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The More Things Change

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"I've been thinking," Yasha begins.

 

Stretched like a cat on Yasha's stomach, Beau yawns a mouthful of the amber tower light fading in as they rouse and hums drowsily. "Yeah? Whatcha thinking about?"

 

Yasha's fingers start a slow drift down her spine, and that's how Beau knows it's gonna be a doozy of a thought. "If I…changed."

 

Beau's always listening to Yasha, but now she's alert. She doesn't have to specify - the two of them only ever emphasize that word for one reason.

 

Beau lifts a dangling arm and lays it across Yasha's chest to rest her chin on it, smiling encouragingly at the uncertainty behind those stained glass eyes. "Mhmm?"

 

Her hair's a wreck, but Yasha manages to draw a finger through a strand stuck to her forehead and tuck it behind her ear. She's good at looking at messes and seeing what can be fixed and what's going to need help. "What you said, about how it's not always a bad feeling that tells you something's wrong, just the lack of a good one?" Her eyes travel now to the ceiling, looking worried. "The more I think about what it might be like to feel good, the worse I feel sometimes. Do you think maybe if I tried, it might…?"

 

Normally she'd let Yasha work up to her point in her own time, but there's a tremor under her sleepy voice that's already knifing at Beau. "Hey." She pats Yasha's ribs. "Are you seriously trying to ask my permission to be more you? Cuz like. I seem to recall that authenticity was part of the reason we gel so well."

 

Yasha makes a perplexed little sound of thought, and Beau nuzzles a little further against her to drop a kiss on her breast, settling in to wait. Her lips are dry and she needs a shower like wow, but the day will hold its damn horses until they're ready and so will Beau. She's great at being patient. The best. She will not wiggle her leg.

 

"Not permission," Yasha says after approximately six eternities have passed. "I just know…I would be different. Feel different. Maybe act different?"

 

Oooooh. This is a fear about losing Beau in some way. Ridiculous. Preposterous. But - the upshot of a fear centered on Beau? She's also the best person for blowing it wide open. "Okay first of all, you're Yasha no matter what, and Yasha's who I fell in love with." Yasha looks at her now, gives her that dumb little smile, like she's always surprised to hear Beau say the L word. It makes her ears flush every time but it's fine. Anything to budge that worry from her face.

 

"Sap," Yasha says fondly, just to make her go redder.

 

Which she does.

 

"You ain't seen nothin' yet. Now shush and let me work."

 

She wrinkles her nose when Yasha pokes it gently. "Yes ma'am."

 

"As I was saying. One, you're Yasha no matter what. B, which part of you figuring out how to become more you am I meant to take issue with, exactly?"

 

She waggles her eyebrows when Yasha hesitates, which makes her huff a little of the tension out before replying. "I just know that you like me exactly as I am-"

 

"I love you, but please continue."

 

"You love me exactly as I am, and guess I wanted to check in on that a little." The worry's still there, but her words have softened it enough that Beau can probably soothe the rest of it without compromising too much of her dignity - not that she really cares about that (or has any) when it comes to Yasha.

 

Dignity is overrated anyway, she's decided. At least it had better be.

 

"Consider me checked. I'll even check you if you want, just say the word." She grins when Yasha ducks at her head and gets one of her trademark amused huffs in response. For Yasha, that's basically a belly laugh, and it's so fucking satisfying when Beau's shithead tendencies help instead of hurt. One of the coolest things about Yasha: those tendencies that push other people away actually help her.

 

Beau traces an idle fingertip over the meat of the small breast to her left, imagines it bigger for a second and oh yeah, she's onboard any way Yasha wants to take this. "But seriously." She props herself up to look at Yasha. "Me being perfectly happy with my dick doesn't mean you're supposed to be." 

 

Yasha lifts a hand to stroke along the shell of Beau's ear. "It just seems...hard to justify. If it were important, shouldn't I have known that sooner?"

 

Beau's voice goes flat with the effort of keeping out the anger she holds on Yasha's behalf. "If we start in on all the ways your sense of self was fucked, we will be here for a long-ass time." Yasha pauses, then gives a slow nod of acquiescence as Beau lightly traces the vine of her tattoo down her shoulder. "I like seeing you learn it's okay to be happy," she continues. "I love helping you figure out what makes that happen. You know that's true and we're not doing shit today, so let's get dressed and go bug Caleb, okay?"

 

She can see the moment theory becomes opportunity for Yasha, and her eyes are actually fucking sparkling now cuz she can just do that for some reason. Side effect of being a literal angel, probably. "Do you think he would know?" she breathes. "I mean, about the…other direction, I guess."

 

Beau hums a little. "Caleb's a smart boy, and I'm real good at motivation. Besides, he literally offered way back when. After he Vethified…Veth." She sits up then, careful not to touch Yasha's dick any more than she has to as she straddles Yasha's hips. She does love it, but that's because she loves making Yasha feel good. Helping her feel at home in her body instead of like a squatter definitely counts as making Yasha feel good.

 

Yasha smiles up at her and slides her hands up along Beau's thighs to hold her waist, thumbs rubbing over her hipbones. A return smile pulls from Beau, and she doesn't do much to stop it. "What are you lookin' at, ma'am? We're burning daylight here."

 

Yasha traces a finger down the cut of Beau's abs and over her belly button, between her hips and along the length of Beau's unurgent hardness where it rests on Yasha's stomach. "You're just so pretty."

 

Lots of people have called Beau pretty, usually just before earning themselves a black eye. But it means something different when Yasha says it - there's not an…expectation behind it. Beau knows exactly what ideal she's being measured against, and it's just herself.

 

Which is ideal, because she really likes herself and fuck, she worked hard to get there.

 

Face flushed, she rocks forward to kiss Yasha soundly and moans when those large hands move to cup her bare ass. "You better stop," she murmurs into Yasha's mouth. "Big plans today all of a sudden, and I hear they're good ones."

 

"Mmmm." Yasha's fingers squeeze, mischief lighting up in her eyes. "I don't know, I like how this morning is going."

 

"Oh?"

 

Yasha's fingers are light on her cock, teasing. "I have it on very good authority that you're a fan too."

 

This woman is going to be the death of Beau. But this woman also has a long a storied track record of deprioritizing things that make her feel good, which means it's up to Beau to keep them on track here. Somehow.

 

"The highest authority," she agrees, and then she drops a chaste peck just under Yasha's eye and swings reluctantly up off of her and down to the floor. "But also it's about to get way better."

 

Yasha's eyebrows raise as she sits up on her elbows. "You think it'll be that great?"

 

Beau wriggles quickly into her undershorts and starts on her pants. "I think there's a really great chance it could be, and I wanna find out."

 

Yasha takes a moment to consider that, then kicks the covers the rest of the way off her legs and stands to stretch. Beau would normally take the opportunity for an appreciative eyeful, but she doesn't get the sense it would land quite the same today. She settles for picking up Yasha's clothes to hand them to her and scrunches her nose playfully when Yasha kisses her forehead in thanks.

 

"Do we at least have time for breakfast first?"

 

Beau doesn't look up from her sash as she ties it off. "Um. Duh. Everyone knows you don't fuck with gender on an empty stomach."

 

She's gratified by Yasha's quiet chuckle as she starts to work on her laces. "I'll be certain to keep that in mind."

 


 

Yasha's quiet throughout breakfast, but she eats a decent amount and lets herself be cajoled into conversation with Caduceus and Jester, so Beau doesn't worry too much. Still, she's more than expecting it when Yasha's steps falter just beyond the library entrance half an hour later, her hand reaching to rest lightly on Beau's forearm.

 

"Hey." Beau turns back and takes the hand in hers. "We don't have to, you know. I'm here to help, but you know what's best for you."

 

A crease appears between Yasha's brows as she watches the doorway. "Sometimes."

 

Beau squeezes her hand in response to the tightening of sympathy in her gut. "Is this about…like it was with the breastplate?" She knows that choice and opportunity are still hard for Yasha to conceptualize sometimes, especially when the choice is something intrinsic to her identity. Being told how to feel about everything up to and including her own body had left lasting marks, many of them invisible until touched directly. Beau's skin crawls at the thought of what that dead demon fuck might have said if Yasha had ever dared to imagine wanting something like this, if she'd have discovered this on her own just a bit sooner. The damage could have been irreparable.

 

But Yasha shakes her head gently, finally pulling her eyes from the library door to Beau. "Not anything about him specifically," she murmurs. "Just change, I think. I've been fine for so long, and I could still be fine." She glances down to their joined hands. "What if we go through all the trouble and it's just a different kind of…not wrong, but it still doesn't match?"

 

Beau's seen her talk herself out of enough good things to spot it when it's coming. "Nuh-uh." She pulls Yasha's fingers up to her mouth and waits for her eyes to settle back on hers. "This stuff's different for everybody, but you're not getting anywhere by talking yourself out of trying. And I know I said I'm a good motivator, because I am, but like. It's Caleb. He's our friend and he likes to help."

 

Yasha's face clears a little, and she gives Beau a soft smile. "It wasn't long ago that you had a hard time understanding that. I'm proud of you."

 

Beau never said she'd gotten any better at letting people help her, but she sets that aside and rubs the back of her neck as her face flushes. "Don't try to change the subject, babe, I'm way too focused on this."

 

"I'm not. I just needed to say it." The sight of Beau flustered never fails to rally Yasha's confidence, another one of those things that would piss Beau off coming from anyone else but which just pleases her and makes her feel passively competent. She's shit with words when it counts, but letting Yasha see how easily she gets under Beau's skin is often everything she needs to hear.

 

"So are you good? Still want to go in?"

 

Yasha takes a deep breath and sizes up the door. "Yeah. I want to."

 

The wood swings wide under her hand, and Beau lets herself be led across the threshold before squeezing her hand again. "Hey." She smiles when Yasha looks back. "I'm really proud of you too."

 

Affirmations between the two of them are funny things - received or given, they're usually for Beau's benefit. Receiving them apropos of nothing fills her with a renewed sense of value, and giving them is always a fresh reminder of how far she's come to be someone who chooses happiness and allows it in return.

 

But it certainly doesn't hurt Yasha to hear, and the smile she flashes Beau is bright and lacking in the uncertainty of a few moments ago as they make their way to the tables in the center.

 


 

Beau loves Caleb for the way he looks at Yasha when she finishes her request, equal parts soft, delighted, and professional. "Yasha, I can think of no greater use for magic than offering you this opportunity. You honor me by asking."

 

"Well." Yasha shrugs a little, face pinking. "You are the only one of us who could..."

 

She flaps a hand like the rest of the sentence is obvious, but Beau's not certain it is. "I am honored regardless," Caleb says finally.

 

Beau takes pity on him, but mostly she's stepping up because of the perplexed face Yasha's making. "She means you get it, dude. Not just that you're the only one who physically is able to make it happen."

 

"Ah." Caleb's eyebrows go up as Yasha nods fervently. "I would not presume to map my own experience directly to another's, but there are many aspects of this particular exploration I believe I understand very well."

 

Yasha's shoulders have relaxed, and she nods in slow acceptance. "Beau said that sometimes it is less of a…perhaps nothing feels truly wrong, but that is not the same as feeling right."

 

She had said that, hadn't she? Damn, maybe she's getting better at this helpful thing.

 

"That is true for a great number of people," Caleb agrees. "It was simpler for me. Bodies and gender expression are not intrinsically related, as I know you are aware, but for me it mattered just as much to express it to myself as it did to other people."

 

Beau finds herself nodding along. "S'a good way of putting it. I don't really feel the need to perform anything for anyone - including myself. Never have." Except perfectionism, but they're not talking about that right now. Ideally ever.

 

"That does make sense." Yasha's still holding Beau's hand under the table, and she rests her chin on the other thoughtfully. "I very much like the feeling I get when I…express, I suppose, I mean I like what the potion did for me as a child with the-" she gestures vaguely to her chest and face. "But my voice and my appearance…none of it is anything I think about other people noticing. It's just what I did for me because it was right. I guess I am worried that there isn't a better way to be me and it is a waste of magic to think changing a little more will do anything."

 

Caleb leans forward a little, elbows on the table. "I also took a potion at a young age. I would have been a boy with or without them, but they helped me feel like one." The corner of his mouth twitches a little. "A potion one time a year and a pair of socks in my underwear, and I was unstoppable."

 

"That's actually adorable," says Beau. "But only because you don't have to now, you know."

 

"Oh I agree," Caleb replies. "Also I had no idea what I was doing. But the moment I perfected the spell which allowed me to alter myself, the first time I cast it." He huffs a little, eyes fixed on the memory. "I got so excited that I immediately lost all concentration and had to wait to do it again the next day."

 

Beau grins at him, all teeth. "How long did you last the second time?"

 

He tilts his chin primly. "Three minutes."

 

She cracks up as Yasha looks between them, slightly bemused. Beau thinks she's probably not sure where the line is, and she hasn't yet figured out how to explain that there isn't one. Not between them, not about this. Still, Yasha wouldn't be Yasha if she weren't so endearingly earnest. "That must have been frustrating," she says eventually, and Beau feels her laughter die a little bit. Yasha's not terribly great at guessing other people's feelings, which means this tentative guess likely belongs to her - and that means she really has been grappling with this for a while. Beau's so good at reading people, Yasha best of all, and the idea that she's missed Yasha struggling with this feels bad.

 

"Oh it was," says Caleb, drawing Beau back to the present. "But I had no idea at the time. I was just so excited I could do it. It was hard to be upset. But my point in all of this, Yasha, is that there is nothing about this exploration that could ever be a waste. I have as many spells and as many one-hour time slots as you need."

 

Beau gains back some ground in her head and nudges Yasha's thigh with their joined hands. "You are also not a teenage boy, so your chances of holding on are pretty good."

 

Caleb doesn't even give her the satisfaction of turning pink. "That is also true." He turns his attention back to business. "The other reason for this ridiculous example is to illustrate that you are free to drop the spell at any point if it affects you in any negative way, and you can try it again if you wish."

 

Beau can see the gears turning in Yasha's head, the doubt and hesitation giving way to a hopeful curiosity. Even that's enough to make Beau's chest feel lighter, that inquisitive wonder she displays so freely for everything else in the world but that is so sparing when it comes to herself.

 

Hesitance lingers, but far beneath the excitement starting to brim. "Can we try it today?"

 

Now Caleb smiles, a full and affectionate grin that makes him look years younger and gives them both a glimpse of the man he deserved to become - and hopefully still can. "We can try it right now if you like."

 

Yasha looks around at the towering shelves of books and the tables, the papers, the fire. Home for Caleb, homey for Beau, but she knows nothing with a ceiling can really feel right for Yasha. "Could we…"

 

"Wherever you feel most comfortable," Caleb affirms. "We can leave the tower entirely if you would like."

 

"Um." Yasha's boots shuffle on the carpet. "That feels like a lot for getting ready to do a simple spell."

 

That's Beau's cue. "C'mon." She hops to her feet and tugs at Yasha's hand. "Let's get you under an open sky. We can make a morning of it. Gods know Caleb's pasty ass could use the sun."

 

"My pasty ass will still be wearing this coat," Caleb points out, but he's getting to his feet and clearly on board with Beau.

 

Yasha looks up and between them. "You're sure it's okay?"

 

"It'll be great. We'll pick a spot by the beach and go for a swim after if you want."

 

Yasha nods slowly. "Okay." She takes a deep breath and stands up, smiling nervously. "Um…lead the way."

 

Beau bumps her shoulder into Yasha's and starts moving. "I got you, babe."

 


 

It is a beautiful day in Nicodranas, and the nerves that had taken over Yasha as they approached the library have become barely concealed excitement growing more and more as they push through the underbrush towards a secluded area of the beach. She keeps smiling at odd intervals, distracted and hardly chiming in with the steady stream of babble Beau and Caleb are keeping up, but the pressure of her hand in Beau's stays firm all the way to the little clearing.

 

"I found this little area one night when we all split off for some time alone," says Caleb. "I thought it seemed appropriate. The beach is but a minute's walk that way."

 

He's pointing, but Beau can see Yasha looking around at their surroundings as she does the same. "What even was this?"

 

The light gray stones are vine-choked and dotted with spills of pink and white flowers, but they still gleam in the sun to almost look white. Brickwork of some kind, and old round sort of dais with large columns that go about ten feet up and once connected about three quarters of the way around the smooth, warm floor.

 

"I think it may have once been a simple spot to relax," says Caleb. "The benches are still usable, and it is possible that the growth blocking our view ahead was not here when this structure was new. I believe it once had a roof."

 

"It's beautiful," Yasha whispers. "It feels like a stage."

 

Caleb looks pleased. "If this will work for you, I am at your service when you are ready."

 

Yasha tips her head up to the clear blue sky and takes a long, slow inhale, closing her eyes on the exhale and seeming to settle. A light breeze plays with her hair and rustles the shadows of vines over her, and when her eyes open she's smiling as she lets go of Beau's hand and kisses her on the forehead.

 

Beau butts her temple gently against Yasha's shoulder and sits down on one of the benches. "I'll be right here, babe."

 

Yasha's eyes are so, so soft. "You always are."

 

Caleb steps up to join her in the center of the circle, sun in his hair flashing copper to Yasha's silver. How bright they are, Beau thinks, feeling awe run up against a pleasant anxiety as Caleb rests his hand on Yasha's upper arm.

 

"Are you ready?"

 

Yasha laughs a little. "I feel like I am in some kind of play."

 

Caleb smiles. "And you will do fantastically. Remember. It doesn't have to do or be anything special."

 

Beau sees Yasha swallow hard and leans forward. "Give her huge boobs," she calls. "Just fuckin' go nuts."

 

Caleb spares her a dry glance, but they both know it's meant to relax Yasha - and it does, because she's still snickering when Caleb's palm glows against her arm.

 

"Oh," says Yasha. Her laughter stops, but there are still traces of her smile in her wide eyes. "Oh."

 

It's hard to quantify at first what's changed. Her shirt definitely fills, but not overmuch. Most of Yasha's physique had been set in motion in her youth with the acquisition of what had sounded to Beau like a pretty standard potion similar to what she and Caleb had in the Empire - there isn't a lot, outwardly, left to change.

 

And yet she is unmistakably different. Yasha's holding her arm up and turning it slowly in the light, face still a frozen mask of surprise as she processes what she's seeing. Her fingers are longer, Beau thinks, but no less hers. She seems softer around the edges somehow, but in a way that does nothing to diminish the powerful muscles under her skin…it's the way she's holding herself, Beau decides. It's completely different. She isn't taller, but she looks it. It's like she's found a coat she's been missing for so long that she's forgotten to be sad about it. There's only the relief of finding it again.

 

Beau lifts slowly from the bench to step closer, less interested for the moment in what the changes might be and more on Yasha's expression. She reaches slowly and intertwines their fingers, slotting among Yasha's familiar calluses and relaxing at the way they reflexively curl around the back of Beau's hand. "How you feelin', Yash?"

 

Her eyes drag from her arm to focus on Beau, and they're shining. "Beau. I feel…like me." Her face breaks into an incredulous grin on the last word, a smile brighter than Beau's ever seen. "I feel like - like I fit. Look." She takes Beau's hand and presses it flat against her stomach, and wow - Beau knows every ridge and plane of Yasha's abs, and there's a…a softness there now, right in the middle. It's a kind of layer that doesn't so much hide her power as it provides a contrast for it that wasn't there before.

 

Beau lifts her other hand and runs them both up Yasha's waist to the base of her ribs, stopping before she embarrasses them both in front of Caleb but transfixed all the same by the glide of her. There's no compromise here of Yasha's strength, only a tantalizing slope on and around her muscles that matches the softness Beau's always known her to have.

 

"You feel like you," she says, and only then does she realize she's smiling back. "Okay, okay do a spin, I wanna see." Beau pulls her hands back to hover just over Yasha's hips as she begins to turn and freezes.

 

"That's new."

 

Beau raises an eyebrow. "Missing something?"

 

"Definitely." Yasha nods, eyes wide. "But also no? It's missing, but-" she lunges slowly to one side, and then the other. "Wow," she whispers. "It feels right." She wiggles a little. "Pants feel weird though."

 

"Oh yeah. Probably good you were subtracting," Beau muses. She looks over her shoulder. "Hey Caleb, when you first tried it, did you-"

 

"Yes, Beauregard." His fingers are resting on his forehead, but he's smiling. "I know what you are going to ask, and yes. I did forget to account for my pants."

 

Beau grins. "You squished your nuts."

 

"A few times, but you get the hang of it."

 

"Ha," says Beau. "Hang."

 

He shakes his head. "Novelty begets creativity. You would be hard pressed to find a dick joke I have not made."

 

She snickers. "Hard pressed like your nuts."

 

"That does not count. Yasha?" He ignores Beau's cackled "bullshit!" entirely.

 

"Yes?"

 

"If you're feeling comfortable, I will go and sit a little ways away and read. You two can take your time…really, Beauregard."

 

Beau does nothing to disguise the delight on her face. "That's super cool of you, man. Go like. All the way to the water though. Get in. Dunk yourself for me."

 

"I don't really care if he sees," Yasha confides. "If that was a concern."

 

Beau gives her a look.

 

"Ah." Yasha's face does something strange and she looks down. "I um…I think I just found out how it feels to like what you're implying."

 

"Beach," Beau commands Caleb, but when she turns he's already disappearing into the brush with a backwards wave.

 

"Um."

 

Beau looks back at Yasha to find her looking distinctly uncomfortable, which is the worst possible face she could be making right now. "Shit, sorry. Did you want him to stay in case - I can go get him." she points both thumbs towards the direction he'd gone.

 

Yasha shakes her head. "No, I'm fine. I just…this reaction is nice, but I just want to explore for now?"

 

Beau slides her hands down Yasha's biceps to lightly grasp her forearms. "I'm not actually planning to jump your bones ten minutes into your first cunt, babe. This isn't about me."

 

"Oh thank the gods," Yasha exhales. "I think I might have exploded."

 

"That's usually the goal, yep. But this is different." Beau weighs the pros and cons of elaborating and offers just a little. "I don't actually want to an audience while I'm trying to focus on you, is all. No distractions."

 

"Sap." Yasha's smile is shy, but fully back under the effect of the euphoria Beau imagines she's feeling. After a moment, it fades back into thoughtful uncertainty. "But later, though." Her finger points, presumably in the vague direction of the future in which they are in fact fucking, enthusiastically and at great length. "You'll still…want to?"

 

Beau takes her hands off Yasha's hips and cups her face, traces her thumb over her the line of her lip tattoo. "I will be delighted to break you in if and when you're ready, okay? Your terms, as slow as you want." She leans up and kisses Yasha softly. "I told you - I want you. And I think this is the most you you've ever been, yeah?"

 

Yasha nods hesitantly even as a smile twitches across her face again at the reminder. "Yeah. I really think so."

 

"Then this is the most I've ever wanted you."

 

Now she looks two seconds from crying, and Beau's opening her mouth to backtrack and apologize when she's suddenly crushed forward against Yasha's chest in the fiercest hug she's ever felt. It's the sort of hug Beau's dreamed of, and up until now she's assumed Yasha was holding back out of a misguided fear of snapping her in half.

 

But it occurs to her now, pressed flush against her girlfriend and feeling every new curve and give to the shape of her, that she's had it wrong the whole time - what's happening with Yasha's body in this moment is a bigger deal than either of them realized, and it's been permeating her life in a million subtle ways that are only coming clear as they dissolve into a joy Beau can feel as surely as the warmth of Yasha's skin. Beau's own vision goes blurry for a moment, and she nuzzles as much as she's able against the new softness under her cheek as she furiously blinks back tears.

 

When she speaks, her voice comes out more muffled than usual. "It's a little weird how perfectly he got these."

 

She can feel Yasha's harsh exhale of a laugh and the light pressure of the kiss she drops to Beau's head. "You are easy to please, to be fair."

 

"Oh absolutely, but my point stands."

 

Yasha squeezes her a little tighter - Beau does not squeak, thank you - and she's definitely red-eyed but still wearing that shy, delighted smile when she finally lets go and pulls back to lets her arms dangle off Beau's shoulders. "I'm going to strip now."

 

"Hell yeah you are."

 

Watching Yasha embrace happiness will never get old. Beau knows she is quick to assume that her needs are wants and her wants are shallow, frivolous things that would take time from matters of import. Yasha's made so much progress on allowing good things to happen to her, but seeking them out - accepting a single moment of self-indulgence - still registers as hedonism worthy of guilt and shame. How much of that comes from the sense of duty ingrained in her from a young age and how much of it might have to do with having her will fucked with is unclear on the best of days, but none of it matters in the slightest when she can't stop smiling like this - when she's looking down at her own bare body with all of this wonder, like she might finally have half a grasp on how much radiance she's always contained.

 

The way Yasha's looking at herself is familiar, and Beau's heart does something complicated when she realizes: it's the face she makes when she tells Beau she's proud of her, when she touches Beau's cheek and asks how she got so lucky. It's the face, Beau thinks, Yasha gets when she sees home.

 

It's a long minute of Yasha running her palms along her own skin before she looks up, again, dazed. "Beau," she whispers. "Look at me."

 

As if she could look anywhere else. Beau keeps falling into the joy behind those eyes, the stomach drop weightless feeling making her whole body feel somehow numb and electrified all at once. "Believe me, I'm way ahead of you."

 

Yasha's hands are warm on the either side of Beau's face, and the little huff of laughter she gives has an honest-to-gods giggle in it as she tilts Beau's head gently down. "The rest of me."

 

"Well," says Beau, eye-to-tit. "If you insist." She smiles when Yasha tweaks a strand of her hair and lifts a slow hand to cup the swell of her breast - and it is a swell now, a roundness to it that weighs heavy against Beau's fingers with that bright pink areola begging for a mouth on it. That part is definitely familiar. If she's not careful, she'll start drooling.

 

Beau looks up to find Yasha frozen, breathless as she watches Beau swipe a gentle thumb over her nipple. She tenses a little, but her arms around Beau's shoulders stay relaxed as Beau leans forward to press a chaste kiss to the meat of her breast. "Is this okay?"

 

"Yes." Yasha's voice is wrecked. "Please touch me."

 

There's a million jokes and suggestive statements Beau could make, but she sets them aside and centers herself. "You'll tell me if it's too much?"

 

Yasha nods. "Just…slow. Please."

 

"Of course." She's got no intention of rushing a single second of this. You couldn't pay her to hurry along any of Yasha's quiet hitch of breath that comes just in the anticipation of Beau's lips on her breast, and she'd give up a great many important things to stay right here and savor the shiver that runs through Yasha at the first touch of Beau's tongue to that pert little bud.

 

Beau keeps her eyes on Yasha as much as she can, paying careful attention to the arms wrapped around her shoulders as she seals her lips gently, reverently over Yasha's nipple and sucks it into her mouth.

 

"Shit." Yasha's voice comes out a hiss and Beau pauses to watch her crane her neck to the sky as her fingers slide into Beau's hair from beneath and tangle in it. Beau drifts her other hand along Yasha's hip and waits patiently because fuck, it doesn't get much easier to be still than when there's a tit in her mouth. Especially when it's Yasha's tit and especially when Yasha herself is reacting in a way Beau's familiar with, but not from her.

 

Yasha's eyes seem lit from the inside when they finally find Beau's again, her voice thin and a little higher in a way that is familiar, very much so. "I knew there was a connection there, but I had no idea what it felt like." Beau laves her tongue over her nipple in response and grins around it when Yasha's hand fists her hair with a slow inhale. "It's not even that it's doing a lot," Yasha manages. "It's just more."

 

Beau could spend all day just right here, but also it would be easier if they were sitting down - easier in a lot of ways. Actually…

 

She lets Yasha's breast slide from her lips with a faint wet noise and presses another kiss to it when Yasha's hand fists again, questioning this time. She looks a little confused when Beau presses on her hips until she nods to one of the white benches. "Sit down with me over there?"

 

To her surprise, Yasha hesitates and shakes her head. "I don't want to get too comfortable right now."

 

She doesn't look necessarily sad, but a little of the glow has faded from her cheek Beau reaches up to stroke. "Everything okay?"

 

Yasha turns back to her and leans into her touch. "It feels so good, Beau. I had no idea what I was missing. That this was even possible. I have gone for so long thinking I'm fine, and it's like…I still could be, but now I know."

 

"And you're scared of it." Yasha looks away, which is answer enough. "Yash, it's okay to be overwhelmed. Caleb lost his dick immediately after he found it and wasn't even mad about it. This stuff's a lot."

 

"Yeah." Yasha's hair stirs again in the breeze that picks up around them and soothes their sun-kissed skin, and she glances wistfully at the bench before returning to Beau. "I feel almost like I need to let it go, but I can't make sense of why. I only just got here."

 

Beau's no stranger to self-sabotage, fucking up a good thing before it can fuck her by going away, but she's careful to keep her own possible idiosyncrasies out of the way of help as much as possible. "Will it make you feel better to drop it for now? Level out a little, try again another time?"

 

Yasha looks pained. "I don't know what it means if I feel better without it. I mean I don't - this is the best I've ever felt, but-"

 

"Yash." Beau shakes her shoulder ever so slightly. "This is a lot. Setting it down early doesn't mean you don't want it, and Caleb already told you it's not a waste. That face you made when it kicked on - that's the face I want to see forever. Just you, comfortable. We'll take time and practice, yeah?" She bumps her nose gently against Yasha's chin, which always draws a small smile from her and doesn't let them down now. "Next time we'll spar, how's that sound?"

 

Yasha closes her eyes and bumps her forehead to Beau's. "I'd like that." She sighs, lips twisting ruefully. "You know, I feel like it's worth pointing out that being turned into a bird is never this complicated."

 

Ah, deflective humor. Beau can meet her there, no problem. "Hey, the day's young. That can still be arranged. I know a guy."


Yasha huffs and buries her face in the crook of Beau's neck, and for a long and comfortable moment, they just stand there, holding each other up and breathing. "I feel like a big baby," Yasha finally murmurs into Beau's skin. "It's what I want, I have it, and it's wonderful. And for some reason that means I have to put it down."

 

Beau runs her hands up and down Yasha's back and turns her head to press a kiss under her ear. "So let me take care of you. We go for a swim, reset a little, find some food. This will be here when you're ready to try again, and so will I."

 

Yasha holds her a little tighter but doesn't move. "This mess…it feels like maybe it's part of wanting things." She sounds thoughtful, so Beau just waits and keeps stroking up and down her spine. "I think I felt this way when I realized I was in love with you."

 

Now it makes more sense. Now Beau can follow where this is going. "And I think I know exactly what you mean." She presses a kiss to Yasha's shoulder and smiles. "Remember you gave me a letter and I didn't say anything for like a week?"

 

Yasha's return smile curls against her neck. "I remember it being longer. A couple of decades, give or take a year."

 

The wine, the bath, the absolute certainty that some foundation of Beau's sense of self had been shaken, a day to absorb it and a day to accept it. Three to figure out what she was going to do about it. Then it gets kind of fuzzy. "Yeah." Beau takes a deep breath. "Everything I wanted and thought I couldn't have, suddenly there and possible and way, way too much to take in all at once. I read that letter until I fell asleep like every night while I tried to figure out what the fuck was happening. But you know what?"

 

"Hmm?"

 

"Those days were also some of the best of my life. Nothing was going to start until I said something back but like…I woke up every day knowing what was possible, how you felt." The memory of it brings an echo of that feeling to her now, the quiet anticipation and the glow of potential. "It was like this safety limbo, where I could just hold onto the feeling and not have to worry about fucking up what wasn't a thing yet."

 

Yasha digs her nails in lightly at Beau's waist, voice dry. "I am glad one of us enjoyed it."

 

Whoops. "Right, yeah. Except for the part where it definitely already was a thing and I was keeping you up at night." She snickers. "Your hair turned white and everything."

 

Gods, the feeling of Yasha laughing into her skin has to be one of Beau's favorite things in the world. "I think that was unrelated, but by all means make it up to me."

 

"You know I will." The aforementioned hair slides between Beau's fingers with a coarseness that she loves. It's like Yasha's calluses and everything else rough or dark about her - it's all just contrast. "I had a point," she remembers suddenly. "Do you want to hear it? Results may vary, but it's yours if you want it."

 

Yasha's arms tighten around Beau's waist, breath gone silent in her ear. In other words, she's listening.

 

"We were a long time coming, babe, and we still took it slow. This? What you're doing today? Has been an even longer time coming for you. So maybe don't panic that your…happiness meter or whatever needs time to, um. Get bigger?" She winces to herself. What the fuck is a happiness meter? Who left her in charge of words in all this?

 

Yasha's body melts against hers suddenly, but before she can throw a foot out and catch them, Yasha exhales and stands up straight to look down at her. She looks a little wistful in the way Beau's used to, but she's smiling. "Thank you."

 

All the spit dries in Beau's mouth, a spontaneous and complete evacuation of moisture. "Did I actually say something helpful?"

 

A playful shrug. "I feel helped, but who can say?" Yasha bends to pick up her shirt, grinning at Beau's eye roll and laughing outright when she pushes her off balance to sprawl on the warm stone. The spell is already gone, but Beau has no idea when it left and does not care. The lightness that had faded under Yasha's anxiety is back, her shoulders still straighter and her smile still bigger in the wake of her few minutes as herself.

 

Words are complicated and Beau's already proven for the day why she can't be trusted with them, so instead of commenting on any of that she just leans up a little against Yasha's thigh to let her feel the half mast of her neatly concealed in her shorts. It's a little weird as affirmations go, maybe, but this one's definitely for Yasha and she definitely looks pleased to have it.

 

"Need help with that?"

 

"Nah. Just something something actions are louder than words. Harder to fuck up too."

 

"I don't know, you're pretty loud." Yasha finishes lacing her pants and picks her boots up, leaning forward to kiss Beau on the forehead. "What do you think the chances are we can get Caleb in the water too?"

 

Oh that's easy. "A hundred percent if you throw him in." Yasha laughs as they step off the dais and into the brush, and Beau bumps her shoulder. "No, really! I'll get the coat. You launch the wizard. Race you!"

 

If there was a time taking off at an immediate dead sprint would've surprised Yasha, it's not recent. Beau can hear her keeping pace and pours on speed, laughing as she breaks through the clearing and letting out a whoop as she leaps down to the warm sand.

 

She hopes Caleb heard, because it's the only warning he's getting.