jedishampoo: (Saiyuki: Bun-Bun Wuv)
[personal profile] jedishampoo
Title: The Art of Status Quo
Author:
jedishampoo
Rating: PG
Pairing: Tenpou/Konzen
Summary: Konzen knows it’s easier to really not know.
Warnings: None
Author's notes: Short ficlet written for [personal profile] whymzycal's prompt "bibliophile" in the [community profile] valentine_smut exchange. Thank you for the prompts, to my betas and to the Merciful Goddess for her work on the exchange!

The Art of Status Quo

Sometimes Konzen even read the papers he stamped. Well, perhaps skimmed might be a better word for what he did. Either way, it seemed impossible that anyone had a life so dreary that they could have actually written these dry survey reports and exhaustive quartermaster's requisitions--

Line item 6522.8: 542 silver-plated reinforced zippers, 75.2 cm in length

--why 542? Konzen wondered. Why not 541, or 543? Or even a nice, even number like 500 or 600 or even 1000? They could probably get them for a good bulk price at 1000.

Not that it mattered. Konzen squared up the paper, properly parallel to the far edge of his desk. He brushed his finger across a damp sponge, then held the finger aloft. Satisfied that there were no drafts, he picked up his chop and held it over the paper, hovering in the space exactly half a centimeter from both the top and right edges of the page, and bam! He set his mark up on the page. It was a decent mark, not his best.

That page went on top of the previous page in the "Out" pile; another requisition, someone there had been asking for some really stupid stuff. Konzen hadn't cared enough to deny the request a further review, but thought maybe he'd ask Tenpou about it next time he saw him.

The next paper was another survey report: flora and fauna of Sector Eighty-Four, north-northwest of the gate. Konzen swiped his finger across his sponge.

"Ah! I see you read that book I brought you a little while back," said a mild voice.

That was a coincidence. Konzen didn't believe in non-coincidences, even in Heaven. He held his finger out for a few extra seconds to signal for quiet, then positioned the paper and the chop above it. Bam!

"No, I didn't. Well, at least not all the way through," Konzen said, looking up at Tenpou, who was lab-coated and slouched in the doorway, wearing a vague grin around his cigarette. His hair was ruffled like a bird’s nest, like he hadn’t washed it in days. "That book is for beginners. Rubes."

Tenpou inhaled and then pulled the cigarette from his mouth with two slender fingers. He dropped the butt somewhere out of sight, presumably -- hopefully -- in the urn outside the door. "Well, I can see if ‘The Art of Order: Creating Precise Beauty in Everyday Things’ has an advanced edition, and loan you that instead."

"No. Being a dilettante suits me fine," Konzen said. He paused a moment or two, and then forced out, "Thank you."

Tenpou's vague grin made a return appearance. "I also know where other books may be found. We've known each other a long time and yet I'm still not sure of your taste. I hate to pry ..."

Konzen merely snorted and waved Tenpou in. To prove that he hadn't been trying to create any type of order, or hadn't been so bored that he'd try any old fucking useless time-waster, he rocked back in his chair and hauled his feet up onto his desk. His feet would not contribute a thing to Precise Beauty, because he needed to trim his toenails.

Tenpou perched his ass on the edge of the desk, completing its disarray. "So. How's work?"

"Stupid. How's yours?"

Tenpou took a moment to straighten his glasses upon his nose before answering. "Stupid. Even alarming, sometimes. Ah hah hah."

"Oh," Konzen said. Tenpou was peering at him over the rims of his glasses, likely waiting for Konzen to ask the question. When he didn't, Tenpou dropped his gaze to Konzen's toes. Konzen felt his cheeks warm and cleared his throat. "I've started getting Army requisitions along with the regular asinine garbage they send my way. Seems there are a lot of them and not enough people to look 'em over."

"Yes, the Army has been very busy."

Konzen still didn't ask how or why, because he didn't give a shit. He did have that other question he'd coincidentally thought about asking, however. "Yeah. So why does the Eastern Army need six hundred and eighty-five boxes of condoms? Extra-large, unlubricated?"

Tenpou looked back up at Konzen and waggled his eyebrows. Konzen felt the warmth in his cheeks bloom into an outright and visible blush. Speaking of knowing each other a long time ...

Tenpou didn't pursue the past, however. He did lean further onto the desk, sinking his elbow into the "In" pile and crinkling it past Artistic Order.

"There are lots of uses for condoms in field kits, besides the obvious. They're small and lightweight, but can be filled with water, for example. Or used to collect and store kindling and keep it dry. Or they can be placed on the muzzles of firearms to keep the rain out of the barrels in bad weather--"

Konzen waved for Tenpou to stop. "I get it. Sorry I asked."

Tenpou's gaze was steady and clear, free from its habitual air of distraction or cleverness. "You shouldn't be. Trivia is fascinating."

Konzen had never thought so. He resisted the urge to reach out and comb Tenpou's hair into place. For all the Army were supposed to be so disciplined, they could appear very rough and ready. It was all that time spent Down Below ... where things were unpredictable and likely … well, alarming.

"So you've been in rain, right? What's it like?" Konzen asked.

"It's wet."

Konzen did finger-flick Tenpou in the head for that. "Sounds annoying."

"I like it. It makes coming inside to warm, dry places that much better."

"Hmm," Konzen said, examining his own ink-stained hands as he clasped them in his lap, trying to imagine the comparison. It was difficult without any frame of reference. He supposed he was better off not knowing, really.

He heard the un-crinkling of papers as Tenpou straightened up, and then felt the desk shift just a little as he stood. Tenpou's joints crackled as he stretched his arms over his head. "I suppose I should let you get back to work. And I have a new general coming soon, after all."

"Do you?" Konzen said. He looked up at the ceiling and away from Tenpou; Tenpou, who had been his friend a long time and who amused him and unsettled him by offering things that would probably prove bothersome, were they to be accepted. Konzen was too old for that shit.

"Hmm. I'd have thought you might have seen that, but perhaps someone else processed those papers," Tenpou mused in a voice that was just too bland.

"... Probably," Konzen mumbled.

"Goodbye! I'll get my book later," Tenpou said, and then he clopped out.

Konzen looked up into the empty space where Tenpou no longer was. That space took the room out of Perfect Balance, and Konzen wondered what he might fill it with.

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