The sun still hovered over the horizon, staining the ocean of Le Garite with bright hues of red, orange, and yellow. The water appeared almost crystal clear, and to Lan, in this era of peace, the ocean seemed more beautiful than ever.
"Your home planet is really pretty, Lan," Madoka said, resting her chin on her hand as her elbow was propped up on the edge of the boat she and Lan were in. On the evening of Madoka's first day on Le Garite, she and Lan had gotten a small boat and sailed a bit into the ocean.
"It has been a while since I've been able to relax like this," Lan replied, her body tense, as she still had not learned to swim. "I've started to notice just how similar it looks to Earth."
Madoka let out a warm laugh. "It is like being on Earth!" she exclaimed, inhaling a deep breath. "The same air, the same water - we're really not that different at all!"
"We've… we've never been very different," Lan said, almost absentmindedly. She stared at Madoka's reflection in the rippling water. She had known Madoka for over a year now, fought with her, protected her, been protected by her… And even with all that had happened between them, Madoka's face was still as familiar as ever.
Lan raised a hand to her lips. She had kissed Madoka before, although only because Muginami had forced her too. But it hadn't been an unpleasant experience. Lan's heart began to beat faster at the memory; it had actually felt very natural…
A wide smile came upon Madoka's lips as she slid over next to Lan. "Hey Lan, what's on your mind?" she asked as she took Lan's hand into her own. Madoka's hand was strangely warm, Lan noticed as Madoka's fingers intertwined with her.
She could almost hear her heartbeat now, and she even wondered if she was also hearing Madoka's. "Madoka, I…" Lan began to say, but the words died in her throat. So instead, she cupped Madoka's chin with her free hand and then pressed her lips against the other girl's without a moment's hesitation.
Madoka's eyes widened in surprise, but she soon eased herself into the kiss as she released Lan's hand and then wrapped her arms around Lan's back, pressing her more against the side of the boat. Lan could hear the water hitting the boat as it rocked back and forth, and if Madoka was any more forceful, she would end up knocking Lan off the boat.
Lan still couldn't swim. If she fell off the boat, there was a chance she could drown. Her heart beat faster. But Madoka could save her. This wasn't the first time they had faced danger together.
Feeling the fabric of Madoka's jersey pants against her legs, Lan snaked her hands underneath Madoka's jacket, exploring her skin, and she could feel Madoka shivering in delight.
Madoka soon broke the kiss, and upon her flushed face was a wide smile. "Lan…" she said, and if she planned to say anything else more, she lost her chance when Lan kissed her again. She hungered for the taste of Madoka's lips, for the feel of her skin.
They danced upon a fine line. They had done so for a long time now, along with Muginami, but now things felt more intimate. The two of them were alone. If they fell, there was a chance no one would be able to save them. They only had each other to trust in this danger.
It was exhilarating.
Lan's body was almost halfway over water now, with Madoka's body pressing down on hers. She ran her hands all over Madoka's body, feeling those protective arms holding her tight. Madoka could protect her, help her, save her… "Madoka…" Lan breathed, breaking the kiss for just a moment before pressing her lips against Madoka's yet again.
They kissed and touched, feeling as if their body could melt together and become one. They could fall together, and as the sound of the water grew louder, Lan felt as if she was being pushed lower and lower…
Almost too low, Lan realized as the boat was about to flip over.
Madoka grunted as she grabbed Lan's arms and then threw herself back to the other side of the boat as she yanked Lan with her. The boat shook for a few seconds longer, but stabilized quickly enough.
Lan's breathing was heavy and ragged, and she laid her hand over her still-racing heart. "That was… that was fun…" she finally managed to force out.
Madoka just laughed. "At least until you almost fell in!"
Lan couldn't help but smile. "But you saved me, thank you," she said. "I think you should teach me to swim, Madoka."
"Yeah, I think you're long overdo for that!" Madoka replied, nodding as she laid a hand on Lan's shoulder. "And I won't go easy on you, all right?"
In response, Lan raised her fisted hand and flicked her wrist. "Woof," she said, and Madoka drew her into a hug.
If there came a time in the future when Lan had to protect Madoka once more, she would take that chance without hesitation.