“With all due respect,” Wooseok sighs, strolling back into the study half an hour later, trying for stern and just coming across exasperated as he settles into the comfy armchair across Yohan’s desk, placing the stack of parchment on top of the already towering piles of paperwork, “You are the worst Crown Prince ever, sire.”
Yohan just looks up from where he had been tinkering with a display model and shoots him a sheepish grin as he picks up his quill again, “Ah, but you’re much better at this negotiation business than I am anyways! It’s more efficient this way.”
“You’re still supposed to be in the room at the very least, my prince,” Wooseok chides softly, “It isn’t proper for me to be sitting in on your behalf, I’ve no rank nor standing to do so and you know it.”
“But hyung,” Yohan whines even as Wooseok winces yet again at the affectionate address no Crown Prince should be using for their aide regardless of personal feelings or childhood attachments, “You know I just mess it right up. When they stare me down, I get nervous and then I start giggling and they think I’m laughing at them or not right in the head. Things work so much better when you’re in the diplomatic role than I am. Look! We got the trade deal renewed and everything.”
“Pending revisions tomorrow. You’re going to get me arrested for treason on counts of impersonating the crown prince and aiming to usurp the throne,” Wooseok hisses, glancing around even though they both know this room was as private as they come, “You know how the Traditionalists are, my head will be on the block before you even know it when they find out.”
“I wouldn’t let them,” Yohan insists, jaw set mulishly, “You know I wouldn’t.”
“It isn’t a matter of whether you’d let them, my prince, you know that. Come to the next meeting, I beg you, I’ll do all the work and you can pretend to not fall asleep. His Majesty wanted you to spearhead these negotiations for a reason, you really mustn’t let the Jeons find more opportunities to rally support for your cousin.”
“I’ll come, I’ll come,” Yohan agrees, flipping through the contract Wooseok had brought back with him in a put-out manner, “I just don’t understand why we can’t just give the person good at the job the role, are you sure you wouldn’t rather be Crown Prince?”
“Quite certain,” Wooseok drawls drily, “I like my head attached to the rest of my body, thank you kindly sire.”
“Fetch me tea while I read this over?” Yohan turns large imploring eyes at Wooseok.
“I’ll bring the cakes too,” his aide teases.
“You’re the best, hyung!”
Wooseok slips out and sketched a bow, shutting the door quickly, barely able to resist slumping against it, forcing his shoulders back and straightening his spine instead.
“Hard time being the ‘best hyung’?” Hangyul teases under his breath from his position by the door and Wooseok allows himself a brief glare at the captain of guard before carefully schooling his expression into one of bland politeness.
“Hush, you. Aren’t you guards supposed to be stoic and menacing while on duty?”
“You were around when I first flailed my way off a horse and landed arse up in a puddle of mud,” Hangyul snorts, never one to shy away from bringing up his own embarrassing moments, “You’ve never bought the act anyways, why bother? It’s such a pain acting mean all the time.”
“Am I the only one who does my duty around here?” Wooseok complains good-naturedly as Hangyul gestures towards his deputy to take over, falling in step beside Wooseok as he heads to the kitchens.
“We’re all very grateful for it.”
“I’d rather retire.”
“You’re not even thirty yet.”
“A year in court feels like a decade, I ought to be nearing a hundred now.”
“My offer is still on the table.”
The split-second pause in Wooseok’s stride would have been invisible for anyone not looking for it. “Go back to your post,” he says but Hangyul grins regardless - that split-second told him more than enough.
He darts forward, tugging at the ribbon Wooseok wears at the base of his neck playfully, fingers lingering in a way he wishes it could across soft hair or warm skin.
“Still on the table.”
“Go before you get written up for insubordination.”
“It would be worth it.”
Wooseok rolls his eyes and gives no further response, picking up his pace instead as Hangyul slows and stops to watch him go, eyes fond, rubbing the tips of his fingers together, wistful smile on his face. When Wooseok disappears around the corner, he straightens, stoic mask erasing his earlier grin as he turns sharply on the spot and returns to his post outside Prince Yohan’s study.
My latest attempt to get the writing going and keep it coming. Would love if you guys dropped a comment, cheers me right up in the midst of the veritable storm of work that is currently my life.
“Seven!” Hangyul announces, swinging the door open with a rather dramatic bang, sounding as if the number itself was offensive, “Seven!”
“We heard you the first time,” Seungyoun snarks, rolling his eyes, not looking up from where he’s picking dirt out from underneath his nails with a wickedly sharp dagger most people would handle with the utmost care, “What about it?”
Hangyul collapses into the chair Seungwoo has so helpfully kicked out for him, slumping onto the worn out table with a tired groan. “Housekeeping is going to murder us all at this rate,” he laments, words half loss into the grain of the wood, “Siyeon spent almost an hour already lecturing me on how utterly impossible it is to get blood out of silk. It’s Thursday, oh goddess above, spare me for the rest of the week at least.”
“I mean, if you’re already at seven, what are the chances?” Seungyoun shrugs, a little smirk playing across his face even as Hangyul grumbles in his direction with a glare.
“This is your responsibility too,” he hisses.
“Me?” Seungyoun lounges, pushing back until he’s balances precariously on the two hind legs of the worn, wooden chair, “I am but a humble stablehand, you, oh mighty Captain of the Guard are responsible for the Crown Prince’s security detail.”
“You’re the Marshal, the castle’s security and defence forces are within your purview!”
“Are you two going to rehash this argument again,” Seungwoo cuts in, “or are you going to let me treat that cut on your hand before you ruin your uniform again, Hangyul?”
“Ah, hyung!” twin voices protest immediately, interrupted from going further when the door creaks open again and Wooseok pops in, sauntering over to give Seungwoo a quick hug around the shoulders.
“Leave them to perish, hyung,” Wooseok suggests, “they would deserve nothing less.”
“What did they do this time?” Seungwoo lifts his arm to pat at Wooseok’s hands still resting on his shoulders sympathetically, ignoring the glare Hangyul shoots him as he slyly keeps Wooseok’s attention and hands on himself.
“This one,” Wooseok gestures at Seungyoun with a nod of his head, “is relaxing down here while the castle’s security scrambles like headless chickens, why was there such a glaring hole in rotations anyways?”
“Bait them where I can keep an eye on them, Hangyul catches them every time, don’t he?” Seungyoun fires back which Wooseok pointedly ignores much to his displeasure and everyone else’s amusement.
“And that one?” Seungwoo prompts, lacing his fingers together with Wooseok and pulling him slowly to sit in the chair beside him, conveniently places close to his side.
“That one? That one left a piece of the assassin on the settee for Hyeongjun to find,” Wooseok bites out and Seungyoun says a prayer in his head quickly for the Captain of Guard; if there was anyone Wooseok was more protective of than Prince Yohan, it was Hyeongjun who had since being employed hung around Wooseok like a puppy whenever he was not on duty. In fact, given that Wooseok was most often with Prince Yohan and Hyeongjun’s job involved attending to Prince Yohan at all times, Hyeongjun succeeded in orbiting Wooseok even while on duty.
“I’m sorry?” Hangyul tries, only to duck behind the table the moment Wooseok looks ready to lunge.
“Sorry doesn’t change the fact that you left some nameless man’s hand in plain view!”
“I was busy making sure said nameless man became headless as well! I got injured in the process too!” Hangyul tries to ellicit sympathy, presenting the sluggishly bleeding cut on his hand for appraisal, “Look!”
Wooseok scoffs, about to knock Hangyul’s hand away before he pauses, brow furrowing, dislodging Seungwoo’s hands from his own to grab Hangyul’s wrist and haul the injured hand closer for inspection. “Hyung,” he shoves it at Seungwoo who takes one look at the blackening gash and springs up from his seat, cursing.
“Please don’t tell me,” Hangyul sighs.
“I won’t then,” Wooseok snarks even as he stands as well to start checking Hangyul over, clucking and fussing while Seungwoo goes to look for his medical supplies, “I’m surprised you didn’t feel it until now.”
“I thought it was just adrenaline wearing off,” Hangyul complains, preening slightly beneath the attention despite himself and in spite of the situation.
“You’re poisoned,” Wooseok deadpans, “and you thought it was adrenaline.”
“I’ve had worse,” the Captain of Guard tries to play things off only to hiss when Seungyoun stands as well, cuffing him lightly on the back of his head.
“I taught you better than that,” he chides, hauling Hangyul to his feet and manhandling him into leaning against him, one arm slung over Seungyoun’s shoulder, “I’ll take him to the infirmary, no use in Seungwoo trying to bring all his supplies over.”
“He’s poisoned, stop making him move, it’ll circulate through his bloodstream faster!” Wooseok protests.
“I can drag him?”
Wooseok groans before moving to shoulder Hangyul’s weight on the other side, the Captain of Guard wary of letting the slighter man bear his weight, what with his armour still being on but Wooseok doesn’t buckle in the least. “Come on,” he sighs despite clearly not agreeing with Seungyoun’s plan, “Let’s get him there before he dies.”
“Hyung,” Hangyul allows his head to loll unto Wooseok’s shoulder until it comes to rest against Wooseok’s temple as his vision starts to go fuzzy, “Will you miss me if I die?”
“Shut up you idiot.”
“So will you?”
“You’re not going to die,” he gets from Seungyoun instead of the words he wants to hear and Hangyul pouts even as he stumbles along the steps.