As for being your lover, I’ll be honored to take the job until you find another warrior who wields a sword as mighty as yours.
— What Lurks at the Heart of the River Sin (Act 2, Scene 5)
For the first time in her life, Linsan woke up with the feeling of contentment. She took a deep breath and drank in the scents of perfumes and sex. It was a sweet smell, light. It brought a smile to her lips and she felt a welcoming warmth along her body at the memories the smells recalled.
It was the first time she ever been with anyone sexually. Her mother’s plays talked about it constantly, but Linsan had never felt the urge or desire. Male or female, no one had ever “ignited a flame” or brought “a flutter to her breath” which happened constantly in the plays. In fact, if Brook had not started the kiss, Linsan may have never even considered the possibly.
Linsan was happy Brook made the first move. She smiled to herself, lifted her head, and opened her eyes. The cramped bed was otherwise empty except for twisted blankets and pulled sheets. A few of Brook’s dark hairs curled delicately on the pillow and there was a faint smear of hair oil on the edge.
Unconcerned, Linsan sat up. Realizing she was naked, she looked around her for her camisole. Spotting it on the floor, she reached over and grabbed it.
The door rattled for a moment before it opened.
Linsan stiffened and straightened, pulling the thin material to her chest.
Brook looked at her and smiled broadly. There was no hesitation, no pulling back, no flickering anger. For the first time, Linsan realized she was seeing true happiness in her former enemy. Holding up a tray of steaming food and three mugs, Brook said, “Good morning.”
Even her voice was cheerful.
“Good morning. Thank you.”
“They didn’t have much to drink, just cider and tea. I got you a tea and breakfast. It looks like eggs, potatoes, and some sort of purple vegetables.”
Linsan thanked her. Brook held up the tray for a moment and then brought it over to the suitcase. With Linsan’s help, she closed the lid and set the tray on top of it. She hesitated with the last step, her hands hovering over the surface for a moment. Then, she straightened slowly, turning until she faced Linsan.
Brook worried her lip. Then she grabbed one of the mugs and held it to her chest. Her fingers gripped the edge tightly until her knuckles whitened. “About… about last night?”
Linsan wasn’t sure how to answer. She wasn’t entirely sure how she felt other than it brought her happiness. She tried to imagine Brook differently, as a loving spouse or the couples she had seen going to her mother’s plays.
The silence grew between them. It turned the air stifling.
When Brook started to fidget, Linsan realized she had to say something. Shaking, she patted the bed next to her.
Brook sank down a foot away. Their bodies were almost touching. She wore one of her travel dresses, one that wasn’t damaged in the fight or practice. The bright blue lace fluttered with her movement. She took a deep breath and then another.
Linsan reached out with her hand.
Brook took it with her own gloved hand. Her hand was shaking and she griped Linsan tightly. “Are we… are we still enemies?”
Not expecting the question, Linsan could only laugh. “No, Brook, we aren’t enemies.” She giggled. “I don’t think we’ve been that way for quite a while.”
“I’m going to say that fight in the garage.”
“But I left you.” Brook’s grip tightened.
“You came back. That’s what matters. Now, we’re together.”
Brook’s eyes flickered back and forth with her thoughts. She looked down and then brought her other hand up to clasp Linsan’s. “But… what are we now?”
She gestured to the bed with her chin and then to where Linsan had her other hand still holding her camisole to her bare breasts.
Linsan looked down at her other hand. She didn’t have an answer herself. Everything was new to her, terrifying and excitedly new. “What do you want to be?”
Brook looked away as she tightened her grip. “I don’t know. I didn’t even know that this was possible until years ago. Remember when we had that big fight? You limped home. That was the day I fought out that your mother had a wife first.”
Linsan thought about Marin. She would never meet her mother’s first wife nor the woman that Marin would marry later, Junith. Learning about the relationship was a revelation to both Linsan and Brook that day. “I was more surprised my father’s first wife married my mother’s. How did that work out?”
“I don’t know, I’ve just been thinking about it a lot. Ordering stories, trying to meet others. I haven’t had a chance to… physically do it, but I’m pretty sure I only have the eyes for women.”
“And you were hoping I liked the fairer sex?”
Brook blushed. She tried to pull her hand free.
Linsan smiled and reached down to kiss the hands clasping her own. The memories of their bodies writhing warmed her up. “I’m going to say I enjoyed last night a lot. I just never thought about it before.”
“Always fancied boys?”
“No,” Linsan said with a shrug. “Didn’t really think about it?”
Brook’s lips tightened. “Didn’t you think I was pretty?”
“Of course, I did. I said it before, even when you were fighting. You were the prettiest girl in school and you are more beautiful now. I meant that with my heart.”
“But I don’t… make you moist?”
There was something in Brook’s tone that caused Linsan to hesitate. The wrong word and Linsan would drive a wedge between them. She didn’t want to lose Brook, not for their quest but also not as her best friend. She smiled and kissed Brook’s hand again. “You are the adventure I would be most honored to take.”
Brook smiled, and then she let out a little snort. “That’s a quote, isn’t it?”
“Yes… from What Lurks at the Heart of the River Sin.”
Brook’s shoulders shook with her laughter. “Oh, how could you? Even I know that play. And that was the worst line in it! How could you?”
Linsan smiled bashfully. “This is all new to me. I don’t know what to do, what to say.”
Brook scooted closer. Their clasped hands shifted until Linsan’s arm was pressed against her breast and Brook’s body was warm against her own. “Lin, would you mind if we try?”
Another line came up. Linsan leaned forward. “We will always be friends, that part has been set in stone and into the weave of destiny.”
Brook smiled, her eyes shimmering. She obviously never been to a showing of Haston and Grail.
Linsan grinned as another line came up from What Lurks at the Heart of the River Sin. It was terrible but playful. “As for being your lover, I’ll be honored to take the job—”
Brook’s eyes softened and she leaned forward to kiss Linsan.
Linsan struggled to keep a straight face. “—until you find another warrior who wields a sword as mighty—”
Brook stopped with a gasp. Then, with a look of mock anger, she yanked her hands free to find a pillow to smack Linsan and silence the laughter.