title: Plum Wine
fandom: Tale of Saiunkoku
characters/pairings: Houju/Reishin, Houju/Kouyuu
rating: G
warnings: none
summary: Reishin bursts into Houju's room, but he's unwelcome.
notes: this is 100% cairnsy's fault. 100%!!!!! every word! *whimpers*

It was Kou Reishin's habit to announce himself, particularly when he was entering Houju's chamber, particularly when he was entering said bedchamber past the normal visiting hours, which he did with enough regularity for Houju to decide to install locks on all entrances to his much violated bedchamber. Even though Reishin was more than able to manage to get past the locks, the noise he made while complaining about fussy accountants who clearly had perverse pastimes afforded Houju the time he needed to prepare himself for Reishin's invasion.

Time he sometimes especially needed...

He was still tying off his robe when Reishin burst in. "Really, your lack of trust in your own staff is worrisome, Houju!" Reishin huffed, putting his fists on his hips.

Houju rolled his eyes, and tossed his hair over his shoulder. "My staff never gives me a moment's trouble. My so-called friends, on the other hand..."

"You don't have any friends, you cursed curmudgeon." Reishin snapped huffily. "You should be more grateful for my indulgences. I have a real problem, you know! Doesn't it even occur to you to greet me properly and ask me for the reason for my visit?" Reishin leaned down, tapping his fan against his upper lip, narrowing his eyes. "Were you asleep? Your hair always looks especially pretty when you've been... sleeping on it."

Houju stood up huffily, pushing Reishin back. "I was in bed. What do you think I was doing?" That only caused Reishin to raise his fan a few millimeters, and narrow his eyes further. Houju turned his back to him and went to drape himself on the low chaise across the room.

"So, Reishin. To what do I owe this dubious honor?" Houju sighed, managing to sound almost bored enough to fall asleep right there.

Reishin sniffed regally, gave Houju's bed a scathing look, and flounced over to his friend, plopping himself down on the chaise, pushing Houju's legs out of his way. "It's that damned Ran boy! Just back from a military tour, and already causing me trouble! He's got my Kouyuu out, doing god knows what, in god know which seedy bar or brothel!"

Houju discreetly coughed into his sleeve, and then looked away, his voluminous hair providing ample curtain to hide his abnormally beautiful face. "Can you be sure he's doing something untoward? Maybe the two are out enjoying wholesome activities?"

"It's past ten!" Reishin scathingly replied. "And since when has anyone from the Ran clan enjoyed wholesome activities? Plotting suitably wretched deaths for their adversaries is their idea of family fun." Reishin fanned himself rapidly, tapping the back of Houju's chaise in the most annoying manner he possibly could.

"You say that as if it were a bad thing," Houju said in a lofty voice. "Perhaps you're jealous because they're better at it than you are?" he suggested, just to be as irksome as Reishin was being.

"No one is better at it than I am," Reishin grouched. "And we're off topic! Kouyuu is being debauched at that Ran boy's persuasion as we speak, and you act as if nothing is going on!"

"Kouyuu is not a child, Reishin," Houju quickly snapped back. "What he does... and with whom... is his choice, as it was your choice when you were his age."

"When I was his age, I was..."

Houju, however, cut him off. "You cannot think that he would ever forget his position, as you can never forget yours." Reishin's fan stopped, and his shoulders slumped just a bit. It was cruel, since Houju knew how Reishin felt about his obligations, but it was the quickest way to shut Reishin up. "You have no proof of what Kouyuu is doing. Only that he is not where you expect him to be. As far as you know, he shut himself up in the archives again for another night of study. In fact... you should be grateful if he is getting out, and that he has a friend. Hasn't his problem normally been that he spends too much time alone? You can't now, then, complain because he's socializing."

"But I want to!" Reishin whined. "Think about his purity!"

"Reishin," Houju sighed. "What would you normally think of a boy of Kouyuu's age who was a virgin?"

Reishin completely wilted. "But... he's mine. I haven't approved of anyone touching him!"

Houju stood up, irritated. "Tell that to your son. When he comes home to you. On his own. If you can, but I'd highly recommend realizing that you can't. You're lucky. He's a good boy. And for some reason, despite his brilliance, he idolizes you. So, consider carefully how much you really want to spoil that with your accusations and judgments."

"You just don't understand," Reishin pouted, positively slouching. "He's my son."

"And you're proud of him, correct? You trust him? Let him make his own choices," Houju urged.

"You're just jealous of me, as always, and my son and family," Reishin childishly lashed out.

However, he stepped over their line, and he knew it; Houju could tell by his guilty and angry body language. "Get out."

"Maybe I can stay with y-" Reishin started, but Houju was already striding to the door, which he flung open.

"Get out," he said, just as flatly as the first time, but Reishin knew that tone, of course. Without argument, he got up and slouched over.

"I hate it when you get into one of your moods! Worse than a woman... and just when I need you! I wish Yuushun had been the one to stay, and you had been the one sent to Sa Province," he spat out.

"I'm glad to spare Yuushun the added pain of your friendship," Houju spat out as he closed the door behind Reishin.

He counted to twenty, listening carefully for Reishin's retreating steps. Things had ended unpleasantly, so Reishin was walking away fast. Good.

"He's gone," he said quietly.

Panting, Kouyuu emerged from under the bed. Houju's lips quirked in a smile; Kouyuu was so cute like that, his hair messed up, panting, naked...

Well, perhaps cute wasn't exactly the perfect word...

"I'm sorry," Kouyuu gasped out, turning red. He looked away, balling his hands into fists. "That was my fault. Because of me..."

"That was because your father is an idiot," Houju replied flatly. He went to sit on the bed, primly arranging his robe over his legs, and then he patted Kouyuu's hair. "Don't worry. Half of our conversations end that way." And the other half... well. "I'm sorry you had to hear that, however."

"It's fine," Kouyuu smiled sheepishly. "I suppose in a way I could interpret that as Reishin-sama caring for me."

It was absolutely heartbreaking, and yet, in this position, Houju had invalidated his own ability to assure Kouyuu in Reishin's place. "You should warn your friend, Ran whatever. He's earned Reishin's esteem, after all."

"We're not friends!" Kouyuu replied quickly, but he looked abashed as he said it. "Kou... san... Er..." Kouyuu blushed deeply, looking rather more adorable than normal, although Houju had given Kouyuu permission to use his name in this position. "Er. When Reishin-sama said... asked to... that is to say, are you and he...?"

"Kouyuu," Houju sighed, wrapping his arms around himself. "Don't. I think we both know that you consented to share my bed because I am sleeping with your father."

Kouyuu looked away. "And you had your own reasons for seducing me, mm? Well, it's fine. Like you said, I'd be pretty pathetic if I were still a virgin at this point in my life..."

"Kouyuu," Houju said gently. He put his hand on the lad's chin, and turned his face to look in his eyes. "Kouyuu. There are a limited number of people I can look at like this. I cherish each and every one of them. I would not knowingly do anything to hurt you."

Kouyuu slowly started to smile. "We should... stop this, maybe?"

Houju pulled his hand away reluctantly. "Perhaps." Of course, it wasn't that he truly wanted to break things off. And... selfishly, he had entertained delighted fantasies of bragging about his conquest to Reishin... though, he did like having his head attached to his body, so it might have been for the best. "This should only be a one-time thing, I suppose."

Kouyuu gave him an odd look. "Er. Kou-san. This is already our fifth time..."

"That's not really the point," Houju dismissed. He ran his fingers through Kouyuu's coarse hair. "I've enjoyed this time with you, Kouyuu."

Kouyuu smiled, looking beautiful for a moment, looking his age, instead of an old scholar trapped in the body of a young man. Then, Kouyuu's eyes widened, and he leaned up on Houju's lap. "Ah! I can still, er, spend the night, right?"

Houju nearly laughed. "I'd be offended if you left."

Kouyuu grinned shyly, and climbed up to sit next to Houju on the bed, his hands snaking out to start to untie Houju's robe. "Thank you. Houju-san."

He touched Kouyuu's chin, and very slowly pulled him in for a kiss. Even if the lad insisted that he shouldn't be a virgin anymore, he was as sweet and innocent as one. Just as well, given that his father was who he was.

It was a pity, in many ways, but at least having this secret knowledge of Kouyuu would make associating with Reishin just that much more tolerable.