springgreen: (gaiden waiting)
[personal profile] springgreen
Spoilers: Nothing really
Disclaimer: Not mine!
Notes: For [livejournal.com profile] emungere, who requested "Five things Kenren has brought Tenpou from the lower world." I finally gave in and admitted that I was actually writing fic and not lists.

Also, I totally cheat and steal off my own fic. Um, I mean... it's a sequel! Yes!

ETA: fixed formatting


1.

The first time Kenren visits the lower world, he brings back shunga and Saikaku for Tenpou because it's expected of him. He has a role to play, one that he usually enjoys, but his usual glee is dampened when he pictures Tenpou's response. Tenpou will simply look at the presents and calmly thank him without even raising an eyebrow in surprise or shock. The worst part is, Kenren knows Tenpou's doing it just to annoy him.

Just for fun, Kenren reads all of the Saikaku, at first to quote a line or two to Tenpou and get a reaction out of him. To his surprise, Kenren actually likes the book. To his even greater surprise, he has to buy two more copies after reading the story on the noble swapping of spit. He laughed so hard that he dropped the thing into his bowl of noodles. One copy is still for Tenpou, but the other is for him to keep.

The shunga is easy. He merely finds the most anatomically-impossible position and bookmarks it with a small poem he dashed off a few days ago.

He can't decide which is better: Tenpou stealing his copy of Saikaku after dropping his own in the bathtub (Kenren suspects it's for the same reason) or Tenpou quoting a line of his own poetry at him.



2.

The second time Kenren visits the lower world, he surreptitiously watches a few very drunk youkai teens attempt to haul a street sign back home. Kenren has never been one to pass up trouble, and so, he stays up a few more nights to see what else may be considered fair game.

He catalogues two more street signs, four stop signs, a movie poster, and, most memorably, a plastic statue of a red-haired man eating a hamburger. Anticipating a trend in the theft of plastic statues, and therefore, the ability to blame his actions on other people, Kenren sneaks off with one under his arm.

More than a few people stare at him while he walks through the corridors to Tenpou's office, but no one quite dares stop him to ask what he's doing. Kenren will never understand Heaven; if he saw a man walking around with the statue of a rather portly, bespectacled man in a white suit under his arm, he would feel compelled to get the story, for a good laugh if nothing else.

After arranging his gift in Tenpou's office, Kenren walks off, whistling to himself. The greasy packet of fried chicken he leaves in the pocket of Tenpou's spare labcoat is merely a bonus.



3.

The third time Kenren visits the lower world, he attempts to be traditional. He drops by Suzhou and Hangzhou to stroll through the gardens and admire West Lake, but he forgets that the lower world has seasons, unlike Heaven. It's too cold to spend much time outside, so he ambles into and out of the many shops selling embroidered silk products instead. While he's amused by the double-sided stitching, he quickly gets bored of the fluffy white cats and fat, glimmering carp stitched everywhere.

He finds himself a tea house and stays there for hours; though he applauds heartily for the tea house singers and the shamisen performances, he ends up savoring the excellent Longjing tea and the famed pork rump the most. The Longjing is cheaper and much more interesting than insipid tapestries, but Kenren regrets not being able to carry the pork rump with him.

He probably could, but he'd end up spilling pork fat over his uniform, and it wouldn't taste that wonderful in Heaven anyway.


4.

The fourth time Kenren visits the lower world, he spends too much money on yakitori and is left with two options. He can either disregard his budget and spend hours placating Konzen and assorted other bureaucrats, or he can attempt to live without the large sashimi dinner he had set his heart on. Given that Konzen's temper is even shorter than usual these days, Kenren goes for the cheap dinner. It's one of his better choices; he discovers the joys of instant ramen.

When he decides to share this wonderful thing with Tenpou, consummate collector of strange objects, he cannot decide which flavor Tenpou would like best. He debates between the original Nissin chicken flavor or a rather bizarre corn and ham version before giving up and buying one of every kind he can get his hands on.

He's right. Tenpou loves both the chicken and the corn-and-ham so much that he mixes them together, to disastrous results.



5.

The fifth time Kenren visits the lower world, he falls in love with it. It's not that he didn't like it before; he enjoys the smoke of barbequed meat wafting down the streets, the harping and bargaining in the night markets, the bright tang of plum wine, and the colors everywhere, so different from the white pallor of Heaven. But nothing surprises him, so he remains merely affectionate.

This time, he wanders into the mountains and finds centuries-old inscriptions of poetry on the cliff walls. He scoffs at the high-flown language and tortured metaphors, shakes his head at the stupidity of short-lived humans eking out immortality in stone and rhyme. He is so annoyed by the repetition that he downs a cup of rice wine every time the moon is mentioned. He is drunk by the time he comes across a poem by Li Bai, and despite the obligatory reference to the moon, Kenren stops and doesn't laugh. It may be because this poet seems to appreciate wine as much as Kenren does, or it may be that the images of the moon, a solitary poet, and good wine somehow remind him of Tenpou.

There's no reason why it should. He's never been drinking with Tenpou under the full moon or ever done anything so sentimental as toasting the moon. But when he makes a rubbing of the poem, the wet ink on paper resembles Tenpou's stained lab coat, and he thinks Tenpou would like that the easily torn copy resides in Heaven while hewn rock remains on earth.

He knows then that he's loved this world and its imperfections and contradictions all along. He only needed someone to show it to.



6.

The last time Kenren travels to the lower world, he is no longer a visitor. Execution and reincarnation are only hours away; he feels he should spend the time remembering his long life in Heaven. He finds he has little impression of the politics and the work, of the centuries he watched pass by.

The moments he treasures are small ones: watching Konzen squeeze mayonnaise into his instant noodles and making disgusted noises; untangling Goku's knots of hair from the plastic statue's eyeglasses while Goku perches on the statue, wailing for Konzen; stealing Tenpou's yakitori and shunga and berating him for keeping such obscene material around.

He has very few sorrows and even fewer regrets. Once upon a time, he meant to bring back sakura from the lower world as a gift for Tenpou, but the flowers wilted into a brown, wrinkly mess, shedding petals and stamens in his pockets. He's glad he never did succeed; it would have been cliched and depressing, and he likes plum blossoms and what they stand for better anyhow.

There's no way to bring anything back to Tenpou now, so Kenren leans back, closes his eyes, and hopes that Tenpou's future incarnations love the lower world anyway. He's not worried about himself; he's been looking forward to the change for longer than he's known.
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