mjj (flemmings) wrote,

More than one way to skin a cat

Which is this? Wednesday's prompt? I wish inspiration would pay attention to that word prompt instead of coming perennially late, like the mail.

Fu Chai sleeps soundly under Gou Jian's gaze. Gou Jian looks at the peaceful face, smooth as a boy's with its daytime lines all gone; looks at the red lips open and snoring more than a little loudly. The damnable certainty, the unbounceable confidence of the man, no different than when he stormed into Yue's capital with only a guard or two and demanded to see the Prince Regent. Fu Chai hasn't changed at all. Gou Jian has. In the darkest watches of the night when the waiting women in the outer hallway grow weary and doze a little, it would be the simplest thing to take that pillow and place it over Fu Chai's face and lean on it with all his weight... Whatever noise, whatever struggle the king of Wu made, he'd be dead by the time anyone came to the rescue.

So would Gou Jian, of course; and in very short order, so would his queen and generals here, and his advisors back in Yue, and many, many of Yue's people. Indeed Yue itself would come to an end once Wu Zi Xu took over as regent to Fu Chai's ungrown son. Gou Jian frowns. How neatly Fu Chai has made Gou Jian powerless, and how cleverly he rubs Gou Jian's nose in that fact just by the reckless indulgence he shows towards him.

No, Gou Jian won't even think of killing the king of Wu. The alternatives to his present state are all much worse. He'll abide the turning of Fortune's wheel and the dictates of Heaven. In time the balance will come back to him. And then he'll repay Fu Chai's generosity with his own. Bring him back to Yue to company the king's leisure. Play chess with him while discussing politics and strategy. Dismiss him at night to his hut near the stables.

Or place him by his bedside during the night watches and sleep under his gaze?

Gou Jian shifts uneasily. Something he doesn't want to think about threatens to become clear in his head, and he turns his mind away from it.

No, if and when he conquers Wu, its king will be given a sharp sword and invited to enter Wu's Great Hall and not come out.
Tags: fic, woxin
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