The nature of combative music is not the force of the notes but the way they twist and turn through defenses. But to know the song is to know how it ends, and no offense can conqueror if the end is known.
— Jaber Darsil, The Inefficiencies of Military Music
Linsan's ears rang from Brook's latest concussion blast. Her hand dipped for a moment before she brought it up. “Almost. This time, remember it's one… two… three… clap. You want to clap just as I hit the high note.”
Sweat trickling down her brow, Brook signed. “It would be a lot easier if I could hear you play. Your hand gestures are hard to track.”
“Want to go back to me squeezing your hand?”
Brook smiled. “No, that was easy. You were doing all the work. I need to learn the songs myself, not trust you to tell me when to clap. Besides, what if we get separated?”
Linsan groaned. She felt useless practicing without being able to play. She was a poor conductor when the songs were inside her head were Brook couldn't hear them. “I know, but what else can we do? Give up for—?”
“No. We can't give up.” Brook straightened. She had on a pair of black lace gloves that were pristine when she started. After only an hour, the material had started to break and the delicate strands of lace curled out and gave the backs of her hands a fuzzy appearance.
Linsan wiped the sweat from her face and then straighten. “Okay, so the drum of Ode to the Champion goes ba-da ba-da ba-da-da-dum. So, you want to clap—”
Brook didn't move.
Stopping, Linsan looked at her curiously.
“Dance for me.”
Linsan stumbled on her words. “W-What?”
Brook worried her bottom lip. “You used to dance when you played, remember? You were always twirling around on the tops of fences and on the rocks. Remember that time you were on the balcony and the teachers thought you were going to fall?”
It had been a while since Linsan had done that, it felt like a different life. She grinned. “And the professor tried to tackle me and almost fell off himself?”
“That. You were always jumping and twirling. It was… I thought you were always so graceful, as if you could dance on the head of a needle.”
“That's why you beat me up?”
Brook flushed. “Look, I was—”
Holding up a finger to Brook's lip, Linsan grinned. “A storm long since past. You want me to dance for you?”
Brook's cheeks colored and her eyes crossed to look at Linsan's hand. “Yes. Please.”
Stepping back, Linsan pictured the movement. “Okay, so how about this… ba-da ba-da?” As she said the beats, she swayed her body and stepped high, striking her feet in time with the beat. A familiar rush came. “And then we ba-da-da-dum!” She kicked up her feet, arched back, and then hopped forward.
Her foot thudded on the ground. Peeking up, she saw Brook watching intently. Linsan smiled and felt a thrill of desire rushing through her. Despite being in the middle of the field, it felt as if they were once again in the bed exploring each other's bodies. “Again?”
Linsan closed her eyes and moved to the music, first saying the beats, but then using her voice to mimic her violin's notes.
At the right moment, she felt Brook's concussion beat. Instead of it throwing her forward, it buoyed Linsan's step and she lightly skipped to the next step.
When the beat came again, the ground shook but Linsan barely felt it as she spun and continued on, dancing and singing as her friend clapped out the rhythm to the song. With the blasts shaking the air and shaking her chest, it felt naturally to leap and bound in time with the music.
As the song came to an end, Linsan circled back around until her final step brought her face-to-face with Brook. She stopped, inches away, panting lightly as she looked into her friend's brown eyes.
Brook froze, one hand on each side of Linsan. Surprise and shock painted across her face but it quickly coalesced into a smile. She leaned forward and kissed Linsan on the lips. It was a light and fleeting touch, a promise of something intimate later.
Without thinking beyond the moment, Linsan stepped forward until their bodies pressed together. She kissed her friend back with more passion, parting her lips as she lost herself briefly in the embrace.
Brook's hands rested against Linsan's hips, holding her close.
Linsan reached down as she broke the kiss. Resting her hands on Brook's, she tightened her grip and tugged. “Come on, dance with me.”
“W-What?” Brook's eyes fluttered. “N-No, I can't dance.”
Tugging Brook forward, Linsan shook her head. With every step, she swayed her hips. “Ba-da.”
“Stop,” Brook laughed.
“Come on, feel the beat. Besides just clapping along. You need to move around the battlefield. Move your body. Ba-da,” Linsan smirked as she rocked her hips the other way.
Brook started to move with her, a hesitant smile on her lips. Then she seemed to relax and began to match Linsan's movements.
“Come on, back and forth, just like last night.” Linsan sounded out the beats. “Ba-da-da—”
Just as she reached the last beat, Linsan released Brook to separate themselves so both of them could clap their hands.
In close quarters, Brook's gentle clap beat against them with a dull thud. It shook Linsan in her chest and along her bones.
“Ba-da ba-da…” Linsan pulled Brook into her dance until they were in step, pounding together along the grass. Their bodies split apart to the music, weaving along the song as the two danced alone in the field.