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Not Like in the Stories

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Jester didn't mind the quiet so much when she was with Beau.

She wasn't entirely sure what the difference was, why she felt the urge to fill in the silence with stories or questions or teasing with the others in a way that she never did when it was just her and Beau in the room. Maybe it was because she knew Beau preferred the quiet most of the time? No, that wasn't it. So did Caleb, and it never stopped her from talking with him.

Maybe it was because the silence didn't feel like a bad thing with Beau? Even when they weren't talking, Jester didn't feel like she was by herself. Back in Nicadranas, the quiet meant that Jester was alone. Not that she minded being alone! Not usually, at least. Well, not always. Just... some of the time. But the important thing was that she didn't feel like she was alone when Beau was there, even if they weren't actually saying anything to each other.

She didn't feel like she didn't belong, not really, around Beau either like she did sometimes around the others. Oh, she hid it fairly well, or at least she thought that she did. Still, sometimes she felt like the rest of the Mighty Nein all knew so much more than her when it came to, well, living. They'd learned things from their own experiences, not from books and songs and spying through keyholes like she had. But Beau, well, she was good at listening even if she liked to pretend that she wasn't sometimes. And she always knew the right thing to say to make Jester feel like maybe it wasn't all that bad that some of the things she'd learned from reading and listening weren't all that true.

Or maybe it was—

"You realize that I can pretty much hear you thinking all the way over here, right?"

Jester flushed, grateful that Beau didn't bother wearing her goggles when they were inside. With those human eyes of hers, it meant she definitely couldn't see Jester's face. "I'm not thinking!"

There was a long pause, followed by a snort.

"You know what I mean," Jester muttered, very glad that Beau couldn't see her face in the dark just then.

Beau snorted again.

Jester felt her face grow even warmer, and she stared pointedly at the ceiling rather than glancing over in Beau's direction. It was easier that way. "It's nothing."

There was another pause. "It doesn't sound like nothing," Beau said skeptically.

Jester sighed, reluctantly rolling over so she could see the other bed. Beau was staring straight at her, even though she probably couldn't see anything in the dark, and Jester was pretty sure the look on her face was an amused one despite her somewhat dry tone of voice.

At the sound of Jester's bed creaking, Beau's eyebrows went up and she shifted a bit, almost like she was looking for Jester even though she couldn't have seen much of anything with as little light that was coming in from under the door. "Want to talk about it?"

It surprised Jester sometimes how gentle Beau could be when the others weren't looking. Beau didn't let it show very often with the rest of the group, but Jester was getting used to seeing it more and more when it was just the two of them. It was kind of like a secret that was being shared just with her.

Jester liked it, that she and Beau had a secret.

"Is this still about those books you've been reading?" Beau asked, her tone just a tiny bit too knowing. Sometimes it was like she could look right into Jester's mind and pull out her thoughts.

Jester shifted slightly. "Maybe."

It was. Sorta. It was just that things like love and relationships and friendships and everything else that actually involved other people were a lot more complicated than the books made them out to be. Real people didn't act the same way as the ones in stories. It would be so much easier if they did.

Beau let out a sigh and, in the dim light of the room, Jester saw her sit up. "I can't see shit," Beau said dryly as she slid over to make room beside her on the bed, "but I know you can. Get over here."

Jester didn't hesitate. She was already rolling out of bed before she was entirely aware that her body was moving, making a beeline for Beau's side. The wooden floor felt cool under her bare feet, but she barely even noticed as she all but leapt onto the other bed. The mattress bounced pleasantly under her; she'd known that Beau's was softer than hers. Beau was always so much better than her at picking the best bed.

Beau let out a quiet curse as she grabbed hold of Jester's shoulders. Jester got the impression that it was more to keep herself from tumbling off the bed herself than to actually make her stop bouncing. Beau wasn't nearly as dour as she pretended to be if you looked close enough.

"Don't do that," Beau snapped. She didn't particularly sound all that upset, but Jester stopped nonetheless.

Beau squinted at her, and Jester was confused for a second before she realized that there was probably just enough light in the room for a human to see a few inches in front of them. The odds were that Beau couldn't see her particularly well, but she could still most likely see her at least a little.

"Okay, start talking," Beau said. "What's wrong?"

"Nothing's wrong," Jester replied immediately, the words automatic.

Beau's eyebrows both rose, and she just kept sitting there waiting.

Jester shifted. "Nothing's really wrong?"

It came out more like a question than a statement, but it was better than nothing. Probably.

"Come on, Jes, do I look like an idiot?" Beau asked, a little bit of exasperation making its way into her voice. "Tell me what's going on so we can both get some sleep already. It's late, and gods know what we're going to get into tomorrow."

Beau leaned over a bit, her arm brushing against Jester's.

Jester could feel her cheeks heating up again, and she sent up a silent thanks to the Traveler that Beau couldn't see very well in the dark. "It's nothing important," Jester said quickly. "You don't need to worry about it."

There was a short pause before Beau let out a tired sigh. "Right," she said dryly, reaching up to run her fingers through her hair. She'd taken it down for the night, and it hung loosely around her face. "As lies go, that's almost on the same level as Caleb claiming he doesn't have any issues with fire."

Jester's eyes widened. "It wasn't that bad!" she said. Then she clapped her hands over her mouth as she realized that she'd totally just admitted that she'd been lying.

Beau just shook her head, the corners of her mouth twitching upwards into a smile. It would be nice if she smiled more often. She had such a pretty smile, and it always made Jester feel a little happier whenever she saw it even when she knew it wasn't actually meant for her. Smiles meant Beau was happy, and that was never a bad thing.

"Okay, you have two options," Beau said. "You can tell me what's actually bothering you, or you we can both go back to bed. Your choice."

For just a second, Jester was tempted to talk even if she wasn't entirely certain what she would say. She didn't know exactly what it was that as wrong in the first place, after all. There was just something that she couldn't make fit, words or feelings or thoughts that were spinning around wildly in her head and refusing to slow down enough to make sense of them. But if anyone would get it, then it would be Beau.

The thought of that gave Jester a fluttery feeling in her stomach that was familiar but different at the same time. It was kind of terrifying, but in a good way. At least, she thought it was in a good way.

"Going to back to bed is good," Jester said, the words slipping out of her mouth before she could overthink things or change her mind. She knew that she'd said them too fast, but it was better to get them out than leave them in. Probably. Something like that.

Beau opened her mouth, and for a second Jester thought she'd say something. Then she closed it, shaking her head instead. An expression that Jester didn't recognize flashed across her face, there and gone before she could look too closely. It wasn't a bad look, at least Jester didn't think it was. Just one she didn't know how to interpret.

Jester glanced over at her own bed, sitting cold and dark on the other side of the room. She looked at Beau, who was sitting beside her with a tired look on her face. Then, with an impish grin that she was pretty sure almost made it all the way up to her eyes, Jester flung herself down flat on top of Beau's mattress.

"Hey!" Beau leaned forward, her face almost directly above Jester's as she looked down at her. "What do you think you're doing?"

"Your bed is softer than mine," Jester said with a shrug. Then she let out a loud, exaggerated yawn. "I'm so sleepy. You're right, we should go to bed."

Beau stared at her for a long moment. Then her gaze flickered across the room in the direction of Jester's empty bed that she probably couldn't even see in the dark, just for a second, before focusing on Jester again.

That same odd look flashed across Beau's face, just for a moment. Jester found herself holding her breath, like she did when waiting to see if a prank was going to work or not. She wasn't quite sure what she was waiting for, though.

"Slide over," Beau said finally, letting out a huff. "I'm too tired to move over to that rock impersonating a bed that you claimed."

Jester giggled and moved over, giving Beau room to lie down as well. After a moment, she felt the bed shift, and suddenly there was a warm presence curled up at her side.

"Goodnight Beau," Jester said, yawning again. This time, it was even a real one. "Thanks for sharing your bed."

Beau just sighed and shifted slightly beside her.

Jester smiled and closed her eyes.