"The Sanzou ikkou have reached a small town downriver from Mt. Shang'fu," Shien said. His long finger pointed to the map laid out on the table. "Here."

            "Anh," Homura said. "And those eager-beavers from Heaven are burning to show me what they can do. Send them in and I'll give them their orders."

            "Certainly," Shien said. "You have no expectations of their succeeding?"

            "The Heavenly Army," Homura shrugged. "What do they know about anything?"

            "I was in the Army," Shien remarked.

            "Hardly the same. That bunch are all devotion and ideals and no sense at all." He gave Shien one of his unchancy smiles. "Not much like you."

            Shien's face was expressionless.

            "You doubt my devotion to you?"

            "Doubt? Not for a moment. I know what it's worth."

            "What is it worth, then, Homura? In your estimation." The stillness of Shien's face had somehow redoubled, and insisted on an answer.

            Homura cocked his head, puzzled. "What is this, all of a sudden? I know you follow me in place of Nataku. I have whatever loyalty you can spare from him, and that's enough for me. Worth more than all those panting puppies out there, certainly."

            "You have all my loyalty."

            Homura raised a sardonic eyebrow. "What, nothing left over for the former toushin?"

            "All of it," Shien repeated. "If Nataku-sama were conscious, if he was sent to stop us, I would still fight on your right hand against him."

            "Don't overdo it, Shien," Homura snorted. "I wouldn't ask that of you."

            Shien frowned at the table.

            "What proof can I give you that would convince you?"

            "Why is it necessary to convince me?"

            "Saa..." Shien mused. "Because, perhaps, this is my last chance to get it right. I didn't exist for Nataku-sama. I would like to exist for you."

            "Then you need a proof strong enough to convince yourself, not me."

            "True. And only my death would be strong enough. It may still come."

            "It may." Homura considered Shien's blind face. Not truly blind. Fastidious, rather- choosing not to see more of the imperfect world than was necessary. Refusing to see it, or let it come near him. There was an adamantine hardness inside Shien, a hidden inflexibility that went to the very root of the man's nature. "You're one who'd break before he bent."

            "Indeed," Shien agreed.

            "So do that for me," Homura said. "Soften a little. Stop being iron, just for a bit." His finger touched the skin on the back of Shien's neck, strangely warm in that cold body. He felt the little shiver that went through Shien, and it stirred a flame in his groin. "Bend this stubborn neck of yours," he murmured, moving closer. "Can you do it?"         

            "And if I cannot?" The tremor hadn't reached Shien's voice, but there was a constraint in his tone as if he hadn't quite air enough to breathe.

            "Then you can't. We all have our limits." He turned a hand minutely so that his chain clinked a little.

            "Homura..." Shien said, considering. "'Flame'. Do you want me to cast my pride into your fire?"

            "What else would convince you? You can forget about dying. I need you alive."

            Shien's eyelids flickered in brief amusement. "But what use am I to you if I'm burnt away?"

            "You won't be. We both know that. You could walk into the heart of the flames and let the heat crumble your very bones, and still remain Shien both then and afterwards. I count on that. That's why I sought you out in Heaven and asked you to come with me." Shien's face told him nothing. "Iron that melts in the furnace is iron still," Homura said, "only stronger and purer."

            Shien's mouth twitched. "Very well. You may temper me then. What do you wish me to do?"

            "I told you." He smiled, unkindly. "Bend." He nodded at the table. "Here."




            "You ask a lot."

            "It's no child's play, coming up with something you'd find hard to do. If I made allowances for you, you'd never forgive me."

            "I would forgive you much, Homura. You make it easy. No-one has ever tried to give me what I want before, even in spite of myself."

            "No-one would dare."

            Shien checked. One of his rare smiles flitted across his parched mouth.

            "Indeed." He walked over to the table and Homura followed.





Zenon, wandering into the room they used for business, raised a surprised eyebrow. Shien was bent over the table, half-invisible amid the robes hiked above his waist, and Homura was fucking him. Zenon snorted. Their general had some unexpected tastes. Or maybe he had nothing better to fuck. Nothing but youkai butt in the castle, and male youkai butt at that. Even Shien had to be better than that. Zenon wandered over to look at the show, since Homura obviously didn't care who saw him at it. And Shien-- well, if Shien would bend for a guy, he probably didn't care either. And if he did, well, that was even better.

Shien had a gorgeous ass. Kind of a surprise, actually. Round white curves making two lovely lines. Skin porcelain smooth, with the faintest hint of pink in it like early cherry blossoms. Homura's hands were brown by comparison as they held Shien's cheeks open, and Homura's cock looked purple-black as it slid between them.

"Heinh, nice for some people," Zenon said. He got his fly open and his own stiffness out, and manhandled it a bit as he watched.

"You can be next," Homura said, pumping meditatively back and forth.

"Anhhh," Zenon grunted. He'd never done it with a guy but it looked like it might be fun. That small firm butt of Shien's- wonder what it felt like inside? Hot and tight- tighter than a woman, maybe- just judging by the schlup-schlup sounds Homura's cock made as it went into it. Zenon gripped himself harder, making his hands as tight as Shien's ass must be, while arousal churned his insides.

Shien's face was invisible, hidden by the arms stretched out across the table. He wouldn't be thanking Homura for his generosity. "Lucky, huh, Shien? Finally got a toushin prince old enough to screw you. What more could you want?"

Shien turned his head, the right side of his face uppermost. His eye opened marginally, showing a cold white line between the lashes. Then he drew his breath in sharply as Homura began moving faster. Shien quivered, hiding his face again under the long silk cloth that bound his topknot, while Homura punched remorselessly in and out of him. Homura's fingers were digging into Shien's waist, leaving livid red marks on the white skin. Slightly shocked, more than a little wary, Zenon glanced up at him. Homura was smiling in fierce satisfaction, glowing eyes fixed on the back of Shien's neck. Zenon watched mesmerized, unthinkingly fisting himself into a hardness beyond hardness. Sasuga Homura... No-one else in Heaven would wed sex to this sort of violence. Would take another celestial like one of the rutting humans of Under Heaven, roughly and- maybe, could it be? against his will? Dizzy at the thought, Zenon realized for perhaps the first time the full meaning of their rebellion. They'd turned their backs on heaven and its ways. There was nothing at all to stop them from doing what they wanted. Nothing to stop Homura- as if the chains were off him at last and his power was unleashed. And no-one, not even Homura himself, knew what the full extent of that power was.

Shien was making little sounds into his arms, little catches of breath too small to be called grunts. His head came up, eyes closed and mouth twisting. Back arching off the table as his right hand moved beneath his rucked up robes in front.

"No," Homura said, heavy as a door slamming. He grabbed Shien's arm and pulled it up behind his waist. Shien cried wordlessly as his hips lifted higher. Zenon smiled in exhilaration. Cold Shien, calm Shien, brought to this disorder by Homura. Sasuga Homura indeed. Homura pinned Shien to the table and pounded at him, in out in out like a battering ram. Shien's lips were moving soundlessly- Homura- Homura- as his neck craned upwards. Homura's other hand grasped Shien's shoulder and pulled him upright. Homura threw his arm across Shien and held him like that, arched backwards and welded to his body. Shien's face twisted silently. He jerked suddenly, and again, and gasped deeply; and then it was over. Shien leaned back weakly against Homura's shoulder. Homura loosed the pinioned wrist and put both his arms around Shien's heaving chest.

"Good, Shien?" he murmured into his ear, voice a mixture of malice and satisfaction.

"Yes." Shien's voice was a thin thread of sound, calm and bloodless still in spite of his laboring breath. "Yes. My thanks, Homura."

Thanks, huh? Zenon thought. Well, if that was how Shien liked it, Zenon would be happy to oblige.

"My turn," he said.

Homura smiled mirthlessly at him over Shien's shoulder.

"Certainly." He nodded at the table. "Bend."

Zenon gasped in surprise and rage. Instinctively he swung his gun round. Homura's smile became broader. Shien's mouth lengthened in derision. Stung, Zenon shoved the gun back behind him.

"No way," he said. His shoulders were up, ready for the fight. "Not unless you kill me first."

"No point in doing that," Homura said. He let go of Shien, who turned away from both of them. Homura pushed himself into his jeans and zipped up. "You wouldn't die easily." He picked up his coat, flung it about him and started towards the door.

"Homura," Zenon said. Homura looked over his shoulder, mouth curving unkindly. Zenon searched for words but found none to bring Homura back.

Shien spoke.

"He came to revenge his wife and child, not to make war on Heaven. His cause is different from ours, Homura."

"I'm still here," Zenon insisted. "I'm in this with you. But--"

"But you don't follow the toushin taishi," Shien said, "and I do."

"Damned right. I follow Homura."

"I thought they were the same person, myself."

"Gahh. Don't get clever." They were looking at him sideways, united in whatever it was that was between them. Before it'd been the three of them, himself and Shien joined with Homura. If anything, he'd felt he was closest to Homura, bound by their unspoken hatred of Heaven for the things it had taken from them. And now somehow there was Homura and Shien, and himself on the outside. "I'm your man. You've got my arm and my service. What you can't have is my butt."

"I don't remember asking for it," Homura said, and walked away. Zenon swore under his breath, watching him go. He turned on Shien, standing there with that look of half-disapproval he always wore.

"Pleased with yourself, Shien? The Commander's bum-boy?"

Shien's expression didn't change. "You asked what more I could want, Zenon. I could ask for a companion who guards his tongue a little more carefully than you do."

"You got a problem with the way I talk?"

"I have a problem with the things you say."

"You are his bumboy. No denying it now."

"I don't deny it."

"Then what?"

"A pity," Shien said reflectively, "that your son never grew old enough to-- copulate-- with you."

Zenon's hand reached of itself to grab Shien's throat and rip it out, but Shien's arm was there to block the movement. Shien held Zenon's forearm motionless though Zenon could feel the effort it cost him. He stared at Shien's closed eyes, at Shien's closed mouth. Nothing about either said anger but Shien was angry, as angry as Zenon himself was. The red wave of rage ebbed from his head. He gave himself a mental shake.

"Warii," he said, taking the strength from his arm. Shien let him go. "But he wasn't your son."

"No. Just a child."

"Mhh," Zenon said, uncomfortable.

"That I failed to protect."

"Don't," Zenon said. "Don't--" He ran a hand through his hair. "Five hundred years. Isn't that long enough to be flogging yourself for?"

"Is it?" Shien asked. "You tell me."

"I did something about it, dammit!"

"You punished the criminal who harmed the one you loved. And I," Shien said, "do the same."

Zenon opened his mouth to retort, then gave it up. "Have it your way," he muttered. No help for it. Why do I even try? Shien would only allow the truth Shien saw. Zenon shouldered his gun and left the room.




            He slouched into the main audience chamber. Homura was sitting on his throne, eyes closed, asleep or pretending to be. Zenon stood below him, watching under his eyebrows.

            "It doesn't mean anything," he said at last. "He's using you."

            "Anh?" Homura said inquiringly. He didn't open his eyes.

            "You know what a whipping boy is? Well, with him it's the opposite. You're the whip he uses on himself. It doesn't mean-- it's nothing special."

            "Think of it that way if you like," Homura murmured.

            Zenon turned his back on his commander and hunkered down on the lowest step.

            "Who needs you?" he said. "I could walk out of here tomorrow."


            "I could of walked out of Heaven any time- any time these last five hundred years- and come down here. I didn't need you to bring me."

            "Indeed," Homura agreed.

Homura didn't care. Didn't care enough to contradict him, even.

            "Fuck you," Zenon said.

            "You could have turned your back on Heaven any time. I could have turned my back on Heaven any time. Shien could have turned his back on Heaven any time."

            "Shut up."

            "But we didn't."

            Zenon was silent.

            "We none of us got ourselves free until the others were there. Couldn't, wouldn't. Whatever. We didn't. It took the three of us together to make it seem possible in the first place."

            Zenon looked over his shoulder. Homura was watching him with those mismatched eyes of his, those slightly mad eyes.

            "When we make our new world, it'll be the same. It'll take the three of us together to do it."

            "And two sutras," Zenon reminded him.


            "What if I'd left after I'd killed Souei?"

            "I'd have had to find myself another of the sutras," Homura grinned. "A pain."

            "So that makes me-- what? Some energy source for you? A convenience? An underling?"

            "You're Zenon. You're the man I walked out of Heaven with."

            "One of them."

            "Live with it. He told you. He follows the toushin taishi. That matters to him. It doesn't matter to you."

            "Believe it."

            "So what does matter to you?"

            "Matters? Nothing matters. Getting out of that stinking place was what mattered, and now--" He stopped.

            "Yes. And now?" No kindness in Homura's face.

"All that matters now is that you're Homura and you're here. Toushin taishi and everything that goes with that- that's just another one of Heaven's chains." He nodded at Homura's wrists. "Like that. And you're still bound by them. Why don't you get rid of them once and for all?"

"It's too late. I'm toushin. I can only be toushin. Just like these." Homura held up his shackles. "They're part of me now. Taking them off would destroy the thing that I am."

"So part of you will always be Heaven's lackey. You'll never be really free."

"I'll never be other than what I am. Neither will you. That's why you won't ever do what Shien just did."

            Zenon's shoulders went up. "Sorry to deprive you of the pleasure."

            "Pleasure? I suppose it was. It gave him what he wanted at least."

            "To be punished. To be humiliated. By the fucking toushin taishi." Anger churned his gut. That asshole, Shien.

            "To prove how he feels about me. He needed to do that. You don't."

            Zenon turned away again. "Yeah? So? Doesn't mean I don't have wants."

            "Then do something about them."

            Zenon sucked air, insides churning with anger and confusion.

            "Or do you still need someone else's help to make your desires happen?" Homura asked. "Will you sit sulking at my feet forever if I don't tell you what to do?"

            Zenon jumped up. "Homura--!!" Homura was smiling at him, crazy-eyed, malicious, and-- powerful. Zenon wanted to punch his grinning face and knew equally that he wouldn't be able to touch him. He gripped his gun, finding something to anchor him in the smooth comforting feel of the stock. It couldn't help him here, but at least it could remind him who he was. Zenon. Youkai-killer. The man who walked out of Heaven with Homura.

"Listen, battle god, you can just stop jerking me around now. You think I care if I don't matter to you as much as goddamned wonderful Shien? I don't give a fuck what you were up there and I'm not going to say that I do."

            Homura cocked his head to one side. "Now why do you think I don't want to hear that you follow me for myself?"

            "Well- cause- Shien--"

            "You're not Shien. You're Zenon. Who needs to decide what it is he wants."

            Zenon let his shoulders slump. "I don't know what I want. Not that, for sure."

            "Not that, then. My shield in battle. A pillar of my new heaven. My comrade. Enough?"



            "If there was just another way..."

            "It wouldn't help. You'd still be thinking of Shien's way and wondering if you were missing something."

            "I'm not letting you fuck me."

            "Fine." Homura stood up. "I'm not going to fuck you. Come on."

            "Where to?"

            "Bed. You'll find it more comfortable there."

            "I'm not- oh fuck." Screw it anyway. Why not?




He followed Homura down the corridor and into the bedroom of the youkai king. The bed was big enough for ten. Sumptuous, vulgar, overdone. Zenon tossed his gun onto the billowy silk cover. It looked utterly incongruous there.

            Homura had shrugged off his coat and was prising off his shoes. Reluctant, suspicious, Zenon started undoing the laces of his own boots. Homura came to stand beside him before he was done.

            "Shall I undress you?" Homura asked, grinnng.

            "Get stuffed." Zenon turned sideways and wrestled with the buttons of his jacket. Tossed it away, and the shirt beneath it. Glanced over his shoulder at Homura. Homura was still looking at him with that untrustworthy smile, the one that sent odd shivers up Zenon's back, but now he was half naked. The pants were gone and only the black vest covered his torso.

            Zenon swallowed hard. As if satisfied, Homura climbed onto the bed, against the mountain of pillows. He rested one elbow on his bent knee and his chin on his hand, and went on watching Zenon. Swearing, Zenon stripped the rest of his clothes from him, threw his gloves onto the pile, and joined Homura on the bed. It felt like a fight that he didn't know the rules of, but he wasn't going to be beaten, whatever the rules turned out to be.

            Homura flipped the coverlet open and Zenon slid into the sheets beside him. They were strangely soft, almost sentient, like skin. He wriggled uncomfortably.

            "What are these made of?" he muttered. "Weird youkai stuff- I-"

            "Cloth," Homura said. "Silk and cotton. Things that grow in the ground, things that go through the guts of insects. A problem?"

            "Mh." He glanced balefully at Homura.

            "Turn over," Homura said.

            "I just told you--"

            "I heard you. On your side if you won't go on your face. Let me at your back."


            "Suppose, just for a change, you do what I tell you to and don't ask why?"

            "Touch my ass and I'll--"


            "Pound your stinking face."

            "You have the most enticing bedtalk." Homura was grinning broadly.

            "Aghhh--" Zenon made a noise of exasperation and turned on his side. Homura's hands settled on his shoulders. They were hot, hot and dry, totally unexpected. They moved slowly down his back, palms flat against his skin, and stopped just below his shoulderblades. Heat moved out from them, through Zenon's cramped muscles, warm and relaxing as a bath. Without knowing it, Zenon gave a deep sigh and moved farther onto his face. The heels of Homura's hands dug in a little, pulse pulse up his shoulders to his neck and down again. Hot touch, thinking hands, and the heat he could feel now from Homura's body lying close to his, friendly as a bonfire on the cold nights of Under heaven and different than anyone else's had been in all those unchanging empty years before... celestial women curious and exquisite, fine spun glass, sleeping with him because he was something different, always a little disdainful; mortal women a little afraid of him, sleeping with him because they were afraid not to, always a little resentful; and none of them knowing or caring that he was Zenon and not a scarred one-eyed monstrosity or a god, just this man Zenon wanting to be with someone beside him again...

            "Homura," he said, not sure what the half-panic clutching his heart was. Hot hands moving over his shoulders bringing feeling back to them, feelings unwanted, a body beside him that knew him for himself- "Homura--" lying naked in this bed with the Wolf of Heaven and nothing to protect him any more from whatever was making his gut churn. He grabbed the pillow beside him, buried his face in it so that Homura wouldn't see-- Because the body beside him wasn't Mirei, wasn't that gentle haven at all, was Homura, crazy mad powerful Homura with the malicious smile who'd laugh afterwards at what Homura was doing to him now, making him hard straining hot bringing all the feelings back he didn't want to feel making him want the thing he hadn't had in years- in centuries- once and never again-

            "Turn around," Homura said.


            "Over. Here." Homura's hands pulled him onto his other side, facing Homura, into Homura's arms and up against that warmth and heat, softer than it should have been, skinny Homura, but his legs holding Zenon's cock silken-soft and slick with sweat. Zenon held on to him, shoved his face into the crook of Homura's neck trying to hide, kuyashii kuyashii anger and shame and sadness carving at him like knives.

            "Sa, sa, there you are," Homura said to him, low voice in his ear. Homura's arms were around him, Homura's body rocked a little beneath him. "There you go, that's the way--" Zenon in his blind darkness flattened his mouth against Homura's shoulder, felt the oddly soft skin of it while his cock rubbed between Homura's soft legs hot and wet, hot and wet like his own face against Homura's skin, like-- He caught his breath, gasped as the tension pulling up his spine reached breaking point, threatened to bring the sky down, did-- He shook and sobbed as orgasm twisted him and threw him back at last into himself, here in the hot hot darkness of Homura's bed and Homura's body. He lay still, eyes tight shut. No wonder Shien keeps them closed. He'd have to open them in a minute, see the deadly light of day, see Homura's face triumphant. But not yet.

            "Hurts, doesn't it," Homura said meditatively. Zenon opened one wary eye a slit. Homura wasn't looking at him. Was looking at the ceiling, seemingly, and the corner of his mouth crooked a little, sad.

            "Yeah," Zenon allowed. He started to move his hand and then stopped. No, he wasn't going to wipe his eyes. Homura knew he'd been bawling like a kid, so why bother. He lay in the heat and the sex-smelling sheets, and felt the sadness, the not-thereness of the thing that should be there. Forever and ever...

            "Not the same," Homura said, "but something."

            "Yeah." My shield in battle. A pillar of my new heaven. My comrade. Something. He shifted a little, and felt constraint against his back. Homura's chain around his body, binding him to Homura-- slipped about him when Homura had taken him into his arms-- Stillness touched Zenon's heart, as if he'd heard a voice saying something important.

"Will it be like this, when we do it?"

            "Saa. Who knows? Something like this, probably."

            Something like this. The three of us together. And two sutras. Joining.

            The three of us. Zenon chewed his lip.

"You wanna call him?"

            The corner of Homura's mouth turned up, ironic. "You can't?"

            "You're the focus," Zenon said, raising his head at last so he could look at Homura straight on, eye to eye. "It all goes through you. You just wanted to rub my nose in that, didn't you?"

            "Mhh." Homura was smiling, that damned cat in the cream jug look of his. Well, no matter. Sasuga Homura. The air moved by the side of the bed and Shien was standing there.




            "Anh," was all he said at sight of them. And then, a line creasing between his eyes, "A rehearsal?"

            "Practice," Homura said.

            "Makes perfect," Zenon added, more jauntily than he felt. Naked in Homura's bed and bound to Homura, and let Shien make what he liked of that.

            "I see." The unseeing eyes looked them over. Expressionless, Shien sat and removed his boots. Stood up and undid his belt. Took off the sleeveless robe and the red underrobe and stood there, forearms and midriff bound in their constraining bandages.

            "You do like to keep under wraps," Homura observed.


            "Would it make that much difference if you took them off?"

            "Yes." Shien slid into the bed on Homura's other side. "I like things kept where they belong."

            "Tied down, tied in, tied up."

            "Did you call me here just to mock me?"

            "No. You know what I called you here for. If you can do it."

            Shien gave a sneer, brief, delicate, and unmistakable. Zenon felt himself grinning.

            "That'll learn you," he said to Homura. "So." He looked over at Shien. "Where to start?"

            "Wherever you like."

            "Shien likes to keep clean," Homura said maliciously. "Don't worry."

            "I'm not worrying," Zenon assured him. His eyes went by reflex to Shien's body. He'd never seen him naked before. Strong, well-made, the lines of muscle delicately modelled. He looked away. "You can have him first," he said to Shien. "I'll go second."

            "Very well. Your permission, Homura?"

            "You have it." Homura turned on his side, face to Zenon. "Hold me," he said. Zenon pushed himself flush up against Homura, feeling the chain loosen at his back. He took Homura in his arms, wrapped them around that narrow torso, and pulled Homura a little on top of him so Shien could get at his ass. What he wasn't expecting was for Homura to raise his head and look down into his eyes. So close, as if Homura was lying on top of him to take him, not to be taken. A little chill ran through Zenon. Magic wasn't his thing the way it was Homura and Shien's. Fighting came more naturally to him than the manipulation of time and space and the physical world. What the hell were they doing here--?

            "Pushing the boundaries," Homura said, as if Zenon had spoken aloud.

            "Yeah? Meaning-?"

            "Blurring what makes us separate," Shien's voice said from behind Homura. "Be ready for it, Zenon. And you, Homura--"

            "Anh. I'm ready." Zenon felt Homura's hips rising up off him. At the same moment Homura's face came down and before he could say anything, Homura's mouth was on his own. Zenon gasped, struggled for an instant, and then gave in to the unavoidable fact. Homura or the toushin taishi, the man on top of him was his master when all was said and done. Homura would do exactly as he pleased and no-one could stop him. That was the understanding between them, the thing never said that he'd silently agreed to when they'd left Heaven. The thing he'd wanted for so very long- to have someone's power loosed against the stinking paralysis of Heaven, even if that power couldn't be his own, even if it would trample himself as well. But that it would come to this, with Homura's tongue inside his mouth hot and wet and certain, with Homura taking Zenon's body in this way if not that other... Homura's flesh inside him, and at the same time he could feel the little rocking of Homura's body against his own as Shien took Homura. Shien in Homura in Zenon, which was almost the same as Shien inside him--

*No*, his mind batted at the thought, that's not how it is, we're kissing that's all, we're not-- We're united something else said inside him, Homura's dark voice speaking in his head. Homura's body weighed him down. Underneath him, Homura's chain pressed into his back. Homura's hands were on his shoulders as Homura's mouth held him prisoner, and all the while Shien on Homura's other side moved steadily back and forth, setting up a vibration that echoed in Zenon's own body. Zenon closed his eyes and endured, wanting and not wanting the unnatural connection. Your choice, Zenon, he told himself. Live with it.

Homura's breath was growing ragged. Somehow Shien was reaching to the core of Homura- breaching his body and touching what no-one else had touched. Zenon flinched a little, afraid suddenly that that invasion would reach himself as well. And something *was* reaching him, because the brushing of Homura's groin was hardening him again. Homura- Shien- his hands came up to grasp Homura's body as it rocked under Shien's impetus. A huge joy was growing in him as well, big and smiling and triumphant, growing solid in his gut the way his cock was solid between himself and Homura. He held Homura's head between his hands and kissed him back, wound his tongue about Homura's, himself inside the toushin this time- and knew the sailing exultation wasn't his alone, was Shien's as Shien reached his climax. But still it was him, but still he was hard and eager and ready to be joined as well.

Homura's eyes were closed, gone inside himself. Zenon heard Shien's last gasp. Then the weight of him on Homura, on Zenon, disappeared. Homura's eyelids fluttered, opened vacantly. Willess, a body, Zenon's for the using. Zenon pushed himself up, rolling Homura onto his back and over as he did so. Shien was there on his other side to take him in his arms and slide beneath the encircling chain. Zenon stopped a moment, watched to see... the little tensing of Shien's face, no more than that, and the sudden silent acquiescence as Homura's mouth came down upon him. Shien no happier than he at having Homura's mouth on his own, Shien yielding that last part of himself just as Zenon had. No fun, Shien, but that's how it is.

And it was his turn now, Homura's narrow flat butt before him, into Homura and so into Shien, slick and wet from Shien before him. Oh, and it was good yeah good oh yeah this /was/ good, hotter and tighter than he could ever have imagined. Into Homura, inside Homura, coming close to the power Homura had chained inside him and of course, how else could you get inside Homura where it all was if not like this? He was right, of course, he'd been right all along. Sasuga Homura, whose tongue was winding now about Shien's, taking that careful and disdainful mouth at last. No more bars between them all, no more fences, Homura, Shien, open to him at last, the closed doors opened at last and here he was- here they were- INto- into- cock into Homura, Homura into Shien- and the warning feeling, coming close, he thought no, longer, make it last longer- Couldn't. Cresting wave carrying him up and bringing him down the other side, flush up against Homura's back and face in Homura's hair. He drew a deep breath. The little exhilaration faded. That was it? They'd done it and that was it?

He slid off Homura, uncertain and a little disappointed. There should have been more somehow...

"Not quite," Shien's voice said.


"You know what's needed, Zenon."


"If you can do it," Homura murmured sleepily.


"You too, Shien," Homura added.

Zenon felt rather than saw Shien go tense on Homura's other side.

"Command me, then."


Good, because if Homura was giving orders, that would be the end of it. He couldn't do it if he was ordered. Master or not, he couldn't. But he couldn't make the decision to do it himself. If you can do it. And what if I can't? What if I'm not up to their level... Zenon waited, sweating, not sure what he was waiting for or hoping for.

After a long moment Shien sat up, slipping out of Homura's chain. Carefully he began to unwind the bandage from his left arm, looping it neatly into a small bundle that he put aside. More awkwardly, the right arm. Shit. Easy enough for him to do that. He wasn't the one had to-- had to-- bend for Homura, cause he'd already done it. Shien was unwinding the bandages about his waist. Scars there, old and silver, about his ribs, like the scars on his arms. Too many for an expert fighter like Shien to have. But someone who'd gone into battle with nothing to lose, someone who'd rushed the enemy recklessly and foolishly and over and over again, he might have picked up scars like that before he'd realized at last that getting himself killed wouldn't change anything. Shien put the bandages away. Turned back to the two of them, heart and belly-bare, with only the armour of his face to shield him. He looked over at Zenon, not in challenge, without emphasis, but of course the nothingness of his face made the challenge absolute.

"Move," Zenon said tonelessly. Homura lifted himself on an arm, crossed over Zenon. Zenon rolled into the warm space where Homura had been. Shien lay back down beside him. They looked at each other, Zenon from the covered eye that wasn't his any more, Shien through his two eyelids. Another way of seeing, with more than just the body. And behind Zenon was Homura, waiting his turn. At some moment there'd be Homura's hand on his ass, and then-- and then--

"We chose it," Zenon said to Shien, or maybe to himself. "Whatever it turned out to be."

"Yes," Shien agreed. "Whatever it required. We thought it better than the nothingness of Heaven." Zenon waited, half-hoping still for some miracle. "Close your eyes and think me whoever you please. That may help."

"Is that what you did?"

"I had no reason to. You do."

"And who're you going to pretend I am?"

"Anh." Shien conceded the point. "No-one."

And which was worse, Zenon wondered. Having someone to regret, or no-one? "Forget it," he said. "I'm me, you're you."

"Not for long," Homura said behind him, "if we get this right."

"Then better get it right, toushin," Zenon told him, the right words there when he needed them. He couldn't quite manage a smile, but at least his pride was intact. Remained only the doing of it, and hell- he'd done this thing once before. Turned his back on the guy he'd been, burned all his bridges behind him, walked out of Heaven with Homura-- and ended here in Shien's upraised arms. He put his mouth down on Shien's, and Shien shifted a little onto his back so Zenon was atop him. His hips lifted up so his ass was unprotected and he wasn't going to think about that at all.

 Shien had a nice mouth, nice breath, some kind of spice he couldn't place. Shien's lips moved with Zenon's own, not waiting passively like he'd expected. Shien's hands were on his back- that felt good, that he'd always liked- but the strength of them unusual, strong fighter's arms holding him. And there, on his hips, Homura's hands opening him. He drew a breath, tried not to think- and Shien's hand moved to the back of his neck as Shien's tongue came suddenly into his mouth. Zenon wanted to close his eyes but he wouldn't. Gonna be here for all of it, this was Shien kissing him like that, strangely delicate with lips strangely soft, not thin and hard like they looked. And that was Homura behind him pushing slowly and enormously into his ass, far too big for Zenon to hold. It felt like he'd rip any minute, skin pulled too tightly open around that-- thing. He waited for it. It wouldn't be the first time he'd been gouged open in red burning pain. But it didn't happen. Something changed- the pain gone bearable, gone only to-- not even discomfort, just- something there, something where nothing had ever been, feeling that he'd never felt, someone inside his body like discovering a whole new territory unknown and unexpected- what land is this? gently and easily into him and out, gently and easily flesh sliding across the secret flesh inside him, in his butt and in his mouth someone else because- no more walls, no more hiding inside the fortress of flesh, because they can come inside and they have come inside and I am- Zenon is-

-this happy thing, arms about the one whose arms are about me, held and holding, a bridge, a causeway from back-there to right-here and all of us wet with sweat and melting into each other, me-him-you-us, what will be when the flames have melted us all together, one of those gods with three heads and a bunch of arms and three cocks maybe that'd be neat, and something inside him chuckled darkly at the idea and something else gave a snort Mattaku but smiled too, and he was laughing himself, screwing and screwed and kissing and kissed and front and back no longer where they were but all so happily melted into one and elsewhere. Fulfilled, full-filled, filled full at last with no empty places left inside him mouth and ass and heart and belly all full up with this- with this- with this--


He woke at last, or came back at last, warm and relaxed and happier than he could remember being in centuries. Zenon again, but no longer alone. Behind him Homura's dark satisfaction, in front of him Shien's calm complacency, tangible to some new sense he'd never had before. The ache soothed at last- myself, only myself, all by myself- gone in the awareness of the other two completing him as he completed them. A tool, triple-forked, forged to do its work-- bring down the rotten rule of heaven and found a new Tenkai here on earth. Ready now for when the time would come. Let it come soon. Zenon smiled, and slept at last.



Dec 01-March 02