May We Be Truly Thankful

Shuuei has an encounter with Seiran, one evening and comes away with a new appreciation of the Emperor he has. Drama, I-4

Character(s): Ran Shuuei, Shi Seiran

Shuuei was on his last round for the night, making sure his imperial charge was in his room, alone, asleep, and not gallivanting off into the night to pick peonies for Shuurei or anything equally foolish, when he spotted the shadow lingering under the trees that shaded the pavilion in summer.

The shadow had silver hair.

Shuuei did his best to sneak up on Seiran and was mildly disappointed when the man didn’t even start at Shuuei’s voice breathing in his ear. “Watching over both of them, are you?”

Seiran didn’t look around. Nor did he show any signs that he’d been up since before dawn, following Shuurei, and had probably just jogged back from Kou Shouka’s residence after seeing her home. “It’s my duty,” he answered, calmly.

Shuuei chuckled. “And here I thought it was mine, at least where the Emperor is concerned.”

“Is it?” Seiran murmured, turning his head at last to regard Shuuei. In the half light his eyes were far less soft than they were by day. They gleamed, sharp and piercing. Shuuei straightened quickly.

“Of course it is.” And why did he sound as though he was acknowledging an order?

“For a son of the Ran clan?” Seiran tipped his head to the side. “It was an unusual involvement in politics, wasn’t it, for you to accept his flower? I suppose joining the military reconciled your bothers to you coming to the capital. At least long enough for you to get your foot in the door.” It was Seiran’s turn to lean against the tree, crossing his arms. “A Ran dancing the dance of the Court. Who could have predicted?” Those gleaming eyes narrowed. “Probably not even Ryuuki.”

The weight of Shuuei’s armor pressed over his shoulders, and it still felt like he was being stripped naked. And not in a pleasant way. His voice was low as he answered. “I did accept his flower, though. And I will serve him.”

Seiran’s smile was fierce, completely at odds with the formal courtesy of his words. “I’m sure you will serve him very well, Ran-shogun.” His steps were absolutely silent as he slipped away through the trees, and Shuuei stood for a long time, looking after him.

When Shuuei got up the next day, he lit an extra stick of incense for his ancestors’ spirits.

“For the fact that Ryuuki is my Emperor, and not Seien,” he murmured. “Deeply thankful. Truly.”

He did rather hope it wasn’t really his grandfather’s voice he heard in the back of his head snorting, It’s your own damn fault for getting involved, boy!

He knew that. And he’d been prepared, really he had. It just seemed prudent to show his gratitude that he was serving a sweet and sometimes silly, though quite intelligent, boy, instead of facing those cool, assessing eyes he’d seen last night.

Really, quite thankful.


A/N: Peony is for shyness, and Ryuuki giving it to Shuurei would be as unsuitable as all of his extravagant presents to her are.