“Radheya,” a voice whispered in his ear; someone’s breath fanned his cheeks. Someone nibbled his earlobe.
“Vasusena” A hand skimmed his body with a touch as light as a feather.
He woke, feeling disoriented, and as the last vestiges of sleep cleared, he sighed softly.
A dream after all.
His hand touched his ear. It still tingled from a familiar voice and touch.
He lay down, closed his eyes.
Someone leaned over him, dark face flushed in passion.
Butterfly kisses down his neck, his collar bone, his chest, a nip here and there and a mouth moving lower…
He opened his eyes and thought he could see the flash of a yellow robe just beyond the corner of his eyes.
He sighed and turned on to one side, closing his eyes in a vain attempt to recapture sleep. The night was still young and more than six hours remained for sunrise.
He was drained by all that had happened and wished to sleep.
He did not know when it was he slipped into a deep, dreamless sleep.
He woke groggy and disoriented, wondering what it was that woke him. A warm body pressed against his from behind and he stiffened.
“Relax,” murmured the drowsy voice of someone whose dreams filled his nights.
He relaxed allowing himself to be pulled into the circle of his arms.
The steady breathing of Krishna lulled him back to sleep. But it was to be a short-lived sleep. He was woken by lips brushing against the nape of his neck, a nip at his shoulder and earlobe.
He turned around to see a wide awake Krishna grinning mischievously. He was almost nose to nose with him.
“You seem determined not to let me sleep.”
“Do you need sleep that badly?”
“That’s beside the point.” He paused. “What are you doing here anyway?”
“I heard you dreaming of me,” said Krishna with a perfectly straight face.
Vasusena blushed in spite of himself. “Even my dreams are not private?”
Krishna seemed to ponder over it. “Since they were about me, I consider them as much mine as yours.”
“That’s a nice logic!” He frowned. “But what were you doing?”
“What did it look like I was doing?”
Vasusena considered for a moment. “It looked like you were attempting to seduce me.”
“I was trying to make your dream come true and for that I am called a seducer?” Krishna said in an injured tone.
Vasusena lifted an eyebrow in amused question but made no answer.
“So,” Krishna murmured. “Was I succeeding?”
Vasusena laughed softly. “Not satisfied with all the conquests you made?”
Krishna shook his head. “I do not make conquests. It is I who is the conquered one.”
Vasusena sighed. “I hardly think that is true in my case.”
“Yes, you are right. But I can still try.”
“And what difference does it make?” Asked Vasusena, his voice quiet. “My loyalty is still with Suyodhana and yours with his cousins.”
“They are my cousins too,” replied Krishna. “And you do not believe that this peace between the cousins is permanent?”
“No,” Krishna agreed. “It is a volcano waiting to erupt.”
“And when it does, we’ll be on opposite sides. Nothing in this world can change that.”
Krishna’s expression was inscrutable, though the smile still lingered.
“What happened today at the Rajasuya was only a prelude of things to come, isn’t it?” Asked Vasusena.
“That action was mine,” reminded Krishna.
“You are their dearest friend and staunchest ally. Your actions at this yajna will reflect more on them than on you.”
“You mean your friend will judge them based on my actions.” There was an edge to Krishna’s tone.
Vasusena rose and walked to the window. He stood gazing out into the night. The night was velvety dark, with pale moonlight turning the landscape colourless.
“Suyodhana is only human.” Said he finally. “And you can’t fault him for judging his enemies.”
“And does that mean you should always encourage in his enmity and his scheming against them?”
“As his friend,” said Vasusena stiffly, “his happiness is important to me. And it is my duty to help him against his enemies.”
Krishna snorted as he too rose and went to stand near Vasusena. “Your duty,” said he, his tone intense, “is to direct him to the right path.”
“And what is the right path?” Asked Vasusena, not turning. “One man’s path may seem right to some and wrong to someone else. And every man walks the path they feel to be right. And to enemies, all paths walked by enemy may seem wrong.”
“How nice to be able to find justifications for everything!” Krishna’s voice was sarcastic. “But not all paths are right. Some can lead to destruction too.”
Vasusena shrugged. “Nothing can be certain. And whatever path he walks, I will walk it with him.”
“Admirable loyalty,” Krishna’s voice was dry.
“You think you are the only one capable of loyalty?” Vasusena asked, an edge to his voice.
Krishna stared at him for one long moment and then strode to the door. He turned at the door. “Not everything is about loyalty.” Said he, his voice even. “There’s a thing called right too. And no matter how much you justify yourself, the day will come when your friend will reach the point of no return. And on that day, do not forget your own culpability!”
He opened the door and went out, slamming it behind him. The slam echoed in the still night.