Bianchi poured her a drink, and that was how it started.
Lal Mirch didn't often drink. Alcohol made her head fuzzy, her reflexes slow, all things that she couldn't afford most of the time. A glass of wine here and there was about as far as she went, and even that was rare those days - days of constant danger, a Mafia war with the Millefiore. Everyone needed to be on their guard.
But tonight she could relax, even just a little bit. They were all safe in the Japanese Vongola base, as safe as they could be, with the Cloud Guardian next door and the young Vongola Guardians exhausted from training. And she ached - Lal ached all over, those phantom pains that she had to work through all day. She was exhausted too, though she would rather die than show it.
It was only the two of them, and so it was all right to let her guard down. Just a little would be fine, she thought, because Bianchi of all people would keep her secrets. The Italian woman kept her own so well, and Lal knew she'd been a trusted and relatively close confidante of the Tenth Vongola and her younger brother. But that had been before.
They had both lost many things in this war. The children wouldn't understand, but Bianchi did, and it showed in the way that she silently poured them small cups of warm Japanese sake, empty of her namesake poisons.
They both needed little comforts from time to time, or they'd lose themselves, too. So Lal accepted the liquor.
There wasn't much conversation. Bianchi understood Lal's dislike of pointless small talk, and they drank silently, until Lal began to feel the distinct dizziness that told her it was time to stop. She held a hand over her cup when Bianchi moved to fill it once more, shaking her head slightly.
"Are you tired?" Bianchi asked, the first thing she'd said since she asked if Lal wanted a drink.
"No," Lal said. She was tired, actually, but that was always true these days. It wasn't any worse than it ever was. "I've had enough, that's all." Her voice was quieter, softer than usual thanks to the relaxation the alcohol had given her. It wasn't so bad to do this sometimes, so long as she didn't drink enough to make her melancholy.
She looked up, her eyes catching Bianchi's. The other woman watched her with a contemplative look, and finally reached to brush her slim fingers across the back of Lal's hand.
It was unexpected, but not entirely unwanted. Lal Mirch could read some intent in Bianchi's eyes as she kept her gaze steady, leaning closer across the distance between them. Bianchi hesitated for a moment before pressing her lips gently against Lal's, as if to give her enough time to stop it, but Lal didn't move.
She could blame it on the alcohol, but she was certain that both of them knew they hadn't drunk enough to honestly blame anything but themselves. And when it came to that, why blame anything? Why would they have to? It was the middle of the night, they were both adults. They were both alone - and this wouldn't change that, it would only give each of them some measure of comfort.
Lal Mirch was used to being alone. She preferred a solitary existence, despite the efforts of some (one, really, just one) to penetrate that - or so she had believed for a very long time, but recently she had learned the vast difference between choosing solitude and having your choices taken away. Having a loneliness thrust upon you. Losing something you had tried not to think of as important.
Bianchi might not understand that - Lal couldn't know, wouldn't ask. The woman deserved to keep her own secrets, just as Lal did. But she was offering something, a mutual comfort and closeness that wouldn't chase the loneliness away but might keep it at bay for a few short hours.
Lal wouldn't refuse that, and she knew that he would not have wanted her to. If anything, he would be happy - happy that she wasn't simply closing herself off from the world. Then she tried not to think of that anymore.
Bianchi's lips on hers were soft and pliant, and though it was different - so different - from what Lal had once found familiar, it wasn't bad. Bianchi tasted like sake and smelled of almonds, bringing a faint smile to Lal's lips.
As she moved closer, her breasts brushed Lal's arm. They both paused, sharing breath in the scant few inches between them, and then Bianchi took Lal's hand and stood, and Lal stood with her. They were silent again, unmoving, until Lal took a breath and broke the silence.
"My room," she began, and then stopped, unsure where to go from there. Bianchi smiled, a quick flash of white teeth, and continued for her.
"It's close, isn't it?" Bianchi's fingernails brushed against her palm, causing a strange hot twisting in Lal's stomach, and there was no need to say anything else.
It was entirely unlooked-for, and might only be for this one night, but despite that (or perhaps because of it), Lal Mirch felt no uncertainty or doubt. She lead Bianchi to her room, and for a few hours, they helped each other forget everything.