of the necklace, allowing it to be dropped into her palm. She had no words, her mouth open but no response to match the gesture from the other woman. Instead, her fingers closed and her eyes rose to find blue. In the only way she could think to thank her, she pulled Beau in for a kiss.
Beau’s eyes were wide and her eyebrows raised, breath escaping her in surprise but no sooner had she registered what was happening, Yasha pulled away.
They stared at each other for seconds that felt like hours, neither wanting to break the connection. Suddenly the air was filled with a loud bang as one of the bottle rockets Beau had generously distributed went off a little close for comfort and shocked the monk into standing and turning to check for danger. Giving an admonishing glare to the kid she knew she had warned about pointing them at people, she turned back.
“I uh, I think- well, I’m gonna go get a drink” she gestured vaguely back to the tables and set off at pace, a flush evident on her face.
Yasha watched her go with a smile then looked back down to run her fingers over the stones and cord in her hand. “Thank you Beau” she whispered, too soft for anyone to hear.
Of course Jester had had design ideas, each more elaborate than the last; in one Yasha was pretty sure she ended up with the entire story of the Mighty Nein so far across her back and another was an intricate rendition of her sword emanating lightning, which she had to admit would probably look pretty cool. In the end though, she went for a simple sleeve of flowers, eight in total, each representing one of the most important people in her life. She made sure that Beau’s necklace was the last of the stones to be crushed and its dust gave the outline of her flower, on the inside of her bicep next to Zuala's.
In their next fight, her tattoo freshly healed, Yasha felt the familiar experience of a push at her mind, a push that would usually spread across her consciousness overriding her own control, and a wave of dread filled her. Then there was a new feeling, an internal strength and stubbornness that first refused the creature access and then pushed back, hard enough to repel the charm. Her eyes flew open, bright and wide, taking in the worried faces of her comrades who were themselves searching her face for signs that they should consider her an enemy again. Flicking between them, her eyes found Beau’s and a smile grew wide on her face. Mirroring her, Beau’s frown disappeared and her eyes filled with joy for Yasha, knowing how much the small victory meant to her.
They did not have any time to celebrate as Caleb called them all back to focus on their assailant but there seemed to be more vigour in how Beau and Yasha fought, side by side, lightning gloves flashing on one side, a sparking great-sword carving through the other, until one last stab pierced the monster’s heart and it fell to the ground. Leaving the sword in place, breathing heavily, Yasha looked to the monk across from her, a huge grin on her face. Beau leapt over the bloody mess between them and launched herself into a hug around Yasha’s shoulders who laughed and swung her in a circle fast enough for her feet to swing out. Finally stopping and allowing Beau to drop to her feet, she pulled away far enough to look down to her arm. Brown fingers joined her gaze to brush over the raised skin.
Her smile grew impossibly wider and she looked back to Beau. “It worked!”
The happiness and relief in her voice was impossible to miss and Beau found herself matching the emotions. “I’m so proud of you.” Her voice shocked her by cracking a little but she couldn’t find it in herself to be embarrassed. Instead, she brought both hands to the back of Yasha’s neck and half pulled her down, half pulled herself up, into a deep kiss, trying to express everything she didn’t know how to say. If Yasha’s enthusiasm in response was anything to go by, most of it got through.
They only broke apart when they ran out of air, panting harder than they had been when fighting, and then realised the heckling they were getting from their friends; Jester and Veth seemed especially in favour of a continuation while the boys laughed and half-heartedly tried to pull them both away.
“We’ll pick this up later?”
“I certainly hope so.”
One last chuckle and quick peck on the lips and they both turned to follow the path through the jungle they were traversing, hands finding each other and fingers interlocking.