"Stupid monkey!" Konzen swatted at the laughing boy as he scampered out the doorway, irritated bureaucrat in semi-dignified pursuit.

"Konzen Douji's really quite fond of the little saru, isn't he?" Kenren commented idly, lounging against the book-cluttered desk.

"Indeed," Tenpou smiled as he watched the mini-play progress down the hall, Konzen's long golden hair swishing behind him like the tail of an irritated lion, "He hides a good heart behind that sharp tongue."

There was a small pause before Kenren continued,

"And he's very beautiful. Probably quite easy to love if you got to know him well."

At that, Tenpou turned sharply to look. Kenren was smiling slightly, an almost bland expression framed by the spikes of crimson hair. Something solidified at the bottom of Tenpou's stomach. He'd only seen that look on the General's face a few times in all the years they'd known each other.

Kenren didn't do 'bland'. Kenren did amused or angry or lustful or mischievous or sardonic, or any one of a thousand other different unguarded expressions. The only time he did 'bland' was when he didn't want to show what he was feeling – which was never a good sign. 'Bland' had landed Kenren in the stockade twice before. 'Bland' was the precursor to one of Kenren's irrevocable actions.

"I suppose so," Tenpou said slowly, not liking where his thoughts were taking him, "I hadn't really given it any thought."

"No?" the query was flung out carelessly, as though it was of little import.

Ah. So that was what this was about. There was tension in the air now, a brittle stretching of distance and understanding. In the silence, Kenren folded his arms, black leather wrapping across the skull and chains on his bare chest, and leaned even further back against the desk.

Tenpou took a final drag on the cigarette in his mouth, and exhaled slowly. He leaned across Kenren to stub it out in the overflowing ashtray, deliberately boxing his subordinate in. Kenren stiffened, making it easy to overbalance him, push him backward over onto the desk. Tenpou followed him down, crushing Kenren's lips under his. Ashtray and books were scattered to the floor, clothing pulled aside roughly, and Kenren's careful neutrality was burnt away by possession.

Later, as they lay exhausted on the floor where they'd ended up, Tenpou threaded his fingers through damp locks, whispered in his lover's ear. Kenren turned his head, eyes alight with laughter and replete reassurance.

"Poetry?" he mocked softly.

Tenpou just smiled.

"Phew!" Gojyo exhaled loudly, flopping onto the mattress beside Hakkai, "Peace at last!

"Oh?" murmured Hakkai, fixated on his book and not really taking any notice.

"Sanyo's taken the saru out for food. I swear that little baka has a hole instead of a stomach."

"Mm," Hakkai replied.

"What you reading?"

"Mm," Hakkai repeated.

There was a moment's silence, then the book was whisked from his grasp. Gojyo leant back against the pillow, one hand behind his head, the other clasping the volume. He scanned the open page and then grinned,

"Poetry?" he mocked.

Hakkai grabbed for the book, but to no avail as Gojyo pulled it out of reach and started reciting,

"Even if I now saw you
only once…

He faltered and the mockery slipped from his voice, transmuting to gravity,

I would long for you
through worlds,

Gojyo stared at the page, trying to remember where he'd heard the verse before, why it seemed it should mean something to him. He didn't resist as Hakkai tugged the book from his hand.


There was an odd note in Hakkai's voice and he turned quickly to look.
The expression on Hakkai's face was one he'd only ever seen traces of before, shades of a
colour he'd relinquished hope of ever viewing. Something long since surrendered and caged uncurled and stretched inside him. He inhaled sharply, and the breath was followed by the warmth of Hakkai's mouth and the weight of Hakkai's body on his.

saiyuki index

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