Title: Belling the Cat

Author: teru_bozu_ebi

Website: http://teru-bozu-ebi.livejournal.com/

Pairings: Goujun/Kenren (Tenpou/Kenren/Goujun implied)

Rating: NC-17

Summary: Tenpou's gone, Kenren's climbing the walls, and Goujun tests a theory.

Warnings: Kenren sans nicotine. Violence & blood play. Naughty army boys.

Series: Part 8 of the Dream of the Butterfly series.

Disclaimer: Hers, not mine. Kenren the catnip is mine. Goujun's family structure comes courtesy of Wu Cheng'en.

(Oh yes; I have finally obtained an English copy of Journey to the West. Three volumes and over 15,000 pages long, and they still paraphrase whole sections of it.)

Notes: This fic builds off of previous events in the series, especially White Tiger, though there's also minor references to And a Smile and Yozakura. However, if you haven't read Tiger, you'll likely be just as confused as Kenren is. Just saying.

I wanted to get this out in time for lillypuff's birthday, but it just didn't happen that way. So close! Well, happy birthday, anyway!



Belling the Cat

"Um… hi. Is the Commander in?"


The hall boy was staring at him like he had just sprouted horns or something. It wasn't like the kid hadn't ever seen him before; hell, he'd most likely seen parts of him Kenren would rather not think about. Never saw him in broad daylight before today, he'd give him that. After they stared at each other for almost a full minute the kid finally stepped to the side and let him through the door. About fucking time. Fortunately, staring down a page boy wasn't all that hard.


"Is his majesty expecting you, sir?"


None too bright, though. If he had to ask whether the guy was in or not, the odds were he wasn't expected. Too bad the kid already seemed to be at the pinnacle of his viable career options. Maybe if he studied really hard he could make it all the way to Royal Bath Towel Holder some day; the tips were better. So was the view. Good to have goals. He briefly considered thinking 'good help is so hard to find' but it sounded too much like the dragon when he thought it.


Kenren had to admit he was in a pretty shitty mood today. The hall boy wasn't helping matters, either.


"Yeah, sure he is."

"This way please, sir."


What a dolt. It amazed him sometimes just how easy it was for him to waltz right into Goujun's house. They had security up the wazoo around here; a person had to get past two door guards and the hall boy simply to step foot in the place. But leer just a bit at the morons, wiggle a suggestive eyebrow, and they all turned red as a beet and stepped to the side, and in he went. Hell, he could see why the grand majority of political assassinations in Tenkai seemed to come in through the bedroom door; everybody else would be so busy blushing and averting their eyes that they'd never even notice the sword handle sticking out of the negligee. Or maybe they just didn't friggin' care if it was there, who could say. He doubted the household staff gave a rat's ass who they worked for, as long as there was somebody around to sign their paychecks at the end of the month.


They stopped in front of the library. After the kid poked his nose in the door he came right back out again, so obviously Dragon Boy wasn't locked inside with the books. Kenren pretended to study the pretty Confucius-quoting scroll hanging at the end of the hall while the page asked a passing maid about Goujun's current whereabouts. She didn't seem too sure of where he was, either, so maybe he wasn't home after all. They corralled yet another servant into the conversation. He kept pretending to read. Great, now while he waited for them to get their collective act together, he'd have plenty of time to think this whole thing through. Bad idea; these sorts of things never went well when he had time to actually stop and think about them. Merciful Bitch, but he needed a smoke. Something to occupy his hands and his thoughts while they took their sweet time in kibitzing. He patted his pockets, searching for the pack. An "ahem" from one of the henhouse three behind him politely reminded him for the umpteenth time in his life about the in-house smoking ban. Yeah, well, fuck you too. He stuffed his hands into his pockets and went back to looking at the scroll. Just the thought of a lack of nicotine was beginning to make him go jittery. He really needed to start bringing chewing gum along.


An innocent steward passing through became the next victim to be sucked into the servant vortex. Kenren sighed. Pretty, pretty scroll… this was fucking crazy. No, amend that; he was fucking crazy. He hadn't shown up alone since… well, since that time ages ago, when Tenpou had forced him to do it. He wasn't at all sure how Goujun would react to his being there now. Sure, he and the dragon were on halfway decent terms and all, considering. But beyond the sheets they could hardly be called pals or anything. He didn't think you could call a dragon king a 'fuck-buddy,' so he wasn't quite sure what to call him. Intercourse acquaintance? Copulation companion? There was probably some flowery euphemism that Goujun would use, like they were 'pillow mates' or something. Well, OK; if that was the case, he was looking for some pillow mating, then. Tenpou still wasn't back from that asinine diplomatic mission he'd been sent on, and Kenren had already fucked every chick in eyeglasses within a 50-mile radius. Twice over, in fact. He was running out of remotely attractive options for his extra-curricular activities, and he was pretty damn sure that getting that cute new boots noncom to wear a lab coat just so he could rip it off and ravish the guy would be a bit too fucking obvious for even the morons around here not to notice. Nope, since he and Tenpou were still and forever officially not an item, he couldn't be quite that blatant about things. Even if new boots could easily be convinced to do it; the guy had already given him the eye on more than one occasion. Strangely enough, Kenren didn't feel right about just doing him without the lab coat part. It felt like, well… like he was cheating. Or something.


Official or not, it was a fucking relationship he and Tenpou had, end of story. It had sort of snuck up on the two of them, not something exactly planned, but it was a full-blown "no use in denying it now that you're in the third trimester" kind of a relationship. Which neither of them could even admit to, so it was all kind of frustrating. Yeah, yeah, he realized the two of them would be unceremoniously booted if they ever 'fessed up, but it still bugged him to no end that it had to be kept a secret, and then it bugged him that it bugged him so much. He must be getting old or soft in the head or something, because he was genuinely enjoying dragging the old ball and chain around, and he kind of wanted to share the love. Only he couldn't. Not even with the dragon, really. Not the best of ideas to rub the royal ex's snout into the unmentionables, at least not any more than they were already doing. It wasn't something he was really interested in, anyway. It gave him rather disturbing images of the two of them gossiping about life and love over tea and cookies.


Still, he'd been enjoying it, this relationship thing. Up until now, that is. Now it royally sucked, because he had to pretend nothing was wrong when Darling Husband was gone on a fucking diplomatic mission for weeks on end. No amount of tail seemed to help a hill of beans to make it all better, either. All it did was remind him that it wasn't the right bit of tail, and it made him itch for that right bit all that much more. Man, when Tenpou got back, the little fucker was gonna be walking around with a serious limp for at least a week. You want sitting? Add another week on top of that. The man was definitely gonna pay, and pay heavily, for making his life a misery by not being here. The only consolation Kenren had at this point was that Tenpou had to be just as miserable as he was. They were making him wear his uniform for the entire fucking trip.


The minions must have finally located Godzilla, because he had suddenly been ditched to the maids and the two girls were now leading him down the hall towards the kitchens. Now that he thought about it, for better or worse it was just plain weird how much having a relationship with Tenpou had changed him. Sex had always been about the novelty; someone or something new around every corner, never hanging around for more than a few months before he got bored with it and moved on. As long as he ignored that little snafu with his old C.O. it had worked, and worked well in his life. But now that he had this relationship thing going, sex was all about trying to get Tenpou to make that little sound in the back of his throat, the one that meant you got him past the point of thinking entirely. That thin, high moan that meant his entire fucking universe had been narrowed down to just you, and what you were doing to him. It was all about waking up with the man's arms still wrapped tightly around you, and him still wanting you to be there. It gave Kenren the warm and fuzzies just thinking about it and holy fucking crap but what a sap he had become, thinking that kind of shit. This was exactly the problem he had with relationships, why he had avoided them like the plague. Tenpou had turned him into a Flowers and Moonbeams mush brain, and instead of running in fear, he was grinning like a fucking idiot over it all. He couldn't believe just how much being with Tenpou had ruined his sex life. His entire existence had been narrowed down to only two people, not counting himself, and he actually didn't mind; how fucking crazy was that? What was most horrifying about the whole thing was that Tenpou had never even asked him to do it. In fact, the man was adamant that Kenren kept the Flavor of the Day going, to help keep their reputations safe. Nope; somehow, it just happened. As time went on, he became less and less interested in the anonymous r&r. It made for a real challenge in the pants department when the goddamned asshole left for fucking weeks on end. A man had Certain Needs, after all. Nothing like an itch you couldn't scratch. That was why he was here; he was kind of hoping that itch was at a spot that the dragon could reach, because no one else had been able to even touch it.


They walked past the kitchens and out across a courtyard. There were feathers everywhere, so it looked like the man was having chicken tonight. How the hell did he rate fresh chicken? Wasn't that illegal up here? Shit, but this place just kept getting bigger and bigger every time… seriously; he'd been in towns Down Below that were smaller than Goujun's house, with less of a population than his household staff. Up some steps and into another building, or maybe it was the other half of the same building, he couldn't really tell. Yessir, he was really hoping that Goujun could scratch that itch for him, like the guy had enough of Tenpou by Osmosis by now to be the Control Freak Once Removed or something. Goujun refused to do some of the kinkier shit that Tenpou had turned into a fucking art form, but that was more than OK with him; he really wasn't interested in it if it wasn't Tenpou doing it, anyway. But hell, the dragon had enough sharp pointy bits all on his lonesome to make up for any lack of toys. That was part of the fun thing about dragons; always an instant kink party. It was kind of like fucking a cutlery set; it did all sorts of interesting things to your adrenaline rush, and afterwards you wanted to kiss the ground in relief, thankful that you still had all your parts intact. Still, considering that Goujun was no shrinking violet in the blood play department, it was funny that he got so weirded out by the other stuff. In fact, the dragon had gotten so freaked that night that Kenren really hit the stratosphere that they hadn't brought the ropes back since. They kept those kinds of nights to Tenpou's place now. A pity, since Goujun had such a nice big bed. Much easier to work the ropes on that thing. He'd really have to talk Tenpou into getting a new mattress.


Huh; he could've swore that they already passed that door once. Now he was totally fucking lost; he had no clue which direction they were even heading anymore. They really should put some maps up around here with "You Are Here" on them; guests probably disappeared for weeks at a time after trying to find their way to the bathrooms. Another turn, down another walkway. Oh, yeah; then there was that dream last night. That put thoughts of dragon sex into his head, if nothing else did. He couldn't remember much, but there'd been lots of white scaly coils wrapping around him, sliding across his body all wet and slippery, and it was fucking mind blowing was what it was. He hadn't had a wet dream like that since… well, since he could remember, really. They just didn't happen anymore. Anyway, add all that shit together and here he was at Goujun's door, looking to beg for some dragon tail. When all that free kami ass was walking around on the other side of these walls, just waiting for him to quirk a finger at them. Merciful Bitch, but sometimes he swore he was a bigger kink than Tenpou was.


Another turn, another hall. There were the muffled sounds of a swordfight going on somewhere nearby. Well well, it seemed Goujun had his own sandbox to play in, wasn't that a surprise. The maids stopped suddenly at an arbitrary door that looked pretty much like every other door they had passed along the way. He stopped behind them. They quietly stood there, waiting for a break in the combat. He followed suit. Sure, he used to try drumming up conversations with them, ages ago. But none of the servants would talk to him, or to Tenpou, except to say things like "this way, sir," or "your pants have been cleaned, sir," so he eventually gave up altogether. They all seemed to prefer to do things like stare at doors instead. And stare, and stare… after a few minutes, Kenren began to wonder if servants' brains went into some sort of 'energy save' mode that they could just stand there and stare like that. It would drive him friggin' crazy. Maybe they'd let him put the cigarette in his mouth, if he promised not to light it… shit, who was he kidding? He was so fucking hot and bothered at this point it would light itself off of his own body heat.


Chewing gum. Needed it. Badly.


Instead, he studied the wood grain in front of him. There was that crest again, carved into the door. It wasn't the first time he noticed it, since it was carved all over the place, even in the toilets. But there wasn't much else to do while he waited, so it was the first time he really stopped and thought about it. The same pattern was embroidered on Goujun's clothes. Kuang's too, if he remembered right, so it had to be the symbol of the Ao. For awhile he'd actually contemplated the idea of working himself through the Four Ao, since he was already halfway there. Two down, only two more to go. To make things interesting, he'd try sleeping his way chronologically from the top; with Kuang being the oldest and Goujun being Second Brother and all, it was already the way he was heading; so, something to consider. Supposedly Qin had an even nastier temper than Kuang, so it would really be playing with fire. Which made it tempting, of course. Goujun would have conniptions if he ever actually tried it. The guy still felt guilty as all hell about what Big Brother had pulled, guiltier than Kuang had ever felt about it. Still the big, fat blotch on his already blotchy record aside, he had to say it turned out OK in the end; it brought him here, after all. Even if here was currently standing and staring at a door, which wasn't exactly his favorite afternoon activity.


Had to be hard, though, being one of the Four Ao. Everyone wanting a piece of you. From what he could gather, Big Daddy Ao died when Goujun was pretty damn young. Not even old enough for horns yet, and there he was, a Dragon Mucky-muck already. Well… antlers. They molted and he shed them occasionally, so they technically had to be antlers, not horns. Whatever. Plus, there were the wifely issues; all political marriages, forced upon him by the family. Not much say in any of them one way or another. Shit, the guy had been married off to Wife Numero Uno before he even had a full set of equipment to consummate things. Kind of made you wonder just how well that worked out; they must have spent their honeymoon playing Tiddly-winks or something. Sure as hell explained why you never much saw any of the wives in Tenkai, though. What the guy had to go through, just so he could have little Crown Prince Mo'ang ready to go on the side lines. Sad, really. You wouldn't think that a king would have such a shitty home life.


Not that he'd ever tell the guy, but Big Brother's territorial pissing aside, Goujun did make up for it in the bedroom department. In spades. Ao Kuang was always the "wham, bam, thank you ma'am" type. No finesse at all. He probably didn't even like men; it was just the catnip thing that got to him, the Irresistible Nature of Yours Truly. Goujun, though… even with the guy's harem taken into account, one still got the feeling that Goujun really did prefer the "yang relations" his advisor was always harping on him about. Come to think of it, he hadn't seen ol' Bao the Asshole for quite some time now. Whatever happened to that guy… well, he didn't really care one way or another about any of it, but this was the kind of thing a person thought about while standing behind comatose servants, staring at a door.


They had to have been standing there a good ten minutes before the two of them deemed it the Most Auspicious Moment to open up said door. It was a sandbox all right; a big one. A regular arsenal of shiny happy weaponry stood glittering along the back wall, lined up all perfect and pretty. Goujun was in the middle of the room with a sword in his hand, talking to a trainer. Not someone that Kenren remotely recognized; definitely not part of the regular army staff. Some older guy, really old. Hell, he didn't look like he was even a kami. Not a dragon, either. Goujun stopped talking and looked towards the door, staring at Kenren in surprise. The man had a pretty damn good view of him too; the servants had already hit the floor. As usual.


"Your majesty, your guest has arrived."


Goujun didn't move. Kenren gave a little wave at the dragon, hoping to break the weird mood. All this time, and he still couldn't figure out what the hell the man was thinking about half of the time. After a long pause, Goujun swung his sword around in a lazy arc and turned away from the door, following the trainer towards the weapons racks.


"Come on in, General."


Kenren let go of the breath he hadn't realized he was holding and stepped forward, only to find his way still blocked by bent-over servitude. They hadn't moved yet, didn't look like they were planning to move any time soon. What, was he supposed to step over them or something? Dime a dozen or no, that seemed just plain wrong somehow.


"Um… Commander."


Goujun turned back around. Kenren pointed down at the kowtowing lumps in front of him. The dragon huffed out a laugh before turning back towards the racks.


"The two of you can stop torturing the General. They seem to be having a joke with you, Kenren. They could have left at any time."


The two on the floor sniggered and started scuttling backwards on their hands and knees like a couple of smarmy crabs. He jumped out of their way. They got up a few feet beyond the doors and ran back down the hall, laughing. What the fuck was that about? Maybe he should have stepped on the little passive-aggressive assholes after all. It seemed that some people were easily amused.


"Shut the door behind you, General. And take off your boots."


Now that he was in, he wasn't exactly sure what to do next; he couldn't exactly jump the guy with grandpa in the room. Instead he took off his boots and set them next to Goujun's. Above them was a shelf with the dragon's shirt and cloak, folded so amazingly neatly that you swore you could hear choirs singing as you gazed upon their immaculate pleats. Kenren wondered if Goujun spent all that time folding them himself, or if he had some kind of 'Weapons Training Room Clothing Folder Attendant' do it for him; one tended to think about these sorts of things in Goujun's house. The dragon was still talking to his trainer as Kenren walked across the mats to join them. When he got closer the old man looked up at him and smiled. There was enough of a tilt to the guy's head that you could technically call it a bow, but you could sure as hell tell who was considered top dog here. Kenren crossed his arms in front of his chest and nodded back.


"His majesty tells me, General, that you excel in the art of a neigong sword form of which I believe I am unfamiliar. Such a young man, to have acquired such internal skills. Who is your master?"


Odd accent; it made Kenren wonder just where the hell the guy came from. So, it seemed that the lizard king was bragging about his lowly pillow mate's sword form to his own personal trainer. Always nice to hear he was being admired, but when the hell had the dragon ever seen his taolu?


"I've had quite a few teachers over the years, sir. Can't say that any one of them is my master." Like hell he was giving anything away to this geezer. Funny, he had looked much bigger from a distance. Close up he seemed to come up to Kenren's chest at the most. In fact, he seemed about as wide as he was tall; a regular little daruma doll. The old man looked Kenren up and down, his face twisted into a smiling mass of wrinkles.


"I see. Yes, yes. You were quite right, Jun-kun. He is indeed as brash and rude as you have described him."


Jun-kun? Holy crap, who was this guy, that he could call Goujun something like that and get away with it? The geezer reached up with a rickety hand and patted the dragon on the shoulder.


"In any case, I am tired. We are finished for now, Jun-kun; why not play a bit with your little friend here. I will speak to you again before I leave. I think I might go and nap for awhile. You children have fun, now."

"Thank you for your patience, Chen Tzu."


Kenren felt utterly stunned. Old butter ball had managed to knock both of them down a few notches without even blinking an eye, and now he was simply waddling off like he had dismissed the kindergarten class or something. Goujun didn't even seem to mind; he was actually smiling after gramps, giving the guy a respectful, fist-holding bow. Chen Tzu… he wasn't the Chen from Mount Wudang, was he? The 'However Many Rooms Caves' guy? He was an Immortal, then. That made sense, at least in the wrinkles department. But still, Chen was a common enough name.


That had been… interesting. Informative. Kenren wondered what the odds were that he could work 'Jun-kun' somewhere into the conversation without getting his balls ripped off in the process. He got his answer the second the door shut behind the old man. The dragon's expression immediately hardened; he shot Kenren a look that said I know exactly what's going on in your little pea brain, don't even think about it.


"So, Kenren. What are you doing wandering about in the daylight hours?"

What was with these people and the daylight thing? "Who was that guy, anyway?"

"A friend."


A friend? He turned his head back to look towards the door. Since when did the dragon have friends? Kenren decided to press him on it a bit more because hell, the guy was kind of interesting, and he couldn't remember the last time he had met anyone who was remotely interesting. Especially if this Chen guy turned out to be the Chen Xi Yi with the caves and all. He turned back to Goujun to ask about the caves part, but his brain stopped dead in mid-thought as he finally registered that the dragon had nothing on but a pair of clingy silk training pants. Even his braid was undone for once; white hair was sticking out wildly all over the place, like a lion dancer's mane. Actually, it looked sexy as all fucking hell and it made Kenren think about his dream again, those slippery coils sliding over him. Parts of him began to stand at attention. Such a good little soldier he had, down below. Well trained. Knew to salute his commander and everything.


"I again ask; Kenren, why are you here?"

"Just…visiting. Hadn't seen you in awhile. Got bored. One of those."


Goujun huffed. Yeah, well, he wouldn't have believed it either. At least the dragon seemed to be in a fairly decent mood. He also sounded slightly winded, so it had to have been quite a workout with the old geezer. Hard to believe; grandpa hadn't broken a sweat as far as Kenren had noticed. Goujun braced his hands up on the rack and leaned over, stretching out the backs of his legs. The move gave Kenren a breathtaking view of a dragon's backside, muscles penny-bouncing tight under the thin silk pants. It left him momentarily speechless. His little soldier snapped himself up even straighter. He sure as hell hoped Goujun was doing that for him intentionally.


"I see. In other words, Tenpou has yet to return."

"So you haven't heard how it's going, then."

"I am not attached to the diplomatic corps any more than you are. It is a regrettable consequence of that damnable library of his that Tenpou currently is."

Goujun turned back around. He rested his arm on top of his head and began to pull. It tensed up the muscles all along his torso. Kenren tried hard not to stare at them. He had to get his mind out of the gutter for a little while longer, or he'd never be able to finish the conversation. He adjusted his pants and cleared his throat.


"But you're attached to Tenpou. I mean, you're his commander. You'd think they'd tell you something."


Goujun huffed again at the inadvertent innuendo as he switched to stretching the other arm.


"Keeping the army informed has never been a priority, I'm afraid. I'm sorry, but you came here for nothing."

"That's not why I came."



Goujun studied him silently for a moment as he continued with his cool down. Dragons were hard to suss, but Kenren figured that his nose was probably filling in the blanks of the conversation; those talented scent receptors of his had to smell it off of him by now. Not to mention the obvious trouser tent giving things away.


"I believe we've previously discussed as to why that might not be the best of ideas."


Ah, so he was catching on. And not exactly saying no. Let's face it; the man had to be missing Tenpou almost as much as he was. There had to be some way of using that to his advantage. To both their advantages.

"Seems to me your control has improved a lot lately. I'd say this is a perfect opportunity for you to practice a bit more."


It was true enough; Goujun had a helluva lot more self control as of late. You could see he was seriously thinking things over, too. The pause; he was considering it. Looking intrigued, yes; going for the bait… the mouth opened, good… no, bad. The mouth snapped shut again. Then the head shake. Damn it.


"I'm sorry, General, but I must decline…" Kenren's heart sank. So did a few other things. What, was he gonna have to literally beg for it? Whatever happened to that Irresistible Nature of Yours Truly?


"However, I believe a spar would be quite enjoyable. You're right in that I do need practice, at least in what I have learned today, before I lose it entirely. Why not choose a long sword from the racks and join me. Show me some of that famous technique of yours."


Now it was his turn to stare back at the dragon. He was beginning to wonder if there wasn't some sort of game on if he said 'yes.' If there was, the dragon's face wasn't giving anything away. Well, only one way to find out.


"Alllll-righty. I guess I'm up for that."


Well, at least he wouldn't be bored. If Goujun was itching to try a different kind of foreplay, who was he to deny the man? Kenren walked back over to shed his coat. The Clothing Folder Attendant Person was obviously slacking on the job or maybe he just didn't rate, because no one was waiting there to fold things all nice and pretty for him. He left his coat balled up on the shelf along with the skull and his socks and padded back over the mats to the sword rack. Long sword, the man said. He let his fingers wander over the tops of the jian handles. Nice group of weapons. Helluva lot nicer than the army's models. Seemed that dragons didn't bother with wooden practice swords; every one of them were steel. Kenren took his time looking for one with a decent balance while the rest of his brain chewed on what it was that Goujun might be up to. He'd need a bit more information than the teensy smidgen he currently had.


"If you're looking for me to do something spectacular with that neigong form, you're gonna be disappointed. There's a lot of prep time for that you're not gonna want to wait on."

"It's implied in the name, General. No, you needn't use that particular technique, though I assume that after having been trained in it enough of the effects remain that the results will be similar. But, whatever you feel works for the day is fine."


True, enough of it stuck to be pretty damned effective at a moment's notice. So maybe Goujun just wanted to watch it work from closer up or something. Spy for the geezer. Kenren balanced another sword across his wrist while he studied the dragon out of the corner of his eye. It looked like he might be doing a centering exercise, though he was able to converse so it wasn't particularly deep. Still, he'd bet money granddad was a neigong teacher of some sort. Wasn't that interesting. For obvious reasons the army trained solely in outward forms of combat, but who the hell knew what the Four Ao were taught to use at home. Nice sword, real nice. Kenren swung it around a bit, testing the feel of it in his hand. Yeah, this one felt real good. Nice balance for a practice weapon. Straight as an arrow. Absolutely perfect… except for the damned fucking phoenix on the blade. Well, that explained the pink tassel. The dragon huffed at him again. The man had been a regular laugh riot today.


"Somehow it seems fitting that you have chosen my wife's sword, Kenren."

"Yeah, you're a real funny guy. What, is she seven feet tall or something?"

"About that, yes. Shall we begin?"


He took the phoenix blade anyway. His own equipment wasn't gonna shrink into nothingness from using a girly sword just once. Especially one as nice as this; this was quality work. And he could always hope that using wifey's sword would be just suggestive enough that it would help push Goujun to take the plunge earlier. Kenren swung it around a few more times, showboating a bit, using the tassel as a lanyard. The thing was heavy enough. Goujun's wife must be a regular porker to swing this thing around. Still satisfied with his choice Kenren circled around to the far side of the mats, wanting the light to his back. There had to be something else going on here; with that geezer around, the dragon certainly didn't need him as a sparring partner, nap time or no. Red eyes were tracking him keenly from across the room. He had already taken his opening stance. Apparently Kenren didn't rate warm up time, or a formal bow, or anything. He took his own place a few yards away.


"Sure, show me what you got."

He hadn't finished the sentence before the dragon came at him in a flying blur. He struck hard and quick from above; Kenren barely had time to block the blow and almost lost his footing right out of the chute. He rolled out of the way and came back with a thrust to the shoulder which was easily warded off. Another thrust, another strike deflected. Kenren went low, Goujun jumped and retaliated. A blur of white flipped over him; hoping to surprise with an offensive move Kenren snapped his sword around and thrust back. There was the clang of metal as he felt the contact of the two blades push each other apart. He twisted about and rolled out of the way. As quickly as it started, it was over; they broke and resumed their spots on the opposite sides of the floor. Apparently the man had just been feeling him out there. Shit. There hadn't been any indication at all that he was gonna move until he'd already been halfway across the room. Kenren didn't know what he was expecting, but that hadn't been it. He should've realized that he'd need to bring his A game into this; there had been some stupid assumptions on his part all around. Goujun was better than he would have thought. Then again, the man came from a family of warriors; some of it would of have to have rubbed off on him sooner or later.


"Impressive, General. I'm surprised you managed to remain upright on that opening attack."

"To be honest, so am I. Nice move. You've lost the element of surprise, though. Won't be that easy again."


Goujun had an odd, searching expression on his face. Whatever this was, it sure as hell wasn't a simple spar. The dragon shifted his stance and began to circle. Kenren echoed it. The blur came at him again, but now Kenren knew what to expect; he easily anticipated the move and took the offensive with a few cuts. Goujun just as quickly disengaged and returned it. He countered. It went back and forth between them evenly until they moved to break it up again. He went back to the invisible circle they'd been walking. Well, that little skirmish told him absolutely nothing at all. As much as he liked a good fight, before they got any further into this he really wanted to know what the fuck was up with the dragon. He knew well enough than to just come out and ask. Across the mats Goujun seemed to be studying him, scowling. What, was he pissed off about something? Maybe he was angry about his just showing up like this, breaking up playtime with the geezer? No, couldn't be that. He'd have simply been sent packing if that was the problem. This was something different, something deeper… another attack. Another break. Another glare. He was definitely being stared down here. There was some serious bug up the dragon's butt.


Kenren chomped on it a bit more as he watched Goujun scent him from across the room. Wait… this wasn't about Tenpou, was it? Some sort of love triangle spat? Hell, it fucking took him long enough, if it was; you would have thought Goujun would have called him out ages ago already. The dragon struck at him again; Kenren parried but was a moment too slow, giving the man first blood. Stupid; he needed to stop playing amateur shrink and just concentrate on the fight, get the damn thing over with. He counter attacked; the dragon quickly blocked and returned it. Nice move. Sparse, almost poetic. Kenren had to admit he was thinking of almost being impressed. Finally, a halfway decent swordsman to practice with. He let a little grin spread across his face briefly before he dove in and really let loose. The dragon met him in full fury. Kenren emptied his mind and let the training take over, until there was nothing but the dance between himself, the opponent, and the weapons. It had been awhile. Things would have actually been enjoyable if he felt he knew what the hell was really going on.


After an eternity they broke and separated. Goujun began his circling again, shaking his head. Kenren again matched the dragon's arc. The light from the window seemed to have moved, so they'd been at it for awhile now. Explained why he was feeling it; he rolled his shoulder a few times to lessen its ache. He really should've stretched beforehand. Kenren began to wonder just how long it would take before the catnip would start affecting things. They were both breathing pretty heavily, so odds were Goujun was getting a pretty heavy dose of the stuff right now. Kenren wiped his face with the back of his arm. Hard to say with the sweat in his eyes, but it looked like he might be getting glared at again. He took a few deep breaths to try and bring down his heart rate a bit before the next round began. This had to be about Tenpou, it was the only thing that made any sense. He had never fought the dragon before so he couldn't tell if the guy was pulling punches or not, but it didn't seem like he was. It felt like a real fight to him. The man was really trying to push the envelope for some reason. The both of them would have been bleeding like stuck pigs by now if the swords had any edge to them at all.


They changed directions. Great, this was just fucking great. He should have seen this coming when the dragon had asked for the spar. It was obvious in 20/20 hindsight, but for some reason something as simple as jealousy hadn't even occurred to him. It just didn't seem like Goujun's style. In any case, they were both getting exhausted, so one of them had to give soon. He began to wonder what the viable exit strategies were, beyond his getting beaten to a pulp. He was pretty sure Goujun wouldn't take an 'uncle' out of him; one of them had to claim a solid victory. He supposed he could end this now; he had to say he was still the better fighter. Probably. But he was also outranked. Not the best idea to seriously injure his commander, especially considering his official record in the Eastern Army.


Goujun flew at him again with a few quick strikes before he went back to circling. The skirmishes were getting shorter, more violent, meant to wear him down. Well, it was working; he was getting pooped. But the dragon had to be getting tired, too. He had been winded before this thing even began. The circling was less about strategy and more about buying time while he caught his breath again. He could see the man's chest heaving from across the room. That's right, Dragon Boy. Breathe it in. Wait long enough and the catnip had to kick in big time, and then he'd be out of this predicament and the real fun could begin. Damn, the things he would do sometimes for a decent lay.


Another shift in direction, and with it the dragon began to growl; a long, low continual grumble coming from deep within the man's throat. It wasn't a sound Kenren had ever heard a dragon make before. The odd tone made the hair on the back of his neck stand up and a shiver run down his spine. He wasn't sure what the sound meant exactly, but he imagined it couldn't be good. It was fucking creepy, to be honest. Maybe it was some sort of psych out on the dragon's part. If it was, it was working, because it was sure as hell giving him the willies. Suddenly the dragon stopped dead. The growl stopped with him. He pointed his sword at Kenren in a challenge. Kenren swore he wasn't hearing things right, because what he thought he heard in that cry of hoarse desperation made no fucking sense whatsoever.


"Show yourself, tiger!"


What the fuck… he had no time to think as Goujun came at him again, striking at Kenren with a redoubled ferocity. Fuck it all to hell, he'd had enough; this had to stop, now. Kenren blocked then spun, hitting the man hard with a round-house kick to the chest. Goujun grabbed the foot as it made contact, twisting it to force him down, so he flipped up and hooked the dragon in with his other leg and they hit the ground together, their weapons clattering away across the mats. They rolled across the floor, grappling at each other until they came to a stop with the dragon on top. Goujun's face was right in his, his eyes wild with the catnip. Damn it, he was already fucking high as a kite on the shit; the nip was probably what was making him so goddamn aggressive in the first place. It was just like Big Brother used to get when he tried to ignore the stuff. Kenren made sure his feet and hands had a fairly good purchase before he pretended to let the man have the upper hand. Submit; it was the only thing that ever got through to Kuang. The dragon had him by the hair, his head pulled back to bare his throat. Kenren shifted his leg. One wrong move, and the guy was getting it right the balls. Hopefully that would give him enough time to flip him over if those big nasty teeth suddenly went for the jugular. He stared up warily at the contorted face above him, watching for any signs of attack. Belly up, I'm belly up, c'mon; let it register in that little lizard brain of yours… the dragon stopped, scented him deeply, and did that creepy growling thing again. What the fuck… things just couldn't get any more bizarre today. He could feel the tickle of hair and hot breath as Goujun leaned into his ear.


"Come on out, tiger. Come out and play."


Check that; it actually could get more bizarre. The guy was talking to the tigers again. Goujun went back to studying his face, looking for something. Sharp teeth hissed at him; Kenren tensed, knee ready for the strike. The dragon growled and yanked at his hair again. Things were beginning to get frightening.


"Stop your hiding, beast. You forget that I have seen your face."


Kenren swallowed as best he could, wondering what the fuck a person was supposed to say in response to something like that. He kept staring up at Goujun's stoned eyes, looking for some clue as to what the hell was going on. Maybe he was supposed to pretend to be a tiger or something, some sort of weird-ass role-playing thing that the dragon was into. Goujun's nostril's flared again, breathing his scent in. His pupils were already about as wide as they could get. Kenren kept his lip good and buttoned and played dead. He got the feeling that if gave the wrong answer with the whole tiger thing, he'd be dead meat.

"I can't smell you, tiger… is it in Tenpou that you hide?"


The dragon kept sniffing around Kenren's face, like he was hunting for something he'd gotten a whiff of ages ago and couldn't find anymore. At least he finally loosened the death grip on the hair. Kenren's neck relaxed a bit; he struggled for breath as he laid there and let the man scent him. Play dead, just play dead… he closed his eyes against the sting of sweat as he tried taking in a few deep breaths to compensate for the dead weight of a dragon on top of him. Goujun's sniffing suddenly changed into a stuttered gasp. Kenren's heart leapt; he knew that sound. It was the same sound he'd hear in bed, just before... his eyes snapped open to see if it was true. Goujun looked about as far gone as he had ever seen him, so it was worth a try. Kenren ground his pelvis up against the dragon's, staring up at him pointedly. The dragon stuttered some more. He ground up against him again, and his heart hiccupped when he felt Goujun's hips grind back. There it was, that unmistakable vibration starting in the dragon's chest. He had the fucker now. Kenren reached up and pulled the man's head down into a kiss as they began to dry hump each other there on the floor. His cock hardened again in a matter of seconds, the massive overdose of adrenaline in his veins making the whole thing feel much hotter than it had any right to be. Goujun pulled his head away from the kiss, trying to regain the upper hand, but the purr was on full volume; it was too late for him to stop now, even if he wanted to. The Irresistible Nature finally had him by the balls, and had him good. Still, that didn't mean the asshole couldn't try to get the last fucking word in.


"Is this… this what you… need… to come out…"


Kenren kissed him hard to shut him up. The dragon bit down on Kenren's lip and finally gave himself up to it, grumbling low as they increased the friction between them. The leather of Kenren's pants rubbed roughly against his sensitized skin, his cock so needy by now that it almost hurt. So good, so good… the dragon moaned again, lapping at the blood, grinding their hips together in a ragged rhythm. Already so close… he had to get their pants off, now. Kenren pushed a hand between them and managed to undo his zipper but fuck it just felt too good and he barely got his hand down inside before Goujun gave a strangled cry, jerking against him. It took him only a few more strokes to follow with a shout. His hand worked to wring out a couple extra spasms, just one more, just… nope, that was it. Damn, but he'd needed that. He finally collapsed, a sticky puddle of goo panting away in the middle of the training room floor. A scaly white goo pile was lying panting on top of him.


As usual, it took a moment for Kenren's brain to come back online. When the cranium did finally power up his first thought was I can't believe I just came in my pants. His body was still nothing but a floppy pile of limbs that he could barely move. Fuck, he was so wiped… the dragon was still licking away at his mouth. Kenren laid there and let him do it. It felt kind of nice, like he was a dragon-puppy or something. It took another moment or two for a second thought to form. Before he could voice it, he had to pull the dragon off his lip. He grabbed a handful of hair and yanked. Goujun's head just sort of peeled right up, dangling from his hand like a puppet.


"Holy shit, Dragon Boy. What the… fuck was that… about?"


He kind of lost the whole dramatic effect of the thing when he had to stop in the middle to catch his breath like that, but at least it all came out. Had to give him credit for that. He let go and the dragon's head flopped right back down again. Goujun still wasn't moving, his chin digging a sharp divot into an already sore shoulder. Kenren could feel it against his chest as the man struggled to form a coherent sentence. It took a few tries before anything came out. He still had to be pretty far gone to let the whole 'Dragon Boy' thing slide.


"It was… an experiment."


An experiment. It was such a ludicrous answer; Kenren couldn't help but laugh at its absurdity. His body thought otherwise and it came out mostly as a coughing fit. He had to roll over to keep from choking. Goujun rolled off of him onto his back and just lay where he landed about a foot away. Kenren wiped the spittle from his mouth and let his hand flop onto the dragon's shoulder. He patted it a few times before he rolled on his back again.


"Yeah, well. No offense, but whatever you were trying, I don't think it worked."

"Not exactly, no."

"'Not exactly, no.' Goddamn, but you've got a fucking crazy idea of foreplay, Jun-kun."


Goujun huffed between breaths at that. He flopped his hand in a threatening manner.


"Call me that again and… never mind. You know."

"Yeah, I know."


They lay there for awhile longer as their breathing slowed. Kenren was feeling rather triumphant over the whole Jun-kun thing; he couldn't believe he had actually pulled it off. He deserved a celebratory smoke in the very least, and as soon as he got his legs functional again, he'd head out to the garden and do just that. Wherever the fuck the garden was. He was still tasting blood... he looked over at Goujun, who was staring up at the ceiling. The red smeared across his mouth was the only color to him. Maybe he should ask him about that whole tiger thing. Then again, maybe he shouldn't. Maybe Tenpou knew what the fuck it was about; he'd said something about Tenpou in all that babbling, hadn't he? In any case, the dragon looked like a totally different person now. Like he wasn't crazy-ass bonkers anymore kind of totally different. Always the ambitious one, Goujun suddenly sat up. Then he scratched his head for a bit. After that, he sat there staring into space for a few moments before he yawned and then started to inspect a nasty bruise on his arm he had gotten during the spar. Then he noticed the come on his belly. He began wiping it off onto his pants.


"I think… I need a bath."


Shit, but that started up Kenren's laughing again. So that's how this whole thing was gonna play out; just like it did every time they fucked. Mr. Fastidious goes off to splash about with his rubber ducky, The End. Goujun looked over at him with a baffled expression on his face, like… well, like he thought Kenren was the crazy one or something. That look just set Kenren off even worse. It really wasn't all that funny, but by this time he was at the point where it was funny that he found it funny, and it all just kept him laughing even harder. By the time he got himself calmed down his ribs were aching and he was back to being floppy. Goujun was looking at him with a blank expression. Too blank.


"I told you before that it was not the best of ideas."


Kenren had to turn on his side as it turned into giggle-coughing fit again. Damn, he had to admit that the dragon's deadpan delivery was perfect on that one. It always surprised him when Goujun showed a real sense of humor. Emotionally over-tired, that had to be the giggles problem. He'd been through a lot today. Goujun sat there patiently waiting for it to end, smiling at Kenren's amusement as if he really did know just how crazy this whole thing was. It was a genuine smile, an indulgent smile. Kenren's laughing finally died down naturally. He smiled back. Nope, whatever this thing had been about, it hadn't been about Tenpou. Not with that twinkle in those red eyes.


"Would you like to join me?"


Kenren stared at him dumbly. He wasn't quite sure what he was asking. It took a moment for Goujun to realize he needed to elaborate.

"In the bath."


Kenren blinked at him. The bath? As in, the royal bath? The holiest of holies? He was being invited into the bath?


"I dunno… is it as big as your bed?"


Goujun smiled again as he looked back down at the mess drying on his pants. He started picking at it. It had to be driving him absolutely crazy that the royal personage was soiled, because he wouldn't leave it alone.


"It depends, General… are we talking specific volume including water, or architectural footprint?"


Kenren snorted a few times, but his ribs nixed any more of a response than that. A flash of his dream suddenly came back to him, the one with all the slippery coils. Maybe it had been some sort of premonition; he had to imagine a wet dragon would be all sorts of slippery. Yeah. It'd be nice. Hopefully Goujun wasn't looking to find out if phantom tigers could breathe under water or anything. He didn't seem to be talking crazy talk anymore, so Kenren was kind of thinking maybe not. Note to self: nip and swords just don't mix.


"Well, since I gotta wait until my pants are cleaned anyway, sure. I could do with a bath."


Goujun smiled at him again. It seemed like something had changed between them, though Kenren wasn't sure just what it was. It felt like it was a good thing, though. Things felt… lighter. For once, he decided to just let things be and didn't say anything smartass to make the moment safer. Anyway, who knew; if he played his cards just right, he might get a chicken dinner out of it as well

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