Myungjun stretched his arms above his head and yawned as he stared down at his art tablet. He only had a bit more shading to do before he could begin to color the piece, but he found himself growing utterly exhausted.
He had, unfortunately, fallen behind in the creation of his latest webtoon comic chapter. He knew fans were begging for more; he had enough fan mail that sometimes he forced his roommate to answer a lot of it for him. However, his life had gotten insanely stressful and chaotic in just a matter of days; his grandfather had a fall and was taken to the hospital, the family dog passed away, and his ex-boyfriend had returned with a vengeance and had taken to drunk-texting Myungjun at all times of the day and night.
What a loser, Myungjun thought to himself as his phone dinged with yet another notification from Myungjun’s greatest mistake. He let the phone dim before he turned back to his computer screen and scrolled through the latest work in progress.
What started as a silly hobby had suddenly turned into a steady-paying career. It was supposed to be a relatively short comic about a Korean prince who was in love with a pretty common-woman and was forbidden to marry her. It was a basic premise that somehow gained an intense following, and Myungjun was forced to stretch the simple story into a very long epic.
Now he had killed off his female lead after months of teasing such a turn of events, and had already brought in someone else to be the love interest. It was a risky business move, one Jinwoo told him would have dire consequences, but the entire ordeal was supposed to be a hobby, anyway. He wasn’t supposed to be making millions of won per month off of his silly comic.
In any case, the new love interest felt more natural. There was more chemistry there between his lead and the new love interest, and Myungjun was satisfied.
Even if the love interest was a male and thus would force his webtoon into the LGBTQ genre of the website.
He placed the tablet pen down and pursed his lips as he read over the sheet of dialogue he had written out for the scene. The love interest, General Moon, had appeared in a hailstorm of arrows. He had been shot at by the Silla Kingdom and had survived. The lead, Prince Park, had visited the wounded soldiers and had been taken by General Moon’s determination and will to survive. There, in the hospital tent surrounded by wounded and dying soldiers, in the midst of blood and guts, Prince Park had completely and utterly fallen in love with General Moon.
It was cheesy, but it was more along the lines of the direction Myungjun truly wanted his comic to go. If he was to continue this thing for an indefinite period of time, he might as well only draw what he wanted to see. He would lose fans, certainly; he had already lost many fans when the female lead had been murdered. But he had also gained new fans, too, people who were excited at such a bold move and interested to see where the story would head next.
Myungjun set his art tablet aside and stood from his seat, stretching once more before retreating out of his room and into the kitchen.
Jinwoo looked up from where he was cooking dinner and grinned. “You done?” he asked.
“Yeah. I smelled food and came running.”
“One day, you’ll cook dinner for us,” Jinwoo ordered as he prepared the dishes to bring to the table.
Myungjun helped him, grabbing some utensils and napkins. “I work too hard to make dinner,” he moaned. “Can’t I just stick with buying all of the groceries?”
Jinwoo gave a small huff. “For now you can,” he responded, “but once this chapter is complete, I expect you to pick up some of the slack. I know things have been difficult, but that doesn’t mean you can hole yourself up in your bedroom and claim to be working, when I know full well you’re probably drooling over a stash of naked Minhyuk fanart.”
“In most of the art, he’s wearing something .”
Jinwoo raised his eyebrows, and Myungjun conceded with a laugh. “Fine, fine. I admit, some of the drawings I’ve received are...a bit risque--”
“A bit? ”
“--but that doesn’t mean I’m drooling over them.” Myungjun sat down and eagerly grabbed the food Jinwoo handed to him. “Thanks, Jinnie. Also, I’ve drawn Prince Minhyuk in many suggestive poses before. Gotta bring in the money somehow.”
“I thought you’re only drawing for yourself now.”
“Yeah, and I like my suggestive drawings. Just wait until Minhyuk and Bin confess to each other. I’ll draw some steamy stuff to appease both the fans and myself.”
He succeeded in making Jinwoo smile, and he hoped that his roommate would perhaps forget about the chores. Unfortunately, Jinwoo was a stickler for rules and structure, and once they finished dinner, he gestured at the table.
“You do the dishes, since I did the cooking.”
Myungjun groaned again, but he knew he couldn’t argue Jinwoo, not when he ought to help with chores. He begrudgingly agreed, and gathered all of the small bowls in his arms to dump them in the sink. As he washed and cleared the table, he wondered about his webtoon.
“Do you really think I’m making a mistake with the suggestive drawings?” he asked Jinwoo, who had grabbed a beer from the fridge and was watching Myungjun work on the dishes with a weird satisfaction.
“Maybe. That’s up for you to decide.”
“I mean, I think a lot of girls like that sort of thing, if the fanart is any indication.”
“Then draw him naked and let him get nasty.”
“But Prince Park isn’t really the sort of person to get nasty,” Myungjun pointed out. “He’s...gentle. And calm. He’s studious and quiet and smart. He isn’t nasty .” He paused briefly and added, “Though I think I’ve made Bin capable of being nasty.”
Jinwoo took a sip of his beer. “We’re considering a lot about the sex lives of two fictional characters.”
“Welcome to the world of webtoons,” Myungjun teased. He finished his chore and grabbed his own beer from the fridge. “And now that I’ve detached myself from one fictional world, I’m going to go watch this drama and be sucked into a different fictional world.”
“Have fun,” Jinwoo responded with a smile. “I’m headed to Ari’s apartment in a bit so we can, in your own words, get nasty .”
Myungjun grimaced and shoved Jinwoo’s shoulder. “Gross,” he commented. “Use protection so the world doesn’t have mini Park Jinwoo’s running around.”
“Nah, I think we’ll let the mini Park Jinwoo’s form.”
Even if it was a joke, Myungjun still texted Jinwoo a few web links on the dangers of unprotected sex later that night, mostly for fun but also because he didn’t really want his closest friend to have weird diseases upon coming back home. Then, satisfied with the day’s end, he flopped over into bed, deleting one last message from his ex-boyfriend before falling asleep.
He wasn’t in his warm, comfortable bed. He didn’t have his nice, silken sheets draped over him, nor did he have his mother’s quilt by his side to bury his face into. His pillow was flat and hard and when he turned, his knee brushed up against something wooden, not his mattress. He blinked his eyes open, confusion clouding his senses.
Where even was he?
He was no longer in his bedroom. Instead, he seemed to be in some sort of old, Korean house. He could detect none of the modern conveniences of modern life, and his hand rifled around frantically for his phone.
“A dream,” Myungjun muttered to himself when he could not find his precious phone. “Just a dream.” A vivid dream, at that, but still a dream, nonetheless. He closed his eyes again, squeezing them shut and waiting for reality to hit him in the face.
But, nope, when he opened his eyes again, he still stared at this weird house that was most certainly not his lovely, tiny apartment.
He sighed and sat up, recognizing now that he had been sleeping on a futon. At least his dream was historically accurate.
It was then, though, as he glanced to his side, that he realized he was not alone.
Asleep next to him was a young man with sharp cheekbones and tanned skin. His hair was a bit long, draping slightly over his face, and he wore the bed clothes of someone from Korea’s past; it seemed to fit with the time period, at least. Damn, Myungjun’s mind was detail-oriented, even in its dreamscape.
Myungjun took a deep breath and poked the man’s face, whispering a small, “Hello?”
The man mumbled something and tried to escape Myungjun’s prodding finger, but after a few seconds of wrinkling his nose, he finally opened his eyes.
And, goodness, were his eyes just as sharp as his cheeks! He stared up at Myungjun with a piercing gaze, and Myungjun found himself a bit breathless to be gazing back upon such a magnificent specimen.
Then the man screamed and scrambled backwards, feet kicking at the bedding and at Myungjun himself.
Myungjun gave a start and leaned away from this strange man, who breathed heavily and hurried to his feet.
“Who -- Who the hell are you? How did you get in here?” the man asked, eyes wild with alarm.
It was such a strange dream. Myungjun wondered why he would dream himself into a man’s bedroom. Was he really that lonely?
“I don’t really know,” he admitted, clearing his throat. “I just...I woke up, and here I am.”
The door slid open and another man came rushing in, this one older and wearing the traditional uniform of an eunuch. Myungjun watched the scene as some sort of recognition began to grow upon him.
They looked like they came straight from his webtoon.
“Prince Park!” the eunuch exclaimed. “What seems to be the matter?”
They definitely were from his webtoon. Myungjun had somehow dreamed up scenes of his own comic series. He must really be self-centered to have done such a thing. Still, at least his comic characters looked amazing as actual, realistic people. Myungjun’s brain was an amazing thing, and he would have to take some tests later to check for signs of genius abilities.
The prince -- Minhyuk , Myungjun fondly reminded himself -- pointed over at Myungjun and asked, “What’s this? Why is he in my room?”
The eunuch’s eyes widened as he looked over at Myungjun. “I...I’ve no idea, Your Highness. No one has entered or exited through any of the doors; we have guards stationed all over the place.”
“One of them must not have done his job.” Minhyuk glared at Myungjun. “See to it that he is executed for entering my chambers.”
“Executed?” Myungjun repeated. That was an odd twist for his dream to take. He could see a nightmare beginning to form, and he slapped his cheeks a few times in an effort to wake up. Unfortunately, that only resulted in his cheeks tingling a little bit, and he wondered why he was able to feel things so vividly in this dream.
A few guards came into the room when the eunuch yelled for them. They grabbed Myungjun’s arms and hoisted him to his feet, displaying his vastly different sleepwear for the world to see. He briefly regretted his choice of bright pink shorts, but that was but a miniscule complaint when he noticed the spears the guards carried in their hands.
They began to drag Myungjun out of the room, and he knew what would await him. He had a degree in history and was quite aware of fates that would befall those sentenced to death by royalty.
“Wait!” he screeched, trying to fight back against the guards. “No, Prince Park! Wait, please, I’m not--” A thought came to his mind, and he doubted it would work, but he yelled out anyway, “Moon Bin is in love with you!”
The guards didn’t stop until Prince Park snapped out, “Wait. You know General Moon?”
Myungjun craned his neck, looking over his shoulder and taking deep breaths. He nodded his head frantically and said, “I can tell you anything about him. Please, just put me down and let me speak.”
There was a minute of hesitation. Minhyuk looked to the guards, and then to his eunuch who gave a helpless shrug. Myungjun’s heart hammered wildly in his chest, but then Minhyuk sighed and gave a weird hand gesture.
“Release him,” he muttered to the guards, who followed Minhyuk’s instructions. Myungjun sighed and stood on shaky legs, turning to properly face Prince Park, who gazed upon him with curiosity.
“How do you know General Moon?” Minhyuk questioned. “And how do you know that...that thing you just said?”
Myungjun hadn’t thought through his plan. How was he supposed to say I made Moon Bin just like I made you . How was he supposed to tell someone that they were nothing but a drawing of his own creation, stuck in a story only he could tell? Would Minhyuk even believe him?
And how the hell had he gotten here in the first place?
“I, um…” Myungjun cleared his throat. “I just...I don’t know. You need to trust me.”
“Trust you?” Minhyuk snorted. “You are a strange man who somehow found his way into my chambers and slept beside me. Why should I trust you?”
“Look, I know it’s strange, and I’m a bit confused, as well, but I...I don’t really know how to tell you anything. But...you and General Moon met in a hospital tent for wounded soldiers after an intense battle with Baekje Kingdom. He called you an ethereal being, and you told him to shut his mouth or you’d sew it shut.”
Minhyuk seemed a bit flushed. His eyes widened and he looked to and from his guards and his eunuch. “That’s...we were alone. You were not there. Unless you were a wounded soldier?”
“No. Because I also know that he visited your tent later, when he was stitched up, and you two drank and discussed your pasts. You told him how much you missed your lover, and he told you how his younger sister was taken as a concubine by a rather despicable man and he’s determined to get her back.”
“How do you know? ” Minhyuk snapped, looking rather desperate. “You weren’t there! No one was there!”
No one had been there, except for Myungjun. Myungjun had been there the entire time, watching Minhyuk’s growth, writing down every single plot point, establishing the outline of Minhyuk’s life. Minhyuk could not do a single thing on his own, Myungjun realized. He had no free will; Myungjun controlled him with the flick of a pen.
Or, at least he did in his world. Now he was stuck in this strange alternate reality he had created for the sole purpose of pleasing fans. Could he control Minhyuk’s destiny from here?
Could he even get back out and to his own time?
“I’ll explain it all to you,” Myungjun promised. “Just...please dismiss the guards. And the eunuch. I think it’s best if you and I talk alone.”
Minhyuk narrowed his eyes. “I’d be rather foolish to do that, don’t you think?”
“Fine, then. Keep them. But promise me that they will not bring me any harm.”
Minhyuk frowned and kept his distance, but he at least nodded his head. “I promise.”
Myungjun wasn’t quite sure how to go about explaining his situation. He could barely believe it himself, and he still thought it to be some sort of horrid dream. How did he even wind up here, within this world he created on his own? It wasn’t real; it couldn’t have been real.
But he had yet to wake up, so he might as well do his best to explain things to an inquisitive Minhyuk, who crossed his arms over his chest and awaited an answer to the strange happenings.
Myungjun took a breath and started, “I come from a different world. Or, I mean, maybe I’m in the future; I’m not quite sure how this has worked out. I’m from the year 2021. We have...we have phones, and technology, and extremely tall skyscrapers.”
“And strange fabrics, apparently,” Minhyuk added.
“Huh?” Myungjun blinked, then glanced down at his pajamas. “Ah. Yes. I mean...yes, we have lots of different clothes and fabrics you can buy. I forgot where I even got these pants.”
Minhyuk raised his eyebrows. “You really expect me to believe any of this?” he asked. “It’s impossible.”
“It should be impossible! I agree. I...I don’t know what happened.” Myungjun pondered how to best explain his webtoon next. How was he supposed to tell Minhyuk that he was fake, that his entire world, while based in historical accuracy, was completely fake? Minhyuk definitely wouldn’t believe him then.
But, Minhyuk suddenly blurted out, “But it’s not beyond the realm of possibility, I guess.”
Myungjun found his words unexpected. “It’s...you believe me?”
“Hardly.” Minhyuk rolled his eyes. “However, it is strange that you’ve appeared in my chambers when there’s no way in but past the guards. And it is strange that you know something of General Moon. And it is definitely strange that you have such a fabric on your body.” Minhyuk gestured to Myungjun’s shirt. “What is that supposed to be?”
“It’s...it’s a cartoon character,” he explained.
“Cartoon?” Minhyuk cocked his head. “What is that?”
Explaining the webtoon to him would be far more difficult than Myungjun had imagined. He supposed he could relate his drawings to Korean artwork, but even that might be more of a hassle than he had bargained for.
“It’s...um…” Myungjun swallowed nervously, and the eunuch stepped up.
“Prince Park,” the eunuch said, bowing his head, “it might do us well to imprison this man. He is clearly not telling the truth, and he might be dangerous, as he has crawled into--”
“I’m still waiting to hear his explanations,” Minhyuk snapped, brushing the eunuch aside. “Like how he knows of General Moon.”
Minhyuk glared at him, and Myungjun gave a start, trying to devise some sort of fib in his mind that would be believable and keep him from going to jail.
“I, um...I know him because…” Because I made him? He would basically claim the status of a higher god if he were to say such a thing. No, he couldn’t get into his creations at the moment. He had to think of something else that would require no evidence but would ease Minhyuk’s mind.
“He’s my past lover,” Myungjun blurted out desperately.
Minhyuk’s eyes widened. The eunuch gave a sharp intake of breath. One of the guards cleared his throat.
Treading lightly, Myungjun continued, “I have known him for a long time now. He was once dear to me. Due to...circumstances, we had a slight falling out. I still...care for him, though.”
“Past...lovers?” Minhyuk repeated. “He never mentioned you.”
“That is because he, um...doesn’t care much for me. He pretends I do not exist.”
“Hm.” Minhyuk looked him over and muttered, “Well, I don’t blame him.”
Myungjun grit his teeth down but decided to say nothing of Minhyuk’s rude behavior. He had just gotten himself out of the mess he had inadvertently created and it wouldn’t do him any favors to piss Minhyuk off again.
“But why are you in my room, then?” Minhyuk asked.
“That’s...a good question. I don’t--”
“And you said you were from the future. Have you changed your story?”
Minhyuk was intelligent. Myungjun internally berated himself for making such an intuitive protagonist. Why couldn’t he had created someone stupid and foolish and gulliable?
“Well, you didn’t believe my initial story,” Myungjun retorted. “I don’t know what else I am to do to convince you that I told the truth; I’m not from this world. I’m from a different world.”
“And you were transported back in time, into my bed? And you know of me and of General Moon? It’s such a ridiculous story.”
Myungjun sighed and nodded his head. He was in full agreement with Minhyuk; it was a ridiculous story. It didn’t make any sense. It confused the hell out of him.
“It’s...dumb, I know. It’s weak, too, and it makes me appear even more suspicious. But I can prove to you that I’m not from here. I can tell you things about yourself you’ve never told anyone before. I can tell you things about your rule that normal people would not know. I can…” Myungjun struggled to think of something else he could do to prove he was telling the truth.
Minhyuk wrinkled his nose. “You know things about me?” he questioned. “Like what?”
“Like…” Myungjun struggled to think of information, of the backstory he had carefully pieced together for his favorite creation. “You once plotted to kill your own father.”
There was silence in the room. Minhyuk’s face turned red, and he was quick to look over at the eunuch and his guards. “I did no such thing,” he snapped. “This boy is a liar.”
“Shall we sentence him to execution?” the eunuch pondered. “He is spreading such falsehoods and so--”
“No. Not yet. I’m...I find him interesting.” He waved a hand at the eunuch. “Go. Leave us.”
“But Prince Park--”
“He doesn’t know anything of me, but he does seem to know about General Moon,” Minhyuk said. “I want to question him. Leave.”
The eunuch hesitated briefly before nodding his head. The guards headed out first, and then the eunuch, but not before giving Myungjun one last scathing glare.
Once they were alone, Minhyuk sighed deeply and took a seat. “You shouldn’t blurt out such nonsense,” he grumbled.
“But you did try--”
“It was years ago,” Minhyuk said, defensive. “And it was hardly a plot! I merely thought…” He blinked and looked up at Myungjun. “I thought about it. I never once mentioned this to a single soul, not even to General Moon. How do you know about it?”
Well, he supposed it was as good of a moment as ever to explain himself to Minhyuk. Myungjun sat down across from him, pulling self-consciously at his pants, which rode up past his knees.
“I created you,” he admitted. “Everything about you has been created by me. This room is of my own creation. Your family, your friends, your guards -- everything.”
Minhyuk wrinkled his nose. “You’re...a god, then?”
“No! Heavens, no, I’m just...I’m an artist.”
“An artist?” Minhyuk echoed. “An artist who can create people?”
“It sounds ridiculous, but we’ve already established that my story is...my story makes no sense.” Myungjun tried to offer Minhyuk a small smile, but Minhyuk still stared at him with obvious distrust and unease. How would it ever be possible to make him believe in such an outlandish story?
“So you have drawn me at some point, then?”
“I...I always draw you. I created you. You were in my head as some sort of imagination, and I just...I got inspired and drew it. You aren’t real.”
Minhyuk puffed up a bit, as if offended. “Not real? ” he echoed, then held out his hand. “I am surely real. Go on, feel me. I am real.”
“I know you’re here , but you’re...oh, god, I don’t know how to describe it. It’s like I’ve fallen into the world I designed. It’s like if you were to fall into a painting, only to find that the subject of the painting has been living a fruitful life with no knowledge that he is a painting.”
“That is impossible,” Minhyuk retorted. “And if it was possible, then I’m inclined to say that the subject is real. If they’ve been living in their own world, it is real. Even if it is one the artist designed, it is still real. Besides, it’s not as if human beings came into existence without the help of the gods. Aren’t we all, then, subjects of their artwork?”
He made several good points, but Myungjun found it all very different. Besides, he didn’t know if he enjoyed the comparison to the gods. He had done nothing except create a beloved comic series. He had never meant for his comic series to come to life.
“Anyway,” Minhyuk continued, seemingly bored with the conversation, “I’d like for you to prove your art skills to me. I’ve actually been looking for another palace artist. My father--”
“He beheaded the last one,” Myungjun grumbled. “I know.”
Minhyuk raised his eyebrows and seemed to be vaguely impressed. “It’s not public knowledge,” he pointed out.
“Again, I drew that scene. I know it. The artist was caught sleeping with one of the king’s concubines, Kim Sohye. An outgoing and vivacious woman, right? Someone you’ve spoken with on multiple occasions and have enjoyed the company of.”
Minhyuk didn’t answer. He merely stared at Myungjun for a few seconds before looking away, over at one of the tapestries on the wall.
Myungjun decided to break the silence on his own. “If that was out of line, I apologize. I just...I know everything, Min -- Prince Park.”
“Because you are my creator, as you’ve claimed,” Minhyuk responded. “What do you want from us, then? Shall we hold you in high esteem? Bow down in worship?”
“No! No, I’m...I’m not saying any of this in order to be praised . I don’t want to be a god. I just...I wanted you to know where I came from.”
Minhyuk scowled. “I don’t know if I believe the entire story,” he said. “It’s…” He waved a hand, as if dismissing Myungjun’s words. “But you do have insider knowledge, which I find intriguing.” He narrowed his eyes in thought for a few seconds, then suddenly sat up. “I shall parade you around the palace and see if anyone knows of you. Surely you are getting your information from somewhere, and--”
“I’m not!” Myungjun assured. “Look, I just really want to get back home, alright? Please, I promise...nothing will happen if you help me get back home.”
“Where is your home, then?”
“It’s...well, technically it’s here, but...a different time period.”
“The future. Right. Where they have...pink trousers. Are those the pants of a young boy? Why are you wearing such small clothing?”
“They’re...oh, god, it’s just what I sleep in!” Myungjun exclaimed, feeling his face grow just as pink as his shorts. “I didn’t expect to be transported into this world, believe me.”
Minhyuk seemed to smile a little bit, but the smirk on his face was gone just as quickly as it had arrived. It was unfortunate, really, for Myungjun always enjoyed Minhyuk’s smile. He didn’t draw it too often for fear it would soon be too boring and too normal , but Myungjun had ensured Minhyuk had dimples, and a little twinkle in his eye.
And, god , it translated so well in reality.
“How do you get home, then, if you’re from a completely different world?” Minhyuk inquired.
“See, that’s...yeah, I don’t know. I’m...I’m not really sure.”
“How did you get here? ”
Myungjun blinked and tried to recall if anything strange had happened. “I...I slept. I went to bed and...when I woke up, I was here.”
With a gesture to the sheets, Minhyuk ordered, “Then return back to sleep. See if it shall happen a second time. Perhaps when you sleep, you will awaken in your world. And if that’s the case, if you disappear once you are asleep, then I shall know you are telling the truth.”
“You...you want me to sleep? Here? In front of you?”
Minhyuk nodded along to all of his questions. “If you are not lying to me, then you should disappear. It’s very simple, isn’t it?”
“I mean…” Myungjun cleared his throat. “I guess.” But it wasn’t, not really. He was expected to sleep in this strange place with his webtoon character watching him? It was bizarre, and weird even for a dream.
But if it was a dream, then if he closed his eyes for long enough, he definitely ought to wake up in his own world. It would be a simple theory to test, and there was no harm in trying to sleep. At least Minhyuk was giving him the opportunity to prove himself, instead of simply beheading Myungjun and going on his way.
Myungjun nodded his head, and Minhyuk’s face brightened with curiosity. He patted his bedsheets and scooted close.
“Sleep here,” he ordered. “Right where you woke up. That might better help your weird story, don’t you agree?”
“Sure. Maybe. I have no idea.” Myungjun laid down as Minhyuk requested.
Minhyuk surprised him then by tossing the bedsheets over him, making certain he was tucked in tight. It was gentle behavior that Myungjun had definitely instilled in his character but had never actually experienced in person. And why should he have experienced that in person? Minhyuk didn’t exist.
Minhyuk wasn’t real.
Or, rather, Minhyuk shouldn’t be real.
“There,” said Minhyuk, proudly. “Close your eyes. Sleep. I want to see what happens.”
“What if I disappear?” Myungjun asked in a mumble. “What will you do then?”
“Oh, probably scream,” Minhyuk teased. “But I will believe you, and we shall part ways -- a time-traveling stranger and a traumatized prince.”
Myungjun cracked a smile, then took a deep breath. “If I don’t disappear? What then?”
“What then?” Minhyuk thought for a few seconds before shrugging his shoulders. “I guess I shall imprison you for your lies. Or, else I shall keep you around and we can try and devise other ways you could disappear. I’d like to see it happen. I want to know if I’ve been fortunate enough to speak to a strange, time-traveling god.”
“Hardly a god,” Myungjun argued.
“You’re right. Gods look mightier.” Minhyuk leaned back on his heels and pursed his lips. “Go on, then -- disappear. I’m waiting.”
His smile slipped, and Myungjun frowned, instead. What a bossy prince. He had forgotten he made Minhyuk a bit aloof and weird and mean. Still, he closed his eyes, taking that first step into proving his story true.
It was difficult to fall asleep with someone watching him. Myungjun was reminded of his ex-boyfriend, who would watch and wait until he was sure Myungjun was fast asleep so he could then text the two other guys he was leading on.
“Can you…” Myungjun cleared his throat but did not open his eyes. “Can you turn away?”
“I can’t sleep when someone’s staring at me. It’s...unnerving.”
“Well, I’m not going to risk missing your disappearance.”
“I don’t know if I can sleep, then.”
Minhyuk was quiet, but then he shuffled around a bit. Myungjun peeked open an eye to watch as Minhyuk turned his back on Myungjun.
Before Myungjun could give his gratitude, Minhyuk reached a hand behind him and placed his fingers tentatively on Myungjun’s forehead.
“I’ll sit like this,” he said, “and feel for you. The moment you slip from my fingers, I will turn to see what happened; don’t think you can sneak out on my watch.”
It was such a gentle touch. Myungjun found that he actually quite liked it. Minhyuk’s fingers were softer than he thought they would be -- had he ever written about Minhyuk’s fingers before? He couldn’t recall. He knew Minhyuk’s hands were clear of calluses and blisters, and that he didn’t often have dry skin, but he had never given much thought as to his fingers. Did he have long or short fingernails? DId he have any scrapes or cuts that might only be noticeable up close? How long were the fingers? Were they stubby, or elegant?
There was so much going through Myungjun’s mind, and he made the decision to write a few things about Minhyuk’s wonderfully soft fingers when he was able to.
He closed his eyes and settled into the covers, willing himself to fall asleep. He counted sheep and he took deep breaths and he refused to open his eyes for anything.
Only the sound of movement woke him, and when he finally did open his eyes, he realized he was back in his bedroom. It was late morning, if the sun streaming through his curtains was any indication of that, and he slowly rose from his sheets, looking around him in bewilderment.
Had he returned? Or had it all been a dream?
It must have been a dream. There was no way he was magically transported to a world of his own creation, and then magically brought back home again. That wasn’t realistic in the slightest.
He yawned and shuffled out of bed, glancing down at his pajamas.
Those damn, pink shorts. The Minhyuk of his dream had found them ridiculous. Honestly, they were a little silly-looking, even if Myungjun found them to be comfortable. Maybe he would have to look into something a little more sleek, something that would garner less negative attention from his dream world.
There was a knock at his bedroom door, and Jinwoo poked his head inside.
“You’re back,” he said with a small smile.
Myungjun blinked. “Back?”
“Yeah. Back. Where’d you go, anyway?”
“Where...where did I go? ”
Jinwoo looked just as confused as Myungjun felt. “I mean, you weren’t here. I came to check on you early this morning to see if you wanted to go out for breakfast with me, but you weren’t in your bed. I texted you, but you must have left your phone. How the hell did you get back, anyway? Did you sneak around me?”
Myungjun’s eyes widened. “I...I didn’t leave,” he murmured, running his fingers through his hair. “I was here the whole time.”
“Well, I didn’t see you. You weren’t in bed.”
So his dream hadn’t been just a dream. He had somehow been transported into his webtoon.
What the hell was going on?
“It’s a bit unbelievable,” Jinwoo muttered after hearing the story. He sipped at his tea and shrugged his shoulders. “I mean, are you sure it wasn’t just a weird dream?”
“If it was just a dream, then why wasn’t I in my bed when you came in this morning?” Myungjun countered. He groaned and splayed out across the table. “I didn’t think it was real, either, but I can’t figure out any other explanation.”
Jinwoo hummed a bit, then suggested, “Maybe you had been sleepwalking?”
“Maybe. But that’d be a crazy coincidence, right?”
“Far more believable than you getting transported into your webtoon.”
Myungjun nodded his head in agreement, though he wasn’t sure what the truth even was anymore. Maybe he had been sleepwalking, as Jinwoo suggested. Maybe it was a coincidence. Or, maybe he had been somehow stuck in his webtoon.
“His fingers felt so real,” Myungjun muttered, touching his own forehead. “I felt him touch me. I’ve never felt that in a dream before.”
“I mean, you have wet dreams. Isn’t it a similar concept?”
Myungjun blushed and sat back up again. “No! God, no, that’s...don’t bring up my wet dreams, okay?” He gave a small huff before continuing, “This felt too real. I remember everything, and I don’t normally remember things in my dreams, you know? And it...it was just weird, the emotions I felt. Fear and...and awe. And not to mention the physical touches. The guards were rough, and Minhyuk was gentle.”
Jinwoo, though clearly not believing a word Myungjun said, seemed understanding, at least. He listened and considered Myungjun’s thoughts on the situation.
“Well, dreams are sometimes a bit crazy. I once had a dream that I finished some work that I actually didn’t do. Took me a full day to realize it was in a dream and it wasn’t real.”
Maybe Jinwoo had a point. Maybe Myungjun’s mind was merely playing tricks on him. Dreams were finicky, and the brain was also rather finicky. If the dream had been that realistic, then perhaps his brain was simply acting as if it really did happen.
“Yeah,” Myungjun finally conceded with a nod. “Maybe it was just a dream.”
“And you were sleepwalking.”
Myungjun nodded again, but asked, “Where did I even sleepwalk to, though? You said I wasn’t in the apartment at all, right?”
Jinwoo pondered the question. “I...I have no idea. Outside?”
But Myungjun had never walked in his sleep before, and he highly doubted he had managed to evade Jinwoo and sneak outside and then back in. He was clumsy enough awake, and he was sure to be even worse asleep.
Still, arguing the point would make him look crazy, so he kept quiet and continued to agree with Jinwoo.
Whatever the case, he was home again. It was best to put it out of his mind.
“Not again,” he heard, and he blearily opened his eyes before realizing he was no longer in his bedroom. He scrambled up, flinging covers off of him, and glanced around wildly before he caught sight of Minhyuk, who was dressed and glaring down at Myungjun from his vantage point.
Myungjun groaned and ran his fingers through his hair. “Not this again.”
“My thoughts exactly,” Minhyuk agreed. He sighed and sat across from Myungjun, on the other side of the room, gazing at him curiously. “I suppose you desire to be worshipped now, hm?”
“Worshipped?” Myungjun scoffed. “Me? Why?”
“You disappeared last night. I had my hand on you, then I felt you suddenly leave. When I spun around, you were gone. It was as if no trace of you ever existed.”
It was such a strange dream. Did dreams normally pick up from where they last left off? Myungjun couldn’t think of another time such a thing had ever happened to him, and he cleared his throat, feeling incredibly lost and confused.
“You must be a god,” Minhyuk continued. “No mere mortal could ever do such a thing.”
“I’m not a god,” Myungjun countered. “I just...fell asleep in my bed, and now I’m here. I’ve got no idea what’s going on.” He flopped back in Minhyuk’s bed, groaning again. “Maybe it’s because I’m eating ramen super late at night. I’ve always heard it’s bad to eat food right before you go to sleep, but nothing’s ever happened to me until now.”
“Ramen?” he heard Minhyuk repeat. “Is that a food of the gods?”
Myungjun couldn’t help but laugh. He shook his head, though he wasn’t sure if Minhyuk could see the movement, and said, “No. It’s cheap. I just eat it because it’s yummy.”
“Well, we do not have ramen here, so I assume it is something you eat in the heavens.”
“I told you, I’m not a god.” Myungjun sat back up again and frowned. “In fact, I’d be willing to wager that you’re more powerful than I am. I’m an artist. I sit at home all day and draw pictures.”
Minhyuk pursed his lips. “An artist that can magic himself in and out of my chambers?”
“I’m not really sure how I’m doing this.” He sighed. At least he knew how to escape. All he had to do was fall back asleep and then he would be back in his nice, warm cozy bed with all of the modern-day conveniences he could ever desire.
He noticed, then, that Minhyuk was alone. Despite being dressed and clearly about to start his day, there was no one else in the room. He hadn’t even called upon his guards or the eunuch to kick Myungjun out.
“Do you trust me enough to be in here alone with me now?” he asked.
Minhyuk nodded his head instantly. “I trust you,” he confirmed. “You have shown me no danger yet, and so I trust that no danger will come to me.”
“It’s silly to put your trust in someone you don’t really know.”
“Perhaps,” Minhyuk agreed, but he didn’t dwell on Myungjun’s statement for too long. Instead, he gestured at Myungjun’s legs and commented, “I’d like to see what you are wearing today. Is it pink?”
Myungjun blushed and pulled the sheets off his waist. “No,” he mumbled, displaying his black sweatpants. He had definitely been a bit more conscious of his clothing choices and had decided to ensure there would be no embarrassments.
Just in case , he had told himself as he traded his shorts for something a little more classy.
Minhyuk seemed a bit disappointed. He resigned himself to Myungjun’s black sweatpants, but still mentioned, “I liked the shorts. They were interesting. I’ve never seen such clothing on anyone before. Is it something gods wear?”
“I told you, I’m not a god! If I was a god, I wouldn’t be coming here every single morning.”
“Why not? I think I’m rather good company.” Minhyuk crossed his arms over his chest and sighed. “But I guess you must have better things to do with your time then to talk to a measly prince .”
Realizing he had offended Prince Park, Myungjun was quick to remedy the situation. “I didn’t...I didn’t mean anything by that. Honestly. It’s just...I’m from the future, like I told you, and this is...it’s not only the past, but it’s a past I created. It’s not real. It’s fake.”
“And, like I told you, it is very much real. Would you say that I’m fake? Hm?” Minhyuk stood and added, “You’ve felt me touch you. Was it the touch of someone who is fake?”
Myungjun had felt that touch. He had very much liked that touch. Therefore, Minhyuk was correct, and Myungjun could only shake his head and mutter, “No.”
Minhyuk looked rather pleased that he had won the argument. “See? Then, no matter where you come from, you are still in a world that is very much real. Though, I do find it interesting that you’ve claimed to have created me, yet you are not a god. Gods create humans, don’t they?”
He had a point there. Myungjun gnawed a bit on his lower lip, not quite sure how to present his own argument. He wasn’t even sure if he believed in his own argument anymore. Was he a god? Had he somehow become a god? Was this his own way of checking on his creation?
But he didn’t want to believe that. He didn’t like the idea of being a god. It was far too much responsibility.
“I’m just an artist,” he responded after a few seconds of thought. “I drew you. I don’t know how come you’re alive, but...all I did was draw you.”
Minhyuk considered him briefly before rushing over to a shelf. He grabbed some parchment and then reached for his pens.
“I’d like to see your artwork,” he urged. “Then I can decide whether or not I believe you.” He set the supplies down in front of Myungjun and ordered, “Draw me.”
Myungjun blinked and examined what Minhyuk had brought him. He had only worked with ink once or twice in his life. He didn’t think he could make a good drawing off of a bit of ink, and he cleared his throat as he fiddled with the brush.
“I’m...I’m used to drawing digitally,” he said. “Or with pens.”
“Digitally?” Minhyuk repeated, and his pronunciation was rather good for someone who had never even heard of the word before. “What’s digitally? ”
Rather than explain the concept of technology to Minhyuk, Myungjun ground out some ink. “Never mind,” he muttered. “Let me give this a shot.”
“Give it a shot?”
“Just…” Myungjun sighed. He forgot he would have to change his speech a little bit to fit Minhyuk’s world.
Minhyuk nodded his head, as if understanding Myungjun’s frustrations, and then he fell silent. He kept a watchful gaze as Myungjun diligently worked to recreate his digital artwork with nothing but a single brush and some ink.
It wasn’t as difficult as he thought it would be. The brush moved smoothly across the parchment, and he had remembered his calligraphy lessons enough to work with the ink stone. Soon enough, a picture began to form, and Myungjun hoped that Minhyuk would soon be able to see the resemblance.
Minhyuk moved to stand over his shoulder, but Myungjun hardly noticed his presence. He was captivated by his own artwork, determined to make something magnificent and beautiful. He wanted to wow Minhyuk, just as he constantly wowed all of his fans.
His heart rushed as he wondered how Minhyuk would truly react. Would he be ecstatic? Would he ask for a signature? Would he instantly believe what Myungjun had been trying to tell him before?
“It’s a strange style of art,” Minhyuk suddenly blurted out, jolting Myungjun out of his daydreams. “Are you sure you are from Goguryeo?”
Myungjun chuckled and shook his head as he finished off his artwork. “I’m not from Goguryeo, exactly. The Three Kingdoms have unified where I’ve come from, and I live in Korea. Seoul, to be exact.”
Minhyuk shook his head, signifying that he wasn’t entirely certain what Myungjun was referring to.
“It’s...it’s in Baekje for you,” Myungjun explained, “but it later becomes the capital.”
“Interesting.” Minhyuk examined the drawing a bit more, then asked, “So this is a drawing similar to those found in Baekje?”
“No. I mean...it’s a drawing that has developed over time. You forget, I am from a different time period.”
Minhyuk seemed to understand, and he took the parchment from Myungjun to examine it. “Though the style is unfamiliar,” he muttered, “I do see the resemblance. You’ve drawn me in an interesting way.” Then, he glanced at Myungjun and raised his eyebrows. “Would you mind if I kept this?”
“Oh, yeah, you can keep it!” Myungjun responded, pleased and awed that his creation seemed to be so taken with a very simple piece of artwork. “Would you like me to sign it for you?”
“If you wish, sure,” Minhyuk agreed, passing it back over so Myungjun could add his signature. Minhyuk, once more, peeked over his shoulder, and made a noise of confusion when Myungjun finished writing out the hangul.
“I can’t read this,” Minhyuk complained. “Does the future have a different written language?”
Myungjun had forgotten about the creation of Hangul, and he laughed as he added in the Chinese characters for his name. “Sorry,” he apologized. “This should be better.”
Indeed, it was. Minhyuk read out his name quietly, sounding it on his tongue. “This is interesting,” the prince commented. “A lot changes in the future, I assume?”
“Well...in my future, yes. Your future is a little bit different. I’ve taken some creative liberties with history, you see? So, for example, I’ve your story set in a time period where the Three Kingdoms don’t necessarily exist. But I wanted the conflict, so I’ve...changed a bit. I added the Kingdoms anyway.” Myungjun thought over his own words and wondered if he had accidentally created some sort of strange, parallel universe. Had he altered history for these people?
Was he really a god, as Minhyuk had claimed?
It hit him, suddenly, that he had responsibility over an entire nation of humans. They weren’t just drawings on a page anymore; he had brought them to life somehow, and they were under his control.
“Oh, shit,” he murmured. “I think I am a god.”
Minhyuk seemed amused. “You think? ” he repeated. “Do you not know?”
“I mean, I would assume to know, but...I guess I just thought about it now.” What was he supposed to do? Could he continue his webtoon in good conscience, knowing that everything he drew would actually affect someone? But if he stopped it, then would life continue for these people? Did they only exist if he continued the story?
Everything was far too confusing, and so his mind sought out the easiest explanation -- it was still nothing more than a dream.
He was dreaming. He wasn’t really influencing an entire world. He was dreaming that he had visited his creation, and the dreams would soon stop if he ceased his midnight meals. He had to get better sleep and drink more water, and then he would no longer dream such strange and realistic dreams.
“Can I give you an offering, then?” Minhyuk asked. “Just to ensure the safety of myself and my family and of...of my generals.”
“Your...generals? Oh, you mean General Moon.”
Minhyuk flushed, and Myungjun wondered why he felt such jealousy right there. Oh, couldn’t he be jealous? Minhyuk was an attractive young man, after all, and Myungjun could definitely admit to having a stupid, little crush on his own character. Didn’t all webtoon artists want to be with their main characters?
“Yes,” Minhyuk agreed, clearing his throat. The blush vanished as quickly as it had come about. Minhyuk’s recovery speed was incredible. “General Moon would be included.”
Myungjun crushed down that stupid spark of jealousy. There was no reason for it. He was being absolutely ridiculous. Instead, he nodded his head and said, “I’ll accept whatever you give me, but, um...don’t feel the need to give me an offering. I’d ensure your safety regardless.”
There was no way he could draw anything tragic at this point. He was going to have to cut his losses. Perhaps he would wrap up this one with Prince Park and start up a new webcomic, one that would hopefully not come to life before his very eyes.
As he considered the ending to his webtoon, Minhyuk moved to the edge of his room and grabbed a small bowl of rice. He brought it back to Myungjun, and with no hesitation, threw some of the rice in the air.
It landed all over the floor, all over the bedding, and all over Myungjun.
Minhyuk smiled sheepishly. “I’ve never been taught how to make an offering to a god who is standing in front of me; I only make offerings to the gods in the heavens.”
“Ah, well.” Myungjun brushed some rice off his face. “That makes sense, I guess.”
Minhyuk set the rice aside. “Will you be leaving now?”
“I probably should. Time does still pass in my world when I’m here. I don’t want to waste the day away; I have some stuff to do.”
At least Minhyuk looked slightly disappointed. He nodded his head and gestured at his bedding. “You can sleep, as you’ve done before,” he suggested. “I think...I think I shall write while you try to sleep. I want to document your visits.”
“Aren’t you afraid people will become suspicious if they read your writings?” Myungjun asked, laying back down.
Minhyuk shook his head as he sat on the floor by his table. He ground out some ink and said, “No one shall read this. I’m going to keep it all to myself. It will be for my personal collection.”
“Oh.” Myungjun hid a smile, thinking about how he would now forever live in Minhyuk’s memory. “Be sure to write how handsome I am,” he suggested, closing his eyes.
Minhyuk scoffed. “You do have a cocky attitude. I’ll write that, at least.”
“No, write something kind about me. I’ve been told I have a lovely smile.”
“You’ve been lied to.”
“You’re going to make me cry, Prince Park.”
Minhyuk laughed a bit, at least, and Myungjun curled up in his sheets, warmth spreading through his body. He made Minhyuk laugh. He made his adorably sweet creation laugh. Even if it was nothing but a dream, he did feel satisfied with his time in Minhyuk’s world, and it was easier to fall asleep knowing how much Minhyuk enjoyed his company.
When he opened his eyes again, he was in his own bed. He was fortunate it was still earlier in the morning, and he hurried out of bed, determined to spend his day figuring out how to best end his comic in a satisfactory manner.
He rushed to his bathroom and combed his fingers through his hair, then stopped when he felt something solid. Something firm, yet a little mushy when he squished at it. A bug, perhaps? Had a bug crawled into his hair?
He almost panicked, but he picked the object out instead to examine it.
The rice Minhyuk had thrown at him.
Solid evidence in his hands that he had not been dreaming, that he had in fact visited his webtoon creation twice , and that he had talked with and laughed with someone who should be nothing more than a drawing on an art tablet.
“Oh my god,” he muttered when realization struck him that he had been strangely transported the past two nights into a world that ought not exist.
What the hell was he supposed to do now?
When he arrived in Minhyuk’s room for the third morning in a row, Minhyuk didn’t seem at all bothered. He was eating with someone else, who gave a start at Myungjun’s sudden appearance.
“Minhyuk!” the stranger exclaimed, scrambling to his feet. “A man just appeared in your bed!”
But Minhyuk only smiled warmly and greeted, “Good morning, Myungjun! This is General Moon. You do know so much about him, right?”
Myungjun, a bit disoriented, glanced between the two men. “I...ye-yes, I guess I do.”
Minhyuk pulled Moon Bin back down to the floor. “Bin, I’ve told you he exists. You simply don’t believe me sometimes.”
“How am I supposed to believe that a god visits you every single morning?” Bin complained, his eyes as wide as saucers as he looked upon Myungjun. “This is...this is abnormal, Minhyuk. Have you spoken to someone about this? Does your father know? Should you try killing this god, for what if he’s not a god but a ghost, or a spirit, or something that has come to harm you?”
“He drew me a lovely portrait of myself,” Minhyuk scoffed. “An evil being would not take the time to make me such a thoughtful gift.”
Myungjun swallowed thickly. He had been drawing a bit more of his webtoon, and he had stopped just as Moon Bin had visited Minhyuk in his home. He had no idea where to take the scene; part of him longed to force a break-up between his love interests. He was jealous of Moon Bin, jealous of his creation, and had thought about making Minhyuk single.
Of course, knowing now that his creations would suffer if he brought misfortune upon them, he could do little but try his best to ignore Moon Bin for the time being to focus solely on Minhyuk and his development.
Besides, if he were to write Moon Bin out of his webtoon, then what? Did he expect to fall in love with a drawing of his own creation? Did he expect Minhyuk to become available? What did he want?
Moon Bin eyed Myungjun suspiciously. He stammered out, “But that doesn’t mean anything. He could...he could still be evil. I’ll wager that he is evil, and is merely trying to gain your trust so he can later strike you down.”
Myungjun, wanting to defend himself, spoke up. “I’ve no reason to hurt Prince Park! Besides, I’ve already explained myself; I don’t know how I’m getting here or why I’m getting here. I’ve been trying to stop it, but...I dunno what’s going on.”
Still, despite his explanation, Moon Bin frowned and glanced at Minhyuk who shrugged his shoulders and gestured at the food spread out along a table.
“Would you like something to eat, Myungjun?”
“Um…” Myungjun glanced over at the food with interest. It wasn’t every day he was asked to eat at the table of someone who lived centuries ago and in an alternate reality. “Sure.”
Minhyuk made a place for him, and Myungjun scooted closer, where he picked up some chopsticks and examined the meal. It did look delicious, and if Minhyuk and Moon Bin were eating it, then he supposed it was safe enough.
Minhyuk sat down beside Myungjun and smiled proudly at Moon Bin.
“See? The god and I have befriended one another.”
“I’m not a god,” Myungjun mumbled, trying to avoid Bin’s distrustful gaze. “I’m a regular human.”
“Well, regular humans cannot travel in the past and claim to know facts about my life that the average person would never be privy to.”
Bin cocked his head. “What did he know, then?” he asked.
“He knew about you, for one, and I suppose a few people might know that, but Myungjun ought not be one of those people. He also knew exactly what we said to each other in that hospital tent, back when you were wounded.”
“Oh.” Bin narrowed his eyes. “So he has ears everywhere, then?”
Myungjun was quick to shake his head. “I...I only know it because I was the one who wrote that scene.”
“Yes, Minhyuk told me that you were an artist and that you claimed to have drawn us into existence.” With a snort, Bin shoveled some rice into his bowl. “It’s a ridiculous story. Minhyuk, I’m ashamed you believe it.”
Minhyuk shrugged. “I care not what you think, and I expect you know that by now.”
“You’re feisty.” Bin sighed and gestured toward Myungjun. “Let’s say I believe you. Let’s say you’re an artist from a different world and you were somehow summoned here. What do you plan to do, then, to stop from coming here?”
Myungjun swallowed some of the food. It definitely tasted different from what he was used to, but he quite liked it. It was richer, far more delicious, and he greedily grabbed more meat.
“I...I really don’t know. Minhyuk has helped me figure out how to return home, but I really don’t know how to stop from traveling here.”
“Interesting.” Bin raised his eyebrows. “Perhaps someone put a spell on you, then?”
“Magic isn’t real,” Myungjun countered. He ignored the way Minhyuk snorted and added, “Or, at least, it isn’t real in my world. It’s only real here.”
Minhyuk pursed his lips. “And you keep coming to my palace. Perhaps it’s possible, then, that someone here did some sort of spell and it inadvertently brought you here?”
Before Myungjun could answer him, Minhyuk asked, “You’ve said before that things you draw will then come true, correct?”
“Well...I don’t know the extent of that ability,” Myungjun admitted. “Things I’ve drawn are true in this world.” He chewed thoughtfully on a piece of meat and stared at Minhyuk, who, in turn, raised his eyebrows. “Wait a second. Are you implying that I might have drawn something that explains all of this?”
“Perhaps.” Minhyuk glanced over at Bin, who still seemed unsure, and added, “Perhaps you drew something that you don’t remember but it’s caused you to continue arriving here over and over again.”
It was a possibility, but Myungjun couldn’t remember anything specific that would explain away his time-and-universe-traveling abilities. He had been much more focused on detailing out the blooming romance between Minhyuk and Bin and wondering when he would allow them to confess. He had no time to write in a curse or a spell or anything of that nature.
“Maybe this man ought to go look for his drawings, then,” Bin muttered. “And leave us alone.”
Minhyuk rolled his eyes, exasperated. “Bin, please. Let’s not speak that way to one who might possibly be a god of some sorts.”
“He said already that he’s not a god.”
“I’m not,” Myungjun piped up. He set aside his chopsticks and cleared his throat. “But General Moon is absolutely correct; I shouldn’t stick around here for too long. The time continues flowing forward in my world, and I don’t wanna worry anyone by a lengthy absence.”
In response, Minhyuk nodded his head. “Then don’t mind us. You go back to sleep and then figure out the truth behind all of your traveling.”
Myungjun agreed, and with Bin still watching his every movement, he laid back down onto the sheets, back facing the prince and the general.
He hoped he could get to the bottom of this. He hoped he could figure it out.
Besides, the less he saw of the highly attractive and highly unattainable Minhyuk, the better his life would be.
“I really don’t see anything that could explain it,” Jinwoo stated after having read through Myungjun’s entire webtoon. “I looked and looked, but there was no mention of curses or spells, or anything that would force you to travel back in time every single night.”
Myungjun groaned. “Ugh, that’s what I had been afraid of. But it doesn’t make any sense! Why else would I travel to my own world if not because of my own doing?”
“Maybe it’s a hallucination?”
Myungjun glared at Jinwoo. “You saw me disappear.”
“Maybe it’s my hallucination, too. A shared hallucination, if you will.” Jinwoo offered a small smile, but it did not stop Myungjun’s frown. With a sigh, Jinwoo conceded, “Alright, yes; I did find it suspicious how you weren’t in bed but then walked out of your room just a minute after I had checked.”
“See?” Myungjun prompted. “Magic. Magic of my own doing.” He sighed as he continued to click through files on his laptop. “But maybe not in the books. Maybe somewhere else. But I don’t write anything about magic, and if I did, I doubt I would’ve made it such a weird spell.”
None of the chapters contained anything about a curse or a spell or even far into the future. There was nothing about traveling through time, nor anything about traveling through universes.
Which meant it was something not in any of the webtoons.
“Alright, let’s think,” he mumbled, leaning back in his chair. “It’s not in the webtoons, not in any of the comics, but it’s still likely something else I’ve drawn. Shit, I wish I had made copies of all the dumb artwork I send often to my fans.”
“Could it have been mentioned in your fanarts?” Jinwoo asked.
“Maybe. I dunno.”
Jinwoo gave a small hum and scrolled through the chapters of Myungjun’s webtoon. After a few seconds of silence, he commented, “You have rough drafts here.”
Myungjun looked over at him and blinked. “Rough drafts?”
“Yeah. Lots of things you’ve drawn that never made it into the actual webtoon. There’s a whole folder here, see?”
“A rough draft that never made it into the webtoon shouldn’t be the cause of my ability to travel through worlds,” Myungjun muttered, though he did abandon his phone to peer at his own laptop. Sure enough, there were definitely some drawings scattered about the folder of plot points he had never pursued, abandoned ideas that had been doomed to lay waste within the computer’s harddrive. Jinwoo clicked on a few of them in order to properly assess the scenes.
“Not this one,” he muttered, closing one that dealt with Minhyuk’s favorite jewelry. “It has to be something profound, something that definitely holds a clue.” He pointed at the thumbnail to one of the drawings and said, “I can already tell that your nasty smut scene isn’t the drawing that did this.”
With a blush on his face, Myungjun shoved at his best friend, who merely laughed and continued to scroll through the drawings. After a few minutes of scanning each and every document, Myungjun stopped him and pulled up one of the forgotten comics.
It was an older one, and it was clear to see why Myungjun had abandoned that particular plot point.
“I remember this,” Myungjun breathed. “It was a curse placed onto Minhyuk that decreed on his eighteenth birthday, he would be destroyed. See, I was going to have him work to break the curse by falling in love with someone, but it was so disgustingly cliched that I canned it.” He stared in wonder at the drawings, at the rough sketch of Minhyuk’s shocked expression and the despair of Minhyuk’s mother. “It’s a flashback scene, one that would explain a curse that would be brought up later, but I just...gave it up.”
Jinwoo pursed his lips. “You’re right,” he agreed. “It is pretty dreadful. Thank god you didn’t choose to go with this one.”
“But how come one of my rough ideas of a plot managed to manifest into reality?” Myungjun wondered as he clicked through several other drawings. “I mean, I’m sure that these other plots never did. A betrayal by Minhyuk’s friend, a stolen kiss from a peasant boy -- these were all ideas I never actually published.”
“Maybe they did happen,” Jinwoo pointed out. “Most everything here seems rather mundane; maybe it happened and you just don’t know about it. Have you asked Minhyuk?” Then, he sighed. “God, I can’t believe that I’m actually going along with this crazy story.”
Myungjun swiped at his shoulder. “Hey!” he barked. “You saw me disappear this morning. We’re in this together.”
Jinwoo grimaced. “I’m involved in some sort of magical curse that teleports my best friend to a fantasy location. This is...weird as fuck.”
But Myungjun didn’t choose to focus on the absurdity of the situation. He had already been given time for amazement and awe and confusion. He now had the reason as to why he was being teleported, but he didn’t have all of the answers. He needed more, and so the following morning, when he awoke in Minhyuk’s bedroom yet again, he was determined to learn how he could stop the strange phenomenon.
Minhyuk seemed prepared for his arrival. He smiled kindly at Myungjun and bowed his head. “Welcome, Semi-God,” he greeted.
“Semi-God?” Myungjun sat up in his bed. He wore jeans this time, having decided that he could handle the uncomfortable sleep if it meant he wasn’t in his silly pajamas. “Is that my new nickname?”
“Ah, well, I believe you are a god and you believe you are not a god. I figured this was a good compromise -- you can be a Semi-God.”
Myungjun frowned and shook his head. “I don’t really want to be called Semi-God . It sounds weird.”
“I’m terribly sorry, but that is what I will now call you and I’d prefer it if you pretended to like the name.”
Myungjun snorted and rolled his eyes, slightly amused by Minhyuk’s dry sense of humor. He truly had made a wonderful creation. The more time he spent in Minhyuk’s presence, the more he realized how much he was falling for him.
But a name wasn’t important at the moment. He had a mission to accomplish, and he could not waste any time.
“Minhyuk,” he started, and Minhyuk raised his eyebrows. “Sorry,” Myungjun apologized, then tried again. “Prince Park?”
“I was wondering if you’ve ever been betrayed by a friend. A close friend.”
Minhyuk’s gaze darkened a bit. “I thought you would know. You are, after all, a Semi-God and my creator. Didn’t you say whatever you’ve drawn has come true?”
“Yes, but these were just...these were drawings I did and then stuffed away! They weren’t meant to actually happen in this universe. I’m just trying to figure out how often my drawings come true in this world.”
“What do you mean by that?” Minhyuk asked, cocking his head in confusion. “You told me before you dictate my life, apparently, with your works. Is that not the case?”
Myungjun wasn’t quite sure how to answer that question. In fact, he wasn’t quite sure how to answer anything at all, for even he did not have the answers. He ran his fingers through his hair as he attempted to figure out just what the hell was going on.
“I drew some rather rough sketches of potential plot-lines for your story. I ended up not really liking these plots, so I stuffed them elsewhere. Apparently, though, they’ve all come true anyway. Anything I draw or write that takes place in this world I’ve created will then be applied to you.”
“Interesting,” Minhyuk stated, though he didn’t seem too concerned with this information. He simply shrugged his shoulders and added, “So then I guess I have no control?”
Was that true? If Minhyuk was doomed to abide by Myungjun’s drawings, then did he have no agency over his own life? But if that was the case, he wouldn’t be able to talk unprompted, undrawn, and unscripted. Perhaps he had some agency, then.
It was all quite confusing. Myungjun groaned a little and shook his head before remembering what he had also found within the folder on his laptop.
“Were you cursed?” he asked suddenly.
Minhyuk started a bit, then narrowed his eyes. “Ah. Yes. I was. I suppose that was your doing?”
“It…” Myungjun felt frantic and nervous. Had he doomed poor Minhyuk to be destroyed? And how would the curse ever come to fruition if Myungjun didn’t continue drawing the plot line? Was it voided, then?
No, it couldn’t have been. Minhyuk had just turned eighteen, based on the birthday Myungjun had created for him. On Minhyuk’s eighteenth birthday, Myungjun had appeared in his bedroom. The curse had to be connected to Myungjun’s appearances somehow.
Why wasn’t it broken with Moon Bin, though?
If Minhyuk had fallen in love with Moon Bin, then why was the curse still ongoing? Why did Myungjun still teleport into Minhyuk’s palace every single morning? And was his being here a threat to Minhyuk’s existence?
When Minhyuk received no answer to his question, he said, “Then it was your doing. So you’ve cursed me.”
“I drew that before I ever met you and knew you were real!” Myungjun assured. “Besides, it was never meant to be included in my story.”
“Well, it was. I’m still waiting for the curse to take me. So far it has yet to do so; perhaps the curse does not work after all.”
“But it does. It brought me here for some reason.”
“The curse dictates my life be destroyed; I don’t think you would destroy my life. In fact,” Minhyuk smiled a bit and he looked gentle and calm and sweet. Myungjun’s heart beat stupidly in his chest, and he tried to remind himself how horrible of an idea it would be to fall in love with someone who was technically fake and non-existent.
“I think,” Minhyuk continued, “that you bring a bit more joy to my hum-drum life.”
Myungjun wondered if his face was flushed. He felt flushed. How the hell could his creation say such lovely things to him and not expect him to fall in love? Dammit, he should’ve given Minhyuk a hunched back or else a horrid personality so as to not become romantically attracted to him.
At least he had confirmation that the fangirls of his webtoon had reason to obsess over Minhyuk.
Myungjun cleared his throat, hoping to not seem too flustered, though Minhyuk only smiled knowingly.
“The curse is broken by true love,” Myungjun pointed out, trying not to meet Minhyuk’s gaze. “So...so it should be broken now, since I know you and Moon Bin are falling in love.”
Minhyuk’s smile faltered a bit and he pursed his lips. “Perhaps,” he muttered, “or perhaps we’re not as in love as you might think.”
“That’s not possible,” Myungjun argued. “I drew you. I brought Moon Bin in to be your love interest. I...I know the two of you are in love. There’s no way you aren’t .”
“It would be rather silly of me to fall in love with a soldier, let alone a general. In these bloody times, there’s no guarantee he’ll ever make it out of the next battle alive.” Minhyuk held a wistful expression on his face, as if remembering better times. “In the future, perhaps, if he is no longer a general, then maybe...though it’s not very responsible of me to fall in love with a man. I’ll anger the rest of my family. I’ll anger the nation if they are to ever find out.” He eyed Myungjun suspiciously and added, “I hope you have not devised some ridiculous plot where my secret is revealed and I am publicly humiliated.”
Myungjun was quick to shake his head. “Oh, no, I wouldn’t do that. I’m just...I wrote Moon Bin in as your love interest. You two have romantic feelings for one another. He loves you and you love him -- that’s the way it is in my webtoon.”
“So you’re saying, then, that I have finally differed from how you’ve created me?” Minhyuk inquired.
That was exactly it, wasn’t it? Minhyuk wasn’t fully in love with Moon Bin. That was the opposite of Myungjun’s intentions. How had that happened? How had Minhyuk strayed from the official plot, especially when everything else remained the same? Why was Myungjun’s rough draft coming true but his official draft was being deemed irrelevant? It made absolutely no sense, and Myungjun felt his mind struggling to piece together this strange puzzle he had been given.
“Don’t think too hard on it,” Minhyuk warned him. “I don’t think it’s that important.”
“How can it not be important?” Myungjun asked, feeling a bit frantic. “This isn’t how things are supposed to go! You’re supposed to love Moon Bin!”
“I don’t feel as if I’m supposed to do anything. I’m my own person, aren’t I?” Minhyuk gestured between the two of them and clarified, “I mean, I understand many of my own actions are being controlled by a Semi-God--”
“I’m not a Semi-God,” Myungjun grumbled.
Minhyuk ignored him, “My actions are definitely being controlled by a Semi-God, but that’s why you’re only a Semi -God. You are not yet a full God, and until then, I guess I can break away from some of your commands.”
But that wasn’t entirely accurate. Myungjun was not a god, but he was the creator of Minhyuk’s comic. How could his creation break from him so easily?
Unless Minhyuk was lying.
“Are you sure you don’t love him?” Myungjun asked, feeling unconvinced. “Or are you pretending that you don’t.”
“Look at me,” Minhyuk said, pointing at his own face. “Do I look like someone who would play pretend to you?”
Myungjun knew very well what Minhyuk looked like, and he also knew that Minhyuk was someone who was mostly serious and hardly ever devolved into mockery or deception. Minhyuk had been made to be brutally honest and straightforward. Myungjun, who was too nice to be honest and liked to beat around the bush, had always found Minhyuk’s character to be a refreshing example of a desirable human being. Minhyuk was stern and got to the point. He smiled little and kept his humor to a minimal, aside from several rude remarks here and there. He had a lovely poison tongue, but a soft side he showed to those he loved.
But if he was not following Myungjun’s instructions on love, then perhaps his entire personality was actually different from what Myungjun had intended for it to be.
Maybe he was lying.
He had to be lying.
“I should...I should get back to my own place,” Myungjun muttered. “I need to check for discrepancies.”
He thought he could detect a brief flash of sadness. It hardly appeared, however; Myungjun decided he had imagined it, especially after Minhyuk shrugged his shoulders in casual acceptance.
“Lay down, then, my dear Semi-God. Dream well and return to your own time. Maybe you can create for me an interesting and non-dangerous scenario, hm?”
“Is this not interesting enough for you?” Myungjun teased.
“A Semi-God appearing to me every single morning and expressing worry that I have not fallen in love with a war-hungry general?” Minhyuk did finally crack a small smile. “Well, I suppose it’s interesting enough for the time being. I’m excited to see what you come up with next.”
Myungjun swallowed back his sudden emotions of love and desire. No, he couldn’t long for the affections of someone he created. He had to tell himself that constantly, and yet those feelings persisted.
“Right,” he mumbled, flopping over onto the bed and squeezing his eyes shut as tightly as they would go in an attempt to rid his mind of all ridiculous and nonsensical feelings. “I’ll see you tomorrow, I guess?”
There was a beat of silence before Minhyuk murmured, “I hope.”
Right. It would be impossible now for Myungjun to ever deny his feelings.
He was certain he was falling in love with Minhyuk.