Dec 15 prompt, only a dozen days late.Wu Zi Xu approaches with a smile on his face, like a cat who's caught an especially plump and tasty mouse. Fu Chai braces himself.
"Good day, your Majesty."
"Good day, my lord Chancellor."
"I trust your Majesty sleeps well these days."
"Thank you, we sleep very well."
"Your new chamber servant is satisfactory in all respects?"
"We have no complaints of him."
"And has he offered you the left-over peach yet?"
"Left-over peach? Why would he?"
"Why, because his tastes run in that direction."
"Surely your Majesty knows?"
"No, my Majesty does not. Stop playing games, Chancellor. What are you talking about?"
"The love of men for men."
"What? Like one's father or older brother--"
Wu Zi Xu is shaking his head. "Not that kind of love. When a man loves another man as if he were a woman."
Fu Chai looks blank. "Why would he? When there are women to love?"
"I have no idea. But Gou Jian is such a man."
Fu Chai snorts. "Somehow I have difficulty believing it."
Wu Zi Xu laces his fingers together. "Does your Majesty know which men of Yue accompanied Gou Jian here?"
"His generals, the men who waged war on our country. Who else?"
"Yes, his chief generals. And his body servant, Ku Cheng."
"What, Gou Jian brought his own servant with him? Then why did we spare him two slaves from our own household? Did the queen bring any of her women? If she did--"
Wu Zi Xu looks unaccountably annoyed.
"No, your Majesty. Ku Cheng himself insisted on following Gou Jian here, so he was made prisoner with the other hostages and lives in the barracks now."
>"What a waste. Send him to wait on Gou Jian."
"I don't think your Majesty understands. Ku Cheng insisted on coming because in Yue he shared the king's love and the king's bed."
" The idea is clearly percolating through Fu Chai's brain. "Like... like a concubine? How odd." He frowns. Wu Zi Xu waits in satisfaction. "Well then, I suppose the queen won't want him there- not in their present situation."
Wu Zi Xu sighs. "Ku Cheng isn't the only one. There's Fan Li, Gou Jian's main advisor. He insisted on coming too."
"The man of Chu? That was loyal of him, I suppose. Though in Gou Jian's place, I'd rather have my loyal counsellor back home looking after my country."
"Indeed. Which would argue, would it not, that loyalty wasn't what brought Fan Li here?"
"Then what else?"
"Love, your Majesty, as I've been trying to tell you. The two passed many nights together in Gou Jian's chambers. You can imagine what they did there."
"Mh- mm- no. Actually, we can't. How can you love a man as a woman? There's no-- no place to put it!"
Wu Zi Xu leans forward, and in a very low voice tells him. He pauses for a moment to observe the king's rigid features and white-faced shock, and smiles benignly.
"And that, your Majesty, is what your Majesty has placed beside his bed every night. Does your Majesty still think it well-advised?"
Fu Chai makes no answer-- can make no answer.
"Your servant will take his leave," Wu Zi Xu says gently, and turns and goes.
Thinking, And that should put an end to Gou Jian's midnight conferences.