"Ohh," Jihl moaned in disbelief, crossing and squeezing her aching legs. "What did you do to my vag?" She mewled.

"What I did?" Lightning balked in disbelief, undergoing similar pain. "You stretched my legs taut yesterday and then kept me half the day," Lightning moaned, curled as her spoon. "You had to insist on those stretches. Ugh."

"I need a massage," Jihl whimpered, curled feebly to her girl, whole back aching along with her legs. How many times had she clamped down on Lightning yesterday? Jihl had lost count.

"I want a bath," Lightning murmured in equal pain, or maybe a little more if Jihl was being honest.

"Massages first," Jihl ordered, "Then I'll carry you to the bath."

"…okay," Lightning groaned as she moved to extract herself from Jihl's spooning. The movements sounded painful of themselves. Jihl flopped to her front gratefully while Lightning sat up with her aches.

"Do it hard," Jihl commanded, practically wet for it, she wanted Lightning's hands rubbing into her so bad. If she could be wet anyway. She had little desire to this morning to get that way. Lightning's hands touched her back and Jihl gasped, flattening to the squishy bed as fingers dug into her muscle and skin so painful and yet good, it made her want to cry.

Jihl moaned as Lightning found the knots and crushed into them, smoothing out her poor, tender back. "Help," Jihl mumbled, limp and spent as a rag, unable to even lift a finger against Lightning to stop her in this pain. It'd feel better later, she knew, but good gods. "Liiight."

"These are all your flexibility poses," Lightning pointed out gruffly, working her way down to Jihl's legs, which made her twitch when she reached them.

"We'll get better," Jihl said, struggling to remember and focus on the bliss of yesterday. Damn, Raina had made it seem so easy. "Your mom's so hot."

Lightning sighed and pressed into her legs. "You better make it better with your fingers. How am I supposed to focus with Mom when I can't get my mind off what you did to me yesterday?"

Jihl smiled faintly into the pillows. "You liked it too."

"Hard not to like your girlfriend's legs around your neck."

"Mmm," Jihl agreed, just getting her mind settled into it away from the pain. "Good stuff."

"Okay," Lightning finally said after her ten minutes were up. "My turn."

"Your noises might turn me on," Jihl warned, picking up from the bed as Lightning settled back down for her treatment.

"Don't you dare," Lightning mumbled in warning, making Jihl smile again. As predicted, Lightning made the most lyrical, arousing noises with her hands digging into skin. Jihl went fast to work on providing Lightning's relief as well. Lightning sighed in content, and moaned at the hard spots where Jihl worked in, quite grateful for Umbra strength which made controlling certain spots very much easier to press in. "Lightning," Jihl finally said when she'd worked her well for a few minutes.

"Hmm?" Lightning murmured. Jihl bit her lip against the recollection of why they'd been celebrating last night.

"Yesterday," Jihl said, meaning it, and dallied another few seconds before she finally had the nerve to mention this with her sensitive girlfriend. "You don't…" Jihl scratched that and tried to phrase it less opinionated. She ended up just being frank. "I don't want to be like Roma."

"Like Roma?" Lightning turned to her on her side, brows drawn together tightly. "You're nothing like her, Jihl."

Jihl almost snorted at the immediate defense, but she wanted Lightning to know sincerely. It'd bothered her when she saw it, and it was bothering her again now. "No, Light, you're nothing like her. I come closer than that."

"Is this about Fang?" Lightning asked, sitting up as she ignored the rest of her massage.

"Yes," Jihl finally confessed, jaw tightening in discomfort at the way Lightning looked at her. "You saw how she treated Fang," Jihl pointed out, "Like she was a dog on a leash. I did the same thing, Light. And it wasn't for your reasoning."

"You feel guilty," Lightning picked out, eyes surprised, and it kind of hurt that they were.

"Not like you," Jihl told, wanting to be fully honest, and felt a little worse about it. Was she wishing for guilt? Gods, what had Lightning done to her in this place? "But I don't want to turn out like Roma did." It sent a shiver down her spine, thinking she could eventually become that bad. It'd been a good thing Lightning woke up from it when she had. Jihl would've just kept going otherwise.

Their values were different; Jihl had Lightning, and Roma valued power, but both had simply made Fang a means to an end. "You'll watch me, right? Make sure I don't ever… get that bad?"

Lightning hugged her instead.


Jihl came downstairs first and alone, both of them figuring Raina must not have come yet, else she'd have awoken them already. With Lightning still sore and bent up from yesterday, Jihl had volunteered to get them breakfast today. Well, breakfast at the start of night anyway… but it was a normal calendar for Umbra to be up most of the night, so Jihl was making the effort with Lightning to keep their schedules that way.

Her poor mothers. Jihl could imagine how little they'd slept the first few weeks of her coming in with Lightning. At least they'd get some more rest now, she hoped. Hopefully, everything would be better with Raina again.

Jihl ventured into the cellar and found an unexpected pack rat down there. "Hi, Fang," Jihl ventured, almost making the poor thing drop the foods she'd gathered in surprise.

"Jihl!" Fang said, gathering them up quickly.

"Sorry we couldn't join you for dinner last night," Jihl apologized for that, "Lightning told you I dragged her away for sex?"

"She did," Fang confirmed, picking the last of her things down there, "And it's okay. It was… nice of you to finish my Gui beforehand."

"Mmm," Jihl surveyed her bundle with a raised eyebrow. Two cabbages, peas, carrots, broccoli, almonds, and a chunk of cheese. "Looks like you're preparing something awfully green, Fang."

Fang glanced down at the ingredients in her arms that substantially lacked in what she usually ate. "I was going to make chicken salads," Fang finally admitted to Jihl's raised eyebrow. "Because you finished my dinner yesterday," Fang added lamely, where they both knew otherwise.

"You really don't have to keep doing this, you know." Jihl said in going over to her and taking a few of the awkward balance from her arms.

"I want to," Fang avoided her eyes, guilty of the catering in a way they both knew.

"You're sweet, Fang," Jihl told, lightening her load. "Try not to stress yourself out about it. I'm eating enough."

"Okay," Fang agreed quietly.

"That wasn't a command," Jihl revised so she would know. "If you want to," Jihl smiled lightly, "I'm not complaining about it. But you don't have to, okay?"

"You didn't have to stick your neck out for me either yesterday." Fang murmured in response.

"I sort of did." Fang began following her back up the stairs, Jihl acutely aware of the sweet woman behind her. She only then noticed the raw chickens on the table that she'd completely passed up in heading for the cellar. "Fang," Jihl mentioned, not facing her as she deposited her things on the table. "For whatever it's worth…" Jihl offered with a sigh, "I'm sorry for screwing you with Lightning."

Fang didn't say anything for a moment, but then Jihl felt a hand in the middle of her back that made her stiffen before Fang deposited her things on the table too. "Thanks." Fang simply said, grabbed two of the chickens, and walked away again.

Jihl breathed out in relief. She wasn't a guilt-master like Lightning, and particularly glad Fang wasn't drawing it out. The woman was a breath of fresh air in that at least; Jihl didn't stand awkward tensions as well as Lightning did. "I didn't know what you'd like best in the salad," Fang said, ending it with finality, "You can take whatever you like; I'm just having chicken and some bread."

"Not a green-eater at all, huh?"

"I'm surprised you still are," Fang pointed out, "Cereza went on a strictly meat and breads diet when she was having Rhea. The shift from so little to so much really took her off guard about it. You've been transitioning appetites very well."

What might've been an awkward topic, Fang spoke about with ease of normal conversation. Jihl was grateful for that too; she wasn't trying to guilt her about it or anything. Jihl had never quite taken the time Lightning had to grow to like the woman, but she liked this side of Fang, a little more out of her politeness than usual. "Lightning's always been a food hog; it probably helps that I've seen her eat so much first."

"She inherited her dad's appetite."

Jihl glanced over at the casual mention, but Fang didn't glance back from the chicken. Maybe it'd been a slip. "You know Lightning's father?"

Fang paused in what she was doing for just a second. "Not very much," she finally confessed, "Mostly only from mentions Raina's made about her."

"Do you know who she is?" Jihl asked, not at all bothered or surprised to hear the woman reference.

"I think Raina ought to tell you about her," Fang said, "It's one of the things she'd have discussed with Lightning the first day she could if she'd been able."

"Well," Jihl allowed then, "I suppose we'll find out today."

"Pretty cute what you said to her," Jihl glanced back again to see Fang kneeling before the stone oven now with a small, barely-present, hint of a quirk to her lips.

"You liked that, did you?"

"I think your Yun half was showing," Fang lowered in the first chicken, then added. "If you don't mind the speculation."

It actually made Jihl smile. "Not at all. I suppose I do have a Yun father out there, huh?"

"A willing one," Fang added without bitterness, "She might even know you're alive. Yuns used to offer fatherhood to Umbra couples all the time. Jeanne and Cereza went to your dad when they thought you'd died; I wouldn't put it past them that they found her again if just to inform her you're still okay and alive."

"Yuns had been okay with just giving an Umbra couple children?" Jihl asked in cutting her greens, interested in these bits from Fang.

"Oh yeah," Fang nodded, "Yun culture is different than Umbra. They have children out of wedlock all the time and decide which parent will keep the kids if they're not Courting. It's weird if you don't, actually."

"All willing?" Jihl just checked, reminded of Cocoon where few men shared many women for the pure purpose of pregnancy.

"It is," Fang assured more somberly, "Children are cherished in Gran Pulse, but Yuns don't make each other have them if they don't want kids. It's not like it is in Cocoon between the tribes."

They tread a thin line; while it was acknowledged and understood the Umbra seemed to be the only ones who didn't obey that, Fang closed up fast whenever it was mentioned, which Jihl didn't want right now. "Well, good." Jihl nodded, steering the conversation away from that. "Your clan are hunters, right?"

"The best of Gran Pulse," Fang boasted, and Jihl might've been mistaken, but she thought she heard a small hint of pride when Fang had said it, which wasn't something Jihl had ever heard from Fang before. "All tribes are known for some special talent or talents that they surpass against others; that's ours."

"I know Lightning was mesmerized with you and that behemoth," Jihl agreed, "Maybe you can show us some moves sometime. Lightning would probably really like that."

"Maybe." Fang agreed more quietly in a reserved way.

"Something smells green," a little voice with a scrunched nose announced as Rhea came into the kitchen. Fang's eyes lit a little more as they picked up on Rhea in the kitchen. Jihl smiled faintly. She didn't get it often, but maybe Fang could have a pleasant day for a change.


"You're beautiful," Lightning breathed, kissing Jihl on the lips as her girlfriend deposited a plate of chicken and potato before her while soaking in the hot tub. Her fresh sores ached so bad wih Jihl's doing, but the plate was so nicely smelling, she couldn't hold the extra round against her that morning.

"I know."

"Mom's not back yet?"

"Not yet, but Fang said Mums went off only a little bit ago to Roma's, so hopefully they come back with her."

"Fang was downstairs?"

Jihl nodded, "She made the chicken for us, and she's in a good mood today. Good omen for the day, hopefully."

"That'd be nice," Lightning agreed, laying back, then looked at her. "Do you want to join me?"

"Your magic fingers did me well enough," Jihl passed off, happy to sit at the side of the tub beside her woman. She touched Lightning's head instead and soothed fingers through her damp hair that hadn't yet gotten soaked in the water. She stared at the black strands fondly, remembering their pink tone with a smile.

"I'm still not pro-pink," Lightning warned to keep her ideas from spreading.

"You're so pretty with it."

"Considering I'm aching with limited use of my legs in a bathtub, I'd think the last thing I need is to give you more reasons to top."

Jihl chuckled with a warm grin. "I'd let you top me pink."

"Uh-huh." Lightning wasn't buying it.

Jihl stroked her hair anyway. "It's okay," she forgave, "Black or pink, I'll still give your legs a run."

"Clearly." Lightning laid back her head again, "Jihl, when my mom comes… stick with me, okay?"

"You've nothing to be nervous about." Jihl kissed the side of her head. "I promise."