Day/Theme: March 16. I’ll keep the lights out, I’ll tell you fairy tales
Character/Pairing: Fan Li, Fu Chai
Fan Li does what Fan Li must do. There’s no pleasure to it, but equally no hardship. His hands feel no real difference between Gou Jian and Fu Chai. The two men smell different, and the sounds they make are different, and there's the overwhelming difference that Fu Chai isn't the king of Yue: but Fan Li keeps all that out of his mind for the duration.
"That’s all?" Fu Chai asks afterwards.
"That’s all, Your Majesty."
"What’s the fuss about than?"
Fan Li shrugs. "Fan Li isn’t qualified to say."
Fu Chai chews his moustache. "Is the other way more pleasurable, then? It’s more like with a woman, I suppose... Oh, but of course you wouldn't know."
"Fan Li has been with women," Fan Li points out politely.
"No, no-- I mean--" Fu Chai waves an irritated hand-- "you haven't-- done *that*. With a man."
"I have, in point of fact. Customs are different in Chu," Fan Li adds, with intent to mislead. Fu Chai's inexperience is a double-edged sword, but Fan Li is confident he can discourage the king from dangerous lines of speculation. "I can't recommend the practice. The thought of what one's doing tends to make the doing of it almost impossible." Which is why Fan Li never allowed himself to think about what he was doing, or indeed to think at all.
"We can imagine," Fu Chai says emphatically. He hesitates, looking at Fan Li out the side of hs eye. Fan Li steels himself. "Has anyone ever done it to you?"
"Once." He bites the syllable off.
"Ah. We didn't think it would be to the king of Yue's taste, somehow." He shifts. "And obviously you don't recommend that practice either?"
"It hurts." Fan Li has no desire to revisit the memory: the king of Yue's punishment of his counsellor's faithlessness. And not the king of Yue's own doing, which was the only thing that might have made the experience halfway bearable. But the chagrin and anger of it are exactly the right emotions to present to Fu Chai now.
"We can imagine," Fu Chai says again, his tone drawing away from the subject. Fan Li waits for dismissal. Fu Chai yawns and stretches, and pulls the coverlet higher. "It's good to have you here, counsellor. It's been a long time since we had company when we slept." A pause. "What's the matter?"
"The courtiers may have something to say about your Majesty making a favourite of a foreigner."
"Who says you're my favourite?"
"That conclusion is unavoidable if Fan Li spends the night with your Majesty."
Fu Chai shrugs. "My two chief counsellors are men of Chu like yourself. No one's going to mind a third." He turns on his side, clearly prepared for sleep.
Fan Li sighs inwardly. Checkmate. And sighs again, at the difference between Wu and Yue.