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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.

 

Chapter Text

"This was a good idea." Yasha turns her head and smiles at Beau.

 

Beau, who's been sprawled on her side and running her fingertips along Yasha's bare arm while she looks up at herself, smiles back and drops a kiss to her faintly salty shoulder. "I have one now and again. It's easier, then?"

 

She'd hoped that by leaving everything on but her shirt, Yasha might skip some of the overwhelm that had caught her off guard earlier in the day. "It is." Yasha's eyes return to the mirror as though anchored there, the hand she'd rested on her stomach starting a trace again from her waistband to her navel as she does her best to take in the fact of herself like this. "It feels sort of muted? It's still so good, but…I don't feel so much like I'm looking at two versions of myself or that I'm arguing with what I see."

 

Beau leans back a little to get a look at them both atop the sheets, the same contrast they've always made, the same little crinkles along their eyes when they meet in the mirror and smile at each other. "Hey."

 

"Hi." Yasha reaches for Beau's cheek, finds it when Beau nudges up against her fingers. "I like watching you think."

 

It's an invitation, but Beau's not certain she's ready to take it. Nothing she's hiding, just a thought not yet fully formed. "I'm always thinking."

 

Yasha's thumb finds the hollow under her ear. "I'm always watching."

 

"Mmmm." Beau tilts her head to press a kiss to the heel of her hand. "As much it grieves me to say, I'm not the main attraction tonight."

 

Yasha turns away to lean up a little and kiss Beau softly, the hand on her cheek pulling her in with the gentlest of pressure. "I like the faces you're making," she confesses. "When you're looking at me."

 

That's new. Yasha's always accepted Beau's appreciation of her body as something Beau likes, almost as though trying to see herself through Beau's eyes. Yasha's proud of things about herself that are exemplified by her body - her strength, her scars, even her passion for Beau on a crasser level - but actively enjoying not only being watched but appraised…"Wow." Beau runs her fingers down over Yasha's clavicle to ghost over her nipple, almost hovering. "This really is changing the game for you, huh?"

 

"Yeah." There's a confidence in Yasha that Beau sees most clearly as it shrinks just a little. "Is that still alright?"

 

The urge to roll on top of Yasha and demonstrate how very "alright" Beau finds this is only tempered by the awareness that to do so might overstimulate her. So Beau swipes a gentle thumb over Yasha's slowly hardening nipple and doesn't look away from her face. "I am loving every second."

 

Yasha looks up at the mirror again and breaks into a soft, affectionate smile. "There you are," she murmurs. "Watching."

 

Heat prickles unexpectedly in Beau's cheeks; it's not that Yasha never compliments her or catches her by surprise, but there's an intent to her words - not quite a tease, just…she knew what reaction she'd get by putting the focus on Beau, and she doesn't look sorry in the slightest to have caused it. In fact she looks delighted, which makes Beau blush harder.

 

And yeah, maybe the kiss she gives Yasha is a little bit for hiding purposes, but she can multitask. Yasha meets her firmly and covers the hand resting idly on her breast with her own, encouraging. Beau does not need to be told twice.

 

Gods, she's so soft, and Beau tells her so between kisses that take their time getting hungrier. She's not sure when she'd ended up rolled half on Yasha, but her thigh moves gently between Beau's legs with a quiet groan.

 

"And you're hard," she notes.

 

Beau nips at her bottom lip and gives a gentle tweak to her nipple. "Now maybe you'll believe me when I say I like it."

 

Yasha's huff of laughter gets swallowed in their next kiss, but the hand she drifts down Beau's body to cup her through her undershorts means business. Kissing Yasha, fondling Yasha, and being stroked by Yasha are three separate tasks right now, and Beau's lips falter as she plants a knee between both of Yasha's and takes a deep breath.

 

"You've still got like forty minutes," she manages. "Don't risk it on my account."

 

She shivers as Yasha kisses at her throat, her hand pulling away just long enough to slide inside her waistband and tug her erection free. "I'm risking it," she whispers. "I want to know how it feels now to watch you come apart."

 

There's no hesitation in her words, only desire, and Beau feels herself twitch against Yasha's fingers with the wave of arousal and affection that washes through her. She hears Yasha's sharp inhale and realizes she's squeezed her breast a bit harder than she'd intended. "Sorry. Got excited. Fuck, you're hot."

 

Yasha's thumb brushes over the head of her cock as she smiles. "And you're almost too hard to think." Her hand leaves Beau entirely, and the shameful whine that almost drops from her turns into a full groan when Yasha rubs her damp thumb over her fingers right in front of her.

 

Yasha's pupils go visibly wider, blown nearly black when she looks back up to Beau. "You're leaking." There's wonder in her voice that Beau's got maybe a sliver left of her right mind to dislike the implication of. 

 

"Course I am. What part of-" She cuts off with a hiss and bucks helplessly into the hand that's returned to stroke her through her shorts from base to tip as Yasha shushes her.

 

"Come here," she says, and there's no part of Beau left to argue even if she wanted to.

 


 

The days that follow find a fairly quick routine. Veth comes by the tower in the morning with Yezza and Luc in tow for breakfast, everyone takes a moment to chat and discuss plans for the day, and then at some point Caleb lays a hand on Yasha's arm and waits for her nod.

 

And it's that simple. Yasha takes her up on sparring two days later, and Beau makes the rookie mistake of pulling her punches to allow Yasha time to adjust to fighting as opposed to yesterdays time spent just walking and relaxing. She gets in two or three taps before Yasha knocks her sprawling with exactly none of the same restraint and picks herself up grinning as Jester laughs and cups her hands around her mouth despite being ten feet from them.

 

"What was that, Beau?"

 

Yasha answers instead, lowering her stance and raising an eyebrow at Beau. "A warning."

 

Message received. Beau shakes her hands out and charges, landing two kicks and a solid punch that should have locked up Yasha's whole body but instead just makes her roar in pain and exhilaration as her fingers find purchase on Beau and make to slam her to the ground.

 

Beau twists quickly and narrowly avoids a vicious knee to the outside of her thigh as Jester cheers for the both of them, landing a punishing kick to her ribs before darting out of her gasp to dance on the balls of her feet.

 

Yasha doesn't make her wait; she's on Beau in a flash with a feint and a brutal blow that blocking does fuck all against; Beau's entire arm goes numb and it's nothing but reflex that carries her up and out of the way of the vicious sweep meant to take her legs out from under her.

 

It's harder to climb Yasha like a tree and get her in a headlock with one and a half arms, but she manages - for all Yasha gives a shit. She throws herself into what has to be the most aggressive front flip Beau's ever seen, except she doesn't see it so much as feel it sock the breath right out of her and leave her gasping like a squeaky toy as Yasha whips around to strike at her exposed ribs.

 

She halts a blow that would've probably cracked something an inch away from Beau's skin, panting hard and eyes still filmed in rage.

 

"Round one to Yasha!" Jester chirps.

 

Yep. Yeah. That's completely fair.

 

"I'm just getting started," Yasha growls, and the use of that voice strikes Beau as just slightly unfair because holy shit, the things rage does to her words might as well hit Beau like a blow between the eyes.

 

"Same," she gasps, scrambling to recover. "Let's fuckin' go."

 

Yasha hauls her to her feet and swipes some blood off her lip. Her hands come up, and Beau mirrors with a wink. Round two.

 

By the end of it, Jester's put together what she's seeing and is prancing around Yasha with a stream of excited observations as Beau lies flat on her back in the tower training room and tries to remember how lungs work.

 

"Yes, they are new." Yasha sounds amused and not nearly as out of breath as Beau would like her to be, and she lifts her head to find Jester looking seconds away from tearing off Yasha's shirt and just managing to show any restraint.

 

"Can I see?"

 

Right. It's Jester. Restraint only goes so far.

 

"Sure," says Yasha, and Beau makes the smallest of pained grunts as she watches her shuck off her shirt in one smooth move. It's not that she's in physical pain, though she is very much so, but that the sight of Yasha topless can really only be bested by the sight of Yasha topless, sweaty, and covered in blooming bruises. It is probably for the best that Beau doesn't feel very inclined to test her knee at the moment. She can wait.

 

Jester squeals with delight and immediately reaches before stopping herself. "They're so pretty, Yasha! Just like you!"

 

Beau can just see the side of her girlfriend's shy smile and shakes her head before lying flat again as Jester begs permission to measure them and gets it readily. None of this is any real secret, just something she knows Yasha would rather be asked than offer up herself. It's important to her, which means she'll hold it close until someone else asks to see - it's something Beau loves about her, that immediate willingness to share the good things she manages to cultivate for herself. She doesn't hold things close out of fear or selfishness, just to get a better look at all facets of whatever it is.

 

Beau would know.

 

Jester finally remembers the whole reason she'd attended their sparring match and gives Beau's bent knee a healing squeeze as she skips off to plot something nefarious and friendly with all of her new information. Beau doesn't have time to muse on possible schemes, though; Yasha leans into view with her hands on her knees, hair freed from the quick tie she'd put it in beforehand and framing the whole picture she makes with her bloody lip and bruises speckled across her skin like flowers.

 

Beau lifts a weak hand. "Sup, gorgeous."

 

Yasha flushes a little, gestures vaguely to her chest. "I dropped the spell when Jester was done."

 

"I saw. Again, 'sup gorgeous.'" She takes Yasha's offered hand and feels warmth shoot clear up to her elbow as she stands. A tender spot vanishes from her cheekbone, and she mock scowls as Yasha pulls her shirt back on. "You gotta leave some marks for me, you know. It's just polite."

 

Relief pours through her at the genuine smile she gets in return. "I'll be sure to keep that in mind later."

 

And just like that, relief is arousal. Beau bumps Yasha's shoulder with hers as they start walking to the door. "Feeling a vacation day drinking sesh?"

 

"Oooh." Yasha's eyes get big. "Can we go to that place with the colorful drinks that light up?"

 

"Lead the way, babe." Beau gestures grandly to the door and snickers when Yasha immediately musses her hair.

 


 

They're at the beach again for day three because if it ain't broke, don't fix it, and water breathing means a near-infinite amount of time to kiss and play tag with the beams of light punching through the water's surface. The ripples dance along their skin and turn Yasha into some ethereal, glowing creature half made of smiles with teeth and playful in a way that reminds Beau as nothing so much as the moorbounders they had once wrangled into something of a partnership. They weren't creatures meant to be owned and neither is Yasha - Beau doesn't often forget she's not entirely human, but it takes very little to remind her.

 

"Do you even realize?" she gasps between kisses. The breeze touches her skin with the warm fingers of an incoming sunburn, but Yasha's skin stays an obstinate, almost opalescent pale. The flush in her cheeks comes from Beau, she knows. "You're a magnet for light, Yasha. It's drawn to you, like…like I dunno, like it fell out of you a long time ago and it keeps finding you and trying to get back inside. You're incredible."

 

Yasha ducks her head to nip the underside of Beau's jaw and whispers, "I guess that explains it then."

 

It's a struggle to remember how to keep herself afloat. "Explains what?"

 

"You are light, and here we are."

 

For two long seconds, Beau grapples with the emotion threatening to overflow the inside of her - for two seconds, she gives Yasha the full benefit of the stunned, soft face she knows she's making. Then her brain scrambles back to life to start on damage control. "I do very much want to find my way inside of you, it's true."

 

She's earned herself a solid dunking with that, but it never comes. Beau un-braces to find Yasha watching her with eyes gone fathomlessly dark in that familiar way of hers - sharklike, she thinks. Appropriate for the ocean and absolutely a turn-on. But there's hesitance, too, and Beau peers up at her in concern. "What's on your mind?"

 

"Nothing much, just..." Yasha inhales through her nose. "I think I'm ready for this to be permanent, and I'm really looking forward to it, but also I thought - I wanted to ask if you'd be willing to…" she makes an unmistakable motion under the water that Beau would laugh at if she weren't preoccupied by the request being made of her.

 

"You want me to jerk off? I mean I'm always down, but I feel like there's a connection between those two things you just said and I am wholly missing it."

 

Yasha doesn't sunburn and her blushes can be hard to miss, but they're in full sun and there's no mistaking the slight deepening of the coloration to her cheeks as her eyes drop. "I was wondering if you would jerk me off, actually. Before we do the ritual, maybe tonight?"

 

Beau blinks. "Yeah of course, just…I don't think you've ever actually asked me to touch your dick. Not without a really good makeout first, at the very least. Is everything okay?"

 

Yasha nods and looks back up at her, brow slightly creased. "These last few days, I've felt like…not a better version of me, just the correct one. Even when the spell fades - just knowing what's possible has changed so much of how I think and see myself." She takes another breath, this time smiling a little. "I had no idea it would affect me this much. That anything could."

 

"You've been fucking radiant," Beau agrees readily. "I can't believe how much confidence it's brought you. It makes me wonder how you made it so long…" She trails off as the thought that had been trying to form in the back of her mind settles into a stark and terrible clarity: guilt. As soon as she recognizes it, Beau swallows it down before it can show on her face - before Yasha can see. That's not what they're talking about right now. It can wait.

 

Yasha's taken her drifting as an invitation to continue, for which Beau is extremely grateful and relieved. "It's hard to explain," she says softly, and as Beau focuses back on the conversation at hand, she can see the effort of communication reflected on her girlfriend's features. "I never hated the way I'm put together, and asking for one more round…it's like I can enjoy it for the first time knowing I'm not stuck like this. It's not second thoughts, or…"


"Hey." Beau reaches for Yasha's hands and waits for her to look back to her. "Nobody's thinking it is, least of all me. I'm so glad you're choosing to go forward with this thing that makes you so happy. You don't have to explain shit, but I get it. It's choice, right?" At Yasha's grateful nod, Beau squeezes her fingers and lifts an eyebrow. "And it's not like you have to convince me to put my hands on you. Like, ever."

 

She glances towards shore. In the shade of the trees lining the edge of the forest behind the beach, Caleb lies stretched out in the shade with a book open on his chest, fast asleep. "I don't actually care if he wakes up," she says, turning back, "but if this is a last hurrah sort of thing, I'd rather make it special. If you want."

 

Yasha's mouth works. "I wasn't specifically suggesting now, no, but what do you mean?"

 

"I mean if you want it to go quickly I can do that for you, but if you're really wanting this one opportunity to actually enjoy how things feel right now - maybe for the first time? - I would be glad to slow down and make a whole night of it."

 

She thinks maybe Yasha's stopped breathing for a moment, can almost see the possibilities clicking through behind her eyes. She's flushing a little in the way she always does when all of the attention is on her, but there's a strange new resolve in the set of her jaw when she focuses again on Beau. "I think I would like that."

 

Beau grins. "Oh you will. And when you're ready, I'll do the exact same thing to your new body."

 

She sees Yasha swallow hard. "Well," she stammers. "Not the exact same thing, since. There won't be, um."

 

Beau is so tempted to leave Yasha dangling and make her finish the sentence, but she looks so cute and excited by all of this that she can't find the heart for it and settles for wrapping her arms around Yasha's shoulders and her legs around her waist to kiss her soundly. Yasha keeps them both afloat with ease as she crushes Beau to her and returns the kiss with a smile that turns Beau's insides molten and reminds her again of the guilty feeling now waiting fully formed in the back of her thoughts like the shadow of everything good. Not yet.

 

"I'm absolutely certain we'll have just as much fun," she pants when they pull away. "Now let's go wake up Caleb and get this thing in motion."

 


 

The spell fades as they're sitting and talking in the shade; Yasha's words cut off suddenly with a pained expression that clears in the next moment as she gathers herself and finishes her thought. "So we were wondering how soon you might be prepared to do it."

 

Caleb's eyes rove over her in concern. "I have made all arrangements already, but doing so required the energy I would need to cast it today. Are you alright?"

 

Yasha shivers in the Nicodranas heat, looking paler than usual in the green-hued shade. "It left without me telling it to. I think that matters."

 

Beau has no trouble understanding the difference Yasha's talking about and rests her hand on her knee as Caleb nods in comprehension. "It is a good sign disguised as something deeply unpleasant. May I?"

 

He lifts his hand and leans forward, but Yasha shakes her head. "I would like the next time to be the final time if that's alright."

 

"Of course." He settles back into the sand, and Frumpkin rouses irritably from his doze on Caleb's lap to pick his way across the few feet of distance to curl up in Yasha's instead. Beau glances at Caleb's face, but he looks fondly exasperated, not concentrating in the way he gets when he's telling Frumpkin to do something.

 

And Yasha looks pleased regardless, tension leaving her shoulders as she strokes a gentle finger along the soft ginger fur with a small smile that gladdens Beau to see.

 

She spends a long moment just watching Yasha with a little smile of her own, and when the distant guilt comes to call she turns to Caleb for help distracting herself. "What'd you mean before? A good sign looking like a bad one or whatever."

 

Yasha looks up at him too, listening as she seems to notice Beau's hand on her knee and covers it with her own.

 

"It is a sure sign that you are settled and comfortable with the change," he explains, "but it is never pleasant to find yourself disoriented in a body that should feel familiar. Especially when you have spent your life unaware there was anything amiss, as you have."

 

"Yeah I was actually kind of wondering," says Beau, glad for the reminder of this other, safer thought. "Spent a lot of nights staring at the ceiling post-jerkoff trying to figure out if I actually wished I didn't have a dick or if I just felt like I was supposed to want that. I'm pretty solid on the end conclusion, but all this has me wondering now, like. Would it have been a different answer if there'd been a more immediate option, you know?"

 

Yasha's looking at her with a kind of compassion that she might be inclined to construe as pity on a less charitable day but which from her girlfriend only ever translates to care. It couldn't be anything else, not from her.

 

"Would you like to try it now?" Caleb asks. There's no hint of a tease, not even commiseration. He's asking as plainly as whether she might like him to pass the butter, and Beau finds she's grateful. It certainly feels like a casual question, but she knows better and she's not sure she could handle anything other than nonchalance in return. Caleb gets her like that.

 

"Yeah, sure." She pushes herself to her feet and touches his outstretched fingers, and he looks up at her before finishing the last word of the spell. 

 

"Drop it if you need."

 

She's going to respond with something obnoxious, but then something pulls from the inside of her and neatly cuts off her ability to pay attention to anything else.

 

"Oh geez." Beau knows her face is doing something strange, but it's a little dwarfed by the level of strange going on everywhere else. She's been a mammoth, which was kind of weird as full-body transformations go, and she's been a dude tiefling - weird dick, kinda fun - but this just feels…wrong, she thinks. It feels wrong.

 

She pulls her shirt open and looks down, appreciative if nothing else of the fact that Caleb knows her well enough to do little more than firm up what she's already grown as a result of her potion, and then she lets go and takes an uncertain step. There's a void where a void shouldn't be, and Beau's all for being Beau no matter what form she's in - she's not one of those people, the ones that store their personality in their dick - but the very concept of thinking about this body becoming something intrinsic to what a Beau is, part of that definition even in theory, is at odds with everything in her.

 

"Nope. Nope nope nope. Put it back." She's not exactly talking to Caleb, but the sensation of discomfort is such that the natural ability to actively will the spell to drop feels slippery and buried under it. It goes away regardless, and Beau exhales in relief as she lets her shoulders drop. "Asked and answered, I guess. Thanks anyway."

 

Yasha's fingers bump hers, and the smile she's giving Beau is soft and brimming with something like pride.

 

"What?" Beau folds her legs to sit next to her, keeping their hands intertwined and settling comfortably against Yasha's shoulder.

 

"You inspire me, that's all."

 

"I -" Beau glances at Caleb and decides she doesn't actually mind if he's here. "What part of me trying on a cunt and flipping out about it is inspiring?"

 

Yasha shrugs easily. "You are always so certain of the truest version of yourself. And we are here right now, talking about this ritual, because you helped me find the truest version of me, too." Beau stares hard at their intertwined fingers, her heart feeling a million miles away suddenly. "I could have been content with my body," Yasha continues. "I've gotten this far on what's…good enough. But you don't let anything stay there if there's a chance it can be better."

 

Beau shrugs, embarrassed. "Feels like letting someone down if I don't."

 

And there it is. She's so close to the edge of what's bothering her that if she doesn't put it back now, there's no way Yasha won't see it in her face.

 

But she's forgotten about Caleb, who definitely sees it on her face and who is definitely not hiding his scrutiny. Yasha looks from Caleb's frown to Beau's face, and she's not fast enough to erase all the traces of the guilt - not when Yasha knows she's looking for something amiss. "What is it, Beau?"

 

She can tell them she doesn't want to talk, she knows. Caleb probably won't even rib her for it - he's pretty good at knowing where the line is these days - and Yasha never presses for anything Beau doesn't give freely. She just offers, and on another day Beau might decline and deflect with any one of her arsenal of things that can serve the dual purpose of getting her off the hook and making Yasha feel loved.

 

But.

 

She's got plans tonight, and the ritual is probably tomorrow, and the risk that this could come back and haunt her in either scenario is too great. Those are for Yasha - best to come clean now.

 

Beau sighs and stares at the soft sand in front of her. "I meant what I said. Feels like letting someone down to leave them like…unfinished if I can help." She glances sideways at Yasha, but she can't make herself meet her eyes. Shame, a little, but moreso the unwillingness to accidentally communicate that any of this should lay on her shoulders. "Leaving them, or just fucking missing the fact that there's something that needs fixing."

 

Yasha's hand tightens on hers as she'd known it would. "Are you talking about me? Beau, even I didn't know what was possible."

 

"But I did." Beau looks at her now, something nasty oozing from inside of her and into the light, where it can be summarily dissected and destroyed. That's healthy, she reminds herself. This is communicating. She worked for the ability to do this. "I knew what was possible," she continues, "and I just…I'm the one who puts things together, Yash. I thought you were as happy as you could be for now, and I let you keep dealing with this for longer than you needed to. I should have seen it sooner."

 

Now Caleb speaks up again, gently. "When?"

 

Beau blinks at him. "What do you mean, 'when?' Sometime before six months into our relationship, for starters."

 

"In Aeor, when we were running for our lives and facing down a false god?" Beau bristles, but Caleb keeps going. "On Rumblecusp, when…well, ditto, I suppose. But further back - Kamordah? The Stone Coffin?" He looks to Yasha, eyes sharp but visibly composing himself as his words catch up to him. "My apologies, Yasha. I get used to pushing her out of spirals, but I do not mean to speak for you."

 

"No, no." Yasha shakes her head and releases Beau's hand to wrap an arm around her shoulders. "He's right, Beau. There's been no point in any of the time we have had together that would have allowed for this. Until recently, I was…I would have been convinced that I didn't deserve happiness at all, and now that's changing more every day." She leans down and brushes her lips against Beau's forehead, and she's not sure if she's resisting the urge to move closer or away. "That was you," Yasha continues. "You've been undoing that for me and with me, piece by piece. There is no time lost here."

 

Beau frowns fiercely, and now she isn't sure whether she hopes they know it's so she won't cry or not. She's not certain of a lot in these situations, but she does know she has to make the effort. "I knew you were indifferent to your body. I knew that was a thing, what it could mean. I make connections, and I missed yours."

 

Caleb again, leaning forward earnestly. "The conclusion that Yasha was not happy and needed your help would have been most presumptive, even for you."

 

She could push him away, but she doesn't, instead sagging inside of Yasha's hold to rest her body weight against her side. "I was just focused on making sure you were happy with me. I feel like I missed checking that you were happy with you first."

 

Yasha's fingers stroke her hip. "Are you happy with you?"

 

Her soft voice does nothing at all to curb the blunt tip of her question; Beau feels the weight of it punch straight through her chest. "I…I mean there's a lot of stuff that goes into that, but. I think I'm better than I've ever been."

 

"But you could be better," says Caleb. "All of us could always be better."

 

"And I have felt my best with you," Yasha murmurs. "With all of the Nein, but especially with you. I wasn't sad before, Beau. Is that what you're worried about?"

 

Beau shrugs. "Maybe." She knows it's petulant, but it's the midpoint between the defenses she doesn't want to throw up to ruin everything and the emotions she's not ready to deal with. "It's hard to watch you be so amazing and confident and not wonder how I was ever content to let you be shy and reserved."

 

"Beau." Yasha shakes her a little, and she looks up reluctantly at the soft smile on her face. "That’s when you chose me. You loved me exactly where I was, and I you."

 

I fell in love with you in Kamordah. Exposed, vulnerable, hurting for the world to see. Angry, feeling small and helpless and unable to accept the affection her friends showed her because it wasn't the specific affection she had hoped to find a single shred of in her father's words.

 

Yasha's fingers tilt her chin up gently, and this time Beau can't quite hide the faint wet sheen she can feel burning behind her eyes. "You made me feel like I was good enough before I ever knew it was possible to give you more of me," she says. "It was enough that you chose me. This is a gift you've given me, not a misery you're correcting. Okay?"

 

Beau hesitates and takes a moment to imagine her younger self - the years she spent questioning whether the body she had was the body she wanted and whether her answer was born of spite or her own actual wants. Would she have listened if someone had told her sooner that it was okay to love herself? Would she have accepted hearing such a personal affirmation in a time when she so disliked herself for a hundred reasons that had nothing at all to do with her body?

 

Probably not. It would have taken a massive amount of trust and regard for someone else's opinion, and life had taught her early that neither of those things would help her in the slightest. Hell, it's taken months in the company of people who have proven over and over that she's worth something to them for her to even believe she has a place here.

 

The idea that she gets to be for Yasha what she would have been too damaged to accept…well. Put it that way, and maybe she's coming at this a little more from her own angle than she should be. It doesn't matter if she thinks she could have done better - if Yasha sees this as a gift, it would be pretty shitty of her to insist otherwise. That's a Beau problem, and the solution's been given. Its up to her to accept it.

 

And she does trust Yasha enough to make that work, so she ducks her head up against her girlfriend's shoulder and squirms a little closer. "Okay."

 

She smiles at the kiss Yasha drops on her head, and then she glances over to Caleb. He's gone at some point from listening to staring a hole in the sand, shoulders slightly hunched and fingers twitching in a way that indicates he's reciting something in his head. Beau quietly sticks out a foot to jostle his knee. "Had enough yet?"

 

He blinks at her, owlish. "More than. I was giving you thirty more seconds before excusing myself."

 

Beau smirks at him, just a little. "Sorry, we can't all resolve our shit in coded discussions of magic theory."

 

"We all have our flaws. Now," he says, turning to Yasha and ignoring Beau's indignant glare. "Would tomorrow morning suit your purposes?"

 

Yasha's eyebrows lift as she looks at Beau, and she knows they're both thinking about their plans for the evening. "Maybe...afternoon?"

 

She's clearly going for discretion, but Caleb sighs and Beau cackles outright at the weary look that crosses his features. "Late afternoon it is. Would you like the ritual to consist of just the three of us?"

 

The question seems to startle her a little. "I mean, I assume the others will have better things to do than stare at me covered in mud for an hour, but I'm not…they're welcome to?" Her face flushes a bit. "Actually I would rather they did not stare for an hour. That seems excessive."

 

Caleb nods, and Beau can see the wheels turning. "Understandable. They will be glad to see you when it is done."

 

"Yes." Yasha looks relieved. "Thank you for doing this. Have you…?" She moves her arms a little in a wide shape, Beau still inside of them. "Has Marion offered another bathtub, or?"

 

"I have arranged for an alternative container," he assures.

 

Beau scoffs. "Got a big old tub just hanging out in your amber or what?"

 

He sits up a little straighter, unruffled. "I called in a favor."

 

Because that's not suspicious. Beau sits upright and squints at him, the last dregs of the residual emotional charge pulling away to leave her feeling wired, awake. "Who the fuck owes you a favor?"

 

He just shrugs, pats her on the shoulder and pulls away too quickly for her to bite him as he stands upright and spreads his hands. "I am a man of mystery, Beauregard."

 

Beau throws a handful of sand at him. "You're a man of bullshit. It's Essek, isn't it?"

 

"It sounds like the two of you have plans. I will see myself out, if you don't mind."

 

She shouts after his back, grinning. "That's not a favor - it's a nerdy-ass mating ritual, you weirdo."

 

He stops and sighs, and Beau knows she's fucked even before he looks over his shoulder and flips her off with a glowing finger. There's no way to prepare; the ground simply explodes under Beau like she's been punched by a fist as big as she is.

 

Only it's not a fist, it's a giant cat paw, and she's still laughing when she hits the sand twenty feet out.

Chapter Text

Beau wakes to the smell of the sea and the pre-dawn chill rustling through the open window to tease at her hair and kiss along her exposed skin. It's not nearly cool enough to be uncomfortable - not with Yasha stretched beside her and the sheets up to their waists. It's also not time to wake up, not today, but her body is accustomed to rising early in a way that Yasha's has never seemed to catch on. Left to her own devices, she'll sleep until the sun is high.

 

Which is the plan today, but Beau can't pass up the chance to lift her sleepy head and take in the sight of Yasha, looking somehow mightier for the way the dim light softens the set of her eyes and the part of her lips. She sleeps soundly because she is safe, and there's no part of Beau that could tire of the fresh knowledge that she's part of that.

 

She presses a soft kiss to Yasha's nipple and tightens the arm thrown over her pale stomach, and then Beau rests her head again against Yasha's shoulder and drifts back to sleep with a blend of last night's memory and this afternoon's plans. So good. All of it is so good.

 

When Beau rouses again, she knows before anything else registers that the sun is high in the sky and that Yasha has already woken. She can sense it, and that's even before she registers the soft tugging coming from between her legs or the throb already building behind her navel. Oh, this is one of those mornings.

 

She unsticks her faintly sweaty cheek from Yasha's shoulder and tilts her head up to find those mismatched eyes waiting to welcome her as surely as the unhurried stroke of the fingers at work along her length.

 

"And a good morning to you too," Beau slurs, because being woken up always makes her a little hazy in a way waking up naturally never does. "Get bored?"

 

She feels more than hears Yasha's huff of amusement as she kisses Beau's forehead. "I missed you, but you looked so cute asleep. This seemed a good compromise."

 

They've had this much time together, and Beau's still not used to the knowledge that Yasha thinks of her while she's sleeping - misses her, even. The light's warm on her skin, Yasha's body is soft pressed against hers, and the tendril of pleasure that winds through Beau's chest and makes her curl up a little more tightly with the feel of it has little to do with the slower, broader build rising in her at Yasha's touch. It matters not at all that she'd experienced basically the same feeling a few hours ago, when it had been Yasha sleeping instead; it's Beau's job to adore Yasha. Yasha's affection for her is a gift.

 

"Mmmm. Guess I can let it go just this once." Beau shifts her hips so her legs spread wider, head nestled against Yasha and her eyes drifting shut in pleasure as Yasha continues to lazily stoke the heat pooling in her gut.

 

"It won't be long, and you can have your revenge."

 

Beau smiles, her hips jerking just slightly at the mental image of her mouth nuzzled against Yasha's cunt as she wakes. "Don’t worry. I'm long enough for the both of us."

 

She hears Yasha's quiet laugh at her immediate wince, smiles in spite of herself at the playful way Yasha tugs her just the once before resuming her soft strokes. "Someone's still sleepy."

 

"Busy evening," Beau retorts.

 

Yasha hums contentedly and lifts the hand trapped under Beau's body to trace her fingertips gently over her hip. "Thank you for that, by the way."

 

Beau grunts softly in acknowledgement. "Was it what you were hoping for?" The last part of the question comes out a little hitched, and she groans quietly as Yasha's pace begins to increase with unmistakable intent.

 

"I was just hoping to feel you properly." Yasha's voice is low in her ear, breath warm on her cheek, and Beau shivers. "So yes. Now shush, I'm concentrating on you right now."

 

She coughs a laugh and squirms closer, her back already starting to arch as she fists the sheets in one hand. There's a thought trying form, a good one this time. A question, a probing of the sense of intent to the way Yasha's touching her. But now's not the time, so she just lets her eyes drift shut as her leg gives a little twitch and breathes a raspy "Yes ma'am."

 


 

The lazy start to their day only lasts as long as Beau; the sweat hasn't even cooled on her body before they're both scrambling out of bed, scrubbing damp cloths over their skin and reaching for clothes as the sun glares at them from over the ocean outside.

 

"It was nice of Marion to lend me these." Yasha finishes pulling the drawstring on the soft white pants and rolls her shoulders inside the big shirt. "I hope she's okay with them getting muddy, you know. After."

 

"Probably a peace offering so we don't kill another tub," Beau remarks, finishing off the final tie of her braid.

 

"Probably," Yasha agrees, smiling softly.

 

There's something in her face that doesn't belong, so Beau crosses the space between them and takes both of Yasha's hands in hers to raise up on tiptoe and bump their noses gently. "All good?"

 

She nods and leans to drop a quick kiss to Beau's lips. "You?"

 

She says it casually enough, but Beau's expecting the little flicker of nerves under it and hears it plain as day. "I'm so fucking proud and excited for you, Yash."

 

She colors slightly, just enough to bring out the faint silver freckles that are usually so hidden. "Well. It will be mostly boring and I'm not actually doing any of the work…"

 

Deflection is Beau's home turf, and that's how she knows to just squeeze Yasha's hands and wait for her to look up from the floor. "You know, I bet all that clay would make for a really great place to nap."

 

It's clear that Yasha hadn't expected Beau to let her get away with her rambling, but the glance of confusion she passes over Beau's face resolves into a soft smile when she finds only genuine pride and amusement there. Appropriate, since that's all Beau's feeling. "I guess it would. Like a big blanket." Yasha scrunches her nose. "Wet though."

 

"But it also molds to your body," Beau points out. "I think the trick is getting out before it hardens."

 

That gets a laugh out of Yasha, and something vanishes from the set of her shoulders even as she straightens them. "I will break the clay and the tub if that happens."

 

"Hot," says Beau. "You should do that anyway."

 

Yasha bends to kiss her again, harder this time. And there it is - the excitement Beau's been waiting to feel from her, the elation passing from her lips to Beau's. She returns it with several degrees of horny added to it, and Yasha's flushed again and smiling when she pulls away to squeeze Beau's hand. "Since we are fucking with gender…snack on the way out?"

 

"Absolutely." Beau trails behind with her hand in Yasha's as they head out the door to their room and towards the Chateau's kitchen downstairs. "And once we have fucked with the gender, mai tais. Also real food." She considers. "Maybe not in that order."

 

Yasha glances over her shoulder. "What's wrong with that order?"

 

"Gods I love you."

 


 

A thing about Caleb: he's an ostentatious motherfucker, just not for himself. It's all the love he hasn't quite figured out how to soak in - he just wads it up and stores it until magic is ready to leak out of him if he doesn't give, and then he barfs all the fanfare and grandiosity he refuses himself onto someone he loves.

 

Win-win. Ish.

 

Another thing about Caleb - he really loves Yasha. Beau's known him long enough now to know that Caleb loves who he loves with all forms at once - he just hurls the whole deck of love and sees what sticks, and Yasha's a big target covering a lot of bases.

 

So why, Beau wonders when they again crest the hill to the little dais, is he going for subtlety now?

 

It's not that he's done nothing - that would just mean he'd fallen asleep or possibly been killed. He's definitely been here - the flowers are bigger, the pale stones shimmering with faint runes the color of his magic, but it feels incomplete in a way that's starting to feel like she's missing something obvious.

 

"Oh," says Yasha gently. "Hi, Essek."

 

Beau whips her head from the moss flowers (definitely brighter pinker, larger) and blinks at the drow knelt by a huge hole in the stone that had not been there previously. A very rectangular hole, filled with something smushy and gray-brown and at the sight of which Yasha's hand tightens in Beau's.

 

"Hey what the fuck?" Beau calls. It's basically a greeting.

 

Essek's hand flashes with his eyes as he finishes muttering something, and then he shakes his head a little and smiles to the both of them. "Yasha, Beauregard. Hello." He stands and drifts gently towards them, a serious but relaxed anomaly of darkness against all the green. Going by his fine clothes, he must have been summoned from something fairly important to be here - quite the favor. "I am very sorry to have ah, ruined a little of the magic, as it were. I got caught up in some of the detail work."

 

"Oh no," Yasha assures. "It's still very magical. I mean it's…literal magic. It's very neat to, um."

 

Essek chuckles softly, because that's a thing he does now. "In that case, it was my pleasure. Caleb will be here shortly, and I was never here."

 

Beau raises an eyebrow at him. "So you and Caleb both decorated?"

 

Essek hesitates. "Yes."

 

He's not lying, but he's definitely hiding something. But whatever, he's not life-and-death suspicious anymore, just the right kind of person to hang out with Caleb - a little bit of a shit, in other words.

 

"Do I get to find out what that coy voice is in the next oh…seventy-five minutes?"

 

For a drow in a straw hat (already an amazing place to start) Essek's smile is quite bright. "Something like that," he says, and then he's gone.

 

"Now what?" Yasha whispers, but before Beau can reply there's a Caleb just in front of them.

 

"Hallo." He's a little out of breath, which is equal parts hilarious and perplexing. Beau would almost guess he's been working out, except. You know. It's Caleb.

 

"I'm sorry if we are a little late," says Yasha.

 

"Not at all, perfect timing. I am all set, how are you feeling?"

 

 He's sweaty at the hairline in spite of his nicer clothes, and Beau squints a little at him as he looks to Yasha and deflects her gaze entirely. Interesting.

 

"Good," Yasha says. "I'm feeling like I'm ready to do this, um. The flowers…" she tilts her head to the moss and the blossoms around them. "Was that you?"

 

Now Caleb smiles. "Of course. I know your feelings around ritual and fanfare are mixed at best, so I kept a light touch here just for you."

 

Beau watches the blush crawl across Yasha's cheeks, more visible in her slow smile than any real change in skin tone. "It's very good," she murmurs, and then she reaches her free hand to grasp his upper arm. "Thank you, Caleb."

 

"Yeah for real," says Beau. There's something Caleb isn't saying, but she trusts him wholeheartedly. "Thanks. For all this, for being a good friend. Yanno…" He's watching her with interest, amusement dancing in his eyes and she'd punch him if she wasn't worried she'd accidentally break his magic or something so she settles for a "fuck you man, you know what I mean" and scuffs some dirt at him. She looks around, noting the places where all the benches had been now hold whimsical green shrubs. "You uh…decorated the seating away."

 

He scoffs a little at that. "There are no spectators. Only participants."

 

"You're saying you need my help."

 

She's ribbing him, but he just blinks at her. "Yes?"

 

And that's too sweet so she sticks her tongue out at him, looks up when Yasha nudges her upper arm gently and leans a little to murmur, "I'm glad you're here. And thank you, too."

 

Beau closes the distance and kisses her softly, steals an extra second at the end before lowering again and tossing hair that isn't even loose. "Pure self-interest, babe. All I want's you, remember?"

 

Caleb gives them a full second of smiling before coughing quietly. Beau squeezes Yasha's arm and turns back to face him, head tilted. "Got somewhere you gotta be?"

 

He throws her a wink she's almost sure Yasha was meant to miss and turns to take measured steps towards the dais. "If you will follow me."

 

"Am I supposed to take my clothes off?" Yasha calls as they start after him.

 

"Only if you want to keep them."

 

Beau receives her glance, shrugs. "I was betting they were sacrificial."

 

Yasha takes that in and considers. "I don't want to keep them. Can I still take them off?"

 

"However you are most comfortable," Caleb says warmly.

 

The dais feels bigger than last Beau saw it; something about the grandiosity and simplicity on display is fucking with her depth perception. They could be inside the regular stone boundaries of the dais, they could be in a Coliseum. Damn wizards.

 

Her very own damn wizard is standing now at the edge of steps leading into the rudimentary rectangle Essek had dropped in the stone, only now the only word that comes to Beau's mind when she sees it is "bath" and not "hole."

 

Yasha finishes folding her clothes in a neat little pile and stands up again, glancing now at the waiting clay with a mixture of excitement and shyness. Something about the history holding together the stones under them feels alive, charged, and with the clay as a fixture in her mind it's far too easy for Beau to look at Yasha standing casually nude and find her mind drifting along the tracks of art and craftsmanship. Yasha inhabits this body more easily in the knowledge of its transience, and it gives a lift to her spine and shoulders Beau's not quite used to seeing and hopes she never quite will be.

 

"Well." Beau blinks back to the present at Yasha's voice, sees her pink tongue dart out to wet her lips a little as she reaches for Beau's hand to squeeze it. "I think this is me."

 

The breeze kicks up again, causing the leaves to clamor and softly hiss like a rush of approval washing through the air; a little of Yasha's hair tickles at her nose and gets swatted away as Beau just watches her and lets this feeling balloon in her chest til she thinks she might break with it.

 

"All you, babe," she says finally. She draws Yasha's hand to her mouth and kisses it, then lets her fingers drag against Yasha's as she takes the last few steps to Caleb.

 

He raises an arm and bows to her a little, some of that showmanship Beau's expected shining through. "Miss Nydoorin," he says warmly, and even though the thought of him actually catching her if she were to fall is laughable, there's something about the image of him guiding her into the mud bath that lights up a long-buried nerve in Beau. Trust, affection, commiseration, camaraderie…it looks like family, Beau decides, and she burns the image and the feeling into her memory before setting that train of thought to the side in favor of a smile when she catches Yasha's eye.

 

The mud comes to the middle of her shins and she gives a little shiver of surprise as she lets go of Caleb's hand. "It's warm."

 

Caleb smiles and inclines his head. "Veth was my first success. From there, I could work on improvements."

 

"Please don't overbake my girlfriend." Beau drops cross-legged on the stone near where Yasha's head will go. "The touches are nice but not that nice."

 

"I will do my best. Yasha?"

 

She's eye level sitting in the mud now, nods to Caleb. "Okay." Beau watches her eyes flutter closed, her chest slowly expand and contract, and then she lies back on the warm clay and settles in its grasp.

 

"Alright," Caleb says. He nods to a bag next to Beau that hadn't been there a second ago. "You've got the glitter, and then we begin."

 

Beau pulls the bag open, tips a dust into her palm as vibrant pink as the flowers around them. It shifts and winks in the light, dazzling them both as she leans over the tub and sprinkles it to land softly over Yasha's pale skin. Beau starts with a slow, broad line down from Yasha's collarbones to her navel, keeps her arm loose and relaxed as she draws patterns over her hipbones and down her thighs. It settles over Yasha like a blush, more of it present than Beau had expected and possibly magically multiplying itself for spellwork, who knows? She doesn't question. She just takes in the lines of her girlfriend's body and slowly, reverently drops the gem dust along the same path she charted last night with her lips.

 

When the last of the glitter has fallen, Beau leans over the edge of the recess and strokes her pink-dusted fingers over Yasha's cheek, dragging the tips over her bottom lip along her tattoo.

 

"I could one hundred percent stare at you while Caleb does all the work," she says through a dry throat. "For an hour and more."

 

Yasha chuckles quietly, the slightest movements setting ripples of pink glinting over her body. "Not much more. You'll get distracted before the second one is up."

 

Beau grins. "Oh yeah? You're on. But later - I gotta help this nerd help you."

 

"You know where to find me." Yasha opens her eyes long enough to make sure Beau can see her smiling, and before they’ve closed again Beau's up and moving to Caleb's stack of magical things and rummaging for incense.

 

There's got to be some kind of arcane timekeeper, Beau decides an hour later (give or take). How could a spell that took the same amount of time to do the first time as the second? They're faster now. The incense is burning, the symbols are glowing, the mud has overtaken Yasha. Spell done, you'd think. And yet.

 

But it's hard to stay anxious with the soothing repetition of Caleb's ritual in the background, hard to stiffen her spine against the gentle caress of the sea wind. The air smells of color and life and light, and for the first time since Yasha woke with her question, Beau is able to sit at one end of the experience and see it through to its conclusion and beyond. So much has changed already, or promised to, and in the place where Beau might normally find anxiety she just finds the echo of the guilt she's working on releasing. Yasha's words rang true, even if it'll take Beau a little bit to sort through - the important thing is the complete lack of anything resembling fear of change. Every word she's said to Yasha is true. Every support, every reassurance, every come-on and compliment. But Beau's been a little afraid, too, to prod this thing within her and find she's been overcompensating for a sense of trepidation. Even if it's normal, she doesn't want it.

 

She can tell where it would be, can tell it's been here, but it's something new now - bound up in excitement and affection and a handful of other things she doesn't feel like trying to wrangle with this close to the end, but all of which warm her with color and light. Not anxiety, not adrenaline, something like anticipation. Yasha's first action in her own body had been to hug Beau more tightly and confidently than ever before. There's no telling how many ways this will improve her life, and Beau can't wait to see them all.

 

Caleb's words taper into silence, and when he gives a long exhale it feels for a moment as though the whole world has stilled. Beau opens clear eyes to fresh colors and a sense of invigoration and glances at Caleb over the mud. His own eyes open gradually, and the smile he returns to Beau is as wan and pale as the thumbs up he lifts. She's all set.

 

The clay nudges upwards and stops, and for no reason Beau can discern her heart starts going crazy. Yasha's been gone an hour - not even gone, literally right here, visible for most of it, and yet it feels like Beau's waiting for her to come home. Which is even stranger, as Yasha's hardly left her sight since they took this step together. How would Beau know what waiting for her feels like, except for this here and now?

 

The clay doesn't explode then so much as pop violently open from the inside, blinding Beau and Caleb both with the sight of the radiant wings bright as lightning folded over Yasha's body. A crack of thunder from the clear blue sky as she sits up, and Beau leans against the pummeling of wind that comes with the beat of insubstantial wings. Brightness crackles across Yasha's face an inch from her own, eyes aglow as she whispers, "Boo!"

 

Strong hands yank her forward and hold her close, and Beau's yelp of surprised laughter is buried in the bass thump of feathers on sky as they rocket upwards.

 

"Back in a bit!" Yasha calls to Caleb.

 

Beau leans back to see him watching with a hand up to shield his eyes. "You might like to wash off in the ocean," he calls back after them. For some reason, that's what clicks everything together in Beau's head. The lack of decoration and fanfare, the sweat on him when he appeared clearly later than he'd meant to, nudging them towards the water - they aren't done yet, and now Beau knows where they're meant to go next.

 

She gives Caleb an exaggerated salute and grins up at Yasha. "Sounds like a good time to me. You game?"

 

"Oh yes." It should be unnerving, being on the other end of that glowing stare, but it's impossible to feel anything but seen even as they're hurtling through the sky. "I think that's an excellent idea. Hold on."

 

The last part is for effect - Beau's grip means nothing when Yasha's got her like this. But she throws her arms around Yasha's shoulders with a whoop as the water approaches, and the then the world is impact and bubbles and light behind her eyelids. Yasha doesn't let go, just tunnels them through the muffled silence of the water before angling up and - sunlight and water break over Beau's head as she wipes at her eyes, still giggling with the rush, and blinks up properly at Yasha as they hover just over the surface.

 

"Oh good, it's you. Had me worried for a second that maybe I was being kidnapped by a glowing mud monster."

 

Yasha's ethereal glow is starting to fade, but at its brightest it had nothing on the smile Beau can see clearly now stretched across her face. "I wouldn't have let that happen."

 

"Of course not. Always looking out for me." Beau kisses her, tastes the ozone and the salt and the clay. "So how do you feel? Tell me everything."

 

She drifts her fingertips over Yasha's collarbone and up over her shoulder, reveling in the small shiver she gives before replying. "I feel…free? Also weirdly kind of. I can't explain it but it feels like this isn't new. Not just because I tried it before - it's like I'm returning to something I never had." She perks up a little. "It's like when I got my wings, only all over."

 

Beau squirms up a bit to kiss at the underside of her jaw. "Free always looks great on you."

 

"Mmm." Yasha nuzzles her cheek on Beau's. "And being naked doesn't hurt either, right?"

 

"Nope! Totally awesome that you're floating naked and glowing over the water. Bet it's someone's lucky day." She mostly looks over Yasha's shoulder to be a shit, so she genuinely startles at the sight of cheerful blue tiefling stepping out onto the sand with a small sack of something. "Oh fuck it's Jester." Beau paws at Yasha's arm as she turns them, waving frantically. "HI JESTER."

 

Standing just beyond the reach of the waves some seventy feet away, Jester cups her hands and shouts, "I'm having a picnic! I brought you clothes, so hurry up and come join me!" She points with both hands dancing to the black and blue bundle now at her feet, tail visibly lashing from here, and then she turns and darts off to disappear behind a section of the cliff face.

 

"I hope she never realizes how obvious her duplicates are," Beau remarks. "If it's silent, you know. The moment it talks, you know. Incredible."

 

"It really is adorable." Yasha's last word rockets up in pitch as her wings give out and send them plummeting into the water below. They're both giggling when they come up,  reaching for each other even before they get the salt out of their eyes to open them.

 

Beau points. "You got a little something…race you to shore!"

 

Yasha's midway through glancing down and snatches at Beau's ankle with a snarl of retribution as she swims frantically past, already laughing. And yeah, she probably could slip from Yasha's grasp, but Beau's known for a long time that when it comes to Yasha, being caught is always more fun - water up her nose or no.

 

"I am very hungry," Yasha admits when they've caught their breath on shore. She twists the last of the water she's able from her hair into the sand, unaware or unheeding of the way Beau's looking at her. "We can still go out if you like, but a picnic sounds delightful."

 

Her attention is definitely back on Beau once her fingers are touching her tits, but Beau does nothing more than plant a wet kiss right between them. "Personally, I'm doing great just staying right here. But." She strokes her thumb over a pink nipple pearled bright with seawater and smiles innocently at the way Yasha purses her lips. "I don't think I want to miss out on any event Jester's heading. Do you?" It's hard to step away, but she manages for effect if nothing else. The wink she adds helps.

 

Yasha considers for less than a heartbeat before falling in step. "No, we don't."

 

"Yeah, thought so."

 

"She must really want us to come if she brought our clothes," Yasha remarks when Beau hands her the light tunic she's been wearing in the Nicodranas heat.

 

Beau knows exactly why Jester would bring them clothes, but simply shrugs as she pulls her baggy pants over her undershorts. "Beats waiting for us to go to the Chateau and back, I guess." She finishes squirming her damp body into her cropped chest piece and glances over to find Yasha still completely undressed and holding up her tunic, looking doubtful. Beau steps closer and touches her arm lightly, mindful of overwhelm. "Everything okay?"

 

Yasha seems to snap out of something and nods as she drops the shirt forward to gather up. "Fine. Just thinking it might be a little um…tighter now."

 

Of course. For everything they never knew needed fixing, there is now an old, routine way of doing things to write over. It's not just the shirt - it's everything. Beau gives her a reassuring smile just before she disappears inside. "I think you might be surprised."

 

Yasha's silvery head pops out as she tugs the fabric down, and Beau sees the moment her own suspicions are confirmed as Yasha smooths a pale hand over the front of her shirt and looks up with her eyes shining. "Oh," she breathes. "Jester's good."

 

Beau ties off her sash and gives Yasha finger guns. "She measured your tits, remember?"

 

"She did, just…that's very Jester of her. I didn't read into it."

 

"Fair, but also I'd be surprised if there's not a secret dick sewn somewhere."

 

"That is a very good point." Yasha's just stepped into her pants, and she spends all of a second roving over the material before her face gives way to a soft smile. "Not a dick, actually. Look."

 

Beau leans up against her back and peers down at the upturned fabric. "Oh shit." All along the inside of Yasha's waistband, dark but vibrant in the sun, is a chain of purple lightning bolts. Beau touches her fingertips to the fine stitching, following along until - "Aha. Knew it."

 

The dick is hidden near the back, and Yasha has to turn a little before she gives an amused huff and shrugs Beau off to finish dressing. "Strangely, I feel better knowing it's there."

 

Beau tugs a small notebook from the inside of her sleeveless jacket and holds it up so Yasha can see the dick scribbled in the corner of the cover. "I know exactly what you mean."

 

Yasha straightens with an involuntary sound of pleasure that has Beau paying instant attention, but Yasha's already got a hand up even as she's smiling when her eyes meet Beau's. "My pants," she explains, gesturing vaguely. "They…fit."

 

Beau peers at her. "Yeah, of course. Jester probably did a little something to them too."

 

Yasha shakes her head. "No, no. I mean she did, but when I pulled them up…" She trails off helplessly.

 

"I gotcha." Beau tucks her notebook back in her coat and rests her hands on Yasha's waist. "Like your wings again?"

 

Yasha nods and sniffs, turning her head immediately and to wipe her cheek with the back of her hand. "Stormlord," she mutters. "Maybe I shouldn't be around people just yet, actually."

 

Beau is the perfect height to lean in and rest her chin on the space between Yasha's breasts, a fact she takes advantage of immediately as she wraps her arms around her girlfriend's waist. "Does it help if I tell you the others are one hundred percent about to throw you a party?"

 

A flicker of pink glints from amid damp silver and black as Yasha's arms come up on instinct to hold her in return. "A party? For me?"

 

"Yup. I figured it out towards the end and I kind of feel like maybe it's supposed to be a surprise, but it seemed like important context here."

 

Yasha's mouth works. "For…this?"

 

She looks down her own body and back up as an indication, and Beau nods eagerly. "Of course. Everyone loves you and they're all super happy for you like I am, and nobody's gonna say shit if you cry eating a celebratory fish taco. I will definitely probably tease you about it later though."

 

"You won't," Yasha says automatically, then: "Huh." She sniffs again, lets Beau swipe a gentle thumb under her other eye. "Okay then. Should I - I can try and act surprised about the party?"

 

Beau kisses her bicep gently and disentangles from her arms to stand up straight again. "I wouldn't bother."

 

"That's fair."

 


 

Yasha doesn't cry at the fish tacos, nor at the resplendent display of flowers blooming all over the little clearing they find the others set up in - much more Caleb's style. She doesn't cry at the illusions of dancing lights or Jester's enthusiastic hug or Veth's lewd but somehow commiserative comments on her tits, and though she looks like she might come close when Caduceus hugs her with that soft smile of his, she makes it through that too.

 

No, Yasha holds it together until they stumble hand-in-hand through the door of their guest room at the Chateau, is still smiling with exhaustion and happiness intermingled when her eyes land on the bed - more specifically, what's on it. Beau recognizes it in the first instant as the dress Yasha wore to their first party here at the Chateau, and another glance reveals subtle but impactful changes to its fit. The slit, for starters, is way higher.

 

"That's…" Yasha looks from the dress to Beau, who shrugs but can't stop the smile pulling across her face.

 

"Date night tomorrow?"

 

Yasha doesn't reply at first, just tucks her hair behind an ear and leans forward to brush her fingers over the dress. "It's the same dress, but it's…for me." Her voice cracks on the last word, and Beau closes the few feet of space between them to wrap her arms around Yasha as the day finally begins to settle over her.

 

"Hey, hey." Beau drags her hand up and down Yasha's spine, holds her tighter when her shoulders shake. "Today's been fucking awesome, but it's also been like. A lot."

 

Yasha sniffs and nods into her neck. "I really thought…it was nothing? Not in the bad way, just."

 

"Yeah," Beau says softly. "Bad habit of yours."

 

"What is?"

 

"You think if you're doing something, it can't be that big of a deal." Beau taps her head gently against Yasha's jaw and nuzzles closer. "You would be all over it for any of us. For me."

 

"I suppose. Just…this doesn't feel as powerful, I guess. Not in the same way that fighting does, or protecting. I do those things and I'm proud of them. This is…everyone dressed up for me, and I didn't even do anything."

 

Beau hums gently. "Good news, babe: that's bullshit. And I know you're gonna ask what I mean, so let's get you out of these clothes and then I'll tell you anything you wanna know."

 

The curl of Yasha's smile presses against the soft skin of Beau's temple. "Anything?"

 

Her voice is watery. Beau loves her so much it hurts. "You heard me." She turns her head and kisses Yasha's cheek, tastes the salt damp of her and grasps the back of her neck for balance as she tracks her lips up the tear track to the corner of Yasha's eye. She watches Yasha as she tugs at the bottom of her tunic, gathers it slowly up. "Can I?"

 

At Yasha's nod, Beau slips her hands under the hem and glides her palms up the curve of her girlfriend's hips, pressing gently and committing the new mold of her to memory. Rib by rib, Beau's thumbs work their unhurried way up until Yasha's breasts pull free to settle with a new bounce that has Beau swallowing hard. She glances up at Yasha and presses a soft kiss to one, then the other, and when Yasha's pulled it the rest of the way off and tossed it she leans down to kiss Beau hard. Nails scratching at the base of her undercut, lips crushing hers in a way both new and somehow familiar - urgency with no destination. She's being mapped, Beau realizes, as surely as her hands had done the same, and the idea that she might feel different to Yasha now makes want and anxiety spark in equal measure.

 

She doesn't tense or pause, but Yasha pulls away to look her over regardless with eyes the color of firelight and smooths a rogue piece of Beau's undercut back behind her ear. "Okay?"

 

Beau coughs a laugh, startled to find her own eyes burning slightly at the question. "Way better than okay, I promise. Is it…do I feel different to you?"

 

"A bit," says Yasha. "But it's not the feel of you, it's. I don't how to explain."

 

Beau smiles. "I just fit?"

 

"That's exactly it." With a sudden confidence, Yasha pulls her close with a hand on the small of her back and leans forward forcing Beau's weight to rest on that point of contact. "This has always been you, taking charge and showing me how to have you."

 

The world tunnels down to just Yasha's eyes on hers, the heat of her stomach on Beau's as she swallows, mouth dry. "And now?"

 

Yasha kisses her again. "I'm not sure yet. But I could be, soon. Will that-" She hesitates. "Would you want to? Follow my lead, maybe?"

 

"Yasha." Beau clears her throat and feels her cheeks warm at the amusement in her girlfriend's eyes. "Are you asking to have your way with me?"

 

Her yelp when Yasha pretends to drop her turns to a giggle when she's caught again easily and brought closer for Yasha to press a kiss just under her ear. "A little," she says. "But I probably won't next time."

 

"That's the spirit." It comes out a little bit of a squeak - basic functions like talking take a backseat to images speeding through Beau's head. Can't be helped. "You gonna hold me down and ride my dick for yourself? Just go full dom and choke me out a little?" She pauses. "Possibly gave away too much there, sorry."

 

Yasha's eyes drop to her neck, and Beau gulps at the intense curiosity in her face as she lifts hesitant fingers to brush them along her pulse point. "Like this?" She splays her fingers and applies the slightest pressure to the sides of Beau's throat, causing a truly embarrassing moan to fall from her lips as she tilts her head just slightly to expose more of her flushing skin to Yasha's touch.

 

"Exactly like this, gods Yash." Such a fucking simple gesture, but the new way Yasha seems keen to push buttons just because she can - because she didn't know she wanted to and now it's all changed and she wants now, she's getting better at it every day - Beau is helpless to do anything but grip Yasha's bicep in a redundant and useless grab for stability.

 

"I think I very much like how you look like this," Yasha says softly.

 

"I guarantee you I like how it feels even better. I've got way more ideas if you're-" Yasha fingers tighten so slightly - not nearly enough to even slow Beau's air but absolutely overkill when it comes to shutting her up under the force of her own sudden arousal.

 

"Another time, baby." Yasha releases her to run her thumb over Beau's pulse as she kisses her again, thigh pressing gently against the erection only just beginning to unspool between her legs. "I'm happy to take care of you if you need, but tonight I just want to hold you if that's okay."

 

Being just held by Yasha has and will always be more than enough, and Beau touches their noses gently before stepping away with a smile to start tugging off her own clothes. "Don't need nothin' but you, babe." Her knees are only shaking a little. It's fine.

 

Yasha tilts her head as her hands get to work on her belts. "Nothing but me getting you off?"

 

Beau unties her sash with a flourish and puts her hand to her chest. "You wound me." Pants kicked neatly to the foot of the bed, she lifts her arms and bends backwards in a long, luxurious stretch meant to show off every one of her muscles and maybe exaggerate the slight bulge in her undershorts. "But really - I'm good. Nothin' new happening on this end. Way more interested in learning more about how I fit." She frowns and laces her fingers behind her head. "Dammit, still sounds pervy."

 

At the sound of Yasha's giggle, she preens a little before glancing back to her face. She's expecting the amusement and the little hint of lust in Yasha's expression, but all of it's dwarfed by the fathomless affection seeming to ripple outwards from her smile. A passage from Fjord's boat book filters unbidden through Beau's mind - something about riptides and how you don't realize you've been caught up in one til you look up to find shore is a lot farther away than it should be.

 

Beau's not sure when she stopped checking on that distance, can't remember consciously deciding to just put her head back and drift. But she's a long, long way from the version of herself who spent months and years convincing herself there was nothing out there anyway, that her tiny island was the only safe spot and if she left she'd be ruined.

 

By most standards, she supposes that's what ended up happening. And frankly, she's never been happier.

 

Beau's blushing a little but doesn't look away when she flops backwards on the bed, mindful of Yasha's dress and feeling the weight of that gaze continuing to expose her further than a simple lack of clothes ever could. It's not often that Yasha just watches her like this, not often that she takes what she wants even if what she wants is just to stare while she works her pants off.

 

Yasha's naked now and still staring at Beau like she's seeing her for the first time, so she lets a lazy smirk ease across her face and winks. "Like what you see?"

 

For an instant, Yasha startles into a familiar version of herself, withdrawing a little as though caught doing something indecent. But then she smiles and pulls her shoulders back and Beau nearly misses her reply because hi, hello, still not used to this, yes ma'am. "Looking at you makes me feel powerful."

 

There's a right way to respond to that, something meaningful she could say, but Beau's kind of sleepy and kind of horny and she's definitely coming up on her limit for sincerity too quickly, so she wrinkles her nose and deflects. "I'm not that weak. You're just ridiculously strong."

 

"I am," Yasha agrees easily, draping her dress over the nearby chair and crawling up onto the bed with Beau. "But I feel it now. I feel strong."

 

Beau stays flat on her back with her arms behind her head and watches breathlessly as Yasha curls on her side and begins drawing absentminded patterns over Beau's stomach with a finger. "You could crush me before and you still could, I'm pretty sure. I'd thank you for it either way."

 

"Mmmm," says Yasha, smiling softly. "Bad habit of yours."

 

"I got plenty of those," says Beau, "but that's not one of em. Not when it comes to you. But since we're here…" Now she moves, flips on her side to face Yasha with her head in one hand. "You do realize everyone's so happy for you because we love you, right?"

 

Undeterred by Beau's shift in position, Yasha's hand wanders from her shoulder blade to her hip as she spends a moment in thought. "Can you explain that some more?"

 

"'Course," Beau says readily. "You spent a while figuring out your purpose, yeah? Protect. Defend. Kick major ass, assorted other pithy sayings from puffy cloud gods."

 

Yasha nods. "Things feel clearer now."

 

"Yeah. You're like, crazy confident when you have something to fight." Beau hums contentedly at the feel of Yasha's thumb on her nipple, just exploring before continuing on down her ribs. "I just think maybe you don't quite get how much all of us want that for you all the time."

 

"Purpose?"

 

"Confidence. I love your sense of purpose, but I'm kind of glad for the break in things trying to kill us every other minute. It's like…" Beau hesitates, searching her face. "Not to bring old shit to the door or anything, but up until recently you never had any practice just like. Figuring out what you want. Purpose is great, but you deserve to have that confidence even when lives aren't at stake. And look at you." Beau runs her hand down Yasha's bicep and her eyes down her body - a little lust, sure, she's lying next to a literal naked angel - but mostly the kind of awe she might bother giving to a god if she were inclined to that sort of thing. "You walk differently, you talk more, you want to top me maybe -"

 

"Definitely."

 

"-definitely want to top me - you deserve good things, Yash, but you haven't had shit for practice learning how to tell what things you might even want. And then you asked? You trusted Caleb with your first real request, you let Jester measure your tits, you let us be part of this. That's incredible."

 

Yasha's been shrinking a little with every passing second since her interjection, blushing harder than Beau's maybe ever seen. "I have the Nein," she whispers, soft as the breeze. Her fingers drift up to cup Beau's cheek. "I have you. You're the greatest thing, and I'll always want you."

 

There's the familiar urge to deflect, to look away, but Beau just summons the reserves of her emotional aptitude for the day and says, "Yeah, but now you might believe you deserve it."

 

Yasha purses her lips and strokes a thumb over the corner of Beau's mouth. "It feels possible now, so that's something. I don't think it all happens quite that fast."

 

"Neither do muscles, but I seem to remember someone sprouted extras overnight, so. You know."

 

Yasha chuckles and pulls her into her arms. "You're never going to let that go, are you?"

 

"Never. But also? I'm definitely not complaining." Beau squirms closer, throws a leg over Yasha's and looks up when she startles a little. "This okay?"

 

"Yes. Definitely. Just…" Yasha shifts her hips and Beau only just clamps her teeth around the whine that threatens to fall out of her at the friction against her cock. "Different."

 

Beau manages a tight grin. "Bet I fit just right in there too."

 

The candle in the corner is on its last legs, lamplight guttering weakly into total darkness but for the moons outside. Yasha's lips are soft on Beau's forehead, but her voice is unmistakably amused. "Maybe you'll find out soon."

 

Beau scoffs. "What, if I'm good?"

 

Silence, and when Beau pulls back it's to find Yasha looking her over with her head cocked, contemplative in a very intentional way.

 

"Uh. Holy shit." There's that feeling again, that she could be fully clothed and feel more than naked under that stare. "Are you teasing me, Yasha? Is that a thing you do now?" She's exaggerating slightly; Yasha's long been known to be playful in a way that gets Beau hard faster than is, as far as she knows, medically recommended. Or possible. But leaning into it, promising it outside of any imminent plans for sex?

 

"I thought it sounded fun to try," says Yasha, relaxed again. She tucks her chin on Beau's head and scratches gently at the back of her neck. "How'd I do?"

 

Bea rocks her hips the slightest amount and makes an exaggerated noise of contemplation. "Feels like a standing ovation to me."

 

Yasha mutters, "Brat" and pinches Beau's ass just hard enough to make her jump.

 

"Your brat," she counters. "However you want me."

 

There's a slight frown in the noise Yasha makes, though the hand sweeping over her back doesn't cease. "You always say that, so why does it sound different now?"

 

"S'not me." Beau nips gently at her shoulder. "That's you figuring out more of what you want, which apparently now includes taking things over a bit."

 

"And you're okay with that?"

 

"Yash." Sleep is reaching for Beau as surely as the breeze coming through the window open above their heads, slurring her words a little and making a puddle of her limbs around Yasha's. "You ever been part of a group project, only you do the whole thing just so you don't have to worry about someone else's fuckup making you look bad?"

 

"Not really, but I think I understand."

 

Right. Education systems and the lack thereof, or maybe Yasha's just a little less screwy when it comes to trust. Scratch that, she's definitely ahead there. "Okay well, that's been me about a lot of things for a long time. And mostly it's still true and probably always will be, but you...you're offering to take over, yeah? and I'm thinking maybe it sounds kind of nice to let you. Like really nice, because I don't think I ever expected to trust someone like I trust you."

 

Yasha's hand drifts to a stop. "Oh."

 

"Too much?"

 

"No, no." Yasha squeezes her tightly and sounds like she's trying not to cry again, which shouldn't do quite so much for Beau's heart. "It's perfect. You're perfect. And I won't let you down."

 

Beau pats her shoulder blade and yawns. "You can let me down a little. I'm into that, probably."

 

Yasha peels away and sits up, chuckling outright at the whine of protest Beau makes as she gropes on the dark. "Yashaaaa, I didn't mean right now."

 

Her weight is back in the next moment, the sheet she'd leaned down to pull up settling over their bodies and fuck, Beau can practically hear her grinning in the dark. "That's playing dirty," she mumbles. "I think you got the hang of it."

 

She feels Yasha's chuckle at that, smiles at the kiss pressed to the top of her head. "Goodnight, baby. I love you."

 

"Love you too, Yash." Beau lets her eyes drift shut, reaches for one last thought. "And welcome home."