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the water's warmer underneath (i know you find it hard to breathe)

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How I wish to envelop you with my wings…

Yasha’s fingers traced the words she’d scrawled down all those nights ago. Her brow furrowed as she tried to come up with something, anything, to continue the poem Jester had helped her start, but she just couldn’t figure out how to put her thoughts and feelings into actual words.

She looked to the flower mural on the wall, taking a deep breath through her nose and letting it relax her shoulders from where they had been taut with the tension of something just out of her reach.

Feelings were hard.

The trouble was, Beau made her feel so much that it made her head spin and her palms sweat and her words get stuck in her throat even more than usual. How in the world was she meant to be able to pull phrases of beauty from that swirling mess of emotions inside her and put them down on paper? Everything she thought of seemed like it would never be good enough; would never measure up to describing how she felt.

Yasha knew Beau would never laugh at her, but her confidence in the poem had waned in her inability to continue writing without Jester’s help, and she was wondering more and more if this endeavour was destined to fail. What if Beau didn’t like it? What if it ruined the moment? Gods, Yasha still needed to find a moment to talk to Beau and actually have this conversation.

There was a knock at her door.

Yasha jumped, grabbing her poem and just about resisting the panicked urge to hide it by stuffing it into her mouth. Instead, she tucked it into the waistband of her pants, underneath her shirt, and cleared her throat.

“Come in.”

The door burst open to reveal Jester standing there, bouncing excitedly on the balls of her feet. Yasha’s body relaxed slightly. She didn’t think she could’ve handled a visit from Beau tonight.

“Hey, Jester,” she said, shooting for a casual tone. Jester’s grin let her know she’d missed the mark.

“Yasha, okay, so, you know how we were talking about Beau and then she came in and your talk with her went great?” Jester strode into the room, mercifully shutting the door behind her and moving to perch on the end of Yasha’s bed.

Yasha winced slightly. “I don’t know if it went great. I… froze up again.”

“The glitter thing was smooth,” Jester said encouragingly. “Anyway, I just wanted to check in and see how you’re doing. If you know what you want to say to her. Whatever you need, Yasha, I am here.”

“Oh, that’s… wow,” Yasha said, pulse quickening at the prospect of concrete plans being made. “I actually—well, I’ve been trying to finish the poem we started, but I don’t know how.”

Jester hummed thoughtfully. “Poetry is hard. It’s okay if you’re getting stuck.”

“It’s just, I was feeling great about it to start with, when we were spitballing ideas,” Yasha sighed. “But the more I try, and the more I think about it, the more scared I get. I just don’t know how to make the words go.”

There was a pause as Jester seemed to gather her thoughts before speaking gently. “Well… how does she make you feel? Apart from nervous and sweaty.”

“She—” Yasha chuckled under her breath, closing her eyes for a moment. “She makes me feel all of the things. And I do not know how to make anything I write even come close to describing how I feel.”

“Yasha.” Jester’s voice was gentle. “Can I show you something?”

Yasha nodded wordlessly, and Jester pulled out her sketchbook, standing up and flipping through the pages as she approached. Once she’d seemingly found what she was looking for, she held the book out for Yasha to take.

On the page was a beautiful drawing of two marshmallows in a cup of cocoa. One of the marshmallows had wings, and the other had a staff floating in the cocoa next to it. The two of them were pressed close to each other, cartoonish faces showing eyes closed in contentment. It was ridiculous, but Yasha still felt herself smiling at the sweetness of the image, and of the gesture.

“Sometimes, words don’t feel like they’re enough,” Jester said. “That’s why I draw, anyway. Maybe you just need to find your version of drawing. Oh, oh, maybe you could write her a song on your harp!”

Yasha blanched. “Oh, well, um, that might be more scary than the poetry. Maybe one day.” She handed the book back to Jester. “Thank you for showing me that, Jester. It’s lovely.”

“However you decide to tell Beau, she’s gonna love it,” Jester promised brightly. “Trust me, Yasha, I know these things.”

“Yeah?”

“She’s gonna love it because it’s you.”

Warmth bloomed in Yasha’s chest, spreading outwards, bolstering her confidence once more. “Okay.”

“Plus,” Jester drew out the word, a mischievous glint in her eye. “Sometimes actions speak louder, if you know what I’m saying.”

“Yes,” Yasha croaked out, almost buckling at the thought of doing something about her feelings. “I know what you’re saying.”

 


 

Yasha wouldn’t say she’d been avoiding Beau, not really, but she hadn’t been seeking her out either. She was perfectly content to leave things as normal as possible for a little while; to watch from a distance as Beau discreetly caused as much chaos as she could on the ship. One time, after being gently chastised by Fjord, Beau had made eye contact with Yasha as she’d walked away and had given her a grin and a conspiratorial wink. Yasha’s breath had caught in her throat, and she’d been sure that she’d been blushing fiercely, but Beau hadn’t pressed her.

That seemed to be the status quo, and now that Jester had told her that Beau was waiting for her to make the first move, Yasha could almost see her doing it. Finding little ways to catch Yasha’s attention, making her heart stutter in her chest, but not doing anything to hurry her along. Not putting any pressure on her. Waiting with more patience than Yasha had ever known Beau could possess.

The air got colder with each passing day, and Yasha thought that they should surely have reached their destination by now. But with every day that went by, the longing inside her swelled more and more, to a point where it started to exceed her fear. She didn’t know if she’d ever truly feel ready to have the conversation with Beau, but they were heading further and further into the unknown, and she knew she couldn’t hold out forever. Caduceus’ words of advice rang in her ears.

With a still unfinished poem in her head, and her heartbeat thundering in her own ears, Yasha caught Beau after dinner in the tower Caleb had so lovingly and painstakingly designed for them all. She saw Jester give her a double thumbs-up over Beau’s shoulder, and she swallowed down a fresh wave of nerves.

“Hey, Yasha,” Beau said warmly, and her smile made Yasha’s stomach flutter. “Everything okay?”

“Y-Yeah,” Yasha breathed. She swallowed hard, voice soft. “Can I talk to you?”

“Always.”

Yasha closed her eyes and took a deep breath. “Well… I, uh—shit, I—”

She felt a gentle hand on her arm, just above her elbow, and froze. Beau’s voice was barely above a whisper when she spoke. “Hold on just a moment. I have a suspicion we’re being eavesdropped upon.”

Opening her eyes to meet Beau’s brilliant blue gaze, Yasha barely managed to register the subtle tilt of Beau’s head, indicating behind her. Yasha focused her senses, just barely hearing what sounded like Veth, almost certainly hiding out of sight, shushing someone. Her bet was on Jester.

“Maybe we should talk somewhere else, if that’s okay with you?” Beau said quietly. She smiled crookedly, but Yasha thought she could see a hint of nervousness behind it. “Your room or mine?”

“Mine,” Yasha said immediately. She didn’t think she could do this if she was in Beau’s… space. The thought of being surrounded by the familiarity of her room, by the flowers, brought her a little bit of comfort and reassurance. She figured she needed all the bolstering she could get.

 


 

Almost before she knew it, Yasha was pushing open the door to her quarters. She closed the door carefully behind her, taking a deep breath and trying to settle the butterflies in the pit of her stomach. As soon as she met Beau’s eyes, her mouth went dry. She could feel herself starting to sweat again.

Beau’s expression was encouraging, her eyes shining with what Yasha dared to believe was hope, and Yasha tried to hold onto that as she cleared her throat in an attempt to make her voice work once more.

“I—I, uh, okay.” She puffed out her cheeks. Her mind suddenly went blank, and all she could think of was the words she’d all but memorized after staring at them for so long. She awkwardly launched into her poem. “Oh, Beau, Beau, Beau… eyes so blue and h-hair so… shorn on the sides.”

Beau’s eyebrows rose in surprise, probably having no idea what the hell Yasha was doing, and Yasha shook her head with a groan.

“No, that’s—that’s not how I meant to do this, I… sorry, let me try again.”

Panic rose in her throat at the thought that she had already ruined this attempt at a confession, and she squeezed her eyes shut tight.

“Shit,” she muttered. “Shit, shit, shit.”

“Hey.” Beau’s reassuring voice interrupted whatever spiral Yasha could feel herself starting to descend into. “Yasha, can you look at me for a moment?”

Yasha forced her eyes open again, slowly raising her gaze to look at Beau’s face. She was caught a little off guard at the warmth she could see looking back at her. There was a hint of a blush visible on her cheeks, and her eyes roamed Yasha’s face almost like she was searching for something.

“I tried to write you a poem,” Yasha whispered. “But I didn’t manage to finish it.”

Beau blinked rapidly, a little smile tugging at the corners of her lips. “A poem?”

“I don’t think it’s a very good poem.”

“I think it’s a great poem.”

Beau sounded so sure of it that Yasha started to believe her, just a little bit; the initial confidence in her creation returning slightly. Still, maybe she needed to try something different. Something less prepared.

“You… make me so nervous, Beau,” she admitted. “Like, I feel warm and vulnerable and—and sweaty.” She shook her head slightly. “Forget I said sweaty, that’s not—never mind.”

Yasha exhaled slowly, drawing every bit of courage she could find.

“The truth is that I don’t know how to describe how you make me feel. I don’t know if I can find the words for it, because nothing I can come up with feels like it’s enough.” She kept her gaze fixed on Beau, watching for any hint that she was overstepping. “You’re amazing, Beau. You’re just so… you that it makes me…”

“Yasha…” Beau’s voice was quiet; encouraging; almost disbelieving.

“I have feelings for you,” Yasha said, the words rushing out of her, and it was like seeing her breath freeze in the cold as she watched them escape her. She felt a tiny bit lighter. “I didn’t expect to, and I didn’t feel ready for a long time, but I want to share it with you. I… I want to share everything with you. You deserve everything, Beau, and I want to show you that. All the time.”

She saw the movement of Beau’s throat as she swallowed roughly; saw the beginnings of tears gather in the corners of her eyes. Without thinking, she reached out for Beau’s hand, heart soaring at the way Beau immediately threaded their fingers together and held on tight. Still, Beau let her carry on.

“Only if that’s something you want, too,” Yasha murmured. She could feel her nerve about to slip away and dared to say one more thing. “And, if it’s okay with you, I would very much like to kiss you.”

Beau let out a ragged breath and took a step closer. “Please do,” she said hoarsely.

Feeling like she was aware of nothing and everything all at once, Yasha reached out to cup Beau’s cheek with a trembling hand, scarcely able to believe that Beau had given her permission. She paused before she leaned in, just in case, and Beau wrapped her free arm around her waist in a gentle prompt to close the distance. So she did.

Slowly, carefully, Yasha kissed her.

Thunder rumbled in her head, and Yasha didn’t think she’d ever known such peace than in the first press of Beau’s lips against hers. She let herself sink into it, like the warmest of water after a long day, and words seemed far less important now.

Now, there was only softness underneath her fingers, underneath her lips, surrounding her and conveying what she’d struggled with for so long. Beau kissed her back, meeting her with equal parts enthusiasm and carefulness, pulling her closer still. The kiss deepened and Yasha was lost, and found, and everything was them.

Eventually, they separated, but neither went far. Beau leaned up to rest their foreheads together and Yasha opened her eyes to see Beau’s still closed. Beau was the first to break the silence.

“Holy shit,” she breathed. “That was—you’re—fuck, now can’t find the words.”

“I think it’s catching,” Yasha murmured.

Beau opened her eyes, letting Yasha in, and Yasha saw it. She saw Beau’s feelings written all over her face; no barriers, no hiding. It took her breath away all over again.

“I want everything with you, too,” Beau said, squeezing her hand tight. “At whatever pace you’re comfortable with. Gods, Yasha, I just want you.”

Yasha felt like her heart might just burst. And she knew they’d talk more, in the near future, because it was important that they stumbled their way through to being on the same page, but right now all she was focused on was the way that Beau was tilting her chin up like she was offering another kiss, or searching for one, or maybe both, and now that the floodgates had been opened, Yasha didn’t think she’d be ever be able to resist. And she was happy about that.

She was happy, and until she found the words, that was more than enough.