Sheltered [06/24/2022] CH39 - Appointments

Yes, not one, not two, but yes! Three! chapters all in one posting! It’s like I totally didn’t just neglect posting on here, for some reason! In all seriousness, please enjoy the chapters! Share your thoughts as always!


38 - Fashionista

“I’m not going.” Emily stood firm with her hands at her sides. Resolute.

“Won’t go, or don’t want to go?” Joyce, sounding somewhat distraught, asked for the umpteenth time. In the span of just a couple hours they were having constant tug-of-wars like this.

Emily furrowed her brow while she concentrated on the floor between Joyce’s feet, wiggling her lips as she herself failed to find the right words.

Then with a small sigh, disappointed in herself, Emily groaned, “Don’t want to…”

“Emily,” Joyce gave herself some dramatic pause to find the right words, “remember how I said that Amy’s been looking forward to this? About how much she wants to see you?”

“Yes…” The stress in her voice could not have been more evident. Not caused by Joyce, but by the war within herself.

“It’s always scary the first time, I know that. But you gotta remember Emily, it’s…not really much of a secret to Amy, anymore?” It barely was from the start. The moment they needed a medium to help them indulge was the same time they were forced to give Amy an indirect glimpse.

“That’s…but that’s still different from her actually seeing it!” Why did she even entertain the idea last night? Why didn’t she just say no? Was it too late to back out? Joyce said it wasn’t, but it felt that way. Social pressures were making her feel that way. She could refuse, but it’d be heavily frowned upon…

“That’s fair,” Joyce nodded, “you’re right, it is different. But so has every new and scary thing we’ve done before? She will not have anything mean to say, Emily. Remember? Amy wanted to do this! And it’s all private. Amy doesn’t talk about us to anyone, and the same goes for all her other clients. Trust me.”

Trust was something that needed to go a terribly far way to make any of this work. Trust had been what brought them to this point, so in theory it made sense to continue to bet on it?

“What…what if somebody walks in and sees?”

“The store is closed today. It’s just gonna be you, me, and Amy.”

“What…what if someone looks through a window?”

“We’ll be in the dressing room or upstairs. The back room doesn’t have any windows, and the upstairs is off the ground floor.”

Damn, there was always an answer, wasn’t there?

Emily continued to fidget, having every point become null and void by crushing facts, but she felt hardly any more enlightened or less worried.

“…Can…can she come here instead?” The words flew out of her mouth, but to Emily they didn’t feel like her own. An off the cuff sort of spew with no meaningful intent. It didn’t change anything. It didn’t eliminate the risk of being outed by someone else. Maybe all it changed was Emily getting to stay in her comfort space.

Joyce was quiet for a second, honestly blindsighted by a sort of fair question. Amy had obviously never come to their home, but that was because they were mostly on a seamstress and commissioner type of relationship, though that seemed to have evolved a little. “Is that what you want? To see if Amy will come here?” Joyce calmly asked. Her patience was still plentiful and she wasn’t testing the girl, just seeking to confirm.

Nervously, Emily nodded her head. “Is…is that okay?”

“…Let me call Amy,” Joyce frowned, at herself and not Emily, “I…didn’t really think of that.”

A few minutes later and Joyce was alone in their room with the phone to her ear.

Just after some short buzzes and another voice was on the line. “Heyyy~!” Amy excitedly greeted, “Thought I’d be hearing from you soon! So? What’s up? Am I still expecting you two?”

“Maybe,” Joyce sighed, “sort of… Emily is having nerves, so she’s still on the fence, but that’s better than how she felt about it the very first time. I don’t think I’m going to convince her to get out of the house today. So…if you’re fine with it, you can come here?”

“Oh?” Amy’s reaction wasn’t expected, as far as Joyce was concerned. They’d known each other for some time, pre-dating Emily quite easily, but the idea of being friends was something still quite new to Joyce, and likely Amy herself. “I don’t mind, as long as you’re okay with it? Sorry,” she chuckled, “I guess I didn’t expect that, but I also guess Emily might be feeling a little nervous.”

“I could see her heart beating out of her chest…” Joyce lamented. “You really don’t mind? It’s sort of a business related thing, so I feel kind of awkward asking.”

“You’re using my personal number, aren’t you?” Amy butted in. “Joyce, I don’t go hunting down my clients just to see how they look in my clothes. Of course this is different…ish. Think of it as me gathering some more visual material in case you plan on having any more stuff made. So okay, how far away are you? Can you send me the address?”

And with a brief exchange of details, Joyce bid her a temporary goodbye, now awaiting her friend to arrive.

“Okay,” Joyce found Emily laying on the couch pensively, “she’ll be here in a few.”

“She’s really coming?” Emily sat up, partly hoping it would be too strange of a request and they could have just kicked this can down the road a little bit further.

“Yes, and because she’s coming now, there aren’t any more backsies on this,” Joyce firmly added, now realizing the beautiful upside. Emily wasn’t in any danger, which is why Joyce had no qualms about the girl painting herself into a corner.

“…Okay.”

“Hey,” Joyce’s voice edged on a warning the moment she saw it in Emily’s eyes. “No attitude. We compromised and got Amy to agree to come here. That’s what you wanted, isn’t it?” If Joyce was a betting kind of person, she’d have guessed Emily was trying to force a ridiculous standard, but wasn’t expecting to have her bluff called.

Emily was quiet with her cheek against her shoulder, looking at the couch while she tried to come to terms with the new, suddenly worse development.

“…Are you upset with me?” Joyce asked, standing beside the couch.

“No…” Emily continued to look away, but her honesty was genuine. “I’m nervous. I’m scared.”

And all the talking in the world felt like it wasn’t going to convince her, hence Joyce’s own apprehension.

“Do you want a bath before she comes? Just some time to relax?”

“I wanna shower…” Emily decided right then. Maybe it was her subconscious trying to do something adult-like before she had to go back into childish clothes, like it’d have some kind of residual effect that could lessen the sensory impact of onesies and footie pajamas.

“Okay,” Joyce nodded, no offense taken. “I’ll check on you in a little bit when we should probably get you changed and dressed in the nursery.”

Emily wasn’t feeling for words, mumbling something akin to a nod before heading off to the bathroom.

With nothing left to do but wait, Joyce wandered into her office, opting to kill time in her own way.


“P-please…!” Emily begged, practically on the verge of tears. “Don’t make me! I…I’m gonna be sick. Please, make her come back another day! I promise! Next weekend!”

“And I promise,” Joyce leaned over Emily, strapped onto the changing table, kissing her on the lips, “you’re going to be fine.” Her voice was rock-steady and completely unphased by the girl entering hysterics.

Emily continued to breathe quickly and sniffle quite often as the denim hem of her dress was pulled up and so was the flap of her onesie to make room for her padded underwear. Thank goodness for the strap, otherwise Emily would have been running. If she had any control she would be doing her damndest to put a stop to this.

The diaper was soft, the powder smelled nice, but any kind of comforts those feelings may have given in the past were nonexistent now. Vastly overshadowed by an impending doom, Emily wanted more than nothing just to hide.

“Do you want your pacifier?” Joyce asked an honest question, not to tease.

“Nnn…no…” She couldn’t keep her eyes straight, constantly shifting where she looked. A pacifier was too dangerous, obviously. She wouldn’t be caught dead with one in front of Amy. Not in front of anyone but Joyce, and that’s only if she made her use one!

“Then here’s Pip,” Joyce set the stuffed animal on her stomach, making her look all sorts of conflicted.

“No…I don’t want this either…! I don’t want Amy to see! Please, Joyce! Please!”

“Emily…” Joyce was finding it hard to hide her own troubled look. She knew this was going to work out. She just did, but of course Emily couldn’t see that. She was far too blinded by her own anxieties and worries. After all, she was the one putting herself most on the line here? “It’s like a bandage, okay? Once we rip it off, you’re gonna feel silly for worrying like this in the first place, okay? Deep breaths, sweetheart.”

And so Emily tried the breathing exercises, maybe just barely passing. And despite her protests, she was currently squeezing the dear inanimate life out of Pip.

And then it came. A distant ring, like the sound of a horn before the impending stampede; the call to battle. Emily stretched her head and looked behind at the door, as did Joyce. Her phone was ringing. Who could it be? Only one specific person in mind was Emily’s terrified guess.

A click of the buckle’s release let Emily off the table while Joyce excused herself to answer the phone.

“Hello? Amy?”

“Mhm. This is she! I’m in the lobby, I think. Did you tell the people here that I was coming? Can I just take the elevator up?”

“Yep and yes. Go on ahead. Just ring the doorbell once you’re here. See you soon.”

After hanging up, Joyce peered around the apartment, winding back up in the nursery.

“Emily…” Joyce stared down at the large stuffed bear in the corner, looking a bit farther out from the walls than it usually did.

“Please…I don’t feel good!” Emily begged from behind the giant bear. “I wanna throw up!”

“Then let’s take you to the toilet, okay?” Joyce beckoned with a hand. She couldn’t see any other way of handling this than by just brushing off her childish delays.

“I’m…I’m staying here…” Emily frowned in her fetal position.

“Here?” Joyce questioned. “So you’re fine with Amy seeing the nursery?”

“No!” Emily shouted back, caught in her own words being twisted right back at her. “You…you know what I mean!” she rubbed her eye while the other hand grabbed as hard as it could onto the stuffed bear.

“I do know what you mean,” Joyce kneeled in front of Emily and the bear between them, “and I’m trying to show you that you’re blowing this out of proportion.”

“But she’s gonna see me like this…! She’s gonna see how you treat me like a baby!”

“I don’t have to treat you like that? Not while she’s here?” Joyce tried to reason. “You’re just Emily, my sweet and beautiful girlfriend. What you’ve always been, and what you’re still going to be today. Can we please come out of the nursery now? I’m not trying to embarrass you. I want to keep the same secrets that you do, but all I’m trying to say is that Amy already knows about some of this…”

Emily in tears followed her by the hand out of the nursery, dearly clutching Pip as well.

“It’s making noise…” Emily sniffled, referring to her diaper.

“It’s always made noise.” Joyce soothed her as she locked the nursery door.

And while Emily self-consciously looked at her butt over her shoulder, she jumped with a startle when the doorbell rang.

“Okay, Em, it’s gonna be fine, alright–” Joyce was assuring her, but fell flat when Emily was nowhere to be seen. With a sigh she walked to the door all on her own. “We’ll find you in a minute!” she called out to the rest of the apartment where a wild Emily lurked somewhere.

Amy was all smiles when Joyce opened the door. Wearing modestly expensive, yet somehow casual street clothes, she had a large canvas bag slung over her shoulder, looking absentminded for only just a second before she paid Joyce any attention.

“Hey there!” Amy grinned, greeting the host first despite being the guest.

“Hey Amy,” Joyce smiled back, “glad you could come! Sorry about the last minute shift…”

She shrugged it off with a wave. “I was expecting worse; this is completely fine with me. I’m too excited to care!” A giddy look ran over her face. “Where’s Emily? Is she getting dressed?”

Now Joyce’s look faltered a bit, glancing over her shoulder. “W-well… She’s a bit nervous right now. I may have lost her…”

“Lost her?” Amy raised her brows. “Should…should I leave?”

“No,” Joyce came right back with a knee-jerk response. “You’ve waited long enough, and truthfully, Emily needs to learn how to get out of her own way… And please,” she lowered her voice, “please no teasing? I know you’d never make fun of her, but she’s…sensitive right now.” Understandably, though.

“Cross my heart,” Amy dutifully nodded, looking no less deterred and still just as excited. “So is she hiding?”

“Definitely,” Joyce stared at the hallway like there was an imaginary trail of breadcrumbs. “I think we should give her another minute though… Do you want some coffee?”

“Sounds great,” Amy smiled, taking her first step inside. “I can’t believe this is the kind of building you live in, by the way… Well, no, I can believe it, but I’m just…wow. Jealous, I guess.”

“Thank you, I think,” Joyce laughed a little, pointing to where Amy’s shoes could go. “It’s convenient,” if not outright lavish and luxurious, “and keeps me close to my work.”

“Oh yeah? Are you the type with multiple homes?” Amy followed Joyce into the kitchen, but of course her head tried to see into the living room the entire short trip the other way.

“Can’t say that I am. No reason for it yet,” Joyce casually shrugged. “Besides, I bet you make a killing yourself. I’d imagine you have a vacation home or something?”

“Hardly,” Amy scoffed, doused in a splash of cold water, reminding her of the difference between her own standing and Joyce’s. “Yeah, I can manage a vacation wherever I want out of the year, but I can’t hold on to properties like poker chips!” she laughed. “Who knows, maybe Emily could find me–Ooh, wait, shit–my bad.” she quickly backpedaled her voice with a look of guilt.

“It’s fine,” Joyce calmly waved it off. “We’re doing fine. It’s a little bit of an adjustment for her, but Emily’s doing well.” For the most part, given that she was hiding at the moment out of fear of embarrassment.

While Joyce brewed some brew, Amy casually walked throughout the spacious kitchen, finally coming over to the fridge. “Awh, who’s the artist?”

Joyce turned her head and saw the drawing on the fridge. Carefully torn from a coloring book was a black print outlined drawing of chirping birds in a nest atop a tree overlooking a river and mountain. A simplified cartoon drawing. The birds were a mismatch of colors, the rivers were anything but blue, and the leaves had transcended somehow beyond the red, orange, and yellow of a leaf’s typical “outrage” season.

“Oh, that? That’s something my friend’s niece did for me a while back,” Joyce shrugged, spinning the lie without skipping a beat, somehow still fresh in her mind from the day Emily colored it.

“Oh that’s cute,” Amy remarked, leaning in a bit closer. She turned her head over at Joyce and said, “There’s an ‘E’ on it, too?” She grinned and the inner parts of Joyce’s lips started to fold.

“Mhm. Funny coincidence. I like to tease Emily about it being a drawing she made for me,” she rolled with the punches and tried to take the meta route.

“Yeah?” Amy laughed and stood back up away from the fridge, happily accepting a warm mug. After a sip with both hands she asked, “So can I use that against her, too?”

“Uh-mmm…” Joyce lightly coughed from the stutter she’d been given mid-sip. “It’s sort of an inside joke…” In very, very recent retrospect, Amy was probably the last person to try and fool. There was far too much chemistry between them added with a handful of writing on the wall that told enough of a story to the point where coincidences couldn’t just be coincidences. Amy knew, and Joyce knew she knew.

“Don’t say anything about it…” Joyce mouthed a whisper.

And with a pair of fingers to her lips, Amy zipped them shut.

Nothing more needed to be said and the topic came to a close. Joyce looked down at the coffee maker with a distant expression before snapping back to the present.

“Alright,” she sighed, having prepared enough and stalled for far too long, “I’m gonna go wrangle her out now. She’s had plenty of time.”

“Look at you!” Amy smirked, “No nonsense kind of partner, huh?”

“Just a very loving one,” Joyce spoke true to her heart. “You can come wait in the living room while I go get her.”

Amy followed Joyce as far as the couch, another room with an amazing view to leave the woman starstruck and distracted enough for Joyce to quietly excuse herself down the hall. It was sort of a guessing game as to where Emily might be, but it didn’t feel like much of a game when the first place she looked was the correct guess.

Like a two-year old caught under the slide, Joyce could see the spot of black hair peeking from the other side of the bed.

“Ready to come out?” Joyce sat by the corner of the bed, looking at Emily sat on the floor, clutching Pip.

“No…” She sorely responded. The thought of exposing herself like this was heart-wrenching. It made her so uncomfortable, so raw and exposed. All those feelings weren’t anything new; it was the same sensations she felt when she was like this with Joyce, except they were good feelings. Now it was all like poison.

“No?” Joyce rhythmically stroked the top of Emily’s head. “If you really didn’t want to do this, why didn’t you just take the clothes off…or use our phrase?”

And then came the helpless gesture; a shrug of the shoulders.

“I think it’s because you’re my good girl. My special, pretty, adorable little girl.” With a little bit of cooperation, she lifted Emily back onto the side of the bed. “Amy worked so hard to make you even more adorable and help us both bond even more than we already have. She’s honestly helped me and you in a few different ways… You’re my absolute treasure, Emily, and I’m very picky about sharing,” she gave her a playfully stern look. “But I want to share this with Amy because I want her to know how appreciative we are. I want her to see how amazing you look.”

“I’m…I’m scared…” Emily quietly spoke. The anxiety was killing her, imagining just how Amy might react. She wasn’t going to see what Joyce saw. She’d see a grown adult in children’s clothes, half-assing some kind of fantasy that hardly translated to an outsider.

“And that’s completely natural,” Joyce touched her forehead with her own. “But the only way you can stop being afraid is by ripping off the bandage, sweetheart. Can I hold your hand?”

Despite being the one who was asked for consent, Emily answered by initiating herself.

“Let’s walk out together, okay? You’re going to feel one-million times better the second you do. I promise.”

“What if I don’t…?”

“Then we send Amy home,” Joyce said as simply as that. “Then, I will spend the rest of today and even tomorrow pampering you and spoiling you until all those bad feelings go away. But I’m not going to do that because it’s not going to happen,” she made doubly sure to get a look at Emily’s eyes. “Now what do you say?”

Everything was always a downward spiral, funneling into a single point of convergence and an absolute inevitability. Amy was going to know. She knew enough already. That is what ran through Emily’s terrified mind. There wasn’t much left to see, yet that small bit felt even more sacred and top secret than the rest. Words were words and rumors were fickle, but seeing was believing and oh-so tangible, just like the denim skirt her knuckle was anxiously kneading itself into.

It was almost like learning how to walk again the moment she stood. Shaky legs like a newborn fawn, her caregiver was right beside her to fill the role of a physical and emotional crutch.

Nervousness was a part of life. Fear, apprehension, worry and panic were simply par for the course. Everyone goes through stress and faces difficult decisions and moments in their life, and Emily was going through nothing different, except she’d truly reached a new peak of terror. Her first day of school, being scolded by her teacher, speaking in front of a crowd, her first job interview… Maybe it was the heat of the moment, or maybe it was simply the fact that this moment was the most emotionally tiring and stressful thing she’d ever had to deal with. Her emotions were gaslit like wind chill making the temperature feel absolutely so much colder.

By the time they were out in the hall she was a quivering mess with Joyce’s hand practically behind her back by the way Emily crawled behind.

She was going to die. It was social suicide. The moment she showed herself, it’d all be over. Joyce was insane. She was crazy. There wasn’t anything rational about this! They can’t show Amy, no matter how much she’s seen already! It didn’t matter! It wasn’t right! No, no. Emily knew. She couldn’t do this. Absolutely not. There was still a chance. A chance to turn around and run back to the room, beg while kicking, screaming and crying for Joyce to send Amy home.

Her eyes were focusing lasers on Joyce’s back, the fear was so paralyzing her peripheral vision was shutting down.

“J-…Joy…Jo–”

A mind-numbing jolt of static ran through her body the moment Amy’s gasp reached her ears. The shock fried her nerves and her muscles twitched. Her legs didn’t work and she was locked in place. What she could manage was grabbing the back of Joyce’s sweater with both hands. She didn’t care how it looked because her mind was far too haywire to even care about that anymore. She just wanted to hide. Joyce’s hips were wide, but not wide enough to hide the spread of her denim skirt, courtesy of the woman she was so desperately trying to conceal it from. The window to leave was gone. Over. It was finished.

And then there was betrayal. Her rock. Her lifeline, the one she’d surrendered everything to. She took one step, and then another. Emily couldn’t move her feet, so the moment Joyce shifted Emily stumbled with an incoherent whimper. Everything was so hot, her face was a million degrees. The TV dramas in her mind surrounded her, laughing like a chorus of hyenas, ridiculing her for barely heeding the vast “warnings” they showed with every single stereotype of trusting the dear friend, believing in your closest loved ones just to find a knife in your back.

All she needed was some kind of garnish and she would have made the perfect meal for the encroaching predator. Amy was up from the couch with a wide-eyed expression as Emily’s panic only intensified. Her hands trembled and the worry was all over her face, yet either Amy didn’t notice or in Emily’s biased mind, she was enjoying it all the more just to see the poor victim squirm.

“Ho…–” Amy started to speak, yet she’d continually pause to chuckle, raining down on Emily like damaging blows, making her flinch with each reaction. “H-holy shit…!”

Emily tried screaming for Joyce, fearing for her very life. Amy was a bully. A cruel, ruthless person who was about to make a mockery of her. But the air left her lungs as her nervous breathing robbed her of the ability to cry for help and her head was frozen like her feet.

Amy tensed her shoulders and covered her mouth, frantically looking straight at Emily with wide eyes, then briefly glancing back at Joyce as if she were watching a sport.

Emily wanted nothing more than for it all to stop. She truly did want to disappear. Joyce was wrong, this wasn’t going at all how she said it would. Hiccuping, tears rolled down her cheeks once her mind stopped choking up long enough for her to process more negative emotions.

The moment she did start to cry though, the absolute glee on Amy’s face stopped on a dime as utter horror overcame her.

And finally, after a few moments stretched out into a millennia by sheer anxiety and embarrassment, time started pacing like it should.

“Oh! Oh my gosh! No! No! Emily!” Amy shouted with a desperate voice and stumbled Emily forward into her arms. Joyce continued to watch a few steps back, expecting something like this, but being no less surprised. Over Emily’s shoulder Amy could not seem to wash away whatever cocktail of rapidfire excitement was running through her veins.

“You look so good! Holy shit…!” Amy couldn’t stop her rambling and even looked over at Joyce, gleefully shouting with utmost disbelief, “I made these! I made these clothes! Oh god! Hahaha!” The way she spoke to her creation only interfered with the way she tried to hug the sobbing Emily, prioritizing her own efforts on one front, yet trying to console Emily on the other.

Why was Emily being hugged? She didn’t know why. Bullies didn’t hug their prey. It was contradictory. Picking on someone wasn’t the same as comforting them. Maybe she was going to fling her? Had the conflict already escalated to physical abuse? Maybe Amy was that sort of bully.

Amy kept hugging her, endlessly spewing off one-line comments either to herself or the room for all, drowning in her artists’ high, lost to a plane of creativity neither women in attendance could hope to interpret. Only for brief moments would she ever break free from her own euphoric trance to say something intended to be comforting for Emily, or a half-baked statement for Joyce. By all accounts, it was Amy who had been fried.

“Okay…” Joyce stepped in with a smile, “I think she wants me.” She slipped her hands tactfully between Amy’s arms and Emily, releasing her with ease into a new set of hands.

The touch was familiar almost instantly, and Emily, the well-trained pet that she was, recognized her owner’s scent. The feeling came back in her legs and the adrenaline inspired her to spin around and crash forward into Joyce.

“I’ve got you…I’ve got you…” her soothing voice continued to play on repeat. Amy stood there with a long-lasting look of fidgety ecstaticism, like electricity was firing from her fingertips.

Like it was just them and in their own bubble, Joyce soothingly suggested, “Why don’t we go sit down, huh?” And a quiet look over Emily’s head suggested the same to Amy, who was more than happy to oblige.

Every kind of defense mechanism was screaming, blaring alarms and flashing red lights. She was moments away from self-destruction or complete shut down, and it only grew worse when even the blanket they usually kept on the couch was nowhere to be found.

It was impossible to ignore. Inconceivable to think otherwise. Emily stared at her legs and the floor, willing to believe that somehow magi-fied Amy out of existence. But she knew it didn’t. She knew none of it worked when the sounds Amy made and the presence of her drilling stare shattered all those illusions of pure fantasy.

Amy, meanwhile, continued to make an endless array of facial expressions, animating her hands like her life depended on it. She was over the moon, quite clearly, continuing to snuff any of the concerns she may have had about Emily’s own feelings.

“Oh my God…” Her head couldn’t stop turning and treated Joyce like her prized confidant, someone else to share in the absolute glory. Joyce had already had her fun under the sun with this once and even now it didn’t make Emily any less adorable to her, but even Amy seemed to be pushing the shock factor to new limits.

“I-Ah…ahm…I-hm…I’m sorry…!” Emily finally blurted. “Ihm sorry! Ihm sorry!”

Finally it was the outlandish words that convinced Amy’s mind to write something other than ecstatic on her face. “W–what? You’re sorry?” Quickly, she looked to the Emily whisperer for interpretation.

“Wh…what are you sorry about, Emily?” A bit dusty on her studies in adult child-rearing, the scholar chose to refresh herself on the spot. “No one’s upset with you?”

“I…I look weird! This…this is wrong!” she sobbed, pinching the fabric on Joyce’s sleeve. “Please…! Please let me change! I don’t wanna do this anymore…!”

“No, please don’t!” Amy nearly gasped at the gunshot of a plea. “Emily…!” The snuggled duo suddenly became a trio the moment Amy slid right next to her other side. “This…this is so perfect! You look amazing!”

It didn’t matter what words of encouragement there were. Emily could hardly see it that way. She was embarrassed. Mortified. She wanted to be dignified, dressed maturely. This was for Joyce and no one else. Where was the undo button? How could she rewind this mistake?

“Emily?”

What if she just stopped breathing? Or pretended to fall asleep? Maybe Amy could be convinced to go home if she tried that.

“Emily…?”

Or…or if she locked herself in the bedroom. Or the bathroom. Hold herself hostage until Amy left. What if she left herself? No, bad idea…baby clothes and all…

“Emily!”

Startled and teary, Emily jumped from the raise in volume of a voice right next to her. Joyce had won her attention, maybe if only for a brief moment.

“You do not look weird and this isn’t wrong. You’ve heard it yourself, haven’t you? Amy thinks you look great!”

“Adorable,” Amy, a devil for the details as much as a fuss for every improper stitch, corrected, “actually.”

Rolling her eyes with a grin, Joyce hoped some of it might be infectious for the overwhelmed girl. “See? Amy would never tease you, especially because there’s nothing to tease about.”

“But…” Words were words, and feelings could cut much deeper than just sounds, but the reverse could also be true in some cases… Emily’s irrational logic was failing her and that only continued to make things feel less and less stable.

“And for as long as Amy’s here today, you’re going to stay dressed like this.”

Right then, words nearly did kill. Had the look in Emily’s eyes and the noise from her mouth been testimony, Joyce would have been charged for murder. And just as her conscience was fading and she really was about to sink inside of herself, Joyce simply would not let go of the reins.

“Hey, look at me?” Joyce reached into her metaphorical bag of assertive tricks and steered Emily by the chin to look back up at her. “You’re sitting here right now, aren’t you? The world isn’t ending, you’re still loved, and you’re in front of two people right now that think you look absolutely amazing.”

Emily’s lips tensed up as they struggled to decide what they wanted to do. Quiver, speak, or just stay put.

And if there wasn’t enough baggage already, “And Emily, also remember that you can always blame me? I’m the reason you’re dressed like this, aren’t I? So if you want to be mad, be mad at me. It’s okay, I can handle it.” She laughed at her own self-sacrifice, but Emily didn’t laugh back. The troubled look never left her face, but she wasn’t making desperate noises anymore. No more desperate pleas. She was uncomfortable and nervous. But…she wasn’t dying. It wasn’t quite the end of the world. Just potentially the onset of it. Nevertheless, there was one less degree of imminent danger, as exposed as she literally was and felt.

“Emily?” It wasn’t Joyce’s voice, and that meant to pay it respectful attention, Emily would have to look them in the eyes. Quite hesitantly, Emily looked up at Amy.

“Can I just say how happy I am that you’re wearing this?” At some point, the skirt of Emily’s denim dress was between Amy’s fingers. “I’ve never had the chance to make stuff like this before, and you should have seen what Joyce was like when I first showed these to her! Weren’t you bouncing off the walls?” She laughed at Joyce’s expense.

“M…Maybe a little…” With a sudden shift in spotlight, Joyce averted her eyes a small bit, but she was smiling.

“Emily, I just want you to know that I think you look amazing dressed like this and how much it means to me that you’re willing to show me how it looks.” And the entire time she spoke, her eyes continued to shift up and down, emotionally overwhelmed herself by the absolutely surreal reveal. To Amy, it was stupefyingly amazing just how much a person in already-amazing clothes could magnify the wow-ness of it!

And finally, just by a tiny bit, Emily’s mouth was tugged by the corners, even if only a little.

Then the front of her denim dress was nonchalantly flipped up.

“Oh my gosh! That’s right! I thought we made a onesie for this one!”

Suddenly smiles were quivering frowns.

“A–AMY!!”


“So it’s comfy when you move around? They feel like clothes-clothes, right? Not like costume clothes?”

“I…I guess…yeah…” The blush never left her cheeks since Amy’s arrival, but Emily was finally open to limited conversation as she “walked”, but more honestly shuffled across the floor for Amy. It was like wearing these for the first time all over again with how Joyce asked similar questions, only now there was a whole new level of scrutiny.

“Is this your sketchbook?” Joyce couldn’t help but peer into the large object already half-outside the large canvas bag that Amy brought.

“One of them,” Amy answered without turning her attention, “ever since you put me down this rabbit hole, frankly I’ve had to separate some of the idea streams just to keep it from getting jumbled.”

“So what you’re saying is…the one you brought today has to do with stuff related to…this?” Her curiosity couldn’t have been killed even if it were nuked. With a probing and mischievous finger, Joyce was already dying just to “accidentally” flip the front cover open.

“Hm?” Now she finally looked back over her shoulder, sitting front and forward just to watch the embarrassed model in diapers walk the line. Suddenly Joyce’s hands were back at her sides, one busying itself with a warm mug of coffee. “Yes, it is.” And quite defensively she pulled the canvas bag far and away from snooping peeks. “Which you can see when I decide to show it to you.”

Now Joyce was frowning. Playfully. But a frown nonetheless. “Boring.” She miffed.

“Has she played in this outfit yet?” She looked back over at Emily, looking busy with the way she awkwardly drilled her toe into the floor, desperately hoping to be allowed to sit back down.

“Uhm…well, sort of.” Joyce half-shrugged. Now the idea of “play” wasn’t feeling so universal. They hadn’t exactly done much that could be considered physically engaging… There wasn’t a place with privacy for it. “We haven’t done anything outside the house, if that’s what you’re asking.”

Amy nodded. “Well if you ever do, let me know how it goes. Obviously it makes her adorable,” and with her tone of voice it was like she was studying objectively despite such emotionally-charged words, “but it’d be ideal to make sure that it’s functional.”

“It has been so far, but it’s not like we can just go to the park like this…” Maybe in her dreams, but dreams were just that. Then again, many dreams were coming to life as of late…

“N-no…” Emily quietly whimpered. “Please…”

“Nope, don’t worry.” Joyce liked to tease, but only when it was appropriate. “You won’t be dressed like this in front of strangers.” An important part out of respect above all else for Emily, but also others who had no business with this, nor should they be forced to. As for Amy… Joyce quietly watched her for a few minutes. She was harder to tell just what all of this enticed her. The clothes, obviously, but to what degree and just how much of that bridged into other aspects?

“Emily? Hon?” Amy started, casually using the pet name, “Could you just try turning around and touching your toes for me?”

“Uhm…o…okay…” Clueless and none the wiser, Emily did so, stretching as best as she could.

Joyce was confused as well, but the spectator sport spoke for itself from the bleachers. She watched as the denim skirt of the dress started to ride up, not fully exposing what was underneath, yet just started to tease it. And from the corner of her eye she watched Amy dutifully scribble some notes.

“Okay, thank you!”

“What was that for…?”

“Just making sure none of the fabric stretches funny…” Amy continued to write, and Emily, as innocent as she was right then, was too self-conscious to notice the tiny wink from Amy that Joyce did in fact see, which was meant for her. One lover of adorable clothing to another.

Amy was good. Too good, and Joyce was trying to compose herself, lest Emily get any more nervous from the things she didn’t understand, nor would she be allowed to know.

“Okay, good. This is good. Really good.” Amy nodded affirmatively. “What about her sleepers? How have they been doing?”

“Oh…uhm…I don’t think we have tried them yet, come to think of it.” And also come to think of it, she’d only put Emily down in her crib for a nap only a few times. She still had yet to make Emily spend the night in it. The only problem though was that meant being without her cuddlebug a whole night herself…

“Mind if we give them a try now?”

“Emily, hon? You okay with that?” Joyce asked Emily, who was still standing at the front of the room nervously, specifically because no one had told her it was fine to leave yet.

“I…I guess…” By this point, things were already quite exposed in Emily’s eyes, so what difference did it make if her embarrassment was colored in pink or blue.

“Let’s excuse ourselves for a little wardrobe change, then~” Joyce hummed with her stride as she took Emily by the hand and down the hall. “We’ll be just a second Amy. No peeking!”

They walked right by the nursery this time and into the bedroom. \

“You moved them out in advance?” Emily asked from the bed.

“I didn’t want to risk opening up your nursery while she was here,” Joyce explained as she pulled out two different pajama sets from underneath a pair of normal looking jeans. “Unless you would have wanted Amy to see?”

“No…that’s okay…”

“You definitely seem a lot less nervous, you know?” A lot less, sure, but it was a relative term, and didn’t do away with her nervousness altogether.

“I…I dunno… She’s already seen me now, so…” And need she be reminded, but her denim skirt was flipped up and three loud pops from her crotch later, she was looking at her own diaper. “But I don’t like wearing a diaper around her…”

“Sorry, Em, but diapers are part of the whole process. And I doubt Amy minds those either, because it’s half of what makes the clothes fit so well, you know?” She added a kiss as a bonus, just to keep her soldier strong.

“Does…does doing this stuff make me weird?”

“It would be weird if we didn’t have our special things that make us feel so good…” Off the outfit came. “Everyone has things that they like, Emily, and just because others might not or may not understand it, that doesn’t make this stuff any less valid.” Thankfully Emily wasn’t a kicker when she didn’t want to be, as Joyce fed her feet into the sleeper without a struggle. “This does make you feel good, right?” Because it sure did for Joyce.

“Y…you know that, already…” Something that was at this point embarrassing to admit. Their justifications started in different places, but they always ended in the same spot.


A decent stretch of time had gone by, and it was filled with plenty of stretching from Emily. Awkward poses, rotating her arms, legs, going as far as crawling (which could only be coaxed out of her after much easier instructions to digest).

It’d become an extensive R&D session for Amy and Emily had become the poor puppet, whilst Joyce played the part of conversationalist for both sides, keeping Emily out of her own head as best as she could and continuing to chat with Amy.

“Like this…?” Emily mumbled with her face away and back towards the two women, splaying her legs in a sitting ‘W” position. She was in her second set of pajamas, which essentially felt identical to her, but as Amy put it, “Function is only half of fashion!”

And while Amy scribbled away; sketches and notes like a raging storm of overflowing consciousness onto paper, Emily finally turned partly over her shoulder.

“…Joyce?”

All it took was her tone of voice and Joyce was on her feet and over.

“What’s up?” she asked with a hand on her shoulder. “Did I mention how well you’re doing, by the way?”

“Thanks…” Emily scratched her head a little. It wasn’t itchy though.

“You can whisper in my ear, you know?” Joyce offered it up with a patient smile. Whether it was legitimate focus or mindful politeness, Amy was temporarily lost in her own sketchbook.

Cupping her hands over her mouth, like sharing a secret at recess, Emily shared with a nervous whisper, “I…I need to use the bathroom…”

“Amy?” Joyce exaggeratedly sighed at the woman on the couch. “Can’t we give her a break? I think by now Emily’s feeling a bit exhausted…did you get enough of what you need?”

“Oh?” she looked up from her sketchbook, but still wasn’t quite following. “Oh! Sure! Yeah, no, this is plenty. Thanks for being my model today, Ems! You can get changed, if you want,” she waved her off like it was her own studio. “Or don’t? You look cute, too?”

“And that’s that,” Joyce beamed at the flustered girl. “Can you stand?” Without waiting for an answer, she chanted, “and…one…two…three!” Hands in hands, Joyce bounced on the balls of her feet before finally rocketing into the air, standing her legs upright and so the same with Emily’s.

Behind closed doors, Emily wasn’t expecting Joyce to also be behind said door when they went into the bathroom.

“What? Don’t give me that look,” Joyce lightly chastised as she worked the zipper lining Emily’s back. “These were made to need a little help in getting them off,” just as quickly she spun back around as Emily’s pajamas hung from her knees, “and even if Amy is here, I’m still the one in charge of your diapers, got it?”

“I do get it…” Emily blushed all the way through her compliance, looking one way, then shooting her head right in the other direction the moment she was staring into the mirror. “C-can we turn on the sink or something? Just so–”

She was interrupted by a loud tearing adhesive sort of noise. The kind of noise that was like pulling apart strips of velcro. The kind of noise a diaper might make if it was taken off.

“Emily, she already knows.” Joyce reminded with a loving kiss.

“That…that doesn’t mean she still has to hear…!”

“And she didn’t.” Probably. It didn’t make Joyce’s tone any less soothing.

Joyce didn’t leave the bathroom when Emily sat on the toilet, and admittedly something like this didn’t bother her as much anymore, especially when it looked like Joyce was preoccupied with other things on her phone. A level of trust a mother might have for her recently toilet trained child, who has at least enough know-how to do their business and flush. Conditioning was both a frightening, and admittedly exciting thing.

“Sorry about that!” Joyce announced their return, and Emily was looking a bit more put-together this time now that she was in jeans and panties, two things that were simply incompatible with her other wardrobe nowadays. And yet the diaper she was just wearing was as if it had residual effects, somehow clinging to her image like a phantom.

When Amy looked at her by chance, or made eye contact to converse, Emily could see through her eyes. See the Emily that she was probably seeing. Just the silly girl who was still in diapers. The incompetent adult that could hardly hold her bladder, much less a job–

“Emily…?” A finger probed her cheek, momentarily lost in thought.

“What?” Emily quipped as she swiped away Joyce’s finger, who looked pleasantly bemused.

“So grouchy,” she chuckled. “I asked if you had anything in mind for lunch?”

“Like what? Are we ordering?” Takeout sounded wonderful, especially after an emotional gauntlet like that.

Joyce shared a look with Amy, who shrugged with disinterest. “It can be if you want? I think it’s fair to say that you earned the right to pick what we get for lunch?”

And so they did, as for once Emily wasn’t afraid to indulge herself. After being made the spectacle of these two, finally she was feeling some confidence now without a pampers prison putting her in check, she was willing to be a bit selfish.

Joyce strolled back into the living room, phone slipping back into her pocket. “Okay, order has been put in. It shouldn’t be too long.”

“Thanks for treating me, you two,” Amy finally huffed, apparently reaching some sort of conclusion with her work as she finally closed the book, sounding satisfied. “Oh! By the way, Emily? I’ve got a question for you.”

“Yeah?” Nervous was all she could be at her best right now. Just coming off of diapers and baby clothing, she’d only ever interacted with Amy in padding, so forgive her for being a bit skittish over a surprise ambush of questioning.

“Relax, relax, I’m not going to ask anything weird,” she laughed, “Joyce said you’ve been out of a job for a bit? How’s that going?”

Oh. Not a weird question, but not a comfortable one either. And apparently Joyce told her…

“It’s…going, I guess.” Emily tried to shrug, playing the role any adult would. Answering the tough questions, but somehow in a way that made the person asking not feel uncomfortable. In other words, lie and placate. “I’m managing, though. I’m sure I’ll be working again soon.”

“That’s good,” Amy nodded thoughtfully. “Because you know, I think I could give you some work?”

In unison, Emily and Joyce looked at her in surprise.

“What?”

3 Likes

I love this story it could so be true. It’s so well written that you can easily put it in the place of the characters.
Great job, i can’t wait for the sequel

hey I missed ya’ll

Thank you so much for the kind words! Also, shush! No talks about sequels judt yet! Let me finish the this story first! Haha

It has been a second, but I’m trying to be more active with posting here again!

Yep, and glad to see you posting again!

That was amazing to be treated to three chapters! I see more is on your Patreon. What is the delay time from them being posted there before they are posted here?

Whether it’s Amy, or Joyce’s secretary, or both, I have a feeling someone is going to end up seeing the nursery.

Just a theory, and time will tell.

Glad to be posting again! Thanks!

Three’s the magic number, of course! And yes, a little bit more is on Patreon, soon to be a little little more on top of that. Currently there is no concrete delay time, as it’s more along the lines of when I get around to finishing chapters for Sheltered. Since I have multiple stories going on at the moment, it is very optimistic when I say that I hope to be finishing a chapter a week. But, assuming that’s the best timeline, a chapter a week on Patreon probably means about two weeks until hitting here.

Because I want Patreon’s bank of stories and content to continue growing, that leads to a schedule ensuring that more content is being made than what’s leaving. Sheltered and most, if not all my stories will continue to be released publicly, however delay times compared to before Patreon are still going to be consistently faster than what I was doing before, lol.

Without a timeframe, it goes sort of like this:
1 public chapter for every 2 (maybe 3?) patreon chapters.

Thanks for reading and enjoying!

39 - Appointments

“Emily? Come on, we’re going to be late for your appointment! Let’s get your shoes on!” Joyce called from the slate entrance, dangling a pair of smaller-footed sneakers from her fingers.

“Can’t we go another day…?” a voice traveled back from a different room. “I’m not feeling too good…!”

“I’m sorry you feel that way, hon,” but Joyce wasn’t sorry that she wasn’t born yesterday, “I can schedule an appointment with Dr. Hall for you while we’re at the dentist?”

Silence. The sound of deteriorating negotiations. “…I’m not going!”

By this point, maybe Joyce was the fool for thinking she could get away with just a beck and call and expect total compliance. “Fussy, fussy, fussy…” she muttered, debating whether it was something to smile over, or find the strength to be stern.

Emily was laying on the bed, half of her face buried in Pip, but her eyes were immediately on Joyce once she stood beside the door frame. In her eyes were the fear of God and the inner child that was digging its heels. Or adult. Whichever it was, it was indignant.

“Emily. We are going to the dentist.”

“I’m fine! I brush my teeth! I floss!” Emily truly whined, and it wasn’t a gleeful one.

“And that doesn’t mean you get to just skip out on regular visits!” Joyce huffed. “What if you have a cavity and you don’t know it? Or you have something else going on that you won’t find out until it’s too late?”

Emily’s first answer was to squeeze Pip tighter. Of all places, not the dentist. A person poking around in your mouth with sharp tools? Absolutely not. Maybe once upon a time, ten or so odd years ago she had parents that forced her to go, but now she was a full-grown adult capable of making her own decisions. And yet, as Joyce stood there with a hand on her hip, even Emily felt her agency evaporating.

“I…I feel fine. My teeth are okay.”

And yet her words were only more rope to hang herself with. Joyce readily countered with, “Great, so then that means we’ll be in and out once we go?”

“I’m not going, Joyce! I hate the dentist! I’ll go when I actually need to! I’m an adult!” How did this even happen? All that stupid talk about running out of toothpaste and mentioning Joyce’s earlier appointment… Why did she have to get roped into her girlfriend’s routine? Six months a visit? Sure, that’s on her, but not Emily!

“Yes, you are an adult, but I’m only going to respect your decisions if they’re responsible and mature ones. Emily, honey, I get that you don’t like the dentist, but you know that it’s for your own good?”

Emily grumbled, pressing her hands down, determined not to move, chained to her tree no matter the bulldozer that came her way.

“Is that a yes? So you agree with me?” Joyce taunted.

An easy way to tease an answer. “No!” Emily shouted right back.

“Emily, if I have to carry you down to the car, do not think I won’t. If you want to eat tasty food and have sweets and dessert, you need to have a good set of teeth, and that means going to the dentist regularly.”

“Then I’m done having sweets!” Emily spat, finding the ultimatum that never really existed.

Joyce crossed her arms, hardly a believer in the change of attitude. “So you’re done? No sweets ever again? No ice cream, no chocolate, or those milkshakes that you like?”

“Nope.” She wasn’t even thinking, simply too focused on avoiding the dentist at all costs.

“So then you’re done with the pancakes I make too? Is that it? Same for your milk?”

“…Mhm…” Maybe she hadn’t really thought it through, but if this is what it took to call off the visit…

“No more banana pancakes, you know that, right?”

One too many buttons had been pushed and Emily for a moment was all cylinders, finally coming out with it. “–THE DENTIST SCARES ME!”

“I can tell that much…” Joyce sighed with a seat taken on the edge of the bed.

Yet somehow this put Emily for total shock. “A-and you’re still making me go?!”

“It doesn’t matter if you’re scared, Emily. It’s important for your health. I’m going to be there with you the whole time?” It was wild to think she was getting this much pushback. It felt even tougher than it was to get her in a diaper for the first time. “Please? Can you do it for me?” She gave a pause for an answer, but none came. “Do you know how that makes me feel? How worried I am that you could have something wrong with your teeth and it could’ve been dealt with much sooner?”

“That’s not fair…! You can’t guilt trip me like that…!”

“I can and I will if it convinces you, because it’s the truth, Emily. Wouldn’t you want peace of mind yourself?”

“I haven’t been to your dentist before though…what if they mess up or something?” Granted, Emily’s dentist lived on the other side of the country. What she wasn’t prepared to tell Joyce was that she hadn’t gone once since coming out here from her home state…

“They won’t. They’re paid good money not to mess up and they’ve been doing this for years. Try to think about other things, because it’s doing you no good worrying over things that aren’t going to happen. Here, I’ll even put your shoes on for you.” She phrased it like a kind gesture, but the quiet reality was Joyce forcing the notion that this was happening whether Emily liked it or not.

“Joyce…please…”

“We still have time to get your pacifier if that’s what we need?” Joyce commented as she tugged on the first shoe.

“No! That stays here!” Emily had another outburst of worry, yet her legs didn’t kick.

“I’m a minute from either making you choose between a diaper or Pip then, Emily. I love you and I’m not mad at you, but I will be stern if that’s what it takes to keep your wellbeing in check.” And if words weren’t enough, she raised off her knee to kiss Emily on the lips. “Not another word about not going, understood?”

She sniffled and started sobbing, nodding her head. Damn, why did she have to make Joyce feel so guilty? This was all certainly unexpected to Joyce. Paradoxically, for as much of a little girl she wanted to encourage Emily to be, it was quite surprising to find such a…fitting sort of stereotype embedded in her. Yet as guilty as Joyce felt, she had no qualms playing the villain if it was meant for Emily’s sake.

“You know how proud I am of you, right?”

“Mhmm…” Tearily, Emily nodded. She was upset, annoyed, and frustrated. She shouldn’t have to go if she didn’t want to. Joyce had no right forcing her to do things she didn’t want to do. So why wasn’t she fighting back? Physically resisting? That…that seemed like it would be going too far, but it also wasn’t fair that Joyce could physically force her!

“Hey,” Joyce lifted her chin, “no grumpy faces.”

Screw not being able to have any grumpiness. Grumpy was what she’d stay if she got nothing else. If Joyce was getting her way, Emily was at least entitled to malicious compliance.

Emily kept her words to herself, and most of her emotions. Like a game, whenever Joyce was watching, it was at best a dejected sort of look, otherwise it was back to frowning and sulking. Needless to say, this was far from how Emily planned their Friday afternoon going.

Finally, after walking down the hall, taking the elevator to the underground parking garage, getting in the car, and pulling onto the street, Emily finally said, “I don’t want any babying this weekend.”

Was it emotionally charged and the heat of the moment? Certainly, but in a moment of selfish spite, she was letting an absolute buzzkill of an outing affect everything to follow after it.

“Alright then.” Joyce, seemingly unfazed, answered back a second later. Her eyes were on the road, both hands on the wheel.

Emily tried to not let it show, but obviously that annoyed her a little. It was petty, of course, but she would have hoped that it might sting a little…

“We’re lucky that they were able to take you so soon, you know? I called on such short notice, yet they just managed to fit you in.”

“I wish they didn’t…” Spoken like a true mope, with a chin on her shoulder no less.

“Well I’m glad they did.”

The car ride went back to silence, save for the radio, but otherwise just that. The next checkpoint was arriving in the parking lot outside the multipurpose building, housing a hedge fund company, credit union branch, tech repairs, and a dreaded dentist…

“Okay, come on, time to get out,” Joyce spoke with basic commands every step of the way, preemptively, nipping in the bud any sort of bratty combativeness that Emily could try.

More and more Joyce was sounding less like a girlfriend and more like something else, and unfortunately it just meant that this was one of those days, or situations, given how things had gone this time. Inside the elevator Emily was quiet, but her feet were not. One would twitch, swing, maybe even tap the floor.

“Are you nervous?” The answer was obvious, but left unspoken. Joyce knew, but she wanted Emily to make it clear herself.

“No…” Emily scowled right back. This sucked. This sucked far too much. She didn’t want to be here, and if it weren’t for her girlfriend holding her hand, she’d have been long gone by now… Her foot stopped fidgeting.

The entire floor must have belonged to the tooth care place because the elevator opened right up into a waiting room. Leather seats propped on shiny metal legs lined the sides of the room, and even a grand aquarium from floor to ceiling divided up some of the chairs. Unheard of magazines sat neatly ordered on the glass coffee table and were paired with a decent view of bustling traffic down one of the many long city roads, loomed over by an endless array of skyscrapers.

One such woman was sitting by herself, reading one such magazine. She looked like a Joyce-type. Not the kind that tried to guess your diaper size and impose a bedtime, but the kind that did important work and made good money.

The whole room was clean and orderly. Emily hated it. It was all the signs to be seen in any sort of medical waiting room. And what was worse? Just in earshot the hum and buzzes of machines and machinations of horror were going off down the hall. What they did was anyone’s guess, but the less rational and easily perturbed ones might suppose they were rusty, oil-powered teeth-pullers and hand-held jackhammers for the mouth.

Whatever the equivalent for suicide watch was for a girl about to make a break for it, Joyce was on high-alert. Emily wanted to let go of her hand, but Joyce did not reciprocate.

“Hello, we have an appointment for Emily?” Joyce greeted the secretary behind the glass.

“Emily? Let’s see…Oh, yep, right here! Emily Sen, correct?”

“The one and only,” Joyce chuckled. “Is there anything she needs to fill out?”

“Yes, please,” the woman in her swivel chair navigated the tiny base of operations, assembling a paper, pen, and clipboard. “If she plans on staying with us, we’d like to use some of this information to help start a record until we can get what we need from her previous dentist.”

“Perfect. Thank you.” Started and ended on Emily’s behalf, Joyce took them over to a pair of seats. “Do you want me to fill this out, or would you rather?” she asked as they sat down.

“I want to go home…” Emily halfway sulked in her chair.

Joyce was already pushing and popping the pen’s spring-action button against the paper. “And we’ll go home after we finish up here. So am I filling this out, or are you?”

The noise was whirring now down the hall. No screams, thankfully, but it could also just mean that the dentist had started by slicing the victim’s vocal cords. Emily kept bouncing her knee, quiet and distressed.

Meanwhile, Joyce wasn’t humming any tunes this time as she quietly scribbled what she knew on-hand about Emily.

“Any allergies?” That one never came up, come to think.

“Pollen.”

“Are you seeing an orthodontist for anything right now?”

“No…” Joyce usually knew when she left the house, didn’t she?

“Any medication right now?”

“No…” Emily droned on and on to the questions. As much of a stranger as she was to a place like this, she certainly did remember the plethora of things on these sheets that were ninety-nine percent of the time followed by a resounding ‘no’ that hardly needed any sort of focus.

“Favorite animal?”

“Cat–” and her mouth slammed shut the moment she responded. An irked glare was what Emily was giving to Joyce who couldn’t help but grin.

“Just a little fun, come on…” Joyce muttered through a mumbling laugh.

“Yeah, well, you know I don’t want to be here.” Emily slumped further in the seat, grouchily murmuring.

“And it’s only something you have to do twice a year that takes half an hour. Tops. Sit up?” Joyce’s hand on Emily’s stomach set her back on the slope of a chair somewhat. “This is only going to be as difficult as you make it…”

By the slip of her tongue in a moment of impatience, Emily grouched back, “It wouldn’t be difficult if you just asked me what the stupid paper actually says…”

For being a person so in control of their words, it can always be oddly fascinating how by chance, one in a million, that your words can somehow bypass any filter or sense of rational thought you might have. Blindsided by her own words, swept by the heat of the moment. Emily tensed the second her subconscious voice finished speaking for her.

Then came the warm breath of air against her ear, but with none of the sweet coos and whispers to go with it. The warnings of consequence were just a handful of decibels from turning into a full-blown scolding that didn’t care whether or not the woman minding her own business just a few chairs down could hear.

So as a final mercy, Joyce calmly whispered into Emily’s ear.

“I know you don’t want to be here, but that is _no _excuse for the way you’re talking to me. I’m sorry for making you upset, but you are not going to be a grouch and take it out on me. Do I make myself clear?”

There must have been torrential downpour in the waiting room, because Emily’s tiny embers were now just soot washed away by the waves of her girlfriend’s wrath.

“…I’m…I’m sorry…”

What was far less private was the wet kiss on Emily’s cheek. “I’m sorry too.” Roses and sunshine, Joyce was back with the clipboard. Like her memory from a few seconds prior had vanished. “Okay…when was the last time you went to your other dentist?”

And like so, coincidence could be such a cruel mistress.

“Uhm…” Lie? Maybe, but truthfully, Emily was too frazzled to know whether or not it was safe to not-truth about that sort of thing. Lying to Joyce? Definitely not safe. But to the dentist? Was it that big of a deal…?

“At least six months, right?” Joyce seemed to be giving her the benefit of the doubt, but it was clear she was goading an answer.

“Yeah, six…” No eye contact worked wonders at heightening suspicion, come to find out.

“Emily? I know it’s been more than six.” Her eyes didn’t leave the paper. “You can tell me; it’s important that they know.”

“…ear…” Chin tucked over the other shoulder and seemingly enamored with the white wall to her side.

“I didn’t hear that, Emily. Speak up and look at me, please.”

Her head came halfway in a rusty, rickety fashion, jittering to the point that their gazes were parallel. “Th…three years…about…”

The absentminded twirling of the pen on paper halted immediately, like a calm and relaxing ensemble of smooth jazz music had suddenly just been stopped. Joyce gripped the pen, and Emily knew her answer wasn’t received without silent judgment. But it did stay silent, as Joyce went back to writing without a word on the matter.

Was it guilt that she was feeling? Guilt for not going to the dentist? Not quite. Maybe some of that was there, and maybe there was some for not meeting Joyce’s standards, which were quite average in this regard, honestly. But no, it was guilt owed to herself for not keeping this all a secret any better…

Joyce didn’t have any more questions as she wrote, no more than asking for a signature, and Emily tried to busy herself with something on her phone. Anything.

“Martha?”

A woman in scrubs and face mask was standing by the entrance that led deeper into the dungeon. Holding her elbows she scanned the lobby among the three (but really two, and really only one if “willingness” was taken into account) patients.

The stranger stood with a bag over her shoulder and off she went. A nostalgic queasy spell was starting up in her stomach as Emily watched from the corner of her eye. Was that woman going to come out the same? Maybe as a toothless abomination, or a battle-scarred victim of a lazy-handed drill-wielding fiend who got off on other’s suffering for fun…

Deep breaths. Meditation. Maybe, just maybe, in that quiet waiting room Emily could awaken her otherworldly powers and discover the very secrets to stopping time itself. Would life move on? Hardly not, but a meager price to pay if it meant dodging–

“Emily?”

Crap. Shit! Shut her eyes tighter! Don’t stop time! Reverse it! Right before she met Joyce, just so she can cover all the tracks from her medical history!

And yet the uncultured folk beside her assaulted her deep meditations with a soft poke on the shoulder.

“They’re calling you?” Thank you, Joyce. Truly. Emily was blinded by all the brownie points Joyce was burning through like it was some sort of race. Hesitantly, she stood.

This must have been what convicts on death row felt like, except so much worse. Emily was guilty of no crime. She took good care of her teeth! What neglect? She was being framed! Miss one or two appearance dates every six months and suddenly she’s a criminal?

Call her an attention seeker, because Emily briefly glanced at Joyce beside her, then blinked twice. No Joyce. She turned her head back farther. There Joyce was, still sitting at the chairs, browsing her own phone, like this wasn’t the last time she’d ever see her girlfriend!

“Uhm…” the worker garnered Emily’s attention again, “right down here.”

Emily stepped forward but just barely hid a noise of discomfort. Why wasn’t Joyce coming? She had a quiet voice telling her to stomp her foot. She was putting Emily through all of this, so she had to be there the entire time!

Then Emily had a brief moment of reflection. She’d been stubborn, indignant, combative and bratty the entire way here and even in her chair. She even shut down babying privileges for the whole weekend in a heated moment of anger.

Was this punishment? Joyce’s way of biting back? This sucked. This wasn’t fair. Emily may have toed the line, but Joyce was sprinting right past it! She knew Emily didn’t like the dentist, and she knew how much she didn’t want to be here! She has to come! She has to be moral support!

But outwardly quiet and wordless, Emily let herself be led along and down the hall. Alone and afraid.

“Right in here? Go ahead and sit down in the chair, I’ll be just a second.” the woman quietly excused herself as Emily walked inside. On some level she was reminded of her nursery.

A vibrant cartoon sky blue on the walls, puffy happy clouds and a personified smiling sun. Happy go-lucky frogs, talking trees and overjoyed flowers by the prospect of being violated by just as happy bees to boot. Two tall cabinets beyond the dentistry tools of destruction and signature torture chair in the center were prominently housing an audience of onlookers. Stuffed with cotton and lined with fur. An array of stuffed animals looked down at her.

“E…excuse me? Is this the right room?” Emily was already leaning her head out the doorway for the returning assistant.

Maybe her words held some weight, because the woman glanced at her clipboard and then the black, yellow-font engraved label on the door before answering, “Yes, this is the right room.”

“Alright…” Emily awkwardly sat on the edge of the chair, like she was only stopping by for a brief admiration of the decor. “Just seems like a room mainly used for kids…”

“Oh!” Like an afterthought had only just clicked, “I see what you mean.” she chuckled behind her facemask. “Our only other room is tied up with another patient at the moment and our other rooms are going under deep cleanings. We try to use the other room for all our adult patients, but this was an appointment on such short notice…”

Emily nodded understandingly, even if she didn’t like this any better. Wasn’t this bad for her headspace or something? What if she started associating baby time with dentists? Definitely a bad idea. It’d ruin everything they had. So maybe she could get up and leave with that reasoning. Joyce would understand, right?

“Emily? Sorry? Could you please lay down in the chair for me?” the woman kindly asked, already in her swivel chair sitting behind the head of where Emily was commanded to lay.

“S-sure…” Emily did say, but did not do. She twiddled her thumbs, taking a moment to breathe. Was her heart supposed to be popping out of her chest?

“Is…everything alright?” the dentalcare worker asked.

“Yes…” No. No. Definitely not.

“Would you…” it was obvious how awkward of a position Emily was putting the woman in, which is why like a knee-jerk reaction she half-collapsed onto the chair.

Emily cringed with shivers as the gloved pair of hands gently adjusted her head, tugging her like a motion to slide back a bit more.

“Okay, I’m going to raise the chair now, alright?”

“Mhm…”

The sudden jerk in hydraulic motion had Emily gripping the arms of the chair like her hands were the jaws of life. An involuntary yelp escaped her mouth the moment she started to rise as her feet rocked on their heels, tapping toes together repeatedly.

“C-can we slow down? I-I need a second…” Emily begged through the nerves and stress, barely even letting her back rest on the chair just in case she needed to make a quick escape.

Then the gloved hand lightly touched her shoulder.

“Wait right here for a minute, okay?” Emily couldn’t see, but she heard the woman get up from her chair and briefly leave the room.

Like it was an excuse to get out of bed, Emily sat up from the chair, absolutely miserable. She hated this. This is why she didn’t go to the dentist. This is why she took damn good care of her teeth just so she wouldn’t ever need to go! She could only glance behind her before seeing the tray of tools that made her skin crawl. The tubes and nozzles running underneath, or the deceptive tv on the wall playing muted movies from nearly two decades prior.

It was fine to leave, right? What if she cried? What if she begged Joyce to leave? She’d understand once she saw her like this, wouldn’t she?

A knock on the doorway snapped Emily out of it, even if only temporarily, as the woman came back in. With a friend this time.

“J-Joyce?”

She wore her same as usual smile, like no bad blood had ever flowed under her bridge. The staff was sitting back down in her chair and Emily nervously took that as a note to lay back down herself.

“It’s one thing if it’s me, but you can’t go causing trouble for the people here, you know?” Joyce grinned, pulling up a chair to Emily’s vacant side.

Speechlessness was all Emily could muster. She was flustered, embarrassed, aggravated, and relieved. Words were poor descriptors of the mess that her face was trying to express.

“She wasn’t causing trouble,” the woman chimed in with a small upbeat tone, “I just figured she might want someone with her.” Translation: get this adult her babysitter to make her behave.

“And was she right?” Joyce hogged the other end of the conversation, of which Emily saw before the assistant calmly turned Emily’s gaze back up to the ceiling. Cue the blinding light. Emily’s hand found itself hanging off the edge of the chair, and ever so coincidentally, Joyce’s was right there to catch it.

“You know, I didn’t even know that there was a room like this here?” Joyce looked around with curiosity and a twinkle in her eye. “I take it this is usually for kids?” And what did that say about Emily?

“Typically, but it has all the same equipment our other rooms do. Most of our other rooms are being cleaned right now.”

“Uh-huh,” Joyce nodded, and Emily listened, and squinted, just trying to squeeze anything she could out of Joyce’s hand, “I think it’s a lot more fun than the rooms I always get here.” The two women talking over Emily shared a laugh. “I don’t suppose we can make special requests for this?”

Emily tried not to throw a fit right then. Joyce knew what she was doing! Why was she bringing up all this stupid sensitive stuff! There was a line! A line!

But whether it was caused by oblivious nature or professional attitude, the woman didn’t take the question strangely. “Technically you can. Nothing about making an appointment says you can’t, but it could affect appointment availability.”

“Not an issue. We’ll be scheduling six months out from now right before we leave.” Joyce, the dual-edged sword said back. Loving and supporting, but in exchange committing Emily to a life of pain and suffering.

A shackle was donned around her neck next, fastened by a heavy iron padlock.

“Awh! They make those clip things for the tissue bibs look like little denchers?” Joyce remarked with pleasant amusement.

“Anything to keep someone distracted– but they are fun. I kinda like them myself.” The woman chuckled right back, then patted Emily’s trembling shoulder. “Emily?” she was looking down on Emily, who was looking up at her maker, “doing alright? I’m going to need you to open your mouth for me, please.”

Pardon the few teeth chatters on opening up, but eventually a view into Emily’s mouth did appear.

“A little wider, please?”

“Sorry, she can be a bit of a worrywart… She’s not a fan of the dentist.”

“I promise I’ll be extra gentle.” Her assurance sounded like that for a parent and their child. “Emily? Wide enough to say ‘ahh’ nice and clearly, okay?”

What was this? Torture? Was Joyce being here even helping? If there was supposed to be encouragement or moral support, it didn’t feel like she was getting what she needed.

“A-ahh…”

“A…a bit more, please?”

“A-Ahhh!”

“Wider, Emily, not louder.” Joyce added, rising just a little bit higher on Emily’s shit list.

Stretching her jaw some more and opening wide against her better judgment, Emily sounded, “A-AAHHH”

“I’m not that scary, am I?” The woman suddenly shifted gears with a grin, gently aligning Emily’s head once more.

Unfortunately Emily’s face had nowhere to go, not after feeling like a fool for playing into the dentist’s little fun…

“Now Emily,” she held two metal tools in her hands, “I’m just going to take a look inside, alright? This is just a normal cleaning, so if I find any plaque in there I’m gonna take it out, okay?”

“U-uh-huh…” She wasn’t crying, right? Definitely not. She was teary, but that was because of the light. It was a strong light. Super strong.

And so foreign bodies started to peer inside of her mouth. Sometimes the mirror tool would touch her tongue and nearly scare it down her own throat. The worst had yet to come though. The other tool was a hook. It had to be, because Emily cringed and whimpered against her will with each scrape or tug of something that made her whole head move just a tiny bit. All in all, kudos to Joyce for managing to keep a conversation while also having the life squeezed out of her hand.

“So far so good…” the preoccupied woman remarked. “Do you brush and floss normally?”

Emily through only her eyes delivered a bewildered expression. Did the dentist somehow expect her to speak? Was it a trap? If she moved her mouth, the woman might slip and cut the inside of her mouth with that horrible hook, then it’d be grounds to charge even more of a bill.

With frozen lips and a gaping mouth, Emily murmured back, “U-Uh-huh…”

By her side, Emily’s better half answered for her. “She does, but she isn’t very frequent with dentist visits, come to find out.” Need it be said that Joyce sounded less than pleased. Emily did her best to frown from the position she was in.

“Well…dentist visits are important, even if your teeth are looking like they’re in tip-top shape…” At least Emily had that going for her. It was enough for a silent sigh of relief, the kind that didn’t make a tool inside her mouth spasm and hit something unintended.

“Yes, they most certainly are.” Joyce continued to dogpile, suddenly turning the mood into an intervention for a woman laying in a chair against her will.

And finally, after a millenia of torture and uncertainty in the seat, the prodding tools came back out, no fresh wounds left behind, and the woman did seem gentle, which was nice…

“Alrighty, Emily,” the woman slipped out of view before coming right back in. “It looks like you’ve been doing a good job in there. Next up is fluoride. Mint or bubblegum?”

“Can’t…can’t I just have the normal stuff?” The last time she was asked about her preferred flavor of fluoride her age was in single digits.

“I can get some from the other room, but it may take a minute. My coworker is seeing another patient there right now. Do you mind waiting?”

And having to stay here any longer? Damn it. It all felt orchestrated. Premeditated. And Joyce, sitting behind her, could only shrug with a smile while her body language said, “Well, what can you do?”

What Emily _could _do was a mystery to herself that only grew more and more with her slipping responsibilities, but she did know what she couldn’t do, and that was being here for more than a single second in excess.

“Bubblegum…”

Maybe it was validation, or maybe it was instinctual, but for whatever reason Emily herself stole a look at Joyce, who held a quiet but observant smile.

“Come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve seen you around here? Whenever I come it’s always Hal that does my cleaning?” Joyce continued the idle chat, or so it seemed. Hearing Joyce converse with strangers always made Emily feel anxious just from trying to figure what her angle was. Joyce didn’t do things just because. She was calculating, conniving, evil! But…mostly the first thing.

“I just started here a few months ago, actually,” the smile she had was evident even from behind the mask, “my name is Kelly.” With her free hand she pointed a gloved finger underneath her nametag.

“Nice to meet you Kelly, and thank you for grabbing me; I just about had to drag my girlfriend here…”

Hghh-eeeey…” Emily muttered in a half-gargle over at Joyce with a tone that implied dwindling patience.

And without a word Emily could feel Joyce’s hand in hers go limp, as if trying to disconnect, which only made Emily squeeze harder with a flash of regret. One of the two brought Joyce back online.

Kelly chuckled awkwardly as she coated Emily’s teeth. “W-well…believe me, I’ve had plenty of people before that can be a bit squeamish around dentist stuff. I completely understand… If the parents don’t come in already, I usually check befor– Well, I mean– couples too, of course,” she quickly backpedaled her tongue apologetically, having voiced a thought that wasn’t much of a secret anymore.

Emily sighed once more. Not from the stress, fear, or any pain, but from the undeniable fact of what this all looked like to Kelly. What Emily looked like right then.

“We all have our weaknesses,” Joyce promptly countered though, sort of unexpectedly? She then made an audible shiver. “Jeez, thankfully it hasn’t happened yet, but I know I’ll be the one crying if I find a spider in our house… Emily’s definitely my knight in shining armor for that.”

“No?” She chuckled back. “Not a fan of insects?”

“I can handle stuff on the screen, but not those things in real life…” Joyce spoke like she was reliving past trauma before her eyes.

Emily could only wonder about the insect comment. Was it true, or was Just just trying to put her back on equal footing in the court of public opinion? Lie or truth…it did make her feel better. A lot less like the humiliation from going to the diner with her parents…

“Okay, Emily, I’m gonna wash some of the taste out now, alright?”

“U-uh-huh.”

This time a much more acceptable tool went into her mouth. Just a plastic rod that sprayed cold, refreshing water in her mouth.

“Close…” The woman in her motions instructed. “Swallow…”

Emily did so as the water nozzle in her mouth made a weird noise in response.

One, two more times they repeated the process.

“Any taste left?” She asked her as she took the paper bib around Emily’s neck to wipe the corner of her mouth.

“No,” Emily shook her head, tasting a bubble gum residue that’d been mostly washed away.

“Perfect. Alright, I’m just going to do one last routine check on your teeth with my hands and then you’ll be all set. Then the dentist is going to come in and just give you a quick look. Sound good?”

Another obedient nod from Emily. Hands, she could work with those. No metal hooks or prods, just normal handsy-ness.


“Proud of you, you know?” Joyce said for the umpteenth time, but now able to look at Emily when she said it, courtesy of a red light in city bumper to bumper traffic.

Emily, the unmovable, rested her chin on her hand as she quietly scowled out the window beside her, opposite Joyce’s look.

“Mhm.”

“Don’t ‘mhm’ me. Are you still upset?”

“Yes.”

“About what?”

“About going to the dentist.”

“I’m sorry that you don’t like going, but I’m not going to apologize for that, Emily. It’s something you’re supposed to do and you know it.”

“And that doesn’t mean I have to like it!”

“No, it doesn’t,” Joyce openly agreed, “but I’ll make sure that it’s Kelly that you see from now on for your next appointment.”

Next appointment.

It was enough to make Emily physically cringe. Another appointment. Another session of suffering. Like that, the next six months of her life had been ruined just from being cursed with the knowledge of what was to come. By this point Emily wasn’t sure if she was bold enough to declare that Joyce couldn’t “make” her go, especially when use of force had been threatened against her once already.

“And don’t worry, I’ll be making sure on Monday that Sheila has my schedule clear for your next appointment.” The duality of being a girlfriend and a mommy. Somehow both the support system Emily needed as well as the collar and chain that kept her in line.

“Why did you even tell me when the next one is?” Emily moaned, just short of a legitimate groan.

“Stop it, you’re being silly,” Joyce admonished.

“Isn’t that what I’m supposed to do? Act like a kid?” It wasn’t often that Emily could be irked, but the wrong buttons were being pushed right then and she was starting to become quite unapologetic about how they’d show.

“No, because you’re my grown-up girlfriend right now that explicitly told me that I would not be getting even the chance to baby this entire weekend,” finally, Joyce herself huffed back. Likewise for her, she could signal if she was upset in her own ways.

“Maybe if we didn’t go to the dentist…”

“Really?” Joyce scoffed, “you’re holding that over my head? Emily! You need to go to the dentist!”

“I was fine though! I had no cavities! I brush my teeth! I floss!”

“And that doesn’t change anything!”

“Yes it does! You made me go when I didn’t want to, then you stayed in the lobby the entire time after they called me in! You made me go in by myself, then only came in once someone finally called you! You said you were gonna be with me the entire time! A-and you made fun of me while you were talking with that assistant…!”

“I…” Joyce pursed her lips with her grip tightening on the wheel. “Emily…please don’t cry…”

Emily rubbed her wet eyes, spitefully sobbing back, “Why…? Do I need to be a baby to do that too?”

“I was upset, Emily…and I still kind of am. I’m sorry for making you feel like that…”

“Why are you upset?” Emily didn’t consider herself selfish and on better days made a point of being quite the opposite, but this was one of those days where she felt entitled to every bit of misery there was to be offered.

“Because it felt like you were shutting me off out of spite. I can handle you wanting a break from being my baby girl, Emily, but I don’t appreciate it being used against me because you’re upset.”

Emily fell silent. It was one of the few things she had said to Joyce as they were leaving for the dentist. A knee-jerk, offhand remark. Aimed and targeted, specifically out of spite. Lashing out because Joyce became the object of her frustration. It was crude. A low blow. She knew how much being a caregiver meant to Joyce, and it was blatant exploitation of that just to try and get her way, or at least make Joyce hurt in some way similar.

Compared to being forced into the dentist though, all Emily’s worries were superficial. She was strangling her partner just because of a minor inconvenience.

“I’m sorry…I’m sorry…I wasn’t thinking. You’re right. I said it because I was angry…!” Retrospect was a terrible thing, with a truckload of unnoticed mistakes and mishaps sneaking up from behind and dropping a whole new load of emotional baggage.

Emily tried her best to keep her throat open and clear, though it wavered with the ongoing threat of more tears. “Th-that wasn’t right of me. I know how much it means to you…it means so much to me, too… I…I just didn’t like being forced to go, Joyce.”

“I…first, thank you for apologizing,” between bumper-to-bumper traffic, Joyce was able to give her an eye-to-eye smile, “and I understand that you didn’t want to go, Emily. I guess it’s just my first time with this sort of…friction. I should have known better that it was just the aggravation talking.”

“But you have feelings too…” Emily sulked, hitting the depression swing of her phases. “All I was thinking of was myself.”

“Stop it. It’s all okay now. We talked about it and that’s it. I promise you didn’t hurt my feelings, okay?”

“Mhm…”

And unfortunately, or somewhat fortunately, a consequence of Emily’s selflessness came the immeasurable guilt she could feel if a tangible debt (that never existed) went unpaid.

“…Do you wanna make it up to me?” And in Joyce’s mind, let it not be labeled as exploitation, but simply an opportunity ripe for the taking.

“How?” Emily asked right back, with a tone that may have even implied a willingness to commit murder, so resolute.

“When we get home, we’ll go straight up to your nursery, get you in a diaper, put you down for a nap in your crib, and I’ll have a nice dinner ready for us by the time you wake up. How does that sound?” Probably okay, as far as Joyce could guess herself, all but one thing, though this time she had the leverage to be making such unpopular demands.

Emily, kneaded her fingers in her lap for a moment. “I…okay, but no nap? Please? I take back what I said! We can do babying all weekend! Just no naps, Joyce!”

“It’s not a punishment, Emily,” Joyce laughed, “naps are good for you, and I know that you need one.”

“No I don’t!” She groaned right back, a little too frazzled to watch the tone of her own voice.

“And that is what a cranky little girl sounds like. You’ve been cranky all day, missy. I’m sorry for not putting you down for one any sooner. I think we could have avoided this whole argument otherwise.”

“Now you’re teasing me.” Emily frowned.

“Farthest thing from it. So I take it we have a deal?” with the raise of a brow and an expectant smile, it was game, set, match.


“For someone who can be so against them, you sure do take naps like a champ?”

“I sleep, Joyce. What else is there to it?” Emily frowned, holding out her arms, awaiting the ascent from her prison cell.

“Well,” Joyce reached in and whooshed Emily out of the adult-sized crib, “I haven’t ever had to check in on you to remind you to go to sleep?”

That was an option? Emily was quiet for a moment, feeling a retrospective wave of stupidity hitting her right then.

“And don’t think that means you can stay up now,” Joyce interrupted her thought, scaring the stupidity away entirely.

“Wasn’t planning to.” She definitely was. And still maybe was… “What’s for dinner?” Emily asked with her head over Joyce’s shoulder, still blushing as she felt the finger slip its way down the back of her exposed diaper.

“Sandwiches, cheese, and crackers,” Joyce recited on the walk to the kitchen.

Emily hardly ever complained about dinner, and if at all, it was when she was the one cooking, which thankfully had become a thing of the past. With that in mind, Emily wasn’t complaining, however things certainly felt amiss. Sandwiches and a cheese platter was fit for a lunch, maybe, or a small passive meal to munch on during a gettogether. In other words, it felt oddly uncharacteristic.

“Really? I coulda cooked if you weren’t feeling it? Maybe you needed a nap…!”

“And it sounds like I got you up too early,” Joyce taunted right back. “And when you’re diapered you require absolute supervision around the kitchen at all times, got that?”

“Diapers don’t make my motor skills go away, you know…”

“So when you’re out of diapers then, too?”

Time to retreat. Refocus the subject. “Why’d you not cook?”

“I was going to, but then I remembered my special girl still has bubblegum in her mouth.”

Code for, ‘you went to the dentist and still have fluoride in your mouth that needs to go away on its own.’

“Oh.”

“Yes, ‘oh’. Nothing hot or crunchy for the rest of the night. No need to brush, either,” Joyce reminded. “Had I known this was going to happen though, I would’ve planned at least one dinner that wasn’t going to be hot…”

“You know those rules aren’t that big of a deal, right? People still eat what they want all the time…”

“And unlike those people, we’re going to do what the dentist told us so that I can keep my pretty girl with pearly whites.”

“Ya-huh…” Emily sulked right before perking back up to a new question. “Do I get to sit in a normal chair, at least?”

“Why wouldn’t you?” Joyce frowned with confusion.

“I mean, I dunno…you’re making me wear a–”

“And…in we go,” Joyce softly concluded, smiling cheerily as Emily, as flabbergasted and speechless as ever, was deposited into her high chair. What’s more, the plastic tray was clicked in place before Emily could find the words, though her face was doing enough talking on its own.

“What?” Joyce tried not to chuckle, “did you need a longer nap?”

“I said normal seat,” Emily frowned.

“This is normal, Emily.”

Emily swung her legs, feeling the firm, plastic and comfily padded grip of the seat all around her. “…Please? Can I please sit at the table…Mommy?”

It certainly never got old to hear and was always just as endearing.

“Once I think you can handle it, baby,” Joyce decided then and there, kissing Emily on the cheek.

“Head back, please?” Joyce, now behind the chair with an elastic band, was sporting a ponytail next on the girl.

“I don’t need a bib…” Emily groaned as the protective neck napkin was done up as well.

“And get the kitchen covered in crumbs? You’re being one very combative little girl tonight, you know that?”

“Can’t help it. I had tah go to the tooth doctor today,” Emily enunciated in a carefree voice, patting the plastic table and kicking with each syllable.

Joyce then put on a look of pure, unadulterated surprise. “Really now? Well? What did the tooth doctor say about your teeth?” She kept the little game of kid conversation going as she poured juice into an adult-sized sippy cup.

Then with two fingers, Emily hooked the corners of her mouth to flash her full set of front teeth. “Alllll gooood!” She couldn’t help but giggle the moment Joyce’s facade cracked just enough to give her an almost weird look, yet the endearment never left.

“Very, very good!” Joyce cooed as she set Emily’s plate of food and juice in front of her, then took her own seat at the table.

“Mmfhmm!” Emily mumbled through her mouthful of sandwich, crumbs and all. “And–” Emily stopped herself just to take a swig of juice, “Mommy said I’d get a present for being soo good!”

“Really?” Really? Joyce raised her brow. “And what did Mommy promise her little munchkin?”

Without dropping a beat, Emily fired right back, “Ice cream!”

All Joyce gave was side mouth to that. “Mmm…I don’t think Mommy would give ice cream right after the dentist. Maybe tomorrow.”

Buzz killed. Instantly. Enough to make Emily bear down and give into the pressure she’d been feeling in her bladder. Icky, warm, but not absolutely repulsive anymore.

“So how about instead, tonight, after we finish dinner we get you in the bath, then some comfy PJs and snuggle for the rest of the night?”

Damn. She really was good at negotiating.

“Can I ask-a question?”

“You just did?” Joyce set down her own sandwich to come forward and wipe her wet thumb across the corner of a crumby adult baby’s mouth.

“Can I ask two more questions?”

Joyce giggled at that, “You get one more before I want another bite of that sandwich in you, missy.”

“Can I bring one of those puzzle thingies in the bath with me?”

“One of your toys?” How Joyce loved to steer the narrative. “Those aren’t tub toys, silly…” then she quietly bit her lip, muttering, “and we still need to get you some…”

“I don’t need bath toys! I just wanted to tinker with one of those puzzle things, I dunno.”

“I’ll see what I can find during the week,” Joyce smiled gingerly, making it quite clear that a mother’s mind has been made. “You can play with one after your bath. And don’t forget your juice, sweetheart.”

“Blah-blah-blah,” Emily bounced her head with each ‘blah.’ “Don’t forget your juice!” She mimicked right back, and Joyce didn’t seem amused.

“Do wet diapers make you cranky too, sillypants, is that it?”

It wasn’t so much as a direct admission was it a passive drop of the hat by referencing what Emily thought was a secret to herself for at least the remainder of the meal. Unfortunately for her, she was still catching on to the fact that at least for Joyce she had a ‘potty face’, as the mother in charge liked to think of it.

She was blushing and quiet. Too quiet for too long to be able to deny it at this point.

“…No I didn’t…” But what’s to stop an embarrassed girl from trying?

2 Likes

Hey there !

It’s good to see you back with this story and you are spoiling us with so much chapters. I didn’t had time to write a comment that you post a new one … it feels like Christmas is a bit early this year !

I like how you focus the story around different parts of the relationship and how they deal with it. I’m still being amazed at how you keep adding depth to both Emily and Joyce’s characters.

The plot around Sheila and Amy add a little suspense that’s exiting (even if it’s aslo frustrating).

It’s nice to see that you may post regularly here. I hope to read more soon.

Cheers :rabbit:!!