Conjunction

by Talya Firedancer


The curve of the moon hung just beyond the pale of Abe no Seimei's carefully-tended backyard, full and ripe and golden as the roasted sencha that one might sip with a fine afternoon meal. Laughing with delight, Minamoto no Hiromasa lifted one arm as if the tips of his fingers might reach the fullness of the moon. In Seimei's backyard, it seemed to him that anything was possible.

Certainly that feeling had nothing to do with the finely-distilled sake, remnants of which clung to the cup in his other hand and wet his lips yet. When he turned his head, Hiromasa saw a trace of smile upon Seimei's lips, laughing at him from the corner of his eye like the moon. There was a twinkle in Seimei's eye that Hiromasa had never seen at court.

"I thought I could touch the moon," Hiromasa explained, forming each word with over-precision. He lowered his arm, surprised at his own ease. Having anyone see him in such a state should be embarrassing, no?

"You are drunk," Seimei replied with the paternal indulgence one displayed toward a favored child.

"I am not drunk," Hiromasa said, drawing dignity around him like his voluminous robes. He lifted the ceramic cup to wet his lips again, discovered it empty, and cast about for the colorfully-garbed attendant who had last filled his sake cup. It had seemed but a moment ago. "Where is Mitsumushi?"

"Retired for the evening," Seimei said with a quirk of one brow, as if to intimate as should you be. "You shall have to settle for my humble charms instead."

The remark threw Hiromasa into quiet confusion and he remained still as one dumbstruck as Seimei lifted the carafe, a deft twist of his wrist flipping back the fold of his sleeve. Hiromasa's hand remained extended, and so Seimei poured more clear, sweet sake into the cup, carafe chinking once against the rim like a chime struck at midnight. It was very late, and they had drunk a fair amount, yet Seimei's movements remained controlled and graceful.

"Do you think," Hiromasa said, forcing speech from his tongue once more, "there are truly rabbits on the moon?" His eyes turned once more to that celestial body, searching for distraction.

"How should I know?" Seimei replied with aplomb.

Hiromasa laughed, but the sound was uncertain. "That's what I like about you, Seimei. You always have such assurance...even when you don't know the answers. Though I'm surprised to hear you admitting to any gap of knowledge instead of composing a fanciful tale." In describing a circle, Hiromasa's hand spilled a bit of sake. A spate of drops landed on his wrist. Suppressing a curse, he replaced the cup on the tray where Seimei's cup had long been sitting.

"Is that what you like, really?" A cloud had drifted over the moon, and Seimei's golden features were veiled in shadow. Of all the enigmatic tones Hiromasa had heard from the man, this was the most impenetrable.

"I...yes..." Hiromasa faltered, and looked away from the puzzle of his friend's expression to the obscurity of the night sky. "Seimei, look. There is the star." He did not glance back to see if his friend followed the direction of one pointing finger. He remembered a night of music, of longing, and looking up to watch the two intensely-burning pinpoints of light become one. That very day he had met Abe no Seimei for the first time.

"Do you think they will ever separate, and become twain once more?"

Seimei answered him with a question in return. "Do you want them to separate, Hiromasa?"

The wistful query, drawn out like a prolonged note of mourning from his flute, surprised Hiromasa. It was difficult to think of the celebrated onmyouji as a normal person in any respect, with the weaknesses of man.

"Seimei, I" Hiromasa reached out, perhaps for reassurance, or maybe to partake once more of the false courage to be had at the bottom of a sake carafe. He found his wrist caught firmly with long slender fingers and inhaled sharply. "Seimei?"

His wrist was turned in a strong hand and Seimei bent over it, dark eyes fixed on Hiromasa and drawing hairs on his nape into prickling alignment with that single look. Then the onmyouji bent, capturing spilled drops of sake with his lips. When he sat up and released Hiromasa, he wore that smug look that had infuriated so many.

"It would be a shame to waste it," his lips assured Hiromasa. His dark eyes remained upon him, showing Hiromasa the chink in the armor, reminding him of the moment he had bent his head and cried at the prospect of eternal separation.

He had thought he envied Seimei's confidence, but he had never seen this look turned upon his person before. Not by anyone.

It was perhaps the influence of the moon or the thought of courage, the real kind, that caused Hiromasa to shift, scooting across the space between them, all but collapsing in the tricky bundle of twisting robes beneath him and the curve of Seimei's lips hinted at a smirk that never quite made it, quenched perhaps by the look of sheer determination that Hiromasa bent on him.

"This, too, is destiny," Hiromasa murmured, locking arms with Seimei, and closed the final distance before his friend's lips could quirk at such a romantic whimsy expressed aloud. He was not quite surprised when Seimei's lips met him instead with the hunger of one long fasting.

They joined as the stars had until long after the moon had sunk below the line of the horizon, bestowing privacy upon them.



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