Bo Pi is pleased. He watches while the servants pour tea for himself and Wen Zhong, and then goes back to considering the pretty present in front of him.
Wen Zhong takes a sip of tea and puts down the cup.
"Chief minister, what about this rumour that the king of Wu requires his Majesty to wait on him at night?"
"Mh? Oh, it's true." Very pretty- and valuable. He knows exactly the woman whose favourable regard it will purchase. Though it might be wasted on one alone...
"You wouldn't call that an insult to the king of Yue?"
Bo Pi looks up in surprise. "Insult? I don't think so." Wen Zhong goes on looking at him. Bo Pi flaps dismissive hands. "It lets the two converse together without eavesdroppers. Well, *many* eavesdroppers. Of course all the King's servants are spies for somebody or another, but the Chancellor tends to discount the female ones. Luckily for me."
"The King of Wu desires... *conversation* with my King?"
"Mh, yes. Something like that. I'm not sure the King quite knows what he wants. He's young and not as experienced in some things as he should be." He sighs. "Such a pity that the King of Yue is a man."
Wen Zhong blinks. "If the King of Yue wasn't a man, he couldn't be King of Yue," he points out.
"Yes of course. But--" Bo Pi looks discreetly away, and then sideways back at Wen Zhong. "--you do know that the King of Wu is in love with him?"
Wen Zhong's eyes look to the right. Evidently not finding what they seek there, they look to the left. Then they look back at Bo Pi.
"Ah, you didn't guess? Maybe you need to know the ways of men, or maybe you need to know the King. It's quite clear to anyone who knows both."
"How can he be-- in love with him?" Wen Zhong's mouth works at the problem. "They're men. They're enemies. They--" He gives up, face creased in incomprehension.
Bo Pi shrugs. "I haven't a clue. I just see the signs. You can't mistake them. My king's infatuated and doesn't know it. Now if Gou Jian was a woman, Fu Chai would know at once where he's at and what to do. But as it is he's totally at sea."
"And there's nothing anyone can do to help him. I mean, Gou Jian *isn't* a woman. Laying siege to his heart-- making him gifts-- saying pretty things-- that won't work. How does a man recommend himself to another man that way? It's just not possible."
Wen Zhong prims his lips. "Oh, it's possible. The way a counsellor wins his King's favour-- it's not so very different, is it?"
"What, telling the king what he wants to hear? What Gou Jian wants to hear from my king isn't anything Fu Chai will ever say to the enemy of Wu."
"I wasn't quite thinking of that. More-- guessing a man's mind, seeing where his ideas are going, chiming in response to those. Creating a, mh- understanding. I've seen it done. It's easy for some."
Bo Pi rears up. "You've never even been at one of our councils--!"
"I wasn't talking about you."
"Well-- Fine then. But it's not something the King of Wu would ever do."
Wen Zhong sighs deeply. "No. The King of Wu wouldn't."