A/N: Written for FemFeb this year. For such a little thing, this one fought me hard. I'm not happy with the title but I've put off cross-posting due to a lack, so *shrug*


M'Ress stepped through Nyota's door as it opened, eyes adjusting quickly for the lower lights and ears twitching forward as she picked up the soothing string music that was playing. They twitched again when she heard the jingling chimes which had become so familiar over the past weeks.

Nyota stepped out into the main room bearing a tray laden with delicacies. She wore a welcoming smile and the costume from the theater company's most recent performance, finished hours ago. A careful chaos of color, the fine fabric flowed from her shoulders to the floor in layers like waves, cascading over her curves. Delicate bells were sewn into it in a pattern meant to represent constellations of a world known only in faraway folk tales. They chimed as she moved like the laughter of some fairy creature and reflected the light like winking eyes.

Humans weren't M'Ress's usual type at all but some beauty, she thought, burned bright enough to be seen across galaxies. The costume Nyota wore only stoked that fire.

"You're still wearing it?" M'Ress asked, eyes tracking over the costume as it moved with Nyota. Not quite gauze, it offered teasing looks at the skin beneath as the layers slid away from each other before doubling and tripling up again. The tinkling little bells made M'Ress's fingertips twitch, every bit as enchanting as the fantasy beings they invoked. Seeing Nyota still in costume invoked memories of Nyota in her arms, heat heavy in the air between them.

Over her shoulder as she set the tray down, Nyota offered a smile that might've just swallowed down the last of the cream. She said, purring fit to suit the highest bred Caitian lady, "I haven't been able to help noticing how much attention you've paid it." She straightened herself in a deliberate display, inviting the eye on a journey over the lines and curves of her body and added, "I found I rather liked that attention."

M'Ress scoffed, no sting to the sound. She eased closer, soaking up that smile like a beam of sunshine, and said, "Did you really think it was your clothing I was watching?"

A shiver went through Nyota, disappearing into the folds of her costume. She laughed from deep in her throat and stepped forward to meet her– stepped, M'Ress realized, into a position from one of the dances they'd performed together only those few hours ago.

"Do you mean," she said from that same place her laugh had come from, mischief and something else, something baser, twinkling in her eyes like stars, "that you'd give me the same attention even without it?"

A purr rumbled in M'Ress's chest. She reached out, settled her hands on Nyota so that they were in the starting position of their dance. Then she walked them whisper-careful through the gaps in that costume, edging into position for the dance she'd rather do, here and now. "If you take this off," she promised, "I'll pay you even better attention yet."