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To Have, To Hold

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You want to play with Neptune's hair so fucking badly, just will a hand over from where you sit next to Venus and run your fingers through her locks. You want to feel her, to hold her, to touch her – since you bit the New Apple, you've never stopped wanting that. But you hold out for now, remind yourself to be patient. Neptune's a fine driver, but she gets grumpy when she gets distracted. So you just place a hand over hers on the wheel, just a gentle touch. She sighs, but doesn't complain.

"Next exit's ours," Venus chirps up. Even hidden as they are now, her wings still see so impossibly much. Who needs GPS when you have an angelic girlfriend like her? The RV passes over a bump, and she squeezes your hands tight.

"I know," Neptune says, taking a momentary glance at her phone in its cheap holder on the dash. Unneeded, but you think keeping track of directions helps her feel in control. Stuff like that matters a lot to her.

You hum, running your thumb across Venus's palm, pulling another hand out of nonexistence to rest against her cheek – but you force it to pause, hover there, visible, before gently returning to its task. Neptune especially needs those sorts of forewarnings before you touch her, Venus tends to notice your hands quickly, but she's still just a little skittish. It's hard to be patient sometimes, but you love them both too much not to be. You love them so very much.

Love used to seem a pipe-dream to you, almost. Something you had for others, and no one had for you. But they love you. Venus smiles with her eyes when she looks at you, all soft and shy and bashful. She's like a twittering crush, yet she sees so much of you, through your skin and to the scars on your bones, she traces them with her eyes and she tells you that you're beautiful. Neptune is still so unlike you, your words can clash, collide in midair like clumsy trapeze artists; but when it comes to love, you speak the same language. She is kind for you, kind to you, and when she is angry it is like a cold flood radiating out in all directions, and you are the eye of the storm. She has said on more than one occasion that she would drown the world if it would make you happy, and you believe her.

Whenever you end up, you'll end up there together. There's an unspoken promise in every breath, in every look, in every touch. You would never break it. They would never...

You sigh.

"Hm?" Venus says, tilting her head. "Jupiter, something wrong?"

"No, not wrong." You force a smile. No hairband to snap; you don't need it, but you still remember the habit, like a record skipping in your brain.

"Jupiter," Neptune warns. "If you say 'I'm fine' I will come back there and dunk your head in the toilet."

"I'm not not-fine!" you protest, laughing. But the resistance fades in an instant. "I'm thinking about things. Uh, embarrassing stuff, I guess?"

"I like your embarrassing stuff," Venus says.

"Cause you're secretly a sadist, Vee," Neptune adds. "You love watching Jupes squirm."

Venus shrugs. "I just like watching her though? She's really cute, and lovely, and it's adorable when she's embarrassed."

"This coming from Queen Fluster?" Neptune chuckles. "But you're not wrong."

Your face feels warm, and you resist the urge to swat them both upside the head – you have a hand for that, but you wouldn't want to startle Neptune while she's driving. So you settle for giving them both a wicked stink eye. "For your information," you say, "I was thinking about how much I love you both, and how I want to spend the rest of my life with you."

"Gay," Neptune says, deadpan.

Venus snorts, but beams at you. "That's really sweet." She scoots closer to you. "Tell me more."

"Uh," you say. How eloquent Jupiter, great input. "I mean, I just it's just kinda funny. We're looking for somewhere to call home but I just feel like...I'm already home?"

"In the RV?" Venus asks, and winks, which is nice because sometimes it is very hard to know when the girl is teasing or serious.

"With you!" You can't help but laugh as you squeeze her hands tight, tempted to let go just to drag her out of her seatbelt into a hug, to once again be so close you can't tell where she ends and you begin. "Wherever we end up, so long as you're both there, it's home. Forever and always. Right?"

Venus nods, joy painted clear across her face. You don't need a thousand eyes to know she loves you. "Right."

"Almost sounds like you're proposing," Neptune quips.

And you have the perfect reply planned before your brain actually processes what she just said, and everything falls away. "Do you...I mean, would you–"

Neptune actually glares over her shoulder at you now. "Jupes I swear to god, do not propose to us like this. I refuse to embarrass myself by rear-ending some dipshit cause you made me cry with your sappy bullshit."

"I'm not asking for real real," you protest, "but like, would you even want to?"

"Sure," Neptune says. Like it's the simplest thing in the world, like she didn't need to think for more than a breath. "I'm in love with two pretty girls, what sorta dumbass would I be to not wanna marry them?"

"I think I like seeing your romantic side too, Neptune," Venus says. She doesn't turn her head, but when Neptune flips her off, she bursts into light giggles. "And I'd like that too. Maybe not a full wedding-wedding, but something small, intimate. A way to make those promises..." She thinks for a moment. "Is it sort of like, even if you know we're never going to abandon you, that you want to make it official? That it'll help you remember we love you?"

"Yes!" you gasp, and it feels like your heart is breaking in the most wonderful way. "That's exactly it, yeah. Fuck, Venus." You grin at her. "Like, I trust you, with all I've got. I don't feel afraid, around you. Not like I used to." A glance down at your hands, still held so tight. You're holding her, you can feel a phantom touch in a thousand places. Through her hair, and along her shoulders, down her back, across her cheek, on her leg. You try to bite it back, but Venus doesn't look uncomfortable in the slightest. Maybe, it's okay to touch her. "But my head's kinda messed up still. I'm still scared sometimes that you'll find someone better, that you'll replace me. So sometimes it's nice to get reminders." You smile, a little skewed. "Sorry."

"Don't ever apologize for that, Jupes." Neptune turns the wheel, and the RV gently lurches from one freeway towards another. "If shit like that bothered me, I'd never have fallen in love with you in the first place." She reaches up to turn the rearview mirror so she can glance between you and the road. "I'm not going to replace you. Not fucking ever, you're you and I love you – and Venus does too. I know we love you like you are, including the parts you're not proud of. And if I've gotta tell you that every day until the end of time to help you remember, then I'll just keep on saying it." She shrugs. "I love you. You're worth that."

You just smile. What else is there to say? And you let yourself be selfish for a moment, squirming a hand onto her cheek. Neptune turns her head and kisses your palm.

"Hm," Venus hums.

"Hm?" you ask.

"Oh, " she says, and laughs. "Just thinking." Another little hum, a little wiggle, a little radiance. Her light wanders when she's distracted, and it's so very beautiful every time. "If we got married, would we take each other's last names?"

"No," the word leaves your mouth and Neptune's simultaneously.

"Thought not," Venus says, chuckling. "Well, first names only. We're devils, we get to break rules like that." Another moment of thought. "I wonder what our wedding will look like. Neptune would probably wear a suit–"

"You know it babe."

"And Jupiter and me in dresses?" She looks almost giddy. "I know mine would be white, but maybe yours is red, Jupiter. I think Neptune would look amazing in a blue tux."

Your driver whistles. "Good taste, Vee."

"You said small wedding," you add, you can't help getting caught up in the excitement, "but would you want to invite anyone? Like, maybe we make more friends wherever we settle down. Should we invite them?"

"What about Group South?" Venus offers. "Or some of the other kids who bit the New Apple with us. I wouldn't mind sharing it with them."

"Boo, no, illegal." Neptune chuckles, and it's a little dark. Like the tide brewing in her throat. "Apple or not, still not gonna forgive those guys for how they treated you. Good for them and all that, but I'm leaving their names off the wedding invite."

"I forgive them, you know," Venus says. "We all got suckered into hating each other. It's not all their fault–"

"I know." She sighs. "But you deserve better, Vee. Better than hanging around people who hurt you."

Venus is quiet a moment. "You're not going to get rid of me that easy," she says, and Neptune flinches. "You're serious about wanting to marry me, right?"

"Yeah, course I am."

"Then you don't get to tell your future wife she deserves better than you," Venus says, firm. "She picked you, and you can't love her in one breath and leave her in the next."

Neptune lets out a breath for what feels like an eternity. "Fuck. Alright, Venus." She chuckles, and it might have sounded forced if it wasn't so honest. "You better save the rest of that lovey-dovey stuff for the reception, though. If you're pulling shit like that out right now, I'm expecting one hell of a vow."

Venus bursts out laughing. "Don't worry, I've got plenty."

"You're the only one who hasn't really agreed to a wedding, Neptune," you tease. "If you really wanna get married, you've gotta show it, right?"

You can see Neptune's mischievous grin reflected in the rearview. "I wonder if any of the local gas stations sell engagement rings," she muses out loud.

This time, you really do smack her upside the head, and the swerve is worth the laughter you three share for such a long time afterward.