Stargazing with K'ung Fu-Tzu
By: Chaos and Raven

It was still summer, freak rainstorms notwithstanding. The sun had set hours ago and the air was still thick with humidity. It left a miserable, sticky film across everything. The members of Beck were crammed along the edge of the tree line in two tents, although their area had exploded outward into the surrounding woods.

They could still hear the last bands playing from across the park. There would probably be music going all night. Chiba had brought a few friends over earlier in the evening and there had been beer. An awful lot of beer. Taira somehow managed to get one of the tents to himself for the time being and was sprawled out across the sleeping bags enjoying the tinny echo of music through the valley.

Musicfest was a blissful time of year for the rock world and they were all certainly taking advantage of that.

Taira rolled his last unopened bottle across his bare stomach, soaking up the chill. Maybe once it quieted down some, he'd go down to sit in the stream and really cool down but for now he was content to let the rumble of voices and the sounds of nature wash over him in his solitude.

With a practiced flip of his car keys, he uncapped his beer and took a deep swallow. Cheap beer on a hot summer night. The only way his mood could possibly improve was if he managed to hotbox the tent or if someone offered to suck him clean. Well, it was still early, he thought with a lazy smile, neither of those things was entirely out of his reach.

There was movement and laughter outside the tent. If he focused, he could probably hear what they were saying. Someone tugged the zipper open, and Taira slit his eyes wide enough to see Chiba poke his head though the door-flap.

"Oho! This is where you disappeared to, eh?" Chiba said, opening the tent to slide through.

Taira held up one bare foot that blocked the area near Chiba's groin and said, "Access denied," with a wide grin. "Appropriate bribes include weed and sex. Which one are you bringing me?"

Chiba grinned back and extracted a cigarette from behind one ear. "Courtesy of Ryuusuke 'Excellent' Minami who is, as we speak, getting the little ones nicely toasted."

Taira relaxed with a chuckle, allowing Chiba into the tent. "He's been waiting to do that since he and Koyuki met."

"Pretty much," Chiba agreed. "That or nail him." He sat down next to Taira and handed over the joint.

"Ryuusuke's so straight it hurts," Taira said disdainfully. "He's going to break that boy's heart and fuck up the band if he doesn't watch it."

Chiba made an impatient noise -- far more interested in getting stoned than discussing Ryuusuke -- and Taira obliged him, the lighter flaring bright in the darkness. He inhaled, savoring the taste of smoke on his tongue and they passed it back and forth in silence. There was a burst of laughter from outside the tent. Inside, a haze of smoke clung to the air. Taira waved Chiba away when he offered the joint back once more and left him to extinguish the remainder for later.

"Summertime," Chiba sang under his breath, "and the livin's easy..."

Taira finished the last swallow of his beer and shifted down to lay flat on the blankets. This was a place time could stop and he'd be okay with that. He was happy to be alive, happy to be with his friends, just happy in general.

He heard Chiba move next to him, likely lying down as well, but didn't bother to open his eyes to see. Nothing was quite real. He had that slightly buzzed feeling of being just outside his own body. Just shifted two inches to the left.

"I don't think I could possibly be more in love with everything than I am right now," Chiba said, sounding shockingly sober. There was no way he was.

Taira turned his head and opened his eyes to meet Chiba's. They were deep and jet black in the shadows, meeting his gaze without hesitation. "I'm glad," Taira said. "I was worried for a while that Ryuusuke had fucked everything up."

"Sometimes, because he's such an absolute jerkoff asshat, it's hard to remember that fucker is fragile too," Chiba said disgustedly.

Taira laughed and then did it again to watch everything haze out when his eyes crinkled. "You think he's fragile?"

"Like a china doll," Chiba affirmed. "He'd be so lost without us. I can't believe you buy in to his machismo bullshit."

Taira rolled onto his stomach. He glared halfheartedly at Chiba but it was just too much effort to hold himself upright. "And you're so much better?" He challenged, pinching Chiba hard while he was at it.

"Hey, fuck off! I'm manly enough that I'm not embarrassed to cry in public. You already know..." He trailed off. "You know how I feel about the fucking band, okay? Ryuusuke likes to pretend that it doesn't matter and then he pulls this shit and gambles with our lives. I fucking hate him, but I love him too, okay?" Chiba gave Taira a sharp look, as though daring him to disagree.

Taira merely smiled; warmth that had nothing to do with the shitty weather coursing through his veins. "The master said, he who rules by moral force is like the pole-star, which remains in its place while all lesser stars do homage to it," he quoted softly.

"I ain't no fucking 'lesser star'!" Chiba growled. Retorting with, "The master said, I do not see what use a man can be put to, whose word cannot be trusted. How can a wagon be made to go if it has no yoke-bar or a carriage, if it has no collar-bar?"

This was why he loved Chiba. People saw Chiba as a punk, an unpredictable element. He wasn't nearly so two-dimensional. Not even the most beautifully cut diamonds had as many facets. He was a fractal, with millions and billions of iterations. No two-bit punk could argue like this.

"The master said, a gentleman can see a problem from all sides without bias. The small man is biased and can see a question only from one side," Taira replied serenely. He settled comfortably back into the sleeping bags, resting his head in one palm so that he could better watch Chiba's expressions. Their legs entwined, fighting for a brief moment for comfort.

Chiba, never one to disappoint, flipped Taira off as he contemplated his reply. "The master said, the good man does not grieve that other people do not recognize his merits. His only anxiety is that he should fail to recognize theirs." He stuck out his tongue for good measure. Taira's lighter sat on the pillow still, and Chiba grabbed it. The flame lit his face for a moment, smoke curling around his head.

"The master said, he who sets to work upon a different strand destroys the whole fabric."

"Fuck off.," Chiba said, though without venom since he was laughing, too.

Taira loved that sound. He wanted to wrap himself in Chiba's joy and wallow forever. He didn't, of course, but the thought was there, pressing at his subconscious.

Chiba gestured with the cherry red glow of the joint, pointing it at Taira. "Last one, okay? I'm not supposed to think in the summer. Here goes. The master said, Yu shall I teach you what knowledge is? When you know a thing, to recognize you know it, and then when you do not know a thing, to recognize that you do not know it. That is knowledge." He took a deep drag, making it into a thoughtful pause before exhaling his cloud of smoke. "And I," Chiba declared, gesturing again, "know fuck all about Ryuusuke."

Taira offered a golf clap of polite appreciation, joining in the laughter that swelled from outside. It was nice that they were all laughing, even separate from each other. They mellowed into silence again. Chiba's eyes closed thoughtfully as if he too were attempting to soak up the atmosphere.

Taira turned his attention to the smoldering end of their joint, still dangling from Chiba's hand. "Hey, save me some of that, you asshole!" He grabbed at Chiba's wrist but it was really too late. There wasn't enough left to squeeze between his fingertips and Chiba looked remarkably unrepentant.

"Shithead," Taira groused. What rotten luck. He'd hoped for at least another drag from it.

Chiba's grin was lazy as he cupped Taira's cheek, rolling over and mashing their mouths together. It took a second before Taira could decide if he ought to be kneeing Chiba or not. When he did realize what was happening he opened his mouth, sucking in the last bits of smoke from Chiba's lungs. Shotgunning was such a strangely intimate thing to do. His mouth felt funny. Chapped, maybe. He quite calmly exhaled into Chiba's face and punched him on the shoulder.

"You're such a dickwad," Chiba told him. "I didn't have to share, you know."

Taira ignored him, licking his lips. Chiba's eyes were wide and black. His face was close enough that all it took was Taira raising his head five or six inches and their mouths collided again.

Chiba tensed initially, probably as surprised as Taira had been, but melted onto Taira until all their contours fit together. There was really nothing better than being a little wasted and making out with cute boys. And if Chiba happened to be one of Taira's favorite cute boys? So much the better.

Somewhere along the way, Taira's fingers had gotten tangled in Chiba's hair. Chiba was petting his face as they kissed and kept using his thumb to push Taira's mouth open a bit. Taira wanted to bite it. Wanted to suck each of Chiba's fingers into his mouth but then Chiba rocked their hips together, so Taira forgot all about that.

He was lightheaded, still riding high. Drunk and stoned. His eyes wouldn't focus but they were closed anyway, so it didn't matter. Chiba's hands were smooth on his skin, absent of the many calluses that Taira had on his own. There was a thigh pressed between his legs and Taira rutted against it. Shameless. Wanting.

Chiba muttered obscenities into Taira's neck. Crude fingers curled around Taira's ribs, sliding across his damp skin to briefly tease his nipples. He couldn't think, could barely breathe with the lightshow of pleasure exploding behind his eyelids. They shared jagged breaths, lips touching at one corner, and Taira moaned with each swell and press of their hips.

This was every teenaged fantasy Taira ever had multiplied a thousand fold. Chiba's voice was raspy and low, completely opposite from the way Taira heard him every day. He whispered words that skipped Taira's brain and went straight to his cock. And when Taira came, Chiba was there to drink down his cries.

Outside in the sticky summer heat, the band continued to play.