Note: The first twenty lines or so of this story come from the April episode of the Gaiden, the flashback to when Kenren comes to take up his post as Tenpou's subordinate. (Aftter being kicked out of the Eastern army for beating up on his commanding officer and screwing the man's wife, and sent over to the Western.) The rest of it comes from my imagination. It's perfectly uncanonical, because the April episode goes on to tell you what Kenren and Tenpou did after the first twenty lines-- and trust me, it wasn't this. (Tenpou does fall asleep in the bath, though. That's in the June ep.)

 

Coup de foudre

 

            Kenren looked about his new commander's study. It was awash in books, a sea of them knee-high to Kenren's boots. Also scrolls rolled and unrolled, half-filled book-boxes, slipcases long since separated from the volumes they were meant to protect, assorted papers, overflowing ashtrays, odd plates of what might once have been food, empty beer cans, and the Lord of Heaven knew what else.

            "Tenpou Gensui," Kenren said, saluting firmly. "Please to give me my first order."

            "Ahh- what's that?" Tenpou blinked at him.

"Clean up my study!"

            Three hours later...

 

            "My, it looks like a different place," Tenpou said in mild awe.

            That was true. For one thing, there was a floor again. Or possibly, given Tenpou's evident habits, there was a floor for the first time. The boxes stood neatly stacked, full of scrolls rolled and tied, and a well-ordered rank of books stood at attention on the shelves.

            "Not that I ever have any trouble finding things," Tenpou added. "I always know where everything is."

            "Messy people always say that," Kenren noted, wiping the back of his neck. The bright afternoon sun had warmed the room unbearably, and he'd taken off his black coat and leather to work more easily. Tenpou on the other hand was still in his white labcoat and shirt, even though his long hair was dripping with sweat from all the hauling and packing. The musty smell of it was strong in the closed room, competing with the sharp acrid odor that came from his armpits. Kenren's nose wrinkled.

            "Tenpou Gensui," he said. "Please to give me my second order."

            "Umh? What's that?"

            "Clean up my commanding officer!"

            "Hunh--??" And got no further, because Kenren had grabbed him by his tie- an unpleasantly greasy tie- and hauled him off to the bedroom.

            "I'm going to heat up the bath," Kenren said. "You get undressed."

            He pulled off his boots and socks and went barefoot into the bathroom. No, after all he wasn't going to heat the bath, because the tub was empty and looked to have been that way for months. He was going to run a bath. And did so, turning on taps and starting a wall of steam billowing in the white-tiled bathroom.

            He went back to the bedroom. Tenpou had undone his tie and gotten one shoe off. Then he'd found a book somewhere and was standing reading it, shoe forgotten in the other hand.

            "Gensui!"

            "Unhh-?" Tenpou looked up myopically.

            "You were supposed to be getting undressed!"

            "Oh. Oh yes. I was, wasn't I?" Tenpou looked blankly at his shoe, then at the book, then more closely at the book, and the next minute was lost in the text again.

            Kenren plucked it out of his hand. Desperate ills... He pulled Tenpou's lab coat off his shoulders, noting the coffee and other stains down the front, and threw it into a corner. Tossed away the tie, popped all the buttons of the shirt and stripped that off the stunned Tenpou as well. The inside collar was black with grime. It went to join the labcoat in the corner. I'm gonna have to burn those, Kenren thought. He pushed Tenpou onto the bed, pulled off his other shoe, held his breath while disposing of the socks, and then gazed purposefully into Tenpou's startled brown eyes, goldfish big behind their thick lenses.

            "Can you take your own pants off or do you need me to do it?"

            "I can do it," Tenpou said, affronted. "I do, every day."

            "Yeah? Your clothes look like you sleep in them. When you do sleep, that is."

            "Umm, well, now you mention it..." Tenpou was pulling his trousers off and the shorts after them. They were boxers- lavender with red hearts on them. Kenren picked them up and glared meaningfully towards the bathroom. Tenpou turned obediently and went. Kenren threw the trousers on top of the rest, carefully not looking at the state of the underwear. He bundled everything inside the labcoat, tied the corners into an improvised furoshiki, and went out to the corridor to hail one of the junior orders in the army.

"Garbage," he said precisely. "Bury it." The man looked startled, both by the order and at sight of the half-naked taishou, but he took the bundle and vanished. Kenren went back inside, fidgeting his sweaty shoulders. Sticky and humid, the perpetual spring of Heaven. A bath seemed like a good idea for himself as well.

He paused by the bathroom door. A suspicious silence.

"Gensui? I'm coming in." More silence. Kenren hastily shucked the rest of his clothes and opened the door. Tenpou was sitting on the bath stool, leaning against the tub, fast asleep. His glasses had slipped down his nose. Forgot to sleep last night, he said. Kenren snorted. There were going to be some changes made in the field commander's lifestyle, now that Kenren was his adjutant. But for the moment- well, let him sleep.

Kenren picked up Tenpou's bucket, scooped hot water out of the tub, and dumped it over himself. And again. Looked about for soap. None. After some searching found a bar by the sink. Honestly. Should have checked for towels and facecloths too. There was a bath-cloth, ancient and frayed, that would have to do for them both. He came back and indulged in a thorough rubdown with the rough cloth, getting the grime off him. He rinsed himself again, splashing mightily. Shook the water out of his eyes and found Tenpou awake and watching him.

"Did I fall asleep?" Tenpou asked.

"Yup."

"Ahh. Must be the heat." He stretched and yawned. Fingered the mist off his glasses, got up, and made to step into the tub.

"What are you doing!!??" Kenren yelled at him.

"Ennh-- Having a bath," Tenpou said, startled.

"You wash before you get in there," Kenren said.

"I did." Tenpou nodded to the drops on his grimy skin.

"And your hair?"

"My hair? What about it?"

"Aagghhh. Sit."

"I--"

Kenren pushed him down onto the stool, scooped water from the tub and dumped the whole bucket on Tenpou's head. Tenpou spluttered, grabbing desperately at his glasses as they washed down his face. Kenren took them, put them out of harm's way on the sink, and upended another bucket over Tenpou.

"Kenr---" his commander gasped, and got a third bucket half in his face. Kenren had seen a bottle of shampoo off in a corner. He squeezed some onto his hands and attacked Tenpou's head.

"Close your eyes," he said, as Tenpou flailed blindly at him. "I'm washing your hair, whether or no. If you keep on like that you'll have soap in them."

Tenpou resigned himself to sulky acquiescence. Kenren worked up a good lather and got it all through Tenpou's thick hair. Massaged the scalp untenderly, on the off-chance there were ticks in there, and rinsed everything off with a couple of buckets. Considered the prospect before him and repeated the whole performance again- shampoo, lather, knead, rinse.

"You're trying to drown me," Tenpou complained as he pushed the streaming hair out of his face.

"Nah. Just get you clean for once." Kenren grabbed the bathcloth and the soap. "It's gonna be a major operation. Sit still." The grey line on the back of Tenpou's neck had yielded only minimally to half a dozen buckets of water. This was going to require elbow grease. And Comet cleanser, possibly, but he didn't have any. He scrubbed Tenpou's neck and back, turning the pale skin red. Attacked Tenpou's armpits repeatedly while Tenpou squealed in ticklish agony. Chest, shoulders, arms. Good. He got himself another bucket of water and knelt on the warm floor behind Tenpou. A dirty job, but someone's got to do it. He tipped the stool upwards. Tenpou gave a yelp and slid off it onto his knees.

"Just hold on to the bath there," Kenren advised him, and gave him an encouraging push forwards. At least Tenpou's skin was smooth and hairless, even between his crack. No will-nots there. I hope. Mouth a determined line, he applied the cloth to Tenpou's ass.

"Kenren!" Tenpou yelled, trying to turn around. Kenren strong-armed him back again.

"If you'd do this yourself I wouldn't have to do it for you. You're a sanitation hazard, pure and simple."

"This is no way to treat a commanding officer--" Tenpou wriggled as the cloth came between his legs.

"So court-martial me. After I give you your first bath since you were born."

"It's not-- Unh. That hurts," Tenpou complained, as Kenren scrubbed Tenpou's crotch.

"Serve you right," Kenren said sourly. He was being rougher than he needed to be, he knew that, but washing another guy's balls wasn't his notion of a good time. Tenpou owed him something for making him do it. And he ought to excavate under Tenpou's foreskin as well if he was going to do the job properly, and that he definitely wasn't looking forward to. He dipped the cloth in the bucket again, pushed up close to Tenpou and began washing the front of him. And wouldn't you know it, Tenpou was getting a hardon from all of this. Well, easier to clean him that way, probably. Count your blessings, he thought morosely. At least the cloth was between his hand and Tenpou's flesh, so he didn't have to touch him directly. He gritted his teeth and scrubbed around Tenpou's hardened cock. "Don't get any funny ideas," he said to Tenpou's back. "I'm not doing this to turn either of us on."

Tenpou turned his head to look at Kenren over his shoulder. With his hair flattened by water and his glasses gone, his face was a stranger's. So much skin showing, that made him look somehow naked and defenceless. His eyes were enormous- all black and unfocussed, big as windows. Kenren blinked, assailed by the oddest hallucination, that Tenpou wasn't looking out at him through those eyes but that Kenren was looking *in*, right into Tenpou's head. And what he saw there wasn't at all what he'd have expected to see.

The world turned around him-- rearranged itself in his head like the pieces of a kaleidoscope. He was kneeling up close to a warm living body, drenched and streaming with sweat and water. He was holding this stiff cock in his hand that felt like his own cock when he held it, and his own cock had turned iron hard like the one in his hand, and both were throbbing with lust. Tenpou's narrow butt was right next to his hard cock, tender as a baby's, all smooth and soft and wide open for him. Tenpou was looking straight at him with those funny swimming eyes, the real Tenpou suddenly come to the surface, and so of course he had to--

            Move in against those two bouncy hills, feel between them for the puckery place, and slide his hardness inside it. Oh. Wow. Like nothing he'd ever felt, so good. Tenpou straightened up abruptly, back arching as if in surprise. Kenren grabbed Tenpou's arms where they lay on the edge of the bath, held himself there as he held Tenpou there and rode Tenpou's butt, in and out, in and out and ride 'em cowboy, shove all the way in hips bang up against Tenpou's butt and out almost all the way again while Tenpou made this great aaanngh sound oh yeah oh yeah this was great banging against Tenpou's butt like that, feeling Tenpou's narrow ass tight as a tight glove rubbing and scrubbing and sending him wild, man this was so great. Tidal wave coming down on him, he grabbed Tenpou around the chest funny sticky-out ribs like that and pushed right right right in for the last wonderful time. Bellowed as it all came out of him. Collapsed happy and gasping and grinning against Tenpou's back Great great oh yeah oh wow oh wo---

            The kaleidoscope shifted back. His eyes froze in his head. Breath stopped in his chest until he felt himself suffocating and remembered to breathe again. Stared at the white skin an inch from his nose, arms locked and paralyzed around Tenpou-

-the Gensui's-

-his commanding officer's-

-Tenpou's-

naked body.

Oh

my

god.

            "Kenren," Tenpou's mild voice said. "Let go of me."

            Kenren made his numb lips move. "No."

            A pause. "I beg your pardon?"

            "If I let you go you'll kill me."

            Tenpou gave a deprecating little laugh, "Ah hah hah," just like that. "This is Heaven, Taishou. There's no killing here."

            "I know." Tenpou's skin, still an inch from his nose. "You're going to kill me anyway."

            "Anh," Tenpou said. "Believe it."

            Kenren's stomach turned over. With immense difficulty he made his arms move apart and sat back on his heels. He was afraid, terribly terribly afraid, for practically the first time in his life. It was so odd, because he wasn't afraid of what Tenpou was going to do to him, even if it meant death, even if it meant banishment to earth as a human and death after only thirty or forty more years. He couldn't really grasp what all that meant. But he was afraid right here and now in this very second as Tenpou turned around, afraid of seeing Tenpou's face again, that naked face with its huge swimming eyes. Tenpou turned. Kenren made his mouth smile, not much, not as much as he'd have liked, but with luck enough to cover the fact that his gut was shaking with fear. Tenpou looked at him, face expressionless, eyes squinting to slits. You wanted it, Kenren wanted to say, you asked for it, but he couldn't say that without sounding like some asshole jerk, the kind that nothing's ever their fault, that goes around bleating /he/ did it it wasn't me it was /his/ idea. He'd go out with his pride intact, if nothing else. But you wanted it, Tenpou, his heart said desperately, you did.

            "Saa," Tenpou said after several eternities. He indicated the edge of the tub beside him. "Kochira e, douzo."

            "Unh--!!" Kenren's stomach jerked and dropped to about the level of his knees. "You don't-- you don't mean--" He put a finger to his chest.

            "Mnh." Tenpou nodded.

            "There?" Kenren said, looking at the edge of the tub.

            "Mn-hnh."

            "So you can--??!" Kenren's voice went wavering upwards. So much for pride.

            "Mmmh-hnh." Tenpou smiled as at an intelligent pupil.

            "I'd rather die," Kenren said unequivocally, and meant it.

            "No doubt," Tenpou said happily. His tone chilled Kenren to the bone. "But this is Heaven and dying's not an  option. Forward, taishou."

            "No," Kenren said, hoping he could get away with it.

            For answer he got two iron hands on his biceps that lifted him and set him right down next to the edge of the tub. It was only a foot, but he'd felt his knees leave the floor. He gulped, gripping the porcelain edge to save his balance. He couldn't take on strength like that. But he couldn't- he couldn't let Tenpou-

            --lean on his back like he was doing now. Put a hot wet hand between his asscheeks. Hold his butt open while heat came closer-- Kenren scrunched his face up. It was going to happen. He couldn't stop it. He was going to be Tenpou's woman and it'd kill him.

            "Ngh--!!" There was something- sliding in to him, easily in but oh so long, going on forever worming its way into his butt. His eyes opened, his mouth opened, he goggled at the water in the bath. Out it slid, long and hard, with a maddeningly feel almost like a tickle. Back, stoppering him, bung up his bung-hole, big thick thing sliding up him the wrong way, in where it should be out, and then out as he pushed and that was right, but then back in even though he was pushing out and even though he was pushing out it came sliding more easily in. All his bones felt like they were melting inside him. He was going all soft and squishy into a little wet puddle on the floor, Kenren the jellyfish taishou. He clenched his hands to show he was still solid, and made little anhhh nhhhgg unhhh noises because it felt so good but it wasn't-wasn't- It wasn't going anywhere. He couldn't get hard, he couldn't come, it was only tease-tease-tease. Torture, it felt so good like a hardon that wouldn't stop, but- but- but he wasn't hard and it didn't stop. He'd be begging out loud in a minute like he was begging in his head Please please, let me come, let me do something, ohh please--- It went on, it went on, rod sliding in and out and always so gently, always just on the edge of wonderful. Kenren whimpered into his clenched hands because- because-

            Tenpou finished, as deliberately as he'd started. Kenren wouldn't have known that he'd come except he felt the thick thing gone soft and squeezable as it left him one last time. He took a deep shaky breath. There was a dull grey sadness inside him like tears, if he ever cried which he never did. But crying must feel a lot like this.

            "If you'd get my glasses for me--" Tenpou said.

            Kenren stumbled to his feet, went to the sink and got the hornrims. Wiped the fogged lenses on the one towel and handed them to Tenpou as he stood up. Tenpou put them on with a little grunt of satisfaction. Then he looked at Kenren. The same gensui that Kenren had met that morning- mild, large-eyed, a little vague.

            "Quits, I think?" Tenpou said, smiling.

            Kenren looked back at him, beaten. All over. All his might-have-beens, flown out the window, in the face of this unbudgeable impervious reality. Unfair. It's not fair. And he couldn't even say that, because Tenpou wouldn't know what he was talking about. He took hold of Tenpou's shoulders and put his mouth on the other man's because that was the only comfort left to him now, in this world gone thick with regret. He could see in his head, vaguely and for the last time probably, the one he'd always expected to meet some day, the one who'd be different from all the rest. Blonde, he'd thought, and with great breasts, cause those he couldn't do without, and nice warm-smelling skin; and she'd love to screw more than any woman he'd ever known, and she'd smile a lot and laugh in a low throaty kind of way, and she'd think the sun shone out of his ass. It wouldn't ever be-- the sour taste of tobacco and teeth that hadn't been brushed in too long and a hard skinny body. A dick, for god's sake, dangling next to his own. A blinking owl with dirty feathers, half-blind and half-cracked, who'd rather read a goddamned book than eat or sleep or even screw, no doubt.

He kissed Tenpou long and hard and desperately so that Tenpou would at least realize what he felt- but no, hell, Tenpou wouldn't know. He couldn't. None of what Kenren was feeling had any meaning in Tenpou's world. He could see that in Tenpou's eyes. At first large and startled behind the thick lenses, they'd now gone narrow and considering and remotely angry. Kenren gave himself another fifteen seconds before his commander kneed him in the balls or pushed him away. He closed his eyes to make the most of it. And it wasn't like kissing Tenpou was even that much fun, but what else could he do? He felt Tenpou's arms lift. Here it comes. Tenpou's arms closed across his back, a preliminary to breaking his spine. Kenren stopped and took his mouth away. Bit his lip, eyes still shut, still holding Tenpou so close he could smell the damp after-shampoo smell of Tenpou's hair.

            "You know, the shit of it is, I really like you," Kenren said, just to have it said while he was still in one piece. "I thought we'd get on good, just in the ordinary way."

            Tenpou said nothing, but he didn't do anything either. Safe for the moment, for what it was worth. Not much. Kenren gave a snort of miserable laughter. "Guess you'll be kicking me over to the Southern Army next?"

            "No," Tenpou said. "I don't think so."

            Kenren opened wary eyes.

            "I think there's- a certain-- sympathy between us," Tenpou said.

            And what did that mean? Tenpou was holding him, he was holding Tenpou, but it didn't feel at all like he was out of the woods yet.

            "You mean I can stay?"

"Mh."

            Kenren wished the look on Tenpou's face matched the feel of Tenpou's arms around him more. Cause here was Tenpou hugging him, he supposed, but there was Tenpou with his thoughts all turned inward, looking sad almost. He took a desperate breath. "I won't be able to keep my hands off you. I gotta tell you that now."

            "Mh," Tenpou said. Very communicative, the gensui.

            "And--" he had to get it said- "I hate being-- you know. On the bottom. I mean, I will," he added hastily, "if that's the way you want it. If that's the pricetag on having you near--"

            Tenpou let go of him and stepped back. "Don't crawl," he said. "It's unbecoming."

            "I'm not crawling," Kenran said, outraged. "I'm telling you how I feel. Just getting it straight."

            "Anh."

            "And I don't suppose," Kenren said acerbically, annoyed finally by Tenpou's monosyllabic responses, "you'd feel like returning the favour?"

            "Anh," Tenpou said, and smiled ruefully. He pushed his glasses up his nose. "You discern my weak point." He looked away. There was a little silence. "I'm used to being alone," he said at last. "I like it. I think I'll regret its passing, more than a little." He shrugged. "But here you are, and there's nothing really I can do about it."

            "Anh," Kenren said, because nothing else occurred to him to say. Maybe he was happy or stunned with surprise or something else, but he'd have to wait till later to know, when he had time to think about it. What he felt right now was perfectly normal, like nothing had happened at all. 

            There was a silence. Kenren shook himself mentally.

            "Bath," he said, and stepped into it.

            Tenpou's eyes slid over to look at him. "We shouldn't anh tidy up first?"

            Kenren paused only a moment. "The hell with that." He sat down. "We can run another bath tomorrow."

            "Of course." Tenpou stepped in and sat down beside him. It was a smallish tub, and they sat close together. Tenpou's narrow leg pressed against his. Tenpou with his arms around his knees, looking at the water, and his glasses steaming up again. Kenren felt himself starting to smile.

            "Oi," he said, and took Tenpou's glasses off. "No point wearing these in the bath." And because Tenpou was right there, he kissed him again; and this time Tenpou kissed him back. Put his arms around Kenren's neck and used his tongue. And one thing inevitably led to another- some rather surprising others- so that it was awhile later that Kenren had time to remember Tenpou's glasses, which had sunk to the bottom of the tub. He fished for them and got them out.

            "Here," he said, proffering them to Tenpou who was leaning back against the porcelain edge and the wall behind the tub.

            "Mnh," Tenpou said, taking them absently. He turned them back and forth, watching the light glint off them. "I can see us getting seriously behind in our work for the next little while."

            "Umh-hmh," Kenren said contentedly, leaning back in his turn. "More than just the next little while. Where'd you learn all that? I never heard you had a reputation for hitting on your men."

            "Books," Tenpou said. 

            "You serious?"

            "Of course. The literature of Under Heaven is full of stories about two men together. Most intriguing. I'd always wanted to try some of it out, but there wasn't anyone to do it with."

            "Mmhh," Kenren said with definite satisfaction. "Well, now there is. I'm your man, any time you like."

            "Ahh. I look forward to that. The candied cherries in the anal passage, for instance."

            Kenren choked. "The what??!!"

            "And the bourbon douche..."

            "What!!"

            "Which could be combined, as I believe I read elsewhere, into brandied cherries in the rectum. Given the thin skin in the area, the effect would be to induce drunknenness rather more quickly than by the usual means-- Kenren?"

            "Look, Tenpou-- Let's get this straight, OK? You want brandied cherries up your ass, I'll put them there. You're not putting them up mine. OK? Got that?"

            "As you like," Tenpou said, startled. He frowned. "What about baby corn?"

            "No baby corn."

            "Ivory dildoes?"

            "Not in me."

            "Oh. Hm. What about doing it in a tree?"

            "No. Bed yes, bath maybe, trees no."

            "Oh. That's a pity." Tenpou looked dissatisfied. "I liked that one. Up amongst the cherry blossoms where no-one could see us, while people went back and forth below wondering where we were. I thought it sounded elegant, myself." He reflected a moment. "Horseback, then?"

            "No. We'd fall off and break our necks."

            "Not if I was tied to the saddle horn," Tenpou said hopefully.

            "No."

            "You could at least do it while I'm upside down? Legs in the air, lying on my shoulders?"

            "No."

Tenpou frowned deeply. "You're very conservative," he complained.

            "No I'm not," Kenren said, feeling his back to the wall. "There's nothing wrong with doing things the usual way. You bend over and I screw your ass. Simple."

            "Hennhh," Tenpou sulked.

            Kenren rubbed his head, checking out Tenpou's expression. What have I got myself into? But no point in asking that. At nine this morning he'd have had a conniption at the very notion of screwing a guy, and look at him now.

            "Maybe in a tree," he conceded. "Just- you know- take it slow with me, ok? This is all kind of new."

            "Annh," Tenpou said. He gave Kenren a sideways smile, and Kenren's heart did an unaccustomed flutter. "I suppose it is. New and unexpected?"

            "Believe it," he said feelingly.

            Tenpou nodded. "Me too."

            "I don't believe it."

            "It's true, nonetheless." He looked away. "I never thought anyone would just- walk in to my life and sit down and be right at home. No-one before has even tried. And here you are, as if it was nothing at all remarkable. I suppose I'm relieved that it isn't quite as automatic as you make it seem. That would be-- almost frightening."

            "Frightening." Glad he can find anything frightening, cause for sure he frightens *me*. But even that was interesting in its way. Something new in the never-changing everydayness of Heaven. Kenren snorted. "Nothing frightening about me. Bar the permanent hardon, maybe."

            "Anh."

            "Would you cut it out with the 'anhs'? If that's supposed to mean something, why not say it?"

            "Anh. No- I mean-" Tenpou pushed his glasses up his nose. "I mean- anh- I think I can cope with that."

            "Yeah," Kenren said, "I think you can, at that."

 

 

MJJ

August 2001

 

Note: For those who are wondering what on earth it is that Tenpou's been reading- the candied cherries are from Aoi Futaba and Kurenai Mitsuba's West End 2, the bourbon and the baby corn are from Momo Sakura's novel Boku no Sekuhara, the brandied cherries and sex on horseback are Minami Megumu's Pleasuredom, the ivory dildoes are the same author's Hanaotoshi, the sex in a tree are from her White Rose, and the upside down sex is Midnight Coffee House's dj The Sun Rises in the East.