Only a man knows how to truly embrace another man, to give his heart and innocence completely and without hesitation.
— Hasil na Karnes, The Gift of Decades
Linsan peeked out of Har's room and down the hallway. A trio of drunks were staggering toward her, singing and muttering at the same time. One of them fumbled for their key, pulling it out and waving it toward the door to the right.
She braced her foot behind the door just in case they came toward her and tightened her grip on her bag. After enjoying a warm bath and finally getting a chance to wash her hair, she didn't want to put on dirty clothes. She only wore her drawers and her camisole. She considered pulling out her last clean outfit, but felt foolish to wear it just for the ten feet to the other room.
Outside, the drunks stopped in front of the door. Two of them sang three different songs while the other took a few attempts to get the key into the lock and turn it. Together, they stumbled into their room.
As soon as the door latched, Linsan slipped out of Har's room with her supplies, made sure it was locked behind her, and then raced over to her own room. Her bare feet smacked against the wooden planks. At the door, she rattled the handle to get it open and then thrust herself inside. Blindly, she closed the door behind her and made sure her clothes were trapped.
Brook turned to face her. She sat on the end of the bed while she worked her fingers through her dark hair. The smell of hair oil filled the room and Linsan could see it glistening on the white gloves Brook wore. She gave a half-smile and continued to work her hair. On her lap, a hair bonnet rested on one thigh while a number of ties straddled the other.
The perfumed scent brought back a flood of memories of Linsan's mother. As an actress, she had countless tasks focused on her beauty. Her bedtime ritual was hours long, though it had whittled away when they went years without her getting an acting job. But even in the last days, she had watched her mother carefully using her fingers to detangle her hair after every bath and brush it out every morning.
In a flash, Linsan wished she was back at home with her parents. She didn't want to be cramped into small inn rooms, walking along the road, or even being stuck in a vehicle for hours at a time. The longing for her old life, back before the fire that ruined everything, slammed into her gut. She struggled with sudden tears that threatened to form and the tightness in her chest.
She would have given anything to be able to hug her parents in that moment.
Brook froze. “W-What's wrong?”
“I…” Linsan took a short breath to keep herself from sobbing. “I miss my mom and dad. I… I don't want to be here anymore,” she finished in a hoarse whisper and a broken voice. She slumped back against the door.
Brook stood up, spilling the contents of her lap onto the floor. She hurried over.
Linsan watched her, unsure how to respond.
Brook took her hand and held it firmly. The grip was soft from the glove but slick from the oil, it didn't matter to Linsan in that moment. “It's okay.”
Not trusting her voice, Linsan nodded.
“We failed but we can keep going, right? This is just a set back and Mis is going to get us on the road soon enough.”
It was the same thing Linsan had told Brook when their positions were reversed. The irony wasn't lost and Linsan let out a choked giggle. “Y-Yeah.”
Brook stroked her arm. “It's going to work out. I promise.”
Linsan couldn't help but squirmed slightly.
Brook's smile froze. “Shit,” she muttered. “I'm sorry.”
When she started to back away, Linsan grabbed her wrists and held her close. “No, please.”
The unreadable expression came back as Brook came up. Their bodies were close, inches away, and the warmth between the two of them felt thick. Linsan remembered how she thought Brook was seconds away from kissing her in the car. In the tightness next to the door, the same thoughts came up and she found herself growing more open to finding out.
She swallowed to ease her dry throat. “I don't want you to leave,” she whispered.
Brook let out a soft exhalation.
In the public room, a cheer shook the floor.
Linsan's body grew hotter. She found herself trembling as she stared into Brook's eyes. She didn't know what to do, what to say. The little thought in her head, the idea of a kiss, continued to burrow deeper into her consciousness until it was the only thing she could think about.
Brook sucked on her bottom lip, just a little until the tips of her teeth were visible. Up close, her breath smelled of the sweet fruit from her lip wax.
Linsan squirmed. The heat seemed to be spreading into a tingling pleasure along her breast, stomach, and between her legs. It was an unfamiliar sensation for her, she had never been attracted to anyone before. But, in the closeness to Brook, she felt the first curls of desire beginning to spread out.
“Lin…” Brook whispered.
Linsan tightened her grip on Brook's hand.
“Are we still enemies?”
Arching her back slightly from the wall, Linsan shook her head. “We haven't been in a long time.”
“Yes,” said Linsan. It was getting harder to get her tongue wrapped around the words, even simple ones. She let out a soft moan as she took in a quivering breath. She arched her back slightly in an attempt to breath and their breasts touched.
Even through the white material of her camisole and Brook's nightshirt, the touch was electric. Tendrils of tingling spread out from the contact. She started to squirm but forced herself still to avoid breaking the contact.
Brook inhaled and her lips parted.
The urge to kiss Brook rose up. It almost choked Linsan but she didn't know why she was hesitating, other than the fear that somehow she was reading the situation wrong.
“Lin?” Every breath Brook took caused their bodies to touch even more. She was leaning forward gently.
“I would very much like to kiss you.”
With a surge, her body grew heated and slick. She could hear her heart pounding in her ears as she struggled. She wanted to be kissed, to have their bodies touched more. She wanted to feel Brook without even the thin layers of fabric between them.
Brook started to pull back. “I-I'm sorry. I-I didn't mean to… I meant—”
The last thing Linsan wanted was for Brook to pull away. Throwing all her own fears to the side, Linsan leaned forward and kissed Brook on the lips.
Both of them froze, caught in place. The electric touch from their hands and breasts was nothing compared to the surge of pleasure that came from the softness of Brook's lips. The faint taste of fruit teased her tongue as she leaned into the embrace.
Brook's warmth surrounded her as Brook reversed and then leaned into Linsan, pinning her against the door. She tilted her head to the side and opened her lips in invitation.
Working only instinct, Linsan mirrored her movement and sank further into the pleasures of kissing her former enemy. Everything felt right as she ran her hands along Brook's arms and then down to her waist. The warmth seeped through her fingers as she caressed soft skin.
In the great room, another cheer shook the building. The floor shook as they stomped their feet. The beat was a counterpoint to Linsan's own rapid beats.
When they finally broke for air, Linsan gasped. She looked into Brook's eyes and only saw joy and desire. “I don't know what I'm doing,” she couldn't get her voice higher than a whisper. “I've never been with anyone.”
Brook smiled. “No one, not even a man?”
“Twice, but I didn't enjoy it.” Brook smiled as she started to trail her hand down before she gasped. Slowly, she drew up her gloved hand and then rolled her eyes. “Oh, Brook,” she whispered as she peeled off her glove. “I should have taken these off earlier.”
Linsan giggled. The humor broke some of the intensity, but at the same time, it cleared her mind to realize she wanted to keep going. She wanted to be with Brook. “I don't mind but what do we do?”
Brook tugged her from the door and guided Linsan toward the bed. “I have an idea.”
“Have you been with a woman before?”
It was Brook's turn to blush. “No, but I've read a few stories and I'm sure the rest is going to be obvious.” She hesitated at the edge of the bed. “Do you want to keep going?”
Linsan took a deep breath and nodded. She was flushed and excited and Brook was exactly what she needed that night. “Yes,” she said before she kissed Brook again.