Kim Eunwoo rises from the gung bedding, and the comforter slips off his shoulders. The cold spring breezes rustle against his white sleeves and his rosy nose. He sneezes and recalls that he has been here before. No, not as in yesterday or yesteryear. Before as in the life before his… Maybe.
He removes the comforter to get up even though only the night dwellers have the amenity to make any noises. Then he looks down at his body and limbs…
This body is odd. Eunwoo did not spend eight hours a week at the gym or stick to a no added fat diet for years to look scrawny and lifeless. He had been working toward a goal and finally tried dating, but all his hard work disappeared in the blink of an eye.
What happened to me? He ponders profusely but even pinching the bridge of his nose and scratching the back of his head are useless. How long has it been since I was in a coma for my hair to grow this long?
But when Eunwoo grabs his face, it is quite clear if not for the few awful patches. He sneers in his heart believing that either his family members or the nurses did a horrible job.
At last, he gets up and makes his gung bedding, planning to return soon. His stomach rumbles, so he looks for the kitchen or at least the canteen. And as soon as he opens the screen doors, he is met with utter darkness. He doesn't ever recall nighttime being so dark in Seoul. Therefore, he can only conclude that his family must've sent him to some rural place to recuperate.
Although all this time, he is not aware of what placed him in a coma in the first place. Yet an accident of some sort is his only potential explanation, so he has been concluding in that route.
He placed a hand against the building to guide his path. A few feet away, he notices a warm light flickering and charcoal cracking. He pulls the door open since there isn't a lock.
“Your Highness!” A young man by the clay stove falls back and reaches inside his sleeve for a few bronze coins. “This is all this subject made yesterday. Please take it.”
After a few odd looks back and forth between the two, Eunwoo shakes his head, “I'm just a person like you. I can't take your hard-earned money, but I'd like to ask for some food.”
“Food?” The young man looks over his shoulder and bites his lower lip but gives up his meal anyway. “Please enjoy, Your Highness.”
“If this is your meal, then I feel awful eating all of it. Why don't we share? Is there another pair of chopsticks and a spoon?” Eunwoo sits in front of the young man with the tray of food between them.
The young man shakes his head, “This subject is not hungry. Please enjoy the meal.”
Eunwoo does feel awful for taking this young man's meal, but he is extremely hungry. His body is now scrawny and unbearable to look at and live in. When he notices the young man's bulging stomach, he doesn't feel as bad about eating the meal. The food is delicious and does not have any added fat. Eunwoo is pleased.
When Eunwoo is mostly full, he observes the young man a little more and regrets that he ate everything. Although the young man's stomach is bulging, his arms, legs, and face are sullen and haggard. The light in this young man's eyes faded like he had been living in hell.
“Why do you call me, ‘Your Highness’? I'm just an average young man who used to make a decent paycheck. My parents are average people as well.”
The young man glares at Eunwoo and flinches backward until he is against the wall which is only a few inches away since it's a small kitchen. He grabs his arms and shivers a little, “Please don't make fun of this subject, Your Highness… If Your Highness has eaten your fill, Your Highness must rest your body. It won't be morning for a few more hours.”
Eunwoo narrows his eyes thinking that this young man is frightened by his mere presence. He has never bullied anyone in his life before. The more he observes this young man’s rejection, he notices how beautiful this young man is and how feverish his face looks.
“Are you sick?”
The young man quickly glances at him with big teary eyes and shakes his head, “Your Highness must be seeing things. This subject is healthy.”
“Why are you lying about it? You're shivering like a bunny in ice water. Your face is so flushed, it may as well bleed! If you don't care about it now, it'll get worse later,” Eunwoo gets up and gestures for the young man to follow him back to the room.
“This subject is healthy, Your Highness. And if this subject is sick, Your Highness should be as far away as possible from this subject.”
“Why are you so stubborn?” Eunwoo steps forward and pulls the young man up. He feels the heat radiating off the young man and is more convinced that this person is more ill than he thought.
Tears flow from the corners of the young man's eyes as he begs Eunwoo to let him go. Usually, Eunwoo isn't the type of person to force himself on someone else. However, this young man has fed him and is not able to make proper decisions due to his abnormal fever. Eunwoo wraps his right arm around the young man's shoulders and his left arm around the knees and carries the young man back to the other room.
“You are sick, you should be obedient,” Eunwoo unconsciously mumbles as he places the young man on the gung bedding. He reaches a hand to feel the young man’s forehead, “I don't know how you're still sober.”
Eunwoo runs back to the kitchen and prepares a bowl of cold water but he couldn't find a towel or obscure cloth. He returns with the bowl and searches through the drawers for a cloth.
“Your Highness shouldn't worry about this subject. This subject is fine,” the young man whispers the almost inaudible sentences.
“If I am royalty and you're a subject of my kingdom, then you'll have to listen to me. Stay in bed and get well soon,” Eunwoo finds a random cloth and begins to wipe the young man’s body after wetting it.
The young man averts his eyes, noticing that it's his underwear that is being used.
However, Eunwoo has not realized that fact yet because he is too busy sighing in his heart. If only he had known that this person is sick, he wouldn't have eaten everything. The guilt is poisoning his stomach.
After wiping the young man’s face and left arm, Eunwoo reaches for the right arm and immediately recognizes the long and pink scar from the elbow to the little finger. He was the one who gave this person this scar… This person is his male wife. He is Kim Eunwoo, the Third Prince of the Kingdom of Silla.
But isn't this his last life? He remembers that he died after long weeks of drinking and gambling. He was reborn into another life and lived it with hardship but also eudaimonia. But he can't recall how he may have died in that life to be put back into this one.
The sick person in front of him is Song Minjun who was once a high general in the Silla military. He only knows that Minjun was accused by the Second Prince of a fraud. But Minjun was the First Prince’s people, and the First Prince tries to save Minjun by marrying Minjun to him, the Third Prince. After all, he is the people’s least favorite Prince but the King’s most spoiled Prince, and with this marriage, the others will have one less person to worry about.
Eunwoo hated the marriage and didn't even look at Minjun on their marriage night. Moreover, they didn't see each other for four months after they were married. It was not until Eunwoo’s gifted concubines caused turmoil by involving Minjun in the competition to conceive first that they met.
“Don't…” Minjun knits his brows and catches Eunwoo’s hands that are about to untie his shirt.
Eunwoo tries to put on a soft smile and hides his discomfort and guilt, “It's okay. I won't hurt you anymore.”
“No. Don't,” Minjun sucks in his lips with another wave of bitter hot tears rolling down the corner of his eyes.
“I know you were a General but it's fine. Just stop drinking and eat better and exercise more. Your body may not come back fully ever, but it'll still be better than now.”
Minjun shakes his head.
“I won't hurt you, I promise. I only need to wipe down your body so it can cool down.” Eunwoo places a hand on the bulging stomach. Then his face is blackened because of Minjun’s stomach pluses and moves.
He unties the knot and unfolds the layers, pretending to be calm, and continues to wipe Minjun’s down without another word. Questions flash through his mind, and the loudest one asks how did a second-class man become a General?
Minjun looks away, already giving up. He has been hiding his pregnancy for a while, fearing that Eunwoo would not accept the childbirth by a second-class man. He has been afraid that Eunwoo may sell his child for drinks and gambling if he found out. Minjun didn't plan to run away until the contracted time with the First Prince and the King of Silla but this child has changed everything for him.
Eunwoo pulls the comforter over Minjun’s shoulders and says, “Rest. I'll go find something for you to eat.”
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