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If we're laying it all on the table, the first time Beau considers Yasha in That Way is at the circus. Yasha picks her up like it's nothing, like it's the most natural thing in the world. Beau can't help but notice the strength in the arms around her, the thick cords of muscle. She is ready to go from the jump, basically, and nothing about that changes as Yasha slips in and out of her life, as the days go by.

But now it's a few weeks later, and she's never gotten past the part where she wants Yasha really badly. Yasha is hard to read on her best day, and Beau can't decide whether she's quiet and awkward by nature or playing all of them. Beau's not sure she cares, because one of them is cute and the other is admirable, but she spends a lot of time wanting to get into Yasha's head, figure out what it is she needs to do to make this all something other than a nice thought.

She's sitting in the tavern in the inn they're staying at, and without really planning it, everyone has split up. Caleb and Nott are sitting at a table that Fjord is also at, but they're ignoring him in that way that they do sometimes, too wrapped up in their own thing. Yasha is sitting at the bar, drinking quietly, and Beau considers and rejects about six ways to go over there and join her, even though it would really be nothing to share a drink with her.

Jester is sitting across the room, recently joined by Molly, but as Beau watches, she stands and makes her way over. Beau is a little relieved when Molly stays put, because she doesn't feel like putting up with his shit tonight.

"Oh Beauregard," Jester says, in a sing-songy voice that makes her a little suspicious.

"Yeah?" Beau says warily.

"I have a message for you," Jester says. "Yasha said to tell you that she wanted to swap rooms so that you and her could have some time together. Alone."

Beau frowns. She's torn between not wanting to believe her and wanting to believe her a lot, because it's both a prank Jester would pull and exactly the opening she's been looking for. "Really?" she says, and it doesn't come out as smooth as she hoped.

"Definitely," Jester says. "Have a good night!"

With that, Jester skips away, collecting Molly and leaving the tavern. Beau tries to process what just happened, giving Yasha sidelong looks that Yasha never seems to catch, seeing as how she's looking at her beer instead. Beau should probably be tempering her excitement, because a scam still seems very likely, but she finds that she can't. This is gonna go down, and with any luck, Beau's gonna enjoy the hell out of it.

After another thirty minutes or so, Yasha starts to make her way towards the stairs; she nods at Beau as she passes, continuing on and out of sight. Beau does the cool thing and waits for a minute or two; it's really more like thirty seconds, because Beau's not super great at cool.

When Beau gets upstairs, Yasha is standing at the door at the far end of the hallway, trying her key. It doesn't seem to fit the lock, which is perfectly reasonable considering it's the wrong door, the single that she originally got instead of the one she's supposed to be sharing with Beau.

"Down here," Beau says.

"I thought room six was my room," Yasha says, looking accusingly at the door.

"Nah, we're in five," Beau says, unlocking the door with her own key and pushing it open. "C'mon in."

Yasha frowns at the door one last time before following Beau. Yasha's still carrying all her gear, no weight at all for someone as strong as her, and she sets it down next to the bed closest to the door. She unstraps her sword next, putting it aside carefully, and starts taking off her boots.

The excitement is getting to Beau, but she can't quite find the words to kick this thing off. She's going to find the thing to say, a line that's not quite a line but still sounds cool, and she's going to see where this thing goes.

Any minute now.

Just a second.

Yep, right now, right-

"Well, goodnight," Yasha says, laying down. "The light's not going to bother me, so don't worry about putting it out on my account."

And Yasha rolls away towards the wall and shuts her eyes.

A dozen things flash across Beau's mind at once, but the main thread is a deep disappointment. She honestly can't decide if she fucked it up or Yasha got cold feet or this is all a prank by Jester, but she's not sure if Jester is this cruel. Cruel is exactly the right word for it; Jester should have known how much Beau had invested in this, how much was riding on it.

But Beau makes herself stop, forces herself to think it through for a second before she goes off to find Jester and give her hell. This has all the fingerprints of Jester trying to do her a solid, as if a room alone was all Yasha and Beau needed to get together. And she doesn't know where she gets off accusing Jester of deliberate cruelty, because she's pretty sure she herself didn't know the weight of the whole thing until this moment, until she thought she had it and had her hopes dashed. She thought this was a fun thing, nice to think about but not a big deal if it doesn't happen.

She thought wrong, and the night of dismay that she passes a few feet from Yasha is not fun at all.

In the morning, Beau waits until Yasha has gone before getting out of bed, which is not hard considering that Yasha frequently rises at dawn. Beau cleans up a little before going downstairs, in search of some breakfast and some tieflings who owe her an explanation.

Jester and Molly are sitting together at a table, Jester with a glass of milk and Molly with something stronger. There's nothing weird about Jester and Molly sitting together, but Beau knows instantly that their postures are the postures of people who just got done fucking. They're not quite touching, but the way they're in each other's space is very revealing, to say nothing of the fact that their tails are curled together at their ends.

"What the fuck, man?" Beau says, without prelude, dropping into the chair across from them.

Jester looks over at her like she's surprised at Beau's presence. "Huh?"

"You said Yasha wanted to room with me," Beau says.

"Oh, that," Jester says.

"Sorry," Molly says, with a grin.

Beau sighs. "I don't want to fuckin' know."

"You really don't," he says.

"I thought it was gonna be a whole thing," Beau says.

"Well, was it?" Jester asks.

"She was asleep within ten minutes," Beau says, preemptively adding, "In a separate bed, without me." She sighs. "At least she wasn't up long enough to let me make an ass of myself."

"I'm certain you could do that in under ten minutes," Molly says.

"So this time didn't work," Jester says dismissively. "What's the next plan?"

"There is no plan," Beau says, though she wants with everything within her to be past planning entirely and on into doing.

"What's it gonna take to get you into a lightly used barbarian today?" Molly says with a grin, and Beau makes a rude gesture at him. He leans forward. "Listen, you and I are like oil and water-"

"More like oil and tindertwigs," Jester says.

"But I care about Yasha, so I'm going to take a rare step and tell you the truth," Molly continues. "If you're trying to woo her, go straight up and down traditional. Flowers, cute presents, light on the grand gestures but very rudimentary romantic style. She'll eat it up."

"You sure about that?" Beau asks, giving him a look.

"You saw me do my due diligence," Molly says, holding up his hands. He stands. "Now I am getting another drink, and you can take or leave my advice."

"It's nine AM," Beau says to his retreating back.

"That's why the Platinum Dragon in his wisdom gave us small beer," he replies, flashing her the same vulgar sign she just gave him.

Beau tracks him with her eyes for a moment before looking back at Jester. "I thought you were sleeping with-"

"Don't worry about it," Jester says, as Fjord slides into the table's other vacant seat and puts a fresh glass of milk in front of Jester. "Thank you, Fjord," she says primly, taking a sip of the milk.

"What's on tap for today?" he asks, putting a casual arm over the back of Jester's chair. "Got some downtime to fill up."

Beau is about to express her interest in buying potions when Jester speaks up. "Beau is going to court Yasha, and we are plotting what to do."

"Huh," Fjord says, and he doesn't look particularly surprised. "Well, good on ya."

"If she wants girly presents, I'm fucked," Beau says, because the cat's out of this particular bag; there's no going back now that she knows how much she wants this. "I don't know anything about that shit."

"It's not shit," Jester says, insulted. "It's nice to have girly things."

"I didn't mean to call it shit, it's just shit that I'm not into," Beau says.

"You just did it again," Fjord points out.

"Look, the point is I don't know how to deal with someone who wants pretty sh- stuff," Beau says.

"And you're sure she does?" Fjord says. "Molly could be fucking with you."

"I thought Molly was fucking with Jester," Beau counters, just to be a dick.

"Technically-" Jester pipes in, and Fjord puts a hand over her mouth, ignoring it when she bites his fingers.

"In this case I'm willing to take him at his word," Fjord says, letting Jester go. "Haven't you done nice things for women in the past?"

"I'm more of the fucking in a back alley type," Beau says, with a small amount of pride. "I'm doing good to swap names."

"I know all about giving ladies presents," Jester says sagely. "I will teach you."

"I'm not saying you shouldn't, but I just want to advise you that gifts for ladies of the evening might be different," Fjord says delicately.

"You don't give them dirty presents until you've known them for a while," Jester says, like it's obvious. "You start with sweet things." She puts a hand over Beau's, giving it a squeeze. "We will go shopping, and I will show you exactly what to get."

This isn't going to end well. "I'm in," Beau says with a shrug, because she doesn't have anything better.

All she can think about is how much better she wants things to be.

--

With Jester's guidance, Beau procures 1) a bottle of perfume 2) a box of chocolates 3) a stuffed toy owlbear. Beau's organized them in descending order of their potential to work; the perfume is a winner, the chocolate is a good backup, but as much as Jester insisted on the owlbear, Beau thinks it has little chance of efficacy.

And then Beau proceeds not to give any of it to her, because they have to fight a wyrmling.

They don't exactly have to; it's not like trading the Gentleman for favors. It's just a job they've taken on, an in-and-out for a better than average price, since the guy they've contracted with doesn't seem to know the going rates. The point is that it interrupts Beau's love life. It almost interrupts her regular life; all of them are up and down, and it's only thanks to Jester's abilities that they don't stay dead.

They collect their reward and limp back to an inn. Fjord is gone immediately, and Jester arranges for rooms, a task that falls to her because she's the sweet one. Beau sits down for a drink, and she's pleased when Yasha sits down next to her.

"Here is a key for you," Jester says when she comes over, putting it on the table between Yasha and Beau and leaving before she can be questioned about it, all her attention focused on Molly.

"Know what all that's about?" Beau asks, nodding towards the departing gesture.

"I think they're good for each other," Yasha says.

Beau frowns. "Yeah, but which ones of them?"

Yasha either doesn't hear or ignores the question. She drains her ale at speed and picks up the key. "See you upstairs."

Beau sees her window and knows she has to jump, but she also considers it a sin to leave good alcohol. Yasha watches with a look of faint amusement as Beau messily slams her own drink and stands up. "I'm coming with," Beau says, and Yasha shrugs and walks up the stairs, Beau trailing in her wake.

Yasha holds the door open for Beau and locks it behind them, and as she puts down her gear, Beau tries to force down the nervous energy filling her. She needs to be chill about this, not a babbling wreck.

Yasha's nose wrinkles, in a way that looks more wolflike than cute. "Do you smell that?"

"Smell what?" Beau says, and a flash of worry crosses her mind.

"It smells like lilacs and alcohol," Yasha says, and Beau knows the worst has happened. "It's really strong."

"Like in a good way or a bad way?" Beau asks, looking with a heavy heart at the damp spot on her bag.

Yasha sneezes.

"Uh," Beau says, panicking. The chocolates are in a separate pouch than the ill-fated perfume, so hopefully they don't taste like flowers yet. She grabs them and is just about to thrust them in Yasha's direction, but the box is suspiciously light and rattles slightly. She turns around instead, peeking into the package. Every last candy is gone, leaving only the little cups they came in and a note, just the word SORRY in Nott's distinctive scrawl.

"What's this?" Yasha says, and when Beau turns back to look, Yasha is holding the owlbear, which must have fallen out with the candy.

"That's just, uh," Beau says, realizing this is her only chance, slim as it may be. "I just, y'know, I thought, like, maybe you would like it, so I bought it. For you."

"Thank you," Yasha says, and Beau swears she sees the slightest hint of a blush on Yasha's stone-white cheeks. "It's very cute."

"Good," Beau says too quickly. "I mean, it's good that you like it."

Yasha gives the owlbear a pet, stroking along the grain of its cloth feathers. "Why did you buy it for me?" she asks, and Beau can't tell if she's looking at the toy to avoid Beau's eyes or just to admire it.

"Jester- I mean, I just thought you would like it," Beau says.

"Oh," Yasha says, like it wasn't quite the answer she wanted.

"Ah, fuck it," Beau says, and she crosses the distance between them and lays one on Yasha. Yasha is clearly surprised, not reacting for a moment, and Beau feels the owlbear where it's smushed between them, holding them apart, like Yasha is using it as a shield.

It's only towards the end of the kiss that Yasha kisses back, but Beau pulls away anyway. "That's what I was trying to say," Beau tells her.

"Oh," Yasha says again. She goes impassive, impossible to read. "And what are your intentions?"

"My intentions?" Beau says, a little incredulous. "I just, y'know, you're all strong and hot and everything, and I thought maybe-" She clams up, unable to articulate and for once quitting while she's ahead.

"So this is a physical thing?" Yasha asks, setting the owlbear aside, and for the life of her, Beau doesn't know what answer she wants.

"I mean, yeah," Beau says, and Yasha's face shifts in a way that clarifies nothing. "But maybe not just physical? Or maybe not physical at all if you don't- look, I'll take whatever I can get. I just-" Beau pushes on, goes for broke. "I want to be with you."

Yasha says nothing, silent and still for a long moment. Beau tries to find the best way to backpedal, but there's nothing for it. Guess she's spending the night on the tavern floor.

And just before Beau can bail, Yasha leans down and gives her one holy hell of a kiss. Beau's not great at picking up signals, but she can still feel the longing in it, the deep, surpassing desire. Maybe she only knows it's there because she feels exactly the same way, but whatever it is, she just takes it, all of it, picks up everything that Yasha's putting down.

She doesn't know how long it lasts, but when they finally part, Beau realizes that the lightness she's feeling is only partly from the kiss; she's also several inches off the ground.

"Sorry," Yasha says when she realizes, helping Beau regain her feet.

"You don't have to be sorry about a damn thing," Beau says, and she'd like to think she's playing it cool, but she can feel herself smiling. "So I think we have a lot to talk about."

"I think we both hate talking," Yasha says.

"You're damn right about that," Beau says. "Especially when we could be doing something much more interesting."

Yasha blushes. "I haven't done this in a long time," she says. "And it's not usually someone I-" She falters.

"Yeah," Beau says, because she thinks that sentence ends the same way for Yasha that it ends for her.

"So if I seem skittish-" Yasha says.

Beau laces her fingers into Yasha's. "We'll just chalk it up to nerves and not worry about it too much."

"Okay," Yasha says, and she bends down again, kissing her with a kind of single-minded focus that sends a jolt through Beau's body. Beau slips her arms around Yasha's waist, pulling her in close, and they fit together just so, exactly right. Beau loses herself to it, lets everything fall away except Yasha's lips against hers, Yasha's body where they touch. It's barely any time before the kiss turns hot; Beau wants to have that talk, wants to make this a thing that's more than just a one night stand, but she doesn't want it as much as she wants to tackle Yasha into the bed.

In that moment, Beau is convinced that clothing is the worst invention that was ever made; all she can focus on is getting Yasha out of hers, every stitch of it, every little scrap that's covering what Beau wants most in the world. And it strikes her that it's true, that she wants Yasha more than she wants basically anything. Getting her naked is just a small part of it, but she's happy to start with it. The rest will be harder, she thinks, so for now, she'll focus on Yasha's body. It's coming into view as Yasha unceremoniously strips, leaving her clothes in a messy heap on the floor. Yasha is grabbing at Beau's clothing too, urging her to get rid of it, and soon it joins Yasha's, nothing left between the two of them.

Beau puts her arms around Yasha's neck and pulls her down, kissing her intently. She makes a noise into Yasha's mouth when Yasha grabs her ass, using it to drag her closer. As best she can, Beau steers her towards the bed; she doesn't mean to push her onto it, but she's a little overzealous and Yasha overbalances, tipping backwards. She takes Beau down with her, so it has the desired outcome anyway. Beau straddles one of Yasha's thick thighs, grinding down against her for some badly-needed pressure. Beau's caught off-guard when Yasha takes Beau's nipple into her mouth, sucking and biting. It feels so damn good, and Beau bites her lip hard to keep the sound in, to stop herself from alerting the whole tavern to how good it feels.

Beau gives herself a little more time to savor, groaning as Yasha switches sides and leaves biting kisses all over her other breast, but she pulls away, pushing Yasha gently down onto the bed. Beau untangles her legs from Yasha's and cracks her neck, getting ready for the task at hand. Beau loves going down, and Yasha looks particularly appealing laid out like this, all alabaster skin and well-defined muscles. Her knees are together, and Beau eases them apart, the soft tangle of black curls at the join of her legs coming into view. Beau makes an involuntary noise of appreciation at the sight, running her hands down Yasha's inner thighs. She's going to do unspeakable things to this woman, and she's going to make sure Yasha loves every minute of it.

She lowers her mouth to Yasha's cunt, running her tongue along the length of her before zeroing in on her clit. Yasha gasps when Beau sucks it into her mouth, her hand coming down to grip the back of Beau's head. Yasha's not careful about it, almost like she doesn't know her own strength, but there's nothing wrong with grabbing; Beau likes that, Yasha taking over a little bit. She goes where she's led, letting Yasha give away all her secrets, point her in exactly the right direction, right where Beau wants to be most.

She's thought about this before, and she always pictured Yasha being quiet, maybe the type to bite down on her fingers to keep it all in. That's not quite how it works out. Yasha is panting in a language that Beau doesn't speak, but from the tone of it, it's a ringing endorsement. Beau loves it, knowing how much of an impact she's having. She redoubles her efforts, wanting to see Yasha lose it, what she's like when she's overcome. Yasha cries out, and Beau follows the movement when she bucks off the bed, staying right there with her, giving Yasha everything she has.

Beau slides two fingers into Yasha's body; it's easy given how wet Yasha is, and Yasha moans, pushing back against them. Beau gives her what she wants, adding another finger and fucking her quickly, fingers crooked to hit exactly the right spot. Yasha's going wild for it, and Beau panics for a half-second when Yasha's knees come up, trapping her in between Yasha's magnificent thighs. Yasha could almost certainly crush her with them, but Beau's too close to turn back now. She just rolls with it, everything blocked out but Yasha underneath her tongue and around her fingers, and she wonders why she was worried at all.

Yasha cries out when she comes, a desperate noise, almost like she's been wounded. Beau only half hears it, and she doesn't stop, wanting it to be as good as possible for Yasha. She'll stay here as long as she's wanted, as long as Yasha needs her like this. She can feel Yasha's body clenching around her fingers, and she teases it out, keeps moving until there's nothing left but the aftershocks, until Yasha lets her thighs drop open and gently pushes Beau away.

Beau sits back on her heels, wiping her mouth with the back of her hand; she feels good in a hazy kind of way, like a nice buzz. Yasha looks gorgeous still, her pale skin flushed and beaded with sweat. She looks satisfied and exhausted, and Beau knows how she feels. She gets out from between Yasha's legs and lays down next to her, a hand on Yasha's stomach for the contact she craves.

"But you haven't-" Yasha says, though she seems like she still needs a breather.

"Relax," Beau says gently. "I know you're good for it."

"That was amazing," Yasha says, sighing.

Beau lets her eyes linger on Yasha's body; it's not the only thing she wants, but it seems like a waste not to ogle it when it's on offer. "You ain't seen nothin' yet," she says, and Yasha carefully, hesitantly smiles.

Beau will never distrust Jester when it comes to owlbears again.

--

Beau wakes up to the soft sound of water splashing. She cracks an eye open, and Yasha is standing on the other side of the room, still naked, or maybe naked again; she's got a basin of steaming water, and she's cleaning off the bits of mud and wyrmling blood that the two of them thoroughly ignored last night.

"Allow me," Beau says, slipping in behind her and taking the cloth from her, and they don't end up at breakfast for a long while.

When they do make it down, Fjord and Jester are talking to the barman, presumably about food, and Yasha joins them while Beau takes a seat. This leaves her sitting alone with Molly, Caleb and Nott nowhere to be seen.

She and Molly share a long look.

"So," Molly says, and he glances significantly at the bar; he doesn't really say it like he's looking for details, more a confirmation than anything else.

"I hope you locked down whatever it was that you wanted," Beau says, which is the nicest thing she can think of to say about the whole situation.

"I'm going to offer you this just once," Molly says, "and I reserve the right to deny that it ever happened."

Beau cocks an eyebrow at him. "And what exactly are you offering?"

Molly holds up a closed hand. "A well-deserved, immaculately performed fist bump."

"Is this a dual celebration?" Beau asks.

"In more ways than one," Molly says. He waves his hand. "The window is closing."

Beau considers it for another long moment, then taps Molly's fist with hers.

"That never happened," Beau says.

"I've forgotten about it already," Molly says. "Oh look, they have mimosas."

"I'll get down on a mimosa," Beau says.

"I suspect you'll get down on a lot of things, but the only one I'm interested in sharing with you is breakfast cocktails," Molly says.

"Let's stick with that," Beau agrees.

"Then it's settled," Molly says. "Watch the table. The first one's on me."

And then Beau is alone, waiting for the rest of them. She watches as Molly goes to the bar, putting a hand on both Fjord and Jester's backs as he leans in to make his drink order. Yasha turns away from them, catching Beau's eye and giving her a smile as she starts to make her way back.

Beau's line of sight is cut off by Caleb, who sits down with Nott on the other side of the table. "Is there food?" he asks, seeming a little out of it; he was probably up half the night doing wizard shit instead of having the kind of fun that apparently everyone else was having, except probably Nott.

"Just sit tight," Beau says.

"You seem happy," Nott says, looking at Beau curiously.

"Why's that?" Beau asks.

"You didn't tell him to go get it his damn self," Nott says. "You're usually not in such a good mood."

"You know what?" Beau says, as Yasha takes the chair next to her. "I am in a good mood."

Caleb looks between Beau and Yasha, and Beau sees him make the same calculation she did on Molly and Jester. Thankfully, he says nothing about it. "I am glad you are happy, and we will all be happier when there is bacon."

"Bacon is exactly what I need right now," Beau says.

"And this," Molly says from over her shoulder, setting a mimosa down in front of her.

"Thanks," Beau says, picking it up and taking a sip.

"Did you just thank Molly?" Nott asks, looking shocked. She peers intently at Beau. "I knew you were happy, but now I wonder if you're Beau."

"How about we all just eat breakfast and feel good about ourselves," Caleb says. "And we will all have a very good day and not interrogate each other about why today is better than average."

"Amen to that," Fjord says, tucking into his eggs.

Beau eats a piece of bacon and puts an arm over the back of Yasha's chair. If she's lucky, today just might be the new average. She's more than willing to find out.