(for April)

"Do you want a cigarette?"

"Of course not."

"I didn't think so."

A click. An indrawn breath.

"Where did you get that thing?"

"You're talkative tonight."

A pause.

"They're not hard to get if you know who to ask. Tenpou Gensui and Kenren Taichou manage well enough."

"You haven't used them before."

"I was bored."

Another pause.

"I don't think I like the taste."

"Throw it away, then."

"Oh? Afraid the smell will get in your hair?"

"Leave me be."

"Interesting. What is it tonight?"


"You shouldn't lie to me. You know I'll get it out of you -- eventually."

Pauses, so many pauses. A tiny hiss. A muffled gasp of breath.

"You shouldn't be so noisy. I'll have to gag you again if you try screaming."

"I won't scream."

"Not willingly, no . . ."

"Ch'." Bitterness. "Why play like this?"

"I like playing. What else is there to do up here?"

"You play these games every night. They're pointless. You could serve yourself as well with your own hand as with me."

"You don't understand." A soft hiss -- silk or hair running through fingers. "You are the game."

"I could stop."

"But you don't."

"You started it."

"I did, yes. Your face, that night, in the light from your lamp . . ."

"Shut up."

"And you so desperately trying to keep quiet so as not to wake the child . . ."

"Shut up."

"Make me."


"Arch your head. That's right. Curve your neck. Good. Hsh . . . Don't -- hush now, Konzen Douji, someone will hear if you make that sort of noise . . ."

"I . . ."

". . . there. Mm."

A pause.

"You brought me to your rooms. Who would be listening here?"

"They don't leave me alone. I am the Emperor's nephew, in spite of everything else."

"Then --"

"No, lie still. Stop struggling. I'm not going to tell you again. They don't know I brought -- company -- back with me. If they did, I don't think they'd expect you."

"And if they knew about me, it wouldn't matter any more."

"How well you understand me. You must enjoy this little secret of ours."

"You're the one enjoying it."

"I'm the one enjoying you."

"Then why?"

"Because you're beautiful. Because we make such a lovely pair."

"It's dark. Why should you care, in the dark?"

"It's always dark. You wouldn't understand."

A pause.

"Aren't you going to say something?"

"What's the point."

"I could make you say something."

"You could. But I'm tired. Shut up and let me go to sleep."

"I can make you beg. You should mind your manners better."

"I'm not your pet."

"Aren't you?"

Breathing, barely restrained; metal shifts, flesh moves.

Heartbeat rhythms.


"I know you by heart."


"Don't contradict me again, Konzen Douji."

"Don't expect me to lie to ease your soul. You make me come here. You use my body. You threaten me with exposure to make me keep my silence. You can do all these things. So?"

"So? Oh, don't be silent now -- finish your piece."

"So I have no need of you."

"You do."


"You hate me."

"You aren't worth my hatred."


"There are hours of the night left to us, you know."

"I know."

"And still you said that."

"You think I care?"

"I'll make you care."

A pause.

"Oh, don't flinch like that."

Between breaths. "Why?"

"Because I can."

"No other reason?"

"Why should there be? Hush."


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