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this is what perfect feels like

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When Azu wakes up, she instantly has the feeling that something is missing. She shifts slightly as she eases into consciousness, careful not to wake Cel, who's nestled next to her, head tucked under her chin. Their hair, in an ever-present state of bedhead, tickles her nose in an endearing way, and their arms and legs are wrapped around her like she's some kind of teddy bear. Azu smiles at the weight of them and twists a tuft of platinum hair between her brown fingers. 

Still, something is missing.  Someone, she realizes more firmly at the absence of a similar but lighter weight on the other side. Azu turns her head to examine the emptiness of the sheets, and sees that Sasha, her dear shadow, isn't there, folded and curled up under her arm with an expression of the closest thing to serenity on her face. She frowns and listens to the quiet of the apartment, in case Sasha is doing her best to silently pad around.

A ways away in the kitchen, the coffee machine beeps loudly, and Cel immediately stirs in an almost Pavlovian response.

“Morning,” Azu says, amused as they raise their head blearily and blink at her.

“Hi,” Cel replies in a yawn, rubbing at their eyes. “Did you sleep alright?” 

“I did. And you?”

“It was alright. Had a dream about lizards,” Cel says, reaching for their glasses, big and golden with tinted lenses so thick it makes them look almost owlish.

“Lizards?” Azu echoes.

“Yeah,” they say. “They were real cute and they wanted to help me build a robot or something. They had such little hands. Or paws. Or claws.” They lift their own hands and stare at them, musing. “What do you call lizard hands?” 

“I’m afraid I don’t know, love.”

“I’ll look it up later,” Cel says, shrugging. “Would you help me remember?”

“Of course.”

“Thanks.” Cel sits up, and then turns back to Azu. “Can we get a lizard? I kind of want one now.”

“What kind of lizard?” she asks, propping herself up on one elbow.

“I dunno. Maybe a gecko—oh, an iguana would be cool…” They trail off. “Hey, where’s Sasha?”

“Not sure,” Azu admits. “She was gone when I woke up, too.”

“Hmm...sounds like she made coffee, though! That’s real sweet of her, I like that she thinks of things like that.” Cel swings themself off the bed and stretches, raising long limbs towards the ceiling. They’re wearing one of Azu’s shirts, and despite them being of a similar height, Azu’s general broadness renders it entirely too big on their lanky frame. “Do you want me to make you a cup?”

“That’d be nice, yes, thank you,” Azu says. 

Cel beams. “Great! I remember how much cream you like in it so I’ll put that in too.”

“Thank you, love.”

Cel bounds over and presses a kiss to Azu’s cheek before swiping one of their fidget toys off the nightstand and leaving for the kitchen. Azu smiles to herself at the warmth that rises in her chest as Cel goes, thinking about how lucky she is to have such lovely people as her partners.

It’s one of those moments, as she looks around the room, and ponders the way Cel and Sasha have intertwined themselves in her life. She can see it in the display case of daggers that belongs to Sasha, in the way a pair of Cel’s goggles lies atop a pile of Azu’s romance novels (a gift from Zolf, bless him). A picture of the three of them hangs on the wall, all of them smiling, and Azu thinks that maybe, this is what perfect feels like. 

Still, she wonders where Sasha is. She knows the other woman is a bit more reserved than herself or Cel, and often takes time for herself atop rooftops and within alleyways. She usually tells them before she goes out, though, leaving a hastily scrawled note or something along those lines. Azu is sure she’s fine, (she’s seen Sasha hide half a dozen pocketknives in the folds of her leather jacket) but she’s a worrier at heart. 

Enough of that, she tells herself, and coaxes herself up and out of bed. She makes a mental note to text Ed and schedule their next gym meeting as she shuffles out into the hall and towards the kitchen. The blender whirs loudly as Cel makes yet another one of their odd smoothie concoctions, three mugs of coffee already laid out and steaming beside them. Azu ruffles their flyaway hair in endearment, earning her a beaming smile. 

“So what’s in this one?” she asks, gesturing at the blender. 

“Mango, spinach, apple, and—and stay with me here: coffee!” 

“That…does not sound good, love,” Azu says gently.

“Oh, I have no idea either! But might as well try, right? Besides, you know me, I’ll eat anything!” Cel says, waving a hand. The both of them laugh just as the door to the apartment opens and closes, quickly and quietly in a way that they might not have noticed if they weren’t used to it. 

“Oh, you’re up. Morning,” Sasha says as she comes into the kitchen, surprisingly quiet for someone wearing combat boots.   

“Good morning, love.”

“Morning, Sash!” Cel says. “Wanna try this smoothie?” 

“Er, I’m alright, but, uh, thanks,” Sasha replies. She pulls out a paper bag from inside her jacket and holds it out to them. “Got breakfast for you, like, if you want it, that is.”

Cel takes the bag from Sasha and peers into it before giving a whoop. "Muffins! Sasha, you're absolutely golden," they say, rocking back and forth slightly on their heels before bending down to kiss the top of Sasha’s head. Sasha flushes a bit at the affection but gives a small smile nonetheless. 

“That was sweet of you,” Azu says, and Sasha stuff her hands in her pockets.

“Well, I just—I thought I’d like, surprise you guys,” she says, ducking her head.  “Is there still coffee?”

“Yep! Already got you a cup!” Cel says, handing her a mug. “Black with a little bit of sugar, as always!” 

Sasha mumbles a thanks, still blushing.

“Where did you go for these?” Azu asks. 

“Er...Zolf and Hamid’s place,” Sasha answers. “They said last night I was like, free to come and get them whenever, so I did. They, uh, were asleep when I showed up, so I was quiet, don’t worry.”

Azu can’t help but chuckle at that.

“What?” Sasha says.

“Nothing. I just love you.” 

“Oh.” Sasha’s face reddens again. “I, er, love you too, Az.” 

This was punctuated by a coughing and spluttering from behind them. Sasha and Azu looked over at Cel in concern, who was holding a cup of their smoothie. 

“I think we can chalk this one up as a ‘never,’” Cel says, their face contorted in disgust, “Not as bad as the carrot and espresso one, though.”

Sasha snorts, and as they all dissolve into laughter, Azu can’t help but think that yes, this is exactly what perfect feels like.