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And the Little One Said, ‘Roll Over!’

Emma sitting on floor

Emma blinks, rubs her eyes, turns her head, makes a blurry noise. Her mouth is dry.

Dance’s eyes are about a foot from hers. He’s holding out a glass of water with a straw in it.

She pushes an elbow under herself, shoves herself up enough to sip from the straw. She blinks again.

Dance rolls away, sets aside the glass, rolls back against her, and stretches his arm across her side. He smells clean, like soap, and she sighs.

She mumbles, “You took a bath.”

“Mmmmmm,” he agrees, and kisses her shoulder. “Drin helped me.”

“I should too,” she mutters.

“I wouldn’t mind taking another one, if you can help me,” Dance purrs into her ear. “I’m still pretty clumsy.”

Emma blinks.

“The water feels good. I can taste the river in it. Makes me want to go diving or something, which is silly, because it’s so muddy I wouldn’t be able to see a thing.”

She lifts her hand and feels the end of his tail slide up into her fingers exactly as if he’s holding hands with her, soft and relaxed and easy. She lifts it around easily–she can feel he must be helping, because it doesn’t weigh in her hand at all, and it certainly did the night before–and she brings it up to her mouth and kisses his tail, breaths across it gently.

“Mmmm,” Dance says into her ear, and kisses her on the cheek, eyes closed.

“Does that feel good?” she breathes out.

“Mmmmmmmmm,” he mumbles, leaning into her. “If I roll over, may you pet my tummy and make my leg go kick?”

“Oh, that’s too much work,” she says, and licks him.

He opens his eyes wide. “Oh,” he says. “Oh that’s nice.”

“I see,” she says, and smiles wickedly at him.

He looks at her apprehensively.

“Is it hurting?”

He shakes his head.

“You like it? Does it turn you on?”

“I really like it,” he says. “A lot. But it’s not… making me get an erection. That’s weird. All it makes me want to do is kiss you all over, a lot.”

“Kissing all over is good,” she says, kissing it several times, lingeringly. “Maybe after I get a shower would be better?”

He leans into her. “Oh, you smell fine right now,” he says, and starts kissing her breast, licking his way across her chest. Then he lifts his head and looks at her with sleepy eyes, yawns, and kisses her cheek, and curls up with his knees spooned next to hers, and the little tail tip curled trustingly into her hand. “Mmmppph,” he mumbles, and just like that, he’s asleep. Out cold, snoring a little.

Emma shifts her elbow, scratches at her hair, sighs. She thinks, my goodness, what she wouldn’t have given eighteen hours ago for the gift of being able to just knock him out like that, make him rest. She drapes the end of his tail back over his chest, pats him on the arm, and gets up stiffly.

She looks first at the loops of tail flopped lazily along the bedding. It’s freshly oiled, gleaming, and the glittering little flecks are sharp and clear, the stripes of darker skin edged with odd little rainbows and moire colors that change as she shifts her weight and the angle of her head. There’s a fine stitching of blue and white lines that make diamond patterns down the darker spine of it, rather like knitted socks might have. The dark ridges have grown slightly larger in the dimpling along the thick base of the tail, and little ridges are just visible for about a foot of the length. They weren’t that far down his spine yesterday.

Just as she watches, the oil seems to become absorbed, the skin is drying. The magical amazing tail is fading from sight. She blinks, hard, and realizes it is not just a trick of her eyes–the slide coat’s optical properties have come back even stronger. The colors fade out to nothing until she’s seeing just edges and ghosts of his body where the sheet is still oily.

But he’s still sleeping. During the last few nights, the drying skin would have woke him up in pain.

She rubs her face, yawning, and drinks some more water, waiting to see if he’ll need to have more oil and lidocaine cream spread on him, but he sleeps on. His fingers are relaxed, even the little tail tip flopped limp by his chin. She reaches down and rests her hand on his thigh, and then gently on the curve of tail near his knee, and he only turns his head into the pillows a little, and sinks back to sleep.

Her gaze shifts to the heavier man snoring at Dance’s back. Dance doesn’t really have much room to move because Drin is curled up on the far side of the bed, but not quite spooning against Dance’s tail-root. His long legs are almost falling out of bed. His hair is damp, too, like Dance’s, and he’s naked. He looks cold and exhausted and there are lines in his face that weren’t there three days ago. He doesn’t even stir when her movements strain the overtaxed bedframe.

Emma picks up the top sheet flung on the floor and rests some of it lightly across Dance’s tail. He mumbles a little, sliding more of it into the warmth, and she smiles and pulls the top sheet over them both. Nobody moves.

nude woman standing at table
science might help

Bliss, Emma thinks, tipping her head back. Absolute effing bliss. And she goes into the bathroom and turns on the shower and sits for awhile on the closed toilet lid, trying to remember what she did with the stuff from the grocery store. “Right,” she tells herself, and while she waits for the water to heat up in the shower, she reads the directions for the pregnancy test.

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