Day/Theme: March 22. 'lips that would kiss form prayers to broken stone'
Character/Pairing: Fu Chai, Gou Jian
Fu Chai eyes flick back and forth between Gou Jian and the pieces on the board. Gou Jian's eyes stay on the board. Fu Chai can't say why this annoys him so much.
Gou Jian's glares, his taunting of Fu Chai's authority, all his previous ill-temper, have passed away as surely as his old ease and assurance have done. But nothing replaces them. If Fu Chai is gaining the man's trust, if he's found any hold in the king of Yue's heart, Gou Jian is giving no evidence of it. He sits stone-like, placing his stones, and spares not a glance for the King of Wu.
Fu Chai is almost certain that Gou Jian isn't as complaisant about Fan Li's change of allegience-- if that's what it is-- as Fan Li wants to think. There's bad feeling here, and what else could prompt it?
"You know I've kept Fan Li by me these last few nights. Why don't you say something about it?"
Gou Jian doesn't look up. "We trust you've enjoyed Master Fan's company."
"We intend no criticism of Fan Li, you know. But really. Where's the pleasure in it? We could do that much for ourselves, and better." Fu Chai's sense of grievance sounds loud in his voice. "And men-- their bodies are too big, and hard, not soft and pleasant to the touch like a woman's." He twitches irritably at the memory. "And as for kissing-- we don't deny Fan Li would make a passable woman if he was a woman-- he's young enough and fresh-faced enough. But he's not, and it passes our understanding how anyone can enjoy kissing someone with hair on his face. How do you? Tell me that!" he demands.
Gou Jian doesn't. He places a stone. "Then you won't be keeping Fan Li much longer, one supposes. A useful lesson for him, not to trust in the favour of kings."
"We'll be keeping him," Fu Chai says, deliberate counter to Gou Jian's smoothness. "It's preferable to sleeping alone."
Gou Jian raises an eyebrow. "There are always eunuchs, if it's soft and hairless you want."
"Good heaven, is there no limit to your depravity? Sleep with a eunuch?" The thought sends a shudder down his spine.
Gou Jian's eyes are suddenly on him-- black stones in a white setting, the exact colour of the stones on the board before them. "Or you can kill us and go back to your women."
Fu Chai starts inwardly.
"No, we can't," he says automatically. "We swore not to. As we swore not to approach our concubines until our father's death was revenged."
"A dilemma. What will you do about it?" That doesn't come out as smoothly as he probably wanted it to- as it would have ten days ago. Worried, then?
"No dilemma. We have our revenge. You're our prisoner and you stay alive at our pleasure."
"Good. Your Majesty is revenged. Your harem awaits you. What's the problem?" He looks back at the board.
What is there in his tone, what is it telling Fu Chai? Something. Something, but Fu Chai doesn't know what. He's a man walking in fog, seeing only indistinct shapes.
The problem is you. Fu Chai wants to say it, because it's the truth, but he has no answer if Gou Jian responds with 'How are we the problem?', and that's how Gou Jian will respond.
He looks at Gou Jian, and the silence lengthens.
He knows now what Gou Jian has done with Fan Li, knows what it is a king does with his favourite, and it's nothing at all. There'd been a mystery, there'd been a question unanswered-- Fu Chai had felt as if a door was going to open on some kind of-- some understanding, some key to what makes Gou Jian, Gou Jian. But that wasn't it. A king and his favourite-- there's nothing new there, nothing really different. It sheds no light at all.
Gou Jian's fingers pick up a stone, place it precisely. Would Gou Jian have done to Fan Li what Fan Li does to Fu Chai? It seems unlikely, but Gou Jian has odd tastes. Gou Jian's fingers-- his hand-- doing that... The idea is disturbing. Fu Chi places his own stone, looks up sharply to catch Gou Jian's expression. The mouth under the silky moustache is soft and full. Gou Jian kissing Fan Li. Also disturbing. Displeasing, the idea of those two placing their mouths together, of Fan Li panting with passion in the king's embrace.
"We'll dismiss Fan Li back to his work. He'll be relieved not to have to company us any more."
"If you say so."
"We do say so. It's you he loves. He told us as much."
"He was lying."
Fu Chai sits up straight. "No, he wasn't. He loves you against his will--" and that makes sense, makes perfect sense now-- "but love you he does."
And sees, with huge surprise, Gou Jian staring at him with a fury that clearly wants to break its bounds and strike. Fu Chai remembers suddenly, all those years ago when they were both princes still, the man who'd addressed him from atop the steps in the great hall of Yue. Alive, yes-- the king of Yue is alive again, alive still. One need merely step into his territory, cross the invisible boundaries he sets about himself, and the king comes out from the smooth prisoner's shell to defend them. Not the man's body but the man's heart, that's the vital place. That's where the battle is to be fought, if Fu Chai wants to do battle.
If Fu Chai has any notion of how such a battle can be fought...