Title: Body of Knowledge
Pairings: Tenpou/Goujun (Tenpou/Goujun/Kenren implied)
Warnings: Yaoi. Blatant misinterpretation of scriptural meaning on the part of a kami.
Summary: What Tenpou sees in Goujun is more than anyone could guess.
Series: Part 11 of Dream of the Butterfly.
Disclaimer: Hers, not mine. Quotes from the Chandogya Upanishad and the Prabhavananda/Isherwood translation of the Bhagavad-Gita not mine either.
Notes: Squeaking in (at least on this side of the globe) on the
last day of the recently moved Goujun
Appreciation Month, I give you the next installment of Dream
of the Butterfly. A small piece that manages to answer the question many
readers asked, "What does Tenpou see in Goujun, anyway?"
Turns out you had no clue, and neither did anyone else, including Goujun.
My apologies to Hindus everywhere for Tenpou's blatant misrepresentation of scriptural meaning. If it makes you feel any better, he's an equal opportunity blasphemer and would have been quite happy to have done the same thing to the Bible, Koran, Dianetics, or the Dhammapada, but he just wasn't all that into them.
In any case, here you go; one long Goujun Appreciation. Hope you enjoy!
Tenpou smoked quietly
as he watched Goujun sleep. The dragon had taken to sleeping on his stomach as
of late so the view wasn't nearly as voyeuristic as it sounded, but as he'd
also taken to kicking off the bedclothes, the view was at least unmarred by the
admittedly beautiful embroidered silk sheet that Tenpou knew was literally
worth more than his entire wardrobe. Shifting the mattress as little as
possible he slowly leaned over the edge of the bed and tapped his cigarette
into his wine glass. Beyond the perfumed breeze stirring the bed curtains and
the occasional crackle from the burning end of a cigarette, Goujun's soft
breathing remained the only sound in the room. Good… a smile crept across
Tenpou's lips as he just as slowly and quietly returned to his position.
It was one of his favorite activities, watching the dragon. Soaking him in through the eyes, quietly witnessing his back as it rose and fell with a deep, even breath, marking the passage of time as steadily as a ticking clock. Goujun slept heavily, and as long as he was careful Tenpou could take in the sight for quite some time. He leaned his head onto his outstretched arm to give himself a clearer view of the sleeping face; still so young by a dragon's standards, but they had been together long enough now that Tenpou could clearly see the mark of the centuries as they mapped themselves across the mortal body. Horns had become longer, eyes clearer, mouth thinner and more aristocratic. It was as though he were watching a diamond as it was slowly cut and formed, refined and faceted. Reaching out with an invisible caress, he let his fingers trace along the course of those years as they flowed lightly across the peaceful features. I am become Time… Yes, he had to say Goujun was even more beautiful now than he had been when they had first met, and on nights like this Tenpou would often stare at him for hours, absorbed in long meditations on the meaning of perfection and the definitions of beauty in the world.
Kenren had been allowed into this ritual of his a few times, though initially not by choice; Tenpou had been caught in his voyeuristic meditations one night, too preoccupied to notice when the man had awakened. But noticed he had been, so before Kenren could speak Tenpou had touched a finger to his lips, quieting him with a soft hush before simply and silently showing him, letting the sleeping form take their attentions where it would. Sharing the dragon with Kenren that night had been like meeting Goujun's body again for the very first time, and just as breathtaking. Delighting in the rediscovery of the pearlescent reflection off the tiniest of scales, here; admiring the odd, sinewy stretch of a muscle group kami simply didn't have, there. Exploring textures as they merged and shifted across the skin, drawing one's eye ever upwards over the houndish belly, towards the distinctive rhythm of the heartbeat pulsing in the soft area of the throat. His fingers glided a hair's breadth above the dragon's body, unveiling its secrets to Kenren's warm and attentive eyes with nothing more than the simplest suggestion. After awhile Kenren joined in with him, letting his own hands hover over the planes and contours of the pale iridescent flesh, a touch that wasn't touching yet it seemed to Tenpou that the quiet moment shared between them had felt more profound and more moving than had they been locked together in the deepest kiss. He'd since noticed that Kenren now sometimes stroked Goujun in the same manner during their foreplay, barely touching, taking time to delight in the form beneath his fingertips, admiring the sheer beauty of the dragon's body before it all became too intimate and the comfortable routine of sex took its place. Tenpou liked to think it was he who introduced the true dragon to Kenren, even if he wasn't exactly sure what Kenren saw when he looked at that truth. It didn't matter, really. What was most important in it all was the witnessing.
He stretched out again, quietly disposing of the butt before propping his head back up ever so carefully, disturbing the bed as little as possible as he returned to his evening vigil. Appreciative eyes followed the long, sinewy line of the back down to the soft curve of the buttocks. A faint scar followed the ridge of the hip there, a landmark of time that always caused Tenpou's heart to skip a beat whenever he looked at it. By now the old war wound had faded to near nothingness, but the memory of the battle that had created it had not faded in the least, at least not for Tenpou, and as he closed his eyes he let the memory of it take him in once again; the deep heartbeat of the war drums thrumming their victory song through the evening camp, the winds whipping up the bonfires, the flames growing ever higher as if they were reaching out to scorch the gathering clouds of the heavens. Goujun, standing alone on the hillside above it all, unmoving, staring out into the blood red of a setting sun. That day had been the only time Tenpou had ever seen Goujun as a true dragon and their victory that day had been his, not the army's; they had merely stood by impotently as it raged in the sky high above them, and he still had dreams of Goujun grappling with that enormous beast, all teeth and talons and tail and as Tenpou watched him afterward standing on top of that hillside, still larger than life and stuffed into a tiny kami frame that was not truly his, he had felt almost ill from the intensity of it.
The rest of the troops had seemed almost frightened of the dragon that night, but Tenpou was not afraid. No, he wanted to touch that incredible destructive power, become one with it. He had never wanted anything so much in his entire life, and the longing it had awakened in him had been so visceral, so alive, as if for once he had been a part of time, and not merely a witness to it, so that as the night began to fall on camp he had found himself drawn further and further up that hill, pulled by an invisible hand towards the source of all that power, until the dragon no longer stood alone. When he reached the top he found that immense energy still raging violently about them, unleashed in a dragon's rain, but he had walked right on through the lashing winds because he had to. He had to touch the taboo of death as it stood right in front of him, touch the blood still smeared across Goujun's face and mouth. The dragon had killed, killed and devoured the thing right there in front of them all, had done the undoable, and without a word Tenpou had simply walked up and reached out to join with it. I am become Death… Goujun had stared at him in shock, almost as surprised as Tenpou had been that he had dared such a thing. Glassy wild eyes had narrowed as the dragon growled deep, his voice so gravelly that Tenpou had barely understood him over the howl of the wind.
Tenpou had been quite aware of what the dragon was warning him of, the menace of a bloodlust hardly contained, still so close to the surface it could easily swallow him whole.
But at that moment, it hadn't mattered- in fact, he had been reveling in it.
Goujun's nostrils had flared at the admission; the long slits of pupils widened as the dragon growled at him again, harsher and louder than before. Tenpou, caught in that deadly glare, had suddenly become aware of a new, terrible need clawing at him in the pit of his stomach. When the dragon stalked away, Tenpou had followed- he had been following ever since. So long ago now that Goujun could not remember that night; he had been asleep in that bloodlust, only half there to begin with. But Tenpou still remembered it all, for Tenpou had been Awake. At the time he was sure it had been the first time he had been truly awake in all of eternity.
A long ear twitched, bringing Tenpou's attention back to the quiet face in front of him. He smiled indulgently as sleepy hands joined in, following whatever phantom prey the dragon had cornered in his sleep. So many contradictions in that deceptively tiny frame. Tenpou was well acquainted with deception; lies and half-truths flowed as freely as a river from his mouth- but Goujun seemed the embodiment of it. Goujun as he truly was, the dragon… the dragon was not this body, now asleep beside him. The creature he had seen that day had been enormous, a force of nature, the oceans brought together and made flesh- and yet, this tiny kami body dreaming its little butterfly dreams was hardly a mask. Tenpou could touch it, and it reacted to his touch, it breathed and bled, felt pain and pleasure, if not the same than similar to his more serpentine body. The scars that the dragon had received that day so long ago marred this body as well. Goujun lived within his kami body, truly lived in it as much as Tenpou lived within his own, and he first began watching the dragon because of this paradox, trying to unravel the puzzle of Goujun's forms. Which part of him was the truth, which the lie. But after years of trying to pry off the mask, break it, or at least peek underneath, night after night of watching and staring at him just like this, Tenpou had found he had nothing to show for it. Taoists often spoke of the duality of all nature but it was in Goujun that Tenpou had first seen it clearly, how a thing also held the seed of its opposite within it, for it was quite evident Goujun was not simply one, and not the other. Nor was he a gestalt of two, for neither beast nor kami could truly be said to hold the totality of him. The truth held in the dragon's forms transcended both distinctions. But if neither form was Goujun, then Goujun himself was nowhere to be found- which made no sense whatsoever because if that was the case, then somewhere in all of that searching he had lost the object of his inquiry entirely, left him buried somewhere underneath a mountain of logic. In the end, after all of that hunting Tenpou had literally come up more empty-handed than he had begun.
That Goujun was literally a living paradox was an answer of sorts, but such an intangible one that Tenpou's analytical brain simply would not accept it. Having abandoned that thoroughly unsatisfactory answer he next turned his inner eye to his original question and contemplated that instead, hoping there might be some key, some obvious error in his logic he had thus far overlooked. And so it began all over again; night after night, year after year of chasing his own intellectual tail, looking everywhere and anywhere for a someone that it seemed did not exist, yet was clearly lying asleep right next to him. Centuries of his mind spinning round and round in increasingly tighter circles of logic, spiraling further and further inward looking for any straw at all he might grasp onto that would tell him Who is he? What is he?, until thoroughly frustrated and totally befuddled over it all Tenpou had finally admitted defeat, and exhausted, his overtaxed mind at long last ground to a halt. A feat in and of itself, for it had probably been the first time it had ever stopped in its constant hum of rumination in all eternity, and would probably be the last- but that night Tenpou wasn't looking for any silver cloud to line his shortcomings. It had been a monumental effort on his part, true; but all the same, one that had failed quite miserably, and he would have been quite happy to wallow in that misery for awhile, take some well-earned time off to kick himself in his mental heinie for his decided lack of intellectual brilliance, but despite all protests to the contrary Fate decided he needed a lesson in intellectual humility and rolled out that unwelcome little cloud of happiness anyway. So, as he lay there that night with an exhausted cranium that had finally and at long last (to borrow a Kenrenism) shut the fuck up, in that sudden silence of mental inhalation a small voice that had previously been drowned out by the constant grind of intellectual machinery could finally be heard whispering within him, and Fate told him that he damned well better listen to it. Tat tvam asi, it said; "Thou are that."
Suddenly, he knew; it did not matter what form Goujun took, for form was meaningless. Self changes its form from lifetime to lifetime across time and space, a cosmic actor changing its costume as each new role began- and in Goujun, one could watch that play of time compacted into a singularity. He had finally found his answer. The dragon- his dragon- was the embodiment of Time itself.
He who sees his Lord deathlessly dwelling amidst the mortal, that man sees truly. Tenpou quietly snorted; such a heresy, that. Most would consider his beliefs more than a little sacrilegious, but he had always found inspiration and faith in rather odd places. Usually in science, true enough. Though in this instance he was surprised to admit science had failed him quite spectacularly, its near-tyrannical hegemony over his mental terrain was finally supplanted… and by metaphysics, of all things. But Tenpou had to admit, the realization of Goujun's true nature had been as close to a religious experience as he had ever come, a satori of sorts, perhaps, if one believed in such a thing. In any case, as close to a spiritual awakening as Tenpou would ever get. Now whenever he watched the dragon sleep, Tenpou saw the dance of eternity as it played out before him, form and void, creation and destruction, the ceaseless eternal cycle as the great Self or God or whatever you wanted to call it tried on the mask of the dragon then that of the man and back again, and God as Tenpou watched as God played, awed by the sight of his own creation. The thought was breathtakingly beautiful, the infinity of time acted out in front of him in microcosm; tat tvam asi all wrapped up in the body of a sleeping dragon. Tenpou still watched as Goujun slept, oh yes, but he was no longer looking for an answer as to what it was he was watching, for he now saw it clearly, unmistakably, as if before him the cosmic stage curtain had been finally lifted on the eternal play already in progress. Instead, after his Great Awakening his meditations began to shift their emphasis, slowly, subtly, until Goujun was no longer a mystery to be unraveled but a manifestation of the Great Mystery itself, and he found himself using Goujun's body as a meditative tool, letting his contemplations take him where they would across the vast internal landscape of thought and meaning. If God chose to become a sleeping dragon king in the here and now, then who better to bring his meditations to, than to God?
I let loose the rain, and withhold it.
I am the cosmos revealed, and its germ that lies hidden.
Ah, heresy upon heresy.
It was fitting that his copy of the Mahabharata had been a gift from
Goujun; Tenpou couldn't help but think of the dragon each time he read it now,
although he knew he was taking huge liberties with the meaning of the text
while doing so. But after all, the entire point of the largely generative act
of reading was to combine the thoughts and experiences of the reader with the
author's words in order to create a whole new world upon the printed page; that
his world was a bit farther from the original intent of the author or authors
hardly mattered to him. It was what it was, and what his was was
a radiant internal universe of pure mind, with Goujun asleep at the heart of
it. Beside the silent dragon Tenpou prostrated himself and became Arjuna, the
seeker, begging the truth from his all-seeing lord,
Tvat tvam asi. Thou art that. Thou art God.
God and Time, all spread out so tantalizingly in front of him on top of a very expensive silk sheet. To be brutally honest, one of the reasons for the cigarettes; he'd become a chain smoker not on the battlefield but here in bed, for once his hands had nothing to do they invariably ended up wandering their wicked way across the warm naked body of Time and Space. Many a night of pleasant internal metaphysical discourse had been completely derailed by a sudden urge for plain old external physical intercourse, as his evenings of deep thinking seemed eternally destined to lead to hard fucking. But then, Krishna always seemed to stoke the fires in his harem of lusty little cow girls, so it was hardly surprising Tenpou's God brought out the same glow in him as well. Lust was Truth, after all, as great a Truth as any he had ever known. Especially true when one was lying buck naked with a raging hard on next to the amazingly attractive physical manifestation of one's conceptualization of God, who so freely gave of himself, who granted communion each and every time his lowly seeker asked for it. Well, not so much seeker now as devotee, one who longed to be joined with and consumed by that divine fire, to be burned away and rebuilt anew within the flames of perfect dissolution. Tenpou had been burnt by that flame time and again, and yet he never got his fill of it. Then again, he had always been the type to play with fire.
This is my form of fire, world-wide, primeval… alone of all men,
Arjuna, I showed to you because I love you.
Tenpou shifted closer, seeker changing to supplicant as he began to touch, tracing the same contours his eyes had followed moments before. Ever so slowly gliding up the thigh with the back of his hands, twisting his fingers around to cup the buttock, slowly sliding back down between the legs. Traced the scar, the tether that so long ago tied them together. Leaned over and lovingly kissed it, licking up its length and then moved closer to kiss the end of the tailbone, slowly, reverently, taking time to lick and suckle the point where the dragon's tail hid itself from sight within the kami body. A sensitive, erotic spot, arching into his mouth even in sleep. He shifted again, pressing himself up against the length of the dragon's legs as his hands wandered even farther in their search for meaning, sliding up along the backbone, lingering along the shoulder blades. His fingers splayed out, each finding its own path to the Truth, hands slowly tracing the vertebrae back down to again cup and knead the flesh at the bottom. Suppliant lips kissed one cheek, then the other, carefully tasting each before licking his way back up to the tail bone, sucking harder, kissing, stroking, intimately painting his portrait of Eternity with fingertips and tongue across the perfect skin beneath them.
Eternity shifted beneath his mouth, at long last waking up. Tenpou let his tongue strike out again, now bolder as he drew the cleft apart and dropped his nose down between, pushing the tip of his tongue in as a light moan vibrated beneath him. A sleepy voice rumbled out of it.
"What are you doing?"
As if it wasn't obvious. Tenpou continued pushing and licking deeper, wetting and stretching the pucker. He felt the muscle relax, an invitation that he gratefully accepted, pulsing his tongue further inside until the rhythm of the hips beneath his hands began to match that of his tongue and he finally withdrew and again kissed and nipped a cheek. Smiling up from his task as the dragon's hips shifted again, tilting upward, searching for more. Tenpou's finger carefully sank in to continue the work his tongue had begun, slowly pushing in and out and in again, drawing out a long, appreciative moan from the Embodiment of Time before he finally bothered to answer the question. Using that low, playful voice for which he knew the dragon had a soft spot.
"Why, your majesty. I am ascending into heaven, riding on the back of the dragon."
A soundless chuckle beneath him, and Tenpou's smile broadened as the legs widened further. He rewarded the movement with more attention to the tailbone. A breathless groan from his lover as the one finger was joined by another, a slow and even rhythm and then when Goujun's back arched ever so slightly higher to meet his movements he himself had to moan in appreciation at the sight of it. Oh yes, this is how he marked time in heaven; not by the ticking of a clock, but the supple movements of a dragon's willing body. Long, sinuous. Perfect.
Pausing to retrieve the bottle, he lifted himself up to move in between the long, muscular legs, pushing them further apart. Let the slick spiciness trickle down into that welcoming heat and as he pushed his slippery fingers in again he was rewarded with another moan, slightly louder as pale hands grabbed at the sheets, looking for leverage to push back against him. Goujun's body swallowed him up to the knuckle, so hungry, so ready for more. Tenpou sat himself up, kneeling briefly before his sacrilegious altar before carefully pulling out and laying himself across the dragon's back. Their bodies moved in unison, rubbing softly against each other as Tenpou buried his face into Goujun's back, tenderly kissing the spot between the shoulder blades. The scales on the dragon's backside caught along his belly as the long body arched and slid against him, pushing itself up with a serpentine roll against his hardness. Welcoming the devotee, promising bliss in dissolution.
Be absorbed in me, lodge your mind in me…
Tenpou felt the muscle give, the tight heat all at once surrounding him, so good, so perfect- his heart pounding nearly out of his chest he had to stop, paused just over the threshold. He was the only one who had ever opened this door, he knew; he alone had been given the keys to this paradise, and the thought that he was given such an immense trust was sometimes nearly overwhelming. He took in a few shaky breaths and sank in a bit further, still trembling as he fought for control. Goujun laughed breathlessly beneath him; his voice teasing, rumbling through his chest so that Tenpou felt it as much as heard it.
"So, Immortal One. On the dragon's back, yet you pause to enter the gates of paradise?"
Tenpou laughed with him, relaxing into the game. Ah, so sublime; even now God played on, the kami now become the Immortal, riding the back of the celestial dragon into heaven. Smiling, Tenpou lifted up his face from his task, stretched himself as far up as he could to whisper his prayer into the long, pointed ear. It twitched under his breath.
"Open your gates to me, oh king. I wish… to become one with perfection."
Another deep rumble beneath him, and he began to move at last, the dragon moving with him. Light scrubbing of scales against flesh, the warmth of paradise surrounding and pulling him in deeper, hot and beautiful and perfect. The ride to heaven was never long enough, he always reached its euphoria far too soon as his body sped up, rushing headlong into that flawless moment, buried deep within the Truth found in that tight body. He cried out in shock from the intensity of that blinding moment of release, kept right on crying in triumph as he rode the back of the dragon into heaven, the dragon writhing underneath, flying ever upwards with him.
Slowly, so slowly coming back down into time and space, again separating the Self from the eternal, destruction making way for creation as he rebuilt Form, put on the mask of the kami to once again become the plaything of God. They lay connected together, still one body as he drifted back from his latest bid for nirvana, not as noble a return from the brink as a Bodhisattva, perhaps- though, he liked to think that if a Bodhisattva had ever stepped their toe over the threshold as he had, they would have never thought twice about it and none of them would have ever come back to help anybody. He had seen the other side, seen the perfection waiting there, and had hungered for it ever since. Waited at its door, watched as it slept. The celestial dragon dropped back off into sleep, his breath becoming slower and deeper. Pressing his face between Goujun's shoulder blades Tenpou let his own breath mirror it, a single breath shared between them, until he too began to drop off, cut adrift together on the endless eddies of time.