Title: Tactical Manoeuvres in
Author: Aeneus (http://aeneus.livejournal.com/)
Disclaimer: I don't own Heaven or any Gods in it.
Summary: In Heaven, courtship can take centuries…
Word count: 906
Notes: Written for the Minus Wave Flash Fluff challenge. Beta: car_jack
"So, as I was saying…" Tenpou's hands travelled distractedly round the various pockets in the lab coat draped over the back of the chair, then moved to his trousers; an unlit cigarette dangled from his lips. "Erm, what was I saying?"
A lighter appeared in front of his face, startling Tenpou to focus on back the man before him.
"Thanks." Tenpou took the lighter gratefully, lit his cigarette and handed it back to Konzen. "I didn't know you'd taken up smoking."
Konzen huffed. "Your routine was getting tiresome." He slid the lighter back into his pocket. "Don't think you're fooling anyone."
A small smirk played across Tenpou's face as he took a long drag. They were seated together at the dining table in Konzen's quarters; empty plates had been carelessly pushed aside and replaced by an astray and two sake cups. They had taken up a weekly habit of meeting to share a meal. Konzen would vent about the intrigue and politics of Heaven, while Tenpou would gossip about the latest goings-on down below.
The custom had begun when Tenpou had invited himself over some months ago. He'd been lounging in Konzen's office as usual, skiving from his own work and distracting Konzen from his. They made an unlikely combination according to some and initially Konzen would have agreed. The field marshal and the bureaucrat didn't have much common interest, but over the years Tenpou's occasional visits had turned into daily visits and Konzen gradually began looking forward to the small whirlwind of chaos and cigarette smell Tenpou inevitably brought with him.
What had started as an endless repeat of arguments, where Konzen berated Tenpou for messing up his office and Tenpou urged Konzen to loosen up, had slowly developed into a habit that let them sit in silence for hours as well.
It was this capacity that had earned Tenpou Konzen's appreciation more than anything. He could get on with his work while still having the comfort of someone's presence. Tenpou was content to smoke and read the books and documents he brought along, most of which Konzen would find discarded carelessly on his floor after the Field marshal had gone. Konzen had meticulous collected, tided and returned them the first few months, but now Konzen allowed himself to leave them as they were. It was a reassuring reminder he had not been alone.
It was on one of those daily visits that Tenpou had suddenly suggested he'd come over that evening after work. Konzen never had visitors if he could help it and there was a moment of hesitation on his part as he adjusted to the idea. He surprised himself in realising he quite looked forward to it.
Konzen judged himself a decent cook and Tenpou always showed appreciation at Konzen's efforts. He'd like to think himself above flattery, but he had to admit the praise filled him uncommon satisfaction.
This evening's meal concluded, they had moved on to sake and Tenpou was enjoying his after-dinner smoke.
"It never hurts to be underestimated," Tenpou replied and gave a knowing look across the table. "Doesn't it?"
Now it was Konzen's turn to smirk, only partly hiding it behind his sake cup. His eyes, though, let Tenpou know he was conceding the point. They both had shields they projected to the outside world, be it distractedness or indifference. The routines they went through had become so ingrained, it took almost as much effort to put them aside as it had taken to built them up.
Tenpou's gift for strategy was highly valued within the army and Konzen might not be a military man, but that didn't mean he couldn't recognise a tactical manoeuvre round his own defences. Konzen had never been this comfortable with anyone to let his guard down and he knew full well that it had been Tenpou's willingness to sidle into and make himself a part of Konzen's precious routine that had gained the Field marshal this rare entrance.
Warmed by the thought, Konzen's smirk turned into a smile, which he saw reflected by Tenpou. They both knew and acknowledged a connection was made beyond the conversation they were having.
"You have more enemies to content with than I," Konzen pointed out.
"All the more reason to value my allies." Tenpou's hand slid across the table and came to rest over Konzen's.
"Ally?" Konzen questioned, not moving his hand. They'd never put words to their developing relationship. Before, there had seemed no need as it had flowed naturally between the two of them. But now, Konzen sensed the need to confirm their path hang in the air, tangled in the smoke from Tenpou's cigarette.
"Friend?" Tenpou offered. Konzen imagined he could hear the spark of hope, tinged with insecurity in Tenpou's voice. While more might be wished for, the option for maintaining the status quo had been given. Konzen felt the trembling in Tenpou's hand and knew the value of the step they were taking. The next offer hung in the air, waiting for Konzen to vocalize it. Partner? Lover?
After a moments thought, Konzen curled his fingers around Tenpou's, looked at him and smiled, knowing he didn't have to say it. He could see the understanding in the other man's eyes and nodded.
They both knew in Heaven courtship could take centuries, but at least all steps so far were in the right direction and the journey was proving worth it.