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Sheltered [12/5/2019] CH26 (2 MORE Chapters Added!)

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    Originally posted by Szeretlek View Post
    Something "fun" happened to me around these two chapters. On July 26 I had to go spend a few days in a place with no internet, and seeing I finally had some time off, I decided to download all chapters up to the 22nd to my laptop to read them while I was there, and it seems I chose the worst possible moment to catch up u.u Poor me was left in the dark after reading chapter 22 and they were still separated after their argument, I even had to go back to their happy moments from earlier chapter to cheer myself up. And today I come home to find that not only one, but TWO CHAPTERS had been uploaded while I was away, a day after I left no less!

    Seriously though, this story is pure gold, Emily is way to adorable for her own good, next chapter can't come quickly enough! I really like the way you paint Emily's childish inner monologues, they're a lot of fun to read!

    Also please tell me we still have a long way to go with these two, I know it's going to have an ending at some point but I can't bear the thought of having no more Joyce and Emily to enjoy >.<
    Whoa, really? I'm being really honest when I say that I didn't expect people to download this. Really, that makes me stoked. Thank you so much! As for the cliffhanger...sorry about that! Funny how timing works on the chapter releases, though, huh? Lol, thank you for speaking so kindly about my stuff! You really don't know how fun it is to read stuff like this; I really appreciate it. As for how much more the story has left? Truthfully? I haven't thought of a way to end it yet... Mainly because there's a lot I want to hit with these two. Because it's such a slow burn, it both fortunately and unfortunately takes time to progress things. If anything I'm just going to divide the story into longer parts. So as for right now, don't worry too much about it? Thanks for reading!

    Comment


      Hi ! Sorry for not commenting on chapter 22 and sooner on the last two.

      To be honest I was really affraid of what will happen between Emily and Joyce after chapter 22, especially with Emily meeting a new guy. In a way I don't understand it prevents me to write something ...

      Anyway, all your chapters are really awesome as always and you're so good at putting up and down in your story. The relationship between your characters are so believable it really involve the reader into it.

      Please let us readmore soon.

      And as always

      Thank you for your work !

      Comment


        Probably 5 times since you started writing this, I've tried to sit down and get interested in it, but something inevitably interrupted me and I never got into the flow. So today I managed to binge-read all 24 chapters to date.

        It's fun. It was certainly engaging the whole way through, once I settled into the flow of it without life interrupting me. I do like the effort you're investing in weaving life into their dynamic, and showing us the natural clumsiness of a new CG/bg couple trying to navigate between two worlds, having to unwillingly wear masks around others when their feelings for each other are far more intense, and their desires to engage are difficult to suppress.

        Couple minor quibbles, though.

        The setup felt a little rushed to me. These two are complete strangers, and it's all of 4 days before Joyce has her in a diaper? I mean, I get the sense that Emily is something of a clingy person, but it just seems like too much too soon there.

        In Chapter 3, you told us Emily is 5'6". Even if Joyce and her mother are 6'2" (as you indicate with her being "a head taller" and Mom being same height) and her dad is 6'6", I find it difficult to believe that the hostess, waitress, and all the park people would see her as being a child considering she's a fully developed woman, even if she was wearing a sundress. Only a head shorter wouldn't fool someone that easily, not when the hostess (since they were both standing) was probably closer in height to Emily than Joyce. If not shorter (average height for an adult female in the US is just under 5'4"). Certainly not young enough to give her crayons and a kid's menu at the restaurant, never mind a child's admission (typically reserved for age 10 and under) at the zoo.

        It's cool, it didn't disrupt the flow of the story - I likely just imagined her significantly shorter during those scenes to make it work in my own head. Just something you might want to be aware of for a future draft.
        Last edited by WBDaddy; 08-12-2019, 10:22:27 PM.

        Comment


          I have really been enjoying your writing style. I'm still at Chapter 15/16 range, but I wanted to comment that I think you are doing an awesome job with detail, pacing, and character development. Every thing about this has been a great read.

          Comment


            I'm not sure how I missed this story for so long but I found it a couple of weeks ago and just finished reading the most recent chapter and I am loving it! Watching Joyce and Emily's relationship blossom and grow has me routing for them to fix things quickly whenever problems pop up, and nervous about the issues that might come up as they move forward. I can't wait to see how far things go with the babying and how that affects their relationship, as well as how their first night sleeping together goes. I really like the flashbacks, they have really helped make Joyce a much more sympathetic character.

            The only thing I'm disappointed about is that now I have to wait for updates like everyone else instead of binge reading as many chapters as I want like I've been doing.

            Thanks for writing such a great story!

            Comment


              So I just spent the last two days reading this sweet story and wow. I am really liking it. I really like the dynamic you are building between the two and how there is so much tenderness and uncertainty between the two.

              So far my favorite part of the story was when Emmy called Joyce mommy for the first time, since you teased it early on with Emily almost saying it when she was sleepy I had been waiting for that milestone and was so rewarding to read it play out.

              I think you have really crafted great characters here and I think I need to start trusting you a bit more, haha, there have been a few silly moments where I was like nah this doesnt seem right, or how does that progress the story but then as your characters develop I start to see that yeah that actually does seem right. For instance I was initially thinking that Emily did end up diapered really quick but as you developed Emily's anxieties and feelings of inferiority and that she was in Joyce's debt I totally see that happening with someone suffering from anxiety. With Joyce too, I felt at times she was really rushing Emily along way to fast and not paying attention to Emily's feelings and I was thinking ok this only serves as a fantasy and not really progressing the story but as you slowly reveal all the loneliness in Joyce's life it does make sense that she would be rushing things along to get what she wanted, not in a bad way mind you but in a very human way. I really am loving how the personalities compliment each other and start moving towards a goal.

              Anyway I am really enjoying this and can't wait to read more, but look I know how hard it can be to progress a story, even when you have a clear goal in mind. The muses can be cruel mistresses.

              Keep up the fantastic work!

              Comment


                Is this story over?

                Comment


                  Originally posted by Mazamune View Post
                  Hi ! Sorry for not commenting on chapter 22 and sooner on the last two.

                  To be honest I was really affraid of what will happen between Emily and Joyce after chapter 22, especially with Emily meeting a new guy. In a way I don't understand it prevents me to write something ...

                  Anyway, all your chapters are really awesome as always and you're so good at putting up and down in your story. The relationship between your characters are so believable it really involve the reader into it.

                  Please let us readmore soon.

                  And as always

                  Thank you for your work !
                  Thank you for commenting! It's a bit of thing I do, not proudly, for me to be particularly late with responding to comments. I'm sorry this went unanswered for so long. I usually check for comments daily, but the times when I can actually respond to them are...well, small. I'm glad you're finding them so engaging! When I do write stories, I can't help but thinking about Sheltered, particularly because I feel the characters in this are much more fleshed out, meaning I can make a lot more moments impactful on top of having those cushy abdl moments. Thanks for commenting, and I'm really glad you're enjoying it!

                  Originally posted by WBDaddy View Post
                  Probably 5 times since you started writing this, I've tried to sit down and get interested in it, but something inevitably interrupted me and I never got into the flow. So today I managed to binge-read all 24 chapters to date.

                  It's fun. It was certainly engaging the whole way through, once I settled into the flow of it without life interrupting me. I do like the effort you're investing in weaving life into their dynamic, and showing us the natural clumsiness of a new CG/bg couple trying to navigate between two worlds, having to unwillingly wear masks around others when their feelings for each other are far more intense, and their desires to engage are difficult to suppress.

                  Couple minor quibbles, though.

                  The setup felt a little rushed to me. These two are complete strangers, and it's all of 4 days before Joyce has her in a diaper? I mean, I get the sense that Emily is something of a clingy person, but it just seems like too much too soon there.

                  In Chapter 3, you told us Emily is 5'6". Even if Joyce and her mother are 6'2" (as you indicate with her being "a head taller" and Mom being same height) and her dad is 6'6", I find it difficult to believe that the hostess, waitress, and all the park people would see her as being a child considering she's a fully developed woman, even if she was wearing a sundress. Only a head shorter wouldn't fool someone that easily, not when the hostess (since they were both standing) was probably closer in height to Emily than Joyce. If not shorter (average height for an adult female in the US is just under 5'4"). Certainly not young enough to give her crayons and a kid's menu at the restaurant, never mind a child's admission (typically reserved for age 10 and under) at the zoo.

                  It's cool, it didn't disrupt the flow of the story - I likely just imagined her significantly shorter during those scenes to make it work in my own head. Just something you might want to be aware of for a future draft.
                  Heyo, I'm sorry for being so late in replying to this. As the author, I thank you for buckling down to read it, haha. There's a few stories I've read across the forums that I may have to revisit a few times just because I can't get into it for different reasons. I think I tend to sit on a lot of my chapters for a lot of stories, mainly due to writer's block, irl work, or just trying to reason whether what I'm writing into the story is plausible for the characters and the circumstances. So, reflecting on this multi-year story, I'm happy to hear the time being put into it is being appreciated. Of course, by the same token, I can see how stretching it out for so long tends to make the details I use look hazy... I totally agree with your points as far as height and early pacing goes. Come a final draft I'll definitely be addressing those, because even if it is minor, I know how subtle points can cling to a reader if they're odd enough. Thank you for pointing those out, because maybe I have gotten a little carried away in some spots. With that said, thank you for commenting and I hope you continue to enjoy reading!

                  Originally posted by Jeffy25 View Post
                  I have really been enjoying your writing style. I'm still at Chapter 15/16 range, but I wanted to comment that I think you are doing an awesome job with detail, pacing, and character development. Every thing about this has been a great read.
                  Well, considering how late to the party I am, I expect you to be all caught up by now, mister! Thank you for the comment on the overall quality! I'm glad you're enjoying it so far! ('Course, if you're enjoying this, you might be able to find some of my other stuff elsewhere? And here, too!). Until the next chapter! Or two...?

                  Originally posted by bobindiapers View Post
                  I'm not sure how I missed this story for so long but I found it a couple of weeks ago and just finished reading the most recent chapter and I am loving it! Watching Joyce and Emily's relationship blossom and grow has me routing for them to fix things quickly whenever problems pop up, and nervous about the issues that might come up as they move forward. I can't wait to see how far things go with the babying and how that affects their relationship, as well as how their first night sleeping together goes. I really like the flashbacks, they have really helped make Joyce a much more sympathetic character.

                  The only thing I'm disappointed about is that now I have to wait for updates like everyone else instead of binge reading as many chapters as I want like I've been doing.

                  Thanks for writing such a great story!
                  Ah, so it went under the radar? Haha, glad you found it and enjoyed it, though! A good mix of suspense and heartfelt moments is a nice balance to strike, I think. I like to add highs and lows because I think they both work well with each other. One in particular complements the other, in that it makes those rewards feel that much better when punishment has to be endured. If that makes sense. Thanks for mentioning the flashbacks, by the way! I'm glad they went over well! I've gotten some feedback from a few people how they really weren't sure what they were reading at first (As in, they weren't even sure if they were flashbacks to begin with), but it's good to hear a good deal of people are receiving it nicely. And yeah, waiting sucks. Unfortunately, I can't promise you much there. Hahahaha!

                  Originally posted by Ubba View Post
                  So I just spent the last two days reading this sweet story and wow. I am really liking it. I really like the dynamic you are building between the two and how there is so much tenderness and uncertainty between the two.

                  So far my favorite part of the story was when Emmy called Joyce mommy for the first time, since you teased it early on with Emily almost saying it when she was sleepy I had been waiting for that milestone and was so rewarding to read it play out.

                  I think you have really crafted great characters here and I think I need to start trusting you a bit more, haha, there have been a few silly moments where I was like nah this doesnt seem right, or how does that progress the story but then as your characters develop I start to see that yeah that actually does seem right. For instance I was initially thinking that Emily did end up diapered really quick but as you developed Emily's anxieties and feelings of inferiority and that she was in Joyce's debt I totally see that happening with someone suffering from anxiety. With Joyce too, I felt at times she was really rushing Emily along way to fast and not paying attention to Emily's feelings and I was thinking ok this only serves as a fantasy and not really progressing the story but as you slowly reveal all the loneliness in Joyce's life it does make sense that she would be rushing things along to get what she wanted, not in a bad way mind you but in a very human way. I really am loving how the personalities compliment each other and start moving towards a goal.

                  Anyway I am really enjoying this and can't wait to read more, but look I know how hard it can be to progress a story, even when you have a clear goal in mind. The muses can be cruel mistresses.

                  Keep up the fantastic work!
                  Yeah, I figured ya might like the "Mommy" moment. I like to leave some foreshadowing here and there. As much as I like to get to the good parts right away, while I can probably do better in some spots, I think I've done an overall decent job of sticking to that rule of maintaining a decent build-up. Otherwise I don't think I'd see this project as much as a story rather than just a highlight reel, if that makes sense. And yes, trust! A lot of stuff that goes on between the characters in any of my stories I really tend to fight myself on. It's a constant issue of assuming whether or not the reader may or may not understand the character's actions and dialogue unless I explicitly walk them through it. For some examples I think it's warranted, but for other things I try to let it play out simply because I think the reader by that point might think to themselves "this makes sense". That's probably one of my favorite things to read in user comments; analysis of characters, proving I did a good job of trying to convey who they are as people in the story. Thank you so much for commenting, and thank you for being so understanding with release dates, hehe.

                  Originally posted by timanator512 View Post
                  Is this story over?
                  Nope! It's not done.

                  Comment


                    25 - Home Again, Home Again

                    “...”

                    “...”

                    “...”

                    “...”

                    They stood in a square formation, one pair parallel to the other. Two with awkward expressions, and the other with surprised. One of the four however was covered in a bit more dirt than the others...

                    “I hate to be the bearer of bad news,” Frank finally broke the silence between the four. “But I think someone did have too much fun...”

                    The next response was Emily spurting a giggle from her mouth, even though she wasn’t too pleased with herself either. Mary simply watched with a raised brow, and by chance Joyce happened to catch her eye a few times.

                    “Petting zoo?”

                    Joyce was starting to look a little bashful. “Uh-huh...” In retrospect, this probably wasn’t going to look good in front of her mom.

                    “Were the piglets fun to pet, at least?”

                    “Pig…? Oh! Yeah, they were a little hyper though.” Emily had quickly forgotten Joyce’s white lie, and by this point her cover-up was so weak, it was wasted energy to even try.

                    “Emily,” Mary looked as if she were holding back a smirk. “I...think you maybe played a little too hard with the animals...”

                    “They’re the ones that played with me!” Apparently being an animal herself is where she drew the line. “Joyce gave me a bunch of food to feed them, but then they knocked me over and ate it all.” Ridiculous, she knew, which is why she was trying to choke down a laugh.

                    “So you instigated this?” Mary accused, looking right at her daughter. Everyone was still in a good mood, but there was nothing like lighthearted tension to keep the party afoot.

                    “I didn’t plan for her to get knocked over! It’s not like I wanted her to get dirty!” Just for good measure she tried to play with a few spots on Emily’s dress again, hoping she could get a small bit of dirt out of it.

                    Frank came over to brush some leftover dirt off of Emily’s hair. “Hmm. Well, while Emily gets cleaned off back at the house, how about we brainstorm what we’ll do for dinner then?”

                    “I think I could go for takeout.” Joyce stretched her arms. “Just a thought, though!” Whenever her parents were around, it especially made her want to be lax with her food choices. High dining had already become less frequent now that Emily was in the picture, so the occasional visit from her parents only added to that.

                    “Takeout doesn’t sound bad?” Frank looked to his wife with a shrug.

                    “That should be fine. That way Emily can work at her own pace in the bathroom,” Mary agreed, but Emily started to feel a little guilty now that her needs were being taken into account. Still, takeout did sound good…

                    “I think a sub or pizza sounds good right now,” Emily volunteered.

                    “Dirty girls don’t get to make suggestions,” surprisingly, Mary huffed.

                    “Huh? Why not?” Emily fired back with a slight whine. “It’s Joyce’s fault!” Without hesitation she threw her partner under the bus, forcing her to stop giggling about Emily’s teasing and focus on her own.

                    Now it was Joyce’s turn for the defensive. “Maybe I bought the food, but you were the one that was feeding them!”

                    “Yeah, but I didn’t buy a whole mountain of it!” It was probably at least four times smaller than her hands made it out to be, but Emily shaped a gargantuan area with her hands to symbolize the mass of goat pellets.

                    “Alright, kiddos, come on, off to the car.” Frank moved them along as they continued their joking, secretly half-serious banter.

                    “Still, Emily,” Frank did manage to sneak an attack in. “You don’t strike me as the type that’d stop a cute animal from trying to smother you.”

                    “No I wouldn’t! What happened was because there was a lot of them! You try being my size and fighting off a swarm of tiny goats!” She was so caught in the moment that she had abandoned the pig story altogether. No one called her out on it.

                    “Whoa,” Frank put his hands up in defense. “Joyce, reign her in, I think I went too far!”

                    Emily grinned to herself, almost considering whether to jokingly growl or not. She’d never be able to reach a decision though, because with a quick yelp escaping her she was swept off her feet and into the air.

                    “Ah! Wait, Joyce? What are you doing?” Like their nightly routine, she was suspended in her caretaker’s arms. It wasn’t an infant type of carry, but a princess one.

                    Joyce looked confused. “You heard my dad, didn’t you?” She looked to Frank, sounding a bit concerned. “Dad, I think we grabbed one of the monkeys instead of Emily. We better go return this one.”

                    “Put me down already!” Emily whined with a laugh, trying to speak reason into the father and daughter who were sharing a laugh amongst themselves. Usually she’d be concerned about the undertones to this, but finally she was able to make a distinction between what was intimate and otherwise plain fun.

                    “I don’t suppose you could just keep her?” Mary chimed in. “She looks like Emily enough?”

                    “Hmm...” Requiring further inspection, Joyce rubbed noses with the girl. “I suppose you’re right, but she does need to be cleaned. I’ve washed our neighbor’s dog a few times before?” She grinned, with a smile only Emily seemed to pick up on. “How hard can it be?”

                    Still midway in her princess carry, Emily leaned her head past Joyce to Mary and Frank, quietly mouthing ‘save me!’. Their sudden outburst of laughter had Joyce confused when she turned back. “What did you say?” She looked down at Emily, who was busy playing innocent.

                    “Alright Emily, ride’s over.” Joyce set her back on her feet, now that they were gathered around the car and in the parking lot. There was an orange glow of sunlight looming over the wall of trees on the outer edge of the parking lot.

                    “So gang, what do we think?” Frank surveyed. “Was the zoo a good choice?”

                    “I thought it was fun!” Joyce proudly spoke.

                    “Me too.” Emily agreed.

                    “It was nice seeing all the different animals. And certainly had its ups and downs for some...”

                    “Then I suppose it’s a good job on Emily’s part. Thanks for keeping us busy today!” Suddenly the attention was flipped onto Emily, and with so much praise and little place to put it, she shuffled awkwardly.

                    “Um...no problem.”

                    They started getting into the car, but Emily was somewhat reluctant. “Joyce?” She gave herself another glance. “Is it really okay for me to?”

                    The scenario was already playing through Joyce’s head. She’d insist it would be okay for Emily to sit in the car, dirty as she was, but of course, she’d still be beside herself as she tried to sit on the seat as little as possible, taking a solid ten minutes to find out that it didn’t matter whether you started from point A, C, D, E, or F, because regardless, you’re always going to land on B.

                    Emily was doing just that, hoping to find a way that her dress would be as little involved as possible. Joyce appeared right behind her though as she placed a hand on her shoulder and firmly guided her into the seat.

                    “But the seat’s gonna get dirty!”

                    “It’s not like we can help it, silly. Let’s call it a reminder to bring a towel in the future?”

                    Emily could feel the digits to her imaginary debt increasing, as each particle of dirt rub deeper into the leather seating. She looked visibly uncomfortable.

                    “Should I ask my mom if you can ride in her lap?” Quietly, she whispered into Emily’s ear. How couldn’t she smile with a startled reaction like that?

                    She was still stiff as a board, but it was progress, somewhat.

                    “Don’t forget your seatbelt! And thanks for going down easy; I was almost afraid the zookeepers would think we really were stealing one of their monkeys!”

                    Emily narrowed her eyes and started to say, “You and your jokes are really starting to drive me banana-!” and before she could finish her line, her listener had swapped from an actual person to a car door. A window, to be specific, with Joyce behind it sticking her tongue out, then walking back around to her door. Emily kept her grumbling to a minimum. This was probably because of her cuddling threat…



                    “I guess not even a little dirt gets in the way of her habits,” Mary chuckled, catching a glimpse of the slumbering Emily beside her. Even with jitters, all it took was the hypnotic sensations of a moving vehicle to talk her down.

                    “I guess that’s her one kryptonite,” Joyce chuckled. Well, there were certainly many more weaknesses she had, but those were reserved for the director’s cut…

                    “Still envy that about her,” Frank spoke with no shame.

                    “Think she could manage that on a plane?” Mary asked. “If so, I think I’ll need to ask her what her secret is.”

                    “One of life’s many mysteries!” Joyce ended it with a laugh. “To be honest, I was a little worried she wasn’t going to fall asleep so easily... The last thing I’d want is for her to worry about getting the car dirty.”

                    “She does seem to care an awful lot,” Frank added, and Mary ‘mmm’d’ in agreement.

                    It was true, and to hear others acknowledge it openly put a small smile of pride on Joyce’s face; as a partner and a mother. But, if today had taught her anything, it also meant she was too caring, that in the negative sense. In exchange for connecting deeply with others, she made herself just as vulnerable to the bad feelings as much as the good ones. And once there was that bond, any sort of hiccup was something she assumed was her fault, yet it couldn’t be further from the truth.

                    Still, on a thoughtful note, Joyce happily agreed. “She does… It’s something definitely unique about her.”

                    “Oh? Unique?” her mom didn’t seem to let a moment pass by on that remark. “Do you mean that in a good way or bad?”

                    “Good, of course.” Joyce was quick to respond, just to steel her own resolve. The timing was the perfect spur for humor though, as the older couple started laughing.

                    “I think we’ve started to see just how protective you are of her?” Mary chuckled, leaving Joyce in yet again an awkward spot. Suddenly she was wishing Emily hadn’t left her all alone while she went off to play in dreamland…

                    Of course she sounded flustered, trying to explain herself, “...Well...of course I am...”

                    “Relax, sweetheart,” Mary laughed once more, but thankfully Joyce didn’t take offense to it. “It’s a good thing. Though, to be blunt, what’s so funny is how you seem like a totally different person now.”

                    Just as Joyce was going to count it a victory, her mom had gone and said that.

                    “Di...different?” It could go either way with that. “...How?” Was she really acting that strange? No, strange didn’t describe it at all. Of course she was a different person, all thanks to Emily. She was better for it. Rather than stuffing wishful thinking, pipedreams and silly desires in a dark corner, she finally knew what it was like to embrace them. Life certainly had a renewed shine to it now.

                    “It’s not a bad thing, I promise.” Mary assured her daughter, and Frank agreed all the same. “In fact, I think I like seeing you like this much more.”

                    “Well...like seeing me like what?”

                    “Not that you weren’t before, honey,” Frank took the reigns, “but, to put it simply, happy.”

                    “I’ve never not been, though?” She was happy to feel like she’d grown since being with Emily, but truthfully, she didn’t want to make a spectacle out of it.

                    “We know you love your job; the work combined with the payoff, but we’ve never known you to be someone very interested in romance?” All this talk about herself was starting to feel weird… At least with her parents.

                    “Hon, I think we’re embarrassing her...” Frank spoke in a hushed, yet obvious voice. He cleared his voice to make it clear, “Joyce, all we mean is that we’re seeing a new side to you, and we think it’s a good thing.”

                    They’d compromised to an addition, but truthfully, a transformation was a better way to describe her character. All the same, there were few moments when Joyce showed any intimate affection for anyone in front of anyone relevant, especially her parents. There were moments in the far, far distant past, sure, but never to this degree.

                    The bounds of Joyce’s love was as uncharted to her as it was for the spectators. The chase was so captivating, it was easy to forget just how far she herself had come already. Day after day, watching Emily slip so wonderfully into a cushier mindset and routine, never once had she stopped to consider where she herself was drifting toward or from. And even if it wasn’t totally positive, it was still an example of that seemingly unnoticed change.

                    “Still, whatever you’re doing, clearly it’s a good thing. I think you both have each other wrapped around your fingers!” Mary laughed, and Frank wasn’t far behind. “Even with that said though, you better keep her happy, otherwise I’ll be right back over here to give you a piece of my mind...” Mary cooly warned, whilst Joyce was having a double take.

                    “Wait, what? Aren’t you my mom? Doesn’t that mean you’re supposed to be looking out for me? Not Emily?” She let out a laugh.

                    “Of course I am! And this is how I’m doing it.”

                    A happy wife, a happy life. The words echoed in Joyce’s head, and she snickered.

                    “Alright, well, no promises, but I’m pretty sure I know all the right buttons to keep her content. I just hope Emily’s parents are going to care about me like you guys do for her...”

                    “Oh? You haven’t met them yet?” Frank asked.

                    “No, not yet. Come to think of it, we haven’t really talked about them much…” Joyce started to think to herself. “Then again, who knows? Maybe they’ll drop by our doorstep by tomorrow morning? You know, maybe call less than 24 hours in advance, throw our everyday routine in a tizzy...”

                    “Hon, I can’t help but think she’s talking about us...” Frank jokingly nudged.

                    “I think so too...” Mary wasn’t laughing so much.

                    “Joking!” Mostly. Joyce laughed in her mother’s place. “We managed, seeing as we were able to make a day out of today?”

                    “Joyce, maybe if you knew what it was like to be frugal you’d see why we took as good of a deal as that.” Frank spoke with a sense of pride. The pride of saving money. “Penny saved is a penny earned!”

                    True, but being brutally honest in her own head, Joyce could afford to lose a few pennies. Not that she didn’t respect her dad’s philosophy, but with the extra concern it took to be like that, the price to be carefree wasn’t something Joyce couldn’t handle.

                    “Is Emily like that at all? Someone who spends money like there’s no tomorrow? Like a certain daughter we might know of?” Now it was Mary’s turn for payback.

                    “Actually, I’ll have you know,” Joyce curtly replied, “I spend frivilously plenty enough for the both of us. I’ve already had to tell her plenty of times her money is no good.”

                    “Really? You don’t let her spend anything?” For some reason, finally hearing it from someone else other than her own thoughts and Emily, it might sound a bit weird.

                    Tactfully reorganizing her approach, Joyce tried again. “Uh, well, anything that we do run into, it’s just more convenient for me to pay.”

                    “Does that bother Emily at all?”

                    “At first, it did, but I keep telling her I don’t mind...”

                    “Are you letting her contribute at all?”

                    “W-well, yes...emotionally...” This wasn’t sounding so spectacular anymore.

                    “Joyce, I think it’s clear that you’re the purse strings in the relationship, but I would still take Emily’s feelings into consideration. I won’t say I know how she feels, but I know I’d feel a bit insecure if I weren’t pitching something in.”

                    “I let her keep her money so she can buy her own stuff.” She didn’t want to be rude, but frankly she didn’t need Emily’s money. However, it was a given that she needed Emily and all the love she could give. Didn’t the two balance each other out?

                    “But from the sound of it, even there you pick up the tab?” An obvious hole had just been poked.

                    “Okay, okay, fine.” Joyce sighed. “Maybe you guys have a point.” They did. And thinking about it now with a fresh perspective and an outside opinion, she didn’t feel great to admit that these were all the same valid complaints Emily had raised with her. And reflecting on how she waved them off so simply, it only meant how much Joyce needed to work on herself.

                    Thankfully the rest of the car ride consisted of less serious topics. At some point Emily did wake up to rejoin the conversation, only after getting past a few teases about her sleeping habits. Emily kept trying to glance at the seat underneath her, looking for dirt, but Joyce need only threaten to make her walk home if she kept worrying about it.

                    “Home again, home again!” Frank walked through the apartment door, then looked at Emily expectantly.

                    “Uhm...what?” Was it something about the dirt?

                    Frank kept the suspense though, apparently giving her a hint to the phrase. “Jiggity?”

                    A hint that made Emily even more confused. She was probably reading too much into it, but it confused her no less. Her silence lingered for too long, and Frank sighed.

                    “Jig.”

                    “Home again, home again...jiggity jig?” Emily put it all together, but in place of the enthusiasm Frank was using, she substituted for confusion.

                    “We’ll need to work on that.” Frank sufficed, and Emily stood in the shoe area, bewildered as she watched him walk off.

                    “What’s with that look on your face?” Joyce came in next, eyeing her with a curious smile.

                    Emily turned to her, then said the dreaded words, “Home again, home again, jiggity jig?”

                    Joyce’s smile turned into a frown. “Oh, don’t tell me he’s teaching you that too?”

                    So she did know? “It’s a weird phrase, isn’t it?”

                    She let out a deep sigh. “Emms, I think I need to keep you in sight even around the apartment...” Nervously looking from side to side as she leaned in close, “He could be anywhere, waiting to grab you at any minute…! Ah! My poor Emily!” Pretending a sob, she pulled Emily in for a rocking hug. “What will I do if you become like my dad?! You’re too sweet for that!”

                    In a muffled voice, thanks to Joyce’s chest, Emily mumbled, “I think you guys have a vendetta against Frank...”

                    “Don’t worry, I’ll keep you safe!” Still with the exaggerated act, Joyce released her. She sat her down on the ledge where the hardwood floor began, then took the liberty of undoing her sandal straps for her.

                    “So you had fun today?”

                    “Mhm. Lots.” Emily smiled to herself. There was a slight bump along the way, but given what it was about, it was something they were bound to run into at some point. And now that they’d overcome it, Emily felt better than ever. Michael’s advice from earlier really did have some merit to it…

                    “Good, because I did too. And I never did say it properly, but I’m sorry about getting you so dirty...”

                    “It’s okay.” Emily exhaled through her nose once the sandals came free; a pair of shackles removed from her feet. “I thought it was funny, but I was just worried about getting your car dirty.”

                    “Would you stop that? Emily, there’s no chance of making me mad at you, especially over something I’m responsible for. Really, don’t sweat it.”

                    Emily’s response was to wiggle her toes.

                    “I’m sorry? What was that? I don’t think I heard you.” Joyce leaned in with her ear, and Emily could feel her hand squeeze the ball on her foot. Again, nothing from Emily other than a smirk, which led to Joyce’s disappointed sigh. “I suppose we’ll have to do this the hard way...”

                    Emily didn’t have time to think, as with that same hand gripping her foot, it pushed underneath it with great force, knocking Emily’s back on the floor so that her feet were primed for Joyce’s fingers which were already moving in for the kill.

                    “No, please no!” Amidst her pleas, Emily was already helplessly giggling.

                    “Oh? Now you’re ready to talk?” Joyce smirked as she kept teasing Emily’s foot with the faint scrape of a nail. She tut, tut, tutted. “Honestly, what am I going to do with you?”

                    The situation was mind over matter, because even before Joyce started tickling the girl, she was close to tears just from the mental baggage of all the past tickle attacks; loads of pleasurable, silly trauma weighing her down.

                    “Okay, I’m going to let you go, just this once, got it?” She tried to look stern, but the smile behind it was crumbling any sort of iron-hard authority she had.

                    Emily kept shaking her head yes so hurriedly, you might think it was ready to pop right off.

                    Slowly, Joyce unclasped her hand, and just as there was enough wiggle room, Emily quickly scurried herself across the floor, mainly by sliding on her bottom, right against the wall breathing frantically.

                    “Having fun, you two?”

                    The exciting tension was thrown into disarray, hearing the third voice. Both turned to the source, which was Mary, the caboose to the quartet, hanging in the doorway, looking quite entertained.

                    Though she surprised them, Joyce kept it cool as a cucumber, welcoming her inside. “Hey mom, just finishing up taking off our shoes.” And to prove her point, that’s just what she started to do with hers.

                    “Uh-huh? Is that so?” With Emily still watching from the wall, Mary sat herself down next to Joyce. Then in a lowered voice, with a strange tone about it, at least to Emily, she spoke. She’d known what Joyce could sound like if she wanted to sound stern. Loving, but ultimately an order that you weren’t supposed to refuse. In Mary’s case, there was probably that same amount of concern, but right beside it was an even heavier authority, so much that if she were to talk to Emily, she wouldn’t think twice about disobeying. She wouldn’t think of it once. The idea of rebellion seemed foolish from the get-go.

                    “Joyce?” The atmosphere had changed completely.

                    “...Yes?” Joyce suddenly didn’t seem so mighty anymore…

                    “You weren’t bullying Emily, were you?”

                    “Hah? A bully, me?” Well, maybe if she needed to strongarm a business deal, but in the home? With Emily? “Never!”

                    Mary turned her head over to Emily, who was watching with an odd curiosity.

                    “Emily, is this true? Don’t let her push you around, you know?”

                    Emily almost spurted out a laugh. The cards were now in her favor. She held all the power, the dice were loaded, and she need only speak a single word that would dictate her partner’s fate.

                    It was so simple, and here was her chance. Just to think, no more tickle attacks! No more bedtimes! All the coffee she could ask for!

                    “Yes.” However, she betrayed herself.

                    Merciful? Maybe.

                    No. Deep down, she knew exactly why she protected Joyce.

                    Mary held all the power, sure, but her reach and reign was only as effective as she was here in the flesh. Give it a few more days and that’d change completely. It was all one big trick; a trap fate had cleverly disguised for Emily! If she betrays Joyce now, there’ll be nothing around to protect herself in a few days time.

                    “See?” Joyce kept up the act, standing back up, barefoot this time. “When have we ever been anything but peachy?”

                    Mary seemed to be trying to read through the lines, but she ended it with a shrug. “If that’s what you both say! And Emily, I know my daughter can be a bully, so don’t let her tease you too much...” Joyce was about to leave the room, but spun her head around.

                    “I am not a bully!”

                    “Well, you certainly are a leader?” Seeming to form a connection between the two personalities.

                    Joyce groaned, and a giggle escaped Emily, leading both Summers to stare at her; one curious, and the other jokingly annoyed.

                    “You. Bath. Now.” Joyce stood her up and helped usher her off, quietly mumbling about her mom all the way.

                    It felt like a breath of fresh air being away from her mom, once the two sealed themselves off in the bathroom.

                    “Wouldn’t a shower be better?” Emily passively watched Joyce turn on the faucet for her, lingering like a fly on the wall. “I coulda ran the bath by myself, too, you know.”

                    “Whelp, since I’m already here, I guess we can’t do much about that” Joyce helplessly shrugged, moving over to the towel cabinet. The way she was so absorbed in a task she wasn’t even responsible for, Emily could take a hint.

                    “Does being teased by your mom bother you that much?”

                    “Yes,” Joyce quickly replied; seemingly no filter. “Well, no. Not really.” Quickly, she back-pedalled. She let out a complex sigh. “She just...” She looked to Emily, as if the answer were drawn somewhere on her face. “Just… I don’t know; gets under my skin?”

                    With a smirk Emily’s head drifted in a different direction as she left a passive comment along the way. “Sounds like somebody I know...”

                    “I can always make this water boiling hot, you know?”

                    Emily stuck out her tongue with a small giggle.

                    Joyce stayed by the tub, making sure to give it the occasional temperature reading. Maybe she wasn’t going to make it scalding… If she did, her baby girl wouldn’t be so much of a snowflake anymore and instead a permanent tomato.

                    Emily, relaxing in her own spot, was finally feeling the grime she was covered in, including a few crusty spots from the packed dirt. She definitely was ready for a bath. But before that, a different kind of nature was calling to her, and for once she didn’t have a friendly diaper to answer the door for her. This time she had a...particularly ‘solid’ guest waiting to be let in...or out.

                    She walked over to the toilet, lifting her dress to undo the button on her shorts, then after dropping them to her ankles, only now did she take stock in the other person in the room. It took a visual cue to stop her, now remembering Joyce was with her.

                    She stopped, but not completely.

                    ...Truthfully, how different was this from baby-play? If anything, this was less embarrassing. Sure, what she was doing was more visible, in a sense, but at least now her business was being done in something significantly more dignified. Besides, at the rate they had their mommy-and-me time, access to a toilet was a blessing.

                    “Did you plan on using the toilet?” Joyce spooked her from her thoughts as she called over to her.

                    “H-huh?” Clueless, Emily looked at the shorts around her ankles. “Oh! Uhm, yeah. Why?”

                    Joyce could have made a spectacle of it, but she chose not to. Instead, she’d celebrate the small moment with just herself. It felt like ages ago, remembering the first time she had Emily on the toilet. It was certainly stressful, as well as emotionally exhausting for the girl. Yet another showcase of her astounding progress… The best she could do was limit it to a smile.

                    “Are you just peeing? Or is it, the, uhm, other one?”

                    “The...” still with a straight face, Emily’s cheeks still grew red. “The other one...”

                    Joyce shook some of the water off her testing hand then finished the job with a towel. “Wait right there then. Keep those panties on until I get back, got it?”

                    As if to prove it to herself, Emily lifted the front of her dress, catching a glimpse of her perfectly clean, striped panties. The goats may have been fierce, but thankfully denim shorts had been her knight in shining armor. Panties covered in dirt sounded ugly and uncomfortable, and lord help her if one of those goats got too close... Though, why did Joyce want her to wait? “Uh, okay?”

                    Joyce opened the door and walked out, leaving a small crack in the doorframe. And for a brief moment Emily was being a little too air-headed, because she realized someone walking by in the hallway might be able to see her standing around, flashing her underwear.

                    The dress quickly came down.

                    Joyce soon came back in, only this time she was accompanied by another person.

                    “P-Pip?” Emily blinked, watching as Joyce with the ball of stuffed mochi in her arms came over to her. What she hadn’t stopped to consider was how quickly she was taking to the name; recognizing

                    “Yep. Don’t tell me you forgot already, did you?” She gave her a second to think, and yes she did remember. It was quite the unfortunate memory. One that she could practically smell.

                    “Ew.” Emily scrunched her nose a little.

                    “Smelly, yes, but we’re trying to make that easier.” Joyce helped Emily’s arms into a hold on her friend. “And here, I’ll get these for you...” Her hands went under the skirt of the dress and down Emily’s panties went. She felt especially bare downstairs now.

                    “Wait, won’t Pip get dirty if I hold him?” Suddenly, Emily was looking for a spot to put him down. Maybe Joyce didn’t mind getting her expensive and lavish things dirty, but Emily didn’t feel the same about her much cheaper possessions.

                    “Then if that happens we can give him a bath, too. Things can be cleaned if they get dirty, would you believe it?” She smirked, once more playing into Emily’s silliness, just so she could realize it herself.

                    With one arm Emily lifted her dress, sitting down on the toilet, getting herself comfortable. It felt a little weird sitting on the toilet again. Pleasant, but different from the usual.

                    Still, it felt a little weird making a bowel movement in front of Joyce, but with everything in the past taken into account, this sort of display seemed surprisingly tame.

                    “...Now what?”

                    “Now,” Joyce came closer again, adjusting her arms for her, positioned like a rollercoaster bar for Pip to be locked in tight. “Once um...you squeeze down there, you squeeze Pip with your arms. It’s kind of like in the movies when someone bites their teeth on something when they get a shot or surgery?” Ugh, too graphic for Emily. All those scenes tended to involve either blood, gore, or both. Her analogy made its point, though.

                    And so once she felt the movement coming, she squeezed Pip, then understood exactly what the goal was. While she pushed on her bowels, she felt a small strain in her muscles in her core. By squeezing Pip she was inadvertently putting more force into it, lightening the load on a single section of her body. She was training Emily to have smoother bowel movements?

                    An involuntary sigh escaped her once it plopped into the toilet water.

                    “All done?”

                    Emily sheepishly nodded her head.

                    “Perfect. I’ll take back this guy then,” Joyce reached for Pip, giving Emily a chance to disarm him as he exchanged caretakers. “And don’t worry, he’ll be waiting for you tonight, okay?”

                    “I don’t really need him, you know?” There was a small sense of guilt attached to that. Pip hadn’t done anything wrong, after all…

                    Joyce, however, looked 1 syllable short of mortified, who immediately cupped her hands over Pip’s imaginary ears. “Emily! I can’t believe you!”

                    “I wanna take my bath, now.” Emily haughtily scoffed. “Please vacate yourself from the premises!”

                    Joyce chuckled as she held the stuffed toy to her side with a single arm. Speaking in a deep and loyal voice, she said, “With pleasure, your majesty!” Backing up with a bow and outstretched hand, she excused herself from the bathroom, shutting the door behind her.

                    There were still the lingers of a smile on her face as Joyce looked at the door one last time, though it transitioned into a curious look, thinking about when she walked back in with Pip.

                    Did I ever close the door after that?

                    She chose not to dwell on it for long, walking back to her room to drop Emily’s friend off.

                    Pip stared back at her as they exchanged silent glances at one another, and Joyce spun on the ball of her foot, closing the door behind her as she rubbed her stomach.

                    “So very, very, very hungry~!”

                    Comment


                      26 - Bump in the Night

                      Impatient couldn’t even begin to describe how she was feeling.

                      Every few moments the sound of wet skin slapping against the tiled floor could be heard.

                      Was it dry yet? Emily rubbed a strand of hair between her fingers. She could feel a few drops of water secrete from it.

                      No, of course not.

                      She went back to tapping her foot again, staring at her displeased self in the foggy mirror. Couldn’t this thing dry any faster?!

                      She was a mess. While she was confined to the bathroom, everyone else was probably getting all the food out and ready. Her ears could have been playing tricks on her, but she was at least 99.99% positive she heard Joyce leaving to go pick up the food a while back.

                      They were probably eating without her already; enjoying such delicious, scrumptious, fattening foods. Crispy, golden fries, oily and vinegary subs and savory, cheesy pizza… She could imagine each one of them enjoying it all to their hearts’ content. Everyone was feasting. Everyone but Emily.

                      “Come on…!” Emily started to moan to herself, specifically her hair. “Can’t you dry faster?!” Little did she know, a blow dryer could have solved her dilemma or at least minimized it, but a hungry stomach has been known to distract the mind.

                      There was a knock on the door.

                      “Who is it?” Emily called, but never looking away from the mirror. Maybe she could use a second towel…

                      “It’s me?” Joyce spoke from the other side. “Can I come in?”

                      Was she just here to tease Emily some more? Make fun of how she got to eat food and Emily didn’t? Food really did make her crazy. She unlocked the door and in came Joyce. Joyce, and something else...something far too tempting for the girl.

                      “Is your hair done drying yet?” She spoke so casually, as if she didn’t know what she was doing, the demon.

                      Emily wordlessly stared at what was in her hand.

                      “Emily? Hello? You-houu?”

                      “Did you just come here to tease me?” Emily annoyedly huffed. How could she not? Joyce was holding what Emily revered most.

                      The french fry.

                      All in its golden splendor, Emily’s worst fears had come to pass. They already started eating without her. Everything was going to be gone by the time she was anything less than dripping!

                      Clearly the gravity of the situation wasn’t the same for Joyce as she chuckled, trying to piece together what heightened fantasy might be going through Emily’s head.

                      “What are you talking about? If you want me to tease you, I can think of plenty of things I could do, but what is it that I’m supposedly doing right now?”

                      Was she really going to make her say it? “You just came in here to dangle food in my face! You know I want to eat, too!”

                      Joyce looked a bit stupefied, given the bizarre accusation, but cracked an odd smile. “So...you thought I came in here to...” she had to remember what she was holding. “To tease you with a french fry?” Obviously she thought Emily was being a bit silly, but that didn’t change the grave look on the other woman’s face. Simply, Emily nodded.

                      Joyce blinked. She couldn’t remember Emily ever being like this. Granted, takeout in this house didn’t come terribly often, and they had yet to get food like this. Apparently she’d found a big chink in Emily’s armor.

                      But now wasn’t the time for burning bridges or rattling cages, hence why an olive branch was extended in the form of feeding her charge.

                      It was sudden, but the crispy warmth in Emily’s mouth was heavenly. It was everything she’d been dreaming about.

                      “I came to check on you? We’re getting a little impatient waiting for you, you know...”

                      Waiting?

                      She finished chewing her spoils. “Wait, you guys are waiting for me to start?”

                      “Of course we are, dummy.” With both hands free now, Joyce decided to accelerate the process. “And why isn’t the hair dryer out? They’re pretty good at drying hair than just pacing in front of the mirror.” She was already looking in the large cabinets.

                      “Here, use this.” Joyce offered as she plugged the tool in. “Meanwhile, I’m going to get another french fry since someone stole my last one...”

                      “Wait!” Emily called just before she could leave. “Could...could you dry it for me?”

                      “I don’t see why not?” Joyce turned back around and picked the dryer back up. “No fidgeting though, got it?”

                      Emily nodded, then let her get to work.

                      “B-besides,” Emily weakly added. “You need to repay me somehow...for getting me dirty and everything...”

                      “Hoh? Is that so?”

                      A sudden hand grabbed the bottom of Emily’s large towel, lifting it nice and high from the back so a hot torrent of air could blast on her bare bottom.

                      Emily yelped as she stumbled forward, losing her towel in the process. Joyce of course watched with a look of devious mischief. Yet she still had the gaul to say, “I thought I said no fidgeting?”

                      “I changed my mind,” Emily grumbled with an arm over her chest and a hand on her privates. “I can dry my own hair.”

                      “Sorry, no refunds.” Joyce shrugged, as if her hands were tied. “Butt back over here, please.”

                      Apparently it’d become water under the bridge, or at least a buried hatchet as Joyce was gleefully back to handling the girl’s hair, all smiles while Emily was a mix of content and distrust.

                      “You know, if I didn’t know any better, I’d almost think you’re trying to keep me here because of the food?”

                      “H-huh?” Emily stayed ignorant. “What are you talking about?”

                      If Joyce could pin any specific trait to Emily, it’d certainly be her distaste for being the odd one out. If she wasn’t part of the norm that meant she was either missing out or sucking in all the spotlight. Naptime was a perfect example of that. Last night’s early bedtime too… If it was just Emily going to bed, of course she hated it.

                      “Well...if I had to guess...” Joyce pretended to ponder an already finished thought. “You’re just keeping me here so I can’t eat without you?”

                      “No, I’m not. I just...wanted you to dry my hair…” she blushed a little. “That’s all.”

                      “I’m already committed, so you can be honest, you know? Though, word to the wise would be that this doesn’t stop mom and dad from eating first; all your precious french fries are probably going to be gone by the time we finish here… Such a shame.”

                      She was kidding, right? It had to be a joke. It was a joke. She needed it to be a joke. The fate of french fries was no laughing matter, and Emily couldn’t bear to imagine something so heinous as Mary and Frank devouring the perfect accent to her equally as mouth-watering entree.

                      “...They wouldn’t eat them all, right?” Apparently Joyce hit the nail right on the head. She couldn’t help but start laughing as Emily retreated into her shell.

                      “Kidding~” Joyce kissed the top of her head. “Still, you can be quite the monster when food is on the line, huh?”

                      “Stop teasing me...” Emily mumbled. She really didn’t have much of a defense anymore.

                      “Okay, I’m sorry.” Joyce apologized, going back to fluffing up Emily’s hair.

                      “I never win against you...” How many times had she already faced this? Never once did it seem like Emily could pull one over on Joyce. Well, maybe there were a few key moments dotted throughout their time together, but by a large margin did Joyce control the tide of the battlefield. It was her rules and her board, and Emily was a piece in her hands.

                      “Wrong.” Joyce plainly corrected. “It’s not about winning or losing. We don’t compete. We’re a team, remember?”

                      A team with a pecking order… Emily might have added, though she chose not to. Joyce did just say something fuzzy-feeling, after all.

                      Finally the hair dryer clicked and the device was off.

                      “Okay, all dry.” She looked around. “Did I ever bring you clothes to wear?”

                      “No,” Emily answered, and Joyce was already going for the door. “And no pajamas, please?” She had a sneaking suspicion Joyce might try something like that.

                      “I know, I know,” Joyce waved her off. Had her parents not been here it most certainly would have been pajamas, though if today taught Joyce anything it was to constantly remind herself of boundaries. Still, she couldn’t help but smile imagining the fit Emily might throw if she did have to wear pajamas early.

                      “Then tonight you shall be wearing...” Joyce murmured to herself as she searched through the drawers. She settled on shorts and a short-sleeve, considering Emily might be a bit reckless once she gets to the dinner table... Joyce shuddered with a giggle. If one french fry could practically intoxicate her, she couldn’t fathom what an entire smorgasbord might do to her.



                      Everyone shared in a round of satisfied sighs, all pleasantly stuffed full of delicious food. Though, what loomed over the quartet was a silent understanding of the groggy hole they’d dug themselves into. It was all delicious, but ever so fattening.

                      “I can’t remember the last time I ate food like this...” Joyce said oddly. She was equally pleased with the choice as she was ashamed by it. For the sake of her physical health and Emily’s, a treat like this wouldn’t be happening often…

                      “Basic takeout is always a guilty pleasure.” Frank chuckled, wiping his mouth with a napkin. “Makes me want to make my own pizza, though. What do you say? Round 2 will be homemade this time?” All his suggestion got him was a round of groans, likely because the mere mention of food had everyone’s stomachs straining.

                      “Can’t...eat anymore...” Emily moaned, yet still eyeing a small pile of crumbs, along with one last french fry. “But we need to finish the job...” Sluggishly so, Emily leaned in for the last fry, yet it looked as if her heart had been stepped on once a different hand got to it first.

                      “I think we’re all full,” Joye paused to chew the final morsel. “But you look to be in the worst shape, Emily. I think you’re one fry short of a total food coma.”

                      It took willpower not to cry over the fallen soldier.

                      “I think I wanna lie down…” Emily slowly stood herself up, clearly too winded for formalities, not that anyone but a sober Emily might care about. Mary and Frank watched Joyce choke down a giggle as they watched her saunter off.

                      “Didn’t she get a whole sub?” Mary asked, looking at the remains of her spot, which were little to none.

                      “Yep.” Joyce said, sharing in her surprise. How that girl could fit the whole thing down was truly a mystery, especially with how her stomach still looked relatively flat.

                      “Well, how about we clean up the kitchen, then call it an early night?” Frank suggested. “Your mom and I still need to wash up anyways.”

                      “I like the sound of that.” Mary agreed. “I think the plane ride over here is finally starting to hit us… Before that, do you need to wash up at all, Joyce?”

                      “Mmm...for the most part, no.” She was already stuffing their empty containers into a much larger bag. “I can finish up in my own room. You guys have the greenlight.”

                      “Sounds good to me,” Frank took the bag over to the trash. “A hot shower sounds pretty good right now.”

                      Mary chuckled. “Well, suit yourself, because I know I need to try the bath at least once.”

                      “Well, whatever you two do, enjoy yourselves for the rest of the night.”

                      “And also, I was checking the weather. We got pretty lucky with today, because I guess it’s gonna start raining tonight.” Mary said.

                      “Really?” Joyce was trying to remember. “It must have been sudden. I don’t remember seeing that in the forecast… Whatever, not that it affects us now.”

                      All three gave mini-goodbyes as the two parents made their way down the hall and Joyce crept up behind the couch.

                      “Not passed out yet?” Emily was on her side somewhat, curled up into the corner of the couch.

                      “Nope.” Emily blankly answered. She was too sluggish for emotions.

                      Joyce laughed a little. “You quite literally inhaled that food, my little black hole.”

                      “Don’t say it like that...” Emily whined. “I don’t wanna sound like I’m fat!”

                      “Believe me, you’re far from it.” Joyce’s hand was suddenly lightly pressing into Emily’s certainly flat stomach. Normally it’d transition right into a tickle, but Joyce was afraid she might not be able to keep the food down otherwise… “And even if you were, I’d love you all the same!”

                      “Okay...” Emily was staring out one of the windows, then up at Joyce. “So now what?”

                      “Now what?” Joyce repeated. “You’re already itching for more?” Clearly she wasn’t, but that didn’t mean Joyce wasn’t going to tease.

                      “Oh yeah, sure. Sign me up coach, let’s hit the amusemen...” She was so sluggish, she even gave up her act halfway through. Joyce couldn’t stop laughing. Emily found it hard not to smile either.

                      “Mom and Dad are gonna wash up for the night, then probably go to bed. That means it’s just us now.” There was a moment of silence in the room, but it was a warm silence. One that made the atmosphere still feel tender.

                      Then, Emily looked at her with a quite confused look. A look that was unsure of herself.

                      “I think I want ice cream?”

                      Joyce smiled with a slight chuckle.

                      “Absolutely not.”

                      “Come on…! Just a little?” Emily could already feel her stomach compressing its contents, just enough to make room for its most esteemed guest; dessert.

                      “We don’t even keep ice cream in the house, you know?” And it would seem that was a good judgement call. In-house sweets were probably a temptation Emily couldn’t resist, so why give her the chance to fail to begin with?

                      Though, whether it was the playful part of herself feeling aroused or simply feeling suspicious, Emily said “I bet you’re lying.”

                      Joyce raised her brows. “Oh? Lying, am I?”

                      “Yep.” Emily rolled a little, finding a softer spot in the cushions. “Just so I won’t go looking for it.”

                      “Hmm, well, you are most certainly right that on any other day of the week I’d be lying to you,” she drew a fingernail up the girl’s neck, creeping and scraping along the surface of her skin so slightly it caused Emily an infectious giggle. “But, this time I mean it. So in that case, how about I get you some water instead?” She was already getting up.

                      “I like my vanilla with whipped cream, please!” Emily called to her.

                      “Those expectations better be severely lowered by the time I get back in there!”

                      They were not, which is why you can imagine the slightly soured expression on Emily’s face, partly standing up from her spot just to see Joyce come back with not a bowl of delicious sweetness, but a rather bland glass cup of transparent liquid.

                      “But I wanted ice cream?”

                      Joyce simply rolled her eyes with a smirk.

                      “Drink. This might help your tummy feel better.” She handed off the glass to Emily who stared at it curiously for a moment. There wasn’t a straw, so she’d need to go straight in with a normal sip. She sort of giggled. It felt...intimidating, in a way?

                      “What’s so funny?” Joyce was walking around to get a seat right beside her. Thankfully she was late to the party, though…

                      “Hm? Uh, nothing.” Emily dismissed her concern and her laughs as she reeled in for a large swig. It was essentially like drinking from the bottles or sippy cups which she’d become so used to. For the uninformed, the trick was simply to tilt it nice and high to gravity could help you--

                      “Emily!” Joyce shouted, but it was too late.

                      As Emily leaned her head back and with both hands held up the glass, she realized too late that her motions were too ambitious as a large amount of water flowed past the corners of her mouth, onto her face, including her shirt, shorts and the couch.

                      Joyce took the glass from her and stood her up, meanwhile Emily was somewhat astunned, trying to realize what had just happened; how things could have slipped from her so easily.

                      “I...” She watched Joyce press her hand onto the couch, feeling where the water had hit it. Watching her so engrossed in a mistake Emily caused… Emily bit her lip, sniffling. Was she really going to get so worked up over this?

                      “Emily, do you think you could go--” Joyce was turning her head to Emily and was surprised to find her choking down a sob. Did she feel bad? Joyce knocked herself over the head. Of course she did.

                      “Honey, it’s okay!” Joyce laughed, hoping to make the moment feel lighthearted. “It’s just water!” She pulled her in for a hug.

                      “I’m sorry I spilt it...” Maybe if she hadn’t been so excited and stopped being so silly this wouldn’t have happened. Even when she tries to let go she seems to mess it up…

                      “It’s fine, Emily,” Joyce said again, this time looking to her with a genuine smile. “Can you go and get me a towel though? We should dry the spot off as soon as possible.”

                      She nodded her head and walked down the hall.

                      Joyce sighed a little, now on her own. “Let’s see...” She pulled out the cushion in question. It was possible some of the water soaked inside the cushion, which wasn’t too big of a deal unless it’d be a lot of water that was spilt… Thinking on it, more water seemed to have gotten on Emily than the couch… They’d need to take care of that next.

                      Emily had knocked on the bathroom door, hearing Frank’s voice from the other side.

                      “Who is it?” He called.

                      “I-it’s Emily. Could you hand me a towel, please?”

                      A few moments went by until a crack opened and a hand extended outward with a bundle of fluffy cloth.

                      “Thank you,” Emily received it.

                      “I brought some...” she said a bit sullenly, walking back into the room. She could see Joyce was looking the cushion over. Was it that bad?

                      “Thank you very much,” Joyce made a point to smile again as she took one and pressed it firmly into the cushion. Emily only watched with a growing self-consciousness.

                      “I-I can pay for it...” She’d do anything to make things right. Joyce looked at her with a perplexed look. “Just let me know how much and I can give it to you...” She could. It’s not like her money had been going much elsewhere, after all.

                      “Emily, you made a silly mistake, that’s all. You can’t really think I’m going to charge you for damaging our furniture, do you?”

                      “But...but I...” It was the first time she’d done something like this to Joyce. Sure, she was a freeloader, but she wasn’t one that inflicted harm on the home itself. Not until now. How couldn’t she feel bad?

                      Joyce sighed in front of her this time, worsening Emily’s expression a little. She really was annoyed… She stood up, putting her hands on Emily’s shoulders.

                      “The only thing you could ever do to really get under my skin is by doing one of two things. One, catching another guy or girl flirting with you. If you haven’t guessed already, I’m quite protective of my possessions,” she rubbed noses with her on that, chuckling herself. “And second, seeing you in a bad mood. You may not believe it, but you’re my top priority whether we’re playing or not. So if you’re going to feel sad over something that I said, just know you’re going to cause me stress too, okay?” She smiled, hoping that it’d convince her somewhat.

                      Emily kept looking to the floor, still struggling to cope with herself.

                      “Of course, if you really do want to feel sad, that’s up to you,” Joyce shrugged. “But, I’m gonna use every trick in the book to try and change that…!” and like magic, mysterious prickles; pins and needles began to erupt on Emily’s sides, working their way under her shirt and up and down her skin. The touches were too sensitive and the places they struck were too vulnerable. Emily couldn’t help but erupt into a shower of giggles as Joyce tickled her all over.

                      “Stop! Stop!” Emily pleaded. She’d tried to run, but Joyce had wrapped an arm around her waist and held her close. There were tears, but thankfully not the bad kind.

                      “Stop?” Joyce gawked. “Not a chance! Just so you can be sad again?” She forcefully sat herself on the floor, Emily included as she trapped her between her thighs and keeping an arm strapped around her.

                      Emily kept kicking, lightly slapping her feet off the floor, suddenly thinking about something much more worrisome.

                      “Y-your--hahaha! Your p-parents are gonn-a hear!”

                      “Really? I wonder what they might say?” Joyce couldn’t be bothered to think about what they might say. It was her last worry in the world. “Well, if we don’t want them to, that means you should probably stop being so gloomy, huh?”

                      Emily kept laughing, nodding her head. In truth, she was being strongarmed into submission. Well, quite literally so, on top of being “strong-tickled,” if that made any sense…

                      A god did exist somewhere in the world, because the tickling did come to an end. Emily was wiping her eyes, but thankfully for the right reasons.

                      Joyce had set the cushion on the towel laid on the floor, standing back to admire her work for one last second.

                      “Okay...that should be good there. But this,” she turned and tugged on the front of Emily’s shirt with great enunciation, “is not!” She tutted disapprovingly. “And we just got you dried off...”

                      Emily didn’t respond so much. She knew she was supposed to take it lightly, but causing disaster after disaster made her feel less and less like the champ Joyce wanted her to be.

                      Maybe it’s time to move her permanently onto sippy cups? Not actually, but it was still funny to imagine… Joyce shared a smirk with herself, leading Emily onward to the bedroom.

                      “I can do it this time,” Emily declared, stripping herself already.

                      “Do you want to wear pajamas now?” Joyce was already looking into the dresser for her. “I’ll wear them if you do?” Now her offer was tempting. If Joyce did it, that means it’s what all the cool kids were doing, so how could Emily miss out?

                      “Uhm...you pick.” Emily mumbled through a mouthful of upturned shirt covering her face. She grimaced, feeling the wet sensation in her underwear. The water really did soak through her... She sighed. “Could you please get me a pair of panties too?”

                      “I figured those didn’t survive, either...” Joyce spoke passively, adding one more item to her checklist.

                      “...I’m sorry for getting the couch wet.”

                      “I’m sorry for not making it clear we had no ice cream,” Joyce spoke, reflecting on the past with a greatly feigned regret. “I guess we let someone get a little too excited...”

                      Finally, Emily’s lips did spurt something out, and it rang like music.

                      “Fine!” Emily huffed. “I’ll make sure we always have ice cream. It’s your fault for giving me water in the first place!” Of course! How was it only clear now? Water was the root of all evil. Had there been delicious sweets to intervene in plain old H2O’s devious plans, none of this would have ever happened.

                      “You’re funny when you’re joking, you know that?” Joyce snarkily fired back, tossing a pair of underwear on the bed. Thankfully she had the thoughtfulness to close the door this time. She still couldn’t shake that paranoia from earlier…

                      “Nope! Dead serious. If you won’t get it, I will.”

                      “For your health and to preserve your cuteness, sweets should be few and far between in this household.” Joyce shoved the girl, giggling over her yelp as she crashed into the bountiful mattress, sheets and cover.

                      “Oh yeah?” Emily cockily muffled with her face in the bed, turning herself around. “What are you gonna do about it?”

                      Joyce’s eyes widened. “Oh-hoh-hoh, you really didn’t just say that, did you?” Her hands were already looking grabby, and with the wiggling of her fingers...probey, as well.

                      And just before she closed in on her, she stopped.

                      “Actually, I thought of a better idea.”

                      “Y-yeah?” Emily was forcing a smile, hesitating to consider a fate that was worse than tickles.

                      “We’ll buy ice cream, but that just means I’ll need to look into getting a top-freezer fridge...”

                      “A...what?”

                      “You know? A fridge where the freezer is on top?” Currently, the freezer was a bottom drawer that afforded a shorter girl like Emily easy access. If it were at the top she could still reach it, but maybe not the farthest point on the top shelf... “It’ll need to be taller, too...otherwise you’d be able to reach it.”

                      “Uhm...nevermind...” These were definitely the times when Emily hated Joyce’s omnipotent nature. She could never tell when the woman was simply teasing her or genuinely considering future fantasies.

                      “Oh! Or, do you think we could put a lock on the freezer? Like a keypad? Maybe we could get something like a wine cooler for that...” She laughed, her eyes twinkling. “Maybe ice cream isn’t so bad of an idea?” Ice cream behind bars was no ice cream for Emily.

                      “...I won’t buy any ice cream...” Emily mumbled with red cheeks. She felt like she’d lost in more ways than one. Not only was she denied her ice cream, but also yet another opportunity at spending her own money.

                      “Thank you for the ideas~” Joyce kissed her on the forehead, feeding into Emily’s growing concerns.

                      “Now, I thought you said you could undress yourself?” Joyce jokingly admonished. “When I do it,” right then, Emily could feel two hands burrow themselves under her and suddenly cup her bum cheeks, slipping between her skin and underwear. “We go...” and suddenly with a quick yank they were off her waist, legs and feet. “Lightyears faster!”

                      “Maybe if you didn’t tease me so much you’d think differently!” Emily didn’t bother to cover herself up, standing in a dominant pose, as dominant as you could be while flashing your privates, then pulled a new pair of panties up her legs.

                      “Well, I can’t imagine seeing you in any other way...” Joyce thought out loud, pretending to wrestle with a half-truth.

                      “Hah-hah! See? Easy!” So to prove it, Emily spun on her heel 180 degrees then planted herself firmly, giving her bum a slap on the cheek. Meanwhile Joyce was finding herself quite frustrated. After all, the possibilities were endless with this little girl…

                      “Okay, last call,” Joyce broke herself out of a trance. “Are we wearing pajamas or regular clothes?”

                      “Mmm...pajamas.”

                      “I like that choice too.” And so they went with that. Emily went with her polka-dot set and Joyce decided on a short-shirt pair.

                      After that, it was a quick trip to the kitchen so that Emily could actually drink a few glasses of water this time, only now under strict supervision. Though, looking back on it, it sort of was funny to think how she could have somewhat confused it with a bottle.

                      “Couch time?” Joyce asked as Emily already flopped herself on it.

                      Joyce had given the cushion a little more time to dry. Satisfied, she put it back in place.

                      “Movie time!” Emily cheered back, so unreasonably ecstatic just to be in thin clothing while embracing such a cushy sofa.

                      “Movie time?” A much deeper voice answered back. Both female heads looked in its direction.

                      Joyce was already sitting herself next to Emily. “Finish your shower, Dad?”

                      “You bet I did. Would’ve been longer had your mom not kicked me out so soon...” An unfortunate memory to stew over, by the looks of it. “But, anyways, that bathroom really is nice. I wouldn’t be surprised if your mom doesn’t come out of there until it’s time for our flight back home.”

                      “Well, Emily and I should be good for the night. We’ve got an extra bathroom on standby.”

                      “That’s good. With the pace your mother goes at, you just might need it… But anyways, heard you two are gonna watch a movie? Think you can fit a third?”

                      All cozy and well-fed, the energy levels were still high. “I think we can manage a third…!” Emily, surprising Joyce, haughtily spoke.

                      “Oh? Well, thank you ever so much for fitting me in, your majesty!” And with a grand bow, Frank sat himself on the far end. Emily couldn’t help but snicker. “What’re we watching?”

                      “Zero idea. Not sure yet.” Joyce had just finished turning the tv on.

                      “I’m sure there’s something to watch. Either of you two watch anything new in the theaters?”

                      Joyce and Emily exchanged looks.

                      “I think we went one time not too long ago...”

                      “Yeah, right after I got over that stomach bug thing.”

                      “That’s right,” Joyce agreed somewhat plainly. She didn’t like to think back on that, considering the pain Emily was in. “Glad we’re over that now...”

                      The trio watched as the list of movies went on and on. On and on until…

                      “Oh, hey, how about that one?” Frank interrupted the search.

                      Joyce stopped scrolling. “Which one?”

                      “That one right there? I think it says ‘Hilltop Inn’?” The cover was something to say the least. Basking in the moonlight sat a rickety old mass of shacks and roofs with boarded-up windows interspersed throughout. Only in one of them though was there the silhouette of a figure…

                      Wait, was this movie a--?

                      “Is this a horror movie?” Joyce was the first to ask. She didn’t bother reading the bio for it, as if she were already about to write it off.

                      “Of course it is! Remember when you, me and your brother used to watch one every weekend?” Thinking back on it, that did happen a lot…

                      “Really? You guys did?” Emily seemed curious.

                      “Oh yeah!” Frank was quick to confirm. “You couldn’t get this one away from the tv. She was a little horror fanatic!” This was a little hard to buy, considering Emily rarely ever saw Joyce watch movies. She even gave her a look.

                      “W-well...maybe just a little...” She’d fallen out of the habit, but maybe there was a tiny craving for it every once in a long while. She’d somewhat satisfied that feeling last time with Emily, though she remember how that went last time.

                      “But anyways, how about we watch something less scary? Maybe a comedy?”

                      Frank came off as surprised. “You don’t want to watch it? Did you already see it?”

                      “It’s not that...” Joyce trailed, realizing too late that would have been a good excuse.

                      “...Oh, well, that’s fine. I’m sure we can find something else.” He seemed to have come to his own conclusions, which invited some self-consciousness into Emily’s headspace.

                      “I...I want to watch it, too.”

                      Both sets of eyes fell on Emily.

                      “I wanna watch it. It seems, uhm, interesting.” Frank smiled at her, while Joyce was trying not to roll her eyes. It was obvious what she was trying to do…

                      “Are you sure?” Joyce tried to make his voice as little as indicative as possible, though she desperately hoped Emily could read between the lines. With her dad in attendance, she didn’t want to be so transparent about Emily’s less-than-ideal affinity for scary movies.

                      “Yes, I am. I kinda like them, anyways.”

                      “Really?” Frank sounded enthusiastic. “Joyce, you really know how to pick ‘em!”

                      While Frank couldn’t see it from his angle, the look Joyce gave Emily was one that was less than impressed. Whatever ‘bravado’ the girl thought she was showing, Joyce didn’t see it that way.

                      “I’ll be right back,” Frank stood himself up. “Do you guys keep any popcorn here?”

                      “It should be somewhere in the kitchen,” Joyce answered while she turned her head to him. “I’m not positive which cabinet it’s in though, so you might have to look a little...”

                      “No problem. I’ll manage.” And then there were two.

                      Emily was the first to start. “Joyce, I know what you’re--”

                      “No,” she bluntly interrupted. “That’s my line. I know what you’re trying to do.”

                      “But why not? He said you guys watch them all the time!”

                      “Yes, we did, but that was then. Now I’m with you and I know you don’t do scary movies.” Need she remind her of how the first movie night went?

                      “Come on! They’re only here for one more night! You guys should do something you used to! I can handle it!”

                      Finally Joyce’s sternness did soften some, “You’re sweet, but you know when we’re at home like this you don’t need to act so tough. Thank you for thinking about us, but I want to watch something we’re all going to like.”

                      “Then...I’ll just go to bed early while you two watch it. I want you guys to watch something scary.”

                      The two were at odds, fighting for what they believed would best benefit the other, funnily enough. In all honesty though Emily was starting to annoy Joyce. If the roles were different, she wouldn’t have to compromise so heavily…

                      And then she stopped herself.

                      She sighed, realizing just what an idiot she was. She really did have some work to do on keeping her Mommy-self in check…

                      Emily was an adult. She was her girlfriend. She has every right to decide what she wants to do and watch whether Joyce liked it or not. The best she could do was heavily advise against it, but it would seem advice this time wasn’t going to work.

                      “Fine, you can watch it.” That made Emily let out a little giggle. “It wasn’t my decision to make from the get-go. I just don’t want to see you scared.”

                      “I’ll be fine! F-I-N-E!” Emily started to get herself cozy again.

                      “Uh-huh.” All Joyce did was let her watch the movie. That didn’t mean she’d believe for a second she was going to be “fine”.



                      It wasn’t fine.

                      “Emily?” The mere sound of another voice startled the girl. She collapsed from her fetal position on the bed before she could distinguish friend from foe.

                      The girl looked as if she’d been through hell and back; tortured by souls of the lost and witness her life itself hang in the balance of suspense and terrifying thrill. Joyce, on the other hand looked quite sympathetic.

                      “I told you we shouldn’t have watched it...” she rubbed the girl’s shoulder. Compared to the first scary movie, this one was actually halfway decent by Joyce’s standards, so objectively speaking for Emily it was the difference between a five and a ten.

                      “I thought it would be okay this time,” Emily whimpered, pulling herself back together. She even used all the strategies! First and foremost was cuddling with Joyce. Being a lone soldier was never destined to work, and Emily knew that. The other was regularly interrupting herself for water. The first two times she could comfortably remove herself from the couch to get a drink, but then when the movie really started to set in she had to start asking Joyce to come with her… A little after that, and she’d given up on trying to move entirely. The couch became her final oasis.

                      They’d moved from the living room and into Joyce’s bed. She was expecting a much more intimate arrival, but instead had to deal with the creeping fears of the imaginary lurking throughout the house.

                      “Next time can you please be a little more honest with yourself? I won’t tell you ‘no’ unless you want me to, but I really don’t like seeing you like this.”

                      “Did you like the movie, at least?” Emily asked while panning her eyes over to the halfway-shut door. The hall lights were off, so that meant pure darkness seeped from the crack in the doorframe. If she looked hard enough...squinted enough...the darkness moved.

                      “Yes,” Joyce turned the girl’s head back to her. “I did.” Unfortunately, that was more of a lie than a truth. The movie was okay, but real terror was constantly trying to imagine how your significant other might be reacting to their kryptonite being force-fed down their throat. All she could do now was let the girl feel like her efforts weren’t in vain.

                      “How about we get some sleep? Maybe dream of something better than that movie?”

                      Emily silently nodded, still looking at the doorway somewhat.

                      With a soft smile, Joyce went on to ask, “Would you like me to close the door?”

                      “Yes, please...”

                      She a pair of warm lips hit Emily’s temple before Joyce got up.

                      A with the shutting of a door the monsters of the night had been banished. “See? Now it’s our own little fortress,” Joyce chuckled. “Just you, me and Pip.” Criss-crossed now on the bed, Emily had been stuffing her hands into him while he sat in her lap. It was kind of endearing how she’d taken to him so quickly.

                      “I’m sorry I’m such a scaredy cat...” With everything Joyce did for her, making her feel better over the smallest things, she really did feel needy regardless of the time or place. Under the right circumstances that was her job, but this wasn’t supposed to be one of those times.

                      “Don’t be. I like being able to do stuff for you, and I especially want to be the person you can always turn to; whatever the reason.”

                      “Thank you.” She played with Pip’s squishiness a bit more. “And you know I’d always be there for you too, right?”

                      “Of course I know that,” Joyce paused to exchange a brief kiss. “But don’t think that I don’t want to hear you say it anyways.”

                      Joyce slipped herself off the bed to pull back her corner of the covers.

                      “So are you okay with tonight? Sleeping with me?”

                      “Of course I am,” Emily didn’t dwell on it much, warming Joyce’s heart. “But I would be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous at least a little...”

                      “Nervous how?”

                      “Nervous as in...I don’t know. It’s another step, I guess. We’ve done a lot more...intimate stuff than this,” need she reference what had to be done in her diapers, “but I guess as far as regular things normal couples do, this is something new for us.”

                      Joyce nodded, collecting her thoughts.

                      “I can see that. It is different in a way, isn’t it?” Joyce laughed a little. “We definitely have pushed the bar in a lot of other ways though. Would you honestly rather the couch tonight?”

                      “No.” It was somewhat of a deadpan response and Joyce, smirking, knew exactly why.

                      There was no chance in hell Emily was leaving that room tonight. Not when a serial killer was still on the loose from Hilltop Inn. Those were the worst kinds of movies; ones that had a bad ending and the killer got away… But, in fairness, there was a much more meaningful reason to stay.

                      “I said I was nervous, but that doesn’t mean I’m not a lot more excited. It’s a big step, but it also means we get to be closer...” She kneaded her hands some and wove her fingers, “I like being closer with you.”

                      “You’re really cute when you try to sweet-talk me, you know?”

                      “W-well, you don’t have to say it out loud...” The abrasive choice of words had her looking beat-red, though that was somewhat expected. It was likely a quality that’d never change about their relationship. Even if they recognized each other as equals, there was always going to be someone more dominant of the two. Not that either of them minded.

                      “Ready to get under the covers?”

                      “Yeah, just a second...” Emily hopped off the bed, giving Joyce a nice view of her behind as she bent over, slipping off her pants.

                      Joyce slipped in between the cover and sheets, and Emily soon did the same. Only a handful of inches apart, they laid there somewhat stiffly. Was this awkward?

                      “Well, uh, how about I turn off the lights?” Joyce asked. The ceiling light was off, but there was still the warm glow from a nearby lamp on the nightstand.

                      “That’s alright...”

                      She leaned over, brushing her finger over the sensor.

                      Apart from the distant city lights reaching the floor-to-ceiling windows, everything was now dark. Very dark. Extremely dark. Oh-so very absolutely chillingly terrifyingly dark.

                      Emily pulled up the covers a little bit, scolding herself. How could she be making such a big deal out of this? It was just a movie! She is in a safe place!

                      Her eyes were playing tricks on her. In the deep corners of the room were the figments of her imagination; festering into creatures, goblins and ghouls, all waiting for her eyes to shut and to leave herself vulnerable. Her legs shuffled a little, accidentally brushing Joyce’s.

                      “Sorry about that...” Emily quietly whispered.

                      She spoke in such a way that you could tell she was smiling. “Don’t worry about it.”

                      Laying there, soaking in the black atmosphere, Emily wasn’t feeling any more accustomed.

                      “H-hey, Joyce?” She was hesitant to speak, afraid she might disturb Joyce.

                      “Uh-huh?”

                      “Did I leave Pip on the bed?”

                      She felt terrible once Joyce started to stir, watching her sit up, rousing herself out of a comfortable spot just to satisfy her selfish wishes. “Mmm...yeah, he’s right here.” Emily with her head laying into the pillow was joined by a stuffed piece of mochi right by her side. “Better?”

                      “Yes. Thank you...”

                      “You’re welcome.” She laid back down.

                      Now with a friend, she stared into his lifeless eyes, hoping they might inspire some form of tiredness within her, but she was too high-strung for that. Not when the boogeyman was hoping for the same exact thing.

                      “J-Joyce?” it came as a half-whimper.

                      “What’s wrong?”

                      “I’m...I’m still scared.”

                      “Wanna come a little closer?”

                      “Yes, please.”

                      Pip was politely moved to the side and in his place was Joyce, holding the cover up almost like a tent from her position so Emily could slide over easily. It was a mix of shame and relief that washed Emily over. On one hand, she kept bothering Joyce over the tiniest and smallest things, but on the other she was getting comfort after comfort.

                      With the two both sleeping on their sides, Emily pressed herself against Joyce’s front, sitting slightly lower on the bed, meaning she could set her head somewhere between Joyce’s head and chest.

                      “Better?” Now her voice was much closer, but it rang like a soft lull with its tender nature.

                      “Yeah...” and she really did mean it. She didn’t know how Joyce would react to it, but Emily set one arm over Joyce’s waist and kept one hand on the top of her bosom.

                      Then, Joyce’s legs surprised Emily when they adjusted themselves. The one farthest from the mattress had moved itself forward, slipping right between Emily’s legs and nuzzling its thigh right along Emily’s crotch. She could feel the slight press from her skin; just enough to know it was there, but stimulating enough to want to press back…

                      “I’ll keep you safe from all the monsters, and make sure you have no nightmares too, okay?”

                      “Huh? How can you keep me from having nightmares?”

                      “Well, that’s easy enough.” She paused to give Emily’s forehead a long, uninterrupted kiss. “And like that, I’ve placed a magic spell on you. Good for one whole night’s sleep, no bad dreams are allowed inside your head.”

                      “Then how come it’s only good for one night? Shouldn’t it be forever?”

                      “Silly, did you forget I’m a businesswoman?” Both snickered. “You wouldn’t be my customer anymore if I only needed to give you a one-time solution… This way I get to keep kissing you forever and ever! And don’t forget your debt...” She pecked Emily on the lips. “Those belong to me now, so don’t get frisky with anyone else, got it?”

                      Emily cracked a toothy grin. “Wouldn’t dream of it!” She started to laugh while Joyce rolled her eyes.

                      “Okay, I think I’ve had enough of you for one night. Time to sleep.” Joyce took her free hand and cupped it around the back of Emily’s head, guiding her head into her chest where two generous, soft mounds lay like cushions.

                      “Night, Joyce.”

                      “Goodnight...”

                      And finally, at some point along the way, they both did drift off, sleeping soundly for quite some time.

                      Then, much later, hours later, Emily opened her eyes. It was a slow reveal, treating her vision to a set of boobs she was using almost like a pillow. She had to think of where she was right then, not completely sure with the darkness shrouding her vision. Then she remembered where she was and who she was with. Smiling just from the sweet reminder, she reeled her lower half into Joyce’s a bit more, feeling her crotch run along the woman’s bare thigh.

                      But now she knew why she woke up.

                      Her bladder was painfully full. The simple motion of her waist was enough to make it rise and stir in its own way. Joyce was still sound asleep, as Emily could feel the faint exhale from her nose while she slept.

                      Why did she have to get up now? There were a few reasons why she didn’t want to. One was how comfortable she already was, sleeping with Joyce. They were wrapped in each others arms, once sleeping so soundly. Another was having to leave Joyce, meaning to leave her one safety in such a big and dark house… She could already feel the movie getting to her again, and that was enough to quietly whimper. If only she had been wearing a…

                      She paused her thought for a moment, blinking.

                      Was she about to think what she thought she was? Easier to wear a...diaper? It wasn’t so much disgust that she regarded herself with, but instead simple wonder and curiosity. Before she’d thought of this whole routine as strange and different, but of course it had started to grow on her. So much now that Emily considered it a valid solution, apparently.

                      But alas, she wasn’t wearing one and there were none in the room. She didn’t have a crutch like that to fall on, because after all, she was supposed to be acting like an adult right now, even if the circumstances were making her wish she really wasn’t one right now.

                      Her head turned over to the door, leading into the hall. Just seeing the panel of wood alone was daunting enough. Who knew what was creeping beyond there? She could already imagine the hundreds of eyes peeking at them from the outside, sharpening their fangs and hiding themselves in all the right nooks and crannies to catch Emily by surprise. Her heart was beating a mile a minute just from thinking about it.

                      She hugged Joyce a little tighter. Even if she wasn’t awake, Emily could still feel the warmth radiating from her.

                      Why did she have to go and watch that stupid movie?! Joyce was right the entire time. All of this was Emily’s fault and she had no one to blame but herself.

                      She didn’t want to leave Joyce. So much of her wanted to wake her up and bring her on such a terrifying journey. But her conscience wouldn’t let her do that. After all the trouble she’d caused, something as petty as needing someone to take you to the bathroom crossed a line.

                      And so with great reluctance, Emily separated herself from Joyce, letting her feet touch the carpet. It was so cold without her lover… Emily managed to find her pajama pants on the ground and pull them up her legs, adding one more layer of armor before needing the face the monsters.

                      And just before she did start to move, she saw Pip on the bed. Unlike Joyce, she hardly minded bothering Pip. Whether he was trying to sleep or not, he was now Emily’s knight in shining armor, as with two arms he was securely strapped to Emily’s stomach.

                      With baby steps she walked over to the door. Slowly she turned the handle, opening the door, little by little, feeling the cool draft enter the room.

                      You can do this. You can handle this.

                      Total silence filled the rest of the apartment, meaning at a moment’s notice something could go bump in the night. She was trying to be slow and cautious, but her bladder felt ready to burst. Hopefully nothing did lash out at her, otherwise they’d be covered in her pee…

                      One last time she looked at Joyce sleeping in bed. She looked so at peace; comfortable, content and slumbering so sweetly. All the reasons why Emily couldn’t bring herself to ask her for help.

                      She couldn’t see too much in the hallway, nothing other than outside darkness peering through the windows down the hall from the living room.

                      At the same time the pressure she was feeling was unbearable. With one arm around Pip she used the other to press into her crotch, hoping that it’d help keep back the need to go.

                      She kept looking over her shoulder as she moved down the hall, keeping the wall close to her shoulder, just so she’d know when she was next to the bathroom. After a few more glances the door to Joyce’s room was feeling awfully far away. Hopefully Pip was going to keep her safe…

                      Then, she turned her head back.

                      Someone was there.

                      At first she glanced over the edge of the living room she could see, thinking nothing but of the windows she could see out of. Only when she looked at the couch did she realize someone was sitting on it. The round shape of their head, covered in lumpy hair was impossible to mistake.

                      Her heart skipped a beat and she made a tiny noise of panic, nearly losing her balance once she saw it. There really was someone in their home! It was real, she had every reason to be scared, she needed to run, hide, scream, tell anyone that their lives were at stake! Everything about the chilling situation was paralyzing.

                      Just then Emily felt something warm seep into her hand, the one cupping her crotch. Just as it happened she did her best to taper it, realizing just as fast that it was her bladder that was scared the most.

                      No, no! Please!

                      Her mind was frantic now, trying to contain herself. She hadn’t been spotted yet, so it had to be okay, right? She could still sneak back to the room and wake Joyce up… Doing her best to take a breath, she managed to calm down the tiniest bit.

                      With a plan set, she was ready to act.

                      In another moment of silence, the same panel windows in the living room, once black as the night, erupted into bright, blinding godrays. It was a brief flash, Emily hadn’t even pieced together what she’d seen. But after the flash came a crippling, deafening, quaking boom.

                      BOOM.

                      The noise was loud and sudden, Emily shouted in pure fear as she fell to her knees. Was she being attacked? What was even happening? She was too scared to think about anything, holding onto Pip with both arms for dear life. Immediate regret was all she could feel, wishing she’d never had left the room. Wet tears rolled down her cheeks as a stream began between her legs. She could feel it pooling around her, leaking through her pajamas and soaking up in other places.

                      She didn’t have the composure to try and stop herself, merely trying to scramble back to the room, trying not to grimace over the warm and wet clothes that clung to her skin and somehow forget about the stranger sitting in the next room over. She was alone and afraid. She desperately needed to go back. Fear itself roamed these halls and she was glad to make herself scarce. Trying not to break into a full cry, her heart thumped to a heavy beat as she managed to get herself back in the room, quickly closing the door behind herself.

                      What was she supposed to do? Go back to bed? Maybe then the killer wouldn’t get her. But what was that boom? It scared her too much to think about it, hoping she would never encounter something so terrifying ever again.

                      “J-Joyce?” Emily sobbed, trying to jostle her shoulder. She may have been dripping on the carpet, which only made her feel worse, but she wanted more than anything to feel safe right then. She needed Joyce.

                      After enough gentle rocking, Joyce did start to stir, though the sudden break from her sleep had her up with somewhat of a start, catching Emily by surprise a little.

                      “Wh...what…?” Joyce, sitting up, looked to her side, seeing Emily wasn’t where she had been before, then looked to her right, finding the distraught girl next to her bedside. “Emily…? What time is it?” She looked at a digital clock. Working some more sleep out of her system, only now did she see the girl was crying. “Sweetie, what’s wrong?” She leaned over to the lamp, turning it on.

                      Both were blinded for a second, adjusting their eyes, but Joyce could now see the dark stains on Emily’s pajama pants, starting from the crotch and leading elsewhere down below.

                      “What happened? How did you pajamas get wet?” She swept her legs out from under the covers, standing up.

                      “I-I...” Emily had no idea what to say. She was too ruined to think sensibly or figure out what needed to be said first. The killer? The big boom? The pee in her pants? The inability to speak only added to her woes, hence why she could cry harder.

                      “Okay, okay, it’s alright...” Joyce pulled her in for a hug, though still somewhat confused. She happened to sniff, catching a faint scent of something embarrassing. “Did you...did you have a bad dream?”

                      She shook her head no while Joyce guided her around the bed. She had to rub her eyes again just to adjust. “It’s alright, you’re gonna be fine,” she tried to calm Emily, but there was little that could be done for something as severe as this… Verbally, at least.

                      Joyce kept a hand on her shoulder while she leaned in to kiss her. “Can you help me take of your bottoms? I don’t want you to smell like pee too...”

                      Emily hiccuped, nodding her head. She didn’t even need to say a word and Joyce was already figuring things out. It was a testament to why Emily felt so relieved when relying on her.

                      BOOM.

                      It sounded off again and Emily yelped, grabbing Joyce’s arm as she felt another tiny bit squirt out of her. She winced, hearing it hit the carpet.

                      Joyce heard it too, but she didn’t seem to mind so much.

                      “I-I’m sorry, it-it’s...”

                      “It’s okay. I’m not mad...” she stroked the top of her head. Joyce looked out the window, watching as the raindrops started to hit the glass. “It’s just some thunder, okay? It was supposed to start raining tonight...”

                      That’s what it was? Thunder? How could it have been? It felt so much like the word itself had been shaking! Her imagination was too excited to see it as anything less than absolute, mortal danger.

                      There was another thunderous boom, and it did startle Emily a little, but not so much this time.

                      “You wait here for me, okay? I’m gonna go get a towel.” She was already leaving for the door.

                      “N-no! Joyce, wait!” It was the first sentence she could muster without a complete stutter.

                      “Why? What’s wrong?”

                      “Th-there’s someone out there! I saw someone on the couch…!” The panic in her eyes was genuine, but it only made Joyce look troubled.

                      “I’ll go and look, okay? You wait here.”

                      “No, please don’t!” Emily plead, looking as if nothing had mattered more in her life than this one simple request. If she had anything left in her power, it was to protect Joyce, the one she loved most. She couldn’t risk losing her to some deranged killer in the apartment!

                      Joyce walked back over, taking Emily’s hands. “Do you trust me?”

                      Trust? What did trust have to do with anything right now?

                      “Y-yes, but--!”

                      “Everything is going to be perfectly fine, okay? I promise.” Even with a tired expression, Joyce looked nothing short of absolute.

                      “B-but...” Emily knew she could believe in Joyce, but it was like trying to accept that apples were red while you looked at a green one. It was yet again that irrational side scaring her half to death.

                      “Just give me two minutes, okay? Think you can count for me?”

                      “What if you don’t come back then?”

                      “Then I’ll let you start paying me rent.” She snickered. “Here, let’s start.”

                      “One banana...two banana...” She waited for Emily to join her, nodding her head with each count.

                      “T-three banana...” Emily started, then continued.

                      Joyce counted in unison, slowly drifting to the door and into the hall, leaving just a crack in the doorframe behind her.

                      Apart from peeing herself, Joyce could only think of Emily’s other worry; a stranger in the house. She’d never call Emily a liar, but she found it hard to believe someone could break into the apartment building itself unnoticed, much less their exact home on one of the highest floors…

                      As she walked down the hall, stepping in a lukewarm puddle ceased her pace. Looking down at what her foot had just stepped in, she could see the faint outline of liquid on the floor. Pip happened to be sitting partly in it, as well… Needless to say, it had an unfortunate distinct smell to go with it as well.

                      “Poor thing...” Joyce quietly whispered, her heart already lurching in pain. She really looked as if she’d been put through a scare… The movie had certainly affected her, but her imagination really seemed to have dogpiled on her, considering what was left in its wake.

                      Walking around the puddle of pee, she leaned her head into the living room. She scanned it for a minute, though admittedly her heart did jump a little when she saw what she thought was a head resting on the cushion. Turning up the dimmer from a nearby panel, she sighed a little, realizing what she actually saw.

                      There was no head, just a clumped up blanket partly rolled into a ball resting on the couch. The dark really did play tricks on you…

                      She turned the lights off after knocking the blanket back over, figuring that must have been the culprit. She didn’t spend long in the bathroom, finding a towel, then walked back to the room.

                      “Eighty-four banana...eighty-five banana...” Emily was still well-within the two minute estimate, but that didn’t mean she was any less worried. What if the monster got Joyce? Then she’d have to somehow get across the hall unnoticed to warn Frank and Mary...but then Joyce would still be in trouble…!

                      The opening door spooked Emily, finding herself a fresh wave of tears when she saw it was Joyce. With a towel in hand, she looked awfully accusatory.

                      “You’re still counting right?”

                      With a smile of stress being lifted off her shoulders, Emily nodded. “Eighty-seven...”

                      Joyce looked quite smug. “And you doubted me...” She was laying the towel out on the floor.

                      She was back, safe and sound, but that didn’t say anything about the person in the living room. “B-but what about the--”

                      “The head you saw on the couch?” Joyce waited for a response, and Emily did so.

                      “I was a little surprised when I saw it too,” Joyce rambled, trying to make it seem lighthearted. “Turns out it was just a blanket though. The dark really knows how to play tricks, huh?”

                      Just a blanket? This was feeling like the thunder example as well. Did she really blow it that far out of proportion? And she most certainly did, considering a blanket made her accidentally wet.

                      “Okay, let’s get those jammies off...” Joyce took her pants by the waistband and lowered them, whilst Emily felt the cool room brush her skin and the wet pants peel off her legs. It smelt like urine…

                      “Panties, too,” Joyce added. Since they were a dark pair to begin with, you might not think much of it by looks alone, but logic dictated that the pee had to go through them first before they could reach the pants.

                      “I’m sorry,” Emily meekly spoke. She’d woken up Joyce just to deal with her own mishaps. And the worst part? Not a single part of Emily regret running to Joyce. Despite the stress and busywork she caused her partner, nothing felt better than to be comforted by her.

                      “Don’t be. This is one of my jobs, isn’t it? Comforting you?” She ran her hand through Emily’s hair, then went for her shirt next. “Your shirt might not be wet, but we don’t want the smell to stick...”

                      With all her clothes piled on the towel, all that Emily had left on was a bra.

                      “I’m sorry, but is it okay if we break our promise a little? To be honest, I’d do better at cleaning this kind of thing up in the nursery...” Frankly, it was the truth, considering it was a surprise that Joyce had to be dealing with pee during her parent’s visit. Not that she’d ever reprimand Emily for it.

                      Joyce took a moment to rub her own foot on the towel before they walked into the hall. Joyce had done her best to calm Emily’s nerves, but she wasn’t going to chastise her over still insisting that Emily held her hand along the way.

                      They were careful this time to navigate around the puddle, Emily feeling quite crestfallen when she saw it. Now that they moved farther beyond the point where she stopped, there was a better view of the living room, though there was no supposed head on the couch this time. That somewhat put Emily’s heart at ease.

                      Slipping the key into the lock, with a turn of the handle the door had opened, inviting the pair into a room neither had expected to find themselves in again so soon.

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