torch, flambeau@strangeplaces.net
October 10-16, 2009

Disclaimer: actual librarians are really very nice. This is clearly set in the same continuity as All the dust in heaven, several book loans (and a lot of other indecent behavior) later. Written for kink_bingo. Beta by Arduinna and Mary Crawford. Do not archive without permission.

evil is an exact science

"You put fingerprints on my book."

Field Marshal Tenpou's voice was perfectly level and calm. The light caught his glasses, turning them blank, making it impossible to see his eyes. The arch of his eyebrows was clean and pure; the gentle curve of his mouth looked almost innocently sweet.

General Kenren swallowed hard and tried to persuade himself that he didn't feel a chill down the backs of his legs and up along his spine. "Fingerprints, is that all," he said breezily. "Least I didn't spill any cigarette ash in there. I think."

Tenpou tilted his head slightly sideways, and now Kenren could see his eyes, and wished he couldn't. This was going to be bad.

"Bloody fingerprints."

Kenren slouched against the nearest slouchable object, a stack of books piled god-high and teetering precariously. "Paper cut?" he offered. His clothes suddenly seemed to fit him very badly, or maybe it was his skin.

"That seems unlikely," Tenpou said, with an air of waiting, very politely and patiently, for something. His eyes were clear and green and deep as the sea, and completely implacable.

"Ah, these things happen." Kenren shrugged. "I'm a soldier." He met Tenpou's gaze, and Tenpou raised an eyebrow, just a hair's breadth. "It's just a book." Tenpou's gaze didn't waver. Kenren broke. "You could punish me," he said in a rush. Tenpou was his superior, technically speaking, even if he never acted like it, and had the right, technically speaking, even if he never acted on it. And that was for military matters, which rarely included lyric poetry, even in Heaven. Anyway, anything was better than just being looked at like that.

Tenpou looked down, then up. He wasn't short, really, not at all, yet he always seemed to be looking up at Kenren, under the shining black strands of his untidily cut hair, through the long black veils of his eyelashes, and more often than not through a cloud of cigarette smoke. Meeting his gaze at last was like finding buried treasure, or, right at this moment, a buried trap.

"I wouldn't want you to think I'm that kind of person," he said, drifting closer. "If I were to spank you, for instance. That might not be appropriate between us." Kenren made a small sound. "And you're not impressed by physical punishments, are you."

Kenren shrugged. "Dunno, I've never had any," he said, covering up the previous small break in his composure with a cocky grin. Attempts to rough him up to keep him in line were nothing but a nuisance, after all, and a healthy bout of fighting was his second favorite kind of exercise.

The idea of Tenpou's hands on him, Tenpou doing that to him, now that was something entirely different.

"Or if I were to leash you, the way Goujun's uncle did with his companions when he was visiting."

Kenren made another small sound. Those companions, male and female both, had worn fine gold chains looped from nipple to nipple, sometimes on rings, sometimes on clamps with tiny serrated gold teeth. All it took was a gentle tug, of finger or claw-tip, to make them move and shiver. "I'm not a fuckin' pet," he said.

"Oh, no, I know that. Then the leash would go around your neck." Tenpou appeared to be considering this. "I'm sure you would shrug it off."

Kenren wasn't so sure, really not at all sure, but he locked his knees and kept the grin on his face. "You know me," he said.

"Yes." The calm certainty in that word nearly overturned both Kenren and the stack of books. "Oh, I know." Tenpou's face lit up, and he turned to rummage in a desk drawer, bringing out a red-lacquered box, its edges outlined in gold. Kenren's muscles clenched even before Tenpou turned back and flipped the lid open. "Do you remember this?"

The object inside was wrapped in several layers of silk, but Kenren knew what it was even before Tenpou pushed the filmy coverings out of the way. He remembered it very well, a short, thick rod of padded leather over a core of bronze. He remembered the way it narrowed down and then flared again at one end, with a broad strap that gave just enough for three strong fingers to fit underneath and work the plug in and out before settling it into place. He remembered what it felt like when Tenpou wielded it, worked it into him. "Nn."

"You could wear this," Tenpou said meditatively. "Underneath your clothes, and perhaps no one would notice, perhaps you would still move as you always do, keeping it a secret from everyone," he smiled sweetly at Kenren, a divine vision in a wrinkled lab coat and carelessly knotted tie, "except me."

Kenren swallowed. "Ngh."

The box snapped shut. "Well, now, I'm going to have to think about this." Tenpou put the box down and hustled Kenren to the door while Kenren was still too dazed to protest. "Meanwhile, why don't you go about your day as usual? I'm sure you have a lot to do!"

Kenren blinked as the door closed with him on the outside. He wasn't sure if he'd just gotten off lightly, or if he'd... just gotten off lightly. No clamps, no chains, no leather, no late fees, no court martial. He wandered down the hallway, thinking about nothing much except how pretty Tenpou's eyes were when he was cranky. His jacket slid smoothly and evenly against his skin, without catching on anything. If he'd been wearing those clamps, the edges of the jacket would have brushed against them constantly, making those tiny teeth bite into his nipples, shifting the gold chains on his chest.

He rubbed at his skin, trying to wipe away a chilly caress that was only in his imagination.

The hallway opened onto a tiny courtyard with one gnarled tree, one wooden bench, and a round pool reflecting the sky. Kenren wandered over and sat down on the bench, not thinking at all about how careful he would have been with that leather rod inside him, filling him. He'd never felt anything like it before, never been inclined to those pleasures before Tenpou.

Tilting his head back, he watched the leaves outlined against the sky, their edges bright with sunlight. Go about his day as usual, was it? He could do that. He could just sit here at his ease, have a peaceful smoke, and relax utterly in the knowledge that his body wasn't pinched by clamps or stretched by an unfamiliar leather thickness that--

Kenren lit a cigarette and blew a plume of smoke upwards, dirty white overlaying the deep blue. When he leaned back on his hands, his jacket shifted against his nipples. Funny how he never thought about that, wearing this jacket all the time; funny how it had never struck him before that the cool, soft silk lining against his nipples felt--

This courtyard was a really quiet, out-of-the-way place, perfect for lounging around and doing nothing without being spotted either by an annoying subordinate or an annoying superior. Of course, Kenren reflected, Tenpou was both at the same time, superior playing at subordinate. And annoying, couldn't forget annoying.

People didn't see it at first, though. Tenpou could get away with a lot, so quiet that you could be lulled into making the error of forgetting about him until something sparked his temper. Kenren shook his head. He wasn't taken in by those quiet ways and that calm face. Tenpou was a menace, and surely there was something other than Tenpou he could think about, something entirely different and innocuous he could meditate on while he sitting here and enjoying the peace and quiet and feeling slow tingles run up and down his spine, body clenching around an imagined hardness that filled him and--

"Oh, fuck it," Kenren said, standing up and flipping his cigarette into the pond. Peace and quiet were clearly vastly overrated.

He strode off without really thinking about where he was going, and certainly without thinking about how easily and comfortably his body moved, unconstrained and unhampered by any kind of... additions. He was pretty sure he'd bumped into a few people here and there, but he was also pretty sure he'd apologized. All he needed was to move a bit, to clear his head.

When he started to pay attention again, he was outside, near a small grove of trees, and there was only a faint giggle to give him warning before a skinny boy wearing twice his own weight in chains fell on his head.

"Ken nii-chan!" Goku said, delighted. "The view is amazing from up there! I can see everything!"

"Yeah?" Kenren rubbed at the back of his head; one of Goku's chains had clipped him just behind one ear. The ringing sound was kind of pretty, though. "Sounds like the right place for a monkey like you, so how come you fell down?"

Goku grinned up at him, golden eyes guileless and wide. "I saw you and I wanted to say hello! Hey, do you want to come up and look?" He tugged at Kenren's sleeve. "Hey, Ken nii-chan, won't you, huh?"

"Sheesh, you want me up in the top of a tree now?" Kenren dusted some of the bark off Goku's back. All the dirt in heaven somehow ended up somewhere on Goku's person. "Well, all right, then. You go first, brat."

"Yay!" Goku turned, quick as a flash, and started to scramble up the thick trunk again, toes and fingers digging in. Kenren shook his head, sighed, and followed, because if he didn't, the brat would probably offer to help him.

Goku was up there in no time at all, calling breathless encouragement over his shoulder, and Kenren grinned. Did the brat think he'd never climbed a tree before? He clambered up to where Goku was waiting, hanging by one arm and one leg, waving excitedly.

"Don't brain me again," Kenren warned and came up to stand on a thick branch just below, which put his head on the same level as Goku's, or near enough. He looked around and nodded. Goku was right, the view was amazing from up here, and maybe you couldn't really see everything, but from this angle, this particular bit of heaven looked pretty good. The clear sky above was nothing; every day here was repetitively perfect. But the foliage rippled in the wind, hiding and showing palace walls and glimpses of gardens, as if revealing a secret a little bit at a time. "Like a striptease."

"Huh?" Goku swung about to face him. "Striptease? What's that?"

"Nothing you should know about yet." Kenren ruffled the boy's hair, and leaned out of the way when Goku tried to do the same to him. "This is a fine view you've got here." Goku nodded enthusiastically. "Better than helping Konzen with that stack of paperwork, too."

Goku wilted ever so slightly. "I was only trying to make things go faster," he muttered. "Wasn't my fault that..." His voice trailed away; Kenren thought he caught something about caught fire, and glanced hastily at the palace again, but in the absence of smoke and screams, he decided that whatever had happened, it hadn't disturbed the heavenly tranquillity much.

Might have reminded Konzen he was alive, though. Kenren grinned. Too bad he hadn't gotten to see that. "So you came out here to escape his grumpiness?"

"I went to see Ten-chan first," Goku said, with his eyes on the palace, so he might have missed Kenren's slight start, "but he said he was busy." Goku wrinkled his nose. "He said he was waiting for something, and he was laughing."

Laughing. "Laughing?" The bastard was laughing. "Did he say what he was waiting for?" Kenren asked between clenched teeth, not that he really needed to ask.

Goku shook his head, chain swinging back and forth, and Kenren's eyes crossed in an effort not to watch and be reminded of things that had nothing to do with golden-eyed brats and everything to do with a certain field marshal who was back in his office, laughing. Laughing and waiting, and it would serve him right if Kenren never showed up, except, except--

"He had a funny look in his eyes," Goku offered.

"Oh, I bet," Kenren said, and swung out from the branch, hung by his arms for a moment and then dropped straight down, landing in a deep crouch and straightening with a shrug. And he would have done that if he'd been draped in gold chains and clamps everywhere, he'd have done it if he'd been wearing a leather plug that shifted with his every breath and made him feel--

Damn bastard.

A light thud and jingle was Goku landing next to him. "Wow, Ken nii-chan, that was fun!" He laughed delightedly, bouncing on his toes. "Wanna do it again?"

"I gotta go do something," Kenren said, and Goku's face fell. "C'mon, brat, you can have fun anyway, just go play with-- I mean, by yourself. By yourself." Kenren considered. "Or with Nataku." He considered some more. "Or with Konzen. Konzen doesn't play enough."

Goku's face lit up with a wide grin. "Yeah! I'll tell him you said so!" He tore off towards the nearest palace entrance.

Kenren watched him go and shook his head. "Oh, great. That brat really is going to tell Konzen I said so." He tried to imagine Konzen Douji climbing a tree, and burst out laughing. It was almost worth waiting around for, except that Tenpou was waiting for him.

He scrubbed at his hair with one hand and sauntered towards a palace entrance, his strides long and relaxed. His jacket shifted across his shoulders, silk lining brushing, rubbing. That could be ignored; the way his nipples tightened against the cool cloth was nothing. And of course he still moved as he always did, because there wasn't any thick leather secret hidden underneath his clothes, nothing that could be revealed by a slow striptease or by the soft wind that rustled in the leaves, moving them back and forth.

He thought he might have walked into a few more people on the way this time.

Standing outside Tenpou's door, Kenren considered knocking and decided against it. He pushed the door open and stepped inside. Tenpou was standing by his desk, one long finger moving slowly down a long list that scrolled from his hands all the way down to the floor. He looked up and saw Kenren and smiled. "Hello."

Kenren had a number of possible replies on the tip of his tongue, from I hate you to please touch me before I explode. Two long strides took him over to the desk, and he caught Tenpou's face in both hands and kissed him, long and slow and deep, hot as fire. The list fell to the floor, rustling like leaves in the wind, like wind in the leaves, and Tenpou's hands came up and slid inside his jacket, trailing warmth over his bare skin.

When he drew back, he was pleased to see that Tenpou's eyes had gone slightly hazy.

"Well," Kenren said, then cleared the raspiness from his voice and tried again. "Well. I've taken the punishment, now can we move on to the second act?"

Tenpou's hands slid higher, brushing, rubbing. "Of course," he said.

* * *

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